Friday, March 25, 2011

Monster Mouse

I had this really amazing post all written up. I came home to do some editing, and the post was gone. Only the title and the last couple of paragraphs remain. I may have to start the stabbity-stabby-stab-stab on the Blogger editor.

Since there is no way to rewrite it and have it be anywhere as awesome as it was before, I have been trying to figure out what to write about since the previous story has been RUINED and I do not wish to think of it again.


But I do have good news. I am getting out of town for a brief vacation. I am heading to New Orleans.

I planned this a month ago, but I think I didn't really believe it. I thought something would come up, and I would be stuck in my sad little world of gray cubicles until my spirit broke. But I'm going. Tonight.

And just because you know I am going to be out of town you can't go to my house and throw a party. Or rob me. The house is not completely without security. My cats will get you.

Here is a quick anecdote about when I lived there.

You're welcome.

When I first moved to New Orleans, I was living with my sister and friend in Mid City.  We lived a couple blocks from City Park, and about the same distance from the streetcar line.  I knew that riding the buses was faster, but since I can get lost in a closet and the streetcars are on these set rails with limited range for driving me off into the land of the lost, I preferred the streetcars.

City Park
 I was coming home from work one night, and I may have had a drink or two- not that that has anything whatsoever to do with what happened next, but... Well.  Anyway.  I was coming home from work one night.

It was raining slightly, and the streets were shiny and I was still in the wonderland phase of living in New Orleans.  I still couldn't believe I had actually done it, and moved.  And gotten a job.  And a house.  It was insane.  I never did anything, and then I just up and moved a thousand miles for no good reason.  It was awesome.

Anyway, I was walking home in the drizzle.  I had just reached my street when I glanced towards the park and saw something.

Sure, it was dark.  Yes, it was also raining.  I will admit that I also only saw it out of the corner of my eye, and by the time I turned, it was over.

What happened was something that was vaguely upright, roughly the size of a child, had dropped to all fours, and then ... sort of... melted into the storm drain about a block away.

I ran home and burst through the door.  "I just saw my first New Orleans vampire!" I squealed.  I was terribly, terribly excited.

Fast forward a few weeks, and my sister and I were walking in City Park.  We heard a splash, and I was all, "Gators?".

Then we saw this:
That isn't an alligator.
Was it an otter?  What was that thing?  I walked to the edge of the water, it saw me and turned.

It saw us and started swimming closer.
That wasn't an otter.

What this was was a 4 foot long rat with bright orange teeth.  And it was swimming towards us.

Hell yes, we ran.
So, what I probably saw that night was not a vampire, but one of these orange teethed monsters, also known to the locals as a "nutria".

(These photos were taken with my crappy first digital camera that is not as good as most modern phone cameras in 2005)

I would also like to note that there are many, many more memorable moments from my time in New Orleans, but this was the first one that came to mind.

P.S. I know I said I would be out of town, but if you SPAM my site while I am gone, I will track you down and kick you in the house and burn down your face.  I mean it!

P.P.S.  This isn't to discourage you from posting a comment.  I love comments.  It is the only validation I have in my life.  Please please please affirm my awesomeness.

P.P.P.S. OK, that sounded desperate.  Totally post something if you want to or have something to say.  No obligation.

P.P.P.P.S. And I know you're probably stuck at work and all that, so please feel free to envy my mini-vacation.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coors Extra Sooty

First of all, I would like to apologize for writing this.  No really.  Sorry.

Someone needs to tell Colorado to stop catching fire. It isn't even fire season yet, and the whole place is burning down. There's currently a huge fire down near Golden. I fear for the Coors factory.

It has been a really stressful two weeks at work, too. I find myself having work dreams. At night. I am not dreaming at work.

I really, really hate it. I wake up and my arms ache from filling out Excel spreadsheets while I'm sleeping, and I feel like I have a million more things to do before I can shower.

I need to figure out how to bill this crap to work.

Anyway, I have been having some real doozies lately, but since hearing about dreams is about as exciting as having a root canal, I will refrain. Not only are they all complicated and illogical, but they didn't really happen, so who would want to read it?

This is totally a short story, not a dream, so that makes it better. Seriously.

You don't have to thank me.

A Short Story about Work (and Totally NOT the Dream I had Last Night)

So, I was sitting in my cubicle working when the phone rang.

"Hi," I said, all perky-like, "This is Leauxra."

It was my boss in another state.  "Hi Leauxra, I need you to drop everything and work on a VERY IMPORTANT PROJECT RIGHT NOW."

