Monday, February 23, 2009

A Brief Note On Life

For the past couple of months, life has felt like a constant Tilt-A-Whirl in full force spin. I'm ready to throw up and get off the ride.

BTW, I understand that this condition is in no way exclusive to me, I just needed to say it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kitchen Experimentation 2-21-09

No pictures this time, sorry folks.

Last night I cut up four chicken breasts and sauteed them with onions, broccoli, and a generous amount of dill. Really, is there anything that dill can't make better? I also made a sauce from a can of cream of mushroom soup, a little milk, a little salt, some chopped onion, and some red wine. I had to add more red wine then I had originally planned to get rid of the overpowering mushroom taste and to thin it out some. It ended up a little on the thicker side of thin then I wanted, but it still tasted pretty good. That was all served on some spaghetti noodles. It was pretty good.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

It's Official, I'm a Nerd

Hat tip to Konstantin for the quiz. It is revealed that I'm not a geek or a dork, but I am in fact a nerd.

Your result for The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test...

Modern, Cool Nerd

52 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 22% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.

A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.

A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Take The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test at HelloQuizzy

At least I'm a cool nerd, not like these guys:


Friday, February 20, 2009

Bookish Stuff

I have less than 20 pages to go in my initial read of my NaNoWriMo novel, Fae Meds, (title subject to change) and I’m well on track of my earlier goal of finishing reading and taking notes by tomorrow.

What do I think so far? It’s definitely a ways from being publishable, but there’s plenty of material there for me to work with. As I was telling MWT the other day, there’s a new direction that I want to take the plot that I think will make it work better. There are some major characters that are going to have to be rethought out or eliminated, which is fine. There are some sections that will be cut outright, maybe. I’m still liking it more than my first NaNo novel, so I’m bolstered by that. I’m hoping that Sunday or Monday I’ll start the actual rewriting.

A coworker, and proprietor of, has published his first novel for the Kindle on Amazon. So if you have a Kindle, you might want to check out The Courier. While I haven’t read his novel, I’ve read some of his other fiction, which is good.

Apparently, Amazon allows people to upload their books for download on the Kindle. You set the price and upload the text and a description, even a cover image, and Amazon will sell it on your behalf. I’m not sure how much of a percentage of each sale the author receives, but for those of you out there interested in self publishing, here’s another venue for you to use in this digital age.

Have I mentioned before that I love Christopher Moore? I’m about half way through his new book, Fool, and it is very good. I know from reading his blog that he put a lot of work into researching the book. One passage in particular made me laugh out loud while I was reading it last night, which doesn’t happen with many books. But what I really wanted to point out was a blog he did for Powell’s Book Store. Go check it out now. He certainly doesn’t pull any punches.

And finally, did you know that it was really Stephen King that shot John Lennon? It’s true! Like Jim, I really can’t get enough of this nut job’s website. If he manages to get King arrested for his crime, it will be the most important thing for humanity since Jesus Christ. What? The whackadoo certainly seems to think so.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Acclaimed Horror Novelist Assassinated World-Famous Musician!

Hello everyone. I’m back from my trip, and managed to make it into the office without getting into an accident today, despite all of the ice and snow on the roads. I was going to blog about my trip today (which was nice. I ate a Whataburger, which was good and greasy, which was probably why it was so good.) I was going to blog about my flights, which were actually early and properly air-conditioned. But then I came across a fun little item on BoingBoing this morning.

Did you know that John Lennon wasn’t murdered by Mark David Chapman? Oh no, apparently, he was murdered by acclaimed and prolific horror novelist Stephen King! And what’s more, Lennon wasn’t just murdered, it was all part of a political assassination that was plotted by King, Richard Nixon and Ronald Regan!

At least, that’s what crackpot Steve Lightfoot would have you believe. This is from his website:

The story about Mark Chapman is a cover-up. Bold print government cryptographic codes that include the killer’s face and true identity, the killer’s alleged name and letter to the editor printed before the murder and Richard Nixon’s book, The Real War, in back issues of Time, Newsweek, and US News and World Report magazines printed before, during, and after the night of December 8, 1980 prove that Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan arranged for the author Stephen King, then barley famous, to assassinate John Lennon. That King’s writings draw, dramatically, from the crime and that he taunts us all in his interviews and comments only makes this the story of a lifetime. My 24-page booklet contains everything you've seen here and much more. Please order your copy. I guarantee it is the absolute truth about what really happened to John Lennon. Happy Code Cracking!

