Saturday, September 25, 2004

Silly Pagans (redux)

Last Sunday was Pagan Pride day up in Salt Lake (Murray Park, actually). I had been planning to ignore it and go to the Gnostic Mass the night before instead. But the Oasis rescheduled to hold Mass at PPD. So I found myself hanging out with the crazies at PPD. I say ‘crazies’, but they are all cool folk who just dress a bit funny. And act a bit funny. And think a bit funny. Like I said...crazies.

I had two intents in making the trip. First was just to get some ritual. It’s been way too long. The second was to ask Bill about my t-shirt. I had ordered the thing over the internet way back in June. After waiting too long to get it, I dropped an e-mail hinting the I was still waiting. Bill fired back that he would check the mail (see if it was returned, etc.) and look into it. Then nothing. So I asked again. Another mail saying he would check it. Finally I emailed him saying either send it or tell me I’m just out of luck so I can stop worrying about it. He promised to check the mail, etc. again. So I had it all scripted out. I was going to walk up to Bill and say, “So. Do I get a T-shirt or not?” Then I would give the ultimatum that if the answer was “Yes”, he better damn well make good on his words. But if he knew in his heart the answer was “No”, he should just tell me to my face that I was fucked and I would accept his answer. But the LAST THING he should do is tell me yes then leave me hanging again. “Just close the issue for me.”

Alas, I show up and Bill is trying to set up for Mass. The weather is not cooperating with him. It was blowing, and cool and threatening rain. One look at Bill and I could see he was frazzled. One look at Gretchen and I could see she was OK, but dealing with a frazzled Bill. He was fighting with the alter curtain. So I trotted off to the car and got some rope then tied off the problem bits. I sort of tried to help with a few other things. Then the tomb was blowing down – something that would be a problem through the Mass. So I parked myself next to it and made it my job to keep it erect (so to speak). Somewhere in there I found the Oasis vending booth, bought a t-shirt and hauled it off to the car. I had long ago decided that Bill had enough hassle without dealing with my t-shirt problems, so I just ponied up the money and chose to let the whole thing slide.

Mass was good for the circumstance. The wind let us mostly alone, but the ‘public ritual’ setting watered it down a bit. This was not to be avoided and they did a good job.

After Mass I stepped in to help take things down. It was more work than I expected, much of it requiring two set of hands, such as folding the alter covers and curtains. I was a wee bit more useful taking things down that I had been in setting up. Finally, after I was just getting in the way more then helping, I told Bill goodbye and thanks for the Mass. He asked my name and there was an instant dawning of recognition. He apologized for not getting the shirt thing taken care of, explaining the during our discourse his mother developed some health problems and he was having to deal with that. He then told me he would take care of it, but I explained that I got my shirt at the booth, I didn’t want the oasis to lose money on the deal, and he should let things stand. I had to tell him twice so he could see I really meant it.

Then he asked if I was from Utah Valley. Yup. By the time we parted we had agreed to meeting after I got back from Arizona and planning the process of getting something going with the OTO in Utah Valley. So when I get back from visiting Kate, I drop him an e-mail, schedule a coffee and planning session, and we are off. Or something. This isn’t really what I was planning on coming home with, in other words it wasn’t at all the script I was planning on stepping onto the stage with, but it was good. I don’t know if I would say I was ‘excited’ when I left (it is just too strong a word), but I was feeling upbeat.

About the time Mass ended the wind picked up, thunder was heard, and it started to rain. It waited just long enough for Mass to be done – great timing. The pagans all gathered under the pavilion, safe from the rain, but cheering whenever another thunderbolt was heard. Crazy people.

