In the immortal words of Chief McCroskey: "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking..."

Sorry. That's a joke. Meant to soften this harsh news.

I received a terrible phone call about two hours ago. My maternal grandmother is in the hospital. The doctors say she has cancer. This is coming completely out of nowhere.

My grandfather has had cancer for years, the treatable kind. He's been enduring another round of chemotherapy even now. This is apparently not that kind of cancer. This is aggressive lymphoma, a swift and merciless killer.

Both of these people are in their 90s, and they've both been almost supernaturally healthy their entire lives. They've been married for 62 years. They are, in fact, the two most beautiful people I know. By midsummer, they may both be gone. My grandmother almost definitely will be gone.

I just wanted you all to know that I'm not panicking. Death does not frighten me. I have, however, just now crossed-off 3 months of calendar items and mentally replaced that space with a single, large question mark.

If you can imagine me sitting in front of a control panel representing my life, you would see me slowly putting down the telephone and calmly flipping most of these switches to the "Off" position. I'm sorry if this temporarily leaves you in the dark. I'm turning my mind over to auto-pilot. All other resources are being diverted toward plotting a course through this new development.

See you tomorrow. Good night, and good luck.

My Plan for America
by Berhardt Goates

It has come to my attention in watching the chaos unfolding around us that drastic measures must be taken to restore order in the United States of America. This is my proposal, a copy of which I have sent to our leaders in Washington, hoping they will act before it is too late.

The first issue is in regard to dissent, which must be eliminated by any means possible, including force, in order to safeguard our borders and our way of life. In order to ensure our freedom and way of life, we must begin to eliminate some of the freedoms that are unnecessary, including but not limited to dissent.

Complainers need to be rounded up. There is a lot of work to be done on what is known as the infrastructure and if the complainers can be put into very structured work camps and do this work at no real cost to our beloved government aside from extremely tightly packed portable housing units, such as trailers in which seventy to eighty complainers can be packed for sleeping in tight quarters, and two or three meager meals per day. Those who cannot work can be imprisoned for uselessness and we can use immigrants to build a series of new prisons before they are either executed for not obeying the laws of this great land or sent home to face torture and death there. This is good plan so far.

Foreign persons who do not agree with our great actions need to be disregarded and possibly have their countries conquered and colonized at a later date if they do not repent. I understand this will require a larger armed forces, but we can definitely reinstitute a draft and require all persons between seventeen and forty-five to fight the good fight.

The media needs to be eliminated as a free enterprise fueled by corporate shenanigans and turned into a government run enterprise. The media can be utilized by the president and his administration to broadcast straight up truth without any spin instead of this hokey pokey dissent and reporting of upsetting and untrue things that the media engages in and limits the president and his cronies from acting properly because of needing to justify their actions. Remember, right acting persons do not need to justify their actions to complainers. Already I have demonstrated effective way to deal with complainers.

Also, persons who unlike me have not made a lot of money in selling investment opportunities in Civil War action figures and also cleaned up working as an unqualified remedial science teacher in the Greater Baltimore Area while using that as a front to market new clothing concepts, have obviously not grasped our excellent capitalist system. Those who are still poor or just getting by are dumb, because there is much money to be made in misleading potential investors and clients. They would also be good for the work camps and those of us with money really would appreciate clean streets and nice forests, both of which can be tended to by people with limited incomes who are impressed into our excellent and uncostly work camps.

Less tolerance needs to be shown towards criminals, with the exception of white collar criminals, who do no harm to anyone and should not be subjected to the court system. Any offense of any kind should result in a life sentence, which can only be rescinded if the person agrees to fight in the front lines, i.e. be used as a decoy for important fighting abroad when some soldier needs to be sacrificed for a mission to succeed. They may also opt for the work camps if they demonstrate good behavior, but they will have to work double shifts, and weekends, while wearing heavy ankle chains.

Remember that in order to preserve and promote the greatness of our nation we must act quickly to eliminate dissent, increase the power and number of our military so we can engage in five-six wars simultaneously, put criminals where they belong, give the president complete control of the media, and begin to consider the possibility that term limits and elections are things of the past that interfere with democracy and freedom. "President for life" not only has a good ring to it, but is also sensible and will help maintain continuity and good plan at the top while chaos is brought under control.

