Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gibson Ranch After Action Report

Quick Note:
I do Civil War Reenacting. (if you don't know what that is, shoot me an email at I dress as a male cannonner "Red" with the 3rd US Mounted Artillery. The following is the "After Action Report" I wrote for the club newsletter. For more information, visit

Gibson After Action Report

After a relaxing leave, I received a call to arms paired with a strong suggestion that I appear in light of the numbers attending. I set out for the rendezvous, encountering Madame A also on trek for the front having heard rumors of her son being sighted in that area. Madame's carriage being faster than my feet, I hitched a ride. Twas almost a pain in my heart and a tear in my eye to see all my fellow comrades in arms after such a long absence--reunited at last! One I did not recognize was the new Cookie, though there are elements of familiarity with that face...with the food. It will come to me in time, I am sure. After all, as one in the Secret Fraternity of Clerkhood, information is MY bread and butter.
The Colonel, being an officer with a head high above the clouds, no doubt did not notice that the battle for the green hills of Gibson Valley took place under a sweltering sun. We below did our best to provide subtle hints, such as perspiring copiously, panting loudly, and falling stricken to the ground before rounds even left gun chambers. I confess, the only reason our gun seemed to be safe was the ever-present haze of sulphurous canon smoke that hung over our knoll. Some chose to attribute this to First Sgt. F's generous firing drill; others to the serendipity of having Pvt. M. "Reverend" W. on our crew, though that could also be attributed to the crafty First Sergeant. All this soldier knows is that there was shade.

The Gray Cavalry saw a gun that apPEARED to be alone and defenseless. This was, however a cunning trap set by our dashing, cool-headed commander (he was parked under the leafiest tree on the north bank of the river). Charging down the hill, pistol blasting, he shamed the Lieutenant into bravery as well. The Lieutenant always did have a rather high self preservation streak that needs to be removed. The Cavalry, perhaps with the misguided notion that the raging artillery team would be close behind, kicked up their heels and scurried back across the river. Their mounts then followed.

Our valour in the face of the insurgents and the heat must have touched a heart string somewhere, for a breeze struck up during our much-earned siesta. Upon returning to the gun, we were joined by a new cannoneer. Having not run the transfer paperwork myself, I was naturally curious as to his identity. I put all my natural subtlety as clerk in to action. "Who are you, where have you come from, and in God's name why are you HERE?" I received a completely unsolicited "Bug off, stripey". This did not fill me with joy and goodwill. Many of you will remember a certain Cpl. F that joined Our Lord some years back, leaving the lovely Widow F. Then, a brother appeared from nowhere to take his place not only in her affections, but in the saddle as well. This Cpl has been absent all while a similar-visaged man has been sauntering around in Lieutenant bars. And now another brother F appearing as a cannoneer? I submit that something officially fishy is taking place; therefore, I will investigate with all the resources at my disposal and inform the commandment of my findings. That said, I do feel the Corporal has a firm understanding now of the proper procedure with which to present rounds to be loaded. Taking such a duty so lightly as to include skipping is not to be tolerated.

We returned from a successful skirmish to find Pvt R in a flurry of food. I found much to my dismay that the 3rd US Artillery, Schnieder's Battery was to host a diplomatic envoy from our South-most counterparts, James River Artillery. And they were bringing their womenfolk with them. No half-measures there! Pvt. Mel volunteered to fetch the envoy in the ambulance, and with our only other option the limber and cassion, we agreed. We hoped the obvious signals would be correctly misinterpreted. A well-placed bribe lured the Fort Point Garrison Brass Band to our camp, who proceeded to serenade the southern sailors. Such was the call of the sirens, that our very own unit was drawn to listen. Pvt.s T and L held out long enough to bring wash water, but then they too were lost.
Much like any glimpse of something Divine, details of the evening are hazy, save two key points. I'm not sure where Pvt R came by those six apple pies, but as long as they keep coming, I don't think anyone cares. The company was so pleasant, the conversation so delectable that the future course of the war does not concern me as much as whether such a gathering can be had again.

