Sunday, December 30, 2007 9 comments

Kneecapped

swollen right kneeI must have whacked my knee a good one the other day at the chicken houses. It started hurting a bit the night before last; it woke me up around 4:30 and I took a couple Advil to make it quiet down a bit. This evening, it was noticeably swollen and Mrs. Fetched finally realized I had some issues with it. She’s made me all comfy in the living room, dropped an ice pack on the knee, and even ran an extension cord so my MacBook would have da jooz.

I can kind of walk on it if I keep it straight. If I don't move the joint, it doesn't hurt that much.

The pain isn’t worth two lousy days away from the chickens. If I’d done it earlier, and gotten a week off? Maybe.

Saturday, December 29, 2007 6 comments

Unintentional(?)

All I can say to this is: don't I wish!!!

Cinnamon rolls

Continuing the holiday baking series…

homemade cinnamon rolls

I wonder how many will be left tomorrow morning. I told The Boy in passing that I was making them, thinking maybe he’d have an incentive to hang around the house tonight. Oh well… his loss!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 7 comments

Turning, turning…

It is said "the wheels of justice turn slowly." But turn they do, and they came around late last week for The Boy.

Back around the end of February, while The Boy was on probation for his little boo-boo, he got busted again for underage drinking — less than a week after he finished a week in the cooler for his first probation violation (failed drug test). The mere fact of getting arrested was another probation violation, and that one cost him a month in the Cinder Block Hilton.

As I said earlier, we got the notice last week: his arraignment is Jan. 9. We told him at the time that he could either save himself some money and hire an attorney (as if he wasn’t having issues paying the last one) or try his luck with the public defender. Given that “live for the moment” is a rather tame way of describing his attitude, guess which way he went?

Hi ho, hi ho, off we go. We actually got to talk to the younger partner in the PD’s office — he’s so fresh out of law school that there’s still pieces of shrink-wrap clinging to him. That’s not a completely bad thing: a new guy is more likely to be idealistic and try harder. The senior lawyer wasn’t there, but he used to be a DUI lawyer before taking the public defender gig, so underage drinking isn’t foreign territory for him. They should have a good idea of what the DA is going to offer in a plea arrangement in a few days; with any luck, he might get away with a smallish fine and six months of probation. The joker in the deck is that the cop didn’t give The Boy a breathalyzer or a blood test, so any evidence they have is fairly flimsy. If J, whom he was riding with, can’t be found to testify, all they have is an assumption (but if J does show up, he’s Up The Creek). Another helpful item is that he took a DUI class and drug awareness course after the arrest, so it’s not likely he’ll have to go through them again.

It would have been fun to let The Boy get to know the federal judge that Mom worked for back in the day.

Monday, December 24, 2007 16 comments

A Christmas Story

[I’ve wanted to write this story for over a year now. Olga, my B&D Muse, finally took pity on me and let me get it down.]

Santa Claus lives in a mobile home in Lumpkin County, Georgia.

I suppose if you want peace and quiet all year, that would be the thing to do: spread rumors about the North Pole, or Finland, or Spain (Spain?), then slip away to a modest place in the country — but I’m getting ahead of myself. The thing about Santa is that he’s never caught out. If you see him, it’s because he wants you to. Or knows you need to.

My wife was running a little food distribution ministry out of the church last year, and we got a request one Saturday afternoon. “Whatever you have is fine,” the caller told her, “but if you can put in a bag of flour, we would really appreciate it.” No problem there; Mrs. Fetched always buys me extra flour for holiday baking, so I added a bag to our box of canned goods and fresh fruit. As usual, she was busy with a chicken house issue, so I volunteered to take the box over. I really wasn’t in a frame of mind to deal with people that day, but anything is better than chicken house duty.

The directions were pretty clear: up GA400, left at the light with the Exxon station, first right, 1.2 miles down on the right, look for a trailer with a porch. The road was one of those windy, narrow little country lanes that were great for motorcycling. The first thing I noticed was that the place was kept up much better than most places we took food. The yard was kind of scraggly-looking, as are most North Georgia yards that don’t get intensive care, but the trailer itself looked to be in much better shape than its age (given away by the design) would suggest. The walkway to the porch was lined with pansies, and a half dozen brilliant poinsettias stood guard at the corners of the porch.

“It’s open,” a man called from the porch as I approached the door. “Just push.” Smart move on their part, I thought; you don’t have to put down your stuff to get the door. The man behind the voice was reclining in what looked like a canvas beach chair on the porch; it was fairly warm for early December and the sun was doing a pretty good job of keeping the porch warm. He was wearing some old-fashioned red flannel get-up, open at the top, and the long sleeves pushed up to his elbows. A furry gent he was; his arms were covered with white curly hair, and the same peeked out of the top of his — jumpsuit? pajamas? Full beard, long straight white hair. He was a big guy, but not really fat, he could stand to lose a few pounds but so could I.

“How ya doin’?” I said. The basic pleasantries.

“Pretty good. Drop that box off in the kitchen and come sit down. The missus will have some hot cocoa ready in a few.” His accent, like mine, told me he wasn’t from around here originally — but it wasn’t the same. It had an almost-upper Michigan lilt to it.

The door to the trailer proper was open — either they like it cool, or don’t mind wasting fuel, I thought — so I nodded and went on in.

Stepping into this place was a little strange. I could have sworn it was a single-wide trailer, but it looked much larger on the inside. It was mostly dark; a few strategic candles provided beacons to warn of reefs of furniture, but I found the way to the kitchen more by following the scent of cocoa than by sight. By contrast, the kitchen was well-lit, and it looked bigger than the one in our house. Something was really messing with my perceptions in this place. But the lady of the house was going full speed ahead in there, and the oven and stove were heating the house all by themselves. She, like her husband, seemed neither fat nor thin, although her billowy apron mostly hid her shape. Her hair was white, streaked with black or deep brown, and pulled back in a bun. She had aged well; the wrinkles added a sweetness to her face that would have left most middle-aged women looking forward to growing old.

She smiled at me, and gestured toward an empty place on the counter, just big enough for the box. I know enough about cooking to know that sometimes you can’t spare much concentration, so I didn’t think much of her not saying anything. “You look pretty busy,” I said. “You want some help putting this up?”

Her smile widened with amusement, and she shooed me out of the kitchen… I felt like a kid being chased out by his grandmother. It was such an odd feeling, and her smile was so contagious, that I ended up running and laughing the last few steps to the porch.

The old man was grinning around an unlit pipe. “You tried to help her, didn’t you? The missus is kind of old-fashioned that way — she appreciates you wanting to help her out, I’m sure, but she just doesn’t let men in her kitchen. She’ll probably put some extra cream in your cocoa to say thanks, though. It’ll just be a minute, take a load off your mind.” He pointed to the other deck chair, so incongruous among the Christmas decorations.

I sat and looked at the guy again, pipe and all, and shook my head. “I’m sure you’ve heard this a zillion times, but you’re a dead ringer for —”

He took the pipe out of his teeth, winked, and nodded. “I look like me.”

“I —” I laughed. “Good one. I’ll bet you’re the best Santa I’ve seen, though.”

“Of course I am. Didn’t I bring you that model airplane when you were twelve?”

My grin, and my lower jaw, dropped to my lap. I wanted to jump to my feet, but my legs had taken a holiday of their own. I settled for gaping and stammering, “But — you — what —”

He put the pipe down and chuckled. “The Big Guy knows everything. But you… there’s a lot of things you want to know, right?”

“Yeah.” I opened my mouth to continue, but everything I wanted to say, everything I’d ever wanted to ask a legend if ever I met one, had flown away like so many reindeer. The arrival of “the missus,” carrying a tray with two mugs and two plates, rescued me. She served us, silent as ever, then watched me expectantly. To stall for time, I took a sip of cocoa — it was just the right temperature — and then goggled at her. “This is fantastic,” I said. She smiled, patted my cheek (she had a way of making me feel like I was five again) and went back inside.

“She makes good cocoa,” Santa said (I had to accept it), “but wait ’til you try her cookies.” He glanced at my plate, sitting on a small table — almost a stand — next to my chair. They looked — and smelled — and tasted — like a choco-holic’s concept of heaven.

“Wow. What does she put in those?”

“Magic, of course,” Santa winked again. “That’s why you won’t gain two pounds or sugar-crash.”

The cookies and the cocoa worked their magic… or perhaps it was only the normal choco-buzz. Either way, after another sip of cocoa, I regained my composure. Or as much of it as I could under the circumstances. “Why here? If you’re not going to live in the Arctic, why not the beach? I don’t get it.”

“I’m everywhere, of course. And right where I need to be.

“I’m in the hearts of parents who forgive their naughty children. I’m there when the ‘heartless’ businessman leaves a box full of presents at the doorstep of a low-income apartment when nobody’s looking. I’m riding with the good ol’ boys when they pull people out of ditches on icy days. I’m helping the kid at the grocery store keep his balance when he gets things off the top shelf for somebody’s grandmother.

“And… I’m there when a temperamental writer gets frustrated with all the commercialism and just wants a quiet holiday with his family.”

“But what about you?” I asked. “Don’t you get fed up with what marketers make you into just to sell some junk?”

He shrugged. “I know who I am. You know who I am. Everyone who believes in me knows who I am. I don’t sweat the commercial part — for everyone who’s selling stuff to turn a buck, there’s others trying to spread Christmas spirit. The world’s a big place, and I can’t be everywhere — I never could. When you delegate, you have to accept that the results aren’t always going to be exactly what you want.”

