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Subject:License plate of the month
Time:02:42 pm
Current Mood:stable
Headed west on Highway 10, a red Nisson: E COLI

Wulf has long suspected that all of the good band names have been taken, leading to bands with names like Techno-Squid Eats Parliament. It appears we have now run out of good vanity-plate words.
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Subject:Curmudgeonly complaint - one
Time:08:29 am
Current Mood:curmudgeonly
Salvaging discarded fans and refurbishing them is something Wulf does to save money. It is surprising how often someone will toss a fan that can be disassembled, cleaned, oiled, and put back into service. There are fans in every room. The white noise that fans produce can be helpful in aiding sleep, and a zephyr of air directed over water pipes can prevent freezing, so fans are useful even in winter. The problem is that so many of these small, used fans are oscillating fans.

Wulf has never in his life wanted a fan to oscillate. Wulf wants the air to go where the fan is pointed, not to skitter about the room. Although there is always a shut-off for the oscillation function, a small jostle will sometimes set the fan to flailing about again. Sometimes the mechanism can be disabled, but often this is not practical, as the fan will then just flop loosely.

Perhaps in bygone ages, when fans were horribly expensive, a family might only have been able to afford a single fan, so it seemed properly egalitarian to share the air. Mayhap miserly employers wanted to eke out extra work from overheated employees, so thinly spreading the coolth was the meanest means to accomplish this. Now fans are cheap and cheaply made, so much as to make then disposable in the regard of most consumers. Wulf only asks that manufacturers become cheaper still, saving the expense for all those unwanted oscillatory mechanisms.
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Subject:License plate of the month
Time:10:17 pm
Current Mood:stable
Leaving a Target parking lot (possibly drawn by livestock), a silver Subaru: LUDDITE

Wulf's people!
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Subject:Don't let any of the Stupid get on you.
Time:11:14 am
Current Mood:seething
Wulf has a wonderful job performing maintenance in a huge convention center. It is, in many ways, the best job Wulf has ever had. The pay is meager, yet sufficient for Wulf's needs. The benefits are good. The job is as utterly stressless as a job can be; Wulf has no desk, no phone, no computer, with only a walkie-talkie to interrupt Wulf's work. Wulf walks a minimum of five miles per shift, so it is like getting paid to exercise. Wulf has lost seventeen pounds since taking this job. There is different work to do everyday, satisfying, hands-on work, so the job doesn't get boring. There are often fascinating events going on, garden shows, boat shows, medical trade shows, lavish weddings, interesting speakers ranging from politicians to authors to actors, entertainment that ranges from martial arts exhibitions to nationally known musicians and singers. Best of all, Wulf gets to eat at the employee mess of the adjoining hotel, a chef-cooked, hotplate meal with full salad bar, for $2. Wulf doesn't even have to clock out. Yes, Wulf gets paid to eat his epicurean $2 meal, and he still loses weight!

Naturally, the Universe must extract a karmic balance for all this largess. For Wulf, the balance is having The Worst Supervisor Ever. Now, complaining about management is a time-honored tradition enjoyed in every workplace, so you, Gentle Reader, have, no doubt, immediately begun to question this rather bold assertion, hauling buckets of countering evidence from your own deep well of personal experience. Fair enough, but hear Wulf out.

The Worst Supervisor Ever (TWSE) is a walking stereotype of bad management. Everyone who works for or around the man despises him. Wulf, as with all not in upper management, regard TWSE as unprofessional, incompetent, unintelligent, and dishonest. As an example of TWSE's, ah,  abilities, consider that he routinely schedules Wulf to work all three shifts over the course of a week. Wulf can never establish a sleep cycle, and is condemned to live with permanent jet lag. When Wulf has spoken to TWSE about this, his comments have ranged from "Huh" to "It builds character." This is the manner in which TWSE conducts all his duties with underlings and coworkers.

