Taking the cat to the vet this afternoon…more urinary problems. Urrrgh. I feel as if I’m standing on top of a slope looking down at a rather steep drop-off. “Yup, this is what’s gonna end up killing him someday. I will spend money and grief keeping him as far up the slope as possible, but sooner or later…”

Happy thought. Hopefully it’ll be something perfectly minor, they’ll yell at me for him being grossly overweight, and we’ll come home a few hundred bucks lighter, some pills and the memory of a catheter heavier, and all will be well.

On a not at all lighter note, I went out to Cub for groceries today, and there was a shooting, while I was there. (No, I didn’t see it.) I heard a fight break out near the front, did the usual head-turning hum-what’s-all-the-screaming-about, then kept shopping. I’m not a rubbernecker type–unless someone’s actively bleeding to death and the only other people available are mentally defunct, asleep or dead, my limited medical knowledge won’t do a damn bit of good, and crowds never help anybody. By the time I got to the checkout, EMT’s had been and gone (there were three or four still there) and the boys in blue had swarmed. According to the cashier–never the most reliable of witnesses–the fight had escalated, they’d been told to leave, and one guy shot t’other one in the mouth outside the store. He didn’t get five feet, of course–they’ve got cameras everywhere, and it was broad daylight, and the cops had already been called for the fight but it was a little surprising to be wrangling my cart through the parking lot, swerve around a parked cop car to avoid traffic, and realize that there’s a dude in the backseat, less than two feet away, doing the standard COPS beat-head-rythmically-against-glass thing, who presumably had just shot another human being about ten minutes prior. Things like that make me want to yell “What the hell were you THINKING? You can’t possibly believe that you could cause a scene and then shoot a guy in broad daylight, on camera, and get away. I mean, I’m sorry if you’re poor and uneducated and the Man has sat on you, or whatever the sob story is, but there’s lack of education and then there’s just plain native stupidity. What the hell is wrong with the hard wiring of your brain that cause and effect no longer are functioning in there!? How stupid must you be?!”

It’s things like this that make me vaguely hope he was on crank or meth or something, because it’s so damn depressing to think that one’s fellow humans are that astonishingly stupid. That, or I wonder if some people just get a lot angrier than other people–the maddest I’ve ever gotten, I never hit walls because I’m smart enough to know that hitting the wall will hurt me and cause structural damage to the wall, while not doing anything to affect the cause of the frustration. If I must do something hysterical, I will cry, since it’s easy to clean up. But I know plenty of other people who, in a rage, will smack furniture or whatever, who don’t seem any dumber than the usual run of people. So I dunno–it’s possible that I deal with it better, or I’m repressing it all in something that will eventually erupt in a homicidal explosion. Or it’s possible that I simply don’t get that mad–I mean, I will display fits of temper where people walk around me on eggshells in terror of what I might say, but I never get into a screaming, blistering rage where I can’t control my actions, the way that some people appear to.

The maddest I can ever remember getting was–this is embarassing–over ammonites.
Mad about ammonites!

Well, by now, everybody probably knows that the shuttle Colombia and all crew has been lost. I’ve been wandering around trying not to cry for most of the morning, but it’s mostly a losing battle.

Bloody hell.

All that I can think of to say is the usual protests in defense of NASA, which I have enormous respect for–space flight is extraordinarily dangerous by it’s very nature, and the fact that in 42 years we’ve had what–three?–fatal incidents is staggering. NASA’s safety record is astonishingly good. What I remember about the Challenger was how badly it set back the space program, and I pray to whatever forces watch over manned space flight that it doesn’t happen again. If people in Congress use this as yet another excuse to gut NASA’s budget…well, it’d be a bloody poor sort of memorial.

The only thing that keeps me from total despair on that front is that other countries, like China, are actively working to develop a space program, and while the U.S. government won’t lift a finger these days to fund space flight for it’s own sake, the money will flow like wine to make damn sure that we’re the top dog. I don’t know much about the space programs in other countries, but I wish them all the luck and speed possible.

For the loss of human life today, it’ll take better people than I to say anything useful about it. There’s never enough brave people in the world, and losing so many in such a fashion hurts us all.

And another thing…

Watching the nightly anime fest on Adult Swim–I gotta admit, that Yu-Yu Hakasho show has grown on me much more than I anticipated. And Cowboy Bebop, of course, is just stylin’.

The commercials, though.

I keep seeing this damn ad for Kotex, which bills itself as “the greatest advancement for women since the push-up bra.” This blatant idiocy makes me make various back of the throat “Chhhuuggggaah!” noises of disgust (which provides my husband with no end of amusement.) I truly hope the ad campaign was invented by a man, because if a woman came up with that, I’d be forced to bludgeon her into unconsciousness with a weighty feminist tome. And that would require me to go buy a weighty feminist tome, and damnit, I’m just not ready to be on those kind of mailing lists.

Even this, however, pales before the truly idiotic ad I just saw, whereby a scruffy couple in Levi’s stand hand-in-hand–in the middle of a freeway, no less–in a herd of charging buffalo. I am baffled. What is the message of this ad? Wearing Levi’s will allow me to psychically control large numbers of American bison? Wearing Levi’s will cause herds of bison to run rampant through the city? Wearing Levi’s will cause my IQ to drop forty points so that romantic strolls in the middle of the freeway seem like a good idea?

Now to let the soothing cyberpunk of Cowboy Bebop wash over me and take all the nasty bison away…

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

Today was very productive. Today was also spent listening to folk music. I won’t swear the two weren’t related. My musical tastes are bizarre and eclectic and wander between Steeleye Span and Tool with only occasional stops in between, but today was definitely shaded towards the former.

