29 posts from October 2006

Living dead girl...

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Kevin and Katie Apgar, 31 and 29 years old, respectively, were killed in a freak accident at Universal Studios, California, on October 30, 2006, the day before Halloween, also known in popular lore as Devil’s Night.

Kevin and KatieThe couple, pictured here in one of their last known photos, was posing in front of the Universal Studios globe when the sculpture came free of its moorings due to excessive winds. The globe rolled toward the unsuspecting couple as they, according to shocked onlookers, were preparing to take another photograph. As they hammed it up for the camera, the globe rolled over them and continued on a brief path of destruction through the amusement park.

The two former residents of Geneva, Illinois, were badly injured but not dead yet. Not until a group of good Samaritans, in an attempt to stop the globe’s destructive tendencies, set up a barricade of ropes. The sculpture, a trademarked icon of Universal Studios, was inadvertently slung backwards instead of coming to a halt. It finally came to rest atop the bodies of Kevin and Katie, crushing the life out of them forever.

Visitors were horrified by the morbid assemblage of flattened flesh and bloodied souvenirs. Theme park officials made quick work of cleaning up the mess and restoring the globe to its display. Their haste ruined any chance for crime scene investigators to examine the accident site.

Subsequent visitors to the park have noted that the temperature seems to drop upwards of 20 degrees when they stand where the couple was killed. Others have heard ghostly wails around the globe and have watched as mooring anchors for the globe mysteriously loosen themselves. One visitor shared a photograph he took of his wife near the sculpture featuring two ectoplasmic human forms standing to either side of her.

An official investigation is underway and lawsuits by surviving family members are expected. Park officials are also consulting with mediums to figure out how best to appease the unsettled spirits.

[Okay, maybe not the best, but Happy Halloween all the same!]

There's a party goin' on right here...

I heard a crazy little rumor that the World Series wrapped up this weekend.

Wrapped up? Hell, I barely noticed that it even started.

I don't want to take anything away from the St. Louis Cardinals and their World Series win, but for such a big deal event in which the "best" team in Major League Baseball is crowned as champion, it sure seemed to pass without creating so much as a blip on my radar. I think the entire story warranted nothing more than a bottom corner of the sports page of  one of our local papers. Hell, the Red Sox, when they won two seasons ago, got banner headlines... in Chicago newspapers!

Perhaps this is Chicago's revenge for having the White Sox relegated to a call-out circle on the cover of Sports Illustrated after winning the whole shebang as opposed to being given the entire cover like so many World Series champs before.

So is it just a Chicago thing that nobody really knew or gave a rat's ass about the Series this year? Were we just oblivious because we didn't have a team in there? Or am I not the only one around the country who thought this baseball season just wasn't worth squat and we should, finally, officially crown football as "America's Sport"?

"I think we shocked the world," World Series MVP David Eckstein was quoted as saying.

I'll bet you did, but not in the way that you may be thinking.

It's been one week...

Okay, maybe not a full week, per se. But it's the end of what constitutes my first calendar week at my new job and I'd like to share a little of what I've learned.

  • When starting a first week, never take a lunch of your own. You will likely be going out to meals with your new co-workers.
  • If you have a comfortable shirt with a well-sized neck, ties are quite comfortable. I'm digging them.
  • When they say "Casual Fridays," you can probably take them at their word. If I had, I would've worn jeans and a polo on Friday instead of swapping my tie for a sweater and thinking that was "casual." Jeans at work... oh, how I've missed thee.
  • Getting accustomed to a file structure set up by someone else is not easy. I'm still swimming trying to find things.
  • Have a load of alcohol wipes around to give an initial clean up to keyboards, mice, phones, desk, etc. You'll thank me later. And, no, I'm not a germaphobe.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Don't expect to remember names or faces of all those 100+ people you are introduced to on the first day. Your head will explode if you even try.
  • But do take time to talk to those who work in your office and the offices immediately surrounding yours. You'll be working with or, at least, seeing them every day. Get in good early.
  • Water cooler talk is cool. Well, it's actually coffee talk for us. No water cooler, but lots of coffee pots.
  • When you're a Cub fan working in an office of White Sox fans, it's best to just shut up. If asked, say you're a Bears fan. You can never go wrong as a Bears fan.

To terrorize y'all's neighborhood...

Halloween 13
I nabbed this from SJ a bit ago but I only now got around to completing it. I was waiting until closer to the actual holiday. Seems close enough now, don't you think?

