Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ahhhh.....

Greetings from Maui! I tell you, if any of you out there get the opportunity to come here, not only should you say yes, but you should quit your job so that you have enough time to truly appreciate it.

The first day we arrived the weather was a little rainy, but since then it's been *gorgeous*. Pretty much sunny and mid-80s every day, but unlike back in the midwest where heat like that is typically accompanied by awful humidity. But here it still seems really nice even when it's warm! Plus the air smells like candy!*

Sunday we drive around getting our bearings. We went to the ocean center (a small aquarium), drove up the Iao Valley (steep cliffs and lots of greenery) and had great seafood for lunch* down along the harbor.

Monday we woke up at 2:30 to head up to the top of Haleakala (the tallest mountain on Maui) to watch the sunrise. It was the most beautiful sunrise I've ever seen, but the winds were crazy - like 45 miles per hour. So we watched the sun rise and then headed back down to about 6500 feet** and then mounted bikes we had rented from the tour company which we then rode back down all the way - about 20-30 miles all told and since it was all downhill it was like we were riding gravity-powered motorcycles! Totally sweet. About halfway down we stopped for brunch at this great little restaurant called the Kula Lodge that had a great view. I had a great breakfast and also about half of the GF's bananas foster pancakes with macademia nuts. Mmm....

Today we woke up and went down to the beach to practice snorkeling before we head out on the main snorkeling trip on Friday. We were only there for about 20 minutes (with plenty of sunscreen on) and then a big cloud swept in to provide some extra protection. It was kind of like mother nature was worried we'd get sunburned even with the SPF 50 and sent the cloud in to take the bullet for us.

Tonight is the luau! Mmmm...pig-thats-been-roasted-all-day...

* Seriously. Candy.
** The peak is around 10,000 ft

Saturday, November 22, 2008

THIS MY JAM!

Because I forgot to post this before...here's something to watch while the GF and I wing our way to Maui!

It's the GF's second ad she made for the Current. This one didn't get on air, but honestly I thought it had better non-sequiteur one liners than her first one for the Prius.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Update on the eye

For those of you playing along at home, I'm taking a quick break from packing for Maui and doing laundry to relate the story of my followup appointment with the retinologist on Wednesday. At the first appointment she had given a bunch of different treatment options. We started with steroids for 10 days and when I went back in the spot was still there. When the doctor looked at it and ran some tests though she said that the inflammation had decreased, and she said she's put me on another round of steroids because she said that going off them cold turkey might result in a "bounceback" resumption of the swelling. Then, she gave me the prescription and, on her way out of the office, she said "You'll probably always have a spot there. See you in a couple weeks!" and LEFT!

Needless to say, I was a little stunned. I mean, sure, I was clearly the last patient of the day. But that seemed a little brusque. And she was *gone* - I didn't see her at all on my way out. Needless to say, when I go back in for my followup, there will be a reckoning...

Warning - don't read over a plate of noodles

A woman in Arizona was recently suffering from numbness in her arm and blurred vision went into her doctor for a diagnosis. After some tests, a CAT scan, and eventually an MRI, they discovered a tumor in her brain. Of course, surgery was scheduled. But when the doctors arrived at the site of the tumor, they found – not a tumor – but a worm.

The full story is here, but the most interesting part of it is when the journalist is trying to explain where the worm came from:
No one knows exactly where she picked up the worm –- doctors said worms can come from eating undercooked pork or spread by people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to the report.
And then at the end of the story, they are trying to give it a feel-good ending, by announcing that the woman has recovered and is leading a normal life:
Alvarez, who is now healthy and has resumed normal activities such a playing ball with family in her backyard, said she hopes people learn this lesson from her story.

“Wash your hands, wash your hands,” she added.
Obviously, whoever wrote this story hates this woman. Why else would they bother to add the last quote about “wash your hands” so soon after explaining that people get worms either from eating pork or not washing their hands after peeing? I mean, by saying so, didn’t she just tell the world that she doesn’t wash her hands and that’s how she got the worm? I mean, it’s not like she said “Cook your pork thoroughly!”.

Just goes to show – just because a journalist wants to interview you it doesn’t mean they LIKE you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Double Entendre anyone?

Umm...is it just me, or is this the most brilliantly-named "as seen on tv" product *ever*?



I mean, really? Shoulder straps are *that* uncomfortable? Really?

Why do I get this feeling that this whole thing is just a joke dreamed up by some millionaire who just wanted to buy ad space for his made-up product with the somewhat pervy name...anyone know what Bill Gates is doing these days now that he's not making commercials with Seinfeld anymore?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Also note: no black people?


Am I the only one who gets a little annoyed at these ads? I mean, so there's no difference between a Bounty Hunger and a Criminal Investigator - they both just wear fedoras? Redheads are only suited for being a psychologist or a therapist? Where's the bald guy? What am *I* supposed to do for a living? Is there no place for me?

Let me tell you I have friends who are CI's and he is *SOOO* not the...well, all right he is *totally* the type to wear a fedora. Maybe these ads *are* fact based...creepy...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quickie - Love is all about communication

Earlier today through the magic of the internet I was listening to 89.3 The Current out of Minneapolis at work when they decided to play “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees. Being a hopeless romantic, I decide to call the GF and tell her about it because she lurves the Monkees. She wasn’t at her desk so I just left her a voice mail of the song by putting the headphone up to the mic so her voice mail would record the song. I know, awwwww….

Of course when I talked with her later today I asked her about it and she said “Oh, that was you? I thought it was just some weirdo stalking me at work.”

Not the response I had expected, exactly.

Future Generations of Bears will Praise Me

Those of you paying very close attention* may have noticed that my position in the Cubs queue has changed! That's right b*tches, I'm now only 60 people away from crackin the top 30,000! Woo-hoo!

Of course, this means that only 65 new people got tix this year. Doing the math, that means if we keep up this rate I'll get my season tickets in...um...about 462 years.

Congratulations great, great, great, grandkids! Now where's the burnt offerings of thanks** and testimonies to my greatness!?!?

* Probably *too* much attention, frankly
** Pastries, please. No charred meat, we all know the trouble that got Abel into.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stress and travel

All right, time for an update.

After wrapping up a particularly intense travel month for work (October) I woke up a few weeks ago with a small, odd distortion in my left eye. I didn't pay it much mind for a few days until I saw a work report that was supposed to have text in a box had a warped corner in the lower right instead of a right angle. Being a big fan of right angles in boxes, I took this as a sign that something wasn't right and went into my eye doctor. Having lived near the Mississippi and Ohio River valley most of my life, with numerous visits to both, I am among the 62% of people in that area who have a condition called POHS - basically a fungal infection of the retina. Most of the time it doesn't effect vision, but on occasion issues will pop up.

So I went in and spend the next 2 hours having my eyes dilated* and being put through a barrage of tests that in retrospect must be illegal under some convention. Picture bring exposed to flash photography from 1 inch away for 15 minutes straight. Yeah, kinda sucks. Then the eye doctor showed me the test results and told me something was definitely not right so she referred me to a retinal specialist in the next suburb, went to get a card, and came back into the room *with* the retinal specialist she was referring me to!**.

The specialist looked at my eye and agreed that more tests were needed. So I followed her over to her office where they used the special dye to reveal bloodflow in the retina and make sure there weren't any wayward blood vessels growing where they shouldn't. There weren't, but there was some odd inflammation in the area. So after 4 hours of tests (fully dialated the entire time) I was done and was sent off to the Walgreens to pick up an order for steroids to reduce the swelling. It's a first attempt, and the doctor is optimistic because we caught it so early and there are a lot of options for treatment at this point beyond the steroids. As it is it hasn't been so bad. My neck hasn't swelled up like Barry Bonds' at *all*!

I've got a followup appointment later this week where we'll see what progress has been made. Honestly it doesn't seem like much at this point, but we'll see. I'll keep ya'll updated.

