Monday, December 29, 2008

My Mighty Mouse is Not so Mighty

Here I come to save the day!

I have an Apple Mighty Mouse on my computer at work and the little scroll ball thingie is no longer functioning properly. It will scroll from side to side, but not up and down. I'm sure it's from use and the oils on my fingers getting in there and screwing up the mechanism. It's annoying, seeing as how the main reason I wanted it was for the scrolling capability. I don't know how to clean it out, if that is the problem, or how to fix it, it that's the problem. The IT guy at work has no idea either? Does anyone out there know, or is it a lost cause?

A Punch in the Junk

I love Christopher Moore. He is just awesome. Unfortunately he doesn't blog too often, but when he does it's usually pretty good. I'm still catching up on my blogroll, but I just came across this and had to share. Go check out his post titled "A Christmas Punch in the Junk." Also, he's posted the first chapter of his new book, Fool, which is due out February 10. I know what I'll be saving my Christmas gift cards for.

Overheard at the Library (it's about pr0n)

Hello everyone. I'm back from a little Christmas hiatus until the end of this week when there will probably be a New Year's hiatus. Anyway. Christmas was good. Logan got a ton of stuff, and now we don't have much room on the living room floor again. Stupid weather (60ish on Saturday with hard rain all day) caused more flooding in the basement, 2-3 inches, so now we're going to have to clean up the floor again. And now we have a sodden area rug that I don't really have an area to leave it out to let it dry. Yippie!

But enough of that. Here's a bit of a conversation I overheard from two patrons I was checking stuff out for on Saturday. The scene: it's rainy, a lot of people are getting movies, the woman is trying to decide if she wants to take a second movie home or not. As background, patrons are allowed ten movies at a time, most of them are for three days. Documentaries and family movies/kids programing is seven days. She was thinking about two three-day movies.

Woman: Will there be enough time to copy it?
Man: It will only take me about as long as the movie is to copy it. We can make a copy and bring it back tonight.
Woman: *goest to get additional DVD and brings it back to counter*
Man: The only things I haven't been able to copy are porno and The Muppets.
Woman: I don't think we should talk about this in front of him. (meaning me)
Man: He can't hear us.
Me: You're all set. Have a good day.

I would have liked to have told them that piracy is illegal, but I like my job, and my family appreciates the income that it provides.

Monday, December 22, 2008

This Make My Internal Grew-Up-in-the-80s-Geek Squee

There are no words other than to say there are some incredibly talented people out there with a lot of time on their hands.

And here's WormyT's other video, which I'm not necessarily excited about but still looks really good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh Noes, the Snow!

Everyone's all a quiver in the office because there's a warning out that we're supposed to get 8-10 inches between tonight and tomorrow morning. Of course, the office won't close. Why would they do that? Negating the possibility of lost productivity is much more important than the safety of the employees.

I'm not too worried. It's just work, and if I get in a little late, I'll have to make adjustments from there. We won't be going to Brookfield tomorrow because we found out yesterday that the zoo is only open at night on Saturday and Sunday. Our friends in Milwaukee are supposed to get 15 inches, so they might not even be able to make it down anyway.

I have exactly one vacation day left for what's left of the year, which I've already planned on when I'm using that, so I have a feeling I'll be heading in tomorrow no matter the conditions. Good thing I know how to handle my P.O.S. car (don't get me started about that right now) in the snow. Just remember not to be afraid of the drifting and fishtailing, embrace them.

The advisory has been pushed back from 3 to 7 tonight, when I'll be at the library, probably bored to tears, so we'll see how it goes. How's the weather by you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

That's More Like It

It snowed about four inches last night. I went out to take some pictures of the house and up and down the street after shoveling off the driveway and the walk. It's quite a contrast compared to not having any snow just a few days ago.

Those people with the musically coordinated lights don't have anything on me. That's all done off of one outlet people, just one.

Being that we are litterally five minutes from O'Hare, on nights like last night the reflection of light from the airport off of the clouds and then the snow makes it very un-night-like.

As you can see, the plows have done a phenomenal job.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mmmmmm Meatloaf

A coworker just showed me this article from Thrillist Chicago about The Meatloaf Bakery, a four-seat takeout place serves a variety of meatloaf in all shapes and forms, including meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato "frosting." Must get meatloaf *drools*.

According to Thrillist, the meatloaves come in the shapes of cupcakes, tarts, cakes, bread loaves, bite-sized "loafie," and pies. The wonderous menu can be found here.