Morning brought to the forefront such important issues as: would there be enough eggs? (there would) who shot Big Guy? (a horse of the black ones) and was the state of the Captain's soul such that it would behoove him to attend Church Call? (it was, so it would) I also realized at this time that, somewhat to my clerk-y surprise, there was no one left to hunt down for ration money. I would like to send my gratitude to all those attending for stepping up to the plate and not making me chase you in that heat.

Captain G conspired with First Sergeant F to provide a demonstration of our military prowess by fielding a gun with full crew and shooting at nothing. After a consultation between corporals past, present, and possibly future, Cpl A angled the gun towards some shifty looking barn-like structures in the far distance. They weren't moving at the moment, but hell, have we ever taken chances? Our first shot was a sighting shot. We decided this after me made it. We shifted left, then fired again...or rather tried to. We tried to fire roughly 4 more times. By the time our primer-impaired cannon actually went off, we were of the opinion that distant metal barns held no threat, as they hadn't moved at all from our barrage.

We were told that Sunday was cooler. They say if you tell anybody something often enough they will believe it, and Command was certainly doing its damnedest to test that theory. Being a student of human nature myself, I don't entirely agree with the control group they used, but it did get the rest of the soldiers semi mobile. This was just dandy because it gave the Rebels something to shoot at other than myself--a mobile shield against pesky confederate lead. This appeared to be working rather well....until halfway through the first skirmish. Upon the clear front, I swept my eyes around the knoll, and spied movement where there shouldn't be. After discharging, I made pointing motions, and a sound similar to "ooga ooga! the enemy!!" Ignored by the rest of the crew, I concentrated my efforts on Cpl. F, who heard the certain girlish tone to my voice when I become frantic. After alerting command, the Captain again plunged down the hill into the melee. Even with no trusty Lieutenant to guard his back this time, he emerged victorious and unscathed...the gun was saved!!

I end my report of the Battles of Gibson Ranch, Gibson River, and Gibson Hills with a hearty Hoorah!! No casualties were taken from the elite 3rd--either from enemy fire, the heat, or friendly fire. Our men -- skilled. Our Commander -- fearless. Our horses -- fast, and our our food -- hearty! I look forward to our next engagement and hope to see many more uniforms, with strong soldiers to fill them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

One Unwanted Guest With a Side of Sliminess, Please?

I am not a prejudiced person.

In fact, I rarely have a problem with anyone on a basic level. That is, of course until I met the guest of room "A".

To put things in perspective, my hotel gets a number of world travels for whom English is more like the third or fourth language. Social norms may be different, leading perhaps to the following instances:

An Afghani, traveling with a group of other Afghanis would approach strange women in the bar and the following would take place.

Him: You are my seester. You come to my room. Room 999.

Her: I'm not your sister, and I'm not going to your room!

Him: (insistent) You are my SEESter. You come to my room! Room 999. (and so on)

A Macedonian Group came to stay. I was offered fervently on multiple occasions the chance to get in on some feet lickin' action. Yup, one of the *gentlemen* made it clear to me 5 or 6 times that he would be happy to perform the service. Now, I googled this...didn't get too far....and then figured I probably didn't want to know.

Current man is part of a group from Iraq. At first he seemed nice, but....began asking such scintillating questions as "How old are you? Are you married? How is your education? You eat much?" I chose not to hear the last question, and tossed it off. Discussing the matter later with a co-worker, I found that he had been, if possible, worse; calling her ignorant--among other things. (probably b/c she wouldn't go along with his conversation)

So there we are, sitting there, having just both mentioned that we don't like him. He comes up and says "You both eat lots together?". I choose to misinterpret: "Yes, we work together". Him: No! No. You both eat lots..get big, BIG! Big is goooood" (now picture accompanying arm gestures) Me: (mouth agape) I'm not comfortable discussing this with you. Him: You eat lots? You get big? Me: I don't want to talk about this with you. Him: (starts to ask AGAIN) Coworker: (breaks in) She doesn't want to talk about it. Don't ask her again.

