Friday, December 14, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 108

Now this is your Grandpa...

This is your Grandpa with a webcam.

(Links are NSWF-ish. Apply eye bleach as necessary.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Broken Kitty

The nightmare started Friday afternoon when I came home from work. Gilligan was laying in a corner, curled up in an awkward position. His ears were hot, his nose was hot.

When the Spouse and I tried putting him in our laps he would stay only for a little while, constantly squirming and twitching his legs like he could not get comfortable.

Running thru our brains were possibilities... Did he eat something off the Christmas tree that's now lodged in his innards? Did he eat a bug that's made him sick? Has he fallen and hurt himself? Is it arthritis?

We assumed it must be something digestive so we decided to see how he was in the morning. If nothing had passed and he was still acting weird it would be off to the Vet we would go.

So guess where we spent our Saturday morning?

The whole time I was thinking it was something digestive but after an exam the Vet started mentioning scary things like heart disease, a thyroid imbalance and this horrible condition called Aortic Thromboembolism, which is basically a blood clot cutting off blood and oxygen to the lower legs.

They took blood and an EKG, sent us home with some morphine for Gilligan's pain and promised to call us as soon as they got the test results back.

Altho he wasn't his usual self Saturday, he would at least eat a little, go up and down stairs and use his litter box. And shake paws. Just like a dog. That's the one thing Gilligan always does for me when he feel fine is shake paws.

But Saturday night he kept crawling under the Christmas tree and would not leave. Out of frustration we moved the damn tree to another room and locked the door but he still went back to the same bare spot on the floor, laid down and would move. He did not sleep with us in our bed, either, which is very unsual. He ALWAYS sleeps with us.

Sunday morning he wasn't doing too good. He was having trouble getting up and when he did walk his hips and legs seemed hunched over. The Spouse and I had errands to run during the day and when we returned home around 3:30pm things were bad. Very bad. Gilligan would not get up. We tried giving him some of his moist food (the kind of food he normally will tear your face off to get to) and he wouldn't get up. We even brought the bowl to him and he would not eat. We tried bringing him some water. When he did finally get up to take a drink he sat at an odd angle and howled. It was a howl that broken our hearts.

The howls did not stop and we were frantic. I found the Vet's card and on the back it had the number for a local Animal Emergency Hospital. I called and explained the situation and the gal at the other end send to bring him in.

The few horrific minutes of mapquesting directions to the Hospital, trying to print out a map, and bundle the howling cat into a towel sent us both into tears and howls of our own. Halfway there the cat managed to settled down. While we sat in the waiting room he seemed calm, which may sound alright, but it's not him. When Gilligan goes to a new place he's one nosey son of a bitch. He has to wander everywhere and sniff everything. The fact that he was huddled in my lap with no interest in exploring bothered me more.

While we were in the waiting room, our regular Vet called to report the bloodwork and EKG were normal. Great, but that still doesn't explain why our cat is still broken and making horrible noises.

Finally, after 2 hours, we got to talk to an Emergency Vet. She, too, was gravitating toward this awful blood clot scenario. Even tho his feet were warm and his toes were pink (indicating good blood flow) she noticed his calf muscles were tight, like from lack of oxygen. He was also dehydrated from not drinking anything all day.

All we could do was leave him there under their care, allow an IV to be inserted so they could hydrate the poor thing, and wait until morning when the UltraSound Tech arrived so they could look at the cat's heart and aorta.

So we went home. Alone. No cat. You may now (if you haven't already) insert some seriously sad violin music here.

We did some internet research on this Throm-Bomb-O-Lism (or whatever he hell it is) and the more we read, the more we lost hope. This is a serious fucking thing. It happens most often in male neutered cats, ages 4-9. (Gilligan is 7... we think... he was adopted and the rescue group that had him may not have been accurate on his birthdate.)

The numbers and cases of this condition are scary. The recovery is not good at all. The mortality rate is bad.

Devastated is not a strong enough word for how we felt. For 3 hours all the Spouse and I could do was sit and weep. Hell, we even, as awful as this sounds, started discussing what we will do if Gilligan is beyond hope.

This morning was terrible trying to go into work. My brain just wasn't on it. Neither was the Spouse's. I called the Hospital twice to check on his condition, which was stable but not much change.

After not hearing anything about the UltraSound, the Spouse couldn't take it any more and skipped out of work and went to the Hospital to visit him.

He called me and told me that Gilligan was a little more alert and was walking around. There was an occasional howl or two but nothing like it was 24 hours before.

Then he called me back around 2:30pm with these words: "He fell."

"WHAT?!"

"Gilligan fell and hurt himself. His heart is fine. There's no blood clot. He's injured himself from a fall."

In a fit of tears and giggles, we both rejoiced that the stupid little beast had fallen.

I, too, skipped out of work immediately and raced to join my Spouse and our boy. The Vet (the 3rd one we've seen) explained that the UltraSound showed a normal heart and no clot whatsoever. Gilligan had been more active today, altho still loopy from the mophine. He had simply suffered some kind of injury to his back or hips Friday while we were at work. So we have no idea what he did.

So, after a anti-inflamatory injection, and a nice bill totalling over $1,000 (for the initial visit and the Hospital stay), our buddy was returned to us.

Riding home in my lap in the car he was very calm but as soon as I pulled into the driveway his head went up and the meowing started. When he got in the house he ran (yes, RAN!) up the steps. I put some of his favorite food in his bowl and he devoured it, even licking the outside of the bowl. He's helped himself to several trips to the dry food bowl and he's ventured up and down stairs a few times, too.

Besides the fact he's still not 100% himself yet, the only other weird thing is his tail is not working. It's just sorta hanging like a wet rope. Even if you pick it up it falls limply to the floor.

The cat has done busted his ass. So he's still broken. And he has a bald band on his arm from the IV and they shaved his belly for the UltraSound. So he has a big, bald pudge. But he's not in pain anymore and he's home... alive...

So, how was YOUR weekend?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I'm such a geek...

We did it. We've been talking about it for about a month.

I first saw the beauty of the new iMacs a few months ago, right before the Apple Store opened in Loserville.

Then the Spouse made noises about how nice it would be if we had another Mac and we could both surf the web at the same time.

Then Webhamster mentioned how easy it would be to hook up a router to our internet source.

Then a few days ago the Spouse's hand-me-down G3 iPod croaked. Well, it didn't really croak, but the battery is shot. I was trying furiously to get his music uploaded to it... going 50 songs as a time... and still it was being surly.

So the Spouse made noise about how nice it would be if I got a new 160gig iPod (for ALL the crap I keep finding on the web) and he could get my current 60gig iPod to replace his dying one.

And, well, our 5th anniversary WAS Friday. And since we didn't buy individual gifts for each other...

So after a hefty purchase at Apple, and a stop off to Comp USA for a router and an ethernet cable long enough, and several hours last night and a few today moving over files and re-establishing connections, and waiting thru updates and various syncs,
here we are, basking in the beauteous glow of the new iMac (350gig hardrive, 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) with the older, yet still dependable, iMac behind us.

See? Even the cat is happy. Now he has TWO laps to choose from when he hangs out in the office with us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Christmas Wrong

It started today. Today I entered Dante’s 9th circle of Hell.

The Christmas music got started by my supervisor. The day before Thanksgiving. And from here on out, for the next 4 weeks until December 22 I’ll be forced to listen to her limited yet never-ending playlist of Christmas songs.

