Me & Mine 2007

It's time to get up...

Hope everyone out there had a Merry Christmas!

Katie and I had all these grand plans for a Christmas post. Yep, that's right, she was going to co-write with me. But they all fell through when we discovered that my truck wouldn't start at all yesterday and diagnosing it became our overwhelming concern. We're giving it a new battery today now that stores are open again. So we hope you'll forgive us for having not written anything.

I'm also spending a lot of time right now compiling my "Best Of" lists for the year. I had forgotten how much work they were. I also listened to a ton more new music this year than in years past. It's incredible how much more. Yeah, I've spent an hour just putting together the list of albums I've listened to. I haven't even begun to write up commentary. So I stopped this morning and went to wake Katie up.

I decided it might be more fun to lay down and spoon her instead of letting an alarm wake her up. The second I wrap an arm around her, she jolts awake and exclaims, "What did I do!?!?"

Um, nothing that I'm aware of. Care to enlighten me?

Should I be laughing about this or worried about it?

I remember now...

It amazes me how the brain works sometimes.

Last night, during our apparent Rob Reiner night o' entertainment, I was able to remember every single line from The Princess Bride despite having not seen it in nearly a decade. Literally. I was able to recite every single line either out loud or in my head. I tried not to annoy Katie. Really, I did. But she just got revenge on me later by reciting every line of Sleepless in Seattle. So we're even.

And, yet, this morning, I could even remember which direction was hot and which was cold with the knob in the shower. Didn't make for a good morning.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I finally got around to offloading some photos from my digicam so my Flickr account is jumping right now. The selection includes pictures from the birthday/anniversary surprise celebration for Katie's parents back in October, some addition to Wall Destruction 2007, and some new winter shots.

Here are a couple faves...

Tree carving and bubbling.

I /heart/ you
Yeah, you all already knew I was a sap.

Down at the Sunset Grill...

While on a very spontaneous date night with Katie on Friday to our local Japanese steak house, I discovered what could easily be the greatest job in the history of mankind... Japanese grill chef.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about or have never experienced what this is all about, I suggest you find some way to watch the "Benihana Christmas" episode of The Office from last season. There's no BS in that episode at all about what they're capable of. In fact, if I discovered anything, they downplayed their abilities in that episode.

Our chef at Ju Rin in Geneva was a really nice guy named "Homero." He came out with our food and just started right into his routine. He was flipping bowls and plates, knives and spatulas. He created grilltop art out of rice making a Mickey Mouse for the kids at our table as well as a flaming (and pulsing) heart. Of course, he also created the requisite onion volcano, but he made his flame instead of just steam. He had the moves and the charisma to make it an enjoyable evening for all of us.

So let's review why this might just be the greatest job ever...

  • Playing with knives... check.
  • Playing with fire... check.
  • Playing with your (or, better yet, other's) food... check.
  • Impressing the women with your cooking ability... check.
  • Entertaining everyone sitting around your table... check.
  • Getting paid to do all this and more... yeah baby!

Where do I sign up?

And guys, just as a note, there are few better ways to impress your significant other than with a completely spontaneous date night. Katie and I were simply out shopping for some Christmas gifts when we decided we needed to eat. The way things were sounding, we were just going to pick something up and take it home to eat in front of the TV. However, the night before, NBC replayed the "Benihana Christmas" episode and that got me hankering for steak and sushi. I recommended that we go to Ju Rin (the local equivalent of a Benihana or Domo 77) instead of taking food home and Katie was just beaming about it.

Afterwards, we went to a local candy store called Graham's Chocolates (yes, the same one featured in a recent episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show) and picked up a few items to take home.

It was, simply put, the perfect evening.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Katie gave me my Christmas gift over the weekend. It was Guitar Hero III for the Nintendo Wii. Totally sweet, totally cool, totally perfect. Now I just can't wait to play it. Very soon. Oh yes, very soon.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA) #2: I need to apologize to all of you. It may seem as though I haven't been around much lately reading all your blogs. The truth is I haven't. I've been so strapped for time that it's been tough just blogging for myself let alone read everyone else's. But I have begun a catch-up campaign in which I plan to get up to date with the more than 1000 posts that have accumulated in my Google Reader. It isn't pretty. Especially when a daily poster like Dave has 10 feeds I need to catch up on. Yeah, that's how long it has been. I'm really sorry. I will get there. I promise.

Let's hear it for the man...

Today's post is dedicated to my buddy Karl. And I'm sure Hilly will join in my celebratory mood, too!

Merriam-Webster has added the new Word of the Year to its dictionary. The word? w00t!

Some of you may be wondering "what the hell," so here you go...

Basically, "w00t" is a combination of letters and numbers that are known as l33t ("leet," short for "elite") speak. In this case, they form an onomatopoeia of sorts for the tendency of some people to cheer by going "woot woot woot!" This was used most popularly by Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman as well as by former talk show host Arsenio Hall.

Maybe you're still wondering "what the hell." I wouldn't blame you.

So here it is straight from the horse's, er, M-W's mouth...

"It shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language. It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other," said Merriam-Webster President John Morse. Apparently, they also liked it because it represented a blending of whimsy and technology. Okay, whatever.

Yeah, occasionally I've been known to w00t it up in the blogiverse. But to add it to the dictionary? I'm not so sure about that.

Yet, it still won out amongst a class of 20 nominees.

Those other words must've sucked something fierce.

But I do think visiting Karl's site and leaving him a comment of congratulations on this verbalistic accomplishment (of which I'm sure he's very proud) is very much in order.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The walls are coming along in case any of you were wondering what has been happening with that project. They have all been stripped and plastered and are mostly primed right now. We hope to start painting the ceiling and maybe even the walls this weekend. Please pray for us as this project has proven to be a severe bitch. But it's certainly looking good. It feels like we've got a whole new living room.

