Month: November 2006 Page 2 of 4


This is petty. I realize this.

I went to Panera Bread yesterday to do some writing (out of work early), and this really annoying guy was working at the bakery counter. Luckily, he didn’t take my order.

For example, this older gent walks up to the counter with an older lady, pretty obviously his wife. His wife starts talking to the other girl at the counter, ordering food. This guy yells, “Are you looking at anything in particular?!?” because all older people are mostly deaf (in case you didn’t know that). The older gent says, “Just wishing.” The guy yells–yells–“Wishes can become reality!!!”* The older guy shrugs, and says something about being on a special diet. Without pause, the guy turns to the next people in line, who are actually just coming through the door, “Can I help you?!?”

A parody of great customer service.

I’ve seen this guy before, I swear I have. When I worked at Wells Fargo, there was a guy at the north Panera Bread store that was always there in the mornings. He had this bright, annoying voice, a romanesque haircut, a tic with his hands, and it was pretty obvious the other employees hated him.

When I first heard this guy at the Powers Panera open his mouth, I knew it was the same guy. Same voice, same attitude, same tic with his hands. But his HAIR was different! It looked like a wig–imagine an Elvis hairdo, levitated by additional, teased hair, to a full inch over skull height! It wasn’t extra highs and swoops–no, the whole thing was an inch straight up. The sides were flat against his skull, too.

I couldn’t help it. I had to laugh. I’m sure it wasn’t the case, but I kept thinking it: Shhhh…he’s in disguise!

* Some people speak in multiple punctuation marks. Really.

Variable Star

By Robert A. Heinlein and Spider Robinson.

It’s hard to judge a book like this–a plot written by the late Heinlein (it’s definitely a Heinlein plot…oh, it’s a Heinlein plot), but the story was actually written by Spider Robinson, a man who much admired Heinlein, but who has entirely different sensibilities. He wasn’t instructed to write a Heinlein book, either–just to write the best Spider Robinson novel he could, using the Heinlein plot as a skeleton.

It’s like watching a medium really channel a ghost. Fake mediums convince us with the absolute unquestionability of the verisimilitude of the spirit whose messages they carry back to the world of the living. A real medium would act, I imagine, more like Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost, speaking in his or her own voice, telling the ghost to shutupshutupshutup all right already, what he wants you to know is that… Kind of spooky in places, actually, when you can tell that Spider would rather be doing anything with the plot but what Heinlein’s spirit is forcing him to do…

I enjoyed it, but it’s hard to give unequivocal praise to a book that doesn’t wholly live its own life, but lurches around possessed at times. If you don’t like Heinlein or Spider, don’t read this book; if you don’t like both Heinlein and Spider, don’t read this book. If you aren’t prepared for a few ectoplasmic floops here and there, don’t read this book. If you’re in a mood to drink up the essence of a dead guy, celebrated by someone who doesn’t always agree with him, please do. I kept thinking of Spider, boiling up the ashes of Heinlein, knocking him back: “Needs salt.”


Ray’s totally into Scooby Doo right now. We watched Scooby Doo: Where’s My Mummy? tonight. There’s a part where Fred is trying to put himself in Scooby and Shaggy’s places in order to figure out where they might be, and mimics their voices.

So imagine my amusement when I was watching the credits, and the same actor, Frank Welker, was listed as both “Fred” and “Scooby Doo.”

Jeez. This guy’s as versatile as Mel Blanc:

Dinky Dog
Dynomutt the Dog Wonder
Hefty Smurf
Iceman (from the Spiderman cartoon)
Uni and Tiamat (from Dungeons and Dragons)
Scooter (from Go-Bots)
Pretty much the majority of the characters on Transformers
The Gremlins
Slimer (from the Ghostbusters cartoon)
Abu (Aladdin)
Curious George…

I got tired of typing, so I end with a quote:

“The best letter I ever got (and I have had lots of mail) was from a little girl back east who invited me (AKA “Hefty Smurf”) along with Papa Smurf and Smurfette, to have tea with her in the forest.”


You know the part of the novel when you’re done with the beginning and just beginning the middle? I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I have finally passed it, and I only have another six thousand words to do tomorrow before I’m caught up again. For now.


Veteran’s Day

Ray and I went to the Veteran’s Day parade this morning…

Last night, we went to a Chinese buffet. Lee was working late, and I figured I could get some writing done at the mall while Ray played at the playground, so I offered up mall plus supper at anywhere Ray wanted to go. (I was expecting McDonalds, which I would otherwise boycott, but she decided she’d wait until she was going out somewhere with Dad. My angel.) While we were there, we sat next to a family with a girl named “Katie” and a mom named “Betsy” (my two sisters’ names), and with Ray leading the conversation, I found out about the parade. Katie announced that if we were going to the parade, we had to stand outside of Starbucks, because they have coffee. Katie’s in seventh grade.

So, when Ray woke up just before eight thirty this morning, and I remembered about the parade, we rushed off downtown and made it just in time. We walked up the street toward the headwaters, stopping, incidentally, about half a block away from the judges (and cannon), in front of Starbucks.