TWSE has only two known talents. One is to call contractors to perform work which his own employees could have done more cheaply, if they but had the proper supplies, appropriate tools, and decent scheduling. The other is to kiss, deeply, lovingly, passionately, the posteriors of TWSE's own bosses, who seem inexplicably blind and/or uncaring as to the demoralization of their workforce and the poor allocation of resources.

Poor, foolish Wulf thought things could only get better, until last week, when the Stupid reached tsunami levels. You, Gentle Reader, may lose intelligence just reading about it, for which Wulf apologizes in advance, yet the public must be warned.

Wulf was repairing a water fountain when a call from the Manager On Duty (MOD) came over the radio about flickering lights in the hall where a convocation of powerful, influential bankers were gathered waiting to hear the Governor of Arkansas speak. Wulf rushed to the hall, observed some intermittently flickering lights, then hurried upstairs to shut off the breakers for those particular lights. There are many lights in the hall, so the absence of a few would be of little consequence, whereas the flickering lights would have made my employers look as if they were running some shabby, third-world operation. Wulf returned to repairing the water fountain.

Again the MOD sent out a call that more lights were flickering in the hall. Wulf again rushed to the hall. At this point, the Governor of Arkansas was standing just outside the hall, preparing to address the convocation of powerful, influential bankers. The MOD was looking a tad frantic. Wulf observed some more flickering lights, which inconveniently stopped flickering just after Wulf observed which lights were problematic. With all haste, Wulf again started upstairs. On the way, Wulf encountered TWSE, who asked Wulf what Wulf was doing. Wulf briefly explained. TWSE instructed Wulf to go back to working on the water fountain. Wulf countered that Wulf had instructions from the MOD, who outranks TWSE. Wulf continued upstairs, shut off the offending lights, then completed repairs on the water fountain.

Half an hour later, Wulf gets called before TWSE and the Director, TWSE's boss, and was informed, in no uncertain terms, that Wulf should have obeyed TWSE instead of the MOD. Keep in mind, Gentle Reader, the choice that was before Wulf:

A - Save Wulf's employer from looking bad in front of the Governor of Arkansas and a convocation of powerful, influential bankers.

B - Repair a water fountain ten minutes sooner than it otherwise would have been repaired.

Exactly two people on the entire planet could have gotten this call wrong. Astonishingly, Wulf works for both of them.

Okay, Gentle Reader, your turn.
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Current Music:none
Subject:A ghost story
Time:07:01 am
Current Mood:awed
Here at Wulf's ancestral abode of Dog Hill, we pride ourselves on striving to be a rational household, with beliefs based on evidential facts. It is not surprising that Wulf's younger daughter, Sunshine, would follow this tradition, so she does not believe in werewolves, sparkly vampires, visiting aliens in flying saucers, honest politicians, leprechauns, gremlins, gods, demons, or any other such fantastical and improbable creatures. She does, however, believe in ghosts. Despite Wulf's skeptical and reasoned beliefs, he cannot gainsay this, because of a single incident in Wulf's youth. Wulf uses the term "ghost", though other terms might apply.

Some decades past, when Wulf was but a teen, he found himself in a place he did not belong, in the company of a good friend, to whom Wulf privately refers as The Dark Prince (not because he is evil, but due to the austere nobility of his presence). It was our custom during the summer to wander through the night in search of adventure and sleep through the heat of day. The Dark Prince had temporary possession of a key to a small church, so we availed ourselves of this air conditioned refuge against the sweltering heat of a summer night.

We were not doing anything bad, save eating some of the cookies and drinking some of the Kool-Aid meant for the congregation's children. We played a game or two of Candy Land, as this was the only entertainment to be had. At some point, we split up to explore the building, Candy Land being a game of limited intrigue.

Wulf slipped through some heavy doors, stepping into the dimly lit sanctuary, only to be stopped by an awareness that Wulf was being intently scrutinized by something projecting a powerful aura of malevolence. There is no better way to describe it.

