Trouble in System Telco Line 1 

It was supposed to be a casual, NSA thing, when Madison met the fire alarm system that had trouble in telco line 1.  

Still a fondness, an infatuation quickly grew between them. In some ways they couldn't be more different. One a living, breathing human being. The other an alarm system for the fire suppression system. Still, they had common interests. Like fire safety. The alarm system wanted everyone to know when the fire suppression system was faulty. And Madison wanted to be warned before being burned alive in a fire.

Madison admired the supple curves of the alarm system's switches and circuits. Its hot and sexy fire-engine-red shell that had all the bevels and perpendicularity in the right places. The adorable wailing it made when it blared Not Sure, Not Sure, like the sound of a truck backing up. Its bright LED display that indicated there was trouble in system telco line 1.

Even when it was clear that the alarm system’s annunciator was not securely attached to the wall and that it had a few loose wires, Madison was smitten and embraced the emotional risk. 

When the couple approached the three month mark, the alarm system began beeping No More, No More. What else could Madison have expected? It had been clear from the beginning that there was trouble in system telco line 1. It only took a single call to Housing Code Enforcement before an inspector was sent to the building, where both Madison and the alarm system resided, and cited the building's owner for a coding violation regarding a nonfunctional fire notification system.

Still, even though it was really over, for Madison the relationship was ash that still held some heat and laying awake some nights with a home spun cocktail in hand and teared-up eyes, imagined the sound of the alarm singing Still Here, Still Here.

Big Data

Spreadsheet: Root cause analysis of urination, March 2006 to May 2nd 2009   

Hypothesis: Urination is primarily an intentional, sometimes vindictive, squid-like response. 

Now we'll get down to the bottom of this, thought Rick Pernumero, a data analyst for IBM. If there was one thing his professional life had taught him was that, with a root cause analysis, he could determine the underlying causes of his child's urination and put a stop to it. He resolved to accumulate the necessary data in an incident report until he had gathered a statistically significant volume of data points. 

 

Date: March 12
Incident: Asked child to buck up.  

Future incidents were not limited to states of buckled or unbuckled, but also over the quality of buckling, such as around the neck not being a valid state of being buckled. 

Date: March 12
Incident: First day driving to new school

The child immediately wet her pants when he announced the trip right before they were to leave. Furthermore, for the duration of the trip, the child flailed their feet around the gear shift and pulled his hair while they were en route to the destination. 

Rick recorded several more similar incidents related to trips to other schools, medical visits, and other daily errands. Despite several near death experiences, He was confident that he was slowly putting another piece of the puzzle together.  

Date: March 19
Incident: Asked to complete an assigned chore: sort through the recycling for curbside pick-up  

Structure was important, he had been told by numerous mental health professionals and community resources, so he did his best to implement a regimen of chores and other routine activities.  

However, child would offer to sweep the floors when asked to vacuum the rugs. When the offer to vacuum the rugs was accepted, child would express a preference for sweeping the floors. When offer to sweep the floors was accepted, child thought it might be better to vacuum rugs. 

Still, he felt he was making great progress. Although no other assigned chores were completed that didn't result in a physical fight, recycling was completed 80% of the time and only 23% of the time with a urination incident!    

Date: April 15
Incident: Asked child to simplify eight sixths

Efforts to do homework were abandoned, but Rick felt that he had accrued an adequately sized homework urination data sample

Date: April 17
Incident: Asked child to give Dad a hug

Date: April 21
Incident: Asked child to eat carrots

Urination incidents appeared to be food-specific. Pizza, strawberries, yams, spinach, and ice cream did not trigger urination incidents. 

Date: April 22
Incident: Asked child if they had wiped their butt with the towel?” 

Date: April 23
Incident: Asked child to brush teeth

This request was discontinued after multiple toothbrushes disappeared. Presumed dropped down heating ducts or buried in the backyard. 

Date: April 25
Incident: Asked child to take medication

Date: April 27
Incident: “Ole Plaid Jacket” 

Self-explanatory. 

Date: May 2
Incident: Admonished child for getting silly putty all over the chair

Date: Just about every damned day
Incident: Asked child if they needed to use the bathroom

Date: Just about every time every time I left my dinner unattended and returned to find that it had been eaten.
Incident: Asked child what the fuck happened to my dinner

Date: May 23
Incident: Asked child Why is there fucking coffee in my laptop? 

After 3 months, Rick Pernumero compiled his data and ran it though statistical software and applied factor, cluster, and principal component analyses, regressions, and other analytical techniques. And because he could not concede that there was no discernible pattern in the data and the child's behavior was as random as a roll of the dice, he concluded that he didn't have a sufficient data sample and decided to gather more and more until he could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Wedding Ring

Once upon a time, there was a Daddy, a Mommy, and a child. The child liked to steal things. One day Daddy’s wedding ring was missing. He’d leave it on the dresser before he went to bed at night. And put it on again in the morning. Sometimes, he would forget. How could he forget? Well, honestly, there was some distance between Mommy and Daddy. 

