At last, we will have revenge.
kitten   December 30, 2001

Just found a site called The Stained Apron, devoted to waiters who despise customers.

Needless to say, this is my kind of site.

A lot of it, in my opinion, is nonsense - especially the things listed as 'revenge'.. probably most of these are things the server wishes they'd have done, rather than what they actually did. Having been a waiter for something over three years, I've never seen anyone actually do anything malicicious to the food, no matter what horror stories we've all heard.

However, a number of the stories are entertaining, and contain legitimate gripes.

The thing I'm noticing from the hatemail from outraged patrons - something I've noticed before, really, but not given much thought to - is that in their complaints, they are often prone to the same mistake, which is focusing on a specific incident, rather than the profession as a whole. People who think waiters are obnoxious, or don't deserve tips, or whatever, are often heard to phrase their argument thus:

"Oh yeah? Well, one time, I was at this restaurant.."
Here's a hint, gang: I don't care about 'one time'. Nobody else does either. If you had a server that was a jackass, then s/he wasn't doing his job, end of story.
But that usually isn't the case. Consider how many hundreds of times you've been to a restaurant.. picking the one or two times out that you had a bad experience proves absolutely nothing about waiters in general. All you've proven is that one waiter here and there can be a moron - which is true in any job, now isn't it?

One of the best ideas I've heard in a long time came from one waiter's post on the site, which is the proposal to force everyone to attend a week-long class or seminar which explains restaurant ettiquete.
Expounding on the idea, I think it should go something like this: It will not be mandatory, but at the end of the successfully completed course, you get a card - and without this card, you cannot go into restaurants. (The card may be revoked or suspended for various criteria.)
The class would cover a variety of topics, but in general, it's all the stuff I outlined in this little rant from many moons ago, plus information about how to deal with your kids at restaurants and other topics. At the end, each person will work at least two shifts at a reasonably busy establishment, and a team of specially trained 'customers' (people such as myself and Tom) would do all the little annoying things that make the job such a nightmare. Another team (each team takes one table) would be polite and lavish compliments on the waiter, but tip poorly (some people seem to think that if they're nice, they don't have to tip.. as though pretty words are going to pay the rent and bills). And still another team would be the Dream Customer - polite, understanding of minor setbacks, not too demanding, and they'd tip well. Maybe then people would see what it means to be a Good Customer vs a Bad Customer.

Each person attending this class would be required at some point to figure out - on paper, in their own handwriting - how much money a server can expect to make (based on the $2.13 an hour they get, which is industry-standard and Federal minimum wage for servers), and attempt to budget rent, food, bills, and everything else for a month with that, so they can finally see exactly what they're doing when they don't tip their waiter.

Christ, I hate customers, and I'm not even a waiter anymore.

Which brings up another interesting point (to me, anyway.. does anybody actually read this stuff?). Few things will elicit laughter from me as those people who try to argue against waiters, and to add a bit of 'realism' to their idiotic arguments, state "I used to be a waiter." Believe me, man, it is blindingly obvious who has and has not experienced the agony of waiting tables - your feeble lies get you nowhere. I, for one, can tell just by the things you complain about whether you have or have not waited tables before, so don't bother lying about it.

Anyway. Check out the site. It's interesting reading - but don't take the horror stories too seriously.

And another thing..!
kitten   December 29, 2001

Been going through old logs that Steve has been sending me.. these mostly consist of me bitching, which should surprise nobody.
The thing is, when I read these, I just get angry all over again at whatever it is I was griping about.

[kitten] I'm just sick of laws in general.
[kitten] We put up with so much nonsense.
[stevers] true.
[kitten] Do this. Don't do that. Stand here. Walk there. Fill out form. Let's see license. Stand in line to pay. Go back and have it stamped. Submit six copies. Drop dead - but first get a permit.

Our country's system of laws has become this bloated mass of utter nonsense that, for the most part, serves little purpose other than to generate revenue for the government. It's absolutely disgusting.
I remember this conversation though - as I remember everything - and I believe that my ranting was influenced, at least partially, by having just finished Heinlein's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, but I believe my point still stands. All these ridiculous laws, always for the other guy, never for yourself. Not once have I heard someone say "Please make this illegal, because I do not know when to stop doing it." No, it's always "This should be illegal even though I don't do it, because I don't like when other people do it." As if these victimless crimes are anyone's business but the person doing them.
I'm talking largely about sex laws and drug laws here. I don't use drugs. Period. I drink, and I smoke cigarettes, and that's it. At the age of 22, I've smoked pot a grand total of twice in my life. I think drugs are a complete waste of time and money, to be quite honest.
But if Johnny down the street wants to sit inside his house and shoot heroin all day, then what the hemmoraghing fuck do I care? Who is he hurting that it's any of my business?
Nobody but himself, that's who. And quite frankly, that isn't my problem, nor is it the government's problem.
"But what if he steals or kills to get his fix!" the panicked cries come gushing forth.
Then you punish him for that, as killing or stealing actually has a victim. You don't punish him for the act of drug use itself - only when and if he brings some unwilling third party into it is it anybody's concern.
Sex laws bother me too. Aside from rape and molestation, I really don't understand why sex is legislated at all. Again, only if there is an unwilling party to it does it become a crime - if both (or more..) people are willing, then exactly where is the victim?
For example, in Georgia, there is actually a legal definition for the 'crime' of 'fornication', which is defined as two people - any age - having sex when they are not married to each other. That's right. Two 30 year olds who have been dating for a year having sex, and this is a crime.
Now, I realize it's one of those crimes that's not actually enforced and that nobody cares about, but the fact that it's even on the books bothers me. There's a million laws like that - laws that are merely paper, that nobody pays attention to, that are the product of outmoded ways of thinking from days gone by.. why doesn't somebody clean this up?
I remember a few years ago, the legislative body of Georgia was having a huge debate over the sodomy laws, whether it should be amended, and how, and what the new definition of sodomy should be, etc. And during the whole fiasco I'm thinking, "Who the fuck cares?" Get rid of the stupid law and move on. I can think of so many more pressing issues to deal with, but instead, my tax dollars are being spent so a bunch of whiny old men can sit around and argue about who is allowed to have sex with who.
Statutory rape laws bother me as well. I think part of that is the word 'rape'.. to me, this conjures up the most horrible of images, of violence and violation and, well, rape.
Is that what 'statutory rape' is? No. Usually it's just some parent who gets pissed off at some guy who had sex with their daughter - nevermind the fact that their daughter wanted it also. Is this really grounds for calling the guy a 'rapist', placing him in the same category as the animals that actually force themselves on people through physical violence?
[kitten] It's a crime for anyone to have consensual sex with someone under 17, right, because surely a 15 year old doesn't understand what sex is.
[kitten] And even when a 15 year old says "yes", they probably just don't know what they're doing, right?
[kitten] Fuck that.
[kitten] 16 years is old enough to know what you doing.

