Saturday, May 31, 2008

Literal Expression of Metaphor

This woman lived in a closet for over a year.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Call for Parental Advice

Son is finishing up seventh grade. He brought home his yearbook yesterday. GPop joined him on the couch while I was being antisocial with whatever disease I had yesterday. I overheard this monologue as Son was pointing to kids in the yearbook.

Son: He sits next to on the bus. She's in my science class. He's kind of crazy. I asked her out. He's on the baseball team. I asked her out. She's sort of mean. He's always in trouble. I asked her out. I don't know him. He's really funny. I asked her out.

And so on....

I got a bit concerned that he was asking so many girls out, and yet he has never said that any have agreed. I'm not concerned so much that "going out" in seventh grade will lead to dancing or whatever. I'm more concerned that striking out again and again will lead to Son being regarded as that creepy kid who doesn't get how to act around girls. Just to provide some context, Son is reasonably well-liked at school, and he has several friends whose neuroses seem to be well within the first standard deviation.

I talked to Mandy about this today, and she told me I was being a worrywart, based on her experience as a middle-school girl. I value her input tremendously, and I promise to let this go soon, but I did want to see if any other parents out there ever had similar worries and how they got over them.

Full disclosure: In middle school, I was a bit quiet and shy, and I had the reputation of being smart and kind of weird*, so this is a bit beyond my ken.

*If you know me in person now, just shut up. Seriously, the first person who says, "In middle school?" will get a wet willie. You have been warned.

Foto Phriday

I guess Romulans play golf, now. Plus, there's innuendo.

Department of Hair

I woke up this morning out of a dream where I was at the DMV (or BMV, if your state so decrees), doing what people at such a facility do - standing in line. A man wearing a lemon-yellow top coat and a woman wearing a scarlet top coat both cut in line a bit ahead of me. I was having none of that, so I confronted them.

The man wouldn't turn to look at me and instead gave me some stupid, selfish explanation about how if the line wasn't going to move fast enough, he was well within his rights to...

"B*lls**t!" I yelled, and grabbed his shoulder to turn him to face me. His face wasn't there. Instead, his head was configured kind of like Cousin Itt from The Addams Family.

Any early 20th century psychiatrists who would like first crack at this?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another Reason I Am Proud of My Son

Son is 13. He recently asked me to set up a second savings account for him so that he could save up money for a car. I told him that he should put at least 20% of his allowance and gift money into the double-secret account so that it would grow pretty steadily.

Over the weekend, he told me that he'd rather put that percentage up to 50%. And, after considering his options, he's going to defer buying another video game system (the PS3) until he can save up for it under this new financial plan.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Marketing Horror

OK, I'm not going to put too much analysis into this, but I hate those commercials where babies talk through the magic of digital editing.


Just since right before lunch...

Another Reason I Love My Son

The scene: GPop is in the kitchen. I am cleaning the teevee room. It is about 7:00 p.m.

Son: [Gives me a big hug] I don't think I hugged you yet today. There you go.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Hope for the Deroved

There was no joy in Mudville when Karl Rove left the fold. Now there's hope!

News from the Lastname Family

Brother 3 just passed his Series 6 exam. Rock on!

Marketing Gone Horribly Wrong

On days when the departmental administrative assistant is out, some of us managers deliver the mail. It's usually just whoever walks past it first.

The testing manager handed me a small box a moment ago. It would be about the size you'd use to individually box a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on that wide Italian bread.. He said, "Special delivery!" I shook the box, but I couldn't tell what was in it.

The box was taped closed with one of those big, clear circles of adhesive plastic. I didn't see my scissors where they normally were, so I used the alligator clip part of a name badge holder. First mistake. I sliced a small cut in my finger.

I thought for a moment about whether to open the box. The image of Pandora floated through my mind, but I decided to go ahead and see what was inside.

It was a postcard. This company, Exagrid Systems, Inc. (I won't link to them.), sent me a postcard in a box. I hope their marketing demons get banished back to Bolgia 10 in the eighth circle.

Geek Humor

This makes me laugh out of proportion with how funny it probably is.

[Faux Russian accent]: In Soviet Russia, Force uses you!