At that moment, the fire alarm went off and there was smoke everywhere.  "I'm sorry, sir," I said, "There's a fire.  I need to evacuate the building."  There was screaming in the background.

Boss:  "No.  This is more important."

Me:  "More important than my life?"

Boss:  "Yes."

Me:  "..."

Boss:  "Millions will die if you don't do this.  That Japan thing?  It will look like a nice day if you don't get this done."

Me:  "Um... OK?  What is it?"

Boss:  "I need you to organize this spreadsheet."

Me: "..."

Boss:  "I sent the file over.  Some really disorganized people will be sending you updates and it's your job to keep everything in order.  Every time you mess up, someone will die a grisly death."

Me:  "Um... there's a lot of smoke."

Boss:  "Just be happy you have a job!"

Me:  "Can't you send this to someone who is not inside a burning building?"

Boss:  "Everyone else is busy."  And then he hung up on me.

I cussed a little bit.  OK, a lot.  Really loud.  But I figured it was OK because everyone else was out of the building.  

Or not.

Over my cubicle wall I hear, "QUIET!  You'll WAKE IT UP!"

Not wanting to know what I wasn't supposed to wake up, I opened the file.

It was a spreadsheet.

No, it was madness.  Not only did the fonts not match at all, but the formatting looked like it was done by a 4th grader with ADD.  The columns were fuchsia and teal, with orange and yellow text, sometimes light green on a dark green background... and it was moving.  It was Tetris and Minesweeper plus addition columns that didn't add up and vLookups that were referencing something that looked like the little scrolly lettery things in the Matrix.  In the top corner, I noticed a little red number that said, "Totals" and it kept climbing.  I realized this was how many people had died.

I coughed and tried to concentrate.  My eyes were watering, maybe from the smoke, maybe from the atrociously poor organizational skills.  And I really really had to pee. The crackle of the flames was getting closer.

Some time later, and not because I woke up briefly to use the restroom, but after the time where I was amazing and fixed everything...

I called my boss.  My cubicle was covered in burn marks, and I could hear people crying.  An EMT team passed by with a guy from one of the testing labs.

My boss didn't answer.  Instead, a woman picked up the phone.

Her:  "Oh, sorry, I guess we forgot to tell you.  Your boss has been laid off.  I am your new boss."

Me:  "Oh.  I... um... Hi."

Her:  "Hello."

Me:  "So, anyway.  I fixed that file that he sent me.  No one has died in like 20 minutes."

Her:  "That was hours ago.  What have you done for me today?"

Me:  "I'm sorry?  I assumed that since I put my life on the line and everything that I would get some kind of raise, or even a promotion."

Her:  "We are all aware of how awesome you are, but the Company is not in any position to give out raises or promotions right now."

Me:  "Great."

I was quiet for a moment.

Her:  "Was there anything else?"

Me:  "Uh, actually, yeah.  Since you are my new boss, I guess I should make sure you know I will be leaving early on Friday, and won't be back until Wednesday.  I'm going on vacation."

Her:  "That's a problem.  You need to clear this kind of thing with me at least a month in advance."

Me:  "I cleared it with my old boss.  I am getting on an airplane."

Her:  "Fine, you can go, but we are going to give you a pay-cut."

Me:  "What?  That's... damnit!  No!"

Her:  "Those are the rules.  My hands are tied."

Me:  "I think I might have just quit."

If this had been a dream, this is the point where my raised blood-pressure and sweaty palms woke me up five minutes before my alarm went off.

Yes. I may need a change of venue for a few days.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Stop Looking at Me

Sometimes, I get randomly paranoid.

Not the kind of paranoid where you assume that every human-sounding voice that you can almost-but-not-quite hear is talking about you because they hate you, or maybe just think you're a dork or something and are planning to give you a wedgie later or at the very least say unkind things about you.

No, that kind of paranoia makes work hell because I constantly hear my name in not-quite audible conversations as I sit in my depression-cube every time I get anxious about anything, but it isn't what I'm talking about.  That's my normal paranoia.

What I'm talking about is the paranoia that really has no justifiable reason (because at work they ARE talking about me, those jerks, when they aren't laughing at me or discussing comic books.)

What I mean by randomly paranoid is much worse.

For example, I can be quietly sitting in the basement living room, minding my own business ALL ALONE, when I realize I'm worried about what the ghosts think about me. I'm not worried that there are ghosts in my house (they're THERE, I tell you, my cats can see them), but that the ghosts might be judging me.  Like I'm not good enough to haunt or something.

