Wednesday, November 30, 2005

freakin' eWatched-Pot

I'm waiting on no less than 6 very important emails right now. These are responses to things that I've sent out over the last few days. Things that are relatively important, some of which are pretty urgent.

I hate waiting on email responses. It drives me nuts. I've never been very good at just chilling out and letting responses come in time. I'm the kind of guy who used to hit "Refresh" every 15 seconds, until Gmail added in its auto-refresh niceitude.


I don't want to be that guy who pesters people with "Hey did you see my other email?" emails. So, I'm just sitting here babysitting my inbox. It's about as exciting as C-SPAN.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

giving thanks

Yeah, so I'm about 5 days late with this, but I woke up this morning feeling like I should list all of the things I'm thankful for this year.

So, here goes:

- I'm thankful for my girlfriend who is undoubtedly the most wonderful person I've ever met in my life.
- I'm thankful that, in a year full of so many horrible tragedies worldwide, everyone I care about is still healthy, happy, and well.
- I'm thankful for the ever growing sense of security and roots I have in my life, and that the unstable tumult of my early twenties fades with each passing year.
- I'm thankful for the decline in stress and increase in Peacefulness this year has seen for me.
- I'm thankful for our cat.
- I'm thankful my car is still hanging in there even after 153,000 miles.
- I'm thankful for the 22nd Amendment.
- I'm thankful for my job, the experience I've gained, and the creative possibilities available to me over the last year.
- I'm thankful that my kid sister is growing up healthy and well.
- I'm thankful to have found a way such as Blogger to keep in touch more frequently with people I don't get a chance to see as often as I'd like.
- I'm thankful I went back and beat Metal Gear: Snake Eater. It was a really great game and I'm glad I didn't just give up on it.
- I'm thankful that Techno Squirrels' career is going well.
- I'm thankful for the memories of our Hawaiian vacation.
- I'm thankful for The Cheesesteak Shop.
- And I'm thankful that I get another chance at another year to make the next one just a bit better than the one before, which is all anyone can really ever ask for.

So, guess that's everything this year.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

'tis the season

Amanda and I started our Christmas shopping today. Besides just kinda' getting the lay of the land and figuring out some budgeting, we also started to try and track down a few items.

Now, I'm not going to say who it was we were looking for or what item it was, but we did find something in our online travels that was pretty amazing.

I present to you The Fine Art Martini Frog:

For those who don't feel like following the link to find out more about it, this is a four foot tall, hand-painted bronze frog holding a martini glass. If you asked me, I would have put the price tag at something like $50.

Oh, how little I know about art, apparently.

This stunning beauty of a piece of crap is going for (drum roll please) $11,900.00! Twelve freakin' thousand dollars!! And that's apparently on sale from its original $16,000 dollars.

Good gravy. I think the thing that amazed me most of all was the ability to add it to your shopping cart with a Quantity tab. As if anyone on earth would need more than one of these if they had a spare $25,000 lying around. To quote Andrew Dick, "ri-doik-u-loise."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

it's not the rush of remembering

My brain feels like mush. I'm pushing myself really hard to complete this massive Word document by tomorrow and I'm starting to really just feel ... stupid.

I'm not sure why the simple act of thinking can be so incredibly fatiguing when you do it intently for so many hours on end.

I feel dumb even writing this, as though I'm saying:

"me head hurt. me not like thinkin'. thoughts hurt jesses brain lump."

But it's more than that. It's not like I have some problem with the act of thinking and would prefer to coast through life easily. I'm talking about the fagitue of many longs hours spent trying to organize and write all of the details needed for a 30 page technical document. It's tough.

Anyway, I'm getting there and will get this thing done; but man o' man, I'm really starting to feel it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

shove it, Frampton.

I've been listening to a lot of music here at work while I work on some massive Word documents these past couple of weeks. As such, I've been running my iTunes playlist into the ground of late. This morning, I couldn't stomach the thought of hearing the same songs over and over and over again for another week (albeit, a short week).

So, today I dragged in a good 20 or so additional CDs and ripped them all into iTunes. First of all, iTunes r0><0rz. So, way to go Apple. But, second of all, I ripped one album in particular that I've been LOVING today.

