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The People's Central Air Defense Headquarters
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2nd-Feb-2010 12:19 am - Small Victories
The other day I happened to catch someone experiencing one of my very favorite feelings. The minor win. When something is being really unnecessarily frustrating, and you suddenly figure it out and save the day.

I was buying new razors at CVS, and there was an older gentleman in front of me on line. He was picking up photos, and had apparently been there for a while. I didn't pay too much attention, but it seemed like somehow his name and phone number wound up linked to somebody else's card, so his stuff wasn't where it was supposed to be. A couple cashiers had attempted to help him, but my guy was the one who finally found the goods.

Maybe he didn't see me, or maybe he didn't care, but when the customer left my cashier turned to his co-worker, threw his hands in the air, and declared - one emphatic syllable at a time - "I! AM! UNTOUCHABLE!"

I was grinning for a while after that.
6th-Aug-2009 11:30 pm(no subject)
Good news on the mysterious, inconvenient supercold front: it seems to have peaked!

I base this claim on my unwillingness to believe that there's a stage worse than "when you sneeze, you also throw up." That's right, it's all uphill from here.

Which is nice, because I'm leaving for Atlantic City tomorrow. It's all about the timing, friends.

If anyone wants to request a spot for me to play in roulette or something, shout 'em out! I'm more than willing to tell you I played it when I come home. Have a great weekend! (I will!)
19th-Jun-2009 12:06 am - Now I Know How Indie Kids Feel
With the sudden trendiness of Iranian politics, my insistence on following foreign elections has finally paid dividends.

People may have rolled their eyes and turned away when I supported Stephane Dion in Canada. And my cheerleading for Singh in India drew just one lonely tweet of support. But now I get to be the guy who was down with Mousavi before Mousavi was cool. So take that, posers.

As Reel Big Fish says, it's not so bad being trendy.

EDIT: I've been on twitter too long. Writing in (relative) long form feels so good.
14th-May-2009 11:32 pm(no subject)
So I'm walking down the old 6th grade hall from the elementary school, and I have a distinct and unsettling feeling that I'm being followed. So I duck into a room that turns out to be the Indie office at SB, except painted a deep red and very harshly and brightly lit. All the staffers I know are there, and laughing to each other, but totally serious when they look at me.

I leave, and start walking home (outside the elementary school again). Now I can hear someone behind me. Suddenly it's night, in winter, and I'm in the back of a really old convertible. I hear a voice whispering in my ear. I don't remember any of it except "He's using you." For some reason I have the impression that the speaker is Will. But then the voice changes and becomes menacing. An arm comes from behind the car and grabs mine, pulling me back. My arm is pulled behind my head, but I don't move, and I still hear the voice. The other arm breaks, the bone sticks through the skin.

I'm in bed, the room is dark and I think I'm awake. But I still can't move my arm. Then I hear the voice, clearer than ever. "I'm here."

Now I can't move at all. I call out "Who's here?" But my words are slurred. "Who's here?" again. Finally, I cry for help.

I woke up somewhere along the line, but since the last part of that was set in my room, in the darkness, I'm not sure exactly when. Presumably after I started shouting, since nobody came running into my room.

This is what I get for trying to go to bed early...
Dear Kobolabalaba,

It should come as no surprise to you that I am simply devastated at the news of your intended absence from this Saturday evening’s Beerfest. That being the case, it should be plainly obvious to all parties that said absence is motivated wholly by a deep and abiding distaste for the Irish in general, Walshes in particular, and me as an individual.

Such prejudices have long been suspected, but it was my fervent desire that I should be able, through kindness and perseverance, to win over some small portion of your sympathies. I see now that such hopes were misplaced. As a result, not only have my feelings been grievously injured, but my presence in such a hopelessly downtrodden state will no doubt impede the ability of those around me to enjoy themselves to a significant degree.

I feel confident enough in this assertion that I have contacted my legal counsel to begin quantifying the pecuniary equivalent of the inevitably severe mental and emotional damages that must surely flow from your reckless decision to forgo attendance at the celebration. He has assured me that he will also look into whether or not criminal charges might simultaneously be brought.

I tell you this not in an attempt to guilt you into altering your plans, but merely as an advisory notice. Despite your callous behavior at present, memories of the several meals you purchased for my benefit while I was in dire straits are still too near to my heart for me not to provide you ample time to seek representation of your own. Be forewarned, however: my guy’s good.

Very truly yours,

Alexander Steven Sebastian Walsh
2nd-May-2009 10:26 am - Reading FDR by Jean Edward Smith
The Eleanor Roosevelt school of motherhood:
"“I had never any interest in dolls or little children,” she wrote, “and I knew absolutely nothing about handling or feeding a baby.” Having heard that fresh air was good for babies, Eleanor ordered a small chicken wire cage constructed and, placing Anna in it, hung the contraption out a rear window at the town house in New York. It was on the north side of the building, cold and shady, and the baby often cried, but Eleanor paid no attention. Finally, an irate neighbor threatened to report the Roosevelts to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. “This was rather a shock to me,” Eleanor recalled, “for I thought I was being a very modern mother.”"

In 1912, before his campaign to hold his NY State Senate seat, FDR caught typhoid. He spent the whole campaign in bed in NYC, while his campaign manager Louis Howe managed his re-election. He won without ever setting foot in his district.
“In what surely ranks as one of the greatest examples of chutzpah of modern politics, Howe, over FDR's signature, wrote the voters of Columbia County on November 1 to attack Franklin's Republican opponent for not having visited the county during the campaign. FDR, meanwhile, was still flat on his back on East Sixty-Fifth Street.”

