friday random eleven: “relapse” edition

16
Feb

This week has not been amazing in terms of personal well-being, or, you know, the well-being of seventeen people in Florida. After a thoroughly enjoyable experience with Friday night’s Father-Daughter dance, and a pretty decent adventure Saturday with the D&D crew, and an excellent batch of cajun chicken salad derived from this pretty much perfect Instant Pot “rotisserie” chicken recipe, I began feeling seriously fatigued.

I woke up Sunday morning with the Mother of All Sore Throats™, and it only got worse from there. I struggled through work on Monday and Tuesday, but pretty much just collapsed as soon as I got home each day; Wednesday I didn’t move. I totally slept through Valentine’s Day (though given our schedules, my lovely wife and I mutually agreed to punt it to the weekend). I went back into the office Thursday, because I had shit to solve, but I ended up bailing early, and setting the time sheet up for the same thing Friday. I’m hoping the long Presidents’ Day weekend will see me through this particular relapse (I went through a less severe bout two weeks ago); I blame my entering The Belly of the Best itself, the elementary school, on Friday night.

I can only imagine how bad things would be if I hadn’t gotten the flu shot.

Oh well. This weekend, beyond convalescence, has some teenage boy birthday activities scheduled (Black Panther! Teen Boy D&D One Shot!), and maybe getting out for a romantic (as much as possible, given how we’re all feeling) meal with the spouse. That’s honestly probably enough.

Oh, and in spite of the feeling so shitty, I’m kicking #FAWM ass, with eleven of fourteen down on the sixteenth. I’m gonna finish this and then some. About half of these are even good!

I figure I’ll share the lyrics of the latest; I’m rather proud of it:

Hey there my friend it’s been a while since we’ve shared more than simple pleasantries
we used to be so close but then things happened like careers wives kids geography

now it’s facebook likes and christmas cards, odd 8x10s of Gil Gerard and Erin Gray
I miss our old adventures, I’m sure you do too but it seems life’s just got in the way

I think of you each time I take a tipple from that flask you got me as a gift
when we used to wedge so many of us in the car for trips it was impossible to shift

hanging out at your apartment, talking beer and tech and science fiction films
I never could get you into RPGs, but not everything gives everyone the same cheap thrills

We haven’t shared a meal together in I guess it’s been like seven years
but I kind of think we’d fall right back into old habits, that void would disappear

I find my current life lacks something without your presence wit and unique outlook
But across the years and distance I can recall your image just like a picture in a book

That disastrous bachelor party,
late night talk, barstool philosophy
I kind of wish that we could get that back…

…but then the robots attacked.

Yeah, I only have so much wistfulness in me.

Here’s some tunes I didn’t write:

  1. “Under The Sun” – Diiv
  2. “Saturday” – Go Betty Go
  3. “Spectral Light” – Temple of the Fuzz Witch
  4. “Never Been Wrong (demo)” – Waxahatchee
  5. “The Thunder Answered Back” – Eskimeaux
  6. “Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett
  7. “Night of the Sabbath” – Legion of the Damned
  8. “Tainted Love” – Soft Cell
  9. “Kickstart My Heart” – Mötley Crüe
  10. “Hold Me Now” – Thomspson Twins
  11. “Photograph” – Def Leppard
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friday random eleven: “maybe 242 years was a good run” edition

09
Feb

My nerves really can’t take this kind of thing for much longer, I’ll be honest. This latest shutdown drama, passing late into the night (and still technically not over as I write this) has been hell on my calm, especially given how normally disorganized my organization is. I went to bed not knowing whether I’d be working, and I woke up at 5am not knowing whether I’d be working (since the House apparently passsed the bill aroun 5:30). Bill still hasn’t been signed by the White House, and given how stable that place is, I can’t be sure it will be, because it doesn’t have a wall in it. In the meantime, I’m following instructions, sitting here in limbo in my office, not working (because I can’t, technically), waiting for word on what the hell I’m supposed to be doing.

This business is all very frustrating to me. Personally, because I and my cohort of public servant worker drones are getting tossed around as pawns with alarming regularity, and also because it’s all theater; everybody pretty much agrees on the issues they’re fighting over (yes, the DACA kids deserve a path to citizenship; let’s get that sorted out). Also, the fact that I have to admit that I agree a bit, at least in principle, with Senator Rand Paul about something (that spending is a little crazy, even if we’d disagree on appropriate spending targets) is troubling. Were I merely a disinterested observer and civics geek (and I’d argue that I’m kind of the latter), this would all be fascinating. As it is, I’m just seeing it as evidence that we’re pretty much a Republic in decline, and as a career bureaucrat pawn in the game, I have a front row seat.

