Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mah Associates Tell Me

Due to a threat of violence against Hypnotoad, here is a post. While I'm sure Hypnotoad can take care of himself, I thought it would be best to put something up to keep the peace. If you want to know what Hypnotoad sounds like, see Kingfisher's comment... cracked me right up!
Happy first day of summer (Summer Solstice, for you druidic dancing-naked-around-a-fire-at-midnight-in-the-woods types). Today's a good day to test the theory that you can stand an egg on end on the sidwalk at high noon. Of course this works best at the equator, I'm told. I've always remembered the experiment around 2PM, and naturally it wouldn't work then. Plus which, I'm near the 45th parallel, which is halfway between the equator and north pole. Which explains why we get howling blizzards in April. Makes for a short day at the beach.
I'm absent mostly from my online haunts due to an increase in workload and downcrease in computer play time. I don't have a computer (or teevee) at the apartment, so my activities are limited to those blessed by my boss. Not only that, but I got a virus this week that required the wipeout and reinstallation of every.single.byte on my computer. I was without my trusty jet-engine sounding puter for 2 1/2 days, and I got it back clean and fast and almost like new. It's boggling how much personalization I took for granted, like toolbars and menus, printer setups, music and bookmarks. It's still not back to full efficiency yet. And, the IT guy has to approve all downloads, and Firefox ain't approved. Gah! Feels like I'm painting a house with those toy watercolor brushes, and my colors are all reddish-black. And runny.
I have a few posts in the hopper, but they may not see daylight for a while.
Since you're already online, go check out some people who actually write stuff you want to read - The Places I Go, at right. Wordnerd's got a bright and freshly painted site I'm sure you'll love, and Wordsmiths Unlimited has a story challenge for you, it's due in 9 days. Tiff's already posted her story, 'cause she's on top of things like that.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Up Your Dates

Things of note: I got me a donorcycle (as named by one who thinks horses are other than ferocious, murderous beasts that like to maim little girls) this weekend. It ran just enough to tease me, dying after a few seconds or minutes of erratic idling. I knew it had this problem when I got it from a coworker, but I still couldn't resist trying to start it every time I went by. I took off the side covers, installed a new battery, new gas with some fuel system cleaner, and took apart the top of one carbeurator. Then put it back together, because I have no idea what I was looking at. I actually got it to run for about 4 minutes once - that was big excitement. But, as all things do, it died. Happily, there is a bike repair shop across the street from my office. Here it is in the morning dew, waiting for the experts to tinker with it and bring it back from the dead. Speaking of which, my Betta (rhymes with wetta - credit Kingfisher for the correctitude) has bit the dust. I came home from work Friday to find the poor fishy floating near the bottom, colors fading and fins still. He (she? I didn't look between its fins) never did eat any of the bettafood, even though I followed the directions exactly. Sadly, it expired before I could do the christening - so he (or she) has returned to the earth via the Grand Rapids Wastewater Treatment System. Speaking of which, I had one job which required me to visit that facility. I was an outside plant engineer for a telecom engineering firm, who handled all the fiber optic cabling for the city. Interesting place, that. Miles of underground tunnels and a very unusual smell - not terribly unpleasant, and not sewage-like. More like a combination of bakelite (pegboard, or the back of an old teevee) and toasted marshmallows. The part that really skeeved me out was the presence of emergency boxes along the length of the tunnels, much like a fire extinguisher box. These boxes, however, contained SCUBA gear. A mask, a tank, and the very sickening realization of the possibility of needing such a thing. Jibblies. Grossed me out far worse than the sign in the lobby which read: "The water you drink tomorrow could be the water you drank yesterday." A final thought before I must go work work work: Wordsmiths Unlimited is back!! I can't tell you how exciting this is. My presence on the innerwebs is due to that institution; up until then I thought blogs were things for people with dread diseases or political agendas. Or both. Had no idea they were such interesting and diverse fun. You can see my first story here, then go write one of your own!

