Thursday, November 30, 2006

Do you hear what I’m saying?

I’m not sure when it happened, but it looks like someone finally started listening to me. I’m a little biased, but I’d say it’s about time! I’m kind of a genius. I’m really really smart and I know how things should be done. I’m not opposed to telling you that I really ought to be in charge of pretty much everything. Sometimes, you’ll find that there are those that think they know what to do, and every once in awhile they’ll get lucky, but really, they are kidding themselves. I am perfect. I wouldn’t get it wrong because I honestly don’t think I’m capable.

No wait, I take that all back. I now have to listen to Marv Albert call the Lakers game. Looks like I was wrong, no one is listening to me at all. I don’t recall asking for him to broadcast any of the Laker games this year. Nor do I recall demanding that they be shown on TNT, home of the worst camera angles in the world. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to watch the game if my seats were located under the floorboards, or if I were spinning around uncontrollably and hanging upside down from the rafters in the far northwest corner, but I’m just not sure if the ball-cam is right for any audience.

I suppose I could just turn down the volume, but honestly, what would this post be about then? How I turned down the volume on the television? I’m not entirely sure that is a marketable post. As you are all well aware, my marketing strategies are second to none. I pride myself on providing the right kind of content to bring in the proper audience for my investors. We here at the Shuck N Jive have a reputation for delivering the goods. I’m not about to tarnish that sterling reputation with some post about how I turned down the volume on the television!

Frankly, I’m a little surprised you would even suggest I’m capable of that kind of foolishness. I’m almost offended.

Just for that, I’m going to subject you to more of my computer nonsense. I’ve done a pretty poor job of documenting the whole process, but I’m sure some of the more vigilant readers are aware of my little cloning project. A few words of advise for those that are thinking about doing the same thing. Don’t. Ok, that was only one word, but it was a contraction, so I suppose one could put forth a pretty low level, unrehearsed, awkward argument that it was two words, but by the time you finish with it, your audience will be bored and no one will really care anymore.

If you’re running windows, and you have a legit copy of the the OS installation disk, I suggest you update the heck out of your current computer, install the OS again on the new hard drive and update the heck out of it. Go back to the old drive, do the files transfer wizard, follow the instructions. Burn that file it creates to a DVD, switch back to the new drive, run the wizard again and put in the DVD. You’ll have to move that file from the DVD to the new hard drive, but that’s about the best way to get it all taken care of. I could have done that in the span of one day. Instead, convinced by what I read online, I tried (painfully and unsuccessfully) to clone the hard drive. I’m sure in some far off land where people have “ideal circumstances,” cloning works. But I’ve found it to be just a frustrating experience that I’d rather not repeat. I spent many hours on it, and it didn’t work. I’m now posting from the new computer; I have all my programs and settings (and most importantly, my passwords for online activities) all loaded up and ready to work for me. If you want to upgrade, be prepared for a fairly large hassle. I wish you the best of luck… unless of course you are upgrading so that you have better equipment to hack into my system and steal from me. For those of you out there with such ambitions, I do not wish you luck. I wish you the opposite of luck, whatever that is… it’s probably called bad luck, but I’m neither disciplined enough to go back and retype those last couple of sentences nor am I quick enough to think about what I’m typing anyway.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tough Decision

I’ve hit an awkward moment in my life. I’m at the point where I have to make some big decisions. Decisions I never really thought I would have to face. I guess you grow up with this idea in your head that you aren’t going to change. That you’ll always be the same person. Maintaining the same interests, the same pastimes, enjoying the same food and just sticking to with what always works for you. You watch everyone around you change, but for some reason, you always think that you’re the same, unchanged person.

I’m getting older and my responsibilities are changing. There are things that I want to hang on to, but I wonder if it’s acceptable anymore. I also know that things can’t stay the way they are. I look around and I see a lot of my friends in the same position. I think we’re all a little lost and no one has a clue about what to do.

If it isn’t already painfully obvious, and I’m sure it is, I’m talking about video games. I’m sure you’ll all agree that few things trump video games in the area of life imperatives. When I was younger, I was an avid gamer. I had all the time in the world and no money to buy the games. I somehow made do by getting my fix from various friends and sometimes, total strangers (I’m not proud of that, but I’m not sorry either. I had a long conversation about this recently with Ben Wallace and we agree. It’s nothing to be sorry about.). Now, as I approach 30, I’ve got the money to buy the games, but I just don’t have the time to play them. I’m sure now you can all see how hard this is. I have to decide what other things to cut back on if I want to enjoy my gaming. The xbox 360, PS3 and Nintendo Wii all have such wonderful possibilities, it’s almost impossible to ignore.

You just don’t think about things like this when you’re younger. You don’t think decisions this hard will ever be put in front of you. I don’t want to be one of those guys that hangs on too long, but I’m also still to proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past to be replaced by some young punk that doesn’t even know the difference between Pac-Man and Qbert.

It’s keeping me awake at night. I appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers as I struggle through this most difficult issue.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I promise this is the last one…

Ok, so the clone was a no go. I bit the bullet and started the long, painful process of reinstalling everything that I know and love. So far, it’s been ok. The longest process is updating the hell out of windows. I did that yesterday. Today I’ve grabbed as many of the programs as I could remember and installed them. Hasn’t actually been that bad. I’m actually close to being finished.

I suspect I’ll be spending the rest of the week tweaking everything. I’m kind of busy with that right now, so I’ll keep this short. I am posting from the old desktop though, so that’s good.

I would really like to know why windows doesn’t offer something to make this process not only doable, but quick and easy. Am I really asking for something that strange? Shouldn’t they want us to be able to upgrade our hard drives? Or motherboards for that matter? I don’t even want to talk about that one again…

Ok, you can now picture me installing various programs. Captivating, isn’t it?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Do computers bleed? (please no Johnny Five references here)

I will not let this cloning project die. I really should. In fact, to contradict what I just said in that first sentence, I will let it die if today’s efforts do not work. I’m giving it one last try and if this fails me, I’ll be looking at spending the next week in painful catch-up mode on my desktop as I reinstall every program I use. I’m not really looking forward to this because of how long it will take. Not just to install the base program, but to then update the crap out of it so that I have the fullest version available. Then on to the tweaking.

I’m typing this on my laptop while the big boy is busy transferring every last bit of information from one painfully old, small, slow, and very beloved disk over to the new, cocky, hotshot disk. We’ll see if this has any effect at all on the performance of the machine. I suspect not, but at least I’ll have piece of mind.

For future reference, should this work at all, I’m going to go ahead and say that so far, Acronis Migrate Easy has been the easiest program to work with. Mainly because it mirrors the hard drive in about 20 to 25 minutes instead of 3 to 4 hours like Norton Ghost does. Both have given me the same result, so if I were out there trying to perform this painful process, I’d be more inclined to use the program that works, but since that doesn’t seem to matter, I lean towards the one that uses the least amount of my time.

For those of you that are worried about me potentially NOT posting something new for you to ignore everyday, you can let that worry go because I’ve still got the laptop in perfect condition, so you’ll have a long wait ahead of you before that happens. (that wait time will be approximately three more days past today, but you never know, I’m highly unpredictable and boring.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Time Out

I’m in terrible shape. I proved this to all of the doubters last Thursday in the annual Turkey Bowl. This was not enough for me. I needed further validation that I am, in fact, in the worst shape of my life. Today, I added to that case with a short bike ride.

I didn’t even make it to the end of the block before I was winded. Our house is located in the middle of the block, so that’s saying, “I’m more than just a little pathetic.” I’m not sure exactly how many fractions of a mile I rode my bike today, but I can tell you that when I got back, my legs were pretty much useless to me. I wanted to do things like walk and stand, but these options weren’t really available to me.

My theory is that it will take me about a month before I’m physically fit enough to play in the National Football League. I figure if I ride my bike every other day or so, that’s got to be at least twice as much as any player in the league is doing to stay in shape, so I should be right there with them in approximately 30 days. Another two weeks after that, and I should be in NBA shape. And in two months, I can’t fathom a situation where I’m not ready for the Tour de France. I mean, I’m going to be riding my bike every other day or so for at least 3 or 4 miles. How could I not compete (and most likely win) the Tour de France?? Words like, preposterous and improbable come to mind.

