Tuesday, September 15, 2009

another textbook skull fuck

i have posted at some length about the unmitigated ass rape that is the college textbook scam.

it managed to bite me again today, and i am so unbelievably angry i won't even try to bother being nice (or hide the guilty party behind some "won't say their name" thing).

the book in question this time is this one. the book is decent in terms of material, but i have complaints about the course structure i'll save for another post.

today i bought a new computer i'll also save for another post. (i'm writing from it now, and it's pretty sweet.) as part of the setup for this new computer, i needed to put the electronic textbook i bought onto this new computer.

the electronic textbook is about $50 cheaper than the paper version, and being on a budget so tight i couldn't stick a straight pin up its ass, i went for it.

like all textbooks, it's drm-laden shitware. you have to download the vitalsource reader, log in, and then download your book to mess with it. (you can only print two pages at a time, or copy text two pages at a time, and when you copy, it includes citation garbage stuffed onto the clipboard whether you want it or not.)

it turns out that they only allow you to use your book on two computers at a time. it should theoretically be possible to de-authorize one computer and transfer the authorization to another.

but no.

there's no way to deauthorize within the software on one computer, and when you try to authorize the third, you get the wonderfully helpful error "you have reached your machine activation limit."

the useless faq doesn't actually say anything about errors like this. oh, no, you don't have to back up your purchases, you can re-download them ... but if your machine crashes, apparently you actually can't redownload because the system won't let you "authorize" your computer!

call support, which is 24 hours. i talk to a rep who doesn't understand the problem. i tell him i need to deauthorize one computer and authorize another.

he puts me on hold to find out how to do this.

it turns out, the way you do this is to escalate to second fucking level support. a simple, straight-forward situation that happens all the time is beyond the capabilities of their first level support team: customer with a desktop and a laptop calls in, has upgraded one computer or the other, and wants to take his textbook with him. but gotcha! we can't help you do that.

so the second level guys will supposedly get in touch either by phone or by email -- he doesn't know which -- with a resolution -- but he doesn't know when. he also couldn't explain the benefits of the product to me, when i asked -- as in, why i'd want this product now.

meanwhile, shitware ebook company that over-charges for their drm-laden, mind-numbingly broken crap has my money, while i have a book that's half-broken.

while i have lots of personality and philosophical clashes with the guys over at the free software foundation, it's true that vitalsource's shit is defective by design.

Friday, September 11, 2009

what health care reform will do for me

i've become incredibly cynical over the last few years, about many things. cynicism is essentially my staple emotion these days. as the shouting over health care reform goes on, i can only continue being cynical.

the reason is the same as ever: there is always a gotcha, and i always get got.

cash for clunkers: the gotcha was that the old car had to be titled to the buyer for a year. i'd had my truck that long, and had a court order giving me possession that was over a year old, and i had an open title, but that wasn't sufficient. gotcha.

medical coverage: you can get medicaid for your kids, but in texas, non-disabled single adults simply don't qualify because we don't believe in public assistance here. it's not income-based anything; if you're an adult and you're not disabled, you're just not eligible. gotcha.

mental health: in texas there is a patchwork of mental health "systems" because we don't actually believe in funding such things. in this case i did eventually get in, but because of their protocols i can't get the medications that would be most helpful, and it took literally months -- which is a long, long time when someone is debilitated by depression -- to actually get an appointment to see an actual doctor. besides that, it's about the most unprofessional office i've ever been in -- my sessions with the doctor get interrupted, sometimes four and five times in a 15 minute session. gotcha.

food stamps. if you don't work enough, you can't get them. if you can't find work, you can't get em. and when you do apply, be ready for a long, long wait. despite federal law requiring that food stamp applications be decided within 30 days of receipt, texas consistently lags. my own appointment for interview is 112 days after application receipt -- and if they want documents, it'll be even longer. meanwhile, they direct you to food pantries. this sad state of affairs, a result of texas's republican legislature's unwillingness to fund services for its citizens, has spawned a class action suit. gotcha.

as i hear debates about co-ops and subsidies based on income, i believe ever more firmly that it'll wind up being the same old song: just like the mccain plan, where you'd get a $5,000 "tax credit" with which to buy health insurance (that costs, on average, $13,000 a year -- where does the other $8000 come from?), there will wind up being some kind of subsidy, but there won't be a corresponding plan that will cost only what the subsidy pays.

