Monday, January 31, 2005

My Dream Car

My Dream Car

My friend, Steve, and I had lunch today. While sitting there, munching down our veggie burgers at the Riata Bar and Grill, a Brinks Truck pulled into the parking lot.

Other people fantasize about driving fast cars like Ferrari's or maybe luxury cars like a Rolls Royce. Perhaps you fancy a Cadillac? Or an older cool car, like a '55 T-bird? Not me. Me? I want a Brinks Truck.

Sure, they go slow, don't get good gas mileage, are prone to attack (!) but think about it. Just picture yourself sitting in the back, high on pile after pile of moneybags. You could even sneak in some Champagne and find yourself saying things like, "who cares? Just drive! We've got more than enough in this little bag right here to cover gas for the trip there and back." You could even get pretty little Champagne glasses to go with your large caliber sidearms.

I read an interview with Eric Clapton once where he talked about getting an extra long Caddy, "that smelled like cheap whiskey and sex in the back seat," just for the inspiration. He would drive around the Southland, writing songs about that smell and the culture from which it emanated. Imagine how inspiring a Brinks Truck would be. Imagine the smell of all those dead presidents, the sight of greenbacks every way your eye could see, the mounds of cold, hard cash surrounding you like a blanket on a cold winter's day. Talk about a security blanket.

If you had a Brinks Truck and the contents within, you could always buy yourself a Ferrari, a pink Caddy, a Rolls, and crap, even throw in a Humvee for good measure. You could always use the Brinks Truck to buy the other cars but, alas, you can't use the other cars to buy youself a Brinks Truck. And that, my friends, that is why my ultimate fantasy vehicle, my most inspired wheels, my dream buggy is, in fact, a Brinks Truck.

It would have to be that or something that didn't need gas, didn't need oil, never broke down, didn't get repaired, never used tires and basically didn't require me to think about it at all. Pretty much, shy of teleporting there, I want to ride in a Brinks Truck. It's what I call "travelin' in style."

Gives a whole new meaning to the words, "'Got shotgun," doesn't it?

Until next time...

Friday, January 28, 2005

You Hate Me. You Really Really Hate Me

You Hate Me. You Really Really Hate Me

Every once in a while, I get a genuine "hate-o-gram" in my email. Somebody, out in the great cosmos of the web, actually sits down, takes the time, constructs a carefully worded letter, telling me "what a bad writer I am," how boring my weblog is, or how I should just "write normally." I, usually, read these letters, and mark them for deletion about as quickly as I mark the "enlarge your penis in ten minutes" emails that come my way. It just doesn't make for interesting reading, there's nothing I can do about my writing style, and this is "normal" for me. I've tried explaining to folks in the past that, "this is just how I write" and it customarily falls upon deaf ears.

Since I'm not really a writer, I can't possibly be considered a "good" writer, can I? Since I update the content on this site only because I want to improve my writing skills, sort of "flex the muscles" if you will, you can't really expect me to come out with some mind-blowing hysterically funny posting every ten minutes, can you? I mean, if I could do that, I wouldn't be writing a web-log, I'd be off in the sunset writing best selling novels, Hollywood screenplays, or some other "valid" work. That's just how the web, specifically the land of the blog, works. It's cheap, easy, and free but you get what you pay for.

I happened across a website today that talked about the elements that makeup a "good" blog. Now, these elements, while all subjective, don't belong to me. They were passed off by a "design expert" who, presumably, knows what he's talking about.

He says the five things that makeup a "good blog" are: candor, urgency, timeliness, pithiness, and controversy. (I don't think I really even know what some of these things actually mean. I mean, how can you write with "candor" and what exactly is "pithiness?")

Even if I did the candor, urgent, timely, pithy, controversial blog of the century, I'm convinced that there'd be somebody out there who would take the time to actually sit down and write me an email, "Dude, you sooo need to write like all normal and stuff."

And I would pay about as much honor and attention to an email that starts off "Dude" as I would to one that starts off "Enlarge your penis" but, hey, that's just me. What do I know? It's not like I'm a "design expert" or anything.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Mail Order Fatigue

Mail Order Fatigue

My shopping list, after attending the photo weekend, has grown so long, detailed, and intensive that I feel like I've come down with a case of mail order fatigue.

Every day, I get home, turn on the computer, track the packages that are in route to my house, check sites like cnet, mysimon, and for info and pricing on some of the stuff I haven't ordered yet, fight with the navigation and forms on the el-cheap-o sites, enter random personal info, and hope for the bargains to arrive in less than a year or so.

It's a vicious cycle. Sometimes, you have to buy things before you can buy other things. Sometimes, you have to keep notes about what you bought, so that you don't get something that's incompatible with the something the nice UPS man hasn't even delivered yet. I believe the post office now knows my name and where I live, the FedEx guy wants to kill me, and the UPS man is officially bow-legged.

You've heard that joke about bow-legged man and the little boy right?
So, this kid's walking through the mall with his parents and he happens
upon a man who's bow-legged. "Look at that poor bow-legged bastard," the boy says. Shocked, his parents resolve to send him to boarding school, so they can provide a better education for there daemon spawn potty-mouthed child.

After a few months of study, he comes back for Christmas break. He's got
good marks in school, well versed in the arts, and has even taken to quoting
Shakespeare. Boarding school appears to have done him good.

