Me & Mine 2008

'Til one by one they were gone...

I find it funny how Katie and I go out to dinner last night to enjoy each other's company and what do we spend the time doing?

Talking? No.

Sharing details about our day? No.

Staring longingly in each other's eyes? Well, that's half right.

The entire meal, we were fixated by a balloon that had floated over to our table. Enough helium had leaked out that it wasn't drifting toward the ceiling, but enough was left that it was still aloft in the air to some degree. It glided from one couple, who had spent some time transfixed by it as well, along the bench to us. Then it just moved around in circles by Katie. Sometimes it looked as though it was going to leave, only to decide we were worth more of its time and it would stick around. There were a few moments it almost seemed to respond to verbal coaxing from Katie. She offered it a French fry. It didn't accept. But she did name him "Ol' Blue."

Of course I snapped a few pictures with Katie's iPhone. Here area a couple of them...

Balloony friend

Balloony friend 2

Yeah, we brought it home. And it subsequently lost all floating power. It has now settled on the floor of our living room.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Slip slidin' away...

It's one of those mornings where I'm both upset and grateful. No, not because of the holiday season, but because of what did and could have happened this morning on my way to work.

If you read any local Chicago news this morning, officials are calling it one of the worst road icing events they've ever seen. Hundreds of accidents reported by 8 a.m. It's that bad.

On my route to work, I was trying to turn off one road to get to the highway in to work. I'd already hit a couple small ice patches by this time but recovered without a problem. I've owned my truck long enough to know how to get out of just about anything. We've got a bit of a symbiotic relationship going... we can feel each other (no, not in that way). However, when I hit this turn lane, I could tell the plows and salt trucks had done nothing at all. I lost complete control of my truck for the first time. The pedals did nothing. The steering wheel may as well not have even existed. I just slid. And I had only been driving about 10-15 MPH into that lane.

I kept sliding. Right up to the car in front of me. At the last second, something shifted and made me drift into a giant snowbank on the side of the road.

While I was ticked that I lost control. I was entirely thankful that I not only didn't hit the car in front of me, nor the other car stuck in an extension of the snowbank, but also that the cars behind me were far enough away that they could avoid my lane and allowed me room to back out of the snow and onto the road.

No damage to the Beast whatsoever, though. Phew!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Katie got me a camera bag for my new Sony! And it's pretty awesome. It's a Tamrac shoulder sling bag. Perfect fit for the camera with my 35-70mm lens on it. Plus some compartments for cables and chargers and a pocket for extra memory cards and whatnot. Also, it's built for add-on components like a smaller pouch just for my telephoto lens, etc. I love it.

And I got another gift that is going to assist my photo and music loving immensely... a 500GB Apple Time Capsule. Sure, I could've requested just any external hard drive for our computers. But, considering we're probably buying Katie a MacBook very soon, having this Time Capsule available for her to use with Time Machine on it will be very nice. I also have an additional $100 in Apple Cash, which I'm debating using to upgrade the Time Capsule to the full 1TB jobber. I think I'd have to pay another $100 on top of all this. Good idea to plan for the future?


No time for losers...

Wow, it is getting truly wicked out now. Visibility from the window outside my office is maybe 1000 feet. Beyond that, all whiteness. It's almost like I'm coming close to living out my own Jose Saramago nightmare.

It's times like these that I feel I should have an overnight bag ready to go for work just in case I get stuck here. I can't imagine what it would be like to be stuck at work overnight due to weather that is unplanned. Sure, I've pulled overnight shifts, but they were known ahead of time and I was able to plan accordingly. But this? This is nuts. And I really don't want to be stuck. Not now. Two days until Christmas, for Christmas' sake!

Oh please may the roads be plowed before I have to leave.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Do I look?

Do I dare to actually look and see how it all played out? Oh hell, I guess I'd better...

Bracket  

Topthree


I WON! I WON! I never win fantasy sports! I've been known to play upwards of three leagues in a single sport at one time and never placed higher than second or third. In the three years I've played in Brandon's DOWN WITH PANTS league, I placed seventh and 11th... pitiful. This, though, is awesome!

Okay, enough tooting of my own horn. Now I get to go ball up in a corner and cry that the season is over and I have to wait another eight months for the next season to begin.

But, before I go, can someone please tell me what the hell RW's avatar is? Looks like a booger or Slimer from Ghostbusters. I know I've seen it before or maybe it just reminds me a bit of the smiley from the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.


Have a drink on me...

Well, this was supposed to be a week of 5Q posts, but I only received two sets of questions. No biggie, though. Just had to whip the mice in my brain-like contraption into some semblance of working order to juice a couple posts out of them.

Quick question for all of you, have you ever reconnected with someone with whom you lost touch only to feel significantly inferior to the success they've had. It can be any way by which you personally define "success" -- financial, spiritual, emotional, etc.

I just reconnected via Facebook with someone I was friends with years ago. In the short time we knew each other, we became pretty decent friends. But as many things go when you graduate high school and leave town, you lose touch. It happens. Shouldn't, but it does.

MartiniAnyway, he found me and we started talking. I asked what he's been doing with his life. He's got a degree in business that he followed up a couple years later with an MBA and works as an IT project team leader. That's cool. But what blew my mind was when he told me that he, a buddy, and a third partner bought a building and converted it into a martini bar. They own a second building as well that they rent to tenants.

 

Dude, a martini bar??? Rock on, Star Child! That sort of thing would be so much fun. I realize that bars are a big hassle and take up a lot of time and have a lot of overhead, liability, and whatnot. Believe you me, I've talked to enough current and former bar owners to know this. But it would still be pretty cool.

So, yeah, color me envious.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Only three of you so far? I say "music" and "free" and I only get interest from three people? Sure, it's not some big, elaborate, expensive prize. Hell, it's not even really a contest; just a giveaway. But it's free! My second favorite four-letter word beginning with "F."

You have until Monday.


I want money...

I was watching a little bit of the Oklahoma-Missouri football game (that's "American Football" to all you outside our borders, sorry), and I took issue with something that happened during halftime.

Dr. Pepper hosted a football throwing contest (the video is from an old contest for a bit more money). Two guys were pitted against each other in a not-so-to-the-death competition to lob footballs through a hole in the side of a giant Dr. Pepper can. The kid who got the most in the hole (heh heh) won the contest.

Fun? Sure. It would be cool to do this and have it aired on television. Then to have a bunch of college cheerleaders flank you when you won? Why the heck not.

However, Dr. Pepper took it more than just a bit further. The winner was granted a $100,000 college scholarship.

For throwing a football. Well, five of them to be exact in this particular contest, but still and all the same.

Katie and I have been taking out student loans to pay for grad school for her like so many other people in this world. With the ridiculously overinflated cost of college in this day and age, there are few that don't need help. And with the increasing numbers of people needing help to pay for college and the instability of modern U.S. financial institutions, there is less and less money available. 

So it just angers the hell out of me that some kid won a drawing, threw five footballs through a hole, and walks away with $100,000 when so many others are trying through legitimate methods to get much-needed money. Not to say these kids don't necessarily need the assistance as well, but why can't Dr. Pepper create a real scholarship fund with the money and make it available to everyone through proper application processes? Heck, that amount could even be split into two or three or more scholarships to help an even greater number of people. Sure it would fund less of the overall experience, but they'd be helping more people.

Right now, I look at this Dr. Pepper contest the same way I do Oprah giving cars to everyone in her audience or taking dozens of camera crews with her as she opens her school for girls in Africa... charity in exchange for popularity, ratings, exposure, etc. Not charity for the sake of charity. It's disgusting to me in so many ways.

Sorry, I should try to be a bit happier. We are in the holiday season overall. But I do feel good knowing I'm not the only one bothered by it.

So, in trying to keep the holiday spirit going (questionable if it's even truly started yet), I present you with a meme in the extended post.

Continue reading "I want money..." »


When you're all alone...

First off, I want to thank everyone here for all their birthday wishes. I was truly overwhelmed. To be honest, I wasn't sure if anyone would catch on to my image reference. Yep, that is Sweetness himself, Walter Payton, donning #34, the age I turned on Friday.

However, anyone who has friended me on Facebook needn't have bothered with the reference as they were reminded on their own and I received nearly 30 well wishes. After a couple years on Facebook, during which I've received only a couple birthday wishes, seeing approximately 30 this year just blew my mind. I guess I actually should start paying attention to the birthday list and returning these sentiments. So, anyone not on Facebook, please get on there. It's going to be my primary method of keeping track of your birthdays. Lord knows I won't remember on my own. Seriously... I won't. I'm bad like that. So I guess it's nice to have Facebook.

Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, I took some pictures of the Christmas decorations around our house. I would've taken more of the Christmas tree, but we have a bunch of unwrapped presents underneath and I don't want to reveal them. I'll get a new photo of that later on. Enjoy what I have otherwise in this pictobrowser (or over on Flickr)...

Did I forget to make note of the camera used to take these pictures? Yeah, it's my brand new Sony Alpha A350. Got it earlier today. I bought just the body of it, though, at the Sony outlet store. It's a refurbished camera and with nothing additional but the battery, covers, cords, manuals, etc., and with an additional 20% discount this weekend only, it came to $471. I did tack on a memory card and a four-year protection plan so it came out to a bit more total. But still. I love it. It's wonderful.

My rig

Thank you Katie!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I woke up this morning and took my shower then came into the bedroom to wake Katie up. She was buried under the covers. Up over her head, in fact. So I peeled back the covers from her head and said, in a sing-song manner, "Katieeeeeee."

She looked at me with the good ol' Katie stinkeye and said, "There is no Katie, only Zuul.

"Are you the Gate Keeper?"

My wife, the movie geek.


It's so cool, it's so hip, it's alright...

Payton34
'nuff said.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I like when certain Web sites dynamically change the proverbial little things each time you revisit them. For example, a Javascript-based image rotation or how Flickr welcomes you in a different language each time you log back in or reload the page. I like that sort of thing.

FeedBurner does the same sort of thing. It's a corny message about "your feed" and what it's capable of. And last night's message certainly spoke to the geek in me...

Tk421
Heh heh. Sorry, it's the little things in life for me.


What do you say...

I was at the gym last night and I ran into a an old coworker, let's call him Pat. Now Pat was one of those perpetually happy people. He always had a smile on his face, never had a bad word to say about anyone, very deeply religious. He's basically Kenneth the page from 30 Rock without the buffer of writers and a television screen. From what I've been told, pretty much his entire family is that way.

Disgusting, right? Anyway.

I had a conversation with him and we got on the topic of Thanksgiving.

Pat: So how was your Thanksgiving?

Me: Not bad. And yours?

Pat: Could've been better.

Hmmm... something questionable happened in Pat's household? I must push forth.

Me: "Could've been better"? What happened?

Pat: My brother relapsed.

Of course, me being the cynic, I automatically mentally assumed a drug addiction. Wow, his family had a chink in their sunny armor, a misstep in their happy dance, a black sheep.

Me: Relapsed? I never knew he lapsed.

Pat: I never told you about this?

Me: Nope.

Pat: My brother has bone cancer.

Oh hell.

Pat: Yeah, he's 14 years old and this is his fifth round of treatment.

Oh sweet Jesus, no.

Me: FOURTEEN???

How are you supposed to react to this? What do you say when a guy you know -- hell, I actually trained him at his job -- tells you that his 14-year-old brother has bone cancer and this guy seems to have given up all hope that the situation will ever permanently reverse itself?

Me: I'm sorry, Pat. I'm really sorry.

Me, the wannabe writer... and that's all I could come up with.


There is nothing left to say...

You would think after blogging only three times in the last week that I would have a helluva lot more to say.

You would think that with a holiday I would have a ton of time to jump online and write up some stuff.

The fact that neither of the above happened really worries me.

It's not as though nothing happened around here. Not as though we didn't do anything interesting. We did. But none of it really seemed blogworthy. Twitter worthy, sure. But not blogworthy. Let's quickly recap...

  • Hung out with family members many times
  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner (which we never wound up videotaping for a segment of Damn Fool Network like we had planned)
  • Cleaned our house entirely
  • Rearranged our living room twice
  • Set up a Christmas tree for the first time in two years
  • Had a couple snowfalls
  • Went out to dinner for my brother's birthday, my birthday, and my parents' anniversary all combined in one; this also constituted the first time Katie and I had ever had fondue as a meal
  • Went Christmas shopping finally (and got more than half of it done in a mere two hours)
  • Discovered that Target offered rainchecks on Black Friday prices (yay for Target!)
  • Bought a DS game for the first time in about a year (The New York Times Crosswords - interesting, I know)
  • Went to the gym again and started up our diet again, just in time for the holidays
  • Watched nearly all of the first two seasons of How I Met Your Mother on DVD
  • Grew a beard
  • Watched what is probably the worst holiday movie ever, Fred Claus, on DVD (Netflix should offer a free month of rentals to anyone willing to watch that laughless tripe)
  • Watched the Bears get their asses handed to them by the Vikes
  • Rearranged my Netflix queue and discovered that an inordinate amount of our queue is TV shows, not movies
  • Changed the profile picture on most of my Web memberships (save for Facebook, MySpace, and some of the comment systems out there)
  • Am attempting to wade through more than 1,300 articles and posts in my reader; if I don't comment on every one, please understand


See? I told ya. Lots happened. But how much was really interesting?


So tell me why-y-y-y...

Basically, today is just a bunch of those cosmic "why" questions. I'm not entirely sure what inspired this post. But what is the inspiration for any of the tripe I write?

Why does my cellphone always drop the calls I want and never drops the calls I wish it would?

Why is it that Axl Rose can spend 17 years working on a studio album and it's still only middling at best?

Why do my jeans feel tighter while my dress pants feel looser?

Why do we feel more tired the longer we sleep?

Why is it that the Philadelphia Eagles have the fifth highest point total in the NFC and are actually one of the worst teams?

Why is it that the Amazon/PepsiStuff Web site will still let me enter codes for free songs, but I cannot redeem them?

Why is it that the RIAA and MPAA will go after individuals for piracy and not libraries for effectively aiding and abetting the process?

Why can't foresight be 20/20?

Why can't I stay focused when reading through a bunch of books I've really been looking forward to reading and are very good books?

Why is it that Kanye West can totally enthrall me with his live performance of "See You In My Nightmares" on Letterman last night but the album version doesn't come close to comparing?

Why do I keep forgetting that we have a really great collection of breakfast cereal in our cabinet?

Why can't I figure out how to get my damn video footage of this borrowed camera and onto my computer so I can actually post a couple more Damn Fool Network segments?

Why does my site's subscriber count way outnumber my visitor count?

So what's bugging you lately?

Update (11/28): Whoops. Meant to say "Love Lockdown" by Kanye West, not "See You In My Nightmares." My bad.


Great green gobs of greasy grimy...

Does anybody know how to go about petitioning the federal government to remove the Canada Goose from the threatened species list? I've always hated those crap-filled bastards. They are pretty much the only animal I truly hate. And this comes from a guy who generally loves animals. In many cases, more than humans. But now? I want some pate.

CanadagooseThey've squawked at and charged at and pecked at me enough times that I have no reason to feel neither love nor even respect for them. And now they have disgraced my truck.

Katie and I were driving home yesterday morning and along one road was a large park whose fields were being crapped up by a few hundred Canada Geese. As soon as a car ahead of me went past the field, I saw the geese start to stir. Then they all spread their wings just as I was coming up to the flock. They took flight and, in their own confusion over where they should head, they started massing in the airspace over my truck.

Not a good sign at all.

Before I could utter "oh shit," two thuds hit my windshield, one of them right in my line of sight. Two giant green glops of partially digested grass stuck to the tempered glass protecting Katie and I from the frozen air outside. It didn't matter that I was driving 45 miles per hour. It didn't matter that the temperature was well below freezing and it should've frozen it right off my windshield. Nope, didn't matter at all. They stuck like glue.

I don't own a gun. I don't hunt. I don't believe in taking the lives of animals.

But damn if I didn't want to pop a couple shells in a double barrel and go to town right then and there.

And then, after el incidento con la kaka de goose, Katie and I went to a local carwash. It was one of the carwashes attached to a major gas station (BP Amoco, I believe). I went through the carwash like I would any other time.

As we pulled out, a guy and his kid ran up and guided us out and started to dry off my vehicle. This isn't the first time I've seen this. A Sonic wash in Naperville has guys on hand to dry off your car. They do it and wave you on as though no tip is expected. In fact, I think I have tried to give them a tip before and they wouldn't take it. This time, however, the guy waves at me to roll down the window and makes a motion for a tip. I kinda give him a "huh" look and he says that he works for tips. I offer him literally the only dollar that I have (debit cards go a long way, but not in cash-required situations) and he gives me a dejected look and Katie and I drive away.

Is there an expectation to tip a guy like this? I mean he practically stood in the path of my truck as I tried to drive away. I would've had to drive over him or his kid to get through. I stop and they begin drying the moisture from my truck without obtaining permission. I don't owe them jack, do I? I should be able to just drive away, right?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Time for one final review of my Nokia E71 smartphone. Why "one final"? Because WOM World finally did e-mail me back and we are working on return shipping now. I'm not entirely heartbroken because the Blackberry 8820 is coming my way in December. Since my reviews get a bit wordy, I'm moving it to the extended post so my homepage doesn't become too terribly cluttered. Hope you don't mind.

