Saturday, September 27, 2008

Nature is my Internet

I think I may be near death at the moment.

I went to bed around 3:00 AM this morning, only to find myself awake at 5:00 AM and completely unable to sleep. I lay there for two hours before giving up -- I just didn't feel tired.

A bit later I went to Lowe's to buy some vegetation killer for my increasingly ill-conceived front yard rehabilitation project. I spent an hour or so spraying it all over the place and breathing in the delicious fumes.

Afterwards, I found myself sitting on my couch with a pounding headache and a general dislike of everything. I watched TV, played some video games, and made a couple phone calls to try and schedule a meeting, and after four hours of this I thought maybe I could manage some sleep. So I took my body and rested it in a horizontal manner on the top of my bed, closed my eyes, and desperately tried to relax my mind. Eventually I somehow managed to succeed, and slept for a couple hours. I woke up feeling even worse, and realized that I hadn't really eaten anything all day...

Problem is, food seems pointless. I recognize a bodily need for sustenance, but there is no desire within me to consume food. I forced myself to drink some milk in the hopes that it would create a desire for chewable nourishment, but so far no go, and now I'm strangely aware that my stomach is cold. My brain feels sluggish, my eyeballs are clutching wildly at my eye sockets in a hopefully non-futile attempt to stay inside my skull, and I can't quite shake the feeling that life would be better if I didn't have a head.

So I think I've learned a valuable lesson: Don't attack nature. Now, if I don't die, I can put this life lesson to work. From now on, nature is my Internet, and I will love and cherish it, letting it run free and unshackled to express itself in ways both beautiful and ugly, both tragic and joyous, both terrible and sweet. The bad will come with the good, but I will learn to selectively filter it without destroying it, leaving the awful and rank for the white trash living down the street. They seem to like weeds quite a bit, just as some people enjoy the darker corners of the Internet... and who am I to judge?

Resolution: pull up unwanted foliage and plant it in neighbor's yard.

So nature, how about it? Do we have a deal? Can I have my well-being back, please?

Monday, August 25, 2008

In Search of a Better Way

One fine, sunny day, Tommy went walking. As was sometimes the case, he decided to take the scenic route past the county prison. Being frequently beset by a crippling depression due to his lot in life, he would often further punish himself by looking in on that world that he so longed for, but that was so far out of his reach. And on this day, as he passed the majestic bejeweled towers, the blindingly blue lake, and the fabulously manicured grounds of the county prison, his eyes slowly teared up. Yet, it wasn't until he spotted the inmates in the midst of rehearsals for "Oklahoma!" that the tears began to flow. And as Tommy continued walking and the prison grounds were about to disappear behind the cusp of a hill, he caught a glimpse of a few inmates engaged in a magnificent re-imagining of an episode of "My Little Pony". That's when his self-pitying began to change.

As Tommy ran down the hill and back to his home, and as the overzealous soloist's "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" cadenzas slowly faded behind him, Tommy's despondency was morphing and solidifying into a firm resolve to change his life. By the time Tommy returned home, he was determined to get sent to prison.

The next day, preparations began. They would have begun the same day, but he had laundry to do, plus his dad called and he always talked for too long... So preparations began the next day. It wasn't easy to get sent to "the slammer" (oh, how Tommy loved the way those fancy words sounded in his ear!), but it was possible -- those men in orange jumpsuits playing with strange smelling, miniature plastic ponies were proof enough. It would no doubt take some planning and study, but Tommy would find a way. He had to.

In Tommy's society, prison is vastly different from those in our society. While the main purpose remains the same (the containment and "rehabilitation" of those who have committed crimes), the methods, architecture, landscaping, treatment of the inmates, and even the "qualifications for admittance" contrast sharply with what we are used to. In Tommy's society, prison is paradise. It is like an upscale spa, only it is funded by the state and the "clients" rarely go home. Of course, people are often killed in prison, just as they are in upscale spas.

The main problem that Tommy faced was that he wasn't quite sure how one got into prison. He began asking friends and family about it, but the answers were all very similar: "Come to think of it, I'm not really sure... but I sure would like to go there some day. It must be wonderful!"

