Friday, December 28, 2007

One More Fool in the Chimney

Just in time for the New Year, and just as I was thinking of taking down my chimney-fool roster, here is yet another one. This time, in Australia.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto Assassination

I haven't been great about following current events, especially world affairs, but even with my limited knowledge I can safely say that we all saw this coming. Pakistan is a shaky mess, so this could get very, very ugly.

Christmas Update Soon to Come

I've got a few funny stories and other tidbits from Christmas and the run-up thereto, but I need to get organized first. I have some pictures to sort through, thoughts to unclutter, and the rhythm of work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep to get back into.

Once I get it together, I'll share the joy.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I just cut out some manufacturers coupons for our next grocery store trip. Oh, yes, I'm more than willing to risk scorn and ridicule to save $1 on a jar of Mount Olive pickles. That's a buck for another jar of pickles.

This week, there was a whole page of coupons for this new McDonald's McSkillet Burrito. Apparantly it's quite something, because it's all over the TV and the radio.

Here's what's killing me, though: there are two coupons for $1 off the McSkillet. There are two coupons for a free McSkillet if you buy a drink. Then, there are two coupons that say if you buy a McSkillet you get a free breakfast sammich, but if you look in the fine print, you can get another McSkillet, a biscuit, a McGriddle, or a McMuffin . . . but you CAN'T get a "Bagel product".

I didn't even know that McD's had bagel products, but why confuse your staff and piss off your customers over this technicality. Do they want to sell the McSkillet or no? Come on, I hate to second guess one of the biggest corporations in the world, but that is some stupid McThinking right there.

One More Traffic Rant

My two mile commute up and down Jefferson Street hardly causes high anxiety. Before we moved to Roanoke, we lived south of Alexandria, VA, and commuted into DC every day. It could be 20 minutes or 120 minutes on any given day.

Not so much here in Roanoke. My commute now takes less than five minutes. LBB commutes about twenty feet from upstairs to down.

Still, peeves don't break for the holidays, so let me get one more thing off my chest before fully embracing the spirit of the season.

This drives me nuts, and it happens every single day on the way home from work: someone planning to turn left at a light doesn't bother to flip on their turn signal until after the light turns green. They have to wait for oncoming traffic, and you are stuck behind this Numbnuts because fresh traffic is now passing you on the right. You could have passed by earlier, had you know that Numbnuts was not going straight through the light.

The only reason I fall for this day after day is that I think it is considerate to stay out of the right lane, just in case someone is planning to turn right!

In DC, you can only be peeved at the masses. You're stuck in traffic because a million people are trying to get from A to B at the same time. Here in Ro'noke, it's easy to place the blame on some inconsiderate fool.

If you are turning left, do me a favor and give me a signal. Ok?

Lists of Four

I found this meme deep in another blogger's archives, so because his original post is so old, I'm not going to link back to it. Plus, he's deceased so I guess he won't mind.

Anyway, here are my answers.

Four jobs you've had in your life:
supermarket cashier, convenience store clerk, dump truck driver, information systems consultant

Four movies you could [and do] watch over and over:
Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Godfather

Four places you've lived:
Poughkeepsie, NY; Rochester, NY; Washington, DC; Roanoke, VA

Four fiction books you can't live without:
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway; The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Four non-fiction books you consider essential:
the dictionary; A Susan Sontag Reader; Hoyle's Rules of Games; Rand McNally's Road Atlas

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Curb Your Enthusiasm; South Park; Sports Center; America's Funniest Home Videos (the boy loves it, especially the skiing accidents - sorry Sonny Bono!)

Four places you've been on vacation:
the White Mountains of NH; Outer Banks of NC; Key West, FL; Wintergreen, VA

Four websites you visit daily:
The Onion; Wikipedia; Overheard in New York; my Google Reader page (I know that's a cop out, but it's how I get to everyone's blogs!)

Four of your favorite foods:
almost any kind of seafood; fetuccini alfredo; anything rolled in a tortilla; egg salad

Four places you'd rather be:
Key West; skiing; home in front of the fireplace; having a catch with my son

Four albums you can't live without [Note: this was nearly impossible to limit to four]:
The Royal Scam, Steely Dan; Seventeen Seconds, The Cure; Presence, Led Zeppelin; Ambient, Moby

Anyone else want to play along?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Went and Got Myself Hit By a Goddam Car

Leaving work today, as I was walking to the parking garage and whistling a jolly tune, I went and got myself hit by a goddam car. It reminds me of this classic piece from The Onion.

