Saturday, December 31, 2005

Quantum Disco

Happy New Year everyone! May your subatomic particles boogie like it's 1999! Don't get the quantum string confused with the confetti, or as sure as there's an event on the horizon you'll never clean it up.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Post-Holiday Stress Syndrome

Normally, the glare comes from the front of my head as well as the top. Now, however, the glare comes from the back and sides as well. My head is now the equivalent of fine grit sandpaper. I guess it's time to take up woodworking.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas in Arizona

It was 77 degrees, yet we had a fire going in the fireplace. It's all about the atmosphere. (Hello, meteor!) After snacks, a meal of stuffed shells and Wontar's Shepherd's Pie(tm) we went for a walk around the apartment complex. My mother and niece picked roughly 1/4 ton of grapefruit, oranges, lemons, and tangelos from the trees, while my nephew and father rode around on our trikkes. Presents were opened, oohs and aahs commenced. All in all, a darn fine day.

Oh, and this is my niece. She doesn't always make this face, but it's the one I chose to put up on the blog. Why? Because it'll get the best reaction from her when she realizes I've posted it for all the world to see. (Am I a cool uncle or what?)

Friday, December 23, 2005


New hats? Check.
New cowboy boots? Check.
Cool scenery? Check
70 degree weather two days before Christmas? Check
Prevent my brother from buying a godawful shirt and find him a better one? Check.
Picture of family with all their new finery? Priceless.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Perspective, Part XXXIV

This is a hill at the Saguaro Mountain National Park. It doesn't look all that impressive here, does it? Just a plain old, ordinary hill. Rocks, dirt, some cacti, nice blue sky... but nothing to write home about. Just a big ol' lump in the middle of the desert. Something you could just walk right up and over without so much as noticing it.

This is the view from the top of that pile of dirt. The eyebolt was left by some mountain climber or someone who rappelled from here after climbing up. (They even left a climbing glove, which is now a souvenir for my nephew.) It wasn't a difficult climb by any means, but it was a climb. Like climbing a ladder, though. Pretty easy. The cars in this picture were behind me in the previous one, just to give you an idea.

All in all, a great day. Nice to have the whole fam damily out here in the 76 degree weather for Christmas! No shovels required.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Government Employee-Inspired Rant

You may remember that I sent an e-mail complaint to TIGTA on Friday because someone from within the confines of the IRS was browsing this website. I explained to them who I was, the pertinent information, and that I had a ticket open with them from about six months ago. Here is their response in its entirety:

"What type of ticket do you have open? Who is it open with? What is a ticket?"

That was it. I'm not kidding. I really, really wish I were kidding. No opening, no apology, no course of action. Nada. Just three questions of rapidly diminishing length and intellect level. When someone who makes a good $50-$60K of my tax dollars as salary asks me what a ticket is, I tend to become a little bit miffed. Perturbed, even. I'd go so far to say that I was downright irked.

OK, I was pissed. Like the scene in Braveheart where all the Scotsmen are yelling and screaming and waving their weapons around and stuff? That was going on in my head. (Not the mooning, just the hordes of angry Scots.) When I get angry, I don't turn green. (Unfortunately, as that would be really, really cool.) My vocabulary goes into overdrive. Here's the first part of my response to TIGTA, wherein I answer their questions:

"Dear Unnamed TIGTA employee,

Thank you for your response. I will endeavor to answer your questions as you asked them.

I do not know the 'type of ticket' I have open. The type is whatever type that is created when someone makes an internet complaint regarding governmental employees going to non-work-related websites during their governmental tour of duty instead of performing their assigned tasks and job duties. You would, presumably, know what that is more than I since you work for TIGTA and I do not.

I do not know the name of the specific individual who last handled the ticket. He was a TIGTA investigator, and I spoke with him at length in May as I stated in my previous e-mail. The ticket, therefore, is open with TIGTA.

As for your question 'what is a ticket?'... traditionally it is a piece of paper with information on it, but has since been used as a euphemism for an active case. Perhaps you call it a 'case number', or perhaps you actually still use little pieces of paper which is why you did absolutely no research into this matter to determine that I have a six month old case to which this complaint needs to be associated."

It goes on like that, with the complexity of words increasing. "Wherewithal" and "apathetic" come up, and I know that whoever reads it is just going to skim over those words because they won't actually have meaning to the reader. They just create a momentarily furrowed brow and a slight buzzing noise in the head of the reader as he/she skims along looking to close the case without actually doing anything, and then head off to break number 147 of the day. Have to warm up for lunch, after all. I mean, really... why would an investigator be expected to investigate? That's not in the job description! I'm sure my complaint sounded all suspicious what with me using this strange lingo and secret code words. "What is this 'ticket' of which you speak? My mind holds no meaning for such words. You must be a sorceror! Avaunt, demon! You who have now forced me to use this 'ticket' word twice without my knowledge of its origin! I have been ensorcelled! I must wash the foul words from my mouth! Bring forth the sacramental cupcakes, ho-hos, doughnuts, bagels, cookies... more cupcakes..." *drool eat drool munch drool snack drool consume*

Your tax dollars at work. (And I really, really, really honestly and completely wish I was kidding.)

The story doesn't end here. Not at all. But that's all I'm going to share at the moment. Sorry. Just needed to vent.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Tagged by Tarragon

Not to be confused with "bruised by basil", "socked by sage" or "pummeled by paprika". Tarragon has tagged me, and in good blog form I must respond. So, in no particular order, here they are:

I confess... funyuns with chunky peanut butter and a tall glass of milk equates one of the finest snack food combinations in the free world. (No, I'm not kidding, and I don't care if you think it's disgusting.)

I confess... at the ripe old age of 35, I still play with Legos. A lot.

I confess... becoming ordained was an extremely special and life-altering event to me not for any religious significance, but because of the other people involved.

I confess... when I was four years old, I was convinced I was an alien because I was so different from everyone else in my class. I could read.

I confess... art school was the best and the worst experience mainly because it was then that I discovered that I wasn't as good as everyone had been telling me I was. I finally had to work at it.

There you go. Tidbits aplenty for your dining and dancing enjoyment.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm Over It

I received a hit on my site today that came from within the confines of my former employer. They haven't bothered me for nearly six months. I'll admit that, at first, I was filled with my usual legendary rage. I mean like... force-you-to-drink-a-milkshake, then-force-you-to-swallow-a-few-starving moray-eels-and watch-them-eat-you-from-the-inside-out angry. (Why a milkshake? Gives the stomach acids something else to work on so it doesn't hurt the eels. Duh.) (And I know, morays are huge and you couldn't really swallow one much less a few. I don't delve too deeply into zoology when I'm pissed.)

I calmed down a bit, and sent an e-mail with all the particulars to my buddies at TIGTA. I even did more of their damn jobs for them and told them how to stop it from happening again. Seemed like old times, really. Telling people who get paid a hell of a lot more than me how the job should've been handled six months ago... I'll never be sure how to put that on a resume.

