Minty Fresh

Braces have made it significantly more difficult for me to floss. For a while I tried using a dental needle to thread floss under the wire, but it’s not a simple task. So when one of my orthodontist’s assistants recommended that I try super floss, I ordered some. Super floss is specialty floss cut into pieces that have a stiff end, a stretch that’s puffy to help get at things under the wire, and then normal floss for, y’know flossing with.

The package came today, and as I opened the shipping envelope the smell of mint wafted over me. I was surprised to discover that the boxes were sealed in a plastic wrapper. The odor was so strong it couldn’t be contained!

This brings us to Wyeth. Cats love catnip, as we know, and catnip is a member of the mint family. This doofus just spent 5 minutes thoroughly licking the plastic wrap, thinking he was getting high. Finally content, he crawled into my lap to sleep it off.

I don’t know whether I’m more embarrassed for him or jealous of his contentment.


I’m Not Getting This Anytime Soon

I ordered a photo off of eBay for my site The Web of the Big Damn Spider. It shipped promptly then seemed to stall out when it reached Chicago. The seller and I have been in communication, and there was some excitement last night when the tracking information was updated.

Then I actually looked at the current location of the package.

Today I sent the following note to the seller.

Thanks for your quick reply.

Unfortunately the package appears to be in Italy now, which doesn’t seem to be an obvious route from California to Michigan. I’ll continue to watch and see if it returns to the States.


That promotional picture is going to see the world on $3 shipping. I might have to be a little jealous.

Low Stakes, High Intrigue

A funny thing happened as I went to make a turkey.

Okay, some context is in order here. On Monday the manager of my manager was given a bag of craft supplies that his teams were to transform into a turkey. Because of reasons. Well, he was working in a different office that day, so by “was given a bag of craft supplies” I really mean that somebody left it on his desk. Today (Wednesday) he dropped the bag on my desk and asked me to tell the teams that we needed to make a turkey out of it. This is why I refer to him as a trap-door spider, because you never know when he’s going pop up in your cube and hand you some crafting materials.

I dutifully took the stuff to our morning meeting and mumbled something barely coherent about turkeys. Afterwards, I dropped it off in an empty cubicle. It might have all ended there, but a co-worker found where I hid the fixings. The next I knew I’d crammed myself into the cube to stare at the assortment of goodies. There were expected things such as construction paper, popsicle sticks, and pipe cleaners — federal law mandates the use of pipe cleaners in every seasonal craft project, due to the political sway of the hobbiest lobbies. There were also plastic cups, a styrofoam ball, assorted small feathers, and an enormous blue feather that was sprinkled in glitter. We marveled at this collection of oddities and then went back to our respective desks to, y’know, do our jobs.

Shortly thereafter, a woman from another department wandered over to see our progress. That’s what she said, but the way she was talking about popsicle sticks made me suspicious. Being arguably responsible for our turkey supplies, I walked over to keep an eye on our inventory. The larger, paranoid part of my brain expected to see her filching a stick or two, but the tiny piece of my brain-meat responsible for lucidity reasoned that an adult would have little urge to pilfer cheap craft material.

Here’s where things got weird, because it turned out that she in the midst of an Ocean’s Eleven level heist of utterly insignificant goods.

I found her eyeing the supplies, holding an enormous blue feather that was covered in glitter. That sane portion of my brain tried to dismiss this as her being someone who just has to touch everything, which the rest of me wasn’t buying because of the enormous purple feather that now lay on the desk. She immediately tried to distract me by asking about our turkey plans. I ignored her question and asked my own.

“Did you just swap giant feathers with us?”

“No!” she scolded, looking offended. “Why would you even think that?”

“Because the one you’re holding is blue, which is the color of our feather. Also it has a bent tip, like ours does.”

She responded by stuffing the feather up the back of her sweater and asking a lot of questions about how we were planning to build the turkey.

Now, at this point my paranoia had been proven more reliable than my sanity, so I could only assume that in addition to stealing our feather she wanted to steal our turkey-making IP. I got really cagey about everything.

“What are you going to use the ball for?”

“Making a turkey,” I said absently, watching her hands to ensure nothing else disappeared into her clothing.

Eventually she left, and two co-workers came to make the turkey while I kept watch. Occasionally I saw her, watching me from across the room, waiting for me to let my guard down. Not today, feather-thief. I’m hip to your jive.

A Lovely Parting Gift

One of my final acts at the job I just left was to spend my Bonusly points. Bonusly is an incentive system that companies can use to pretend their workers are happy. Co-workers can reward each other with points for doing an excellent job or, more usually, for not being completely incompetent.

I’ll pretend that my lack of points had to do with the general isolation of my team and gloss over any implications about the low opinion of my performance.

Much like the awards for selling band candy, the merchandise seems to be selected from batches of overstock. Lots of cheap jewelry, garbage dishware, and low-end appliances (coffee makers and such).

Then there are the niche-market items, which make you question the life choices of people you’ve never met.

Tabletop golf shot glass set. For the executive who is apparently a college sophomore.

