Sunday, January 31, 2010


O to the M to the G!

So I'm up way too late, and since I've posted something every day this year before going to bed (or earlier), I'm starting to want to make sure I keep that up. It makes no sense, and leads to my writing a lot of crap, and it's no matter because I'm not even sure any of you read this thing regularly--because I do go on so.

Anyway, I had lots on my mind, wasn't sure what to write about (because I didn't want to take too long, as I need to get to bed). First, I thought I'd just reproduce a story from my old website. Turns out I can't find those files. I think they're still on my old computer. This sucks for lots of reason.

Then I thought I'd just dig through my big box of things I've written to find some horrible poem from my youth (which differs greatly from the poetry I write now in that it's written by an older person than that other stuff) to post on here and laugh about.

I found the script for the movie Brad and I were going to do in the gifted program back in 1983 or 1984 or whenever. I didn't put a copyright date on it, but I'm thinking it had to be 1984...
because I'm pretty sure I typed it up on my Apple //c... or maybe I typed it up at school. I don't know. I apparently did not give Brad joint credit on the cover, probably because I did all the writing, but Brad would deserve story credit--I know we brainstormed the general story.

Anyway, I have something to read now. I can't wait to cringe at how bad it is!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Birthday #43 (Or: "Year 44: The Beginning")

The nice thing about facebook is you get so many people wishing you a happy birthday. It's almost overwhelming--and it's such a small thing, too. It's just so many people doing such a small thing.

The well-wishes started on the 28th (maybe even earlier, but I'm not going to scroll back to check). Dane let me know how many days old I would be on this birthday sometime around 11:30 the night before (15,706 days, in case you're wondering). From there, the birthday wishes began trickling in... several people mentioned posted some before 5:00 this morning... and by the time Say sent me a birthday text at 8:50 or so this morning (right when a student came to my desk to ask for help--and I had forgotten to turn my phone down! I just blamed him and told him if he didn't turn off his phone I would take it away...) I'd received... well, lots.

Bowman had made Bs & Gs (well, really EMs & Gs, as Sam's didn't have any biscuits when he went in, so he had to buy English muffins... slightly different taste, but I'm more about the gravy anyway) for the staff this morning in honor of my birthday.

And there were lots of staff e-mail well-wishes for me and the other staff members (two others, no lie) celebrating a birthday today. Ruth also sent a very colorful e-mail.

I haven't been eating with the kids in the cafeteria for a while, so Mrs. Manchion had to get me down to the cafeteria early when going to pick them up from lunch. They tried to do the traditional birthday song for my classroom (Older by They Might Be Giants), but the little boom box wasn't loud enough. So they went with the traditional birthday song for the rest of the planet. Kids has made posters and held them up when I walked in. See STILL: Life for those (one refers to this as my 50th birthday, which they thought was great fun--but when I acted offended, I thought the poor girl holding the sign was going to freak out... so I had to tell her I thought it was funny, and was just pretending to be offended. (Seriously, 43 is close enough to 50 as to not really matter at this point... it's not like the difference between 13 and 20, anyway.)

For 6th hour, I received another card from the kids as well as a brownie treat. It was one of those Little Debbie brownies with the colored sprinkle things or whatever the heck they are in the icing. I'm not a huge fan, but--hello, it's chocolate and in not way can be construed as good for you. Of course I ate it!

There were fun well-wishes throughout the day, and when I did the traditional birthday song for a belated half birthday and an upcoming birthday this Sunday in the end-of-the-day Home Room class, people included me in the pointing and motions (I should document this at some point, I guess, so the rest of the world can see what I make the kids suffer through on a birthday or half-birthday (for the summer birthday kids).

My plan time was taken up with teacher stuff, but the team meeting was pretty painless--I was still doing teacher stuff for the first part of it... by the time I got to team, it was pretty much over.

During the last class, I got to practice my "surprise face" for the surprise party I gave myself tonight. (Oddly enough, I never showed up for everyone to yell "Surprise!" But it was still fun.

Got to see Denis & Michael (first guests to arrive), Mia, Diane Davidson, David & Julie (with Tyson), Greg & Trevor, Lisa, Patrick (with Tessa, and later with Jake), Dane, Beth, Kevin, Sara, Matt Shepherd (I hadn't seen him since... probably the early aughts... '01 at the latest, I fear... but I could be way off there), and Ben & Tricia... and later on, Ruth made it, too. I tried putting them in order of arrival, but when Diane showed up I spent a chunk of time talking to her, as I'd not seen her in person since she retired, and only see her on facebook now... or until tonight, anyway.

I got several cards, some nice present (young Tyson brought me Nutter Butters, despite his issues with peanuts... there's a caring two-year-old for you). Ben & Tricia came from the airport (they'd been in D.C.).

The last guests were out by 11:55, and here I am, typing about it.

I've said it before, so if your eyes have not already glazed over, get ready for a glazing: My idea of Heaven is like tonight, but with everybody you've ever known there--this is possible because "My father's house has many rooms..." and any crap that's come between you and anybody else is so much water under the bridge. There's no petty whateverness going on, and nobody is stressing about life stuff... it's just people together, talking and laughing and just... you know... hanging out and stuff.

Oh, and streets of gold.

I'm not saying this is what I expect it to be, but it's what my current idea of it seems to be.

So I'm a blessed person. I've had many crappy birthdays, so I know a great one when it comes along. Usually there's an ice storm involved in my birthday (or at least some freezing rain). This year we got some snow and people heading south might have had a funferrific drive home, but it didn't involve me hanging alone, sort of out of contact with people. Apparently I'm more of a fan of people than I previously believed.

Yes, birthday #43 gets a gold star! Thanks, everyone who made it happen!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Note To My 18-Year-Old Self

Dear 18-Year-Old Me,

I went to see some one-acts this evening written by high-school students here in 2010. I hadn't meant to go tonight, but there were some communication errors in texting (see earlier post regarding texting and issues of electronic communication), and it ended up seeming easier to just go tonight instead of next weekend.

While you got to perform plays on a stage in the elementary gymnasium, this place has two--count 'em--two stages in rooms that actually are not also gyms! That's right, I put that "not" in there intentionally! It's crazy! Apparently schools have these things!

Not only that, this school has a drama program. Students write plays, direct them, perform in them. There are students taking drama classes as early as 6th grade here in Kansas City in 2010! I'm so not lying to you, 18-Year-Old Me!

Well, I had more to say, but I just realized that's probably enough culture shock for you right there. Maybe you were born in the wrong place. It's probably something you'll need to talk about with God when you have that "Where does the ineffable plan end and free will begin" conversation.

Next time you're checking out my blog through whatever space-time distortion you use for that sort of thing, check to see if I went on about how 18-Year-Olds haven't changed much since your day. Good times!

Almost-43-Year-Old Me

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Time To Have A Frank Talk About Your Periods

Yes, I sometimes live fast and loose with my punctuation and grammar rules... and my typographical errors and complete lack of proofreading beyond the occasional cursory spell-check...

And when I say "fast", I mean... you know... a skosh above walking speed.

For instance, I get so tired of making decisions about what words should begin with a capital letter in the title of my posts, I usually just slap a capital letter on every word. "Here's a special treat for you, "the"... today you become a man."

Sinny-hoo, I'm sure many more learned folks have lots of facts and whatnot to back it up, but I think technology is playing all kinds of hell with grammar and et-cettery. I'm not just talking about the crazy texting language that involves no punctuation or capitalization ever, either...

Today I sent an e-mail to another teacher in the building who was kind enough to let me borrow a student out of his class so she could make up a required test (required for the building, not for my class) during our Seminar time. I'd sent the request via e-mail, asking if I could get her out of class, and he e-mailed back he would just send her down at 12:40, and went on to ask if that was okay.

I started typing my reply as follows:

"That's great. Thanks!"

In my eyes it looked so very sarcastic. So I tried:

"That's great! Thanks!"

And now it looked entirely too over-the-top happy and grateful and that dog that used to hop around Spike or whatever that bigger dog's name was in that Looney Toons cartoon.

So I went back to the first version. But it still struck me as being so very sarcastic... or at the very least, spoken in a monotone with no sincerity whatsoever.

So I tried:

"That's great... Thanks!"

