Friday, January 30, 2009

I Found Out Where I Work

As I've mentioned before, I work in a newly created department. This gave me the opportunity to create my own title independent from managerial oversight. The result is that my cubicle is clearly marked "Dark Lord of Citrix - Master of Policies both Corporeal and Necromantic".
And for months, that has worked just fine.
When I was hired, I was given a number of different accounts which were all associated with my name for various different systems.
I have a regular account and an administrative account with extra rights. I also have an account in the training system and an account on the mainframe which trumps everything.
What I had never known is that that mainframe account is linked with my job description as officially documented by payroll.
And what I also didn't know, until it was brought to my attention by a co-worker Thursday morning, is that I don't actually work in the department I've been working in.
I do not work in "Technical Services", as I had come to believe.
I work in "Tactical Services".
This is not a typo, since the other security guy was hired months after I was and has the same description.
You may be thinking exactly what I was thinking when I heard I was assigned to "Tactical Services":
"What the hell does that even mean?"
I can answer that with a resounding, "I have no idea".
I do know that it sounds completely awesome, almost as if my job were blended with that of ninjas or some highly trained special forces squad. Or maybe both.
I also know that apparently I haven't been kicking anywhere near enough ass, day-to-day, to merit belonging to an organization called "Tactical Services".
I spent the afternoon answering the phone "Tactical Services, we never had this conversation."
I also told a manager that if we didn't stop getting reports of issues from Michigan users I was going to let them know that "Tactical Services is about to go Proactive on their asses."
This went over better than you might expect, probably because no one sends Tactical Services to visit HR. Tactical Services doesn't roll that way.

In exciting other news, I'm staying up until midnight on Saturday to shave/scrub this scraggly crap off my face to mark the end of Manuary.
I would take a picture to share, but Shana's 10 megapixel Canon doesn't pick up enough fine detail to really capture the hair on my face.

Agent G
Tactical Services

"And womp rat might taste like pumpkin pie, but
I'll never know, 'cause I'll never eat the dirty mother*&!%#." - Mace Windu

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I know you love pictures, internetz, so I have a couple to share.

First, this one is a picture of my new giant coffee mug. I bought it for me, but I took a picture of it and posted it on the internetz specifically for Joe.

Since it is a crappy blurry cellphone picture, I'll clarify that the text reads:

Gorilladin - I'll Just Tank The D@mn Things Myself

I love this mug so hard!

Hi, Joe!

Also, I used an online picture editor to crank out your new desktop wallpaper: can do the same for you, but why bother when I've given you this one already?

Finally, we get to the point.
Whenever a major corporation tries to market to the Geek Community through the use of geek terminology, they fail.
Documenting this failure, distilled into a luminous matrix of mockery, is possibly the main reason this blog exists.
Kentucky Fried Chicken recently attempted to capture the geek market watching Battlestar Galactica. To do this, they created a sweepstakes titled the "Frak Pack".

I think you can win a year's worth of fried chicken, which is possibly fatal, though that's not the really funny part.
The joke is that they obviously had no idea that "Frak" is the TV substitute for another four-letter word beginning with "F", and that the translation of "Frak Pack" is extremely amusing to anyone with the sense of humor of a fifth grader. In other words, their entire target audience.
Someone obviously told them what it meant, though, since they rebranded.
If they had taken this new knowledge and renamed the contest the "Frak Bucket", this post would have been in the form of an epic poem of tribute to the glory of KFC.
However, they did this, and in the process demoted the "Frakkin' Awesome Fans" to the just "Awesome Fans".
While we are at it, KFC, no one is ever going to believe "Kitchen Fresh Chicken" is your actual name. Embrace the "Fried"! No one eating there thinks it is health food.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For The Children

One of the methods the makers of World of Warcraft use to keep over eleven million people hopelessly addicted to it is the use of world events.
For example, May features Children's Week, where players can temporarily adopt an orphan from their capitol city's orphanage and drag them around for a while.
For the rest of the year, these orphans just mill around the orphanage.
At the end of the week, if all went well, the player got some reward.
The latest incarnation of this mechanic involves a title related for participating in all the varied event activities for each world event.
The Hallows Eve festival awarded the title "The Hallowed". The Feast of Winter Veil gave players "The Merrymaker".
Currently, The Lunar Festival is in full swing in Azeroth, so players are wandering all over the game world meeting "Elders", with specific Elders needed in order to have fully participated for credit.
Webinara is all about that.
So far, she is hovering at about 80% complete. Most of the Elders are located in pretty easy to reach locations.
Some are deep inside dungeons, and Webinara is getting to those.
The last three are in the capitol cities of the opposing faction, which means that accessing them requires a very uncomfortable possibility that town guards and other players will take the opportunity to kill Webinara (a lot) while she is about this.
On Monday night, during peak server time, Webinara went after the Elder in Stormwind, the main Alliance city.
It did not go well.
The process went in stages. Webinara would take off all her equipment to keep the blood stains off it, travel in as far as she could get, then get killed.
Then, she would return to her body as a ghost, resurrect, run a little further, and get killed again. Horribly.
After about half an hour, a friend from my guild noticed where Webinara was:

Mairick - Hey Webinara, are you raiding Stormwind?

Webinara - Not exactly. I'm trying to get the stupid Lunar Festival achievement.

Mairick - How does the Alliance feel about that?

Webinara - Considering I'm dead and naked in the town square, I think they are cool with it at the moment.

Mairick - You know, you could just not do it.

Webinara - What?

And so Webinara continued. Resurrect, die, run back, repeat.

Webinara - I hate this place. I'm killing the king while I'm here.

