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25 posts from October 2007

Pumpkins scream in the dead of night...

First of all, a big ol' Happy Halloween to everyone out there.

Thinkhalloweensm
from ~Zefhar on DeviantArt.com

'Tis my favorite holiday and, as it has for a while, I'm sure it will disappoint me. This year, however, we pared back the candy to a mere two bags and I don't even expect to give all that out. I'm willing to bet I can count on two hands the number of Trick or Treaters we have tonight.

So, instead of disappointing myself further by rubbing in the fact that my holiday has gone downhill, I'm not taking part in SJ's Behind the Mask meme. I would be too sad afterwards. Sorry, SJ. But know I loves ya, hon.

Instead, I'm doing something else food related.

Last night, Katie and I were watching the Food Network's Unwrapped and they began talking about a guy who collects macaroni 'n' cheese boxes from products akin to the classic Kraft. This guy was kinda weird, in all honesty. After all, who collects boxes from mac 'n' cheese?

But, if I took nothing else away from it, I was very hungry afterwards. Hungry for one of my favorite foods growing up. Those wonderful elbow-shaped noodles smothered in cheese sauce. Of course, my mom would only cook the homemade variety when I was young. In fact, the only time I would have Kraft was either at a friend's house or when I got to college. For the most part, Katie and I make Kraft these days just because it's easy and cheap. But she recently blessed me with her on-the-fly homemade variety. Fan-friggin-tastic!

So yeah, it's pretty safe to say that mac 'n' cheese, along with grilled cheese sandwiches, was my favorite food as a kid. I could never get enough. I still can't. I've always sworn that if I became lactose intolerant, I'd likely throw myself off a cliff. Not that there are many viable "cliffs" in the Midwest United States, so it would be a very prolonged attempt at ritual self sacrifice.

I'm now noticing that this hunger is still not gone. As I type this, my stomach is grumbling something fierce.

Would it be entirely inappropriate to cook up some Kraft for breakfast?

Maybe I should bless that handful of kids that come walking by in costume tonight with a box of Kraft-y goodness.

Nah, I'm keeping it for myself. I'm selfish that way. ;-)


The sidewinder sleeps tonight...

How's that saying go? "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry" or something similar? Dunno how mice play into it, but I do know it happens for men (and women... I'd hate to sound sexist as we all have the innate ability to go awry).

Last night, Katie fell asleep really early on the couch while watching TV. After about an hour and a half, I gave up on watching TV and thought it would be a good idea to have her move upstairs into bed.

Not so great a plan.

After struggling to wake her up (I'm not much for carrying anything or anybody up two flights of stairs), I got her upstairs and into bed.

And she was, of course, wide awake after that.

You'd think I'd have learned by now to leave well enough alone. If she's asleep, let her stay that way. Even if it almost seems cruel and unusual to leave her in the living room on a couch amidst all our wall rehab gear.

Next time, I don't care if I have to cover her with a dropcloth, I'm leaving her downstairs.


I walk the line...

We all know that each of us tends to stray away from the really personal topics on their blogs, even if they are so-called "personal blogs." My question to you is, what do you avoid talking about? Where is your proverbial "line in the sand"?

For me, I won't write about the stuff I think would legitimately embarrass someone I know and love. Sometimes, it's hard to know how someone might react to what I would say on here, so I will, on occasion, ask them if they're okay with me talking about it. But if it's something that is painfully obvious it will hurt their feelings or make them want to hide with shame, then I will avoid it.

I won't write directly about topics relating to work such as where I work, anything related to coworkers, or industrial secrets, etc. The only time work comes into play on this blog is when I write about a indirectly related topic like a lack of regular coffee or how I was unwittingly hired as an assassin. Better safe than Dooce'd, right?

However, I will write nearly anything about myself. When it comes to self-flagellation on a blog, I don't seem to have found my boundaries. I'm sure there are some topics I haven't written about, mostly because they seem wholly uninteresting (even moreso than what I already write about), I suppose. I'm sure there have been a few items I've omitted for the sake of preserving some shred of dignity although I cannot figure out at the moment what they could've possibly been because, so far as I can recall, I've embarrassed myself every which way to Tuesday.

So, I guess it's safe to say that I have yet to reach my personal line in the sand, but I know where to stop with those I love and with work. But that still leaves you.

Yeah, yeah Dave, I know I'm pandering for responses here, but it seems like a legitimate question to me.


Every move you make...

This morning, driving up Randall Road in Elgin, IL, in a bronze color, late 80s Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, I swear I saw Osama Bin Laden.

Yep, that's right, Osama himself driving an Oldsmobile.

We passed him by a couple more times and subsequent sightings did nothing to abate this feeling that it was him.

Wouldn't it be ironic if, after all this time, the number one fugitive in the history of the United States was actually hiding in the country where he was wanted? I could see that happening.


Love will keep us together...

I started reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road the day before yesterday on my lunch breaks at work. By the end of yesterday I was 2/3 of the way through the book and beginning to formulate ideas for a review of the book for Fun With Dead Trees. That's when it struck me that I have four book reviews to write still.

Gah!! How did I get so behind??