Continue reading "Great green gobs of greasy grimy..." »


Till her daddy takes the T-bird away-ay-ay...

I was sworn to secrecy.

I couldn't talk about it to family or friends. They might try to influence my outlook.

I couldn't use the Web to do my own personal research. Reporter or blogger bias might bend my views one way or the other.

I couldn't even talk to my fellow jurors. We might start thinking things through and unduly influencing each other before deliberations even begin.

Bummer, right?

Not so! I didn't get chosen for the case so I can talk all I want, baby!

For anybody following my Tweets yesterday, I showed up at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago yesterday to report for jury duty. While there, I looked out the window and saw a ton of TV satellite relay trucks. I asked if anybody knew what was going on and Sheila informed me that Obama and McCain were supposed to be in town talking. I looked into it and found out that, in fact, they were in the building right next door to me. How cool is that? I could feel the power rubbing off on me! And, according to Shiny, my own influence was clearly rubbing off on Barack Obama. Here's the reTweeted proof...

mr_shiny @kapgar RT @BarackObama: "just confirmed... Apgar will be right next door to me. Closest I've ever been to a blogging superstar. Scary...

I'm telling y'all, get aboard the kapgar train now while there's still room. ;-)

Anyway, a bunch of us were called into a courtroom and told how the whole jury selection thing would happen. The judge would ask us a bunch of questions and give us each the opportunity to respond if it pertained to us. Unlike in movies like Runaway Jury, each of us was not really grilled individually. It was a group process. And with 43 of us in there, it was a very long group process. And there were a lot of gaps where we sat on our duffs just waiting on the hard wood benches. There is very little efficiency with regard to time at all.

We went through the first round of questions and went on recess. When we returned, eight of us were let go due to perceived conflicts. Then we went around the room talking about who we were, where we came from, what our jobs were, who comprised our household, what jobs they held, and what our hobbies were. Then it was lunch. For an hour and a half (as I said... efficiency? Non existent.)

When we got back, they picked their 14; 12 primary and two alternate. Going through the list in order by our seats, the 14 were picked before they even got to me. The rest of us were sent home and told we didn't need to report today at all, but still needed to check in for potential service on Wednesday through Friday. Just when you think you're free, they suck you back in!

I was kinda hoping to get in on this case. It was a federal drug possession and trafficking case. Meth, no less. How much fun would that have been? DEA. FBI. Chicago Police. Phoenix Police. Fun, fun, fun!

But I wasn't chosen. Dammit. My T-bird was taken away.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Do any of you watch The Big Bang Theory (yes, I know you hate it, Avitable ;-) ). Well, Katie and I love it and crack up repeatedly watching it. She likes it because she relates to the science and math aspects while I can relate to the general geekery. And watching Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons verbally spar each other is fantastic fun.

Last night's episode was awesome! They did a whole sequence tearing apart both the newer Star Wars films and the Clone Wars stuff that has come out and then a second scene debating the merits of the original Star Trek movies. Freakin' hilarious.

If you've ever watched a show created by Chuck Lorre (BBT, Two and a Half Men, and Dharma & Greg), you know that he tends to have some very wordy fun with his vanity cards at the end of each episode. They're hilarious and I often catch myself pausing the TiVo to read them. Hell, he's got a whole Web site dedicated to these cards. The one that followed last night's Big Bang Theory was in regard to the in-show SW and Trek debates and was classic...

Dear George Lucas,

May I call you Mr. Lucas?  On behalf of the writers of The Big Bang Theory, I would like to thank you for your astounding body of work, which has awakened the child within us and unleashed our dreams. That being said, we hope you don't take offense at our good-natured jest regarding your most recent animated efforts. Yes they were cheap shots, but we can't help but hold you to a higher standard -- a standard of your own making. In closing, we are all looking forward to Indiana Jones 5 - The Curse of the Golden Catheter.  Oops, sorry again. 

Very truly yours,

The Writers

P.S.  To William Shatner, director of Star Trek 5. Go ahead, sue us.

Bigbangtheory_2

Check out The Big Bang Theory on iTunes.


My baby takes the mornin' train...

So guess what? The justice system is gettin' an overhaul... KAPGAR STYLE!

After a week of calling in and finding out that I wasn't needed for jury duty, I called in last night, yet again, and found out that I do have to report tomorrow.

Courtmap_2 The timing is actually much better than if I had to report last week considering I had some pretty big projects due at work that would've been painful to try and postpone. So I got all those done and now the jury duty kicks in. Cool. The plan is to hit up the 6:36 train from Geneva to Chicago, grab some coffee, hang around for a little bit, and then report for duty at 8:30 a.m. on Dearborn. 

Yes, I am still looking forward to it even though I checked out some of the daily court calendar from last week and they were all pretty boring cases. Nothing quite like the income tax evasion, capital crimes, etc., that I was hoping would make it all kinda fun. Bummer. Oh, for the chance to stand up in court and scream "STONE HIM!"

But I will do my civic duty, and I will do it without too much bitching.

Also, I will gauge my lunchtime based on how tomorrow goes and, if time will permit and I still have to report after tomorrow, I'm totally cool with doing lunch with anyone who wants to meet up. You still interested, Sheila? Anybody else? Maybe dinner?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): We did it. We bit the bullet. Yesterday, we bought Katie an iPhone.

She's loving it so far even though the idea of paying the extra money for the data plan still irks her. It irks her to the point of feeling buyer's remorse over the purchase. But she, like me, has pretty much hated her Razr phone since day one. So anything that can make her enjoy owning a cellphone is a good thing.

I've played with it a little bit and am becoming much more accustomed to it. For the longest time, I was having extreme difficulty with the menu structure. I couldn't find things on the phone. Now I'm getting the hang of it and it's pretty cool. And at half the price of the phone I'm testing now, it's far more reasonable. But I still may be getting a free Blackberry, so we'll see.

Oh, and that Shazam app that they advertise that allows you to hold up your iPhone to a song and have the app identify it? Totally works. And it's free.

And her wallpaper? Totally appropriate for someone who wants to be a junior high science teacher.

Littlegeeky


Another ringer with the slick trigger finger...

You know it's bound to be an interesting day when you go to brush your teeth in the morning and your toothbrush misses your mouth entirely spreading toothpaste all over your goatee (substitute "cheek" for "goatee" if you have no facial hair). Not the best start.

But, hey! It's Friday! How bad can it possibly get, right? And, to boot, it's a special Double-Oh-Friday! Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond film, is finally out on this side of the pond. Yeah, Brits have been able to watch the film for a week or two now. I'm sure if I wanted to be illegal about it, I could've downloaded it. But I want the big screen experience and Katie's stoked about it, too. How can a guy possibly want to ruin things when his wife wants to go see an action film? I'm not going to be the one to do it.

So we're going. Likely tomorrow morning. Tonight will be spent with homemade pizza and a rewatch of Casino Royale to pump us up for QoS. Should it turn out good, I will officially declare Daniel Craig to be the best Bond out there.

Qoswallpaper2sm

Can you tell I'm excited?

On a related aside, before I get to the unrelated one, does the lyric in my title (which is from the Alicia Keys/Jack White-penned "Another Way to Die," the theme from QoS) sound like something that should be sung by Scott Weiland during his Velvet Revolver days? I can imagine it being the opening line in the song "Set Me Free" for some reason.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): After coming home from the gym last night to discover a, um, shortage of sorts in one of my dresser drawers, I decided to accept Dave's challenge. I did it through this morning for a full 12-hour stretch. That may not sound like much, but baby steps, people. And it was weird. Oddly liberating, but weird. I have yet to decide when I'll be doing it again, but if the fact that I've thrown out more than a dozen pairs in the last several months is any indication, it may happen sooner rather than later.

Oh, and before you ask, I have no photographic evidence of my exploits like Dave does. You wouldn't want that anyway. Trust me on this one.


Who cut off their tails with a carving knife...

I think I'm going insane.

Paranoia is taking its toll.

It's been a slow, but steady decline to the depths of mental despair, but I'm knocking on the door waiting for the gatekeeper to open.

Many of you have been reading here long enough to know of my Tails of Wildlife Woe. No, I did not misspell "tails." It is in reference to the mouse problem that has occasionally befallen us in our townhouse. There have been a few over the years.

No, we don't have another one. Not that I'm aware of anyway. But try telling that to my brain. Whenever I'm in my house, I see little shadows scurrying out the corner of my eye. Tearing across the countertop. Speeding across the carpet. Skidding over the bathroom linoleum.

