"There’s no link between diabetes and diet.
That’s a white myth, Ken, like Larry Bird or Colorado."
-Tracy Jordan, 30 Rock

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

mad moto skills

Holy canoli... 1950's Italian Police Motorcycle Team

Friday, September 12, 2008

Welcome Back!

Crikey, that computer took a long time to reboot... now I'm no slave to technology, but it seems to me that waiting two and a half months for your computer to reboot is just too long. Anyway, just after that last post my laptop froze up and I had to reboot... while that was happening, summer happened and somehow it has been a long time since writing.

Why am I writing now, you ask? Simple, really. Fall arrived yesterday. I know this because I woke up at 4:30AM for no apparent reason with no hopes of sleeping again... that means summer is done, and it is time for my sleep disorders to kick back in. Again, this morning, here it is ungodly early and I am back at the computer.

Call it a summer vacation, I guess, assuming that you call two long weekends to be an adequate summer vacation. I call it "sucks to be a grown up", but hey, tomatoe, tomato, whatever.

So here's the quick update... I've been one busy dude these past months. I sold the old truck and two motorcycles, bought a new (to me) motorcycle, and bought out most of the local Home Depot. Summer projects included framing in a new TV room in the basement, building a new dog fence to reclaim several heavily contaminated dog poo zones, building a living room halfwall to reclaim the living room and dining room as dog free zones, knocking out a built in giant planter thing at the end of the driveway to make more room, poured a slab to fill in the resulting giant crater at the end of the driveway, dropped and chopped and split a few cord of firewood, and I'm partway done framing in the new screen porch.

Between non-stop projects and long weeks at work and the need to do all sorts of computer stuff to get the vehicles sold and the new vehicles bought after researching for many many hours, that didn't leave a whole lot of time for typing up snarky little stories.

So that is mostly why it has been a long freaking time since writing.


Rest assured, though, I've got plenty new stuff to say... I'm a bit backed up, so to speak. I've eaten too much mental cheese and the old brain dump highway is a bit constipated.

Rewind about 5 or 6 years... we were on vacation in SC, staying at wifey's mom's house in the uber fancy guest suite... picture a sort of a dark cool Bellagio-esqe room, impeccably decorated, furnished with fancy little trashcans that cost more than our bedroom set. Anyway, Kid 1.0 is just a baby at this point, and she all stopped up, hasn't poo'ed in days, and is running a fever as well. After days of a cheese and whitebread diet, Wifey get worried about her bowels and gives her some baby-laxative medicine, a bowl of raisins, and a big shot of prune juice into her formula. She waits 10 minutes, hands the kid to me, and then immediately leaves. Not leaves the room, she leaves the house. She leaves the town. She might have even crossed state lines.

Anyway, all is well for a few minutes, and then I hear the most unholy rumbling and gurgling from Baby 1.0's lower half, followed by olfactory notification that it was time for a new diaper. We head up to the bedroom, and I lay out hand towel to protect the bedspread. I open the diaper and see ... well, in the interest of avoiding too much detail, let's just say that Baby 1.0 was no longer stopped up. I cleaned the situation up, and was putting on a fresh diaper when she looked up at me, made a funny face, and then exploded from every orifice. We're talking sudden vast quantities, top & bottom, front & back, the whole deal. All in the middle of the fanciest guest room that one can imagine, with no help available within miles.

By the time wifey returned, I had used up full box of wipes, 4 more diapers, a full can of rug cleaner (no, not on the baby), and had 2 full baskets of laundry to do. Kid 1.0 was happy as could be now that she was purged.

That's the sort of brain dump I'm expecting, so stay tuned... and grab some of those computer wet-wipes, 'cause this might get messy...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Why yes, in fact, I am ready to rock.

80's mullet? Check.
Sunglasses with Croakies? Check.
Sipping a Pepsi? Check.
Ready to rock? Check.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Freaking Birthday

That's right sports fans, I return to blogging on this, my 33rd birthday. I'm sorry for the delay in posting... It was a rough end to May, a rough start to June, and the Father's Day/birthday one two punch has not been too terrifically swell either.

May: Wifey got a severe headache on May 24th which lasted for 6 days, 5 missed work days, 3 narcotic prescriptions, 2 PCP office visits, 2 cat scans, one MRI, 1 neurosurgeon, on neurologist, and one 12-hour ER visit before finally starting to go away. The good news is that nothing serious is wrong. The bad news is that they still don't know exactly what caused it or why she still has a low grade headache. The other bad news is that judging from my expert review of her MRI, it appears that my wife has several famous aliens in her brain. Go ahead and even try to tell me I'm wrong:
Exhibit 1: Darth Vader
Exhibit 2: Admiral Ackbar

Exhibit 3: The Predator

June: Early June was largely consumed by a nasty heatwave and wifey recovering from the severe headache and trying to get rid of the lesser headache. And no, don't you go calling it a migraine, or all doctors and nurses within a 12 mile radius will immediately get their panties in a big wad because there is apparently a clinical variance between migraine symptoms and that of severe head pain that makes one stop eating and lie flat in a dark room for 6 days.

June 15th/16th, Father's Day and my 33rd birthday has thus far been overshadowed by my first real car accident. No injuries, thankfully, but the Honda Element was crunched up pretty good and had to be wheeled off on a stretcher. We were headed home from our season ending lacrosse game... have I mentioned that I've been coaching my daughter's 1st and 2nd grade girls lacrosse team? Anyway, I was pulling out of a parking lot onto a busy three lane each way road near the Farmington mall. I don't know what happened but all of a sudden there was shiny black Jetta lodged in my front left quarter panel. Never saw the dude, not sure if he was speeding or swerved into the lane or popped out of a wormhole or what... there is even the tiniest of possibilities that I just didn't see him, but I think the supernatural is far more likely.

Long story short: $1000 deductible, Brian is on a motorcycle for the week, and today's forecast is strong thunderstorms with high winds and large hail likely. I feel like I got hit by William "the Fridge" Perry, and now I need to go help a coworker move his office. Awesome. Can't wait to see what the rest of the day holds... Happy Birthday big B...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Long Delay due to Nausea

Sorry for the long delay in posting. An overcast but bright day in the field last week without sunglasses combined with a computer intensive week, all served up hot under some new ultra high intensity fluorescent tubes directly above my head has left me with a significant case of eye strain. I didn't realize how bright those tubes were, or I would have strapped a couple of these oatmeal can eclipse viewers to my skull before entering the building. Anyway, when I get eye strain, I tend to be nauseated and headachey around the clock, so I've tried to avoid any extra computer hours in my life these past days at almost any cost.

After many an angry email about the lack of updates, I have decided to bravely choke back the actual vomit and spew forth some blog-vomit for your reading pleasure...

First off, in trying to find an appropriate picture to convey just how freaking bright these new fluorescent bulbs are, I did an image search on "burned retinas". It turns out that only a few google image results for this search are actually about bright things, while the majority are from people blogging about things that they have seen that are so horrifying so as to burn the image onto their retinas forever. Most aren't really appropriate, but here is one for your viewing pleasure:

You're welcome.

It is time to end this post as the fuzzy orange haze is starting to creep back into the edges of my vision... more coming as soon as I stop heaving... BH

Friday, May 9, 2008

8 things about me (that might terrify you)

So my friend Shamalam asked me to participate in this blogger thing called Crazy Eights where you share eight unusual or little known facts about myself. Spouting such things on the internet is sorta like having a million strangers rifling through your underwear drawer, but luckily, I can trust all three people that read my blog. Fair enough, here goes.

1) I have never, ever, in my whole life chewed a piece of gum. Seriously. This is due to a childhood fear of choking coupled with a gross gum-chomping sister. She's not so gross anymore (hi K!), but I still won't eat gum. Over time this has also manifested into a hatred of gum... if I step on a piece on a hot summer day, I am quite literally ready to hunt down the gum-dropper and beat them senseless after I clean my shoe off on their face.

2) I prefer to eat pizza with the cheese removed, again due to the childhood choking on stringy melted cheese thing. Rip that cheese off, throw some Parmesan on the remaining saucy bread, and eat it alternating with the cheese/toppings via fork. I don't do this in public because a scary looking 6'4" 285 pound man has no business eating like a toddler out in the open, but if I'm home alone, I grab me a fork and say "hello, Parmesan!".

