Category Archives: a peek into the exciting life of splotchy

You’re Not Gonna Die

The commuter train I ride to work has two levels. In the morning I generally ride on the lower level.

A woman in her early 50’s sat next to me today. She is often in the same car as me. Generally she sits up one seat with some friends of hers, where two sets of seats face each other, but her particular spot happened to be already taken.

Still, she was gabbing with her friends on the ride in, if a little more awkwardly. I had started the book Devil In The White City that morning, but got tired of reading, put away my book and just stared at nothing particular.

I was startled by a loud noise. A travel mug from the top section of the train had crashed to the floor next to our seat. As it made contact with the floor, coffee erupted out of it, spraying the woman next to me, and to a lesser extent some other women sitting nearby.

The rest of the ride was tense. Well, not for me — for the women involved. The owner of the travel mug was a woman around the same age as my seat buddy. The mug was handed up to her.

My seat buddy began wiping a napkin over her bleached blond hair repeatedly. She kept on saying, “It fell on my head.” It seemed like she was implying the mug fell on her head, which wasn’t the case. I don’t doubt that some coffee got in her hair, on her clothes, etc. I couldn’t see the degree of coffee damage done from my vantage point, but I imagine it was significant.

She wasn’t incredibly loud or obnoxious about it, but my seat buddy continued to talk about the coffee on her person. My eavesdropping isn’t so good, but I *think* she was talking about how coffee can ruin platinum. Also, she kept on glaring up at the coffee dropper as she was talking.

The coffee dropper, apparently tired of hearing about the droppee’s complaints, leaned down and said, “You’re not gonna die.”

This was fuel to the fire of my seat buddy. She repeated the coffee dropper’s words to her friends. This drew the coffee dropper back to speak again to my seat buddy. My seat buddy said, “You didn’t even say ‘sorry’. You said, ‘You’re not gonna die.'”.

The coffee dropper insisted she *had* said sorry already. I didn’t hear the coffee dropper actually say sorry, but I don’t see how she couldn’t have.

My seat buddy recounted the entire story to the conductor as he handed her the napkins, including the “You’re not gonna die” exchange. As she spoke to him he repeatedly told her to not worry about the floor (she must have been looking down at it intently, I guess) — either it would take care of itself, or he would have it cleaned up.

The conductor looked up and asked, “Was that your coffee?” The coffee dropper said, “Yes.” “Try to be more careful,” he replied. Then my seat buddy informed the conductor that after the accident the coffee dropper had returned her mug to the *same* location it had been when it had fallen down in the first place.

The conductor said that if my seat buddy had any cleaning bills for her coffee-stained clothes, please let him know about it.

I don’t know if the coffee dropper removed her mug from the place where it had previously fallen from, but the mug did not fall again.

My seat buddy continued to glare at her.

Finally, we pulled into Union Station. The coffee dropper slipped out of the train well before my seat buddy and I were able to exit. I presume no fight ensued.

The Dad Flourish

There is such a thing as The Dad Flourish.

The Dad Flourish is important. The Dad Flourish is something that doesn’t necessarily make sense. You could define it as a slightly irrational display of paternal fun and affection.

It can be anything. It can be an object, an impromptu road trip, a weird game made up as you go.

The Dad Flourish is very important, for both the kids and the dad.

I personally witnessed a Dad Flourish when I was a kid. We had two cars when I was growing up. For a while, my dad drove a light blue El Camino pickup. For some reason, he had “Riseman & Sons” painted on the side. My dad worked for the state of Illinois. He did not have a side business, and being 12 and 5, my older brother and I did not work for this non-existent side business.

I don’t think he painted it himself. It was kind of fancy, cursive handwriting. There might have even been a dropshadow. So my dad paid someone to paint a non-existent business sign (referencing his sons!) on the driver side door of his El Camino.


I have a great time with my kids. I have danced with them on many occasions. But, despite that being well and good, that’s not really a Dad Flourish.

So, here is one thing I know for sure *is* one.

There is a Rec Center in the neighboring town. They have an indoor playground I sometimes take the kids to. They also have a gym. It consists of three full-sized courts right next to each other. It’s big, and usually pretty empty.

I like shooting baskets, but the kids aren’t yet strong enough to shoot baskets at the full height of the hoops. Probably as a result of this, they don’t really like playing with the basketballs too much.