But anytime I go to examine, I find nothing. No evidence of mousey miscreants anywhere. No poop. No moved articles. No nibbles in any paper packaging or in the foodstuffs we leave out on the counter.

There is absolutely no empirical evidence that any mice are in my house anywhere!

And I still swear I see them. Sometimes I think they're snickering at me. Their little whiskers fluttering up and down as they cackle at my futile attempts not only to catch them, but just to prove that they even exist.

It's driving me up a freakin' wall!

Make it stop!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Has anyone ever had their iPod not recognize music that they know is on there? This has happened to me a few times lately.

The first was with a song by She & Him called "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" I purchased this as part of a Starbucks compilation album called Have You Heard. Being a purchase direct from iTunes, you would expect it to work. And yet, I could never find it when I scrolled through the artist subfolder for She & Him. The only way I could find the song was by doing an album search for Have You Heard.

Next it was the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins album Rabbit Fur Coat. I loaded it in iTunes and sync'd my iPod and it wasn't there. Not under the artist name anyway. I could find the album. But I'll be damned if it was available under the name Jenny Lewis or a variant thereof. After a while, though, it just spontaneously appeared.

The third was Jenny Lewis' other solo album Acid Tongue. Again, it would only show up under the album name. I deleted the files and reripped the CD and still nothing. I went into the album info and added her name anywhere I could find a form field related to artist. Still nothing.

The thing is I'm not sure that these are the only albums this is happening with. These just happen to be the ones I was looking for at a given moment.

I don't get it. I just reinstalled the firmware for my iPod and resync'd everything. It took a little over an hour, and I'm still not sure it's going to work. Wish me luck...

... and still no She & Him nor Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue. But Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins is on there.

I'm at a loss.


Is there anybody in here...

This is kinda funny...

Yesterday, while Katie was working on some homework, I decided to pop in a DVD of the movie The Strangers. It's a horror film "inspired by true events" about a couple who are terrorized in a family home by three masked assailants. They cannot get away, cannot call out, cannot get help, and seemingly cannot stop them. Pretty basic fare.

Anyway, the film started a little bit freaky. One of those things where you watch and convince yourself that there's no way in hell that you will ever let yourself be in a situation where this could happen to you. So, yeah, I was getting the heebie jeebies to a minor degree.

However, about halfway through, I shut off the movie and started Tweeting about how stupid victims are in horror flicks always enabling their assailants and really just making the terror process too easy. I even argued that they pretty much deserve any bad thing coming to them.

Why is this funny? Because after Tweeting this stuff and receiving a reply from @Sheila_CSR about stupid people in horror films, the rest of the movie just became laughable. I couldn't take it seriously anymore. It was a non issue.

Movie ruined.

Speaking of the movie, I wanted a little more information about the "inspired by true events" claim in the opening credits. Turns out that when the director was young, somebody knocked on his family's door asking if someone were home (that didn't live there) much like what happens in the film. The next day, they found out that many houses in the neighborhood had been burglarized presumably by the door knocker testing to see what houses were empty.

That was his inspiration for this blood bath? Seriously? I'd say the use of the word "inspired" is stretching it a bit.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I were talking about teaching over the weekend. As many of you know, she wants to be a junior high science and/or math teacher. I was asking her what she could see me teaching, if anything.

"English or literature," she replied.

"Cool," I said. "Well, I'm going to read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Some English or lit teacher I'd be, eh?


On the road again...

Sorry about the unnecessarily short post on Friday. I really couldn't think of much to say and I was trying out the Typepad mobile blogging platform on my Nokia E71 to see how it worked. Seemed to be pretty nice. Gave me enough basic functionality to write and publish a post, but not much else. I do have a second review of the E71 in my extended post if you're interested, though.

Oddly, though, there are several of you who seem to enjoy my potty humor implications. Twisted bastards... I love y'all!

In other news, I got word from the District Court in Chicago, and I don't need to report tomorrow. I actually am kinda bummed. I've really been building myself up for this. Who knows, maybe they caught word of me talking about it on my blog and disqualified me as a result. I wonder if they would do that for fear of me talking too much. Hmmm...

But there is still a chance I could receive the nod... I was told I have to call in each night before a possible jury duty reporting through the next two weeks. This means I could still go, but the fact that I have to call in so often and never know until the night before is annoying not just to me, but to my boss and coworkers because it's so last second. I pretty much have to leave an out-of-office message on my phone and e-mail account at all times because I won't know until after I've already left work for the day if I will be back in the next day or not. That doesn't seem right to me.

So that's all I've got for you right now. As I said at the top of the post, if you keep reading, there's a second review with some of the pros and cons of the Nokia E71 that I think I have about half a week left to play with before I, *sniffle*, have to send it back.

Continue reading "On the road again..." »


When I'm gone...

It's pretty old news by now, but famed author Michael Crichton has died. He succumbed to an extended, and very private, battle with cancer.

Reading through a few articles about him, it amazed me how much he's done in his 66 years. The man was what you could legitimately call "accomplished." Let's see, according to The Wik, he has been published 25 times with #26 on the way, he's a doctor, he was a visiting lecturer in anthropology, he co-created one of the longest running medical dramas in the history of television (ER), he co-wrote some screenplays, he developed a few video games, he saw several of his novels turned into movies, he even directed one of them. There's more.

I was aware of most of these facts in some form over the years. But, as a lot of knowledge tends to do, things slip out of your mind when you have little to no need for it. So reading it all again was a bit overwhelming and made me feel like I had accomplished very little in life. Many people make me feel that way, in fact.

That's when I started trying to think about how I'd want to be remembered if I were to die right now. If my life ended, what do I want everyone to remember?

That is definitely not an easy question to answer.

Perhaps as a loyal and loving husband with a penchant for entertaining on the Web? Can my drivel even be considered "entertaining"? Damn, maybe I should just stick to "loyal and loving husband."

What about you?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Because sometimes I get cravings. And I'm not even pregnant.

The motley crew

No, not necessarily all at the same time. That would just be weird.


You know you twist so good...

Sometimes I wonder why my body doesn't just revolt on me by shutting down entirely and turning me into a vegetable against my will. I wouldn't blame it.

And yet, in my next test of vicious cruelty, er, physical stamina that I am putting myself through, I am joining a yoga class on Wednesdays. I let some friends talk me into it simply because there is a minimum class enrollment for it to happen and I help toward that minimum quota. Of course, I think there is one more that they'll need so I guess the class could possibly still not happen. We'll see.

However, if it does, I'll need your help. In the form of prayer and lots of good will.

Not to guilt you or anything, but if you do think good thoughts for me, I could wind up looking cool and in shape like this...

Maleyoga_2

If you don't, the likelihood is that I will wind up permanently stuck like this, and that's just not right...

Humanpretzel

You must choose, but choose wisely. I beg of you!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It's been a year and a half since we've had the pleasure of watching Jack Bauer kick some serious arse on the tube. And I've been in withdrawal. Thankfully, though, we're almost there!

The two-hour movie, 24: Redemption, airs on Sunday, November 23 and it looks pretty cool. From what I've read, it sets Jack up as a sort of aid worker in Africa who, as is typical for Jack, is caught up in unfortunate goings on.

Then, on January 11, season seven kicks off, baby! It has been far too long.


And I want it now...

It's been a while since I griped about the Jury Duty information request form I received some time ago. But I was laboring under the impression that no news is good news insofar as I had no desire to serve.

However, a few weeks ago, I received a follow up. This time with specific dates. That can't be good. Or can it?

Basically, I was told to block off a two-week period starting next Monday. At this point, I have no idea if they'll actually need me. But, pending the possibility that they might, I'm trying to make the most of it and be a bit optimistic.

For example, here are some positives:

  • I get to visit Chicago, singularly the greatest city on the face of the Earth. I swear, after 21 years living here, I still get that googly eyed wondrous look on my face every time I go downtown. I'm a little kid. I love it.
  • I get to take the train each day, which is going to save boku bucks on gas.
  • I get to read or listen to my iPod or surf the Web on this Nokia smart phone while on the train. Fun!
  • I get paid. Not much, but it's mine!
  • I've never served on a jury before. The likelihood is that it will be boring stuff, if they even use me. Or it could be some big, juicy case. It is the District Court, after all.

So, yeah, I'm trying to stay upbeat about the whole thing. If I keep pissing and moaning, what good is that going to do? May as well make the most of it. That's so non-cynical of me.

Hey, not sure how lunch works during jury duty, but if anyone wants to meet up in the Loop area for lunch, let me know.

BTW, speaking of the Nokia E71 smart phone I'm playing with, I've got some initial impressions of it in the extended post.

Continue reading "And I want it now..." »


Life is very short...

My buddy, Bdub, warned us about it. But did we listen? Aw hell no.