Never mind that I’ve told her, politely, that I don’t like Christmas music. My brief stint in retail in my youth caused that. No, never mind that I have repeatedly told her I don’t like Christmas music. That’s just too fucking bad. I get a mean-spirited laugh, then told that I’m a Scrooge and the music plays on.

The same tired old 15 or so carols we all know and loath, repeated over and over, each time by a different artist: Elvis, John Denver, Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Andy Williams, Nat King Cole... Over and over and over.

We didn’t listen to Christmas music at my house when I was growing up. Yeah, I sang them in school. And yes, we still celebrated Christmas even tho we were a non religious family. We just didn’t drive ourselves silly with repetitious, inane Christmas carols. My Christmas-music-lovin’ supervisor was shocked - SHOCKED, I tell you - to discover that I had never heard the Andy Williams Christmas album, and that my parents didn’t own it.

That’s because my parents had taste. I grew up hearing the Beatles and the Stones, not Andy Williams or, gods forbid, Pat Boone.

What makes it even worse (yes, it gets worse) are some of the quirky, non-traditional songs that get tossed onto these Christmas albums. Songs like “Please Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)” by John Denver or “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly Parton are extremely putrid.

Don’t believe me? Go google the lyrics for both. You’ll see what I mean. These are songs that burrow under your skin and make their way into your core, lay eggs and then die. Those eggs hatch later and the Christmas-Music larvae devour your soul.

These songs cause me to lose the will to live. These songs make me want to grab something sharp and just start stabbing.

Thank the gods I have a metric fuck ton of music on my iPod. Looks like I’ll be getting a lot of use out of those earbuds for the next 4 weeks.

It sounds sick, but I’m actually looking forward to going into work Friday. Yes, I really do have to work on the day after Thanksgiving. But that’s ok. Everyone else in my department took the day off. So it’s just little ol’ me. All by myself. With no Christmas music. At least for that day.

Bliss. Until December 22.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Thanksgiving to remember

The Spouse and I survived another trip to the world-famous Jungle Jim's up in Ohio (in Fairfield, just north of Cincinnati for those of you considering the roadtrip). We even dragged my parents along and wore them out on the 2 and a half hour excursion from one end of the store to the other.

Jungle Jim's is known not only as an International Market, but as being one of the largest (if not THE largest) grocery on the North American continent. Not to mention, they also have the nicest restrooms in the U.S. (and the port-o-potty doors are pretty damn cool).

Another thing that makes this place so amazing is the weird and wonderful selection of unusual foods you can find. Below are just a sampling of the things the Spouse and I picked up:

Mexican tamarind candy
Hot 'N Spicy nori snacks
REAL Cranberry Fool
Dundee Marmalade from Scotland
my Blenheim Ginger Ale (which I can no longer find anywhere here in Loserville)
2 pounds of frozen crawdads (just thaw, heat and eat!)
Haggis. In a can. Two of them (THAT'S the Spouse's purchase, not mine)
Oh, and a turducken

Other things you can get there that we decided NOT to purchase:

from the Meat department - elk, kangaroo, bison, ostrich and goat. They even had elk burger patties.
Pickled pig's feet
Cracklin'
Chocolate covered ants and other bug candy
bug snacks - Crick-ettes and Larv-ettes. In a variety of flavors (bar-b-que, sour cream and onion, chedder, salt and vinegar)

But back to the turducken.

A while back on Food Network I saw a program about turducken. It's a cajun-inspired delicacy that consists of a deboned chicken rolled in stuffing, then stuffed into a deboned duck. Then THAT is rolled in stuffing and stuffed into a deboned turkey. And the stuffing is cajun-style stuffing with spices and sausage and other cajun goodness. And if the elk and kangaroo mentioned earlier doesn't freak out my vegetarian friends, I'm sure the turducken has them running for the hills.

Anyway, the program mentioned that these things are usually special ordered in advance and can get quite pricey. But I thought, "Damn, I would still like to try one."

So the other day the Spouse and I were making our list for the Jungle Jim's expendition and I casually mentioned, "Ya know, we oughta look for a turducken. If any place other than Louisiana would have them, it'd be Jungle Jim's."

In all seriousness, I didn't expect to find one there. Really.

But low and behold, as we were making our way thru the meat section, past the goat and bison, there, in a small box, was a turducken. I gasped. The Spouse gasped. I grabbed the box and looked it over. Sure enough, it was a real turducken. I was just about to load it into our cart when the Spouse exclaimed, "Look! There's another one!"

And there, in a much larger box, was a much larger turducken. Fifteen pounds of bird upon bird upon bird. And it was ours. For $79.

Yes. We really did spend $79 on a turducken. But dammit, you only live once (well, some of us are all for the reincarnation bit, but if I came back as another person, I may not have a chance at a real turducken experience). And Thanksgiving is coming up. And we're doing it at our house this year. So it looks like the Spouse and I will be serving oven-baked turducken for Mom and the Dads.

And no, you cannot deep fry a turducken. It has to be oven cooked. So the one Thanksgiving ritual of all the men standing outside in the cold, gathered around the large vat of boiling peanut oil and turkey will not be happening.

But until then, our turducken stays lovingly tucked away in our freezer, awaiting its moment of glory when it can bask in the glow of the pre-heated oven.

And a good time shall be had by all. Unless the Spouse breaks out the canned Haggis.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Favorite Spooky Video Countdown

Once Haunted House season is over I can really look forward to Halloween Night. I may be too old to go Trick or Treating but I'm at the perfect age to enjoy giving away the goods.

When the Spouse and I moved into our house 3 years ago, we had no idea how lively our little neighborhood could get on holidays. Halloween night our cul de sac goes batshit insane. Our first year we had 32 kids show up. Our second year we had 64. Last year was down to 17 but it rained like hell that night. This year they're predicting dry and cool weather so I'm hoping for another 64 plus.

We have drive-by Trick-or-Treating out here. A car will pull up and stop in the middle of the cul de sac. Three to six kids will get out, run up to every house, jump back in the car and VROOM! They're gone.

Nearly every house is decorated with pumpkins, lights and props. And we are no exception. I have two 20-pound bags of bones that get arranged on our front walk, resembling some whacked out crime scene. We have orange lights lining the house and the Spouse lines the front yard with several torches.

I also put the iMac in the window and have it showing old horror movies like Night of the Living Dead and The Pit and the Pendulum. The kids like it but the parents out with the kids love it more.

But to warm up the crowd before the movies start rolling, I show 10 of my favorite creepy videos:

10. Dead Man's Party - Oingo Boingo
Ok, so it's not exactly a spooky video, even tho it does feature some cute spot-motion animation of little Dia de los Muertos skeletons and a very creepy looking Danny Elfman. The song is still appropriate.


9. TV Dinners - ZZ Top
By today's standards this is pretty cheezy but I loved this video when it came out. And the little meal monster is cute.


8. The Time Warp - Rocky Horror Picture Show cast
Halloween just isn't the same with it out.


7. Haulin' Hearse - The Ghastly Ones
I discovered these guys via one of my favorite music blogs and it got me hooked on the whole Monster Surf music genre. I love their outfits and that vintage hearse is sweet.