His site includes a bunch of random seeming headlines that have some kind of code in them, I guess. There are excerpts from King’s works and interviews where Lightfoot says the author all but admits he did it. There’s also a long, rambling, typo-infused story of Lightfoot’s life and how he came to posses his incredible powers of detecting bullshit and liars (maybe he should turn that power on himself), which lead him to discover the clues and piece together the puzzle of Lennon’s true murderer.

Lightfoot recently made a statement at a Sarasota city meeting about how the city was harboring a fugitive (King) and was therefore keeping other celebrity types away. I guess the aging author, who hasn’t been in the best of health since he was hit by that van years ago, is going to go around shooting up celebrities if they move to that part of Florida. What’s more, King doesn’t live within the jurisdiction of the city of Sarasota, he lives in Sarasota County, so there’s nothing the city officials could do about it any way. Lightfoot was laughed at and removed from the meeting. There’s video of it here.

There’s so much material to cover here, and so little time to do it in, so I’ll leave you with that. Needless to say, the guy’s a whackadoo, and might need to get some professional help. His website’s worth a laugh, and if you’re a believer, you can support Lightfoot’s cause and help get the truth out there by buying his 24-page booklet of “evidence” for only $5.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Traveling Today

Hello everybody, I'm out in the wide world traveling today, but I didn't want to leave you without any content (even though I've done that plenty recently, I know). It's a short trip today, and I should be home in time for dinner, but there's snow in the forecast up here, so who knows what delays that might cause.

Can you guess where I'm going? I'll give you some hints:

* It's in the south.
* The state touches the Gulf of Mexico
* They like everything big

If you don't know by now, here's Pee-Wee with the answer:

Specifically, I'll be in Dallas for a few hours today and then on my way home. Ah the joys of business travel. Hopefully everything will go smoothly and I'll be home on schedule.

And finally...

An Ode to O’Hare

Oh O’Hare
You bustling center of activity,
With so many coming and going
It’s no wonder you have frequent delays.
I have seen the sun rise
Over your endless tarmac
And gleam off of your jets.
What other airport can boast
Such wonders as your
Moving walkway with the
Multi-colored neon light show or
The ticketing area that is in a
Perpetual state of renovation?
Please be kind to me
Oh great O’Hare
And delay me not in my travels
Because LOST is on today
And I do not want to miss it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Writing About Writing

I’m sitting here, at the computer, with really no idea how I’d like to start writing about writing. There are things I’d like to say, and I could just say them, perhaps in a list, but that doesn’t feel right. I think I’ll just ramble on and see what happens.

Post NaNoWriMo work is underway. I have reread the first 106 pages of 158 that composed my NaNoWriMo, tentatively titled Fae Meds. For reference, this is Garamond, 12 point, double-spaced. I have several pages of notes that I took as I read, which are mostly composed of questions about the plot and instances where the writing is total crap. It seems like there’s a lot of the latter, but then what do you expect from 50,000+ words in 30 days?

I’ve been trying to spend at least a half hour each day reading and taking notes, which has become my UCF February Writing Challenge project (good luck to everyone else that's participating), and some days I do better at it than others. My immediate goal is to have finished rereading the entire text by the end of the week. I’m going on a trip tomorrow, and I could take it with me, but as I’m only doing carry on, I don’t want to bring an extra binder on the plane. Maybe I’ll take out the last 50 pages or so and just bring those with me, but then I’ve got books to read too. But I digress.

The rereading process has helped me to come up with some new ideas for the plot that I think will make the story stronger. This has also made a good chunk of what I originally wrote irrelevant, but maybe that’ll change once I get into the rewriting. There are also characters now that I have to really question their place in the story, but I’ll figure that out later too.

Once I’m done reading the story, then I’ll start on the rewrite. I know the first scene that I plan on working on, and that will hopefully get the ball rolling for everyone else. The rewriting process will also require some research, and there are some materials that I’ll need to pick up somewhere, namely maps of Milwaukee, a bus schedule, etc. There’s a book that I’ll probably go to from time to time called the Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were, that’s a fun reference for things fantastical.

I have a story that is done that I really need to find a market for. Does anyone know of a good place to send humorous stories of a slice of life type nature? It’s a little under 4,000 words, and based on a something that happened to one of my in-laws.