And I'm about to have a fifth to add to the list. That's not right on so many levels. And, yet, I just don't want to write them. Still. Even after publicly embarrassing myself just now over my slackerdom.

To get over this hump and to give myself further excuse to not write these reviews, yet again, I'm going to throw a meme at you in the extended post.

Continue reading "Love will keep us together..." »


I know you, you know me...

Sometimes it amazes me how mine and Katie's lives have intersected in terms of the people we know. Yeah, I know it's expected now that we're married and whatnot. But to think that some of these crossovers would likely have happened even if we never met is kinda weird.

For example, one of my best friends growing up was a guy named C (clearly not really his name) and one of Katie's best friends was a girl named K (yes, there are lots of Ks in our lives). In college, I met K because we both held similar jobs and became coworkers. Katie met C and became best friends with him. Katie and I met each other's childhood friends before we met each other. Oh yeah, did I also mention that C and K dated for a long time and, I believe, were even engaged? So this constitutes a nice little four-person crossover.

Another example... Katie's principal in grade school was a woman named S. This woman later became Katie's boss when she returned to this school to teach for a while after graduating from college. Shortly afterward, S retired from that job and took another job... where I worked (prior to my current job). Katie's old principal and boss became my coworker.

Well, it has happened again.

In grad school, I had a second job outside of my grad assistant responsibilities because it was good extra money. The job was at a small hardware store and it helped me become acquainted with many of the tools and skills I now use to work around the house. The owner of this hardware store was a guy named R. In this day and age of the giant hardware megamarts like Lowe's and Menard's and Home Depot, R's little hometown hardware shop just couldn't compete. Since I graduated and left his employ, R has downsized his shop to a third the size it was before and now he is trying to sell it. In the meantime, to make money to support his family, he took another job... and became Katie's assistant manager. He just started a couple days ago.

Hey, Universe! While this is cool and all, it's also a bit freaky. Can you stop now?


Bye bye, Miss American Pie...

They say that, sometimes, pictures speak louder than words. I'd like to take a moment to measure the decibel level of a few I took yesterday. If you're interested in more, click on over to Flickr.

Carillon

Reflection

Americana

Okay, so the last photo doesn't exactly fit in the theme I had started. But it's pie! Everyone loves pie! Why question it?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): A happy belated sixth birthday to my friend, lover, and slavemaster.


I just wanna live my life...

I really have a problem with censorship. It can be any sort of censorship, but most specifically when one person, group, or organization tries to enforce their views on others thus restricting their ability to take part in some activity.

This time around, the object of my rant is a parents' group (and the school board) in Tuscola, Texas, who had a ninth-grade English teacher placed on paid leave because he allowed a student to read Cormac McCarthy's Child of God for a pre-Advanced Placement English course.

The teacher, Kaleb Tierce, had a list of books available from which students could pick one for a reading project. This one freshman chose the book and read it. Then the student's parents picked up on it and made the complaint. Now the teacher, who also doubles as an assistant football coach, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor. If charged, he could be charged with a misdemeanor and receive up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

WTF?!?!

This booklist was compiled by all the English teachers in the school and approved by administrators. Yes, it features themes including rape and murder and sex with corpses that may not be appropriate for all, but that's why there are several books on the list. The students have a choice. They don't have to read this book. He didn't force it into this student's hands; they chose it and asked for his approval to read it. Bear in mind that the legal charges aren't likely to come and few people actually want anything to happen the teacher. They really just want the book removed from the list, which it was in response to this complaint. However, a DA is currently examining whether a crime was actually committed.

I just don't understand rationale like this. Especially in this day and age. Do you really think removing a book from a list is going to stop young people from checking it out? No. This might make them want to read it even more. I hope it does. I hope students spite the ignorance of those trying to stop them and go read it anyway.

So there you have it, the inaugural book in the Kapgar Featured Pages Club... Cormac McCarthy's Child of God. Go read it and, while you're doing so, remember that a teacher's job and freedom are at stake because of it.


The sky's the limit but my plane won't fly...

Paid Time Off...

Floating Vacation Days...

Personal Days...

Basically all are just different ways of noting that I have days off coming to me at work. But they're all designated differently. Some roll over from year to year, some expire at the end of a calendar year. With all this terminology, how is one supposed to keep it all straight?

I looked at my pay stub a week ago and discovered that I have one day's worth of personal days and three days worth of floating vacation days and they have to be used by the end of the year or I will lose them. Wait a second. I went on a five-day vacation at the end of May to Las Vegas. Why weren't they used up then?

Seems in my confusion over all this terminology, I marked the wrong box on my vacation request. I made the mistake of chalking up my time off to the only option that does not expire at the end of the year. D'oh!

And now I'm in the, I suppose, enviable position of forcing myself to take four days off before December 31. I know some of you are probably wondering why I'm whining. Wouldn't we all like extra time off? Well, yeah, and I've got plenty to do at home to keep me busy what with our wall project and everything. But I've got plenty to keep me busy at work as well. And trying to plan days off around my projects is never easy.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to lose these days. That's why I'm home today. I got to sleep in and, for the first time in a long time, was actually home while Katie was leaving for work. She's usually still asleep when I leave, so this is quite the change.