I also ran into Nancy there. I thought she had left town for good (maybe she had and was just visiting for ppd). She had a booth. Told me Marion wanted to talk to me to pass a message along to Kate, but Marion never showed. The impression I got was that some of the merchandise in her booth was Marion’s. Not that it matters, really. Just an observation. Makes me wonder if the itch to run a shop is too great and maybe Marion will make another go of the retail thing.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Those silly pagans

I’m at Pagan Pride in Salt Lake, waiting for Gnostic Mass to begin – one of two reasons I’m here. The other is to get a t-shirt, which is a long story to be told later. Naturally, I am being a little monkey. How? I’m looking out for people, hoping to avoid people that I should hope to meet. Hoping to meet people that I should avoid. [Names of people redacted.] Must banish ego. The poor O.T.O. was having a bit of a time dealing with the weather while setting up for mass. Things blowing over. I stepped in to help. Don’t really know if I was helping or getting in the way. Regardless, - must banish ego. Not being that much of a problem. So far I am being soundly and roundly ignored. I guess that is a good thing if it is what you are expecting to start with.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Constipated Disco Duck

The Disposable Wombat is 'At Work'. Those two words 'At Work' can be amusing at now. Finally, after getting a full day behind schedule in pooching out the monthly Knowledge Base CD release, I chiseled time out of my schedule to fix/update the Tech Docs indexes on the customer support web site. (You, oh humble reader, don't get to look at this web site - there is a login. Oh darn.)

No workie. Server is busy bouncing. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. (You get the picture.)

The first index to update was for a product called Discovery - Disco for short. Disco Duck. Constipated Disco Duck (with apologies to Jeff Beck but not to John Travolta).

It gets better. Try to sneak out of the building for walkies around the pond. The WebMaster corners me and bores me to tears with stories about what he's doing to track down and fix it. I finally escape and walk. This is where the ducks come it. The pond has ducks. It also has geese, and gulls, and some bottom feeding fish that are growing large enough to entertain thoughts of world domination.

I'm back at the desk. The web site is working again. But the demons who run the universe choose to trade my problems into the future. Kat calls. She's driving her brother to the airport and the car throws a belt. She calls me from the parking lot of the local Checker Auto, belt in hand, wanting to know how to replace it. Like I remember? Like she can't look at it and finger it out? Like her brother, who knows everything (just ask him, he'll tell you), can't figure it out?

Skip to the end of the flurry of calls. Kat's sister is driving up to rescue them. I will get home from work at the usual time, change, grab tools, usher Kat into the MalkuthMobile (my car - named for my Vanity Plate), and fix it for them. But the part I loved was when Kat asks what we should do. She starts coming up with some complex plan, with people meeting people meeting people so we can do this. Rrrrrrr. So I tell her "Go home. Wombat meet you there. Grunt. Get tools. Drive to car. Fix. Grunt. Scratch. Drive home. Don't let your family talk you into some more complex bullshit plan that will break."



(you have to know how to speak to these people on a level they can relate to)

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Magpies and Tossing Cookies

It was one of those Sunday mornings when I woke up early and restless. There was no going back to sleep, no soaking in the tub, and no resting on the porch. So I hopped on the bike and went to the track. I wasn't alone. I was sharing the track the local ROTC as they put two of their guys through physical testing.

About halfway through my run they started on a 2 mile timed run. One guy took off fast then slowed down to about my speed. He finished in 15:00 minutes. The other guy started off slower, but kept a good pace. At the start of the last lap he sped up. Big mistake. Only a quarter lap out he started throwing up. It probably added 30 seconds to his time. But I have to admire him, pushing himself that hard.

Also toward the end of the run, a single Magpie swooped across the field and lighted on the east bleachers. He was big and beautiful. About a half lap later the other Magpie flew in. Always in pairs. It was a good start to the day.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Dancing the 12 step. Hypochondria Rant. Weapons of choice.

Mood = Contemplative Drunk

Music = NIN – Broken

Weapon of Choice.

Think “Drug of Choice”. There is no’s just what works for you. Or not. The Dell laptop (on permanent loan from ADP) just doesn’t fit the hands. It doesn’t ride the holster as it should. It is a tool, but it ain’t no weapon. You want a weapon? Go here: Select the one at the bottom of the technology curve, the AlphaSmart 3000. You’re a geek, so read the specs. But let me share this little selling point right up front: 700 hours on three AA batteries. Do the math, buckwheat. An hour a day comes out to 2 years. I purchased this puppy over 2 years ago and I’m still using the batteries that came with it. The first time I kept right on typing while the bozo across the aisle cursed his laptop and laid it to rest for lack of juice (Southwest flight from Salt Lake to Phoenix), it all became worth the price of admission. Get it with the carry case and other options (except infrared). Trust me.