I laughed. “Go with the flow, then?”

“No,” and for the first time he looked serious. Here was the other side of Santa that I’d always imagined; the spirit that chided the naughty ones and urged them to rise above themselves. “Going with the flow means giving into human nature, and not caring about anyone but yourself. Swim against the current, man! Bring aid and succor to those who need it, and not just in December. And be kindest of all to those whose very presence annoys you — the Hummer driver on the road, the rude old lady — or the little girl who tells you she hates you. Remember?”

I did: she had said that to me one Sunday after church. I blurted, “Well I don’t hate you, I love you.” She stood there, stunned for a moment, then hugged me and said “No I don’t.” And she was a changed kid from then on.

“Sometimes, the naughty ones — kids or adults — are just trying not to be hurt. A kind word at the right time… well, it can be a Christmas miracle.

“Well, you knew all this already, but sometimes you need a reminder. This is a busy time of year, and it’s easy to be caught up by trivia. Finish your cocoa — look, you’ve hardly touched it — and take a cookie on the road.”

My cup was nearly full, but I could have sworn I’d been drinking it all along. It was simply too good to put down. But I drank it down, and took a cookie as instructed. “Y’know,” I said, “something just occurred to me. Why bring you food? I don’t mind — I mean, the reward was more than double — but do you need it?”

Santa laughed; the jolly old elf was back. “Of course not. But I know of a family nearby that needs it, and won’t ask for help. It will show up in their kitchen like it was always there, and it won’t run out for a while.”

I stood, and Mrs. Claus came back out, smiling quietly as always. She kissed my cheek and took up the dishes.

“Don’t you talk?” I asked her.

She grinned, and Santa answered. “Of course she does. But the wisest are always the most quiet. Remember the guy in the Earthsea books? ‘To hear, one must first be silent.’ It’s true.”

I nodded; there really wasn’t much I could say to that. I bowed — it seemed to be the right thing to do — then took my leave. The wisdom and reassurance weren’t the only gifts they had given me; the road itself was another. I’ve ridden down it several times over the last year — and the trailer is there, but different now. Weedy trees obscure it, and it looks abandoned and seriously run-down, but that’s just protective camouflage. I know someone lives there. They probably won’t answer the door if I knocked, but they’re there alright — whoever needs them will see them.

Santa Claus lives in a mobile home in Lumpkin County, Georgia.

I’ve been to his place. His wife makes the best cocoa.

Saturday, December 22, 2007 15 comments

Pushing the Envelope (updated with photo)

The Boy has been back to pushing the envelope just as far as he can, lately. After the incident a couple weekends ago, he’s been around… oh, about 2/3 of the time. Along the way, he managed to hurt his shoulder; Mrs. Fetched took him to the doc yesterday to have it looked at. While they were there, they ran into EJ, one of The Boy’s old friends that none of us have seen for a while and one of the few we like having around (even Daughter Dearest is OK with him) — it turns out he works at the hospital (in housekeeping), so we brought him home with us. He’s been around most of the weekend.

Because of EJ, Mrs. Fetched decided The Boy could run him home today. Unfortunately, somehow Snippet got involved and hooked up with them. Because of some logistics related to where EJ lives, and where Snippet lives, she ended up coming home with The Boy. So (until I go to bed), she’s sleeping in the guest bedroom. Mrs. Fetched seems to be much more sanguine about the situation than I am; she’s snoring away while I’m trying to get into a sleeping frame of mind. At least I was able to get The Boy to go upstairs instead of starting a movie at 11:30 p.m.


Eh. It hasn’t been all about The Boy today. We had a Christmas dinner that can’t be beat and there’s even a dozen of my rolls left. Turns out my niece is once-bitten twice-shy, and managed to not scarf down a bunch like she did last year. The problem is, with all the rain we've been getting lately, I haven't been able to walk off the feasts… and it’s starting to stay on me. Oh well, the five pounds last put on are the easiest to get off. I stuck with non-meat items for supper, just bread and veggies (and one slice of pie), which tend to digest a little more quickly for me.

We’ll see what happens.

Friday, December 21, 2007 4 comments

This has potential!

Via Man Eegee…

The Lakota people are seceding from the US, taking what appear to be large chunks of five states with them:

Map of the Lakota Nation

I’d like to get some popcorn and watch the fun, but this could just as easily be either boring or horrifying. It’s also a little unsettling, as (much) later episodes of FAR Future will cover the balkanization of America, including the native nations. Once again, reality is jumping the gun on me.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007 8 comments

Pre-holiday countdown

Tomorrow is Virtual Friday. One more day, and I’m outta there for what’s left of the year! Hooray! Our department is having a little wing-ding tomorrow after work, which makes it a great day to start the Christmas madness season in earnest.

So I figured I’d bite the bullet. I was wrapping up work, and told Mrs. Fetched, “I’ll be around the whole week. If you need me in the chicken houses, whatever.”

“Daughter Dearest will be off too,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll need you.” Hooray again!

We videotaped DD’s chorus last night, then one of the band moms lined us up to tape the band concert tonight. We didn’t have the ladder last night, so we had to set up the cameras down front… as in, the bare minimum distance where I could zoom out and get the entire choir. The band mom made sure we had the ladder tonight, so we were able to set up on top of the office area (unless someone’s wearing stilts, there’s no way they could walk in front of us up there). After setting up, my phone beeped up a reminder about the Christmas party at the local bike shop. I got an invite, I suppose since I’d bought a bike there this year, and had completely forgotten about it. Mrs. Fetched said, “Go on, I can handle both cameras. For what you spent there, you need to go there.” (Like I didn’t buy one of the lowest-priced road bikes.) But… Hooray Number Three! “Just be back by 7:30 so we can pack up.” Of course, they had a sale going on; gloves were 20% off but I didn’t see a pair that jumped off the rack and promised to keep my hands warm all winter.

I got an unexpected early Christmas gift: The Boy (who has been in & out a lot lately) left a 7oz hip flask in the back of Mrs. Fetched’s car. It didn’t smell at all, but I washed it out anyway then added rum. Of course, nothing comes without a price — he ended up following through on his plan to take the speaker box out of my car, and still hasn’t put the back seat back together. I wanted the extra trunk space anyway, and was thinking about putting a pair of low-profile woofs under the seat. Not like I’m taking the car anywhere right away; the front tires are worn out.

As long as I’m not doing anything else after tomorrow, I’ll be devoting some serious time to writing. I want to put the final tweaks on a short story (The Boy’s) and send it around too. There will be a couple of Christmas parties along the way, just to make things interesting.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 9 comments

FAR Future, Episode 17

Happy New Year! Kind of.



Monday, January 14, 2013
Froze in the Middle


The Mayan calendar began a new cycle on December 21. It’s not exactly off to a wonderful start for a lot of people.

The rural poor (and not-so poor) are huddling together, cutting firewood, and pooling their other resources to stay relatively warm this winter. The urban poor tend to live in apartment buildings, which are easier to heat, and they have an established public assistance infrastructure to help them out. And suburbia?

Ouch. You’ve seen the stories, and I hope you haven’t lived them. The lucky ones still have jobs that cover their heat and transportation costs (if little else). The people in the Foreclosure Moratorium program (FMA) get a break on the mortgages, but they’re still on the hook for food and heat. Many suburbanites aren’t aware of other assistance programs, or how to apply if they do… or prefer to avoid them (pride, ideology, etc.). So even when the house payment isn’t an issue, some are deciding it isn’t worth the hassle. They mail their keys to the bank and move in with relatives (whether rural or not).

Suburbia’s thinning out, in more ways than one. Abandoned houses don’t last too long now: first the furniture disappears up their neighbors’ chimneys, then wood trim turns into fuel and carpet & padding goes on walls (extra insulation), then interior walls turn into firewood, then upstairs flooring, walls, the roof… and of course, the wiring gets stripped for the copper. After a week or so, there isn’t much left but pieces of sheetrock, vinyl siding, the heat pump, and other large appliances (or the remnants, after the motors get stripped for copper too). Houses that don’t get abandoned sometimes catch fire when people aren’t smart about using their fireplaces, or try using the oven as a firebox. So between strippers and fires, empty lots are appearing fairly quickly. I’ll bet some forward-thinkers are already clearing them up for gardens.

Naturally, this isn’t doing the financial “industry” any good. CWM was offering mortgagees in the FMA program some assistance with heating bills to keep people from giving up. That’s basically good business… an intact house is worth something; a lot with a pile of debris is worth less than the lot itself (since it has to be cleared). Other companies are trying a sort of rapid-response operation, with housesitters lined up and ready to rush to an abandoned house — but that’s a race they usually lose, because the neighbors know when people move out and have a head start on the mortgage companies, equal to the time it takes to send in the keys. Most housesitters arrive to find the house already stripped of furniture and often carpeting; if they’re lucky, the wiring is still intact. Losing a house like that is a double-whammy to the mortgage holders — the Feds let them not report FMA properties as write-offs, but they still aren’t allowed to hide destroyed assets or housesitter costs. They’re all dreading the April reporting. Some regional companies, in Florida and California, have already folded — and there’s no telling who owns their paper now. But against a backdrop of people freezing to death or dying in fires, figuring out who owns some worthless property doesn’t seem to be a priority.

