Friday, January 30, 2009

The Wii Fit is a Cold-Hearted Bastard

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but for Christmas we got a Wii Fit from my mother-in-law. This accompaniment to the Wii consists of the game software and this incredibly sophisticated little platform that can measure your weight and even the minutest shifts in your center of balance. There are a variety of “games” that fall into four categories: balance, strength training, yoga and aerobics.

When you create your account on the “game” it asks for your age and height, and then it weighs you and gives you a couple of balance tests to tell you what your Wii Fit “age” is. Your Wii Fit age is your body’s approximate age according to your actual age and how well your body responds to the balance and coordination games it gives you. I think the first time we used it, it told me I was 54.

The game also tells you, based on height and weight, your BMI and lets you know if you’re “underweight,” “normal,” “overweight” or “obese.” The I fall into the last category, unfortunately. It also adjusts how your avatar looks to reflect your BMI, so I’ve got a rotund Mii staring back at me. I was sure to thank my mother-in-law for getting us a Christmas present that tells me just how much of a fat ass I am.

The game encourages you to use it every day, but life happens and I don’t always get to it. Here’s our exchange from last night.

Wii Fit: Good evening mattw. Relaxing after a long day? (I know, I’m a dork and my online handle is the same as my Wii Fit identity.) I see you haven’t logged on for three days. You should really come back every day for the best results.

Me: Fuck you. I work two jobs and have a two-year-old. I’ve been a little busy.

Wii Fit: Would you like to hear a fitness tip?

Me: No, I don’t want to hear one of your lame tips. Could we just get to the exercising part please?

Wii Fit: *dejected* Ok…you know, if you want a tip, you can always ask later.

Me: I don’t want any damn tips, ok!?!

Wii Fit: Oh, ok, but if you change your-

Me: No. Let’s just get to the exercising. [commence approximately a half hour of exercising]

Me boxing. Doesn't that physique just scream graceful Adonis?

Wii Fit: Ok, let’s do your body test. Stand on the platform and relax…Oh, your center of balance is off.

Me: Oh, really? No surprise since it’s slightly to the right or left every time I’ve stood on you.

Wii Fit: You should work on your center of balance, blah, blah, blah…

Me: Ok, moving on.

Wii Fit: Here’s your BMI, tubby. And here’s your weight. Oh look, you lost 0.4 lbs. Only 3.5 lbs. to your goal. Keep it up.

Me: Yeah, thanks, whatever. I’m sure you’ll just tell me I gained it back tomorrow. You’re going back under the couch.

Wii Fit: No! Don’t put me under there, it’s dark and I think your kid’s fallen goldfish crackers are plotting against me.

* * *

Overall, so far I’ve lost about 5 lbs., but the stupid thing is quick to let you know when you’ve gained a little back, and if you somehow have a fluctuation of +2 lbs. since the last time you were on you have to tell it why. Then it reprimands you. Also, every time it gives me my BMI, the little cutesy computerized voice says “That’s obese!” Fucking machines.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Dear Parents and Children

Dear Parents and Children Frequenting the Library,

The library is not a baby sitting service. If you trust that your children will behave if they are left alone in the library, that is fine. If you want to drop off your children while you do other things, or have them come hang out at the library after school until you can come get them, and they cannot behave, that is not cool.

The library is not a playground. True, some libraries have some playground-type equipment in the children's department, but that equipment is contained within a certain area. It is not appropriate to play tag or hide-n-seek throughout the entiriety of the library.

These things tend to make me smashy, so if you don't want a heavy book flung at you from behind the counter, I suggest you get your act together.

Thanks and have a good day.

The Netflix of Books?

The other day, one of my coworkers received a press release in the mail from for consideration in one of our publications. First of all, our magazines have nothing to do with the book world, so I think this company’s target is a little off, but that’s not the point of this post. is, according to the release, “the leading source for online paperback and audiobook rentals. The service offers members over 170,000 titles to choose from in addition to 60,000+ A La Carte rentals (no membership required).”

For as low as $9.99 per month, members can have paperbacks and audiobooks shipped to them for free (as in free shipping). Then they keep the materials as long as they want and then ship the books back to for free (again, the shipping). The $9.99 plan allows the member to have two items out at a time, and plans go as high as $47.99, which allows for 15 items at a time.

Paperback book rentals arrive within 5-10 business days and audiobooks arrive within 2-5 business days.

Now I would think that for most people, they might go another route, and visit their local library, where they can pretty much check out all the audiobooks and books they want for free (provided they are returned on time). Libraries are capable of getting a copy of pretty much any book in the world for their patrons and their isn’t any subscription fee (unless you’re talking about the property taxes that are going to help fund the library).

I can see how can be useful to people that are incapable of getting out to their local library, for whatever reason, but then many libraries have bookmobiles or other book delivery services for such patrons. might also be useful to people in remote areas.