Mairick - You need a full raid group for that. In fact, you need a really good full raid group.

Webinara - In that case, I'm killing their orphans.

There was stunned silence in Guild Chat for a moment.
Then there were offers to come help me. Sure, I could have used help getting to the boring old Elder, but I did not. Once I started talking about killing the computer-driven, non-player, pixel-based, parentless children of the opposing faction, I could not send out party invitations fast enough.
For the record, while they do just mill around the orphange for 51 weeks out of the year, the orphans react amazingly poorly to a Hunter's explosive trap.
And Webinara totally met the Elder, too, but it was anti-climactic.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Solving For 'T'

The debate again turned ugly:
How much sugar is in the cafeteria's sweet tea?
I shared the picture late last year.
I've since had to actually set that image as the background on my phone since it is regularly submitted as evidence that there is "too damn much" sugar in the tea.
It is important to note that I do not drink the tea, anyway.
However, the row of cubicles I sit on is completely polarized by the issue.
If there was a project number associated with a heated debate about the amount of sugar per ounce in the sweet tea in the cafeteria, I would have had to bill at least six hours to working the issue last week.
We made a trip over to the building where the photo was taken and measured the shelf where the pitcher was sitting in an attempt to calculate the volume of the container.
And we did research into altitude's effects on sugar saturation in relation to the temperature of the tea in the photo. Freshly brewed, tea is hot. There have been unconfirmed reports, however which lead us to believe that this tea is actually from concentrate, which throws any attempt at math into the realm of pure conjecture. If the temperature of a saturated solution is lowered, the solution will become supersaturated and will tend to throw out the excess of sugar above the saturation point until the sugar solution reaches a new saturation point. Conversely, if the temperature of a saturated sugar solution is raised, the solution becomes undersaturated and will dissolve additional sugar until it becomes saturated again. When a certain amount of water is removed from the saturated sugar solution by evaporation, the solution becomes supersaturated, and the excess of sugar above the saturation point will crystallize, provided the conditions are appropriate. Such conditions are either a footing of crystal sugar or a degree of supersaturation sufficient to establish the grain spontaneously. Above the saturation point of sugar solutions, there are three zones; the metastable, the intermediate, and the labile zone. In the metastable zone, existing crystals grow but no new ones are formed. In the intermediate zone, new crystals are formed in the presence of existing crystals. In the labile zone, crystals are formed spontaneously without the presence of others.
My position has always been that the tea is super-heated before the dry sugar is added. The mixture is then added to an opaque container where it cools. The bottom of this container is, according to my theory, a forest of sugar crystals which grows larger with every batch of tea, slowly decreasing the amount of liquid which this container can hold.
We contacted the managers of both cafeterias to inquire about the amount of sugar in the tea.
While they work for different companies and from different cookbooks, the answer in both cases was "two cups of sugar per gallon of tea."
I refuse to argue over whether or not two cups per gallon is too much sugar in the tea. My case has always been that the volume of the tea container is shrinking due to the presence of tea-flavored rock candy in the bottoms of the carafes, while the sugar amount added with every fresh batch has remained constant with no regard to the relation to the factory-standard liquid volume of said containers.
Additionally, I maintain that the "two cups" added to the mixture every batch is, in reality, 16 ounces with no distinction made for the difference between liquid and troy ounces. Their two cups, converted back and forth from ounces, comes out to ~2.015 cups. This isn't scientific at all.
The tea-crafting process employs a technique which is repeatable at first glance, but impossible upon closer examination due to the ever decreasing volume within the sweet tea urn.
Most importantly, any argument at work which forces me to bring the science is a completely repeatable recipe for disaster.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Work Stuff

Last week there was a user having some issues with our new technology.
Since he uses a Mac at home, his issue was routed to me with the instruction from my manager to "Make it work".
A scan of the documented issue led me to believe that he didn't have a piece of vital software installed on his Mac, so I sent the following message to update the trouble ticket.
The responses follow, though I've removed identifying information for the purposes of maintaining employment.

------------------( Forwarded letter 1 follows )---------------------

From: Garrick
Sent: Friday, January 23, 2009 9:59 AM
To: CHRISTINA (Redacted)
Cc: DAVID (Redacted)
Subject: RE:PL# 1174 Bundle WorkRequest PL2320 STATUS I/S Research OPENBY (Redacted)

It looks like he doesn't have the client installed.
Downloads for various version of the Mac OS can be downloaded here:

Also, with a Mac, right-clicking in a Citrix or Windows remote session calls for the key sequence fn+alt+click. Which is much easier than using a two-button mouse, in my opinion.

Seriously, if he has trouble getting it to work after installing the client please let me know and I'll walk him though (getting giggled at on the Mac Help forums).

Thanks in advance for unsubscribing me,


Perfectly reasonable, right? I offered a user-driven solution, a complete (if totally insincere) offer to continue to assist, and a request that I not be included in future communications regarding this matter.
This was the response I got:

------------------( Forwarded letter 2 follows )---------------------
From: CHRISTINA (Redacted)

To: GARRICK (Redacted)
cc: DAVID (Redacted)
Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2009 11:28:10 -0500
Subject: RE: RE:PL# 1174 Bundle WorkRequest PL2320 STATUS I/S Research OPENBY (Redacted)
X-HDT-HopCount: 1

I have passed this information on to Mr.(Redacted) along with Garrick's desk, cell and home phone numbers. I also included Garrick's physical home address with directions.

Thank you!