But you know what? As an average Joe Taxpayer, I'm still quite livid that my tax dollars are being wasted by some schmuck surfing through websites instead of doing his or her damn job. And when TIGTA calls, and I know they will, I'm going to have to once again explain how I know what I know, and explain what I meant in my explanation to someone with the computer skills of one of the Montgolfier brothers. (As for me knowing who the Montgolfier brothers are, all I can say is: "Thanks Tennessee Tuxedo!")

However, at the end of the day and the beginning of the next, I'm over 2,500 miles away from all of it. I get to look out the window and see a mountain, it's a crisp 50 degrees, there are fall colors and hummingbirds all around... my joints don't hurt, my head doesn't hurt, and I actually fall asleep on a regular basis without taking anything to do so, people don't pester me 10 hours a day so I can actually go to the bathroom during the day if I need to... I've even lost weight.

So look at my site all you want. Print it out. Hell, copy it longhand, since you probably can't fathom the sorcery that is the "print" icon. Waste all the taxpayer dollars you want. Keep that picture of me up in the guard booth. But here's a tip: you're going to have to change it. Because I have this neat thing going on now that I rarely had inside that building. It's called a "smile".

Oh yeah. Sorry, Tarragon. I'll get to the tag thingy. I just really needed to vent first.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Baby It's Cold Outside

We went to Mexico on Monday. Our second trip, and it surprises me how quickly we adapt. The first time, I was riddled with trepidation about going. I'm not a "people person" by any means, so I don't like the thought of crowds. I also do not speak Spanish, and I think it's arrogant of me to go to a country and not speak their language or even have a passing familiarity with it. (Sure, the merchants all speak English for their livelihood, but that's not my point.) I felt bad and even more out of place. I had also heard many a story about beggars and street urchins, so I was picturing all sorts of thievery and squalor. So basically, my first trip to Mexico equated to me being an anti-social, linguistically-challenged, hyperactive guard dog in 100 degree heat. Not a lot of fun for me.

The recent trip was better. Not because I've had a crash course in Spanish, and certainly not because I've received lots of therapy or lots of drugs to counteract my anti-social tendencies. The main reason it was better for me was because it was about 50 degrees cooler this time around. The temperature was in the 50-55 degree range. Despite the balmy December temps, I saw more than one person wearing a heavy winter jacket. I'm talking the big, puffy, Michelin Man-type jacket. Zipped. I grew up in upstate New York. The weather there now is about -10 to -20. Without the wind chill. At those temperatures, parts of your body will break off if you're not careful. To see people dressed as if they're going off on a polar expedition when it was 55 out... well, that's just good comedy right there. All I needed to see to make it better would have been a sled dog pulled by chihuahuas. I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans, and feeling a bit warm. (Stupid pants.) More than one merchant wanted me to buy a jacket. I laughed. To be honest, I wished I could have laughed, made my eyes glow, and said: "No necesito una chaqueta. Soy el chupacabra!" But that's mostly because of the whole anti-social thing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I Swear It's Not The Heat

In my continuing discovery that a little Photoshop goes a long way, I give you "Faith". Which is much more concise than calling it: "This is what happens when you select a filter and say 'Ooooh... that's cooool!'".

I also made two new stores. One for the lion pic and one for this testament to something I lack. For that matter, I lack a lion as well, so I guess they have that in common.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


A little Photoshop goes a long way, turning one of the stone lions guarding the entrance to the grotto near the San Xavier del Bac Mission into something trippy.

No Photoshop needed as two crosses play Pong with the moon.

Somewhat anticlimactic for my 200th post, huh?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

How To Scare A Telemarketer

Those of you who know me know that I despise the telephone. (For those of you who don't know me: I despise the telephone.) Our number is on the "Do Not Call" list, but that seems to mean less and less. Today, we were subjected to several calls by someone whose number was unknown to us and who refused to leave a message on the machine. If they leave a message, I give them points for being professional. If they do not, they're in the express lane to earning my hatred. About the fifth time they called, my better half picked up the phone and hung up on them, which she repeated the following call.

The seventh time, I answered:

"What... is... it?" (Never "hello". "Hello" is for people who are at least pretending to be polite, and we were way beyond that point already.)

"Hello? Could I speak with De.." stammered Sally Outsource. She did not get to finish the next syllable.

"No you may not. Can I speak with your supervisor?" Countered the angry Wontar.

Insert puzzled pause here. "Could I please speak with..." Oh, Sally. You're not making it any better for yourself by ignoring me.

"No, you may not! Can I speak with your supervisor now!" interrupted the increasingly-angry Wontar.

"If I could just..." Sally, Sally, Sally! If you were in the same room as me, I'd be shoving your head in the garbage disposal. Feet first, of course. Good thing you're outsourced.

"No! I either talk to your supervisor by the time I count to thirty, or you'll hear from my attorney. Your choice. Supervisor, or attorney? Do you understand me?" These words, said through clenched teeth, have significant impact. Wontar smash! Wontar hate puny phone person! Wontar melt phone with burning rage!

There was a squeak, and the phone went dead. She hung up. Yep. She hung up on me, rather than get a supervisor. It wouldn't surprise me that she doesn't have a supervisor, or the equally likely possibility that she didn't understand enough English to know what the hell I was saying. She just knew I wasn't the person she wanted and I was extremely pissed off.

Either way, the phone has stopped ringing. So I don't really care.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Suitable for wrapping presents. Or pasts. Whichever.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Don't Drain Your Pasta In A Calendar

We bought a Christmas tree earlier today. We thought the trees would be fresher than the ones in NY, because we assumed they'd be fresh-cut from the mountains of AZ. We were half right. The trees were fresher, but they came from North Carolina. Odd.

We had the TV on while putting the lights on the tree. Doing so made me come up with the following question: Could someone please tell me why "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" was on today? It's December 3rd! Are the Valentine's Day specials going to start airing next week so we can start with the St. Patrick's Day parade on the 26th? There are enough Christmas specials out there. Why the hell would they put a New Year's special on in the beginning of December?

All I know is that I want to see a Boxing Day special this year. It's long overdue.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wanted: Title

It's a story about witches. No pointy-black-hat-flying-on-broom witches, and not glamorous twenty-something witches who do good deeds. These witches are ordinary. Sweatpants in the supermarket ordinary. They were chosen because of their everyday appearance. Yes, I said "chosen". They didn't set out to be witches. They thought it was a social event. Something fun they learned as a group. Like a Tupperware party. They learn some tricks, and the ones with real aptitude get taken away, separated from the herd, and are forced to do one last trick. They think it's going to be a big deal. I guess it is, but certainly not like they expect. They're told they're going to do something for runaway teens. Sounds noble, doesn't it? Nothing noble about what happened to those kids, good intentions or not.

One runaway and one witch-wannabe in a room. One spell later, and one of them is dead and the other changed forever. The dead one? The witch. Seems the amount of power used in the spell is too much for the caster to bear. The target of the spell, the runaway, is no longer human. No, not a monster. Not exactly. The teenage runaway is gone, and is replaced by a dog. Never the same breed, but never a big dog either. Never understood that part. There were some special things about the dogs, too. They always had a star-shaped patch of fur somewhere. Never understood that, either. One last thing about the dogs, other than being as smart as humans. Well, as smart as human runaways at least. The other thing that makes these dogs special is that they can astral project. When they do, they are no longer dogs, but human teenagers again.