And one day Daddy realized he had not put it on after a few days of forgetting, and it was gone. Mommy and Daddy went through the usual drill to locate the ring.  

Room searches over and over again. Secret compartments in bed springs were searched. Access panels to plumbing. Under piles of clothes. In drawers full of clothes. Between books.  Some of Mommy’s jewelry was discovered. Skeleton keys to china cabinets. Old moldy oranges. A can of condensed milk. But no ring. 

Fruitless inquisitions. I did not steal Daddy’s ring. I do not go into your room. We have in our hands right now things that came from our room. Those are things that you are stealing from me, and if I did go into your room. It’s your fault for not locking the door. We used to lock the door. But you battered down in one of your violent fits. That was your fault for not buying a stronger door.   

Mom and Daddy kept looking over the next several days and weeks, but over time just gave up. They couldn’t afford another ring, so they made due. Maybe, it had actually just been lost. Stranger things had happened. 

Years passed with great difficulty. 

Then one day, walking outside his daughter’s room, Daddy saw the ring, lying on the floor. He picked it up and wondered what am I going to do with this now? He had filed for divorce 2 months ago. 

I'm Sorry You Made Me Do That

I’m sorry that you left the meat for the cook-out unattended in the kitchen. It was a foregone conclusion that I would take a crap on the floor and mix my feces into the bowl of raw hamburger. What did you expect would happen? You should have been much more careful.

I’m sorry you left your wedding ring on your nightstand in plain sight. Although, you have told me many times not to go into your room, you did not lock the door, so it really was your fault that I borrowed your ring.

Yes, I did return it. When I left it on the floor for you to find, perhaps before you vacuumed it up.

I’m sorry, but you should have known what I would do with silly putty.

I'm also sorry that you left food in the pantry. Of course, I would eat it all. Yes, even drinking the can of condensed milk. But you only have yourself to blame.

I'm especially sorry that you stored all the tools in the basement where anyone could get at them. It might have been more sensible to secure them in a locked room or at least kept the most lethal ones in a padlocked tool locker. Why you did not, is certainly perplexing to me.

But since you didn't, I now have all sorts of tools at my disposal when you fled into the room with the rest of the family. I could attack the door jam with the plyers, and there were hammers and crow bars and hack saws.

I don't even understand why you had all this stuff. Most you hardly ever used.

Except the drain rooter. You used that a lot, because the upstairs sink was getting clogged up all the time. Which of course, was because you kept trying to get me to brush my teeth, and it was much easier to squirt the tube of toothpaste down the drain.

And while I'm getting all my apologies out of the way, I am sorry that you were so damn insistent that I brush my teeth. You thought I had thrown the electric toothbrush down the air conditioning vent, but actually, I buried it in the backyard.

I think that about covers it. If I missed anything, I'm sorry. But I'm a bit distracted by the current situation you put all of us in. Not only me, but the rest of the family. It's just sad. You could have been more thoughtful.

Imagine if you just had that one tool, the drain rooter, that you actually used. A drain rooter would have been no use to me at all right now, and all of this craziness could have been prevented. I'm sorry you didn't consider that.

Flight 904

He fantasized that on his trip to Bali his plane would crash in the ocean, and she’d see it on the news and be heart-broken, but miraculously he would survive the crash and be scooped up out of the water after surviving for days floating in the ocean. She would be overjoyed at the news that he was, indeed, alive.

And then on his trip to Bali, his plane did, indeed, crash over the ocean. Imagining that he would soon be reuniting with his lover, he joyfully prepared for the plane’s collision with the rolling waves below. The impact on the water’s surface shattered the plane into bits; debris sliced him into pieces at his happiest moment.

Another Straight White Guy Sad about the End of a Relationship as the World Bursts at its Seams

They’d been drinking quite a bit before going to the Light Festival. While they’d stood in line for a ride the Ferris Wheel, a previously unfulfilled dating wish of his, she engaged a mother and her young kids waiting behind them, complimenting the young girl on her warrior costume.

(A car rammed into a crowd of protesters)

Once on the Ferris Wheel, they kissed, and out of the corner of his eye, he could see the Harbor spinning past as he pressed his hand between her legs and felt the wetness through her jeans.

The sex had been great fun with all the trappings that he enjoyed. Restraints and collars and floggers, and once he chained her to his mantel piece.

(and a state police helicopter crashed into the woods Saturday as tension boiled over at a white supremacist rally. The violent day left three dead, dozens injured)

And he thought nostalgically about the time while all four of her limbs were tied securely to the bed, he jammed his cock into her mouth.

