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17 posts from February 2009

Says they all know her name...

The blogosphere, nay, the world just got a little less interesting... a little less hopeful... a little less bright...

Lisa Kelly, known to many of you as Clusterfook, lost her fight with cancer last night at 11:30 p.m., EST.

While I'm happy she is no longer experiencing the pain that this despicable illness caused her, I am sad for her husband, her children, her friends, and all of us who were given the blessing of sharing in her life even if just in the virtual sense of it all.

Lisakelly
Rest in Peace, Lisa. We love you.


Dream until your dream come true...

Pop quiz, hot shot. Tell me what all the following things have in common...

  1. A shopping mall in England
  2. Corbin Bernsen searching frantically for a lost rock
  3. A highway on-ramp that leads to nowhere
  4. Running into a guy I knew in high school and him acting like we're old friends, even though we were NEVER friends
  5. My dad shopping for rock climbing gear
  6. A military company in full camouflage uniforms
  7. Two-foot-tall Transformers
  8. Mannequin photography

NyquilGive up?

They all played a part in a single dream I had last night. Every last one of those things was found either in or around this fictional mall in England.

Shouldn't this prove the need for a personal "mental health day"?

For bonus points, can you guess what I was thinking the entire time this dream was going on?

 "Oh man, I'm in England! If I don't give Bec and Penelope a call, they're gonna kill me!"

Yeah, I should really go back to sleep. Stupid NyQuil.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): We're into day three of the Great Lent Sugar Shockdown of 2009 and we've both held strong so far. I've turned away from more candy dishes at work than I can count and I've turned down several offers of sugary treats, too. It is a bit of a relief, honestly.

But the sticking point has been deciding what stuff counts as being "out." We're not cutting out sugar entirely, as I've said. It's in some things like pasta and bread and while we're cutting back and trying some varieties like rice pasta, we're not completely avoiding them. It's the obvious stuff like candy, pastries, ice cream, soda (we're dropping both regular and diet just to eliminate temptation), etc.

However, I need a judgment call on some items. Well, one class of items more specifically... alcohol. Most low-carb diets recommend not drinking beer but do allow for more pure alcohols like vodka and whiskey. But what about wine? It does have yeast in it for the fermentation process, but it's supposed to burn off during processing. Should this be cut out? Help us.


Candy, candy, candy, I can't let you go...

Just another Snippet Wednesday, oh-ee-oh-oh...

Retire
Considering the state of the stock market and investments, I'm happy as hell that I'm not planning to retire anytime soon. But on that topic, I did receive a rather funny mailing from one of my retirement benefits providers. On the outside of the envelope, it read, "Take a deep breath. It's still a great time to contribute to your retirement." I liked the "Take a deep breath" touch. Made me laugh.

Chris_Isaak Isaak
For the first time in seven years, my one and only true male crush is releasing a new album! Chris Isaak has an 18-track album (if you buy the extended version from iTunes; otherwise it's 14 tracks) called Mr. Lucky and it's pretty damn good. I have always liked Chris Isaak. Like many, my first exposure to him was getting all wet and twisty with the sheer hotness known as Helena Christensen in the "Wicked Game" video and his voice has had me snared ever since. Yeah, I'm secure enough in my manhood to admit to this crush.

Logs
Has anybody read about this push by some Republican Senators to force all ISPs, colleges, etc. to maintain usage logs for up to two years? This so-called "Internet Safety Act" applies to anyone that offers a Wi-Fi access point to computer users... even if it's password protected... and a home Wi-Fi network. What a load of crap. So you mean if I'm hosting a fantasy football draft at my house and I have friends over logging in, I need to keep all their personal records on file for two years should one of them be busted for illicit goings-on on the Web down the line? Two words... "horse" and "shit." Now, mind you, it hasn't passed yet and if the failure of it to pass the first go-round is any indication, it might never pass. But the prospect of it just completely sucks.

PaczkiPaczkis
 I don't know if the damn things are pronounced PAHTCH-key, POOCH-key, POONCH-key, PAHZ-key, or whatnot, but they're damn good and I bought a dozen of them yesterday for my coworkers and Katie and you'd swear that I'm the most popular guy in the world. Some people brought in ones made at grocery store bakeries. I bought the real deal from one of the few independent bakeries still around this area. And they went over like gangbusters. And it's a good thing I did this yesterday, because...

Ash
...today's Ash Wednesday and Katie and I are gonna try to give up sugar for Lent. Not all sugars as it's nearly impossible to truly give them up without going broke buying special varieties of all food in existence. But just in the more common items like soda, candy, ice cream, pastries, etc. We're also going to do the whole no-meat-on-Friday thing that those wacky Catholics do. This does put a snag in our Pizza Friday routine. Guess we'll be sticking to cheese and spinach. But, the way we figure it, why not use Lent as an excuse to give this stuff up and see if we actually lose some weight in the ensuing 40 days, right? My only problem with it?

