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30 posts from February 2008

I'd buy you a fur coat, but not a real fur coat...

In an interesting follow up to my post about winning $100 on scratch-off tickets, Wafelenbak posed the question of what you would do if you won a big-time lottery payout.

Wow. Talk about a tricky question, but a fun one all the same.

I'd like to think that we wouldn't change too much about our life that didn't already need changing, except that we might, as Emeril would say, "kick it up a notch."

For example, we'd finish all the renovations around the house that we've started and others that we have on our timeline for down the road. But now we'd have a pro do it. And buy even higher quality materials.

Instead of waiting to buy our new cars and spacing it out for the sake of money, we'd probably buy each of us our new car now. And we'd both go with the hybrid version of what we already wanted.

Instead of talking about going on a big tour of Europe and picking and choosing which countries we visit now as opposed to later, maybe we'd just go to all of them. Several times.

All those charities that we either give a few bucks to here and there or would like to give to but can't because we "already gave at the office"? Well they'd all finally get what we feel they deserve.

I'm sure the calls from our alma mater would increase, and maybe we'd finally give them some money.

I would think the same would go for calls from politicians wanting money. But they still wouldn't get one red cent. They have too much money as it is.

Then there are the other things... top-of-the-line computers and home theater, more little trips here and there on the weekends, a motorcycle, that sort of stuff.

Oh, and we'd stop worrying about the potential financial impact of having kids and just have them.

And puppies. Puppies are cute.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Think this guy might customize an Ibanez EX160 for me? And then I can playback the music I record on this little gem.

God bless Legos.

Come tumblin' crumblin'...

It was made official yesterday... Cole Hall, site of the murders on the NIU campus on Valentine's Day, is going to be torn down. In its place they will construct a new academic building to be named Memorial Hall. This project is going to be funded by the State of Illinois because Governor Rod Blagojevich thinks it's the best way to move on.

Cole HallI have mixed emotions about this decision.

On one hand, I realize that many students are not going to want to see this building ever again, let alone enter it for a class. And, if you're an NIU student, you will have at least one class in here during your tenure at the university. It's a given considering it contains two of the largest lecture halls on campus. For some of the students to return to the building would be difficult.

Also, it's an old building and one that should either be severely renovated or rebuilt in the next decade anyway. So receiving funding from the state for the project is a good excuse to get moving.

However, on the other hand, it's hard to let go. This building holds a bit of history for everyone on campus. As big a lecture hall as it is, you could get away with a lot of shit in classes that were held there and, as a result, I have a lot of great memories from the building.

Plus, I feel almost as though they're punishing the building for something it had no control over. Did Virginia Tech tear down the building where the shootings happened last year? No (granted their building has a load of expensive equipment they were afraid of damaging during a move). Okay, yes, they did tear down the library at Columbine High School. But the school was already undergoing massive renovations as it was.

I also worry about where the money is really coming from. Yeah, the state is paying, but from what fund? We are having a tough enough time keeping the state's mass transit system afloat, which I find to be of much greater importance to the state's infrastructure than spending $40 million we don't have to tear down Cole and build Memorial on the taxpayer's dime.

I hate to sound so cold and callous because I love my alma mater and hate to see the campus, students, and faculty/employees suffer, but I just don't know that tearing it down is the answer.

I also hate to pander for comments here, but what do you think? If this happened at a place you know and love, what would you suggest to help rectify the situation, ex post facto?

But what it don't get I can't use...

One of the cool things that some members of Katie's family do for holidays is to buy the little scratch-off lottery tickets as a gift. If we receive a gift from a select group of relatives during the Christmas gift exchange, you know you're going to receive about a half dozen tickets in addition to whatever other gift you get. If one of us gets a birthday card in the mail, you know that the tickets will fall out of the card when you open the envelope.

We'll win a few bucks here and there; maybe a free card. No big payout. And none is expected. It's just fun.

Yesterday, I finally cashed in the winning tickets that we had been collecting since my birthday. In all, we won $4 and 6 free cards. I just took the whole thing in new cards for kicks. Not that we'd be out a whole lot even if we lost it all, right? And it's fun, so why not.

I came home with two $1 cards and four $2 cards. Katie and I split them up. She was grumbling because her first two paid out nothing while my three cards granted me one free card and $7.

Then I hear, "I think I won everything on this card."

Huh? So she shows me her card.

When you play these matching games, you're lucky to get one number that matches the so-called "Lucky Numbers." Every single one of the numbers on her card matched her lucky numbers. And she's going to net $100 as a result.

Not like this is multi-millions in the Little Lotto or Powerball or even the $20,000 payout the card professes is a possibility, but, considering we're leaving for Florida on Saturday, it's a nice little boost.

I think Katie's scratching all tickets from here on out.

And, no Karl, this does not mean we're paying for our little get together. We might buy a drink for Miss Britt, but she's cuter than you.

Don't let the sun go down on me...

I'm really getting sick of this crap.

Just as things were starting to thaw out around here and I could start to see grass poking through our frozen wasteland, we get nailed... yet again. This is about the fifth or sixth serious snowstorm we've had this year. This does not include all the little snowfalls we've had as well. The land around here has been nothing but white for 10-12 weeks now.

Here are a couple pics to show how bad it was last night...

Enlightened     Cars

I had to go driving around 9 last night and just looked out at the farmland and areas that are being prepped for development and I swear, when you combine the snow, murky white clouds, and odd late-night natural and artificial lighting, I'd have sworn I was scouting locations for a remake of Doctor Zhivago.

And, as much as I normally like snow, I'm done. I can't take anymore.

Looks like Guth agrees.

I'm thankful Katie and I are going to Florida this weekend considering we're supposed to get more snow. I only hope we make it out in time. God knows how willing O'Hare Airport is to nix flights from its schedule.

I'm also going to do my part to try to usher out the snowy season... that's right, I'm ditching the snow theme from the blog. It's time to go! Nah nah hey hey goodbye and all that jazz. Let's hope the new theme (that Katie helped design) engenders some goodwill with Mother Nature.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): When I posted the testosterone and finger measurement info, I was taken aback at the fact that nearly everyone who replied said their pointer finger was shorter. There had to be somebody, I thought.