Now, I'm not saying it's cool for a 25 year old to be screwing around with a 15 year old, but honestly people - who cares? Let them. Mind your own business.
"But.. but they're so young! They don't understand the ramifications of sex! Won't somebody think of the children@#$%" come the righteous screams of the Big Brother sect.
Somehow we seem to have forgotten that until very recently, children were more than capable of dealing with things. Throughout history, people young enough to be called 'children' were the heads of state for some of the most powerful nations on the planet. King Tut, ruler of Egypt - arguably the most wealthy and advanced nation at the time - was how old when he took the throne? 12 years old, if I'm not mistaken.
The reason kids today may be perceived as unable to deal with situations is because we shelter them to such a ridiculous extent. Of course if you stagnant their growth and hold their hands for every little thing, they're going to be dependant little morons who can't figure things out. But that's an artificial restriction placed upon them by society, isn't it? They aren't necessarily that helpless merely by virtue of being young.

[kitten] 99% of laws should be eliminated and replaced with the phrase "You know what you doing."
[kitten] Let people figure shit out on their own.. if they make stupid choices, let them.
[kitten] Because, breaking the law in this case would mean that you DON'T know what you doing, and therefore will have no chance to survive.
[kitten] Let people make their own decisions, if they make stupid ones, they'll be on the path to destruction.
[kitten] I'm tired of the government holding everyone's hand and making laws to protect stupidity.
[kitten] New statutory rape law: "You know what you doing."
[kitten] New liability clauses: "You know what you doing."
[stevers] change the first amendment to "What you say!"
[kitten] Helmet law: You know what you doing.
[kitten] Seatbelt law: You know what you doing.
[kitten] Seriously though.
[kitten] Like seatbelt laws.
[kitten] Fuck that.
[stevers] yeah.
[stevers] let them fly through a windscreen
[kitten] If I want to be a dumbass and not wear a seatbelt, the cops should just say "you know what you doing."
[stevers] the helmet law is the dumbest.
[stevers] a law to protect a head that doesn't know well enough to protect itself.
[kitten] A helmet law. The purpose of which is protect a brain that's so stupid that it wouldn't wear a helmet unless forced.
[stever] let that fucker get smeared across some asphalt.
[kitten] So yeah.
[kitten] Most laws are to be replaced with "You know what you doing."
[stevers] if you don't know what you doing; you have no chance to survive.
[kitten] Yeah.
[kitten] Okay.
[kitten] Here's the deal then.
[kitten] Law: "You know what you doing." Crime: Not knowing what you doing. Penalty: You have no chance to survive.
[stevers] now that's what I call great justice

I don't think that's such a bad idea, really. If you make stupid decisions, the consequences will come back to bite you all by themselves. Do we really need additional punishments doled out by a beaurocracy?
Take another look at the drug thing, I suppose. If Johnny wants to sit in his house and smoke crack all day, I say, let him. He'll wind up killing off braincells until he's a vegetable - isn't that punishment enough?

[kitten] Take driving for example.
[stevers] bah.
[kitten] Once you buy the car.
[kitten] And get a license.
[kitten] Now you have to get insurance, and get raped for that.
[kitten] And you have to have it tagged, and get raped for that.
[kitten] And you have to renew all this every fucking time you turn around, and get raped.
[kitten] And get emissions inspected, and get raped.
[kitten] And pay a tax based on how nice your car is, and get raped.
[kitten] And as soon as you're done paying all that, you have to do it again in six months.
[kitten] I mean.
[kitten] This fucking city in particular, acts like it's some big fucking privilege to live here.
[stevers] haha
[stevers] yeah, i've heard that about atlanta.
[kitten] "We think it's reasonable to make you pay ten thousand useless fees every six months or so, because we allow you the honor of living here."
[kitten] And because all these things are *law* the government can do whatever they want.
[kitten] They hire ten people to work the tag office, but only one of them actually does anything.
[kitten] The rest are just standing there with "Next Window Please".
[kitten] Meanwhile the line is out the fucking door and wrapped around the building.
[kitten] And they close for a two hours "for lunch", right when everyone who WORKS for a living gets a lunch break.
[kitten] And they open at 9:30 and close at 4:30.
[kitten] When everyone's AT WORK.
[stevers] heh.
[kitten] And what're you gonna do about it?
[kitten] Nothing!
[kitten] Because you can't NOT have these things.
[kitten] And why does it cost so much?
[kitten] Well.. they have to have some way of paying the other nine people to stand around in the tag office!
[kitten] And they tax you based on the weight of your vehicle too.
[kitten] Like it somehow costs the government more money because you happen to have a heavy vehicle?
[stevers] well, same thing at a bank.
[kitten] Yes, but you don't *have* to go to a bank.
[kitten] There's no law.
[stevers] true.
[kitten] It's convenient.. sometimes, sort of.. but you don't have to.
[kitten] And if you don't like it, you can try another bank. Since there's no law that says you have to go to a bank, the banks can be more competetive, because they want customers.
[kitten] Whereas, say, insurance companies do whatever they want. Sure, you could go to another company, but it won't change, because ALL of them know that you HAVE to go to one of them.
[stevers] yah.
[kitten] I wish I had a shitload of money.
[kitten] I'd start an insurance company.
[kitten] Gone are the days when Adam Smith's invisible hand governed the marketplace, gone are the days when poor business ventures flopped and only the good ideas survived.
[kitten] Because now it's a LAW that you have to pay private companies for things even if you don't like what they're selling.
[stevers] now the good ideas die, and the shitty ones make money.