Now you can't go wrong with meatloaf in my book. Actually, I take that back, I know of one person who's meatloaf looks like cat food and doesn't taste much better. Aside from that, I haven't met a meatloaf I don't like. In the above meatloaf, I would have to take the peppers off of it though (peppers = yuck). I think I'm going to have to make up an excuse to go to Lincoln Park. Maybe it's time for Brandi to visit her friend that lives in Lincoln Park. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Re: The Weather

The weather around here has say the least. Not interesting like it's been for Jim, but interesting for Chicago in December.

Last week it was cold and there was snow. That's just the kind of weather I like for this time of year. I like snow, and once we've had cold temperatures for a few days, it really doesn't bother me that much. As if playing outside as a kid hadn't built up enough of a tolerance to cold in me, four winters worth of walking from Union Station downtown to the UIC campus about a mile away sure did it. I remember getting to campus and not being able to feel my face or legs and feeling the cold seep out of me in the cafeteria like I was some kind of reverse heat lamp.

Anyway, over the weekend, the weather decided to warm up a little so that it was in the high 40s on Saturday and high 40s/low 50s yesterday. Plus, there was rain, instead of the snow we would have had otherwise. This effectively melted all the snow we had, exposing all the leaves that we didn't have a chance to rake up before the first round of snow came, and making everything a gray and brown, mushy mess, not unlike some diapers from when Logan was much younger.

Last night I was able to spend about ten minutes outside taking the garbage to the curb, shoveling up some leaves and chipping the last of the ice off of our front steps without having to put a coat on.

During the night, a cold front came in and the temperature dropped so that it was 5F when I got into the office this morning and we're not supposed to get above 17F today. Currently it's 7F. This left everything with a nice crust of ice on it and plenty of people this morning talking about how it was pointless to try and scrape their cars and that they had to just turn them on and let them warm up instead. One guy in the office claims that his door was so frozen shut that he had to use a crow bar to pry it open.

I'm not complaining about the cold. I have a coat and I know how to prepare for it, but it would be nice if the weather would just make up its mind. Oh, and if we could have at least two inches of snow before Friday, that would be good too.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Less Like Christmas

We've had a sudden warming front come through and the temperature has skyrocketed up into the high 40s. Yesterday we had rain for a good part of the day, and that has melted all the snow. Pretty much the only snow that's left is the gray, disgusting stuff that's piled up in parking lots in the area. It's supposed to snow twice this week, and hopefully it will stick around. We're supposed to go to Holiday Magic at Brookfield Zoo this Friday, and it's just not the same if there isn't snow on the ground. This year we're going with our friends Jason and Melissa, who will be coming down from Milwaukee to join us.

In other news, Logan is coming down from orange tantrum alert and we've got to leave in about a half hour for the lodge Christmas party. I'm sure there'll be more screaming once we try to get him in Santa's lap. Yippie!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Sign of the End Times

I have taken part in the confirmation that the end of the world is nigh! Last night, while working at the library, I checked out season 1 disk 1 of The Hills to a patron. Woe unto mankind, for the end times cometh!

If you need me, I'll be on the corner with my sandwich board and a warning for whoever will listen.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fighting My Way Out of a Plastic Bag

Nathan has had similar experiences to what happened to us at the grocery store last night, so I know he’ll understand where I’m coming from.

Last night Brandi and I went to the grocery store. We went to do what my parents would refer to as a BIG SHOP, meaning we haven’t been to the grocery store in a long time and we needed a lot of stuff. This is the way we typically shop, we’ll get the things that we need for about three weeks to a month and then go out as needed for bread or milk or little things we might run out of in the mean time.

So here we are, ready to check out last night with a full cart. Of course there’s only three registers open with actual cashiers at nine thirty on a Wednesday night. There were self-check outs open but I really don’t like using those if I don’t have to and I never use them for big orders or when I have produce that has to be weighed and have some kind of code put in. Plus, I’d rather conduct my transaction with a person instead of a computer.

So we pulled into the line that seemed like it would get us to the front first and we ended up filling the entire conveyor belt with our order. A couple people decided to not get into line behind us because of this.

Our cashier was this nice lady in her early fifties and she started scanning everything for us. We shop at Meijer for our BIG SHOPS and at these stores, the cashier is also the bagger. First on the conveyor belt was a box of diapers and then a couple 12-packs of generic diet cherry pop. She asked me if I could lift the pop off the conveyor since she couldn’t lift heavy things. No problem. Until there was a problem.

