24 posts from February 2007

The weather outside is frightful...

I'll be honest with you, I've always enjoyed winter. I love the tranquility of snowfall, the beauty of fresh-fallen snow, the excitement of a snowball fight, the thrill of sledding down a snow-covered hill, cuddling up with Katie with mugs of hot chocolate... Yeah, you get the idea.

Despite this "love," I have to admit that I have hated this winter and I want it GONE. Is there enough room in the cyberether for me to detail just why I hated what is typically my most joyous of seasons? Well, I'll try to limit myself a bit.

  • No snow on Christmas - that's a big one for me.
  • Idiot drivers - are more in abundance this year than in past it seems; does the DMV work on a quota system?
  • Late season snow - we nearly had a record-breaking February here in Chicagoland.
  • Imbecile plows - the other morning, just as I'm getting ready to go to the gym, the plow blocks me in with two-foot-round sleet/snow bricks. I didn't need to work out after all the lifting I did to get rid of them.
  • More imbecile plows - the grounds crew at our townhouse can't plow for crap when they actually remember to do it.
  • Foam snow - this is that snow that's like a brick of styrofoam; it's not flaky, it's not wet, and you can't do anything with it except hope it will melt; and we've had plenty of it.
  • The inability to grill - our grill has been snowed in all winter long; we've actually broken out the Foreman grill, it's that bad.
  • Windshield wiper fluid - you can fill your wiper fluid reservoir once and make it last all spring, summer, and fall; but it sucks its way through three or four gallons in a matter of a few months during the winter.
  • Salt streaks - are all over the place during the winter... my truck, Katie's car, sides of buildings, sidewalks, etc. and they always manage to find some way to transfer from these locations to the butt of my dark work pants.
  • Weathercasters - if ever there is a time of year in which to measure their ineptitude, it's the winter; they can never forecast snow correctly.
  • Black ice - you never see it coming until you've fishtailed nearly 180 degrees and come this close to causing a pileup.
  • Stuck in the gym - I just want to go for a walk or a jog or a bike ride... but no!
  • Bright mornings - no, the sun is no brighter than it usually is, it's just amplified by the whiteness of the snow and it makes for painful early morning wakeup calls.
  • Nasty garages - all that crap that collects on the underbelly of your car has to wind up somewhere, right? And that somewhere is the floor of our garage.
  • Cold starts - my truck is nine years old. To paraphrase Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, it's getting too old for this crap.

I know there's more and I'll likely think about it as soon as I post this. But this isn't a bad list at all. Well, not "bad" as in it's not too short. Literally speaking, it is a very bad list.

I just want winter done. Is that too much to ask?

Please wait at the gate of heaven for me, Terry...

I love when you can walk into a bookstore and have a very good conversation with one of the clerks that results in the purchase of a new book that I can't wait to read. I'm sure the people that do the books at the store also love when that happens. Retail... you gotta love it.

Anyway, I went into my bookstore the other day and started talking to one of the clerks about some books. I told her how I was going to be #1 in line for Christopher Moore on April 3. She told me she just started reading him (so far, only Fluke and Bloodsucking Fiends). This was when I told her she must read Lamb and she must buy it now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200... just buy it.

Her: Oh, so you like dark humor? Just some good witty fun? Perhaps the occasional bit of social commentary?

Me: Um... yeah!

Her: Okay, then you need to read some Neil Gaiman.

Me: I already am. Just finished Anansi Boys and I've got copies of Smoke and Mirrors and American Gods.

Her: Ah, but you don't have the best.

Me: The best?

Her: The best.

Me: Hit me.

Her [to another sales clerk]: Tell him about Good Omen.

Clerk 2: OH GAWD!!!!

After a blur of talk about Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's coauthoring of a book about the Apocalypse and angels and demons and all the sort of stuff I love, I was finally able to chime back in.

Me: Oh yeah, a couple of friends just recommended Pratchett to me the other day. They were telling me about Mort and Guards! Guards!

Her: Oh yeah, GREAT stuff! But if you want to start with a nice transition book, then Good Omen is the way to go! Especially since you're already familiar with Gaiman. Do you want the black cover with the angel or the white cover with the demon?

Me [closing my eyes]: You pick it for me.

Yes, I wound up with a new book and one I can't wait to read, but I need to read You Suck first. The signing is only a month away and with how slowly I've been reading, I know I'll need to leave myself some time so I can actually know what he's talking about this time.

Oh yeah, she picked the black cover.

On a related aside, Fun With Dead Trees is not turning out the way I had hoped. Reading time has been scarce for me and my two fellow reviewers, Lynne and Claire. So new reviews are minimal. And there is no better way to lose readers than by not posting on a semi-regular basis. You can't always help it when it comes to scheduling. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all.

So, I had an idea to give the site a little boot in the butt. I came up with it a few months ago but put it on the back burner until Hilly started up her Snackie Teevee site, which was basically the same sort of idea with TV that I wanted to do with books.

In addition to reviews, I also want authors on FWDT to just be able to put up general talk about books. Have posters discuss upcoming book releases, signings, rumors, general perceptions of the book industry, personal reading habits, etc. Anything you can think of so long as it's book related.

How's this idea sound to all of you? Would you be interested in reading these sorts of posts there?

Would any of you be interested in becoming a poster at FWDT if it were opened up to more than just reviews?

Did you hear it? I'm sold...

I think I may finally have this sale thingie ready to go. Well, everything but the books and video games anyway. Those will be coming later this week.