Sometimes you wanna go...

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I tried to come up with something worthwhile late last week and my mind just failed miserably. And, since part of the point of this pseudo-hiatus is to not post crap, I didn't.

This past Friday night, I got together with a couple long-time friends for the first time in a long time. Just three guys out at a bar drinking, chatting, and maybe eating a little to help soak up all the Guinness. It was fun and it had been far too long.

But I have to admit that I did feel a little weird during this whole event.

We went to a pub and tavern that is actually right up the street from where I live. If I needed to, I could walk there (thankfully, I didn't need to). Yet, despite living so close, I felt the role of outsider to the x degree.

When I arrived, MadIrishMan (as some of you may know him from comments a while back) was already in full swing. He may have been on Guinness one or two, I didn't bother asking. Not much point. But he was also already chatting up the bartenders who all knew him by name.

Then B- (also how he refers to himself here on my blog) showed up. Immediately he started chatting up everybody. Not just the bartenders, but the wait staff, greeters, and management.

This was not just the normal, run-of-the-mill smalltalk either. In some cases, what they were talking about was clearly a continuation of conversations started well in the past. Like old friends picking up where they last left off.

For B-, this is completely understandable. He used to work at the place. And much of the crew on staff that night worked there at the same time he did. MadIrishMan, on the other hand, never worked there. He was just someone they knew from the many... many... times he'd been a patron there.

I actually found myself a bit jealous. I liked the idea of having "that place" that you can go to where people do know you; as they sing in the Cheers theme, "sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name." I wanted to have that exhilaration of being in this place and having people welcome you by name, have the employees being nice to you not just because you are a potential tip but because they know you and legitimately give a damn. I don't want to go so far as having everyone shout "Kevin!" when I enter, although that might still feel kinda cool every so often.

How can I achieve this kind of recognition and localized fame on a reduced budget?

Waitress Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Yesterday, Katie and I watched the first movie in a long time that we both enjoyed in all regards. The film was Waitress starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.

Basically, it's the story of a small-town waitress and pie maven named Jenna (Russell) who is in an abusive relationship and longs to escape. Her plans to just leave her husband are thwarted when she finds out she is pregnant. However, as a result, she meets and falls in love with her doctor (Fillion) with whom she begins an affair.

Yes, it's about adultery, but it's an incredibly endearing movie that has outstanding acting by everyone involved. Plus the writing and directing by co-star Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered near the end of production of the film, was fantastic.

And if you need another reason to see this film, how about Andy Griffith turning in one of the funniest performances of his long and storied career? I don't think I've ever laughed as hard watching him.

Yeah, this one is high up on my "best of" list for 2007.

Plug me in...

Do you think God is conspiring with credit agencies?

I ask this because Katie took in the final payment for the carpet we bought last year to Home Despot (intentional) on Monday. Yesterday morning, I go to melt some cheese on an English muffin in our microwave and it goes bonkers.

I simply put the muffin in the oven for 15 seconds and walked away for a moment to do something. Suddenly I realized that it had been longer than 15 seconds and the microwave was still running. I look over and the display shows a solid zero.

Ho boy.

I run over and hit the cancel button. Nothing.

I open the door to trip the auto shutoff. It keeps cooking with the door open.

I run out to the breaker box and find one labeled "kitchen" and flip it. Still cookin'.

I find a second breaker labeled "kitchen stove" and kill it. I can still hear the hum of the microwave.

Finally I run back inside and climb up to the upper cabinet above where the microwave is mounted, pull out several bottles of liquor (it is our liquor cabinet, after all), and rip out the power cable. It finally shuts off.

I plugged the microwave back in and try to hit some buttons and none of them do anything.

When I checked on the muffin, the remaining layer of cheese had cooked paper thin and was hard as rock candy.

Great. Dead microwave. Just what we need.

Wait, I think we got it working... for now. We'll see.

I guess if there's anything I'm thankful for today, it's that we're not cooking dinner for tonight. Heh.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, it's a slightly related aside, but I don't feel like starting a whole new category here. Best to stick with what we know, right?

For the first time in a long time, I'm participating in one of these special blogger holidays. I know it may be a day late, but certainly not a dollar short (I hope). Okay, maybe it's two days late. But it works well as today is Thanksgiving so I'm sure I'll be forgiven, right?

It's Neil's Thank Your First Commenter Day! And I need to thank my first commenter who, if I recall correctly, is none other than Dave2 who commented on a post dated June 23, 2005. I also feel I must give credit to SJ who commented on a post dated June 17, 2005. Of course the comment came in on June 23 at 9:09 p.m. while Dave's came in at 11:19 a.m. But I'm not splitting hairs here. Both are just as important to my blogging evolution.

They are important because both found me and commented soon after my conversion from static HTML to blogware and that interaction is what has made me stick with blogging for a couple years now. I love the interaction that we have both here and on everyone else's blog.

So thank you, Dave and SJ! And everyone else knows who to blame! Heh.

Every one of you is fired...

One of the things I find most fascinating about going on my early morning walks is discovering just how hyperactive my brain can be when it's put to work that early in the morning. It begins firing random memories out like a machine gun and I have no choice but to think about them seeing as how I'm kinda all by my lonesome.

Take, for example, this morning. I have spoken in the past about how I went with some friends to see U2 play in New Orleans, right? We drove down from Chicago to the Crescent City and stayed just outside of town and spent several days in the city hanging around places like the French Quarter and whatnot.