Monday, May 26, 2008

In Memoriam

The man on the left is my paternal grandfather. The man on the right is my maternal grandfather. Both served in the US Navy in WWII. We are all diminished by their passing. I am fortunate that they did not pass away in the service, but lived long lives after. Take a moment to remember those who were not so lucky.

The baby over my paternal grandfather's shoulder is yours truly. The photograph over my maternal grandfather's shoulder is of yours truly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Von Braun

We finished up a model rocket today. Son had never built one before, and he was pretty impressed with the end result.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Back to the Woo-ture

I'm up with Son, and I just saw a commercial for PowerPurify, a foot pad which seems to have the same commercial as Kinoki Foot Pads. Plus, an extra bonus is that their website's title calls them "PowerPurifty."


Sicko, Part N

Son woke me up around 4:45. He had a fever of about 100.9 degrees. He's usually around 97.8. I probably need to get him to the doctor if it keeps up.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Foto Phriday

This sign is on the door of the men's room in the basement level of one of Megacorporation One's buildings. Interestingly, the same sign on the first floor doesn't have the same typo.

All That and a Bag Thereof

Neighbors Rusty and Kath have recently added Kath's father to their household. Pops is an English WWII vet whose circumstances have recently required him to relocate to Rusty and Kath's house. On Saturday, Rusty called and told me that Pops was craving fish and chips, but Rusty couldn't think of a place to get it that was a) close, and b) provided carry-out service.

I suggested Small Town Restaurant. STR version 1 was a long-time fixture of downtown Small Town. I think it opened around 1910, and it lasted until about 2001. It shut down, changed ownership, reinvented itself as a sports bar/restaurant, and reopened in about 2004. Well, the new owners did the work, but you get the idea.

The new theme seems to be loosely based on Hooters. All of the wait staff that I've seen consists of 18-24 year old women between 5'2 and 5'5 who have a BMI of about 19 and wear solid-color tight t-shirts. The owner looks a lot like this guy, just to give you an idea of the atmosphere.

Anyway, Rusty called them, and this dialogue occurred.

STR Rep: Thank you for calling Small Town Restaurant, how may I help you?

Rusty: Hi. I was wondering if you have fish and chips.

STR Rep: Ummmm.... We have nachos.

Rusty: Oooooooooh-kaaaaaaay. Do you have anything with fish on the menu?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sing! Sing a Song!

On Tuesday night, Son's school had the 6th grade choir concert at 6:00, the 7th grade concert at 7:00, and the 8th grade concert at 8:00. Since we had to go to the 7th grade one, we had to fight crowds coming and going.

It was a HOOT! The chairs were awfully uncomfortable, and they were too close together, so all of us big fat bumpkins had to rub elbows. I think that made folks a bit more able to get into the right mood.

The Girls' Show Choir kicked off the show with a medley called "Girls Rock!" which had a lot of songs in it that I was supposed to recognize, but didn't. Then they did the "For Good" number from Wicked. It was decent enough, but GPop kept flinching when the girl who announced the number kept calling the Wicked Witch "el-PHAH-bah" instead of "EL-phə-bə."

When the boys finally joined the girls on stage, I had to laugh. Only two or three of the boys actually looked like they were moving their lips. Many of them kept putting their hands into and out of their pockets. The girls seemed to be much more enthusiastic. I think I'll send the music teacher a letter to tell her she might want to put all of the microphones over on the boys' side in future concerts so that we can tell that they're not mannequins.

They ended with the aptly-named medley "Forever Motown." I've sung in a chorus before, and I think that arrangers often forget that a medley is most effective when it consists of short selections from a few songs, not every song ever written in its entirety. One kid, who looked like either a Muppet or an anime character, kept yawning. Of course, he was in the front row.

I was grinning ear to ear the whole time. It was quite entertaining. The kids actually did a pretty good job, and the one girl who arranged the choreography was also the dancer in the play we saw last weekend. She's quite talented.

Not Funny; Funny

Accusing and convicting someone of vehicular homicide is not funny.

Accusing and convicting someone of vehicular genocide is sort of funny, when you think about it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thought Experiment

I'm not usually one to talk about invisible dragons in my garage, but this might be fun. If not, I'll try not to do it again until I've gotten better at the process.