I only have to go through two intersections to get to my car, and today I didn't even make it through the first one.

I was walking with the light. I had the bright white WALK sign in my favor. There was a car in the cross street planning to turn right, across my path, but she had a red light. Granted, there was not a "No Turn On Red" sign, but she needed to heed the pedestrians and there was traffic coming from her left.

This was a late model Audi, I think.

The car was partially into the crosswalk, but did come to a complete stop. I had ample room in the crosswalk to pass in front of this car without impeding the oncoming traffic parallel to my route.

Well, I got one step in front of this woman and she gunned it. It's a good thing I was there or she would have been t-boned by the oncoming traffic. The scary thing though, as I hopped on my right leg and rolled face first on to the hood of her car, was that she was shoving me into the oncoming traffic that she obviously didn't see as she wasn't paying attention to me.


So, thankfully, she did stop quickly, and I rolled off her hood into the intersection. I gave her the New York "WTF?" sign - no, not the finger, but outstretched arms, upraised palms and a chagrined look, pleading, "Why?"

She mouthed, "Are you OK?", but she didn't get out of the car, nor did she roll down the window, nor did she put down her cell phone.

I'm sorry, people. I've done it (rarely), I'm not innocent, but there is not a one of you that can convince me that it's safe to drive and talk on the phone. I got lucky. I'm fine, but next time, some schmuck is going to get his ass totally creamed by a goddam car. Blammo!

Delays, Barriers, and Hindrances

Somehow, I'm not meant to get any Christmas shopping done this year. Things are not working out.

Monday night, TB had a swim team dinner at Henry's Memphis BBQ. I had promised him we would shop for his Momma on Tuesday, but then he wanted to have a friend over and there was a group going caroling, so Tuesday was no good. We finished up our BBQ about 6:45 Monday, so I thought, let's squeeze in an hour or so right now and maybe we can finish up.

We headed out toward the big mall, but there was a crash on the interstate. 45 minutes of not moving an inch, with bedtime creeping up on us, convinced me to do the big U, go the wrong way down the shoulder, and exit backward off the highway toward home. Everyone else was doing it, too.

I thought we had enough time to get to one other store that is near home. We pulled up about 7:55 thinking, surely the week before Christmas they will stay open until 8:00. Nope. Closed at 6:00.

Home we went.

Tuesday, the boy had his friend over and went caroling so I shopped solo. First I went to Target. My wife has said repeatedly that anything you need you can get at Target. Let me tell you, she couldn't be more wrong. They don't have shit. I did find one impulse item each for LBB and the boy, but the one thing I was planning to buy was out of stock. On the off chance that my wife will actually read this post (ha! never happens), I'm not going to mention what it is.

Then I headed to Lowe's because my son said he saw a "big #48 Lowe's car" there, that being Jimmy Johnson's car. Well, they had one but it was $25 for something he's just going to use to crash into his already demolished #1 Pennzoil car. I love my boy, but neither of us are big NASCAR fans, so forget it. I can find him something better for $25. He already has the Wii coming, so enough is enough. I did get him Battleship at Target. He loves Battleship.

I was still looking at stuff in Lowe's when I got paged for work, so I had to cut it short and head home. I realized I had forgotten to look for the basketball cards the boy wanted. He asked for them for his birthday, next June(??) but I thought they would make a good stocking stuffer.

So, Tuesday's excursion was less than successful. The item I really wanted at Target I went ahead and ordered from their website. 3-5 day shipping, it promised, which would be about Monday. Perfect. This morning, they sent an email that the item shipped. I clicked on the link to track it, it still said 3-5 days, but also said expect delivery "between December 28 and January 7." Strange definition of 3-5 days. I know, I know. I should expect it this time of year.

Today I looked around the downtown market area a bit. I found one thing for LBB, and some towel hooks I really liked but the colors were all mismatched. We are getting ready to paint the master bedroom and bathroom. I know towel hooks aren't the most romantic gift, but I think it's sort of thoughtful. Right? LBB wants to paint some shades of green and brown - yes, this terrifies me - so it wouldn't take much of a difference in tone for the color to be all wrong.

