Saturday, June 16, 2018


I haven't been strolling around Washington Park in Denver in a long time, but I remember the last time.  I got mugged.  It was quite traumatic.

Really, the squirrels there are a bunch of thugs!  I guess they're so used to being fed by park-goers that if you walk on by them without throwing some food - and lots of it - there's hell to pay.

When I saw this week's prompt at Illustration Friday is "squirrel", I had an anxiety moment remembering that mugging.

But then I was able to shift my thoughts to several years prior when one of the Christmas gifts I received was simply a small grey stuffed squirrel toy from my mom.  I don't remember how old I was, but I remember that I was old enough to almost be too old for stuffed animals.

I asked my mom about its significance, and she said, "I dunno, I just like squirrels".  And probably because of that, I've kept that little stuffed squirrel for a long time.

Squirrels are not that common in the Philippines where my mom grew up, and I remember that she pronounced it funny.  Where I say "squirl", she pronounced it more like "squeer-el"

I thought her strange pronunciation was her Philippine accent kicking in, but I have since learned that the word is pronounced my mom's way in the UK and Australia.  So maybe it's us Americans who can't say it properly.

All this to say that I prefer toy "squirls" to live ones these days.  But maybe the ones in the park have mellowed since my last visit.  After all, that was before the legalization of recreational marijuana.

As I was making this drawing and having these banal thoughts, it occurred to me that my small  tortillon looks much like a marijuana joint.

So, are the squirrels nicer now?  Or have their munchies gotten worse?

And how should we pronounce... that word?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

would YOU do it?

Magnum was telling me about some accelerated life testing they have going on at his work.  He referred to it as "the Monster's Inc. setup".

Magnum designs door locks.  That may sound pretty mundane, but just take a moment to think about the abundance of door locks you encounter on a regular basis - residences, schools, museums, hospitals, senior living facilities (right, Joey?), etc...  And they have to work properly.

Actually, they're kind of like shoes.  You don't really take notice of them unless they cause pain... or unless you design them.

So back to Monster's Inc. life testing.  I haven't seen it, but Magnum describes it as a large room with 10 different doors, each with a unique lock.  The locks are put through rigorous testing on fixtures, but this particular life test uses Real. Live. Humans. Oh. My. God.

These humans must walk through each door by actuating the doorlock.  They must do this all day.  They must walk through those ten doors, each with different locks, over and over and over.

They've brought in workers from a temp agency who are paid, I think, $12/hr, and if they last for something like two weeks, they'll get 6-month temp jobs in the factory.  No degree, certification, or experience is required.  They just have to be able to open doors.  All day.

I can't even.

I told Magnum that it sounds like hell as he told me about the number of temps that dropped out after about an hour.

"They can wear earbuds.  They can take breaks as needed...", he went on.  I should note that this test was not his idea.

"It sounds more like a psychological test than a door lock test to me", I observed, and I'm not kidding.

They want around 50,000 actuations per lock.  Magnum doesn't think they're going to make it.  I'm trying to picture this room with people walking around in large circles as they open ten different doors.  They can't even daydream because they have to know what to do at each door - some they turn, some have a lever to push, some have a button to push or twist...

But, he says a couple of the "lock walkers" are still going strong, with smiles on their faces no less.

"Maybe we should have exit interviews when people drop out", he pondered.

"Heck, I'd be more interested in interviewing the people who stay!  Those there are the anomalies!", I said.

Would YOU do it?  What would it take?

Linking up this week with Mama Kat for the prompt:
2. Tell us about the last time you broke a sweat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

the shape of water?

He left me.  After all this time.  He just up and... left.

We had our usual time together earlier that morning. He was happy to see me as always.  Nothing seemed any different.  But then a few hours later, gone.

It's weird.  In  many ways, I disliked him, I resented him.  But these past several months, I guess since he was all alone and completely dependent on me, we bonded.  That no name fish.  I found his body sucked up against the filter intake.

See him?  Dangling there and looking rather pornographic?

Readers who have followed along know the story of the fish tank apocalypse, the "Apocalarium" as it came to be known.  In summary, I had a thriving freshwater community aquarium.  It included a few different species of fish, a happy little snail, and several thriving live plants.  Until that fateful day...

I brought home friendly (NOT) fish that typically do well in such an aquarium as mine.  Over the course of about a week, one by one, all of the other fish died.

But hey, at least the plants continued to look good... Well, until we went away for a couple of days and the monster fish totally ignored the food cube I left and devoured all my plants instead.

Not wanting to risk harm to any other creatures, I let the fish tank become a cold, desolate, bubbly thing.  That environment only seemed to help those monsters thrive all the more as they lived longer than any fish on record (might be an exaggeration, but not by much!).  I don't even remember how long we had them, but they were eventually eligible to be considered "ancient".

But even they couldn't last forever, and at last, there was just the one remaining in cold isolation.  But damn if that last guy didn't plan to live forever!