Imagine there's a man who is one of the top few in the field of helping poor children out of serious medical conditions. He can do medical work that many people would describe as "miracles." He also does this work basically for free, because he was frugal in his youth, and he's saved up enough to live out the rest of his life in comfort. A foundation even pays for him to travel around the world, and there's an equitable process for bringing patients to him or sending him to patients.

Sounds good so far, right?

He works about 12 hours a day, six days a week. He spends the seventh day recharging and studying up on the latest work in his field. He's not neglecting any family duties with this schedule. Every year, he takes off two weeks to relax, then it's back to saving the kids. If you know all this about him, he sounds like a really stand-up sort of guy.

On the way home from work every night, our saint finds a homeless person on the street and kicks him or her. It's rarely the same homeless person night to night, but it happens six nights a week. If all you knew about our guy was this part, then he sounds like a monster.

What if you know both parts? Is he hero or villain?

No translate this into organizations - corporations, religions, special interest groups, governmental organizations, countries, whatever. Can we expect that there will ever be a clear view of an organization's goodness or nefariousness?

Hey, I think I just thought-experimented politics and PR into being. Go, me!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Too Funny

Remember the former mayor of Washington D.C., Marion "Coke-Head" Barry? I found out that there is a variety of blackberry called a Marionberry.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Question for the Engineers

Our dryer we bought when we moved into our home started its decline into decrepitude some time ago, but recently, that decline has been swift. So, good little consumers that we are, we bought a new one at our local Giant Home Improvement Warehouse store.

Apparently, there are two types of plug for large appliances like this one. There is a three-pronged variety and a four-pronged variety. The woman who was tending the appliance section asked us if we needed to purchase a new power cord. We didn't know if we needed three or four prongs, so we told her that we would just detach the cord from the old dryer to use on the new one.

She said, "Well, if the cord is over five years old, you'll want to get a new one. Copper gets brittle when you run electricity over it."

I'm skeptical of this claim, prima facie. Can anyone comment?

With a Cherry on Top


I'd like to be a dancer a-dancing on my toes.
I'd like to be a fireman; I'd squirt you with my hose.
And I would be a sailor; I'd sail the seven seas.
But there is one thing special which everyone agrees.

Oh, everyone likes ice cream! Yes, indeed they do.
Everyone likes ice cream! I do. Do you?
Search the whole world over, travel near and far,
But everyone likes ice cream, no matter who they are.

I'd like to have a kitten, all cuddly, soft, and clean.
I'd like to have a dragon, all big and tough and mean!
And I would have a little mouse; I'd feed him lots of cheese.
But there is one thing special which everyone agrees.

Oh, everyone likes ice cream! Yes, indeed they do.
Everyone likes ice cream! I do. Do you?
Search the whole world over, travel near and far,
But everyone likes ice cream, no matter who they are.

-"Everyone Likes Ice Cream" from the Bert and Ernie Sing-a-long tape.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jack Norworth, 1908

We were able to get free tickets to the local minor league baseball team's game last night. GPop had a stack of them he got at work, so we took Son, Son's Older Brother, and us to the game. As it turns out, the boys are way more sports-oriented than GPop and I are, but they are sports fans in the sense that they seem to have a favorite team, because the other kids at school have a favorite team.

My favorite team is the Sweetwater All Stars.

Anyway, baseball seems to be a sport where not a whole lot happens, so the organizers put together a list of activities to keep the crowd entertained. There was the "College-aged Women Throw Stuff Into the Audience" event, the "Everyone Cheer for Their Favorite Song" event, and the "Roll Giant Dice to Determine the Prize" event.

When they got to the "Show the Waving Audience Members on the Big Screen" event, I decided I wanted to be onscreen. Instead of jumping up and down and waving, I sat very still, raised my hand in the Vulcan Live Long and Prosper salute from Star Trek, and stared at the cameraman. He was panning over the crowd and picking people out that looked interesting. GPop also raised his hand in a similar salute.