Long a haunter of the darkness, Wulf was no timid child. For years, Wulf had thrown paper routes alone in the wee hours of the morning. The darkness was, and is, a comfortable place for Wulf.

Standing his ground, Wulf coolly searched the shadowed curtains of the far walls for any sign of a presence. For a couple of minutes, a standoff held, Wulf standing silently, gazing methodically about, unwilling to yield to the growing sense of hostility that filled the air.

These many years later, it would be easy to attribute this long-ago occurrence to nerves, primordial fears, or any number of human frailties, save for one thing. As Wulf stood before that withering animosity, The Dark Prince entered and stood wordlessly beside Wulf for a short minute, then offered in his deep, calm voice, "You feel it, too, don't you?"

The sensation abated the moment we stepped out of the sanctuary. We left, never to return, and have not since discussed this.
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Current Music:Tannahill Weavers - Maggie Lauder
Subject:License plates of the season
Time:05:21 am
This is a collection from the last couple of months.

bronze Honda Element in Conway: KTHXBYE

blue Smart Pure Coupe at the Farmer's Market: XXSMALL

blue Toyota Solara near the zoo: 2THEZOO

fast black Nissan in the predawn darkness on Cantrell Road: BADCHIK

brown Nissan Cube at the thrift store: CUBEYDO
This made Wulf laugh out loud.
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Current Music:Joni Mitchell - California
Subject:On reaching out from pain
Time:02:16 am
Current Mood:happyhappy
Suzy Q. asked Wulf to marry her.

Tuesnight, on the way home from work, Wulf stopped by to visit Suzy Q. Suzy was feeling sad about a friend who has breast cancer, so was pleased for some company. Suzy had had a little wine, and perhaps a little more wine. We talked for a while before Suzy made the unexpected proposal. Wulf, taken off guard, could only explain what Suzy already knew, that Wulf is yet married (in a merely legal sense) to Starlight. Wulf had to leave before the matter could be resolved.

Suzy has been engaged three times, but has never made it to the altar. Wulf well understands that Suzy is a woman who greatly values independence. Wulf's confusion was great and worry extreme, for such a thing could damage a treasured friendship.

We finally found time to talk again today. Wulf started by gently offering that he would not think ill of Suzy Q. if she wanted to step back from the whole marriage thing. Suzy, perhaps a little abashed, explained that she does not want marriage or even a boyfriend, and we were both relieved that our friendship would not suffer. We were able to say some things that had long been unsaid, things that wanted saying.

Our friendship will never be the same again; now it is even better.
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Subject:A five-minute mystery
Time:12:31 am
Current Mood:impish
Some weeks ago, Wulf was at his new job, laboring out on the sidewalk, when he overheard a snippet of conversation that stood out from the typically banal comments of those passing:

"..I don't want her to yell at us in Chinese..."

The speaker was a teenage girl, addressing a teenage boy, both of whom were decidedly not Chinese. Wulf could not help but conjecture as to the circumstances which might inspire such a remark.
New employees at a nearby restaurant?
Aspiring Olympian gymnasts struggling under an elite trainer?
Agents of espionage in the service of some dragon-lady spy-mistress?

The mystery resolved itself minutes later, when a gaggle of students from a nearby school ambled past, firmly and energetically shepherded by an authoritative oriental lady. Wulf could not but marvel at the love and respect this diminutive lady clearly inspired in her somewhat largish charges.

Looking out of the atrium yesterday, Wulf saw her pass by with another group of students, and a mischievous plan came to mind. What might happen if Wulf were to be working outside someday when this lady and her students approached, and as the mystery lady passed by, Wulf were to pretend to hit his thumb with a hammer, letting fly with a few choice Cantonese phrases gleaned from Firefly?

"Da-shiang bao-tza shr duh lah doo-tze! FAY-FAY duh PEE-yen!"

Wulf would probably get his mouth washed out with soap, but it would be so worth it.

