Known Johnson

February 12, 2009

You take the good, you take the bad

Filed under: Creations,General,Kids,Music — Tom @ 2:18 pm

. . . and there you have the Facts Of Life. Thank Alan Thicke, and Scrubs a couple weeks back, for that one.

To All The Girls . . .

I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique until recently, when I finally “got it.” Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Sure, it’s full of ridiculous, pedantic rhymes, but the music, oh man, what they did was incredible. Nothing before, nothing after (because The Law put a stop to this kind of sampling) matched the creativity or wit of what they and the Dust Brothers concocted. This new remaster is of the “good” kind – it simply makes it sound better, which that old CD was in dire need of. As their website says, it now has enough bass to crush your one frozen testicle. Thanks, I needed that.

Broken suspension

You know, I love my truck – a Honda Ridgeline, if you didn’t know. But there are times when I realize that it’s built by a car company, and the picture above is an example of one such time. I’ve never had this truck off road and yet one of the suspension components is broken. On top of that, this component (the left rear sway bar link, if you’re curious) is pencil thin. This is ridiculous. You don’t have a 5000 pound truck bouncing around on top of something that flimsy. This is what happens – it breaks. And there are no aftermarket replacements – I’m just going to get another one of these and hope for the best.

Rainbow in the dark

It’s just nice, isn’t it?

Asleep, again

Sleepy head.

Flash train

A piece drawn for a project for work, done completely in Adobe Flash. This took friggin’ forever. FOREVER. It is incredibly detailed. Flash is definitely not the tool to use for this kind of illustrating, but I wanted to try it because many of my coworkers draw their stuff in Flash rather than Adobe Illustrator, which is far more exacting. I would have saved a lot of time and frustrating going my normal route with Illustrator, but I’m still rather proud of this train. It doesn’t exist in real life, by the way – it’s an amalgamation of who knows how many trains I looked at online for inspiration. If you ever wondered what it is I do for a living, this is it.

January 20, 2009

A Great Day for Freedom

Filed under: General — Tom @ 11:48 am

Watching the news this morning, this late-model Pink Floyd song immediately came to mind this morning, just hours before Barack Obama became our 44th, and first African American president. Regardless of your political feelings about the man, it is impossible to ignore the cultural significance of the event. It is huge, and I think it’s pretty cool that my daughters won’t know an America where only white men were president. “On the day the wall came down” indeed.

Beyond that, if there’s one thing I hope it’s that out of this comes the “change” everyone backing Obama chanted about last year. If everyone embraces a spirit of simply changing their outlook, things can turn around – because, if everyone’s not aware, most of our biggest issues in this country right now, and I’m talking about the financial crisis, are based solely in people’s minds. If people want change, here it is. Today marks your change. Embrace it and move forward. Fear has gripped us for so long that we can’t move. I pray that Obama’s messages of “hope” and “change” really are carried forward by people and we get this economy moving again. Because that’s really all it takes. People stop taking their money out of their 401k plans out of fear of what could happen, banks stop saying no to lending out of fear of what could happen, and people stop hoarding all their money out of fear of what could happen: if these three things happen, everything will slowly go back to normal. Start investing, start lending, start buying. Yes, you.

Maybe it’s not as romantic or dramatic a vision of change as you might imagine with our first African American taking office today, but it’s what our country needs more than anything right now. The racial barriers are coming down, slowly but surely. His win was a major triumph in that regard, but his legacy will only be as meaningful as what he can actually accomplish with the power that has been given to him, not only as president, but as possibly the most significant presidential election in ages. There are very few firsts, and very few are as momentous as this one. I hope in four years to be able to look back and say, “Yeah, he actually did do a great job,” and that one of the first things that happened, albeit tangentially, was the economy turned around. Good luck, Obama, Mr. President.

January 12, 2009

New year brings joy

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:57 pm

It’s January 12. I’m still coughing crap up from whatever it is that I got a couple days after Christmas. That was a whole year ago! I got cipro running through my system because my doctor said I may have “several things going on,” and it’s killing off every bit of bacteria, bad and good. So far, not too impressed with the cipro. The coughing and stuffy nose: seriously getting old.

