Saturday, December 30, 2006

Merry New Year

Yep, still breathing. Just not terribly inspired. So, with this 300th post, I wish you all a Merry New Year. Keep the resolutions to a minimum, as they only serve to depress you further. If you feel you must make a resolution or two, keep them easily achievable. Something like: "This year, I promise not to alter the gravitational constant of the universe." As long as your name isn't a single letter in the latter part of the alphabet, that should be relatively simple.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tapestry

Not the 14th century bad-perspective kind, but the "of Life" kind. The holistic interconnectedness of all things. Whether you realize it or not, whether you like it or not, you're a part of that tapestry. Nothing, not even death, will change that. Even if you think you are your own grandiose picture, you are only a thread. But without that thread, the whole picture changes.

That's all my profundity for today. I'm off to take a nap.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Daily Allotment of Fiber Optics

Thanks to Dzeni for inspiring me to figure out what in the heck a "wire and tubes" fractal was!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sing It With Me... The Horn On The Bus Goes

My better half and I left the apartment today to visit the post office. I was driving. After roughly 400 feet we came to an intersection wherein my lane is the "through" lane, and the road to my left has a stop sign. In other words, they have to wait until there ain't no damn cars coming before they can go on their merry friggin' way. Stopped at the intersection is a school bus. (Here's where I get my father's attention, so I'll go into more detail.) Not the little dinky short bus, but a big honkin' flat-faced bus. Not surprising, as the school would be a short distance up the hill after making a left turn from its current stopped position. As I approached the bus, the driver (who I will from this point forward refer to as "she") started to pull out. Remember: I had no stop sign, no flashing lights, no nothing. She's the one who was supposed to be waiting at the friggin' stop sign for traffic to be clear in both directions before initiating such a maneuver. She starts pulling out, then finally decides to look in my direction. She saw our vehicle. So what does she do?

She &%$*ing honks her &%$*ing horn at me! At me!!! The one who is actually abiding by the traffic laws and not endangering a busload of children. (Go figure. I've really changed since moving to Arizona.)

No, I did not stop. I did not let her in. Absolutely not. It's not my fault she was late, or whatever the hell her problem was that she decided to break the law for her convenience and forsake the safety of her charges. That's absolutely inexcusable behavior for a bus driver. (Right, Dad?) There was no collision or anything. No sounds of crashes, no injuries or accidents of which we're aware, no mayhem to report. Just a driver whose only thought was of herself, rather than the people on the road. Not to mention the people she's supposed to protect.

I did unleash a string of expletives that continued until we reached our destination, though. So I guess I haven't changed too much...

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You're Only As Old As...

My niece turned 16. Sixteen. She's old enough to drive. Nearly done with high school. She was the first, and only, child I've ever had to "baby-sit". Not that it was a big deal, as we watched TV. *Whew* Now, she's driving around maniacally... in my old car, no less!... and will soon be able to vote.

Yes, yes it does make me feel old. Thank you very much. However, I am comforted by the fact that my brother not only feels older, but is older. So ha ha!

Happy birthday, Beck! Should you actually have occasion to venture online, here's something just for you:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Scent of a Witness

I received a letter in the mail today. That in and of itself is odd, since I've gone to great lengths over the years to exist as much as possible in the electronic world. The envelope was hand-written, and the return address was a complete unknown. The contents of the envelope made me laugh, though I'm sure that wasn't the intent of the sender. The envelope contained a typed letter, and some literature from the Jehova's Witnesses. That just goes to show you how hot it gets in Arizona... they don't even peddle religion door-to-door. I guess a few books of stamps is a heck of a lot cheaper than having to deal with heatstroke.

On a completely unrelated note, I have a rant. I haven't ranted in a while, so I may be rusty. Bear with me...