Of course, the yap radio mouths blame their usual suspects for just about all of what’s happening — Shotgun Sam probably got himself a case of emphysema the other day, breathing all the dust coming off the global warming-denial mantle that he tried on. Something along the lines of, “Where’s the global warming gone? We sure could use a little bit of that right now, couldn’t we?” The spazz out there is just incredible. (“spazz” is an old term I defined during the Y2K days; it indicates the ability to cling to a belief after it has been disproved)

Closer to home, FAR Manor is getting through winter in reasonable shape so far. We had some trouble with wood-poachers for a little while, was the worst thing. Fortunately, someone close by asked for permission to get firewood off our place — I told him to only take deadfall and chase off the poachers, and that’s working out pretty well. Daughter Dearest has her teaching job, and she and another teacher are housesitting in a place within walking distance of the school. The county agreed to waive school taxes for the property, so that’s all working out (again, so far). The school buses pick up passengers as well as kids now, collecting fares from the non-students, which helps some with fuel costs. But the Feds had to step up and make sure that rural school districts had enough diesel to run the bus services. Now that they’re letting oil companies pay up to half of their taxes in fuel, that seems to be working out.

The scary thing is that there’s no master plan in effect — people are just making it up as they go. Most of us somehow manage to make it work, but some don’t… sometimes by not thinking things through, other times by just bad luck. Climate change notwithstanding, a mild winter and an early spring will help a lot of people stay alive.

continued…

Monday, December 10, 2007 9 comments

3-Day Weekend Update, and Planet Georgia Logic

We (mostly) got our 3-day weekend after all. Mrs. Fetched woke up Saturday morning feeling much better than the day before, and continued to improve through the day. Hooray! Late in the afternoon, we packed a couple of bags with things (and I left the laptop at home, as advised by my good blog-buddies) and headed down. We had a little time to just rest and chill out before going to the company party.

The party went pretty well — I ran into a guy who sits two cubes down from me; he had a short but incredibly cute girlfriend with him. She and Mrs. Fetched hit it off famously, and us guys talked about various things (including shop talk).

A couple of hours into the party, the cellphones started ringing. We had told The Boy that he could have four specific friends over (including Cousin Splat), but no girlfriends or other female types, and nobody was to go into the house without escort. Well, that went by the wayside shortly after we left — there were eight people, two of which were female (one of which was The Boy’s old girlfriend Snippet) — traipsing in and out of the house like they owned the place. Daughter Dearest, who isn’t terribly fond of any of The Boy’s friends, locked the door and The Boy broke the doorknob to get in. Then she got rather upset and yelled at all of them. Cousin Splat lived up to his name by threatening to slap her silly if she didn’t shut up. And that was all she wrote.

Upon arriving at FAR Manor, I immediately told everyone to git. And told Splat that if he ever threatened Daughter Dearest again, there would be Hell to pay. He made some lame excuse, and Mrs. Fetched took over at that point. I started fixing the doorknob — the latch was bent and binding — and The Boy made the mistake of asking me what the big deal was.

“The big deal is,” I told him as he waved his hand at me and walked away, “that your mom and I can’t go anywhere without you ruining it for us!”

“Well, I guess I’m just a big screw-up,” he said, climbing into one of his friends’ cars.

“Yes, yes you are. And if you don’t want to straighten up your act, you’re not welcome back here.” He made the same waving gesture and left. Do I sound like I was peeved? I managed to get the doorknob working and put it back together. It’s a little loose; I guess we need a new one. And deadbolts. FAR Manor is about as secure as a Dozebox. But I digress. All of our stuff was at the hotel room, except for my laptop (which Mrs. Fetched said I should have brought).

Sunday morning, no Boy, and Daughter Dearest pronounced herself fit to solo again. We decided to go ahead and go, told DD to go to the grandparents’ if she didn’t want to stay at the manor, I sighed and grabbed my laptop — Mrs. Fetched didn’t want me to leave it there if The Boy decided to retaliate somehow — and a box of oranges we’d ordered for her older sister, and we took off again. We took a nap through the late afternoon, then decided to resume our original plans to eat at Gimza’s Polish Restaurant in Norcross (the guy whose name is on the sign is a co-worker, doing two jobs and burning the candle at both ends). If you’re in the area, the restaurant is at the corner of Medlock Bridge Rd. and Spalding Drive; the parking lot segues into an adjacent Citgo station. The prices are quite reasonable (much more so than the decor suggests) and the food is very good. Mrs. Fetched, who’s usually fussy about “strange” food, is a fan.

Yesterday (Monday) was our planned shopping day. This worked out. VERY well. We didn’t have the mall to ourselves, but parking was no problem and there were no crowds. We will be doing a Monday shopping trip next year, even if there’s no 3-day weekend to go with it (we may not have another one of those for a long time, or at least until Daughter Dearest is safely in college). We got ahem, cough, and phbhblltt for the kids (neener neener, DD!), and met the sister at a Thai place to transfer the oranges. I was very good; even though I had the computer, I only used it when Mrs. Fetched was watching TV — and then, only to type up stuff I’d written instead of getting online. Much. (She asked me to pull up the weather. Really.)

Speaking of shopping… in one locale, the cops are patrolling mall parking lots and yellow-tagging vehicles that have merchandise visible on seats or floors — “in other words, vehicles that are easy targets for thieves.”

Now that’s Planet Georgia logic for you: find easy targets and make them that much easier to spot! All in the name of fighting crime, of course.

Merry Christmas, Family Man!

“Sheriff’s Office.”

“Hey. Listen, my neighbor, Family Man, is hiding drugs in his woodpile?”

“Oh. Is that so?”

“Yeah. One of the logs is hollowed-out inside; he’s keeping the stuff in that.”

20 minutes later, the entire Sheriff’s department descends on Family Man’s house. They go through the entire woodpile, chopping each one open. After over an hour, they split the last log, find no drugs, and drive off disgruntled.

Our hero, who has been watching the entire operation, watches them drive away, then picks up the phone. “Hi, it’s Family Man. Thanks again for letting me use your phone!”

Merry Christmas, FM! Unfortunately, this only works once.

Friday, December 07, 2007 4 comments

3-Day Weekend

The company Christmas party is tomorrow, and Mrs. Fetched & I came up with a wonderful idea: I take Monday as a floating holiday and we get a hotel for a 3-day weekend getaway — maybe do a little Christmas shopping since we would be in the thick of things. So she prodded me until I hopped onto Hotels.com and found something reasonably-priced and near the club where the company is throwing the party. The community chorale was presenting a large portion of “Messiah” this weekend, so we told them we’d videotape it Friday night before disappearing. Since the venue (the new middle school) is on the way home from work, I planned to just go straight there after work, meet up with Mrs. Fetched, then do our thing.

So this afternoon, Mrs. Fetched called. “You need to leave work early and come home. I’ve got the flu, so I won’t be able to help — you’ll have to do both cameras. Sorry.” Oh, maaaaan.

So I bailed out and came home. Mrs. Fetched was in bed (and still is), barf bucket next to the bed but thankfully unused. She had prepped the cameras: batteries charged, tapes in the bags; all I had to do was huck them in the car, remember the tripods, and get moving. The taping went as well as can be expected; I recruited a friend to start the B-roll camera and just leave it while I worked the primary. Everyone stood up, as tradition expects, for “Hallelujah Chorus” — which blocked my view, but I couldn’t help that. That, and one person walking right in front of the lens, were the only hassles all evening. Well, that and forgetting we’re out of powdered Powerade, so I went back into town and got some. (Last time I had the flu, I sipped lots of Powerade and I recovered pretty quickly. Stay hydrated.)

But if Mrs. Fetched doesn’t get better in a hurry, we’ll be canning the getaway and probably the party. I guess I shouldn’t plan a two-week getaway; no telling what she’d come down with.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 6 comments

Oh, Shoot

Beth’s post about tattoos reminded me of something that happened a while back. It was 1983 or so. I had moved to Planet Georgia, but hadn’t met the (at the time) future Mrs. Fetched. I pal’ed around a lot with a guy named Terry, who lived in the same apartment complex I did and had met through a co-worker.

I’d always wanted a decent camera, and Terry was a photographer (who went pro in later years) — and so one fine summer Saturday afternoon, we went to the Wolf Camera in Atlanta and picked me out a Fujica 35mm SLR, a decent camera but not a budget buster. Naturally, we had to go break it in, so we decided to go down to Piedmont Park and photograph some… er, wildlife. (I learned later that the Atlanta Botanical Gardens were also in the park, oh well.)

We were wandering around the park, no destination in mind but enjoying the nice day. As we approached the bathhouses, we heard someone bellow, “HEY! ARE YOU GUYS PHOTOGRAPHERS?” We turned around to find, excuse me, three females that perfectly defined the stereotypical “biker chick” — stringy hair, clothes that hadn’t seen much time in the laundry, boots, unrefined manners… the works.

“Well, we’re carrying cameras, I guess that makes us photographers,” Terry said with more than a little sarcasm. I’ve never been quick-witted, and silence has perhaps saved me from more than one awkward situation in the past. He was a bit quicker than me though, which was also a good thing. Someone had to say something.

“Yeah, she wants you to take a picture of her,” the original one of the three said. “Yeah! Yeah!” said the second one. I took my cue from Terry, and we laughed them off and walked away.

But we came around the backside of the bathhouses, and there they were again. “Hey! She was serious about taking her picture. C'm'ere.” We looked at each other, shrugged, and walked over. What were they going to do in the middle of a public park, anyway?

We soon found out. “Here,” the second woman said, “take a picture of THIS!” and she hoisted her shirt. To show us an actually well-done eagle covering the top of her left breast. By the way, there was no bra to hide either the tat or the tit.