He's in the mall with his parents over break when he happens upon the same bow-legged man. Turning to his parents, he says, "Hark! What sort of men are these? With testicles in parenthesis..."

Gnuck, gnuck, gnuck, gnuck, gnuck. You weren't expecting it to actually be funny, were you?

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Snap, Click, Curse, Repeat

Snap, Click, Curse, Repeat

This past weekend, I attended the Rocky Mountain School of Photography's Digital Weekend Workshop, held in my now hometown of beautiful, sunny Austin, TX. Before I forget and start to talk about the price of tea in China, the horses in Chicopee, or whatever else happens into my feeble mind this morning, I thought it would be a good idea to recap the weekend events.

The first day of the workshop could best be summed up by saying, "shoot in RAW format! shoot in RAW format!" After learning what I did about exposure, and the fun you can have manipulating a RAW format image, I've decided that I will probably never shoot in JPEG again.

Also, I am now convinced I need a full-blown copy of Adobe Photoshop. It just does that much with so little that I might have half a chance of getting something nice out of it, if I bracket, shoot carefully, and get all creative and stuff.

I've come out of the weekend complete with a shopping list of items I need to purchase, so I'll frantically be hitting the web over the next few weeks, in an attempt at getting my digital darkroom setup before my self-imposed deadline of March. It's going to be close, but it's still within reach at this point. Some of my shopping items are software-related, so I'll be sure to talk about this again, at a later point.

Don't you go looking at that LCD on the back of the digital camera. They told us this was bad. We still need to compose by looking through the peephole. Only use the LCD for checking COMPOSITION (not exposure, see note about RAW format above.) That, and, it does wonders at making you seasick if you twirl around the room with it.

We still need tripods. The instructor made a funny joke about this. He got up in front of the class and was like, "maybe you've seen them? They're these funny-looking things with like 3 legs and stuff?!?"

Did you know that there's a guy named Rob Galbraith who has entirely way too much time on his hands? I know this because they told us about his website, where he actually rates, for speed and other factors, each of the various formats of CompactFlash and other memory available for digital cameras. Rob, thanks for you hard work and dedication, now go get a life.

I now know what a "Master Photoshop File" is and what to do with it. My images won't look any better but, hey, now my life is complete, right?

Did you know that, if you want to sharpen an image, you can actually use something called "The Unsharp Mask?"

Oh, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I see it all now. How did I miss so much obvious stuff before? Ah, vision. Insight is so overrated these days.

Until next time...

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Theory of the London Tubes

The Theory of the London Tubes

I saw an old friend, one I hadn't seen in a long time, while attending a photography workshop this weekend. She just got back from a long photo shoot out in Terlingua. I asked her how it was, and we got to talking. She said she was traveling out there with another friend of mine who, "didn't hold up too well under the travel."

"What do you mean," I asked?

"Well, about two days into the trip, I could tell she was feeling stressed," she said, "and then she accused me of stealing her toothpaste." The friend in question had, apparently, purchased one of those "trial sized" travel tubes of toothpaste, and it was, apparently, misplaced. I just got a mental picture of these two ladies, both fairly well-to-do, with big Texas hair, fancy jewelry, fine grained leather Coach bags, out in the middle of nowhere Terlingua, fighting over toiletries. "Colgate Thief!" "It was mine!" They would shout as they each emptied their collective high grade leather, $300 travel bags, while frantically searching for a 68 cent tube of toothpaste which somebody probably just forgot to pack, mere seconds shy of killing each other.

I have a theory about this. I think that everybody who travels a lot has, embedded deep within their psyche, a story about toothpaste. Now, I don't know what it is about this particular toiletry in question but, I swear, there's something about toothpaste and travelers that just inspires oddness and strange behavior. At least, it doesn't appear happen with hairspray.

To support my theory, I too have a strange story involving toothpaste. Once, when I was traveling to London with a group of friends, I realized (after I was already on the plane) that I had forgotten to pack toothpaste. No big deal, I thought. After we land, I'll stop off on High Street, at a Chemist (what we, in the states, call a pharmacy) in one of the little country towns that dot the landscape, to get me a tube. Every little town in England has a High Street, and every High Street in every little town has a Chemist and every Chemist sells toothpaste. If only I had known then what I know now about the evil lurking in those London tubes.

The plane landed and we boarded a bus, which stopped, predictably, in some little town, with a High Street. The High Street had, you guessed it, a Chemist. I told my friend Hugo, a fellow traveler, "Man, I forgot to pack toothpaste. I'll be right back." I purchased a tube, got back onto the bus, and thought the whole incident was behind me.

That evening, there was a knock on my hotel room. It was Hugo, "damn you. I forgot toothpaste too. I should have gotten some when you did." I loaned him a squirt and told him we could easily get some the next day, on another bus trip to another little town with a High Street and, presumably, another Chemist.

Fast forward to the next day. Hugo runs off the bus, when it stops, on High Street, in some little forgotten town, and brings back toothpaste. Sitting behind us on the bus was a fellow photographer from Japan who didn't speak English too well, and who also happened to ask Hugo what was in the bag.

"It's the best souvenir," Hugo joked as he proudly held up his newly purchased tube, "Everybody's got to get some!"

So much for the joke. The poor helplessly lost Japanese man literally thought that Hugo was instructing everybody to get toothpaste and that we, in fact, HAD to get some, or the bus trip would somehow grind to a halt.

