Monday, March 28, 2016

Network Path Invalid

I hate and despise the fact that I hate and despise the new copy machine.  I never wanted to become THAT person who can't embrace the new technology for love of the old.  But, damn.  I miss that old machine and its limited capacity for both performance and screw up. 

Just now I tried to scan a document.  I have to scan to a flash drive because the almost brand new copier doesn't 'network' with Windows 10 and has decided my computer doesn't actually exist. 

No matter what I did, it would not scan.  It just sat there, all smug and shit.  I ranted.  I raved.  There might have even been a trash can that got kicked. 

Words were said, many of them comprised of four letters.  Some were longer and more descriptive of both the machine and its dubious parentage. 

Finally, before reaching the Thing Throwing Stage, I gripped the edges of the adjustable touch screen display and tilted it so that the overhead light wasn't glaring on it.  My eyes are evidently aging and I need a little extra help to see stuff sometimes.  I flipped through the various menus looking for something - anything - that might explain why the scanner simply would. not. scan. 

I set and reset the settings.  I jammed and unjamed the pages into the document feeder.  Buttons were punched with grim determination and perhaps slightly more than the necessary force. 

And then I saw the small print.  At the very, very bottom of the display screen.

"Please insert USB device."

And I looked down at my clenched fist. 

And registered the small red flash drive that I still held in my hand. 

And sighed.

I hate that smart-ass machine.  

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

100 Things Divorce Taught Me: Part The Third

21.  I didn't necessarily learn this from divorce, it's just a recent epiphany that was probably hugely obvious to everyone but me.  Turns out, I really like damaged people - damaged people whose circumstances, combined with their inner strength, have shaped them into something amazing.
22.  We're all damaged.
23.  Damaged or not, I'm pretty sure me on my own is a better person than me attached to someone else.  At least for this point in my life, that's proving to be true in lots of ways, big and small.
24.  Adaptability is one of my strengths.  But maybe, juuuuust maybe, I adapt a little too easily.  Maybe not.  Jury's still out on that one.
25.  One thing I've not adapted to is hugging.  Still don't like it.  I'm still only a social hugger.  But the other day someone grabbed me in an unexpected bear hug and said "I'm so glad you're here and that you're weird!  I've been waiting for someone weird for a long time!"  That was not a bad hug.
26. A few days ago, for no real reason, I looked around and thought 'Hey!  I'm really pretty damn happy!'  Just that simple realization increased my contentment level exponentially. 
27.  Evidently divorced me is more attractive than single me.  Unfortunately I would never actually date any of these people who seem to have noticed. The idea of dating anyone is an anathema at this  point.  Maybe that will change.  Maybe it won't. If  you wish to introduce me to some highly intelligent, hugely wealthy, incredibly gorgeous man who feels the need to throw himself at my feet, feel free.  Just don't expect me to answer his phone calls.
28.  I am losing weight and I'm a little pissed off about it.  Pissed off because several well-meaning individuals have assumed it's because I'm looking for a man.  Or maybe a woman.  Or that I'm depressed.  They're wrong.  I'm just bored.  A friend invited me to a work out group and I liked how strong it made me feel (once I overcame the soul-crippling agony of the initial experience).  So I keep going back.  Plus, I don't like my own cooking.  
29.  I eat a lot of Grapenuts.
30.  I just told someone "my time is my own".  And it's true.  Life isn't perfect, but I have the personal and professional freedom to pretty much come and go as I please.  That's awesome. 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Probably Should've Googled That Name at the Library

It was all Violet's fault.

Violet Bradshaw was the postmaster in Podunk, the little Texas town where I spent a big chunk of my teenage years.  Big, blonde, and brassy; Violet was a formidable personality.  She knew everyone and everything in that tiny town.  There was no secret-keeping around her when she wanted to know something.

Knowledge can be a powerful weapon.  Violet was a warrior with hers.  She liked me well enough, but she still scared me.  Violet liked to find your weakness and exploit it just enough to make you squirm.

The weakness Kincaid and I had was weirdness.  It was only a weakness because we hadn't fully come into our own and recognized it for the fabulous super-power that it is.

