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Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth

Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth published on No Comments on Day 26: “No Goblin King yet.” Modern Wizard in the Labyrinth

My current temp assignment places me in the state’s largest office complex, as measured by square footage. Like the hospital where I once worked, the complex started as separate buildings, together forming an integrated plant for the manufacture of computer chips. Over the course of expansion, separate pieces of architecture merged into one convoluted maze. The company that originally filled these buildings now retains only a ghost of a presence; current primary tenants are another chip manufacturer that bought out the local division of the first and a division of the state’s Health Access Department, where I work.

I’m ostensibly here to do UAT testing, which in itself is its own recursion of absurdity, but, after several weeks, I’m now 86.2% certain that I’m in the Labyrinth. Here’s the evidence:

Everything looks the same. The sadistic genius who constructed this place started off with that thoroughly dank industrial style common to so many 1960s and 1970s office buildings: unadorned square forms the color of wet mud, cement walls, long rectangular windows impossible to open, raw metal pillars, endless corridors – all topped off with liberal use of jaundiced fluorescent lighting. After duplicating this style in several cubes, they then linked the cubes together with identical glass catwalks. I have walked around for fifteen minutes, expecting myself to be in one building, only to realize I’ve gone through three replications instead.

The landmarks aren’t landmarks. When I discovered that one of the glass catwalks had bird decals along its sides, I rejoiced, thinking I had found a way to differentiate it from all the other catwalks. But no. All the other catwalks have the exact same decals, in the exact same pattern, at the exact same positions. It’s like the place is working against me.

The arrows point the wrong way. There are signs pointing to two key locations, the cafeteria and the state offices. 95% of them actually show you which way to go, but 5% of them point you in precisely the opposite direction, just for shits and giggles. Of course I followed the 5%.

The maps show you where you aren’t. I came across a route for indoor walking that described a loop through several buildings. It showed a location where the route started, but there was no indication of where I was in relation to that starting point. What is the point of a map if there’s no basis for comparison?

The denizens have a sarcastic and scatological sense of humor. I saw a sign on a door that said, “We provide fast service…no matter how long it takes!” Also someone scribbled out the first word on the “Records Retention Room” label and wrote “Poop” instead.

Time runs differently here. You may have no idea where you are around here, but you’ll always know what time it is. Well, scratch that. You’ll always see a clock, as they hang throughout the halls at junctions both major and minor. You’ll probably never know what time it is, as each clock seems to preside over its own local time zone that varies from all contiguous ones anywhere between zero and ten minutes.

There are dangers untold and hardships unnumbered. To get to my office, for example, I must traverse the Fiery Corridor of Death, a catwalk in which the overcranked HVAC combines with exposure to natural sunlight to yield about 50 feet of heady, smothering heat. Then, of course, there are the Exits of Mockery, which means that the door most convenient to my car would sound a fire alarm if I opened it, so I have to circumvent it with a 10-minute walk in the opposite direction. And then there’s a Failure Analysis Lab, where, I assume, you are taunted with explicit details of all your past mistakes until you cry. Chilling.

I suppose that, if I solve the maze, I will escape and win a permanent job with decent pay and benefits. But what constitutes a solution? Should I be heading for the center? As far as I can tell, this place has no center. Should I be heading for an exit?

And who’s in charge of this thing? The Goblin King appears to be conspicuously absent, which I suppose is good because he’s an immature, petulant little shit. So should I be looking for Daedalus or perhaps Ariadne? Should I be on my guard for a Minotaur? Now that I think about it, I do hear a dull roar, but that could just be the air conditioning….

“Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

“Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon published on No Comments on “Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

Like many things in life, my perspective on letter writing as a form of activism has been deeply informed by Calvin & Hobbes, the seminal comic strip of my childhood, by Bill Watterson — namely, the particular strip from which the title of this entry is pulled. However, I have decided to employ this tactic regularly, given the cesspool of which the incoming President seems determined to make of the national government. This week’s Bat Fax, addressed to Representative Pat Leahy [D-VT], Senator Bernie Sanders [I-VT], and Representative Peter Welch [R-VT], concerns the future President’s appointment of Steve Bannon to position of White House Racist in Chief. Text below.Continue reading “Quick! To the Bat Fax!” or, Haranguing Government Officials on…Steve Bannon

The ice cream contains WHAT?

The ice cream contains WHAT? published on No Comments on The ice cream contains WHAT?