We totally got on the big screen by geeking out. I think our screen time was longer than most of the others. I laughed a lot.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Green Scare

Son's Older Brother is 17. If you recall, we started the process of adopting him last fall, but it didn't work out. The short version is that we were getting the truck cleaned out on Friday to pick him up on Saturday morning when we got a call from his foster father telling us that Son's Older Brother was no longer able to join our family, and please don't call any more. We eventually figured out that he'd had a change of heart, and that led to a few months of separation between Son's Older Brother and us.

Well, that's in the past. Fast forward to a few nights ago.

Son's Older Brother called Monday night. He asked, "Can I come over this weekend and spend Saturday night at your house?" He sounded a bit depressed, but that didn't concern me, because he always sounds a little depressed on the phone. I was a bit surprised though, because it's rare that he takes the initiative to set up weekend visits. We made the arrangements, and I passed the phone to Son to give him a chance to talk to his brother.

I went upstairs to put some clothes away when the phone rang again. Since my back hurt, I was a bit slow to get to the phone in my bedroom, so Son and I both answered the call. At this point, I have to let you know that Son's Older Brother has a name that's unusual, but not unique. Let's just pretend, for the moment, that his name is Samuel.

When I picked up the phone and greeted the caller, I heard Son's voice doing the same. The caller said, "Hi. Is Samuel there?"

I thought it was odd that Samuel had called a few minutes before and then somebody was calling looking for him. Samuel has had some trouble in the past, but he's been on the straight and narrow for a while, now. I pretended that our phones were interfering with each other by speaking very loudly. "HELLO! HELLO! OK, SON, GO AHEAD AND HANG UP!"

When Son had hung up, I asked again what the caller needed. He indicated again that he wanted to talk to Samuel. I told him that no such person lived in our home. He asked if he could verify our phone number, which he did. He said, something like, "Okey-dokey!" and hung up.

I started to get very concerned that Samuel had gotten in some kind of trouble or that someone had stolen his identity and had gotten him in trouble. Kids in foster care have a little more exposure of their personal information, because foster parents get their SSNs and names. I got more and more agitated, so I did a *67 to find out who had called. It was a land line in a suburb about 8 miles away. None of the web reverse lookups would tell me who it was. Plus, Samuel doesn't have our home phone number; he always calls us on my cell phone.

The next day, I called the number around 10:00 from a conference room at work. I figured that businesses would be open by then, and private citizens would likely be at work. Either way, I might find out the business' name from the person who answered or the citizen's name from any answering machine.

RING! RING! RING! "Hello, thisissomewordsthatareallslurredtogetherhowmayidirectyourcall?"

"I'm sorry. Whom did I just dial?"

"Army Recruiting Center, how may I direct your call?"

I told her that I'd dialed the wrong number and hung up. I started to laugh with a bit of relief, then I got a bit upset. When we were getting things together to adopt Samuel, we enrolled him in our local school district. Of course, his old school had to get his records back, and he never actually attended our school. However, our school district's recordkeeping system must be scratches on parchment, because we've received a few contacts asking why Samuel isn't in school or that his bus schedule is changing.

Anyway, now I am concerned that Son's school sells the names and addresses of children to some organization that gives them to colleges and military recruiters. This seems wrong to me. Plus, I found this over at indexed.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Son got all muddy riding his mini bike. He stripped to his underwear in the laundry room, and he just marched into the teevee room with his underpants pulled up to give himself a turbo wedgie. He just turned his back to me, waggled his butt, and announced, "Look, I'm a sumo wrestler!"

There was a pause. Then, "Ow. That hurts."

Foto Phriday

This truck was running down the road, tryin' to loosen its load. I saw it yesterday. The right panel, in case you can't read it, says "Master Baiters."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Question for the Readers

OK, I know this will be the opposite of a statistically significant poll, but please comment. If you are in a marriage right now, has your marriage significantly degraded for a reason that can be traced back to today's decision in sunny California to allow same-sex marriages? If so, how? If not, can you conceive of a reason why it would?

I'm really trying to figure out any way to reach across the divide and speak to those who insist that same-sex marriage will destroy the institution of marriage. In the absence of any evidence to support their claims, the best I can think is that they are terrified of change, and the more likely thought is that they are hateful bigots who need someone to hate in order to feel good about themselves.

