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35 posts from April 2006

Well my mind is gettin' dirty, yeah, around eleven thirty...

The conversation between G and me continued late into the week. Of course, we veered away from the topic of my domain registration in Hell to one a bit closer to home.

As a note, this is pretty typical of the two of us when we get on e-mail.

Me [in reference to the fact I just posted his revised Web page]: "It's up."

G: "Excuse me?!?!?! That is between you and your lovely wife."

Me: "I never realized this was a problem for you. I can give you tips. Really it's not nearly as difficult as your life may have made it out to be. Stand strong, little camper! We'll fix your... er... wagon."

G: "I didn't say I am jealous... I just said that was TMI. You do not have to go around and e-mail everyone when you are in excite mode."

Me: "And it was TMI to inadvertently find out that you were jealous of my ability to do this. I mean, everyone has their "shortcomings." No need to advertise it, dude."

G: "I said that I am NOT jealous....... don't mix up my words, O Erect One!!! Just don't point that thing at me."

Me: "But your constant insistence that you are "NOT jealous" only leads me to believe that you are, in fact, ravenously jealous. It's a bit like reverse psychology... by talking about not being jealous, you're just covering up the fact that you are. Admit you have a problem, it's the first step in recovery."

G: "Mr Priapism, ha!  I am married with 2 young children - I am too fertile for my own good.  I have    
testosterone to spare!!!!!! Who needs me, I shout????"

Me: "I hear those children look nothing like you, though. Don't kill the messenger. Just a vicious rumor that's been floating around your office for the last couple years and, somehow, made its way across the street. Can't figure out how."

G: "Now I must kill you!"

I can't wait to see how this one ends.


If I was a rich girl, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah...

I got this one from Suze at Work in Progress... who, in turn, got it from Danigirl at Postcards from the Mothership.

Are you spoiled?
You are if you can BOLD 40 or more of the following:

Do you have...

  • your own cell phone - well, yeah... do people actually share 'em?
  • a television in your bedroom
  • an iPod - two, but I'm only going to count them as one
  • a photo printer
  • your own phone line - well, we own our own place, so I guess this would constitute our own phone line
  • TiVo or a generic digital video recorder
  • high-speed internet access
  • a surround sound system in bedroom
  • DVD player in bedroom
  • at least a hundred DVDs
  • a childfree bathroom - can't really count this one as all our bathrooms are "childfree" for the time being
  • your own in-house office - it's a combination guest bedroom/office; but it gets used more as a guest bedroom
  • a pool
  • a guest house
  • a game room
  • a queen-size bed
  • a stocked bar - does a cabinet with a half dozen bottles count?
  • a working dishwasher
  • an icemaker
  • a working washer and dryer
  • more than 20 pairs of shoes
  • at least ten things from a designer store
  • expensive sunglasses
  • framed original art (not lithographs or prints)
  • Egyptian cotton sheets or towels
  • a multi-speed bike
  • a gym membership
  • large exercise equipment at home
  • your own set of golf clubs
  • Misciversonblinga pool table
  • a tennis court
  • local access to a lake, large pond, or the sea
  • your own pair of skis
  • enough camping gear for a weekend trip in an isolated area
  • a boat
  • a jet ski
  • a neighborhood committee membership
  • a beach house or a vacation house/cabin
  • wealthy family members
  • two or more family cars
  • a walk-in closet or pantry
  • a yard
  • a hammock
  • a personal trainer - we did, but not anymore; and only because they are our friends and gave us a big discount
  • good credit
  • expensive jewelry - not me, but Katie; and it's not that expensive; not exactly Allen Iverson grade bling here (see right)
  • a designer bag that required being on a waiting list to get
  • at least $100 cash in your possession right now - sheyah, right
  • more than two credit cards bearing your name
  • a stock portfolio
  • a passport
  • a horse
  • a trust fund - I did, but it paid for some of my college
  • private medical insurance - when they say "private," I'm assuming this means "outside what you're offered at work," right?
  • a college degree, and no outstanding student loans

Do you:

  • shop for non-needed items for yourself (like clothes, jewelry, electronics) at least once a week - only when shopping for music at the iTunes Music Store
  • do your regular grocery shopping at high-end or specialty stores
  • pay someone else to clean your house, do dishes, or launder your clothes
  • go on weekend mini-vacations - not yet, but soon
  • send dinners back with every flaw
  • wear perfume or cologne (not body spray) - very rarely
  • regularly get your hair styled or nails done in a salon
  • have a job but don't need the money OR stay at home with little financial sacrifice
  • pay someone else to cook your meals
  • pay someone else to watch your children or walk your dogs
  • regularly pay someone else to drive you
  • expect a gift after you fight with your partner

Are you:

  • an only child
  • married/partnered to a wealthy person - we both wish
  • baffled/surprised when you don't get your way

Have you:

  • been on a cruise
  • traveled out of the country
  • met a celebrity
  • been to the Caribbean
  • been to Europe
  • been to Hong Kong
  • been to Hawaii
  • been to New York - born there; that shouldn't count
  • eaten at the space needle in Seattle
  • been to the Mall of America - never struck me as "exotic"
  • been on the Eiffel tower in Paris
  • been on the Statue of Liberty in New York
  • moved more than three times because you wanted to
  • dined with local political figures
  • been to both the Atlantic coast and the Pacific coast

Did you:

  • go to another country for your honeymoon
  • hire a professional photographer for your wedding or party
  • take riding or swimming lessons as a child - swimming through the local park district; that, too, shouldn't really count
  • attend private school
  • have a Sweet 16 birthday party thrown for you - I think some friends and I went and saw Good Morning, Vietnam; not really worthy of MTV's My Super Sweet 16 or anything.

Missed the cutoff by four. Phew! And some of those are even questionable.

As always, no tags; but feel free to steal.


If you start me up...

I've had a couple people talk to me lately about the potential of starting up blogs of their own. But they've never done anything quite like it before and are curious as to what all is involved.

I've been "blogging" for quite some time now in one form or another (if you check my monthly archives, you'll see a radically different looking site prior to June 2005). Be it static HTML or Blogware like Typepad, I've been keeping an online journal since March 1998. Hard to believe it's been that long.

I'm not trying to profess that I'm some kind of expert on the topic, far from it, in fact. There are a lot of technical questions to which I do not know the answers. But I feel that I can help in some ways and I'd like to try to do just that for up-and-coming bloggers. I love what I do and if I can instill the same love of the art in someone else, yeah, I'll do it.

My one friend -- some of you may have seen him commenting here under the moniker MadIrishMan -- wants to start up a sports blog. I think MIM would be great at it. He has a lot to say about sports (I know firsthand) and has a definite opinion that he would like to share. He's tried it on some message boards, but the boards failed to muster up much attention (not his fault, he wasn't admining them, just contributing content). I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with him the other day giving him some basic blogger information and I really look forward to whether or not he actually does it.

But, I'd like to share a few points with anyone who may be considering blogging:

1. Blogging is a commitment

I know blogging may sound like a "cool" thing to do, but it's also a commitment. When you start to write and you find your voice and gain an audience, a level of expectation winds up being set, whether you realize it or not. It's an implied contract between you and your readers. If you start out writing every day, people are going to expect the trend to continue.

The attention span of the average Netizen is very short (I don't have exact numbers), and this does translate to tolerance level as well. Think about it from your own perspective... if you visit a site that you like and suddenly it's not updated on as regular a basis as it was or maybe weeks pass and nothing happens at all, are you going to keep checking back? Well, you're not the only one who is like that.

If this scares you, try just typing up potential posts for a few weeks beforehand. Pick a number of times per week that you want to write and give it a shot. That's your target and now you must see if you can keep up with it. No, a few weeks is not a long time. But, it tends to be enough to discover if writing on a schedule is the thing for you.

I'll be honest, if there's any one thing I hate about the Blogosphere, it's when bloggers go the way of the Dodo. Some will announce their impending departure and give reasons. Those people I can respect, there's a reason why their blog is dying (personal, professional, etc.). But these are the rare cases.

The majority of blogs that "die" are really just abandoned. They just sit there in limbo, sans updates, collecting e-dust and being comment spammed by everyone and their mother.

This I hate.

2. Topic or no topic?

There are benefits and fallbacks to both.

While having a specific topic can be a good thing, it is not entirely necessary. I really don't have a specific topic at all and I've still wrangled up a few regular readers here and there (I love you all!). But, arguably, having a fixed topic can gain you an even wider range of loyal readers. I was just looking at a political blog out there and this guy's comments number in the hundreds on a daily basis. And he's only been doing this for about the same amount of time as me, to boot. Would I like those sorts of numbers? Maybe. But I don't want to give up what I've got by limiting myself to a fixed set of topics. I'd get bored. But that's just me.

If you have a passion for one arena, then blog it! But remember the implied contract I spoke of in point 1. Much like when you start blogging a certain number of times per week, if you start by blogging about one thing all the time, your readers are going to expect that on a regular basis. If you suddently jump tracks, you risk alienating your loyal readers. So make a decision before you start and stick to it.

Just ask Rosie O'Donnell. I believe her "track jumping" was what killed her talk show. She was the queen of daytime so long as she was her fun-loving self. The second she went Psycho-Politico, her show died because her viewers felt alienated (this is not proven, just my theory). Hell, I stopped giving a rat's ass after she tore into Tom Selleck and his involvement in the NRA.

If you want to change subject matter, start a new blog. You can cross promote, sure. But don't force one group of readers to have to wade through content they don't want to see on a blog where it doesn't "belong" (in their eyes, of course).

3. Design, design, design

For the most part, your blogware will dictate what you can and cannot do with your blog. Some blogware packages allow for greater freedom than others in terms of design.

Let me share something with you that was told to me when I first started taking both marketing and Web design classes...

K.I.S.S.

And, no, I'm not talking about the 70s glam metal band featuring Gene "I'll Bet My Tongue Can Tickle Your Lower Intestines" Simmons. In the marketing realm, this stands for either "Keep It Short and Sweet" or "Keep It Simple, Stupid." I prefer the latter.

Misctpwidgets It is far too easy to logjam your site full of little bits of glitz and glam that really don't do much to enhance the overall reading experience. I was a sucker for this myself. TypePad offers up a bunch of sidebar features and "widgets" that you can use to add content to your site. And, let me tell ya, they can be very pretty to look at sometimes.

But, don't fall victim to this stuff just because it looks nice. Make sure that what you want to add is going to be a benefit to your readers and not just there "because you can." If you're sitting there for several minutes debating whether it will be a good thing, then it's probably not. Or if you're coming up with a brainful of reasons why you shouldn't use it and the only thing you can come up with as a plus is that it's "sooo pretty/cool/nifty," run. away.

I had a lot of different features on my site that I thought were cool at the time and I have since deactivated them simply because it's just unnecessary fluff. This determination, of course, is purely subjective. Each person needs to make their own decision as to what is good for their site and what is not. While sports headlines might not work well in my sidebar, they could be a great add on for MIM. Who knows?