The corollary to Mr. Ding-A-Ling, this experience is based on an encounter with a local parlor’s odd flavors. Sometimes unusual flavors can be delicious — I myself have had wonderful cucumber sorbet, wasabi ice cream, and strawberry basil ice cream — but sometimes I get the feeling that the makers are just being weird for weird’s sake.


Side note: You can tell that it’s coming along autumn when Jareth breaks out the combo of slit throat choker and phalanges jewelry! ^_^


Side note 2: My favorite expression in this story is Jennifer’s in panel 8. That’s disappointment and revulsion all rolled into one if I ever saw it!


Continue reading The ice cream contains WHAT?

The ice cream van is named WHAT?!

The ice cream van is named WHAT?! published on No Comments on The ice cream van is named WHAT?!

Jareth encounters an oddly named ice cream van. Yeah, ice cream. That’s what this photostory is about: ice cream. :p

P.S. There is a real, actual, 103% true ice cream van by this name that drives around Winooski. I am not making this up. [My fictional ice cream truck would probably be something like Creemees 2 Go or Artisanal Cone Productions, Inc.]

Continue reading The ice cream van is named WHAT?!

45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say

45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say published on No Comments on 45 Things You’ll Never Hear Someone From Vermont Say

From here, with my commentary.








  • The middle of the road is the best place to stop your car and take pictures of the leaves! We like to complain about leaf peepers as much as we complain about the weather. We’re also sometimes uncertain why they’re taking pictures of the leaves and why, if they like them so much, they just don’t take them back with them.
  • Who are those two guys that started that ice cream company? Ben and Jerry! We’re still sad that they sold out to Unilever.
  • I’ll take all of my groceries in plastic bags, please. This is implying that Vermonters tend to go for paper bags, their own bags, or no bags, but I dispute this, having seen plastic bags in use ubiquitously.
  • What’s your area code? ‘S’all 802, buddy.
  • You should probably shave your beard. I guess we don’t remove our facial hair here?
  • I wish more people would get married in rustic farm barns. “Rustic farm barns” is a tridundant phrase; we just call them “barns,” and they’re not some vintage shabby chic wedding destination in our view. If we’re talking wooden barns, those are the dilapidated structures all over the state that people either use as makeshift garages/sheds or just allow to slowly decompose by the side of the road.
  • I’d love some vanilla soft serve. It’s a vanilla creemee, not “soft serve,” and local tradition decrees that it [and any other flavors] must be advertised via large, handmade wooden cutout of a creemee in a cone.
  • I need something to put on my pancakes. Please pass the Aunt Jemima. We don’t use racist water, sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, here. We use what comes from sugar maples — so-called “REAL maple syrup,” the adjective being there to distinguish it from the swill that almost everyone else in the country counts as syrup.
  • No, I don’t know any farmers. Most of us know farmers…
  • You just moved here from Connecticut? Oh, you are definitely a Vermonter now. People who have moved here from out of state are called “flatlanders.” We tend not to consider people Vermonters unless they were born here, along with their parents, etc.
  • I bought so much stuff at Target today! We have no frickin’ Targets in this state, but plenty of Wal-Marts. What gives, Target?
  • There is no such thing as Champ the Lake Monster. We take our cryptid seriously.
  • I don’t own any flannel. Better statement: “I don’t dress in layers.”
  • Did you see that great billboard advertisement on I-89? We don’t have billboards in the state, so we always experience the shock of their ugliness whenever we cross the borders.
  • I never run into anyone I know! Vermont: a small town cleverly masquerading as a state.
  • I’ll pass on the craft beer; just toss me another Bud. Microbreweries proliferate.
  • I’ve never met anyone who smokes weed. I guess it’s ubiquitous, like real maple syrup.
  • I don’t eat organic food. I guess it’s ubiquitous, like real maple syrup.
  • This restaurant only serves local, farm to table food? No thanks. Locavore and farm-to-table movements have great support here, to the extent where we assume that all locally based restaurants should participate.
  • What’s a fiddlehead? It’s the unripe, rolled-up frond of certain types of fern, edible steamed or in salad.
  • Vermon-T. We swallow the T and insert a glottal stop.
  • Moun-T-ain. Insert glottal stop instead.
  • Spring is the season that comes right after winter. Nope, that’s mud season.
  • The weather here is so predictable. The only thing predictable is that we complain about it.
  • Rain in January? Yes! January is statistically our cold month; though we may have some rain for January thaw [or at least we did when our weather was more regular], we tend to get lots of snow then.
  • You have gluten intolerance? Good luck finding a restaurant to eat at. We apparently have lots of gluten-free options.
  • We are proud supporters of the University of Vermont football team! UVM doesn’t have one. We’re all about hockey instead.
  • You’re from New Jersey? Wow, that’s so cool! Flatlanders…! >_>
  • Let’s leave the beer brewing to the professionals. See statement on Bud.
  • Let’s go to Stowe for an inexpensive weekend getaway. Stowe is not cheap at all!
  • I’ll just quickly run into the store and grab what I need. I won’t talk to anyone, promise. See “small town” comment.
  • No more kale! “Eat more kale!” [Corollary: HISSSSSSSSSSS to Chick-Fil-A.]
  • The leaf peepers are leaving for the season? Nooooooooo! See comment on taking pictures of leaves.
  • I wish my neighbors lived closer. They live so close that they won’t go away.
  • I hate that we have to drive so far to go hiking. Getting anywhere is pretty much a hike.
  • Let’s move to Massachusetts! Some of us moved to get away from Massachusetts and have no desire to return.
  • I think I’ll just stay inside all weekend. We tend to like to frolic outside.
  • It’s snowing out, looks like school is going to be closed. Snow does not necessarily guarantee school closure; lots of ice and crappy back roads, however, tend to shut it down.
  • What’s Town Meeting Day? It’s when the local government gets stuff done.
  • Phish got started in Vermont? I had no idea. We tend to have some idea.
  • I sure wish there were more Subarus in this parking lot. Four-wheel drives like Subarus really help in the winter.
  • People go on vacation here? Really? Why? Some of us have deep, unreasoning love for this state.
  • The air is so dirty. I guess it’s cleaner than other places, but it’s really not that great over all.
  • This state has nothing going for it; I think it’s time to leave. “Deep, unreasoning love.”
  • Bernie who? The politician we’ve all been on a first-name basis with since the 1980s.