At the next stop, in another little town, on another High Street, inside another Chemist, the Japanese man literally ran in to purchase his very own tube, thinking it mandatory. Like the old telephone game, by the time the toothpaste message was conveyed to the back of the bus, tourists were frantically purchasing toothpaste as fast as their yens could be converted into British pounds. It morphed into some kind of scavenger hunt, where the lucky traveler at the end, the one in possession of the most Crest, would win some kind of door prize, or so they thought. We had people frantically yelling, probably in seventeen different languages, none of which Hugo or I spoke, "Stop! I need a Chemist!" in the middle of nowhere, England. I believe the poor bus guide thought that everybody had taken ill. The bus made frequent random stops at random Chemists, on random High Streets, where helpless non-English-speaking tourists bought as much toothpaste as they could carry, and probably more than would fit in a standard sized carry-on bag. I unknowingly took a lot of pictures on High Streets in the general vicinity of the Chemists.

As you could guess, there were a lot of non-English speaking tourists on the trip, there was no door prize, and, presumably, at least one Chemist, somewhere in some sleepy little town in England was puzzled as to why there was a sudden run on Colgate. I'm guessing the only good news to come from this is that somewhere in Japan there now exists at least one savvy tourist who knows how to ask for "more toothpaste" in something closely resembling proper English.

Chew on that the next time you pack.

Until next time...

Friday, January 21, 2005

Quick Hits

Quick Hits

I'm still feeling miserable so this one's going to be quick.

Here's the latest news:
  • My horrible cold has progressed to the point where I've now got a nice healthy cough. I feel like I've been hanging with the "4 pack a day" club.
  • I can't stand to be at home for more than 2 days in a row. If I see another episode of Jerry Springer, I swear, I'm going to smack up the transexual be-atch myself, I'm not going to wait for the nice man in the pink feather boa and high heeled pumps to chirp in and start the smackdown.
  • You would think that Tivo would be a big help here. I'm now officially afraid of it. It seems to think I'm some kind of criminal. At least, after telling it to record every episode of Law & Order known to mankind, it seems to think I want to watch things like, "cold case files," and "true crimes of the 20th century." Although I must admit the docudrama I saw the other night on Jeffrey Dahmer was quite interesting, it's really starting to scare me. My Tivo has developed a mind of it's own and is basically brewing up a how-to episode-by-episode guide on how to commit the perfect murder. It has me wondering who, exactly, it plans to kill (and how, exactly, it's going to finger me.)
  • The TREE is still in the yard and it's only gotten taller from what I can tell. This is probably due to the fact that Charlie has taken to diligently watering it (and, in case you're wondering, no he hasn't learned how to drag the hose. Use your imagination here, people, please, I'm too sick to be explicit. Well, as explicit as is normal for me, anyway.)

Please stop sending me hate-a-grams. I really am too sick to blog. I promise, once the hacking cough goes and the voice comes back, I'll take it up again.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ah Choo!

Ah Choo!

I seem to have come down with a rather nasty cold so I won't be posting as frequently as is typical over the next few days.

The lensbaby has arrived. I've started picking out scanners but still don't know which one I really want. I need to get both a film scanner and a flatbed, although I think I know which flatbed I really need to get. If you have suggestions on film scanners that you really like (or really hate) email them to me if you please.

Until next time...

Monday, January 17, 2005

Mundane Monday

Mundane Monday

Ok, ok, I know I was all psyched up about going shooting this weekend, and I didn't. I stayed home, it was cold, and I just conked out on the couch. So, like sue me, I didn't take any pictures.

I got the lensbaby in the mail on Saturday. It's actually kind of cute, well, about as cute as an el cheap-o plastic fake lens with a silly "not really working" bellows on the front of it can be. Ok, so maybe cute was a poor choice of words. It's at my house, and that makes it good, even if it's none too cute.

Steve's Tivo has actually blown up. Kaboom, smoke coming out the sides, stopped recording, blown up, blown up. So much for the silly little fake hex that I put on it so that he wouldn't feel so special 'cause he got his first. Kaboom! The good people at Humax are sending him a replacement, in the mail, along with some kind of return label so he can send his back, I guess, to the great Tivo depot in the sky-the place where Tivos with busted out hard drives get their little thumbs turned down one last time for all of eternity. Imagine a junk yard heap of old Tivos with bad hard drives, each having faithfully recorded one half of one episode of "Days of Our Lives" all just sitting there with little puffs of smoke coming out their once cheery little Tivo ears. Eeek. Remind me to stay away.

I'll never put a curse on anything again. Ever. Well, ok, maybe not anything that might actually blow up. Today's martial arts training has served to teach me I best learn to duck more efficiently before I walk headfirst into such situations. That and, I'm planning on staying far away from bar fights, because there's a lot of people in Austin who can come out swinging and take out any low hanging lamps.

Brian Wilson, yes, that Brian Wilson (of the Bare Naked Ladies "Brian Wilson..." song fame, neh, that little summer fun band of the 60's, The Beach Boys,) is going to present at this year's South by Southwest music conference. You can say you read it here first (or not. Nobody actually admits to reading any of this.) I was hoping for something hardcore, something metal-like, something to get my blood pumping. Instead, I ended up with The Beach Boys. At least it's music to swim to Ecuador to.

Until next time...

