Wednesday, December 31, 2008


So long!
We wish you well.
You told us how you weren't afraid to die.
Well so long.
Don't cry.
Or feel too down.
Not all martyrs see divinity.
But at least you tried.

--Eulogy by Tool

Let this be the ode to 2008. I'm not familiar with harsh language or the proper method of wielding it, but I have to get this out; 2008, I don't like you. Go away. Stephen Colbert brings a frightening prospect to light with this Threat Down. In short, the International Earth Rotation and Reference System Service has announced the addition of another second to 2008 to "keep clocks in synch with the Earth's rotation". 2008, I don't know if you heard this before and if you did then you're a bigger dick than I thought, but please, Go. Away. There's even a big party planned for your send-off tonight. The whole world will be celebrating. That's how much nobody wants you around. Of course, you'll probably find someway to stick around through the first quarter and possibly even the second of Oh Nine, but I, and everyone else are here now to warn you, don't mess with '09. We're not sure if we like this new kid yet or not, but we're willing give them a chance rather than put up with your constant expectoration on all things we enjoy. Bon Voyage '08. Hopefully we'll look back on all this and fondly reminisce about the time we went slumming. Hopefully.

2009, welcome. You have some small expectation shoes to fill. Just don't kill our friends or economy or soldiers or housing markets or auto industries or financial institutions and we should get along just fine. To everyone else; I hope you've had a good year and will raise a glass with me in send off of the past one (we shant mention its name). Happy New Years guys!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Season's Happy Holidays Greetings Christmas!

I went to the store today to purchase wrapping paper because, I guess that's what people do this time of year, purchase wrapping paper. I'm not 100% on the reasoning behind it, but I think it has to do with capitalism and open source markets or something. Also, the store didn't have any presents left for me to buy for people, so everyone on my list this year is getting wrapping paper, and not nice, rolled-up-on-a-tube wrapping paper either, I'm going all out and turning the wrapping paper into tastefully designed origami...boulders. Merry Christmas! I found some very pleasant looking paper, green with nice gold lettering that said Merry New Happy Christmas (I think it was in the clearance bin for a reason). Very plain, simple the kind of wrapping paper that would make a great gift crumpled up into an origami boulder. Or so I thought. That's about the time I got home and You Guys! The gold lettering was glitter! Not cool wrapping paper marketing team, not cool. Now it looks like they filmed an episode of The Girl Next Door at my complex. The stuff did NOT stay contained in my little one bedroom. It is, quite literally, everywhere. Like, I hadn't even been to the office today and I went in to wish the staff a Merry Christmas and there was already glitter when I got there! Seriously, you guys, if you have any enemies that you would like to give christmas presents to, I suggest wrapping them in paper that is covered in glitter. Talk about sinister.

I'm off to plug in all my electronics that'll be making the trip with me tomorrow to the Windy (and I presume at this point Frozen Solid) City. I've been seeing headlines all day like "Thousands stranded in O'Hare" and "O'Hare cancels over 100 flights". These are not good headlines to read when one is traveling to O'Hare in less than twelve hours =\

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Like father, like son

The older I get the more and more I'm convinced I'm destined to become my parents. Both of them. Thanks to the combination of genetics and a malleable young mind I have the laissez-faire attitude of Pops and have a love for (and of) annoying family members like Ma. I even found myself loudly commenting, with no one around, on the situation playing out on my tv screen (classic Dad behavior). And just last week I found myself advising my sister to do her homework as opposed to going out (vintage Mom). Don't get me wrong, I love my parents. They made me who I am. Without question. But that knowledge makes me wonder who I'll become. Will the next generation see me as socially conservative as I see my parents? What is the natural progression of social values anyway? Is there one? Anyway, I'm becoming more of a cantankerous old man every Mom.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

and then I found five bucks!

The recurring theme this week seems to be randomness (think people showing up at your cube saying such things as, "How's it going, Doug?" or all my clocks needing to be reset) and as such, we pen this homage to some of the more persistent random uprisings like:

What ever happened to bird flu? or SARS? Weren't they supposed to be the end of the world? Or was that Mad Cow, weird birthmarks, or diabetes? Maybe it was some other communicable disease, who knows.