  1. What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
    The "Version You've Never Seen" of The Exorcist. That damned spider walk scene gives me the willies.
  2. What was your favorite Halloween costume as a child?
    It's a tie between Perseus from Clash of the Titans and Emperor Palpatine from The Return of the Jedi. Both homemade by my mom.
  3. Given enough money what would be your fantasy Halloween costume?
    I would be one of the Colonial Marines from Aliens. Specifically Drake (Mark Rolston) because he had that mutha of a gun.
  4. When was the last time you went trick-or-treating?
    I think it was back in 1997 while in grad school. I could be wrong. Maybe it was the year before that during my senior year of college.
  5. What is your favorite Halloween candy?
    I love Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Although, I would love to get my hands on some of SJ's Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins. Never heard of them before.
  6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you once had.
    I'd really rather not talk about it again, so I'll link it.
  7. What is your supernatural fear?
    Ouija boards. I tried one once and it worked. Never touched it again.
  8. What is your ‘creepy-crawly’ fear?
    Spiders and cockroaches. Not much of a fan of either. Although taking pictures of spiderwebs has made me a bit more tolerant of the former.
  9. Tell us about a time when you saw a ghost, or heard something go bump in the night.
    Never saw one, per se. But was visited by the spirit of my friend Mike who died back in 1993. He visited me via my radio cutting songs in and out and playing songs he liked that the station I was listening to at the time never has played before.
  10. Would you stay overnight in a real haunted house?
    Absolutely. Might take me a while to actually enter, but I'd do it eventually.
  11. Are you a traditionalist or a creative carver of your Jack-O’Lantern?
    More traditional. Actually, I don't even really carve that much. I like whole pumpkins for decoration along with gourds and indian corn. That and you don't wind up with rotten, smelly pumpkins by the time the actual holiday rolls around.
  12. How much do you decorate your house at Halloween?
    We decorate the inside moreso than the outside. Pumpkins, lights, gourds, the works.
  13. What do you want on your tombstone?
    I'm not even entirely sure I want a tombstone to be honest. I'd rather have my ashes spread in a few different places as a tribute. A little bit spread on Hawk Hill near Sausalito, CA. Some along the lakefront or at Soldier Field in Chicago. Maybe a little urn along the bar at my fave pub, Old Towne, in Geneva, IL (just don't put me in a mixed drink, please).

Steal at will, as per usual.

Fox on the run...

The headline in the print version of an article I saw in a local newspaper yesterday read "Michael J. Fox stumps for Duckworth." So, when considered along with the accompanying photo, can someone please tell me why I feel so enraged?


After some research, I discovered that this headline was part of an Associated Press article. Of course, when they type something, their subscriber papers run with the articles hook, line, and sinker.

Thankfully, the local newspaper I was reading changed the headline in their online edition. It was replaced with "Fox's drive for stem cell research stops in Wheaton." But that doesn't help the fact that the bad headline made it to press and was in circulation with the suspect headline in several newspapers including The Chicago Tribune.

How does that one make it past editors? Inexcusable.

For the record, Tammy Duckworth is running as a Democrat for the 6th Congressional District in the western Chicago suburbs. She is an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs above the knees in an accident on November 12, 2004, while serving as an Army helicopter pilot.

I'm too much with myself...

Main Entry: 1snow
Pronunciation: 'snO
Function: noun
Usage: often attributive
Etymology: Middle English, from Old English snAw; akin to Old High German snEo snow, Latin niv-, nix, Greek nipha
1 a : precipitation in the form of small white ice crystals formed directly from the water vapor of the air at a temperature of less than 32°F (0°C)

Nothing like stripping such a beautiful natural occurence of all its romantic glory.

We had our second snowfall of the season last night. It was rather meager and there was no accumulation whatsoever. Just the knowledge that it was falling on me from above. I could tilt my head heavenward and watch as these little shards of crystalline beauty fluttered down toward my face.

One fell on the roof of my truck as I was leaving Katie's workplace. It was almost too perfect. Even from a distance of a foot, I could see that little one millimeter squared piece of purest white had taken the form of a perfect Star of David. Each of its six points reaching out the same distance from its center. Each having a perfectly honed tip. Despite the lack of light around my truck, its brilliance shone against the red paint.

I almost doubted its authenticity. How could anything so random appear to have been crafted so immaculately? Was it a piece of confetti that had drifted down after being blown out of a nearby garbage can? I looked at it a bit more closely. My confirmation of its validity was immediate... as I continued my examination I exhaled through my nose and it melted on contact.

I took a moment to examine several other flakes as they fell on the roof of my truck. Each one different. Each one spectacular in its uniqueness. But as the theory goes, no two were even remotely the same.

I never take the time to just enjoy moments such as these anymore. I always feel so rushed through life. What happened to the days of lazily watching clouds float overhead? Plucking a blade of grass from the earth, splitting it up the middle, and whistling through the opening? The mundanity of life?

Why do these things become less important as we get older?

And why am I waxing nostalgic right now?

We're a happy family...