6. The Contraption
Not a music video, but still pretty damn creepy nonetheless. It left a hell of an impression on me when I first saw it back in the 80s and it's never lost its impact. See if you recognize the man (you saw him earlier in #8).
(Embedding isn't allowed but you can view it here.)

5. What's He Building in There - Tom Waits
When he wrote this piece he didn't mean for it to come across as creepy, just more of a casual observation on how nosey people can be. But the sound effects made my skin crawl the first time I listened to it. The accompanying video pushes the spooky factor even further, strangely reminding me of Night of the Living Dead.


4. Joan Crawford - Blue Oyster Cult
Catholic school girls are creepy. Zombie Catholic school girls are even creepier.


3. Night Boat - Duran Duran
Better than Snakes on a Plane, Zombies on a Boat!


2. Rubber Johnny - Aphex Twin
Beyond disturbing. The night-vision only makes it even more scary.


1. Thriller - Michael Jackson
I was never a fan of Michael Jackson, even back when he was still a black man, but damn this is STILL a great video for Halloween!
(Embedding not available, but you can watch it here.)

And I'm sure yall have a bunch of other videos I failed to mention here. Feel free to add them in the comments. I'm always up for expanding my spooky collection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Haunted Adventures 2007: Finale

One weekend left. And then that’s it. For real.

Well, ok, not COMPLETELY it. The Mansion still has a couple of Ghostly Undertaking sleepovers in November that I’ll be doing ye olde Tarot card readings for.

But for the whole Haunted House thing, looks like I’ll be gradually passing the torch (or severed limb, if that sounds more appropriate) onto my Assistant Director. I’m not bowing out completely. I’ll be there to help out and advise my successor, and I’ll still do publicity, set design as few other things. I’ve already talked to my Assistant and the Staff. And everybody’s cool with it.

I’d been pondering this for the past four years, and seriously pondering it this summer. But the decision came two weeks ago.

Every year this event takes more and more out of me. I quit acting in the House 2 years ago to focus on management. But running this whole operation should be a full time job. Unfortunately I already have one of those, plus a spouse, cat and house that also need my attention.

And I’m not 24 any more. That’s how old I was when I entered this business we call ‘scare.’ I’m 37, overweight, out of shape, greying and prone to tire easily.

But back to two weeks ago. We had finished a successful Friday night and I was looking forward to curling up next to my beloved spouse for a good night’s sleep. Which never came. The moment I laid down on the pillow I was suddenly wide awake. With a raging fever.

Saturday morning I dragged my sorry carcass out of bed after several futile hours of getting no sleep. I went straight to the couch and debated on whether to return to the House that night while the fever continued, the throat burned and the ears plugged.

Needless to say bad health won out. It’s the first night I’ve missed. Ever. And for those of you who don’t know me personally, I have to be dirty dog sick to stay home. I mean I have to be suffering from bleeding eyeballs and spontaneous human combustion before I’ll not show up.

So the House had to run without me that Saturday. I managed to make it to work Monday, which was stupid, because it only made my plague worse. I took off both Tuesday and Wednesday (another first for me - missing 2 days straight from work) and ventured to my doctor to discover I have a lovely case of strep throat. Gees, I haven’t had strep since high school, and that was 20 years ago, folks. It’s not as easy to get over when you’re old.

So it was during my fever non-sleep that the decision was made. I’m done. This is my last year. I’m not doing this any more.

But with the help of some heavy duty antibiotics, my health sprang back and here I am. And I’m running the show for one more weekend.

After that, my life is mine again. We have Halloween coming up next week, and Halloween night our cul de sac goes batshit crazy. The spouse and I are working some major events for the next couple of months. Our 5-year anniversary is next month. We also want to have a Winter Solstice party in December before we head out on our annual Get-the-Hell-Outta-Town-for-Christmas trip.

Plus our house needs a good cleaning. And I have more books to read. And the spouse and I have been enjoying the first season of Night Gallery on DVD recently. And I have the COMPLETE series of Thriller with Boris Karloff coming in soon (yes, friends and neighbors, all 67 episodes).

So, Happy Halloween to all you loyal readers. Things will be perking up here again very soon. But I gotta get ready for tonight’s episode of Ghost Hunters (they’re gonna be at our local spooky gem, The Waverly, next week!).

Toodles til later! *bows to the left, bows to the right*

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 107

We're two weeks into Haunt Season and I'm confronting "Theory vs. Practice" full force.

All spring and summer, and even part of the early fall, my creative crew and I work our butts off putting this place together. And a lot of our original ideas that come up in the early spring have gone thru a complete transformation by the time we're ready to open. We encounter obstacles, time and money constraints, safety issues and state government blocks (when you're operating on state property, you REALLY have to watch your ass).

But the whole Theory vs. Practice doesn't end with opening night. It continues until the place shuts down at the end of the season. And last weekend I had a refresher course on Theory vs. Practice. Several things we had PLANNED to go a certain way have turned out not applicable in practice.

So you gotta adapt. And adapt we shall. And no one outside the function of the House will know any better.

My problem is my stress. I have brought stressing out to a whole new level, an art form if you will. I can have a meltdown bigger and better than Britney Spears ('course I keep my hair and I don't hit any illegal substances). "Type A Personality" doesn't even begin to cover me.

I'm not a candidate for a heart attack or a stroke. I'm a candidate for Spontaneous Human Combustion. I swear, when my time comes, I'm gonna go out like a supernova. There'll be this giant *FLOOM!* and there'll be nothing left but a greasy pile of ash, some jewelry and shoes. That's it.

Luckily a staff gal and her spouse have come to my rescue. So maybe I'll make it another week without any heat.

And speaking of heat, hopefully this weekend will go smoother. Not that last weekend was rough, but the weather was downright hellish. It was that famous All-98 Weather; 98 degrees, 98% humidity, 98 heat index. I had actors dropping like flies. Hell, even standing outside wasn't any better. Everyone's clothes were soaked with sweat and moisture from the air. The crowd was surly and getting angrier by the minute. Waiting in line and All-98 Weather is not a pretty combination.

Ok, I take that back, it WAS a rough weekend. But this weekend is supposed to have nicer weather.

In the meantime, I'll leave yall with some wacky links. That should keep yall busy until I have a pause to write again.

Outdoor string lights add such ambiance to any event, especially these charming ones...


Or for those entertaining inside this Halloween, howz about these to wash up with...

Forget sock monkeys, I wanted some of these when I was a kid...

For fans of ICanHasCheezburger, a translator!

Want a ringtone that will REALLY get attention? Fuck yeah!

A place for us cube farm inhabitants...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A Graveyard Smash

It’s that time of year again. The time when I disappear from most social functions, don’t add a lot to the Hell Bus, and (according to my beloved spouse) become very difficult to live with. (Spouse, you have my undying love and devotion for putting up with me these past couple of months.)

As much as I love this volunteer job of mine, it does take its toll every year. I love the feeling of oncoming autumn, the cool days, the smell of wood and paint as we construct yet another floor plan and new sets. I love seeing the old veterans returning with just as much (or even more) enthusiasm for this business we call scare. I love the rush of Friday and Saturday nights when we have a huge line of people waiting to get their chance to be scared shitless or at least come out laughing. Either way, we’ve done our job. We entertained them.

But every year I return with a little more grey sprouting outta my skull. I worry about stuff way too much. Sometimes I set goals a little too high. And do I ever get stressed out. I go beyond the snapping point at least 5 times from June to November. Just ask the spouse or any of my friends about some of my outbursts.