Christina (Redacted)
Test Designer, G&A Project Management Office
(Company Name Deleted)

Was I to just let that go? I suppose I could have. The high road just doesn't show up on my ethical GPS:

------------------( Forwarded letter 3 follows )---------------------

Date: Friday, 23 January 2009 11:43am ET
To: CHRISTINA (Redacted)
Cc: DAVID (Redacted)
From: GARRICK (Redacted)
Subject: RE: RE:PL# 1174 Bundle WorkRequest PL2320 STATUS I/S Research OPENBY (Redacted)

Nicely played.

I've just subscribed your work email address to several non-confirmation art-focused email distribution lists covering such diverse topics as:

"Loving the Homeless", An Art Project in Picture and Video
"Geriatric Nude Beach: Oiled Subjects" (Digital Photography)


Hans Hofferstein's Ground breaking Performance Piece: "I've hidden a brownie somewhere on my person and if you can find it I'll split it with you" performed on the Washington DC Public Transit system.

For the arts!!!


Friday, January 23, 2009

South Carolina Is Ruining Manuary

I made the request over dinner a few nights ago.
We need to see Outlander, together, as a family.
There is no more manly possibility for a film, really.
I mean, it has vikings. It has intense viking battle scenes. And it has a giant alien monster upon which is heaped copious amounts of unfiltered viking rage.
They loved it in Spain during the European release, and Spain is not traditionally really into viking sci-fi epics. Additionally, the Spanish are among the least annoying of the European people.
Finally, it has found some form of distribution here in the USA, possibly thanks to the Obama administration, and it opens tonight.
On, apparently, eleven screens nation-wide.
Unfortunately, none of those screens is in South Carolina. I'd drive us all to Myrtle Beach for this. Or Charleston.
I'd even risk limited contact with those dirty North Carolina chicken thieves and attend a showing in Charlotte.
It is apparently not meant to be.
I'm hoping the DVD release is soon. And I'm hoping that somehow the DVD itself is larger than a standard DVD, since it should be.
A standard DVD (even Blu-Ray) should not be able to contain a movie filled with vikings and space monsters.
People that have heard of this movie have argued about the realism of the plot, thinking that vikings, when confronted with a strange visitor from outer space (James Caviezel) who asks them for help in defeating an alien menace, would react with open hostility born of fear of the unknown.
However, we must remember that the vikings met all kinds of strange people and encountered cultures of many kinds before pillaging them into smoldering ruins along most of the inhabited coastlines of the world.
They would not have feared the unknown. They likely would have lit the unknown on fire and eaten it.
While I haven't seen Outlander, I can only assume that James Caviezel's character is forced to out-pillage the vikings themselves in order to earn their trust.
Then, they fight a space monster.
In summary, Outlander could possibly be the manliest movie ever filmed.
It could far more easily suck.
I would take the chance in honor of Manuary. I've already grown the full beard of a proud thirteen-year-old viking warrior. Or seventeen-year-old viking warrior maiden.

I'll have shaved before it comes out on DVD. Or at least scrubbed really hard so most of the hair comes off.

It just came to my attention that (in addition to not having a theatre that will show Outlander) South Carolina actually has a state senator who is trying to ban profanity.
Please note that if you find the comments on the article inappropriate you can report them.
On the actual article about censorship.
I'd comment myself, but I'm too pretty to risk a 5-year prison sentence.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Science Education

I got to do a little consulting work on my daughter's science project. She is covering some of the stuff that light does, and my input was pretty much limited to "More sparkles! More sparkles! What? You think we are entering some kind of national glitter shortage?"
But I had the opportunity to go through Gwynyth's science book, too.
The book is titled originally enough "South Carolina Science", and the first chapter on evolution included this charming graphic:

Yes. That is Jesus riding a dinosaur.
Probably a baby dinosaur. It is adorable.
I decided to find out what other things I could discover in the world of South Carolina Science.
Pluto = Not a planet.
Fine. A lot of people seem to make a big deal about that, though.
Pluto has a lot of planet-like stuff going for it. It's got Earth beat for number of moons, for instance.
It orbits the same star we do.
It rotates to experience a night and a day cycle.
But there are distinctions which make a lot of nerds behave a little hatefully toward it.
It was only first officially documented in 1930 after hiding from astronomers for a quarter century, which probably pissed them off to begin with.
Also, it is small. The small are almost always picked on mercilessly. It is the way of nerds and the way of the cool kids.
But really, I think the whole matter is actually none of our business.
What Pluto is or isn't is between Pluto and Charon and Nix and Hydra.
It isn't like Pluto is coming into my living room and making my child watch it be a planet with its moon. Pluto seems pretty content just staying out of the way of the more mainstream planets.
It should be afforded the same rights as those planets, though, since some of those aren't really shining examples of planetness.
Jupiter? Giant ball of gas.
Mercury isn't one to judge based on size, either.
The least we can do, while we are slapping labels on things, is to make them all read the same thing.
Calling Pluto a planet doesn't make Earth an irregular-shaped lump of frozen methane.
At least I hope it doesn't.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Manuary Foods