Let's all get over the irony that I used the word 'rape' to describe the government's system of dealing with stuff, as I think we're all aware of the fact that I'm using the word metaphorically.
This has really been bothering me as of late. I recently got pulled over for having an expired license plate.
Now what exactly does this mean? The plate still corresponds to my name, and this vehicle. Nothing has changed since I got it. So what this "expired tag" thing really means is that I didn't pay the government another hundred and forty bucks this year to get a little sticker that says "2002".
I understand the need to have vehicles registered.. but only once, unless something changes. If it's the same driver with the same car, he should be under no obligation to pay or update anything until such time that the ownership of the vehicle is transfered. If this means he drives the car for ten years, so be it. The government has no right to force this meaningless tax on us year after year without even an attempt at justification.
Insurance bothers me as well, although to a lesser extent. I understand the need for liability insurance, and on some level, I can grasp why it should be a law. But on the other hand, it's sort of ridiculous; we pay untold hundreds of dollars a month in some cases "just in case". And if the "in case" never comes about, do you get that money back? Of course not.
Now, in some cases, it's a real lifesaver, I'm sure. Pay two hundred dollars this month, and you won't have to sell your soul if you hit a $60,000 Mercedes. But on the other hand, the odds of this happening are so miniscule.. it's like the government is forcing you to gamble. You're betting that you will get in an accident, so you want your ass covered, and pay the insurance company, while simultaneously, the insurance company bets that you won't, and that they'll get to keep your money. Funny, but the odds are in favor of the insurance company.
Yes, insurance is necessary, I grant that. I guess what bothers me is that the insurance companies are basically given license to do whatever they want, in flagrant defiance of the "open marketplace" ideals that make this capitalist system what it is. "Woah, you got in a minor accident three years ago, you're a big risk, we're going to have to charge you an extra five hundred dollars." Uh huh. Anyway, getting back to my original point (as if I really had one), the government makes it so bloody difficult and time-consuming for the average citizen to actually pay these little "tag tax and title" fees and so forth, that it's almost like they don't want your money. And that's what really drives me nuts. I shouldn't have to take time out of my busy workday, stand in line for an hour or more, rearrange my entire day, just to pay the government for something I don't need, didn't ask for, and don't want.
[kitten] I hate traffic court.
[kitten] You're guilty until proven innocent, in most cases.
[kitten] But in most cases, it's just.. a cop accuses you, has no proof other than his word, and you have to *prove* you didn't.
[kitten] "I didn't run a stop sign." "Prove it." How can you prove you *didn't* do something? "Can't prove you didn't? Then you did. Pay up."
[kitten] And I hate how Atlanta handles it.
[stevers] how's that?
[kitten] Everywhere else in the country, the laws are there because someone thinks they're a good idea.
[kitten] If you break the law, it's enforced.
[kitten] By a penalty.
[kitten] In Atlanta, the only penalty they ever give out is a fine.
[kitten] What does that suggest?
[stevers] greed.
[kitten] That the only reason they even pretend to care about the laws are so they can make money.
[kitten] Yes, precisely.

Traffic court reminds me so much of the Salem Witch Trials, it isn't even funny.
I guess this whole long-winded rant wasn't funny either. I don't even know why I bother with these things.
I'll tell you something else that isn't funny - most of this anti-establishment, fuck-the-government, death to America's stupidity stuff took place only hours before 9am, September 11 2001. In these excerpts, I've removed the timestamps, but you'll have to trust me - the log ends around 7am.
Two hours later, planes plowed into cities.
Irony can be a mean motherfucker.

Something to think about.

How are you gentlemen !!
kitten   December 27, 2001

Heh.

Courtesy of Steve, it's the Compiled Index Of #mirrorshades All Your Base nonsense, plus assorted commentary.

I don't know how many logfiles he had to parse to get all these, nor why he saved them, but yeah. S'funny stuff.

..if by 'funny' you mean 'utterly, utterly insane'.

You've been warned. Enjoy.

You have lost the lead.

Laura downloads Quake...

[kitten] I'm leaving in like two minutes.
[Spicemonkey] Im 51%
[Spicemonkey] damnit
[Spicemonkey] Im almost there
[Spicemonkey] leave before im done like every other man
[Spicemonkey] I knew it
[Spicemonkey] nothing cvhancges
[Spicemonkey] changes
[kitten] haha

Hrm.
Lots of really obnoxious things to say to Bryan are springing to mind, but uh. I don't think we need to go there. :)

The more things change..
kitten   December 25, 2001

On the court system:

"We sat on wooden benches in a lock-up partitioned off from the Court Room, for four hours, awaiting judgment -not awaiting trial, because they don't try people there, but only just take a percentage of their cash, and let them go without further ceremony. .... I stayed by and watched them dispense justice a while and observed that in all small offences the policeman's charge on the books was received as entirely sufficient, and sentence passed without a question being asked of either accused or witnesses..."

No, that isn't another kitten rant. It's a rant by Mr Samuel Clemens, whom you may know by the name of Mark Twain.
It's interesting to note that a hundred and twenty years later, the system he describes has not changed. At all. Not one bit.

Truly disgusting.