I’m also going to start slicking back my hair, but only on the sides. The top will be allowed to roam free as it always has. Since the last hair cut, I’ve gained a new respect for the toughness it has. I’ll never question that again. I have no idea how the slicking back of the hair will influence me in any way, but I feel that at this juncture, it is a necessary means to an unidentified end. Also, I may have been looking to add some padding to this particular post and that may, or may not have been the first thing that popped into my head.

Cloning is for suckers

Today has been an exercise in frustration. Last night I made a bold proclamation that today I would successfully clone my hard drive. I had put the project on hold since my last post. I picked it up again today. In all fairness though, I probably only spent about six hours on it before giving up.

I’m mildly convinced that there is a giant conspiracy out there who’s sole goal in life (as far as conspiracy’s lives go) is to make damn sure that I have but one small hard drive for my operating system. I have a backup plan. I can always just say screw it, reinstall windows xp pro onto the new drive, and be done with it. Problem with that is, it will take me an entire weekend at least in order to then load all of my current programs back on to the computer, as well as do all the necessary updates and upgrades. Then it will probably be about another week before I am able to get everything back up to speed with those programs as far as tweaking and tinkering is concerned. I like to meddle you see. I rarely go with the defaults of any program, especially when it comes to saving locations. So I’m not really looking forward to doing that.

I’d actually rather spend an entire week trying to figure out how to properly clone the damn thing. It would be worth it in the end because then I’d at least be happy with the knowledge that all the programs are set up properly. I haven’t been able to find much help online. That’s been a little frustrating.

In the highly unlikely event that someone is just cruising the net for problems they want to solve, here’s the deal: I’ve used both Norton Ghost 10.0 and Acronis Easy Migrate to try and clone. Both state that they can clone and resize the old drive to the new drive without problems. I’ve read online that plenty of people have claimed to do this flawlessly. Each time I run the program, it also announces success with the cloning. I unplug the old drive, switch the jumper on the new drive to make it the master, then I reboot. Everything starts to load up. I get the Windows XP splash screen, then I get to the blue screen with the small windows XP logo on it where it would usually give me the option of clicking on a user and entering a password, however, I get no users to choose from, all I get is a tiny little logo on a big blue screen with no responsiveness at all. It’s really pretty frustrating. I’m not sure what I’m missing.

Any help would be much appreciated. But not in a monetary way… think more like a good karma kind of way.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I’m in the business of happy

I’m not in retail or food services, but somehow I managed to find one of those awesome jobs that still allow you to work the day after Thanksgiving. I have a well-documented, irrational fear of four-day weekends. I’m afraid I’ll learn how to have fun again. That’s not something I’m ready to deal with, so for the time being, I consider myself lucky to be working on days like this, earning money rather than spending it on all the ridiculous black Friday deals. Don’t worry though, the pleasure of waking up at 6 am was not lost on me since I get to do that every day that I go to work.

As the day wore on, I began to notice that not everyone in the office shares my same joy of working on black Friday. They like to bring up statistic like, “over 70% of the work force has today off, but not us.” They complain about how they have nothing to do since about 90% of the clients we work with have today off. After listening to them whine about it all day, I started to see their point.

Then I remembered that the squads of gunman that used to follow us around and force us to work at this job were “Right Sized” about a year ago. If you don’t want to work the hours, unlike last year, this year you can go find another job with hours more to your liking. Also, you got to go home 2 hours earlier than I did and you were slow all day whereas I was drowning in work because my client has been possessed by satan himself and finds no use for things like, food, sleep, spending time with the family, or any other such holiday nonsense. My client lives to make thousands of subtle changes to their orders and communicate them in the most inefficient way possible. So shut your yap.

When did our jobs become a right and not a privilege? Are you not in control of your own life? If you’re not happy, are you unable to do anything about it? When did you become incapable of deciding what you did and did not like and acting accordingly? What unmovable force is preventing you from saying, “I do not find this job to my liking; I think I will go find another one that suits my personality and abilities better.” And most importantly, why can’t I listen to my own advice?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

THE game

I learned something today. I was afraid that as the years have piled up on me, I had lost something. I thought maybe I was a step slower. Anyone that watched today’s greatest football game might also be inclined to think that I’ve slowed down a bit. For all intensive purposes, my game does look like it has deteriorated. But I assure you it has not. My reflexes have not slowed down one iota. My hands and feet are as nimble as ever.

What I learned today, is that while my reflexes look dull and my body slow, they are not. I learned that my problem is that the muscles receiving commands from my brain and consequently controlling my body are the problem, not the way the messages are being sent. The problem is with the execution of those commands. I’m sure you will all be shocked to hear this, but it turns out that sitting at a desk for 8-12 hours a day for almost 4 years straight is not, as they say, the way to an athletically superior body. Slow-pitch softball once a week doesn’t seem to be doing the trick either… (maybe that’s why they call it an old man’s game…)

The good news is that I didn’t pull anything, break anything or herniate anything (that’s a big one). Ultimately, my team lost. And since no one on that team reads this blog, I feel very comfortable telling you, the internet readers, that it is a direct result of them not playing a team game. We had 9 on 9 (virtually unheard of numbers for a turkey bowl), but only 4 of those guys seemed to think they were playing. I was not among those four, thus I had the ball thrown my way approximately twice in the two hours we were out there playing. One I caught and ran in for a touchdown, the other, I’m being generous when I say it was thrown in my direction. Those in the know would use a certain fowl reference for the type of pass that was tossed up. I also had one interception that didn’t have much of a runback because I was in heavy traffic. But I should point out that it was the first interception in the game, and it sparked 3 unanswered touchdowns by my team.

We lost 9 scores to 10. I’ve called a 5 am practice for tomorrow morning and we’ll be doing two-a-days until our next game.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Bowl 2006

Well, it’s that time of year. Time to give thanks for football. As I have for the past 3 years in a row, I will pay homage to this wonderful sport in the only way I know how; I will be participating once again in a game of flag football tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM. Unfortunately for this year’s game, a few of the previous stars, and one former MVP will not be able to play this year… some due to personal conflicts and one former MVP due to recent surgery. They will be missed.

I’m sure some of you are wondering, so I’ll cut to the chase and inform you that yes, this years game is sold out, so if you were hoping to get tickets, good luck. I’m sure someone is willing to sell theirs on ebay (although I don’t know why) and you may even be able to find a scalper at the game, but do you really want to chance it? I’m also sad to announce that once again, this game will not be televised due to the strict purity laws established in 2003. Frankly, the advertisers were gaining too much control and the committee felt that the game itself was being corrupted and not honored properly.

I’m not advocating this, but don’t be surprised if a bootleg copy of the game ends up on the internet sometime this weekend. No matter how hard we try to stop the fans from video taping the game with any number of today’s available technology, we always miss something. Not to mention the size of some of the devices these days. It’s amazing how small they can make a portable video camera. You’d swear it was a cigarette lighter (by the way, the league in no way condones the use of tobacco or any tobacco related products) but then it turns out to be a high-def camcorder with a 3 terabyte, built-in, hard drive, blue tooth capable and linked to the user’s cell phone, streaming a live video feed on the internet… These kids today and their new fangled gadgets… I want one.

Fortunately for my readers, they will get a first hand report of the games action, so look forward to that with great anticipation. If you want to know what to expect in a game like this… well, you just have to ask me, “Have you ever returned a kickoff for a touchdown? Yes. Have you ever returned an interception for a touchdown? Yes. Have you ever thrown a touchdown pass? Yes. Have you ever caught a pass for a touchdown? Yes. Have you ever done all of the above in the same game? Why yes, yes I have, thank you for asking! Again, wait with great anticipation for the report tomorrow… good luck sleeping tonight.

Living the dream

Have you ever had one of those days where you get into work early, work through lunch, stay late and drive home completely exhausted? Then you take a look back on the day and think, “Wow, I really made a difference today. I’m tired as hell, but I DID something today!”

Yeah, me neither.

I’m not saying that I’m happy I get Thursday off, I’m saying that I’m ecstatic! However, there is a slight damper being put on the elation of Thursday’s not working, and it is a direct result of the slight whistling noise that is currently being emitted from my left nostril. I can’t seem to stop it.