When such services are available to the general public, why has prospered so much? Because what I haven’t said yet is that the subject of the press release was the company’s recent inclusion on Inc. Magazine’s list of the Top 5,000 Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in America from 2004-2007. To qualify for this honor, “Revenue in the initial year must have been at least $200,000, and revenue in the most recent year must have been at least $2,000,000.”

Obviously, people are signing up for, and maintaining subscriptions with this service. The release even hints at other book rental services online. It just strikes me as odd that people would go in for this kind of thing, considering other resources that are available to most Americans. It’s definitely a good thing that people are reading, don’t get me wrong. It’s also good that some American businesses are flourishing in these unstable economic times. It’s just that the thought of starting up or using a Netflix for books kind of business would have never occurred to me. But then, as my wife says, I’m a “library whore,” (until recently I had three cards that worked at five different libraries in the Chicago suburbs) so that might explain it.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Metallica at the Allstate Arena, Jan. 27 2009

Huh? You want to know about what? I’m sorry, you’ll have to speak up, you see I went to the Metallica concert last night and now I can’t hear a damn thing. I said, I WENT TO SEE THE…oh never mind, my hearing’s fine today.

So we put Logan to bed early, had the baby sitter situation all taken care of and left to get to the Allstate to see both opening acts. Brandi wasn’t too thrilled about seeing the openers, but I figured if we paid for the tickets, we might as well see them.

First up was The Sword. They took the stage promptly at seven and played for a half hour. The music was ok, but there was a lack of lyrics, and what they did sing, neither of us could understand a word of it. Then there was Machine Head. They came on at eight and also played about half an hour. They did a better job of trying to get the crowd into it, and from what I understand they’re a little more well known in the metal world. They were louder than The Sword, but we had an equally difficult time of understanding the lyrics. Except of course, when the lead singer, who had one of those deep, gravely metal voices, would sing something like “head bang motherfuckers!” which was accompanied by an arm pump move that looked like he was going to drive some guy’s skull into his kneecap.

For Machine Head, only about half the seats were full, and we had some space on either side of us. I (foolishly) thought that maybe it would stay that way. Boy was I wrong. By the time Metallica took the stage, there were NO seats left, and the space for people on the floor was full too.

Before I get into Metallica’s performance, let me explain some of the things I saw while we were there. First off, there were the Teenage Mutant Mega Nerds behind us, a group of three or four mid-teen geeks that Janiece would know a thing or two about. In between Machine Head and Metallica, I heard them quoting lines from Zoolander. I have no idea why. Then, when the bands would get everyone to do the rhythmic clap thing, they could never get their acts together to clap in sync with a stadium full of people. Come on guys, I’m standing here with my Batman t-shirt on (it’s the only black t-shirt I have, I think), and I’m as uncoordinated as they come, but even I could get that part down. They were like Steve Martin in The Jerk

Then there was the mosh pit people. I don’t understand what the point is of skipping around in a circle and bumping into other guys as a sign of just how much you rock out. Seriously, dudes, you look like the gorillas at the zoo when they chase each other around in their enclosure. Some of them were even removing their shirts to mosh more effectively. Maybe that makes less wind resistance so they can skip more effectively.

During Machine Head’s performance, the roadies and tech guys were constantly running around, switching stuff out on the stage and doing other things. They were all wearing black t-shirts, except for this one that had a bright yellow shirt that said Cheerios on the front. He really stood out and it was pretty funny. At one point the lead singer of Machine Head made note of him between songs, saying something along the lines of “This guy really fucking likes Cheerios.”

Anyway, Metallica took the stage at 9:10 and played pretty much non-stop until 11:30. I though I knew what loud was. I was wrong. Metallica is loud. For the record, I did not have earplugs because Brandi pretty much told me I would be a wuss if I wore them. If my body were to vibrate any more from the bass and drums I think I would have phased through the floor.

I’m not really a Metallica fan, but their concert was great. They did a theater in the round kind of performance. James, Kirk and Rob would move around the stage as they played guitar, and every few songs, Lars would get off the drum stand and it would rotate about a quarter turn. They also had a variety of pyrotechnics and eight giant metallic coffins dangling from the ceiling and adorned with spotlights. Four of the coffins were stationary and four would come down and rotate a little.

The guys played a bunch of stuff from their new CD The Death Magnetic, and then a bunch of old stuff. Seeing as how I don’t know what songs are on what albums, I can’t really comment on what they played and what they skipped, but Brandi said it was an interesting selection of songs and that a couple of albums were completely skipped. Most notably lacking, song-wise, was Fuel.

Not that the band really needed to sing anything. They could have just played their instruments and the crowd would have taken care of the rest. The assembled masses sang along with almost everything and were nearly as loud as the band themselves. We probably could have stood outside the arena and heard everything just fine.

Being that it was Brandi’s fourth Metallica concert, she said there was something missing with the absence of Jason Newsted, the band’s former bassist. And then, about half way through, a bunch of fliers fell into the crowd behind us, and we saw after the show was over that they were ads suggesting people reserve their copy of Guitar Hero: Metallica before it comes out. (lame) And of course, thanks to the magic of the Intertubes, footage of Monday night’s show is already on youtube (of course, the videos are of crappy quality so I found some better ones from other concerts).

