Tell us what's happened to you recently (that's interesting)

I don’t believe they exist.

Got rated in another air traffic control position today at my undisclosed facility which lets me hike RMNP to my heart’s content. Standards guy said it was the best rating he’d ever seen. Duh, I’m Hal9000, I think I can handle push some tin.

I went to Walker Stalker Con in Chicago this past weekend. It’s a Walking Dead fan convention. I went with some friends from the haunted house my wife volunteers at; a couple of them were in makeup as zombies. A lot of people ended up forming impromptu lines to get photos with them, which was fun. We should have charged, heh. Good marketing for the haunt, I suppose.

The con itself wasn’t as fun as I’d hoped; I had heard they’d have a lot of vendors, and I love con vendors for the fun art you can buy. I was disappointed; most of the art vendors were pretty piss poor. A lot of photos, movie posters, and bad Photoshop. Prior cons I’d been to exposed me to a lot of talented artists doing their thing. This had a lot less of that.

Still, I got to see a lot of the stars of the show. I didn’t pay for any autographs, nor photo ops, because I’m both cheap and somehow opposed to doing so. Either way, I was still struck by the same thing I’ve often been struck by when seeing famous people IRL - they’re shorter than they look on camera, and usually just kind of resemble normal folks.

I also learned that Chandler Riggs (Carl, or CO-RAL on Walking Dead) is somehow a teen heartthrob. I had no idea. But the sheer amount of teenage girls walking around with VIP badges (which were a few hundred bucks a pop) was surprising. I really, really had no idea that he had that kind of thing going for him, but hey, more power to him.

Some photos of people getting photos (META):

So yeah there is definitely an armadillo living in or near my front porch. I was out tonight enjoying the warm weather and I heard it snuffling around. During the day I see holes in the ground. The other night a neighbor said that he saw one running across the lawns. I guess if you’re used to this it’s not a big deal, but to a NY boy it’s kind of cool.

That’s pretty cool. Pity they carry leprosy. #notallarmadillos.

Out at breakfast with my girlfriend at our favorite cafe before I take her to work, and she says she’s going to need my help with something. It involves using muscles. I am intrigued, but cautious.

“Go on,” I say.

“I found a desk,” she says, and shows me a picture of a piece of furniture sitting on a sidewalk. “It’s on the next block from my house, and it’s perfect for my guest bedroom. It has gold trim and will go just right with the bed in there, which is white and gold.”

“Are you sure it’s not blue and black?”


She goes on to explain where it is exactly, and asks that I go and investigate the situation after I drop her off at work. So, being a fairly decent boyfriend, I do.

I find the desk and double-park my car and get out to check out the situation. It looks pretty good. She’s right. It’s a really nice desk. Just left out there on the street. It’s pretty big though. About five feet long with 9 drawers. So I try to lift up one end of it.

Holy fuck. This thing is a beast.

I take out all the drawers and pile them in the back seat of my car. Then I test the weight again hoping that the absence of the drawers will make some kind of magical difference. No way. I begin to inspect it. Being used to assembling IKEA furniture, I wonder if I can take it apart and schlep it down the street in pieces. Nope. This thing is solid. Hoo boy.

I go over to my girlfriend’s house, which is a couple of football fields away, and look about the garage for something with wheels. A tricycle. Nope. It’ll be crushed. Razor scooters? Maybe. I walk them back down the street and try them. Nope. Way too wobbly.

So I grab a couple of collapsed cardboard moving boxes and head back down the street. I figure I’ll try to skate the thing back on them. Man. It is rough going. I can barely lift the thing based on weight alone, and added to that is the overhanging surface area gives very little chance of purchase for lifting. I lift with my fingertips, dragging the beast a few feet. Re-position the box under the far legs. Then rest. Then go again. I cross one driveway. Down as the sidewalk dips. Then back up. I cross the next driveway. Dip down and then back up. The back up is a killer. I’m at the corner of the street now, and I turn to try to figure out how I’m going to do the street crossing I’ll have to make. Transitioning from cement to asphalt and back, while crossing an intermittently busy street with a very long, very heavy, desk.

“Oh well,” I say to myself. “Let’s do this.”

I’m about two feet onto the asphalt when I realize dragging is not going to work. The surface is way too coarse and the cardboard box just sticks to it. So I start doing this thing where I rotate the desk, trying to get it across the intersection by kind of walking it across, pivoting its legs on the cardboard boxes. Swing the thing around. Re-position the cardboard. Swing the thing around again. I look like I’m on the worst heist ever. Also, I’m wearing my cowboy boots. I look ridiculous.

I see a man walk towards me as I stand there, forlorn in the middle of the intersection with a giant desk. I hadn’t noticed him before. He’s wearing a white dress shirt and khakis and has a sheaf of papers in one hand. He gestures to me, saying nothing. I think I’m in trouble. But he gestures again, making a lifting motion with his hands. Then he puts his papers on the desk and helps me muscle the beast across the street to the sidewalk on my girlfriend’s side of the street. Her house is about a hundred yards farther down, but I cannot bear the thought of this man having to help me the rest of the way. He gestures again. I am embarrassed by the fact that this stranger has helped me, out of nowhere, and I tell him that I’ll take care of the rest.