Squaresoft, listen up.
kitten   December 24, 2001

[kitten] There should be a game about my life.
[kitten] That'd be a good plot.
[Krev] I like the plot...which the summons have no real revelance to.
* Krev blinks.
[Krev] Oh good god...you get to play kitten who carries around a katana, chainsmokes, and beats up little kids.
[kitten] That would rule.
[kitten] And like.
[kitten] Various girls could cause problems.
[Krev] All the while you are fighting off opressive religions, taxes, the police, and e-paridigims or whatever the hell you call it.
[kitten] The goal of the game is to seek the Triad.
[Krev] You would spend a good ammount of your time in restaurants waiting for plot hooks to show up, whisk you off your feet, then end up fighting them off anyway.
[kitten] haha
[Krev] Oh, and a hidden special item is the banner for mirrorshades.org that you can put on the back window of your car.
[Krev] Candy necklaces, and weapons of mass raver destruction.
[kitten] !
[Krev] Wow, there would be a lot of enemies to fight in your game.
[kitten] Such as?
[kitten] "Look out! A bible-thumper is approaching!"
* kitten casts `rant`
[kitten] KITTEN: Blah blah blah, blah blah blah.
[Krev] ENEMY becomes CONFUSED, ANNOYED.
[kitten] haha
[Krev] KITTEN summons ZIG!
[Krev] KITTEN: You have no chance to survive, make your time.
[kitten] ENEMY takes ALL YOUR BASE.
[Krev] The tagline of the game would be "KITTEN: For Greater Justice."
[kitten] "KITTEN VI: You Know What You Doing."
[Krev] "KITTEN X: What You Say!"

A rose by any other name..

It's not a cookie, it's a 'fruit and cake.'
He is not a cashier, he is a 'Customer Service Representative.'
It isn't ping-pong, you uncultured brute, it's 'table tennis'.
It isn't lying, it's 'taking creative liberties'.
It isn't stealing, it's an 'extended unauthorized loan'.
It isn't a comic book, it's a 'graphic novel'.

I hope we're starting to notice a pattern here.
At this point I'm not even arguing whether or not comic books are lame or not. I suppose that's a matter of personal opinion. What I take umbrage to is the glorified terms that people invent to give comic books and their readers an air of superiority, of elitism, of upturned-nose-and-snobby-accents: "I do not read 'comic books' , I read 'graphic novels'."

Spare me. It's a comic book. Get over yourself, and stop acting like you're a member of some cultural cognoscenti with your 'graphic novels' as you look down from atop your Holier Than Thou Mountain at all the bourgeoisie and their 'comic books'. A rose by any other name, and all that.

The prosectution would like to call in expert witness Bill Watterson:

"You can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a 'graphic novel,' but comic books are still incredibly stupid." - The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

The prosection rests.

I fell into a burning ring of fire.

Our evening began in a comfortable Italian restaurant in Atlanta, where the candlight was right, the music was soft, and the wine was delicious.
The lights were dim and the food was excellent. She sat across from me at the table, her eyes sparkling to match her diamond earrings as she sipped her pinot grecio, and over a plate of cannenoli, we discussed the future. Her foot nudged mine under the table, sending subtle thrills directly into my cortex.

Then, without warning or preamble, the ambience was lost as an unholy howl erupted from the table next to ours. I turned, half expecting to see blood pouring from the eye sockets of the tortured soul who unleashed this hideous scream surely, nothing less than grevious bodily harm could cause one to emit such a cry of undistilled agony.

And what to my wondering eyes did appear but a small child, perhaps nine or ten years old, in a family of four. The child shrieked once more, like an electric banshee being immersed in water, as his brother hurled another sugar packet at him.

I could not hide the look of disgust on my face as I turned back; my dining companion rolled her eyes.

. . . . .

Sound familiar?

Unless you have been living on Mars for your entire life, in a cave, with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears, it should. Whether you have kids or not, you are forced to endure their wanton assaults on your senses, and required to suppress all urges to throttle both parent and child for disrupting your evening.

Perhaps Im being presumptious. Surely, not everyone has homicidal thoughts about children. There is no doubt that I am a special case, one who hates children with unusual ferocity.

Regardless, very few people who are childless by choice myself included - appreciate these tiny terrors making a nuisance of themselves. Yet we are forced by societial pressure to regard their behavior is acceptable, or even laudable.

Enough is enough.

. . . . .

I made a poor decision when I was 18. I bought a pack of cigarettes.

To make a long and oft-repeated story short, I am now a smoker. When I wish to go to a restaurant, I must sit in a specially designated section far away from nonsmokers who do not appreciate the secondhand smoke. Many places do not allow me to smoke at all. The popularity of cigarettes is declining, and more and more public areas treat smokers like pariahs.
I cant complain about it, really. It was my choice to smoke, and I understand that many people cannot abide the scent of cigarettes. For this reason, I allow myself to be shoved into the far corners of the restaurants, where I have a minimal chance of disturbing nonsmokers with my carcinogenic fix. After all, these people dont smoke, so in all fairness, I should do what I can to minimize any impact of my choice upon them.

And yet, at the same time, I cannot help but wonder: Where is the nonchildren section? Why should nonsmokers be allowed the enjoyment of their meal without cigarette smoke wafting their way, when nonparents must still endure the nuisance of children around them?

. . . . .

Give me a break, I can already hear the arguments. Secondhand smoke causes cancer, lung problems, and a host of other complications. Children dont.

Well, its certainly true that secondhand smoke can harm or even kill you, if your exposure to it is both long-term and continuous (for example, a nonsmoker that lives with a smoker). One study by Emory University, using a sample size of thirty nonsmokers who lived with smokers for ten years or more, concluded that the nonsmokers had an increased chance of cardiovascular or respiratory problems than those who did not live with smokers.

While the conclusion of this study hardly needs to be belabored, we must be realistic about our scenarios. Does sitting in the nonsmoking section of a restaurant for an hour, once or twice a week, having a minor amount of cigarette smoke infiltrate your area, really constitute a health hazard?

Generally speaking, it takes around forty years or so for a pack-a-day smoker to start developing complications, on average. Now consider the amount of smoke ingested by a nonsmoker in a restaurant, and determine how long it would take for similar problems to develop. Assume that the nonsmoker, by proxmity to the smoker, manages to inhale one-half of the smoke that his smoking counterpart does. (This is, by the way, a gross overestimate, but hey, lets have fun.) Assume further that this nonsmoker goes out to eat three times a week and spends about an hour in the restaurant each time. Assume that the smoker lights up twice during this hour, which means that the nonsmoker will imbibe the equivalent of one cigarettes worth of smoke.

