Tag: humour

The Kill Switch.

kill switch

Such a loaded term, right? I love all of the potential hyperbole hidden in this simple phrase. A kill switch – as most of you know – is basically an emergency shut down. One single switch that aborts all operations. Immediately.

It came in pretty handy when one brilliant little tech-nerd discovered a kill switch in the software during the WannaCry ransomware attack in May of 2017 (sure, the evil hackers just fixed their flaw and went right on terrorizing the world – but finding that initial kill switch still slowed the spread and allowed the world to catch up and defend itself).

So kill switches are typically a safety measure. A good thing.

But what if it’s in your heart?

My maternal grandmother died of sudden cardiac death at 62. Then my mom died of sudden cardiac death at 67. And everyone knows that if something happens once, it’s merely anecdotal, but if it happens twice, it’s a pattern. (I just totally made that up, but it sounds believable, right?)

So there is the possibility that I managed to inherit a genetic kill switch. One hardwired to my heart that can be randomly triggered (sometime when I’m in my 60s and standing in my kitchen, apparently, based on historical evidence). Which would be a total bummer.

That’s a pretty lousy pattern to be next in line for. (By the way, can I tell you how much my husband *loves* it when I bring up this morbid topic?)

Now, I know, the fix seems simple. Find the kill switch. Disable it. But my mom went to a cardiologist *and* had a stress test ONE year before she died and got a clean bill of health. Which means this particular switch is a sneaky little bastard. And, thanks to an exceptionally lazy coroner who chalked her death up to “heart disease” (you know, minus the blockages, narrowed arteries, enlargement, etc.), we have no real clues as to where the damn switch might be hidden.

I turned 45 this year. So, I figure I’ve got about 20 years to find the kill switch hidden in my code and reprogram it so that it doesn’t randomly abort all operations, so to speak.

Piece of cake. I just have to hack my heart.

*NOTE*

Full disclosure, I wrote this post last fall and hadn’t posted it. Since then, my brother went to a particularly wily cardiologist that discovered a genetic defect in his heart resulting in a bi-valve in his aorta instead a tri-valve. Or something like that. My brother had open-heart surgery in January and they put in a titanium valve so now my brother audibly ticks and sets off metal detectors but he may have figured out the hack. Which spoiled this post. But saved his life. ❤

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I Think My Dog Has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Meet Jack and Sawyer. My head-case rescue dogs that I’ve had now for over nine years.

Jack & Sawyer

Well, they were head-cases. Now they are well-adjusted, borderline-friendly pups.

That’s Sawyer on the left. Sawyer is an ultra-sensitive, timid, attention whore. And I think he has OCD.

More than a year ago, my husband and I started waking up to our bathroom rugs being bunched up in a pile on the bathroom floor every morning. Every. Morning. Curious.

At bedtime, the rugs were laid out flat. Jack and Sawyer were curled up on the double-size dog bed on my side of the bed – like so:

Jack and Sawyer

(I know – super cute, right?)

Anyway, several months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of one of the boys getting up and going into the bathroom…and digging at the rug. By the light of my phone, I could see Jack, sleeping peacefully next to me. Then, once he’d completed his task, Sawyer ambled back to his bed, curled up, and went back to sleep.

Like nothing happened. Psycho.

Exhibit A:

rug

And, because, apparently he can’t sleep if he doesn’t mess up both rugs in the bathroom, Exhibit B:

rug 2

He wakes up in the dead of night, goes and messes up the rugs, and goes back to bed. Every single night.

So, the obvious question surrounding Sawyer’s nocturnal activities is WTF?

Is he dreaming that he’s making a daring prison escape? Does he hear termites in the foundation? Does he subscribe to Chaos Theory and feels the need to make a small, nightly gesture to his ideology?

Sigh. Alas, we may never know. Where’s Sarah Marshall when you need her?

Sarah Marshall Animal Instincts
Sarah Marshall in Animal Instincts

 

 

All’s Fair in Love and Book Reviews.

I read an article by an author who said never – never – read reviews of your book online.

Okay, but did he mean like never ever? Or just kind of never? Because never seems sort of impossible, right? (For a slightly neurotic, first-time author like me it proved to be, anyway.)

And I looked. That’s right. I read them all.

Here’s the funny thing about reviews of your book – a good review makes you smile and puts a spring in your step. For about a day.

A bad review is like that popcorn kernel that gets stuck between your tooth and gum that you can’t seem to dislodge no matter how hard you try…because the popcorn kernel is in your soul. Giving you something to poke at late at night when you’re trying to sleep.

