Thursday, June 30, 2011

Full Of It

This was supposed to be a more in-depth story, but I was painting last night, didn't get much sleep, and have to be at CPR re-certification in 20 minutes. So, how about a little vignette of TMI?

I was 17 and still in high school, so I was living with my parents. It had been almost two weeks since I'd last dropped the kids off at the pool (dropping a deuce, defecating, going number two, if you prefer a different saying). Cue the abdominal pain. Appendicitis? Right area, but no fever. Head to the doctor. It's not appendicitis; not the right kind of pain. Order an x-ray. It's taken. I wait.

She calls me out of the room with a grin on her face. Everyone is obviously trying their best not to burst out laughing. Doctor asks when was the last time I'd gone. I answer. X-ray is put up on that light box.

Verdict: Full Bowels.

Fix: Take this new sample (read: not yet approved by the FDA) drug when you get home. Giant powder bottle. Mix one scoop with 8oz water. Wait an hour for it to start working.

Wrong! Wait 10 minutes then run your ass to the bathroom.

What They Didn't Tell Me: don't make any plans for the next 24 hours.

As if you needed proof, at one point it was confirmed that I am, indeed, full of shit.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Strange Land

I found myself wandering in a dark landscape that stretched out for eternity in every direction. The stars, it seemed, had burned out long ago. A lone band of light pulsed nearby and I walked carefully toward it. Upon further investigation, I found the light to be coming from beneath a closed door. The door looked like any other, non-descript in its making, no real texture or detail to its face. Odd it was that the door was free-standing, not attached to anything in particular. I circled around it but the door disappeared and I was looking through an archway, the light shining in one direction. Returning to the other side, the door came into view, the light continuing to flicker through the crack at its base. Taking a breath, I opened the door. What lay inside was much larger than it appeared from the outside. A vast hallway stretched out before me, lined with doors of every shape, size, and make. The floors above went equally as far, and they were all different as well. Each door had a name on it, decorated by the designer inside. Some were locked, some were in another language, and some required money. Many were free and open to all, inviting in design. Standing in the entryway, staring once again into the vast darkness outside, I closed the door on the dark and began my adventure.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's In A Name?

How about some culture this morning?

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy:
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,
Nor arm nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O be some other name!
What's in a name?
Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

As much as I want to go on a tangent and explain why many people think these two parts spoken by Juliet mean something other than what they truly mean, we just don't have that kind of time today. I'll give you a hint: it's the meaning of the word "wherefore" that trips people up. Move on? You're right.

I was doing a search for something at work and found this link which had some interesting facts about my name that I thought I would share with you today.

36% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names we looked at, 47.7% have a higher vowel make-up. This means you are averagely envoweled. – For some reason this reminded me of a conversation that took place during an episode of Scrubs. JD accidentally sees the Janitor's junk and sees a suspicious spot. JD convinces Janitor to let him look at it.

JD: "Well, it looks benign."
Janitor: (looks down) "Be nine, nine and a half."

People with this first name are probably: Male. So, there's a 98% likelihood you sweat just thinking of the price of shaver blades. – For the record, I don't sweat at the price of shaver blades, only because, against popular convention, I use the same blade for almost six weeks. This way I only spend $18 per year on razor blades.

Name Origin: Hebrew; Meaning: Jehovah Saves. – Yep, knew this already, considering it's Old Testament.

Your personal power animal is the Blue Iguana. – The Blue Iguana, huh?
Grand Cayman Blue Iguana
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGrand_Cayman_Blue_Iguana.jpg
Yeah, I can get down with that.
Your 'Numerology' number is 2. If it wasn't bulls**t, it would mean that you are supportive, diplomatic, analytical, and play well with others. A team-player, you seek peace and harmony in a group. – It's not my belief, but I have no feelings either way on the subject. Also, that's a direct quote from the site above and not my personal feelings on the subject. Although, if my power number is 2 and my birthday falls on the 2nd, that's pretty trippy.

According to the US Census Bureau, 0.436% of US residents have your forename and 0.0013% have the surname. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 17 Americans who go by the same name. – So there are 17 of me in the United States? I wish one of them would come to work for me so I can stay home and write or play video games clean or paint. Wait! Send two or three of the Me's here: one to work, one to clean, one to paint, and the real me to just be.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Mixed Tape

I spent part of the weekend with my laptop open, organizing my music files into their respective categories, and then alphabetized into individual artist folders. Why? Because I'm just that kind of nerd. In doing so, I found this playlist from 2007. I don't know why I made this list, but I'm pretty sure I never burned it to a disc.
I'm not one of those people that read into what a song says about you. However, I do subscribe to the Rob Fleming (or Rob Gordon, if you prefer the movie version) High Fidelity school of making a mix. "Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do's and dont's. First of all, you're using someone else's poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules." I don't really know if I succeeded in that here, but I can say that I like these songs, which is why they were put on a playlist together.

