Kenny Smith | blog

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tuesday was my grown up day. My favorite Melanie asked me to tell her something cool earlier today, but I was at a loss.

This is a day bereft. A day without. There aren't enough proteins to build up the chemistry for cool today. It was a popular lament outside of the office, too, where no one could solve the problem.

Not to say it was a bad day. Not by any means. It just wasn't anything that could be mentioned as cool.

My day included going to the bank. The teller there had a big book open before I made it to the window. In the moment between realizing it was a textbook and reading the cover I thought to ask what she was studying. But then I read the cover, and immediately felt uncomfortable: Basic Mathematics.

You'd want a recount here. And then, with a stunning certainness, you'd realize where your money has, in fact, been going. Perhaps the bank needn't send me a new card for security measures, I see the problem right here. Clearly it is a decimal issue. Fine, then, let's just move that little point over to the right two spaces and ... ahhhh, that's much better, thanks.

Beyond the book she was a nice and normal and clearly uncolorful person. I sought out more, just for you dear reader, but there was nothing else to her. She did her job politely and efficiently and if it were not for the Basic Mathematics book to her left nothing would have ever seemed amiss.

After mentally calculating how not to spend money until next payday, a haircut was next on the list. From time to time I'll take a book inside, because the style magazines don't especially captivate. Once in a while the haircut personnel (I have no idea the preferred term these days) will ask about the book. Always this leads to an embarrassing exchange.

It is a book about White House trivia

"Oh! I love stuff like that. Like stuff you'd find in a board game?"

Actually its a little bit more obscure than that. There are a lot of things in here about administrations that I've read about extensively of which I've never heard.

What bearing does this have on the haircut personnel's life?

That's a question best left unanswered, because the inevitable follow up is something along the lines of what bearing it has on me.

Best numb the mind with a trip to pay the car insurance, where I learned an interesting tidbit. If, in their office, you mutter under your breath, "Better start driving better, then." Yeah, they don't really like that.

Then it was home for more Battlestar and the State of the Union, which I will not dissect here, other than to say it was another adult thing.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Rained a lot this morning. One of those emphatic showers. An "Everyone! Run to the window!" rain. Cleared up quickly. Sun was burning water off the pavement before noon. Another sign of spring. First the crickets, then the cardinals on the porch this weekend and now this.

Our resident amateur meteorologist is predicting a wintery February, but he's better with hurricanes than the time between the December solstice and the March equinox.

Left work under a cloudy sky that teased a brilliant sun, only to cover it up behind sad looking clouds with easy predicitability. Not good light for picture taking (when has that ever stopped me?) so I sat in front of another computer and did a lot of research. Should have paid a bill, but that can be done tomorrow, thereby lining up the coolest Tuesday in recent memory.

The Bauer Hour, then. Upon viewing this seemed a very tight and cohesive episode. The more I think of it, however, the more I'm left to say Tick tock, Jack. Tick tock! Awful lot of talking and soul searching and very little gaseous interruptus. Still there are terrorists running around with biological weapons and the president hasn't been moved yet. And then you arrest uber-agent Jack Bauer and hold him in the presidential compound?

The smarmy chief of staff comes clean (sorta), which was unexpected but isn't his best tactical move. Why is revealed shortly thereafter as a beatdown commences in front of the president, and then eyeballs face more than an idle threat. I suppose it always carries more weight when you can say, "You've read my file, first I'll take your right eye, and then your left ..." and so on.

So the hysterical redhead goes home, has to ponder over lunch plans, it is just noon after all. The mystery is solved. But the bad guys double-crossed the murky guy of questionable intent.

Really, shouldn't the chief of staff have asked himself why terrorists needed to come to the U.S. to procur biological weapons? There are plenty in Asia -- and if not, then in the world of television dramas we certainly could fictionalize some. So, yeah, they want to steal ours, ship it across the Pacific and then use it. That makes no sense. Let's face it, bad guys have better travel agents than that.

It stands to reason, however, that if they wanted the weapons here, they want use them here. The mitigating factors are that the smarmy chief of staff, presumably a bright guy (and much smarter than his boss, President Logan) is unwittingly complicit and that the bad guys didn't account for their archnemesis being alive by lunchtime. But he's not even hungry.

Perhaps if they'd read this brief on Jack Bauer, they'd know better.

Fun links:Gridskipper is stalking Jack Bauer and showing a lot of inconsistencies in the timeline. And now, make IMs a cartoon strip. Just copy and paste to your heart's delight, each line is a panel.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Sunlight streamed through the window, only partially filtered by the curtains.

Does that sound like the beginning of a bad mystery novel, or what?

Sunlight streamed through the window, only partially filtered by the curtains. His head pounded, but staying where he was wouldn't provide any relief. After he lost his last client he could no longer afford the cleaning service anyway. He'd only been stinking up the joint since.

Johnny mulled over putting the pennies together to hire a maid, maybe as a temp, while he staggered to the icebox. All he found was half a head of long-expired lettuce and three fingers of last night's cheap scotch he felt still floating behind his eyeballs.

Sounds exactly like the beginning of a pulp novel -- funny, I've always thought mine would be better. My day has, in fact, been different, from the second sentence on.

Sunlight streamed through the window, only partially filtered by the curtains. It never is daylight when I wake up, so that's always a little unsettling. Instantly it means I've overslept, but, having done that once already this week, it must mean the weekend.

As the head clears and the clock comes into focus, 8:30, it is another quiet weekend morning.

Beautiful day. An afternoon, in fact, for shorts and flip-flops. High around 70, little whispy white clouds that can't get it together in any substantial formation. A day for an outdoor lunch. A trip to the grocery store, second trip of the weekend; Saturday morning has become the preferred time to gather the coming week's produce. Chicken, cheese and harvest wheat spaghetti noodles for a chicken parmesan that has been experimented and perfected in recent months. Extra chicken for leftovers.

A happy trip to the grocery store. Who has that? There's a sign somewhere in there that suggests something about "a delightful way to shop," which is largely the case at this Publix. Yes, I'll drink the Publix kool-aid now. I like it because the fruit is better and larger. The staff is fairly attentive, the place is clean and they have an old truck parked inside over by the magazines.

On the outside, it's just another store. Inside it has that small town supermarket feel. There are a few of those still around to compare against the big box stores. They'll never win on price or selection, but they bring their own intangibles. And tangibles too. This Publix, for instance, plays music, not muzak.

They don't have Bama crunchy peanut butter though. Got the creamy, not the crunchy. Surely this is an oversight, but one that becomes a larger and larger distraction to my Saturday morning shopping experience.

Maybe I should submit a comment card. I've watched a manager go through every cereal box in the store and, failing to find the brand in the size desired, offer a couple the feed-a-platoon size at the smaller price because of the inconvenience. They need me to shop there. They want my money. Maybe they'll stock some of the familar peanut butter spread, if only I ask.

Five paragraphs on grocery shopping. Moving along.

Saw Just Friends:
Ryan Reynolds plus physical comedy equals laughter. Perfect dollar movie: guilty pleasure.
I'm sticking with my theory that every room at the dollar theater has its own theme. The truly great thing about this notion is that it allows for ever changing personalities.

If I go to the dollar theater every two weeks, and there are 10 theaters, then it's months before I start hitting the same room with any frequency and have the chance to get used to them. I'll have well forgotten the room's previous identity, friendly or offending though it might be, and sieze upon something else in my next visit.