------------RADICAL TOPIC CHANGE ALERT--------------

Regardless of what happens with the eye I'm leaving this weekend for a week with the GF in MAUI! We have good friends who are doing the "destination wedding" and we decided to go and make a vacation out of it. And frankly, it's gone swimmingly! Apparently, Hawaii is *dying* for tourists to come because nobody is going there at the moment, so you can get great deals on airfare and hotels and it's not crowded! So TOWWAS, maybe you need to go to Hawaii to research for the knitting book?

Anyway, we've got all sorts of adventures planned for while we're gone. I'll post pictures while we're there so ya'll can keep up! WOOOO, MAUI WOWIE!

* MULTIPLE times.
** I KNOW! What are the odds the specialist was just stopping by to followup on a different referral case?

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY Halloween! AAOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

How awesome is this? Some guy laid down 64 tracks of him making random mouth sounds and it magically turns into a near-perfect rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller! And just in time for Halloween! What are the odds!?!?



Laugh if you want, but deep inside you know it's awesome and are jealous you didn't think of it first. Especially TOWWAS, who probably has the mad vocal skillz to pull it off better than this guy does.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Sickness and Prairie Dawn the Minx

Once again, I have found myself cursed with a cold. And once again, I have the GF to blame for it. It’s really not fair – the same cold she had for approximately 4 hours has struck me down for the better part of a week. So much for the myth about how living in the upper Midwest makes you have a hardier immune system.

I’m desperately trying to sleep as much as possible before this weekend because it’s a big weekend for the GF in general. Not only is it her college reunion, but it’s also the regional Emmy awards this weekend and she’s been nominated for a show she produced last spring. And unlike the first time she won, this time she’s the actual producer – so if she wins she actually gets to bring home a statue. Or, to put it more clearly, she’ll get to carry an Emmy statue to her reunion party afterwards. I keep telling her to put it on a big chain and wear it to the reunion if she wins, but she thinks that would be high on the douchebag scale, and I can’t really disagree.

Sunday should hopefully be pretty quiet though, which I’ll need because reunion parties generally keep me up way past my bedtime and I want to be all better before I start traveling for work again next week (off to SoCal and Minnesota).

In other news, I was reading an article about internet filtering in Australia, where apparently the government is setting up some sort of filter for the entire internet across the whole country. The article itself reads:

Australians may not be able to opt out of the government's Internet filtering initiative like they were originally led to believe. Details have begun to come out about Australia's Cyber-Safety Plan, which aims to block "illegal" content from being accessed within the country, as well as pornographic material inappropriate for children. Right now, the system is in the testing stages, but network engineers are now saying that there's no way to opt out entirely from content filtering.


Now, maybe I’m old-fashioned, but that read a little funny to me. I mean, doesn’t it seem as though *all* pornographic material would be “inappropriate for children”? Does Australia instead have a market of kid-friendly porn that they aren’t telling anyone about? Pray to god it doesn’t involve muppets, although I have always thought that Prairie Dawn was the sort to have a secret hidden past…

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ukelele + Toy Piano + Kazoo = Awesome

As you may have presumed, it's been a hectic time around these parts. Mostly work stuff but also a lot of committee meetings for the theater company.

That said, I'd be remiss if I didn't pass this along:



The internet is awesome...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

FULL SERVICE!!!!

Earlier this summer, my mom retired. So her and my stepdad sold the house and began their life as wandering nomads in their RV. Because of this, I assumed custody of their cat, who will now become the latest character in the blog: Grrrcat. TOWWAS has already met him, and he’s pretty much the nicest cat you will ever meet. He is also very concerned for the well-being of all his pet humans, as TOWWAS will testify*.

Anyway, while researching potential local vets last night I cam across one that offered a virtual tour of their facility. Amidst of all the images of their surgical suite, waiting area, etc, I came across a picture of their “fully equipped” lab facility. And I noticed it was even more fully equipped than they described:



I’m not sure exactly what a sinkcat is for, but it must be pretty important for them to feature it so prominently in the tour, right?

* Grrrcat frequently attempted to reach under the door to the guest room while she was sleeping there, in a desperate attempt to free her from the room where she was so clearly trapped behind the door that was closed by mistake.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

And last week, my place was so clean...

Earlier this week I finally unloaded some of my older Ikea furniture on a friend from work who’s basically just starting to furnish her own grown-up place. She took away my ikea chair* and a huge desk that used to sit in my second bedroom before I realized that it was way too big to fit in the guest room/office. The chair was pretty easy to get out but the desk itself took a fair amount of disassembly and the use of my friend’s boyfriend for help getting the pieces down stairs.

The best thing about it is that I’ve suddenly got all this room in my living room. The worst thing about it is that suddenly I’ve got a lot of crap sitting around that used to be sitting on the desk. The thing about big desks is that while they are very useful, they also inevitably become the “place where one throws crap”. It’s so easy to just stack stuff there “for a minute or two” only to find that a year later the desk is covered with stuff that you had completely forgotten you had. And now that the desk is gone I’ve got piles of stuff that I need to figure out what to do with.

Ironically, my next step will probably be to go to Ikea to buy some new bedside tables (because I was using the file drawer unit as one and storing stuff in it. Oh well…Ikea in, Ikea out.

* You know, one of those “Pooang” chairs that everyone in our generation is morally obligated to own at some point?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It'll either kill us or fill us with da flava...

I know I'm a complete nerd because I actually find this tune kind of catchy:



I keep forgetting that the LHC is about to come on line. But hey, if it inspires the ladies of science to bring forth the funk like this, maybe it'll be okay if it ends up destroying the world. Woo!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fight back sweat!

One of the recent trips for work was a visit to the International Woodworking Fair in Atlanta last week. At the show, I saw a lot of machinery that only serious lumber-using people (e.g. Ikea) would ever use but I also saw a super-high-end sports car that was made almost entirely of wood - The Splinter:



All right, you say, that's interesting but why should I care?

The funniest thing about the car was that the seats are made of wicker.



Think about what a cool idea this would be in a real car. You know all those times you come back to your car after work on a hot day only to get inside and realize hot how the seats are? By the time you get halfway home the small of your back is already a river of sweat and you're completely undignified-looking for the big gala you have to attend at Wayne Manor.

All that would be solved if all cars just had seats with wicker backs. I wonder if I could get my seats in my car swapped out with wicker. Or at least Aeron chairs...

Monday, August 25, 2008

This one's for the ladies, men may be mildly uncomfortable

This past weekend I discovered that a friend of mine was in town on vacation from New York, so I bopped downtown to get some lunch on Saturday and catch up over pad thai and white sangria*. After doing that for about an hour, we walked up along the magnificent mile, stopping in to various stores and what not while he played tourist.

I should say at this point that my friend works in investment banking, so he has to wear clothes that I rarely even think about (i.e. suits). But, the nice thing about him is that even though he likes the “nice” brands, when we were facing shelf upon shelf of Ferragamo shoes, he was still able to look me in the eye and honestly say that he thought $1800 was a ridiculous amount for a pair of shoes. Because it is.

The funniest sight of the day was in the Zegna store, when I happened to pass by a display of men’s underwear. Because it was Zegna, each paid was in a separate little box – no doubt to ensure that your underwear has not been sullied by other human hands. And each box showed the traditional picture of the body-image-problem-inducing male model wearing a pair of underwear, presumably the pair contained in the box.

All, that is, except this one (the box on the left, the one on the right was included for comparison to show that indeed, they didn’t *all* look like this):



Now, I’m no fashion expert, but doesn’t this seem to be sending mixed messages? It’s a box of underwear, but the model isn’t wearing any…in contrast to the one on the right where it is quite clear that man-hunk models still make the big bucks modeling boxer briefs. Am I supposed to believe that the box is empty? Are these “The Emperor’s New Underwear”? I picked up one of the boxes and there was *something* in it, but I didn’t open it**.

Maybe it just contains a tube sock…

* Which I am now even more confident doesn’t count as alcohol so much as “liquid candy”
** After all, I wouldn’t want the Zegna guards to think I was trying to sully their new man-underoos.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quickie - Idiot Alert!