But did I tell you how this event turned into one of the toughest things I've ever had to do in my life?

One of the people that went with me was one of my employees at the job I held at the time. I'm not going into details for obvious reasons, suffice it to say that when I got back, I was told I had to let him go.

It's one thing to fire somebody. That's pretty tough on its own. But to reconcile that with the fact that you had just been on a trip with this person. That was downright painful. And, as would be expected, he wasn't too happy with the fact either. I can't say I blame him for being upset. You get tickets for you and a bunch of friends to see a band play and then invite someone to go who winds up firing you after the fact. Yeah, the tickets were his.

It's still one of those things I beat myself up over even all these years later.

Why does life put you through these hurdles? Does something like firing ever get easier? Do you even want it to be easier? Geez, what kind of heartless prick would you have to be to actually enjoy firing people?

There's gonna be trouble, so don't you be around...

Yesterday, for whatever reason, my officemate was asking me if I was the older or the younger brother in my family. Older, why? Oh, she said, I can see you being cruel to your brother.

Really? Funny thing is that I really wasn't all that bad to him. Well, not in my mind, at least. And my perception is really the only one that counts, right?

Seriously, though. I wasn't too terrible to him. In fact, unlike most siblings, we actually got along pretty well. We played together, we explored construction sites, we watched movies, we went for bikes rides, etc. In fact, in school in Connecticut, I was my brother's numero uno defender against the plethora of bullies that he had. As I even mentioned in my best man's toast at his wedding, I even taught him to swear. All the things that a good brother should do.

But, hindsight being 20/20 and all that jazz, I feel I gypped myself out of an adolescence full of physical and mental abuse. Why did I have to be such a good guy? This really sucks. I want to go back and reclaim my right to youthful aggression and beat the living snot out of my brother.

And, by my calculations, I should be entitled to do this until the year 2021. That gives me 14 years of sheer sibling torture. I figure 14 because he's four years younger than me and the abuse would've likely ended when I left for college at age 18.

Does that sound fair? Should I be able to reclaim this right?

Yeah, I didn't think it would fly. So please allow me to live vicariously through your stories... I'm sure some of you were either sibling abusers or abusees. Maybe you still are. Gimme your worst. Please? I need this. Check that, my brother needs this or I'm making my move.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I can't believe I never mentioned this a few weeks ago when we first found out. I was reminded by a letter sitting on our kitchen counter this morning... Katie was accepted into grad school! She starts in January! Soon she will be corrupting the youth of America as one of public education's finest! Muahahahahahaha! ha.

I wish I was a full moon shining off a Camaro's hood...

Shortly after Katie and I got married and before we joined our gym, I would go for morning run/walks in the neighborhood around our apartment. I would get up very early, while it was still pitch black out, throw on some insanely thick layers of clothing since it was November and December, and head out into my own personal Frigidaire.

In the years since we joined the gym and since I gave up my pre-dawn treks into the nether, I have forgotten just how much I actually enjoyed those workouts.

The world is a different place when there are few to no people around. A handful of cars, at most, on the streets. The only lighting being the stars, moon, and street lamps. It is serenity defined. And it tends to make you forget that you are actually exerting yourself physically because, believe it or not, there is so much to see and hear in the virtual void.

This morning, I saw Orion in the skies for the first time this year. To me, the famed astral hunter is the easiest constellation to find. I look forward to seeing it. It reassures me that all is well in the world.

I also saw a crescent moon. But for the first time in a long time, I was able to see the rest of the moon in shadows around it, filling out the orb. It was quite magnificent.

Passing by a tree, I startled a bunch of bats that took off to darker locales before the sun arose in its full glory. Yes, they were actually bats. I have enough experience with them to know.

Lastly, I saw the sun rise. I can't remember the last time I actually watched the sky awaken from black and begin to reflect the entirety of the sun's spectrum back at me. Blues, oranges, reds, yellows... all there.

All this in a single walk. My third morning workout since my announcement last Friday. Three out of four ain't too bad.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The depths to which Dustin will plunge for his dream job. Aye aye aye.

Because I'm fat, I'm fat, you know it...

I've come to a Sad Realization.

I'm fat.

Okay, this is not a groundshattering revelation. It's the truth and I've known it for some time. And, lately, I've been doing little to nothing to resolve my situation. Putting on a pair of my favorite jeans this morning and realizing that they were a bit tighter than I'd like is what kicked this topic off the backburner and into the forefront of my mind. Not that my health is terrible yet; but better to head the problem off at the pass, as it were.

Sadly, I've also noticed that with my job and the work around the house and other stuff that I'm doing -- not to mention my desire to still maintain some semblance of a relationship with my wife in the little free time we both have -- the only time I have to work out on a regular basis is in the morning.

And for those of you keeping score, the morning is when I do most of my blogging.

Enter Sad Realization #2... in order to make the most of my morning by getting in some kind of workout, I need to scale back on my blogging addiction.

NO! Before you ask, I am not giving up on blogging. I'm not going on a temporary nor a permanent vacation. I just need to deliver notice that my presence here in the Greater Blogger Kingdom will be slightly diminished. I'm not sure what kind of posting schedule I will be able to maintain as I feel I need to focus on my health right now.

I'm hoping for this irregular posting schedule to help in another way as well... as you can tell by the substance of my posts, my inspiration is pretty much shot and has been for some time. So maybe by not forcing myself to blog every weekday, the quality will return to my posts and I can rediscover the voice that has been lost for so long.

So this is me telling all of you to make sure your RSS aggregators are properly subscribed to this site. I'm going to try to blog as regularly as I can, but I make no guarantees.