The key to maintaining this kind of testosterone level for an entire month is diet. Man foods are not gentle foods. Man foods are not about nutrition at all, really.
The purpose of man food is to inform the digestive system, in no uncertain terms, who makes the decisions around here.
Fruit salad, however high in anti-oxidants, is totally out of the question.
Tofu would end Manuary harshly and institute a two-year ban on future Manuary participation.
You won't see me eating quiche until February, if ever.
The important food groups are limited to hard liquor and hot wings, which I enjoyed last night.
When one combines necessary hot wings with an irrational panic disorder involving getting "stuff" on one's hands, the event births a cycle of misery unheralded in the storied history of Manuary.
Hot wings are good. Seriously good.
But I pathologically can't do messy foods.
Rather than collapse from starvation, I muscled through some crazy delicious wings last night.
Then I spent half an hour at the kitchen sink, sobbing and soaping and scrubbing and inspecting and scrubbing again.
This morning the newly exposed layers of skin shrieked pain into my raw nerve endings as I glovelessly ventured forth into air which was, according to my car thermometer and, nineteen freaking degrees.
For serious.
Thus, manliness is wrestled from the hyena-like jaws of a panic attack.
My next wings experience, however, will be enjoyed from within the plastic embrace of kitchen gloves.
Just to save time.
Because sometimes Manuary is about efficiency. And sometimes it is about not crying over the sink.
Not all the time, but most of the time.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This morning I caught a glimpse outside the window in the kitchen as I was stumbling through to start the coffee brewing process.
For a second, I thought I was back in Houston due to what my brain interpreted as a fine rain of ash from a refinery fire.
Houston picked up the name "The Bayou City" in the 1930s in an attempt to remove an association with the word "Canal" after a string of mysterious canal fires darkened the sky over the downtown area for over a month, killing vegetation and driving the long-horned pigeon into extinction.
But this was not the old familiar ash storm of home.
It was snow.
Enough to close schools and paralyze the city. In other words, "a light dusting".
Traffic had slowed to a crawl and I still managed to park closer to the door than I have since I started working here.
The window behind my cubicle is packed with people watching the snow continue to spatter the pavement. They are talking about snow storms of winters from years gone by and whether this snow storm fails in comparison.
The consensus is that it does.

In other news, behold my first ever piece of officially licensed NFL swag:

Someone has to be a fan of the Detroit Lions and it may as well be me.
In this image you can also see the side of my face with the most hair on it.
. . .
But the jacket! The jacket kicks the ass of all jackets which refuse to pick a team!
They sold exactly four of these jackets for the 2008 season. One is mine and the other three are owned by people who coach or used to coach the Detroit Lions.
I like the thought of being a fan of a team I could actually possibly help by taking the field and improving some statistics. Seems proactive.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Still Trying To Appear Manly

However, the very forces of nature are working against me.
As I type this, it is twenty degrees in Columbia, South Carolina.
Unfortunately, I'm in Columbia, South Carolina.
I like words. You may have noticed that I like them a lot.
Putting them in different arrangements and playing them off each other is something which gives me joy.
I like knowing what words mean when I read them or hear them. I like trying to come up with creative uses for them.
I enjoy being able to put words into an order which describes something I'm trying to communicate.
The clever use of language is what separates us from animals. Well, that and thumbs. Except for monkeys.
In the case of monkeys the separation comes down to whether or not poo is flung.
Actually, I'm pretty sure you can find stuff on the internet which would put that distinction into question as well.
With monkeys, words are the key area of distinction.
Unless the monkeys know sign language.
Maybe if they do it comes down to body hair.
You know, I'm not a biologist.
The point is, possibly large portions of my brain have frozen solid, but as I thaw over coffee I become more and more certain of one thing.
It is impossible to describe twenty degrees in any way which does not consist entirely of repetitive and hysterical profanity.

I still haven't shaved, but last night I was at work late with three guys on my team. Two of them have full beards.
When they asked about my not shaving I told them it is Manuary.
They pressed for details, "But you shave this part, right?" with a gesture to the cheek and jawline.
"But there isn't any hair there. It looks like you wax your face."
"Yeah, I can't explain that. There is some hair there if you look real close."
Then another co-worker came to my defense and said that he had family members that also couldn't really grow facial hair.
"Of course," he added,"They are all women."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Manuary Open Letter

Dear Family,

Since I had so little time to respond after the original incident in question, I will do so here, on the internetz, for Manuary.
I'm sorry I was so late in picking you up the other night. I had no idea they locked the doors of that grocery store at 10pm.
However, I've done some research and in spite of your assertions the rate of violent crime in that zipcode is not too far above the national average.
Had I noticed the freezing rain I may have made a different decision. But probably not.
You see, what you guys failed to take into account during all the accusations about my being "addicted" to World of Warcraft and the "accidental" immersion of my gaming mouse in the toilet in the guest bathroom is that I was in the middle of the Culling of Stratholme event. Had I not been there the whole time killing all the zombies our group would have failed.
See? Group.
Four other people were depending on me right then, and four is more than two. I'm not even mentioning the citizens of Azeroth.
As Spock (one of the smartest guys in science fiction television ever) once said, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". You guys were just too few that night.
What was the group supposed to do? Get a Warlock? Some Retribution Paladin? That's just silly and I'm trying to keep this letter as reasonable as possible.
It isn't like I'm completely without blame here, though.
Shana, I should never have posted those photoshopped pictures of you on the guild forums. I had no idea it would get so out of hand.
I also didn't fully appreciate the intricate network of Facebook friends we share, so I was as surprised as you when those same pictures turned up other places.
On the bright side, you hated that job anyway. Right?
And let's remember the times when I dropped everything and helped out when you needed it.
I find it odd that when I was running Utgarde Keep, the very dungeon that contains the epic crossbow I'd been "talking about for weeks non-stop", happened to be the exact same time Gwynyth was having whatever it was we went to the emergency room for.
You guys refused to even wait for us to finish the last boss fight.
There is no Wi-Fi in the waiting room. And I'm no healer.
There was no reason for me to sit there the whole time for "emotional support."
For the record, Gwynyth is fine. Lots of people lead rich and rewarding lives with a single kidney.
The important thing right now is that I have an as-yet-unreleased raid instance to prepare for.
The guild is gathering crafting materials for our big push into Ulduar and I have to do my part.
The honor of the Horde is at stake. We can't have gnomes beat us to the endgame. Again.
So, while I understand and respect that you guys need me, the guild and the Horde just need me more right now.
I'm glad I've had the chance to get this all off my chest.
If you remember, the last time we discussed this I spent most of the conversation cowering in fear in the corner, curling up in the tightest little ball ever in order to protect all my soft-tissue spots.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why Sports?

