Tick Tales of Misery and Occasional Ecstasy

March 8, 2010

My Weekend LOL

Filed under: humor, My Past — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 12:52 pm

It usually takes a lot for me to laugh out loud when I am by myself. Laughter is best (and most infectious) when shared with others. Usually, when alone, the most outrageous laughter I make about humorous things like a sitcom or movie is a snort of air through the nose. I’m getting better at that now, really. But one thing happened over the weekend that not only made me laugh out loud, but a good belly laugh that lasted for several minutes. I am going to tell you about it, but for it to be funny for anyone else but me, some setup is required.

Setup Item 1: My Grandfathers house. My biological Grandmother died before I was born. She lived in a small house in rural Idaho with my grandfather. This was in the 40’s through the late 60’s. To this day, it is almost impossible to get a decent over the air television signal there, and radio signals aren’t much better. What I am getting at is that during that time frame, there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do to keep yourself occupied. My grandmother read books. A lot of books. She also did jigsaw puzzles and there was a lot of card playing. (Never play Pinochle with my Dad. He literally grew up on the game, and shows signs of paranormal abilities regarding what cards you are holding) Grandma had a preference for mystery books. Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, Agatha Christie… they were all well represented in her library. And her library outlasted her, and remained in the house. There were built in bookshelves in every bedroom, as well as a bookcase in the living room. They were all filled to overflowing with books.

Setup Item 2: My Childhood at “The Ranch.” Grandpa eventually remarried, and the woman he married already had a house. It was a nicer house, and she didn’t want to leave it. So, Grandpa would drive about 40 miles every day to what we called The Ranch, and do his job of farming and raising cattle, and then return home at night. The house he used to live in was now only being used when he had lunch. It would also be used when my family would spend the weekend there. The point is, since the Ranch wasn’t lived in, it fell into a bit of disrepair. There were three bedrooms, and two of them were one big room split down the middle. You had to walk through one room to get to the second. When we stayed there, my parents would sleep in what would have to be considered the “master bedroom” only because it was where the parents slept, my sister would sleep in the first of the other two bedrooms, and I would sleep in the living room on the pull-out couch.

I know what you are wondering… why didn’t I sleep in the back bedroom? Well, there are two very good reasons. One: the second bedroom was being used as a storage area. It held boxes of toys from when my Dad and his brother and sister were young. Second: It was full of dead flies. My sister and I called it “The Fly Room.” See, over the years, a bit of a hole opened up in the wall. Not completely to the outside, but the space between the inner and outer walls  was exposed. As a result, flies were able to get in that room. They lived their entire life cycle in that room. They were born, lived and died in that room, their crunchy carcasses blanketing every surface, including the floor. The practice of my grandfather and my family was to keep the door shut and pretend it didn’t exist. My sister and I were the only ones to venture in there, mostly out of boredom. TV signals were still poor, and the TV itself was a black and white holdover from the 60’s. I did not know that the General Lee was orange until The Dukes of Hazzard went into syndication. I went in there for books, my sister for anything she could find that was interesting. I was a voracious reader from the time I was very young. It helped that my family literally lived across the street from the county library. Before we would leave for the weekend, I would check out several books from the library, take them to The Ranch, and have them read by mid afternoon on Saturday. Then I started reading all of Grandma’s old books. She introduced me to Nero Wolfe, who I still visit regularly; Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, who did not interest me as much as Nero, and others that I remember enjoying, but can’t remember the titles or authors to re-read them today. I probably read her entire library.

Setup Item 3: Recently, my sister had a hard drive crash on her laptop, and it was replaced. I was trying to help her with getting her programs set up the way they were over the phone, and she told me that she had lost everything in the crash; pictures, videos, financial records, everything. I told her to mail the old drive to me and I would see if anything could be recovered. When it showed up in the mail, the box was waaaay bigger than necessary to hold a laptop hard drive. She had sent me belated x-mas gifts and a bunch of Valentines candy along with it. The belated x-mas gift was around eight books from my grandmother’s library that she remembered me reading. It was very sweet of her. I put the books on a shelf and intended to read them as soon as possible.

