Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What next?

Rob asked me what's next on the remodel docket. Well, after my finger heals up, I do have something that's bugging me.

Now that we've redone the paint in a couple of rooms, we now have white trim and outlet covers. The problem is that the outlets and switches themselves are that old beige (and in bad shape):

So, replacing outlets and switches is in my future.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Kitchen and bathroom remodel

This here's the kitchen as we moved into it a year and a half ago. We always knew we were going to redo the kitchen. It took some time.

Here's the new version. We still need to redo the countertops and replace the oven, but it's a big improvement.

Here's a good view of the nasty old wall color:

Here's the new version:

The thing that really made us want to do the remodel was the floors. There was an old sheet linoleum down and then peel and stick on top of that. But they would just stop in places and the linoleum would be there for all to see.

New version:

Also did the adjacent bathroom -- here's the old:

Here's the new:

Could not have done this without my wife and some help from some guys from my wife's church.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Video Friday: We don't need no stinkin' fingers

Having an injured digit and actually wanting to pick up a guitar the other day made me think of Django, so here's some of the master:

Django Reinhardt - The Sheik of Araby - More bloopers are a click away

Mike Rowe is awesome

Not just because he likes Fords. He makes the best pop-culture comparison to the large-company bailouts I've yet heard:

Pet Cemetery was on the other night. Remember that creepy cat? And that little
boy, Gage? They were brought back to life, remember? That wasn’t supposed to
happen. That’s cheating. Consequently, there was some rather serious fallout.

Yeah, that’s right folks. I just compared AIG to a reanimated zombie in
a Stephen King story.

Because frankly, I’m not sure which is scarier.

Mike Rowe's blog is a thing of wonder.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Number 1!!oneone!!1

Yep. I cut the hell out of my finger. I am the number one dumbass.

Here's what happened -- as stated below, we're doing some kitchen remodeling. We were putting in the floor tile and I was cutting tiles. It had been a long day and I was getting fatigued. In fact, I was just thinking to myself, "Man, I must be getting really tired. These cuts are getting pretty sloppy." But I only had two tiles left to do to finish out my row and I was going to get 'em done.

I measured out a line one the second-to-last tile and cut into it. In fact I scored it three or four times. Plenty to have broken off the excess. But, I went in to cut one more time and this time my left-hand index finger was in the way.

I immediately knew I had cut myself pretty bad. I jumped up and went to the sink to start rinsing my finger under cold water. I called out for a band aid. By the time I got the band aid and got it open (a whole 30 seconds or so), it was soaked in blood. "Never mind, take me to the emergency room."

I wrapped my finger in a towel and some ice and we headed to the emergency room.

To their credit, the folks at Baptist East triaged me within 30 seconds of my walking to the counter. This resulted in the huge, foam-"number one"-hand-like wrap pictured here. But it took hours - about five - to get back to a room. It was another 45 minutes or so before I started getting any treatment. We didn't home until 5:30 a.m. A full 8 hours at the ER.

I learned, during our stay, that the absolute worst night to go to an ER at Baptist East is a Monday. I further learned that the worst thing about almost cutting off a portion of your finger tip is getting the local anesthetic prior to getting stitched up. I also learned that Dilaudid is a hell of a drug.

So, if you have the chance, I suggest NOT cutting off any parts of your appendages with a box cutter. Unless that's your thing or something.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Easy so depends on context

We remodeling our kitchen. It is not fun. But it hasn't been too difficult.

Painting has been a trial. J-Mom has taken the lead on getting that taken care of. Which is fine by me. I really don't like painting - though I will admit that it's amazing what a couple of coats of paint will do to a room. Our kitchen used to be a horrible, ugly puke green and is now a rather pleasant light blue.

I took the lead on getting the old floor up. There was peel-and-stick tile on top of linoleum sheeting. We rented a floor stripper and that ripped right through it. Took some learning, but once I figured it out, the old floor came up quickly. It left behind some of the paper backing from the linoleum and we had to scrape that up with some razor-blade scrapers, but it came up easily enough.

What's left is to put down our new peel-and-stick, finish painting, and put the new vanity and mirror in the bathroom (oh yeah, we're doing the downstairs bathroom too).

We have to be done before this weekend. Wish us luck.

PS I got to smash a mirror. That's stress relief.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Having nothing to say is a detriment to blogging

I’m not fond of blogging about blogging, but I did get to do something interesting that bears some interesting blog fodder on the subject of social media.