He was subsequently warned from speaking to anybody on anything other than pertinent business...especially after he tried the deal out on one of the managers. Problem. He's going to be here for awhile, and thinks that just because I'm not actively frowning at him and have to respond to his "hello-how-are-you" greetings (part of my job) that we are all happy friends. Thus, he is entitled to ask me for help on his personals site he has just signed up for and now spends hours on (no kidding, current clocked time is 3 hours). He is also entitled to ask me for help on the laptop he's borrowing that has a virus scanner program that won't. go. away.

I wonder why no one else in his group wants to help him? Oh wait. No I don't. I think I know perfectly well.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

When Logic Doesn't Work, Try Yelling

So, there I was, minding my own business, and this woman comes up.
We'll call her "Natalie", and her husband "James".

Natalie: My room is a little close to the you have anything else?

Me: no...I'm sorry, we're booked for this evening so I have nowhere else to move you.

Natalie: Ok (leaves)

Not FIVE minutes later....

Man comes up, tallish with halo of white hair surrounding thick features, and what I was soon to find was an unpleasant and stubborn face. No one else is in the lobby at this time, except for the previous occupant of *A* who is using the computer. More on him later.

James: You just told my wife that you couldn't move us

Me: That's correct

James: But why did you give us that room? We didn't ASK for that room assignment.

Me: Well sir, I assigned rooms first depending on requests, and then filled the rest in

James: (voice getting louder) But there must be other rooms you assigned to people that THEY didn't ask for and aren't here yet. You could give me one of those.

Me: I'm sorry sir, the others of your room types all had requests, I don't have anywhere else to put you.

James: (yelling now...still no one else in the lobby)But I didn't ask for this room! You can't just arbitrarily make room assignments (ummm...yes...I CAN). I didn't ask for this room!!

Me: You actually have a very nice're in the main building, you're not on a floor with the soccer teams going in and out (of which you are a part of), and you're not on the street side which can get noisy at night.

James: If you don't want to play "room shuffle" just say so, but don't say there aren't any rooms left.

**point** Another parent from his team came by at one point, put a hand on his shoulder saying in a cajoling voice "are you giving her a hard time? Come on James...." only to be completely ignored, so left

Me: I have no rooms left.

James: Look me in the eye and tell me that

Me: (duuuuh) I have no rooms left

James: You're lying.

Me: ExCUSE me??

James: You're lying, you just don't want to change the rooms

Me: I'm done talking about this because I don't think you're paying attention to what I'm saying

et. cet. er. a.

Ok. Reality check. Is yelling at someone and calling them a liar going to make them anymore inclined to help you? Show of hands here... And the fact that he said he would leave as long as I assured him there was (quote) nothing else, and then he left puzzles me. I said nothing different than I had been saying the entire previous conversation, but perhaps he decided that 13 was the magic number--if I was lying the 13th time, my ears would bleed, my hair would fall out and he would be able to tell without a doubt.

My Revenge:

Being argued with is not fun for anyone in customer service, but the yelling and name calling takes it one step too far. This means that aside from just being unwilling to help him, I now want to do what I can to make his stay miserable. Ie, note on his reservation and the complete story to all other clerks. We clerks stick together. Need I say more?

Three cheers for the Scarlet L....

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Anatomy of a Phone Call: in which someone dies in the end

**names have been changed to protect identity of the murderer


Me: Happy Hotel in Danville, this is Bethany

Her: .....

Me: Happy Hotel in Danvill....this is Bethany

Her: Is this the Happy Hotel?


Me: Yes.

Her: In Danville?


Me: Yes.

Her: Ok Stephanie, can I have reservations please?

die. just die.

Me: That would be me! What dates did you need?

Her: Oh, um....lemme check.....'re calling to make hotel reservations. maybe only the Happy Hotel asks for strange!

Her: Ok Stephanie, my name is Linda Brown, and I need it for the 13 of July, 2009

yeah, cause my finger might have slipped and hit the 2010 button by accident....wait. we don't HAVE one yet

Me: Are you coming in as part of a group or conference or by yourself?

see...these dates are familiar...there is a conference going on that people have been calling for

Her: By myself

Me: Are you sure? Not the USCJEGLS conference?

