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14 posts from February 2010

Just acting like we're animals...

I think the world as we know it is coming to an end.

You think I'm joking? Check this shit out...

Earlier this week, Tillikum, an Orca at Sea World Orlando, rose up, snatched its trainer, and drowned her.

Komodo Dragons in Indonesia attack a park ranger.

A shark-filled tank at a shopping mall in Dubai springs a leak.

A glacier measuring two times the size of Los Angeles has broken off Antarctica and is floating around the ocean threatening to wreak havoc with ocean currents and other weather phenomena.

Earthquakes are running rampant lately, some in areas you wouldn't normally associate with earthquake-like tendencies, and are causing all kinds of damage from both the initial shockwaves, the aftershocks, and tsunamis if they're ocean-based. Another tsunami is now threatening Hawaii.

You wanna know who's to blame? The animals of the world. They're rising up against humans. They're taking back their planet. They're delivering a collective "FUCK YOU" to humans the world over.

The Tillikum and Komodo Dragon stories needs no further explanation. They're just pissed.

The tank leak is because them sharks be hungry and are ramming seams in the glass. They just didn't quite time it right. The leak was discovered before they could break free and make a smorgasbord of the shopping public.

I believe that the glacier broke off because the penguins are sick of being stuck either in zoos or aquariums pretending to be cute on an ice floe that we're responsible for melting.

Shedd Aquarium 2010
You can't tell me he isn't one angry flightless bird

The earthquakes are clearly the animals who are capable striking fault lines to prove how pissed off they are.

The reign of humans on Earth is over! Give it up!

I hereby declare my allegiance to the non-human animal kingdom. ALL HAIL MY NEW OVERLORDS!!

Caprica-logo Are any of you watching Caprica? I've been giving it a shot after finishing the entire Battlestar Galactica series recently, but have been on the fence.

**SPOILER FOR LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE**

It's not a bad series, I suppose, but it has been really slow and I can't say I've been entirely impressed with some of the casting. I was about to give it up until last night's episode with Daniel's introduction of the Cylon to his company's Board of Directors as well as Tamara and her new, shall we say, antics. These two bits at least added some excitement.

What's your take on the show?


Desi-i-i-i-ire...

My favorite U2 song ever.

Well, last week was "under." This week is "over." Kinda weird that I take a themed blogging day and break it into subthemes, isn't it?

Over-

HTC_Desire_Size -expectant
A friend e-mailed me with the information on the new HTC Android phone that AT&T will be carrying is the HTC Desire. It's supposed to be a slightly upgraded version of the Google Nexus One and without the Google branding. It's such a pretty phone. It seemingly does everything I hope it would do. I just am unsure if it has a physical keyboard or if a touch screen is the only option. We will have to see. But, for now at least, I'm drooling.

-exposed
I'm still freaked out about this. In Pennsylvania, a school district that gives all their students a MacBook, activated the built-in iSight cameras and observed a 15-year-old student doing something deemed "improper." He got in trouble as a result. But, when confronted by school officials, they showed him the photo of him doing whatever he did and he recognized it as being taken while he was at home. Now a class-action lawsuit is being started up because what the school did may violate federal and state wiretap and computer intrusion laws. This is nuts. I'm sorry, but this is just wrong. God only knows what I might have been caught doing in high school. Yikes!

-reaching
And then there's the kid that got a five-day suspension for his "I hate my teacher" page on Facebook. Some people are claiming that the kid was at home and was entitled to do whatever he wanted on his own time. I'm on the fence about this one. The ACLU or some other group claims that this is no different than talking to friends outside school or on a phone or whatnot. But, in my estimation, it's exactly the same as if the kid wrote a note on his own time and sent it to his teacher. If s/he felt threatened by the note, even written on the student's personal time, the school has every right to act and remove the student for the teacher's safety. Add to that the fact that a couple dozen fellow students became fans of the page and that would potentially add to the perceived threat level. At least that's what I think. You?

-stretched
Last week, I was introduced to a killer yoga pose called the Pigeon Pose. I was actually able to go full stretch on that one and hold it for a few minutes. It was a great stretch. But, of course, my legs were killing me for the next couple days until I did the stretch again and all returned to normal. But this is the closest my body has ever come to doing the splits. Bear in mind, although I did do the forward fold, I didn't go full One-Legged King Pigeon or anything. I'd like my body to not hate me entirely, thank you very much.