“It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo

“It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo published on No Comments on “It’s a novel; it’s not a manual!”: the problem with 50 Shades of Pooooooo

50 Shades of Poooooooo somehow came up in discussion at the Friends of the Library meeting this evening when we were talking about the prospect of a book swap and donations this spring. I felt it apropos to mention that the first book in the series keeps getting stolen from the library, so I keep donating copies to replace it. [Okay, just twice, but still…]

Favorite response: “Why would you steal it?! It’s a novel; it’s not a manual. You’re supposed to read it and then return it, not keep it for reference!” That cracked me up because clearly the speaker was not thinking about the pleasures of rereading. I was also entertained because, distressingly, people actually do take the series as a manual for either an ideal relationship and/or how to practice bdsm.

On the subject of pooooooooooo, a friend has sent me a pdf of Masters of the Universe, which is, of course, E.L. James’ Twilight fanfic that eventually spawned the Media Juggernaut of Poooooooo. If I don’t get lost in some infinite wormhole of recursion upon reading it, I might post a thought or two about it here.

Spring time in Vermont: see screencap

Spring time in Vermont: see screencap published on No Comments on Spring time in Vermont: see screencap

More accurately, mud season in Vermont.

It was like 24 degrees F this morning, and it’s currently 54 degrees F. Tomorrow we anticipate a high of 65 degrees F, followed by 1 to 3 inches of snow four-letter word on Saturday and a high of barely above freezing on Sunday.

The truism that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb doesn’t really apply in this state. March might come in like a lion, but, at some point around the middle of the month, it turns into an ornery goat who won’t stop taking ludicrously high jumps and deep dives, all the while swerving between moments of deceptive mildness interspersed with biting nastiness.

Continue reading Spring time in Vermont: see screencap

The story of Braintree: a town with an interesting name

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Of the many place names in New England transported here from settlers hearkening back to their connections in Old England, I most like that of Braintree. There’s a Braintree in Massachusetts and one here in Vermont. Both of them take their name from Braintree, Essex in England. As far as I’m concerned, though, that’s less than half the story. The etymology geek in me has a burning desire to know how several locations in the world are named after [according to my overheated imagination] trees growing out of skulls.

