Guitar-Corset Friday (?)

Somewhere in time, Casey, over at the Anthologies of Awesome, suggested we have a “Guitar Friday”… perhaps a variant on “Corset Friday”, held at the one and only gimcrack hospital.  In the spirit of the incredible edible nursemyra, along with my desire to show off my new Gibson, here’s a go at “Guitar-Corset Friday”. 

And once again, for those of you scouting candidates for the Mother of the Year?  Move along… there’s nothing to see here…

guitarfriday3guitarfriday2guitarfriday4

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Little Chickens – Part Deux

Another day in The Park.   i’m drinking.  Just a little… Ok.  Perhaps a little bit more than a little…

Time for Momma’s check up with her smokin’ hot sex kitten of a cardiologist today – which went very well!  The painfully gorgeous Dr. M pronounced Mom heart-healthy, and as always, took time to chat with her, tell her how beautiful she looked, and generally fussed over her*.   All’s well in Cardio-Town!

Then it was off to the bank to rock the markets.  Last week, Mom mentioned that her “investment fund”-based retirement account was performing terribly, and that the balance had dropped from $90K in 2005 to about $60K this week.  She’s been losing sleep over this, and given dire predictions about the continuing recession, she wanted to move it all out and put it in lower risk certificates of deposit (CDs).

i advised her that it might make sense to let it ride – that we were either at, or approaching, bottom and that with a couple years patience, it would possibly recover.  That, and the fact that there is nowhere else to put it to grow, the best she could hope for was to cut her losses.  She went to the bank in November, intending to cut losses on this account.  At that time the value was around $77K.  She was angry with the financial advisers who talked her into letting it ride as the market continued to plummet.  When i suggested that given two years, it would likely stabilize Mom – now 80 years old – reminded me that she might not have a couple years…

She informed me that she’d spoken with my sister, T – the business professor – earlier in the week, and that T had advised her to pull her money from all investment funds.  Not only that, but to hide at least a years worth of cash in her mattress.  T, of course, has solid connectivity to several economics professors, and their predictions were apparently dire.  Seemed like pretty grim advice** to me… and it surprised me that T would take such a position.  But she’s the one in the know…

Against intuition, i steeled myself to do battle with these financial bullies.  She wants to cut her losses and rest easier.  My job was to let them know that by giving her shit advice, the poor woman was losing sleep, and it was affecting her health… i even considered smudging some mascara under her eyes to enhance the impact.  Momma wanted her money out of the market.  She was counting on me to get it done…

We went through a similar panic drill last summer.  Mom was reassured about her investments – which were fully insured by the FDIC should the banks go tits up.  She’s repeatedly told me that she’s counting on me to provide financial advice, since i’m the only functional member of the family i have durable power of attorney.  But it seemed that all she really wanted today was back-up – her mind was made up.

We arrived at the bank.  My brain cells began to escape my skull via my earholes within 10 minutes… 

The first revelation from the finance manager?  Mom has withdrawn cash from this account for 3 years.  Almost $20K in equal quarterly disbursements.  Momma kinda failed to mention this… She’d been using this retirement account – which was set up as her long term nest egg – to augment her pension and pay her monthly bills.  That’s fine, but it certainly affects the “loss math” just a touch.  She’d only lost about $10K over 3 years.  Not great, but i have friends who can blow that much in a single night at the black jack tables and booby-bars in Vegas.

My second surprise?  The financial manager asked why she was liquidating her “long term” IRA, while leaving her low-interest money market CASH account untouched.  The one with an assload of money in it.  Earning perhaps 1% interest.  Which i had never heard about until today.  He also mentioned the large sum in mid-term certificate of deposits…

daisyfae:  Momma?  i didn’t know about these accounts… Ummm…that sort of changes the situation a bit.

Mom:  Well, i don’t want anyone knowing where all my money is… You can’t really trust anyone these days.

daisyfae: [steam slowly escaping from ears and nostrils, with lip firmly clenched between teeth]  Momma, if i don’t know what you’ve got, i can’t give you good advice, now can i?