This was a unique experience, and not only because of the over-exposure — it was the first and only time I ever saw Terry at a loss for words. While I stood there gaping like a complete idiot, he managed to stammer something about release forms. “You don’t need any release forms,” she said, hoisting her shirt again. I grabbed my camera, but dropped it a split-second later (it was on a neck strap) when I realized I’d forgotten what to do with it. Somehow, we managed to extract ourselves and made for the car.

I said something about not doing well under pressure. “Just as well,” Terry said. “If we’d taken pictures, we’d have never gotten rid of them. Then they probably would have given us some unpronounceable disease.”

Some things you just don’t forget. But Beth, getting a tattoo doesn’t make someone pond scum. Now getting a large tattoo over one’s unmentionables, then displaying same in public? Hmmmm.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007 6 comments

Unintended Captioning

The local Dairy Queen has their Christmas decor up. This window is next to the door, and something about it just didn’t seem right to me.

On the way out, I grabbed my smellphone and took a quick snapshot, while Mrs. Fetched asked me why I was interested in that picture.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “There’s just something a little strange about it.”

I put the picture together with its unintended caption on the way home.

Bon appétit, Santa!

Sunday, December 02, 2007 4 comments

FAR Future, Episode 16

During recent spam-cleaning, I found a link in Episode 9 to a German translation. The page was rife with ads, so it could have been a blog spammer playing cute games. And now the link appears to be gone, but the page is still there — perhaps the spammer gets the payout for the ads then takes down the link? Very strange.

Life in the great online, I guess…



Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Holidaze, Shortage Style


At least for us rural folks, 3-day delivery is about to join overnight in the proverbial dustbin of history. After the Postal Service went first, announcing that they’re going to Mon/Wed/Fri mail delivery starting in January, FedEx and UPS are going to a “once a week, or sooner if we fill a truck” schedule. I really don’t blame them — so much of what people used to do by mail is done online nowadays. “Overnight delivery” usually refers to downloading a movie or a large software package. Getting bills three days a week instead of every day will be nice, even if the number of bills over the course of a week is the same. :-P

This holiday season is shaping up to be a big loser for retail — after people got their fuel oil or gas bill (if they didn’t run into spot shortages), they cut back on the presents to pay for heat. One of the few happy notes for the holidays comes from the NHTSA, which is predicting the “safest holiday driving season in years.” Duh, hardly anybody’s going anywhere!

One of the few happy retailers this year is Sears — their traditional catalog business has come roaring back, and they’ve even started to open “catalog centers” in small towns again, like we had when I was a kid. They cut you a big break on shipping if you have your order delivered to a catalog center and pick it up there, and that’s been a bigger hit than I would have expected.

We’re still going to have lots of relatives at FAR Manor this year, mainly because they’re close by. That’s not all bad — I paid a nephew to cut up deadfall and stack it near the house, and he did a pretty good job. We splurged on a tank of propane too, but we plan to mostly use the fireplace insert unless it gets really cold. With the kids gone, we’ve closed down the upstairs for the winter, so we only have to heat the downstairs.

Speaking of nephews, he and his family have moved in with one of the other in-laws; their basement is big and finished out, so they're living downstairs. He said it isn’t bad; he just puts his headphones on and turns up the volume when they start squabbling, or walks up here to see if he can earn a few bucks doing something around the house. “Consolidating” seems to be the thing now; take two or three families and move them all into the biggest house for the winter. Everyone helps with the heating bills, and the smart ones have had plumbers come to the houses being shut down and put RV antifreeze in the water lines so they won’t freeze up. Mrs. Fetched was trying to get her parents to move into the guest bedroom, but they don’t want to leave their place. Whew! I don’t know if I could get much work done at home with them arguing, running the TV, arguing, cooking, arguing some more, all day long.

Meanwhile, back in the World At Large, the Secession Question has taken a breather for the holidays. Planet Georgia’s ASSembly passed a resolution to support withdrawal “if the rights and values of our citizens are not respected” — basically a threat, maybe half-full. The only surprise was that the vote was closer than expected. One “solution” talking shape is to allow states (or regions of like-minded states) to set policies for taxation and other things if they agree to respect the 14th amendment and the equal rights of all citizens (there’s been some noise about that). I’m not keen on the idea, because there’s been a lot of “overlooking” of equal rights for all citizens in the past; I don’t expect that to improve.

Sheesh, I almost forgot. Another thing that isn’t improving is the fuel supply. The NFRD is saying that fuel allocations are going to drop some, maybe 5%, starting early next year — Iraq is pumping flat-out and it’s still not enough to make up for drops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, let alone Mexico. The yap radio mouths are having a field day with that — it’s getting listeners’ minds off secession, which has to be a relief for their patrons. Things might not change much, though — people have had since August to make adjustments, and we had some allocations expire without any bids week before last. But bids for fresh allocations started picking up late last week; those people still driving somewhere for the holidays are probably trying to line up their supplies ahead of time. But between the people who let their unused allocations expire, and the ones who buy them up to take them off the market, I have to wonder where the extra gas is going — or has the NFRD deliberately overbooked a little?

Now if only they could make me an electric motorbike with a 100 mile range, I wouldn’t worry too much.

continued…

Saturday, December 01, 2007 5 comments

Holiday Music

I did this last year in a podcast, but many of you have started reading this year. So…



Hope you enjoy it! For those of you on dialup, here’s a low-bandwidth version (700K MP3).

Thursday, November 29, 2007 10 comments

De-light-ed

FAR Manor lit up for ChristmasDelighted, that is, that I came home from work yesterday to find FAR Manor all decorated (which means I didn’t have to do it)!

Mrs. Fetched says “we” are not quite done with the lighting (she uses “we” in the same sense as Jim Carrey’s Grinch: “when I say ‘we’ I mean you”), but it sounds like only a couple more strands.




And we must give due credit to The Boy, who did much of the roof work.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007 11 comments

The Bottom of the Year

Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes. I appreciate each & every one of you.

If I were to design a calendar, it would be circular. The summer solstice would be on top, winter solstice on the bottom. From the top, the calendar would proceed clockwise around summer, fall, winter, and spring. And there would be a chord crossing the circle near the bottom, marking the two months surrounding the winter solstice. For me, this is the bottom of the year: the time of minimum sunlight.

Perhaps the ancients were wise to put major holidays down here in the bottom — merriment, even if forced, takes your mind off the lack of sunlight. In those times when people mostly farmed, they had to be outside whether it was cold and dim or not, so they scheduled many feasts (what I call Eating Season), as the bottom of the year approached and arrived. This was the time to put on weight, and deliberately so: the feasts fattened you up so you had more stored calories to burn through the coming coldest part of the year. Fat is both insulation and fuel.

Other people might strike different chords through different parts of the circle, to represent important times of the year for themselves: farmers would certainly mark times of planting & harvest; tax services would mark February through April (and a secondary mark ending on August 15, when the standard extension expires); retailers would rename Eating Season.

What other important times and seasons “strike a chord” with you?

Saturday, November 24, 2007 37 comments

The Resentment Account

How things build up over time and eventually boil over.

I tend to be goal-oriented. Instead of endlessly discussing a problem, how it happened, whose fault it is, on and on, I prefer to just fix the problem and get on with my life. This explains why I have become reluctant to “discuss things” as I got older — if we talk about something Mrs. Fetched did that I don’t like, then she turns around and does it again, I give up trying to talk about it after two or three cycles because talking hasn’t solved the problem.

Problems that don’t get solved often end up in what one could call the ”Resentment Account.” Think of it like a credit card with some weird rules.
  • Many resentments have a negative interest rate; if they stop happening, the emotional energy dissipates on its own (kind of like service charges, only these charges do some good). Low-level power games like the Toilet Seat Game are a good example of these.

  • Some resentments compound one another. Things that create a pattern build on each other, which is why I might have a totally disproportionate reaction (analogous to a declined purchase on a real credit card) to something that wouldn’t otherwise be a big deal.

Like a real credit card has lots of places it can be used, there are a lot of ways to deposit something in the Resentment Account — and like most of us have limited sources of income, there aren’t all that many ways to pay down the balance. There’s also a credit limit that can be described as “I’ve had all the crap I can take.” Overdrawing the account can result in outbursts leading to screaming matches or my simply leaving for some indeterminate amount of time.

I leave it to the reader to determine why I’m posting something tonight that I’ve had kicking around for a couple of years.

Thursday, November 22, 2007 10 comments

Thanksgiving Festoovities

Food montageA lot of people were at FAR Manor today, but the food was more than up to the challenge. The only surprise was when Cousin Splat came in, he didn’t get any food — he said he ate at Big V’s, but such minor details usually don’t stop him. This may explain why we also had plenty for supper (and beyond).

OK, everyone sing along: “On the first day after Thanksgiving, my true love served to me: leftover tur-ur-key!"


Both of my teams were playing today, and both got blown out after a promising first quarter. First up was the Lions during and after lunch, then the Falcons after supper. Beth likes watching football, so I had an excuse to actually watch some of the games… but each game got less interesting as they went on. Shooting the breeze was more fun.



While the trees are shedding leaves at a prodigious rate, at least the ones that aren’t brown, the rhododendron bush has been hanging around the free-range insane asylum a little too long: yup, it’s blooming again. Many of my herbs, especially the parsley and mint, are enjoying the cooler weather too. The rosemary is also blooming, and the oregano is staying low and spreading: I expect it and the mint will be locked in a death-match before too much longer (with the parsley refereeing).