I'm fairly certain at this point that my bike has some crazy-magical powers. It's most impressive being it is both a conversation starter and killer, generally it goes something like this.
"Man, traffic was a bear coming in and parking was a cougar. Where do you park?"
"Oh, I ride my bike."
"That's cool, so you leave your car at home?"
"No, I don't own a car."
"Oh, that's neat, well, I'm going to go over here and discuss with colleagues modes of transportation that involve engines and, likely, more than two wheels. Hasta"
Other powers the bike has are barely worth mentioning like its ability to travel almost 4 miles in 5 minutes (what time is it anyway?) or the invisibility I'm granted as soon as the cheeks envelope the seat (how else can I explain NO ONE SEEING ME). You hear it all the time 'he came out of nowhere, honest' Well, he came out of nowhere because he was riding a bike that made him formica'n invisible!

Twice in the past week I've shampoo'd my hair without getting it wet first. The most embarassing/funny/odd part is that it took the better part of three minutes to figure out what was going on the second time I did it. It was early. Leave me alone.

I woke myself up the other day because I rolled over to hit the throttle on a space ship that could do light speed and would put me forty-seven years into the future in nineteen seconds. The day went downhill from there.

I woke up once sometime last week, went through the morning routine - breakfast, teeth, vitamin, made lunch, drank water, started riding my bike to work and realized I wasn't that cold then woke up...about forty minutes late...and I was cold. The day went downhill from there.

I woke up Monday. The day went downhill from there.

Anyone reading this should be stoked for fantasy baseball and should want to play with me only to be part of the coolest league name in the history of fantasy baseball leagues...that I have commissioned.

If your boss says something like 'hey, heard you applied for that job that opened up, that's great, if you need a reference let me know, I'd be glad to do it', is that a good thing, or a bad thing? Now that that application is sure to get torpedoed I guess it's time to send off the rest of the apps. That sucks, I kinda wanted that job too, oh well, c'est la vie.

Oh yeah, I'm trying to teach myself French. So far so, um, bon?

Sometimes I think QC and qwantz are spying on me. Not all the time, but there are moments where it's like, "Hey, I just thought that not fifteen seconds ago!"

My fantasy football team is better than yours. The End.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Road Home

From Oct Wis 08

'Tis the time of year that many people's thoughts turn to family, vacation, travel, or GIGANTIC HOUSES they want their parents to buy them for Christmas. I am no exception, though I hold no delusions regarding my parents' mansion-purchasing ability. For the past several years I have found myself antsy at the prospect of a new calendar, and so far this year is no different. Whether it's skimming down the slopes of A-Basin, having a snowball fight, or curling up in some sort of Bears paraphernalia reading a book and drinking cocoa, my mind has taken its leave.

The real challenge looks to be maintaining sanity when Spring arrives and the rest of the country defrosts, flowers, and blooms, and holding on to the last shred of motivation I have to go to school. I don't mean to sound as if I don't enjoy this time of year. I do. I really do. It is a time to reflect on all that I have; a job, good friends (even if they all sound as if they're leaving), plenty of food, supportive family. It's especially nice to have a family connection. While I hear everyone else complain about spending time with their family, I look forward to spending as much time as I can with mine. Yeah, they're loud and obnoxious, but they're smart and entertaining too...and they make some pretty tasty eats to boot. I always look forward to The Road Home.

From Oct Wis 08

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oil spill in the sky!

