Friday, December 29, 2006

Quickie - Ergh...

Well, it's official - the government has gone complately bat-guano crazy. Apparently, the National Park Service has instructed rangers at the Grand Canyon not to give any definitive answer when asked how old the Grand Canyon is. The reason being that they don't want to offend creationists who believe that it was created by the waters draining from Noah's flood when god pulled the plug located, no doubt, in the Marianas Trench.

Good thing God's got long hair that clogs up drains so easily, otherwise all the water on earth would have drained into hell...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Quickie - You're not as bad off as you think

Want to feel just a little bit better about your crappy salary as we close out this tax year? Check out this link for a little self-esteem and something to ponder as you consider end-of-year charitable giving.

Resisting the temptations of adulthood

I've sort of fallen into this "every other day blogging" pattern since I've been on vacation. Part of it is because I'm just relaxing, and part of it is that since this is really a "do-nothing" vacation, there's not much going that makes for good blog material.

Interesting story from yesterday, though. Since I only had plans to meet up with friends for dinner, I spent most of the day wandering around the old mall near my dad's place. Back in the day it was a good combination of stuff to do plus warmer climates in the winter. Not everything was in the mall either, but there were some strip malls nearby that had stores I used to go to regularly. The classic example of this is Shinders.

Shinders is a store devoted to the nerdboy-and-geek set. They are essentially a hobby store, but focused more on role-playing games*, comics, magazines, baseball/football trading cards, and sci-fi books than model trains and coin collecting. Basically, it was where I spent all my saved up money every time I went down to my dad's, buying D&D stuff and football cards. It was also home to a small area in the back that was closed off with a small door that said "adults only". Presumably this was where they kept all the nudie mags and videos of weird japanese cartoon porn.

So as I was driving around the mall yesterday, I saw that it was still open, and thought I'd stop in just to see what, if anything had changed. Plus, I needed a little display cube for my autographed Dusty Baker baseball**. Walking in, at first I headed over to the football card section. This was always a fun activity for me as a kid, not because I frequently *bought* the cards, but because it let me see what the going rate was for cards in my collection. You know, for when I decided to sell it off and use the proceeds to pay for college or my first Porsche. Needless to say, something is horrible wrong with the market these days. The fact that there were multiple cards featuring Tory "Hands of Stone" Williamson that were valued more than Steve Largent's rookie card has pretty much convinced me that I should have unloaded my collection in the early '80s.

Filled with disappointment I meandered over to the D&D section, only to discover that they have completely re-vamped the game again with a completely new edition, only with a lot more rules - and therefore a lot more rulebooks to buy. All the stuff we used to just make up as we went along now have rulebooks. Frankly, I blame the lawyers. Back in the day, if one of your fellow players did something you thought wasn't fair, you could argue your case to the Dungeon Master*** but if he didn't agree with you, you were screwed. And you kept on playing, regardless of what happened. Sure it wasn't fair but you made do. Now, all the kids have learned that the more rules are written down, the easier it is to make your case. No doubt players these days have legal libraries of case books filled with rule precidents like "Billy Mayhew a.k.a. Togron the Half-Elf Ranger vs. Dungeon Master Rick Smith concerning whether a mirror can reflect a gorgon's gaze from 50 meters on a foggy night". No wonder kids don't have any imagination anymore.

Filled with even more disappointment, I found my display cube**** and headed over to check out. The dude at the register was not unlike myself in an alternate universe. Pasty and scrawny from too many hours spent in a basement, he gave me the once-over and said "Hey, I saw you checking out the D&D stuff earlier, do you play? 'Cuz I've got some cool giveaway posters of [didn't quite understand what he actually said] that you could have if you want!" I politely declined, but it was nice to feel recognized and affirmed as still (basically) the 13-year old nerdboy I am inside.

For the record, as I left the store I concidered whether or not to actually enter the "adults only" section. After all I've always wondered what was in there, and I'm well over the age of adulthood. But somethign held me back. Whether it was the deep feeling of "you're not supposed to go in there" that was instilled deep in my subconcious mind or the three other guys in there who sort of looked shifty and were probably searching for lord-knows-what -- I just didn't feel comfortable facing the reality of what was behind the door.

So I left. I think I just prefer the mystery of not knowing.

* Think Dungeons & Dragons
** Sure, it's lost some of its appeal now that he's been canned, but hey.
*** The guy who sort of ran the game for that particular session - typically the guy who owned the most books. He decides what happens to you and your fellow players, and is essentially a "higher power" for the day.
**** On sale too, only $2!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Yes, I was a good boy this year...

Yes it is that most wonderful time of the year, yay! I spent the day hanging out with my dad, stepmom, and my stepbrother and his girlfriend. We had Champagne* and enjoyed a nice lunch after opening presents where I received more of the gifts that signify my official passing into adulthood - clothes.

When I was a kid I *hated* getting clothes. I mean, my parents bought me clothes every year, I didn't *need* any more clothes! What I wanted was toys** - I mean my parents weren obligated by society to buy those on a regular basis, so why relatives woudl blow a perfectly good opportunity to buy me *those* always escaped me.

But now that I'm older I love getting clothes. Sure, sometimes they aren't a perfect fit and sometimes the color doesn't look good on me. But hey, it's all worth it when you get something that you really like. I think this is why socks and underwear are such a good gift - pretty much everyone needs them and they aren't really ruled by the same rules of fashion that other clothing items are. I mean, no matter how awful the color or pattern choice, when was the last time you heard someone on Queer Eye or What Not To Wear say "Oh my god, that outfigt *might* work if you gave it a chance but oh, those socks, those awful, awful socks!!!!"...Yeah, it doesn't happen.

After that we went downstairs where I introduced everyone to "Elf" - the greatest christmas movie since White Christmas. My stepmother was pretty sure she was going to fall asleep since it was dark out, but she actually laughed the hardest out of all of us. Another moment of pop culture-junkie satisfaction, spreading the good news about good cinema for the holidays and knowing you just hit one out of the park...

...I wonder if this is how Jesus felt when he gave the Beatitudes?

(And BOOM goes the blasphemy!)

Merry Christmas everyone!

* Well, not *actually* champagne, but it was sparkling and tasted pretty good.
** Transformers, in particular

Friday, December 22, 2006

American Choppers

Earlier this week I went in for my regular dentist appointment. After going through three different dentists who either disappeared mysteriously* or turned out to be sadistic fascists** I think I've finally found one that isn't awful. Of course 99% of the entire dental experience boils down to the hygenist. The perfect hygenist for me is high energy, laughs at my jokes, and doesn't use her scrapers like she's scraping burned eggs out of a skillet. And my hygenist at this new dentist is a winner on all fronts.

We even bonded a little over the tv, which is playing in every exam cubicle, as we watched "10 Years Younger" on one of the Discovery networks and were commenting on how the dentists all seem to insist that the world needs porcelain veneers - even 40-year old truckers with no upper teeth.

But not everything is perfect in my mouth. I've had a sensitive tooth for about 6 months now and even two full tubes of Sensodyne haven't been enough to set things back to right. So now I've been kicked up to prescription toothpaste! I was kind of excited when I heard about it. I mean, $24 toothpaste must not only clean my teeth, but cause dramatic weight loss, restore my hairline, cut two interest points off my mortgage, and fix the dent in my bumper. Turns out it just has more fluoride than regular toothpaste. Even more disappointing? It's made by Colgate. Sheesh, it doesn't even have a sexy-cool name like "Superteeth" or "Gumguard". Oh well, at least she laughs at my jokes.

But you know, come to think of it - I didn't even see my dentist when I was in, which I didn't realize until I started writing this. Sheesh.

* Dentist #1
** Dentist #2

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Smited (smote?) by the car gods again...

While running errands last night I was rear-ended by a terribly nice Polish man while stopped in traffic on a freeway. Yes, my winter-of-bad-car-Karma continues! The weird thing was it’s the second time in the past 4 months that this has happened. The last time I got tapped by a guy in a jeep but escaped with no damage, this time though, the screws in his front license plate punched two little holes in my bumper. So now I get to go through the experience of actually filing a claim with my insurance company. And to be honest, it’s gone pretty smoothly thus far*.

The guy who hit me was really nice about it, but his English was not too good. I can only hope that when my insurance company calls his insurance company he doesn’t think I hate Polish people.

Meanwhile, I’m only able to get up to 16/20 on this “Office Supply Name the Movie” game. Can anyone help me out with #2, #8, #9, and #14?**

* [sound of wood being knocked on frantically]
** Also helpful would be any ideas as to why Devil Wears Prada is a sponsor for this if they aren't any of the movies?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Oddly enough, nobody at the exhibit was walking like an Egyptian

Yesterday the GF and I took advantage of what had been another disturbingly warm weekend to head down to the Field Museum to check out the “King Tut and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” exhibit. Seeing as how you can’t walk more than two blocks in this city without seeing some sort of publicity for this exhibit*, and since it was due to close shortly after the new year, we figured we might as well go during the Bears game, which would shut down all parking near the Museum and scare away nerd-families who’d be afraid of the crowds. And as it turns out, we were right! The museum was nowhere near as busy as it would have been otherwise.