Katie and I decided to press the good luck streak we've had with Home Depot by ordering a new storm door for the front entrance of our house. It's a storm door. How bad can it be, right?

Yeah.

We go in and find the door we want without a problem. We talk to the guy in charge of scheduling the measurement of our existing door and whatnot and everything is going swimmingly. He tells us that they have about eight of the doors we want in stock and all we need to do is schedule, have the doorway measured, and wait.

On Tuesday night, we get a call from the measurement guy asking if he can come on Thursday instead of Wednesday. Okay, fine.

Thursday comes and goes and we wait. And wait. And still no word from Depot.

I call in several days later and the guy checks his computer to discover that the tech has yet to call in the details. Later that night, I find a message on our answering machine saying that it's now all in the computer and I simply need to come in and pay for the door. By now, we're talking the following Wednesday. I go in on Thursday evening after work and pay for the door. The guy says to expect the call from the installation team pretty soon.

Later that night, I get another call from Depot letting me know that everything is ready to go and I only need to come in and pay. I tell the guy that I've already done that. He digs in the computer a bit and finds that I did indeed pay. "Oh, okay, so when are you picking up the door?" he asks. Apparently, there is a delivery charge for the door that nobody bothered to mention to me at all. I kinda assumed that the installation team just brings the door with them. Guess not.

So, last night, Katie and I go to Depot for some more garden stuff we need and decide that we may as well just pick up our door and save the delivery fee. This is when the real shit starts. The guy in Doors & Windows (D&W) checks the computer and finds that our door is on special order and won't be in until November 13 and the installation team will then have upwards of two weeks after that to get the appointment made. This is nearly bordering on December... FOR A STORM DOOR! Katie gives me a look that says "he is full of shit and I'm not taking this crap!" So I ask him to check to make sure they don't have one in stock. He gets up to look and finds five of them right there in plain sight.

He pulls one and we cart it and take it up front to the special order counter so they can reprocess it all and allow us to take this one home and the store will just keep the one that will eventually come in on special order. The Special Order Dipshit (to be referred to as SODs) starts putting up a stink. And, no, this is not just my interpretation of it all. He was griping and moaning about all the extra work he would have to do to make this happen and he's saying all this as I'm standing there in front of him. Then SODs and D&W get into it about how the code numbers don't exactly match up. Same bar code number, same part number, but a couple digits difference on the SKU code. D&W assures me that it's the same door while SODs tries to convince me that it isn't. I tend to believe the guy that works with the parts on a daily basis, so I sit there and just glare back at SODs letting him know I'm willing to wait.

After another 15 or so minutes, SODs tells me that there is a $10 difference between the doors and that the one I'm taking home is the more expensive and the store will eat the difference but it will become their property and a bunch of other BS excuses that start to run together and mean nothing other than to prove that SODs is just unwilling to do his job. I ask if I have to pay anything extra and they both say no. I shrug my shoulders in a "then why would I give a damn" sort of manner and take my door and leave.

Yeah, an hour of my life on a Saturday night that I'll never get back.

When we get outside, Katie reveals to me that she was almost ready to throw one of the paver bricks we bought at SODs' face. I love when she gets a mean streak.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Got a couple small ones for you.

First, I did get my I Voted sticker. My source came through and I nabbed a couple of them. I may try to have one turned into a button so I can never forget what a hellish campaign period this has been.

Second, we had a grand total of 15 trick or treaters. And a majority of them came before I got home while Katie was here. Total bust of a holiday. None of the junior high kids came so we have all that full-size candy in our possession. I feel like a freakin' chocolate shop. Anyone want to come by and help us clear it out?


I'm half the man I used to be...

I did it. I voted.

I know I was leaning toward voting on the actual day, but I was starting to worry about just how late I would be to work and how frustrated I would feel sitting in that line for so damn long.

Funny thing, though... you remember how I was talking about how I hate when people stop up the line ahead of me and I can't do anything about it? Well, I was that person last night at early voting.

The woman at the desk was trying to check me in and print my registration verification sticker when she discovered a bit of an abnormality... I was registered twice! Both registrations had the same first and last name, home address, phone number, and birthday. The only difference was that one used my middle initial, while the other used my full middle name.

I didn't have my registration card on me. I've never carried it. Never needed it. Until now, apparently. So one of the only two people verifying registrations had to stop and call into the clerk's office to find out which one was the real me. That took another 10 minutes.

I'm just thankful that nobody in line behind me was as overtly pissy about what I was doing to them as I likely would've been to anyone doing that to me. Irony, eh?

I guess I take "vote early, vote often" to a whole new level.

Oh, and, no, I did not get an "I Voted" sticker. They'd been out of them for two days at that point. Good sign for overall voter turnout considering they never usually run out of those things over the course of the entire election. But I've got friends on the inside who might be able to score me a couple of them.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This is one of those things you never think you'd have to ask a realtor, but I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry.

Branson West, Missouri, has a problem. A not-so-tiny, eight-legged problem that comes in the form of tarantulas. Some of these beasts can get as big as a dinner plate and can often be found in swarms crossing neighborhood streets. Apparently, they're everywhere in the town and officials have asked residents to hold back on killing them as they eat the scorpions that are also a town pest.

Tarantulas? Scorpions? Am I in the Suburban Twilight Zone here?

Um... screw that. I'm never going anywhere near western Missouri again. Unless it's St. Louis, I want nothing to do with it. And even then... (just joshin' you, ajooja).


It don't mean spit to me...

I'm debating something right now and I need your help deciding what I should do.

Voting day is a mere nine days or some ridiculously small number that I thought I'd never remain sane enough to actually see. News reports, Katie's experience, and what I've seen at local early voting locations indicate that numbers of voters are through the roof (a good thing).

My question is in regards to whether I should vote early or vote on time. Katie liked it because she got in and out real quick. Plus there are more days available to do it since, obviously, it's not just on voting day.

The part of me that hates crowds wants to avoid them entirely and go in early some time very soon. I'm not a big fan of crowds as you all know. I hate being stopped up in lines. And I hate knowing that there are people ahead of me slowing me down and, in this case anyway, I probably shouldn't do anything to "take matters into my own hands," as it were.

Then there's another part of me that would like to stand in the line to experience what is almost assuredly going to be a record-breaking voter turnout. Be there with my camera to take pics of the lines. Show up early and time how long it takes to get through. Just to be able to say, "I did it." Stuff like that. I also don't want to miss out on my I Voted sticker like Katie and Brandon did. That sticker is the shit. It's the ultimate badge of honor, dammit! There's no way I'm leaving without it.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): You know how during the very early sunrise hours and the time just before the sun sets, when the sun casts a really hazy, yet dazzling, light through your windows into a room and you can see everything floating in the air? Every particle of dust or dirt or anything of the sort?

Well, I was at my second women's soccer game on Saturday with Katie and several members of her family. It was a great game in which Katie's cousin's team ended the 26-game home winning streak of Wheaton College. Back on point, though.

At one point in the game, a woman two people down from me stood up and started cheering. The setting sun was on the far side of her and off a bit to the front. As she yelled, the sun lit up a fine mist as it emitted from her mouth. And, much is my luck, the wind caught the mist and started carrying it my way.

What do you do in this case? Do you try to duck out of the way? Do you swat at it like a swarm of invisible flies? Do you just let it hit you and wipe your face later?

I opted for number three. I didn't want to look like an idiot ducking or swatting. So I waited and let it hit and then wiped it off. Funny thing was that I didn't even feel it hit me. This, of course, makes me worry about how many other times this has happened to me in the past and I never felt it.

No, I just don't want to think about it. I can't think about it or I may become one of those germophobes I loathe and consequently lock myself in a hermetically sealed plastic bubble.

No, can't think about it.

Just... no.


We can't go on together with suspicious minds...

I was going to hold off posting this. However, since fireshaper was so convincing, here you go...

As both a fan of Criminal Minds and Wil Wheaton (mostly from his writing), I gotta admit that I was looking forward to seeing the episode of Minds in which he had a guest starring role. It aired on Wednesday. And in the aftermath of it all, I've enjoyed reading the production notes posts he has up on his blog (part 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a final post yet to come).

Overall, it was a good episode. I like when Criminal Minds casts a relatively recognizable face in the role of a bad guy. The same thing happened a year and a half ago when James Van Der Beek came on as a Bible-thumping, split-personalitied serial murderer. It usually means that they want this character to have a larger role... more speaking... more face time... more of a chance for us to learn about them. This as opposed to being just a disposable, red-shirted ensign type of role.

The episode also guest stars the actor known as Tom Cruise's non-couch-jumping cousin and Lost guest William Mapother and the actress formerly known as Goldie Hawn's eldest daughter in Wildcats and nurse to Doogie Howser, M.D., Robyn Lively.