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hurray! Things I Just Don't Know

Hurray! Things I Just Don't Know

Today is Friday. Now, I know what you're thinking, "She actually knows what day of the week it is, there's hope!" Actually, I'm thinking I kind of feel like that Jamaican guy from the beer commercials. I've been walking around all morning thinking to myself, "Hurray Beer!" That and, "I'm only really certain what day of the week it is on Fridays. And that's alternate Fridays at best."

For some reason, I want a beer today. I don't just want a beer. I really, really, really, really, want a beer. Most of the times, I can take it or leave it when it comes to beer. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a good cold one on a hot summers' day, like any normal red blooded American pop tart. But, today, for some strange reason, I have this huge hankering for a beer. I'm sitting here looking at my coffee (fresh from the $10,000 latte machine. Yes, it really is that good) feeling guilty because I'm fantasizing about beer. Yes, I know, I have weird fantasies. Leave me alone. If you were nice, in fact, you would not only leave me alone, but you'd leave me alone long enough for me to finish my coffee and go get a beer. Hurray Beer!

I feel particularly weird today, because it's Friday and I don't have to go to Fry's. Why is it that I always seem to need oddly sized batteries, a certain DVD I've been wanted for ages, an RCA connector, and a new blender all at the same time? And why, oh why, does this said same time always seem to fall upon a Friday? I mean, I couldn't possibly really need any of those items on a Friday, except for maybe the blender and even that's debatable. (And only on alternate Fridays. Quite possibly, the same alternate Fridays I don't remember.)

On the topic of things I just don't know, why do chimney sweeps wear top hats? Is it because of Mary Poppins? Or something else? Why do so many geeks like me go to Fry's on Friday? Who's playing at this year's South by Southwest? What do they put in beer that makes it so addictive? (besides vitamin P) Why did my damned Tivo suddenly stop working last night? Can I shove that damned happy little Thumbs-up icon up it's ass? (Don't answer that, Steve.) Could a voodoo doll really work? (ditto) What about a Ouija board? (Ok, you can take this one.) When the aliens land on my front lawn and come down off their mother ship, why do they ask to play canasta? What exactly do they have against pinnacle?

Well, I can say one thing for certain. I don't know a lot of things, but I do know I'll be getting a beer sometime today. And, no, I don't need a trip to Fry's, a battery, a DVD, an RCA connector, a blender, a mother ship, a voodoo doll, or a top hat to do it.

Now, where's that damned bottle opener...

Until next time...Hurray!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

March is Coming

March is Coming

In March of this year, I'm planning on subscribing once again to Art Calendar magazine. You might be thinking, "yeah, so what?" but this has a big impact on me and my little world. I'm actually very anxious but yet somehow excited about this.

You see, Art Calendar is the magazine by artists for artists, that has all sorts of articles about art, creativity, yada yada and it also features, in very small little typeface, buried in the back of the probably hand-stapled publication, The Listings.

What is a Listing, you might ask? And that would be a good question. The Listings, as they are called by people in the know (this is now both you and I,) are the running, monthly changing, list of galleries, museums, and other odd hovels, looking for artists to exhibit their work. The Listings are used by people (The Artists, perhaps?) who want to actively exhibit their work.