So I'll do some work on the walls, surf a bit, maybe watch Hot Fuzz since I got it from Netflix, meet Katie for lunch, work out, etc.

This grand list of potential accomplishments, of course, means I might get one of the above done. Probably the one about surfing.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was in a Starbucks the other day and I noticed a sign by the register advertising a recall on children's mugs. The notice claimed that if the mug fell, it would likely shatter and, thus, create pieces with sharp edges.

Well duh.

Are we going to recall all ceramic, glass, wood, Plexiglas, and plastic products now? They all create sharp edges when broken.

Does anyone else think the Consumer Products Safety Commission is going a little overboard these days? A lot of these very same problems existed throughout my childhood and I like to think I turned out okay. I almost think the CPSC exists so people can be slack-ass parents.


Sing, sing a song...

After a night of sleep that left me wondering not only what day it was but also who and where I was this morning, I think it might be easier to try to lay off deep posts and just run with a meme idea I've had swirling in my head for some time. Oh, and if this has been done before, I apologize. I don't remember seeing one like this yet, so that'll have to be good enough for this morning.

Simply answer the questions below to the best of your ability

Musicology:

  1. What is the first music album you remember owning? If not the same, what is the first music album you purchased for yourself?
  2. What artist currently occupies the most space either in terms of shelf space or megabytes on your hard drive?
  3. How many different types of music media (vinyl, cassette, CD, etc) have you owned in your lifetime?
  4. Who or what has had the biggest effect on your music taste?
  5. How do you currently prefer to listen to music?
  6. In terms of music memorabilia, what is your most prized possession?
  7. Have you ever "swapped headsets" with a complete stranger (meaning have you ever unplugged the earphones from your listening device and plugged them into someone else's player and had them do the same)? If yes, what did they play for you?
  8. Have you ever been completely obsessed with a particular artist? Who and to what level did your fandom go?
  9. What is the farthest you've ever traveled for a concert?
  10. Who have you seen in concert the most?

My answers:

  1. The first one I owned was either my special edition Michael Jackson album that included songs inspired by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or it could've been a Star Wars soundtrack album. The first one I purchased for myself was one of the following that were all purchased around the same time: Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet, Europe The Final Countdown, or Run D.M.C. Raising Hell on cassette. My first CD was actually The Black Crowes Shake Your Moneymaker.
  2. Shelf space is clearly KISS (I own CDs, vinyl, and cassettes) with Pearl Jam in a close second. On my computer, it's a virtual tie between The Beatles, Foo Fighters, INXS, KISS, Led Zeppelin, and U2.
  3. I have owned vinyl, cassettes, CDs, minidiscs, and digital formats. Although my parents also owned 8 Tracks that I listened to but never personally owned.
  4. My biggest influence is probably my parents whose music I still listen to including The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Bee-Gees, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, and Kenny Rogers. But I also remember being at a Cub Scouts meeting when I was about 11 years old. Our meetings were held at a local high school and they used to post mini biographies of students on the wall of the cafeteria. In one of those bios, the student said he was a big fan of Bon Jovi, Europe, and Run D.M.C. I had to find out what they were all about (hence my answer to #1) and it's been downhill ever since.
  5. iPod is the only way for me to listen to music. As Katie said the other day, my iPods go pretty much everywhere with me. CDs are used once to put the music on my computer so it can be transferred to my iPod (if I even buy CDs at all anymore).
  6. I have a collection of concert-used guitar picks from artists like Jackyl, Van Halen, Buddy Guy, INXS, Pantera, etc. But my prized possession is a CD insert signed by all the guys in Jackyl. Not that it's particularly valuable in a monetary sense, but I obtained it at one of the last concerts I went to with my buddy, Mike, before he died. Great times.
  7. I have, but only once. I think they played some Lemonheads for me. I've been addicted ever since.
  8. While I've liked bands greatly, I've never been really obsessed. But my friend Mike (see #6) was completely obsessed with KISS and I shared in his obsession to some degree. We would drive around to various music memorabilia shops in Illinois and Iowa to pick up stuff to add to his collection. He was attempting to save the money to purchase a KISS pinball machine at the time he died. I still want to buy one to dedicate to him.
  9. I drove with my buddies the whole length of I-55 from Chicago to Louisiana in 1997 to see U2 play at the Superdome in New Orleans. Great concert.
  10. I have seen Van Halen, KISS, and Rocco DeLuca and the Burden three times each. Of course VH and KISS were spread out over several years, while the three Rocco shows spanned eight days only.

As always, steal if you're so inclined.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Bwahahahahahahaha!!


But you won't let those robots defeat me...

I was e-mailing my Reporter Buddy J (RBJ) the other day and, for whatever reason, this little "aside," for lack of a better way to describe it, came up.

RBJ: Here's a thought, if you needed to become a cyborg to save your life, what machine would you like them to get parts from? I think it might be handy to have some TiVo parts help restore me... I would also like some waffle iron capabilities...

Me: Well, if you have TiVo parts installed, you could rewind to a healthier time of your life. Perfect! I wanna be an HD TiVo, though. Kevin 2.0 HD!