-dunn
This whole "under/over" subtheming reminds me of the crew introduction sequence in Airplane!

"Unger, Ober... Ober, Dunn."


Where they hit the rocky shore out by the lighthouse...

On Saturday, I went with my mom and her photography club up to southeast Wisconsin to take pictures of lighthouses along Lake Michigan.

Despite being a dreadfully dreary day, it was a lot of fun. Got some pretty cool photos that you can see below.

I also was given the opportunity to make Norman relive his days assigned to the Imperial Hoth attack force. He didn't much like it. Can't say I blame him. For the record, the red thing in his hand is a Lego coffee mug. Hey, gotta keep warm when the environs don't naturally allow for it, right?

Tundra

Wampa cave

Lighthouses

He also got to play outside the Lego Store in the Streets of Woodfield in Schaumburg, though. So that was cool.

Lego Store
Yeah, he may be an Imperial, but he's a rebel at heart.

But we did come up with the idea to create a squad of Norman clones. The purpose of this clone force is to spread his reach around the world. So, should any of you out there who are going on a vacation in the future be interested in having a Norman clone to feature in some photos, let me know well enough in advance so I can get one sent your way. Then, if you already have a Flickr account, you can share the photo with the group I'm going to create. If you do not have a Flickr account, send the photo(s) my way and I'll upload to my own account with credit given to you for taking it, of course.

Seriously, let me know.

Yanno, it just figures that an earthquake centered 20 miles from where I live would wake me up.

However, when the hanging cable and mounting bracket of a 20-pound wood poster frame on the staircase all of 10 feet outside our bedroom tears out and the frame falls into a trinket shelf sending several wooden blocks flying onto the tiles below and the frame scrapes along the wall until wedging itself into our railing, do I wake up? Hell no.

I slept right through it and didn't discover it until the next morning.

Go fig, eh?


Tell me the tales of war...

For a little while now, I had been tentatively looking forward to Neil Gaiman coming to my old hometown of Naperville as part of the Naperville READS program that they host annually. I say "tentatively" because, while I've read a couple of his books and enjoyed them as well as his Sandman graphic novels, I've had the worst time getting through Good Omens (tried to read it twice now) and I wasn't a fan of the movie adaptation of his fairy tale Coraline.

But, with the signing and reading happening next Tuesday, I was getting a little hyped up.

I went out today and spent a while anguishing over which of his many graphic novels I wanted to buy to have signed (I only own his novels, but had always borrowed his graphic novels from friends or the library). With helpful advice from some of my cool Tweeps including @lesombre, @lynneNaranek, and @MightyHunter, I chose a hardcover copy of Sandman: The Dream Hunters.

Then I went to pick up the ticket for entry to the event.

As the woman handed it to me, she informed me that things had changed and that Gaiman was only going to do a reading and discussion... no signing.

WTF? Seriously? I know this program is all about promoting reading and whatnot, but the cool thing was that they always got great authors to come in and SIGN BOOKS in addition to the reading and discussion.

C'mon Neil! Be my friend! Stick around and sign! Don't just sell pre-signed books!

Besides, Norm wants to take a picture with you. Don't make me Photoshop it.

Katie LOVES her iPod.

Red_hero20090909I got her the project RED iPod Nano, in case you wanted to know.

When I gave it to her, I already had it charged up and loaded with music and videos, including South Park, The Simpsons Movie, and Star Trek. Oh, and the UNO game I bought last year.

I gotta admit, it's one cool little device.

The fact that it has that Nike/iPod exercise tracker available plus the built-in radio with song tagging and live pause as well as the pedometer, video camera, built-in speaker, and shake shuffle makes it pretty damn rockin'. I almost want one, but still love the uber-capacity of my 160GB Classic iPod, which is actually about half full.

I haven't legitimately drooled over an iPod in a while.

This is totally drool-worthy!


Under pressure...

I'm feeling in kind of an "under" mood for this Snippet Wednesday.

