Thursday, May 31, 2007

Caption me

Wunderkraut did a personal-photo caption to some success a little while ago. Inspired by his lead, I offer this:

What the hell am I thinking?

That's not fog

Not fog, but smoke. Smoke, people. This is the view out of the front entrance of my building. On a clear day I can see well past those trees to the front gate of our installation. I can even see the wheat field across the street.

We're 115 miles west of Waycross. This is crazy.



I can only hope that this is as accurate as all Sun stories tend to be.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

An observation

So, Salma Hayek's boobs are threatening to overtake the Earth. But, because of this picture, I made a shocking and gross realization. Now, is it just me or is Salma starting to resemble Danzig (look at that jawline)?


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Busy weekend of nothing

I love it when you have a full weekend that's full of relaxing, spending time with the family kind of stuff. And that's what we did all weekend. It actually started before the weekend, though. My oldest child turned 8 on Saturday, but we had her birthday party Thursday evening.

And from there we spent the rest of the weekend in the pool, playing the Wii, watching movies and hanging out. It was a lot of fun and refreshing.

Now. Back to work.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Big Jake

John Wayne was the mannest man that ever manned.

Oh, and happy birthday to FTTW too.

A thought for this holiday weekend

I was halfway listening to the news this morning and they’re starting their Memorial Day stories. One of the things I overheard in passing was “the draft.”

Hearing that little bit made me think … crank up the innernets and do some research and come to the conclusion: The War on Terror is the first prolonged war America has fought with an all-volunteer service. Even the American Revolution made use of conscription to some degree.

How awesome a fact is this? We are able to fight successfully and defeat our enemies with a group of people who selected to do this of their own free will. And, on top of that, we have been able to continue to do this for over five years.

Every time I begin to think the American people suck, I’m reminded how awesome we can be.

Just something to think about this Memorial Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Diminished returns

I've written a couple of times about finishing my bachelor's degree, so yesterday, when my diploma arrived in the mail, it was kind of anticlimactic. Events like this often make me think about the relationship between anticipation and actuality.

One of my favorite quotes defines this dichotomy succinctly: “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Alfred Hitchcock said that, but the poignant use of the quote I’ve witnessed was in Afghanistan. This quote was written large on the inside of one of the port-o-johns scattered about our camp. And its truth was quickly evident by the second or third rocket attack you lived through. The idea of the rocket attack was scary. The actual thing was annoying. You had to get up, get on your gear, take cover and/or man a checkpoint. You realized that if you heard the rocket, if you got up, then everything was OK. Our enemy there never launched more than one at a time.

Think about the number of times you’ve talked up a date, a concert a movie or a meal. Regardless of our pessimism or cynicism in dealing with most other things, the minute we anticipate something, we’ve only set ourselves up for a diminished return. Rather than sweetening the pot, it salts the wound.

But why? Why does reality sour in comparison to our expectations?

It is a mixed blessing, of course. In the case of the rocket attacks, it lets you know keep working free from much anxiety. In the case of receiving my actual diploma, it’s bittersweet.

I wonder if we have lost some of our capacity to wait for the event -- to wait for the actual event rather than ruin it with false hope? Or perhaps the quality of services and products aren’t living up to the hype surrounding them.

I don’t know what the conclusion here is. Maybe I should just get my head out of the clouds.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

More on immigration

Ask and ye shall receive. With all the immigration ballyhoo yesterday, I missed a fantastic post on the subject. The highly intelligent and articulate Teflon at Molten Thought writes a great immigration plan while lamenting the Republican sellout.

He opens the post with pulled quotes about the GOP sellout, scroll down for the immigration plan goodness. His step-by-step solution (especially #6!) is the best though-out and most logical plan I've seen in the past few years we've been having this debate.

Quotational nightmare

As an editor, I deal with a lot of grammar use – proper, improper and otherwise. I am not claiming to be a subject matter expert, but I’ve been doing this long enough to pick up on a thing or two. Among the many infractions I often see, the most common usually involves the use of quotation marks.

It’s simple, really, people. If you are writing American English, the punctuation ALWAYS goes inside the quote. Always.

British English is different. In fact, their rules concerning quotes are just about the reverse of ours. I understand that the innarnetwebs is an increasingly small place, globally, and I’ve witnessed plenty of great grammatical use out there. But the quote thing drives me crazy. For some reason, people have begun to use the quote mark inside the punctuation if the material being quoted is a title or some euphemistic phrase. If you’re writing from the good ol’ U.S. of A., that is incorrect.

