Saturday, December 23, 2006

How many days until...

1. I am not ready for Christmas. Somebody else is.

2. Did I mention about The Beatles' LOVE thing? I can't stop listening to it.

I realized why it sounds as good as it does (then I went and verified by finding some interviews with George & Giles Martin...)

When this stuff was initially recorded, the technical limitations of the time meant that these songs were recorded to 4-track tape -- at least up through Sgt. Pepper's. By the White Album they were up to 8-track recording.

But the majority of this stuff is from 4-track masters. Since there are more than four things recorded, there was a lot of jockeying and jostling of sounds. Sometimes things were recorded at the same time though a mixer to one track on the tape. More often, The 4-tracks on one tape were mixed down to 1, 2, or 3 tracks of a fresh tape so that there was more room to put overdubs - like strings and vocals and other guitars.

All the past Beatles releases have been from the final 4-track master - after all the bouncing and combining had already been done. This tape could be three or four generations removed from the original tape. Meaning that whatever was recorded first -- likely drums, guitars and pianos and things -- has been COPIED three or four times.

How does it sound when you copy a tape on your stereo? How about when you copy a VCR tape? Then what happens when you copy it again? And again? At what point does it look too shitty to even watch?

Granted -- the equipment used at Abbey Road is a far cry from the home dual-cassette deck, but it's still a copy of a copy of a copy and by the nature of the medium it loses some gloss and sparkle with each copy.

NOT ONLY THAT -- but these final 4-track masters are what the original records were duplicated from, what the CD's were duplicated from... They have probably been played more times than any other tapes in the history of modern recording. Playing tape degrades tape -- plain and simple. It wears out.

So our good friends the Misters Martin went back to the ORIGINAL TAKES. Before the bouncing and combining.

They imported the four tracks from that first tape into ProTools. They went on to the next tape and added whatever overdubs it held. And the next tape. And the next tape.

This way, instead of only have four tracks to work with on say, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, now they have eight or ten, or more. And all the generation loss is gone. And it's very likely these tapes HAVE NOT EVEN BEEN PLAYED since the day they were recorded and then bounced to another tape. Sure, Mark Lewisohn may have played with some of them when he combinated all the Anthology stuff, but he tended to work with more completed things, so there's gotta be stuff that hasn't been touched since 1964 on there.

And it sounds AMAZING.

I want more.

Giles Martin's next task should be the creation of 5.1 mixes of the whole fucking catalog. Thanks. I'll be waiting for that right over here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm stunned. Floored. Holy shit.

I must be living in a cave or something. Up until now I'd only heard a few rumblings about The Beatles: LOVE project.

This project somehow involves legendary Beatles producer George Martin, his son, Cirque du Soleil, and the original recordings made at Abbey Road Studios during the 8 year period the Beatles were active.

I had heard a small rumbling about somehow mish-mashing songs together and making a new album, and I really didn't think much of it. They're always trying to grab more money from Beatles fans around the holidays, so I pretty much dismissed it as another throw away.

But today I heard it.

And all I can really say is...


For real. I put the disc in the car while I was driving earlier today but I had someone else in the car, so I turned it down to just barely audible and didn't really note much detail on the first half of the thing.

But on my way home from work today, I was alone. I let it play from where it was and turned it up so I could really hear it. And at some point I looked at the CD player and noticed it was on track 11. It started playing John Lennon's demo recording of Strawberry Fields. At least I'm pretty sure it was the demo version featured on Anthology.

And the first thing I noticed was the fidelity. It was unreal, like I was totally immersed in the sound of this man and his guitar -- a sound which was recorded seven years before I was even born. This sound, as old as I know it is, sounded like it was recorded five minutes ago, it was so alive and real... but before I could marvel any more about the overall sonic quality of the thing, I realized the studio recording of Strawberry Fields was now playing. But it still had the vocals from the demo. Music from the studio version. Vocals from the demo - which was cut with one mic in a Spanish bedroom recording a voice and guitar. Over the studio music. And it fucking works. It's like magic. And it just keeps going, on and on. Songs seque into songs and parts from the wrong songs flow in and out of the thing and it's all in key and sounding... I dunno... RIGHT. It sounds right.

It sounds like what would have happened if these songs had been recorded now and The Beatles not only had full access, but the whole bag of skills, to twist and edit their music in a modern digital workstation.

BUT IT DOESN'T SOUND FUCKING DIGITAL. The sound of it utterly crushes me.

The songs here are presented in a more modern light. The odd stereo panning of the old songs -- which was never an artistic decision in the first place, it was purely commercial so that consumers with a mono record player could still listen to the Stereo version of the LP -- is tossed away. The songs are mixed with a modern stereo image in mind. Drums and vocals are firmly in the center of the image. Guitars, bass, pianos, and all kinds of shit flitters around on the outer edges of the speakers.

These songs done this way are powerful. They certainly don't sound 40 years old. The edits and layering are astounding. Not only is there more going on than you could ever absorb in a single listen, but it's also presenting things in a new light so you're hearing things which were buried way down in the original mixes shining through loud and clear.

Do yourself a favor (and contribute to Mr. McCartney's next tropical island) and go get a copy.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Going solo

I tried. I really, really tried.

But I think I found the key to the whole thing.

See -- last year when I did NaNoWriMo, I had other people in my immediate circle doing it, too. I could check their stats and see that they were creeping up on the big lead I created early on, so I would write more.

After week 2 when I hit the wall, I could check stats and see I was completely caught-up to and passed by friends. So I really had to write more.

This year it was just me. Only me. No other stats to check, no nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "open it. type. every little bit helps."

This year I was looking for big blocks of time to write big blocks of text.

I found one such block over Thansgiving -- I knocked out 5,000 words in just over two hours one evening. I did a thousand more the night before that.

But, when added to the 7,500 words I had prior to that, I only manged a total of 13,684 words for all of November.

So I've got the first quarter of a story here... I dunno when I'll finish it, but I need to figure something out before October of next year cuz I don't want this one to be on my mind when it comes time to start up a new one.

Hopefully next year my peeps will be back in action. I really hope so, cuz while I'm not really bummed out, I do miss the feeling I had last year when I actually managed to write a novel.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Where's Ringo?

Virgin says there are 74 bands in this image. How many can you find?

(click the image for the full resolution graphic or you'll be missing half of the easy ones...)

My finds are in the comments so as to not spoil all your fun with the easy ones.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"And in my dying breath..."

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and it was brought to the forefront of my actual conscious brain today when I got an e-mail reminding me of a very specific event in my past. We're talking a split-second, blink-and-you'll-miss-it kind of thing. It is the kind of thing that brings back a flood of memories -- all of them good -- and it made me give voice to what I had been going over in my head.

As I look at all the things I've done -- including all the stupid shit, terrible decisions, bad choices, and horrible people I've put up with over the years... I realize that every bit of that stuff, no matter how terrible or how amazingly fantastic all adds up into what I am today. If you take away any part of my past experience, I would not be the same person. If you were to take away just one wrong choice or derail one thread of unhappiness, where would that leave me today?

It's something I've often pondered - and moreso since getting the lyrics to "A Question" stuck in my head over ten years ago. But now there's a physical manifestation of these thoughts.

When I look at my little boy I see the sum of all the things I've done. I see the toll of all the choices I've made.

And I see without a doubt -- I have no regrets. Given the chance, I wouldn't change anything. I would love to go do some of those thing again (and again, and again,) but I see no need to change any of it.

The question that lies within
Is so hard to understand
It still tears at me
And in my dying breath
My heart holds no regrets
I wouldn't change a thing

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Failing at not sucking

I stand by my previous posts about NaNoWriMo - sit down and write your story. It's not too late, but you'll have to work extra overtime to ever get finished.

But, as I say that, I have to admit that I am sucking big time. I should be at around 20,000 words in my NaNo Novel. I'm about a quarter of that. And you'll even just have to take my word on it because I haven't bothered to update the word counter thing.

It's not a matter of drive or lack of ideas - I actually had less tangible story when I got to this point last year. All I knew when I started that one was where it was going to end up and that it needed to take the most ridiculous route possible to get there. I had no idea what that route would involve, but I slogged through it and I was pretty happy with what I got out of it.

This year, I started a new one on an old theme -- one of my seminal ideas going back to a WordStar document on my old XT Compaq Luggable. I got about 1500 words into it, thinking to myself that I really might have it this time -- I might be able to take this one all the way to the bank, er, word counter. Whatever.

The second day of working on it, I was blindsided by a whole new idea - one that came fully formed with opening paragraphs and a pretty good idea of where it was going and how it would get there.

So -- I scrapped the first one. Again. I started up the new one about a guy who wakes up with a lump on his forehead. I started writing about how he doesn't understand why his house isn't what he remembers his house to be. And I've got more. It's waiting to come out. But holy shit is it ever hard to write on my current schedule. I've been tapping away on breaks at work (and I should be tapping away here - how many words are in this post which could have been put to better use?) which is why my word count isn't updated... I've got little text files scattered here and there (which my fancy new USB flash drive thing should remedy) and I haven't yet combinated the whole thing back into one document.

I feel compelled to write this novel for many reasons, and most of them selfish, but thanks to Kingo I may have found a bit more inspiration. I'm not sure if it's enough to push me over the top, but it's certainly enough to kick it up a notch and try a little harder.

Kingo sent me a link to Sarahdigm Shift. Now I'm linking right back so you can see what he said she said.

I don't even know what to say here. What I want to do is go find her house and knock on the door and say, "Thank you," in person. I'm sure after reading any part of that book she'd never even unlock the screen door, but I would still offer my thanks for her comments. I also owe her a corrected copy of the book when I get around to it -- that one's got quite a few typos in it.

I'm going to stop blabbering here and go back to the guy with the bump on his forehead. He's about to meet Ted S. Edwards, in the flesh.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Anger Management - Step by Step

1. Grab your guitar. Tune it to standard intervals. The fat string should be tuned to C#.

2. Grab your amp. Turn the pre-gain up all the way. Try to twist the fucking knob off.

3. Still at the amp, turn the post gain or master volume up to a very loud level. From prior experince you should know which point on the indicator summons the cops. If you're only kind of pissed, put it a hair below this point. If you're really pissed, just go a hair past that point.

4. Cue up the CD, record, tape or MP3 of "I'm Broken" from Pantera's Far Beyond Driven album. Make sure it's loud enough to be heard along side your blazing guitar amp.

5. Get ready to go - the guitar starts on the fucking downbeat.

6. When it gets to the halftime part be sure your head swings forward on the kick drum and snaps back (hard) on the snare. Be careful with the string skips, but don't stop the neck snapping.