Under-

-exposed
I couldn't believe it when Marty sent me this link to a story about one of the members of The Crystal Method who has been chronicling his tour with pictures of his son's Lego Stormtrooper in the different locales he visits. The trooper is even named Norm. In his case, though, it's for "NormTrooper" whereas mine was "Stormin' Norman," but still. Too creepy. I think my Norm needs to get out a little more.

Flamingskull -shirt
I bought a pack of Jockey undershirts a month or so ago without realizing that I normally buy them in tall sizes. Now, after a couple washings each, these things could barely be worn by a toddler and provide full coverage. So, until I have a chance to get back out to a store to buy new ones in the right size (and exchange the one pack I didn't open), I've been wearing T-shirts as undershirts. Last week I used a Blackhawks shirt one day. Yesterday was my Flaming Lips skull shirt from last December's concert. Today is my Ami James skull tattoo shirt. I'm stylin'!

-played
The mysterious gift I bought for Katie for her birthday was a new iPod. As you know, her old iPod died and was outside the warranty period. So I got her an iPod Nano and loaded it with music and video for her trips to the gym. Yes, she has an iPhone, which she has used at the gym, but she's always afraid of dropping it in mid-run (this has happened) and that's a bad thing to do to something that expensive. So she's been languishing for some time with the radio at the gym set to some crappy Top 40 station. Ick. That must change. Humanity dictates it!

Oh, and since I ordered it from Apple, I did get it engraved. But that stays between us. ;-)

-mined
In an attempt to circumvent Netflix, which has had me on hold for the show Glee for a month now, I asked if my library would order it. I received an e-mail yesterday saying, "Unfortunately, because Glee is a network television show, I will not be purchasing it." Huh? What the hell does it being a network show have anything to do with it? And what sense does that argument make when you already stock 24, also a supposed network show?

-estimated
Lindsey Vonn takes the gold in the Women's Downhill while teammate Julia Mancuso takes silver? NIIIICEEEEE! Way to go, ladies! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!


You are my lover, my life...

On this day, an undisclosed number of years ago, the Good Lord (or whatever you choose to call Him/Her) had the good sense to grace the world with Katie.

While I wouldn't know her until 21 years later, she did finally come into my life at a time when I wasn't sure anyone would ever become a part of it.

But she did.

And I love her for it.

Happy birthday, Katie.

I love you with all my heart and always will.

Snow kiss 2

That's snow, by the way.


Baby won't you drive my car...

I have decided that there is one profession I could never and would never want to hold... that of a plumber.

This morning, I decided I needed to clean out a slow drain in our master bathroom. I mean this thing was beyond molasses slow and we were both frustrated. Not even Drain-O was doing much. So I figured out how to remove the drain plug without breaking it and starting digging around with a pipe snake.

What I pulled out was the nastiest looking and foulest smelling clump of crap I've ever seen. I could identify some human hair, but other than that, I have no idea what it was.

I put the sink back together, but I then needed to clean up the residue.

Not pretty.

Just nasty.

I know I can fix this stuff, but having the ability and the willpower are two completely different things.

Yesterday, Katie and I went to the opening day of the Chicago Auto Show. It was a lot more fun than either of us expected and it helped a lot in our car search that will likely result in a purchase fairly soon.

For one, we are not going with Ford. As much as I love my Ranger and as great as it has been to us both, the new Fords are uncomfortable and overpriced. A couple years ago, we had priced base-model Escapes at around $19K. Now some of the non-hybrid models were priced at as much as $33K. What gives? Well, screw that.

We also discovered that our initial love of the Subaru Legacy was pretty well-founded. Decent price and very comfortable. The same goes with the Hyundai Sonata, Santa Fe, and Tucson.

Surprising, though, was how impressed we were with Mazda. We checked out the Mazda 6, CX-7, and Tribute. I really dug on the 6 and the Tribute while Katie really liked the CX-7.

Do any of you have any opinions on any of these models? Let us know. Please.

Next step is test drives.

Here are some pictures from the car show if you're interested...


When they finally get the word...

I must apologize. I got so caught up in the fact that I went through an earthquake yesterday and the subsequent blogging of it, that I completely forgot it should've been a Snippet Wednesday. Guess I'll be having another Snippet Thursday: The Reckoning (yanno, like the last time I effed it all up?).