I wonder if this is part of the strategy the theater manager uses. Comedies on every other week land in the odd-number rooms. Horror and kids movies will spend that week in the even-numbered rooms. Movies with an overrated star, say a Charlize Theron or a Matt Damon, we'll just show them in the parking lot.

This week's room, for example, was the one with no chairs on half the back row. That's not the same as the room with a row of broken chairs. Getting to know the room is almost as entertaining as watching the movie, for which I paid a dollar.

Which I might have to do again soon, there are a couple of movies worth digging through the sofa cushions to see.

Later there was dinner, and now there's reading. Lots of reading before bed.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Some time back my mom sent me home with beef tenderloin. Grilled a few of those tonight. Right about now I'm very happy that I was sent home with tenderloin.

Just did beat the raindrops from the grill. Storms are supposed to rush through overnight. Starting to sprinkle now, so maybe I'll get to sleep through the drips and drops. I'm never sure the point of that; sleeping so soundly that one can't hear anything rather takes the benefit away.

The wind is very noisy. You can definitely hear that. The breeze is almost angrily rivaling the train several miles off in the distance. Down near the ground the leaves and the branches are content to sway gently. Up above the wind is fairly roaring. This may be the loudest low pressure system ever. Just a little disconcerting. Other than that another perfect day.

Watched a lot of Battlestar today (I'm slowing catching up!) and did a lot of laundry. Worked a little bit, but its been too beautiful to be stuck in front of the computer.

Instead I've been watching the sun punch through the remaining whithered oak leaves. A good day for window watching. Another glorious early spring day in January.

I'm ordering more for tomorrow.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Have you ever had a feeling that you're just barely avoiding hurting yourself? Not in a big violent way, but something minor. A stubbed toe here, a pesky hang nail there. Or maybe paper cuts. Know this feeling? I've been ducking that for a day or two.

Today, though, was a day of reunions. Busy day. Fun day. May be one of the last carefree ones for a while. So, perhaps, its also a day of transition. Time to ratchet up for the thesis. Got a little guidance this week, feel a little better about it. Wheels are getting put into motion, so I feel better about that, too, thanks for asking.

Left work today trying to find someone to work on my laptop. A nice shop is taking pity on the poor graduate student. Said he'd look at it next week for free. We'll decide after that.

Had a little impromptu non-profit meeting after work. A colleague I've known and worked with for two years is stepping down to tend to family. Though he'll still be in and out, we'll miss him nonetheless, the mark of his presence.

Sat outside and read until the sun went down behind nearby buildings. The winds came in just after that and the breeze ran me inside. Just as well, time to meet up with some of the UAB friends. Been several months since we've all been in the same room I think. Not everyone could be there, but we'll work on that and do it again soon.

Had to leave there for a dinner date with Brian's family, who's charming company I've only done without for a few weeks. No one did anything embarrassing, though maybe I came close. Always a surprising victory with this bunch. (It's OK, they'll both read this and recognize the joke.) Taylor spilled a drink, but she talked and played with me more than she ever has. Nothing like the attention of cute little blondes.

Shame the waitress didn't pay attention. The pie was delicious, but the waitstaff in Gardendale wasn't as good as the other Jim N Nicks. Let's rank them above the Southside store, but below the Hoover and Homewood operations. Reunite with one of those next week.

After coming to that conclusion it has gotten late. So turning in, this is the best part of the week: the knowledge of sleeping in (possibly until 8!) and then goofing off -- meaning laundry, household chores and maybe even some research! That'd be a reunion of its own; just me and some dusty tomes in electronic version.

Beats paper cuts.

Fun links: Check out the latest Project Walk update from Auburn man, champion diver and all-around inspiration Dave Denniston. This nightmarish flight was pointed out to me today. Horrible experience, but a great read.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

There might be a problem in here. Ever seen the video of The Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan show, or Elvis, and all the little 16-year-old girls are going crazy and screaming and crying?

I had a moment like that today. Sent an Email to Lileks with that corporate logo link and he responded. So, naturally, I had to tell his readers in the office, "I wrote Lileks and he wrote me back."

I feel so ashamed.

Of course, the first logo he saw was incorrect. I feel as if I've displeased the cooler uncle you see once every two years.

Maybe this is where I should have written that I feel ashamed ...

Productive evening. Re-cleaned, and re-filled, the hot tub. Watched some television, only to discover that there's nothing worth watching on Thursday night. I was reduced to the first half of Patriot Games on USA. I'm just saying.

While that was on I was going through old family scrapbooks. Somehow these have stayed with me. Every year or so I'll go through them trying to pick up on something new. Mostly I'm struck by how much improvement we've seen in cameras and how bad one of the photographers was.

Anyway, I did stumble across a few pieces of historical interest. First there's Gilliland Covered Bridge. That's my mother standing in front of this 40 foot bridge which crosses a small lake at Noccalula Falls Park. Built in 1899 near Reece City, Gilliland Bridge was the first completely restored covered bridge in Alabama and the lower South. The bridge was just getting settled in its present location, after having been moved there in 1966. This picture is from the mid-70s.

And there was this lighthouse. The two pictures are separated by only a few pages in the same scrapbook, so the window of time we're looking at is likely a small one. On the back, in my mother's handwriting, are the words Hunting Island.

And this, friends, is the one lament of the age of digital photography. Far fewer pictures with something written on the back. I'd like to think -- if I were using my print camera as much as I do my digital -- that I'd transcribe a lot of information on the back.

Anyway, Hunting Island is in Beaufort, S.C. This is the view from the top of the lighthouse, which is the only one in South Carolina open to the public. It was destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt a few years later, and has been moved inland against erosion.

Looking over that site -- why must all minor travel destinations have the same website stemming from 1996? -- it looks like a nice place to spend a weekend if you are already in South Carolina. It is close to my toddler home, so it is likely that I've drooled somewhere in that park.

Not sure where this one falls in the timeline, but I do have an idea. She looks impossibly young to be a mother, but was already an old hand at it (if I have the time right). My mom was beautiful even when she was playing softball and unaware there was a picture being taken.

Still is.

Fun links: Another honorable mention in the OTB caption contest. Which reminds me, I forgot to share the last honorable mention. One day I'll break through to the leader board again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Ran into three professors today. Wasn't sure one of them was even still alive, or not under the watchful eye of the Witness Protection Program. He'd been incognito that long.

Isn't it interesting that there seems to be no website for the Witness Protection Program? I'd intended to find it and make fun of it -- I mean the jokes make themselves -- but no such luck. Nothing even under the WITSEC acronym. There's a book and a Wikipedia entry, but no site, which is a good thing. Maybe its hiding.

So I journeyed to the white tower of academia for guidance. In about 40 minutes I'd run through that and running into the third professor, who offered me a reference if I went on to do more academic work. I was stunned. Really, truly.

Left there for a little reading and then the Wednesday night accent barrier that is Mexican. Somehow I've confused the guy saying cheese and tea.

Having worked in radio all those years, I've more or less beaten all the Southern accent out of my voice. It never reappears quite so prominently as when I'm talking to someone from another country.

Not sure why that is, but when the tech support people are on the line from India, every syllable suddenly sounds different when it falls out of my mouth. Not in an educated, middle American flat sounding way, but in a jus' down from the holler hillbilly sort of way.

Like that poor guy doesn't get tired of misunderstanding, being yelled and dealing with Americans, now he has to deal with Southerners.

