Saturday, July 28, 2007


I always suspected something like this, and now it's been confirmed. This screenshot is from the CNN RSS feed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

More Office Antics

Write "Do Not Erase" at the top of a blank white board.

Adoption Final

We went to the hearing to finalize Son's adoption this morning. I was expecting a Night Court kind of feeling, but it had all of the fun and excitement of a tax audit combined with the loving closeness of a tax audit.

It's all legal now. Son is exhausted and has slept on the couch for several hours today.

Office Prank

A related area in our company is going through a reorganization. I was in a meeting room the other day, alone (which is always dangerous), so I drew a new org chart on the white board that promised to be, um, controversial.

I left the room after a few moments to find out that the meeting had been canceled.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Predictions About the Deathly Hallows

I predict that the last page of book 7 will be the lyrics from Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

Didn't We Just Discuss This?

We just painted the stairwell and upstairs hallway. The house came with this kitschy lamp in the stairwell that hangs off a chain. I just hooked it back up and replaced the ancient, sparky switches with new, less-fire-prone ones.

GPop looked at the mount for the light and said, "We could put a ceiling fan there."

Son and I both told him that this wouldn't be an option.

How NOT to Get on the Evening News

We went to a big Harry Potter book release party about an hour from home on Friday night. The book was, of course, on sale at 12:01am Saturday. We chose not to stay, because we were getting the book Saturday anyway.

There were news crews around asking people what they thought of the festive atmosphere. I think they were hoping to find either the guy who thought he was the reincarnation of Sirius Black or else the guy who thought that Satan was personally going to visit the festival and start eating children right in front of everyone.

I was hoping that they'd interview me. Here's the interview that I would give.

Reporter: And here we have GDad, dressed as Aberforth Dumbledore, Albus Dumbledore's brother. GDad, did you come here to purchase the latest and last Harry Potter book at 12:01?

GDad: No. I'm just really into nerds.

Rejected Lines from Handel's Messiah

King of Kings, forever and ever!
And Lord of Lords, Halleluia, Halleluia!
King of Kings, forever and ever!
And Lord of Lords, Halleluia, Halleluia!
There is no Fan of Fans in there. There is a reason for that.

GPop likes ceiling fans. In our old apartment, he installed one in the bedroom. It worked fine. I don't particularly care one way or the other when they are installed correctly, working properly, and silent. If they are too low, though, they make me nervous, because I'm tall.

When we bought this house several years ago, there was a ceiling fan in the kitchen. Because this house is very old, many of the rooms do not have overhead lighting and the appropriate switches installed. The fan that came with the house had a short chain pull switch for the fan and long pull chain for the light. The kitchen has a 9' ceiling, but as I mentioned before, this isn't really a problem, because I'm tall.

Well, the Second Law of Robotics Thermodynamics set in, and the fan broke down. We replaced the fan with a remote controlled fan from Hunter. Everything was fine, but about 2 years later, the receiver inside the fan unit stopped accepting signal to turn on and off the lights, but the fan part still worked properly. Our local hardware stores were unable to get the component, so I had to order it from Hunter directly.

I received the part, and installed it pretty quickly. Everything was fine. Until about 8 months after that, the part went out AGAIN. I just got used to turning the bulbs to turn the lights on and off. We are green nerds, so we use fluorescent bulbs. That way, we don't burn our hands.

A few weeks ago, GPop called me at work to ask if we could include a new Hampton Bay ceiling fan in our budget. I'm a tightwad, so I was a bit hesitant, given that we just bought a new furnace, and ceiling fans seem to me to be a bit decadent, but I decided that in the interest of domestic harmony, I would abstain from voting, which made the vote 1 in favor and 0 against, so we went ahead and got the fan from Home Depot.

Due to some issues with timing, we didn't try to install the fan for a couple of weeks. Finally, on Tuesday night, we opened it up. Of course, we first removed the Hunter fan and placed it outside near the trash. Then we opened the Hampton Bay fan to find that it was dinged up, missing pieces, and had no instructions. GPop took it back to Home Depot, and they replaced it without any trouble.

Take 2.

