Monday, June 30, 2008

Smooth as a...

This is a picture of one of those baby diaper changing stations. Those babies have huge hineys. And feet.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Ferocity on the Plains

My late grandfather is buried in the cemetery near a very small country church. We recently went to visit Grandma after her hospital stay, and we stopped to visit Grandpa's grave. There was a storm a-comin'.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quality Control

You remember my desk thermometer? When I was shopping for it, I had wanted to purchase one of the type that has a circular face with a needle indicator rather than the liquid kind. However, when I looked at the display, I saw that there was about a five degree swing in the temperature those thermometers measured. The kicker is that the brand name is "ACU-RITE", which seems to be a sort of portmanteau of "accurate" and "right." Sweet, delicious irony....

Friday, June 27, 2008

Foto Phriday

We went to an adoption picnic held by our local Children Services department a couple of weeks ago. At the picnic, there were a couple of caricature artists. GPop left to go to work before he could get his caricature drawing, but Son and I got ours. Son's turned out pretty well.



Son told me that mine looked exactly like me.... if I were ninety years old.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Which Is Spookier?

Which is spookier?

  • A person who never blinks his eyes when you are looking at him, but who otherwise doesn't try to stare people down?
  • A person who never turns his head,but instead turns his whole body when he needs to look elsewhere?

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Since the start of spring, my desk has been in some kind of thermal anomaly in the space-time continuum that keeps it at least five degrees warmer than desks that are twenty feet away (or six metres, for you Canadians). The ceiling gopher has done his best to make us think he's been addressing the problem by poking his head up into the ventilation systems, but I don't think he's been successful. The kicker is that there are people about twenty feet away who have blankets at their desks, because it's too cold.

This building was completed in 2001.

I bought this item last night to stop people from asking me whether I thought it was too hot. I think I might add a handwritten note that says, "Yes, it is."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

9930 Days

My counter tells me that I have 9930 days left until retirement.

Every two weeks, I contribute a decent amount to my 401(k) plan. Due to the market, I now have less in my account than I did on 12/31 of last year. The amount less is approximately three pay periods' worth of contributions.

The economy certainly will be in the front of my mind during this political year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We Can Only Hope

Dear 007 GIRL,

If you are planning to commit possible felonies on the road by driving the way you do, you may want to consider NOT having an easily remembered vanity plate. Second, you are hardly a "girl." If I were being generous, I might suggest "handsome" and "matronly." If I were not, I would not write it on this blog.

We can only hope that your sin literally is how it is described. Best of luck for whatever remains of your little life.

Sincerely,
GDad

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Diff'rent Strokes

Son just spend some of his money on a new video game. While standing in line there, we observed a boy, probably about 8 years old, discussing the new vs. used price of Grand Theft Auto III. The clerk advised the mother that the game was rated M for mature. The mother replied, in a sort of snippy tone, that she knew that.

Son whispered that he wasn't sure that was appropriate.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Horribile Dictu

My dad called late last night. He was a bit distraught. My cousin (Dad's sister's son) died in an accident on the Colorado river. I believe he was about 30. His fiancée was to have her wedding shower in the next week or so.

I've probably seen this cousin a dozen times. The only time I've seen him in his adult life was at Brother 2's wedding last fall. What a tragedy.

Friday, June 20, 2008

No Good Rotten Day, Retrospective Edition

The overview from Sunday is the highlight reel, but it doesn't include some of the more interesting details.

Years ago, I often drove from Grandma's house toward Mom's or Dad's, but it's rare that I go that way any more. The route is very rural, and the rate of change out that way is pretty low. However, trees continue to grow even if residential and commercial developments do not, so I started to second-guess myself a bit. When I got to the Y in the road that indicates that I'm almost to Upper Smallville, I knew I was going the right way. The new highway is just past Upper Smallville, and it leads to the main interstate route on I-NN at the town of Vircampus.

I saw the entrance ramp to the new highway, and I was able to get on it. One reason I missed the interchange is that I've never gone that way since it was built. Another reason is that it is a huge, complicated interchange out in the middle of nowhere, and I was marveling at its incongruity.

As I drove along the highway, I kept wondering why it looked so run-down, when just two years ago I had seen pristine pavement while driving the other direction. I also wondered why there were so many traffic lights. When I saw the sign for "Jerseytown - 10 miles," I swore a blue streak. I think the dogs in the back of the truck heard me and were frightened of the crazy man spouting profanity in the front seat.