That tech support guy -- and there is just one, why else would you forever be on hold? -- is installing caller ID soon, just as soon as he and our telecoms can figure out how to understand each other and make the invoice go through the system. The phone people would call their tech support but, yes, they've stopped returning calls from their own company. And that's why the phone people are always in a cranky mood when you have to deal with them.

It's enough to make you want to revert to smoke signals really.

Today's fun: corporate identity and Chuck Norris facts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leaving work on time, hardly a big surprise; nowhere to be, a big surprise.

So I naturally head home. But there's too much to do there, and so little of it fun. After a few minutes I head off to take pictures, catching a wholly bland and unexciting sunset.

I celebrated with a vegetable plate and a nice long date with a book.

Got home in time to tidy up a bit -- you can never get away, can you? -- and watched Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow:
Camp I didn't want to like, but you're forced; just feels right.
I thought there were some familarities here. The robots' beam, the rocket and the Mysterious Woman caught my attention. Errors caught other's attention. Seemingly inexcusable in most cases, given everything's digital origin. This movie, though, seems like a labor of love that was worth the effort.

That ended just in time for Denny Crane, though it was more Alan Shore tonight. He seems to be more likable as a despicable character. I think Spader gets that, and hopefully the writers will too. They seem to apologize at the end, at least, as the epilogue between Shatner and Spader began with, "I've barely seen you this episode." What chemistry put together let no writer tear asunder.

Most viewers of the season, says the fan site. Which is good. I'm glad to realize that someone likes it even more than I do.

So let's see, that's 24, Boston Legal, Battlestar (which I never see, despite loving it deeply) ... Daily Show, Colbert Report ... hey, I watch TV again. Maybe I should get a TiVo after all. Anyone want to pick one up for me?

Don't. That's just an office joke.

And, I promise, no more regurgitated television talk the rest of the week. I'm just stunned there's more than three programs I now care to watch.

Monday, January 23, 2006

He wasn't kidding. My laptop is hosed. Hasn't even been used yet.

It worked just long enough to get an OS on it, install the wireless card and figure out that modern mystery and then it just died. Won't even make it to the BIOS now. Very strange. Something on the motherboard, Brian thinks. (He has just updated the look on his site, check it out.)

That's been the worst of it. Otherwise today has been the most perfect of Mondays.

Awake an hour before the alarm, I listened to the rain drops falling down on leaves, settling down into the grass and underbrush. Listen to the whispered rush for an hour, wondering whether I'd rolled up the window on the car.

Finally the alarm went off, so I left the warm cover for the cold rain. Only it wasn't cold. The window on the car was up. The first victory of the day. The shower couldn't fog the mirror. Victory number two. Got to work on time, had 20 minutes of quiet and a head start on the morning. Victory three.

And the day went on thusly, passing in stops and starts. Hours passing abruptly, minutes sometimes moving slowly. The rain will do that. Rushing down through much of the morning, finally stopping before noon. And then the grays took over. Great towering walls of dull undertones to serve as the unscenic backdrop.

It was a fitting atmosphere to get signatures. Had to go to campus for two John Hancocks certifying that the University can send me more paperwork to sign. Oh, and that'll be another $50, thanks. One more hoop, halfway through. Drop it off tomorrow.

That was pretty much the excitement of the work day.

And this, which turned into one of those near office-wide jokes that has everyone stifling their laughter. Some of us are more good at that than others.

I'm pretty terrible at it, as it turns out.

So it was that work was over and there was time to kill. Went to Circuit City, where they have no batteries for the purpose of wasting a few minutes.

My God is it loud in there. We're renaming that place. You think Chuck's is bad? Listen, the mouse is mute and the kids aren't in Hi-def. Pete Townshend could hear things at Tinnitus City. From England.

I enjoyed watching the movie from the bank of TVs in the corner directly diagonal across the six hectares of the store. That was almost tolerable. And then someone turned on the demo model stereos. And the DJ on XM's hiphop station was suddenly competing for attention. The speakers conveyed her nose whistle with chrystalline clarity. And when that happens, it's time to go shopping for cards.

A birthday card, an anniversary card and a get well card later, my errands and time wasting are officially completed. No wry observations came of this, except that the card aisle appears to be another place where people forget the cultural rules of proxemics. Meaning, kindly back off mister!

The Bauer Hour. Because I have a comfortable life that involves routine and pleasant things but never demands that I step out on a limb for anything I'll live vicariously to that master of the stage whisper, Kiefer Sutherland.

OK, we're about five hours in and I'm hooked, having never watched the show, and getting a little coaching along the way from others in the know. Here's where I go from zero to snarky before you can say "The following takes place between the hours of ... "

TV science aside -- you know, Jack having a cell phone that allows for such hi-res pictures taken from a distance, but with such a sharp picture to allow a google search of the detonation device on the terrorist vest -- we'll take this time to make a few observations.

The over-arching theme here has to be that these uber-bad guys can't be that uber-bad. Oh they make a great scheme, but this one guy is going to disrupt the whole sequence of events. In a day!

When does Jack go to the restroom anyway?

So, at the start of the season, Jack's been "dead" for 18 months. There's a problem and an old colleague calls his cell phone. He answers. Right away. It's in his pocket, so you know he uses it, keeps it charged and probably text messages in his votes for American Idol on the thing. Clearly this is a company phone, he's sending and receiving information from the old work place after all, but they haven't noticed any use on the phone in the 18 months Jack's been gone? They need Tom Brady's figurative metaphors.

As taxpayers we should demand it. You know how pricey those cell phone packages can get.

OK, picture this: You lead the president's security contingent. There's nerve gas on the loose. You're in the same state. Evacuate the president.

Someone really needs to step up the background checks in the Logan administration. How can the president's chief of staff be this evil? Did this not come up in an FBI dossier?

And, finally, the cliffhanger involves Jack going after the evil chief of staff. So you're one guy, bent on gunning down the man closest to the president. Logan's Secret Service would have something to say -- shouldn't have opened my mouth before seeing next week's tease.

Which, I'm sure, will include me wondering how he can be taken into custody twice, by two separate agencies and still save the day. Surely even super agents get tangled in red tape.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

It is never a good sign when your computer guy sends you this text message, "I'm going to need special equipment to fix your laptop. Bring the dynamite with you Monday morning."

I hope he's kidding.

Otherwise, the weekend went off without a hitch. Typical weekend, too. Made up for a missing Pie Day on Saturday. Helped close the place down. The waiter says to me, "Man this whole pitcher has been just you."

Hey, that's drinking less.

And that's when it occurred to me, thanks to the heckling of others, that you don't actually buy tea. Really you are just renting it.

Some football. Steelers continue on as the sentimental favorite. Seahawks still can't evoke any interest. That whole team is just one big vanilla personality. Sorta like the NFL.

Some rain. Turned humid. Apparently the meteorologists forgot to update their models. Two days in a row they've missed. Badly. The sweater was unnecessary. Today has felt more like March than January. Sticky and humid. Crickets were out buzzing in the night sky. A light little breeze in the night air, just enough to offer the promise of beautiful days to come. Just like March, but without the tornadoes.

Two grocery store trips where a valuable lesson is learned. High school teenagers don't know what garlic looks like. They were well-intentioned, but I realized when the kid brought me the onions, helpfully labeled "Pearl onions" I knew I was once again on my own. Apparently garlic cloves can be stocked in spices and in produce which is where, after a fair amount of searching, I found my $.75 ingredient.

