Friday, October 28, 2011

mouth-lookers, rant topics, and cluelessness

I was talking with someone the other day and while I was talking this person looked at my mouth. The whole time. Every time I spoke.

Freaked me out a little.


Sometimes, when I'm in the car or otherwise alone, I like to give a verbal smackdown to everybody I know who deserves it. My commute is about 45 minutes, so there's plenty of room for quite a number of topics.

Another rant is on the near horizon, I can just feel it. Topics (right of this moment) to include are: headaches, that idiot driver, upper management, and political knuckleheads.

If you would like anyone or thing in particular to be part of the next smackdown, feel free to leave a description in the comments. THere is no charge for this service, I simply do it because I care.


And now a word or two from someone who has potential to be perhaps the least-informed about what this blog is all about (transcript of actual email received):


Apologies for contacting you out of the blue like this however I recently came across your website via the Publishing Network and absolutely love it.

I’m currently working on behalf of a number of large, online retailers who are looking increase their on-line web exposure and would like to supply you with a piece of content tailored for your sites audience.

This piece of content will be useful and offer value to your subscribers and if you have any particular topic you’d like covering we can cater for this too as our team of content writers fully research and write informative articles based on pretty much any subject. All that we ask is that you allow us to include a couple of links back to my clients website, that’s it.

If this is something you’d be interested in then please reply back to me with your website or a list of websites you own and we can discuss this further. If you’re not interested than I thank you for taking the time to read this email and wish you all the best and keep up with the awesome site you own.

Kind regards,
Somewhat clueless

Dear SC -

First, I'm flattered that you LOVE my AWESOME site that I OWN. Does make the ol' heart swell with pride to have so many accolades heaped upon me.

Second, might I recommend a good proofreader? Found some things in your message (I bolded them in case you're interested) that you'd do well to fix if you plan to send it out to any more awesome bloggers. Things like grammar and punctuation are important to many of us.

Third, you've no doubt notices that my site is not monetized in any way and that I have a following that wouldn't full a bus. There'd really be nothing in this site for your clients, no matter how focused and germane their content writing might be. Seriously, have you looked at my stats? If they represented a spider, that spider would be one of those tiny ones that you don't want to get in your hair because you can't feel it or find it. Tarantula, NAY ain't.

So,thanks but no thanks to your kind offer of assistance (and back-linking) to my AWESOME blog. We'll just leave it the tiny-spider backwater of the internet that it's always been.



(pic o' the day courtesy of this site. You should go, look at the background for this pic's page, and be prepared to have nightmares.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

postprandial perturbations and WINNING!

Like most of you reading this, I am an adult. Unlike some of you young-uns, I have reached a nearly-august number of years, amassing experiences (forgetting most of them, sadly), friendships, and lessons along the way.

Usually, I'm pretty good at learning things the first or second time they're taught.

There's one lesson though that I keep having to relearn - the dreaded 'how to eat when you work in a cube farm' lesson. And not just HOW, but when, and what.

It's harder than you think. Just look at all this stuff you have to keep in mind if you're to do it properly!

HOW - quietly.

WHEN - you're hungry. Preferably when other people are eating, so your mouth noises are masked somewhat by the masticatory efforts of those around you. You might not be eating together, but you are eating with them. It's all about community, baby.

WHAT - Low-smell, low-side-effect foods are absolutely KEY. If you have stinky food, take it to the cafeteria. Salads and bland cold cuts are fine. Cauliflower and garlic bisque, nice and hot, is not. Chili is OK, because everyone likes chili, but whatever that is you just brought back from the microwave that smells like boiled tires and look about as appetizing? No. Also, bear in mind that after you've eaten, your innards are going to be active, so don't gulp your food, chew thoughtfully so to lessen the churning, and keep the liquid intake low so that you're not sloshing while digesting.

These should all be common sense, right? A little 'love your neighbor as yourself' goes a long way when you're breathing the same air.

Which, of course, is why I just downed a cup of chili, a nice big green salad, and a huge glass of water. Let's now deconstruct the ways in which I've broken the 'how to eat in a cube farm' rules, shall we?