Interrogatories directed at the judicial system were equally unhelpful. The judges themselves couldn't recall ever sending anyone to prison, but spoke with thinly veiled desire to be confined there -- they, of course, could not condone the thought that prison is wonderful.

Friends, family, teachers, mailmen, cops, hobos, mayors, veterinarians, judges... no one knew! Tommy was completely nonplussed, and sought desperately for some way to plus himself. After an exhaustive search, and just as Tommy was about to lose all hope and give up... he lost all hope and gave up. It appeared as though there simply wasn't any way to get into the "big house" -- the words sounded hollow to Tommy now. For Tommy, it was just "prison" from now on...

Some weeks later, a letter arrived at Tommy's home:

"Hello, good sir! We've heard tale that you desire entrance to the county jail! We admire your limited persistence, and have decided to present you with a limited stay! We hope you'll enjoy it!!!!"

Tommy was ecstatic! In a matter of a few hours, he found himself standing within the gates of the clink. As Tommy stood there dumbfounded, the inmates gathered around.

"Oh, drat!" one of them exclaimed, "I suppose I had better organize a quilting session to welcome our new friend! Why didn't anyone tell us beforehand, so that we could be ready? No new friend should be without a quilt. We had best be welcoming, after all."

This was heaven.

As the days went on, Tommy grew happier and happier. It was even better here than he had imagined. Pudding was always available for enjoyable consumption, for instance. Also, every other Tuesday was improv night. Tommy really sucked at improv, but he still found extreme bliss in it, and the other inmates were condescendingly kind.

As the weeks went on, and as Tommy started adjusting to his new life, he began to view things with a more critical eye. One day in particular, Tommy found himself engaged in a conversation with one of the inmates.

"See, people speak differently outside," said the inmate. "They have a different accent, and a different way of putting words together."

Tommy nodded in agreement.

The inmate continued: "They also use different words. For instance, in here, we often just refer to television as 'TV', and automobiles we call 'cars'. Outside, they don't understand these cute colloquialisms."

That didn't sound right to Tommy. He didn't nod this time, but didn't indicate disagreement, either.

"I sure am glad we aren't confined to their limited forms of expression... nor their awful, incomprehensible accents!"

Tommy grew annoyed. He was one of those from the "outside", but he was obviously perfectly understandable, and was quite proud of his frequent use of the word "TV" -- he probably used it too often, in fact. He doubted that this convict even knew that he was an outsider; probably the convict believed Tommy to have been transferred in from elsewhere.

A later conversation with a different prisoner proved more aggravating:

"It's really quite amusing," he said. "Those bumpkins outside are so quaint and naive." He looked expectantly at Tommy, but seeing a glint of anger in his eyes, the convict quickly exposited: "They simply have no idea how to keep their dairy products cool! Long ago, we developed the technology to store milk, cheese, and even various meats at cooler temperatures than the surrounding area, thereby increasing their usability lifetime. We can even freeze food to keep it bacteria-free nearly indefinitely! Those louts outside don't... they don't... hey! Where are you going?"

Tommy had stormed off. He was furious! This was too much. Everyone here seemed to think himself better than anyone on the outside, and not one of them had ever even met anyone from the outside. See, in the time that he had been here, Tommy had discovered that all of these prisoners were born here. The reason no one knew how to get into "the joint" (the euphoric sensation of pronouncing these words was gone) was because no one had been sent there in decades! At first, this was just a minor (though slightly frustrating) point of interest, but now it just added to Tommy's aggravation at the inmates' hoity-toity attitude.

They had no concept of what life was like outside. They had never been there. All their "knowledge" was hear-say and was warped to make the outside seem full of morons. They fully believed that life on the outside was lame. For his part, Tommy believed this to be the result of years of conditioning prisoners to abandon thoughts of escape -- if things such as refrigerators and water beds don't exist on the outside, and if I can play Mouse Trap and Monopoly on the inside, why would I want to escape? Or maybe it was just the natural consequence of spending one's entire life in an enclosed community where every want and need is attended to. Regardless (or irregardless, depending on who you are), Tommy couldn't take it.