Tastiest 15 minutes you can spend in the grocery store though. Lemon garlic chicken, it's what was for dinner.

Stuff I'll be looking at this week: Computer utlities, text montages, nuclear heroes, IRS free filing, Star Wars demo and free photoshop stuff.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday, sweet luxuriant Friday. On most of them there's a car chase on the "news" to carry us through the afternoon. We had that earlier this week. Today was just a simple, sweet day. The passing of the minutes from one to another, moving in my memory already as a time-lapse video.

Saw Michael Twitty's bus on the road today. He's on his way to Hattiesburg: a city famous for being on the way to other places. A place you didn't really want to stop and sweat in. Lately its thought of as a place of escape; lots of hurricane refugees. Their contributions to the arts get overlooked. And now they get a visit from a Twitty. Looks like he's playing a country club tomorrow night.

A Twitty deserves better.

Almost fell asleep on the bed this afternoon. Fighting off maybe the most boring X-Files ever on SciFi. Our memories are kind to that show. It's a lot like SNL: people only remember the good stuff.

This episode got a little bit better when The Lone Gunmen made an appearance. If you're ever in doubt about where you are in the X-Files universe -- is this an important episode or just another placeholder? -- the guest stars will tell you.

By the time they were on, though, it was time for Tuscaloosa. Had a meeting with an advisor. She came down with a migraine and canceled, I didn't check my Email.

Dreamland, instead, then.

Years since I've been to the original. I'm spoiled by a franchise just a few miles from the office. This place, though, is still sticky from the last time I was here. They've added banana pudding though -- their only sides remain white bread and chips while their descendants have something approaching a full menu. The original's pudding is better than the rest of the stores.

Still too much Alabama propaganda for my tastes though. They're now letting people decorate paper plates and pin them to the wall. I know how it sounds, but in a tiny little room that's littered with the after-thoughts and dreams of a football team's fanbase it works.

Those ribs still work best, though. And they were perfect tonight. That guy had his mojo working over the coals. At Dreamland, there might not be an end to it.

I want some more right now just telling you about it.

Historical gymnastics, third largest crowd ever to see a gym meet. First sellout at Coleman Coliseum since their new rennovation. Alabama beat Florida in a battle of two heavyweights. They raised $90,000 under their Think Pink campaign as well. Drove home in the rain, singing country songs.

The perfect Friday, even if it did involve the Alabama campus.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The week is just easing by. Surprised me to realize it was Thursday. Life streams by sometimes, a big rush of collected lights pulsing through your perception. It has something to do with whether you watch the pot boil. I'm not looking at the advance of time through days until the weekend right now, so there's lots of little things in danger of being overlooked.

Have to make sure that doesn't happen.

Chatted with my advisor today. Things look well for my thesis project. Still can't tell you anything about it. I've promised secrecy for the short-term. Perfectly understandable from my point of view. Right now I'm just overly anxious to get good and started.

Meet with another advisor about it tomorrow. Get the last of the paperwork done next week.

Next to last bill paid this week. They hurt a little less when the end is in sight. I was actualy pleasant at the office where you pay the bill. The nice lady at the counter and I were both stunned. I almost seemed to be saying, I'm sorry to ordinarily be grumpy. Paying a couple thousand dollars to you will do that to me.

But, now, one more tuition payment, two more "fees" payments, and I'm done. We shouldn't concentrate on any of this -- particular some of the more specious fee charges -- or the mood here will change as well.

We're talking stocks at work. Lately my interests have turned that way. Until recently I could care less about money, finances, futures. I studied a lot of economics in undergrad, but the emphasis was on microeconomics. It's understanding my house as opposed to the larger issue.

Even still, I'm not sure how I'm broke. Oh, yeah: tuition.

So, anyway, we're getting the stock market buzz at work. One guy trades. A couple of us would like to. I can't afford to. I'd like to start with a very modest amount, though, and slowly turn that into something that I could actually use as seed money for serious investments. Naturally I believe I would do very well.

Take, for one example, BioCryst. In my mind the stars landed up for them about three years ago. The governor began a biotech initiative in the state. They were coming along with one promising drug. I wrote an Email to family, out of half-curious boredom, to watch this company, they could go somewhere.

Well, the story this week is that BioCryst shares have more than tripled in the past year, and have now been fast-tracked by the FDA for a new flu drug.

I was right on this one, clearly I'm a natural. Maybe I should find some stock market simulators before declaring myself a whiz-kid.

The problem, we discovered, is so much chatter about it in the office prompts an itch to trade. I don't even own any stock and I want to make some moves.

Eating like a rabbit again. Pennance for recent days. On the upside, the lunch bag is very colorful: orange, green, yellow, red. On the downside, this evening's salad is only going so far. Home to do a little schoolwork, I'm craving more before I get into a movie.

So it was chocolate milk and A Gentleman's Game:
The homage to golf is good, the rest scatters like my game.
I started watching Identity, but about five minutes in I'd had enough. After seeing a woman get run over, a valentine about golf and "balance" seemed much more my speed for the evening.

William Shatner remains my hero. Yesterday, I think it was, a colleague read this story aloud. Immediately after that I got an Email about it. Basically Shatner has sold a kidney stone he passed last year to an online casino for $25,000. All proceeds are going to Habitat for Humanity.

"This takes organ donors to a new height, to a new low, maybe," Shatner said. "How much is a piece of me worth?"

You're priceless Bill. Invaluable.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

NASA is going to Pluto. If weather here cooperates.

No need, really, in spending that $700 million dollars. Here's the surface of Pluto.

Oh, wait. That was my car this morning. Walked outside, to find a cool, but not unpleasant morning. Got to the car to see it sheathed in a cocoon of ice. Apparently we had a lot of dew last night, and that led to the decorations.

The freeze line missed my neighborhood by about 25 miles. My drive into town was nice, safe and dry. People coming from the north side had a different experience. I always seem to live on the correct side of town when it comes to bad weather. Wonder if I'll ever be that lucky again.

Two libraries today. Sat in one for about 90 minutes, just lounging in a big circular wicker chair. Tilt it back to the horizontal and read and try not to fall asleep. Success, but just barely.

Less successful was the episode of American Idol I watched tonight.

OK, granted, I laughed at several things in the show. I found a perfectly good spinoff reality show for someone to pick up. I even cheered for one guy a little.

Doesn't make me want to watch for some reason. We've had two local guys be big hits on the show, but I'm still moved just beyond a good "Eh" and a sigh about this show. The early episodes of each season, where they apparently make fun of people, do even less for me. Embarrassing people for sport, that got old in junior high. Shame the nice people behind this show didn't grow out of it.

The viewership loves it; I worry for the future here. Almost as much as watching the evening news become a half-hour shill factory for this show. News.

To their credit, the local Fox affiliate did at least the first quarter hour of their evening news about actual news. Not even the first mention of Idol. Just took a train wreck to bump it.


I'd put a link to their news story, but the station promising ... ahem ... "coverage you can count on" ... doesn't see a lot of import in their online product. One little brief on the train wreck. Wire copy. It'll be off the site by Friday. I bet they think the Internet is trite and meaningless.

They'll figure it out one day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A few new things on the blog today. The countdown clock toward my graduation has been moved. It slid up the left side of the page. Got a box all by itself. Pops up when you click on it. Counts down delightfully, if a bit slower than desired. Graduation stuff will go there between now and May.