7. Repeat. Maybe try it with Cemetery Gates or (if your wrist is up to it) the Cowboys.

7a. Kick stuff.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

just another day

Thirteen years ago today I had a busy day. I remember very clearly that it was a Friday. I had just had the transmission replaced in my fabulous '81 Buick Century. When I picked it up, the brakes still didn't work worth a shit, so I ended up taking my mom's car to work. I was working at the college campus in the shitty convenience store they had wedged into a double-sized closet and on Fridays I had to arrive early to unload the weekly delivery truck.

The Friday before, I had gone to work aiming to win the Halloween costume contest. I showed up at work dressed as a buxom bimbo - and I neglected to take any other clothes with me so I got to go to a meeting at the radio station and hang out with my friends in the afternoon wearing my mother's skirt which I could barely pull up over my fat ass.

Despite my ridiculous attire, my best friend Paul still stopped by and dragged me out of that shithole so we could go have an ultra-healthy Marriott fried lunch nextdoor. But, the whole thing was worth it. I weathered all of the, "Holy shit that's one ugly fucking woman," comments and ended up with a gift certificate to the mall (which was promptly exchanged for a Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack.)

But thirteen years ago was the week after Halloween. As I said before, I had a busy day. I had to go to work and unload the truck. I had to actually pick up my car after work, then I had to drive back to the college to pick up my share of band crap because we had a show that night.

My band played every year for some fraternity's benefit party. You probably know the fraternity even if you didn't go to our college -- it was the one which not only admitted girls, but didn't haze or initiate or turn anyone away. All geeks welcome.

We had one of the better (at least better attended) shows that year. I remember my brother dragged a bunch of his friends out to see us play. I remember my friend Trevor showed up toward the end of the evening. When I saw Trevor I remember that I had a brief realization that Paul hadn't met me for lunch that Friday and he had said he was going to come to the show, but I hadn't seen him there. I also remember going home and collapsing out of sheer exhaustion around 4 A.M.

Sometime early the next day, I was aware of someone knocking on my door. My stepfather was telling me to get the phone. I don't think he said who it was, but he might have said something about it being "some girl."

As I reached for the phone, I was overcome by a very real sense of dread and somehow I knew who it was and what she was going to say even before I said, "Hello?"

The phone call was from Paul's girlfriend. She told me he had shot himself the night before. I didn't have to ask if he was OK. I knew he wasn't.

I spent the next period of my life in a daze - that period lasting for around ten years. Throughout the year I would battle low periods and thoughts of suicide. The only guarantee was every year at Halloween I would become incredibly depressed and suicidal. I came very close on a few occasions, but something always stayed my hand.

A few years ago my wife talked me into seeing a counselor. I was reluctant, but I eventually gave in.

Thirteen years ago I lost my best friend. I spent the next decade of my life trying to follow his path. This year is the first time I can look back to that day and remember the songs I played with my band and the fun that we had without thinking about how, at the same time, my best friend was dying.

So on this Guy Fawkes night, do me a favor and raise a glass to your heroes whoever they may be. You can also do yourself a favor and get some help if you're being crushed by depression. Try this for a start:

Post Secret

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Write it. Now.

If the image doesn't show up, try again. The NaNoWriMo server appears to be getting slaughtered by page requests.

(which is just a fancy way of saying, "Everybody else is doing it, why aren't you?")

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I _need_ an Esteban Chord Chart

Seriously, my life seems incomplete without one.

If you haven't seen it, you should really try to catch Esteban on HSN when he's hawking his shitty burswood (fancy slang for PLYWOOD) guitars and bunging up scales like a true tone-deaf champion.

Anyhow, the chord chart is easily the biggest item in the package - like a big-ass movie poster... and it says "ESTEBAN" right at the top and has a fancy Esteban silhouette behind the (hopefully) misfingered chords and you can hang it up to show everyone how awesome you are.

I really want people to know how awesome I am. I need an Esteban Chord Chart.

Unfortunately, the only way you can get one is to order a package deal from HSN. The trouble with that is that it comes with the guitar. And other shit which I really don't need to spend good shipping fees on just to have it brought to my house. And really, who believes it when HSN tells you their $197.95 price is a fantastic deal since the retail value on all of the items in the package, if purchased separately, is over $802.67?

First, you can't buy the items separately. I tried. HSN would not budge when I insisted they sell me the chord chart for $14.95 or $19.95 or whatever the fuck was on their "if priced separately" list. I even offered them more. I think I was offering $30 or $40 and they still said they couldn't do it.

Second, HSN seems to be a little dodgy with their decimal placement. By my estimation, all of the stuff in the package -- the plywood guitar, the pre-rusted strings, the already-has-a-short-in-it cable, the can't-hear-it-because-I'm-breathing-and-that-masks-the-sound guitar amp, the picks, the chart, the books, the fabulous DVD's -- all of that shit comes up to about $8. And that includes the shipping from China.

But, I digress. I need an Esteban Chord Chart.

Isn't there someone out there who got one of these hunks of shit from their grandma, or from their evil step-mother? Give me the chord chart. You can keep the other crap so you can point it out when the demon-spawn who foisted it on you comes by for a visit. "See there Grandma? There's the Esteban guitar you got for me. I'd love to play it for you, but I was playing "House of the Rising Sun" on it earlier and the sharp fret edges filleted my finger tips. I'd love to play it for you, but I have to wait until my hamburger hands heal up."

And now, here's the saddest news of all.

I found the chord chart. It had to dig several pages deep into a google search to unearth it. You can find it here.

I'll wait down here while you check that out.


Isn't that just a pisser?

$11.95 for the chord chart. And they give you a free amp, cable, and books, too. I guess that's to weigh down the package so it doesn't blow away when UPS leaves it on your porch. (unless you have the spiteful UPS man who silently sneaks up to the door and slaps his yellow tag on the window without bothering to knock. "No. Really, mr. UPSman, I wasn't waiting here all day for that delivery. I'm really glad you took my highly anticipated, and probably very valuable purchase with you to sit in your truck overnight in some nasty UPS hole. Thanks. Thanks a lot. I guess you probably thought I ordered an Esteban guitar and you were thinking you were doing me a favor.'")

WHY IS IT FUCKING SOLD OUT? WHO THE FUCK WOULD EVER WANT ONE? It's not even advertised properly - they're trying to sell you on the amp. Jeez. What the fuck am I supposed to do now?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Give it to Mikey.

Funky Smith posted a recipe. My wife wants to try it. She told Funky about this. Now Funky is telling my wife to eat Spag. instead of her recipe. I dunno why. That's just the story I heard.

So, to make Funky feel better, I will post a recipe that she (and everyone else) is welcome to try. I hear it goes great with fresh bananas and milk.

1 oz. toenails

2 tbsp. dead arm hair

1 pinch of crud from under the lip of the kitchen counter

4 early-morning eye crusts

3 dozen chocolate chips

1/2 cup egg beaters

1/3 cup cottage cheese

15 bite-sized chunks of beefsteak

7 sticks of sugarless gum

Mix first five ingredients in a small sauce pan on high heat.

When the chocolate begins to burn to the bottom of the pan pour in the egg beaters and the cottage cheese. Stir for twenty-five minutes. Keep heat on high. Do not stop stirring.

Balance the beefsteak chunks on the ends of the gum sticks. You have an extra one in case you drop one on the floor. (you wouldn't want to get any germs in the recipe)

Drop the balanced beef-gum into the pot one at a time. The gum should get sticky and wrap around the beef. If it doesn't, try to stab it with a fork and twist it around.

Once you have the gum wrapped neatly around all the beefsteaks, stir the whole mess for about an hour. But take a ten minute break every fifteen minutes. Leave it on high heat the whole time or it won't come out right.

After you've stirred it for an hour, place the pan on a cookie sheet and put the whole shebang into a preheated 550 degree oven.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Take it out of the oven and serve hot.

Serves two.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Protesting the Stupids, pt. 2



He is now READING STATS off of some web page OUT LOUD for the benefit of
everyone around him.

One pick. 33 yards.
358 yards. That's a league record.
So is the 386.

I hope he chokes on a field goal.

a day late. several dollars short.

See here for National Protest the Stupids Day

I am protesting the stupids today.


I am lodging a full-scale protest.

The stupid is RIGHT HERE talking about the football. I protest.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

I may be Sacky, but...

I don't care what kind of horn you play:


It's just not right.

I got my pencil...

now gimme something to write on.

Dust off your AST PowerExec laptop and your fancy clip-on trackball.

Less than two weeks until another installment of NaNoWriMo.

For those who don't know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. You get 30 days to eat turkey, visit the in-laws, shop for Christmas, and somehow hack out a 50,000 word novel.

I did it last year. I actually finished a book for the first time in I dunno how many false starts.

This year leaves me wondering if I should even bother -- let's compare:

Last year I had a stupid job which had me home most of the time.
Last year I had a pregnant wife who also wrote a novel while she continued being pregnant.
Last year I had a semi-fresh idea which I wasn't afraid to explore.

This year I have NO TIME. None. Time is extinct as far as I'm concerned.
This year we have a baby who requires LOTS OF ATTENTION. Giving attention to a baby is time consuming. Back up a few sentences if you forgot how much time is available.
This year I have a new slant on an old idea, but I'm scared of it because I've started and restarted it several times over the years and it never goes anywhere.

So yeah, write a book. Maybe I'll read it in my spare time.

my brain is turning to mush

1. I have a cough. Probably bronchitis. Or worse. I wish it would stop.

2. The football guy is going NON-STOP because there are no calls coming in.

I'm so sick of hearing about Raven's stats from '99 and 2000. Seriously. WHO THE FUCK CARES?

I wonder if he knows what kind of picks Jeff Loomis uses. I could tell him, but I don't think he'd give a shit - kinda the same way I feel about everything coming out of his mouth.

OH. I should clarify something from my initial post about the Football Talker.

He does have something to do with the Ravens. He plays in the band. He gets to go to all the home games for free and toot his horn.


fartypants jones

I can eat a box of cookies for dinner if I want to. Can you do that?

No, you can't. Because you're a fart-faced kid.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Get 'em while they're young

Make sure your children get an early start in computer education.

Here's what my son, who is just five and a half months old can do (with a little help from his mother):

From MSN Messenger

Baby says:
';' cv
Daddy says:
hi there, mr. baby
Baby says:
d ]]]]-]`====-
Daddy says:
are you having a good day?
Baby says:
Daddy says:
don't tear off any keys
Baby says:
./=- i7j88uh7tr6555555555555555555y6gv bn u=76
Baby says:
8ip8o0-9999999999999999999099 0p-['?
Daddy says:
where is your dog book?
Baby says:
Daddy says:
I don't think it's there.
Daddy says:
Where did you leave it?
Baby says:
I gave him his own computer and now he's kicking it
Baby says:
Off the couch
Daddy says:
that's what he usually does with it
Baby says:
but he's mad because his doesn't light up
Daddy says:
that's for sure
Daddy says:
take the battery out of mine and put it in that one. It might turn on if you're persistent with the power button
Baby says:
Baby says:
Daddy says:
Why does he like the CAPS LOCk so muh?
Daddy says:
Baby says:
under his hand
Baby says:
he likes whatever is under his hand
Baby says:
do you get free pizza toay?
Daddy says:
i dunno what we get
Baby says:
Baby says:
doodle says ok
Daddy says:
that's good
Baby says:
78888888YMV`GHY7FCV ``````````````````````````````````````````28IJK PU,U,7

Monday, October 16, 2006

Way to go, Microsoft!