I’ve tried everything. Ok, not everything. Everything is a lot of things, and I’m not bold enough to try and convince anyone out there that I have exhausted every feasible solution to extracting the whistling sound from my left nostril. But suffice to say, I’ve tried a number of things other than just ignoring it.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but nose whistling is one of my least favorite abnormal bodily functions. Believe me, I’ve got a huge list of favorites in that department, and this is very, very low on that list. I’m not even sure how it made the list. I’m really surprised it hasn’t been moved over to my most hated abnormal bodily functions list. Honestly, it would really be a good career move for nose whistling. It would soar up the charts on that list. But I see the origination date on this list is March 12, 1985. I was a very naïve seven year old at the time. I probably had no idea how annoying some sounds were back then. I know that in 1997, during a major reconstruction period in my body’s government, a lot of big changes were made, but the nose whistling probably got grandfathered into the new list. It’s overall ranking suffered greatly though.

I’m not even sure what my point is in all of this. I’m almost 100% certain it had something to do with not wanting to have a post that was only a few sentences long, but I’m way too tired to bet on that. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest if I just went to bed right now. Until next time…

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Trouble With California

There is a problem here in California that often goes un-addressed. I’ve never been one to sit back and let these things go by without voicing my opinion, and as I’ve often said, this blog is really just a sounding board for all the un-addressed problems we have here in California. Or more specifically, here in Southern California.

I’m not going to dance around the issue like I usually do, I’m going to get straight to the point. The biggest problem with living in Southern California is the weather. It’s down right cruel what we have to put up with. Those of you in other parts of the country have no idea what we’re forced to endure here.

Allow me to give you an example…

Today is November 20, 2006. It’s a Monday, so I have to go to work. I’m locked up inside a building all day. Not unlike many of you out there. The difference for me is that when I do get to go outside for lunch, it’s 75 degrees and sunny. It’s outrageous!! Who could be that mean? It is entirely too nice outside to be stuck inside a cubicle all day. What I wouldn’t give for a snowstorm, or at least an exceptionally frigid day. It would certainly make it a lot easier to work. Heck, I’d probably be happy just to be inside some sort of shelter. I wouldn’t spend all my time wishing I could be outside, having fun.

Can you imagine living in a world like this? Everyday is gorgeous outside and you’re forced to work. Where is the justice in that? I guess you get what you pay for though. I’m sure that when people sign those mortgages for 800K+, they put in a weather rider so that they don’t have to deal with bad weather while they pay back that ungodly mortgage.

I’m not going to say exactly how much work I did or did not get done today because I’m always expanding on that already extensive air of mystery. I will have an extra day off this week on Thursday, so I’ll try not to spend it all inside, which won’t be easy what with all the delicious food and football.

Is there a doctor in the house?

I have a new question. Truth is, I have questions all the time. Some of them I’m willing to investigate myself, some of them I’m not. Guess which one this is? I’ll get to my actual question in a bit. As some of you may know, I’m a bit long winded and slow to the point, so I have a reputation to maintain. Allow me to give a little back-story…

I’m not a klutz. I don’t fall down easily, I don’t trip a lot, I’m not constantly stubbing my toes or bumping my head. I can get a little careless sometimes, but who doesn’t? I’m also not bad with tools. If you hand me the right tool for the job, I’ll probably be able to figure out how to use in such a way so as to not A) Decapitate myself, B) Paralyze myself, or C) remove any of my working limbs. (I realize that sentence implies that I have one, or possibly dozens of non working limbs, I won’t elaborate on that right now, I’ll just let you chalk that one up to my amazing air of mystery.) I’ve been fairly successful up to this point maintaining my body’s state of complete “intactness,” but sometimes I slip up.

Slip-ups occur when I get lazy or when the project gets frustrating. From time to time, I’ve been known to nick my self a little here and there. This may or may not have happened today. (The air of mystery is quite thick, no?) And if this did or did not happen, I may or may not have sealed the cut with super glue.

My question is this: Is there any medical risk associated with gluing your skin back together with super glue?

It would really be in my best interest if the answer to that question happened to be no. I’m not saying if it matters today or not, I’m just saying that in the past, or possibly today, it may or may not have occurred. If and when it may or may not have occurred, it would be nice to know that I’m in the clear. Not so nice that I’m going to look up the answer myself, but nice nonetheless. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Toy

I’m a bit of a gadget freak. I am not in the closet about this, I display it proudly. And as much as I like all the new toys available, I’m not constantly upgrading my phone. In fact, I have had a cell phone for going on eight years now, and in that time, I have only owned two separate phones. Today I made it three.

I have not upgraded my phone in a little over 3 years. This is unconscionable to some people, but not to me. When I made that upgrade, I went all out. It was a picture phone before everyone had a picture phone. It went online before all phones went online. I love that phone. It’s been through some fantastic times with me. And I have taken care of it. In fact, when I went in to upgrade today, they asked me how much time was left on my contract, and I told them I had been a free agent for almost a year now. The woman that was helping me took one look at my phone and was like, sure buddy, we’ll see about that. She later admitted that when she looked at it, she didn’t believe me, but she was wrong. I don’t know how, but I manage to take good care of my electronic gadgets.

Well, my new phone has been nothing short of spectacular. All the upgrades I was looking for have been there and have been beyond what I had hoped for. The online access is faster, the text-messaging simpler and the new options have me very excited. It comes with a USB cable to hook up to my laptop so that I can use it as a modem, which means I could potentially get online almost anywhere. And for you nay sayers that think I’ll be charged an arm and a leg for data transfer… well, you could be right, but you could also be wrong. I’m on a fairly old plan that had unlimited data transfer, so we’ll see. I’m hoping I’ve beat the system because of the functionality it would add to another one of my new favorite gadgets.

Last night marked the first time I got to use my new GPS for my laptop. I used it to guide me down to where Brian Regan was playing approximately 65 miles from my work. It worked perfectly. And it could work better if my laptop had been online at the time because it can get real traffic updates that way and then reroute me to avoid some of the traffic, thus getting me to my destination sooner.

This post could be a lot longer, but I have a new phone to play with, so I’ve got to go… you understand, right?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Going out tonight

In my never ending quest to make people jealous of me, I am now informing you that I will be attending the Brian Regan show this evening at the Grove in Anaheim. This will be my second Regan show this year. I am slipping. Last year I attended 4 shows. If you haven’t already guessed it and are still struggling, I’ll put you at ease and confirm that I am indeed a fan.

The term “fan” gets thrown out there a lot in a very casual sense and I’m not too fond of that. The term comes from shortening the word Fanatic. And when you say fanatic, it’s very much implied that you enjoy whatever it is you are fanatical about a great deal. This is how I apply the term “fan” to myself. I am a fan in every sense of the word. No oxymoron “casual fan” terms apply to me. When I am a fan, I am a fan.

Will I wear my Brian Regan T-shirt, complete with matching pants and socks? Will I show up hours early with the hope that I might get an autograph? Will I stand in the audience and recite all of his jokes in unison while he performs? After the show, will I have I <3 Brian Regan tattooed on the small of my back? Will I pretend that I am Brian Regan for the rest of the night and refuse to talk to anyone that doesn’t address me as such? I’m not going to answer any of these questions because I feel that’s a bit too personal. But should anyone else reading this happen to be at the show tonight, they and they alone will know the answers to these questions.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


There is a small, almost insignificant chance that I may have clogged up the sink awhile back. I tried all of the usual remedies to no avail. It seemed that this was a job for a certified professional. Unfortunately for me, only a plumber was available. I’m usually skeptical of any profession that can hold me hostage in certain situations and this was one of them.

I’ve grown accustom to a certain pattern when something breaks that I cannot fix. I take the broken item to an individual and I ask them how much it will cost to fix it. They usually take a look at it and respond with a price for the services necessary to repair the item to working condition. I understand this process. This process makes sense to me. I was not prepared for the process involved with fixing a clogged sink.

As it turns out, plumbers, or at least the one that came to our house today, have a vastly different approach to “fixing” plumbing type problems. They survey the damage, then they quote you prices on the various procedures that they can attempt. Some are cheaper than others, but there is no guarantee that the problem will be solved.

They will charge you X amount of dollars to perform procedure A. Will that unclog the drain? It’s a possibility, but not a guarantee. Procedure A could potentially miss the clog altogether. Then we’d have to try procedure B at the cost of X+.

