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Annoying weird happenings dept.

My computer got major bugs last night that made it impossible to get online. I was getting all kinds of Windows shut-down errors, and no matter what I did, nothing seemed to work. I realized it was a Win98 error and called CompUSA, where I bought my system. Got a recording telling me they'd be charging me for service. I bought an extended warranty, so I went and found my warranty and went there. They told me it was software, and not covered, and that I needed to use the recovery CDs (which I had not noticed were in my VAIO box, which I have been saving for two years because I always save computer boxes). They don't have Sony Win98 CDs--Sony is cheap and won't give them to them. The technical assistance disks that came with my Vaio were for Win95, which are useless to me. They gave me the Win98 technical assistance disks. I go home, I call Sony, they say they no longer support my two-year-old model. So I start trying the recovery process. First I put in the technical disk and scan the whole system. It reports no errors at all. Then I eat dinner, since it's now dinner time. Then I try the System Recovery CD. Well, I accidentally reload the modem drivers, but that didn't fix it. I try to run the recovery disk, which has an install.exe or setup.exe file, I forget which. I get a DOS error that says "bad parameters". I try it from the DOS window. Same problems. Finally, I get annoyed and shut down the machine and watch the tube. Boy, Batman and Robin was really bad. I only watched a few minutes of it, but it was awful. Arnold was never a good actor, but man--I'd be ashamed to say that was me, if I were him. And that so-called script--someone actually took credit For it? Ugh. I knew there was a reason I never wanted to see it. But I digress.

So the upshot of it is: I get back to my computer, and try the recovery disk again. It tells me "bad parameters" again. I uninstall Norton Antivirus (which I'd reinstalled from the recovery disks to see if I had a virus) because I was seeing "too many parameters" at boot-up. And then I decide to try to get online.

Everything works. It works just fine. I can update my website and send and receive email and surf the Web.

Go figure.

Mom is a morphine addict

Okay, she's not, really, but she did have her knee replaced a few days ago, and she is on morphine, and I did have a hilarious chat with her on the phone this afternoon.

My brother calls me late morning to tell me that Mom's being transferred to the rehab center, which is in the next town to me, so that's convenient and good news. I call the rehab center and ask them when she's due. They're not sure, but they offer to call me when she gets there. I'm fine with that. I go about my errands (laundry--ugh) and get another call from my brother a couple hours later. Mom's doctor decided that she's too confused from the pain medication, so she's not going anywhere. The nurse from rehab calls me and tells me the same thing. I tell her that Mom is always confused, so how can they tell? There is a pause until I say, "In a non-Alzheimer's kind of way," when she realizes that I was joking. Duh Moment on her part.

So I call Mom and tell her that since it is now 3 p.m., and the traffic heading west on 80 is already impossible, I'll come visit her tomorrow. She agrees with me and then says, "There's veal cutlets in the freezer if you want to make them for dinner."
"If you want veal for dinnerů"
"Mom, I don't want veal for dinner."
"Well, there's other things, too. You don't have to have veal."
At that point, I begin to realize how drugged out she is. I finally get her to get off the topic of my cooking dinner and tell her that, coincidentally, I'm making a turkey breast for dinner and would she like me to bring some for lunch tomorrow.

"That would be lovely. But I have to go out and buy the cranberry sauce first."
"Mom, how are you going to do that?"
"Oh, yeah, that's right."

Talking to people on morphine is definitely an interesting experience. I get the feeling I could call her now--at midnight--and she wouldn't mind a bit. Or remember that I called.--MAY



Madness takes its toll

Yeah, well, what can I say? It sucks being unemployed. The last few days I had plenty to say, but no desire to say it due to circumstances beginning to weigh down upon me. Have I mentioned yet how much it sucks to be unemployed?

So the last few days were pretty nondescript. Finished the last week of Tai Chi. Visited Mom in the hospital. They're replacing the other knee; now she has two plastic knees. Cyborgs are here, and they're not made of metal.