I know I'm not stupid. However, it's nice to have it validated from time to time.

The following is from a recent book on how to write DirectX code outside of C++:

"Managed DirectX was released with the latest version of the core DirectX libraries in DirectX9. It enables developers using the new .NET languages (i.e. C#, VB.NET, etc.) to develop rich multimedia applications with DirectX. Unfortunately the Managed DirectX runtime was released without adequate documentation, and developers are having a hard time figuring out the best way to write managed applications. This book covers how to use the Managed DirectX objects, how they differ from the core DirectX libraries..."

Thursday, October 12, 2006


20 GOTO 10

There you have it. The first kind of computer program I learned how to write. I could even do it in two versions. The one -WITH- a semi-colon would print horizontally, wrapping the text when it got the edge of the fabulous 80-column green or amber screen (IF YOU WERE LUCKY) or the TV (NOT SO LUCKY NOW, ARE YOU?) that you had your Tandy hooked to. OR -- if you left out the semi-colon then it would just print a single in-line column of your selected slogan.

Simple. Maybe that's why they called it BASIC.

Somewhere along the line, I learned PASCAL, as well. Shortly thereafter (along the line) I forgot anything at all about actually DOING Pascal. I do remember making a fully functional Minesweeper program in my fancy class, however. I also remember having Kingo help me with some part of an assignment and we got some kind of crazy error message upon running whatever the program was. We dug deep into the manual and found a reference to it - which stated specifically, "You should never see this error."

So yeah, even way back, I was perfectly adept at ruining the innards of computers.

Around about 1998, I stumbled upon VBScript. VBScript is an offshoot of Microsoft's Visual Basic language. Visual Basic is a souped up version of the old standby which I first learned - only now it has Windows form components so you can drag-n-drop buttons and text boxes and menus and assign some code to events - like when the user clicks on the "OK" button.

VBScript left out most of the GUI garbage and focused on getting shit done - shit in a "sneaking around behind the beast" way of administratinizing Windows machines.

I managed to cobble together some VBScript tools for my job and realized a new sense of satisfaction. Sure, they were simple tools but -- no one else had done it (and many had tried) and, most importantly, they fucking worked. In one instance my VBScript which took a few days of learning-while-coding saved the company a lot of money by negating the purchase of some outside tool.

I also played around a little bit with the full-fledge Visual Basic, but not much. And then I left that job and didn't touch any programming for the next 8 years.

Which brings me to my new job. I'm helpdesking, and over the course of any given day, I can be called on to execute the same task, or set of tasks, a number of times. Since I hate repetition of labor, my mind instantly starts churning and looking for a way to make it easier, faster, better, or more fun.

In the sense of most of the jobs I've had, the "more fun" option is the only one which ever seems feasible, but is usually out of the question due to some shitty policy like, "no throwing cakes" or "don't ride the shopping carts."

In the sense of Windows administration, this line of thinking leads to creating working tools that cut repetition out of the picture. Never mind that the actual task only takes 3 minutes. If I have to do it three times in a day, I become furious and frustrated. So, I take the time, away from work, or on breaks, to dust off my scripting skills and create a utility to do my job for me. In the sense of this particular utility, all of my co-workers will also benefit.

But that brings me to the deeper problem. I'm never really content with any one thing. I've always been flighty when it comes to my interests and I've never managed to acquire any real mastery of all the things I pursue. Except for fixing the hardware side of computers. On that count, I will dare you to find an equal.

But with everything else, I manage to attain some modicum of proficiency and that's usually good enough for me. I can play the guitar, but I don't have mastery of music theory. I can bash out a beat on a drumset, but I lack the nuance and feel of a good drummer. I can make a guitar or write a story, but all of these efforts seem as if they're forced into existence as half-assed creations and not the true artistic expressions they could be.

The same goes for the various jobs I've had - but over these years I've recognized a certain feeling of belonging. A feeling of "this is right" that rarely comes along. In the eight years since I stumbled upon VBscript programming, I've only consistently maintained an interest in one thing. Race cars and toys and bands have all come and gone - but I've been unable to go more than a few days without futzing with some kind of audio recording. I get a feeling that says "this is it" and it seems right.

I get that same feeling when some program I wrote actually does what it's supposed to do.

I tried to make a living at the audio recording. It might have worked, but I took too big a step - more like a giant fucking leap - to actually maintain any momentum in the cold, harsh real world of bill collectors.

And now I've made the switch from fixing computer hardware (remember - I said up above that it's the one skill I've attained any real mastery in) and I'm back in the kind of environment I was in back in 1998 when my utility programs saved the day.

And I've done it again. And I want more. And I've developed a plan.

My plan is this:

1. Learn by doing.

That's it. That's the whole plan. If I set out to -DO- programming, I'll be able to do it. But in order to make it work and make it stick if it gets tough, it has to be interesting, it has to fit together and it has to bring back that feeling.

So how better to do that than to make some kind of program which records audio?

And that, ladies and germs, is why I try not to make plans.

Because - I have an understanding of how to put things together in Visual Basic - it's easy to follow since it kinda reads like English. Broken, terribly formatted English, but English nonetheless.

What I'm finding is that PEOPLE DON'T MAKE REAL PROGRAMS IN VISUAL BASIC. Actually, I pretty much already knew that. I just chose to ignore it and hope it would go away.
And -- it seems like it's trying to go away. Microsoft has revamped their line of Development tools and Visual Basic is -SUPPOSEDLY- capable of doing anything the others can do.

But I cannot for the life of me find any way to access a soundcard device through Visual Basic.

I can make it play a sound. That's easy. But I'm using system defaults for that. I'm not telling it WHAT DEVICE to use to play the sound. I'm letting Windows pick the device. I WANT TO PICK THE FUCKING DEVICE.

Which leads me to the whole point of this idiotic rant.

Real people use real tools to create real programs.

Real tools in this case means C++

I don't know shit from C++. Not nothing. Not one fucking bit. It strikes me as pathetic that I can copy a few lines of text from a tutorial and make the C++ pop up a box with a message on it, BUT I STILL HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE HOW THE SYNTAX AND STRUCTURE WORKS.

With Visual Basic and VBScript I was able to look at a few lines of code and adapt them to whatever my actual need was. Not so with these crazy bracketses and double colons.

I guess I need a book. Or maybe a class. I fucking hate a class.

#include "unintelligible.h"
#include "make_no_sense.h"
#include "lots of fucking brackets.h"

Don't forget the fucking semi-colons.

static int sound_scream;
static int sound_shout;
static int sound_yell;
static int sound_punch;
static int sound_curse;
static int sound_fuck;

void any_kind_of_sense_at_all (edict_t *self, edict_t *other)
gi.sound (self, CHAN_VOICE, sound_fuck, 1, ATTN_NORM, 0);

void what_the_fuck (edict_t *self)
gi.sound (self, CHAN_VOICE, sound_scratchy, 1, ATTN_NORM, 0);

void fuckit (edict_t *self);
mframe_t berserk_frames_stand [] =
ai_stand, 0, berserk_fidget,
ai_stand, 0, NULL,
ai_stand, 0, NULL,
ai_stand, 0, NULL,
ai_stand, 0, NULL


I promise, I didn't make this last part up.


Running -> Arm raised in air

void() berserk_runb1 =[ $r_att1 , berserk_runb2 ] {ai_run(21);};
void() berserk_runb2 =[ $r_att2 , berserk_runb3 ] {ai_run(11);};
void() berserk_runb3 =[ $r_att3 , berserk_runb4 ] {ai_run(21);};
void() berserk_runb4 =[ $r_att4 , berserk_runb5 ] {ai_run(25);};
void() berserk_runb5 =[ $r_att5 , berserk_runb6 ] {ai_run(18);};
void() berserk_runb6 =[ $r_att6 , berserk_runb7 ] {ai_run(19);};
// running with arm in air : start loop
void() berserk_runb7 =[ $r_att7 , berserk_runb8 ] {ai_run(21);};
void() berserk_runb8 =[ $r_att8 , berserk_runb9 ] {ai_run(11);};
void() berserk_runb9 =[ $r_att9 , berserk_runb10 ] {ai_run(21);};
void() berserk_runb10 =[ $r_att10 , berserk_runb11 ] {ai_run(25);};
void() berserk_runb11 =[ $r_att11 , berserk_runb12 ] {ai_run(18);};
void() berserk_runb12 =[ $r_att12 , berserk_runb7 ] {ai_run(19);};
// running with arm in air : end loop

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

It's good that I have friends. If I didn't, I wouldn't know about half of the fabulous ways to waste time on the Internet.

On our next program: Yeti Sports

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

a L p

1. This should be. No - fuck that. NEEDS TO BE a TV show. Like NOW. Pay the man some money for his idea. Kill the people who made the AvP movie. Buy the rights from Fox, and make this TV show. NOW.

2. Seeing as how there are more than 200 of these, it makes me sad to think how much fun and giggling I've missed.

I guess I'll have to make up for it and read them all tonight.

Favorite Word

Saturday, October 07, 2006

jesus fucking christ

"We've taken three pro-bowl players off their hands."

"We love rookie quarterbacks."

"The only way you get a rating lower than 40 is if you throw lots of interceptions with very few completions."

"The only way that happens if you have more interceptions than completions, you only have two or three completions, and you never throw a touchdown."

"He was seen on the sideline in tears."

"... last season, when we played the Packers, they benched Brett Farve."


I would just like to point out here, that the above quotes do not come from a football player.

They do not come from the coach of football team. They don't come from anyone involved in any way with a football team.

Instead, they are coming (faster than I can type them) from the fellow seated to my right (who is wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey) who has been TALKING ABOUT MOTHERFUCKING FOOTBALL FOR SEVEN HOURS STRAIGHT.

In the process of talking football, he has also accidentally rebooted servers and fucked up other things he is supposed to be fixing.



He would also like you to know that YOU TOO can own a fabulous BALTIMORE RAVENS COUCH IN PURPLE LEATHER, but he can't find the price online or he would also tell you how much it costs.


Saturday, September 30, 2006

Sing it for me, Georgie

Holy cow... somebody has too much time on their hands. I'm glad for that, tho.


Can I get some shells with that?

I hate George W. Bush. I've hated him since day 1. Actually, that's not quite true. I didn't think such an idiotic moron could ever get his party's nomination, so I just laughed at him for the first few months he was on the national radar. But as things geared up, I quickly discovered that it's possible to hate someone and have that hate continue to grow. It grows like a cancer, spreading deeper and deeper with every chuckle and malapropism.