Here's how it will happen. These items will be sold on a first-come/first-served basis. If you want it, call it in the comments. No e-mails, no phone calls. It will be much easier for me to gauge who has first dibs if all requests are in one place.

I will take PayPal and money orders. Shipping will have to be figured out separately once you decide on what you want. As much as a few of you may not like this, I think I'm going to have to limit it to the U.S. and Canada. Anything outside of those two will give me importation/customs issues (not that customs isn't an issue in Canada, but it's easier to work around) and there's the international shipping, too.

So far as I can tell from having used this stuff, all of it is in good working order. We've never had a problem with any of them. But let me know if you have problems. I am working on an honor system here.

The only thing we ask is that you don't ask questions about them. Not in the "did you obtain these illegally" sense; we did get them all legally. I mean, just don't ask about why we're selling them or, in some cases, why we bought them in the first place. Everyone goes through phases in their lives, right? As for the CDs, most are on our computer, so we don't have much need for the physical disc anymore.

UPDATE (4/11/07): The sale is closed and no items are listed.

And I've forgotten what I wanted...

In hindsight, just buying the stupid CD would have been so much easier.

Snowpatroleyesopen Back in, let's say, September, I was listening to Snow Patrol's Final Straw a bit. Pretty good album. I also knew they had a follow up album, Eyes Open, out on the market. I wanted to listen to it, but I wasn't sure I wanted to go so far as to actually buy it. This was one of those borderline purchase CDs for me.

So I did what I normally do, I went to the library's Web site to try to find it. My library didn't have it, but others in the network did. However, being a new release CD, they wouldn't allow it to go out on interlibrary loan. Thankfully, when you are denied a hold request on the library's site, they offer you the option of requesting that your own branch purchase a copy of whatever it is that you want and I did just that.

A few weeks later, I receive notification via e-mail that my purchase request is in and I can pick up the CD. I was a happy camper.

However, things happened over the next few days and I was unable to get over to the library to pick it up. So they wound up taking it off hold and putting it back in circulation. And, just as anyone might expect, there were dozens of people waiting to check out the CD... my CD.

So I put my name back on the hold request list, and forgot about it.

Nearly five months later, I receive notification that my CD is finally available for me to check out. Again, happy camper status commences.

This time, though, I get to the library within 24 hours. I'm not waiting several months again.

I return home to load my prize onto my computer only to discover that the disc, in those mere few months, had been scratched up so badly, my iMac won't read it.


I return to the library and explain the situation and ask if there is any way they can clean the CD (yes, they have a scratch remover) and place another hold for me, but, because of this unique situation, can they bump my hold to the top of the list? The librarian says she will do what she can, I thank her and leave for the night.

Two days later, another e-mail comes in saying that the CD is, yet again, available for me to check out. So I picked it up last night and just finished loading it on my computer about three minutes ago.

I have no idea why I tortured myself like this trying to get a CD. Perhaps it was a commitment I felt seeing as how I was the one that requested the library spend their money on it. Maybe it was the challenge of finally achieving success in my hunt. I dunno. But there is one thing I do know...

This disc had better be friggin' spectacular!

Snackie Teevee
Hey, to all those interested, the ever crushable Hilly has started a blog called Snackie Teevee... all about television. And, guess what... I'm one of the guest authors along with Secondhand Karl and francesdanger. You know what this means? You'll get four great TV writers in one place and you won't have to read about TV so much here. Celebrate! (No, this doesn't mean I'll never mention TV on this blog, but I will be able to limit it here while not giving up the chance to write about it entirely.)

Now would I say something that isn't true...

I went out to lunch with some people I know yesterday (you can never go wrong with Mexican food at lunch) and, somehow or another, we got on the topic of where we were when 9/11 occurred. We were discussing if we were near someplace where we could watch TV and see things as they were happening. Two of them were while I was relegated to struggling to find any working Web site I could with information.

Then one of my lunch cohorts mentioned how I wouldn't need to worry about finding a TV for that purpose because this sort of thing is not likely to happen again during our lifetimes. This person was not at all arrogant about this statement. It was more of a hopeful declaration than anything else.

I hate to sound so pessimistic, but I just don't believe that. And I really don't think I'm wrong for this point of view.

Let me give you some reasons why...

1. We are the most outspoken of all Democratic nations. There are many more like us, but, because of how visible we are in the world forum, we are the nation that first comes to mind when the word "Democracy" is brought up. Not everyone supports this ideal.

2. While some countries are backing down in Iraq, our president wants to shore up our armed forces contingent. Color me crazy, but I just don't see our opponents in the Middle East and elsewhere being all too happy with that decision.

3. Despite being hit in the past - and badly at that - by terrorist attacks, it still seems as though many people in the U.S. are prone to "puffing out their chests" and declaring that this sort of thing can never happen. Mmm hmmmm.

4. Our insularity makes us ignorant to what's going on outside our borders. There is so much we should be learning about in the world. So many current events that very few of us know are going on. And what's dominating our nightly newscasts now? Anna Nicole Smith's DNA and Britney Spears' head shaving and rehab merry-go-round. Does anybody remember what dominated the news just before 9/11? Anne Heche's post-Ellen mental breakdown. Truly hardhitting and newsworthy. Seriously, go back and check it out.

True that the last one is not exactly the hardest of evidence, but still.

I realize that this is not exactly the sort of thing you expect to read here. Lighthearted? No. Funny? Not exactly. Many of you may have even started reading it, gave up, and moved on to another blog. I apologize for that. But it's something that's on my mind and isn't that what blogging is all about?

Tell me what you want, what you really really want...