Yeah, I know. It sounds like some lousy TV show or crappy movie. But I know this is all true...

I'm one of the dogs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

3-D Extravaganza!

I see a griffon on the left, and a dragon-esque creature on the right. They're battling for supremacy in the sky, and the loser will end up paying for lunch. The hard way.

I haven't tried it myself, but it appears to me that if you were to look at this with 3-D glasses it'd pop right out at you. If anybody has the glasses and tests my theory, let me know how it looks.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

How A Mermaid Became an Angel

This nifty image came into being while playing around with Apophysis. It had a title before I even finished it. "Mermaid in the Mirror" seemed to fit, what with the cool blue colors and the nice round thing by what I perceived as her head. (Don't ask me what the pizza-looking thing is. Let's call it a wayward sea cucumber and leave it at that.)

I opened the image in Photoshop to crop it and punch up the color a little bit. Then I started playing around with filters. If you've ever used Photoshop on an image and you start playing around with filters, you'd better have some time to kill. A lot of time. Even if you've used a filter before, you never really know what it's going to do to the image. Which is how the following image came into being:

My happy little mermaid was peering through the mirror, which is what I wanted, but the rest of her had turned into this great painting-looking texture. It reminded me greatly of all those paintings riddled with angels and other religious iconography that I had to memorize in various art history classes. What was once featureless black had become aged dappled clouds. My mermaid was turning into an angel, and I suddenly realized I needed to help her along.

(Before you think I've snapped in the desert heat, you need to understand that I haven't found religion. I'm one of the most a-religious people you'll ever meet. Despite being an ordained minister and being able to scare Jerf with my knowledge of which pope was the only one to launch a crusade against his fellow Europeans.)

This was strictly an artistic exercise. The result?

The mermaid is now a figure in a flowing robe, holding a shield and a sword of light. (The shield has a holy pancake or something floating around it, but I can look past that if you can.)

Digital art is friggin' fantastic. Not only can it get the things in my head out into the (relatively) real world far faster than I ever could, but it also has the added benefit of bringing other images out completely unbidden. I really could play with this single image for a few more hours and get a few dozen variations, but since I'm no longer subjected to insomnia I'm friggin' tired. Muse or no muse, I need sleep.

Hope you enjoy the peek into one side of my brain!

Saturday, November 26, 2005


I've come to the decision that it's no longer necessary to own a domain since so much hosting stuff is available for free. Therefore, one month from today will no longer exist. This site, however, will still exist. If you're interested, update your bookmarks to

I had "" for five years, and in going through the files there I had a lot of stuff that was personal, but I also found some stuff that was used for work. By that I mean that I did some code tests and sample pages and whatnot, just to see how things functioned off of a server. It made me realize that I had the domain mostly for myself, but also so that I could do more work at home for a place that didn't appreciate it. I didn't like that realization much, as you may well imagine.

That means my e-mail address will change as well, but most of my regular readers already know what that is. If you don't have it, then e-mail me.

In other news... not much. Thanksgiving was festive, and I didn't gain weight because of it. It did, however, mark the end of my pantsless run. I actually wore jeans for the first time since May 4. The streak, so to speak, has ended. But that's OK, because the pants were loose.

There's your PSA for today. You may now resume your stuff.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Petroglyphs at Signal Hill

Signal Hill, located in the western part of the Saguaro National Park, is noted for the petroglyphs shown above. After just over six months of living within a twenty-minute drive to the park, we finally went to visit them. To be fair, the weather is now perfect for this kind of trek; and it was during this recent excursion we learned that one of the roads which leads to the petroglyphs is the same one we were on back in May. Back when it was 109 degrees and we had no water and had no idea where we were going. This time, we had a map, water, and it was only about 75 degrees. Much better exploring weather!

I've mentioned before that I enjoy archaeology, and that it's one of those things I wish I'd pursued as a career. Seeing petroglyphs like this only reinforces those thoughts. No written language for people to butcher, just pictures. Draw a spiral, people know what you mean. Draw a circle with lines on it, and that's the sun. Draw a thing with four legs and antlers, and people know that's lunch. Draw a long, squiggly line and that's a river. Put it all together and it means that it takes a day walking along the river to catch your lunch. Simple, elegant, and very cool.

To be honest, I have no idea what the dotted ring next to the sun means.

But then, I have absolutely no frame of reference for it. I don't have to go out and kill my lunch, find my own water, or build my own home. I would have been dead long ago if that were the case, and quite frankly most of the people reading this would be in the same boat. (Or complete and utter lack of a boat, as the case may be.)

The petroglyphs are inaccessible. Well, they're supposed to be. There's a small metal railing keeping honest folk at bay, but it wouldn't take much to just go around the railing and clamber all over the rocks and petroglyphs and carve your own symbols on there to mess with the next visitor's head. But that's one of the interesting things about being here in Arizona as opposed to New York... there's a level of respect for things like this that's lacking in NY. Specifically, I mean graffiti. These rocks would be buried under spray paint six inches thick by now if they were in NY. Or they'd be encased in bulletproof plexiglass with armed guards. Here, they're out in the open as they were meant to be. Funny thing, though... the railing had graffiti on it. Names carved into it, things like that. (Hey, I didn't say AZ was perfect.)

It does have some magnificent sunsets, though. I'm quite happy with them.

You'd think that an afternoon spent looking at petroglyphs, exploring the desert, and taking a whole bunch of pictures of the setting sun would qualify as an eventful day. Normally, it would. But the evening had one more special event in store for us, and we saw it as we were heading out of the park.

Two coyotes, walking up the road towards our car. Sunset is the time that the desert really comes alive with animals, and these two were out in search of lunch. (And they didn't need any petroglyphs to find it!) Deb took this shot, and I think it came out pretty well considering it was dark, we were inside the car, and the flash went off. Actually, I think the flash is the only thing that kept them from walking right past the car. They had no fear of it.

That is what I call an awesome end to an awesome day!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Instruction Manual of the Lamp

We purchased the lamp pictured here from Toscano. The lamp came with a 5" x 7" sheet of instructions that not only bore the title "Instruction Manual of the Lamp", but they were either translated from another language or written by someone who bashed his head against a keyboard for a week. (I've worked with people like that, so I'm not ruling it out.) Since I laughed quite uncontrollably while reading them, I figured I'd share the highlights with you. My thoughts will be in italics for your added enjoyment.

1. Cleaning
Do not use the Cleaning Powder, the Wire Sponge, the Flammable Spray Cleanser or Pesticide.
Honey? Where's the DDT? I need to clean the furniture.

Use soft cloth for cleaning. Dry immediately if wet cloth used for cleaning for stubborn.
If you're easygoing, does that mean you can use a wet cloth?

2. Changing the Bulb
Disconnect from the electronic supply for at least an hour before replacing the bulb.
OK, so in order to change the bulb I have to unplug the lamp, wait an hour, and then do it? What am I, going for a swim with the lamp? Or is the lamp some awesome storage battery housing all manner of electricity siphoned off from the mysterious "electronic supply"?