My first fears about George W. Bush came about in the aftermath of the 2000 election. As the country reeled from hanging chads and misplaced Pat Buchanan check boxes -- as we watched Bush's very own campaign advisor decree that there would be no more recounts in Florida (and we knew she meant it because, after all, she was the fucking be-all, end-all person in charge of the whole fucking Florida election...) the fear crept in.

The fear is this - if they'll steal the election, how low will they stoop? What if they get reelected and then refuse to leave office after eight years?

This thinking worried me, because it's the stuff of conspiracy theorists. But it's still there, dug in a little deeper with the questions still unanswered from the 2004 election.

Out of it all, I suppose there's one good thing --

It's times like these when I'm grateful to the Conservatives, Republicans, Christian assholes & everyday rednecks.

You see -- they didn't renew the assault weapons ban. Maybe now's the time to go buy a few. It's nice to be right (see below) but there are sometimes when it's better to be wrong. I really hope I'm wrong.

The New Enabling Act

As Stephen Colbert so proudly says...


Survior Ends Segregation

That's all for now...

Everybody in your town could eat at Fogo de Chao every day for the rest of their lives... and even get a slice of cake, too.

Cost of the War in Iraq

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Blogger won't let the JavaScript run in a post. Although they do allow it in headers so that people can still run shitty pop-ups for spyware. It's worth clicking the link.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stolen information.

This week's Next Best Thing Since Sliced Bread is:

Sliced Wood. Wonderful and exquisite, great for the home, even better for outside, or for the doors, or for boxes, maybe even for hats and big wooden gloves like the dutch have. Succulent slices of prime selected tender streaks of Teak, Oak, or Cedar for everyone. Fuckin A.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Cars Suck it up the Ass
- or -
Thank you for not Fucking Me Big-Time

Some time ago, probably around 90,000 miles or so, my van started shifting funny and making a noise when in Overdrive.

Then, all of a sudden, the funny shifting stopped and it only made the noise sometimes. So I would therefore sometimes think I should get it looked at. But when I had to drive 3 hours every day and work 9 hours and sleep 8 hours and watch a baby for 5 hours every day I ran out of available time to ever take a van to get a transmission flush or looked at or diagnosed or fixed or anything.

So I finally found a block of time to get the transmission flushed on the van. But, the weekend beore that, my in-laws are scheduled to take a trip to the grandparent-land and they don't have enough seats in any of their cars.

I figure, in my infinite wisdom, that THE VAN LASTED THIS LONG, ONE MORE TRIP WON'T KILL IT so I insist they take the van on their trip. A trip which VERY MUCH features OVER THE RIVER and THROUGH THE WOODS as well as a lot of UP OVER THE FUCKING MOUNTAINS.

I am privately eased when I learn they arrived at the place in one piece. You see, I did not go with them. But my wife did. And my baby did. And I stayed at my house and disassembled my train table and cleaned my living room while blasting Star Wars movies through a very loud Dolby Digital EX receiver which recently found its way to my house by way of I BOUGHT IT FOR MYSELF AS AN ANNIVERSARY PRESENT SINCE I ALWAYS CONFUSE EVERYONE WHEN I GIVE THEM A LIST OF "GIFT IDEAS."

The next day, while said fambly are coming home, said van starts sputtering. By the time they make it back home, the van is stalling at stop lights. I take the van to the dealer to have it diagnosed.


I say, "."

But then I call the other place who does lots of work for me and they relate a tale of unscrupulous dealers selling unnecessary transmissions to customers when all it needs is a good flush.

So I have the van towed to the other place. And they flush it. And they test drive it. And they call me and say, "HEY! WE FLUSHED YOUR VAN - HELL, WE GAVE IT A 125% FLUSH AND IT'S RUNNING CLEAN FLUID ALL THE WAY THROUGH IT NOW," in their very excited service center guy voice. And then he says, "BUT IT'S STILL BUSTED AND YOU'LL NEED A NEW ONE."

And I say, "."

And I think to myself, "Thank you for not fucking me big-time."

I think to myself, "I'm really glad you talked me into a $225 transmission flush-and-fill on top of having to buy a new fucking transmission. Thank you for not fucking me big-time."
So they are $800 cheaper than the dealer on transmission replacment and I tell them to do it and I have to drive in my wife's car for a day because of DEAD VAN and then we realize it's going to be more like a week or two before we can actually afford to pay for a new transmission, so we rent a car.

I now get to drive my wife's car and my wife gets to drive the rental car.

Within 15 minutes of picking up the rental car, she backs it into a pile of dirt, gravel, and asphalt.

Within two seconds of driving my wife's car, I realize it's totally unsafe at any speed. It wobbles and swerves and steers itself into oncoming traffic. All in all, it's a fantastic conveyance for dropping off and picking up the baby. Really.

So I go get THIS CAR looked at.

The guy who test drives it comes back and says, "HOOOOOOO BOY! THAT'S A WILD RIDE, ISN'T IT?"

Then he puts it on the lift and looks for loose suspension components. Nothing is loose. But the tires look terrible. Especially on the back.

We have a meeting about the car. This meeting takes place under the car. I am holding the baby. Car is jacked up in the air. The meeting decides that the struts are all shot and need to be replaced. It also needs four tires. And an alignment.

The estimate for that MINUS the tires was $900.

Tires were between $75 and $105 each.

I opted for two new tires to evaluate the situation and see if it still felt 100% crazy or if it felt that the rear struts were causing most of the problem.

Two new tires on the front. Drove home. Seemed better. Much better, actually, in the front end. No shake or shimmy or terrible steering. But the rear end is loose like a goose and feels like it's going to spin out on 2 mph turns.

Then I further evaluated my options. The parts I needed for the strut replacment were slated at $135 each for the rear and $80 each for the fronts. I found the same parts with the SAME EXACT PART NUMBERS for almost half those prices at local parts stores.

I also found that the procedure to replace the front struts does not involve a spring compressor and should only take 15 minutes so I didn't understand the $80 PER SIDE charge for labor.

I took it upon myself to follow the procedure for the front struts. I bought two new inserts and rented the fancy GM tool to remove/reinstall them.

I started on the driver side strut. It came right out, as advertised. It went back together mostly as advertised, until it came time to tighten the retainer cap with the rented tool.

I torqued that son-of-a-bitch down to the designated spec, but it looked like it was only grabbing on three or four threads. The process was being complicated by the fact that the lower part of the strut (which doesn't get changed) is cocked at an angle under the spring pressure.
I figured it was good enough to get it to the place and they could tighten it if it was loose. So I took it there to have them do the rear struts and the aligning.

And they did.

And they called me the next day.


And I said, "."

So that explains why I had every problems since the bottom whole part what I didn't even ever adjust was sitting wrong cuzza some part is stripped. THANKS> GM.

I hate cars.

I got up this morning and started calling junk yards because BOTTOM PART OF LUMINA STRUT is not a REPLACEMENT PART and the PARTS STORE does not carry it.

But now, $40 later for a junk yard part and $70 a side to tighten the things I couldn't tighten (which, admittedly, is cheaper than the $80 a side they initially wanted to charge me) and every goddamn else the car is getting fixed.

OH. I forgot to mention. The guy at the place agreed to match the part store price on the struts. So that's good.

But who has $3000 for my fucking transmission?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Tonight, I finished watching Spike Lee's documentary on the aftermath and response to hurricane Katrina.

I'm sickened and appalled.

When you live in a country as rich and diverse as the United States -- where you can be anything and buy anything you desire -- there is no reason to ever go six months without proper housing after a disaster. There is no reason to ever go six months as an unfound corpse on your own kitchen floor. There is no reason to go even a single day without food or water when your government is able to spend billions of dollars a day on a war in a foreign country.

Forget the reasons for the war and whether or not we should even be there. The fact remains, this country is spending vast amounts of money to fight a war in a foreign country EVERY SINGLE DAY and the citizens of Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast are taking it up the ass.

There were two things which really hit hard while I was watching the 2nd part of this documentary:

The first was the revelation that offshore drilling off the coast of Louisiana accounts for the lion's share of this nation's oil supply. It also accounts for 40% of this nation's natural gas supply. Fuck the prices at the pumps - have you seen a natural gas bill lately? I closed my business due in part to the fact that I had two natural gas heat pumps and I was paying nearly $700 a month to heat my studio.

The winter after I left, the new tenants got a bill for over $2500. FOR ONE FUCKING MONTH.

So - somebody, somewhere is making a WHOLE LOT OF FUCKING MONEY.

But not the people of Louisiana. The fellow on my TV tonight said that because these companies drill just past the three-mile line off the coast, they pay $0 to Louisiana. They pay no royalties, no drilling fees, no public use fees, no taxes. Fucking nothing. A royalty does go to the Federal Government - who then uses the money to bomb foreign countries.

In addition to this, there was a recent vote before congress to WAIVE THE ROYALTIES OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS that these companies would have to pay the government. The gist of the bill was that it would "encourage exploration and developing new places to drill."

I was infuriated after reading this bit of news, and I instantly fired off a letter to my Senators. I got a response back from one of them, and it's still hanging on my fridge.

How is it possible, that after all that's happened in Louisiana and the surrounding regions that these companies WHO ARE MAKING RECORD PROFITS THE LIKES OF WHICH THEY NEVER DREAMED POSSIBLE can't support the localities they are raping and... for Christ's sake -- how could anyone ever propose to waive any kind of fee on behalf of the RICHEST MOTHERFUCKERS ON THE PLANET -- especially one worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

The second thing which I will never forget from this film is the part where Spike Lee tracks down the guy who told Dick Cheney to go fuck himself.

The day this happened, my wife and I were on the couch watching CNN or some other news coverage and we saw it -- live and unedited right on the tube. Cheney is prattling on about thsi and that, standing in front of the ruin of someone's house, and all of a sudden, an off-screen voice pipes up with, "Go fuck yourself, Mr. Cheney." And just in case we didn't catch it the first time, cuz Cheney was still blabbering, the fellow is kind enough to speak up a second time -- with the same advice to our Vice President.

Now, I instantly appreciated the balls on this man - after all, here is the Vice President, surrounded by armed secret service agents, and yet this fellow is undeterred. Which is as it should be. But could you honestly tell me you'd do the same thing if you were in his shoes?

The glorious thing about this bit of the tale, at least to me is that the guy who told Cheney to go fuck himself wasn't some hillbilly or uneducated dipshit just out for a good time.

Sure, he spoke with a lazy southern drawl but he was just a guy trying to get to his house to see what was left of it when he was informed he would have to go fifteen minutes out of his way since the Secret Service had his road closed due to the Vice President's visit.