We futzed around with the fan for about 20 minutes before we realized that the mounting bracket required us to put some shims behind it to pull it just a little down from the ceiling. We went to Home Depot again to get some shims and some masking tape for a painting project we wanted to tackle. On the way home, Son asked how long this would take. I, disregarding every experience I'd ever had with home improvement, told him that it shouldn't take more than half an hour. Son asked, "What if we're not done by 9:00 tonight?"

"Well, we'll..." I started.

"Never speak of it again?" quipped Son.

I love my son.

Back home, we glued together two shims to get the right size, drilled the appropriate holes through them, and put them up with the new mounting bracket. We had to insert tab A into slot B very carefully (read: jerk things around with lots of swearing) so that everything fit correctly, because we'd also purchased an after-market remote control for the fan, and that receiver needed to go up in the bracket as well. OK, so now it was all attached to the ceiling.

GPop started to reach for the fan blades, but I suggested that we turn on the power to see if the fan worked. GPop went downstairs and flipped the breaker. Yep, you guessed it. Nothing worked. I checked the remote and the receiver to see if the DIP switches were set correctly. Son looked over my shoulder, and he noticed that GPop had set them incorrectly.

"GPop, the switches should be down, down, up, down, and you have them set up, up, down, up. You set them wrong."

"[grind, grind]," went GPop's teeth.

We set the switches correctly and tried again. Press the remote, flip the switch on the fan. Flip the switch on the fan, press the remote. Press the remote twice, flip the switch on the fan twice. Reverse it again. Nothing. GPop hung his head and muttered things.

We detached the remote receiver and attached the fan directly to the power. GPop went down to flip the breaker on again. I flipped the switch, and the fan turned about an eighth of a turn while making a grinding noise. Then it stopped. I yelled for GPop to shut off the breaker. As he approached, I told him what had happened.

Since Son has joined our family, we've learned to internalize a lot of our cursing.

We decided that we'd take the fan back for a refund, reinstall the Hunter fan, and just order the @##!&^ part. Since it was already close to 9:00, we took down the new fan, capped the wires, and brought the Hunter fan back into the house. Time for bed.

Take 3.

Morning has broken, like the first morning.

We grabbed the Hunter mounting bracket, and put it up on the ceiling. Of course, we had lost the screws to mount the Hunter fan to the bracket. Time for another trip to the hardware store. I went alone this time. I decided to go to the local True Value family-owned store this time. I was just buying two screws.

The hardware guy helped me find the screws, and as I was checking out, he asked if I needed anything else. Since this was trip four to the hardware store (including the original purchase), I told him that if I had to come back, I'd be in disguise.

I went home. When I got in the house, I noticed that the little rubber feet that acted as spacers for the bracket had fallen off. (*&&^! I found one on the floor. After looking around for 5 minutes, I was ready to go back into the store (in disguise (I have a fake mustache and beard I bought for a costume a few years ago.)), but then I found the other foot in the truck.

Finally, we put the Hunter fan back up.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the great forest called Braem Wood. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Anger Issues Redux

We took Son to his swimming lessons yesterday at the YMCA. After the lessons, I waited out in the lobby while Son dressed and GPop wandered. Son came out of the locker room, pulled me aside, and whispered, "There was an angry pooper in there!"

It seems that one of the bodybuilder types had been in the bathroom, pooping angrily. GPop and I have noticed that the bodybuilders at the YMCA seem to have a direct relationship between size of their muscles and the volume of their voices.

In addition, there is also some kind of requirement for bodybuilders to have a signature grunt of some kind. One guy says something like, "Samma samma SCHWOOO!"

Another guy says, "Hunga."

It's not surprising that they are also angry poopers. Maybe the high-protein, low-fiber diet has something to do with it.

Ennui at Hogwarts

We saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at an IMAX screen yesterday. The big battle scene is in 3-D on these screens. What fun.

Except that the movie was less a connected story and more a series of vignettes that described rather than told the story. The pictures were outstanding, but it just didn't click. I went in expecting a big New York strip, a loaded baked potato, and a deluxe salad. Instead, I got a Steak-umm, two french fries, and a green napkin.

