Me & Mine 2009

Back to that same old place...

I received an e-mail last Friday that the Capture My Chicago photo book had been shipped and, contained in the e-mail, was the list of photos and photographers that were featured in it.

The book came in on Saturday and I started going through it just to confirm that I had read the e-mail correctly.

Mine was not one of them.

I'm upset by this fact. I'll admit it. I really thought I had a pretty good shot.

Then I looked at the photos that did make it in the book and suddenly I feel like I am truly an amateur photographer by comparison. Jesus, these are some great pictures!

I'm still happy I participated and that I bought the book (I think my shots did make it in the included DVD - I think all submitted photos made the DVD) and I will participate again should CBS hold another contest, and I hope they do.

I just gotta work on my "skillz." Why? 'Cause I'm gonna be in that damn book next year, come hell or high water.

The damnable thing is that, hindsight being 20/20, I have a photo that I'm pretty convinced may have made the book... but I completely forgot to submit it.

s&*tf%^kd@#n!

There goes the Tourette's again. I really need to have that checked out.

Katie had to visit the Aurora Police Department on Friday to finish the police report on her collision. She had been in contact with me during the day regarding how to get there and whatnot and the following transpired via e-mail. For the record, she was convincing herself that she was going to be thrown in jail for causing an accident. Just setting the story a bit for you...

Me: Good luck at the APD.

Katie: I'll call you once I am done at APD... it will be my one phone call though... so you need to come and get me:)

Me: What if we don’t have enough money to cover your bail? Should I sell some of our belongings or just leave you in there?

Katie: You would leave me there? Sell the @#%$ing belongings! I feel the love!

I love my wife. She cracks me up.


It's all chemistry of a car crash...

I had a plan for Snippet Wednesday yesterday. I even had a post half written. But stuff happened. Stuff that took precedence over worrying about a blog post.

If you saw my notes on Twitter and Facebook yesterday afternoon, you know Katie was in a fender bender on our wonderfully snowy and slick Illinois roadway system. She called me at work and told me. Being as panicked as she was over the accident, there was no way to know how bad it was so I simply up and left immediately to be with her.

Thankfully it wasn't bad at all. She lost control on ice and was doing everything that they teach you in driving safety classes to regain control. No dice. She skidded very slowly into a CRV and left a streak mark along his passenger door. Something that pretty much just buffs out. No structural damage to the other car whatsoever. Katie has a minor dent above the wheel well on her front driver side. It's minimal at best, but since the fiberglass did buckle, I'm sure the entire quarter panel will need replacing. Not like the old days when it could just be hammered back in place.

The biggest thing for me is that Katie's not hurt. Neither is the other guy or his wife. Katie was just in a bit of shock over the whole thing. She was also really upset with herself even though she did everything she could have. Just sometimes Mother Nature and fate don't want to work our way.

I wish I could relate to how she feels about it. I've been in two car crashes in my time, but I wasn't the driver in one and I have episodic amnesia to this day about the other one.

The first was a football team trip to Great America in Gurnee, IL. I was in the backseat and we were in stop-and-go traffic. The driver looked away at his radio and missed that the car in front of us stopped. He hit his brakes but it was too late. We rearended the other car. The cool thing was that, you know how when there is a crash or a loud sound, you instinctively shut your eyes? I didn't. I saw the whole thing happen in a pseudo slow motion. The front end of his car rippled and then buckled and shredded apart. It was the most amazing thing to see. And I can still see it step by step in my mind's eye.

The second, for which I have episodic amnesia, apparently goes something like this (according to the police report)... I was driving down a road in bright daylight on a perfectly dry and warm day. I had balloons in my car for my then-girlfriend's birthday. The balloons probably blew into my face because my window was open. I swiped them away but my hand hooked the steering wheel and pulled me off the side of the road into a 15-odd foot ditch. The car was still moving, but I hit a mound where a drainage pipe cut into the ditch and my car flipped up on its front end and continued on to the back. It then finished its roll down the hill another 180 degrees so when I was found, the car was on all four wheels, but the roof was crushed in and the engine compartment was all kinds of FUBAR. At the scene of the accident, in the ambulanace, and at the hospital, I was supposedly conscious the entire time. Police took a report I don't remember giving, EMTs talked to me, doctors checked me out, friends and family visited. I got nothing until many hours later when I remember waking up. About this same time is when everyone said I stopped constantly repeating myself and seemed more like the normal "me."

Glad I don't remember that one.


I'll rush for forty yards and drink four forties later on...

Sure, the Bears won yesterday, but it was a bad win. Against a team that they should've decimated.

But some good things did come of it...

I got a new Bears jersey (Payton #34), a long-sleeve Bears T-shirt, and some other gameday gear from Katie as the rest of my birthday present. I LOVE 'EM!

I discovered both my camera and camera bag are kosher within the new NFL bags-in-stadiums policy.

I found out that the fact I had three Guinnesses (Guinni?) before 11 a.m. is absolutely fine when attendance at a football game is part the equation.

I used my first ever hand warming packet and loved it.

I learned it is possible to miss an entire quarter of football while waiting to pee.

I discovered that even a bad win is fun when the ticket is free.

I found that when you're a big guy walking around with two other big guys (north of 6'3"), you wind up with a lot of people asking if you're willing to take over on the offensive line for the Bears.

I learned that photography at football games is much more fun with a good lens.

Good times. Good times.

A big congratulations to my brother-in-law Scott and his new fiancee Becca. They got engaged on my birthday.

While I'm happy for them, my birthday's still way cooler.


I pulled into town in a police car...

Sometimes the need to flip someone off from your car or honk the horn just needs to be stifled... as painful as it may be to do so.

On the way to work, I was turning at a three-way intersection (I was turning from the road that dead ended into the T formed by the other road). Since no one else was coming from either direction, I was perfectly legal in my turn.

However, once I got through it, I noticed there was a cop car pulled over on the side about 20 feet up from the intersection. As I pulled through the turn and was righting myself to straighten out, he starts pulling off the shoulder... right into me.

I quickly pulled into the oncoming lane and hit my brakes before we collided. The cop stopped too and waved an apology. But I SOOOOOO wanted to flip him off. Anybody else and you can bet they'd be doing a sit and spin on the top of my fist.

ARGH!

But I guess all bad things can be made good, though.

How?

Pomegranate Tootsie Pops! FTW * !

Pomegranate Tootsie Pop
Also available on Twitpic.

* That's For The Win, in case you didn't know.


I'm gonna be the one who gets it right...

I, along with many others, have discovered this cool little survey over at Avitable's digs. Thought I'd give it a shot here instead of in the comments. Hey, why give away a free post in a comment?

Survey Says
Just pick the first word that you think of when you associate yourself with that category. Don't overthink it.

If I was a/an _____, I'd be ______

TV show: Psych
Song: "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'" by Scissor Sisters
Movie: The Empire Strikes Back
Book: The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
Fictional character: Karl "Helo" Agathon from Battlestar Galactica
City: San Francisco
Verb: capable
Color: blue
Animal: polar bear
Emotion: caring
Article of clothing: jeans
Flavor: spicy
Food: hot dog
Vice: gluttony (gonna agree with Adam on this one)
Plant: knockout roses
Mythological animal: phoenix
Letter: K
Inanimate object: iPod
School Activity: football
Positive attribute: brutal honesty
Negative attribute: brutal honesty

That was fun. More fun than I thought it would be. Go ahead and steal at will.

Yeah, so Black Friday didn't really go as planned.

We did wake up and go to Old Navy for the opening at 3 a.m. We got there at 2:45 and about the only way I can describe it would be to compare it to the opening of a Twilight film... all teen girls and either their reluctant boyfriends or trying-to-be-too-hip moms. Dads stayed home. Smart blokes.

The problem with Old Navy was that all the free games sold out before the store even opened. They had handed out all the tickets by 1 a.m. So I never got my copy of Rock Band: Lego or Rock Band 2 with the free guitar. Bummer. I did get a jacket, though, and an Atlanta Falcons T-shirt (don't hate on me, but one of my fellow NIU grads, Michael Turner, is a Falcons RB stud - gotta support the alma!)

