Friday, December 31, 2010

Wrappin' it Up

Good-bye, 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


I was in the mall with Big Gay Al the other day, and I realized that I had a $25 rewards card for Men's Wearhouse in my wallet. If you've ever shopped at Men's Wearhouse, you'll know that everything is marked up about 100%, so it's not real likely that I'd find anything like a shirt that I could wear for $25 or so.

I did find a two-for-one sale on bow ties, though, so I bought two for the card plus five dollars. The salesman helped me tie one of them.

Today, I learned to tie them on my own. Bow ties are cool.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


My dad and stepmom got three tickets for GPop, Son, and me to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra this winter. We went recently. Let me start off by thanking my family for thinking of us and springing for floor seats in row G right in the middle of the section. I don't think I could have asked for better seats.

We started our preparations by stopping at a local drug store to buy a couple of sets of earplugs. I'm a bit sensitive to loud noises and bright lights, so the TSO was going to be a bit outside my comfort zone, what with the "lasers" and all. I recall when I was in my early elementary school days, and my parents took me to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus at a nearby venue. At one point, the noise and lights were so overwhelming that I put my coat over my head to reduce the stress. My dad was irate, and I got a bit of a swat and a chewing-out that I was so inconsiderate as to close my eyes to this spectacle that my dad had paid good money for, and godd@mn it, I was going to enjoy the godd@mn elephants and clowns if it killed me!

Breathe in. Breathe out. OK.

We arrived near the performance hall for the matinee show with enough time to eat a late lunch. That was fun. Son got to eat bison.

Once we were in the theater, we all put in our earplugs. Before the show started, one of the band's guitar players (not sure which one; they all looked like Steven Tyler) presented a check for $22k to a local organization that works with kids who have severe behavioral issues. Go, TSO! The stage cleared, and soon the show started with some kind of medley. Since I'm not really into heavy metal or whatever, I really didn't have a good sense of what the medley was, but I did catch some elements of a few Christmasey songs in it.

The audience cracked me up. There was a family in front of us where the dad and son both wore camouflage Marines baseball caps. The dad was rocking out, and the son looked slightly embarrassed. The mother had enormous hair. There was a guy at the end of our row who was a dead ringer for Arnold Schwartzenegger in The Terminator. There were a few older couples who probably rocked out back when heavy metal was still in formation in the Population III stars. Many of the people in the room were excessively perfumed, though.

The Christmas part of the show was a series of songs loosely tied together by a narrative. The story was about an angel sent by God to the Earth to gather intelligence and report back on what was going on. The narrative was a series of "rhyming" couplets. Enough of them rhymed properly for me to get caught up in trying to predict the second rhyme.

Narrator: ...and the angel did take note / That the thing that was found in the darkness was...

GDad: [sotto voce] ...a goat! Come on, a goat!

Narrator: Hope!

GDad: [not so sotto voce] D@mn!

There was one song where images of nutcrackers were marching on the screens, ad infinitum, toward the audience. GPop and I were a bit aghast at the swinging arms, because they looked especially phallic. Son was laughing silently in his chair.

In another song, which was played right after the narrator said something rhymey about Darfour and maybe Somalia, there were images of a bald eagle, the space shuttle, a rocket, a bomb, a wolf, a tank, the space shuttle from a different angle, another bald eagle, Old Glory, another tank, another rocket, and Old Glory again.

After an hour and a half, I noticed GPop looking at his watch, and Son kept indicating with his eyes that he was interested in heading toward the exit. At an hour and forty-five minutes, the story about the angel drew to a close. One of the Stevens came out on stage and thanked us for supporting TSO. Then he introduced the soloists, who were young, attractive women and otherwise men.

Then he said, "And now, the second half." I looked at GPop. He sank down into his chair as though someone had deflated him by about 10 P.S.I. Son turned to me with a slightly panicked look in his eyes.

GPop said, "One more number. Maybe it will get better."

The next number started with flames shooting up from some equipment. The flames moved in a wave from left to right, then right to left. Repeat about 10 times, like a tennis match. Then I heard the familiar strains of "Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum, bum bum bum, bum bum bum" from In the Hall of the Mountain King. I shouted, "WOO! Edvard Grieg!" GPop gave me The Look.

