Thursday, February 07, 2002


I guess I finally made it into valley lore today, to judge from the way the story I'm about to relate spread around town.

My evening visitors from yesterday were still very much on my mind and even followed me into my dreams, which featured a severe Secular Johnson problem in the form of some deadly piece of system-destroying e-mail that had allegedly originated with us and was now on its way to wreaking worldwide havoc and everyone in the world was calling for our heads even though nobody knew who we were. The dream went on and on and into the morning and I woke up in a most unusual state of mind that I carried with me into my morning ablutions.

Just before I'd gone to bed last night, I had taken my worried father's advice and propped a kitchen chair under my front door's knob to prevent unwanted intrusion, as the lock on said door has not been working properly for several months. I checked before I went to shower to see that it was still there, and remember puzzling over how that was supposed to work, anyway as I went about my business.

Just as I had a head full of shampoo, I heard an ominous sound. BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM.

Groggy, annoyed, vulnerable and still lingeringly angry from last night's visit, I immediately screamed in rage at the sound (thus trashing once again a throat still only barely capable of making speech-like sounds) but sensibly continued to wash. Whoever was at the door, it can't have been one of my friends who all know better than to bug me at home on a workday morning, that was for certain - and for anyone else, well that's what the notepad on the door is for.


Cranky, irritated, wet and now a little tripped out – must be those "Census" ladies come to pick on me again, I remember thinking – I leaned out my bathroom door and screamed out rudely that I was in the shower and could whoever it was please buzz off (except I used a term other than "buzz").


So... however it is the chair under the doorknob is supposed to work, I have not mastered it. Someone had gotten inside!!!

I jumped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around me, and quickly cased the bathroom for something, anything with which to defend myself. All there was, was a toilet plunger.

A toilet plunger.

A toilet plunger! With a viscously chewed-up handle, looks like the devil's own Doberman has been gnawing on it, the wood a mass of splinters and slivers waiting to happen. Just the thing some random jackass would not want shoved up his fundament.

Howling obscenities I came hurtling out of the bathroom, ready to turn that toilet plunger into a weapon the Geneva convention surely would ban.

I came very near to using it, too, because it's been a long time since I've seen my father's friend, the Bard of Booger County himself, who was calmly getting ready to set to work on fixing my doorknob.

"Hi sweetie, your dad just asked me to drop by," he said as though a screaming wet redhead howling for his blood and inches from murder were a commonplace in his world.

I finally recognized him and regained my composure and told him to carry on. Actually, I wasn't nearly that calm. I was still cursing and wet and waving my weapon around.

"Go finish your shower, it's all right."

("Away put your weapon, I mean you no harm" Yoda said when Luke Skywalker first menaced him. Star Wars moments occur to me at the weirdest times)

Nonplused, but vowing to have a little chat with my father about giving a girl a little warning before sending early morning visitors her way the very day after she has her very own X-Files incident, I put down the plunger and finished my shower, dressed and sat down to check my e-mail before work.

My dad's friend had already tried three times to fix the doorknob with disappointing results.

It was his turn to cuss.

But I'm the one who's now famous for it.

C'est la guerre...

Oh, and to follow up: Nobody, not our mayor, not our police force, not any of my coffee buddies, NO ONE had any kind of encounter with any kind of "Census" ladies of any stripe last night, nor, apparently, was there any trace of them today.

Thank goodness I have a witness.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002


OK, guys, it's late, I'm still very sick, and now I'm grouchy and completely pissed off, so I can tell you right now this is not going to be up to even my very uneven standards. But something happened tonight that disturbs me greatly, and disturbs me more the more I think about it.

You see, I had a very weird and suspicious visit a few hours ago that's left me feeling thoroughly goosed and even a little bit scared. I thought I'd share it with you all, if for no other reason than to prepare you if you, too, have been selected for the kind of special attention which I received tonight!

It was about 7:30 p.m. I was thoroughly flaked out, watching a movie with a friend and almost asleep (still trying to get over many varieties of crud, and just for the record no, I don't know for sure if it's mono but thank you all very much for your concern!) when there came a surprising pounding on my chamber door.

Since over the last few days I've had many kind visitors, including my own dear personal parents delivering tomato soup and movies for me to watch, I assumed it was another one of these. We paused the movie and I tried my best to sort myself and not look like I'd just been dozing because that is very discomposing even when it's just a pal who's stopping by.

It was no pal of mine, to be certain.

What it was was two strange women (strange in that they are unknown to me and people I've never seen before, not, necessarily, strange as in "weird" though perhaps that remains to be seen) flashing fancy looking IDs claiming to be from the Census Bureau and trying to push their way into my apartment for "30 minutes of my time."

In 2002?

"You received our letter in the mail, miss."

"Um, no I didn't, and the census was two years ago."

The women handed me a photocopied letter purportedly FROM THE ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. CENSUS BUREAU that read, in part, as follows:

"The Census Bureau is taking a survey in your community. Decisions about child care, jobs, health care and more will be based on the answers.

The American Community Survey is not a census of all Americans. That census is taken every ten years. This survey will provide local and national leaders with more timely information between censuses. Because your address has been specifically chosen for this survey, your replay is very important to us."

