Lunaya Pravda

30 July 2006


I apologize for all the angry ranting lately... it's been a rough couple of weeks. Since my house was burglarized on Tuesday, I haven't been able to sleep in my own bed because it creeps me out to think of some stranger rifling through my bedroom. Instead, I've slept on the couch, which isn't nearly as comfortable or satisfying, so I'm a tad cranky.

Went to pawn shops yesterday with the miniscule hope that I'd be able to track down my lost jewelry, but no such luck. I started to head home, incredibly depressed and despondant, but when I neared home, I changed course and found myself driving to the art supply store. Some pastels, a sketch board, paper, charcoal and other supplies found their way into my basket.

So late last night, when I was feeling the despair, I picked up the sketch board and got started. My past preferred medium was pencil, but lately I've been willing to branch out and try something new.

The preoccupation with something else, something productive yet also solely for me, comforts me. For several hours I sketched, blended, tried, erased, made mistakes and fixed them, and not once during that time did my mind wander to all my recent losses. The sense of a catharsis is with me even as I type this.

I realize now how much I missed sketching. In the past, I turned to drawing to calm my troubled mind, to give it a single purpose at which all my energy and attention would be focused. But the fear of screwing up, of wasting my effort drawing something worthy of only the trash heap, kept me from picking up a pencil again. I've been so concerned with the end product rather than the process that I haven't sketched for nearly 7 years. And instead of facing my fears, I missed out on 7 years of improvement in my drawing skills. While worrying about wasting my time drawing, I wasted my time by not drawing.

But that stops right now.


27 July 2006

To the bastards who broke into my house... Part II

I should add "Thank you" for taking the broken fan I had sitting outside waiting to be taken apart. And while I'm at it, thank you for leaving all my functioning fans still in the house.

I left the fan outside waiting to be dismantled so it would fit in the garbage can. A fan blade had completely snapped off and was rattling around inside, so I'm not sure how stupid you'd have to be to miss that fact. But I do appreciate that I have one thing to remove from my To Do list.

However, my To Do list got one item shorter and many items longer because of you, so don't think I'm feeling any warm fuzzies over all this just yet.

And screw you for wiping your bloodiness on my white shirt. Asshole.

Labels: ,

25 July 2006

To the bastards who broke into my house today

Eat shit, you asshats. I hope that the wounds you got destroying my kitchen door inflict upon you a severe case of tetanus and lockjaw, cause blood poisoning, turn gangrenous, and/or eventually cause you to drop dead from necrotizing faciitis. Any one of these afflictions would suffice as karmic punishment, but I'm seriously hoping divine intervention can give you all of them simultaneously.

There, I feel a *teensy* bit better. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...


18 July 2006

Work crap

Last week, my professional life was dealt a rather unpleasant blow, and in a manner that caught me completely off-guard. Because I've been so stunned and so unprepared, it's taken me days to even feel like discussing it at all; I haven't told a soul. It turns out a person with whom I used to work, and who was, for a brief-yet-still-too-long period, my supervisor, is suddenly going to be thrown back together with me on a project. After I made a concerted effort to sever all ties between us.

This woman is what I consider to be the worst coworker I've ever had. She spent hours on personal phone calls. She worked only four days a week, yet never managed to book any appointments on her day off. In fact, about every other week she left work early for a "dentist appointment" for her or her daughter. She took two hours in the middle of the day to work out, and still managed to come in late and leave early. Most of this, while it grated on my nerves, I was able to work around.

But the shit really started when she was made my supervisor. Promoted not because of work performance, because I'm not certain she did any work, but because of close personal relationships with a couple of key higher-ups. During those few months, she took credit for my work. She put herself in line for training that had been previously planned for me when the right project came along. And she got a big, fat bonus for all of it.