The Mixed Tape
1. The Dandy Warhols – "We Used To Be Friends"
2. Simple Plan – "When I’m With You"
3. Bowling for Soup – "The Bitch Song"
4. The Killers – "Mr. Brightside"
5. Counting Crows – "Big Yellow Taxi"
6. Elton John – "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters"
7. Three Doors Down – "Kryptonite"
8. Nickelback – "Hero"
9. Thirteen Senses – "Into the Fire"
10. Rolling Stones – "Paint It Black"
11. Concrete Blonde – "Everybody Knows"
12. Men At Work – "Overkill"
13. Nina Simone – "Sinnerman"
14. Ivy – "Worry About You"
15. Stevie Wonder – "Higher Ground"
16. Stroke 9 – "Letters"
17. Elvis Costello – "Veronica"
18. Lynrd Skynrd – "Simple Man"
19. The Faces – "Ooh La La"

So...what are your favorite songs? Or what songs would you include on a compilation?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Doctor Who: Double List Edition

I'm a huge fan of science-fiction and fantasy. It's been established, and will be reiterated from time to time, most likely ad nauseum.

A few years ago, I wrote an email to a good friend that detailed the items she would need to know before watching an episode of Doctor Who with me over lunch at work. She had never seen a single episode, and I was attempting to give her the essentials so she could jump in and watch one of my all-time favorite episodes (which is Series 3 (2007), Episode 10 : "Blink"). Since I'm always trying to find new converts to the Doctor Who series, I'm sharing two related lists today.


List #1 : What You Need to Know About Doctor Who Before Watching
¤        First and foremost, Doctor Who is known for its somewhat campy special effects. This is part of its charm. Enjoy it!
¤        The Doctor is a time traveler. More specifically, he is a Time Lord, a race of time travelers from the destroyed planet Gallifrey.
¤        The Time Lords all perished during the Great Time War. The Doctor was the only survivor. (I’ll contradict this later, but just go with it.)
¤        Time Lords have the ability to regenerate, so long as they don't die before the regeneration process begins. This allows an older or mortally wounded Time Lord to transform into a new physical form, complete with the same memories, but a different personality.
¤        His name is a mystery, and that is fantastic. People simply refer to him as “The Doctor.”
¤        The Doctor travels through space and time in his ship, The TARDIS; that’s Time And Relative Dimensions In Space. Also referred to as “The Blue Box” because of its appearance as a “Police Public Call Box.” The TARDIS has a chameleon device that allows it to blend into its surroundings. This device malfunctioned while he was visiting the 1950’s, and it locked in this state. He liked the look so much that he never fixed it.
¤        The Doctor likes to travel with at least one companion. The early companions were “accidental,” but the more recent ones elect to come with him.
¤        Notable Enemies include:
Ø  Daleks – a very war-like race of machines resembling a salt or pepper shaker, and their only purpose in life is to rid the universe of inferior species. Their most recognizable attribute is their metallic voice and their catchphrase, “Exterminate!” They are, by far, The Doctor’s greatest adversary.
Ø  Cybermen – a race a cyborgs, noted for their phrase, “Delete!”
Ø  The Master – a renegade Time Lord, and the greatest individual enemy of The Doctor.

I think that’s all you really need to know before you start watching. I’ve left some out so as to not spoil watching. For the most part, just knowing the above, and paying attention to what they say and what’s going on in each episode, you shouldn’t be lost. As the series took a hiatus between 1989 and 2005 (the exception being a (mostly) bad TV-movie in 1996), they re-explained a lot when they started the new series in 2005.

List #2: My Top Five Favorite Doctor Who Episodes
(Note: this list appears in ranked order)
1. "Blink" - Series 3 (2007), Episode 10
2. "Vincent and the Doctor" - Series 5, Episode 10
3. "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead" - Series 4 (2007), Episodes 9 & 10
4. "Rose" - Series 1 (2005), Episode 1 (the initial reboot episode)
5. "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways" - Series 1 (2005), Episodes 12 & 13

First, let me say that I like the original incarnations of Doctor Who, all the way from 1963 to present. However, if you want my favorites, these are them. Watch them all, though. They are fantastic.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Wag Of His Tail

I was six-years-old when Basil came to our house. I know this because of the house we were living in at the time. We had moved during my kindergarten year, so I know the story starts sometime after that. I was  standing in the dining area of the kitchen, when the back door was opened and he came scampering. His fur was black with little tufts of white under the chin and on his chest. That little tail was just wagging away.

Basil was a good dog. He would play when you wanted to play, snuggle when you were sick or just wanted to snuggle. He was, in every sense, a great dog. Sure, he had his accidents in the house, but the carpet had long been removed and hardwoods restored, so clean-up was usually easy unless he happened upon a rug. They wash, so move on. Over the years, there was nothing really remarkable about his time with us. I say that not to diminish the memory of him, but to simply state that he was a good dog, sometimes prone to barking at nothing, sometimes eating your food when you weren't looking, but nothing so disastrous that it sticks out like a human amongst hobbits. (Yeah, I said it.)