Setup Item 4: The eBook Revolution. Over the years, I have bought and sold or donated a staggering number of books. A few years ago, I got my hands on an Amazon Kindle. I still have at least half a dozen U-Haul small boxes full of books in my shed. And yes, even the small ones packed with tightly compressed paper are heavy. So I decided to find as many books that I owned and enjoyed in an electronic format so I could lighten the load. I found that many of my old favorites were not only out of print, but also not available in an eBook format, anywhere. So I did a little research and decided that if I had to, I would scan the books in their entirety and use an OCR program to try to decipher the text and I would make my own eBooks for convenience, but keep the out of print originals.

On with the story: Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time reading, and cataloging the eBooks that I have acquired so I would have an easy method of sorting the physical books I own into Keep, Scan and Keep, and Sell or Donate piles. I decided to do a test run of the whole scanning and OCR process, but I didn’t want to go out to the shed, since the grass is still super saturated with melted snow and I didn’t want to unseal the book boxes. But, there on a shelf were the books my sister had sent me that would work wonderfully for a test. I went to the shelf. “Peanuts, no its all graphics and the first gen Kindle doesn’t deal with that very well. The Great Brain? Encyclopedia Brown? No, too many pictures along with the text… I just want something text only. Ahh, here we go. This one shouldn’t have any pictures!”  I pulled the book from the shelf and opened it to a random page, intending to flip through it to verify it’s “no pictures” status. It opened to the most likely page, the one with obstacles in it. I knew at a glance that this book had indeed come from The Ranch. In between the pages, the reason the book naturally opened there, I found about a half a dozen very dead, very flat flies. And I laughed. Then I laughed harder. I knelt there on the floor in front of the shelf and roared with laughter.

The book? William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”

OK, so maybe it’s still only funny to me. But you now you can’t unread this post and you’re stuck with it.

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March 27, 2009

Mathematical Improbability

Filed under: humor, personal, Social — Tags: , , — thetick @ 11:49 am

I was recently talking with two of the ladies I work with, and we were discussing various things. I mentioned that I had bought a Play-Doh Fun Factory for the express purpose of making Space Invader cookies. The younger of the two, in her early twenties, was amazed that I knew how to make cookies. I then went on to describe a few of  other baked goods that I am able to make. I knew that many of the terms I was using were going over her head when she described an egg separator that had been given to her by her grandmother, and I had to tell her what it was for and how to use it. Then she asked why you would want to separate the egg yolk from the egg white. The first thing that popped into my head was that egg whites are used for meringue. I then also told her that I use a egg white and water mixture to dip chicken into before coating it with my own special blend of corn flake crumbs and various spices and seasonings. I explained that by doing this, I was able to get a crispy outer coating, while the chicken inside remained moist and juicy when baking, rather than frying. At this point, she turned to the other lady and asked, “Are you hearing this?”

The other lady looked me in the eye and asked, “How in the hell are you living alone?”

Further discussion reiterated what I had been told in the past. Women who are already attached see me as the embodiment of what they wish their current partner was more like. While I am not currently ready to start dating again, the conversion did get me to thinking about the time when I am ready. As things stand right now, I am still married, even though I have been separated for over six months. I cannot change that fact for another six months, due to state laws regarding divorce. But that even outs, really. Most “professionals” state that you should give a year after a divorce before you start thinking about dating, so by the time I can file for divorce, that year waiting period will be over. Once the Judge signs the paper, I can date again and not violate my own personal standards regarding cheating on a spouse, and will have completed the recommended period of  “alone time.”

As I went through the rest of the week, going to stores or restaurants, I began to take a greater notice of the females I encountered. Things didn’t look good for the future. The ones that I saw that met my indecipherable criteria for interest all had a similar health issue: A huge tumor growing on the ring finger of their left hand. More commonly referred to as an engagement or wedding ring. Since a friend of mine has been studying statistics and probability and we have had several discussions about it, I thought I would run the numbers and see where I stood.