How could anyone live here? Tommy didn't want to feel like he was better than others, unless he actually was better! Nothing seemed worse to Tommy than feeling superior when he was, at best, equal to those he derided. No, he couldn't stay here. All the pudding, improv, musicals, and My Little Pony reenactments in the world couldn't justify the mindframe necessary to stay here.

That's when Tommy decided to break out. "Break out" is probably too cool of a term, since all he had to do was remove a twist-tie from the gate and walk home, but technically the term is appropriate. So, Tommy broke out of prison and went home.

Thus it is that Tommy returns to his life, finally assured that living in the real world is best. And as he thinks back over the events of the last several months, he smiles to himself as he recalls the blissful ignorance of the prison inmates and their complete confidence that they know what the world outside is truly like. From outside, their perception of the world is almost quaint and cute. And as he sees his fellow "outsiders" longingly look at the county prison, inwardly he chuckles, remembering how it used to feel. But now, Tommy is above all that. He knows what life is like both on the inside and the outside. Now he truly is superior.

Yes, Tommy is quite pleased with himself... and completely oblivious to the fact that I have just shared his personal, private experience with you! So who's naive now, huh, Tommy? Yeah, it would seem that you're the one living in hypocritical and judgmental ignorance! HA!


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Graffiti for the workplace. Plus, a FrogPad update.

I work on vital statistics software. The software is used by several States to process birth and death events. Perhaps I will talk more about what I do some other time, but it's not important right now. What matters is that we are the "Vital Statistics team" where I work, and often we are just called "Vitals".

From my office, there is a Chevron visible acr
oss the street. This Chevron closed down several months ago (how it managed to stay open for so many years is a mystery to me... the place seemed very poorly managed). Naturally, when a building is abandoned it becomes needful for said building to be covered in graffiti, and so soon the local talented midnight artists thoughtfully and tastefully turned this eyesore of a building into a beautiful monument to illegible scribbles. Sadly, the city didn't appreciate such fine art, and so they painted over the tags. But they missed one.

Over the months, the tagging has continued, only to be painted over every time... except for that one tag that still

One day, my colleagues and I were looking out of my office window with some binoculars (why is not important...), when we decided to get a better look at that one tag that always managed to stick around.

It appeared to say something about "vital". So we got a closer look.

There was some disagreement about the first word -- "ks", "its", "pi s", "ns" -- but we decided that the tagger was trying to pay tribute to us, and to recognize all the hard work that we do every day. And so, it was decided that the words said: "it's vital". And that, of course, is some clever wordplay.

I went over and took a photo of the graffiti (which is where the above photos came from), and I then proceeded to chop the letters out so we could print it as a banner. Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to use the full width of the paper roll when I printed it out, so we were only able to make it about nine feet wide, but now we have a glorious b
anner that proclaims who we are, how important we are, and also shows that we have serious street cred. And even though we have to tell everyone who sees it that the first word is not "ks", we still feel pretty special... and also vitally important.

Here's how it looks as you enter our section of the office

I can even see it from my office

Also, there are barn swallows living outside our office this year, which are a new addition to our surprisingly diverse wildlife outside. Naturally, I'm particularly pleased since swallows are my favorite bird... not that I'm biased or anything...

Here they are right outside my office window - I apologize for the poor photo, but I had to hurry and they flew away right after I snapped this shot.

FrogPad update: I'm making fairly regular use of it at work now. I hardly ever need to look at the pad, unless I'm using some symbol that I haven't used much. I'm still not super fast with it yet, but my most frequent typing error now is actually due to typing too fast...

The pad has fifteen letter keys, each of which can generate five characters, plus they all have at least one "function" -- arrow keys, page up, esc, and so forth. So, to type anything besides the fifteen main letters, you have to push one or more of the five "modifier" keys. The most common of these is pressing the space key at the same time as one of the letter keys. So, for instance, you can type an 'e' by just pressing the appropriate key, but pressing it at the same time as the space key produces a 'z'.