if the subsidy is, say, $10,000 per year for a family of four, that still leaves a a deficit of $3,000 to be paid by the family. in 2008 the united states census used a figure of $21,834 as the definition of poverty for a family of four with two adults and two children. for that family, that $3,000 deficit represents almost 14% of their income, or $250 a month.

i don't know anyone living on that kind of income who can afford to shell $250 a month.

what does that mean? even with subsidies, health insurance will still be out of reach for people who, like me, don't qualify for programs like medicaid.

i did some calculation based on the texas health pool rates, which seem to be semi-reflective of private market policies in the state. that $13,000 figure above assumes a group policy. so if we calculate for a family of four -- a man, a woman, a male child and a female child, ages 35, 35, 0-18 and 0-18, none of whom smoke, who live in the Dallas area (it's rated by zip code), we get a grand total of $21,888 a year -- for a $1000 deductible policy that then pays 80% to an out of pocket max of $4,000 not including medication.

the total of premiums and out of pocket limit (again, without buying any meds) is 118% of the income of our family of two adults and two children.

amusing note: the state pool has a 1 year pre-existing condition clause, and acceptance isn't guaranteed. need asthma medication or insulin for your diabetes and haven't had insurance for a while? gotcha.

another amusing note: the pool provides coverage for kidney, pancreas, heart, liver, lung and bone marrow transplants, with a lifetime limit of $300,000. so if all you need is a pancreas or kidney, *AND* nothing goes wrong, you might get lucky. otherwise, you're fucked. gotcha.

the rates i used, by the way, are effective 1 august 2009, and represent a 6.3% increase from the previous rate table. it's amusing to note that the 2008 rate of inflation is 3.8% (so the increase in pool rates appears to be about 180% of inflation, if i did my division correctly); in 2009 it's -2.1% (that's right, negative).

i have seen lots of bluster and lots of promises, and i want to see good things happen. i want to believe.

but do i?


Saturday, September 5, 2009

they're coming to take me away

i've never laid out the courses i selected. i guess i should.

chemistry 1111. this is general chemistry for science majors, lab.
chemistry 1311. this is general chemistry for science majors, lecture.

physics 1100. "the fun of physics." i've been to two of these classes and still have no idea what the class is actually about.

geology 2406. this is the real reason i'm living this semester -- this course. geoscience methods. geology is a field science, so during this course they're marching us out into the field for ... field trips. including shit like camping.

precalculus of some stripe or another. yet another fucking math class.

so far, so good.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

no you can't

yesterday i had a brain wave. ordinarily i pick the kids up for a day or two every other weekend. this coming, when i'm moving, would ordinarily be my weekend, but as i'm moving and will have my living space torn up in preparation, i decided this was a bad idea. so i sent a text message to sue telling her that i wouldn't be picking up the kids because i'm moving.

her first reply was snide: are you moving the bed bugs too?

this is of course something i've come to expect from her. she always has a rude comment to make when the opportunity presents itself. she is completely unable to cooperate or simply act in a professional, business-like manner when it comes to dealing with me. i decided against saying that i'm taking only my three favorites, sue, cunt, and bitch.

then she sent me another one: she wants to see where the kids will be sleeping in the new place before she lets me take them over there.

the immediate answer was the one i sent: i'll still be doing visitation at my step-mom's, and they won't be coming to the new place. this is actually true; i don't have the space for three kids of their age in my new digs, and my landlord was ... less than enthused ... about my bringing them over. so if they do come over, it won't be for longer than an hour or two.

the more correct answer, which i'll probably offer next time the issue comes up, goes like this:

not just no, bitch.

you lost the right to pass judgment on my living arrangements when you filed for divorce. i don't ask to inspect your double-wide, and in fact have never been past the front door. i don't make noise about the boyfriend/fuckbuddy you live with (that our court order prohibits you from permitting to live there). if you think the kids would be unsafe, call child protective services. otherwise, talk to the hand.

it bothers me, obviously. not so much that she's "concerned for the kids' welfare." really, that's bullshit. she was never able to trust that anything i could do would work, and now obviously she thinks that, again, everything i touch will turn to shit. while i cheerfully admit that i am not perfect, i've never taken my kids anywhere that's actually dangerous.

but it bothers me that she seems to want to continue to be the bitch and act like she somehow has an interest in the decisions i make. this is why i don't discuss my life with her, although in truth i'd like it if we could be at least friends. but that's not going to happen any time soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

and now the wait

for school to start.

