Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Fish Fact

Arphaxad was going to write more of her story today, but she is so mad right now that she just wanted to rant instead, so I said she could.

OK, so we have been living in Famous Hat's office for what, almost two years, right? On one side of our bowl was a spider plant, then beyond that was Keith the baby dracaena and a plant that smelled really good, I think it was called a Puerto Rican oregano; on the other side was a cycad and a much larger dracaena, and on either end was a pothos vine. It was so beautiful! Then Famous Hat's boss decided very suddenly that plants were the new Menace 2 Society, so she had to take them all home.

Last night the intrepid Plant Relocation Team of Famous Hat, Hardingfele, and Rockstar Tailor came over and took away all the plants but Keith. (Since it originally belonged to a coworker, Famous Hat figured she could always argue that she was told to get rid of all "her" plants but that this one belonged to the coworker so technically it wasn't hers.) At least the plants were not as heavy as when they had to lug November, The Professor, and Dr. Cheung around!

So now all the plants are in Plant World at Famous Hat's home, and Amminadab and I have nothing to look at except Keith. (See below.) I hope it isn't lonely! Of course, there is still the little plant in our bowl, but we chew on it so much that it's in kind of pathetic shape right now. Then again, when Famous Hat bought it, the guy at the pet store told her we would kill it within two months, so it has exceeded that lifespan by quite a lot.

But what can a fish do? I suppose it will just be a matter of time before Famous Hat is told she can't have pets at work either, and then we'll be back with our plant buddies once again.


(Keith is a lot bigger than this now)

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Buddy Butterfly

As promised, here is a picture of my buddy the butterfly. It is his extreme closeup and is a little out of focus, but the pictures where he was in focus include my face, and there's need to torture you like that. In this picture you can clearly see his broken-off antenna and the cute polka dots on his body. Since his wings are closed, you cannot see the black spots on his wings which are apparently actually scent glands, and which only male monarch butterflies have. I think he was just very cold and that is why he couldn't fly that day. Hopefully he is safely on his way to Mexico, broken antenna and all. Thanks to the married B-Boy for this picture.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More Pretty Pictures: Arizona

I don't really have anything to say today, so instead I am just posting some photos Palm Tree Fan took during her recent vacation in Arizona. If it is cold and gray where you are, feel free to imagine that you are in a lovely, warm, dry desert while looking at these.

And my favorite: saguaros! I love cacti (a whole section of Plant World is devoted to cacti and succulents), and what could be cooler than a giant, trident-shaped cactus that now and then gets enormous white flowers on it? I got some saguaro seeds at the Hoover Dam a few years ago, and while they all sprouted, only one made it past the seedling stage. It actually looked like a tiny cactus! Then for no apparent reason it died right before its third birthday. (But then, my relationships with Virgos are usually like that - everything's fine and then....BAM! Guess I should have waited a month or two to plant it.) So now I am saguaro-less.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Floral Menace

The workaday world is a tough place. For example, here I am at 6:14 am every weekday morning, if I looked just like my hedgehog Sylvia.

And here I am at 6:15 am, ready to face another day!

Hardingfele came over and took some photos of my beautiful blooming "Halloween" cacti this weekend. (They always bloom right around Halloween so I feel odd to call them Christmas cacti.) These are two separate plants I grew from cuttings my mother gave me, but when I tried to separate them, they had merged and refused to be separated so I just put the two of them together into a larger pot.

Here is a closeup of a pink blossom:

Here is a closeup of a red blossom:

I have always loved plants, so imagine my surprise when I was told (after almost two years, mind you) that I could no longer have plants in my office. You are probably thinking, "Plants? They are so quiet and harmless! They just sit there looking pretty and cleaning the air!" But that just shows what you know. Obviously plants are the new menace, now that Communism has failed and Al Quaida hasn't blown any planes up lately. For example, here is a picture Hardingfele took of Nola, the tiny sprig of papyrus I brought back from New Orleans last summer. Look how enormous it is now! If that isn't suspicious, I don't know what is.

Here are pictures of some of my plants/assassins and terrorists. The big dracaena on the right that looks like a palm tree is Greg and the plant in the middle is Dr. Cheung. (They are named after their previous owners.) Greg and Dr. Cheung are no longer menacing me because they are now at Rich's new house, basking in the atrium area and protecting the place more fiercely than Rottweilers.

And here are some more infidels and deviants.

The two large plants on the left are Jolly Bob and The Professor, which are also now guarding Rich's house like spiky green pitbulls. I needed to get them out of Plant World to make room for the plants from my office. (Hardingfele asked if the ban on plants includes the little plant in Arphaxad and Amminadab's bowl, and I said I had wondered about that but wasn't about to bring it up. For whatever reason fish are still allowed in my office.)

Here is a movie of Sylvia unrolling.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 26, 2009

True Adventure: Movie Making!