Oh, as I write this, I just got an email broadcast from the agency COO:

Teammates,

The President is expected to sign the funding bill this morning. No one should be furloughed at this time. etc.

Okay. Whatever. If you really look at the bill, it’s just another continuing resolution carrying us to March 23 (which could really screw up my plans for Consonance), with the skeleton of the huge budget “deal” attached; a deal that will actually have to be it’s own piece of legislation, so we might have to do this again…I’m to cynical to believe that we’re all bipartisanship and roses now.

So what do I have lined up this weekend? Tonight, whether I’m furloughed or not, I’m doing a father-daughter dance thing with the youngest at school (hope it’s not the creepy kind; I expect it will be enjoyable -she’s certainly excited), and running the crew through further adventures on the Isle of Dread tomorrow afternoon. I also need to pay my bills at some point.

I might also be crying and wailing in despair at some point, but if I can manage to avoid that, I will.

Tunes:

  1. “Rich Girl” – Daryl Hall and John Oates
  2. “Dancin’ In The Moonlight” – King Harvest
  3. “Watching and Waiting” – Journalism
  4. “Coming Home” – Cinderella
  5. “Life of Just Living” – Cavemen
  6. “Is There A Ghost” – Band of Horses
  7. “Down Under” – Men At Work
  8. “Hard to Explain” – The Strokes
  9. “Here if You Want (Pale Blue) – MOSSS
  10. “Home” – Day Wave
  11. “Dondergod” – Heidevolk

Couple of hours later update to this nonsense: Shortly after this particular missive posted, we got a message that superseded the message I quote above, telling us to engage in an orderly shutdown. So, we start. Less than 40 minutes later, we get further notice that we’re to cease that shutdown business. Talk about whiplash. Even later, more official guidance laid things out to say that if you got your furlough notice, you got the day. If not, you’re working as normal. My boss had a small fender-bender on the way into work.

We missed the cutoff by ten minutes. Damn.

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another tune

06
Feb

Total novelty tune – haven’t really solidified the music yet, but it sounds like a country thing to me.

A friend posted on social media last night about how she was “helping a friend get laid by teaching them calculus.” I, in search of a writing prompt, leapt into action.

I don’t have a title yet (I used the rather (ha!) derivative title “Love and Calculus” over on the #FAWM site). Given the fact that I haven’t thought about calculus in years, I’m going to take the fact that it’s totally obvious that I did some creative vocabulary googling as a bonus, given the subject matter.

-verse 1-
I wish I knew more ’bout absolute convergence
it sounds like something that’d help earn your esteem
to understand the rules of calculus would help me to earn your largess
that’s a theorem of which the value is extreme

To test the differentials would be effective
to sketch the shape and area of your curves
You’re integral to the infinite geometric series, not at all derivative
though I suspect that I may just be getting on your nerves

-chorus-
You’re supposed to help me make the grade in calculus
though I’d rather you be the tutor of my heart
I know I’m misunderstanding the jargon passed between us
the my only thought’s to integrate our parts

-verse 2-
I fear my tangents breach the limits of integration
but my pursuit of your lower bounds is an iterative process
I’m confident my sequence will eventually result in explicit functions
and our falling bodies will graphically connect

For now it’s but a valiant one-sided limit
but my efforts will eventually crack your cylindrical shell
I’ll pass the test, solve the key sequence, right to the nth degree
causing our cross sections to align in parallel

-chorus-
You’re supposed to help me make the grade in calculus
though I’d rather you be the tutor of my heart
I know I’m misunderstanding the jargon passed between us
the my only thought’s to integrate our parts

-verse 3 -epilogue-
Alas our discontinuity is essential
our reciprocity’s not mutual, my formula you loathe
no motion in our orbit, harmonics experience disintegrative decay
and I’m stuck with unattended logistic growth

-chorus-
You’re supposed to help me make the grade in calculus
though I’d rather you be the tutor of my heart
I know I’m misunderstanding the jargon passed between us
the my only thought’s to integrate our parts

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fly into the face of uncertainty

05
Feb

As I shared on social media this morning, it was nice to see the Eagles get the ring, finally, on their third trip to the Big Game™. As a life-long, but sort of lapsed fan of the game and the team, it hit a lot of nice, nostalgic notes. I know a lot of happy people this morning. Of course, as I couldn’t be arsed to deal with technical difficulties (my antenna has a complicated relationship with NBC on the best of days, and it was raining and cloudy last night), I didn’t actually watch the game live, so that, dear fans, is the reason the Birds won.

