Saturday, January 24, 2009

Learning from the mistakes at Valejo.

We all know BJ, right? Seven feet tall, good at hitting things with sticks and designing unselfconcious steampunk-style armaments, and the kind of soft spoken that makes everyone pretty careful about irritating him. Anyways, he's taking eskrima, because he needed to find a way to become even more intimidating to other dudes.

(Eskrima is the art of hitting people with two tiny sticks. Like all martial arts that sound stupid and have survived, it's brutal. It's how the Pilipinos took down Magellan. He had guns, they had sticks. It was not a fair fight. Here's a video: It looks like high spped slap fighting to me too)

It's a small class at the Recreation Center- usually there are only three people, and two of them were otherwise occupied that day. BJ and his instructor were sparring, his instructor lost a stick, BJ pressed the advantage, and the instructor grabbed his arm and threw him to the ground. Then he pinned both of BJ's shoulders and started hitting him in the face- lightly, because it was practice. BJ was trying shoulder rolls and knee kicks to get free- and the instructor started advising him on other options- options that did not work because the instructor is so very good at eskrima.

Anyways, this is when a girl walked past a supposedly empty classroom and saw one guy pinning another man to the floor, mocking his attempts to get free and beating his face with sticks. She screamed, and then offered to call the police. That ended the sparring pretty quickly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Killer Dreams

Did I mention that I went home last weekend, and baked cookies and cupcakes for Obama? My mom had a migraine, it was awesome.

There's a story about my grandmother- how she had blood clots in her legs and was instructed not to move, lest they travel to her heart and kill her. She crawled down to the basement on her hands and knees to make sure my mother was doing laundry correctly. My mother was 17. Aha, we laugh at my grandmother, her need for control so strong she'd face deep discomfort and death before a pink undershirt.

Apparently that sort of psychosis requires more than one generation to work itself out of your family, because my mother would not let her mid-twenties daughter bake things from mixes. When this infirmity strikes me, I hope I display my lack of faith in underlings, not children.

Okay, so two weeks ago I led a group of people in pretending to be elves while wearing my evil daystar sunglasses and letting beta blockers dissolve under my tongue. Migraines do not really lead to rational thought. I can cut her some slack.

Also, my brother had a plastic baggie full of grayish herbs on his desk. I picked it up, turned it over, and said
"What is this, mugwort?" He nodded (It totally was just mugwort. It's not a code for anything else. It's in the Asteraceae- nothing fun ever came out of that family.)
"You've done the thing where you smoke it and get crazy dreams then?" he asked.
"I have never heard of such a thing. That sounds very unpleasant."
"Well then, how'd you know what it was?" There was a beat... "Oh yeah... Botanist..."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jane loves harassing salesmen.

So I've been shopping for a work truck. I need a little thing to rattle down the back roads of California, hopefully racking up the mileage monies. I coerced my father to go to a dealership with me- I know nothing about cars, and I've heard salesmen can be a wee bit sexist.

We bumped against a low priced SUV in insanely good shape, and were poking around it when a salesperson pounced. He expertly steered us away from the trade-in we were looking at, and chatted my dad over to the more expensive part of the lot. There was a lot of talking and a lot of ignoring me. He said that if I wanted an attractive car with good clearance, I should think about a Jeep. He mentioned that this one here was a particularly good deal.

"Oh my God!" I breathed, "Does the top come down? How's the sound system? Do you see how the headlights are round like the eyes on a horse?" The salesman beamed;
"Well, if Dad agrees, I think this might be just the car for you." The father figure's brow furrowed. He does not like Jeeps. I nodded enthusiastically.
"I have a couple of questions, actually. Just in general. Is this France?"
"Umm... No?"
"Is it currently 1945?"
"Then why (gratuitous Chinese) would I want to buy a Jeep?"

Now, ideally, he would have been flummoxed, and I would have gotten a great deal on the crummy of my dreams. But instead he went back to ignoring me, and kept diverting us away from test driving things in our price range. Next time I'm bringing a bat.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One of my coworkers was a voluble man- fueled by caffeine and white hot curiosity. We were driving through a tiny town and saw a sign outside a realtor's office: Free Coffee and Maps. This set off a long riff about the obvious trap to catch him, how his enemies had perfected their lure, and how he could be dangling upside down from the ceiling, swaying gently, still inquiring about his promised beverage and topo quads.

I feel sort of like that about the map room in the library. It's quiet (so blessedly quiet) and full of wonderful wonderful maps. Lovely quiet people greet me pleasantly, ask if I need help, and then say nothing for hours at a time. Sometimes they stop near me to show off a particularly interesting map. Also there are nooks and crannies and the internet does not work. It's like heaven.

Until today.

Some professor thought it would be nice if students could use library resources, so he gave his class a scavenger hunt. Twenty odd people breezed through the room, asking loudly about call numbers. I had to wait for a librarian! They kept making apologetic eye contact while whisking off to intercept another teenager intent on defiling a rare map.

Eventually, I formed an impromptu class on the basics of latitude and longitude, namely: they exist, they occur in degrees, and they are a way of finding a unique point on the globe. Eventually, I did their worksheet to make them go away. It was the only way to get someone to pull out the 1:100,000 geology maps.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I pray they haven't made it to my house.

I found one of the baby roaches in my coffee cup today, peaceably eating my old teabag.

At some point in the last year, I decided that I really should stop wearing shirts that display my belly. Unfortunately, I also became more squeemish; I find I can no longer navigate the American Apparal website without feeling nauseated. The easy solution is to buy from the men's side of the catalog, but I want my fitted tees.

I was washing out my cup with boiling water. The coworked next to the sink mentioned they were living in the office supplies drawer too.