Still, even though we arrived at 11:30, we couldn’t get tickets to Tut until 2:00. So we were left to our own wanderings around the museum to kill time. The Field is an odd museum in that it’s been around forever, and yet it’s still transitioning from old school to new school museum. By that I mean that some of its exhibits are very much the “Here’s a dead stuffed Wapedi that’s been on display since 1915 so it’s getting a little ratty along with a hand-typed card explaining what it is” while some other exhibits are the “ZING! WOW! LOOK, KIDS – IT’S AN INTERACTIVE MODEL OF SOMETHING POOPING!! COME SMELL THE INTERACTIVE ARTIFICIAL POOP SMELL AND PLAY WITH SIMULATED WORM MUCUS!!! IN SPAAAAACE!!!!! KEWL!!!!” type. (sigh)…I miss the days before everything got MTV-isized…

I did get to make my own little red injection-molded T-Rex though. It was awesome, a little monster that I made in this little machine for a buck-fifty, which upon its removal from the machine promptly began trying to climb the GF’s shoulders and eat her hair, making fierce growling sounds. She responded by taking shutting him away in her purse until I** calmed down.

By then we got to go through the Tut exhibit, which, I have to admit – was pretty disappointing. While there is a decent amount of stuff in there, very little of it was actually from Tut’s tomb. Most of the items there came from a tomb of his aunt and uncle which was found nearby, and even of the stuff in his tomb only 4-5 items were actually his in life. Oh, and that big picture of the mask you see on the home page of the exhibit’s web page? That’s not the big mask that we’re all familiar with, it’s actually from a miniature version that was part of a canopic jar that held Tut’s liver. Talk about a letdown.

Still, I’m glad we went. At least I can say I saw it, and can pooh-pooh it with a sense of real authority.

* It’s on buses, billboards, bus stops, and pretty much every other media available
** Wait, did I say “I”? I meant “he”...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Quickie - I'm the webslinger!

Oh boy, another totally fun game for you all to waste your afternoons with...

You're welcome!

[HINT: Think Spiderman]

'Cuz we are living, in an immaterial world...

Did you all know that Barbie got a new dog? And guess what - it poops real fake poop! This is just another sign that society is continuing its long, slow slide into a world where humans no longer interact with each other, but instead interact only with simulacrums crafted of silicon, silicone, hydraulic actuators, and faux doggie "presents". [EDIT:] Holy crap, they also have a version where one of Barbie's friends has a *cat*! Apparently, the cat drinks water and then has to "wet"in the litter box where "litter clumps" then need to be removed...

What is it with people these days where people want "real life" but only in a way that isn't real? Look at what is popular these days - The Sims, Second Life, even the social networking sites to an extent. All of them are ways to do exactly the same sorts of stuff we dread doing in real life, and yet somehow when you do them virtually, they become fun! Why is that? How does doing the dishes go from being a chore that we all avoided like the plague as children, to being entertainment simply because now when we do them, we look like a different person? If you *really* want to mix things up, try on a completely different culture over at Real Lives and see if you can cut it as an Australian Aborigine or African Bushman. At least then you can try something truly different.

Of course, maybe we're all just extras in some virtual world. Of course, that would imply that God is possibly a 13 year old boy playing in his basement, and the only character he's controlling is that jerk who cut me off on my way to work this morning.

Quickie - You sheath that weapon, and I'll put my knife away

Reading this article the other day, I thought to myself, "If there was any time when you would *want* to wear a condom, wouldn't you think it'd be when you're about to have sex with a Cambodian hooker?"

Especially one that is wielding a knife...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

In Chicago, people'd come back from the dead to vote for that!

Ever want to learn how to become the world's best mom - just like Dina Lohan? Now you can! All you have to do is start carting your daughters off for some good ol' mother/daughter bonding while taking classes in stripping together!

All together now...EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nearly as funny is the article's reference to "poll dancing" instead of "pole dancing". Although, maybe that would be one way to get younger people go get off our collective asses and get out to the polls. Free lap dances for everyone who votes!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Quickie - Scary me, Mary me!

OH MY GOD!!!

Someone recut clips from Mary Poppins into a trailer for a horror-movie version called "Scary Mary". I've seen this done before (namely with Office Space, Groundhog Day, Breakfast Club and other comedies) but this one actually seemed frightening.

I never want to see that movie again...

Small victories

After picking up my car again I’ve decided that I’m finished taking the car to the dealer. No matter how hard they try they simply can’t sound honest and I’m just tired of all the hassle. So I took my lunch hour yesterday to do some research, and do you know how I found a couple good candidates? That’s right – Public Radio!

Well, specifically it’s the Car Talk guys who run their own website where you can type in your zip code and get a list of shops in your area that work on your make of car. I found two of them that are reasonable close to my house and am so happy about it that I’m almost looking forward to the next time my car breaks down.

How sick is that? My relationship with the dealer has become so dysfunctional that I’m excited for the next time my car breaks down. It’s a good thing I don’t have kids or a post like this might get the surveillance folks down at Homeland Security to pass it along to DCFS.

In other news – there’s a reason that the GF is so feminine – she eats tofu. I admit that I’ve occasionally dabbled in some of her meatless stuff* and found it not awful. And I’m not too nervous about it, as the amount of estrogen in soy is nowhere near enough to overwhelm my massive levels of testosterone coursing through my veins like herds of wild and free mustangs roaming the plains of the middle-west.

Still, just in case, I think I’ll have some red meat for lunch.

* Namely veggie corn dogs and veggie boneless chicken wings, both of which are *awesome*

Quickie - Monkeys don't throw poo here anymore...

This one goes out to J.Bro, who is usually the person who finds the new photo tours of abandoned places. It's a tour of the old Los Angeles Zoo, which apparently moved out to bigger and better digs a few years ago (sooo L.A.)

link

Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday disappointment

Every holiday season, one of my most looked-forward-to ad campaigns is that for Victorias Secret. For no other reason than my demographic being easily-drawn to images of lingerie-clad supermodels bouncing down runways and swooshing around pseudo-industrial dance club environments like panty-clad ninjas at a rave.

But this year, even though the new campaign has apparently only begun this weekend, I'm already disappointed. I admit that I love Heidi Klum as much as any man alive. She seems relatively intelligent, with a decent sense of humor* and hey, she married Seal, who I hear is a good guy. But If you've seen this new ad – you'll understand what I mean when I say that she's no singer. She tries hard, but it seems pretty clear why they only have her sing the first and last lines of “Santa Baby”.**

Even worse, there's absolutely no panty-clad ninja-ravers! Just Heidi Klum wearing a fluffy robe (and just a hint of a brassiere). Understandably, she just had another kid, which has probably caused some “adjustments” to her figure that she's still overcoming. But still...

Heidi, dear? Stick to Project Runway.

* Granted, she's no Elle Macpherson in that respect, whose appearance as Joey's replacement roommate on Friends sealed her place into the exclusive club of “Former Models I'd like to Actually Hang Out With Over a Beer and Pizza”.
** It's not “Santa Baby” but you can catch Heidi's holiday hit single here (single available at Amazon.de)! Boy...first David Hasslehoff, now this? What won't German's listen to?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Random musings before bed after a dull night on the road

In light of my travels being pretty un-noteworthy* I was sitting here in the Findlay Fairfield inn going through all the old photos on my cell phone. Turns out I found a whole bunch of pictures that I'd been meaning to blog about but had forgotten about entirely.

Example #1 - At O'Hare after flying back from Vegas



This metal bracket is mounted above the TP dispenser. It's friggin' huge and I have no idea what it is for. At first I thought it was some sort of storage space where women could stash their purse or handbag. But then I remembered - I was in a men's room. Any ideas?

Picture #2 - In the window of a grocery store in some small town in Wisconsin (seen on the way to my cousin's wedding):



MMmmmm...frosted flak...

Picture #3 - From the way back machine, from a display of sandals in a Walgreens this past summer:



Frankly, I wonder if I should get a shirt that says the same thing about me that I can wear around when it's sunny. After all, big sunshine is just as bad for me as it probably is for these sandals.

Wait a minute, since when is sunlight bad for sandals? Aren't sandals (by definition) meant to be worn outside in "big sunshine"? No wonder they were on sale...

*Barring a bunch of Amish people hanging out sheets to dry in below-freezing weather and a factory manager describing their emissions as including "carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen chloride and a bunch of other nasty stuff"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not one of my favorite weeks...

After flying back from Vegas last night, doing some laundry, repacking and trying to call my dealer to schedule *another* time to bring the car in to fix the exact same problem it was having last month*, I’m exhausted. Good thing I have that “vacation” scheduled for the rest of this week!

Oh wait, it’s not a vacation – it’s actually for work, thaaaaat’s right…[insert look of chagrined resignation here]

Today is full of meetings at work which gives me all of 20 minutes to go grab lunch ant try to sift through email before the meetings resume.

Anyway, I have all sorts of fun stories and bad pictures to share from stuff I’ve seen both in Vegas, but it’ll all have to wait until I get to the hotel tonight and start taking advantage of the free wi-fi.

* It died Saturday morning as I was leaving for the airport to catch my flight out. And the service guy says they “may or may not” pay to have the tow truck bring the car in again, which won’t happen until Saturday at the earliest since I’m out of town all week. Must…control…fist of death…

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Time for more hooker collector cards!