We definitely got our money's worth out of the show. I would go see them again, because it was a really good show, and in the end, nothing else matters.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blog Filler

Hello, it's Matt, your friendly neighborhood spiderma-...erm...blogger. I have a couple of blog posts that I want to get to this week, but I need some photos that are not at my disposal at the moment. Aside from that, I've been trying to come up with something to blog about today, and I don't really have anything to say.

Yesterday, I wore a dark blue shirt to work, and then I had to go to the library and I walk in only to find that the other guy working behind the desk with me has a blue shirt of the same exact color and the assistant manager of circulation is wearing a sweater of the exact same color. Then one of the other women working circ yesterday had a blue sweatshirt on (of a different shade). It was weird. And some of the patrons noticed last night too. I even remember thinking to myself that what if Robert was wearing the same color blue as I got dressed yesterday morning. Strange...

Tonight we're going to the Metallica concert, which Brandi is totally psyched about and I'm glad to go to, although Metallica isn't my favorite. I'm sure I'll have something to say tomorrow about how the show went, and I've been assured that I might have problems hearing things tomorrow. In the mean time, here's a video of Metallica's Hero of the Day, which is currently my favorite song of theirs. This is with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra a few years ago. I haven't heard the regular version, so I don't know how much different it is. Too bad they won't be playing with the orchestra tonight.

Stay tuned for a full report tomorrow.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Tomorrow night we're supposed to be going to the Metallica concert at the Allstate, however, Logan's gotten sick, and if he's really sick, we can't just put him down to bed and leave him with my father-in-law. If we can't get a babysitter, then I'll be staying home and Brandi will find a friend to go with her. Metallica's her favorite band, so I wouldn't deny her the experience. While I'm generally not a big fan, I would like to see the show, I've heard they're pretty good. Hopefully he'll be doing better by tomorrow. Kids, man, if it's not one thing with them it's another.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This Makes No Sense to Me

I’m working on setting up a trip for work. Typically, I do a one-day trip, if I can, to get all the travel out of the way in one shot. It makes for a long day, but I get to sleep in my own bed and it usually works out fine.

The company that I am supposed to be visiting has two locations, one in Dallas and one in Kansas City. The contact I called today suggested that it might be possible to see both facilities in one day, if I were to fly down to Dallas and meet him there and then fly up to Kansas City and then from there I would go back home to O’Hare.

I didn’t think my boss would go for it, with the economic crunch and the extra expense of the additional two flights, but I brought it up anyway. She said she didn’t figure it would work out, but I looked up flight prices anyway, just for shits and giggles.

Turns out that to fly from O’Hare to Dallas to Kansas City to O’Hare in mid-February costs $278 on American Airlines. To fly from O’Hare to Dallas to O’Hare costs $315 on American. Hmmmmm? That can’t be right. I checked other times during the day and got the same result within a couple dollars. Then I tried United and they told me it would be $476.20 to fly from O’Hare to Dallas and back, unless I’d like to fly from O’Hare to Denver to Dallas, and then the flight was about $200 less.

I’m not the only one seeing a problem with this right?

My Earworms, Let Me Share Them

One of the guys in the office has the Flight of the Conchords CD on his iTunes and he recommended that I check it out. I did, and now I can't get rid of it. If you're not familiar with the Flight of the Conchords, they are Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, a Grammy Award-winning New Zealand comedy duo who bill themselves as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo."

According to Wikipedia, "the group uses a combination of witty observation, characterisation and acoustic folk guitars, modelled loosely on the 1960s U.S. duo The Smothers Brothers." Last year, the duo got it's own show on HBO, which is currently on season 2. I haven't seen the show yet, but I hear it's pretty funny. Anyway, the songs are good, but infectious (Nathan, you might want to stay away). Needless to say, their damn songs have been in my head all week, and I'm hoping that by sharing my earworms, then maybe they will leave me alone for a while.

Be warned, these songs are catchy, especially if you listen a couple times, which you might be inclined to do because they're also pretty funny.

Inner City Pressure:

Hophopopotamus Vs. Rhymenoceros:

Think About It:

Ladies of the World:

Go earworms, go!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

And We Have This in the Basement Why?

This week I've started the monumental task of cleaning up the basement. When we moved into the house in Oct. 2007, it was a challenge to combine two residences worth of stuff, furniture, clothes, knick-knacks, etc. into one house. A lot of the knick-knack stuff and other odds and ends was boxed up and either put aside in the basement or the garage. This resulted in the inability to park in the garage for the longest time, and a mountain of stuff in the basement spread from one end to the other.

