News 2010

You're a sweet sweet girl, but it's a cruel cruel world...

SWKatie I'd like you to meet someone. Her name is Katie.

She's not someone I've ever met and I doubt we ever will and, yet, I feel a strong kinship with her.

Why?

Well, she's a Star Wars fan. She loves those characters and adventures that take place in a galaxy far, far away.

No, that's not the only reason. She's been the target of bullying as a result of her love of Star Wars.

It seems some short-sighted little boys at her school think that Star Wars is the exclusive domain of humans with Y chromosomes. So, when they saw little Katie bring her Star Wars water bottle to school, they let her know their feelings. I'm not sure if any physical bullying occurred. But, in many cases, emotional and verbal bullying is just as, if not worse, than physical bullying. I know firsthand.

Throughout my childhood and early teen years, I was the victim of all three.

I was physically bullied because I was the tallest kid in a K-6 school when I was only in fourth grade. Kids thought that to prove their mettle, they had to beat up on me. And that they did. Until I learned to appropriately defend myself (thank you to my Kenpo senseis and my parents for help with that one).

I was verbally bullied when I would express my love and appreciation of certain musicians or movies or TV shows or toys by having pictures in my locker or wearing T-shirts or talking about them. If these bullies in my school didn't also like them, then I wasn't allowed to. Heck, even if they did like them, they often didn't want to share and I still wasn't allowed.

I was emotionally bullied by being told what I could and could not do, what I could and could not like, who I could and could not be, and being told that I just wasn't good enough.

Katie, you're not alone out there. It happens to just about all of us whether we admit it or not.

But, I'm also here to tell you that you will get through it and you will be a better person as a result of it. Make not of how these bullies are treating you. Listen to what they say and watch what they do. And then make yourself a promise that you will never treat other people the same way that they are treating you. If you can do that, then you have won. You will be a much better and much stronger person.

And, by the way, don't ever let them or anyone tell you what you can't do or can't be or can't like. Us Star Wars fans welcome you to the club with open arms. The idea that there are girls out there that love and know Star Wars and it's universe of diverse characters as much as us boys is just plain awesome.

So keep on being you and don't ever be anyone else.

In honor of you and of anyone else suffering at the hands of bullying, I'm wearing a Star Wars T-shirt to today.

Pride, my friends. Pride.


I wanna be elected, I'm your Yankee Doodle Dandy...

Hey, did you know a World Series happened? Yup. Apparently it started and ended all within the last week. It saw the San Francisco Giants defeat the Texas Rangers in five games.

Did you know? Did you care?

The Onion doesn't think so if this Tweet is any indication...

Oniontweet
I didn’t care much either.

I doubt many people gave a shake about it except, maybe, people in the Bay Area and around Arlington, Texas.

No, I take that back. Texas didn't care. It's still high school football season down there. Baseball dies once the pigskin shakes away the dust of the offseason.

So that leaves the Bay Area.

Wait, I think I should even subdivide that a bit. The Bay Area residents that aren't fans of the Oakland Athletics.

Oh, and then there are those former Giants fans that are still jaded by the shadow cast over their team by Barry Bonds and his alleged use of performance enhancing substances. So, they probably don't care much anymore because they don't know who to trust in sports. I can't say I blame them.

Yeah, that should do the trick.

So, to the 742 fans that actually cared, I congratulate you on your team's victory! Kudos!

Speaking of sports oddities, the Minnesota Vikings canned Randy Moss either late yesterday or early today. This was a guy they just picked up from the New England Patriots on October 6. He played in two, maybe three, games (depending on when their bye week fell) before being declared a failure and being cut from the team.

I'm really not sure how to interpret this. On the one hand, I feel like Moss wasn't really given a fair shake. Less than a month with a new team is not nearly enough time to adapt to a new playbook and a "new" 42-year-old quarterback whose play this season has been middling at best. On the other hand, it's reported that it could be disciplinary in nature. But we all know what Moss is like. Hell, the Vikings unloaded him a few years back because of his bad attitude. So they knew what they were getting by bringing him back on the roster. If they thought that had changed, well they were just stupid, weren't they?