If the weather oracles are to be believed, I am about to die. I’m sure a large portion of my StL readership can verify this, as according to weather.com, they are currently being bludgeoned about the head and shoulders by the gods of sleet and ice, as well as possibly frozen birds dropping from the sky*. And as I sit here pondering my imminent doom, the only thing that really concerns me is whether or not my flight to Vegas tomorrow is going to be delayed or cancelled. At least my flight’s not until 2:30pm, and most of the weather’s expected to move off by noon. Ah, good times.

Yup, it’s time for “Vegas II – The Revenge”. Those of you expecting another weekend of boredom, don’t fret, I’m going out with a buddy and a bunch of his friends so things should be a little more interesting this time around. Still, I’m bringing earplugs because I’m still getting my sleep no matter how many frat boys are hollering at the Hard Rock. I will have my laptop along with, so I *may* blog, but the schedule is pretty busy, so it may be at odd hours.

After I get back I’m in town for all of 24 hours before heading out on the mother of all business trips. All of it spent on the road as I drive all over Ohio. Here’s my route, in the event any of you think you see me as I drive by.



Yeah, not looking forward to it. At least I’ll have my iPod…of course I won’t know if my rental car can accept it until I pick it up and find out whether it has a tape deck. [fingers crossed].

* Birds who obviously do not check weather.com before departure

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

All those suits in finance can finally cut loose!

Among the interesting new technologies that will change our lives in 2007* is this idea of removable tattoos. Made of biodigestible ink that can be released into the body (thus removing the tattoo) with a simple laser treatment, these new inks will finally knock down that last barrier stopping us all from running out and marking our individuality all over ourselves a la Jesse James**.

But the thing I found most amusing? The accompanying picture showing the nebbishy tax accountant flexing his “guns” in a desperate attempt to impress the totally hot tattoo artist. You can see it all in his facial expression – a look that says “Yeah baby, now that this removable ink is out I can finally roll out the crazy fun times while still maintaining my mad risk-averse street cred with my CPA homies! Plus, this chick totally wants me, I can *so* tell… Woot!”

The hot tattoo woman though, is probably thinking “Hmmm…I wonder if he can tell that these highlights aren’t natural?”

* Why is it that all the life-changing ones never come out until next year? Wait, was Tickle-Me-Elmo TMX supposed to be life-changing? Crap! No wonder everyone wants one…
** The biker dude, not the cowboy outlaw.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quickie - Trucker's Chagrin

On my drive home tonight, I drove past a big semi-truck. No doubt driven by a classic example of male "compensation", it had the word "INDOMABLE" painted across the back of the cab. Sure, he didn't know how to spell indomitable* but he wasn't going to let that stop him!

No, he was going to let his truck stop him; his truck was being towed by one of the big semi tow-trucks.

So much for being indomable.

* All you running back after visiting dictionary.com and saying that indomable *is* a word, note that that definition is obsolete. Besides, it's just another form of indomitable anyway. He needs to live in the now anyway and quit using antiquated spellings - his truck is not "Ye Olde Renaissance Faire"

Monday, November 27, 2006

I'm handy, darnit!

This weekend I finally broke down and bought a rack for my DVD collection. Those of you who have visited my place have witnessed my old storage method and would probably agree with the GF that it was a menace to all mankind. You see I used to keep all my DVD’s in a cardboard box behind my living room chair. This worked just fine for the first few years until I had amassed so many movies that they started stacking up higher than the walls of the box, creating high probabilities of movie avalanches when they were tipped. Plus, it had become somewhat dangerous to try and pick movies to watch, since one would have to carefully disassemble and reassemble the stacks in the box while doing so.

Needless to say, I went for years without buying a real storage solution, for multiple reasons. First, almost all the racks I found were not big enough to hold all my movies. Second, the ones that were big enough were either behemoths or just plain ugly. So when I was walking through CB2 the other day and happened across one that was a reasonable size* and on sale I snapped it up. It was still almost too big for my car, and was a pain to carry upstairs and set up. But once I had finished assembling it and loading in all my movies, I was able to peruse my entire collection all at once for the first time in *years*. It was a magical experience.

Once that was done though I started second-guessing myself, and am now convinced that I could have built the same thing myself** with some lumber, a lazy susan, and a router. I mean, I have a lot of tools, and I took wood shop in seventh grade*** so how hard could it be? Naturally, when I told the GF about my revelation she gave me the same look that the mother of a 4 year old would give to her child who had just proclaimed that he could climb walls like Spiderman – the “Well, I know that’s impossible but he might look so cute while trying so I won’t say anything just now” look…

Still, I remain convinced. All I need is a garage that I don’t share and I’m totally building one. It might happen sooner than later because I’ve already pretty much run out of room in this new one with my current movie collection. But I might stave it off for a few years once the Hi-Def DVD format war plays out and I have to repurchase everything I currently own****. But then you just wait! I’ll built the most awesome media shelf in all the land!

* The secret was that it revolves, so it has two sides to store movies on.
** Only better because mine would have had DVD-sized shelf spacing on both sides!
*** Where I got an A, thank you very much. My mom still has the pot holder that I made.
**** Except for the crap movies that I bought only because they were cheap like “Serendipity” and “National Lampoons Repli-Kate”

Friday, November 24, 2006

Just lazy...but exciting news!

The one thing about being on vacation for a long time and note going anywhere is that it sort of messes up my schedule. Hence, the spotty blog-action here for the last week or so. It’s not even that I blog at work, I think it has more to do with the enforced schedule that I find motivating. But not to worry, I get back on schedule next week so all should be well with the world again.

Last Monday I had one job to do – male escort. You see the GF works in the world of local television and the show she works on was nominated for a local Emmy award. So I had to get a tux and play the role of arm candy for the evening. It was a pretty big affair, with lots of locally famous people* in expensive outfits being led through the program by the host**. One interesting thing was that they didn’t allow acceptance speeches on stage during the show. Instead winners were ushered offstage to a side area where they could give a speech that would be posted on the Emmy website after the show. Honestly, I thought this was a great idea as it shaved off at least a half hour from the overall program and let us get to the post-show party*** sooner.

Since I didn’t really know most of the other folks there, the GF and I spent most of our time at the post-party hanging out with her associates from her station. And I made pleasant small talk and people-watched. From this observation, I learned that while many people figure out that anchormen are tall, they might now know how tall some of the anchorwomen are. Trust me, they are giants. Anna Davlantes, for one, must be close to 7’ in heels, which was surprising since she seems much shorter on the website. But it wasn’t just her – all the women anchors were towering over the rest of the show. In retrospect, this probably made it easier for them to find each other at the post party.

The other amusing takeaway from the evening was how many Emmy’s are awarded for soft news. Here’s a sampling of actual soft news story titles that were nominated in the category of “Outstanding achievement in a regularly scheduled news program – Soft news Single Feature”:

  • “Figure Flattering Jeans”
  • “What’s Up There?”
  • “Can you Sudoku?”

And that doesn’t include the 4-5 nominations for a story on Texas barbeque that won several Emmys but basically qualified as torture for showing endless clips of beef being basted and slathered with sauce to an audience of 1000+ who all hadn’t eaten dinner yet.****

The most annoying part of the evening for me personally was the proliferation of men wearing tuxedos with long ties. It’s a pet peeve of mine, and granted, it’s a minor pet peeve***** - but I cannot stand long ties with tuxedos. I mean, if you get a tux and wear it with a long tie, then there’s almost no way of anyone knowing that you’re not just wearing a black suit! So what’s the point!?!? You can’t see the studs or the majority of the tuxedo shirt. Of all the men there, I can say pretty safely that I was a rarity by sticing with the traditional bow tie. Even if it was the rental one that hooks around my neck instead of being an actual bow tie.

Still, by the end of the show I was pretty excited because the GF’s show won the Emmy they were nominated for! So now I can go around telling all my friends that I’m dating an Emmy Winner. And now those of you who’ve met her can say you know an Emmy winner too! That means you’re only 3-4 degrees away from Kevin Bacon now! Neat huh?

* See, I don’t really watch much local news so there were lots of people who I sort-of-recognized, but I couldn’t tell you their names or which station they were on.
** In a total coup, the local NATAS scored the guy who played Sweetchuck in the Police Academy movies to host and frankly, he was better than some Oscar hosts.
*** Translation: food
**** By the last time it was nominated, I could have eaten my armrest and thought it was a brisket
***** Unlike all those major pet peeves that are otherwise known as “actual problems”

Monday, November 20, 2006

One last thing about Vegas...

Okay I'm back after a fun weekend full of adventures that I'll have to blog about a little later, probably tomorrow.

But, there are three things about Vegas that I wanted to bring up now that I have the ablity to post pictures from the trip...

1) Vegas is chock full of "Date or Daughter" moments. Witness what I was in front of me going down the escalator at the Venetian (click for details):



Now, it wasn't so bad when viewed from the front (I'm pretty sure she was a date...or one of the escorts from my deck of 34). Of course, this guy is probably some big honcho somewhere* so there's no way in heck I'm showing his face. I will give him credit though for being one of the few older dues who didn't succomb to #2...