So I've been going down into the basement, which is so short that I can't stand fully, for a little while every day to try and clean up. Every day I find a crazy little bauble that belongs to my father-in-law. The other day I came upon a tin recipe box. The box itself is a little dirty on the outside, but otherwise in good condition. From the way it is decorated, I would assume that it is from the 70s. Now, when I found it, I foolishly thought that perhaps there would be recipe cards inside. Of course, there wasn't. Silly Matt, why would one store recipes in a recipe box?

So what did I find? On top there was a stainless steel jigger for mixing drinks. Beneath that and on one side there was a mostly full tin of pellets for a pellet gun. On the very bottom was an empty Sucrets tin. And then, tucked into the side was a shoe horn. WTF? Why would someone store all of these things in a recipe box and then put it away for an unknown purpose?

Of these things, the only two things I would think to keep would be the jigger and the shoe horn. Then last night, my father-in-law came back home from his stay at the grandparents house down the street, and I asked him about it.

I told him I had found an old recipe box in the basement, and, without having seen this box in who knows how long, he knew just what I was talking about and could name about half the things in the box without any prompting. He also thought there was a key in the box, which there probably was at one point, but has long since disappeared. The pellet gun, it turns out, is not even at our house, but at the grand parents house. And the empty Sucrets container? Who the heck knows.

What other treasures might I find in the basement? I have no idea. I wouldn't be too surprised if I come across the Ark of the Covenant, one of the 13 crystal skulls, Pan's Lute, or the Lyre of Orpheus.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Makes Me Absolutely Sick

I just heard about this at work. Melissa Calusinski, a 22-year-old teacher's assistant at the Mini Subee day care center that is less than a quarter mile from where I sit was charged with two counts of first degree murder for slamming a 16-month-old into the ground after she grew frustrated because he was being noisy. The poor baby, after being slammed to the floor, managed to crawl over to his infant seat and curl up in a ball. The article says that she had a background check, but her previous experience with children is unclear.

From what I heard in the office, and the article hints at it, Ms. Calusinski at least, tried to cover this up with some bogus story. My boss said she heard that the autopsy revealed that the force of the skull fracture would have been equivalent to a two-story fall.

This is making me feel sick to my stomach. If I were that baby's father, I don't think I would be able to stop myself from ripping that woman's throat out, possibly with my bare hands, but maybe with my teeth. I hope that woman gets everything that's coming to her, and I hope that Mini Subee sees some serious repercussions for what its employee did.

This is just another reason we didn't want to put Logan into daycare. I know that there are good daycare centers out there with good people that work at them, but we've heard too many horror stories about awful things that are done in them. This isn't the first horror story we've heard about this particular Mini Subee either.

So our children will be staying at home, thanks. And I need to stop thinking about this or...Matt Smash!

My Kingdom for a Horse (updated)

Yesterday, I had to take a personal day from work so that I could bring my car into the shop. I have a 2004 Saturn Ion, which I bought slightly used (it had about 3,000 miles on it). For the past couple months, I've been having problems with the car starting when it's really, really cold. It wouldn't start three times in seven days, so I replaced the battery. The problem went away for a couple weeks, but then it came back. Now it's starting inconsistently at best.

On Friday when I went to work it was -17F. The car hesitated a little, but started up ok. Then when I was leaving work later that day, and the temperature was up almost 20 degrees to 0F, my car wouldn't start for ten minutes. Then, Friday night, we were going to go to my parents' house and the car wouldn't start, get back from my parents a couple hours later, and it starts up ok.

Sunday I took the battery out and brought it to the auto parts store I bought it from. It tested ok. Just in case, I charged it over night. I went to start my car to go to work yesterday and nothing. It turns over once and then wont do anything. Normally I would take Brandi's car, but she needed it, and I hate to leave her at the house with Logan without a car in case something happens. So I stayed at home and brought my car to the place down the street that does good work. They aren't going to be able to look at it until today, but at least Brandi didn't need her car and I was able to get to work. I'm hoping that whatever it is that's wrong with the car it's an easy/cheap fix, because honestly I don't have a lot of money to plunk down into the car and at this point I really don't want to.

We've been thinking of getting a *gulp* mini van when our cars are paid off, trading in Brandi's 98 Ford Explorer, since it's 11 years old, but my car has been a nightmare of electrical problems. Whenever I brought it into the dealership, they couldn't ever find anything wrong with it. I wonder if they actually looked at it. Sometimes the problems went away on their own, like the faulty door sensor, and sometimes they didn't.

Brandi's car, while it needs a couple of repairs, has been the much more reliable car. It's a little harder on the gas than my car is, but I'd take reliability over four more miles to the gallon. Both of our cars will be paid off this year, so we're going to have to really think about what we do. I do know, though, that if GM survives the current crisis that is affecting the American automobile industry, I will never be buying another Saturn as long as I live. Saturn, you suck!