I think the only thing that truly surprises me is that Moss hasn't already regifted the Twin Cities with his twin cheeks again.

Today is election day and I still wasn't entirely sure who I was voting for in some races until I walked up to the polling station.

There were two guys I knew for sure that I liked and I did vote for them both without hesitation. But several others I was still in the dark about. No, it wasn't from a lack of knowledge about the candidates and their platforms. Hell, the more you know, the less you like them both in all honesty.

The question now is, did I place my trust in the puppies?

I guess you'll never know.

My name is Kevin Apgar and I approve this blog post.


But that don't change the way I feel about you...

About five years ago, Katie and I finally made the jump to owning a TiVo. Well, two of them actually.

Now, we can't imagine our lives without them. I can't even remember what it was like to constantly set our VCRs for shows we wanted to watch and constantly swapping out tapes and trying to remember what was on each of them when we wanted to go back and watch them.

Life was so primitive.

But the best part of owning a TiVo, or any DVR for that matter? Fast forward!

Sure, we could fast forward through recorded shows on our VCR, but being able to do it during semi-live TV? Ohmigod. It's so fantastic! We will intentionally not watch a show when it airs live for about 15 minutes on a half hour or 30 minutes on an hour show. Why? So we have enough gap on the airing so that we can fast forward through all the commercials.

And during campaign season, it's an absolute sanity saver!

We have a couple of particularly heated battles going on right now in the State of Illinois for the Governor's mansion and one of our U.S. Senate seats. The two running main candidates for Governor are Pat Quinn (incumbent, somewhat) and Bill Brady while the two vying for the Senate seat are Alexi Giannoulias (sp?) and Mark Kirk.

These candidates are fighting tooth and nail and pulling out every stop in the book in their quest to make the other look like a complete assclown by dragging their name through the mud and slop and excrement and any other nasty substance you can think of. You remember how dirty the 2008 Presidential campaign was? Compared to these two races, that was a gentlemen's duel.

Guess what? It's working. I think all four of them are jackasses and I don't want any of the four of them in office.

Sadly I have little choice in the matter. The two-party system that exists in this country makes it impossible for any third-party candidate to be a viable option. Hell, in most cases, we never even hear of their names.

I wish just one of them would come out with a simple, generic ad in which they say, "Hi, my name is Bobby Dunleavey [not a real candidate... I think] and I'm not Bill Brady or Pat Quinn." Honestly, at this point, that might be enough to sway me. I seriously don't want any of the available candidates to take office.

Or maybe I'll just start a write-in campaign for Dave2.

At least I know what to expect from him...

WineWhine
[please don't hate/sue me for using your graphic, Dave]

Katie and I are signing up for our first ever fun run!

It's the TriCity Family Services Second Annual Snowflake Shuffle 5K Run & Walk on December 4, 2010.

Why are we doing it? There are several reasons...

  1. It's scheduled for the day before my birthday.
    If I survive, I can really celebrate my birthday feeling like I've done something cool. If I die, I never have to turn 36 years old. Yay!
  2. It's a mile from our house.
    I don't really have to worry much about travel or parking or lodging or anything. And it's so close, we can actually practice on the planned route.
  3. The route map, oh the route map.
    Speaking of route, if this route map (PDF) doesn't sell you on the race, nothing will. C'mon, is it seriously that difficult to create a Google Map Mashup and make it publically available and link or embed it on the site?

 Wish us luck!


Hit me baby one more time...

Welcome to Snippet Wednesday. Just barely making the cut (again), but I'm here!

ALDI
Katie was out trying to use our bank card to buy something today when it was declined. We theorized that it was just a communication error with the scanner, but then it happened at a second place. She called the bank and found out that both of our bank cards had been canceled and new ones issued due to a data compromise on the part of a vendor. While at work, Katie had two customers come in paying by check because their bank cards had also been canceled by their respective banks. They told Katie it was due to ALDI Grocery Stores.