RBJ: Wouldn't everyone be able to see your flaws better in HD?

Me: You are so cup-half-empty. I think they'd all be admiring my perfection! *hack* *cough*

RBJ: sure, because everyone loves to talk about other people's good attributes...

Me: It's the society we live in. No self obsession whatsoever, right? So why a waffle iron? I would think a Foreman Grill might be pretty handy and quite a bit more universal in its application than a waffle iron.

RBJ: Everything tastes better in waffle form...

Me: That it does, my friend. That it does. How about a noodle maker? You can have a different shape to express your daily moods. I'm feeling rather elbow macaroni myself.

RBJ: I've heard making pasta is a lot of work, and that's the last thing I want to do as a cyborg, work harder.

Yeah, there was more to this conversation both at the beginning and the end. But this is the part that is applicable to this post. I'm just pointing this out so you don't think RBJ and I blindly e-mail each other weird science fiction-based questions for no reason whatsoever. This was an evolving conversation. Or devolving as some might argue.

So what kind of everyday appliances and gadgets would you have in yourself if you were a cyborg?

Katie is shooting to be an iPhone Cyborg. While I do still like the idea of having an HD TiVo in me, I can't say I'm adverse to having an iPhone as well. And, since the current generation of iPhones do not have GPS capability, the government will never be able to find me and shut me down as I rain hell on humanity and take over the world!!

Muahahahahahahahaha!!!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Three words... Calves And Ladders.

No this is not some new children's game. It is, instead, my new lower-body workout regimen.

With this plan, you will never again need to power walk, jog, cross-train, run, or use a StairMaster. I guarantee it. *

However, if you're acrophobic, you might want to take a pass on this.

It is the Kapgar Calves and Ladders routine. Simply find yourself the tallest extension ladder you can and climb as high as your nerves will allow. Wait a second until your legs tense up from fear, hug the ladder, and pray.

The tension level will work your leg muscles like nothing you've ever experienced. After a week with the Calves and Ladders routine, I've got legs that would make Schwarzenegger in his prime feel flush with shame.

Now if only it would help me shed my gut. Damn.

* No, kapgar really doesn't guarantee anything. He can't. He's not a licensed personal trainer. This is an unfounded claim and any attempt to "hold him to it" will result in zero payout within the court system. Thank you for your understanding as kapgar tends to go a bit overboard from time to time.

--Bill Banger, esq., kapgar's legal representation


And it makes me smile...

Howsabout some snippets?

Clean-up
The post-mouse clean-up continues in Casa Kapgar. I'm feeling less and less bad about the steps I had to take to eliminate our houseguest considering how much he, well, "left behind" for us. We completely wiped the counters clean with bleach cleaner. Same with under the sink and our lower food cabinets. His presence was felt in many, many places, if you know what I mean. We also wound up throwing out a lot of foodstuffs. The little prick even got inside the cannister we use to hold many of our kitchen utensils. Yeah, that's right, we emptied it out to find little brown specks all over the inside. Not fun. Not at all.

Jericho
Do you remember back in May when I announced I won a radio contest for a DVD box set of Twin Peaks, season 2, and I was confused because I couldn't remember entering the contest? Well, I still don't remember entering it, but I have won something else from the very same station. This one I'm pretty sure I remember entering but only because I didn't think there was a prayer of actually winning it.

It's the first season of Jericho.

I started watching this show last season and made it through a handful of episodes before giving up. It wasn't fantastic, by any stretch. But it wasn't terrible. And I think, this time, I may actually watch it. Heck, it's free so why not, right?

But I would like to know when I'm going to start winning the contests I want to win. That's not asking too much, is it?

Muzak
Oh the agony I could've saved my fellow man if only I'd had a rocket launcher installed on my truck. I'd be a hero to millions the world over who are tired of bad music being piped into their workplaces and offices and stores they visit on a daily basis.

Target acquired

Sorry it's a bit blurry. I was driving at the time. And I did black out his license plate. I'm not targeting this guy specifically so no need to worry him and, consequently, the local authorities. But that doesn't make Muzak any less evil.

Lily
Typically I'm one of those people who knows immediately whether he likes an album or not. I can listen to it once and know if I will ever listen to it again. That's just how I roll.

But Lily Allen's Alright, Still has me a bit confused.

I really can't decide if I like it or not. Some of it appeals to me but in a way I can't quite put in words and, thus, I don't know if I truly like it.


Please bury me with it...

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

It's been 32 years, 10 months, and... forget it. Let's just hope the body my soul inhabited before me was more repentant than I have been up to this point. Plus, we all know I'm not Catholic. Why pretend?

I am here asking for your forgiveness for killing one of your creatures.

It was a dastardly thing to do, but he didn't give me much choice. The little sub-rat bastard moved in my house. He wouldn't leave. He had taken up residency in the insulation of my stove! If he had been there much longer, he might've gnawed through cables thus requiring me spending hundreds of dollars on repairs or a replacement.

So I did it. I went to Ace and bought a trap. I couldn't poison him or he might die in the insulation and then stink up the place while rotting. I was told glue traps wouldn't work and might just hurt him more if he hits in an awkward position and stays there all night. Box traps wouldn't work because there was no way to set it up to guarantee he'd use it.