Her: Nope, all my myself

sing it! aaallll bye myyyyy seeelllllf....

Me: Ok. (inputs dates) That night is going for 145 plus tax...did you have AAA?

Her: Yes

Me: That drops it down to 132. Would you like to book now?

Her: Yes

Me: First name?

Her: Brown

o rly

Me: Brown is your first name?

Her:'s Linda. Brown is my LAST name.

Me: Ah



Me: And a credit card to hold the room?

Her: Credit Card?

Me: yes, to hold the room.

Her: Oh, I don't have it WITH me, it's in the car

ok. earth to linda. this must be really hard for you...a hotel that not ONLY asks you to give DATES, but also to have a CREDIT CARD handy. I'm really sorry that we can't just take your word you'll show up, but there are bad people in the world...and we have been lied to **sniff**...our trust has been fact, we're seeking counseling. no. wait. I'm more sorry you even called our hotel.

YES we will ask for a credit card, please have it handy.


seriously? I'm not going to make you feel all right about this.

Her: I guess I'll go down and get it

you do that.

(gets credit card information)

Her: Oh, and they told me to ask for the special USCJEGLS rate.

Me: growing dread You're coming for the USCJEGLS conference??!!!

Her: Yes

Me: So you're part of a group

Her: Oh, I suppose so

lady, you have just wasted 10 minutes of my time. I want to throttle you. I want to pluck out your eyes, reach through the holes and try to locate you pecan-sized brain. you will still be talking when I do this, because your entire brain and speech centers WONT be in your head, they are located somewhere else. where? i don't know or want to

Me: I wish you'd told me first. This will take a few minutes, and then I'll need ALL your information again.

Her: oohhh....


so, I'm going to make this silence as uncomfortable and drawn out as possible. I will not say anything. I will type extra loud. and i will intentionally take twice as long. then, i will put you on hold while I finish getting it "set up"


Me: Would you like me to just email it to you, or did you want the confirmation number as well now?

Her: The confirmation number now

Me: It is 539--

Her: Wait! I need to find a paper and pen!

if you know you are going to write a number down, perhaps you should have quill and parchment handy? or, if that fails, just carve the number into your arm using a penknife.

Her: ok, go

Me: 539714

Her: Thanks ....was is Stephanie?

Me: was Bethany....B as in boy.

now pause for guilt to set in.....


The scary part is, I actually has THIS phone call. This is not an amalgamation of the "five worst calls", this is one that happened. I don't know how she planned on getting here...driving requires some common sense, NONE of what she seemed to possess.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sex is the Answer

What is the question you ask?

No question. But sex is the answer.

Take books in specific.

One imagines the writer sitting in his office; facts, pictures, clocks plastering the dark-paneled walls. Dictionary and thesaurus easy to hand, as well as a reasonably current MLA handbook.

The story is so far as follows:

Steven, our dashing hero, hears of a nefarious bank robbery plot, but the details are sketchy. The police (shock! gasp! surprise!) can't donate man power to something so iunsubstantial, but they file the report away for future reference. Steven, a budding amateur detective (of course) uses his astonishing luck and natural talent for ferreting out information goes on the hunt. While pursuing the soon-to-be criminals, he meets brilliant and sexy goddess of a newspaper reporter, Andrea. They hit it off. The chase heats up. Things are looking mighty dark for our pair....

But wait.

Something's missing.

We've read 153 pages into the book, and something is glaringly obviously absent.

Our writer realizes this. Well darn..but there's a solution! Oh yes, there is indeed! He pulls out the sleazy red flash drive he keeps for such emergencies, plugs it in. In it are a series of folders labeled with simple numbers. Our valiant author randomly selects one of the files that purports to be 509 words in length--that should fill the slot nicely. Copy, paste and save!! Success! Yet again, the emergency sex scene file (under a folder marked "steamy") has saved the book. When the writer makes it through to a little over halfway through the book, he will choose from the folder marked "scandalous" and change the names to fit.

