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25 posts from July 2008

Take a walk on the wild side...

In an age where portable devices are becoming more and more prevalent, you knew that legislation would follow. Some states are banning the use of cellphones without headsets while driving. Some are banning text messaging while driving. Some are just passing legislation for younger drivers.

In all, I agree with all of them. Anything to make these hellish roads safer.

But this one is a little odd. Some politicos in Chicago are pushing to make the use of wireless devices while walking illegal.

Upon first read, this sounds ridiculous. Then you hear that it's actually only for those people in crosswalks. That's when it starts to make more sense. People don't pay attention anymore, period. Now we have the attention paid to handheld devices making it even worse.

However, I have to ask, exactly what will be banned? It sounds like it's just texting, but I've seen enough idiots talking on the phone and strolling out into traffic as though all cars should stop for them. Will they ban talking on the phone as well? Must you then use a hands-free headset to talk? Will my fear of a world full of cyborgs with machinery sticking out the sides of the skulls be realized? What about Web browsing or scrolling through a playlist on an iPod? Sure an iPod isn't "wireless" in the same sense that a cell phone is, but it can be just as distracting.

Well, one thing's for sure... the Chicago Police Department will finally have legitimate justification for their fleet of Segways.

Hey, got a meme for you in the extended post. Enjoy.

Continue reading "Take a walk on the wild side..." »


I don't feel like dancin', no sir, no dancin' for me...

Grab your scissors, it's time for Snippet Wednesday #9!

Waiting
I've always read the stories about how Netflix supposedly flags your account when you rent too many movies in too short a period of time. The theory is that this is them thinking that you're ripping movies and making your own copies. I was what I liked to think of as a Netflix Preferred Customer... not renting too many, not renting too few. Therefore, I was not being penalized and I was always sent the "long wait" or "very long wait" DVDs immediately. Not anymore apparently. I've been waiting for Mad Men, s1 d1, ever since its release. I'm getting tired of it. I know it's popular, but damn Netflix. Give it up already.

Cuil'd
Some of the developers that worked on Google have splintered off and launched their own Web search engine, which they tout searches three times as many pages as the king. The engine is called Cuil (Irish for "knowledge" and it is pronounced "cool") and to be honest, I'm not impressed. Okay, so some bugs may need to be worked out of the system, but why the hell would you launch it if it weren't at least close to ready. I played with it on the first day and none of the links off the main page worked at all and I'm not too keen on how the results are presented on the page either. Seriously, when the search engine doesn't even find your own site when you enter its name into the search, there's something wrong. Hell, Google already registers Cuil as the top result when you search for the name. Cuil, not so much. I don't see this happening. Sorry. And I'm not the only one.

TEAL
This is my kinda street team. TEAL stands for Typo Eradication Advancement League and they are four people who traveled the U.S. this year trying to correct typos that are out there for the public to see. It's funny as hell. Click on any of the points on the map and you can go through to their blog where they detail what they did in each locale. Great stuff.

Hero
I have a new hero. His name is Daniel Morey and he is a carpenter from nearby Naperville. He also recently won a Lego building competition and has been added to the Lego payroll so he can build all day long every day at the new Legoland Discovery Center that is opening tomorrow at the Streets of Woodfield outside Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL. Lucky bastard.

Quaked
I think everyone I know was in the LA area for the quake that hit yesterday. My brother, Karl, Whit, Erin. I can safely assume Hilly and Neil as well. And I am so so jealous. I miss the New Madrid earthquake, I miss all tornadoes. Eventually karma's just gonna hit my ass with the perfect storm, isn't it?

Fifth
According to a recent study, one fifth of Americans are watching TV online instead of on their TV. Really? That many? I know a handful at most. And I'm not one of them. I'm sorry, but I can't stand sitting in front of my computer to watch a TV show. That's what my TV and DVD player are for. And I'm not about to trade my 42" plasma for a 19" computer monitor... a couch for a card table chair. Now if this study includes watching on an iPod, okay. I do that when I'm away from my beloved plasma, but not otherwise. Do you?

Rollin'
I've been meeting a bunch of new bloggers lately via teh Intarwebs and I have my guestposting stint on Karl's site to thank for many of them. So last night I started adding a bunch to my blogroll. In recent weeks, my roll has jumped from the mid 60s to about 81. And I'm not even sure I got them all. I was half asleep as I made the updates, so please do me a favor and check for your site on there. If it's not posted, please don't think I overlooked you intentionally. I just glazed over. Seriously. Just tell me and I'll add you in. That's really all it takes.


It's got nothin' to do with Mexican food...

Actually, it's got everything to do with Mexican food. But I just love the theme song from Marzipan Taco (I only wish the guys would record a new podcast finally) and decided to steal it here. Sue me. No wait, don't.

But hey, I promised, and technology played nice, so... welcome to the debut episode of The Damn Fool Network! Yes, the audio and video are a bit out of sync. Seems like the camera likes to add a bit of delay when it shows my face, but seems to work fine when it's not my face on screen. So what does that tell ya? Hell if I know.

Anyway, enjoy!


The Damn Fool Network: Guacamole from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): My buddy madirishman (as you've seen him in the comments on my posts) asked if I could help promote a new Facebook group he created. It's called the "Worldwide Irish Pub Crawl" and what he wants members to do is post pictures of some of their favorite Irish pubs the world over. Places where they are proud to gullet the Guinness. I'm a member (actually, I'm an officer) and AmyD has joined as well. This sort of thing could be cool for people who love to eat and drink in Irish pubs and are looking for new places to visit when they're out of town.

So c'mon by, join, and post away.


Stop the world...

Everyone knows what it's like to mistype something. Your finger strays and hits the incorrect key. Nothing big... usually. Heck, most of the time, the spellchecker will catch it.

Unless, of course, the "mistyped" word is still a word in its own right. I heard a story about someone in public relations who was trying to type the word "public" in a press release. The finished, and sent, press release instead contained the word "pubic." Hmmmm...

Now try typing code for a Web page. A mistype can be disastrous. Yes, it can completely fubar the page. Sometimes it's easy to find and correct it when you immediately realize what's going on. Other times, not so easy.

And, then there are those instances that are just laughably hilarious.

Take, for example, today. I tend to use an HTML tag known as "<strike>" when using placeholder text on a draft page. This lets me know that the text needs to be replaced with completed copy before I make it live. This tag displays strikethrough text, or text with a line going through the middle of it kinda like crossing it out with a pen. I had to type in this tag several times via Dreamweaver as it's not one of the default function buttons in this particular version. For some reason, my middle and ring fingers on my right hand couldn't decide who should be typing and I wound up with...

