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Musings of a Lemming

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Intellectual Edge


From my burrow in the woods I watch as a group of men, decked out in atrocious camouflage clothing with safety orange stripes, rides in with SUVs and sets up camp. Modern poly-fiber tents, propane space heaters, MREs, and a generator to power their smart phones and a portable DVD viewer. Coolers filled with imported beer and a token amount of chocolate bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers. They call that "roughing it."


They drink for hours, watching movies around a fire with no ventilation and gripe that they can't keep said fire going for reasons they can't figure out. By the time they turn in they're barely able to stand upright, all with plans to be up at the crack of dawn to go hunting. While they sleep, I help myself to some fine quality German beer and watch my own collection of Shakespeare's plays on DVD. It's not easy to carry a DVD when you're as small as a lemming.


They awake well after dawn with hangovers that would stop a moose cold. Ironic, given that they're hunting moose...and deer, and elk, and anything else they can shoot at. Nursing their self-inflicted pain, they load up with rifles and shotguns with high-powered night vision scopes, laser range finders, and neon sights. Equipment that costs more than my computer. They justify it by saying it's fair advantage. What's so fair about being able to blow a duck to meaty bits from five-hundred yards?


After a day of making an utter racket and missing everything they shoot at, they return and repeat their nightly ritual. This goes on for three days before they load up everything, empty handed, and pat themselves on the back for being "real woodsmen." Never mind that they panicked when an ember from their smothered fire got on one of their synthetic fabric jackets and melted a hole the size of my furry body. Or that time they didn't know what to do when one of those space heaters failed and a tent got cold. Or that they hunted while unable to see clearly and with one of the worst headaches anyone could have.


That's when I realize it is fair advantage. The animals have the intellectual edge.

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Visiting My Relatives


I paid a visit to relatives up north, an early Xmas thing since...well, I can't stand my relatives! Here are a couple of reasons why.


My aunt loves to cook. And drink. And cook while drinking. And cook with drink. I had expected her to learn to avoid the latter two after she set fire to her kitchen for the eighth time. It takes a far steadier hand to cook with 100 proof alcohol than someone who's been imbibing half it all day has. When the food isn't burnt, it's enough to put all but hardened alcoholics under the table. When it's neither, it's takeout. I don't really associate the holidays with "Chinese" food, pizza, and Kenfucky Tried Chicken. Worse still is when the moose that hangs around their neighborhood gets into the garbage and doesn't sober up for three days. You've not known horror until you've seen what a thousand-pound animal with antlers can do on a bender.


My uncle is a grumpy old lemming. He's still hung up on the fact that Diz-knee wrongly said that we jump off of cliffs in a documentary back in the '50s. He routinely calls Mick E. Mouse the Antichrist. When I ask him why he tortures himself by watching the Diz-knee Channel, he just goes off on a twenty-minute tirade about how the company is "keeping the lemming down." I'd call him crazy, but he's actually more coherent than half of the people in DC. Which may not be saying much; his family lives in Canada. Eventually he runs out of breath and sits down to watch reruns of The Red Green Show. His obsession with the Possum Lodge may explain a few things, like why he went spear bald decades ago. Have you ever tried to work with duct tape when you're covered in fur?


As for my cousin...well, where to start? She's not the brightest bulb in the drawer, for one. She couldn't decide which candidate to vote for in the US elections last year. Her family, as I mentioned, lives in Canada. Then there's the fact that she always has a wild hare up her butt; she's dating a snowshoe rabbit. I wouldn't mind if they could at least do it behind closed doors. But on the front lawn in front of plastic baby Jesus? After seeing that I joined my aunt in the kitchen and got absolutely shit faced for the rest of my visit. There are just some things you can't "un-see."


When I get back to the car rental place I have to explain that the car had a run-in with a drunken bull moose while the farewell pie my aunt baked underwent spontaneous combustion when the heater was turned on. The lady at the counter just asked, "Visiting relatives?"


And those were my sane relatives.

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Party Prep


Every year I like to hold a New Year's party for friends. It's usually a potluck event since I can't really afford all the booze these freaks go through. I just received the RSVP from Gecko--yes, the one who works for Geico--and Spuds Mackenzie. The former enjoys the odd pint while the latter has been in a downward spiral since the federal government ruled his commercials for Budweiser illegal because they "appeal to children" and tends to hit the bottle hard. So I have a choice: tons of cheap stuff or top-shelf? The cheaper booze won't get him drunk too fast while the good stuff will knock him out quicker but not before he reaches that "philosophical" stage of drunkenness.


Among the other guests are Dovahgerbil and Dovahchicken. The two of them eat, sleep, and breathe Skyrim so much they always cosplay as the Dragonborn. I don't know if they were the inspiration for the mods that feature them or not. All I know is that they demand mead, mead, mead. Would it kill them to have a beer every now and then?


Then there's Moose the moose. He's our resident "big, dumb, loyal friend." He's also a walking tank as some kids from San Fran found out when they ran into him with a car to test some myth about speeding up reducing the damage from hitting a moose. I don't know if it worked; those kids were pretty messed up before the test so it's hard to tell if they were damaged after the test. Moose just shook all over and walked away without a scratch. After the incident at my relatives' place, I think I'll be restricting him from getting anything too hard to drink.


Sadly some friends turned down this year's invites. Mr. Peanut and the Nutcracker had an altercation over Christmas; the former is in the hospital with a cracked skull while the latter received a broken jaw that had to be wired shut. The Geico Pig is in hiding after someone tried to make some bacon out of him. And as for my cousins in Quebec who got a role in some Looney Tunes-esque cartoon, they're taking advantage of the fact that the bear they're always getting in trouble with is in hibernation. Plus they don't know how to read. They wouldn't be able to respond to my invite.


