Anachostic

My tagline, let me show you it.

Language And Its Repercussions

I finally dug out my laptop from when I made my last trip to the wasteland.  I didn’t have any internet access there, so I didn’t post any blog entries.  But I did have a text file of ideas and this is one.

So, this trip.  It’s made me a little more sensitive to language in a couple of ways.  The first way is what I perceive as the overuse of the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

When I have to tell someone why I’m visiting, I have a choice of what to say, but no matter where I start, questions will always reveal the root cause.  Like, “I’m up visiting my mom.  Oh, she’s doing ok.  No, she’s in a nursing home home.  Yeah, she had a stroke.”  And at some point, “I’m sorry” will come out.  And that irks me, only because I view that phrase as an apology, not as sympathy.  And people may not understand that I wouldn’t say that phrase in sympathy, either.  I would say something like “That’s too bad.”  Because I’m not sorry.  I didn’t have any involvement in the process.

Similarly, but not, my GF and I are apart for this trip.  And because of the GF’s unreal schedule with work and school, we don’t see each other very often anyway.  And we had to work out a difference the other night in regard to expressing how we felt about this.  She would tell me, “I miss you” and I wouldn’t really return the sentiment.  Most times, I would say something more positive, like “we’ll see each other soon.”  So the returned sentiment was that I didn’t miss her.  It’s only been recently that I’ve understood this behavior.

I didn’t get why this was a big deal because in my head, I never focused on the lack of the present, I focused on the happiness of the future.  I never missed her, because I was always happy that we would see each other soon.  It’s a pretty different viewpoint.  But the issue was, I was not communicating that clearly enough.  By being reassuring and saying, “we’ll get to see each other this Friday”, I was not really saying I cared.  It was only addressing her problems.  A more relative and truer way to express the same thing would be to say, “I can’t wait until I see you Friday.”  That statement makes clear a couple of things: I am not sad about the present; I am excited about the future, and she is the object of my excitement.

Language is a tricky thing.  You have to say what you mean and sometimes you have to say more than what you mean.

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Stress Previews

One of the best things I have done is to sign up for UPS and FedEx’s package tracking services.  Basically, UPS/FedEx verifies that you own a street address, then every time a package comes in for that address, you get email updates on when the package will arrive and another notification when it is delivered.  It’s great.  Much better than having to get updates from whatever website you purchased an item from.

The USPS also has a service like that, which I also signed up for.  However, USPS has taken that service a step further.  Now they send you a picture of the mail you are getting.  How modern and cool.  It was an opt-in service, to which I opted in pretty much immediately.  What happens is, every day, you get an email with actual pictures of your mail in it.  You can see the from and to addresses and the postage (if you care about that).  You see the entire front of the envelope.  How awesome!

Soon, I started getting emails from USPS with images in them.  I quickly opened up the emails to see what I was getting.  There it is, my soon to be arriving mail!  And I quickly found out, I didn’t care.  Mail is not the same as a package.  And to be honest, I don’t think I would care to see a picture of my in-transit package.  It’s a box with a label on it.  Woo hoo!

Adding to the “don’t care” argument is the amount of junk mail I get.  I don’t get a ton of it, but any junk mail is too much.  Getting an email with a picture of a car dealership flyer is like a double insult.  Now I have to look at the fucking thing twice.  Once in an email and once more as it goes in the trash.  Then, there is this slight problem of my ex-wife’s mail (and junk mail) still coming to my house.  Yes, yes, I know I need to take care of that, but the trash can is sufficient for now.  Still, seeing that mail in advance doesn’t do anything for me.

And lastly, when I see a letter coming from the hospital, that is not marked as pre-sorted postage (i.e. junk), I get slightly freaked out.  Why would they be mailing me something?  Is it a bill?  Is it a late bill?  Have I been found to have a zombie virus?  And I can’t find out right now.  I have to wait.  But I know it’s coming, whatever it is.

Although it doesn’t apply to me at this time, what if my partner was getting mail that I wasn’t supposed to see?  Or vice versa?  That’s a situation I’d rather not deal with.