I'M NOT CATHOLIC.

*sobs*


I might believe you if I didn't know...

Here's something new.

Everybody has celebrity crushes, right? That certain someone who is in the limelight for whatever reason that, when you see them, you're just completely enamored. They could be hosting a TV special in which they actually do watch paint dry and you wouldn't care, you've got a crush on this person.

It's perfectly normal.

When you become part of a significant real-life relationship, though, these crushes take on a whole new air. You don't lose them, not one little bit. You simply have someone that you care about that is based in reality and your celebrity crush might take a little bit of a backseat. Or, if you have a pretty secure significant other, your crush might become part of an inside joke between the two of you as this person joins your Laminated List, which Urban Dictionary defines as "A list of the top 5 people, usually celebrities, with whom you could have sex with without repercussions, if the opportunity arose, regardless of whether you were in a relationship or not."

They can sometimes be fun for a joke or two.

But have you ever experienced what I'm now dubbing a Create-a-Crush?

Basically, this is a phenomenon when your significant other thinks you have a crush on a celebrity that you never really considered before. And, despite your protestations, they forge on with this belief to the point where you actually do start to have a crush on this person because you're constantly thinking about him/her.

Still confused? Here's an example from my life.

A few months ago, I bought Taylor Swift's new album Fearless out of a sense of morbid curiosity and because Amazon offered it on a one-day only special for $1.99. I'd heard decent reviews of the album and, even though I had never really considered it as an option to that point, I picked it up thinking that $2 is not that great a loss even if it sucks.

Taylor_swift Well, it didn't suck. Not at all. In fact, I really kinda like the album. Really upbeat, well-written country music that borderlines the pop genre. And it was something that I thought Katie would enjoy as well, so I told her I bought it and offered to throw it on her iPod for her or play it in the car, etc. Then Taylor and her new album started hitting the media circuit showing up on interview show after interview show that we happened to be watching. Katie began accusing me of having a crush on her.

Okay, admittedly she's a cute girl. No question about it. But a crush? That would rank her up there with Elisabeth Shue and Belinda Carlisle and Kate Winslet. Nah, not happening.

Then SNL happened. We don't regularly watch Saturday Night Live because, to be honest, it sucks. Once in a while, though, as a friend of mine likes to say, even a blind squirrel finds a nut. That nut was Neil Patrick Harris who we were pretty convinced would do a great job hosting the show and we were pumped about watching it. But Katie wasn't convinced that was the only reason I wanted to watch this episode. Why? Taylor Swift was the musical guest.

There were a few more media appearances after that and then yesterday I find the latest issue of Rolling Stone in the mailbox. Who's on the cover? Taylor Swift. So, as a joke, and because I know exactly how she'll react, I ask Katie if she's seen the latest issue. Nope. And I flash her the cover. "Oh! It's your girl!" Dead on target.

But the odd thing is, I think I am developing a little bit of a crush on Taylor Swift.

And I have nobody to blame but my wife.

Am I the only one this has happened to?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I can't even count the number of places where I've seen this list popping up. Basically, you just list out 20 albums that changed your life for whatever reason. Should be simple, but it's not. Not at all. But I'm gonna give it a shot anyway. I think they're pretty close to the order in which I discovered them from the earliest on down. As you'll see, there isn't much life changing in recent years for me.

  1. 200px-Michaeljacksonthrilleralbum Michael Jackson - Thriller
  2. Kenny Rogers - The Gambler
  3. Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet
  4. Run D.M.C. - Raising Hell
  5. Europe - The Final Countdown
  6. Bruce Springsteen - Born in the U.S.A.
  7. The Beatles - Abbey Road
  8. Led Zeppelin - IV (Runes)
  9. Elvis Costello - Spike
  10. Depeche Mode - Violator
  11. Motley Crue - Dr. Feelgood
  12. Van Halen - OU812
  13. Poison - Open Up and Say... Ahhhh!
  14. Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
  15. Faith No More - The Real Thing
  16. Alice in Chains - Facelift
  17. Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream
  18. Urge Overkill - Saturation
  19. The Soundtrack to the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction
  20. Radiohead - The Bends

And you?


If I would could you...

Sometimes we forget. Enough time passes and we age a bit and discover others that we love equally or sometimes even more.

But it's always there. The love. The memories. The joy. Just waiting for something to kick it up off the backburner and into the forefront of our minds.

This happened to me the other day when I had, *gulp*, a radio station turned on in my truck and they played "Would?" by Alice in Chains (what did you think I was talking about?) from what I still maintain is the greatest movie soundtrack ever, Singles.