And to those who are experiencing flux in your relationships, for whatever reason, you have my deepest sympathy.

MA or CA?

California's supreme court just struck down same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional. Of course, the reich wingers are already in the process of collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November.

The Great Verb Shift

I heard a report on NPR a while back that talked about the changes in languages, especially irregular verbs. The reporter asserted that irregular verbs have a lifecycle that ends in them becoming a regular verb. For example, in several hundred years, the past tense of read (reed) will no longer be read (red) but will instead be readed (reed-ed).

I was reflecting on this during my commute this morning, and I wondered if having a more literate society and technology that records the spoken word would tend to retard that change. Are there any cunning linguists out there who would care to opine?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cloverfield, or Cloverpot

Throughout my life, I've been good at spotting four-leaf clovers. Some years ago, I started referring to that talent as my superpower. Some time ago, Geekina McNerdy was going to kill a clover patch in her lawn that had a lot of four-leaf clover presence. I took it and potted it. It's pretty.

Another Rainy Day

Cold and rainy again. As they say, "If you don't like the weather in Midwest State, just wait five minutes."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


At the Mothers Day celebrations, I got a chance to see my niece. She's two, adorable, etc. She's also going through a phase where she doesn't like to wear pants. Sister In LAw 1 was helping her count to ten.

SILA1: Honey, can you count to ten?

Niece: TEN!

SILA1: Start with one...

Niece: [grabs pants] Un, to, tree...

SILA1: Four...

Niece: [pulls pants to mid-thigh] Fo, fi, sic. [pants below knees] Sev!

SILA1: OK, Honey, let's put your pants back on.

Niece: [giggle fit]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Baking Is Bonding

Son asked me if we could make brownies for dessert tonight. I had just put a loaf of fresh bread in the oven, so he must have made that connection. He wanted to make them himself, too.

Some good friends of ours, who are the ones whom we helped connect their Wii to a wireless network, put together a family cookbook with recipes from their family along with some anecdotes and family pictures. They were kind enough to give us a copy for Christmas.

Son saw that cookbook, found the easy brownie recipe within, and got to it. I supervised a little, but he was pretty good about putting it together, at least until it was time to put the batter into the pan. That was a bit messy. We overcame, though. The brownies should be ready in about 15 minutes.

Mom's New Dog

Mom's dog of about a dozen years died a few weeks back. She now has a new puppy to be a companion to her other dog. Both her dogs are miniature dachshunds.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Glücklicher Muttertag

We did Mothers Day stuff today. Mom isn't very good at Mario Kart.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New Product

Today, I was washing the car, and all of the muscles in my lower back went, and I quote, "Squinch!" Owie!

Son and GPop are putting out the garden whilst I'm inside trying to find the least uncomfortable position in which to sit. I'm not succeeding.

I found this video. I laughed a lot. It hurt.

The Missing Three

These words of prophecy are from the Hybrid on the ship populated with Leobens, Sixes, and Eights.

The missing Three
Will give you the Five
Who came from the home
Of the Thirteenth
I think this is still consistent with this conversation with Hoji.

Things Not Heard in My Living Room

Here is a statement never heard in my living room before we purchased Mario Kart for the Wii.

"Oh no! The squid!"

Friday, May 9, 2008

Quote of the Day

Better do a good deed near at home than go far away to burn incense.
-Amelia Earhart (1897 - 1937(?))

Geek Humor in the Workplace

Yesterday, I was in a meeting to discuss the concept of aligning peoples' abilities with the project work that we have coming down the pike. Our company wants to align people with a tier structure to monitor what level of projects (in size and complexity) they've successfully completed in the past. The theory is, of course, that past performance is the best predictor of future results. We're to believe this in the people management domain, but we are told not to believe this in the money management domain.

Anyway, as I was sitting there listening to the presenter give an example of a project that might require a Tier 3H project manager with advanced skills in meeting facilitation and business knowledge in specific product line X. In my mind, I translated this as, "We need a fifth level magic-user/thief with a specialization in illusion spells and a resistance to mind control psionics."

Foto Phriday - Make-Up Work Edition

We put out some traps, and we got rid of our ceiling gopher.