I read a great post a little bit ago on Citizen of the Month about blogware and blogger add ons that anyone might find of interest. Make sure you read into the comments section, as well, as Neil's readers offer some great insights of their own. Make sure you have some time on your hands, too; there are a ton of comments on this post.

Another great bit came from Secondhand Tryptophan yesterday. Karl writes about what things on sites annoy the everloving crap out of him. And, to be honest, I see eye-to-eye with him on nearly every point he makes.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for help

If you have a blogger friend, never be afraid to ask them for advice, comments, criticism, etc. You may feel like you're imposing, but, more often than not, they are more than willing to help out. Each of us are part of one giant global community of writers.

Heck, my decision to switch from static HTML to XML-based blogware was heavily influenced by information given to me by Dave at Blogography. He really helped me to understand what was what and how some of these features like RSS feeds could help me.


I don't mean to frighten anyone away from blogging. I pray I did not. If anything, I hope I gave you something useful to think about to help you refine your site and make it something great.

Now if only I could turn this little rat trap into "something great."

Damn, too late. You all have already come to expect mind-numbing crap from me. I wouldn't want to disappoint.


Hell, hell no... where do we belong?

This has been an ongoing conversation between a friend of mine who works with me named G (not as in "G Money" or "G Love and Special Sauce") for the last couple of days.

He e-mailed asking if I could make some updates to his department's Web site. Since I am a Web developer, this does fall under my scope of responsibilities.

G: "On [such and such] page, can you make [such and such] change?"

Me: "Where's my money?!?!"

G: "Who needs money when I can offer you your own domain in Hell? www.kevinruleshades.hel."

Me: "Your change will go up on Friday after I take down [such and such] page, is that cool? This is, of course, pending the registration of kevinruleshades.hel. I need hard-copy confirmation before I'll proceed."

G: "Friday sounds good to me. Thank you for all your hard work!!! You now rule over the hellish domain set aside for our current Republican leaders!!!!!!!!!"

Me: "Does that make me one of them or does it just give me the right to make their afterlives a living hell?"

G: "You have power over their souls for an eternity or 8 years, whichever comes first. :)"

Me: "I'd better make sure to take full advantage of those two terms in hell, eh?"

MisckevinsatanSo I am now apparently Satan.

I think this is a pretty cool step up in my professional work experience. Strikes me as a logical career step, anyway.

This sort of thing has got to look great on a resume, am I right?

Seriously, if it was between some random schmoe who has worked steadily for a company or two in his career and could possibly offer up his meager Rolodex of clients and me, the former Overlord of Hell, who would you hire?

I'm a lock!

Hot damn, red is so me!


What's your name, little girl?

For the last few days, I've been reading Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. It's really a good book even if you have no interest in economics whatsoever and I do recommend it highly (review will be posted, I hope, sometime later today).

In the book, Levitt and Dubner tackle all kinds of topics that you might not normally consider to be related to the field of economics. For example, they equate schoolteachers to sumo wrestlers, the Ku Klux Klan to real estate agents, etc.

In the final chapter of the book, however, they talk about how a person's name may or may not affect their life. They ask the question of whether or not someone can expect to have better luck if they have one name as opposed to another. And they provide lists upon lists of first names and correlate them to income, class, education, etc.

Being that Katie and I do want to have children in the next few years, it was interesting to search through these lists and see how the potential names we have chosen are ranked. I wanted to duplicate a couple of the lists here for your enjoyment and pray that neither Levitt and Dubner nor their publishers come after me. I am giving adequate credit, right?

Bear in mind that these statistics were compiled based on names and income levels for children born in the state of California. And, before you call me a dumbass, I realize that my personal analysis of these lists is completely ridiculous. I'm just doing it for shits and giggles.

Miscfreakonomics The Twenty "Whitest" Girl Names:

  1. Molly
  2. Amy
  3. Claire
  4. Emily
  5. Katie
  6. Madeline
  7. Katelyn
  8. Emma
  9. Abigail
  10. Carly
  11. Jenna
  12. Heather
  13. Katherine
  14. Caitlin
  15. Kaitlin
  16. Holly
  17. Allison
  18. Kaitlyn
  19. Hannah
  20. Kathryn

The Twenty "Whitest" Boy Names:

  1. Jake
  2. Connor
  3. Tanner
  4. Wyatt
  5. Cody
  6. Dustin
  7. Luke
  8. Jack
  9. Scott
  10. Logan
  11. Cole
  12. Lucas
  13. Bradley
  14. Jacob
  15. Garrett
  16. Dylan
  17. Maxwell
  18. Hunter
  19. Brett
  20. Colin

Based on this, we have one boy's and one girl's name on the list. So, our kids will obviously be decidedly white. I guess. It should be a given considering Katie and I, but that little bit of reassurance goes a long way. Heh.

Most Common High-End White Girl Names:

  1. Alexandra
  2. Lauren
  3. Katherine
  4. Madison
  5. Rachel

Most Common Low-End White Girl Names:

  1. Amber
  2. Heather
  3. Kayla
  4. Stephanie
  5. Alyssa

Most Common High-End White Boy Names:

  1. Benjamin
  2. Samuel
  3. Jonathan
  4. Alexander
  5. Andrew

Most Common Low-End White Boy Names:

  1. Cody
  2. Brandon
  3. Anthony
  4. Justin
  5. Robert

Well, none of our names fall on any of these lists. Apparently, we are destined to be very middle of the road. That's not an entirely bad thing.

These final lists of names kinda weird me out a bit. Check them out...

The Twenty White Girl Names That
Best Signify High-Education Parents:

  1. Lucienne
  2. Marie-Claire
  3. Glynnis
  4. Adair
  5. Meira
  6. Beatrix
  7. Clementine
  8. Philippa
  9. Aviva
  10. Flannery
  11. Rotem
  12. Oona
  13. Atara
  14. Linden
  15. Waverly
  16. Zofia
  17. Pascale
  18. Eleanora
  19. Elika
  20. Neeka

The Twenty White Boy Names That
Best Signify High-Education Parents:

  1. Dov
  2. Akiva
  3. Sander
  4. Yannick
  5. Sacha
  6. Guillaume
  7. Elon
  8. Ansel
  9. Yonah
  10. Tor
  11. Finnegan
  12. MacGregor
  13. Florian
  14. Zev
  15. Beckett
  16. Kia
  17. Ashkon
  18. Harper
  19. Sumner
  20. Calder

What the hell kinds of names are these? So I have to give my kid a last name or name them after a magazine or I'm doomed to be lumped in as "uneducated"? Do any of you know a single person, personally, that has one of these names? I don't. Not with these spellings, at least. I know plenty that have them as last names, but certainly not as first names.

Okay, I realize that these names, as stated a few times by Levitt and Dubner, do not serve as an idicator of what will be for your child or for yourselves, they are merely a trend analysis. But does it make you wonder? Does it make you want to reconsider your kids' names at all?

For me... nah. I did find it fascinating to read about, though.

Oh, and for the record, "Kevin" was the #9 most popular black boy name in 1990. But I dropped off the list by 2000. Damn.

UPDATE:
Here's the link to the FWDT review of Freakonomics.


I have become cumbersome...

I love when companies solicit the help of fans in a big decision sort of situation. Okay, not that I'm being asked to help save the world or anything. Just assist those that assist he who actually does save the world, each week for 24 weeks straight on FOX.

That man is, of course, Jack Bauer.

And the crew behind the DVD box sets of the show 24 are asking fans to help pick the box design for the fifth season DVD set of the show. The set has not been officially announced yet as the season is still going, but it's likely to be out sometime in August or September if past season set releases are any indication.

They have five potential designs available and the online survey asks you to pick your favorite. When you click submit, they then ask you to rank the other four in order of preference. The next page asks for your contact information (name, birthdate, and e-mail address) as well as asking you to type why you picked the way you did.

Misc24designs

I actually picked the first one as my favorite. It's very dark and sparse as this entire season has been and I really dig the minimalist nature of it. The fifth one was my next choice because of the goldtone color they use that fits in nicely with all the promotional pieces that came out to market the fifth season. Plus, I think the spines of both of these choices fit best with seasons 1-4. Number 4 was my number 3 and only because I just really don't like the collage-style covers of options 2 and 3. In all honesty, I really don't like options 2-4 at all. 1 and 5 are the only choices I like.

After you pick the box art you like and give them all that information, they then ask you to pick what kind of storage options you prefer. Traditionally, the 24 sets have been sold in the DigiPak style used on the left. This time around, however, they're considering using the ThinPak style on the right.

Misc24packaging

In all honesty, I hate Digipaks. They're unwieldy as hell because you keep unfolding them continuously to find the damn disc you want. And, when the set has six DVDs, this can be really cumbersome. The ThinPaks are the really slim DVD snap cases like what is used in Seinfeld DVD sets. They are the same height and width dimensions of a standard DVD case, but half the thickness. I much prefer ThinPaks as you can carry around the individual discs without having to lug around that big mother of a DigiPak.

But I chose the DigiPak. Why?

Because I'm also a big fan of continuity. If my first four DVD sets are DigiPaks, then I want the fifth one to be the same. If they switch to ThinPak for the fifth season, the box will be about 2/3 the thickness of the other sets. I'm slightly OCD, so this would bug the hell out of me. Unless, of course, they offer me the option of swapping out all my original packages for ThinPaks. That would be pretty dang sweet!

And, hey, I forgot to mention... if you complete the survey, you are entered to win seasons 1-4 on DVD and you get an instant $5 savings coupon at the Fox online store. If one of you happens to win, let me know. It'd be cool to think I guided the winner over to the site. Also, since I forgot to pay attention myself, see if you can find out when the actual drawing of winners is slated to occur.

If I win, however, I'm not sure what I'll do as I already own seasons 1-4 on DVD. Trade? Sell? Giveaway? I dunno.

So get over there and complete the survey!


We run for youthanasia...

I know that parents will say that the worst thing that could possibly happen would be to outlive their children.

I watched a couple of shows yesterday that made me think that this may not really be the whole truth. After reading this, I think you'll agree that pubescent genocide may be permissible in some instances.

After returning home from opening the gym, Katie and Jen (our future sister-in-law who stayed at our place last night because my brother was out of town on business) were watching TV. After we finished the last episode from the season 1 DVD set of Grey's Anatomy, they flipped back to live TV and the channel was set to MTV. I guess they had been watching the new Nick Lachey special before putting in the G.A. DVDs.

Miscmtvlogo Now, however, MTV was airing something called My Super Sweet 16. It's some horridly ridiculous show about spoiled little bitches getting everything they want, and more, on their 16th birthday. It's ludicrous just what these little pains in the asses are allowed to get away with. They whine, they gripe, they cry, they call their parents idiots and worse.... and they get away with it. And MTV is giving them a soapbox from which to decry how "unfair" their lives are, as in this one case, simply because one girl's mom opted for different centerpieces for the party that saved the family $3,000.