Update: I just got a call from our mechanic, and he said after their investigation they found that there is an error with the anti-theft sensor that it is preventing the starter from starting up the car because it thinks it's being stolen. So when I use my own fucking remote to unlock my own fucking car and then use my own fucking keys to start it, the stupid fucking piece of shit car thinks some other dumbass is trying to steal it, because who in their right mind would try to steal a big dumb piece of crap with the Saturn logo on it? On top of that, the guy said they noticed that whoever worked on my car last either failed to notice a loose cable going to the radiator or knocked it loose and failed to fix it (stupid Midas).

Kudos to Accurate Auto Clinic for their curteous, quick and no bullshit service.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Geeky Stuff Done A Cappella

There are some really great videos of nerdy music on youtube done a cappella. Some of them, particularly the ones where it's the same guy doing each part, are really good. If you haven't seen any of these, they're really worth checking out.

Especially this one, a Star Wars/John Williams tribute. Originally it was done by the a cappella comedy music group Moosebutter, and then it was rerecorded with permission by Corey Vidal. Here's the Vidal version:

I have to wonder if he was as excited about Episode I after he saw it.

This is a more recent video of the theme from the Legend of Zelda video game. This guy has a lot of hats. I like the extra heads that float across the screen and the violin was very well done. This makes me want to bust out the Super Nintendo and play some Link to the Past (arguably the best Zelda game out there).

Then there's a whole Nintendo compalation. This also makes me want to play some Mario, but not as much as I'd spend a few hours playing Zelda right now. I also like how Mortal Kombat is thrown in and the guy shouting "MORTAL KOMBAT!" which is essential to the Mortal Kombat theme.

My appologies to Eric if this was to be the subject of one of his upcoming blog posts. :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Editing Process Begins

I've finally started to edit my NaNoWriMo novel. I wanted to let it cool off at least for the month of December so I could distance myself from it a little. I've only been over the first page so far. At this point I'm just reading and taking notes without doing any rewriting, but I wanted to share my mad editing skillz with you all.

From my notes: "¶2 = poop"

I am available for freelance editing if anyone is interested. :)

Won't Somebody Think of the Children!?! - Oh, They Did

Thank (insert diety of choice). I just read an article that said that New Jersey's Division of Youth and Family Services has removed three-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell and his two sisters JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, 1, and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, 8 months, from their home. Exact reasons for the children's removal was not cited at this time.

You may remember hearing about the Campbells last month when they were in the news because a local ShopRite supermarket refused to inscribe Adolf Hitler's name on his birthday cake.

According to the article, Police, DYFS officials and a court spokeswoman declined to reveal the exact reasons the children were removed from their home, citing confidentiality, but a child protection official indicated it was not because of the children's names. Apparently, the children do not show any signs of physical or sexual abuse.

However, a neighbor did allege to the father, Heath, has some kind of hold over the wife and children, saying the children were only allowed in certain areas of the home and that on some occasions, young Adolf expressed that he did not want to go home.

So I guess we'll see what happens with all of that. When I first heard of the Campbells last month, I couldn't help but feel bad for those children. I mean, talk about setting your kids back from the word go, and then to make it a matter of national interest over a birthday cake, sheesh. Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Campbell could have been loving, but misguided parents. Wow, I can't believe I said that, but I guess you've gotta give people the benefit of the doubt. A celebrity isn't necessarily a bad parent because they name their kid Apple or something dumb like that.

So now the kids are in custody and everyone's mum on the exact reason, and I guess all that anyone can hope for is that the children will be put into a loving and nurturing environment, and that they won't be going from bad to worse. I wonder if there is any precedent for children's names being changed once they're in a foster care system.

Children are so precious and impressionable that it's really tragic when someone does something so fucking retarded like this. I know it's a little rediculous to say that people should have to have a license to breed, like a drivers license, but really, some people should have to go through a screening process or something before they breed.

Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a new and happy life for the Campbell children, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Case of the Blahs

I seem to have come down with a serious case of the Blahs, also known as the Meh Malady. It's a combination of a lot of different factors, probably compounded by the weather. Symptoms include a general feeling of malaise, which is followed by self-deprecation at not having done anything to change that, a strong desire to nap forever, and so on. A cure can sometimes be found in the complete annihilation of pixelated aliens or other baddies, however, this cure can be hard to come by when a certain two-year-old wants to chase you around the house or crawl around and bark like a dog, all to his amusement.

So today I have a couple of very funny but not PC in the least videos. This whole series is pretty danged funny, and it was hard to pick out just a couple to show. If I haven't said it before, the people at Mediocre Films are brilliant.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My Desk is a Mess, Not

Last week I let everyone see just how much of a mess my desk is, which included about six months worth of stories that needed to be filed, books piled up in the corner, papers that needed to be sorted/recycled/filed, magazines and other items that needed to be put away. Well, today I took some time and cleaned it all up, so I present you with the "after" shots.