There was the one time he ran away though. We were all heartbroken when we let him out to do his business and he took off after something; could have been a deer, a squirrel, or a rabbit. All we knew was that he was gone. My mom put up signs as far away as the grocery store, a good six miles away. I don't remember how long he was gone, but he came back to us. Well, he was brought back to us. Somehow he had ended up at my grandmother's house several miles away, and she drove him home. The journey was not kind to him, and he limped getting out of grandma's car. Mom grabbed him up and rushed over to the vet. Despite the broken right leg—and lucky that he wasn't killed crossing highways and streets—he was in good health. One surgery later, he came out with screws and a plate in the leg. He walked pretty well after that, except during the colder months. It was, after all, Illinois and when it would start to get cold he would lick at his leg where the metal was, trying to warm it up.

After that, life was pretty uneventful for a while. He started showing his age around year ten when his vision started to go. Maneuvering the house was easy as we never rearranged furniture, so he just walked the paths he always walked. No one can tell me dogs aren't smart. If a blind dog can wander around the house not running into things—unless you've left it in his path—that might be a conditioned behavior, but it's still smart thinking. Unfortunately, around year ten, Mom work transferred us to Texas. It was also between my junior and senior year in high school, but that's another story. So, they moved and took myself and the dog with them; my brother had just graduated high school and was on his own by then.

That year in dog, and the few following years, were not good. Keep in mind that he's blind at this point, and doesn't know where he is or where anything is positioned. When he would run into something, he would shake his head just like you or I would, take a step back, turn slightly, and inch forward until he felt object with his nose. Once located, he would slide along it to guide his path. I like to think that he was memorizing paths, but in retrospect I don't think he ever had enough time.

And then I was off to college, leaving behind my faithful snuggle companion. Long story short—which included taking the summer and first semester sophomore year off, living with my parents, and working for Starbucks—it was sophomore year, spring semester. It was a Saturday night and I was in my school-provided apartment, hanging out with friends and drinking discussing the finer points of fencing before heading to a movie when Dad called. It was a little odd since he rarely called me. Mom was out of town, so I thought maybe he was bored. Plus it was before today's cell phones, so there were no text messages flying back and forth like now. The conversation was short and I was buzzed deep in thought, and he heard the chatter in the background. Go have fun, he said, I'll call you later. I didn't think anything of it.

Throughout my college career, I made it an art to take as many classes as possible both in and out of my major, and somehow during three years only managed one class before noon, excepting those four summer sessions where you had no choice. So, it was the following Monday and I was running late for class when the phone rang. Even running late, I grabbed it anyway, destined to trip over the long, twisted, spiral mess that held the phone to its base on the wall. It was Dad again. That's when he broke the news that Basil had died Saturday morning; while I was off at school; while Mom was out of town.

Dad was woken by a horrible gagging sound. One look and it was obvious that something was wrong. Dad rushed him to the vet, but there was nothing they could do. Stroke, they said. And that was that.

Now I knew why he had called Saturday. Dad had gotten off the phone and not told me so that I would have a good night. I'm not sure if this was good or bad thinking, but it's still not his fault what happened next.

I was quiet for a bit and he asked if I was all right. "No," I responded, "but I'll call you later. I'm late for class." I could tell he didn't want me to go, but I'd already missed too many classes; if I missed another, grade drops. So, I hung up the phone, grabbed my bag, and left the apartment. My keys were still hanging inside. Now, the doors of this school-owned apartment were rigged with those devices that automatically make the door close. I think ours was broken because the door closed faster than it should. Already outside the apartment, the door closing behind me, I made a leap with my right arm outstretched hoping to pop the door back enough to get back in. Remember I said the door closed faster than it should have any right to do? Things just can't get worse than your dog dying, right?

Falling off balance, I missed the door, my hand catching the door frame. The door—it of steel construction to prevent being kicked in and losing all of our stuff—slammed on my hand. It bruised and swelled instantly. But the door was open. I dropped my bag and called my professor; I wouldn't be in today; I'd bring her a doctor's note later that afternoon. I called Dad back; I was on their insurance, after all.

Snapped metacarpals three, four, and five; those below the joints to the middle, ring, and pinky fingers.

All told, the heart was broken worse. And there's no cast for that.

I still miss that dog.

Anonymous - "Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won’t buy the wag of its tail."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

May I Borrow That?

I cannot say with certainty that The Kinks were the first to utter the phrase, "I"m a Lover Not a Fighter," but it's The Kinks, so we'll go with them. I am not, by nature, a fighter. In fact, over the last thirty years of my life, I have been in only one actual fight that involved arms flying. It may also have involved an X-Acto knife during art class in 7th grade. If you've read my guest post over at Sunny Sings The Blues, the fight happened soon after David's death. Everyone dropped the issue. Even the other kid (though I suspect his mom (the school nurse) had something to do with that). This is not about that fight. This is the exact opposite of that fight.