$3,000!?!? No, that's not the cost of the centerpieces. That's how much they saved by opting for cheaper ones. God only knows how much they actually cost.

After MSS16 was another show called Tiara Girls about girls trying to win beauty pageants and the parents that feed this obsession. In this instance, I couldn't tell who was worse, the girl or the parents. The girl was spoiled to the point of spending $3,600 on a dress for a single pageant event, but her parents were constantly berating her lack of devotion to "the craft."

Describing it as "the craft" is about the most accurate thing about this whole ordeal. Likening these girls to witches is perfection, simply put.

I'm not the first one to say this, I'm not going to be the last, but what the hell happened to you, MTV? Why are you catering to this bullshit? I can understand the desire to grow and mature as a television network. To spread your creative wings and try something new and daring. But, how does this sort of programming constitute "growth," "maturity," and "daring"?

Somebody recently told me that MTV still plays music.

When?


Come say hello to Jesus...

I wanted to take a moment and give a shout out to a site that I've been frequenting lately. The site is relatively new to the blogosphere, although the site's author has been with us all along.

We all know Him, we all love Him (unless you're an Atheist... and that's okay by me... no judgment), it's Jesus H. Christ himself on his own blog, Emails From Jesus!

Basically, JC answers e-mails and comments that are thrown his way from anyone and everyone and on absolutely any topic whatsoever. It really is a great site with some wonderful wit and just goes to show that the Big JC does have one heckuva sense of humor as I'd always suspected.

MiscemailsfromjesusHow about some examples as proof?

Yo Jesus,

How is it hanging? I was just looking at your profile and it seems that you are not as infaliable as you would have us believe. You see if you were born on 25th December your star sign is actually Capricorn.

Can I be given a free pass to heaven for spotting the mistake?

Kenny

Dearest Kenny,

It's hangin' just fine, thank you.  And you are correct, son, if I was born on December 25th, my sign would be Capricorn.  Little word of advice: don't believe everything you hear, dude.

No free pass to Heaven today...but how's about some leftover easter Peeps?

Jesus

Or one of my personal favorites...

I'm like totally f-ed off that it rains here in London so much.

-EnglishRanter

Dear Ranter,

God is crying because of Madonna's new accent. I say you blokes kick her out.

-JHC

Of course, if you would like to read what the man has to say as he says it, you can subscribe to his divine feed.

And I would like to point out that it's not intentional that I happen to be blogging about this site on this particular day. It just happened to work out. Call it "divine intervention," if you will.

In case you're curious, our Heavenly Father does have a MySpace profile as well. He's pretty hip like that. Will you be His friend?


There we were, just we 3...

Stole this one from SJ at Chronic Listaholic. I seem to prefer to do memes on weekends. Works nicely.

Three schools you went to:
Although there are a lot more than just three in the grand scheme of things, I'll keep it to just major universities for simplicity's sake

  1. Iowa State University
  2. Northern Illinois University
  3. Aurora University

Three things in your purse/wallet:

  1. Bank card, credit cards, etc.
  2. Engagement photo of Katie and me
  3. A Firewire sticker I tore off an iPod cable (don't ask)

Three things you do when you're really stressed:

  1. Blog
  2. Eat (not the healthiest response, I'm sure)
  3. Work out (considering #2, this is probably a good thing)

Three favorite places to shop at:

  1. Border's Books and Music
  2. Best Buy
  3. iTunes Music Store

Three places you go to on a daily basis:

  1. TypePad (how I bring you all these wonderful posts; "wonderful" is being used very loosely)
  2. Bloglines (so I can see who of all you, my favorite bloggers, have made updates to your sites)
  3. Gmail (now that I no longer need to say "Hotmail")

Three favorite fruits:

  1. Blueberries
  2. Bananas
  3. Mango

Three names you go by:

  1. Kevin
  2. kapgar
  3. garrrrrrrr

Three of your everyday foods:

  1. Skim milk
  2. Granola or protein bar of some sort
  3. Orange juice (if available)

Three things you are wearing right now:

  1. Warm-up pants
  2. Gym T-shirt
  3. New Balance running shoes

Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to you:

  1. Eyes
  2. Lips
  3. Legs

Three places you want to go on vacation to:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Seattle
  3. Kauai

Three people you see everyday:

  1. Katie
  2. Not really anybody else "every" day

As per usual, no tags. But steal it if you're so inclined.
 


Out in the Suri with the fringe on top...

I'm not feeling particularly inspired in terms of writing some kind of cool story or whatnot. So I think today will be a recap of all kinds of different little things.

Fun With Dead Trees
Some... er... issues came up with FWDT. For some reason, a few browsers on various platforms were unable to properly view my new book review blog and, of course, I didn't know them until I started receiving some comments about the problems.

I tested seven browsers on two different platforms and OSs and found that two of them weren't displaying the blog properly. And none of the browsers were allowing comments whatsoever.

The issue was traced back to some illegitimate coding in my dropdown search menus. They weren't closed out properly. There are a few other coding issues that the W3C doesn't seem to like, but those eminate from the auto-coding that TypePad's XML writes up. I have no access to it whatsoever. So, hopefully, they will clean it up.

But, I am pretty sure that commenting is working right now on the browsers that you could previously view the posts with. So please try it on some random reviews. But I still have some other bugs to work out.

Also, if you are still having issues regarding viewing of the site, please comment here or drop me an e-mail and let me know what browser, version, and OS you are using.

I just got word back from TypePad that I can convert this template to something called "Advanced Templates." They say it should give me the level of access I need to make the changes necessary to operate the site properly. But I lose the GUI design aspect of it all. Not sure what to do. The thought freaks me out a bit. Has anybody out there played with TypePad's Advanced Templates feature before?

I knew I probably should have held off on the announcement of the book blog another day or so, but, damn if I wasn't just so excited about it. I had to share it.

Blogography Turns 3!
This week marks the third blogiversary of my buddy, Dave. And he's having a bash to beat all bashes. If you hurry over to his site, you may still be able to take part in some of the giveaways he has going on. Bear in mind, if you've never been much of a commenter on his site, you will have to take part in some quizzes to prove your Dave-legiance.

Happy three years, man. Keep 'em coming!

Suri Cruise
Yep, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes pulled off a silent delivery of their spawn this week and named her Suri. In all, I like the name Suri. It really is a nice name. Just not for their kid.

When I first heard the name, I immediately thought that "Suri" has a strong Indian sound to it and Tom and Katie are decidedly NOT Indian. But this view has changed since I discovered that they chose the name because it is Hebrew for "Princess" or Persian for "Red Rose."

But the funny thing about it all comes from the fact that "Suri" is also Japanese for "pickpocket." If anything, she certainly has her career path chosen for her and it should only take a year or two to be at the proper height for her to practice on her dad.

"Not Ready to Make Nice"
I don't know if any of you out there are fans of The Dixie Chicks. If you are, might I recommend their new single "Not Ready to Make Nice"? It's a great track and it's the Chicks making a political statement as only they can.

C'mon, any song with the lyrics "I'm not ready to make nice, I'm not ready to back down, I'm still mad as hell and, I don't have time to go round and round and round" can't be all bad, right?

Oh, and it's an iTunes exclusive. Hope you're a user.


And the trees are all kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw...

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...

Gather one, gather all, for this is a moment none of you will soon forget...

A little over a month ago, I mentioned how one of my goals was to finally launch my book review blog. Remember that one? I didn't sound entirely optimistic about it at the time. In fact, it had actually been in the works for a few months before that.

It all stemmed from me wanting to be able to present my book reviews to a much larger audience, one like, say, the blogosphere. I've been operating my book review site, Fun With Dead Trees, as a static HTML site for nearly eight years. It was time to make it a bit more interactive, a bit more fun, a bit easier to maintain.

Now, it's here.

Say hello to Fun With Dead Trees, version 2.0...

Fwdttreelogo2

For now, it's just a subblog of my main site. But, eventually, I'll get off my keister and reserve a URL for this beast.

As it stands, I've got a little more than 140 book reviews on the site spanning eight years of personal reading (with one guest review). Searches can be performed based on Most Reviewed Authors (two or more reviews), series, genre, reviewer, rating, and alphabetically by both author and title. I also have RSS and Atom feeds for the site and a Bloglines subscription feature. Hopefully, they all work. We shall see.

My goal was to make this site as user friendly as possible. Hence all the different search methods. As the need arises to add more search terms to the categories, I can do so with relative ease (relative to my static HTML site, that is). I can also add more reviewers should anyone be so inclined.

So browse around, leave some comments about the reviews (don't be afraid to tell me I'm full of it; but be fair), and maybe even consider becoming an FWDT reviewer.

Oh, and if you ever need to find the review site, just click on "Books" under "Reviews" over in the left menubar.


Keep on rockin' in the free world...

It's time to welcome a new addition to the family (no, Katie and I did not have a baby).

Miscipodvideo After all our nagging and bargaining and taking advantage of the system, we finally convinced Best Buy to swap out that crappy old iPod with a spiffy new iPod with video playback. You gotta love playing the system. Heck, every service tech in the place kept telling me that I just need to make sure I take advantage of the "No Lemon Policy" on the service plans... so I did.

It's a wonderful little toy. The picture is crisp, despite being small. But it's still entirely watchable. I've already checked out a couple of music videos and an episode of The Office on it and it's not nearly as bad as you might think.

Katie coined the name for this new Pod. It shall, henceforth, be known as Black iP (as in Black Eyed Peas). It was a great name for it and she came up with it completely on the fly with very little effort. How can you say no to that name?

I do feel guilty, though. Sort of like I'm abandoning doPi. He still works perfectly well and I have loved our time together, but we're talking about me and toys.

I think I'll still be using doPi, though. Maybe at home attached to the stereo or out in the workshop in the garage or leave it at the office. He will still see service. He will still be loved.

Now I just need a new case. This is one iPod that you can't afford to scratch the screen on.

Oh, and MrJerz will be proud to know that the first song played on it was Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." I wasn't about to let you down, Jerz!


You're a mean one, Mister Grinch...

Can somebody please explain to me what I did to piss off Hollywood so badly?

I don't know what it is, but it seems like every time I tune in to some TV show or movie, there is a bastard of a character and his name is Kevin.

Why? What did I do to you, Screenwriter's Guild of America, to deserve having my name dragged through the mud like this?

Kevin was always a good name. It was gentle. It was kind. It was very Irish and everyone loves Ireland, right?

Miscelijahkevin Several months ago, I watched Sin City for the first time, and that was the first time I began to notice this downward trend where "Kevin" was akin to "evil."

This particular Kevin was played by Elijah Wood. He was a frightfest to say the very least. Creeping around with his Coke-bottle glasses, impervious to any physical pain whatsoever. Yet more than willing to dish it out when Marv hasn't already splayed him against a tree.