There was a Wendy's up ahead, so I pulled in to get a sandwich to share with the dogs. When I asked the cashier how to get over to I-NN, she asked, "Do you know where Northern Lights Mall is in Capital City?"

If I drove back to Capital City, I'd have been 30 miles from home, which is the opposite direction. Fortunately, I have Google Maps (GO GOOG!) on my new phone, so just by asking her for the street address, I was able to get a decent route back to the interstate.

What a day!

Foto Phriday

We went to a picnic last weekend that was sponsored by our local Children Services department. The event was to introduce prospective adoptive parents to available children. They had a lot of carnival games and such there.

Here is a picture of my sprayed-on face tattoo. It's a pink and white butterfly, if your reader doesn't quite capture its magnificence.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Schlecht und Gut

Last night, I grounded Son for a couple of days for being mouthy and snotty to a much greater degree than usual. Please recall that he is 13.

From a letter in the mail today...


Dear Parent,

Each spring the 7th grade math teachers, School Counselor and Gifted Coordinator meet to discuss students for potential placement in Algebra I. This is a high school course being offered to middle school students who need to meet a specific set of criteria for participation in this class.

[clip]

Your child has been recommended for placement in Algebra I in 8th grade. To participate in this class...


After I talked him out of the idea that he preferred to be with his friends in class instead of taking advantage of this wonderful educational opportunity, he agreed to do this. It is, after all, just one class out of seven or eight during the day. I'm finding it hard not to burst with pride. Remember, this was the kid who never thought he would have a chance to go to college.

It's Just Harmless Fun, Right?

A woman's autistic child was nearly taken from her based on the second-hand word of a fraud "psychic" who claimed that someone was abusing a child whose name began with "V". Unbelievable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

News From the Hospital

I'll give a better description of the Grandma-in-hospital experience soon, but to tide you over, here's a picture of a food item in the hospital cafeteria that has two misspellings in one word. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

BSG - Final Stretch

This is ROT13ed.

====
Gur pyhr vf gur fgngrzrag gung unf nccrnerq va n pbhcyr bs inevngvbaf frireny gvzrf. "Nyy guvf unf unccrarq orsber, naq nyy guvf jvyy unccra ntnva."

Zl vavgvny ernpgvba jnf gung gur Pbybavfgf pnzr sebz Xboby. Gur Xbobyyvnaf? Xbobyvgrf? pnzr sebz Rnegu. Fvzvyne riragf unq bppheerq gb qevir gur crbcyr sebz Rnegu gb Xboby. Creuncf gurl unq perngrq Plybaf orsber, jub unq qrfgeblrq zbfg bs uhznavgl naq qevira gurz gb Xboby, jurer gurl oerq jvgu uhznaf naq perngrq n arj uhzna enpr. Creuncf vg jnf n angheny qvfnfgre, naq gur Plybaf jrer n qvssrerag rirag va guvf plpyr gung jvyy oernx gur plpyr.

V fhfcrpg gur uhznaf naq Plybaf jvyy abj or noyr gb fgneg n arj pvivyvmngvba gung jvyy oernx sebz gur jurry bs gvzr.

Ohg EQZ znl fubbg zr qbja ntnva.

====

Update

Family is OK. GDad is TIRED. More to follow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Liguistic Oddity

In a conference call, I heard someone pronounce the words "holding patter-en" three times.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

GDad and the No Good Rotten Day

We were packing up to go to my dad's for Fathers Day this morning when SILA1 called to tell me that my grandmother had gone to the hospital this morning with chest pains. I sent GPop and Son to my dad's, and I drove to Grandma's to pick up Mom's dogs and some stuff she needed to send back to her house. Mom visits Grandma every other weekend to mow her lawn and help around the house. My uncle visits on the off weekends.


Mom is an elementary school teacher. For the past couple of years, she's signed up to teach a summer week-long science camp for primary school age kids. Of course, the camp will be this week. She had the class materials with her, so I agreed to take those back with me along with the dogs.

Anyway, I got to Grandma's house and picked up the dogs and the class materials. I found out that Grandma had a level of certain enzymes that indicate some kind of cardiac distress, but the doctors at Small Rural Hospital want to send her to Capital City Giant Hospital for a heart catheter and such. They want to transport her in the morning and do that procedure on Monday.