Quoting from the Oxford Dictionary of Modern Usage (Garner, 1998):
With a closing quotation mark, practices vary. In AmE, it is usual to place a period or comma within the closing quotation mark, whether or not the punctuation so placed is actually a part of the quoted matter. In BrE, by contrast, the closing quotation mark comes before any punctuation marks, unless these marks form a part of the quotation itself (or what is quoted is less than a full sentence in its own right). Thus:
AmE: (1) “Joan pointedly said, ‘We won’t sing “God Save the Queen.”’”
(2) “She looked back on her school years as being ‘unmitigated misery.’”
BrE: (1) ‘Joan pointedly said, “We won’t sing ‘God Save the Queen’.”’
(2) ‘She looked back on her school years as being “unmitigated misery”.’

I hope that clears things up a little bit. Now I can climb down from by pedantic soapbox.

So what the hell am I supposed to watch now

Heroes has made a hell of a splash in both my household and across the viewing public.

While the show's had its ups and downs, last night's season finale was pretty decent. Toward the end of the show, I thought they might end it right before the "big fight," but they didn't do that to us. No, they just didn't give us a big fight. But they did resolve the explosion angle.

Now, we're left with the fallout (heh). Was that Hiro's father in ancient Japan (or his ancestor)? Did Peter survive? Did Nathan survive? Why did Sylar survive?

For the first, I am inclined to believe that the blue samurai was Kensei and he's going to wind up being Hiro's father who will have some weird time traveling ability.

Second, yeah, Peter survives. But we won't find out about that for a few episodes. The future "what if" episode already shows us that Peter survived when he went nuclear. It's really a non-question.

Nathan, however, is toast.

Sylar. Why couldn't they just kill him off? Honestly, while I was hoping they'd do some things differently, I was pleased overall with the episode. Except the ending of Sylar. I am very upset that they're implying he survived. The character served his purpose. The only way to redeem this is if he was dragged into the sewer by some other being/creature. Now THAT would be pretty cool.

Been a pretty good TV season this year. Heroes was great, Lost has greatly redeemed itself and the current Doctor Who season is fantastic. Don't know what I'm going to do when they're all done (got a little more time on Doctor Who than on the others though).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't criticize without offering alternatives

Immigration smimmigration. I am increasingly convinced that our government is incapable of fixing the problem. Not only because our government moves at the speed of government, but because everyone has a different idea of what "fix" means.

I don't care into which of the 8 billion sides you fall. My biggest problem is that many people are quick to criticize but slow to offer their own suggestions.

This piece at Wizbang by DJ Drummond covers the topic well.

Basically, we all know this new piece of legislation is trash. How many of us are letting our legislators know what we want? How many are letting our legislators know not only do we want the problem fixed, but are giving some ideas about how we would like it fixed?

Faster Than the Twist

My new post is up at Faster Than The World. Make sure to stop by and check it out. It's my first-ever VLOG, so be kind.

It's FTTW's one-year anniversary, so stop by often for posts and there are even some contests going on.

Also, don't forget to check out Faster Than The Blog for fresh content updated often.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Focusing on minutiae

Today, I finished a very good meeting. I know. Sounds like an oxymoron, right? But really, it was informative.

Every week, everyone in my office gets together and we go over our paper. It’s more than a meeting, it’s a training session. It’s immediate, worthwhile, constructive and professional – unlike most droning office meetings. We actually cover topics, develop ideas and listen to one another. See, all meetings aren’t bad.

As we covered various aspects of newspaper design and writing styles, I was thinking on some of the big-pictures aspects of our career field and how the supervisors in our field don’t get to get into the trenches like we do – how their main goal is that the product gets completed, not how it gets completed.

What got me thinking this way is my recent job searching. The position I’m hoping I get is very similar to what I’m doing now. I’ll still be editing and designing, just for a larger area of responsibility and a different kind of product. I’ll still be dealing with the minutiae. It will still be my job to “get my hands dirty” with the end product. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Supervisors have it tough. On the one hand, employees tend to be impressed with bosses who aren’t afraid to mix it up with the workers and help get the job done. On the other hand, that same boss can quickly be seen to be a micromanager when he starts making suggestions about how things should be done. It’s a fine line, but the best supervisors pitch in to complete the job and trust their employees to do the jobs they were hired to do without having to hold their hand.

There are several jobs I’ve sent my resume in for that I now hope I don’t get interviewed for. They are supervisory. I’ll lose my minutiae. I could quickly become that micromanager. I could quickly lose sight of the big picture.

I was a noncommissioned officer. My mind is set on mission accomplishment. Let the officers worry about why we’re doing it.