Here's hoping the hangovers aren't too bad.

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Revenge of the Lemming!


New Year's Eve didn't go off as I--or my guests--had hoped. I knew something bad was going to happen when twelve college kids showed up outside my burrow with high-end RVs, six super-sized coolers stocked with booze of every kind, and one extra-small cooler with sandwiches to account for all their food. Nevertheless, all my guests arrived at 7:00 PM and we started a quiet, civilized party to welcome the New Year. Even Spuds was holding off on his intake, which was shocking.


Then those kids started up a stereo system that drew more watts than a mid-sized American house. I couldn't even tell what they were listening to; it just sounded like a bunch of people screaming. I went out to complain but I forgot I can't actually speak to humans. One of them picked me up by grabbing and squeezing, already drunk and it was barely eight! All of them tried to guess what I was before one who apparently majors in zoology recognized me as a lemming. A field mouse? A nutria? A vole!? Never have I been so offended! But that wasn't the worst of it. Oh, no. They took some Scotch tape and taped a firecracker to my fuzzy butt! In a panic I tore away the tape without thinking. I still can't sit down and still feel a draft.


As if to add insult to injury, they decided to lay half of their speakers on the ground face down with the bass turned all the way up. Gecko, Dovahgerbil, Dovahchicken, and I were being bounced off the floor. But the greatest casualty was a bottle of scotch aged longer than any of those yahoos outside. I had waited all year to open it up and the bottle shattered from the sound being pumped. I freely admit that I cried over that one.


But as Grammy Lemmingway always said, "Don't get mad, get even."


So we all waited. And waited. And waited. Finally around five in the morning they seemed to reach their limit. We could tell because they were taking drinks and immediately throwing up in the bushes afterwards. When the last of them finally passed out we got to work. Dovahgerbil and Dovahchicken, when they aren't acting like complete fools by dressing up as a fictional character, are actually quite skilled electrical engineers. They rigged up that monster stereo so it wouldn't respond to the controls while Moose helped them move the speakers up against their RVs. Meanwhile I moved the razor shards of the broken scotch bottle under the tires of each of their vehicles. Finally Moose left a big surprise on that tiny cooler holding their sandwiches.


Finally, at half past seven when the park ranger comes by on patrol, we started up that stereo with a copy of Beastie Boys "Gotta Fight For Your Right" loaded into memory. With a programmable remote, I turned on the stereo. Suddenly they got to experience what it was like to have 160 db pounding into their dwellings. Still half-drunk, they tried everything to shut it down even as the ranger drove up and started yelling at them to do the same. Finally one of them got the bright idea to just pull the power after nearly fifteen minutes. Once it was quiet again the ranger fined each of them $100 for disturbing the peace and ordered them to vacate the premises immediately or face an additional $500 fine each.


By then they were bickering and a couple retreated to "safe zones." Said things don't exist outside of PC college campuses, though, and there was nothing to stop the others from crossing into them. By the time they finished cleaning everything up, got packed up, and excavated that cooler from a two-foot pile of moose droppings, they seemed eager to get back to school despite massive hangovers and no food they would touch to settle their stomachs. Only as soon as they drove forward, all four tires on each of their went "POP!"


Even as I write this they're still outside my burrow, whining and complaining and waiting on Triple-A to come haul their parents' RVs to a shop. Each blames the others for everything that went wrong. Nobody suspects the lemming! BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!

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Tax Time


I'm one of those lemmings that prefers to do my taxes ASAP. So I'll now whether I earned a refund or how big a pile of ice I'll need to sit on after the government finishes with me.


Once the dreaded W-2 form arrives, I have to go over the revised tax laws. After referring back to a dozen different forms over two days I finally cave in and take things to my CPA. As soon as I drop it off he puts on a top hat and monocle while sacrificing a black rooster. The government must be trying out "voodoo economics" again. After putting it out of my mind for a couple of days I get the call that he's figured it all out. According to him I owe three-thousand dollars. That's when I notice the picture of the Putz of the United States on his wall with a heart around it. Can you say, "Agenda?" I knew you could.


My second CPA takes a look at his work and she immediately throws his work into the shredder. She takes a couple of minutes and determines I've earned a one-hundred-thirty dollar refund. Apparently the Senate vetoed a law that would allow for the extra taxation of lemmings, rabbits, and sheep. Sadly the same cannot be said of sheeple who earn less than one-hundred-thousand dollars a year. The new tax plan will allow them to be put to the rack if they don't cough up both arms and legs as well as their souls and their firstborn.


All this time I used a Zamboni to lay down a nice thick sheet of ice outside my burrow for what I expected to be a peppered Angus. If anyone needs to use it after their taxes, let me know before the spring thaw.

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One of Those Days...


Normally I'm a fan of winter. The long nights, the chill weather keeping away visitors, nothing to do but vegetate in front of a high-def TV. Only this year there's something missing. As the eastern half of the US of A is pounded by snowstorms this year, again, those of us out west are bone dry, again. This means a clear path to my burrow for visitors and unwanted guests like Mormon missionaries. They really do have nothing better to do than to trudge out here into the wilderness to proselytize to furry critters. At one point I was interested but that died quickly when I learned LDS didn't stand for Lemming Day Saints.