Lunch at 11:30 - not many other people eating right then. Also, not too much in the way of collegial banter being tossed around. 'Cover noise' therefore low.

Chili - fragrant, so breaks the 'stinky' rule but not by much (see previous 'everyone loves chili' factoid). Real downside is the beany fiber goodness that's sure to get the gut a 'churning in a little while.

Salad - stupidly crunchy, so breaks the 'low noise' rule. Also, more fiber. I feel like I should start apologizing to my workmates now, but wait, it gets better!

500 mL water - currently, if I were to jump up and down, I'd sound like an anchored Criscraft on Lake Michigan. Little waves of liquid lapping up, burbling, bubbling, sloshing and slapping. All that water doing its thing, hydrating and mixing, heaving around in peristalic glee. That, combined with the beans and the greens will no doubt cause me many a moment of embarrassment in an hour or so, when people get back to work, the chit-chat fades, and the gentle sounds of my intestinal action permeate the air in ever-more-worryingly urgent tones.

All because I'm a doofus and ate and drank what I wanted instead of what it would be nice for my coworkers to have me eat. You know, something like a piece of melba toast (no wait, too crunchy) or a can of tuna (too stinky!) or maybe just a nice bag of parenteral nutrition. Quiet, non-stinky, parenteral nutrition, fed through an IV line, no chewing involved, no cooking, no stink, and no borbyrigmous efflux as an after-effect.

I'll have to look into that. Wonder how much a bag-o-nutrients costs, and if one of the nurses in the safety group mind hooking a sistah up around noon every day?

Could catch on, you never know.


I won something from Lisa. So it's a good day.


Oh, and I have declared that it's 'go bug a lapsed blogger' day today. You can pick from almost any one of the blogs on my sidebar there, click through, and leave a nice long comment on a blog post that's 1) the most recent and 2) at least a month old. Tell 'em I sent you and I'm sick and TIRED of looking at the same post and they'd best get their fannies and fingers in gear and post something dang soon.

I'd be grateful if you would.

Tiff out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Roaming gangs of hooligans

A beautiful day is turning into the perfect fall night. Temps are dropping, the air is crisping, the football team is playing, and bands of young men are wandering our neighborhood shouting and being generally rambunctious.

Now, I'm all for the rambunctious, but these fellows are like those dudes who show up at 8:30 on Hallowe'en night with NO costume and a look on their faces that say 'gimme ALL the candy and nobody gets hurt.' You know the type. A little thuggy, I suppose. I'm not a real huge fan of the thuggy.

What makes the gang of young men a little more concerning is that they've been through the neighborhood a few times now. OK, so our neighborhood is kind of cute, but I'm pretty sure the young men aren't admiring the architecture, unless such admiration is normally accompanied by lots of cussing. Is it? If so, I've been doing it all wrong.

So there's that. Which is why I'll be picking up Thing 1 at school after the football game is over. Yes, I'm an overprotective Mom, I GET THAT. Just hush up. I can so be overprotective if I want to. Do you know how big a challenge it is to let him go to the game ALONE? Sheesh. Baby steps, people. Can't let the Big Bad Thugs get my boy.

(as though I, a firmly middle-aged, chubby, out-of-shape woman could do ANYTHING with thugs except give them the verbal smackdown of their lives. But hoo boy, would I try.

While looking for a stout branch to wave around. Or flicking a lighter menacingly.

I really have no idea what to do with thugs, is what I guess I'm saying)


Had a weird experience 3 times today. I was at the kitchen table, being rather productive and using what small dab of focus I had within my powers, and 3 times random phrases popped into my head like they were being spoken to me.

It would have been great if they'd been this week's winning lottery numbers, but no. Nothing that insightful. More like 'peanut butter wasp wings' and 'delicious affirmation bottletop.'

Where's the sense in THAT? What am I supposed to do with that kind of information? It's as stupid and useless as the time I saw a temporary license plate with the numbers 18234458 and started singing them (all notes fit on an octave, if you want to try this at home). And then I couldn't stop playing with those notes, like if I did them just right something great would happen and maybe I'd lose 30 pounds overnight or suddenly find a few thousand extra dollars in my bank account. The notes! They HAUNTED ME!