I was happy to see that namesaker die.

Despite it being bad teenage melodrama, Katie and I still can't stop watching The O.C. I admit it, it's a guilty pleasure. Wha'cha gonna do about it (aside from Chase who will revoke my Man Card)? We watch it and we'll keep watching it. Everyone needs a little camp in their life, right?

Well, lately, Marissa (Mischa Barton) has been dating yet another bad boy. Go fig, right? This one's name is Volchok (Cam Gigandet) and he's just a badass surfer dude. Everything that no self-respecting Orange County girl should like, but typically does. I was fine with his character. If he was responsible for Marissa's untimely demise on the show... great.

However, as of a few weeks ago, I no longer wanted him to be quite so "bad." Care to guess why? I discovered his first name is Kevin. Gee, go friggin' figure!

Now I just want him to turn over a new leaf and be a good guy. Maybe bring Marissa back from the brink. The brink of what, I'm not quite sure. The writers have alluded to many potential scenarios. But I want none of them to involve Mr. Kevin Volchok.

Even Jason Bateman played a badguy named Kevin in the 2004 remake of Starsky & Hutch. C'mon, man! That's just not right.

With these three under my belt, I decided to perform an IMDb search for characters named Kevin. Yes, there are a ton; but I sifted through them nonetheless. I had a bone to pick and Hollywood was my target.

I take issue with the following Evil Kevins:

  • Kevin O'Donnell in Patriot Games - Patrick Bergin portrayed Kevin O'Donnell, the leader of a rogue branch of the IRA, opposite Harrison Ford's Jack Ryan. Not only does he give Kevins everywhere a bad name, but he's even single-handedly ruined the good Irish Kevin image I alluded to earlier. Bastard!
  • Kevin Carroll on 24 - in the first season of this masterpiece, a character named Kevin Carroll (played by Richard Burgi whom you all may know as Susan's ex-husband, Karl, on Desperate Housewives) did his level best to try to off our hero Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland).
  • Kevin O'Donnell in Coyote Ugly - dear God, another one?!?! This Kevin O'Donnell, played by Adam Garcia, was bad simply because of how he misled poor Jersey bumpkin, Violet (Piper Perabo), into believing he was a record producer. The prick!
  • Kevin Buckman in Parenthood - this was one of Steve Martin's kids in the movie. He wasn't a bad guy... just not all there. Terrible in sports, horrible in social situations, prone to emotional breakdowns, you name it. Actually, this is probably the closest portrayal to my own real self and that's why I hate him.
  • Kevin on Veronica's Closet - I don't know if he's "evil," per se; but he's played by Scott Baio. That's bad enough.

I want to see a return to the days where Jeff Bridges played Kevin Flynn in Tron. Better yet, how about when Fred Savage was Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years? Or, the only really positive portrayal of a Kevin in recent years... Michael J. Fox as Dr. Kevin Casey on Scrubs a few seasons back. Can it get any better than that?

This was when "Kevin" was synonymous with "hero" and "good guy."

Kevin was a guy you brought home to mom. A man you looked up to in the E.R. A guy whose shoulder you could cry on when your current relationship hit the skids. The person you could reliably turn to in a lightcycle race against Sark.

Kevin was good, Kevin was dependable, Kevin was fair... even if it was in a Master Control Program far, far away.


Can’t you hear me when I call...

Not that I'm sick or anything like that. In fact, I'm not sick at all. However, since we've had some strange weather patterns lately, my allergies have been kicking into high gear. And I really need to start my allergy med regimen again.

I get into work today and find out that my coworker in the next office was babysitting last week, I think, for her nephew and caught some kind of horrible condition from the kid that has resulted in nearly complete laryngitis for her.

So I'm sitting in my office sneezing because I haven't taken an allergy pill when I get an e-mail from my voiceless coworker that simply says "Bless you."

That made my day.


Dream away, in the wind of change...

A quick note to start: I apologize to everyone that I was incommunicado this weekend. I swore to Katie that I would take a weekend away from the computer especially after all the time I spent on it last week. So I did. It felt good. But I don't want any of you to feel like I'm neglecting your messages, both e-mails and comments. I will tend to them sometime today with replies of some sort. And I will also return to my old habit of replying personally to comments left on the blog. I gave that up during the promotion for fear that my replies might offer up a little too much information unintentionally. So, now, that is back as well.


Now that the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion is over and done with, I think it may be time to revisit my site a little bit.

Some of you may have noticed that I tweaked my sidebar a week or so ago. It needed a bunch of clean-up work done to it as there was just too much crap in it. Thankfully, I got rid of a lot of it, condensed some more, and reordered where things are located.

Now that the promotion is done, I can remove the Lost Blogs blogroll.

However, as a result of this promotion, I've found a ton of new blogs I really like and need to add them to my own "Befriend Me" list. But I think I may switch that to a real blogroll as I prefer the spacing that blogrolls use between entries instead of the default double spacing that Typepad uses. Since I'm adding more, I'd like to cut down on the space that is occupied over there.

Plus, I'm thinking about cutting down the number of entries that are posted on this homepage at any given time. Right now, I have it set for 10 full entries. When I do something like a photo entry, you can wind up scrolling forever and a day to finally get to the bottom. Maybe I'll try cutting it down to one week's worth of posts. Seven at a time might be nice.

I might also try a new header graphic. While I like the yo-yo, I'm getting a bit sick of it. I thought about seasonal banners. Heck, I even considered changing them monthly, but I'm just not that motivated.

I wish TypePad allowed me to incorporate a JavaScript image rotation script in the header. I can write the script; that's the easy part. I've done it enough times elsewhere. But getting them to plug it in would be the pain. I don't have access to the code in the header. Dammit.

Do you guys have any suggestions for ways to clean this place up a bit? What have you done on revisits to your own design elements? Let me know. I don't want to steal anything that others have done, but if I can develop my own ideas from your suggestions, great!


People are strange when you're a stranger...

I was tagged with this meme by Chase who was, in turn, tagged by Dawn at WriteWingBlog.

Rules:

  1. Write a few weird/strange/quirky things about yourself, the total number is up to you.
  2. Post it in both my comments here and on your blog (if you do memes).
  3. Leave a comment on their blog telling them they've been tagged (if you, unlike me, like to tag).

My weird/strange/quirky things:

  1. I'm not terrified of balloons, but I refuse to drive a car in which balloons are in the main portion of the car (I had a bad balloon-related, car-flipping accident the summer before my senior year in high school).
  2. I have brown hair (although it is becoming progressively more grey speckled), yet my goatee has a distinct red tint to it.
  3. I only recently overcame my propensity to buy DVDs of movies I've never seen but was convinced I would like. Now I rarely buy DVDs at all. Even of movies I have seen and liked.
  4. It would probably take two trips to move all my personal crap out of my office. Good thing I don't commute via train.
  5. Everything on my desk has its own place and it drives me nuts when coworkers move my stuff and don't move it back (sorry if you're reading this, D; but it's the truth).
  6. I constantly wish the world would return to a barter system of doing business.
  7. Although I say I'm unaffected by celebrity, apparently my actions, in their presence, defy my words. A friend said I geeked out when I met Kevin Smith. Go fig. And I'm a sucker for a good signing opportunity.
  8. I'm terrible at sports despite my love of them.
  9. For years, I was a diehard Yankee fan living in the Midwest. Not a bandwagoneer, mind you. I was a fan since their crap days in the mid-80s (Don Mattingly is my favorite player of all time). And once they started becoming the perennial favorite, I dropped them entirely.
  10. I pay better attention in meetings when I'm playing a game on my Palm Pilot. I have found that my brain is more awake and aware. Even though I look like I'm not paying attention, I take more away from meetings when I'm playing a simple puzzle game like NoNo or Sudoku than when I pretend to "look interested." You just can't scoff at alternative learning methods.

As per usual, no tags. Steal it if you will.


Lost Blogs: The Grand Reveal!

Some of you have figured me out, some of you have not.

Allow me to recap some of the clues I gave each day before I tell you who I was Lost Blogging as.

Just so you don't tune out on this post, the six winners (yes... six! Pauly upped it on us) are listed at the end of this post. Woo hoo!

Day 1:

  • 1947
  • Dying at age 30 (born in 1917)
  • Louis and Clarence
  • "Big Red"
  • Speaking in a foreign language (BIG clue)
  • Legs carry him to victory

Day 2:

  • Augie who enlisted in "The Great War" at very advanced age
  • Cutesy little nickname after her husband
  • "Adopted" by Sam

Day 3:

  • Loved running
  • Feet professionally pedicured
  • Feet must be comfortable
  • Not being loved if they lose

Day 4:

  • Old-fashioned camera
  • Racing partner screwed up his start
  • Came in second place only once in career

Day 5:

  • Defeated by Upset
  • Wannabe jellyfish
  • Street in hometown
  • "I'm craving an apple"

Now, let's see who I am...

Manowarwin
Yes, I would be the great racehorse, Man O' War!

Shocked? Dismayed? Ah, I even said in the last e-mail about the contest that you could be an animal if you could come up with one distinguishable enough that it could be guessed.

And nearly a dozen of you did guess me.

The big kudos go to SJ and Neil, though. They got me on Day 1. Scared the bejeebus out of me that someone guessed me that quickly. I was afraid it was all downhill from there.

Now, let's give my clues a closer analysis...

Day 1:

  • 1947 - I would hope no explanation would be necessary.
  • Dying at age 30 (born in 1917) - same here.
  • Louis and Clarence - Louis Feustel, his trainer, and Clarence Kummer, his second jockey.
  • "Big Red" - only two big-named racehorses with this nickname; the other was Secretariat.
  • Speaking in a foreign language (BIG clue) - how would you expect a horse to understand English? But, like any animal, they can detect tonality and attitude which, in turn, affects their demeanor.
  • Legs carry him to victory - a runner, obviously.
     

Day 2:

  • Augie who enlisted in "The Great War" at very advanced age - August Belmont, Jr., who enlisted in WWI (known as "The Great War" prior to 1939 and the start of WWII) and was the namesake of the Belmont Stakes.
  • Cutesy little nickname after her husband - Her husband was the soldier, and Man O' War was named after that fact.
  • "Adopted" by Sam - Sam Riddle who bought Man O' War in 1918 at the age of one.

Day 3:

  • Loved running - no explanation, I would hope.
  • Feet professionally pedicured - I was going to actually start to mention shoes and having to change them prior to a race day; but that may have been too much of a giveaway.
  • Feet must be comfortable - very important for any runner.
  • Not being loved if they lose - breeders want their stud to be a champion in order to breed more champions. Man O' War bred 64 stakes champions and 200 other winners. His grandson was Seabiscuit. No one wants to love a loser because they're not allowed to. Why stud a loser when you can stud a champ?