<stroke>blah blah blah</stroke>

(note: for those not familiar with HTML coding, the use of a "/" denotes the end of the piece of text that will display with a strikethrough).

Hmmm... probably not the most accurate use of code in the world.

But wouldn't it be nice if it were that easy to control medical conditions and other worldly problems? Just close the tag to end it all. Hey world, I'm going to </cancer> and </HIVAIDS> and </starvation> and </war> and </hatred> and </discrimination> and so many other things with the press of a few keys!

Ojalá que si...

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Sorry my follow up to last Friday's pepper challenge isn't up yet. I've got most of it done, now I just need to edit. Yes, it's a video post. But it wasn't done in one straight shot. I had to record in a half dozen or so segments and now I need to edit them all together. We shall see. It's been years since I've done video editing. Like eight years. That's a long time and a lot of changes in how the software works. Gah!


I want some hot stuff...

Well, let's see... we have Avitable complaining about everyone on the Web being "either crabby, bitchy, stubborn, depressed, pathetic, upset, crying, or some combination thereof," SJ hoping to "avoid the drama shitstorm polluting the blogiverse lately," and me with absolutely no clue what the hell is going on... yet again. Or maybe I do and I just don't recall. Am I not reading the right blogs?

Sometimes I really feel out of it with what is happening out here. It makes me sad because I cannot relate to what everyone else is involved with. And, yet, part of me feels happy to not know because then I'm not forced to take sides. So I suppose there's an upside.

In an effort to forget about all this drama I know nothing about, I decided to go get lost in a recently opened Whole Foods. A couple of my coworkers swear by the place so I had to see it for myself.

45 minutes of aimless wandering later and my head is swimming no less than it was before. Just with thoughts of food. My God, that place is scary inside! I haven't felt this overwhelmed by a grocery store since I set foot in Woodman's. And that place is scary!

But I did walk out with some good stuff...

Hot hot hot

The question now is, what am I planning to do with all this spicy goodness? And, no, "giving himself salmonella poisoning" is not a viable answer... or, at least, I hope it's not.

The answer, should technology work in my favor for once, will be coming soon!


The smiles returning to the faces...

I grew up with a story my mom told me about an old friend of hers from their college years. They would hang out, talk, whatever. And they were obsessed with The Beatles' song "Here Comes the Sun." This friend was killed in Vietnam and any time my mom heard the song after that, she would cry.

This was how I remember her telling the story anyway. I found out within the last few years that I apparently wasn't remembering it all that correctly. Pretty much not at all. Yes, my mom had a friend she hung out with regularly and they did listen to music a lot and he did get shipped out to Vietnam. However, he was not killed there. And, now that I look at the release date for "Here Comes the Sun," I'm not entirely sure that could've possibly been their song since it came out in 1969, which I believe is after my mom finished her undergraduate work at college. Maybe there is something I'm missing. Maybe grad school friend? Maybe not even from school? I dunno.

However, despite these conflicting details, I still love the story and like to think of it as true because it holds a certain romantic appeal in a time of great personal and political upheaval.

I guess I should consider myself lucky in that I've never been personally touched by loss of a close friend or family member in any of the more recent wars in which our country has been involved. Yes, I know people who know people who... you get it. But in terms of one degree of separation between myself and a person who was killed in action, I know no one.

My grandfather was supposed to be a pilot in the Army Air Corps in WWII, but that never quite panned out. My dad enlisted for Navy duty in Vietnam and was sent on a tour of the Med instead. My uncle joined the Marine Corps right around the time that 'Nam was fizzling out so I don't think he was ever deployed. And I've had some friends in the most recent Gulf War and all made it back intact.

I do think I'm lucky in this regard.

But not everybody is quite so blessed.

AmyD is a fellow blogger who I've known about for some time but only started reading yesterday after being guided there by Avitable and Sheila. Amy's on a quest to help her uncle find an old friend who he lost track of during the Vietnam War. Here's the information from her site and you can feel free to click on through for more information about the search.

Gene Bishop is looking for Charles Stevens. Here’s all the info I have on Stevens:

Charles R Stevens- Indianapolis, Indiana (from there)
Marine Corp
2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Echo Company, Da Nang, August 1966-1967
Weapons Platoon, Machine Gun

Graduated from Camp Pendelton and served in Da Nang with Gene Bishop. They trained and graduated together, and spent 48 hours in Okinawa awaiting transit together. They were separated upon arriving at Da Nang Air Force Base, Gene Bishop and Stevens served together until Bishop was wounded in Operation Stone, in 1967 and shipped out to Guam, and then Oakland Naval Hospital in the States.

If you have any information please email me (amy AT amysmusings DOT com) or my mom (mkgssong AT yahoo DOT com)
. Thank you!!

Anything that you can do to help is greatly appreciated by Amy and her family. Even if it's just passing on word of this search on your own blog. The bigger the audience, the better the chance of reconnecting.

I'm posting this because I realize how strong a community the blogosphere is and I think it would be fantastic if someone who's reading one of these sites that's posting about it actually has some information that could help. Here's hoping!


The Addams Family started...

Just another Snippet Wednesday... wo-o-oah.
Wish it were a Sunday... wo-o-oah
Cause that's my fun day... wo-o-oah
I don't have to write day...

Just another Snippet Wednesday.

Pillows
We always miss the cool stuff. The Kane County Cougars, our local single-A minor league baseball team, hosted what might end up being the largest pillow fight in the world with 3,872 people this past weekend. It bested the previous world record by about 200 people.

Pyramidapricot Pyramid
I think Katie and I have a new beer to love. Upon recommendation from a friend, we tried Pyramid Apricot Ale. I never would've thought to throw apricot into a beer, but damn, it was good.

As always, enjoy in moderation!

That would be my PSA for the day.

Handy
As a result of all the dogs we've had around lately, I've had to kick my allergy meds into high gear to ensure I'm okay. I'm only borderline allergic and nothing bad happens, but I really don't want to take any chances. So I called in a refill to a Walgreen's near where I work yesterday. This is an old Walgreen's. I think it even predates me moving to Illinois in 1987, so the drive thru was pretty dated. As a result of this ancient configuration, I was able to watch as the drawer opened for the car in front of me in line and a human hand reached out to take their money. It was all quite surreal watching this seemingly disembodied, yet fully animated, hand reach out from a drug drawer built into a brick wall (at the angle from which I was viewing, I couldn't see the person on the other side of the window due to glare). I was actually a bit freaked out. When I got up to the window, it was all I could do to not grab the hand and try to drive away with it.