However, about halfway through the episode, some guy shows up on-screen in a scene shared by Wheaton and show star Thomas Gibson. Just this hulk of a guy who seemed to barely fit through the door and nearly had to bend at the knees to make sure his head didn't hit the ceiling in the tiny motel office set they were using. Being a Chicago Bears fan, my sports-nut head decided, for whatever reason, that this dude looked just like Bears Defensive Tackle Tommie Harris. Katie agreed saying the only thing missing was a nasal strip across the bridge of his nose. Imagine my surprise when I saw the end credits and learned that "Father" was indeed played by Tommie Harris.

I wondered what was going on until I read Wil's blog and discovered that Tommie is a huge Criminal Minds fan and his people knew people who swung a favor and got Tommie a walk-on role. How freakin' cool!

I want people who know people. People who can swing favors.

If I could pull this off, I'd love to be in any one of the following shows:

  • Burn Notice - as much as I'd like to be one of the bad asses that Michael Westin (Jeffrey Donovan) deals with, I know that I'd probably be better cast as one of the losers that solicits his help.
  • Chuck - I want to have my ass kicked by Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) while Casey (Adam Baldwin) heckles me because that would be cool.
  • Mad Men - I think it would just be fun to dress up like they do and then be able to walk away and never worry about doing it again.

And Katie would like to be in:

  • Criminal Minds - because she thinks Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) is cool and she wants to drool over Morgan (Shemar Moore).
  • Big Bang Theory - probably because she can actually hold her own in geek speak with the guys. She "gets" them.

Can anybody out there make that happen?

Now to shamelessly whore for comments... on which shows would you want to have a walk-on role?


Stop kickin' my, stop kickin' my...

Once in a while, I like to take a gander at Google Maps and see what I can find. Just spend some time looking. I love Google Maps. I'm thoroughly enthralled by it. Yeah, I know, simple strokes for simple folks, right? Oh well.

Anyway, I was on there recently and I noticed a bit of an abnormality in the downtown area of the city where I live. Here's what I found...

Communityhospital

Community Hospital? I thought the only hospital in my town was almost literally across the street from where I live. So I started checking out the crossroads and it hit me where they were talking about.

Simply put, so not a hospital. Here's how not a hospital it truly is...

Communityhospital2_2

  1. A brand new and amazingly cool Life is Good store
  2. Bridal and baby boutique
  3. Store that sells freakishly high-end (read: "ridonkulously expensive") strollers
  4. Artsy fartsy crafty interior decorating store
  5. Egg Harbor Cafe... good stuff
  6. Michaelangelo's Deli... damn good stuff
  7. Wildwood Steak, Seafood and Pasta... also good stuff
  8. Galena Cellars Vineyard and Winery... you on a plane yet, Penelope?

I can think of one place that might help cure what ails you but certainly not in a medical sense. I'm just curious how Google got the idea this was a hospital. Not even close. Considering what Shodeen (developers who pretty much own half of Geneva) charges for rent in the downtown area, I doubt a hospital could ever afford to viably operate there.

I wonder what other abnormalities Google Maps has to offer.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): As some of you may have read the other day on Twitter, I was at a college women's soccer game in Naperville, Illinois. Katie's cousin was on the visiting team and this is a fairly reasonable distance for us to drive from home to be able to see her play, so we did.

I played soccer... er... "non-American football" for two years as a kid and clearly all my knowledge of the game is gone. I picked back up on a little of it here and there as I was watching, but something happened during the game that I couldn't explain. Thankfully, for my sanity's sake, nobody else could explain it either. The girl on the home team tangled up with a girl on the visiting team trying to get at the ball. Home Girl (HG) wound up literally wrapping herself around Visiting Girl (VG) at the waist (yep, they looked like a lower-case "t") and pulled VG down to the ground on top of her. The ref blew her whistle and gave VG a yellow card.

Huh? How's this VG's fault? Can someone explain this to me? That was all instigated and perpetrated by HG, not VG. Hey ref, get your head out of your arse!

I might have to go to more of these. It's fun.


You can call me any, anytime...

While this exercise won't necessarily apply to every one of you out there (those young'uns like kilax), I would like you to think back to when you were young and how you got in touch with your friends when you wanted to hang out and play. Or how they got in touch with you.

What did you come up with? If you were me, you came up with nothing more than a home phone and knocking on each other's front door, right? You could also have letters sent to your parents' house. As I got older and girls came on the scene, notes were passed in school to get messages back and forth. Early on in college, I got my first pager. That was pretty much it.

Flash forward to today. Not that you go outside and play anymore (that would just be creepy and might warrant a call to the police), but think about all the different ways you can now be contacted for whatever purpose. How long was your list?

I shall attempt to count for myself:

  • home phone
  • office phone
  • cell phone
  • home mail address
  • work mail address
  • text messaging
  • three G-mail accounts
  • two Yahoo e-mail accounts
  • one SBC e-mail account
  • one Hotmail e-mail account
  • five work e-mail accounts
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • G-chat
  • work-based instant messaging program
  • three or more AOL IM accounts
  • one ICQ account (does that still exist?)
  • My blog comments
  • Last.fm message board
  • Vimeo comments
  • Talkshow comments

You scared yet? I don't know why I thought of this, but for some reason I did. And as I was mentally hashing out my list of contact methods, I realized I was having trouble keeping track of them all. In fact, I'm pretty certain I thought of some others yesterday that I'm forgetting now as I type this.

I'm not sure I enjoy this realization. On the one hand, it's nice knowing I can be found in an emergency. On the other hand, it's a bit disconcerting knowing I can be found in an emergency, if you catch my meaning.

I would seriously like to go back to the days of passing notes in class. Please?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This is here only because I would hate to leave Cinnkitty "jonesing" unnecessarily. That would be animal cruelty.

Typically for our anniversary, Katie and I will get each other one sincere card and one funny card. I dunno how this started, but it did and we try to live up to it each year. This year, though, Katie outdid herself. No, I'm not sharing the sincere card, just the joke-y one.

The outside reads: "Sometimes when we're lying in bed, I look over at you and think, 'I'm so lucky'."

The inside reads: "Then you start snoring in that snorty way, and I think, 'Well, that's annoying, but I'm still lucky'."

And she accompanied the card with a box of Breathe Right strips.

I love my wife. No, really, I do. Seriously!


I wanna fly like an eagle...

Clearly it's Fun With Animals week around these parts.

Yesterday, while Katie and I were walking Lilly, I looked off the side of the trail and saw an enormous bird sitting there on the ground. It was a hawk (or maybe a falcon... I dunno for sure, but it was a big ol' bird of prey to be certain). And, as soon as we got nearer, it took off, with a mouse in one of its talons. We pulled Lilly a bit closer for the next few hundred feet.

A friend of mine also told me a story today about walking out to the parking lot at her job. Some guy she recognized from another department was standing there and told her to watch out for the evil squirrel around the corner. She said she thought he was joking, but stifled her laugh just in case. As she rounded the back of a car, sure enough, there was said evil squirrel ("the mangiest thing I've ever seen") with blood dripping from its mouth onto the ground. My friend freaked out a bit and got the hell away.

I'm not sure what these incidents are trying to tell me, but it almost seems like there should be some sort of prophetic nature to it all. What should I expect next? Would a plague of locusts seem completely unreasonable?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): You've all purchased new hardcover books before, right? You know that the description of the book, for the most part, is on the inside flap of the dust jacket. You have to open the front cover to see it.

I was at a bookstore during my lunch today and saw some book the title and author of which I can't quite recall. But it had something to do with baseball and the related image on the cover caught my eye. All the advanced copy reviews on the back of the cover made it sound pretty good (but why would they be on there if they didn't, right?). Go figure, though, that I couldn't read word one of what this book was about because it was shrinkwrapped shut. What's the purpose of that? Do the author and publisher really think I'm just going to take it on the word of solicited reviewers how great this book is and buy it blindly?

I don't think so.


Radio, someone still loves you...

Say a prayer for me...

Make a wish...

Send good tidings in my general direction...

Will me some karma...

Light a candle...

Tie a ribbon around the old oak tree...

Why?

Here's why...

Secondhandradio

And tonight, I'm Karl's guest. Granted nothing is showing up in his upcoming shows list, he said we were doing it. So let's hope it's still happening. Otherwise this post is going to seem pretty stupid, isn't it?

What are we going to talk about? Hell if I know. He asked what I wanted to talk about and I had no idea. We might just make this like an episode of Seinfeld, no purpose whatsoever. I can only hope it will be about as much fun. Hell, I'd consider having 25% the fun quotient of an episode of Seinfeld to be a success when I'm involved.