The problem here is that there is a built-in delay in the algorithm, so if I'm typing, say, "the pad", it will often come out as "thzpad", because I type the space too soon after typing the 'e', and it changes the 'e' into a 'z' and the space doesn't get output. This happens a lot to me now, and it happened in that last sentence in fact ("it changes the" came out as "icchangegthe"). So there is definitely an upper limit on how fast I will ever be able to type. This error is a common one since the space key is easy to hit, and I can quickly type it after any character, even though I'm not that fast with the keyboard itself. So I need to train myself to be slower with the space key...

Today's typing speed (based on
Frogpad: 33 WPM
Standard keyboard: 93 WPM

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I take my new FrogPad for a test drive.

Well, I finished posting all of the old MySpace blog stories... and now here comes my first real blog post ever. Bleh...

So I just received my new and functioning FrogPad today. What's a FrogPad, you ask? Why, it's a small, one-handed keyboard, of course! I'm using it to type this, in fact... and it's taking a lot longer than usual. It doesn't use the qwerty layout that we're all used to, so I do a lot of hunting and pecking now... plus many of the keys require chording, which doesn't seem to be too bad, but it takes some getting used to. I'm just not used to having to look at the keyboard, and it can be frustrating typing so slowly; when I'm not coding, I can usually type over 100 words per minute (it took me a full minute to find the semi-colon key -- I almost gave up and used lesser punctuation instead).

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I've been typing this mainly to get practice with the keyboard, and it's actually been very helpful. I'm already getting a pretty good handle on where the keys are, although I still have to look at the keyboard a lot. But I'm pretty happy with how quickly it's coming along. :)

Anyway, you may have noticed that I mentioned that this FrogPad is functioning. See, i previously received a FrogPad that had a minor malfunction... the Bluetooth pairing button didn't work. Try as I might, I couldn't get the pad to enter discoverable mode. Eventually, I tried too hard, and I accidentally snapped the Bluetooth pairing button off of the internal circuit board. Fortunately, they were very nice about it and replaced the pad for free. Of course, I had to mail it back to them. As my broken keyboard headed back to its makers, and as I watched the tracking info update online, I eventually noticed that it had been "left by doorstep". That made me a bit uneasy, since FedEx doesn't normally leave packages sitting in front of businesses. So I looked up their address on Google Maps:

Not only does that look like a residential area, it also looks like the address is a house that has been flattened! I worried that I had sent this (overly) expensive keyboard to sit in front of some crackhouse, to be misused and unappreciated, and perhaps even introduced to a life of drugs and crime -- which I understand is highly competitive.

And so I lay awake at night, fretting over my poor, lost keyboard. When I managed to sleep, it was filled with nightmarish images of atrocities all committed by a slightly damaged, one-handed keyboard. But then, at long last, the FrogPad arrived this afternoon while I was at work! With much joy, I was able to successfully pair it with my PC at work, and later with my Mac when I got home. And so here I am, several hours later, typing a long and boring report about it... and it's taking FOREVER!!! Hopefully I'll start making some serious progress with my typing speed soon...

Today's typing speed (based on
Frogpad: 15 WPM
Standard keyboard: 99 WPM

Monday, June 11, 2007

A story from my childhood.

There was once a little lad who lived amongst the purple pansies of The Royal Slaughter Fields. He was quite happy within his purple pansy paradise -- being surrounded by these perpetual symbols of thought reminded him of the importance of self-observation and quiet reflection. Although, on his more cynical days they simply reminded him of man's bastardization of nature, and he would silently curse the practice of forced cross-breeding.

But today was not a cynical day. Today was the day of the harvest, and this little lad was full of excitement. He had waited his whole life for this moment. Today this lad would become a man... but not in the way you would think. There would be no test or trial of manhood to overcome. There would be no marriage. No, this lad would become a man in a very real sense, for he would be eaten by a man.

The Royal Slaughter Fields were so called because this is where children grew plump and were slaughtered to feed the mighty royal army. To be eaten by these monarchistic soldiers was the best end a child could hope for... but it was not always so.