Unfortunately, the etymology geek in me will not be adequately satisfied. Wikipedia, font of all knowledge online, deems the origin of the name Braintree "obscure." Despite that, the online encyclopedia discusses several possible sources for the name, most of which support the idea that, somehow, Braintree began life as something like "Brantry" or "Branchetreu," both of which seem to mean "town by the river."

In fact, in the Domesday Book, a 1086 record of land use and taxation covering much of England, records Braintree as "Branchetreu." As far as I can tell, this appears to be the earliest record of the place name in its somewhat recognizable form. Thus it’s worth looking into the sources of Branchetreu.

Branchetreu, like Braintree, breaks down into two syllables with a different origin for each: "Branche-" and "-treu." The speculation that Braintree means "town by the river" leads me to interpret the "Branche-" as equivalent to the French la branche, which is one of those words that means the exact same thing in both language. La branche in French and "branch" in English both refer to those small extensions of a tree growing up and out from the main trunk; both words also carry the same figurative meanings that denote the subsidiary parts of certain things [e.g., governments]. Therefore both words can mean "a separate smaller offshoot of a larger river." "Branche-" clearly equals "river," at least in my mind.

So what about that "-treu?" According to Wikipedia, the suffix "-treu" is equivalent to the modern suffix "-try" or "-tree," which used to mean "farm" and then expanded to mean "settlement" or "town." Apparently this appears in town names around Wales. If that’s so, then "Branche-" = "River-" and "-treu" = "town," making "Branchetreu" = "Rivertown." The shifts changes in spelling and pronunciation we can attribute to the inevitable changes in language as it wends through the landscape of time.

Even though I know Braintree is basically Rivertown, the poetic images of its current iteration — brains and trees — will always teem in my mind. When I think of Braintree, I think of a tree in a cemetery growing out of someone’s skull. More specifically, I think of an old New England family plot, full of effaced and canted stones, and an apple tree rooting in one corner, planted firmly in the pot of a dead person’s skull. Or I think of another feral apple-like tree, once by a house that has long since disappeared. Short and broad, it bears the heavy burden of its fruit: bright ripe brains, swinging from their stems. Or, more metaphorically, I think of the nervous system as the epitome of a brain-tree: with the spinal cord as its trunk, it ramifies in electric branches throughout the body, with the brain at its fruiting crown.

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Front Porch Forum is fascinating.

Front Porch Forum is fascinating. published on No Comments on Front Porch Forum is fascinating.

Around these parts, we have Front Porch Forum, a uniquely Vermont Internet development, which provides E-mail lists for every town in the state [sometimes for several neighborhoods within towns, if the towns are large enough]. Like most E-mail lists, it contains classifieds, notices from town government and local services, requests to borrow things, thank you notes and loads of rants. I belong to the Winooski one and one for the neighborhood in Burlington where I work.

A few days ago, someone posted on the Winooski FPF that she didn’t like a sign that Sneakers [restaurant] put up in a little garden in an island near our horrible traffic rotary. It said "Sneakers — Yield to Bacon," which she, as a member of a Muslim household, found insensitive. She added that it was a safety hazard, impeding visibility for drivers and pedestrians, and wished that it was removed.

As Seven Days, our local newsweekly reports, poo flinging ensued. An inevitable backlash of posters castigated the original poster as a coward, a terrorist and the epitome of what was wrong with today’s "politically correct" society. Soon a representative from Sneakers posted, apologizing for upsetting people, explaining the joke behind the sign and adding that the sign would be taken down. The inevitable backlash then apparently subsumed the restaurant in its bitter wash; Seven Days reports that Sneakers has received so much bile on its Facebook page that it took said page down.

For the record, I recognize that the sign was offensive to the original poster, even though it wasn’t intended to be. I disagree with her particular targeting of the Sneakers sign as a danger, however, since other local businesses put up little signs in the sponsored gardens on the rotary islands, and she didn’t seem to have a problem with them. I thought that her original complaint was a reasonable statement and justification of her opinion, and I also appreciate the restaurant’s respectful response. They did include the "Well, we didn’t mean it!" line in their apology for offense, but they did apologize sincerely, and they took down the sign as a gesture of good faith. If only more institutions acted with such sincerity and sensitivity…

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Additions to the 1:6 scale fridge

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At the suggestion of a Figurvore member, I added a local menu to the fridge. [I found it online and reduced it to 16.67%, then printed it out.] I also added a LOVERMONT sticker, since Vermonters really like to proclaim their attachment to their state.