I’m not sure why, but this whole process seemed mind boggling to me. I would think that he would show up, ask what the problem was, be told the problem, then he would fix the problem and charge me. I don’t understand why he would offer different options for me to pay for that would not necessarily fix the problem.

The drain was unclogged, but not before I lost my respect for the plumbing profession and it’s illogical logic.

I’m Retiring.

It is with much regret that I make this announcement today. For over a year and a half I have been a part of something that I consider to be bigger than myself. It’s a community of people first and foremost, but beyond that, it’s a sort of family. When I first started doing this, it was a bit of an experiment*. It was a way to find out more about myself and those around me. It was a unique field to work in because of the anonymity combined with the intimacy. I do not regret my time participating, but today, it is time to call an end to the experiment. I’m announcing my retirement once and for all removing the sign from my car that says, “Please Cut Me Off.”

This past year and a half I have enjoyed being cut off by various strangers and alternately swerving off the road or slamming on my breaks just split seconds away from heavy impact and certain destruction. I consider myself very lucky to have participated in the experiment and I can honestly say that I have learned a great deal from it. You’d be surprised how often you forget you have that sign on your car. But at least once a day I would get a nice reminder. And not once in the last year and a half did I ever see it coming. My heart still races every time I slam on the breaks and fishtail, narrowly missing another car. You’d think after awhile it would become routine, but you’d be sadly mistaken.

I think what changed it for me today was a lack of understanding. I’m part of the great scientific process. I don’t think a lot of people understand that. But more than that, they don’t respect it. As I was driving to work this morning, a large gray pickup truck was kind enough to move from the far left lane, across the middle lane and into the right lane (where I was driving), with such alacrity, that I barely had time to slam on the breaks and steer slightly to my right, giving him those extra inches he needed to move into my lane without making contact with my front left quarter panel. That was all well and good, but what really got to me was the Lexas SUV sitting at the corner waiting to make a right hand turn that I had even less time to steer my car back to the left and avoid by what felt like fractions of an inch once the gray truck had passed by. After I had passed the Lexas SUV, he was able to pull out and follow behind me. At the next red light, he pulled even with me. I looked over, expecting a commiseratory headshake, but instead what I got was a look of disdain. One of those, “How dare you bring your inferior piece of junk car anywhere near my gas guzzling piece of automotive perfection!” looks.

That’s when I knew it was time to get out of the game. Back in the old days, I would have seen that look and been driven by it. It would have been fuel for the fire. But today, I felt nothing. The fire was gone. So I’m stepping down for now. Please stop cutting me off. Thank you.

*The results of the experiment are still pending further tests. These tests are being performed by professionals and amateurs alike. If you would like to be a part of what I’m sure will be called science’s greatest breakthrough, simply put a sign on the back of your car that says, “Please Cut Me Off” and each time you get cut off, rate the other driver’s performance on a scale of 1 to 10. One being, “I totally saw that coming and was able to avoid it with ease. Didn’t even use my horn.” And 10 being, “That $&*#ing piece of *&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;$#!! I can’t &$^#ing believe he %&^ing pulled that $^&#!! I swear to @&amp;amp;amp;%$ing &$%! Followed by a horn honk of at least 15 seconds.” Submit your results on a weekly basis to your local Department of Motor Vehicles. At the very least, it’s another good excuse to go to the DMV.

From there, the results will be sent to a team of scientific researches who are surprisingly bad at math. They will use this data to come up with many erroneous conclusions that will no doubt influence the questions they put on the written test for new drivers. And you will feel good about your positive influence on your community.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I’m annoyed.

I think that not having television, when you are used to having television, is one of the more annoying things that can happen to you. But there is worse. Not having a broad band connection at home when you are used to having one is borderline cruel and unusual punishment. I first noticed it was down last night. That made yesterday’s post almost a no go. Were it not for my wonderful and loving girlfriend, who dealt with my pain in the butt antics while verbally dictating the post verbatim and to my exact specifications over the phone, I wouldn’t have been able to post at all.

I’m now on day two without the internet. This can make even the strongest man cry. Today I have an out though. My parents are coming home from their three week tour of Germany (yes, they were glob trotting for three weeks while I cleaned up cat vomit.) and with them they bring back my new lappy. Well, it’s not a new laptop, but right before the trip I fixed it so they could take it with them. I bought it on the cheap because of the cracked screen it had. Had the previous owner taken it in to get it fixed, they probably could have bought a new one for the same price. But since I’m not afraid to open up a laptop and possibly inflict tremendous amounts of damage, or possibly fix it, I wound up with a speedy laptop of the low cost variety. I’m typing this post on my desktop, but once the laptop is here, I can move it over, head out in the car and hit up one of the local cafés with free wifi and post this sucker… or not. We’ll know for sure by midnight tonight, Pacific Standard Time. Plus, there’s always my amazing girlfriend. If I go that rout, expect to see even more flowery prose about her greatness/awesomeness as she now has complete control over my blog.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Mark your calendars

I think everyone has those days when they wake up and simply do not want to get out of bed. It's too early, you are too tired, there is too much to do, there's a good chance that, once again, the cat dragged the bathmat into the litterbox... I call these days: "Weekdays." But I'm sure you've got your own name for them. Whatever you call those days, they probably leave you with a feeling of apathy. And, if you're anything like me, you get out of bed and face the day anyway.

Today was one of those days for me. I knew right off the bat it was going to be rough because we were going to be short staffed. That's never a good thing. Then throw in the fact that I was up late and had trouble sleeping at all because of the wonderful new piece of specifically formed plastic I get to shove in my mouth every night and you've got yourself a recipe for morning dread stew.

I'm a professional though, so I got up and prepared for the day. I made the 45-minute commute. I sat down at my desk, logged in and started on the day's work. The time passed by pretty quickly as it often does when I'm that busy. And then it happened.

I spend the majority of my weekdays hoping for things like this to happen. I think, "Maybe today is the day. If it is, I will call this my lucky day, and I will mark it on my calendar and celebrate its anniversary next year and for all the years to come after that. I imagine I'll wear a party hat sometimes. Maybe I'll even propose a toast to anyone that will listen. It will probably not be recognized by any of the proper authorities, but I will consider it a holiday and that will be enough."

So, "what the _________ happened?" you say? (You can fill in the expletive yourself. I'll give you some examples and you can just run with it. You could say, Blazes, or Tom Jones, or Ford Edsel, or chunky monkey, or soft leather glove (although I don't really recommend this one as it hardly makes any sense.).) Well I'm glad you asked because I had kind of forgotten what my point was and you so subtly reminded me why I'm writing this in the first place.

The power went out. Not for five minutes. Not for twenty minutes. Not for one hour. Not for an hour and a half. Not for two hours. Not for two hours and thirty-seven minutes, but for three hours and five minutes, we were completely in the dark. Well, the windows were open, so there was some natural light, but for the most part, it was pretty dark.

This is like a get out of jail free card. You get to goof off at work, not do anything but chat it up with the coworkers and just be happy in general because there's nothing you can do about it and it's not your fault... Well, unless you were the one who fried the breaker switch and did so much damage that it had to be completely replaced. But they cannot prove that you did, so there you have it, a fault-free day off that you still get paid for and don't feel guilty about because you couldn't have done it any differently.

I think we should do this once a week... Maybe twice. I really think it would build company morale and ultimately, bond us all together. We'd be doing it for the good of the company, and isn't that what matters most?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The cloning

Well, I'm on day two of the great cloning. I wish I had happy news to report. I do not. That's not to say that I have nothing but bad news to report. I suppose on the plus side, while I have not yet successfully cloned my current hard drive to the new hard drive, my computer has not completely taken a dive. I haven't had any problems reverting back to the old drive when the new one didn't work.

I'm using Norton Ghost 10.0. If anyone has any familiarity with that program, feel free to speak up. Their support site is a little lacking as far as I'm concerned. Call me crazy, but if you have error codes that pop up when the clone fails, I would think your website would be able to define them. Not so much. I'm not in your customer service department, but if I were, I'd suggest you work on that. You know, for customer service.

This may be one of the shortest posts I've ever had... but I've been working on cloning my hard drive, cut me some slack.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A brief history


This post contains many much boring facts about a particular history in my life that many readers may have no interest in whatsoever. I apologize in advance to those disinterested folks.