Manuary stubbles ever onward.

I've always been impressed when people can rattle off theory about sports they don't actually play and quote statistics from seasons long ended. I'm impressed at the long-term memory space allocated to this and the enthusiasm and genuine passion of the authentic fan.
I have always thought it was a lot like the comic book fan being able to tell you Venom's origin story through Marvel Secret Wars and through the storyline in Ultimate Spiderman, contrasting each and analyzing the inherent core struggle in both tales.
For the record, in the first it is (Spider)Man vs Nature, the second (Spider)Man vs Himself.
But sports . . . The conflict is generally Team vs Team. The scores change, and the number of meters passing in a single match and stuff like that, but why is there such passion in discussing the every tiny detail and associated theory-craft?
Yesterday I was in a meeting in another building and we began to discuss certain processes. These particular processes, which I will not articulate due to the inevitable rant which will follow such articulation, are kind of a sore point with me.
These processes invariably lead me to wonder exactly how much I need to drink in the evening to make it all okay. I have not found the amount yet, but I'm still trying. There is no giving up in Manuary.
The person running the meeting sensed my agitation, though, and asked if I'd rather talk about something else.
One of the guys on my team offered the suggestion that whenever he doesn't want to talk about something in a meeting he leads the conversation over to either the South Carolina or Clemson game (depending on the audience) and then just dozes off for a little while during the ensuing discussion.
At first, I thought it could never work.
Who gets sidetracked by "Hey! Look over there!"?
However, even his mention that a sports reference might derail a meeting was followed by an animated analysis of the season for both teams and opinions on the coaching staff.
I still thought it was a fluke.
Then my eyes started to glaze over like they do during most sports discussions and I began to read the whiteboard notes left by the people who had the conference room before we did.
There was a flowchart for some project. There was also a list of deliverables and timelines and a responsibility matrix.
Next to that was the score of the South Carolina vs Clemson basketball game.
There was nothing after that note, the meeting having obviously broken down for play-by-play analysis.
If memorizing a few thousand numbers is all it would take to make the bad meetings go away, I can definitely see the point.
Sports, when applied correctly, can keep us from discussing things which make us annoyed or uncomfortable. For example, our feelings.

For the record, all my feelings for the month of Manuary have been replaced with "face itching".

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some Home Improvement Tips

Sometimes removing a light fixture to replace it with another (more awesome) light fixture can result in a large portion of a wall needing to be replaced.
Especially when it turns out the old light fixture was apparently a "load-bearing" type previously unknown to construction science.
My opinions on the how charming exposed brick can be seem to be largely irrelevant in this matter.
Today, the living room is being painted. We picked a warm and inviting tan for that room and bought three gallons because that managed to consume all of the appropriate base for the color that happened to be in stock.
Last night I went to another paint store to pick up the fourth gallon. When I requested that it be made in Base #3 like the other three gallons, the person helping me became confused.
The computer told him it was strictly a Base #2 kind of color. He assured me that mixing it in a Base #3 would result in an entirely different kind of brown, and he was right. It was way darker than the sample.
I called home and asked Shana to verify the base number on the side of the can and she confirmed that all three other gallons were Base #3. She did not have a paint sample to check with.
Not wanting to bring home paint that did not match, I loaded up the new paint and brought it home to discover that it was quite a bit darker than the other containers.
I spent possibly too much time trying to figure out how to make it work.
Then I loaded two gallons (one old and the new one, both clearly marked as Base #3) back into the car and headed across town to the paint store again.
Going by the formula printed on the sticker on the top of the more recent can of paint, they exactly matched another gallon of the wrong brown.
The labels were checked again.
Then help was called.
Several other employees confirmed that identical formulas in identical bases were mixing into two different colors. This action did not help me.
It was also confirmed a number of times that the computer suggested Base #2 was in order, in spite of the Base #3 gallon in my possession which was the correct color.
A gallon of Base #2 was mixed. It matched the sample.
For some time after that, more employees than I thought could possibly have worked there came to read the labels and peer, perplexed, into the various gallons of paint.
But, eventually, I was permitted to leave with my mis-matched but matched paints.
There are some things which fall into my comfort zone, things which I feel, generally, equipped to handle.
Removing light fixtures and buying paint are officially off that list until further notice.
Moving forward, I'm planning to embrace my strengths.
This afternoon I will be building a fortress out of couch cushions and a blanket.
And I will find refuge in it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Somewhat Safe For Work Pictures

Manuary. It makes me both not shave and strive to take things apart.
On the whole not-shaving front, someone asked me Friday if I'd forgotten to shave that morning.
The fact that I hadn't shaved since the evening of the 27th was just too sad to admit, so I just nodded. And flexed a little.

But there was stuff to do around the house over the weekend.
Since every surface is being painted, it seemed like the ideal time to pull down the old light fixtures.

I went out and rented a tool belt for the occasion. It holds Shana's tape measure and screwdriver set quite nicely.
While I deftly removed the old light fixtures, I have yet to convince Shana of the environmental good we can do by not having electric lights in the bathroom at all.
The new fixtures are heavy and don't fit the old holes in the wall at all. I may have to Google something about sheetrock repair. Sooner rather than later.
Also, my Macbook Pro was making a fairly horrible noise and I decided that a bearing had failed in one of the internal fans.
Here is a picture of me replacing that fan:

This went slightly better, since my laptop still works and I can turn the screen to use the light to navigate the darkened bathroom.
I opted to continue to wear my safety headgear, because I'm all about safety.
However, and I hesitate to mention this because I'm not 100% certain how manly World of Warcraft is, I can't help but think of the kobolds whenever I wear it.

