Bill Horne's Blog

Copyright © 2015 E. William Horne. All Rights Reserved.
What do they want, Superman?

The hardest part of looking for a job is seeing jobs that I've applied for posted again and again. It's as if they never got my application.

I'm able to do them. I just don't get why I never get an answer. I'm not too old: hell, I do things everyday which are twice as complicated as what I've applied for.

The Internet is a two-edged sword. Everyone can look up my address and find out my age, and I can look at evaluations of a company and find out if they're losers.

It just seems that I'm always winding up holding the sharp end of that sword.


She told me that she had to clean the oven, and so we were having pot stickers for supper. There was a bag of pizza dough on the counter earlier, and I was looking forward to it. Truth be told, I was enjoying the anticipation, a lot.

I set up my laptop to turn on the VPN, and called up netflix so that I could bypass Verizon's blocking and watch a movie. The problem was that she wanted to watch a show called "Frida", which was about some teenager who gets crippled in a bus accident, and I wasn't in the mood. I had fallen down in my driveway, on the ice that wouldn't have been there if my son had shoveled it, and I couldn't find a comfortable way to sit, so I let her watch it and I went off to do something else.

There was a problem with her computer, so I went and fixed that: the boot partition was filled up with old versions, and I found a command sequence online that deleted all but the current one. The partition went from 256 MB to 23 MB, and I told her she could click "Yes" when it asked her to update.

About a half-hour after the pot stickers, she said she would have something else to eat, and I ordered her to watch the movie and said I'd take care of it. I went back to her computer and fiddled around for a few minutes, since I had already ordered a pizza from Domino's, and she had provided me the perfect cover.

The pizza guy knocked about ten minutes later, which called for an excuse: I told her that I had asked them if they had any undeliverable pizzas, and that the one we got was a fortunate accident. She asked how much of a discount we got, and I said "About half", surprised that she had asked and that I hadn't thought to have an answer ready.

She thanked me, and we enjoyed the pizza.

Ice Dams

She told me, as I was stumbling toward the bathroom, that there were leaks all over, and that Zack was outside working on the roof. There was a frying pan in my bedroom, and the trash baskets had been pressed into service in the dining room and the kitchen. The family room, which is the only one I dare to heat to 65 degrees, was OK.

Zack was standing on - well, mostly in - a pile of snow that's on top of the cellar bulkhead, using the rake to clean the eaves. She told me that she had promised to pay him, and he did a good job, so when I was dressed, I wandered in while he was shaking out, and told her to pay him and extra two dollars, which he laughed at and she didn't.

I told Zack not to get too comfortable, and I explained that we had to go back and break out the ice dams, that he had to do it at arm's length so that the water wouldn't splash all over him the way it did with me when I used to do it. I explained that Tyvek on the bottom three feet of the roof was probably holding the water in, but that the dams had allowed it to raise to the level where it could creep over the top. It occurs to me that I could calculate the depth of the dams, and how much water they are holding, and the weight of it all. I'm good at that kind of stuff, if I dod say so myself.


I started out, going through the usual morning routine, and I logged on to the Telecom Digeset server at M.I.T. and checked if there were any posts. When I saw that the inbox was empty, for the second day in a row, I starting searching for something noteworthy to report. There wasn't much, but I did get four posts worth of content, and I sent them out, so they will be in tomorrow's digest.

I listened to John Hockenberry's show on NPR, and even left a one-liner on the recording when he asked: a joke about how I used to love the dry snap of winter air. The program ended, and my wife called me from the kitchen, demanding I come wash dishes, but when I got out there there was only the one pot I had used to bake bread, and it was filled with water because I had used it as a basin to wash other dishes, and she was telling me how the pots and pans never get washed. I turned around and walked away.