3) I think Facebook might be the creepiest thing ever. It is sometimes sorta neat to track down people from the past, but inevitably it results in an awkward standoff where no one knows how far to take things... it is like a high school reunion but in small email doses, where everyone ends up nodding their head in cyberspace saying, "yeah, cool, sounds great... um...yeah." It is also really creepy for a grown-ass man to email some other grown ass man and ask him "wanna be friends?"

4) I hate cats. But I think I covered that before... ah yes, I did, in A Disturbing Revelation ...

5) Despite my reputation as an all around nice guy/teddybear/swell dude, sometimes I am a total prick. I don't mean to be, but sometimes I am. Like sometimes I'll talk a little shit about people behind their back. I always feel bad about it, but I still do it. I've tried to counteract this by being an asshole right out in the open, and I think it might be working.

Like today, this dude at work told a really dumb joke, and instead of fake laughing, I just looked at him, smiled, and said "dude, you're a jackass", and went back to work. I felt really good about myself after that. I think being an asshole is making me a better person.

(NOTE 1: Talking about coworkers like this guy and the One-up-ya guy is a prime example of the fact that I'm an asshole... but assholes need to let off a little hot air now and then too, even if it is a stinky habit.) (pause... wait for it... now go ahead, laugh at my fart joke.)

6) I have a documented memory disorder. I was tested in middle school because I would get great grades on most things but was just unable to memorize things. It would have been a learning disability but in order to qualify, it had to be paired with another diagnosed weakness. Everything else was pretty good, but my memory is really crappy. It was a pain in the ass throughout school, and was totally apparent in all my grades. Thinking, writing, and doing classes were b's and a's, while the "look at a squiggly under a microscope and write down 10 characteristics of that subphylla" class was a D-.

Despite this memory problem I have amazing recall for totally useless information, and I really kick-ass at Trivial Pursuit. I somehow remember that they made less than 30,000 of the CJ-8 "Scrambler" Jeeps, yet I have no idea why World War I was started. Something about the assassination of some Serbian dude named Franz Ferdinand, but that is it. My mom is a history teacher, and if she knew this she would cry. Don't tell her.

The worst part is that people ask me about the testing and whether I have short term or long term memory problems, and I just don't remember. It would be a bad joke if it weren't true.

7) I have spooky-good visual discrimination. I can't really do it like a party trick, but if someone is doing a word search, I can glance at it upside-down out of the corner of my eye from 5 feet away and see the words. They just pop out at me.

In grad school, we did this forestry lab where we had to measure a 10-acre forest plot using a compass and a chain. The method was for one person to walk in a straight line along a compass bearing (directed by another to keep a straight path), and then the third would walk from person A to person B measuring out the 166 feet (one chain), or the length of a side of a square acre. I was the runner guy... I'd head in a direction, jumping logs, dodging prickers, skirting swamps, and line myself up at what I thought was the right distance. The C person then measured the straight line (carrying the dumb end of the tape measure), and time after time, the person stopped within arm's length of me. I can also eyeball small distances and visualize things remarkably well too.

8) I've confronted many of my fears and won.
  • I was really afraid of heights, so I started rock climbing.
  • I was afraid of needles and blood so I started donating blood regularly.
  • I was incredibly queasy about childbirth so I started watching ER regularly and made it through a 33-hour labor and C-section without hesitation.
  • I grew up next door to a man who lost an arm in a motorcycle wreck so I started motorcycling.
  • I was deathly afraid of medical procedures, especially lower abdominal/groin area procedures, so I ignored a muscle tear that I thought was a hernia, and lived in pretty significant pain for 18 months. I've mostly fixed the muscle tear, and have developed a brilliant coping mechanism for dealing with medical fears. It is called a vaso-vagal reaction, and it involves getting dizzy, sweating profusely, and losing vision, followed by loss of consciousness.
9) I thought The Godfather was terrible. I act like I'm a really knowledgeable film critic, but I secretly think a lot of the classics sorta suck, and I really love some other terrible films; I can watch Vertical Limit and Deep Blue Sea over and over again. Every guy everywhere will list The Godfather as their favorite film, but I could barely get through it. I don't even remember if I did get through it. (I'm also a pretentious prick for sometimes calling them "films" instead of "movies". Who the hell am I trying to impress? I'm afraid of stringy cheese and needles for fuck's sake!)

10) I like to eat my food evenly. Near the end of the meal, I should have one bite of each item left, and enough drink to wash it down. This is an unconscious pattern that I catch myself doing sometimes and it freaks me out a little. I do it with fast food(bite of burger, a few fries, maybe a single chicken nugget), I do it with pizza (bite of crust, bite of middle, just the right amount iof topping left), I do it with desserts (always maintain the cake to frosting ratio), and I even do it at Thanksgiving... exhausting, that meal is...

There are some exceptions, like I will sometimes eat all of an item first, especially if it is something I don't particularly like... veggies go first when mom's watching just to relieve the pressure, or hot bread out of the oven goes down the hatch fast, but more often than not, I am left with equal parts on the plate.

11) Sometimes I get really distracted, and take things way too far... I realize that my 10 minute email check has turned into two or three hours, or my Sunday night quick project turns into a major room renovation. Sometimes I even lose track of myself and realize that it is 1:31AM, I'm exhausted, and I've just finished item #11 on an 8 revelations list.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Several Things that Terrify Me

1) Sketchy CraigsList ads:

looking for a docotor - $100 (meriden)
Reply to: sale-672335293@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-05-07, 10:18PM EDT

Private person needs a Doctor for a private job will pay $100.00 for a 15 minute job. If the job takes a 2nd appointment will pay an additional $100.00 cash prefer a Cardiologist but will take a General Practitioner. Interns on last year rounds ok to apply would like to have job done this weekend

2) Sketchy Foreign TV shows:

3) Those squeaky cotton balls jammed into the top of pill bottles, fingernails on chalk boards, and the occasional really dry squeaky Colorado Front Range snow. (All three activate the same fear node, so they are technically the same thing.

4) White food, including cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and all white salad dressings, including but not limited to ranch and blue cheese dressing, but strangely enough not including mayonaisse, mozzarella cheese, or ice cream. (don't bother trying to figure out the pattern... modern science and several neurotic friends have spent years diagnosing this issue...)

Don't Buy This House

I conducted an environmental site inspection yesterday on a property in beautiful Bridgeport, Connecticut yesterday. Apparently they want to tear the existing house, shed, and garage down to build some old folk dorms (aka a 55-plus active adult community). Aside from the fact that every feature of the house was some combination of ugly, broken, stained, unsafe, smelly, and/or straight-up illegal, the place was really quite charming. Oh, and the location was crappy too.
But what really stood out was the basement... it was a typical site inspection basement, meaning that the basement was unlit and supremely sketchy. As expected, there was some light trickling in through a filthy cracked window, but most areas were pretty dark. I navigated only by the flash of the digital camera, a la Jodie Foster as she blasts a few rounds into Monk's boss. As I peered into the dark, I wasn't sure what I'd see...
Aside from the illegal dumping piles, the walnut panelling, the wet floors, the incredibly contaminated dry cleaners next door, and the big oil stains everywhere, there was one feature that really stood out for me. No, not the "how to create a guaranteed electrical fire" of a circuit panel, above that. Instead of regular floor joints, these jokers used nearly whole trees, and the didn't even bother stripping the bark off. I might expect this at, say, Abraham Lincoln's log cabin, but in a 1940's colonial in a city, it struck me as odd. Much as I hate to see classic old architecture destroyed to make way for cookie-cutter developments that spring up overnight, I'm feeling like the best way to renovate this house is with the business end of a wrecking ball.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

80MPH Pollen Injection

So I headed south to my mom's house tonight after work to spend a few extra hours on the bathroom remodel that I'm doing for her. It was a pretty uneventful ride, except that my face was getting blasted by the wind pretty significantly. You see, a few days ago my helmet rolled off the moto seat, hit the pavement, and cracked the shield. I ordered up replacement parts, but until they arrive, I have to ride with no shield on the helmet. The shield-less helmet tends to funnel the wind into the helmet more so than under normal conditions, so I looked sort of like this as a screamed down I-91:The good news was that my sunglasses kept my eyes relatively wind-free. On the way home, however, I had to switch to my regular glasses, which left me eyes much more exposed... so on that ride I looked more like this: Anyway, as I rode along with my lips flapping in the wind and my eyes tearing up enough to make me severely dehydrated, I realized two things:
  1. The open-faced helmet combined with the highway speeds created what was essentially a giant pollen funnel, shooting enormous quantities of allergens directly into my system. I was essentially mainlining grass spores, smoking ragweed out of a three-footer, or snorting dustmites off a mirror through a twenty dollar bill. Good stuff... gonna breathe real well tomorrow.
  2. With tonight's toilet installation, I realized that the number of new toilet installations I've completed within the last year or so is up to six. That is far too many toilets for a single year. That is probably more toilets than most people install in a lifetime. That's two bathroom remodels for Ma and three in my house during renovations...
Now drop your calculators there Mathletes, and don't get your pocket protectors in a bunch... I am aware that 2+3 does not equal 6... but what you have failed to grasp is the inevitable screw-up at the end of a bath remodel where I got everything in place and then immediately spilled purple PVC primer on the brand new linoleum, and had to rip the whole room apart again to reinstall new linoleum. That was a feelgood moment, ya sure ya betcha.