And these weird snips of phrases do too. Why such nonsense? What neurons misfired to make that happen?

It should come to you as no surprise that this is not the first time something like this has happened.

But we won't go into that right now.


Hey - Y'all have your Hallowe'en decorations up yet, or are you shooting straight to Christmas like the retail facilities?

We have yet to hang the giant spider, shop for pumpkins, carve our jack-o-lanterns, or otherwise festive up the place. This is the first time in 4 years we're not planning some party or another, and the time and pressure to perform just sort of sauntered off, dozily nodding at neighbors and wishing for a Cheerwine.

But I don't think it's too late to get in the haunted mood, do you? There's plenty of time to spook up the joint and visit haunted corn mazes (or whatever) and bake something delicious and horrifying.

John Wayne Gacy cookies, maybe! Or witch fingers! Slimy-gut spiders (bread bowls with spinach dip in...)!

Your ideas for utterly horrifying yet delicious holiday fare are welcome in the comments. And ALSO = feel free to answer any of the other queries posted in this question-heavy missive.

Then have a lovely weekend. Tiff out.

(***image courtesy HERE. I'm as amazed as you are that a GIS for 'thug spider' turned up anything, let along something s awesome as this costume idea***)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

sometimes it's enough to make music

Our boys were in a band concert tonight.

Thing 1, the junior, is in Wind Ensemble, the 'higher' of the 2 HS bands. Thing 2, as a freshman, is in Concert Band. They both play trombone.

Tonight, as it has happened for many of their performances, I got chills listening to what they are a part of. It's lovely to hear them grow as musicians, and I celebrate each step they take on that journey. Chills are mostly a pride thing on their behalf.

Tonight though, kicked the chills up a notch. Something had changed in what they were a part of. That something caused distinct moments of such musical beauty that I was hard-pressed to think of those kids in the bands as mere teenagers playing instruments, but had to admit that at some points they and their bandmates were actually practicing the elusive art of musicianship. Nuance, tonality, tuning, phrasing, all were in evidence and sometimes masterfully done.

Seems their new band director is teaching them to play MUSIC instead of just notes, and it shows.

Happy happy joy joy, to experience these 2 young men be part of something bigger than them that produces a 'something' many people can enjoy. The transport back to my playing days was swift, and for a moment I was jealous of them and their connection with a group of like-minded people doing one thing all together to make art.

Back in the day, when I was an active musician, a moment of perfection while playing was capable of sending me, however briefly, into a wonderful fugue state of absentia from my body, when the body played and I could enjoy what 'we' were doing while it was happening. Sounds odd, doesn't it? Felt odd as well, but as time went on and the music and I became more accustomed to one another, the moments came more frequently, though always too briefly. A measure there, a few beats here, would slip past in a moment while body and mind and breath worked together to be one with the group in pursuit of music. Always stunning, always a goal and always a happy accident.

My hope is that the Things will have those moments aplenty as they are engaged in the pursuit of music, and that they can take those moments and encase them in a memory, clear and distinct, of what it's like to be one with many in performance of a true pure thing. There is nothing like it in this world, and I won't have anyone arguing otherwise.

But hey, maybe that's just me. I might be the only one captivated by mere seconds of time in which perfection seemed to be the very air I breathed. Could be I'm just prone to hallucinations, but I hope not. I ask you then - if you ever were, where were you when you caught the tail wind of a beautiful moment and captured it in memory?

Curious minds want to know...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What's all this rubbish then?

Clicked into the Blogger dashboard this morning (first time in a week, I know...) and apparently now it's possible to allow your readers to have a more interactive experience by utilizing something called 'dynamic views.'

True to my ever-strengthening Luddite nature, I didn't do any more than glance at this new offering before I closed out the pop-up window while grumbling about how this is MY blog and you'll look at it how I want and not allow you all to go willy-nilly though its bits and bobs, picking from here and there as you choose. I like y'all, Lord knows I do, but you can't be trusted to pick the right picture to go with what you're reading, and goodness knows what would happen if you get to reading things all in the wrong order!

Dynamic views, my liver spots. There will be none of that foolishness around here. I'm still getting used to the new Facebook look, for heaven's sake.