The winner? Peter Gabriel's "Secret World Live" which could possibly be the greatest live album I've ever heard. Gabriel's a genius and he has an incredible talent for finding just the right guest artists to play live with him.

On Secret World Live, Gabriel snags Paula Cole before she became famous and then dropped off the face of the Earth again. Their two voices, backed by a killer rhythm section, make for a very enjoyable double album. And yeah, it's so freakin good that I love the inclusion of two discs.

Anyway, if you haven't ever heard it, check it out; you won't be disappointed. If you've heard it but not recently, listen to it again. And, I dunno, if you're listening to it right now, then you get a gold star.

Friday, November 18, 2005

not much going on

Not to much to blab about. I was out sick yesterday but still ended up working most of the day on some documentation work at home. This weekend Manda and I are gonna' go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Maybe play some more Beyond Good & Evil. Who knows.

Anyway ... uh ... whoooooo!! Wild times!!

Or something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

not very "ah ... niiiice"

Apparently, according to CNN, the country of Kazakhstan is threatening to sue comedian Sacha Cohen (better known as Ali G) over the derogatory image he portrays as the character of Borat.

1.) That's nuts.

and 2.) That's nuts.

On the plus side, it's fun to see the words "cow-punching" on

Look out, Mike Myers. Germany may not know about Dieter yet.

Monday, November 14, 2005

the Tide™ of change (now with Stainlifter)

There is one last great melting pot in the United States. Say what you want about socio-economic strata or the tendency for ethnic and religious groups to gravitate towards themselves geographically. All of that aside, there is still one great unifying aspect of our society that can bring all ages, races, and religions together:


Want to see diverse American society working together closely in harmony? Go to any Laundromat. Amanda and I went to one this Sunday with a huge load of clothes, pretty much everything we owned to be honest. While we were there, I kept staring around the place at the other people.

And it struck me, there's a lesson here somewhere. People of all ages, races, and creeds - who so frequently can't agree on politics to the point of violence - can apparently wash their underwear together in public without any problems at all.

The only people not represented? The Rich. I swear, if there were ever to be a French Revolution-style revolt against America's wealthy, the organizers should plan, meet, and recruit from Laundromats. They would never be found out - ever. And the Privileged would have no idea until the scent of Revolution and Mountainy Freshness™ was in the air.

But, by then it would be too late.

So, you know, my advice to the Rich is this: keep your windows open and don't trust the Snuggle bear.


Friday, November 11, 2005

date night

I'm really looking forward to tonight. See, tonight Amanda and I are heading out on the town to a night of dinner and a movie. The dinner: North Beach Pizza. The movie: Chicken Little (for lack of anything else).

And I have to say, I guess there's an odd little part of me that's kinda' surprised that we're going out on a date tonight. Not that there's anything wrong with our relationship that would prevent us from going on a date. Entirely the opposite. Here we are 5 and a half years into our relationship and things are stronger and better than ever. And I guess on one level it's that success that surprises me.

See, I think my surprise comes from not really having any sort of relationship role models to from which to judge a successful relationship. My parents divorced after 24 years together. But, they fought like crazy for about 20 of those years.

Then again, I also found out lately that they got married after only knowing each other for 5 weeks. Ridiculous. The fact that they stuck together for 24 years is insane, in light of that fact.

Still, from what I knew growing up, a long term relationship wasn't one full of romance (or even kindness, for that matter). But, here Amanda and I are five plus years into this wonderful relationship and it just keeps getting better. Our trust strengthens each year. Our understanding of each other strengthens each year. It's just ... nice. Peaceful. Secure.

And as much as I hate to say it, none of those are really adjectives that I ever really associated with long term relationships before. To me, people growing happily old together was a Hollywood creation based on a myth left over from the 1950s. Sure, it's what I always wanted. Did I really know if I'd find it at all? No. Was I cynical? Yes.

But here it is and I treasure it. I find that the older I get and the longer I'm lucky enough to be with Amanda, the more life surprises me with how generally nice it can be. The TV myths of life, love, and the pursuit of happiness don't seem like myths anymore, but doofy reflections of what I now know can actually exist.

And I'm glad to know it.