I needed something he wouldn't miss. Something I could set in the path that I had observed him taking several times before.

I bought a snap trap instead. And I placed it in that one spot... his common exit and entry point. Within 15 minutes of shutting off the lights, I heard it snap shut. During Letterman, too... just as six interns were about to be jumped over by some street daredevil.

He was killed instantly. No pain that I can imagine. He just laid there.

I instantly felt remorse over what I'd done. I even apologized to him. Too little, too late, I'm sure. But still.

I never wanted to kill him but I knew there was no choice if I wanted to avoid the fees for replacing our oven. And I cannot afford that. And nothing else was working. He was just too quick, too nimble, and too smart. And all he wanted was to avoid the cold outside. But these are all just excuses.

Even this morning, I can still see him in my mind's eye.

I'll probably be haunted by this a while.


A question for you...

Okay, so I'm a bit late jumping on board Hilly's meme. Sue me!

No wait. Please don't do that. I'm not particularly well off in terms of money as it is and if you were to take the little bit I do have, I'd be really screwed. So, instead of suing me, just chastise me in the comments. Deal?

Phew! That was a close one.

Anyway, about a week ago, Hilly posted a series of questions about herself and we were to guess the answers. Several other bloggers have run with her idea in a far more timely manner than I and, now, finally, here I am throwing myself to the wolves. I'm going to put a little spin on it though. Each question will have a final option in which you all should feel free to put in your own answer for fun. Of course, you can always answer the questions seriously and still give a fill in just for kicks. This should be interesting... soliciting the opinions of the Peanut Gallery. Oh boy.

1. What's my favorite meal of the day?

a. Breakfast
b. Lunch
c. Dinner
d. [your twisted answer]

2. In real life, am I?
a. Painfully shy
b. A bit removed until I'm comfortable
c. The most talkative person in the room
d. [your twisted answer]

3. What is my biggest pet peeve?
a. People that dogear pages and break spines on books
b. Bad drivers
c. People who worship George Bush and Ann Coulter
d. [your twisted answer]

4. What is my preferred method of punishment for people that annoy me?
a. Castration with rusty pruning shears (or something equivalent for females)
b. Complete and total embarrassment via posting on my blog
c. Bitch smack with a morning star
d. [your twisted answer]

5. Of the major media forms out there, what could I not live without?
a. Movies
b. Television
c. Music
d. Books
e. [your twisted answer]

6. What is my favorite holiday?
a. Christmas
b. Halloween
c. Easter
d. Thanksgiving
e. Black Friday
f. Casimir Pulaski Day (you'd have to live in Illinois to understand this one)
g. [your twisted answer]

7. My perfect day?
a. All day surfing the Web
b. Sleeping
c. Just seeing where the day takes us
d. [your twisted answer]

8. My ideal vacation?

a. Sightseeing trip to Alaska
b. A month with no set plans in the U.K.
c. Wandering where I was nearly born... Australia
d. Just hiding away with a good book
e. Road trip to fill in the gaps of those U.S. state I haven't visited
f. Watching the Cubs play in the World Series
g. [your twisted answer]

9. What is Kevin not capable of doing?
a. Snapping his fingers
b. Winking
c. Whistling
d. Although it terrifies me... [your twisted answer]

10. What is Kevin's dream car?
a. Dodge Viper
b. Chevy Corvette
c. Ford Cobra
d. While Kevin may claim one of the above is correct, the truth is he knows nothing about cars
e. [your twisted answer]

Yay! Behind the times though I may be, I finally got my own version done. Not an easy task at all.


Cristal on ice...

It amazes me how fast life moves when you're running behind schedule much like I am this morning simply because I hit "off" instead of "snooze" on my alarm clock. Yeah, the extra 55 minutes of sleep felt great and looking at the clock to realize what time it was is better than a triple shot espresso to get you going, but I just don't want to make a habit of it.

It's not just myself that's moving fast to get things done, though. I feel like everything else around me is moving with equal speed. The things that I see are blurring together like objects outside a race car. It's almost comical really. It felt like the water in the shower was raining down faster, the fan in our room was spinning with no abandon, trains outside tearing past like bullets, and my fingers are ripping across the keyboard right now... you get the idea.

I feel as though I'm living a time-lapse life this morning. Instead of working at 60 frames per second, my life is only capturing one frame out of every minute of my life and then tearing through its presentation at regular speed thus appearing much, much faster.

How do I make it slow down?

And don't say "decaf."

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): From the "Mark Another Thing Off My List Of Stuff To Do Before I Die" department, I can now officially say I've had Cristal! I'm not going to share in the details as to why, but I did. And, even before I knew it was Cristal, I thought it was a pretty good tasting champagne so it's not as though my opinion of it was tempered by the knowledge of what it was.

So, yeah, I enjoyed it.


Do the evolution...

So sue has tagged me with a writing idea. Using her description, I am to "participate in a blog meme about the evolution of my blog." I'm not really sure if it's a meme as it's not a series of personal questions and that's how I've come to define a meme, but it is still certainly personal in nature.