3. Changing the Structure
Do not change any part and insert any material to the lamp for safety.
What? I didn't realize I had the power to transmogrify lamps! Why didn't anyone tell me? Also, the lamp didn't come with a bulb, so if I insert a bulb that's bad, and if I change the bulb that's bad. So much for safety, as I've effectively purchased a metal stick.

5. Caution
Place the wire in safety condition to avoid kicking.
While I agree that it's good to avoid kicking, I don't exactly know where the safety condition is. Perhaps the lamp is playing football and I didn't know it.

Do not shake and knock the lamp.
I can't do both, but can I do just one of those?

Do not use the lamp in downward position in order to cause fire.
You know, I've never tried to use a lamp as a laser. I'm going to have to try this with one of my instruction-free lamps and see if I can use it in a downward position to cause fire.

Do not cover the lamp with cloth and paper to avoid fire.
Again, not both, but one would be OK? And if I'm avoiding fire, isn't that a good thing?

Do not touch the lamp immediately after switching off or when the lamp is switched on.
In other words: never ever touch the lamp.

Personally, I'm relieved that the lamp came with these instructions. Otherwise I'd be touching the lamp, covering it with paper and cloth doused in pesticide, and generally using it in a downward position to cause a fire. I'd be like Prometheus with a Gothic laser beam lamp, starting brush fires and killing bugs with impunity and a wire sponge clenched in my teeth.

In other, non-lamp news, I'm happy and surprised to announce that I've lost over 10 lbs. If I lose another 20 I'll be happy, but really anything is a bonus. Can I get a large "woohoo"?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


This is one of those pictures that started out as one thing but ended up as something completely different. Like a man with a tape recorder up his nose.

Image created with Poser, Bryce, and Photoshop. To quote my wife: "None of it is real."

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Paint Yourself Another

Back in 1985 there was a new version of The Twilight Zone series on TV. One of the ones that has always stuck in my head was the one where a woman kept seeing faces in the patterns of objects. You know, wallpaper, fabrics, things like that. Nothing so odd about that, really. After all, doesn't everyone see faces in patterns? Hell, the blue floral wallpaper in the bathroom in my parents' house had several groupings that resembled faces if you looked at it the right way. (Wallpaper of the mid-70s was designed primarily by people on acid trips, so that may explain it.) The difference here was that this woman was convinced that the people who belonged to those faces were trying to come out of their world and into ours and do various nefarious things. She wound up in a mental institution. Nice white walls, white sheets, everything pattern-free. That is, until it rained, and the ceiling developed a stain from a leaky roof. A stain that looked like...

Well, it's the Twilight Zone. You can pretty much figure it out.

To those of you with wallpaper and/or leaky ceilings: Sweet Dreams!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Run, Runner!

I'm either the kiss of death for my own childhood, or things are much more out of control than I previously thought.

Allow me to explain: We were watching Logan's Run today. I was going to post something about how, if that movie were remade today, people wouldn't get the message. Or the fact that the message the movie was making back in 1976 is even worse almost 30 years later. Or the simple fact that the story requires some thought on the part of the viewer.

When I went to IMDB to get the link above, I saw that there is in fact a remake in the works with a tentative 2006 release date.

Here's the exceedingly brief synopsis of the 2006 version: "A young man at odds with his society's mandatory death sentence for all those turning 21 plots a daring escape on the eve of his fateful birthday." For those of you unfamiliar with the 1976 version of the movie, let me provide you with the view of someone who saw it scant hours ago: that's not what happened in the movie. That's what happens in the book. So, they're not so much remaking the movie as they're going to take a shot at actually adapting the original story.

I'm just not a fan of remakes. I hate having my childhood toyed with. Lucas destroyed Star Wars, Burton wrecked Planet of the Apes. Creature From The Black Lagoon is coming, and I'm nervous. Why do I even care? "They're just movies," you say. No they are not. They're a large slice of my childhood. When I was growing up, the nearest kid my own age was 3 miles away. The nearest kid I liked was 6 miles away. Add to that my wonderfully inadequate immune system that granted me all manner of pneumonia/bronchitis/black death every time I friggin' went outside (even in the summer!), and all that adds up to the fact that the TV and I were close. (Oh, and no cable TV either, ya whippersnappers.) Lying on the couch with a fever was all the more bearable because I got to see the Gill Man walk among us, or giant ants eat people.

Now that I've rambled so successfully and lived up to the title of this blog, I'll leave you with one thought which, if you know what I mean by it, you know exactly how I feel:

Han shot first.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I'd Like A Bajillion Dollars

Back in May I posted a little note on this site asking for a movie remake. (Second post.) It seems that it's being done. Yep. They're actually going to remake The Creature From The Black Lagoon. I'm not going to pass judgement just yet. I just really, really hope they don't screw it up.

Now all I need is my check from the movie moguls. Since they took my idea and all. And I'm positive I'm the only one in the whole world who ever had it.
< /sarcasm>

Oh yeah. Psst... Hollywood... How about a remake of Them? Big ol' irradiated ants attacking people! How cool is that? You can even make it hip and edgy by making the ants the product of genetic experiments by terrorists. Have at it, but don't forget my check!

On a completely unrelated note, today's picture comes courtesy of my parents. This pond is near their house, and I have never seen it in the daytime or without ice. Why? Because the pond was built well after I moved out, and my subsequent post-pond visits were only during the hectic winter holidays.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


There's a whole lotta truth on this shirt.

We went to the Tucson Celtic Festival yesterday. Many, many men in kilts, swords, and other regalia. To them I say: "Are you nuts? It's 85 degrees outside and you're wearing wool and long sleeves?" I did not partake in the kilting activities, though I was not wearing pants. We did get to see our surname proudly displayed over a tent, and there were several varieties of our tartan and crest and stuff for sale. And swords. Mmm... swords. I did not buy one, but it wasn't easy to turn away from a whole bunch of swords empty-handed.

The guy pictured above was one of the competitors in the caber toss. They also had a stone throw and hammer throw exhibition. Oh, and meat pies, haggis, stuff like that. Mmm... meat pies. Definitely my kind of stuff. You got your meat, some oatmeal, and wrap it in pastry. That's it. None of those lousy vegetables and nonsense. It's brown, toasty, and tasty. That's all you need.

We also got to hear an awe-inspiring rendition of "Amazing Grace" by a team of bagpipe players. (I don't know what a group of pipers is called. A troupe? A McGaggle?) Further backing my theory that there is simply no other way that song should be heard. Not sung, not a band. No other instrument than the bagpipe can give that song its due.

One last thing not exactly Scot-related. If you're over 6 feet tall and you feel it necessary to run to the front row of an event (such as a parade or other public venue) and stand there with your hands on your hips taking up/blocking as much as your body will allow, remember this: the stabbing pain you feel will be from me slicing a hole in your midsection so I can see. So either sit the fuck down or move to the back, you jolly green ass.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tattered Carousel

Pierced. Suspended. Straining. Screaming. Neglected. Childhood. Rusted. Rustic. Condemned. Holes. Sky. Tattered. Carousel.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Have A Proper Octember Terminus, Everyone!