Or I can be outside in the evening, looking at stars, and start getting worried about what's looking back at me, and whether said alien or whatever thinks of me as a sentient being, or just a hairless ape to capture and put in a zoo... which might be OK if it meant I could travel in space to another planet, unless they tried to feed me Hot Pockets for the rest of my life.  There had better be some Cocoa Pebbles and milk, too. It would be horrible if they tried to get me to sustain life with VEGETABLES.



Like every inanimate object is looking at me and planning to put a "kick me" sign on my back.

Shut up, flowers!  I know you're making fun of me!

I hear you snickering, you stupid trees!

STOP LOOMING, CLOUDS!  You're invading my space!

Um... you don't know what I'm talking about?  Er.  It can't be just me.  I am not a freak!  Stop making fun of me!  I have PROOF!

Proof is in the pictures.

I was looking through some old photos, trying to come up with another BRILLIANT blog topic, when I started seeing them.  Again.  I mean, I knew they were there, but I forgot.

I call them the "faces in the water".  I am sure they move when you're not looking.

Example 1:
Seems like an ordinary picture of some swamp, right? But if I turn it 90 degrees, and zoom in....
 Example 2:

When I look at this picture, I know there is something wrong.  What is it?

Oh, I know.  It's freaking staring.
Wait, there's more than one!
There's actually dozens, in this picture alone!

Example 3:  Closer to home...

Here is a photo in Loveland off the bike trail.  Just a normal late winter day...
They're always watching.

Usually, I try to read blogs so that I can be all, "That person is WAY crazier than me.  And meaner.  At least I am not THEM."  

But what if I am the crazy blogger that people read to feel better about themselves?

On the plus side, none of these faces has tried to eat me.  Yet.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Combat Crochet

I am not the most graceful of human beings. 

Case and point:

I decided to crochet a balaclava.

The finished piece and matching mitts that I did a year or two ago.

I am not some expert crocheter that can whip out an afghan in and hour or a scarf in 20 minutes.  I can't read crochet instructions.  At.  All.  It is like trying to read tax code or legalese, or some of the emails I receive from clients that don't actually speak English but use Google translate.  It looks like I should be able to read them, they use the Latin alphabet.... but there is no meaning whatsoever, and if I try too hard my brain explodes.

But I know one stitch.  Sort of.  I'm not even sure if it's an official crochet stitch.  But I can add and remove stitches on the fly, and make really neato things like hats and gauntlets and scarves.  Most of what I make is a "snowflake".  Un-repeatable.  Completely unique.

Yeah.  Balaclava.  It seemed like a good idea.  I mean, seriously, what could go wrong?  If it was too hideous, I could just pull out the stitches and do something else.  And if it worked, I would have an awesome balaclava for my winter sports.

If you don't know, a balaclava is like a hat, but really long, so you can pull it down to cover your face.  Usually, you leave eye holes, otherwise I think it's just a sack.  Think "terrorist in a bad 80's movie", and that's it.

Me doing my best "80's terrorist B Movie" impression.

I decided to just leave a big hole for the eyes so I could put a baseball cap underneath for a brim, and pull my face out all the way for eating and drinking, and I left a hole in the back for my pony-tail.

Pony tail hole.

Since I don't usually set aside time to crochet, I carried the thing around with me, and would work on it after dinner when everyone was hanging out talking,  or while watching TV.

I was working working working.  The thing was coming together really fast.  I realized that I was going to have to take it in a little along the bottom, so it would fit snug across my face.  I assumed my stitch would be stretchy enough to compensate for the narrowing.

I kept testing it.  I would stitch a few rows, stop, pull it over my head, then take it off again and keep going.  I noticed it was getting a little tight, so I stopped reducing the stitches, and did a few more rows, and tried it on again.

Somehow.... I managed to punch myself in the face while trying it on. 

Seriously.  Right in the nose.

I blinked through the stars and tears in my eyes, and squeezed the thing on to show everyone. "See?" I said, "Isn't it awesome?"  I was pretty impressed I could talk without a voice quaver.

Maybe if I wear sunglasses, no one will see me cry.

I don't know what they thought.  I couldn't hear them over the blood rushing to my ears as I worked through the pain.  The weight of the material on my nose was ridiculous.  I pulled the thing off again and kept working, thinking that my nose thing would be like a stubbed toe and the pain would fade out.

It wasn't.

Three days later, it still hurt to touch.  It was like I had been in a bar fight, only without drinking and no bruise.  And no jail time.

I think I may have broken my nose crocheting.  How many people can say that?

OK, I guess I was exaggerating.  It wasn't actually broken.