We went home and went back to bed and I never bothered to go to OfficeMax to pick up the video camera and Katie picked up Psych, season 3, from Target on her way to work.

Yeah, so Black Friday? Not so great overall.


Teach them well...

On Saturday, I was hanging out in a Starbucks reading a book (Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol, in case y'all are interested). At the table next to me was a teacher working on her laptop. Every so often, a teenager would wander in, say hi, and sit down to talk to her. Turns out this teacher runs her off-hours study sessions for tests at this Starbucks. Interesting. But I guess in this day and age of rampant garbage lawsuits for inappropriate behavior by teachers, it's good to be in a very publicly visible locale. Anyway...

With one student, the teacher started reviewing his flash cards when she saw one that piqued her interest.

Teacher: "This one is about 9/11?"

Student: "Yes."

Teacher: "But you say on it that Iraq is responsible."

Student: "Yes."

Teacher: "9/11 was perpetrated by Al Q'aida, not Iraq. A terrorist organization, not a country."

Student: "Whatever."

Teacher: "No! There is no 'whatever' here. There is a BIG difference!"

Student: "Okay."

As much as I wanted to go up to the teacher and shake her hand and slap the kid silly, I'm still pretty sure he is only going to take that lesson to heart insofar as answering the question correctly on a test. Otherwise, he's still going to be blissful in his ignorance regarding the truth.

Sometimes I truly worry about the future of our county after hearing things like that.

Katie and I had this conversation the other day during our morning commute.

Katie: "Ahhhh! That's not something I like to see crossing in front of me while I drive at this time of morning."

1987-buick-hearse-2500Me: "What was it?"

Katie: "A Hearse."

Me: "Hell, I don't like seeing one of those cross in front of me ever."

Katie: "But it's like it was looking at me saying 'Good morning!'"

Me: "Is that 'Good morning' or 'Good mourning'?"

Katie: "Oh ugh."

Me: "Yeah, that's me for ya."

Remember me saying that I love having a wife who is perversely twisted? Helps that I'm a good balance of it myself.


Make it last all night...

Katie has one last field trip to go on as a student teacher. This one is kinda different in that it's a bit pricey. It's likely that, in this economy, not all the kids will be able to attend due to the cost.

However, instead of just leaving them in the cold, the teachers are trying to raise money to allow as many as possible, if not all, of the students to go along. So they've been asking teachers and parents to contribute a little extra if at all possible.

Kind of a cool gesture.

This morning, though, Katie told me about one parent who was digging around at home and discovered that she had gift certificates to the place where the field trip will be happening. They were a few years old, so she called the place up and asked if they were still good. The place said they had no problem honoring them. So she sent the certificates to school with instructions to use them to pay for her daughter and whatever was left to pay for other students.

There was enough money on these certificates to pay for admission for nearly five students!

Y'know, sometimes I just wonder when I'm gonna explode and go full-on batshit cynical on humanity. And then something like this happens and warms my cockles enough to make me think that there are some decent people around. Sure, it cost the parent nothing, but she didn't have to do it, right?

[...and kapgar's heart grew three sizes that day.]

I was talking to Katie on the ride to work this morning and she started laughing hysterically. So I asked her what's up.

Katie: "I have the radio on and they're giving away American Girl dolls and they have Tom Petty's 'American Girl' playing in the background and all I can think of is Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. And now I'm imagining one of those dolls trapped in the pit."

Me: "She puts the lotion on the plastic or else she gets the hose, er, again."

And she kept laughing. Hysterically.

I love my wife. Perfect mix of adorably cute and perversely twisted.


We care a lot...

I need BlogFiber. Something that will make me more regular about posting here. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who would benefit from taking this.

There was a time when, for 14 consecutive months, I posted every single day. Not that I ever want to go back to that again. That was hell. Not that I didn't enjoy the writing or struggle for something to say. I had ideas coming out the proverbial yin-yang. I only wish I'd held onto a few of them for these dry spells.

Oh well. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

Now I'm lucky to post three or four times a week. For those of us who live and die by RSS feeds, that's not really all that big a deal. We simply wait until notification arrives in our aggregator letting us know that a new post is up.

But not everyone "gets" RSS. Sure it's free, but they don't understand how to use it or whatnot. And I can understand that. Not all of us are geeks and I'm not going to hold that against you. These people have blogs like mine bookmarked and just make return visits when they have time in hopes of finding something new to read. And here's little ol' me giving you jack shit for your loyalty.

So I'm going to try to be a little more fair to you and your faithfulness. To that end, I've implemented an e-mail notifier on this blog. Simply enter your e-mail address and you should receive an e-mail when I post something new. Bear in mind, I did try to implement one of these some time ago from a third-party source and it didn't work. Hence why I hadn't done it since. But Typepad's been rolling out a bunch of new features lately and they've all been pretty reliable in their functionality. With this one working in conjunction with FeedBurner, it should work quite nicely. Here's hoping!

All you need to do is visit that little box in the bottom of the right column and sign up. It looks like this...

Subscribe
[this is not the actual box;
you won't be able to type anything in it;
use the one over to the right --> ]

You may encounter a CAPTCHA verification and then a confirmation e-mail, but those are all pretty easy peasey.

See? I do care!

Lots of people have asked that age-old question "if you could meet any one person, alive or dead, who would it be?" on their blogs.

That question is boring. It always winds up being some great world leader or philosopher or thinker or the like. Plllbbbtttt! Yes, that's right, I just blew an e-raspberry at the great people of the world. BO-RING!

I want to ask something a bit different...

If you could sit in a bar and do shots with anybody, who would it be? And let's keep it to people who are alive, okay? And have some fun with it. None of the standard answers.

Me? I want to do shots with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips and Chad Ochocinco (nee Johnson) of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Coyne  Ochocinco

Why? I'm really not entirely sure. I just get this feeling that it would be a blast, they'd both have great stories to tell, and there would be some fantastic drunken Tweets (Chad does have his own account, too) and videos to post on this blog afterwards.

Plus, you'd need one helluva twisted mind to come up with the stunts that Chad does as well as this video from the Lips.

Ummm, I'm gonna make you link over to the video as it's severely NSFW (as in Not Safe For Work). Don't say I didn't warn you.


Take all the worry out of your mind...

For whatever reason, the night before last, I woke up around 3 a.m. and had trouble really falling back asleep. So, for the next two hours, I had a quick succession of what I refer to as rapid-fire paranoia dreams. These are quick dreams that happen back-to-back in short order and usually represent some sort of personal paranoia about something that is about to happen. For example, a few years ago when I was interviewing for my current job, I would have these dreams about not waking up on time, forgetting my resume, freezing up during the interview, etc.

The night before last, though, I was having my RFPs about that act of waking up. I slept through my alarm, my alarm never went off in the first place, we had no hot water in the shower, the toilet wouldn't flush, we ran out of soap, I had no clean underwear, the bathroom light burned out as I turned it on, etc.

I told Katie about these at some point yesterday. She gets a kick out of my brain's sleep patterns.

Anyway, last night we were getting ready to go to bed and I was putting dishes in the dishwasher when Katie called me upstairs. She pointed into the bathroom and, sure enough, one of the lights in the fixture above the sink burned out. When she turned on the light switch, the bulb popped and fizzled to black just like in my dream.

We both laughed.

Now if only I could dream about finding a million dollars in untraceable bills...

I promised you more fall photos.

I also have more photos from the Fire Academy last night.

We were playing with ladders and hoses.

And not in a kinky way so get your minds out of the gutter.

Here you go. Facebookers, click through.

Time for worky work.


We don't need no water...

I love not-so-subtle wordplay... I enjoy coming up with creative ways to say things... twisting words to create meanings or thoughts contrary to what was intended...

For example, last night I posted the following message on both Facebook and Twitter...

CFA-twitter-me 

Sounds pretty twisted, doesn't it? Kinda kinky and sexual, wouldn't you say?

The truth, however, is anything but. See the photo slideshow below to see what I mean (Facebookers, click through).