I don't care how cool or "rad" you think you are, if you try to go kite surfing during a hurricane, you deserve to get blown across the street and dragged into a building.

Kite-surfing in a tropical storm
Kite-surfing in a tropical storm


I just really have no pity for this guy. Of course, this being America he will probably recover and try to sue ESPN for unduly influencing him to take overly dangerous risks via multiple showings of the X-Games.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Catching up at the airport...

This weekend was spent kicking it in Cleveland. I had to come out for work on Friday, so I figured I'd spend the weekend here. All told it was a fine weekend of hanging out with old friends and seeing the old neighborhood. But it was a better opportunity to catch up on blogging and download all the pictures from my phone that I'd intended to blog about but never got around to.

First: Does anyone know what this is?


I know the box says it's an "acid reducer", but doesn't the name sound like some sort of pasta dish that you'd get at a really authentic Italian restaurant? "Excuse me waiter, but is your omeprazole made fresh or is it frozen?" I noticed it because it is a Walgreens-generic, and typically they make up their names by replacing the first syllable of the brand name with "Wal" (e.g. "Wal-itin", "Wal-aphed", etc).

On another note: Note the excellent parking job here:



Also notice the car on the left? Yeah, this parking lot is that of the local police department. Go figure. And I did check to see whether it was an unmarked squad car and it wasn't. Maybe it was the new "stealth" batmobile...

Finally, the last picture of something interesting was Lollapalooza - FEET PICTURE!



That's my feet at the Nine Inch Nails show on Sunday. Overall it was a good time, the weather turned out pretty decent for once and I didn't die of heat stroke or get sunburned. Overall though, the GF and I agreed that we probably don't need to go to all three days again. The headline acts each night were good (Radiohead, Rage against the Machine, NIN) but most of the other acts were only okay.

The other thing was that there were a *ton* of people there. Case in point:



Also note that apparently, the crowd attracted a lot of evil Jedi disguised as hot indy chicks - see the one at the bottom of the picture trying to use her evil Jedi choke-power? Good thing the force is strong with this one...

Naturally, having a lot of people in any one location means that there will also be a lot of trash. Here's a shot of the grounds after the NIN show got out:



Yeah, I was glad that I wasn't on the cleanup crew...

Monday, August 11, 2008

First normal weekend in a while.

Am I the only one who received the email from the Obama campaign offering me the "opportunity" to be the first to know who the VP will be? Somehow, I doubt it.

But you know, I didn't sign up. I figure the 0.0000001 second delay between when the email is announced and when it's being broadcast on MSNBC ("Obama announces VP-elect! More at 11!"), Fox News ("Hussein Obama pick for VP proves Democrats are stupid! More at 10:59!") and the networks ("Is anyone still watching us?") won't really be worth it.

I also didn't watch a second of the Olympics this weekend. And I don't feel like any less of an American. I did get brunch with friends, did some much-needed weeding in the backyard of the building, and cleaned up the house a bit.

Oh, and I blogged today for the first time in weeks. It's a start.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Stuck...

The one nice thing about being stuck at an airport is that it gives me time to catch up on about a month's worth of blog-reading! Particularly when the airport itself has free wi-fi!

Still, the bad thing about it is when American sends me an automated call telling me that my flight home tonight has been canceled. Poop. I've got my travel company on it though, and they are trying to get me home through Dallas. Still, that means I've got to fly from South Carolina to Dallas and then connect. Blech.

Needless to say, much of the last month has been crazy busy. There's been a lot of travel for work (to exotic locales like Baltimore, Milwaukee, Atlanta, and next week a day in North Carolina!) coupled with lots of work on the strategic plan for the theater company. Also a 10-day trip back up to MN for a last trip home before my mom moves to Florida* coupled with some camping with the GF up in northern MN**.

Obviously, I'm looking forward to this weekend when I don't have much planned (other than a birthday party for a friend of the GF). Particularly since next weekend I'm driving back up to MN to pick up some stuff and my mom's cat before she leaves. But the weekend after I'm *totally* excited for because I get to go visit TOWWAS in DC! Woot! Foot picture! Plus, I've never been to DC before so that should be fun.

Now if only my travel agent can call to confirm I can still get home tonight...

* Yeah, Florida. I know, I feel the same way...
** Where the GF discovered that while she may not attract California Mosquitos, Minnesota Mosquitos are either more hungry or less discriminating.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Quickie - Journalism? Really?

Dear Ms Huffington,

While I may not understand how you get so many famous (and not-so-famous) people to post material on your blog, I do enjoy many of the postings that populate it. That said, was there so much nothing going on today that this somehow becomes material that is even remotely relevant to anyone outside of Katherine Heigel's bikini cleaner?

Apparently, a number of the internet's e-groundlings populating the comments on that article share my opinion. Ah, intellectual debate about Heigel's "dog-faced husband"...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Caught!

After 15 years of being on the move from address to address and state to state - the powers that be have finally caught up to me and slapped me with the wet haddock of civic responsibility. Yes, I've been summoned to Jury Duty.

For years now I've been of the impression that jury duty was something that happened to "other people" much in the same way that "other people" get hit by hurricanes, win the lottery, or watch American Idol. Sure, I can understand the logic of how people find themselves in that situation, and given how common those events are it stands to reason eventually everyone is that "other person". But dammit, Jury Duty? Why couldn't I be the "other person" who wins the lottery?

From talking to my friends, it seems that I'm one of the last people of my generation to get jury duty. Everyone seems so surprised that I've never had it before, despite my having been a registered voter since I was 18. I think it's because I moved around so often in my younger days* that I was never in one place long enough to be on their rolls long enough for hte list to finally get to me. But when I realized that my current condo is the second-longest home I've ever had in my entire life**. So I suppose it's only reasonable to expect that the man woudl hunt me down sooner or later...

Besides, Cook county is apparently so used to people deferring their service that they let you do it over the phone...to an automated call computer. Three months of freedom!

Of course, now I'll have to save at least one of the books from my latest trip to Barnes & Noble for the day of boredom to come in September. Oh well, I think Wuthering Heights will wait - it's already been waiting 160 years for me to get around to reading it, I think it can handle another couple months.

* Bouncing between Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio at various points
** One more year, in fact and I'll have lived here longer than any other house in my entire life - 6 years

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Are you still reading?

I took a couple weeks off (obviously) to recharge and accommodate a bunch of work-related schedule business. I had a trade show last Sunday (more on that later), a bunch of prep work for a presentation I'm giving on Tuesday, a car-chase moment last-Friday, and on top of everything I've managed to catch a cold which I've spent most of the weekend trying to beat. I'll try to catch you up...

Last Sunday I had a trade show which, for the most part, was not terribly notable. Relative to the other trade shows I attend, this one is more networking and talking with contacts. I won't bore you with the details, except for one. As it turned out, I ended up meeting with representatives from a company I don't typically do business with. It was two guys, one old and one in his early- to mid-40's. As we're talking about what they do, I suspect nothing out of the ordinary. Then, right when the old guy is talking, the younger guy leans over to his left side and spits a wad of tobacco juice. Maybe there was a bucket there, maybe there wasn't (I couldn't see and I sure wasn't going to look). Either way, I pretty much forgot everything else about that meeting. Granted, the company was from the deep south, but still...sheesh.

Secondly, on my way into work on Friday morning, I had just pulled out onto the main road I take out to work. As I made my way a few blocks into the trip, I noticed a blue sedan accelerating towards the rear of a pickup truck heading in the other direction. For a second it looked like it was going to hit but then it shot over into the left lane (it was a two-lane road in both directions). It turns out it was trying to get past another car that was already in the left lane - effectively speeding up in order to cut it off. Obviously, at this point I'm pretty sure this guy is crazy, and I'm also pretty sure that he's gonna get what's coming to him.