These are reasonable estimates, I should say. What we come out with is that, on average, this nonsmoker will smoke about three cigarettes a week.

Health hazard?

Recall that pack-a-day-smoker, who will take about forty years to develop problems: he smokes twenty cigarettes a day, and wont have tangible problems for forty years. Extrapolate on this to three cigarettes a week to determine how long it would take our hypothetical nonsmoker to develop problems, and we come out with a number that exceeds the human lifespan by several orders of magnitude. In short, the nonsmoker simply wont live long enough for that secondhand smoke to actually cause him harm.

This is not to say that secondhand smoke isnt harmful: It is. But realistically speaking, the amount of secondhand smoke that the nonsmoker intakes merely from being in a restaurant in the nonsmoking section, mind you is not significant in any meaningful way.

. . . . .

What does this mean?

By removing the panicked cries of health concerns from the nonsmoker by viewing the situation in a more realistic light, he is left with only one argument: He simply does not like cigarette smoke, and it bothers him.

This is a wholly legitimate argument on his part, which is why smokers are seated as far away as possible from everyone else; there is no justification for their nicotine habit to bother someone who has made the choice to not partake. My smoke should not become their problem.*

But in a similar vein, I feel that other peoples children should not become my problem. Just as I am willing to sit away from nonsmokers to avoid bothering them, it is this ones opinion that parents with children should be seated away from the childless.

Why should I childless by choice be forced to endure endless ranks and files of screaming heathens, alternatively bellowing, howling, crying, shrieking, peering over the partitions at me like the grinning mask of Loki, and generally carrying on? These are not my children, yet for some reason I am expected to accept, tolerate, and even condone their behavior, despite their intrusion into my experience.

I find this to be unacceptable.

If someone wishes to raise an undisciplined brat who cannot conduct himself in a civilized manner while in public, there is little I can do about it. I merely ask that as a matter of ettiquete, these people do for society what smokers do: congregate in areas away from those who do not wish to deal with children.

Id like to see restaurants that do just that set aside a nonchildren section just as they have a nonsmoking section. But since this is unlikely to happen, perhaps Ill simply blow smoke rings in the direction of the little mistakes sorry, children the next time they get in my face.


* There are of course some people who complain that they can still smell the cigarette smoke even from across the restaurant. I dismiss this minority as being irrelevant. There is a boundary between being genuinely inconvenienced, and merely being hypersensitive, and these people cross that border with thier Ptolmey-style view of the universe.

Windows XP: Does a bit more! Sucks a bit less!
kitten   December 21, 2001

Live from #mirrorshades, we bring you the latest reviews on the hottest software. Today, an in-depth look at Microsoft's latest OS applications and suites:

[homeslice] Dan: Just found a smooth feature of office XP
[Dan] Bret: You can uninstall it?
[homeslice] Autosummarize.
[kitten] uh
[kitten] Autosummarize has been around forever, Bret.
[kitten] And it fucking sucks.
[Dan] Yes.
[homeslice] So could have used that in high school.
[Dan] And, also, it blows.
[homeslice] *shrug*
[kitten] Like wow.
[kitten] It sucks hard.
[kitten] All it does is highlight a few random sentences.
[Dan] Your 20-page report on Reconstructionism turns into "After the Civil War, the newly-formed union of The United States, Ulysses S. Grant, the and the, the. The."
[homeslice] haha.

Come not between a dragon and his wrath.

So Tinkerbell comes bouncing into Waffle House while I'm perched in my booth with the trench all flared over the seat, deep in consideration of my latest by Murakami, pregnant with the news that if you go to google and search under 'images' for kitten, I'm one of the first things that shows up.

Hey, I thought it was kind of funny.

Moron bait.
kitten   December 18, 2001

Every day for the past three weeks or so, the same fucking moron has come here looking for information regarding Eric Estrada; specifically, Estrada's sexual orientation.

With any luck, this will make him go away.

Next up is dealing with the idiot who has the digimon fetish.

The Walled City "how to".

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

It has come to my attention in recent days - possibly spurred, at least in part, by the deployment of so-called 'rolling ads' - that some people are having difficulty navigating and understanding the goings-on here at mirrorshades.org.

Allow me to assist you. That is what I am here for. Or something.

What you're reading right now is part of the weblog. This is the portion of the site devoted to the various ramblings and rantings of either myself (kitten) or my esteemed collegue (harb). We update this whenever we feel like it. This may be nonsense, or it may be relevant.. it really doesn't matter. The icon informs you, loyal reader, of the author of the particular post.. in this case, you see a small picture of a kitten, which lets you know that I wrote this.
Check back often. It's a fluid page.

Take a look at the menu on the right sidebar. FAQ is, cleverly enough, the FAQ page, which may or may not be helpful to you and probably won't answer any of your questions. In the archive section, you'll find archives of all the posts we've done in the past, nicely sorted by author, date, and title. And of course, the links page, where you'll find other places to waste your time.

In the random section, you'll find odds and ends of an unclassified nature. These may be musings, poems, parodies, or reports on roadtrips, or just about anything else that we frankly couldn't find a better place for.
The fiction section is our pathetic showcase of personal literature. You've been warned. It hasn't been updated in quite some time, and most of the stuff in there is, to be quite honest, poorly-written self-serving nonsense that we're ashamed of, but post public anyway because we're mental mascochists.
The rant section, here, is populated only by myself at the moment, which should surprise nobody. This is where I archive various gripes and long-winded pointless stupidity.
And new to the walled city, we bring you the UTTER CRAP section, where we put, well, utter crap - mostly IRC and other chatlogs that for one reason or another, we found humorous.