It was Fire Academy. We were using air tanks to crawl through a lit-up smokehouse crawling around on all fours and attempting to crane our necks upwards to see the fire while also looking down to follow the hose through the building.

I was discussing this at length tonight with a friend. She got a bit of a kick out of it, but wasn't convinced. So I threw this one at her based on our situation at the time I was talking to her.

"Right now, I'm half naked with a woman who is not my wife climbing all over me."

And this statement was 100% true. She died laughing. Mostly at how dirty it sounded. Partially at the fact that I managed to say that with a straight face and so off the cuff.

Turns out I'd managed to turn a simple chiropractic appointment into a tawdry sexual affair.

Oh God, how I love words. I seriously need to be a political spin doctor.

I'm watching V right now. The remake, relaunch, reboot. Whatever you want to call it.

I'm not entirely sure what to make of it all.

It's got promise, I suppose. Note, I use "promise" very loosely. But it was all so rushed. So much crammed into a single hour. Half of what they revealed in this episode could've waited another episode or two.

[episode 1 spoiler below]

And, for me, the most shocking thing was the idea that Morris Chestnut is, effectively, the modern version's embodiment of Robert Englund's Willie from the original series.

Morrischestnut  Robertenglund 

I'll keep watching for now. But I may have to go rent the originals just to remember how cool it was.


When you wish...

Taking a cue from Marie's post yesterday, I'm going to write up my own I Wish... list.

I wish...

...Katie would graduate sooner than December, maintain her 4.0, and wind up with many job offers from which to choose her ideal teaching position.

...someone would just donate us two new cars.

...all my friends in need of a job could find one.

...the idiots who skimmed my credit card number would be caught and violated in a very uncomfortable place while wasting away in a foreign prison.

...we would get an inordinately high number of trick or treaters this year.

...I could take Katie on a trip anywhere in the world she wants to go.

...all financial issues would resolve themselves.

...I could cook anything without worrying about how it's going to turn out and without relying on cookbooks or recipes; make me Kapgar Batali!

...our house would clean itself.

...we'd have a grounds crew in our townhouse association that actually made our monthly assessment a worthwhile investment.

...that people could accept each other for who they are and stop fighting, name calling, and judging without getting to know someone first.

...that two tickets to XRT's Big Holiday Concert 2009 featuring The Flaming Lips, Phoenix, and Pete Yorn would just magically find their way into my hands.

...I had an ice cream cone right now. Double scoop. Chocolate Peanut Butter. Waffle cone.

Yum.

C'mon. This is me. Did you really expect them all to be serious? Oh and I guess that might count as a meme to some degree, right?

Well, they didn't "magically find their way into my hands," but I did score tickets to the Big Holiday Concert!

Sadly, Katie can't go. Bad timing with work and whatnot. But she wanted me to go anyway, even without her. It's me, my Lips-man Eric, and his wife Michelle.

So, even though it's six days after my birthday, we'll just pretend that the following are in town to help celebrate with me...

Peteyorn
Pete Yorn

Phoenix
Phoenix

Flaminglips
The Flaming Lips

So, um, yeah, that's two Flaming Lips shows in one year.

You could argue I'm hooked.

I'd argue that you're right.


Feel good...

It has now been two weeks since I had my head shaved in the name of charity.

I haven't heard a single bad comment from anyone regarding the new look. Overwhelmingly (like 100%), people are in favor of it. I'm sure there might be some people who just aren't saying anything. But, hey, if you don't speak up, how can your opinion count for anything, right? Oh well.

However, despite the ridiculous level of support, I can't say I'm used to it yet. When you change your appearance, public opinion weighs heavily in your own acceptance of it, right? If a bunch of people hate what you did and it's actually reversible, you may go ahead and undo what you did... or so I would think. The same goes when people like it. You keep it going.

Not that I'm planning on going back to being balding, but I still haven't completely mentally accepted this new me. I feel like the same old guy. Then I either reach up and touch my head for whatever reason or I catch a glimpse of myself in some reflective surface and suddenly am reminded of this new look and have a "wow" moment. Like it's all hitting me for the first time that I did this.

Does that ever stop? It's getting a bit annoying. I'd like my mind to just accept that it has happened and, unless razor blade prices get even more ridonkulous than they already are, it's going to stay this way.

Make my brain accept it!!

Please?

When, upon waking up, the first thing you do is roll over to your significant other and ask what day it is because your brain can't process anything, just don't do it.

Don't wake up.

Don't get out of bed.

Do call in sick.

It's probably not worth it.

Why the hell am I not back in bed?


And if you can find them...

Consider me jazzed (Thanks Cinematical!)

This is the first official photo of the main four cast members from the upcoming The A-Team movie. 

A-team 

[Click image for viagra-ized version]

From left: Bradley Cooper as Templeton "Faceman" Peck (originally played by Dirk Benedict), Quintin "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus (originally Mr. T), Sharlto Copley as "Howlin' Mad" Murdock (originally Dwight Schultz), and Liam Neeson as "Hannibal" Smith (originally the late, great George Peppard). 

Of course, any remake or "relaunch" of something from the past has cause for alarm. How badly will it deviate from the source material? How bad will the new cast be? There's just so much to worry about.

But I actually think, just based on this photo, that this movie could be fun in a purely popcorn-munching sort of way. No high expectations at all. Just walk into it expecting nothing but shit gettin' blow'd up. Hey, if Liam Neeson kicks even half as much ass as he did in Taken, it will all be worth it.

I do wonder if people will actually die in the movie unlike the TV show. Yeah, that's right, not a single person died in the show. That was one thing for which it was noted... no deaths. Lots of explosions and people flying haphazard like ragdolls through the air, but they all survived.

To be filed under "Things I Never Thought I'd Hear Katie Say."

This morning, she woke up and went into the bathroom to get ready for work. All of a sudden I hear, "OHMIGOD! The toilet seat is cold! If I had balls, they'd be shriveling." 

I love my wife more than she'll ever know.


I know just, just what you are...

My bank card is living a far more exotic life than I am, by far!

I was at Aldi attempting to purchase about $4.38 worth of Mexican food fixings and my bank card was denied.

I ran it again... denied.

I left the stuff behind and came home to check our account online... I couldn't log in.

I tried to change my password... no go.

So I called the bank and was told they needed to transfer me to the fraud division. Oh shit.

"Well, sir, we've had some questionable charges on your card. Have you been to Italy lately?"

I wish!

"I've got $45.42 at a gas station in [such-and-such town], Italy, and $938.47 at a photo studio in [another such-and-such town], Italy. We caught it when they tried to charge $1,403.27 at a place called Media World, which I think is probably similar to our Best Buy. Looks like they also did a $2 test charge at an Avis Rent-a-Car."

Holy craptards!

"We have completely shut down the use of your bank card and will track any continued attempted uses of the card."

So now I'm bank card less and we have no access to our online account at all since it's tied to my bank debit/credit card number. Katie's card is fine and all our identity information is supposedly secure as well. I'm also awaiting an affidavit in the mail so all this money can be credited back to us legally. And I need to stop by the bank and make sure everything is cool and that none of our checks will be given stop payments as a result. We've sent some in for bills lately and it would suck for them to not work.

This is some scary shit. I've heard of this happening and even know a person or two who has had it happen, but it never really hits home just how serious and freakish and mentally crippling it is until it happens to you.

Obviously someone spoofed my card from an in-person purchase as I never have nor ever plan to use my bank card for online purchases. I don't even link our real bank account to my PayPal account. I opened up a whole separate checking account at a different bank with a balance of a whopping $4 in it for Paypal. I want no online ties to our real bank account whatsoever. But apparently it's still not safe.

Right about now, I think the only fair thing is to give us all the stuff this douchebag bought as well as let us charge an Italian vacation to him. Sounds right, doesn't it?

Oh, and then I'd like to beat him to within an inch of his life. If he is actually a she, still fair game.

Actually this is more than just a bit related to the post above.

Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, is creating a plug-in device and app that makes it possible to use your iPhone to scan credit cards.