So, the USPS image preview concept is very cool, as a concept, but it is less than ideal in practice.  Personally, I think the issues outweigh the benefits.  We’ll have to see how long this experiment lasts.

Temporary Improvements

Day one of my first NaNoWriMo.  I don’t know what really to expect, so I probably overprepped.  I planned on planting myself in front of the computer and not moving for hours and hours.  So, to make sure I was uninterrupted, I ordered food from Pizza Hut to eat first, or during, or whatever.  This post isn’t about the writing part, it’s about the food part (but not about the eating part).

I got to PH and picked up my pizza.  It’s a different crew tonight and I don’t recognize anyone.  Seeing as I go there weekly, more or less, we kinda know each other.  Anyway, when the counter person came out with my food, she handed the pizza to me and walked off.  That’s kind of rude in and of itself, but the question popped into my head that I wasn’t asked to look at the pizza first to make sure it was done correctly.

When I got to my car, I wondered more.  Wasn’t that a thing for Pizza Hut?  Something like, “Your pizza is free if we don’t ask you to look at it?”  Now, I don’t particularly care if my pizza is free or not.  I’m pretty sure I still have a credit on file with them that I’ll probably never use since I always order online.  But, Pizza Hut was obviously concerned about customers seeing their pizzas at some point.  It’s logical.  Catch mistakes before they leave the store.  The customer won’t be nearly as pissed off as they would be if they had to turn around and drive back for a replacement.  So to incentivize this behavior in their employees, they established this rule, with the penalty of having a charge-off if the employees didn’t comply.

Ok, so an employee didn’t follow the protocol.  But when I looked back in my memory, I didn’t see the rule promoted or displayed anywhere in the store.  At least nowhere that I noticed it.  How does a rule like this just end?  That’s like my Quicken post where Intuit promoted better customer service free for a limited time.  It’s not worth doing if you’re not going to do it all the time. (And in retrospect, how weird is it to explicitly say you have to pay for better service?  It’s more like an unspoken thing.)

The same thing for DQ and their upside-down Blizzards.  The Blizzard is supposed to be free if the cup isn’t flipped over when they hand it to you.  But that’s not a universal rule.  When I was back in PA, the DQ there had a sign stating they were not participating in the “upside-down or free” promotion.  I’m unsurprised by that considering the customer base in that town, but regardless, I know the “upside-down or free” promotion will end at some point.  And then what?  It just goes back to the way it was.  Why do it in the first place?  In DQ’s case, I suppose it’s a wow-factor, albeit a lame one.  Yeah, it’s thick, yippee.  And if it’s always going to be thick, why not always flip it?  Or why ever do it?  What does giving it away for free have anything to do with anything?

When I stand back and look at it, I find it weird that a company has to reward a customer for an employee not doing a particular action.  Granted, there are some examples like “if you don’t get a receipt”, which only exposes the fact that the business hires thieves.  But how about, “if we don’t tell you about our drink specials” or “if we don’t ask you to order an appetizer”?  Your meal will be free if we don’t annoy you?

Maybe this has contributed to the rise in online ordering and take-out orders.

Vaultz CD Storage

There is this person at work who randomly offers things to people in my team.  One person got some comics, another got something else.  I’d been offered some things and never accepted.  But, when I was offered CD cases, I accepted.  I like CDs and I like storage.

What I got were two Vaultz CD storage cases.  These things are pretty sweet.  Because I’m shallow as hell, I immediately went online to see what these things cost.  $65 each!  That’s a pretty generous gift.  But because of their quality and the fact I couldn’t find any reviews of these cases elsewhere, I figured I could devote a post to them.  I need to use that “reviews” tag.

WP_20171023_13_14_13_ProWhen I came back from my break, one of these cases was sitting on my desk.  It was bigger than I imagined it would be and much more sturdy-looking, too.  The gifter was there and I told her I would take the other case as well.  I went with her to her car and pulled it from the back seat.  Second impression: these things are heavy.  I could sense the wall materials were pretty thick.  There was no give on any of the walls.