I still didn't like it. It still seemed insincere. In the end, I went with this:

"That's great! Thanks! (And now a discussion of the first exclamation point, as I went back and forth on it. See, it seems dumb to put one there, but when I put a period or ellipsis, it looked like sarcasm. It was very trying. Suggestions?)"

I'm sure Ryan just rolled his eyes and moved on with life (all I know for sure is he didn't hit "Reply" and actually suggest anything...).

My point is, I personally now live in a world where I'm well aware how people can take the simplest e-mail and make a big deal out of it. Also, you might have a clue why I sometimes don't get as much done on my plan time as I should.

I have another example that I'll spare you the pain of experiencing, but the short version is I got a text that said, "I have a little bit of bad news," while I was away from my phone (another boring long story about how my phone doesn't hold a charge and the charger is in the bedroom). I seriously spent hours trying to parse out that message to tell me what sort of bad news counted as "a little bit" when I found the text way past acceptable text-sending hours.

Maybe we need to switch to video messaging.

Just sayin'.

P.S.: What's up with this spell-check not recognizing "skosh". It's a word! Look it up at!

I Know You've Heard Too Much About The Quadratic Formula Lately, But...

Okay, people, you have ONE more day to pick the right choice for what to call my rooms. What I WANT to win currently needs two votes to win. That'd be cheating, except you don't know how many votes there were as I typed this... so it could be ANY of them...

I don't have a lot to say tonight, which is different from every other night in no way at all, except I'm openly admitting it. I should try to be more interesting, so more people would read what I have to say, except I seldom have anything very interesting to say--at least not when I think what I have to say is interesting. Sometimes I say things I think are not interesting at all, and people treat me like I'm some kind of... font of interestingnessosity or something.

So instead I'll share my contribution to that gazillion Quadratic Formula songs that are out there, sung to the chorus (maybe I'll write a verse or two later) of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic":

x is the opposite...
of the value b
plus or minus
the square root of b
squared minus
and all of it is over 2a...

May it help you all in your quest to solve quadratic equations. Use it in good math health.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sometimes I Write Bad Poetry Because I Can...

Someone said the first line of this poem to me today, and I just went from there. Make of it what you will, even if it's just something to line your bird cage with...

January 25, 2010

I walked away from the person who showed me who I am,
And I haven't stopped walking away.
Now I stand at the crossroads of the forgiven and the damned,
And I'm all out of Hell to pay.

Somewhere behind me is the road on which I was meant to travel,
But it's too late to turn back now.
No bread crumbs I've dropped, or sweaters I've unraveled
Can help me get back, anyhow.

So a one-foot-the-other song I very softly croon,
Holding on to its so-simple plan.
Looking back now could only pour salt in that wound,
And I've cried all the salt that I can.

All the salt of the earth for this city of God--forgive me:
I knew not what I did.
Got to take a small step, bleeding heart and weak-kneed,
Movin' on, knowing not who I kid.

Move along, naught to see, get a job, turn the page,
Time has passed for regrets and for sorrow.
Take what wisdom you can--it's your right, now you've aged.
Maybe Heaven awaits us tomorrow.

(c) copywright 2010 Mark Travis Riggs

Sunday, January 24, 2010

That "Sin" Thing Again

Hooray! I finally woke up in time to make it to church! They now know I'm not dead!

Rev. Kate was talking about how the things we agree with in the Bible we tend to think are meant literally, and the things we don't agree on are up for interpretation (side note: I'm one who things it's all up to interpretation, but sometimes the interpretation comes back around to, "Oh, this is meant literally), and it made me think of probably my favorite Granny Weatherwax (a witch) lines from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (from a scene in which she's having a conversation with an Omnian priest):

"...And that's what your holy men discuss, is it?" [asked Granny Weatherwax.]

"Not usually. There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin, for example." [answered Mightily Oats.]

"And what do they think? Against it, are they?"

"It's not as simple as all that. It's not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray."



"There's no grays, only white that's got grubby. I'm surprised you don't
know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people like things. Including
yourself. That's what sin is."

"It's a lot more complicated than that--"

"No. It ain't. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that,
they means they're getting worried that they won't like the truth. People as things, that's where it starts."

"Oh, I'm sure there are worse crimes--"

"But they starts with thinking about people as things..."

--from Carpe Jugulum, by Terry Pratchett

Now I wish I could find my copy--as I recall there's several other great Granny quotes in that one. I probably should read more intellectual stuff, but I enjoy this stuff so much...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Professional? Nah...

As I was standing in the Lowe's parking lot about an hour ago, taking what will probably be today's STILL: Life pic, a woman sitting in the passenger seat of a car called out, "Excuse me, are you a professional photographer?"

I replied that I wasn't really a professional photographer, but was just taking a picture for this goofy photoblog I do. She went on to explain her company is looking for a photographer to take some candid shots around the office for the company website (or something, honestly it became a bit "blah blah blah" at that moment, because I was thinking, "I already said I'm not a professional photographer, ma'am..."), and she let the sentence hang there with an implied, "Are you sure you're not a professional photographer?"

I then mentioned I had a niece who was much more of a professional photographer than I, but she lives in Omaha, to which she interjected, "No, we're in downtown Kansas City." I considered explaining to her about cars and such and how they can get you from Omaha to Kansas City, but then realized she probably would not appreciate that kind of comment and it would not lead to her hiring my niece, should Carrie be interested at all.

At any rate, the moment had passed, and she moved on to how the sky certainly was pretty, and she saw me taking my picture and just thought she'd ask. Thus, we parted ways.

My question to you, anybody who happens to actually read this far down into any given post on here, is this: Do you think I should have totally liked about it, just to get the job? Keeping in mind I'm not behind on the bills, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and so on, should I have even tried to get "hired" for the job? I mean, seriously, aren't there near-professional photographers who need the money in Kansas City? Should I have suggested to her? I'm just curious as to what you think...

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Long Boring Saga of the Textbooks

Seriously, no false advertising in that title.

First, poll about the naming of rooms over to the right. Vote, blah, blah, blah.

So I'm in this graduate program, and part of the deal was they send the books automatically and you just get billed for the books and the shipping and it's part of your bill for the semester. Operative word in that sentence being "was".

I checked on the site (not the class site, but the school site) earlier this month to see when my next class started. It listed the 20th, so I didn't really stop by there to check in until then. (I did stop by one day, saw some things had been put on the site, but the dates clicked with my interpretation of the 20th being the start date, so I didn't do much more than think, "Okay, we'll be ready to go on the 20th, then.)

Apparently there were messages sent and posted about what books we'd need (and the instructor seems to think (a) I should have been on before classes started to read this information, (b) I should not take into consideration they have never successfully changed my address in their system and be patient as I wait for things to be forwarded, and (c) should have either erased from my memory or pay no attention to the memory of the first class last semester, where the book showed up about a day or so before the first assignment was due), but nowhere on the site does it say, "Oh, and change in policy: we're not sending you these books unless you call and request them."

So I go to the site on the 20th, read more information about the books, and think, "Hmm... I need these in time to post something by next Wednesday... perhaps I need to check on why I don't have these books."

I start by messaging everyone else in the class to ask if anyone else has received their books. I get nothing back all evening, and decide if I don't hear back from anyone by end-of-school the next day, I'll call the university.

I did hear back, but it was someone saying, "Let me know what you find out."

I call the university, and get transferred to the tech department because I mentioned the phrase "online program". I call back and explain I need someone who is actually in charge of the online graduate studies...

This person confirms (as has been confirmed so many times before) my address has been entered correctly into... "i-something", which I guess is the system they use for changing addresses, which is in no way connected to the system they use when printing up labels. When I ask about the books, she transfers me over to the head of the online graduate program, who informs me they decided to stop sending the books because so many people complained about the shipping costs and how they could find them cheaper elsewhere. No mention was made about what I, the guy between that December paycheck that came 10 days early and the January paycheck that was still 8 days away, could do to buy these 150 dollars' worth of books. Just a sheepish, "Sorry," and that's that.

So I call the bookstore, hoping they can just send me the books and bill me as usual.

"No-can-do," says the guy on the phone. First, I have to call the business office and get some voucher or waiver or something, which means the earliest I can get the books is after the first due date.

"If you want to order them with a credit card, I can have them there by Monday," he explains. Well, if I had a credit card hanging out doing nothing, I'd be more than happy to do that. I didn't budget for this--or, more correctly, I'd budgeted for this to be part of this semester's bill.

