Known Johnson

August 24, 2008

Various and sundry, vol. 1024.7

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 9:45 pm

I haven’t done one of these in ages. Now new and improved with Iphoned-pictures:

Kind of like that scene in The Godfather, only involving Amanda’s birthday gifts and taking place in the trunk of my truck.

Clouds crowd 'round the mountain

We get really hopeful when we see clouds like this around 5pm. Inevitably, more often than not, nothing happens. So far: nothing has happened.

More dead bugs!

For the past two weeks, we’ve had a daily invasion of these annoying beetles – black with thin red stripes along the length of their sides – coming in the front door (all those black specks in that shot are them, dead, outside our front door.) We were going crazy. Nothing stopped them. Finally, I did some research and tried this crazy remedy. It turned out that it worked. The solution? I turned off the front porch light and they stopped bothering us immediately. High tech!

Sleepy, as usual
If there’s one thing the Iphone does, it gives me an opportunity to take pointless pictures of things and upload them to Flickr in realtime. Who doesn’t love a picture of a slumbering kitty?

February 1, 2008


Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 10:45 pm

And, hey, what is with people naming songs on live albums in Itunes with “song name (live)”? This is so annoying. Every CD that I find like that I remove every ” (live)” and resubmit the CD information to Gracenote. Someone out there must think there’s no way to sort live albums out of playlists but by putting that in the title. But they wouldn’t have included the handy comment tag in the mp3 standard if they didn’t have things like this in mind, nor would Apple have created Smart Playlists with which you can sort by comments and look for the presence of the word “live” in the comment tag. Is that too logical? I guess maybe it is. And please don’t argue that it’s so people will know that a song is live when it plays – it’s easy to tell by the crowds. Please, if something needs to go into the song title tag, for the sake of us music fiends, only put pertinent information in their like “BBC recording, January 1971” or something. “Live” just doesn’t cut it.

July 25, 2007

Various and sundry: all of July, basically

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 12:04 pm

Well, I managed to distract myself from posting these things for a month. Fairly amazing, really. In that time I’ve . . .

. . . finished two books (Love Is A Mix Tape and Perfect From Now On) and started a third (Isaac Asimov’s Prelude to Foundation.) I won’t bother with details here – I already did that over there.

. . . saw Transformers. Quick review: awesome. Stupid, but awesome anyway.

. . . begun a brand new series that everyone should read. I’m jumping in the way-back machine and exploring my complicated relationship with music in a new series of posts I’m calling Re:Collection. I just started last week, but I hope to have something new every week. It’s not just about music, for those of you who opt not to read the Lookout – it’s about my life. Music is as important a part of my life as nearly anything else, and it deserved to have some special attention paid to as to why.

. . . bought a pool! After seven long years without water to swim in, we finally gave in and bought a relatively cheap, above-ground vinyl pool from everyone’s most-hated store, Walmart, who had it much, much cheaper than anyone else. Twelve feet in diameter, three feet in depth, nearly 2000 gallons of water – it’s not Olympic by any means, but it gets us wet and cool, and Amanda loves it. Now if only these monsoon storms would go away so we could actually swim in it after work. (Alissa just alerted to me via email that her mom, who is watching her this week, reports that Amanda said, while having her swimmies put on in preparation for going in their pool, said, “Water safety.” Bill Cosby was right – kids do say the darnedest things.)

. . . planned a vacation! A real vacation, not a “fakation” like I took back in late May. No, this time we’re actually leaving Phoenix and heading to the summer home of Phoenicians, San Diego. We spent a good deal of time on the decision of whether to fly or drive, but in the end it just made a lot more sense to drive over – we could get a much nicer hotel, could take practically whatever we wanted with us, and we wouldn’t have to deal with the dilemma of getting Amanda’s stroller, car seat, and Pack-n-play onto a plane (because there’s no way we’re dealing with whatever the hotels have to offer – who knows what other people’s kids have done in those things, and you know they don’t clean them like they should.) So this time in August, we’ll be packing up to leave for a 5 day stay in Sandy Eggo. Plans are to hit Seaworld, the San Diego Zoo, and see the aircraft carrier USS Midway, which has been turned into a giant walkthrough museum. Oh, and rest.

