The Web 2009

He's makin' a list...

I know, I know. Christmas is done... STOP USING CHRISTMAS CAROLS AS POST TITLES!!! I will make a concerted effort. I promise.

Not all of you are Twitter users, I would presume, right? For those of you who are, you know that the most recent gauge of cyber-inclusiveness has nothing to do with your ability to avoid being dealt the Facebook deathcard known as unfriending (I'm still in shock as to how this got "Word of the Year" accolades... whatever). It's all about being added to someone's Twitter List these days.

Since I'm still working on my Top TV Shows and Top Movies lists for this year, I thought I'd spend a day discussing another Top measure that happens to come in the form of Lists: all the Twitter Lists I belong to.

Sure, this is completely me tooting my own horn, I admit. But it sounds like fun.

Currently, I've been "Listed" 19 times by various folks. And I want to point out a few of them real quick.

While I'd like to be able to say that this is as dirty as it could be perceived by gutter-minded individuals such as myself, it sadly is not. She actually runs a Web-based cupcake company in the Chicago suburbs. Bummer.

I have always thought of myself as delightfully perverted. I'm proud knowing that my efforts were noticed by you, @hismuse! Thanks.
I'd really hate to see his wish-dead list. I'm afraid to look and see if there actually is one.

Well, we'll just have to work on that one, won't we?

@neilochka, I would definitely sit there and hold your hand through this ordeal... from the other side of the bars. Feel free to call me. Just don't expect bail money.

While I love being on his cool-mfers list, I think he and I should both create a list called cool-bald-mfers and be the charter members!

This is the ultimate sign of cyber acceptance, IMHO. @avitable is looking pretty damn hot these days and with his increased fitness level, I would assume comes an increased capability level in the sack, right big guy?

Can you tell I'm really reaching for blog fodder right now? I'd make a New Year's Resolution that I will come up with higher quality posts and maybe post more often, but I can't guarantee that the Angel of Inspiration will bind herself to that resolution.

So how was your Christmas this year? Big haul? Small haul?

I'm happy with how it turned out. Several books, some giftcards and cash to buy some new appliances in the kitchen, a copy of Rock Band: Beatles for the Wii (no drumkit, sorry), and, from Katie, a Blackhawks jersey (to be worn at the Blackhawks game for which the two BiLs and the FSiL got us tickets) and a copy of the Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-disc box set, among other things. That's pretty sweet! I can't wait to start watching it. I got Katie a few things including a really pretty garnet necklace. She seemed happy. I guess that's all that counts.

And, in case you're interested, here are some photos from the various Christmas celebrations we attended this year (Facebookers, click through).

But one of my favorite photos of the evening was just a little experimental picture I snapped. Not that it's a true mystery photo like the ones I used to post. Heck it should be easily identifiable. But it's just a different point of view on it. Let me know if you figure out what it is.

Apgar Christmas

Devilman, devilman...

From time to time, I find myself amused by the images that Google News chooses to use to accompany news stories. I know it's probably some complex algorithm that picks the image based on metadata incorporated into the image, blah blah.

If that's the case, explain to me what the hell metadata was embedded into this image to make it algorithmically associated to an article about Microsoft's Bing search engine?

Click image to excite it

I can only guess (and shudder) at what the "5 Turning Points" are based on the image.

I went back into Google News five hours later and found this...

Again, click the image to give it a thrill

Seriously, is Google trying to create a mental image of Microsoft as a bunch of crotch-grabbing child molesters? I knew Windows was evil, but this?

I was on Goodreads last night and I entered a bunch of contests for free books. It had been a while since I entered any, so why not?

One of the books was a comedy about a road trip (I think), another about a woman trying to bring to light in America the problems in Darfur, a third was about a female photojournalist in Vietnam. The fourth I entered -- just for kicks -- is about a woman's voyage of self-discovery... in the world of BDSM.

Guess which one I'm probably gonna win?


We care a lot...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See? I do care!

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

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

I want to ask something a bit different...

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

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

Coyne  Ochocinco

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

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

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

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

I finished the St. Baldrick's video!

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

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

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

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

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


This'll learn 'im! ;-)

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

Thank you, Typepad!

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

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

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

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

Help... not just anybody...

Relieffordads I found this ad on Facebook today.

It disturbs me for a few reasons.

One, why is it that only dads can take advantage of this debt-relief program? No moms? No childless guys? What exactly is involved here? Will they be selling their kids into child slavery behind their wives' backs?

Two, I could be wrong, but in that image I see long blonde hair, a pregnant belly, and boobies. How does this image depict dads in debt? Or is it meant to imply that all men are in debt because of women and pregnancy? Are they claiming women are the root of all evil including excessive levels of debt? That's a bold statement.

Three, what exactly is this woman doing in the picture? It would appear she is sitting/standing in the glow of a TV, but otherwise, what is this image depicting? Looks like her hands are doing an Al Bundy with the waistband of her pants. Is there porn involved in this deal?

So many questions...

Once in a while, I love scrolling through the Chicago Tribune's "Mugs in the News" section. You find a great random sampling of life there.

For example, here's a guy who was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Well if you were near a dude looking this sullen who was wearing a shirt that says "Most of the people that drive me nuts are in my family" and you didn't treat it a sign of things to come, well, you probably deserved it anyway...


This girl is actually pretty cute and looks happy to be there getting her mugshot taken. Prison fetish, I'd suspect.


I was going to ask why this guy looks so damn happy after being arrested and booked, but I think we all know why, don't we?


I have no words.


And oh so many more!

The birds will still be singing...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screw how long I go. 

Screw how far I go. 

I just needed to go.

And I did.

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

Screw medals.

Screw finish lines.

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

I need to do this for me.

I need to do this for my health.

I need to do this for Katie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

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

I believe that we are gonna be friends...

Hey! I actually did it! I recorded another video podcast! It's been a year almost to the day, but The Damn Fool Network is alive! Alive, I tell you. Alive!