Don't hate me. Once I get everything under control, I hope to return in full force. And with good stuff. I hope so anyway. Please wish me luck.

Heh, I never thought of it this way until just now, but I guess this is also my way of thumbing my nose at NaBloPoMo. Instead of forcing myself to blog more, I'm forcing myself to blog less.

NaBloPoMo... what a stupid concept.

The sidewinder sleeps tonight...

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

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

Not so great a plan.

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

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

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

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

Every move you make...

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

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

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

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

I know you, you know me...

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

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

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

Well, it has happened again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RBJ: Everything tastes better in waffle form...

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it makes me smile...

Howsabout some snippets?

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

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

It's the first season of Jericho.

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

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

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

Target acquired

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

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

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

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

Please bury me with it...

Forgive me father, for I have sinned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'll probably be haunted by this a while.

Cristal on ice...

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

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

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

How do I make it slow down?

And don't say "decaf."

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

So, yeah, I enjoyed it.

Do the evolution...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Come crumblin', tumblin'...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanna be your superhero...

What triggers a person to have a specific dream?

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

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

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

Both of these make sense, right?

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

Explain that one, will ya?

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

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

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

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


Flesh and blood...

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

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

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

Katie: Yup.

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

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

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

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

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

I smoke two joints at night...

Is it possible that Bernard has taken up smoking?

You know how after you've gone to a particularly smoky bar and you take a shower, you can kinda feel and even smell the bar washing off your body? It's almost like peeling a layer of your skin off and starting new. A bit like if our bodies were pads of Post-It Notes... no matter how grungy the top layer becomes, you can always peel it off and get a fresh one below.

Well, my shower this morning felt that way. I felt really grungy and could feel all of it washing off me this morning. But the weird thing is that I smelled cigarette smoke. It was just like how it would smell if I had been at a bar the night before. Since I don't smoke, I couldn't taste it in my mouth or anything, but the smell had somehow ingrained itself secondhand in my skin. And here it was washing down the drain.

The only catch is that I haven't been around any smokers. And I've never even taken a drag off a cigarette in my life.

I exercised at the gym at work at 5 last night, showered, said good night to the security guard, and headed home. I knew Katie was at our normal gym and, since I hadn't heard from her, I thought I'd stop by and see if she was there. Turns out our gym was offering free massages that day so Katie and I both got one. Then we went home.

So, aside from the security guard, the masseuse, Katie, and a couple random people at the gym, I had no human contact since my shower yesterday evening. And yet I still smelled cigarette smoke in the shower this morning. Nowhere else, just the shower.

Bernie m'man, I think we need to lay down some house rules.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): One of my old grad school professors also serves as the Editor in Chief of an academic journal all about popular music and its impact on society. I was checking out the Web site for the journal and noticed that they have a call for papers regarding the topic of "music as torture."

I immediately dropped what I was doing and e-mailed him. "So it's going to be an issue dedicated to Shania Twain?"

I just couldn't help myself.

And the Shania fans take up arms alongside the Green Day fans.

Let's talk about sex, baby...

A couple sex-related questions I'd like to throw out there for ya today.

You are a married person in your real life. Now, supposing time travel were possible and you went back in time and visited an earlier period of your life before you were with your current spouse. Not much has changed about how you looked between both periods of time that can't be chalked off to "being tired," meaning that if you ran into people you know in this time period you traveled to, they wouldn't think you looked all that different. You now run into an ex love of yours. To this person at this time, you are still together and this person wants to have sex. Is it cheating to have sex with this person that you were, at that point in time, in a monogamous relationship with and that you'll likely not see again after this visit?

Second question, what is worse for a relationship, having an open marriage in which you share yourself both sexually and emotionally with another person other than your spouse or having single-serving sex with another person? Assume, in both cases, that your spouse knows and consents and that transmission of diseases is not a concern.

No, Katie and I are not at some strange crossroads in our marriage. Both are inspired by television viewing last night. We got around to watching the series premiere of Journeyman on NBC, which, while a bit awkward, shows promise and strikes me as a much more somber and modernized Quantum Leap. God I loved Leap.

The second was inspired by yesterday's Oprah. Sorry Hilly, I know you're disappointed. But when you're flipping through channels after the news is done and all of a sudden the program guide shows that Oprah is talking about open marriages, you become morbidly curious. And watching her squirm very uncomfortably was more than worth it. The couple that we watched being interviewed talked about how the woman had too much love in her heart for just a single relationship. How strange is that?

I took a Louisville Slugger to both headlights...

Just as a warning, you might see my name in the news sometime soon as I'm considering proposing new legislation within the State of Illinois. Should this legislation pass, and I don't see why it wouldn't, I'm sure it will catch on like wildfire in the other 49 states and several of our protectorates and even up into Canadian provinces as well.

The legislation?

I want to allow pedestrians in areas of high motor traffic to arm themselves with baseball bats. No, not guns or any projectile-based or even bladed armaments. Just a good ol' Louisville Slugger that can be used to beat the ever-loving crap out of the cars of idiot drivers.

Yeah, you all remember my stop-sign rant, right? Well, KIDS (the Kapgar Idiot Driving School, as I'm now calling it) is back in session with a second lesson, this time on proper use of turn signals.

Mr. Driver, I know you may feel like if there are no other cars waiting at an intersection that you are exempt from some of the basic rules of the road. But I, and the Illinois Rules of the Road, tend to think otherwise in this matter. In Chapter 3 in the subsection titled "Signaling and Turning," the guidelines for both left turns and right turns state, "Yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and vehicles in the intersection."