I realized that I still have to get a new battery for the emergency light, which we had used when trying to get ice dams off the roof and which we had found out would die after five minutes or less. I shopped on the company web site, but they wanted over fifty bucks, so I took my brother's advice and went to Amazon and got one for about twenty-seven. I remebered, while I was there, that I need to buy a bread knife, since the new bread has a thick crust. I got one of the Henkels knives that my wife likes, and then I bought a spare battery for the six-volt hand lanterns, and two bulbs, since one of the lanterns needs it. I gave in to temptation and bought an emergency, hand-crank flashlight that supposedly never needs batteries and has a seat-belt cutter built in. Then, I remembered that I have wanted a smaller measuring cup, so I bought that and a set of color coded measuring cups, and got a pleasant surprise when I found out that almost three-quarters of the total was covered by points on the Amazon credit card.

I rousted out Zack and pointed him to the roof rake and the shovel. Then I called three places that can fix my snowblower, but the best turnaround I heard was two weeks - "If it's only a belt" - so I started looking on Amazon for snowblowers, but there are no bargain to be had, and I guess I'll be out there along with the youngsters, shoveling away.

The drug store keeps calling me from the auto-nag machine, telling me my prescriptions are ready. I already knew that, but it doesn't cost them anything to annoy me and waste my time. I have plenty of pills left and could go another three days if I had to. I'll wait until the driveway is clear.

A New Recipe

I saw a youtube video about baking bread without having to knead it. They said the oven had to be at 500 degrees, which seemed high to me. Still, the recipe is simple, and I decided to try it, being snowed in and wanting something to do.

I set the pot on my dresser, where it's warmer than the kitchen: we've had ice dams, and I'm keeping the house at 55 to prevent leaks. Well, to help prevent leaks, anyway. The idea is to leave it for at least 12 hours, and then cook it fast, and I figured that it wouldn't rise if it was at the same temperature as the inside of the fridge.

I watched some of the "Sunday Morning" program, and when it was over I fell asleep, sitting in the chair, when I thought I would just tilt my head back for a second. I woke up around 12:30, and then I just dozed there, enjoying the warmth: the TV is in our family room, which I can run up to 65 without risking leaks, since it's a separate heat zone and well insulated.

I got up at 1:15, and went and knocked on my son's door and asked him to start shoveling, and I told him that it was going to be a lot colder later on and that he would lose the light if he waited too long. He was ticked off at that, and told me that he was going to do it and asked me if I thought he would forget. I was walking away, but I spat "Yes!" over my shoulder, and then I sat down in the warmth again, mentally rehersing the speech I wanted to give him about how he'd better start counting his blessings and stop giving me attitude.

He came in a few minutes later, gloves and coat and fur hat, and told me that I didn't have to be going after him like that, and told me he was going right then. I felt like I had to say something.

I told him how, when he was older, he would realize that when someone gets hurt the way I had been, they get into the faces of evryone aorund them, giving orders so that they can feel like they're not hurt after all. I told him that when someone has a bad habit like procrastination, they don't like to see it in others, and I told him that I appreciate his help even if I'm not as good at showing it as I could be.

He offered to pick me up something from McBurger after he was done. The snowblower had busted a belt, but it will still run except that he has to push it himself. I told him that the repair ship had said it would be three weeks minimum, and that he might want to keep it around if it was still easier than shoveling. I think he appreciated being given the choice.

The bread was stuck to the bottom of the pan when I had pulled it out of the oven this morning, and I set the pot upside-down and left it there to cool. I asked my son to help me get it out, right after we talked about the snowblower, and he just reached in and it came out fine, not even tearing the crust.

I had a peanut-butter sandwich for lunch. The bread was delicious.

Must be the new recipe

Roof Rake

We had a neighbor stop by, asking to borrow the roof rake.

She brought it back, a couple of hours later, and asked if she could talk to Zack.

He agreed that he would do the job, at 10 a.m. today, and she left after I told her I had turned the temperature down to 55 Fahrenheit in my house, to help keep ice dams from forming, and that it was really important to keep all the snow off the roof and that some people on the street had actually climbed up there and shoveled it off.