June 26, 2007

Various and sundry: June 16-26, the space/sickness edition

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 11:43 pm

Evil food Somewhere along the line last week, I innocently picked up and ate something that contained some form of vile evilness that stored itself away inside me and then attacked, pretty much eliminating in a very short time any form of nourishment I attempted to take in. In other words, folks, I got food poisoning. I don’t know where, I don’t know how, but I got it, and it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t as bad as the stomach flu over Christmas, but it’s just another event in my life I’d rather not repeat. Two bagels, several cups of rice, and a stack of saltines were my good friends for the past couple of days.

Evil bug While I had that going on, at pretty much exactly the same time Amanda managed to pick up a cold somewhere, too. Children with colds are always so much fun. At least we got her to stop wiping at her nose with her arm immediately after sneezing so we could use a wipe on her and get the mess cleaned up. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: kids have so much snot in them.

Control Alissa did not get sick and so unwittingly performed the roll of “control” in our experiment over the past few days.

/Geek week+ It came to an end Friday with Atlantis successfully touching down at Edwards Air Force base in California, a few days later than planned due to ISS’ situation with the computer malfunctions, the torn insulation blanket, and a bad weather wave-off for a Kennedy Space Center landing. But have no fear, Geek Week will return NET (that’s NASA-speak for “no early than” – you pick up acronyms quickly when you hang out on spaceflight forums) August 7 when Endeavour returns to ISS for more construction.

And why am I a space geek? Looking at pictures like this . . .

. . . has me more than awed in amazement – I have to find out why it looks like that. And I’ll explain: In short, because I won’t bore you with the really technical, aerodynamic-related stuff I don’t really understand, it’s an event that happens just before a vehicle breaks Mach 2. A high pressure wave builds up around certain parts of the vehicle, and areas of low pressure (behind the crew-cabin, the tail, and booster nose cones) cause condensation to build up behind them, resulting in this mist effect. The rainbow-ring is also due to this, or could be the shock-wave itself passing over the vehicle. If you want to be really creeped out, this is also the point at which Challenger disintegrated. This is “max q,” if you remember that term being tossed about, the point at which maximum dynamic pressure is being applied to the vehicle. The shuttles engines are throttled down to something like 65% a little before this to alleviate some of the stresses on the vehicle, then as it passes through max q, the call is made: (and everyone who witnessed the event in some way will remember this) “(Orbiter name), go at throttle up,” and it’s corresponding call back from the shuttle, “Roger, go at throttle up” – the last words heard from Challenger. I still feel nervous hearing those words with every launch today because I know that this is most likely when something could go wrong.

You’ve learned something today, haven’t you. Maybe you’re a little disturbed, but you’ll probably remember this, won’t you?

June 15, 2007

Various and sundry: June 5 – 15, the “almost two weeks edition”

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 1:50 pm

Miss school – miss out You’d think with this much time between, um, “issues,” I guess I’ll call ’em, that I’d have a ton to offer, but it’s just the opposite. Just like missing school, you don’t post, you miss out.

Geek week It’s that time again – Atlantis is in orbit and that means NASA TV is an oft-visited channel at our house. Alissa’s baseball (White Sox and Diamondbacks) compete for airtime with space-related issues, but as there’s something like 6 billion baseball games in the season and only ten days or so of space stuff, I tend to get to see the space stuff. Which has an effect on . . .

My little geekette I have already begun my conquest of turning Amanda into a dork. She knows the shuttle, and, when asked where it is, will go running from her room to the TV, yelling, “Shuddl! Shuddl!” where she taps at the screen because she knows it’s in there, somewhere. It hasn’t topped her fascination with trains and tractors, but I’m working on it. If only the Wiggles did some space-related stuff, I’d have her hooked. Damn that “Fruit Salad.”