Sitting on my desk at work, the cases were very imposing.  One thing I tried was to orient them horizontally.  This didn’t work for two reasons.  The drawers are not square so they can’t be rotated and the case bottoms have rubber feet.  So, vertical they remain. 

WP_20171023_18_13_24_ProInside the drawers, there were many, many paper cd sleeves and some alphabetical dividers.  I don’t know if these sleeves and dividers come with the units or if the previous owner purchased them separately.  The drawers are felt-lined, which is a nice touch.  Additionally, each drawer had two solid wood dividers – non-removable.  This gave each drawer extra rigidity.  Unfortunately, the back of the drawer is not higher than the drawer itself, so you are able to pull the whole thing out without any stoppage.  I guess you could attach a small extension to catch the drawer before it is fully pulled out.

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When I got the units home, I emptied out the sleeves and dividers.  Each unit is supposed to hold 60 CDs.  I was able to get 31 CDs in one shelf, so the extra space could be good if you have fatboy double cases in your collection.

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The locks on the units, surprisingly, are the same on both – they have the same key number.  They work just as locks would.  They aren’t heavy duty locks or anything, so don’t expect to be too secure.  Locks are just meant to keep honest people honest.  A thief wouldn’t break or pick the lock, they’d just carry the whole case away.

In summary, quality-wise, these are great cases.  You’re paying a decent bit of money for them, so it’s good to see you get the nice, heavy materials for your money.

Before loading the CDs in the cases, I gathered up all the sleeves and organized them.  The cat was annoyed that the box was not for her.

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Class Action Math

A while ago, I had heard tell of a class action lawsuit where you could get up to $900 if you were a “victim” of the abuse.  What’s the alleged abuse?  Phone calls.  Telemarketing phone calls.  Well, let’s learn a little more about this.  After all, $900 isn’t exactly chump change.

Apparently, some marketing company called a bunch of people representing something about cruise lines and blah blah blah.  They didn’t do something right and now they are getting sued.  So, for each call the company made to you, you could get up to $300, maxed out at $900 for three calls.  Well, this abuse happened years ago, so how would I even know?

Conveniently, the lawyers set up a website where you could search for your phone number and it would tell you if you had been called.  It’s great the marketing company kept call logs because I sure don’t keep track of all the spam calls I get.  Upon visiting the site and utilizing the search, I found out two of my numbers were in the list.  Jackpot!

But, I hate class action lawsuits.  I hate them so much, I’ve actually written a “piss off” letter to one in response.  Let me explain why class action lawsuits suck so much.  I submitted two claims on this one just to gather the information to bitch about this.

I submitted two claims, back to back.  In each case, I got a claim number for my submission.  Safely assuming the claim numbers increased sequentially, I calculated that the number of claims being submitted was 20/minute.  That’s 1200 claims every hour.  My claims were made in August and the cutoff for claims ends in November.  How many claims would get filed?  Too many.  Even taking into consideration that it’s not going to increase 1200 claims every hour (like at 3 in the morning), the point is still valid.

Just like any sweepstakes or lottery, you have to read the rules to determine your chances of winning.  So, let’s look at the pertinent numbers involved in this case.  How much is the payout?  Between $7M and $12.5M.  That will cover 23k to 41k $300 claims.  But wait, there’s fine print.  The lawyers get paid first.  THE LAWYERS GET PAID FIRST.  How much? $4.1M plus expenses plus an extra $500k.  How much are expenses?  No one knows, but it will be five years of expenses by a law firm – you make a guess.  Anyway, now we’re at a maximum of about $2.8M to $8.4M with the numbers we do know.  That will cover 10k to 28k $300 claims.

The number of claims at the time I submitted was growing by 1200/hour.  The money to pay those claims will be exhausted in under 24 hours.  Do you get it?  Four months available to file a claim and the funds will run out in a day.  So what happens then?  Well, everybody gets less money, except the lawyers. EXCEPT THE LAWYERS.