Then I realized I f'd up the graphic. I had the lines in the right place, but the words in the bubble were off. It was supposed to read "ring finger" and not "middle finger." So, if your ring finger is longer than your index finger, you have higher levels of testosterone than if they were the other way around.

Does this affect anybody differently who replied before?

Strangers in the night...

I'm going to admit to you right now that any analysis of keywords used in search engines that have found my site have been pretty vanilla. This is why I don't go and post about them like Karl does. He gets cool stuff; mine sucks. Most of mine are people looking up lyrics or the artists behind certain songs. I guess I should expect this considering that nearly all my posts have song lyrics as their titles.

But I still check it out on occasion just to see. And today's look-see was a bit more interesting than usual...


Kevin Apgar - okay, some people are looking for me. That's cool.

dinosaur porn - WHAT?!?! And just how the hell did this keyword search find ME???

smack slurp fetish - Ewwwwwwww. People do that? Not that I know what "that" is, but my imagination is coming back with some possibilities.

strangers in the night exchanging rubbers - I doubt ol' Blue Eyes really worried about that too much.

johnny quest porn - In case the dinosaurs get lonely?

julianna hough's parents (and julianna hough, alone) - Yeah, we all know how I feel about her. But her parents? Are you going to try to convince them to breed again?

limp hand shake photo - I've railed about this already. There's no way I'm taking photos of it! Isn't it bad enough to be on the receiving end of it?

movies with sliced achilles tendon - AHHHHHHHH!!! That remains one of the most painful things I've ever seen in a movie. Saw? Forget it. Hostel? Pansy stuff. I get sympathy pains thinking about the scene in Pet Sematary when Evil Tyke slices Fred Gwynne's Achille's tendon with a scalpel and he goes down. I literally feel it in my own tendons. NOT GOOD.

I need to go massage my ankles.

Say my name...

I don't know why I do this, but sometimes I like to look up my name on the Web. I'm sure we've all done it. This time, however, Katie and I went on Facebook and just did a search for our last name to see what we could find.

What did we find? There are a lot of friggin' Apgars on Facebook.

What else did we find? "Katie Apgar" outnumbered "Kevin Apgar" 5:1. At least on the 21 pages we scanned. Not cool.

But the strangest thing we discovered was something we never ever could've imagined finding... a girl who not only had our last name, but, as a hyphenate, had my mom's maiden name. And it's not a common name at all. No matter how you look at it. No, I'm not telling you what it is. I don't want you to be able to sign up for credit cards in my name. Just accept that they're both the same.

So I sent her a message pointing out this little peculiarity. I received a reply from her shortly afterward in which she expressed a bit of her own freakout. Turns out her father's name is Kevin and she thought that her dad had actually signed up for Facebook.

This is just getting weird. Don'cha think?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): And the award for coolest act of the night goes to Jon Stewart for giving extra time to Marketa Irglova to give her speech after winning Best Song honors with Glen Hansard but was unable to speak. A noble act, Mr. Stewart. Nicely done.

I feeeeeeel you...

Yesterday afternoon, I realized, yet again, that I'm getting older. Sure, some of you are going to scoff at me for this one because I'm only 33, but still.

I was at the doctor's office to have a slightly inflamed gland in my neck checked out. Usually, I'd let this sort of thing run its course and just take some stuff to ease the pain and maybe hasten its departure. And it's not even visible, but I can palpate it with my fingers right there by my jawline (isn't "palpate" a great word?). But we're going to Florida in a week and the last thing I need is to be at this conference looking like Sick Boy from Van Wilder. So I went in.

The doctor was younger than me. By a good handful of years. It was pretty depressing to realize this. Not to take away from her hard work and years of schooling, but, dammit, she was younger than me. How the hell does that happen.

And to make matters worse, it seemed like she might've originally perceived me as a "dirty old man." I noticed when she leaned in to use the scope to look down my throat that one of her hands moved to cover up the gapping that her low-cut shirt created.

Odb Oh great. I'm old and dirty. Just call me ODB already, why don'cha? Minus the being-dead aspect of it all, though.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Coming back from dinner with some friends last night, Depeche Mode's "I Feel You" came on the iPod on shuffle. "I love this song," Katie said.

"Is it weird that I can still picture the singer from Depeche Mode grooving up on stage when I listen to their songs?" Nope.

"Or that I can still see the angel wings on the guitarist?" Not strange at all.

"I want to go again."

Dave, you in for the next tour? Next time we will make sure to all spend the day together wandering Chicago beforehand, or wherever the show happens to be performed.

Turn the Page...

I'm curious... what was your type back in high school? I mean, what type of person were you interested in? Sexually aroused by? Who "did it" for you? Was there even a certain type of person or were you the stereotypical horny teenager that was turned on by anything with the proper sexual organs and a heartbeat?

This question is open to everyone out there.

I ask because Jeffrey Wells has now claimed twice how it's improbable that anyone of the high school age would find Ellen Page of Juno to be cute enough to want to hang out with let alone knock up. He does think that Page did a great job in the role but that she was miscast and the role needed to be played by a more stereotypical teen queen actress. I'm assuming that translates to the three Bs -- "blonde," "big boobed," and "bimbotastic" -- but I can't be absolutely certain without grilling Wells personally.

Ellenpagejuno I'm not sure what decade Wells grew up in, but couldn't this happen to anyone and isn't that the point of the movie? That Juno, as played by Ellen Page, was thought to be highly unlikely to get pregnant and, yet, here she is, knocked up. Thus proving that sexual curiosity can strike anyone.

Okay, enough of the aside on teen pregnancy. But what about Page? Why not her? I actually think that Ellen Page is incredibly cute in a normal, non-overdone, and girl-next-door sort of way and exactly the sort of person I would be friends with in high school.

I was a geek, it's true. My friends can confirm that. And a couple of them remind me of Juno. Maybe not quite as spitfire on a regular basis as her, but close. Sarcasm was my thing. Being judgmental of others was a trait that appealed to me. Up to that point in my life, I had been ridiculed by classmates for so long that it was hard not to do the same back. So I did. And I wound up with friends who acted similarly. And we would sit and ridicule together.