I look forward to seeing my plan put into action. Thank you.

Okay, so I have an open question for the linguists on E2. I'm putting this here because I don't know where else to put it.

Is there a term for a single phrase that signifies two opposite ideas?

Some examples (all from Shakespeare):

1. "When we have shuffled off this mortal coil" (there is tension here between one meaning of the phrase, "When we have cast off this burden of life," and the fact that a snake rejuvenates itself whenever it "shuffles off" its "coil")

2. "There's husbandry in heaven, their candles are all out" (on the one hand an Elizabethan husband was responsible for snuffing "out" candles to conserve them; on the other, he was also responsible for making sure that all of the candles in the house were lit. The phrase is further complicated by the fact that "candles" are here used as metaphors for stars, which are often described as "out" when present)

3. "To die, to sleep, no more" -- 1. "To die is nothing more than to sleep" and 2. "To die is to sleep no longer."

4. "Oh you are men of stones." -- 1. "Oh, you are stones." and 2. "Oh, you are men of stone."
EDIT: anthropod says re May 4, 2006: Contronym does it for words.

I wonder if the term can be applied to phrases, though...

My roommate pointed this out to me, and before she did I didn't realize.

Apparently I've become the 'angry letter guy.'

A few nights ago, I saw a report on the CBS Evening News (not the most reputable source of information, granted, but) about sushi in New York City. Apparently, sushi can KILL.

Sorry, did I say kill? I meant, make your hair fall out. Semantics, really.

According to this news report, raw tuna has the dangerous possibility of being contaminated with mercury, and this has caused problems for some woman on Long Island somewhere, a woman who apparently didn't believe in something so odd as a variety of diet. High contaminant levels in tuna have been pretty much standard since, I dunno, forever, but take that information and combine it with something trendy in New York City, something like sushi, and suddenly it's news.

That wasn't my problem. It's dubiously ethical and badly researched and a waste of brain cells to watch, but that wasn't my problem.

Lately, nightly news programs in the United States (because they supposedly have nothing better to report) have been donning the guise of investigative journalists and have been trying to prove things to their audience themselves to make their broadcasts more compelling. So what CBS did was, they clandestinely purchased (filming all the way, I'll mention, because isn't the footage of raw tuna sliding down a grocery store check out conveyor belt oh-so compelling?) a variety of sushi dishes from a dubiously defined spectrum of retailers, sent 'em off to a lab and tested them for mercury levels based on this one woman's horror story of mercury poisoning.

Ignoring for a moment the way they selected these retailers (because, of the hundreds of sushi sellers on the island of Manhattan there are, like, four companies that supply all of 'em) my problem was their language. Paraphrased: "Of the samples we tested, four came back from the lab with abnormally high levels of mercury."


I don't know about the rest of you, but the first thing that came to my mind was, "Okay. Four out of how many, exactly?"

My first instinct was to write an email to CBS. And I did. It was polite and inquisitive and biting and sarcastic as hell, but what'd you expect?

Point is, she thinks I've become the angry-letter-writing-guy, the one who complains about those damn kids riding their bikes across his lawn.

I don't have a lawn. And I turn 25 on Friday, which is not exactly within the age range for crotchety old man. And it made me wonder: is this what it feels like to be old and ignored, where the only creative outlet I've got is sending letters to CBS's own personal /dev/null?

...and then I killed a bottle of wine and decided to think less. So it's probably just as well.

How to avoid the work place blues.

Boredom at work is a tragic yet bugger issue in the computing business. We who weald the black blade of 'IT' know that relieving boredom is not as easy as it sounds. There is only so much porn, so much music and so many funny pictures you can download. I shall share with you my daily routine for combating boredom.

I shall dispense this information....Now

Background – My name is king, I work for a large IT support company in the middle of England. I have been working here for a year and a few months and I hate it with a passion. As everyone does.

7am – Hey is that my alarm?, suppose this means I have to go to work… Oh well can’t be helped.

7.30am – Bugger…

7.45am – This bed is sooo comfy

7.50am – Time for a shower

8.00 – Breakfast in the hotel is bad again

8.10 – “You know, this is the English breakfast looks like sick on a plate…”

9.00 – Right, time for work. My first point of call is obviously the free coffee and drinks machine. At this time people are booting up their systems and doing menial user tasks like checking email. Perfect opportunity to restock my fridge with mars bars.