Sure, I have been in verbal fights with people, but as a dedicated introvert, I internalize everything. I also subscribe to the Geoffrey Chaucer school of revenge when I take someone out in writing rather than verbally beat the ever loving shit out of them. That may sound bad, but I get along with most people. Everyone has there nemeses. Yes, that's supposed to be plural. This isn't about them either.

This is about getting to work yesterday. The best part about my previous cell phone is that is used the exact same charger that my current phone uses. As such, I don't have to lug a charger around with me, I just leave one at work and have the other at home. Until yesterday morning, I have just left it plugged in at my desk for ease of access. When I arrived at work, having left it plugged into the power strip atop my desk, it was gone. I looked all around, even checking every drawer and lockable hiding place, thinking it strange that I would have suddenly taken to locking it up. It was nowhere to be found. Phoning them up, I informed security that it was missing. I then set about pacing my phone use so that it would last all day.

A few hours later (I get in hours before almost everyone else), a co-worker brought my charger to me. Apparently her phone uses the same charging mechanism, and she chose to borrow it after I had left for the day.

Now, I can tolerate a lot of things from a lot of people. Yet, some people just get under your skin until you burst like John Hurt (WARNING: It's bloody!). This woman? She's one of those people. I won't get into the specifics as to why, but she just sets me off. Just ask to borrow something. Or put it back when you're done. You'll be happy to know that I did not rip into her, even as much as I wanted to do it. I content myself with a few private thoughts, this here blog entry, and making sure I lock up my charger at night. It's a silent warfare, I guess.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

We Be Rollin'

A moment of housekeeping. It seems we hit the 50 followers mark here at Le Nerd yesterday. So, a big thanks to all you readers and followers. You keep me going. Now that we're halfway to the 100 mark, I guess I should start thinking about what I can offer up at the century mark. Suggestions? On with today's story.

It must have been my junior year of high school. I know this because A) I could drive, and 2) I wasn't at that high school for senior year. There was a tradition amongst the music department, dating back who knows how far, to TP (or roll or wrap, depending on your native preference) our band director's house before the first snow. Okay, so it wasn't really tradition, per se, but it was fun as hell to try. We had everything in place, set to get him. I had busted up my knee and was on crutches, so I was the getaway driver.

Pulling onto the street, we killed the interior lights, left the back hatch of a friend's really old, white, station wagon open, and I sat with the car idling while they ran off with a few rolls. Except...

He was waiting. I watched from a distance as the first rolls went flying. The garage door started to open. This was not good. Out he came with the garden hose on full blast. The soldiers scattered, jumped into the back of the waiting car, and I sped off. A few blocks later we realized one critical flaw: Mickey was missing.

He had run in the opposite direction, so like any good pilot and commander, I circled around, keeping my distance from the scene, and picked him up. Again, no cell phones, so he's lucky.

However, the story doesn't end there. See, there was a reason he knew to expect us. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Know Thy Enemy." We let slip to one of the percussionists what we were up to, knowing full well that he would tell the director. Did you wonder why they only went off with a few rolls? It's because we had 72 bonus rolls awaiting deployment.

So, we went to a gas station, got drinks, and waited. And waited.

Nearing midnight (and curfew, hello!), we ventured back to his place. It was dark, but we knew he was home. This would have to be a strategic strike, quick and efficient.

Three holders, three throwers.

Rolls prepped (meaning we got the ends loose).

Fire at will. Fire at will.

The attack lasted less than a minute. All 72 rolls were tossed. The house was wrapped; the trees, too. We watched from the end of the block, but lights never came on.

VICTORY!

It started snowing the next day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Good Old Undergrad Shenanigans

I first arrived to college in my own car, a 1989 Honda Accord whose color was listed as "Seattle Silver." The only way I can describe it is the color of ocean water when you've just kicked up the sand below the surface; that combination of light brown with a sort of reflectiveness to it. There was no silver in that coat, other than that it was sparkly, just like every other standard paint job on a car. I pulled up to the curb outside my dorm, my parents just behind me in my dad's truck. Jumping out, my hormones are greeted by girls bounding toward me.

I'm in Heaven, I think. (Turns out the school's population was 70% female; bonus, and I didn't even know it before I committed.)

They were there to help carry my stuff to my new digs—a 10'x15' space I was to share with a guy from Pennsylvania. So, while they and my parents unloaded the cars, I went into the building to sign into my room. Two minutes later, I made the walk of shame back outside and requested my mom's presence at the sign in. Apparently I was old enough to go to college, but not old enough to sign myself in; I would turn 18 three weeks later. Thanks for that.

It had to added benefit of letting all those pretty girls helping me know that I was 17. Thanks again.

Now, I tell you that story to tell you this one. What quickly made up for the fact that I was not yet 18, was that I had my own car. This is always a good thing. The school was pretty isolated—30 minutes to Grand Rapids, 90 minutes to South Bend, 3 hours to Chicago or Canada.

Did I mention that I had a car? Excellent. Moving on.