Continue reading Additions to the 1:6 scale fridge

Genius discovers other libraries in county!

Genius discovers other libraries in county! published on No Comments on Genius discovers other libraries in county!

I have a list on Amazon of Books to Read Eventually, which has been hovering between 50 to 60 books long since its creation last summer. Some books I can find at my most frequented libraries, the Winooski and Fletcher Free [Burlington], while others, I know, I will just have to out and out buy. Sigh.

In a truly stupendous flash of smarts this morning, I realized I could check other libraries in the county for some books on my list. Winooski participates in the Homecard system, where persons with cards at participating libraries can show their cards at other participating libraries and sign out books. [Fletcher Free doesn’t participate because it’s selfish and doesn’t play well with others.] There are three Homecard libraries that I feel comfortable trekking to for books — Brownell [Essex Junction — not really a trek], Essex Free [Essex Center] and Dorothy Alling [Williston]. I found seven of my wish list items at these libraries and one for download at!

Maybe one of these days I’ll actually read all the books on my list!

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“1 month, 1 city, 1K books!”

“1 month, 1 city, 1K books!” published on No Comments on “1 month, 1 city, 1K books!”

Awwww, I love the Winooski Library. They just started a campaign to get the library patrons to collectively read a total of 1,000 books between July 15th and August 15th. If we hit that goal, we get an ice cream party!! Books and ice cream! What could be better?! Of course I’m going to pitch in by letting them know of all the books I read.

I wonder if there’s any capacity in which they need volunteers? I would love to regularly scan the stacks for books to sign out shelve books, for example.

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Eating local is yummy!

Eating local is yummy! published on No Comments on Eating local is yummy!

I waited outside for 15 minutes today [estimated windchill factor negative a billion] because the Hindquarter, Cloud 9 Caterers’ former fire engine and current mobile food van, was parked in front of my building today, and I had to test out their burger ["House Grind, Smoked Country Bacon, Lettuce, American Cheese, Tomato Jam"] and onion rings ["Buttermilk Soaked, Malt Vinegar Aioli"].

First I ate the onion rings. They were light and crispy, with no sogginess that I usually associate with larger, cheaper versions. Their noticeably salty flavor [which I liked] was cut by the mild aioli. That’s glorified mayonnaise for you philistines. :p

Then I ate the burger, which came on a toasted, buttered bun. I appreciated this detail, as untoasted buns distract me from my burgers with their chewy texture. The meat was juicy, tender and done medium, as far as I can tell [outsides definitely cooked but not hard, insides lightly cooked but not red]. The bacon added a nice smoky note, and the cheese and lettuce were fine. Everything merged together into a hearty mess of flavors, except for the tomato jam, which did not overpower the burger, but definitely had a slight medicinal aftertaste. Could’a’ done without that, but, for $11.00, I was very pleased with my meal. Definitely worth waiting 15 minutes in the cold for!

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Burlington “International” Airport

Burlington “International” Airport published on 1 Comment on Burlington “International” Airport

At Burlington "International" Airport, daily arrivals and departures occur to/from the following cities: Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Newark, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia and Washington DC. There are seasonal flights to/from Toronto and daily bus trips to/from Montreal, which are the only qualifications I can think of for the "International" in its title.

It's a source of great irritation to some of us Vermonters that there are no flights to/from Boston out of BTV. For that, you have to go across the lake to Plattsburgh "International" Airport, which defeats the purpose of having a direct route to Boston slightly quicker than Greyhound "We'll Get There Whenever We Feel Like It and Stop in 46 Towns Along the Way" Bus Lines or the Amtrak "It Takes All Day and Only Gets You Three-Fourths of the Way There" Choo Choo Service.

Of course, now there's Megabus, which takes only 4.5 hours to go between Burlington and Boston. Where was this service for the past decade of my life when I was hauling ass regularly on tedious Greyhound trips that took approximately 5 years? >:(

Adventures in voter registration

Adventures in voter registration published on No Comments on Adventures in voter registration

City employee: Town clerk's office.

Me: Hi, I swear I registered to vote last year, but I'm not showing up on the Web site. [gives name and address]

City employee: Nope, you're not registered.

Me: But I registered last year when I switched my driver's license over.

City employee: Yeah, Motor Vehicles is really bad with giving us that information.

Me: So I should register again?