I left Grandma's to head toward Mom's house, which is pretty close to Dad's house. There's a town where I'm supposed to turn right and then follow the highway for a good 50 mile stretch. There was recently a new highway opened. I got on the new highway and just trucked along. About thirty minutes later, I realized that I was heading back toward home instead of toward Dad's. I must've been distracted or upset or something to make that mistake.

I called Brother 1 as I approached Mom's house. He has a key. I dropped the dogs off and called Mom's contact to make arrangements for the science camp. I finally made it to Dad's (normally a 2 hour and change drive) around 5:00. I'd left home around 9:00.

We left Dad's around 7:15 and got home around 9:20.

I will likely need to reschedule the vacation we had planned to Philadelphia next week so we can make sure Grandma is OK. Sorry, Cranky Prof. We'll catch you later this summer, I hope.

Here's a map of my travels. The red line is where I should have cut across but didn't.


Marketing Sin #47

I received this in a letter last week. These marketing people also deserve eternal punishment.

I really don't know where to begin.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Marketing IN SPACE!

E-mail exchange follows....

Brother 1: [URL truncated]

GDad: Huh. I am now ashamed to be human.

Brother 1: They might just come and wipe us out for this.

GDad: I think the reverse is more likely. They will try to duplicate Doritos and end up killing themselves with snack food related illnesses. It's a lot cheaper than sending them syphilis.

Brother 1: They are the native Americans of the future.

GDad: You said it wrong. "of THE FUTURE!"

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hell Is, in Fact, Other People

I am on a bus trip with the other managers in my department. We went to see a pro baseball game that was rained delayed. We left just as they were restarting the game. Almost everyone else is pretty inebriated. The driver has turned on the radio at top volume. The ride home will be two more hours. Gah.

Foto Phriday

The company for which I work is in the FORTUNE 500. We have come quite a way in the past 10 years with respect to acknowledging LGBTQ(etc.) people. When I started, the QGTLB(etc.) "group" was a private mailing list that was sort of secret. A couple of years later, it was an acknowledged group in our company.

This year, this sign has been up since June. There was a security guard watching the lobby for the first week and a half of June. I think he was there to make sure nobody knocked it down, but he might have been there for some other reason.

Not Much of a Metaphor

We've been watching Stargate SG-1 on DVD. We're now on Season 4. It's pretty decent teevee science fiction.

Last night's episode had Our Heroes making contact with a world that had some advanced technology. The offworlders were willing to trade their tech in exchange for heavy water that they could use to fuel their fusion reactors. The reactor powered their defense shields, which was important, since they were at war with The Enemy.

We thought that there was going to be some moral lesson about racism built into this episode. The Enemy was going to turn out to be some other species who turned out to be the defenders in the war, and the advanced offworlders would be the aggressors intent on wiping out the other species. All we would have to do is pull back one layer. Voilà! A moral lesson about racism!

Well, yes, the advanced outworlders were the aggressors, but The Enemy was not an alien species. They were the same people, just not as genetically "pure." So while it was a moral lesson, it wasn't even couched in metaphor like Star Trek does on a regular basis. That being said, I still like the show.

Mmmm... predigested.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nothing to See Here; Move Along

So the hateful, bigoted murderer who killed a college student basically for being gay is going to get less than three years time in prison.

Car Repairs

I took my car (the Civic Hybrid) to the dealer for "B1" maintenance. This involved mostly an oil change. The tires were getting worn, too, so I had those replaced. Honda replaced some control arm part that was causing excessive wear on the tire. When I got the car back, my gas mileage was about 20% lower than it had been the day before the maintenance, and everything about the car's handling (acceleration, steering, braking) felt "squishy." Also, the charge indicator for the special hybrid battery shows that the battery is charging and discharging a lot.

I called the dealer's service department. Barry answered. When I explained the problem, he told me that he didn't personally know anything about hybrids, so....

I took the car in again, and of course, they have found nothing wrong with it. Perhaps another dealer will be my choice for maintenance in the future.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Wiiturn

A Wii came back from the repair center. It's not the same one, and all of our stored information is missing, but we're up and running. Fortunately, we'd backed up most of our saved game information on an SD card, so that's still there, and the Nintendo Network updated our records so that we could download any of the downloads for free.

All in all, I suppose we're OK. Son did reasonably well in school, which just ended, so we bought him Wii fit. His goal is to get his BMI into the normal weight range by the end of summer, which is very achievable.

On top of that, I'm having a lifestyle crisis regarding this "stuff." Not sure if I'm going to start to simplify. This morning, I saw an open plastic tote that had my old TI-99/4A in it. I'm not sure that it even works.