Long ago, this land was a Holy Technocracy ruled by intelligent and powerful technicians guided by the divine light of God. They ruled justly and fairly, repairing computer problems and fixing broken traffic lights with great speed and skill. However, there was an evil force brewing in the underworld. Discontent with the fluorescent lights used to illuminate their dark caverns, these cave dwellers decided to overthrow the Holy Technocracy.

Within the Realm of Souls that lied within the deepest caverns of the underworld, the Nine Blue Harridans of Desolation gathered together and summoned a mighty beast out of the Ossuary of Suffering. This beast brought great pain and suffering to the leaders of the land, and all appeals to their God seemed to go unheeded. And so the Holy Technocracy fell, and the greatest government ever known to man was destroyed. In its place was established the Tyrannical Domain of Anguish.

Life in the Domain was not good. Without the technicians, broken microwaves remained broken, air conditioners ceased conditioning, and text messages wouldn't get sent. And yet, in some dastardly twist of fate, people lived infinitely longer than before. Surely life without texting is no life at all, and so loving mothers would send their children off to the Royal Slaughter Fields to live a peaceful life amid the purple pansies -- a life which would be cut off quickly before they grew out of their childish innocence and awoke to the horrors of television without TiVo (and in the not-too-distant future, no television at all!).

And so this small lad silently thanks his mother for this gift as he stands up, flings his arms into the air, and is pulled away by a ravenous armored warrior eager to feast. The rush of the wind disturbs the pansies for but an instant, after which they return to their peaceful, purply existence, awaiting the next child who will call them home... for a time...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I need to find someone who can heal my mind.

As if there weren't enough of these out there, here is my very own "coming of age" story:

I've mentioned it before, but now it is time to lay it all out. I am a god. I have no special powers or abilities and I haven't really created anything worthwhile, but the fact remains that I am deity. This was not by choice. Indeed, I have tried to stop it, but when a strange alien race begins worshipping you there just isn't much you can do about it.

It all began a dozen-plus years ago. This was a strange time in my life as I exited the prepubescent stage and found myself pubescing and such. Yes, I struggled as we all do with these changes, but most disturbing of all were the regular alien abductions. I couldn't tell anyone about them, either. "Mom, something strange has been happening to me. You see, I --" and my mom would cut me off quickly with something like, "It's normal," "Everyone experiences it," or some other response that effectively dismissed my concerns as nothing more than those of a boy turning into a "young man." Needless to say, I believed her and figured that aliens must be abducting all of my friends and classmates as well, so I just struggled through it like everything else.

I'm not sure what the aliens saw in me, but after a year or so of these abductions they began acting differently. They were polite and courteous, asking me how I felt and what I desired. The probing diminished significantly... okay, actually there never was any probing, but I thought you might be wondering since it's such a clich├ęd abduction thing. Anyway, they did continue to take me to their ships and such without asking permission, but the thought never occured to me that they should ask since, as I said, I thought this was all a normal part of growing up. The point is that their treatment of me noticeably changed, and I became aware of the fact that they were, well, revering me. Needless to say I was confused by this strange change in behavior.

As the years rolled by, things got even more strange. The aliens developed the habit of presenting me with gifts. With time, the aliens would only present ONE alien (who wore elaborate and flowing robes) with the gifts, and then only he would present them to me. Eventually, I only ever saw a few of the aliens (who had apparently become the "priests" of this new religion). They would present me with holographic recordings of prayers and such, worship me for a while, and then send me back home.

In case you haven't quite grasped this yet, let me reiterate that I thought this was all normal. I figured everyone was a god to their own little colony of space aliens. I only began to suspect otherwise when we had a lesson in church about how we can become gods (a grossly misunderstood LDS doctrine, by the way). When I raised my hand and said, "I've already become a god," and, "Aren't you all gods, too...?" the class went silent and I had to talk with the Bishop later that day. When I started telling him about the aliens, he figured I was just up to one of my normal tricks, smiled, shook his head and then my hand, and sent me on my way. He also said with a chuckle that maybe I should stop dating his daughter since he wasn't sure he was ready for her to become a goddess for some crazy aliens (of course, I always thought of her as a goddess... but I digress.). I knew he was joking about his daughter, but I was reeling from this revelation and in my crazed mindframe I broke it off anyway. It was probably better for her in the end, what with my random abductions taking me away at inopportune times and whatnot.