The letter goes on to remind me that my response is required by Federal law and so on, to assure me that my privacy will be protected, blah blah blah boogeda boogeda boogeda.

Nonetheless, I sent these ladies packing, finally having to get quite rude to do so. But that's not all, of course (when is it ever all with me?)

I did some checking later this evening, and while there is such a thing as the American Community Survey, nothing on the Census Bureau's website says anything about one being conducted this year, except HERE where appears a list of communities being in some way looked at between 1999 and 2002. Note that there is nothing indicated for anywhere in Wyoming.

So far it's only slightly fishy and creepy. But of course, if you're me, it gets worse.

As most of my readers know, I am a local leader, duly elected to the Saratoga Town Council. If this survey is being conducted in part, therefore, to provide me with more timely information between censuses, wouldn't logic and common sense dictate that I would have been previously informed that it was going on in the community for which I am responsible?

Furthermore, I am something of a news junkie. As frequent readers of these screeds of mine know, I have a pretty heavy and varied media diet of local, regional and national newspapers, political and cultural magazines, foreign periodicals, and the Weekly World News. Not to mention that the entertainment of choice at my morning coffee klatsch (aside from the antics of two shaggy brown boys named Gunnar and Whiskey) is CNN Headline news.

Surely I am not the only one to be somewhat skeptical that I've managed to completely miss the news that this survey was being conducted somewhere at least?

Even if it is "legitimate," however, it still strikes me as freaky. As I told my parents, whom I called a little while after the visit, I don't know which creeps me out more, the thought that it was real census people harassing me, or that it was something else.

Full disclosure time: When it comes to the Federal government, I am suspicious as hell just as a matter of principle. And I am very vocal about this, and take pride in being regarded as something of a rabble rouser on the subject of the rights and duties we enjoy as citizens.

When I got the Census Bureau's loooooooooooooong form two years or so ago, therefore, I threw it away. And when Census employees came to visit me to follow up, I gave them only the short form information: my address, which they already knew, how many people lived here (just lil' ol me), period.

Of course I was a little suspicious, then, when two strangers showed up unannounced wanting to take 30 minutes of my time because "my address has been specifically chosen for this survey."

Maybe it's just paranoia on my part, but I don't care. I don't appreciate being disturbed this way, don't appreciate this kind of prying from anybody, and I won't stand for it, and neither should you.

And besides – what if they aren't with the Census, something that still seems to me very likely given the fact that their coming to me, of all people, was such a surprise.

They really wanted to come inside, and got more pushy and hostile by the minute when I kept them standing out in the cold and told them that all they needed to know was that I was one person, living here. I repeated to them several times that this was the only information they were going to receive, the only information that the Constitution allows them to demand (and that only when the actual Census is being conducted) and they got more unpleasant until finally I just came out and told them to please leave.

Then, on the urging of my retired cop father, I called the police on them, gave full descriptions, etc. The dispatcher to whom I spoke was equally surprised at the thought of the Census Bureau conducting any kind of survey in Saratoga.

So, I think this is deeply, deeply bogus. These people are up to something, and it smells. At least that's the way it looks right now.

Just remember – you don't have to tell anybody anything. Even if you're arrested for something: you have the right to remain silent.


I still can't sleep, and in my continued pique I ran a Google search on "Census" and "sucks" and found a page for someone who may be my new hero. Check out a man who burnt his Census looooooong form on the steps of the Missouri State Supreme Court. Check it out RIGHT HERE

Monday, February 04, 2002


Oh my, I just got another lesson in paying attention to what I say and to whom I say it.

As frequently happens (it's so common I'm sure I don't even have to describe the setting to you, but I'll do so anyway, just to keep in practice) I was sitting around my apartment with a buddy of mine arguing about the finer points of the classic Gnostic poem "The Thunder: Perfect Mind" when I found myself in a most uncomfortable situation – and one that had nothing to do with doctrine or the inherently contradictory message of a line of scripture that declares "I am the saint and the prostitute."

I felt like I was choking. Gagging, actually, and on my tonsils of all things, the last gasp of the bug that wouldn't die.

Distressed, annoyed, sick of taking antibiotics and generally pissed off at the situation, I made some offhand remark to my friend about how great it would be to just be able to rip out said tonsils and never be bothered with them again.

Quite forgetting that said friend has a certain background.

"Sure," he said as I finished delivering my eloquent complaint. "When do you want to do it?"

"Oh, I'd better wait until my health insurance kicks in, don't you think?"

"No, I can take care of it. I've got a pocket knife."


"Ha ha, very funny, but I think that might hurt a bit. I'll wait until I've had general anaesthesia, thanks."

"No, really. I've got some. It works for horses, cows, pretty much any large animal. It'll zone you right out so you won't even care!"

This delivered with a level of enthusiasm that I'll go ahead and characterize as scary.

He then told me a short but amusing tale of how once upon a time he was accidentally dosed with some of this anaesthetic - a horse kicked, a syringe got mis-aimed and he was sent on a surprise trip to la-la land... but all I could focus upon was the eager gleam in his eyes, the opacity of his gaze, the overall earnestness with which he made the offer.

I'm still not entirely sure that he was kidding.

I bet this never happens to my friends in Chicago.