Of course, I can't wait until book 7. We're heading to a town that's putting up a big carnival with Potter decorations all over.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Two Weeks

GPop, Son, and I are on vacation for two weeks. We're probably going to hit an amusement park, some regional lakes/islands, and do some serious house work. All this culminates in the finalization of Son's adoption.

We're going to see the Imaxified Harry Potter movie. I hear that some of it is in 3-D. Woo-hoo!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Redemption at the Grill

On 07/14, I received a letter from Macaroni Grill's headquarters. They apologized, advised me that the regional manager would be providing additional training to the staff at that store, and they sent me two $10 coupons. As far as I'm concerned, they have recovered from the black eye they'd had.

Friday, July 13, 2007

More Potty Humor

We went to a small Greek restaurant last night. We've been there once before. The food is pretty good, and it's right next to our favorite restaurant, which is a little family-owned Mexican place where one of the long-time workers shares a birthday with GPop.

Anyway, the first time I went to the Greek place, I ordered Kibbie. It sounded interesting. When it arrived, I had to admire the absurdity of a nicely laid-out array of what appeared to be little solid, um, droppings... on a plate of lettuce. Still, I can separate appearance from flavor, so I enjoyed the food.

Last night, I ordered Kafta. I don't know if they recognized me and decided to pull a prank, but the same droppings showed up, but this time on rice. Everybody else at the table refused to make eye contact with me.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Did I Just See That?

I'm a fan of messing with people's perceptions of things - optical illusions, double entendres, Magic Eye prints, obscure literary or historical references that completely reverse the meaning of what I'm saying, etc...

Anyway, I've invented a new fun thing. If I'm walking a few steps ahead of someone, and I turn a corner, I'll take two or three big steps very quickly so that I'm much farther ahead of them when they turn the corner. The problem with this game is that I never know whether I've succeeded in confusing people, because looking back would ruin the game.

Oh! Steetcar!

From A Streetcar Named Marge...

You can always depend on the kindness of strangers
To pluck up your spirits, and shield you from dangers.
Now here's a tip from Blanche you won't regret.
A stranger's just a friend you haven't met.
You ha-ven't met...

I had lunch today with a very nice netizen I met on the Intarwebs. I had hoped to use the blogosphere to meet some new people, and my evil plan finally came to fruition. I told GPop last night that I was having lunch with my secret Internet friend. He said, "That's nice, dear. Have fun." I guess I don't inspire jealousy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Importance of Being Scripted 2

There was a "Best of" game shows clip show on a while back, and I am still laughing at these bits from Family Feud.

Host: Name something that Russia is famous for.
Contestant: Russians.

Host: Name an animal whose eggs you probably don't eat for breakfast.
Contestant: Hamsters.

The Importance of Being Scripted

I heard on the radio a few years ago about a professional football player who had died on the practice field from heat stroke. The reporter interviewed the player's widow. She was understandably upset. Unfortunately, the desire for "from the source" sensationalism ended up with the bereaved woman's words played directly on the radio. She said that she was upset that the coaching staff of that team had not called 911, but had instead called "an ambulatory service that took a various amount of time to get there."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Medical Spinology

Another one from Brother 1 from 2000.

I keep seeing these commercials on tv about some sort of cure for "rosacia". You know, people used to look at this and say "Aw, he's a jolly old fellow. He's got happy, rosy cheeks." Now we say "My god, you've got a horrible disease!"

I think that we need to focus more on the positive sides of medical conditions.

My brothers are cool.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Brother 1

I was going back through some old correspondence with Brother 1, and I found this gem from 2000.

There was a woman, a very large woman, who used to work here. She was about 6' tall and 250-300 pounds. And she used to eat cotton.

I swear.

She would bring a pillowcase full of cotton batting to work and eat it. Not all in one day, but slowly, throughout the week. She would not just chew on it--she would swallow it, too. Apparently, she ate her entire sectional couch and her kids' winter coats. She would only eat certain kinds of cotton, though. One must be discerning when one is completely insane. She used to feel people's clothing to test it out. This might be why she no longer works here.