You’re welcome.

Instead, I ended up making some food – a pretty decent attempt at Buffalo wings in the Instant Pot (finished in the broiler for maximum crunchiness), and a truly transcendent taste experience in this recipe for spiced rice and lentils, which I also made, and found absolutely divine. I highly recommend giving this a shot, folks. Seriously.

I did watch some television, catching up on this week’s Agents of SHIELD (I’ve been enjoying this season, though I’m glad to see this current plotline largely wrapped, even with the cliffhanger-ish ending), and being pleasantly surprised with, of all things, Cars 3 on Netflix. It wisely ignored the existence of Cars 2, minimized Larry the Cable Guy mugging, and included a surprisingly nice message about mentorship and finding joy in different aspects of life. I find it odd to say I actually recommend this one too.

Saturday was nice, doing the taxes and hitting up a couple of businesses to make use of the spouse’s free birthday coupons, and a wonderful dinner out with friends at Penny Lane Pub, where the food, drinks, and company were excellent, though I think I may have had some disagreement with the curry sauce, as most of Sunday was not necessarily cool with lower GI issues (still isn’t Monday, but I won’t burden the general public with details).

This week is shaping up to be the basic usual crap, of course, with the added bonus of the also sadly usual end of the latest continuing resolution on Thursday, and my not knowing if I’ll be working Friday again – it’s shutdown/furlough time again. I did manage to finally solve some long-lingering issues at the office on Friday, so that’s one thing out of the way. If a shutdown hits, impacts to project schedules won’t be my fault.

As this has been on my mind, my third (I’m a day ahead of schedule!) tune for FAWM deals with exactly this issue. As I commented in the “liner notes” for this one, if a shutdown comes, I might get a chance to record some demos of the tunes, at least. I added a link to my FAWM profile over in the “tunes” box to your left (if you care to follow further progress), though I’ll share the lyrics for this one here, because why not:

“Bureaucratic Talking Shutdown Blues”

another couple of weeks have passed
another continuing resolution running out of gas
and the legislature’s wrapped up in something else

as non-essential bureaucrats
we once again are served the shaft
left to wonder if we’ll be working come next week

I don’t care much about these memos
just more posturing amongst these fellows
in their expensive suits and power ties

It’s tough to keep my projects moving
with budgets tied up in politicians’ proving
which of their sides has the gods’ approval

I plug on with the people’s business
watch the news and management’s empty missives
and prepare for another disorderly shutdown

I sit planning meetings and stage responses
try to adjust deadlines to suit this nonsense
wait for guidance and take home my office plants

I’m a pawn in a game of legislative conceits
of back room deals and late night tweets
but at least my health care coverage won’t lapse

I put off fixing the broken taps
pad the accounts to absorb the pay lapse
hoping that this all won’t go too long

it’s sad to say I’m used to this
this is far from my first shift
a public servant’s work is never done

Have a good week, everybody. I shall try.

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friday random eleven – “good news, bad news” edition

02
Feb

So, I thought I had a huge, long-suffering work problem solved when I left the office yesterday. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Lots more drama in the inbox this morning, so that’s something I gotta solve, or at least make some progress on. Oh well, I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks, except when they don’t, as also in the inbox this morning was official guidance from the budget office about what happens should the current Continuing Resolution expire on Thursday (thankfully, after my paycheck hits my account this time) without some sort of replacement.

Joy.

I did manage, after spending much of the week down for the count with the kiddie plague, to get through a dance class without dying, and mostly remembering the steps to the big fancy 16-hand ceili after being away from it for reasons of illness, weather, and whatnot for several weeks. That’s something. It did me good to get out, especially since the house is in the midst of a big clean-up/room move (re-building “guest/craft” room and kicking a kid’s bedroom upstairs), so the whole place is a wreck-in-progress, which is doing wonders for my calm.

I also, well after most of the first day of February was in the can, noticed several of my friends and musical co-conspirators are doing February Album Writing Month (FAWM) this year, and decided I needed one more thing on my plate, so I started up as well. For the uninitiated, FAWM is another one of those ‘be creative on a schedule’ things like NaNoWriMo, where you take a given period, usually a month, and make something – a novel, art, or in this case, 14 songs in 28 days. Worth a shot.