And the time that she walked out of the shower in the morning, when she thought he had already left, stark naked with a towel wrapped around her head.

And when he went upstairs one night after watching an episode of the Wire, and she simply welcomed him into bed.

(The violent day left three dead, dozens injured, and this usually quiet college town a bloodied symbol of the nation’s roiling racial and political divisions)

But now, she pauses at the street crossing looking back, dressed in baggy pants and a black blouse, a single mother, adoptive daughter, religious rape survivor, recovered addict, and an international development worker. And then she waves goodbye and walks away.

( - Sarah Rankin, Associated Press)

Jack Spratt

She had stood by his hospital bed, wearing a summer dress printed with skulls grinning of the dead. Pretty in a dumpy, pot belly sort of way; her deep eyes glistened in the hospital light. She held the cold rails tightly, smiling with crooked teeth and a tired, sagging face.

He did not speak, and he did not smile as he had lain with his gown draped over his bony frame like a table cloth. Handsome in an immaciated invalid sort of way. Sunken eyes and cheeks; he smelled like urine and vomit. He slowly reached through the tangle of wires and tubes keeping him alive, held her hand and sighed.

They had listened to the rain patter on the window and knew they would be together, eating strawberries, dipped in chocolate or cream cheese, or lightly dusted in sugar.

When she became pregnant, her favorite strawberry dip was tartar sauce, and the taste grew on him over time.

During a winter in the Midwest, she told him to slow down, right before the truck swerved in their path on the snow-dusted, glistening-black highway. He tapped the brakes lightly, and the car started gliding to the formidable treeline along the roadside. He turned away, and the car spun around, and around. Their four year old kid in the back seat laughed and laughed, having a rocking good time.

Wall

You did it. You really did it. How could you?

He was mine. I found him under the bush in the rain. Next to the lady with her office in the apartment. He looked so sad and wet, but so adorable.

There might be a whole litter in those weeds. I’ll just get another one.

I can go there if I want. You never said not to.

No, you didn't.

I hear you. It’s not a marsh. It’s just some puddles in the grass, because it rained last night.

What are you talking about? I had to use the sandwich meats. We don’t have any cat food. I had to take care of it. That’s why I fed him a saucerful of milk.

He likes people food. I had to feed it what it liked. You were trying to starve it.

How could you say such a terrible thing. He wasn’t a stuffed animal. He was a real. With a name.

It’s perfectly clean and fine. How could you turn your back on that poor helpless thing. He's my baby.

What are you talking about? I did not spill milk, and the sheets could be washed anyway.

I’m not going to wash them. You should wash your ugly dress. You look like a giant candy corn.

What are you talking about? There’s no such thing as consequences.

I don’t need choices. I need to get out of here and away from you crazy people. You’re not going to brainwash me. I’m eleven and I know things. I know all about the Greek Gods. About Zeus and Athena, and that guy that saw the naked woman bathing and fell in love with her.

Nothing. There’s nothing in my hand, Mom.

It’s just a pickle. It lives in my sock.

What? I can’t even have a pickle for a pet.

You’re cruel and unjust.

Shut up, I’m talking. I’m like cheetah breath, not a pair of scissors. You’re not even a caterpillar.

You don’t understand anything. I’m using a metaphor.

I couldn’t even say good bye to my cat, my lovely baby. You never loved anyone. That’s why you and Dad are going to get a divorce.

No, it’s your fault.

Shut up, Shut up, Shut up, or I will stick a knife in your heart.

Get off me, get off. I can’t breathe. You’re killing me.

You’re lucky you just got a few scratches, because if you touch me again, I will stab you in the face.

I’m glad you’re crying. I don’t love you. I could never love you.

I’m a terrible person? You’re not even a real person. Your spirit guide is a rotten dandelion.

Stop crying I said. I don’t want you to cry any more. If you didn’t take everything I loved, everything would be OK. He was a stray, my baby. He didn’t belong to anyone but me. He liked to watch funny shows. He didn’t like to watch long boring documentaries. His name was Murphy.

The 8 Man

The 8 man lies on his back with coaches and players gathered around. The scrum half says stay down. The coach laughs in relief when the 8 man gives him the thumbs up and cracks a joke. What do you call kids born in a whorehouse? Brothel sprouts. It's a common joke. Someone helps the 8 man to the sidelines.

"You'll be out for a month they say. And no drinking for 24 hours."

Terrible, he thinks. The idea of abstaining from drink for a while is a bit of a slap, like a counter-ruck after a tackle. (The 8 man relates everything in life through rugby metaphors.) He tries to remember if he's been taking the medication prescribed for his low grade depression. He's nearly certain that he's paid the electric and water bills.