Actually, I made a commitment to myself to defeat this video editing roadblock that keeps holding me back. So, while the results of this little experiment in habañero pepper consumption may not be the most exciting, I was doing this more for the opportunity to play with recording, editing and use of titles and transitions. I want to do this more often as it should get easier with time. I hope so anyway.

Again, if I only had an iota of Marty's talent.

Be honest and let me know what you think about it...

The Damn Fool Network: Habanero Peppers from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

I received a note from the press people for the Chicago Public Library (CHIPUBLIB) asking if I'd be interested in helping them promote the CHIPUBLIB Sound Off competition.

CPLSoundOffLogo It's a really cool music competition for participants 14 years of age and over to develop their own original piece of music about or inspired by the City of Chicago. The competition is being judged by local music critics Chris Force of Alarm Magazine, Jessica Hopper of The Girls' Guide to Rocking and Kanye West's collaborative songwriter Che Smith, more commonly known as Rhymefest. Submissions are being accepted until September 27, 2009, and the grand prize winner will headline the CHIPUBLIB Sound Off Concert in October and receive a package of recording studio time.

How cool is that? If music (making) were my forte, I'd be all over this.

So if any of my Chicago-area readers are interested, head on over to the CHIPUBLIB and get a bit more information or check out what else is there.

Hung up on your wall for the world to see...

Some of you may be wondering what the new "Capture Me" widget is in my sidebar. It's my attempt at self whoring. Allow me to explain.

CBS 2 Chicago is running a photo contest called Capture My Chicago and the winners, as chosen by fans visiting the site, wind up in a coffee-table-style book. Accompanying the book will be a DVD with several other pictures as well.

While even making the DVD would be cool, of course the creme de la creme is making it into the book itself. And I've uploaded 20 photos to the contest in hopes of one of them making it. The images in the widget? Those are they.

This is where you come in. I'm hoping I can snag some votes from you. Registration on the site is free and I would like to take a moment to encourage you to sign up and vote. Preferably for one of my photos, but if you find something else you like, I think you should vote for them as well. Most of us are amateur photographers just trying to gain a little renown. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, right?

So head on over to my photos on Capture My Chicago and vote away. Please? And if you can think of other photos I've uploaded on Flickr that are related to Chicago and the suburbs that you think should be submitted, let me know.


Is anyone going anywhere...

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

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

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

I was only partially wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to ChordStrike for cluing me in to this.

Where have all the good times gone...

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

This happened to me back in high school.

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

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

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

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

What makes people act this way?

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

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

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

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

Then we go back to school, yeah...

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

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

Holy shit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grab your mouse and stroke your keys...

(Sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

Where is Kapgar?
Where is Kapgar?

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

I took a week.
Just for me.

And it felt damn good. Okay, moving on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the song on Amazon or on iTunes.

Alright, already, we'll all float on...


Need I say more? Didn't think so. Okay, I will anyway. Go check out my guest post at Secondhand Tryptophan.

Yesterday was Triple Feature Friday for the ol' kapgar. Something I'm pretty sure I've never done before in my life. Yes, three movies in one day. And I stayed awake for all three!

First, after Katie finished her student teaching meetings during the day, she and I went to see (500) Days of Summer. Absolutely brilliant movie. It was so well done and if this doesn't hammer home the name Joseph Gordon-Levitt as one of the better 20 to 30-something actors in Hollywood right now (I think he's 28), nothing will. And Zooey Deschanel? I don't think there's anything I can say that hasn't already been said. She's just fantastic.

After that was The Time Traveler's Wife. Admittedly, I have not read the book yet so I cannot compare from one medium to the other. But Katie just finished the book a couple weeks ago. As someone who has only seen the movie, I enjoyed it. I was never bored nor confused and I enjoyed the interplay between Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Katie said that there were some key details left out and the ending was very different, but it didn't bother her too terribly. She still cried like a baby at the end and enjoyed it overall. She did tell me, however, that whereas the book's description of time travel kinda confused her, it all made sense when she saw it on screen. The woman sitting next to us completely agreed.

Then, later that night, my buddy Eric invited me to go see District 9 with him. I need to admit something about this movie... before last week, I'd never heard about it at all. No previews, no posters, no nothing. Then I saw a trailer tacked onto G.I. Joe and just thought it looked weird. But I went anyway after Eric gave me a primer on it. I FREAKIN' LOVED IT! Holy crap. I haven't had this much fun at an alien film in years. Probably not truly since Aliens in '86. The documentary style of shooting this film and splicing in the news and archival footage was brilliant. Plus, it was the most perfect integration of live acting and CGI I've ever seen. And the movie was a ton of fun, too. I don't want to say much about the plot of the movie whatsoever because I think my going into it with a complete sense of tabula rasa really helped the experience immensely. Just go see it.

'nuff said.

Sometimes I was drifting on a coffee buzz...

Three weeks.

Three very long weeks.

Three excruciatingly painful, truly untasty weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But I miss my caffeine.

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

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

Never again.

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

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

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

I need you to need me...

Yesterday, in my guestpost at The Dutch Files, I made a promise that if people forgive me for my hackneyed attempt at both guestposting and poetry, that I would make a smarter place. A better place. One that you don't need to feel shame about when visiting and reading.

Bigfatgreek-guestpost How do I follow up on that promise? With another guestpost, of course! This one is over at It's Me... Penelope who happens to be on what is quickly becoming an annual trip to Greece. I'm stowing away next time, dammit.

So, um, forgive me for one more day, 'tay? You'll get the normal Snippet Wednesday tomorrow barring some personal or natural catastrophe. Really!

Sometimes I feel like I don't belong in the world of working professionals.

I see people who are clearly colleagues going out for lunches sometimes and walking to and from their lunch destinations talking and laughing, sharing inside jokes, discussing business deals, whatever. They hang out after work on occasion too. You see them all the time. It's a camaraderie they've all developed. (Please note: I'm not completely antisocial. I have developed a similar camaraderie to a lesser degree with some people, but not to the level that some of these folks clearly have.)