On his first day as Assistant Secretary of the Navy:
"“Dearest Mama,” Franklin wrote after he settled in, “I am baptized, confirmed, sworn in, vaccinated – and somewhat at sea! For over an hour I have been signing papers which had to be accepted on faith – but I hope luck will keep me out of jail.”"
13th-Apr-2009 07:51 am - Advisability
"Get yourself a hut house not too far from town, live cheap, go ball in the bars once in a while, write and rumble in the hills and learn how to saw boards and talk to grandmas you damn fool, carry loads of wood for them, clap your hands at shrines, get supernatural favors, take flower arrangement lessons and grow chrysanthemums by the door, and get married for krissakes, get a friendly smart sensitive human-being gal who don't give a shit for martinis every night and all that dumb white machinery in the kitchen."

"Oh," says Alvah sitting up glad, "and what else?"

"Think of barn swallows and nighthawks filling the fields."
12th-Apr-2009 04:31 pm - Re: The British
From the wikipedia article about the BBC show Have I Got News For You:
- In a 1994 episode, Deayton read out the following: "The BBC are cracking down on references to Ian and Kevin Maxwell, in case programme-makers appear biased in their treatment of these two heartless, scheming bastards." ... the Maxwell brothers were about to go on trial, and on 26 July 1996, the BBC and Hat Trick Productions were fined £20,000 in the High Court for Contempt of Court.
- In 1996, a book based on the series, Have I Got 1997 for You, noted about Conservative MP Rupert Allason that "...given Mr Allason's fondness for pursuing libel actions, there are also excellent legal reasons for not referring to him as a conniving little shit". Mr Allason then pursued a libel action against BBC Worldwide and Hat Trick Productions over the remark. He lost the case.
-When Roy Hattersley failed to appear for the 4 June 1993 episode — it was the third time he had cancelled at the last minute — he was replaced with a tub of lard (credited as "The Rt. Hon. Tub of Lard MP"), as it was "imbued with much the same qualities and liable to give a similar performance". The Tub of Lard was on Merton's team, which went on to win.

Not from the wikipedia article about the BBC show Have I Got News For You:

Some Ho: Sir, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea.
Winston Churchill: Madame, if you were my wife, I'd drink it.
23rd-Mar-2009 10:03 pm - My Word of the Day
The literal translation is "Life artist."
A connoisseur of the art of living.
A person who approaches life with the zest and inspiration of an artist.

Does anyone know any real life lebenskünstlers?

EDIT - Another good one: Spanungsbogen. The self-imposed delay between the desire for a thing and the action of reaching out to get that thing. Apparently I need to learn German.
12th-Mar-2009 08:49 pm - Catlike
Earlier, I tweeted:
"Omg! Just saved a life (probably) with my reflexes! Details on LJ later."

Here's how it went down.

I'm doing a document review at this other firm's office in Danbury. Basically, our client is suing their client. Normally each side will make up a list of documents (or types of documents) they think the other side has and demand them. In this case, the other side just said "Hey, we've got a shitload of documents. We're not going to go through and see what's responsive to your demands. You do it." Our client didn't want to pay for the lawyer's time to sift through twelve boxes of documents. My time is cheaper, so they sent me. Fuuuuuuuun.

Today's day four.

So I was working, working, working... and I went over to the mall for a Big Mac for lunch. (Very quick drive from that office. It takes me as long to get to the mall as it does for Ben Folds to play "Landed." Exactly.) When I came back, two of the lights in the conference room I'm set up in had burnt out.

They sent their maintenance guy in to set me up with some new bulbs. He's an older guy, kind of heavy, and very friendly. He'd be the perfect mall Santa. He stood up on a chair to open up the light panel, and glanced down at the table.

"Is that glass on top of the table?" he asks. It was. Just a glass covering on a wood table, but glass, and frankly something I'd have expected him to know. What with working there and all.

Having noted the glass, I figured he'd be staying off the table, but I backed up anyway to give him some space. And what's he do? Steps right up onto the table.

At this point another fact I'd have expected him to know came into play. This is not a table with four legs, it's a centrally supported table. So when a man with a build similar to Father Christmas stands on one side, it can be reasonably expected to tilt right on over. And that's exactly what it did.

As the table became increasingly diagonal, my hapless acquaintance threw his hands up to steady himself against the ceiling. Enter the third thing he probably should have known about. Ceiling tiles. Not exactly sturdy. Yeah, his hands just shot right up into the ceiling, raining down dust, dead bugs, and little shavings of whatever ceiling tiles are made of. And the tilt toward the wall continued.

Now, all this probably seems like it's taking some time, but that's just because I like to add an unnecessary amount of words to my stories. No, it was a split second. And as he was pushing up at the tiles, I was leaping into action. Had I not politely cleared out of the area three paragraphs ago, those dead bugs might still be in the ceiling.

I pushed down on the other side of the table. It felt a lot cooler than it sounds. The key here isn't the action itself, it's the reflexes! I was on the spot! That old man was going down! My pushing steadied it enough that he could move to the center and not careen back into the wall.

Moral of the story: I'm like a ninja.

Epilogue: The second light fixture was away from the table. When he was changing the bulbs in that one he started talking about how if one broke he'd die because the glass shards would slice him up. Weird guy.
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