Did you know that my dear Thing 1 turned 16 earlier this week?


I was going to write a super-mushy post about how great he is and how I'm so happy to be his mom and how he changed my life with his arrival and how long we waited for him, etc etc blahblah, but then I got tired and didn't. And then did something that kept me busy. And then read Fark for a while and played about a million games of Bejeweled Blitz and time just slipped away from me like an oiled toddler.

So, this is the part of the post where I say that I'm the proud mom of a 16-year old now. My baby, gettin' so grown up.


Is anyone else out there really ready for it to be the middle of October?

I am so NOT.

Wasn't it the beginning of September a week ago or so?

The sun goes down far too early and rises far too late. The mums are blooming like crazy in the garden out front, flopping around on their leggy stalks (despite my strict adherence to a pruning program!) and the weeping willow is shedding leaves at an astounding rate.

There's not been a frost, yet, but the other night is was down in the 40's. The windows have been open for days (except for that muggy spell yesterday afternoon). The folks at work have turned on their space heaters.

Yes all the signs of it being the middle of October are here, so clearly it's appropriate for it to BE the middle of October, but I am not ready for it.

There are no grinning pumpkins on our front porch, no scary spider decorations hanging. There are no decorative gourds bedecking the kitchen table, nor are there plans for Hallowe'en costumes. There aren't corn stalks tied to the porch posts or scarecrows amidst the mums.

The only thing I HAVE done that's sort-of October-ish to to put a gallon of apple cider in the basket at the BJs last weekend. Pathetic, ain't it?

So, yeah. I'm fighting October, and it's kicking my butt. That lil' punkin over there looks about like I feel half the time, and if thought balloons were real that's what you'd see hovering above my head. Only it'd be gnashing its goopy green teeth and rolling its streaming eyes while expelling semi-rotten pumpkin breath in a hissing scream.

Because that is how I roll, is why.


Got to dash - work awaits. Have a good one!

Tiff out.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Webcams and a sad bit

Recently I opened up a new email account for professional contacts and such. Like all iGoogle accounts, this one has the potential to be personalized. You can chose from thousands of gadgets and widgets to plop onto your home page, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Because I have the news and how-tos of the day and weather on my other email, this new one got some fun stuff on it just to change things up. My favorite so far is the Worldwide Webcam feed.

I love the Worldwide Webcam feed. It changes every minute or so, and is about as random as you can get. One minute it’s projecting the utter blackness of a Figiian night, the next minute you could be getting an awesome shot of the Idaho mountains or be staring directly at a piece of sidewalk in Ann Arbor (both of which just happened). There’s a webcam hooked up in some hubcap shop in Tampa, one in Belgrade showing a gorgeous cathedral, there are TONS from Japan but normally they don’t look like much when I’m online (it’s night there!).

A nice feature of the WWWC is that you don’t have to wait to get your next taste of the world. Nope – just click the ‘next,’ wait a sec, and BINGO – you’re someplace new! Yay!

Now, it might be that I’m really easily amused, but you do have to admit that the WWWC roulette does have a certain addictive charm, no? It could be that one day that hubcap shop will show up again (I’ve seen it 3 times so far!) and someone will be buying something! Or maybe there will be a wedding at the cathedral, or one of the Japancams will catch a suited businessman waiting patiently for the last train home. At some point a little personal slice of life will present itself, like maybe that soccer field in Wendago NY will have a game on it, or that little airport in Idaho will have a plane landing, or that slab of concrete in MI will be occupied by a little kid drawing with chalk.

It’s a fun little diversion; a wee vacation away from the cube to exotic (HUBCAP SHOP!) locations, one minute at a time.


For those of you who do not do the FB and so would not have seen my announcement of 2 days ago, some sad news: Skeeter the dog has passed on.

Those bone spurs on her spine or whatever it was that was making her almost completely lame in the back legs got worse and worse until she just didn’t want to get up most of the time. Even with tramadol and prednisone she was still uncomfortable. She’d have bursts of energy, and on Monday was doing well enough to stand up on her own (a huge improvement!), but by Tuesday morning she was down again and looking bad.

