Queensryche questions your querulous quixotic quinoa


That’s the most ridiculous name I could come up with, a post-titling tactic I try to refrain from using.  On this particular Friday, however, my pool of creativity is too shallow for swimming.

I blame this dearth of creativity on the weather.  It’s an eerie evening: the tangible stillness that precedes a summer storm blends with a comfortable temperature to create a sensory void (can a void really be created?).  Rarely does one take note of the lack of outside stimulus, but the experience is so unique and unsettling that it is beyond me to adequately describe it.  To borrow from Carl Sagan, they should’ve sent a poet. Maybe one who’s never heard of Queensryche.

Cache in my chips

It looks like the time has come to upgrade at last.  Hrothgar, my trusty desktop for four long years, is on life support.  I now spend more time coaxing the computer to turn on than fulfilling my browsing habits.  This is an untenable situation.

Unfortunately, Hrothgar’s next of kin will set me back a pretty penny.  Normally I would be able to budget an expense of this magnitude easily, but bathroom renovation is expensive (even for do-it-yourself types).  So I have to make a few decisions I’d prefer not to make, such as ‘how fast does my computer really need to be?’ and ‘what can I cut back on to afford this?’.  The previous question is more difficult than the latter (in this case), but it makes me wonder whether or not this type of problem is becoming more common for the swath of humanity known vaguely as the middle class.

I’m quite fortunate that my budget is tightened by tangible luxuries, rather than the rising cost of (insert noun).  Others have much grimmer prospects, choosing between healthcare & transportation or the choice of Nintendo & Playstation 3.  The one common thread that I detect is the disheartening realization that we (in a generational sense) will not live as comfortably as our parents did.

This revelation is not the end of the world, but it certainly is a smack in the face.  From the time we can tie our shoes, we’ve been led to believe that hard work & a good education are as good as gold (maybe even better!).  With those two feathers in your cap, success is guaranteed*.

*Maybe I just didn’t read the fine print?

These days, hard-working well-educated Americans are defaulting on their mortgages and stealing gas.  Things have gotten so bad the the government is giving money away, hoping that people will spend it on something (rather than save or pay off debt).  There are a million (plus or minus) reasons why this has happened.  Since the effects are so much easier to pin down, I’ll stay away from the causes for now.

An especially perverse effect is the shrinkage of the middle class.  By my own definition, the middle class must possess the financial wherewithal to purchase the things they want without depriving themselves of the things they need.  People who once lived at the fringes of this definition have now descended into the lower class, which provides only for the things needs or deems necessary (like expanded cable).

Where do I fall?  I’m likely still in the middle class, but ostensibly because of my lifestyle (some optimistically call it voluntary simplicity), not because of my salary. I sometimes imagine my life lived as a typical suburban existence- I’d drive more, get cable, have a gas mower, a new(ish) home to live in, etc.  All of those things add up to an obscene amount, which increases much more frequently than salaries do.  I don’t think I could afford that life, and I’d slip into the lower class as well.

So what’s the solution?  There isn’t one.  Things are looking shitty, and they might get shittier.  The good news is that this country survived one Depression (did they call it a recession at that time, too?), and it made us resourceful in tough times.  Can we do it again?

First thing off the shopping list…..$300 F@#$()@! for Microsoft Office.

Bon Anniversaire

May 2005 05124 years ago on this day, I was introduced to my parents.  After two dozen years of adventures (and misadventures), I have few regrets and many people who love me.  I can only hope the next 24 years will be as blessed as the previous.

Mayhem flowers

In at least one regard, my life hasn’t changed at all since childhood: this was a long, tedious week.  More than a few summers ago, this particular week of the year was the longest of them all; the conclusion of a year-long wait for my birthday.  From a kid’s perspective, waiting for a birthday is on par with waiting to see Halley’s Comet, both in terms of importance and frequency.  This week was the hardest to endure.

Nowadays, I’m all growed up, and this week has improved little.  Bathroom renovation continues to create ripples in our pool of domestic bliss.  The Liberry has been wearing on me.  Birthday anticipation is replaced by birthday angst.  My pockets are too empty to escape any of these problems via travel.

Of these, only the Liberry truly bothers me.  I’ve been fortunate enough to like my work and those I work with nearly all the time.  As is so often the case, one person in particular has poisoned me against the Liberry.  This is the sort of person who displays a stunning lack of professionality by perverting typical work-related problems (in this instance, caused by willful ignorance) into a personal vendetta, fueled by a petty-tyrant mindset.

It’s the kind of thing that makes you want to quit without a moment of hesitation, and laugh giddily as the bridge burns.  Though very satisfying, this is probably an imprudent choice.

So I ask myself how to deal with such people, and what defines my character.  That is, what makes you a stronger person: the ability to deflect personal attacks, or the determination to defend yourself against them?  Common sense dictates that one should acquiesce (especially at work) and put it out of mind.  The greater virtue lies is letting personal attacks glance off without even batting a lash.  Normally I prefer this approach, but the strength of my conviction that I’m being mistreated (by someone who ought to know better) drives me to ignore virtue and return fire.