I dunno, I think at some point, I gave up on the idea of getting the tank back.  It seemed like we would forever have this relationship - him in the lifeless tank, me caring for and feeding the monster.

But alas, now he's gone.  And I remember those who went before.  His victims:  Fin, Gil, Rubberlips, Donatello, Gary...

Rest in Peace, no-name monster fish.

I never hated you.

Sunday, June 10, 2018


๐ŸดWhat the heck's a furlong?  I learned that a furlong is an eighth of  a mile.

The Kentucky Derby is 10 furlongs, the Preakness Stakes is 9.5, the Belmont Stakes is 12.  The rare horse that wins all three earns the Triple Crown.  Did you watch?  Yesterday?  Justify was a contender, and he got it.  He has never ever ever not won a race.  What is that even like? ๐Ÿ†

I don't know why I care.  I don't care to watch most professional sports.  I don't gamble.  I don't own all or part of a racehorse.  I've never even been to a live horse race even though there was a popular track near the town where I grew up.  But I just love to watch them race.  It's beauty and power and grace and speed all in one. And it only lasts about two minutes.  I've got other things to do... ⏰

So I was emotional tuning into the race yesterday.  Justify looked so calm making his way to the gate while my own heart was pounding. ๐Ÿ’“  Another day at the office for him.  He ran a beautiful race, led the whole way, and won the Triple Crown.  Of course he was calm.  I think he knows what a badass he is. ๐Ÿ’ช

The prompt at Illustration Friday this week is "emoji", so even though I'm not much into the cartoony stuff, I drew this Justify emoji.

Looks just like him?

This weekend was also the Colorado State P.E.O. Convention .  I was not a delegate this year, and I was all the more glad for that so I was able to watch the win.  At least I stopped by convention in Denver for a while to check out a few things and get some memorabilia for our scholarship recipient๐ŸŽ“.   I went into the convention boutique to see what was for sale this year.  I really went in to visit with some other P.E.O.'s  and to kill some time while I was waiting to meet up with Susan.

But these earrings were calling to me.  So much for just killing some time.  I realized I "needed" them.๐Ÿ’Ž

Susan showed up wearing a pair too.  The jewelry was hot this year

Well... it's charity. ๐Ÿ’ธ⭐

Thursday, June 7, 2018

final daze

Aaaaah, the last day of school.  Remember?  Going to school in shorts, shades, and flip flops because... who cares?  No tests, no assignments.  Really, just a day to clean out the lockers and then get it on to summer break.  Even the teachers... or maybe especially the teachers... are all relaxed and smiley and all, "Have a great summer! *smartasses*"

Admittedly, when I was a school kid, I didn't really stop to think about... The Lunch Ladies.

But this past semester, I did a part-time stint as exactly that - a lunch lady.  Specifically, I took a job with the company that contracts food service to various local school districts, hospitals, and retirement communities.  I worked in a middle school kitchen, and middle schoolers really cover a wide range of adolescence!  Anywhere from looking and acting like they're about 10 years old to resembling college frat boys and sorority girls.  I got quite a kick out of the contrasts.

And to go along with that hormonal smorgasbord, school lunch is not anything like what I remember.  The school where I worked had seven different lines to choose from, and four of those lines included three options within, making for a total of - go on, do the math - 15 selections for lunch!  Sixteen if you count the "nothing" option.

In the end however, school food service is a business.  There are regulations to follow and costs to control.  As the end of the school year approached, we were hyper aware of our inventory.  It was a fun challenge to manage the various items so that we would have enough to serve on that last day, but with near to nothing left to store or throw out.

Additionally, there is that thrill of knowing a long break is coming, to which lunch ladies are most certainly not immune.  So a mentality of "get rid of everything!" combined with "We're outta here!" seems like a lunch recipe for:

Luckily,  there were no such lunch ladies in our kitchen.  Some could be rough around the edges at times, but in the end, there was pride in the final product.

Our supervisor, Gayle, probably had the roughest edges of the bunch.  She's a self-proclaimed "Italian rebel from Chicago" who's trained in culinary arts and somewhat underutilized as a school lunch lady.  But hey, you can't beat the hours.

In the final week of school, as we were tasked to "get rid of the inventory", Gayle tunneled into the cooler and later emerged with various bags, cans, bottles, etc.  determined to create something that would sell and never be seen again.

With her Pvt-Vasquez-From-Aliens poise, she went to work

After several minutes, I heard, "Well?  Whaddya think?"

I turned to see these precious little desserts. THAT from the hodgepodge mess of ingredients sitting lonely about the cooler?

And I said, "Wait!  Lemme take a photo!"

And it's a good thing I did get a photo of this batch, because there is no other evidence that these things ever existed.

They literally nearly started a lunch room riot because there weren't enough for everyone who wanted one.

Better luck next year.

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the prompt:
3. Share your last day of school plans/recap.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


Do you have informed delivery from the US Postal Service?  I do!  It's a helpful thing!