"You no take candle!"
That little guy seems better at the whole not-shaving thing, too.
And maybe he wants his candle so much because there are no electric lights in his bathroom.

I'm pressing forward anyway.
Itchy face first into the middle of Manuary!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Manuary Film Review

Without a doubt, John Carpenter gave us some great Manuary movies.
Sorcerer From Outer Space was an instant classic which gave him the credibility with the studios to push through with Escape From New York, The Thing and Christine.
But his greatest work is generally considered among manlier circles to be Big Trouble In Little China from 1986.
I picked up a copy last night since that was the most manly movie in stock. Anywhere.
For anyone who hasn't seen it, there may be spoilers below:

Wash Dies.

The lead character in Big Trouble In Little China is Jack Burton, played by Kurt Russell, was originally envisioned as a cowboy in a western set in the 1880's. Due to the focus on Chinese Mysticism in the plot and impending direct competition from Eddie Murphy's The Golden Child, it was updated in re-writes into a more modern tale. While Jack Burton was changed from a cowboy to a truck driver, he still carries most of his possessions in saddle bags to maintain his connection to the character's origins.
This martial arts action-comedy special effects master work is more than it would appear at first viewing, however.
Jack is a metaphor for America and everything which makes America better than Canada.
However, from the perspective of 2009, having Big Trouble In Little China set in 1986 is a lot like making it a period piece for today.
We can't provide a frame of reference for the film without taking into account when it was made, and 1986 was a pretty awesome time to be in America.
The last foreign superpower was coughing out its vodka-scented last breaths and America was left alone at the top of the political dirt pile.
The fact that Jack Burton has little understanding of the foreign cultures and traditions he encounters and the fact that he bumbles about saying stupid things was not intended to be at all insulting. America pretty much does the same thing and it still turns out okay because America is The Good Guy.
Burton's trademark "It's all in the reflexes" articulates his aversion to planning anything, a stance which seems to be modeled on our own reactionary foreign affairs policies.
When he finds himself underground, literally, and surrounded by people with legends and histories which are strange to him, he does not adjust and adapt. He muscles through. Like America.
Damn right.
We don't plan for stuff when we storm a terrorist cell because planning is for girls. We leap in, cowboy boots and acid-washed jeans leading the way, intending to kick ass and doing just that.
Whether reflexes or long-term planning are more important as time goes on is not specifically addressed in Big Trouble In Little China until the last scene, which is all the more chilling when seen through the lens of recent modern history.
Whatever opinions you may have, it is a fact that Jack Burton is awesome enough to have carried Kurt Russell without significant damage right on through Overboard and Captain Ron.
This weekend a viewing of the film will be the highlight of the South Carolina Manuary Film Festival, which is being held at my house. Popcorn and sarcasm will be provided, but the event is BYOB.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Manuary Is Like Riding A Pony

Except the pony is 300 feet tall and covered in chainsaws.
Normally, I skate by. I'm plenty manly enough to take care of most of the requirements of manliness in any given month.
Manuary is all about taking this a step further. A manly step, if possible.
In every man's life, there are three important decisions which must be made.
Once the options have been settled, these decisions can never, ever be reversed.
The first question which must be answered is "white meat or dark meat", regarding chicken. Once you pick a side, you can never go back and reallocate preference.
The second and third questions generally come up a little later.
Every man must pick a favorite professional baseball and football team. Even if they don't follow sports. Even if they totally don't understand the rules. Even if they don't know what time these games are even played, especially.
Sadly, these decisions are often made too early in life for proper thought to go into them.
If you select dark meat before discovering buffalo wings you are forever forced to completely enjoy the wrong kind of chicken meat.
If you pick a baseball team solely because you think the fans are hysterical, you end up being a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.
Trust me. I know both of these things first hand.
Fortunately for me, I semi-randomly selected a football team which has provided me with some wiggle room.
Having been born in Houston, Texas, it was an easy choice for me to pick the Oilers as my favorite football team. The fact that they sucked was irrelevant, because they are no more.
I looked up the rules regarding the selection of a dead franchise as a favorite team and there are two possibilities. I can either transfer my loyalty to the Tennessee Titans (who would do that?) or I can pick again.
As an adult, I get a do-over on a decision most Southern men are required to have in place before starting the first grade -- under pain of wedgie.
The sad thing is I know almost as little about professional football now as I did when I was five.
I have no time for research. This is Manuary, damn it!
Football is the pointy ball! That's all the information I need!
A quick glance at the interwebz shows me that . . . Hmmm . . . Maybe the Oilers stopped sucking.
No! No way!
I could pick Carolina . . . Because that is where I am now and all.
Or am I? Which Carolina, exactly, are they talking about? Is it the decent and peace-loving South Carolina or the wicked and chicken-thieving North Carolina?
I could look it up, I guess, but this is Manuary! Decisions are to be based entirely on emotions we are not permitted to express or admit to having!
"TBD" seems a sure bet for the Super Bowl. Who is that? Tampa Bay?
And it looks like they are the only team playing at all.
Florida can't even manage two competitors in a national election, so that makes sense, I guess.
Still. Florida?
Those people are likely to have prawns at tailgate parties, so that's out.
I need to pull up the records for the whole season, I guess.
In doing so, I can easily see that the largest streak for the year goes to the Detroit Lions. They lead the St. Louis Rams by six and everyone else by much more.
Consistency. I respect and appreciate it.
There are few things more manly than being bad at something and continuing to do it anyway, even if huge sums of money are at stake.
Also, I'm comforted knowing that were I to be drafted to play for the Detroit Lions, I could probably be a starter.
So, there we have it.
In honor of Manuary, my official favorite NFL team is the Detroit Lions.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Great Technological Strides In Parenting