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Current Music:Beale Street Caravan on NPR
Subject:Book Meme
Time:02:47 am
Current Mood:stable
By way of zenkitty_714.

1. What is your favorite genre to read?
Science fiction (especially military science fiction, such as David Weber's Honor Harrington series). There is something stirring about fleets of hostile starships hurling inconceivable energies screaming (silently) across space. Fantasy can be equally good (Karl Edward Wagner's Kane books), yet much fantasy smacks of laziness on the part of the writer. Most science fiction writers present a plausible justification for the technologies which undergird their visions, while fantasy writers often just skate by with no other explanation than that "it's magic". Wulf has never understood why science fiction and fantasy are always lumped together. Though the line can sometimes be blurry (as per Arthur C. Clarke's dictum), the two genres are usually distinct in form and nature. Wulf has a great fondness for historical fiction, as well.

2. What is the first romance novel you ever read and how old were you when you read it?
Wulf is not sure he has ever read a romance novel. Although romance is often a major theme, it isn't the central theme of the books Wulf has read. The Saracen Blade by Frank Yerby might qualify, yet historical fiction would seem a better choice for category. Wulf read The Saracen Blade when he was fourteen or so, for English class, during Black History Month, when students had to read a work by a black author. Wulf liked the idea of reading a book that exhibited the author's talent as a writer rather than merely his race. The object of the main character's romantic intentions was described as having a "face as square as a Brandenburg house" , or something like that, a refreshing change from the usual descriptions of a lady's beauty.

3. How many books -- paper or ebooks -- are in your existing TBR pile?
Thousands. Wulf has not read most of the books he owns.

4. Do you read nonfiction? If so, from which sub-genre?
History (Salt), science (The Dinosaur Heresies), political philosophy (The Road to Serfdom), economics (Markets and Minorities), and public policy (More Guns, Less Crime) are some of the subjects which interest Wulf.

5. Do you own an e-reading device? If so, which one(s)?
No, unless a library card with a bar code counts.

6. Which one book have you re-read most often?
Karl Edward Wagner's Nightwinds. Wulf usually reads the preceding books of the Kane series first, to set the proper tone.

7. How many library books do you have out right now?
Just one, Jules Watson's Song of the North, the third book of her Dalriada series.

8. How do you mark your place in a book?
With a bookmark, usually a large, unredeemed, cardboard coupon that came in the mail.

9. About how many books do you typically read in a month?
Varies greatly. Average since June of 1974: 2.07 books per month.

10. What was the last book that made you cry?
The ending of Jules Watson's The Dawn Stag brought a tear to Wulf's eye.

11. What was the last book that made you laugh?
Books from Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective series never fail to make Wulf chuckle. The Double Comfort Safari Club is the latest one Wulf has read.
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Current Music:Wailin' Jennys - Storm Comin'
Subject:When lightning attacks: strike two
Time:12:55 pm
Current Mood:pleasedpleased
When the storm started, two Sunnights back, Wulf felt the call of sirens' voices. As rain pattered and thunder rumbled, YouTube delivered the dulcet voices of the Wailin' Jennys. A wonderful gospel piece, Storm Comin', was hypnotically pleasing. Wulf listened to the song three or five times before retiring for the evening.


Wulf's eyes flew open at the cannon-blast of sound. Instantly awake, Wulf witnessed a shower of sparks cascade from the ceiling of his darkened bedroom. It was evident that the power was out, while the sound of showering water came from the hall closet that houses the furnace and water heater. Wulf grabbed some pants and made his way to the laundry room for a flashlight.

There was a bitter tang of smoke in the air, unsurprising, yet alarming, as Wulf realized there was another source of light in the dispowered house. The incipient flood in the hall closet was forgotten as Wulf followed the dim light to an orange flame inside the sundered wall by the front door. Wulf bellowed for the cubs to awaken, awaiting their reply while pondering whether to dash for the fire extinguisher or the phone.