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly It’s one of Amanda’s favorite books right now, but you might not realize it’s sort of a true story. It happened to me. So I’m not an old lady, but I did swallow a fly. Drinking a glass of milk, a fly somehow landed right in it just as I took a gulp, and down it went before I could react. This, I should tell you, happened when I was like 8 years old. Lucky for me, as a growing boy I did need the protein.

June 4, 2007

Various and sundry: May 29 – June 4 (The “late” edition)

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 11:06 pm

A vacation from vacation I’ve come away from my vacation needing a vacation. I did too many things that left me too tired, very little of it involving the rest I was hoping to get.

Best laid plans Along with the above, I’d planned to significantly revamp the sites while taking some time off, but as you can see, nothing has changed. I’d also planned to catch up on some music reviews that I’ve been neglecting, but, again . . . Time is slipping away from me every chance it gets. I’m more than slightly annoyed at this.

A case of the Mondays Maybe it’s just having to go back to work today after 9 days off, but I’m seriously blah today.

Hell or Texas One of my little tasks while off was to trim back some plants that have gone out of control. “Uncontained trash pickup” is this week, an event that occurs once every quarter, so I had to hurry to do get the stuff that the winter freeze killed off trimmed up and out to the curb. While doing so, I took the saw blade to my least favorite plant in the whole world right now: the Texas Ebony tree. When we did our front yard, this seemed like a great choice – a very hardy plant for soil that doesn’t get a lot of water or attention. What I didn’t realize is that it grows like a mofo and is covered in long, sharp spines, making the damned thing nearly impossible to prune unless you wear gloves made of steel. I’m telling you, this thing is awful. One time when attempting to trim some of its branches, which, by the way, so inconveniently like to point toward the ground, I moved one way and a branch shot between my glasses and my eye lid, narrowly escaping poking my eye out. I’m convinced that this horrible tree is actually a product of Satan. I’ve so badly wanted to just light the damned thing on fire but I know, as a minion of Satan, that it would just enjoy it and would thrive on it. Well, this week, I found a way under the canopy of this horrible beast-tree’s spiny branches and thrashed at it for a while, reducing it to about 1/3 of its original size. I dragged the long branches to the curb by hooking them in the saw’s triangular frame and pulling them so I wouldn’t need to actually touch anything. It worked, for the most part. I only got stabbed a few times in the gloves and only found one thick, 1/4″ long barb standing straight out of my leg in the shower a half-hour later. I wondered why my leg was hurting so much.

It’s not/it’s snot After making spaghetti for dinner last week, with the usual dinner entertainment provided by Amanda, who entertains herself just as much as she entertains us, we found her particularly stuffed-up in the nose department. A couple of sneezes revealed a large lump of nose-matter that disappeared as quickly as it popped out of her nose, so we were unable to wipe it away. A while later, just before bed, however, she heaved and shot out a big sneeze that resulted in an unavoidable nasal explosion. I grabbed for her and proceeded to wipe while she squirmed. When I pulled the wipe away I realized what we’d been seeing wasn’t the typical product of her nose. No, this was something different. It only took a moment to realize what it was – small, white, about 3/4″ long, 1/16″ diameter . . . “Oh, nasty! This is spaghetti!” What’s more, a couple days later, Amanda again displayed the same unproductive sneezing behavior, but I didn’t think much of it. I just grabbed a wipe and cleaned up, pulling a bit at something hanging on the edge of a nostril. What do you know but a good 2″ piece of spaghetti emerged, glistening with her own special marinara sauce that it simmered in for well over two days. And then it wrapped itself around my fingers. That’s what it’s like being a parent, for those of you without kids. Keep that in mind.

May 28, 2007

Various and sundry – May 19-28 Supersized Holiday Edition

Filed under: Migraine,Various and Sundry — Tom @ 9:17 pm

A rose by any other name Favorite things becomes my much-abused Various and sundry this week. Why didn’t I think of that before?

Cheap stuff Man, this is awesome: Costco has the 5-disc, 12-hour HBO special on the 1960s space program, From The Earth To The Moon, for a “whopping” $21.99. That’s $5.40 a disc. You cannot beat that – it’s not even that cheap used on Amazon. Too bad I didn’t learn about this until after we’d already made our big trip there – and so had to make a special one-item-only trip and endure The Lines just for this. It was worth it. (And, yeah, I’m aware that Discovery Science is airing the episodes. I don’t want the episodes. I want the whole series and the extras, dammit.)