And, as usual, I’ve had some let downs. I expect it every year. There’s always one person, one manufacturer, one incident or one state official who manages to fail us miserably. Some years it’s been one of each. This year it’s been a few of some, none of the other.

So yes, I’ve already had one good snap. One good primal screaming session. I just had to get it out before something physical popped.

But that was a couple days ago. Right now I’m fine. In moments of complete and utter breakdown I keep remembering the words of my predecessor and mentor (the guy who used to run the place before me):

“The House will run. No matter what happens. The House will open and run itself. The customers won’t know about all the bullshit you’ve put up with until this point. They won’t know how many people have bailed and left you hanging. They won’t know about the props that never arrived, got built or are already broken. You just put on your best make-up and give them the best show you can and they won’t know the difference.”

I also always have Plan B in the back of my skull. Every room in that house has a Plan B. Every prop that fails, every actor that quits, every promise made that goes unfulfilled... Plan B is filed away in the cabinet down the hall in the dusty corner of my brain. I have a back-up plan for everything.

Plus I have some absolutely amazing people who have gone way beyond the call of duty. My Artistic Director has taken time off from his real job and worked odd hours late at night on the house. This mad genius of a man has built some wildly freakish things for us that our little brains could never has conceived. Things that would cost thousands of dollars, this man made for a few hundred, sometimes even less.

Several of my veterans (D, M, L and E) have been there with me every single Thursday night, putting up with the heat, the dust, the filth and the 100lb+ props getting moved from room to room. Bless their little cobwebbed hearts. I love these people. My little worker bees.

And the staff has been good. My one special staff girl (you know who you are) has been wonderful at keeping my mood elevated and talking me thru all the shitty stuff.

So now we’re down to the final week and a half before we open. There’s still stuff to do but every time I walk thru that house, I’m really impressed at how much has been accomplished. Who knows, we might be finished with this thing before we open!

(Some of you have been asking about photos. Friends and neighbors, they’re already up.)

Friday, August 31, 2007

New resident at the Haunted House

Last night I was leaving the Mansion's downstairs office via the Gift Shop and, as I exited the door, just happened to look up.

In the seven years I've been there, I've never looked in this one particular spot.

Directly over the door is a wood sign hanging by a metal chain at each corner that reads "Culbertson Mansion Dry Goods Gift Shop." When I looked up, I was looking at the back of that sign.

And I saw something furry. Very furry.

I thought, "What the hell is that? Is that some sort of cocoon? Is it a large Woolly Worm?" And that's when I noticed the little toes...

...hanging on the top edge of the sign.

I'm amazed he's been there that long. Especially with all the traffic and noise that occurs underneath that sign every day.

Oh well, he's cute. I hope he stays. Perhaps he's a good omen for this season.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

BatFocus and the Disco Shitter

I love the internet. I say that at least once a day. You can find anything and everything on the internet.

I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who have no clue how to access it, use it or even what they could find on it. The people I work with are a fine example. I’ve become the great and powerful know-it-all Internet Guru at work because nobody there knows how to search for things. As omnipresent as Google is, the majority of people I work with don’t know how to use it.

Case #1: Storm a-Brewin’
A: Dag, those clouds sure do look awful dark. Duranfan, what’s our weather look like?
Me: (I go here and report whatever I see).
A: Ok, thanks.

Case #2: Can’t get that song out of my head
B: You know that song from the Geico commercial? The one with the caveman in the airport? Who does that song?
Me: (Google: Type in “lyrics there is always something to remind me of another place and time”) The song is called “Remind Me” by a group called Royksopp.
B: Cool. I need to get that off iTunes

Case #3: The Urban Legend
C: (email received) “UPS uniforms have been stolen by terrorists!” followed by a message intended to scare the living shit out of you.
Me: (in a reply) No, they haven’t. It’s an internet hoax. Go here are read for yourself.

(I’ve discovered if it’s too good or too horrific to be true, it probably isn’t. Go to snopes and look it up.)


This shit happens nearly every day. But I don’t use the Internet just to find out weird facts. I also use it for what many of our double-X chromosome population loves to do. I use it to shop.

Amazon is a favorite of mine and the spouse’s. Between the two of us, I don’t know who spends more money on books, music and movies.

I found my wedding dress here. I find all kinds of cool things from Japan here. I found some really funny and very offensive t-shirts here and here. And I found some wonderful perfume here. And socks! I love socks! I found a bunch of wacky socks here.

I also get a metric fuck-ton of catalogs, all of which has a website. So when I got the most recent What On Earth catalog and saw these, I had to hit their website and order. While I was there, I was browsing thru their clearance section and came across this.

Oh wow! Look at it! It matches our bathroom! It’s blue and transparent and it has shells and starfish and coral in it! And it lights up! Holy shit! I must have this!

So they came in two days ago. The wings are adorable. And it even came with a nose! A plush, black nose that your wire to your grill. This fall my little mom-wagon will be transformed into the BATFOCUS, serving as a moving advertisement for the Haunted House (we have magnetic door panel ads I’ll be sticking on the sides of the car).

And the toilet lid? Amazing. My friend Nicograph dubbed it the Disco Shitter. It was a bitch and a half to install (who knew changing a toilet lid would be so damn tough) but wow... it’s purdy. It’s blue and all lit up and sparkly and everything. It lights up the whole bathroom. So now, when we get those middle-of-the-night piss urges, we won’t get blinded by turning on the main light. Now we simply lift the lid and ta-da! Disco Shitter!

Did I mention how much I love the Internet?

Monday, August 6, 2007

And now, a pause that refreshes...

First off, does anyone know where I can find these? I’ve been hearing about them for a while and I’ve been all jonsin’ to try one.

I know a lot of people are gonna be thinking, “Peanut butter and banana?! Yuck!” Not so, uneducated one. Peanut butter and ‘nana is damn tasty. Maybe not in Elvis’s favorite sandwich form, but still, nothing beats a fresh banana sliced in half and filled with creamy peanut butter.

And yes, I said creamy. Crunchy is ok, but give me creamy any day. Ya know, way back in my single, lonely and bitter days, when I actually tried out the whole on-line dating thing, that was one of my conversation openers: Peanut butter: creamy or crunchy?

But back to the topic. Peanut butter, yes. One of the greatest snack foods ever. As a kid I lived on peanut butter. On toast. With jelly in sandwich form. On crackers. With bananas. With honey (also know as Honey Bunkin among us hillbilly types). Sometimes even just a heaping tablespoon of the stuff all by itself. And of course, with chocolate.

“You got peanut butter in my chocolate! Hey, you got chocolate in my peanut butter!” Yes, now shut up and eat it. It’s good. Really good. Chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best PMS food combinations ever. What a great comfort food. I can’t tell you how many times a large bar of Hershey’s Special Dark and a jar of Reese’s returned me to sanity after a job loss, a break-up or a bad bout of cramps.

(Another great yet weird snack food combo is M&Ms and Cheeze Whiz. Try it sometime and tell me what you think.)

Speaking of PMS food, I discovered another wonderful treat this weekend. The spouse and I were running around Saturday and decided to stop at a Popcorn Station on the way home. I’ve driven by this place nearly every day and have been wanting to go in and grab something. And am I ever glad we did. For behold! I have discovered perhaps the greatest snacky food since the afore mentioned peanut butter and chocolate...