Hopefully this isn’t my last post. I’m about to do something that some may consider to be tremendously stupid. My computer works ok right now, but I imagine sometime in the near future, that will not be the case. My problem stems from the fact that the hard drive containing the OS is tiny by today’s standards. It’s only a 20 GB (really 18.6, but that’s one of the fun lies you can get away with in technology) hard drive.

The stupid plan is as follows: I will clone my tiny little hard drive onto a nice, new 160 GB hard drive and hopefully never have to worry about this again. I store all my pictures and videos and music and word documents and other such stuff on a separate storage drive. Last time my OS drive crashed and I lost all of my programs, I wasn’t that mad because most things of value were on the storage drive, which was fine. I’m about to embark on my first hard drive cloning experience. I hope it’s a good one.

Before I go ruin my computer though, I thought I’d remind myself and all my readers of my family’s computing history. I remember our first computer. It was a keyboard inside a wooden box. My greatest regret is that I don’t have a picture of it. I’m a little shaky on the specs, but I remember it had no hard drive. It operated solely off of the floppy drive. And they really were floppies back then. Sometimes I miss those delicate, 5 ¼” floppies… The other notable factor was that it was built by my father out of a kit I believe he bought at radio shack. I’m not entirely sure about that because I was probably about 10 at the time, but I remember being very excited about learning things on that little wooden box. I learned my first dos commands on that machine. I once wrote a very simple program consisting mainly of IF commands wherein my sisters would input their birthdays and the computer would spit back their names. My 4 and 5 year old sisters were very impressed by that magic box.

After that, I have vague memories of playing terrible text only, chose your own adventure games on the commodore 64. There was the football game where I had all of 6 plays I could run. Three running plays and 3 passing plays. Just like the NFL. I think I could punt too, but when you’re playing a video game, is punting ever really an option? That machine hung out for awhile, but again, no actual hard drive, only a floppy.

When the commodore 64 became obsolete (I’m not sure, but I think that happened about 2 weeks before it was actually released), we started in with the PC. First a 286, then a 386, and I vividly remember the day we upgraded to our 486 66 mhz DX. It had an amazing 8 mb of ram, a fancy new 3 1/2 “ floppy drive and a 350 mb hard drive. I remember my dad and I joking about how with 350 megabytes, the storage possibilities were virtually limitless!! (I think this would be the equivalent of showing up at a formula one race today and bragging about your new .5 horse power lawn mower engine powered go cart.) We couldn’t fathom ever needing another hard drive again. It was just too much space! We had previously had a 50 megabyte hard drive that we hadn’t yet filled up. Yes, we were on the cutting edge.

Soon we hooked up a 1200 baud modem and were exploring the exciting world of BBSs… It would only take an average of 5 minutes for the computers to make their handshake and start talking. Lightning quick!! And whisper quiet too! (ok, that was a bit of a lie… anyone in the dialup community knows the horrific sound of a modem connecting.) The internet was a bit more text based back then and a much more intimate, peer to peer sort of thing.

We hung on to the 486 for quite some time. In fact, I believe it’s still in use in some far off, linux only, quarantined corner of the house. After a bit of a break, the computer upgrades started happening again. I think my mom wanted her own, so she got a nice new machine with a 500 mhz processor and a mind numbing 64 mb of ram. In ’98 when I went away to college, I decided I need a computer to take with me but that a desktop wasn’t practical, so I bought my first laptop. A 200 mhz processor with 32 mb of ram and a gargantuan 4 gigabyte hard drive. I still have that laptop, but it’s a bit of a glorified calculator. It can’t handle much more than one program at a time, and then not for very long. The battery is pretty fried, so it has to be plugged in almost all the time.

After that, I came home from college and built my own computer. It started off with a 20 gigabyte hard drive that I’m still currently using. All the other parts have changed so many times in the past 7 years it’s hard to say exactly how many computers I’ve had. I’ve been through a handful of motherboards, video cards, towers and power supplies. Gone from 64 megabytes of ram all the way up to the 1.5 gigs I have now. It never really stops. I’m finally going to replace that old 20 gb hard drive and possibly ruin the computer in the process. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some equipment to break…

Friday, November 10, 2006

Another unnecessary update

Ok, yesterday was the day. I had been thinking about it ever since I gagged on some yogurt like gunk. $302.00 and two weeks later, I was handed my mouth guard. It didn’t fit. After 25 minutes of shaving and tightening and adjusting, it sort of fit. As well as any piece of plastic specially molded for your teeth can fit anyway. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I think I thought it would fit better than it did.

I had a 7 AM dentist appointment. When you’re lucky, you’re lucky. I tried to wear the guard on the drive to work to get used to it and in case I was in a car accident. In my last car accident, I chipped a tooth. With this bad boy, that worry would be gone. Or so I thought.

There were a few things I wasn’t ready for. When I wear the mouth guard, it’s a lot harder to close my lips together. That’s something I had taken for granted. I also wasn’t prepared for the saliva build up. I don’t know if it’s because I had this new thing in my mouth activating my saliva glands, or because I had never had a plastic tray to catch the saliva that would otherwise drip down in my mouth. The mouth guard lasted about 3 minutes.

I pretty much ignored it for the rest of the day. As much as I wanted something to give my speech a lisp, I just wasn’t comfortable bringing the guard out in front of everyone at the office. The last thing I want to do is make them all jealous and I can’t really afford to have someone steal it from me right now.

Last night was my first night with the guard. I paid too much for it to not wear it, so I put it in before I went to bed. It was pretty annoying and I found it a little difficult to sleep, but I knew it would be awhile before I got used to it, so I decided that I just needed to suck it up. I woke up a couple of times and wanted to pull it out, but I knew I had to get used to it, so I dealt with it.

When I finally woke up this morning and decided it was ok to take it out, I was greeted with a pleasant surprise. I had no idea how the guard would affect me, but I was not prepared for what happened next. I put the guard back in the case and as I did so, I went to clench my jaw. Much to my amazement, I couldn’t clench. Not only that, but my jaw was also exceptionally sore! On both sides no less!!! I was ecstatic. I had to wait two weeks, and it cost me over $300.00, but they had found a way to make my jaw feel worse than it ever had!

It was totally worth it. If you’re just too comfortable when you sleep and you need something in your mouth to annoy the crap out of you so that you can have that restless, unfulfilling, empty sleep that you’ve always wanted, I highly recommend getting a mouth guard.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I’m lost…

Last night was the last episode of ABC’s Lost that we’re going to see for approximately 3 months. They have decided that after two months of the show, we need a 3 month break. Why only have one giant cliff hanger a season, when you can have two?

I’m not really sure I’m following the logic on this. I had heard they were going to make some changes about the show based on grievances viewers had over the sporadic schedule of the last couple seasons. This is what they came up with.

I question this because while I’m not quite prepared to give up on the show, I know many people that are. They are fed up with the schedule. And even more than that, they are fed up with the way the stories are being doled out every episode. It seems as though for each question they answer, they raise a couple dozen more. You don’t even care about what you just learned because now you’re going to spend the next couple days without sleep trying to answer the new questions you have.

I’d go into more detail, but I don’t want to ruin the show for anyone that had the foresight to just wait for the shows to come out on DVD. But suffice to say, the way I saw Alias fall apart, I can only imagine that it’s a matter of time before Lost jumps the shark. I don’t want it to, but it seems almost inevitable. I think I mentioned in the past that I hate the cliffhanger more than anything. These are popular shows. We’re going to watch them because we like them. Why must we have cliffhangers??? I’m going to come back next season. Why must you torture me for extended periods of time?

I don’t really watch enough TV to know, but do they jerk viewers around like this on all the other shows? What gives?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I consider myself a listener and a thinker.

It is with alarming regularity that I remind myself as well as the rest of the world what buffoon I really am. The situations always start our simple enough. I’ll be performing some regular everyday activity. This is usually my first mistake. I think I get sucked into the comfort of the situation and inadvertently trust myself to carry on like I’m actually capable of being a normal human being.

Today was no different. The situation in question was myself driving around performing a few errands while on lunch. I chose the cell phone as my medium for broadcasting my ineptitude and my girlfriend as the unlucky audience.