Going over the math several times, it became clear that with the cash account, she’ll have 10 years of withdrawals at her fingertips.  And adding in the CD’s?  Another 10 years.  That gets her to 100 years old – so long as her expenses don’t increase dramatically.  i helpfully pointed out that if you pretend like the long term stuff isn’t there?  She’s still fine!

In fact, she should probably up her spending!  The goal is for her last check to bounce.  i even helpfully suggested that she needed to spend more time at the regional casinos, and consider hiring a hot male stripper/nurse to attend to her needs. 

At the end of the day came my favorite revelation.  As we settled in the car and headed off for some grocery shopping, she lobbed this little offhand comment at me:

Mom:  Well, I sort of wondered if T was drunk when I talked to her last week.  You know how she gets really loud, and swears a lot when she’s been drinking?

daisyfae: [sound of head exploding goes here]

it's very difficult to drive when your head explodes.  makes talking on a cellphone look like a cakewalk...

It's very difficult to drive when your head explodes. Makes talking on a cellphone look like a cakewalk...

*This is why i absolutely adore Dr. M…. Not just because she is stunning and smart.  Really.

** and completely out of alignment with any advice i’ve gotten from wealthy smart friends….

Passing the torch

Perhaps the best part of my job is the opportunity to mentor “young ‘uns” in the organization.  My career path hasn’t followed any prescribed path – mostly improvisational dance with loads of energy*.  Despite no serious attempt on my part to “advance”, i’ve done pretty well.  Especially considering that i was voted “Most Likely To Be Found Dead in a Gutter” in the informal poll of my high school class. 

Got this from one of the members of the local “Junior Engineer-Force” council last week:

SUBJ:  Opportunity to Influence the Minds of the Young

As part of our monthly meetings, we try to give members a sense of what it takes to make it as a successful employee in the organization, and what to expect from a variety of career paths.  We’ve hosted members from organizational senior leadership at our meetings for informal chats.  I’m trying to be selective about the people we ask so that we don’t just get “the line”.  I feel that your frankness in these matters makes your perspective particularly valuable.    Typically they are around a ‘brown bag’ lunch on the first Wednesday of the month.  The next opportunities are March 4th, April 1st (seems fitting) and May 5th.

Needless to day, i chose April Fool’s Day for this particular event.  i look forward to warping impressionable young minds.  And free cookies…

Beyond the workplace, i also coach and mentor my own spawn.  The Girl has been buried under a ridiculous workload as she careens toward the end of the semester and is trying to knock out enough credits to secure her dual major.  With massive reading/writing assignments, final exams lurking and classroom presentations hanging over her head, she’s been operating under pressure and sleep deprivation**.

This afternoon she called on her way to class – dreading giving her portion of a team presentation.  She’d been up most of the night, and seemed a bit rattled.  Rather than just cheer her on, more guidance seemed in order.  So, i dug deep into my slacker psyche and pulled out one of my favorite tactics for presentations/performances:

focus on your intro and your closing!  if you open and close strong, you’re more likely to make them forget everything in the middle.

Which is a lesson i learned in 5th grade.  Clarinet*** solo.  This is the first year i’d been playing, mind you, but the music teacher told me she wanted me to do a solo at the Spring concert.  i said “whatever” when she gave me the music.  And promptly ignored it, never practiced it, and never bothered to get together with the music teacher to let her know i hadn’t bothered… 

On the day of the Spring concert?  We’re all on stage, and i’ve completely forgotten about the solo.  She has one kid do a trumpet solo.  Then we go on with another painfully executed ensemble number.  i’m in shock when she calls my name.  In front of every student, teacher, janitor, child molester and rat in the elementary school.  Finding the piece in the back of my music folder, i strode confidently up to the front of the stage.  Shitting my pants****. 

She started playing the piano accompaniment – which i’d never heard before.  i can barely read music – i’m 10 years old.  So i just dived in – i sight-read the first line of the piece, playing it when it seemed like a good spot.  i repeated this phrase – getting stronger with repetition – until the music changed.  And i just stopped playing.  Rather than run off the stage, humiliated, i dodged it…. by looking over at the piano teacher and acting as though i was waiting for her “solo”. 