An update was recently posted on the claim site and all claimants were sent an email with the update.  As of October, with a month left to file a claim, over 2M claims have been submitted.  Do I have to do the math?  With a payout fund of $2.8M to $8.4M, that equates to $1.40 to $4.20 per call.  Not $300; less than $5.  And there’s still a month left for more claims.

So, the law firm is getting $4,100,000, plus expenses for five years of effort in this lawsuit and each person wronged gets a few bucks.  I think I’ve made my case.

Authenticated

Whenever you go to an local art or music exhibition, there is a greater than normal chance you are going to be faced with disappointment.  Further, you may be slightly offended that such works of art are foisted upon the unsuspecting public.  And they have the audacity to proclaim themselves as art!  Whenever you encounter one of these events where you must provide your feedback and insight into the quality of the presented medium, there is a simple compliment that you can give that softens the blow.  The art/music is authentic.

I am one of those artists that will offend your finer sense of artistic quality (doing it right now!), but you cannot deny the artistic integrity on display.  And here is a point I want to make about how I approach art.  I create ignorant art.  That is, I do it using my own inherent skills and skills I am able to pick up organically.  In other words, I don’t want to be taught – or more accurately, told – how to do art.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year because, you know, I can write, and moreso1 because AK is the great persuader.  What’s the first thing I get in my email when I sign up?  A bunch of help resources.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I’m going to succeed or fail on my own, you just watch.

And the help never seems to stop.  It’s kind of the same thing with music.  There’s a never-ending list of resources for how to do something.  It’s the case for anything creative, really.  Here’s how to be creative.  You know what?  You either have it or you don’t.  If you don’t have it and all you do is follow how-to’s, you are simply a clone of your teachers.

I’m not saying there’s no room to learn and grow.  I’m saying you can’t be taught how to be creative.  I know that no one can teach me how to have an eye for visual design.  It’s not an ingrained skill for me.  I could have sworn I’d written on this topic before, but I can’t find it.  My memory is a post about how my music compositional style is unique and that uniqueness owes itself to not being formally trained.  The memory also made a point that many musical icons had no training and became genre-defining because they broke the norm.

So, in that spirit, I am beginning a novel with only a plot concept and a couple of characters.  I have no idea how it’s going to end and what will happen between the beginning and end.  At a minimum, I expect it will cause me a lot of trouble with pacing, since I don’t know what will happen and when.  It would suck to unexpectedly get to the end of the story at 20k words.

But, as bad as it may potentially turn out, I can say that my work is authentic.  It will have no influence from “better, more knowledgeable” people whose writing credits are filled with how-to articles.


  1. Moreso: from http://grammarist.com/usage/moreso – “…continues to appear despite the disapproval of usage authorities and of spell check.”  Yeah, fuck you, authorities, and you too, spell check.

Personality Reorder

imageTimes have changed and so have I.  A recent reassessment of myself via personality profile informed me of such.  It was just a very simple personality test, one meant to be simple and easy to administer, but useful enough to apply in a workplace environment.  The test is called Kingdomality and the results of the test will map your personality to a particular role in a self-sufficient medieval village. 

 

I had taken this test back in about 2010 and I’m somewhat surprised I don’t have any past posts that discuss Kingdomality or my results.  I know I have discussed it in another blog, but apparently, not here.  So then, why not now?

imageIn my earlier results, I was classified as a “discoverer”.  This was the person in the village that would leave and go in search of great things and bring them back to the village for everyone’s use.  And that’s pretty much what I did in my work life.  I would find new technologies and techniques and present them to everyone, then I’d be off again.  It sounds like every team would want one of these people, but you also have to understand that discoverers are hard to pin down and may have trouble focusing on current tasks because they would much rather be exploring.  And that’s pretty much what I did.

imageIn my most recent test, my result was a “dreamer-minstrel”.  I think their role is to encourage and cheer everyone up, like a wandering minstrel.  I never really thought of myself as encouraging at work.  I’ve been pretty cynical for quite a while and have a slightly bleak outlook on the company’s future.