“Thank you so much,” I say.

He points to his ear and shakes his head. Then he says something unintelligible to me. Oh. No wonder all he did was gesture. He has a hearing impairment.

I give the sign for “Thank you” and smile. He responds with the sign for “You’re welcome” and then he points at the desk. I do a simple finger spell of “OK,” indicating that I will take it from here. He nods, grabs his papers, and walks back down the street from whence he came. If it had been dark out, I would have thought I was in a Stephen King story.

I go back across the intersection to get my cardboard, and make my way back to the desk. I rest for a bit. I can only drag the thing a few feet before having to rest each time, so I’m marshaling my resources. I look down to where the house is, and I figure it’ll take me maybe thirty minutes to an hour to get it the rest of the way. I prepare to drag the thing again when I notice a woman, a large older woman in a pink t-shirt and shorts, emerging from the house on the opposite corner. She crosses the street diagonally, corner-to-corner. She walks with purpose and it is clear that I am her destination. I wonder for the second time if I’m in trouble. I worry that somehow this desk is hers, and I’ve stolen it. Maybe she uses the sidewalk as her office or something. I’ve gone from a Stephen King story to a Coen Brothers’ movie.

“Hi,” she says. “I live over there.” She points at her house. Because the street is on an incline, her house looms over the intersection. “We call it the fishbowl. We see everything that’s going on. And our dogs let us know when we miss something.”

“I heard them,” I say, rather haplessly. They were barking like crazy as I moved the desk across the front of her driveway. Little yappy dogs. I put away my unkind thoughts.

“I saw you out here struggling and I’m going to help you carry this. My husband is coming too. But he has a bad back.”

Looking over her shoulder I see a portly man going step-by-step down their many front steps to their driveway. He has to take each step individually, both feet on each step before moving down to the next, and it is clear that he moves in pain. I think they are both somewhere in their sixties.

“Oh. No,” I say, gently. “I can’t let you do that. This thing is way too heavy. I can handle this. It’ll just take me some time.”

“No,” she says, shushing me. “We can help. I’ve watched you with this thing, and we can help. Where do you need to go?”

I point down the street.

“Near the big palm tree there?”



By this time her husband has ambled across the street. “I’m Elaine,” she says. “And this is Al.”

“Elaine. Al. I’m Christien.”

She points to the next house and tells me that since there is a raised lawn there, we can position the desk up on that, and then bend down and pick up the thing from the bottom, thus not having to try to grip the top with our fingertips and shuffle along like a couple of idiot penguins. I try to tell her no, again. She’s rather round, and older than I am, and all I can see is her throwing out her back.

“I know how to lift things,” she says. Totally no-nonsense. “Trust me.”

We move the desk to the next house, position it on the raised lawn, and we both bend down and lift with our knees. She is right. So much easier. We move our way down the block and put the desk in front of the garage.

“Let us help you move it in,” Elaine says.

“No. It’s okay. I need to clear out space.”

“Then let us help you get the drawers.”

“It’s okay. They’re in my car.”

She nods. We talk a bit about how long they worked for the high school just down the street. Forty years. Al was the plant manager there, and she basically moved food every day from the cafeteria there to the local elementary schools. So that’s where she had to do all the heavy lifting. Huge chafing trays and gigantic cans of processed food.

“I couldn’t figure out what you were up to,” she said. “Then I saw you carrying those Razor scooters and I got that you were going to try to move the desk. I saw John help you get across the street.”

Al chimed in with, “He’s a deaf-mute. He lives on the corner opposite us.”

“He would have helped you more, I’m sure,” Elaine continued. “But it was probably the communication thing.”

We chatted for a bit more and Elaine told me about the pickup truck with the fifth-wheel trailer they just sold to get a motor home. She said she wished she still had it so they could use that to help. They asked if I would need help with the huge, three-paneled mirror that was also left on the sidewalk. I assured them I could get that myself. Then they were on their way. Just as I went to go get my car Elaine yelled back to me.

“Christien! Do you want to keep this cardboard box?” She held up the box I’d left down at the corner. I yelled back in the negative. “Then I’ll just throw it in our recycling bin!”

“Thanks, Elaine,” I yelled back, waving, kind of on the verge of tears.

Sometimes I marvel at how awesome people are. I complain so often about the jerks. But then you meet people like Elaine and Al. And John. And you realize…damn…people are pretty fucking great.


Thanks, Christien. I feel better about humanity now.

I honestly kept expecting something bad to happen. Glad to be wrong. Great story.

Have we heard from Christien since last night? What was in the desk that was so heavy? Maybe the yappy dogs were trying to warn him!

