Thursday, December 27, 2007

A day out

So, how does Daughter Number 2 check if something is animal droppings?

Why, she stomps on it, of course.

Spent a wonderful couple of hours out at Shelby Forest yesterday. The kids got to play with their skateboards (Santa presents) and with some friends. We went on a short walk and then took off to get lunch.

All in all, it was a good Christmas. Had family with us, the kids were able to spend some time with their cousins and it was nice to be home for a change. Though, tomorrow we head out for a week off to travel to our extended families' abodes.

I'm looking forward to the trip. I want to see my parents and in-laws, but, mainly, I don't want to be here at work.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fiddy bucks

So, this is where 50 of my bucks went last night. It's a mid-'60s era Teisco Del Rey EP-7 hollow body thinline. A cheap Japanese guitar aimed at the beginning guitarist who couldn't afford a Fender, Gibson or Gretsch.

So, that headstock is pretty cool and I love the big retro logo (a metal plate, not a sticker!). But it is missing the key off one of the tuners.

But I'm not too concerned about that. I can get these plank tuners for under $10 at Stew-Mac.

No three way switch here, two super cool on/off switches.

Also cool, the backplate with the model number and serial number.

The problem ... ?

The doggone strings sit a quarter-inch off the fretboard at the 12th fret. It has a wooden, archtop-style bridge but the neck isn't angled like it should be.

My question, do you think it's worth it to try and make it more playable? The tuning keys would be an easy fix, but I'm not sure what to do about the string height. I might be able to put a shim in the neck joint (it's a bolt on) and that might work. So, would you do it? Or should it become a piece of wall art?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The definition of youthful enthusiasm

Run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck, run around the truck.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

So ...

How you doin'?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Help a brother out

My blog-bud and former neighbor, Wunderkraut, needs some help. He's been going through the process of adopting a baby girl from China for the past couple of years. The time's finally come for the process to come to an end and he needs our help to raise the money for plane travel.

Please visit him here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Everybody's got nice spam but me

In my current position, I deal with a lot of retirees. I get a lot of phone calls, letters and e-mail from them. Normally, it has to do with a change of address or the passing of a military retiree. Sometimes the notes are pretty straightforward. Quite often they take a pretty circuitous route to get to their point.

When your work e-mail is on a site with the second highest traffic rating in the U.S. Navy, you expect to get some spam. But the problem is that because of all the retiree e-mail I get, there are some of these spam messages I can’t delete outright because they sometimes read like some of the retiree e-mail.

For example, I had the following in my inbox this morning:

Subject: My Dear Beloved One In Chirst

You might think this would be a dead giveaway, but I can’t tell you how many LEGITIMATE e-mails I get with subject lines like this. Maybe the misspelled “Chirst” should have been a tip, but people make mistakes, you know.

My Dear Beloved One In Chirst,

Please read this slowly and carefully, as it may be one of the most importantemails you ever get. I am Mrs. Mary Jack from Greece. I was married to Late Mike Jack. The Director of Veekrol Link Nig.Ltd, a seasoned

contractor in West African Region. He died on Monday,31 July, 2003 in Paris.

OK, I admit, I should have caught the “as it may be one of the most importantemails,” but, honestly, I skim e-mail and only read it in detail if I need to. So, I made it through this and got to:

We were married for seven years without a child. After his death I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home. When my late husband was alive, he deposited the sum of $5.2 Million USD in a

And I hit delete.

Come on spammers. I have to deal with enough e-mail that’s written like this just to tell me they want to change their address. Why can’t you make it a little bit more obvious that you’re spam.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A view askew

Sunday night I broke my glasses. Not in an easily fixalbe way. Not in a way that I can just tape them up for the time being. Complete frame failure.

I couldn't find my old pair right away, so I did my best with some tape and tried to keep the lens from popping out every 30 seconds. Monday morning I went to the optometrist and ordered a new pair. Five working days is what I was told. What the heck am I supposed to do for five days?

The doctor asked me about contacts. I've been wearing glasses since I was in sixth grade, but have never tried contacts. I have an aversion to poking myself in the eye. But not knowing if I'd find my old pair, I decided to give it a shot. The doctor comped me a two-week pair to see how I like them. I'm undecided.

It's weird. Maybe there's an adjustment period, like with a pair of new glasses, but with the contacts things seem a little askew. Not really off, but slightly different. It's been messing with my head a bit.

I did find the old pair and the prescription in them is so old that the distance vision, anything past 20 feet or so is kind of blurry. So, they also mess with my head. I'm only supposed to wear the contacts for 6 or 7 hours at a time to help my eyes adjust. Then the glasses. I'm on day three and my head is killing me. There doesn't seem to be enough Motrin.

Anyone been through this? Anyone care to let me know if your eyes start adjusting to the contacts better?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Why grad school?

Wunderkraut, in the comments in the post below, asks: Why would you want to go to grad school?

Bottom line up front: Money.

Between my GI Bill and student aid, I will earn more a month than just about any part time job I can get right now. So that's the short of it.

The long of it, well ... it will be beneficial. Career-wise it's not something I need too much. If we decide to move from here at some point, it would help, but we're really thinking of settling here. My current position would be the biggest boon to any promotion opportunities here.

So, other than short-term money why am I doing it? When I finish my degree I'm going to seek part time employment teaching communications at one of the many colleges in the area.

Well, that's the plan.

Friday, November 30, 2007


I found out this morning that I've been accepted into grad school.

Pretty much made my day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Me too, kitteh, me too

Yep. I have a horrible habit of jumping in, committing to something full fledged and then, a bit of the way through the process, I begin thinking, "Hmm, wonder if this was the best course of action."

Sometimes not so much. Sometimes it's wonderful.

Guess that's part of what makes life so much fun.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cum on Feel the Noize

Kevin DuBrow, lead singer of the popular 1980s heavy metal band Quiet Riot, has been found dead from unknown causes at his home in Las Vegas, authorities said on Monday.
Man. I don't know what to say about that.

THE band that introduced me into rock and roll.

Just because I wanted something new here

Turkey Day went over well here. I fried a turkey and smoked two pork roasts. We met up with three other families and a couple of stragglers at the wife's church and had a kind of pot luck lunch. Lots of good food.

It was my first time frying a turkey (though not my first time having fried turkey). It was a learning experience. The expense of the process is what has kept me from doing it before. My neighbor here has three fryers and lent me one.

But it was my pork roasts that really went over. I was quite happy with who they turned out.

I'm still off work -- don't have to go back until tomorrow. I hope you are all having a good day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I've traveled every road in this here land

You Know Your States

You got 10/10 correct.

You've got a pretty good handle on US geography.
There's a good chance you've visited at least a dozen of the fifty states.

Taken from ALa.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Don't stop believin'

Generally I avoid presidential political debates. I just don't think you see much of a candidate's character or position on issues. Rather, I think we mostly see a controlled: "He called me this!" "Well, she said this!" argument.