I realize rain does not normally constitute a bloggable event, but this is Phoenix. We're talking about a place that just a few years ago went from October to February without so much as a hint of rain. The day before Thanksgiving? Rain. Hold on, let's try that again, gang. The day before Thanksgiving?! RAIN!! Better. Good not great, we'll work on your enthusiasm later. On a seemingly related, but probably completely non-sequiter note; Sometimes those in charge of all that karmic energy give you some back. Sometimes it's good, like finding that extra $5 in a pocket or stepping off a curb funny but just sort of stumbling and looking like an uncoordinated giraffe instead of breaking an ankle. Other times it's bad, like pulling a muscle in your back while playing basketball a couple days before a big holiday break, or having your boss call out and put you in charge. Anyway, I get my good back in what I consider to be very small amounts. Like today, I had been planning on taking the bus for the past week instead of riding my bike and Karma was kind enough to not only NOT rain on me yesterday as I rode home, but to also wait for a day when I would be riding the bus to rain. Look, Karma, I appreciate the gesture, that really was very nice and considerate of you, but I have to confess, if you're reading, I'd like to save up whatever positive energy I manage to accumulate and cash it in with a phone call from the UN (see previous post) or the long-promised promotion here.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous morning at sixty degrees and rainy. This is weather I think most of the country would kill for except maybe Seattle...something about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Here are a couple other pictures of downtown Phoenix on a rainy November morning.

Monday, November 24, 2008

nervous ha-ha'ing

You know that feeling in your stomach that you can't help but laugh at? It's that feeling you have when you get really good news and realize that the reason it's good news is because it's about a bad situation. Like reading a bottle of Enablex 'Guaranteed to prevent bladder leaks for 24 hours' ha-ha, that's great! but in your mind you're thinking "I'll bet the 25th hour is a nightmare AND I still have a leaky bladder *FROWN*". Or going to the emergency room to hear "because of the pain associated with this procedure your co-pay will be halved" ha-ha, excellent! except 1.) you're still in the ER and 2.) there's more pain on the way. I think the word for it is...bittersweet. Those select moments where the only good news is that there is no more bad news (at least for now).

My bittersweet moment today came as I was paying rent. My lease is up Dec. 31st and I went to the office today to pay the final month's rent and discuss with MsDub (who, by the way, is just about the best leasing agent/office manager out there) my options. First a little back story: I would really like to escape Arizona. I have considered taking the AEPA and getting certified to teach so I can bail, but I'm not there yet, I consider that to be Option: Final. Ideally the UN would call me up and say "Aw shucks, you don't need to know French yet, we'll teach along the way, c'mon son!" and I'd be whisked away to a different hemisphere. I think the more likely scenario is that I get a job elsewhere in the states in some university's IT department (preferably someplace with some skiing, I'm looking at you University of Colorado at Boulder and Southern Oregon University). So why not get a job and hopscotch my way out of dodge? I'm almost done with my Master's and while it's an online degree and I don't have to be here for it, ASU is paying and leaving would change that (note: as long as I'm enrolled on Day One of the semester they'll cover the costs, so I could still be out by the end of January). Also, a new job recently opened up here that I may consider applying for, better pay, more challenging work, better title, we'll see. So I'm on the fence; I want to leave, but I'm not quite ready to ditch the free Master's degree and start over elsewhere unless it's something or someplace I really want. The bittersweet news of the day? All I said to MsDub was "My lease is up at the end of the year" she said "Oh my, already?! Well you can go month-to-month with no fee or sign a new lease with no increase since we haven't had any rent increases since you moved in."

That sound you heard where my eyelids narrowing into the most minuscule of slits as my brain tried to figure out what she was up to and my face tried desperately to conceal the joy at being treated like a person. You have to understand at my last apartment, we saw the rent go up $35 after our first six months then another $50 after our second six months AND we had a $200 month-to-month fee in addition to the increases. So to hear no month-to-month, no could have knocked me over with some sort of light, airy, tickle-inducing item. I left the office and felt a chuckle, a guffaw, a ha-ha welling up inside. This meant I had extra time to figure out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and when I wanted to do it. HA-HA, sweet! bittersweet, if you will.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


It's here! It's here! Remember that post about ten days ago saying I'd know more about the XO-1 and how it works in a couple months? Dear readers you should know better than to listen to any of my predictions. So today I present you with, The Unwrapping. Early next week I'll try to get a post of it in action with some thoughts on design and usability. I've booted it up and played a little (only about 20 minutes at this point) and I will say this, I'll be brushing up on my bash scripting this weekend. Some initial thoughts: it is small, I mean tiny, I knew it would be, but still crazy small and it's hard to type with giant sausage fingers this is definitely meant for kids. I didn't realize it had a built in camera or so much in the way of built in activities like chat capabilities, journaling, music creation and editing, and writing. It also wouldn't let me see the wireless I have setup in the apartment (I don't broadcast the SSID) and it didn't have a way to manually input it somewhere (another reason to brush up on my bash). It worked quite well once it was connected though, I need to figure out what kind of browser it's using, it seems to trim off a lot of embedded media (it's a good thing). It also has an ebook mode that lets it handle a lot like my Kindle, I'll be loading up a book in the next couple days to give that a test run. Until then, stay geeky my friends =)