So Mr Toilet Expert, says you, what sort of toilet is the kick-assing-ests toilet on the block? Well, sportsfans, I'm glad you asked. The Niagara Flapperless toilets are pretty freaking sweet from a design perspective... ecologically friendly for the low water usage, low maintenance because the system has no flappers to wear out, and it flushes well too. Plus they are pretty reasonable priced at about $120 for the bowl and tank. Click here to watch an incredibly boring video I found that shows the tipping bucket technology. It is about a minute long, and crikey, it's boring. Enjoy!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Soul Conservation

According to a town zoning document I am reviewing, apparently the Litchfield County Soil Survey, in conjuction with the US Department of Agriculture, has a Soul Conservation Service.

What ever happened to the separation of church and state?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Yet Another Wacky Idea

So it is 5 in the morning, and I've been up for an hour already. No one else is up except Eddie the dog, and he is clearly not interested in discussing my latest business plan. I tried to talk about it last night with my personal business guru Tree who is never afraid to say "wow, terrible idea Brian" when required, but he wasn't home, so I just left a message insisting that he immediately wire me the full funds required to start this up... I haven't seen the funds yet, and no one is awake, so listen up, folks:

The engineering company where I work bought a new building about a year ago. We take up the top floor, have a steady renter in one bottom half, and another renter in the other bottom half who is about to move out. We plan on taking over a good part of that area for the new environmental area, including an office for me, as in a non-cubicle work area with walls, a ceiling, and a door... best of all, it is far away from the bathroom. That will leave one or two small rooms and the rear warehouse area available for rent. We had a company anniversary picnic yesterday at lunch, and since it was raining, we set up the grill in the mostly empty warehouse area. Now I had been in there before, many times, but all of a sudden, standing there with a cheeseburger in hand, I saw it... the warehouse area is a nearly perfect location for a commercial climbing gym.

It was a weird moment, not quite a vision, but a slow awakening as I tossed that cheeseburger down my gullet . I immediately saw the two main walls covered in holds and roped up, but as I looked around, the other areas became clear... office area there, bouldering cave there in the cage area, storage/changing area up on top if the cage there, rental desk there, freestanding tower area there... There's a big garage door over there to open in nice weather, and huge skylights above for additional natural light. It has 24' ceilings, a decent height for top-roping courses. The location is awesome too... less than a mile from a major highway, and located on a side road/business park road past the indoor soccer arena but not quite to the health and fitness club. There isn't a ton of parking, but most indoor climbing gyms are open strange hours anyway... 5PM to 10PM during the week is common, perfect for sharing the lot with a 8 to 5 business.

Anyway, here's some pictures of the site: The big open walls would be great for roped full height areas, while the cage area would make a great bouldering cave. Other bouldering areas could wrap around the shorter walls, and a full height roped spire would balance out the other corner. Lockers and changing benches could be on top of the cave, and the office and bathrooms are in that room under the heating ducts.

My town is pretty wealthy(except for me) and pretty active(ditto), so I'm sure the place would attract a bunch of people... heck, in a town where there are a dozen kindergarten soccer teams, 1st graders can play lacrosse, and soccer is an organized religion, you know that jamming the kids into activities is almost mandatory. Most of the girls on the 1st and 2nd grade lacrosse team that I'm coaching this season are also playing soccer, gymnastics, and/or swimming... There is a great huge climbing gym 30 minutes south of me where I climbed a lot in high school, and a pretty small gym about 20 minutes from the location up near the mall, but I think this town could easily support another...

Since leaving Boulder, I've always wanted to build a climbing wall in my house or garage, but just never got around to it... and I've always wanted to run my own business... and this location just seems nearly perfect. I really like my current job, and want to stay there, but this seems like (once it is up and running) something that could be managed as a part-time venture (with lots of help, obviously)... and this, my friends, is why I was wide awake at 4 in the morning on a Saturday. Sorry to bore you with a not funny post, but I needed the brain dump.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Half Eaten Corn Muffin

Well as long as I'm bitching about high local taxes (see previous post), thereby confirming that I am officially a cranky old bastard at 32, well listen up, ya'here, and lemme tell ya 'bout the put'n'take... down at the local transfer station, there is a "put'n'take" area, where you can leave your used stuff that someone might need, and take stuff that someone might have left, assuming of course that you want a 1976 Emerson hi-fi with an 8-track player and cat-scratched brown speakers, because that is the only thing that people ever seem to leave. But anyway, I digress.

My town, let's call it Taxonbury, charges really high taxes, like 10 Mill points higher than any town around. The schools here are really great, but otherwise, the services are pretty dismal... think pay toilets at the town hall... Anyway, citizens need to pay to buy a pass to drop off your recyclables at the transfer station. With that pass you can also pay to drop off other non-recycleable stuff: old appliances, yard trimmings, etc. I swung through there the other day to drop off some corrugated cardboard recycling and a few other items for the put'n'take... and the Transfer Station attendant informs me that there is now a $5 fee to drop stuff at the put'n'take. That's right, sports fans, my town now charges to let you give things away for free.

Keep in mind that stuff rarely even reaches the ground, as there is a whole put'n'take army constantly loitering in the area, ready to leap across the retaining wall to grab that Jefferson Airplane poster and the olive green 1972 toaster oven right out of your hands before you even unload it...

So anyway, not being interested in paying to give my stuff away, I moved onto step 2: the yard sale. For those not familiar with the tradition, a yard sale is a process where you spend most of a weekend day attractively staging your belongings in your driveway so that people driving past can easily point and sneer at the junk you once wanted. A few people will stop by to give you a dollar or so for a $20 item, or maybe $10 for a brand new $100 item. At the end of an 8 hour day you will realize with dismay that you just gave away $500 worth of items for $17.25, still have 3 hours of clean-up left, and effectively would have been better off working in some Thailand sweatshop sewing swooshes onto $150 sneakers named after some douche who didn't finish high school.

After packing up all the junk again and crying myself to sleep, I awoke refreshed and ready for step 3: Freecycle. Freecycle is an online community designed to help people reuse things and keep stuff out of the landfill. In theory, it is brilliant, and in some cases, it works swell. In most cases, it works like this: Offer in Hartford: Half eaten corn muffin. Wrapper is mostly intact, but muffin must be picked up by 3:45PM... or Wanted in New Haven: 42" LCD Plasma HDTV, in very good to excellent condition. Must be in original packaging with instructions, and delivery must be available as I have no car right now, and my parakeet has terminal feather rot so I can't leave her side.

By posting my yardsale items in Freecycle, I hoped to help some people out, get rid of some stuff, and maybe even save myself a bit of work. I wrote up some descriptions, posted the items up for grabs, and immediately was flooded with responses and requests for certain items. I carefully responded to each and everyone, gave detailed directions to each person, and set the items at the curbside for convenient pickup. After the first day, none of the items were retrieved. I understand how busy life can be, so I gave everyone a second day. Still no pickups... so I emailed politely every last person.

I woke up the next morning hoping to find an email box full of courteous responses, but was greeted only with a few offers for new mortgages, random Facebook friend requests (apparently my picture looks hot, and lots of people want to meet me for discreet fun), and many offer for products to help enhance that certain part of the male anatomy.(I hope my new facebook friends don't find out about those emails...) Anyway, it was also pouring down rain by now, so I decided to let the stuff sit out for one more day. I returned home to find all my stuff still there, and I suspect some of my neighbors might have added new items to my soggy pile of unwanted treasures.