Sorry for the lack of posts the last few days, and no I did NOT have the swine flu, at least not that I know of. I believe it was what is commonly known as a "cold." Or maybe my triglycerides are so out of whack that I just ceased existing for a few days. Anyhow, now I am back with only a mild cough and some hoarseness, which shouldn't affect my blo- *hack! hack!*

Last night I was still quite under the weather but agreed to make The Movie with Hardingfele, Rockstar Tailor, and Richard Bonomo. The three of us adults put on disposable hazmat suits, the two of them in size 3X ("one size fits nobody!") and mine a slightly more manageable size X. Rich wore his beekeeper hat and I wore the Sea Foam Rice Paddy hat, but the only thing Hardingfele had in the headwear department was one of those giant furry Russian things, and Rich nixed that look. Rockstar Tailor was the cinematographer, since Mr. Hardingfele refused to have anything to do with this nonsense and sat inside playing jazz guitar. (Which made for a lovely soundtrack.)

None of us has been to film school, so we made a lot of novice mistakes, like not warning the neighbors. The absolute funniest moment was when Hardingfele's neighbor Tree Killer leaned over the fence and kept hollering, "What's going on?" Hardingfele said "Nothing, don't worry about it," but that didn't satisfy her. Finally we said, "We're making a movie!" which seemed to puzzle her, but at least it shut her up. Rockstar Tailor got all that on film, thankfully. Eventually Mr. Hardingfele's curiosity got the best of him, so he came out and did some filming too. Then we went inside, took off the disposable hazmat suits, bright purple gloves, and hardcore face masks with actual filters on them, and we watched the fruits of our labor.

It was actually pretty entertaining. First you see three abominable snowmen or something, and the shortest, chestiest one gives a rousing speech that ends with, "And no stupid chances! Got that?" as it points a fully-loaded water gun at the other two. Then the three yeti run off in different directions while the camera follows none of them. In fact, we had a bit of an issue with the cinematographer being more interested in filming the cats than us. Then Rockstar Tailor wanted to be in the movie herself, so we let her play the person who calls to verify that the chipmunk was indeed at Old Man Digby's barn on the 20th of September. She did a bang-up job except for pronouncing the word alibi "a-LIB-bee," although it was unintentionally hilarious when she authoritatively barked, "Get me the phone!"... as she was holding it in her hand. We even had props, like my squirt gun and Rich's filter/gauge thingy that doubled as the Chipmunk Detector and the Translator. (When Hardingfele asked, "Why do you happen to have one of those in your car?" he said, "Because I'm a nerd!") Unfortunately, I was the only one who had most of the lines memorized, having the distinct advantage of having written the script, so Rich forgot his line as "Translator" and said Vinny the Cat claimed he was at a party the night before, to which I, the "Interrogator," replied, "That's funny, I thought he was supposed to say, 'I'd know the rodent anywhere! He had a stripe down his back!'" We also interviewed a little plushy chipmunk which Hardingfele fortuitously had around the house. (I don't believe it was an ePlush.)

The movie is not available for viewing yet, since Rich has to edit it, and he is currently busy moving into his new house or some such lame excuse. No animals were harmed during the making of our movie (A Concerted Effort: Three Scenarii), but Vinny the Cat was temporarily inconvenienced when we interrogated him, and the stuffed chipmunk was attacked at one point by Buddy the Cat. (Unfortunately, that was not captured on film.) And so far as I know, none of us contracted rabies. Also, we have not filmed Scenario #1 yet, so it will be awhile before it is posted here on my blog. Just another thing to look forward to.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Singin' the Bread Machine Blues

Oh, I got me a bread machine, and it makes some real fine bread,
Said I got me a bread machine, and it sure makes some real fine bread,
It will bake day or night, even while I'm in bed.

Sometimes my bread is weird, but that's my own fault.
I said sometimes my bread is weird, but that's all my own stupid fault,
Because I'm the one who puts in the flour and water and salt.

One day I was sick, too sick to go buy food.
You know I was so sick, too sick to go buy food,
And I was almost out, so things weren't looking good.

I made me some bread, but my flour was not enough.
Yeah I made me some bread, but my flour was just not enough
So I used masa tortilla flour because it's similar stuff.

My bread didn't rise, no it didn't rise at all.
I said that half-masa bread didn't rise, it didn't rise at all
But it tasted just like corn bread and was just about as tall.

Once my bread wasn't rising because I forgot the yeast,
Yeah, once my bread didn't rise because I went and forgot the yeast
So I added some and started over, and it wasn't affected in the least.

The other day my bread came out all crumbly and dry,
That's right, the other day my bread turned out all crumbly and dry
So I sat myself down and asked myself why.

Maybe not enough water, so I poured in a whole bunch.
Yeah, not enough water, so I went and poured in a whole bunch
Because I couldn't eat a pile of crumbs for lunch.

I put in more yeast and stirred the whole mess around.
Said I put in more yeast and stirred the whole mess around
Then I started over again and guess what I found?

That twice-baked bread came out as pretty as could be,
Can you believe that twice-baked bread came out pretty as could be?
It was moist and yeasty but that's just fine with me!