By Tuesday afternoon she was gone. Thing 2 found her by the back door, exactly where she plopped down after going out that morning. It was clear she hadn't moved more than a few inches all day. The food I put down for her that morning was still untouched, and she'd not even had any water. After 12.5 years of living, it just got too much to do. I think she may have just laid down to die.

The most sad part to me is that she died alone. The least sad part is she did it on her own time, and spared us a very painful decision that neither of us wanted to make. Those bursts of energy were providing touches of hope, perhaps too much.

We took her out to the back porch, resting her on her doggie bed, in preparation for the boys and my ex to come and say their ‘goodbyes.’ After that, we (mostly Biff) dug a big ol’ hole in the backyard, wrapped her in an old sheet, placed a tennis ball (her favorite toy ever) near her head, and buried her. In true Viking fashion we then had a bonfire, sitting mostly in silence watching the flames and enjoying the crackle of burning pine.

Tonight I plan to dig a slightly smaller hole next to her spot and plant the maple tree Thing 2 and I bought Tuesday afternoon while running made-up errands to avoid being in the house with her. That maple tree will be a nice spot to go sit someday, to think and relax and maybe have a chat with an old friend who is lying several feet underground.

Good girl, Skeeter. Good girl.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

In which I need your input.

Over a week now since the last post. Starting to see auras and mirages. Can feel the creativity backing up in my head and distorting my vision. Hearing's gone wonky, with small voices whispering 'write, write, write' (or 'right, right, right,' I suppose). Can't think clearly, the thirst for an outlet is becoming all I can think of. Won't be long now before I lose what's left of my mind...


Clearly I’m out of the habit of writing here anymore.

I started this blog almost 6 years ago, thinking I’d have about a year’s run before the stream of consciousness ran dry. Well, add 5 years to that and it seems like we are at last out of Things to Write About That Aren’t Terribly Boring.

The well seems to be running dry because all I tap into lately is the daily life stuff. I don’t have the power of observational wit like some, and haven’t gone and changed my life radically like others, and don’t have a one-topic blog like so many others (which allows them room to repeat themes over and over because, well, that’s what you do when you’re a topical blogger). It’s just me, and Biff, and the Things, and the pets, and the house and the jobandtheeverythingyoualreadyknowabout.

Which, sometimes, is not so exciting as you might think.

Lately though, and I blame this on the advent of cooler weather, thoughts of fiction have been bubbling up inside, splashing about phrases and ideas and I think ‘a-ha! A thing to write about!’ but I don’t. I then blame THIS lack of alacrity on the whole “networked blogs" thing on Facebook, that pushes each post here to everyone I know there. Some of those people might really really not want to read everything that goes on in my head, and some might be downright shocked. Perhaps I care too deeply...

Signing up for NetworkedBlogs seemed like a good idea at the time, but more and more I’m thinking it would be nice for people to come to me instead of me advertising to them. Shoot, all y’all who still read and comment here do it mostly (as far as I can tell) on your own accord and don’t rely on FB to wave things in front of your noses, so why should I be trepidatious about pulling the Networked blogs? I mean, seriously, if it frees me up from my recent habit of writing to meet (or at least not really offend) people’s expectations of who they think I am, then I’m thinking that’s the way to go. Because, I miss the pre-2010-ish Tiff. I’d love to write some really creepy-ass fiction, or spout off on topics both arcane and odd, but this FB thing….I don’t know. The question really is: Is knowing I'm writing for a potential audience of everyone I know on FB making me a more considerate writer, a more careful picker of topics, or is it strangling me here in my dusty corner of the internets?

At this point I’m going for strangle.

So, with the strangling comes a decision*: 1) keep NAY a NetworkedBlog and allow it to post the family-friendly mostly unoffensive stuff to FB AND have a secret-er blog where the ‘good stuff’ (creepy, dark, more adult, mind-bending) goes, or 2) just shut off Networked Blogs and switch NAY back over to its old ‘it’s on my mind so I’m sharing with YOU’ format?

I know which one I prefer – what about you?

(*you'll note there's no option for 'don't write the weird stuff.' If you know me at all you'll know why.)