I was driving down the road when I noticed up ahead about half a block that the right lane was closed. As I was currently driving in the right lane, I thought it prudent to move over into the left lane. As I neared the section of the road where the right lane was closed (as was marked by several flashing lights and a couple of big work trucks), a silver Honda CR-V, still in the right lane and quickly running out of room, was almost refusing to quickly move in front of me, in spite of the room I was graciously allowing them to move into my lane in front of me. In a moment of frustration, I announced to my poor girlfriend on the phone, “I wish this person in the CR-V would learn how to drive! Preferably right now!”

At this point, I was still concealing my inherent buffoonery quite well. It was only a matter of time before that would end. My sweet, loving girlfriend, only trying to sympathize and be the best, most supporting girlfriend she could be while on the phone said, “What do those letters even mean? I think all of Honda’s letter named cars are acronyms.” This is where I chose to unveil the mask and show her what I’m really made of. I replied, “I have no idea what those numbers mean.”

“What?” she said. Apparently the cell phone gods made an attempt to save me by having the connection momentarily break up. Undaunted, I repeated slowly and clearly, “I have absolutely no idea what those numbers mean.”

She is a good woman. She just moved past it and proceeded to come up with various possibilities for the letters “CR-V.” CRossover Vehicle was her submission. I decided it was a Compact Recreational Vehicle. Turns out we were both sort of right. Most explanations of the CR-V call it a crossover SUV. The European literature on the auto calls it a Compact Recreational Vehicle, while Honda sources call it a Comfortable Runabout Vehicle.

For now, I’ll be referring to it as a Crappy… Road… Variable (?)… whatever…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Mark your calendars…

It’s that time of year again. I know it’s that time because HR has put up little signs on all the doors. We’re a pretty simple minded folk at my office, so if they didn’t cater to our special needs with little fliers on all of the doors, we probably would forget why we came into the building in the first place. Without my nameplate, I’d probably forget where I sat too.

I will openly admit that I have no formal training in layout and design. I didn’t study it, I don’t have a degree in it, I don’t even qualify as an amateur. But when I saw this little sign this morning, I just shook my head. I’ve taken the picture at close enough range to be able to read everything on there, but imagine yourself about 10 feet back of this. What’s the initial information that you gather from it?
Just so we’re clear, there is a second door that you pass through on the way into the building. The first one is the difference between being inside and being outside. There is a short hallway. If you go to your right, you can go up some stairs, but if you continue on straight, there is another door to pass through. I’ve been working at this office for about three and a half years now. On Monday, for the first time I can recall, the second door was closed. Several people ran head first into the door that day.


I recently mentioned to my girlfriend that I was a borderline germophobe. After a brief moment of pure, unadulterated laughter, it was kindly explained to me that I am far from borderline, I am, in fact, way off the deep end. And while I still maintain that washing your hands 38 times a day is neither excessive or compulsive, I will accept that I have an aversion to germs and dirtiness in general. I will not apologize for it though.

I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned it or not here on the blog, (I probably have, but I’m not going to do any research, that’s what the research department* is for and it’s high time they earned their money.) but one of my biggest pet peeves is people that do not wash their hands after using the restroom. I consider it to be the filthiest room in any complex or house simply due to the nature of that room. Filthy things happen in there… dirty, disgusting, filthy, albeit necessary, things. To not wash your hands after doing ANYTHING in that room is inexcusable in my book.**

One of the biggest mistakes a person can make (also noted in my book) is to wash their hands, dry them off and then use their now clean hands to open the door to exit the restroom. Given the tremendous number of individuals that do not wash their hands after using the restroom, you have now negated any had washing that may have occurred and are now contaminated with filth once again.

With that in mind, I offer up “Jon’s guide to hand washing in a society filled with non-hand washing, filthy mongrels.” I suppose if I had more time and talent, I would have given that some fancy font or something, but this is like a low budget indie film, it’s good because it sucks. (or so I like to think.)

First, lets go over some of the basics. Any decent public restroom has a good supply of paper towels. I much prefer the newer, fancy motion sensor paper towel dispensers that give you a new sheet with the wave of a hand. No physical contact with the dispenser is required and us germophobes really appreciate that. Nothing disappoints me more than those stupid blow dryers. They are possibly the most useless invention of all time. Not only do they do an exceptionally poor job of drying your hands, but has anyone ever flipped one up to dry off their face? The words, “Amazingly Pleasant” will never ever ever be used to describe that experience. Plus, you’re touching filth everywhere… pushing the button to get the air started, fiddling with the directional nozzle, and ultimately, opening the door to leave the restroom. In the long run, you’ll want to make sure you know the vitals of any public restroom you may come into contact with. To help you out with that, I’ve come up with a little acronym to remember anytime you go into a restroom. Use it when you enter a new restroom for the first time and then think back on it every time you encounter an approved restroom on your roster. It’s a little something I like to call… S.S.S.S.D.D.T.T&U.

S – Stalls. You’re going to want to know the stall situation in any restroom. How many are there, what kind of condition are they in, do the doors swing out or do they open in towards the toilet, is there a handicap one (often times they like to make these stalls just a bit too small, and accidentally making contact with any of these filthy walls is just not acceptable. If a handicapped stall is available, it provides the best chance of avoiding any contact with the horrifically contaminated walls.) and of course, how does the locking mechanism on the stall door work.

S – Sink. You’ll want to know the sink situation as well. How many are there, do they have twist on twist off faucets or the timed, push down and get a little water, or the must-constantly-hold-down-if-you-want-any-water-at-all type. What kind of water pressure do they possess, has anyone stuck gum under the tap?

S – Soap. This is a good thing to know. Most places are going to have some sort of liquid soap dispenser, you’ll want to know if it’s scented or unscented. You’ll also want to know if they have that amazingly cheap, sand like substance that’s supposed to be soap but really only succeeds in taking off a layer of skin, which, I guess, is some level of clean, but it’s also some level of pain. I avoid this prison style soap whenever possible.

S – Sanitary. Every restroom is inherently filthy and thus unsanitary, but there are varying degrees of sanitation. They range anywhere from high class restaurant all the way down to subway terminal in the “neglected” part of town. It’s up to the individual to decide what level they will allow themselves to drop down to.

D – Drying Apparatus. I briefly mentioned this earlier. You’re going to want a restroom that supplies itself with some sort of paper towels. Be it with the magic motion sensing dispenser, or the traditional hand crank method, or the upside down tissue style dispenser. The aforementioned air drying apparatus is unacceptable, as is the recycling, semi-cloth, non-removable, filth-rag I’ve come across occasionally.

D - Door. Always important to pay attention to how the door opens. You’d rather be able to push the door open on the way out rather than on the way in, but this is a bit of a rarity. You’ll also want to note what kind of handle you’re working with, do you twist it or grab it.

T – Toilet Paper. Keep yourself apprised of the TP situation in any restroom. One simple rule: You can never have too much.

T & U – Toilet and Urinal. Always pay attention to the current state of the facilities. (ladies, you can ignore the urinal. But if you happen to see one of substandard condition, feel free to let your male friends know. Also, please stay out of the men’s room.)

See how easy that is to remember? A 7 year old prodigy could do it.

I’ll now give you a quick, step by step guide to washing your hands with the following conditions: Reasonably clear restroom with a crank handled paper towel dispenser, liquid soap (unscented), twist on, twist off faucet and a door that must be pulled from inside the restroom to open. For our purposes, we’ll assume that you’ve been in a restroom before and have completed your main task, and now have only the hand washing left to do.

Step 1: with your currently unclean hands, give the paper towel dispenser a few cranks, leaving a small section of paper towel hanging down. DO NOT TOUCH this section, leave it hanging there for now.

Step 2: turn on the water and set to the desired temperature.

Step 3: get your hands wet.

Step 4: dispense soap onto your hands and begin to lather and clean.

Step 5: rinse off your hands, but DO NOT TURN OFF THE WATER. Do not even touch the faucet handles. Leave the water running for now.

Step 6: detach the previously cranked paper towel and use as a barrier against the filth to now crank out as much paper towel as needed to properly dry your hands, then toss that small section into the trash. (the reason for this is that all too often, the filthy non-hand washing folks will enter the room, be filthy, not wash their hands, but still grab some paper towels for whatever reason. Basically, this is a safety catch-all to make sure that your clean hands are not exposed to filth.)