apartment: rented.

actually, it's a bedroom and rest-of-house use rights in a house. it'll be me, the landlord, and another tenant. rent is $500/mo abp. nice neighborhood. i'm pre-paying through the end of december.

now i have to pack, and disinfect everything i own so i don't take bed bugs with me.

i am ... excited.

textbooks: bought.

only one book available on amazon. the chemistry book is bought as an ebook. i dislike ebooks generally because they're drm crap. but they're cheaper (though often not by much) than the hardcover ones. of course they're never available used, and often they expire.

this one appears to not expire, which is a good thing. if it does, i'm going to be wildly pissed.

but as with all of these products, it's essentially an ass-rape and you're unable to save any significant money.

the hard textbook and access to the homework site costs ... $200. if you buy the ebook a chapter at a time, it costs a total of ... $200. if you buy the ebook and homework site together, it costs ... $150. if you buy the ebook separately from the homework site, you spend a total of ... $150. do we see a common thread here?

of course, it's a first edition of a new book, so no used copies are available. your only choice is to buy new. you could, in theory, buy from another place, but ha! you don't get the homework site code, so you'll actually spend more doing this than you would just buying the package from the student bookstore. isn't the student bookstore a "

oh, and you know of course that there will be a new edition next year or the year after, so that everybody has to buy new again, right? even though the basics of an introductory chemistry course haven't changed in 30 years, it's vital to update the books ... so publishers will still have jobs.

i can not emphasize too much what a skull-fuck i think the textbook racket is. yet students are pretty much powerless to stop it.

even with all that, i'm cautiously optimistic. i have absolutely zero wiggle room in the budget, but i might be able to make a go of this. hopefully with some side income or maybe a part time job i can swing it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

a pile of updates

so. some updates. a bunch of posts all rolled into one, i guess because otherwise i’ll never get it done.


my step-mom was of course none too pleased. i bleached everything in my room and only put back the bare minimum in terms of clothing, storing the remainder in trash bags that now live in the back room. she of course doesn’t like the bags, and so i’ll have to move my stuff back into my room in the next week or two, which means it’ll all get reinfected, and my bleaching it all was a complete waste.

when you have bed bugs, treatment is expensive. i had two places come out and both gave quotes of $350 a room, one with a 60 day warranty, and one without. you then have to put cloth encasement things on your bed, and those are expensive to buy. we of course need two -- one of the mattress, one for the box springs.

of course, neither of us can afford the treatment, and so i continue to be bitten.



last fall, i took six hours to keep student loans at bay at harvard on the highway. i got a b in the math course i took, but i got an f in the geographic information systems class. i blew it off. if i were to study geology, i’d need to repeat it as an upper-division course, so the junior college stuff wouldn't transfer and was basically just three hours that i needed only for financial aid purposes. but the prof couldn't be bothered to update the course materials for the current version of the software. supposed to be a high-level course about geographic information systems fundamentals, and not specifically about the software, i spent more time fighting with the software and his outdated instructions than i did actually using the course material.

i found some of the labs just impossible to do as described -- features in the software had moved, been renamed, or been fundamentally redesigned. the course instructions depended on microsoft access 2003 and hadn't been updated for office 2007. it turned out that access and excel and so on no longer export to dbase iv format files, and so an export step i was supposed to perform couldn't be done. i could have created a vmware box and installed all the crap on it, done the export, and deleted it, but that seemed like way overkill for a bullshit situation. so i blew it off.

so when i reapplied to the real school, they looked at the gpa only of the last semester and decided i no longer qualified for readmission to the big school, even though i qualified for readmission at the junior college. insane. i filed an appeal with the admissions committee, but they didn't even bother to fucking answer my letter.

okay, fine. so i looked around for other schools to apply to. there are lots. i could have applied here but it's $$$private$$$ and i didn't imagine with a 2.9 gpa i had a snowball's chance of actually getting in.

this school is excellent but they don't offer a major in the program i want, only a minor. that was a no-go.

that pretty much left the university of texas at dallas. i could get in, so i applied. and lo and behold, they deigned to admit me.

and so after i got admitted, i did the financial aid application. and lo and behold, they gave me money. not a lot of it, and certainly not enough to live on outside my step-mom's house. but enough that i can go full-time for a while.

now, all that's left is the major and classes.