Hypochondria Rant

So the oldest daughter (hereinafter called Mindy) has completed her first full week of school. But not before she and her mother , Kat, managed to suck me into the vortex of hypochondria. But before we tell that story, I need to brag.

Can you say “Four Year Full Ride Scholarship?” Can you say “Out of High School a year early?” Or how about “National Honor Society”? Yup…that’s Mindy. Not only that, she’s a redhead. Walk in fear, ye denizens of Cedar City. The scary part is that Mindy’s younger sister, Squirt, is even smarter (skipped 6th grade last year).

So Kat flies to Arizona to visit her beloved. But not before Mindy tells her she has a sore throat. By the time the two women have tossed this ailment back and forth between their fevered imaginations, it has managed to grow into some sort of growth from a horror movie that will require surgery somewhat akin to a tonsillectomy to remove. I am not making this up. After getting off the airplane, Kat started making phone calls from Arizona to get the doctors in line on this. By the time my Friday at the Orifice was over, I was scheduled to take Mindy in to the local Ear, Nose and Throat specialist. But only if we could make it in before he left his office for the Labor Day weekend. In talking to Kat about this, she mentioned trying to find a flight home to be with her little girl. I bristled. Can’t I handle it? Can I not take a day or two off work if needed? Is my hand broken that I cannot sign the papers to get her into the hospital? Is my mind so enfeebled that I can’t carry out any of a number of course of action? Am I not a man? As I am saying this to Kat (but more politely than in this rant) I am remembering Kat carefully explaining to me how to finish making out the check for the trip to the doctor, which she would do herself en-toto, except that she doesn’t know how much the co pay will be. I am thinking to myself, “Since when have I forgotten how to make out a check?”

So…against all odds, we made it in time to see the doctor. It took the doc all but 10 seconds to let the air out of the surgery fantasy. Whatever it was, it was purely topical. Even as this was being determined, I could imagine Kat’s disappointment at not being rushed back home to handle the emergency. I laughed inside. We were given a prescription for a throat culture and shooed off to the local hospital lab. Two days later the verdict came in as Haemophilus influenzae Beta Lactamase. I looked it up on the internet: Type B Influenza. My little girl picked up a mild flu bug. By the time we found this out, she was feeling much better, proving the old maxim that underlies my own attitude toward illness: If you ignore it, it will go away. Even when I had my little brush with West Nile Virus last summer, this maxim held [mostly] true. It also worked earlier this summer when I messed up my foot (I may have even broken it).

Oh yeah…and the lab test found something else: Mixed respiratory flora. I read this and thought to myself, “Well thank god it was flora instead of fauna.”

Dancing the Neo-Pagan 12 step.

It started a few months ago when I [finally] made it to meeting with a little discussion group called The Art of Seeking. It was dismal, but I knew this may have been an anomaly - one bad meeting following on the heels of a string of good ones. I intended to give it another try, but got too busy with other things. Then I saw a notice at the local Goth Coffee Shop that the next meeting would be there the next night. So I showed up and attended. Not bad. Then I found that in the same time slot on other Sundays the Coffee Goddess held her own meetings, more Psychological in nature. So when the next Sunday night rolled around, I was there.

I should have run away. As soon as Liz (The Coffee Goddess) announced she was waiting for a few folk from the local Narcotics Anonymous group to show up, I should have run. But instead, I stayed while silently chanting to myself, “I hope it isn’t Lin…I hope it isn’t Lin…”. (Lin is one of the old hands from the long defunct Pagan Utah Cooperative, an NA member, and at one time the bane of my existence. The last thing I needed at this tender time of my life was to have Lin try to get her hooks into me.) It wasn’t Lin. It was another woman who actually was a nice addition to the meeting. I can’t remember her name, but she is about my age and arrived in Utah from So Cal by way of Tennessee. Alas, a fat chick. The Wombat is wary of fat chicks, because he is polite to them (as to all persons) and they mistake it for a deeper interest. It can’t help but get ugly from there. I repeat: The Wombat doesn’t do Fat Chicks.