So I could go to the credit union and take money out of savings, put it in the bank, and once that money shows up, I could order it that way--but again, after the first assignment's deadline.

I let the guy know I'm not upset with him (as he was apologizing profusely), and hang up.

Off I go into the wild blue yonder of Good news! I find the books for about $30 less than what it would have cost me. I figure I'll just put them in my cart and buy them when I have the money in my bank account, opting to pay more for the super-fast delivery.

When I'm ready to pay, they mention I could save a chunk by ordering with an credit card, should I decide to apply for one.

I don't need--nor do I want--another credit card.

However, I could have the books by Monday, giving me plenty of time to have my assignment completed by Wednesday.

Parade, streamers, etc.: Mark's getting the books. Books ordered and on the way, all is well!

I get home tonight, and I have e-mail from the university informing me of a new policy. They will no longer be shipping the books automatically, but if I'd like to call the book store, they would be happy to ship them to me and bill me as usual.



How much should I charge to go down there to organize their... stuff? I mean, really? I can't organize my life to save it, but I know I could go down there and get address changes recognized and make gigantic logical leaps like, "It might be helpful if we informed students of important policy changes before three days into the semester."

Whatever. I have my books on the way for a lower cost that I would have had otherwise. However, I'm not sure I'm happy about how I ended up having to go about it. Again, whatever. The important part is I have books coming and nobody had to lose an arm for it to happen. Not losing an arm is important, I think.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Under Mind

Most importantly, there's a poll over there to the right of what passes for the blogishness on this page... and my favorite choice isn't winning. So work on it, people!

Today was one of those school days where you can just feel yourself losing the battle. It's so easy on days like this to just want to throw up your hands and walk away. There are so many kids who have already thrown up their hands and walked away, others who are on the verge but are still hanging on, hoping someone clears things up soon, and still others who are wondering what all this hand-throwing-up is all about, and why can't we just get on with the learning.

It is very wearying in work and work to try to get kids caught up to where they should have been about 20 months ago (or more), and have them not have any interest in getting there. You can say it's not my problem, but there's a NCLB that says otherwise... and says every child will be there by... some year or another. December of 2012, I think.

Anyway, not a good day for the teacher in me. I'm seriously feeling I should just wave goodbye to the ones who have walked away, do my best to pull the kids who are still hanging on along with me, and tell the others it's time to move forward... and as right as that sounds, it doesn't feel right. I seriously feel like there's so much work to be done, and there's so little of it I can do.

In other news, I went over to Jason's last night, which was a good time. I need to get over to Heather's soon (maybe this weekend--maybe she'll read this and send me an e-mail about what a great idea my coming over on Saturday would be), and Lyndsey's (which is a scheduling nightmare, a sentiment she'd agree with if she read this, I think).

Most of all, I just need to DO SOMETHING.

I don't know if I mentioned it on Sunday, but even though I loathe the idea of leaving my house and I loathe the idea of being away from home for very long, I really enjoyed my day away from home on Sunday. I'm the same way about stand-up comedians. I loathe the idea, enjoy the experience. Does that mean I'm crazy?

Or, rather, crazier...

No matter. Tomorrow is Friday, and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fringe Comments

So I like the show Fringe, and I don't talk to a lot of people who watch it, so I'm gonna blather on about it here.

First, a couple of Monday's ago, they showed an episode (listed as NEW) that had a dead character in it--but nobody was like, "Hey, you're dead," when they talked to him... or, "Hey, you're an evil imposter," when they first saw him... so I assume this story took place sometime before the guy was killed and replaced by and evil imposter (who was then killed). Shouldn't they have maybe said something like that at the first of the episode? Very strange.

But I do love this show. It's like the X-Files of the aughts... and now the... uh... tens. But it's very emotional, as well. I often find myself getting a little teary-eyed. Drama, drama.

Also, gross sometimes.

Oh, it doesn't delve into any great philosophical issues (beyond, "If your son dies, is it morally wrong to go to an alternate reality and kidnap the son of that alternate-reality you and raise him as your own?" and "Should you tell that son once he reaches adulthood and learns of the whole alternate reality thing--especially if he suffers from nightmares about you kidnapping him?"), but it is of the science fiction, so I love it.

So, if you aren't watching the show, get all caught up and then we'll talk. If you are, let me know so I know who gets to hear my, "Did you see THAT?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"It's 'Van Halen'..."

Sara commented on fb how she missed the laff lines, and today I wished I had the old website where I could publish some... and I've been thinking about bringing those old ones (I have 120 of them, after all) over here for re-publishing. But that's a poll for another day. (Have you voted on the current one, yet?)

For the life of me I wish I could remember the topic of conversation this morning in my Connections (read: home room) class, but whatever I was talking about led this rather well-read young man to clarify what I was talking about by asking, "Valhalla?"

To which a young lady responded, "It's Van Halen..."

I laughed so hard she had to make it clear she was making a joke (this young lady is about as well-read as the young man, so I don't doubt the veracity of that claim).

I am tired enough to have skipped rehearsal tonight (I so wish these weren't on school nights, but so it goes), and now I might be heading to bed early. Now that is tired!

Monday, January 18, 2010


No, I'm not starting a series on the seven deadly sins... I've just had that U2 song going through my head most of the day, for hopefully obvious reasons.

Still looking for more votes in the whole "what do I call my two rooms" poll over there. If you haven't voted yet, go vote.

I don't know that it did much to celebrate the life of Dr. King (I'll leave it for you guys to discuss in the comments, since so many of you like to comment), but I got several things done on my day off today. Not only are almost all of my Christmas decorations put up in the shed (I'm still holding off on the cups and breakable stuff like that until I do a bubble-wrap run... I was hoping to find some bubble wrap in one of my moving tubs today, but didn't), but several other tubs that have been sitting in the sunroof have been sorted through and are out in the shed, as well.

The only two tubs left out there contain L.P.s, and I don't want to put them in the shed--and hope I get something with a turntable sometime in the near future.

I also have a few boxes out there and a giant tote-thingy, but those shouldn't take much effort to get through.

In addition to this, laundry is all caught up, and here in a few minutes I'll start on my lunches for the school week. And I walked a high school junior through the wacky world of radicals.

Oh, and I moved a piece of furniture in from the shed. It's over on STILL: Life, if you want to peek at it. I need to get some picture frames and some more knick-knacky crap to put on it, but at least it's filling up the spot where that chair used to be.

Yes, considering the very small amount of actual human interaction I've had today, I don't know how we'll tie in my day with Dr. King. I did have lots of online human interaction via facebook. Does that count?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

To The Death

First, what's up with people not voting on what I call those two rooms? Is it that you secretly know I've already picked the names I like, and are afraid your choices won't match mine? Don't worry about that--if my choice doesn't win, I'll just ignore the results!

I kid.

So today I got up at 7:30 and FINALLY managed to stay awake on a Sunday morning and make it to church.

This was because Dane & Ruth were somewhat depending on me.

Ruth was needing some help getting Dane's wheelchair loaded, and asked if I could come assist, so I did. Yes, it sounds all selfless, but I was actually using it as a way to make sure I made it to church, even if it wasn't at the church where I'm a member...

The first event was a... presentation... discussion... something like that about the death penalty. Here's where I stand, despite what I may have said to any of you right after you'd majorly ticked me off: You don't kill, ever. If you have to kill to save your life or the life of another (in either case, some sort of immediate threat should be involved), there's a little wiggle room... but beyond that, no to the killing.

I don't think that will come as a shock to anyone who knows me.

However, it's so strange to hear this talked about in political terms... and by that I mean terms which are more concerned with achieving the goal of abolishing the death penalty rather than simply stating: Killing bad. Killing for vengeance and calling it "justice" worse (which, when you get down to it, sorta fuels the whole thing, I believe).

I mean, great goal, but strange not to mention the whole "killing bad" thing--or at least mention it so little I don't remember it being mentioned. I realize you gotta do what you gotta do, but it was just so odd...

In other news, Nate from The Wilders sang the solo at church, so that was cool. We had a brief chat before the service, and apparently Ike is headed to the area for a bit, which would be nice if I thought I'd get to see him, but I figure he'll be busy with Ike-ish things to do, and that's how it goes.