You know how the story ends... me, in the front yard, listening to my sweet new Emerson hig-fi, trying in vain to build a bonfire with a bunch of soggy crap. At least I have a half a corn muffin to munch on...

Seriously though, folks, that is not very good advice. As some of you know, I have been actively fighting to protect the environment since high school, through undergrad, through a Master's program, and through a bunch of years as an environmental scientist, and when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling old stuff, my best advice is this: be sure to use lots of gasoline and old tires to really get that bonfire going, and make sure it is plenty hot before you toss in the brand new 42" LCD Plasma HDTV... despite the amazing picture clarity, those things are full of nasty pollutants, and they can cause big environmental problems if your bonfire isn't hot enough.

April Sucked

You ever have one of those months where you have to tell a bunch of people that you have to move far far away and they get super mad and yell at you for 26 days continuously and then all of a sudden it turns out that you're not going to move and all those mad people are now happy people, but wait, you can't afford not to move, so maybe then you have to still move but maybe close instead of far far away, and then all of a sudden you realize you can resolve the whole issue by moving your sofa to a different room? Of course you have... everyone has, I'm sure.

Yeah, that was my April.

I do realize that everyone has months just like that, and maybe even a lot of you had the exact same experiences this past April... if so, congratulations on living through it and not running off to the tattoo parlor for an impulsive bad decision on your way to run away to Alaska to work on a crab boat in the Bering Sea. Don't get me wrong, impulsive tattoos are generally a great idea, as is running away to Alaska to work a fishing boat, but obviously, doing so with a fresh tattoo is not the best idea. Those rubber overalls chafe something awful, and the tattoo will never heal properly when constantly coated in salt water and fish slime in sub-freezing temperatures.

So anyway, long story short, instead of moving to the hot zone we'll be staying in central Connect-the-dots, and instead of moving locally to a town with smaller houses and smaller taxes, we'll likely stay put, block off a room or two, add a roommate to the mix, all the while bitching about the high taxes. Lots of mixed feelings all around, but not moving is certainly easier than moving, and not selling during a massive real estate slump is always a neat perk too. I guess overall, despite some mixed feelings, it was a good decision, and house-wise, I'm really happy... I dig the house, the cul-de-sac, and the neighbors...

Anyway, speaking of moving far away, warmest congratulations to my favorite Spanish-fluent Canandaiguan accupuncturist former roommate now living in Godzilla-Land and his lovely wife on the arrival of their 3320-gram baby1.0. She is the cutest tri-lingual infant I've ever seen. Well done Wilson-san.

Coming soon -
the t-shirt story, something about mary, and rat pancakes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Just Plain Wrong

The woman in front of me at Subway today ordered a chicken teriyaki sub, which comes in a sauce of it's own. She then added cheese (melted), sweet onion sauce, chipotle sauce, and extra mayo. I'm pretty sure that if Subway offered a big bowl of gravy for sammich dipping, she would have gotten that too. Aside from being a henoius combination of flavors, what exactly is it that possesses people to abuse condiments in such a reckless manner? I'm not saying it should be illegal, I'm just saying that some things are JUST PLAIN WRONG.

Much in the same way that responsible drivers should be handed a stack of "hey, you're driving like an asshat" stickers to be distributed at will, I think that other responsible individuals should be given a whole stack of "Just Plain Wrong" cards for distribution in other situations. As an internationally reknowned individual who does everything pretty much perfectly, I'd be happy to spearhead this movement, provided I would report directly to the United Nations, and that I have a budget similar to that of national defense. And an office with one of those neat mesh high tech office chairs.

Coming soon, from the Department of Just Plain Wrong: two of the wrongest t-shirts I've ever seen, which I of course had to buy while on vacation in Orlando.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Disney Part 2

Okay, here's a quick follow-up with some factual junk about our Disney trip... it will not be funny, so get ready to not laugh. The next post will make up for it, I swear.

I think that 6 or 7 is the ideal age to visit Disney. I was 5 and remember almost nothing except eating a hotdog in a funny paper wrapper and falling off a moon-bounce thing and skinning my knee. If you wait till 8 or 9 I think a lot of the magic is gone, as well as some of the innocent belief. At this age, Disney is still sorta real... the princesses might just be real princesses, and the characters are not yet sweaty teenagers making $6.50 an hour to get heat stroke. Also, below that age you may run into height restrictions... Lucy is tall enough that it wasn't an issue. There is certainly fun stuff for younger kids, but with few lasting memories for them, a $65 day ticket for a 3 year old is pretty steep for me and my rock and roll paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.

We did Animal Kingdom on day 1 and Magic Kingdom on day 2. AK is a pretty reasonable one day, while MK is a long one day or maybe a day and a half... but by halfway through MK day, I was straight up exhausted. After a rest, a nap, a beer, and a dinner, I was ready for a few more hours, but we all slept in from midnight till about 10AM the next day.

On the third day, we planned on doing Seaworld but got the impression that it was a couple of cool shows (dolphins, sea lions, and Shamu) mixed with a bunch of coasters. We don't do coasters... hell, I nearly hurl after 3 seconds on a swingset... so we decided to skip SeaWorld and have a mellow day. Instead we went to GatorLand, "Orlando's Best Half day Attraction", and we were really psyched to find that it was an awesome spot. I feared that it would be a big concrete swimming pool with a bunch of sickly gators and Cletus poking them with a stick, but it was in fact a great place to spend a few hours. There were a few shows with snakes, tarantulas, and creepy critters, a brief gator wrestling event, and a jumping for chickens show, but the best part was the huge breeding marsh with boardwalk and observation tower. You could get within feet of hundreds of gators, and the swamp birds like cattle egrets were nesting a few feet away as well. The shows were fun and goofy enough for a kid to enjoy, but still cool for adults, and the boardwalk was really neat too.... and at under $20 for an adult, or 1/4 the price of a Disney/SeaWorld/Universal, I think it is a must see location.

In my mind, Epcot is too educational for young kids. I went a few years ago and found much of it, um, kinda boring. I think Disney Hollywood Park, Seaworld, and Universal are also not well suited for young kids. We also skipped the waterparks due to the 50 degree weather and, again, the motion sickness issue above.

So, for us, I think a three day visit was pretty much perfect...
Day 1: get in late afternoon, get settled, and souvenier shop at an outlety (preemptive strike... we skipped 98% of the 432,789 gift shops in the parks by buying a few things right away.... saved us roughly 6 days and $56,089 dollars.)
Day 2: Animal Kingdom for an easier day, get used to the process and the ways to beat the system (FAST PASS!)
Day 3: Long day at Magic Kingdom, break Midday, and stay late.
Day 4: sleep in, hit GatorLand on the way to the airport (or catch early flight the next day).

That's a pretty good long weekend, hit the best and skip the rest! Tis oif course assumes kids... if you are without kids, this advice is really crappy and you should totally ignore it.

Thoughts on Disney

Let me begin by stating that I actively dislike big crowds, hot weather, and excessive consumerism/marketing especially to youth. With that said, I just got back from a trip to Walt Disney World in Florida during school vacation week. Further complicating the trip was that I was travelling with my mom, my sister, my wife, and my daughter. As the single Y-chromosome in the family truckster, I had the cards stacked against me...

Now I'm no conspiracy theorist, but a lot of people talk about how thoroughly Disney has taken over the culture of central Florida (and perhaps the world, via the Disney-AOL-Hershey-Microsoft-Google-Islam-Vatican City merger; I highly suggest that you read Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World by Carl Hiaasen, a native Floridian jounalist with the Miami Herald, and one of my favorite authors).

Anyway, it was pretty clear to me right away... after arriving at the hotel, I went to talk to the concierge/guest services dude about what to see, where to go, and all that, and lo and behold, the dude had three fingers on one hand. It looked sort of like this...

which reminds me of this...

I'm not saying that M.Mouse or D. Duck had anything to do with the three-fingered concierge, but it was intriguing nonetheless.

With that said, the mission for the trip was to create a great vacation and memories for my almost seven year old daughter, so I had to put aside my X-Files suspicions, repress my y-chromosome instincts, and just do all that I could to ensure a great trip.