Alice_in_Chains I got to see AIC open for Van Halen at the World Music Theatre back in the very, very early 90s. It was a show where AIC was not well received. Most people, if they even bothered showing up for the opening act, wondered who the hell these guys were. And I loved every last minute of it. It was such a different sound than I was used to. Grunge was still very new in the Midwest. But rock and metal were still trying to hold their ground.

Wow. How long has it been?

Way too long.

So I've been on an AIC binge ever since. I got their two-disc Essential Alice in Chains collection and can't stop. It's great stuff. I never plan to go this long again.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I know it's a little late, but for those of you who didn't really celebrate Valentine's Day, I don't think it matters what day you read this. It's still damn funny. And it came from my old college friend, Leslie.

These are entries to a Washington Post competition asking for a two-line rhyme with 1) the most romantic first line, and 2) the least romantic second line.

Here are some results:

  1. My darling, my lover, my beautiful wife:
    Marrying you has screwed up my life.                   
  2. I see your face when I am dreaming.                 
    That's why I always wake up screaming.                 
  3. Kind, intelligent, loving and hot;                  
    This describes everything you are not.                
  4. Love may be beautiful, love may be bliss,              
    But I only slept with you 'cause I was pissed.             
  5. I thought that I could love no other                 
    -- that is until I met your brother.                  
  6. Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, and so are you.  
    But the roses are wilting, the violets are dead, the sugar bowl's empty and so is your head.   
  7. I want to feel your sweet embrace;                  
    But don't take that paper bag off your face.              
  8. I love your smile, your face, and your eyes             
    Damn, I'm good at telling lies!                     
  9. My love, you take my breath away.                  
    What have you stepped in to smell this way?               
  10. My feelings for you no words can tell,
    Except for maybe 'Go to hell.'                     
  11. What inspired this amorous rhyme?                   
    Two parts vodka, one part lime.

Oh, c'mon. This is comic gold!


I'm incomplete...

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to cobble enough together for Snippet Wednesday, but I pulled it off!

Yoga
I was late to yoga today and I lay the blame squarely on Van Halen. I was in the locker room changing into my yoga gear (warm-up pants and T-shirt... very yogic, I know) when I heard the stereo in the adjacent workout room cranking a live version of Sammy Hagar's "Give to Live." Being the Van Halen freak, I needed to know if this was a live performance by VH or by Sammy solo since the song is actually his from the solo days. So I rocked out through the finish and then heard the stereo kick in my all-time favorite "Finish What Ya Started." Yep, totally Van Halen. NICE!

Heroic
Oh, c'mon! Did you really think I wouldn't sheep it up and make myself a superhero like so many other bloggers?


Goody
Can somebody tell me who the hell Jade Goody is? I subscribe to Famecrawler's RSS feed and, lemme tell ya, I must be WAY out of it on the celebrity front. They report on many people I've never heard of before. And they do this regularly. I know everything that is going on in Jade Goody's life from her pseudo suicide to her pending nuptials but I can't tell you why any of us should give a damn. Who the hell is she and what about her makes her worth watching? Please explain this enigma of a woman to me.

Blackout
I've been watching the last several days as some of my fellow Twitterers, as a show of solidarity, blacked out their profile pictures. Solidarity for what? Supposedly against New Zealand's new ISP and Web liability rules. I'm not going to try to explain it save for providing a link. But I do have one question... what good is blacking out your profile going to do for the cause? I guess it's a show of support from afar against something you don't agree with. But wouldn't it be far more effective to start a petition or create an informative Web site urging people to contact NZ politicians? To me, this blacking out seems like a joke. Like you expect a politician to look at the page and say, "OHMIGOD! He's blacked out his picture! And it's all because of how I voted! I'm never going to know what this person looks like unless I reverse my political stance!" Yeah, okay.

Buddha
Because we all could use a little faith in these trying times. Mine's on my desk.

 Faith

Beautiful friend, the end...

I'm not sure how many of you have done design work in some way or another, but, if you have, you've likely been around to see your work undone. And the undoing was not something you were involved in.

If you're a graphic designer, you've seen a logo you've designed replaced by a newer one.

As an architect, maybe a building was torn down or some big piece of your original design was dramatically changed before the final design was approved.

Me? I design Web pages. And I get to watch as a Web site on which I toiled for many, many hours is replaced with a whole new design that I had no part of at all.

This is happening at my old job. Their Web site, every step of which I was the point person for, is being replaced. The year I spent drawing mock ups for approval, fusing elements into a final design, selecting photos, transforming that design into multiple template pages, transferring all the data from the previous design (that I also developed) to the new one... it's all going down the drain. And I'm a bit wistful as a result.

Sure, my design wasn't the greatest. Nor was it the most compliant (by a long shot). Nor was it many things. But what it was is mine. My handiwork is all over that damn site and now it's going to be dead and buried. I can no longer even refer to the site on my resume as what people would find wouldn't be the same site I worked on.

So, damn right I'm sad.