As I've said many times, all this fun we are having just serves to amuse us as we blindly trudge towards the inevitable robot uprising and eventual total enslavement of the human race.
Be sure to cram in as much awesome as possible, since we are all completely doomed.
Our latest Manuary announcement is in the field of military/parenting research.
Apparently, the military is soliciting help creating a chat bot to stand in for parents deployed overseas for extended periods of time.
Targeted (as in demographics, not as in laser sight) at children aged 3-5, these avatars of missing parents should respond to questions in a realistic and nurturing manner.
Of course, the replacement of our families with robotic duplicates is fortunately never a nightmare suffered by children and there is absolutely no reason to believe it will result in adults who are drawn to machines and shun the contact of carbon-based life.
In fact, we should immediately be looking at civilian uses for this new military technology.
Nuclear power, GPS navigation and the very interwebz themselves all had their start with programs in the Department of Defense.
Clinging remora-like to Manuary, I'll go over a few ways this can only result in good things for us manly men.
This robotic pseudo-sentient creation can find all kinds of applications outside of comforting lonely children. Let's face it, we coddle kids way too much as it is.
A little isolation might just do them some good. And if missing Mommy and Daddy fills them with a little patriotic urge to follow their brave footsteps onto the field of battle, it can only be good for the economy.
Replacing myself with a robotic avatar at home would free me from family interaction time and allow me to pursue more man-oriented things.
I could lock myself in the garage with the shop vac and drink and grow my beard with little guilt knowing that my daughter was getting a pre-programmed "I love you" from someone who looks a little like me . . . If more sober and clean-shaven.
If this robot could clean out the cat box and drag the trash out on Monday nights (and the stupid recycling which I always forget on Friday morning) I would really have little reason to ever drag myself home from the bar/shooting range/deer stand/Hooter's.
Knowing there is a robo-me at home to instill values in my child and play with the cats could allow me to spend more time free-lifting at the gym and stopping at the local flea market to hone my rusting taxidermy skills.
Those squirrels aren't going to stuff themselves and then carefully arrange each other into amusing and/or obscene dioramas.
Of course, it may mean that eventually the next generation (soft as they are) could be manipulated into oppressing themselves under these cold and calculating robotic fiends, but even that has its upsides.
There hasn't been a decent zombie invasion in hundreds of years. Vampires and werewolves are obviously disinterested or they would totally be eating a lot of emo kids hanging out at Hot Topic at the mall just for making people less afraid of vampires and werewolves. Any aliens planning to invade seem to be not following through due to some fear of the common cold or, in some cases, fascination with the human ability to love.
As men, our only real chance at unleashing some serious action movie style violence is in our (undoubtedly doomed) uprising against the rightful silicon-based overlords of the Earth.
Now, if these robots are developed with the ability to grow facial hair and objectify women, I think we are in some serious trouble.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Stubble Continues

No, seriously.
You can totally almost see it.
And I stopped on the way home yesterday to buy a bottle of whiskey.
While I wish I could tell you it came in a plastic bottle and that I drank the whole thing over a dinner consisting entirely of beef, I can't.
Shana was impressed, though:



"You absolutely had to have a bottle of whiskey so you stopped on the way home?"

"You bet."

"And drinking it before five o'clock?"

"It's five o'clock somewhere, prolly."

"This is what you do now?"


Some people are being, possibly, more productive with their Manuary activities.
These people may not have purchased a giant cigar on their way home from work, but it is not my place to judge.
Look at Frank!
Our friend Frank is growing out his own facial hair to support the American Cancer Society.
You can fling money at him. There are worse places to fling it.
By the way . . . And I hope I'm not sharing too much . . . My prostate is in phenomenal shape, seriously.
Saw Palmetto and Zinc, my prostate-enabled friends, those are your keys to keeping everything in solid working order.
In fact, my prostate is probably the strongest muscle in my body right now. Or gland. Or whatever.
I could totally tow a car with my prostate, while drinking whiskey and chewing on a ginormous cigar.
That's just how I roll, internetz.
I've got to come up with more manly stuff to do. Lugging around this beard isn't exactly physically taxing.