I was thinking this morning. What if political debates didn't involve real topics at all, but opponents spoke in lyrics from cheesy rocks songs? Now that would be a spectacle! Just picture the recent Democrat debate:

Wolf Blitzer: Well, we're here in Nevada for another Democrat debate. I open the floor to opening remarks from the candidates.

John Edwards: I think you can see, more so than any of my fellow candidates, that my voting record shows that I believe that you don't have to live like a refugee. Yeah, it ain't no real big secret all the same. You believe what you want to believe. But I think that, generally, somewhere, somehow somebody
must have kicked you around some

Barack Obama: That's all well and good, however, I wear my sunglasses at night ... so I can ... so I can ... Keep track of the visions in my eyes. While she's deceiving me it cuts my security.

Hillary Clinton: Hey, watch your mouth there buddy. 'Cause we've got the right to choose and there ain't no way we'll lose it. This is our life, this is our song. We're Not Gonna Take It Anymore.

Dennis Kucinich: She bop--he bop--a--we bop.

Blitzer: With those fine, sage words from Rep. Kucinich, we close the opening statements.

Well, didn't that make more sense than the actual debates?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I, too, am now one of 'them'

Military personnel and DoD civilian employees carry a CAC card for identification (CAC card is kind of like ATM machine in that CAC means Common Access Card). The CAC replaced the old ID card some time ago. There is a microchip embedded on the card and in the Navy and Marine Corps (though I believe the Army and Air Force are going this way if they haven't already) you use your CAC to log into your computer. There is a slot on the keyboard you stick your card into that brings up the log-in prompt.

This is a security measure and works pretty well. As long as you don't forget your card.

You see, since your CAC is also your ID, you have to have it to access the base. But if you are one of the many who forget it and leave it in your computer, then you have some 'spailing to do to the gate guard in the morning.

I've been a government civilian with a CAC for nearly three years now and today I became one of the many who logged out, but forgot to pull out.

Thank God for understanding gate guards.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Mailed in Taiwan?

China is refusing some of Taiwan's mail.

Back at work today.

Very busy.

Hope you're all doing well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Putting a day off to good use

Long weekends often go to waste around the Cullen household. That is, we might get some cleaning done or something like that, but we don't get out and do fun stuff as often as we should. I'm more to blame than anyone else.

I didn't want that to be the case this weekend, so I planned for us to head out to Meeman-Shelby Forest, which is maybe 10 minutes from the house. After getting lunches and snacks packed, we headed out for some hiking fun. There's no online maps of their trails so I didn't know what was in store, but the Web site says they have plenty of hiking.

Once there we saw that we could choose from four hiking trails varying in distances from one to 12 miles. We took the one-mile route that also has a three and four-mile variant. It was out intent to take the four-mile trek.

At the halfway point there was a shelter where we stopped for lunch. Once we went to get back to hiking, we got off on a wrong trail, but still logged in 2.5-3 miles. Where we wound up there was a playground, so the wife and kids stopped to play while I walked on to get our truck. I probably logged about 5 miles total with my road walking.

It was a gorgeous and very fun day. Next time we won't be forgetting our bug spray and will make sure to stay on the right trail.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Long weekend, woo hoo!

I gots me a four-day.

Hug a veteran this weekend. Or more, if, you know, it's cool and all.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Like, teaching people, not like Henry VIII

This past weekend was my last at Dominos. I just wasn't making enough scratch versus what I was spending on gas. That's the main reason. That and I just didn't like it very much.

But me not moonlighting doesn't mean I don't still need the extra income. So I'm looking around for things that I can do in my off time and I've run across an interesting company. It's a tutoring service. Basically, folks sign up and tutor kids (Pre-K to adult) and are treated as independent contractors.

Does anyone have any experience with this? Do you have or know anyone whose kids are being tutored? Do you or do you know anyone who is doing anything like this?

I'd like to get some opinions before I commit.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dying dead trees

I'm a print guy. I've been one my entire professional life and a little bit before that. That's why stuff like this make me sad. Although I understand that dead-tree journalism will eventually die, that realization doesn't soften the blow.

Newspapers, right or wrong, are a far more elegant form of communication than Radio, Television or the Internet. There's something about having the tactile feel of newsprint and the smell of fresh printer's ink before you. But that's nostalgia. That can be overcome. What I find lamentable is that by looking at readership numbers, you are quite often overlooking the forest for the trees.

My shop puts out to magazines, both of which I edit. A couple of years ago one of those publications went completely digital and a poll was conducted for the other to see if that was also a viable option.

Anecdotally, the first magazine's stint in cyberspace was a failure. It had been a useful tool for readers and suddenly it disappeared. No one was looking for it online, they just expected it to show up in their shops once every quarter.

The poll from the second magazine revealed overwhelmingly that readers preferred to get hard-copy editions. Even those that used the internet frequently said that hard copy was the best way to get that information to them.

What this says to me is that there are still audiences for print products. I understand that time will change these attitudes. In the case of the second magazine, those polled were retirees. Time will definitely have an effect on that audience. Recognizing that print is a dying beast isn't a difficult task. It's like a kicking that dying beast when it's incapacitated. What the print industries need to recognize better is the finite lifespan of their products and how to make them more vital to the public that still desires them.

I'm not seeing this trend in newspapers (though you do in magazines). Newspapers trudge forward with centuries worth of tradition stuffed up their collective fourth points of contact. They need to re-imagine themselves. Newspapers are no longer the home of hard news. Stronger news features and feature stories are needed. More interaction with the community and less AP news is needed. Proactive stances on community events are needed, rather than reactive coverage of things people are doing. That is, newspapers are traditionally things that tell us what people did. They need to focus a lot more on what people could be doing.

Sorry for the rant, but people are quick to put nails in coffins when the body's not dead yet (I feel happy!).

Monday, November 05, 2007

The toofairy heart melt

Daughter number two lost both of her front teeth yesterday. I woke up to a little smiling girl, with a conspicuous one-tooth gap. "Daddy," she said. "Look at this!" she beamed.

Later that day, while I was preparing to cook dinner, she ran into the kitchen and said, "Daddy, look!" Her gap had widened.

Early this morning, after I woke up and showered, I nudged my wife to ask if she had played tooth fairy last night. "Oh, I forgot."

"How much were you going to give her?" I asked.

"Three dollars," she said.

So, I got the money and snuck into her room (as stealthily as a large land mammal can in a room full of creaks). Her and her sister share a full-size bed, the top level of a giant bunk bed. First I had to stand up on a chair to see which side she had her head on. Then I made my way over and gently felt under her pillow for the Zip-lock bag. Bag in hand, I prepared to put the money under her pillow when I noticed she was waking up. She sat up, and before she could get her wits about her, I put the money under her pillow and slouched down where she couldn't see me.

I could hear her checking under her pillow. I heard her rustle the bills as she counted.

"(Daughter Number One)! (Daughter Number One)!" she woke her sister.

"Yes? What is it, (Daughter Number Two)?"

"I got three dollars!"


"You should have one. You deserve one."

"No you should keep your money, (Daughter Number Two)."

"No, you deserve one because of your broken tooth the other day."

"Thank you, but you should keep it."