Until my card was spoofed, I would likely have been okay with this sort of technology. But now, after the fact, I see it as making it even easier for someone to scan our information from our card to their phone when we're not looking. Sure they can do it now, but he's creating a device that makes the theft of this information that much simpler and more inexpensive considering the "Cube" costs him $0.40 to produce.

Sometimes technology ain't such a grand thing, is it?

Iphonecube
[image courtesy of engadget.com and tuaw.com]


She broke your throne and she cut your hair...

I finished the St. Baldrick's video!

This is actually the quickest I've turned around a video since, well, ever. And I'm kinda proud of it.

No, the edits aren't perfect and there are several areas where I probably could've improved things. But for a guy who only recently started into the heavy editing of videos as opposed to the shoot-and-post mentality I previously held, this is decent if I do say so myself. We're not talking Scorsese-level quality or anything, but enough to keep me excited enough about video editing to keep playing with it. So enjoy! [Facebookers, click through]


The Damn Fool Network: St. Baldrick's Event from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

If you're having trouble getting it to play, click the play button and then pause it until the progress bar fills up most or all of the way. Might help. I hope. And the video quality is a bit low because it was shot using a little point-and-shoot digicam. I need to get a Web-ready, Mac friendly HD video recorder. *drools*

For the record, the music is by I Fight Dragons (@ifightdragons). And I gotta thank Brian from the band for being so gracious about letting me use their music (despite not knowing exactly what for).

Ifdreply

This'll learn 'im! ;-)

While you're at it and I have you as a captive audience, I've got a couple new photo albums up on Flickr from those field trips I went on with Katie. Don't worry, for the most part I didn't include photos that would identify any of the kids. Not to the point where Avitable's photo waiver would be necessary anyway.

Thank you, Typepad!

Typepad just introduced social media sharing options that show up by default on our posts (look below).

Sure, I could've gone out and nabbed my own code for this and done it myself, but I'm lazy.

And I know you Wordpressers out there are going to say something akin to "well, we've had this for years! So you should switch over." It's not gonna happen. I tried Wordpress when I was redesigning this blog some months ago and hated the experience. Sure, you have all kinds of cool plug-in toys and whatnot. But what you don't have is customer support. You're open source, which, in some cases is great, but in the experience I had with WP, was terrible. I couldn't get my RSS feeds to work and, when I posted on the boards, no one replied at all. Likely still haven't to this day, but I'm not going to bother checking.

So I stick where I have great (and quick) support even if I do have to pay for the service.


The wind in my hair...

When I woke up this morning, one of the first things I did was to reach up and feel my head to make sure that what I thought I did last night I actually did.

Yep, I did.

I'm bald.

Here's some photographic proof (click through, Facebookers). Video is forthcoming. Needs some editing first.

Oh, and I did Bic it this morning for that completely clean-shaven look. Don't have a photo of that yet, though. Sorry.

Yes, I got my wax lion yesterday at Brookfield Zoo.

But he's not red (orange).

He's not deformed (although he is the exact same mold as the one from Wonderfalls).

And he does not talk to me (not yet, anyway; there's still time).

DSC05685


Where's the deception...

It cracks me up sometimes just how we prioritize things in our lives.

The other night, after both Katie and I pretty much fell asleep while watching a show off our TiVo, we decided it was time to go to bed.

Did we go like we said we needed to or felt we should?

No. Of course not. Instead, Katie got it in her head that she wanted to find the Psych theme song as a ringtone for her iPhone, more specifically, the Boyz2Men rendition of it from a few weeks ago. Not being available as a purchasable ringtone on iTunes, we did some research and found what seemed to be viable instructions for making custom ringtones for an iPhone 3G. Then we had to find the song in MP3 format. And, perhaps, a few other Psych-related sounds like the Hindi version of the theme from a couple weeks prior to the Boyz2Men intro and Shawn chiming "Boom, boom, boom... muffins" to be used as a text message alert. Then convert them and then try to make them work.

All this in the name of going to sleep.

Of course it still didn't work. iTunes won't recognize the file as any sort of audio file for whatever reason. Stupid iTunes and their stupid ringtone policy.

They all work fine on my Blackberry. No special conversion necessary.

And Katie hates me for it.

Oh yeah, and after all was said and done, we were so wide awake that we watched three more shows off our TiVo. Go fig, eh?

I finally got to play Guitar Hero: World Tour yesterday with the BiL, Scott, for the first time in my life. Working drums, baby! The stupid display models at stores never seem to work. Always out of order.

Now, though, it was mine! Well, to play anyway. Otherwise it belongs to Scott and Becca.

I did okay. Anywhere from 68- 90% once I figured out the timing.

And one helluva calf workout. Holy crap!

Another TUA? Why, this could almost constitute a Snippet Monday! Nah, not really.

I just wanted to throw another reminder out there that Wednesday is almost here... the day when my hair becomes no more... and I'm only a little bit away from my fund raising goal

If you're able to help, please do so. Thank you all again!

DonateNow


A walk-on would be fine...

There is a fatal flaw in the logic of mousedom.

Sure, they're small. They can fit in places you wouldn't ever expect a mouse to be able to fit. They can take advantage of the tiniest of gaps. They're nocturnal and scamper about primarily at times when a majority of humanity is fast asleep. You rarely ever see them until it's too late. 

The flaw is that they shit more than a newborn double dosing Super Colon Blow (tm). They're compact little crap factories. If Hansel and Gretel wanted to find their way home, they should've brought mice along to leave a poop path as opposed to leaving breadcrumbs in their wake.

My mouse has been located due to his (or her) inability to control their rectal output. Yes, I found it behind my fridge through the hole in the wall where the waterline for the icemaker is located. There was a pile of shit on the floor under the hole, a trail leading from there to the side of our countertop, and another pile at the floor where they were scaling the counter. Yes, they were pooping the entire way up. If there was a second mouse in this hunter-gatherer pair, I'd sure hate to be him. "Dude! Will you quit shitting in my face!?!?"

The gaps are now stuffed with steel wool, the plate has been replaced and screwed into the wall, and caulk has been applied to the area between the plate and the recessed valve box.

I win this battle you little shit mongers!

Here's some multimedia for you to enjoy. (Yes, Facebookers, now is the time to click through.)

First, a video. And I have to thank Sizzle for guiding me to this absolutely fantastic visual gem by The Antlers called "Two." It blew my mind. Now I want both this album and a bubble-blowing guitar! How cool would that be?

Second, a series of photos I took while on a hike with my mom through the Springbrook Prairie Preserve in Naperville. Good times, good photo ops, and good exercise.


A fire in the sky...

I started my turn with the Citizens Fire Academy last night.

This is truly going to be a blast. Over the course of nine weeks, we are going to be trained with SCBA gear (Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus; yes, very similar to SCUBA, but without the "U"nderwater part), watch fires be lit and fill the room with smoke (a room that we're in as it happens), climb the ladders, carry hoses, bum rush a live fire, and much more.

Best part of it all? They told us that they fully expect no one to completely understand nor believe everything that we are doing so we are allowed to bring cameras and record it all.

YEAH BABY!!!

Oh, and we also all have totally legitimate Halloween costumes. Last night, I collected my turnout coat and pants and I should be getting boots, gloves, and helmet next week. We were told we can use them for Halloween so long as we promised not to get stuff on them.

Don't worry, I'll get pictures of me all decked out, too. Promise. I need pictures to believe it, too.

I'm about halfway to my fundraising goal for St. Baldrick's. With just slightly more than a week of existence remaining for my partial head of hair, some interesting discoveries have come from this effort that I wanted to discuss.

The first came from my chiropractor. I was telling her about me doing this and how I had wanted to do it for some time, but I could never convince myself to take the psychological leap into allowing myself to lose the rest of my hair. She told me that her fiancee was the same way. Suddenly he discovered that he was losing his hair and it receded quickly. Then, one day, he decided to just shave it all off. Instead of feeling full of regret, he was relieved. He had taken control of his own follicular destiny. I thought about this a little bit and it really makes sense. I guess it's a bit akin to those people who use hair growth formula or toupees, but with the whole defying Mother Nature bit. I'm just accelerating things according to my own terms. I like that.