We had seen something on a news teaser last week, but never saw the actual story, so I Googled it and wound up with a bunch of stories about a debit card/PIN number swiping scam that had been occuring at several Chicagoland ALDIs (ours in St. Charles included) as well as some in Indianapolis. Oh yay! As a preventative measure, most banks canceled the cards of customers that had been used at potentially effected stores. Nothing had happened to our account, but it did make us wonder if this was how my bank card got spoofed last year. Hmmm...

So a tip to all you ALDI shoppers, USE CASH!

Brittany
Recently, Katie and I started watching Glee. We're pretty much all caught up on season 1 (missed a couple episodes, unfortunately) and we're up to date on season 2. It's an interesting show. Very well done and the actors are pretty good (even though I want to bitchslap Rachel Barry nearly every episode). I can understand why people are Gleeks over it.

Brittany But if there's any one aspect of the show that Katie and I love more than anything, it's Brittany. For those of you who haven't watched, she's one of the Cheerios (the school's cheerleaders) that is actually part of the New Directions (the glee club) and she is to this show what Ralphie Wiggum is to The Simpsons. Both are minor characters that usually meld into the background save for an occasional one liner that is typically more memorable than anything else in the show. She's got some true gems like...

"Sometimes I forget my middle name."

"I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist."

"Does he mean like a burglar alarm?" (when told to use protection during sex)

"This room looks like that room on that spaceship when I got probed."

"It's a male duck." (when asked what a ballad is)

This week's episode, though, was Brittany's time to shine as it was all about Britney Spears. When all done up in terms of costume, hair, and makeup, I often couldn't tell the difference between Brittany and Britney. Eerily uncanny. But, dayamn! Brittany was rockin' the episode. The actress who plays her, Heather Morris, is a former dancer for Beyonce and it shows. She's got serious moves. I've seen her dance in previous episodes, but this was an entirely different ball of wax. All Brittany, all the time. I liked it.

Kevin
I got an e-mail the other day from a guy who shares my last name. I opened and read it and he detailed for me a family vacation they had taken, how his family was doing, that his dog had died and how he was feeling as a result.

Then he wished me a happy 62nd birthday.

Woah. Hold the phone. My birthday's not until December. And, while I know I'm getting up there in age, I'm certainly no 62.

Turns out he was trying to contact a different Kevin Apgar. One whose name I've seen many times when I've Googled myself and he even used to return higher results than me. Not anymore. I've kinda become cooler than him.

I explained this all in a reply e-mail to my mystery sender.

And I offered condolences on the loss of Gus. Sounded like a good dog.

WWF
Now that Katie and I both have iPhones, we've taken to playing a few games here and there. Our latest addiction is Words With Friends, which is basically a spin on Scrabble. Just a little looser in terms of useable words.

If you're a WWF fiend, look us up and challenge us. I'm "kapgar" and Katie is "ktkat216."

Okay, I'm outta here. Talk to you soon. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


Lightning crashes...

I was *this* close!

[imagine me holding out my thumb and index finger reallllyyyy close together]

Yes, that's how close I'm pretty sure I came to seeing a funnel cloud last night.

But did I?

No. Of course not. 23 years living in Tornado Alley and nary a funnel cloud have I seen.

But if ever there was a storm during which I should have seen one, last night's was it.

It was nasty.

By 4:30 p.m., it looked like 10 p.m. Dark clouds came rolling in and snuffed out the sun and all clear skies entirely.

By 5:30, I could hear the rain sheeting down on the flat roof of the Target where I was shopping.

By 5:45, tornado sirens were sounding and Target security was ushering people to the back. I, like the moron I am, went outside to check it all out. Swirling clouds, thunder, lightning, you name it.

By 6:00, I had received a call from my mom asking if I'd gotten home alright. I wasn't there yet, but I said I was on my way. She told me that she and my dad had seen about two or three funnel clouds. They were only about 10 miles from where I had been. That blows.

By 6:45, I was home and watching the skies erupt a bit more.