9.30 – I’ve had a few cups of black coffee and more than a few bars of chocolate, time to venture down to the IT directors office to pick up my ‘work’ for the day. IE the powerful Sanyo projector that belongs in the board room. The same Sanyo projector that I stuck a “broken” sticker on the day before… Snacks and entertainment in hand I head to the conference room.

10.00 – It’s taken me half an hour to set the projector back up because I’ve covered the exhaust fan in melted chocolate. Won’t be long before the bulb blows…. Pop some random film into my laptop and away we go.

10.45 – Andy, my partner in crime, strolls in late as usual. Lazy bastards probably been up all night cultivating his ‘crops’. He arrives just in time for his favorite bit of Die Hard and we watch the film in peace until the end.

11.00 – Time to wander into our actual office

11.10 – still wandering

11.20 – it’s a long walk

11.30 - Finally here, that detour to the post office for fags really adds the minutes onto a journey.

11.35 – At my desk now, suppose I better check my email. Unsurprisingly there are around 40 or 50 emails from users at a well known British company, who shall remain nameless. From now on I shall call this company ‘D’.

11.36 – All the emails have been deleted now, time to check my personal email account. All the porn I want, free penis enlargement and if I send this email to 40people I’ll win an all expenses paid vacation to Hawaii you say? Sounds legit…

12.00 – This is when the Cron tables from the D company and all the other companies that use our software come in for inspection. For those who don’t know, a ‘Cron’ is a scheduled ‘job’ that comes from, typically, a UNIX based server. In real terms the Cron tables tell us techies what’s fucked up and where. On a normal day there won’t be a single Cron without some form of error. This is where our first game of the day comes into play. The game is simple. Hide and seek.

12.05 – Both Andy and I have left the office in search of suitable spot to campout. The rules are simple, First person caught by the angry screaming IT director loses. You cannot leave the office site and you cannot hide in female toilets (because the director wont go in there anymore) The point of this game is to be the one who doesn’t have to fix the problems in the Crons, If you could see our Cron lists you would realize how important this game really is…

12.25 – Twenty five minutes in and I’m holed up in the janitor’s closet. James, our one and only duty cleaner comes in three times a week to service our office and a damn good job of it he does too. I can say, with a clean conscience, that my bin has not been emptied in the last few weeks. Well done James, a pillar of the community.

12.30 – The situation has become tense. From here I can listen into the IT director’s office next door and it doesn’t sound good. It seems as though one of the big cheeses from the D company isn’t too happy about the failure of their JIRA server. For those who don’t know, JIRA is a fucked up bag of shit HTML type system that “enables” support staff to contact users easily.

Basically what’s meant to happens is; An email for help is sent to the JIRA servers email address from a user. This is then processed at magic light speed by the server Then the server ships the email into a HTML file and smacks it on the intranet Here everyone can view the email and the problem at ease with the help of lots of nice tools that do nothing. The issue can then be assigned to a person or party. I.E. They can ether be bastards and assign it directly to me or saints and assign it to my company… so some other poor fucker (preferably on the helpdesk) can pick it up.

Now what really happens is… A user sends a help request to JIRA JIRA takes 4 hours to convert the email into HTML and plaster it all over a badly maintained and clinically fucked up webpage JIRA then sends an email telling us about the JIRA… To every single person, not only the company I work for, but also all the companies that work for the D company. This is a fair amount of network traffic to say the least. JIRA then sends the email a further 3 times just to make sure you got it. JIRA then becomes so backlogged with useless data that it has to shut itself down before the database becomes corrupt. In doing so JIRA kills the website thus causing the system a major fault and requiring a 2hour re-indexing session. Fun

12.40 – I can hear the trail end of the conversation between Director Cheese and the IT director and it doesn’t sound good. The slam of the phone indicates that it might well the time to leave. Boss is on the war path…

12.45 – Only 15 minutes to go with no sign of Andy at his desk as I hurry past. He must still be hiding.

12.50 – Just as I duck into the kitchens I spot Andy being goose stepped back to his desk. Amateur.