The Stevens were at the front of the stage, exhorting people to stand and get down with the music. Evidently, the Capital City matinee crowd was not as head-bangin' as the Stevens would have liked. As the young, attractive women began doing some kind of cheerleading poses, we took our opportunity to exit.

On the way home, Son told us that the music was uncomfortably loud, and the musicians were not going to be his preferred role models. All in all, though, I was impressed by the technical proficiency of the musicians, especially the first chair violin, and of the spectacle of the show. If hair bands are your thing, TSO would be a great show.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Going to Show

We're going to see a Christmas show this afternoon at the huge arena. It should be fun.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Got the Boy

Son spent some time at my dad's. He now has the experience of "Get me a screwdriver. No, not that one! I need a Phillips!"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happiest Holidays

Back home, and all is well.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Let It Float

It is 26 degrees Fahrenheit, and there are two hot air balloons in the distance.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Son is in the drumline. He got promoted to bass guitar.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Oh, crabapples! I forgot to wish you all a happy winter solstice. Or summer solstice for Mel Keegan.


Yesterday, on the way home from work, something splatted on my windshield. It did not have the color of a blob of slush or snow, nor did it have the consistency or size of bird droppings from the flock overhead. Instead, it had the red smear of a bug.

There has been a couple of inches of snow on the ground for about a week and a half, and the weather has hit the single digits for several days running in the same period. I am confused.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

DADT No More

The Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal passed the Senate on Saturday. I recall the feeling of betrayal when the law was enacted 17 years ago. Let's hope the process goes quickly and smoothly.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Funny

Because of years of economic growth, Hill City had grown larger than just the one side of the big hill. It now covered hill and dale for a couple of miles. This was all well and good, but traffic became a bit of an issue. The wise city planners decided to use three dimensions, and they made some tunnels through the eponymous hills of the city.

These new tunnels were great, because they cut commute time in half for people who had to travel across town. Again, the city managers found themselves basking in the goodwill of the populace.

With continued growth, though, the commute times for the people started to go up from increased traffic. People responded by driving in groups. This solution saved gas and time. This town was rocking!

But, in the tunnels, danger awaited. People who were driving several to a car started getting headaches and nausea, where the people who were driving singly in the tunnels were not experiencing these symptoms. The city's doctors studied the issue and discovered that people who were riding together were using just that much more of the oxygen in the cars, and the ventilation in the tunnels was such that the exhaust fumes were causing these issues. They called it Car Pool Tunnel Syndrome.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Past the End

Rusty called yesterday to tell us that Pops had passed quietly late Friday evening. It actually was on his wedding anniversary. Recquiescat in pace.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Foto Phriday - Oddly Specific Edition

This is a sign I saw the other day. I wonder when this became a problem.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quote of the Week

I don’t want to start my day angry and befuddled!
--Project Manager on my current projects, after reading the first e-mail of the day

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Near the End

We just got back from Rusty and Kath's house next door. As you may recall, Kath's father lives with them. Earlier this evening, Rusty called to tell us that Pops had been in a hospice this week, and that he had come home, but that today may be his last day with us. Rusty asked if we wanted to come over to see Pops for a last time.

When GPop came home, we made our way over through the snow to their house. Rusty told us that Kath had been looking at some documents and had found that tomorrow would be Pops' wedding anniversary. Kath's mom had died some years back. I spent some time playing with the grandson. He's three.

After Pops finished his mashed potatoes, GPop and I went in to say, "Hello." Really, we were also saying, "Good-bye." Pops was pretty lucid, compared to the past six months or so. I told him that we were glad he was home, and that we were happy to see him. He waved and held out his hand to shake ours.

He made some noises that sounded like, "How are you?" We answered, and said a few more words. There wasn't much more to say. We told him to stay warm, and went back into the living room. Rusty put the oxygen tube back on Pops, then came in to join us.

We sat and talked to Rusty and Kath for a bit, and then we came home. Good-bye, Pops.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

After School Special

Son let me know that he wants to join the Small Town High School Drum Line. It sounds kind of neat. He observed them after school yesterday, and he will try out on Thursday. Let's wish him luck.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Voted For...