Then, I told Zack how important it was to get the price clear before he started, and that he'd have to make up his own mind about what his time was worth. I told him that whatever he charged would be the most he would ever get in the future, and that he's right next door and she can come to get him anytime, and also that it cuts both ways, since she could come and get him anytime.

I woke them up at 9:15, and reminded my son of the appointment. I told Zack "You break it, you own it", and he laughted, and picked up the roof rake and went next door. I expected that he would ask too much, so I could act as peacemaker and have him go back with a lower offer. He's over there, raking the roof, so I guess they came to an agreement.

I like to eat steak

It's funny, how my mind works: I went by the kitchen yesterday evening, and my wife had some steaks set out in a pan, marinating. I told her that I was looking forward to eating tonight. And then, I stopped thinking about it.

Later on, she gave me a lecture about helping out in the kitchen, and I gave her some words about how our son is living here for free and eating our food for free and how he should be expected to help out too. I mentioned the checks I had written, the piece of paper I had in my hand - something about a bill from Blue Cross - when she had walked in, and how sitting down does not mean "lazy".

The steaks were burnt.

I asked my son to help with the dishes and he got mad, saying he does help out around here, and that he can't take this anymore, and I reminded him I had only asked him for help with the dishes he and his friend had eaten off that very night. He was sullen and withdrawn, and he claimed that he already had cleaned the dishes he and his friend had used, even though they were sitting in the sink staring at me.

My son and his friend had left already when I woke up. It had been a terrible night, with my wife waking me up at four a.m. by dumping a neck stretcher onto the bed, and her with it, and I got to listen to her pump the mechanism and then throw it on the floor. The new humidifier did it's job a little too well, and my throat was raw with the damp air.

I got up, and realized my wife had gone out: she had shaken my shoulder at around seven, demanding to know where I had put her old debit card. The bank sent her a new one, because of some breach in some company she had shopped at, but she hasn't turned it on yet, and I had barked "It's in your wallet!" and rolled over.

I went out to cook some breakfast, and I realized that the salad was still in the bowl from last night, so I emptied that and started in on the silverware and the dishes my son had left, and then the rest of the pots and pans.

Cast iron sucks for cooking steak. There was a layer of burnt meat on both frying pans, impossible to get off with anything but a scraper, and I set them to boil with some water in them, in the hopes of making the job easier. I also repaired the back burner on the stove, which had quit in the middle of her cooking last night, and then I cleaned up some more glasses and bowls and whatnot.

I got the frying pans clean, just as she came back with groceries, and she thanked me for working on them, and then criticized me for not drying them off afterwards. I told her "I heard 'Oh, you big strong man, I am overjoyed to have you here and I crave your body'", but she just snorted while I was laughing, and then the leg hit me, not too bad, but I was holding it and still laughing while it passed.

It occurred to me, when I was scraping the frying pans, that I could have shoveled the snow off the grill on the back porch and lit it up for the steaks, which would have spared me the effort of cleaning cast iron.

Cause, and effect. Somehow, I seem to lose the link between them these days.

A Patchy Server

Did you know that the Apache web server got it's name because the Apache designers dubbed it "A Patchy Server"?

I've been working on mine for a couple of hours now, enabling the SSL certificates that I just bought. It's not nearly as easy as I had expected.

The Apache2 server seems to be written so that if I put "https" in front of the domain name of any of my websites, even the ones I haven't bought certificates for, it grabs the first one it finds, even if it's for a different website. That means that someone who tries to access my telecom sites gets a warning about a possible "Man in the Middle Attack", and they're likely to bail and go somewhere else.

I suppose I could create self-signed certificates for those sites, but then visitors get a different warning, and I'm not sure that's a good idea, either. I'll probably do it anyway, just to remind myself how, or maybe pay the nine bucks a certificate costs at Namecheap.