Oh, one other tidbit from today--I'm glad some people have a belief system that is very much centered on the End of Days, and I guess I'm a lot less glad this focus has somehow made them sure that it's going to happen soon, say next Thursday around lunch.

Here's a crazy idea... try to get your house in order not because you want to look busy when the boss comes by, but because you need to get your house in order... if house-getting-in-order is your thing... meaning a major part of your belief system.

That is all. Go vote on my poll. Be good to each other. Take only pictures; leave only footprints. Seize the drapes.

ADDENDUM: After an e-mail exchange with Ruth, I thought I'd clarify: The nun who spoke first yesterday at the death penalty thing did start off with asking for quotes about Jesus being anti-violence, and so the whole "killing bad" thing was addressed a bit at the start. I just thought it would go more in-depth from there, and it really didn't. (Meaning I thought she'd address more how the death penalty is really vengeance masked as justice and "protecting society".) I totally get how it is necessary they focus on what will work to get the death penalty repealed, it just seems so odd to me there are people who just don't know "killing bad", and you have to do the political dance to get them to find OTHER reasons why it's bad.

ADDENDUM ADDENDUM: Ruth pointed out to me they probably did some audience analysis--the folks at St. Andrew's probably didn't need to be reminded that killing is bad...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's Pathetic, But It's A Huge Accomplishment For Me!

No, I haven't become a better human being or solved the world's problems or even figured out how I'm going to help get these 25 kids I'm going to have in my seminar class on Tuesday to "get" math.

However, I am now officially caught up with Smallville.

This really was no small task!

See, when I started getting caught up several years ago, I just borrowed the seasons from Jon Johnson on DVD. Season 1, no problem. Season 2, again, no problem. Season 3, no problem and the biggest cliffhanger ending EVER.

Season 4... well, it seems Jon started watching it live by that time (or at least started recording it by then). So he didn't buy any season's after 3.

Fast forward a couple of years (really, this was at least a few months (if not a few years) before I started working at Papa John's part time), and I get a Netflix account.

Netflix was made for people like me who need to get caught up on a show.

Between the first part of May and the last part of December, I managed to get caught up to the end of last season (whatever that season was... 8? Dunno...). Now that I live so close to home, I have an additional 40 minutes or so every day--plus, when I don't do after-school activities (and I swear this quarter will be the last time ever), I have even more time. So I could watch a whole disc in an evening and have it in the mail the next day.

Then the current season started, and I realized I didn't record it. Fortunately for me, Dane records it, and I asked him to save all of this season for me.

Turns out he didn't need to. I finally realized I'm not recording more than one other show at that time, so I can record it myself. I had the newest two episodes recorded (yes, it took me several weeks to realize I could record it myself and could just go to Dane's for the first episodes). What I did not realize was I had recorded several repeat episodes as well. I looked online, and turns out I had episodes 1 through 5 or so already recorded.

So I watched those episodes in short order.

Last week they aired two the last of the three I did not have recorded, and last night they aired the newest repeat. I'm caught up.

It's very odd to watch a show on DVR after you've grown so used to watching it on DVD. I keep forgetting to grab the remote for commercials, and when I need to pause, I grab the wrong remote.

In other news, I finished the newest Hitchhiker's book. I liked it well enough, but it's not the same. Small things.

For one thing, Arthur says "mate" several times, which I'm almost positive never happens in the first five books of the trilogy. In fact, I recall interviews with Douglas Adams where he talks about "this proper British gentleman" (or maybe it was someone else associated with the series saying that, but it was said, and often). "Mate" doesn't strike me as properEnglishgenetlemanspeak.

Something about Trillian is a little off, too, but that's to be expected, as she was the least developed of all the characters--and all the characters were really more sort of sci-fi commedia dell'arte characters. Not to say they were stock science fiction characters, nor that they were the standard commedia dell'arte characters... just saying the development didn't go much beyond skin depth for most of them, and less so for Trillian.

Also: Wowbagger doesn't seem to be the right color. I haven't checked on that yet, however. It involves opening a book, but I haven't found time for it yet.

Oh, and I'd have to read the end of book 5 in the trilogy, as I think something is amiss with H2G2 Mark II. But I may never take the time to get there.

One other thing: D.N.A. wasn't the best at endings. He wasn't SNL bad, but I often felt like the books ended at what could easily be just another chapter ending. The fifth book really did end, and I think it's fun how the new book unends it, but I think this book had even more of an ending--maybe because D.N.A. has been gone for longer than I've been teaching math.

The title, And Another Thing..., is taken from some D.N.A. work (I don't know if it's a Hitch-hiker's book or not, but I want to say it's from So Long and Thanks for All the Fish):

The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying, "And another thing," twenty minutes after admitting he's lost the argument. - Douglas Adams

I loved that bit of figurative language--and that sort of thing is what makes me like Terry Pratchett so much, I think. I've been wanting to share that quote with someone for a while now. Don't you feel lucky?

Again, as a reward for making it this far through this blathering on my part, I share here the fact there's a link to my new photo blog listed under the links on the STILL:Life blog.

Oh, and go vote in the poll. I need to know what to name my rooms.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Moments after I told Manchion I was going to take my yearbooks home to look through them because I wasn't sure if I could handle it at school, I had my yearbooks out and was looking through them with several of my homeroom students gathered around me.

(It's funny how interested they are in our lives, sometimes. They thirst for knowledge that we're human, maybe? Probably more likely they want to feel included and that we're willing to share who we are with them. I don't know. Go see someone who studies their brains for a living, if you really want to know. I just try to coax them into putting stuff in their brains, I don't study them. I know I'm the one who brought it up. I'm just sayin' is all.)

I think I opted for the public viewing so I'd be less likely to have an emotional reaction.

The yearbooks always arrived in the summer when I was in junior & senior high school. It seems to me it was close to the time school started, but that could just be the result of a faulty memory. My memory is much more faulty than some people would like to believe--or have me believe. I keep having jump-starts lately that let me know this.

After "the event" my senior year, when the Brad-and-Mark entity suddenly became two separate entities, I was pretty much done with Mark Twain High School. I was pretty much done with Center, MO. I was pretty much done with Ralls County. If I had any more being pretty much done left in me, I probably would have been done with Missouri, the midwest, and the Bible belt.

Because the problem could not possibly lie with me, you see, it had to lie with where I lived. To be fair to 18-year-old me, it did partly lie with where I lived--but at the end of the day, when the choice is made, the one making the choice is the one making the choice.

Still, I remember it well. I remember making a countdown calendar in my locker of the days I had left in that school. I remember wanting nothing to do with anyone at that school... but being willing to make allowances for one or two people. I remember never wanting to remember that place, and despairing because I knew it would be impossible to forget.

Turns out, that was almost wasted despair, but we'll come back to that... maybe. I forget my "we'll come back to" items, sometimes.

Anyway, as a part of this seemingly-feeble-but-as-it-turns-out-not-so-feeble attempt at forgetting MTHS and all things associated with it, I didn't have anyone sign my Senior yearbook. It is as writing-free today as it was the day it was put in the box to be shipped to MTHS. So I started with that one. I showed the kids pictures of me in "the trenchcoat", and I showed them pictures of me in different clubs, etc., and I showed them my senior picture.

Mostly they were amazed my hairline was once lower. Seriously.

Because it was the 25th Anniversary Edition, there were pages in color... and I'm in my trenchcoat on one of those pages. Odd how memory fails and the mind makes up stuff--I could have sworn there were several pages of color, but there weren't.

After looking at that yearbook for a few moments, I picked up my Junior yearbook. I love the cover of that yearbook, and I used to know all kinds of stories about it (Kelly could probably still tell you every bit of it, I think)... it seems like some of the items on the cover belonged to me, but for the life of me I'm not sure what would have been mine.

I opened to the Swing Choir/Jazz Band page, and as the kids were laughing at my hair and clothes, I noticed Brad was next to me in the group photo. I pointed him out and said, "There's Brad."

This then led to them asking who Brad was, and since they knew I'd gone to a funeral this week, I told them he was the friend who recently passed away.

Again, they're funny sometimes. You get reactions you don't expect. They actually didn't say anything "typical 7th grade", and for the most part were silent and respectful for a good 15 seconds. Then they went back to talking about my hair and clothes.