So get on over to Talkshoe and register to listen or to participate in the message boards or both. It's up to you. The show is set for 9 p.m. tonight, CDT (we are still on daylight time, aren't we?). I believe that's GMT -6 so do the math for your own time zone and tune in. Or you can visit the site tomorrow and listen to it after the fact from the Web site or by downloading to iTunes.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This morning, Lilly was wandering the living room and started smelling a few little fuzzballs on the carpet. Rather than risk her eating them, I decided to pick them up and throw them out.

As I reached down and touched one, it scooted away. It was a freakin' spider! Gah!!!! And I touched it!! Blech! Icky! Icky!

(I sound like such a little girl, but I HATE HATE HATE spiders!)

Oh, and I smashed the little bastard with my boot and flushed him. Sorry Charlotte.


Wouldn't you love somebody to love...

I hesitate to post this simply because I know what I'm doing is akin to tasering a bear and sticking around to laugh, but fuck it. For the record, this is the post I referred to last Tuesday.

Please note, what lies beneath is not an endorsement of McCain in any way whatsoever. I have my issues with him as well, but so many people have been so wont to point them out in their own blogs that I just don't see the need. This post is simply my take on the Obama campaign.

As a warning, much like Dave's well-crafted post about McCain's "support" (HA! I made a funny) of veterans, any comment that is too vitriolic or just plain inconsiderate will be deleted right off the bat. It's my blog and y'all are working under my rules here. Sign the release at the door and deal with it, okay?

Why I Don't Know If I'm Ready to Vote For Obama:
A Study in Voter Indecisiveness

by Kevin Apgar

Most of you know that I'm not decided when it comes to the Great Presidential Election of 2008. I've made no bones about it whatsoever... I don't know who I want to vote for. Obama/Biden? McCain/Palin? Hell if I know. I have no prObama icons adorning my site nor do I admin a blog all about my right wing leanings. Sure, it seems as though Sarah Palin should really be making the decision easier for me, but, still I have an unease about Barack Obama that I've had difficulty putting into words.

But I'm going to try anyway.

I'm no political expert. I don't know everything there is to know. In fact, my knowledge probably borders closer to "nothing" than to "everything." I tend to vote more with my heart or my gut rather than my brain. That's the way it's always been. I get a feeling about somebody and that feeling turns into my drive to vote one way or the other. It's not always the issues that sway me as no one candidate has ever fully represented my diverse beliefs. I am the ultimate fence rider and damn if it isn't uncomfortable. I've been asking for years to have that rusty old chain-link jobber replaced with a nicer rounded-top picket fence, but no. I'm forced to sit astride this nasty ass pokey fence as my beliefs get split between two parties.

Hence my Heart-Gut Voting Technique (tm). And I've got a relatively large gut whose instincts should never be questioned (I did vote against Bush both times, dammit; now you tell me who's right).

Most of you should know that I live in Illinois. If you didn't, I'm not sure how you missed it. But here I am settling any question of that whatsoever. I live in the far western suburbs of Chicago about dead center between the city and Rockford. Barack Obama is our Senator. We voted for him a few years ago to represent us in Washington.

And I think many of us are still waiting for him to represent us.

You see, I, like some other Illinoisans feel like we've gotten the shaft by Obama. Maybe "shaft" is the wrong word to use here. But consider this... he came tearing through our state making promises of cleaning up the years of problems that we've had. He would be Our Guy in D.C. We bought into it lock, stock, and barrel. And some of us are still hoping for that change. It almost seems as though he won that election and has since been on a whirlwind tour of the world in preparation for what was the inevitable... running for president of our fair country.

Right about now I feel like a kid who's been bullied in the schoolyard for years. The bullies have taken my lunch money, beat me to a bloody pulp, and left me crying in a mud puddle. The principal isn't doing shit about it either. Now, here comes the new kid in school. He comes rushing in, pushes the bullies down, and takes my hand to help me up. I'm starstruck. This new kid is the epitome of cool. You know how the saying goes, "all the girls want him, all the guys want to be him." However, as soon as I start to get up, he spies the head cheerleader on the side smiling and lets go of my hand. He walks away and I fall back down in the mud as the bullies start to walk back my way smiling menacingly.

It's the truth. Illinois has had nothing but bad Governor after bad Governor for years. Our political offices have been embroiled in scandal after scandal. Three former governors were convicted of white collar crimes including Otto Kerner, Jr., Dan Walker, and George Ryan. Currently, we're saddled with the joy that is Rod "Blago" Blagojevich.

Then along comes Obama and we finally start to see a light at the end of this otherwise dark and infinite tunnel. No, not in the Governor's seat, but just a shining knight of a politician who was making promises to change how business is done. I feel, though, that I have yet to emerge from the proverbial tunnel. As I approach its terminus, it stretches out another hundred or so feet. Enough to keep it in sight, but also enough to keep it out of reach.

I realize I should be thinking of the bigger picture. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The "many" being the country and the "few" being my state. Yeah, I get it.

Right now, though, it's hard not to think about my state. Why? Because Obama made promises to us. Promises I feel he has yet to live up to. And this colors my view of his ability to run our country. Will he keep those promises? I hope so. He'll certainly have time this go round since it's not like there's a bigger ship for him to jump to once he's President. If he makes it, he's hopefully in it for the long haul.

Another negative lies in the knowledge that if/when Obama wins his White House bid, his replacement in the Senate will be chosen by Blago. It could be anyone, including Blagojevich himself. And, considering the fact that popular opinion is currently weighing heavily against him (a mere 37% approval rating as of 9/22/08), there is a strong possibility that in order to maintain some semblance of power, he could nominate himself for the position. That scares me even more than saying "President Hillary Clinton."

Before I get lambasted here, I'm not against a woman in the White House, nor am I against an African American. What I am against is the campaign process; a time during which it seems candidates do nothing but say what they think you want to hear. And we, as voters, must decide whose cup of Kool Aid we want to sip from. I'm a cynic by nature. I am very mistrusting of human nature. I lock my office door at work when I'm not there. Instead of admiring decorations around our house, I take mental bets on what's going to be stolen first. I'm not sure I've been given enough reason to pick Obama's cherry Kool Aid over McCain's tropical punch. Both are mighty fine in their own right and damn tasty; and, considering the last eight years, I'm pretty damn parched.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm still waiting for my ideal candidate. I have no idea who it could possibly be. But the two parties (the fact that it's still just two parties that dominate our political frontier makes my blood boil), I think, need to work harder at finding the best candidate for the position. Given another four or eight years and a chance to prove himself as a Senator, Obama might be that guy. Right now, I just don't know.

But I guess I'd better freakin' decide soon.


Hey Chicago, whadda ya say...

I need to apologize to some of you. Over the past, well, while, I've become kind of militant in my support of the Chicago Cubs. Maybe it was an over optimism of their chances. Perhaps I just wanted this 100 year drought to finally end. Actually, it was likely both. And a few other thing thrown into the mix for good measure.

Whatever the case was, I came off as a Cub-loving jerk at the expense of a couple of my readers who are White Sox fans (Nilsa and Sheila). As I explained to them, I have nothing against the White Sox even though it may sometimes sound as though I do. The Sox are just as much Chicago as the Cubs are. And, in fact, as any of us who watch baseball have seen, the Sox are actually better representatives of baseball and the Windy City than the Cubs.

At least the White Sox care enough to actually try to play. They've won the World Series a couple times in the last 100 years, a feat the Cubs can't seem to manage even once. And, unlike the Cubs, the Sox are still holding onto their post-season chances this year. As I type this, the southsiders have actually won a game against the Rays to bring the series to 2-1. Sure that record is in Tampa's favor, but at least the Sox are trying.

Why any of us are Cubs fans is beyond me. How any team can be so loved despite doing NOTHING to give back to the expectant masses is beyond me. We support them season after season, unflinchingly. We start each season saying, "this is gonna be the year," only to finish each one with, "wait until next year."

We are the world's most pathetic optimists. The moniker "Lovable Losers" that has for years plagued the club is clearly not just about the team, but its fans as well. We sit back and take heartbreak after heartbreak. Generations have lived and died with no championship trophy. Why do we put up with it? Why don't we just fold up our banners, stuff our T-shirts and hats in a dark dresser drawer, and move on with our lives?

The Florida Marlins, a team that has been in existence for 15 years and won two World Series in that time still can't fill up the seats in their stadium. Why? They've at least given people something to be proud of, a team that can actually win (even if they do have a bad tendency of completely dismantling each championship team the next season).