I have also heard that she was recently going to have a child, but her doctors had to terminate the pregnancy, because the cotton was somehow killing the baby.

I did not make this up.

There never was more on this woman from Brother 1, but there are other interesting tales.

We Represent the Lollipop Guild

We took Son to visit some family over the weekend. GPop's aunt and uncle from gulf-side sunny Florida had come to visit GPop's parents, and Son had never met them. It was a good visit, but it wasn't as long as we would have liked.

On the way back, we were able to stop and visit Brother 1, Sister-in-Law 1, and Beautiful Niece 1.1. They live in the in-law suite at Mom's house, so we saw Mom there, too. As an extra bonus, Brother 3 happened to be there, too, so we had a good time.

Son wanted to play Munchkin, or more specifically, Super Munchkin. GPop and I play the various Munchkins with Son on a pretty regular basis, and our friends generally like to play, too. Part of the game is to be ruthless to your fellow players, and Son seems to have that down pat. He wins more than you'd expect if you anticipated a flat distribution over the number of players and times played.

Mom didn't quite understand the game. For some reason, probably that her professional career as an elementary school teacher has kept her in the company of 10-year-olds for 30 years rather than the awkward 13 to (whatever age I am) age group, she isn't really into games that spoof superhero origins, sidekicks, nemeses, and gadgetry. You'd think that after so many years of at least Brother 1 and me, that some would have soaked in by simple osmosis. Maybe Brother 2's athletic jockiness and Brother 3's good looks and popularity sanded away any accretions of maternal nerdity.

I guess Mom mentioned this to Grandma when she spoke to her, because Grandma ribbed me via e-mail that I was too hard on Mom with that game.

Can I Write for Scrubs?

This is a link to a report on a study by Danish scientists showing that sperm counts have been dropping worldwide for decades. When confronted with criticism about the results of their study, the scientists seemed a little testy. [rim shot]

Thank you. I'll be here all week.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Shortchanged at the Macaroni Grill - UPDATED 07/14/2007

ATTENTION LAWYERS: This is a true tale. I have three witnesses that I can call by name. This is not libelous.

On Monday, I went to the local Romano's Macaroni Grill for lunch with three co-workers. Overall the food was pretty good, as usual. It's pretty standard for casual dining with an Italian theme, and they have that whole upsell thing down pretty well. "Can I bring you a cocktail, or perhaps one of our fine beers on tap?" The schtick here is that the waitstaff writes their names on your paper table covering in crayon. Whee! What whimsy!

Anyway, when I got my bill, I noticed that it was wrong. I was charged for a soft drink, but I had only had water. The one person at our table who had ordered a soft drink didn't get charged, so he and I worked it out that he'd buy me a coffee the next day or whatever.

The total, including tax, was $11.72, and the pre-tax cost (incorrect due to the soft drink charge), was $10.98. I put $15 in the little story of the bill, and the waitress, Deborah, whisked away the four little books.

My little book came back. I finished listening to one of my co-workers tell an amusing story, then I checked for my change. Nothing. I waited for a moment for Deborah to come back. I was willing to believe that she honestly forgot, but she was nowhere to be seen.

I took my bill up to the front desk, and calmly (yes, actually calmly) explained the situation. The desk person (I refuse to say "maƮtre d'" in this situation.) asked if I wanted to see a manager to resolve the situation. I told him that I'd rather just get my change, so I could determine how much tip I would leave. He scurried off to find Deborah.

Deborah appeared, handed me $3, then walked off. Not only did she shortchange me initially, but she then shortchanged me a second time. And that was on top of getting my bill wrong. I was upset by this time, so I decided not to pursue another conversation with Deborah, the desk guy, or the manager.

Fortunately, the receipt came with instructions on filling out an online survey, and their web site has a Contact Us section, although they haven't yet (after more than 3 full days) responded to my feedback.

Anyone want to one-up?

UPDATE: On 07/14, I received a letter from Macaroni Grill's headquarters. They apologized, advised me that the regional manager would be providing additional training to the staff at that store, and they sent me two $10 coupons. As far as I'm concerned, they have recovered from the black eye they'd had.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

1 Corinthians 13:11 and Giant Alien Robots

GPop and I took Son to see Transformers yesterday. The afternoon was a mess of thunderstorms, so the theater was packed. Son's prognosis of the movie was that it would be "really cool." His assessment was that it was "awesome."