You see, the way it works is:
  1. The folks at Art Calendar mail out their little hand-stapled magazine by artists for artists that has all sorts of articles about art, creativity, yada yada on the first of the month. In very small little typeface, buried in the back, the people who read this publication, perhaps known as The Artists, can flip to The Listings.
  2. The people, perhaps known as The Artists, eagerly await the arrival of this publication and prey the mailman is not a day late, because the deadlines in The Listings are fast approaching, in fact, many of them have already passed or are, quite likely, about to in ten minutes or less.
  3. The people, perhaps known as The Artists, maniacally tear through The Listings in ten minutes or less (so as not to miss that huge impending afformentioned deadline) trying to figure out which hovel might possibly want to exhibit their crap-on-a-stick and call it artwork. The mailman is not offered sufficient time to flee the scene. Often, he's witness to scraps, shreds, bits, and shards of paper (and, it goes without saying, staples which were once used by hand) flying through the air before his very eyes. The Artists tear through The Listings wondering if their landscape photographs could pass as sculpture from Africa created by aboriginee natives indigineous to New Guinea. (The Listings, you see, are sometimes quite specific. The world has enough "straight white male" artwork, whatever this is, according to The Galleries.)
  4. The wannaba Artists send unsuspecting galleries (in ten minutes or less) a package containing perfectly labeled and mounted slides of their work, complete with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one of them, plus complete biographies, and a spew of undeciferable verbiage that we pompously refer to as The Artist's Statement. (Which defies logic, isn't written in anything resembling proper English, and bears as little possible reflection upon the prior mentioned crap-on-a-stick The Artist is trying to pawn off as artwork as is possible.) Many Artists don't make it past this step because they would prefer to skydive without a parachute, jump off a cliff, or walk into the ocean rather than prepare The Artist's Statement. (We're painters, not writers, you see.)
  5. The Galleries, to use a technical term, take months to selectively cull over which crap-on-a-stick from which lucky people, soon to be Artists, they would like to exhibit. Actually, the packages, as prepared in Step 4 sit and gather dust in the back of The Galleries until 10 minutes before The Exhibition, at which point The Galleries pickup random packages and say things like, "this appears to be crap-on-a-stick but we need something to hang on the wall so send them a postcard."
  6. The people, now officially known as The Artists, receive, in the mail (if the mailman has survived Step 3,) The Postcards, altering them to the fact that their crap-on-a-stick has been accepted into The Gallery and that it must be perfectly matted, framed, and presented in ten minutes, in order to make it there in time for The Opening Reception. It goes without saying that, most people, now officially known as people who didn't get into the show receive postcards alterting them to the fact that their crap-on-a-stick wasn't good enough. Sometimes the postcards contain no markings whatsoever and it's left to the "people" to decifer the fact that they didn't get into The Gallery and which gallery it was that responded. (Sometimes, if you are lucky, you get a line through the "No" box and like maybe a return PO Box bearing the wrong zip code, but that's only if your mailman is alive.)
  7. The Artists run to The Post Office where they literally jump over piles of dead mailmen, claw their way to the front of the line, and demand their precious crap-on-a-stick artwork be send to Peoria in the next ten minutes or less, including, of course, return postage and several hundred copies of Artist's Statements, some of which were written by Artists now dead (See Step 4) and none of which apply to the specific crap-on-a-stick they are mailing in the same box because, hey, they had only ten minutes to get there and they are "flaky" artist types.
  8. The Galleries, The Artists, sometimes even The Dead Mailmen, all come together for a shindig we like to call The Opening Reception. The Opening Reception is, in fact, the best part about making art because they serve alcohol there. That and, you get to look at lots of crap-on-a-stick that people, who really shouldn't call themselves Artists, have put up on the wall for you to enjoy. Oh and, they serve alcohol there.
  9. The Art Dealers, who should buy your precious crap-on-a-stick, and might be willing to pay millions for it, don't come to The Opening Reception, rather it's attended by several other Artists, Gallery owners, and, if you are lucky, reporters from the oh-so-compelling Peoria Daily News. That's ok though because they serve alcohol there.
  10. Should somebody, wanting to actually buy some artwork which matches their couch, happen to show up, by mistake, at The Gallery during The Opening Reception, they will demand to speak to you, The Artist, for hours about "your depth" and details of your work that you clearly included in your Artist's Statement. They will attempt to, quite literally, talk your ear off. That's ok though, they serve alcohol there. At the end of the evening, by the time The Opening Reception is over, nobody will have bought your artwork and you will have overheard several passers-by make inspiring comments like, "I just don't understand art these days. I mean, how can this pass as artwork? That looks like crap-on-a-stick." That and, there won't be any alcohol left. (My only advice to you, if you are an aspiring Artist, is to leave The Opening Reception as soon as there is no alcohol left.)

I just love being an artist. It's so much fun.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

That's a Lotta Latte

That's a Lotta Latte

Don't say I didn't warn you. This morning, I attended a training class at work where they brought in Starbuck's coffee for us to enjoy. Now, a normal person would, upon hearing this, think something along the lines of, "well isn't that nice of them," but I'm here to tell you to think differently (well, me and Apple computer. And I can't say for certain it worked for them either.)

You see, the place where I now work, Motive, actually is a Starbucks, disguised as a software company. The whole, "we make software that makes the world go around" is complete bunk. Don't believe the marketing hype. No, I'm here to tell you it's all about the coffee.

I used to work at a place that had this really nice coffee maker. It was way down in South Austin, the commute was Hell, and the job sucked, but the coffee was fantastic. To this day, when I drive by there, I think, "that was the sucky job in the pretty building with really good coffee." They had these little pod-like plastic baggies that you put into a machine, push a button, and then, wham! the best coffee. At least I thought it was. It was freshly made, one cup at a time and you could get it in flavors, even "mixing and matching" if, say you wanted Arabica and Mocha together.

Here at Motive, neh, Starbucks with Executable Code, they have several of those coffee makers. They are the BACKUP coffee makers, used only in dire emergencies-in case the mega grande, grandpappy, motherload of 'em all, the $10,000 latte machines, break down (all, like, 5 of them.) I'm surprised they don't come surrounded with little glass boxes, small hammers, and signs that read, "use only at your own risk and, even then, I'd stick to Colombian."

I think Juan Valdez works down the hall and fully expect to walk past him and his burro on the way in one morning. I'm surprised he doesn't have his very own parking place (well, ok, maybe they'd actually reserve it for the burro.) This place is like a fricking coffee shop with a software problem.

In the breakroom, on every floor, there's a $10,000 latte machine. It makes single shot, double shot (my current preference) and cafe American (for wimps who demand a full cup everytime.) It automatically loads and grinds the beans, filters the water, disposes with the grounds, all at the touch of one and only one little button, in like 10 seconds or less. It makes the smoothest coffee I have ever tasted. Usually, I have to add milk to my coffee, to make it palatable, but not with this stuff. It's smooth and creamy out of the shoot. You can even use the steam to foam the milk. And we have a pecking order among folks who can steam better than others. It's scary.

I have become so addicted to coffee, I've even started embracing The Evil Baked Goods People. I mean, a girl's gotta dunk something, right?

Until next perk, bring on them cookies...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Awe Phuck

Awe Phuck

I don't usually curse in this thing, but today's I'm devoting this to all the things that make me curse. Curses, curses, curses. Curses to you all, and to all a good night. If you're under 18 don't read this and then, when you do anyway, go off and phucking pretend you don't know what "phuck" means, ok?