Wax on, wax off I spent most of Memorial Day waxing my truck, after having spent part of the Sunday afternoon prior to that claying the truck with my newly purchased Clay Magic kit. You may remember some mention of claying in a previous post in which I purchased Turtle Wax’s new Liquid Clay Bar. Well, I gave that a try on Alissa’s car, got as far as the hood with that, and changed the name from “Clay Bar” to something that begins with “s” and sound suspiciously like “hit.” I dug out my old Clay Magic bar and went to work and in about the same time that it took me to do the damned hood had the whole car clayed and, as it should, it felt like glass once waxed. I have come to realize that trucks are always more difficult to deal with when cleaning, requiring about double the amount of time and energy, so it came as no surprise that my Ridgeline took far longer. The results, however, were much the same – the finish is amazingly smooth. Seriously, if you love your car, do it and yourself a favor and give it a claying once a year. You will reap rewards come time to sell it – people freak out at how well paint gets taken care of when you do this. It removes all the damage that the sun and the chemicals from the road can do to your paint. It obviously can’t fix paint damage, but it seems to ward off fading completely – four years on and the paint on Alissa’s Accord looks just like it did the day we picked it up.

Ain’t that a kick in the head When I wasn’t waxing my truck, we took Amanda to Arrowhead mall today to check out their play area. We’re coming up on the last weekend of her Little Gym classes (whew) and she’s going to need something indoors to burn off some energy on weekends, and our house just isn’t going to suffice. We were hoping this might do in a pinch and it seems it might, but I wasn’t too thrilled with the “clientèle,” I guess you would call it. Sure, security swooped in to kick out the kids who were obviously far too old to be in there, but he didn’t stop the idiot kid from jumping off the faux-firetruck, hitting Amanda in the head as he did so. Luckily he only grazed her, but it could have been much worse: my daughter’s first enemy may have had to feel my wrath.

Speaking of pricks . . . I finally begin my long treatment for allergies with twice-weekly shots for the next few months, which then goes down to a slightly less intensive schedule and gradually lessens over time for the next few years. It sounds tedious and it probably is, but with as awful as my allergies generally treat me (migraines, infections, etc.) it’s likely going to be worth it. Since I’ve been on some serious allergy medicine, things have been pretty good. Not perfect, but good. But I don’t want to be on medication forever, so the shots are the best way to get around that. I hate needles, but I think this is actually going to be worth that – and that’s saying a lot.

And speaking of medication I’ve got a meeting with Dr. Brain next week to hopefully start weening myself off of my migraine medicine. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of my migraines were from a few strategic foods that, unfortunately, I really, really love, but that I’ve basically given up and since then I really haven’t had any significant problems. I hate saying it, but chocolate and cheddar cheese are things of my past and, in the case of chocolate, that’s really hard to deal with. I’m sure there’s a threshold that will allow me to eat some, but I don’t really like tempting fate right now. I have learned one thing and that is that things labeled “chocolate flavor” are not really chocolate and so are basically safe, for whatever reason. There must be some vital ingredient missing. I don’t know what, but I sure wish I did. Anyway, it will be nice to get off of this drug – it makes me forgetful, most of all, such as spelling words I’ve always known how to spell, or forgetting words just as I’m about to say them, but most embarassingly is that it often prevents me from remembering people’s names, even people I see every day. Very, very frustrating – I have that “tip of the tongue” feeling much of the time, know what I want to say, but just can’t say it. I’d also like soda to go back to tasting normal again. I’ve learned to deal with it but the day when the drug is out of my system and soda tastes delicious again will be wonderful.

Lost for words Remember what I said a couple weeks ago about missing out on Lost? Man, anyone that was a fan and dropped out seriously missed out on one of THE BEST season finales of ALL TIME. Rent/buy this season when it comes out and catch up.