Neologism Vote

Which word do you like better? They're synonyms.

Hemigluteal?

Monocheekular?

Both of them are attempts to get past the censors.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Radio report

I heard on NPR's Morning Edition yesterday this report about a public charter school in Colorado that aims to teach traditional conservative values in their academic curriculum. The reporter describes part of the curriculum that teaches students "how to support their conclusions with facts."

I hope this is just laziness in reporting on the school rather than a school that is really teaching confirmation bias.

Cause Célèbre

I don't much post to ask readers to do anything except move their eyes side to side, but this strikes close to home.

TiVo has partnered with the anti-LQTBG(etc.) group, Focus on the Family, to promote a Fathers Day giveaway of TiVo products and services. I encourage readers to do any of the following as your hearts guide you. Doing so will gain you neither fame nor fortune, nor will declining to participate harm you in any way.

  • Go to the Focus on the Family web site and enter a story about a GQTB(etc.) father, or
  • If you are LQTBG(etc.), go to their site and enter a story about your father's support, or
  • Go to TiVo's site to express your concerns about this matter, or
  • Go to this petition drive to sign your name.
This is my letter to TiVo.

I've been a TiVo subscriber for a long time. I'm very disappointed that TiVo has decided to partner with the bigoted hate group, Focus on the Family, to promote a Fathers Day giveaway. There are many organizations that celebrate families and fathers in ways that do not exclude others or display animosity toward LGBTQ people and families, such as my partner and me with our son.

I've never before had any reason to question your corporate values. Please reconsider your position with respect to this organization as I consider my continued subscription to TiVo's service.

Sincerely,
GDad Lastname
Member #XXX-YYYY-ZZZZ-AAAA


Thanks for listening.

Psychological Trickery

The big thing right now (or at least the big thing that I'm noticing) is the increasing use of prepaid gas cards as prizes or rewards. I do know that gas prices are going up, and that people are feeling the pain.

Why would a gas card be an especially attractive prize? A $50 gas card will buy exactly as much gas as $50 in cash, only you may have to drive a bit farther to get to the particular station that takes that card. For instance, on my commute, I could stop easily at a Super America station or a BP station, but if I got a Shell card, I'd need to go a bit out of my way to use it.

I suppose that you could double-dip in rewards programs this way, though. If you purchase the gift card at a grocery store that has a rewards program (assuming the store sells gas gift cards) and then spend the card at a gas station that has a rewards program, you could end up a little bit ahead, but you'd have to be on both sides of that transaction to get the bang for your buck.

Another way to win is if the card were good for a particular number of gallons instead of dollars. That way, if prices go up, you win.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Apparently NOT the NY Times

I saw this on the NY Times web site. It looks the same in IE and Firefox.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Light Posting

Light posting this weekend. Sorry for the content-free posts. Back to normal soon.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hot

It's been in the 90s here the past couple of days. Bleh.

Friday, June 6, 2008

How to Keep the Crowd

Yesterday, I had to give a presentation. I was supposed to be 20 minutes of a two hour presentation. As it turned out, by the time I was queued up, it was already ten minutes past the end of the scheduled time (3:00pm), so the facilitator asked me to speed it up. Plus, the crowd was dragging.

My grandboss had started off his spiel by apologizing for having a cold. My boss started off his presentation by apologizing for something else. I decided to follow suit.

"I'm sorry. I haven't had breakfast or lunch, so if I pass out, I just want to alert you all that I don't have any cash."

Foto Phriday

This is what appears to be the world's largest cigarette lying on the ground. I put my shoe (size 14) next to it to show the scale. If you look carefully, you can see the smiley face inside my shoe.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Formative Moment #13a

In high school, I did a lot of activities. I was in a couple of plays; I played in the Pep Band at basketball games; I was on the track team. There were some other things. I basically kept busy with one thing or another.

At the end of 11th grade, my friend Matt and I decided to run for class president and vice president for the next year. Matt was an interesting fellow. He was a tiny bit taller than me, and he was kind of a proto-goth/punk/stoner kind of guy. He was on the chess team, and I've seen him turn chess into a contact sport. (SLAM! "Checkmate!") His ancestry was Eastern European, but when his family came over on the boat, the family changed its name from something like Ogorek to O'Garrick. Our friends all decided for a while to try the same thing. The funniest was when Dave made his name "David O'Huang-ski."

I haven't seen Matt since graduation, but I did find his e-mail address on the Goog a while back, and it turns out he has a doctorate in electrical engineering or something. He and I got along famously.