Yesterday someone asked me, "What kind of bread is that?"
You know just yesterday someone asked, "What kind of bread is that?"
I said, "It's stupidity bread, and that's a fact!"

My bread machine loves me, it fixes all my mistakes,
Said that machine truly loves me, it fixes all my mistakes,
And I always enjoy the bread that it bakes.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Extreme Unction Spam

Although I never get spam as entertaining as Hardingfele does, I am now receiving people's last confessions, judging by the tear jerker below.

Hello my friend,

Hope this day finds you well?, I am Thomas Lynch Stevenson a South African merchant . I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer, It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but my businesses, Though I am very rich but was never really generous,I was always hostile to people and only focused on my businesses as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world.

Now that God is about to call me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends. I want God to be merciful to me and accept my souL, I have decided to give also to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations here in Mail, U.A.E, Algeria, Sudan, Europe, Kenya and some part of south american. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore.

I once asked one of a members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money inside,but he acted within him self and out of greed he kept the money to himself. Hence, I do not trust any one of them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. I will want you to help me collect a huge deposit of (Twelve Million five Hundred Thousand U.S dollars)and dispatched it to charity organizations. this is lodge abroad in Europe and I have set aside 25% for you, then 5% for any expenses incured. None of my family members are aware of this deposit if otherwise they would have tried to acquire it.

If you are interested, please send your prompt reply to my private email address below if you are willing to assist me ,

It is a real shame that his cancer has defiled all that medical treatment, but doesn't it warm the cockles of your heart that now he is reformed and has given all that money to charities in Mail and south american? What a shame that his greedy relative acted within him self! But how generous that 25% of the money currently lodging in Europe is earmarked for his favorite charity of all - me! I am so touched when people I have never met think to leave me large sums of money, which apparently is staying in a Swiss chalet or Italian villa or something. Heck, I don't need the money - just let me trade places with it! I'd love to be lodging in Europe...

Famous Hat

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Flighty Friend

Do you ever feel like your life was scripted by someone who writes sitcoms for a living? I know I do. For example, this weekend I went hiking at a state park with Tiffy, Anna Banana II, both Blaney Boys, Cecil Markovitch, A-Fooze, and Richard Bonomo. Isn't that hilarious? Just kidding. As we were hiking, I found a male monarch butterfly lying on the ground. One of his antennae was broken off, but other than that he seemed fine, yet he was unable to fly. I set him on top of my raspberry beret (it was too cold for Famous Hat) and continued to hike, thinking he would fly away once he warmed up enough. (It was a very cold day for mid-October.) The butterfly had other ideas and stayed on my beret like a wacky decoration during the drive home.

He was still on my beret when we stopped for dinner, and I was afraid the restaurant staff would not appreciate having a live butterfly in their establishment. Would they honestly believe he was a service animal? ("Yeah, he's a seeing-eye butterfly.") But just when you need them most, a convention of Tolkein nutjobs always arrives on the scene, and so we followed a bunch of ents and orcs into the restaurant, and nobody even noticed my little friend. He sat peacefully by the window all through dinner (but had no interest in any water or juice himself) so I put him back on my beret when we left and slipped, barely noticed, out the door. (I did see one restaurant employee look at my beret kind of oddly, but she said nothing.) I got back into my own car with Tiffy, and when we left, the butterfly was no longer on my beret, so we figured he just hitched a ride to my hometown.

"I feel so used," I told Tiffy.

"Typical male," she replied. "First they won't leave, then when you get used to having them around, they split." Then we put on our swimsuits and tested the jacuzzi in Rich's new house, which met with our complete and utter approval. (He was more excited about the bidet.)

Yesterday morning I went to Mass and noticed nothing amiss, but on the way home I noticed something in the back window. It was my buddy butterfly! He hadn't left me after all! In fact, I had a very hard time convincing him to leave the car at all, but finally he did come with me... and then he suddenly took off and sailed into the clear blue autumn sky, completely recovered. I am hoping he is safely on his way to Mexico, which is where monarch butterflies gather for the winter, but Rich thinks he won't be able to find his way there with only one antenna.

Several people took photos of my little buddy, but unfortunately they have not yet emailed them to me. However, I do have something else for you: the film of the turquoise flames from the campfire I went to months ago. So watch this space for pictures of my friend the butterfly sometime in the next six months.

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday is the New Friday

(this week only)

I regret to inform you that Arphaxad will be taking a week off from telling her story. I don't regret to inform you that she (and I) will be on vacation tomorrow. Yay! So to make up for it, I will give you an extra-long post today.

First, CROSS (Citizens for the Return Of Sanity to Sound) would like to remind you of what has become of society since the hostile takeover of the equal temperament tuning system at the beginning of the last century:
  • two world wars
  • abortion on demand
  • no-fault divorce
  • the rise of Communism
  • reality TV
Clearly the time has come to take the bull by the horns and geld him! CROSS is a not-for-any-profit-whatsoever organization; it does not ask for money, only action.