Bad influence One of Amanda’s favorite books has a picture of an ice skater that I found particularly dorky. For a while when Amanda would point at it I would say, “Geek.” Now Amanda points at it and calls the ice skater “Geek.” Oops.

Fakation I’m utilizing the power of a holiday to maximize my time-off savings, so I’ve taken the next four days off for a fake-vacation or, as you’ve guessed it, a “fakation.” It’s an Al Bundy vacation – I’m not going anywhere, I’m not doing anything special, just staying home and hanging out with my little girl (when I’m not destroying faucets or repainting parts of the house, that is,) but, unlike Al, I’ll probably be doing some home-fixin’ things that aren’t particularly vacationary in nature, but, hey, at least it’s not work.

May 19, 2007

Favorite things – May 12-19

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 9:15 pm

It’s that time again – time to look back at the past week and get all misty-eyed about the great things that have passed. A lot of TV talk this week . . . it’s season-finale time, you have to expect that.

Word to your mother/Yo momma Mother’s day has come and gone, and I didn’t get a chance to say anything on the site, but I’m seriously amazed at how Alissa has managed to just become a mother literally overnight. I realize this is her second year at it, but it can’t be said enough: I am eternally thankful for the amazing job she does tending Amanda. Fathers, as important as they are, have a significantly different role – we grow into it, despite being there from the beginning. Mothers take it all on immediately, and I really don’t know how they do it.

Wilco It wouldn’t be a “favorites” list without some mention of music, and currently the new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, is completely dominating my mind. It’s beautiful – sublime, gorgeous, and relaxing while being intelligent and just confrontational enough that it could never be deemed “easy”. It’s a stunning piece of work – maybe their best. Watch Lookout For Hope as there will be a review coming sometime soon. (I feel a little bad – I still haven’t written about Rush’s latest and here I am ready to whip one out for Wilco after just a few days.)

Genesis remasters/remixes Oh, come on, you can’t possibly expect me to not mention more music. I told myself I’d hold off and I tried, but Tuesday I picked up the just-released remix/remaster of Abacab with $10 in Best Buy Reward Zone coupons and fell in love. (Seriously – I just jumped between this and Sky Blue Sky all week, basically.) There are a lot of complaints from audiophile geeks about a travesty having been committed upon the back catalog, having had the master tracks remixed to today’s audio standards, but I’ll tell you – I’m hearing things that I’ve never, ever heard before. Sure, they’re a little sharp and bright in the treble end of things, but I can put up with that. And today I gave in and bought the rest – utilizing the amazing power of Discounts: Borders’ “buy 3 get the 4th free” sale (bought 3 discs and a birthday present for my brother in law) and Google Checkout‘s $10 off your first purchase deal at, surprisingly enough, VH1’s online store for $14.79 plus $4 in Fedex shipping – for a total of $8.78. The total of all 5 albums is something like $55 – about $33 cheaper than the box itself, which I’ve decided is a waste as the b-sides are a non-issue since I have most of them on the Archives 2 box, and they’re just not all that great, for the most part.

Survivor Say what you want about Dreamz’s back-stabbing reneging on the deal he made with Yau-man, it sure made for great TV. Come on – think about it. Yeah, it made everyone angry as hell, but had it gone the other way around, the finale would have been boring as hell. I still think that stupid bastard should give Yau back the truck he cheated him out of, even if he doesn’t actually want it (Yau-man is a conservationally-minded citizen, of course) so at least he can sell it to make something out of his Survivor deal. As for Dreamz, well, I’m not a spiritual person, but I think that boy’s got some serious karma headed his way. He might be getting a lot of attention now, but that’ll be short-lived. Once the media moves on – and it may already have done so – then what? Think of what kind of attention he would have gotten had he given up his immunity. He would have been a hero and could have had publishers begging him to write his life’s story, he could have been a motivational speaker, etc. – something that could have made the difference he claimed all along he wanted to make. Now he’ll always be the guy from Survivor that screwed over a beloved contestant, all for naught.