Tempted though I was, I settled on an iPod Shuffle. At least I could imagine that I’d use it.

Excerpts from the Play “The Indescribable Life of H.P. Lovecraft”

SCENE: Howard sits in a small dark room, staring at the wall. His mother comes and stands in the doorway.

Mother What would you like for supper?

Howard (mumbles) Apes.

Mother Fresh out, I fear. We still have a cured ham, though.

Howard Apes taunt us with their twisted reflection of humanity, resembling our superior form in only the crudest fashion to insinuate that we ourselves are no more than animals, as though the bestial parody of our semblance were enough in itself to drag us down into their soulless mire.

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Idiom is a Tough Nut to Crack

Phrases such as “that took balls” and “grow a pair” are problematic in today’s world. We’re increasingly aware as a culture that rigid gender roles and enforcing stereotypes hurt everybody, yet everything from courage to fortitude is still represented by testicles.

As has been noted by such eminent scholars as dedhed1841, it’s a terrible and ridiculous metaphor anyway. Sensitive hacky sacks aren’t really exemplars of rugged strength.

Nevertheless, I think that for a replacement word to catch on it should maintain the tradition of using a vulnerable anatomical target to represent toughness. It should just be something that the majority of people actually have.

At first I was enamored of the big toe. It’s completely senseless, and it sounds pretty funny.

“You’re gonna need some size 20s for those big toes, Carl.”

“You wouldn’t dare! Your don’t have the big toes for it!”

The problem with that is that we’ve just swapped sexism for ableism. There actually are a significant number of people who literally do not have toes of any size. Plus there are some whose big toes have been transplanted onto their hands as substitute thumbs, and the whole metaphor just starts getting sidetracked.

Then I realized that there was an obvious feature that most-but-not-quite-all people have.2 It can be made of glass or steel, it’s already in common expressions, and best of all it sounds ridiculous.

“Grow a chin!”

Plus, it’s great for substitutions in other masculine phrases.

“Chin up!”

“They plopped their chins on the table. It was a total chin waving contest.”

I think it could really take off, if I ever had the chin to try it.


1. I mean, probably.
2. I’m really sorry. This is the best I can do without putting any actual effort into it.

Siri, Where Do You Find This Nonsense?

I was in rough shape today. Worn out from weeks of sinus problems and overloaded with work, i had nothing left in my energy reserves. I only dragged my carcass in to the office today because of a meeting I’d called to make sure I understood an operation that’s my responsibility going forward.

That turned out to be remarkably easy, and the rapid success brought relief that expressed itself as silliness. The co-worker I’d summoned for assistance suggested that we make a new project named for the tree that the Keebler elves live in, but neither of us were sure what kind that was.

So I asked Siri.


The Keebler tree! Of course! Intrigued by the US naval involvement, I followed the link.


Well, that makes all the sense! Thank you, internet. You may be filled with lies, but they’re beautiful ones that doubled me over with laughter when I really had no resistance.

A Commanding Problem

Last night I was working from home, overseeing one end of a data migration. I run a screen share application on my laptop to operate my work computer, and it works out fairly well despite the occasional delay in screen refreshing.

That is, it worked well enough until everything went higgledy-piggledy after the export and I had to react quickly.

As I typed commands into my bash shell, the Mac search pop-up kept intruding. After much cursing and forceful typing, I worked out that my work computer was under the belief that whenever I hit the space bar I was also pressing the command key — a combo that triggers the global search box.

Reckoning that there was something goofy about the shared screen session, I disconnected and started up a new session.

Still with the searching.

More cursing and smashing of keys.

I discovered that hitting the space bar twice in rapid succession managed to trick the computer into producing a single space before popping up the infernal search. Progress, of a sort.

I fired off a few commands, typing space-space-esc (the escape dismissed the pop-up) between words. Then I waited anxiously for word that things were back under control. Eventually that came, and I disconnected from my computer and went to bed.

This morning I came in to work and saw that my screen was still active. It should have gone into sleep mode shortly after I had disconnected. I approached and saw that my chair had been pushed in, and one arm was resting on… the command key!

The cleaning staff had pushed my chair out of the way to get to my trash can. A high-tech problem caused by a low-tech solution.

Tonight, before I left, I set my trash can out in the open. Just in case.

That Clause is to Protect You

We watch a lot of Investigation Discovery, which we call “The Murder Channel” for its rotation of salacious true-crime shows. Hour after hour, unfaithful spouses and children a little too anxious for their inheritances slaughter their way into or living room.

So when an insurance commercial came on, my mind translated it into another murderous re-enactment. The “concerned” daughters pressure their mom — vulnerable due to her husband’s recent accident — to get insurance, ostensibly just to “help with final arrangements”. Uh-huh. We’re onto you two. What is it? Gambling debts? Or just a sense of frustration at not having all of the fancy things you want? Either way, you’re guilty!

Honestly, I really can’t believe that anyone would put that commercial on the murder channel thinking it would play to normal sentimentalities…