That twin-voiced post yesterday seemingly tapped me of much of my creative juice. So I hope you don't mind a bullet post today. If I can come up with something worthwhile, that is.

Cross and Joy
As you all know from reading my book meme yesterday, I'm currently reading James Patterson's Cross. Well, it's due back to the library tomorrow and I'm nowhere near finished. Not that Patterson books take any real amount of time to read, but I haven't had any time. I should've been done with this days ago. So I went to the library's Web site and tried to renew it. Being a newer book, it's not typically possible to renew them as there is usually a long list of people in queue for it. But I tried anyway... and it worked! When I saw the request confirmation, I said (out loud), "Oh snap!" in a southern accent.

You're right, Hilly. It truly is addictive, isn't it?

Blog Firesale
I know it's been a while since I mentioned the concept of selling stuff on my blog. Well, it's because we're still putting together everything that we're planning to sell. I think we may soon be done and our purchase of a credenza instead of an entertainment center has necessitated getting rid of even more than we initially planned. So far, we've got about 30 or so books, 40 DVDs, 30-40 CDs, and maybe even a video game system.

Typing it up is not going to be fun at all.

Man Gifts
I received an e-mail from a friend I'm not planning to identify who recently began seeing someone special. However, as she claims, she does not have a romantic bone in her body and is wondering what kinds of gestures of the romantic variety she can make to him. She asked me because of how "cute" Katie and I are. "Cute"? Blech.

Anyway, I gave her some ideas based on what I like, but I warned her that all guys are different. I did tell her that guys are more about little things than grand gestures. We don't need skywriting or the like. Just know about the stuff we enjoy and maybe show some interest in it. If your guy is a Bears fan and you can talk, even in very general terms, about the fact we need to shore up our defense and we need a new quarterback, that could be a huge turn-on for him. You don't need to be a stats freak or memorize lineups. But know some current events about his favorite things. Did you all read Dave's post about how his favorite Valentine's Day gift of all time was a pair of shoelaces because it proved she paid attention to him and his pathetic inability to dress himself properly? It's the little things. It really doesn't take much for us.

What other ideas can you guys suggest? She will be reading this, so be honest. And hey, why don't you women give some idea of things you have done for significant others in the past, as well. Any little thing could help.

Rain Down
I'll tell you what, on a morning when the heat just hasn't quite kicked on yet, there is nothing better than a steaming hot shower.

They've given you a number and taken away your name...

Have you ever looked at yourself in the context of where you work and what you do for them and wondered if there was an ulterior motive behind your hiring? A more nefarious purpose for you at your place of employment?

Do you mean like that little catch-all tagline on your employment contract that reads "and other duties as assigned"?

No, no. I'm talking much darker. Far outside the scope of what would normally be considered a reasonable job expectation.

Like when Jim Carrey was promoted to serve as a scapegoat for his tech company in Fun With Dick and Jane?

Closer. But still much more evil.

Oh, do tell.

I shall.

I'm a Web designer and my willingness to adapt and learn other skills has resulted in me doing some graphic design work as well as writing, proofreading, and photography on the job. But I wonder, sometimes, if maybe my current job has really hired me to be a payrolled assassin.

What?!?! Have you lost it, dude?

Perhaps. After all, I am holding up two ends of a shared conversation within a single post.

Good point. So what evidence do you have to support this theory?

Well, only one bit of evidence so far. But it may just be enough.

Okay, give it to me, big guy.

Here you go. It's my ID badge. Well, more specifically, the cable winder that attaches the ID badge to my belt loop. This thing is a weapon. I don't know if it's a purposeful or an unintentional weapon, but I've seen enough spy and assassin films to know just what kind of damage this sort of thing can do.

If I pull on the badge, a thin, 2.5-foot-long string is exposed.


I always thought that the purpose behind this is so you don't have to detach your ID badge to scan it or show it to security.

Uh huh. That's what they want you to believe.

This should be good.

I think this device exists for the sole purpose of strangling an enemy at a time to be determined later by one of my higher ups.

Please stop it now. This really hurts.

Wait, just hear me out. It's kinda like The Manchurian Candidate... I could just be sitting there typing away and then a message will be received subconsciously by my brain which will trigger the killer instinct that has clearly been programmed in me by our HR department during those "sensitivity training sessions."

Yeah, some good that "brain" has done you to this point.

What did you say?

Oh, nothing. Don't mind me. You haven't thus far.

Anyway, they want you to believe that it's nothing more than a convenience item... make life easier... riiiiiight. They also want me to believe I'm just a Web designer, but I've uncovered the truth! I have seen the light! And it has an eerie blood-red glow to it.

Sorry, buddy, I'm outta here. I just can't take this.

Wait, you're supposed to be my moral compass!

Pal, you're beyond my help now.

Hey, got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "They've given you a number and taken away your name..." »

I want somebody to shove me...

Several weeks ago, Katie and I decided to try to move our entertainment center about a foot to the right of where it currently sits. The way we figured it, the TV sitting in the middle of it might be a bit more well centered within the room.

Since we own a 27" SD tube TV, we pulled it off the entertainment center to relieve it of some of the weight and then we gave it the good ol' "college try."

It didn't budge.

We pushed, we shoved, we pulled, we dragged, we clawed.

And then, in one final last-ditch effort to move it, we counted to three and I jammed my shoulder into the side of it. And my shoulder went right through the side of it. Not having realized the entire thing was made of MDF (a sort of manufactured press board, I think), it just gave under the pressure and caved in. Not good since now the side of the lower portion of the unit was just a bit exposed and likely to not last much longer.