And that is why my kids rock.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Talk about kicking your own ass ...

I went on my first run in over a year yesterday. A very slow, very easy two miles that has left my body in shards today.

With my back doing better, I decided it was time (again) to start losing weight to 1) reduce the amount of stress on my back and prevent lower back injuries/pain from happening again, and 2) get in better shape.

I have a long-term goal too, one that I won't go into here right now but that I hope will keep me to my plan.

Ass Pie

My Aspie score: 54 of 200
My neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 153 of 200
I am very likely neurotypical

I don't have Aspbergers. So, I got that going for me.

The Aspie Quiz from Nightfly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Because I'm All About the Guitar V2 #4.5: Replay: There Be Some Spooky Guitarists

It's Halloween, so I'll go ahead and put this other post up that I did for Faster Than The World.

You know, rock and roll guitarists are, for the most part, pasty, skinny dudes with little muscle tone who got beat up a lot in high school. Maybe it’s the dedication to their instrument (yeah, right) or all the drugs (ding­-ding-ding), but whatever the case, there are a lot of scrawny six stringers out here.

And then there are the exceptions to that rule. Fat, built or just plain not-scrawny, there are many guitarists that don’t fit the stereotype that Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes set. And then there are those, who for some reason or another (or several) have gone beyond the pale in contrast to the typical guitarist image. So, in this Halloween themed edition of BIAAtG, I present the following list of scary guitarists.

1. Zakk Wylde

This is what Zakk used to look like in his early days with Ozzy.

This is what he looks like now:

He went from someone who looks like they might have been the prison bitch to looking like the prison butch. It’s not hard for me to believe that Zakk regularly gets wasted and kicks people in the head. Maybe he doesn’t, but it’s a fun thing to think about. Especially if the kick-ees are members of Def Leppard and especially if it’s that one-armed drummer dude because that would be damn funny.

2.Scott Ian

Scott Ian is not scary himself, but it has been said that his goatee has developed a consciousness and that when Scott sleeps the goatee roams the Earth seeking the blood of the innocent.

Did you ever see that episode of the Tick where the Tick gets a mustache and it begins dragging him around and doing stuff in his sleep and it turns out that the mustache has sentience and it winds up hooking up with a dude who has a sentient beard? Well, Scott’s goatee is like that. Except it’s like if the goatee from that episode was a Dr. Frankenstein goatee and created a monster goatee on Scott’s face. That’s what this is like.


Admit it. You find that blank, plastic face and KFC bucket combination disturbing. And that’s not an easy thing to do. I mean, just look at Slipknot. There’s a bunch of guys that proved to us that just by putting on scary masks and playing hardcore metal doesn’t make you any less of a dork. Idiots. But I digress.

A KFC bucket and a damn plastic mask. I mean, it just feels like this is a guy who’d be backing up Michael Myers in Halloween: A Very Guitar Massacre or some shit. Add to that that the guy’s a really good guitarist and you have a freaking creepy combination.

4.C.C. DeVille

Come on. Do I really have to say anything here? I didn’t think so.

5.Keith Richards

Definitive proof that the walking dead exist. Although the dude is scary as fuck, and looks like he smells really bad, you gotta hand it to a guy that risks total evisceration by sunlight to put on a show for his fans.

Honorable Mentions:
Kerry King of Slayer, for the exact same reason as Scott Ian, except that Ian’s goatee kicked the shit out King’s beard and therefore won the spot on the list. Chris Holmes from WASP, cause anyone who could survive both drinking that much and that scene in Decline of Western Civilization Part II deserves to be feared. Dave Mustaine because anyone who can be that much of a prick and still put out music that damn good is pretty spooky. Joe Perry of Aerosmith, there is some doubt as to his walking dead status but you should probably stake his heart just to be safe.

Because I'm All About the Guitar V2 #4 - Replay: A Gallery of Ghoulish Guitars

Alright, varying from the new format a little, here's something I wrote last Halloween for Faster Than The World:

Guitarists tend to be a pretty conservative bunch.

Before you jump to any conclusions, listen to me. Look at the popular guitars through history. There hasn't been a whole lot of change in their shapes over time, has there? We get some different paint here and there, but guitarists tend to like the tried and true.

Keeping with the theme of the upcoming ghoulish holiday, I'm going to celebrate some of the more unique guitar styles that have been produced. Rock music has always had an affinity for the macabre, gothic, and downright evil, so I present 10 Ghoulish Guitars:

1. The B.C. Rich Warlock

This Warlock will not grant you any musical powers.

Come on. You knew this one had to be number one. How many "evil" bands have you seen play these? King Diamond, Merciful Fate, Slayer, GWAR … the list continues. It wasn't the first evil-looking guitar, but it has definitely become the gold standard of them.

2. The J. Frog Skull and Bones guitar

We’re the Dream Warriors. Ain't gonna dream no more.

The first time you saw this guitar was in the video for Dokken’s "Dream Warriors" from the Nightmare on Elm Street 3 soundtrack. Most people think that this guitar was made by ESP, and they did in fact produce a look-alike model. But the real Skull and Bones guitar is made by JFrog and is sold through Ed Roman Guitars (too lazy to hotlink … Google it beeyotches). Anyway, George Lynch was under an endorsement contract with ESP and when they shot the "Dream Warriors" video, he had to swap out the neck on the guitar. Hence the confusion.

One damn cool guitar though.

3. Jackson Roswell Rhodes guitar

Possibly I've seen too much, Hangar 18, I know too much.

The Roswell Rhodes is a twist on Jackson’s popular Randy Rhodes-style V guitar. The V itself is probably one of the top 3 "evil" guitars played in rock and metal, but this takes it a step further by using "alien" imagery. The inlays on the fretboard are crop circles and the this guitar is plated with aircraft aluminum to give it an otherworldly look. The tuners are LSR gearless precision tuners making it look all that much more different.

4. Gibon SG

Satan smiling spreads his wings.

The original "evil" guitar. Bands such as Black Sabbath and AC/DC are primarily responsible for the SG’s place as the original six-string symbol of all that is rotten. When originally introduced in 1961 it was supposed to be a replacement for the original Les Paul. The SG bore the name "Les Paul" for that year, but in 1962, after Les Paul's contract with Gibson lapsed, they changed the name to SG (for solid guitar).

The double cutaway gives the guitar a bat-wing appearance. And, as we all know, those flying rodent creatures of the night are just plain evil.

5. Abstract Guitars Pagan Gothic

I don’t play … classical.

Perhaps derivative of the SG, this modern monster is a true ghoulish delight. It is made by Ed Roman guitars and is sold with the coffin case which helps the image, of course. There are also non-gothic models of this guitar offered, but I do think this one looks most wicked.

6. Schecter S-1 Devil Tribal

How evil can you be?

This guitar, as far as I can tell, is no longer offered by Schecter. But the basic body shape is still available in their S-1 model. However, you no longer get the evil-looking headstock or this super cool tribal inlay. Not in their base Diamond series models anyway.