If you're reading this as an archive, or in some sort of Star Trek time continuum problem, realize that that box did exist, but after May 6th all the above is moot.

That move was necessary because the clock script was mucking up the new look of pictures on the blog. (This part stays relevant for the time continuum victims.)

My pictures, when you click them, will now be presented like this.

It is a CSS overlay into the browser. Clicking the image brings you back to the blog. If you like it, you can get Lightbox from Lokesh, who's overwhelmed by Email just now, but constantly reworking that code.

What? Want a thumbnail example? Here's a tree I saw today. Click it.

Raining all day

Monday, January 16, 2006

Did you know that Staples sells that gimmick Easy button?

I've been reading marketing blogs lately -- one, Darryl Ohrt, has made it to my blogroll -- and I wonder what they'd say. Staples is branding itself to this button, which says "That was easy" each time you press it. To their enormous credit, Staples is donating up to $1 million of proceeds from the button to charity.

Sorta takes the wind out of my sails in that argument.

The local Staples is moving things around. The executive chairs are pushed closer to the back. Maybe they're trying to hide them from me, but they are definitely trying to discourage chair races and other aerobic tricks. The chairs sit on linoleum, but are surrounded by carpet. The linoleum through the area doglegs, so the new game is starting at one end and sliding around the curve.

The good people are very patient. Maybe they're taking out their stress with those Easy Buttons. It certainly isn't the massage chair, because they had it unplugged.

Bed, Bath and Beyond, however, had their massage chairs working, thereby rendering the "Beyond" category of the store a secondary concern. "Beyond" included a lot of gambling paraphernalia, holiday clearance and products of questionable quality. Must be getting cynical in my old age. Never before had things at Bed, Bath and Beyond been questionable.

The trick, you see, is going there twice a year. Everything remains awe-inspiring. That and lots of time studying the high thread count sheets.

I'm addicted to 24. Never watched the first three seasons. Gamely gave the four hour, two-night season premiere a chance last night and tonight. The whole show spans 24 hours right? When does Jack eat? Sleep? Use the facilities?

Big fans of the show -- voyeurs of three days of Jack's life -- find several things in the first few hours of this season shocking. Shocking! This might become appointment television. Clearly it beats the snark-meter. I could hardly think of anything critical to say aloud.

Except for at the end, when he promises the kid, "I have to see this through. When this is over I'll come tell you everything."

It may seem like mid-May before I do that, but I promise it will only be about 20 more hours.

Alright, after two hours of tense hostage crisis, that might have been funnier in the moment.

Or maybe it was the Kiefer Sutherland voice I used. Loads of fun, that.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

This weekend: there was cleaning. Lots of sleeping (for a change). Football. Some grocery shopping. Some school work. Family gossip. A little reading.

There really wasn't a lot to my weekend that wasn't just grand. Or quiet.

Quiet days such as these usually lend themselves to more introspective thoughts. Particularly if there is somewhere to drive. Lately there's been less driving and less philosophically thought-provoking stuff. We'll blame school.

Instead of any vastly important, thoughtful or just oddly metaphorical thoughts, I'm left this weekend with things like this:
How do I get stew out of a fleece?

How did my house get so dirty? When did the dry cleaner's explode in my home?

Why are the refs trying to throw the game for the Colts?
Scholars and mystics may debate that one for ages. I've never cheered for a team because of how the officials acted, but I believe I've uncovered the conspiracy.

The Colts are horses. Referees are commonly called zebras. Horses and zebras are closely related. Horses are fitted with horseshoes, which are commonly made of steel. Pittsburgh, of course are the Steelers. See? Obviously the zebras were sticking up for their brethren in a transparent attempt to lash out and win a Super Bowl, which the Colts haven't won since 1970. They won't win this year either.

Doesn't get any easier for the Steelers, now the sentimental favorite, because they have to go to Denver to play the Broncos. More horses.

The symmetry of things: This is just eerie. I've just stumbled onto the whereabouts of a friend from college. One of those people you know for a time, about a year in this case. These are the people you should probably know more, but everyone drifts on because we draw life in concentric circles, no? Anyway, I stumbled , entirely by accident, on this useless tidbit of information through an alumni site while watching Muhammad Ali on ESPN Classic, fighting Zora Folley. This would ultimately be the last fight Ali had before having his title stripped and being sentenced to jail over his draft refusal. No one knew that at the time, but it was becoming an increasingly likely thing.

Turns out Folley, a very good fighter in his day, once lived very near the town where my old friend now lives. This all comes together in just a few moments, the two references, and not too long after that Ali takes Folley in the 7th round.

So now I'm flipping through the channels again, and I find some old Zorro which, stretch with me here, is awfully close to how the ringside announcers were pronouncing Zora's first name. This is The Mark of Zorro. A silent film from 1920. Culturally it is important as the first Zorro movie -- the character was only a year old -- and one of the first swashbucklers.

It was a comedy, starring Douglas Fairbanks a handsome star of his day, one of the founders of United Artists, and leader of a generally all-over-the-board life.

He played Don Diego Vega/Zorro for comedy, and fairly dramatic stunts, opposite Noah Berry's Sergeant Gonzales, who was quick to draw his sword and antagonize others, but was no match for the devilish Zorro (who carried a gun way back when). Berry, a famous character actor, appeared in 199 movies, 82 of those in the roaring 20s, with 43 coming from 1920 until 1923. Must have had some bills to pay.

Berry, though, had moved on to westerns and comedies by 1940, when another movie by the same name would be made. The second Mark of Zorro would feature Tyrone Power, another swashbuckling star, as Zorro up against George Regas who portrayed Sergeant Gonzales. Regas would, unfortunately, be dead before the year was out.

With that sobering and surprising point, I've abruptly ended tonight's search for symmetry.

And remember, just a week ago today, I watched the newest Zorro at the dollar theater.

Friday, January 13, 2006

In truth, Fridays of the 13th variety don't concern me. Fridays that fall on the 11th, now that's just eerie.

Nothing bad, unfortunate or otherwise regrettable happened today. All the way to the point of realizing it. And as soon as that thought passed from neuron to neuron in my head, the other three brain cells not involved in that internal dialogue sounded the general "We're ruined!" alarm. There was, after all, more driving to do.

But when your Friday the 13th consists of three libraries -- nothing to check out at two, but a third which was an awful lot more fun -- and Pie Day, then you're doing OK in the big picture of things.

And then it is time to be sat for dinner. The kindly old gentleman in front of me comes to a complete stop because the helpful young man who was fetching his takeout order had bag in hand. So there we were, a three human pileup between the bar and tables full of people. And a good two or three seconds later -- time enough for observation, analysis and evasive maneuvers -- I get bumped into from the food runner from behind. He was too busy watching his hand scald from stew, and listening to me apologize profusely (but why?) to realize that he'd split the stuff all over me.

My food tasted less good after that, somehow. Fleece topped with stew will do that to you.

Still. If that's the worst part of your Friday the 13th, it makes you look forward to Saturday the 14th with reckless abandon.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

OK, I take it back. Maybe words can describe Appalachian State's hotness. The herculean task was undertaken by Orson Swindle. The replies he got were great as well.

And it really drove traffic here today too. I had an EDSBSlanche. Very nice. Thanks for stopping by, everybody. Come back soon. There is more to be seen here than veiled talk of school and the movies I'm watching.

Though those are the two most pressing things going on right now. It is unseasonably warm. Tomorrow it will storm. No special plans for the weekend beyond some school work. So on with the two biggest events.