Sitting with my phone’s memo app in my hand last night waiting for class to start, I took a prompt from WTForecast!?, which described the conditions last night as “the moon thinks you’re an asshole”, and came up with this mostly-a-song about a pathetic werewolf:

The moon thinks you’re an asshole
It’s likely right, you know
It watches you out prowling every night
And turns its nose up at your howl.

Lycanthropy’s a strange affliction
What with all the change
The shifting sinew, joint and bone
And increasing risk of mange

It’s tough to run out with the pack
When you’re the only were- in town
The vampires look at you with pity
And shun you when you come around.

It was supposed to be all tooth and claw
And pouncing naked round the glade
Instead it’s getting tangled in your sweatpants
and having to wear the cone of shame

Flea bites itch just that much worse
when they follow you back to human form
the spray won’t work on pasty butt flesh
this should be awsome but it’s a curse

Sterling silver dinner service
at your girlfriend’s mother’s tea
leaves your hands all blotched and rashy
disapproving glances linger awkwardly

the moon thinks you’re an asshole
it’s likely right you know
it watches your out prowling every night
and it turns its nose up at your howl

So there’s that. I kind of hear it in a Tom Waits-style growl. More progress on things as the month goes on.

The weekend is going to be what it is. The weather’s unpleasant, but I’ll deal. Today’s Groundhog Day, so things will probably come back around to bite me again. Tomorrow is my lovely spouse’s birthday – we’ve got plans to join some friends (one of whom is also having a birthday tomorrow) for dinner at a pub downtown. Otherwise, I’m not planning on much.

Here’s some music I didn’t write, but merely coaxed out of my Pandora feed:

  1. “I’m Fine” – Hazel English
  2. “Bliss” – Softer Still
  3. “Shout (7″ edit)” – Tears for Fears
  4. “Pine Woods” – Korpiklaani
  5. “Girls, Girls, Girls” – Mötley Crüe
  6. “Young” – Frankie Cosmos
  7. “Beat It” – Michael Jackson
  8. “What Kind of Man” – Florence + The Machine
  9. “Blut Und Feuer” – Varg
  10. “Little Boy” – The Donnas
  11. “Easy” – The Commodores
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just repeat to yourself it’s just a show…

31
Jan

The original Ant-Man film a few years back was an absolute delight; definitely more enjoyable than Age of Ultron that came out the same year. Don’t agree? Fight me. Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang also added some much needed levity to the very serious Captain America: Civil War a couple of years later.

Yesterday, Marvel saw fit to release the teaser for Ant-Man and the Wasp coming out in July of this year, which will likely be a nice , light palate cleanser after Infinity War probably goes all dark and brooding in May, and we’re all likely also blown away by how good Black Panther is in a couple of weeks. This one’s not getting a whole lot of attention right now, but I suspect it’s going to be a bit of a sleeper hit.

And yeah, the internet’s likely going nuts about the physics, because that’s what it does, but hey; I kind of like the fact that they just go all SUPER SCIENCE! with it and totally own the hi-rise building with built-in luggage wheels and telescoping handle and the giant Hello Kitty pez dispenser.

I’m just gonna roll with it.

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annual state-of-the-union comment delayed due to illness

31
Jan

Since I went down with the plague (thanks, elementary school) around 4pm Monday and dropped off the planet for a day and a half (I slept for 21 hours straight, then for another twelve more after eating and excreting), I totally missed the State of the Union address. I’ll eventually get around to catching the highlights, though I expect I won’t have missed much – I expect that GOP side of the room stood up a lot, the Democratic side didn’t, and the speech was largely uninspiring and uneventful – 45’s teleprompter speeches are usually non-events unless he goes off script, and the news reports on the morning drive didn’t intimate that he did.

Anyway, gonna try and get back into life after my hibernation. Here’s the Drinking Game like I should have posted yesterday. If any of you DVR’d it, you can get plastered tonight.

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moist

29
Jan

Now, I don’t really get the antipathy toward this word, though people seem to hate it, and it came up as the joke when I looked at WTForecast?!! (you mean you don’t know what WTF?!! is? you need to go and download the app immediately!) Sunday night.

However, it certainly is descriptive of the circumstances outside the window right now.