The really cool thing about going to the hospital today was discovering that St. Clare's has a "Bargain Barn" affiliated with it. There were hundreds of used books for 50 cents to a couple of bucks. I got 12 books for six dollars. I'm a happy camper. Leo Rosten's The Joys Of Yiddish for 50 cents! Instant Java 1.1 for fifty cents! Classic Doonesbury for two dollars! (There were four in the boxed set--I probably could have held out for maybe a buck, but what the heck--twelve books for six bucks!

I love a good used book sale. There's something about the musty smell of old, moldering books that just strikes joy into my heart. Hey, if Staples sold used books as well as everything else it sells, I'd just move in and never leave.--MAY

This Just In:

You have GOT to click here to read about reading, or the lack thereof. The Washington Post had a phenomenal article about American reading habits (thanks, Kim!)



Weighing in on McVeigh

Okay, I've been trying not to get involved with this subject, because the death penalty is a topic that drives me crazy. Most of the times, I'm against it. But if someone murdered, say, (God forbid!) my brother, I'd want that person to hang for it. And sometimes, when I'm too disgusted with the depravity of certain crimes, I don't believe in the death penalty--I believe in torture. But that's generally only when I'm really down on humanity. Most times, as I said, I'm against it.

No matter what you hear, jail isn't a country club, and removing a person's civil rights for their entire life is quite a punishment for most people. Think about it. You get told when to go to sleep, when to get up, when to eat your meals, when to take a shower, when to take your exercise, when to watch TV--there isn't a thing you do in prison that isn't supervised. And it's supervised by men with guns. You control absolutely nothing in your life. And if you think about someone like McVeigh, that lack of control is like dying a little death every day. Especially since he would be under the thumb of the Federal government the rest of his life--the very organization he despises most.

Also consider: If you've committed a particularly heinous crime, you're in your cell 23 hours a day and only let out for an hour--unless you screw that up, then you just sit and rot 24 hours a day.

I say let McVeigh sit and rot 24 hours a day. No television, no interviews, no visitation rights, no nothing. No pens, no papers, no books. Tell me you wouldn't go crazy with 24 hours a day on your hands and ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do. And try going to a judge and complaining that being forced to do nothing all day is cruel and unusual punishment. I think not. In Japan, in fact, they use that very same tactic to punish workers who don't toe the company line.

The truth is where?

But the thing I really wanted to say about the McVeigh case: I can understand misplacing one document, or ten, or even a dozen or two. Thirty-seven because they're in a file that slipped into another case file while being moved around on a government worker's desk. But misplacing over 3,000 documents? Can you say, "Fuel for Conspiracy Theorists the world over?" I knew you could.--MAY



Happy Hallmark Cards Day

Yes, friends, it's another one of those Hallmark Holidays. Like Valentine's Day (also known as VD to those of us of the skeptic religion) and Father's Day, Secretary's Day and <kaff!> Boss's Day, today is an ode to remembering to buy a gift or flowers or a card. And of course, if you don't get something for your mother, you'll be getting the guilt for the rest of your life. Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!

Hm. Did that come off as too cynical?

Oh, I got the gift and the card. I'm not into masochism. The only year I neglected Mother's Day was when I was a teenager. I didn't get a card or a gift because I was mad at my mother, and my brothers didn't get a card or a gift because, well, they're men. Or, at that point in time, they were boys. If I didn't remind them, it didn't get done. Well, Mom was more pissed off that day than I'd ever seen her. I gloried in it for a while, then relented and ran down to the neighborhood florist for a bouquet, and she was all sunshine and light for the rest of the day.

