Somebody got booted off the job today. A week away from completion, and he was thrown out. His crime? He used the bathroom.

Portajohns are the rule of life for most of us construction workers. Some of that is practical: a building has to be pretty far along before the plumbing works, and well, you have to go somewhere. Even when you don't want to. But a lot of times we aren't allowed to use the plumbing there is, even when it is fully functional and sanitary.

Naturally, this causes some grousing. After all, everyone defecates and the wearing of a hard hat doesn't make mine any better, or worse, than anyone else's. We're all the same species, and we all like to flush. This is particularly galling during winter. Portajohns are normally filled with a mixture of pine oil and water to supress odors. The solution freezes, leading everything to pile up on top. Your skin can stick to the seat. And they do smell under the best of conditions. I have a co-worker who claims never to have used one, saying he holds it until he get get to a gas station or home. Me, I can't clench that long.

However, my years on the job have taught me that keeping people like me out isn't necessarily stupid. For one thing, I get dirty. Try drilling through concrete and see how clean you stay. Or crawl on top of dusty duct. My hands are often filthy, and can take a week to get truly clean by white collar standards. Letting me in will keep the janitor busy.

But the real isssue is behavior. Most construction workers, at least the skilled tradesman, aren't dumb and don't have terrible social skills. But construction is an industry where people are judged primarily by what they get done. It's open to people of shall we say, a checkered past. Ex-cons abound, and I had a co-worker arrested for a parole violation in the next room. This openness is a good thing generally because it allows people who may come from a colorful background to make a living wage, which gives a man a good reason to turn his life around.

But some people just weren't raised right. I have seen graffitti sufficiently racist to make Joseph Goebbels proud. Today, Mexican immigrants seem to be the target of choice. The Beavis & Butthead mentality also exists. One of my favorite quotes came when people started trading claims about which relation of their other they got their crabs from.

But the worst part is the hygiene. Some of these people never learned to aim. Even when they're sitting down. I've seen . . . . well, never mind what I've seen.

Its on days like those that I really wish I'd become a dentist.

You're driving through the night. It's quiet, and you're in a contemplative mood. Suddenly, you hear the first strains of the intro on the radio. You turn the volume up as loud as you dare, and pull to the side of the road. Within moments you are no longer sitting in your car, but are many worlds away, as you become the proverbial fly on the wall.

With tears streaming down your face, you watch yourself, your past life. Events that have shaped who you are today. As the song ends, you wipe your tears. With a peace inside, you slowly drive back into the night.

You have been healed by the power of song.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning. I never do that. Well, not this summer, at least. My alarm rings [beep beep], I wake up [rustle rustle] and try unsuccessfully [miss- miss- whack] to cause the alarm a violent death. I then realize that I am awake [blink blink] and I don't want to be asleep anymore. It occurs to me I went to bed a little before 10 last night, and I was tired. My legs ache a little; it must be from tennis the night before.

This doesn't seem so grossly odd, I'm sure. But I rarely get to sleep, especially lately, in less than 2-3 hours. I know I'm not one of those people who has it 'really bad' and just can't sleep at all, but I have my nights.

People talk about being afraid of the dark. People don't usually talk about being afraid of getting abducted by aliens. Not seriously. Not, "I'm afraid of snakes." "Really? I'm afraid of aliens." I tend to not talk about it, except when I think people will 'understand' that I'm either kidding or exaggerating, like when I talk about killing people and hiding the body parts which I don't do. But that's the way it is for me, every night of my life. And when I get distracted from the aliens by the emotional tangle I'm in (It's great, I'll tell you about it someday. I'll write a book. I'll make a movie.) it gets worse. It's just sort of an odd feeling in my gut that I can't get rid of.

I feel like I'm getting better, which is a good thing, because college is about to start back up. That's where most of this came from. I'll tell you about that sometime, too.

Farewell my friend...