We'd been wanting a new entertainment center for some time, but this most recent event kinda pushed up our timeline a little bit. In the ensuing weeks, we scoured every bricks & mortar and online furniture store we could find for entertainment centers. There was no way we were going with a full MDF or press board unit again. With our TV, we needed something heavy duty. We wanted real wood (don't say it, Chase).

Wanna know something? They're not easy to find. And, when you do find them, they are far from inexpensive. And most of those are absolute crap. Turns out the furniture sector is already buying into the HDTV side of television viewing and have modeled most of their furniture that way. Everything is now made for plasma and LCD TVs. Nearly nothing is designed for tube TVs anymore. Nothing can withstand the weight. And if there is one, the lowest price we found was appoximately $3000.


This weekend we came to the sad realization that maybe it was time to succumb to the technological revolution and buy a flat panel TV. And, yesterday, we did just that.

Samsungplasma Will you now help us welcome the latest addition to our family? His name is Sam (as in "Samsung") and he's a 42" plasma beauty. Together with the credenza (read: "low-level dresser that doesn't go in a bedroom") we bought to put him on, the total cost was $1000 less than the only entertainment center we saw that we both could agree on in terms of appearance.

Talk about a beautiful picture. It's ridiculous how clear the picture quality is and how nice the colors are. And, yes, we are both aware of the potential for ghosting that plasma has, but we have a warranty that covers any problem that may occur and I really don't play video games enough for the millisecond response delay to be a problem. We're happy and we saved a load of money over what we were thinking we would have to spend. So it's all good.

On an unrelated aside, if anyone is thinking about going to see Breach... totally worth it. It's my firm belief that Chris Cooper can act circles around 90% of the so-called actors working in Hollywood today. And, Daaaaavve, it's got Jaye in it!

Hey! When did IMDb overhaul it's template? Dang it looks different.

Suck, suck, suck, suck...


He's coming back! He's coming back!!

Who? Christopher Moore! That's who!

Yousuck_lg Yes, the author that I so highly lauded last year when I found out he was coming to the Chiburbs to sign copies of his then-new book A Dirty Job is returning in support of You Suck: A Love Story, the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story.

He mentioned that he was working on You Suck when he was here last year, but I had no idea he was this far along with it. I just happened to walk in Anderson's Bookshop on my lunch break the other day when I saw it on the new release rack.

I was floored. I had heard nothing about its release. But I'm so happy I went in there. Completely on a whim, by the way. Guess it might be time to sign up for that Author Tracker thingie.

Then, as I was paying for the book, the clerk told me Moore was returning on April 3. And, since they hadn't officially announced the visit yet, I am now the first person in line for the signing. I got my number and everything!!! You wanna know what makes it even better? Instead of having to drive in from a job that's 20-odd minutes away to get to the bookstore, I only need to walk two blocks. That's how close I am at my new digs. I'm gonna have great seats this time!

This so rocks! I think I may now have to find a hardcover copy of Lamb just to have it signed since I had him sign all my other books the last time he was here.

Oh yeah, I was also able to sneak a peek at the list of authors coming in future months. On May 9, Berkeley Breathed, the genius behind the comic strip formerly known as Bloom County, will be here. And, on May 16, Henry "The Fonz" Winkler will be here for one of his Hank Zipzer novels. I plan to be in attendance at both. I just hope I can convince Breathed to sign my old BC anthologies and maybe get Winkler to sign a Happy Days box set. In addition to whatever they happen to be hawking at the time, of course.

Gawd, I'm so stoked!!

Oh, and just like before, if anyone is interested in having books signed, let me know. We can figure out some kind of arrangement. I'm good like that. Just ask Belinda. Unless, of course, you want to drive out for it and we can hang at the signings.

Happy birthday, dear Katie...

Okay everybody, let's get lined up!

Sopranos and altos in the front. Yep, that's right. Can we cluster all the sopranos right in the middle and have the altos flank them on the sides? Perfect!

Tenors... I need you to surround the sopranos and altos! Yes, that's it!

And basses, you know what to do. Yep, you got it. Great, we're ready!

On three.




Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday to you!
Happy birthday, dear Katie!
Happy birthday to you!

And many moooooooooorrrrreee!

Candle30_1 Today is a big birthday for Katie. Admittedly, it's not one she's been looking forward to, but I've been trying to convince her that it's really not so bad. You know that fifth anniversary of her 25th birthday? Yeah, that's the one.

However, I think my words can only do so much to ease her suffering. After a while, I'm sure I sound like a broken record. Plus, it probably comes across as a 32-year-old guy trying desperately to make his own age not so bad.

So, can any of you help? Tell her it's not a big deal? It's just a number? That she can be "thirty, flirty, and fun"?

All joking aside. I love you, Kate. Happy birthday! I hope you enjoy your gifts and your dinner tonight. It's going to be nice actually celebrating one of our birthdays on the night it actually happens for once.

I love you!

They number six to make them feel like men...

Dagny's gonna get it.

Yeah, she tagged me on a meme in which we are to describe six strange facts about ourselves and then tag six other people. However, when you tag those six others, you must let them know in the comments of their own blog that they've been tagged.

We all know I'm not much a fan of tagging, but I'll do it. Just for Dagny. And shortly thereafter, I will submit her e-mail address to spam sites the world over. Muahahahahahahahahahaha. No really. I will. You don't believe I could be that cruel? Sorry, I roll like that. Heh.

Well, let's see what I can come up with. Please bear in mind that it is entirely possible that I have blogged about some of these in the past. If I did and can find the post, I've linked to it. Otherwise...