Given the crowds, the variety of attarctions, and the sheer scale of all that is Disney, it is of vital importance that you plan ahead and time everything perfectly. Planning for a 3 day Disney trip is akin to the preparations required by the Allied Forced before their early summer visit to the Beaches of Normandy... The lack of space on the internet prevents me from going into the full plan of attack, but let me share a few key pieces of wisdom:

1) The $15 fee to rent a stroller is the best money that you will ever spend. We didn't rent one the first day, and didn't make it 15 steps into the park before the first meltdown occurred due to tired feet and legs. And no, your child is not different. Disney is a magical place, and will create some priceless memories, but from time to time, it will also turn your normally peaceful child into a raving screaming lunatic. A one day walk through the Magic Kingdom is about as much walking as a typical Everest summit attempt... starting in Minneapolis. Get the stroller.

2) Go early, leave, and come back late. It defies all known rules of child-rearing, but we had our best Disney time between 6PM and midnight. There are no lines, plus the night-time parade and fireworks are both awesome, especially when viewed from a ride.

3) As a seven year old, the best rides include the Monorail and the tram, so don't be afraid to pack a lunch and take a ride back to the parking area for a car-side picnic. $5 Subway sammiches taste all the sweeter in a calm quiet car when compared to a $9 cold cheeseburger, a $5 order of fries, and a $4 Coke...
Gotta go unpack, bye for now ehhh.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Classified Absurdity

I read the classified ads.
It is a quirk, I'll admit, but I like to see what sort of weird stuff people sell, and I like to know what stuff is worth... like if I had a bunch of leather bondage gear to trade, what might i get for it? (odd that I keep going back to that one post... better discuss that in next weeks' electrotherapy session...)Anyway, I come across all sort of wackiness.... here's a few:

Here's a funny end to a "for sale" ad for a motorcycle:
"These were very easy miles. I am in my mid 40's and do not ride aggresively. Please reply to me at ridefast06@yahoo.com"
So how do you define agressively? One way might be riding fast. Hmm.

Next up, an interesting definition of the word "honest". (abridged version)
23 yr old male from the looking for a weekend Part Time job that pays under the table. I'm very easy going, honest, respectful, great with people, a team player, and a person who gives 100% effort into everything I do. Just an honest guy looking to make a few bucks to make ends meet.
Hmm, last time I checked, under the table jobs were ILLEGAL. Doing illegal stuff is typically viewed as, oh, what's the word, Not Honest?

Finally, this ad just makes me sad, and makes me doubt the survival of our species for much longer. This message is presented uneditted in its entirety for your viewing pleasure.
SUP PPLS i got a hole ls swaup for 88 to 91 crx or civic hatchback so if any 1 got a shell for sell call=860-208-5128 or mail me at GORILLASELLCARS@YAHOO.COM I got the car n drive it it need paper work im no goin tru tha so if any got a shell hit me up will pay up to $500 or will trade the hole swup crx for 92+civic hatchback
I'm not sure, but I think he might want to buy or sell or trade something vaguely Honda related, but that is about all I can gather. I also suspect he might be wearing a baseball cap at some odd angle, but again, that is just a guess.

Sketchy Digital Post-It News

Yesterday afternoon I posted a follow-up to my Post-It Note internet... 12 hours later, this is posted to the Gizmodo technology newsgroup:

Talk about quick development cycles... these folks apparently read about my updated Post-It browser yesterday, developed it last night, and had a technology piece written about it within about 12 hours. The full article is here, but please remember where you saw it first...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

9 Year Anniversary

So today is my 9 year wedding anniversary... so I pull out my handy dandy internets from my pocket, and ask wikipedia what the dealio is. The full Wikipedia article says this, but my pocket Wiki says this: (notice I upgraded my browser, and now have a start button, application name, and current time at the bottom of each browser applications. yeah, I'm cutting edge...)
Hmm, says me, a leather gift... I think I know just the thing that would make the perfect anniversary gift, and it is leather too...

Playing Dress-Up with Harley Dudes

So this past Sunday morning, Libby and I stopped in at the Stafford Speedway Motorcycle Swap Meet. It was a chilly morning, probably 35 degrees, cold, and a bit windy, but it was right on Libby's path north towards Maine, and we figured it would be a sight to see. We expected a truly ridiculous spectacle, and we were not dissappointed.

To start with, there were probably 1000 motorcycle dudes all dressed up in their leather outfits with tough guy vests, bandanas, chaps, and various other body accessories with the ever-present Harley Davidson symbol. There were vests and jackets representing various groups of Hells Angels, Bikers for Christ, the Silver City Rollers, all the big clubs and groups. These dudes were generally dressed in full biker garb, serious biker attire, all 1000 of them, each tougher than the next. The funny thing is, there were only about 200 bikes in the lot. Which means that probably 800 of these yahoos woke up in the morning and decided to play dress-up.

"Hey Muggsy!"
"Yeah T-Bone?"
"Let's dress up like bikers today!"
"Sure thing Tiger... but it is not sunny and 70 degrees, so we can't take the motorcycle.. we better fire up the Jetta!"
"Okay my sweet T-Bone, too bad it is not sunny enough to take the Cabrio..."
"Yeah, maybe we can take it tomorrow when we dress up like superheros or

I can just picture five or six of these Devil's Warriors Gang members hopping into Jerry's Honda Odyssey and swinging through Starbucks for lattechino mocha grandissimus smoothies on the way...

The other funny thing was that of the hundred or so tables/tents/tarps/piles of assorted chrome, black leather, and rusted out piles of tentanus, I saw excatly zero price tags or identifications of any sort. Apparently to find an item of interest, you just need to be walking down the aisle, and suddenly notice the left baffled doofelater cover from a 1973 Shovelhead Sportster that you've been seeking all those years. After all, there have only been a few dozen models produced each of the past 50 years, so how hard could it be to find what you need in a big pile? I'm pretty sure that these vendors were all philosophically opposed to the concept of actually selling any items.

Funny Side Note: In searching for funny pictures to include on this article, I have come to the realization that there are a ridiculous number of dogs names Harley. Do a search like I did and gaze in wonder at the multitudes... I'm just glad to see that these dogs aren't draped in useless chrome and black leather like these ridiculous bikes.

My Big Winnings... err, Losings

I'm not one to brag, but a rather significant pile of money landed on my desk this morning as a result of my notable standings in a recent NCAA tournament pool.
As you can see above, there is a bountiful booty there, lying victoriously atop my bracket. The handful of small red checkmarks show the games that I guessed correctly. The multitude of red scribbles show my route to victory, officially guessing wrong more often than anyone else in the pool. As the official worst entry, I won back my entry fee... so I collected my losings, and am headed to Vegas, baby!... unless I get hungry along the way, in which case this pile of cash should be just enough to score me a sammich.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hitch____ Furniture

WARNING: 6th grade level humor to follow.
There is a former Hitchcock Furniture store in my town, which is very visible from the highway. The company was originally founded in Connecticut by the son of a Revolutionary War veteran who was lost at sea. But that is neither here nor there. The store closed down in the spring of 2006, and the storefront has deteriorated since then. Then, late one night, a band of theiving vandals struck. Here's what they left behind:Now at first glance, I didn't think much of it... some punk kids ripped down a few letters from a sign. Big deal. But then I got thinking about it... and then I realized that somewhere out there, some theiving little bastard punk kid has a three foot high "cock" on his wall. And you know what? I'd like to track him down and shake his hand. Good score, young punk! A street sign or a construction sign on the dorm wall is pretty tame, almost a prerequisite along with a tapestry and a Pink Floyd poster, but to have a three foot cock on your wall, that there is something to be proud of. (EDIT: never end a sentence with a preposition!) ... that there is something to be proud of, dude!

Guest BlogSpot: DLibby

B-NOTE: Today's feature is a guest spot. The views expressed below are not necessarily the views of this blog, nor do I condone the content. All in all, I'm pretty sure this is a really bad idea, but I am proceeding anyway, full speed ahead, Evel Kneivel style. I will throw in some italicized comments from time to time when required, so buckle up...

Hello all you may remember me from Brian’s My genetic lovechild meets the Lord of the Rings Blog. I am “Libby” I am here to talk about Brian. As some may or may not know we are “Motorcycle Gay” as my wife likes to say, due to the fact we each have 2 motorcycles that are Identical, but that is for another time. (Libby got his dirtbike first, but I got my sport-touring bike first, so neither of us is a designated bottom in this motorcycle gay relationship... just to keep that clear. And the bikes don't match either, which means we're probably both butch/bear, rather than twink... not that there's anything wrong with that.)