Realizing that perhaps things weren't as normal as I had thought, I began saying things to try and feel out whether any of my friends were also alien gods. For instance, I might say, "Boy, it sure was cold in outer space today," or, "Those aliens just couldn't stop with their adulations last week," and one time, "Those new robes make our extraterrestrial friends look pretty ridiculous! Am I right?" Needless to say, these subtle attempts to discover my friends' potential alien dealings were always met with strange looks and whispered comments. It was becoming clear that my god-status, and even my abductions, were completely and totally abnormal.

I was about 18 by this time. High school was winding down and life was staring me in the face. I had serious decisions to make about college, mission, career, and so forth. I was excited to be done with the lameness of the high school social scene and to move on to bigger and better things. Dating became complicated as I prepared for a mission and as girls started thinking that dating after high school meant marriage was around the corner. As I dealt with these incomprehensible attitude changes, something much more serious and terrible was happening to my alien worshippers.

I found out about it one night as I was reviewing some of their prayers. There were always so many of them and they tended to be so boring and inane that I usually didn't pay much attention, but on this night something grabbed my attention. Many of the aliens were praying for "deliverance from our enemies." This seemed strange to me since they had never told me of any enemies before. So on my next abduction I asked the Uber Max Priest of Holy Thosdom about these enemies. What he told me both fascinated and saddened me.

Turns out that a year or so before, some aliens came from another alien colony (I'll call this new colony the Basilites, and the aliens who worship me Thosites from now on to keep things clear) proselytizing for their faith, which advocated the worship of Holy Basil. It may be worth noting that Holy Basil isn't an herb on their planet, but a remarkable material that I found to be a very satisfying replacement for Silly Putty. Regardless, they worshipped Holy Basil as the originator of all life and matter (which honestly I wouldn't doubt, after having played with some for quite some time) and were sharing their message with all who would listen. Unfortunately, they found Thos-worship to be a most grievous sin (Basilite scriptures specifically forbid it, which I found quite shocking), and it was their belief that all Thosites must either be brought to their senses or eradicated.

As you can imagine, the loyal Thosites were firm and steadfast in their belief in me, which is good because I definitely exist and there's nothing fun about others denying your existence. And so a great war was beginning between the Thosites and the Basilites. When I discovered this, I thought it would be wise to give new revelation detailing my pleasure and desire for the spilling of Basilite blood. I didn't have anything against the Basilites per se, but I couldn't stand by and watch them slaughter these aliens who had come to be as children to me. And so I lifted my commandment of pacifistic resistance (I had given many commandments and such over the years because it seemed like the right thing for a god to do), and the Thosites began to fight back.

I shan't detail the mighty battles or list the names of those who perished -- there are other, more respectable places for such things. Instead, be content to know that the Thosites were amazingly proficient in battle (possibly due to years of repressed rage -- one of my previous commandments was to repress rage) and the Basilites didn't stand a chance. We tried to spare the lives of some, but those we spared waited a few months and then captured me and tried to kill me. It was quite the adventure, but again the details aren't necessary here. In the end we had to kill them all. On the upside, we did get all of their stores of Holy Basil, which as I said before is some amazing stuff!

So the Thosites won, the Basilites were eradicated, and I finally realized that I'm a pretty awesome god. And now, several years later, my aliens are the greatest and most revered beings in all the galaxy. As for me, I think I'm ready to live my life.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My two favorite things are commitment and changing myself.

If, as has been suggested, a blog is nothing but a sewer for mind defecation, then it should be obvious that I have been suffering from an extreme case of mental constipation. It has been quite painful, I assure you, and as such I have taken steps to fix it. While finding laxatives for your bowels is both easy and fun (that's a reference to youthful days of finding ingenious ways to loosen the bowels of my friend's siblings...), procuring mind laxatives has proven much more difficult for me. I have been told that alcohol and some illegal drugs are great at opening your mind and letting the thoughts spill out unfettered by silly internal dialogue, but my personal morals keep me from partaking in such wonders. I am thus forced to simply push through this ailment unaided.

