Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fun With Felony Arrests

Fried Slice: Fun with Felony Arrests!

Since the election of a new sheriff in 2010, our local newspaper, the Wilson Times, has been listing felony arrests at least once a week. This includes names, pictures, and the offense for which an individual was arrested. It's always pretty interesting to read. Most of the offenses are for stuff like, obtaining property under false pretense, or possession of a substance. And yeah, it's never three or four pictures. There's a real crime problem in my hometown, and I'm grateful for the new sheriff taking care of it. He's doing a great job of cleaning up our little wretched hive of scum and villainy.*

But it's the pictures that always get me.

They're not particularly sad, or tragic. Usually one of two facial expressions appears.

First there's annoyance.

And understandably so. These individuals were hoping not to get caught, and they did. Innocent until proven guilty, of course, but basically, a simple concept.

Then there's the ones who have a mixture of embarrassment and shame.

Also understandable. Things might have moved too fast in life, and before they knew it, they're in deep water and they never meant to be. Oops, right? YOu've probably seen faces like that if your local paper does like ours.

But, as with anything, there's always the inexplicable third group. It's a fringe that I personally will never understand in any instance it occurs.

Once in a while, among the sullen faces in the felony arrests section, there's some clown with this face.

I really don't get this one. People with this face are apparently convinced that they are indeed getting their portrait done. There's no hint of sarcasm in their expressions. They're just thrilled to have been arrested. Just happy to be here, they say, 'cause life is gooooooood my friend.

Ah, the idyllic South. Nice, ain't it?

*Yep, went there. Don't judge.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Darn Good Reason to be Straight Edge

There are a few reasons why I choose to drink only non-alcoholic beverages and avoid any mind-altering substances. Mostly personal preference, partly my beliefs, and, most importantly, a desire to maintain an assassin-like awareness of my surroundings at all times.

But early yesterday morning, a very sober me found the real reason I avoid alcohol and other substances that have even the slightest effect on the mind. How, you ask?


I assaulted my television.

I have a small television in my bedroom. It has about a 19-inch screen, and I've had it for about 11 years now. (I think it was the result of a Black Friday sale when I was in 8th grade.) It sits atop a chest of drawers directly in front of the end of my bed. Each night, I fall asleep with my TV on, and I did the same last night. Usually, I don't have a problem. Sometimes, reruns of Family Matters will wake me up, but mostly I sleep through the night with no problems.

For some reason, yesterday morning, I woke up with a dire need to change the channel. I mean, whatever was on the screen seriously had to go, at that moment, no question.

I'm not sure what the entire sequence of events was, but somehow, the remote disappeared from my notice and my half-asleep brain decided that it was entirely logical that the television had to be unplugged, and it had to be done right that minute.

My brain decided to go on an acid trip all by its lovely little self, without my permission or help, apparently.

In this brave new world, the cord for my TV had miraculously grown longer and was now plugged in somewhere behind my bed, the side of which is pushed against the wall. I began frantically looking for the origin of the cord, starting with the TV itself. I looked behind it, and felt all around it, grabbed parts of it, but none of the wires felt at all right. I even turned on the overhead light.

That's when it got interesting.

As I leaned over the wooden chest of drawers, I unknowingly exhaled into a tiny flower pot that still had some dry peat mix at the bottom. This particular peat mix was composed of dirt, bark and, one might suppose, evil.

Without warning (mostly because I didn't know it was there) a bunch of the peat leaped up and took up residence in the nearest mucous membrane, that being my left eye.

This is what I looked like.

Just an approximate representation.

Somehow, despite all the acid trippery that my brain had decided was terribly appropriate, I had the presence of mind, after attempting to use my eyelashes to extract the offending organic material from my eyeball (and surrounding tissue), to do a good old fashioned eye wash, and to do it using sterile contact solution instead of tap water.

While I was accidentally remembering all those lab safety tips I never used before, my brain clicked on and said, as I removed the last tiny spawn of evil from my eye, "what the heck was I just doing?"

I did go back to bed. By that time it was just before 5:30 a.m. I changed the channel and went back to sleep.

Moral of the story for me is that I really should keep my mind and body clear, since I apparently attack electronics if compromised at all.

'Cause who knows, next time I might roundhouse kick the flat screen downstairs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sentience: Part 8

 Part 8, for your enjoyment.
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Sentience Part 3
Sentience Part 4
Sentience Part 5
Sentience Part 6
Sentience Part 7


He thought it must have been afternoon when Marie sat up from the couch, looking dazed.