So, my story starts with me taking a little ride ( 200+ miles in the rain ) from my home in Maine to Connecticut to go riding with Brian. (Libby did his rain ride in April with light rain... mine was November with heavy rain and colder temps, heading 30 miles further North nonetheless...)But this is all academic to the real reason for me Dave to hijack Brian’s Blog. You see our good friend as fallen on to hard times.

What I have discovered about Brian is that he may be “Bandwidth Poor”. The incident happened shortly after my arrival. We were chatting in his kitchen about what to do that evening. It seemed like a nice ride in the rain was not an option because Brian has Aquaphobia (B-NOTE: see above... I'm no sissy...). He suggested maybe a movie. I thought great I stated that I would like to see 21 he said great let me check the times. He reached into his front pocket then sorted thru a small stack of PostIt notes and produced a small list of “Movie” times there appeared to be abbreviated titles and times when each movie would play. He ran thru the list suggesting other possible things to see and was stopped when he reached SL. “I have no idea what this movie is so we will skip it”. We agreed to see 21 and took off to get some dinner. (The movie was StopLoss, but that's irrelevant.)

After dinner Brian again had to check some more movie times so back to “The Internet” he went and he while driving reached into his pocket and pulled sever stacks of PostIt Notes . He found the List and checked the start Time. “Hay Dave we still have about and hour and a half I have to get some stuff you want to go with me?” . Since he was driving he just put all his info on the console between the seats. We stopped to get some gas and it was the perfect time for me to look at his notes. The first pad I grabbed was the same thing hand written on each page “Google” with a square box below. I found sever articles about current events on other notes, and then found the movie list with the attached PostIt “Movies 06033” on a “Google” PostIt. There was a mini Flip book with an animated Stickman knocking himself out with nun chucks labled YouTube. Some postings from news groups, some others with little stick people that I could not figure out what was going on it looked like a football game or wrestling, and his latest blog. It is obvious he has some internet Proxy (literally) that is giving him his info. And God willing I will find this proxy before I leave his house, and can slip this blog enter into the mix. (he didn't as it turned out, but slipped a Post-It Note of his own into my pocket...)


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hockey Socks

I saw a woman riding a bike the other day in the rain. She wore a bright flourescent yellow/green cyclist jacket, a pair of black spandex biking shorts with the big wide red stripe on each leg, and a pair of big wooly red and blue hockey socks on her lower legs that were tucked into the botttom of the shorts.

The weirdest part was that she was rising a really nice road bike... not brand new, not top of the line, but a perfectly respectable bike nonetheless. Usually those outfits are reserved for folks riding kids bikes down the center of the highway, or riding a spray-painted cruiser with a three-wheeled shopping cart trailing behind.

It was a jaw dropping, turn your head and openly stare sort of moment, especially in the fancy downtown area of the semi-snooty town that I live in, where sparkly new Volvo station wagons and giant SUVs are the default vehicles of choice. Awesome. Simply awesome.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Go Kansas/No Country for Crappy Endings

As reported a few days ago, I am part of an office NCAA Basketball pool, and I was bragging at the time that I was slightly smarter than a sick monkey with a fistfull of darts. Unfortunately, it turns out that I might actually be dumber than a sick monkey with a fistfull of darts; the good news is that it may be financially lucrative to be incedibly bad at picking sports brackets.

As of this morning, I am officially in last place in my office pool, and as long as UNC doesn't win the show, I will hold that spot. There is a quiet dignity to such a spot, as in this pool, the ultimate loser get the $10 entry fee returned... it is like a Yankee Swap in that way, except that the NCAA Basketball pool almost never results in me winding up with a framed naked picture of the Skipper from Gilligan's Island, whereas that is exactly what happened at my last Yankee Swap.

Okay, I will admit that I sometimes am guilty of embellishing the truth ever so slightly to make a story flow better or be funnier. In this case, the Skipper was actually wearing tube socks and tennis shoes, which somehow made the resulting almost-nudity even worse. And no, there was no Red Hot Chili Peppers tube sock fig leaf thing going on here... the Skipper's little buddy was right out there in the open.

So anyway, if things go well, I will be getting my $10 back. Unfortunately, the NIT pool is not operating under the same rules this year, which is a shame, as I'm in dead last in that pool too.

In other news, I finally watched "No Country for Old Men". Apparently I am some sort of communist, as I seem to be the only person in America not fully enamored with this half-finished crock. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, and said it was "a masterful evocation of time, place, character, moral choices, immoral certainties, human nature and fate". While I liked some parts of it pretty well, it fell way short in a bunch of ways, not the least being that the movie was exactly 20 minutes too short.

Warning: If you haven't see the movie yet, I'm about to totally ruin a few parts, but in a totally generical manner that won't give any clues until you watch the movie. (That's right, I just said generical.)

#1) Netflix identified the movie as being 2 hours and 22 minutes long. Seeing as I fell asleep the first 3 nights I watched it, I was determined to finish on night 4, and was wondering how they could wrap the movie up in 20 minutes when all of a sudden the screen went black and words started rolling. Bullshit. Either Netflix or the Coen Brothers owe me 20 miunutes, and it better be good.

#2) The way that the guy did the thing to the people? The non-standard way that left those other guys wondering? The thing that was really hinted at being a crucial factor or a significant part of the deal, that Tommy Lee Jones sorta figured out but maybe he didn't, that turned out to be nothing? Yeah, Bullshit.

#3) The way that the main guy, no, not him, the other one, how he did for first 2/3rds of the movie but the he didn't, not at all, because he was dead in a hotel room (whoops, slipped a little on that ), that was Bullshit too.

#4) The way that the other guy not from Bullshit #3 was all of a sudden that guy and not that OTHER guy, that was Bullshit tambien. (bullshit in several languages is serious bullshit).
#5) What happened to the heroin? And as long as I'm asking, what happened to the heroine? Bullshit. Though it is neat to have the opportunity to ask the same question of the same movie.

On the other hands, there were a few sweet shootouts, and the bad guys was pretty freaking badass. In conclusion, though, I would strongly recommend that you go rent "Fargo", and when anyone asks how you liked that other piece of crap, just keep repeating how great Steve Buscemi was in it...

Friday, March 28, 2008

No Bandanas Allowed!

So I walk into the gym yesterday afternoon, and immediately notice a new sign... I am a sign reader by nature, and always notice signs. I notice the Easter menu at the Cumberland County Fairground Cafe which includes "Rost Pork", I notice the Brunswick Maine Dunkin' Donuts "Coustomer Parking Only" sign, and I definitely notice signs at the gym, which invariable include "ect." at the end of lists.

This new sign was an update to the old Gym Rules sign. The gym has always prohibited certain attire; no boots or jeans are allowed in the workout area, as the boots track in mud and the jean rivets rip the vinyl seats. They also prohibit cursing (poor manners), yelling (duh), chalk (messy), and cell phones(please, do shut your trap you yappy bitch. If you can hold a full conversation while on an exercise bike/treadmill/ellipical machine, chances are you're either an Olympic athlete or you're not trying hard enough, and by the looks of you, I'm guessing the latter. Remember, Chatty von TalksTooMuch, spandex is a priveledge, not a right.) Anyway, the new rules include these two gems:
  1. No bandanas.
  2. No hats with skeletons on them.

There was no further clarification, no discussion, and not even any threatened punishment for such nefarious wardrobe infractions. These new rules brought to mind a few obvious questions... for one, bandanas, or does it apply to all bandanas? Is the bandana ban only for head-worn kerchiefs? For instance, what if you are part of this jaunty crew? (thanks to Tree for enriching my life with this picture... read more about this absurd photo over at The Canyon Treehouse.)

Are you no longer allowed to wear a bandana on your ankle if you are the token ethnic dude in the golf-rock boyband? If a busload of old Russian grandmas wearing babushkas show up eager to pump some iron, will they be turned away? And what if for some reason you decide to dress like a cowboy at the gym? The authenticity of your outfit will already be significantly diminished by the rules against boots or jeans, but a cowboy without a bandana is like a... um, a hat without a skeleton.