Cannon…a family next to us (Mom, Dad, Grandma, little girl with a big red bow, no hat or gloves, and a miniature folding lawn chair) whipped out their earplugs. “They’re going to fire it! Here comes the marshall! Put your ear plugs in! Hurry!” But it wasn’t that loud, and resonated in the lungs more than the eardrums, due to the fact that it wasn’t facing us directly and had to echo off the windows across the street before it hit us. Those windows shook.

The guys in the front on horses managed to control the horses when the cannon went off, but it was close. We saw all kinds of vets, representatives from the different divisions in town (AF, Army), ROTC and JROTC groups, high school marching bands, and more Girl/Boy scouts than you can shake a stick at. Many old cars, including one with an aaaaoooooogaaaaaah horn. Someone gave us a flag; we lost it; someone else gave us another one.

Eventually, we went into the Starbucks for hot chocolate. Ray’s nose was an icicle, so we grabbed a table at the window (why there was nobody else there, I’ll never know) and watch another fifteen minutes or so. After deciding we were ready to brave the cold again, we went outside, changed our minds, and followed the parade route back to the car. Brrrrrrr…..

One of the last floats we saw before we left was the MDA float, a trailer with a curve of the earth and a few space-thingies floating over top. “That’s where I work,” I said. “Oooohhhhh…” Ray said. She walked down the street and told the next few people she saw that her mom worked at that place (point).


I forgot. There was a bagpipe marching band. Kilts. Nice.

Morals and Ethics

Sorry. Philsophical day.

I am vehemently against adult human beings following a moral system over an ethical one. The reason the 10 Athetistic Commandments bother me so much is that they outline yet another moral system, in place of an ethical one, with the very people you’d hope would reject morals. You could take them as a parody…but they don’t come across as a joke.

Most people accept “morals” and “ethics” as being the same thing. They’re not. I’m going to use biblical examples here, but that’s what I’m familiar with.

Morality is a system of right and wrong, in which one follows given rules. The result of following a given rule is reward; the result of not following a given rule is punishment. The 10 Commandments and the Old Testament outline a moral system. “Thou Shalt.” If someone doesn’t follow the instructions contained in the Old Testament, various punishments are outlined; also, the stories illustrate what happens when someone doesn’t do what God wants, and the result is never good.

Ethics is a system of good and bad (like Ray’s preschool–good choice, bad choice), in which one espouses principals. The result of following a principal is the same as the result of not following a principal–whatever happens, happens. The Golden Rule and the New Testament outline an ethical system. “Treat everyone as you want to be treated.” If someone doesn’t follow the instructions, Christ points out that they’ll never know God. Hell isn’t mentioned, and Heaven isn’t a place of reward–it’s just “knowing God.” They do throw in “life everlasting,” but I hope you see the point.

The difference between the two systems is that with Morality, one’s responsibility is limited to following rules. Whether or not the rules accomplish what needs to be accomplished is not under question, and, in fact, must never come under question. With Ethics, one is responsible for the consequences of one’s actions, regardless of intent or even the supposed worthiness of the principal you follow. Suppose you come across someone who does not want to be treated the way you would want to be treated: you still have to live with the consequences. Maybe next time, you’ll ask first.

This is not to say people who follow the 10 Commandments (either in the Book religions or the Atheistic version) do not take responsibility for their actions or that people who practice the Golden Rule always do; only that the systems themselves push for certain types of behavior and contain different assumptions. Morality assumes you follow instructions; Ethics assumes you’re guided by a principal. Children follow instructions; adults should learn to make up their own minds and accept the consequences of their actions, all the way through. Mistakes will be made. “We are all sinners.” This is something you live with–unless you truly follow a moral system, in which case you find a way to punish yourself or make yourself outcast from your group (or find a Judas goat).

Fishing for Children

Find a good spot in the mezzanine area over the play place at the mall. Bring one laser pointer.

“We have to catch the ruby spot! There it is! Go get it! Go get it!”

KELO blooper…

From So. Dak.’s own KELO TV!

“Angela Kennecke talks about President Bush (1st one) and how his mother died. All to the clip of someone throwing a dead coyote in a pickup.”

(via Mike.)

Election Results

I have too much to say about the election results, so instead I will relate the following story:

I was talking to someone at work today about the election. She said her husband was almost in a froth because she hadn’t voted to support the Colorado ballot measure that would have allowed the state to start/participate in a lawsuit against the federal government to force them to enforce immegration laws. She also said they’d gotten in a shouting match because she’d voted to raise the minimum wage to $6.85 cents (and tied to inflation).

Nevermind that keeping minimum wages low (so low that only an immigrant can afford to take the job, because it isn’t a living wage) only contributes to the influx of them damn aliens…


First thing this morning. Electronic voting machine (solo), down.

It took me five years to trust electronic deposits. It’ll take a lot longer to trust these jokers.

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