Danielle is getting big. Big! She’s 6 weeks old and already about to outgrow her bassinet, which Amanda was in for about three months. I’m wondering if she didn’t inherit the “tall” genes in the family – most of us are short, but there are a few freaks among us who tower well into the 6 foot range, including several on my dad’s side of the family, and my older brother-in-law also qualifies. The funny thing is I have no recollection of how big Amanda was, it’s only when others remind me of where she was at this point that I realize that Danielle is growing so quickly. Big eye, big cheeks, and, to entertain us, she makes lots of grunty noises all the time. It is strange, however, how different things are – with Amanda, we had no idea what to expect. Now that we do know from experience, I find I’m anxious to get to those next stages – sitting up, crawling, etc.

Do you know how hard it is to find a dresser for kids – an affordable dresser? Amanda needs a new one since the one she’s been using will be making its way into Danielle’s room soon, but we’re stymied by the fact that we can’t find one that isn’t ridiculously expensive. I mean, I don’t want to buy something cheap for my little girl, but I think spending $800-1000 on a small dresser is a bit excessive, don’t you think? I know there’s this whole industry catering to parents who can’t help but buy “nothing but the best” for their kids, but you can’t tell me that the entire market has disappeared for the rest of us, the “nothing but ‘eh, it’s okay,'” crowd, apparently. Or is this another example of the Itunes-ification of American – give them one choice and they have no option but to go along with it?

The house is a mess, things are everywhere. We are in limbo unlike ever before. I get this heavy sense of dread any time I try to clean anything up, because all that winds up happening is that I simply shift things from one place to another. Nothing can really be put away because that would involve the kind of deconstruction that requires an entire crew. What we need is for one of those home de-clutter/organizational genius shows to come to us and figure this out, because I fear we are too far gone. Maybe if I took a week off of work and just relegated the time solely to organizing . . . but, honestly, most of the time would be me sitting in front of stacks of stuff, rubbing my head, mumbling, “Oh my God, where do I even begin?”

Speaking of organizing, if anyone is wondering, there will indeed be a year-end best-of music list forthcoming. Along with the lack of space has come a distinct lack of time, but I have vowed to myself to put together a list since I seem to have focused on a number of things my fellow Blogcritics have not and they deserve attention. (Nevermind that I rarely review music anymore – I still listen a lot and once in a while, like at year’s end, feel the need to say something.)

I didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night but I did see someone mention how awful Sting looked:


Seriously? Sting, dude, you’re on TV.

And finally, your moment of zen:

January 1, 2009

Degonkulater plus

Filed under: Annoyances,Baby makes FOUR,General — Tom @ 9:58 pm

The Sick has descended upon our household. It wouldn’t be a major holiday season without disease. This time it’s a cold or some related type o’ bug, annoying, but not too disruptive. A couple of down days for Amanda and I, where we quarantined ourselves as best we could from the other two ladies, and things seem to be righting themselves again. Luckily it appears Alissa and tiny Danielle have eluded attack by rebel germs. Amanda and I, brave souls that we are, took the brunt of the attack for them, defending the household for them.

Speaking of Danielle, today she celebrated her first month birthday. Well, not really celebrated . . . we didn’t do anything in particular because I was still suffering from The Death for much of the day, but we noted it (“Hey, Danielle will be exactly a month old in a few minutes.”) You may note I haven’t said too much about her . . . I have found that I feel kind of weird saying too much. I feel a greater sense of privacy this time around and don’t feel appropriate posting everything about her life like I did with Amanda. I don’t know why, exactly. I’m just uncomfortable with it, perhaps because I do seem to have a much higher visit rate than ever before, and it seems weird to me to be talking about what is essentially very private stuff. It wasn’t so weird to talk about diapers and other weird issues when I knew who the 12 people who visited everyday were, but now that it’s 90, 100, sometimes 250 a day, it feels a little weirder broadcasting that stuff out to the world. As the saying goes, it’s not you, it’s me.

December 25, 2008

Not even a mouse

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:14 am

It’s 6:55 on December 25, the day on which we measure the Mass of Christ in toys and electronics. I’m the only one up besides the cats, one of whom, Oscar, keeps trying to eat the bows and curly ribbons off of the boxes that have them, which is why I didn’t bother putting any on the ones that I wrapped. Every once in a while, I’ll hear a rustling, run out by the tree, and there will be Oscar, nestled up close by a present, gnawing away. It freaks him out, and he backs away in a rush, and out comes a big, nasty, chewed up mess of ribbon that has been half-way down his throat. Merry Christmas!