Step 8: using the paper towel as a barrier against filth, turn off the faucet, but DO NOT THROW AWAY THE PAPER TOWEL.

Step 9: once again, using the paper towel as a barrier against filth, open the restroom door, use your foot to hold the door open while you toss the now used and partially contaminated paper towel into the trash. (in an ideal situation, the trash can is right next to the exit, but if it is not, never fear, this gives you an excellent opportunity to practice your old, wet, filthy, paper towel basketball skills.)

Step 10: leave the restroom feeling as clean as you possibly can.

Well, that about wraps it up for today. Tune in next time where I teach you how to block out thoughts of a disgustingly unclean janitor putting those paper towels in the dispenser in the first place :)

*The research hopes you will accept it’s deepest apologies as they were unable to get to this request what with the holidays (Veteran’s Day) fast approaching.

**It should be noted that my book is not well publicized and has a decidedly low readership.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Another Sunday in Paradise

When you’re 29 years old and living at home, it’s pretty safe to say that you’ve got it made. You’ve made all the right decisions in life and have put yourself into a position where you can afford to pay spiders ridiculous amounts of money for rent. I’ll ask all of my readers to please hold their jealous rants from the comments for now and try and focus their envy on something more productive like corn husking.

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ll further incur the wrath of the internet by telling you all that for the past week and a half, and for the next week and a half, I’ve had the place all to myself since my parents went on vacation. Since I only work 9 or 10 hours a day and have an hour commute each way, when you subtract the 6 hours a night that I sleep, that means I’ve got a solid 6 or 7 hours a day where I can do whatever I want with the place. Sounds pretty sweet right?

Yeah, that’s what I thought too until I found out that my list of activities is as follows:

  1. Spend multiple hours cleaning up several pounds of cat hair left on the furniture and carpet by Spencer the cat. It’s really not that bad though because I only have to do it maybe once every other day and it only takes 2 or 3 hours…
  2. Clean up all the kitty litter that Spencer that cat thought looked better outside the box rather than inside, with all the other litter. I guess this one isn’t really a necessity though, I mean, who really has a problem with stepping on partially used kitty litter with their bare feet right after they step out of the shower?
  3. Two words: Cat. Vomit. It would seem as though Spencer has a binging problem, which is followed up by the more problematic purging issues he has. I guess I’m being kind of petty about this one though because at least 25% of the time he pukes on the kitchen floor rather than the living room carpet. And it’s really my fault in the first place for putting too much food on his plate.

I realize that most of those tasks sound pretty glamorous*, but once you get past the fact that your life is dominated by cat maintenance, you don’t feel so lucky any more and the star struck feeling you had before really wears off.

*Upon rereading this post, the author noticed that some readers may think that he doesn’t like cats or that he resents Spencer in some way. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Spencer and the author first met a little over 4 years ago. Spencer was a small, flea infested kitten running across the street and nearly getting hit by a car. The author was a young lad ridding his bike. Spencer dashed under a Ford Explorer in a nearby parking lot after his near miss in the street. The Author spent the next 45 minutes trying to coax him out of the wheel well of the Explorer. It took awhile, but Spencer was lured out and brought home where he has lived a happy life chasing bugs and generally harassing the other cats in the house.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The new landlord

Throughout my childhood, there were certain phrases spoken by my father that came across more as a mantra than anything else. My sisters and I heard these so often as kids that it’s hard to imagine a world where those phrases don’t exist. I heard them so much in fact, that after years of repetition and exposure, no matter how absurd they sounded, they became a kind of truth. While I imagine a fair amount of those sayings were not uncommon to the rest of the world, there is one that comes to mind that probably didn’t make the rounds.

“Spiders are our friends.” That’s what my father brought us up to believe. When either of us small, innocent little children (and we were always innocent. I don’t think a single one of us ever did a bad thing in our entire lives) shrieked in horror over a creeping, crawling, hairy abdomened beast of a spider, my father was always right there to tell us not to worry, spiders are our friends. I can’t recall a single instance where this ever calmed one of us down.

The next series of events was duplicated many times in our house. The child would continue to cry, my dad would continue to explain the many blessed benefits of arachnids, and my mother would come in with a tissue and dispatch the little critter. It never ended well for our “friends.”

I can recall the first horrific moment in my life when I uttered that same phrase to a friend of mine in the exact same intonation as my father. I can only speak for myself, but the majority of my 20’s have been spent doing two things: Trying desperately not to turn into my parents and turning into my parents. I’m not sure what the aversion is. My parents are good people and I get along with them very well, yet for some reason, it remains one of my main goals not to turn into them. I’m failing miserably.

All life goals aside, I seem to have, willingly or not, subscribed to the theory that spiders are indeed our friends. I’m not sure if it’s a side effect of that mantra growing up, or some other complex series of events that I can neither recall or explain, but I’m against killing of any kind, hated bug or human being. Killing is killing and I don’t like it, nor do I practice it. So with that in mind, I have a tendency to be a lot more lenient with the various insects and or arachnids that occupy the same living space as I do. I prefer it if the critters stay outside though, and I will do whatever necessary to remove the bugs from the inside and place them outside if such a need may arise.

The other day, I saw this.Trust me, in person it's much more impressive.

At first I thought it was pretty impressive. Decent sized web, must have taken awhile to put it together. I can respect that sort of craftsmanship. Nature often does impressive things. I wonder about strange things sometimes, so when I saw that, I wondered what the spider that made it looked like. Then I wondered how many bugs had been caught in that web. Then I wondered if I could ever get caught in that web. Then I wondered if a leaf ever got caught in the web and when the spider came out to check on it, he was disappointed because he wasn’t a vegetarian. Then I made some careful mental notes about the exact location of the web because my ability to walk through spider webs is exceeded only by my fear of walking into a spider web when the spider itself is directly in the middle and would consequently end up on my face. You see, while I consider the spider to be my friend, I still do not like it to crawl on my face. I don’t like it to crawl anywhere on my person, but my least favorite place to have it crawl is on my face. If given a pop quiz that said, “Where would you least like to have a spider crawl on your person? A) Your shoe. B) Your Hand C) Your face. Without hesitation, I would answer C.

As luck would have it, one of my previous question was answered last night when I came home. It was late. It was dark. I was alone.

I’d rather not get into the exact details of what happened next, but suffice to say, my wallet will be quite a bit lighter on the first of every month from here on out and this guy’s wallet will be substantially heavier. (Let’s not get into where his wallet will be, or the fact that it’s probably not legal for him to just show up and start charging me money, it’s a bit of a moot point considering the level of creepy that he exudes. And if you’re thinking you could take him, you might be right, but the two behind you in the shadows… good luck with them.)You can call me VinnieI’m sorry dad, but you were wrong. Spiders are not our friends; they are our landlords.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I feel that I have a certain responsibility in this world to make it a better place. I think that there are a lot of selfish people in this world that don’t practice that ideal. I look around and I see a world full of kids with a tremendous sense of entitlement. Every generation is becoming more and more egocentric. They are only concerned with what’s best for them. They don’t take the time to think about how their actions will affect those around them. If someone else has to endure hardship because of their actions, they just think, “Sucks for them. Glad it wasn’t me.” And they move on, even though with very little effort, they could have spared that person a lot of grief.

I grew up with the mindset that if you can help someone out, you should. And not because you’ll get something out of it, or because that person will owe you something later, you do it because it’s the right thing to do. That is it’s own reward. I genuinely feel good about myself when I’ve taken the time to make someone else’s life a little easier. I’m not even concerned with good karma; I’m just concerned with doing what is best for the community.

With all of that in mind, I offer this up to the internet and all the people it may reach (all 5 to be exact): Please do not watch The Puffy Chair.* Nothing good will come of it.

*I offer up this exemption: If you are mood to excuse yourself from the abilities to both see and hear, this is the perfect movie to help you through the process. Just moments into it, you will be more than ready to do whatever it takes to alleviate your mind from the pressures related to those two senses.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Had a follow up appointment with my Maxillofacial Surgeon today. I believe his goal was to end the appointment in record time. I was inside his office for approximately 90 seconds… we spent the first thirty catching up on exactly why I was there in the first place. After a bit, he remembered that I was the little sissy boy complaining about not being able to fully clench my jaw. He spent the next thirty seconds laughing. The final thirty seconds were spent by him explaining to me that my condition was chronic, would most likely happen again and that he wasn’t going to do anything about it right now.