Then I stumbled across the last page of the book. It was originally blank, but Brad had signed it. Had I been reading it alone, it might have been hard to maintain. Luckily, I had several students all around me. Being referred to as "best friend in the Universe"... well, what do you say? "Wow," has to do, right?

Anyway, I read faster than all of them, but someone skipped ahead to the shocking "v" word in the text, and I had to close the book and move on to the next one. But here it is:

(Click it to see a larger version of it.)
Let me explain some things, now...
First, I don't know what "Arnold" means. I imagine there's some story there, and I imagine it was something we laughed about a lot... but I can't remember it at all. The rest of the names all ring a bell.
I don't remember the junior high game at Highland, but I do remember cramming a lot of people around lunch tables. And I'm vague on the leech reference, but I'm sure I was gladly paying him Tuesday for a hamburger today.
I forgot it was me who introduced him to Doctor Who (sorry, Chris) and The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As soon as I read it, I started remembering conversations, but in my head, we both brought those into the friendship.
Parties at Kelly's house: check.
Conversations on TW... means conversations we had while sitting on my car, which I had named TW (for Time Warp, from the song in Rocky Horror). When I drove by their house the other day, that was one thing I thought of: hanging out in that semicircle driveway, talking for hours on end--usually sitting on the hood of my car.
Elbow " ": If you're a Rocky Horror Picture Show freak, you know what goes between the quotes. Rhymes with clucking. It's a move Riff Raff and Magenta do a few times throughout the movie--Brad and I would do that particular move whenever we could convince the DJ at the dance to play my recording of The Time Warp--in addition to the steps prescribed by the lyrics, that is.
I have no idea who Ed Clay is/was/ever shall be. Apparently I knew who he was once, though.
Again, I don't have to explain for RHPS freaks, but "celebrate losing my virginity" has to do with seeing the movie for the first time... (I think that explains it pretty well to the unenlightened, don't you, Brad?)
"Spirit of Light" may have been the convention we never made it to my last year at MTHS--or it may be a convention we didn't make it to at all (everything I find online says SoL conventions were a Chicago "area" thing, and I know the one we were going to was in St. Louis... which doesn't strike me as being in the Chicago "area"). I think I remember Roger and Rick, but maybe those are two other guys I'm thinking of. I'm pretty sure they were the guys we tried to start a sci-fi club with in Hannibal.
There was no graduation party. I didn't go to Kirksville. I did, however, panic.
The pictures on the bottom right-hand side: The top one is Brad's visual interpretation of the blue-and-white checkerboard Van's I had (and I think he ended up getting a pair, too). The bottom one is the T.A.R.D.I.S., which is what Doctor Who uses to get around all of space-time.
So back to that wasted despair...
I went to college and did my best to forget everything MTHS. I came back to Ralls County on occasion, and I survived just fine. But I did manage to forget a lot. Just reading that one page in the yearbook proved that to me.

This isn't about regret (Kelly made it very clear my final 24 hours of regret were over about 48 hours ago, and Lyndsey might come over here with a shovel (or lots of company, which might be better) if she thinks I'm sitting here regretting and digging up more regret). It's about just realizing something I did to myself. It's made most clear when my college friends wonder who the heck this Brad guy was, as he wasn't part of the "back home" cast of characters they're familiar with.
As we fade out of this scene, somebody play the theme song from "The Breakfast Club"...
In other news, and as a reward for reading this far: there's a link to my new photo blog on the link list for STILL: Life. If you're chompin' at the bit to see a new picture of ME every day, that's the place to be!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I'm back to that apparently-not-as-controversial-as-I-thought issue of what to call the rooms in my house. Poll to the right.

I managed to make it through the day without blaming any bad things that happened to anyone on some pact they made with the devil, so that gives me a leg-up on some people...

If you haven't received your invitation (electronically, people... the days of me sending out actual paper/card-stock invitations are long gone) for my surprise birthday party yet, it's because I haven't gotten around to sending them out.

Yesterday morning (or maybe during the day Tuesday), I got an e-mail from someone over at Central Office saying I should have received an e-mail about the staff development this upcoming Friday. The e-mail explained it would have come from the site we use for signing up for these things, but I would already be signed up, as I'm one of the people running it.

I had never received this e-mail, but didn't think much of it.

Today, I got an e-mail from the principal letting me know he'd received notice I was one of the people who have yet to signed up. I went ahead and signed up, but then e-mailed the author of the first e-mail to say, "I didn't receive an e-mail from the site, so I don't know if I'm listed as one of the people running the show or not."

Because, you see, if I'm to print out attendance sheets from the site or otherwise note attendance on the site, I need to be able to log in as one of the instructors.

Maybe I worded it poorly (I looked later, but couldn't see what I said wrong), but I got the snarkiest e-mail back, pointing out in no uncertain terms this woman had sent me three e-mails about this, and bluh bluh bluh snarky bluh...

I opted to log off and head on home. Where's my cookie?

I'd love to get all irritated about it, but I've mis-read e-mails before and sent replies that I'm ashamed about immediately, and mortified about once I realize it was all a misunderstanding on my part.

But seriously, I was very clear I was talking about not having received the automated e-mail from the system.

Whatever. I copied the woman who handles the communications with the system, and she's fixed it. It's all good.

But now I have to be a teacher leader tomorrow. ::sigh:: I miss the days where I could show up and complain about how I hate these presentations.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Starring Highway 19 as Memory Lane

I made a road trip back home today for Brad’s funeral.

Yes, I know, I said I wasn’t planning on going. It’s a thing with teachers. We really hate missing work, typically—mostly because it’s so much work to miss work, but also mostly because it’s just better to be there. (The two mostlies were intentional. We’re dichotomous about it, see?)

Anyway, I took it as a sign when Brad’s mom asked my brother if I was coming to either the visitation or the funeral. So I got up early this morning to piece together a decent day’s work in an hour, and left for New London at about 7:00.

I posted on the Rep’s remembrance page for Brad that I didn’t “fit” back home—or something like that. However, going home does remind me that part of me belongs there—or at least comes from there.

Just getting on Highway 19 brings back plenty of memories from high school… and once I reach the Junction, I’m taken into junior-high memories. Of course, Center is rife with memory-joggers, but Highway 19 between Center and New London also takes me back to elementary years, as that’s the first stretch of road we’d take when going to Hannibal.

That short span of 19, from the Junction to New London, is my Memory Lane, I’ve decided. First, the streets in Center are too short to be memory lane for me. (I kid, Center-folk.) No, really it’s just driving down that stretch of road makes me remember things like “Steve Webster’s house and Joe Wisner’s house were down that road” and “That’s the road to The Landing” and “What happened to that old filling station that used to be there… or did I already know that was gone and forgot?” And so on.

I remember mom telling me about a house on the way to New London—it was ordered from a catalog. I’m so not making this up. Apparently this happened. It’s a nice-looking house, too. There’s the turn off for Tricia’s house, Aunt Lois’ house, the high school. Debbie’s house was right on the highway. There is the spot where mom told some stalled motorist “This man’s a bus driver,” as Mr. Gibbs pulled up IN HIS SCHOOL BUS…

It hit be about halfway between Center and New London that I need to visit at least a couple of times a year (if not once every two months) just to sort of get “that” back… whatever “that” is. Remembering where I came from, I guess.

I got to New London not long after 10:30. The parking lot for the church was full (thanks for the reminder directions, by the way, Kelly), so I pulled out into a different street than I pulled in on, went to the next intersection, did a U-ey, and parked there on the street.

I got out of the car, looked up, and there was Brad’s house… or the house he lived in when I knew him, anyway. Not only was it that house, but I was facing the windows to his room.

I usually took the street I did the U-ey in whenever I went to his house, but was both distracted by trying to find parking and forgetful of the lay of the land as I hadn’t driven around New London for many years now.

So I took a picture. (After the service, I drove by the front and the other side of the house, to see if it was as I remembered it. I remember standing in that semicircle driveway by my car, discussing different books (I never read Mall World, Brad), what we wanted to create when we were older and had creative control of anything other than our wardrobes, what the plans were for our next geeky outing (Rocky Horror? Sci-Fi Convention? Basketball Statistician Night Out?)…

I had never been to the Christian church there in New London—at least not to my memory. I didn’t recognize Jamie Lemon when I first saw him, as I was too busy taking in the surroundings. A lot of the people from the Rep in St. Louis were there, as they couldn’t make the visitation the night before (it’s a theatre thing). So I really didn’t recognize much of anyone (although some people looked naggingly familiar).

