Work 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Ladies and gentlemen, these snakes are slitherin'...

I looked over at my wife in the car last night on the way home from the gym and thought to myself, "who the hell are you and what have you done with my wife?"

A little background might be nice, eh?

[rewind the scene a minute or so]

Katie: So your Star Trek movie comes out this weekend, doesn't it?

Me: I think so. Why?

Katie: Okay, I'll go see it with you.

Me: Huh? Where'd that come from?

Katie: I dunno, but I'll see it with you.

Me: You don't have to do that, y'know. I'm more than willing to see it by myself.

Katie: No, I'll go with you.

Me: Really? You sure?

Katie: Yeah.

Me: Why?

Katie: I dunno. I just will.

Me: Okay. Cool.

My wife, who has, I believe, never seen any Star Trek film or TV show, is suddenly willing to go see this new film with me. She had no desire before and I couldn't blame her. It's geek porn, plain and simple. And yet, much like Adam, I'm not even really a Trekkie, but I still think it looks cool and want to see it. But I never even was going to ask Katie because I knew, well in advance, what her answer would be, so why bother?

Then this. I'm still curious why. Is she afraid I'm going to run away with some she-Trekkie I run into at the theater? Is she writing her own blog that I don't know about called "My Geeky Husband" in which she is going to chronicle the childlike awe she's expecting me to put display in the theater complete with hidden video (I'd read it)? I'm lost as to where this came from. Complete left field here. And after being so adamantly against seeing it.

Speaking of "adamant(ium)ly," if you want further evidence to support my theory that aliens have abducted Katie and replaced her with a lookalike with a scifi penchant, try this one on for size... she saw Wolverine with me on Sunday. Now you believe me, don't you?

I guess this one is a bit more understandable, though, since it has Ryan Reynolds (albeit in a far-too-small role, as noted by Crys) and Taylor Kitsch. But it's still Wolverine. She's never read an X-Men comic (not that I have, either) and has never seen any of the films and, much like Trek, she always said she had no desire. And, yet, here she was with me in line buying tickets and watching in rapt awe at the screen. Guess what... she enjoyed it! Not one of her faves, by far. But she liked it. She even expressed an interest in watching the original X-Men with me again to see how well the two films flow together.

Has my wife gone geek? Beyond just marrying me, that is.

Should I push my luck and see if she'll finally watch Star Wars with me?

Should I just accept it for what it is? A wife becoming tangentially interested in that which interests her husband?

Or should I worry that some nefarious plot has been set in motion?

I made a new friend while on a walk yesterday during my lunch break. However, he's not the kind of friend you just take home and introduce to everyone. He's kinda timid and likes his privacy. If you get too close, he might get a little pissy... or hissy, as the case may be.

I had my camera with me on my walk and was taking some pictures of flowers near where I work. I ran into another friend who suggested I snap some pics of a plant in a little garden area so I descended the stairs and, just as she was about to follow me, she stopped and said, "SNAKE!"

Yep, there he was, coiled around himself right beside one of the stairs I was just walking on. I think at his fattest point, he was about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half in diameter. Uncoiled, I'd guess he hits about three to four feet long.

I'm used to seeing garter snakes in the area and even some small snakes swimming in the river just 10 feet away, but never ones this big just sitting there. I think he was asleep, but his eyes were open. I wasn't going to ask.

Anybody out there with snake experience want to help identify him? I've got him loosely pegged as a Cottonmouth.

Update: Local Animal Control ID'd it as a Brown Watersnake.



The rest of the photos are available on Flickr.

I'll cry if I want to...

As a blogger and general Web nut, one of the things I struggle with is trying to figure out what my audience will enjoy and what they won't. No, this does not translate to me fabricating things I think you'll like or skipping information that I fear might go over like a lead balloon. But I do sit here and try to figure out, as I'm posting something, if it will be liked or not. It's mostly to satisfy my own morbid curiosity. I'll still post it regardless of the answer, but I still wonder all the same.

And typically I'm so off the mark it's ridiculous.

For example, I might've taken a lot of time to compose a photo for posting on Flickr. I try to get it just right in hopes of making it look good. I get some views and comments and whatnot and then it just fades into oblivion after a couple days.