Gilmore Girls This week marked the final episode of one of my favorite series. (I might be one of the few straight males to say that.) While it had taken a serious down turn in the past couple of seasons, the latter half of this season was rapidly approaching the quality fans knew and loved. Regardless of that, it was time to say goodbye – the story was winding down to a logical conclusion and, despite talk of a possible shortened 8th season to wrap up some loose ends, the important stories were drawn to a satisfying conclusion this past Tuesday. So satisfying, in fact, that it makes it hard to believe they actually had any plans to carry on from here next season – there is simply no logical way to pick up from such an emotional “season” finale as this and move on, and then end it again. Any other finale would have paled in comparison. And, if any Emmy personnel may be watching, why not give a nod to Lauren Graham, who has gone so sadly ignored for so long. If she doesn’t deserve an Emmy for the scene of her saying goodbye to daughter Rory while ironing her clothes to ward off tears and bad thoughts, no one does. It was one of the most powerful scenes I’ve seen on TV in a long time.

American Idol I missed my Idol wrap-up this week, so I’ll just post my reaction here: I’m both surprised and not surprised at Melinda’s elimination. For such a talented singer, it’s a surprise, but with the powerhouse fanbases that Jordin and Blake have churned up behind them, it’s hard to be too surprised. Melinda simply attracted an older group of fans who aren’t going to sit on their phones, obsessively hitting “redial” for her like Jordin and Blake. That said, I think Melinda will be fine – she’ll probably never be a huge success, unless she can somehow manage to pull off a rock career (her “Nutbush City Limit” this week convinced me she actually could) because she’s just too old-fashioned and will appeal to a crowd that appreciates that, which is to say, a limited one. I’ve been predicting Jordin for the win and I still do, but who knows – she could royally screw up on Tuesday, and from what I read, a lot of this is dependent on what awful piece of “songcraft” they are given for their first single to perform that night. We’ll see.

Vacation No, I didn’t take one, I just made a decision on when to take some time off: the week of Memorial day. I’ll be taking the four days following that day and just resting, getting stuff done around the house, and playing with Amanda. It should be nice, but most of all, it’s just plain needed. I am burned out, badly, and need a break from the everyday grind. I wish we could go somewhere but that’s just not in the cards right now, unfortunately.

Cell phones Didn’t I talk about this last week? Deja vu . . . In the span of one week, we made a decision – we got rid of our old phones and found new “pay as you go” phones from Alltel, and so far, so good. For people who use their cell phones a minute or two a day, committing to a plan is just stupid – but very good for the cellular company. This puts the ball back in our court, even if, per minute, it’s slightly more expensive. We’re still way better off financially because we will never use up the minutes quickly enough that it makes sense to be on a traditional plan. Plus, the new phones are tiny, and now I can carry the damn thing with me so I actually have it to use if I need it. That is, after all, the whole point of a cell phone.

May 11, 2007

Favorite things

Filed under: Various and Sundry — Tom @ 1:06 pm

I’m starting a brand new thing here on the site, partially just to make sure I keep active here (so I don’t focus all my time over at Lookout For Hope) but more because there are just things that don’t fit anywhere that occur during the week that might not warrant a full post by themselves but would qualify as something I really enjoyed and want to mention anyway. Or maybe they’re just some things that happened. Maybe not “favorites” – just something. Whatever. Don’t be harsh.

And thus was born “favorite things”! So, without further ado, this week’s favorite things:

Lost: holy crap, what a great, weird episode. Those that abandoned Lost are really missing out. Sure, they dragged their heels for a while and that 6 episode thing last fall where we watched Jack, Kate, and Sawyer sit in cages wound up being pretty pointless, but starting earlier in the spring, Lost has been back at season one quality, aside from a couple of stray episodes. This week, however, might have been the ultimate Lost episode. If you gave up because you weren’t getting answers, you gave up too soon – we’ve been consistently getting answers this latter portion of the season (along with new, equally intriguing questions.) And they’ve been doozies!