Gas
Holy cow! Katie and I found gas here in the Chicago suburbs for $3.94 today! You can bet we were all over that like white on rice. We both refueled. You have to when it's that cheap!

Sad that we're getting that excited about $3.94, isn't it? Well, considering I paid $4.29 a week ago, I guess I should be happy.

TiVommercial
This is kinda cool... TiVo and Amazon have inked a deal in which viewers, who see something they like in the course of a TV show (not a commercial), can actually press a button and order it automatically from Amazon. This is the ultimate in product placement and, so long as the ordering options are not highly intrusive, I think it has the potential to be pretty cool. Of course, it will be intrusive as hell, I'm sure.

Have a good rest of your Wednesday.


The day needs my saving expertise...

Our second canine charge in as many weeks has taken up residence in our house. Peanut, again of quite ambiguous breed, is significantly larger than Lilly. I would fathom a guess at about 15-odd pounds, a lot of which is tightly curled off-white fur that looks like justification for the creation of Eli Whitney's cotton gin.

Aside from size, the other big distinction between Peanut and Lilly is neediness. Both are needy dogs, sure. But when Lilly required attention, she would just leap up in your lap and start slathering your face with her tongue. I'm not sure if Peanut is unable or just trained too well to jump up on furniture, but because of this reluctance, he will whine when he wants attention or run around in circles like a madman. Another method is to start scratching on the edge of where your sitting.

So far, no permanent damage has resulted save for our sleep patterns. But I will admit one thing... Katie was dead on in her assessment of dog ownership. Short-term is the best way to go. Take them for a few days to a week and then hand them back to their owners. I think we are so over wanting to own a dog. But we will certainly continue to dogsit, so long as there's money involved.

A funny observation I've made comes from these dogsitting episodes compared to when I was a cat owner. Both dogs, after maybe an hour of pining for their owners, quickly forgot about them and would treat us as though we were just as good as the originals. Then, in the case of Lilly anyway, when the real owners would show, she subsequently forgot about us entirely. 100% shift in loyalty at the drop of a hat.

Cats, though, take work. If you gain the trust of a cat, it lasts for a lifetime. It didn't matter who would drop by my parents' house to take care of Meatball and Jinx, if it wasn't one of us, they would look at you and you could tell they were thinking "Asshat, who the fuck do you think you are? Leave or I shall hiss you to bits." People (mostly dog owners) think cats are standoffish. Not so. They are just very selective in who hey love. If you aren't receiving the love, consider yourself "unworthy." Clearly someone else already has.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I know I'm a bit late to the game on this one as a couple of my fellow bloggers have already written about it, but I just started watching Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Freakin' hilarious. Highly recommended.

I would like a Captain Hammer T-shirt though.


I wanna run to you...

I can't remember if it was yesterday's ad for Circuit City or Best Buy, but one of them was having a sale on all video games that were tied in to summer movies. Wall*E, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, etc. It blew my mind to see how many games had been made to accompany movies.

That's when I started to wonder who made the decision as to what movies get greenlighted as video games. I also started wondering why some movies, that are seemingly born to be made into video games, are not.

So I began pondering what movies would be great games. And it hit me... JUNO!

Pauliebleeker The game is played as Paulie Bleeker and the goal would be to bed as many of your classmates as possible. This is a strategy game, first and foremost. You have to scout your school to find a person whose intimacy levels most match yours. It would be like comparing Playboy centerfold profiles. Obviously, your levels will be very low when you start playing for the first time. However, you can create a savable profile and build your levels up. Eventually, given enough time and skill building, you can achieve the Dancing Elk o' Intimacy level and be able to bed anyone in your school, including teachers and administrators (if you manage to get your superintendent in bed, the game will self destruct and you will forever be remembered as the Minnesota Mastodon o' Love).

Once you scout your target, the next step is to woo them. This would be done using the guitar controller that comes with Guitar Hero. You have to show your mad strumming skillz and make them swoon for you. As soon as you do this, you have to then use the Wii Fit Balance Board to prove your sexual prowess. Rock, roll, sway, whatever it takes to bring them to the brink of ecstasy.

Money can be earned by winning track meets and these are run by jogging in place on the Wii Fit Balance Board. While it may sound unnecessary as the goal is to get in bed, this money is necessary so you can purchase energy boosts in the form of tangerine Tic-Tacs and Hot Pockets. You can also improve your running by purchasing deodorant that can be used as leg lube as well as progressively showier shorts. Given enough money, you might be able to afford the Cadillac of running outfits... Velcro tear-away shorts. This purchase would benefit you both on the track and in bed.

However, there is a catch... if you do successfully woo a classmate but you subsequently fall flat on your face in bed, your name and details of your inadequacies will be posted up to a pseudo MySpace profile and you will have to start over from a level below where a normal person would start the game. Also worthy of note, if your guitar skills are not up to par, you will wind up using the Wii Fit Balance Board to run in place to work off your sexual frustration. These runs will not earn you money as they are not school-sanctioned track meets. And you will not be able to move on to another target until the frustration level -- as determined by the immensity of the peer rejection and negative comments on your MySpace profile -- is worked off.

I can see this game being HUGE! Bigger than Ellen Page's belly!

Anyone out there with programming skills want to work on this one with me?

I wonder what other movie tie-in games I can come up with?

I'm going to hell, aren't I?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, "Semi Related Aside." Katie and I broke out the Connect Four board last night and started playing. I wish I had a Web cam running because it was funny to watch as the game started friendly, but quickly became a study in human competition. After just a couple rounds, we started playing it like it was some city park speed Chess game... just slamming the checkers into the grid square with no time between for play consideration. It was fun! Well, save for Katie throwing a checker or two at me. I think I wound up sleeping on one last night.


Call me a relic, call me what you will...

There are some things I truly hate about the summer. The biggest of which is the fact that it seems that we have something planned every weekend. So far as I can tell, our lives are pretty well "on reserve" through the end of August.

The reason why this is such a big deal is that now we can't do spontaneous things we find out about at the last second. For example, this coming Saturday there will be a program hosted by the Geneva History Center called "Wooden Bats & Iron Men." It's a baseball game between the Geneva Rovers and the Midway Marauders.

The catch is that it's not your standard, everyday baseball game. This is old school here. They play by 19th century rules and use the uniforms, equipment, and lingo from the era. Here's the text slug from the flyer we received in the mail...

The Rovers & Marauders play by the rules of 1858, when men were men and gloves were for sissies. Learn the wildly different rules and cheer on the Rovers as they defend the honor of our fair city.