From left to right:

I also fixed my Mighty Mouse problem with a combination of the rolling it around on a damp cloth trick (I used some Orange Clean instead of rubbing alcohol) and the tape trick. Thanks Vince, MWT, and Steve for your suggestions

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sometimes... really, really want to go after certain loved ones with a Nerf Crotchbat.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Kitchen Experimentation, January 11 2009

It was another day for experimentation in the kitchen. Being my first day off in a couple of weeks, and since we still had the crock pot out from last night's dinner, I felt like trying something new. Today we had chicken. Here's what I did:

3 Chicken Breasts - cut into about one inch chunks
3 Medium Potatoes - mostly peeled and cut into about one inch chunks
1/4 Cup Onion - chopped
2-3 Medium Cloves of Garlic - Crushed
1 Can Asparagus
1 Teaspoon Celery Seed
1/2 Teaspoon Rosemary
1/2 Teaspoon Dill
Dash of Salt
1-1/2 Cups Chicken Broth

I put all of this in the crock pot on high heat for about five hours and stirred it every once in a while.

Here's the before shot:

Here's the after shot (not much difference):

It turned out ok. Everything was nice and tender. It also made the house smell nice. Brandi said all she could taste was the asparagus and rosemary. I mostly tasted the rosemary. If I do it again, I will cut back on or eliminate the rosemary and use more dill. Unfortunately, I'm now all out of dill. I love dill on chicken. Grilled chicken with dill and a little celery salt is magnificent.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Loot Cometh, The Loot Goeth

A while back, I won the Nathan's "Write Me A Headline" Contest. Go ahead and read all about it. The prize for such an illustrious contest? Why it is Panavision ballcap from the Steven Segal movie "Marker," which was retitled to "Pistol Whipped" before it was released.

Well guess what? The cap came yesterday. But since yesterday was pretty hectic around here (and today too up until this point) I'm just getting around to blogging about it now. So first I'd like to say thank you to Nathan, fearless leader to the UCF and mustachioed man of mystery.
Nathan later had a couple of words of caution when he sent the hat, "A couple of things to warn you about. I left the hat-band set to fit me. When you get it you'll be able to confirm that I do, in fact, have a tiny little pinhead. Also, even though I washed it before sending it, I got cold walking to the Post Office, so I wore it there; it's got Nathan-Cooties again."

Cooties I don't mind. I got my cootie booster when I was a kid, so I'm covered. However, I wanted to demonstrate for you all just how small Nathan's head really is.
Here is the hat band as it was set when I pulled it out of the shipping envelope:

Here is the hat on Logan's head (fits really well, just a little loose):

Logan liked the hat so much he wanted to wear it while we ate. And thus I lost the hat.

After Logan went to bed, I tried the hat on, in Nathan size, just to see how it would fit:

So there you have it folks, proof positive of Nathan's child-like mind. :) Thanks again Nathan!

My Desk is a Mess

It's deadline day today and we're all feeling a little frazzled. I have a post planned for later this evening or tomorrow morning, but in the mean time, here are some pictures of my very messy desk. Unfortunately, since I played with the icon settings on my comptuer today, this also reflects the state of my desktop on the monitor at work. (click for more detailed views)

Here's the leftmost part of my desk. There are a lot of papers that need to either be filed or recycled. You might notice a pile of rubber bands to the left of my desk caddy, those were all strung together to block off a coworkers cube a couple weeks ago. He threw them at me yesterday. Along the top and taped to the front of my bins are some of the mementos I've picked up along the way.

More detail of the surface of the desk. It's a mess of back issues, papers and pens.

My monitor and tower are festooned with pictures of Logan and some figures. The mug of lousy coffee changes colors when it gets hot to reveal pictures of Logan and me. Then there's sticky notes, a couple of fortune cookie fortunes and the notes from the article I was finishing up this morning.

More pictures of Logan and Brandi on the shelf above my monitor. Under the shelf on the right are a couple of things Logan colored for me. Then we have Optimus Prime on top of the monitor, and on the shelf, Hellboy fighting a giant bat, Smokescreen and Starscream locked in eternal struggle, and some Happy-Meal style car toy that pops open at the turn of a key in back.

The right side of my desk has a whole slew of old stories that need to be sorted and filed. Hanging next to the shelf is my collection of press badges from various trade shows and events. Then there's more pictures of Logan and Brandi and a lot of comic strips that I've printed out over time. The thing in the frame behind the tape dispenser is a Paisley Name. It was given to me as a thank you after I wrote an article about some really artistic cabinet doors a woman had created.

A detail of the desk's surface. It may look neat from this angle, but it isn't, trust me. I think I'll have to do some cleaning up next week.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jesus and Buddha Have Tea on Mars, Someone Tell National Geographic

Dear National Geographic Society,

Let me preface this letter by saying I wholeheartedly respect the fine things that are done at the National Geographic Society and I think you are doing a great service to society. I myself have been exposed to some very amazing aspects of the world around us through your magazine and documentaries. Your images and information help make the world a better place.

But on the other hand, no one is perfect.