You can see that this guitar borrows a lot from a lot of other guitars. The body size seems very Les Paul influenced, but the double cut horns have a very SG shape to them. The headstock seems influenced by B.C. Rich. But the cool thing about Schecter is that they offered all these cool things, and really good hardware, at a very good price. At least they used to.

7. The Zorax Jackson

What the hell is this guitar doing?

I'm not even sure where this guitar came from. It has to have been a custom shop order. But how neat is that? It just looks like some evil alien, fish thingy. Who would even play this? GWAR?

8. Damien Death Cross

If you wanna find hell with me …

Definitely one of the more radical ways to express your Satanic tendencies via lutherie, the Damien Death Cross is another offering from Ed Roman's Abstract Guitars. Certainly plays on themes common among the "evil." You could just picture King Diamond or Slayer throwing down on one of these.

9. Gene Simmons Axe Bass

Burn with me. Taking you higher.

How can you have a list of ghoulish guitars and not include the Axe bass? Luthier Steve Carr created the bass for Simmons and it has become iconic. Truly a symbol of outlandish rock and roll.

10. Heavy metal

Heavy metal, man. What more can you say?

So, you thought a fake guitar axe was enough, huh? This guitar was created by knife maker Steve Licata for Ed Roman. Roman claims that he can have custom guitars like this made by Licata starting at an economical $2,500. He says that if he were to price this one, it would go for around $6,000.

Sorry, I don’t need to chop someone’s head off while playing a blazing solo.

No because, no guitar

I have been overtaken by events. I have had no time to write, so there isn't a guitar post today. I know what I want to write and I know what I want to cover. I just haven't had the time to do it.

We had a little bit of drama yesterday involving my son. My wife called me about 8 a.m. and said she thought the boy might have a spider bite on his foot. I told her to do some research online and make an appointment if she thought it might be. I would get out of work and take him to the doctor, if necessary.

I wound up taking him, it wound up just being a puncture wound of some kind. But he did need some shots. He's the only kid I've seen get one of those finger prick things and be fascinated rather than frightened. He wanted to play with the blood coming out of his finger. Of course I'm a proud dad.

Anyway, hopefully I'll have something up this evening or tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Big waste of my time

So, I realize I gotta get something posted up here. I had yesterday off and spent most of the weekend painting the new door we got. We went with a deep red. Very nice color.

After many hours and many coats of paint I went to hang the door. And it just didn't quite work. It fits OK (though a tad small), but the knobs don't line up with strike plates and the hinges and the pre-cut notches for the hinges on the door are way off.

My options are to 1: Move the hinges and make new cuts to move the strike plates; or 2: Replace the entire door jamb. We're looking at going with number 2. While it's a lot more work, the jamb itself is rotting at the bottom and I don't know how much life it has left in it. Better to just replace the whole thing now.

Anyway, that's the fun I got to look forward to.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Door

Last weekend, my brother-in-law came up with his girlfriend and spent the weekend with us. His kids and ex-wife live in Kentucky and she brought down his his three kids so he could spend time with them. We're sort of the half-way point between the two of them.

So, we spent the weekend with six kids and four adults packed into the house. Though, honestly, this is the first time this has happened that it didn't feel overwhelming. We finally have a home big enough to house a bunch of people.

What does this have to do with a door? I'm getting there. Let me meander.

At some point on Sunday my brother in law yells out to me, "Cullen ... uh, the bottom of your door just fell off."

My first thought is how did he or his boys break my door. I go to the door and the door sweep has come off and there's a lot of rotten wood pieces all around. Apparently the wood framing along the bottom of my front door has dry rotted. It's pretty bad. I though about attempting to replace the wood, but then thought that it would probably be best to replace the door. My wife did some searching and came up with some prices. She also did a post on Craig's List about us looking for a door.

We got a call yesterday afternoon from a lady who refurbishes homes. She said she had about nine doors and we could take our pick -- she'd give us a real good deal. We met her at her storage unit and she did indeed have a stack of doors, all with minor scratches and dents, but most all of them still had their price stickers still in place.

After looking at the door, and much talk, we secured a new steel-core door with glass inset, full-size and twin-size mattresses for $60. It was a great evening.

Now we've got to decide what color to paint it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Because I'm All About the Guitar V. 2 #3: The Reverend Horton Heat, "Big Dwarf Rodeo"

I have written about the Reverend Horton Heat before in my earliest entries of BIAAtG. They're a great band who put out consistently great music. Jim "Reverend Horton" Heath is one of today's best guitarists. It's not what he plays -- most of that is pretty standard rock, blues and country -- it's how he plays it. There are few guitarists out there that can have as many things going on the fretboard without having to get a second guitarist.

Take a listen to this track off their first album.

The song opens busy with a flurry of guitar work.

Between seconds 14 and 20, notice how many ways he attacks the notes. Six seconds worth of playing and a world of ability.

The Reverend does a lot of instrumentals, but I purposefully didn't chose any of them because I think their strength is in their full-bore songs. Jim's voice is as important to the overall sound as his guitar playing.

He rockets off with a solo at 1:25 and lets you know why he's a well-respected guitarist. Again, it's all within the framework of sounds we're familiar with from years work of rock-and-roll standards, but his subtle spins on where he nitpicks, where he chords and where he jams makes it unique to him.

If you like this song, search for the Rev on You Tube -- it's ripe with Reverend stuff.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Keeping the spooky mood


Cthulhu Fthagn Cheezburger!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chuck is awesome

Scary looking, huh? But he looks a lot scarier here than at any time in the actual movie.Anyone watching Chuck? Great show. And last night the Asian baddie was played by James Hong. His character's name? Lo Pan.

You might remember James Hong from a movie so full of win it's busting at the seems with awesome: Big Trouble in Little China. His character's name in that movie? Lo Pan.

This show is victory.

OK, that's just cool as hell

I just loves Halloween.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A public service to you

Once again Michele's got the goods as she delivers a post about bad movies. Go there are throw in your two cents.

Inspired by her post, I had to run over to the Internet Movie Archive.

They've got tons of old PSAs. And new ones too.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What has the letter H ever done to you?

I have noticed a trend among broadcast journalists. One that annoys me. It seems that they are systematically attempting to rid us of the "H" sound in our alphabet. When did "human beings" become "youman beings?" What is so hard about pronouncing the "heh" sound before hence, half or humour?

In this post I was going to focus on one thing in particular. This morning on NPR they had a piece on the Neanderthals and how scientists have discovered they had a gene that is key in advanced speech. But the reporters kept referring to them as Neandertals. That got me going. So, I ran in here and jumped on the computer to do some research before posting.

Lo and behold ... even when spelled with the "th," the German pronunciation is with a "tal" sound.

Learn something new every day.

This still doesn't diminsh the fact that we must fight for the right of the aitch!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Because I'm All About the Guitar Volume 2, Number 2: Chet Atkins, "Winter Walkin'"

Chet Atkins is too easily overlooked in many modern guitar conversations. Or those who do talk about him are only throwing his name out there because they've heard his name somewhere or read it in a magazine. Heck, even my wife asks me why I'm listening to elevator music when I'm jamming some Chet (no, I didn't make her get out of the truck).