And now, because I know you can't get enough of it: SPAM!!! First, it was nice knowing y'all, but I am off to buy my own tropical island, having won the National Lottery in some unspecified nation. See below:

Dear e-MAIL Winner,
Your email address won £850,000.00 GBP in this month NATIONAL LOTTERY E-mail online drew. To file for your claim, contact our agent Mr. Addison Mahir with the details below(Full Names, Contact Address, Country, Age, Sex, Occupation &
Telephone numbers) to this

So here's what I said:

Full Names? Famous Hat, that's the only one I have but you can call me whatever you want... as long as you call me!
Contact Address? I no longer wear them, I have had LASIK surgery
Country? no thanks, I prefer hip hop
Age? old enough to know better
Sex? maybe, but send a photo first
Occupation? being a renowned piece of headware
Telephone number? KX-TG5480 is what it says on the front

But once again I cannot beat Hardingfele for bizarre spam:

Subject: Australia Order

Hello Sales,
I am interested in purchasing some of your products, I will like to know if you can ship directly to Australia, I also want you to know my mode of payment for this order is via Credit Card. Get back to me if you can ship to that destination and also if you accept the payment type I indicated. Kindly return this email with your Website.
I await your quick response.
Kind Regards.

Hardingfele (aka. "Sales") wasn't aware that she was selling anything, so she had never pondered the question of shipping it to Australia. I, however, do have something to sell Mr. Down Under: The Jugula! This handy little device is a spatula with a jug on the handle to hold syrup. There is no prototype yet, but there is a motto: "Go for the Jugula!" Tiffy has a product as well: a camping alarm clock called Tentinabulation. It sounds like bells, of course.

My office mate Toque (rhymes with puke, not poke) and I are fed up, so we were pleasantly surprised to see our horoscopes today. Here is Toque's:

Scorpio: Occult sciences such as alchemy, phrenology, and astrology could be singing their siren song to you, dear Scorpio. You like to think of yourself as down-to-earth and realistic, but today you could find so-called "unrealistic" fields of knowledge irresistible. You'll also have a special gift for them right now. Read up on the subject, and then give it a try. You might be surprised at what you discover.

Toque liked this. Her response: "I'm going to start hexing the s**t out of people!" She also liked mine, hoping she was the "young colleague," until getting to the part about health issues:

Capricorn: A young colleague could be leaving your place of employment under strange circumstances, dear Capricorn, and this could come as a shock to you. You may have been quite fond of this person and could find yourself wondering about the truth behind the departure. Gossip may be buzzing, but don't pay any attention to it. Chances are it's a health problem, but no one, including your colleague, feels comfortable discussing it.

I said maybe her occult studies would make her invisible, which could possibly be construed as a health issue. Are invisible people more or less healthy than the general population? Has a study been done yet? The plot thickened when a student hourly came in to commiserate, and we read her horoscope (Leo) which said something about a neighbor mysteriously vanishing. Too bad she and Toque aren't neighbors...

As far as yesterday on the Lolameter, first it was very bad because I was unable to secure a ride to Messiah practice and the bus would have gotten me there more than halfway through it, but then it was very good because my car key showed up... at my health club! Mad props to the anonymous Good Samaritan who turned it in there and to A-Joz for taking me there to pick it up. Today was neutral on the Lolameter; I missed the bus because I took too long dissecting a pomegranate for breakfast, but we had to take short lunches anyway so it evened out. Short lunches are part of why Toque and I are fed up, no pun intended.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Off the Lolameter

I have a coworker, let's call her "Lola," who says that if the elevator comes right away, you are going to have a good day while if you just miss it, you are going to have a bad day. So we always talk about what kind of day we are going to have on the Lolameter (pronounced lo-LA-mitter, not Lola-meter). For example, Monday morning our bus drove right by us! This was all the more surprising because, even if it were a new driver or a sub, surely he or she should have noticed not only the large number of people waiting at the bus stop, but also the large bus stop structure. I could see missing one person at one of those subtle little bus stop signs, but ten at a stop with a structure? Come on, you obviously need more coffee. So that would indicate on the Lolameter that I was not going to have a good day, but I don't remember the rest of it being particularly bad.

Then yesterday morning everything seemed to be going smoothly until I was halfway to the bus stop and realized that, when I had switched over from my summer bag to my winter bag, I had neglected to transfer one little item: my bus pass. A neighbor offered to let me use a ride on her ten-ride pass, and usually I would have taken her up on the offer and just walked home (or begged a coworker for a ride, if the weather turned really bad), but I had to go downtown to run some errands and HAD to take the bus because on Saturday - clearly a bad day on the Lolameter - I somehow misplaced my car key and have yet to locate it. (On MyFace my status is currently: "Livin' car-free.... cuz I lost the key!") So I had to go back and get the pass and was then late to work AGAIN, but the rest of the day was fine.