At the end of the film, all of the people introduced themselves -- most of them adding that they were born and raised in New Orleans. But the fellow who told the Dick to go fuck himself - he introduced himself a little differently. He gave his name and then mentioned that he was an emergency room physician at a New Orleans hospital. Not a truck driver or a construction worker. A doctor.

Even after all the heartache on display throughout the whole of this film, I was unable to suppress the deeply satisfied grin which spread across my face when I heard that.

If I could have just one wish, it would be that Bush would somehow evaporate into thin air. But, if I could squeeze out another one, it would be the hope that we could take some of the money we are spending to fight a war in Iraq - not a whole lot of it -- Just what they spend in, oh... I dunno... a week. Or two weeks... I wish we could put that money into a system like the Dutch have built to prevent flooding in their ENTIRE LOW-LYING COUNTRY.

The Dutch system is built to withstand the storm surge from a once-in-ten-thousand-years storm. How does that compare to the Tinkertoys(tm.), Legos, and Lincoln Logs surrounding New Orleans?

I'm proud of the people who want to move back into New Orleans. They have every right to go back to the homes they own and the homes they rent and the places they know and love. They have every right to rebuild it without interference from greedy land developers and oil companies. And they most certainly have the absolute right to feel safe in their homes, knowing that the proper precautions have been taken to ensure their safety, no matter what the cost may be.

No matter what the fucking cost may be.

How quickly we all forget.

Get up off your ass and do something.

Watch the trailer:

In case you missed it on your own - I'd like you to pay close attention to the President's statement on troop withdrawal. And no -- I don't mean the current President.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scenes from a Job, pt. 2


After more than two weeks of WE CAN WORK THIS OUT, I'M SURE, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT from the temp agency guy who I've been telling EVERY DAY about this job place expects me to work an 11:30 AM to 8 PM shift but I was told it was a regular-work-day-hours-9-to-5-or-8-to-4 shift and I NEED TO HAVE THIS RESOLVED NOW RATHER THAN LATER... I had the guy from the temp agency show up at my job today for a meeting.

First he meeted with the work people, and I didn't even know he was here.

Then I was told I had to drop the call I was in the middle of and go talk to the guy.


So I, sitting here no longer in a meeting, still have to ask myself. JUST WHAT DO I WANT TO DO?



I'm having a great. JUST GREAT.

Normally, I would love go to work at 11:30.

But I am no longer in charge. This is going to end badly, I can tell. There will be tears and yelling and maybe throwing things.

I hate it already.

Scenes from a Job, pt. 1


I am working here.

I have no login for the computer and/or the network.

I have no login for the helpdesk software.


The guy brought me a new mouse. It's for PS2.

I can't reboot my machine because of SEE ABOVE.


Friday, September 08, 2006


I have to report about my drive to this new job.

Just past Kuntz Road is:


It's a big church with a big sign.


Dammit. I am killed every time I see it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Oh, Great Glorious Quebecois

It's been more than ten years.


I've been looking all over, with absolutely no luck at all... and then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I find it.

Of course, it's at the Wegman's -- which is the biggest goddamn market I've ever seen -- and it's right there in a plain little package sitting in the cooler.

The label says, "Fresh Cheddar Cheese."

Somehow, in my mind, I never made the connection between the fresh mozzarella my wife likes and the cheese curds I've been craving forever. Well, not forever, but ever since my first trip to Montreal in 1996.

So, yeah. Fresh Cheddar Cheese. I can see beyond the label into the clear plastic tub. I can see the crumbled cheese curds and my heart skips a beat in anticipation of the cholesterol flood it will soon be experiencing.

Because, you see, Cheese Curds were not on the grocery list. But now that I've found them I have to add Heinz Chicken Gravy and a bag of crinkle cut french fries to the list.

In January of 1996, I had my first poutine.

Poutine is a Quebec concoction of the ingredients I listed above -- you get a nice big batch of crispy french fries and some piping hot chicken gravy and a whole GREAT BIG FUCKING PILE of fresh cheese curds and you mix the whole thing up in a bowl and you eat it with a fork.

Poutine may just be the 8th wonder of the world. If you haven't had it, I'm sure it sounds disgusting. It sounded disgusting to me the first time it was described. But then I put a forkful into my face and I was never to be the same person.

Poutine is so important that you can even get it at motherfucking McDonald's (known as "McDo" up north) and Burger King in Montreal. Of course, it's better if you get it from some greasy open-all-night diner in a styrofoam take-out bowl, but in a pinch you'll be pretty damn happy if you have to eat the one from McDo.

I was hampered by my lack of knowledge - I didn't know what the fuck kind of cheese it was in the Poutine. It's like a gooey rubber and doesn't resemble regular cheddar at all. But the stuff in the tub from Wegman's is it.

And now it's in my belly.

Half a bag of Ore-Ida Crinkles.
Half a (big) jar of Heinz Chicken Gravy.
Half a tub of Cheese Curds.

Mix. Eat with fork. Sit back and smile.

Holy shit, am I happy.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A dee-ba dee, That's all ffffolks.

When I started my job back in February, I had no access to anything. After a few days they enabled my Windows account so I could log in to computers. I was perfectly happy using the local admin account prior to this since no one could track my idiot surfing habits that way.

It took a few more days to get e-mail access and even more days to get access to the trouble ticket tracking system.

So that shows you how much importance they put on new people being able to do anything.

Tomorrow is the end of my two-week I QUIT, DAMMIT period. But, they already hired a guy and I have nothing to do since I refuse to order parts on the understanding that it could take two weeks to resolve any discrepancies within the whole Breaktek parts ordering via SAP system. So I called out sick on Wednesday because I was actually sick, but my boss thought I was making it up so he sent me an e-mail which said, "IF YOU WANT TO MAKE THURSDAY BE YOUR LAST DAY I'M FINE WITH THAT."

To which I replied:


Then I didn't get a response. So I reconfigured myself anyhow and said I'm not working on Friday and that's the mindset I enacted.

Still this morning I had no response about if I was done today or done tomorrow. So I called my boss. He didn't answer. I called the other guy I work with. He didn't answer, either. So I sent that guy an e-mail to call me ASAP.

He called about 20 minutes later. I said, "Did you talk to that bosshole?" He said, "Yeah, I was just on the phone with him."

I said, "Did he say about today is my last day or anything like that." The other guy said, "No, he didn't say anything about that. But I just told him I quit." I said, "Good for you."

So then I called the bosshole. He said, "OH! I'm glad you called. You were two items down on my list. So then he says, "I'm fine with you working through tomorrow." And I says, "Well, I'm fine with me being done today." And he says, "I'm fine with that, too." So that was pretty much it. There was supposed to be some kind of exit interview, which I believe consisted of him telling me to leave my company fone with the other guy I work with. And that was it.

So, now with confirmation that I am not working tomorrow, I sent an e-mail to the people at the site and said TODAY IS IT. I'LL STAY THROUGH THE END OF THE DAY AND MONITOR THE CALLS BUT OTHER PEOPLE WILL HAVE TO ORDER PARTS.

And 20 minutes later I couldn't login to my e-mail. Two minutes after that it kicked me out of the call tracking system and said my account was invalid.

So I gathered up my headphones and my CD's and my book and my papers and my jug of Chik-Fil-A iced tea and I said, "See y'as zhnoop."

That place was actually an okay place to work. But, because of the situation of working for an of fuckheads, I will still have to close with:

Fuck that place.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Two obese Pattys...

McDonalds, in their life-long quest to make everything and everyone bigger, is now giving away Hummers with every Happy Meal.

No. I don't mean that kind of hummer. I mean little metal and plastic models of GM's gas-guzzling behemoth. So now they are not only teaching kids how not to chose the right foods, but they're also lending a hand in showing them how to lay waste to the planet and keep gas prices going up, up and up.

Fuck McDonalds. And fuck Hummers. That goes for the H2 and the mini-hummer and any other gigantic V8 monstrosity which can't fit into an oversized parking space.

If you need a ladder to get into your car you better be a truck driver. And I mean a real truck, with 18 wheels. Not a mini-tank which you can't navigate worth a shit and which you inexplicably SLOW DOWN TO A CRAWL to go over a tiny little bump in a parking lot. If you're going to drive an off-road vehicle and waste fuel efficiency by having the biggest, knobbiest, most friction producing mud bogging tires, then at least have the courtesy to bounce it over a few bumps instead of slamming on your brakes and causing me to spill my Chick-Fil-A nuggets on the floor.


Monday, August 28, 2006

How to make me happy in one easy step.

1. Click here:

Of all the reality shows out there, only one can can stop me dead in my tracks every single time, even if it's a rerun. These guys make me hurt I laugh so hard. The trailer is short - and half of it is build-up. The few clips in there are already giving me problems with trying to contain myself while I sit here at my desk knowing that if I explode from laughter from seeing a shopping cart or a huge rubber ball slam into something that I will have people coming over to investigate.

For my wife -- yes, Party Boy is in there.

Going too far.

I think I have actually done it. I'm over the edge.

You see, I currently have tap3 on my flinders. It's making it hard to type, actually.

Why do I have tape on my fingers, you ask? It's simple.


I brought a bag of snacks to work today. I tried some earlier and it just wasn't working out for me. I'm trying to combine activities to get the most out of my time here at work. The activities which are being combined are:

Monitor the actual work queue. This takes very little effort.
Read a book. Also, not much effort. Until you try to incorporate it with:
Eating a snack.

Some snacks might not cause problems. Cookies and brownies are fairly easy to keep off of your book. It's also pretty easy to keep the whole world from knowing you were eating them at your desk.

But, I've chosen a more conspicuous snack which sticks with you all day long if you aren't properly prepared.

I'm now prepared. I'm eating left-handed since I turn pages with my right hand. And my left thumb, index and middle fingers are capped with packing tape.

Now I can eat my Cheez Doodles and no one will be the wiser.


I have known something for a long time time now. I guess I've known it since around the time I sprouted up and started being taller than everyone else around me.

The fact which I learned early in life is this: The handicapped toilet is much more comfortable than the regular toilet.

Not only is there generally more space available to manuever around once you close the door, but the toilet paper is also a little further away from your leg so that you aren't constantly mashing it into the wall.

Being of beyond average height, the handicapped toilet really is just much more comfortable to sit on. When I sit on the regular toilet, I feel like I'm squatting down to crap in a hole in the floor. It stresses out my knees and if I sit there for too long (like when I smuggle in a good book or a thick catalog, or if there is a whole lot of interesting graffiti) then my legs fall asleep and it's very awkward trying to leave the bathroom afterwards.

Today, however, I had to use one of the regular toilets. Usually, I would just exit the bathroom and check on another floor if I came in to find that the luxury suite was already occupied. However, I could not do that today since there was some guy in front of the sink preening himself and he looked right at me when I came in. It would have been terribly confusing to everyone involved if I, having come lumbering in with my book half-hidden under my arm, were to suddenly turn about and rush out the door again.