City employee: Yeah.


Must! Have! More! Books!

Must! Have! More! Books! published on 1 Comment on Must! Have! More! Books!

Since I moved here, I have become a fiend for used books, whether at bookstores or, more often, periodic sales to support local town libraries. In the past few months, I’ve hit the Alling Library’s humungous Fourth of July sale in Williston, the Brownell Library’s September sale in Essex Junction, plus 2 sales at Fletcher Free in Burlington. Sadly, I missed the Essex Free’s annual sale in Essex Center, usually in early June, but I’m planning on attending next year, if only for nostalgic reasons [Essex Free was my childhood library].

On Sunday, for example, I thought I’d just pop by the Fletcher Free Library to return a book. However, it was the last day of their yearly book sale, with books going for $5.00 a bag. Suddenly a time vortex occurred. When I next looked up, I had 15 books in my Fletcher Free tote bag, and it was an hour later. I was powerless to resist!

Anyway, I discovered a directory of some of the library-related book sales in the state. While not complete, it does allow me to direct my future fiending activities. I see sales at Pierson in Shelburne in October and at Brownell in October and December to hit, as well as a really big one at the end of June next year in Burnham in Colchester. I really need to get on some local mailing lists to find out when these things are happening.

I love/hate you, One Credit Union.

I love/hate you, One Credit Union. published on 1 Comment on I love/hate you, One Credit Union.

I do not keep a check register. I used to when I first got a checkbook when I was 18, but then I figured, Why bother? because I could always get to my account information online. Also I write checks very rarely.

Anyway, I've found check registers less and less useful as I have grown older because I track my accounts online. Tracking my accounts online, of course, depends on prompt updates to my accounts whenever money goes in or out.

Herein lies my problem. I had no trouble with prompt transaction posting and, thus, online account tracking when I lived in Massachusetts and patronized multinational banks.

Now that I've switched to a Vermont-based credit union, I'm having difficulties. About the only thing that posts promptly are automatic deposits, like my paychecks, and automatic withdrawals, like my auto insurance and auto loan payments. Everything else — that means purchases on my debit card and transfers to/from Paypal, both of which make up the bulk of my account activity — takes days to post. For example, Saturday's debits typically don't register until Tuesday. NOT HELPFUL. The lag time in transaction posting certainly makes it easier to overdraw my account.

Anyway, I called the credit union today to see if cash withdrawals from ATMs would post more promptly than debit card purchases. Answer: No. Apparently there is no way to achieve prompter posting of my transactions until APRIL 2013, when the credit union upgrades its software.

The person I talked to at the credit union told me to keep a check register and record all my transactions in it. This would not work because I have automatic withdrawals of varying amounts on varying days and automatic deposits of varying amounts on varying days. Furthermore, NO. It is not my job to go back to the 19th century to accommodate my credit union. It is the credit union's job to haul its ass into the 21st century to accommodate me and the other customers.

I'm very happy with One Credit Union for giving me a small auto loan with a low interest rate and for not charging overdraft fees on debits [only for checks]. However, I am really infuriated with them for their lack of updated technology. Do they still think people are banking in person with actual bills or something???

Adventures in hemostat purchasing, part 2, apparently an ongoing series

Adventures in hemostat purchasing, part 2, apparently an ongoing series published on 1 Comment on Adventures in hemostat purchasing, part 2, apparently an ongoing series

Creative Habitat: Are those a scrapbooking supply?

Michael's: Try Aubuchon's or Lowe's.

Bibens Ace Hardware: Nope.

Home Depot: Perhaps you meant long nose pliers?


Adventures in hemostat purchasing

Adventures in hemostat purchasing published on 1 Comment on Adventures in hemostat purchasing

August, my Buddy Doll April, came yesterday in pieces. I need to clean and restring her. Having never restrung a doll before [with proper tools], I seek hemostats, among other things. I called the local Walgreen's to see if they sold hemostats.\

Me: Do you sell hemostats?

Person 1: Let me check.

[long pause, hold music, boredom]

Person 2: Hello, Walgreen's.

Me: Hi, I was wondering if you sell hemostats.

Person 2: Can you spell that, please?

Me: H-E-M-O-S-T-A-T-S.

Person 2: What's a hemostat?

Me: It's a clamp thing.

Person 2: Is it an over-the-counter product?

Me: You know, if you aren't sure what it is, you probably don't carry it. Thanks. Goodbye.