And then there's me. How do I spend my lunch breaks? Well, besides people-watching obviously. I sit somewhere and read a book or, like I did yesterday, listen to Lady Gaga (iTunes link) on my iPod and play Ninja Town on my DS.

I swear I'm such a kid. I'm a 34-year-old kid.

Is that wrong?

Killing me softly...

Just because there isn't much here doesn't mean I'm not up to something. I am! I am! I swear I am!

It's just not... here...

It's actually over at La Casa de DutchBitch where I am guestposting as part of BlogJacking 2009.


And, even if you don't, just pretend you do and make me feel better about it, okay?


I just received the e-mail from Brandon to rejoin the DownWithPants fantasy football league!

Do you know how much I've missed fantasy football? Do you know how much I've missed football, period??

Oh, thank the maker! Football season is nigh!!!

Friends like these...

At Nilsa's

You see that picture? I was trying to come up with some cool name to describe us like the "Blogging Trio o' Terror" but there are five of us. "Sex Kittens"? Nah, not with me in it. 

So just call me Charlie and declare them my Angels. That works.

From left to right, we have Tori, Kim, Sizzle, and Nilsa, thus comprising a killah network of both incredible bloggers and fantastically cool women. And my personal value skyrocketed in their very presence yesterday at Nilsa's house in the way deep north end of Chicago. 

I'd really love to say more, but there are no words in a human vocabulary grand enough to describe them. Suffice it to say that if you ever have the opportunity, you should meet them. Do not pass go, do not colect $200, just GO.

Thank you all for agreeing to get together. And thank you, Nilsa and Sweets, for hosting us.

And I get to move two people over to my "Bloggers I've Met" (and want to meet again!) list.

Oh say can you see...

I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that not only is tomorrow the U.S. Independence Day, but that we're already halfway through 2009. Just another half to go before we're making contact with the alien races according to bad Roy Scheider sci-fi films.

But the problem is that since the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, a lot of employers are not sure just how to deal with giving days off to employees. I am off work today, the day before the holiday, since I'm an 8-5, Monday thru Friday office rat. Katie, who for now only works Monday thru Friday, but for an employer who is open seven days a week, won't see a day off. Her day off would be tomorrow, but since she doesn't work Saturdays, she gets nada. That sucks. So I'm here at home typing to all of you while she toils away at work.

What to do... what to do...

Wake-up? Check.

Check e-mail? Check.

Catch up on Google Reader? Three-quarters of a check.

Shower? (sniff) Nowhere near a check. Yet. I promise I'll get to work on this one, not just for your sake but my own as well.

I think I might also check out my neighbor's garage sale that started up this morning. I saw him out placing signs last night and, as much as I used to love garage saling (can that actually be a verb?) with my mom as a kid, I haven't been to one in years. And I'm told, with the economy in the shithole state it's in, garage sales are totally en vogue. Maybe I should join the hipness and go a salin'.

Do you all garage sale at all? Any cool finds? My curiosity is piqued.

But first, I will shower, and I will download my free Star Spangled Banner from Amazon's MP3 store. Yep, you read right. In honor of the holiday, the Amazon MP3 store is giving away one free copy of any version of "The Star Spangled Banner" that they have in stock. Just click on the link above and follow the instructions. There are a ton to choose from. Once I hit number 400 in my browsing, I gave up looking. I had no idea that song had been recorded so many times.

Burnsbaseball And, shockingly, as much as I thought I'd go for, say, Jimi Hendrix's classic rendition or one from KISS's Alive performances (Ace was on fi-yah playing that one), I instead nabbed one by Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby that was recorded for Ken Burns' Baseball documentary series. This recording really takes me back to my documentary filmmaking days (well, not that I made one on my own, but I was part of a team that made one in grad school). Not to say I'm a huge Ken Burns fan, but the use of music in Baseball was so fantastic and so memorable that it's pretty akin to how Quentin Tarantino chooses music in his movies. Anytime you hear the song afterward, all you can think of is the scene from the movie where it was featured. Just try to tell me you can listen to "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel and resist the urge to lean over and nibble on your neighbor's ear.

Yeah, okay, anyway. So head over there and nab your favorite version now. Offer ends July 6.

Nuh uh. No way. Not a chance in Heaven or Hell.

Well, maybe I would. But I would have to do some severe steeling up of my gut first. Holy Christ a mighty! Welcome to the new Sky Deck on the outside of Chicago's Sears Tower (fuck Willis Group Holdings).

Stupid SkyDeckChicago Flickr group didn't enable the Flickr photo sharing option, so I did it myself! But I still followed all their linkback rules. So ha!

Update: I did find some cool swag at the garage sale! Checky check!

Don't cry for me, Argentina...

Just a brief one for you, today. Sorry if you were expecting something grandiose, but c'est la vie.

This exchange happened this morning as Katie and I lay in bed watching Today Show reports on South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford:

Katie: Are you going to leave me and head for Argentina?

Me: No.
       ...Maybe Brazil.

You gotta be pretty secure in your relationship to have a convo like that one. ;-)

I love you, hon. (I fully expect her to smack me when she gets home tonight)

I saw this question linked on the Typepad homepage and thought it was pretty cool. If you want to answer on the page linked below, go for it, but I'd like to hear it in the comments here as well (if they're working today; I've heard of some people having issues). Here's the question:

If you could bring back a canceled TV series, which would you choose?
submitted by The Good Girl Gone Blog


Any of you who have been wanting to see my underwear in action should have been in my backyard this morning.

Sometimes, when I wake up, I don't necessarily get fully dressed right away (a habit I'm sure would be changing when Katie and I have kids). I may walk around in pants and no shirt or just an undershirt or underwear or any number of other potential combinations.

This morning, I went downstairs and sat at the computer in my underwear and undershirt. We've had so much rain and we haven't turned on our air conditioner so it was really muggy downstairs. In order to cool down a bit, I also slid open the backdoor, which is right beside the computer, so I could get some air through the screen door. After several minutes, I heard a weird mechanical chirping sound. So I carefully peel away the full-length curtain we have over the sliding backdoor and realize there's a guy out there marking the lawn for a utility repair. And I'm sitting there in my underwear.