To follow this up: I just came back from the wedding and I had an absolute blast. I’m super sad it’s over. :(

I had all sorts of worries about how much I’d get to hang out with my friends and how much it’d just be a bunch of strangers and whirlwind wedding prep stuff and potential catastrophes and blah de blah. But the trip down was super smooth (I even got put in the TSA “pre-approved” line at security so I was fast-tracked and didn’t have to take off my shoes or pull out liquids or anything), and once my friends located me (with a big greeting hug) it was like I’d been hanging out with them for fifteen years IRL. I got a few hours solo with them before we went to the inn they’d reserved for the wedding (beautiful, pastoral…pretty much perfect), and then the groom’s family and the bridesmaid trickled in by ones and twos so I got to meet and spend time with all of them before more people came onto the scene. They were all really cool and eclectic and welcoming and it ended up feeling like I was just hanging out with my family (except I had more in common with them, generally speaking, than a lot of the people in my family - not that I’ve ever had problems getting along with anyone in my family). And it turned out that everything was pretty much set, wedding-wise, so aside from a brief rehearsal, executing my part of the ceremony (walking down with the groom and walking back up with the bridesmaid), posing for a few photos, and making a toast at the wedding, I pretty much just ended up hanging out and talking and eating in this incredibly beautiful and well appointed setting. Plus the ceremony was beautiful. I felt like it really got to the heart of what marriage should be about and they were just glowingly happy and adorable and…

Yeah, it was great. The trip back wasn’t -quite- as smooth (where the Minneapolis airport TSA preapproved me and waved me on after a quick consult when I showed my expired ID with the paperwork proving a renewed one was on the way but not available yet, the Asheville airport TSA decided this meant I needed the full patdown and luggage disassembly, the big sticking point apparently being that my 9 year old expired ID had a different address than the paperwork for my current license. Explaining that, y’know, I’d moved since 2006 didn’t seem to register. But whatever. I had time and I wasn’t running contraband or explosives or anything so why make a fuss?), but the main thing I’m sad about is that I’m probably not going to get to hang out with most of those people again, since there’s really no reason for them to be there if I visit the wedding couple again (which I would very much like to do) what with them being in California and Colorado and my friends living in North Carolina.

I bet his girlfriend changed her mind when she got home, and he had to drag it back…

But even then: totally worth it. Lightened up my morning!

Friend of mine here in town may have killed himself today. We’re all still unsure. Last anyone knows for sure, he got on a plane to somewhere far off after posting some really. . . I guess the word for it would be “alarming”. . . stuff online. I. . . man, I don’t even know right now.

We went to dinner a few months ago, after he was forcibly committed by an ex. He did such a good job talking it all down to the ex being crazy and vengeful. The stuff I read today shows how well he had covered all that up from us. . . and makes me feel like such absolute shit for not being more aware, more in-tune, more. . . “there” for him.


Talk about a rollercoaster. Police at his flight destination have picked him up. Everyone’s hoping he didn’t take/do anything en route, but we probably won’t hear more for a day or two at the least.

What an incredibly taxing day :(

He posted alarming stuff, then went on a flight to somewhere, but got picked up at the destination, then killed himself? I don’t understand the sequence of events. It all sounds pretty awful though, so I hope your friend wasn’t able to harm himself or anyone else.

As for you feeling like a bad friend, it doesn’t sound like you could’ve done much else since he actively covered up his true emotional state.

Apologies, meant to make my edit more clear; he is currently in custody at his destination. As grim as it may sound, I think he’d planned a rather “famous” form of suicide tied to where he went; the whole thing had apparently been planned for some time now, we’re finding out. Not to divulge a lot of his personal info, but once people knew where in the country he was going, and what he was generally planning (suicide), friends were able to contact the relevant authorities and alert them to what he was likely going to do.

I suspect his life is going to be pretty agonizingly terrible for a long while–the parts of his life now uncovered, and the things he posted–are going to cause a lot of issues for him. Issues I know he was trying to run from, because he felt like there was no possible good way out. That situation’s not really any better, but I hope that he’ll allow those of us who care for him in enough to try to help get past the worst of it.

I got to see the face of an “avowed scif-fi hater” after he read my copy of Starship Troopers and enjoyed it. Because I didn’t tell him it was sci-fi, and he basically was too busy enjoying it realise it was ye hated genre.

He’s now borrowed Ender’s Game and Old Man’s War from me.

How did someone pick up a copy of “Starship Troopers” and not realize it was science fiction? I could see either of the other two titles, or something like Time Enough for Love or Stranger in a Strange Land, but Starship Troopers? :)

My team was called out by UFO/conspiracy web site as being part of the “Illuminati” because of a product we are working on.

Mine is not to reason why, mine is to create new sci-fi fans, apparently :P

Hey, my father read the Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter book. He called me and said he didn’t remember any of that from his school days.

I just had to shake my head. And he’s a retired airline pilot!

Round that off with a viewing of Aliens and a few games of Space Hulk for the ultimate “purge the xenos filth” experience.