Monday, November 17, 2008


The Bears losing on Sunday was:
a.) awesome
b.) lousy
c.) huh-wha?

Obviously the answer is b.), but that's just my perspective. It's amazing how often that word is used and I have no idea how to really apply its definition. It's the old "look at it from someone else's point of view", in the moment I can't do it. Later on I can analyze, and often over-analyze, a given situation, but while talking to someone? I guess part of that is empathy. It's hard not to be selfish and only think of how what the other person is saying applies to and affects me. I guess that's why I have so much respect for people that are able to read and react to people. These people can recognize the right thing to say and do, and perhaps even more important the right thing not to do or say. Sometimes people need to vent, sometimes people need help, other times they might just need a second opinion and therein lays the true value of people-reading. Ever try to fix something or give help to someone that just needed to get something off their chest? I don't advise it.

It's all about perspective, point of view, lenses. For example, I love windy days. It's stormy, some clouds overhead, the gray sets in - like mood lighting, the smell of rain in the air, birds struggle to find a secure perch before the storm, and the wind whips through my luxurious hair. Except that someone is going to have to clean up all the debris afterwards. How had I never thought of that before? The grounds crew of my apartment complex must hate windy days. How many other things do I enjoy that make other people's lives more difficult? Wet, heavy snow is sure to ruin a plow driver's day. Getting computer components delivered the grotto probably doesn't do much more than annoy the UPS guy. Ordering my double-cheeseburger plain seems likely to agitate those cooking it up, not to mention slow down the rest of the process and make the people behind me wait even longer. I guess it's all about lenses...and it's taken me a long time to recognize I even had any on. What else don't I know?

This post was:
a.) awesome
b.) lousy
c.) a great cure for insomnia

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wish List

Ah, what to do with a wonderful day off in the middle of the week? It's such a gorgeous day here in the desert; mid-70s, sunny, warm, not a cloud in the sky, this is the reason I moved here...the 110-degree summers, not so much. A nice walk through the neighborhood kicked off the day, followed by some cleaning of dishes, vacuuming of carpets, and washing of laundry all with The West Wing Season Two playing in the background (obviously we're setting up a giant WW marathon for my upcoming four-day weekend). Oh, and why not blog about your random, day-off activities, I might even start Twittering.

Anyway, we've made it past Halloween which means, if I understand things properly, we've entered Christmas territory and it's time for me to begin my wish list for Santa. Recently I built a computer for a friend, The LoneKnight. I was approached by LK about a month ago and asked "If I bought the parts would you build me a computer". After a few minutes I had my drool under control and was ready to start researching, I'll spare you the really boring details and just delve into the mundane. Needless to say, we put together a machine capable of possessing SkyNet and walloping DeepBlue at chess all while safely playing Supreme Commander (or StarCraft 2). What are the specs you ask? Why, I never would have told...except you asked so nicely.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor
Power Supply: Rosewill 530W
RAM: Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Video Card: Galaxy 96GGF6HMFEXX GeForce 9600 GT 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported
Case: Rosewill Wind Ryder Dual 120mm Cooling Fans and Mesh Design Front Panel

So, yeah, quad-core processor, 4 gigs memory, 9600 GT series vid card and total cost was ~$730 (cue song; *I'm...dreamin'...of a*). Oh, and it came with a FREE copy of Assassin's Creed. How totally sweet is that? So I'd like to add my friend's computer to my wish list, as well as a new job, new relationship, new bike, new car, and a twelve pack of Leinie's Nut Brown. Thank you Santa.