Somehow, in the space between hearing about this movie about a year ago and seeing this movie yesterday, I became old. My assessment: "Meh."

Throughout the movie, my reptilian hindbrain was quite impressed with the giant alien robots, and how much doo-doo I would be in if one of the Decepticons decided to squish me. The slightly more advanced id portion of my psyche coveted the nifty-cool cars.

Fuddy-duddy superego kept counting fatalities, tallying property damage, noticing plot holes big enough to drive Optimus Prime through, and wondering about the motivations of the Decepticons. (Power good. Autobots bad.)

Spoiler alert (highlight to see text)
Plus, I wonder about the sacrifice Optimus Prime was willing to make. If he was willing to sacrifice himself to save his planet or ours, that's all well and good. However, when you listen to the monologue at the end, right before the end credits, you hear that because of the destruction of the Allspark, it's no longer possible to resurrect the planet of the Transformers. So, basically, Optimus Prime was willing to sacrifice not only himself to save his species, but also sacrifice the future of his species to save the current crop.

"If I can't play with it, nobody can play with it. [SMASH]"

And, does the State of California no longer require titles to be transferred when cars are sold? Why was the boy able to acquire a Camaro without getting a title, insurance, etc.
End spoilers.

I ended up using this as a teaching moment or three with Son. GPop and I explained why we thought that the movie was entertaining, but we had to be careful about how we think about entertainment. When we suspend our disbelief for entertainment purposes, we expose our values to manipulation (he says, hoping nobody calls Shenanigans). Entertainment can serve as propaganda, just because of that filter removal coming from suspension of disbelief. I can see this being related to the controversy around violence in video games as well.

Anyway, the messages to Son were that he should think carefully about how entertainment makes him feel and what it makes him think. If he feels that he is getting some kind of new world view out of the entertainment, spend some time to examine those thoughts and feelings so that he can incorporate them appropriately.

Son seemed to listen. I'm so proud of him.

UPDATE: More over at Geek, Interrupted.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Anger Issues

I was in the men's room yesterday at work, and there was someone in the next stall who had severe anger issues with respect to pooping.

I heard this muttering. "Gddamit mthrfkr jeeeseskrist ohgod. [plop] Jeesesgod fk sht. [plop]"

After about two minutes of this, the guy got up, slammed the stall door open, and angrily washed his hands. I stayed put until he left.

Hey, at least he wasn't taking a stall call.

Defying Gravity

We took Son to see Wicked a few days ago. We had a pretty good time. The theater was pretty warm. It was probably about 80 degrees where we sat. Son announced several times that he was hot.

The G(a)linda actress put an edge on the character that you don't hear in the cast recording CD.

All around a fun time.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Take it to the Limit One More Time

We went to see Ratatouille this weekend. Like every other Pixar film so far, it is quite good. The theater was full. GPop about burst a blood vessel, because the family sitting behind us seemed to have some kind of genetic indecisiveness regarding where the small boy was going to sit.
"Do you want to go see Mommy? She has popcorn."
"Why don't you go sit with Grandpa?"
"Mommy wants to see you; go sit with her."

All of these remarks were at normal conversational volume. I understand that this was a family movie, and we should expect kids to talk, but the adults were oblivious to the fact that there were other people around.

Son's older brother came to visit us for the weekend. I'd use an acronym for "Son's Older Brother," but that wouldn't work out. Anyway, Son's Older Brother is 16. We try to make sure Son can see him regularly. Son's Older Brother got the BIG DRINK for the movie, so Son had to copy and get the same. Son's Older Brother got a refill during the previews, so Son had to copy and get the same.

Son's prodigious intake of carbonated beverage caused intense bloating after the movie. He was crying and making retching sounds in the back seat on the way home. We kept the windows open in case of sudden issues. After about five minutes on the road, Son proclaimed, "You are so lucky the windows are open." Then he felt better.