Thankfully he didn't look right away and I was able to cover up... and get dressed. Could've been so much worse.

Last night, I attended my first Tweet Up. For you non Twitterers, this is basically a bunch of Twitter users who get together in real life.

As you know, I've met up with fellow bloggers many times in the past and have loved every single one of the experiences and people. But with bloggers, you know them from these lengthy posts they write for their blogs or from e-mail conversations or whatever other method of communication you use that is sometimes even supplemented by Twitter use.

With Tweet Ups, the people you meet are ones you know only from Twitter. You know them from 140-character-or-less bursts of random information typed and posted for the world to see. And you may not even see all of them because, if you have enough Twitter followers, you won't necessarily go back and read the old Tweets that you may have missed while logged off. Some people do, but I certainly don't. I log in and check for replies or direct messages meant specifically for me and then I read what is available at that moment. So, basically, what I'm saying is that your knowledge of your fellow Twitterer is far more limited than your knowledge of a fellow blogger. So I was nervous. Very nervous.

But it was great! I met about 30 or more Twitterers from the area and we just talked about anything. Jobs, family life, favorite drinks, why we use Twitter, what other social media outlets we use... the gamut. It really was a blast.

I may have to do it again some time soon.

Don't you need to get back in the arms of a good friend...

In a very last-second decision, I caved and bought tickets for a concert this Saturday. It's the annual Naper Days event in Naperville, IL, and the tickets were only $5 a pop with no fees attached to it at all (God bless the peeps who don't go through TicketMaster; there is a special place in Heaven for you).

And who will Katie and I get to see? My boy Matthew Sweet!


Oh I'm stoked! And I find that Katie and I have more fun at these more low-key and low-cost shows than we do at big, overblown concerts anyway.

I found this pretty funny.

For anybody who appreciates either 24 or The Office, you should enjoy it as well.

24 at the office from Twelve Episodes on Vimeo.

It's so hard to say goodbye...

No, I'm not going anywhere. Not yet anyway.

I am, however, bidding a fond adieu to one of the funniest and most creative Web comics around. Yesterday, Tony Dunn announced that he is closing shop over at Tales From Redesignland.


For those of you who have not read it, TFRL was a comic satire of Tony's own travails as a Web developer at a U.S. university. Of course, having been a higher ed Web developer in my own past, I was able to relate very easily to his tales of committee hell and off-the-wall project rationalizations. But, you don't need to have worked in higher ed to relate. Honestly, despite it being very Web based, it held a real-world, everyperson appeal very akin to Dilbert. If you haven't had the privilege of reading TFRL, I highly recommend it. Go over there and start reading now as I'm not sure how long the archives will remain standing.

On a very related note, seeing TFRL die, as Tony says, because of "The only two people in the whole world that I know of who have a problem with it," reminds me of one of my own greatest fears as a blogger who doesn't hide his identity... the vocal and highly offended minority.

I know not everybody is going to agree with what I say here. I don't expect you to. That's why this is my blog, my opinion. And, as I'm wont to say, if you want your own opinion, get your own damn blog. But the Web tends to bring out the worst in some people. It's an unfortunate side effect of the virtual anonymity some people feel they are entitled to as they surf around in the cyberether. And, sometimes, people like you and I wind up paying for it. We may be saying something on our blogs that seems completely innocuous to us, but if even one word is out of place, a troll out there may take offense and wind up letting the wrong people know about it and we either wind up like Tony who has to forego a brilliant Web comic to save his job or we just get Dooce'd or Karl'd outright.

I try to be clean. I try to be as inoffensive as possible. But I also want to be honest. And it's sure as shit not easy to keep all three of those ideals aligned in this day and age.

Tales From Redesignland... you will be missed. Sorely.

Seeing this on my Facebook profile yesterday made me laugh...

Thanks, Stephanie. I needed the laugh.

Where are we runnin'...

First off, a big happy birthday to my mom who celebrates the God-only-knows-what anniversary of her 21st birthday today. I'm sure she'll smack me later for that one.

And on with the show...

This morning at the gym (I took a day off from work), I was running on the treadmill. I kept going and going and told my body it can quit at four miles, but not before. I haven't run any more than three so far, but I had to give it a shot. I wanted to see if I could do it. For one of the few times in the last couple weeks, I hit my stride really early on and just went to town. I knew four miles wasn't going to be a problem. I could just feel it.

At three and three-quarters, my left calf started cramping up. I knew it was because I was probably getting dehydrated. I thought I remembered reading something on Kim's blog about how much hydration you should give your body versus the time you've run, but the details weren't coming back to me just then and I'll be damned if I can find it now. However, seeing as I was closing in on an hour of time overall on the treadmill including warm-up and cool-down walks (20 minutes longer than I'd been on a treadmill to this point) and I hadn't picked up my water bottle at all, this seemed like a pretty logical conclusion.

I powered through the final quarter mile and dropped my speed for a cool-down walk for the final 10 minutes. As I scarfed down the water bottle I had with me, I could feel the cramp abating for the most part. Still there now as I type this, but not nearly as bad. I also now know what to expect when I do this again.

Even with my four miles today, I'm behind on the pace I was at last week. On Sunday, Katie and I ran only a mile as a warm-up for a day with the weights and we had very little time on Monday, so we only got two miles in. Then we took Tuesday off and she worked out solo on Wednesday since I had a softball double header. But I would like to run again tomorrow and Saturday and see if I can improve my overall weekly distance... if I can work out this damn cramp and figure out how to effectively hydrate during my run without stopping. Help? Anyone?

BTW, I just revealed to Katie on the phone that I ran four miles. I think I heard her cursing me under her breath. Might've been a voodoo chant.

Sometimes The Onion's video posts are on fire, and sometimes they're not.

The one that came in via iTunes this morning though, and considering my enjoyment of hockey, is completely EN FUEGO!