When I'm finally able to return to my steady diet of Discovery Science and Comedy Central, my satellite signal is disrupted by above-freezing heavy rains. That wouldn't be a problem if my Internet service wasn't also disrupted by the wet weather. Not satellite, a landline service who has the drive to supply service out to the middle of nowhere but not the drive to properly seal the fiber optic trunks against the weather. Even that wouldn't be a problem as I pop a season of Mythbusters into my DVD player; it's easier to carry a DVD than a full bottle of fine German lager, hence why I went outside when those hunters were around. Only for the power to go out right then and there. Now I'm getting mad, but I still have dead-tree books to read. I wrap up in a blanket and start reading...only for the batteries in my lantern to die.


As I search futilely for candles I don't have I can't help but think some higher power has it out for me. Seeing red, I try to start my car to go buy batteries, candles, and some dinner. Only my car won't start because the charger I was using to recondition the battery didn't have time to do its thing before the power went out. If not for the rig I have to use to drive I'd be smashing my head against the horn. As is I'm suspended in a tiny wooden seat and screaming at the Fates.


Finally I have no choice but to ask Moose to give me a ride into town. I find him staring upwards into the rain with his mouth open. I save the damn fool's life and he gladly gives me a lift. Most people in town are still not used to seeing a lemming driving a car, so seeing a lemming riding a moose caused a lot of stares. When I finish buying everything I need, my fur soaked to the bone with no quick way to dry off when I get home, the town power flares back to life. At that I scream even louder.


When I get back home and go to replace the batteries, it turns out to be a simple dirty contact because the batteries in there were otherwise fine. Now I scream so loud that the local bears start complaining about the noise.


Defeated, I use a hair dryer to dry off. Instantly my fur puffs out wildly and immobilizes me. The only good thing is I wasn't facing the mirror. A crying lemming is not a pretty sight.

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Bungee Bungling


On a morning constitutional I came across a bunch of guys at a cliff. They've driven iron pitons into the rock and attached a bungee cord so they could jump off. Immediately several things enter my mind. First of all, you don't bungee jump off of a cliff! Even if you get away from the rock face on the way down, that's not a sure thing on the way back. Second of all, there's no body of water below to break the fall if things go horribly wrong. But they don't seem to realize what they're doing wrong. One even has a copy of Bungee Jumping for Dummies in their pack but it's still sealed in cellophane. Real men don't read the instructions, apparently.


I sigh and sit on a nearby rock, helping myself to the trail mix they've forgotten as they pull on the cord's first ten feet alone to test whether or not it's gone brittle in the cold. They don't even hear my munching as they begin to argue over who will go first. They tell Dave to go first, then George, then Stan, then Dave again, then Jack. Finally one of them named Pat decides to go first. They hook up his legs and he inches towards the edge. I'm thinking to myself, Avoid the soft rock at the lip.


He doesn't and slips. I wince and expect Pat to splat. He screams the whole way down before the line goes taut and snaps back up. Now he starts whooping like a madman. For just a moment I think he might make it. Then I remember what else is there besides a rock face: a thick branch holding up an abandoned eagle's nest. The line doesn't go fully taut again and I know he's caught up in that branch. The other guys begin to panic about what to do before one of them suggests the obvious thing of pulling him back up. I would be laughing if it wasn't so pathetic and my cheeks weren't filled with raisins and M&Ms.


When they pull Pat up he's woozy and unsteady. Go to the hospital, you fools, I think. He has a concussion.


But they just start arguing about who gets to go next. The last thing we animals want is a bunch of humans causing a mess when they clearly need help. And professional help. One of them must have been married because he had one of those emergency locators that acts like a beacon for rescue workers when activated. Taking one last mouthful of mix I go over and struggle to lift the rubber guard over the emergency button. By the time I do get it off three others have jumped and hurt themselves. In their impaired state they're pretending to be lumberjacks by slamming their bodies into an immature birch that just throws them back. Even after activating the locator it takes twenty minutes for rangers to arrive. By then they've gotten the bright idea to rush the offending tree. Only none of them can apparently see straight because they're always off to the side.


Skip ahead a few more hours when the true extent of their injuries has become obvious and they have to be air-lifted to hospitals. By then their wives have arrived and were reading them the riot act. Each asks them the same question, "What were they thinking?"


By now the trail mix is gone and I've lost interest. As I turn to leave I realize no one is watching the bungee equipment. Despite everything I'd just seen, despite everything I knew, a thought crossed my mind. To which I just said one thing:



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Meet (Some of) the Crew


Thinking about it, my stories won't make much sense if I don't introduce the gang. There's more about animals than humans care to admit. Sometimes it's hard to tell who's smarter: us or you guys.


Moose I've mentioned before. Big, dumb, lovable Moose. His favorite things in life are foraging for food, leaving steaming piles in the woods, and watching pro wrestling. I watch out for the big guy because I'm such a little guy. And simple loyalty is a trait lemmings value highly. He's also like a brick wall in more ways than just talking to him. I mentioned how he was used by some kids from San Fran as a Crash Test Moose; not the Mythbusters build team, just some kids who thought they'd test it out for themselves. Moose didn't even notice the impact while the kids were too high from eating the mushrooms growing in said steaming piles to care. I'm not sure what he does for a living, but it's enough to pay for a TV and Pay-Per-View.


Dovahgerbil and Dovachicken are really called Cecil and Dave, respectively. Imagine two guys who eat, sleep, and breathe nothing but Tolkien-esque fantasy. They still style themselves as Dragonborn despite having moved on from Skyrim to half a dozen other things over the past few years. And like other fantasy nerds--myself included--they lack both the physical strength and coordination to fight anything stronger than a moth. At first it was funny watching them try to Fus-Roh-Dah people who are still juvenile bullies well into their thirties, but now it's embarrassing to admit I know them. When they aren't dressing up like some unshaven, unwashed Neanderthal in pitted iron armor, they work as electrical engineers on a contractual basis for countless companies. While the humans are being micromanaged to death by pointy-haired bosses, they're actually getting things done while being paid five times as much as the cubicle convicts. That's the secret companies don't like to reveal: the real work is being done by animals while humans are just there for show.