This is about the coolest thing for a guy like me who loves not just baseball but 19th century history (I've always been a freak for Civil War history). And, yet, we've got plans for most of the day on Saturday. I hope I can find video of it all somewhere.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I like when people in a customer service sort of role take a little time to get to know you or have some fun with their job. Katie and I took her car in yesterday for an emissions test. After it was all over, the guy who was helping us said, "Well, I'd tell you both to have a nice day and drive safe, but screw it. Go out there, drive erratically, and hit some people!"

Katie: "SWEET!"

Service guy: "Yeah! And when the cops pull you over, blame it on a few too many at the beer garden!"

Me: "Because we all know that overconsumption of liquor is a viable excuse for vehicular homicide!"

Service guy: "You know it!"

I like that he felt comfortable enough to know he could joke around with us a bit. Made for a fun afternoon... at an emissions testing station of all places. Who'd'a thunk it?


Sum, sum, sum, sum, summertime...

Hey all! Happy Saturday to you.

Nothing much going on here right now, so let me direct you over to Secondhand Tryptophan where yours truly is guest blogging as part of Karl's Summer of Love.

I was nervous as hell doing this guest post, but it seems to have gone pretty well. So if you have a moment, drop on by and check things out. Talk atcha soon!

Blogforkarl

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I don't care what the naysayers say, Katie and I loved The Dark Knight. Awesome! And Heath was fantastic. It's not just hype. Seriously.


Batman...

In one hour, Katie and I will be here...

Whysoserious

Yes, we both have the day off and we're spending part of it to go see The Dark Knight.

However, I thought it was merely luck that we had a day off that coincided with the release of the film. I was under the impression that somebody at Katie's work wanted to swap days with her for whatever reason and so I took the day off to spend with her.

As it turns out, Katie had been planning this for weeks. She requested the shift change at work so she could go to the dentist and we could also go together to see the film as early as possible (without it being an overnight showing).

How awesome is my wife?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Well, they're both still films. Two weeks ago, I had no idea that the Broadway musical Mamma Mia! was being made into a film. Now, with all the ads I've seen and heard -- actually a greater number of them in the last week than for The Dark Knight if you can believe it -- I'm sick to death of it. I can't hear the song "Mamma Mia" without cringing. It's freakin' everywhere! Literally every other commercial break on every network we tune into has a trailer for it. I'm going nuts over here!


Uh-oh, let's go...

Intellectual Property Rights (regarding music; from Wikipedia):
Intellectual property rights are a bundle of exclusive rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial. The former is covered by copyright laws, which protect creative works such as books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software and gives the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time.

I studied Intellectual Property Rights (also known as "IPR") back in grad school because it was a big deal regarding my field of study, which was communication and media. We talked constantly about IPR, copyright, trademarks, copylefts (yes, that's a real term), and what constituted a violation of each of these.

Basically, what we learned is that when someone else tries to use an artist's IPR for personal gain or to deny said artist from their right to gain material wealth through illegal acquisition or distribution of material, the artist has the right to recoup losses (read "sue your pants off").

And now, knowing what I do, I have to ask... why is Prince being such a prick?

Yes, I'm referring to the artist formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and TAFKAP. The guy who sings classics like "Little Red Corvette," "1999," and "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Now, Prince is claiming all kinds of IPR and copyright infringement is happening to his property over on YouTube (I apologize if this is old news to many of you. I only recently realized this is affecting someone I know).

At this year's Coachella festival, Prince performed the song "Creep." Some fans, who had never heard him play the song before, captured it using the video modes of their cellphones and/or digital cameras and posted it to YouTube. Prince, in an effort to protect himself and his performance, claimed copyright/IPR infringement and had YouTube pull the video.

The catch here? The reason that nobody had ever heard him perform the song before and why they were so excited and wanted to capture it is because IT'S NOT HIS SONG! The song "Creep" was written by and rights to it owned by the band Radiohead. Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, found out that Prince had performed the song and, when guitarist Ed O'Brien tried to watch the video on YouTube, he was denied access to it. Yorke was none too happy claiming that rights to the song belong to the band and not to Prince and, therefore, TAFKAP has no right to block the song.

I'm not entirely sure how this one panned out as yet.

In another case, mother, blogger, two-time GBBMC participant, and all-around LOLcat lover Stephanie Lenz, also known as Edenza of So Anyway..., is going to court this Friday to defend herself and her toddler son, Holden, against charges of copyright infringement being brought by, as p2pnet is calling him, "his Purpleness" and Vivendi Universal.

Wanna know what she did? She took a 29-second video of her son bopping along in the family kitchen to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." 29 FRIGGING SECONDS of which the audio quality is so bad, you cannot even tell it's the Prince song for the first five to eight seconds. Now she has to defend her "illegal" actions, with the help of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) thankfully, in court.

If anybody were making money off that rightfully belonged to Prince in either case, then I might be able to see Prince's side of the argument. However, he is neither the copyright holder of Radiohead's song, nor is Edenza trying to make money off the video she posted. She thought it was funny. It is. I've seen the video. P2Pnet has it on the linked page above.

If it was the full version of the song at an audio level such that people could capture it and save it to their computers or iPods in lieu of buying the real song themselves, Prince would have a case. Here he does not. Why not sue me for using three or four words of lyrics from his songs in the title of this post? That's about all the validity this case has.

I want to know what crawled up Prince's ass sideways and is now permanently roosting there. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller (please don't sue me, Matthew Broderick), "If you were to shove a lump of coal up Prince's ass, in two weeks you'd have diamonds (and pearls)."

HA! See what I did there? Oh never mind.

Good luck, Edenza. We're pulling for you.

[Correction thanks to Avitable... This Friday, Edenza, along with help from the EFF, is taking Universal Vivendi to court saying that they violated her legally protected fair use of the song with claims of copyright infringement.]

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This was supposed to be part of yesterday's Snippet Wednesday, but I forgot. Now I've found an article to go with it.

Nestle's Spinach Artichoke Chicken Lean Pockets are being recalled because something went wonky at the processing plant and some of them wound up with bits of plastic in them. Oh yay!

Somewhere, a falsetto'd Jim Gaffigan is chiming in, "Recalled Pockets."


Hey now, you're an all star...

Hey all! Welcome to Snippet Wednesday #7. Buckle up!

Ninja
Just as I was clearing out the junk mail in my Gmail account, I caught a subject line that actually might've made me read had I not already known that the sender was a notorious spammer. It said "Ninja attacks in NYC's Times Square." How cool! Hey, I've got tons of NYC friends. Anybody witness or been victim of ninja attacks?? Any pictures??