All this time, it was clear to me (and many others) she had no technical abilities whatsoever. She talked a good game, but when it came down to doing the work, the products were always of highly questionable quality. When someone whose job description includes a significant amount of quality control doesn't understand the definition of "quality", the ramifications of her poor work rain down upon the rest of us. Any attempts - some subtle, some not - to point these inconvenient facts out to management fell on deaf ears.

After a few months, she was removed as supervisor, but the damage was irreparable. I started the job hunt, and six LONG months later, I quit and moved two states away. My chosen profession is the proverbial small world, but I figured with the difference in the types and locations of projects our respective companies pursued, we shouldn't cross paths again. For about a year, this proved true, and I settled into a work pattern free of her bullshit.

Well, she stunned her company support network by quitting, and found another job (if only they'd have called ME for a reference), about a year after I escaped. And then the calls and emails started again. After some brief and reserved correspondence back and forth, I stopped replying. As her former supervisor has since figured out, this woman maintains contact with people if and only if they have something to offer. The last email I received from her about 7 months ago informed me that her new firm had a job for me if I needed one, and that her cat had died. Again, I didn't respond. Rarely is anything she offers worth all the strings attached to it, and truthfully, I had nothing pleasant to say.

So just how did she reenter my life last week? By calling me - at work. It turns out our companies are two of many players on a large, large project. Each firm has named one person to head up a particular set of tasks, and she and I were named for our respective companies.

A little warning would have helped immensely. She knew we'd be working together, but I had no idea - when I was named for the project, her firm hadn't yet announced their representative. A cold call from the penultimate person on earth I'd like to hear from (an ex of mine still holds the title of "Last Person on Earth I'd Like to Hear From")... it was the Shock and Awe of my professional life, and the campaign is still being waged.

So now how do I brace myself for working with this leech? I can't hope the quality of her work has improved; given our roles, it would be unwise to plan on it. I certainly can't run around bad-mouthing her - it would reflect poorly on my firm and on me, and I might turn out to be wrong. And, there's always the off-chance that while she's heading up this aspect of her firm's efforts, she won't actually be providing the products.

But I've never been skilled at maintaining a pretense of friendship, and she makes pretending even more difficult than most. So many conversations with her are ABOUT HER that I am often nearly overwhelmed with the urge to chew my own arm off rather than continue holding the phone. The thought of feigning interest in her life while plastering on a fake smile for the next four months depresses me.

Dammit. Just how am I supposed to do this without any snide commentary to get me through? And how am I supposed to manage if the quality of her work makes MY job that much harder? In the name of all things holy, how???

Maybe I should chew my arm off. Worker's comp and a few months of disability sound infinitely more appealing right now.

Labels: ,

16 July 2006


I made my first ever batch of homemade raspberry freezer jam today.

In the past, my wonderful mother has always provided me with jam, even sending it to me express while I was in college. But, as much as I can wish she'd live - and make jam - forever, I figure this is one thing I must know how to make for myself. Storebought jams and jellies have never held much appeal to me, primarily because the cooking dramatically alters the taste of the fruit. Freezer jam, on the other hand, tastes like fresh fruit. Yes, it doesn't have the longevity of cooked jam, but it can stay frozen for 18 months or so and still be edible. And freezer jam requires much less effort.

One thing that drives me nuts about making any new recipe is that I don't have the fluid kitchen motions down. I'm constantly shifting and maneuvering and balancing to grab and poor and stir. I must have poured the raspberry puree back and forth between bowls at least three times because I couldn't decide which bowl would be better.

And I'm always messier those first few times. Even as I've typed this, I've found spots of rasberry puree on my arms. It's like sand after a beach outting - I'm finding it everywhere (okay, how did I get jam on the bathroom mirror???).

But the jam appears to be setting up nicely, and if it comes out well, I may take some to a few friends (I certainly won't subject them to feeling obligated to compliment me on the jam if it comes out poorly). The sense of accomplishment provides my drive for these endeavors.

(K. - I wish I could give you a pint for bringing me these canning jars, but sadly, freezer jam doesn't ship that well in 100+ degree heat, either. So get your behind in gear and move already!)