I went to Las Vegas last week to attend a Ragan Conference on Social Media for Communicators. The goal was to pick up some tips and tricks to better webicize my office products. I got some ideas.

There were a lot of speakers there speaking on a lot of different topics. I attended two sessions given by Ron Ploof, founder of OC New Media. He runs a great blog on the hows, whats and whys of social media at ronamok.com. Both of his sessions were video oriented – a media my office is trying to get more into. We’ve been producing a lot of video through our traditional channels, but want to make better use of You Tube and Troop Tube. The primary problem though is that we think “traditionally.” Effective social media video is rather non-traditional.

Nothing drove home the impact of social media video better than our luncheon keynote speaker, George Wright. Most people probably don’t know the name, but most You Tubers probably know his product: Will it Blend?. He gave a quick story about how the Will it Blend? videos came about and the outcome of the videos – a 700% increase in sales. Then he blended a rake.

Will it Blend? is a great example of something Ron Ploof told us in an after-lunch session. Successful social media videos do two things. They (1) provide spectacle and (2) touch two emotions. He was paraphrasing another internet video guru who produces French maid videos, but the sentiment is correct. Videos that go viral both excite us and reach out to us. The car video with the teen and the dad where the father sees the footprints on the windshield – there’s a lot going on there. Frog in a blender – perhaps the first internet viral product – provided us with the spectacle of interactive web animation and played on our emotions. Is it really wrong to blend a cartoon frog?

Perhaps the best speaker was Zappos.com CEO Tony Hsieh. Less about social media, Tony talked about the importance of corporate culture. Figuring out who you are as an organization and focusing on that first means that you can better communicate it in the future. Social media is just another way of getting your message out.

Through all of the sessions, the thing that really struck me is how much all of these new media methods are focused more on internal communications. Podcasts, Tweets and Facebook are seen less as ways to talk to an external audience than they are to tell employees about things within your organization. With traditional media becoming less effective, what’s the next step? I’ve yet to see a convincing answer to this question. Still, going to Vegas for a conference is always a good thing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Non-traditional St. Patty's Day

Last year my office celebrated St. Patrick's Day by having a pot luck with Irish/Irish-inspired food. This year we're doing the same, but without the Irish-inspired stipulation. In fact, this year we're focusing more on Cajun-inspired cuisine. I made sausage and chicken jambalaya and we've got some red beans and rice coming. Of course, there is some corned beef on its way, but it's never a bad time for that.

No parades but we have a pretty good time in the office.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I watched the Watchmen, again

I flew into Vegas yesterday for a communications conference. I don't party, and I don't gamble. The only thing I was interested in was seeing the Watchmen in IMAX.

So, I got checked in in time to make the 1:20 show. It was great, again. I have to admit that I cannot be objective regarding this material. The graphic novel is too much a part of my literary past and present. I love the source material. If they'd made a "Hollywood" version of this movie, I would be pissed. But they made a movie that was extraordinarily faithful to the comics. That was probably a mistake from the perspective of wanting to sell this movie to the mass movie goer. It's not a fun movie. It's not a superhero movie. It's kind of depressing, really.

Outside of the story, I was trying to pay attention to Malin Akerman's acting. I've read a lot of criticism lately and was really trying to see what they do, but I just don't get it. Sure, she's not going to be winning any Academy Awards, but she did fine. If you're going to complain about anyone, why not complain about Matthew Goode's performance as Ozymandias/Adrian Veidt? That dude slipped in and out of a German accent like Costner on the set of Robin Hood.

I am left having to give this movie a qualified "good movie" seal. It's not like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxie where they tried too hard to please everyone and pleased very few, this movie was made for the fans.

Monday, March 09, 2009

The funniest cadence

No, not like the minister of silly walks, like a marching cadence.

One time, during my military school, I got out in formation to call cadence. No big deal, really, most of us took turns during marching and running. Drill sergeants encouraged it and once you make it to the real Army you pretty had to do it at some point in time.

However, me and a few other guys had a little bet going as to who could call out the funniest, most potentially offensive cadence and get away with it. I was the first to go and I’d say I won because I got away with it. Of course, we were quickly warned by out senior drill that future cadence callers must stick to established cadences without improvisation.