I'm not sure how many of you remember my work buddy, G. Well, he sent me this e-mail on my final day of work here at AU...

Two friends were walking through the desert. During some point in the journey, they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face.

The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand:

Today, my best friends slapped me in the face.

They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath.

The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him.

After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone:

Today, my best friend saved my life.

The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, "After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?"

The other friend replied, "When someone hurts us, we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it."

I was actually touched and feeling a slight tinge of emotion. Until, that is, I read the next couple sentences that he wrote...

And after I write your name on a stone, I shall throw it at your head for leaving AU. :) You will be missed, but I am still going to bug your ass by writing you at your personal email!!! See you later...


Smart ass.

But I'll miss ya, G.

And I'll miss a bunch of other people as well.

This is really happening, isn't it?

Calling all nations...

Me: So on the latest Veronica Mars podcast, the writers of the "Wichita Linebacker" episode challenged the creative team at The Office to a head-to-head Call of Duty competition.

Katie: Really? Cool.

Me: Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool, too.

Katie: So what is it about that game? Why's it so great?

Me: No idea. Never played it.

Katie: I want to try it.

Me: Really? You want to play a war simulation game?

Katie: Yeah, it looks kinda cool.

Me: But you've never played one before.

Katie: I know, but it looks like fun.

One trip to EB Games later, and we have a copy of Call of Duty for our PS2.

I've got a wife who wants to run around and shoot the bad guy. How friggin' cool is that?

A whole lotta shakin' goin' on...

Something I have found entirely amusing this week is how a person spends his or her last few days on the job. Being that this is the first real job I have "left" since graduating, this is all a new experience for me.

I had anticipated just cranking out project after project for people to make sure it's all done before I leave. I figured there was no way in hell I would see the outside of my office or get my butt off my chair.

Instead how is it being spent?

Well, yes, I am working on a bunch of projects, but not nearly as many as I had figured. Plus I've been picking up and dropping off a golf cart for use by a professional photographer on campus this week. I've been supervising a few of his shoots. I've gone out to lunch with a friend (we'd been trying to plan a lunch for two years now; my leaving kinda forced the issue a bit). I'm constantly stopping to talk with coworkers across campus. I've had meetings with HR. I've abused the golf cart privelege to go pick up a pregnant coworker at her car a couple times so she doesn't have to walk. I think the few of us that are in the office today may even be going to buy Oberweis ice cream or milkshakes later today.

Weird, unexpected stuff like that.

It's been a strange, yet wonderfully diverse, week here at work.

They had some character...

Typically, I'm not a big Hollywood gossip whore. Sure, I've mentioned a few things here and there on this blog, but they certainly do not constitute a majority of my posts. But this one was too good to pass up simply because of how it was handled by one of the subjects.

According to IMDb, both Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong are battling rumors they are gay. If you recall, the celeb mags and tabloid rags were alight over the summer with shots of McConaughey and Armstrong, along with Jake Gyllenhaal, bicycling together everywhere. Apparently, they even coined a new word for it... the "bro-mance," which sounds like something that belonged in Monday's episode of How I Met Your Mother.

Yeah, so they spent a lot of time together and even, *gasp*, biked shirtless. But to automatically come to the conclusion they are gay simply because of this and the fact that both had recently broken up with their significant others? Please.

McConaughey's response [in an interview with Details magazine]? "We tried it (being gay). It wasn't for us."

That's classic! I give Matt big props for having such fun with it and not coming off as a jackass like so many other celebrities would.

If you're interested, I have a TV meme/list in the extended post. Check it out.

Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - I come back with my second review in as many days in Augusten Burroughs' Magical Thinking: True Stories and *lynne* does the same with a review of Yann Martel's Life of Pi. So am I now exempted from reviewing again for another month? Claire and *lynne* seem to be covering the site pretty well in my absence. That's gotta count for something, right?

Continue reading "They had some character..." »

But I haven't felt that way lately at all...

The one thing that's a bit different about my new cellphone (oh yeah, I wound up getting a Motorola Razr) is having all these multimedia capabilities.

For example, this is the first time I have owned a camera phone and that's pretty fun. Not a particularly useable resolution, by any stretch of the imagination, but still. I am also now back to owning a color screen phone that can play java-based games. God how I missed that.

The big thing, though, is that I can now download some of the most complex ringtones I've ever heard in my life. For God's sake, you can use a real song as your ringer. How trippy is that? One second you're just sitting there. The next, Depeche Mode is coming through in pseudo-stereophonic glory from your pocket. That's nuts.

The other day, Katie and I sat in front of the computer listening to tone after tone from the Cingular site. They all sounded pretty good in terms of audio quality. I was amazed at how far it has all progressed in the two years since we last owned phones that could accept anything other than monophonic tones.