Funny, now that I think of it--her reaction was one of anger, not sadness or disappointment. Gee. I wonder where my anger comes fromů

Don't look at me like that

I'm taming my anger, though, and everyone who has known me for at least five years has seen the changes. In fact, I can demonstrate the changed Meryl with an anecdote only hours old. On the way to West Coast Video yesterday afternoon, I was walking on the sidewalk of the parking lot next to the store, where I parked my car. Some jerk in one of those supersized Ford pickup trucks pulls into the driveway of the store, which happens to be exactly where (on the sidewalk, mind you!) I am walking. I look up to see this giant truck coming towards me and I freeze, thinking it would be safer if I was not in front of a two-ton vehicle, and trying to decide if I have to jump out of the way or if the driver is going to stop. I wait a moment to see what the driver is going to do. He then beeps at me and starts waving his arms. Okay, so then my patience gets a little over the top, and I wave my arms at him and yell, "Hey! Who's the one who's walking here?" and stare at him for a moment, then I walk in front of the truck and he pulls into the parking lot.

You may be wondering where the lack of anger is in this story. I'm getting to it. Keep your shirts on. Geez.

So I get the DVD (Miss Congeniality, review to come), go back to my car, and see his monster truck parked in the row behind mine. Then I see the driver getting out of a store across the street. I get into my Jeep and decide to back up next to his truck and wait for him to say a few words. He walks up to his truck, sees me sitting in my Jeep, recognizes me--and I decide that it's simply not worth it and drive on without saying a word. Although I must admit, I did give him The Look. And I knew I was giving him The Look.

The Look is, well, the look I get on my face when I'm angry. I call it my "fuck-you look", because that is exactly what my face is saying when I'm wearing that expression. It has been captured on videotape, much to my chagrin, but at least I finally got to see what it looks like. Have you ever tried to glare at yourself in a mirror to see what you look like when you're angry? People used to say, "Don't look at me like that!" so often I tried to glare at myself to see what the heck they were so afraid of. I could never manage to scare myself. Then I saw the videotape my cousin took of me about five years ago. When I was a smoker, I never cared to be photographed or videotaped smoking. Howard caught me on tape. I gave him The Look. I saw the tape. It was one of those Oh Moments. As in, "Oh. That is a nasty look."

But you see, I didn't get into a screaming match with the guy. I just gave him The Look. Which he deserved, for trying to squash me with his truck.--MAY



Of Faires With an "e" and duckherding

There was what was billed as "An English Country Faire" at a park in my town today. Normally, I despise adding an "e" to words like "old" and "fair". "Ye Olde" in front of anything "Shoppe" causes me to veer to the opposite side of the street. I find it pretentious and just plain dumb.

But I wanted to see if the "Faire" would be any "Funne", so I drove by this morning. There are a lot of Irish immigrants in my town, and their English Country Faire could more properly have been called an Irish Country Faire, as there were many things Celtic and some things Scots there, with only a Fish & Chips shop and the Union Jack to represent the British.

There were several demonstrations of things British, but the neatest demonstration was the man with the border collies. First he had them herd sheep, which was fun to watch. Then he had them herd ducks, which was incredibly amusing to watch, as I'd never seen anyone try to herd ducks before. I asked him before he began if he was going to herd the ducks in the pond or did he bring his own. Alas, he said he wouldn't be going after the Canadian geese in the pond. His own ducks were flightless Chinese waterfowl, but boy, could they run. It took the dogs a few chances before they got all of them going in the right direction, over the little duck bridges and through the little duck hoops (I'm not making this up). That's what I found the funniest. That, and the way the sheep scarfed up the grass every time the dogs stopped and let them stand still for a moment. You'd think they'd never eaten before.

There was another fun contest sponsored by the local animal shelter. It was for dogs, and the events ranged from Worst Behaved to Barks Best. I particularly liked the Hot Dog Challenge. It was to test your dog's obedience. A volunteer from the audience put a hot dog on the grass. The owner then led their dog to the area where the hot dog was, encouraged the dog to find the hot dog and pick it up, then ran like hell back to the starting line. The dog was supposed to bring the hot dog to the starting line. The first two dogs ate the hot dogs before they'd gone three steps back towards the start. Finally, one of the dogs got to the start line without eating the hot dog. It was hilarious to watch.

Today's events almost made me wish I had a dog. Almost. Maybe I can just rent one for the nice weekend days and bring it for a walk in the park.--MAY