The other day, while surfing the 'net on, I think, the Bam Margera message board, I happened across this gem: "I hope you die in a hotel fire." How lovely. Awe Phuck, I'm so glad we treat each other with the respect we deserve in such esteemed online forums. Awe phuck, that's what I get for hanging out with pre-pubescent whiney teenage punk rock wannabes who think that Dr. Martins are cool. Awe phuck, Dr. Martins are cool. Well, at least they are comfortable. They are some phucking comfortable boots. And the phucking wikiwiki tells me the Pope wears them when he goes hiking in the woods. Awe phuck, I don't want to be the one to tell the kiddies they can't be cool if the Pope's wearin' 'em.

Awe phuck, they never should have given the wikiwiki to the trillian users. Awe phuck, who thought it would be a good idea to give to a bunch of geeks an addictive but ubercool new, neat-o toy that requires the use of yer phucking thumbs to operate? Not phucking me, that's for phucking sure.

Did you hear about the phucking break up of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston? Why is it that the phucking worst movies always seem to spawn the best gossip? Did you see that movie with Ben Affleck and J Lo? A lot of good gossip coming out of that one too. Awe phuck, I heard that was the most horrible movie ever made, good thing the gossip was so phucking good.

I believe it was Angelina Jolie who got too cuddly with Mr. Pitt during the lensing of Troy that started the snowball rolling. Sure, I'm sure some folks find it to be great news that Mr. Pitt is soon to be single again but, awe phuck, you've got to take out the likes of Angelina to get to him. Awe phuck, maybe it's just something about the name "Jennifer" that inspires men to dump you. At least they get dumped. Awe phuck, Carol's never get picked in the first place.

I got a package in the mail yesterday. Awe phuck, it wasn't the Tivo unit I was anticipating. Rather, it was a Moroccan lantern, brought to me by way of Philadelphia, PA. Awe phuck, can this thing possibly be authentic? I doubt it. Still, it looks pretty cool, although a tad larger than I thought it would be. It's actually pretty phucking big. Awe phuck, I really don't know how to spell Philadelphia but awe phuck, it looks close enough and you know what city I'm talking about anyway.

Awe phuck, those cursed Baked Goods People are at it again. Damn them. Damn them and their little phucking pastry pimping cart. I hope they all get phucking fat.

Speaking of phucking fat, have you noticed how some fat people like to call themselves "height weight proportional?" Awe phuck, why not just come out and say you have a fat ass? "Height weight proportional" my ass. Some of these same people like to think that, if you rolled them out and made them taller, they'd actually be thin. Awe phuck, they'd be twelve feet tall too. They'd be able to call that basketball player, Yao what's-his-name "shorty." Awe phuck, I can't remember his name.

Awe phuck, I didn't feel like writing anything real today, so this'll have to do. Awe phuck, if you took out all the "awe phucks" it might just BE a real writing, it's grown so phucking impressively long.

Awe phuck, it was fun while it lasted but it's over now.

Until next phucking time...

Monday, January 10, 2005

The Evil Baked Goods People

The Evil Baked Goods People

I realize that I haven't talked much about my new job. I won't bore you with the typical work-related stuff, other than to say that, at my new gig, it seems they have a mailing list for just about everything. There's one for mountain biking, one for off road biking, one for bike racing, one for mountain bike racing, etc. You get the idea.

Deeply buried in the bowels of the listserv is an extra special mailing list. It's called "Baked Goods." I swear I'm not making this up, they actually have a mailing list devoted to "baked goods" (nothing fried here! Nope, email spam devoted to everything baked.) As if a mailing list weren't bad enough, they have a cart. It's not a big cart but, as you might guess, it packs a lot of calories.

I used to have no issues with The Baked Goods People, as I call them. They used to sit downstairs, on the first floor of my building, with their little cart full of calories and pimp their pastries to unsuspecting passers-by, while I sat comfortably upstairs, ignoring them. Back in the "good ole' days," I was a live and let live kind of calorie-avoider. Not anymore. The Baked Goods People have moved in on my turf. They moved themselves, their little pastry pimping calorie mobile, and all their listserves upstairs to the second floor, right near where I sit my overweight butt down to work. I can almost smell the wafting pastries from where I sit.

If this weren't bad enough, one day last week, The Baked Goods People took it upon themselves to bring in not one, not two, but THREE separate rounds of "baked goods" in one day. It started out innocently enough, with frosted oatmeal cookies. I was ok with that, just avoided walking past their little calorie laden cart. Then, by midday, they were up to homemade chocolate chips. Still I managed to avoid their temptations and just get up and walk away. But then, around 4 in the afternoon, they brought out the big guns. Homemade chocolate cheesecake with frosting and delicate icing on top. It was the motherload of saturated fats, cholesterol, and addictive coco bean byproduct, not to mention the icing on top just looked really good.

Most of The Baked Goods People are technical writers. Actually, I take that back, I'm not really certain if they are writers who bake or bakers who write. But, I have decided that, after the chocolate cheesecake incident, they are just pure EVIL incarnate. I can't even walk buy their little pastry pimping mobile anymore. I walk completely around the building to avoid them. I feel like I have to run for my waist everytime I see one of them.

I just have this mental image of some tech writers in purple fake fur coats, lots of bling bling chains around their necks, gold teeth in their mouths, and walking sticks by their sides, standing next to the pastry pimp mobile pushing their Ho Ho's off on unsuspecting development staff, who seem to just gain weight by the millisecond, even from doing nothing more than sniff the fumes from their damned little cart.