By 8:00, it had cleared up and an orange-hued, post-apocalyptic-looking sky replaced the darkness.

Mother Nature astounds me sometimes. Check them out...

A storm of sorts is bearing down upon Chicago hockey.

Now that the season is done, trades and releases and reassignments are happening.

The first came thundering down last night with the reported trade of Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, and Brent Sopel along with a prospect I've never heard of to the Atlanta Thrashers for Jeremy Morin, Marty Reasoner, a first-round draft pick, and a second-round draft pick.

I love all three of those guys and don't want to see them go. Yes, I understand that it frees up $5.3M from our salary cap and gives us four draft picks in the first two rounds of the draft. And I have heard great things about both Morin and Reasoner. But it still sucks. I like Big Buff (and I cannot lie - ha!).

It's a sad day for Blackhawks fans. *sniffle*


Static in my attic from channel Z...

It took four months of dicking around with Comcast, but we finally have two active tuners on our bedroom TV for multiple simultaneous recording capability. Well, sort of...

Comcast Back in December, we got our new TV and TiVo up in the bedroom. This, of course, necessitated getting cable cards from Comcast so we could get the proper channels piped into our TiVo for recording and get all our HD channels to maximize the picture quality on our TV. I called Comcast and that following Saturday, they sent out a guy with a couple of multi-stream cable cards (a multi-stream card allows two channel capability while a single-stream card allows only one channel at a time) to install in the TiVo.

As it turned out, one of the cards was completely shot and the other one was actually only a single-stream card despite the fact that the supplier and Comcast rep (who was looking only at a computer and not the actual card) insisted it was a multi-stream. They griped back and forth and finally the installer hung up and installed the card so we at least had one stream from which to watch and record. Better than nothing, right?

I don't know why, but I kinda took my time about calling Comcast. I just didn't want to deal with them again that soon. Finally, in February, I called back up and scheduled an appointment for them to come and install an MS card. I waited there on Saturday night from 1-5 p.m. and the douche never showed up. I called to complain and ask why I never received a call. They said that since it was "only a card install," they don't call. It's not like it was an important service call like an actual cable box installation. I'm just a card-using peon. They clearly don't make enough money off me for it to be worth their while.

I was pissed and took a little to debug from the experience and called again in late March. We set an appointment for that Saturday and, a mere couple hours before the appointment was to happen, they called to say they were out of stock on MS cable cards and do I want them to just install a second SS card or wait until the MS cards were back in stock. I rescheduled. For yesterday.

The dude came out, and right on time, with two MS cards. He tried both and neither worked. He complained about how cable cards are a joke and they really need to find a better solution for people like me who despise Comcast's cable box and DVR (this same complaint was offered up by the very first installer as well). But, he had three SS cards with him. So he installed one. I now have multi-channel capability like I would have with an MS card. But I didn't want to have to pay extra for having that second card in my TiVo (they charge a monthly rental on the cards).

I called Comcast and they assured me I would not be paying for the rental of the additional card considering all the hell I'd gone through for this. Plus I scored a free installation visit and a $25 credit on my account because they were unable to remedy my problem with a single visit.

Why don't I leave Comcast? Well, Comcast is the only cable provider in my area. AT&T's U-verse is supposed to roll out here eventually, but I'm not banking on that anytime soon. And I don't like Dish or DirecTV options because when a heavy freight train rumbles through the backyard, everything shakes and I just know I'll be realigning that damn dish every time it happens. I don't think a single neighbor on my side of the street has a dish of any sort. So that tells me that my fears are not too far off. Besides, they all seem to now have a two-year commitment and, if I don't like it, I don't want to be stuck paying for a crap service.

In all honesty, despite the shit I went through here, Comcast's service has been great. The only time in nine years that it has gone out was because I screwed up some wiring. I've never had a service blackout that wasn't the result of an electrical blackout, so I'm generally happy with it. It's just when I have to call to have them come out and do something that I start to sweat.

Grrr...

Geez, my Yahoo homepage this morning is so overloaded with who-gives-a-shit headlines, it's ridiculous.