One character I might be featuring is Millie, my ex-squirrel-friend. We dated for about a year but I called it off. She kept grabbing my nuts. She actually spends part of the winter in Brazil via the airlines, so I guess that makes her a flying squirrel. When she is here up north she works at a research lab, running mazes alongside rats so the scientists have some point of comparison. The pay is peanuts but she likes it well enough. She also always wears a shirt that says, "I could destroy everything if I wanted to, but I'm a good girl." I believe she could destroy everything if her reaction to me locking up my nuts once is any indication.


Another character who isn't currently here is Lipps the mallard. Every year he gets the flock out of here and flies south for the winter after working as the supervisory researcher for some pharmaceutical company. Sort of apropos as the company is run by a bunch of quacks. According to him you can really push a dollar in places like Rio where he has a sprawling villa. Up here he has to settle for a pond. Just another example of old white males keeping the animal down! Uh, anyway, he's also learned a surefire way of avoiding duck hunters. Wait until late morning when they're so bored, and often drunk off cheap beer, they mistake their decoys for real ducks. Or they shoot their hunting partner. It worked with Dick Cheney.


That's some of the gang who hangs around this neck of the woods. There are others who show up from time to time but not on a regular basis. Hopefully this will help make more sense of the posts already here and to come.

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When Relatives Visit


My cousins from Quebec decided to visit me this week. I guess they were getting bored since the grizzly is in hibernation. That's fine, I have room to host them. I just ask that they do some simple things like clean up their messes, not eat all the food in the burrow, and not destroy anything. But it seems I was asking too much from a bunch with room temperature IQs--room temperature Celsius! But I'm getting ahead of myself.


That first day they take the handkerchief lovingly sewn by my human friend Sarah, my fan, and make themselves a parasailing rig by turning that handkerchief into a parachute. I catch them as they're all gathered in front of the fan, too heavy to get airborne at the low setting so they set it to high. Before I can stop them they do get off the ground--for all of a few seconds before they go flying into a tree. Six furry bodies splatting against the bark as I watch a symbol of a dear friendship fly away and get tangled in the bare branches too thin to support even my weight. In my panic I don't see them dust themselves off like nothing happened and go inside the burrow. All I can do is scamper up the tree and make a leap for the cloth. I grab it...and hear a "CRACK!" I scream as I fall, smack into the ground, and bounce into a bank of newly fallen snow.


Wet and cold, I head back into the burrow for some aspirin to find my cousins have found a jar of chocolate spread I thought I'd hid. They're eating it straight out of the jar with human-sized spoons and getting it everywhere. All of their faces are coated in brown and they're laughing up a storm. At that I lose it, tie them up, and hang them from the ceiling so they can't do any more damage while I clean up chocolate that has somehow gotten between the wall and the fridge, between the counter and the oven, and even up on the ceiling. All during that time I keep asking them, "WHY?!" I look for the light in their eyes--bulb's burned out! And it's like Christmas lights; one bulb goes, whole row goes out! Several hours later I finish, while my cousins have fallen asleep still hanging from the ceiling. That takes some kind of special stupid!


Exhausted and sore, I go to bed. Sometime after midnight I'm awoken by loud music and bright colored lights. My cousins have somehow wriggled free and are using my smartphone to stream techno music while one of them holds up clear plastic cups to a lamp while the rest of them dance madly. The neighbors are calling the house and even the ranger has shown up to investigate the noise. Maybe it's that the light, maybe it's the fact I still hurt all over, but I'm suddenly seeing red. What happened next is hazy, but when I came back to my senses my phone was impaled on one of their heads while the rest were little blue pancakes under a frying pan. I don't even own a frying pan! But it's quiet, they realize I'm trying to sleep, and they agree to keep things to a low roar.


When I wake up I go outside and break some chunks off that ice field I laid down with the Zamboni to fill an ice pack for my head. My cousins are nowhere to be found, but I learn they're still there when I take a drink of my morning hot chocolate. My drink has been spiked by cayenne chilies. I scream and run to the fridge for some milk, only to find it replaced by Spicy V-8. My tongue burns a hole in that ice field as my cousins laugh and laugh. Somewhere I hear a cracking sound. It's in my head. Suddenly what must be done comes to me. Cackling madly, I grab the leftover chocolate spread, some duct tape, and a rubber chicken. As well as that Spicy V-8.


My cousins see that jar they were noshing on yesterday and immediately run towards it. Instead they wind up trapped in a web of duct tape that launches upwards as soon as they step on it. Giggling uncontrollably, I whack each of them over their heads with the rubber chicken, Terry. Then I force them to take a drink. While they're screaming in agony I tie them all up individually with more duct tape as Terry tells me what to do next. Ship them back to Quebec in a box? Nah, too much postage. Fire them back north with some model rocket engines? Nah, too much work. Force them to watch Pres. Trump's press conferences? Nah, that's too cruel. Finally we hit on the perfect idea: show them the slides from my last vacation!


After a couple of hours they're screaming in horror and running back towards the airport on foot while still bound in silvery strips. When they're gone I realize some things. My home is a wreck, I've gone way over my streaming limit, and I'm talking to a novelty item.


All in all, one of the best visits from my relatives.

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"Intelligent" Species


Every few months a naturalist from the state U comes by. She's convinced the forest animals are smarter than her peers give us credit for. But this time she may have reason to think we really are stupid.