Tonight, busy. Tomorrow night, busy. So I guess I'll be among the desperate procrastinators in the stores this weekend.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good God, More Rachael Ray?

Looks like Rachael Ray has yet another TV series coming up. This isn't the type of thing that I would normally take time to discuss.

I had never watched her daytime talk show, and never sat through an entire episode of "30 Minute Meals". I have seen her on talk shows, a million magazine covers at the grocery store, and yes, I've downloaded a recipe or two from her show off the Food Network website. I didn't search for her show, specifically, but if you are looking for a certain type of dish, a lot of easy stuff comes from her show.

All in all, up until recently, I thought her rather attractive, with a nice smile and a pleasant attitude.

Then, the other day, I caught a snippet of her talk show and it was like she was on crystal meth. She was cutting up celery or the like in a state of crazed ecstasy. Her drippy descriptions of the whatever she was making, complete with "Mmm, boys", and other bizzare sound effects was just too much to take. I had to shut her off in less than a minute for fear my TV screen would crack from the enthusiasm. It was just too much.

So folks, I ask you a simple question: what do you think about Rachael? Love her or hate her? Sweet or psychotic? Either way, she's going to be in our face for a few more years.

Friday, December 14, 2007


I'm getting ready to go pick up my wife's car from the shop. Check that one off the list, and then we will fix my fender bender in January.

Then at 6:00, TB and I get to ride on a float with his Cub Scout pack in the downtown Christmas parade. I think we get to hurl candy at bystanders.

I haven't been in a parade since second grade, when the Flutophone players marched and tooted out "Marching to Pretoria" or something like that. Remember the flutophone? Do kids still play those things? I remember thinking they were shrill even when I was eight years old!

Then we have about a hundred parties this weekend and I need to start some Christmas shopping. Usually, I buy a lot online. This year, I haven't done anything. Zero. Nada. I know what I'm looking for, I just haven't had time to get out. Maybe I'll drag the boy for my annual visit to the mall on Saturday. I'll bribe him with a Chik-Fil-A.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stuck in the Chimney

Fourteen days before Christmas. I've collected fourteen stuck in the chimney stories. Most are recent, but a few are from long, long ago. See the left sidebar for the whole list.

Anyone have any more drunks in the chimney stories? I'm just trying to make a list so Santa knows which chimneys to avoid.

New Songs

I added a few songs to the long neglected FineTune player tonight, specifically some Roger Waters, Shriekback, Dwight Yoakam, and . . . ah, um . . . one Journey song that I really like.

I haven't clicked over there in awhile, but tonight, after I added these, I kicked it off. About five songs in it played the Johnny Cash version of Hurt. Auuughghh! Listen to that and if you tell me you're not torn up, well, I don't believe you.

Go to the left sidebar and have a listen!

It's Too Ironic

Don't you think?

The definition of irony has always troubled me, and many others. It's certainly not "rain on your wedding day", as Alanis Morrissette sang. It's more like, wife runs off with the priest on your wedding day.

Its other meaning isn't quite sarcasm, either. It's more wry, less venom.

So why is it that it's still the first word that comes to mind in situations like this? My wife and I, last Christmas (2006) decided to get gas logs for our fireplace as our mutual gift. Well, we waited and waited and never got around to it, and finally, two weeks ago, we bought the logs.

We called a few plumbers and other contractors of that ilk to get estimates, and finally settled on the company we already contract with for heating and cooling.

So they came today, ran the gas lines, set up the logs, and now we are ready for a warm, cozy maintenance free fire.

Except it was about 72 damn degrees today, and it's still over 60 at 9:15 PM. Who needs a fire?

Isn't it ironic? Don't you think? I bet you do, but it isn't. It's not really a shame, either, if you want to be technical about it.

This coming weekend, icy conditions and cold air should present perfect conditions to enjoy a synthetic fire. That, I think, is just a bit ironic.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Vehicular Homicide

Three days after fussing about all the recent troubles with my Camry, this morning I crashed my Eclipse into a cement pillar in the parking garage. I can still drive it, but the passenger side is all messed up. The rear quarter panel will have to be replaced. I'm hoping the door is OK. I was so disgusted with myself that I just locked my car and went to work without really looking at it too closely.