Mel Gibson to donate movie set to Mexican museum - Whatever.

Tiger looks better than ever in return at Masters - I could give a rat's ass about Tiger Woods anymore.

Corey Haim's Mom Nixes Public Memorial Idea - What?? No giant bronze Corey Haim statue for me to weep at!? The humanity!!

Are Brad and Jen Really Hooking Up In Secret? - If she is, any respect I have for her is gone.

They walk among us: 1 in 5 believe in aliens - And how many of them report being probed?

Workers strike over ban on drinking at work - Umm, really? If a union gets involved in this dispute, there's something seriously wrong here.

What will future cultures think of us when they look in historical documents and read shit like this?

I weep.


Who's gonna drive you home...

Geez, with the furor going around about red light cameras, you'd swear the U.S. Supreme Court just legalized both gay marriage and abortion with one fell swoop of the pen.

Redlightenforced I really don't know if this extends beyond Illinois at all, but red light cameras have been cropping up in many of Chicago's suburbs over the course of the last couple of years to a mixed lot of praise and condemnation. Some love it because they are supposed to result in increases to driver and pedestrian safety while others hate it because they claim it's both a money grab and can result in sudden stopping at intersections that could cause rear-end collisions.

Let me recap what is going on real quickly...

Cameras have been installed by many municipalities at some of their busier or more accident-prone intersections.

These cameras will catch people who make illegal right turns out of the intersection. Yes, just right turns. Well, I think it's only right turns. The ones that I've seen have been right-turn only, but I suppose usage is dictated by each municipal government.

  • If you do not stop at an intersection before turning right on red, you WILL get busted.
  • If you stop past the line into a crosswalk thus forcing a pedestrian who is crossing the street to have to move out of the crosswalk, you WILL get busted.
  • If you come to a complete stop behind the line and then inch out to see what traffic is like before proceeding, you WILL NOT get busted.
  • If you stop a little into the crosswalk, but no pedestrians are present, you WILL NOT get busted.
  • If you run a yellow light, you WILL NOT get busted.

(source: City of Geneva, IL)

I really don't see the problem here. Basically, what these towns are saying is that if you drive legally and follow the rules of the road as established by the Secretary of State's office that we were taught in driver's education and tested on prior to obtaining a driver's license, you're fine.

Drive legal, drive safe... what the fuck is the problem here?

Is it a safety measure? Yes. Has it helped? Arguably. Some cities have noted a downturn in accidents, while others have claimed an increase in accidents or just haven't released any data yet.

But the big question on many people's minds... is it a money grab for communities?

YES.

And why shouldn't it be?

If you're going to drive illegally, why shouldn't a town benefit from your ignorance? Towns, counties, and states already do when you speed or park illegally or run red lights going straight ahead. Are you going to fight against speed limits and stop lights and stop signs next?

If you don't like that they can make money off you, wanna know what you can do about it? DRIVE LEGALLY! STOP AT INTERSECTIONS BEFORE PROCEEDING! DON'T DRIVE LIKE A DOUCHE!

Think about it like this... if you can ask "would a douche do this?" and the answer is "yes," then don't do it!

I need to make bracelets that say WWADD (What Would A Douche Do) just to remind people to do the opposite.

Follow that simple credo, Timmy, and you'll be fine! You won't owe any money. You definitely won't have caused any accidents. And you can say you "stuck it to tha man!" by not giving them any more of your hard-earned cash.

Yes, in case you couldn't figure it out, I fully support red light cameras.

So what did we do this weekend?

If you didn't see it on Facebook or Twitter, Katie was Hobnobbing With the Stars. Well, actually she only got a picture with them, not really hobnobbing, per se. But it's still pretty cool all the same.

Yes, this is Katie with 2010 Winter Olympic Men's Figure Skating gold medalist Evan Lysacek and his Dancing With the Stars partner Anna Trebunskya.

Evan, Anna, and Katie

It's the wallpaper on her iPhone now. I've been trumped.