It is unusual for me to resort to scatological discussions, but even someone as prim and proper as myself has to deal with these issues. The body is lame and weak (a pansy, if you will), and unable to absorb and make use of a startling amount of the food we ingest. Likewise, our brains are constantly absorbing more information than they know how to deal with, and they just have to slough off some of that nasty, stinky waste from time to time. Normally I like to try and pretty it up before I plop it in the porcelain blog, but today my creativity is at an all-time low. I believe I've had a creativoscopy.

Combine all this with the fact that the Internet lines for our office were physically cut yesterday and we may not have Internet access until 5:30 tomorrow evening, and you will understand why I have no choice but to sit here and write whatever comes to mind. I apologize that my mind frame is not in a more pleasing state. I could attempt to talk about butterflies and roses, but such things disgust me... yet I'm up for the challenge.

In an emerald green valley lived a happy little family of butterflies. These were no ordinary butterflies, however. They were rich beyond imagining, for they lived in a giant bed of roses. These roses were also extraordinary, for they grew in colors incomprehensible to the frail human mind. Their beauty was above that of the most beautiful thing you can imagine, and their scent was different for each creature, pandering to what each subject considered to be the most desirable smell of all. Needless to say, the rose butterflies were the envy of all insects everywhere, but there was no ill will within the valley.

The rose butterflies were kind and gracious -- magnanimous even. While it was forbidden by the butterflies' god to allow others into their rose bed, the butterflies did not consider themselves better than their peers, and would give what they could to the betterment of the insect kingdom. Bugs and arachnids, on the other hand, were of course shunned and abused as they should be. It was not uncommon for the butterflies to organize events recalling the Coliseum of Rome, with spiders battling centipedes and snails. It was this combined with the butterflies' completely inoffensive nature that endeared them so much to the Yellow jackets, katydids, ladybugs, earwigs and other insects of the realm. But something was about to go horribly wrong.

One gorgeous day when the happy sun was spreading joy across the rose butterflies' emerald green valley of beauty and splendor, a most joyous event occurred. A caterpillar had recently cocooned itself on the stem of a rose that was the most stunning of any rose that had ever grown in the valley, and on this day the chrysalis opened, revealing a butterfly which was truly a sight to behold! Not only was it most pleasing to every sense, it also drove all thoughts of pooh-related humor and such from the mind. Truly, it was a miracle! But all was not well.

Such beauty as this was never supposed to present itself to our world. Indeed, this butterfly was the proverbial butterfly whose wings would create hurricanes midway around the world. Only in reality, it was much worse. It happened slowly at first, since the valley was accustomed to seeing things more wondrous and amazing than anywhere else in the world, but with time it became apparent that the mere presence of the butterfly was causing drastic changes wherever it went. Anything exposed to the butterfly's wonderment would become self-conscious, noticing every little flaw it possessed when compared to the butterfly. This could only lead to eating disorders, expensive surgeries, and depression. Since medical science had yet to progress far enough to treat insects and roses for eating disorders, slugs had no faces to lift, and bumble bee liposuction hadn't been perfected yet, every object in the valley (both animate and inanimate) gradually descended the downward spiral into the very pit of self-loathing.

The butterfly was not unaware of the suffering it was causing, and so unable to bear seeing the sad state of its friends and family, it left the emerald valley. This proved disastrous for the rest of the world. Being vastly more repulsive and disturbing than those beings which inhabited the valley, those in the rest of the world were instantly driven to insanity. Those who could afford it went to plastic surgeons, but this only resulted in increased depression since even with fake beauty they failed to compare to the butterfly's innate grace. Indeed, even the prettiest and most self-confident of my readers would have been driven to the brink of suicide.

That's why I grabbed my fly swatter and killed the thing. The End.

Ah, well, that was some much-needed relief. I'll try to do this in private next time...

And if you're wondering, the Internet is still down. Work sucks right now.