Yeah, that's what I thought. Bummer. No cool stuff ever happens.

Stars
For the first time in my life, I actually watched (and listened to) the MLB All-Star Game. I have no idea why I committed myself to that whole damn thing. It was 15 freakin' innings after all. I started it with a friend after work, then continued it on the radio while I drove home, and then Katie flipped it on as we were trying to fall asleep. I can't imagine having been a fan watching it in person in NYC where it didn't end until 1:30 or so in the morning. Time to call in dead to work.

Poehlerarnett Poehlerized
So Amy Poehler is being considered for a leading role in the new spinoff of The Office set to debut after the Super Bowl in February, eh? Could be interesting. I'm not a huge Poehler fan, but she could be good. Personally, I'd love to see her real-life husband, Will Arnett, in the show. Maybe just in wildly inappropriate cameos like David Koechner currently does in the primary version of the show as Todd Packer.

Desnudo
Apparently, Megan Fox wants to star in a movie in which she's naked 100% of the time. I don't see any problems with this. Do you?

Windmill
This is the coolest thing in the world (well, until the next coolest thing comes along)... a Lego windmill! Two feet tall and it actually works on battery power. Sadly, I doubt we'll see any of these dotting the sides of the highways. That would be a lot of Legos. But I want one!

Knighted
For those of you following me on Twitter, you already know, but Katie and I got our tickets to see The Dark Knight at 9:15 a.m. on Friday on our local IMAX screen. I can't remember how long it has been since I've geeked out this much. Well, probably last night, but still.


Watch me...

One of the wonderful things about the television off-season is that Katie and I really start to hunker down and tear into our Netflix queue. At one point in time during our five-year Netflix membership, we had about 140+ movies listed. Now, due to a combination of actually watching some and deleting a bunch of others that hold no interest with me whatsoever, our queue is down to 35 DVDs.

We are also quite prone to using Netflix to watch TV. Of the 35 I mentioned above, four are Burn Notice season 1 (we want to watch it again), four are Mad Men season 1, four are Monk season 1, and two are Extras season 1. Yeah, that's a lot of TV, but this is how Katie and I watch some shows. It's actually more fun. We can watch them back to back and with no commercials. We recently wrapped up all three seasons of The Closer in time for last night's season 4 premiere. And we've also watched Dexter, Kitchen Confidential, Criminal Minds, 30 Rock, Dead Zone, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, Northern Exposure, and Band of Brothers.

We've also got 11 movies and TV series in our Saved section simply meaning that they are either too far from being released or no release date has been announced yet.

But it's just a matter of time before the 35 in our queue are waxed completely and, to be honest, I can't think of much I want to watch and Katie's notoriously bad at telling me what to include in there. So guess what? I'm pulling a Miss Britt and asking all of you for recommendations on what to add. Be they TV shows or movies, I want your opinions. Please give me some insight into what interests you that you think may pique my interest as well.

Also, since I've got my 160GB iPod, I'd also like some suggestions as to what might make for good iPod-ready video. I'm not a big fan of watching highly visually detailed programs or movies on it since it has such a small screen, but this only applies to the first viewing of something really. If I've already watched it once on the big(ger) screen, then watching it small ain't so bad. So gimme some suggestions what you think could play well on the micro screen. Right now, I have stuff like The Simpsons Movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, several random episodes of South Park, Kitchen Confidential, Two and a Half Men, and The Office. What else would work?

Ooohhh, I might have to put the Star Wars movies on there.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Hmmm... I wonder if I should start pricing GM cars. I also wonder if Michael Moore will suddenly feel compelled to do Roger & Me, part deux.


You can call me any, any time...

I was actually going to launch the new WordPress blog this past weekend, but I still have a few tweaks to do and hadn't gotten around to them just yet. Hopefully I'll find some time this week and do it this coming weekend. It is coming along swimmingly now despite my previous complaining.

In the meantime, I present you with...

Ten Things I Learned From Dogsitting:

  1. If you show them love, they will never leave you alone... ever.
  2. They will interrupt anything with no cares whatsoever, even bathroom breaks.
  3. If you ever dogsit, expect others to find out and ask if you're willing to do the same for them. We've been hired. Seriously. And we'll be paid this time. Could be an interesting side business.
  4. Dogs really are a great way to meet neighbors. We met more neighbors in the past week than in the past three years we've lived here without one.
  5. Dogs will sniff anything, including feces. It's pretty nasty. And when you're taking care of a dog with extreme dietary restrictions (for medical reasons), you start to really pay attention to everything on the ground that a dog can sniff and, potentially, eat.
  6. Little dogs are real scrappers. They are willing to fight any other dog regardless of size.
  7. If you let a dog sleep in your bed, don't expect it to ever be "your" bed again.
  8. Dogs have a sixth sense about where to step. Lilly won't even look but can completely avoid fields of broken glass, mud patches, etc. Pretty amazing really.
  9. You can create any derivation of the name "Lilly" possible, but so long as you include the sound "Lil" in there, she will respond... "Lilliput," "Lillified," "Lillith Fair," "Lillykinz," "Lilly Monster," whatever.
  10. Even though Katie misses having Lilly around terribly, she's still not sure she wants a dog of her own. She really digs on the concept of Short-Term Dog Ownership. Funny.

Okay, 'nuff said.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was driving behind a car on the way home from work and I was checking out the car's license plate as I'm wont to do more often than not. That's when I realized that the seven-digit plate was broken into a three-digit and four-digit series to resemble a phone number. And the number on the plate actually began with a legitimate prefix for the town in which we were both driving.

Would somebody really be stupid enough to put their phone number on their license plate?

Then it struck me, this is the perfect way to piss off somebody you hate. Put their phone number on your license plate along with a bumper sticker that says something like, "If you don't like my driving, asshat, call me at..."

Wait for the calls to roll in to your "friend."

Hello April Fool's Day!


You've been thunderstruck...

Well, it's been three weeks since I returned my iPod to the store, they lost it, they found it, and, finally, they lemon'd it out. I now have my new iPod Classic, as it's been dubbed. But there's an interesting little twist to the story...

I got to the store and they went through my massive collection of receipts and service orders on my old iPod to determine how much was paid for the last one so I knew what trade-in value I would have. Turns out I spent just about $300 on the old one. The new Classics are $250 for the 80GB and $350 for the 160GB. I asked if I could get the 80GB and use the residual value toward the cost of a service plan or some accessories. They said no, if I opted for the 80, they would price up the value of it to match the $300 I previously spent. However, if I wanted the 160, I would have to pay the difference. Basically, either way, they would gain money off me.