Blogging: An Evolution
by Kevin Apgar, Blog.D. (Doctorate of Blogging)

I was never one for writing. Apparently I was decent at it to the point where teachers enjoyed reading the drivel I turned in as homework and research projects. But for fun? No.

I never kept a journal when I was growing up. Never wanted to. Always struck me as "girlie."

Actually, I just never thought my life warranted any sort of documentation. I was an average kid growing up. Played with toys, played outside, had friends, went to school, played in the occasional sports team, grew up, liked girls, sucked at dating, graduated, went to college, held some jobs, tried dating a little more, discovered drinking, graduated (I think), went to grad school, worked a lot more. You get the idea.

In grad school, I took my first Web design course. For a beginner project, I set up a page with movie reviews. For a second project, I expanded what I had designed before rather than start anew. I had to come up with something, so I decided to create a static journal-like entity that contained just my personal views of things that I had witnessed in life. I wrote maybe a paragraph or two per entry and those entries only came out a couple times a week, if that.

Then I actually launched the site on GeoCities. This moved over to Yahoo and became a slightly more regular affair. I would write a couple more times per week and expand the length of my entries by a little more each time as I became more accustomed to my own personal writing style.

In 2005, after seven years of maintaining my static "blog" on Yahoo, I began talking with Dave and he convinced me that using blogware was the way to go. Basically, I did it because of RSS feeds and the idea that people could subscribe to my site and be notified of updates instead of having to remember to stop by every day or so.

The other big benefit was the ease of use. Without having to worry about coding, I was free to focus more on my writing and this resulted in me writing every day, much to Katie's chagrin. For 15 months straight, I posted every day, sometimes even twice a day. Now, however, I stick mostly to weekdays unless I'm moved enough to write something up on Saturday or Sunday.

I stick with it despite the constant claims that blogging is dead and while watching many of my fellow bloggers drop off the face of the Earth (we still miss you Brando and Chanakin!) simply because I love the interaction that is fostered in the blogging community and I've met way too many cool people to want to say bye. It's a very fulfilling hobby. I write, you read, we interact. It doesn't get much better than that.

And that's the story of my blog-volution.

No, I'm not tagging anyone. If you want in, just steal the idea and let me know you did so I can read it.


Don't leave me high...

This is an excerpt of a conversation I had yesterday with my office mate (MyOM)...

Me: So I discovered why the break room has three different coffee pots. One decaf is for full strength and one is for half strength. The regular pot is for full strength caffeinated. They use one and a half packets of grounds for full strength and one packet for half strength although that doesn't necessarily add up mathematically.

MyOM: Sounds a bit too complicated for me.

Me: I agree. I think they should all be the way I like it... black, regular, and strong.

[awkward silence]

Me: Umm...

MyOM: Yeah, I'm not going to touch that one.

Me: It really didn't sound quite so bad in my head.

MyOM: It never does.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It was announced a few weeks back that Radiohead was going to ditch iTunes when they release their new album, In Rainbows. Their complaint was that, on iTunes, people could buy just a song or two and not the entire album. They feel their album is one complete narrative and that it should be purchased as an all-or-nothing deal.

Artistically, I can understand where they're coming from. But, as a fan, I think they're being selfish and bullheaded. That's the beauty of iTunes and other online music stores, you can buy what you want when you want it. And you'll own the music legally.

Then Radiohead made another announcement... In Rainbows is being offered up on their Web site in either discbox or download format and you pay what you think it's worth to you. Whether the amount is $0, the normal $10-15 for an album, or even more, you pay what you feel the album should be valued at. It's an interesting concept and one I'm willing to try. I'm especially willing since I'm not as big a fan of Radiohead's newer tunes. I much prefer their old stuff like The Bends and OK Computer. But, with that offer in place, I'll definitely give this new album a shot.

Radioheaduptoyou

Upon further examination, you are subject to a transaction fee if you order the download as opposed to the discbox version. Not sure how much that is yet, but we shall see. Plus, if you order the discbox, you get it a week ahead of those who buy the downloadable format.

So what is Radiohead worth to you?


Come crumblin', tumblin'...

Happy celebration of the man who accidentally landed on our shores while trying to exploit Chinese trade routes and then oppressed our native peoples and stole their land to the point where, today, they only own enough land to open casinos! Yay, America!

And how did Katie and I spend our Columbus Day weekend? By "discovering" the native state of being of the walls in our living room prior to the previous owners of our home deciding to plaster the hell out of it in order to achieve some funky faux finish.

It's truly not pretty... and it's also not nearly done. Got a couple more weeks of work left to do on it.

Anyway, here are some photos of what we've done so far...

The wall and board
The wall prior to our destruction. We are currently in the process of tearing down that board you see and then stripping off all the textured crap above it. It starts at about eight feet up and continues to the ceiling at 17 or 18 feet.

Quarantine zone
This is our kitchen. Or, at least, it used to be. Now it looks like a place to house people who are bitten by diseased monkeys. See that chair under the ladder? There's another one to the left of it and that's where I'm typing from at this moment.