Do you know what this means? If I, as a pedestrian (read: "person walking on his own two feet who is much more susceptible to injury at the bumper of an oncoming car"), am in the intersection, I am allowed by law to continue through the intersection unimpeded and, thus, you cannot turn especially in instances where YOU FORGET TO USE YOUR TURN SIGNAL THUS MAKING ME ASSUME YOU ARE GOING STRAIGHT only to have you turn into me and then scowl at me as though I'M IN THE WRONG.

The only thing I'm wrong about is that I made an assumption. I should know, never assume where drivers are concerned because all of them are idiots. I'm sure even I am to some degree when I'm behind the wheel of a car. But, in a court of law, this new legislation will prove I am right and I will be exonerated and I won't owe you one red cent in damages after I pull out my state-supported, special edition Louisville Slugger: Driver Behavior Modification model and pound in your headlights, front grill (they're all plastic these days anyway), hood, and windshield.


Oh yeah, we pedestrians shall have our revenge!

Hey Dave, can KIDS employ you to develop a Dumbasses edition cover for our Guide to Driving?

P.S. I would like to thank Carrie Underwood for writing the perfect lyrics to accompany this post. Damn, girl. It doesn't get much better than that. I know you claim this song is about some cheating ex-boyfriend, but we all know you're really just a frustrated pedestrian using relationships to cover your desire to club the tar out of vehicles owned by idiot drivers. Admit it. We'll still love your music. Don't worry.

What would Jay-Z do...

Well, the majority, or so it seemed, voted for 3:10 to Yuma with Shoot 'em Up in a close second. So my dad and I went to see the winner.

It was good, no question. It was very well acted and the cinematography was great. Of course, like you might expect of a western, it had a pretty slow build and some moments of boredom. But I've always found this to be a good thing in westerns as it helps convey the mood of life during that era in that part of the world. Would I recommend it? Sure. Enjoy it.

But movies like this always get me thinking... if I was alive during this era and this film was actually depicting life during that time accurately, who would I have been? What I mean is, knowing what I know about myself, what role would I be living out?

Of course, there are two sides to this coin. The first being what role I would like to see myself in, the romanticized vision of how I would like to see my life. Then, on the other side, there's the reality of who I think I legitimately would have been.

Take 3:10 to Yuma. Would I have been the destitute rancher trying desperately to make ends meet who takes on the epic challenge to earn money and, ideally, respect from his family like Dan Evans (Christian Bale)? Or am I the bad ass criminal mastermind who would just as soon shoot his fellow human being than talk to it like Ben Wade (Russell Crowe)?

There are several other characters that warrant consideration in this question as well... bounty hunter and loner Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), the willing but not necessarily well suited to the task Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk), Wade's loyal second in charge Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), and many others.

I'm not sure which character I idealize myself as being. Each has his promises and flaws. But, in reality, I'm likely either Dan Evans or Doc Potter. Both are kinda in the wrong place at the right time to make good on their lives and turn it into something memorable even if they shouldn't be doing so.

Another movie that makes me think like this is Brian DePalma's classic The Untouchables. Would I be the lawman (Kevin Costner), the criminal mastermind (Robert DeNiro), the unwilling hero (Charles Martin Smith), the aging cop itching to make a difference regardless of the steps taken (Sean Connery), the gunslinger (Andy Garcia), the second in command (Billy Drago), or just some sideliner? While this may sound rather similar to the options in 3:10 to Yuma, you must consider the setting difference and question whether that would have an effect on your decision. In one, you are in the very lawless rural west where anything goes and you have few options regarding how to make a living. In the other, while it's equally lawless, you have options for employment that could keep you on the straight and narrow.

Oh so many questions.

I may just be overthinking the moviegoing experience.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Woo hoo! Tonight is dinner with some bloggers! A triple date with diane and her man, Evan, as well as Kim and her new hubby, Stephen. I do feel bad for Katie, Stephen, and Evan, though, as none of them are bloggers. But at least they can sit there are all roll their eyes at us together. Heh.

Go round and round...

This is a quick snippet post because I'm running late for my final day at a conference and traffic has been horrible!

Oh. My. God. The monster has been reawakened! Katie picked up a few quart-sized Dean's Chocolate Milk Chugs the other day because they were on sale and sounded good.

Damn right they're good! We haven't had chocolate milk in the house in months. Actually, on second thought, it might have been a bit more than a year. Yeah, we had Hershey's Chocolate Syrup here at one point, but it's never the same for me. I can never get the ratio of milk to chocolate syrup just right and I wind up sitting there in a pouring, squeezing, stirring, tasting, lather, rinse, repeat cycle for what seems like an eternity. I'd rather just twist, pour, melt. So much easier.

It took one hour and fifteen minutes to convince me that I never will own a Volvo.

Last night, Katie and I watched a repeat of the E! True Hollywood Story on The View (I don't watch The View at all, but the controversy that's been going on lately has made me laugh hysterically) and they played a Volvo commercial featuring a derivation of the song "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" literally a dozen times. In most cases, you heard the God-forsaken song twice in a single commercial break.

Ever heard of "overkill"? Well, you just reached it with me.

And, yes, Katie has been relishing the opportunity to further implant the earworm in my head.

With the Primetime Emmy's having happened this past weekend, the major coverage on most entertainment networks like E! and shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight has been about the show and what happened before and after, specifically the Red Carpet Coverage.

I think the opportunity to be on the red carpet is the only reason I'd want to be a celebrity. I want some reporter from E! to come up to me and ask whose clothing I'm wearing as I strut my way to the show. Then I'd turn to the reporter and say, "Men's Wearhouse!"

How weird is it that I desperately want to do that?

Oh, and if anyone from here on out actually does say that, I'd damn well better get the credit for it!

Darkness imprisoning me...