I pulled up the Census data, as predicted for 2008 and then looked at the demographic breakdown for different categories. I then used my own “rule of thumb” and “SWAG” estimates on the hard data. (If you don’t know what SWAG is, it is an acronym meaning Scientific Wild Assed Guess)

I used population data for the county rather than the small town since it gives a much larger sample to work with. The county population is 14 times higher than the town, and the county is so small that nowhere in it is a drive of more than 20 minutes. The county population is 42,190 people, with 50.5% being female. So there are more women than men, so far so good. I now have a group of 21, 306 women to choose from. But wait! Not all of them are in my age range. Luckily, the census data had already selected a age range that fits my personal age range of date-able women, the 25-44 bracket. Only 29.9% of the population falls in that range, so now I am down to 6,370 date-able women. But I do have standards, and I will only date unmarried women, so combining the demographics of “single, never married” and “divorced,” there is only 32.4% out of those that I can look at. This leaves 2063 potential subjects.

Not bad. Even if I assume a 1 in a hundred chance, there are still 20 to pick and choose from, and that is based on the hard data. But I haven’t added in the SWAG data yet. Based on information gathered from various sources, basically meaning that I got to know a few people at area restaurants and bars and flat out asking them about women that met my attractiveness quotient, approximately 60% of those without rings on their fingers are currently involved in a serious relationship that has been going on for quite some time. Eliminating those, we have 825 remaining possibilities. Keeping my eyes open in grocery stores, restaurants, etc, I have concluded that I only find 1 in 3 women in the area attractive. Now I am down to 272. Given my own quirks,  I would estimate that only 10% will either share or be able to accept the odd hobbies and interests that I have. Now we are down to 27 possibilities.  Assuming that there is only a 10% chance that two people will have a mutual attraction for each other, I am down to 2. Then we figure in the possibility of a chance meeting putting these people in contact with each other, which I calculate by adding myself to the number of possibilities and dividing by the total population, I am down to a .0007% chance.

What is the point of all this? Nothing really. Nothing more than a diversion into applied mathematics. A very complicated story problem. “Given the above data, how many one dollar bills Tick will need each month for the tipping in strip clubs? Solve for XXX.”

January 13, 2009

New Year Nostalgia

Filed under: humor, My Past, personal — Tags: , , , , — thetick @ 5:17 pm

People who know me in the flesh know that I like to tell stories. Most of them are from personal experience, and they are the ones that make me laugh every time I think of them. This is one of those stories.

It was New Year’s Eve, somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago. I was visiting the family for Christmas, and by New Years, boredom had set in pretty hard. I decided I wanted to go out for New Years, and knew my uncle would be up for it. I gave him a call, and we decided to start the festivities. A friend of his was going to be joining us. We hit the first bar and got our drinks. It was 4:30 in the afternoon. I knew we were in for an interesting night, because the friend had recently been “86’ed” from the first bar. Every time we went to get a new drink, the girl behind the bar whispered to my uncle that he needed to get his friend out of there before her boss showed up. My uncle and I had been catching up on things, and reminiscing about my grandfather. I had seen a small bar stuck in the corner, not being used, and it looked familiar. I asked my uncle, and he verified that it was the one that my grandfather had built for his basement. I “tended bar” behind it when I was about 8 for a party or two my grandparents had held. The friend spent his time talking to the other customers, and the conversation always went the same way. “I thought you were kicked outta here?” “Yeah, but…” The conclusion changed with every telling. My uncle finally decided that it was time to get us all out of there about 7:30, since the owner could show up and any time and he didn’t want to get 86’ed for bringing his buddy in. This was the only bar in town, after all. Oh, there was also the issue that my uncles boss had come in with his wife, and she kept asking me to dance, since her husband kept refusing to.