Chocolate. Cherry. Popcorn.

No shit. And all you people making yucky sounds, shut the hell up. You haven’t tried it yet. Popcorn that’s been candy-coated in a nice sugary, cherry-flavor substance, then drizzled with chocolate. Honey, it don’t get no better than this.

Or maybe I shouldn’t say that yet. I gotta try the Elvis Peanut Butter and ‘Nana Reese’s Cup first. Now I just gotta find one.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Death (and blind) by salsa

Last night I was watching reruns of Ghost Hunters while the spouse was doing his Tae Quan Do thing. And, as with many nighttime TV watching ventures, a snack is present. Sometimes it’s popcorn, or cheese and crackers (love me some Brie), or maybe ice cream. But last night’s choice was chips and salsa. And not just any old ordinary salsa, but some super, duper, burn-your-face-off salsa.

The above reference is commonly known as “foreshadowing.”

This particular salsa is so hot that I have to dilute it with boring old store-bought stuff. Even for a pepper-head like me, I can’t take it straight.

So I had finished my snacky-poo and was in the process of cleaning up. From here on out, I’m going to slow everything down so you, too, can fully appreciate the trauma that is about to unfurl.

I had scooped up my dishes, the bag of chips and the jar of referenced salsa when the lid of the jar came loose. I thought I had tightened the lid but apparently had not done such a good job.

I was aware of the jar coming loose and I saw it falling toward our nice, light taupe carpet. In an effort to stop the eminent catastrophe, I dove down in an attempt to catch the open, plummeting jar (you can just see this in 'bullet-time,' can't ya?)

But being not as young and spry as I once was, I was not quick enough and the jar hit the carpeted floor. And it hit at such as angle that the salsa did not go sideways and spill, but rather flung straight up.

Straight up. Like a perfect 90 degrees straight up. Into my eyes.

Into my eyes.

My eyes.

MY EYES!

I actually saw the chunks of salsa as they zoomed towards me. And, once again, not being super-human fast, I was unable to shut my eyes in time. I felt the coolness of the tomatoey, gelatin-like substance flood my face. And before the pain even started I knew I was doomed.

I dropped whatever remained in my hands and ran for the bathroom, yelling the whole time. Please note: At this point the pain has still not started yet, but I'm yelling because I know what's coming. I grabbed a bath towel, went to the sink, turned on the water and started splashing. That’s when the pain started.

Pain. Oh pain. Pain pain pain.

I’m soaking my face in water, splashing like crazy. I have to get my contacts out but I can’t even open my eyes. I’m also sobbing and yelping.

Speeding things back up to real time, this went on for about 5 minutes. The pain is so bad I can no longer stand and am now on my knees, still with my hands and head in the sink, trying desperately to open my eyes and get my lenses out. During all of this violent washing of the water my right lens has already escaped. Whether it got stuck to a towel, landed on the floor or went down the sink, I don’t know.

All this time I’m thinking, “Is this an emergency? Do I need to call 911? Dan won’t be home for another hour. What the hell should I do? The water isn’t working fast enough. What else can I throw at my eyes to make the pain stop? Am I going to have damage to my eyes now? Will I wake up tomorrow with my eyelids glued together and my eyeballs seared and blind?”

I was finally able to open my eyes, but only for about one second at a time. The pain is worse when air hits my eyes. Finally, after an additional 5 or so minutes, I was able to get the left lens out. Not that it matters. Those poor bastards are toast as far as I’m concerned (thank the gods for disposable lenses).

My poor eyes are beyond red. And swollen. And I can only keep them open for a few seconds at a time. But, after several more minutes (if you’re keeping track, it’s been about 15 total) I was able to put on my glasses and venture back to the living room and inspect the damage.

Which, strangely enough, wasn’t that bad. The splattering was in one small area and, after some vacuuming, application of stain remover, some more vacuuming, and then a good sessions with the rug shampooer, you’d never know the accident had occurred.

Greeting the spouse an hour later and relaying the story was fun. He was very comforting and helped tremendously with the rug shampooer.

And as of today, you’d never know the Great Salsa Disaster ever occurred. The carpet is perfectly clean and my eyes are no longer red or swollen (although the skin on my arm that got a lot of the splatter is still a little tingly).

And I can see.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Haunted Adventures: The 2007 season

Well, after seven years, I finally got to experience something kinda spooky at the Mansion. It’s not much, but it’s a great story...

I’ve been hanging out at the Culbertson Mansion now since 2000, mostly doing Haunted House stuff, but in the more recent years I’ve been helping out with other events. I’ve come to really enjoy my time over there. I love all the people involved and I love that house.

With any old house come the obligatory ‘hauntings.’ Whether the house is really haunted or not I couldn’t say, Until last week, I was of the mind it wasn’t. I never felt any presence anywhere in that house (although the 3rd floor creeps me out - that’s only because it’s the only part that’s not restored yet). Hell, I’ve even slept in the Mansion for a few hours (in the master bedroom no less) and nothing happened.

Being a huge fan of Ghost Hunters and other paranormal shows, books and whatnot, I’ve been really hoping to see or experience something during my time roaming the enormous place. But nothing so far... until last Thursday.

Thursday nights are Work Nights for the Haunted House this year. Every Thursday after work I head across the river to New Albany, gather my little volunteer worker bees together and assign them projects, from moving props to painting, construction to set design.

Last Thursday around 4:30 I was down in the basement office, sitting with the Assistant Curator, Jamie, going over the Haunted House ‘To-Do’ list and new floorplan when...

WHOOP WHOOP!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!!

I’ve never seen that girl move that fast. She was up in a nanosecond, running for a cabinet, flinging it open to reveal a Fire Alarm System. We both watched the monitor as the warning scrolled across:

“ALARM PULL... 1ST FLOOR... FORMAL PARLOR...”

Alarm pull? Oh, shit! Someone pulled the fire alarm! Jamie did about 90mph running up the stairs to the Formal Parlor. A couple of minutes later she came back downstairs, puzzled.

“Well, that monitor says we have an alarm that’s been pulled, but the alarm in the Formal Parlor hasn’t been touched. Nobody pulled it. And the only other people in the House right now are a tour group on the third floor... Old Corny, she’s at it again”

(Cornelia was one of two wives to live the Mansion and is reputed to be the culprit of the strange goings-on.)

Jamie continued, “That’s the third thing to happen this week. Couple days ago the bell on the Gift Shop door rang but the door never opened and there wasn’t anyone outside trying to get in. Yesterday morning we heard someone walking around upstairs and the house was empty except for us in the office.”

(Seems that when strange stuff happens at the Mansion, it all happens at once, then everything goes quiet for weeks or even months.)

Ok, so it wasn’t a GREAT ghost story, but it was pretty damn exciting when it happened... although it wasn’t nearly as thrilling as my experience with ‘Stoney,’ but that’s another story. If yall are nice, I might repost it sometime...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 106

I'm afraid I don't have much in the way of thoughts right now. My spare time has been balanced between devouring books and Haunted House construction (yes, I know it's only July but we've been tearing down and building up now for over a month).

But I still have some juicy tidbits of web goodness to share. Hope yall have the time, most of these are videos...

Another great time-killing game... but this one actually improves your typing skills.

Attention Clan Geek Members! I expect to see one of these on each of your respective doorsteps this October.