Just some snippets today...

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Mother Nature shifts her tune for the seasons. It was pretty warm to hot last week and dropped massively in a matter of 24 hours to the point where I had to find my sweatshirts again this weekend. It did warm back up a little bit yesterday, but dang.

Also, it seems like yesterday that I was complaining about how much brighter it was in the morning. Now it's pitch black again in the morning. No warning whatsoever.

I was stumbling around in the dark this morning trying to remember where everything was so I wouldn't wake Katie up while trying to make my way downstairs to type this. I jammed my foot a couple times. It's weird how much we come to rely on a single sense and then to see -- or in my case, feel -- how tripped up we are when that sense is taken away.

I find it funny that the legal system failed so miserably at convicting O.J. Simpson in the murder of his wife and now here he is busted in Vegas and "booked on suspicion of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and burglary" (much easier to just quote the article).

I like to think that this will stick. It is Vegas, after all, and if Ocean's Eleven taught us anything, it's that casino owners will go to hell and back to screw over those that try to screw them over.

Being a Chicagoan, I, of course, liken this to how Eliot Ness finally managed to bring Al Capone to justice. Not on any of the charges you might expect, but on income tax evasion (I almost typed "invasion"; how would one manage "income tax invasion"?). We can't get O.J. on murder, but we get him for all this Vegas tripe.

Well, whatever it takes to get his worthless ass rotting behind bars, I suppose.

Hilly started a fun little DVR survey on Snackie Teevee. Go check it out!

Thank you, driver, for getting me here...

I like days off. They're nice. And especially when the weather cooperates as nicely as it appears to be doing so far today.

But, I think what I really like is having an extra day in which I don't have to deal with the commute to work. I love my job, but I hate the drive and it's only gotten worse in the last couple months.

So I decided to try a new route to work. However, I forgot that I was driving during the height of school bus pick-up period and I got stuck behind the one bus driver that decided to take full advantage of her traffic-stopping capabilities.

I stopped behind a bus as kids were moving to their seats. I was happier than I normally am, because usually I have to deal with parents kissing their kids and fussing over them and, thus, making the task of allowing the bus to leave that much longer. At least all the kids were on board and moving to their seats.

Then I saw an adult woman standing in the aisle between the seats. What the?? A parent on the bus? Nope, it was the bus driver making sure all the kids were seated. No biggie. However, her next step was to spend a couple minutes opening the roof vent of the bus. How long can that possibly take?

When she finally finished this arduous task, she opted, instead of getting her butt moving, to play a game of musical seats with the students. Based on the expression on her face and the harried way in which she tried to get them up, I can tell she just didn't like the arrangement and didn't trust having some students sitting with their friends. So, for the next couple, she moved kids around.

You would think that I would've u-turned and gone the other way by now. But I reasoned that I would have to backtrack so much that it just wasn't worth it.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she moved the bus and turned the corner and I got around her...

And to the end of the street...

To find it blocked off by construction barriers...

And I had to backtrack anyway.

Yay me!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Funny, I've been thinking the exact same thing lately.

Somebody put me together...

Party On 4Yesterday, Nano (my grandmother for those of you who don't know; that's her with your clambaked host a couple years ago) got into town. She's on a month-long driving tour to see family members and she started by leaving her home in Florida and heading to my Uncle's house outside Louisville. We were next on the roster and, after us, she's off to Pittsburgh and then Danville, PA, where she will be visiting more relatives. Then she'll take one of those trains that will actually tow her car and head back home.

Did I mention she's turning 82?

That's an insane amount of driving, period, end of quote. Even at 32, there's no way in hell I would want to drive it. I get sleepy just on my 45 minute commute to and from work each day. How could I ever expect to survive that kind of insanity? There's not enough Jolt in the world.

But that's not my grandma. She's got the energy level of a little kid, although she might argue that fact right now. She's more involved in life now than ever before and I admire her for it.

So I stopped by my parents' house last night after work to say hi and pick up some things including the 16-place China set that Nano brought up from Florida for Katie and I. It's beautiful China and we really wanted it. The only difficulty was finding a home for it all. Somehow we managed to. Katie lost out on her one and only junk drawer in the process, though.

It's painful to lose a junk drawer. I think everyone needs those. Just a one-stop shop to hold all the crap that collects day after day and really has no place in your house otherwise. And this drawer was the definition of a junk drawer. I wouldn't quite say it contained "everything you can possibly imagine" because there were things in there that my mind could never have fathomed.

However, since we got on a cleaning kick, it continued into the night. By the time we were done, we had a nearly emptied credenza and our filing system was redone with me having shredded a few hundred sheets of paper.

There's something about shredding old files that feels equal parts cathartic and illicit.

It feels great to take an old bill in whole form and watch it come out the bottom in nothing but pieces. It's like saying goodbye and giving the middle finger to the company that forced you to send them your hard-earned money. God it feels great.

But, on the flip side of the coin, I almost feel like an administrative assistant at Enron or Arthur Andersen in the final days before the bust. Sitting there hour after hour doing nothing but shredding documents to keep the authorities from discovering your dirty little secrets.

Wow, it really is strange to watch how my mind flows when I just type with no idea of where I will find my mental finish line. I start with my grandmother and end up with Enron. Weird.

Baby don't hurt me...

Normally, I'd think that a person's license plate is private. In some cases, where it might be damning, I'd block it out of a picture or eliminate references to it in a post. But, clearly, this guy is advertising himself, not in a good way, and, therefore, I feel justified in telling you this story... complete with license plate.