The word "Technician" is overused

I've been scanning various online job boards, and I've found something worth knowing: the word "Technician" is overused.

Just a few examples:

This is the modern-day job search: words morph, meanings change, and every HR weenie is trying to find new ways to make someone want to take short money and long hours. It seems that "Technician" is a higher-status title than "Laborer", so everyone is a "Technician" now.

Gag me with a spoon.

Creaking and groaning

My house and I have something in common this afternoon: we are both making odd noises, creaking and grouning our way through the day.

I took it easy last night, and took a few precautions against ice dams: I turned the thermostats down to 55 degrees F., and went and scraped the snow off the roof in as many places as I could find that hadn't been done yet.

I had a nice dinner of pulled pork and honest-to-god mashed potatoes with the skin still on, just the way I like them. I'm surprised that so little effort returns so tasty a result, but hey, I'm supposed to be Irish.

Come to think of it, we planted potatoes ten or so years ago, late in the season, and when we dug them up, they were only about two inches in diameter. There were, however, really very tasty - what little of them we got. I might try again this year, and maybe even from seeds. We'll see if the snow melts before June.

Anyway, back to the creaks and groans: I worked the roof rake across most of my porch, where the hired man hadn't gotten it, and I put it away, feeling good about myself and like a real Pilgrim farmer. Then, this morning, I woke up with my back in a knot and my feet in cement and my head moving really, really s-l-o-w-l-y.

I have Tylenol #3 to tide me over, and I'm sitting down and writing this and listening to the house drip its load of snow over the side, and the heating pipes ticking, and the clock tocking, and I'm thinking that, so long as I don't move a lot, life is pretty good.

What was that prayer we used to say?

It just popped into my head, while I was stumbling around this morning. We used to say a prayer that went "oh my god, I am heartily sorry for having offended thee", and then a whole bunch of "Kick Me! Kick Me!", or something like that. It's funny what I remember, having been raised Catholic-with-a-capital-C.

It's still snowing. My wife told me that there was a leak in the vent in our bathroom, last night about Nine P.M., and I went and turned the heat back down and asked her to leave it that way. I was tempted to leave the fan on, since I had seen the bare roof where the air blows on it, but I was worried that it would just exacerbate the ice dam, and so I left it off.

I was tempted to ask my son what to do. He got in my face about the shoverling, saying we didn't need to do it again and again like I had told him we did, and I thought that forcing him to realize that these problems don't go away because you ignore them would help to drive home the point that you can't ignore things and procrastinate the way he has been. I decided not to; I didn't want to teach him a lesson I have so much trouble learning myself.

My wife asked where the snow shovels are, and I yelled out "In the back yard", which is where my son left them after the debacle on saturday night. When she demanded to know where again, I yelled "Look out the window!", and went back to writing this.

Catholic-with-a-capital-C. Always comes when called. Always takes it as a sign of God's anger/mercy/munificence/approbation that he/she/it keeps crapping on my table. Once the Jesuits grab you, they never let go.

Huckleberry Finn

I told Zack what the plan was: we would melt the ice off the heat wire which he had thrown onto the roof, and reposition it with the clips that were going to keep it in place. I told him that I had let the day slip by and that we'd have to work by lamplight.

My son came home from work, and I offered him pizza, which I had gotten because Domino's sent me a flyer in the mail telling how they had opened a store in the next town.

I give him credit: he offered to come out and help. He also said I had to stay inside: he hates having me watch him at work. I was tired, and wet, and wondering how I'd gotten into this mess in the first place, so I went inside.

He and Zack hooked the hose up to the hot water heater, which I had turned up to "high" before the pizza arrived, and I found a second spray nozzle that would work a little bit better than the first. He told me it was stupid to work at night on ladders, and I admitted he was right, and told them that the new plan was to melt out the wire and stop there, so that we could rake the roof after the storm.