Second, and most unexpected, is that this whole fundraising thing feels damn good. I'd never done it before for someone other than myself through old Boy Scout fundraisers for summer camp and whatnot. Now I'm raising money for someone other than myself. Someone I don't even know. Several someones, actually. Someones I may never meet. But it's the knowledge that I'm raising funds in an effort to help save their lives so that maybe, just maybe, we will, at the very least, have an expanded chance at meeting.

After all, isn't giving these kids the opportunity to have more of a life all that really matters?

Not to bug you more about this, but if you are able to help, please do so by clicking the button below and then click on my photo. To those of you who have already donated, THANK YOU! You know who you are.

DonateNow


And I was worried for my hair...

I finally did it. I finally signed up. I bit the bullet, mustered up my courage, and just did it.

What now, you might ask.

Lowressuperluckyflying

I signed up to participate in a St. Baldrick's fundraising event

For those of you who haven't heard of it, St. Baldrick's is an organization that raises funds for childhood cancer research by hosting shave-a-thons. During these events, people can volunteer to help organize, be barbers, or, like me, volunteer to raise funds by having their heads shaved.

You wouldn't think that it would be that big a deal for someone like me who already has a really receded hairline to go ahead and do this. But it kinda is. It's like saying goodbye. My last vestige of head covering save for a hat. 

But it's a long time coming. Why even bother anymore? I may as well take it all off (hair, not clothing) and do it for a good cause.

And while most of these St. Baldrick's events typically take place around St. Patrick's Day, I decided to sign up for this one instead. Smaller scale, off time, and I'm hoping to be able to help as research to fight childhood cancer is a year-round deal, so why not try to raise funds year-round

So, on October 14, the day after our eighth anniversary, my head will be clearcut. And Katie will be there to take pictures or video or both of poor, pathetic me crying it all away.

I'm hoping some of you might be willing to help. I hate asking for money. I really do. But it's for a great cause to help fight a disease that has affected me in a personal way, having lost a friend to cancer. If you can't donate money, believe you me, I understand. These aren't easy times, economically speaking. However, you can also help by finding an event in your area and volunteering to help organize or maybe be a shaver/shavee on your own.  

DonateNow

For anyone who is visiting my site, I'm leaving this post pinned to the top of my homepage until after the event to make it easier to find. 


Heart cooks brain...

I have become "The Ambassador of Din Din." More specifically, Katie's din din. Oh, and "din din" would be "dinner," not "loud, raucous noise" although I'm sure I could be quite capable of the latter given a chance.

I'm not very self-assured when it comes to cooking. I try it, but I always fear it sucks. And it has a lot to do with the fact that I have very little ability to combine flavors. I know what smells good (although I cannot identify it for the life of me) but I'm not sure if this good smell works with that good smell. 

I guess you have to think of it in terms of clothing. I can buy an individual article of clothing that looks pretty good. I have relatively decent taste in that regard. But ask me to make an outfit out of that piece of clothing with everything else that a guy needs to wear to keep from being arrested for indecent exposure and, well, that's where I need help.

Apply this principle to cooking. I feel I'm okay at making individual dishes. I help Katie pretty well on a course-by-course basis at Thanksgiving. But I need to rely on her for the overall planning. What food goes well with what food, that sort of thing. If left to my own devices, I might have hot dogs with lime-and-cilantro orzo, tater tots, and a side of fruit cup. Ick, right? Individually, nothing really wrong with any of them. Together, they're a gastrointestinal disaster in the making.

Somehow, though, I pulled it together last night. Not sure how, but I made it work. Katie had one of her infamous long days of work and I took it upon myself to cook as I've done a lot lately (good practice). So, intertwined with doing laundry, ironing shirts, and watching Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, I threw together a meal of roasted pork tenderloin with an Italian glaze (thank you, Betty Crocker), green beans, and a long grain wild rice blend. Oh yeah, and throw some Vidal Blanc in the mix as well. It was really the rice I was worried about most, but Katie said it worked. She went back for seconds. That's good, right?

Footballbrownies

Did I mention that Katie made dessert? She poured a couple glasses of milk and grabbed a pair of Little Debbie football-shaped brownies. She actually hiked one to me like a professional center might. She bent over and pretended to give a snap count and, just as I was thinking there's no way she would actually do this, she fired it at me and nailed me in the thigh. So much for cat-like quarterback reflexes, eh? I was a lineman in high school. What do I care?

As I laughed at her "ball" hiking skills, she asked me, "you're blogging this, aren't you?"

Damn right.

If a reviewer were to compare a new show that you're looking forward to watching (in this case, NCIS: Los Angeles) to "little more than an updated version of 'The A-Team'," would you worry or take that as a compliment?

As a child of the 80s who loved The A-Team, I could see that as a good thing. But, then again, I've watched a few episodes of The A-Team in recent years and they don't really hold up so well anymore.

I'm torn.


I want to ride it where I like...

As I type this, Katie's asleep on the couch. We're supposed to go run some errands and get some stuff done, but we just got back about an hour ago from a 20-mile bike ride up and down the Fox River Trail

We had beautiful weather and it was a gorgeous ride, save for the point where you ride past the sewage treatment plant in Batavia. If you weren't feeling hunger pangs before...

But Katie's now completely wiped. I know she's getting tired on our rides when she starts to lean forward with her forearms on the handlebars instead of her hands. Never a good sign. Thankfully that didn't happen until about mile 18. 

She did take a few pictures. Sadly my PowerShot is in the shop with a busted zoom dial. But Katie took some (one of those times when Facebook readers should click through to view the photos)

Do I wake her up? I know we've got a lot to do, but I'm not suicidal.

I'm so stoked about this little gem I ordered. It's an official Invaded! coffee mug for Avitable's 2009 Halloween party

This thing is truly a work containing both fine craftsmanship from the folks at Zazzle.com and the artwork of Dave from Blogography. 

Invaded!   Invaded!

Unlike most coffee mugs, the design is not raised at all. It is so protected by ceramic glaze that there is no way to accidentally damage the logo without destroying the mug. And it's a heavy-duty mug at that. This is my favorite coffee mug second only to the kick-ass Jack Skellington mug that Katie bought me down at Disneyworld last year.

Kudos to Adam, Dave, and Zazzle on a fine product.

And no, I'm not receiving any sort of compensation from Adam, Dave, or Zazzle for this shameless plug other than warm, fuzzy feelings. I can't even go to the party. I'm just going to have to celebrate with my mug.

*sniffle*


The birds will still be singing...

I have a confession to make, after a few months trying to transform into a runner, I crashed. I crashed hard. No, not a literal accident. Just the figurative "wall" that runners tend to hit. But it still hurt bad.

There was a while there that I was doing pretty good. Constantly attempting to increase the distance that I was running. At one point, I actually hit five miles. For the first time since the summer after my freshman year of college, I ran five miles straight.

Since that day, I have not run more than a mile and a half again.

Physically, I'm not entirely sure why it happened, but it did. Any time I attempted to run, I got winded way too quickly or my body just couldn't move. That so-called "groove" I had during the monster run just would not come back. 

Mentally, I saw myself getting worse. I watched (or read) as people I knew were running longer and longer distances at shorter and shorter times. I kept thinking "Why not me? Seriously, why the fuck not me?"

As a result, I got frustrated and I ran less and less. I think I got stuck in the whole "you lost the race" mindset and gave up. I still worked out, but not nearly as much and running was a once or, maybe, twice-a-week thing I would do that did nothing more than bum me out even more.

Yesterday, though, my brain had a breakthrough. After giving away an hour and a half of my life to Guitar Hero III (yes, I still enjoy playing that one solely because of the mix of songs on it), I decided I just needed to go out and run. 

Screw how long I go. 

Screw how far I go. 

I just needed to go.

And I did.

I'm not sure how long. I'm not sure how far. I don't know how it compares to those of you who are runners... and I don't care. I just know that it was more than I've run in months. And it felt good. And I need to capitalize on this feeling. 

Screw medals.

Screw finish lines.

Screw mentally competing with all the people I know who are runners.