Now I want sell that car, like today, but I guess I need to fix it first. Rats!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blue Oyster Cat

Wholly crap! Mr. Helpful recently reminded me about a band that was huge in my childhood: Blue Oyster Cult. They were from Long Island, and they played frequently in my hometown. The big story was that they used to perform at a local club as "Soft White Underbelly", without any hype, as they prepared for a tour. I'm not sure if that was true, because I was too young to verify it.

Well, let me tell you, as many good songs as they had - and you know them: Godzilla, Don't Fear the Reaper, Burning For You, and many more - they had a whole mess of shitty songs, too. In an era of album oriented rock, I can't believe they actually made it. Most of their albums had a hit, one or two other good rocking songs, and a whole lot of odd mess.

I had the Agents of Fortune album, but that was ruined along with all the rest of my records when one of our cats decided to pee all over them. I chucked them all in the dumpster when we moved to this house.

You wouldn't believe how many great albums that cat ruined. The whole Kiss collection (through Dynasty - that's as far as you need to go), the complete Led Zeppelin collection (except for III, which, oddly, is the only one I now have on CD), several Crosby Stills and Nash records, Fleetwood Mac, some Tangerine Dream, The Smiths, The Cure, The Cocteau Twins, a bunch of Yes and Genesis. Even the Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtracks. The biggest loss was Aerosmith Rocks, which I think is the best rock album of all time. That and Get Your Wings are the only Aerosmith albums you need. They started to suck about 1977. I'm not sure why they've made it as far as they have.

That cat trashed hundreds of records, and he peed on the lower levels of my CD collection, too. I didn't toss them out. I did the best I could to clean them up, but those in the R's and S's are somewhat compromised. The discs are OK, but the cover art is all pale and crisp. Those hardest hit were the Rolling Stones, REM, and Sade.

Damn cat.

Vehicular Suicide

Both of our cars are acting up lately, and I feel a bit betrayed since I was praising my 12 year old Camry just recently on the blog.

The Camry, a 1996, has 145,000 miles or so, and it's never needed anything but routine maintenance. It's been a great car. No serious issues.

Two weeks ago, though, the trouble began when the starter burned out. Then last night it started making this moaning noise when you turned the wheel. It sounds like a humpback whale. Turns out now it needs a power steering pump.

So now, nearly $1000 later, I'm starting to wonder about this car. These repairs are in the bag, so I guess we will hang on for awhile, but now I feel like it might become a money pit. It's been our "family" car since we bought it, and it's what we use on long trips, because the other vehicle is a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse which is not exactly passenger friendly in the back seat. I bought it about six months before we found out we were having a kid, otherwise we might have made another choice.

The Eclipse was a fun car for awhile, but now I just get annoyed cramming my big ais in that little tuna can. Plus, it being a two door, I have to really squeeze to get in and out of it in the parking garage downtown, where the spaces leave you only about 3 inches on either side.

There's nothing wrong with it, mechanically, and it only has 54,000 miles on it, but there are a few things that drive me nuts: the radio pops and crackles, the driver's side window freezes shut, it's really low to the ground and somehow gets water up inside it whenever it rains hard - thus leaving a mildewy smell that lingers for weeks, it takes forever to heat up -I'm at work before it's even starting to get warm, and it's a somewhat effeminate blue/green color that I regretted shortly after purchase.

I want to get rid of that car, not the Camry. The plan has been to sell the Mitsu, I'll drive the Camry to work, and for LBB, buy a fuel-efficient small SUV, like a Honda CRX. That's my wife's pick, although I kinda like the Acura RDX. We will probably end up with the Honda, because the Acura only comes in 4-wheel drive, which we don't need (most of you out there who think you need 4-wheel drive are, quite simply, wrong). Also, LBB doesn't want leather seats (for ethical reasons - yawn, whatever), and I doubt you can get the Acura without leather.

I'm still a bit leery of hybrids. Although I'm all for the concept of it, I've heard that if the power pack (or whatever you call it) goes bad, it could be a $7-8K repair. Plus, other than the Prius, the mileage on most hybrids isn't all that much better if you stick with front-wheel drive four cylinder vehicles.

So, any recommendations?