The Graduate School. Go to finally register for my thesis hours. This is a formality and the late date -- classes have been meeting for a week -- don't mean anything to my situation, but it is still a frustration that the process took this long. But all that is over.

Registrar says the class is full. Only I'm not in a class. There are no seats. There are only, to my knowledge, three metaphysical butts for the metaphysical seats. This does not constitute fullness. So off to the Graduate School office.

They've heard of our program. The nice ladies in the Graduate School are very helpful. They know about deadlines and paperwork where others don't. They have a sign on the wall, saying as much. They're telling me stuff. At least someone has this knowledge.

They also enrolled me in the six thesis hours. Unfortunately they also gave me a bill. They could have forgotten that part. They gave me another batch of paperwork. (Do they file this? Are they packrats? Or is this some larger sociology experiment to see how much a person will endure?) This, the nice lady says, is almost the end of it. Fill this form out, get two signatures and send it with a check. Always with a check. Then they'll send another batch of forms to me in the mail. There's a checklist. A timeline. A miracle! After two years of begging, a timeline! Fill that stuff out, send it in. Go online for the cap and gown. Send another check for the diploma.

The receptionist points out, full of snark, that the diploma is the cheapest part of the process. This is not the most wise thing she can pipe up and say. Really, I could have sent that check in two years ago and saved several thousand dollars and five semesters of grief.

On the upside though, aside from that last little bit of paperwork, and the four checks that are also sprinkled in, we're down to the fun stuff now. Whatever drudgery there has been is behind me. The part I've been looking forward to for five semesters is here. I'm excited; it holds a great deal of promise.

The movies: Can I have those two hours of my life back? The Day After Tomorrow:
Couldn't end soon enough. Great special effects, where's the movie? Much crap.
Aside from the obvious that this could never happen, and ducking the ridiculous political overtones here, I just have one question: If these students, and the librarians, are so smart, why did they only burn the books? Bust up that furniture kid, let's get some heat worth talking about in the fireplace.

The long and the short of it is that mankind (not you and I, but humanity) is living in a period in which the world is emerging from an ice age. Is it our fault? No. Are we contributing to it? Yes. To what degree? Do you have an R or a D after your name? Take your pick, enjoy your SUV.
Junior climatologist: What's going to happen to us?
Senior climatologist: What do you mean?
Junior climatologist: I mean "us"? Civilization? Everyone?
Senior climatologist: Mankind survived the last ice age. We're certainly capable of surviving this one. The only question is, will we be able to learn from our mistakes?
The cubic space, ergonomic cup holders and dropdown DVD screen inside the SUV will be about all there is to enjoy if this is the level of post-apocalyptic discourse.

I was just looking at some sites supporting and criticizing the movie. Can I have those 12 minutes of my life back, too? One site, so screwy as to not even merit a link in jest, plays itself as an academic piece, despite the implied "Ummm, ignore the starry background and the reverse type." Seven paragraphs, and one picture, into the page, you'd find reference to Art Bell.

Check, please.

So to balance out my day I watched something a little more realistic, X-Men 2:
Watched this before, remember nothing of it. Just as underwhelming this time.
So those are my movies. Think I'll turn in early(ish).

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A small step of progress on the thesis work based on a meeting this afternoon. I dare not speak of it more for fear of invoking the wrath of drooling beasts who laugh at kharma and jinxes.

I really have to stop watching Lord of the Rings and then not sleeping all the next week. It is doing wonderfully delusional things to my fictional delusions that I invent just for your entertainment.

Speaking of entertainment ... watch this. You must watch that. imperative. Free nations depend on it. Professional lives will swing on the ebbs and flows of the click through links we give this ad. This is a moral imperative. Your full attention must be offered to the glory that is this production. You must see why Appalachian State is Hot Hot Hot. Words could only begin to describe, though lo you may try. You must watch the video.

Started a new book. Best Little Stories from the White House. I love this type of book. Minutia, trivia, far too many commas. It is a series of anecdotes really that, so far, don't seem to have an overarching theme binding theme binding them together. Already I've learned about Jackie O's first tour of the White House, the reporter inches away from Lincoln at his inauguaration who (just weeks later) joined the Confederacy and a few unexciting tidbits about Hoover and FDR's relationship. Should be a nice light read.

Mexican tonight. Same waitress as last week. Same #37. Same lady as the cashier. Same guy that brought the table. I think it was just a table off. It is a Wednesday and all.

And, after that, just fighting to stay awake. Somehow 6:45 seemed like 11 p.m.

So, of course, with the delightful whimsy of a nebula that hangs over my home, irony dictates that I be wide awake when I make it there. Toying with the laptop, the network card works. Open up a browser, loads the home page and then ... nothing. Locked up. All the rest of the evening. Before the BIOS, after that, made it to Windows twice tonight.

Ehh, its progressive.

Looking through old blog files for a specific post -- one that isn't here apparently -- brings to fresh to mind all the cringeworthy things I've written. Sorta makes me want to start over. I won't. That seems disingenuous somehow. But take the archives with a grain of salt. And the present with a cracker, the best way to enjoy cheese.

A nice long talk with a dear friend. Much overdue. I characterize Elisabeth as the sister you'd pick if you could. She likes that; says it allows her the torment and the goading of an older sister without the need to do dangerous things she's scared of. (That's what the younger siblings are for, after all.)

She also gives the best advice when not intending too, and has the most infectious laugh without realizing it and the simple faith that goes into that running conversation is a sweetly passive catharsis. This a kindred spirit sort of thing. She does, after all, appreciate the National Building Museum.

I should write an ode to her, most everyone has some sort of treatment here, scattered in the detritus of the site. For a long time, you know, I toyed with the idea of running a bar down the side with mugshots. Nothing but mugshots. The cast, crew and characters that make up my life.

Never ceases to amaze me, the quality of the character, intelligence and compassion of the people that I'm fortunate enough to be surrounded by. A blessing really. If you're in that group -- not you, no, you! -- you do and will always have my gratitude. I certainly think about it enough, even if I don't say it, or can't return a call promptly.

Its full because of them (OK, and you too...). A pocket full of gold would be the least of my treasures.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Comps are (now, officially) done. Approved by my advisor. I'm now formally a candidate for a master's degree.

It's an underwhelming feeling.

And that's pretty much been today: Wake up, go to work, leave work.

Oh, the library. I made it by there. Picked up a few movies, of which I watched The Bourne Supremacy:
The original was better. Not enough butt kickitude in this one. Eh.
Herein lies the beauty of the dozen word review. What else do I need to say?

Matt Damon walks around looking confused and victimized, despite being fluent in about a dozen languages, obtaining every passport and death stroke known to man. There's a good car wreck, we learn an inventive use of a toaster. Amnesia, in this case, is easily cured. All you have to do is rent a hotel room across from the one you previously had a dramatic dream/re-enaction sequence, break into the offending room and then stare at things as the German SWAT team descends on you. You're recovered!

That's something everyone should be able to remember.

Oddly enough, this is my second movie in just a few days dealing with amnesia as a theme. Now, if Drew Barrymore were a trained assasin, she would immediately have redemption for her particular brand of vacuous acting.

Interestingly enough, all of the week's movie selections were dumbed down action thrillers. I was too tired at the library today to pick up anything with any pretense of thought. I suppose the subtle juxtaposition of metaphors in X-Men 2 could get me going, or the inherent syllogism in The Day After Tomorrow, might make a profound impact, but if Matt Damon can't get the job done, I might be hopeless, this week, for intelligent cinema.