2) Vegas is the last place on earth where toupees are still believed to work. Honestly, I saw hairpieces that were indistinguishable from roadkill. And it only got worse the farther I got into the trip, until it culminated in a double-whammy at the airport. Witness:



And what's worse, there was another guy who was even worse that got off the plane and escaped before I could break out the camera. It's a shame too because it was a beaut...now he's become like my sasquatch - little more than a report from a raving lunatic who was traumatized by the experience and therefore can't be a reliable source.

Finally, the last note from my trip...

3) Vegas has only about a dozen cabbies - and they are all the ones who were too racist/sexist to work in New York. Seriously, I've never waited in taxi queues like I have in Vegas. Here's the line waiting for me when I checked out on the way back to the airport:



It took me 45 minutes to get through it and I ended up splitting a cab with a young lady about my age from Canada who had flown in on business. She was an architect and was very nice. Of course, as soon as the cabbie saw we were speaking to each other he assumed we were a random hookup who had spent the last weekend going at each other like crazed viagara bunnies. He kept asking if we needed to stop by the wedding chapel on the way to the airport. It was mildly annoying to say the best, and we both pretty much stopped talking - our horror evident to everyone in the cab but him. When we let her off at the Air Canada terminal he told me "Sorry dude, I tried. I think she's a lesbian."

Then he waived off a group of Asian guys trying to get back to the main terminal** and dropped me off while telling me about how he learned all about other cultures in Vietnam, so he "knew what he was talking about".

Needless to say, I got out of the cab as quickly as I could before he could say any more words. I will say though, that he got me to the airport twice as fast as "Johnny B" from the ride in, who I am now convinced took me on the freeway because he recognized I was a first timer. Of course, when I go back in two weeks I'll be an experienced veteran. So I expect that the stories will be much less bloggable without much more identity-hiding.

* Likely with the mafia
** With the rejoinder "Stupid pencilnecks, if only they could find a way to make Asian women without needing Asian men".

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm trapped!

I was able to take care of all my business at the trade show yesterday so I called my corporate travel agent to see if it might be possible to switch to an earlier flight that would get me back home before it was dark at home. Of course, this being Vegas, all the flights are full. So now I have a couple hours to kill before leaving for the airport. I'm probably going to stay in my room as long as possible and then head to the airport. My flight leaves around 3:00, so that'll leave me with only 4 hours to kill while I'm there. Presuming, of course, that there's no weather between here and Chicago that might delay me.

Honestly, I'm kind of bored here. The GF has been teasing me when we talk because I'm the only person she knows who can be bored in Vegas. It's not that there isn't a lot to do, it's just that what is here is so expensive that I feel guilty doing any of it when I'm just here by myself. I'm also not a big gambler - maybe it's the pastors kid in me, but I just don't like throwing my money away. I'm a horrible card player, suck at sports betting, and my luck at the slots is temperamental* at best. And there really isn't a whole lot to do here by yourself outside of gambling and drinking. Sure, there are services that will send strippers "direct to you" which one would assume one could do by yourself. But I'm all skeptical of the flyer-hander-outer "services" now because one of them showed a picture of Vida Guerra**, calling her "Sam". So now I'm convinced that all the women in the cards are just pictures downloaded from the internet. In reality, when you call them you probably end up with scary crystal meth girls like this one, this one, and this one. Eeeek!

* After my $30 win on Monday, I lost $15 yesterday...so much for "manipulation of slot machines" being my mutant power
** A model made famous by FHM for having a butt that puts j.lo to shame

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Because I like to offer a hand to my illegal alien friends

Given how much farther south Las Vegas is than Chicago, I was confident that the sun would set later in the day than it does back home. So I wasn't expecting to go out and walk the strip until after dinner. So as promised I made my way down to the Casino to kill some time until dark. I played a slot machine and turned my $10 into $40 in about 15 minutes. Turns out gambling isn't that hard! Seriously, how in the heck do these places afford to build such expensive hotels if they keep giving money away to everyone who comes and sits down for a while? It's a mystery...

After cashing out I walked out and headed north along the strip to go see the water shows at the Belaggio* and the Mirage. While the Belaggio show was great** the Mirage was really disappointing. Sure, it was a ncie lake and all - there were even a pair of ducks hanging out in the lagoon. Since I didn't know when the show started, I just hung out waiting for it to start. For some reason***, all the European tourists came up to me to ask when the show starts. I was honest, but spent about 45 minutes waiting for something to happen. When the show did start - it was a major disappointment. I waited 45 minutes to listen to 10 minutes of bird sounds and then watch the volcano "erupt" for 3 minutes? I wish I'd made my way up to TI for the pirate show instead.

I also walked through some other casinos to get my bearings. The Belaggio and Venetian are *stunning*. It's crazy how big and over-the-top they are. More on that experience when I can post pictures of my camera.

When it got to about 8:00 I made my way back. Now, before doing so I said that I would accept whatever anybody handed to me. I did this because for the whole way up there were these guys snapping little collector cards at me which I had refused because I was sightseeing. But I figure they are probably just trying to do a job and are getting paid to hand out 1000 cards or so. So the only thing keeping them from being able to go home and spend quality time with their son was my refusing their offerings. And since all boys need positive male role models in order not to become criminals, I owed it to Las Vegas to prevent a couple dozen boys from slipping down that slope by taking as many cards as possible.

For the record, I got 34 cards just on the way back, including duplicates of "Keira" and "Taylor" and triples of "Jess" and "Alexis"****. Now, all I have to do is devise some rules and I'll have enough cards to have my own little Porno-Pokemon game*****! Then I'll have grown men freaking out over finally finding a "Heidi and Lola" doubles card - just like this kid, except older.

Off to the trade show!

* Totally awesome, I actually stopped to watch it on the way back too.
** And made me feel like I was hanging out with George Clooney at the end of Ocean's 11
*** Perhaps because my glasses make me look like a German intellectual
**** I find it interesting that pictures of naked women are verboten, but handing out pictures of naked women with tiny little stars positioned over their naughty bits are okay to be handed out on the street.
***** Emphasis on the "poke".

Monday, November 13, 2006

Live from the city of sin!

Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, I do have access from my room here at the Monte Carlo in Vegas. I've basically sat in my room since I got here because I've been unpacking and getting my suitcase brought up from storage (I got here before check-in). The 'net access isn't free but it's not unreasonably expensive. I mean, it is Vegas and anything but gambling costs too much, right?

The trip itself was pretty uneventful. Due to the last-minute nature of my trip* the only carrier that was selling tickets for less than $1100 was Southwest. As much as I appreciate the LUV, I really prefer not to fly them. You see, I love that they have forced the legacy carriers to drop their prices, and therefore have made it possible for me to fly pretty much anywhere in the US for a relatively reasonable price. But I prefer to fly United or American because in my experience, the people who fly American would otherwise fly United** but the people who fly Southwest would otherwise ride Greyhound. Their flights are so full of people who have never flown before and don't know where to go and what to do***. Case in point, waiting in the boarding lines for my flight, eight people didn't know that they were in the wrong line, trying to board with the B's when their boarding passes were for the C's.

Oh, and when we landed, half the plane broke out in applause. "Oh boy, Maw, we didn't crash! Yee-haw!"...sheesh.

But the excitement didn't stop there. Once I picked up my luggage I made for the taxi stand and got matched up with "Johnny B" who claimed not to have left Las Vegas in 29 years and was so hopped up on caffeine that he looked like an ADD patient who ran out of meds. He asked whether I wanted to go "the scenic way or the fast way". Not wanting to get taken to the cleaners for a cab ride, I said the fast way. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. He proceeded to drive like a test pilot, dodging in and out of traffic, squealing through parking lots, and cutting off tour buses on the way up the strip. Scary? You bet. But I now have a whole new appreciation for life - in fact, I feel lucky.

I suppose I'd better hit the casino while my luck is still good. =)

* I didn't know I was coming until two weeks ago when I got the new position
** Or vice versa

Sunday, November 12, 2006

On the road again

Monday I leave for two days in Vegas for work. Yeah, it's a rough life, this new gig of mine. While part of me is excited to go to Vegas for the first time, another part knows that this time will probably be prety dull since it's for work. I'm coming back in about two weeks anyway for a buddy's birthday party, and I expect that will involve significantly more "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" moments. As it is, this trip will probably involve nothing more than crazy adventures with suppliers. but since it's in vegas, part of me will always be wondering whether any of the Booth babes are actually hookers.

I'll have the laptop while I'm there, and if I have 'net access I'll keep posting. But since I expect the Monte Carlo is not all that interested in keeping guests in their rooms I might not. In which case I'll try to post all my stories when I get back on Wednesday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

PC: 1, Grrrbear: 0

Late last night I spend about an hour trying to install the latest update for iTunes. I wasn’t sure what the deal was but every time I ran the install program it cycled through installation just fine but I the program itself wouldn’t start up once it was installed. Seriously, I spent way too much time on this, uninstalling and reinstalling half-a-dozen times to no avail. As far as my PC was concerned, iTunes didn’t even exist.

By 11:00 or so I was so exhausted that I gave up and shut down my computer to go to bed. Of course, at that point the PC stopped responding entirely, and I tried to use the paddles and a snort of blow to (in the words of Motley Crue) to kick-start its heart. But still nothing. So I turned off the power supply to the PC – snuffing the very spark of life that was refusing to die with a merciless flipping of the powerstrip switch and heartless cackle of glee.