Well, it didn't strike me as fair to lose money, so, with Katie's blessing via text message (she was in class), I opted for the 160 figuring I'd rather pay out a little more than lose out entirely. As I'm waiting in line and prepping another text to Katie, I look up and there she is! Her class was canceled because her teacher is stuck in Colorado due to weather.

We continue our wait in line and are prepping ourselves to spend about $110 ($50 difference in cost plus the $59.99 for a new service plan). The guy rings it all up and announces our total of $60.04 and asks how we'd like to pay. Katie, very nonchalantly, replies that we'll pay by card and we do and we leave.

Outside, Katie and I look at each other and I ask, "how did that just happen?"

Katie's reply? "I have a v-neck shirt and big boobs."

Hey, sex sells. What can you say?

Note 1: Upon looking at the receipt, we discovered that instead of trying to calculate the difference, the register jockey decided to apply a discount to the cost of the new one. All we paid for was the service plan.

Note 2: I filled this thing up with all the music on my computer plus three full-length movies and I've still only got a whopping 25GB taken up. Time to work on that, eh? Might have to pull some stuff off my archive DVDs.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): On the way home from the store, I looked in the direction of our house and saw some of the wickedest storm clouds I'd ever seen in my life. And, thankfully, I had my camera handy. Here's a gallery...

You will need to click through from your feed reader (at least from Google Reader, anyway) to check this thing out. Sorry, I cannot control the fact that readers don't work with this and I love this applet too much to not use it. Or you can just go straight over to Flickr.


Buy me some peanuts...

While I love the fact that Snippet Wednesdays allow me to cover a lot of little items that I wouldn't normally cover in a full-blown post, I gotta admit that they leave me pretty creatively drained. This would be my attempt at coming up with an excuse for the drivel you're about to subject yourself to.

It's a photographic retrospective of me opening the first box of Cracker Jack I've had in years. Like since I was 12. There may have been some here or there, but I certainly don't remember it. So, for the sake of argument, let's just agree that this is my first time with the Jack in 21 years. Yikes.

Cracker Jack 1
Ah Cracker Jack! How I've missed thee!

The rest of this photographic retrospective, due to sheer length of the overall post, is in the extended post. Y'all with feed readers should see it all just fine.

Continue reading "Buy me some peanuts..." »


Countin' dogs, funky dogs, nasty dogs, atomic dog...

Lilly MonsterToday's Snippet Wednesday (#6, I do believe) is brought to you by special guest blogger, Lilly Monster. No she doesn't have her own blog. She's the dog that Katie and I are dogsitting for the next week for my brother and SiL. This is our first dogsitting episode and actually one of the few times we've even had an animal in this house... aside from me, of course.

So take it away, Lilly...

*woof*

That's right, you're all pads. How about I type?

Conflict
As I was heading into downtown Chicago on the train to meet up with Kim and Beth for CBSC, I was sitting and waiting for the train and happened to look at my ankle. Seeing how much branding was down there in that short amount of space made me wonder if I'm a walking, talking conflict of interest. Check this out...

Conflict?

We have Nike vs. New Balance for athletic wear dominance. Plus we also have a religious conflict going with Nike, Greek God of Victory, vs. Horus, Egyptian God of the Sky.

Whose hell will I burn in?

Jacobson
Almost a year ago to the day, I talked about how NBC 5 Chicago reporter Amy Jacobson was fired when she was caught on camera at the home of Craig Stebic who was a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Lisa. The kicker was that she was there in her bikini. Yeah, nothing going on there, right?

Well, to celebrate the one year anniversary of her sacking and her subsequent inability to land a job, she's now suing CBS 2, the channel that aired the footage of her at Stebic's house. Oh yeah, also named in the suit are the owners of the house from which the footage was shot amongst a few others. Jacobson claims that anytime her son hears the word "unemployed," he cries uncontrollably. Well, move away and get a job in some other field if it's that bad for the kid. Jeebus.

Oh, better be careful or she'll add me to the list of defendants.

Lotto
Lottery aficionados in Florida are now being given a new option, well, for a little while anyway. They can either walk away with the $250,000 prize in the Summer Cash promotion or win gasoline for life. It's actually not unlimited, though. They get a $100 gas card 26 times a year for life. That's $50 in gas a week, which, for many, might barely fuel a single car for that span of time. Of course, you cannot take a lump-sum payment like with the cash and, say you live for the next 44 years, you'll only wind up making $114,400. And lord only knows how they'd go about taxing this one for ya. Plus, if you keep taking payments each year until you die, what's to stop the Lotto Mafia from sending out hitmen after you? I always wondered what would stop a lotto commission from trying to have you offed so they could stop payments because your next of kin cannot inherit lottery payout schedules.

I think I'll take the cash. Thanks.

Solar
Speaking of cars and gas, looks like Toyota is at it again. There is talk about a launch next year of a new solar-powered Prius. The article is very brief and very vague. All they say the solar will help with is the A/C system. I can't see that being the case. That's a lot of potential additional money to run a fan. But it's still kind of a cool idea.

CBSC
Last night was fun with the inaugural class of the Chicago Blogger Social Club. Nilsa, unfortunately, could not make it. But we had a blast at Hard Rock Cafe anyway. Here's a picture of us all...

CBSC
From left to right: Steven, Kim, Ansleigh (in a Monkey Peace hat), Kate, Beth,
and me (in my Bad Monkey shirt)!

Oh yeah, and Beth? I've added you back into my blogroll. Sorry about that. My bad.


Runaway train, never comin' back...

This should be fun... tonight marks the first official meeting of what Kim has dubbed the "Chicago Bloggers Social Club" or CBSC for short. A few of us bloggers will be getting together in Chicago to just hang at -- in Dave's honor -- Hard Rock Cafe. It's a small group right now with just Kim, Nilsa and myself along with our first honorary member, Beth.

Other members, who won't be able to make it tonight, include Wafelenbak and Tori. There are several others we might include down the line as well and some I intended to invite this go-round but just slipped up (so don't hate me!), but I'm hoping to keep it relatively small. You'll understand why as you read the TUA on this post.

If you take anything from this post, it's clearly that all single male bloggers need to move to Chicago. I'm the only guy in this bunch.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): A week or so ago, Wafelenbak tagged me with a meme. Oh tagging, how I hate thee. Well, not only will she pay with her life, but now I must respond. It's taken me some time, but here goes.

Basically, I need to detail six quirky things about me. It's hard to say, for sure, what I've talked about before and what I haven't, but I'm going to run with these six anyway as I'm sure it will be new to someone.