But as I listened more, I realized just how weird it would be to have a song suddenly blurt out from my cellphone. While I hate the standard rings that come on phones, I still tend to lean towards simplistic sounds that I can use as a ringer.

I like how well midi and polyphonic ringtones can be looped. I prefer how they can be cut off at an appropriate time so as not to abruptly end in the middle of Pink belting out the chorus to "Stupid Girl."

In all honesty, I miss the ringtones from my old Cingular phones. That was when I could flip back and forth between John Carpenter's "Theme from Halloween" and Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells" (the theme from The Exorcist). They are both simple songs, but they make a statement. And, most importantly, they looped perfectly so I got continuous ringtones that I never wound up getting sick of.

I left the song page at Cingular and went to the polyphonic tone page and that's when I found the perfect ringtone (aside from Carpenter and Oldfield's contributions to the "genre"). One that appealed to my need for simplicity, my desire for no sung lyrics, and my inner geekiness.

I found this (well, a polyphonic variation of this)...

On a quick aside, what's the first thing that goes through your mind when you read about a potential new show that is "a one-hour action-comedy described as Sex and the City meets Batman." Color me morbidly curious. Hot women with utility belts? I wonder if the Batpole is used for more than just Batcave access.

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I believe it's time for me to fly...

One of the worst things about leaving this job is the fact that I've gotta move out of my office.

I do not have a cubicle like so many other people. Technically, what I have doesn't even constitute a traditional office, per se. I have a room that was built into a garage in a home across the street from campus. It's a strange setup, but it works. And, more importantly, it's all mine.

The fact that it's been "all mine" for six years now lends itself to a whole other problem... I've collected myriad bits of personal garbage in this place.

I'm not Ryan the Temp from The Office who can grab his suit jacket, walk out, and be done with Dunder Mifflin-Scranton at a moment's notice. No no. I have so much crap in here that it has been taking me the better part of the last week to slowly move stuff out.

The Beatles' "Abbey Road" framed poster I had in college that has no place in our home decorating scheme?

In my office

The "Apgar for Mayor" sign that my brother and I stole from some small town in Florida where someone with the same last name as us ran for and won the mayoral seat?

In my office

My 6' x 4' Al Pacino as Scarface subway poster that some student left behind while I was a hall director?

In my office

The bookshelf and ottoman that Katie and I so love but cannot find room for in our townhouse?

In my office

As well as years worth of toys, trinkets, tchotchkes, etc., etc., ad infinitum

Well, you get the point.

And even worse than moving out is watching as my office gradually empties itself. I currently have nothing on the walls save for the bulletin boards that are permanent fixtures. My desk has one of the normal three framed pictures of Katie and me. My wall shelves are empty minus the few books that are actually property of the university. And my only toys remaining are the Superman figure that has adorned every work space I've inhabited since I bought him in college and the Beanie Baby polar bear that Katie bought me soon after I got this job (his name is Aurora and I work at Aurora University; appropriate, no?).

I figure I'll move some more of this out over the next couple days. My goal is to walk out of here with my jacket, bag, and Harmon Killebrew baseball bat slung over my shoulder.

But, it's just really sad to see six years slowly decimating to nothing.

Workspace bulimia... the binge and purge of office decorating, as it were.

Until I touch the midnight sun...

It's another snippet kinda day for me.

Where the Hell in Google Earth is...
It suddenly dawned on me that I never revealed the answers for the latest installment of Where the Hell in Google Earth is? Maybe I was holding out hope that more people would guess and those final few would be figured out. Anyway, here are the answers...

  1. Universal Studios, California, USA - good call, Dave.
  2. Paramount King's Island, Ohio, USA
  3. Six Flags - Great America, Illinois, USA - good rationale, Kilax, wrong picture, though.
  4. Epcot Center, Florida, USA - good call, Dave.
  5. Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, USA - I'm kinda shocked Dave didn't get this one.
  6. Sea World - San Diego, California, USA - the prize goes to SJ.
  7. Disneyland Resort Paris, France - good call, Dave.

Photo ops
This was pretty cool. Late last week, I received an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a local park district official saying that she was searching through online photo repositories when she found mine. She really dug my photos and my blog and asked if I would be interested in teaching a class on personal Web site design and basic photography.

Um... heck yeah! Sign me up.

Bear in mind that nothing is set in stone. She was just throwing around ideas for a spring course booklet and, when we talk, it may turn out that nothing will come of this. But one can hope all the same.

I don't need Cialis, really
Have any of you Gmail users out there been receiving an inordinate amount of spam in the last week? By "inordinate" I mean "a helluva lot more than usual." Just over the course of this past weekend, I tallied 175 spam messages of which I'd say 90% have been about Cialis. Already today I've received 30+ spams. Thankfully, they seem to have moved beyond the Cialis push.