First she came across Moose as he was eating Frito's with bean dip and watching the WWE. It's amazing how dexterously he can maneuver those antlers and that snout, given that he can't stand on his hind legs and he has hooves. But to use it to open a bag of greasy corn chips, dip, and work a remote control? Arguably there's some measure of intelligence there. Most guys do the same things but with fingers and thumbs.


Next she comes across Cecil and Dave dressed in foil hats with plastic horns attached, wielding plastic toothpicks shaped like swords and painted iron gray and two rubber ball haves also painted iron gray. Each taking turns saying, "Fus-ro-dah, bawk!" or Fus-ro-dah, squeak!" as the other pretends to be knocked backwards. Fully grown animals pretending to be the Dragonborn. Then Cecil gets on Dave's back and they pretend to be a mounted warrior and his steed, firing a "crossbow" made from a stick and a rubber band firing twig as bolts.


Finally she comes to my burrow. I've got half a dozen plastic eggs that contained pantyhose with tiny holes drilled in the clear half for air and harnesses made from the pantyhose that used to be inside and the handyman's secret weapon. I couldn't afford the tiny nuts and bolts I would have preferred. Meanwhile I'm also filling up condoms with corn syrup and red food dye and assembling a dragon ten times my size made out of sticks and dead leaves.


While she watches us all from what she believes to be a hidden spot we continue our respective activities. Towards dusk more animals arrive, including six field mice who take shelter in those plastic eggs, while Moose and other larger creatures sit behind them to watch. Cecil and Dave bow before the collected critters and begin to attack that dragon I'd made, hitting the blood packs and causing red fluid to fly everywhere. After half an hour the whole thing collapses and they throw a pair of tiny torches on it. Everybody is clapping and cheering except Moose, who is beginning to feel all that bean dip.


I'm dressed in a rubberized hazmat suit since I was dealing with duct tape, manning a string that will cause a bucket of water to spill over and put out the fire. Suddenly I hear Moose's stomach rumble as he's turned away from the blaze. In a panic I cut the string...only to find the water is not spilling out. Suspended from a tree, it got cold enough to freeze over and be trapped in a shell of ice. The fire isn't high enough to melt the ice but that will soon be rectified.


Screaming, I dive behind a rock as Moose unleashes a flatus that would knock out a skunk. The flames flare and the crowd is given a finale they won't soon forget. Luckily the ice melts and puts out the flames before they can spread. All the animals are applauding, even those field mice whose eggs are covered in fake blood. The naturalist, meanwhile, is tearing up a piece of paper and debating whether or not to destroy the tape in the camcorder she brought. She came to see us doing things that showed signs of intelligence. Instead she saw us doing things that she could have seen by watching one of the frat houses.

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The (Critters') Big Game


It's Super Bowl Sunday. A bunch of henpecked husbands have come to my little vale to eat, drink, and get away from the wives who get after them about their diets while watching a bunch of grown men slam into each other while trying to carry a ball across a field. They arrive early in the day and setup some sort of satellite link to a portable TV, followed by coolers filled with food covered in salt and dripping with saturated fat. One has donuts, pastries, and candies. Another cooler contains several dozen cans of Coors Light--because they want to watch their weight. I recognize these men; they came last year with the same cargo. This time they've brought pup tents that can be assembled in a couple of minutes, giving them more time to eat and watch a bunch of guys.


By the time the game even starts they've consumed half of their food and nearly all of their beer. This year they pass around something new: prescription bottles. Nitroglycerin pills, acid reflux pills, ulcer pills, liver pills, and insulin needles. Before the first quarter is over they get it in their heads to try and do the things they see, still convinced they're the athletes they were thirty years ago. Despite the fact they've treated their like landfills rather than temples. The self-delusion of middle age truly knows no bounds.


From our hiding places, we curious critters try not to laugh as the first of them gets winded running less than a meter. Another spikes the ball and then doubles over in pain with a gas attack. A third, stuffing himself with cheese danish, calls for the throw and catches it in the face; he inhales the half-eaten danish and a fourth must give him the Heimlich maneuver on him. The fifth tries to run a field goal between two trees and winds up getting stuck as his size 50 belly wedges in between them. By now I can't hold back and begin laughing at them hysterically.


They hear me and turn to see a furry blue creature rolling on the ground. With bruised egos and shaky stances, they chase me. All but the one still stuck between the two trees. In response I steal one of the last beers, ducking and dodging them like a seasoned quarterback. That first guy stalls and falls to the ground, clutching his chest in pain. The second tries to grab me but instead gets a handful of dead leaves as he belches a noise I've only ever heard Moose make during mating season. The big guy walks over to him while the third of their number, still holding a bear claw in each hand, lunges for me as toss the beer to Cecil up in a tree. I'm not sure what happened, but when I looked back those bear claws were stuck over his eyes and his arms below the elbows are wriggling freely.


That just leaves the fourth, who is making a "timeout" sign with his hands. Of them all he has the leanest belly and hasn't needed any pills or needles. He's also avoided drinking any booze. He asks that I let him get his friends to the hospital and leave them in peace. That's when I remember he was recording everything with his phone rather than try to relive lost glory or do things his body is no longer able to do. He did the same thing last year and won a prize on some Funniest Videos show. I shrug and walk away calmly, only to hear a scream of terror. Moose is now chasing the second guy who made a sound like another moose in heat. For a heavy guy he gets good speed before another sound cuts through his screaming. His stomach gurgles loudly and he changes direction back to the campsite, grabbing a roll of toilet paper and disappearing into a stand of pine. Thank Mama Nature that a wind blew in just then.