So even though there are substantially more good reviews out there, the few bad ones are the ones that got under my skin. Which is probably why that author said DO NOT READ THEM! A-ha. If only I had the ability to listen to sage advice when it is presented to me.

Oh well. Some of the good ones make it all worth while.

Lisa over at LostInLit called it “Hilarious, Witty and Quite Charming.” And Lisa (I know – I’m winning with ‘Lisas”!) over at LisaLovesLiterature gave it 5 stars! And Becky on Goodreads said I “hit it out of the park!” Megan over at ReadingBooksLikeaBoss added me to her “Book Recommendations” tab! And then I found this young woman who goes by The Lone Reader who did a very funny and enthusiastic video blog about it. If I can make anyone rattle on that fast about my book, I certainly should be able to overlook a few naysayers.

So if *you* have read my book – and liked it – please leave me a review 🙂  (And I’ll try to keep myself from reading it). If you read it and didn’t like it – my name is spelled N-i-c-h-o-l-a-s-S-p-a-r-k-s. Be sure to get that part right.

 

So, This Happened.

Galley Cover

Just like that. I have a title. And a cover. And a description that is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster in that it’s partially my original story pitch and partly what “they” came up with (whoever “they” are that tinker with these things at the publishing houses).

So, sure, it felt pretty real when I got the deal. And it felt a little more real when I signed the contracts. And then it felt realer still when I got that first advance check.

But, I must say, this sort of hit a new level of “oh my god – this is really happening!” Which is a pretty good level.

And, about the time the actual book cover showed up on my publisher’s website (Forge is part of Macmillan), it showed up for PRE-ORDER on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and even popped up on Goodreads!

Oh – and I now have my official release date: January 10, 2017.

So, I’m gonna ride this high until I get my copies of the galley (Advance Reading Copies) and am actually holding a copy of my book in my hands and then I’ll write a post about how that’s the realest real yet! I know. You can hardly wait.

Look at it this way…I’ll probably be a lot cooler on my next go-round. But this time? I’m gonna enjoy every, little, teeny, tiny step. Because it took about 15 years to get here 😉

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Breakdown.

Well, mini breakdown.

So, here’s the thing. In the beginning, everyone expects you to be a mess.

Then, a few months later, everyone understands when you’re a mess.

But nine months in – people seem a little caught off guard when you’re a mess.

So, by nine months, you’ve got this internalization thing going where you save most of your tears for bedtime and you’ve mastered having quiet, undetectable mini meltdowns.

And it’s all well and good except that with all this internalization comes detachment. You wind up feeling removed, distant, isolated (and a fan of synonyms, apparently). You feel less and care less because you’re watching everything from a distance.

I have a problem with this because I typically care about freaking everything. What people think. How people feel.

But now? Meh.

But I’m sure it’s just a phase and I’ll get back to my normal, overly-excitable, impassioned self. Eventually.

But for now – I’m Pluto. Downgraded, distant and disenfranchised.

pluto-new-horizons-july-2015

Anyone else think it’s interesting that Pluto has a big ol’ heart on it? Makes you feel kinda bad for downgrading it to a dwarf planet, huh? Because Planet Dwarfism is no laughing matter. Icy Dwarf Planets need love too.

The True Meaning of “Every Day.”

I feel like “every day” is an overused expression. As in, “I could eat pizza every day.” Or “I’m pretty sure I’m gaining weight every day.” Or “he gets on my nerves every day.” We don’t really mean every day. We mean a lot of days. Enough days to be significant. But not literally “every” day.

The reason this has occurred to me is because there is one instance when it is entirely accurate but its overuse has sort of watered-down the phrase. Because when you lose one of the most important people in your world and you say that you miss them every day, you mean every. day.

My mom died 238 days ago. And I have missed her every. day.

Some days its more like several glancing blows throughout the day and you just keep moving. Other days it settles in to your bones and you wear it like a lead cloak throughout the day.

But the point is that it is every day. No days off for good behavior. Every day. Not a lot of days or enough days to be significant. Every. Fucking. Day. For 238 days and counting.

Oh, and by the way, don’t give me that dirty look for posting something sad on a Monday. It’s Monday. It was going to suck anyway.

For Jenny (and Rory, Too).

This post is for Jenny Lawson. If you follow her blog, it will make perfect sense. If you don’t, go there, get caught up on the last few years, and then come back.

furiously-happyDear Jenny,

I was reading your post last night about taking Rory to visit fun and exotic places and I thought, Hey! He can visit my blog. Sure, it’s no sandy beach, but we do have beer and we won’t mind if he sheds.