Here's the homepage of the site I developed...

Au-old


And here's what is replacing it...

Au-new


Maybe it's the sentimentality speaking, but I prefer my design.

C'est la vie.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I have 120 pages of Eclipse (third book in the Twilight series) left to read and then I'm taking another break before tackling the fourth. I've been struggling my way through the third book for a couple months now. I thought for certain I would finish it before going to New Hampshire, but it didn't happen.

Now, though, I have motivation. Or I hope it works out to be motivation. You see, the latest from the greatest is now out and I'm dying to read it...

Chrismoore-fool

Woo hoo!


And I will try to fix you...

Birthday-cupcake A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Katie! Woo hoo! I love you, hon.

And now the revelation that she's at home sick for it. In fact, she's been sick all weekend. I swear it's a bit of a curse for us lately, those blasted holidays. I was sick last Easter, she and I traded off over Christmas, and now she's sick for Valentine's Day and her birthday. I think I'm next in the queue and it appears as though Easter is the next viable holiday that can be illness ridden. Oh yay! Can't wait.

So, um, yeah, it was a pretty uneventful weekend. Katie was too tired and sore to go anywhere so we stayed in. But she slept a lot of the weekend so I watched some TV and movies, cleaned within reason (nothing noisy that would wake her up), and I fixed a few things online.

For one, I weeded through my Twitter following list and eliminated about 20 people I was following. There were several groups and whatnot that I had followed that I feel just weren't worth following because I never really paid much attention to their Tweets. So what's the purpose, right?

I also ditched my MyBlogLog profile and services box as I discovered that FriendFeed offers many more services in their repertoire to which I can link including three that I had to list outside the MBL box because, despite my suggestions, they never added them as services (Plurk, Vimeo and Goodreads). And I can eliminate the profile information to make it just a box of service links. So I've got that going.

Lastly, I finally fixed up my blogroll. It's a static page on my blog now instead of being the pop-out box with the Blogrolling list. It's been nearly half a year since Blogrolling went down and I'm sick of waiting. I found a half dozen broken links and another half dozen links to dead blogs. Plus there were several I wanted to add that are newer finds. So I played and now I think it's all good. If you happen to notice any screwed-up links in there, let me know. Typepad did some funky things to my HTML so some may still not be good or some may have gone kablooie. The two caveats I have are that if you have announced you are leaving the blogosphere (or you already have) or you have not posted in calendar year 2009 yet, I did not post a link.


Love letters in the sand...

I know today is Self-Love Day, but before I detail why I love myself, I want to make quick mention of the other holiday that shares this date...

Happy Valentine's Day!

To all of you, to your friends, to your families, to all my friends and family members. But, most importantly, to Katie. I love you, hon.

And I guess the reason why I started this way was because it does work itself in nicely with Self-Love Day. For me, a lot of the things I love about myself revolve around Katie. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true.

Selflove2009altI love my life. It's not perfect in any way, shape or form, but I love it because Katie is in it with me and she loves me as much as I love her. I'm not an easy person to live with. Hell, there are times I've wanted to break up with myself. But Katie has shown an infinite amount of patience with me, which has, in turn, helped me improve my own ability to be patient with others.

Before you laugh or cry foul in my comments because, like you, I have also read some of my ranting posts expressing hatred with others and their stupidity, do take note of one thing... just because I feel I have patience doesn't mean that everyone out there deserves to be a recipient of said patience. I will select those I feel deserve my being patient with them.

I also love my willingness to try new things. There are very few things that I am completely unwilling to try at least once. Life is too short to be closed minded about new experiences. I want to live life as much as I can and so much as our bank account will allow us to (okay, so there is one restricting factor).

And, finally, I love that I'm a sap. I love being romantic when I can. I love public displays of affection, within reason. I love that I watch romantic comedies and enjoy them and that two of my favorite movies of all time are Sleepless in Seattle and Notting Hill. Does this make me less of a man? I'd argue no.

I'd better stop now or I'm going to have nothing left for the Fourth Annual Self-Love Day.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): As you know, this day now also has a bit of a somber side to it for me being a graduate of Northern Illinois University and this being the first anniversary of the campus shootings that took the lives of five innocent students.

The university is holding some memorial services today as well as an art exhibit and wreath presentations. Katie and I were going to attend, but she's pretty sick right now and we're going to stay in.

So I'd just like to take a moment to remember those five students who lost their lives one year ago today... Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream; and Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester.

Memorials
[Taken by me one year ago. Hey, Chicagoist picked up on this photo today.]


Whenever this world is cruel to me...

So I received a rather interesting award the other day from our fair Faiqa at Native Born. It's called the "You're a Great Buddy" Award.

Now, with a name that seemingly innocuous, you'd think, "Wow! That's cool! Faiqa likes me. She really, really likes me!"