1. I am physically incapable of winking. You know how people can shut one eye and keep the other open? Yeah, not me. In fact, anything that requires a separation of muscles in my forehead region I cannot do. Raise an eyebrow? Nope. I don't know why I can't. I've tried training myself. Just does not want to work. Katie laughs at me when I try.

2. If there was any one thing I wish I knew how to do, it is skateboarding. I've always been in awe of the old school skaters like Per Welinder and Steve Caballero. I loved watching them. But I only tried it once. I quickly learned that I lacked the hand-eye coordination, lowered center of gravity, and death wish necessary to be a good skater.

296pxti994a 3. I began writing short computer programs back in the very early 80s on my parents' TI-99/4A computer. Mostly games and other meaningless applets. This was back in the day when there was so little on-board memory I had to save my programs to a magnetic tape drive. It was around this time I idolized Matthew Broderick in Wargames. I still wonder what would have happened had I stuck with it. Alas...

4. I took all kinds of art classes in junior high and high school including drawing, painting, ceramics, and jewelry making. I never took any of it seriously, though, and had no desire to pursue it much past school even though I did interview for acceptance to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I guess the fact that my teacher stole one of my necklaces should have been an indication that I was at least semi-decent at it. I still miss that necklace. And as much as I enjoy sketching, I've only really drawn one freehand picture in the last couple of years. It's a view of Riverwalk in downtown Naperville. It's not done yet, either. Some dedication, eh?

5. I have a collection of all my rejection letters from companies when I was first applying for jobs out of college. I actually bound them in a hardcover book and wrote comments about the applications, meetings, interviews, etc. all over them. I remember that some were pretty hilarious. I need to find that book and reread them.

6. I suppose in some way, shape, form, or another, I've been setting myself up to be a writer all my life. It was one of the things that I was always good at and enjoyed doing. Of course, back in high school, I never would have admitted it. To admit that writing research papers is actually enjoyable is like asking for death. You have to stand strong with your classmates and gripe and whine whenever they were assigned. But I secretly liked it. And I also enjoy writing some funky poetry as many of you already know from a few of the gems I've posted here. This ability comes in handy when writing best man speeches for weddings. Really, it does. I shall prove it again this summer.

Now for the tags... I think I will hit up BA, Diane, Elaine, Johnny (that should make for a good read), Jacquie, and Kim. Enjoy.

Pretend that you love me...

Before I delve into the meat of this post, I do want to say Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. But I would like to float the biggest heart of hearts that I can find to my wife. I love you, hon. And I don't know what I would do without you in my life. You're everything to me.

Vdaypourhomme Carrying on in the "love" theme, I found a rather interesting concept from my blog crush, Hilly, who came up with an intriguing idea she has dubbed "Self-Love Day." And, while that name can come across as rather, erm, interesting sounding (and the tagline on the image isn't much better), I must say it is a novel idea and one in which I would like to take part.

Here's what you are supposed to do...

1.) Post one of the banners from Hilly's site and declare Valentine's Day as the day you not only love your one and only, but the day that you love yourself!

2.) Post one nice thing about yourself... then ask others to post one thing that they really like about you.  

3.)  Enjoy yourself!

So here we go... in addition to being 100% truly, madly, deeply in love with Katie, I also love myself. I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggonnit, people like me!

Okay, enough with the Stuart Smalley interpretation of life. Seriously, though, people are so worried about making an impression on others and making other people like them that their own self-love really does go by the wayside. Don't most therapists say that the only way to make others love you is by first loving yourself? So you can see why this idea of Hilly's, as odd as it sounds initially, does really have a pretty high level of merit.

So, right now, I'm declaring that, while not perfect, I am a decent human being with strong personal values and the ability to love those people I feel are deserving of my love.

Anybody out there willing to take a stab at saying something nice about me? And remember what Thumper's mother said, "if you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nuthin'."

Oh, what the heck... my sense of humor is another positive, I feel. So you can even have a little fun and rip into me, if you feel so inclined. It could make the comments that much more interesting!

I want too much, too much...

Clearly "efficiency" is not a problem for FTD. "Accuracy," on the other hand...

Yesterday, just as I was grabbing my coat and heading out the door for work at a little past 7:00 a.m. (CST), I remembered that I had wanted to order some roses for Katie to be delivered to her on Valentine's Day. Knowing how jammed up the floral services tend to be around this time of year, I questioned whether or not an order placed yesterday would be enough time to allow for such a delivery to happen.

But I logged in to FTD.com anyway and tried to place an order for a dozen long-stem red roses. No problem. I paid what came out to an exceptionally exorbitant amount (unaware that because of frosts in California, their rose crop was for crap this year driving prices through the roof) and received a guarantee that she would get the roses when I designated.

About 9:15 that morning, I receive a call from Katie at work...

Katie: So why today?

Kevin: Why what today?

Katie: Why did you have them delivered today?

[I knew exactly what she was talking about with her first comment; this second one cemented it. But I wanted to play it safe anyway.]

Kevin: What are you talking about?

Katie: The roses. Why did you have them delivered on Monday the 12th?

Kevin: They came today?!?! They were supposed to be delivered on Wednesday.

Katie: Well they came today. And my boss would like to point out that you misspelled his name on the card.

Kevin: Tell him "ha ha."

Katie: He liked it.

Kevin: They really came today?

Katie: I'm looking at them.

Kevin: Hm. Happy Valentine's Day?

Katie: You think this gets you off the hook for a gift on the actual day?

Kevin: Again, ha ha. And considering what I spent... yes.