The friend had proceeded to get very drunk, very fast, since he couldn’t go into that bar he wanted to get while the getting was good, and my uncle drove him home. We sat in his driveway, and he wouldn’t get out, and kept babbling about how unfair it was that he was 86’ed. My uncle finally had to fake a temper tantrum about how pissed he was about his friends misfortune, and that he was going to go back and “straighten this shit out once and for all!” This finally got the friend out of the truck and we left. We decided to go the the “happening place” instead of going back. Now, the town I grew up in doesn’t allow bars inside the city limits, so we had to go to an even smaller town that did. This was only about 15 miles away, but the bar was much nicer. It had been around forever. I remember going to the restaurant there as a kid, and how neat it was that the interior walls were decorated with shingles that local cattle ranchers had burned their brand on. The front was a restaurant, the back was a bar, and they usually had a live band playing on the weekends. Before we went there, we had to stop at the local convenience store, since we were both out of cigarettes. While we stood in line, my uncle noticed a small bowl near the register full of packs of gum. These were the old Beemans brand. They also had Clove Gum. My uncle went nuts over them both, and bought several packs of each. This is important later. We picked up another friend of his and proceeded to the next bar.

The joint was hoppin’ when we got there, and we proceeded to get drinks and wander around meeting and greeting. I met a staggering number of relatives, which caused me to have concerns regarding my familial traits. I was drinking my normal beer, but the uncle was showing a tendency to regard the bar as a sampler tray. I don’t think he ordered the same thing twice. Beer, followed by a shot of whiskey, followed by a martini, followed by “Whatever you think I should have” directed at the bartender. His friend sat at the bar, chatting up a rather attractive lady in her early forties, who kept asking him the same question; “Aren’t you married?” “Yeah, but…”

I had found the evenings theme.

Midnight rolled around and the uncle was swaying. Neither of us got kissed, but we toasted each other and cheered with everyone else. The band played, people danced, and everyone had a good time. Except the friend. He didn’t get kissed at midnight either, despite his best efforts and buying many drinks for the lady. Around 12:30, I told the swaying uncle that we needed to go, since I had to leave early the next day to drive back home. He had taken a bar stool and placed it directly in front of one of the large  speakers the band was blasting. He told me to go get his buddy. I wandered over to the bar and told the buddy we were leaving. He looked at his lady friend hopefully, and said that he thought he had a ride. I turned to her and tried to verify this, and she introduced herself to me with a smile and wink. A Cougar before Desperate Housewives made it cool. She asked if I was really leaving, and wanted to know why. I told her that I was leaving to go back to Arizona the next day, and may have mentioned that I was bored and hadn’t even been kissed at midnight. That was all she needed to hear, and planted a big wet one on me. The friend did the whole “shoulder your way into the conversation”‘ bit by literally shouldering his way in between us. He then asked her if he had a ride home. She said that she would provide his transportation, and I found out later that she had deliberately dropped him off at the wrong house.

By that time, the uncle had come to see what was taking me so long. I told him we could go, and as we left to go out the back door, I heard his friend begin telling the lady all about me, and my disreputable qualities. He had known me for about two hours. We got into the bar, and rather than walk around the crowded dance floor, my uncle weaved a precarious path through the middle of it. There was a lovely young thing dancing with her date, and my uncle was so taken by her that he didn’t watch were he was going, and her dance partner bumped into him. The young man apologized immediately, and I pushed my uncle through the remaining crowd and out the back door. We were in the alley behind the place, and he started telling me about the girl he had just seen on the dance floor. I informed him that I was there, and had seen her. I was getting rather frustrated, because now that I had stopped drinking and wanted to go to bed, he was delaying me. Plus, I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to get his keys from him and I didn’t want to be his passenger. So, I was a little stressed. The remainder of the events from the dance floor caught up to my uncles drunken consciousness and he stopped in his tracks, no mean feat, and said, loudly, “That little fucker pushed me!”

I grabbed his arm and tried to get him moving again. “No, he didn’t. You ran into him.” I explained. “No, that little fucker pushed me!” he said again as he broke free of my grasp and turned to go back inside. “I’m gonna kick that little fuckers ass!” I had had enough. I grabbed him again, took hold of his coat with both hands and pulled him close as I screamed in his face. “No, you’re not! You ran into him, then he apologized to you for it! I am the one that pushed you, to get you out the fucking door! You aren’t going to do anything but give me the keys and get your drunk ass in the truck before I kick your ass!” I gave him a little shove backwards as I released him. He starred at me angrily. Then he stared at me with confusion. Then he just stared.