That's because even at that point, it was clear that he had accelerated too much in order to cut off the other car, and as he veered back to straighten out , the inertia of the car cause the rear end to swing out to the right - exactly as he passed me. I could see smoke billowing from the rear wheels as he fishtailed to nearly perpendicular to his path of travel. Of course, that's about the time that his rear end smashed into a parked car and shattered into a thousand pieces. Thankfully, by that time I was well past everything and completely safe. I do have a really clear recollection though of seeing the expression on the driver's face as he skidded past me - it as almost as if he was thinking "Oh crap, *this* isn't going like I planned". In a way, it was almost funny. He didn't look scared at all, more just irritated that his girlfriend was probably going to have to post bail and she was *not* going to be happy about it.

Serves him right.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Quickie - An open letter to the editors of NPR's "Morning Edition"

When you are writing a story for radio, one of the most important things to consider is the effect that pronouncing names of people being quotes on air can have when combined with regular English. Unlike television or print media, you can't rely on a captioned photo of said source to explain any confusion.

Case in point, in this morning's story on how the high price of gasoline might affect people's travel plans for the upcoming memorial day weekend, you had some quotes from the American Automobile Association's "National Travel Manager" - whose name just happened to be Michael Pena.

Overall this is a pretty innocuous name, but when Renee Montagne quotes him using the standard "[surname] says" format on radio, it creates - to put it delicately - "problems". Particularly for those of us who are men, and therefore are incapable of not hearing that phrase as "penises" if the diction is not *crystal* clear.

Thus, hopefully, Renee Montagne has learned the importance of diction even in this "go-go internet, product-placement ninja" media society.

Hee hee!

Friday, May 16, 2008

You've sold me!

This week I've actually had an opportunity to get out and run some errands, which is good because a) I haven't had time to do much of that over the last couple weeks and b) I'm traveling for a lot of June and July so I won't get to do much then either. And my milk expired.

But it's amazing how my brain shuts down to advertising messages when I'm not actualyl shopping. It's a sort of "don't talk to me" psychology that, once I turn it off, allows me to suddenly notice all kinds of amusing sales pitches while I'm running errands.

For example:



It's not just any sale - it's SUPER GLOCK sale!!! Of course, one wonders whether the sale itself is "super" ("Hey look at how much less expensive it is to kill people!") or the Glocks have been improved to make them "SUPERGLOCKS" ("Wow, *this* Glock popped a cap on that guys ass *so* much better than my old Glock!"). Note that you can't take advantage of it anymore anyway. Apparently it was only a weekend sale or something.

This next one is a store I drive by on my way to work every day, but I never actually read the sign until I was carpooling with S.Jo a few weeks back. Sure, the color choice makes it kind of difficult to actually read the second part of the store "motto" but if you click on the image you'll get the full-size picture in all its lousy-grammar greatness:



Really? *That* is how you want to get me excited to buy clothes from you - because when the mall closes for the day you're still open? "Oh crap! I need to buy some shirts but it's 3:00 am and I can't get into Macy's for another SIX HOURS! WHAT TO DO!?!?!?"

It's a good thing they've diversified into producing records.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When mommy starts acting out...

In light of the fact that Mother's Day was this weekend I had to share a picture from the local corner market in my neighborhood. It's one of Chicago's countless storefront groceries that overcharge you for basic food items, but are so much easier to walk to than getting in the car to drive to the Jewel or Dominicks.

Anyway I had to stop in there last weekend to pick up milk and other essentials when I decided to peruse the "wine aisle" that they added a month or so ago when they took out an aisle of food to focus exclusively on wine. Of course there was the standard grocery-store wine fare such as J.Lohr and Beringer, but there were also some wines that I'd never seen before, including this one:




I suppose I can understand why they'd want to put that one out on Mother's Day. I mean, sometimes Mommy needs a time out, right? And if it comes in a bottle, so much the better!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quickie - Light@endoftunnel.com?

John Edwards just endorsed Barack Obama! Yay!

Now keeping fingers crossed that this whole mess finally wraps up and we can move on...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quickie - It's not just Spice anymore

Remember when Spice was struggling with the truth that "Stuff White People Like" applied to people exactly like her?

Yeah, well with the latest post I've come to realize that it applies just as much to me. I'm *so* that guy. In every detail - I can't stand when people use the wrong form of their/they're/there and take great delight in spotting grammar errors in major publications*.

I guess this means I'm white. Quite the realization since my ethnicity is normally so hard to detect what with my milky-pale skin and my occasional upper-midwest accent...

Solidarity, Spice-Sister!

* Hell, even minor ones.

Superman vs Jesus Fish

On the way up to the GF's a while back I found myself stuck behind a car of an obviously risk-averse person:



It's a little blurry, I'll grant you. But only because I had to move fast to get a picture before he turned. But you can clearly see the Jesus fish juxstaposed with the Superman logo just to its left. When the end of the world comes, clearly, this guy wanted to make sure he would be saved by *someone* whether it was Superman or Jesus.

Just thinking about it obligated me to have the mental debate of "Who would win in a fight between them" all the way up to the GF's. But then she had made dinner so I promptly forgot about it until I was cleaning out my phone last night and the image stayed hidden away from public view until now. And truthfully now that I'm writing about it I'm having the inner debate again about which one would win in a fight...

I should go get lunch.

Walgreens hates art!

Well it looks like the GF and my timing was impeccable. The city of Berwyn tore down the Spindle the weekend before last. A sad day indeed. I blame Walgreens and their hatred of all things art. After all we saw the parking lot where it is located and there's plenty of room for both the Spindle and a Walgreens, so logically the only reason the Spindle was dismantled was because Walgreens hated it and wanted it to die.

Here's one last picture I took from the visit:

Posted by Picasa
The odd thing is according to the article they saved the top two cars in case some future artists wants to restore them and use them in building a new Spindle. But don't you think that artists would want to maintain the artistic integrity and have *all* the cars? Either that or use all new cars? Surely some bastard combination of old-Spindle + new cars would create a very incoherant aesthetic - perhaps to such a degree that Walgreens would try to tear *that* one down too.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The perils of food experimentation

When I got home from work today, I decided to make myself a light dinner because I wasn't terribly hungry and could stand to lose some "winter insulation". After all, it's spring which means the odds of me being seen in a bathing suit go up significantly - particularly if I have to go to Europe for some reason and get assaulted by the speedo gestapo for not wearing one.

After some thoughtful consideration of my cupboard inventory, I decided to make a peanut butter sandwich*. Sure, it's got some fat, but I really like peanut butter and hadn't made a peanut butter sandwich in a long time. But to jazz it up a little, I thought I'd stick it in the George Foreman for a minute or two to toast it up nice and crispy. Occasionally I'll do stuff like this to experiment with radical new approaches to classical Grrbear food favorites. Like when I tried mixing a little salsa into mac-and-cheese (tasty!) or peanut-butter-and-nutella sandwiches (not as good as you would think, and nowhere near the "candy sandwich" of my dreams).

In general, I have to say that the toasted PB sandwich was a success, except for ones small thing - the Foreman doesn't exactly heat super evenly, and the sandwich I made developed some undetectable pockets of super-hot liquified peanut butter that had a tendency to erupt out when one bit into them. The first time I hit one it took me quite by surprise, squirting its molten peanutty goodness onto my shirt across my chin. Once I finished shrieking like a little girl, I understood why the defenders of medieval fortresses used cauldrons of boiling oil to drive away attackers - that stuff stings!

Of course, it didn't stop me from finishing my sandwich. I just let it cool a little longer and ate it more warily. Yum!

* No jelly because I think jelly is weird and probably secretly supports the terrorists.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The GF is way cooler than I am...

On Sunday of this week, a new television show premiered in Chicago that the GF worked on. I'm not going to say what she did, because then people will be able to read the closing credits, find her name, and then the whole carefully-woven illusion of secrecy that I promote on this blog by just referring to her as "the GF" will be rent in twain.