Labels: ,

09 July 2006

Macaroni and cheese

Oven 350°

2 Cups dried macaroni
3-4 Cups shredded cheese of choice

White sauce
4 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
2 Cups milk
salt to taste (optional)

Cook macaroni according to package directions.

Melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir for 3-5 minutes. Add milk in slowly, and stir until thickened. (I've found the sauce thickens much quicker if you heat the milk beforehand, either on the stove or in the microwave.) Add salt if desired and remove from heat.

In a baking dish, add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom. Add a thin layer of macaroni, followed by a layer of cheese and another layer of sauce. Repeat layers as desired, finishing with a layer of cheese. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.


06 July 2006

Why's and Wherefore's

My commute affords me much time to ponder. This particular morning, my train of thought brought to recall a story of educational testing lore I heard in my college years. In some (perhaps mythical) class, students showed up to take their final exams. The instructor handed out the papers, upon which was written a single question: "Why?" Now, according to the story, failing credit was assured for the answer "Because." And, according to the story, only one student achieved a perfect score on his exam, responding with a more impressive "Why not?"

It struck me today how much this illustrates the comparison of thought processes of freedom-oriented folks with everyone who desires some level of state interference. It also hit home how unsatisfactory "Because" - or even the more parental "Because I said so" - has sounded to me, and I realized that, even in my childhood, only begrudgingly have I accepted either answer, often only after a lengthy debate which made it clear that no better answer would be forthcoming.

Most of the freedom folk I've been fortunate to know don't take to hearing "Because" as a justification either. Whether it's the war on drugs, immigration, property rights restrictions, or taxation, "Because" has never been sufficient to gain our acceptance of some new policy or practice foist upon us by bureaucrats, voters, or anyone in any position of authority. Rather than the response of the failing students, we prefer the A+-garnering "Why not?" for a couple of reasons.

First, it involves asking a question that, in any responsible logical exchange, should be asked, from decisions as mundane as whether to bring a jacket to the ball game, to significant, big-picture questions involving finances or careers. Second, it acknowledges possibility. Possibility of success, of failure, of being right or being wrong, of pros and cons. It acknowledges the existence active thought processes a curt "because" hasn't once demonstrated.

Lately I've become greatly dismayed at how often I read or hear folks use "because" in their circular logic as a weak justification for our current laws and policies. I'll use immigration to illustrate my point, though examples abound. It goes something like this:

Illegal immigrants broke the law.

How did they break the law?
By not jumping through utilizing the proper hoops channels to work here legally.

Why should there be hoops?
To keep immigrants from coming here illegally.

Would they still be illegal if we didn't require all the hoop-jumping?
That's beside the... oh, look! Something shiny! (wanders off to watch television)

When the laws are subject to whim and a simple pen stroke, they cease to be a firm foundation for any political or personal stance. Yet apparently a large segment of Americans can't fathom asking why certain laws are even necessary. "Because" is all they need be told in order to toe the line and justify (to themselves, at least) their actions.

As for me personally, I find "Why not?" to be refreshing and invigorating. Forthwith I intend to more consciously use it in my own life, and to more actively challenge the "Because" users around me.


05 July 2006

Adams on flag burning

Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, has nicely summed up his thoughts (and mine) on the concept of flag burning.

But symbols are personal things, and everyone is free to interpret them however they see fit. For me, a flag that I’m NOT allowed to burn is a symbol that the government is too intrusive in my life. And it’s an insult to anyone who died to defend freedom. But that’s just me. You might prefer your symbols of freedom to have as many restrictions as possible.

It seems to me that the great thing about the flag is that it symbolizes something inherently indestructible: the concept of freedom. You can burn the flag as many times as you want and the concept of freedom is not only still there – it’s stronger.

(emphasis mine, props to the Bonehead of the Day for the find)

Labels: ,