Katie and I were driving to meet my bro and SiL yesterday and we came upon a Pontiac Solstice with the license plate SCOT ROX on the back. It was a convertible with the top down and a scripted "Solstice" insignia emblazoned on the plexi shield between the driver and passenger seats to hammer the point home in case we didn't pay attention to the name of the car the first time.

As soon as I saw the license plate, I knew this guy was going to be a tool. Even without seeing him I felt I could make this judgment call. It's like how we all knew Chris' (Elisabeth Shue's) boyfriend in Adventures in Babysitting was a prick just by hearing Darryl relate how his (Bradley Whitford of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, btw) license plate read "SO COOL." It was just one of those things you could tell without further evidence.

Thankfully, we were right. We pulled up alongside him and saw the guy with his wavy hair that never budged a millimeter despite being in a convertible and his big, dark sunglasses behind which I'm sure he would check out women that pulled up next to him. And he was bopping his head around almost imperceptibly to music unheard.

RoxburyKatie and I started cracking up.

Then we pulled to a stop beside him and heard the music. It was horrible, mid-90s, club music. Just really bad shit. All Katie and I could do was bust out in a perfectly sync'd up medley of "Nnnnh-chuh-nnnnh-chuh" and "woah-o-o-oah-oah-ah" and bop our heads like Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury. Score!

It was just sad.

Dude, the 90s called... they want their hair and music back.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): As would be expected, Katie started feeling ill this weekend as well. So we tried to lay low as much as possible. And what did we do? We purchased, started, and finished the season three DVD set of The Office. God we can't wait for the next season to start. Bring it on!

Back from the dead...

Maybe it's just me, but when I'm sick, as I still am this morning, I tend to try to imagine ways of making myself feel better. Aside from the obvious "get better, you idiot" which always seems to elude me, that is.

Sadly, the best way I've found of making myself feel better is by imagining those around me being in worse condition.

If I'm coughing to the point of getting headaches, I want to see someone else pass a lung.

If I'm going to sneeze and give myself a mild case of whiplash a la Sammy Sosa, I want someone else's head to roll off their neck.

Pleasant visuals such as those. I think you get the point.

The question is how to make this a viable reality. I know a bunch of you, my fellow bloggers out there, are pretty sick as well. Or so the comments on yesterday's post would indicate as would some of your own blog posts. So let's all play a little game to make ourselves feel better. I like to call this The Game of Infection! (tm)

Simply come up with the most creative way of infecting the greatest number of people around you as possible. Put them in the comments and we can all pick which one we like best.


Ohmigod, what the hell am I talking about?

Must be the medicine head, sorry.

For anyone working in the law enforcement or disease control fields, this is a joke, not a real challenge. Should any of these actually be enacted, it's not my fault. Really, it's not. I'm only sick in the sense of having an allergy-related cold; not mentally twisted.

Anyway, got some better stuff in the continuation in the form of a meme. Been a while, hasn't it?

Continue reading "Back from the dead..." »

Dance, dance...

Yep, second night in a row with an early mental wake-up call. I didn't even bother trying to fall back asleep this time as I knew it would be futile. Instead, I sat there and immersed myself in thought. Whatever haphazard, random, completely out of leftfield thought popped in my head.

And, clearly, I have one messed-up head.

I tried to think about music I wanted to get from the library, figure out what I should put next on my Netflix queue (never mind the fact that I suddenly remembered I still needed to throw my last two movies in the mail), what projects I still have to do for work and how I'm going to go about doing them.

Nothing too weird about those, right?

Well, then I suddenly remembered something that was on Nightline just before we clicked off the TV and lights and went to bed. It was a report on the health benefits of pole dancing. Yes, like stripper pole dancing. So my head starts going into a whirlwind of thought about the wonder that is pole dancing.

But was I thinking about Katie pole dancing for me? No. Female strippers wrapping their legs around it and going to town? Nuh-uh.

(Sorry Dariush, you're gonna need bleach and scouring pads for your mind's eye again.)

My twisted freakfest of a head starts contemplating whether or not I would be capable of pole dancing. Could I do moves like that? Why did the Nightline report not show any men doing it? Would I be the first? Would I be a trendsetter? Or would I bring the house down... literally?

Ohmigod, I think I just disgusted myself. It takes a lot of work to accomplish that.

Would someone please loan me a sledgehammer? I need to ensure I stay asleep tonight.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I got my second postcard from *lynne*. Well, technically, this is the first one as it was sent three days before the one I received last week (TUA at the bottom of this post). This one features two views of the skyline in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Absolutely gorgeous. Thanks again, *lynne*!

I'll be watching you...

The mere fact that bookstores these days have lounges, cafes, and/or big comfy chairs is meant to convey the idea that they want you to take a load off and spend some time in their stores, right?

It's also probably bad form, unless you have a receipt with you, to take a book in there with you to keep you busy in those big comfy chairs that you bought at another store, right?

And, since they have a ton of books and magazines lying around, for lack of a better way to word it, the implication is that you can read what they have available, right?

So why, as I sat in Barnes & Noble the other day during my lunch break, continuing to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from one of their copies because I was too lazy to carry my own copy all the way over there, did I feel like I was being watched and judged the entire friggin' time? Either by people walking by that struck me as employees even if they didn't have on name tags or by the security team that I'm certain were watching the monitors attached to the closed-circuit video monitoring system, the cameras of which I could not locate, but that doesn't mean they weren't there, somewhere.

I own the book. I really do. It just wasn't with me and, well, you had soooo many copies available and such comfy seats and the air conditioning felt soooo good on such a hot, Chicago August day. I just couldn't help myself.

I'm not a bad person, right? Well, not for this reason anyway.

No more tears...