I didn't have any Spider-Man bandages.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

National Surplus

We may have a crushing national debt as far as money is concerned, but by my observations, we seem to have a surplus of ill-informed, opinionated loudmouths at family restaurants.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Federal Gas Tax Savings - Better Than a Sale at Kohl's!

Senator John McCain and Senator Hillary Clinton are pandering floating ideas to suspend the federal gasoline tax (18.4 cents per gallon) over the summer, which is the peak driving season. I figure that my 450 miles per week works out to 10 gallons per week, since I get between 44 and 46 mpg during the summer. So, each week, I save $1.84. Multiply that by 13 weeks for the full summer season, and you get about $24 back in my pocket.

If I toasted my morning bagel at home rather than buying it in the cafeteria, I'd save that much in a month. If I made my coffee at home, on top of making the bagel at home, I'd recoup that in no time flat.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Terpsechorean Variations

Son is putting the dishes in the dishwasher right now, and he's singing rather loudly.

Jimmy crapped corn, and I don't care (because it's none of my business).
Jimmy crapped corn, and I don't care (because it's none of my business).
Jimmy crapped corn, and I don't care (because it's none of my business).

Schoolhouse Rockin'

We were in the car in moderate traffic, so I really wanted to pay attention to the road. Son was in the back seat. Son's Older Brother was in the front passenger seat.

Son: What's this?

GDad: What's what?

Son: This.

GDad: OK, pronouns aren't cutting it for me. You'll have to use a noun at some point.

Son: What's this thing?

Son's Older Brother: Heh heh.

GDad: OK, point taken. Good choice of nouns, by the way, but you'll have to be more specific.

Son: What's this thing in this box?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Whatever It Is, I'm not Eating It Before Bed Any More

Last night, I read this post over at Kids of Queers. Then I watched the tail end (ha ha) of Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe where Mike had to stick cotton swabs up the butts of geese to test for some virus.

Of course, I had a dream last night where a doctor was prepping me for some unpleasant hindquarters-related procedure. It was extremely vivid, but it stopped a few seconds short of being graphic.

Dramatis Personae in the Mall

I used to work in a small computer software/books boutique in a mall. Actually, in the summer for two summers, I worked in the instance of that store in a mall near my dad's house, and during the school year, I worked in the instance nearest my college. Ultimately, I ended up as the store manager of the store nearest my college, which is when I decided that I seriously needed to evaluate my career progression.

Over the course of the years I worked there, I met a cast of characters who were regular shoppers or mall employees and who were memorable in some way or another. In other words, they were really weird, and the store employees usually tried to pawn those customers off on the unsuspecting noob or the guy just coming in for the next shift. The weird mall employees were various levels of entertaining or irritating.

Pirate Guy
Pirate Guy was actually not too bad. He had 80s curly hair and a goatee. He always (always) wore a black shirt with puffy sleeves when he shopped at our store. For a long time, due the fact that he sounded like Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game, and he called all of the young men who worked in the store "Stud", we thought he was gay. Then he showed up with his wife and kids. Years later, I found out that he was a professor of economics or some such discipline.

I don't remember Richard's last name, and I wouldn't post it if I did, but he worked in the Sears store in the mall. He fancied himself to be even more of a computer geek than anyone who worked at the store, and he was just socially awkward enough to pull it off. He would come in and tell us of new developments in technology that didn't actually exist. Then he wouldn't leave until we had all acknowledged his technical superiority. Since we couldn't leave, because we WORKED THERE, we would try to play the waiting game. We wouldn't give him the satisfaction of pretending he was really knowledgeable, and we knew that his break would eventually end, so it ended up being this weird dysfunctional relationship that made everyone uncomfortable, but none of us could would do anything about it.

After a while, Sears (wisely) decided to banish him to the kiosk in the parking lot where they had the key duplication machinery for house and car keys. It was basically the same kind of setup as an old Photomat. Around that time, Baldo McNerdy and I decided to try to make Richard think that he smelled like peanuts. I don't think we ever succeeded.

We all started to pretend that saying his name would summon him, unless we did the anti-Richard dance, which involved singing a nonsense little tune while spinning around with our hands on our heads.