12.59 – It’s about time to leave the kitchens and head back to claim my victory. The IT manager is still with Andy giving him the “Always one person at the systems desk at any time” talk. He asks me where I’ve been and my reply comes as smooth as silk. "Sorry, I’ve just been restacking our oracle database from this dumb terminal. It’s going to allow us to sort information faster through the UNIX servers...” Happy with this the Director returns to his crypt and I get back to work. Flicking rubber into Andy’s personalized mug, Happy times…

13.30 – I have been at my desk half an hour and I’m already inundated with calls from worthless internal blood suckers asking for more disk space, more server space and more office space. I deal with one or two and head out to the coffee room. As usual it’s filled with workers slacking off talking about their painful lives, “my partner doesn’t love me” and the cat that was diagnosed with slack jaw disease last week. Fascinating…

14.00 – I return with the gargantuan mugs of coffee making sure to give Andy the one with salt in.

14.10 – It’s getting late in the day now and my rock solid will has started too droop like so many others. One look around the offices weary faces and the damage is obvious. Must be a rare case of co-worker psychosis. They need some entertainment…

14.15 – Andy and I decide to ‘mooch’ around looking for people to annoy and we’ve hit the jackpot. The coffee room is full of preppy sales reps who don’t know the first thing about what they are selling, just how to sell it. Simians. We mock a loud argument about the new policy on msn at work. How people using it will be severely disciplined. It’s easy to clear a room if your talking amongst the right people isn’t it…

14.30 – It’s time now for one of our patented 2 hour lunch breaks. Basically the plan is; Get fish and chips from Amjed, our chippy come ‘rare herbs’ dealer, head over to the pool hall and play a few games with a few pints. Decent lunch break we think.

16.44 – Were back in the office and our desk is a sea of complaints. Apparently while we were ‘on lunch’ the D Company had a massive server failure. So actually what happened was one of our, extremely well paid and very highly trained, help desk staff decided it would be a good idea to take a trip into the wonderful world of the comms room. His mere presence there is an insult to all that Andy and I stand for so we take this matter to heart. We fix the problem and start the real task. Hunting down the culprit of this atrocity. To cut a long story short we found the bastard. Sadly it was the IT Director. (This explains why he wasn’t screaming at us when the fault occurred…wanker) We walked back to our office depressed. This soon lifts with a good game of networked Unreal tournament. Bliss.

17.00 – Seventeen hundred hours. 8 hours, 480 minutes, 28800seconds. Its time to go home

Hi everybody! I hope you’re all doing good! School is almost over and next year I’ll be in the sixth grade. I can’t wait for the summer to start!

I wrote a poem about some of the people in school who think they’re so “cool”. They make of fun of people all the time about how they look and what they wear and it really is starting to bother me. I called it “Arrogance Lost”. I hope you like it!

Arrogance Lost

They think they’re so funny
They think they’re so wise
They think that they’re cunning
With that gleam in their eyes

They try to be strong
They try to be cool
They think they’re so smart
With or without school

They think they’re the best
They know it for sure
And that’s what you think
When you’ve taken their lure

They’ll call you and treat you
They’re ever so nice
They’ll talk with you and play with you
They’ll give you advice

They loved you a million
And they show it a lot
They’ll give you everything
Or that’s what you thought

Later they laughed at you
Called you a mean name
Later they picked on you
And then who’s to blame?

Is it you who thought
You were so smart and so strong
Or is it your “friends”
Who never were wrong?

I say that you are
Both to be blamed
With them as the Bullies
And you with no shame

Do I have pity?
Yes but of course!
Because of that you have
Shown no remorse

You might’ve been pushed
And shoved all your might
But you stood your ground
And there wasn’t a fight

And so you are there
With no friend or no foe
You sit there unlike
You’ve never done before

You should have, you could have
You would have, you didn’t
And life seem so horrid
But I’ll give you a hint

You haven’t a friend
You haven’t a clue
You haven’t a reason
Your misery’s so blue

And that’s the end of my saga
And there’s no happy ending
Or lot’s of laughs
But then there is something

See this was a tale
About arrogance lost
Even if there is
Sometimes a cost

I hope you all have a nice summer!


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