Anyway, it's a really good show and I'm just too proud not to share at least a little bit. The show itself is called "IL-Informed" and it's a political satire show that focuses on the local politics of Chicago. Needless to say, if you know anything about local Chicago politics, you know that they will have more than enough material to let the show run well into the 22nd century. And it's chock full of awesomeness.

Here's a clip on housing. If you listen carefully you'll hear the GF screaming in the background...


Hassan Ali Bursts the Housing Bubble from Schadenfreude Media, LLC on Vimeo.

And a clip from a bit where Mayor Daley plays advice columnist:


Dear Mayor Daley from Schadenfreude Media, LLC on Vimeo.

And then there's a spirited debate about urban renewal featuring two of Chicago's most notable stereotypes: the urban hipster vs the "Lincoln Park Chad":


Upwater Point/CounterPoint from Schadenfreude Media, LLC on Vimeo.

Finally, how could a satire show air on public television without poking at leat a *little* fun at pledge week?


WTTW Pledge Drive from Schadenfreude Media, LLC on Vimeo.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Umm...huh?

Even though I don't trumpet it from the highest hill, I happen to be a big fan of 'net neutrality. Maybe it's because I'm from Minnesota* but I always find myself rooting against the big dominating powers regardless of whether it's in football or internet-related business models.

That said, I don't really do a whole lot about it because frankly what I do doesn't really matter. Sure, I wrote an email to my congressional delegation, but other than that I don't really have a whole lot to offer in terms of persuasion.

Tania Derveaux, on the other hand, is somewhat more creative in her approach. She has set up a website** where she states "I will make love with every virgin who defends the internet". Apparently, she is soliciting virgins to defend 'net neutrality via "a printout of a forum post or a link to a v[ideo b]log". Yeah, because those are ironclad guarantees of the effort someone's put into defending the internet.

I can't help but believe that this is all some sort of scam or "viral marketing" effort. Here's why:
  • Tania looks like she's totally hot, but she's apparently not good at math. She states that she will only have sex with virgins because she "doesn't want to have to turn people away". But doesn't she realize how many virgins are out there? Who are also on the internet?
  • The "Terms of Service" section describes how she's perfectly willing to let the virgin's friends come along and watch the act, or to videotape it. She also offers to pay for all travel to come to said virgin. No actual woman does that.
  • She's apparently from Belgium. Maybe she thinks this will limit the number of virgins who will take her up on the offer. She clearly doesn't understand how many virgins are playing World of Warcraft right now with nothing else to do but fly to Belgium.
  • The URL of her website is also a pretty big clue: http://dontstayvirgin.movielol.org
I'm betting we've got about a week before the rest of the movie trailers start hitting the web. Then prepare for the pitiful keening wail of millions of virgins all over the world bemoaning the non-refundable tickets to Belgium they just bought.

* And therefore all my sports teams have been (at best) underdogs.
** Note, the website itself is not too pervy. A few pictures of Tania, but everything's covered. Still, *I* sure wouldn't want to be seen viewing it at work.

Quickie - My blood is a precious resource

All right Lifesource. I am just guessing that I'm up for donations again because you've called me - literally* - SIX times since I got into work this morning. You know, maybe I'd actually pick up the phone if you would stop harassing me.

Or at least limit your calls to one per day.
Or even just leaving a voice mail reminder that "it's time to donate!"

As it is, you're just annoying me.

* And yes, grammar geeks, I *do* mean "literally".

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Quickie - I never knew! Thanks, random angry sign!



We saw this sign on the offramp from the Kennedy Expressway onto Damen Avenue. I have no idea what the point is but frankly I think it's hella funny.

"Honey, look! I'm an asshole! HA!"

Still, I wonder how IDOT knows so much about my assholeness...hmmm....
Posted by Picasa

BEHOLD THE SPINDLE!!!!!

This morning the GF and I got up early in order to go see "The Spindle" in Berwyn. While (apparently) many of the residents of that community consider it an eyesore, for most folks in my generation it is an iconic sculpture forever associated with cars, driving, and "gotta moosh, gotta moosh, can you do the fandango". We had to go this weekend because it's probably going to get torn down any day now to make room for a new Walgreens. Because lord knows if there's anything we don't have enough here in Chicago - it's Walgreens locations.

Here's the thing though, it's obviously been over 15 years since Wayne's World was made, and like a lot of things left outside in the elements for 15 years, the Spindle hasn't held up well. The colors have mostly faded and there's a lot of bird poop, and rust is taking it's toll. But it's still pretty cool:




The thing that struck me is how it's not really all that tall, particularly from a distance:



Apparently, the area including the parking lot of Cermak Plaza Shopping Center used to be a center of avant guard contemporary art. But that was a long time ago, and none of it had been taken care of very well. For instance, there used to be four signs explaining the spindle surrounding the piece, but of the original four, two had disappeared entirely and the other two were degraded almost to the point of unreadibility. This one was the "best":



Obviously, you can see the need to tear it down in order to put in the new Walgreens. I mean, it's not like that parking lot has any extra space to spare...



Finally, one artsy shot because dammit, some day I want my kids to see that Dad did something useful with his time on earth - documenting greater Chicagoland's kitchy landmarks before they got torn down.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Retail Adventures - Part I

Running errands after work on Friday, I stopped by Walgreens to pick up some personal effects and noticed that they've already got their decor up for Mother's Day. I guess this is what happens when easter is so early in the season. After all, what could a store base it's decor on if not an upcoming holiday? Even when it's over two months away.

I did, however, notice one thing about some of the decorations. Can you see it?



Yup, that is exactly the same little girl in both pictures. If you click it, you can see in better detail that she is missing the same tooth in both. Not to mention that she's wearing the same shirt and has the same face. Apparently, this little girl has two lesbian mommies.

I never really thought Walgreens would be that progressive, particularly in a very Mexican (and therefore presumably catholic) neighborhood. Yay, Walgreens*!

* Yes, I realize it was probably unintentional, but what if it wasn't?

Quickie - HEAD HUNGRY!

Remember back in the mid-90s when computer games like Myst came out without any obvious storyline or direction*? Well I just found a totally fun minigame called "Feed the Head" and it is exactly what it sounds like - a game where you feed a head!

And pull off its nose...among other things.

Anyway, it's super fun and doesn't take terribly long to play. Check it out!

[Edit: If you're wondering, if you haven't fed the fish, you're not done yet]

* I know Glacierman does. =)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Maybe it means both the weather and traffic are bad...

I know that the weather here in Chicago has been a little lousy lately (it's been raining most of the past week which has served only to aggravate those gullible residents who believed last weekend's 60+ degree days were the new norm). But come on Chicago Sun-Times, why do you have to be such a Debbie Downer?


Yep, that's the actual headline at the top of their webpage right now...

Monday, April 07, 2008

Not insomnia, just not sleepy

All right, I'm back and my circadian rhythm is completely messed up. I have no idea what time it is and am not tired at all. Thank goodness for the internet*!

  • This is sooo trippy! Seriously, it took me watching it intently for an entire cycle before I figured out what the pattern was and how it worked. And then I still watched it...in fact, it's still playing right now in another tab...
  • How much do you wish you could have been a part of this? Of course, it would have been way better to have it done to me while *I* was in little league it was the Reagan era and kids were taught that they were nothing special unless we were grown up and fighting communists or C.O.B.R.A. so we didn't need Jim Gray and NBC sports showing up to show us that we were cool and that we had fans and that we'd all get girlfriends someday... Nope, didn't need that at all...
* And the fact that I'll be waking up at the same time for the rest of the week to force myself to get tired on time again...grrr...

Quickie - I miss sleep

Boy, you know normally I don't mind traveling for work. But being on my third time zone in as many days is really a drag.

Needless to say I'm really glad that I'm done traveling for a few months after today.

Gotta go pack up!

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Barbies! They're WATCHIN' me!

I'm in Los Angeles for most of this week on a business trip. While that in itself isn't that bad, I am staying in a different hotel every night because I'm covering a fair amount of territory. Wednesday night, for instance, I was staying in El Segundo - across the street from the Mattel factory. Not exactly the hippest neighborhood to hang out but it was neat to see the place where all my Hot Wheels were probably made when I was a little kid. Although I tried not to think about all the in-process disembodied Barbie heads staring at me out the windows...creepy...