Deaf Little Latino Guy
This guy wasn't deaf, but he soon would be. He was a tiny Latino man who wore a tank top and shorts almost all the time. He also wore a Walkman that was turned up so loudly that we could clearly hear his music through his headphones from thirty feet away. He never bought anything, but he would browse for about twenty minutes.

When I first started working at the store, the place next to us was a video games arcade. It closed after about a year, and it was replaced with a chain Chinese food store. The managers were a Korean couple with an elementary school daughter named Angel. She appeared to have a crush on every man who worked in the store. Of course, we were all devastatingly handsome, so that's understandable. We would tease her gently. She spent a lot of time in the store. Free babysitting for her parents, and I don't think we ever got a discount from the Chinese place, but I might be mistaken.

Mall Rat
This middle schooler or high school freshman lived in an apartment complex adjacent to the mall parking lot. He loved to read the gaming magazines and just chat with us. He was good company for about ten minutes, and then it got to be a bit much. I think he spent most afternoons and evenings wandering from store to store in the mall, straying close to the "get out of here, kid" line before moving to the next store.

Touchy-Feely Guy
During the day at the mall, the demographics tended toward the elderly or the unemployed. This wasn't a ritzy mall that catered to the idle rich. One of the fellows that came into the mall had some kind of mental illness that I, as a layman, would associate with OCD. One time, he came in and started to read every one of the coupons in a little coupon notepad. When asked if we could help him, he muttered that he was just checking to see if they were all the same. Sometimes, he'd pull all of the pens and pencils out of the cup on the counter and gently touch the tips of each of them, one by one. Sometimes, we would watch him leave the store, and he'd go to other stores to check up on their coupons or look under their fixtures or whatever.

The Nine Year Old
This was another man with some kind of mental illness. He would come in and sometimes buy a magazine. He almost always would tell us stories about his day that were not possibly true. The guy appeared to be in his thirties, but his stories usually included one of the statements:

  • I'm only nine years old!
  • I'm only four years old!
  • I'm the quarterback for Small State College.
He was generally harmless, but we really had no idea how to respond to his stories.

The Revenant
We didn't call him that. We all knew his name. He was an older man with swept-back hair who would come in about once every six weeks and buy some software. After one week, he would return it - unopened. We had a shrink wrap machine in the back to re-wrap returned software, so we knew what re-wrapped boxes looked like, and these weren't. Eventually, the manager asked us to discourage the behavior, so I took the opportunity one time to explain to him that our store policy allowed us to refuse returns at the manager's discretion. I don't remember him ever coming back.

The Reverend
This guy would best be described as a fussy, fastidious little man with a smaller personal space than made any of us comfortable. He would buy things using his church's account information so he didn't have to pay sales tax. He used us as his personal computer geeks, and he would call us to solve problems he was having that had nothing to do with his purchases.

Some years later, I Googled him and found that he was the Archbishop of some splinter sect based on Greek Orthodoxy's Church of My Basement. He had been arrested for carrying a firearm into a place where such things weren't allowed.

Ren and Stimpy
These were two guys that always shopped together. As near as I can tell, they were not a couple, but merely two nerds who liked each other's company. Ren was a small, wiry fellow with glasses, and Stimpy was about 6'4", quite hefty, and carried the largest ass, proportionally, that I have ever seen on a man.

Ren, like Richard (di di dee da de da da da da da da da da da da dah, di di...), imagined himself to be quite the technostud. Rather than trying to tell us of new technology that didn't actually exist, though, he would try to trip us up with tough questions. We'd either answer correctly or refuse to play. One time, he announced that he'd written his own operating system to replace the one that comes with the Amiga computer. Those of us in the store at the time called him out. Finally, we got him to acknowledge that he had actually written a command line interface that would accept the name of an external program and launch that program. That's a much easier task.

Stimpy was just a big doofus that was along for the ride.

Later on, when I worked at Nearly Defunct Online Company, I trained an incoming class of CSRs that included Ren. Stimpy did not end up working there.

Sometimes I miss the characters, but I certainly don't miss the environment.

Monday Bacon

When bacon is outlawed, only outlaws will have bacon.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sum Ferrum Vir

We saw Iron Man this afternoon. WOW! I don't really want to get all fanboy here, but it is probably the most entertaining superhero movie I've seen as an adult, although I saw Batman when I was 18, so technically, I was an adult then.