When the phrasing sounded about right again i dropped back to the intro phrase, and just repeated it until the merciful end.  i knew i screwed the pooch.  The music teacher knew i screwed the pooch.  Perhaps 10 adults in the audience were writhing in pain during this event because they’d figured it out… But the rest of the school was just tired of sitting there, throwing spit balls or excavating the inner reaches of their nostrils.  And no one really cared…

Faking it.  The next best thing to actually preparing…

And for my next trick, i'm going to look competent!

And for my next trick, i'm going to look competent!

* Before i burnt out and gave up on my plot to take over the universe…

** Unlike her mother, the kid has high standards.  She isn’t comfortable turning in shitty papers, or operating at less than “stellar” when it comes to her writing (Arabic or English).

*** Yep.  Clarinet.  There go any remaining “cool” points i may have scored with my readers (sigh).

**** Figuratively speaking. No, i wasn’t *THAT* kid…

Sock? Meet Mr. Doorknob…

When not slaving away in school, The Boy (now 20) spends a lot of time in the Barbie Party Cave.  And usually, he brings a pesky sk8r boy infestation along with him.  We pretty much do our own thing, and he’s learned how to stay out from underfoot*, but there have been recent incidents that highlight our changing circumstances…

~~~~~

Incident 1:  The Boy has been reliable about getting the trash collected and out to the curb on Sunday nights.  This is a good thing, as most of the trash is generated by his troop as they wear down the felt of my pool table, fart on my couch and assure that my downstairs theater room reeks of “Eau de Sk8r Punk”.

One recent Sunday, he arrived home around 10pm to take care of this duty – accompanied by one of his female friends.  Unfortunately, he’d failed to follow our recently established protocol and call/text to let me know he’d be returning.  And i failed to remember it was Sunday night…

As he came in through the garage door, i was sitting on the couch with a friend.  We were debating the merits of rearranging the living room furniture – arguing about life, the universe and tapestry placement while swilling beer.  i was wearing my jammies, and my friend was clad in his boxers.  My legs were draped across his lap, and his long legs perched on the coffee table. 

To someone entering the house from the garage – as The Boy just had – it certainly would appear as though my friend was naked.  Heading down the stairs, frantically averting his eyes, The Boy mentioned that it might be nice for me to have sent a text, letting him know i was ‘entertaining’… He kept mumbling as he went down the stairs. 

His admonishment continued as he came back upstairs, hauling trash – while facing the wall.  He proceeded to remind me once again that i could have shown the courtesy of sending a text… keeping his back to us from the kitchen the entire time.

Later that evening, i sent a text.

daisyfae:  He was wearing boxers!  Sorry about that.  He offered to stand up to show you – thought better of that.

The Boy:  That’s ok.  Don’t really expect to come home and find a naked Irishman on the couch.  Text msg works.

~~~~~

Incident 2:  Returning late from a business trip, i found The Boy and his friends playing pool and drinking beer downstairs.  After recovering from my shock**, i was introduced to a new member of the tribe, Amber.  i excused myself for bed, reminding The Boy that the party needed to get quiet, since i have this pesky “job thing” to deal with starting at 0600 every morning… They got quiet.  i passed out.

The next morning, i went downstairs to reboot the home electronics system.  i noticed an extra pair of  shoes outside the door of the downstairs bedroom.  Girl shoes.  Next to a pair belonging to The Boy.  When we crossed paths later that evening, i casually commented about Amber staying over…

The Boy:  It wasn’t Amber

daisyfae:  Who was it?

The Boy:  Nunia…

daisyfae: Nunia?  Who’s Nunia?