In the time between tests, the world changed.  For one, I grew very weary of the rate of change in the software development world.  Because of that, there was nothing I felt like discovering any more.  If I did discover something, would it still be around in six months?  Secondly, at my job, things are pretty stable.  There isn’t a pressing need to get with the latest technology.  That need was there when I first got hired, but we’re pretty good now.

Over the weekend, it finally dawned on me why my results changed.  It’s my relationship.  When I first took the test, I was single (well, almost divorced) and was plowing all my effort into my career.  This time around, I’ve been in an excellent relationship for many years.  And one of my primary functions in that relationship is cheerleader.  The GF had made a deprecating remark on something and I immediately reframed the issue for her in a positive light.  I should have noticed that behavior earlier because I do it somewhat frequently.

I’m not going to say I’m always good at it (“God damn it!  Things are not that bad!”) nor will I say I do it for everyone (“Excuse me miss, I overheard your comment and I wanted to say that I think your hair looks great.”).  There are very few people in my inner circle, which has the benefit of not exhausting me from being supportive. 

Trying to extend that into the workplace means that I try to understand the positive reasons for the crazy business decisions we have been making as of late.  And even if I don’t understand or agree with them, I need to try and promote them as good for all of us.  Is it lying?  No, it’s just focusing on the positive.  That wall of water approaching?  Well, it’s been pretty hot lately and it will cool us off.

Halloween Scenes – Peep Show

Larry the Rat was just finishing up his dinner when he heard a knock on the front door of his home.  Who would be visiting him now?  Maybe it was a package.  But it was late for package delivery.  Larry was suspicious.

He’d only moved into this house recently.  It was a long move from his hometown, but sometimes long moves are needed.  Long moves can be good.  A new start, right?  He didn’t want to be called Larry the Rat anymore.  Just Larry would be fine.  And when he started making some new friends, that’s who he would be.  Just Larry.

When Larry was back in his hometown, he had what a lot of people would consider a thankless job.  It wasn’t a good job or a bad job, and by that I mean, he didn’t work specifically for the good guys or the bad guys.  He worked for both.  He was a rat.  Larry the Rat worked his way up the chain.  You wouldn’t think a rat could get away with the same trick twice, but the good guys did enough to keep the bad guys guessing and Larry was never the one to blame.

But, Larry the Rat didn’t feel he was compensated well enough for the amount of risk he was taking.  He was in the system pretty deep.  Both systems, in fact.  Larry had a special gift for living two lives.  And this last summer, he determined he was going to live one life for the rest of his life.  No more helping anyone.  A free agent with a clean record.  The good guys told him it was a smart career move and provided some excellent record cleaning assistance.

As you would expect for a professional like Larry, he told no one where he was going.  Not the good guys, and certainly not the bad guys.  He bought a typical house on a typical street in a typical neighborhood in Nowhereville.  The perfect place to ditch his rat surname.

But the preparations didn’t end there.  He built a panic room in his new house – completely impenetrable.  And although it wasn’t obvious from the outside, all the windows of the house were reinforced.  It would take a very large-caliber rifle to blast through on a first shot.  Any other attack would require multiple shots, which no one would risk that kind of exposure in a neighborhood like this one.  At the sound of the first gunshot, Larry would be squirreled away in his panic room, calling the good guys for a quick favor.

Not only the house windows, but the doors were completely reinforced, too.  No shooting through them, no way.  He’d also seen enough drug raids to know how battering rams worked and what was effective in slowing them down.  Again, just more time to get to the panic room.

Tonight, the massively-reinforced front door was being knocked upon.  And Larry the Rat was suspicious about that.

Walking silently, out of the view of the reinforced windows, he came up to the front door.  Larry listened closely for any indication of who it could be, friend or foe.  The heavy door gave no clues who was on the other side.  Larry looked through the security peephole in the door.  It was black.  Larry saw nothing.