It's a jungle in here. Thank God for the $10,000 latte machines, or it'd be completely uncivilized.

Until next time...

Friday, January 07, 2005

Let's Talk about Hex

Let's Talk about Hex

The other day, my friend Steve was telling me about all the new ubercool Tivo features, like the web interface and the season pass, so we decided we'd go "Tivo shopping" together. We ended up both getting one of these Tivos from the same online merchant at approximately the same time. I think, if you had to clock it, I put my order in just a few seconds shy of his.

So, later in the day, Steve IMs me to tell me that, "hey's it's shipped!" So I'm thinking, "cool beans, Tivo's on it's way." Not so fast, amigos. My order is listed as being in the state of "Processing," it hasn't shipped and it's not on it's way to me. Steve's, on the other hand, has arrived in Austin sometime today, although he's only received half of it (the other half, it appears, is also in "Processing" limbo. I take it his network adapter is too busy mating with my Tivo DVD burner to allow itself to be delivered.)

"I'm sure some 900 lb. gorilla will deliver it to your door," I told him as he gloated about his shipping status, "in little bits and pieces. Either that or your hard drive'll lock up and record nothing but soap operas or Pauley Shore re-runs."

Now, I know I should be adult about this. I know I should be happy for Steve, and I know I've waited this long for Tivo, I can wait another week or two. But, somehow, him getting his and mine being in a perpetual state of limbo has me screaming, "I want my Tivo!" That, plus the fact that you just expect some kind of justice from on-line merchants. I mean, I put my order in BEFORE his, right? So why isn't it being delivered FIRST?

Steve, meanwhile, is claiming that I've put a hex on his new Tivo. (Notice I said "new" Tivo, as he already has one Tivo, which he calls his "old" Tivo. How can Tivo's be OLD?!?!)

So, today I come into work and go to get coffee (this will be a blog for another day, rest assured) when I notice that the latte machine at work (like I said, blogger fodder alert!) wasn't working. I was faced with the choice of having some hazlenutty-flavored almost decaf sludge or crawling upstairs, to the third floor, land of the "working" latte machine.

My Tivo-less caffeine deprived ass has never felt so lame. Oh the horrors of it all! The Humanity! The lack of caffeine!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be off to put some safety pins into an oddly Tivo-shaped electronic voodoo doll.

Until next time...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Bookmark This

Bookmark This

I was dining with a friend a few weeks ago, when he said something peculiar to me. "This is a nice restaurant" he said, "we'll have to bookmark this." I thought it odd at the time-using "bookmark" as a verb in normal conversation but, then again, he is a computer programmer, so I really shouldn't have thought anything of it.

The great philosopher Calvin, from Calvin and Hobbs fame, once said, "any noun can be verbed but it sure weirds the language." While this may very well be true, it can also be said that "any computer-related noun can be verbed and it sure wires the language."

Just think of all the recent examples of "computer noun-age" cropping up in everyday life. "Bookmark this," is only a drop in the bucket, there's also using Google as a verb, IM-ed, TOS-d, DOS-d, spammed, popup, pods and podlings, cookies and, I'm certain, a host of others. Didn't we all once think that cookies were oreos?

The word "wired" itself comes from computer speak, although it's become so commonplace we seem to have collectively forgotten this factoid. I don't know why hackers, crackers, coders, and the like see it fit to have their own language (actually, technically, I suppose, it's more like a "vernacular" than an entire language) but they do. Perhaps it's because these are all the folks who flunked English lit back in school, preferring to spend time with "the machine room" rather than skull cracking tomes like The Illiad.

I once read The Illiad back in college. It's about a son who betrays his father. Actually, technically, it's not. I don't remember what it's about but, clocking in at that many pages, I'm fairly certain there's a father/son combo buried in there somewhere. What? Like you were going to doubt me?

There's a word for that too but, having been one of those "machine room hangers on," I wouldn't know what it is.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Facing the Future

Facing the Future

A while ago I was complaining to somebody about how I'd missed a TV program I really wanted to see. "You should have Tivo-ed it," he said to me. So, I started thinking about how I'm probably the only one in my "circle of friends" (which, admittedly, is not very large) who doesn't own a Tivo, use a Tivo, or really lust after a Tivo.

At the time, I thought I just didn't want a telephone line running across my living room, plus I don't really own a DVD player or burner, so I would avoid getting a Tivo until I absolutely needed one. Thinking it was just too much work, bother, or fuss, life as we know it went on without one.

Well, yesterday I decided it was time. I ordered a wireless Tivo, DVD player, burner that connects to my Netgear home router. It doesn't need a telephone line, it doesn't need an extra DVD player or burner. It's all in one handy dandy little box. It comes with a web interface.

Now, at first, you might think, "so what?" This actually has a profound implication upon my well-being. You see, a lot of times, I get caught up in what I'm doing and end up working late. I stay at work until 9, 10, 11, or even later, forgetting to "go home for the day" like a "normal" person. With this new web interface, I can go to a webpage, highlight the shows I want to Tivo, and keep working. Isn't technology grand? No more running home, fighting traffic, trying to remember what's on tonight.

How long do you think it will be before I'm able to blog about a TV program, only to provide a link to a Tivo download of the very same program?

Speaking of new gear, my "enable new devices" flag is still set. Yesterday, I got a digital camera, a Canon Digital Rebel. I don't really know how to work it, but I'm looking forward to learning.