So, I got this idea in my head. I take quarters and give them to the kids to throw and chase after. Often I will whip quarters too. If you throw it right you can get a good roll going, making a giant circle on the floor (these are throws close to the ground, not big airborne ones).

We haven’t been asked to stop yet, but as I mentioned before, the gym is usually pretty empty, and, ummmmm, I… keep an eye out for the “authorities”. This whole quarter-throwing business is slightly irresponsible, stupid and wonderful.

Dad Flourish. 🙂

Dead Mice

I am cleaning out the garage.

I took an old plastic Christmas tree spilling out of its box and put it on the floor in the center.

I took a half-constructed cabinet, that never got fully-constructed because it was missing some parts, and laid it down in the center.

I took boxes of old broken kitchen appliances and placed them in the center.

I took a rickety, dirty toddler saucer and put it in the center.

Some water-damaged ceiling tiles. A lawn bag of old yard waste whose bottom fell out when I picked it up. Soiled cardboard.

Tomorrow is garbage day.

On Monday and today I have gone to the garage to get my bike, to ride to the train I take to work.

Monday, outside the garage’s side door, I found a dead mouse. I kicked it aside into some weeds near the garage.

This morning, I saw another mouse. I assume it’s a different mouse, and not the same mouse moved by the ants that were crawling all over it on Monday.

I kicked this second mouse (or first mouse that resumed its former position) where I kicked the other/same mouse before.

Tonight, I take heavy-duty garbage bags and waste stickers, collect the garbage from the center of the garage and dump it all to the back alley.

I’ll wear gloves. I’ll look for dead mice.

Here, a movie Stan Brakhage made about his dog’s corpse decaying.

Part 1

Part 2

Webcams As Cameras, Webcams As Mirrors

So, do the majority of webcams display an image of you as if you are having your picture taken, or do they show you as if you are looking in the mirror?

I have seen people use webcam pics on their websites, as their avatar, etc. Often times when there’s writing in the picture, it’s horizontally flipped. This ANNOYS me.

Despite my annoyance, I’m genuinely unqualified to make a judgment regarding what looks “right” and “wrong”. What’s more natural? To see one’s self as a camera does, or as in a mirror?

Let’s throw out the obvious flipped nature of mirrored text. What is more natural to you? If you spend a fair amount of time talking to others via your webcam, wouldn’t the webcam-as-camera be more natural to them? Do they care either way?

Is a mirrored webcam a tool of the ego? Am I crazy?

This beat-up old Dell laptop I am using has a checkbox by which you can choose to flip the webcam image horizontally. I think it defaults to *not* flipping the image, but I’m not entirely sure. That’s what it was when I first went into its settings.

I have no doubt that most webcams give you control over the mirror/camera nature of the picture.

From what I have seen, Mac laptops display a mirror image by default. Are Mac users more narcissitic? OF COURSE. THEY ARE MAC USERS.

Splotchy learns something in the midst of making this post

I was looking at myself in the webcam and moving around a bit. The webcam was set as a camera, not a mirror. When I went left, my image went right. I went right, my image went left. It was disconcerting! Okay, I can see why people might want to have the webcam be a mirror image. When they are obsessively looking into their own eyes, preening, making kissy-faces, it can be helpful to see the image move the same direction.

Now what you’ve been waiting for, but didn’t know it – a terrible camera filter

I have played around with the preset webcam filters on a Mac laptop. It has some nice effects (stretchy stuff, sepia, comic book, etc.).

When I was playing around with the webcam for this post, I noticed this Dell laptop *also* has some “nice” effects. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least give you one sample. It’s called “ArtyFarty” under the “Fashionista” category. YES, REALLY.

Note, the playing card isn’t part of the filter — that’s me. The sneer is all me. But the beret, luxurious hair and sexy glasses? Filter. ALL filter.

Happy birthday, Internet!

The Water Bottle Story

I was out for a walk last night. It was around 10pm, clear skies, reasonably cool.

I got to the train tracks in the middle of town. I planned to cross the tracks, then continue on for about a two mile walk in a roundabout way back to my house.

A freight train was going by. A man and a woman were on the sidewalk, sitting on their bicycles, also waiting. The man took a final swig from his bottled water. He set it down on the ground next to his foot.

“Is he going to leave the bottle?” I thought. I didn’t see a backpack on him, or a saddlebag on his bike, but he must have had the bottle with him, carrying it around. It would have been heavier before he emptied it of liquid, so I knew he was capable of taking an empty bottle.

