Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I drove down to Dahlgren, VA two weeks ago for a series of meetings. I tried to blog about it that night, but, I was having issues with the internet. Dahlgren is a NAVSEA Weapons Testing Laboratory about an hour and a half south
of DC, and by golly I made it to the base with twenty minutes to spare before the meeting started. AND, I only had to call
Dan for directions once. It is also notable that I made it there at all, as I had only had my car for less than a week at that point, and had been driving a stick mildly successfully for just a handful of days.

I started driving around the base, searching for my building. The base is huge, and largely deserted. Also, most roads on the base are not on the visitor map I printed before leaving work the night before. I pass an airstrip on the right, not quite perpendicular to the road. The end of the runway is 15, maybe 20 feet from where I am. There's a sign right before I pass that says "WHEN LIGHTS FLASHING, DO NOT ENTER. LOW FLYING AIRCRAFT." I drove really quickly past the runway, like I do over railroad tracks, just in case. Would getting hit by an airplane be covered under the comprehensive or collision sections of my insurance policy?

After getting lost, and pulling some u-turns, and irritating some people who clearly knew where they were going, I found the road I needed to be on. Only problem was the sign saying "ROAD CLOSED WHEN LIGHTS FLASHING FOR WEAPONS TESTING." The lights were flashing.

I thought, "Hmmm....really? That CAN'T be real. Don't they do that out in, say, Utah? Maybe they did it here back in WWII, and besides, this is the only route I know to get to the building. I'm sure if they're really blowing things up that there will be a guard, or gate, or something to stop me." I kept going, ignoring the fact that obviously you're expected to take care of your own damn self here, given that it's your own damn fault if you get hit by an AIRPLANE.

At the next flashing "ROAD CLOSED" sign my self-preservation instinct kicked in, and I turned around. I went back to pulling u-turns, grinding my gears, and looking nervously at my clock as now I only had a few minutes to get to the meeting.

Then I heard the explosion.

Let's just say I'm glad I got the hell outta dodge back there.

So I finally find the building, and the conference room, and settle in for several hours of boredom. One of the meetings I had to sit through was a team's brief on a newly developed weapons system. I was distracted, though, and had trouble focusing on the number of rounds required for given lethality levels by the guy's large-print-and-very-prominently-displayed "WWJD?" lanyard.

Seriously?! What do you tell your kids in the morning? "OK, Jimmy. I know Bobby is a bully, but make sure you turn the other cheek. I'm going to work now to build better weapons so we can KILL MORE TERRORISTS! What's for dinner tonight, honey?"

I don't get to church a whole lot, but I'm pretty sure Jesus was a carpenter....not a combat systems engineer.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Long time without posting. I want to blame a sad combination of Google, Safari, and Firefox's refusal to download, but odds are it was my own damn fault, so, never mind.

I broke up with 24 today. We've had a tumultuous courtship at best, and it's just not working for me. I've remained committed and faithful, as I've never missed an episode, but I just can't do it. 24 just keeps yanking at my emotions and pushing every button I have, and it's time to end things. It's not because there's another show in that time slot in my life -- although L&O is on then, and we all know I love me some Law & Order -- but I just needed some time to myself.

In all seriousness, I can't take it anymore. I get stressed out enough by my own daily life sans terrorists, bombs, and CTU, and I don't need some producer making up awfulness to sell to me as "entertainment." Because I don't get entertained, I get anxious, and I worry, and I realized today that watching fake murders and fake torture and fake criminals on fake campaigns to murder as many fake innocent people as possible is not how I want to spend my time.

Not when you can see that happening on the news to real people with real lives and real families who love them and never got a chance to say goodbye.

To everyone affected by today's tragedy....I don't even know what to say. I'm thinking about you.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I've always been a fan of John Hodgeman ("I'm a PC"), but it has just been elevated to a whole new level. He wrote a book! And in that book is a section on hoboes, including SEVEN HUNDRED hobo names.

His website is maybe the greatest thing I've found on the Internet in years. The audio site (him reading ALL 700 names) is hysterical. (yes, I listened to the full hour, and am doing it again as I type). Plus, it turned into an internet-illustration project, and there are hundred of illustrations for all the hoboes now.

If you remain unconvinced, here are a few of my favorites:

#153: Slo-Mo Deuteronomy

#173: McGurk, Who May Be Found by the Card Catalogue

#399: Applebee O'Bennigan McFridays

#443: Hondo "Whatever That Lizard Is That Walks on Water"

#547: Myron Biscuitspear, the Dumpster Archeologist

Areas of my Expertise is definitely next on my reading list. In other news, I'm officially changing my name to "Packrat Red and and [her] Cart o' Sad Crap."

Stand by.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Nazis had pieces of flair they made the Jews wear...

I'm pretty lame.