I will also admit that this sort of conspiratorial, antisocial behavior was a bit of a turn on. Kinda like finding your soulmate in the depths of personal despair. No, I never acted on those feelings, but they were there. Sass did it for me. Yes, Juno would have done it for me at that age. So long as she wasn't ridiculing me the whole time.

Thanks to Cinematical for the idea for this post. I would've commented this there, but it was just way too much to simply leave as a comment.

Speaking of movies, this is the first weekend in a couple months where I'm actually a bit excited by what's coming out at the show. We've had such a dry spell of late. But, finally, Charlie Bartlett is coming out! Katie and I have been looking forward to that for some time now. And it's got one of the greatest actors of our time in it, Robert Downey Jr. He's had a rough go of it and it's all his fault, no question. But that doesn't take away from his ability to act, that's for damn sure.

Plus, we also get Be Kind Rewind. I'm not a Jack Black fan, but I dig on Mos Def and the film is directed by Michel Gondry, one of the greatest music video directors ever. Not sure how that will translate to feature length, but we'll see.

And, if there's still time left, we also have Vantage Point. I fear when a seemingly big budget action flick with a cast like this is released during the dry season, but I'll give it a shot.

Update: Okay, I feel like a moron. I express concern over Michel Gondry shooting feature-length films only to be reminded by a movie review that he also directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep among others. Guess I can put to rest that concern.

C is for cookie...

How about some snippets?

Oh hell. They arrived. The both dreaded and beloved Girl Scout cookies have been delivered to me. I, personally, haven't ordered Girl Scout cookies in years. Katie does from her coworkers usually. But I bought them this year from one of my coworkers. I bought two boxes of Thin Mints, one Trefoils, one Samoas, and one Lemon Chalet Cremes.

God help me and my gut.

One of my recent NIU photos was used in an article over at Chicagoist. I was pretty stoked about that considering there must be hundreds of photos tagged "Chicagoist" on a daily basis and yet they chose mine. I'm kinda pumped about that. Even if I don't get paid for it. I'm sure it was more for what was said than the photo itself as it's not the world's greatest picture. Color balance was a bit off due to the intensity of the sunlight. Oh well.

Hey Avitable! They did listen! Well, to some degree anyway.

Typepad now allows you to subscribe to comments. It's as simple as clicking on the little RSS feed icon above the comments to each post. Therein lies the catch... it's not a feed to my comments as a whole, but to the comments for each individual post. It's good if you have a particular post you want to track comments on or just to wait for my response (not that it matters since I reply by e-mail). The downside is that you could wind up with a bunch of different comment feeds in your reader for a single Typepad account that you dig on. I doubt anyone will actually use it, but the option is there.

One of my coworkers came in to my office today to ask for help. She was having trouble getting the memory card for our little point-and-shoot digital camera to fit in the card reader. She handed them to me. I looked at the card quickly and started to laugh. She had handed me the battery.

In her defense, the battery to this little camera was roughly the same size as a Compact Flash memory card, which we use in the bigger D-SLR. But it was still pretty hilarious.

A different coworker got a call today from a friend and they started talking politics. The person on the other end decided to try pulling her leg a little and told her that John McCain's middle name was Wayne. How cool would that be? John Wayne McCain. Awesome! It's not enough that McCain has that tough-as-nails persona defined by his ability to survive POW camp in Vietnam and also has a name very close to John McClane (Bruce Willis in Die Hard), but to throw the Wayne in there to summon visions of the Duke as well is just cool.

The reality of the situation, as I soon found out is that his name is John Sidney McCain III.

Once again, reality puts the kibosh on fantasy.

I'm blue, if I were green I would die...

It's been several months, but Katie thinks Bernard is finally making a return "appearance" in our house. And we think he's become a bit of a tech snob. In a good way, of course.

For the last month or so, I've had a laptop at home from work. I have it because I need Windows to run some programs and we don't yet have a Mac with an Intel processor so I can get Boot Camp and a copy of XP. So the Dell laptop has been my Band-Aid approach to remedying the situation.

On Sunday, I fired up the laptop to get some stuff done. Before I even reached the login screen, I received the dreaded BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) with what had to be the longest error message in the history of computing. Most BSoDs are just a couple lines of text that mean nothing to the average human other than "Oh crap, my computer's FUBARd!" All I remember from this message was something about a physical memory dump and I needed a restart. So I did.

The second go-round, it started and I logged in fine. Did a couple things, saved them, and then the whole system just spontaneously died. No BSoD, no warning, no nothing. Just died.

So I rebooted again. Right after I logged in, the viewable area of the screen collapsed to the upper 40% of the monitor and started racing back and forth sideways. It was like watching speedlines in anime.

Third time was the charm for me, so I shut it down and took it to the IT department yesterday morning. My tech guy checked it out for several hours, ran what he called "the most thorough diagnostic check I've ever performed in my life," and found nothing. No notes in the log files at all. Not one indication that the system had crashed or that there had been a BSoD or anything.

Katie is now convinced that we have created a monster; that Bernard has become a Mac freak because we leave our iMac on for him to play with when we're gone. And now he doesn't want anything else in our place. PCs not allowed, so he kills them. Hey, my Mac has spontaneously awoken from sleep in the middle of the night. I've seen it happen. Just wakes up for no reason whatsoever.

I guess we can add another bullet to the list... Mac owners are more likely to be found in the spirit world than PC users.

Hey, can't fault Bernard for having good taste.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Kristy Yamaguchi, Adam Carolla, Priscilla Presley, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Guttenberg, Marlee Matlin, Monica Seles, Penn Jillette, Jason Taylor, and a couple others. Hey, you had me at Yamaguchi. I'm tuning in!

Wish it were a Sunday...

Ajooja did this one, claiming that it "looks harmless enough." Oh yeah? It's 50 friggin' questions long. Harmless my ass (speaking of "harm" and "ass"...). But, seeing as how I've got nothing else and it's getting pretty late in the day, I'm going to tackle it anyway.

(On a side note: I did post the pictures from NIU on Flickr. Check 'em out if you get a chance.)

1. Do you like blue cheese?
Love it with a passion. Katie hates it. She won't come near it or eat anything that's even touched it.