Sunshine and The Hunter came forth into the kitchen, unscathed, with no trace of slumber upon their dear faces. Wulf, as befits a man of action, opted for the fire extinguisher. It took mere seconds to spray down the stud which had ignited when superheated air blasted the wall from within. Sunshine was sent to light a candle, while The Hunter was sent to get dressed.

The immediate crisis resolved, the sound of rushing water reasserted itself. Checking the hall closet, water was seen to be spraying from the inlet pipe of the water heater. Unable to see the shutoff valve through the spray and smoke, Wulf rushed outside into the cold, rain-drenched darkness to shut off the water to the house, then back inside to get the ladder to check the attic for any sign of fire. The attic appeared to be flame free and short on smoke, as compared to the rest of the house.

Next, Wulf went outside to reset the main electrical breakers. Amazingly, power came on in much of the house. The cubs were sent to sleep in the car, while Wulf assured himself that no trace of fire remained in house or attic. A bookcase that had been against the stricken wall had been flung over, bringing to mind the oil lamp that had rested atop it. Visions of splattered oil bursting into flame sent Wulf to check for fire hazard in the smoke-choked room. Clumsily, Wulf cut his hand on a shard of broken glass, but it was only the shield, not the oil-filled body of the lamp.

Lacking any water to wash the bloody, yet trivial wound, Wulf returned to the hall closet to close the shutoff to the water heater, then back outside to restore water to the house. The refrigerator had power; an extension cord was strung to power the vent fan, so all things needful had been seen to. Another hour cleared the smoke from Sunshine's room, so Wulf summoned the cubs back inside. We all slept together in that unscorched room, though Wulf slept uneasily, waking often to pad through the house.

Morning revealed the story. Divots left where metal vaporized suggest the bolt struck the lamppost by the street. This is odd, considering it is on the lowest part of the property. The lamppost is adjacent to a tall tree; there are several other trees in the yard, not to mention a metal antenna pole, all taller, all seemingly better targets for a thunderbolt.

Blackened lamppost

The surge followed the electrical wires into the house, where trapped air became a bomb as it expanded with the sudden heat.

Blasted wall

The fire was inside the wall.

Sundered wall.

Several switchplates and power receptacles were scorched. Seals inside the inlet line to the water heater were damaged, causing the leak.The damage on the water line was only eight inches from where the gas line feeds the water heater. A close call, that. A new flex line was sweated on to replace the damaged one, so Wulf restored hot water the first day. A network card in one computer was fried; the computer itself is heavily surge-protected, but the cable linking it to another computer runs through the area of the attic that was in the thick of the surge. Several electrical runs in the attic will have to be replaced, and one secondary breaker got toasted. The cut Wulf inflicted upon himself has proved most inconvenient, as often when Wulf bumps his hand on something, the little wound starts bleeding again. Bother.

Wulf is especially proud of Sunshine and The Hunter for the calmness and swift obedience with which they met lightning, fire, and flood. Copious praise has thenceforth been lavished upon these cubs.

While at the the hardware store procuring materiel, Wulf encountered his high school friend, Mark G., he of the nifty parties. [True love: two - Vignette 2 - Rest your weary head, my love  http://wulfthorson.livejournal.com/?skip=30 ]

Mark happened to mention that a year past, he had attended the funeral of a mutual friend, John. Oddly, a few weeks ago, Wulf had mentioned John to Suzy Q, saying that Wulf did not wish to hear anything about John again, unless it was to hear that John had died, preferably slowly, in excruciating pain. Though once a friend, and perhaps on account of friendship forsworn, Wulf had come to regard John, in Wulf's opinion a lying, manipulative, evil spider of a being, as Wulf's only personal enemy in this world. Mark did not mention the manner of John's passing, yet Wulf is not above some pettiness in imagining scenaria of fearsome agony and blackest despair.

It would seem that Thor's blessings are delivered roughly, with odd humor. All things considered, it was a great week, thunderbolts notwithstanding.
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