  1. I'm a Chicago public transit neophyte. As much as I love and support public transit, I know nothing about it's use in Chicago aside from Metra, the commuter train system. I know nothing about taxis, buses, water taxis, or the El and have only used each twice, once, zero, and once, respectively. But I'll take Metra any chance I get to go to Chicago. Once downtown, though, I tend to walk everywhere. And that's a large friggin' city to walk.
  2. I hate clowns. Nothing new about this. But a part of me actually was happy when I read yesterday that Larry Harmon, who helped popularize Bozo the Clown, had died. Sick, aren't I? The dude's a friggin' Chicago institution and I hate him for it.
  3. I hate crowds. Well, I should be more specific, I hate having to participate in crowded situations. If I have to go shopping in crowded places, I hate it. But if I can just sit back and watch, I'm fine. My cutoff is about a dozen people before I become severely uncomfortable. If there are smaller blister groups within a larger group, not so bad. This is probably why I'm not too keen on attending a TequilaCon... too many people. In these situations, I tend to either clam up or crack inappropriate jokes. And when people at TC would look at these jokes as "inappropriate," you know they must be bad.
  4. I'm a writing newbie. It wasn't until grad school that I actually started to enjoy writing. It was always a pain in the ass otherwise. It was one particular project, too, that did it for me. A professor was pre-grading our semester research projects and told me, the day before it was officially due, that mine was very disjointed and read awkwardly. I had to rewrite a 20-page overnight as a result. I stayed up all night and did it and he told me afterwards that the result was one of the best, and most fluid, papers he had ever read in his 30+ years of teaching. I've been hooked ever since. Damn him.
  5. Grapecrush_2 I have a deep-rooted love of Grape Crush. I don't know why, but I do. I bought a two liter over the weekend and poured myself a glass of that grapey goodness and Katie thought I was going to die of bliss. I don't drink it too often simply because I don't want to taint my love of it. Maybe once a year or less often.
  6. If it's possible to have low-grade OCD, I have it. I do have a pattern for doing many things and don't like to see my methods ruined by somebody stepping in the middle of it. But I'm also not controlled by these methods. I can break them and do things differently, but it has to be on my terms and be my own conscious decision. There are other things that some people swear I'm OCD about, but I think it's mostly just me playing up to their expectations. I'm really not Adrian Monk about where things go on, say, my desktop. Seriously.

Did you learn something about me? Yes? Good. No? Oh well. Sorry. I tried. No, I'm not tagging anyone. You know I never do. Except I may now tag Wafelenbak with every single meme I receive just to screw with her. Heh. I'm evil.


Is there a ghost...

Can ghosts have pets? I ask because I think Bernard may have a pet cat.

Katie and I finally went up in the attic this past weekend. I know, I know... we made plans and stuck by them! Who'd'a thunk it? We also did find our diplomas. Despite not having remembered where they were, we apparently had the foresight, before "losing" them, to put them all in a single cardboard sleeve. My B.A. and M.A. and Katie's B.S. (no pun intended).

And, thankfully, this was one piece of cardboard that wasn't trashed by mice.

Yeah, that was our biggest discovery of the weekend. Mice had ransacked almost every cardboard box in the attic. Full ones, empty ones, it didn't matter. They tore through cardboard and styrofoam like there was no tomorrow. We had to pitch a lot of what was in those boxes. The good thing was that a lot of valuable stuff was in sealable plastic cartons that the mice didn't bother with. Sure they showed their disdain for our packing by pooping on top of the plastic boxes, but nothing else.

But the oddest thing was evidence of cats. I can totally understand mice in an attic. Hell, through last October, we could even occasionally hear them scurrying about up there. We didn't do anything about them because we were just too damned lazy, but we heard them. However, in addition to the mouse droppings and burrow holes in our insulation, I found cat hair almost everywhere. It was stuck to the wood boards, laying on top of boxes, and even used in one of the mouse nests we found. Seriously, WTF?

I highly suggest, if you use an attic or crawl space for storage where you live, to check your swag regularly. You might be amazed -- and disgusted -- at what you find.

But, despite the disgust, when all was said and done, we wound up trashing nearly half of what was in the attic. Now, instead of nearly a dozen boxes of co-mingled crap, we have only three, plus about six or seven boxes of holiday decorations, which we can now get to much more readily when the holiday seasons approach. Maybe this year we'll even decorate for Christmas.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I asked this question on Twitter over the weekend. However, since I texted it in to the system, I never got around to receiving replies and sometimes the Twit can be a Twat when it comes to letting you scroll back through archived screens. So I'm going to ask all of you and apologize if you did reply on Twitter, if you're reading a book and you suddenly realize that you are having difficulty remembering what you've read up to that point, do you quit reading it or labor on through to finish what you started?


The bombs bursting in air...

Happy U.S. Independence Day, y'all! And happy blogiversary to John.

Sorry this is so late, but I wanted to give you some fireworks videos. It almost came a day later than I had planned because YouTube is taking forever to process these little two minute videos. Go fig. Still and all the same, though, enjoy!

   

   

We love St. Charles' fireworks!


Babe, I'm gonna leave you...

I'm curious... what do all of you do with certificates, diplomas, and the like that you've received throughout your life?

I ask because Katie and I were talking about sorting through the attic this weekend because it's supposed to be nice and cool in the mid 70s. While we do this, she's hoping we find our diplomas from college.

I haven't seen my diploma since graduation. Well, actually, a few weeks afterward as they didn't give us our real diploma at commencement, just the holder. They wait to make sure our grades clear, payments clear, and we return our cap and gown before giving it to us. Greedy bastards.

But then, after receiving it, I threw it in a box and forgot about it. It just never mattered much to me. It's a piece of paper. I know I have my degree. My resume shows it. The school's records indicate it. So what good is an "official" piece of paper that could've easily been doctored up in Photoshop? Hey, I've seen Mumford. It's not that tough.

So, even if we do find them, I'm not sure what I'd want to do with them. It sounds like Katie is interested in having them framed. But what's the purpose? Where would we hang them? Not to discount her own attachment to her diploma, but I'm just curious.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It has been officially announced that the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics are moving to Oklahoma City.

I hate when sports teams move from one city to another.

When I was young and living in Connecticut, I was a huge fan of the Hartford Whalers of the NHL. I worshiped guys like Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis. They were great. I met Dineen when he came to my school. Still have an autographed card from him.