2. Have you ever smoked heroin?
Can you? I thought you injected heroin. But that's how hip to drug culture I am. I did see a full crack vial on the streets of New Orleans once, though. That's about the closest I've come to anything DEA-worthy.

3. Do you own a gun?
Nope. But I am quite adept at firing them as my dad owns several and taught both my brother and me how to properly use guns. Don't own one, though.

4. What flavor do you add to your drink at Sonic?
Never been to Sonic.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor's appointments?
Yes, especially when I know I'm going to be checked, er, there by a cute nurse. Not good. And you wonder why my heart rate was high.

6. What do you think of hot dogs?

7. Favorite Christmas song?
God will strike me down for this, but Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas." I'm a sucker for it. Don't like anything else she's done save for that song.

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning?
Depends on if I remember to drink anything at all. I do really like orange juice and red grapefruit juice.

9. Can you do push ups?
Yes, but not very well. Not at all.

10. What do you order at Starbucks?
Green tea. Their coffee can be a bit strong.

11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry?
I have a wedding ring and a Livestrong bracelet. My fave, of course, being the wedding ring.

12. Favorite hobby?
Blogging and photography.

13. How do you eat your eggs?
Any number of ways... scrambled, fried, soft boiled, hard boiled, omelette, etc.

14. Do you have A.D.D.?
Not likely. OCD? To some degree. Anal retentiveness to the nth degree.

15. What’s one trait you hate about yourself?
My weight. I'm trying, though. Really I am.

16. Your eye color?
I defer to ajooja's answer as I get the same damn comment that he does. I feel your pain, brother!

17. Name three thoughts at this exact moment?
NIU, Florida (be there in a couple weeks), and getting the damn walls done (touch up work).

18. Name three things you bought yesterday?
Beef fried rice, egg rolls, and General Tso's chicken, among other Chinese food favorites.

19. Three drinks you regularly drink?
Orange juice, coffee, hot tea (usually green, but I'm digging darjeeling lately)

20. Current worry right now?
Prying myself away from the computer and working on the walls.

21. Current hate right now?

22. Favorite place to be?
San Francisco.

23. How did you bring in the New Years?
Half-dressed snow angels!

24. Where would you like to go?
Some place with sun and no snow.

25. Name three people who will complete this?
No clue whatsoever.

26. Do you own slippers?
I usually wear sandals like my Birkenstocks or my Adidas sport sandals. I think I may own slippers, but I don't know where they are.

27. What shirt are you wearing?
My workout shirt. It's an Aurora University Fit-4-U Weeks of Wellness shirt. God this thing is old.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
I don't think I ever have. We use "sateen" sheets, which are pretty nice.

29. Can you whistle?
Three different ways... the traditional purse-lipped whistle both on exhale and inhale as well as a more loose-lipped, smile whistle so it doesn't look like you are doing it. The last one requires more of the whistle soundmaking be done with your tongue than your lips.

30. Favorite color?

31. Would you be a pirate?
I prefer ninja! But a bit of plundering might be fun every once in a while.

32. What songs do you sing in the shower?
What don't I sing in the shower. Just depends on what's in my head.

33. Favorite girl’s name?
Katie. If I divulge any others, we'd be giving away names for our future kiddies.

34. Favorite boy’s name?
Kevin. Duh. Seriously, though, I'm not sure. I've got several and they could wind up as kids' names, too.

35. What’s in your pocket right now?
Nothing. The pockets in my warm-up pants are pretty shallow.

36. Last thing that made you laugh?
An e-mail conversation with a coworker that involved the word "ballin'."

37. Most frequently dialed phone number?
Wife's cell.

38. Worst injury you’ve ever had?
My lower back a few times now. I hate reinjuring that one.

39. Do you love where you live?
Not when it snows like it has been lately.

40. How many TVs do you have?

41. Who is your loudest friend?
MadIrishMan. Let's see if he reads this.

42. How many dogs do you have?
None. Yet.

43. What are you thrilled about right now?
Similar to ajooja, yet again, our trip to Orlando in two weeks. Got a conference that the job is sending me to and Katie's tagging along. We're staying at Coronado in Disney World. NICE!

44. Do you have a crush on someone?
My wife. Always have and pray I always will.

45. What is your favorite book?
Oh, good choice, ajooja! But mine is still Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. I harp on that one a lot, but it's sooo worth it.

46. What is your favorite candy?
Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Necco Wafers.

47. Favorite Sports Team?
Chicago Bears.

48. What song do you want played at your funeral?
I'm not sure I want a song played at my funeral. If someone is a fan, the sudden association with my death would ruin the song for them forever.

49. What were you doing at 12 AM last night?

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up?
What the hell am I doing up at this hour?

As always, steal at will!

Avec moi, c'est soi...

I know you're supposed to add "in bed" to the end of fortune cookie fortunes, right? Well, what if, after having Chinese food, you receive the following two fortunes?

"Enjoy your own company. If you don't, who will?"


"Magic will be created when an unconventional person comes to stay."

I don't want to add "in bed" to either of those. Kinda scary.

Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to bed... with someone else who is not an unconventional person, thank you very much.

Happy happy happy happy...

Happy 31st birthday to Katie!

And how are we celebrating? Well, she wanted to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant.

Plain and simple.

I asked her if she really wanted to do this, to go to DeKalb, on her birthday of all days.

She said she's not letting the actions of one idiot ruin her day. So we're going there. And we're going to visit our school and our town and we're going to love it.

And I love her for it.

Oh, and SJ, my camera battery is charged up and ready to go.

I remember you...

Sorry, I'm still in a bit of a funk over the happenings of yesterday. Some clarification is in order, though. 22 people shot. Six are dead as of this morning (seven if you include the gunman, which I do not). Four victim's names have been released and they are Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester, IL; Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero, IL; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville, IL; and Julianna Gehant, 32, of Meridan, IL. The other two victims' and the gunman's names have not been released yet.