when i last went to school, i had decided that i'd do a program called "interdisciplinary studies," which is essentially create your own degree. the degree i created was a mix of women's studies courses, business stuff, some law and history, and i came out with something that i called "egalitarian business management." except it was really "the business of pornography," but you can't put that on a degree plan.

a large part of that was driven by sue. but now that we're no longer married, her feelings about what degree i should pursue really aren't a factor in my life anymore. she was never especially supportive, and as the marriage failed she became even less so. now i no longer need to worry about her, and i can pursue the degree i want for my own reasons, independent of her feelings.

when i was in second grade, the school's kindergarten teacher did a little course with us on geology. she taught us a little about different kinds of rocks, about how lava is really very hot liquid rock, and so on. i was enthralled with obsidion, a black glass-like volcanic rock.

when i was at harvard on the highway originally, i did distribution courses that would transfer into political science. because i wasn't planning on doing anything that required heavy science, i went for what i considered the light option for a science class -- geology.

so geology was a great option. i didn't need the math of physics. i'd failed high school chemistry twice, and i didn't fancy burning my eyes out on a microscope doing biology looking at swabs of my cheek and stomach cells from a fetal pig. i of course was still interested from when i was a kid, and looked forward to the course.

i fell in love all over again.

as time wore on and i wound up in interdisciplinary studies, i grew to like that less and less, but pressure from sue kept me in. she didn't want me to move to an option that required more math. she'd seen how i'd struggled with the courses i'd already taken, and she didn't think it was a good idea.

but as i said, now her opinion doesn't matter.

it's geology.


more goals, longer term this time.

i'd very much enjoyed teaching on occasion when i'd done it professionally, and of course continuing to learn is always interesting. science stuff especially.

it thus doesn't seem unreasonable to me that i figure out a way to combine the two. some people think i'm silly for wanting this, but i'm going to attempt graduate school -- a phd in geosciences. i want to teach at the college level.


so, this semester.

all this is well and good, but where does that put me in terms of undergraduate work? i need to major in geoscience. utd is a good school for that program, and since uta won't let me in anymore, utd is where it's at.

at utd, however, the requirements are considerably higher in terms of math and science. if you're going to be a science major, i guess you really should be a science major. so you have to do two or three semesters of calculus. a lot of geology is about chemistry -- what happens when you put rocks and sediments under pressure and apply heat -- and so you have to take two semesters of chemistry for science majors. you also have to have a decent gounding in physics, and so you have to take two semesters of physics. you have to have the kind of physics that takes calculus.

the last math course i took was trigonometry. that means that i still have precalc to do, and then two or three more semsters of math after that just to get into physics.

then of course there are the geology courses. i'd taken the two intro courses at tarrant county, and that's all well and good. next at utd, there are two more intro courses that i have to take, which are usually both taken in the first semester of the sophomore year. those two courses together open up another 10 or 12 courses that are the majority of the upper division requirements.

so this semester i'm taking:

3 hours - precalculus
4 hours - geology sophomore stuff (i can't look it up as i write this to tell you exactly what it is)
4 hours - chemistry

if you ever took basic math, you know that this adds up to 11 hours. however, if you ever took basic college financial aid math you know that the magic number in these situations is 12.

that leaves me an open hour i need to figure out.

and that leads me to ...



utd is a long way from where i live. it's an hour and a half one way by car, or $25 in gas round trip.

but utd offers a cool option -- a free pass to ride fort worth and dallas public transportation, as long as you're a student. it turns out, i can take public transportation all the way from downtown fort worth to ut dallas. get on the tre at downtown fort worth, ride to downtown dallas. jump to the dart red line, and from there, hop a shuttle bus to the campus. yay.


three hours. one way.



it is possible to cram 12 hours into a monday-wednesday-friday schedule, if you're lucky and pick your classes right. i, however, am not lucky.

as i said above, there are two sophomore first semester geology courses i need. one is open, and so i grabbed a seat in it. it's wednesday-friday at 0830. the chemistry lab is on monday at a similiar ungodly hour, giving me a mwf 0830 start time. bruce almighty, that will suck.

which means ... i have to be on the train. at. five. till. five. in. the. fucking. morning.

my last class mwf will end at 330pm. which will put me home no earlier than about 7, and more likely closer to 8. lather, rinse, repeat.

at least that leaves me tuesday, thursday, friday and saturday to do actual work.