I was immediately relieved. I was terrified that this would be something I could fix now and forget about for the rest of my life, but now I can rest easy at night knowing that at any moment I could slip back into the horrific nightmare that is TMJ. He said it was most likely cause by some bleeding in the joint. Another victory, I thought to myself. Learning that my joints are capable of spontaneously bleeding internally is probably a lot like learning you’re pregnant. It’s scary and exciting all at the same time. I guess I wouldn’t really know about the pregnant thing though because every time I’ve suspected something, the doctor has always informed me that I am not, in fact, pregnant. And yes, hearing that news always makes me a little sad on the inside.

Fortunately for me, the news about my joint is true, and no one can take that away from me. I can’t wait to get my mouth guard from the dentist next week. I’ll be like a proud father the first time my joint inexplicably starts bleeding after I start wearing that mouth guard to sleep. I will openly mock the dentist at that point. Even if it is 3 am, I will call him up and let him know that the $302.00 I spent on this glorified plastic replica of my teeth impressions was totally worth it since I can now call him a quack. I will declare it open season on any and all Dental insult jokes, and he will have no ground to stand on. It will be exhilarating.

In the mean time, I leave you with this picture. It’s the exit sign at the Maxillofacial (yes, I could just say Oral Surgeon, but I think they’re pretty proud of the fact that they have a fancy name for people who pull teeth out for a profession.) Surgeon. I’ve never seen a sign quite like it before. The first time I saw it was right before I was about to have my wisdom teeth taken out. I cannot say why, but I felt a little uneasy. Then they knocked me out.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The world according to an Oreo…

Life isn’t fair. We take this statement and accept the words, but we never truly accept the meaning. We know that life isn’t fair, but we seem to be absolutely sure that at least for ourselves, life should be fair. And in some cases, we feel that the abundance of “bad luck” that has befallen us requires some divine intervention of good luck like winning the lottery to make up for all of the crap we have been put through. This is our idea of fair.

I like to think of myself as a pretty even keel kind of guy. I take the good with the bad, I roll with the punches. Sometimes everything goes my way, and other times, nothing goes my way. That’s life. It’s not fair, but we were never promised that.

But still, even with my current attitude, there are certain things that happen in life that just seem like too much. No one deserves to have something that horrific happen to him or her. You’d have a hard time trying to convince even the most optimistic person that a curse of some sort was not in play.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with the path my life has taken. I’ve slipped out of the groove and fallen directly into the rut. Everything came together in a moment of clarity today when I was trying desperately to salvage some joy in the day by putting all my faith in a package of Oreo cookies. Perhaps that was my first mistake. When I pulled out the first cookie and saw the following, that’s when I knew that the groove was long gone and I was deep inside the rut.
The true pain of this cookie can be seen in the amount of “white stuff” I was given. No, I was not completely denied, but in this instance, I really feel like no white stuff would have been preferable. If you were a waiter or waitress, and you spent 3 and a half hours serving a family of 15, and after handing them a bill for $450.73 and they wrote you a check for $451.00, wouldn’t you rather receive nothing at all instead of $0.27? I think I would…

The Best Day of the Year

Well, another Halloween has come and gone. This might be my favorite holiday of the year. But I think most people are biased towards their birthdays like that. Suffice to say I’m technically a year older, but I still don’t feel it. The number doesn’t really matter to me if I don’t feel it. I can’t help but wonder when I’ll reach that threshold though… I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I am curious when I’ll reach that point where I go from excitement to dread of my date of birth. Not there yet.

As it is Halloween, there are a few things I’d like to discuss. First, let’s look at the art of pumpkin carving. In the years past, I’ve stuck to the standard, eyes, nose, mouth format. This is all well and good, but then last year, I came home and my sister had gotten a pumpkin carving kit, and put forth a pretty formidable effort. That memory carried with me all the way to this year. Though never having attempted such a carving before, I decided to go with a pattern that the experts deemed “difficult.”

As you can see, I was equal to the task. But, as the following picture shows, the pumpkin didn’t have much longevity. I went to bed, but apparently, Darth stayed up late partying and had one hell of a hangover the next morning. I was able to patch him back together with some toothpicks, but he just hasn’t been the same since.
On the flip side to that, as pleased as I was with my pumpkin, I was put to shame by my girlfriend. I used a pattern. She saw a picture on the internet that she liked and wanted to try and carve it. She had never attempted such a carve before, nor did she have any experience with the carving tools provided in the kit I had purchased. I will admit, when I saw the picture she wanted to recreate, I thought she had bitten off a little more than she could chew. I was proven wrong and was humbled. I will never underestimate her again. She is amazingly creative and extremely talented. (did I mention she’s also gorgeous? Well, she is.)

Impressive, no? I was told by my sister’s sister-in-law (I don’t know what my relation is to her, but for now we’ll call her my SSIL) that my pumpkin sucked compared to hers. Then she heard how I made mine and how my girlfriend made hers and I was further told that I shouldn’t procreate… I thought that was a little harsh…

At any rate, that was the most fun I’ve had carving pumpkins in a long, long time. I’m looking forward to next year. And I can’t confirm anything right now, but I may try and convince my family that pumpkin carving is also a Thanksgiving and Christmas tradition.

Slightly related story/question for the ladies… begin story - I was driving to the pumpkin patch with my girlfriend the other day and we passed a house where there was a man and a woman out front doing some yard work. The man was sweeping some stuff up and the woman was mowing the lawn. I had to do a double take, but once I visually confirmed it, I asked my girlfriend, “Did you see that lady mowing the lawn?” and she replied, “No, why?” I said, “Look again, do you see what she’s wearing?” and she said, “Yeah, really short shorts.” To which I prodded, “No, look lower…” And my girlfriend said, “Oh my god, she’s wearing heels?!!?” - end story. Question for the ladies: At what point do those four inch heels get tossed out of the regular nice-outfit rotation and get relegated to yard work duties?

And lastly, it seems like every day I’m finding something new out about our youth and being more and more disappointed. Today’s kids have an unbelievable sense of entitlement. They believe they deserve everything and shouldn’t have to work for anything. They are becoming more aggressive about it as the days go by. I realized just how far things have gotten out of hand when the trick or treaters came around this evening. A little less than half of the kids were well mannered. They came and said, “trick or treat?” as is customary, and I gave them the treat because I’m all full of tricks for now. But the majority of the kids didn’t even speak to me, they just held out their sacks and expected me to fill it up. There was even one kid (probably 8 or 9 years old) that came up to the door with his mother. He had a pudding snack in one hand, a spoon in the other, and an unreasonable amount of chocolate pudding all over his face. His mother said trick or treat and held out the candy bucket while he continued to lick the spoon clean. I almost didn’t want to give up the candy, but if his mother spoils him that much, she’s probably very mean to people that aren’t nice to her son, so I figured I’d let this one slide. You have to pick your battles. (did I mention the kid was probably 8 or 9?) I was ok with most of this though because I remember what it was like when I was a kid. I got sick of people asking me who I was supposed to be (specially when I wore my care bear outfit. Who doesn’t know what a care bear is? Criminy!).

My mistake came when I ran out of candy. I did what anyone would do, I blew out the candles on the pumpkins and turned off the porch light, the universal Halloween sign for “I’m either out of candy, or I didn’t have any in the first place, please don’t knock on my door.” But undeterred, kids continued to walk up to the door and repeatedly knock until I answered. Now mind you, I didn’t have any fancy decoration set up to make the place look like it was supposed to be dark and haunted. All I had were the carved pumpkins. I told a few waves of trick or treaters that I was out of candy and that I was sorry, but I felt terrible doing so. I decided that for the next group, I wouldn’t answer the door at all. This is when I learned that today’s youth simply doesn’t take no for an answer. And they are bold. After four attempts at knocking, one of the kids just turned the knob and OPENED THE DOOR! I suppose I should have locked the door but seriously? Opening a stranger’s door? I do not know these kids, they do not live on my street. Who does that?? I’m baffled by this one… I can’t fathom this ever happening when I was a kid. Times have really changed… no word yet on if it’s for the better.