I was a year or so older than Kincaid, so I left for college first.  This was before email and snap chat, so we kept up a vigorous exchange of correspondence.  I miss that tremendously.  To this day there remain few pleasures in life more exquisite than a letter - a real letter - from a friend.

The two of us, convinced of our own hilarity, assumed that the rest of the world was as interested in the minutia of our daily life as we were.  And of course we suspected Violet Bradshaw of perusing our post for delectable tidbits of information.

Neither of us was up to anything particularly delectable nor tidbit worthy, but still...

We started writing on the outside of the envelopes.  Or sending post-cards.  Anything to put the story out there for Violet to see.  It became a habit.

And, as is my habit, my messages evolved into the occasional cartoon.

After a year or so of this, Christmas card season rolled around.  Sending cards - finding the perfect statement for a person or situation - is one of my favorite things.  (I'm still mourning the closure of my all-time favorite card shop.  Haven't found a replacement yet.)  This was a few years before I started the Gravestone Christmas Card tradition.  I'd been to the stationery store and carefully chosen individual bits of holiday hilarity for several friends.

Kincaid's card, of course, had room enough for my chatty scribbles, as well as the requisite Xmas greeting for Violet.  Xmas because Violet did not like things that smacked of ungodliness; important things such as persecution by a holiday abbreviation and the like.

I sent other cards at that same time.  Cards that would be routed through Dallas on their way to their final destination.

My timing was spectacularly bad. As was that one cartoon...


If you are a regular reader, you know that I've used a pen name for many years now.  It's a practice that started years and years ago, before junior high.  I don't really remember why I started but now I use the name to help preserve a thin layer of anonymity between my creative work and my professional "acquaintances".

More than once I have developed long-term, deeply personal relationships with people who have never known my last name.  It's not a secret, it just never comes up in conversation.

The pseudonym wasn't always spookyrach.  The original one was somewhat less original, but no less long-lived. I used it for all sorts of things, things such as the return address on cards and letters.

Those cards I sent, including the ones going through Dallas?  They were all from The Lone Avenger.

You think this is going to end badly, don't you?

It did.

Trench-coated characters in fedoras were one of my favorite cartoon subjects.  I'm still drawing those same spies and private eyes today.  (And occasionally a similarly garbed bishop.  Here's looking at you, Amy H.)  So it was only natural that I would choose to decorate one of those cards with a spiffy little spy dressed like Humphrey Bogart.

It should've been okay.  It would've been okay.  Except for one small addition.

On one of those cards bound for the big city, below the Lone Avenger's return address and next to the comically sinister spy, I wrote:


I said please 'cause my momma raised me to be all polite and stuff.

It still would've been okay, except for the really bad timing thing.


One sunny December afternoon, sometime before the Xmas break, I'd been out running an errand for my employer.  I was a student worker in the Dean of Students' office.  The disciplinary office, among other things.

Oh, the irony.

When I returned to work, my boss, the Dean's secretary, met me with wide-eyed worry and said I was supposed to call someone at the postal inspector's office.  In Dallas.

As if!  You can't kid a kidder.  She owed me payback for some prank or other I had pulled recently and I knew this was just a set-up to get me back. She couldn't fool me!

But she was insistent, so eventually I dialed the number, ready for whatever silliness was on the other end of the line.

Only it wasn't silly.  Not much at all.

Perhaps you remember Ted Kaczynski?  The Unabomber?  (I feel a little disconcerted after having googled how to spell his name.)  Mr. Kaczynski had recently murdered a federal judge, among others.  That letter bomb had gone through the Dallas post office.

Which is why I can't really blame the postal workers who freaked right the hell out about my ridiculous little envelope.

They immediately put the Christmas card in an isolation room and contacted the authorities.  Authorities with a  capital A. 

Said same Authorities tracked The Lone Avenger back to her villianly lair.  Not difficult since I'd used my correct address on the envelope.

By the time the postal inspectors were finished with me, large chunks were missing from my posterior.  And back then I didn't have a lot to spare.

The recipient of the card never did receive it, although they did finally agree to release it to her if she came down to their facility in person to pick it up.

She declined.

I leaned my lesson.  I quit sending postal products as The Lone Avenger.  If I send you a letter nowadays it is for sure going to say