Of course, when I powered it back on again, everything ran fine. I didn’t even need to reinstall again. The PC sat there, running iTunes perfectly, as if to say “What? What are you looking at? Did *I* do something?”

I tell you, that stupid PC is going to try and strangle me in my sleep if it can ever figure out how to do it over the internet. And it wonders why I’m spending so much time with the Macbook lately…

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Buddy can you spare some time?

I’ve only been in my new position for about a week, but already my schedule is looking like it is going to get a lot crazier than I’m accustomed to. The worst part is not having a desk of my own at the moment. The desk I’m supposed to move into is still occupied by its current resident, and the desk he’s moving into was only moved yesterday. And, then, of course, there is the complex “Dance of the IT Folks” that needs to happen before my phone number and computer are moved to the right place perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

All that said, once I move in the next thing that’s a little intimidating is that my new position involves a lot more travel than my old one did. This is nice because it lets me save up beaucoup frequent flyer miles and Marriott points to use when the GF and I go on exotic vacations*. But business travel is rarely as exciting as pleasure travel, simply because you rarely get to see any of the interesting things. For example I have a trip next month that will take me from Cleveland to Detroit, stopping at six little towns along the way visiting suppliers. I completely intend to stop by the Double-Deuce and pick a fight with Patrick Swayze while I’m there**. At least I should have interesting stories from the road, given that with nothing to do in those small towns I’ll have plenty of time for blogging***.

In the end, it’s probably a good thing. At least I’ll have the time to go through and modify my blogroll while I’m crashing at the Canton Super 8. Sadly I haven’t had the time to remove some dormant ones or folks that moved**** and replace them with interesting new people I’ve found*****. Plus, I have so much reading to do on ya’lls old posts******…

* To places like Madison, WI
** It’s his way or the highway…
*** Prepare yourselves for long, detailed summaries of roadkill-counts and tales of roadside diners!
**** NWG, did you see that your URL got bought by someone promoting the Mirage in Vegas?
***** Amelie-Freak has *great* taste in music and Kay looks great as a dude
****** No, I’m not from the south I just find ya’ll a very useful term on occasion. Plus it makes me sound more friendly than I actually am. In reality I’m very mean. Hence the “grrr”.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My brush with political fame...maybe

One of the more interesting election-related stories about my day yesterday was my running into Tony Peraica while I was out at lunch. For those of you not living in Cook County, Tony Peraica is the republican candidate for Cook County Board President. The board is basically a bloated arm of the Chicago Political machine that has a lot of money but little in the way of real power. It’s been run since the dawn of time by man named John Stroger, who suffered a stroke during the democratic primary and was hidden away from public view until after the primary was over and he was certified the winner. Then, when they finally admitted that he was a vegetable, the Stroger family finagled it so that Storger’s son Todd would replace his father on the ballot, instead of going with the other primary candidate (who only barely lost to Stroger). Ah, nepotism all around.

I was so disgusted by the whole thing that I actually voted for Peraica, even though he has a reputation as a right-leaning Bush-phile. And when I was leaving Portillos* I saw him entering the building followed by a couple handlers and a cameraman. He saw that I recognized him and spub all the way around to come back out, shake my hand, and ask for my vote. He seemed like a really decent guy, so I was happy to tell him that I had already voted for him. Sure, he’s a republican, but like I said, the county board has no real legislative power. Now it turns out that the race might be closer than anyone thought it might be. If it turns out that he wins by one vote, I’ll feel pretty important, I dare say.

In other election news, I found a fun site where you can see the political leanings of superheros. Man, that Batman totally has the right idea. I should have voted for him instead of all those judges….

* Mmmm…tasty…

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Quickie - Surprise, surprise, surprise.

OH MY GOD! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT"S FINALLY HAPPENED!!!! I NEVER IMAGINED...

(sigh)...yeah, even I can't fake surprise over this "shocking announcement".

The interesting thing now will be: can she get her career back now that her producers and handlers have re-taken the reins? Or is she forever destined to milk legacy sales of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" while spiraling down through various levels of reality-TV hell?

Of course, we already know where *he's* going...

The ups and downs of my voting experience

I woke up a little early this morning to head down to my local polling place and get my civic duty out of the way nice and early before the lines started forming and people started getting disenfranchised. After all the hype surrounding the elections this year I was all excited to vote and make my voice heard.

But the reality that my district has no remotely close races going on soon struck me quickly. Other than the Governor’s race, I had no body to vote for that would remotely affect control of Congress. I did get to vote on some interesting referendums, and was once again reminded of how much I loathe voting for judges*.

But even though none of my races were exciting, at least I got to be excited about my polling place! After years of being forbidden entry all through high school and my 20’s, society has now spun on its heel and made me morally obligated to go into the women’s locker room. Truthfully, while it was exciting to enter the forbidden zone, it was pretty much the same as a guys locker room – but with a few notable exceptions:

  • It was really hot inside. In retrospect this should not have surprised me. Most women that I know are cold all the time, so it would be logical that an environment where they are parading around in their nekkidness (engaging in random tickle-fights and occasional make-out sessions**) would be warmer than usual. I just didn’t think it would have to be as warm as the womb. And Freud thought men had “return to the womb” issues…
  • It didn’t smell *nearly* as bad as a men’s locker room. Ladies, for all your protestations that women’s locker rooms smell just as funky as a guy’s locker room, you have obviously never been in a men’s locker room after football practice. Obviously this was part of the conspiracy to keep us out of your locker room. Sure, they don’t smell like flowers or fresh-baked pie, but it did smell slightly of doughnuts due to the poll workers having a complete craft service table set up for the two workers that were there***.

All told though, my voting went pretty smoothly. Of course, that was probably bcause I was the 15th person to vote in my district. I expect things to get much nastier later today when it all comes down to the wire. Hey, is anyone having a riot-watching party tonight?

* Seriously, there were close to 100 of them, almost none of which I had heard anything about. How can there be millions of dollars spent on negative ads for governor and congressional seats but *zero* spent on judges? How can I be an informed voter if I don’t know whom to hate and/or fear the most?
** Don’t try to pretend it doesn’t happen, ladies, we men know what really goes on in there when we’re not there voting – we’ve seen the late-night documentaries on Cinemax.
*** Glad to see my tax dollars are being spent wisely!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Catching up - Halloween

The actual Day of Halloween the GF and I put on our costumes and headed down to the North Halsted parade dressed as our childhood friend-selves: King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday. Frankly, I have to say that our costumes were excellent, helped mostly by the full-size replica of Trolley that the GF found. We arrived too late to register for the contest but as we sat outside the fence watching the parade people kept coming up and asking if they could take their picture with us. After this happened four or five times, we decided to sneak our way up to the start of the parade in hopes of slipping in - figuring that our obvious popularity would so overwhelm the judges that they wouldn't notice two more people in costumes without numbers.

As it turns out, we didn't even need numbers. Once all the people in the various contests had passed they opened up the parade route to anyone who wanted to walk, so we made our way into the street, stopping to wave at the throngs.

Now, I could lie and tell you that it was a perfectly ordinary experience. That we walked up the 5-6 blocks, waved at a few people before heading over to IHOP for some stuffed french toast prior to making our way to the el stop for an uneventful ride back to the GF's house. But the truth is that it was an *awesome* experience. Literally, it was a life-altering experience. Now, when we came up with the idea of going as King Friday and Queen Sara, we thought "Hey, maybe a few folks will recognize us and they'll think it's funny." We were totally unprepared for the adoration we received - seriously, it was like we had suddenly been transformed into a late-90's boy band.

Everyone we waved at waved back, and most people recognized us. Granted, some of them took a few seconds before shouting out "King Friday!!!"* followed by the occasional "I love you guys!". As the GF said, it was about as close to being a famous person as I think I ever want to get. Sure, it was nice getting my picture taken about a hundred-and-fifty times** but in the back of my head I was saying to myself "I'm glad the fake beard and wig cover almost all of my face."

Of course, it also could have been that the GF just looked like a total hottie in her Queen outfit. I mean after all, it *was* the North Halsted Parade - and those boys do love their Queens.

* Except for the few who thought I was the Burger King. Honestly, people, I know I have a large noggin, but come on...do I seriously look that creepy!?!?
** About 60% of which seemed like they were stereotype-perpetuating Asian tourists...honestly.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Holding pattern due heavy traffic

The last week has been a whirlwind of Halloween-related festivities (followed by much, much cleanup) plus some new craziness due to my having been promoted late last week. So most of my available time this week has been taken up with training my replacement before assuming my new position this afternoon-ish. I promise to get everyone caught up on what’s been going on as soon as possible – including me and the GF’s 20 minutes of life as famous people on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, to keep you all entertained, I provide a few neat things gleaned off the interweb:

First, a little something for my Political Science homies up in Madison.

Second, a little something for all of my guy homies who can’t get enough of the episode of Friends with the Princess Leia costume. (Not necessarily NSFW, but might raise some eyebrows).

Finally, ever wanted to take a cross-country road trip but never had the time? Now you can!*

* Well, sort of. It’s pretty obvious that this is at least somewhat edited to cut out long portions of dull-straight road, including probably all of Kansas. So while it’s fraudulent, it’s only a little bit so.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wait a minute...that's not that hard, after all!