Movie Meme Answers

OK, so some good guesses and some spot on responses. Here are the answers:

1. Blade Runner
2. The Usual Suspects
3. Se7en
4. Brazil
5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
6. 12 Monkeys
7. Reservoir Dogs
8. Grindhouse
9. Plan 9 From Outer Space
10. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Thanks to everyone for stopping by!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cool meme I wasn't tagged to do

So, Ken didn't tag me to do this meme, but I decided I wanted to do it anyway.

Here's the deal:

Pick out your ten favorite movies, then look them up at IMDb. In the overview at the top of each movie's page, there are "Plot Keywords," usually five of them. (Plus more, if you click the link.) Take the first five, and post them. Then the rest of us get to play movie buff and see if we can guess them.

So, I picked 10 of my favorites as I don't think I could ever nail down a top-10 list. Here they are:

1. Man Versus Machine / Cyborg / 2000s / Atmospheric / Experiment Gone Wrong
Hmm. This film is set in the 2000s, it wasn't made in the 2000s.

2. Dirty Cop / Dock / Criminal Mastermind / Burn Victim / Manipulation
Dirty cop? Gonna have to re-watch it.

3. Sadness / Grim / Anger / Gruesome / Clue
Yeah, that gives it right away. Good luck with that.

4. Bureaucrat / Dream Girl / Breakfast Machine / London / French Accent
I would add "plumber" too.

5. Severed Arm / British Film / Corporeal Mortification / Severed Leg / British
May give it away, may not. Love how "British" shows up twice.

6. Desolation / Violence / Key / Downbeat / Future Noir
These key words seem a lot more like #1, but apply to this film also.

7. Graphic Violence / Long Take / Gasoline / Aftermath / Tip
GRAPHIC violence

8. Strip Club / Car Trouble / Broken Neck / Werewolf / Makeup Artist
A recent addition to my list

9. Tape Recording / Screaming / Wobbly Sets / Washington Monument / Death During Filming
An old favorite

10. Alien / B Movie / Skeleton / Spoof / Doctor
A very obscure movie, but one I mention often

Good luck. I don't tag, so if you'd like to do the meme, go right ahead.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Over the horizon unscatter

I am looking for a new job. I have been looking for a new job for quite some time, but now that I is a coolidge gradiate, I have stand a far better chance of being selected for these higher-level positions that I am looking into.

In the federal gubment, once you are hired at a certain level, you can only progress in certain incremental steps. I am hoping to get promoted to the next level and then I'll freaking stop. Because after a lifetime of moving around as a military family member, then as an active-duty soldier, and now as a DoD civilian, I'm about tired of moving.
But what this preamble is really all about is that I'm pretty certain I'm about to be offered said job. In a city where I'd be pretty happy. Doing a job I think I'll be pretty excited about doing.

More info forthcoming.

Cross posted at Faster Than The Blog.

Faster Than The Blog

Hey guys! We at Faster Than The World have just stood up an exciting new sub-site: Faster Than The Blog.

While the daily content is geared more to a zine-style format, the blog will is shaping up to be group-blog style posting.

There's about 40 of us writing for the site, so content should remain fresh daily. Make sure to stop by often

Faster Than The Blog!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Not mucha anything

Yeah, so not too much going on. We went up to Macon on Saturday and had a good time. If you haven't heard, southwest Georgia was covered in smoke from all the fires in Florida and southeast Georgia. It was like walking into a smoky bar, but it was everywhere. Really hard when your oldest kid has asthma.

Anyway, for some decent content, go check out my post today at Faster Than The World. It's a tear jerker.

Friday, May 11, 2007

More disturbing moral relativism

Dave at File It Under discusses the implications of moral relativism in light of a recent, horrible incident in Australia.

I have often felt that a combination of moral relitivism and the society of self-centrists we are breeding is only contributing to events like this.

Scary stuff.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Something lost, nothing gained

For the better part of the last three years, a close friend of my family has battled cancer. This morning, she lost that fight.

She was a very close friend of my wife. Although a few years older than us, her and her husband were very close to my family. While I was deployed to Afghanistan, they cared for mine as though they were their own. I cannot express how deep a bond there is between our families, even though we have been separated by hundreds of miles since 2003.

Their youngest child is the same age as my oldest daughter. They were fast friends and contact often today. It was their little girl that called my wife this morning with the news.

This is not the first person I've lost to some kind of cancer. I have lost close family members, bloodline-wise. However, this is probably the closest person to me emotionally I've lost. I can't help think about what that little 8-year-old girl has gone through over the last three years and what she'll go through the rest of her life.