The basil that was planted in the ground has mostly survived light frost, and are even shooting out seed pods. I’ve clipped a few of those and put them in a marked bag — maybe I can breed a frost-tolerant basil. If not, I have three large pots inside; twice-daily mistings seem to be helping them acclimate to the dryer air indoors.


Daughter Dearest, zonkedAfter a busy morning of preparing food (and not neglecting the chicken houses), we stuffed ourselves silly at lunch. Naturally, that led to snoozes among the non-football people…


Beth’s heading home tomorrow, for some well-deserved nesting time — she said she’s been at home maybe three days in the entire month (and from reading Beth’s blog, that sounds about right. All of us have enjoyed having her here, and it would be nice if she could stay another day, but that’s how it goes. We’ll meet up with her again when we go to Florida, though.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007 7 comments

Thankful for…

Safe arrival of friends!
Mrs. Fetched and Beth

Beth arrived a little before 6, while I was dusting the dryer. It’s been almost non-stop chat since then, with a small break as we all went and grabbed a little supper.

And we’re thankful for rain, too: Beth brought some rain with her. The trees have been shedding leaves for the last couple of days; they’ll probably all be gone by this weekend. She’s gone to bed, understandably exhausted after the long drive and fighting a cold. I’m going to bounce around the tubes a little tonight, and type up the next episode of FAR Future (wrote the first draft at lunch, it’s about 75% done).

Saturday, November 17, 2007 7 comments

Friday, November 16, 2007 7 comments

FAR Future, Episode 15 (or 14b if you prefer)

In the FAR Future-verse, this episode & the last one are only a day apart, so I thought it would be proper to post them a day apart…



Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Wow


Words fail me, but I’ll try. I’m still way too worked up about what happened. I’m sure footage will get to YouTube or VideoNation soon — if you didn’t see it, you really have to. I’ll try to describe it here, but you have to see the video. You just have to.

Mrs. Fetched had the TV on — didn’t matter what channel; all the Atlanta stations were carrying this. The “militia” were camped out around the Capitol building itself, and up and down the streets — except on MLK Blvd, which tells you pretty much everything you need to know — and spilled into the parking deck. The National Guard blocked through traffic and let the militia camp in the middle of the street — one of the officers said they had consulted with the city government, and they agreed that it would be the best way to avoid disrupting a wider area. The reprehensibles weren’t bothering to come in; they teleconference most of the time like everyone else anyway, but some said they were “hearing the message.”

On the evening news last night, they interviewed street vendors who were selling food, drinks, sweaters, caps, even socks and underwear, to the campers. It doesn’t matter what happens, someone will find a way to turn a buck off it, right? A lot of the vendors are black, and they think the campers are bleep bleep and bleeeep, but the money is still green. I guess. The campers didn’t seem to care either way; they were just glad someone was making it easier on them.

Again, I digress. The counter-demonstrators convened at the Georgia State campus, just up the road, and planned to march down Courtland, around the square, then back up Piedmont to the campus. Some of the TV crews (including the news personalities) set up on the roofs of the Capitol Museum and the State Supreme Court building, but some camera crews put themselves right down in the action. One of the newsies said, “we’re hearing the counter-demonstrators are on their way now,” and everyone started standing up. The Capitol Police had cleared the middle of the streets to make room for the marchers, and the militia types were thronging the edges, trying to get a look.

Then they came, in their hundreds and tens of hundreds. Carrying luminaries and singing, “God Bless America.” Go find the video — it was just stunning. Not the marchers themselves, but the effect it had on the militia. You have to remember, these guys were brought up on God and Country — and whatever beef they had with the latter, they hadn’t been completely de-programmed. Some of them stood at attention, others sang along… and they all put down their guns. I hope you get to see the clip where one red-faced yahoo started chanting whatever they’d planned on, and everyone around him turned and stared him down until he just left. There’s another clip where you can see some of the guys shouldering their arms and… well, changing sides, joining the marchers. Mrs. Fetched and I both teared up, and so did a lot of the militia guys. The leaders were camped in front of the Capitol, across from the Supreme Court building, and the crew across the street got a “priceless” shot — those guys looked like they were watching their best friends wearing pink tutus and practicing ballet. The newscasters were somehow imbued with a clue, and just let the cameras roll. Or maybe they were choked up too.

It was over in 15 minutes. The marchers went through, crossed MLK again, and headed back toward the campus — still singing. The militia guys started packing their stuff. The reporter found his voice and said (I taped it & am transcribing): “This is surely a historic moment. I — I don’t have words to describe what just happened here today, and I’m not sure I could add anything to what we’ve just seen. It appears that the ‘Citizen Militia’ is dispersing — most of them are packing their things and some of them are following the marchers up Capitol Avenue, possibly to the Georgia State MARTA station.

“Wait… we take you now to the militia’s Field Headquarters, in front of the Capitol building.”

They cut over to a young black woman (pretty in that way that transcends race, a must for urban TV news) interviewing one of the leaders. He was already talking: “—a success, overall. I have to admit I was surprised at the tactics of the counter-demonstrators, but the Assembly has received our message and I expect we’ll prevail when it comes to a vote.”

And just like that, the magic faded back into the banality of a typical live newscast.

Unfortunately, the Secession Question doesn’t appear to have been answered — or maybe now it’s less answered than before. The evening news opened with it tonight. A lot of closed-door discussions have been going on over the last week, in violation of who knows how many sunshine laws, and (being run by goplets) probably off the transcripts entirely. Debates are going on across the Old South, at least from South Carolina to Louisiana, and in parts of the mountain west. More rumors, some online, others officially denied: Congress is negotiating with various state reps about home rule; the Guard in certain states are being put under national command; the Navy is stationing task groups out to sea but close to certain seaports; the pipelines could get nationalized or shut down. Despite what happened today, we’re not much closer to holding hands and singing Kumbayah than we were before.

continued…

Thursday, November 15, 2007 2 comments

FAR Future, Episode 14

Second episode in a row posted on a “cold” (low of 0°C or slightly less) night. I’d like to think I’m not going to make a habit of it, but we’re sliding into the bottom of the year now. Gas hitting $3/gal again has soured Mrs. Fetched on SUVs; she went out and traded Barge Vader for a 2002 Civic EX. Very pretty, although I think the instrument console is somewhat cartoon-like.

Thanks to everyone over at Nancy’s blog, Sweet Mystery of Life, for all the encouragement I’ve been getting on this and other projects.

Yeah, yeah, enough with the suspense already…



Monday, November 19, 2012
Marching Through Georgia


The media is estimating about 5,000 people — more than I’d hoped, less than I’d feared — “joined the citizen’s militia” and are marching to Atlanta. A few dozen left from here (so much for five), more from larger counties, and they’re meeting up along the way. South of Macon, they chartered buses to bring them up to Atlanta.

The State Patrol said the marchers can carry their guns, as long they they’re unloaded; they threatened to confiscate loaded weapons but I don’t know how they could tell who’s loaded unless someone fires a round. The “vanguard” has already arrived at the Capitol building and the others are trickling in along the streets. The ones who are there have started pitching tents wherever they can find room and are giving interviews with the media. Rumors are flying again: shootouts with gang-bangers (wouldn’t surprise me), the National Guard is being mobilized to keep order (ditto), a bunch of the militia are actually infiltrators (could be), the State Patrol is barricading everything at I-285 (don’t think so), the legislature will convene in Savannah (I’d be maybe a little surprised).

It’s also true that they’ve lost a few people — not dead, just dropped out. Some had to be treated for hypothermia, camping in sub-freezing weather without adequate gear. (The Boy camped out on cold nights, when he was a teenager, but stayed warm enough.) Others caught the flu that’s going around this year, and had to go home or to a clinic. If they got sick inside I-285, the ambulances took them straight to Grady — just to honk their frozen noses, I guess. Some of the older folks started walking from the various courthouses, but caught a ride when hips or knees started to seize up. I’ve had my knee act up like that, especially with the way the weather changes this time of year, so I can relate to that if nothing else. So the least mobile were among the first to arrive at the Capitol… go figure.

There’s a counter-demonstration being planned for tomorrow. I wish I had the guts to provoke armed lunatics too; if nothing else, I'd like to go with a video camera and pretend to be a news stringer or something. Mrs. Fetched, who is concerned about my income if not my safety (and she is), scotched the idea — I have to work, don’t need to waste gas going there & back, and don’t need to be doing anything that dangerous when I’m almost 54 (thanks for the reminder, honey). Oh well. I guess I’ll watch it on TV like everyone else.

continued…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 10 comments

Nearly Another Involuntary TB01

As it was Tuesday, I worked at home today. If gas prices begin their march to $4, as expected, I’ll probably go to twice a week or as often as my boss will let me get away with. Shades of FAR Future, the power was scheduled to be out all morning (and was), although my work MacBook Pro got me through the morning on battery power with plenty to spare. But, as I often do, I digress.

The Boy has not exactly been endearing himself to the rest of the family lately — on several occasions, he borrowed a car, assured us he would be home by 11, then came in some time the next morning… or afternoon. He’s been drinking when he doesn’t think we’ll notice, and generally not bothering to be helpful. I’m not sure what led to today’s fun, and I’m not sure I care to know. I do know that he’d gotten paid (at least partially) for a job he’d done a while back; he waved the $50 bill at me, but neglected to tell Mrs. Fetched that he had it. He got a check from somewhere else (Big V?) and he and Mrs. Fetched went to deposit it. On a whim, she asked for a balance and he had $10 (when there should have been $150 in there) — he’d been withdrawing it for whatever he spends his money on, and so Mrs. Fetched was already a bit miffed. Finding out he had the $50 didn’t help matters any, and she was already loading up to shoot the messenger when I pointed out that this was the first chance I’d had to tell her about it.