Dear God, does it ever end? I pray for a day when all the governments of the world give us "shoot on sight" freedom regarding known spammers. Again, one can hope.

Go Bears!
That's all I want to say. It's their first Monday Night Football game in some time, so I wish them well as they go to pound the everloving crap out of Arizona.

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Is this it?

What are you supposed to say when one of your good friends calls you up and announces, "I'm getting divorced"?

Is there something that can be said without it coming across as cliché?

It's been a strange day. Clearly not just for me.

You can take a picture of something you've seen...

I'm just in a photography kind of mood lately. So here are some teaser photos from three new photo sets I have up on Flickr. In case you haven't already been to my flickr site and seen them, you can click through to view the rest of the photos in each set using the link in the captions.

I hope you enjoy...

sunset weather vane
A trip to Kuiper's Farm in Maple Park, IL, that Katie and I took with my brother and his fiancee on October 8.

Neighbor's House 2
Halloween shots for the season. Check back on this one as it may be updated as the month progresses. These few were taken on the way to work on October 12.

campus snowflurry
And the start of the winter season apparently occurred in upper Illinois this year less than a month after fall began. We had our first snow on Thursday, October 12. Freaky. This one may also be updated with more snow shots as the season goes on.

Side by side...

I'd like to take a break from my normal bloggity tripe to wish my one and only true love, Katie, a happy fifth anniversary. I love you, hon. I always have and I always will.

So in the spirit of this being a blog avowal of my love, I will create a meme about my wife...

Five Things (hey, it is our five-year anniversary)

Five things that turned me on to you:

  • Your sense of humor
  • Your smile
  • Your eyes
  • Your intelligence
  • Your willingness to keep dating me despite our need to do it in secret early on

Five things that made me know I wanted to marry you:

  • The fact that you were the first person I dated with whom I could imagine my future
  • The fact I was more than willing to go ask your dad for his permission to marry you
  • The fact that, despite disagreements we may have had, I never once thought about breaking up
  • The knowledge that I would always wake up next to you (even if you're not a morning person)
  • The knowledge that you were the first person who made me understand what "love" truly meant

Five things that continue to impress me about you:

  • Your ability to roll with the punches (and not in a spousal abuse sense of it)
  • Your dedication to keep working to achieve your goals
  • Your willingness to try something new (my fair readers, get your minds out of the gutter)
  • Your steadfast resolve in still not having seen all the Star Wars movies despite my begging
  • Your continued ability to love me in spite of my obvious flaws

Five things I look forward to with you:

  • An expanding family
  • Continued happiness
  • Undying love
  • More vacations and adventures
  • Five more years... and then a whole lot more

I love you with all my heart, Katie. Happy anniversary.

Oh, and here are a select few photos from our wedding for your enjoyment...

Weddingshot Weddingaisle


Oh, and thanks to SJ for the well wishes (albeit a bit freaky, but I guess that's allowed since our anniversary falls on a Friday the 13th in the month of October).

Well, it's a free for all...

After yesterday's mental and emotional drain, I think today will be a snippet post... yep, a little fun for everyone!

911 is a joke in yo' town . . .
Walking across campus today, I observed a campus security officer getting out of her golfcart (nice!) and pushing one of the emergency alert buttons. Now I realize she was just testing it to make sure all was good, but when you see a cop pushing an alarm button, doesn't it unnerve you a bit?

I'm strong to the finish . . .
Can somebody please tell me when the damn spinach recall/ban is going to end? I miss my spinach pizzas and spinach on Subway sandwiches and spinach salads.

I'm truly suffering here, people!

Film processing . . .
I know I'm a couple weeks late on the stormwatch photos, but they are in the process of being, well, processed. And, thanks to Dariush for the head's up on Wal-Mart's great $5.88 prints/CD deal. Actually, when I took them in there (along with a third roll of shots from a trip to Kuiper's Farm in Maple Park, IL, this past weekend), I discovered that if I only have a CD made and no prints, it only costs $1.98 per roll. That's pretty flippin' awesome.

Chinese Democracy?
Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, they announced that tickets will be going on sale this Saturday for the Guns 'n' Roses Chinese Democracy world tour. They will be arriving on the "Nightrain" in Rosemont, IL, on November 27.

My first issue, clearly, is that only one of the original members of Guns 'n' Roses is in this band and that would be Axl. They also have Dizzy Reed from the Use Your Illusion era of the band now, too, but he doesn't count. He was just a keyboardist. Seriously. Check out this lineup... W. Axl Rose on vocals, Richard Fortus and Robin Finck on guitar, Tommy Stinson on bass, Bryan Mantia on drums, and Dizzy Reed on keyboards. Actually, G'n'R have two keyboardists, having retained the services of Chris Pitman in addition to Reed. The only person in the bunch I've heard of is Stinson because I worship The Replacements. Otherwise, Fortus and Finck are known for giving the "bluesy chops" to Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful." Hmmm...