This particular cadence I called was modified from a popular one that goes:
Around her hair she wore a yellow ribbon
She wore it in the spring time, in the early month of May
And if you asked her why the heck she wore it
She'd say she wore it for her soldier who was far, far away
Far away
Far away

There are some variations, but this is the most traditional.

The cadence I called went like this:
Around her wrists, she wore a pair of handcuffs
She worse them in the hotel, just below the sleeve.
And if you asked her why the heck she wore them
She’d say she wore them for her soldier who was home on leave
Home on leave
Home on leave

But this wasn’t the funniest cadence.

Shortly after this, a running group of guys were running (go figure). We were led by one of the sergeants in the cadre and one of the cadences he called was the following:
Don’t let your dingle dangle dangle in the sand,
Pick up your dingle dangle, hold it in your hand!
Don’t let your dingle dangle dangle in the dirt,
Pick up your dingle dangle put it in your shirt!

Not that any of that is particularly funny, but it was the delivery. This guy, about six-one, six-two, overweight with kind of a jolly appearance, was running, red faced, beside us and delivering these lines with the most serious, most honest expression. Don’t you dare let that dingle dangle dangle, dammit! It took all I had to not laugh then, but I haven’t stopped laughing since.

I just cannot get the image of this guy running with us delivering this godawful cadence as though it was vitally important business.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I watched the Watchmen

Fantastic movie. I hesitate calling it the "best comic book movie ever" because I'm sure some people will find problems with it, but I didn't.

There are things missing. There is a major change and the ending feels a bit more Hollywood than it appears in the graphic novel. But none of those things matter to the overall movie.

Snyder really nailed the vignettes. Now I can't wait until the 24th when the Tales of the Black Freighter comes out.

I can't believe how well the movie turned out. The use of period music really helped put you in the correct era. I was worried, after hearing the Muse song used in the previews, that modern scoring was going to make the movie feel a bit too dated. It was the only problem I had with the first Matrix movie. While the Rob Zombie tune was great in the nightclub, it was entirely in context, but then the end song after Neo talks on the phone was out of place. It dates the making of the movie. Watchmen, however, uses the period music to date the events within the movie. Nicely done.

I'm thinking I might have to go see it again.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

When even good papers die

A lot of people have been talking about how newspapers are on their last breath. This is almost certainly the case, which is sad because they still play a vital role and could be relevant again.

Until recently, I thought that newspapers could see the light. I thought they could change their business model, again, and become vital again. But that’s not happening. When big media companies swept in and picked up papers across the country, it was a warning sign of the end. Less and less local coverage and fewer community newspapers meant more homogenous coverage. During the ‘80s and most the ‘90s this was fine. It meant a small community could feel more metropolitan because it was carrying much the same news as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. But, with the proliferation of internet access, that same news was readily available, more quickly online. Now that lack of local coverage is the very thing killing newspapers.

I’ve made this point before. What I’m realizing now though, is that even papers who have a strong, unwavering audience are in trouble. The Army Times Publishing Company, who produce the DoD Times, Army Times, Marine Times, Navy Times and Air Force Times has been feeling the pinch. To avoid layoffs, they’ve recently put their workforce through one-week, non-pay furloughs, rolling through the organization to avoid disrupting production.

The thing is, all the Times publications have a built-in audience of military folks who are always going to be buying their publication. They haven’t suffered the same kind of audience drop that most newspapers have. Perhaps it has to do with the fact they’re owned by Gannett, but this is troubling. If a paper with as strong an audience base as the Army Times can suffer these problems, what newspaper will survive in the long term?

The online incarnations of publications will not keep them afloat. It’s not happening now. If newspapers and magazines fail in their paper incarnation, chances are their online versions will die as well. Or become shadows of their former selves. At least until someone develops a working business model. Money drives communications just like everything else. Information may want to be free but you have to keep in mind what the quality of that information it going to be.

I hope that new media develops into what it promises to be. Media is always going to go where the money is, and for newspapers, right now, that’s to bankruptcy court.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Of course they cancel the best show on network TV.

Apparently, I'm country

Just a simple quiz, but I'm not entirely certain that this is accurate. If they had some middle ground, it'd probably be better. I like to live in the country but I like the conveniences of the city.

You Are Country

You'll take natural beauty and quiet over the hustle and bustle of the city.

You can appreciate the simple things in life, and it doesn't take much for you to feel content.

While you appreciate the many opportunities of the city, you see them as too much of a good thing.

You love living a peaceful life. It's important that you can hear yourself think.