I was working in the bedroom, door closed to keep the background noise down. As I was about to get up to fix myself a sandwich, Mrs. Fetched screamed, “GET OUT!” The Boy yelled something I didn’t catch, then went outside through the garage. I got up to see what was going on.

Mrs. Fetched was still pretty worked up: for reasons unknown, The Boy used the “B-word” on her. “He’s outta here,” she said. “I’ve had it with his crap.” (Well haven’t we all?)

Not much to do about the situation — I fixed myself a sandwich and took it back to my desk to eat and work. After eating, I went outside where The Boy was smoking and crying, and (as I sometimes do in these situations) attempted Clue Infusion. As always, CWoT. Nothing he does is wrong, everything I said was wrong, she’s deliberately provoking him, blah-dee blah-dee blah.

Example: “You shouldn’t have called her that,” I said. “Well, she was being one.”

I didn’t tell him this, but I found his response rather amusing. As we were packing up from Granny’s birthday party Sunday, I was not doing much because I didn’t know what to do.

Mrs. Fetched barked at me, “Stop acting like an idiot!” When I brought it up later, she said, “Well, you were acting like one.”

The Boy and Mrs. Fetched, two peas in a pod. They talked a little later, and she rescinded the involuntary TB01. But I think The Boy is ready to bail out on his own; we’re just cramping his style a little too much.

It’s so much fun to work at home sometimes.

Sunday, November 11, 2007 5 comments

Going dim

I probably won't be online much through the evenings this week. Check my Twitter box from time to time, though; I'll be “tweeting” from my smellphone. If I have a while, I’ll post something out of my phone, and if I get a couple free hours I’ll post the next episode of FAR Future this week.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007 5 comments

Just Stuff

The front page says Evil has a New Face, but it looks like the same ol’ evil face I’ve seen for years. However, the breakout game is quite entertaining — try it out and you’ll see why I say so. (No, I’m not one of the high scores. Yet.)

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, and ten minutes later realized I wasn’t getting back to sleep. I actually got to work on time for a change, and (even more amazing) left on time. I’m not much motivated to do much of anything today, besides play a silly breakout game, probably because of the early wake-up. Yahoo’s “Odd News” roundup for today was just packed with items that support my theory that reality is stranger than fiction. Some stuff you just can’t make up and be believable.

Stopping at the Burger King for a veggie burger combo on the way to choir practice, they bobbled my order and I was left standing for a while. Fortunately, I wasn’t in a hurry — I was busy cogitating on a holiday story I’ve been wanting to write for a couple of years — and I got a free pie and upsized onion rings out of it.

And now I’m going to flop into bed, if Mrs. Fetched doesn’t rope me into her slideshow roundup for her Granny’s 95th birthday party this weekend…

Tuesday, November 06, 2007 3 comments

FAR Future, Episode 13

Chilly outside tonight. Will covering the peppers keep them alive?

Hello to Randy Russell aka GhostFolk, who calls FAR Future “an incredibly dynamic way to use the internet.” (Hey, I don’t have a reviews page!)

Speaking of chills, let’s get back to the story…



Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Nothing Secedes Like Success


This is worse than election season. That, you could mostly get away from for a while — turn off the TV and radio, and you’re mostly in a campaign-free bubble. Since the Secession Question is also all over the net, and (at least here) dominates discussions even in the office (although the primary concern is whether we’ll all have to move north or not), I guess adding one more blog post to the general clutter isn’t going to push it over the edge.

The dividing line crosses both parties, the usual conservative/liberal divide, north and south, age, income, and just about everything else. Pollsters say beyond southern whites over age 60 (who are 2:1 pro-secession), southern blacks (uniformly against), and anyone under age 30 (2:1 against), there are no clear demographics for either side. The Gainesville paper did one of their “You Speak” columns on the topic; the arguments, both pro and con, can get amazingly silly. Bubba Something, pictured wearing a cap with a Confederate flag on it, said he was against it. “At least wait until football season is over,” he said. “The baseball leagues already play in Canada, so they have passports and they can work stuff out before the season starts.” I guess he doesn’t follow basketball or hockey. Then there was the kid with dreadlocks (but white) and a zillion piercings, who was for it “because we won’t have gas rationing anymore and we can cruise on Saturday nights again.” Lest you think the paper is going for the weirdest examples, they had an older lady who said, “Let’s keep this one nation under God, indivisible. Didn’t we learn anything from history?” and a businessman who said (and I agree), “Secession won’t make anything better. Our infrastructure is too integrated to just rip it all apart and draw boundaries.”

I can’t even get away from the question at FAR Manor. Mrs. Fetched has asked me a variation of the same question nearly every night for the last week: what are you going to do if we secede? She seems to think I’m going to pack my bags and bail for Michigan first thing… like we have enough gas allocations to do that. Sure, I’ve given it some serious thought, but right now I’m leaning toward sticking it out here on Planet Georgia. For one thing, she won’t leave her parents, and they barely leave the county anymore. For another, there’s a really good chance this whole thing is going to fizzle out either before it gets off the ground or shortly afterwards. Emotion rules the day today, but tomorrow people might start really thinking things over.

The talking heads are acting really weird now. It’s like their patrons had given them this idea to let people blow off steam about losing another election, but it got away from them so the marching orders are now to tamp it down. I’d guess Shotgun Sam is actually anti-secession, or he’s being told to be anti-, but most of his audience are pro- so he doesn’t have the nards to come out and say it. When you make a living being as politically outrageous as the FCC will allow, sitting on a fence doesn’t work well, and it’s showing. One of the chats was almost surreal yesterday afternoon: a caller was talking about “putting everything back the way it was supposed to be, before Martin Luther King stirred bleep up and all that.”

Sam stammered(!), “Um… y’know, you need to think about that. First, you don’t know if the union will split up or not. And even if it does, you’re talking about alienating a large group of people who already have a reason to mistrust you. You could provoke an uprising and give the other side a reason to invade — and all the guns you got aren’t gonna do much against what the Army and Air Force can throw at you.”

“Naw, naw, I ain’t talkin’ no Jim Crow. They can have their place, and we can have ours, and we jus’ stay outta each other’s bidness unless we both want to.”

“So you’re talking about a nation inside a nation that just split off from another nation?” I think Sam was trying to be funny, but it fell flat.

“I guesso, if you wanna look at it that way.”

Sam pried him off and went to a commercial right away, then when he came back he was on a completely different topic. When in doubt, change the subject.

Sam’s not the only one having second thoughts. After lots of demonstrations in Boise, and Coeur d'Alene nearly shut down with all the protests, the Idaho legislature is making noises about withdrawing their petition. The only surprise about Utah, though, is that they were a little slow to jump on the bandwagon. Looks like Idaho might give Utah their seat? The mountain West has hosted some of the strangest political shifts in the last 10 years or so, and you just can’t tell who’s going to do what if you don’t live there. The lower plains states (Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas) have secession bills in their state legi’s too, but not even Texas is really showing a lot of support for the idea. (Which is fantastic news, because there would have been a war over the oil fields.)

Vermont cracked me up though: they introduced a secession bill, and then even the guy who introduced it voted against it. I guess they wanted everyone else to know where they stood on the matter.

Sunday’s the day the “citizen’s militia musters.” I called some of the Atlanta stations and asked if they’d be interested in buying video, but they’re sending a crew. Oh well, if I don’t have to get up at 4a.m. that’s a Good Thing. It would have sucked royally if I’d gone down there to video a “division” of 4 or 5 people — the TV stations wouldn’t have bought that, and I would have gotten up for nothing. We’re supposed to have a hard freeze Sunday morning, so I plan and hope to be snug in bed then. With any luck, I won’t lie awake thinking about it.

continued…

Monday, November 05, 2007 13 comments

Fire

And this is what’s left of my dad’s house. And the house next door. The house to the right caught fire first; fortunately Dad woke up before the fire spread over to his place. He was able to get out with his car, the checkbook, and the clothes he was wearing. The woman next door wasn’t so lucky; she got as far as the deck and that’s where they found her — I would guess she collapsed from smoke inhalation before she could get down the stairs and away. The fire investigators say they probably won’t ever figure out exactly what started the fire but ruled out arson.

Dad, is hoping the insurance company will hold off starting the replacement house until mid-March or so… building a house in Michigan, in winter, isn’t the brightest idea I’ve ever heard of anyway. Climate change may make it possible for people to think about building through the winter, but it still snows. But that hassle will come when it does, or not. Right now, I can rejoice that Dad's OK.

Friday, November 02, 2007 7 comments

Weekend Cinema

I hope everyone enjoyed the October special — there’s a potload of films on archive.org, and not just horror, so we’ll still make an occasional trip over there from time to time.

But starting with today's Weekend Cinema, we’re returning to the usual fare of short (but still free!) video. This week’s selection is about a man who ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a woman he meets along the way…

405: The Movie

(Bandwidth provided by Spike, you’ll have to get past a 15-second commercial. A friend sent me a WMV with the end credits cut off, which is how I “discovered” it in the first place.)

Thursday, November 01, 2007 9 comments

FAR Future, Episode 12



Friday, November 9, 2012
Election Rejection, What’s Your Secession


I’m shocked. Completely shocked.