I'm not very good at reviewing movies, so I'll just chime in with a "Me too!" However, I did notice something interesting about the commercials before the movie. Running four commercials for a new Lexus luxury vehicle during an economic downturn may not be really that great a use of advertising dollars.

Sunday Bacon

Wow. This is freaky.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Product

Astrologum with Healing Crystals! The crystals emit quantum placebon particles.

Saturday Bacon

Heh. I'll link rather than embed.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why I Don't Watch Teevee News

I'm in the cafeteria of one of my company's other buildings, and the teevee is on one of those interminable and insufferable morning news teevee shows. I'm not sure, and I don't care if it's a national feed or a local show, but the perky woman anchor just shouted the phrase, "Battle with a gas station coffee maker! Haw haw haw haw!"

Then the man anchor started on today's TOP STORY about the upcoming Kentucky Derby.

UPDATE: Now they're discussing Mariah Carey. The woman just shouted again.

Kiss This Guy, 1990s Edition

Several years ago, Kyle Petty of NASCAR fame was huckstering some product on teevee. I think it was motor oil, but it might have been sandwiches. It doesn't matter. Anyway, every time his commercial appeared, he said, "Hi, I'm Kyle Petty."

What I heard was, "Hi, I'm Cow Patty."

I don't live in the South.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Once Again - Day Late, Dollar Short

For a long time, I've joked about fictional motorcycles that would be powered by flywheels. Because of gyroscopic action, you wouldn't need a kickstand, but the drawback is that you could only turn right.

So I found this link. Doggone it!

Bohemian Rhapsody - Last Line

Any way the wind blows....

It seems that the Democratic nominees are trying to look less like policy wonks and more like privileged buffoons who may not be the common man, but who certainly can understand him. Here's a graph of where it seems like the candidates were in different parts of the process so far.

Please, O god of punditry and politics, hear my prayer. LET THIS BE OVER SOON!

You, too, can join in the fun and choose any two attributes for your axes.

Long Ships, Conical Helmets

Over the past week, Son and I put together his Viking costume for the school project today. Both of us are pleased at how it turned out. Here are some highlights. Son helped me design it, and he helped put some of it together.

The Helmet

We started with a two-liter bottle (or for you Canadians and Brits, two-litre), because the top of it had the right sort of shape. I cut a slice out of the top so I could get a flat pattern. I drew the slice on a piece of graph paper, then compared the circumference of the bottle with the circumference of Son's head. I needed to scale up about 1.75 times. Since my drawing was on graph paper, I just went out 1.75 times the number of squares in both directions and redrew the pattern. I ended up with something like this.

There's a new kind of posterboard that has grid lines on it. I had Son take the pattern and draw a bunch of overlapping instances so we ended up with a pattern that looked sort of like this.

We wrapped the tab around and glued it to the other end to make something that looked like a crown. Then I started to pinch the points together, and Son taped the teeth together inside. This brought the teeth inward in a rounded cone shape. The tips of the teeth didn't connect together, so I traced the inside of the roll of masking tape to make a circle, then I cut a wedge out of the circle to draw it together into a cone, which we glued to the top.

We put some tape on the seams, and then cut out pieces for the eye guards, neck guard, and ear flaps. Grey primer, silver paint, and a clear coat finish made the helmet look like this.

The Tunic and Pants

We recycled the tunic from Son's Link costume from Halloween. I made the pants from a thicker canvas-like material. All I had to do there was take a pair of Son's lounge pants/pajama bottoms and copy the pieces. I didn't add a zipper or drawstring, because luck made them fit snugly, but not too tightly.

The Cape

The cape was easy. I just made a rectangle of cloth, hemmed the edges, then pulled it in on one side to make it sort of trapezoidal-ish. The fastener is pretty simple. I found a large key ring for the circle, and I made the pin by pulling apart a binder clip, straightening the wire with some pliers, bending the end, and sharpening the other end on a knife sharpener. Slick, eh?

The Sword

I bought the sword at a costume shop for $4.

Here's the finished product.