Today Lola came into my office and said how not one, but two elevators had been RIGHT THERE when she needed them so it was clearly going to be a good day. I told her how this morning I'd been waiting for the bus and two teenage boys were trying to flirt with me and the woman standing next to me, showing off and looking to see if we'd noticed. Since I could literally have given birth to these children, I found it mostly amusing and a little bemusing. The two boys were black, I am white, and the woman standing next to me (who could have been their aunt, but not quite their mother) was Chinese, so hormones know no age or race boundaries. When I told Lola (who is younger, blacker, and way more attractive than I am) that I wasn't sure if I should be flattered because maybe they thought I was younger than I am, or if I should just assume they would flirt with anything female, she wasn't sure. She said, "You have to see what the rest of the day is like because I have no idea if that means you will have a good or a bad day. Just see what happens." And you know what? It's been a kind of neutral day, not particularly good or bad. Just a day. So I guess if teenagers flirt with you at the bus stop tomorrow, that means that your day will be smack in the middle of the Lolameter.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

For Your Educational Model Rocket Program

Once again, Hardingfele gets the weirdest spam. Who knew they were now using model rockets in education? Maybe I would have paid more attention in school if Toob'oh or Cee-yah were teaching precalculus. I am most fascinated by the way the names of the rocket models get progressively less interesting. I have changed a little of the wording of this ad, hoping nobody minds. I did leave amusing grammatical mistakes alone so you could see for yourselves just how edumacated these model rockets really are.

Announcing our fall 40% off sale on educational model bulk packs for the month of October on the following educational model rocket kits:

The Toob'oh RTF is a ready to fly model rocket with tube fins and streamer recovery. The Toob'oh RTF requires no build time and is ready to go! The Toob'oh is also available as a level 1 kit that is very easy to assemble. The regular Toob'oh can be assembled in 1 session of 1/2 to 1 hour, is fluent in French and can also substitute teach Spanish to the 12th grade level and German to the 9th grade level.

The Cee-Yah is a easy to assemble level 1 kit with streamer recovery. The Cee-Yah that can be assembled in 1 or 2 sessions of 1/2 to 1 hour and can teach physics and math up to the precalculus level.

The Centauri is a slightly more advanced level 1 kit with parachute recovery. The Centauri can be assembled in two building sessions of 1/2 to 1 hour and is certified to teach chemistry up to the freshman college level. It also has training in CPR in case of lab accidents.

The Sword is a more advanced level 1 kit with a payload section and parachute recovery. The Sword can be assembled in two building sessions of 1/2 to 1 hour and generally teaches social studies but is willing to substitute for physical education, music, or art.

The Quick-Fly is a easy to assemble level 2 boost glider that uses glide recovery and streamer recovery. The Quick Fly can be assembled in one building session of 1 hour and can parse a sentence in five seconds. It also knows the difference between a metaphor and a simile.

The Boostar-C is a level 1 model rocket booster kit that will turn either the Centauri of the Sword into a level 2 multi stage model rocket. However, it is willing to teach health class, even the section on sexuality.

All the Modelrockets-R-us kits have pre-marked or laser slotted tubes and precision laser cut fins and parts. No knife or ruler is need to assemble any of the Modelrockets-R-us model rocket kits, but please have a basic knowledge of reading and math before attending one of their classes.

White or wood glue, model rocket motors, chute wadding, launch pad and launch controller available separately. Please bring a calculator and a narrow rule notebook to the first day of class.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 12, 2009

CROSS Manifesto

Today Citizens for the Return Of Sanity to Sound (CROSS) is posting its manifesto on my blog. CROSS has two simple goals:

1. Eradication of equal temperament. Sound is a physical reality governed by mathematical laws, but you wouldn't know that from equal temperament. It just chops the octave into twelve identical bits and calls it a day, not caring how these intervals actually sound.

2. Elimination of the Key of Gb Major. I'm sorry, but there is no need for this key to exist. SIX flats??? That's just being greedy. Come on, move it up half a step and put it in G Major.

The time to act is now, and here is what you can do:

Write your congressman (woman, thing, whatever) about this problem.

Retune pianos into extended sixth-comma mean tone.

Graffiti. Me, I have always thought graffiti was kind of cool. Now I would never advocate defacing a beautiful stone, brick, or wooden building, but one cannot be said to "deface" something that was never "faced" in the first place, if you see what I mean. Ugly concrete buildings (for example, the music school at our local university) are practically screaming to be covered with spray-painted slogans such as: "Equal Temperament is Pure Evil," "Gb Major is for Losers," and of course "Return to Sanity - Return to Sixth-Comma Mean Tone!" In fact, watch this space for possible video footage of me decorating the music school with such maxims. (Or wimping out and writing it in chalk on the sidewalk...)

Famous Hat

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is It Live... Or What??

The following is an actual exchange Richard Bonomo had with a "live chat session" on the AT&T website. He has no idea if this was an actual human who just doesn't understand... well, much of anything, or if it was a computer-generated exchange. I will leave it to my 3.5 faithful readers (that's minus my faithful reader Rich) to weigh in on this significant matter. In the exchange below, "Nash" is the AT&T product specialist and "you" is Rich.

AT&T product specialists are happy to assist you with your questions. Click below to begin your live text chat. Chat representatives will not have access to your personal account. This service is provided to you under AT&Ts Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.Chat InformationWelcome to AT&T. My name is Nash. How may I help you today?