Local news sources

Local news sources published on No Comments on Local news sources

I'm wondering if I should subscribe digitally to the Freeps. I need my local news and information, and the New York Times does not provide it, primarily because I don't live in New York City.

Alternatively, there's always Seven Days.

EDIT: Seven Days reports that the Freeps is circling the drain.

Estate planning, part 2

Estate planning, part 2 published on No Comments on Estate planning, part 2

After my horrible experience with Clarke Demas and Baker’s disgustingly heteronormative policies, I searched for an explicitly GLBT-friendly estate planner in Vermont, vowing to ask if this one had up-to-date forms. One of the few firms whose site clearly mentioned experience with same-sex couples was Unsworth Law.

Preliminarily, I can say that my experience with Unsworth has been much better than my experience with Clarke Demas and Baker. For one thing, the firm is clearly in touch with reality. For another, the legal assistant sympathized with my outrage at Clarke Demas and Baker. She could actually say the words “same-sex marriage,” which shouldn’t be that much to ask, but which made me feel very pleased. I’m going to a general seminar by Unsworth about estate planning next week. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s

Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s published on 2 Comments on Heteronormativity at the estate planner’s

My financial advisor has been bugging me to make a will, power of attorney, health care agent, all that sort of thing, so I finally got around to scheduling an initial consultation. At my sister's recommendation, I chose Clarke Demas and Baker, a Vermont-based law firm, and scheduled an appointment.

I received a PDF intake form for a single person, but wanted a Word document so I could make notes on it. When I received the Word intake form, I noticed that it was for married people, but I decided to use it anyway.

Then I looked closely at the married intake form. It was divided into 2 columns, one labeled "Husband" and the other labeled "Wife."

Outrage overcame me. [It does that a lot these days.] We've had marriage equality here in the state since 2009, but Clarke Demas and Baker apparently refuses to accept reality by simply changing their forms to read "Spouse 1" and "Spouse 2." They may have experience doing estate planning for same-sex couples, but their forms betray what they really think of us: we don't exist.

I refuse to patronize a law firm that thinks I don't exist. My business is going elsewhere, and I'm telling them why.

EDIT: I just explained to the legal assistant my cancellation and my reasons. I said that they should update their forms. She said, "I apologize; we do have a form for that."

Now I'm really glad I'm not using their services. My God, if the legal assistant can't even say the phrase "same-sex marriage" and if, for some reason, there's a separate form [separate but no doubt "equal!"] for same-sex spouses, the firm clearly devalues me and my ilk.

Heteronormativity at the dentist

Heteronormativity at the dentist published on 8 Comments on Heteronormativity at the dentist

Following up on my entry earlier this year about sexism on a customer service line, I present the following conversation, which happened between me and the dental hygienist this morning. I was actually finding the poking, scraping and drilling much less annoying than usual, thanks to the hygienist's sense of humor and skills. Then we started talking about mouthwash.

I asked for recommendations of alcohol-free mouthwash. I mentioned that "my fiancee" used mouthwash with alcohol, which I did not like because of its strong odor.

Hygienist: "What kind does he use?"

Me: "I don't know what SHE uses."

Conversation continued with recommendations.

So she automatically assumed that I was engaged to a guy because a) I look like a woman and b) the majority of marriages are between a man and a woman. However, given that spouses are not always 1 man + 1 woman, people should know better than to make that assumption, especially in Vermont, which is on the vanguard of marriage equality in the US. The definition of marriage has changed yet again, people. Get with the program!

P.S. My FIANCE?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? What fiance?

P.P.S. Holy crap, the hygienist was not the only one behind the times. Just out of curiosity, I typed "define marriage" into Google.

Merriam Webster's online dictionary says:

"(1) the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage"

FAILURE. Just say "the state of being united to a person as a husband or wife…blah blah blah." says something similar:

"1. a. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. Antonyms: separation.
b. a similar institution involving partners of the same gender: gay marriage. Antonyms: separation."

FAILURE. It's all the same institution.

Google's first dictionary result has the same problem:

"1. The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife
2. A similar long-term relationship between partners of the same sex"

THREE STRIKES AND YOU'RE OUT. It's not "a similar long-term relationship." It's the same thing!