Yesterday after my morning meeting I had some time to kill so I went down to the beach to watch the waves. It was a gorgeous day and I pretty much had the beach all to myself because all the natives think 62 degrees is only a few degrees above freezing and stayed indoors under blankets. It was gorgeous:



Of course, even though I wasn't out there for very long, I managed to get a little sunburn on the top of my head. Although because my post-shave moisturizer that I use on my face has an SPF of 15, there's an unusual pattern on top of my head where the part that was covered bordered the part that wasn't. Oh well.

Naturally, whenever I'm staying in any hotel, I always steer clear of using the glasses in the rooms. I've seen all the news exposes about how they are never actually washed so I'm not going to be caught giving myself cancer by using an unwashed glass. So needless to say it was really reassuring when I checked in last night to find my classes covered with little paper covers*:



In case you can't read that label, it says "...this glass has been sanitized and carefully packaged for your personal use". Well...*that* sure makes me feel better! I mean, "sanitized" obviously means it as run through a dishwasher, right? And what could possibly circumvent the sanitary protection of a paper bag? Thanks, Courtyard by Marriott!

*Like tea cozies, but made of paper

Monday, March 31, 2008

Dance lessons for shy men - by Grrrbear

Over the weekend the GF and I attended the wedding of my stepbrother and his lovely fiance (now wife, obviously). It was a *fab* wedding. Really beautiful space, short and sweet ceremony, really fun and interesting people in attendance, and dancing.

The last one in particular was of note for two reasons. First, the GF *lurves* dancing. So much so that she will travel with me hundreds of miles and put up with being delayed in the airport twice* in order to participate. And for some reason she likes dancing with me too. I've never really understood this strange obsession with dancing with me...until this weekend.

You see, apparently I don't suck at dancing. Now I've always done well for myself in my various dance classes, but those were mostly ballroom and swing classes I took way back in undergrad. But at this wedding I had numerous dudes come up to me asking whether I was a) some sort of professional dancer or b) a regular in the club scene. Obviously, I am neither. But apparently I look like both so in the interest of sharing with the world I will now present:

GRRRBEAR's FOUR SIMPLE RULES FOR LOOKING LIKE YOU CAN DANCE
  1. Move your feet - This sounds simple enough, but appearing like you can dance is actually somewhat related to learning how to be a decent drummer - you have to learn how to operate all your apppendages at the same time. No matter how good your moves are, the ladies will notice if your feet are bolted to the ground like the mighty oak. And while women like oak** as a building material, they generally avoid it as a dance partner so pick up one foot and then put it down somewhere else. And then repeat with the other foot. Bonus points for doing it in time with the music, but one step at a time friend...
  2. Move your hips - The second most important part of dancing, but one that many dudes are leery about for little else than the irrational "I don't want to look like I'm gay" fear But here's the thing - the ladies on the dance floor know exactly what gay looks like and you, dude, are not it. They have been to the Manhole on multiple occasions with their girlfriends because it's where they can dance without getting hit on. Of course, that it also the reason the gays don't go there anymore either but that's a whole other post. The important thing is that if you don't move your hips when you dance, then your ass doesn't move while you dance. And your ass moving is what they want to see, remember? Nothing draws women in like a moth to a flame like man who knows how to move his ass. It doesn't have to fly all over the place like you're hip-checking an opposing defenseman into the boards, but just enough to be noticed.
  3. Never repeat the same move more than 4 times in a row - This is a more subtle point. Many dudes at a dance have one move which they repeat over and over again. Think the meathead with the pooka shell necklace who you saw doing "The Spinkler" over a nd over again at the last wedding you went to - remember how all the ladies at your table were laughing about him to themselves? It's because they know that if a dude is that uncreative on the dance floor, he's likely to be that uncreative in certain...well...you get the picture. Giving yourself a 4X limit on a particular step not only forces you to mix things up, but it also give you enough time to invent some new stuff. Go ahead and try something, even if it's just spinning around once or twice a la Michael Jackson*** - it will be duly noted and appreciated by the ladies.
  4. Finally, you have to keep in mind the shoulder rule. It's not really a "rule" though, more of a guideline. Remember the unwritten rule about how men don't raise their arms above their shoulders while they are dancing? Ever wondered why that doesn't apply to women? The answer is simple - women can dance all night with their arms above their heads because it draws attention to their boobs which is the reason they do it. But men don't have boobs, so us raising our arms above the shoulder line doesn't accomplish as much as it does for the ladies****. But it *can* be a useful weapon of surprise! Just when you get a lady's attention with your foot-movin', butt-shakin' repertoire of more than four moves, throwing in a move or two with your arms raised high accomplishes two things: it makes you appear confident***** and it lets you take advantage of their being distracted by the sudden movement to take advantage of that low-cut top they are wearing to (subtly) check out their decollatage.
Of course, you might get caught in the fourth point. But it's not a big issue because they already know you're going to look anyway - heck it's why they wore the top in the first place. As long as you can dance (or appear to), they'll probably let it slide. So get out there any enjoy yourselves! As Mr Rourke said on Fantasy Island - "Smiles everybody, smiles!"

*True story - on both the flight out (mechanical issues) and the return trip last night (apparently, there were clouds...IN THE AIR!). This was naturally on the day after my trip to Detroit where the flight back was also 3-4 hours late. I'm cursed.
** Particularly furniture, I hear
*** Sans crotch-grabbing - that'll just turn you into a bad impressionist wannabe
**** Unless you're a gay man, in which case you can dance as long as you want with your arms over your head because for gay men - there are no rules when it comes to dancing.
***** "Wow, he just raised his arms, he is either incredibly confident or a professional dancer!" - either way you win.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Quickie - Off to a wedding, but...

I'm in the Twin Cities this weekend for a wedding, but I have too many readers in science *not* to post this picture.



Ladies and Gentlemen, this is what happens when we cut science funding for schools. Sigh...

Mad credit to Grrrlscientist here for the original posting

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cut & Run

I'm In the office for only a few hours today before jetting off for a bunch of super-important stuff the rest of this week. This afternoon I'm off to watch the GF work on a super-cool project for her job. Tomorrow I fly to Detroit for a business trip. And Friday the GF and I leave for my stepbrother's wedding for the weekend. Come to think of it, next week I'm travelling to LA for much of the week for more work stuff.

So the bad news is that I'm still somewhat blog-restricted for lack of time, but the good news is that with a wedding and two business trips coming up, I'm pretty much guaranteed to have a couple good stories to share once I do find some blog-time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Quickie - In the interest of updating content

I found a neat widget for blogs - the Uniqlok! Those of you taking a gander at the little clock to the left of this post will no doubt find the dancing Japanese girls fun and all, but most importantly, they dance in time to whatever time it is, each beat taking exactly one second.

Honestly, I find the music kinda kewl, but I can understand how it might be a little much for folks with speakers at work. Opinions? Should the music stay or go?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Cough, hack, sniffle...

There are many great things about finding the love of your life. You always have someone who listens to you when you have a bad day, who will run your head when you have a headache, and who will sometimes make dinner for you without asking.

Which is all well and good, but you also find yourself facing some of the not-so-great parts like passing the same cold back and forth as the GF and I have been doing for the past week. And man does it suck. I've been fighting off some version of this cold for two weekends in a row and I'm only just now starting to feel right. But I'm better off than the GF - poor thing, she's been sick, gotten better, and then got sick again twice already.

Naturally, I blame myself and my delinquent immune system.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A moment of personal growth

After nearly ten years, I finally decided it was time to retire my suit. Yes, that suit that I wore to all major events I attended for the last decade was running out of time. Or at least in my case, running out of room in the waist*. Mercifully, just about the time I made this decision Macy's decided to have a huge sale on men's suits. So I was able to go in and buy *two* suits for about 20% less than I paid for my one suit ten years ago**.