Christmas aglow

The giant box to the right there is something Amanda has been asking about for ages – a toy kitchen. Why she wants this, neither of us knows. It certainly isn’t due to the prowess of either of us in the real kitchen, that’s for sure. Alissa doesn’t cook and I merely “heat things up.” But every time we saw one of these in a store, she went nuts. It was her “lap request” to Santa, so we had to make it happen, and it was harder than we thought – sold out here, there, everywhere, bought online to ship to the store, didn’t arrive, first call to customer service resulted in basically a “hmm!” from their end and finally the second call resulted in them shipping it directly to us, and it arrived Monday night – FOUR WEEKS after it was ordered!

If you recall last Christmas, Amanda wasn’t so thrilled with Santa’s presence in the house. Most kids, “Santa’s here? Holy shit, presents!” Not our Amanda. Santa was that most unwanted of interlopers, and she stood at the farthest point of the house, back turned to him, pretending he wasn’t here. So this year, with Santa mere hours away and bedtime beckoning, tears welled in her eyes with fear that Santa would try to come in her room. That mean old man who comes and leaves presents, you know. So we told her that we’d put a sign on her door and that I would make sure to keep him out. “If he tries to come in your room I’ll beat him up, okay?” I said, and she thought that was okay. Because I’m that brave.

That'll tell him

I wondered how difficult Christmas was going to be this year, if maybe it was going to be made harder with the limited time after Danielle was born, but I found instead that I simply found ways to make it work – and I hardly bought anything online, amazingly. One item, one extremely hard to find, in-demand item, was bought months ago, and then the rest I stopping here and there on the way home from work, or running out on weekends to get. It worked out, but more than that, it was great fun – more fun shopping for Christmas than I’ve had in a long time, in fact. I’ve lamented in the past that some of the fun of Christmas shopping had disappeared and I think it may be due to the reliance on online sources for many things. Easy? Yes. Satisfying? Not so much. There’s something visceral lost about getting into the shops filled with holiday decorations that can’t be had from going to a website with a header graphic with snowflakes in it. I’ll try to remember it in the future, but the temptation will remain, I’m sure, to simply sit behind the computer and click “Buy Now!” rather than brave the crowds. I’ll try to resist it just to keep some of that holiday spirit in check.

And, speaking of holiday spirit, the picture we sent out with our cards of the girls . . . this was a much harder picture to get than you’d think, not because of 3 week old Danielle but because it is nearly impossible to get a 3 year old to smile naturally on command:

Ain't that what Christmas is all about?

That’s the true meaning of Christmas to me. Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 22, 2008

Tis the season

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:18 am

Daddy's little girl . . . with her own little mp3 player

Like father, like daughter. We get ’em started early with the music around here.

A self portrait of Amanda and her daddy

I’m surprised at how much this actually does look like both of us, and yes, she really did say it was a picture of us.


Don't wake baby

I have worried sometimes that maybe Amanda has too many “masculine” toys to play with – lots of cars, things like that, and she often shows little interest in “girly” things – but after seeing this I don’t think we have too much to worry about.

Just in time for Christmas

For the alcoholic who has everything . . .

This church has their holidays a little mixed up

I only wish I’d been able to capture the semi-animated resurrection immediately after this at this church’s immense light display. There are just some things that should not be represented with dinky Christmas lights . . . and I’m not a religious person.

December 18, 2008

The weather outside is . . . well, sort-of frightful

Filed under: General — Tom @ 4:25 pm

It’s been rainy. Really rainy. It seemed to take forever, but winter has finally descended upon us here in Phoenix. Maybe it’s not the horrible, frigid nastiness going on in the east right now, but it’s also not 85 degree weather like it was just a few weeks ago. Coats are out and being worn, let’s just say. Okay, fine, so far the lowest I’ve seen is 49 degrees. Don’t you laugh – you try living where it routinely spends much of the summer in 115 degree heat and then feel what 49 degrees feels like. It’s cold, man. “Me without my muff!” I can hear you quoting Robin Williams from Good Morning Vietnam. Hush.