NOT.

The 99 goplets left in the House are already calling themselves the “99 Percent’ers,” as if they’re fooling anyone. Then again, it worked for the Bolsheviks (“majority”) in 1918, when they were actually the minority. Not that I think it will work for them now. The Senate is in slightly better (for the wingies) shape, with 32 goplets left there… but they’re still working on a catchy name, I guess.

But if Wyoming and Idaho get their way, the 99 Percent’ers will lose a few members right away. The state legislatures must have had this “Petition for Dissolution” all planned ahead of time, because they were submitting it to Congress first thing yesterday morning. Smarmy SOBs anyway, blithering about how the federal government has abandoned them and irreconcilable differences and all that hoo-hah. It’s not exactly a united front on the Wrong Right — not even all the congresscritters in the affected states are on board, but some of the talk radio goobers are making it sound like the Second Coming. The Dems are similarly conflicted… some think cutting Idaho and Wyoming loose would help the budget (more tax dollars go in than come out), others don’t like the precedent. But it may come down to a matter of energy, like everything else does these days. Wyoming has some resources that the US can’t afford to just let go, and I guess both states have missile silos.

The prez’s press secretary suggests that it’s a ploy to get the feds negotiating for something or another, perhaps more reps in the House or more funding for this or that, but somehow I don’t think that’s the goal here. I really think they want to secede and create their own right-wing mountain paradise.

Rumors are flying everywhere: the prez has deployed the National Guard to seize control of coal mines in Wyoming and are positioning to “defend” the offshore platforms; southern governors are having a powwow to discuss “events of the last few days”… all of which have been officially denied, but you know how that goes, denials are just more fuel on the fire.

Scan of secessionist flyerSo I wrote all that because it provides the context for something that really has me spooked. Our allocations came in for the week, and I stopped on the way to work to top up. Someone had taped a stack of these flyers to the gas pump. The scan will be pretty hard to read, so here’s the text (misspellings left intact):

Calling all who LOVE FREEDOM

TO ARMS!

In these troubled times, we mourn the GREVIOUS LOSS of our AMERICAN FREEDOMES, as “our” government has SYSTEMATICALY REMOVED our INALIENABLE RIGHTS and LIBERTIES!

THEREFORE, we call upon ALL GOOD SONS OF THE SOUTH to support the RIGHTOUS WORK of our STATE LEGISLATURE as they debate the MERITS of SUCCESSION from these formerly United States.

On SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 18TH, we ask all ABLE-BODYED MEN to TAKE UP ARMS, meet at the Courthouse by 6 a.m., and MARCH TO ATLANTA to LEND OUR SUPPORT to our TRUE REPRESENATIVES in the Capital!

Please bring sufficient FOOD, WATER, and BEDDING for the march! We shall join with LIKE-MINDED MEN along the way and form the GEORGIA CITIZENS MILITIA to REPEL ALL ATTACKS AGANST OUR SOVERIN GOVERMENT!

If you are unable to march, but wish to LEND YOUR AID, we will have limited TRANSPORTATION on Monday afternoon.

I hope these guys are blowing hot air. Wait: actually, I hope these guys raise an army of about 30 people and half of them “desert” on the march to Atlanta. You’ll know something more as soon as I do.

continued…

Wednesday, October 31, 2007 7 comments

Writing, Music, Movies

If you’re following my Twitter feed, you saw that Asimov’s rejected my poem. There were a couple of odd aspects: it arrived about 3 weeks before I expected, and it sure doesn’t look like a form letter (which the submission guidelines led me to expect) — it was signed by hand, or at least with a machine (you can see the indent on the back), instead of the signature being printed. If it’s in fact a form letter, it’s extremely well-done. Kind of makes it hard to follow my original strategy of nailing it to the wall & giving it the finger when I sit down to write. I’m seeing mixed signals, and am probably putting too much effort into interpreting things: but the quick turnaround suggested it got whacked pretty quick, while the letter’s content suggested it might have breached the slush pile but got cut in the second round. Meh. I’ll just move on.

Speaking of moving on, I finished the “Crash and Burn” edit, which now has the working title “Old Guy” (“Road Trip 2058” left me clammy). I printed it out last night and handed it to The Boy. He’s looking through it slowly, but likes what he sees so far. Will he figure out that Old Guy is him at age 70? There are plenty of hints in the story. If he has any thoughts for improvement, I’ll make them if I agree, then let it age for a month or so. I know of a couple of things that need to be smoothed out, but I just can’t figure out how to do it yet.

We were out and about over the weekend, and I picked up Family Force 5’s “Business Up Front/Party in the Back [Diamond Edition]” CD. This is one of the bands they play on TheBlast.FM, and they’re from suburban Atlanta. It’s an odd rap/metal/techno fusion, with a bit of Christian influence, turned up to 11. This is music to dance by, not to write by, and I get a big grin out of it (if not LOL outright at tracks like “Drama Queen”). The Boy would probably enjoy it as well; he likes Skillet, who is on the same label (Gotee) as FF5 and will be my next CD purchase (“Comatose”). If you want to hear some of their stuff, they have a MySpace page (of course they do, what musicians don’t these days?), and freegotee.com has some downloads if you sign up.

Last night was going to be dedicated to finishing the next episode of FAR Future, but Mrs. Fetched started faux-whining about not having anyone to watch “We Are Marshall” with her until I gave up. I pointed out that the last two times I tried to watch a movie at the manor, the phone rang, it was for me, and the girls continued to watch the movie without me… and I really wasn’t in the mood to watch just half of yet another movie. She promised to let the phone ring w/o answering it — although when it did ring, The Boy answered it instead. Fortunately, it was for her, and she paused the movie (and that’s when I printed out the story and gave it to The Boy). As for the movie, it’s very familiar territory if you’ve seen “Remember the Titans” — replace a high school going through integration pains in the 60s with a small college trying to rebuild after a plane crash killed the team and the entire athletic department in the 70s, and go from there. Marshall didn’t have a miracle season (it was based on a true story), but the movie ends on a high note with their first win.

I’ll try to wrap up the FAR Future episode and post it tomorrow night. Here’s a teaser: for the first time, a FAR Future episode includes a graphic. It’s going to be a little scary too, even if it isn’t about Hallowe’en. Speaking of which, Daughter Dearest is out trick-or-treating (at age 18, shameless :-). Here’s hoping you have a safe and fun night!

Monday, October 29, 2007 11 comments

All a-Twitter

You may have noticed that I’ve added a Twitter box to the sidebar… the site seems to be pretty slow this evening, so if it doesn’t load right away it’s not your connection. If you’re on Twitter, let me know and I’ll add you to my “follow” list. (I’m FARfetched58 if you want to “follow” me.)

I reserve the right to jump to Jaiku, if I decide I like it better. ’Course, I won’t be able to make that decision until Google sends me an invite…

Saturday, October 27, 2007 5 comments

Must be Deer Season

Someone nearby is getting rid of his ammo, at 9pm no less. Almost sounds like Baghdad out there.

I started hunting up rock for the patio this afternoon. I found several rocks of a good size & shape (flat, a couple inches thick, small enough to handle) and several huge chunks. I guess I’ll have to borrow a tractor from the in-laws to get them up to the backyard. One of them will need the tractor just to unearth — I figure it has to weigh close to 500 lbs all by itself. I'll have to bust those big ones up, but if I can split them properly I might not need any more rock.

And if I do, finding rock on Planet Georgia is like finding water in a lake.

Friday, October 26, 2007 6 comments

Weekend Cinema

Wrapping up the October horror series, I’ll have to admit that I picked this one for the name: The Brain that Wouldn’t Die

(No, not Karl Rove — that would be horrendous, not horror.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 8 comments

A Rainy Night on Planet Georgia

…with a pretty good chance it’s going to do this all week. Here’s hoping SoCal gets some really soon.

We went to video Daughter Dearest’s chorus (and two other choirs) tonight; the occasion being a 150th anniversary commemoration for the county. Good thing I worked at home today, because we had to get there before 6 and I often don’t leave the office before then.

We’ve learned that the best place for shooting video in the school is up above the crowd. Fortunately, the front office is like a building within the building, and we can haul our cameras up on the (inside) roof to do our dirty work. Nobody walking in front of us (haven’t seen anyone levitating, anyway), but we still pick up the babies squawking. If and when we shake out some extra money, I have a shopping list for audio equipment.

Mrs. Fetched asked me to get crowd shots toward the end of each song. I’m looking forward to seeing her reaction when she sees the closeup of the young woman who ate a piece of dessert, then showed it to her little brother.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 14 comments

A Weekend Roundup

Earlier in the week, The Register coughed up a rather interesting article. I had a good laugh, then was inspired (if that’s the word) to write a poem on the subject. I decided that Asimov’s might print it, so I let it sit for a few days, made a few tweaks, and got it in the mail (before I lost my nerve). On the way back from the post office, it occurred to me that I ought to revamp the Crash and Burn story for a wider audience, and send that in too. I’ll tackle that this week. If nothing else, I’ll have a rejection letter or two I can tack to the wall in Studio FAR and give the finger to each time I go in there to write.

The septic tank is starting to get full again. At least it went almost a year this time. Mrs. Fetched is going to call the kaka-pumper tomorrow. I’m thinking of re-routing all the non-toilet drains to a garden area… we can use the water twice and that should take the load off the septic tank. Seeing how much cut basil and other herbs cost in the supermarket, a small herb farm might be a pretty decent way to put some of our acreage to use.