“I ran into him?”

“Yes. Give me the keys.”

“He didn’t shove me?”

“No. Give me the keys.”

He started feeling around in his pockets, and finally extracted… the Clove Gum.

“Would you like some Clove Gum?” he asked.

“No, give me the keys.”

“I think you would feel a lot better if you had some Clove Gum.”

“I don’t want any goddamn Clove Gum, I want the fucking keys so I can take you home then I can go to bed.”

“I know that when I get upset, Clove Gum always helps calm me down. You should have some Clove Gum.”

I took a piece of gum, then demanded the keys again.

“I can’t find ’em.”

We went to the truck, and the keys were in the ignition. Sometimes I miss that small town trust. My  uncle snored the whole way to his house, and I woke him up and sent him inside. I told him goodbye, and had to explain to him, again, that I was leaving the next day, and got in my truck to head to my grandmothers. As I pulled away, I looked back at him to make sure that he had gotten inside the house OK. He was waving his arms at me. I backed up and rolled down the passenger window. “What?” I yelled.

“You want some Clove Gum?”

To this day, he claims that someone slipped him a Mickey.

October 8, 2008

Rantings of BitterGeek

Filed under: humor, ranting, writing — Tags: , , — thetick @ 3:24 pm

Last week, I picked up my copy of Heroes, Season 2. I had been re-watching season 1, then followed that up by watching season 2, then got caught up to the current episode the past two couple of nights watching them online. I had high hopes for this series, and the first season delivered on those hopes. There were a few things that I felt the series could have done without, and in a few cases, I thought that there were a few too many characters. After getting caught up, I felt the need to rant and rave, and if I blog about something in my old bitter manner, maybe my friends will stop calling me a pussy and I will get a few more hits on the blog.

What the fuck is up with Peter the Retard, henceforth known as Petard? The future version keeps trying to go into the past to fix things before they go wrong. His latest tactic? Have his past self get Sylars power so he can understand the workings of the space time continuum and figure out how to fix it all. OK, so we saw in the future that there was a friendly relationship between Sylar and Future Petard, but he decides it has to be younger Petard to do it. Why? He had finally figured out that he was an idiot and kept screwing things up, so why didn’t Future Petard get the power and figure it all out BEFORE he went into the past and fucked it all up? I have heard of dumping the workload on someone else, but dumping it on your younger self? “I don’t have to do it because I already did it.” And how come the only abilities he is able to absorb are super abilities? Couldn’t he hang out at MIT and get smarter, so he isn’t always fucking things up? How about football, or basketball? Rock Concerts?

And who the hell is keeping track of the alternate time lines? Have these writers never read any sci-fi? Even Back to the Future did a better job with time line continuity. Scarface Petard was a part of the alternate future where New York was blown up, but here he is again, same old scar. And how the hell did he get the scar with Claire’s healing powers? Did the Haitian sit there for a few weeks keeping his powers in check so everyone would be able to tell the difference between good Petard and Bad Petard? And the Irish girlfriend that he accidentally dumped in an alternate future. Yeah, she’s gone now. He left her there, went back and changed history and that time line vanished, taking her with it. “Sorry, babe. I was totally gonna come back and get you, but I had to shoot my brother and turn him into a Bible thumper. When I thought about it, your time line was gone. Don’t worry, though. Your brother is already dead because of me, so there isn’t anyone to mourn your loss.”