I just IM-ed a friend, who asked, "how's the new camera?" with this response:

"At this point, camera gear has become like Unix to me. There ain't one I can't figure out, 'cause I've used damn near every one."

Point. Shoot. Click. Click a lot. Smile. Technology can make life more fun, it's all in the way that you use it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Top Ten

Top Ten

Ok, call it peer pressure. Everybody else is doing it, so why can't I? It's the end of the year, er, um, the beginning of a new one actually, so why can't I have my very own top 10 list.

Here are my top 10 favorite musical releases of 2004:
10. Alison Krauss and Union Station-I just love her voice. I don't know how she does it but, somehow, set gets all high and lilting and it just sounds too beautiful for words. I'm not really even a big country music fan (although, bluegrass is a different story. I love the pickers.) But, she could change me into one, with a voice like that.
9. Velvet Revolver-Forged from the ashes of Guns n Roses, surviving drug rehab, rumors of breakups, and various antics of Slash, this band emerged as a bright spot in 2004. What else can you say about that?
8. Keith Urban-Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking. "If I'm not much a fan of country music, why do I have two country artists in my top 10?" Well, Keith's just too cute for words and he's a great guitar player to boot. Hey, come on, you know I've always had a sweet spot for axe pickers. Especially good looking, foreign born, fair haired ones. In case you're wondering, yes, it's true, Keith does look a bit too much like HIM but I love him anyway.
7. Joss Stone-Girls got soul for a sixteen year old. Another very bright spot glistening already on some non-too-distant musical horizon. So happy to hear that she's writing some of her own songs too. You go girl!
6. Franz Ferdnand-Ok, so maybe I'm not into the name (naming a band after an archduke is a tad over the top for my tastes) but this was a great album. I loved the guitar work, I loved the catchy break out song, Take Me Out. The guys aren't too hard on the eyes, what's not to love about this one? Well, apart from that pesky name. Now they have to start a world war, they've named themselves that way.
5. Sara's Afterglow-Another beautiful collection of melody's from little Miss Lilith Fair. Checkout the song Time if you're so inclined. It didn't make anybody else's top 10 list, although I think it's a worthy track and could have stood alone as a single. At least, it's a highlight of the album for me, although this albums got more than one high note and enough depth to stay in the CD changer longer than most.
4. The Killers-Apart from being totally addicted to Mr. Brightside and Somebody Told Me, I love the retro synth pop, quasi-80's-ness of this group. "I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier." You and me both, bucky, you and me both.
3. Modest Mouse-Ugh. My guilty pleasure for 2004. Can't help but love them. They had two breakout hits this year (Float On and Ocean Breath's Salty) which, if you ask me, leads me to believe one thing about them. The plural of luck is skill. I've always said that. And you can quote me on it. Plus I really like their videos.
2. Los Lonely Boys-Austin's hometown heroes make a name for themselves. Woot! You just have to love their soul, attitude, technical mastery, with a touch of funk thrown in for good measure. The 'Boys can sleep under the same Texas sunshine as me for eternity and I'd be happy for it.
1. Ray Charles-His passing has brought a fresh interest in a career that's spanned decades and brought us the culminated Genius Loves Company. He will me missed but the world is a much better place for his having been here.

There are a lot of honorable mentions, just misses, and so on. I'm sure I've pissed more than a few people off with my musical taste but, so be it. You should all just be happy I didn't pick all classic rock but then, I can't live on Eric Clapton and Steely Dan all my life, can I?

Don't answer that. At least not until it's 2006.

Until next time...

Monday, January 03, 2005

Mr Bright Red Stapler

Mr Bright Red Stapler

I can't get that song out of my head. Mr. Brightside, is just so compelling. I just want to keep listening and listening. Arg! It's driving me almost nuts. "He's having a smoke and she's taking a drag..."

Speaking of all things bright, did you know that Fry's sells bright red staplers? I thought you did. Everybody does. At least, everybody who saw the movie Office Space does.

I had a quiet and uneventful New Year's Eve, but 2005's been a happy year so far. I ordered a digital camera, so, soon anyway, I will be the proud owner of one of these. It's not the best one out there, but it'll do, especially for what I'm going to use it for. My blurry artwork doesn't demand 18 megapixels and a high contrast CCD. What's that Weird Al once said, "my other chip is a Dorito." That pretty much describes my home computer setup as, except for the new rocking Mac, I'm running a P4 with only half a gig of memory.

Speaking of all things food de junk, they are coming out soon with Baked Cheetoes. I'm not making this up. They took the worst junk food item known to modern day mankind, and baked it to make it all that much more appealing to the low-fat, low-carb crowd. At least, I think that's what they did. My fingers are way too orange from eating too many Baked Doritoes to google this one. Sorry, kiddies, you're on your own.

Speaking of kiddies, how old do you think the average net surfer is? How about the average TV viewer? I think I've officially out-grown MTV but I'm not really quite sure. At least their new show punkd has me scratching my head more often than not, and I don't have a ride anywhere near being pimp-able.

I am kind of addicted to the new crash shows they've been playing though. There's one on Spike TV that's taped in Japan, with rather funny English sub-titles. It cracks me up everytime I see it and, that's no joke. I don't know why, I mean, if I were on there, I'd probably crash too.

Kaboom! Right into a big red shiny stapler, laughing all the way.

Until next time...

PS It goes without saying, "Happy Frigging New Year!" Now, get back to work, you slackers.