Probably the single most common ballad is the sailor-returning type. Sweet Young Woman is moping around town, and is approached by Strange Man. Were this a Nick Cave ballad, it’d all start to go to hell at this point, and we’d be treated to a lyrical description of Strange Man bashing her head in with a rock, but fortunately for Sweet Young Woman, traditionally Strange Man just asks her about her sweetheart. (I quite like Nick Cave, but then, I’m a weirdo.) Since everyone loves to tell their tale of woe, Sweet Young Woman recounts how her one true love went to sea seven years ago (it’s always seven years–this appears to be set in stone.) and has been lost at sea. Being a soppy romantic of the sort beloved by ballads, (and apparently independantly wealthy) Sweet Young Woman will never take another sweetheart in honor of his memory. Convinced of her faithfulness, Strange Man brings out the ring that was the token of their love, and lo and behold, it’s the Sweetheart, come home at last, and it’s been so long that she didn’t recognize him. She swoons, they get married, and the last verse is spent moralizing about how young women should stay faithful to their sweethearts when they’re at sea.

This is so formulaic and reoccurs so often that one gets the impression a matrimony-minded sailor in days of yore could just pick up any old gold ring and stroll inland until he finds a particularly nearsighted Sweet Young Woman moping about.

My personal favorite is a variant on this called “Willie Taylor” wherein the Sweetheart is impressed as a sailor against his will just as he and Sweet Young Thing are about to be married. Sweet Young Thing, being a bit more bloody-minded, pulls in that other archetype beloved of Shakespeare and folksongs alike, dresses up as a boy and goes to sea in pursuit of him. Eventually the improbably noble captain of her ship realizes that his cabin boy’s got cleavage and rather than avail himself of this fact, helps Sweet Young Thing find her Sweetheart. But wait! That rat bastard’s gone and gotten married someone else! Jerk. So, having learned a trick or two as a cabin boy, our nameless Sweet Young Thing shoots him in front of his bride and storms off into the sunset. There may be a moral to this story, other than “Don’t mess with chicks who learned to fire a cannon in the Navy,” but I choose to ignore it, probably because the version I’ve got has a very entertaining “Uuuuugughh…thump!” sound at the shooting bit that cracks me up. Yes, I’m easily amused.

Watched State of the Union address. Stomped around the house a bit. Screamed a little. Calmed down. Wondered what the hell the big deal is with partial dilation and extraction abortions. Why is this such a bee in everyone’s bonnet? They’re incredibly rare–less than 0.2 percent of abortions done in this country–doctors hate doing them, and it’s hardly as if women are using them as a form of birth control–they’re only in cases of extreme health risks or massive fetal deformity. Make them only for medical reasons, and just as many will get performed, ‘cos that’s the only reason they’re being done anyway.

Proceeding as I usually do on the assumption that politicians are Not Stupid, and have no moral principle stronger than re-election, I gotta wonder what the hell’s up with this. I mean, these guys aren’t dumb. They have to know this is a really rare procedure being done only in extremity. Why is there such a ruckus? Is it solely a staging ground to launch an assault on Roe vs. Wade, or is it just a bone to throw to the pro-lifers to keep from alienating their chunk of the vote, without coming out against all abortion (which polls would indicate, the majority of Americans think should be available.) What’s the motivation to keep harping on this stupidly minor little procedure that nobody gives a rat’s ass about except fanatics on both sides?

That bit ‘o paranoia aside, I did another painting. It started as a woman with laced nails up her back, but she looked like a giant pink Doc Marten, so I went other ways. Sometimes, I paint just to appease my brain…

The Old Sock and The Sea

The toilets in my apartment are somethin’ else. First of all, they’re tankless, terminating in a hunk of steel that sticks directly out of the wall, reminiscent of something you might find at a sports stadium. No user serviceable parts. If it gets stuck flushing, the only recourse is to turn on every faucet in the house full bore, and pray.

On the bright side, however, it generates more suckage than I’ve ever seen in a toilet. I mean, this thing sucks. Forget dead goldfish–you could flush a German shepherd out to sea. The only time it ever get clogged is on those rare occasions that you run out’ve toilet paper at 3 AM and are reduced to using paper towels for neccessary functions. Then there’s a titanic struggle, with the part of Captain Ahab played by the lumberjack on the Brawny wrapper, pitting his absorbant powers against the Great White Bowl. Generally Moby John triumphs, but every now and again there’s an upset and I have to get out the toilet plunger. Call me Ishmael.

All of which leads up to an embarassing tale. Some years ago, preparing to shower, I made use of the facilities, flushed, and began disrobing. Balanced on one foot between the catbox and the scalding hot radiator, I could only watch in horror as my sock, obviously suicidal, lunged off my foot, soared through the air, and dove into the high-speed flume-ride of the flushing toilet. I don’t know what it hoped to achieve–perhaps it was seeking freedom, or perhaps it just wanted to end it all. Possibly it was tired of its relationship with the other sock and wanted to do something wild. I guess we’ll never know.

Naively thinking that this was a universal experience, I mentioned it in passing to my dear buddy Alexis, who’s finally honed killer instincts and love of snuggy footwear has caused her to bring up Sockgate fairly regularly. You’d think I was the only one who’d ever sent a sock to a watery grave. And so, dear readers, I’m appealing to you all–tell me I’m not alone! Tell me if you, too, have flushed a sock, or underwear, or a three piece suit, any article of clothing will do. I can’t be the only one!