For more photos or to track our progress on this project, check the Flickr photoset.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I logged in to my Facebook account this morning and saw just how pathetically far behind the times I was. My request queue for friends and applet adds is enormous! Holy crap! I need to find a day to just sit back and discover all the fun that can be had. God knows that's one thing Facebook has on MySpace, it's fun. Almost too fun.


Call me...

More snippety goodness...

Caffeinated
There was regular coffee in the breakroom today! Yay me!

Cub-boom
Here's a quick note to anyone who knows that I am a Cubs fan and would like to tease me over the fact that the Cubbies are now down by two games to the D-Backs... yep, I realize it. And no, it doesn't phase nor upset me in the slightest. I am so desensitized by disappointment that any Cubs failure really does nothing to me. My expectation for success is about as high as my expectation that a Will Ferrell movie won't annoy me. Yeah, pretty low.

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle.

Freebies
I love how the Apple iTunes Store gives stuff away for free. Most of the time, it's a B-side to a new album, or a music video, or some song by an artist or new TV show you've never heard of in a hope to give them a popularity boost. Whatever. The key is that it's free.

However, when the freebie is something that I know and love, it's all the better. Take, for instance, the free episode of American Dad that is currently being offered. It was this past Sunday's "Vacation Goo" episode which I thought was brilliant and left me in stitches. And to make it free? Score!

Overlay
I know it's common for areas to be "redistricted," for lack of a better way to word it, in terms of area codes for phone service. Heck, since I've lived in Illinois, I have had four area codes. The reason for this is because the proliferation of new technologies like fax machines and cell phones over the past couple decades has necessitated more numbers within an area code and, thus, the coverage area must shrink and new area codes must be added.

But what I hate is when overlay area codes are applied. This occurs when a single geographic area has two area codes working in it rather than redividing the area. This has already happened in other parts of the Chicago suburbs and now it will affect my area as well. We will soon see the 331 area code work in our 630 zone and all phones, faxes, cells, etc., must be reprogrammed because we must now dial the full 10 (or 11, if you need to use the 1, but cellphones don't need them) digit number to make a local call.

GRRRRRRR!!!

Redesign
I'm pretty sure I mentioned this on here somewhere recently, but I am going to make the jump to WordPress pretty soon. My hope was to have all this done by the middle of this month, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I've got so much crap going on that doing anything to my blog other than posting is just an impossibility. Heck, I haven't even transferred my domain over to a new host yet and that's really the first thing I need to do to make it a reality.

But I do think I finally have a photo in mind for my banner. That's one baby step in the right direction.

Speaking of redesign, I have two sites that I worked on in the past for friends and family to which I need to make some stylistic tweaks. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that all the source files for these sites are nowhere to be found. Original raw images? Nothing. Layered Photoshop images? Nada.

This ticks me off. Now I have to recreate the images from scratch. So not fun.


It's hip to be square...

Snip, snip...

Cube'dCube
For the first time in, I believe, five years, my Rubik's Cube is finally solved! Yay me!

Do you find the timing odd considering Dave's post a couple days ago? Well, yeah, I do have him to thank as the solution he linked to is what ultimately helped me solve it.

I had tried just about everything short of peeling the stickers off and putting them back on (the way I did it when I was a kid). Heck, I even tried to pry it apart (see below), but to no avail. I also tried online solutions and none of them, until Dave's link, worked worth a lick.

Claw'd Cube

But it's done. And now that I know it's possible to solve it and how to do it, I may shuffle it back up and try it again. But not yet. I'd like some time to revel in my accomplishment.

WMPy WMPy WMPy
On that rare occasion that I listen to a CD at work instead of my iPod, I have to use Windows Media Player and, sorry kilax and Diane, but it sucks. I have the worst time trying to figure out the functionality of this piece of software. Everything is so scatterbrained that you can tell a committee worked to set it up.

However, I did get a little laugh from it yesterday. I put in a compilation CD that was not registered with the CDDb and, as expected, none of the CD's information registered in the player. But I still got this in the identifier box...

Unknownbuy

I love it! They don't know who it is, what album it is, or what genre it is... but I can still buy it!

Stupid Microsoft.

Daisies
I owe Dave an apology. I challenged him a bit on the new show Pushing Daisies which premiered last night. He said it was great and that we would all love it. I left a comment saying it better be as good as he keeps hyping it to be.

Well, he was right (yeah, yeah, stroke his ego some more, right?). It was quirky and fun and it had heart and it was beautifully rendered and wonderfully cast and... I just hope they can keep it up. Think the good ol' days of Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands era) meets Dr. Seuss and you'll have some idea of the feel for the show. Then realize it's about a guy who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. But if he touches them again, they die forever and if he doesn't re-kill them within a minute, there will be drastic consequences on another living being around him.

Very cool.


Tell me more, tell me more...

When you learn to write for the news, there are certain tips you are given that you should really live by no matter what. For example, if it's a press release, all the pertinent information should be conveyed right in the opening paragraph. Then, of course, there is the five Ws rule... to cover the who, what, when, where, and why (and how, too, but that's not a W).