We've Been Elfed

There's a whole lot of elfing going on this week. It's better than being punk'd, I guess.

That's me on the left, elfed by the Circle's photographer, along with Carter (Legaleasy columnist), Brent (Circle publisher), and Paul (Economics 24014 columnist).

OK, Maryann, you know what they say about paybacks, right?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

TV: Possessed!

Anyone ever had a TV set that turns on all by itself without provocation? It's happened five times that I know about, four of them when I was on the computer (just a few feet away) and once in the middle of the night. This is a 7 or 8 year old JVC TV, connected to a Cox Digital cable box. We recently obtained a new remote for the cable box because the old one died. This never happened before the new remote. I have a few theories. Which do you think it is?

1) Someone cleaning the house squirted windex up on the TV and it drippled down into the control panel. That messed up the TV, it shorted out, and it is turning itself on.

2) Something is f'd up with the new remote and it's turning the TV on without anyone even touching it.

3) Some other device is sending a signal to the TV, such as the router, a cell phone, the microwave, or a neighbor's security system.

4) Gremlins.

5) My whole family is hallucinating.

I'd prefer answer #5, because that is the only one that would be any fun to troubleshoot.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Getting Ready for Santa

Aha! See, I'm Not Alone In Disgust

This note just goes to show you that rudeness is universal, harkening back to my earlier complaint.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How Did I Miss This?

Those of you about my age and with the same musical sensibility will be scratching your heads over this, just like I am: how in the world had I never heard New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies album before tonight?

New Order has always been one of my favorites. They hit big right around the time everything was all emotional and huge for me, so their combination of beats, guitar, bass, dance, and moodiness was just what I needed.

First album of theirs I bought was Low Life, then, I think Brotherhood. After that, I backtracked to Movement and some old Joy Division. Somehow, though, I completely ignored Power, Corruption, and Lies except for the songs that ultimately showed up on Substance (Blue Monday and The Beach).

How did I miss this record? Here I am at forty listening to music on Rhapsody, and I feel like I found something completely fresh and new, yet it was right there for the taking 25 years ago.

This is almost how tortured I felt last year when I discovered the Rolling Stones 1976 Black and Blue album. I'm glad I finally found it, but my goodness how it would have helped way back then!

An Ish Wish Dish

I'm right proud of my son tonight. Last time we had a guys weekend, I made a delicious chicken casserole. He loved it, but it was full of deathly heart clogging fat and sodium.

So, of course tonight I wanted to make it again. TB told me that he thought is was good, but "no, no, no casseroles tonight, Daddy!"

I suggested meat loaf, which I haven't had homemade since I went to college in 1985. I'm craving it, but since LBB is vegetarian, it's not likely to be served here on Jefferson Street.

"I don't even know what meat loaf is, Daddy! No, no, no!"

He suggested we make pizzas together. We've done that a few times, it's great fun and tasty, but I wasn't in the mood for that tonight.

"How about fish?" I queried.

"Sure, I like fish," he said.

"If you had a choice of pizza or fish, which would you pick?"

"A wish. I would wish and wish and wish for fish in my dish."

Yeah, OK, he was (sorta) quoting Dr. Seuss, but I was pleased that he picked fish over pizza. Surely he's not thinking of it being more healthful, but he is branching out nicely with his meal preferences. The boy is growing up and turning into a real human being, with thoughts and feelings and conversations. I love it, but it makes me a little sad, too.

This morning we both had haircuts, and on the way home, I remembered that LBB had already gone to the lake, so I thought it might be a good time to go find the Christmas light penguins that she wanted. We hit the local K-mart, but they were out. So we headed to the next closest one and we got the last set on the shelf.

And as much as TB was excited about surprising Momma with the penguins, he still reminded me, "Daddy? You know what we should be thinking about? We should be thinking about what to get Momma for Christmas."

He's a good boy, he loves his Momma, and he's great fun to be with. We tossed the football for darned near two hours this afternoon after putting the lights on the bushes and setting up the new penguins. Now, he's racing the Hudson Hornet (Doc) against the Pennzoil #1 car (circa late 90's NASCAR), and he asked me when I'll be done writing my "memoirs" (his name for my blog, a la LBB).

Bath, stories, and bed. The boy has it made. Nothing makes me happier.