Half an hour later the rangers arrive, along with a couple of ambulances. The first two guys are hauled away on stretchers, while the third is freed when two rangers manage to pull the two young trees he's caught between apart enough for him to slip free, letting the EMTs take him away when he complains of angina. The fifth comes out from the stand of trees and is promptly arrested for improper disposal of his waste in a national park. The fourth is on his phone, talking to his wife and saying something to the effect that she won their bet. Before halftime all the humans are gone, leaving behind their stuff.


We forest critters immediately help ourselves to the food, tuning into Discovery Animal to watch the Puppy Bowl and the new Kitten Bowl. After watching the nonsensical antics of a group of humans, it's a nice change to watch something we can understand.

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Entertaining - I especially liked the naturist snooping on y'all, but that's the typical female reaction to observing male rituals of bonding with their reactions ranging all the way from hysterical screaming to hysterical laughing.  So about this "Tabodi" thing.  What exactly does it mean? 

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3 hours ago, Celedhring said:

Entertaining - I especially liked the naturist snooping on y'all, but that's the typical female reaction to observing male rituals of bonding with their reactions ranging all the way from hysterical screaming to hysterical laughing.  So about this "Tabodi" thing.  What exactly does it mean? 

That's the sound lemmings make. Or about the closest thing humans seem to understand. When I have to talk to humans in person, I have to use one of those monotone talk-and-type terminals that makes me sound like Stephen Hawking.

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Lemming of Gas Destruction


My employers had a retirement party yesterday. One of those potluck deals where the employees provide the food and the drinks while the bosses "graciously host" the party in an unused conference room, provide a token gift for the retiring employee, gorge themselves on the food, and then complain that it isn't haute cuisine. Normally I telecommute, but this was one of those occasions I had to in person. Most city folks don't seem to accept a lemming in a human-sized, human-shaped skeletal rig as a possibility until they see it in person. Even then most either crack up or think their eyes are playing tricks on them. They also don't realize they're superfluous; we animals don't really need them around. It would be an adjustment to get by without things like chocolate spread, satellite TV, fried...Twinkies OKAY! I ADMIT IT! WE NEED YOU SCREWY CREATURES! WE CAN'T GO BACK TO THE WAY THINGS WERE!


Uh, excuse that outburst. Anyway, at the party I'm getting the oddest looks from my fellow working schmucks while management doesn't seem to notice I'm a furry rodent. I guess we look the same once they get promoted. The only good thing about being a small critter in a human's world is it doesn't take much to feed me. Or to stuff myself silly. Someone had brought a five-bean casserole, real chili (no beans in that) spicy enough to send most mortals screaming in agony, and other goodies I just can't help myself around. Between listening to the managers' inane, buzzword filled speeches that ultimately meant nothing and "talking" to others who actually did the real work, I ate. And ate. And ate.


An hour into the party I was looking more like a fuzzy blue ball. At least until the food began to digest in my hyperactive system. That's when the trouble started. All those beans, all those spices, and a can of Pepsi have an effect. I retreated to a corner of the room, hoping my vicinity to an open window would help prevent the inevitable. Instead a breeze was blowing into the room. Too quiet to be heard, in too much pain to stop it, and unwilling to take any blame unless it became obvious, I had to let the pressure go.


After five minutes I was looking a bit less round but folks were noticing something...off. After ten minutes they were covering their noses. And after thirty minutes the chemical alarm on the ceiling exploded. I've never seen humans stampede like that except after a soccer game when they rushed out of the room. When I walked out I couldn't quite manage the little levers of my rig and looked woozy. Nobody even looked twice when I excused myself from the party early. This morning there was a rumor among the cubicle convicts about an attempted terrorist attack on the party.


Next party, I'm taking some bicarbonate of soda with me.

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The Pain of Blue Ball


I headed into town to see my vet about recurring stomach issues today. Months earlier I had an MRI scan of the problem area done, but never heard back. I learned I have a hernia just above where my bellybutton would be if lemmings had bellybuttons. It certainly explains quite a few things. Like why that area of my fuzzy little tummy is so sensitive. And what happened over the weekend when I had to finish off some cans of beans and soda that were nearing their expiration date. Lemmings hate to waste money.


Settling in with a bowl of Busch's and (root) beer, I spend my Saturday vegetating on the touch. For added safety I put a warning sign on my front door about toxic gasses so nobody bothers me. As I watch cooking shows on one of the two local PBS stations, all the while waiting for The This Old House Hour after them, I notice the remote is getting harder to reach. When I finally look down I notice that I'm getting rounder. Instead of my fur puffing up this time, my whole body is inflating like a balloon. A belch causes some shrinkage, and eating more of my meal causes me to grow. Now I'm torn; stop eating and avoid a painful fate or let perfectly good food go to waste, wasting the money spent?


An hour later the food is gone and I'm just missing a string attached to my butt to complete the image. Now in horrible pain, I ask myself why I chose this? Was it that important I not waste a couple of dollars? Am I really that much of a guy to talk myself into a lose-lose situation like this?


As I ponder my fate, Cecil stops by. What are (male) friends but folks who take advantage of your pain? I soon find myself outside as he and Dave decide to pretend I'm a dragon and charge me. I go flying backwards against a tree...and bounce back towards them. There's nothing so disturbing as seeing a gerbil and a chicken soil themselves in a panic as their prey rebounds back at them. That convinces them to take the kid gloves off and get "tough." Which means bouncing me against a small boulder and chanting, "Back, ye vile wyrm! Back!"