i can't get a one hour course on monday, wednesday, and friday. well, i can, but it's a wednesday/friday yoga class, and the prof recommend that i not take it. it's intended for people in better shape than i'm in, and it's absolutely foolish to risk injury in a course i'm only taking for financial aid reasons.

there is something that looks interesting that i've signed up for. it's "the fun of physics." except it only meets on tuesday. so i have a 50 minute class meeting with a six hour commute to reach it.

as i write this i'm on my way out to the school to see if i can unfuck this somehow.



i'm also trying to figure out how to manage some school work on the train, including finding the electricity to run my computer. if i can run the computer i can get a fairly significant amount of work done, even without access to the net.

my laptop battery seems to be willing to run for about the length of a one-way trip from downtown fort worth to downtown dallas, give or take a half hour or so. that's a pretty long way, but considering that i'm not doing anything except typing, it's pretty disappointing. i can't count on having enough time to recharge it during class for the ride home, so i'm looking at carrying a supplementary battery (heavy). that will suck.

i'm hoping maybe the have a 12v plug somewhere on the train, but that would surprise me. they'd advertise it. it would make too much sense.



every time i go to a college bookstore i feel like i've been given a prostate exam with a glove made of porcupine hide. (if you're uneducated, in a prostate exam, the doc sticks his finger up your ass and tries to touch your tonsils.)

custom packages, insane prices, policies that make it impossible for you to buy competatively. it really fucking stinks. we'll see what happens.

and not all the classes i'm taking have books announced.


financial aid.

as ever, i get a pell grant and loans, and that's it. i had an adjusted gross income that was negative last year, and yet i get nothing in terms of a break.



because i have no job, and because i'm getting less than $4k a semester in financial aid, i'm stuck living with my step-mom. she's nice and wonderful and all that, but it is stressful for both of us. but living closer to campus isn't an option. an on-campus apartment would run over $450 a month even with three roommates. (they make a fucking killing on those things!)

and that's before utilities.

so i'm trying to cut expenses everywhere i can. i dropped my ghetto pcs phone, switched back to the company that ass-raped my marriage to chew up my contract. but i get less airtime and more hassle with them, which i don't like.

i may just pay the disconnect fee, get a new phone and piggy-back on my uncle's i can't fucking hear you plan, which would cost about $20 a month, a significant savings even after just one month. i just need to make sure it will actually work and that i can lay hands on a handset i want. they've discontined my palm centro, which i love, and i don't want to switch to a different model manufacturer. i have enough time and money and energy invested in my current palm os setup that i don't want to switch.

we'll see. that's also on the agenda.


health care.

i don't have any. i haven't had any for years. i would appreciate it if senator no would please stfu and stop obstructing.



don't have one of those. would be nice tho.



had the hearing. i get some, she got pissed. was hysterical, like i said. but we still haven't gotten the final decree. it's getting tiring having to wait for the lawyers to get their shit together.



effexor and a sleeping pill. the effexor is ... well ... it's okay. makes my skin crawl.



i've found some freelance work that doesn't even pay minimum wage at a place called mechanical turk. i'm doing some transcription work on there. doglady was actually kind enough to buy me a dictation pedal to use for it, and it's vastly sped me up. i don't make much but on a good day i can clock $20 or $30, and on better days i can snag really good jobs that pay that much at once.

i'm also bidding on freelance jobs on elance but i'm not getting anywhere with those. the site seems to have an abudance of providers for that kind of work. it makes sense -- it's easy to do and doesn't take a lot of skill, just a lot of patience.

even so, it's given me enough money to be able to go back and forth to school a few times, pay my phone bill, pay my storage bill, buy a meal or two, that kind of thing. it's better than not having anything at all.

and the pedal will be very helpful when doing lecture notes. it's a usb device, so it'll work on my crappy little laptop on the train ... meaning, i can do school notes on the train.


i guess that's about it for now. i'm trying real hard to make all this work, and it seems like at every turn there's yet another problem or reason why i can't. there may be some wisdom in randy pausch's comment that brick walls are there to let us prove how badly we want something, but it gets tiring after a while.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

operation bleach

with my step-mom out of town and my kids gone (i am apparently less interesting than their new nintendo wii), i have started operation bleach.