Each day we have mail on the truck, I get an email letting me know what's coming.  It even includes a scanned image of each piece of mail. That way I know to freak out if something doesn't show up, and it also allows me to fret over how often stuff goes missing. 

I can click a link to let the USPS know if something didn't arrive.  I've done that a couple of times.  Nothing further happened, but I had the satisfaction of clicking the link. 

There was one instance, however, when a package went missing.  Magnum ordered something online, and we got an alert saying that it was delivered to the mailbox.  Turns out it wasn't.  The product itself was a minor thing, but it bothered me that we didn't get it when the post office said we did. 

Magnum, a.k.a. worst-case-scenario man, immediately surmised that low life hoodlums had stolen it from the mailbox while leaving all the other mail intact.  I held out on the hopes that the package had just been misdelivered - as has been known to  happen all too often. 

I went to our online USPS account and reported the missing package.  The next day, I surprisingly got a call from a real person!  She was quite friendly, and not in a fake kind of way.  Apparently, it's her job to train mail carriers and punish them soundly when they deliver things to wrong addresses. 

She assured me they were working to track down the package and sincerely apologized while adding, "Oh well, job security I suppose!"

The postal service never found it, but that's because our non-hoodlum neighbor who'd accidentally received it just did the job for them by bringing it to our house. 

So where was I?  Oh yes, informed delivery.  It's a good thing. 

This morning, I opened my email to see this lovely image:

Well... crapola.  If it gets lost, can I pretend I never knew?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

ugly is in the eye of the beholder

There's a quaint duck pond not far from where we live.  Magnum and I walk passed it regularly on our old folks' walks.  It's where the goose families live.  It's where kids take their prom photos. It's where Meego crashed his bicycle that time he discovered the low coefficient of friction of fresh goose poop after a rain.  It's a fave little neighborhood spot as the pond also contains fish, and cute little kids go there hoping to catch one.

During one recent jaunt, we spotted this guy:

He stood out because he looks so different from the typical population of mallards - large and spotted with a red face and bumpy thing on his nose/beak.  Not being a duck expert, I wondered if he was another breed of duck or some sort of mutant.

I tried to learn about his differentness and googled "big duck" images in hopes of tracking it down.  That led mostly to...

Uhm.... no.

So I mentioned to Magnum that I couldn't yet find out the deal with that duck (which I have since learned is the term for females.  Males are drakes).  He punched something into his phone, and in a couple of seconds said,

"It's a Muscovy duck".

I looked at his phone to see a whole bunch of images similar to the big lumbering thing at the pond.

I was all, "What did you search on??"

And he said, "'Ugly duck', why what did you search on?"

"'Ugly duck didn't seem very nice, so I searched on 'big duck'"  (Note:  be careful of typos when doing a search on "Big Duck"...)

Besides, I really don't think Mr. Muscovy is ugly.  He's sort of big and badass looking really.  To me, anyways. And I learned that they make for nice pets and don't quack-quack-quack like mallards.  I wonder if he's an escapee from someone's property as Muscovies are not typically native to Colorado.

I guess we'll never know.  He's not talking.

Saturday, June 2, 2018


It's June and everything's getting greener.  Or at least it's supposed to.  We had a relatively dry winter around here, and the grass is struggling to green up, but it's coming along.  The weeds are making up for it, though.

"Green" is also the prompt for Illustration Friday this week, so I drew this green bearded dragon.  I think I'll name him Mort.

I actually just drew a nongreen bearded dragon in the pocket moleskine and then did a quick digital green cheat - to turn him into the Hulk? 

Friday, June 1, 2018

what'd I miss?

Confession:  I've never lived in a dorm.

Yes, like Plankton, I went to college.  But I lived at home with my parents during my freshman year, and by the time I transferred to the university, I was already living off-campus. I wonder, did I miss much?

I still went through a gamut of roommates, including two foreign exchangers - one from France, one from Japan.  I still had a good dose of roommate drama, including one roommate's untimely pregnancy.  I still had other people's messes to clean up and props that barely passed as furniture.  I still dealt with drunk antics from similarly off-campus living neighbor students.  I still dealt with roommate boyfriend varieties.

But I never had dorm food nor communal showers.  No awkward aftermath from ending a relationship with a fellow hall dweller.

On Tuesday, we went on a campus tour of Meego's college of choice.  In fact, he's already enrolled, we're just a bit late in touring the place - scheduling, y'know?  We knew enough about the university already, the tour was merely added information.

As expected, it's a lovely campus, and our tour guide was bubbly and positive as every "student ambassador" I've ever met is. Everything is "awesome".

The dorms were similar to what I've seen before and to what Chaco and Wolfgang lived in as freshmen.  Quite tiny, but functional.

Maybe they're sparse so that students don't spend a whole lot of time there?  Plus, it cuts down on mess potential? As I recall, I wasn't home much during my college days.  Pretty much everything I needed was on campus, except for maybe a change of clothes.

So I don't feel I missed much.  Probably best that I don't know what I don't know.


Linking up with Mama Kat for the prompt:
1. Share a college memory.