My second issue is that they still haven't released the damn album. It's more than a decade in the making and it's release date has been pushed away more times than Mark Foley in the YMCA of Greater D.C. Do they have a drop date for the album yet? The G'n'R site doesn't even mention the album.

My final issue is that this is Axl. How many tours has he personally sabotaged? How many shows have been canceled in the past due to his antics and volatile personality?

Okay, I'm not buying into it. It might be cool, but that's if the concert defies the odds and actually goes as planned.

Meme/list/whatever . . .
I have a meme, or is it a "list," in the extended post for anyone interested.

Continue reading "Well, it's a free for all..." »

My life got flipped, turned upside down...

If only I can convince my heart to stop beating so fast...

And calm my breathing...

And untwist my stomach (whilst expelling all the butterflies from said organ)...

Then perhaps I can tell you about how I just turned in my two weeks notice at work.

Yeah, believe it or not, I'm throwing myself to the wolves. I'm shedding the security blanket I've amassed at my current job. I'm throwing my life into flux.

I applied for, interviewed with, and was asked last week to join a new company. I don't want to go into any real details about who suffice it to say that I'll be taking what I know now and building heavily upon that knowledge base.

While it's exciting as hell and I'm being given a great opportunity to learn new things and work with a great bunch of people, it doesn't make me any less freaked out. The job I'm in now is my first real job since I graduated with my master's degree. I've been there just a bit longer than six years; that's almost 20% of my life. It's become comfortable. It's dependable. I know I will still have that job each morning.

I was offered the new job last Friday and told Katie about it. We went out for a very nice dinner to celebrate (gotta love ahi tuna). I was in the clouds just floating above myself the whole time. And my elation was rubbing off on Katie. I had a permagrin stuck on my face that nothing could wipe away.

Until, that is, the next day, when I realized I was going to have to give my two weeks notice to my boss. Just as quickly, I became removed from reality, but not quite in a positive way. I was zoning out and staring off into space and the organs that were not busy conspiring to make me vomit wanted to revolt against what they knew my brain and mouth would be doing in a couple days' time.

Now that it's all over, I still feel sick to my stomach, but I know it was the right thing to do. It's a great opportunity both for me professionally and for Katie and I personally.

Wish me luck.

And antacid.

Where in the world is...

I broke my consecutive days of blogging streak. Almost made it a year and four months. Funny thing was that I actually had this post almost finished, but never quite got around to completely finishing it and clicking that submit button. C'est la vie. Will you all forgive me?

On to the post.

I warned you that I may do this again. And, even though it has taken me a while to compile all the images I wanted, it is done. Yes, it is round 2 (round 1 challenges and answers can be found here) of what I am now going to call Where the Hell in Google Earth is . . .

This is the Amusement Park edition. It's not going to be easy, so you may have to work together and rely on other people who have visited some of these parks. Talk in the comments if you need to. Use your own judgment on whether you trust someone's resolute claim of "knowing it." But I'll give you some time to answer these. I will throw the answers up on Friday unless you all get the answers sooner than that.

As always, for more Google Earth fun, check out Google Sightseeing.

Here they are in the extended post...

Continue reading "Where in the world is..." »

You know my name...

For me, this coming holiday season marks what I expect to be a damn fine movie.

That film is Casino Royale and it brings with it the personal ideal that I hold for the man known to the world as "Bond, James Bond."

You see, for me, James Bond is a secret agent. He is a badass mother who is supposed to get down and dirty, get the crap kicked out of him, and still rise up out of the ashes like a phoenix and beat down the bad guy. If you've read the original novels by Ian Fleming, this is how Bond was intended.

Sadly, most of the James Bond films that have come out over the years are not at all like this. Connery never got down and dirty enough in my mind, Moore was too prissy (although he was the Bond I grew up with, so I have a special place in my heart for him), and Brosnan had potential that was wasted by horrific scripting. Oh, and I never saw the one outing that George Lazenby had as 007.

Notice that I did not lump Timothy Dalton in this list. Why? Because he, in my mind, was the best Bond, despite being the least popular. Dalton was awesome in the role and showed a side to our favorite secret agent that we had never seen before. He was rough and tumble, he got tossed around, left for dead, etc., etc. All the things that make me happy.

Bondcraig And now that aspect of Bond is being explored further with Royale and the new Bond Daniel Craig who was, I might add, awesome in Layer Cake.

If the new theme song is any indication, this new film is going to rock. Literally. The new song is "You Know My Name" by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame.