I need to do this for me.

I need to do this for my health.

I need to do this for Katie.

I need to do this for our future family (no, that's not a veiled announcement).

So, nothing personal against those of you who are competitively running. I'm happy for you and I wish you all the best. But I need to stop paying attention to what you say and write about. I need to stop gauging my success on how I compare to your efforts. That's the wrong way to live. 

I need to do this for me. My own rules. My own standards. 

And I need to just be happy that I'm doing something. Something that, hopefully, will result in a longer and happier and healthier life.

Life is just too damn short to worry about keeping up with everyone around me.

On a lighter note. I found this gem of a video via Google Reader. 

A musician named Jarbas Agnelli found a picture of birds perched on a series of five suspended cables as birds are wont to do. But instead of just disregarding the image, he and his musical mind decided to see if there was any compositional value to how the birds were sitting.

Check out what he discovered. It's pretty amazing, really.


Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Originally posted at Superhero Journal. Well, that's where I found it, anyway. Via Google Reader.


Somebody else's body, someone else's head...

I swear I must be the only person in the history of the working world who doesn't pay attention to when federal holidays are happening.

This past Monday at work, everyone was discussing their plans for the upcoming long weekend.

How did I respond? "Long weekend? Huh?"

Hey dumbass, Labor Day is this coming Monday, we have a three-day weekend.

I'm really bad like this. It must be a disease. If people didn't tell me, I'd probably show up at work anyway. Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veterans' Day, and a few others, I'm sure. Heck I'd likely even show up on Thanksgiving despite the sweet smell of food cooking in our kitchen. That's how dense I am to these things.

Aren't we all supposed to be programmed to think of nothing but holidays? What's wrong with me?

I just got final word that I've been accepted into a local citizen's fire academy. No, I'm not becoming a firefighter despite my lifelong obsession with being one. I'm just going through an eight-week academy where residents get to learn about the stuff that firefighters do.

Oh, but we do go through variations of the actual training and situations that firefighters face and we get to wear the gear and go running into a live-fire drill. How sweet is that?

I'm hoping I can get some pictures if the circumstances allow (not while in the fire, obviously... Kapgar Flambé... bad form).


Who am I to disagree...

I think at some point in the past, a few of us discussed the idea of using sleepy time suggestion to make somebody do something you want them to do.

I'm here to tell you that this shit works as I indirectly discovered this weekend.

Geeky Yesterday morning, I woke up before Katie and came downstairs to let her sleep in a bit. A little while later, she came down dressed in her A Little Geeky babydoll shirt and asked me, "did you watch Rocky IV last night or did I just dream it?" I just laughed.

Now the backstory...

The night before, Katie pretty much died up in bed but I wasn't quite ready to fall asleep. I flipped around through the channel guide and found Rocky IV. I know it's kinda cheesy, but I always loved the comparative training sequences between Rocky in Siberia and Drago in his heavily monitored gym setting. I thought, and still think, this sequence was well done (if only they would cut out the bit where Adrian arrives in Russia). However, I did not watch it right from the beginning. I dropped in about the point where Rocky is driving around Philly lamenting the death of Apollo and debating if he would actually go fight Drago. There is no dialogue in this sequence, just music. As soon as the music kicked in, Katie's head lifted off the pillow.

Katie: "Which Rocky are you watching?"

Me: "IV."

Katie: "Ohhh, good one."

Me: "Yep."

Katie: "Is this the scene where Rocky is driving around and deciding to fight Drago and has to tell Adrian that he's leaving?"

Me: "Yep. You got that from the music? This is one of the more obscure songs on the soundtrack."

Katie: "Yep. I know this movie too well."

Me: "Clearly."

I feel I should clarify that Katie does not have her glasses on nor her contact lenses in. Without them, she's blinder than me.

Several minutes later, after she's put her head back down and presumably fallen back asleep, Rocky's plane touches down in Siberia to the tune of another song."

Katie: "He's landing in Russia now, isn't he?"

Me: "Jeez, you really are good."

Katie: "I told you."

And a little later still...

Katie: "Ah, he's training now. I love this part."

Me: "You're unbelievable."

Katie: "I'm your little geek, aren't I?"

Me: "Yes, you are."

Katie: "But you love me."

Me: "Always have and always will. You should wear your A Little Geeky shirt tomorrow just to let the world know."

Katie: "Okay."

Now I know Katie was tired, but the depth of our conversation and the fact there was no slurred speech led me to believe she was actually awake each time we spoke. To have her tell me the next day that she remembers absolutely nothing from our conversation nor me requesting that she wear the shirt that she now had on just blew my mind.

I may have to try this more often.

Muahahahahahahahahaha! Ha.


Is anyone going anywhere...

On my way to work the other morning, I looked ahead to approximately where I hit the on-ramp to the highway eastbound and saw two helicopters just floating there.

At that time of day, I couldn't imagine them being anything other than news or traffic choppers. This could not be a good sign, could it? Accident? Traffic jam? Prison break? Toppled beer delivery truck?

Despite my internal alarms ringing, I kept driving in that direction in hopes that I was wrong.

I was only partially wrong.

They were, in fact, news/traffic choppers and were likely reporting on some accident, but the scene was about a mile or so further west of my on ramp. Translation? There was no eastbound traffic coming to my merge. My commute in to work was free and clear, baby! Oh my God, the only other time I'd ever seen the highway this empty at rush hour is on those few days between Christmas and New Year's when nobody is working. It was a beautiful thing.

Now I must come up with ideas as to how I can create traffic jams at that same location daily so I can have this same easy commute every day! Any ideas?

This has to be one of the most amazing music videos I've ever seen. It's for "King Rat" by Modest Mouse. Director credit was given to Heath Ledger for conceptualizing it as a protest piece against whaling off the coast of Australia. I'm not sure if he actually did any work beyond the concept phase, but I do know he had directed a handful of music videos in his time.


Modest Mouse - King Rat (directed by Heath Ledger) from Johann S. on Vimeo.

I think one of the reasons I love it is the choppy pseudo animation that's employed (I have no idea what the actual animation style is called). It's very reminiscent of Monty Python segues. I do believe Terry Gilliam had something to do with this as well, which would explain the Monty Python parallels.

For the record, the video is incredibly brutal and raw and bloody, but oh so powerful and entrancing. I love it. Almost as much as A-ha's "Take On Me" (this particular copy complete with VH1 pop-up commentary), which is my favorite video of all time.

Seeing stuff like this and realizing just how much raw talent was lost makes me miss Heath Ledger even more.

Thanks to ChordStrike for cluing me in to this.


Where have all the good times gone...

Have you ever had a friend that suddenly, and perhaps even without explanation, ceases to be your friend?

This happened to me back in high school.

Chandlerrossjoey Shortly after I moved to Chicagoland, I met Pete (names have been changed). He and I, along with another guy I'll call John, were all really great friends. There were others who migrated in and out of our group, but the three of us were the nucleus of our insane little institution. Throughout junior high and freshman year of high school, we were practically inseparable.

At the end of freshman year, Pete came up with the insane idea that he and I should try out for the football team. I had my doubts, but went along with it. We went through all the administrative stuff and showed up to two-a-day practices that summer. It wasn't easy, but we tried to power through it anyway.

After the first week ended, Pete quit. He didn't even tell me he was leaving; he just stopped showing up. To top it all off, he stopped talking to me entirely.

To this day, even upon years of reflection, I still couldn't tell you what happened. I thought maybe I had changed as a result of all the new people we had been hanging out with from the football team. But, if that had been the truth, I wouldn't have remained friends with John. The two of us stayed close despite him not even being on the football team at all. He didn't even try out. Yet we were friends and he even became friends with a few of the football players by association. When I asked John one time about it, he had no clue what happened either.

What makes people act this way?

I realized something yesterday when Marie commented on my post about being a lover of all things Beck... my post title yesterday made absolutely no sense in relation to the context of my post. Well, less sense than usual.

I chose "Devil's Haircut" by Beck as my title because I had a snippet on there about how I was going to push for legislation to allow people to shave the heads of women they find sporting the Kate Gosselin hairdo. Tacked onto the resolution would be a caveat allowing the public beating of any man with similar hair. So, in that regard, the post title was perfect.