I just hope embedding it here at the size that The Onion defaults to doesn't screw with the margins of my page. Oh well. We shall see.

NHL Tries To Woo Fans By Increasing Scoring With Bigger Nets, 3-Point Line

I smoke two joints in the afternoon...

I'm fearing the fact that only three out of 15 of you guessed correctly in my Two Truths and a Lie challenge on Saturday is indicative that I'm more full of shit than I previously thought. So congrats to Becky, Tori, and Stacey for correctly guessing that #2 is the lie.

Here are the backstories, if you're at all inclined.

#1 - TRUTH
Yes, that is my earliest verifiable memory. I say "verifiable" simply because it is the first memory I have in which it cannot be explained away by stories told to me by friends or family members and no photos exist documenting the event. Simply put, I was the only one there so I know it happened. All memories of my first house in New York can be explained by photos I've seen (I can't remember any part of the house that wasn't featured in a photo). Seeing Star Wars? A story my parents told me. Being hoisted on one of those giant public mailboxes by my uncle to watch a parade at the end of my street? In a photo. However, I do remember being in the basement TV room of my house in Lexington shortly after moving in and being surrounded by unpacked boxes. I had nothing to do since my parents were upstairs unpacking, so I did find a box labeled "Kevin's Toys" and, after tearing it open, I found my old BSG Colonial Viper and Cylon Raider ships at the top and started playing with them while watching Sanford & Son. No bunk at all. It was 1980. I'm pretty sure both of those toys are still packed in boxes at my parents' house. I did see them within the last several years.

#2 - LIE
Becky believed this to be false because she thought I changed a single detail. More than just a single detail, though. I did play Little League when I was 10 and 11 and was absolutely horrible at it. However, I was a left or right fielder who saw little to no action whatsoever. Most hits never made it out of the infield and I never had a runner charge me at the plate. In fact (*KNOCK ON WOOD*), I've never broken a bone in my body ever. Twisted ankles, sprained knees, pulled and torn muscles have all happened, but no broken bones. Stacey did make an interesting point about my claim as to never playing again since I do play softball currently and it's pretty damn close to baseball. Good rationale. But if you were to take my statement as it was, then I really didn't ever play baseball again. Honestly. I quit baseball at 11 and never played again.

#3 - TRUTH
Nope. Never smoked a cigarette in my life. Never even taken a drag. Hell, a cigarette has never touched my lips. Both my parents smoked when I was a kid (and, for the record, both quit) and I remember hating the smell so much that actually trying it never occurred to me as a reasonable option. If I hated it then, why would I like it now? As for pot, I've been around it and inhaled secondhand and taken part in controlled burns with local police departments when I was working in college housing, but I've never smoked one. Part of me was always curious, but no one ever actually offered me one when it was available. I had friends tell me they could get me some pot, but they never came through. It wasn't something they had on them at the time so it doesn't count, IMHO. To me, that's like someone saying they can get me a million dollars... until it's in their outstretched arms being handed to me, it doesn't exist. And, therefore, I've never smoked pot.

Oh, and let it be said for all to hear, guess inline with Tori from here on out! According to her comment, she thinks she is one of those people that when she guesses something, the masses should guess opposite if they hope to be correct. I guess that's just not the case anymore, now is it? You go, girl!

Look ma, I'm a Lego Mini-Fig!

My life's ambitions have been realized!

Now if only I could get an actual mini-fig of this. And I seriously want that shirt, too.


I just realized that my life's ambitions are pretty paltry, aren't they?

Tell me the story, tell me the legend...

I've seen it over at Avitable as well as on Renagerie. Maybe it's been elsewhere, too, and I've just forgotten so feel free to leave the links to your own similar posts. But I'm now going to attempt one of my own Two Truths, a Lie, and a Pizza Place. Oh, the pizza place is no longer in the game? Whoops. How about Two Truths and a Lie, then?

Simply put, read the following three statements and tell me which one is bull.

  1. My earliest verifiable memory comes from when I was five years old and we had just moved to Lexington, KY, and I found a box labeled "Kevin's Toys," broke into it and found my old Battlestar Galactica ships, and played with them while watching Sanford & Son on TV. I still swear that show was based on my next-door neighbors.
  2. I have only ever broken one bone in my life. I was playing catcher on my Little League baseball team and the kid running the bases ran into me to avoid being tagged out at home. The ball popped out of my glove on impact and it broke my rib as I fell on top of it. My team was more upset about the fact I dropped the ball than they were concerned about the fact I was writhing in pain. And nothing happened to the kid from the other team as punishment for running me over in LITTLE LEAGUE. His coach congratulated him, in fact. I never played baseball again.
  3. Barring secondhand smoke, I have never once smoked a cigarette or joint my entire life. I never wanted to smoke a cigarette and have never been given the opportunity to try pot. Strange how that works out.

So which is bunk?

I'm not going to use my blog to set fitness goals as Stacey is now so willing to try. Not only do I then have it in writing and know when I fail, but I know you all will call me on it as well. However I will use it to announce personal achievements! Why not, right?

Well, this past week, I ran a total of 10.5 miles over the course of four days. 2 on Monday, 2.5 on Tuesday, and 3 on both Thursday and Friday. And Katie ran an unofficial 5K yesterday at the gym. Woo hoo! We're getting there.

Zo-om-bie, zo-om-bie, zo-om-bie-ee-ee...

I was talking to a neighbor of mine recently and she related a story that happened to her a few weeks back.

She was at an extended family wedding reception with her longtime boyfriend when a table of 20-something guys called her over. They were mostly friends of her daughter and were pretty toasted by this time.

20 somethings: "Hey Mrs. X! Come have a shot with us!"

Mrs. X: "Okay."

Takes shot.

One of the 20 somethings: "By the way, Mrs. X, we named you the MILF of the Year!"

Mrs. X: "Ummm... okay. Thanks!"

Walks back to her boyfriend's side.

Mrs. X: "Those guys just called me the MILF of the Year... What's a MILF?"