 Katie: Sorry. But they are beautiful.

Kevin: Well, that's good. Now I'm off to throttle someone at FTD. Love ya. And Happy Valentine's Day two days early.

Katie: Love ya, too.

Am I just expecting too much?

Here I was worrying that I wasn't going to be able to place an order two days prior to a major flower holiday and not only was I able to order, but they had the order delivered within three hours!!

Well, at least I know where to go for last-second flower orders. Just don't ever plan ahead again, apparently.

To FTD, thanks for filling the order. But can you do it on the right day next time?

Because the sky is blue...

Thank you to all who expressed concern over my health in my last post. I thank you and, yes, I am feeling better. I went to the doctor on Saturday morning and got some good stuff and it seems to be working.

For the most part this weekend, Katie and I decided to lay low. We didn't get together with anyone and we didn't do much and it was pretty nice. Just stayed together while still staying apart, if you catch my drift. I didn't want her recatching what I had caught from her that she had caught from me that I had caught from her that she likely caught from someone at the pharmacy. Fun, huh?

But I would like to tell you that if there is one thing that does not help with the healing process, it's a bad movie.

Sorry, Kate. I know we agreed to not admit that we saw this movie. We thought it was so terrible that we could just try to move on with our lives and forget having ever seen it.

But I just can't do that to the world. They must know how terrible it was and that they should not spend their hard-earned bucks on it. Not even on DVD. Maybe if it's free on TV down the road, but that's it.

The movie is Because I Said So starring Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore and it is just a complete crapfest.

We went to see it thinking it might be a cute romcom that could make for an enjoyable date film or, at the very least, just a decent excuse to get out of the house that we'd been holing ourselves up in so far all weekend.

It was none of the above.

To say we were embarrassed for having seen it is an understatement.

But here is the creme de la creme... we watched Ebert & Roeper (or, actually, Roeper & Whoever is His Guest Critic this Week - I think it was Lisa Schwartzbaum) last night and agreed with everything they said about the film. Here are some of the things they said and our reactions.

Badly acted? Check.

To the point of being overacted? You betcha.

Overly cliched? Oh heck yeah.

A slap in the face of independent women everywhere? (I defer to Katie) Yup.

"The worst movie of Diane Keaton's career"? Uh huh.

Worse than Norbit? We hope to never find out.

If you do feel some nagging desire to waste your money and watch this movie anyway, don't say we didn't warn you. The only reason we came out of the closet to admit to having seen this is for your sake! Otherwise, we would've been content to file it away amongst the Ishtars and From Justin to Kellys of the Hollywood industry and pretend like we hadn't seen it (no, we haven't seen either of those two other films... honestly!). But, in the name of good taste, I have outted us. We saw it. We hated it. We're pretty darned sure you'll hate it too.

Don't do this to yourself.



I got a disease deep inside of me...

I'm not sure if it will happen or not, but if any of you happens to read in the news about some kind of Legionnaire's disease-style outbreak of chills, bodyaches, headaches, coughing, post-nasal drip, and a slew of other flu and cold-related symptoms at a Microsoft office building in Downers Grove, IL, just note that I had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.

The day before yesterday, I was at work when I started to feel exceptionally exhausted and developed a headache. I really just wanted to put my head down and sleep. I blamed it on a day spent staring at a computer screen under the glow of fluorescent lighting.

That night at home, I still had a headache and became a little nauseous waiting for Katie to come home from work. I also started developing chills. I just kept shivering and I couldn't get over it.

When Katie got home, she had me take a bath and then layered me in clothes to sleep in. She also made me a prescription pill cocktail and a mug of Theraflu. We both wound up going to sleep before 10 and I slept about 45 minutes later than normal. I actually wound up getting a full eight hours of sleep and I felt great on Thursday morning.

Until, that is, I showed up at the Microsoft building in Downers Grove for a training seminar I signed up to attend (Office SharePoint Server 2007, in case anyone's interested). As I sat there, I started to redevelop all the symptoms I had the night before. I was struggling to keep my eyes open at all. I actually wound up leaving a little early because I just couldn't take it combined with the fact that I was getting worse and I still had a nice little drive home.

I still feel congested today, but I had so much work I needed to get done that I came into the office anyway and am just trying to avoid human contact if at all possible.

But hey, I can't think of a better bunch of people to infect with a virus than those at Microsoft, right? They're pretty well versed in catching viruses and not knowing how to deal with it.

How do you say goodnight to an answering machine...

I really wish Heaven would institute a screening policy before allowing some people to live amongst other humans.

[phone rings]

Me: Hello?

Him: Who is this?

Me: You called me.

Him: So who is this?

Me: You called me and you don't know who I am?

Him: Mutha f&*ka, you tryin' to punk me?

Me: What?

Him: You called me.

Me: Uh, no. You called me.

Him: My caller ID says you called me.

Me: Believe me, I didn't.

Him: Bi%^&, tell me where you live and I'll come beat yo' ass.

Me: Uh huh. Sure.

Him: Fu&%$, I'm gonna come over there and... [I'd really rather not repeat what was said]

Me: Yeah, okay. Good luck with that.

Him: What??

[I hang up the phone]

Gee, and we could've been such good friends.

Say a little prayer for you...

How about some snippets...

Four truths, one lie, and a pizza place
A big congrats to Rick who caught on to my clever hidden clue. "Bookended," get it? Meaning it was one of the three in the middle.

One by one for y'all:

1. Yes, I am prone to workshop injuries. In fact, I blogged about one some time ago that I didn't mention in this challenge.