My better half and I were out shopping the other day when we walked past a mom and her two kids. They went their way, we went ours. Normally, that's the limit of human interaction I have these days. And I like it that way. Unfortunately, the mother's perfume was trailing ever so slightly behind and decided that the best way to keep up with her was by going into my nostrils, transmogrify into a white-hot spear, go through my eye and out the back of my head in an explosion of pain and chemical flora-mockery. I hate perfumes. Not just "parfum", but scents that people slather on in the false belief that it makes them smell "better". There's this great stuff that can easily and cheaply take the place of all the perfumes, aftershaves, colognes, and powders out there. It's called friggin' water. Some people call it water, but you'd call it "friggin' water" too if you couldn't open your eye because some petrochemical skunk queen just wandered by. I mean, why even bother to bathe at all if you're just going to dowse yourself in crap? Just layer on the crap and save some time in your day. Plus, you'll be more susceptible to disease and die quicker. You'll still stink, but in a more natural way. If you're unsure as to whether or not you're using too much fake scent, here's a helpful hint: if you've never been bitten by a mosquito or other insect because they die upon entering your personal airspace, you're wearing too much. If you hear a lot of coughing, retching, or cries of "what the hell is that smell?" downwind of you, you're wearing too much. If people seem moved to tears by everything you say or do, or tend to turn blue because they're not breathing, you're wearing too much.

Feel free to come up with your own, but I think you get the idea.

Friday, November 17, 2006

High Speed Wild Kingdom

Where's Marlin Perkins when you need him? Oh yeah... still dead. We had an interesting bout with nature yesterday. (And no, this one had nothing to do with rattlesnakes.) We've had a hummingbird as a regular visitor since we set up a hummingbird feeder. My better half named him "Boris" because, well, just because. Yesterday, however, another male came to the feeder. Boris was not pleased. Turns out that hummingbirds are very territorial. We got to see that little tidbit of nature play out as the two of them not only cursed at one another in their tiny, squeaky hummingbird voices, but they also engaged in some high-speed aerial acrobatics as they fought. I mean fought. Boris knocked the newcomer into the wall a couple times, and zipped past him to knock him away from the feeder. It all came to a blockbuster movie climax when we heard a strange buzzing sound. One had the other pinned on his back, tiny talons locked in mortal combat. The buzzing was from their wings hitting the concrete patio at a bajillion beats per minute. Deb opened the door to startle them to get them to stop, while I started humming the fight song from "West Side Story". (Incidentally, that's a good song to start humming to get you out of a jam. Whether you're a dueling 3 gram bird or not.)

I only heard one hummingbird out there today, but never got a good look at him. We don't know if Boris prevailed, or if another has usurped his place at the feeder. If that's the case, feel free to suggest a new name. As long as it's not "Boris Jr."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Inferno

This makes for one nifty desktop, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In-Flight Drooling

We're back in scenic Tucson after a lovely visit to New York. The wedding went off with a hitch (get it?), it only snowed one day at my parents' house, and we got to remember what it was like to wear winter coats. It was great seeing all the work friends, and I have to apologize to them for laughing so much. We were regaled with work stories, and nothing has changed. If anything, it's gotten worse. I may be a bastard for laughing, but I'm a bastard who is thinner and hasn't had a headache in months.

Since our flight left at 6 AM, that meant we had to leave my parents' house at 3:30 in order to get to the airport on time. In other words: we did not sleep. No point in it. Once we were on our first flight, though, we were both unconscious. Unfortunately, it was only for a few minutes at a time. For some reason we were seated in exit rows for three out of four legs of our entire trip. Most people would be happy with this, as they'd appreciate the extra leg room. My wife and I are Shetland people, though, so we have leg room in regular airplane seats. (We could probably fit in the overhead compartment, but haven't tried that yet.) So, we were stretched out, would doze off, wake up with mouth agape and horrified that we were snoring and/or drooling, eat some peanuts, and doze off again. We did that for both parts of our return trip, so the whole day is rather blurry and peanut-scented.

We pretty much passed out after we got back home. Not that we were devastated by the trip. Sleeping at the hotel was awful, but sleeping at my parents' house was great. Two insomniacs who need a TV on in order to sleep in a place where the only sound you can hear at night is your own breathing? On paper, that's a recipe for disaster. In reality, we slept like proverbial logs. (Stupid lazy logs.) My parents should rent out my old room to people with sleeping disorders. (Other than us, that is.)

So, 30 degrees warmer, here we are. Back in the mountainous desert. Or deserted mountains. Or something having to do with cacti and heat.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Jet Lag

We're in New York for a wedding. Actually, we've been in the state for a few days, but the first few have been in the wilderlands of my birth. Internet access is rather slow. I can sum it up thusly: dial-up, "good connection" = 21.6k. I know I sound all haughty, but I'm addicted to my cable modem. I don't think I could handle dial-up again. Not for any great length of time, anyway.