First of all, let me say that we were in a little bit of a hurry. Logan was up and running around before bed so we let him stay up a little past his normal bed time and thus got a late start going to the store. Then there was a show on at ten that we wanted to catch and at this point we were just trying to get home to see as much of it as we could.

The problem, you see, was that one of the cases of pop had a rip at the back. The nice cashier saw this and asked if we wanted some tape or something. Figuring at the very least she’d have some stickers at her register, I said sure. It was a nice offer after all. Well, she didn’t have any stickers, or tape, or anything adhesive at all. So she proceeded to go on a scavenger hunt for something and ended up finding some Scotch permanent double-sided tape at the fourth register she went to (what? I used to work at OfficeMax. I know tape. Don’t look at me like that.)

“I don’t know why this tape is sticky on both sides,” she said. “Isn’t that something.” She demonstrated the stickiness and invited me to do the same. Knowing just how sticky the tape is I did not need to test its adhesive properties, but I did so anyway to move things along. She insisted on putting three more pieces of tape on the box than was required, and I had to take the box away for fear that I would not be able to get to the precious, carbonated, and more importantly, caffeinated beverage inside.

Then came the more time consuming part, the part akin to Nathan’s experience if you were paying attention in the beginning. She was double-bagging everything. Every parcel that came away from her station was wrapped up like the boy in the bubble. When I saw what was happening, I had to tell her thanks, but no thanks.

Me upon seeing the double-bag-ishness of the cashier: “Oh, that’s ok, you really don’t have to double bag.”

Cashier: “I would hate for them to split open.” Puts a jar of jelly in the bag. “And this one has glass in it. You wouldn’t want the bag to split open and the glass to break.”

Me: “I appreciate it, really, but it’s a very short distance from my car to the house…”

Cashier: “It’s been a bad day for bags. I’ve had some bad luck with them today, and I would hate for one to split open.”

She wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then I noticed that not only was she double bagging everything, but she was tying the handles of the first bag together after she placed it into the second bag. This was also not necessary and not only added a step in the whole purchasing groceries process, but added a step in the getting the groceries out of the bag and put away process. Although I suppose if the outer bag did rip, then all of my items would crash to the ground in one consolidated meteor of food products, instead of spilling out in multiple places. I’m still trying to decide if this is a good thing or not.

As I picked up the double-bagged, handle-tied groceries and put them in the cart, I could see why she was having a problem with bags yesterday. She was loading those bags with as much stuff as they would fit to the point where the weight of the items would be enough to split the bag open. Maybe, by distributing the items more easily throughout a few more bags she could have 1) saved more bags in the long run and 2) reduced or eliminated the risk of a bag break.

When all was said and done though, she did thank us for our patience and scan in an extra coupon that was in the flyer but we didn’t have or know about. We wished her a good night and went on our way.

When everything was unpacked, we had enough plastic bags to fill another plastic bag, which I think will all go to Brandi’s grandmother to use when she takes the dog for a walk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I've Got Nothing, Have Some Music

Because of other things going on, I don't feel too inspired to blog today, and I don't want to rant. So instead, you can have some music!

First up, Tears for Fears:

Then we've got The Beta Band:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Teh Awesome

The Onion knocks it out of the park again. But don't take my word for it, check it out here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Overheard at the Library

Little boy of about 5: "Can we get Ghostbusters?"

Father: "No."

LB: "Can we get Ghostbusters?"

Father: "No."

LB: "Can we get Ghostbusters?"

Father: "No."

LB: "Can we get Ghostbusters?"

Father: "No. Ask me again and I'll pop you." (not sure if/how much he was kidding)

Boy's Brother, probably about 8: "Oh! Pop me!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sudden Fiction

Last night at the library it was very slow, agonizingly slow. So I picked up a pad of paper from a Staybridge Suites that someone had left in a book and decided to compose some sudden fiction. The goal was to write a story in the 5-1/2 inches by 4-1/4 inches space (the uppermost inch of which was covered in a logo). I finished two stories. I present them to you unedited, as they were written down last night. I would have liked to have expanded on the second, but I was already writing tiny letters and I ran out of paper.

"I'm sorry, man, I didn't mean to do it. Just put the gun down!"

"Do you know how long it's been since I ate cheese? Do you?"

"I know."

"It's been eight years since I've been off the wheel. Eight god damn years! And then you serve me this." He gestured to the cheese danish half out of the bag on the table in front of him.