Monday, November 10, 2008


Finally, a post about neato tech stuff, and served with a side of philanthropy to boot! The One Latop Per Child foundation is offering another Get One Give One program starting next Monday, November 17th. This year's GOGO program is being coordinated through Amazon in an attempt to limit the shipping problems that plagued last year's public offering. More info on the program here: and more info on ordering your very own here:

I missed my chance at one last year by about two weeks, this year, I'm first in line. It's an intriguing design and idea. The laptop itself (the XO-1) is setup with mesh networking and Wi-Fi capabilities. Basically that means it can see other XO-1s and devices with mesh capabilities (standard 802.11s) and communicate with them to create an ad-hoc network. If one of these devices has access to a wireless internet signal, it can use its Wi-Fi connection to provide internet access to the whole network. The idea is to bring internet access to rural children in developing nations. The operating system is a version of Fedora with the Sugar GUI and meant to be used by children of all languages, so it uses pictures and symbols to represent what is necessary. I'm still not clear on exactly how it works, but that'll change in a couple months once I have my hands on one.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Ever been chatting aimlessly with a group of friends when you hear yourself spit out some advice and you think, "Wow, I should really give that a shot, that's some good advice"? I do. All the time. Why? I haven't the slightest idea. I suspect it has something to do with me being a complete idiot, or maybe it's the Persistent Head Trauma Theory. What is it about being on the outside looking in that makes it so easy to diagnose our friends' problems, but makes it so difficult for us to stop rationalizing and listen to our own advice?

On the topic of eloquent speech I don't know what happened but somewhere along the road I lost the ability to form coherent small talk sentences. This loss is most noticeable around attractive women, but it also manifests itself in everyday conversation with friends, co-workers, and gym acquaintances. Some of the more entertaining tidbits;
at the mailbox of my complex a young woman says
"Geez, they stuff twenty pounds of junk mail and two pieces of mail I actually need"
The response?
"Yeah they really keep the recycling business". Smooth.
Conversation with my ridiculously hot neighbor after a night of drinking
"Man, I'm just counting down the hours until I'm home in bed"
Thoughts Mr. Suave?
"Yeah, me too"
"I mean, my bed, not your bed."
"Not that it isn't a comfy bed. I mean it felt nice that one time I sat on it."
"Um, I'll talk to you later...I'm going to bed."
Discussing the upcoming vote for Prop 102 (defining marriage) with some co-workers
"If you were gay wouldn't you want the same rights as straight people"
"Psh, I'm only gay in my dreams"

I'd seek out a speech therapist but I think it's likely I'd just make inappropriate comments about how 'therapist' breaks down into 'The Rapist'.

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's a string-a-long!

Like a sing-a-long except it's a solo by one person while everyone else just lets them think they're going to join, but never actually do. I'm starting to wonder if flakiness is genetic. It really seems like some people just don't want to say no or even I don't know. A yes from this group means no unless they're standing right in front of you and you're asking them to join you at that very moment, and even then they'll excuse themselves to go to the bathroom and you won't hear from them for five days. Holy hell, just say you have plans, or don't feel like going out, or dammit! wrastlin's on an' I a'int never miss that wrastlin'! Speaking of wrestling, Smackdown just started and all I could think of was, "Oh boy, grown men dressing up for Halloween and duking it out. Awesome!" Anyway, being strung along sucks. Whether it's work dangling that carrot or a date that never materializes or an ex or your favorite website that never updates or a friend that never seems to be available for a beer, they must all share the flaky gene. Which is weird cuz they all have such great skin...

Friday, October 24, 2008


In spite of it being fall and everything in nature going into its hibernation stage, the concept of wholeness is something that seems to be sprouting up quite a bit lately. The most recent presentation came from a lecture by Jane Fonda I attended last week. The Women and Gender Studies Program brought her to campus as part of the Women of the World lecture series. It wasn’t a fantastic speech or anything, but she made some insightful and thought-provoking comments and not just about gender.