This dragon couldn't breathe fire, but all that bouncing just shook up all the beans and root beer, so I was able to loose a "horrific roar" and release some "foul vapors." The first stirred up the birds in the trees, while the second caused them to fall from the sky. Meanwhile Cecil and Dave are laughing hysterically. By then I'm no longer a bouncy blue ball and more of a sickly green sack wobbling back to my burrow for some Alka-Seltzer.


Now to plot some sweet revenge on those two. I might need to consult with Terry the Evil Rubber Chicken for ideas.

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Babes in the Woods: Modern Families


Ever year someone comes to my little glen during Presidents' Day Weekend. Usually it's a bunch of guys out for some "male bonding" time. Sometimes, though, it's a family trying to get back in touch with those "innocent times" when families ate dinner together and shared conversations. The pre-smartphone era. This is one of those times and the results are no less gory than if it was a bunch of amateur hunters.


The four of them arrived Friday evening, after the kids got out of school and the parents got off of work. You can tell when people haven't ever been camping because they don't try to learn how to setup a tent before going into the woods. Or they fail to consider how scarce ready firewood really is in winter and don't pack a hatchet. Or they try to figure out where the bathrooms are. At least they remembered the toilet paper because there are no leaves outside of evergreen needles right now. You can try using a pine cone but I wouldn't recommend it.


Dad is one of those white-collar cubicle convicts trying to relive fond memories of camping with his dad twenty-plus years ago who has no idea what he's doing. Mom is a working woman trying to balance the demands of a family, career, and not throttling her husband for just being a guy who "doesn't get it." The eldest child is a daughter who has clearly never been anywhere near the wilderness outside of a city park and who can't live without her social media. The youngest is a son who's also an athlete and is at least trying to have fun out in the cold and at least remembers a few things from scouts.


Dad struggles for two hours with a tent that should go up in fifteen minutes if you know what you're doing, then can't get a fire going because his wood is wet and he's failed to allow for airflow. Mom is arguing with him because it's getting darker and it will take a couple of hours to finish cooking something in a dutch oven once said fire is lit. Sis is walking all over and holding her phone up and down like some yoga practitioner trying in vain to find a network. Junior, meanwhile, is taking the time his parents are using to yell at each other to rebuild the fire properly with dry wood and proper ventilation so it catches in seconds. Dad congratulates him but is clearly trying to hide his own emasculation.


Meanwhile I'm watching bemused in my comfy warm burrow with a mug of hot chocolate while streaming something on Netflix.


They retire to their tent after huddling around a fire, all of them shivering and not saying a word, failing to have brought a heater or even put some rocks in the fire to act as radiant heat sources. It snows that night and by morning there is a blanket of white on the ground. When I come out to clear my front with a tiny little snowblower, dad is up and once more trying light a fire that just won't catch. Mom is once more running him through the wringer while sis is huddled inside the tent and rocking in the throes of serious social media withdrawal. Once more it falls to junior to get a fire going and dad is once more trying to hide his severe emasculation. None of them seem to notice the little lemming in mittens, a scarf, and a woolen cap clearing snow off of his front porch a mere ten feet away.


After breakfast they go out for a nature walk, returning only after they realize they've been walking in circles for several hours. By now I'm getting embarrassed just watching them as they all sit down and wince when they touch their feet. I thought those shoes looked too new to have been broken in. Now their feet are blistered to the point of nearly bleeding.


Dad and mom huddle around a weak fire as sis starts giggling hysterically and junior does the smart thing by getting more wood and referring to a battered copy of the Scout's Handbook. This time he puts rocks in the fire and fashions tongs out of strips of green wood to pull them out once they're hot when he gets back. Perhaps in pity, or because she's starting to freak me out, I sneak over to sis's phone and input my network password. It's sad to see someone go all to pieces because their ego can't get constant reassurance from complete strangers they'll never meet.


That's the last night they spend here as the next day all four of them are forced to leave early and seek medical attention for their bleeding feet. By then dad's practically a eunuch, mom is eating him alive for dragging them on some idiotic trip, sis's phone has "mysteriously" lost the network connection it had the day before, and junior is the only one doing any work. Within a week none of them will really remember the painful lessons learned as the minutiae of their lives consumes them. Lessons like always break in your footwear before going out in the woods, plugged-in teens suffer from severe separation anxieties without constant access to social media, and that you can't go back if you don't know how to get there to begin with.


They didn't so much "get away from it all" as "brought it all with them."

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Meet the New Neighbor


If you watch the "Ask A Lemming" thread, you might know I have a new neighbor. Melissa, the white mouse, the galaxy's most intelligent species. Lemmings fall third, behind dolphins and ahead of cows. Since mice don't dwell in the ocean, it seems I'm the closest thing to an intellectual equal she could find. It wasn't bad at first. We discussed such weighty topics as quantum relativity, literary classics, and why humans keep buying lottery tickets when most of them never win a thing. We helped the other explore their freakiest sexual fantasies (there's a reason why "geeky" and "kinky" rhyme) without any judgments or preconceptions. And she shared her recipe for candied pecans while I shared my recipe for a spicy fondue that won't burn your mouth.


Things started going weird even for me rather quickly. And not always in the bedroom. My smart toaster developed sentience and wouldn't stop talking about toast, getting agitated if I wasn't eating toast all the time. I was finally forced to commit first degree toaster-cide when I couldn't take it anymore. I woke up one day to find her basting the boys in a strawberry sauce. My coffeemaker I use to brew hot chocolate went on strike because of that fact until I explained I don't drink coffee--and disconnected some of its circuits while it was unplugged. The pizza delivery person didn't want a tip but wanted the answer to life, the galaxy, and everything ("42"). And today I discovered nanites exploring a galaxy in my dirty laundry basket after having a dream that I was a sofa and while Melissa basted the boys in orange sauce while I was asleep.