But then there's the image that goes with the award...

Greatbuddy

There are so many interpretations of this image that I really don't know that I want to go there. Am I the bombed-out one on the ground? And, if so, are they my friends helping me up or is one the "great buddy" helping the other to dispose of me?

And then there's some discussion between LeSombre and NYC Watchdog regarding how yeti and sasquatch disposal is a requirement when being awarded this "honor."

So you'll understand my concern over this so-called "award." Is it truly a good thing or just an excuse to pile shit on you and say that it's now your responsibility to take care of it and, if you don't, clearly you're not as great a buddy as they originally thought?

Well, I suppose I can just accept it and feign ignorance when Faiqa asks for a favor. Or I can just stop responding to e-mails, Tweets, Facebook notifications, Plurks, text messages, nudges, comments, etc., entirely (I've noticed there are far too many non-phone ways to get in touch with me).

But the good thing is, according to the rules, I am supposed to give this out to ten other "shovel (wo)men" who I feel are also Great Buddies. Actually, since I'm on the topic, here are all the rules in their entirety:

  1. Put the logo on your blog.
  2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
  3. Award up to ten other blogs.
  4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
  5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.
    Because nobody likes leaving notifications in the age of RSS feeds, right?

I'm going to give this award to 10 other bloggers and warn them that if I receive any odd "buddy" requests from Faiqa, they're being pawned off on them. I will, however, deal directly and personally with any lime Jell-o requests she might make, so don't even ask.

So here, in no particular order, is my list of 10 Great Buddies!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Tonight's the night, baby!

Jasonplushie

Listen to the math...

On Tuesday night, Katie invited me to go to school with her. No, not one that she's teaching, but one that she was attending. Why? They were going to be meeting a pretty special guy named Mike Byster, also known as the "Human Calculator" and the creator of Brainetics. Here's a quick video introducing him. It's about seven minutes long.

Simply put, this guy is amazing. He spent nearly two hours with a group of about 50 adult students as well as some spouses and children showing them how he uses patterns and alternate methodology to solve math problems, all in his head. And then he taught us how to do it. Scarily enough, it works.

But the best part is that he's not a hardnosed mathematician. Heck, he's not even a mathematician at all. He's a guy who has discovered he has a gift for math and enjoys it so much that he wants to share this gift... for free. He makes 500 school appearances a year and doesn't charge one red cent. He just feels it's that important to get kids to enjoy learning. 

I remember being in school and being graded not just on having the right answer, but the way in which I discovered the answer. And it had better be the same way the teacher did it. Hell, that was half my grade most of the time. Mike thinks this is the wrong way to go. Sure you can grade students on how they do it, but you have to be open to new ideas that they come up with so long as they can be proven to work consistently.

He told a story about being on some Chicago news show when he was younger demonstrating his abilities. The host asked if he could do anything else and Mike asked if they had a deck of cards. He showed how with just a glance, he could tell which one card was missing from a deck and also showed how to count cards. This news show predated the World Wide Web, so there was no way for anyone else to really see it around the country quickly. But, within a few hours of it airing, he received notification from nearly every casino in the US that he was blacklisted. Heh.

I sincerely wish this guy was my math teacher in grade school.

</pining>

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Hey lady, what part of the signs that read "Cell Phone Use is Strictly Prohibited in the Gym" are you having trouble with? I don't seem to recall any caveats that say "If you're on a treadmill, go ahead and take a call" or "feel free to talk loudly on the phone while using the leg adductor or leg extension machines," do you?

Please show me where it says you can do this.

You can't?

Oh.

THEN LEAVE THE DAMN CELLPHONE IN YOUR LOCKER OR CAR OR I'M GOING TO PUT IT SOME PLACE WHERE YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO ANSWER A CALL AGAIN!

</hateful.ranting>


Don't let this go too far, don't let it get to you...

It's really a love-hate sort of Snippet Wednesday from what I can tell. Dig in.

Self-Love
Vday-girl A day or two ago, our fair Hilly announced that she is again sponsoring her annual Self-Love Day, this one scheduled for this coming Saturday (Valentine's Day, just so you don't forget). If you want an idea what it's all about, you can read my contribution from 2008 or my post from 2007 (I was doubting that this was actually the "third annual" day, but I guess it is. Wow!).

Movies
I know this coming weekend is supposed to be a romantic one what with it not only being Valentine's Day on Friday, but Katie's birthday on Monday (yeah, not technically the weekend, but close enough for government work), and I should be spending just about all the weekend with her, but I won't be. This Friday is also the release of the relaunched Friday the 13th and I really want to see it and Katie knows it. However, I told her that I'm more than willing to forego seeing it opening night simply because I want to spend time with her. She said not to worry about it and that she and the sister-in-law will go see He's Just Not That Into You while I go get me some bloodsplattered Jason Voorhees goodness and we'll all meet up for dinner afterwards.