I was typing another cover letter for another job, and I heard a loud "thud" and realized my son might have just fallen off the roof. He had not: when I got outside, Zack was coiling up the heat wire, and he told me that it had broken, but just the end, and I might be able to fix it. My son called out "Don't tell him about the wire!" from the cellar.

My son told me someone had given a just a little tug on the wire and that the end had come off it. He told me that I had heard the bulkhead slamming shut, and that he was OK. He told me that he had run out of hot water, that the hose was too hot to hold anymore. He told me that we couldn't do anything on the roof until it was warm.

I told him that the roof would leak without the heat wire, and that we needed it, but that we could wait until we get the first warm day and we usually get a few in February, and that I agreed with him that we'd need to do it during daylight.

I told Zack to finish coiling up the wire. He showed me the broken end, with two bare wires sticking out, and I shrugged my shoulders and went back to the job application.

I was talking to the wife this morning, and I told her that I am getting really tired of this Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn act; that I don't expect perfection but that I want to hear the truth, and that even Huckleberry Finn had to grow up sooner or later.


I'll save you the trouble: it means "Bend over, here it comes again".

I'm going to have to put on my boots again, and go shovel again, and risk climbing on a ladder during a snowstorm again. I just got a letter from a guy who is living in Texas, complaining about temperatures in the forties. He said they might get some rain.

We are going to get another winter conga line of low-pressure areas. A long line, dancing right up the coast through Boston and on to the Gulf of Maine, where I fervently wish it had started and stopped without visiting us.

I have a new heat wire on my roof, and Zack moved it last night, but it's just supported by it's own weight and I had hoped I'd have a day of sun to use the clips that came with it. It is supposed to zig-zag across the roof, not just lay on it, but it did the job Thursday night, so I can't complain. (However, I reserve the right to do it anyway!)

There's going to be a half-inch today, and 1 to 2 tonight, and 2 or 3 tomorrow, and 3 or 4 tomorrow night. God, haven't we suffered enough?

Memory Error

I got an email from my old maze-mate. He told me that they've been busy getting the boat ready for sea, and that my old laptop had been nuked before he could get the password file off it.

I invited him to think of me, shoveling, while he's tied up in Puerto Rico.

I had bought an SSL cert for this website. It was just a lark, something I did on the spur of the moment while I was researching least-cost options for the certs we needed at my old job. I found a company that would sell me one for about nine dollars, a single-domain cert for a personal website, and I raised my eyebrow and pulled out my personal credit card. I used to be a Thawte Notary, and I would verify passports and other identity documents for those whom wanted personal certificates for their emails, and they'd pay around $35 for every year they wanted one, so I knew that $9 was a great price, even if it meant that I had to choose between "" and "", one of which wouldn't be covered.

What the hell, I figured, people need to learn how to parse domain names anyway. Better that than having to put up with constant "Man in the middle" warnings every time they accessed a self-signed certificate. Now, I know that self-signed certs are still secure, but Joe Internaut doesn't, and he's often tempted to call someone at 3 AM to tell them about the immediate and extreme threat to the national security.

The certificate authorities used to get two or three hundred for the website certificates, every year. Then, some volunteer organizations started issueing their own certificates, and there was even talk of having their "root" certs put into the major browsers, which would have ended the for-profit certificate industry, and the CA's have dropped their prices way down if you know where to look.

Yesterday, I decided to take a break from filing résumés, and turn on the SSL engine in Apache2. Everything went well until I had to restart Apache2, at which point the logs told me that it was trying to find the password for the SSL "key" file. It hadn't asked me for one, but the logs said that it hadn't gotten the right one, wherever it was getting it.

No problem, I thought to myself, and I started up "openssl" and told it to decrypt the key and spit out one that didn't need the password. It asked me for the password, which used to be in an encrypted file on the laptop I used to use.