What do you get when you cross ICanHasCheezburger and Gorey? This.

And in case you haven't seen it already... the Most Dramatic 5 Seconds on the Internet!

What the hell... they SCREAM?!

Yeah, it'll leave a stain, but this is still damn funny.

You won't be seeing these in the U.S. anytime soon... #3 is my fav.

Ok, a little history. Way back in the day, there was a show on USA Network called Night Flight. This amazing program ran from about 10pm to about 3 or 4am, Friday and Saturday nights. They showed everything from old horror movies to music videos, short animations to film outtakes, interviews with famous people and other oddball eye candy.

I saw this film back in the mid 80s, sandwiched between a heavily edited Andy Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. I was blown away. I was lucky enough to capture it on VHS and since then, have shown it to dozens of people. Not having the hardware or technology to convert it to digital format, I've been waiting not-so-patiently for this to pop up on the web. Fortunately, some wonderful sould has done just that.

I now present "The Contraption." (Trivia: See if you can guess who 'the man' is.)

One final video... the spouse recently discovered iMovie and spent ALL DAY Saturday composing this little number. Be gentle, it's his first real film.



Thank you for your support.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Non-Love Bugs

*sigh* Yeah, I know... it’s been a while. Yes, I’m still alive.

Work has been sporadic. One day we’re furiously trying to get work out and another day we’re sitting around picking our nose and playing solitaire (well, for me, it’s Double or this weird little shoot’em game). But the biggest pain in the ass at work right now isn’t the inconsistent workflow. It’s the damn bugs.

Yes, we’re infested. About 3 months ago we noticed these pesty little gnats everywhere. At first we thought it was just in our pre-press department, but then everyone in our half of the building was complaining about them. We thought perhaps they were breeding on some long-forgotten unemptied trash can, feasting on someone’s month-old lunch. But after searching everywhere we came up with nothing, just a steady increase in the number of flying pests.

We have a pest-control guy come by once a month and spray, but apparently his magic bug-killing spray has no effect on fruit flies (yes, that’s what they are). We informed Mr. Pest Control Guy about our infestation and he supplied us with several prison-sized cans of super nuclear bug killing spray.

That day, after we had all had safely stored away any food, coffee, candy and plants and then left to go home, they fumigated the entire building. We all arrived the next morning, hoping to discover thousands of mini-bug carcasses all over every flat surface.

Nada. Nothing. In fact, we think this spray only acted as an aphrodisiac and spurned them on to keep breeding. How bad can this infestation be, you ask? Well, there’s four of us in our department, and each of us was averaging 7-12 kills a day (go on, do the math, I’ll wait). And we were in now way even making a dent in the growing population.

Two months ago the pest-control man returned and the whole office bitched him out again. By this time the entire business personnel had been madly smashing fruit flies. The startling sound of *THWACK!* and *THUMP!* could be heard all day long at various intervals, from one corner of the building to the other.

So this time Mr. Pest Control Guy left several strange bottle traps at various spots. These bottle traps have an inch of Tang®-looking fluid in the bottom. In theory, this sweet liquid should attract the fruit flies, whereupon they fly down into the bottle thru a tiny opening and are either too stupid to figure out how to get out or, preferably, drown in the Tang®.

Great theory. Too bad this one didn't work either. Instead, after a week, each bottle had less than 5 dead bugs but a plethora of large, furry, white spots of mold. So instead of getting rid of the bugs we're harvesting our own tainted supply of Penicillin.

Now we're down to a few weeks ago. Mr. Pest Control Man returns and we point out the Tang and Penicillin soup mixture with very few flies. The good news is the number of kills has dropped. The bad news is (besides the mold) we still have flies. This time Mr. Pest Control Guy pours some magically liquid into all of our plants (including my little bamboo plant), claiming that sometimes these fruit flies will have a colony in ordinary house plant soil. While he says this, he's eyeing my little bamboo plant with suspicion.

"Dude, this little plant doesn't even have soil. It's water and rocks, and I change the water frequently. If I don't, the plant starts to die."

I must have slipped into speaking Russian because he looked at me like I was a total retard. And he poured the magical bug-killing liquid into my bamboo plant anyway. Luckily, after 2 weeks, my plant is still alive.

Unfortunately, we still have bugs. Yes, the numbers have dropped. We're only killing about 3 a day now. But we all still look like a bunch of tweakers, waving our hands around and slapping various body parts all day.

Meth addicts ain't got nothing on us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Video killed the ghost star

This weekend we bid goodbye to an old friend, a dependable friend, a friend that brought entertainment to our lives and light to our living room.

My old TV has been retired, or at least moved to the lower, less-used level of the house.

The old TV was a hand-me-down given to me when I moved out on my own in 1995. My parents had owned it for about 5 years prior. It was a generic TV from Sam’s Club, and when I say generic, I’m not kidding. It has a model number on the front, something like X5-3400 but there’s no name, brand or logo anywhere. Mom and Dad had it for about a year and it quit working, so my ultra-nerd uncle fixed it and it’s been good as generic-new ever since.

So this old TV of mine has survived 5 moves and just as many cable/dish re-installations and various accessory hook-ups. And all was fine until several months ago.

The problem started out very small. Every once in a while the picture would ever-so-slowly get grainy. After about 10-15 minutes the grain would become total snow. This snow would last anywhere from 10 minutes to a couple of hours. Then, just as slowly as it crept in, the snow would go to grain, then the picture would clear up completely.

Since this happened so infrequently, I chalked it up to sunspots, weather, UFOs, trees in the way of the signal, a bird sitting on the dish or the feds eavesdropping on us again. So we just dealt with it. I assumed it was with the dish since the television was fine when we used the VCR or the DVD. Picture was totally clear.

But lately the grainy problem has been getting worse. It was occurring more frequently, so much so that I found myself watching less television... until Wednesday night.

Wednesday night was the season opener for Ghost Hunters. Out of ALL of the shows out there, this is the ONLY one I CANNOT miss. Sure, I like Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, but the world has to stop Wednesday nights at 9 so I can see what spooky shit Jay and Grant encounter. I turn off my phone. I turn off the iMac. The spouse can either sit quietly next to me on the couch or, more often, go elsewhere in the house. If there’s an emergency, like the house is on fire or somebody it dying, it’ll just have to wait until 10. NOTHING can interrupt me while I’m watching Ghost Hunters.

Except for TV failure.

Sure enough, 10 minutes into the show the picture starts getting grainy. I’m on my feet and behind the set, angrily wiggling wires and checking connections. Nothing. Everything is tight, the wires are good. But my picture is getting worse. And I’m near tears in anger.

I got to see about half of the show. I got to see the weird shit they saw in Ireland but I totally missed whatever happened in London during the second half. I watched snow while steam rolled out of my ears. The spouse was safely hidden away downstairs.

The phone got turned back on. I called Dish Network. We were gonna fix this problem NOW. I was on hold for 15 minutes and finally got to talk to a human. She reset stuff from her end and I reset stuff from mine. We turned things on and off. Nothing. No improvements. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay for fucking snow.

Finally she talks to a techy who says there must be something wrong with the actual cable that goes from the TV to the dish receiver. It could be old and the insulation could be breaking down (makes perfect sense - I had spark plug cables do the same thing in my car).

Thinking that this is the real crux of my problem, I get off the phone and proceed to start unhooking things. As I pull the TV out from the entertainment center, it bumps the shelf.