Pray for her, please.

Idol threat 5-8

Looking back over this season, I don't think it's the contestants that are making the show so dull. There's a lack of ... spontaneity, I guess, that's supposed to come with a reality/live/competition show. Simon keeps using the term "pageanty" and I've come to feel that this entire season has that feel to it.

What really bums me out, though, is that there are some fantastic performers along with the really bad ones, but there just hasn't been the same tension. There's no fire among them. Except perhaps for Sanjaya, and we all knew how that was going to end up. The "weeks" this season have been horrible, and song selections equally bad. So last night's Barry Gibb night was unsurprisingly sucktastic.

Of all the performers last night, I think Jordin is the only one that really delivered. Her rendition of "To Love Somebody" was probably the best I've heard. That's not saying too much, though, because I hate the song.

Anyway, all that aside, based on the most lack of performance last night by these two, I predict that Blake and LaKisha are the bottom two with LaKisha going Labyebye.

The roundup:

Tracey at Beyond the Pale posts her first long write up of the season.

Dean hates the Gibb.

Curly McDimple can't get enough of Barry Gibb's teeth.

Dial Idol predicts Melinda and LaKisha are the bottom two with LaKisha heading out the door. Guess Spanky's fan base got energized last night from the bashing by Simon.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


I can't believe I'm going to say this, but last week's "what if" episode of Heroes was a lot better than last night's piece o' trash. What the foxtrot was that garbage? Yes, we get it that Hiro is having problems dealing with the fact that he has to be the one to kill Silar. Did we really have to spend and entire, agonizing episode dealing with it. And, for all intents and purposes, that's all we dealt with.

What a boring, drawn out, waste of an hour.

You guys had better do something better. You will not have my viewership next season if this goes poorly.

On another note, have you heard that Lost now has a scheduled ending? Three more seasons. I think this will help tighten up a lot of the loose plots circling out there and give us more focus. Should be a good three seasons.

Monday, May 07, 2007

And now that it's over

Now that school's over and I don't have forty-two different school-related things to do over the weekend, I'm not sure what to do.

Be more of a hand in the house? Sure. We can work on that.

Spend more time with the kids? I guess that would be a good thing too.

I just don't feel that impending degree of things that need to be done. Perhaps I should make a list.

Any ideas?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Busy bees knees

It has been a hectic couple of days.

My wife and kids were sick yesterday so I stayed home to take care of them. It was enlightening -- doing the mommy job and some of the summer homeschooling work, in addition to some of the housework -- it was a pretty tough day. The big problem is dealing with the psycho two-year-old boy.

Anyway, my point ... sometimes we get caught up in our own schedules that we lose sight of the fact that other people have their own. Our assumptions are often wrong or are skewed so that we don't comprehend.

Or, to put it a different way, my wife rocks.

She's doing better but both girls are still out of it. I don't envy her. But I do sympathize.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Worst cover songs

We're having a poll at Faster Than The World -- the worst cover songs and are currently collecting nominations.

We recently had a "best cover song" poll, so we gotta yin our yang. Heh, that's kind of nasty sounding.

Anyway, my suggestion there, so far, is Can't Help Falling in Love by UB40. That reggae-esque piece of crap is horrible. Being an Elvis fan makes it even worse.

There are a lot of good suggestions already, and I have another couple -- Summer in the City Butthole Surfers: Not bad, but in no way good. Along Comes Mary Bloodhound Gang: How much suck can the human mind handle? Barely this much.

Go forth and nominate!

Idol threat 5-1

So, Idol last night.

It wasn't bad ... I just don't have much to say. No one floored me, but no one made my ears bleed either.

Predictions: Two are going home ... I'd say Phil and Chris with LaKisha as an alternate.

My regular reads:

Curly's a tired drunk.

And she seems to be the only one with a post up about it right now and it's not even a proper post. I can't access Dial Idol here, so I'll leave it to you to look if you want to.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


I am in the process of training some of my coworkers to do my job. I have a two-week vacation planned in June (that I actually hope I won't be taking because of a recent phone call that I still haven't heard anything back about yet), and I need to have people trained up in what I do.

It's been harder than I thought it'd be. They have the desire but not the technical experience. It's not that what I do is all that difficult, but it does require that you know certain software and know the rules of the game. Individually, they know little -- some know a good bit in some areas and others in others -- collectively, they are pretty good though.

The problem is that I have to do this training on top of doing all of our normal jobs. So it's not just an issue of working around my schedule, but all of theirs also.

I set up a workstation they can jump onto any time they have free time. I hope they take that to heart; it hasn't happened yet.