Being a broke college student taking more than the required credit hours, I had no job. I had whatever I could talk my parents into sending my way. It was much appreciated no matter the amount. I was leaving the music building late one night when I stopped at the vending machine for a carbonated beverage. It was then that fortune made itself known to me.

Many soda and beer cans have a little engraving on them telling you that if you recycle the can in Michigan, you get a whole ten cents back. What many people don't realize is that when you buy said cans in the first place, the ten cents per can is tacked onto the price, thus telling you to recycle the can when you're done and get your dime back. That's nice and encourages (hopefully) recycling. I don't like playing by those rules. Back to the vending machine.

Situated next to the vending machine was a very large Rubbermaid garbage can with a hole the size of a 12-oz can cut into the top. Its intention was clear: drink your beverage and recycle it here. What I saw was: here's a 50-gallon, garbage bag-lined canister full of cans able to be recycled. Translation: take the bag and high-tail it over to Meijer as quickly as possible, recycle the cans, and claim the cash.

And I did.

It then became an enterprise for me. If you think about it, we were actually helping the environment by picking up every can we could get our grubby little hands on. "We" were myself, my roommate, and the two guys from the room next door. We split the cash evenly. How about that, huh? I didn't even take extra to pay for the gas. What a stand up guy, eh? The process went something like this:

Step 1: Four guys drive to the store; three bags of cans in the trunk, one in each passenger lap. (6 bags max)
Step 2: I drive back to our collection center; read: dorm room.
Step 3: Load up trunk, backseat, and passenger seat with bags of cans. Remember to lock car doors and dorm room on trips between the two. This is a critical part of the process. (10 bags max)
Step 4: Once loaded up, take them to the store and transport to the 3 guys hogging the recycling center.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2–4 until all cans and bottles are at the store. If none remain, skip to step 6.
Step 6: Once all cans are at the store, help get them into the machines.
Step 7: All cans recycled. Grab claim tickets, proceed to spearate cash registers to claim.
Beyond: Split the money; spend at leisure.

Our best take lasted from around 11pm to just after 5am. We netted just over $400. At ten cents per can, you do the math


We were men of leisure. And insomnia.

I still miss that car. The 2004 model that we have now is a behemoth compared to the 1989 version. The old one was more stylish and sporty with its two doors. I think the carseats make this one less sporty, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

30 Days of Video Games - Days 14–30

I'm realizing I never finished my 30 Days of Video Games list. I know I'm supposed to put pictures with all of these, but screw it, I'm just going to finish the list here in text format so it's off my to do list, with links to images. Enjoy, or not if it's not your kind of thing, and just ignore what is to come.


Day 14 – Current (or most recent) gaming wallpaper. - Concept art of the decayed Capital Building from Fallout 3.
Day 15 – Post a screenshot from the game you’re playing right now. - L.A. Noire
Day 16 – Game with the best cut scenes. - inFamous (PS3)
Day 17 – Favorite antagonist. - Father Karras, "Thief II: The Metal Age"
Day 18 – Favorite protagonist. - Fawkes, "Fallout 3"
Day 19 – Picture of a game setting you wish you lived in. - Fallout 3
Day 20 – Favorite genre. - Post-apocalyptic RPG (See Fallout 3 for example).
Day 21 – Game with the best story. - Heavy Rain
Day 22 – A game sequel which disappointed you. - Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords - So much potential, but Obsidian disappointed me so.
Day 23 – Game you think had the best graphics or art style. - Heavy Rain
Day 24 – Favorite classic game. - Depends on your definition of classic. Shadowrun for Sega Genesis
Day 25 – A game you plan on playing. - Thi4f (Thief 4)
Day 26 – Best voice acting. - Ron Perlman as Narrator in the "Fallout" series
Day 27 – Most epic scene ever. - This is just a ridiculous request. So, I opted for two great opening sequences. 1) Fallout: New Vegas for its great setup, and 2) Heavy Rain for its artistry.
Day 28 – Favorite game developer. - Bioware
Day 29 – A game you thought you wouldn’t like, but ended up loving. - Tiger Woods PGA Tour '10 I've never really been into sports games very much.
Day 30 – Your favorite game of all time. - Landstalker (Sega Genesis) - Still my go-to game when I'm bored at work. Wait...what? ;^)

Friday, June 17, 2011

I Am Qualified To Run A Mok, Okay?

Today is...well...

Let's start over.

It's crunch time for my actual life during working hours, so this will be short.

I've mentioned Kato before, and it seems that yesterday over at Pandorah's Box bestowed an award on me. The picture had some sort of delicious-looking strawberry cake on it, perhaps on cheesecake, or maybe shortcake, either way it looks scrumptious and now I've forgotten what I was talking about because all I want now is that cake instead of this bagel. Mmm...bagel...mmm...food.

Sorry? Are you still here? Oh, okay. I guess I'll follow the rules on this one. Seven random facts it says? All right, I guess.