So I promptly fell asleep at 8 p.m. on the sofa. That'll throw the whole rest of your week out of whack.

Monday, January 9, 2006

I took this picture last week. A picture of a picture, actually. If you notice directly in the center is the Lyric (read its history here). In the large version of the picture you can see that The Thing is showing. This, and the caption on the bottom, makes this downtown Huntsville, Ala. in 1951.

So I sent this off to a few people, and asked the folks in the office from Huntsville, if any of these buildings are still in existence. This lead us on a two hour odyssey using memories, other old photos and educated guesses to reach three reasonable theories.

First, there was the help that this site offered. If you'll notice, particularly in the daylight picture, how the current facade could be the building once shared by the W.T. Grant Company and J.D. Humphrey and Sons. Humphrey, apparently, is still a prominent name in the area too.

Anyway, that theory was replaced with the help of this image from Google Earth. Just to orient you, that's Washington Street moving diagonally, Clinton Avenue goes through the heart of that view, Randolph Avenue is slightly visible along the bottom, the county courthouse is just out of view.

Noting the history of the theater, that it burned (a fourth time) in 1982 with no businesses going in that place (they were afraid of fire) we decided that empty lot to the middle right was the old Lyric.

That gave way to a third theory, that if the current Humphrey is in the same storefront as 1951, we were off. The new establishment is up the street, in the most northwesterly block seen in that satellite image.

So now we go to the expert, who tells us all of our ideas are wrong. The venerable John Pruett, an institution in Huntsville, was pulled into the fray. His reply:
The Lyric was located the next block up from the present Humphrey's, about half a block from the courthouse square and on the same side of the street as Humphrey's. Directly across the street from the Lyric was the old Martin Theatre, which was closed somewhere in the '70s, I believe. The big city parking garage now takes up part of where the Lyric was located on the Washington St. side.

Where the Heritage Club is located, there used to be a popular cafe at street level called the Ritz. Everbody who worked in the downtown area at that time ate there.
He was 10 in 1951. He could very well be one of the children in the old picture!

Got on the roof this afternoon. Spent about an hour spreading a little roofing tar on a seam. Preventive maintenance that smelled like petroleum. It goes like this: cover trowel, plop, smear. Cover entire area. Apply a reinforcing material, plop more cement with trowel. Try not to get this stuff all over yourself.

I was cleaner, after the fact, than when I paint, so there was some success.

Beautiful day for it though. High around 72, big tall clouds, just the slightest breeze. A t-shirt, shorts and scraped knees. The perfect January day. Except for smelling of mineral spirits all night.

Found a foothill to share the sunset. Spent an hour lost in thought, entertaining myself with the rocks and talking to the clouds. I should do this more often.

Cute links: I'm an uncle! Says so right here. The backpack in question. See the little pumpkin I gave Atticus for Halloween.

Site stuff: New blog background. That's the slidewalk at the Louisville airport. New front page look, the sun sliding down between The Harbert Center on the left and the BellSouth. New graduation countdown box over to the left. All the pictures are updated through the end of the year. Now just to get a head start on January.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

A big entertainment day.

The Legend of Zorro this afternoon at the dollar theater:
Banderas, or his stunt double, is awfully agile. The perfect dollar movie.
Then there was 50 First Dates on DVD:
The tag should be 'A heartwarming tale about amnesia.' Good despite Barrymore.
And then there was a late, late show of Carlos Mencia. He was hoarse, but still did an hour and 45 minutes, almost all new (and really good) high-energy stuff since the last time I'd caught his act. An all new audience thanks to his television show.

Carlos has a couple of really good messages in his act that he's kept for years. He's crude, he could be offensive, he's sometimes oversimplistic (it is comedy after all) but it all starts, and ends, with noble intentions. That's why I love that guy's show: he's developed a platform to say positive things, that maybe sticks with a few people in the audience. Hidden in there among the base and blue humor, there is a positive message you don't get from every show you see at the comedy club.

The next trip to the Stardome will be to see Arnez J. The video clip there isn't bad, but is only about a tenth of the funny you get from Arnez. The only comedian that has made me laugh hard and so continuously that I was flirting with passing out because of a lack of oxygen. He's that good.

Maybe a little better than Carlos, though there aren't many (of that style of comedy) that are. So you know I'll be up front for that. Hopefully the show won't start at 9:30 on Sunday night.

Saturday, January 7, 2006

Happy Birthday to Taylor.

Went up the road a bit to a special birthday party.

Her parents have the right idea. Host this at Chick-fil-a. No straightening up for guests, no cleaning up after guests. Though this was the best group of three-year-olds you could have at a party. I bet next year's will be louder.

Chicken nuggets and cake and ice cream. There were balloons, lots of presents and even a visit by the big cow spokesperson for the company. All the kids loved the cow, except for the birthday girl. She did like it when the go was leaving, "Ooh good, the cow is going home."

All the kids had been playing on the indoor playground before the party, and when it was time to sit down Taylor finally figured out it was her birthday party. And she said, "I love my birthday!"

After the haul she made, she ought to.

Went back to their house for a few minutes, met some of the grandparents and the godparents. Cracked on Brian a bit. Good times.

I'll put up more pictures at the end of the month, of course, and Brian should have theirs up in the coming days. You can always find your way to his site in that box to the left.

Speaking of boxes to the left, an addition was made today. Countdown with me now, as we tick off the seconds until graduation in May. Took that picture last term, from the back of the ceremony as the festivities were concluded with the customary vigorous stomping of latex balloons.

I have just now cooked up plans for my graduation ceremony fun. I can't mention it now, of course, for the surprise would be ruined. It will be ... different.

Speaking of different, went to see The Weatherman at the dollar theater:
Quirky and dark. Caine is terrific, Cage is Cage. Comes together nicely.
Bought froze all the toes off though, so a planned two movie night turned into one with a soup nightcap.

Wonderful day.

Friday, January 6, 2006

Comps are done. Paperwork is in my advisor's hands. I should now officially be a candidate for a master's degree.

Funny, I don't feel any different.

So Greg got married in April. About six people in our little group went to his wedding, chipping in for a really nice gift. And now, suddenly, Macy's thinks we owe them $9.73. Nine months later that has turned into about 85 dollars in fees. So we go to the store to try and solve the mystery.

Two hours later, after three calls with Greg -- one assuring their gift had, in fact, been deliver, a second to insure they hadn't returned them (the store's registry showed a return) and a third with him calling me angry about the whole thing -- and three calls with Macy's corporate offices we learn that the guy we bought the gift from let us escape the store owing $9.73.

Macy's was very helpful. It was all rather humorous in a we'd-rather-be-having-dinner sort of way.

I can't really tell this story and make it as funny as The Yankee and I found it at the store. Suffice it to say, the next time there's group presents, someone else is in charge of collecting money and buying.

So Pie Day was two hours later than originally planned, but good things come to those who wait.

Cutest little baby was sitting at the table across the way. One of those bow headband things. She was precious, but that was a disguise. Demon baby!

Why does this make me think of Sam Kinison?

Ooh. Field of Dreams is on. Time to go count the days until pitchers and catchers report.

Thursday, January 5, 2006

So here it is: the blissful run of January and February that no one really likes. Just come along quickly as you can Spring; I'm quite grumpy without you just about now.