Nash: I will be happy to answer your questions regarding AT&T services. I specialize in setting up new phone accounts and High Speed Internet service. To start, could you please tell me what city and state you are located in?

Nash: Hello! How may I assist you with your online order?

you: Hello. I may be moving soon, and I would like to see if I can get a vanilla Ethernet connection via DSL with a static IP address and NO port restrictions.

you: This is Anytown, YourStateHere.

Nash: Thank you for the information.

Nash: Have you checked the availability for High Speed DSL service at your location?

you: The web site says it is available, but when I attempt to look at the page, for example, AT&T High Speed Internet Direct Pro S Static IP plan, the page does not open correctly, so I am unable to view the specifications.

Nash: Thank you for the information.

you: Oh, I forgot to add: NO server restrictions.

Nash: It's okay.

Nash: Which services are you looking to order online today?

you: I am not looking to order. I am checking on the price of the service I outlined in my first paragraph.

Nash: Is there anything else that I can assist you with?

you: No, I am just looking for that information right now. I cannot place any orders as I do not yet have legal access to the address in question.

Nash: Thank you for chatting with AT&T today. It has been a pleasure assisting you. Should you need further assistance today, there is a button you may click on to chat with us again.Chat InformationThank you for chatting with AT&T today. Have a great day.

You: Is this a live person or a computer?

But it was TOO LATE - "Nash" had already exited the conversation.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday Fish Fiction 5

Arphaxad is back with the continuation of her story.

I woke up early on the morning in which I was to embark on my journey and went out to the kitchen, poured myself a cup of coffee, and read my horoscope. (Pisces, naturally.) It said: Today is a good day to finally begin that project you have always meant to start. Everything seemed to be going my way. Then my father came into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of coffee, and sat down across from me at the kitchen table.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Seashell?” he wondered for the hundredth time. (Seashell was his pet name for all his three hundred-odd daughters.)

“What else am I going to do with a degree in Comparative Ich-Theology?” I replied.

“I’ve always told you fry that you should study something practical. You could have been a scale surgeon or a reef designer, but oh no, you all wanted to study FUN things.” Then he turned more serious. “Be careful out there, Seashell. You’ve spent your whole life in a modern ichtheocracy. Just remember that in some of those ancient pischarcies across the sea, there is no such thing as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and ‘a jury of your peers.’ Oh Seashell, I’m going to miss you so much!”

“Really?” When you’re one of six hundred siblings, you don’t necessarily feel as if your parents pay all that much attention to you. They always say a Papa Fish is proudest of his first brood and fondest of his last one, which left me firmly in Middle Hatchling territory.

“You’ve always been the one with a sense of adventure,” he said. “And that’s why I know I can’t stop you now. I can only warn you to be careful.”

“Oh, Daddy!” I had to give him a big hug. “I’ll miss you so much! But I’ll be back after I’ve seen Venice, I promise!”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” he said, laying his pectoral fin on top of mine. “It could be that your destiny lies over there.”

In the afternoon my whole family threw a farewell party for me: my parents and six hundred siblings, countless aunts, uncles, and cousins, and a number of family friends. I sat unblinking (since fish can’t blink) as Grandpa made a long-winded, gin-fueled toast to the success of my ventures, and the wheels of my bicycle, and the currents of the ocean, and the fish I would come across who were kind to me (and a curse on the ones who were bad to me), and to the sun, and the moon, and the water, and the gin, etc. I’d say he drinks like a fish, but that would be redundant. Still, I was going to miss his gin-scented kisses on my gill: “Lassie, you’re so lovely that if I were a young fish again I’d have to marry you!” I would miss all of them terribly, but I had to go to Venice. My father was right; my destiny lay somewhere across the ocean.

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Concerted Effort: Scenario #3

And now what you (and by "you" I mean Hardingfele) have been waiting for all week: The final scenario of the Concerted Effort to Find the Dangerous Chipmunk.

Scene One: Official-looking room.

Official-looking guy: OK, we need to ask the BUFF cat what he knows. Got that, people? The BUFF cat – not the orange cat, and not the cat that looks like someone put a brown cat and an orange cat in a blender.

Scene Two: Hardingfele’s backyard

First Person: Is this the buff cat?
OLG: No, that is clearly an ORANGE cat! Are you color-blind or something?
Second Person: Got it, boss.
OLG: To the interrogation room!

Scene Three: Interrogation room

Guy dressed all in black: So what do you know about the chipmunk that allegedly bit Ms. Hardingfele?
Vinny: Meow.
OLG: Did the translator get that?
Translator: He said, “I’d know the rodent anywhere! He had a stripe down his back!”
OLG: Hear that, people? Now we know what we have to do. Find that chipmunk with a telltale stripe down his back!

Scene Four: Hardingfele’s backyard

Third Person: Got it!
OLG: To the interrogation room!