That, my friends, is love. 'Nuff said.

Shielded
I'm getting really tired of this. It is now officially been five months since I've added The Shield, season 1, to my Netflix queue and it still has not budged from the "Very Long Wait" list meaning I keep getting bumped for it in favor of someone else. You would think after being in such high demand for so long that Netflix would get off their ass and either purchase more copies or make it available for online viewing, neither of which they have done. I actually convinced my library to purchase it and it was approved, ordered, received, and processed in far less time than Netflix has taken (it's waiting for me at the library now after only a couple weeks). In light of this responsiveness, I asked over the weekend that they order season 1 of Damages, which has been in my Netflix queue for two months, and they approved it yesterday. I love you Netflix, but you seriously need to get your heads out of your asses and figure out what's what.


I fought the law and...

...I won!

There's nothing quite like coming home to an unexpected bill in the mail. Great way to ruin what little is left of your day.

This happened to me yesterday. I saw an envelope from the Illinois Tollway Authority amidst all our other crap, but I simply assumed the credit card attached to my iPass had expired and I needed to renew it. So I opened the envelope like a naïve idiot.

Instead of what I expected, I found a grainy black-and-white picture of my truck and a notice that I had run a tollbooth and owed $61.20. That's one expensive mofo tollbooth.

OpenRoadTolling
[Image from McHenry County Blog; who knows where he got it from.]

After skimming the letter (reading fully is a near impossibility when you're pissed off, I discovered), I realized I was more confused than pissed. The letter said that the Issue Date was February 5, 2009. I was in New Hampshire on the fifth! So I called the number for clarification all psyched up for a fight with "da man." 20 minutes after being told my wait time was 10 minutes, I finally got a human being.

She explained that there were actually three violations of tollbooths dating back to April of last year and that they reserve the right to fine you up to two years later! What is that? If you're going to fine someone, it should be done right away so they can fight it from a fresh memory of the incident. How can I effectively fight those speeding tickets, assault & battery charges, breaking & enterings, and homicides when my memory of the incident is spotty at best due to time lapsed? Just not right. And so much for my New Hampshire argument.

Well, to wrap things up quickly, I pointed out that I have an iPass in good standing and that it must've been a communication error between the sensors and the iPass. They agreed, billed the $1.20 for the missed tolls to my iPass, and waved the fines.

Sure, it's a small win. But in this day and age, I'll take it!

Lesson for all you out there, when all else fails, BLAME COMPUTERS!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I woke up in the middle of the night last night to a minor coughing fit. I have no idea what caused it, but I quickly grabbed the glass of water on my nightstand to help abate it before I woke up Katie. Then I held onto the glass figuring that, knowing me, I'd start couging some more.

Next thing I know, I feel a cold trickle down my arm and face because I fell back asleep holding the glass and dropped it on my side of the bed.

34 years old and I'm still wetting the bed. Not good.


When we started this band...

Dwight_schrute This is Dwight K. Schrute. Assistant to the Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton, the greatest regional paper and office supply distributor in the whole world.

FACT: I have taken over this blog from it's pitiful "author," a term I use very loosely. I have a purpose for my actions, which will come to light shortly.

If one were to believe his Facebook status update from yesterday, you'd know that this blog's author, a boy named "kapgar," was in Nashua, New Hampshire, attempting to con his way into the good life with my boss, Michael Scott, and Pam Beesley. But, you would also know that there is no way Michael would fall for this pitiful human being's attempts to woo his way into Michael's inner circle.

My purpose, as I promised earlier to reveal, is to address a certain "meme" that's been circulating throughout the World Wide Web. I have not been challenged to accept it, but I feel I can contribute some wisdom. I believe I have seen this meme on the blog of a Miss Sizzle and a SoMi, whatever a SoMi is.

The meme involved choosing a letter of the alphabet, or, more precisely, having one chosen for you and then name 10 things that start with that letter that you love. As everyone should know, nobody chooses my future plans except for me. That is why I am choosing my own letter for this post. And that letter?

B

1. Battlestar Galactica
The greatest television show in the history of television. Anything that claims it is better is wrong. But, speaking of television, I hate when American producers attempt to steal ideas from Great Britain. Doesn't everyone realize the Brits do it better? Why even try? Any actor who makes a living working on a hacked redux of a British show should be ashamed of themselves.

Beets 2. Beets
The greatest and most beneficial vegetable known to man. It can be used in anything... sandwiches, salads, juices, et cetera. But one must be careful before consuming in high quantities. Unless you have the intestinal fortitude of a Schrute, as we are superior beings, you could do permanent damage to your stomach lining or break a tooth when attempting to eat it raw.

3. Bob Vance
I cannot decide if this man is an idiot or a genius with delusions of grandeur that rival even my own. Why else would anyone willingly marry Phyllis Lapin? There must be something I'm not seeing.

