I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics are very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

Do leave comments: let's make this a conversation. If you prefer, you can contact me at friuduric at yahoo dot com.

29 November 2005

Winter Visitors

A few years ago, the Consort gave me a bird feeder for Christmas. I really enjoy birdwatching out my kitchen window in the wintertime. Sure, there are fewer birds around, but you really get to know them, the foliage doesn’t hide them, and they have a decent chance of escaping the cat (Who doesn’t seem to realize that his big black furriness is visible when the herbs under the bird feeder are wintering over [Plus, whenever I let him out, I shout out “Fly away birds! Here comes the cat!” – I bet our Somalian neighbors think I’m very strange (But not as strange as the neighbor’s brother thinks the Consort is. Earlier this spring the Consort was shouting at some chattering squirrels on the roof. The squirrels stopped to look at him, and so he asked them, “Oh, alright, what’re your names?” [I kid you not]. Just then, the Consort noticed that our neighbor’s brother was standing by his car, right on the other side of the fence. They greeted each other, and then the brother drove off. . .).].).

The majority of our visitors are sparrows, followed closely by a number of black-capped chickadees.

We’ve got a cardinal couple that have been coming to our feeder since we put it up. He’ll usually eat first, but then she’ll take a turn, nudging off many of the smaller birds in the process.

I just recently noted the return of our white-breasted nuthatch (OK, the link is to a red-breasted one, but just use your imagination!) and our downy woodpecker. There’s never more than one, so in my mind that means it is the same ones returning each year (how long do these guys live, anyway?).

But today! Today, my friends, I saw our backyard’s first red-headed woodpecker. How cool is that? I wish my digital camera did fancy zooming, because I sure would like to take pictures of all my visitors, but then I’d have to wash my kitchen window more often, and that would just not happen. Oh well, they’re still there for us every day, in real life.

28 November 2005

One of Those Times I Wish I Believed in a Wrathful Deity

Because of this. (If you haven't registered with the New York Times, you'll have to do that first. But it's free and they don't send spam.)

"The piece that fell was over the figure of Authority, near the peak of the building's pediment, and to the right of the figure of Liberty, who has the scales of justice on her lap."

Isn't that appropriate in the current climate of misuse of Authority by those on high? And poor Lady Liberty, being attacked (but so far surviving) attacks from the Right.

Clear proof that God is getting pissed off.

22 November 2005

No Thanks Today

Well, today I was going to find something else I was thankful for, but I can't do that when my mail connection is down so I can't download those 100+ messages of spam I get everyday. I keep checking every 12 minutes (or so) in case they got it online yet, but I haven't even heard back from my people!

And these are good people, who run an intentional community and all (I won't link to them right now because this is a bad-mood post, and I wouldn't want to pass on any negative press or anything).

But, to think that I switched to them to PAY for web space! My previous domain-space outfit had lost my file (I know it because they cc'd me on internal communiques that made this loss abundantly clear to me) so I was still getting email and web space, but I didn't get a bill in over 18 months. But then I switched to my friends' server. Just to be nice. Just to help the telecommuting thing work for them. And now, how do they repay me? By going on Thanksgiving break, obviously. Ah, you bleeding-heart liberal, Imperatrix.

[I should say that my "free" web space was unavailable at least once every six weeks, but since I didn't want them to take too close a look at my account, I would often just bear it for 24 hours or so. And this is the first time in 17 months that I've had an unavailable account, so really, I'm just being dramatic.]

I mean, they haven't responded to the email I sent TWO hours ago. PEOPLE, I have SPAM to delete! Don't you realize how the only way I can get myself to finish some of the duller articles I have to edit is by promising myself I can check email again, if I just finish the Results section?

(OK, sometimes I break the promise and check for messages before I finish the Results, but don't worry, I don't tell the boss-lady. She's probably at her own desk checking email, too.)

And when NEITHER of us get to check email, WE CAN'T WRITE THANKFUL POSTS!

I ain't so peaceable right now, let me tell you.

21 November 2005

This One is Brought to You by the Letter Ahw

The Elder Imperatrix-in-Training (I will have to find a better moniker soon, but I haven’t the time [read ahead]. She wants it to be Xenith, but what the heck does that have to do with Imperatrixes, I’d like to know) is impatient for a new entry, so, I offer you the first in a series of thanks-giving entries.

Some background (although most of my readers [oh, alright, all of them, at this early blogging date] will know this): One of my sisters and her family are gracing the realm with their presence for the holiday this week (hence, not much time for anti-social activities like blogging), so we’ve got a Hobbit (“Is it time for elevenses? Or is it third-breakfasts?”) and a Princess around. And they have reminded me that I am very thankful that little children do not have a strong grasp of all letters of the alphabet, because the confounding of, in most cases, the “rrrr” sound with the “www” sound will always tickle me. Here is a string of examples, from the present day back into the mists of time, from a variety of nieces, nephews, and even the Imperatrixes-in, ahem,-Twaining:

“Do you know that stwanguhs can weaw wed pants or shorts?”