There are conflicting reports so far as I can tell about the university's response. Campus Police and other law enforcement agencies were on the scene within two minutes. I'd call that impressive. Some news agencies report that an e-mail did not go out to students until an hour after the shootings occurred. Yet, one student interviewed on AM radio said the student portal of the Web site was updated with the incident within 10 or 15 minutes so he knew not to go to his next class. I can confirm that the main homepage had news up within 20 minutes. Yet the timing of the e-mail is what everyone is going to remember and harp on about.

And, of course there was Nancy Grace more than willing to jump on board and hype this as the new St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Great. I dunno if she was the first or not. But she was the first one I saw using the name. Thanks a pantload. It's not as though I didn't already hate you enough, now you have to jump in with the all-too-obvious allusion to Chicago's horrific past.

Being eight years removed from being a student there, I was having trouble thinking of exactly which building Cole Hall was. I had it envisioned in my head because I had a class in the fateful lecture hall (two, actually). But I was still trying to picture where it was in relation to other buildings; it was such a nondescript and forgettable building. So I checked out a campus map on the NIU Web site. This is when I was shocked into a bit greater realization in terms of proximity. Check this map snippet out...


Number 31 is Cole Hall where the shootings happened. Number 33 (Neptune Central) became a bit of a triage and patient care center. Neptune Central is a building full of offices, dining areas, meeting rooms, and basically a centralized gathering area for students that live in 32 (Neptune West), 34 (Neptune North), and 35 (Neptune East). I was the Hall Director of #32. My building was featured prominently in b-roll footage used by news organizations throughout the night. I lived there for two years. Katie did, too. That's where we met. That's where we fell in love. Number 25 (DuSable Hall) is where most of my undergrad and grad classes were taught. Number 28 (Watson Hall) is where my office, classroom, and A/V editing labs were located when I was a Graduate Teaching Assistant. The parking lot indicated by the red arrow is where Katie and I would sit in the back of my truck and have picnic lunches between classes and work.

Okay, I'm really sorry. I need to get past this and stop depressing all of you.

Sometimes the best way to help move on is to remember the simple things. They always make life better. Simple things like waking up this morning and having Katie still asleep next to me. When I leaned over to kiss her, she instinctively reached out and touched my face. But her hand was covered in her sweatshirt sleeve. She's cold. No wonder, she kicked off her blanket. I pulled the blanket back up over her and watched as she nestled into its warmth. I got up and went to take my shower.

And there's also this cute little Valentine's Day e-mail I received from Noodles & Company. It made me smile...


Like I said, sometimes it's the little things.

Update: It was actually five victims in DeKalb. Apparently people were misinterpreting reports from a DuPage County hospital and thought there was a sixth. And the fifth victim is Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream. Sorry this update is a little late, but I didn't realize it had misinformation in it. Better late than never.

Shots ring out...

Today was starting off so well.

Exchanging Valentine's Day gifts with Katie. A lunch shared with all my coworkers. Getting ahead on several projects (even finishing a few).

And then this...

A gunman on the campus of Northern Illinois University.

Several people were reported to have been taken away in ambulances. Unconfirmed reports of four people shot. The gunman is thought to have killed himself. Emergency vehicles all over campus. Classes canceled and people sent away. Far away.

Niulogo This was my home for six and a half years. I earned two degrees from this school. It is a half hour away from where Katie and I now live. Katie got her degree there. So did my brother. I worked on the campus as a Front Desk Attendant, Hall Council President, Resident Assistant, Hall Director, and Teaching Assistant.

I developed lifelong friends there. I keep in touch with old professors and actually still work with one. Katie and I visit semi-regularly just to see what's what. To visit the bookstore and buy new swag. To dine at our favorite Mexican restaurant. We love that campus and we love that town.

And we are both in shock.

Complete and utter, mind-numbing shock.

Why are the people in this world so goddamned stupid?

To the current classes of Huskies, know that the hearts of your alumni are with you in your time of need.

To those injured, may you recover quickly.

To those who succumb to their injuries, may you never be forgotten.

To those that perpetrated these acts... I have no words. Just anger, confusion, and hatred. I don't like using that word, but I can't come up with a better one.

I want you to love me...

Vdaypourelle Katie: "So what are you blogging about tomorrow?"
Kevin: "Self-Love Day."
Katie: "I don't think the world needs to read about that."
Kevin: "Love you, too."

So, despite the detractors and doubters, today is Self-Love Day and I plan to celebrate it. And if you'd like to do so, click on the link above or the image at right and check out what it's all about.

What do I love about myself? I love that I have found the capacity to love another person and that she loves me back. Um, that would be Katie, you smartasses.

Before Katie, I went through a series of slightly self-destructive relationships in which my feelings went unrequited. Trying to date those that were not genuinely interested in me. Re-dating one girlfriend. Being cheated on... twice. Being the one that somebody cheated on their significant other with (I truly had no idea, seriously).

And all this left me somewhat jaded as you might expect. I got to a point where I was content with the idea of living my life through a series of sordid flings. Of course, not a single fling happened either, but it was, at the time, a nice thought.

Then Katie came along and I realized it was possible to love and be loved in return. And I thank her for that.

So now, according to the rules, it's your turn to say something nice about me. And, if you decide to participate on your own blogs, let me know so I do go over there and read. My feed reader should catch it, but it's been a bit wonky of late. Some feeds aren't coming through until many hours later.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): One of my biggest frustrations with Typepad since the start was their lack of "smart" spam comment filters. They claimed they had a system in place that would learn as you mark comments or trackbacks as spam. Well, it was all a bunch of bunk. I kept reporting the same sort of messages (even with the same message, sender, and IP address) over and over again. So much for "smart," eh? But I kept hoping against hope it might happen.

Somebody seems to have listened. They now have a system in place that seems to learn what is spam and now they put it in a separate section of your "List Comments" area so you can check them to make sure they are actually spam. In the last couple months, I have found about a dozen messages in there. This morning, I looked and found that in the last seven days, I'd been hit with 275 spam comments. And Typepad caught all but one all by itself. Do you realize how pissy I would be if I had to go through and delete them all myself? I don't want to be pissy on Self-Love Day. That just wouldn't be good.