Which brings me to Rule #2... can I still wear shirts with skeletons? Pants with Skeletons? Socks with skeletons? Thongs with skeletons? Bandanas with skeletons? Oh, wait, Rule #1, I forgot. What about hats with just skulls, or other collections of bones, but not complete skeletons? Are those still Kosher? What if my hat has a skeleton wearing a bandana? Is that like double secret probation? What if I walk in wearing any of these fine duds?

Will I be arrested, just scorned, or (gasp) not allowed to buy really expensive smoothies from Vince?
I did a quick internet images search for "skeleton hat", and came across this:
I must say, after seeing this hat, I have to agree with the new rule. I know that my physical fitness would surely be impaired by a hat like this, so it really is in everyone's best interest to not wear skeleton hats.
Oh, and please wipe down the machines, treadmills, equipment ect. when you are done. Thanks you , the mgmt.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dang Hood Done Popped Up

I've had a few inquiries as to whether my hood actually popped up Dukes of Hazzard-style at 50 miles per hour. Yup. It sure did. This is what a hood might look like after such an event:

Strangely enough, it doesn't line up quite right ever since.

Those of you with an eye for the finer things in life might have noticed the sweet maroon interior. That's right, sports fans, sweet maroon velvet, sweet maroon velour, sweet maroon carpet, sweet maroon plastic, and sweet maroon corduroy as far as the eyes can see. Wood-grain details? You better believe it. Radio with AM and FM? You betcha, and throw in a cassette deck for good measure.

Emergency brake light on all the time? You bet it is? Why? Because that is how I roll. Also because I snapped the e-brake line a few months back and the pedal just hasn't been the same ever since.

This sweet rig also offers power windows, one power door lock, and cruise control. I've never used the cruise control, because using cruise control on a 20 year old truck with a faulty electrical system ranks right up there near the top of the old Sketchometer... certainly an 8, maybe as high as 9.5 depending on the traffic and road conditions. I thik the big bundle of wires that aren't connected to anything under the hood might have somethinng to do with the electrical system not quite meeting current CATNEYA* standards, but what do I look like, a freaking electrician?

*CATNEYA is the Carmaker's Alliance To Not Electrocute Your Ass, a fine upstanding consumer safety group dedicated to making cars that aren't prone to delivering large doses of electricity whenever a user touches a certain metal part, typically a door handle or body panel.

Today's blog is brought to you by the letters FU & IRS

I successfully finished high school.
That should be all it takes to be able to do taxes each year.
That was my battle-cry as I launched into this year's tax season. And seeing as how I have roughly 8 years of post-high school education and have been working in a high-tech industry in the 15 years since high school, I also decided that I should be able to just do the paper version easily enough. Why should I spend the $45 on some dumb tax program when the paper version is free? So I picked up the papers down at the Post Office, and sure enough, a cursory review of the paper forms made it perfectly clear that I can't even fake my way through that nightmare.

I was hoping for a "welcome to Tax Hell; please start by writing your name on line 1", but instead, it seemed to jump straight into deferred interet free annuities from 1098-INT with divested sheltered bracket yields. I read that line and immediately got a nosebleed. Upon further review, I didn't see the place to check off "$13.75 per paycheck left after mortgage and minimum payments on credit cards", nor did I see the "once rolled loose change and returned soda cans to avoid bouncing the mortgage payment" option, so I elected to bring the paper forms directly to my Vermont Castings filing cabinet, where I securely store all my important documents in a humidity-free 451° environment.

Step two was to swallow my pride and buy TurboTax. Rather than run down to the store and pick it up, I decided to downlad it. I tried first at Circuit City or Best Buy, where it turns out you have to pay extra for the priveledge of not getting a CD or shiny box... umm, no. I'd expect a discount for the virtual purchase, but no, they try to get a "convenience fee". In my mind, if online porn is cheaper than a real life Spitzer concubine, then downloaded software should also be cheaper than packaged software. Anyway, I bought it direct from TurboTax with no download fee, and I was ready to rock, assuming of course that "ready to rock" means "ready to spend a frustrating several hours in a mayhem of missing paperwork, boggling directions, and totally inadequate software".

Long story short is this: Wifey is a teacher, and CT teachers contribute to a private/state retirement plan instead of Social Security; TurboTax, however, doesn't like this plan, and would prefer that I just send an extra $3,000 off to the IRS.

Short story short is this: I cursed a lot and then quit.

I'm still undecided as to how to proceed... I don't see why I should need to spend $200 at H&R Block after spending the $45 and many hours doing it myself. I'm currently of the opinion that if they want my money so bad, they should come and take it from my cold dead hands, but I think that might result in me becoming someone's bitch in a federal lockup, or even worse, getting audited. Speaking of prison...

After that tax nightware, it was off to the dog pound to pick up FatHead Houdini 1 and Fathead Houdini 2 who dug under the fence again yesterday and got carted off to the big house in the back of of a black and white. That copper car had the SCMODS apparently (State & County Municipal Offending Dog System). After bailing them out, I walked them for a while, and then kept them in since I haven't yet fixed the hole in the fence. Sure enough, within 10 minutes of being home, they had peed a small pond-worth, dumped a 3-pound pile that stunk up the house instantly, and puked all over an Oriental rug. As I was cleaning the three excementory joys, one of them went into the office and bumped something off the desk, which caused a small avalance, thereby disrupting the Karmic balance and knocking a large framed photo off the shelf., which shattered all over the floor.

All in all, it was not an excellent way to spend a hookey day off from work.

On the upside, when I become old and cranky, I can grumpily tell young'uns about how when I was their age, I had to walk barefoot across broken glass in order to do my taxes each year. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Location, Location, Location

Today I shall offer you a glimpse of my professional world... you should feel very lucky that this blog is not produced in smell-o-vision or printed on scratch'n'sniff paper, as my current location is not without odorific dangers. My "office" is a pretty typical 6.5' x 9' cubicle with a wraparound desk surface. I have a computer with a crappy monitor. I have a calendar and a periodic table of the Elements. I have few pictures of my exceptionally cute kid and puppy. Other decorations include my NCAA bracket (12 out of 16 so far, just slightly better than average but not quite as good as a sick monkey with a fistfull of darts), an early map of northern Europe that has lots of neat sea monsters on it, and an early Japanese map that has a cool dragon print as the map border. I was thinking that the dragon border might make a cool tattoo, but I'm still trying to figure out what should be in the middle, because the only thing more absurd than a fat white suburbanite with a dragon tattoo is a fat white suburbanite with a dragon tattoo that surrounds an ancient Japanese map showing tidal wave imacted areas of Japan.

Anyway, moving on, we see a print of MacArthur's Universal Corrective Map of the World. MacArthur was an Australian cartographer that got tired of getting the geographic shaft (different than a geograophic or magnetic axis), so he reoriented the map with Australia at the top center. North up is an arbitrary society-enforced practice, not unlike Valentine's Day or the need to wear pants. All are total bullshit, says me. Speaking of things that don't quite make sense to most people is my Employee of the 3rd Quarter, 2007 plaque.

Here's where location becomes important... here's where life gets stinky. Moving further to the right, we se the entrance to my cubical. Thirty-six inches away (CT State Fire Code minimal hallway width) we see the entrance to the men's bathroom. It is a single seater, which means the door does not automatically shut.

Because I work at an engineering firm, I have some reasonably intelligent coworkers; a bunch of engineers, some surveyors, a few other scientists, all generally smart and technically adept (with a few notable exceptions). However, as a group, they seem to lack either the olfactory prowess or the common decency to understand that all which doth come from within is not always suitable for dispersion throughout the office, nor is it enjoyable to those within noseshot.

In other words, when these bastards unleash an unholy destructive explosion of such sheer bowel magnitude as to crack the floor tile, they rarely have the decency to keep the door shut and the light/fan on. The combination of door shut/fan on is essential for safe clearing of the airspace... I have learned the hard way that leaving the door shut without ventilative assistance is in fact far more dangerous than just leaving the door open. If you have ever seen Backdraft, you know what I'm talking about. The stench rolls and tumbles and gathers force as it sits behind closed door, waiting and gathering strength not unlike Voldemort in the magical book series "The Longest Fricking Movies Ever Made That Would Be Awesome If They Weren't Four Hours Long", now available on a three DVD set per movie. And as soon as that door opens and adds oxygen to the seething tumbling force, the ass-stench explodes with such force as to blow papers off my desk, smudge my glasses, and reduce my monitor resolution to 800x600. One time it even rebooted my computer, which then started up again in Safe Mode. It has definitely affected my eyesight, and I think I am probably sterile as a result as well.
Now at the risk of ruining your day and or maybe causing you to lose your lunch, I have to make one other comment: apparently these stinky bastards are incredibly environmentally conscious too, as the fear of wasting water must prevent them from considering the concept of a mid-explosion courtesy flush or a post-explosion auxilliary flush to finish the job. Well, it is back to work for me... I better get some things done before the post lunch series begins. I wish you all a pleasant day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Damn, yo, exact change required, bitch!