Her main focus was that, as a society, we start socializing our children very young into “appropriate” gender roles. Girls play house, secretary, and tea party while boys play with cars, erector sets, and sports equipment. These observations by themselves aren’t terribly eye opening, but the next part was; to fit these roles we ignore parts of ourselves. We take what society tells us to be and how to behave and we turn that into a piece of our puzzle and force it into our personality. She used a word, vibracated, that I can’t seem to find in any dictionary that she used to mean “the separation of head and heart”. She used this in reference to the socialization of young boys; don’t cry, be strong, don’t show emotion, etc. That made me wonder if this separation of heart and mind might be beneficial. I don’t know that it is, but I still wonder. She also relates the stories of her youth; privilege, celebrity status, and expectations, and how it took her being 61 and single before she started to feel whole.

My contribution to this is merely an extension of this idea. As a child we start out whole, we are comfortable with who we are. You can see this in action every time a parent blushes from an innocuous child’s question or in the grocery store, near the candy. Eventually this wholeness, this sense of self-security is replaced with doubt. As we are socialized we realize that other people have a set of expectations for us, and every time we are corrected we worry about what else we might be doing wrong. We begin to take pieces of ourselves and leaving them behind. Like a puzzle, we want to be the image on the box, we want people to be able to look at us and know what they’re getting. Our adult life is spent trying to recover the pieces that had been cast off as an adolescent. We want so much to be whole that we try any of the pieces available to us; work, hobbies, things. Some people are fortunate enough to finish the puzzle, the rest of us are stuck looking for…

Friday, October 17, 2008

...upright and locked positions

Do they really still need the "no smoking" light on airplanes? I mean, it's been at least twenty years since that was allowed, right? And why the hell can't I be leaning back in my seat when we're taking off/landing/crashing into Tempe Towne Lake?

Speaking of out dated announcements, they could probably do without the "beware, items stored in the overhead bin may have shifted during flight". If there is one thing that isn't moving during the trip, it's the luggage that's been stuffed into the overhead bins. Especially now that airlines have started charging as much as $50 for two checked bags. Think they're really making that much extra money? Consider this, on a flight from O'Hare to Madison there were at least fifteen bags that had to be checked at the gate. Think any of those were charged the "checked" fee? How could they have been?

In all honesty, I love flying. The options are limitless. I can get to the gate early and work on a laptop or read my Kindle. I can make friends in the terminal. I can learn all about the person next to me. Or I can fall asleep as soon as the plane taxis onto the runway. I find the last option especially useful.

My last flight was a wondrous adventure on United/TED. I had so much room I could have performed the River dance and thrown my hands in the air like I barely even cared. They served a delicious roast as part of a four-course five-star meal and finished it off with a pot about the mile high club! The flight attendants were pleasant young women that were easy on the eyes, not at all miserable dried up old piles of itchy skin just dying for their next shot of heroin. The captain was a jovial fellow that insisted every passenger get their turn in the cockpit and perform their choice of a barrel roll, loop-the-loop, or nosedive. Billy Idol was even on board. He helped another passenger re-connect with his love interest then performed live right on the plane with this fellow who I guess was some sort of singer. Oh, looks like we're approaching our destination. Time to come out of the clouds, Reality Runway is straight ahead. Time to end this dream and return your seats and tray tables to their...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lasting Impressions

So, let's start this blog off with a cheesy, sentimental, introspection post. If you were to travel a path which you knew your friends would be traveling later, what drawings would you leave behind so they knew you had been there? You're allowed to use words, but it's more fun to use pictures only or maybe a few esoteric letters that only your friends and loved ones would recognize. Admittedly this is not a novel idea, it came after listening to an Iron & Wine song, The Trapeze Swinger (lyrics...and address of full song, here). The lyrics are "my dear, but if i make the Pearly Gates i’ll do my best to make a drawing of God and Lucifer, a boy and girl, an angel kissin’ on a sinner, a monkey and a man, a marching band all around the frightened trapeze-swinger".

So what kind of graffiti would you leave on Heaven's Gate? The more I thought about the question, the harder it was to pinpoint something all my friends would recognize as uniquely me. I suppose the Chicago Bear 'C' logo on a computer monitor might work, a few months ago a drawing of Cole with a trash can on its side and its contents scattered would have sufficed. It's brutal realizing you're not as self-aware or memorable as you thought you were, but it also provides some incentive to make everyday a new experience.