So, I avoided eye contact with the primper and I entered one of the smaller poop areas. I was really taken aback at just how low the toilet was, and when I sat down on it I was certain I was going to hit the floor. But, no. I ended up on the low seat, with my knees poking up around my chin. Since I hate the non-handicapped toilet I quickly did what I had to do and finished up.

The other trouble with the sunken toilet is that I have to somehow contort myself and manage to fold in half in order to do the wiping action. I am too large for the constricted space of a standard shit box. I will not use one anymore.

As I exited the low-slung poo dungeon, I noted that I hadn't heard a single sound the whole time I was in there. No sniffles, no pages turning, no paper tearing, no feet scuffling, no belt buckle or change-in-pockets clinking. Nothing. Just me pooping.

I looked over to the closed door on the main attraction and since no one else was around, I peered through the crack. Nothing. Just an empty seat.

I pulled the door open so that no one else would be fooled by the devious practices of the one-who-shuts-the-door-on-an-unoccupied-stall.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Chocolate Crumbs

I just bought Pepperidge Farms Chocloate Chunk cookies out of the vending machine.

It was a toss-up between them and the miniature Famous Amos ones in the spiral contraption next door.

I made my decision based on the fact that I'm still kind of hungry and the Pepperidge Farm package said the cookies inside weighed about 0.12 ounces more than the Famous Amos ones.

So I put in my sixty cents and hit the button. My cookies dropped. I got them out of the slot.

Back at my desk, I opened the cookies and found that the package did not actually contain "2 Big Cookies!" as advertised. Rather, I have a small plastic tray full of cookie debris. I wish I had a camera because it looks so pathetic. I wish I had a spoon because it would make it easier to eat them.

Fucking dirty-ass vending machine.


This is kinda dumb, but makes me laugh:


The Dingle-Dangle

We had a name picked out for our baby a long way in advance.

The baby was out in the world for all of twenty minutes before I started calling him other things. He was blowing spit bubbles out of his mouth so he became "Bubble Bear." Which led to names like "Bubbles" and "Little Bear."

A few weeks later, Bubble Bear gave way to "Doodles." Doodles was transformed into "The Doodle," "Doot-Doot," and "Doodle-ooo," and "Doodle Bear."

More recently, I found myself laughing at something he was doing and I told him he was "The Dingle-Dangle."

When I sing him songs consisting of these various names, he smiles and laughs as if he's already aware of what an idiot his father is.

He's been working on talking for about six weeks now, and he can pull off a pretty good, "Hi." If you say, "Hi!" to him a few times he'll say it back. Sometimes, he'll see you and smile and then say it on his own.

Yesterday, I had him sitting on the couch next to me since he had been drinking a bottle and fell asleep. When he woke up about an hour later, he was working on some bubbles, as ususal, and he did something new. I can't be sure which one he said, since he's only 13 weeks old and he's got a brand new mouth with no teeth, but what I heard was, "Doot-Doot." The "D" was dragged out and bubbly, and he might have been saying, "Doodle," but either way, he surprised the shit out of me.

For the next hour or so we sat on the couch telling each other, "Hi, Doodle," and "Hi, Doot-Doot."

I will Sur-veev

I have been inspired by my surroundings. I have had a revelation of massive proportions, all due to the upcoming season of Survivor.

In my revelation, I see a world where white people can live in white towns full of white stores and go to white schools and white churches. In this world the blacks, jews, asians, arabs, latinos and gays can all have their own little towns, too. The white people will watch their white sports teams play other white sports teams and their children will grow up to be happy white people.

If you want to buy a burrito, you have to get a day pass and an escort to take you to Mexi-Cali, but you better be home by sundown or they'll lock you in and you might never get out.

The black people won't be allowed to eat at the white Burger King and the white people won't be allowed to chase after the asian women. It'll be all good clean fun and everyone will get along just fine. I'm sure of it.

Maybe the people who make Survivor should take a look at the fiasco surrounding the dingleberry who opened a restaurant called "Hitler's Cross."

Do they think people have somehow gotten over centuries of bigotry and hatred in the last thirty years? I think it's going to take a lot longer than that to breed out the strain of ignorant white trash who think it's a good idea to drag a man (black, gay, or otherwise...) behind a truck.

It's been twice that long since Hitler slaughtered millions and his face isn't even welcome in some backwater hole on the subcontinent.

So go ahead, show your idiotic race war on the television. But you better think twice about how it's going to affect Bubba and Bodean after they polish off a case of Milwaukee's Best lounging on the broken couch in front of the off-brand big-screen TV in the living room of their burnt-out trailer.

Bubba and Bodean might hop in the pickup, go snatch Bob and the other Bob out their respective trailers and go out prowling. They'll say, "Hey, d'joo see them niggers outscored the whites and the asians on Sore-vay-verr? Let's go teach one of 'em they can't mess with my TV shows like that."

Or maybe not. Maybe they'll see the irony of pitting race against race and they'll laugh out loud as it becomes clear to them that the bigotry that was passed down from their father (who also learned it from his father) is just oh-so ridiculous. Yeah, and maybe I'll find a million dollars in a box in my garage tomorrow.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Where are the heroes?

The post below regarding George W. Bush has reminded me of a thought I've had brewing for while now...

The terrorists are winning.

The proof is in the reaction to the latest "liquid bomb" scare. They've known this was a possibility for a long time. A very long time. Yet now people can't take their water or their shampoo or their goddamn coffee with them on a plane.

And the public outcry is nearly nonexistant. It's probably more accurate to say the public have become sheep, even more blind than ever before. The rumblings I hear now are along the lines of, "Well why is it such a big deal? You don't need to take that much stuff with you on a trip," or, "Whatever it takes to keep us safe, I'm for it."

Fuck that.

The goal of the terrorists is to change life as we know it - to strip us of our freedoms and our feeling of being safe in our own places. They are absoutely, undoubtedly winning in this regard. We do not feel safe in our own homes or cars or on planes full of other Americans. We lose more and more freedoms everyday, and the people just turn a blind eye, going about their day and hoping that when Christmas time rolls around their spouse buys them something nice.

As we sit around trying to get used to our new less-free, less-safe lives, the terrorists are achieving their goals. They are willing to sacrifice everything to this end, and it's why they have been so successful.

And really, I'm not telling you anything new here, but I want you to think about something:

Say you're on a plane and a group of hijackers announce they're taking over. There are several things which are a given in this situation. First, the hijackers will show their force. If they've managed to get some sort of weapon on board, they might threaten or kill a crew member. They will claim they have a bomb. The 9-11 hijackers made that claim to keep the passengers calm. But there wasn't a bomb.

There is a world of difference between a box cutter and a bomb. Somebody on those planes should have known the bomb was bullshit.

In the sense of some kind of mixable liquid bomb -- Even if these people get on a plane with some kind of makeshift device, they're going to have to get control of the plane before they can assemble and use it. They're going to use the threat of the device - which is not yet functional - to maintain the cooperation of the passengers.

If you sit there like sheep, you're going to die. If you give them the time to put their device together or allow them to take over the plane's controls, you are going to die. They don't want to re-route your Flight from London to Boston to Lebanon to secure the release of hostages. They want to cause a scene of death and destruction. They're willing to die to see this through.

The people on United 93 stood up to the terrorists. United 93 did not cause thousands of deaths. Yes, the people onboard died, but it's possible that they saved many more lives. I'm certain that if that plane had hit another U.S. target the emotional damage to the country would have been devastating. I'm proud of the people who gave their all to save so much.

And that's where you come in.

If a group of assholes tries to take over your flight, fucking take them down before they get started. Yes, you might get hurt. Yes, you might die. But if enough people stand up against box cutters and sharp bits of plastic then the major tragedies can be averted.

Use your laptop for a shield. Chuck some kid's gameboy at the dickhead holding a ball-point pen to the flight attendant's throat. Take these motherfuckers out and show them that you're not afraid to die for what you believe in.

If enough people have the conviction to stand up to these playground bullies, then eventually they will see that their actions do not affect us. If we're not afraid of them, then their "terror" becomes bullshit.

In this kind of situation, I would fight back at these fucking zealous idiots with everything I had. I would not stop until they had broken the last bone in my body and beaten the last breath of life out of me.*

If you can't say the same thing - if you would sit back in your seat, avoid eye contact and hope for the best... well, then maybe the terrorists are right. If we don't fight back we're all just a bunch of spoiled rich cowards trying to bully the world into seeing things our way.


* and this is exactly why the situation in Iraq is the way it is. Pretend Iraq is a 747 flying from Baghdad to Madrid with a plane full of Muslims. In the eyes of the "insurgents" the U.S. led military forces in Iraq are the exact equivalent of a group of radicals at the front of the plane trying to break down the cockpit door so they can take over.

If I'm willing to die for what I believe, why is it so hard to understand that they're willing to die for what they believe?

The world is falling apart. George W. Bush is going to Kennebunkport, where he'll test his golf skills with Poppy.

This pretty much speaks for itself:

Dangerous Days

Instructions, please?

Say I get a headache and I find some medicine in the cabinet.

How do I go about using the medicine I've found to alleviate my headache?

I suppose I should mention the medicine I've found is in a little tube like a giant lipstick and the sticker on the tube says, "HeadOn."

So... does anyone know what I should do with this stupid shit?

I tried rubbing it on my armpits like deodorant but that didn't seem to do much for me.

Maybe this bit from Wikipedia sheds some light on why it didn't seem to work:

Chemical analysis has shown that the product consists of almost entirely wax. The two listed active ingredients: white bryony (a type of vine) and potassium dichromate are diluted to .000001 PPM and 1 PPM respectively.[2] At these levels it is unlikely that they have any effect.

I'm going to try rubbing it on more parts tomorrow.

How to do something else just as useless.

I put some links over there on the side. Look this way ----->

Squub is the home of I, which in this case is not a pronoun referring to myself. I is someone else.

Phoooiee is scared of bugs.

Liquid Pork Gun plays instruments of the Tooter family and is also related to Phoooiee.

Funky Smith knows Phoooiee from way back.

Lost in Translation

I think somewhere along the line something got fucked up.

People think the story about a boy crying "Wolf!" when there wasn't really a wolf is designed to teach kids not to invent bad things because when bad things actually happen people will never believe it.

I've learned the truth.

The origin of that story has to involve a woman rather than a boy.

And it doesn't involve a wolf.

Because, you see -- A kid in the woods seeing a wolf -- a wolf growling and with teeth bared, lips quivering... that kid won't scream or shout or yell or do anything as dramatic as what happens to me all the time.

Two nights in a row now, my wife has emitted a bone chilling scream which has made me think the baby must have fallen on his head and he's now bleeding to death out of the hole where his neck used to be.

However, there is no such disaster. No one has been hurt, no one is in danger. There is no problem whatsoever.