However, at the last second, I changed my mind and deleted the snippet. Not sure why anymore, but I did. And I did not change the post title.

So, for that, I'm sorry. I usually try to tie in my titles, at least tangentially, to what I'm writing. Didn't quite happen yesterday. Whoops.


Then we go back to school, yeah...

I don't know what made me realize this, but while working out at the gym tonight, I realized something relatively significant about today...

Aside from it being the start of Katie's student teaching, today also marks the 20th anniversary of me starting high school back in 1989.

Holy shit.

I think I'm going to curl up in a corner and cry right now.

Okay, maybe I'll wait until my fantasy football draft is done. Then I'll cry. And if I don't get the players I want, I'll have even more reason to cry.

I seriously can't be the only person who cracked up insanely upon reading this.

If you know code, you should understand this. But it's so incredibly geeky that maybe I am the only one who gets it.

.clowns{float:left;}.jokers{float:right};#me_you{position:fixed;margin:0 auto;width:100%}

Thanks to @MarcDrummond for sharing this little gem with me.


Too easy to make you mine...

This is driving me a little batty right now.

Katie is now into the all-important student teaching phase of her Master's degree program, which means she's working a weird schedule at her regular job. Some nights and even weekends; well, Saturday, anyway. And I have no idea what to do with myself. I'm bored actually. Sure, I'm doing stuff around the house, but it's still boring. I miss Katie.

I never denied being codependent. Neither did she. In this era in which the U.S. suffers a 51% divorce rate, I think codependency is a good thing, don't you? To me, it means you actually want to be with your significant other. How could that be bad?

Anyway, one thing I have done is to start watching True Blood, season 1, on DVD. I really like it so far. Bloody, sexy, wickedly violent... everything that watching HBO used to be but hasn't been in a long time.

But there has been an unexpected side effect of watching this series, I've begun having vampire nightmares. Last night's was vicious, to say the least. The violence and bloodshed in my dream far exceeds anything I've ever experienced on any vampire show or movie. Just when I think I've seen it all, my brain comes up with worse. Who'd'a thunk it?

I want to write about it, get it committed to a page; but I cannot even fathom putting words to what my brain created. No words exist for what I saw in my dream.

But it did give me an idea for a different type of story. Somewhat less gory, thankfully. I just have to actually write it down... like all those other ideas I keep swearing I'll write.

I think that roughly translates to "it'll never happen." Heh.

Now, however, in an attempt to cleanse my brain of all this vampire imagery, I'm going to go watch a TiVo'd copy of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead from the other night. I've never seen it, but how can you argue with a movie that stars Gary Oldman and Tim Roth?

Yesterday, I updated my Facebook status with a message about being busy downloading a bunch of free and legal music.

Samplingtheworld Based on the comments, it would seem several people couldn't grasp the concept of music actually being free and legal. Yes, it does happen once in a while. This time around, it was Amazon offering 27 free album's worth of world music. Yes, 27 albums worth. Believe it.

Of course, world music isn't for everyone. It can be quite the acquired taste to us insular U.S. natives. But I've developed a taste for it in recent years. Very small scale, so far, like Fela Kuti and Rodrigo y Gabriela (who have a new album coming out next month that I'm completely stoked about), but it's a start. And 246 free new songs can go far to developing that taste, don'cha think?

If you're interested in checking them out for yourself, visit Amazon.


Grab your mouse and stroke your keys...

(Sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

Where is Kapgar?
Where is Kapgar?

Here I am.
Here I am.
Where the hell you been?
Lazy S.O.B.

I took a week.
Just for me.

And it felt damn good. Okay, moving on.

Apparently, retail America would have you believe that we're closing in on the winter holiday season. This despite the fact that we have only just begun hurricane season and, hell, Chicago only recently started to actually have summer weather. Yeah, we're late bloomers around these parts.

But the idea of it being so close to holiday season had me thinking about gift giving. No, I'm not giving you anything. Well, not yet anyway. Maybe sometime down the line a bit. I was actually thinking about the process as a whole. Some people are easy to buy for, some people are a pain in the ass. Some gifts are fun to buy, some are not.

This is where you come in... I need the answers to two questions regarding gift giving.

First question... What would you consider the worst gift you had to buy for someone? I'm not talking about white elephant gifts or gag gifts. I mean what gift did you have to buy for someone that just made your skin crawl, activated your gag reflex, made the hairs on your neck stand on end? But you did it anyway because it was what this person wanted.

For me, it was the Bodyguard soundtrack CD that I bought for my brother one Christmas years ago. I know I don't always listen to the greatest music and that some might consider my tastes to be bad. But this? An album of nothing but Whitney Houston tripe? This was physically painful for me to have to purchase. Mainly because I could not fathom that living around me did not rub off on him more positively. The shame I felt.

Second question... what do you think others may have considered to be the worst gift you bought for them? This would be something that you bought that you just know this other person despised. It may have been purchased intentionally to drive them nuts or maybe they just didn't receive it the way you intended.

For Katie and me, it was a gift package of Chicago Bears bib, baby bowls, sippee cups, and plastic flatwear that we purchased as a baby shower gift for Katie's cousin and his wife. Why was it so horrible? Well, her cousin is a diehard Bears fan, so we're pretty sure he liked it. But he lives and works in Green Bay and is married to a woman who bleeds Packer green and gold. We knew this when we bought it. It was purchased wholly for him in his quest to keep his newborn daughter on the good side of fandom. And we're pretty sure it's either been disposed of by his wife or has at least been hidden far, far away.

I think I have discovered the definition of "geek porn." And it's a song.

The song is "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" by The Guild featuring Felicia Day (she being the object of many a geek fantasy herself after her starring role in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).

It is a truly hilarious satire (at least I choose to look at it as satire) about people who take their online realities very seriously. Not to poke and prod them too much as they might rise up in revolt against me, but it is well done and funny. (For the record, there is a video embedded below that you may not be able to see if you're reading this from my Facebook wall. Wanna see it? Click through to this post on my blog.)

Also, this video is receiving huge traffic so you might want to click to start it and then pause it to wait for the entire video to preload before you play it straight through.

Check out the song on Amazon or on iTunes.


Sometimes I was drifting on a coffee buzz...

Three weeks.

Three very long weeks.

Three excruciatingly painful, truly untasty weeks.

Mrlick That's how long it's been since I've had coffee.

I was never a huge coffee drinker. I only had coffee one, maybe two, times a week. But on that "one, maybe two, days," I would have about three cups. The first cup would never be enough to sate me.

However, over the course of the last few months, that "one, maybe two days" turned into five days a week. I was as bad as everyone in my office. I would sit there and wait for the coffeemaker to finish brewing a pot just to make sure I got some of it. I was becoming an addict. And it wasn't even particularly good coffee.

I decided it was time to kick the rapidly forming habit. Cold turkey. And I went to water. Straight water.

There are few things as boring to drink in life as water. God it's boring to drink repeatedly. I've even tried hot tea or those drink stir ins. It helps, but that can get a little pricey after a while. The big ol' Nalgene bottle I use requires two packets of stir-in mix.

I guess the one good thing about it all is that I'm sleeping much better at night. Truly.

But I miss my caffeine.

Speaking of coffee, have you seen Boy Obsolete's hand-drawn coffee cups? Total coolness.

I missed my blogiversary. Again. It was back on June 16. How could I miss such an important holiday???

Never again.

After seeing it over on Renagerie, I decided to add my own blogiversary counter. Thanks, Ren.

Now what app can I find to remind me to look at my counter?

Oh, and I gave myself a new banner in belated celebration.


Good ol' fashioned nightmare...

I had a disturbing one last night. Actually I had several weird ones due to a strange sleep, but this one stood out.

I was at an M83 concert and it had just wrapped up. Anthony Gonzalez and the drummer and the female vocalist/synth player (who played with him during Pitchfork) were out front taking their bows to the audience. All of a sudden I heard someone scream, "You broke my heart, M83!!"