The knock came again and Larry started, jumping in place.  “Damn it.” he cursed himself.  Did he make any noise?  If he did, should he just man up and ask who’s there?  Should he turn on the outside light so he could see who was out there first?  Either one would expose his location.  Larry looked back to where the panic room was.  How many windows were between the front door and the panic room?

Larry calmed his mind for a moment.  What a crazy vision.  The whole mafia lined up at each window, blasting away fruitlessly at the thick glass while he dashed down the hall.  His house was more secure than most any bank.  He had time to live.

His calm was immediately broken by a sheet of paper slid partially under the door.  He pulled it through.  Legal-sized paper?  The paper had an advertisement on it.  In big, bold letters at the top: PEST REMOVAL.  The logo was an upside-down rat in a cage.  Larry dropped the paper without seeing anything else.  He didn’t want to see.  But curiosity got the better of him.

Larry moved back to the peephole.  Still black.

Without warning, although the delivered flyer should have been sufficient warning, Larry’s eye was pierced.  A long, thin, metal rod fired through the peephole, into his eye and with enough force to spear his brain and exit dramatically through the back of his head.  Larry’s shock denied him a scream of acknowledgement that his assailant had hit his mark.

The man outside was quite aware of his success as he watched his end of the rod shudder and then incline as the section inside the house was pulled down from an unseen weight – the weight of Larry the exterminated rat.

Inside, Larry was trying to bargain his way out of his imminent death.  “Next time, reinforced peep hole.  No, external cameras.  Yeah.  With night vision.  And maybe… maybe… hmmm.”

Halloween Scenes – Lesson Of A Lifetime

Another workday for Randy.  He gathered up his racks of snacks and drinks and cheerily set out on his daily route.  He did love his job.  He loved meeting all the people, people busy doing their own jobs.  And he was glad he could provide them with a little daily happiness.  Maybe the happiness was coming from his cans of Coke and Pepsi and bags of Doritos, but Randy liked to think they enjoyed his friendly banter each day.

“Having fun yet?” Randy queried the first person he met in the office.

“Every day,” the random person replied.  Randy didn’t need to know the details.  He just wanted to show he cared enough to ask.  Another person was up ahead.  Randy prepared his next witticism.

“Working hard?”

“Hardly working, Randy.” Aw, that guy got him good.  It’s almost like he was ready for it.  Randy chuckled to himself and entered the break room where his machines were.  Without any care, he replenished each machine in turn.  He did this every day, the process was quite routine for him.  He liked filling the machines, but the machines didn’t have that same interactive quality he got from people.

Randy reloaded his truck and went on to the next stop.  Another office building – he liked the people there.  “Hey, working hard?”  “Having fun yet?”  And more machines.  More change in his large canvas bag.  Boy, the banks were annoyed when Randy showed up.  He was either asking for a bunch of change or was giving them a bunch of change.  Always such a hassle.  “Working hard?”  Absolutely, Randy.  You make us work very hard.

Heading home from another productive day, Randy found himself in a bad situation on the interstate.  A semi truck had swerved to avoid a reckless car cutting in front of it.  The semi weaved back and forth, then began to topple over, right onto Randy’s truck.  The accident was over in a flash.

The next morning, Randy woke up in his bed, ready for work.  It was another workday for Randy.  He had people to meet and machines to fill.  He arrived at his first stop on his route and went to the break room.  A man was sitting in the corner at a small round table.

“Hey!  Having fun yet?”  Randy announced his arrival to the man.  No response.  Oh well, Randy thought, not everyone is as happy at their job as me.  He went to the machines, but they weren’t his.  Well, they looked just like his, but his key didn’t work.  He looked them over and determined they seemed stocked well enough for another day.  He’d bring backup keys tomorrow.

Randy went to the next office on his route and engaged the first person in the hall he saw. “Working hard?”  Again, no response.  Geez, must be a Monday, thought Randy as he continued on.  But just like the last place, his keys wouldn’t turn in the machines’ locks.  Randy thought something was very strange about all this.  Had he been replaced?  Was there another Randy on his route, filling his machines and cheering up all the workers?