Fizzy
I'm going out to lunch with some coworkers today and one of them decided we're going for sushi. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here before or not, but I used to love sushi. Until, that is, December 2008 when I had some sushi and caught the flu immediately afterward. It wasn't pretty. I don't blame the sushi; I know it had nothing to do with it. But the two events happened so close together that my stomach churns at the thought of sushi. Well, I think I may give it another shot today. I hope it all works out for the better. Pray for my intestinal fortitude, will ya?

Fuzzy
I know I rave about The Onion and their videos a lot around here. About the only thing I can think of that compares to The Onion in terms of humor and relevance is The Muppets. And this latest video, all about my Katie's fave Beaker, just furthers that belief...

Big
I dare say that working out is starting to work a bit for us both. Our chiropractor's office is running a Biggest Loser contest to see who can lose the most weight, based on percent, each month for the first few months of the year. Katie rocked January, even beating the guys, and won a one-hour massage. I didn't do so well in January, but, so far as I can tell in February, I've been losing. The scale at the gym says I'm down ten pounds from what I was a couple weeks ago. This is, of course, relative to the scale's original reading as it's notoriously off in terms of actual weight. From what I've been able to figure, it is about six pounds heavy. Hmmm, I like that. I hope it's true.

Buzzy
So far, I'm liking the new Google Buzz, the social media functionality that's now built into Gmail accounts. I read somewhere how it's being likened to a gateway drug between webmail and full collaborative applications like Google Wave, which I considered to be a complete and epic failure, and I would agree on that comparison. But I doubt it will bring me back to Google Wave. The nice thing about Buzz is that it's incorporated into my Gmail screen so it's all right there. Not another Web site for me to log into. Now, if only they would incorporate Six Apart blogware and Facebook, I would truly be happy.

I'm not entirely sure how it worked out like this, but this post has lead to a hankering to listen to an old album by The Refreshments. Can't figure out why.

Refreshments 

I miss those guys. They put on a good live show.


Sh-sh-sh-shakin'...

I was all set to write up a quick post about this train that woke both of us up at 4 a.m. Just this huge crashing sound that I swore could have been nothing short of a train derailing in our backyard. Our house shook.

We live with train tracks in our backyard and the trains themselves rarely, if ever, wake us up anymore.

This one did. And we were a bit freaked out. We did get out of bed and look out the front and back windows.

We saw nothing. So we went back to bed.

This morning, I began the mental process of formulating the post about the impossibly loud train when I checked my e-mail and saw a news alert from the Chicago Tribune with the headline "Earthquake strikes Illinois."

No way.

I clicked through and it turns out there was a 4.3-mag earthquake with its epicenter in Sycamore, Illinois.

In case you'd like a little context...

Quakemap

The yellow pin is us. The red pin is Sycamore, about 20-25 miles west.

That certainly explains a lot.

What did Katie say after I told her what happened? "Maybe we shouldn't have pictures hanging above our bed."

Heh heh.

The saddest thing is that I'm actually a little excited about this. I've always wanted to be in an earthquake. Every time we visit California, I hope for one. This is the first earthquake I remember being in although my mom will say that I was in a small temblor while living in Lexington, KY, in the early 80s. Don't really remember it, though.

[morbid] Coolness.


And your chicks for free...

It all started with Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing."

I was at the butcher shop in my local Dominick's grocery store singing along under my breath when I noticed that the butcher, who was weighing out some raw shrimp for my Sunday gumbo, was also singing it.

We started talking about the greatness that is Dire Straits and how one of my media classes in grad school studied it because of the to-do that was made about the unedited version of the song that uses the word "faggot" as well as some other potentially disparaging comments.

Our quick little discussion about Dire Straits turned into a much larger discussion about sensitivity and tolerance as well as the ignorance of hate groups.

Noh8 Granted we both saw eye to eye on the subject (firmly anti-hatred), I gotta admit I was feeling a little weird as he discussed his run-in with a Neo-Nazi skinhead at a white supremacy rally in Chicago some years back. Sure, he had a civil discussion with the skinhead, but something about discussing it with me very openly and at a slightly higher-than-average volume made me worry about how other customers would perceive this as they walked by. I guess the fear of a negative perception kinda comes with the territory when you're white, male, and bald shaven.