*sniffle*

Here are a couple more of my favorite shots from the event...

Anna scans the crowd

Photo365 Day 78 - Twirled and Recropped


Just acting like we're animals...

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

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

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

Komodo Dragons in Indonesia attack a park ranger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**SPOILER FOR LAST NIGHT'S EPISODE**

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

What's your take on the show?


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

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

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

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

Tundra

Wampa cave

Lighthouses

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

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

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

Seriously, let me know.

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

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

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

Go fig, eh?


Tell me the tales of war...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Katie LOVES her iPod.

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

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

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

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

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

This is totally drool-worthy!


Sh-sh-sh-shakin'...

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

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

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

We saw nothing. So we went back to bed.

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

No way.

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

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

Quakemap

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

That certainly explains a lot.

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

Heh heh.

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

[morbid] Coolness.


Colder than the coldest winter was cold...

We started this new year with bitter cold.

In the last couple weeks, we've been teetering between mid-20s and a balmy high-30s. High enough that, over the weekend, pretty much all the snow melted away and the river outside my office crested its banks.

Today and for the next couple days, though, we're back down to bitter cold and we've been getting a little bit of snowflaking around us. Nothing more than a dusting, really. A teaser of sorts.

I just wish freakin' Mother Nature would shit or get off the damn pot! If you're gonna snow, make it good! If you're not, stop teasing, you bitch!

Jeebus, I'm sick of this crap.

I guess if there's one good thing happening, it's that I left work today shortly after 5 p.m. and there was still some semblance of light around. No, not the sun, which I feel like I haven't seen in weeks, but a hazy, cloudy, brackish white sky. Hey, it's something.

I'm kinda bummed.

[imagine that]

I was trying to take advantage of the Goodreads book swap feature to take a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia books off the hands of someone who was supposedly willing to part with it. Basically this new feature permits you to browse books that other users want to get rid of and then purchase them for nothing more than the cost of shipping.

So I placed the order, submitted my credit card information, received confirmation of the order, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Nearly two months now since I placed the order and I've received nothing. Thankfully Goodreads doesn't charge your credit card until the seller prints the shipping label so I was able to cancel out of it easily enough, but it still sucks. I was looking forward to this because it was a killer price for this set.

I'm trying to purchase it from another person. Here's hoping this one goes better.


Whenever this world is cruel to me...

I just finished watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

First off... amazing movie. I love stories about World War II told not from the standard soldiers-at-war sort of point of view. Know what I mean? If you haven't seen it, see it.

Boy1 In the simplest terms, an eight-year-old boy named Bruno moves with his family to the countryside outside Berlin during World War II when his father is promoted within the Nazi army. While there, Bruno gets bored and decides to explore the forest near his house and comes across an electrified fence. On the other side is an eight-year-old boy in "striped pajamas" and the two develop an unlikely friendship.

Truly heartbreaking considering that we, with the knowledge we have of history, know exactly what's bound to happen and, yet, we watch the story unroll before our eyes. Despite this knowledge, the movie still gripped me tightly and kept me enthralled.

This film is based on a book that the author claims is a work of fiction but is steeped in potential reality. I guess you could almost think of it as a sort of revisionist history. Not in the traditional definition of the term, but still.

However, watching a film like this gets you thinking. Did stories like this actually happen? How would we know? IMHO, it easily could have considering the naivete and feeling of personal indestructibility inherent in youth.

Another thing I wonder about is how a person, regardless of how well trained they are, can just sit back and let this sort of thing happen. How brainwashed and/or fucked in the head do you have to be to just accept that you are taking people to a gas chamber and killing them even though you know that they personally did nothing to you. It's sick. Also, if some people realized that what they were doing was wrong, did they jump ship and desert? You never really hear many stories of Nazi deserters. At least not that I've heard.

Lastly, should this war we're currently involved in ever actually end (and I somehow don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever completely), what parts of it will we look back on in the future as having truly been a mistake? And how will history books document this war? This is the first war the U.S. has been involved in during the age of the World Wide Web when we're able to see more than just our point of view of what's happening. I would argue that there's even more popular outcry against this war than there was against Vietnam, but we're just not blaming the troops (for the most part, that is) as happened in the 60s and 70s. Whose propaganda will win out?