Scene: GDad is cooking dinner. Son is in the other room.


GDad: Hello? [pause] Hello?

Phone: This is the College Republican Presidential Survey. Please follow all prompts to make sure your vote is counted.

GDad: [chuckles]

Phone: Looking forward to the Presidential election in 2012, which candidate would you like to see on the ballot? For Mitt Romney, press 1. For Mike Huckabee, press 2. For Newt Gingrich, press 3. For Sarah Palin, press 4.

GDad: [presses HARD] 4.

Phone: Thank you. If you would not like to receive calls in the future, please call 1-800-...

GDad: [click] Ha!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Schmoctors, Part 2

Dad called. He's fine, and I should stop worrying, and how do these rumors get started, anyway?


My dad is one of those old-fashioned kind of guys. "I saw a doctor in 1977, and that's all I need!"

Evidently, he's going to some doctor for some heart issues (rapid pulse, light-headedness, etc.) this afternoon. Film at 11.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hear the Bells Ringing

Son's school holiday concert was very nice. The kids progressed well. I'll post some video soon.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Lights

We put up our tree and lights today. We went a little light on the lights, but it looks really nice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Foto Phriday - Expressions

Please solve this math problem I found on the whiteboard in a conference room*...

*For those of you who started, I'm tricking you. There's nothing to solve, since this isn't an equation or inequality.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No More Potter

Along with many of the other reasons I won't support the Salvation Army, I heard about this. According to this news article, the SA will accept toy donations, but will throw away toys which don't align with its Christian principles. The SA isn't telling people up front that it doesn't want those toys, nor is it sending them to another agency. It just accepts them and throws them away.

Of course, I'm sure that not every SA location does this, so your mileage may vary.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Presentation

I spoke for more than an hour and a half on various topics. Keep in mind that I no longer report into the department that requested this favor. I hope they got what they needed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Week

On Saturday, I just happened to log in to my work e-mail. I found that I've been invited to help with a presentation this week to a panel that will help determine some strategic direction for something or other. My role is to demonstrate some of our technological capabilities for a couple of roles in the business processes for... Oh. I see your eyes glazing over.

In any case, the idea I had was that I would show up for an hour long meeting on Monday so I could find out which features I was to demonstrate. When I arrived, I found that the expectation was that I would work 12 or 16 hour days all week to put together a presentation that will last probably 2 hours on Thursday.

This would have been a great week to have been out of town.

Monday, December 6, 2010


Son had an assignment to write a short story. The minimum length was five paragraphs of three sentences each. His first pass was a story that started off, "My name is Alek. I will tell you the story of how I died." It was going to be a tale of a ten-year-old boy in some fantasy realm whose village was raided by the bandits, etc., until he became a knight who sought revenge on the leader of the criminals.

Five paragraphs, mind you.

He asked for my help. After going down several paths of how such a story would play out in a page or two, I led him to the realization that perhaps he wanted to write a novella in his spare time.

Instead, I offered him the idea of the time he found a singing mouse under his bed. At first, he was wildly disappointed in not being able to write his LotR tale, but then he kind of warmed up to the idea, and he ended up with a cute little story. And, since the assignment is due tomorrow, the important thing is that he got it done.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Perfect Gift

It's Christmas season again. I was singing Christmas carols and winter songs to myself in the car on the way to work the other day, and this line in "Let it Snow" made me tear up a bit: "And if you really hold me tight, all the way home, I'll be warm!"

Then I sang the mother of all sad Christmas songs, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The killer line is "Through the years, we all will be together / If the fates allow."

It ALWAYS makes me sad.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Do NOT Mess With Grandma

This is a picture of the solution Grandma came up with to keep her front door fully closed to prevent drafts. The weather stripping was holding the door slightly open. Plus, this acts as a second lock.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Foto Phriday - Cars

This is a Corvette I saw recently. No Photoshopping necessary or done.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Small Town / Big City

Small Town now has enough people living in it to qualify to be a city. We got a new city charter in the mail a few months back, and we voted on the changes in the election. Can't stand in the way of progress.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 or 12

December 1 - the day of first snowfall in Small Town. This is a picture of snow on the top of the gas pump where I filled my car this morning.