But one of the most important rules, and one that is continually violated, is to make sure your headline grabs the reader. With attention spans as short as they are, it is important that you use your headline to draw a reader in. Sadly, in the age of the Web, when news needs to be turned around immediately, the thought process with regard to headlines isn't really there anymore. Take, as a random sample, some of the headlines on my Yahoo homepage at this moment...

Five dead in Colorado power plant accident - yeah, tragic for sure. But do I want to read more? Not really.

Isiah Thomas sexually harassed executive - any surprise here? Guess it takes the heat off his coaching inability.

Nic too cagey for home invader - boring.

Diesel, Walker reteam for new "Fast and Furious" - NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

However, once in a while you find a gem of a headline. One that is almost too perfect. It leaves you wanting to read because your mind becomes flooded with imagery regarding the substance of the article. It grabs you, shakes you awake, and makes you need to read it. This headline came from an Associated Press reprint in yesterday's Daily Herald...

Brain-eating amoeba killing more as lake waters get warmer

Say whaaa??? Who, in their right mind, wouldn't want to read about a mutant amoeba that chows on gray matter? Not me! Especially when the article comes from Phoenix, Arizona, making it that much closer to home! I want to read! Tell me that when you read this headline, you don't suddenly become bombarded with snippets from old 50s black and white horror films. Oh the possibilities elicited from such a graphic headline. This could be the start of the zombification of America! I LOVE IT!!

Before you all get on my case, I realize this is a tragedy and six people have died from it this year. That's a horrible thing, for sure. And I shouldn't make light of it, right?

Don't make light of it...

Resist temptation...

Don't say it...

Oh-no, here it comes...

It certainly does explain a lot of the people I encounter on a daily basis, though.

I tried. I really tried.


Wanna be your superhero...

What triggers a person to have a specific dream?

Shouldn't every dream that a person has be attributable to some external factor?

For example, if I just had a particularly strenuous workout at the gym, then it's understandable that I have a dream in which I'm walking down the street, muscles rippling through my shirt. As I pass, all the women swoon while the men they are with stare daggers in my general direction for visually winning the hearts of their women.

Or, if it's storming out as I sleep, my brain registers the storm and turns it into a dream in which I'm running for my life as lightning bolts strike the ground where I was just stepping. Sorta like an episode of The A-Team in which the enemy is so bad, all they can do is shoot where one of our illustrious former Special Forces guys was, instead of where they are or will be. Anybody who knows anything about pop culture knows that A-Team villains are the only ones who have a worse weapons accuracy rating than Stormtroopers.

Both of these make sense, right?

Turtle So how do I go about explaining my dream last night in which I was viewing an episode of a show very highly similar to VH-1's Flavor of Love, in which one pseudo-star is surrounded by some of the strangest and most desperate women known to man who are willing to turn his every wish into reality for the chance to be with him. Only this time, instead of Public Enemy's Flavor Flav, for whom the show was named, the star was Entourage's Turtle. No, not Jerry Ferrara, the guy who played Turtle on Entourage, but Turtle himself. Sorta like his association as part of Vinnie Chase's posse resulted in enough star power to warrant inclusion in the next iteration of the show.

Explain that one, will ya?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Spam comments on a blog never truly make sense. Usually they are garbled B.S. that is meant to look like a comment. But the one thing they all seem to have in common is a link either in the URL field of the comment or built into the comment itself that would guide some unlucky soul to a Web site hawking porn, religion, or prescription medication (a motley mix, indeed).

So what is the purpose of this one? There was no link to any sort of freakfest Web site whatsoever, just a very loosely related comment on my first Lost Blogs post from last year...

Hi Paul, are you realy dying. 30 is far to young to die. Now I typed in 'God is dying". Are both you and God dying. Now I feel bad about that. God talked to me. He told me a number of things. If you are dying and you have been say a good boy during your life, you really don't die. You get a new and better body in the next life. We will even call it your birthday. I know you say that you have been born, but you get to be born again. I hope in your short years that you learned as much as you could. You will need that knowledge in the nest life. See you in the next. Love Angel Melanie. ;-)

Huh? Do you think Angel Melanie realizes that the post was written from the point of view of a horse?

*DELETE*


Flesh and blood...

While Katie and I were washing and waxing my truck last night, we overheard a dad across the street playing soccer with his daughter and her friends in their backyard...

Father (to girls): No, no, don't let her score!

Me (to Katie): That statement will take on a whole new meaning in about 10 years.

Katie: Yup.

If karma is legit, I know I'm now going to be "blessed" with twin daughters. Go fig, eh?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I were able to get our C.S.I. on this past Saturday as we were driving to our friends' house for game night.

We became transfixed by a trail of red splatter on the highway. It was clearly following the path that some vehicle well ahead of us was taking and we're pretty certain it was blood. We followed it for probably about six miles on the highway and then it just so happened to use the same exit ramp we were taking and clearly stopped at a light because there was a big red puddle sitting there. Then it continued on for another half mile before turning off a street that we weren't able to take because we were already running late.

So now the vote... Katie thinks an animal got stuck under the vehicle and was dragged. I took a much darker route thinking it could've been some kind of severely unprofessional mafia hit (seriously, who forgets to line their trunk with plastic to catch the blood?).

Any other theories? I'm open to wickedly disgusting ideas here.