And her boyfriend busted out laughing uncontrollably. Upon finally composing himself, he told her what it meant.

Mrs. X: "Should I be offended or honored?"

Not-quite-Mr. X: "I get to go home with you. Be honored. I am."

I love it.

These blogger awards just keep getting weirder and weirder. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I'm not honored to receive them. But I seriously think the creators should be given some sort of complimentary psychiatric evaluation.

ZombiechickenawardNow it's the Zombie Chicken Award, which I received from Sybil Law. It's pretty cool sounding, but, it seems that they now follow up the demand that you pass on the award to others with specific details about how you will pay if you do not. Before, the threat was a bit more passive. Sort of a "do it or else." Now, though, you know what to expect! Zombie Chicken Wrath? Hells no! I'm passing this baby on!

Rules of the Zombie Chicken:
The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the Zombie Chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all…

Here's who will pay in my stead.

Hilly of Snackiepoo - I've always loved her blog and I'm sure I've given her awards in the past. Hell I've probably given her every award in the book. And, even though I try to spread out the love a bit, I've gotta do it again considering what's been going on for her lately. She's taking an incredibly brave turn and giving her life a redo of sorts. How can you not admire someone like that? I know I do.

LeSombre - I'm still relatively new to his blog, but I have a lot of fun reading his site. He's got a fantastic sense of humor and loves not only poking fun at others, but receiving the barbs back.

Faiqa of Native Born - The lovely Faiqa bequeathed unto me the You're a Great Buddy award back in February and I'm finally able to return the favor. She is a fantastic writer and one helluva good part-time cohost over on the AvitaBritt Radio Show. I recommend checking her out (the blog, that is).

Ren of Renagerie - Also a relatively new read and a great one, too. Perhaps I will eventually get off my ass and use his own macro photo contests as motivation to get back into my Mystery Photo Contest. I know SJ would love it.

Shiny at Shiny's Takeout - He's the king. Need I say more? I didn't think so. So why do I keep going? I dunno. Must stop. Just. Stop. NOW!

Okay, time for eats!

The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil...

Unlike a lot of couples, Katie and I have a pretty cool thing that we like to do. Every Sunday during the football season, we watch the Bears game together.

Yes... together. She likes the Bears as much as I do and we enjoy our Sundays watching the games. I just love knowing I have a wife who not only is willing to do this with me, but actually enjoys it, too.

Most guys I know get together with "the guys" to watch the game. Not me. I watch da Bears with Katie.

Why am I mentioning this now? At the beginning of the baseball season? Because she and I came to a sad realization on Wednesday after looking at the Bears schedule for the upcoming season... we're not going to be able to watch football together this season.

Y'see, Katie is about to finish her MATC program (teaching certification). Her final semester is this fall and she's going to be student teaching five days a week, eight hours or more per day. The problem is that she doesn't get paid for student teaching and, as much as we'd like to have her concentrate on nothing but that, the reality of the world is that we still need at least part of her income. Yeah, she'll be cutting back severely on the hours at her job, but she will still be working. And that work will likely come mostly on weekends. During Bears season.

That sucks. I'm going to miss watching football with her. Dammit.

Facebook has this feature on every user's homepage called "Suggestions." This feature searches aspects of your profile and your friend list and makes suggestions as to other people you might know and want to be friends with.

Sure, I have found several people I know using Suggestions. But it's gone a bit overboard lately. Now, just because I went to Northern Illinois University, it suggests EVERY FREAKING USER who graduated from NIU. That school's been around for nearly 115 years. The same goes for my high school, which has been around for almost 35 years. I don't need them all suggested to me. C'mon Facebook, gimme a break.

They've also started suggesting pages I might want to become a fan of. The Chicago Cubs, the Chicago White Sox, Chicago, Chicago IL (yes, they have two fan pages), and the following...


This one just takes the cake. Sure, I like sleeping, but do I really need to celebrate my love of it on Facebook?

Hit me baby one more time...

If I receive one more e-mail from somebody in which the entire message is contained within the subject line and there is nothing in the body of the e-mail at all, I'm going to SCREAM BLOODY FREAKIN' HELL!

I don't know why I can't stand that, but I just can't. I hate it. I HATE IT. IHATEIT!

I think the next time I receive one, after I scream, I'm going to send a message back with a three paragraph diatribe all in the subject line. Or maybe I'll just Lorem Ipsum the hell out of them. Fuck 'em.

Okay, soapbox dismounted

Not all of you are going to like this, but our dodgeball team got their shirts last night. A friend of mine who is a graphic designer and screenprinter was helping to design them based on a logo suggestion and team name that all came from our captain.

Yeah, we've been playing together for three seasons now and have never had a team shirt.

We do now. And it's a fun one. If you've got a sense of humor. The girls on our team like it. The shirt, that is.


But hey, there's actually a team in our league called the "Money Shots" and their shirt has a naked Ron Jeremy on it. So, really, which is worse?

Wherever you go, I'll be with you...

Kanecountysheriff I got a little creeped out this morning on the commute to work. I was driving behind one of those armored conversion vans used by the local sheriff's office for prisoner transport. It wasn't the first time I've followed one, but this was different.

Inside the rear door windows, I could see the metal divider walls intended to keep the prisoners away from the exterior doors. In these dividers were one-foot diameter round porthole windows through which I could see all the way to the driver in the front seat.

All of a sudden, I saw a shadow fill the left porthole. As I looked closer and the shadow cleared up a bit through the murky windows, I realized that it was the silhouette of a human head and it was looking at me. I hoped it was just a guard until I saw the glow of a hunter orange jumpsuit around the shoulder and shirt collar. 

He just kept looking at me.

I was disturbed to say the least. And I did everything I could to get the hell out of that lane. I just kept thinking Cyrus the Virus was plotting to get me.

This is a bit of a fun little rant against online service developers who try to dictate how their services are used. More specifically, it's about Twitter and Facebook developers forcing changes on their users because it's not how "they envisioned" their products being used.