But I made one mistake when I arrived at the store - I didn't find the men's suits section on my own, but instead, asked for direction when I was in the general area. What I failed to remember is that when you are in the "men's suit suburbs" those salesfolks will take advantage of any opportunity to score the commission on men's suits. Even on sale, they are a good chunk of change. The woman who's trap I fell into was more than happy to direct me to the men's suits, and was very friendly. But I became suspicious when she began to say that every single suit I was looking at looked "Great!", occasionally coupled with an "Oh that is beautiful fabric". Even the Kenneth Cole suit I tried on where the bottom of the jacket flared out like a skirt.

So I eventually just started saying "No" to everything she brought over that *I* didn't like. This included two "house" brands with vaguely italian-sounding names. I had an issue with the labels, which read "[House Brand Name] exclusively for Macy's". I mean, I get the whole generic/store brand label thing. Sometimes, I think it makes a lot of sense***, but for men's fashions, it makes me think of a vintage 1970's leisure suit I bought for a 70's party when I lived in Cleveland****. I bought it with a buddy of mine, who bought a different suit...which had a label which read...

"[House Brand Name] exclusively for JCPenny"

It was so silly that we spent most of the party making fun of the idea of anything JCPenny being "exclusive". So Naturally I couldn't possibly buy the house branded suits. Finally I ended up making my own way back and picking out a nice gray Calvin Klein and an even nicer black Hugo Boss. Even if these suits last me for the rest of my days, at least nobody will make fun of my suits after I'm dead and they're buying my clothes for a "2000's" theme party.

Still, I'm pretty proud of myself. I did it all with only a single, semi-panicked phone call to the GF. I seriously considered sending her cell phone pics for evaluation, but I figured that would probably cost me man-points.

* DAMN YOU MID-30's METABOLISM!!!!
** And think, that was in 1998 dollars!
*** Archer Farms, anyone?
**** Which, come to think of it, probably doesn't fit anymore either...sigh...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I hate when my t-shirts go stale

Last week, I stopped by Target to pick up some new undershirts. Because I'm pretty much the definition of "medium size" I struggled to find enough of the regular t-shirts to replace my stock. So I was forced to buy a couple sets of the Hanes "premium" shirts. As far as I can tell, the only difference between them is that the premium shirts come in bags of three, while regular shirts come in packs of five.



But perhaps the most fascinating difference was in the packaging:


Yup. This package of shirts comes in a "resealable bag". You know, because sometimes you only need to use one shirt but want to keep the other two fresh until they're needed.

Sheesh.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Quickie - Hyphens *do* matter people!

Dear Nowpublic,

I realize that you're all about "crowd powered media", so the author of this may be a 10-year old with no sense of grammar. But there's a big difference between "resigns" and "re-signs".

Just an FYI.

Grrrbear the Grammar Nazi



(Link to full article here)

And I'm even a member already

My local NPR pledge "week" ends this afternoon and frankly, I cannot be more glad. I've been a member of public radio for almost 10 years now and while I recognize the need for pledge drives, I also get so tired of them. And this last one went even longer than usual (or at least it felt like it). Maybe it's because everything else on "regular" radio is either crap or commercials. But it didn't used to be like that. I distinctly recall being able to switch to commercial radio during previous pledge weeks and actually hearing music, but that's not happened this time. It's all been annoying morning shows and commercials and bad music and more commercials. Now I'm beginning to understand why people buy satellite radio.

The GF and I went to the Orchestra last night. It was nice, but very long. There are two ways to see the orchestra in Chicago: indoors at Orchestra Hall (during the fall through spring) and outdoors at their summer home at Ravinia in the northern suburbs. I've experienced both, and honestly I have to admit that I *much* prefer the latter. There's something much more relaxing about being outside in regular clothes sitting on the lawn munching on cheese and crackers than sitting in a suit in rows of chairs with no legroom. I'll have to keep this in mind for future orchestral adventures.

Oh, and I need a new suit. I just realized that my current one has PLEATED FRONT PANTS! The horror...

Thank goodness Macy's is having a sale on suits this weekend.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Putting the "Grrr" in Grrrbear

I know I'm a little late on most things these days, but I just saw Hillary's "appearance" on the Daily Show Monday night. Boy, talk about uncomfortable. Not only was Jon clearly not excited about talking with her* but there was something not quote right about her whole appearance on the show...

Hmmm...what could it be I wonder?... Something vaguely sinister yet hilarious...

Oh yeah, I remember now!



**

Am I the only one who expected the first words out of her mouth to be "HARRO!"?

No doubt, she has a very "plecise and compricated pran" for how she's going to get John McCain elected president. Grrr...

* Made quite obvious by his comment about the bored looks on the staged "youthful" crowd obviously chained to chairs behind her while their parents were held at gunpoint just off screen.
** Apologies for the poor quality, but this is the best screen cap I could make off the easily available video clips on the web. But if you've seen Team America, you know what I'm talking about.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I *wish* I could vote again...

For some reason, over the last couple weeks I've been getting numerous phone calls from the Obama campaign, apparently convinced that despite my Chicago-area Area Code I actually still reside in Cleveland. In fact, I had two voice mails from Barack himself this afternoon when I got home! That's devotion people, I can imagine him now sitting at a desk with the Cleveland-area phone directory dialing number by number in an attempt to get out the vote. To think, I could have actually chatted him up for a few minutes. Damn Chicago traffic!

I am getting a little depressed about all the talk I'm hearing from the Hillary camp about going on after tonight, no matter what the results. Whereas last month even her husband was saying she needed big wins in both Texas and Ohio to stay in, now she's saying that a slight win in Ohio and a "not too terrible" loss in Texas is a sign that momentum is changing. And the longer she stays in, attacking Obama, the more polarized democratic voters will be. So by the time of the convention, no matter who actually wins the other side will be so upset that "their" candidate lost that they'll either not vote at all or vote for McCain in a fit of pique.

How do I know this? Because I find myself thinking about whether I could vote for Hillary should she "win" the nomination and I honestly don't know whether I could. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't. But I don't like McCain either. So I find myself stuck in a situation where I'm basing my choice on which candidate I loathe the least? Man, that would suck.

Hillary. For the love of God. Please stop this insanity and do America a favor. Even if you win the nomination, you won't win the race.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Don't animals with big teeth usually scare children?

In the midst of work business I forced myself to read through my dental magazine again despite its overwhelming scariness. One product that caught my eye this time is a company making plush stuffed animals complete with models of human teeth – for the purposes of teaching little kids how to brush and floss properly, no doubt. Except that when you combine human teeth with animals, you frequently end up with tiny monsters that look either weird or creepy.

Case in point: Max Mustang – the Rastafarian horse. Complete with red eyes and dredlocks. Max = weird.