Then my conscience interjects: doesn’t that make you as bad as your opponent? Yes, it probably does.  Making an issue  out of it has several possible outcomes:

  • The jack*ss backs down and leaves you alone
  • They feel validated by having so incensed you and keep it up
  • Your boss writes a report about it, whose only consequence is making a file cabinet more crowded

No matter how you approach it, you’ll lose face for making an issue out of it.  Will you get that face back after a showdown?  Or does the winner keep the loser’s face (in a jar, perhaps)?

Since there are too many variables to produce a reliable likely outcome, I think I’ll go with the safe bet: merciless office pranking.  It’s a bullet-proof method of annoying and undermining your coworkers without the slightest risk.  That should make next week extra fun, and just in time for my birthday.

An utter travelsty

I was chatting with someone (let’s call her Mrs. F) the other day about my need to travel again.  It’s been quite  awhile since I’ve had a lengthy trip, and I crave new experiences.  Mrs. F was stunned.  She reminded me that I have a house and many responsibilities now, and that the time for gallavanting around the world is past.  Now it’s my turn to be stunned.

At my ripe old age of 23.99, I’m expected foreswear any more aimless wanderings in terra incognita and instead pursue a more sensible 3-day weekend in the greater St. Louis area every now and then.  Blasphemy!

I’ve held the same job for nearly 4 years and successfully balanced career & travel.  Of course the Liberry is very forgiving in this respect; not just for myself, either.  Other senior staff members have left for a few weeks here or there, and the Liberry manages to keep its doors open.  Are other institutions so forgiving?  Perhaps not.  It’s a shame that our society is so miserly with vacation time- Germans, for instance, are guaranteed 1 month of vacation per year for the whole family.  However, I believe that the sort of place I’d like to work is ipso facto the very same that is flexible with employee vacation time.  If they told me I would get only 2 weeks and no flexibility (that is, I can leave when I want to), I would seek employment elsewhere.

Is this unrealistic?  Not at all.  *Employers, this section is for you* It is a principled choice to treat employees respectfully and to keep them happy, within reason.  The peripheral effects of such a policy include higher employee retention, lower stress and higher productivity.  Sound too good to be true?  Hardly.  I see it (and live it) firsthand at the Liberry.  People come back from long vacations with great attitudes, and those they left behind might just be glad to have a break from them, too.

As for my maison, we’ve got enough friends in the area to take care of the kitties and plants for months, if need be.  This time of year, the house itself is largely self-regulating, save emptying the de-humidifier (which in turn waters the plants).

So that’s that.  As long as I can afford it (maybe I should travel to the middle east and smuggle oil to pay for the trip) I’ll keep a’ ramblin’, no matter what.

Im Garten 2008

This is the second Spring I’ve seen in this house, but it’s the first time I feel like I’ve got a shot at a proper garden.  After a month of rain that would make Seattle weather look like a faucet drip, the time has come to get my hands dirty.  Printed here for your enjoyment, the list of what’s growing im Garten:

The comeback kids

There are a surprising number of volunteer plants, come back for another season.

  • Lily of the Valley – poisonous to critters, but smell heavenly.
  • Aster – we completely cut these down last year, but they’re back en masse.
  • Knockout Roses – There are at least 800 rosebuds on two plants.  Eye candy.
  • Cannas – Tropical flowers that you’re supposed to dig up during winter.  Oops.
  • Strawberries – No fruit last year, but there are several blossoms this year.
  • Woolly Thyme – Not only did it survive the Winter, it is healthier than ever.
  • Rosemary – This was a close call.  It looked damn near dead, but decided to green up again.
  • Corsican Mint – This scrubby character was supposed to be an annual.  Smells nice when rubbed.
  • Sweet Pepper – Might be a seed from the compost pile.  We’ll never know.

The Regulars

  • Roma/Beefsteak Tomatoes – How would we live without them.
  • Sweet Basil – I have to resist using every leaf on the plant before it has a chance to grow.
  • Japanese Eggplant – I’m working on a surface-to-rabbit missle system to protect this guy.
  • Red/Yellow/Orange Pepper – Ditto the missle defense system.
  • Oregano – Plays nice with the basil.
  • Chives – I don’t use them all that often, but they’re pretty plants nonetheless.
  • Catnip – Good for sending the cats to Mars.  Also drives away pests.


  • Runner Beans – My first try at growing beans, plus it gives us some privacy.
  • Edamame – These little soybeans + soy sauce= deliciousness.
  • Blackberries – I like the fruit.  I love the thorns (read: annoying neighborhood children).
  • Spirea – Some nice color for in front of the house.
  • Phlox – To stop erosion around the patio.

View all of the photos of the garden here.