Only when he gets to the last fifth of the book will he choose from the "sweet and sexy" file. When desperate to up the ratings, he will allow himself to select from the "shockingly racy" folder.

Somehow, somewhere, amidst the gypsy lasses buying shoddy dresses that were too small for their robust figures and sequentially bursting out of them at inopportune moments with male suitors, the sex scene was born. Born to rescue the world not from sin, but to damn an otherwise decent novel with the scene that makes you go "eh? where did that come from?" You recognize nothing but a generic scene that could have been left out entirely without affecting the novel whatsoever...except probably making it light years better.

My sister and I have come up with something we're calling "The Book Flip Test"

You take a book that looks promising. You like the look of this book. Flip it about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through. Check first at the page breaks, as steamy scenes tend to taper off about there. Then, if it passes the first flip, flip to the last 1/5 of the book. This is where the "make up" or "reunited after intense battle sequence" sex happens. If nothing appears, and you really want to be sure, flip to a little AFTER half way.

Only then will you know true success ;)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Adventures as a Vermin Killer

They're everywhere-insects and animals that invoke a feeling of distaste. Some, on sight, like that glossy black cockroach you really tried to avoid stepping on because the feeling of *crunch/splat* under your thin flip flop is worse that knowing it is alive and scuttling the streets. For the other ones, think rabbits. And squirrels. I shall try to keep my comments on little bushy-tailed specialty nut-eating squirrel-demons to a minimum. (Janitor, stuff your heart out)

The little cotton-tail was sooo cute, bouncing its little self through our side field driveway area. I encouraged the dog to chase them only to watch them scamper back to the brier. Aww! Next day, the sawzall wouldn't turn on when connected by extension cord to the house. Not that I particularly wanted to cut kindling, but, the mystery of the thing had more allure than trying to pass off a "Um, Dad, the sawzall is broken, and so, I guess I can't....well...SAW". I discovered the extension cord had been chewed through by 2 very cute-but-now-absent cotton-tailed bunnies.

Gophers have never been misfiled in the"so cute" category probably because they spend their time trying not to be seen at all except by earthworms and other gophers.

So, there I am, doing some gardening work, and saw those promising fresh mounds. I would tackle this. The hoses come out, holes are plugged, water is turned on, my brother comes out to observe the occasion. After a good 15 min of excitement and expectations, the furry little head pops out of the last dry hole.

Ummm. Now what? We have our gopher, but my faith we would get this far has been lacking.

When my mother had found a gopher when I was a toddler, by father had charged in and beat the thing over the head with a handy piece of firewood. None such around me though, and the critter is starting to make tracks. "Trista! Grab that bucket, we'll trap the bugger!" I yell, and grab a short-handled, square ended shovel. I'm not sure what I had planned to do with it when I picked it up-maybe scoop it into the bucket? Oh yeah. Drown it-that was the plan!

The gopher is still running, so I whack it with the shovel to make it stop. Tristan, not realizing he would actually be needed to take part in the execution, dithered. "The bucket!" I holler enthusiastically, and enthusiastically alternating in trying to scoop it up and whacking it to make it stop moving.

Then we no longer needed the bucket.

I had scooped the gopher in half.

I 'm not quite sure how it happened. But it was dead, so maybe it doesn't matter.

After moving to a less rural area a few years back, I thought these were things of the past. I had forgotten that when I visit home, the inevitable "coincidence" will happen.

Case in Point:

*phone rings*
"Hey...we're driving down the driveway, and there's a dead skunk trapped under the bottom hot wire, shorting it out. Can you get it out?"

What I'm sure she meant to say was pry it out, because when I fetched my stick, my camera (yes. oh yes.) and my little bro who had the misfortune to be around again, pry was exactly the word. And trust me, electrified and scorched bloating skunk is not the best way to start one's day.


Heads up.

I am considering letting you start yours with just such a picture someday. After all, that's what cameras are for, oi?