Halloween is today and the GF and I celebrated by throwing a small bash with a few friends last weekend - complete with halloween themed cookies, colored lighting, and a smoke machine we bought for $20 at Target*. A good time (and many beers) was had by all.

Part of any good Halloween fete is everyone's favoritepart - the carving of the pumpkins! We all grew up wielding sharp kitchen implements and cutting ourselves trying to carve three triangles and a smile into a smelly round gourd that somehow was able to be transformed into a delicious thanksgiving treat only a few weeks later**. And it was freakin *hard*! Then these "pumpkin carving experts" came along and carved elaborately complicated designs that surely no human being could carve with a mere knife - clearly, they were jedis who used their light sabers. I mean, just *look* at this picture from the "most popular" picture list on Yahoo:



Seriously, what sort of person has the time to make these things!? Surely such a complex art form must require days of preparation; starting with scale models carved out of grapes and apples, and working up to the full sized model. But wait...that middle one looks awfully familiar...

Oh yeah! That's because all of these designs come with the pumpkin carving kit that I bought at Target last week. The GF's roommate carved the middle design herself. Granted, she is a carving maven. But *I* was able to pull off a different design that came with the kit myself - the scariest design that was obviously too frightening for the AP photographer. See for yourselves...IF YOU DARE!



Yeah, if *I* can carve something that good, then something is seriously wrong with the jack-o-lantern industry. Honestly, I feel a little dirty resorting to a pattern I got from a retail kit. As god is my witness, I'll never do it again. Plus, I simply don't have the time to spend another hour carving a pumpkin that often.

Still, it's wicked scary, ain't it?

* Who says cheap chinese manufacturing is a bad thing?
** Mom never told you what she did with your jack-o-lantern, did she? That's right...SHE MADE YOU EAT IT FOR THANKSGIVING!

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's me again!

Well, after being told that getting my car fixed will take so much time that it won't be ready until Monday I spent the day trying to clean my place for the party tomorrow. I also made a trip to the liquor store to stock up.

But in general it's been a pretty boring day. Nobody knows this more than the GF, who has stopped answering her phone at work, no doubt because I've called her something like 5-6 times today with trivial updates such as:

"Hey! I got pumpkin beer!"
"Hi! I just got off the phone with the shop. They found that my car was basically being held together with spit and luck. They can fix it, but it's going to cost eleventy billion dollars."
"Hello! I don't really have anything to say!"
"The cable guy's here! Just letting you know!"

I guess I can't really blame her.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Plus, it's raining all day today

I’m sitting here at work waiting for the tow truck. I took a half-day off this afternoon but my car won’t start, choosing instead to emit a rapid-fire clicking sound that sounds not too unlike a cricket whenever I try to turn it over. Oh, the joys of car ownership. And, since my shop is in the city and I work in the suburbs, the tow in will probably run me at least $100-150. When I talked to the guy at my shop he said that my instrument cluster is probably going out which means the bill will probably result in my first child being born into indentured servitude.

Still, I have to be grateful for the fact that my car at least picked the most convenient time to break down, what with me having taken this afternoon and tomorrow off, with nothing but an assortment of errands to run before then. It sure beats breaking down in Madison, during a snowstorm.

Plus, now I’ll have a rental car with a trunk while I’m running errands tomorrow to prep for the mother of all Halloween parties that the GF and I are throwing on Saturday. Just think of how much more booze I’ll be able to bring home now! Jeepers, this is great!

Thanks Great Pumpkin!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Madison Blogfest '06

Despite mother nature's best efforts to stop it, Madison Blog-fest 2006 was an unqualified success. When the GF and I arrived on Friday night, we checked into the Courtyard and began planning the weekend. Spice and J.Bro had supplied multiple activities for the weekend, so we planned away, and then collapsed onto the surprisingly comfortable bed.

In the morning, we woke up to clouds and spinkles, as nature threw everything she had at us in a muted midwestern way – as if to say “Hey you big-city types! Fear my wrath...if it's not too much of a problem!”. We went down to the Capitol Square farmer's market and I found myself in heaven – surrounded by baked goods, fresh apple juice, and cheese. We helped ourselves to strawberry rhubarb turnovers*, fresh apple juice, chocolate/cheesecake muffins, cinnamon rolls, and cheddar/basil scones. Sooo...tasty.

Stuffed with pastry, we then toured the state capitol building, and were shocked by the bad mojo that Wisconsin seems to have with building capitol buildings. There have been three different ones, the first two having burned to the ground**. Apparently, God was angry with Wisconsin for some unknown reason. Finally, in the third one managed not to self-destruct. My theory (revealed here for the first time) is that God's wrath had been appeased through the use of Minnesota limestone for the bulk of the walls in the new building. Obviously, since Minnesota is almost heaven, the use of building materials of that state has been enough to thwart the bad mojo. The building itself is gorgeous, in fact Wisconsin is still re-doing it, having just finished a complete restoration of the supreme court***.

After warming up inside the capitol, we walked through the shopping district along State Street and had a very tasty lunch at the Great Dane restaurant. By then we had to head back out to the hotel to change clothes and prepare for Blogfest. We met at a nepalese restaurant – myself, the GF, Spice, J.Bro, M.Bro, and the Geometrator. We had a nice dinner, entertained by a “belly dancer” who managed to get one table in the corner to slip dollar bills into her skirt and basically spent the rest of the evening over there trolling for more. Honestly, we felt that was too close to tipping a stripper to try it ourselves, so we left for an evening of indoor mini golf, which is where we snapped the obligatory foot picture:

Clockwise from the top are M.Bro, Spice, the GF, me, J.Bro, and the Geometrator. Oddly enough, I remembered the colors of the balls each of us were playing, but not the exact order in which we formed the circle. Lucky for me that we kept the balls in the picture.

The game itself was a good one, where we got to play over, around, and through various Madison landmarks. My front nine debacle was quickly balanced out by a back nine that would have made Tiger Woods proud. Still, it wasn't enough to catch the Jack Nicklaus-like stylings of J.Bro, who is obviously either on steroids, or who derives superhuman powers from exotic denim.

After the game, the staff gratefully took back their putters, shut off the lights, and kicked us out of the building – just in time to sweep off the snow and make our way back through the driving snow. Of course the next morning the snow was gone and honestly, we weren't quite sure whether it actually happened at all. But as we walked around the University campus on a the beautiful day when we were supposed to leave, we were struck by how pretty the campus was and how much fun we had while we were there.

So we celebrated with lunch at the Olive Garden. I think I'm *still* full.

* Made, we think, by skilled Amish craftsmen
** They did not, however, sink into the swamp.
*** Complete with plush, harvest gold carpeting!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

It's still better than Great Clips

Blogger is being a total doo-doo head this morning, and refuses to let me publish anything involving pictures again. So I’ve been foiled in my attempt to post the Blogfest ’06 post due to the presence of the foot picture.

Instead, I’ll have to rant about how much suffering I’m going through at the moment. This morning, groggy with sleepiness* I stumbled into the bathroom to give myself a trim before jumping into the shower. I’ve been cutting my own hair for a little over two years now, so I’m pretty good at it**. But the problem with trimming right out of bed is that the hair lies flatter than it does regularly – particularly if it’s been a week or so and my hair has some length to it***. So I often have to do a little touchup after getting out of the shower to get the one or two spots that weren’t trimmed enough pre-shower.

So, this morning after showering, I examined myself in the mirror – searching for where I needed some work. After identifying the targeted areas, I moved in with the clipper only to find I had given myself a complete reverse Mohawk. In my haste, I had forgotten to check the setting of the guard on the clipper and had inadvertently left it at “1”. Of course, once one trims down that far, the only thing one can do is do the entire head that way. After doing so, I threw on clothes and headed out the door.

Of course, the reason why I always do this prior to getting in the shower is because hair is really, really, itchy. And despite my best efforts to rinse off the hair from the second time in the sink, I failed to get it all and am now trying to make it through the day with the ever-present feeling like my back and shoulders are being attacked by thousands upon thousands of fire ants. It sucks.

The worst part? This isn’t the first time this has happened. One would think I would learn.

* As opposed to groggy with power…
** Plus, the GF got me a hand mirror I can use to see the back of my head – thus preventing recurrences of the “striped-noggin” so prevalent year-end 2005
*** Which in my case means it’s visible

Monday, October 23, 2006

Quickie - this is why I could never be a fighter pilot

Lots of fun from the weekend "Blog-fest '06" to come but not until I can get pictures posted right*.

In the interim - I present one of the most addicting games ever**. I've played quite a bit lately and have yet to last longer than 18.5 seconds.

* Damn you Comcast!!!!!
** Followed closely by that Line Racer game that TOWWAS found. But I keep killing the sledder on that one - or at least putting him into a state of perpetual freefall.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Quickie - Is it just me...

...or do all these cats have an expression on their faces that lies somewhere in the grey middle area between mild distain and "I'm going to kill you *so* hard for doing this to me..."?

None of the cats we had growing up would have put up with this for more than a minute. I would have been smited*...yes, indeedy...

(Thanks for the link KC!)

* Smote? Smitten? Why can't I conjugate verbs this afternoon?