So I’ve been following you for some time and wanted to share with you my own furiously happy story.

I’ve had some dark and twisty times in my life but I had come out the other side and I think I was legitimately furiously happy. You know, more than anyone has a right to be. And then about 7 months ago, my mama died…and she was kind of my everything.

And then I wasn’t furiously happy anymore.

I’ve been anxious and moody. Furiously sad at times. And sometimes just furious (because when your mom just turned 67 and is the picture of health, you’re allowed to be angry when her heart suddenly stops for no good reason).

And I read all of your posts and I realized that your own roller coaster ride has been giving you more downs than ups lately, and I can relate. And we seem to be on this journey to be whole.

But, you know what? I’m not whole and I never will be again. Because, basically, I’m a three-legged dog.

But I realized…I’ve seen some pretty fucking happy three-legged dogs. I can’t tell if they forgot they had a leg there, or if they remember but are just so stoked to still have enough legs to allow them to run and chase balls that they are willing to overlook what’s missing.

Baron

This is a picture of my friend’s three-legged dog (used without permission – sorry, Mike). Anyway, pretty sure he’s my spirit animal.

Either way, they seem furiously happy. And that’s my goal: To be a furiously happy, three-legged dog.

And thanks for leading this merry band of misfits. ❤

You Can Lead a Horse to Wine, but You Can’t Make Him Write a Novel.

Lead a Horse to WaterI’ve been thinking about motivation and the thought occurred to me that perhaps if I only allowed myself wine *when I was writing* – I’d get this next book knocked out PDQ. (That means “pretty damn quick,” for you laymen out there.) But, then again, that would require discipline. And self-control. And saying no to wine. Plus, I have about another 40,000 words to go. And that might be a lot of wine.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I googled “wine” and “horses” (don’t act like you’ve never done that) and I got that dandy picture above. But I also found this:

Horse bottle holderWhich seems kind of inappropriate. But, I actually have this bottle holder except that mine is a moose. Now, I’m not sure if it is the horse that makes it look pornographic, or if I’ve been in denial about the fact that my moose appears to be getting raped by a wine bottle, too. And maybe Steve wasn’t being a pervert when he told me what it looked like my moose was up to.

I linked the picture to a store where you can buy your very own so that if you felt like the only thing missing from your life was a horse deep-throating a bottle of wine – your life can now be complete.

From Hell’s Heart, I Stab at Thee…Fed Loan Servicing.

Khan I would like to claim I knew that line was from Moby Dick…but I just knew it from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. But, in my defense, The Wrath of Khan was way better than Moby Dick.

But that’s beside the point. My current source of wrath is my law school student loans.

It could be that they are more than six figures.

It could be that I’m paying over 7% interest on them. (Thanks, Government! We love your commitment to higher learning! Even though my student loan interest rate is nearly double my mortgage interest rate, you assholes.)

But, truly, the current source of my fury is the Morlocks working for Fed Loan Servicing.

So, here’s the thing.

I signed up for automatic withdrawal for my student loans (so I could save that *amazing* 1/4% interest rate!). They say “keep making your payments – it could take a couple of months for this to get set up. We’ll let you know.” Total lies. They do NOT let you know.

Consequently, I made my NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIVE DOLLAR student loan payment on MAY 29. But guess what?? They set up my automatic withdrawal (without telling me!) and so on JUNE 4 (6 DAYS LATER), they took ANOTHER $935. Seriously. Six days later. Oopsie. Bastards.

So, I called. They said “Sorry.” Then they said, “How about we credit this toward July?” Grrr, but ok.

Then I got a notice from Fed Loan Servicing saying, “Your next automatic withdrawal will be July 4.” What? You’re supposed to skip a month.

So I called. They said “Sorry.” Then they said, “No really; we really have it set NOT to take another $935 for July.” Okay. Dubious, but I’ll take the leap of faith.

Then I got a bill saying, “No automatic withdrawal this month so be sure to make your payment!” No. It can’t be. How many Fed Loan Servicing agents does it take to screw up one correction? Turns out, one more than I had talked to.

So I checked my online account.

DELINQUENT.

Rage. White-hot, blinding, whiskey-drinking, rage. I shit you not. They never bothered to apply that extra payment forward – they just suspended the automatic payment for a month.

So I called. They said “Sorry.”

I said, “From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; for hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee!” Okay. Not really. But I did tell him they were making me crazy. In a very sarcastic, hopefully day-ruining, tone of voice.

P.S.