*ping*

Picture. Clear. Clean. No grain. No snow.

Oh.... fuck.... that’s it? I bump the actual TV and it’s fine?! I coulda bumped this thing an hour ago and NOT missed my show?! It’s now 10:30 and I FUCKING MISSED GHOST HUNTERS!

*simmer*

Ok, that’s it. The spouse and I had talked about getting a hi-def flat screen a while back but backed out because the prices were crazy. Now the technology has gotten better, the prices have dropped. Now with this poor old generic thing being unpredictable... NOW is a good time to get a new one... a nice one...

We dealt with the old one for 3 more days, lifting it about an inch and dropping it to fix the continuing grain problem. This was sad... picking up and dropping the TV to make it work. Sunday we splurged: new 32” HD LCD flatscreen with a new DVD player (since we had to upgrade anyway - our old DVD, which wasn’t hi-def, was acting funny anyway). After lots of dusting, grunting and struggling with old and new components, lots of wiring and connects and disconnects, and several frustrating minutes of “What’s wrong with the DVD?! I’ve got a picture but no sound?! WHY IS THERE NO SOUND?!,” we got it working. The spouse did an excellent job of holding heavy things while I ran cables and connections.

Did I mention how beautiful it is? After everything was hooked up we just turned it on and stared while alternatingly going “...wow....” Ghost Hunters in hi-def is gonna be amazing...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 105

I'm slowly coming down from one hell of a high.

I just returned from a Library Book Sale.

Hey, for all the addictions I could possibly suffered from, at least I chose the safer ones: coffee, food and books. Ok, the food might cause large ugly fat but at least books don't cause cancer, hemorrhoids, heart disease, STDs, unwanted pregnancies or deadly nasal warts.

So today was the Great Geek Book Trek. I picked up WasabiJohn and off we went, meeting up with fellow book nerds DFA, Smacky, Webhamster, Webhamstress and Teh Iz, and Haunted House veterans Csam and Cathy.

A good buying time was had by all and pretty much everyone walked out with some new treasures. I came armed with a large plastic sack and filled that puppy right up.

So I just finished removing all the plastic Library jackets and pockets and cataloging them all on Library Thing. 12 books for $33.50. Can't beat that.

Now all I have to do is find room on the shelves. Looks like another bookshelf is on the necessary list.

While I'm making room and rearranging the collection, here's da links...

If you finally decide to do some killin'... here's the way to start.

Ow, my eyes! My eyes!... why do I get the feeling I'
m being followed?

The perfect gift for your downbeat friend... especially if his name is Eeyore.

Now that, friends and neighbors, is how you exit a job... even better than my resignation scroll.

Mine eyes have seen the glory... and all my questions are answered.

Who said watching paint dry was the ultimate in boring?... well, watching grass grow is a little more exciting... maybe...

The cats and walrus have competition... where is your Rocky now?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Take this job and shove it.

A few days ago I was searching for an old TripTik for our Gatlinburg trip and came across an old letter of resignation from a job 10 years back. And it brought back memories of how fun it was to quit that particular job.

If was fun for several reasons, but mainly because it was the only graphic design job I ever got to quit... willingly.

For a lot of people older than me, the idea of changing jobs ever year or so seems alien and unfathomable. But for those of you 30-somethings and younger, changing you job every year is a habit. You learn quickly to keep your resume updated and sometimes you even get to know the folks at your local unemployment office on a first name basis.

Since 1989, I’ve gone thru 7 design jobs. Gone are the days where you entered a company on the ground level, worked your way up the corporate ladder by dedication, hard work and respect (and maybe a little ass-kissing) and, after decades of loyal service, were rewarded with a nice pension and a gold watch.

Nope. Sorry folks, but that Saturday Evening Post portrait of the work ethic is as dead as a roadkill possum.

Nowadays we all make constant changes and additions to our resume. We all keep in contact with a wide variety of friends and former co-workers to continuously network in order to find a better place of employment. And some of us are lucky enough to be in a field where businesses close up on a regular basis.

But like I said, I was able to leave this job willingly. This was the car graphics place owned and operated by a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’ll give them credit in that they never used their religion, or the lack of mine for that matter, as an excuse to hire or not to hire. But working with Witnesses is quite strange. I only had one employee ever try to ‘convert’ me and I shut him up fast. We’d worked together in the same office for several months and the subject never came up. One day out of the blue we just started talking religion and, after a long discussion, the conversation ended with this:

CoWorker: “So, do you ever read much?”

Me: “Oh, yeah. I read all the time. I love books.”

“Well, if I gave you a book, would you read it?”

“Sure. If you return the favor and read a book I loan you.”

End of conversation. Never to be brought up again. And if you know me and my book collection, you know why he never followed up on his offer.

There were a few factors why I was glad to leave this place besides the Witness Factor. They paid me squat. I had been laid off from a newspaper job and this was my next place of employment. They started me out at less what I was making before (and THAT wasn’t impressive to begin with) and, even with a raise a year later, I will still making less.

There was also the blatant eavesdropping of the Head Accountant’s son (nepotism was bad here). He found great pleasure in hacking some secret files and reading all of our emails every night while he was supposed to be working.

And there was also the fact that two of our supervisors had hair that was not their own. It was really hard to keep a straight face when the president of the company scratched his head and his whole hairline moved. Or when the production manager was running late and came in with his rug improperly glued to where you could see the weave peeling from his smooth head.

At one time I wanted to get fired I disliked that place so much. Witness boy eventually left my office to work elsewhere and he was replaced by “Tony” who became my partner in crime. We were bad, very bad. When we shared an office with a large glass window, we covered the glass with pictures of fish so it looked like we were in an aquarium.

We eventually got kicked out of our office (so an expensive piece of printing equipment could reside there) and got moved to a cubicle. To make it more ‘homey,’ we installed blue film and ruby lith in the overhead fluorescent lights to give it a disco effect. We hung up Christmas lights and curtained off our cubicle doorway. Toys littered the floor. It looked like a damn day care.

We also had a growing ball of scrap vinyl from the car graphic cut-outs that we rolled all over the place. Tony eventually learned how to walk on it and would often be seen ‘rolling’ down the hall.

We also flipped Slinkies down the stairs. There’s nothing better that having the toupee-wearing president open his office door to see my ass in the air as I toss down a Slinky to a waiting Tony at the bottom of the stairs.

All this and I never got fired. Instead I job hunted until I found Job #5. Which allowed me to create this lovely piece you now see. I handed one to each of my supervisors (including the Toupee President). I even rolled each one up and included a ribbon and wax seal.

So now I’m on Job #7. Been here for over 5 years and I hope they continue to keep me. But I’m always on the lookout for something better. Habit now. Part of the Generation X Mental Training for the Job World. Hopefully I’ll never have to create another resignation scroll, but you have my permission to use this as a template.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Getting my kicks on Interstate 75

Been kinda quiet round these here parts. Work’s been slow, but just started to pick back up. Doesn’t matter. My brain hasn’t been at work for a while. It’s been walking the strip in Gatlinburg.

The brain trip has been interrupted a few times. I’ve been devouring an average of 3 books a week and I’ve been meeting/emailing with my Haunted House team - yes, major construction starts in 3 weeks, can you believe it? But when I’m not engrossed in a book or in a virtual conversation about ‘Timmy, the boiler room monster boy,’ I’ve been focusing my thoughts on our upcoming annual trip.