I have so much to complain about, you know.

Mostly I need to clean up around the house. That little chore aside, life is pretty darn peachy.

Kinda cold today. Imminently forgettable day. And then the sun went down. The artic moved in. I did not sign on for this.

Over the course of last weekend and the first part of the week the weather has been so nice that I've only halfway paid attention to the temperatures. No one, after all, needs a jacket when the mercury races into the 60s and the 70s in January. But that most flighty element lost its nerve. Winds from Canada crashed over the midwestern plains, a meteorlogical horseman, and the bottom is falling out of the thermometer.

Someone mentioned the "S" word for tomorrow. I'm still laughing at that.

Bought a firewall router tonight. Bought a wireless card for my laptop.

Did I tell you about the laptop? I had one donated to my scholarly pursuits from very benvolent friends. There's two links there, try to keep up people.

So Kelly and her husband were kind enough to give me this machine just before Christmas. (And I'm going to end up thanking you guys a lot as the semester progresses ... ) My step-brother spent a couple of days not fixing it. I took it to my IT guy at work -- and further illustrating that he is The Man -- he knocked it out before lunch.

Anyway, between the help and generosity of all these fine people I now have a laptop. With the firewall router coming online (that was easy, especially after I realized my error) I just need to make the wireless card work. If not, Brian can laugh at me some more as I make him fix it for me.

Oh, and since I'm so terribly scholarly, there was an important, but impromptu, trip to the library.

I'm completely wrapped up in the Simple Pleasures portion of life, can't you tell? All these things have me terribly excited.

Now if only my laundry would do itself.

Wednesday, January 4, 2006

I wear a size 34. Thank you.

Journeyed to Kohl's for a little post-Christmas tidying up and it occurred to me to try on new jeans, just to see if I could fit in them. The old 38s (just sounds embarrassing right now) simply fall off. Bought a pair of 36s in November and they, too, threaten to sneak off my hips.

The 34s, however, fit just right. I couldn't tell you the last time that happened -- probably high school -- or how excited I am by it. South Beach (and lots of fruit and cutting back on almost everything else) works for me. That's two pant sizes (I could get in the 32s, but they just looked awkward) and about 20-plus pounds since I began. I need a reliable scale, for better self-bragging.

So, since it was Kohl's, I bought three pair of jeans and a nice shirt for a pittance.

Consequently, I think, I have more blue jeans than I've ever owned at one time in my life. I'd thought that recently and now I'm sure of it. And, to further illustrate my previous blue jean poverty, I will soon tally the number and we can all laugh.

Like I do at my previous waistline. Thirty-eight? You're kidding right? Eh, I wore it well for the most part. I wear this better.

Now ... should I turn sideways and disappear or just blow away?

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Back to work. Nothing special about it.

Glorious weather we've been having recently, though. Already it seems the apogee of spring: this could go on forever. It won't. Cold is coming by the end of the week. Today's t-shirts will be replaced with Christmas gift sweaters soon enough.

Until then, I'm going to enjoy the confused cricket that's camped out beneath my window. He thinks its spring too. Unfortunately he doesn't have a lot of friends out just now. It makes me long for the nocturnal symphony of that season.

Just a few more months, but right now it is still resembling autumn.

They are currently embroiled in a deathmatch in the Metamucil Bowl. Jokes of the apparent longevity of the coaches aside -- Coach Paterno looks angry while Coach Bowden often looks lost -- this is a great game. Far beyond expectations.

We're heading to overtime, a format that demands your love. Since I don't have any emotional investment in this game, I'd be pleased if it went on all night.

Monday, January 2, 2006

The second day of the New Year holiday. The New Year's day, a federally recognized hangover, gives me a second day off because of the Sunday that interfered with my presumed revelry. None of this has ever made sense, New Year's day off, but you take it and sleep in and watch football: some good, some more good some great and some awful.

Watched two of those at Greg's new home. House warming, bowl watching party; my kind of people. Greg's a fine story teller -- or is it that he just knows good stories? -- but some of the classics, the ones I usually ask for people to hear, were diluted by the peanut gallery. Old times with new people.

Life returns to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy New Year! We are all still here, right? I've been out of contact with the world, safely ensconced in DVDs and precious little else.

This was a movie weekend, you see. A full-fledged pull the mattress into the living room and move only as far as the kitchen and/or the DVD player all weekend movie weekend.

Sometimes you just have to indulge.

I got new movies for Christmas, there were old and languishing gift cards cashed in on discounted DVDs, there are some that are somehow backlogged. (I understand how, it is a matter of actually being successful with priorities.) It was time to watch movies.

Even with such dedicated and drastic measures, only a slight dent has been made in the Stack.

What does it say of me that unwatched movies and unread books have converged in such intimidating formations as to require capitalization?

Took time out of the movies to watch the great big ornament in the sky descend on Times Square. Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve. This was, unfortunately, painful to watch. Thankfully his appearances seemed somewhat minimal, as I'm sure it was an emotionally painful thing for him as well, but maybe it should have been reduced further. The last 10 seconds are the critical ones anyway.

"10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year 2006."

As it was -- in chorus with his determination to overcome and whatever inspiration he might be able to give other stroke survivors -- it was at times uncomfortable to watch.

The countdown is the part people taking in New Year's from home really care to see anyway. We in the heartland, in middle America, in flyover country, we want to hear the countdown and see the ball drop because the event is an institution displayed in our parents homes before us. (And we should all feel bad about years of Dick Clark jokes now. I do, anyway.) We want to hear that one timeless quote and then we want to go to sleep. The party atmosphere doesn't translate over television, no matter your def, hi- or low-.

Seeing it as it was, however, was somewhat uncomfortable.

Almost as uncomfortable as watching Fox tape-delay the whole process and then show it to the Central Time Zone an hour later. I left canned Frank Sinatra singing "New York, New York" full of bombastic bravado to see Regis Philbin eek out a melancholy version. With bad audio, no less. As, they couldn't figure out how to fix that with the extra hour.

Somehow this brought to mind the question: Why do I care about the song "New York, New York"? Despite living in an altogether different kind of place, I've never worried over this, yet Regis' rendition makes me wonder aloud. You never have the time to wonder about this sort of thing in Sinatra's grandiloquence.

At any rate, Fox lies to me for entertainment purposes, makes me wonder about the rest of their motivations. They even put up a sad little countdown box, mimicking the time left until the New Year for this time zone. It was altogether insulting to viewers, Fox seems to want to say "Ha ha! We pulled another one over the idiot audience!" We, however, who watched -- like a train wreck, or better, a live car chase breaking into regular programming on Fox News -- and quickly caught on are left with another source to not really trust. Hope it was worth it for the network.

On books, I did finish Ambrose today. I'm glad. He was a great story teller, but his essays come up short somehow. I can accept his often criticized defense that he's telling stories and not writing a dissertation in his books. From his essays, however, I seem to expect more than he is willing to offer. To be fair, one book of essays was his dying effort, this one was also written late in life amidst his considerable and prolific output. Still, you offer me essays, give me essays. Still tells the story well, but hunches are left as just that. Doesn't do much for me.

Anyway, onto the next reading material, which I believe will be a book giving me more historic presidential trivia, this time about goings on inside the White House.

I'm great fun at parties. Especially the all-weekend movie kind.

Again, Happy New Year. May this one be even better than the last, for all of us. That's my first resolution. More to come.