In case I stumped you on the “Morlocks” thing – I direct you to a photo of the night-dwelling, cannibalistic Morlocks from the 1960 classic, “The Time Machine.” Morlocks And now your life is complete.

The Fairy Tale Law Firm – Warning: This Warning May Cause Cancer.

the fairy tale law firm

Long, long ago in a far-away, entirely fictional kingdom called California, there was a lord called ShortSightedLawmakers. This lord really liked to hear himself talk so he summoned his barrister – assuming she’d enjoy listening to him talk about stupid crap as well – and went for an inspection of his kingdom.

Lord ShortSightedLawmakers stopped in many storefronts as he passed through the villages.

“Lady Barrister,” he said, “I am very concerned by some of the compounds being used by the shopkeepers.”

“Such as what, My Lord?”

“Well, the tannery uses tannin.”

“Yes, I believe it is necessary to their work.”

“But I believe it causes cancer. People have a right to know when they are exposing themselves to such dangerous chemicals. I think they should be required to post such a warning.” (I know. This is sounding vaguely familiar.)

“Well, My Lord, I suppose I understand your concern, but how would it be enforced? Our law enforcement officials are overburdened as it is. I’m not sure we could expect them to police tanneries as well – simply to see if they are displaying proper signage.”

“Not just tanneries,” he bellowed. “Any vendor that utilizes frog’s legs! Or aspirin! Or lye!”

“My Lord, are you certain all of those cause cancer?”

“No!” But I’m not certain they don’t! And salt! I don’t think that’s good for you, either! And vinegar! Because I don’t like the smell. And there is something sinister about tea leaves!” And the Lord rambled on and on, naming chemicals he felt were vaguely threatening in some way.

The barrister sighed. “Again, My Lord, I do not see how we can put enforcement of such a law on the shoulders of our law enforcement officials.”

“Then we’ll let the people enforce it!” (Perfect. What could possibly go wrong?)

Lady Barrister’s mouth hung open a moment. “But, My Lord, doesn’t it seem that there are greedy, unscrupulous, self-serving, sleazy individuals that would exploit such a law to the detriment of poor business-owners who do not realize they are violating the law?”

“Nonsense. It will work.”

So the law was passed. And money-grubbing barristers all over the kingdom learned how to exploit the law, finding plaintiffs they could sue on behalf of and bringing lawsuits against business-owners who had no notion that they had done anything wrong. And they sued their pants off –  despite the fact that the “plaintiffs” in those cases had never been harmed by any chemical found at the business. And those “plaintiffs” and barristers made mountains and mountains of gold and business-owners were afraid and so started posting signs in every store stating that they *might* use chemicals that *might* cause cancer, simply to avoid being prey to such a lawsuit.

And all of the people Lord ShortSightedLawmakers intended to protect with his warnings, found the signs, which were now freaking everywhere, utterly useless because (a) they were EVERYWHERE (like I said), and (b) they didn’t know what the chemicals were, how much they were exposed to, or whether they even were actually harmful! Add to this the fact that the lord’s list, which initially had a few chemicals on it when he started, ended up with HUNDREDS of chemicals on it.

So, there are two morals to this story. The first, life causes cancer. Seriously. (Okay, to better illustrate – when you roast coffee beans, a side effect of the roasting process creates acrylamide – all on its own! Not man-made. Just by roasting those little bad boys. And acrylamide is on the list. Consequently, every friggin coffee company YOU know has been sued. So, next time you go into Starbucks, enjoy your warning sign. I’m sure you all stopped drinking coffee as soon as you saw that oh-so-important sign informing you that your coffee may cause cancer (if you drink 37 cups a day, 7 days a week for the next 18 years).)

Oops. Forgot I was at the “Fairy Tale Law Firm.”

Okay, second moral to this story: please, for the love of all that is holy, read laws BEFORE you vote for them. You need to consider more than whether a law would be “a good idea.” Does it have an enforcement vehicle that actually works? Because bounty hunter clauses are making asshole plaintiffs and asshole attorneys into millionaires. And I doubt that was part of what you thought was “a good idea” when you marked your ballot.

Okay. I’m off my soap box. Sorry about that. And not to make this post overly educational, but here is a link to the California Attorney General’s record of Prop 65 lawsuits for 2013 – in case you thought I was exaggerating. 73% of all amounts recovered under these lawsuits went to the attorneys! I’d like to take a moment to thank those attorneys for furthering the stereotype that lawyers are basically bottom-feeding scumbags 🙂  Thanks, guys!

By the way. WARNING: This blog may contain chemicals known to the kingdom of California to cause cancer or other reproductive harm.