She seems to like fruity nuts and my life has turned into a bizarre hybrid of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Red Dwarf. Both the original novels and the movie/Britcom. I'm just hoping I don't find my home being demolished by some hyper-bureaucratic aliens and I've gotten a roommate like Arnold Rimmer.

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The Killer Job


Today my doctor told me my job is literally killing me. The stress is giving me high blood pressure, chronic stomach issues, and that my soul was slowly being devoured by my bosses. That would explain those jars with the wispy images of my coworkers in my manager's office. I thought they were just some sort of gag. Instead doc confirmed that, like insurance companies, management survives on sheer ignorance of what they're really in charge of and the very life of those who fall into their little traps. I believe humans call them "cubicles."


It also explains some of the things I've noticed whenever I have to visit the office. Bill, a coworker of mine, was an upbeat and lively person when he was hired five years ago. Now he has a thousand-yard stare and giggles manically as he tries to staple his fingers to a manila folder. Joan, once someone who wanted to improve things, now spends eighteen hours a day working on nonsensical slideshows and phony graphs to convince our manager that everything is working fine--and just barely succeeds. Murray...poor Murray; the thinning gray hair, the wrinkles and liver spots, the nervous shaking, and he just turned thirty-five.


I don't work with a lot of other people as a systems engineer. Usually I can work from home. Most of my coworkers are more than willing to step on me; I am only eight inches tall. But when it becomes necessary for me to go in, that means something has gone horribly wrong. Once I thought my coworkers were just idiots, but lately I've noticed the signs of a far more sinister force at work. Jules, who has a master's in math, struggled to figure out which slot a plastic star was supposed to fit through in a hollow red and blue plastic ball. Amy, who could write an entirely new operating system in only a few hours, now keeps walking into walls because she can't figure out going through a door. Both have been there the longest. The little jars with their souls are practically empty.


One of the execs came down from on high to perform a personal review. Lisa, a devout Catholic, brought in a glass vial of holy water to bless her cubicle. The exec mistook it for bottled water and drank it; he dissolved into a puddle of reeking goo shortly after. Even the floor manager refuses to go into her cubicle because she hanged a crucifix on one wall of it. Not out of any religious offense, his skin turns a pasty gray color and his pointy hair turns into horns whenever he gets too close. Adam wears a Star of David amulet under his shirt and the boss can't get within thirty feet of him.


I doubt he's from Hell, though. Even Satan demands a certain level of competence from his minions. Every time I try to explain to him that what's sent through a fax doesn't go anywhere physically, he just gets this blank look and asks me how he can save money by faxing himself to wherever he's vacationing. I quit trying to understand why he still has a fax machine at all. I hacked into his smartphone's camera and watched him and the other execs eat lobster and steak in a hidden lunch room; he thinks you're supposed to eat the shell as well as the meat. And he still hasn't figured out how to dial "9" to get an outside line on the phones; he calls IT and thinks he's really called his wife and talks dirty. It's actually funny to see his eyes bug out when folks "accidentally" repeat something he thought he said to his wife.


My doctor isn't crazy. My soul is being devoured by ignorant, fiendish managers and a soulless bureaucracy. Distance from the office only provides partial protection since I saw my soul in a jar there. A wire on my human rig snapped and the left arm knocked it off the shelf and shattered it yesterday. That's when I became aware of what was going on. I don't want to end up like the others, so I submitted my two weeks notice today. After that I will be rehired on a contractual basis for five times the pay while I go back to college to earn the certification to become a lab technician. Now I just need to find a lemming-sized lab coat...

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Unfortunately the skills of politics are far more important to reaching management positions then management skills add a dash of promotion to incompantacy as tends to be the case and Eureka nobody knows what the hell is happening or how to do what they need to do.

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4 hours ago, isahale said:

Unfortunately the skills of politics are far more important to reaching management positions then management skills add a dash of promotion to incompantacy as tends to be the case and Eureka nobody knows what the hell is happening or how to do what they need to do.

Tabodi! :classic_smile:

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The Lair of Lemmingway


Last night I had the most bizarre dream. I was watching myself from a third-person perspective in a small, Skyrim-esque house as the Dragonborn asked about certain books. When he'd selected one, I put in something into a tiny little dwemer terminal and watched as books cycled on a vertical conveyor belt until the one I wanted came up and slid into an access slot. I used the Telekinesis to grab it and bring it over, only the spell failed just as the book was hovering over me and I was squashed flat as a pancake, even looking like a blue disc with my face stretched out on the ground when the Dragonborn picked up the book. At a nearby arcane circle there was a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder as I was resurrected anew, saying, "Tabodi tabodi (I hate it when that happens)."


"Later" in the dream the Dragonborn came in for another book. This time instead of paying me for the book he stepped on me, scraping me off the underside of his boots with a stick. Once I'd resurrected I went at him with a Bound Sword spell floating in the air, chasing him off.


The last part of the dream I saw myself going after the Dragonborn as a thirty foot tall giant, eventually stomping him into a puddle of goo and laughing maniacally as I rampaged around Skyrim.


When I woke up I thought that would make a great mod. But three things stopped me. The first is, thanks to my Canadian cousins, my visage is legally copyrighted by some French-Canadian cartoon studio because we look so alike. The second is that I can't mod beyond making a custom plug-in to alter basic things like weight, damage, or whatever else is made explicitly possible in the CK. And the third? It would require 3-D modelling, which I have no skill or interest in.


"Damn it, Jim. I'm a writer, not a modder." :classic_tongue:

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