Second case in point is Finn Z Fish. It looks like Nemo’s grandfather needs dentures! And since most fish don’t have teeth, this one bordered on creepy for me. Although not as much as Shelly Z Starfish



Monday, February 25, 2008

Non-Live (Dead?) Blogging the Oscars

Although I spent pretty much all the Oscars alone in my apartment doing last-minute work stuff for a big presentation tomorrow, I can’t let an Oscars go by without my yearly “Thoughts on the Oscars” overview. Unfortunately, because I was working, I couldn’t live-blog it like I usually do, so here’s what I can recall during my short 10 minute lunch break:

  • Why is Best Supporting actor the first award? Aren’t we supposed to sit through an hour or two of technical awards and art direction before we get to the beefy stuff? Or do you think that maybe the Academy was feeling sorry for all the Spaniards staying up to watch Javier Bardem win and just said “Ah hell, let’s get it over with so they can go to bed? Notice how the Academy hates the French though – making them stay up and wait for Marion Cotillard and all. I mean, sure she was a bit of a surprise, but the Irish had to wait for Daniel Day-Lewis, didn’t they?
  • How in the HE** did Transformers not win for Best Special Effects?!?! A bunch of talking polar bears* is somehow more impressive than CARS that TURN INTO FRIGGIN GIANT ROBOTS and shoot LASERS!?! I think not. Bad call, Academy…
  • I am ambivalent about the Ratatouille win for best Animated Feature. Provided that “Surf’s Up” didn’t win, because surfing penguins that talk like Ninja Turtles is an insult to my intelligence. Ratatouille was not awful, but why wasn’t Transformers up for this? If 85% of the action is CGI characters and special effects I think it’s “animated” enough.
  • Why is Miley Cyrus presenting at the Academy Awards? Am I just not getting something here or is this just a desperate attempt to get little kids excited about watching the Oscars?
    Okay lady-readers. How many of you are all excited about the prospect of winning Heidi Klum’s gown from the red carpet for some “heart health for women” ad campaign? It just seems like if you’re going to give something away, it should be something that the winner could actually *use* if you want people to get excited about it. Sure, I’m sure Ms. Klum has some stalkers that would be very glad to win said dress, but I doubt they’re all up about women’s cardiovascular needs.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum’s sweep of the Sound categories is unwarranted. I saw that movie and the sound was pretty good, but it was no Transformers. I think the Academy just hates Michael Bay. As well they should, but sheesh.
  • Damn. Helen Mirren is one fine lookin’ dame. Literally and figuratively.
  • Wowsers! Good thing they gave Diablo Cody the envelope in addition to the Oscar itself. That dress was cut up so high that if she hadn’t been able to use the envelope as a shield, America would have seen London, France, and any other western European countries located up around her unmentionables.
  • Good for Jon Stewart for bringing out Marketa Irglova after the commercial break to give her part of the speech for Best Song. Damn conductor-guy-who’s-name-I-always-recognize-but-then-forget-the-next-morning and his totalitarian regime!
  • No Country for Old Men wins the big ones. Yay Minnesota!

* Granted, they were wearing armor – but that should have been considered in “Best Costuming” obviously…

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hey Knitters!

I know that I have at least a few people still stopping by, hoping beyond hope for something new to read that doesn't involve scary giant puppets or uninteresting stories of travel delays in airports. I also know that a few of said readers are folks who are known to pick up knitting needles now and again* and that at least one of them has a significant other who is a little nerdtacular**. For her, I present perhaps the kewlest knitted thing ever. A knit R2-D2 stocking cap!

It's one of those things that makes me *really* wish I could still knit, or had the time to learn how again. Anyway, it was designed by some woman who posts all her patterns for it on her blog. So run on over and pick up the pattern and you'll have Xmas presents for your favorite geek all set up by fall! No need to thank me...

On the brighter side of life work has slowed down markedly recently. In fact, I have an entire weekend all to myself this weekend, with my only firm plans involving going to Lifesource to donate blood. Lifesource is a private company that basically manages blood donations in the Chicago area, and my relationship with them is a love/hate one. I love what they represent, but sometimes they get a little - shall we say - clingy. They have some computerized system that automatically knows when you are eligible to donate again, and all of us "regulars"*** start to receive phone calls from them to try and set up an appointment. It's like having a stalker, only it's vampire and not a jealous ex or crazy internet date gone horribly wrong. In retrospect, I'm not sure which situation would be worse. I've had some crazy internet dates...

Anyway, they call you something like 5-6 times a day, but never leaving a message. You just get to the point where you recognize the number on callerID and ignore it. It's not that I didn't want to, it's just that I had no time, and I hate feeling guilty about putting the caller off for, say a month despite their pleas that "We have a motorcycle accident victim in the hospital right now and we need you to come in to donate"****.

But now I have an appointment for Sunday and my concience will be clear for another 8 weeks or so. Ah, sweet redemption...

* Myself, I haven't knit since my junior high home ec class where I made slippers and a coat hanger cover that is still hanging in my closet. Why do hangers need knit covers, you ask? Hey, I didn't design the curriculum...
** Yeah, I'm looking at you J.Po.
*** I think I'm on my 2nd or third gallon of blood at this point.
**** Seriously, I had one guy use that on me last year. Obviously not credible, particularly when I said I couldn't come in until the weekend and Lifesource said "That'd be fine". I guess it wasn't *that* bad a crash then huh?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

AIIEEEE!!! RUN, IT'S GIRL-JIRA!!!!

I know I'm totally slacking off with respect to blogging lately. Work's been a real obstacle to anything resembling real life for the past few weeks and this weekend was full of theater company stuff, prior social commitments, and taking a few hours off to enjoy a nice dinner with the GF. But this week's making up for taking the weekend off so I'm going to be pretty much offline most of the next day or two.

That said, I couldn't *not* share this:



Honestly I don't know whether I'd be freaked out or fascinated if I saw that coming down the street. I *can* say I'd seriously consider starting a Godzilla-type panicked stampede purely for the experience. I can also say that if I were a giant puppet, I'd still never take a shower given from am elephant. Two words: elephant boogers.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

I mean, I know DVD's are advanced technology, but...

In an effort to catch up a little on my Netflix queue, and flesh out my film history knowledge, I sat down early this afternoon to watch the Charlie Chaplain classic "City Lights" while I was on the exercise bike.

When I brought up the main menu, I noticed that it was a very egalitarian setup - offering subtitles for english, french, spanish, a few Asian languages I didn't recognize, and what looked like Arabic.

But the weirdest thing about it? Once you chose "English" as your language you then got to choose from the "standard" audio or the "digital 5.1" audio...

...yeah. For a silent film.

Go figure.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Live! From the Monrovia Courtyard Marriott!

In case it wasn't obvious enough, I'm in the midst of another nationwide tour for work. And yes, it's actually pretty dull. Today and tomorrow I'm in Los Angeles. Last night I had to drive out to the middle of the desert* for one meeting this morning and now I'm sitting in my hotel after another meeting this afternoon. It's been about six hours since I got here and traffic has only started moving again after being a veritable parking lot since I arrived. Just another reason I'd rather not live here.

I'm a little surprised that I got here at all, actually. In case you missed it, that storm that caused all the tornadoes in Tennessee dumped somewhere between six and fifty inches of snow on O'Hare. There were nine flights from there to LAX yesterday, and of those, seven of them were canceled outright. Yet, for some reason, the travel gods had decided that my flight would still go. So, after taking an hour to pull back and get de-iced, we were off for 3.5 hours of bulkhead seating** and the worst movie I've ever seen as the in-flight movie***. Woot.

Anyway, I finally got around to sorting through some pictures I've had on my phone for a while and figured I'd post those since my life, being nothing but work for the past few weeks, is really dull.

First up is a picture I took a couple weeks back when I was in Vegas for a trade show. While one doesn't typically think of Vegas as being a hub of mass transit, they inaugurated "the monorail" a few years back to serve as a quick way to get to all the casinos on the east side of the strip. From what I recall, they had some financial trouble early on, which caused them to explore some alternative funding options. Including, apparently, "Monorail" brand water!

And from Christmas at my Aunt's house, a picture of her new baby kitten who is apparently just as big a fan of Mythbusters as the GF and I are. I know, there must be some sort of magical, cat-fancy-exuding power contained in Jamie's beret. I mean, just *look* at that fascination! (Click on the image for more detail of cat-fascination!)


* Remember what it looked like when Snoopy went to visit Spike in the desert? Yeah...like that.
** Which I loathe. I'm a sucker for under-seat storage.
*** "Martian Child" - Save yourself the two hours: The kid is just a weirdo and the dog dies.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'd be afraid of throwing out my back...

Three words: What the f?



Seriously? I don't know about ya'll, but there's no way in h-e-double hockey sticks that I could get anything done during the day were my ass being swiveled around by a paint mixer...

It's official. Americans are now so far and lazy that we'll believe *anything* that remotely involves motion qualifies as exercise.

After all, Elmo seems equally disinterested in both...

I have a hard time believing that Elmo was traumatized by Katy Perry's decollatage after discovering that he had already "been arou...