Cubs skipper Lou Pinella said, "To hear all this talk of, 'Well if you guys don't win the division and you don't win a World Series, it's a lost year.' That's a bunch of bull (bleep). That's just the way I feel." [quoted from the Daily Herald]

Guess what Sweet Lou, it's not bullshit. The Cubs were one of the best teams in the Major Leagues all season long. Much like the New England Patriots were to the NFL last season. The Pats tore through the regular season and through the first couple rounds of the playoffs. They were on their way to the first perfect season in the NFL since the Miami Dolphins in, I believe, 1972 (correct me if I'm wrong on the year; I'm on too much of a roll to bother looking it up).

The Pats lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants and nobody talks anymore about the near-greatness of that team. Their perfect regular season is a footnote, an asterisk, in a season in which they did not win when it counted most. NOBODY CARES ABOUT 16-0 IF IT DOESN'T BRING HOME A TROPHY!

The same is going to happen with the Cubs. Nobody will care that they finished with a .602 record. They couldn't make it past the first round of the playoffs. Hell, they were swept out of it for the second consecutive year. That's what people are going to remember... their futility... their inability... their sheer ineptness.

The Cubs played like a team with no winning record at all. Everybody involved was abysmal. They didn't care. There was no heart out on the field swinging the bat, throwing the ball, fielding hits by the other team. There was nothing but a bunch of shell-shocked, overpaid imbeciles who need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that, YES YOU ARE PAID TO WIN.

But why the hell would they care what I think. I'm just a fan. The Cubs have plenty of them. What's one pissed-off fan, right? They'll still sell out Wrigley Field every home game. That's a given.

And there will be no shortage of blue-pinstriped idiots out there at opening day next season saying, "this will be OUR year."

Yeah, we'll see about that.

Wanna see what others are saying? Check out Chicagoist.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was reading a library-borrowed copy of Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke last night when I noticed that someone decided to break out their proverbial red pen and get all editorial on it. In one panel, the Joker says, "God damn it." And one previous borrower penciled out the "God" in the line.

Fear not, I took an eraser to the edit. It is what was written and nobody but the author has the right to change their own words (unless of course the author is trying to change the words post-publication, in which case he becomes no better than George Lucas in my mind).


I know all there is to know...

My dad and I went to a home improvement show at Pheasant Run in St. Charles this past weekend. It was two large conference centers full of people showing off their wares and completely overwhelming me at the same time.

Never before have I ever been so happy to be a townhouse owner.

"Would you like an estimate on new siding?"
"Association takes care of it."

"Would you like to put in new roofing shingles?"
"I live in a townhouse!"

"How would you like to take advantage of our highly rated chimney sweeping service?"
"Just come on out and try to find my chimney."

But one woman I did talk to was promoting something aside from home repair stuff. It was her husband's musical production at a local theater. And I am now convinced that armageddon is upon us.

The production was Night of the Living Dead: The Musical. Yes, the musical. I'm not sure how singing would work into this production. Zombies singing? Victims singing as their brains are eaten? I really don't know. I really don't know if I want to know.

So then I started thinking about some of the most ridiculous potential translations of popular movies into the musical theater format. Hell, I even came up with the starts to some songs.

I'll warn you now that some of my lyrics may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk...

The Usual Suspects: Singin' Suspects
A freighter of death, more bodies on the way!
But that dude with the gimp, he's Keyser Soze!

Star Trek: The Emo-tion Picture
Kirk! You whoring bitch!
Kirk! Scratch your own itch!
Kirk! You broke my heart!
Kirk! My life is falling apart!

The Crying Game: Song n' Schlong
What is this before my eyes?
It's a manly meat surprise!

What other movies would be fantastically weird musicals? My mind is running wild with possibilities!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): There are some stores you expect to see "pop up" all over the place. Those stores that are routinely characterized as retail weeds... when you least expect it, there it is. Some such weeds include Walgreen's, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

So imagine my surprise that within the last six months, two Lover's Lanes have opened up within five or ten miles of my house along the same road. If you don't know what Lover's Lane is, use your imagination, I'm sure you won't be too far off the target.

Good to know there's one thing that remains unaffected by the economic downturn in the U.S.


Can he see or is he blind...

My dad and I just watched Iron Man on DVD tonight in preparation for the vice presidential debates (nothing like a good shoot 'em up to get in the mood for political mudslinging, right?). After the movie was over, we watched some of the deleted and extended scenes. The coolest part of this is not the scenes themselves, but the date stamp in the top right corner of each snippet of film.

In one scene, we watched as the date jumped all over the place from cut to cut showing just how out of order the process of filming is before it gets into the editing room.

In another scene, the extended version of the Vegas gambling sequence, we discovered that the scenes were shot in Caesar's Palace... on June 25, 2007... three weeks to the day after we left from my brother's wedding... and we stayed in Caesar's...

My brother, the inconsiderate prick, couldn't have waited friggin' three weeks to get married, could he?!?!

Dammit.


But what it don't get I can't use...

I was having trouble figuring out what to post today. Not so much having trouble writing as I wrote what I feel to be a pretty good post, but I just don't feel quite ready to make it public yet. I'm thinking possibly Friday on that one. You may soon figure out why.

However, then I received a forward from my dad. A man who never sends forwards. Hell, I've questioned whether he knows how to use e-mail... or read books that aren't technical manuals or work-related catalogs... or cook something other than a bologna sandwich...

But, I love him all the same. And this was too good to not post. So here is my Tuesday post as contributed by my father.

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have $49 today.

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have $33 today.

If you had purchased $1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have $0 today.

But, if you had purchased $1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminum cans for recycling refund, you would have received $214.

Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily and recycle. It is called the 401-Keg.

A recent study found that the average American walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that Americans drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means that, on average, Americans get about 41 miles to the gallon! Makes you proud to be an American!

Are you investing wisely?

While I can say I currently invest conservatively, I think it may be time to be a bit more aggressive with the market. What are shares of Guinness going for these days?

I do have a meme for you in the extended post, though.

Continue reading "But what it don't get I can't use..." »


Nothing compares...

This bummed us out to no end.

On Friday, Katie and I decided to go out for a very traditional dinner and a movie date. Since the movie started earlier, that was where we started. And Nights in Rodanthe it was (that is how much I love my wife).

Afterwards, we were going downtown to a nice sit-down pizza place called Sanfratello's. We've been there before and enjoyed it, so we thought we'd go again. When we pulled up, we saw it was kinda empty, but there were still some people milling about so clearly it was open.

However, when we got inside, we saw a band setting up. Meh, no big deal. We'd sit in the bar area where the volume would be a bit less (we're soooo old). However, when we got up to the front counter and asked for a table for two, the guy told us that the kitchen was closed.

Closed???? WTF???? The restaurant wasn't closing, according to the sign on the front door, for another hour! This was complete and utter crap. I am fine with having a band play at your place. If customers don't want to hear it and you provided fair warning, then the onus is on them to leave. But don't push everybody out, period, by closing the kitchen! You run a delivery service as well, for chrissake! Did you tell all the phone-in people you were closed, too? How many of them do you think are going to bother coming back after being spurned during normal hours of operation?

Asshats.

We went elsewhere. To a pizza joint that had no problem staying open a bit later than their posted hours to make a couple hungry customers happy. Thank you, Antonio's!

Got a semi-, demi-, quasi-, pseudo-meme in the extended post for ya...

Continue reading "Nothing compares..." »


No one is gonna stop me now...

It's amazing the things you encounter while driving.

For example, on the way to work this morning, I was behind some moron practicing the fine art of douchebaggery (I thank you for that one, Karl). As we approached an at-grade train track, he began to slow down. I'm fine with this considering my suspension system isn't the best and going over potholes, speedbumps, and train tracks tends to rattle my truck to a level I'd prefer to avoid. Basically, I assumed he was just slowing down so as not to hit the tracks too hard.

I was wrong, he stopped completely. For a school bus or a truck carrying kill-me-instantly grade chemicals, I don't mind the stop. But this was just a passenger sedan and, to add confusion to anger, he stopped not before the tracks, but ON THEM!

Dude, I hate to break it to you, but if you're worried about a train nearing the intersection and you don't trust the crossing arms to notify you, STOPPING ON THE TRACKS IS NOT GOING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE! Typically, just the opposite, in fact. Correct me if I'm wrong. Please.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Remember that I Love This Blog award I was graced with by Winter last week and passed out to a few of you? Well, I actually received two more of them as well. First from martymankins and then from DutchBitch. Big thanks to both of you!

However, since I've already passed it on, I'm not going to do it again. Sorry. That's another 14 people to link up. Not that there aren't that many of you out there that are deserving of it, I'm just trying to keep this post short. So, if any of you want to know who in the blogosphere I think is great, just check out my Blogroll on the right. Anybody that is listed in there is totally deserving of your reading. Seriously. And I'm discovering more all the time.