If you're wondering what the hell I'm talking about, it seems that schools across the good ol' US of A are doing away with Halloween celebrations and festivities. They're being replaced with either nothing, or a more generic "Fall-o-ween". Why? Because a "full 30 percent" are objecting! So, of course, we must bow to the vocal minority. Since Halloween is the one holiday that isn't about a current religion, then it must be bad. (Which makes no sense. I mean, Halloween is currently about candy and dressing up. Easter is all about candy too! There's your Christian connection right there!) (Plus, Christ is one of the most well-documented zombies in all of literature, so there's your creepy factor! What else do you need? Let's put the cross in a cornfield, and Jesus could've been a scarecrow while he was hanging up to dry.) And candy is bad, since the sugar leads to hyperactivity in children. Since we can't discipline kids any more, then that's bad too. (Yeah, your kids are normally such angels as long as they're doped up on Ritalin or some other attitude-adjuster.) A full 30 percent of people aren't having their proper share of enjoyment on this single day! Something must be done about it! Or I'll sue!!!

I have a solution. I'd like to start a grassroots movement to bring back the true spirit of the day. The day when the veil between the world we inhabit and the world of the supernatural was at its thinnest. I'm talking about blood sacrifices. But only of the people who obtain their joy solely through denying it of others. They're probably the same people who hand out pennies on Halloween instead of chocolate. The same people who only have contests where everybody wins. (No point, then, is there?)

I've found a mascot for my cause. You just wait. We'll re-paganize all the holidays that were stolen. Why am I so sure? Here's my mascot:

We will not be stopped.

Happy Hallowe'en everyone!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween Colors By Rorschach

Feeling something of the spirit of All Hallow's, I saw this picture unfold to match the images in my mind as I made it. When I showed the picture to my wife, she described something completely different than what I saw. If you're so inclined, tell me what you see in this picture. I'll tell you what I see in the comments later on.

- Update -

Rather than try and describe it, I figured it'd be easier to just draw it. One hooded figure in the background with a skull for a face, holding a staff with a cow skull on it. Another (perhaps same) hooded skull-faced figure in the foreground reading a stone tablet wreathed in flames. I did enjoy the descriptions of what others saw, though. Received via comments and e-mail. Thanks for playing along!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Some Things Never Change

When I was young, I collected fossils. It was very easy to do, as the majority of the rocks around our house were brought up from the dynamite explosion needed to give our house a basement. Shale is great for holding fossils. I also collected rocks from our annual trips to the beach in Maine. I didn't really care about the water or the beach, but the rocks always caught my eye. (Especially the nifty mica-filled ones.) When I was older still, I brought back rocks from excursions to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. In short, I had several shoeboxes filled with rocks in my closet. And they stayed there for years, untouched and unappreciated, because I had moved out.

We went exploring again today, but this time much closer to home. We walked down to the golf course, and on the way back we bypassed the pavement and came through the desert. In my defense... my wife started it. She picked up an interesting piece of dried cane cholla cactus. (This isn't the piece, this is just a random graphic.) The stuff is very cool. Nature's wiffle. It was apparently used as a walking stick at one time because it's light, straight, and durable. (Hence the name "cane" cholla.)

We also found some Devil's Claw, a.k.a. Unicorn Plant. These are also very cool, because they do indeed look and feel like claws. The claw part is actually the seed pod, and its mode of distribution is to latch on to a passing large animal to be carried and deposited as it dries and the seeds fall out. (Take that, acorns!) These aren't soft, mushy plants here. Those are called claws for a reason. They're sharp, and they'll catch on your skin as easily as your clothes if you're not careful.

No, I did not get cut by one. I did, however, get a nice little cut on my thumb from a fishhook barrel cactus. How did it cut my thumb? Why, because I was dislodging one of its fruits, of course. They should call it a "meathook cactus" instead of a "fishhook". Fishhooks are small, and would be much more preferable to have tearing into your flesh. If you're into that kind of thing.

We also picked up a few rocks. Not many, and certainly not as many as I wanted to. But, as is usual for us, we were doing something for which we were not fully prepared. We had no bags with us other than our camera bags, but luckily yours truly had on his now-trademark cargo shorts with pockets aplenty. I did not, however, have my hat. (Yeah, yeah, I know.) Even though it's cooler, my shiny head can't be exposed to the Arizona sun for long. We carried our desert treasures back home. One of us will post pictures of the "before" and "after" shots of the stuff, as we plan on doing something artsy-craftsy with it all. We'll head out again sometime soon. And yes, I'll wear my hat.

Oh, in case you were wondering... we both had our eyes fully peeled and searching for rattlesnakes.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Colossal Cave

I'm being all lazy with this one. My better half is working diligently on a detailed post, so rather than parrot her I'm posting a pic. To it, I will add only this: you have no idea how many shots I took of this insect with its wings closed, only to have it open them immediately following the shutter click. I think my patience was worth it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Happy Birthday!

Today is my lovely wife's birthday. (Some of you know her as Stargazer.) So, this is where I get to say "Happy Birthday" to the most incredibly amazingly wonderful person in the world. She means more to me than I could possibly put into words, and we're going to celebrate that fact as well as her existence by eating lots and lots of cake. Probably ice cream, too. And cookies. Then, we'll go out for lunch.

If you're so inclined, you can leave her a birthday comment on her blog.

If you'll excuse me, we're off to listen to the coyotes sing "Happy Birthday" to her. Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


That would be "the fear of phobias." Go here if you don't believe me.

This post is for you, Hedley, my newest frequent visitor. I've been assured by half of my family that you're OK, but I'd just like to point out a few things so you understand why my first reaction to you was negative.

Your first comment ever on my site was: "Perhaps we should k*ll the first born son of every family!" Not a good way to make a first impression. Especially in a post about my father and brother. (Putting aside the fact that it was said by Taggart, not Hedley.)

Add to that that you wrote: "Violent?? Not really me, as far as a postal employee being laid off is not violent." Now, look at my archives prior to April 2005 and see where I worked. That's past tense. Then look at April 2005 and find out how I left. You're on your way to understanding why you weren't on the fast track to acceptance.

Then you asked: "What's another word for Thesaurus?" (I spelled it correctly. You did not.) I'd direct you to Steven Wright for that one, since he is the one who originally posed the question. See, one of the "fun" things with having an eidetic memory is that you can't remember things in an instant like those happy photographic memory-wielding people, but once a memory is triggered the whole thing plays back like a movie. Or in this case, a stand-up bit on television.

My point? It appeared to me as if you were trying to pass that off as your own in an attempt to sound intelligent. That's the kind of thing that makes me not like someone. (That and the comma-spliced, prepositional meanderings that make up your posts.)

So, no hard feelings. You just came out of the blue and did a whole slew of things that I plain old don't like. But now that we understand one another, I'm sure we'll get along just fine.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Casa Grande Ruins

We visited the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument the other day. Absolutely fascinating, and it was yet another moment in my life where I had more than a passing regret at not becoming an archaeologist. Present-day people generally anger me, but ancient people tend to fascinate me. This 35' tall structure, for example, was built around 1300 AD by people living in the middle of the friggin' desert. They didn't use bricks. It was part of a larger compound which was surrounded by seven-foot walls composed of the same material. The current theory is that the structure itself is a celestial calendar of some sort. This, in turn, was part of a larger community of walled-in compounds. One of the structures in center of the compounds was a ball court. Very. Friggin. Cool.