Recently, on a friend's blog, I read about one Andrew D. Basiago is an American attorney and amateur scientist who looked at one of the photos captured by the Mars Rover Spirit and claimed to have found evidence of life on Mars within the image (PIA10214). He said that the image contains "were beings in blue bodysuits and the abstract artwork of a Martian civilization. I was looking at the first evidence of life beyond Earth!" He also claims to have seen "a cosmic treasure trove of pictographic evidence of life on Mars, including humanoid beings, animal species, carved statues, and built structures."

Here is a copy of the image in question.

While I do not see the evidence that Mr. Basiago claims to see, I did notice something startling that your otherwise fine institution has failed to notice. Study the image with a little more scrutiny for a moment and perhaps you will see it. No? Let me show it to you.

Take a close look at the top of that second hill. No, not that one, the one to the right of it. Do you see it now? If it is still a little unclear let me explain. Those three vague lumps you see there, after much study and the consulting of other images I have discerned what they are. On the far left you have a unicorn. The unicorn is standing behind Jesus (center) who is having tea with Buddha (right). I know, I was floored too when I saw it. Go ahead and take a minute if you need it.

Now you might be asking yourself, what would Jesus, Buddha and a unicorn be doing having tea on the surface of Mars? I have given that matter much thought and have conducted research on that too, and I will share it with you now.

You see, Mars would act as the perfect platform from which Jesus could keep an eye on the Earth and then from which to stage his Second Coming. It is far enough away that he can stay out of the pesky affairs of mortals, yet close enough that he can keep an eye on what is happening on the planet. However, based on the findings of the Mars Rover, Mr. Christ might want to rethink his base of operations and move it to another celestial body to avoid detection by human eyes.

As near as I can tell from the ancient texts, Jesus and Buddha would have gotten along well in life. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Buddha would stop in and say hello to his buddy Christ as he travels the known universe on his continual quest for further enlightenment. I'm sure it gets lonely on the surface of Mars with not many other creatures for Jesus to interact with, so he would appreciate the occasional visit from his friend Buddha. And considering Jesus' innate ability to change liquids into a form of excess, I am certain Buddha does not mind the spiked beverage.

The unicorn is easily explained as well. When God created the great flood and instructed Noah to build an arch and take two of every animal, the unicorn, as well as other magical beasts, were no where to be found. Obviously, God had already taken these creatures off of the planet Earth and absconded with the to parts unknown to save them 1) from the flood and 2) from the human population that might later want to exploit or disect them. This photo shows that at least the unicorn was taken to the surface of Mars, although further exploration might reveal other species of magicial beasties. The unicorn would most likely be haning around Jesus and Buddha's get together for the sugar cubes that would be available with the tea, as well as the companionship from humans.

Based on these findings, who knows what else might be found on the surface of the red planet. This could prove to be just the tip of the iceberg for science and humanity.

I can back these findings up with an extensive amount of data if you so require it. Feel free to contact me for further follow up. Additionally, I have some other interesting findings from some of the Mars Rover's other photos, including a shot that includes an image of Peter Pan skimming through the Mars atm
osphere with a couple of children as he takes them on to Never Never Land.

Again, to the people of the National Geographic Society, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss my findings further. I expect you would want to put this on the cover of your fine magazine once you have had the opportunity to look over my findings. Being a magazine editor myself, I would be honored with the opportunity to do a full write up for your fine publication.

Best Regards,

(I couldn't help myself. Someone dared me.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What's For Dinner

I don't really have anything to talk about today, so since we just got done with dinner a little while ago, I'll talk about that. Tonight we had a genuine Matt Creation.

Brandi pulled out a round steak today, so we had that as a starting point. But what to go with it? My first thought was some Stovetop stuffing, but nah. Been there, done that. What else do we have...ah, noodles.

The round steak was seasoned with garlic powder, a little salt, Italian Seasoning from the spice rack and a splash of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. It was then grilled for about four minutes per side over a medium flame. I did have to brush the snow off the grill first. The round steak was a little thinner than I figured, so a little part of one piece got crispified, but I just cut around that later.

Then I made a pot of vermicelli and spaghetti (I was using up the last of a couple of boxes of pasta) and I boiled some broccoli.

While that was all going on I made a thin sauce that was composed of a little of the Worcestershire, some soy sauce, a little water, two cloves of crushed garlic, a little of the Italian Seasoning and a little garlic powder and whisked that all together. All in all, it was maybe a third to a half of a cup of sauce, with this stuff you really don't need much.

With the round steak inside I cut that into thin-ish strips. The noodles were put in a large bowl with the broccoli on top. The round steak was added to that and then the sauce was poured over all of it. The combination was tossed together and ta-da! we're done.

As strong as the sauce is by itself, since there's so little of it mixed with everything else it creates a nice balance of flavor. I've done this a few times before with other combinations of meat and veggies, so I didn't think it would turn out bad.

And that's that. Logan partook of a couple noodles and a little of the round steak without the sauce, and then he had some applesauce.