We spent a lot of time in season one showing Hiro’s growth, even to the point of his dad explaining what a waste he had been up until he discovered his powers. Now, Papa is proud and even left him 51% of the company. But we keep seeing Hiro as a idiot, a perpetual comic book man-child that doesn’t have the ability to grow up. And his dad, “I’m gay but I have a kid” Sulu, knew what a idiot his kid was, as shown by the two DVD’s he left. The first one said, basically, “There is something really important in my safe. It’s so dangerous, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. So don’t open it.” When the DVD’s come out, I will slo-mo that to see if I am right and Sulu is suppressing a chuckle. You know that after he stopped recording, he said to him, in Japanese, “That little shit is TOTALLY going to open the safe.” Sure enough, Hiro opens the safe and there is another DVD in there. First thing it says? “I told you not to open the safe!” If you knew he was going to do it, why not give the damn thing to someone you can trust to follow your every order without question, even if they think its wrong. Like your DAUGHTER! You know, the one who proved her worth in Season 1? But no, you have to give it to the kid who is sitting in your office reading comic books and fucking with time because he is bored. Are you even surprised that he got it stolen about fifteen seconds after that?

Now, on to New Orleans. And the new character, re-using a first season actress because she is the one everybody is hot for, goes and looks in a coffin to see herself, amazingly NOT in little bits in spite of being blown up last season. And the only one around in the house? The dead lady’s son. “Hey little Micah, we know this is a tough time for you and all, but we are all heading out to get some chow. You stay here, alone with your dead mom, and we will bring you back something. Kay?”

And lets just go ahead and kill Parkman and Mohinder. Give someone the ability to grow big like Super Chief and step on the bug Mohinder is becoming. Actually, I don’t think its the cockroach that everyone else does. I think its a lizard of some kind. Future MoLizard doesn’t have more than four limbs, and the shit he peels off of his back is more like scales than bug exoskeleton.

And what the hell. Are we going to eventually find out that Mama Patrelli is immortal, has been around for thousands of years and fucking EVERY ONE of the “special” people are her kids? And if they had Adam locked up for thirty years and they fucking KNEW about his miracle heal all snake oil blood, why is ANYONE associated with the compaby even dead. The guy from season 1 that Daddy Bennett blew the brains out of? He should still be alive. Linderman? Alive, not a FUCKING GHOST. All the people that Sylar killed? Find their brain, pop it in, shot of Adam blood, BOOM. We know who Sylar is.

The only thing that really connected with me was the whole Sylar/Daddy Bennet partnership. That was classic buddy cop formula, and it worked. I would really like to see that come back into play. Sylar always trying to find a way to treat the bad guys like a soda bottle and get the powers, Daddy Bennett always trying to figure out a way to knock off Sylar and get away with it. Tons of room there.

OK writers. Here’s the deal. I know what you have to do to get this show back on track. Go to the biggest comic book stores in the area, and find the two guys that are arguing about some stupid aspect of comic book storylines. Watch for the ones that cite references. Hire them. Do this in about four or five different places until you have ten or so. Their job? Sit in a room and watch the episodes over and over until next weeks script is done. Then they read it. I guarantee you that they will point out every continuity issue, every plot hole. These people are your demographic, they will keep you on track. And they work for Cheetos and Mountain Dew.

October 4, 2008

And in Other News…

Filed under: humor, personal — Tags: , — thetick @ 7:18 pm

Tonight, the melancholy front that has lingered over the area for the last few weeks was interrupted by a sudden thunderstorm of bizarre.

“It just came out of nowhere,” one witness said. “I was just sitting there, watching Heroes when all the sudden my future ex mother-in-law called to tell me about her new car.”

Elaborating on the story, the witness told this reporter about the last time he had spoken with the woman. He was in the process of saying goodbye before moving out of the house. She was leaving for work, and he would be leaving in a short hour or two. He said that he had expected an emotional farewell from her, as they had been living in the same house for several years, and he had the impression that she felt close to him due to the fact that he reminded her of her father, who had passed away a few years prior. According to him, there was no goodbye, she only brought up the matter of some money that was owed to her.

“I told her to take it up with her daughter,” he said, “then I walked away and she walked out the front door. I haven’t seen or spoken with her since. When I saw the caller ID on my phone, my first thought was that something terrible had happened.”

But that was not the case. Apparantly, the woman was so excited about the purchase of a new vehicle, she was calling everyone. She spoke for several minutes describing the car before changing the subject to her malfunctioning computer. Eventually, the man had to fake a yawn mid sentence to get her off the phone.

“It was really weird,” he said.

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