Thursday, June 7, 2007


It's time to change the scenery here. I've been tagged, which takes care of the decision-making portion of this post. I've also been impugned by one Trinamick (that's a rare photo I'm sure she wouldn't want published. Ha! to that). So, on with the completion of a thing started last week. I'm so on top of things. So, I shall call this: An Octet Of Things 1. I was a spelling bee champion at my school in 7th grade. I got eliminated in the regionals, but had all kinds of dorky fun getting there. Nobody was more surprised than I when I won my classroom, then school. I studied at my friend Mark's house, but I seem to remember overdosing on orange pop and Oreos, and playing with all kinds of strange toys from the 50's including wooden telescoping boxing gloves much more than studying. 2. I've been on 4 cross-country bike tours. First was Grand Haven to Mackinac Island, MI; next Rochester NY to Bar Harbor ME; then Jackson Hole WY through the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone; finally, Eugene OR to San Francisco CA. Between age 13 and 16, I put a couple thousand miles on the ol' Schwinn. We would take a bus to our starting point, then bike about 35-60 miles each day to camp. The bus would leapfrog us, carrying the kitchen and tents. Some of my best photos are from those times. I managed to collide with something on each trip (another biker, ground, tree, or car). Fortunately it never happened during the many times I was inches from a several-hundred-foot dropoff. 3. I'm getting a motorcycle this weekend. I hope to get it to run (it's, uh, in my price range). It will be my primary mode of transport since Marlon went all corkscrewwy on me. I had one once before (when I was 18): a Suzuki 3-cylinder POS that I got for $50. It had a gas leak, bald tires, loose chain, and no license or insurance. I plan to be a wee bit more responsible this time around. I hope to get a 4-wheeler before the snow flies again, which should be some time after September. 4. I've never asked a girl out on a date, since being turned down for my Homecoming dance in 9th grade. Oh sure, I've been on plenty of dates. But it was either mutually agreed or initiated by the girl. I told Boy this story on the occasion of his having 5 dates to homecoming. His reply? "Sucks to be you." I think I'm over it. 5. I've never gone 2 weeks without work since landing my first Real Job at a car wash at 16 years old. It took me a while to settle into a career path, and there sure was some wandering. But even in one of the worst economies in the country, I've always managed to find work. 6. Related to #5, I tried entrepreneuring 3 different times, which certainly has its ups and downs. Freedom and limitless possibility come with long hours, no health insurance, and all the responsibility. The first was a cleaning business, which was wildly successful. Mrs. Spiffy cleaned houses for extra cash when the kiddos were young, and I began helping her out. We picked up an office to clean, and then another... soon we were earning a week's pay each night. I quit my day job, hired a flotilla of part time cleaners, and became a Businessman. Four years later, when two of our crew leaders quit on the same night, it fell to me to keep the accounts rolling. I managed for a couple weeks. Until one day, when I woke up in the afternoon and realized I hate cleaning. Truly hate it. So, we liquidated. From then on I vowed to do what I enjoy. So far, so good. 7. As a yoot, I always wanted to be an astronaut, pilot, or locomotive engineer. Didn't matter, I just wanted to be at the controls of a big, powerful, expensive machine. Gave up on astronauting when I realized I needed better grades than I ever got, and the pilot program is still in my future. I get my jollies when I can in construction equipment - I have operated backhoes, bobcats, cranes, bulldozers, skytracks, and forklifts. Wouldn't think I'd like doing that full time every day, but it's fun once in a while. 8. I'm not a big sports fan. I'll watch about 4 football games each year on purpose: Michigan/ Michigan State, Michigan/ Ohio State, the Superbowl, and the Lions' annual Thanksgiving loss. I like going to live games, but when people talk sports around me I usually nod, smile, and shuffle off to look at my Star Trek Action Figure collection. Or something. OK, now you know a thing or two that you might not heretofore have known. Here's the Plus One: I received a gift fish last night, quite unexpectedly. No, I didn't look it in the mouth. It's a very pretty Betta with a flowing iridescent tail, in a new bowl with a bright yellow plastic cactus. BTW, my fish is much prettier than the one linked. It needs a name. Won't you help?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Whatever You Were Planning, Fahgeddaboutddit

Came in to work this morning to see this. I'm just glad it wasn't on my desk. Poor guy's gonna have some thumbs to twiddle while the IT guy works his magics. The power goes out here a few times a year, and every time the office stands around chatting about baseball or kids or The longest we've stayed open without power is one hour - because we are utterly dependent on these little machines. Even the phones are part of a computer system, so there is no contact with the business world unless the juice is flowing. In my first office job, I worked for a design-build firm specializing in churches. The accountants and secretaries had computers, but nobody else. If the power went out (which happened often), we kept drawing. We'd have to erase by hand instead of using the nifty little power erasers, but pencils don't care whether the lights or AC were on. At this office, there isn't a drawing board on site. It's not even a practical backup anymore, since we need our engineering software to work before there's anything to draw. Once we were downtown at a swanky restaurant for cocktails. I asked for the check, and the young waitress said the credit card machine was down. So they weren't collecting any money. We were free to go. I asked if we could stay and get a few more, but got the stinkeye and decided it was time to make our exit. Nobody on staff had any idea how to work a manual credit card transaction, even though I could see the kerchunking machine under the register. I wasn't about to explain it to her. Lately, I'm busier than a chameleon in a blender full of crayons, so my time is up. Any stories of total computer dependence? Won't you share in yonder Comments? Have a nice day.

Friday, June 1, 2007