Then I have another story of about 7,500 words that’s getting to be five years old now that’s been through many revisions and just needs one more. I like the story as is, but the last couple times I submitted it, the readers said there was a certain scene that I should consider cutting. The scene’s not essential to the plot, and it is a little tacked on, so it could go.

I think that’s about it. For the long term, I hope to have Fae Meds done by the end of the year, but I won’t stress about it too much. I’ve got enough stress as it is.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pothole to the Center of the Earth (dun Dun DUN!)

Today, as I was driving in to work, I saw the *cue dramatic voice over* Pothole to the Center of the Earth. I was eastbound on Route 58 (Golf Road) and the pothole was in the far right lane as you pass under I-294. I saw the monster of a hole just in time, which prompted an "oh shit" as I swerved toward the shoulder and a "please, please, please" as I passed over it. You see, there isn't much room on the right, because there's some kind of construction going on, so the lanes shift under the bridge and I didn't want to run into the cement barricades.

This hole was a monster it was. From what I could see, it looked to be about two feet long, nearly a foot wide and as much as a foot deep. I could see the fire's of Hell burning at the center, and I heard that this is one of the locations that the Mole People will be staging their invasion of the surface world.

The Underminer, leader of the Mole People.
Mole People typically have poor eyesight and avoid bright lights.

Beyond the hole, I saw at least five cars that had stopped on the shoulder going up the onramp to I-294 and on the toll way itself that all had flat front passenger-side tires. I managed to successfully avoid the hole and escape unscathed.

I travel this route every day and have seen the hole before, but it never looked as big as it did today. I'm assuming this monstrous hole has grown on a steady diet of melting snow and ice, fluctuating temperatures and constant wear. By tomorrow, the hole will probably have swallowed half of Chicagoland, growing exponentially as it links with other potholes of monumental proportions, which Chicago is known to have.

Potholes like the one above have been known to swallow suburbans whole.

One of the first things I did this morning was go onto the Illinois Department of Transportation website and let them know about this soon-to-be-swimming pool. Hopefully they'll fill it quickly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Kitchen Experimentation 2-10-09

I actually made this on Sunday, but haven't gotten around to blogging about it until today. It seems that Sundays have become the day to play in the kitchen if I'm not working. Two months ago when I went grocery shopping I bought some stew meat, not knowing exactly what I would do with it, but wanting to do something with it. Saturday night we were looking throught the cook books and couldn't find anything that we wanted to try, and then Brandi remembered a recipe she'd seen on a mommy message board she's on. It sounded good, so we decided to go with that. It didn't have a name, but here's the recipe:
1 cup beef broth or red wine (we used a 2002 Merlot)
2 pounds stew meat
1 package onion soup mix
1 can cream of mushroom soup
chopped mushrooms (optional)

Put in the crock pot and cook on low for eight hours. Just before serving, stir in a 1/4 cup to a 1/2 cup of sour cream.

Here it is before cooking. It kind of looked like brains. Mmmmmmm brainzzzzzzz.

Here it is after cooking for eight hours, but before the sour cream was added.

It was served over rice with some cauliflower.

It was quite tasty, if a bit winey, when it was done, and the rice soaked up much of the extra sauce. The meat was extremely tender after simmering for so long and the house was filled with the aroma of it cooking all day, which was pleasent. I'd definitely make it again.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Library Patrons are a Wierd Bunch

Library patrons are wierd. Granted, since the library is a free and public place, you're apt to get all kinds of people coming through.

We've got a couple regular wierdos. There's crazy Carol. She's obsessed with Peter Sellers and old movies, and she's written Sellers as her last name on her library card. She doesn't have a phone, she lives by herself and she is in the library every day, several times a day. Actually, she doesn't come into the library. It is her ghost that stalks the library. That's right, her ghost. Apparently, years ago, she was talking to the reference librarians when all of a sudden her eyes rolled into the back of her head and she hit the floor like a bunch of bricks. Emergency services was called and they had to give her one of those adrenaline shots right into her heart and she woke up, but she was technically "dead" for about three minutes. She says odd things to the staff and is severly lacking in the social graces department. My first day there, she walked by the counter and asked my supervisor if I'd been warned about her yet.

Then there's David, this older man, retired, who is very hard of hearing. He calls several times a day to talk to the reference librarians. Apparently, he watches the news with his hearing aid off. He half hears something and then calls in to have the librarians research it for him. He's always polite. When he comes in, he always borrows the desk phone to call a cab to come home. He ends up shouting into the phone because he can't hear the person on the other end.