I'm so proud of you, Typepad. They grow up so quickly, don't they? *sniffle*

TUA2: Katie told me she heard on TV or the radio about this new thing called the Doodle 4 Google contest. Basically, it's a contest open to K-12 students to design a homepage screen for Google's search engine based on the theme "What If." After going through a series of state and regional selection stages, the final overall winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship to the college of their choice, a trip to Googleplex, a laptop (hopefully a Mac!), a T-shirt with their logo, and a $25,000 grant for the establishment or improvement of computer facilities in their school.

How freakin' cool is that?

So if you have a K-12 kid who likes to doodle or design stuff or you are an educator in that level, click on the link above. May as well get some money for the skills, right?

I want to be a kid again. This would be right up my alley.

And I said, 'no, no, no'...

"And will you be paying for your purchase with your Kohl's card today?"
"Why not?"
"Because I don't have a Kohl's card."
"Why not?"
"My wife has one."
"Well would you like one of your own?"
"If you open a Kohl's charge account, you can save up to 30% on today's purchase."
"You will be eligible for savings opportunities 12 to 18 times per year."
"You can use today's savings to buy something nice for your wife."
"It's interest free."
"No," I said even more forcefully. "Look, I don't want to be a jerk, but I just don't want to get my own Kohl's card. I appreciate your efforts but I really would like to just buy these two things and leave as I'm on my lunch break and have limited time and several errands left to run."
"Thank you."

Dear God, what the heck happened to 'no means no'? Just let me give you my damn money and go.

The guy behind me in line, "I'll save you the time... no."

Lovin', touchin', squeezin'...

So I was back at Goodwill yesterday scanning the book racks (yes, again) and I saw one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

On one shelf, I found a copy of Pregnancy for Dummies. Not only did I have no idea that such a Dummies book existed, but I found it odd that someone suddenly felt they had no use for the book anymore. I'm afraid to ask for a clarification of the circumstances surrounding the decision to donate it. But something tells me that if you either felt the need to buy it at one time or someone felt the urge to buy it for you, you should probably never get rid of it.

But wait! It gets better.

It was sitting on the bookshelf labeled "TEEN."

Heh heh. Someone must've really hated Juno.

On a semi-related note and to be filed under "This World Would Be So Much Better If Rick Hilton Had Just Wrapped His Wang" comes this little gem from everyone's favorite socialite... Paris is putting out (heh heh) a line of girls dolls.

Blissfully, mercifully, thankfully (I feel like I'm writing the next Journey hit), they are not sculpted in her image, just designed by her.

So who wants to be the first person to come up with a new doll name to be added to the line?

On a related aside, I love how Wikipedia's filmography for Paris lists 1 Night in Paris (her porn) as one of her "films." Funny stuff.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): No wait, I guess, considering I was talking about Paris Hilton, this could still be considered "related." Meh, semantics. Oh, and NSFW.

Thank you,

Let love rule...

Remember the Westboro Baptist Church (no link, they don't deserve it) of Topeka, KS? The name Fred Phelps? Not ringing any bells? This is the church of so-called Christians, who, in the name of some God (certainly not my God), and led by Fred Phelps, protest the funerals of those killed in the Iraq War and, more recently, protested Heath Ledger's funeral because of his tacit endorsement of gay lifestyles through his portrayal of Ennis Del Mar in Brokeback Mountain.

Now do you remember them? Is your gut churning with disbelief and anger that anybody can call themselves either human or God-loving and pull this sort of shit?

Well, this past weekend they were at it here in the Chi-burbs.

This time they were protesting the funerals of Sarah Szafranski and Connie Woolfork, two of the victims in the Lane Bryant shootings last week in Tinley Park. According to the "Church," they are protesting because Lane Bryant supposedly sells clothes to transvestites and transsexuals and, by sending this shooter into Lane Bryant, God has shown his disapproval of these lifestyles.

They next plan to protest the funerals of victims of last week's tornados as well as an upcoming Marilyn Manson concert, the Oscars and a showing of The Laramie Project, a play about the murder of Matthew Shepherd.

This church has been classified as a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty and Law Center (though I have no idea what authority they have to do so and if their decision would ever hold up in a court of law) and a parent of a soldier killed in Iraq did successfully sue the church, although it's now on appeal. So those are two steps in the right direction, in my mind.

While I'm proud of the Tinley Park Police Department in how they handled the protest by placing fire trucks between the protesters and the mourners at the cemetery, I'm not sure I would've handled it quite so well if I was there. I think I would have been turning the hoses on those self-righteous, delusional pricks. And, when the water ran out, I'd probably be beating them with it.

I'm sorry. I know I'm not the most religious guy and can't really speak as to what God is really thinking. But I do like to believe that God is a pretty tolerant guy. Sure, he gets angry when stupid things are done. But I don't believe he judges based on lifestyle. Except, ideally, the lifestyle chosen by Fred Phelps and his three or four churchgoers/family members, which should wind up with a condemnation to Hell. It's what they deserve, right?

I get the feelin' you won't...

I have but one simple question...

Is it asking too much for places of business to have decent toilet paper? Something that, when you hold it up to the light, can't be seen through? Is that really so big a request?

I suppose so.


Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): How do some stores and restaurants get away with saying they have "Free WiFi" when you are required to have a subscription to a service like AT&T or Verizon to access it? Doesn't sound "free" to me. Asshats.

I'm in a bad mood today, aren't I?

Every silver lining's got a touch of grey...

Katie and I visited one of our favorite wineries this afternoon. We had seen signs in the window indicating that they were soon to be moving and wanted to find out where. Knowing the amount of business that they do, we figured they were just moving to larger digs either in our town or a neighboring one.

Oh, how wrong we were. They are, in fact, consolidating with one of their other stores and tasting centers in Sandwich, IL, about an hour or so away.

My first reaction? Where the hell is Sandwich? And why the hell do they want to move there. Geneva, where the winery is currently located, is a really cool little boutique town with a vibrant downtown area, lots of shops, restaurants, bars, bike paths, and a commuter train line that heads into Chicago.

Sandwich? The last I was in town, their highlight event was a 4H festival and county fair. Not to knock county fairs and the 4H, but damn. It's the western fringe of the Chicagoland suburbs. That cutoff before you wind up in the country around DeKalb and then Rockford and its suburbs beyond that.