The Boy:  Nunia Business…

~~~~~

i suppose we could revert to the ol’ “sock on the door”.  Or something much less subtle, like this.  Thinking i gotta get me one of those gizmos…

Sock it to me, baby...
Sock it to me, baby…

* Survival skills are strong in both of my sprogs… Reading my mood has saved lives.  Namely theirs….

** Stunned, shocked and amazed to find a pack of young ‘uns playing pool when i came home at 11:30 pm.  Never, ever happens… Unh uh… No way!  Alert the media…

Beer Bunghole…

Playing “Beer Bingo” with friends at the local pub has become more than a quest – it’s therapeutic, and a very necessary coping mechanism to get me through the week.  Closing in on our goal of drinking our way through the 55 beers, we’re now staring down some  of the more exotic ales and tinctures of yeast.

Even after battling delayed flights and arriving two hours later than expected, i raced to the pub to pound a few pints press ever onward toward my goal.  Going through my beer bingo card mostly alphabetically systematically, i was staring down a gnarly “Old Peculiar”.  Blechhh… tried it once before, and it tastes like butt.  Decided to press onwards and just get the damn thing out of the way.

Imagine my delight when our server informed me that they had replaced it with something else… i’m sure he told me about the replacement, but i was so happy to be spared a pint of Armpit Ale that i ordered up… and gloated to my pals that the Peculiar Plague had passed by my door!

Turns out?  Hen’s Tooth Conditioned Ale – which must ferment on the fly – tastes like sweat socks, marinated under the ballsack of a Devonshire ploughman.   

The humor works on so many levels...

The humor works on so many levels...

Indecent exposure

A Message To The Workshop Dorkboys, meeting in Fort Myers, Florida:

Seriously.  Dudes… Have you never read Sherlock Holmes?  CLEARLY i’m coming in from the pool, as evidenced by my swimsuit, sandals and sarong.  Never mind that my hair looks like a dust devil surrounding my head…

So, as i come into the lobby and make a beeline for the fucking elevator?  It’s not a good time to say “Hey, do you have a minute to chat about Program X?” 

And you, Dude B?  When you see me backing away from  Dude A, trying to get to the elevator as i’m clutching my sarong around my nekkid shoulders?  This is also NOT A GOOD TIME to introduce yourself and say “Hi, I’m Hieronymus Oblivious from TurdTech, Unlimited… aren’t you daisyfae?  You’re on the panel tonight, right?”

i’m half naked.  i have no make up on my face.  i have hair like a hurricane.  We are in a hotel lobby, teeming with conference dweebs.  i don’t wanna chat… Your sorry ass is between me and the elevator.  Fucking move, alright?

Finally, Dickbreath J. Arrogance.  i hired you.  You have personally witnessed numerous daisyfae-fits over the past 6 years.  You know i have low tolerance for assault in public places.  Standing there – being useless while i try to extract myself from conversation with Dr. Oblivious was bad enough.  Tailing my virtually naked ass to the elevator and asking programmatic advice as i dive on the buttons?  No fucking help, dude…

Slow News Day in Geek Town

Slow News Day in Geek Town

Airline Etiquette

Read the fine print on your next airline ticket.  There’s a lot of it.  These are the written rules of modern airline travel… short version:  the airlines aren’t responsible if shit goes wrong – suck it up.

As if these weren’t enough?  There are the verbal instructions we get from gate agents and flight attendants!  “Board only when your zone is called”.  “Don’t you listen?  I said sit down and shut the fuck up – we’re not boarding yet!” and “Please put your seat back in it’s upright, locked and most uncomfortable position….”.

There are also unwritten rules.  Polite travelers – hell, polite humans – just know these things.  One that i abide by – not only in the interest of karma – is that the person in a middle seat has rights to BOTH middle armrests.  They’ve already drawn the short straw by being in a middle seat, so the least that can be done if for the window and aisle passengers to cede this often disputed territory to the monkey in the middle.

Outbound yesterday, en route to my latest adventure in drunkeness and debaucheryanother gruelling business trip, i had a window seat.   Row 42 of a Boeing 757* SardineLiner.  On a completely full flight, i was certain that there would be no vacant middle seat – and my seat mate arrived just prior to the door closing. 

She was a youngish thing – pony-tailed and carrying a lot of crap.  Took her awhile to stow her gear, but she tucked into her seat, and i curled up against the window.  i was soundly asleep before we even took off…