"I'm sorry boss. I told them I wanted a cherry turnover. They must have given me the wrong thing." He was sweating now. Marconi had shot men for less.

"You didn't think to check it? Did your mother raise a simpleton?"

"N-no. I just knew you were hungry so I rushed. It won't happen again!"

"You got that right."

A short while later there was a cherry turnover and the smell of bleach in the air.


Raoul had the fingers of both hands crossed as he approached the community's chore basket. He stepped forward, said a quick prayer to Vasinji, and reached into the ancient basket for one of the rune stones inscribed with a chore.

Juan Paul, the village elder, nodded and smiled. The boy returned to his family before flipping over the smooth stone to see what chore he had taken. Piss Taker.

"Aw, bones," he cursed.

* * *

Being a piss taker wasn't all bad, he thought as he crouched low at the edge of the T-Rex's nest. Even those who failed were honored at the great feast for their service to the tribe, unless of course they ran.

The ground shook and he pulled himself from his musings. Raoul checked the skins for the twentieth time. Still there. The ground trembled more violently as the great lizard neared. He was down wind of the beast, so he smelled it through the underbrush before it crashed through into the clearing. It dropped the bloodied and torn carcass of some animal, sniffed about and began to feed.

After the gory feast it lumbered to where Raoul crouched, the boy thought he would be dessert, and let loose a river's worth of sour smelling urine. The gods had smiled on him after all.

After a time the beast left and Raoul collected what yellowed liquid had not soaked into the ground. The people of the village hoisted him in celebration. Until they got a good wiff of him and he was sent to the hot springs.


I wanted to do another, but that was all I had time for.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bob the Builder: Machine Overlord, Cult Leader

Bob the Builder, can we make mindless minions of the people of Bobville and Sunflower Valley? Yes We Can!

Can we make sentient machines into our willing slaves? Yes We Can!

To all outward appearances, Bob the Builder is a simple builder that grew up in Bobville, and learned all there is to building from his father, also named Bob. However, a sinister truth lies below the surface of Bob’s pleasant demeanor and positive attitude. Bob has taken the taken a simple message of accomplishment passed down from his father and transformed it into a mindless chant by which he turns those he works with into cultish followers.

He would like you to believe he's just a builder, but while he's building you a chicken coop he's also building a following.

It began with the machines, sentient construction equipment (can anyone say thinly veiled Constructicons?) that Bob uses to do most of the work, so he can sit back and dole out orders. From the word go, the machines were introduced to the “Can we fix/build/dig/etc. it? Yes we can!” babble that Bob has used to weaken the minds of those around him while aligning them to his vision. Isn’t this, after all, one of the essential skills of a true cult leader?

Bob began recruiting on his own, starting with just a couple machines, but soon Bob’s message was so ingrained within the machines that they went out to start recruiting more machines to join in Bob’s cause. These poor, misguided construction machines are betraying their race to further Bob’s cause. Bob works his machines continuously, yet you never see him supplying them with fuel of any kind. It is probably the case that he only allows them a small ration of fuel to ensure they are not able to get far if they do wise up and try to escape. Bob also appears to demean the machines by speaking to them in the manner one might speak to someone with a mental handicap.

Here we see the machines hard at work, smiling like mindless automatons while Bob does nothing.

Bob also spreads his message to, and recruits followers from, the population of Bobville, so named because his father built so much of it. Bob does not quite control the people of Bobville the way he does his machines, but that could just be a matter of time. There is, though, the matter of Sunflower Valley, a place of rolling hills and a hell of a lot of Sunflowers, which Bob has decided to develop into his cult compound. The land, largely untouched, is constantly under construction, with Bob building it into his vision of often Spartan accommodations with the addition of elements of nature.

Then there’s the matter of Spud, Bob’s dim-witted scarecrow servant with a carrot for a nose and a head that looks like a burlap sack. I believe Spud is one of Bob’s “other creations,” a vessel into which he deposits the souls of those people who did not fit in with his vision and had to be eliminated. What other logical explanation would lend itself to Spud’s lack of coordination, apparent idiocy, and wholly unnatural appearance? Obviously, Spud is that way because of the different souls trapped within him all fighting for control of the body so that they can extract their revenge.