The last time the 8 man sees his kid: downtown. She is 19. The white masonry of buildings rise, the sidewalks are paved with red brick, and the tracks for the light rail run up and down the road. His kid pauses a moment in the dimming light of dusk, before heading down Lexington and then the intersection is empty.

His team mates support him with pats on the shoulders and the back of his head.

The kid develops a topsyturvy religion based on an inverted reincarnation scheme. When you die, you become your favorite animal. (The kid is going to be a kitten.) What happens after the kitten dies, then you  become a plant, and then a thing. These scissors (presented as evidence). They’re a slave.

The 8 man stands on the sidelines holding an ice pack to the back of his head. He thinks he's lucid, even though he's confused about now and before and later. His team is ahead  by 2 points as the game winds to a close, but the other team has possession and is moving the ball down the field. Their fly half, tall and lanky, gets the ball and drop kicks it from 30 meters out. Dammit, the 8 man thinks as the ball hurtles through the uprights, that's a beautiful kick.

Each night the kid asks him if he will brush her teeth for her. She claims that she doesn't know how to brush her teeth. The kid puts toothpaste on the toothbrush and then waves the toothbrush around until the lump of toothpaste, perched precariously on her brush, falls off. Two years pass, and she still hasn’t brushed her teeth.

At the ER, the 8 man gets everything scanned and properly checked out. No headache. No nausea. No blurry vision. He is a tough guy with a hard head, apparently. It's all good, but even so, the attending physician advises no practice and games for a month. And walking is OK, but not running. Sloshes the brain around too much. Also, he musn't think too hard.

He looks for weaknesses in the opponents defense and runs hard through a gap, hit low, but the tackler doesn't wrap. The 8 man spins and skitters across the try line, then runs behind the goal posts and centers the ball.

The 8 man laments the fact that he did not take a piss between those two fucks, especially since the first did occur in a washroom. But hindsight is 20/20, and on the second go-around, there's enough residual sperm from the first go in that pre-cum foreplay fluid that he ends up with the kid and married for awhile.

The 8 man thinks he's had a vasectomy; he doesn't want children, but the result of that semi-casual fuck in the washroom raises a question. 1 in 1000 is the answer. There's enough sperm struggling through that post-operative semen spurt that he ends up with the kid and married for awhile.  

Too far away to make a leaping tackle, the 8 man still chases. Another teammate is able to haul the runner down, and the 8 man is there to poach the ball, stealing back control, if only for a moment.

When she is 9, his kid loves to hear him read "Call of the Wild". It's their favorite story. They laugh at Mercedes, who screams at every little thing, right up until the moment when her imbecile brothers lead them to their demise, falling through the thin ice, at which point she actually has something to scream about. But Buck, the dog, lingers on.

The 8 man sails down the field in ungainly grace, a tattered rag, worn out, running a hard line, and it's all good, this ballet of blood and broken hands, black eyes and lacerations, that chip away at the narrow slice of time that’s left, until just short of the try line; the back of his head slams into the ground, and the ball is out.

It's in the DNA

Match each snarky sentiment to a past president. Bonus points if you can guess each president's historical ranking (based on a composite of presidential rankings by fucking Nate Silver, Jan 2013).

  1. Actually, I did have sexual relations with that woman. And maybe some others as well.
  2. Not too keen on facts and details. As Top Executive, can rely on unreliable people around him to let him know what he should know. And Trees cause pollution.
  3. Personified Quaker work ethic by diligently keeping a list of all enemies who would eventually be audited by the IRS.
  4. a) Telegenic, charismatic personality used new political media of the day to defeat nasty old bag. b) Presidency opened up a whole new realm of sexual predation.
  5. In times of war, it is necessary to intern a large segment of population based on race, because fuck them.
  6. White supremacist propaganda screened at White House with an enthusiastic thumbs up by Prez for its “trueness”
  7. Has Secretary of War arrest Maryland legislators before they could make a crucial vote in order to "Keep America,  an America with 39 States."
  8. That Hair.
  9. Relocated entire ethnic group, to a location where they would be happier, aside from the death, disease, and starvation of 25-30% of "deportees"
  10. Signed act that included new powers to deport foreigners and make it harder for immigrants to vote, because the Irish were a bunch of criminals and drunks. Plus, the opposition was saying mean things about him.

Answer Key

  1. Clinton - Rank #18
  2. Reagan - Rank #10
  3. Nixon - Rank #29
  4. JFK - Rank #9
  5. FDR - Rank #2
  6. Wilson - Rank #7
  7. Lincoln - Rank #1
  8. Fillmore - Rank #37
  9. Jackson - Rank #13
  10. John Adams, the first non-Quincy one - Rank #16