A disclaimer about the weblog itself: Not all of it is meant to be taken seriously. Many of our posts are just our thoughts and feelings at the moment. I realize that this is vague, but I suspect that if you take the time to read enough posts, understand our sense of humor and how we perceive the world, you'll know what I mean. I wish disclaimers of this type weren't necessary, but not everyone, it seems, knows what weblogging is all about.

The predecessor of the Walled City was called the villa straylight, and is much the same as the Walled City, only with less colors. Bryan's site from years gone by, signal to noise, is also available, and includes mostly whinings of a geek nature.

Contact information is available below the main menu. From here you can communicate with us via email, AIM, or ICQ, all at the click of a mouse. We want to hear from you.

Well. That's about it. Anything else, you should be able to figure out - if you can't, you probably shouldn't be allowed near a computer anyway.

Welcome to the Walled City.

Enjoy.

Pale green stars.
kitten   December 17, 2001

spoiler warning: mindless link propagation ahead.

I've noticed that the only time anyone pays attention to me is when I'm bitching about something; probably because it's 'funny', and they get to be entertained. This applies in physical meatspace as well as online, it seems.

See, when I rant or bitch or gripe or kvetch or whatever, it's ha ha funny kitten good job you made me laugh you rock so hard.

Whereas, on the rare occasion I attempt to be serious or emotional or thoughtful or even bordering on the poetic, nobody says nothin'. I'm sure it gets read, sort of, in that idle passing kind of way, but that's about it.

I'm not saying my "serious" stuff is good, or well-written, or particularly deep or meaningful. Nor am I saying that my "funny" stuff is so comic that I deserve the fanmail.

I guess I'm just not comfortable with being the court jester.
Even the jester cries on occasion.

Oops, I'm A Slave 4 Driving You Crazy One More Time.
kitten   December 16, 2001

The stage was covered in fog, and Britney came out wearing a nightgown and holding a latern before her. She looked pensive and delivered a brief monologue about dreams.

Then the girders above the stage exploded, jets of fire spouted from the floor, and she disappeared.

It was a great show. :)

Laura and I were in the 'back', although since Phillip's Arena is circular, that's a fine distinction. We were definitely behind most of the action, but the stage and performance was constructed such that nobody was left out. We were also quite high up, but really, that's okay - you could still see everything, minus the bit where she was standing in front of a treasure-chest thinger that she came out of for the song Lucky.

I tried to keep a running count of how many times she changed outfits during the show, and lost track at 17 - these ranged from a jungle theme, to a black duster painted with flourescent blacklight-reactive stripes, to a really gothic-industrial outfit which was so fuckin' cool.

I've heard it said by many critics that Britney isn't that great live.

They're either lying or demented. She's bloody amazing. Anybody who can dance like that and still sing well without running out of breath or taking a break is hardcore, and that's all there is to it. No, I don't care that I'm going to get flak for saying Britney is hardcore.

There were more pyrotechnics at this show than I expected there to be. Explosions, flames, fireworks, showers of sparks - you name it. I think Britney's crew has access to more explosives than any terrorist organization.

I think one of the coolest parts was near the end, where she and her dancers got on this flying.. platform.. thing.. that flew around above the stage, and through a rainstorm. Yes, a rainstorm. They had the girders rigged to deliver rain on command, and the entire song One More Time was done in the center of this. It was cool. And Britney looks great soaking wet. :)

Actually, the coolest part was when she came out of this hole on the stage on a small circular rising platform that was equipped with a fog-generating device, dressed in a white prom-looking number, to sing Born To Make You Happy, and she looked at me.

No no. She did. She totally looked at me and smiled.

I bet she's in her tour bus right now reconsidering her relationship with what's-his-name from Backstreet or N'Sync or whatever.

Laura and I looked totally out of place here, anyway. The crowd, as you can imagine, was mostly female, aged 11 to 17. Most of them were wannabe Britney clones. Meanwhile, I'm wearing all black, including a black cashmere trench, and Laura's got fishnets, knee-high boots, and a cape. We looked very gothic, and therefore very strange. Kept getting funny looks. Especially on the escalator. Somehow we ended up surrounded by a bunch of stupid shrieking high school sophomore girls and before Laura could strangle them, one of them turned around, saw us, apologized, and yelled at her friends to 'act their age'.

Other than the redneck family behind us who wouldn't shut up ("Dad, what's those green lights?" "Them's laser beams." "Whuuut?" "Like them laser sights on huntin' rifles. Only green." "Oh, cool."), it was, all in all, an absolutely spectacular show.. amazing performance, great routines, and she did all the best songs (including her Joan Jett cover).

I'm having trouble hearing, however.

I (heart) Britney.

I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too.
kitten   December 13, 2001

So yesterday was Day Of The Obnoxious Shitheads.

I receive about seven or eight calls a day at work from telemarketers and salespeople. Because these are cold calls and the salesperson has no idea who they should talk to, the format is invariably "I need to speak with the person of ordering $supplies for your $equipment."

I hang up as soon as I hear "..person in charge of".

Yesterday, however, one guy apparently decided he didn't like my attitude, and when I hung up, he called back:

"This is kitten."
"Yeah, who's the rude guy?"
"Excuse me?"
"The rude guy that hung up on me? That was you, wasn't it?"
"Uh, do you have an actual question?"
"Don't see why you gotta be rude."
"Well, sir, I don't see why you 'gotta' call and harrass me at work, asking for people you don't know to sell supplies we don't need for equipment we don't have."

And he hung up on me.