My brain has been up and down the strip several times now, making note of all my favorite shops and eateries. I’m making a shopping list for Pepper Palace (so all you Pepperhead friends of mine, you better let me know your requests soon), keeping plenty of room in the trunk for any swords or other metal toys we might bring home, and salivating at the thought of Best Italian - home of the world famous Garlic Rolls.

Yeah, it’s gonna be a great trip. The cat vomiting on the carpet yesterday can’t get me down. Nor the fact that I just tore a contact lens and am now sitting here half blind. Gas prices... well, yeah, gas prices always piss me off but it’s not gonna totally dampen my outlook. Hell, the fact that Jeremy Falwell just croaked kinda makes up for that. Plus the weather’s supposed to be pretty damn nice.

I so enjoy this roadtrip. This year is especially nice since we’ll be traveling in the new Honda and giving my Focus a break. The spouse and I let my iPod run the whole time with us playing a goofy version of Name That Tune. Plus we’ll be making stops at a couple of the Christmas decor outlets.

Now I can already hear some of you say, “What? YOU?! YOU going to a CHRISTMAS shop?” Well, yes, actually. See, I’ve got a project this summer. Our own little State Fair actually has a Christmas Tree competition. And I’ve been saying for years that I was gonna enter something very non traditional. I’ve already got a 3 and a half foot tree, a can of black spray paint and a bunch of purple lights. All I need are a ton of purple ornaments.

Yep, a “Gothy Little Christmas” is gonna be my entry this year. I already have the all-red tree, but it’s not exactly entry-worthy. We’ll just take this here fake tree, paint it black and lavish it with all purple decorations and see what we can win.

The spouse gets into the whole holiday decorating, too. A couple of years ago we stopped at the ‘drunken Santa outlet’ and he went hog wild with lights.

(The Drunken Santa Outlet is not the real name of the place, Hell, I can’t remember the name of the place, but on the billboard it has this poorly drawn Santa that looks terribly intoxicated. See for yourself...)

(Yeah, I told you it was bad. But they have great stuff. And the spouse looks cute, so I had to post this.)

So in 3 days we’re outta here. We can’t wait to get filled up on hot sauce, pasta and Garlic Rolls. Then kick back in the hotel pool and, as the garlic/hot sauce mixture seeps from our pores, make soup.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Random thoughts and links, part 104

Well, I hope everyone celebrated No Pants Day in proper form today. I couldn't exactly participate pantless at work but dammit, now here at home with my fat, lumpy ass parked in front of this here iMac, damn straight I ain't wearin' no pants.

It definitely feels good to let it 'all hang out,' so to speak.

In the good news department, the allergy invasion seems to be weakening. The headache migrated from the front of the skull to the back, then disappeared completely while the nasal irritation has turned into a simple back-of-the-throat drainage. I think I'll live.

And June the 6th can't get here fast enough. Looks like we got us a new season of Ghost Hunters. So the phone and the computer will be shut off Wednesday nights this summer. Emergencies will just have to wait until Thursday morning.

I saw a great bumper sticker yesterday: "George W. Bush; The President Quayle We Never Had." And speaking of Stupid White Men (I'm currently reading that right now, by the way - great book), the local gas stations are currently ass-raping everybody for gas at $3.19, although some places have lowered their price to a bargain of $3.08. At first I thought it was to drain every last penny out of the Kentucky Derby weekend visitors, but according to Gas Buddy, the ass-raping is rampant in other areas, too.

Lousy bastards. Getting us all lubed up for one hell of a summer already.

One last thing before we get to the links. Looks like we done scared another one away. Our new guy in our department at work is already bolting... after only 3 weeks. Seems that he got a better offer elsewhere.

Now hold onto your butts, especially you local friends and neighbors who've known me for more than a decade. Guess, JUST GUESS, where new guy is going? Go on, I'll wait...

THE JEHOVAH WITNESS PLACE! That one graphics company I worked for back in '97 that A) paid me dick - hence the reason I left; B) was owned by a bunch of Jehovah Witnesses and C) whose President of the company had hair that was not his own.

Yeah, I discovered that about 3 weeks into the job. I was sitting in on a meeting with the President himself and, as he leans back in his chair with his hands behind his head, gave himself a good head scratch that shifted his entire hair line. Some weeks it would change colors, like from blonde, to black, to brown, to ash. I think he had a collection of them that he randomly chose from each morning. Or maybe he was trying to coordination with his shirt and pants each day.

Needless to say, I warned new guy about where he was going. Personally, I'm shocked the place was still around. When I left in '97 others were leaving in droves for the same reason. Plus business had slowed WAY down, too. Hmph. Guess they're paying better than dick now.

Once again, who knows what kind of life form will be inhabiting our little dark corner of workspace hell next...

Onto more fun things.

I am so making one of these... they look so comfy.

The spouse and I play Scrabble occassionally... these look comfy, too.

The joy of being an Art Director in advertising... yum.

Why is this funny?... I do the same thing after about 9 chocolate covered espresso beans.

Hello, I'm a Mac... and I'm a Domino.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Big Sneeze

It’s that time of year again. The weather is nice and warm. The flowers are up and in full bloom. The trees are budding and leafing out.

And the interior of my skull is on fire.

It started this weekend. Very subtle. Hardly even noticed the occasionally sniff. Spent lots of time outside, planting 106 purple, blue and lavender pansies in the front yard. Got to spend some time on the deck, too.

Then Monday I can barely keep my head up and straight because of the weight. It felt like a bowling ball on a pipe cleaner. I think every ounce of blood was in my forehead. My vision blurred a little as each heartbeat thundered thru my skull. A healthy dose of Exedrin® Migraine killed that bad boy eventually, but that’s when the sneezing started.

Normally I don’t mind sneezing. Sometimes it’s kinda fun. But not when I’m at work. I’m have a horrible fear of sneezing at work. Because you never know when a sneeze could result in a fart. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Your whole body decides that expelling offending matter thru the nose is not sufficient and chooses to utilize every orifice instead.

So I sit there constantly stifling off a potential sneeze. And making frequent trips to the bathroom to ease off any tension.

The other dilemma is, as mentioned, the burning. As soon as the seasonal allergies kick in my nasal passages close up completely. Breathe Right® strips don’t work. Vicks® vapor stuff only works a little. Unfortunately my only option is nasal spray.

Nasal spray is horrid. Yeah, it opens you up and you can breathe but it leaves a nasty, chemical taste in your mouth and your nasal passages feel like they’re housing an entire colony of fire ants.

And it’s worse when the pain goes to your ears. And your mouth. Right now my ears feel like I’m at 30,000 feet and the inside of my mouth is acid sore.

But I can breathe, if I don’t mind that each inhalation is stirring up the fire ants, causing them to break out the flamethrowers in celebration.

I was hoping to kill this year’s hay fever off quickly. I’ve been free-basing the vitamin C, drinking gallons of orange juice and herbal tea with locally-produced honey (supposed to help with allergies) and chomping Cold-Eeze® when I remember. But last night I was miserable. The spouse made sure I was aware that.

His quote today: “Man, when I came to bed last night and saw you sitting up reading your book, you looked like hell.”

It’s nice to be loved. Oh well, I’m saving a special sneeze for him later this evening.