I saw Mary Jo up front by the casket, talking to some people there. Brad’s older sister was standing by, and recognized me as a Riggs (it’s so odd to go somewhere and be recognized as “a Riggs”… I haven’t had that for a while, either). She went to high school with Say. We spoke for a bit, and I kept glancing over at Brad, and as his mother, who just looked like some time had passed, but that’s about it. She seemed to be holding it together very well, considering.

Seeing Brad was tough, of course—having not seen him in person for probably 24.5 years or so (the decimal just SEEMS to make it exact, you see), and seeing him now, like that…

Talking with his mom was like I’d just seen her the day before. We didn’t talk a lot before the service, but she did ask me if I was coming to the grave site, and invited me to a light lunch being served in the church basement afterwards.

I’d met another classmate of Say’s while waiting to talk to Mary Jo. That’s the thing about going back home—you may not know anybody, but they know OF you, and they probably know a sibling of yours, or some ancestor or another—at the very least they know a cousin.

I found a corner to have a seat in, down the row from some people I knew I should recognize (the Rhodes, if anyone from back home is reading this and can’t handle even low-level suspense). Say’s former classmate (Donnie Palmer, for those of you with that suspense issue) sat right in front of me, which helped during those moments I thought I was going to actually bawl out loud. (Is it possible to bawl silently? I think the definition prohibits that. Whatever, I’m keeping it.)

The pastor (Tom Day) did the standard reading of the obituary, then had a seat as Deborah Sharn (I’m thinking she performs around the St. Louis area—she knew Brad, anyway) sang a song called, “Time Heals Everything”. It was a song Brad would request whenever he would come see her sing, and would often sing with her.

A friend and co-worker (perhaps supervisor) named Mark Bernstein got up next to speak about Brad. It was beautiful and summed up a lot of what I’ve already said about Brad (and what’s been said around the world via the internet, it seems). Smart, funny, kind, thoughtful, giving, etc. He really didn’t change much from when we would hang out back in the mid-80s…

There were scripture readings, and Dr. Ken Haller, who shared a house with Brad (I think Brad lived in the third floor… there were Mary Tyler Moore Show references in his remembrance on the Rep site about this). He shared more of the same, lots of laughs. And he sang another favorite of Brad’s, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, and encouraged us to sing along. I didn’t trust myself to sing very loudly.

Unlike the last two near-and-dear-to-me funerals I had attended, I loved the message from the Pastor. While it made me tear up and leak about the eyes several times, it didn’t seem like a “you need to come to church” piece (as Mom’s seemed to be) or a “gee, wonder if this deceased person is in Hell” piece (see blog entry about Lois’ service back in January of ’06).

The part that almost had me running to the door in case I couldn’t hold back a horrible sob was where he said, “You need to forget about what you might have done differently.”

Cheralinn found me after the service. I had not seen her during it, even though it was possible to see everyone in the place. She asked me if I was going to the grave site, I asked her if she was going to be at the lunch thing, and we sobbed at each other a bit.

At first I wasn’t sure about going to the grave site. But then it seemed… right. I’ve realized in the past 48 hours or so how many people from high school think “Mark” when they think of Brad. After 25 years, I think part of me felt maybe I imagined we were that close. So I drove in my second funeral procession going to Grandview Funeral Home (the first one being back in… 1983, (was it…?) for Les Huston).

Walking up to the grave site—or if not the actual site, the site where they were having the grave site part of the service… I’ll happily explain that later, but not until I’ve discussed with Ed, who knows all things grave-site related. Side note: For those who know the story of my helping Ed dress a body one Christmas morning, this is the place where I did that.

Okay, back on track: Walking up to the grave site, the rightness of it really set in. I was once part of the Mark-and-Brad or the Brad-and-Mark (in the next world, Brad and I will have to discuss what it should actually be), and it was right I should be there for this.

After the very short gravesite portion, Cheralinn came over with the person I thought was maybe her husband (I don’t know that I’d looked closely at any facebook pics of him… or if I had, I’m an idiot with no memory, which is also valid). This guy said, “I bet you don’t remember me,” or maybe some other wording, but along that line. I told him I’d remember him with a name, and I was right. It was Kyle Jameson, another MTHS person I had not seen for years.

We all agreed to meet back at the church, and I went over to talk to one of Brad’s current friends. It was awkward, but I felt it was something I needed to do—and forced myself to, despite my voice not wanting to cooperate. In short: who is this crazy person coming over here and talking to me?

It was through the conversation with Kyle and Cheralinn (and later Mary Jo) that I remembered so many things I’d forgotten: Brad and I did basketball stats together (sometimes with Cheralinn, sometimes with Cathy… maybe sometimes with both…); I made up a statisticians “cheer”, and from what Cheralinn repeated, it wasn’t half bad; there’s some story about Bob Gough, 3:00a.m., and a baseball bat I’m still trying to put together in my head.

I reminded them about UNO (and pieced together the whole Mar Kriggs thing had its roots in my video game tag… I was JAK for a long time, but then switched to MAR), and Ad Astra, and the time we got a huge circle of people to do the Time Warp at some dance or another.

Mary Jo had no idea how well-loved Brad was by so many people. She printed off a stack of remembrances, testimonials, tributes, etc., from the internet. She said the stack was several inches tall when printed out.

I learned Mary Jo is not a fan of visitations. She liked the actual funeral service a lot more. As we were winding things down, and everyone was leaving the church, she admitted, “Now comes the hard part.”

I stopped by to visit with Paulette before heading back home, and was glad I did, as always. Now I have to plan a trip back that lasts a whole weekend—or maybe a chunk of Spring Break, if Binx opts out of visiting me—or wants to hang out with me back home.

In other news: Yes, televangelists say crazy stupid things. Let us speak of this no more. I don’t want to hand out publicity to idiots. Instead of speaking of this, donate money to some sort of disaster relief fund for Haiti. I have spoken. Or, really, I have typed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Have Nothing to Say, and I am Taking Time to Type it Here...

I'm going to be on the road a bit tomorrow. Hopefully the "heat wave" will clear away a lot of the snow!

I really like a lot of the music we're singing this concert. I look forward to hearing us improve as the weeks pass.

Today I had to explain to a kid what a "Sock Hop" was. Luckily, I didn't know for sure, so I just made it up. I kid. I actually did need confirmation as to the reason behind the "Sock" part of it.

It's cold out there, people. Stay warm.

Back To School

If I have time (and if people harp enough demanding me to write about it since I brought it up), I'll share a summary of an interesting conversation I had with my Seminar class today. It's very funny and touching and beautiful and sad and pathetic to have these conversations with 7th grade students. It reminds me how every time one of them learns about the Holocaust, they come tell me about it as if their having just heard of it means nobody else knew about it until they did.

We had an interesting impromptu talk about racism. I'll try to go more in-depth later. I'm up too late as it is.

I just wanted to say the new photoblog is up but you'll have to find it on your own. Also, I don't think I can make it to Brad's visitation or funeral which bums me out, but maybe visiting the grave by myself some weekend would be better, anyway.

It was a hectic and fun-filled day, and I'm beat. Good night, all!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Photoblog is a GO

You asked for it--or failed to vote against it, anyway. I have pics for every day so far this year. I think I'm going to let kids in my homeroom set up and take pictures of me as well. Give them a feeling of... photographerness... or something.

Look for the new poll tomorrow (or so) about what to call the two rooms in my house I'm currently confused about...

Final Day To Vote!

The poll about whether or not the blog "365 (and some change)Days of ME!" will become a reality ends tonight (1/10/10) at 11:55, if I remember my settings correctly (or the settings I chose for the survey, anyway--I have no clue about my personal settings, although they're usually stuck on "irrataional output only"). The poll is on my blog page, and details are available in this post.

I'm tired and want to go to bed. Unfortunatetly, I'm all wrapped up in this book and will spend some time reading it before I actually sleep. I won't pretend to be planning on getting up for church, despite my need to go this week more than many other previous weeks--my driveway has miles to go before I... back down it. It's a snow thing.