2. I am, indeed, a third-degree brown belt in Kenpo. And it was during my training that I met Billy Blanks (he of Tae-Bo fame) who is a tenth-degree black belt in Kenpo. He visited our dojo well before he developed Tae-Bo and I have a signed T-shirt from him.

3. I did play water polo during my freshman year of high school. I'm not happy about it. I did not enjoy it. Not one bit. It was the next year when I started playing football.

5. I also won my first cash poker game. And I blogged it a couple years ago as well.

The falsehood was in my football career. I was no running back. Never. I hate running. I was an offensive guard my sophomore year, an offensive tackle my junior year, and a defensive tackle my senior year (the more "inert" positions as I referred to them). All line, all the time, baby!

Interesting job title
I ran into someone last night whose official job title was Pastor of Business Administration. I realize that churches are being run like small businesses these days, but this is a bit ridiculous. What do his duties entail? Praying for a balanced budget? Condemning subpar donors to the seventh ring of Hades?

It's outta this world!
A love triangle involving two NASA astronauts, a wig, a trenchcoat, pepper spray, and an adult diaper??? I can't wait for the made-for-TV movie!! Kinda reaffirms the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" theory, doesn't it? Not in a million years could those script monkeys in Hollywood come up with a story this good.

If you ever get to the Chicago area and are looking for a good pizza, try a thin crust spinach pizza from Lou Malnati's. Fantastic pizza. Great flavor. Crisp crust. Just awesome. Katie and I are hooked.

So you tell me 'trust me'...

So the ever-crushable Hilly's most recent challenge is to tell four truths and one lie about ourselves.

I wasn't sure I really wanted to do this one. Is it truly possible for me to lie about myself? I mean, why lie when there are just oh-so-many fantabulous truths I could tell that would make all of you just swoon (even the guys).

Then I read diane's contribution to the effort and figured, "oh what the heck."

So here I am telling five tales. And you, my astute readers, must cleverly disseminate between fact and fiction. Are you up to the task?

Here we go...

1. I am prone to workshop injuries.
This includes nearly chopping off the final metatarsel of my right thumb on a band saw and watching as a chisel slid like a warm knife in butter through the skin at the base of my left thumb. On that last one, I was so unaffected, I walked up to my shop teacher and asked if I could go see the nurse. He asked why. I showed him the wound while making it open and close like a mouth talking. You could see the muscle inside my flesh and it was gushing blood the whole time. I don't think he appreciated my sense of humor.

2. I am a third-degree brown belt in Kenpo.
This is a form of karate that translates to "open hand." I was only about a year and a half away from earning my black belt. But we moved to Illinois and Kenpo was not taught in any of the local dojos, so I gave up. I started taking karate because I was constantly in fights in school and needed help learning to defend myself. My brother was taking classes with me but quit after he got his orange belt. My lead sensei was the uncle of Tia Carrere (Wayne's World and True Lies). Of course, no one knew who she was back then.

3. I played water polo.
... and hated every minute of it. From the stupid Speedo swim"suits" to the God-awful headgear to the treading water for hours on end. I did everything I could to just make it through the season and get it over and done with. During practices, the coaches rarely watched us doing our warm-up laps. So I stole the weighted rubber bricks from the storage closet and perfected my underwater diving and lung control skills collecting them off the bottom of the deep end. Perhaps I should've been a pearldiver. After one season in high school, I never played water polo again.

4. Despite my current overweight status, I was a running back in high school.
No, not a starter. Heck, not even the immediate backup to the starter. I was what amounted to a third-string running back at the varsity level, but first string on the JV squad... when I was healthy. However, I was not too motivated to do well in football. I knew there was no way in the name of all that was holy I would ever be first string considering our starters were All-State athletes, so I just coasted by knowing I'd get to play in the JV game. But I still scored my fair share of touchdowns. To this day, I wish that I had played a more "inert" position simply because I injured myself far too much. Both of my ankles and one of my knees is shot. I can't wait until the day arthritis sets in. Yay.

5. I was a winner in my first Texas Hold 'Em tournament.
The first time I ever played in an unofficial, semi-organized Texas Hold 'Em ("poker" for you non-players) tournament, I won it. I believe there were seven or eight of us at the table and I just sat back and started playing. I kept a low profile for much of the game, but played safely enough to remain in it. I took out the last two players in back-to-back hands and walked away with $100. I haven't played in a money tournament since that day.

So which is it? It's really not that tough. Lying comes easy to me so long as I'm not bookending it with the truth. So this exercise was rather difficult.

I'm a survivor, I'm not gonna give up...

Okay, it's been 18 days since I've blogged about TV, so that has to earn me at least a little reprieve. How about one post? And it's not even about real TV. More like a fake reality TV post.

Actually, it stems from a conversation I had with my friend, J, during the Super Bowl last night. Because the game was broadcast on CBS, there were, of course, a buttload of ads for other CBS shows. The most hyped of the bunch being the new season of Survivor, which, I think, is taking place on Swaziland, Atlantis, Legoland, or Shreveport. I can't quite recall at the moment.

Well, anyway, this is about the gist of the conversation...

Me: I think they need a new season called Survivor: Watts or Survivor: South Central.

J: Excellent idea! I think it would work out great.

Me: Which would be better, Watts or South Central?

J: Either/or really. Just make sure one team is dressed in red and the other in blue when you drop them off for the first day.

Me: Crips and Bloods? Perfect!

The only trick right now is figuring out how to make the show last more than a single episode.


Well, at least my sense of humor is still intact after yesterday.

You're the pride and joy of Illinois...