Two quick items:
1) As I was walking to the office storage room, I passed by a friend, and we exchanged our typical greeting. He asked me, "'wassup, yo?", and I responded, " 'tsall good mang!". He is from the sticks of eastern Connecticut and collects antique tractors, and is so white that he doesn't even tan. I tan occassionally, but am also pretty culturally sheltered when it comes to urban culture. I can't quite figure out how this greeting evolved, but it is interesting how mannerisms and phrases travel. For example, I was well known for the buzz phrase "that's hot" many years before Paris totally stole it. Ask anyone. Bitch...

2) The other day I made a quick stop at Home Depot to buy two PVC plumbing parts. The total was $2.23. I shook out my wallet, and out fell two dollar bills, a dime, two nickels, and three pennies. Damn, exact change.

The next day, after a trip to the ATM and another errand, I stopped at Subway... I reached for the debit card, but decided to check the cash reserves... crikey, another perfect amount.

A few days later, I picked up Chinese food for a few guys at work. One guy tried to hand me four pennies to cover the tax. I promptly threw the pennies backwards over my head into his office... the prick was trying to slough his loose change on me, not gonna happen. Anyway, I arrived at the restaurant, pulled out the wad of bills that folks had given me and the wad of bills and change from my wallet... and I was three cents short. Karmic ass-kicking, part 1.

And then, on the way back from the restaurant, my not-quite-shut truck hood popped up Dukes of Hazzard style at 50 mph on a busy road. It bent the hell out of the hood, too. Strange that a 20 year old truck would be prone to bending after a minor incident like that... karmic ass-kick, part 2.

A Disturbing Revelation

Generally, I really hate cats. I hate their aloof attitude, their general scorn for people, and they way they treat people as servants. I also hate that they make my lungs swell shut and my sinuses bleed, but I think these factors are only minor contributors. I also dislike cat people in general because they tend to share a lot of characteristics listed above. I believe that this world is generally populated by cat people and dog people. There may be a few genuine "animal lovers", but I am pretty sure that these folks are really just open-minded dog people. No matter how hard people try, dog people just don't mix well with cat people.

Anyway, I also tend to hate IM-speak, the ridiculous phrase-ology that people use while IM'ing or texting, things like LOL for "laugh out loud" or ROTF, "rolling on the floor", or ROLFMAO, "rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off". These aren't terrible, but some IM-speak is just gratingly obnoxious.

My feelings about cats and IM-speak have become conflicted lately, as a friend told me about the lolcats phenomenon. Wikipedia, take it away: "A Lolcat is an image combining a photograph of an animal, most frequently a cat, with a humorous and idiosyncratic caption in broken English referred to as Kitty Pidgin, or lolspeak."
Most of these funny images are of cats in unusual poses or with funny phrases, and much as I actively dislike cats and baby-talk/IM-speak, I find a lot of these lolcats to be snort-soda-out-your-nose funny. One of the first was the "I can haz cheezburger?" lolcat, with other popular themes involving monorail animals and the ceiling kitty that watches you do things. Several of these have inspired their own websites, including http://icanhascheezburger.com/ (BAD LINK FIXED, sorry) which has roughly a thousand of these images, and is growing by the day at roughly the same rate as gas prices. A lot of these are really good once you accept the fact that you have to read the text in your head as if you were congratulating a baby on an extra full diaper.

I think the shark one is particularly awesome. That's all for now...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Weekend at ManCamp

Picture, if you will, a place, a place that represents almost everything that being a man is all about. Think about everything that Maxim would be about if they weren't a bunch of cologne wearing high fashion pretty boys with $1000 watches. Think 40 acres of Maine forest, a big old house with about a dozen bedrooms, a couple of big dogs, a couple of big horses, and a fully stocked woodshop. Think having a near-constant cramp in your ribs from laughing so hard. Think bigscreen HDTV with a gnarly sound system, a Playstation 2, a Playstation 3, and a Wii. Think a 70's vintage motocross motorcycle named Killer because it has no brakes. Think potato cannons, paintball guns, turkey fryers, motorcycles (with brakes), and model rockets that deploy almost catchable eggs with a cash prize to the first person that either catches the egg or breaks a bone during an attempt. Most importantly, think about the kind of friends that you'd give a kidney to in a heartbeat without hesitation, even though you know they'd probably do something gross with it. That is sort of what ManCamp is all about.

Anyway, this visit’s adventures included hauling firewood through waist deep snow behind a monstrous draft horse, hauling gallons of maple sap to the maple syrup still, and hauling major ass in this sweet offroad racing game on the PS3. The horse is freaking huge, but he is generally pretty well mannered, and very rarely stomps people into mushy wet spots. They feed him steak, meatballs, and human growth hormone which is why he is so big. The guy you can barely see behind him is about 6'9" and 450 pounds, if that gives you any idea of the scale. This should give you some idea of the snow that remains in coastal southern Maine. In open area, it may only be a foot or so, but in the woods, it reaches three or four feet... In some spots you can almost walk on the surface, but then the next step you plunge in to knee deep or deeper. Given the ease with which Ike the Horse pulled that sled, I am pretty sure the HGH is working.

It was a great escape, even with a three and a half hour drive on each end, including a solid hour and a half dealing with Masshole drivers. I arrived home with the feeling that I’d been gone for days, when I’d really only been in state for about 40 hours total. I was eager to return to the bathroom renovation projects I had abandoned last week and to see my family again, and actually wasn't dreading the Monday morning return to work.

It is too hard to convey all that ManCamp represents, so instead, let me end today’s blog with one piece of road trip advice… it is best not to keep your pee-jug in the same cup holder as your drink. This is especially true if you happen to be drinking a tasty beverage in the same kind of bottle as your pee-jug. I was engrossed in the Howard Stern Show on satellite radio, and had the jug in hand with the top off when some unseen force guided my eyes downwards. ‘Twas not Diet Pepsi staring back at me, my friends. ‘Twas pee.

Divine Intervention saved me this afternoon, and kept me from the unspeakable. Miracles happen if you believe…

Friday, March 14, 2008

Almost Ran Myself Over...

Sorry folks, been a bit swamped with life in general as of late, so I do apologize in the delay since my last brain vomit of a post. Since then, I have tiled my bathroom floor, plumbed the shower, and fixed my hunk of shit truck again, which resulted in a second degree burn to a finger. I know that it is a second degree burn because wikipedia told me so, and wikipedia holds all the knowledge that this universe has to offer. It is basically eveything that Douglas Adams was envisioning when he described the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in his book called, wait, what was it, oh yes, that's right, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

If you haven't read it in a while, you should. I'm going through it again and it is simply great.

Speaking of burns, it turns out there are six degrees of burns, not just the three you hear about. Wikipedia describes sixth-degree burns as "the most severe form, are burn types in which almost all the muscle tissue in the area is destroyed, leaving almost nothing but charred bone. Often, sixth-degree burns are deadly."

Wow. Thanks for the clarification. Burns that leave nothing but charred bone may be fatal. Hmm... do you think? Is that why you don't see many charred skeletons down at the market on Sunday morning ?

Anyway, here's my piece of automotive advice for the week: If your hunk of crap truck won't start, it may be the starter relay... so pop the hood, and try arcing the positive and negative using a screwdriver... the spark may be enought to smack the relay back into working mode. Apparently the relay can get stuck in an "on" mode so it won't connect to allow the starter to kick. However, there are two very important caveats to that process:

1) make sure the ignition is not in "start up" mode... if it is, the truck may start and slowly run you over, which is a really embarassing way to die or get horribly injured.

2) after massive amounts of electricity run through the screwdriver, it will get hot. Hot enough to give a second degree burn (see above). Apparently this is the sort of thing that a fellow might forget just after being almost run over.

Stay tuned for next week's account of a weekend at ManCamp...