Then, I follow it up with a photo for which I have no time to plan. Often, I just grab a camera and snap a quick photo like when I see something while driving such as this jalopy I dubbed "Crap Car."

Crap car

This, of all the 1,867 photos I've taken and posted on Flickr, is the most viewed image on my account. And it's only been posted for a year. As you can tell, it was snapped while driving, it's not well framed, not particularly interesting in terms of visual appeal, and is basically just a last-second photo taken to prove to myself later that I actually did see this car (I've seen it a couple times since then too).

Now this photo is at the top of the results when performing a Google Image Search for "Crap Car." Even when I post entirely new photos on a given day, this one is still the top daily view. Well, I take that back. Occasionally it alternates with a photo I (innocently, at the time) titled "Wet Clothes." Gee, can't figure out why that one gets hits.

I just don't get it. You people are so weird.

But I still love ya.

I was having a lot of frustration with my work computer over the last week. Yes, it's a Windows machine and, being a Mac lover, it gets tough dealing with it. But I have plenty of years of experience with PCs and Windows dating back to the ol' OS2 days (thank you very much Suzi... you and your PEBKAC claims... plllllbbtttttttt!!!). I know how to handle myself with Windows; I just prefer not to.

Anyway, a couple days ago, I'm trying to get involved in a Webinar using Microsoft Office Live Meeting. I've done plenty of Webinars with Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro and Citrix GoToMeeting and they've worked flawlessly. I didn't even need to download anything to make them work. They just... did.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting, on the other hand...

At one point, I got a pop-up from Internet Explorer (no, it won't work in Firefox; surprise, surprise) as I was about to download a plug-in to make MOLM run. It read, in typical Microsoft fashion, that the plug-in was from an unknown source and asked me if I wanted to "trust" it.

The kicker... the maker of the plug-in was Microsoft. They don't even trust their own products. Oy!

Oh, and I never got it working. Not in time anyway.

You can comb my hair, undress me anywhere...

I feel so dirty.

I had to Photoshop a head-and-shoulders photo of a woman I know personally for use on a Web page I was putting together. She's a nice girl and cute, but the photo needed some help. Not her so much as the quality of the photograph. Bad shadows cast by the flash, some visual blur, and the person who took the photo forgot to turn off the dreaded date/time stamp.

Shadows? Not a problem.

Blur? Sharpened up a bit and the rest of it was resolved by cropping it down to a Web-usable size.

The date/time stamp? Well that took some use of the rubber stamp tool in Photoshop. I would have to sample some surrounding areas and fill over where the text stood out in bright orange against her dark sweater.

Oh, and did I mention that the stamp was right across her, um, boobs? Yes, I said "boobs." And I was zoomed in tight, as I always am when rubber stamping in Photoshop, in order to maintain as much detail as possible.

It was disconcerting.

I'm not sure I can ever look at her the same way again.

Help! Help! I'm being followed by the Illinois House Republicans (@ILHGOP).

They're on Twitter and they're following me!! Help!

Into the great wide open...

Today is my travel day. I get to fly into Manchester, N.H., and then grab a shuttle into Nashua.

NewhampshireBut I feel the need to clarify one thing. After re-reading some of my earlier posts about this trip, I realize it may come off that I'm feeling a bit negative about traveling to New Hampshire. That I think it's not going to be fun or beautiful or whatnot.

This is simply not the case. I'm actually very much looking forward to seeing New Hampshire. It is one of only two states east of the Mississippi River I've never visited (the other being Maine). And, having lived in New England (a few years in Connecticut), I know how beautiful it is out there.

My only regret regarding this trip is that I'm not going out there in the fall when all the leaves are changing and the true beauty of New England shines. Instead, the weather report for that area is predicting 4-8" of snow. I hope this doesn't delay my arrival or my subsequent return home this Friday.

Okay, two regrets... that Katie's not going with me. She's too busy with work and school, so she has to stay behind and this bums me out. I hate traveling without her. Especially since she's never been to New England at all.