I looked up and there, behind the drum kit, was Avitable.

And he was naked.

And he was standing there behind the drum kit with a snare drum covering his junk and his arms raised in the air with drumsticks at the ready.

I'm not sure what's more disturbing, the vision of him naked in public or that I was dreaming about it.

I need brain bleach.

Wii Punch-Out!! rocks. Way too much fun for one game.

And that's all I've got to say about that one.


I know Saint Peter won't call my name...

I'm reading a book right now called The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi about a modern serial killer in Florence, Italy, and I came across a rather profound thought. The character who said it is an Medical Examiner's Assistant named Fosco and he is answering the question of whose body he is operating on as posed to him by Spezi (yes, this book is a true story):

"This one? A brilliant scholar, a distinguished professor in the Accademia della Crusca no less. But as you can see, tonight yet another disappointment has laid me low; I have just opened the head and what do I find inside? Where is all this wisdom? Boh! Inside it looks just like the Albanian hooker I opened yesterday. Maybe the Professor thinks he's better than her! But when I open them up, I find they're equal! And they both have achieved the same destiny: my zinc gurney. Why, then, did he tire himself out poring over so many books? Boh! Take my advice, journalist: eat, drink, and enjoy yourself--"

I know Fosco was being a bit of a smart ass. I've heard that people working as MEs and in morgues develop rather morbid senses of humor. But there is something very insightful about it.

Which of our accomplishments in life really matter? What things that we do truly have weight enough to count in our favor in the afterlife? Say you believe in Heaven (or adapt this question to your own beliefs as you see fit), what would you present to Saint Peter at the pearly gates as justification for why you should be allowed in?

Yeah, this is way too deep for a Tuesday night. I need a drink.

Something tells me I either need to stop being so deep on Tuesdays or come up with a new category to be dubbed "Deep Thought Tuesdays." What is it about this day of the week lately that gets me thinking so pseudo-profoundly?

Katie and I saw what had to be one of the worst movies we've seen in a long time this past weekend. Okay, let me qualify that a bit... this is one of the worst movies that we actually finished. Typically, when a movie is bad, we stop watching it. But this was such a trainwreck, I had to see how it ended.

I soooo regret that decision.

The movie was Nic Cage's Knowing about a guy who uncovers a code in a 50-year-old page filled with numbers written by a grade school girl in 1958 and placed for 50 years in a time capsule at a new school. Cage's son gets the letter when the capsule is reopened and is fascinated by the seemingly mindless jumble of numbers.

[POTENTIAL SPOILER IF YOU ACTUALLY GIVE A RAT'S ASS ABOUT THIS TRIPE]

Turns out that the numbers represent the dates, death counts, and lat/long coordinates of major disasters for the next 50 years. But there are three dates on the sheet that have not yet happened. And, Cage, as you would expect, takes it upon himself to try to stop them. Sheeyah, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Basically, that's what Katie and I did the entire time... insult the movie. We were a regular Statler and Waldorf just picking it to shreds. And that was the only thing that made it tolerable. We were tossing around gems like...

E.T.'s back! "Yo bitches! I'm baaaaaccckkk! Where's my fuckin' Reese's Pieces? Yo."

Look at that! One tanker truck nailing her car and all of Glenn Close's problems are erased!

"So uhhh... if you're only taking me and her up there to space, does that make her my bitch? Sure she's only 12, but I can make it work."

Where's John Nash?

Hey whisper dudes, I know you're hard up for work seeing as you haven't done anything since Dark City, but can you cut that shit out? It's annoying me. [yes, I'm aware Alex Proyas directed both films]

A door? You're really stealing a door from a school and taking it all the way home and wasting all that damn time when you should be seeking cover? And speaking of cover... a cave, really? We're supposed to buy that as a solution?

Lesson to be learned here... never fly out of Logan Airport.

So this is what Draco Malfoy does during his breaks from tormenting Harry Potter.

Can somebody make those black rocks start flying at Cage's skull and end this thing already?

Okay, maybe it was only funny to us as we watched it.

Statlerandwaldorf


Everything zen, everything zen...

I realized something last night that was equal parts disturbing and reassuring... I enjoy washing dishes.

Actually, I can't say I just discovered it last night. I've known this for some time. But last night it dawned on me that the time I spend washing dishes is almost like a bit of a Zen moment for me. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, right? Washing dishes? Zen-like? Seriously?

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the concept of Zen. But here is how I understand it (with assistance from Urban Dictionary)... it's a time of reflection and inner thought when you are able to block out outside distractions and focus on a sort of inner peace. Does that seem like a reasonable understanding of "Zen"?

Well, this seems to happen for me when I'm washing dishes. The running water (yeah, so my method isn't entirely environmentally friendly) blocks out a lot of distractions around me. I cannot hear the TV, the neighbors, not even the train that rumbles through our backyard right outside the kitchen window. I stand there making repetitive motions while cleaning the dishes that tend to calm my mind and allow my thoughts to flow freely. I think the only time this state of calm is disrupted is if I have a particularly difficult cooked-on stain to get out and I've even found ways to remain calm while dealing with that.

During this time, though, I tend to really be able to think things through. Reason out any problems I may be having. Think through my issues and come to a sort of resolution.

That is kinda Zen, right?

I don't even achieve this state of peace in yoga, to be honest. I'm still so new to yoga that my mind is too concerned with getting the positions right and that keeps me from truly finding my center, my peace. Some moves I'm comfortable enough with that I can be relatively Zen-like, but then we move on to something I'm not so comfortable with and I worry about posture and hand/foot placement and balance, etc. Stupid downward-facing dog. I still hate that damn pose.

So what about you? What weird actions bring you inner peace? Please don't say "masturbation."

One of the things I loved most about Pitchfork was all the free music. Sure, there were plenty of vendors selling albums on CD and vinyl and even, *gulp* cassette and 8-track. But so many people were there giving away either free CD samplers of music from their record labels or codes for free online downloads.

And "free" is one of my favorite words!

Sadly, though, several had codes that were needed meaning that they are one-time downloads only. But there was one that just had a URL to visit and enter your e-mail address and you can get an 18-track sampler. That one was from Absolutely Kosher/Misra Records.

So, if you're interested in 18 free indie label tracks, head on over. No, not all of it is necessarily great stuff, but I found some really good tracks on the album.

Oh, and Eric? You still have my copy of that one sampler in your bag! Help! I need my muzik!


And I hate everything about you...

Katie and I were watching the most recent episode of The Closer last night in which the team is investigating the involvement of a couple of neo-Nazis in the shooting death of two LAPD officers. As they were interrogating the pair and executing the search warrant of the house where one of them lived, they displayed more and more evidence, both in terms of behavior and material product, of their personal venom.

Although I've wondered this before, I'm pretty sure I've never blogged it... but what has to happen to a person to become that hateful? To just take a wide-bore paintbrush and lay down a stroke that covers an entire people and say "I hate you all"?

"Hate" is an ugly and powerful word, but I cannot say I'm completely immune to it. I have hated in the past. There have been people that have pissed me off so badly or done something to me I have felt was so despicable that I developed what I can only describe as hate or utter contempt for this person. But the difference is that this feeling was targeted at a single person... the person who did wrong by me. I didn't generalize my hatred to everyone that was similar to this person either in terms of race, gender, religion, culture, upbringing, sexual preference, career choice, etc. It was just this one person that I hated and upon whom I imagined all kinds of horrible deaths, simply put.

So how do you wind up hating a whole group of people?

I know psychologists say "you live what you know," meaning that you can inherit these feelings either from your parents/guardians, friends, teachers, siblings, or anyone else who holds a level of influence over you. I believe this wholeheartedly. When you're around something enough, it can take hold in you. Even hatred.

But who made your personal influencer so hateful? Eventually, if you dig back enough generations, there has to be some traumatic event that caused it. That started the whole mad downward spiral into the pit of personal despair. You can't tell me that it dates all the way back to the dawn of mankind, regardless if you believe in evolution or creation.

I'm sorry, but this is such a foreign concept to me. I just can't wrap my brain around it.

Anybody?