Without the world's biggest twineball, it's not a legit vote anyway

Some silly company has decided that the what the world needs now is a “new” set of 7 Wonders of the World, due to almost all of the original 7 Ancient Wonders having disappeared due to earthquakes or poor fire safety*. For those of you who never played Civilization, the original seven wonders were:
  • The Great Pyramid at Giza

  • The Colossus at Rhodes

  • The Mausolleum at Helicarnassus

  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia

  • The Lighthouse at Alexandria

  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

But now this 7wonders.com website company is “allowing” people to vote on which still-standing edifices are good enough to be considered wonders for contemporary society. Never minding the fact that this has already been done several times by other groups. Of course, you can vote the first time for free, but if you really want to support your favorite candidate, you have to buy extra votes**.

Needless to say I find this whole thing to be schlock. I mean, where does it end? Hey, I know – all the original 12 disciples are dead, right? Let’s all vote for new ones! I’ll run the vote. Since it’s pretty much a popularity contest, I’d anticipate that the nominees would include:

  • The Pope (seeing as how Peter was considered the first pope, it’s sort of a legacy thing)

  • Any or all of the Britney Spears/Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan scandal-triumvirate

  • Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart (they seem to get internet votes for everything)

  • Pat Robertson (the evangelicals would sweep him into candidacy)

  • Elmo (either regular or the T.M.X. version – both wildly popular with the kids)

  • Chuck Norris

  • Gary Brolsma (the Numa Numa dance guy)

  • P-Diddy

  • Xenu (a desperately misguided attempt by scientologists to give their galactic overload crossover appeal)

You may laugh now, but once that’s done the next web-vote will no doubt be for new versions of the 12 days of Christmas*** and the Seven Sisters****.

* “Remember kids, only you can prevent wonder fires!”
** Sort of like lobbying a congressman. See, kids, it’s educational too!
*** “Fiiiive, iPod Nanos!”
**** Look out Vassar, here comes University of Phoenix!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quickie - The time has come for every kid to be legally obligated to fall down

As a child of the '80s, I did the following:
  • Swung (and fell) from monkey bars suspended above pits of gravel which may or may not also contain pieces of broken glass
  • Played touch football every day from 3rd grade through 6th grade
  • Had my thighs scorched by the playgrounds metal slide on warm afternoons in late May
  • Skinned innumerable knees on the asphalt-covered basketball/four-square court
  • Hit my head countless times on low-slung bars
  • Fell out of at least one tree surrounding the playground
  • Cut my hand on the poorly-sanded metal poles stuck into the ground as "entertainment"

And yet, somehow I managed to survive my elementary school years to become an adult. Now, thanks to the lawyers and stupid parents, kids in one school in Massachusets can't even play tag during recess. It's only a metter of time before "All right kids, it's time for recess! Everybody walk outside and sit down on the ground quietly...Billy! Get off the grass - don't touch the nature!"

No wonder the North Koreans aren't afraid of us - their kids are all working in textile mills, surrounded by deadly machinery while ours can't even play tag. They must all think we're a nation of milquetoasts...

Mommy? Can I wear my hootchie mama outfit today?

Hey! Guess what is the number one search result on Google when you search for “argonautical”! It’s me!

Not that I really think the masses will now come in droves, allowing me to quit my day job for a life of pay-per-click ad revenue luxury. But I think I’ve cracked the secret to getting to #1 on Google – just try to be #1 for things that nobody would consciously search for! Now I’ll just have to write a book about it, then I’ll sell it via late-night infomercials…step #3 = Profit!

In other news today, a woman in Florida is hysterical that her seven-year old’s school picture has allegedly been Photoshopped to make the girl look like she has cleavage. Of course, nobody questions why said mother sent her little girl to school on picture day wearing a denim jacket with nothing on underneath*. Seriously, why do all the weirdos end up living in Florida? Are they perhaps being overly influenced by all the crazy old people retiring there and feel they need to emulate that behavior in order to be accepted?

* I mean, is it just me, or does she not look like she’s not wearing anything but the jacket? Looks like the next generation of Congressional pages is rarin’ to go seduce senators!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It stands for "Department of Mental Viciousness"

The nice thing about living in Illinois is that for the most part I don’t have to deal with the DMV very often. It’s possible to renew your license plate tags via mail, and the emissions testing locations are located throughout the city, and have nothing to do with the Secretary Of State facilities. But, once every four years, you have to go in to renew your driver’s license. I’d been dreading this for months, and took it upon myself to go in over my lunch hour today to get it taken care of. The last time I’d needed to go into my local DMV it was a harmless 15 minute trip to renew my tags*, so I figured it’d take about the same about of time this time.

Not so much. As I sat there in the waiting area, I developed an appreciation for how much the DMV is like my old social studies classes. Back in high school, almost all my classes were broken up according to the abilities of the students. So there were honors classes, regular classes, and then the remedial stuff**. But the one class every year that was the great equalizer was social studies. No matter how hard one tried to get away from the thuggish rednecks, one was always confronted with them in social. In a way, maybe that was the intent of the whole thing – to remind the honors kids that the rednecks were people too. But what ended up happening was that the rednecks slowed down the class and basically passed via copying answers of the smart kids during exams.

After graduation, I didn’t really experience anything similar to the great “universal experience” of social studies until today. Sitting there, the first thing I noticed was that the “now serving” numbering system they use is designed intentionally to make sure nobody has any idea how long it will be until their number is called. Unlike the deli, where they just use numbers 01-99 and then repeat, at the DMV they use bizarre combinations of letters and numbers (e.g. A047 was my number). Since the letters change seemingly at random, I had no idea how long it was going to be even when A046 was called***. This system also had the effect of separating the smart people from the remedial people. Most folks were able to figure out what they needed, but there were a few to whom not only was the numbering system confusing, but every step of the entire process was a puzzlement. Granted, most of them were pretty elderly. I couldn’t help but think “If you can’t figure out how to use the eye test machine when there is someone there to instruct you, should you really be operating a vehicle?” and immediately promised to turn in my license the day I couldn’t renew it in 20 minutes.

The process after that was pretty quick and painless. But it still took freaking forever. The worst part of it is that the picture guy took pretty much the worst picture of a human being ever taken by man, beast, or rock. Instead of a relatively normal looking fellow, my driver’s license picture now resembles one of those pasty, lumpy, sweaty men who live in their mother’s basement. And being a Minnesotan (i.e. taught not to complain about the crap life gives you) I didn’t request a re-shoot. Besides I don’t want to be “that guy” all up in arms about how my driver’s license picture doesn’t look like it came from Glamour Shots.

Now I’ll just have a whole new reason to look forward to 2011. Or if I can’t hold out that long, I’ll just have to move again.

* When the mailed renewal form mysteriously never made it to my house
** Which for me included anything to do with welding or car repair – but in retrospect I kind of wish I’d taken some of those courses back then, just so I could say I know how to replace stuff. But I suppose OAM wasn’t really looking to boost its share of freshmen with experience replacing the serpentine belt of a ’71 Dodge Dart…
*** Mercifully, not long at all. Of course it took an hour to get from A041 to A042.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Note to self...don't ever fly in a dress...

This weekend was spent in far northeast Iowa, watching one of my cousins get married. She’s a peach of a gal, and I happen to like her now-husband quite a bit. I’ll probably be seeing more of them now that I just learned they have bought a house in the suburb where I work – about 5 minutes away actually. I’m stoked because now I’ll have someone nearby to do lunch with.

The wedding itself went off pretty much without a hitch. Half the fun was the drive out there, through the Wisconsin countryside. I passed a big wind farm and saw plenty of guys in trucks coming back from their deer stands with their prized dead bodies strapped to the back. The bride and groom are now supposedly winging their way to their honeymoon. I say supposedly because they were going to Hawaii, and I don’t know how the earthquake last night has hampered travel to the islands.

No matter how late she gets there however, her honeymoon won’t be nearly as bad as that of Andrea Medaglia though. She got married and enjoyed her honeymoon, only to not only have her flight out cancelled, but to have an AP photographer take a picture of her sitting on a curb with her husband Tony. Sounds innocuous enough, but she was wearing a dress for the flight home and the photographer was at, shall we say an “unfortunate” angle for poor Andrea:



Said photograph is now the “most viewed” picture on Yahoo.

So now not only is her flight cancelled but the AP just posted an upskirt picture of her that has been viewed by tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people – including (probably) her mother-in-law. What a way to start off, huh?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Even the weatherpixie knows!

IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!

Woo-hoo!!!!

I *lurve* the first snow of the year. I ran out to Target over lunch to see if they had any sleds on sale yet but the bastards were still tripping over their stupid halloween candy. Seriously, it looked like Willy Wonka had sent a small suitcase bomb of candy and detonated it inside...fortunately, the candy shrapnel only covered a quarter of the store, and it didn't damage the walls in that corner, which were obviously shielded from damage by their friggin Christmas decorations. Honestly, who buys a wireframe light-up baby deer in the middle of October!?

Anyway, apparently sleds aren't in season yet. Probably for the best, by the time I got back to work the snow had ceased and there wasn't any accumulation yet.

Mish-mash of topics, all rolled into one!