Day 4:

  • Old-fashioned camera - just a timeline giveaway.
  • Racing partner screwed up his start - the racing partner was actually his jockey, Johnny Loftus, who had him in the starting gate backwards and didn't have time to turn him around before the starting gun fired.
  • Came in second place only once in career - Man O' War won 20 of 21 races in his two-year career and set three world records, two American records, and three track records.

Day 5:

  • Defeated by Upset - not just a nickname; this was the actual name of the horse that defeated Man O' War. But, who knows, to a horse, these could just be nicknames. Maybe, amongst themselves, they do have "real" names for each other. We'll never know.
  • Wannabe jellyfish - the Portuguese Man O' War, which is commonly believed to be a jellyfish, but is actually a siphonophone.
  • Street in hometown - Man O' War Boulevard in Lexington, Kentucky. I once lived less than a half mile from MOW Blvd.
  • "I'm craving an apple" - that should be a dead giveaway that this is a horse. (I could've also said "carrots," but do I really need to throw you that many bones?"

Making sense now? I hope so.

Hope you all enjoyed taking part in this Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign. I know I had a blast.

But, now it's time for business as usual at kapgar.com.


The Winners' Circle:
C'mon! Would you expect less from a guy who spent a week blogging as a horse?

Congrats to all of you who participated! You did a great job and all deserve recognition.

A few words from Paul...

This was OBVIOUSLY tough.  Everyone's were well-written, creative, and ingenious but I had to pick six so I picked these based on how "real" they felt to me or how authentic the voices sounded. And humor, well, humor is always good.

Congrats to these people and thanks again.

For those of you that Pauly picked, please e-mail me your full name and mailing address. I will be forwarding these to Paul so he can send you your prize booty!

In no particular order (I think):

Acceptance speeches can be posted in the comments to this thread. Heh.

Congrats to all, you lucky stiffs!


It's the next best thing to be free as a bird...

Dave [in an e-mail message mass reply to 41 recipients]: "Kevin... you. are. INSANE!"

Me [in my own reply to all]: "Dave! You were sworn to secrecy! Now, I'm going to have to kill you!"

[Kevin clicks 'send']

Mischotmailwarning_1

Me: "What the holy hell is this? Since when do I have a message limit!?!? GAHHHHHH!!!"

This was when I decided it was finally time to ditch Hotmail.

I've been with Hotmail for years now. Ever since my usa.net e-mail provider decided to start charging their longtime users for e-mail access. I had been a faithful user, one who persisted despite his dislike of all things Microsoft. I didn't really care. I had too many subscriptions and personal records and filings attributed to my Hotmail account. It would be a royal pain in the ass to make the switch.

I've played with other free e-mail accounts. I have a Yahoo mail account (three, actually) and a Gmail account (just one here) and I played with several others as well. I was testing them to see if they were any good. All have their ups and their downs. But I never really had the chance to put them through the proverbial wringer because I was still so dedicated to using my Hotmail account.

No more.

This was the straw that broke the camel's back. How dare you impose a limit on my outgoing messages? I had not nearly come close to even filling my storage quota. I should be allowed to send messages till the third coming of Christ so long as I don't exceed my storage quota!

I have now moved fulltime to my Gmail account. If any of you need to contact me, I'm the same user, but at gmail [dot] com instead of hotmail [dot] com. My Hotmail account is still open in case of straggler messages, but I've, otherwise, been enveloped fully by the "G" as PostModern Sass refers to it (check out her fond (?) farewell to both Yahoo and Hotmail).

And thank you for making it so easy for me to export all the addresses in my address book so I could transfer them elsewhere, Hotmail! You are truly a gentleman and a scholar. (Do note the sarcasm oozing off that one - it took me two hours to transfer everything... manually).

So bite me, Microsoft. One last big ol' middle finger wagging in the air in the general direction of your Washington-based headquarters.

Now it's time to check out Open Office so I can truly be free!

Oh, and Dave, if you step outside and you see a giant middle finger coming your way... duck. It's not aimed at you. It's continuing on to Redmond.


Lost Blogs: Day 5

I told you yesterday about the one time in my career that I did not win my race. But would you like to know the real kicker behind this story?

The little bastard who beat me was known affectionately as “Upset.” What the hell kind of nickname is that? But, this name existed well before this particular race. In all honesty, I have no idea what his real name is… everyone always called him “Upset.”

So, when he beat me, the race was “won by Upset.”

Anytime you hear “winner by upset,” “won in an upset,” or some other derivation, you can blame that little freak. No joke.

I win all but one race in my career, and he gets a catchphrase.

Do I have a catchphrase? Nuh-uh. All I’ve got is a wannabe jellyfish and a street in my hometown.

I don’t know if he won any other races before or after that one. But what does it matter? That one race was “won by Upset.”

Life just ain’t fair. My partner, Johnny, found that out the hard way. He was canned.

Heh heh. There I go laughing again. I gotta stop that… it hurts. And the doctors look at me like I’m nuts.

Maybe I am nuts… but I’m craving an apple.


Welcome to the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. If you liked what you read here and would like to see what other bloggers from throughout history might say, check out Paul Davidson's The Lost Blogs coming soon to a bookstore near you.


A little bit is better than nada...

I may be spending the majority of this week doing nothing but Lost Blogging, but I still miss my regular posting. I just haven't had the time to do it each and every day this week. I thought taking the week off would allow me more time to blog. Well, it really hasn't. Yes, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at the keyboard (an amount Katie is not happy with), but I still feel like there is so much more I need to do here. It's insane. As much as I love doing this, I can't wait for this week to be over and I can return to my regular schedule.

But I do have another non-Lost Blog post for you all to read. It regards the Christopher Moore book signing I attended this past Sunday.

Since I had my place in line secured as well as my new copies of his book, I waited a bit to go in. I wanted to spend some time with Katie since I had to open the gym that morning and would soon be going in for the signing without her (she didn't want to go).

I finally left at about 12:45 p.m. and arrived at the bookstore at 1:30. It was mayhem. First, it was a sunshiny weekend in Naperville, so people were everywhere and parking was practically nonexistent. I should've known better after living there as long as I did.

The bookstore itself seemed sedate from the outside. Only a few people waiting in line to buy their books. So I went inside rather happy. Until I realized that the lack of people up front was because they were all already in back listening to him. He had been out amongst them all for nearly a half hour. It was his "informal" portion of the day.

Already finding a good place to stand and listen was shot.

I finally found a spot to stand and this was the view I had.

Christopher Moore at Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, 2006

Not bad, but it could've been better. At least I caught a video of his entrance. A little too large to post here without killing my bandwidth allowances for the month. Oh, and am I the only one who thinks he bears a passing resemblance to George Mason (Xander Berkeley) on the early seasons of 24?

He spoke to us for quite a while and was hilarious. Most of his talk was about the research he put into defining the "Beta Male" in society. Yes, we all know about the "Alpha Male," but how much do we know about the "Beta Male." Apparently, not enough. He found nothing surfing the Web, so he defined it himself. This is important because this concept is the focus of his new book, A Dirty Job... a book I still have yet to read since I only purchased it that day. So I was a bit lost, but still able to laugh all the same.

Then came book signing time.

Christopher Moore signing

I was #16 in line and that was incredible considering there were over 200 people in attendance. I had two books with me in addition to my two copies of A Dirty Job that I purchased. I do own two more of his books, but I didn't want to be hogging his time having him sign a half dozen books. So I opted out of the two new books I received for Christmas (The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story) and had him sign my out-of-print copies of Lamb and The Stupidest Angel. I think he appreciated seeing the old covers of both books. I just wish I had an old hardcover copy of Lamb like the guy who was two ahead of me in line. Very cool cover on that one. C'est la vie.

Well, here's the inscription on my copy of Lamb...

Lamb

A little blurry, sorry. But it works and I'm too lazy to take a new photo.

And here's one of the copies of A Dirty Job I had signed.

Belinda's book

Yes, Belinda from Ninja Poodles, this would be your copy. I had it inscribed to "Belinda from Arkansas" just like you wanted. Moore laughed when I explained why you wanted it inscribed this way and agreed that there's no way he's coming to a signing in Arkansas simply because you are his only reader there. He also jokingly implied that literacy is a marginal requirement for living in Arkansas.

You're supposed to laugh at that last comment.

So, how should I get this to you in semi-decent shape? E-mail me. You know the new address.

Oh, and for any fans of Moore, the next book he's working on is the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends. That announcement was met with great applause.


Lost Blogs: Day 4

After reading my earlier posts, you may be scratching your head wondering how the hell I could remember all those details from the early part of my life.

I’ve heard my story told several times. And, while I don’t understand every word (as I explained previously), I have heard enough of the same words repeated over and over enough times that I can figure it out.

Plus, I have a ton of those flat images of me. I think they’re called photographs. They’re taken with something called a “camera.”

Cameras are the strangest contraptions in the world, aren’t they? It’s a big, black box on a three-legged stand. The box has a hole in the middle of it that they point at you while they hold a big broom-looking thing in the air. Then the person behind the box pulls their head out from under a blanket, makes a goofy face, and pushes a button. What happens next is a bit of a blur as I’m temporarily blinded by that broom-looking wand when it erupts in a flash of light. What the hell is that all about?

I digress.

I began racing really early in life and Sam and my coach, Louis (I call him “Louie Louie” – it’s my one chance at revenge for him constantly calling me “Big Red”… the prick), knew I was something special immediately.

After all, I won my first race. And not by some small margin either. I won my next couple races, as well. I was quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with. In fact, there was only one race in my life that I didn’t win. And you wanna know why? My partner distracted me at the starting line. I was all kinds of discombobulated (what a great word!).

The starting gun fired… and I missed it.

Everyone was well ahead of me on this race. But you wanna know something? Even though I started late and they were all so far ahead of me, I still finished in second place. Yep, I came from behind and only finished about a few heads back on the leader.

How’s that for drama?

Welcome to the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. If you liked what you read here and would like to see what other bloggers from throughout history might say, check out Paul Davidson's The Lost Blogs coming soon to a bookstore near you.


Lost Blogs: Day 3

I loved running. There was nothing quite so liberating as feeling the wind rush through my hair. The pounding of my heart. The throbbing of my lungs. It was the ultimate high.

I don’t know how many of you have ever been involved in racing… I mean on foot and not the automobile kind. If you have, you know how important your feet are to your very existence. They, along with your legs, are everything. If you don’t take of them, they don’t take care of you.

My feet were no less important. And I did have them taken care of… very well, in fact. I constantly had them cleaned and pedicured to make sure that nothing was wrong with them. And doctors were always examining them for instances of bone splints or excessive callusing. You just can’t take the risk that something will go wrong with them.

But another key to racing is comfort. Even if your feet are well taken care of, they can’t do much if they uncomfortable.

A lack of comfort leads to cramping; which, in turn, leads to fatigue; and then, in a worst-case scenario, you lose.