I was sure it was there - the operative word being "was". My old maze-mates had nuked the hard drive on the machine. They were supposed to do that. I had walked out on the last night, sick as a dog and sneezing every three seconds, knowing I wouldn't be back, and had left everything behind, even the electric razor that I'd gotten from Freecycle in case I forgot to shave. Even my password file.

We have about four feet of snow on the ground right now, so I've been kind of busy for the past few days. However, after a few hours with the heat wire running on my roof and no water dripping anywhere, I was confident that I wouldn't have to worry about it, and so I slept late this morning and had a good breakfast.

Then, I sat down and filed for unemployment and had a phone interview with a slave trader who's looking for twenty-somethings whom are willing to live in their truck and work for short money while erecting cell-sites. Been there, done that, shoulda bought the t-shirt, and I told the slave trader that I don't climb anymore.

My wife made a nice lunch, and left for work, and I was sitting at my computer, looking at a job opening, and I stopped and said "I wonder...".

I logged into this server again, and tried the same password I had used on the certs I had bought for the job. It worked, first time.

In truth it wasn't that big a deal: I'm not going to starve for lack of nine dollars, but I hate forgetting passwords. At the first coding job I had, they used to make everyone who forgot their password put five bucks in the Jimmy Fund box before they'd reset it, and I'm all for the Jimmy Fund, but five bucks was five bucks, which is why I have a secure password storage file in the first place. I just didn't want to spend the money again.

I need a memory upgrade.

That's Good Enough

Zack and I were working on the heat wire, after the Australian had come and picked up the washer and the range, both broken, both headed to a slag heap for the benefit of an unnamed charity.

I was going to try to use a hose or buckets of hot water to get the ice off the roof. It was already three in the afternoon, so I realized that we didn't have time. I told Zack to lay the wire out in the snow, and we plugged it in to see if it would work, and it worked fine, melting itself into the snow.

Zack got up on the ladder, and I handed him the coils of heat wire, each about three feet across, a dimension I hoped would make it easier to throw over the roof.

I thought I gave clear directions, but the wire wasn't over the roof until the third or fourth try, and we plugged it in and called it a day.

When I looked up inside the kitchen, I could see the wire crossing the skylight, twice, but I shook my head and hoped for the best. The snow had already started when I woke up. So far, no leaks in the roof.


I told the man I hired that we had to get the rest of the snow off of the roof; that there's another storm the day after tomorrow and we'll need to get this done. He told me that he'd gotten about all he could, and that there's a lot of ice up there.

I told him that I had to climb up on the roof to get the rest of the ice off, and he looked at me like I had two heads. "You?" he croaked. "It's got to be done", I answered, and I went and hauled the ladder out of the cellar. He told me that he would try again. He took the roof rake and went around the house.

I went up to the hardware store, and paid $105.63 for an EasyHeat Roof and Gutter deicing kit model ADKS. It's got about 120 feet of electrical cable, which heats up when plugged in to a 120 volt outlet. You've seen these already, zig-zagged across the bottom two or three feet of a roof so that it burns a channel for water to run down and off the roof instead of forming the ice dams which are currently dripping into my saucepans.

My son was waiting in the driveway when I came home. He told me I have to slow this down, that all the intensity is driving him nuts. I told him that I've got to fix the problem. We agreed to wait until the morning, since it was already twilight, and he suggested that we drill a hole in the ceiling where the water is coming out around the light, and put a trashbin under it. I told him to go ahead.

Snow Rake

My son came into the family room, where I was looking through want ads, and told me that the ceiling was dripping out in our dining room. I told him to grab some pans and set them around.

After that, I asked him to rake the snow off the roof. I had told him that the storm was going to drop a lot of sleet and then some snow, and that we'd have to keep the roof clear. I had told him to keep after it, and he had said that he would.

I try to look at the bright side: within a half-hour of having the roof raked, the leak stopped. I told myself that now that he's seen it's a real problem, he'll probably be more careful.

He does have a job. He is paying back the money he owes us every week. I tell myself I can't bitch too much.