So, here's hoping everyone out there can have a nice weekend with someone special. Hug somebody. Or if you can't do that, call somebody. It's a good weekend for it.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

speaking of calls ...

This is why people don't like automated phone systems. Sometimes they do things like this:

My cellphone bites. It broke a while ago in a couple of different ways (through no fault of my own, mind you) and I've put off getting it fixed after hearing about some Cingular Repair Service horror stories from my brother. Well, while procrastinating, my phone continues to be a big pain in the ass for both Amanda and I.

So, I finally decided to try and get it fixed. First, I looked up all of the info online and tried to do their automated online repair service. After the website refused to recognize my phone's serial number, it told me to call the automated line.

So, I called, I hit "1" for English, and then I wait through a LONG speech about how I should call the same number I just called if I'm calling from my broken phone. Eventually, I was asked to enter my Wireless Phone number. No prob. Seems like a okay system so far. I enter my number and it tells me that it's directing me to an agent.

The thing is, it doesn't. It directs me to a new "Welcome to Cingular's Blah Blah Blah System" part of the phone tree. I then have to sit through the same "If you're a moron and calling from your broken phone" message that I heard the first time. After that, we get down to business:

If you're calling because of something or other, press 1 (I can't remember).
If you're calling because your phone has been exposed to liquid or some other sort of physical damage to your wireless handheld phone, press 2.
For all other questions regarding inoperative wireless handheld phones, please press three.

Now ... I'm thinking "This kinda' sucks, but at least it seems to be taking some pertinent information from me and we seem to be getting somewhere." So, I hit "3."

It then asks me to enter my phone number again. Now I'm starting to get pissed. This is just wasting my time and I've already done this.

But, whatever. It's a roadblock. So, I enter the number (again) and wait.

And wait.

And am finally told that I'm being transferred to the first available agent (again). Once more, I'm waiting.

Then, out of nowhere, I get a rapid busy signal and the thing hangs up on me.

Awful, terrible system. It wasted my time, it got me angry, and it didn't get me any closer to fixing my phone problem. Worst of all, I know that I have to call back and go through it again just to try and have the phone fixed still.


just got the call

My sister just called to say "I just passed my Permit Test!!" : )

So, except for not being able to find her Social Security card and needing to get a replacement, my sister is now able to drive.

I can't wait until Christmas when she can chauffeur Manda and I around Philly. Mwahahahaha...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

the well-oiled machine

Last night, I joined Amanda down in Santa Clara where she was managing a vote collecting station for the Registrar of Voters (RoV). (For those not in CA, we had a special election yesterday.)

I really enjoyed myself and was thoroughly impressed with a number of things.

First of all, Amanda's a great leader. She was the manager of the entire operation last night. Her crew was largely hand-picked by her from people she knows from work, home, etc. and - as far as I understand it - her crew was also largely brand new to working for the RoV. Regardless of having 15 or so completely inexperienced people milling frantically around with a County's votes, everything went smoothly. There weren't any problems - big or little - and everyone seemed to always know what it was they were supposed to do. Manda handled it all quickly, efficiently, and professionally. I'm very proud of her. It's rare that I get to see her in any kind of a work situation. I'm really glad I had that opportunity last night.

Secondly, I was really impressed with how organized the entire Registrar of Voters machine is. I've never given the process of voting much thought before: mark the sheet, put it in the privacy sleeve, slide it into the box. That was the end of my involvement and the end of my apparent interest in what happens to my vote. As far as I knew, the box itself counted all of the votes.

Anyway, it was cool to see more of the process. Confidential bags of votes come in, things get sorted into different piles, all of the precincts are tracked on a big white board, lots of people are working in well-organized collaboration to get everything sorted into the right areas before the votes are then trucked off again to a larger sorting location. All along the way, there are people with specific jobs handling very small, very specific tasks. And yet, it's in combination that all of these little tasks get everyone's votes delivered into the right hands.

The last few elections have gone a long way towards doing their best to disenfranchise me and make me loose all faith in the democratic process. Last night reversed that a great deal. Or, I guess you could say, franchised me?