My wife's problem, and the source of the screaming which stops my heart dead in its tracks is much less threatening than any wolf or mortal injury.

Tonight, she saw a grasshopper. It was on the box of diapers she had bought earlier. Sometime in between putting it on the counter and eating dinner, the grasshopper had made its way to the box. My wife saw it from across the kitchen and let loose a horrendous screech, then she fled the room.

Last night there was a praying mantis on the wall near the door.

I don't know how these fucking things even get in the house - the mantis was really big - like too big to squash if I were the type of person who squashed bugs.

But, no matter the size, it's really not the type of thing to warrant a blood-curdling cry or the hours of huddling under the covers unable to sleep that ensued.

It's just a bug. What's it going to do? Eat you? I don't think so.

I picked up the grasshopper with my bare hand. Imagine that. I'm still OK.

Goddamn bugs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I hope this time I will wake up dead

Sentenced -

I wrote a whole novel while reeling from the effects of the last two or three Sentenced records. There must just be something about living half of the year in total darkness that puts sorrow, discontent, anger, and despair at the forefront of your creative energies. I've always felt a strong attachment to Sentenced's music - especially the last decade's worth when they replaced their original singer with a fellow named Ville Laihiala.

In 2005 Sentenced announced they were quitting - their final release "The Funeral Album" has logged almost as much time on my turntable (yes, the vinyl record playing machine) as my Rubber Soul or Abbey Road LP's.

So Sentenced is done. But it seems there are still sparks out there... Today, while busy at work, I found this:

It seems Ville Laihiala has a new band called Poisonblack. The production isn't as clear (at least on whatever streaming encoded shit YouTube uses for audio) as Sentenced, but the feeling comes through loud and clear.

I'll stop now so I can play it some more.

Johnny Paycheck

Out. Done. Finished. Over.

I sent my resignation e-mail on Monday.

My manager sent me one back stating he had accepted it and he appreciated that I gave a "professional two weeks."


See... here's the deal. I work for a company. They are involved in comptuter technology - primarily the so-called repair of computer technology. To protect the names of the innocent, we'll create a name for this company. Since it's computers, it should be something with "tech" but we'll have to change the spelling. And since they are in the repair business we'll have to come up with something witty on the front end. Like "Break-tek." Or "Dipshit-Tek." Or "Backwards-Bunch-of-Idiot-Assholes-Tek."

Like I said, I work for Break-Tek. They contract to companies and organizations to provide on-site service. I'm an on-site technician. At least for the next two weeks.

Since I actually respect the people who I see everyday - those being the company paying Break-Tek money (call that "AMOUNT A" ) for my services so that Break-Tek can pay me a salary (computed by dividing "AMOUNT A" by 2 and then giving me 5% of that amount.) - I did give a two week notice.

The last time I quit Break-Tek (I never learn...) I gave one week.

But anyway, now I'm stuck here for two more fucking weeks. And today is the worst so far. I've got salsa music coming out the cube in front of me and the guy two cubes to my right has, since my arrival, been my main source of hate. See, two-cubes-away-man has no inside voice. And he's on the phone ALL FUCKING DAY LONG.

But I won't have to deal with it any more. I'm outta here. Goodbye one-way hour and a half commute (on a good day) and goodbye worthless 1.5% raise.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bad with People, part 1

I once heard a song called, “I am Bad with People.” It’s was on some website. I don’t recall who sang it, but it’s a funny song. And it really describes my relationship with the rest of the human race quite accurately.

I am bad with people. I don’t do well in social situations unless I’m with someone I’ve known for a long time and then I just sit and crack inside jokes which cause the other people around some discomfort. I don’t mind if they feel left out. I feel that way most of the time.

I’m especially bad with people of the opposite sex. I always have been, but I don’t know why. Sometimes my interactions with and reactions to the opposite sex have been downright retarded. Actually, I think you could say that’s true of most such experiences.

I’m going to try to keep this chronological, but I’m certain to ramble. The tangents will be made as brief as possible. Please accept my apologies in advance.

My earliest memory of interacting with the opposite sex is, strangely enough, a good one. It’s one of the few good ones. As a very young child, I attended preschool at a local Methodist Church. The church was simply a place which had space. I don’t recall there being any religious aspect of my preschool. What I do remember is that it was called, “Humpty Dumpty School.” It’s still there today.

Humpty Dumpty School did not have a bus since the students were from a large surrounding area. It was the responsibility of parents to get their children to Humpty Dumpty School on time. Again, an anomaly here since I don’t remember being late to Humpty Dumpty School. Starting in 5th grade things would change for the worse in regards to ever being on time for anything.

My parents, through means unknown to me, managed to hook up with another set of parents who lived just up the road from us. One set of parents would take us to Humpty Dumpty School in the morning, the other would pick us up in the afternoon. The child which belonged to this other set of parents was a girl. I think her name was Leigh.

I can recall a cold morning in the backseat of a car. I don’t remember if it was her parents or my parents driving. But as I type that I stumbled upon another memory from that backseat – this one from a warmer day.

At this point in my short life I was able to count to ten. On the warmer of the two days being remembered here, Leigh demonstrated her ability to count to twenty. I quickly learned how to count to twenty with her, but neither of us knew where to go from there. We naturally made it to twenty-nine, which seemed to make whichever parent was driving happy with our reasoning, but after a time or two we kept going, even though we had no idea what was ahead. After twenty-nine came twenty-ten. And twenty-eleven. By twenty-twelve there was laughing from the front seat and the concept of “thirty” was offered to us. Our three-year-old brains were dumbfounded.

On the colder day being remembered here I recall Leigh, in her heavy winter coat, crossing her arms in front of her. This caused her padded coat to puff up.

“See,” she said, “I can make boobies like my mommy has.”

My coat was equally puffy, so I tried it, too. I achieved the same effect, which made her laugh.

I don’t know whatever happened to that little girl. I’m sure we remained friends through the rest of Humpty Dumpty School and we probably started Kindergarten together. But, my family moved a few miles away half-way through my year of Kindergarten. I went from West Side School to Bel-Air School. Not only was that a change in Elementary schools, but it was also a change of school districts. West Side School feeds Braddock Middle School which feeds Allegany High School. Bel-Air kids went to Washington Middle School and then on to Fort Hill High School. The really fucked up part was that I lived in a small area where every other surrounding neighborhood was in the other school district. So we weren’t friends with the kids who lived on the other side of the woods. As we grew up, undoubtedly our friends lived a half-hour across town.

Anyhow, I remember being invited to a birthday party at her house a few years later, but by that point I had a new batch of friends and I really felt like an outsider. I didn’t really remember who she was and I didn’t know any of the other kids, with the exception of Sean C., who would be a sort of in-and-out fixture of my childhood.

It wasn’t until I got to Middle School in the sixth grade that I ran into any of the kids I knew from Humpty Dumpty School. The back of my Humpty Dumpty School class picture shares a few names in common with my high school yearbook -- names like Robbie C., Michelle K., Chi B., and Matt K. There may be more but I don’t immediately recall anyone else.

The next member of the opposite sex to enter into my consciousness was a little blonde girl in my new Kindergarten class. Her name was Alison. Alison was definitely a flirt, as far as a five-year-old girl can be a flirt, and she seemed to genuinely like me. I went to her house for birthday parties or just to play whatever games little kids play.

I fought over the chair next to her at the lunch table with Michael T. blah blah blah .

Michael ended up losing his pear in the fray. It slid off of his tray and splattered on the floor. He raised quite a fuss about it and made one of the teachers go get him a new pear. Toward the end of lunch, the pear was still on his tray.

The teacher who had gotten him a new pear asked him, “Aren’t you going to eat that after I got it for you?”

He replied, “No. I don’t like pears.”

I only have one other concrete memory of Alison. I know there were lots of trips to her house, usually to play with a group of friends from school, but only one really stands out.

It was a beautiful summer day. We had played outside and made a fort, and we had played some games inside. As the day wore long, the group of friends dwindled to the point where I was the only boy left. The only other girl was named Tracy. We played a game of “Ditch Tracy” for a little while and somehow I ended up hiding with Alison in the downstairs bathroom.

She said she had to pee and told me I could watch but only if I sat under the sink. When she was finished she told me she knew that boys and girls were different but she wanted to see how. I found myself right in the middle of I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours. So we did. Tracy eventually figured out where we were and was outside the bathroom pounding on the door but we didn’t let it interrupt us.

I showed her mine and even let her watch it work as I made my own pee to mix with hers. I didn’t realize until years later that I got gypped when all she showed me was a bare patch of skin with no sign of the inner workings.

I never saw her again without her pants on, and I didn’t see her much at all after that. Soon after, she transferred to private school. The next time I heard her name was when someone mentioned she was dating one of the guys in my first band. They broke up before I got a chance to see her again.

In third grade, I met Cara. Cara was a cute little red-haired girl and I was hooked on her from the get-go. Cara lived in a big house on the other side of the neighborhood. It wasn’t all that far from my house – maybe a mile or two, but to an eight-year-old with a BMX bike from K-Mart it might as well have been a hundred miles.

Cara was friendly with me in school, but there was no real sense of boyfriend/girlfriend in third grade. You liked somebody and maybe they tolerated you or even sat with you and read a book, but that was about the extent of elementary school relationships. The only time you said you had a girlfriend was when your grandfather asked you, point-blank, “So, who’s your girlfriend?”

It was obvious to me that you –HAD- to have a girlfriend by the way I was constantly asked this question, so when I liked a girl I would give her name as my response.

Something inside me, however, told me there was supposed to be more to it. I had no idea what there could be, but I decided to ride my bike to Cara’s house one weekend.

I recall that my first attempt was unsuccessful. This was not due to any lack of trying on my part. I got on my bike. I think I had a backpack with some snacks and a drink for the long trip ahead. I made it to the end of my street, which was more like a bend and a name-change than an actual “end.” I made the mistake of pedaling up Michael T.’s driveway so that I could get a gravity-boost for the big hill which was the next obstacle on my journey.

As I reached the top of the driveway, my brother came out of our house, a mere two doors down the hill, and informed me that my dad was looking for me. I don’t remember why he was looking for me, but I do remember that it wasn’t good. I went back home to see what he wanted and found myself at the bad end of a beating. I don’t recall if I had lost his screwdrivers or if I had left a hammer on the floor or if I simply hadn’t cleaned up some toys. Whatever the case, I was done for the day. I was sent to my room, crying, and probably had as much idea why it happened then as I do now.

Either the next day or the next weekend, I resumed my task. I hopped on my bike early and took off without a look back. I didn’t try to double back for any speed boosts, I just made sure to get beyond the sight-boundary of our house as fast as I could.