Until the gymnastics started.  As i stated above, i’m quite willing to concede the armrest territory.  i am NOT, however, willing to extend that turf 4″ into my personal space.  i was awakened by her elbows about 10 minutes into the flight.  Popping on my headphones, i re-settled myself and hoped she was settled in as well.

Nope.  The next thing to come my way was her pillow.  The goofy kid was trying to sleep in a middle seat, and had her left leg up and over the other armrest, a foot pushed against the back of the seat in front of her, and her head within inches of mine.  If this were a long haul flight, i’d be a bit more sympathetic – but it was a fucking HOUR!  You can’t sit upright and stay awake for an HOUR? 

More aggravating?  She kept sighing and re-adjusting herself – such an invonvenience to be stuck in a middle seat.  Poor dear.  Sucks to be her.  Especially when i took back my armrest. 

Trying to sleep sideways in the narrow seat of a 757?   Not a good idea unless you can put your feet behind your head, honey…

You ought to see what i can do on a regional jet, baby!

You ought to see what i can do on a regional jet, baby!

*One of my least favorite planes – crowded, uncomfortable seats.  Although these days, a plane that gets successfully from point a to point b is winning my crusty travel heart…

Sweet Emotion

Another year, another Valentine’s Day… Hate it.

Last year?  i was annoyed by the unwanted affection of a creepy guitarist in the ensemble for Hair.  As the elder-stateswoman of the tribe during the Be-In, he decided i was the safest target.  He was a 50-something postal worker, and the rest of the cast were 20- and 30-somethings.  He was quite seriously wrong… An “accident” with a 2″ x 4″ during set strike cured him of his misplaced affection.

This year?  Definitely enjoying myself with a small, but enthusiastic, contingent of boy-toys gentlemen friends.  But if any of them takes a step or two down “Romance Road”?  Walking papers, dude. 

So. Not. My. Style.

Swiping some beautiful words from my friend, the Ninjaneer, this is more along the lines of a card i’d like to get…

Though you’re not bright, you’re beautiful!

Like Jennifer Love Hewitt.

I’d love to fuck your brains out…

But someone beat me to it!

Cupid gets it from behind.  Film at 11...

Cupid gets it from behind. Film at 11...

Happy VD, folks…  May you get something you want.  Or if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…

Being Jacked by “The Man”

The Boy had a nice late summer walkabout in the nearby wilds of Canada.  He encountered some annoyances at his border crossing into Canada, and apparently even greater annoyances on his way back into the US.  Earlier this week, i was in a 2nd degree rage* regarding stupid bullshit from TEH STATE BUREAU OF MORONS MOTOR VEHICLES, requiring unnecessary paperwork and resulting in harassment.  This led to conversation about Big Brother, Oppression, Stupid Bureaucrats and Asinine Policies and Procedures That Make Your Brain Implode.

He recounted his experience re-entering the USA following his excursion into Canada…

The Boy:  I was completely profiled**.  Border agent walked alongside my car while i was in line, said “How are you today, sir?” and stuck a card under my windshield wiper, flagging me for “interrogation”.

daisyfae: And you didn’t even say anything that time?

The Boy:  Didn’t have to!  I just drove by, the next agent waved me into the parking area, and I went inside for questioning.  I was the only white guy there – the rest were all Middle Eastern.

daisyfae:  Profiling.  It’s their first line of defense…

The Boy:  What pissed me off was how stupid they were!  They had me empty my pockets on a table, then one guy told me to stand with my hands against the wall.  One of them starts going through my wallet, so I look over my shoulder to watch – and they tell me to keep my hands and my eyes on the wall.  I said “You’re going through my wallet.  I’m watching you do it.”  Then, the other one starts to pat me down, and tells me to pull my pants up tight.  I asked “How can i pull up my pants if my hands are on the wall?”  So they got frustrated and confused… assholes.

daisyfae:  Running rings around their logic is no way to win friends prior to a butt-probe… You probably won’t even get a “courtesy spit”…

The Boy:  Then the guy grabs my balls and says “what’s this?”  I said “It’s my balls!  What?  Is this your first day on the job?”

"We've got a 'Seven-Eleven' here - Some clown got mouthy at the border..."