Maybe he would stoop down to pick it up before he rode off. I looked at the graffiti on the passing freight cars. Nothing too amazing, a few bubble-letter tags, not even that colorful.

The freight train finally went by and the gates went up. The cyclist put his feet on the pedals, and rode across the tracks. The empty water bottle fell down as he brushed against it. He and the woman turned a corner and were gone.

So now, it’s me and the empty water bottle. What should I do? I picked it up. There was a garbage can by the train station. Maybe there was also a recycling can? I reached the train station and saw there was only a garbage can.

I couldn’t put it in the garbage. It should be recycled! So, I placed it on top of the garbage can. I started back on my walk.

What did I just do? How was I any better than the littering cyclist? I was leaving this bottle as someone else’s problem. Would people realize that by putting the bottle on the garbage can, I was saying to them, “Look. I know this shouldn’t go in the garbage. But I’m done with it. I would put the bottle in a recycling can if I could, but none were available. Please understand I tried my best.”

Noticed that I thought “But I’m done with it.” I have a relationship with the bottle. I never used it. It never helped me carry anything, or quenched my thirst. But now it is mine. I’m responsible for it.

I walked away from the garbage can and the bottle. I thought about the bottle. It probably wouldn’t stay on the can. It would get blown off with the slightest breeze. And then what would people think? “Stupid litterer, throwing his trash all over the ground.” That wasn’t me. It wasn’t. But I kept on walking.

I crossed the tracks, another street, and came to a corner. There was a garbage can there. Improbably, there was also a recycling can. This was right outside a bar. Perhaps that’s why it was there. I stopped. I thought for a few seconds.

I turned back, crossed the street, crossed the tracks, went back and got the bottle, which still stood where I had placed it. I crossed the tracks again, crossed the street and threw the bottle in the recycling can.

“That’s done”, I thought. But what if this bottle doesn’t actually make it to a recycling center? What if it lazily gets tossed in with unrecyclable garbage? What if it’s dropped in a landfill?

I don’t know. I hope the bottle gets to where it needs to be. That’s all I can do.


Taking a break

Hi, I am taking a break.

I am going through a lot of stuff lately. I have been hurt, I have hurt others. Neither one of those facts is nice to contemplate, but I have been thinking constantly about them.

I feel like a compromised person, whatever that means.

I’m doing my best to take care of myself, my family, etc. I’m really trying.

I don’t know how long I’ll be away. Probably long enough that this post won’t seem silly in retrospect (so, not tomorrow).

Anyways, as you can tell, my blog has been sputtering along for quite some time.

Okay. I love you very much. Someday we can all be happy. That’s coming, right?


Dying On The Vine

I have lots of ideas, and lots of these ideas revolve around getting others involved, getting others to participate.

Something in my makeup compels me to try and get other people to play along with me. I have been lovingly called an “attention whore”, and perhaps that’s correct.

I don’t really talk a lot about anyone but myself here. I guess the main purpose of this and my other blogs is to show how incredibly awesome I am.

So, there’s that, but I really do like doing stuff with other people. I like bringing people together.

It’s sad when I have ideas and they just sort of languish, fizzle.

My Who’s In Charge Here? blog is sputtering out, ever so slowly. I still think it’s a wonderful idea. I wish it could maintain its own steam.

I certainly could take blame for its slow death. I could think of ways for it to be more participatory, or express my appreciation for the people that have been voting week after week. But, I haven’t.

I’m lazy, maybe? I don’t know.

I hate having ideas that I like, and they don’t resonate with anyone, or don’t continue resonating.

Ah well.

I’m not asking you to vote on WICH. It’s not something I want you to do. I want people to want to do it.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

My divorce lawyer called me yesterday and asked how things were going.

T__ and I have met with both a child specialist and a financial specialist. The child specialist is tasked with helping us figure out the best arrangement for the kids, maybe give us some advice as to how to help them cope with the divorce, etc. The financial specialist is helping us with our budget, determining who pays who for child support and how much, all that business.

T__ and I are both happy with the two specialists. We’re getting along fine still. The divorce will hopefully continue to go smoothly, and we will hopefully remain friends and be able to raise the kids in a warm and loving environment.

I’m in a pretty good mood these days, actually.

Anyways, after a few minutes, the conversation is coming to a close. The last thing the lawyer says to me before she hangs up is “Happy Valentine’s Day!”



Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!