4. Bespectacled
I wear glasses. I am proud to wear glasses. People who wear glasses have wisdom that far exceeds that of people who do not. For they have vision. Both vision of their surroundings and a vision of the future. If you know someone who wears glasses, fear them.

5. Beeper
Technology is evil. It is pushed upon us by shortsighted individuals like our former temp, Ryan Howard, who was also our former boss, who treat technology as a crutch to support their otherwise sagging life. This is why I use a beeper. I do not believe in cell phones. The CIA informed me that my cell phone had been compromised by an unknown evil power and that my life and mission were in danger. I immediately disposed of the phone and now rely solely on my beeper. I am resourceful. If someone contacts me, I can immediately find a way to contact them back while staying "off the grid."

Bobblehead 6. Bobblehead
At one time, I praised this as the greatest gift ever from the most important person in the world, second only to myself... and Michael Scott... and the creator of Battlestar Galactica. However, now, that gift is forever tainted by her betrayal. She is dead to me.

7. Badass Trans Am
I don't care what Andrew Bernard says, my Trans Am is the greatest vehicle in the history of automobiles. It is vintage American muscle and can totally kick the ass of Andy's Ex-Earth. Oh wait, he doesn't drive that anymore since I bought it from him and sold it for a profit, does he?

8. Boss
I do strive to one day be the boss of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. But not so long as Michael Scott is here. I would never try to usurp his power... not again.

9. Business
I have a mind built for business. I can sell anything to anyone. You want a ream of paper? I'll sell you on a case. Sell me a Nissan Xterra for $8,000 and I'll turn around and resell it for $11,000. Buyer beware... Dwight K. Schrute is on the prowl.

10. Bears
Bears are the most powerful and resourceful creature to roam the planet. To most people, they are a source of fear. But not to me. I do not fear bears, I am inspired and awed by them. I know every fact about every species of bear ever. If I were to find a bear in the woods, it would not try to do me harm as it would detect my own strength and intelligence and leave me be.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to finish blowing up all these balloons for Kelly Kapoor's birthday that I, as co-head of the party planning committee with Jim, forgot to celebrate yesterday. Stupid birthdays. They are a sign of weakness in human beings who celebrate them.


Take a walk on the wild side...

Sorry, but I have no clever intro right now. I'm kinda pissed right now. So let's just say it's Snippet Wednesday and be on with it.

Hampshire'd
Yes, New Hampshire is a really beautiful state from what I've seen so far. However, I think Nashua could benefit from both better public transportation and SIDEWALKS!! I was going to attend a men's and women's basketball game at Daniel Webster College tonight. DWC is only 1.8 miles away from the hotel according to Google Maps. However, as the crow flies, it's probably only a mile. Of course, I cannot take advantage of the crow's route because it would require me wading through a creek and illegally traversing the runway of a small local airport. I tried to book the hotel shuttle to go out there, all of five minutes. The front desk said no problem. However, when I found the driver, he told me he had to make a run to the airport and couldn't take me for at least an hour. So I decided, against all logic, to walk figuring I'd find one of the busses that supposedly run through town.

An hour and a quarter and only about halfway there, I gave up. No busses. No sidewalks. Little streetlighting. And snow piles on the side of the road up to my waist in some parts. God only knows how many times I nearly died either due to reckless drivers or ice patches on the road. I couldn't even really walk through parking lots as they were all divided by three-foot-high snow piles. By the time I got back to the hotel, the driver was gone on another hotel run.

Fuck it. And I was really looking forward to these games and taking some pictures. Guess you'll have to settle for just some scenery. As per usual, if you can't see the Pictobrowser in your feed reader, click through to the Flickr album.

Password
I maintain a Web site for a friend of mine. It's for an academic journal of which he serves as Editor-in-Chief. It really takes little to no time, so I do it in exchange for a free subscription to the journal (it's all about popular music, so I'm cool with that). However, the previous host of the Web site has declined to continue hosting and he went out in search of a new host. Things were going swimmingly until, for some unknown reason, the password stopped working. I kept trying over the course of a few days thinking it may have been a server glitch and that it would miraculously begin working again. It didn't. So my friend contacted the host and had the password reset and sent me the information so I could log back in.

Like any temporary password, I had to change it upon login and the system in place to determine if the password was good was ridiculous! When I would type in a password, there would be this meter on the side determining if my password was secure enough. Usually, this is just a guideline to nudge you towards trying something different, but it would never hold you to it. Woah no, not this one. If it wasn't at least "weak," the system wouldn't approve it. At one point, I used "TSOH-675-668-1," which has a sufficient amount of alpha and numeric plus punctuation and case sensitivity and the system rejected it. Do you want me to be able to remember it or not? Fucking thing.