Monday, January 05, 2009

In Which I Issue A Call To (In)action

Are you at work?
If you are, grab the URL for this post and email it to your personal address and take care of the associated action items from home.
However, Manuary rolls ever onward. For the record, I have not shaved. Seriously. If you use the correct light (something directional) at the perfect angle, it kind of looks like I may not have shaved. If you kind of let your eyes go out of focus.
On Friday, I enjoyed a fully wing-based diet followed by warm gin with a human hair in it.
On Saturday, I visited a hardware store with the goal of purchasing a tack hammer and tacks. I did not find them, got bored, then wandered off, but I demand (in a manly way) points for my effort.
Wait! The point!
In the picture above, you can see my friends Andrew and Pam. Pam is dressed as an Orion Slave Girl. This equals some pretty major geek points according to every scale of such matters I can Google.
What it doesn't picture is that we played old-school pencil-and-paper D&D in college back in the day and Pam's character actually earned the title "the Nasty". Titles don't just happen, people. And throughout the game world n00bs grew to fear the approach of Dammit Gump the Nasty. As well they should. The n00bs!
As geeks, we stick together. These instincts are honed in middle school locker rooms across this great nation, but even those geeks who attended a science-based magnet school have the impulse hard-coded into their very DNA.
Thymine links to Cytosine links to Adenine -- Which links to supporting Pam as she attempts to move among the non-nerdy.
She'll come back to us. Don't worry.
Pam is just going to spend a little while pwning n00bs in the real world so she can come back to toss some dice with us and tell us stories about her grand adventures with the normals.
What the hell is Pam doing?
Pam has been nominated as Miss Viva Las Vegas 2009, so she is going to win it.
How can we help?
We can go here and vote online. Look for Pam under her stage name "Red Snapper". She is the one wearing green feathers. You will be asked to enter an email address. I've done it and have gotten no unexpected spam. Also, my PayPal account is still as empty as ever so I'm pretty sure it is totally safe. Do it!
In fact, I never got a confirmation email at all, so feel free to use whatever email address you like.
You know, now that I think about it, just voting once with no confirmation is kind of leaving a lot to chance. What if your vote gets lost? What if some packet gets twisted out there in the wilds of the interwebz and never gets cast? This poor, lost little packet reminds me in some way of Pam's burlesque rendition of Monty Python's classic (don't click the link at work) "Every Sperm is Sacred", which is possibly (and hopefully) the only video on the internet which includes Sperm Puppets.

EDIT: There may be a click confirmation email. So sign up for some extra email addresses and go nuts.

Do you require more information before casting a vote? Is one (or more) vote(s) really that much to ask?
Fine. Pam and Andrew have a Pulp Fiction inspired number, which is available for viewing (holy crap, only click this at home) here.
There, two videos plus Orion Slave Girl photos showing exactly why you should be bothered to click the link and help Pam ("Red Snapper" or "Dammit Gump the Nasty") achieve her goal of total burlesque world domination.
The other reason, and the one which should resonate with my readers who are geeks or who married geeks, is that Pam is up against some seriously popular Rockabilly Burlesque acts. They are a lot like the kids at the cool table at lunch. Genetically, we have been programmed to hate them. If we can get Pam the votes she deserves, there is no way these other (lesser) acts can go home without having been taken down a notch or two.
A re-notching, ladies and gentlemen. You get to actively (if you consider clicking a link, casting a vote and typing an email address (or a couple of dozen email addresses) an activity) participate in a re-notching festival.
Also, Pam can get back to geeking it up old school once this action item is crossed off her list.
I don't ask a lot from you, internetz. Sometimes I make you gloss over a World of Warcraft post and sometimes I have weird conversations with my own brain. Sometimes I ask you to click somewhere and do something to make the world a little safer for geeks to move around outside of data centers.
This is one of those times.
My face is itchy. I'm going to go exfoliate.
With a belt sander, or something.
Definitely not a scrub made with coconut husk and jojoba.

Friday, January 02, 2009


As part of my on-going effort to eliminate all things french, I'm participating in "Manuary".
I intend to not shave for as long as I can stand it. It may be a while, since I technically haven't shaved since the 27th of December already and it hasn't gotten to the point where anyone would notice.
But that's fine.
I can do plenty of supplemental manly-type things to make up for my lack of facial hair.
Like . . . Um . . .

You know, the whole "manly" label is kind of sexist, in my opinion.
I'm not just a hunk of beef over here.
I have feelings.
Sometimes I watch The Food Network when it isn't about grilling stuff.

Hey! I've got one!
The current NFL record for most losses in a season is held by the Detroit Lions, as of this year.
This record will never be beaten, since the only way to lose more than every regular season game is to somehow end up in the play-offs after and lose those too.
Oddly, Detroit Lions merchandise does not reflect a substantial discount because of this. That makes me sad, since I own no football-related fashion with which to celebrate Manuary. I'll make do with some of my other manly garments.
Sweaters are manly, right? With patches on the sleeves? Leather patches?
Leather is definitely manly. Except for certain applications, I guess.

In the end, it all comes down to the effort put in versus the effort required, I think.
You've probably noticed, I'm an extremely manly man. Therefore, I have very little to change for Manuary.
I will, however, step up my liquor consumption.
Last night I had a shot of whiskey.
After I ate some extremely manly cheesecake stuff.
And I wrestled a wild animal. If by "wild animal" you mean "cat" and by "wrestled" you mean "brushed for fifteen minutes to help with her static cling issue".
Later today I plan to flex, possibly.
And buy some jerky.
Yeah. Jerky.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Oh, Come On!

Honestly, I try.
I don't want to be one of those guys that owns a Mac and feels compelled to bash Microsoft at every turn.
At the same time, the only clear resolution would be to get rid of my Mac, since Microsoft keeps giving me reasons to bash them.
The latest seems to be the case of the driver in the 30 gig Microsoft Zune, which freaked out over the leap year and shut down all the devices, disabled all functionality and pretty much left them all as bricks.
The bug seems to have been related to a clock driver.
Sadly, the most effected users were the "early adopters" who were willing to take a chance on the first generation Zune in spite of the almost universal acceptance of the iPod as the portable music device.

The "fix" is less than awesome. Basically, all of the owners of a first-generation 30 gig Zune have been instructed to allow their batteries to run down today, on January first, with the idea that the clock will reset itself at that time.
Wait, and the problem will go away. Until, I would guess, next leap year.
Please, Microsoft. Make it stop.
I don't want to be that hoodie-wearing super-smug Mac guy. And I love hoodies.
It looks like buying hardware from a software company is bad, unless that software company makes OS X and/or iTunes.
See? I'm specifically trying to not be overly smug and that is the result.
I'm going to try to wrestle a six month old device driver onto Windows Vista. That should make me feel better.
Happy New Year!