Anyway, it was a good night. Rooni, thanks for asking me to be involved.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

maybe those Subway schmoes really are artists

Coming from Philadelphia as I do, I feel I know something about what makes a good sandwich and what doesn't. It's probably crossed the line long ago into some kind of sandwich-snobbery; but it's who am I and I can't fight it.

Over the last two weeks or so, I've been packing my lunches for work and it's common for people to ask me what I'm eating. So far, it's been mostly peanut butter. I either have peanut butter and banana (note: not fried a la The King) or peanut butter and grape jelly.

Unfortunately, this lead today to a discussion of some of the nastiest sandwiches I've ever heard of that other people seem to enjoy. Sure, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff isn't my thing, but it isn't ridiculous. Nor is peanut butter and Nutella. But ...

- peanut butter and lettuce?
- peanut butter and dill pickles?
- peanut butter and salami?
- peanut butter and Miracle Whip?
- peanut butter and tuna?
- peanut butter and Cheese Whiz?
- pepperoni and jelly? (Ben, you're gross.)

Those are all an affront to the very Sandwich name.

Monday, November 07, 2005

tell it on the

This morning, Ry sent me a link to a Church Sign Generator. Funny stuff. You can basically just type in whatever you want and it'll toss it up on a virtual church sign for all in your little suburban town to see.

After playing around with it for a little while, here are the best I could come up with:



And my favorite so far:

Good stuff.

Friday, November 04, 2005

visiting an old friend

Today I had the opportunity to stop by and visit with a friend I haven't seen in a few years. Her name is Claire Clay and she was murdered just over two years ago. I feel terrible that I haven't been able to visit her grave before now; but at least I finally was able to pay my respects.

Claire was horribly murdered at the age of 25. It's just so incredibly tragic. I don't know of many other people I've met in my life who were even a tenth as vibrant and full of life as Claire. She touched a lot of people's lives and was a teacher at the time of her death. It just makes me angry that she was taken from those kids. Everyone who met Claire was better off for it.

Take, for instance, my mom. My mom has had a dream for years of opening up a Performing Arts venue where local people can perform and showcase their talents in the suburban Philly area. It's a wonderfully generous dream and so in keeping with her giving nature that it's no wonder we call her "Mother to the World."

About ten years ago, Claire organized a performing arts cafe in our high school that would perform on Friday nights and gave all of the school's underground and underexposed talent a showcase to have a voice of their own. I can't express to you how much this meant to my mom. She'd always liked Claire, but here was this sign to her that she was doing the right thing. Claire was a huge source of inspiration to my mom. Even as I write this entry, Claire's framed picture hangs on my mom's wall in her office as a memorial and a reminder of her incredibly inspirational spirit.

Now, one thing my mom has been doing recently is organizing trips for Western dancers to travel to Poland for an international Dance festival. It's been progressing over the last two years and the ball is really starting to roll. Now, over the last two years, she has been trying to organize a University affiliation with a particular woman at a particular university here in Pennsylvania. She's been contacting her off and on for two years without much success.

Today, my mom and I visited Claire's grave. When we walked up, we both said our hellos and then my mom kissed her fingers and touched them to a picture of Claire that sits beside the grave. No sooner does she do this than her phone rings.

It was the woman she had been calling for two years with the news that it looks like my mom will get her university affiliation and a huge influx of students interested in the trip to Poland.

I'm not a religious guy. But ... I don't know. I would love to believe that Claire was looking out for my mom at that moment. My mom thanked Claire profusely after that and cried on my shoulder, telling me how happy she was that Claire was still helping her with her dreams. I got pretty choked up too at that moment.

When my mom wasn't looking, I turned around, thanked Claire and then - with a wink - flicked a booger onto the grave of the person across from her.

I think Claire would have liked me messing with her neighbors.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

wagons east

Tomorrow I'm off to Philly for a few days to celebrate my sister's birthday with her. She turns 16 and we're gonna try and teach her how to drive. : )

Or, you know, start to teach her how to drive. So long as I'm not the one in charge of teaching her how to renew her registration, she should be fine.

I'll blog if I get a chance. If not, I'll be back on Monday.

Have a good week, everyone.

By the way, is it just me? Or does it not make any sense that "blog" isn't in Blogger's spellcheck?