I'm not a huge Cornell fan. He's really hit and miss with me. I like about 50% of Soundgarden's music and could care less about Audioslave at all. Sorry, I know they're quite popular, but they just don't do, well, anything for me. It's not that I don't like the genre. In fact, there are very few of Cornell's contemporaries that I don't like. He is just anomalous in this regard for some reason.

But this song is entirely badass and may make me rethink my stance on Cornell as a vocalist.

They have a teaser trailer available at YouTube for the movie featuring the song that you should really check out.

But if you'd like an MP3 version of the song, you can find it here as well; until they make me take it down or I come close to killing my bandwidth, that is. It's not a high-quality MP3, by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe that's why so many people are able to host it without a problem.

November 17, 2006... you can't come soon enough.

'Til the Sandman, he comes...

I apologize for blatantly stealing lyrics from the same song that Hilly just used for her post. But it works for mine as well. C'est la vie. Great minds, right?

When I was closing the gym with Katie the other night, I noticed that one of our regulars was carrying an issue of Wizard magazine with him. In case you don't know, Wizard is one of the magazines that comic geeks turn to for their fill of graphic novel news. I used to read this magazine back in college in my comic heyday, before it became far too expensive a hobby to maintain.

Heck, one of the last issues of Wizard I read was one in which I won the grand prize in a poetry contest sponsored by David Mack and his Kabuki comics. I got a boatload of swag including the watercolor concept art for his first Kabuki trade paperback signed by him. Actually, everything I won in that contest, save for the T-shirt, was signed by him. It was a haul.

Okay, back on topic.

I started talking to this guy about comics and how I've been interested in getting back into them (all the while, Katie was rapidly shaking her head trying to coax him to leave) but that I had no idea where to start nor money to really get into it. That's when he told me that our library -- the library I already frequent for my ritual music fix -- carries trade paperbacks and graphic novels.

Say what? You've gotta be kidding me!

Alas, I visited yesterday and discovered he was not yanking my chain. In fact, they have four shelves of TPBs and graphic novels. I only wish I had more time to weed through them all. But, for the time being, I picked up three: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, and Death: At Death's Door by Jill Thompson.


I figured these were a good start. And, since they're free, you can't really complain.

And this guy from the gym is primarily responsible for it because his wife works at the library and relies on him to come up with ideas for what to stock. They have a government alloted budget that gets taken back if not spent. So he helps in any way he can. I think I may need to chime in with some suggestions of my own. They have purchased CDs that I've requested in the past. Got any good stuff for me to start off the recommendations with?

Oh comic geekdom, how I've missed thee.

How to save a life...

I really dig on Thursdays. It is truly the one night on TV I look forward to 100%. It's been a while, but, yes, the old "Must See TV" concept has returned. Unfortunately for NBC, the concept they conceived applies more to ABC now on that night.

And this has been made better by the fact that we are now having a regular TV night with my brother and his fiancee. Tonight marks our third consecutive week of tagteam Grey's Anatomy viewing. It started with us getting Jen addicted to the season one DVDs a few months ago. Then she started TiVosoding the season two episodes in rerun before she went out and bought the whole season on DVD. Now we're all into it including my brother.

I think we may even draw Ugly Betty into the fold kicking and screaming. Katie and I watched the premiere last week and enjoyed it. So maybe we will make it a full two-hour viewing experience.

Heck, it's not as though we won't have enough food and alcohol to complement the experience. Katie made roasted chicken lasagna rolls for the occasion!

Oh, and for those to whom I alluded that I may succumb to temptation and watch the season three debut of Lost after swearing it off... fate interceded. The Yahoo online program schedule was down for ABC last night and I couldn't do a remote set of my TiVo for the show. And, to be honest, I'm not entirely heartbroken about it. I ain't screwin' with fate. She tells me no, I'm'a listenin'.

I'm takin' what they're givin'...

I would like to make a recommendation should any of you currently work in or plan on sometime soon working in the area of higher education... never, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever, take a sick day during Homecoming Week.

I don't care if you're dying. Show up anyway.

My first day back after being out yesterday with the flu has been so hectic, it's absolutely unbelievable.

I'm running everywhere, doing everything. I'm moving so much, going to the gym is the last thing on my mind. I don't think I've ever been as busy as I was today.

You know the proverbial "chicken with his head cut off"? He has it easy.

But I've gotten a lot done, which is a good thing.

I know you know...

What does one do when he's home sick from work? Well he makes a mad dash to find ways to entertain himself on TV, in books, and on DVD. And that's just what I'm doing.

I think I'm almost completely caught up now on episodes of Psych (be careful if you're at work, there's an autostart video on the page). God how that has become my favorite show on TV. And the first flippin' season is only eight episodes. Thankfully, Shawn (James Roday) and Gus (Dule Hill) will be returning with new episodes in January.