"We've got a 'Seven-Eleven' here - Some clown got mouthy at the border..."

 * One of the vehicles in my fleet of shit-mobiles was “RANDOMLY SELECTED”, and i was required to provide proof of insurance.  Annoyed, and quickly scanning the list of documents, i snagged a copy of an insurance statement for that car, mailed it in and promptly forgot about it.  Two weeks later, i get a second notice, explaining that the document i sent was an “invoice” for insurance, and not suitable as proof.  OK.  Fine.  THE NEXT FUCKING DAY i got a notice of “SUSPENSION”, stating that if i failed to provide proper documentation within a few days, my driving privileges for that vehicle would be suspended.  Yeah – i screwed the pooch, and was happy to fix the mistake, you pig-fucking ass-wipes… how about giving me a few days to get you the right stuff?

** A 20 year old young man, long hair, probably smoking and wearing shades?  Traveling alone?  OK.  i might be a little curious, too.  Next time, i suggested he travel in drag as a middle-aged woman.  We’re fucking invisible…  Another year or so, and i’ll be robbing banks in broad daylight.

Innovatus Interruptus

From our friends at National People’s Public Radio, a fabulous nugget about creative thinking in an oppressive, bureaucratic and process-heavy workplace…  

First, take a look at this video, which runs just under 10 minutes.  Some folks at NASA captured cultural behaviors that stuffed innovation and creativity a bazillion different ways into next week.  Funny yet sad* – and true to many large organizations, whether you work in government, academia or the commercial sector.   And also, whether you’re building complex systems, or managing the daily operations of a medical facility, or managing a restaurant…

Short version (for those of you who are too tired, busy or “attention deficient” to spare the 10 minutes):  Allegedly bright young engineer brings forward a new design concept for a space craft, then is repeatedly told “not our job”, “not what you’re working on”, “we’ve never done things like this before” and so on… The script is a compilation of actual “Poo Poo-ing” delivered at Johnson Space Flight Center.  Poor kid is crapped on a thousand different ways, yet undeterred, she continues to press forward with her innovative concept.

My first reaction?  “Oh, yeah!  We gotta show this to the ancient boat-anchors, “Princess Poopy Pants”** and all the other creativity-challenged members of the “Nerd Herd” in my office!  The fossils who wouldn’t recognize innovation if it bit them in their polyester stretch pants, chewing clean through the frayed elastic waist bands.  

But what’s the alternative?  If we all spend our time “thinking crazy shit”, brainstorming until our brains fall out of our eye sockets and running down every rabbit hole of possibility?  We won’t do Jack Shit.***  Before i can trot this out – simply as an amusing “hey, guys — boy, don’t we do this sometimes? Ha ha ha…” awareness session, i need to have a better way… that magical balance of productivity and innovation.

Sure, we’ve got some bright folks – but if they pull some “creative” solution out of their clever little heads, and run with it?  We could end up with electrical engineers playing spin the bottle with hydrazine, blowing us all into nerd-shrapnel.  Watching the video again, i had to ask “but what does that kid really know about space craft design? What if she’s been hired because of her expertise in thermo-molecular computational modeling and happens to have found a spacecraft design in a lost episode of Star Trek?”

In times of juicier resources, we used to allow folks about 10% of their paid workday to just fart around, chase crazy shit, and think deep thoughts.  No pressure to deliver product, and a stated tolerance for “failure” – because in research if you’re not failing every now and then, you’re not really testing boundaries.  Or maybe we should just put shock collars on them… and keep the annoyances to a minimum?

http://despair.com -- i love these people...
 

* Giving them an “A+” for creativity, but i’ve seen better acting in amateur midget porn and the “Left Behind” movies…

** Genuine call sign for a senior scientist in my organization who can take a steaming dump on the best idea ever – simply by laughing in a geeky, derogatory manner and saying “You could do that, but it would be stupid…”.  Honestly?  i’d prefer her taking an actual dump than dropping that line at the beginning of a brainstorming session…

*** NOT an actual call sign for a member of the team.  But i’ll keep it in my play book for future prospects…