1. I took the LSAT, but opted not go to law school because the trend was abysmal for new law grads.

2. Age 16 was a good year for me.

3. My DVD collection numbers greater than 700.

4. My book collection is larger.

5. Given the option, I would move to Versailles.

6. Some people require coffee. I require Red Bull.

7. Fuck peanut butter.

What? You didn't say that couldn't be vague, maybe with a little mystery behind them.

Now what? Tag other people? Fine, but this is really cutting into my quiet time. Tag, you're it.

Sid
Momma Kiss
Yandie, Goddess of Pickles

That's all I have in me today, folks. Have a great weekend. And if there are any other fathers out there, Happy Father's Day, gents.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Profiled

Profiling, defined as the extrapolation of information about someone, something, or a situation based on known qualities and previous experience. I'm not necessarily talking about racial profiling, but that is a subset of this issue.

I moved to the Chelsea area of Manhattan in August 2001 through a college internship program. That whole experience would take a few dozen posts to recap, so we'll save it for later. It was a pretty great and interesting time. Well, the internship and the city itself were great. Some historical incidents in September of that year made for a very tense environment, all things being equal. No, I don't want to talk about it right now.

In December 2001, my internship ended. About a week before my departure, a few of us were bored...so we shaved my head. Now, I'm not talking "pull out the clippers, take off the guard, and shave it down." No, we took a pair of scissors and started lopping off chunks of hair, as short as possible. I pulled out a new razor and shaving cream, lathered up, and shaved it down. One hundred percent, completely bald, people. We laughed, it was good times, and that was that.

A week later, I decided to give it a fresh-shaved look because I had not yet told my parents that I had shaved my head and was flying to their house to get my car and stuff. So, I shaved the head and face, leaving the goatee (which I trimmed up, thank you very much, I have standards). I donned my faux leather jacket from Hot Topic (swoon, right, ladies?), grabbed my two duffel bags, and caught a cab to LaGuardia.

And this is why I believe in profiling. It was a little like John Travolta in From Paris With Love, only not so chubby and without that scarf and whole Scientology aura (not that there's anything wrong with that).

From the moment I stepped out of that cab, someone was watching me. This cop—an actual NYPD, not a Rent-A-Cop—kept his distance, and I acknowledged his presence with a smile and nod. Because it amuses me, and because I guess I'm a bit of a dick when people are acting like assholes. Even more when their assholishness is directed at me. I stepped up to the check-in counter. Boarding pass in hand, they gave me further instructions.

#1 - "Please take your bag to that line." This is where they take that little piece of cloth and rub it all over your checked baggage and test it for, I guess, chemical residue.

#2 - "Please take your bag to that machine." Where they send your checked items through a giant machine for x-raying.

#3 - You stand in line to go through security. You empty your pockets, take off your belt, send your jacket and shoes on the conveyor belt line with your carry-on backpack. Step through gate. It doesn't beep. Clothed again, they take you and your backpack to a table where they swipe it with that little cloth again, and even though they just saw through your bag—which literally had a laptop, some DVDs, a change of clothes, and a book in it—they open said bag and rifle through it, dumping the contents and dropping your laptop. Packed up once again, you head for the gate, most likely grabbing a Cinnabon or a soft pretzel along the way.

#4 - Boarding process begins, your section is called, you get to the door, and they pull you aside behind a screen to search your backpack again and cop a feel. Dude was not attractive, but if he wants to touch my sac, at least buy my pretzel first.

And then I boarded the plane, read my book, had my in-flight drink and pretzels, and all was fine with the world.

Just saying: Because someone looks angry, they could just be tired or having a bad day or don't want to move away from New York City, so take it with a grain of salt. But don't be so condescending to suggest that people's personal perceptions don't directly affect how they perform their jobs. In any situation.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Story of Us

This one takes a bit, but please bear with me. I've already cut out parts of it for future installments, and only delivered the parts important to today.

It was the summer of 2000, and I was 19 years old. After having taken the previous fall semester off, for the Missed Transfer and Working at Starbucks, I decided to stay up in Michigan and take classes during the two summer sessions, not because I was behind on credits (I typically took 20-24 credits per semester during the school year), but because I'm a glutton for punishment.

However, classes during the May-mester were Monday–Friday 8–12, and the June/July-mester were the same hours, but not every day, which allowed for two classes at a time, if you wanted. Which I did because, again, I'm moronic like that. Actually, I just wanted to be done with school. Afternoons were spent either doing homework or playing frisbee golf or ultimate frisbee. More often than not it was the latter, hippie option. In order to get free housing for the summer, I opted to work for the summer theatre that used the college's facilities as a spotlight operator. Coincidentally, the June/July classes ended at the same time my contract for the summer theatre expired, so I put the majority of my stuff into storage for the month of August, packed up the essentials into my car, and was set to make the 19+ hour drive to Texas and visit my parents for a few weeks before the fall semester began once again.