He hesitated for a moment. "How are you feeling?"

"Horrible," she said, then focused on a clock. "Oh no. I gotta go." She stood, slowly, leaning on the couch. "I gotta get off world yesterday."

"Where do you need me to take you?"

She looked harried for a moment. "Look, if we can just get to your car, I'll put the address down. Let's just go.

A whistle rang out, and an explosion shook the building. Marie sat down hard on the couch again, and Macon ran to his bedroom.

The wall was damaged. He ran to the window, yanked it open,and looked out.

The apartment next door was damaged, or gone, probably. He rushed back into the living room.

"Are your neighbors...?" Marie stopped, swallowiing hard. She looked sick.

He let out a bitter laugh. "Don't have any on either side. I wouldn't be living here if I did.  They're aiming for us." He grabbed a backpack and his tablet and ran to Marie. She stood.

"I'm fine," she snapped. "Let's go."

He grabbed her hand anyway and yanked her out the door of his apartment and forward down the hall to the stairwell. Parts of the flooring were blown apart. The inhabitants of the rest of the floor were rushing out too. Someone was screaming. A stench in the air turned his stomach, and he refused to think about its source.

Other parts of the building were on fire, and the crush of people trying to get out if they could was overwhelming. Finally, they made it into the free air. Ambulances, a few news vans, and scores of citizens stared upward at the building.

Macon stopped for just a moment. Too many people. If they ran, they'd be seen, but if they didn't leave right now, he knew what would happen.

He took off to the right, yanking the woman after him. She ran without comment, following him to the parking garage. No use staying around and playing innocent.

Rising panic made his heart pound, and the moments passed in a blur. Door open, buckle the seat belt, ignition, back out.

He was on the road now. He looked over at Marie. Her face was white. He pushed the accelerator gently, wishing it would do as much good as he wanted. He missed the tug and pull of friction on tires. He indulged in a moment of remembering a far away time, when he'd driven a classic, back at home.

They drove on.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

That Really Bugs Me

Here's a random list of stuff that annoys, confuses, or otherwise bothers me.

1. The smell of peanut butter

Status: Bother

I really cannot stand the smell of peanut butter.

By this I mean I literally get nauseated when I get a whiff of the stuff.

I blame this diet I went on in 8th grade. One of the strange meals involved 2 tablespoons of natural (meaning unsweetened) peanut butter on a bread.

It was an unholy alliance, and I still don't make peanut butter cookies.

2. My blood is a second class citizen.

Status: Annoying/confusing/bother

Whenever I heard anyone talk about giving blood, there was always the mention of how the most requested blood type in hospitals is O type blood.

I always feel a little flicker of shame.

See, my blood type is A-positive, because I am apparently just that awesome. Back in 1986 or so, there were at least a couple of people who decided to donate blood who were A-positive. Yet doesn't have that O-type magic that everyone just craves.

You always get a feeling that the nurses are all like "oh...A-positive...well, I guess we'll take it" in their minds. Then you feel a little defiant.

Yeah, heck right, my blood's good enough. What.

3. I'm female, so I'm all over chocolate like Dracula in a blood bank.

Status: Confusing

I'll take a second to explain. While I was in college, I heard this one a lot. "Girls, don't you just crave chocolate sometime..." "Oooh, truffles..." "Girls, doesn't chocolate just make everything better..."

Uhm. No.

Now, I do like chocolate. I imagine a lot of people do, and I've only met a couple of people who don't prefer it. Fine by me; my candy of choice is Haribo Happy Colas, because they are scientifically proven to be that ambrosia stuff the Greeks kept going on about.

But, in an interesting twist of things, my fiance is the one with the sweet tooth. Mostly, sugar makes my teeth hurt and gives me a touch of heartburn. I don't eat meal replacement bars for that reason.

I actually refer to my taste as a "meat tooth."

I also don't drink, so I had a double advantage at BJU while all my fellow women students had their wits compromised by the presence of Lindor truffles.

4. "I pushed my blond hair away from my face, and my violet eyes stared across the land..."

Status: Annoyance, to say the very least.

I see this a lot in way too many first-person books. Usually they have younger characters. Sometimes they're self-published, sometimes they're bestsellers.

There's a pretty big reason you probably should avoid this.

By probably, I mean definitely.

Ready for it?

Here goes...

No one describes themselves when they're telling a story. I don't care if you're writing in a journal or telling a story to someone face-to-face. If you've resorted to having your main character describe himself or herself, then back off for a second. Look at it through the eyes of another person.