I really need to shut off my brain during movies.

I'm not a Conan O'Brien fan. I never have been, in all honesty. His show just never appealed to me.

But I respect the hell out of him for the stand he's taking against NBC and their plan to move Leno back to late night and bump both Conan and Jimmy Fallon back later in the evening (actually the next morning in the eastern time zone).

Conan's statement about NBC's plan and his refusal to accept it is very elegant, well-written, and humorous. And he pulls no punches.

If NBC doesn't listen, they're only hurting themselves more. This letter is going to garner a lot of pro-Conan sympathy. Don't they understand that moving Jay Leno back to late night is not a good idea? Sure, anything is better than his primetime slot and he may gain back a little more viewership as a talk show instead of a variety show. But, for the most part, people are done with Leno.

Call that my humble opinion on the matter.


No matter how I rant at you, you never let me be...

A couple of quick rants to chime in the weekend. Bear with me. Oh, and there might be some swearing so, if you're easily offended, go to some happy place on the Web instead.

Netflix and Warner Brothers
Word has come down the pipe that Netflix and Warner Brothers have come to an agreement in which Netflix will delay release of new Warner Brothers movies on DVD to their customers by up to 28 days. The purpose of this agreement is so that Warner Brothers can maximize sales of their movies as opposed to losing money to rentals.

Asshats! What the bloody, fucking hell is this all about? Wasn't that supposed to be what was so great about DVD and Blu-Ray? That you could rent a movie as soon as is was available for sale? This happened with some VHS releases, where you had to wait a bit to get the tape for rental but could buy right away. Yet, because of the lack of a World Wide Web on which we could all bitch about it, er, view the legitimate release dates, we rarely realized it. Now, Netflix, a company I always thought was one of those that was "in our corner," turns its back on us.

Why did they agree to WB's demands? Supposedly they are getting a larger backlog of WB movies and at cheaper prices. Fuck that. I've never had a problem finding a movie on Netflix. And will we, as customers, see a cut in the price of our memberships? Not freakin' likely. Please, prove me wrong, Netflix. Sent us an e-mail letting us know that our monthly rate is going down a dollar or two and I will apologize right here on my blog. So far, I have seen no such e-mail nor do I ever expect to. Netflix has claimed that fast-turnaround renters and their relatively-low-by-comparison rental cost on Blu-Ray (and HD-DVD when it was around) have killed their profit margins. Hence, I fully expect them to pocket this money savings.

Guess what?

To Warner Brothers, I can wait. And I will wait. I'm not giving you any more money than I otherwise would for your films. That's not to say I won't buy anything from you, but I won't go out and purchase a movie just because I can't rent it. Take your plan and shove it up your ass.

To Netflix, I'm going to do everything in my power to become a fast-turnaround renter and blow your profits to maximize my monthly rental charge. No, one person is not going to kill you, but if a bunch of us do it...

To all of you, I hope you try to do the same.

Garbagemen
Katie gave me a call telling me that the trash crews that collect our garbage refused to pick up our stuff.

Our garbage tag shows what is and is not acceptable via a diagram of a can with a whole other bag sitting on top of it. We did not do that. We did not even come close. And yet, Katie found a note on our can saying it could not be picked up and because our it was too overloaded.

Admittedly, I did pack a bunch of stuff in there, but it was only three inches above the top of the can rim. Hell, the lid could still have fit over it as it's domed. I just opted to not leave the lid with it because I was afraid the garbagemen wouldn't securely fasten it and it might blow away in this winter storm we were supposed to have been experiencing today.

Seriously, guys? Three damned inches above the brim and you can't take it? You lazy bastards. Considering I only make you work a grand total of about five times a year (yeah, Katie and I very rarely put trash out; this was the first time in nearly three months), you think you could throw me a bone here.

Jackasses.