I just can't stop expecting more from him. I expected a lot from myself at his age.


At the half-time show during the superbowl, I put down my glasses and went to bed.

I didn't know if New England would win. I didn't care. I was tired, and I didn't feel like I had any interest in it at all.

I couldn't sleep. The bedroom thermonstat hadn't changed to low yet, and I felt hot, and fretful. It wasn't that I was curious about a football game: I was just irritated that I felt like I had no part of it, no interest.

I gave up, and got up, and came back out to sit by the tv: my wife told me who won, and said it had been some kind of photo finish.

I'm still not tired. My wife is watching "Tootsie". Chick flick.

The Spanish Prisoner

They called this morning, asking for my wife. They do that a lot.

I told them that she was tired, that she had worked late, and was still sleeping. I do that a lot.

Someone said "Oh, she worked last night", as if it were a surprise. After that, someone said they'd really appreciate it if she could help them out today.

I told them that I would mention it to her after she woke up.

I did. She's not going in. I told her that was a smart move.

She told me she had to pull over last night, and sleep in her car for an hour, because she knew she wasn't driving well.

They squeeze people; they appeal to every maternal instinct and every iota of training and indoctrination and habit. They lie, and lie, and lie, and lie. They always go home on time, and sip their martinis and tell each other what great bottom-line managers they are.


My son woke me up and asked me to help him.

His car was buried in a snowdrift.

How that happened, I didn't know: he was very angry with his friend who had borrowed it, but details were not forthcoming.

We found the car, run off the road at the end of someone's driveway, and buried at least eight feet into the snowbank the plows had kicked up during the storms.

He and his friend started yelling at each other, and a fistfight ensued. I broke it up.

I called Triple-A, and they said "one hour". I told the young men that it was better to be out working on the problem, and set them to clearing snow from around and under the car.

My son asked me to pull him out; he said it would just take a "little tug". I allowed him to tie a rope between the trailer hitch on his S.U.V., and the liftgate latch on my Odyssey. I spun the wheels a few times, and heard a "pop" as the rope slipped bit, and called a halt. I told them to tie the rope around the axle of my car, but they couldn't see anywhere to do that, so I said we'd wait for Triple-A.

The man who owns the house came home, and found out his driveway was blocked, and set to work shoveling the snow from around my son's car. I rousted the two idlers out of the car and demanded that they help.

After an hour-and-a-half, Triple-A wasn't in sight yet, but with much shoveling and yelling, the car was moved back onto the road. I thanked the homeowner, profusely, and told my son to call off Triple-A, and came home to resume my Saturday.

Now, the question is how to prevent a recurrence.

Cabin Fever

I've been couped up inside since the snow fell on Monday. The closest thing I've had to being in the fresh air was a frigid walk down the driveway to ask my son to bring me back something from McBurger when he went out to eat. By the time he got back, the fries were soggy and the chesseburger lukewarm.

The trash company played me a recorded message after their automated system called my phone, oozing with electronic sympathy and pre-recorded PR, telling me that they wouldn't be here until a day later than the usual.

No matter: I'm out of a job, and therefore have, by definition, time on my hands.

There's something waiting at the edge of my consciousness now: some great insight into the reason why I didn't report the sabotage - why I accepted it as the price of admission to an exclusive club that I wanted very badly to join. I have the tripwire checksums, but no context in which to put them. I have the list of files that were tampered with, but nobody to call and ask for sympathy.

I have this thing at the edge of my world; it's both dark and revealing, but I can't put a face on it yet. I wanted to do the right thing. I knew that it would fail; that the old hands would be believed before anyone would listen to me. I suppose I might yet take my chances, and make an accusation, even knowing that it would come to nothing.

I want the world to make sense for a change: I though it was just hazing; an initiation ritual. I wanted to believe that real men don't do that to each other. I wanted to give up doing everything the hard way, and having to be mister perfect who shows up everyone else.