I could be wrong. Perhaps Sandwich has improved leaps and bounds in the years since I've been there. But I've never heard anything that would make me want to return. And certainly not make an hour or more trip down there for a winery, even if we do love it.

We may make a point of going to pick up our quarterly wine club purchase, but gone will be the spontaneous stops where we pick up a bottle or four of wine just for kicks.

But on the plus side, and speaking of "sandwich," we finally tried a little deli in the downtown area that ROCKS. It's called MichaelAngelos Deli and all their sandwiches are fresh made right in front of you, they have every sandwich imaginable (even veggie and cheese sandwiches for you, Dave!), and just plain delicious. And lord knows I love me a good samitch.

They also have a really great idea in that they're open at 6 a.m., Monday through Friday, for the sake of commuters traveling into the city on the morning train who want to pack a lunch to take with them. I may just have to make a point of dropping by before I drive into work on occasion. This sandwich is worth it.

I guess every negative has its upside, eh?

Baby, you can drive my car...

A friend of mine met this woman the other day. Nice enough woman. About a decade older than us. But she has a problem.

Moleman The problem is with her eyesight. It's not great. Not great at all. Heck, it's not even decent. She wears big coke bottle glasses that, when you look at her eyes through them, according to my friend, make her look like Hans Moleman from The Simpsons with the really tiny eyes. He swears he's not picking on her, it's the truth. And the two of them have joked about it.

But, anyway, she moved to the Chicago area from a bordering state just a few years ago and my friend asked, as an extension of their conversation, why she had relocated.

"Well," she started. "My old state refused to renew my Driver's License because of my eyesight."

Uh oh.

"Illinois renewed my Driver's License without a problem."

Warm, cozy feeling not present and accounted for at the moment.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, this is not totally unrelated as it does still pertain to cars in some sense of it all.

I'm sure many of you have become aware of the new Knight Rider series that is set to air pretty soon on NBC. No, I have no plans to watch it. It scares me. But anyway, the new voice of KITT, Michael Knight's AI-based car, was supposed to be Will Arnett from Arrested Development and Blades of Glory. Turns out he's been asked to relinquish the role by General Motors. Why? Because Will is the voiceover talent for many GM ads and the new KITT is a Ford Mustang.

Can you believe that crap?

So, NBC now has Val Kilmer on board to provide a voice for KITT. The best line of this whole article on IMDb is "presumably, the makers of the Batmobile will have no objection." Heh.

Look like crooked teeth...

This is going to sound stupid, but, honestly, what on this blog is anything other than sheer stupidity? Hence why I'm continuing with this post.

Have you ever felt intimidated by a common bathroom item? Wait, wait, wait... get your minds out of the gutter. It's not that bad. It's actually much more mundane than that.

It's my new toothbrush.

Katie bought some replacement toothbrushes the other day. I guess the old ones were bent and green enough that it seemed to be time (I keed, I keed). I looked at my new toothbrush this morning and suddenly felt very... well... unworthy. It was this massive piece of sculpted plastic with rubber grips and couplets of large rubber bristles surrounding a core of slightly raised bristles and three circular, recessed brush heads.

I swear this thing is more complex than the systems used to power the Space Shuttle. Who the hell designed this thing? MIT?

Frontendloader I grabbed the package out of the garbage can and began to scan the card to see if any special qualifications were necessary to operate this toothbrush. Hey, just because I have a driver's license doesn't mean I can jump behind the controls of a front end loader, right?

Nothing. No call for a dentist's note. No special licensure. Not one little thing.

But, in all honesty, this is not the first time I've been terrified by the dental industry. And not just the whole fear of visiting the dentist's office, either. Have you ever shopped for a toothbrush? Most of the time, I just use what my dentist gives me. Far simpler that way. But we only visit a dentist once every six months and the recommended amount of time between toothbrush replacement is once every three months.

That means that twice a year we need to venture to the toothbrush aisle and play a game of "which one looks like it does a decent job but doesn't require a home equity loan." There are seriously like 40,000 different styles of toothbrushes out there! It's disgusting.

What happened to the good ol' days? The days when you simply asked "does it have bristles and does it fit in your mouth?" to determine which toothbrush would be good.

I just reread that last line and... oh... sorry. That's not how you needed to start your day, was it?

Just a drop in the bucket...

Okay, I voted yesterday. I got off my butt and headed out to the polls to do my part in making this country a better place (ha!).

But I do have a couple complaints about the whole ordeal...

One, they moved my polling place without telling me. No letter. No phone call. No nothing. Maybe it was in the newspaper, but I don't subscribe to the paper in my town, so that does me no good. I wound up late for work after traveling to the new location.

Votingmachine Two, what is up with this balloting machine? I'm not sure who else is using this thing, but it's a bit odd. It has this little scroll wheel that I use to select my choices and several buttons to move forward and back and confirm my choice. It's like a highly primitive iPod. But very awkward in its use.

I miss the chad punches of yore.

Three, I was not allowed to vote however the hell I wanted. I had to declare a party affiliation before voting, which I think is absolute BS. I should be able to vote for whoever I want and not be forced to pick one side or the other of the line in the sand.

My only options were Republican, Democrat, Green, or Other. Of course, the Other category doesn't cover them all and I couldn't write in say I wanted to throw someone of another party on my ballot.




Let me pick who I want regardless of party affiliation! I realize this changes in the November General Election, but I'm still going to cry foul about it right here and now.

It was explained to me yesterday by a coworker that the purpose of the Primaries is to establish who within a party gets to represent the party at the General Election (even though this isn't entirely true, either, as the Conventions make the final determination if a candidate does not get enough delegates through Primary voting). However, as a person who thinks the two-party system in the U.S. (the third party will never be viable if Republicans and Democrats can help it) should be abolished, I still firmly believe that exceptions need to be made for those of us who would like to lend Primary Election support to people from a variety of parties. What if the Presidential candidate I like is a Democrat, but a Senate candidate is a Republican? Why should I not be allowed to lend support to both? It's BS.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Wiiitis? Really? This is how it's going to be reported in medical journals? Insurance claim forms? Oh what a world we live in.

Would you actually report this if it happened to you or just man up and go do something other than gaming for a while to get over it?