I had a weekend. Even after supposedly solving a long-standing problem at work Friday morning (I hope), I’ve mostly been feeling pretty awful (the plague that’s currently running through the school system seems to have maybe one claw in me, leaving me functional, but kind of fuzzy, with occasional gnomes mining for things in my sinus cavities), but getting things like laundry and dishes and grocery shopping done.

I ran a decent enough D&D session on Saturday afternoon, dragging my motley crue of adventurers through the beginnings of a 5E conversion of the classic “Isle of Dread” module I found online. They fought a few monsters and saved the villagers from pirate slavers. We shall have many, many more sessions wandering this particular isle, though I think my ranger *might* need to re-examine his alignment after his surprisingly brutal pyromaniac tendencies at the pirate lair (though it might just have been that his inhibitions go down when we skype him in from Texas; which worked well, in spite of a few glitches).

Otherwise, I mostly chilled at home, stared at the television or a book (just got started with Leona Wisoker’s Servants of the Sands that I picked up from her at Marscon), usually covered with an average of one-point-three cats (yes, I did the back-of-the-envelope calculation). I’ve been watching the first epsidoes of Black Mirror after seeing lots of quiet praise on the internet. I’m enjoying it, though it goes to some *very* dark places in it’s examination of technology and media in modern society. Nonetheless, I recommend it highly. I also kept up with the Road to Infinity War movie-a-week thing, watching Captain America: The First Avenger for week five last night; it’s been a while since I watched this one beginning to end; I forgot how very good it was.

Not a whole lot on the agenda for this week, really. Just gotta get through it.

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friday random eleven: “at least I got paid” edition

26
Jan

As I expressed this week, it was kind of whiplash, what with the shutdown-restart shuffle, dealing with loss, weather swinging from 70s to below freezing in 48 hours, and the late-week addition of elementary school/dance studio plague hitting a wide community of individuals, including, to some extent (minor, so far), me.

Like I said in the title, at least I got paid (including my year-end performance bonus, which is getting banked until at least the current CR gets extended or, more likely, doesn’t – I still feel a long shutdown in the cards). I also didn’t have to go to Ohio this week (which I wasn’t looking for), and managed to turn next month’s quarterly dog-and-pony show from an all-day thing in DC to a two hour phone call. That’s the best I can come up with on the glass-half-full front. I also have high hopes (so far) for a Friday phone call that might put an end to a lingering work issue that’s been keeping my folks from doing their jobs.

We’ll see. I’m also taking a few hours off on Friday, because dammit, I deserve it after the shit I put up with this week.

This weekend is pretty much just gonna pay the bills, throw some dinosaurs at the D&D crew, do some laundry, and not much else besides maybe taking my wife out for lunch. I’ll take it after the last couple of busy, enjoyable (but still kind of stressful) weekends.

Anyway, here’s a list of tunes my Pandora mix kicked out:

  1. “Clumsy” – Waxahatchee
  2. “Dirty Love (live at the Palladium) (NYC 10-30-77)” – Frank Zappa
  3. “Heat of the Moment” – Asia
  4. “Locomotive Breath” – Jethro Tull
  5. “Big Sur” – The Thrills
  6. “The Scratch” – 7 Year Bitch
  7. “Spectral War” – Cavalera Conspiracy
  8. “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)(French Extended Version) – Concrete Blonde
  9. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
  10. “How Much I Feel” – Ambrosia
  11. “Old Friends” – Pinegrove
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whiplash

23
Jan

So, after getting furloughed yesterday, went back in to the office today as Congress reached a grand bargain half-assed postponement (beyond some good news for low income families needing healthcare) to reopen the government. For eleven business days.

Of course they waited until the last minute (Seriously, I got my “official” notification to report well after 11pm), because why not ratchet up the anxiety on federal employees to the greatest extent possible to cement our position as playthings of the ruling elite?

I may be slightly bitter, because of course I am. After spending yesterday morning shutting things down, The task is now the efforts of standing everything back up 24 hours later, which is going to take more than twice as long, because it’s way easier to cancel all these commitments than figure out how to get everybody back up to speed, and it sounds like I’m going to be head-down most of the rest of the week to make up for having to shut down for what was effectively half-a-workday while the Congresscritters kindly stopped their sniping and pissing contests for a few hours to look dramatically diplomatic and potentially presidential, only to kick the can down the alleyway for a little while.

I fully expect promises not to be kept, deadlines missed, and we’ll be doing this all again in three weeks.

I think I have a few Xanax left…

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