I really can't accept that I can't be with you
Every hour is like a year passing by
For every minute I remember
Each day that we are together
We're still strong and resilient traversing
Every trial that we face
Still standing and ready to fight
Until the end, we are ready to die

I really can't spell to think that I am actually leaving
In your company I am safe
But when I am about to leave
You don't have any idea how much
I forced and convinced my parents that I'll be staying behind
But life is just like that
There are winners and losers

Please don't think that I have forgotten you
Because I brought with me the immense pain living without you
Every teardrop that falls from my eyes
Substantiates our indescribable friendship

I can't accept that you're really gone
If only I can bring you with me
It's just that I don't have enough money
If only I can bring you with me in my travels
That you'll be the one I'd travel
So that you'll be with me in different places
But it's just that its plain impossible

This is really how fate goes
We will be separated
Though I do hope that we will not forget our wonderful beginnings
That we should continue until the very last day of our lives
Our promising love will stay
Here... here in our hearts
Intensified and bonded tightly by our distance

As I depart
I don't have anything in mind except your safety
If only I could call you all
So that I could kiss and thank you
In all the things you've given and shared to me
Know that I will never forget you
Always, even if you are not with me
I will always bring you in my thoughts and in my mind
To serve as an inspiration in my life's well-being

I know a time will come that we will see each other again
The time that the creator had set for us
I know that these things has its own reasons
And these reason do have an equivalent happiness in the future
But for now, even if it hurts me most I'd like to tell you...

Farewell my friend...

August 18, 2003 was supposed to be the day we got our keys to the new house. We showed up for the walkthrough, which was uneventful (they did spot a broken plate glass window they claim they'll fix). When we asked the foreman to call in and verify whether our closing had recorded and funded yet, the answer came back "no."

Our lesson in patience continued, as did our intense loathing for mortgage lenders.

August 19, 2003 was equally uneventful. The lender finally decided to verify employment (wouldn't one normally do this before closing?), but otherwise, the lending broker had no updates or information about the closing. Still no keys.

Today, still without our keys and with a cable modem installation looming, we called the builder and begged them to let the cable guy in to do the installation. Apparently, because we've always stayed polite, friendly, and out-of-the-way with the builder, we earned a bit of special treatment, as she said "well, I can't leave the office for that long, but just come down here, and we'll give you the key temporarily so you can just meet him. Don't tell the lender though."

We sat in the new, finished house, for about twenty minutes before the cable guy showed up. I was impressed that he showed up very early in the installation window, and amused by the fact that despite my reassurances that my Linux box could indeed grok DHCP, he insisted I boot it into Windows to make sure everything was working. In all, the installation took ten minutes. Three of those minutes involved waiting for Windows to boot.

Grumpily, we returned the keys (still no funding or recording), and went back to our apartment. By this time, my wife was getting pretty dejected; three business days after we'd signed our lives away on two mortgages, and the house still wasn't ours. At around 5:00pm PDT, our realtor called. He said "hey, I have your house keys, would you like to come get them?"

I said "yes," and we headed to the development where the house (and the builder's office) lives, expecting more hoops to jump through and more pointless paperwork and stalling. The last possibility that crossed both our minds was that they actually were going to give us the keys.

We arrived at the builder's office, and walked in. We must have looked just as bad as we felt; a fake smile painted onto my face hastily, but a clear attitude of "yeah, right, what's the next trick?" on both our faces.

When he handed us the champaigne, a gift basket, two garage door remotes, and four house keys, we just stood there. "You're really giving us the actual keys to our house?" I asked, in disbelief. The realtor grinned and said "yup!" The builder smiled and said "you just need to sign for the keys and remotes, and that's it!" We signed the paper, and she gave us a copy. They both said "congratulations!" to the two young, foolish, naive, and most importantly, stunned new homeowners standing with them. We both had to struggle to find a reasonable way to express our excitement -- we seriously didn't expect to actually get the keys, or the house. We wanted to, yes, but we figured the lenders would keep stringing us along until we either gave up or they found a condition we couldn't meet.

We stood on the driveway for a minute or so, just staring at it. The grass, with its still-visible seams from where they laid the sod, was browning already in a couple spots. The spots of paint that splattered when they painted the trim were touched up and gone. This building, that until now was little more than a fantasy, had suddenly become something else.

It's not just a house anymore. It's our new home.

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