What people need to realize is that this guy defined guitar hero. Not for modern music. He defined it. Period. The first and the ultimate. There were plenty of jazz guitarists that pre-date him, but Chet had the good fortune to make music in an era when guitar was beginning to dominate his (and other) genres.

Beyond his obvious skill and natural talent, the list of guitarists who list Chet Atkins as their primary influence is enormous. While you may find his music "dated" or, if you're crazy, "wussy" then you really need to think long and hard about just who's the progenitor of that flash-in-the-pan artist that you're listening to.

I chose "Winter Walkin'" because one, it's my favorite Chet Atkins song, and two, it's a great example of his skill.

Click on the link below and follow along with the dissection:

The opens with a "One ... two ... three" set of notes and wastes no time getting right into the meat of the song. Which is good because it's a pretty short tune. The great thing about this is that from the opening, there is no doubt that this song is a winter tune. The key is similar to many Christmas-y songs. The light melody gives one the impression of gentle frolicking.

At 45 seconds, the theme changes. If you imagine lyrics, you can almost picture that this part of the song is where they give council about not playing outside too long. Like the intro is: We're playing and singing and having a good time. This short interlude is: But we have to get inside and get our hot chocolate because it's freaking cold out here.

Near the 1-minute mark, he slowly brings you back into the main theme and reintroduces it with a beautifully slick chord at 1:04.

We go back into the main melody but this time there's a harmony element there as well. It's such a subtle but effective touch. Gives you a great deal of anticipation for the climax. At 1:48, that point hits and it's such a natural progression, you feel it's only right to end here, even though you might restart the song as soon as it's over.

The song wraps with a very classy chord progression from the melody.

This song is available on the Guitar Country/More of That Guitar Country CD through Amazon.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A tooth-chippingly good time

One of the benefits of working in my current job is a compressed work schedule. It means that I work 80 hours in 9 days and get one day off. I chose to take every other Monday as my regular day off. It's been nice. Lets me do things with the family like take my oldest daughter to the dentist.

Saturday, I took my GRE and afterwards the wife and I went out on a date. Our kids were staying at a friend's house. We were going to go hit some shops, do some window shopping, eat out and chill together. We went to a Guitar Center as a first stop and were there all of 10 minutes when our friend called and said that our oldest child had broken a tooth.

We rushed back to find that she'd broken about a quarter off of her front, permanent tooth. Much research into finding a dentist and/or an emergency room ensued. In the end, we wound up waiting until today. She was fine, just a little less toothed.

The dentist we chose (just happened to be the first pediatric dentist on our insurance agent's list) is quite nice, quick and professional. My daughter no longer has a jagged little tooth. She now has a white filling sculpted tooth where one has to look close to see any discoloration. Great job.

Let me tell you, all that nanny-state crap about minding playground equipment and stuff was created because of kids like my daughter. Try get it through to your kids not to break a fall with their face. Not good.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Because Ken did it says I'm a Cool High Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

Nice. Cool high nerd. None of the stupid "uber" stuff either.

By the way ... did well on the GRE today. Did well enough on the Verbal and Quantitative to get into my graduate program. Now I just have to wait on the Journalism department.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Because WG did it

You Are 59% Genius!

You scored fairly well, but there is room for improvement. It doesn't seem that you are a genius, I'm afraid. Better luck next time.

The Genius Quiz

Well. I'm not a very smart man.

You paid attention during 86% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

B student. Much like high school.

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz


You are 65% Try-Lingual!!

WELL, you did get more right answers than you got wrong. You're heading in the right direction. I'll bet you could beat 67% if you gave it one more try!

Foreign Words and Phrases
Create MySpace Quizzes

Yeah, well, I don't really speak any other languages. I just guess well.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Hm, pretty accurate there.

The GRE ...

... tomorrow I has it.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Don't do anything life-threatening around me, dammit

How will I die?
Your Result: You will die while saving someone's life.

The most noble of all deaths. Your rewards will be great in the next life. You are most definitely a humanitarian. If not currently, you will be. To give one's life is a precious moment that will be remembered by friends and family for many decades.

You will die while having sex.
You will die in a nuclear holocaust.
You will be murdered.
You will die in a car accident.
You will die in your sleep.
You will die from a terminal illness.
You will die of boredom.
How will I die?
Create a Quiz

Taken from the always opinionated Ricki.

Are good grammar fewer common?

Michele lets everyone know about her apostrophe-diner woes.

The thing she says that resonates most with me is: We wonder why the children have a hard time with spelling and grammar. It's because the adults teaching them aren't much better at it.

This is too true and part of the reason we are homeschooling our kids. When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, her instructor was teaching them about the different parts of a book -- cover, title, and, I swear I'm not making this up, ARTHOR. I can kind of understand this as a verbal foible, but she spelled it this way too. I almost went to my daughter's class the next day to have a conversation with the teacher.

The more I find out about institutionalized education, the more I realize that you have to be very active in ensuring your kids actually learn something.

Pushing Daisies

Anyone else watching this show? I must admit that I fell victim to the aggressive marketing campaign for the show, but I have been enjoying it. This second episode was superior to the first. The set-up show was a bit drawn out but now it feels like they can just get on with the doing.

The one thing this show does that could have easily been a turn-off is that it uses the very popular modern conceit of constant narration. It probably wouldn't have worked if it was a character doing the narration, but since it's just an unknown, disembodied voice, it works quite well. The narration itself is part plot-moving, part explanatory and almost always kitchy. It reminds me less of Scrubs, Desperate Housewives or Dead Like Me and more of the BBC's old Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy miniseries or the movie Toys.

A quick IMDb search shows that the show's creator was also a producer on Dead Like Me, which explains the theme. I have yet to see a connection to Toys, which I find odd, because this show owes a lot to that movie, at least in feel.

If you haven't checked it out, give it a try. If so, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Because I'm All About the Guitar Volume 2, Number 1: Chords of Life

Welcome to the revamped, renewed Because I'm All About the Guitar! I have been wanting to breath new life into this series; it was the one thing I could really latch on to and write with passion every time I put thought to page. My problem was that I was running out of ideas. So, this is the new format - every week I'm going to review a song by an accomplished artist. There might be some background information about the musician, depending on who it is, and maybe something about the song. Mainly, it's going to be about why the song I've picked kicks so much ass.

The song is embedded at the end of the post.

This week's song is Chords of Life by Joe Satriani. Satch is one of the most recognized of today's virtuoso guitar players. He taught Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Larry LaLonde (Primus), George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) and many others. He is a guiatarist's guitarist.

I picked Chords of Life not only because it's one of my favorite Satriani pieces, but because it illustrates several of the things about his playing that makes him so good.

The first thing you'll notice is that the song automatically sets a mood. It doesn't leave you any room for guessing. Satch knows what he's doing with arrangement and key choice. It's a tentative feel, with a lot of promise.