  • Every now and again, the world pops up to remind us that in the end, we have no control over the direction that it wants to go. For example, here I was buzzing along in my life when suddenly I’m confronted with the news that Eddie Murphy is marrying Scary Spice. Now I’m honestly a little freaked out by what is going to happen next in this strange “bizarro world” that I seem to have fallen into; will Terrell Owens marry Rachel Ray next week?

  • Say you are the Police Chief in small town America, and you decide one day to experiment with a life of crime. Do you start small, just to see if it’s a good fit? Or do you go on a massive crime spree, making off with tens of dollars of merchandise that you can use to…well…not to all that much with really? Honestly, if I were a criminal, I’d be buying a bus ticket to Lamar, SC post-haste because apparently their police force is comprised of idiots.

  • Given how candles burn in zero gravity, don’t you think birthday cakes will look a little creepy on deep space voyages? Not to mention that the cakes would be perfectly spherical to begin with, since they'd be baking in zero-g. Come to think of it birthday cakes would probably look like old fashioned floating landmines once you put the candles on the outside. How would you even cut them? Each slice would probably have a very high cake-to-frosting ratio since there would be no “top” to frost but only an “outside”. It would look like a little cake pyramid with a frosted bottom. Suddenly space travel is looking a whole lot less appealing. Hmmm….cake or space?…cake?…or space?…

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The founding fathers never thought we'd become this stupid, obviously

I know, when the city councilman in Charleston spoke up promoting the idea of forced sterilization for bad parents, we all recoiled in horror, saying “What ever could someone do that would justify such an action?” Then you read about incidents like this and wonder why it isn’t in the Constitution. Or at least the Bill of Rights.

Come to think of it, perhaps it is time for an alternative to the Bill of Rights. Let’s face it, the Bill of Rights just lists out the rights that all Americans have – making them public knowledge and putting them in writing to lend legal weight. But since our fellow citizens seem so darn determined to embrace idiocy in all it’s most base forms, I propose we add a second section where we list out all the rights Society has to put the Average John Q. Public back in line. I would call it the Bill of “Yeah, Right’s” – as in “Oh, you think you can get away with using your baby as a bludgeoning weapon because you say it was a ‘mistake’? Yeah, right!”

Here are my Suggested Articles for inclusion.

  1. The people shall have the right to discipline unruly children if they are causing a scene in a public place – provided that at least three parties agree it is needed.

  2. The people shall have the right to hang up other people’s cell phones if the talker is being obnoxious

  3. The people shall have the right to veto new television shows* with their cable or satellite provider, so that the provider would not be allowed to broadcast it into the person’s home. That time could then be filled with re-runs of MacGuyver, Arrested Development, and The Man Show**.

  4. The aforementioned right to decide when certain individuals have done enough damage to society via their reproductive organs

  5. The right of society to throw out lawsuits brought by idiots before they reach the courtroom and cost society any money. We could vote on them over the internet each week.

Any other suggestions? Strangely enough, the more I think about this, the more I like the idea…

* My first veto would go to the atrocity that is “The War At Home”
** The original with Jimmy and Adam, I’d use my second veto on any episodes with Joe Rogan and that other guy.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I'm a manly man!

Even though I sell tools for a living, I don't consider myself do be much of a handy person. Sure, I know how to use a soldering iron, but I don't really know how to use them for some greater electrical purpose. I can paint and tighten screws, but I'm not about to rip out a wall, re-wire my living room, or replace my own toilet.

So this afternoon, when the condo association had a contractor over to do some work on the garage door, I took advantage of this to get an expert to look over some small stuff around my place that I've been needing to get done for months. One of which was a little power outlet on the exterior of my unit, out on the deck. It hadn't been working for a while, at least a month and possibly for years.

Needless to say, I had already tried everything I know to fix it, including pushing the GFCI reset button, staring at the circuit breaker for three minutes, and offering sacrifices of cookies and Hagen Daaz to the electrical gods on a small altar in the backyard. Of course, it took the professional about 10 minutes to repair it, going through a light switch in my living room. Whomever designed the wiring for an external outlet to go through a light switch indoors obviously had mental issues. Now I wonder if the wiring for my whole unit goes through that outlet. I had no idea it was so important - I'll have to protect it with my life.

The best part about it though was the look I got from the contractor when I cracked open my toolbox to reveal that not only did I own a standard screwdriver* but I also posess needle-nose pliers and more of all - a wire stripper. When I pulled that out of the tool box, there was a faint aroma wafting through the room - a smell that I can only classify as...respect.

And it felt GOOD!

* And phillips, and torx, and hex keys...

Monday, October 09, 2006

Quickie - Stewardess, more barf bags please!

All right, I admit - this is way worse than the landing in San Diego. OMG I'd never fly again if I was on that plane...

Still, you have to respect that pilot. The guy must have a pair of titanium balls.

It'll only be cured if the pink car wins

While running errands last week, I stopped over to the candy aisle to refill my candy stocks. Since Target already has Christmas decorations up, that means that Halloween must be just around the corner and it's now time for the sales on Halloween candy. I picked up cheap bag of candy bars and two bags of strangely-colored M&M's. Rather than the traditional red, blue, yellow, etc - the entire bag was *pink*!

I read over the label when I got back to the office and it mentioned that these were the pink M&M's that were created specifically for October, which happens to be "breast cancer awareness month". Now, I'm as big a fan of breasts as any guy - and I agree that breast cancer is a bad thing. But why do we still need an entire month dedicated to the "awareness" of breast cancer? Is there anyone in the US who seriously isn't aware of breast cancer anymore? Don't we all know who Susan G. Komen is these days? Moreover, I am somewhat skeptical that people are eating the M&M's only after pausing for a moment to reflect on their awareness of breast cancer.

One grows more skeptical when you see the sort of products that are being colored pink and sold as "breast cancer awareness" items - things like ribbons, overly-expensive jewelry, pedometers, and (of course) hair straighteners. One begins to wonder how long it will be until there's a breast cancer awareness NASCAR racecar...oh wait, there is one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Secret GOP strategeries REVEALED!

As much as I try to distance myself from the congressional gossip machine, it’s been impossible not to watch the scrambling over Mark Foley without one’s jaw dropping. The rate at which Foley, and now the GOP in general are throwing out excuse after explanation is stunning. Let’s review the week’s events thus far:

Monday – Foley resigns his position in Congress and checks himself into an alcohol treatment facility. Obviously, he was only messaging pages when suffering the effects of “demon rum”. And hey, society never blames the person when they’re drunk, right?*

Tuesday – Foley’s attorney** steps up and announces that Foley was molested by a clergyman when he was a teenager. See? Not only is he quite ill, but he’s also a victim…just like you, America. And you aren’t a bad person, are you?

Wednesday – Foley declares that he is a homosexual – again through his attorney. Heterosexuals everywhere breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that only gay men are attracted to young, teenage boys.*** Meanwhile, House Speaker Dennis Hastert fights back against calls for his resignation, instead pinning the blame on Democrats**** and ABC News. Fox News’ Sean Hannity pins the blame for the whole thing on Bill Clinton.

So now what? Which direction will the GOP take us on this bull run through the Foley & Company china shop? I offer the following suggestions, just in time to get the GOP through the weekend until another two days of football make America forget all about politics.

Thursday – Bill O’Reilly digs deep into his investigative pool of “unnamed sources” to pin the blame on the internet and MySpace in particular, saying that use of “online social sites” has transformed America’s youth from a homogeneous, Boy/Girl Scouting, lemonade selling, football playing, freedom defending mass into a mumble jumble of sexually assertive miscreants, with their different religions, ill-fitting fashion and strange audio devices that play a constant stream of subliminal messages only they can hear. “If kids today dress like prostitutes they shouldn’t feign surprise when they are approached by a member of Congress! What do they expect? MySpace is turning kids into sexual predators that prey on congressmen, not the other way around!” Of course, the overall effectiveness of this strategy is somewhat limited by his posting this clip of his show on his MySpace page***** where it will be tagged as “Kewl!” by “Bill’sb*tch17” in Saginaw, MI.

Friday – President Bush, continuing his multi-month “Fear to the Masses” national stump-speech tour, brings the packed Boise Kiwanis Club “Potato Room” to its feet with a stirring address that pins the blame for Foley’s actions squarely where it belongs – Al Qaeda. “Only by bringing the insurgents to their knees will America finally be free of the looming danger posed by predators! We can’t afford to let the democrats ‘cut & run’, only full-scale carpet bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, the Palestinian settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, George Soros, and the headquarters of Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org will result in victory over the evildoers! That, and I want a new hat – like the one Capt’n Crunch wears – that’ll put the fear of god into America’s enemies.”

Yep. I’m proud to be an American.

* Unless you are a stripper working a party thrown by the Duke lacrosse team, of course. Then it’s all your fault.
** Obviously, because Foley himself is busy in the rehab program, trying to cure his problem with alcohol. He’s an alcoholic, remember?
*** Well, gay men and hot young female teachers. Oh, and priests. Did we mention that Foley was molested by his priest while in rehab for his alcohol addiction?
**** Like that darn democrat Mark Foley, who is the cause of this whole thing anyway. Why isn’t anyone railing for Nancy Polosi to quit!?
***** Yes, I know it’s not actually his, but it’s funnier that way.

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