Arizona drivers and any amount of rain do not equal a good thing. In fact, it’s a freakin’ mess. Combine that with the recent freakout over speed cameras on the freeways and you’ve got a complete nightmare. I keep seeing this quote from comedian George Carlin, something like “average intelligence means 50% of all people are more stupid than you.” Rain and these cameras really proves how right the late, great Carlin was. Let’s look at the rain first. It rains, and people slow down, which is natural . . . but we here in Phoenix slow waaaaaayyyy down. My drive to work is normally about 45 minutes, maybe an hour in bad traffic. Yesterday morning it was raining, not even particularly heavy rain . . . it took me one hour and forty-five minutes to get to work. I encountered no accidents, no closed roads, no actual blockages of any type. And yet . . . one hundred five minutes to drive about 30 miles.

And then there’s the issue of the cameras that have been installed on the freeways. You won’t see me complaining about them on a moral basis. I think they’re great. People drive like idiots as it is and these will at least get people to think about some aspect of the driving they are doing. Besides, they aren’t even activated unless you are going at least 10 miles over the speed limit (12 over in 55mph zones, 10 in 65mph zones, to be exact.) That’s pretty fair – a cop likely wouldn’t let you off for 10 over, which is a pretty significant amount over the speed limit, especially in town, where traffic is congested, which is where these cameras are located. Out on the open road, have at it – pedal to the metal. But people are freaking out like they’ve somehow lost rights here or something, to the point that they’re trying to put something on the next ballot to have these cameras deactivated. Nevermind that this is a public safety issue, they’re only concerned about how they will raise money for the state. Here’s a thought: don’t speed so they can’t collect anything from you. And you don’t even have to “not speed,” you just have to go no more than 9 mph over. How hard is that? It’s not like the cameras aren’t hidden – they have big yellow signs that say “Speed Enforcement Ahead” or something like that. People are upset because they have to pay attention to what they are doing, rather than gab mindlessly on their cellphones or do their makeup or whatever.

As a result, people see the signs and slow down . . . and I mean well below the speed limit. We’re talking about 35-45 mph. Knee-jerk reactions to the cameras, over-reactions aimed at trying to prove a point about how distracting they are, when they really aren’t. If people would just drive normally, ie, within a somewhat legal bracket around the speed limit, there would be no problems. But people want to make a point and so they go over board by slamming on their brakes thinking it somehow registers to “Speed Camera Control” or something, when all it really does it just cause traffic to jam up behind them. It is pure stupidity, and I see why we have earned our status as some of the very worst drivers America has to offer (#89 out of 100, as a matter of fact. Pretty proud of that.)

So driving this week has been more than a bit of an adventure. Not the rollicking, good-times excitement of an Indiana Jones adventure, but more of a Falling Down type adventure . . . I guess that’s not “adventure” but more “descent into madness.” Yes, that about describes it.

December 11, 2008

First haircut

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:13 pm

Just before Thanksgiving, Amanda got her first ever hair cut. This post, however, got lost in the sands of time due to all kinds of things . . . you know, that whole baby thing and all. Here, for posterity, are some before and after “glamour shots” of our “not yet a woman, still quite a little girl.”

In the chair

She did amazingly well – no crying, not even the slightest worry, actually, as she sat silently watching The Lady And The Tramp, I believe. It was over before she knew it . . .

Ignoring the paparazzi

This is as good as I could get after it was done – she wouldn’t stand still and just wanted to get in the truck and go eat, but dig those curls. All natural!

November 18, 2008

What’s up?

Filed under: Baby makes FOUR,General,Ipod/Iphone — Tom @ 3:38 pm

It’s an adverb. But that’s beside the point. It’s been a while, and there’s been a lot going on. I’ll forget most of it as soon as I start typing.

If you’re not keeping tabs, in two weeks, we will someone be given access to another tiny little person who will, in the words of Amanda, our first tiny little person, “pop out” of Alissa’s stomach. And because I’ve been asked this a million times at work, yes, we actually finally have a name . . . but you’re going to have to wait a couple weeks to find that out.

Unless things change drastically, this tiny little lady will “pop out” in almost exactly two weeks. It seems she is breech and has chosen to stay that way. I’m not going to go into details, because they’re complicated and medically . . . stuff . . . but C-section is the way to go – no turning her around prior to birth. No worries, however, neither mother nor daughter are in any danger whatsoever. It’s just that things, as they are wont to do, got complicated, and she will be coming out “the other way.” Everyone is perfectly healthy.