Next, and most obvious throughout, around 41 seconds, the killer tone. That's probably what Satch is best known for, the amazing depth of his sound. Listen to the melody and the slight tinny sound of the lead guitar. It's almost Telecaster like, but has a resounding depth of a more solid instrument. This isn't the kind of thing that you can fake with effects.

Then the acoustics kick in around second 48 and the lead melody adds yet another subtle layer of depth to its sound. It's no longer tinny, but is obviously the tone. Now its more mellow and at the same time, around 1:03, when the bass and drums kick in, it's more urgent, pleading even. Pay careful attention to the drums in this part of the song, this marching beat seems to counter what the guitar's trying to say, but hear it out.

At 1:24, everything just gels. There's a definite groove and every instrument is in the same zone. Pay close attention to the lead guitar in this passage. Gone are any traces of the tinny or the mellow. This is an assertive, wah wah laden, masculine guitar passage. It's talking loud and clear. Letting its presence be felt. Let's not forget the tempo change either. We're steadily rocking here where before we were slowly building up to this activity.

Around 2:05 we revisit the introductory passage. Notice here that there's a lot more going on in the background than before. The subtle drum click and bass hum. Even the guitar has more authority. It's slight, but it's different. Now, that plaintive wail from the guitar seems more poignant. There's something more behind it, like someone crying for a love lost.

At 2:45 we hit my favorite part of the tune. Again, revisited melody, but this time it's spiritually uplifting instead of song building. Listen to those notes and tell me they don't quicken your pulse or stir your heart. If not, you're not really listening.

As the acoustic guitar comes in again and the lead plays a familiar part, listen closely at how subtly different the lead guitar is. The echo just a bit stronger. The edge just a little more sharp.

Near 3:58 things calm down again after a maelstrom of bluesy genius. We ride out much as we were brought in, on gentle notes, but they're not the same that brought us into the song.

This is one of the best guitar pieces released in the last 10 years. You can't dissect much music this way, nor would you want to. On the surface, this is a cool guitar song. Below that though it tells the story its name implies - the chords of life. We come in struggling and mellow, assert ourselves, make a mark, and leave mellow and struggling again. It can be a beautiful thing when thought about that way. I'm sure there are those that could write songs in this context and make a song nowhere near as pretty or as good. But this is Joe's outlook and his song. And I'm damn glad he wrote it.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More nothing

Blah, blah, blah.

That's what I feel like the majority of my posts have read like since I've moved to Tennessee. I've been thinking about what I can do to help inject some life back into this place. So, starting tomorrow, I'm going to be reintroducing my "Because I'm All About the Guitar" posts. The entries will take on a slightly different twist, which should keep me in material for some time to come.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I've got a BS from Miskatonic U

Words do not exist to explain how happy this makes me.

Who's side are you on?

My wife found this really cool "Candidate Calculator" which helps show which candidate believes as you do on certain issues. I've tried it a few times and keep coming up with Tom Tancredo, though my desired candidate, Fred Thompson, is always number two with a high-80s percentile.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A question for the ages

Chocolate milk: Powder or Syrup?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

So far ...

So far, so good. The sciatica seems to be better. I am a tad uneasy saying "gone" or "cured" because I still need to wait a few days to see if it is well and truly better. However, I've had no shooting or pooling pains. Althought the area around the injection site is a bit sore.

More updates coming.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Today I had my epidural block. Having seen my wife get edidurals for each of our three children, I was a bit apprehensive, but it was one of the easiest procedures I could have imagined.

Now, I feel better, but the doctor cautioned that pain may return and that it'll be two or three days before I know for certain if it's working. Hopefully all will be well.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Back in the saddle again

I have returned from a four-day jaunt to Naval Station Great Lakes next to Waukegan, Illinois. For those unfamiliar with the Navy, this is the site of the Navy's basic training and several of their initial training, or "A" schools. Navy Personnel Command sends a team of people to different Naval stations around the world to discuss different aspects of retention and retirement and the programs going on effecting those things. Since I am both new to this command and the Navy, my boss had me tag along to get a feel for how we communicate our programs to our Sailors and what programs we emphasize.

Good in theory.

I flew in to Chicago O'Hare and was picked up by a co-worker who had gone up a few days earlier with his wife. He's getting stationed there and went ahead to scout the area out. This was nice in that it meant no driving in Chicago for me. But in the long run wasn't a very good thing. This particular Naval officer had his own agenda and I was just an obstacle to him.

We were supposed to go to all these different briefings over the course of two days. Each briefing is geared toward a select audience, but is the same information, just presented differently. So, when it was suggested that we skip a couple here and there, I didn't mind. I didn't realize that he meant to skip most of them. That wouldn't have been so bad had I been mobile. But he had the rental car and was always off checking out schools and sports programs for his kids.

We had planned to go into Chicago proper and it never materialized because he was always off doing his own thing. I guess I could have taken a cab and the train, but I didn't. Oh well. I got a Vienna Chicago dog at the airport, and that's what I was really after anyway.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Off on another trip

Limited presence as I'm once again heading out of town for a few days. Take care.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back in Black

Well, today I finally found out the results of my MRI from Monday. Apparently I have a moderately ruptured L5 disc.

I'm not sure what "moderately" means in this context. I'm not sure if it's the middle, like "minor, moderate, major," or exists on some grander scale. I do know the effects of it on my body, however.

The treatment the doctor has suggested is an epidural block -- an injection of cortisone into that area of my spine. Which sounds a little scary, but infinitely better than surgery. I think the reason it sounds scary to me is that I saw my wife get her epidural for each of our children. Kind of freaky, to be quite honest.

But it's outpatient, shouldn't take longer than a couple of minutes and hopefully will cause the pain to go away, swelling to go down and things to get back to normal.

Whatever normal means.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A big package

Guess what I had waiting for me when I got home today?I had quite the cool package awaiting me. A buttload of tools!
Many of you who are frequent visitors here or at many of the blogs I frequent know the commenter The_Real_JeffS. Well, Jeff recently finished a home remodeling project and had a bunch of tools he was looking to get rid of.
When I mentioned here that I was short some tools for a project, he offered to send me whatever tools I wanted from a list he sent me. It's quite one things to think of all this stuff in the abstract, quite another to have them laying out before you.
Additionally, he sent me a copy of his home remodeling DVD. I haven't had the chance to watch it yet, but I'll let you all know how it is.

I tell you, I have been criticized in the past by friends and family alike that the people you meet online aren't "true friends," and they are correct in that the relationships are far more measured than those in the "real world." However, I have met some really great people out there and Jeff is right up top.

Thank you and you'll be seeing the products of their use as I get around to more projects.

Your In All

I work in a pretty large office building (relatively, for your average military installation). There are three floors and about 800 people work in the buildling. Each floor has a similar layout and offers similar conveniences: breakroom, vending machines, fitness room, and bathrooms with showers.

These bathrooms are correspondingly large. At least the men's rooms are; I can only guess that the female latrines are similarly equipped. The men's room features a shower area with six shower stations, lockers and changing area. There are 10 sinks. There are seven toilets. Seperating the sink area from the toilet area is a seven-or-eight-foot-high wall. Mounted on this wall are urinals -- five on each side.