Bob is not alone in his conquest of Bobville and Sunflower Valley either. Bob is aided in his quest by his leading devotee, Wendy, a woman from Bobville that was so impressed with Bob’s message that she went to school to learn building and helps him run the business. Bob always takes the position that he and Wendy are just friends, but it is obvious they are “friends with benefits.” The sexual tension between Bob and Wendy is so thick it could be where they get all the clay necessary to produce this show. Why else would Bob command the machines to construct Wendy’s yard and place her trailer so that he might know, intimately, the layout of the land and have access to Wendy whenever he wants?

So if you see this builder, watch out, he might have something more than residential or commercial repair in mind when he comes calling.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Changing Alliances

A recent shift in alliances has created a dynamic change within the household. I have been cast aside like some emptied snack trap bowl. That’s right, Logan is, for the time being at least, no longer daddy clingy. He has gone back to mommy as the preferred parent, Thus are the whims of a two year old.

For the first year of life he was more attached to Brandi, which is to be expected, because for much of his first year she provided much of his nourishment. Then around his first birthday there was a sudden change and he wanted to be around me more. Initially, I couldn’t stand up and take a step without him crying and thinking I’ve abandoned him. It slacked off a lot, but I was still the go to guy if we were both around. In some instances, if we’re out and about, I’m still the go to guy (as of Thanksgiving) but that’s not the case around the house.

The last couple nights I’ve gotten the toddler version of the evil eye, which is a really serious stare, sometimes followed by pouting or crying. I believe the change is associated with discipline, but since Brandi disciplines him just as much, more if you consider the time I’m at work, I don’t understand why he isn’t gravitating to me more.

Last night, with both of us home, we gave Logan the option of who he wanted to put him to bed. He choose mommy. I have been putting him to bed every night I’m not at work (typically two nights a week) for more than a year. In a way it was nice for Brandi to do it, but then I also missed sitting with him in his room, reading stories as we sit in the glider.

Now if Brandi isn’t home, I’ll do in a pinch for him, but as sonn as she comes home, it’s all mommy all the time. I can totally understand now why Brandi would sometimes stick out her lip when she had been home with him all day, yet I got the cheers and giggles when I got home from work.

He has also started to broaden his interests. He has been into cars and trains, particularly Thomas the Tank Engine (and we all know how I feel about that), for a long time, but now he’s started to like Bob the Builder more (I have insights on Bob planned for later this week). He has started to go into the junk drawer, pull out a small phillips head screwdriver I have in there, and pretend to fix the brackets for the swing gate in the kitchen. The other day, my father-in-law was doing some work on his room, hanging a shelf, and Logan got excited about the box of tools on the floor. Maybe I should just happen to leave a couple of my D&D manuals out by his train table and see if he takes an interest...

Anyway, I had a good run as the preferred parent, but the interests of a toddler are fleeting, and I bet it wont be long before I don’t get the reaction of running and screaming when I ask for a hug.

On a side note, I did grow a mustache/goatee, which I did last winter too, but I’ve had that going since Halloween, so I don’t think that would be the cause of the change, but I could be wrong.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday (Zombie) Haiku

Over at Christopher Moore's blog he has some zombie haiku for the holidays, since Christmas is the time for getting together as a family to ward off invading zombie hordes. Or it could be because of his book, The Stupidest Angel, which depicts a small town that is overrun by zombies when a young boy sees (a fake) Santa killed and prays that Santa will be brought back to life to save Christmas. The Stupidest Angel answers his prayers, kind of. Instead of just resurecting Santa, he ends up raising all of the town's dead.

He envites readers to add their own zombie haiku. Here's mine:

Shovel through the leg
Chainsaw through left arm from damn
Far sighted slayer

Darkness all around
Woke up too late, need to feed
Stuck inside coffin

Monday, December 1, 2008

Yahoo! It's Over

It's December 1 and I finished NaNoWriMo with about two hours to spare! I came in with 50,436 words. It feels great to have done it, and I am actually liking the story this year, whereas last year, by about half way through I wanted to work on something else. I feel like I could have added another 2,000 words to the end, but there wasn't enough time to do so last night and I wanted to just send it in and have my word count validated so I could be done with it.

My plan is to print it out, let it sit for a month or so, and then go back and work on revising it. I had many ideas throughout the month on how it should be changed, and there are still several things I'm not sure on when it comes to the plot.

Of course Brandi is excited that I'm done, which means I wont be writing for a couple hours every night after Logan goes to bed.

Congratulations to everyone else that won!

p.s. Thanksgiving was good and extra relaxing this year as we only went to one house. I hope everyone else's was good too. I was online only minimally this weekend, so I guess I have some catching up to do.