My prediction... Bears 23, Colts 20.

For many, going beyond just saying who will win Super Bowl XLI by giving a score might be enough.

No, no. Not me.

My MUB (Muddled-Up Brain) decided to get a bit more detailed. Well, actually a LOT more detailed. Check this out.

First Quarter - Bears 3, Colts 10

  • Robbie Gould, kicker, Chicago, 3 pts field goal
  • Adam Vinatieri, kicker, Indianapolis, 3 pts field goal
  • Joseph Addai, running back, Indianapolis, 7 pts offensive touchdown (PAT by Vinatieri)

Second Quarter - Bears 10, Colts 17

  • Marvin Harrison, wide receiver, Indianapolis, 7 pts offensive touchdown (PAT by Vinatieri)
  • Desmond Clark, tight end, Chicago, 7 pts offensive touchdown (PAT by Gould)

Third Quarter - Bears 17, Colts 20

  • Adam Vinatieri, kicker, Indianapolis, 3 pts field goal
  • Rashied Davis, special teams, Chicago, 7 pts kick return (PAT by Gould)

Fourth Quarter - Bears 20, Colts 20

  • Robbie Gould, kicker, Chicago, 3 pts field goal

Do note that Vinatieri will have a chance to win the game with less than two minutes left, but will muff his field goal. Yep, Mr. Clutch Kick Vinatieri will muff it.

Hence we wind up in...

Overtime - Bears 23, Colts 20

  • Robbie Gould, kicker, Chicago, 3 pts field goal

And, not only do we have the first overtime Super Bowl and a Bears win, but a kicker will get MVP for a perfect performance and for booting the winning score.

Do NOT take it to the bank. But, if by some miracle I am right, feel free to praise me openly.

Go Bears!

I know we all hate animated gifs, but this one had to be done.

A fire in the sky...

This past weekend, Katie and I were stashing some stuff in the attic. I was sitting on some boards up there rearranging containers when, all of a sudden, I heard a pop. Since I'd already heard the occasional buzzing sound coming from the light switch earlier, my eyes knew exactly where to look.

From a little transformer attached to the side of the attic light switch arose some smoke.

Well this can't be good.

I touched the box and it was a bit hotter than it probably should have been. I had Katie grab me the phone. Time to call our personal electrical service technician.

After she hands me up the phone, I try calling her father the electrician at every conceivable phone number, even her brother's cellphone since he lives at home. Nada.

I decide to finish what I'm doing and turn the lights off, but I leave the attic hatch open for a few hours so I can monitor what's going on while I let the transformer cool down. We finally close the hatch and go to bed with no incident.

The next day at work, I receive a call from Katie's dad. As soon as I explain what happened, he announces that he'll be down on Thursday (last night).

Nope, not good. Not if he's that willing to make an hour trip to help us out.

Turns out the transformer was for our doorbell. This little nugget was discovered when Katie's dad arrived and tried ringing the doorbell and nothing happened. Well, he fixed it and Katie treated him to some of her homemade beef burgundy.

Then her dad gave us some stuff that he and Katie's mom bought for us when they were on a trip to Key West last week. Among the stuff was a cigar for me from the Cuban Leaf Cigar Factory in Key West.

Wow, I haven't had a cigar since my wedding night. I smoked them occasionally in grad school with some of my R.A.s. I had one on our wedding night at the reception and never had one again after that. And, believe me, it wasn't because Katie didn't want me to. She used to smoke them as well. I just didn't have one again. Guess it was a lack of desire.

But I'm not going to let this one go bad. Just gotta find the right time to smoke it. Post Super Bowl, perhaps? Depending on the outcome, of course.

I do, however, find it odd that I traded smoke (as in "smoking transformer") for a smoke.

Oh, and I know that many of you don't like sports as evidenced by the lack of comments on my anti-baseball rant earlier this week, but stay tuned for when I play mystic seer and give my eerily detailed prediction of how the Super Bowl will turn out. It should be fun to see how far off I can possibly be.

Don't be cruel...

Why do we have to age?

How come I have not yet discovered my own personal Neverland?

This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I looked at myself in the mirror and discovered just how grey the hair on the sides of my head was becoming. Scarily salt and pepperish there.

Then I thought about how, just a few minutes prior, after finishing my shower and hearing Katie shifting around in bed, I laid down next to her and wrapped my arms around her and *gasp* fell asleep for a few quick minutes. And that sleep came so easily to me. It felt great. I savored that time. And, sadly, not just because Katie and I were lying next to each other, but also because I snuck in a few moments of

The kid version of me would want to kick my butt so badly for actually wanting to and enjoying that brief, sleep-laden reprise. And, despite being bigger now than I was as a child, I have no doubt my youthful doppelgänger would be able to whomp me. For with age, it seems, comes both a comparative lack of energy and the occasional desire to just want to lay there and take it.

I remember, as a kid, never wanting to nap, and looking at my parents and laughing when they did take the occasional nap. I was too full of energy. I loved running around outside, riding my bike, playing guns, jumping off swingsets, exploring the neighborhood, and oh so many other fantastically fun adventures.

Now, I'm happy to sneak in some time on the Web in the morning, find a few moments during my lunchbreak to read a book or walk around the city to take some pictures, go see a movie with Katie on a rare free evening, perhaps cook dinner for her. "Pulse-racing excitement" these days is exemplified by those few trips a week to the gym. Oh yay.

When did my priorities change so dramatically? I can't even think back to when it started. Was it sudden or was it gradual?

I want that level of energy back. Lord knows dieting would no longer be an issue.