Now, in the morning or right after lunch, there may be six-to-ten people in the latrine on our floor, at any given time. Otherwise, there's not many people in there at the same time.

So why ... dude ... did you find it necessary to come take the urinal directly next to me? Why? There was no one else in the bathroom. That means nine other urinals available.

Obviously this guy never attended man school.

Far Power Hell

It's amazing how sometimes we get into a rut and something comes along that rocks out senses. What's more interesting is what that something is.

The last several weeks I've been on a rockabilly/oldies kick. Been listening to a lot of old Booker T & the MGs and Jerry Lee Lewis as well as the Reverend Horton Heat. RHH is a good fall back band for me whenever I burn out on whatever I've been listening to most recently.

The other day I was sitting at the computer and really wasn't in the mood to listen to anything I had been listening to. So, I set media player to random and let it select my music for me, but pretty soon I was clicking next, next and next. Rush wasn't doing it for me, neither was Danzig. The Ramones were OK, but not what I was after. Then a chainsaw buzzed up my spine. The opening notes of Cowboys From Hell started playing and it was electric.

It was like my body knew how to react to the song. I felt propelled out of my chair. I had to stand up and move to the song. I didn't have my guitar handy, so I busted the Ibenhad Air Model.

I'm rocking along with the song when I notice my two-year-old son is watching me from across the room. He's got a huge smile and runs over and starts moving along with daddy. It was a moment that, in retrospect, is similar in my mind to something tesco posted yesterday.

I honestly don't care if my kids like any of the stuff I do. I want them to like whatever they want to. I want them to feel passionate about something. If that something isn't something I'm fond of, so be it. But it sure is nice when it is.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wunderkraut has Ken's number

Or maybe it's the other way around.

What is that noise?

Sheila has started her magnum opus: An episode-by-episode breakdown of the Quantum Leap series. Episode 1 has taken three entries, if that tells you anything about her passion for this project.

I have always loved this series and love her work on this. One of the things I've brought up is the classic sound that accompanies the leap. I think it's one of the most memorable sounds in all of television. And on that note, I was inspired to ask a question of my visitors: What do you think are the most memorable TV sounds?

I've already mentioned the Quantum Leap sound, but there are others. I think perhaps the most memorable, in our current TV generation is the Law and Order “duhn-duhn!” For my parent's generation, there was the Hee Haw donkey.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Whiny bitch

I think there are a lot of variations of this term out there. Some far more vulgar. Some more polite. From "Are your panties in a bunch?" to "Is there sand in your vagina?"

There was one we used in the Army pretty often and was just vulgar enough. You have to say it with the right amount of fake whine for it to be properly effective: What's the matter? Does your pussy hurt? That usually shut a whiner up pretty quickly.

I hadn't thought about any of this in a while, but today I passed a couple of Navy guys (Navy guys ... imagine that), and this junior enlisted was complaining about something and his NCO says, "What's wrong, you got a meow ow?"

The more I hang around the Navy, the more I like 'em.

In a crypt-like rocket, or something

I work a pretty cool schedule. Over the course of two weeks, I work 8 9-hour days, one 8-hour day and have one day off. My day off is every other Monday. Yesterday just happened to be my 13th anniversary.

I wish I could say that we did something romantic or nice, but honestly, we didn't have the money to go out and do anything. We planned to have a nice meal at home, but neither of us felt up to it by the time cooking time rolled around.

The wife hadn't felt good much of the day and my back was giving me problems. Though there is some progress. I spent yesterday afternoon in a coffin. Well, in an MRI. I don't know how many of you have done that, but it is a bizarre experience. Very confining and all these weird, loud noises going on around you, your mind starts playing tricks on you after a short bit.

Hopefully, I'll find out later today or tomorrow what's up.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh yeah, big government is a good idea

Because, you know, you get well thought out and logical things like this happening.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I am generally not very paranoid, but there are times I worry.

In my new job, there is a pretty steep learning curve. I am learning the lingo and protocol of a new service. I am learning the ins and outs of a new publication. And I am under a pretty tight deadline to get this new publication to press.

So I worry about how well I'm doing this job. And while my supervisor and boss tell me how happy they are with what I'm doing, I can't help but worry if that's lip service or if they're really pleased.

I just wish I had some time to ease into things a bit more here. But it seems that every job I ever take there's a degree of "baptism by fire."

I hope I don't get burned.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six years

It's kind of trite. I wasn't in New York. Heck, I didn't know anyone in the towers and everyone I knew in the Pentagon was safe. But it still hits me like a ton of bricks every time I think about it.

I was on active duty, stationed at Fort Polk. Like most the time, I was outside having a smoke. I heard the thump of rushed feet on the stairs inside and the door behind me opened. "A plane just hit the World Trade Center!" my NCOIC, eyes wide, told me.

It took a moment to parse. "What?" I asked.

"A plane just hit the World Trade Center," he said again, measuring his words for impact.

I threw out my smoke and we both ran back upstairs to watch events unfold on CNN. We watched the smoke pour out of the building and wondered aloud as to the reasons why something like this happened. We speculated about it being an accident. We watched, horrified, mesmerized, until the second plane hit. Then it sank in. We were attacked. We are at war.

That carries a certain weight when you're an active-duty soldier. War is a soldier's business. And it's a shame that our country has grown so weary over such important work.

I think of the thousands of people who lost their lives that day and I think of the duty I swore to so long ago. Even as a civilian I feel that same sense of duty to my country burning deep inside me. This wound that was thrust into us heals unequally, individually. Mine is no longer open, but is a jagged scar. One that demands I never forget.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Delivery update

I worked Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night was not very cool. I had to ride with another driver and didn't do any deliveries by myself at all. So I scored no tips and it was kind of uncomfortable riding with someone else. His car doesn't have air conditioning which made it that much more uncomfortable.

Last night, though, wasn't too bad. It was fast, and every time I went out, there was another order waiting by the time I got back. I had to keep driving out to the middle of nowhere, which means I didn't get as many deliveries as I could have, but it wasn't too bad.

I should be able to stick with it the two months (or so) that I need to.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The only hustle I dig is of the kung fu variety

Back home, back at work and back into the regular flow of things. Also, today I start a second job. I am becoming a delivery driver for our local Domino's Pizza. Hopefully the job won't last too long; it's just until we get some finances ironed out.

In the meantime, I have to adjust to the Domino's delivery way of thinking. Apparently that involves a lot of "hustle." Well, I don't hustle. I might move with a purpose, quicken my step, even occasionally sprint (to stop a child from doing something dumb), but hustle isn't really a thing I do.

Since tonight's my first night, I'll let you know tomorrow how things go.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Home again, home again, diggity dig

So it's time to head home. Wish I had some interesting tales to tell, but nothing much has happened. Went to class. Went to the hotel.

Yesterday, I did attempt to go somewhere to get some snacks for today and wound up having to cross the Potomac during rush hour. Thanks Garmin. Actually, I'd have been dead in the water without that little GPS, but only yesterday did I realize that it measures distance from where you are at to your destination as the crow flies, not as you'll be driving it.