“Tante Impewatwix, do you see this dwahwing I dwew for the Wat?”

“Tante Impewatwix, my mommy says that I can go see the Impewatwixes -in-twaining at fencing tonight. It might be bohwing for me[the Hobbit’s eyebrows are wiggling up and down at this part, because he doesn’t believe it, but it will make his mother happy to hear him acknowledge this low-probability occurrence], but that’s okay.”

“We made wazzles for breakfast!”

As heard on a preschool playground: “Don’t you be mean to my big bludder!”

“Look at the squillows running in the tree!”

“For Halloween next year, I want to be a squarecoe!”

“Can we feed some nuts to the skee-roles?”

I’m looking forward to the future Missing-Letter Entries of the younger batch of nephews and nieces!

18 November 2005

First, They Drive Us Insane

About seven weeks ago, I got a recorded message call: “Please call America Online for some important information. This is not a sales call.” At first, I ignored it. We do not have (nor ever have had) an AOL account, so I figured I had no reason to waste my time calling them (Let me just say here that I really don’t like the new modus operandi of many corporations [credit cards, mostly] of calling you with a recording telling you to call them back for an important message. What, the 5 rupees a day that you pay your live slave labor getting to be too much for you, you big multinational life-sucker from hell?!)

In the back of my mind, I was bugged that I was getting a call from AOL at all. We’re on the Do Not Call list, we have a telemarketer zapper phone, … we thought we had all the bases covered.

Then the recorded calls got more frequent. They would call before 8 AM. They would call after 8 PM. Finally, I had had enough. I called the 800 number they gave in the message to tell them to knock it off.

“Do you know Peggy Sue?” they asked. Erm, that’s my sister-in-law’s name, but I sure wasn’t going to tell them that. I just said there was no Peggy Sue at this number and to quit calling us.

They kept calling us. And calling us. AND. CALLING. US.

Every person we spoke to at AOL (by this time we were pretty sure it was a collection agency for AOL, not AOL directly) promised us that they would take our number off their list immediately, but it might take 24 hours for it to run through the system—This was one hell of a long 24 hours, let me tell you! So, my Imperator Consort mentioned to his sister that we were getting these calls for her at our number. She has had an AOL account for ages, and had no idea what they’d be calling us for; but she asked us to ask AOL next time they called. Sure enough, the next day we got another important call from the AOL recording. I hung up, waited until the message was done (It was one of those hijacking phone messages. You know the ones, they keep running even after you hang up [I thought those were outlawed, weren’t they?]), and called the 800 number (again).

After we got the formalities out of the way (“Hi, my name is Jeanine, blah blah blah, what number are you calling from, …”), she asked the inevitable: “Do you know Peggy Sue?” Yes, as a matter of fact, she’s my sister in law. So, what’s this message about?

Shocked silence. “Well,” said Jeanine, “I can’t tell you. It’s private.” But you’ve been harassing my phone line for weeks! Why can’t you just tell me? Peggy Sue asked me to find out what these calls were all about! “That would be against the law. Privacy issues. No can do.”

Ho-kay. I hang up with Jeanine, call Peggy Sue (probably interrupting her dinner, I realized afterwards) and tell her tersely that they won’t tell us anything. She’ll just have to make the call. She promises to get right on it. I hang up, and try to absorb all the adrenaline that the phone call with Jeanine has pumped in my bloodstream. Deep cleansing breaths, deeeeep cleansing breaths.

Five minutes later, Peggy Sue calls back. She just spoke to AOL. Her account is paid up and they have NO IDEA why we’ve been getting these calls. My only response at this point is: Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.

The calls keep coming. Now, when we get the call, it’s for Dennis. Who the fuck is Dennis? We both only have sisters! Meanwhile, the Consort has emailed the FCC. The people at AOL (or its collection agency) keep promising that they are personally deleting our number from their list, as we speak. Bullshit! I shout. I cajole. I joke. I tell them that this experience is leaving me no choice but to tell everyone I know, and strangers, too, not to use AOL. Nothing works.

We get a letter from the FCC with a case number. The Consort answers the next call from AOL, gives them the case number, and tells them to stop calling.

Last night, after realizing that we haven’t gotten a call in about ten days, I tell the Consort at dinner that his reading them the case number must have worked, because we are finally free of AOL. He is definitely my Knight in Shining Armor, and the realm is still pleased with Our choice, lo these thirteen years ago. La la la, the world is good.

At 8:15 PM the phone rings. “Hello, this is America Online. We notice you don’t have an account with us. Would you like to try us risk-free for 90 days?”

And Thus it Began

I've been bitten by the blog bug (about two years behind everybody else, I'll wager). I will tell it to you truly, but anonymously: Because strong opinions and work do not mix. Either for me or the Imperator Consort.

I am a freelancer in the publishing industry, so words are very important to me. I'm a leftist living in a world gone mad, so politics is very important to me. I'm an environmentalist living in a degrading world, so pick up your damn trash, get rid of your gas guzzlers, and don't touch ANWAR, you self-absorbed capitalists!

But don't worry, I'll start with a funny story.