The thing is, though, that the first several episodes I saw were on my iPod and, as much as I never thought I'd hear myself say it, I've missed out on commercial advertising. No, I don't really miss your standard fare commercials. However, USA Networks has been playing a commercial featuring Shawn from Psych and Johnny (Anthony Michael Hall) from The Dead Zone in a diner debating who has the cooler ability and whose life was worse growing up. It's hilarious, simply put. You really should check it out.

I apologize for the poor video quality. Clearly someone just pointed a digicam at their TV and recorded it. Maybe a better one will crop up on YouTube eventually. But, in the meantime, you can find it on the USA site as well in much better quality if you can deal with the car ad that comes first. Click on the "Mr. Monk at the Diner" link on this page ("Mr. Monk at the Party" is a good one, too).

And just so I can fit in with everyone else who is doing it (I'm such a blogconformist), be sure to tune in to the Veronica Mars premiere tonight. I'll be working at the gym, but the TiVo is set. Here's hoping nothing happens during the recording like the blackout we had last night or the delayed start that CBS gave The Amazing Race on Sunday. We only caught the first 25 minutes of the show because they just had to show friggin' 60 Minutes in its entirety.



Sorry, that was mean. But I just don't dig on Andy Rooney. His "news" segments have annoyed me for years.

So yeah, I need to know who was booted on TAR. Can somebody throw me a bone and give me a recap of the final half hour? Please? I don't want to check the site out without having some idea what happened first.

Who in the world do you think you are...

I just read word about a third school shooting within the span of a week. In this case, a 32-year-old man broke his way into an Amish school in Nickel Mines, PA, and, much like the situation in Bailey, CO, last week, kicked most people out save for a few girls.

After some to do with the state police, he killed three girls execution style and then shot himself.

Whatever happened to the relative safety that we enjoyed when we were kids?

For the record, I am 31 years old(I will be 32 in December). I started kindergarten in 1980 and high school in 1989... just in case you needed some point of reference.

Did I live in a bubble when I was in school? Did this sort of stuff happen back then and I was just completely oblivious? Or did it happen and just not wind up as such an enormously newsworthy bit because there was no World Wide Web to proliferate it out to the ignorant masses?

I hate to pull the "Grumpy Old Man" bit from SNL, but back in my day (oh dear sweet God), we never worried about this sort of shit. We never had nor needed metal detectors at school. We didn't need state police-trained security. My parents and other visitors were able to come and go so long as they informed the front office and, occasionally, my dad even dropped by for lunch when he had a free moment. I went to school and, while I may have feared the occasional fight with a bully, I never had many worries other than that.

I would hate to be a kid in this day and age, though. There is so much crap happening that is beyond their control that threatens to take away their innocence with no warning whatsoever.

And to be a parent sweating out each day that your child is in school is probably the number one thing making me wary about the jump into parenthood. Public. Private. Large. Small. Rural. Urban. Religious. Non-denominational. It doesn't matter anymore. Nobody is exempt.

It truly terrifies me.

Why is our world so messed up? And why did it suddenly seem to go downhill so damn quick?

He would sing his, "Go, Cubs, Go!"...

Wanna hear something funny? I'm finally starting to get into the baseball season. Just in time for... the end of the season. Heh.

Now you wanna hear why? Because the Cubs, whom I like a lot, but have despised with a passion this season, may finally do some good next year. Not only has team President Andy MacPhail (or "MacFAIL," as we like to refer to him) stepped down, but the Cubs' press corps have announced that Manager Dusty Baker will not be back next year either.

Woo hoo!!!

The Cubs may actually stand a chance.

Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, good bye!

Has Joe Girardi been given his walking papers down in Florida yet? He'd be a great manager! We'd welcome him back to the Friendly Confines considering both that he's a former Cub (1989-92 and 2000-02) and what he's done for the Marlins.

Sorry if you non-baseball types find this post boring. But someone out there will appreciate it. I hope.

Roll the bones...

Make a mental note...
If your spouse or significant other is anything like mine, she (or he) does not like it when you get a Yahtzee on your very first roll of the game.

Trust me on that one.

Top Ten...
From the home office in Geneva, IL, the Top 10 Reasons I'm Glad It's October:

10. The leaves will change

9. This has always been my favorite month

8. The weather is cooling down

7. Apple picking and apple cider

6. Pumpkins

5. Decorating for Halloween

4. We're coming back to Cingular today!

3. Billie Joe Armstrong can finally be woken up and radio stations will no longer have reason to play that insipid Green Day song

2. Halloween, baby!!

And, finally...

1. Our fifth anniversary is on the 13th