I just wanna fly...

Katie and I like to travel. We've been to a few places together on vacation and have absolutely loved the time that we spent in these new worlds. We'd love to travel more and we have a laundry list of locales that we'd like to see before we kick the bucket (hopefully that's no time soon).

But we never know when this is going to happen. The cost of traveling and seeing the world just gets worse and worse. Unless you're lucky enough to travel as part of your job and can write off many of your expenses or you're just rich, you're pretty much screwed.

This is the boat that Katie and I are in. We don't get paid to travel (not regularly, anyway), we don't have a lot of vacation time, and we don't have a bank account bursting at the seams with cash.

And now we have companies such as United Airlines nickel and diming us even more than they already do.

Yeah, United is tossing around the idea of charging people money for any baggage beyond one piece that you check into the underbelly of the plane. $25 to boot.

It's bad enough that we have to pay for any and all food on flights now and exorbitant rates at that. What's next? I'm waiting for them to say that iPods and other personal audio/video devices are no longer permitted and you must pay for all on-board entertainment. I wouldn't put it past them.

Typically, I'm a proponent of competition in the marketplace. Usually, the more companies you have, the lower the price, right? Well, that's how it's supposed to work anyway. But clearly the airline industry is immune. I'd say that we need government intervention and regulation of the airline industry, but I don't think it would be much better under their "oversight." We've seen how well they manage money.

What the hell is the average wannabe globetrotter to do?

The foulest stench is in the air...

Some people might argue that television has an all-too-pervasive role in our lives. That it has become a dominant aspect of our everyday existence.

I'd likely agree.

But you know it's bad when you visit a gas station and find they now install flat panel LCD TVs above each pump for our "viewing pleasure."

I love TV as much as the next person, but, dang. Even I can do without it long enough to pump some gas into my car. Plus, you'd think with the smell that emanates from a gas station and the fact that we're doling out ungodly sums of cash to big oil companies that I'd just want to steer clear of pumping stations for any longer than I absolutely have to.

However, this morning, something was different... I actually watched the TV monitors. And kept watching. And when the pump nozzle clicked off indicating that my tank was full, I found I didn't want to leave. I wasn't done watching. I wanted more. And this despite the bitter cold out. I was ready to pull up an easy chair and grab some snacks from inside the shop 'n' go and just watch until I was good and ready to leave. I'm certain this is not what they had in mind when installing the TVs, but it might be wise to prepare just in case I'm not the only one.

How freakin' sad am I?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie would like to point out that the nose won it yesterday! And only by a nose. Heh.

Another Patriot Super Sunday...

Eli_manningI've been told that the Super Bowl starts in a few hours.

I'm a football fan. I'm sure you all know that.

And yet I have not picked a team to root for in this game. I don't care too much about either.

Katie's picking the Giants. She doesn't like Tom Brady (Patriots' QB) and she thinks that Eli Manning's nose (see photo at right) will power New York to a win over the Pats. Aside from that, she doesn't much care either.

We'll still watch just to see how it turns out. But with very little enthusiasm.

We may wind up clicking between the game and some Jack Ryan films. Hmm... would Patriot Games be an ironic choice?

Along these same lines of complete indecision, I still have no idea who I want to vote for on Super Tuesday. Is that strange as well?

None of the candidates have really impressed me at all. I'm very underwhelmed, in fact.

I'd like to at least be whelmed.

But, I doubt that will happen anytime in the next 36 hours.

Oh yeah, and while we're watching the Super Bowl, I will be enjoying some of Katie's brownies. The brownies intended for her hairdresser yesterday. If the hairdresser and the salon owner hadn't screwed it all up and mis-scheduled Katie's appointment. They gave her an appointment card that read 12:30 p.m., but the owner marked it in the book as 11 a.m.

They got no brownies.

But I did!

Dave, we may have to take you up on your offer. They're very special brownies! Green M&M Special!

A child is born...

Katie got in a baking zone last night. She decided she wanted to make brownies for her hairdresser since she is going in today to get her hair cut and colored and all that good stuff.

While I think this is nice and all, am I the only one who questions why, after paying ungodly sums of money to have hair done, we are spending more money on making homemade brownies for them as well? Does that just seem odd? Shouldn't they be giving us a discount as thanks? Please?

Perhaps it's just me.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I would like to wish a big ol' congratulations to my boy Brandon and his wife, Death?, on the birth of their daughter, Addie Mae DownWithPants, very early yesterday morning!

He'll probably have a post up sometime soon, so don't go looking for details and/or pictures on his site just yet. I'm sure they'll be forthcoming.

Congrats, big guy!

The weather outside is frightful...

To everybody that wished me well yesterday, my sincere thanks. I do appreciate your concern and I wanted to let you know that I'm doing better. My side still hurts a bit and coughing/sneezing are still actions I'd prefer to avoid if at all possible. But, after nearly a million milligrams of ibuprofen and wearing IcyHot patches like a fashion accessory, I am doing better.

This is why I love blogging. Most of us have never met and yet we all give a damn.

So thank you all again.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Oh how I hated driving home from work yesterday. The snow was dumping on us and the roads were horrendous. I think my 40 minute commute was doubled. Literally. In all, I think we received probably close to eight or nine inches of snow at our house with more predicted throughout the weekend.

But it was funny, every hour, Katie would peak out the back door and stick a pencil in the snow to measure it. After the pencil disappeared entirely, she gave up.

Oh, and no snow angels. Not this time anyway.

Getting to work today was surprisingly easy. It took 10 minutes longer than normal, but that was still a lot less than I expected. The roads were really empty. But, then again, most schools were closed and I'm guessing a lot of parents stayed home. So only the truly insane morons were still making the commute in to work.

Oh wait...

But I do wonder about one thing... Why does it seem that snowstorms always occur on the way home from work as opposed to happening on the way to work? Why is that? When you want to get someplace, you can't. But, driving to work this morning, the snowfall was practically non-existent. Sure, the roads were still terrible overall, but I could at least get to where I needed to be.

Not where I wanted to be, mind you. Lord knows I could've handled a snowday spent at home in my pajamas huddled up with Katie and a big ol' mug of hot chocolate.

I can dream.