To be honest, some of what these developers are railing against does bug me like Autofollow applications on Twitter. However, I'm mixed about this post overall. The writer says that it's not up to the developers to say how their product should be used and, to some degree, I can understand that. Especially if it wasn't made clear upon launch how the product should be used. On the other hand, it was created by these developers, so why can't they determine how it should or should not be used and make changes down the line? It's basically just software versioning, right?

Something like Twitter was such a novel service that people really made of it what they wanted. And the developers of Twitter seemed fine with it so long as their product was gaining exposure. A ton of third-party programmers came up with complementary products and services and the developers at Twitter never bothered to stop them. And yet now, a year or two after their launch, they are coming out and saying that it wasn't how they thought their product should be used. Why now?

Am I just overthinking this?

I'm about to detonate and demonstrate...

Why does the news of my day always have to play out like a Clint Eastwood movie? Specifically The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: An Apple Store is moving in literally about four blocks from where I work. Okay so this is good news for my Mac Whoredom while spelling disastrous news for my wallet. I wonder if they need part-time help? But, hey, we are getting a tax refund, so that's good, too!

The Bad: My two-month old 8GB Toshiba thumbdrive began a quick decay last night. I plugged it into my Mac to open up a post I had written and intended to use today only to discover that the post file was bad as well as one other folder with a couple of PDFs I used for taxes yesterday. I thought it was a PC glitch since I'd copied the files to the thumbdrive on a Windows machine and tried to open on a Mac. So I checked it on a Dell laptop I had at home. No luck. Couldn't even delete the bad files. I took it back to the Mac and discovered...

The Ugly: My only copy of a Web site I had worked on for a friend had now gone bad as well. In the time it took to move the thumbdrive from one computer to the other, the entire folder had corrupted. And it was my only copy. I kept telling myself to backup the thumbdrive to my Time Capsule, but I never got around to it. So I quickly made copies of everything else that had not yet corrupted and now I'm going to reformat the thumbdrive. The site is lost, but it's not entirely terrible because I hated what I had designed. Sure I lost an entire week's worth of work, but Katie helped me come up with what I feel will be a better design. And losing the files certainly constitutes more than enough impetus to start it over from scratch. Like I have a choice.

Still, though, the pain of knowing what happened and watching as it continued to self destruct is painful.

Tell me, is it worth reformatting a thumbdrive? Will that help?

You all know I hate crowds. People milling about, bumping into each other, spilling shit. Not fun. The only way I go to concerts is if I know I have seats which represent my own personal space.

So why did I purchase tickets to the final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday, July 19?

Aside from being slightly masochistic, THE FLAMING LIPS, baby!

Somehow or another, this indie rock festival known for having some of the best pricing around -- counter to the much more ridiculously expensive Lollapalooza Festival (although Lolla does have Depeche Mode this year), also in Chicago -- managed to land The Lips! And I am stoked. I'm going with my buddy, Eric, who got me into The Lips in the first place. No one better to go with, right?

[image courtesy of]

Every silver lining's got...

And you may be noticing that "touch of grey" here. Yeah, I redesigned the blog... again. It's been a little while and I was getting kinda sick of the M&Ms as much as I love the picture. But, in the spirit of spring cleaning, why not?

I've tried to simplify everything in the world that I possibly could.

  • External links are standardized using something I forced Illustrator to make to my specifications (Illustrator and I are not good friends, but we worked through it this time). So now I can add and delete links easily.
  • Typepad introduced navigation bars... finally. So I have one with links specific to the blog or me.
  • I eliminated much of the kitschy crap in the sidebar that I've been clinging on to for so long. Save for my Hear Me list, which will always be there.
  • I created a graphic for the TUAs so I can stop typing the damn thing in all the time.
  • And I now have a Google search box. The free one because I'm cheap. So you all will have to deal with ads on the results page. Sorry.

But most importantly, I've created a relatively neutral looking site using black and white images in the banner that can easily be swapped as I see fit. Changing color photos was a pain because it requires changing the rest of the color scheme of the blog to fit with the photo. This is going to be so much easier and more fun.

Oh and before you all go running off to Kim screaming, "Ohmigod! Kapgar thiefed your ideas and design elements!" I already showed her. I will admit to you all that I love Kim's design on her blog and a lot of my ideas and thought process was derived from the simplicity and beauty of her site. So, yeah, I was inspired by her design. But it wasn't until I finished my design that I realized just how inspired I must have been. I was feeling like said thief so I e-mailed her with a link to the design to either garner her blessing or face her wrath.

She gave her blessing and said she really liked it. Honestly, she did. I'm not making this up. And I thank her for it because I really got worried that I was either going to have to change it after all that work or stick with it and alienate her as a friend. And I really like this design so you see where this is going. ;-)

I hope you all like it, too. And for any new readers who were just getting accustomed to the M&M header, sorry.

This past weekend, the BiL, Scott, and his lady faire, Becca, hung out with Katie and I. We had dinner and then went to Best Buy to find either a movie or video game to play. We found both but stuck with the latter in the form of Trivial Pursuit on the Wii.

This game is serious fun! I haven't had this much fun playing Trivial Pursuit, well, ever. Some nice animation to the movement of the gamepieces around the board, the controls are smooth, it has a cool little stat tracker that runs along the bottom of the screen like a CNN newscast, and you can now have visual questions unlike the standard board game.

My only complaints are that it doesn't use your Miis as characters and it seems to have a fixation on modern Chinese cinema. Severe fixation.

But, otherwise, it is a great game and was totally worth the $40 we spent on it.

Oh yeah, and Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all. I will be hanging out tonight at Claddagh in Geneva. So if you're in the vicinity, stop in for a pint and say hello!


Go together like a horse and carriage...

Last night, we ordered a pair of pizzas from our favorite local joint, Antonio's Pizza Factory. Katie saw on their sign that they have now begun offering whole wheat crusts and we had to try it.

She went out shopping beforehand with the SiL and then went to pick up the pizzas while I stayed home. Apparently I missed out on something really cool as a result.