Our Christmas tree is up. Yes, it’s early, but I’ve got to get the damned box out of the house so we can clean up before the baby arrives. Priorities . . . Hey, at least we waited to actually decorate it.

Speaking of decorating . . . with the economy the way it is, it looks like people really aren’t going to be out buying houses, so we’re going to have to settle in to dealing with our now over-small house for a while, which means I’ll be busy soon decorating our new resident’s room like I did Amanda’s three years ago. I had held off a while back because we had every intention of selling, but things just got worse and worse, and I think we’re just kind of stuck now for a while. I’m looking at it this way, however: how cute and irresistible to a young family is a house with two custom, hand-painted kids’ rooms? We’re just going to have to figure out how to deal with no storage, no space, etc. for far longer than we’d planned.

Now I know why they call it “commercial radio.” I installed a new CD player in my truck this weekend, one through which I can use both my Ipod and Iphone with one plug that also charges whichever is connected at the time (this is more difficult that it seems – Apple likes to change things up and screwed up car installs with the latest Iphones and Ipods) but also allows me to use USB flash drives, which is pretty neat-o. Anyway, I have been playing with Pandora internet radio on my Iphone the past few days and have to say it’s pretty great – very good sound quality, very good song choices, and free – and so have been taking my Ipod cable, used in my truck for sound, into work to charge while I listen. I went out at lunch today, grabbing my Ipod to listen while I drove . . . but forgot that cable. I was forced to listen to radio on the approximately 20 minutes of drive-time that I endured. Do you know how many songs I heard in that entire time? One full song, and one partial song. The rest of the time was commercials – most of them, strangely, for insurance or cars, two things I would think very few people are actually shopping for all that often. Oh, and beer. An interesting, possibly dangerous, mix, to be sure.

And, like I said, as soon as I started in on this, all my intended news would just go drizzling away. Such is life with my brain lately. I set out with good intentions, only to stand, confused, in the aisles of life’s grocery store, an empty cart before me, and no idea what I was there to put in it.

November 5, 2008

Movin’ on up

Filed under: General — Tom @ 8:42 pm

A few weeks ago, I introduced into Amanda’s ever-growing vocabulary the phrase “Who you gonna call?” and the obvious answer, “Ghostbusters!” We tortured mommy with it a few times. “This is what you teach your daughter?” Yep.

Today, on the way home, after my mom informed me that she had been getting her to repeat “President Obama” all day, I decided to try and instill some knowledge in her. That’s what a good dad does, after all.

Me: “Who was the first president?”

Her: “I don’t know.”

Me: “George Washington. Who is president right now?”

Her: (something that resembled) “George Washington.”

Me: “George Bush.”

Her: (giggles) “Daddy, that’s funny.” (more giggles) “Bush Bush.” (This went on for a while. You know how kids are.)

Me: “Okay, let’s try again. Who was the first president?”

Her: “Georwatonush.” (giggles)

Me: “And who’s movin’ on up . . . to the east side . . . to a de-luxe apartment in the sky.”

Her: “Daddy.” (Not an answer, just a plaintive sigh of distress.)

Me: “George Jefferson.”

Her: “George Jefferson.”

Me: “And who was the first president?”

Her: “George Jefferson.”

Me: “No, he’s moving on up. George Washington was the first president. Who is president now?”

Her: “George Jefferson.”

Me: “George Bush. Who’s the next president? Grandma said you were saying it all day.”

Her: “George Jefferson.”

I overloaded her with Georges, and of all of them, Jefferson stuck. But she got me back. “Daddy! Who you gonna call?”

Update: Holy shit . . . I just read about these racist Obama things going around, one of which involves the Jeffersons theme song and the White House. Please do not take the above as some kind of racist joke. It is not. I am actually quite proud of our country for this momentous occasion – regardless of how anyone voted, this is something of which to be extremely proud. I even have a post partially written (and not enough time to finish it yet,) saying much of what has already been said by many others, about how this may represent a corner being turned, but it seems that maybe I’m proven wrong by the presence of the racist messages and images being sent around. It was expected at some point, but I hoped maybe a little more time would pass before the dirt would fly again.

Part of me thinks this should just be removed all together, lest people get the wrong idea and think I’m trying to make up for it by making good with this little update. Thoughts? Did anyone find anything offensive in this until I pointed it out?

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