So it was that I was in my car, road snacks and drinks in the cooler on the passenger seat, CDs in the glove box for easy access, my guitar in the back seat, and a few bags of clothes in the trunk. No, not dirty laundry; I've done my own laundry since before I turned 10 after throwing a fit that Mom had shrunk my favorite sweatshirt. She, in turn, taught me to do my own laundry, and all was right with my world again. Anydirtylaundry, I was in my car. I was not in the greatest mood because I was hours late leaving for the long drive. Backing out of the driveway, one of the guys I was living with came running out of the house, waving me down to tell me that I had a phone call. Again, still no cell phone to my name. The call was Mary, the crazy lady who ran the theatre, saying that she needed me to stay on for the second half of the summer season. I informed her that I was literally leaving town right that minute. She convinced me to come to her office just to talk about it. Can you smell it? That's the smell of desperation. And opportunity. To a broke college student, that means one thing: Money.

The drive was all of 6 blocks. Parking outside the theatre, I went up toward her office. Now, here's where it gets interesting, and a bit hard to describe. So, I sketched this picture real quick while no one at work was looking and scanned it in. It's rudimentary and not my best, but it'll do in a pinch.


Obviously, my path is in red. You can see that to get into Mary's office, you walk the length of her office and make a U-Turn. Once at the top of the stairwell, exited into the hall, I made the turn into Mary's office...

...and, quite literally, ran into someone sitting at the table just inside the door.

I apologized profusely, having obviously not expected her to be sitting there. She was fine, smiled, and accepted my apologies. Mary and I talked, worked out a stipend for the remaining six weeks, and that was that. However, instead of returning to my living arrangements, I went to see my old roommate from freshman year, as he was working for the theatre, too. I told him about this girl I just met. And I didn't even know her name.

Fast forward one day, and I receive a call that I was needed at the theatre for a picture. I went, and there she was again. We were properly introduced, chatted for a few minutes, the picture was taken, and that was that.

Go forward three more days. I'm sitting at a table on the sidewalk outside of the coffee/smoothie bar, headphones in, face in a notebook, furiously writing. Suddenly, I'm whacked on top of the head with a water bottle. Son of a bitch, there she was again. I've never seen this girl before all summer, and three times in a week we've run into each other. There was a guy with her, whom I recognized from the theatre. They had gone to undergrad together, and just graduated. I'll be honest, something in me sank a little when I saw them together. When they walked away, I stopped writing and walked off in the opposite direction, a little disheartened.

The next day, I went to drop something off for my undergrad advisor, and since the summer theatre used the college's theatre department and facilities, there she was again. That's when I did something extremely contrary to my personality. I assess all facts of a situation and then make a decision based on all possible outcomes. Everything I had seen told me that she was taken, unavailable, not really interested. So, what did I do? I asked her out, right then, on a whim.

To my utter shock, always internally prepared myself for being shot down, she said, "Yes."


Today we celebrate both our 9th wedding anniversary and our beautiful daughter turns 4.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It Was the Summer of '98


Before the age of rampant cell phone usage, people would go out after work, and if a call needed to be made, well, that's why people carried pocket change and located a pay phone.

In the summer of 1998, between high school and college, I worked at a Target store. To be quite honest, it was actually a lot of fun. Well, if you can get past the customers, the time I got smacked in the forehead by an opening register drawer, and the time I about took off a fingertip opening a clamshell packaging for a customer which contained the knife that sliced into me. Nothing quite like the feeling of a never-before-used knife slicing through your flesh and hitting bone.

Have you thrown up yet? I have.

Moving on.

It was a fun summer, and I met plenty of crazy people closing the store. I sincerely believe that it takes a special kind of crazy person to work for Target. Nothing against Target at all; it's actually one of my favorite stores, even after having worked there. By no means is working there anything like the movie "Career Opportunities" with Frank Whaley and Jennifer Connelly. Unfortunately.

Okay, yeah, it was kind of like that; just without Dermot Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney robbing the store.

FYI: All-star cast with additional acting by Noble Willingham, Barry Corbin, William Forsythe, and John Candy. Also, it was written by none other than John Hughes, which explains a lot about the characters and the way they talk. Seriously, you need to watch this movie.

Anymoviereference, back to my story. It was late one August night. We had just finished restocking and cleaning from the crazy-ass Back to School crap. If you think after Thanksgiving and Christmas is bad, you need to avoid the insane moms looking for school supplies for their kids. Messed in the head. Laura had been working there for a while before I started, but we became friends. Maybe something was there, but we would never find out. And here's why.

Resetting the store after Back to School rush took forever. It was close to midnight before we made it out the door. On the other end of the parking lot, behind some of the out buildings, sat Lewis Black's favorite health club in the world: The International House of Pancakes. They only served breakfast food, back before they started serving garlic bread and pasta and cheese sticks and all that other stuff. This particular night, Laura needed a ride home. Maybe this was planned on her part, or maybe not. We'll never know. Regardless, it was late and we were hungry. So, I drove us over to IHOP.

As we were both headed off to college in a week or so, conversation centered around that. I was heading back to the Midwest (a small school in Michigan) and she was staying closer to home at the University of North Texas. The way we were seated, she had her back to the entrance. So it was that I was facing the entryway when two police officers walked in. I noted their presence to Laura and we started to joking around that they were there for us.