Not until Wiktionary do we get a more accurate definition, talking about an exclusive union between two or more people. Subdefinitions clarify that, in some jurisdictions, marriage is defined as being between 1 man + 1 woman, while other jurisdictions allow 2 partners of any sex to marry. But the main thing is the exclusive union.

I actually like the Wikipedia entry the best, as it seems to capture the concept and purposes of marriage that have remained stable over time: "Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship." Marriage is a grouping of people to create social units. Everything else varies. If you don't like that, you're on the losing side of history.


Ewwwwwwwwwww…/Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! published on 2 Comments on Ewwwwwwwwwww…/Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

We noticed yesterday that my work water bottle had yellow-green mold hanging around the bottom. :p Given that I haven’t replaced it since last July [it’s just a drug store water bottle with a squirt top], I decided to throw it out and get something else… This time my water bottle will be bigger and easier to clean…and I’ll put a recurrent reminder in my Outlook calendar to clean out the bottle at least every month.

In GOOD news, the best bread in the state is made just diagonally across the street from my workplace at Great Harvest Bakery. I go there at least twice a week to stock up. They’re very sneaky, in that they give out free slices of some of the day’s creations. That’s how they hook you… Since I became addicted last summer, I have tried many types of bread, including the following:

smoked Gouda and stout
pizza bread
nine grain
Gold Rush [a hearty bread with cornmeal]
Mountain Crunch [a sweet bread with gold and brown raisins and cranberries]
Popeye [has spinach]
cran apple orange
almond babke
brownie bread
carrot cake cream cheese roll
spinach feta
apple cheddar
maple cinnamon chip
blueberry coffee cake
farmer’s white
farmer’s wheat
coconut almond tea bread
Mediterranean olive
green chili cheese
cinnamon swirl

They also make delicious BLT panini for lunch.

Gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom

Gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom published on 2 Comments on Gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom

Once upon a time, at some point in the previous millennium, Jill and I came across an amusing personals ad in Seven Days. The poster sought other gay men who knitted in the Northeast Kingdom. We thought that his chances of finding someone else who shared all those identities was vanishingly small, and "gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom" became a standard reference for a ridiculously specific set of conditions.

Years later, I wonder how many gay men there are who knit in the Northeast Kingdom. Let's do the math, shall we?

The Northeast Kingdom is a region in, obviously, the northeastern corner of Vermont, containing Essex, Orleans and Caledonia counties.

Essex County = 6,306 people as of 2010
Orleans County = 27,231 people as of 2010
Caledonia County = 31,227 people as of 2010

That's a total of 64,764 people. We'll say that 50% of them are men.

That leaves 32,382 men. Let's say 10% of them are gay.

That leaves 3,238 gay men.

But how many of them knit? A 2003 survey showed that 1,300,000 people in the US know how to knit. Dividing that into the total population of the US in 2000, which was 281,421,906, we get a ratio of approximately 0.00462, or, rounding up, 4.6:1000.

Assuming that the ratio of knitters to the general US population remains stable from 2003 to 2010, that's about 15 gay men who knit in the Northeast Kingdom.

Yup, that's a vanishingly small amount. And that's not even getting into the probability that the 14 others will even see the ad that the 1 put in the paper!

Podunk, Vermont and other places

Podunk, Vermont and other places published on No Comments on Podunk, Vermont and other places

"Podunk" exists in the U.S. imagination as a mythical town of such remoteness and emptiness that it epitomizes hillbilly rurality, but, interestingly enough, there are several places in the U.S. actually named Podunk. One, a subdivision of the extremely small town Wardsboro (population 854 as of 2000), exists in my home state, Vermont. A few years back, the Washington Post gave an interesting, if cursory, look at the place with the folklorically charged name.

Podunk, located in Windham County in the extremely southern part of the state, flourished during the mid-1800s, peaking at 1000+ residents, most of whom were subsistence hill farmers. The population dwindled as residents of Wardsboro moved to better land or more industrialized places to live. By 1916, Podunk’s schoolhouse closed, and the forest began to overtake the once-cleared fields. Current residents sometimes happen upon abandoned foundations in the underbrush and, more poignantly, little cemeteries, mere family plots with a few markers. The population now numbers half a hundred full-timers, though that number may be increasing, at least on a seasonal basis. With the Mount Snow and Stratton Mountain ski areas nearby, Podunk now attracts vast vacation homes for skiers. Though Podunk is not an especially significant place, it is one with an interesting history, one that currently is being paved over by oblivious gentrification.

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