There's a homeless man that comes in every day. He doesn't bother anyone, doesn't usually say anything to anyone. He just sits around, surfs the net, has some coffee, and then leaves when we make the closing announcement 15 minutes before we lock up. Rumor has it that he actually has a lot of money that his father left for him in a trust. He also has a lawyer (I did hear from someone that he is a lawyer), and I've heard that he's threatened to sue the library when people complained about his odor and someone from the staff approached him about trying to clean up some before he comes in.

But what prompted me to talk about wierdos at the library happened yesterday. We've got a couple of geeky patrons that come in fairly regularly, usually they come to me to check out their materials (like attracts like I guess). Well yesterday, there was an older man that was sitting in one of the chairs near the entrance and he appeared to be sleeping. One of my coworkers and I were discussing him, whether or not he was sleeping, and I suggested poking him with a stick. The more socially maladjusted of the two geeky guys came in and I was checking out his materials and he said something like "I could make a low frequency sound grenade for you, that would wake anyone up if they were sleeping." Trying very hard not to laugh in his face I said that we didn't need one and it really wasn't any big deal. He offered again, and I declined. Then he took whatever DVDs he was borrowing, Battlestar Galactica or something, and left.

Who knows what my next shift will bring.

Friday, February 6, 2009

25 Things

Well good golly, if everyone else is doing it, I might as well do it too.

1. I married my highschool sweetheart, and am still madly in love with her.

2. I took Kendo lessons for a year before Logan was born, and sometimes I really miss being able to hit people with a stick and not get in trouble for it.

3. My first concert was The Eels when I was 18. (I know, it's sad. (I meant that it wasn't until I was 18, not that it was The Eels. The Eels kick ass.))

4. Since moving out to Des Plaines, I've become adept at cleaning up basement floods. I have a feeling I might get more practice this weekend.

5. I like to experiment in the kitchen, and it turns out pretty good 80% of the time.

6. I've had dinner with a semi-popular science fiction author/blogger.

7. I'm a decent writer, but can't paint or draw worth a damn.

8. In addition to my younger brother, I have two syblings that are 9+ years older than me, and three syblings-in-law that are 9+ years younger than me.

9. Thanks to UIC, I generally perfer the taste of Pepsi over Coke, however, I prefer Cherry Coke over Cherry Pepsi.

10. I have written two "novels" and am in the process of revising the second.

11. I do not eat salsa in any form. It is a vile, disgusting food.

12. I have no musical talent whatsoever. I tried learning string bass in fifth grade; that was the end of my musical career.

13. I have never beat my wife in a game of Life, whether it's just the two of us playing or with a group of people.

14. My favorite type of cookie is the sugar cookie.

15. My first car, The Dust Mobile, was a maroon colored, 1988 Chevy Astro Van that was perpetually covered in dust and dirt and was slowly getting eaten away by rust. I loved that car, and sometimes wish I could have it back.

16. I was a member of Scholastic Bowl in high school. One of the geekiest questions I ever answered was naming five of the titles in the Dune series.

17. I enjoy the smell of stale cigarette smoke and find it strangely comforting.

18. The farthest I've ever been from home is Hawai'i. And I've never been out of the country.

19. Contrary to #5, I sometimes think I could live off of Beef Ramen noodles.

20. I once hit myself in the shin with an axe. It was an accident. It hurt, and I now have a dent in my shin bone.

21. After I get a cold in October or November, I'm typically congested until March or April.

22. I am a Freemason.

23. I've gotten so drunk I've thrown up twice, and each time I swore I would never do that again.

24. My teacher in fifth grade would write, film, edit and direct movies for his class each year. I was cast as the idiot bully.

25. I’m a member of a super-secret organization called the UCF. According to Jeri, we’re dedicated to international espionage, debunking bad science, creative writing and comment-hijacking.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reality Shows Spewing Unreality?

I'll admit that I've seen a few reality television shows. Note that this doesn't mean that I follow any so called "reality" programming, but I've seen more than I would care to see of this TV phenomenon. It's been argued that reality shows aren't really real in that the footage is manipulated and the participants are coached to make more drama.

Well what about the unreal expectations that reality shows present to those that watch them and follow them, those people who watch these shows and think 'That could be me; I could be winning that money/losing that weight/finding love/etc.'

Finally, an experienced and trusted news source has started to address this issue.

In The Know: Are Reality Shows Setting Unrealistic Standards For Skanks?

Oh man, what would we do without The Onion?