Anyway, neither of us were jocks, and since this was an all-boys Catholic school with a strong sports program, we were already behind in the polls because of that. We decided to take a different approach to the election. All of our posters were as subversive as we could make them and not have the teachers or administration take them down. We put up posters that promised to lobby for free stuff, but that we weren't confident that we would succeed. We promised to be realistic about student government expectations. In essence, I think we ran Mike Gravel's campaign.

Our school librarian was an old woman who scared the students. I'm sure she had her reasons, but she had the reputation for yelling at freshmen just because they were freshmen. Heaven help you if you talked out loud in the library. Her name was Mrs. Webster, and the joke was that she was so old that she had written the dictionary. Now that I think about it, it would have been funny if her first name was Miriam, but I don't think it was. Behind her back, the students referred to her as "Ma" Webster.

Matt and I took some of our posters to the library for her to photocopy. We were a little afraid to approach her about it, because we didn't know if she would refuse to copy them for us. At the time, photocopies were ten cents, so we decided we wanted fifty copies. $5.00 fit in our campaign budget without having to have a fundraiser. Mrs. Webster took the poster and read it. She made the copies and brought them back out. "That will be $5.00," she said.

Matt gave her a $10 bill. She took it over to the small cash box she kept for late fees and such and pulled out change. She very carefully counted out one $5 bill and five ones. Matt stood there for a moment, then he asked her, "Is that right?"

She stood up straight, all five-foot-nothing of her, stared up at 6'3"+ Matt, and said in a firm monotone, "Yes."

She passed away about ten years ago. Rest in peace, Mrs. Webster.

We posted the flyers around the school. The administration did a bunch of eye-rolling, but they otherwise left us alone. After a couple of days, it was election day.

The frontrunners in the race were the captain of the football team, Joe McHenry, and another football star, Steve Mattson. On the day of the election, Joe and Steve were standing outside the front door of the school with flyers. Whenever an 11th-grader passed by, they'd recite, "McHenry and Mattson!" and hand the student a flyer.

Matt and I went inside, grabbed a trash can, and stood right inside the door. Every time someone with a flyer would walk by, we'd hold out the can and say, "O'Garrick and Lastname!" I don't think any of the flyers made it past us.

After the election, the teacher in charge told us that we had gotten zero votes. Matt and I both knew that this was a completely bogus result, since both of us had voted for ourselves. Neither of us felt energetic or motivated enough to challenge the result, and we were pretty certain that we would not have won, anyway, so we laughed it off and went on with our lives.

Now that I think about it, this school is in the same geographical region as Diebold's headquarters...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

88 Miles Per Hour

Magic numbers....

88 miles per hour.
18 years to vote or fight.
21 years to drink.
6.02 x 1023 molecules.
3.141592658979323...
2118 delegates.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

More "News"

I'm in that cafeteria again, and that newswoman is on the teevee. Her voice reminds me of Linda, the news anchor on Futurama.

She just yelled, "Go, band geeks!"

UPDATE: Apparently, she is on CNN.

No Statistical Measurement Error

Son's school has a zero tolerance "no-touch" policy in the halls. There are signs posted that proclaim, "NO EXCEPTIONS!" (with the exclamation point and all caps). Somehow, I doubt that there are truly no exceptions. Shaking hands would be forbidden. So would abdominal thrusts, first aid, defense of self or others, and assisting someone with a temporary or permanent disability.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Every Month is September, 1752

I went to a high school graduation party for my second cousin yesterday. The "Class of '08" napkins really drove home the point that I'm within a week or so of the twentieth anniversary of my high school graduation.

Wii Hardly Knew Ye

The other day, we wanted to play a game of Mario Kart for the Wii. When we turned it on, we got a screen that said, "System files are corrupt."

The Nintendo web site offers a pretty comprehensive customer service option, and the customer service toll-free line has at least one pleasant and competent gentleman working there. We'll see how the whole repair thing works out. Nintendo sent us a UPS label, and we sent the Wii on its way Saturday.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Out-dumbing the Competition

We were preparing for dinner the other day, and I was directing Son to help me set the table.

GDad: Son, can you get out some forks?

Son: But we're having chili.

GDad: I know that, but we need forks for the salad.

Son: I see chili on the stove.

GDad: See, I've already acknowledged that. Let's move on to the salad. Please get the forks.

Son: I have to pee! [runs out of kitchen]