I'm in Alexandria. I punched up "grocery" and found one two-point-one miles away. I drove across the river into Maryland because, as straight-line distance goes, it was pretty close. But it took a while to get there. And then I wound up going to a Rite-Aid anyway because that "grocery" was really a liquor store. In the wrong part of town.

On my ride back, I came through Old Town Alexandria, which is only three blocks south of my hotel, and passed everything I wanted to stop at. Should have just walked down the road some more.

Oh well. It was nice to get away a couple of days, but I'm very ready to get home.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Once more unto the breech

Again I blog from class. Last day of it, though. Gotta say, I honestly think this is a waste of training money. I really should have gone into the level two course. Oh well, another trip to DC won't hurt my feelings.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to class

So, I'm blogging from class. Well, to be more precise, class hasn't started yet, so I'm blogging while in the classroom.

We training on the PC version of the software, but are running XP on new IMacs. I gotta say, so far I'm pretty impressed. But it's not going to make me run out and buy a Mac.

I'm here from 9-4 and hope to get out to see a little of DC again after class.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Going on a trip

I'm heading off to DC for a two-day class on Adobe InDesign. I have extensive experience in Pagemaker and Quark, but have used InDesign briefly. It's what we use here, so my bosses asked if I wanted to go to a course. So, of course I told them yes. I was going to go to one nearby, but we were told that if we wanted more bang for the buck, we should only enroll in this company out in DC.

So, that's where I is going. Sometimes working for the government is pretty cool.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How can you not love that face?

Go check out all the cute things my kids are doing at my wife's blog: Keeping Up With the J's.


Hilly Kristal, founder of the club CBGB. He died on Tuesday from complications with lung cancer. He was 75.

While his club was closed and he moved on, what he did for American music will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The awesome list

I have decided, just this very minute, to make a list of the things in my life that are awesome.

My kids
My wife
My parents
My extended family (mostly)
My job

The list grows. Feel free to post your own awesome list in the comments.

UPDATE: I should point out that while this list was not in any particular order, and was kind of intended to be kind of humorous, what with the Pantera and all (though I will stomp your face if you say otherwise), I would be remiss if I didn't put the list in the order it should appear:

My wife
My kids
My wife
My parents
My wife
My extended family (mostly
My wife
My job
My wife
My wife

See, told you the list grows. Oh, I should probably add Mythbusters to the list, too.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Housebroke is a term that a coworker reintroduced into my vocabulary yesterday. In our usage is means that home ownership is breaking you financially, mentally, and/or physically. I find it to be quite apt and applicable to all three categories.

We went to Home Depot last night. My mother-in-law and her boyfriend gave us a housewarming/college graduation gift of a $100 gift card at Home Depot. It was a thoughtful and practical gift. Last night we put some of it to use. We're still attempting to prioritize some things, but we were able to purchase a few things we needed.

One of the things I did while there was price some lumber. I did a rough estimate on the amount of lumber I was going to need to put together the bookshelves. After marrying up my estimates (plus extra for scrap) and the prices I saw there, I came up with a pretty conservative estimate of $150 - $200 for supplies. Which is well more than I want to spend on bookshelves in the kid's room. So, now I'm thinking I'll look into either doing some garage-sale shopping or looking for a cheaper set of shelves and then modifying/reinforcing them to suit my needs.

But modifying another set doesn't accomplish my ulterior motive -- cutting my teeth on a project like this. See, we have a dining room that we're going to use as a reading/computer room. I want to build some floor-to-ceiling shelves in that room and wanted to use the kid's room project to learn. The reading room project is going to be another $100 or so more expensive because I plan on using more expensive materials. But it's going to be in a room a lot of people will see (everyone who visits), so I need to ensure it looks nice.

Anyway. I'm housebroken. But I'll keep all of you updated.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Planning a project

I am attempting to prioritize the things we've decided that we need. Of the most important things we need are bookshelves. We had to leave behind four or five shelves (they were in pitiful shape anyway). But we have tons of boxes of books, and we use a lot of books quite extensively. I've got to get our stuff up.

So, I've decided to build some built-in bookshelves. I have found a complex, but very cool, project, and I have also found a simple, not-quite-as-cool project. I am going to start with the simpler project and build a short set in my kid's room.

I'm not sure when I'll be able to get to it, but I'm going to price materials tonight. I'll be detailing the construction process.

In other news, mowing a third of an acre with a push mower sucks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Military? Blogger?

If you are in the military and you are blogging, pay attention to stories like this.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How do they make them so yummy?

[Editor’s note: Imagine, if you will, the light, upbeat 1950’s era, educational film music in the background. A stainless steel table is in the foreground with beakers and bottles neatly stacked off to the side. A pleasant-looking man in a white lab coat is standing behind the table, looking down at some papers on the table. He looks up suddenly as though taken slight unawares.]

OH! Sorry, I was just going over some test results. We here at Soylent Green Industries are always looking at ways to better serve our customers … Why, that’s you!

We get lots of questions about the steps we take to continually improve our products. Having just released a new, low-fat product: Soylent Green Light, we decided to speak with you, our consumers, about the quality control that goes into producing our yummy treats.

First of all, one may ask, “How exactly does one control the amount of fat in Soylent Green?”

Well, that’s easy. All Soylent Green is processed the same way. We start with our base ingredient and remove all the fat and other icky things. Then we can process the remaining into our Soylent Green paste. You might see your mom use this while baking. It’s concentrated! Once we have our paste, we can add as much, or as little fat back into the product as needed before cooking.

We’re able to maintain a relatively consistent flavor because of our secret ingredient.

Thanks for coming by to see me. You kids stay off the streets and stay in school!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fixing a door

The problem I am faced with now, when it comes to home repair, is that I have basically no money to put into anything. I'm at a place where I can only fix the things using the stuff I already have and tools I already own.

One of the things that's been bugging me since we moved in is that our master bedroom door wouldn't close. The door jam was busted. I couldn't pay to replace the jam, so I cut out the busted section of the jam (photos 1 and 2). I had a skill saw and motivation. It was on.

I had some wood left over from making shelves in the pantry. So I was able to replace the cut section with new wood.

Ideally, I would have had some nice wood glue and wood biscuits and a table saw to cut out the section for the biscuits ... but, nope, none of that stuff. You can see in photo three on the left my cut was far from perfect.

With no wood glue or biscuits, I decided to use dowels -- which I had from a long time ago and had recently unpacked.

The hardest part was attempting to drill holes in the jam that match up with the dowels in the replacement piece of wood. I got decently close.

After getting the piece in place, I filled in the gaps with wood putty (which I've owned for a long time) and let dry overnight. I let the putty sit overnight and then sanded things down very well. You can see a before and after pic at the left. I had to trim off some areas with the skill saw, but it all sanded down quite well.

You can see the mess at right. I don't have any chisels or a router. So I had to chip, cut and cajole the the wood out for the latch with a knife, a screwdriver and a hammer.

It's not a professional job. But it works just fine.