this involves washing everything i own that is made of cloth in hot water and chlorine bleah. the high-efficiency washing machine we have has a bleach cup that allows me to pour chlorine bleach in, and then it sufficiently dilutes it before going into the clothes that it doesn't cause bleach stains on my clothing, yet i get the disinfectant benefits of the bleach.

once that's done, everything is going into a garbage bag and sitting in the back room, which has a tile floor. step-mom will love that.

we're now up to six bed bugs caught in the plastic bag, with at least two more that i was unable to catch. tomorrow the office chair goes outside, never to return.

step-mom is due home from her trip tomorrow. i'm sooooo not looking forward to the conversation when i pick her up, because i have to tell her about all this.

i do have an exterminator coming out on wednesday to give us an estimate. we'll see what he says.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

creepie crawlies

back in december, i spent a week in a motel room paid for by a trucking company while attending their orientation and training. while in the room, i'd seen a creepie crawlie and casually flicked it away off the bed. i'm a big boy -- most buildings, especially older ones -- have a certain amount of critterage in them.

when i got home i broke out in an incredible number of bites, on the order of hundreds, all over my body. some googling for bug bites and pictures of what was affecting me produced a horrifying possibility: bed bugs.

as i read about them, i read that they're very hard to get rid of. they're tenacious, hide anywhere, and are not phased by the usual assortment of traps, fogs, and sprays. i myself am living proof that they can cause pretty bad allergic reactions; i have a body chemistry that has always attracted insect bites, and i get large welts from them.

but exactly what are they? some people i talked to thought that they're not real, that "don't let the bed bugs bite" is something to say to children. i learned that they're very real parasites that feed on sleeping humans. they dislike light, and are attracted to body heat and carbon dioxide (respiration). you can read more about them as you wish.

in any event, when i came back and realized what had happened, i turned my bed upside down and washed all my clothing that had gone to the motel; washed all the bed clothes that had been in my room; and then did it all again, and then i hoped for the best.

i stayed home for two and a half weeks and then packed off to live on the truck for a while. literally a few minutes before i left ... i found a bed bug in my bed. i showed it to my step-mom and she rewashed everything. all well and good, and she hoped for the best. despite my concern that it wouldn't get rid of them, she was content.

when i came back in late january, i started getting bites in very strange places. i do not normally mosquito get bites on, for example, my knuckles. as time has worn on, however, i've started getting them there, on the tops and soles of my feet, and so on. i get long streams of them -- 8 and 10 at a time -- down my sides, sometimes while sitting in a plush chair in front of my desk.

in the past couple of weeks, i've started to see blood smears on my sheets. these come from the wound when i'm bitten, of course, but if you don't realize what you're looking at, it could be anything from the blood of a popped zit to a scratch you didn't know you had.

earlier this week i thought i sighed a couple bugs, but i was unable to actually catch them. it turns out they can move pretty fast, and since they don't like the light, they make a beeline for dark spaces pretty quickly.

today, however, i managed to catch one. it was sitting on my pillow as i crawled into bed ... i was able to get back out of bed without disturbing it, and i managed to catch it in a zip lock bag. (because this first bag had a hole in it, i put it into another one, so the bug wouldn't escape through the hole.)

now the joy is telling my step-mom. she has an irrational reaction to vermin; she believes that if only things were clean enough, they wouldn't be a problem. which is fine for most kinds of critters, but bed bugs don't respond to cleaning, because they don't feed on cracker crumbs, cheese bits, and pieces of dropped hamburger. they feed on sleeping people. getting rid of the bed bugs requires getting rid of the sleeping people, which, in a bedroom, isn't particularly feasable.

so i've been holding off telling her my suspicions until i could actually verify them with direct evidence, like a bug in a bag. now i have one.

and oh how i'm not looking forward to her reaction.

i'm actually looking forward to her reaction less than i'm looking forward to turning my room upside down to treat them.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

RSS feeds

i added the rss feed thingie for those of you who want it.

new beginnings

as the one of you who actually follows my blog actually knows, over the past year i've been separated from my wife pending finalization of our divorce. i have refrained from writing here for a number of reasons.

first, i was, and remain, pretty depressed, and honestly not much good has happened to me. for a while my writing sounded like nothing more than whining, and really, how much of that can anybody stand to read, much less write?

second, when i pretty well stopped writing, my marriage was disintegrating and i was trying to hold it together. since she knew where this blog was, and could presumably read it, i felt constrained in what i could say about my frustrations with the situation, so i chose, in part, to say nothing.