Not two minutes later, these two gentlemen, guns holstered at their sides, were standing at our table.

Then they addressed us by name.

If ever there was a time to shit one's pants, that was it. (And even though I wasn't worried about it at all, I had that joke thought go through my head, "How old are you again?" Only joking; she was older than me by a few months.)

It turns out that Laura's mom had woken up and realized that her darling daughter was not home from work yet. Fearing the worst, she called the night operator at the store. From there, our shift supervisor, Randi, was woken from her slumber and conferenced in with this frantic mother. Leaving aside that it was just around 12:30am, I'm still to this day not entirely sure why she freaked out. They put her mom on hold. Since Randi had seen us leave together, she called my mom. And promptly woke her up, too.

Great. That's what I needed.

Maybe you're wondering how the cops came into the mix? Easy; Laura's mom called them before calling the store. So, when my mom suggested checking IHOP, Laura's mom called them again and they descended upon the breakfast haven.

Return to staring slack-jawed and wide-eyed at these cops. I threw down some money and we went outside. I drove Laura and her embarrassment home.

The cops followed behind the whole way.

Laura wouldn't let me walk her to the door. No kiss to be had. Way to kill the mood, guys.

Mom was awake when I got home, and only annoyed at being woken up. She knew that I would often go see a midnight movie or hang out with Ryan and play GoldenEye until the morning, and so wasn't worried at all. We had a laugh at Laura's mother's expense, and she went back to bed.

Laura was so embarrassed by the whole ordeal that she barely spoke to me for the last week I worked there. I did get a little going away note from her before I left the state, but she never returned my e-mails once I was gone.

The moral of the story: midnight breakfast might a fine date make if you're both into it, but make sure your mom's not a crazy bitch and knows when you're going to be late.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Break-In


I have a story to tell today, but before I do, I'd like to mention that I passed the next follower threshold: 42. At some point yesterday I picked up two more followers, helping pass the mark for the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything. So, thanks, and welcome. As I was reading a blog yesterday, I saw the question about what someone should do when she passed 200 followers. As such, I was thinking about what I might do when I reach that 100 mark. There are a few ideas floating around in this brain of mine, but at the rate we're growing here, I have plenty of time. Maybe I'll vlog, or perhaps I'll record some music, you never know.

On with today's little story.

As teenagers often do, I was not immune to the crazy stunts of youth. My accomplice was usually my friend, Mickey; not the mouse, but just as short. This is the same guy who finished three tours with the Army Rangers and almost two years with Blackwater. He now has arms the size of Redwood tree trunks, so I won't be pissing him off anytime soon.

The following took place with Mickey in the summer of 1995.

A little background on Mickey and his family first. Mickey's mom had divorced and remarried this douche named Owen. While not the worst d-bag example in the world, he was still odd. Sort of looked like "Buffalo Bill" from Silence of the Lambs. He owned a pretty successful dry-cleaning business. As such, his house was huge. Indoor, Olympic size swimming pool huge. No, really, it was indoor and awesome. It is also important to know that this house was on the edge of a nature preserve, so plenty of trees. This becomes important later.

Since neither Mickey nor I had a license yet, getting anywhere required riding a bike. Mickey had come to my house and we were going to ride up into town for root beer and comics. We live dangerously. Obviously.

Realizing he had left his money at home, we took the long way into town and rode by his house first. Upon arrival, the house was vacant. He didn't have his key; it was inside with his wallet. So, with no one home, no key, and the alarm on, we did what any teenager would do: we broke in.

So, Owen owned the dry-cleaning business which meant there was a large delivery truck parked in their driveway. The truck was parked a few feet away from the only single story portion of the house, which was the roof covering the pool area. Naturally, we scaled the delivery truck and made the three foot jump to the roof. Both successfully atop the house without incident, we followed the sloping crest up to the highest point and traversed the entirety of the house. Dropping down to the roof above the screened in porch, we found ourselves at Mickey's older brother's bedroom window. A few quick maneuvers and the screen was removed, allowing us entry to the house.

The second story windows did not have sensors for the alarm system, obviously, nor did the rooms have motion sensors. The only problem was that the time it would take to go from that room to the alarm pad to deactivate the system was greater than the time limit set on the system. Not to be deterred, this just meant crawling along the floor where it met the wall around the upper floor balcony to the stairwell. This would ensure not setting off said alarm. Once at the top of the stairs, making it down and to the keypad was tricky. Mickey had perfected the art. It was a slow process, but once he had slithered his way to the ground floor, he could leap up and run to the panel for deactivation.

Once cleared, we replaced the window screen, ate food, grabbed his keys and wallet, and exited the house. This part, for obvious reasons, was a whole lot easier; simply set the alarm and exit the house before the alarm went active.

Good times, and at least we didn't have to explain why one of us had fallen off the roof.

Kids, right?

What crazy heists did you pull as a child?