Oh, and that's my better half in the lower left corner of the picture. Just to give you a sense of scale. For those of you who don't know how tall she is, she is more than three apples high. For those of you who know that unit of measurement, enjoy the song.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

When Is A Stick Not A Stick?

A thoroughly enjoyable day today. We went to Trail Dust Town with our friends Kathy and Dan. It's an old west-themed place, with little shops and restaurants and whatnot. Since it's off-season, it was relatively deserted. (Always a plus.) Lots of actual covered wagons, old stuff... very cool. Can't beat the price, either. (Free.)

After that we went to the Agua Caliente Park again. I'll probably post some pics of that in the next day or so. But the really interesting thing that happened today happened when we returned home from that...

It was dark, and I was walking back from the mailbox with one arm full of mail and the other laden with cameras, water, the usual. A car was coming towards me, so I took a wider turn than I normally would have. As I was walking and looking at the mail, I noticed a stick in the parking lot. I noticed it just as I put my foot down next to it, didn't really think much of it, and kept walking. After all, it's just a stick.

Three steps later, my brain made me stop walking. Something wasn't right here. I turned and looked at the stick. Here's a picture of it so you can share in the experience with me...

If you find yourself saying "hey, that's no stick!", you are absolutely correct. I thought it was a rattlesnake, but remember that it was dark, and the momentary flash didn't really help me make any determination. I went inside and calmly told my wife that I thought there was a rattlesnake outside. There is another species of snake here that looks like a rattlesnake without the rattle. And subsequently without all that pesky deadly venom and fangs and death and stuff.

Armed with a flashlight, Dan and I go outside to investigate. He's lived here a while and has seen a couple rattlesnakes, and sure enough, that's what it is.

Now, remember I said I was walking by the "stick"? Remember I'm wearing shorts, because the "no pants!" rule is still in effect. Here, without exaggeration on my part, is where my sneakered foot thundered past the "stick"...

Now we get to the point of "What the hell do we do?" We're probably supposed to call someone to safely and humanely remove it or whatever. But here's the thing... I grew up in the wilds of upstate New York. We don't call people. We take care of things ourselves. If you think someone is going to come and save your ass, you're sadly mistaken. You'll be dead two or three times over by the time help arrives. So, what did I do to the snake?

I drove over it. Repeatedly.

Dan stood at a safe distance and trained the flashlight on it. I got the handy dandy SUV O' Doom and crushed the bugger flat. I'm sorry, that may be wrong. I didn't care at that point. I'm still a little freaked out by the whole experience. If I hadn't been paying attention at all, or been distracted by the car that was coming my way, I could've quite easily stepped on the "stick". And the "stick" would've sunk it's fangs into my unprotected, hairy leg. Maybe I'd live, maybe not. I know what bee stings do to me, so I'm pretty sure my body has a fairly low tolerance for venom in general.

I'm glad to be able to type this story myself. It doesn't make me want to move, either. It just makes me appreciate the mountain view even more. I'm living where I want to, doing what I want to, and I'm with a person I love very dearly. It doesn't get any better than this.

It's just that, for the next few days anyway, I'm going to scream like a little girl whenever I see a twig.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy b-day to the one member of the family who has less hair than I do! (By rights, my brother should have less hair because he's older, but he doesn't. So he sucks.) Hopefully things go better this year! See, here's how Dad's 365th day since his last birthday went:

He was laid off from his job. A job where he has more experience than anyone else, any three or four people, including the owners. The owners who, I might add, were only able to start their business in the first place thanks to the help and guidance of my father. Their current business is also benefitting from some of Dad's equipment that's on extended loan. (The stuff ain't cheap, either.) But here's the kicker... my brother, who works at the same place, was the one who was informed he had to lay my father off. On the day before Dad's birthday, his own son gets to kick him out of the business that wouldn't even be there if not for him because the owners didn't have the grapes to do it.

Color me pissed.

I know that Dad would probably rather not go in there anyway. But it's the principle of the thing. I'm contemplating taking out a full-page ad in the beacon of news that is The Daily Star (local newspaper there) and let its readership know what kind of company it really is. (Remember, it's only slander if it's false!)

Oh, and if any of you think that Dad's too old and should be retired anyway... feel free to arm wrestle him. He'll probably even offer to reattach the limb for you after he's done. If you don't want to be called "Lefty", then just keep up with him on an "average" day. This isn't misguided daddy-worship talking here, either. I couldn't keep up with him 20 years ago when he was my age, and I can't keep up with him now.

So... happy birthday! (And keep reading the paper. The younger son is the sinister one, after all.) (Latin. It's a hoot!)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

At Night I Hear You Screaming

The moon is in hiding behind over-protective clouds. I pace in the blackness that streams through the windows. I walk the route with familiarity; I've navigated the darkness a thousand times before. You woke me up. Again. I can't remember the last time I had a decent night's rest. Why won't you stop? Every night I think it's the neighbors, or a dog, or a car. Then I realize it's you. Every night. At least you're quiet in the daylight. I guess you're sleeping. How nice for you. All comfy-cozy, curled up and tucked away in the dark corners of my mind. But at night... at night I hear you screaming.

Soon I may start screaming with you.

It's ironic that I write an insomnia story six months after my last bout. Don't worry. This isn't autobiographical. Just something that was inspired by the picture. The picture was made by a nifty little application called Apophysis. If you're like me and you think it's cool when art and math collide, then check it out.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Now I Do Count The Clock That Tells The Time...

I love this picture. Not just because of the person in the foreground, but because it evokes such a positive mood. One that quite adequately represents how we both feel since leaving New York. Calm, relaxed, reflective. Even at peace, if you ignore our minor rants now and then. (Hey, you can take the New Yorker out of New York...) We miss our friends and family, but we do not miss working at a place we hated so we could afford to live there so we could keep working and feeling physically ill and sleepless the whole time to boot. What a bonus! The whole time we were working, we were denying ourselves the moments and experiences depicted in this picture. Living to work isn't living at all. I'd hesitate to even call it existing.

I woke up with a headache and nosebleed this morning. Chalk it up to the extra-dry weather. (Sorry friends and family in the soggy east coast!) But it just reminded me that this is how I felt every single day not so long ago, and I just accepted it. No, thank you. Never again. I'll sell both kidneys and whatever other organs it takes if that's what's required to keep us from being used and abused again. I will not be the one who solves the problems and writes the pretty words so the boss' boss' boss can get the credit ever, ever again. I will not help any organization that treats the people who do all the work with such obscene apathy and ignorance, and heaps rewards upon those who are stil trying to master the art of blinking and breathing concurrently.

It's been six months since I left that place. I feel so much better, because I finally feel alive. The fact that the person in the picture is with me certainly adds to the experience. To my friends who are still there, I fervently wish that you find a better place than that. Because you deserve to be happy, not miserable and chewed up.