No, I do not agree with the viewpoints of Neo-Nazi skinheads in any way, shape, or form. In fact, I firmly believe that stupidity and ignorance do not discriminate based on color, shape, size, gender, race, religion, or sexual leaning. But, we are sadly a society of first impressions and the impression made by one white male talking to another white male with a shaved head during which terms like "Neo-Nazi," "skinhead," and "hate" are mentioned, regardless of the context of their use, could prove disastrous.

Isn't it sad that we have to worry about shit like that?

Seriously, my head is clean shaven due to genetics and convenience. Oh, and a fundraiser.


It was a beautiful day...

It's nice living not too far from a major metropolitan area. There's always something to do, something to discover, something to escape to.

Katie and I did just that yesterday.

We spent pretty much the whole day in downtown Chicago doing things that we'd never done together. And we had a blast doing so.

[Facebookers, you may see a couple photos embedded in this post, but there are also a few photo slideshows you won't see until you click over to my blog]

We took the train into the city and walked on down to the Sears/Willis Tower. Katie had never been there and I haven't been there in years. And now they have the Ledge that we just had to see.

Next, we hiked our way down to the Shedd Aquarium. I probably hadn't been there in 20 years and Katie had never been there either. Again, a blast!

Finally, we headed up north to the Lego Store (this one we had done many times, but had to again just for kicks).

Lego Store 2010

Lastly, we went out to the United Center for the Chicago Blackhawks v. Phoenix Coyotes. Sadly, the Hawks lost in a shootout, but it was still a fun game.

And we need to thank Katie's brothers and the future SiL, Scott and Steve and Becca, for the tickets which were Christmas gifts. 

We need to hang out in Chicago more often.

But I can guarantee Norman will be downtown a lot. After all, he's got some comrades to liberate.

Lego Store 2010

Oh, the army building starts.

Modestmouse Last year, it was The Flaming Lips headlining the final day of Pitchfork that "did it" for me.

This year, the first night of the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival will feature Modest Mouse.

I'm drooling already.

I will be there.

I must be there.

If it kills me.

So far, the other two days look decent. But I can only guarantee that I will be there on Friday so far.

Anyone else want to go with me?


Because I wanna...

All the below Snippets happened within 20 minutes of each other. A nice, compact Snippet Wednesday if I do say so myself.

Shack
I remember sometime within the last couple of years, there were reports that Radio Shack was going to rebrand itself as, simply, The Shack. Well, I haven't seen this happen at any of the retail stores around here. Maybe they forgot about it. But apparently Radio Shack, The Shack, Hole, whatever it's called has also forgotten about electronics parts. At one point, they were my go-to store for the little pieces and parts I needed to fix electronic gadgets. I went in there looking for a tiny spring I needed for a camera. The clerk's response? "We don't carry parts anymore." My reaction? "You're Radio Shack! You don't have parts?" "Nope." I'm at a loss.

Carwash
I hate getting carwashes in the winter. It always seems so pointless because there's so much crap dropping out of the sky and on the roads being kicked up at you by other cars that it never lasts much farther than the parking lot of the carwash itself. But I got one today for my truck anyway. I think there are parts on the outside of my truck that have been frozen in place for the last two months that finally moved again today. Kinda freaky.

Hurry
As I was pulling out of the gas station/carwash, I saw a Pepsi delivery truck trying to negotiate the tight corner pulling into the station. I stopped way short of the intersection to let him make his very wide turn into the lot. All of a sudden, some wench in her SUV whips around me and cuts through the very narrow corridor between the turning truck and the curb. I was in shock at her stupidity (and yes, I saw her in my rearview before this happened and can confirm that this moron was, indeed, a "she" so don't go claiming I'm being sexist, okay?). When she got by, the truck continued and I shrugged my shoulders and mouthed "I tried" to the drivers, they laughed and shrugged their shoulders back at me. The idiots in this world astound me sometimes.

Berry
Driving around, I passed an Elderberry Court. I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count as to what I was thinking when I saw this. Whoops. Too late.

"Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberry!"

I love Monty Python.

Creed
But I don't love Creed and I heard a song from them on the radio this morning that I'd never heard before. I remember rumblings that they might be making a comeback, is it actually happening? Oh Christ, no.


Know what you doing doing to me...

During my commute home last night, I heard the song "Ruby" (Lala.com player will pop open, I hope) come on the radio. I was immediately singing along as I know it pretty well. And I own the album. But, for whatever reason, I was completely blanking on the artist.

Below is the mental process I went through to come by the name of the band...

Ruby, ruby, ruby...

Indian... [I have no idea why that word popped in my mind]

Indian...

Indian...

Native...

Chief...

KAISER CHIEFS!!

I shit you not.

I have no one to blame but goddamn Christopher Columbus and his inability to correctly use a freakin' astrolabe for why my mnemonic hooks are politically incorrect!!

Capiche?

Last night was one of Katie's long nights of work, so, after returning home from the gym, I decided to have dinner ready for her. A couple nights ago, we'd discussed having fettuccine alfredo, so I set about making it.

I was going to make it the right way, but Katie reminded me that we had picked up one of the frozen meal bags from Trader Joe's so I grabbed that to make it.

Inside the bag was one of the weirdest looking things I've ever seen in a TJ's meal. The pasta was flash frozen in what the instructions called "pods," which, to me, looked like they had been shaped in a muffin tin. The alfredo was frozen in what I can only describe as "chips" that seemed shaved off a larger piece.

I snapped a shot of the pods and chips (foreground) with Norman next to it to allow for some context...

Photo365 Day 26

Stranger still were the instructions that said to either microwave without adding any water or cook in a stovetop skillet with just a dash of water. I realize this is otherwise precooked, but to be told to do anything with pasta other than boil it is just weird to me.

Do not get me wrong, it was a good meal, like just about anything from TJ's. Especially after I added some grilled chicken and fresh steamed broccoli. But the initial state just caught me way off guard.


That's what you're hungry for...

This was a good weekend.

On Saturday, we went and hung out with our old game-night crew. We used to get together on a near-monthly basis to eat, drink, and play games. With scheduling difficulties of late, I think this is the first time we've been able to go in nearly a year. It sucks that it's been so long, but we finally did get together.

We had a good night eating, drinking, talking, and, well, not playing games. We call them "game nights," but it seems that, more often than not, we just talk the night away instead of playing anything. And, if we do break out a game, it becomes background to our conversation. But who cares? It was good convo.

The meal was really good too! Graham and Kristy researched and found topping styles from six different cities in the U.S. for hot dogs. It was pretty cool. Of course there was the Chicago style, but we also had, if I recall correctly, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, and Seattle. All kinds of stuff like marinara, cole slaw, cream cheese, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, you name it. And they were cut up into small pieces so we could each try a little without getting too stuffed.

Added to that were my mom's baked beans. She shared the recipe with me on Friday and I made them on Saturday while Katie was at work. It was my first time making baked beans ever, and from scratch to boot, but everyone seemed to think they turned out okay, so I was happy.

It was all topped off with homemade vanilla ice cream and little dutch apple tarts. Yeah, nobody left hungry, that's for sure.

On Sunday, we went up to Katie's parents' house because they were tearing out a wall dividing the kitchen and dining room and we wanted to see how it all now looked. It was also the first time since Christmas we'd seen anybody on her side of the family. Sorry, I didn't take pictures, but the wall looked really nice! Not that it's done yet, but still.

Katie's mom took advantage of the opportunity to unload a bunch of stuff in storage in the basement on whomever wanted it. Katie and I were grateful we escaped with a small bag and nothing more since her brother and FSiL walked away with three large bags and another stack of stuff.

But we got a vintage Speak & Spell and Speak & Math out of the affair. Both are in perfect working order as Norman discovered...

Photo365 Day 25

After a long weekend of driving and hanging out with folks, we crashed pretty hard at home. Sadly, despite Norman's best efforts, no work got done on the puzzle at all...

Photo365 Day 18

Why do I constantly find myself relating to Wally?

Sometimes too well.

Like, scary well.

And no bald jokes, okay?

Dilbert.com