Scene Five: Interrogation room

Guy dressed all in black: What were you doing the afternoon of Sunday, September 20th?
Chipmunk: cheecheechee
Translator: I can’t hear. Can you turn up the volume?
Chipmunk: cheecheechee
Translator: Still can’t quite make it out. Can you turn it up to 11?

Translator: OK, that I got. He says he was at the annual Rodent Convention they hold at Old Man Digby’s barn every year.
OLG: That should be easy enough to verify. Get me the phone. (Into phone.) Yeah, we got a chipmunk here with a stripe down his back claiming he was at Old Man Digby’s barn on Sunday, September 20th…. What? OK, roger that. (Hangs up phone.) We got a positive ID. Looks like his alibi holds water. Release the suspect! And someone write the Official Letter and send it to Ms. Hardingfele.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Concerted Effort: Scenario #2

This is a second possibility for the concerted effort made by the Public Health officials to find the chipmunk that bit Hardingfele.

Scene One: Official-looking room

Official-looking guy: (pointing at map):

Okay people, here is the plan. The site of the “incident” was right HERE. (Points to Hardingfele’s yard.) That means the offending chipmunk could be anywhere in this area. (Points to Chipmunk Zone.) Here’s what we’re going to do: Number One, check out the Beta Quadrant. Number Two, check out the Delta Quadrant. Number Three, check out the Alpha Quadrant. Number Four, check out the Gamma Quadrant. Got that, people? And remember, this is a very dangerous animal. Despite what we told Ms. Hardingfele, there is a nearly 100% chance the thing is rabid, so don’t take any stupid chances. Got it? No stupid chances.

Scene Two: Hardingfele’s backyard

People in hazmat suits running around.
First Person: I see something!
Second Person: Over here!
Third Person: Cover my six!

Scene Three: Official-looking room

Official-looking guy: Okay, people, we made a concerted effort but the chipmunk could not be located. Number Three, write the Official Letter and send it to Ms. Hardingfele.

Remember to check back here tomorrow for Scenario #3!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Concerted Effort: Scenario #1

This week on Famous Hat we will be discussing the "concerted effort" that the Public Health officials made to find the chipmunk that bit Hardinfele. As you may remember, said officials sent Hardingfele a letter stating that they had in fact made a concerted effort to find the chipmunk. Here is one way it could have gone down:

A group of Public Health employees sit around a table, drinking coffee.

Thibodaux: Gantley, you seen a chipmunk round these parts lately?

Gantley: No. How about you, O’Shaughnessy? Seen any chipmunks lately?

O’Shaughnessy: Nope, I haven’t. How about you, Thibodaux?

Thibodaux: Not one. Gentlemen, we made a concerted effort but the chipmunk could not be located. Gantley, write the Official Letter and send it to Ms. Hardingfele.

Stay tuned for Scenario #2 tomorrow and the thrilling conclusion on Thursday with Scenario #3!

(Thanks to Susan on the bus for suggesting this scenario.)

Famous Hat

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bunny Art

Friday night Mama Step and I went to some art galleries on Willy Street for "Gallery Night." The first one had very expensive stuff in muted colors, but I did end up buying some cheap hair pins with black-and-white bunnies on them. The second gallery we went to was much more lively, full of art in vibrant colors, lots of people wandering around sipping complementary wine, and loud 80's music courtesy of a live DJ. To my surprise, I found a cheap ring with a black-and-white bunny on it that matched the hair pins I had just bought! It was obviously meant to be. After a glass of free champagne, I almost bought an adorable $30 stuffed robot, because what could a girl need more, right? But some tiny sober part of my brain was like, no. You DON'T need a $30 stuffed robot, no matter how cuddly it is!

So the rest of the weekend, of course I had to wear my bunny art: to the Farmer's Market, where they had no coffee or blue potatoes, and I forgot to buy cheese; to the hootenanny my band led at a nature center, where we played as tons of kids and adults sang along (I can play anything, as long as it's in the key of G); to Mass, where the priest must have used some new kind of incense, because a bunch of us kept hacking and coughing and sneezing; and to the St. Francis Day dessert Anna Banana II made. Lots of people were there, including my OTHER choir director, which was a bit awkward since I kind of hadn't made it to the Lutheran church that morning. Since St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and is always depicted with a bunch of birds and rabbits, what could be more fitting to wear to a St. Francis Day party than bunny art? We didn't have a blessing of the animals, and I forgot to smuggle Sylvia the Hedgehog into Mass for a stealth blessing, but then she probably would have choked on the incense. And then everyone would have known I smuggled a hedgehog into Mass when she started hacking and sneezing in my purse!

Famous Hat

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Smackdown: Geneva Convention vs. Children's Music

I had the misfortune, as do many autistic children these days, of being born with heightened senses into a culture that values convenience over quality. In the case of food, it simply meant that I hardly ate anything during my childhood, but sound was my personal hell. When you have an exquisitely attuned ear, the modern world is horribly loud and grating for the most part, but the real torture is children's music. For reasons I have never been able to fathom, almost all children's music is major key, which in EQUAL TEMPERAMENT means that it is out of tune; then, just to elevate the torture of the sensitive ear, it is sung by a bunch of children who cannot carry a tune.