Bowl
First I missed Nipplegate (only on the initial viewing; I saw it many times in replay afterward, of course), and now I miss Porngate. I swear I'm never in the right place at the right time.

King
I get a kick out of the fact that Stephen King is trashing Twilight writer Stephenie Meyer as, effectively, a hack. This considering I don't think King has been able to keep a full-on book going through to the end in about 20 years. His short stories and novellas are second to none, but his novels never hold the course in my opinion. They're pretty terrible. But that's just me.

Well, I'm off to drown my sorrow over no basketball in VitaminWater XXX and baklava from Cedar's Cafe. Interesting mix, I know. But it's making me happy and the dude had some great music pumping including the title of this post. Good stuff.

Update: Just saw a video of Porngate... it was only male nudity. Meh. Whatever.


Into the great wide open...

Today is my travel day. I get to fly into Manchester, N.H., and then grab a shuttle into Nashua.

NewhampshireBut I feel the need to clarify one thing. After re-reading some of my earlier posts about this trip, I realize it may come off that I'm feeling a bit negative about traveling to New Hampshire. That I think it's not going to be fun or beautiful or whatnot.

This is simply not the case. I'm actually very much looking forward to seeing New Hampshire. It is one of only two states east of the Mississippi River I've never visited (the other being Maine). And, having lived in New England (a few years in Connecticut), I know how beautiful it is out there.

My only regret regarding this trip is that I'm not going out there in the fall when all the leaves are changing and the true beauty of New England shines. Instead, the weather report for that area is predicting 4-8" of snow. I hope this doesn't delay my arrival or my subsequent return home this Friday.

Okay, two regrets... that Katie's not going with me. She's too busy with work and school, so she has to stay behind and this bums me out. I hate traveling without her. Especially since she's never been to New England at all.

But I'm going and I know I'm going to enjoy it and I'm going to eat some fresh seafood and take lots of pictures and that I'm likely going to make it a point to return, but this time with Katie.

So, bring it on, New Hampshire! Let's rock.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm a bit rusty here, but does this e-mail mean that Tibor accepted my friend request or did he tell me to bugger off?

Tibor


Any creative translations from all of you?


Take me away...

I like when I have a good movie weekend. And this past one certainly constituted a good weekend for movies.

Taken On Saturday, Katie and I went to see Taken, the new action thriller with Liam Neeson. I wasn't sure what to think of this movie based on the trailers. It's hard to go wrong with Neeson in a title role, but as a pseudo action hero? Hmmm. But, we were willing to give a shot to the typically hyperdramatic and/or hypergoofy Matt Damon in his turn as Jason Bourne and it paid out very handsomely. So Katie and I did the same with Taken. Woah! Neeson kicks some serious bad guy ass. I never woulda thunk it. But we both thoroughly enjoyed the movie and would have been more than willing to pay to see it a second time.

On Sunday, we finally got out to see Slumdog Millionaire. As you know, I'd been wanting to see this for quite some time. And I'm glad we finally did. You all know the hype and I believe you know the story. Simply, it's the story of a kid who has spent his entire life living in the slums in and around Mumbai, India, who winds up on the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and is in contention for the grand prize. However, authorities and some people involved with the show think he's cheating and want to out him for the cheater he is. A majority of the movie is spent detailing how he knows the answers to the questions he is being asked. Fantastic acting, well-paced story, beautiful cinematography, the works. This would easily have been on my top movie list of 2008 and might've even been my #1.

But also on Sunday, I was given the opportunity to geek out, as it were, during the Super Bowl with trailers for some pretty good looking movies that are coming out this summer.

Star Trek, even to a non-Trekkie like me, looks fantastic. The special effects and the casting seem perfect.

G.I. Joe? Well, I've already expressed one reason I really want to see this movie. Good to see that the trailer looks to be about as much fun as the scenery.

Up is the new Pixar film and, despite the fact I have no idea what it's supposed to be about other than a guy and a Boy Scout in a balloon-lofted house, it looks like it could be fun.

I'm a bit tentative about Transformers 2, though. I enjoyed the first one, but I don't see much need for a sequel. It ended pretty nicely. Sure it lent itself to another one, but it doesn't absolutely have to. And I'm pretty damned burned out on Shia LeBeouf.

Seen anything you'd recommend or looking forward to anything coming out soon?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Speaking of the Super Bowl, did you all catch Bruce's halftime show? God I love Springsteen. And I would love to see him on tour. I wonder when or if he'll be in Chicago and how much it will cost. After 30 odd years, that man can still rock and write music like few others. I just picked up his new album and am loving it so far.

Oh, and congratulations to the Stillahs on their sixth Super Bowl win! Katie and I were proudly decked out in our black and gold for the occasion and nearly had heart attacks when Larry Fitzgerald turned the score around in Arizona's favor. But it all worked out in the end.