Also, since Dane will be without his computer until I get it to him (hopefully tomorrow after more shoveling), let me point out that today is 1/10/10, and 1 times 10 is 10. That is all.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Don't Get Used To It (Or: Don't Worry, It Will Be Over Soon)

Yeah, this daily writing in the blog thing was NOT a resolution. It's just a symptom of cabin fever. There's only so much to do when you don't want to leave your house.

The driveway needs to be cleared, and I didn't want to go out there in the -1,000,000 temperature to do it, and if I'd paid anyone else to do it, I'd feel cheap paying them anything less than $1000, which I don't have.

I do think a 3-week break would be nice every year around the holidays, however. With all the craziness that goes on from the start of break to January 1, it's nice to have time to just do whatever. I actually CLEANED stuff today. ME! CLEANING! That never happens. Well, seldom happens. I couldn't let it get crazy filthy or anything.

Here's a question for the people who read this--especially those who have been in my house: What should I call the room at the front of the house where the front door is and the room at the back of the house where the television is? I feel like I do most of my living in the back room, so I want to call it the living room. If I do that, however, that leaves little to call the front room other than "the front room". We had a "front room" when I grew up, and I didn't realize until I was way older than just a kid what a strange name that was for a room (like "living room" is any better?)...

So then I could call that room in the front the living room, but that means I call the back room the... family room? It's just me here. Granted, when I have family over (whether it be my biological family or my family in spirit (a.k.a. my friends, for those of you who aren't getting it)), that's the room we tend to congregate in. Still, it feels odd calling it a family room. I guess I could call the front room the "sitting room" as there really isn't much to do there other than sit and maybe play the piano if I ever find a cheap and halfway decent piano bench (and the "halfway decent" makes me laugh, because my piano ain't no work of art--which reminds me, is there a reality show where they refurbish some old crap for fun? I should get on that with this piano). Oo, or maybe I could call it the parlour. What makes a room a parlour?

Okay, I just looked it up. First of all, why do I so often use the British spelling of things? Maybe there was something to that mini-past-life reading I had done back in whatever year that was... '89? '90?

Anyway, maybe I'll call it the parlour after all. And the back room can be the living room.

I'm spending way to much thought on this. Is ANYONE enjoying the view from inside my brain? I think maybe I'll just say "the front room" and "the back room". Or I can call the back room "the cave". Who cares, right?

Anyway, school will start back up soon, and this daily boredom from me will end soon--so don't send people over to cut off my hands or anything!

It Was A Good Day

I didn't expect much out of today. I mean, there's a huge clue to my level of inclination to dissatisfaction when a week ago I was internally bemoaning the fact I overbook my break (meaning I book anything at all, really) when what I really want is just to chill out all alone... but then when I get a chance to chill out alone, I'm thinking it's a huge waste.

I blame the fact I finally got caught up to this season of Smallville. Also Dr. Who regenerated, and it's bumming me out. I have many things to blame that AREN'T ME, so don't rock my boat, people. However, do feel free to vote in the poll on my blog (upper right side, I believe).

Anyway, I've lost my original thought (which is nothing new, much like my poor proofreading skills).

Oh yeah, I didn't expect much today. I wanted to rig up the bathroom nearest to mine with a workable shower (it came with a bath, no shower, but for many reasons, I've grown weary of this). Once I was well into that project, I realized I needed to get the Christmas tree de-Christmasified and taken down (yes, artificial--it's a family tradition... my brother is allergic, I think).

I got the shower done, and just about the time I finished packing the tree into the box, I had company.

So: hooray! I got to play Bananagrams today, which is a crazy fun game for a word freak like me. I recommend it to all word freaks.

Also, I made some sugar cookies and made an insane trip out of the house to the grocery store. This was mostly due to the fact I have very little of substance to eat in my house right now. And I threw out my milk because it was wonky. Not sour. Wonky. That's a freakin' disgusting wonky, not a cute and bearable one. I don't know what was wrong with it, but it tasted like liquid wages of sin.

I finally get back home, my car full of important provisions, and I can't make it back to the garage. I actually get stuck.

Yes, ME! STUCK in snow! The audacity! Or something.

Luckily, I bought a shovel yesterday evening, thinking maybe Cody wouldn't be by to shovel snow today (and I don't know that I would have let him, once I felt how cold it was outside), but I might need my own shovel, and: ta-da! I did.

So I dug myself out. It didn't take long. I'm in until my driveway is cleared, however. Feel free to come visit. (Park on the street.)

Christmas is down, but not out. I mean the decorations are down, but they're not out of the house yet. They're not even out of the front room yet. I want to get some bubble wrap for my mugs and whatnot, and I'm not taking everything out to the shed until the snow is history. I think they'll be plenty safe in the sun room.

I just realized I haven't scheduled my surprise birthday party with people. I hope you guys are marking your calendars... it's on my actual birthday... my place. Time T.B.A., but it will be in the evening (7:00 or so). And DON'T TELL ME ABOUT IT! It's a SURPRISE!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Epiphany: It's All About Natural Consequences, Baby

Appropriately enough, today I had an epiphany, of sorts...

Over the past 30-odd hours, I've been thinking a lot about Brad and reading about his life after 1985, and reading very funny things he wrote and all of the amazing things he was a part of... and I realized while I'll never not feel awful about the way things went with us, I don't need any more punishment than the natural consequences: I didn't get to be his friend. I'll always have this Brad-shaped hole in my life (I was just commenting on someone's blog today how I often think of Brad when I read something he would have liked or see something he might have laughed about or gotten intrigued by), and it was of my own making. On the other hand, I'm sure Brad picked himself up, dusted himself off, and moved on ages ago. "So enough with the agonizing over what happened 25 years ago," I told myself.

So I hope I get to attend some part of the funeral arrangements, although I've not heard anything more about them at this time. I'm also hoping the weather will cooperate at least a little bit...

Speaking of weather--no school for the rest of the week. Strange. I don't know all the down-and-dirty reasons why it's called. I see people on facebook talking about what they've heard or what they think about it, but from my point of view I think it's not a bad thing--and I don't mean because I don't have to go to work. We have lots of kids who either don't have the sense or don't have the budget (or both) to dress warmly. We have lots of kids who are seeing themselves off to school in the morning. We have a lot of kids in both categories who ride a bus to school. I'd rather not have ANY kid standing out in that cold--properly dressed or not (but especially the not).

I hope each of you in the snowy parts of the world is staying warm, driving safely, and being the best person you know how to be. Actually, I'll go ahead and wish that last one for all of you.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Good-bye, Brad. I'm So Sorry.

A high-school friend sent me a message on facebook this afternoon to let me know Brad Graham had died. Now I'm wracking my brain trying to remember when I first met Brad.

I know it was in P.E.--we were both about equally into sports. I keep thinking that would make it my junior year and his freshman year, but that doesn't seem right. I think my high-school yearbooks are at school (or lost forever due to a fire I can't get enough of remembering), and I could check there--but it really seems like we were friends far longer than that.

Not only were we equally into sports (which is to say very little), but we were equally into all things of the geek: science fiction (with a lot of Doctor Who and Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy emphasis, but not all), books, computers, technology in general...

Not long after first meeting him, I started going over to hang out with him at his home--a total lack of most things geeky was just one of many reasons he never hung out at my home. We edited together our own radio show intro tapes (I bet I could find it in my box of tapes, if I had it in me to go look) with snips and clips of various recordings (including THHGTTG on album). We wrote scripts. Somewhere on a very old--probably no longer readable--giant floppy disk (okay, not GIANT, but huge enough) I have a copy of a movie project we put together when we were in the gifted program together (before I got kicked out for my lack of motivation in the regular classroom, that is). We thought up computer programs and did our best to make them a a reality using the computers available to us at the time.

Brad was the one who organized my friends into buying me my first computer mouse for my birthday my senior year.

We spoke the same geeky language. When I "borrowed" a piece of work to use as my own, he totally called me out on it, but not unkindly so. We worked on the yearbook together. We went to sci-fi conventions together--or went to at least one together. We were supposed to go to one my senior year, but I ended up backing out.

It was February of my senior year. I remember that much. I used to have the dates burned in my memory--and my brain can picture a calendar of awful events from February, 1985 that I once actually printed out. (Yes, people, I have always needed to organize things to try to make sense of them--even if the organization makes no sense to others).