however, as of june 3, that is over. we went to trial and came to an agreed settlement. i'm waiting on the final text of the order, but the divorce is final, and i am single, and what she thinks of the blog matters much, much less, assuming she even bothers to check it anymore, and i doubt she does.

i must confess i'm a little sad about it. whatever my failings as a husband (and they were legion -- some of her complaints really did have merit) i liked being married, i wanted to stay married, and i wanted to reconcile. i didn't get married lightly, and i wanted to be one of those people who only did it once.

of course, it's pretty hard to stay married to someone who doesn't want to stay married, and she didn't want to. she did, it seems, everything within her power to drive me away. after (at the time) 14 years in aa, it was pretty obvious to anybody who knew me even casually that i don't smoke pot and i don't drink alcohol, and it's a reasonable leap from there to believe i don't want them in my home. sue made a show of smoking pot (that she got from her lover, whom she didn't really bother to hide) in front of me, and of course refused to moderate or conform her behavior to anything like what an adult might expect.

our relationship since then has been tense and uneasy. she periodically calls me by my dad's name, in essence saying i'm just like him. so i usually respond by calling her by her brother's name, who killed himself with alcohol (literally). that has happened less commonly recently, although i expect it to pick back up again for a while now that she's angry the way the property settlement happened. this weekend would have ordinarily been my weekend with the kids, but she's gone uncommunicative again, so when i asked about arrangements for getting them, her response was, we already have plans, you should have asked sooner.

i was really sad, honestly, seeing her in court. she looked like hell, angry and disheveled, with heavy circles under her eyes. i wore a suit with a tie, since we were going to be in court; she wore her slut outfit, something i'd have asked her to wear to a titty bar or rock concert. it was some kind of baggy dress, with a v-neck so low you could almost see her nipples (which is saying something), backless, sleeveless, and cut to about the knee. she wore no bra, no panties that i could see, open sandals, and no makeup. it's like she really has turned into trailer trash. the only thing missing was the cigarette, which of course was in her purse.

so now we restart. maybe next post, some plans, things i want to do now that i'm (relatively) free. at least i don't have to get her approval or support anymore, because some people might think what i want to do is kind of outlandish.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

song of the day

black river killer
by blitzen trapper
from the album "furr"
it was just a little while past the sunset strip
they found the girl's body in an open pit
her mouth was sewn shut, but her eyes were still wide
gazing through the fog to the other side

they booked me on a whim and threw me deep in jail
with no bail, sitting silent on a rusty pail
just gazing at the marks on the opposite wall
remembering the music of my lover's call

so you make no mistake
i know just what it takes
to pull a man's soul back from heaven's gates
i've been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
but they say it's never too late to start again

oh when, oh when
will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
oh when, oh when
will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

it was dark as the grave, it was just about three
when the warden with his key came to set me free
they gave me five dollars and a secondhand suit
a pistol and a hat and a worn out flute

so i took a bus down to the rio grande
and i shot a man down on the edge of town
then i stole me a horse and I rode it around
til the sheriff pulled me in and sat me down

he said, you make no mistake
iknow just what it takes
to pull a man's soul back from heaven's gates
i've been wandering in the dark about as long as sin
but they say it's never too late to start again

oh when, oh when
will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
oh when, oh when
will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?

well the sheriff let me go with a knife and a song
so i took the first train up to oregon
and i killed the first man that i came upon
because the devil works quick, you know it don't take long

then i went to the river for to take a swim
you know that black river water is as black as sin
and i washed myself clean as a newborn babe
and then i picked up a rock for to sharpen my blade

oh when, oh when
will the spirit come a calling for my soul to sin
oh when, oh when
will the keys to the kingdom be mine again?
oh when, oh when
will that black river water wash me clean again
oh when, oh when
will thee keys to the kingdom be mine again

Saturday, January 31, 2009

where to go now

it's been a long time -- like two years -- since i've written. i took the time today to move my blog to blogger.com, primarily because it looks like the hosting setup i had is going away, and i needed something quick, easy, and free. i hope you'll forgive me for the google ads on the bottom; maybe someday they'll get some traffic. i'm not holding my breath, but you know, anything is possible.

so far i like the service; it's clean and well-designed, and i don't have to hassle with update issues with wordpress. the gadgetry is functional and fast enough. and there is even a way to update by mobile phone, so i might even make some use of that.