* * *

As Bryan will attest, the guy who lives above me is bloody annoying. All day, all night - doesn't matter what time it is - this guy is stomping around. Not walking, but stomping - you can tell the difference. Where he's going, I have no idea.. these apartments aren't that big, so I don't see why he can't just pick a place and sit the fuck down. I also wonder if the jerk ever sleeps.. 1am, 4:30am, 5pm, doesn't matter.. he's always home, always clomping around or dropping bowling balls or playing kickball or whatever the fuck it is he does that is so goddamn loud.
Let us not forget his fucking dog, who alternates between sitting on the balcony and barking - loudly - at any passerby, or running around inside and barking for no reason. And the dog snores at such a high decibel that I can hear him from my room. I swear to my nonexistent god, the first week I lived here, I thought that there was some kind of heavy machinery or air conditioning compressors upstairs, but no - it was just this dog snoring. Or maybe it's the guy himself. Who knows.
It is absolutely impossible to leave this apartment without him stopping you on the way out - as he is often outside with his stupid dog - and the guy doesn't ever shut up. He will sit there and talk to you about nothing, or things that happened months ago. Hell, he's still talking about the time the tree fell on my car. That happened, what, a little over a year ago?
Meanwhile, I'm standing there ready to kill him just to get him to shut up. Does he think I walked outside to talk to him? No, I did not. I walked outside to go to my car and go somewhere, and I do not need to be delayed by him.
Furthermore, his know-it-all stupidity is infuriating. I recall one time when he had captured three of my neighbors to lecture them on the proper way to put out a grease fire, because a building in the other complex had just burned down due to a grease fire. While he was at it, he explained exactly who started the fire, what they were cooking, why their attention was diverted, how old they were, the incorrect steps they took to put out the fire, the history of the Roman empire, the historical significance of the Magna Carta, the schedule of the number 85 bus that travels Atlanta Street, a biography of William Shatner, an interlude on the docking clamps on the shuttle Columbia, ad infinitum. And everything he was saying was wrong anyway.
I'm also tired of hearing his opinions on apartment management politics. I don't care.
How about the time when he stopped me and Jen at 4am as we were on our way to Columns Drive to watch the meteor storm? Yeah, he's standing out there with binoculars in a well-lit parking lot surrounded by trees, staring into a streetlight, and telling us we shouldn't bother because he can't see anything.

* kitten shakes his head

At any rate, at 9pm last night, I ran out to the store, and when I came back, I found this note on my door:

Please stop slamming your door. It wakes us up.

What the fuck? A few questions for him:

  • Who is "us"? To what plurality are you referring to?
  • Since you were stomping around when I left for the store, and stomping around when I came back, I have a difficult time believing you were asleep.
  • My door doesn't close unless I slam it, so fucking deal with it. I don't know what you expect me to do about it. If you want to pay for a carpenter to come rehang the hinges, that's fine.. otherwise, grow up.
  • If I was being loud at 3am, I could understand the problem - I do not, however, recognize a problem from a .02 second door slam at 9pm. Get over it.
  • Pot, meet the fucking kettle. You are the last person on earth who should be accusing anyone of being obnoxious.

    I'm seriously considering taking his stupid note and writing STFU in big black letters and putting it on his door.

    I hate people. I despise them. Every day, I think I cannot possibly hate people more, and every day, I am proven wrong. Every day, I am handed fifty new reasons to loathe people.

    Maybe I should just move to the mountains and build a fortified underground compound where nobody will ever bother me again.

    But then, what would I bitch about?

  • One night in Bangkok, and the tough guys tumble.
    kitten   December 10, 2001

    So this Saturday, I'm taking Laura to see Britney.

    That's right. kitten got tickets. Courtesy of my mother and stepfather. Unexpected, yes, but hey - we takes what we can gets when we gets it.

    I'm bloody excited. I think I'll bring my Britney doll, which will be extra amusing, as Laura and I plan to dress as goth as possible.

    And thanks also goes out to Brian for getting me a copy of the Mirrorshades Anthology.. a book that is virtually impossible to find. I haven't got it yet, it's on special order, but sometime soon you can expect a review.

    Come on, feel the noise.
    kitten   December 9, 2001

    After reading Bryan's latest post about movies, I once again got into my "anti-artist type" mode and argued for a while about something I've been arguing for years now: That the director, while he does do something, is not all-important to a movie, and I'm tired of hearing the "artsy" types of the world extoll the virtues of a director above all other aspects of a movie.

    Yes, for years I've argued that a good director cannot save shitty dialogue, that all the dramatic camera angles and fade-outs in the world cannot help a screenplay that sucks, and that the director, all in all, is like The Government: his job should be to do the minimum necessary and then stay out of the way, because his potential for benefit absolutely pales in comparision to his potential for destruction. If the only thing a director does is not fuck the movie up, he should probably be commended.

    And tonight, it all came down to a few sentences. I used the Matrix as an example of a technically well-directed movie, because it was. Even I could see that. The camera angles were imaginative and dramatic, the lighting noticably added to the tone of various scenes (including the Matrix vs Real Word divisions), and the entire "live action anime" thing was held to very well. No doubt, the Wachowski brothers did a superior job directing the movie, and are talented in their field.
    However..


    [kitten] If a soap opera director had done the Matrix, it would have sucked.
    [kitten] On the other hand, if the Wachowski brothers directed a soap opera, the soap opera would still suck.

    Thank you. Please drive through.

    Saturday Evening

    Disclaimer: Now I remember why I don't attempt poetry, ever. I had this idea to make it a song - even had the music swirling around inside my head, but it's not like that will ever happen. Whatever. You've been warned.

    You turn away, don't you want to know?
    You had me at the point of a gun
    Nothing that you could have asked
    That I would not have gladly done
    For you
    Just to keep you beside me
    For you
    Just to keep you here with me

    I said that being with you was like living in a dream
    That dream you've now dashed on the rocks and torn out at the seams
    You input all your pretty words into my concious stream
    And your lies course through my mind like an incandescent scream

    And with that comfort came a price
    You would easily extract
    Yes, my trust was broken long ago
    But my hope remained intact
    And you
    Yeah you took that hope from in my heart
    So you
    Could have the pleasure of pulling it apart

    Sit there at your table
    Go on, look out that window
    See the darkness through the glass
    The nameless people walking past
    Dream on - you don't need me
    Dream on - you never will
    Go on, admit it, yeah you're doing fine
    Just admit it to yourself - you won't remember me with time

    I can't have escape from you no matter how I scheme
    ...every word you speak to me still echoes with that theme
    You input all the pretty words into my concious stream
    And lies spill out from your cheating lips like an electric scream

    I still have a dream, a memory
    The one thing I know that's true
    If I ever had anything at all
    I'd sell it to get to you
    And today I have but one regret
    That as an atheist
    I have no Hell that I can wish
    Your fucking soul to rest

    az 12.08.01, 2120

    Life needs a ctrl-alt-delete.