But I'm going and I know I'm going to enjoy it and I'm going to eat some fresh seafood and take lots of pictures and that I'm likely going to make it a point to return, but this time with Katie.

So, bring it on, New Hampshire! Let's rock.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm a bit rusty here, but does this e-mail mean that Tibor accepted my friend request or did he tell me to bugger off?


Any creative translations from all of you?

Working class hero...

I think one of my favorite things about smart phones as opposed to standard cell phones is actually one of the most basic features of them... the ability to store all kinds of information about your contacts and have it right there at your fingertips.

I love having people's names, phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, anniversaries, Web site addresses, etc., all right there.

But even better than this is when you don't actually know some of these details for people. For example, I have contact information for some of you, my fair readers, from having contacted you in the past for meet ups or just random chats. Or maybe I've mailed you something at one point in time or another. Whatever the case may be, I have some random tidbits about some of you on my phone.

And, since I don't necessarily have all the information I need to fill out your profiles on my BlackBerry, I get creative. Shall we check out a few examples?

Everybody's blog buddy ("blogdy"? "bluddy"?) Dave at Blogography is in there. I have a bunch of his personal information because, y'know, I'm in the first circle of Dave friend-dom. We have, after all, shared a Depeche Mode concert together. However, even though he's told me who he works for, I'll be damned if I can remember. So I have his employer listed as "Davetopia" and his job is officially "Monkey Trainer," although we all know there is no training Bad Monkey.

Adam (happy belated birthday, BTW) over at Avitable is another one I've met up with. Therefore, I have his phone number and the like. I also know what he does for a living and that he owns his company, but, again, I'll be damned if I can remember the name of it. So he's listed as "Owner & Miss Britt's Sugar Daddy" at "Avitable, Inc." Seems to work for me.

Our fair Hilly... now why the hell do I have her home address? Was it from my stalker days? Perhaps. Well anyway. She's in my phone as the "Queen" of the "People's Republic of Blogistan." It's true and we all hail her on a daily basis.

Karl at Secondhand Tryptophan is simply listed as "Paid Blogger... Bastard" whose paychecks are signed by "Famecrawler." Livin' the dream, man. Livin' the dream. 'nuff said.

I also just added details to Marty at Banal Leakage. He's now "Genius Amongst Mere Mortals" at "Renaissance Men, LLC." You'll see why below in the TUA.

But I need your help on some. I have a few other names you might recognize on my phone that need creative companies and job titles. Snark is welcome. Care to help? Here's the list:

  • Nilsa at SoMi
  • MochaMomma (yes, she's listed under her real name; Katie might start to wonder if she scrolled through my address book and saw "MochaMomma," don't you think?)
  • Tori at Radioactive Tori
  • Sizzle of Sizzle Says

Anybody else want to see themselves listed? Let me know.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I've been doing some research on what there is to do in Nashua, NH, when I'm there next week. Yeah, it's not so hypothetical as I let on. But I was waiting to make sure everything was booked. And now it is.

Well, there are places to shop and the downtown is said to be a really nice, quaint sort of downtown shopping district. Some places look kinda interesting and I might have to check them out. For example, there is a homebrew beer supply store. Maybe they offer lessons. Plus there is a camera supply shop and I also saw something about a comic shop.

But the shocker of it all is that I will be a mere hour or so from the Atlantic Ocean and just a little further than that from Maine, home of Maine Lobster (or so one might assume), and Nashua has only one seafood place that I could find listed on their tourism Web site. 

There are more seafood restaurants in pathetically landlocked Geneva, IL! In equally landlocked Naperville, IL, I can throw a stone in any direction and I'm pretty sure I'd hit a place that serves seafood.

What gives?

I guess it's a good thing I now have Gmail video chatting set up on both Katie's and my laptops. Because I'm sure I will be spending a lot of time talking to her. So long as I have a reliable WiFi connection. And I have Marty of Banal Leakage to thank for helping me set it all up. It works flawlessly and I get the feeling we'll be using it more often than we should.

But I just don't want to go all the way out to Nashua, N.H., and spend my free time in a shopping mall. If Nashua is anything like a lot of the small towns in Illinois, a lot of the little mom-n-pop shops may close by the time I get out of training.