So I thought it would be a good idea if maybe once a month signing out a company conference room and showing a movie on the projector would be a good idea. At least, it wouldn't be a BAD idea. We could order pizza, even. And since roughly half the company is about my age, and a lot of them are also new to the area it would be a nice way for the younger, unmarried/childless people to hang out.

We'll ignore the fact that a lot of them aren't people I really want to spend time with. But that's the beauty of watching a movie -- I can pretend to be social without actually having to talk to anyone.

Since this is the first real job for most of us younguns, obviously the most appropriate movie to wach is Office Space. Plus, Skunk Nut hasn't seen it!

So I mentioned the idea to Boss, who thought it was awesome, and promised to go ask HIS boss (Boss^2?) if it would be ok to "misappropriate company equipment to watch R-rated movies." Boss even got excited about having beer, too! I suggested checking ids at the door and not letting anyone over 40 in.

Boss^2 liked the idea. His major concern, however, was what movie we wanted to watch. This is extra funny because he probably embodies the management in Office Space better than anyone else I work for/with. But he generously offered to loan Boss and I a movie to watch if we hadn't picked one out already:

"Well, if you would like to borrow it, I just ordered a video from the Discovery Channel. It's a very interesting documentary on Destroyers."

Props to Boss for saving the situation with, "Uh, well, I think that people would want to get paid if we showed that one."

Monday, March 5, 2007

Packaging Issues

When I was in California, I ordered the pirate badge holder from ThinkGeek.

It arrived last week....in a box roughly the size of the one my tiny jewelry chain came in last month. The badge holder was occupying one tiny section of one corner of the enormous, multi-document sized box.

Seriously? I don't remember what the shipping cost for this thing was, but....I'm pretty sure a padded envelope would have sufficed. Regardless, at the end of the day, I still love ThinkGeek and their stuff. I just wish their shipping division would ThinkGeek a little less and ThinkEconomical a little bit more.

The bigger question is: why do I keep getting mailed tiny things in huge boxes? I ordered Quicken2007 from Amazon this weekend....will it arrive in a refrigerator box? Actually, that'd be neat. Then I could build a fort in my living room.

My living room isn't much bigger than a refrigerator box. [I'm exaggerating a bit.]

I miss the days of refrigerator box forts/submarines/spaceships, though. I should turn my whole apartment into a giant box-fort-tribute. I can paint my living room a dull brown, with faint stripes to make it look corrugated, and use crayola markers to draw dials and guages and buttons. And I could stick things in the drywall to approximate levers and steering wheels, etc. That would be pretty neat, except the living room is too well lit to be a TRUE box fort. Back then, it didn't really matter what awesome controls and panels you drew inside, because really, you couldn't see them anyway.

A box fort apartment would be fun. And it would make all the jokes I used to make about living in a cardboard box after graduation a lot funnier.

Monday, February 19, 2007

crooning raccoons

Jon and I played a version of the Google Snake Game last night. Here are the strings we found that return absolutely no results....until my blog gets linked to something and this page is returned. But: WHY did it take that many weird words to get no results?? And why are there so many websites with just thousands of dictionary words?

Mostly we just thought the search strings were frickin hilarious. Enjoy.

area51 secret tortoise alien yogurt book swingset california beer anchovies mug paint basement bodies saxaphone fuck savings holdings utterance admonishment

freeman fern fez fermentation foley fantastic fabulous fricassee fenestration froude freud feet fart fiji frink falmouth penis

croon raccoon racketeer monsoon sooners husk preparatory hemorrhoid allometric viscoelastic frontier pretense privations libations masturbation dessication

abracadabra boundless cacophony deciduous effervescent futile gargantuan hermetically indigo jerusalem kringle lozenge megan nanotechnology octopus pluralistic quagmire redundancy stalin totalitarianism uppity vulva wombat xylum

Your search - puma olfactory seakeeping reductant recalcitrant rectilinear deliverance twinkie - did not match any documents.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


1) Watching movies with sex scenes while sitting next to elderly male strangers on a bus is awkward.

2) Despite making it from NYC to Bethesda in 3.5 hours while the bus driver yakked away on her cell phone (not hands-free, either), I didn't fear for my life at all. Although, she did talk louder than the movie we were watching.

3) Skunk Nut and I realized that the Important Daily Conference Call at three o'clock is a GREAT time to goof off, since Boss, Boss Jr., and their bosses all have to participate. Therefore, we're guaranteed to be unsupervised for at least half an hour. Today he threw food at me and I tried to catch it in my mouth (goldfish work much better than pretzel sticks). Yesterday we threw a squishy ball from some vendor at the wall between us and TweedleDee and TweedleDum.

4) When we get our new office mate at the end of the week, we're going to have to start behaving. :(

Quote of the Week: "I'm not down with squeezing them and sucking the heads." - Boss, on eating crawdads.