If you'll excuse me, I want to go look at the stars with Stargazer...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Just Another Fish In The Clouds - Where Reflection and Opacity Collide

Strange things happening in my slice of the interweb. The other day, someone at the Albany Medical Center (in NY) did a search for "Wontar". This concerns me, because if a disease has been named after me and nobody's told me, I'm going to be extremely upset. And it better be one of them there flesh-eating viruses or something of that ilk, too. I want the phrase "I've been diagnosed with Wontar Virus" to be followed by gasps of horror, not snickering. Or Three Musketeering.

I've also had a visitor who was looking up vampire sightings. I guess it's the time of year for that sort of thing, so I apologize that you only found reference to vampire geese. If anyone is interested, I can provide a lengthy dissertation as to why I prefer werewolves over vampires, and why the former could eradicate the latter with ease. But then, I'm weird like that.

But the best part is that there are still a few people who search for my site... by typing in the entire web address. Yep. Different people will bring up their favorite search engine, type in my entire "www..." and hit "search". They're not looking for references to my site. They're looking for the site itself. The site whose address they just friggin' typed in to the search box and will spend the next few moments scrolling through a list of links to find the address they just typed in. I laugh at them primarily because even though I don't know who they are, I know where they work. Ah, the baby steps of dabbling in the black arts of technology! Better sprinkle a circle of salt around yourself first. The computer demons might come in and get you!

As for the fish, I just liked that shot. Just enough sky reflected, just enough of the fish came through... neat effect.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Agua Caliente!

Soy el Chupacabra! No, wait...

We went to the Roy P. Drachman - Agua Caliente Park on Sunday. If you ever visit Tucson, it's one of them there "must see" places to add to your list. Bring a camera or two, as you'll need it. (It wasn't easy to pick shots for this post.) It's also free, so if you pack a picnic you'd have yourself a fantastic day of photography, phood, and phun!

Ducks, turtles, blue heron, weird mutant bugs, fish... lots of nifty animals present. Not so many screaming humans, which was good. Any day where my human contact quotient is low is a good one in my book!

The plants were also quite cool. Especially the ones that looked as if they could eat you. Because, really, what better way is there to teach a healthy respect for nature than abject terror coupled with high-pitched girly screams as a tree rips you limb from limb? (Pun intended.)

It's also significantly cooler here. Autumn has hit the foothills, and it's great! It was in the mid-80s when these pictures were taken, but has since cooled off even more. It was 59 last night when we went to bed, and it's a surprisingly chilly 65 as I type this. When you stop to consider that 65 is 50 degrees cooler than it was in July, that's pretty freaky.

Also, here's one for my family as well as those of you in significantly cooler climes... Sunday night it was about 60 degrees. Someone had their fireplace going. They sell bundles of firewood at the grocery store for anywhere between 50 cents to one dollar per piece. Do the math on that one and get back to me, family! I've got a couple of acres of woods that could be turned into greenbacks ASAP! As long as the trees don't attack, that is.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Tohono Chul Park

I had never seen an orange dragonfly until we moved to Arizona. They've got orange ones and blue ones, and they're extremely cool.

This particular one was photographed at the Tohono Chul Park. My apologies for the blurriness. Had I known these things existed, there may have been a different totem animal in my life a decade ago. (Nah, monkeys are better.)

There were a plethora of butterflies there as well. Not a ton, but close. Some hummingbirds, bees, and this sort of black and orange wasp thing that was as big as my head. It's an interesting sensation to see something like that and know that it has the very real ability to kill me (allergic), yet still be fascinated by it.

The whole place was spectacular, despite it being autumn and most of the plants were "spent". (That either means they're tired, or they're currency. I didn't want to test either theory with a cactus.)

The last shot is a little snippet of a streambed. I just enjoyed the variety of colors, as the streams of my youth are pretty much grey and brown.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable day, worth far more than the five bucks it cost us to get in. The only negative part is that some flesh-headed idiot left his hat in the car, so now the giant shiny dome of skin on top of his head is hotter than normal. And throbbing in time with his pulse.

Tomorrow's post may be something about the number of hits my site receives because this post contains the words "hot" and "throbbing". Google does not discern.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I'm A Hack For Evolution

I would like to start a movement. Not anything profound like an art movement, but a movement for the sake of humans as a species. (I know, I know; that's exceptionally odd from someone who has no lost love for the species in question.) You can join the movement too, if you'd like. Let me tell you what it is first before you start sending donations... I want to do away with stupid warning labels. As a corollary of this, I want those who cannot figure out the proper usage of products to suffer the consequences without the right to filing a frivolous lawsuit. Granted, some warning labels offer up some fine entertainment. But the fact that some idiot actually had to spray Windex in his or her eyes in order for the "Do not spray in eyes" legend to appear on every bottle is alarming. Primarily because these people continue to breed. When a box of matches says "Caution: Contents may catch fire" and sleeping pills say: "Warning: May cause Drowsiness" something is very, very wrong and it needs to be fixed. Either that, or I'm the stupid one who is blissfully unaware enough to actually want my matches to burn and my sleeping pills to make me sleepy. Even more frightening is when a package of peanuts contains the dire message: "Warning: contains peanuts"! It damn well better! If I'm allergic to peanuts and I go to the store and buy a bunch of products with Mr. Goddamn Peanut on them, then I fully expect to take the express train to Deadsville. Should I sue somebody if I, replete in the knowledge of my bee sting allergy, shove a beehive in my pants and then go kayaking*? No! I deserve what I got.

Manufacturers would print less crap on their labels, saving on ink. They could either pocket the difference or pass the savings on to the consumer. The living, un-scarred ones, with no chemical burns and whatnot.

If you want to contribute to the movement... go write to a politician. Preferably one who can read.

*We all have to go some time. It may as well be funny.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

If You Put Words In My Mouth, I'll Make You Eat Them

This may be a long post. Just giving fair warning.

Deb and I signed up at when we first moved out here. They pay for you to read e-mails and give you cash back when you buy stuff through them. Deb had received two checks from them, and I was supposed to get one from them in a couple of days. I say "supposed to" because they have since cancelled our accounts. Why? According to the oh-so-helpful Sandy, their terms of agreement say that you cannot have two people at the same mailing address in the program. I don't know why this is a rule, and yes we should have printed out the whole of the terms and read it. But here's the thing... the accounts were cancelled scant hours before I was due a check. In the five months prior to this, they've had our names and addresses, and never once was it questioned. Not while the money was going in their direction, anyway. Here's my response to Sandy:

So for six months we were allowed to buy things through you, each of us spending money freely, but when it came time to request a payment our accounts are cancelled. Coincidentally, cancelled only hours before I was due a payment from you. How terribly convenient for you.

I do not require a response. Quite frankly, I'm weary of dealing with your organization. This may just be for the best.

Sandy replied thus:

I do suggest you read the Terms of Membership for anything you sign up for in the future. They are listed for a reason.

To her credit, I laughed. Not the kind of laugh you want to hear coming from me, but it was a laugh. You want to get sarcastic with an anti-social ex-New Yorker who generally hates people who breathe? Not a good idea, Sandy.

Thanks so much for the advice. Thanks also for responding, even though I said you didn't have to. Actually, I expected you to do the exact opposite of what I asked, because it's what I've come to expect from your organization.