I really do enjoy experimenting in the kitchen when I'm making dinner. Most of the time it turns out pretty good, but then every once in a while, not so much. Perhaps I'll have to post some more kitchen experiments in the future.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Brandi

Ten years ago today, a very nerdy (picture a high school junior, wearing khakis and a Star Wars or superhero tee shirt, button up long sleeved shirt over it (unbuttoned of course), glasses, pseudo skater hair cut) boy swung for the fences and asked out a girl that was pretty well out of his league. After she said yes, the (clueless) nerdy boy in question then proceeded to join his friends for lunch. Trust me, that was not the last time I (erm...I mean the nerdy boy) would do something stupid. I managed to not screw up too much, however, and have held on to her for the ten years since.

We've been through quite a bit for a couple of kids who are still about two years shy of their ten-year high school reunion (at least to me we have): ilness, in-laws, getting married, having a child, losing a child, etc., etc.

We've both grown, but have been fortunate enough to have grown together, instead of growing apart as many couples are want to do today. We've also grown as people and are happy and still in love with other, despite any differences from when we were in our middle teens. Sure, we still have our share of fights, but they don't result in much, and are resolved quickly. And we still enjoy being around each other, even when one of us, most often me, is being a total pain in the ass.

I try to imagine what my life would be like now if we hadn't started dating ten years ago, or if we had broken up at some point (and trust me, there were a couple of times that I was on thin ice in the beginning), and it's never good. In the worst imaginings I'm an assistant manager at OfficeMax and still living in my parent's house. *shudder* She really has pushed me to achieve the modest accomplishments that I've earned in my adult life.

I remember when we used to celebrate each month, making a point to go out to dinner or a movie, or both. I would have roses for her and we'd meet in the mall after work or go out after school. While we're more apt to do something around our wedding anniversary, we're going to go out and have a nice dinner this evening.

So happy anniversary Brandi. I love you and am looking forward to many more years.

The Best Commercial I've Seen in A While (fixed)

I was watching Star Wars Episode II on Spike the other night. Don't ask me why, I was just channel flipping and it happened to be there. Anyway, at the end they had this great commercial.

Turns out, there are a few of them.

The New Year

Greetings all and Happy New Year to everyone out there. I know it's the fifth already, but I mostly took the long weekend off of the Internets. I tend not to be on the Internet too much when I'm at home. I have other stuff to do, and after being on the computer nearly all day at work, I don't care to spend much time on the computer when I get home.

So what's happened in my life recently?

~I failed to mention earlier that Brandi did an excellent job of baking all of the Christmas cookies, pretty much single-handedly. We had chocolate chip, peanut butter, peanut butter with the Hershey kisses in them, and sugar cookies. Sugar cookies, being my favorite, disappeared the quickest.

~Due to freak weather, Des Plaines has once again cememented it's stance as flood capital of the Midwest. On Saturday, Dec., 27 we had temperatures near 60F and steady hard rain all day. Add to that the frozen ground, and we had water in the basement again. We were ready though and had picked up Logan's toys off the floor. When I left for work that morning there was very little water, it could have been cleaned up with a mop. During the day, the mini-fuse thingie on the sump pump tripped and, since no one heard the pump running all day, they assumed that meant no water. When I got home there was 2-3 inches of water in the basement. It was cold. I almost fell on my face when I hit a slick spot in front of the freezer trying to get to the sump pump to flick the switch. It's all been cleaned up now. Except for the throw rug, which is now a frozen sheet out in the garage. Next time I'll pick that up too.

~We got a Wii Fit for Christmas, which Brandi and I have been very good about using for at least 20 minutes every night. We've both lost a couple pounds so far according to the game.

~Apparently, there's been some big kerfuffle (I love that word) out on the Internets with the UCF. Janiece has got the goods on that, check it out here.

~Logan's just obsessed with Wall-E. And he's learning to use please more often, as in "Wall-E please." It also takes the form of "candy please." Previously it would be "Logan, say please." to which he would respond a very enthusiastic "Yes."


I've never been one for keeping resolutions for that long. So instead, I'll just talk about the things I'd like to do in 2009.

*Thank's to Kate's totally brave and inspirational post, I'm very determined to lose weight this year. Also thanks to the Wii Fit we got for Chirstmas, I think that will be a more realistic goal than it would have been without something to keep me exercising. I had to thank my mother-in-law for getting us a present that tells me just how much of a fat ass I am. As of last night's weigh in, I'm at 260 and change. My ultimate goal for the year is to get down to 200. I've been carrying around too much weight for too long and I really need to do something about it.

*I really want to try and blog more. I don't guarantee that I'll be blogging every day. I know that wont happen, but I would like to try and blog more often. It won't always be substantial and it wont always be good, I'm sure, but I'll try and get some more content out there.

*I need to write more. I've got my NaNoWriMo novel to work on the revision, and there's talk in the UCF of doing a similar writing thing. So we'll see. If I'm going to be serious about trying to make it as an author, then I really need to work at it. This also includes updating the Piecemeal blog, which I'll get to eventually.

I think that's about all for now. I hope everyone has a safe/happy/healthy 2009!