The topic of the meeting was: “Do you do too much for other people? Should you stop?” For me the answer was No. After further prying into my life I was tasked with no longer being mean to Mutt by not answering or returning his calls. This may be easier than it sounds. I think Mutt finally got the hints (how obvious did I have to get?) and will not call again for a LONG time. Also, there was nothing in the edict of the Coffee Goddess about me picking up the phone and initiating a conversation.

All was going well. The Wombat only made a few missteps, and covered for them quickly. But this wasn’t really what I was expecting. I was after a discussion on a theoretical plane. Instead, this was Liz being Mother Hen for her brood of psychonauts and attempting to actually make us change our lives (small changes, but still change). In spite of this little surprise I was still cool with the meeting. Then came time to wrap it up and go home. We were all invited to repeat The 12 Step Prayer. “God grant me...”.

This was too much. Little red flags popped up over the hills and vales of my psyche. No one dictates spiritual terms to The Disposable Wombat. No one tells The Wombat to pray, let alone WHAT to pray.

Having learned in the past not to succumb to knee-jerk reactions, I went home and thought about it for awhile. Perhaps I wasn’t listening closely enough when I was invited to the meeting. Maybe I allowed Lorraine’s style and intent to set false expectations. Maybe I think too much about stuff like this. But I did go over the meeting and realized that Liz may have been modeling it after 12 step meetings she had attended. The topic of the meeting was targeted at two invitees who had specific issues with doing too much for other people, probably starting out as an effort to gain acceptance then devolving into falling victim to one or more psychic vampires.

I won’t be at the meeting tonight because I am picking up Kat at the airport. Next week I’ll try to make it. The week after that is Art of Seeking (which is heading back to Lorraine’s place). Week after that is at Kate’s place.

God of the wireless

Once again, The Wombat proves himself master of technology.

After a few nights of beating my head against drivers, PCMCIA slots and setup programs (that used the wrong meaning of the phrase "setting someone up"), The Wombat is doing web from the front porch, without the long blue cable snaking from the corner of the living room, through the domain of The Evil One, under the screen door and out to The Wombat's outdoor office/weight training grotto. Like any wonk, I would like to say that I conquered the wireless setup through use of brains and skill. I would also like to say it didn’t take two days. More to the truth is perseverance and a lucky guess. I backed off from the attempt to do all the setups at once, backed up to an older driver, and actually (gasp) read the instructions. That at least got the laptop talking to the base. But the rest of the network still spurned my advances. I followed the usual steps (turning various options on and off, etc.) then I saw this thing called Enable LMHOSTS Lookup. It was on. I turned it off. Shazam.

Simple, right?


Not willing to leave well enough alone (and wondering what will happen on Monday when I plug this thing into a Cat5 network and try to talk to the ADP Lightspeed network), I researched LMHOSTS. Interesting. No LMHOSTS file on the PC. Was this lack of file the cause? Looked at the HOSTS file. No entries. Hmm...

Turned LMHOSTS lookup back on. Rebooted. Worked fine. So it wasn’t LMHOSTS. What was it? Remember the scene from the movie The Longest Day where the two prototype Tommies are trying to get a stalled Bren Gun Carrier to start? This fine Scottish clansman comes upon the scene, passes on his grandmother’s theory that the cure for anything mechanical is to give it a good bash. He then clubs the machine with a Sheleighly ... and it starts right up. Methinks that changing this setting was a sort of a bash with a Sheleighly that knocked the TCP/IP settings around enough to convince them to cooperate. Of course, just as I was writing that last sentence, the connection went down. Couldn’t get it back up. Then noticed the card and base were on different channels - no clue which one changed. Interesting.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Start Here (should know better)

I should know better than to sign up for stuff like this. Journal? Great idea if it didn't eat up so much time. On the other hand, when I have journaled in the past, it was worth it.

(grits teeth)