Randy ventured out of the break room and into the office halls.  Everyone he met had no response for his witty queries.  “Having fun yet?”  “Working hard?”  “Having fun yet?”  All met with silence.  Most just kept right on walking.  Was this a prank?  A conspiracy?  Randy got more agitated with the workers.  “Working hard?”  “Hey!  Working HARD?”  “Having FUN yet?”

Finally, Randy had enough.  He stood firmly in front of a man walking in the hall, blocking his path. Pointing accusingly, he demanded, “You!  Having fun yet?”  The man paid him no mind and walked right through Randy.  Randy’s eyes grew wide.  His memory slowly began filling in.  The drive home on the highway.  The truck.  Then waking up in his bed again.  The reality dawning on him brought a sadness.  The thought crystallized that this was all he knew in life and he had taken it to the afterlife.  It was his afterlife, forever.

Randy woke up the next morning in his bed.  He wasn’t excited to do his route today.  He grudgingly arrived at his first stop and trudged his way to the break room.  “Having fun yet?”  “Working hard?”  No response.  Randy was learning a thing or two about working hard and having fun yet.  And his lesson would go on and on.

Halloween Scenes – Desiccation

Terrence was having a pretty good day. Today was sunny and bright, but not uncomfortably hot. He moved along slowly in the grassy park. After all, he was not really in a hurry. After all, he was a slug.

But a slug still had things to do and places to be. Terrence was no different in that regard. He knew where he was going: to the other side of the park, where he knew he could have a great meal. Slugs aren’t too particular about where they eat, unlike some people who demand that everything be organic. Organic is everything in a slug’s life. Terrence didn’t know there was such a thing otherwise and didn’t even know anything about people to know otherwise either.

Terrence arrived at the edge of the flat-park. Sometimes, the flat-park was very hot and he would have a difficult time crossing it to get to the grass on the other side. Sometimes it was cool, which was nice. He’d even crossed the flat-park once when it was wet. Not wet like his track – smoother, softer. That was the best. He liked wet a lot. Today his body told him the flat-park was warm and dry. Not the best, but not really bad, either. He made his way, post-haste. But for a slug, post-haste is… I’m sure you understand.

His senses told him he was more than halfway across the flat-park, almost there to the grass. But then, the hail started. Terrence’s day was suddenly not as good. He didn’t detect there would be any bad weather soon. And he could still feel the sun, so Terrence was mightily confused. But the hail kept on falling.

This was no usual hail. This hail stuck to him, instead of bouncing off. And it burned. It burned badly. Terrence wrapped himself around, trying to wipe off the hail stuck to his body. His efforts were only partially effective. Where the hail had landed, it still hurt. The mysterious hail had sucked the life out of him, it seemed.

As the hail continued to fall, Terrence was torn between trying to make it to the grass – and hopefully safety – or to fight out here in the open to clean his sluggy body. His pitiful brain became overwhelmed with the fight or flight decision and his body started thrashing around on its own. Terrence was becoming scared. If this hail kept falling, he wouldn’t get to the other side and he wouldn’t be having the meal he had been looking forward to.

But the hail did keep falling and falling. Terrence’s body was becoming covered in the white flecks of hail, and it hurt so very much. He felt himself getting tighter, losing his sluggish mobility. His thrashing slowed down and Terrence grew tired as the burning covered his entire body. His senses were useless to tell him anything other than he was stuck. He could no longer move.

As Terrence felt the weight of more and more hail on his body, and the pain screaming over his entire paralyzed length, he wondered if there was a god. Slugs don’t pray for success or pray to be saved, but Terrence, in his final moments before he expired, attempted a simple communication with whatever power was above him, raining death down on him on this wonderful day. “Why?”

A small, round-faced lad hovered over the scene on the sidewalk, his tight, curly, red hair framing his face like a simmering fire. The lad grinned as he sprinkled Terrence’s doom upon him. The young boy could never had heard a slug ask him for his motivation, but with improbable and impeccable timing, he chuckled and said, “Salt life, bitch.”