Whalers Several years later, the Whalers up and left Hartford and became the Carolina Hurricanes. I was heartbroken. I loved my Whalers and the Hurricanes just aren't the same. I love the logo with the whale tail that merges with the "W" to create an "H" in the negative space. Hell, I still have my Whalers jersey. It's the only hockey jersey I own anymore. I refuse to get rid of it.

So I felt the pain of people in Cleveland when the Browns left for Baltimore (even though they got a team back) or Charlotte when they lost the Hornets to New Orleans. And now I feel Seattle's pain as they lose the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

It sucks.


Peace and love and who's number one...

Welcome to Snippet Wednesday #5! 5 is my lucky number. Always has been. So why does it feel like it's luckier for you this time around than it is for me? Oh, that's right, because today is the day I announce the winner of the Wii Fit Sock contest and I have to pay for shipping. That's why! Well, anyway, that's at the end of this post. If nothing else, I'll make you read this whole thing before you find out who won. NO SCROLLING TO THE END, YOU CHEATERS!

Byzantine
I love this like nothing else. An internal Microsoft memo was leaked written by Bill Gates to his former minions regarding the insanity he experienced trying to download some software from the MIcrosoft Web site. It's funny as hell to read. But what's strange is that, even though I'm a Certified Mac Whore (tm), I must admit that I've never experienced this level of Hell on the MS site. Of course, I've never really downloaded much more than copies of IE and a multitude of security patches and upgrades for their software, but still and all the same. I do hope this is legit and not some joke post.

Tipping
Just to avoid any confusion regarding yesterday's post, Katie and I are good tippers and we've never not tipped a waiter. Typically we tip about 20% and have been known to give more (especially when Dave2 follows up with table dancing). But, if they give crappy service, they will receive a crappy tip. That's the truth.

Scranton
First it was The Office Convention last October, now it's The Office Games this month to launch the new video and board games that are associated with the funniest show on TV. And the whole shebang will be presided over by Mindy (Kelly Kapoor) Kaling. Man, Scranton gets all the cool stuff (I keed, I keed). But, at least the games will eventually be released to the rest of us non-Scranton residing folk.

Helmethead
I went to my parents' house yesterday during my lunch break to go through some boxes of stuff I had in their crawl space. I got rid of a box, condensed a few others, and brought some stuff home, much to Katie's chagrin. The loot included a collection of sports and non-sports cards, my autographed David Mack Kabuki comics and trade paperbacks, my collection of KISS stuff from my friend Mike, and this gem...

Barely fits

It's a kids batting helmet for the Pittsburgh Pirates that my grandfather (Pop Pop) gave me probably when I was about two years old. I never got rid of it and I'm glad I didn't. It's pretty sweet, although it only barely fits my huge head. I kinda had to slam the top of it to get it that far down my skull and it left welts. Go fig, eh?

I think I'm going to start a Flickr album with all the cool crawl space swag I find. Eve may be interested in the KISS stuff I dug up. Some seriously cool shit in there.

Five
I guess five is lucky for more than just me, though. It's SJ's five-year blogiversary (spread out over 13 different blogs, apparently) this week. I know we're already like halfway through the celebration, but go give her some love!

Socks
Okay, now let's figure out who won the free pairs of Wii Fit Socks. I promise you that I have not worn them... yet. We had entries from Sheila (Charm School Reject), BA, Odie, Scott, Beth, and MadIrishMan (I think).

As much as I'd like to see those socks come back to me as the wrapping paper around a copy of Donnie Brasco, I'm going to have to DQ MIM since I don't think his was a legitimate entry. And BA made me jealous by taunting me with the fact that he now has a copy of Wii Fit. Grrrrr... And, Scott, sorry, while it was quite celebratory in nature, that was a brain-numbing amount of exclamation points. Gah.

So our winners are:

  • With her creative English contractions - Sheila
  • With her promise of green polka dots contrasting with purple skin - Odie
  • With her desire to not share toe jam amongst family members - Beth

Congrats! E-mail me your mailing addresses and I'll send them out as soon as possible.


I want to ride it where I like...

Why? WHY? WHY does it seem like this always happens to me?

Katie and I made these grand plans to go for a bike ride and take care of several errands at the same time, including grabbing dinner. Unlike most failed plans, we actually made these a mere few minutes before executing them. If we make plans too far in advance, something always comes up. So the more spontaneous our plans (yeah, that sounds funny, I know), the more likely they are to work.

We jump on our bikes and get a couple miles from our house and I look down to find the front tire on my bike is flat. I must've run over something because it was perfectly fine up to that point. PISSED. ME. OFF.

So Katie rides home to get my truck to come get me and I walk my bike to close some of the distance. We go home and drop off my bike and take the truck out to finish the errands.

And it was such a beautiful day, too.

I'm just happy I had her there to help me out. Unlike when I was in grad school and this same thing happened.

I was taking a long ride through DeKalb along a bike path and was several miles from my home when my front tire broke off the fork. Of course it was the summer and none of my friends were on campus and I had nobody to call at all. So I had to lock my broke-ass bike up to a light pole and walk back home and grab my truck to come get it. I was not happy. Not happy at all.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I guess it's not entirely unrelated. Katie and I went to Applebee's for dinner last night. It was supposed to be one of the destinations on our bike ride. Pick up the food and head home to eat. Instead, due to the bike situation, we drove and did their curbside pick-up.

I'm not sure what protocol is for tipping with curbside pick-up. Do you? Don't you? It's not like they're waiting on you in the same way that a waiter does. They're not constantly filling your drinks or chatting you up. They bring your food, take your money, bring change (if necessary), and leave.

Well, I typically tip them anyway. Especially in those wonderfully temperate (ha!) Chicago winters. And the first few times I did this, the kids who would bring me my food seemed genuinely surprised. And appreciative.

But for a while after that, it almost seemed as though they expected it. They threw out the dreaded, "Do you want change?"

I hate that question in any dining situation. NEVER ask this as it implies you expect the rest to be a tip. What if you were a little prick of a waiter? This question puts an undue level of expectation on the customers to tip. Sure, on occasion, it might help you because they feel guilted into giving you the change when maybe they weren't planning on it. But, sometimes, you can get screwed in the process. What if they were going to tip you more by leaving some extra cash on the table? Now they won't. Or, at least, I won't.

Last night, though, the girl who brought out the food actually said, "I'll be right back with your change." This left it open for me to say, "don't worry about it; keep the change." And, just like old times, she seemed genuinely appreciative. I like that.

As a former waiter, don't ever expect a tip. I realize it's a big part of your evening's earnings. But if you don't expect it, you'll appreciate it more. And your customers won't feel like animals stuck in a trap.