The threat of what could potentially happen should I lose and not place was always looming over my head. And it was quite the motivator.

If I didn’t win, I was worthless. And, since racing was the only thing I knew, there was no way I could ever try to do anything else. I guess I could retire and settle down and start a family. But, who would have me?

The answer is simple… nobody.

Nobody likes a loser. Even fewer can love one.


Welcome to the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. If you liked what you read here and would like to see what other bloggers from throughout history might say, check out Paul Davidson's The Lost Blogs coming soon to a bookstore near you.


Lost Blogs: Day 2

I don’t really know my mom and dad all that well. I was taken from them at an early age and raised by a nice elderly couple.

I use “nice” very loosely. Yes, they were good to me, but only for a very brief period of time.

My adoptive father was prone to delusions of grandeur. He was pretty damned old when I was but an infant and he thought he was still in good enough shape to “fight the good fight.” Yeah, the imbecile enlisted in the Great War – the big war that was going on among all the nations of the world.

My adoptive mother cried. Day in and day out. I never realized someone could have that many tears inside them.

I never cried but she always shared her pain with me, nonetheless. I was her source of comfort. Her rock. Her reason to live while Augie was away. She even referred to me using a derivation of a cutesy little nickname she had developed for him – her big, brave trooper.

An idiot is all he was in my mind.

Why? Well, after he left, she was forced to liquidate the family business. And rather than subject me to the horrors of poverty, she put me up for adoption. She wanted me to have a good home.

And I did just that. I was adopted by a guy named Sam. Sam was a far cry from Augie and his wife, though. He pushed me. He made me work for my keep. He whipped me into shape.

Arguably, what Sam did for and to me made me into the champion that I was.


Welcome to the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. If you liked what you read here and would like to see what other bloggers from throughout history might say, check out Paul Davidson's The Lost Blogs coming soon to a bookstore near you.


Don't wanna dream no more...

Note: this is not an entry for the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. This is a real post. Well, as "real" as it gets for me.

I woke up really early this morning. According to the clock, it was a little after two in the morning. And I didn't sleep that well from that point on through the rest of the night. Very fitful when I did sleep. And why? Because my messed-up dreams are back. And I don't think my mind could handle going through more than one of these in a single night.

Last night, time rewound itself a bit. Back to September 11, 2001. And, instead of being on my way to work in the relative comfort of Aurora, IL, like I was back on the actual date, I was in NYC. And I'm not happy about it either.

For some reason, I had been working throughout the night of September 10 on into the morning of September 11. At some point, very early in the morning, my workmate and I (I'm guessing this was some kind of business trip) went to a bar to get some drinks. I had a messenger bag and a stuffed teddy bear with me.

We looked up at the TV to see a news flash that a jet had hit one of the Twin Towers, so we rushed outside to see. There were many other people pouring out of buildings to see what had happened in addition to us. The Towers were a couple miles from our bar.

I don't know that I would call this "instinctive," but some personal force drove me to slowly walk towards the mayhem. Not that I was covering any sort of ground in a timely fashion, but I was moving forward toward the Towers. This was when we saw the second plane hit.

I turned to a friend who was standing by the door to the bar and yelled at him to grab my bag and the bear. He did and he brought them to me.

I looped the bag over my head and arm and tucked the bear under my arm and continued my trek toward the Towers. Slowly. Tentatively. Just watching the smoke pour out of the buildings.

I found myself walking across a long expanse of grass that was the yard of a church. The church itself was several hundred feet ahead of me still. And there were all kinds of buildings beyond it. The church was in color while the rest of the buildings were all greyed out. It reminded me a bit of Tim Burton's vision of Gotham City in the original Batman or the city from The Crow -- all dark and murky with only the church standing out against the grime serving as some sort of beacon.

It was then, as I walked on the grass, that the towers fell.

The great billows of grey smoke blew between all the buildings and I could see it coming towards me.

I ran like I've never run before.

I looked back over my shoulder and saw the smoke and dust engulf the church.

I kept running.

And I also kept a tight hold of that teddy bear. It was meant as a gift for Katie and I think clinging to it was like grasping at my last chance to survive. So long as I held the bear, there was hope.

I woke up.

I was nowhere near NYC when 9/11 happened. I don't personally know anyone who was killed in the attack, but I know a few people who were in the city when it was struck. Nothing happened to them, though.

So why did I have this dream? It was the first truly vivid and memorable dream I've had in months.

Oh, and as a note, this is not the first time I've dreamt of NYC and it's had that Burtonesque feel to it. Every time I've dreamed of NYC, it's appeared this way to me. I have visited NYC in the past (the last time being a year before 9/11) so I know what it really looks like. Yet it always has that grey visage in my dreams.

But this was the first time I ever saw the church in it.

I don't get it.


Lost Blogs: Day 1

1947:

I’m dying.

It may sound horrible, but it’s true.

I’m laying here in this stiff, uncomfortable bed that feels like a bunch of nails prickling my back and sides. And it aches. Every part of me aches.

The doctors have been coming in and out of my room for the last several days. They keep poking and prodding me trying to determine what’s wrong. There’s nothing I can do to stop them. Louis and Clarence keep coming in trying to relax me. Reassure me. Make sure I don’t snap and “accidentally” hurt one of them.

The thought gives me occasion to laugh a bit. I don’t laugh much these days, so that rare opportunity certainly feels good.

But what kills me is that I don’t really know what the hell they’re saying. It’s like a completely foreign language to me.

I can understand the words of comfort… the terms they use to make me feel better and calm me down. These words and phrases have been uttered to me ad infinitum throughout my life. They may be in a  foreign language, but you adjust. You hear something enough times and, regardless of the language in which it’s being spoken, you can eventually understand it. It’s purely contextual. The look on their faces, the way they approach you, the way they act during their examinations. There’s care and comfort in those actions.

You’d think I would like that.

Normally, I would.

Ah! See! He just mouthed “Big Red”! I know that one. And, let me tell you something, I hate that damn name. Everyone around me thinks it’s great. They love calling me that. Well, guess what? It’s not my name! Nobody asked me if they could call me by that name. Nobody secured my permission. I’d gnaw the lips off each person that called me Big Red if they’d just sit still long enough for me to wrap my teeth around their faces.

I’m laughing again. That’s twice in one day. Not bad.

He-e-e-ey! I have a name! It’s…

Oh great. There they go again. The docs just turned to my coach and my partner and started in with the gibberish. Big, long, confusing words that I’m not even sure they understand. And they’re all speaking the same language. Or so I think.

And they become very businesslike. That’s how I know I’m dying. They speak to me in terms of comfort and then talk very professionally to the people who are there with me. I get cut out of the loop entirely on this part of the conversation.

That’s never a good sign.

But what the hell do I know? I’m just…

Oh hell. Another shot! I hate these. And this one’s going right in my thigh.

DAMMIT! That hurt!

Yes, I can think of far greater pains. A shot in the thigh, in the grand scheme of things, is no big deal. But when you get several of these “lesser” pains all in relatively close sequence and proximity, it becomes a bit unbearable. And my legs are my life. Or “were” my life, as the case may be. They carried me to victory. They made me a champion. They made me famous.

I was a god.

Now this “god” is dying. And I’m only 30 years old to boot.

Time to just close my eyes and remember. Think back to the cliché’d “good ol’ days.” Hey, if it helps me get through this, why not?

Welcome to the Lost Blogs/GBBMC promotion. If you liked what you read here and would like to see what other bloggers from throughout history might say, check out Paul Davidson's The Lost Blogs coming soon to a bookstore near you.


It's time to ramble on...

I think today's post will just be an amalgam of all the little tidbits of information I've collected throughout the last week that, by themselves, don't really constitute a whole post, but, together, make for one heckuvan entry.

Credit Card Application
Anyone ever heard of Upfront Rewards Visa card? Like I'm sure all of you do, Katie and I receive nearly a dozen credit card applications in a given week. It's pretty ridiculous to see how many trees are killed by these companies. Typically, I just open the envelope, shred the portion that has our name and address on it, and throw the rest in a recycle bin.

This one, however, caught my eye because it had a picture of a Dell Inspiron B120 laptop computer on it.

I was curious as it's not the typical travel clock or mug that most credit card companies offer.

The offer is this, you sign up with them and transfer a minimum balance of $5,000 to this card and you will get the computer. The catch, of course, is that they require you to maintain at least $3,500 of the balance for a minimum of 18 months. If you go under $3,500, you will be assessed a $600 fee. If you maintain the $3,500 for 18 months at their 9.99% APR, you wind up paying $2,269 and change in interest fees (is my math correct on that one?). We see where they get their money from.

I guess if you already maintain one heckuva revolving balance on your credit card and pay the interest as it is, you may as well get the free computer out of it. But don't expect to be getting out of debt anytime soon.

My Name Is Earl and The Daily Show
Did anyone watch last week's episode of My Name Is Earl? Was that Patrick Swayze in the role of the head bounty hunter at the office where Juliette Lewis' character is working? I can't find reference to any of the guest stars in that episode on IMDb, epguides.com, or even NBC.com. Was it him?

The Daily Show had a pretty funny special entitled "Race: The AfroSpanicIndioAsianization of America" on the other night. And, if you watched carefully during the scene with the racist correspondent, it shows that he got his start on the Channel 4 news in Detroit. Well, the news team photo that they Photoshoppped his head into was actually Chicago's very own NBC 5 late night news team. Yep, Warner Saunders, Allison Rosati, and, well, I don't remember the other guy.

Sorry, "other guy."

BlogShares
So I'm looking at my blogstats on Friday morning and I see an entry in to my site from a place called BlogShares, which, so far as I can tell, is like a virtual stock market that banks on the up-and-down value of blogs over time.

And kapgar.com was listed.

However, 80% of the shares of my site are owned by Gary at GarySaid.com.

Wait a minute!! Hold the phone!! Gary is the primary stakeholder in my site?!?! How's that fair? Do I have to call him "boss"? I'm not his blog bitch, am I?

And, apparently, I've made some pretty good money for him, too. As early back as I can view, which is only mid-December, a share of stock in kapgar.com was a mere $1,651.80. And, as of March 14 of this year, it was up to $2,836.29. God only knows how much lower it was when Gary purchased his 4,000 shares during their bargain-basement IPO back in August.

I get a cut, Gary. 'nuff said.

Miscmundane Carnival of the Mundane
Have any of you ever taken part in a blog carnival yet? Well, now's as good a time as any.

The upcoming Carnival of the Mundane VIII is coming to a blog near you. Well, more specifically, it's coming to Daisy Mae's blog on Friday, April 14.

C'mon! Jump on board! Be a carnie! You know you want to.

This will be my fourth foray into this most devilish display of our mundane existences. Now to pick a post, or two.

Cover Songs
How soon is too soon to cover a song?

I'm asking because I was listening to PodQuiz 59 this morning on the way to work and James' musical segment revolved around cover songs. He played the cover version and asked you to identify the song and the original artist.