    You get that that too, when you wear sunglasses? Maybe you call it your 'game face', that expressionless feeling that comes from the 'shades ability to shove aside the world, mask what's behind them. An emotional neutrality that permeates the rest of your face, you regard everything with a cool and detached demeanor; the gaze of your fellow simians slides right off you.
    Eye contact is what it's about, and when they can't connect with you through the cornea-locking ritual, they get confused. Scared, even.
    You get the feeling when you take them off? - that suddenly you're naked, vulnerable to the world, your eyes feel wide and you're radiating your emotional state like a radio beacon, but not deliberately; they can see your eyes now, squinting as you adjust to the light. You stand there, shades in hand, exposed and weak. You'd better get brave, fast.

    Outside, it's a monochrome day. You know the type - today, if you were suddenly colorblind, you wouldn't realize it. Everything is rendered in beautiful black and white grayscale - the asphalt a dark slate, the sky the color of polished steel, cold and cracked. It's the color of lost memory, the tarnished achromatic leaves tumble through a vague dull mist.

    You get that feeling too? - where fast-food restaurants are sort of a boulevard of broken dreams, of hopelessness? You see the old man sitting alone at a table, a sad plastic tray of generic tasteless food in front of him, as he consumes it without really thinking. Where is he as he looks out the window at the world, cars going by, pedestrians on the crosswalk, traffic lights in their ceaseless cycle through crimson and lime? The rest of the tables are empty, for the most part - the only sounds in the place, save for the occasional cacophony of various timers in the back (which alert the staff that more pre-formed mass-produced fodder is ready to sit under a heat lamp) is the ambeint Muzak, which runs it's endless cycle through Christmas carols, songs of family and joy and hope. And just where is the joy and hope for that lone man, sitting by himself on a Saturday afternoon?
    Though as for that.. why am I here? Plus or minus forty years, I am that man. I am disgusted with myself as I hand a five-dollar bill to the middle-aged cashier behind the counter, pick up my tray laden with it's little cardboard boxes of preservative-filled foodstuff, carry it to the corner furthest from the old man, and look out the window as I eat, not even tasting my Value Meal n, where n could be any number from 1 to 9 and it wouldn't make a real difference.

    I remember tracing the freckles on her back, from left of her delicate spine to the one on her right shoulderblade and back again. My lips feel useless and boring because she's not there to listen to them or kiss them, and I remember the color of Orion as depicted on her left shoulder.

    Before I realize what's happened, all that is left before me on the table are crumbs and a mostly-empty paper cup of coffee, and I take my plastic tray to the plastic trash can and tip the contents through the plastic "Thank You" door, and then put the tray on top of the trashcan with all the others, ready to be rinsed off and used again for the next customer who walks through the airlock-style doors.

    Outside, I put my sunglasses back on, though I really don't need them in this weather. They make me feel confident - well, more confident, anyway - and I light a cigarette as my car starts like a bad day and rumbles onto the street in a defiant cloud of Swedish metal.

    You ever get that feeling?
    Maybe you don't. Other people aren't like this, I think.
    It wouldn't surprise me to find out I'm the only one.
    It wouldn't surprise me to discover I'm abnormal.
    Wouldn't surprise me at all.

    In the back of my mind, I can still hear her voice, her siren song, calling my name.
    I surrender.

    No, Mr Bond, I expect you to DIE.
    kitten   December 7, 2001

    So my father dropped by my office today to get lunch, and handed me a wrapped package, with the admonishment to not open it until Sunday, which is Hannukah.

    Well, screw that. I'm an atheist.

    Inside was a Game Boy Advance in Glacier Blue. I was blown away.

    Straight away after work, I visited Wal Mart and picked up one of the new Zelda games, The Oracle Of Seasons. It was designed for the Game Boy Color, but what the hell.. it plays on the GBA, and Zelda games just plain kick ass - although it doesn't touch a fraction of the GBA's abilities. I can't wait to get my hands on some of the new games.

    At any rate, despite this bit of humor being not too far from the truth, my Final Answer is that the Game Boy Advance does, indeed, kick serious amounts of ass.

    While at Wal Mart, I also picked up some white "Window Chalk", which one would use to apply writing to a car window. I didn't plan this, but I ended up turning my back window into a rolling banner ad for mirrorshades.org. The stuff was insanely difficult to apply, as my windows are all heavily waxed - excellent for driving in the rain and promoting glass clarity, but tough to write on.

    Mm. We'll see if anything stupid happens.

    Should have known better, anyway.
    kitten   December 6, 2001

    For some reason, I ventured today back to my old stomping grounds. I haven't been to dalnet's #teenchat in two years or so - which is about right, considering that means I left when I ceased being a "teen".

    But this evening, I thought I'd drop in for a moment, see who was still there, pay my regards.

    I was almost immediately greeted with this:


    [`ave] yeah I was warned about you
    [kitten] Er.
    [kitten] Were you, now.
    [`ave] they said that you'll tear someone apart
    [kitten] Hah.
    [kitten] Well.
    [`ave] and that there is no way in hell that you can argue with kitten without being made into a total idiot
    [`ave] so yeah
    [`ave] i was warned about you

    The legacy lives on, it would seem.

    At any rate, I left shortly thereafter. Just a minute or two in there was enough to remind me why I abandoned it last time. :)

    Whee.

    Goodbye, Mr Bond.
    kitten   December 3, 2001

    If I was a James Bond villain, I would be Dr Julius No.

    I enjoy fine dining, nuclear power, and initiating global war.

    I am played by Joseph Wiseman in Dr No.

    Who would you be? James Bond Villain Personality Test