The two of them went into Antonio's and, when asked what name the order was under, said, "I don't know if it's under 'Apgar' or 'Kevin'." That's when it all happened. The owner was there and, as soon as he heard the name, thanked Katie. She was a bit confused so he explained that they've received a little spike in business thanks to the review I wrote on Yelp.

YelpLogo Yep, they've had new customers come in saying they wanted to try the place due to a review they read online. The owner and his employees knew of no such review until they researched it and found my Yelp review. Since I'm the only one on Yelp who has reviewed their place, they assumed it must've been me. And I guess they're looking forward to what we have to say about their whole wheat crust in a double dough pizza since the one they made for us is the first one they made ever (it was very good; everything I expected).

Katie and the SiL came back saying that they felt like rockstars in that place. And this considering that Katie and I both already love going in there and feel like the employees have always treated us pretty well anyway.

Ah, the power of the Web.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): We're starting to catch up on some of the Oscar-nommed films that we missed before the awards were presented. Last night, we saw Rachel Getting Married and Milk.

Rachel Getting Married? Anne Hathaway was fantastic in it. She played completely against type and excelled immensely. But the movie itself was painful and boring. It felt forced and awkward and none of the other actors were at all compelling. A few years ago, The Break-Up came out and I complained that I felt really awkward watching the fight scenes because of how excessively realistic they felt. The fight scenes in this were just as difficult to watch, but I would rather watch them than deal with the wedding sequences or the God-awful 10 minute dishwashing scene. Seriously, WTF?

Pennmilk Milk, on the other hand, more than made up for Rachel Getting Married. Sean Penn? Totally deserving of his Oscar. Even over Richard Jenkins who I was strongly pulling for after his turn in The Visitor. I knew a lot about the story of Harvey Milk from watching the original documentary, Rob Epstein's The Times of Harvey Milk, back in grad school. His is just a great story of being the man you're meant to be with no shame and no fear and still break through most boundaries that have been set up in your way. Harvey Milk is a truly inspiring man and Penn played him beautifully.

I recommend this movie unreservedly. Rachel? Not so much.

Says they all know her name...

The blogosphere, nay, the world just got a little less interesting... a little less hopeful... a little less bright...

Lisa Kelly, known to many of you as Clusterfook, lost her fight with cancer last night at 11:30 p.m., EST.

While I'm happy she is no longer experiencing the pain that this despicable illness caused her, I am sad for her husband, her children, her friends, and all of us who were given the blessing of sharing in her life even if just in the virtual sense of it all.

Rest in Peace, Lisa. We love you.

Beautiful friend, the end...

I'm not sure how many of you have done design work in some way or another, but, if you have, you've likely been around to see your work undone. And the undoing was not something you were involved in.

If you're a graphic designer, you've seen a logo you've designed replaced by a newer one.

As an architect, maybe a building was torn down or some big piece of your original design was dramatically changed before the final design was approved.

Me? I design Web pages. And I get to watch as a Web site on which I toiled for many, many hours is replaced with a whole new design that I had no part of at all.

This is happening at my old job. Their Web site, every step of which I was the point person for, is being replaced. The year I spent drawing mock ups for approval, fusing elements into a final design, selecting photos, transforming that design into multiple template pages, transferring all the data from the previous design (that I also developed) to the new one... it's all going down the drain. And I'm a bit wistful as a result.

Sure, my design wasn't the greatest. Nor was it the most compliant (by a long shot). Nor was it many things. But what it was is mine. My handiwork is all over that damn site and now it's going to be dead and buried. I can no longer even refer to the site on my resume as what people would find wouldn't be the same site I worked on.

So, damn right I'm sad.

Here's the homepage of the site I developed...


And here's what is replacing it...


Maybe it's the sentimentality speaking, but I prefer my design.

C'est la vie.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I have 120 pages of Eclipse (third book in the Twilight series) left to read and then I'm taking another break before tackling the fourth. I've been struggling my way through the third book for a couple months now. I thought for certain I would finish it before going to New Hampshire, but it didn't happen.

Now, though, I have motivation. Or I hope it works out to be motivation. You see, the latest from the greatest is now out and I'm dying to read it...


Woo hoo!

And I will try to fix you...

Birthday-cupcake A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Katie! Woo hoo! I love you, hon.

And now the revelation that she's at home sick for it. In fact, she's been sick all weekend. I swear it's a bit of a curse for us lately, those blasted holidays. I was sick last Easter, she and I traded off over Christmas, and now she's sick for Valentine's Day and her birthday. I think I'm next in the queue and it appears as though Easter is the next viable holiday that can be illness ridden. Oh yay! Can't wait.

So, um, yeah, it was a pretty uneventful weekend. Katie was too tired and sore to go anywhere so we stayed in. But she slept a lot of the weekend so I watched some TV and movies, cleaned within reason (nothing noisy that would wake her up), and I fixed a few things online.

For one, I weeded through my Twitter following list and eliminated about 20 people I was following. There were several groups and whatnot that I had followed that I feel just weren't worth following because I never really paid much attention to their Tweets. So what's the purpose, right?

I also ditched my MyBlogLog profile and services box as I discovered that FriendFeed offers many more services in their repertoire to which I can link including three that I had to list outside the MBL box because, despite my suggestions, they never added them as services (Plurk, Vimeo and Goodreads). And I can eliminate the profile information to make it just a box of service links. So I've got that going.

Lastly, I finally fixed up my blogroll. It's a static page on my blog now instead of being the pop-out box with the Blogrolling list. It's been nearly half a year since Blogrolling went down and I'm sick of waiting. I found a half dozen broken links and another half dozen links to dead blogs. Plus there were several I wanted to add that are newer finds. So I played and now I think it's all good. If you happen to notice any screwed-up links in there, let me know. Typepad did some funky things to my HTML so some may still not be good or some may have gone kablooie. The two caveats I have are that if you have announced you are leaving the blogosphere (or you already have) or you have not posted in calendar year 2009 yet, I did not post a link.