One song was a cover of Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" from the movie Armageddon (actually it was apparently written by Diane Warren). This song came out with the movie back 1998 making it only eight years old. And it's already been covered by country artist Mark Chesnutt and the first version listed on AllMusicGuide came out back in 1999.

How is that right? I think a song needs to be at least 10 years old before it should be eligible for cover status. I would honestly prefer it even be longer. 15 or 20 years would be ideal.

And, while I'm on the topic, can musicians out there stop doing tribute albums to artists that are still relatively new? I thought it was bad enough, three or four years ago, when I saw a tribute to Sheryl Crow who, at the time, had been in the limelight for about seven years. But now I'm seeing tribute albums to the likes of Avril Lavigne and other artists who have no more than one or two albums to their name. Sick.

Lost Blogs
Just a final reminder that tomorrow marks the first day of the Lost Blogs Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign. So you will be seeing some interesting posts on this blog as well as all those linked up in the sidebar over there under the image of Abe Lincoln's head.

I will be breaking with my song lyric post title system and be titling all these entries with "Lost Blogs: Day 1" or whatnot. I may still be posting normal entries. But I will use my normal titling method for those. That will be one way that you will tell the difference.


I'm gonna see that you be back home in thirty days...

I stole this from Nicole because I like it. And there ain't a damn thing you can do to stop me! And she stole it from some ridiculously long line of family members. Don't ask.

Here are the rules: Put your music player on shuffle. Press forward for each question. Use the song title as the answer to the question even if it doesn't make sense. The results can be pretty funny.

Unlike Nicole, I did not use my entire music collection for this. Just what was on my iPod at this point in time. I'd be afraid of what would happen if I had a catalog 46 GB big to "help" me through this one. I figured 15 GB/3,000 songs is enough of a selection.

30 Songs:

  1. How am I feeling today? Please Please Please (Fiona Apple)
  2. Will I get far in life? The Real World (Jesus Jones) - not much hope there, eh?
  3. What's your current state of mind? To Have and To Hold (Depeche Mode)
  4. How do my friends see me? Crosscut Saw (The Freddy Jones Band)
  5. Where will I get married? Good Times Gone (Nickelback) - Hey! That's not nice!
  6. What is your view of marriage? What is Life (George Harrison) - well, at least it wasn't the last one.
  7. What is my best friend's theme song? Parachute (Guster) - not good considering he just had his second child.
  8. What is the story of my life? Behind the Wheel (Depeche Mode)
  9. What is/was high school like? Hand Me Down (The Wallflowers)
  10. How can I get ahead in life? Vaporub (Bob Mould) - Yeah, baby!
  11. What is the best thing about me? Turn of the Century (Pete Yorn)
  12. What is today going to be like? Daisy Duke (Rooney) - What? Catherine Bach? Where?
  13. What is in store for this weekend? Real Love (Smashing Pumpkins) - see comment #10, minus Vaporub.
  14. Describe my parents? Why Don't You Come Over (Garbage) - NOOOOO!!
  15. Describe my grandparents? On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Propellerheads) - Bwahahahaha! Nano the spy!
  16. How is my life going? Ain't Ever Goin' Back (John Hiatt)
  17. What song will they play at my funeral? Cockamamie Business (George Harrison) - how eerily appropriate.
  18. How does the world see me? Think About It (Fleetwood Mac)
  19. Will I have a happy life? Tell What You See (The Von Bondies)
  20. What do my friends really think of me? Careful (Guster) - I could've told you that.
  21. Do people secretly lust after me? Fashion (David Bowie) - there's hope in that one.
  22. How can I make myself happy? Agent Orange (Depeche Mode) - there are a few I'd give this to.
  23. What should I do with my life? Locomotive Breath (Ian Anderson) - does this mean I should be a train engineer or have chronic halitosis?
  24. Will I ever have children? Asking Me Lies (The Replacements) - yikes!
  25. What is some good advice for me? Mexican Radio (Wall of Voodoo)
  26. How will I be remembered? Banana Pancakes (Jack Johnson) - that's it!?!?
  27. What is my signature dancing song? Revolution Rock (The Clash) - I was wondering if I'd ever get anything even remotely heavier.
  28. What is my current theme song? Shame of the Nation (New Order) - well, let's take a look at our government, shall we?
  29. What do people think my current theme song is? Jealous Again (The Black Crowes)
  30. What type of men/women do you like? Best of You (Foo Fighters) - six Foo albums on my iPod and shuffle waits to the end.

I really would have liked to see some of the Poison, Crue, Warrant, etc., that I have on my Pod, but apparently "shuffle" had other ideas in mind.

You know my rules, no tagging. But feel free to steal it if you want to.


Where's my organ donor?

When I started reading the comments attached to my glowing announcement of the upcoming visit of Christopher Moore to a local bookstore, I found an interesting note from Dave2.

He said:

"Oh, and before I forget... the best reading/signing I have ever been to was Douglas Adams when he was signing his masterpiece "Last Chance to See" and reading from the final "Hitchhiker's" book.

So glad I got to meet him before he died (and have him sign my "Better Beezer Credit Application" from my "Bureaucracy" Infocom game that he wrote."

I found it hilarious that he had Douglas Adams sign a video game credit application and I'm sure Adams was amused by it as well.

And it reminded me of a strange autograph session for which I was in attendance.

I'm pretty sure it was about 1999, and I was in the midst of my second year of grad school at NIU. During my first year, I was enrolled in a documentary filmmaking course and we, as a class, actually produced an hour-long documentary. It was called Barbed Wire Pioneers (Holy shit! We have a web page for the movie! When'd this happen?) and was all about the competition in the late 1800s to create a commercially accepted type of barbed wire.

Why? Well, our university was in DeKalb, IL, where most of the drama behind this story occurred. So we did it. And we must've done it pretty well as the film won second place in the Silver State Documentary Festival, biography division in Las Vegas.

Our little film got a bit of buzz in the documentary arena of filmmaking. Not a lot, but it turned out to be quite a bit more than any of us in the class ever expected.

Miscmichaelmoore Some of this buzz got circulated to another documentary filmmaker that was pretty big at the time (both literally and figuratively). You might have heard of him, his name is Michael Moore.

Bear in mind that this was well before he became the uber-controversial freak that he has become. Even I'm not much of a fan of him anymore (I found Fahrenheit 9/11 to be boring as hell and not a particularly inspired piece of filmmaking... despite the fact I have similar anti-Bushy leanings).

At the time, though, he was only mildly controversial in that "oh, he's making a documentary film" sense and was still well respected amongst the documentary crowd for his haranguing of GM chief Roger Smith in the film Roger & Me.

Well, we received word that Moore was going to be in Chicago at the Illinois Institute of Technology to tape a couple episodes of The Awful Truth, his two-season-long venture into TV exposes, and we were invited to attend the tapings as well as a meet and greet afterwards.

We were stunned and more than willing to attend. So all us grads and a few undergrad communication students piled into a bus and trekked out to IIT.

To be honest with you, I don't remember much about the taping. It's all a bit of a blur in my head.

However, afterwards, when we went to the meet and greet, I remember frantically looking around for something for Moore to sign. I had bupkis. I, the autograph hound, had nothing. So I just waited in line while my buddy, George, also searched for something to have Moore sign.

We were in line waiting and our time was up. Here we were face-to-face with Michael Moore and George, as calm and collected as can be (he was cool like that), reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. Then he removed his driver's license, flipped it over, placed it in front of Michael Moore, and said, "would you be my organ donor witness?"

Moore was cracking up. As were quite a few other people in the immediate vicinity. And they deserved to be laughing. What George had done was hilarious, and, yet, endearingly original. Moore was, excuse the pun, more than willing to sign the card.

I was in shock. George had done something completely ludicrous and was a hero for it. And I still had nothing to show for the affair.

Well, until one of his assistants gave me a signed The Awful Truth ballcap.

I still have the hat.

But it's not an autographed driver's license.


Oh, oh, oh, oh, sweet child o' mine...

Here's one I'll bet many of you never thought you'd see...

Kevin and Sean

Okay, no. That's not my kid as the photo and the title may imply... nor is it Katie's by some other father... and we did not go on a childnapping spree at the local NICU... or whatever other twisted thought you may be harboring right now.

Say hello to Sean. He's the newborn son of our friends, Jen and Brian. He was born at some ridiculous hour like 5:30 in the morning or some such on April Fool's Day. Kid must've been thinking, "Hey mom! Bet you thought I was gonna stay up in here until that April 12th date we originally discussed. APRIL FOOL'S!!! And I'm wakin' you up reeeaallll early! HA!"

But, seriously, he's a cute kid and he seems to dig me in that he's one of the first babies to not immediately start crying in my presence. I must have that effect. Oh well.

This is also the first baby I ever remember holding. I may have held my brother when he was born. But I was only three years old at the time; you can't really expect me to actually remember that, can you?

Here's a picture of Sean and his real dad, Brian.

Brian and Sean


And many mo-o-o-o-o-re...

Now that it's all over and I've got the photos uploaded and caption at Flickr, I can finally talk about what happened this past weekend.

Although the actual event does not occur for another month and a half, we held a surprise 60th birthday party for my Mom on Saturday night at Traverso's, an Italian restaurant in Naperville. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of pictures to show for it all.

Traverso's
The scene of the crime... Traverso's Italian restaurant in Naperville. Both my brother and I worked there one summer.

My Mom's seat
My dad saved all these things from his 60th birthday party last year for my mom to wear this year.

Mom walks in
The trap is sprung. My Mom's on the left and that's her friend, Lynda, on the right.

The attire
And wear all that stuff she did. All night long.

The floating heads
Three of the co-conspirators. I was manning the camera and my Dad was working the crowd.

Mom and Dad
My Mom and Dad.

The speech
Lynda delivering the first toast while my Mom hides her face. Brian, Jen, Katie, and I delivered a toast/roast as well, but I don't have those photos. I hope someone does.

Blowing out the candles
Thankfully for her, we didn't make her blow out 60 candles.

The aftermath
It was quite a good cake. No leftovers. My Dad was a bit upset.

The teeth
And who to blame?

Opening our gift
Mom opening the gift from Katie, Brian, Jen, and I.

The gift
It was a charm bracelet that Katie had custom made with the birthstones of all four of us (and, as she likes to point out, room for charms of the grandkids, when they happen).

The hug
My Mom's reaction. Yes, she did cry.

Lemon Drops
One final photo of how the four of us spent our evening while setting up. God bless lemon drops.

It was a fun night. Nearly 35 people showed up and we took up nearly the entire event room at Traverso's. The bill? Yeah, I think my Dad would prefer I not talk about it. Quite a few more photos are available for your perusal on Flickr.


Happy, happy, joy, joy!!!

I received an e-mail about an hour ago that made my day! And not in the Dirty Harry sense, either.