I would've suggested something called a "database" which cross-checks your user information and prevents such things from occuring in the future. However, I know you won't implement such a thing, as it would be counter-productive to your organization's goals. Mainly because it would help people, and also it would prevent you from bilking more people. Since profit is far, far more important than customer service, I know where your priorities lie.

Once again, you do not need to respond. That being said, I look forward to your response.

Apparently I made Sandy cry, because the response to that was from Mike the Manager.

Thank you for your technical advice. Rest assured, that our highly trained and incredibly experienced IT staff has thoroughly considered how we deal with duplicate accounts. You aren't considering such things as legitimate duplicate names (with over a million members, people DO share the same name). Furthermore, displaying an error message during signup such as "someone is already using that name" would only encourage people who ARE trying to take advantage of our system to hide themselves better, such as adding a fake middle initial, etc.

Now, if you're still reading this, thank you very much. But I'd like you to look at what I said before Mike gave me this information. You'll notice that nowhere in there did I say the word "name". I did say "database", which apparently to him is the same as "name". Maybe they wear database tags at all their office, or he's been to the desert on a horse with no database. Whatever. My response to the noun-challenged Mike:

Thanks for your response. I'm sure your IT staff is capable, and I'm well aware that people share the same name. You'll note that I did not make the name correlation in my messages. In the snippet of your user agreement Sandy provided, the second point was "mailing address", not name. Run a cross check first by zip, then by address. Not name. But I'm not going to go into "geek mode" here.

I've not heard from either of them again. It fills me with a great sadness. Mainly because I think the two of them are the only ones involved in the business, and I just called one or both of them an idiot because they engage in linear thinking. Logic is good, but assuming is bad. Like the old saying goes... when you assume you make an ass out of you, but leave me out of it.

There is a point after all of this: stay away from inboxdollars. And I don't mean just because of this incident. We were going to cancel anyway, after we received our checks. The best one by far is

Times like this, I wish my high school had a debate team. Just so I could see people cry. Yes, I'm a cruel, sadistic, sarcastic prick. But my wife loves me, so I win. So there.

Semptember Is Gone, And With It My Youth

Whilst driving around along the more deserted desert roads in Tucson this evening, a funny thing happened. I was doing five miles over the 40 MPH speed limit on a very dark and twisty road. I was watching for animals as I was anticipating sudden turns on this road I'd never navigated. (We saw a wee coyote, but that's not really part of this story.) A car came up behind us, tailgated us for a while, and passed as soon as the lines on the road were dotted in his favor. He soon zoomed out of sight. (When he passed, he came dangerously close to the coyote. So I guess it's part of the story after all.) What words do I hear come out of my mouth when all this happened?

"What the hell are you driving so fast for?"

I may just as well have added: "Ya damn kids! With your hula hoops and your loud rock 'n' roll music! Get the hell off my lawn before I take a switch to ya!"

Don't get me wrong. I've certainly done my share of reckless driving. I just didn't realize that I had gone so quickly from my reckless driving days to the days of sitting on the front porch and muttering obscenities interspersed with Cab Calloway lyrics at the neighbors because my Geritol hasn't yet kicked in.

On the plus side though, I guess I'm that much closer to driving my HoverRound recklessly. That's something.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Land of the Lost, Now Available On DVD

We went to the heart of Tucson today, in and amongst its towering skyscrapers. (That would be the four or five buildings that are greater than five stories.) One of the more colorful office buildings can be found on my better half's blog. The building in the picture above... well... I have no idea what it is. Other than being extremely cool. Absolutely fantastic prehistoric mural wrapped around the entire building. There were a lot of murals on buildings in the area, and some of the buildings are just plain colorful. Nothing quite like seeing an adobe building painted royal blue!

We also went to an art museum today on the Arizona University campus. Why? Because it was free. Good thing, too. See... I'm an art major. I enjoy making pictures of things that look like things. I will never understand cubism, and I will never understand the Rothkos and Jackson Pollacks of the world. Yeah, I know. I'm just jealous that I didn't think to call a dropcloth "art" first. This is not to say that the museum had such pieces. They had a faculty showing, and some of the faculty work was seemingly inspired by those giants of the art world. I should apply for a grant for this kind of thing. You too can drizzle paint onto canvas, or spritz it through a plastic spray gun, or sneeze it out on tile and be called "deep". (Instead of "someone who wastes paint".)

There was an extensive collection of religious art dating back to the 1500s. That was impressive. About a dozen very large paintings on wood, depicting Christ's life. I couldn't help but notice how much Christ's life is mirrored by reality game shows. I mean, think about it. His first test was to turn water into wine. Then he got to make the blind see. Then heal the lepers. Survive his temptations. Survive the Four Tops. (OK, I made that one up.) Convince people he's made out of bread and wine. Drag a big piece of wood in the hot sun, put on a spiky hat, and catch a spear without using his hands. What's he win?

Depends on how you define "win". I think he would've been happier with the home game.

After the museum, we saw an interesting human. He weighed roughly as much as my right arm, was about a foot taller than me, had some of his hair dyed red, was wearing canvas Keds laceless sneaker-things with a nifty blue checkered pattern, and he had a purse. Not a backpack, not a rucksack, a purse. Ah, art college. I didn't miss you.

Don't get me wrong. He can have the purse. He could wear his favorite ballerina costume and a tiara or a clown costume and bagpipes for all I care. If it makes him happy, go right ahead. The purse in question, however, did not match the shoes. That's a no-no.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Twinkle, Twinkle

The picture is my attempt at an altered sunset pic. Sunsets have altered me, so I thought it was only fair. You may have noticed I've developed a predilection for sunsets of late. It's largely due to the fact of the spectacular skies here in Arizona, but there's something more to it. Growing up in the wilds of upstate NY I saw my fair share of pretty cool sunsets. Not to mention some fantastic star-filled nights. When I moved to Long Island and worked nights, sunsets and stars became memories. (The latter because of the perpetual glowing orange haze in the night sky.) I wonder if not being able to see the stars at night has a negative psychological impact on people? I mean... looking up at a starry night sky can not only fill you with a sense of beauty and wonder, but it can also help you put things into perspective. (No bearing on the previous post.) Each star is unfathomably large, even more unfathomably distant, and may in fact have died out thousands of years ago but you're just seeing it right now. And on that distant glimmer in the depths of space there may have been or may yet be someone else looking up at the sky who in one far-flung year will see the tiny point of light that's our Sol... It can really center you and your place in the universe. However, if you couldn't see that every night, and be reminded of the vastness of the universe and the improbability of our own existence to even contemplate such a thing, what would happen?

What happens to you when you can't see the stars?

Friday, September 23, 2005


per-spec-tive (n)

1.a. A view or vista

b. A mental view or outlook: “It is useful occasionally to look at the past to gain a perspective on the present” (Fabian Linden).

2. The appearance of objects in depth as perceived by normal binocular vision.

3.a. The relationship of aspects of a subject to each other and to a whole: a perspective of history; a need to view the problem in the proper perspective.

b. Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view: the perspective of the displaced homemaker.

c. The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance: tried to keep my perspective throughout the crisis.

4. The technique of representing three-dimensional objects and depth relationships on a two-dimensional surface.