I threw away what probably could have been one of the best friendships of my life. Maybe it would have tanked either way. Maybe we would have grown apart as I've grown apart from most of my other friends from those days, only to be brought back together with the advent of facebook--at which point one or both of us would be making that choice of "to friend or not to friend".

But who knows what would have happened. The point is I threw away a friendship. Worse, I'm too much of a coward to even delve into the details. Suffice it to say I "severed all ties" abruptly and just before we were supposed to go to a Doctor Who convention in St. Louis. I wish I could say there was some huge disagreement and we came down on opposing sides. I wish I could say he was trash-talkin' me in front of my peeps. No, it was all me, really. Me, dealing with my own crap... but still all me in the end.

Brad is that friend I would google on occasion--every 5 or 10 years or so--to see how he was doing (one of the first weblogs, credited with coining the term "blogsphere"), but I'm pretty sure was never brave enough to send him an e-mail. I never empty my send folder, so if I could get onto my last two computers, I could check to be sure--I'd at least feel a little better today if I knew I'd sent him an e-mail apologizing for being such an ass back in 1985.

The heart-breaker for me was pulling up his facebook page this afternoon, and seeing that "Add as friend" button. Something like an accusation, something like a really bad April Fool's Day joke, and something like an unsympathetic judge, it glared at me from the screen--accusing, laughing, punishing. And me without my time machine.

My sister-from-another-mister Lyndsey pointed out it might be wise to take the major lesson from this event and apply it to other areas of my life, and she's right.

We're only here for so long. Don't waste your relationships being stubborn or stupid or angry or bitter. And for pity's sake: make amends where you can. Mend fences, build bridges, and other constructiony things.

And make sure to remember to forgive yourself sometimes.

The Story That Got Away

There's a very uninteresting story as to why I'm up at this hour. I'm coming at the day from the wrong side of it--meaning I'm finally going to bed after I finish this bit up...

The up side: No school today. Maybe not the rest of the week, but I'll believe that when I receive the official phone call. The down side of that would be an extension of the school year, but whatever.

Anyway, I've been up for a pretty boring reason that I won't go into here. Suffice it to say I wasn't watching television or hanging on the facebook or any of my normal up-too-late-ed-ness-es.

I'm reading the next installment of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, not written by DNA. I don't know what I think of it yet. (And no, that's not what kept me up yet, either, I was making an attempt at a transition.)

I honestly had something I wanted to get said before I went to bed. Now I don't remember what it was. I hope it wasn't important. (Wrong blog for that, really...)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Really, I'm not trying to write a diary here...

I forgot to put my favorite part of my visit to Omaha: When I said, "I'm a big ol' homeowner," and my aunt Rachel cracked up laughing--and I had to explain to Cheryl what the joke was (Rachel thought I was going to stop before the -ner). Actually, there were lots of favorite parts to that short visit--Binx and his books, Cheryl and her stories of falling down, and so on.

Anyway, back to school tomorrow. Kids on Tuesday. Nobody seems to be voting on my poll over there on the right... well, nobody except for one person, last time I checked. I'm taking pictures, just in case (Jordan took the one yesterday), however.

In a couple of days, it'll be my 43rd Christmas Season down. It's always a bummer putting the stuff away, but the teacher in me (and the part of me that hates waking up to an alarm) just reminds me it means we're headed toward summer break.

I didn't make church this morning. While taking my shower, I realize I'm standing in water. Apparently there was some sort of freezing of the drain water while I was gone. So I spent the morning looking up solutions for that. You'd think this would turn me off of homeownership, but this is one area where my really bad living situation pays off: I'm just glad I'm fixing things on my own place, not one owned by someone else!

1.) Best Christmas Ever: I always say it was the year Santa somehow got to our house early while we were all out at Say's place. Mom and Dad (and maybe Say, even) spotted Rudolph flying way up in the sky, and tried to get us to see the moving red light, but we were too late... Someone (I think Say) suggested maybe Santa had already made it to the house, and sure enough, he had! This was the year I got this haunted house game that I wish I could remember the name of. I loved that game, but apparently not enough to keep it safe for years and years.

2.) Best Christmas Present Ever: Probably my Apple IIC. It was supposed to be a Christmas-Birthday-Christmas-Birthday-Christmas-Birthday present, but my sister Ruth will verify I ended up getting something for one of the subsequent Christmases or birthdays. She even knows what it was I got, I think.

3.) Best Part of This Christmas Season: I'd have to say having the family over for dinner. Sounds sappy, doesn't it? It was that or the game night with friends, but technically that was during Advent, not Christmas. Not that anybody seems to pay attention to the difference between the two...

Okay, so share your three! 1.) Best Christmas Ever, 2.) Best Christmas Present Ever, and 3.) Best Part of This Christmas Season!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Two Days In

Today was a very special day--unless I'm forgetting something, like an overnight stay somewhere since the end of April of last year: I woke up somewhere other than in my new home today... however, it was a nice hotel suite, so I was okay with it.

Compeltely failed to get with most of the Omaha family, but did see Carrie, Binx, Cheryl, and Aunt Rachel--I just need to schedule an actual weekend in Omaha or something--or convince Karen to host a big family get-together (which is my 2nd-favorite plan, the first being having it at my place, but I figure we'd get more of the Omaha crowd if we had it there) sometime over my spring break.

I got to Carrie's closer to 9:00 than 8:45, and Jordan was totally zonked out on the couch--but got together quickly enough when I said we had to go. Binx took my leaving with a nod and a wave, but was in tears over Jordan going. Note to self: spend less on his present next year.

After going to Rachel's for a morning visit of about 45 minutes or so (with Cheryl being there for most of the last 30 of those minutes), Jordan and I headed back to Kansas City. Jordan wasn't sure how it was I managed to stay awake and drive while listening to George Winston's December. I was going to offer to let her listen to any CD she wanted if she'd clean all the soot off all my Christmas CD cases, but then decided against it. It's my soot. I want to clean it.

Dropped Jordan off and saw Leslie and Matt for all of about two minutes--Leslie is under the weather, so she's having a great start to the new year.

Went to Ben & Tricia's from there, and arrived only 15 minutes into the party. Good news: Below-zero temperatures in Omaha (the Wii was in my trunk all night) didn't seem to make the Wii unusable for the party! Hooray!

On the contemplative side of things: You know, I usually feel pretty good about things I can remember from years ago, but when I sit down to think about individual Christmases or New Years or birthdays or whatnot, I start drawing blanks. I know that NYE 1985 (into 1986) I went to Quincy, IL to see the movie CLUE. And I'm pretty sure it was 1989 into 1990 that I spent NYE driving across the state after running lights for a show at the Unicorn. I suppose if I sat down with some time on my hands, I could come up with more. It just seems I don't remember as much as I used to. Maybe I only have so much space, and I'm having to start erasing files to make room for new ones, eh?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010!

I don't know if I'd say it's a resolution, but I've brought back "STILL: Life". I'm thinking about starting another photo blog called "365 (and some change) Days of ME!" This one would just have a different picture of me for each day--preferably taken by someone else, but if nobody e-mails me a photo from that day by midnight, I'll use one I took myself... if I decide to do it, that is. With school out I tend to get more ideas than I have time for...

As far as resolutions go, I have things I'd like to do, but won't go so far as to get all resolve-y about them. Maybe eat right, maybe exercise, maybe write more, maybe make it to church more regularly, maybe lots of things.

The holidays were fun, hope everyone else had a good time. I was explaining to a younger person that once you get a certain age, it isn't about the presents so much--or it better not be, if you want to avoid major disappointment! This year (2010) I may go a little crazy with the lights out front. I stayed a bit laid back for this current season.

So, in case I don't get you invited, I'm throwing a surprise birthday party for myself on my birthday. Shh! Don't tell me! It's a surprise. It'll be at my house, and everyone should get there close to the posted time, so someone can go get me (I'll go with them for this) and bring me home for that big "Surprise" moment. Don't you just LOVE surprise parties? Whatever. Mark your calendar.

Well, that's all there is to report. Go check out STILL: Life. The first picture is boring, but I'm in a hotel room in Omaha and hadn't taken any non-people pictures all day (wish I'd gotten the moon rising, but I was driving up I-29 at that time).