About two months ago, Katie started re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book five). Her reasoning was that it had been four years since she read it and she wanted to know what was going on before we saw the movie together this summer.

Her plan expanded as she decided to re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book six). The plan this time was to refresh her memory on what happened just before book seven so she'd be set and ready to go when the final book came out.

Class got in the way and her reading of book five languished a bit by her standards. She was actually pretty upset with herself for taking so long. Heck, I even went ahead and grabbed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book seven) so I could start reading it thinking that I would be done by the time she got up to speed. Up to that point, she had always read the books first. By most accounts, I'm a faster reader than she is, no question. But when she really gets into something, she flies. This time, though, I had a feeling I would be able to pull this off; to finish book seven before she caught up and, that way, I'd be able to talk with her about it as she progressed through chapters.

In the end, it was my plan that backfired.

Katie finished her class and tore through the remainder of book five... and book six... and then she grabbed the copy of book seven, sitting on the floor next to my nightstand, yet another victim in a line of about six books that had stacked up over the last few months that I had started reading but had no motivation to finish.

Two days later -- yesterday, in fact -- she finished it. She had the day off work to make up for working this past Saturday and she used it to finish the book.

And she was a wreck during the final 200 pages. She called me a few times at work to give me updates.

"I've got 200 pages left and I can't believe who just died! I can't tell you who, but it's bad!"

"Only 100 pages left and I can't put it down. Someone else died."

"I just finished. It's so sad. But so good! You have to finish this book so we can talk about it."

Her sadness spilled over into just about everything else yesterday as well. It was quite cute, but I never knew a single human being contained so many tears. I realize we, as humans, are 70% water, but after yesterday, I expected Katie would have shriveled up.

She cried as she read the book. She cried when she finished the book. She cried thinking about finishing the book. She cried on the phone to me. She cried as she described her crying to me. She cried when she announced that she wanted to read it again. She cried during reruns of Friends on TBS and claimed it was due to the level of emotion she was feeling from reading the book.

I love you, hon, but please stop crying.

And I guarantee she'll cry as she reads this post later this morning or tonight. Guarantee it.

I only worry that I won't like the book as much. That I will have been desensitized by her over-emotion and it won't have nearly the effect on me. We shall see. I did grab the book again last night and picked up where I left off. I'm now on about page 380 of 760 or so.

Wish me luck. Me, the suddenly slow reader.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): *lynne* over at Life After Work is running a promotion of sorts. She's currently on trips to Malaysia and Switzerland and offered to send postcards to those who signed up. Well, I signed up and my postcard from Switzerland arrived yesterday. It's a beautiful photo of the Alps and a stream flowing in the foreground. It's just cool to get this sort of stuff from overseas. So thank you, *lynne*! And I included the asterisks. Aren't you proud of me?

Freakshow, baby baby, on the dance floor...

When several bloggers get together to party, what else can you call it besides a "freakshow"?

First, I need to apologize. Here I was working hard to get my Palm Pilot up to snuff to post photos semi-live from Davecago 2: The Return, only to not be able to find a reliable, unprotected wifi network where we were. Sorry about that. I checked. It just wasn't happening. Guess I shouldn't have teased, huh?

Suffice it to say, it was a complete blast. We had 13 people in attendance and loved every minute of it. Here is the cast of characters...

The day started with me meeting up with Dave and heading to the Hard Rock Cafe and then the Lego Store. The two of us then headed up to the Apple Store (are you really shocked that the Apple Store and the Lego Store were included when it's Dave and me involved?) where we met up with Gary.

We made pit stops at the hotels where Gary and Dave were staying before heading over to Pizano's on Madison where we tried in vain to hit a Graham Cracker's Comics that had closed a half hour before then went to an "L" station to take some bird's eye photos of Madison Street. Then we grabbed some drinks at the bar in Pizano's.

Jenny was the next to arrive followed by Ajooja, Kim & Steven, Diane & Evan, Ariana, and Robin. At about this time, we were seated at our pseudo banquet table. RW & Lynne were the last to arrive.

Somehow, we all chowed through four pizzas without much trouble, and that was only 11 of us, since RW and Lynne ordered pasta meals.

After determining that we couldn't hear each other all that well, we ventured out to a bar. After trekking nearly a mile, we hit a bar whose outside seating was, get this, closed! What the heck? We couldn't find enough good room inside the place that wasn't right next to where a band was setting up, so we trekked out yet again to a bar inside the Congress Hotel. This was shockingly quiet for a bar, so we sat, drank, and talked. Unfortunately, I had to leave to make my train (the problem with taking trains on weekends is that they run on a two-hour-between schedule... if I miss it, I'm screwed).

But, all in all, it was a fun day with a lot of great people.

I have some photos over on Flickr, but I just had to share my fave of the bunch of one of the cutest couples around, Steven and Kim. Total geek love on this one as he's a Trekkie and she's clearly a more highly evolved human since she's a Star Wars fan.

Steven and Kim

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I have to apologize again as I bailed on Brandon's live fantasy football draft yesterday. I decided to declare it a Katie Day and she and I did a bunch of cool stuff starting with going to our alma, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, where we stocked up on new NIU swag for the NIU/Iowa football game this coming Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago. We also went out to lunch, saw a movie (Superbad), and cooked a fantastic dinner of steak and rice with peas and a bottle of wine to top it all off.

For those wondering, Superbad wasn't great, but it was fun. As someone I read said, anything with McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the two cops (Bill Hader and Seth Rogen) was gold! The other stuff was okay. Some was fun to watch while some got to be a bit too much, but we still enjoyed it overall.

And the dinner... oh, the dinner! Fan-friggin'-tastic! A great way to top off a great day.