With more rain coming in tomorrow, and possibly staying on through most of the week (hooraayyyyyy!!!) I figured I’d better put new wiper blades on the Civic. Then I got tired of looking at the dangling windshield washers, which broke off when The Boy put it in a ditch last year, and got some new ones. Of course, I snapped off a stem when bolting it down, so I took them off and exchanged them this afternoon. Actually, I like the new ones better anyway. Finally, I got the idle adjusted (it was way too low). So now I’m ready to drive in the rain.

The homebrew is starting to mature. Maybe another week. But I need alcohol now

UPDATES: I can’t believe I forgot these.

This video (“Slam” by Pendulum) was one of the funniest things I saw all week. The music is wicked good too, if you like drum&bass. The album is on iTunes, so if I can’t find it at the store I’ll be grabbing this one for sure.

The in-laws have a muscadine vine that climbs really high. Like 12 feet. I grabbed their big stepladder & got a gallon or so. They have red & white ones growing together; the white ones are little sweeter but the reds are more numerous and have a bit more complex flavor. Muscadines are like the sunflower seeds of fruit: you do a lot of spitting (skins are tough and bitter, and they have seeds) so it’s definitely an outdoor snack. I spent a little quality time out front distributing seeds and skins around the edge of the dropoff to the road.

Saturday, October 20, 2007 7 comments

FAR Future, Episode 11

Starting with this episode, the “exactly five years from today” setting is going away. The future moves at its own speed, after all.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012
October Surprises


Not much of one, really. There are so many foreclosures in the works that even some bankers (anonymously) expressed relief that the Foreclosure Moratorium Act went through. The same goplets tried the throw the same roadblocks as always, but what do they have to lose? They’ve been toast for several years, and in two weeks they’ll be burnt toast.

That talking heads haven’t even said boo about it, which (seeing that it’s Hallowe’en tomorrow) is hardly sporting. I guess they realize that FMA is wildly popular among just about everyone, and talking about it is only going to be a distraction. Thus, they’re still pounding the fraud angle on gas rationing, and claiming selective enforcement when their own get dinged for it. The thing that got me worried, though, was earlier this week when Shotgun Sam was talking to a caller whining about yet another goplet blowout on the way. “Don’t worry about it,” Sam said. “We’ll win either way.” Then he changed the subject.

What was that about?

I don’t think they could pull off election fraud on the scale it would take to shift more than a couple of districts, but a whole state? Enough states to swing the electoral college? Not likely. I wonder if it has anything to do with those “Dixie Shall Rise” stickers I’ve been seeing on road signs and gas pumps lately.

Are the wingies planning an armed coup? Frankly, the thought prompted me to think about taking a couple weeks of vacation up north after the election. But goobers are everywhere, even if they’re not numerous in most places (Planet Georgia being an unfortunate exception). Mrs. Fetched thinks we’ll be better off staying put, since they won’t feel threatened where they’re the majority. Maybe. She also said that even if I’m right, we don’t know when things go pear-shaped — it could be next month, it could be January, or even later.

It could be some kind of secession movement. Some state reprehensible candidates started pushing this “new majority” theme last week. I spent some time trying to figure out what that meant — nobody’s crazy enough to think the goplets will have more than 100 reps in the House next year, or 20 Senators, let alone get a majority. (Except, of course, the delusional dude they have running for Prez that claims he’ll carry 40 states and 67% of the popular vote.) On Planet Georgia, of course, the legislature has been a majority for 10 or 12 years, so there’s nothing “new” about that. Unless (again) they’re plotting an overthrow, secession is the only thing I can think of that would create some kind of new majority — and I don’t think you can let that many people in on a plot to overthrow the government without someone spilling the beans. Of course, if they do try pulling something like that, Shotgun Sam’s little outburst back in late August will get him a lot of unwanted attention — he could be doing his show from a jail cell (which would be kind of fun to listen to).

Secession would bring its own problems, though, and energy would top the list. I doubt that the government would let, say, the Texas/Louisiana oil fields go without a fight. Then there’s the question of electrical supply; the grids might tie us together more tightly than the politics. Families scattered in different places, Internet links, phone links… what a mess it would be.

Wow, talk about a digression. The Foreclosure Moratorium is supposed to give people some breathing room. Home“owners” have to put their houses up for sale to avoid foreclosure, they avoid bankruptcy, and the bank sets the minimum acceptable price (although the loan-holder supposedly gets to negotiate with the bank about that). Some banks have been re-negotiating loan terms to give the buyer enough breathing room to pay the loan — the bank eats some unrealized income that they wouldn’t have gotten, and get a performing loan on the books — but some have refused to change their procedures & would up holding a ton of crumbling houses they can’t unload. Sure, if the economy ever recovers they’ll have a bunch of valuable acreage, but that in itself is a gamble. I think the FMA will push them to start taking a more reasonable line… and keep those banking execs from getting shot at or worse.

continued…

Friday, October 19, 2007 4 comments

Weekend Cinema (October horror continues!)

Long ago, CATV brought wonders of programming that we didn’t get on the Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo stations — like the South Bend UHF station that ran the “Double Creature Feature” on Saturday nights. The Screaming Skull was one of the scarier movies they showed — so it seemed at the time. Looking at the description, I wasn’t even sure it was the same movie until the first scene… nobody ever got that hokey before or since…

Enjoy! I recommend a fine wine, perhaps Thunderbird or Mad Dog 20/20, to go with this cinematic cheese.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 13 comments

Alienating Customers in Two Easy Steps

The butterfly effect: when I first got interested in blogging, I was a pretty die-hard Yahoo! user, so I went to see if they had anything. They didn’t, I wasn’t able to find any other blogging services at that moment, so I went on to other things. Some months later, I found Blogger, started TFM, and the rest is history — only later did I learn that Yahoo! had opened Yahoo!360 about a month earlier. If I’d looked at Yahoo again, or they had opened 360 up earlier, Tales from FAR Manor would have been a Yahoo blog. As it was, during that rough patch where Blogger was flaking out a lot, I was getting ready to move the whole shebang over to 360 anyway. But then Google fixed the problems and I’m still here… except that I started a work-related blog, under my real name, at 360.

Like most beta software, 360 has had its share of growing pains. Some less than well-executed moves by Yahoo, however, made things worse — for example, after buying Flickr, Yahoo decided to migrate Yahoo Photos to Flickr. The transition did not go well for many people, and (perhaps reflecting the older crowd on 360) the change was not well-received in any case.

Things came to a head in the last month or so. Whenever the 360 team added a new post to the product blog (might only be visible to 360 members, not sure), people raised the same issues: problems with the photo transition, blog-stalkers, disappearing posts or entire blogs, friends being deleted — over and over, and no recognition from the 360 team that the problems were being worked on or that they were even reading the comments. Then the communications pretty much dried up completely after a post on August 10. Rumors started flying, especially after Jerry Yang included 360 in a list of items that were being de-emphasized during the conference call (following 3rd-quarter financial reports).

Looking for any way to get Yahoo to notice the issues on 360, many users took to posting on Yahoo's Mash feedback forum. (Mash is a new social-networking site, owned by Yahoo and apparently targeted to a much younger demographic than the typical 360 user.) The Mash folks responded, at least, even if they deleted 360-related posts, but the volume must have gotten a bit much because Darrell Jones posted something for the first time in two months: Yahoo! 360º Questions? Let’s Talk (Uhhh, Right Here). The title was taken by some to be rather condescending — after all, there had been no communication for two months and the post content still contained no recognition that they were paying attention to the problems people were having… then over 1600 comments, with no response again, infuriated people even more. Darrell’s new nickname became “UHHH.” Some people found Darrell’s 360 blog, which hadn’t been updated since February, and started leaving “Quick Comments.” After a couple days of that, Darrell simply turned off Quick Comments with no other response.

Finally after nearly a week, Matt Warburton (they at least saw that Darrell was toast with the users) posted The Evolution of Yahoo! 360, which (yet again) was short on specifics, only promising “that Yahoo! 360 will transition to a new universal Yahoo! profile that will be closely tied to other relevant services across Yahoo!, and will include improved blogging capabilities.” Many 360 users took this to mean that Mash (which, like Myspace and Facebook, is profile- rather than blog-oriented) would be the new way forward — of the over 900 comments posted so far, many of them boiled down to “If I wanted Myspace, I’d be on Myspace. Just fix the bugs.”

But it may be too late. In the “Evolution” post comments, many are threatening to leave if 360 becomes Mash'ed up, others have said they’re already leaving. It’s probably true: Bloggers Anonymous has reported falling membership due to people leaving 360. According to the comments in the “Evolution” post, many are leaving for Multiply.

It would be a shame to lose 360. There are several nice features that Blogger simply doesn’t have, or exist only as third-party add-ons. First, the “Blast” lets bloggers put a brief banner message (with an optional link) at the top — it’s like an integrated Twitter. Quick Comments, which I mentioned earlier, is a built-in shout-box. And the “friends” and “groups” lists are something we have to do manually here on Blogger. Of course, there are also things that 360 is missing that Blogger has, like drafts and the ability for non-members to leave messages. It will be interesting to see if Google’s Orkut re-launch (coming next month) will add some social-networking aspects to Blogger. I’m sure a lot of 360 users are wondering about it as well.

So Yahoo has shown us how to alienate customers in two easy steps:

1) Let problems languish for months with no action or response.

2) When forced to respond, be condescending and don’t respond further.

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