When we were kids, our mother found a kiddie record player at a garage sale. I loved the actual player, since I was fascinated by anything that rotated (OK, still am), but the records were the usual tripe with out-of-tune tots howling some simple major-key ditty. So I broke them. My brother, who is two years younger and not autistic (just dyslexic), didn't seem terribly sorry to see the records go either. (He is not as ridiculously enslaved to music as I am, but he is musical, and I have noticed that he also gravitates toward minor-key music, which is often the case with people who cannot stand equal temperament.) Of course, my mother didn't understand that, or why a child who so obviously loved music would pitch fits during Music Time at school and refuse to sit still during children's concerts. I sought solace in minor-key Vivaldi concertos. Then I grew up and discovered "period-style" music, and life was good. Now that I understand the evils of equal temperament, I would love to spare all the autistic children out there the years of torture I endured. For crying out loud, people, children's music is horrible stuff for anyone to have to endure, but for those of us with sensitive ears, it is the eighth circle of Dante's Inferno.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday Fish Fiction 4

Arphaxad is back with her weekly installment of fishy fiction.

I was swimming by a bicycle store when a poster in the window caught my eye. It was a photo of a marlin charging up a coral mountain on a state-of-the-art bicycle, a bicycle so light that in the next picture he was holding it up with one fin on the top of the mountain. The caption read: “Boethius Bicycles – Where Free Will Meets Destiny.”

I know what they say, that a fish without a bicycle is like a woman without a man, but at that very moment there was nothing I wanted more in this ocean than a Boethius Bike. I went into the store and inquired as to the price of the bike advertised on the poster. When the salesfish, a scruffy bottom feeder with droopy barbs, answered my query, I nearly went belly-up in shock. But biking across the ocean to Venice seemed more feasible than swimming the entire way, and so I asked if he had anything cheaper.

“What’s your price range?” he asked. I told him, and he said doubtfully, “I might have a used unicycle for that price.”

“Really? What’s your cheapest bicycle?”

He stroked his barbs thoughtfully and considered the question.

“Well,” he finally said, “I do have something in the basement, but it’s a very old model, and it might need some repairs. Heck, I’d practically have to pay you to take this thing off my hands.”

“Can I see it?”

“Certainly.” He disappeared into the basement, and I could hear him clattering around. Presently his voice bubbled up: “It doesn’t have a chain.”

“That’s okay, I can afford to buy a chain.”

“Oh no, I mean it doesn’t take a chain. It’s in better shape than I thought – you should be able to ride it out of here.” He emerged from the basement with the bicycle, which was a state-of-the-ark Boethius, a real old-fashioned penny farthing. The front wheel was taller than I was, and the back wheel barely came up to the top of my tail fin.

“How will I ride that thing?” I asked in amazement. “I’ll float right off!”

“It takes some getting used to,” the salesfish admitted. “But if you want it, it’s yours.”

The salesfish wasn’t kidding about the old bike taking some getting used to. I tried to ride it away from the store and immediately floated right off. On my next attempt, I ran headlong into a colony of zebra mussels and tumbled over the handlebars onto the hard shells. Finally, after suffering numerous cuts and bruises and what felt suspiciously like a sprained ventral fin, I successfully rode the bike for a short distance. A very cute carp on a brand-new Boethius biked by and said, “What a retro bike!”

“Thanks!” I said. “It’s an ’86 Boethius.”

That stopped him dead in his tracks. He turned and biked back.

“Really? An ’86? That thing looks ancient!”

“Yeah, 1886,” I told him, thinking the bike wasn’t so bad if it got cute carp to stop and talk to me. However, he simply snorted and biked away much faster than I could go on my ’86 Boethius. Ah well, it may not have been the fastest bike in the ocean, but it would undoubtedly be faster than swimming all the way to Venice.

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Blog!

One year ago today, the first Famous Hat post appeared. And what a year it has been! Look how much my life has changed in that time:

October 2008
pets: two rabbits, hedgehog, two fish

October 2009
pets: two rabbits, hedgehog, two fish

October 2008
plants: too many to count

October 2009
plants: too many to count

October 2008
best friend: Tiffy

October 2009
best friend: Tiffy

October 2008
religion: Catholic

October 2009
religion: Catholic

October 2008
commenters on blog: Rich and Hardingfele

October 2009
commenters on blog: Rich and Hardingfele

October 2008
vehicles: Erin the Car, Eusebius the Bike

October 2009
vehicles: Erin the Car, Eusebius the Bike

October 2008
marital status: single
October 2009
marital status: single

October 2008
kids: none

October 2009
kids: none

October 2008
musical obsession: salsa
October 2009
musical obsession: hip hop

See how much I have changed in a year? So much personal growth in just 365 days!

To celebrate my blog's first anniversary, I have sold out! Tiffy said I might as well go commercial and let them post ads on my blog. I have always wanted to be a professional writer, and who knows, maybe I will even make tens of dollars before this blog's second anniversary!

Famous Hat