And don't freaking do it.

Honestly, readers will picture a character any way they please, regardless of your input. Also, if that character absolutely has to take the time to describe how mind-blowing their eye color is, then they're at best self-absorbed.

And yes, I just snuck writing tips in. Deal with it.

5. "Are you German?/You look German..."/"You look like your name should be Helga."

Status: Bother/Back the heck away now.

The first two aren't so bad, except they don't make a whole lot of sense.

I went to Bob Jones University for college, and because of apparent nutritional deficiencies within fundamentalism, I was among the taller of the students there. Also, people from Michigan are short. So there's that.

Apparently being tall makes you German, in BJU-World.

Now, sure, it would make sense if I had actual blond hair and fit any stereotype whatsoever, but I have brown hair. Yes, I have blue eyes, but that particular trait is more indicitive of my actual ancestry, which is partly of the British Isles. And BJU people are really good at asking awkward questions, like if you're German because "you're so tall."

The Helga thing actually hurt a little. I'm not even sure where it came from, or what the intent was, but it was said with a derisive giggle, by people I didn't even know well. It bothered me because nothing about my clothes or hairstyle invited such a statement. In BJU-World, someone with the name "Helga," however inaccurate the perception, is heavy-browed and lumbering.

I already know I'm quite far from being pretty by anyone's standards, but this little incident was just one more reason I was glad to graduate and get away from there, mostly because people there were willing to say anything about you behind your back, as long as it's "good clean fun."

6. I have a history degree, so I just know tons about the Civil War.

Status: Confusing

'Cause I really don't.

I mean, I really, really don't.

I never took a single Civil War-focus class in all my four years of college. Heck, I only took one American history class beyond the required U.S. History classes. Most of my choices included the ancient world and the 20th century. My personal favorite choices were a study of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and World War II. I woulda taken a bazillion classes on the latter if I could.

My favorite century is the 20th. I like seeing how it all meshes together. I love seeing how everything, from technology to pop culture to warfare, changed in just 100 years. The 20th century is like no other.

'Bout the only thing I know about the Civil War is the correct pronunciation of Antietam. Call me negligent, but it wasn't what really captured my attention as I grew up. At some point in high school, WWII caught my eye and everything just unfolded from there.

7. "Well, you can do stuff giving blood, because you're taller/bigger/like a giant..."

Status: Really freaking annoying

I think I first noticed this in earnest a little while back, when I was discussing a blood drive with some people. Now, as I've said before, I'm not exactly petite. By that I mean that I am 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

Not exactly a giant, either.

See, when I was a baby, my white blood cells decided to go on a witch hunt. Like most witch hunts, it went badly, and my poor innocent red blood cells were being eaten in pretty great numbers. I imagine it looked somewhat like when the T-rex in Jurassic Park ate that goat. I had to receive a blood transfusion of packed red cells. That's a heck of a lot of A-positive blood types. The crisis was averted, and I am here today, delivering your daily-ish dose of snark.

So you could say that giving blood is close to my heart.* I've done it two times now in my lifetime, and I'm trying to get my fiance to do it so we can have an excuse to go out for a steak afterwards. I try to encourage people to give blood if they can, when the subject comes up.

The replies are always what really get me. I can see if someone just plain doesn't want to. I mean, if you're squeamish, that's fine. Or, alternatively, you can't, for whatever health reason.

The annoying part is when smaller people say stuff like "well, I'd just get sick and have to go to bed all day; you're a lot bigger than me, so you can afford to give blood."

Uhm, actually, no I can't. The average human has about 10 pints of blood. The range for women tends to be 8-10 pints. I have as much blood in my body as I'm supposed to; when I give a pint, it's a lot.

See, I have trouble gauging what "a lot of food" is. What seems to me like it might be a lot of food very likely isn't. The last time I gave blood, I'd had a good breakfast, but "eat a lot" for me, that day, meant adding a piece of toast, which, you might have guessed, isn't iron rich. Couple that with having an upset stomach sometime that morning. I was running on empty and decided to give anyway. For some reason, filling the bag didn't take as long the second time around. I'd estimate 5-10 minutes, which is short for a donation. I got pretty nauseous after that. If I actually bled a pint, it would make a mess.

So no, tiny people, actually, I can't just "afford" to do without a whole pint of my blood. It's not money. I can't save it up and decide to splurge on a trip to the Red Cross. So spare me the excuses and just be honest, okay?

So now you know.

And it probably explains a lot.

*I swear, that wording was an accident.