Robert Plant’s Pictures At Eleven and The Principle Of Moments remasters – I’ve never given Plant’s solo career the time I should have, not after years in my youth listening to what really weren’t very strong albums (Now & Zen, Manic Nirvana). I’ve always thought he had some great singles but not particularly great albums, so I never bothered to give them a shot – until this week, when I sampled his first two post-Zeppelin albums, Pictures At Eleven and The Principle Of Moments, which recently were remastered (they were previously available remastered only in the 10-disc Nine Lives box.) And, man, have I been missing out. While after these two albums he quickly fell victim to 80s production values, these two albums are absolutely awesome. While I’m annoyed that I missed out on them for so long, I’m kind of glad that I get to discover them now.

The Office I’m of the belief that most “super-sized” sweeps episodes are not stronger than regular-length episodes, and last night’s was no different (last week’s was far stronger) but this is still by far the funniest show on TV. Key moments go to HR rep Toby, who Michael refused to allow to go on the beach trip, for his unmasked disappointment expressed when offering Pam his suntan lotion when she commented that she needed it because she was wearing a two-piece (and I think many of us guys agree, Toby, but we never got a payoff in the episode.) Creed also got one of the best moments – just two brief bits where he was seen in the water catching a fish with his own hands, then was later seen upset at missing out on the hotdog-eating contest, holding the bones of said fish in his hand.) I think my favorite – and he’s always a favorite – was Stanley, who, in an attempt to win Michael’s favor and therefore the management position, tried to be positive and happy for once. If you couldn’t guess, my favorite moments of The Office involve the smaller characters.

Neil Peart: Ghost Rider Not so much a “favorite thing” as an update. For a couple of months I’ve been reading Rush drummer Peart’s memoirs of his days following the loss of his daughter (car accident) and wife (cancer) within 10 months of each other, and I just don’t seem to be making much headway. I can be a slow reader. I don’t like to read fast. I don’t find much satisfaction in that, but this is really slow. I think what it is is that it’s unpleasant. Rush is my favorite band, but reading about the pain he’s suffering is very difficult, even if it informs the songs he would later write. I just don’t know that I’m going to make it through. It’s hard to read page after page of mentions of pain, not to mention that there is a lack of forward story motion. I realize it’s his real story, but, I don’t know, it might have been edited down a bit more to make it move forward a little less slowly. Maybe I’m just not a good audience for this type of writing – I’ve never been a big fan of pretty much any autobiographical writing pretty much for all of these reasons.

Cell phones It’s time for a new phone. My phone had a crack in the plastic over the display for something like a year. Sometime last week, I think it was, I dropped it on the floor of my truck while I was driving and moved it with my foot. Little did I guess the sheer power harnessed within my very foot, for I crushed the clear plastic without realizing it. I picked it up to find a bunch of shards of plastic in there, but the phone still works. It’s just ugly and uncomfortable. It’s also almost three years old now, amazingly, and I’ve pretty much hated it the entire time I’ve owned it. It’s a big phone. I don’t need anything special, but I definitely want a flip-phone, as this one was not and I think it was my first non-flipper and now I see why most phones are. One thing to know about me and phones is that I don’t really use them. I don’t call people. I’m not a phone person. Email is my thing. I’ll call if I have to, but I’m just not a big talker. I use my phone maybe one minute a day. But I get why phones are important and it’s been a very handy/important thing to have, especially when you have children, so we’re going to switch to those “pay as you go” phones with the refill cards. That concept just makes sense. Buy the phone, buy a card for like $25, and make sure to use it up in 90 days or get a new refill in that time. I can live with that. But $60 a month for something I barely use? Not making a whole lot of sense. But this time I get a phone with a camera. It seemed totally pointless in the past, but now I have had dozens of times when I’ve thought “damn, if only I had a camera” – not something I NEED to have a great picture of, but something stupid I would have loved to have gotten a picture of. I will rectify.

Leaving work two hours early because the boss said so I can only think of one thing better than that, and that is not working that day at all.

Oh, and this:

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve watched that this week.

(If you’re totally confused, and you probably are because, well, you’re a normal human being, it’s from Cartoon Network’s Tim And Eric Awesome Show Great Job!. I’m certain that about 95% of the public will hate this show, but for those 5% of us who enjoy bizarre humor like this, this is a gold mine.)

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