This particular trip was unlike that you hear most people tell of their childhood. I did not have to go uphill both ways. I did have to go uphill half-way, however. It was about the time I reached the apogee of my journey that I had my first doubt. As I sat at the top of the hill, I knew the rest of the trip to Cara’s house was downhill. I also knew that if I turned around and went home that I was in for a tremendous downhill run. In that moment I realized that if I continued on, I would have to face the road from her house back to this point coming home, and that part of the trip would be uphill. I had never ridden my bike on that part of the road before. I knew the general elevation of it, but I didn’t know how steep, or how bad, it would be. After all, even at eight I realized that what you see and experience on a bike is far removed from what you see speeding by in a car.

I also didn’t even know if she would be home. My visit was a surprise. I suppose I hoped she would think it somehow gallant that I rode my bike all the way to her house. I’m so far removed from the child I was that I can’t really be sure of the thought process that lead to this endeavor. But I do remember how good I felt when I came to the decision to do it, even if I didn’t know how to get there until my mom helped me with the neighborhood map from little community phone directory.

I sat at that point for a minute or two. Maybe I drank a Pepsi or a Capri Sun. Maybe I ate a Swiss Cake Roll. But I knew in my heart what I had to do, so I let my bike roll down the hill away from my house and onto uncharted roads.

I passed places I had been driven by car and realized how far I had come. I passed the road which lead to Blair S.'s house. At the same point was Andy W.’s house. I had been driven to both of those places for birthday parties and to play with my friends and both of them seemed so far from home.

I made the turn down the gently winding road to Cara’s house and I didn’t have to pedal at all. The hill was long and it carried me swiftly to her door. I knocked, not knowing what to expect.

The door opened and Cara’s mom invited me in. I spent the whole day there, but I can’t remember what happened. I vaguely remember board games and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I distinctly remember her father’s remote-controlled R2-D2 and I remember that his HBO box was mounted next to his recliner, within easy reach, rather than on top of the TV like ours. For those who never had one, an HBO box was the very earliest cable converter. If you set the knob in the middle, you could watch your regular TV channels. If you put it on channel three and turned the knob to the right, you got HBO. If you turned the knob to the left you got Superstation TBS. If you left it turned to the left and turned your TV to channel 2 you got WBFF from Baltimore, which had Captain Chesapeake. Captain Chesapeake played Speed Racer cartoons, so he was alright in my book.

Eventually, I went home. Someone may have come to pick me up, or maybe I rode my bike back home, I don’t recall. Sometime after that, I gave Cara a flower. Or maybe more than one flower. In return she gave me a Stomper™. Any girl who buys you a Stomper™ must really like you.

Not too long after this, Cara’s parents moved across town. She ended up in the other school district. I didn’t see her again until my senior year of high school. She played the flute in a small specialty orchestra which was made up of players from both high schools. Either she didn’t remember me or she ignored me on purpose. Despite several weeks of rehearsals and many performances I never got the nerve to talk to her and ask if she remembered me.

Cara moved away and my dad moved out right around the same time in my childhood. I’ve always wondered if I would have developed more confidence with girls if my dad had stuck around, but even before he split he wasn’t around much. And when he was home he tended to get pissed about something and send us to bed crying. But, as I lay this out for whatever reason, I’m confronted by the fact that up until this point my boy-girl relationships were healthy and about as successful as you could expect for a couple of little kids.

Fifth grade brought a lot of changes. I got to meet with a counselor who determined that I was mad at my mom because all she did was sit around and cry all day long. The counselor was the father of one of my friends, but I always felt comfortable talking to him. He pulled me out of class two or three times and I certainly recall feeling much better about myself after we talked.

When I was in fourth grade, the elementary school went up to sixth grade. That changed my fifth grade year. I was part of the first fifth-grade class which would graduate and go on to Middle School.

Also, for most of my fifth grade year I had the same teacher for every class. That teacher happened to be married to the counselor who had helped sort out my family issues. I was part of the “smart group” of kids in all of my classes, but fifth grade is when I started to falter. The disruptions at home affected my ability to concentrate in school and I took very little interest in math. I remember on one test I altered all of the division symbols to appear as plus signs and I completed the problems as if they were simple addition. I had no idea how to do short division.

During one math class, I was scolded for drawing race cars. I had perfected a three-quarter perspective view on stock cars and this particular masterpiece had two cars going into a turn and even had blurry lines on the track. This drawing was confiscated and I was told I needed to work on my math. Not allowed to draw, I concentrated on the only other thing in the room which interested me – a girl named Rebecca.

Rebecca had long, thick dark blonde hair. I can still picture it to this day. She had a delightful smile and I tried my best to figure out how to go on a date with her, but it’s just not something that happens in fifth grade.

I sent her Valentine gifts, called her incessantly to ask her to go to a movie, but the best I ever got from her was a sour face one day when I turned up at school with a cold sore.

The woman who taught all of my fifth grade classes that year was a terrific teacher. In one of our units we learned about student government and within the span of a single class period our newly formed student body had unanimously decreed that fifth graders should have access to the new playground equipment which had thus far been only a temptation on the other side of the glass doors. As a class we elected to go from zero play periods to a half-hour in the afternoon on the new playground.

She had a natural ability to get every one of us to grasp the information she was teaching, despite that we all learned at slightly different speeds. The only thing she couldn’t conquer was my utter lack of interest in math. If I had shown the slightest inclination I’m sure I would have done much better. After all, I never studied much at all though school. I was content to absorb what was thrown at me and, for the most part, it worked out just fine. The only problem was when I was switched off and ignorant to everything around me. There was no way to absorb any information in that state.

She also had an uncanny insight, which I still do not understand to this day. I had tried to play the trombone in the school band in fourth grade. I never practiced the trombone so that didn’t last long. In fifth grade I was given the opportunity to play the cello in the school orchestra. Since this one didn’t cost my mother any money she had nothing to lose by saying, “O.K.”

The orchestra seemed to do the trick. I guess it was the strings – something just felt right about playing a stringed instrument. I took to the cello very quickly and was soon teaching myself through the back of the book while the other kids were still stuck on the first three songs.

At the end of the year, we had an orchestra concert. There may have also been a chorus concert on the same program, but that could have been a different night. I performed in both and I remember when the show started I was standing in the front row with a huge fucking grin on my face. I was trying to sing around it, and trying desperately to –NOT- smile, but I knew in that instant that what I was doing was magical. I’m sure it sounded terrible. I’ve been to enough school concerts to know that fifth graders have no sense of intonation. But I felt a sense of being in the right place that I had never felt before.

I know the chorus concert was first. Whether it was the same night or not is irrelevant. I do know that when it came time to play my cello, which included a solo called “Pizzicato March” (think the meow-meow-meow-meow Cat Chow commercial song) I was not nervous at all.

After the concert, my teacher came up to me and congratulated me, then she pulled me aside. I don’t know what she saw, and I don’t even know if she saw it that night, but she took me aside and made me promise to her that I would not let music rule my life. I didn’t understand what she meant since I had just done a good job playing music, so she clarified that what I had done for school was good but that I shouldn’t get involved with rock bands and popular music. She explained to me (and this was something I did not understand, or even remotely fathom until I was about to graduate high school) that music is fine to listen to but that I should not let it dictate who or what I am.

As I look back, I recognize that she may have been reacting to my ability to write, from memory, the lyrics to Duran Duran’s “Wild Boys” for anyone who requested a copy, yet I couldn’t figure out what the fuck nine divided by three was supposed to equal. I distinctly recall her blowing up at me the next week in school when I showed up wearing a Duran Duran headband I had gotten from my friend Patrick.

I was safe for the moment. It would take another year and half before I let music completely take over my life.

Sixth grade was an eye-opening experience. I was tossed into Middle School with tons of kids I never met before. My first day, I found myself in my homeroom – room 113 down at the end of the hall by the auditorium. For some reason Gary B. was also in room 113. All the other kids from our “smart kids” fifth grade class were here with me, along with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Gary B. was the only kid from Bel Air School who was not from the “smart kids” group. Gary B. was, first and foremost, a troublemaker. And, true to form, he started off the day picking on me. I didn’t back down, and had not yet learned that some things are better unsaid when there are girls present. Maybe that is another factor in my inability to relate to any girls in middle school. Then again, maybe not.

Eventually, Gary B. was dragged off to whatever hole he was supposed to be in and things slowly got underway. We were in a new school with a new schedule and something called “sections.” Like golf, the lower your section number the higher the quality of your classmates. I was in 6-1. I liked being in 6-1. Everything was on the fast track. There was no waiting up for stragglers who didn’t grasp the concepts we were being taught. Those who lagged too far behind got dropped a section. And, for some odd reason, the sections dropped in pairs. Odd numbers always stayed odd. Even numbers always stayed even. They said this was because 6-2 was basically the same as 6-1 but they had to split the group up because it was too large. But we all knew better.

In sixth grade I was reintroduced to some old acquaintances. Robbie C. and Matt K. from Humpty Dumpty School were banging around somewhere in the neighborhood of 6-3. Michelle K., also from Humpty Dumpty and who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, was designated as the school slut. Hindsight tells me this is most likely due to her specifically refusing to do the things she was “heard” to have done.

In Mr. King’s science class, I also got to know a little pipsqueak of a kid who had skipped a few grades. He liked to go out on the playground after lunch and eat wild onions. That he chose to swivel around in his chair in front of me and blow onion breath in my face did not make for the best of introductions. Somehow, however, he is the closest friend I have today.

I didn’t really fall for any girls in sixth grade. A girl named Nicole, who bantered with me in the hallways a few times in the first weeks of school, comes to mind. I believe it was Mike T. who told her I liked her. I had never even met the girl before, it was just one of those tormenting kinds of things that he was good for. I remember she was tall, and her dark hair was pulled back with two barrettes which had her name on them. She was in a different section so I didn’t see her very much.

But, as I type this I am reminded of two girls from the school bus. Both of them were older. One of them had something about her which drew me in like a magnet. I think her name was Jennifer. She was in eighth grade. This time I made the mistake of telling Mike T. I liked her. All of the other kids tormented me about it for weeks. They pushed me to sit with her, or to try to talk to her. I would freeze and not know what to do.

One afternoon on the ride home, she came to my seat and sat down next to me. She said she was sorry that the other kids bothered me so much. Then, without warning, she kissed me on the cheek. This lead to a lot of hooting and hollering from the back of the bus amidst calls of “check to see if he has a boner!” I weathered this torment as I did all the other shit. Jennifer, if that was even her name, didn’t ride my bus any more after that year. Last I recall, she got pregnant in high school.

I think it was just after the kiss that Beth L., another eighth-grade girl from the bus, asked me to dance with her at a school dance. I obliged her and we did our awkward adolescent circle-walk to a slow song. Since she was part of the group at the back of the bus which tormented me I never trusted that she was seriously interested in me. She did sit next to me on the bus a few times, but I determined that I wanted nothing to do with her if she hung out with people who were mean to me.