It was from my fave indie book store, Anderson's Bookshop, in Naperville, IL, and it was their monthly newsletter listing what authors are coming to town for signings.

I've been to several book signings in the past year, including David Sedaris, Ted Allen, and Anne Rice. Some were great (Sedaris), some were good (Allen), some were so-so (Rice).

This one is going to be ABSOLUTELY FRIGGIN' SPECTACULAR!!! Mark my words! I will guarantee it! Right here, right now! This book signing will go down in the annals of history as one of the best ever. The rest will pale in comparison (well, except Paul Davidson if he makes his way out to the Midwest for signings of The Lost Blogs).

Miscmoore1 It's one of my favorite authors, Christopher Moore, the man behind Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. This is a book I've recommended God-only-knows how many times. I loaned my copy to someone who we lost touch with. I made sure to get back in touch with her because it was a cover that was out of print and I did not want to have to settle for the new cover. That's how much I love this novel. And he's going to be at Anderson's this Sunday at 2 p.m.

Having been to all those signings last year, I know how it works. You show up, pick up your book, get a number for the line, go eat some food, and come back and wait when the start time arrives.

Miscmoore2Since Christopher Moore is scheduled to start signing at 2, I called Anderson's to find out what time I could come in for a number. They said they now do "priority numbering" in which you can get a priority number in line if you come in and buy a book ahead of time. I didn't want to make the trek out to Naperville, but I would have if that was my only option.

Luckily, it was not. They took my order over the phone and are now reserving both his new novel, A Dirty Job, and my priority number. I have no idea what that number is and I'm sure there will be several ahead of me as he is an in-demand author (two N.Y. Times bestsellers, thus far; it might be three as I'm not sure how The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror fared) and I only found out about the signing today. I'm sure there was an announcement in the book section of The Chicago Tribune this past Sunday and I missed it.

Damn. But it will still be better than showing up on the day of and waiting for my number then.

And I will be there. I will gladly wait in line to meet him.

And my copy of Lamb will be signed!!!

I am so stoked!


Break it on down!

This one's for you, Alissa, being the CSI freak that you are...

I was searching through the non-credit catalog for Waubonsee Community College (our local C.C.) recently looking for some Adobe Illustrator courses when I came across the perfect profession for myself and for all of you in the Blogosphere.

It is the Forensic Computer Examiner Program. Check this out...

This 150-hour program prepares individuals for a career as a forensic computer examiner. Students will learn to retrieve evidence and prepare reports, based on that evidence, which will stand up in a court of law. The ethics of computer forensics, and the preparation and analysis of investigation results are also covered in this self-paced class. The primary certification for civilian forensic computer examiners is the Certified Computer Examiner (CCE) certification. This online program is an authorized CCE training course and thoroughly prepares students to take the CCE certification exam. Prereq: Basic computer skills, including the ability to work outside the Windows GUI interface, remove hard disk drives and change jumpers is required. NOTE: The class fee is nonrefundable once enrollment is processed. For a complete syllabus that lists resources included and required purchases, visit www.gatlineeducation.com/waubonsee.

Just try and tell me that doesn't sound cool! How awesome would it be to sit down at a computer and shred it for hidden data?

Okay, I'm sure after a while, the process itself might get a bit tedious. But I think the thrill of the hunt and the actual discovery of the lurid details of someone's personal life would definitely make it worthwhile. Think of it as Googling a person, but juiced up on 'roids (the process, not the person).

This just sounds like it would be a blast, and something that I would be great at.

Now can anyone foot me the $2,895 class fee?


Let's pretend we're strangers for tonight...

Lostblogsbadge_2Ladies and gentlemen, today marks the official one-week countdown until the start of the first Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign for Paul Davidson's forthcoming book The Lost Blogs.

For those not in the know, I suggest you read all about the campaign and please let me know as soon as possible if you would like to participate.

As of today, we are at 37 participants in the campaign/contest. This is far more than I ever expected and even Paul is blown away at how many people are willing to take part in this little brainchild.

As a result of this level of participation, I'm actually going to be taking a week off work to admin the contest. Yes, I know Paul is the one who makes the ultimate determination of who will be winning the prizes, but, since I came up with the idea, I thought it would probably be a good idea to read all the entries as they go up. Plus, I'm just really looking forward to what all of you will have to say. We have a lot of great writers who are willing to give some of their time to help promote Paul's book and it should make the competition that much more interesting.

This will be one of my final pleas to the blogger community... if you are interested, get involved. Spread the word. Take part in a contest that not only promises to be fun, but offers prizes! Yes... prizes!

And, for those of you who have already given the word that you are participating, please drop me a line either via e-mail (link at the top left of this page) or in the comments to this post to confirm that you are still participating and that you have a histoblogger chosen. But, please don't tell me who it is; just that you have one chosen.

Pay attention to my site a little later today as I will post Jen's blogroll of all the participants in the contest in my sidebar. She has helped out a lot by putting this blogroll together and it will make finding the participating blogs that much easier. Thanks, Jen!

To all those participating, good luck! Next week will be a lot of fun.


The thoughts of a fool’s kind of careless...

Julianne Potter: "I'm pond scum. Well, lower actually. I'm like the fungus that feeds on pond scum."

Michael O'Neill: "Lower. The pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum."

--My Best Friend's Wedding, 1997

That is about how I feel right now.

I've been keeping an online journal/blog for a little over eight years now. And, never once in those eight years have I done this. I always wanted to, but could never think of anything quite so good to do. I've read stories upon stories of other bloggers' exploits in this regard. I just never quite had the opportunity to do something similar myself.

Well, this year, that moment presented itself... and I jumped on it. And now I feel like complete crap as a result. I feel like I betrayed you, my readers, and that does not make me feel good at all.

So, for that, I apologize wholeheartedly, and I give you my word that I will not do it again.

My heart has been breaking wondering exactly how you will all respond when you read this.

Whether you realized it or not, yesterday was April Fool's Day. And I took advantage of it. And I wish I didn't.

After reading that first comment from Kilax who has been such a good friend and then the one from Tracy Lynn who is a brand-new reader to my site, it got to be too much. I wouldn't blame you for wanting to scratch my eyeballs out.

But I am not above begging for forgiveness... PLEASE DON'T HATE ME! Forgive me for this moment of weakness! I feel terrible! I really do!


If you're still here and have continued reading on, then how about some lighter April Fool's fare? Our friends at NBC's The Office graced us with a series of gag public service announcements that actually aired on the network using their well-known "The More You Know" format.

I first discovered these while working at the gym on Friday night. I saw Jenna Fischer on screen with the little shooting star that has come to symbolize this series of PSAs. However, the volume was on mute, as we tend to do at the gym, so I had no idea what she was saying. No biggie. Just another PSA to me.

However, I was reading an article yesterday about how George Clooney plans to stalk Gawker.com by flooding them with false celebrity sightings. I had never been to Gawker and decided to check it out. Nothing much, in all honesty, save for a link to the whole series of these PSAs on NBC's site. Thank you, Gawker, for that little tidbit. It's very much appreciated.

Miscofficevideos

There are 16 of them in all and feature, clockwise from top left, Jim (John Krasinski), Kelly (Mindy Kaling), Dwight (Rainn Wilson), Ryan (B.J. Novak), and Pam (Jenna Fischer).

Sadly, the Pam ones weren't that great and the Dwight ones were a bit "off" (but what would you expect from him?). However, Ryan's PSAs more than made up for it.

Here are some of the highlights...

And, here we go again... more hatin' on the black jelly beans. Is there no love?


Opportunity, opportunity, this is your big opportunity...

I received all kinds of responses to my feeble attempts at poetry yesterday from people saying that it's hilarious to people feeling sorry for me for all the crap I endured on Thursday.

However, one response, that none of you saw (because it came in on e-mail), is one that I never in my wildest imagination would have expected to receive.

Miscmsemail

Sorry it's a little blurry. Hard to resize it without killing the clarity of the text. Here is the entire text of the e-mail (complete with corporate disclaimer... ooh boy!):

Dear Mr. Apgar,

This e-mail is being sent in response to the “Ode to Microsoft Windows” posted to your blog on Friday, March 31, 2006.

As a loyal user of Microsoft products (would my employer have it any other way?), I do take issue with your claims that Macintosh OS X is superior to our Windows operating system. And our pending launch of Windows Vista, should you give it the chance it so richly deserves, will be a testament to that claim.

But this is a discussion for another time as I am writing you for an entirely different purpose.

As part of the marketing and promotions staff for Microsoft, I am charged with finding new ways to promote our range of products, and, more specifically, Windows Vista. As you may or may not realize, Vista has taken a virtual beating in the World Wide Web due to the need of our corporation to push back the launch date until later this calendar year.

In order to quell this dissent, I am attempting to find bloggers who would be willing to test a Beta version of Vista. We are asking these bloggers to open up a new blog and begin writing about their experiences from the very beginning as they install the OS through to actual personalization of the user interface and regular daily use of the OS. We want people to see that its implementation will be seamless and even an improvement on how their computer currently operates.

Why am I asking you? While we could easily recruit from a large pool of the Windows faithful, I prefer to portray a more balanced viewpoint. Having a few skeptics amongst our blogger corps would bring about that balance. In the end, of course, we hope to make a loyal user out of you, as well. If we can make a believer out of even the most ardent Macintosh users, there is no reason why Vista would not be a good computing solution for anyone.

I realize that you are a Macintosh user and that you may not even own a Windows-based PC of your own on which you could install Vista. I doubt the Information Services department at your place of employment would allow such an installation on one of their machines, either. If it is the case that you do not own a Windows computer, please inform me and we will send you an IBM ThinkPad for use in this project. The laptop would be yours to hold on to for as long as you remain a blogger on this project. A per-word stipend will also be paid to you. We can discuss details at your earliest convenience.

We hope that our blog campaign is successful so that we can expand it to other product launches in the future. And we would like to see you take part in these, as well. This, of course, would be dependent on your experience with the Beta version of Vista.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Thomas Chamberlain
Assistant Manager of Marketing and Promotions
Windows Division
Microsoft Corporation

Cc: Peter Simmons, Marketing and Promotions; Jane Reyes, Product Development

THC/psr


This email and any attachments are confidential, may contain legally privileged information and are intended solely for the use of the addressee. If you are not the intended addressee and/or have received this email in error, please immediately notify me and delete it from your email system without disclosing its contents or that of any attachments to any third parties and without retaining any copies.

Part of me is morbidly curious and wants so badly to prove him wrong. The other part immediately screams "no way in hell, why would you want to work in cahoots with the Evil Empire!"

So, what should I do? You think I should look into this a bit more and see what it's all about? Finding an employee list on the Microsoft site is an exercise in futility so confirming whether or not he's for real may be entirely out of the question. The e-mail address seems legit, but spam has a way...

What would you do?

Hell, do you think blogging this negates their offer?