We're currently in a hotel on Long Island, on what I believe to be a DSL connection. I plug it in, it works, it's fast, I'm happy. It's interesting to be in New York again, and especially on LI. The place really has an effect on me, due in a large part to the drivers. Bunch of arrogant, selfish bastards. (And this is coming from me!) I used to be patient, utilize a space cushion, all that stuff. It all went away the day I became a Long Island driver. I was just out of college, recently moved to and employed on LI. I lasted a week at my first job, all because of the drive. I had the audacity to use my turn signal to try and get off of the Long Island Expressway one day. I couldn't get over, because nobody would let me in. Not an inch. Not enough room to let my friggin' tiny little Horizon in. So I did something amazingly stupid, thanks to my amazing temper. I turned anyway, cursing and yelling the whole time. I made it, and I'm sure there was at least one horn to trumpet my success. Not to mention other curses. My heart was pounding, and I was furious. My driving patience left that day. It made driving on Long Island much easier, but it's made driving in Arizona a *whole* different experience.

Now I'm the crazy one.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Happy Birthday!

It's my lovely wife's birthday. Here's where I get to say "Happy Birthday" to the best person, ever. No contest, everybody else pack up and go home. I could riddle this description with a ton of sayings that sound cliché regarding how I feel, yet that changes not one iota of the truth of the words. She is, quite literally, the best thing to ever happen in my life. So there. (If you want to wish her a happy, go here.)

And no, that's not her birthday cake. Even though it should be.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Voting, Pants Optional

My better half and I received our mail-in ballots a couple days ago, and I spent a large amount of time today doing the whole voting thing. I'm more than a little ashamed to say that this was the most informed I've ever been in casting my vote, mainly because I had the power of the internet at my disposal. Having the ability to research every proposal and candidate on the ballot was fan-friggin-tastic. I could look at who said what or felt in what way regarding a certain issue and vote accordingly, rather than trusting my memory for political rhetoric in a room full of people. When I'm in a room filled with people, my primary thought is how quickly I'm going to be out of that room and/or how to get out of the room even faster even if (or especially if) casualties are involved. Mandating a mail-in vote rather than a drive-up/walk-in vote is actually on the Arizona ballot, and it most assuredly received my vote. I'm foolish enough to believe that more people (not all, but more) would take the time to make an informed voting decision if they could vote at their convenience by mail.

Of course, the bad part of all this information is realizing that many candidates have lousy websites. Or worse, no website. Call me shallow, but if you can't put a decent website together to present your stance on the issues then that just tells me that you don't give a damn about the job. No vote for you, technophobe.

The best use of a website to sway my opinion went to one of the people running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. I don't react well to typos or grammatical errors at the best of times, but if you're trying to convince me that you should be in charge of education you damn well better check the text on your website! Lead by example, maybe?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ruins, Erosion, and Pants (not necessarily in that order)

We spent the weekend visiting our friends south of us. We went for a hike to the ghost town of Charleston. It's not a ghost town like you'd see in them there talky motion pictures. It's just a few adobe walls that have survived the 127 years of Arizona weather since they were constructed. One of the problematic parts of the hike was having to cross a rather wide stream. If this seems odd to you, keep in mind that we're in Arizona. A puddle is enough to make us stop and stare, so an actual body of flowing water is like unto an alien life form for other people. It's been a damp summer, so there was evidence of flooding. A lot of flooding.

The water was about 20 feet wide for the most part, and anywhere from a few inches deep to a couple of feet. However, there was evidence of floodwaters rising about 20-30 feet on both sides of the existing water level. Oh, and quite a bit higher. About ten feet, probably more, judging by the debris wrapped around trees and well out of my reach. Pretty neat stuff.

Oh yeah. While hiking, I was wearing shorts. It's all I had. That marked one of the very few times in my life I've uttered: "I wish I was wearing pants!" and actually meant it. Those were not the pants to which I alluded in the title of the post. If you've ever had your weight fluctuate, you have at least one pair of pants that you plan on wearing "some day". Since the weather has cooled off here, we got the jeans out of the closet and I actually tried on my "some day" jeans. Jeans that were ridiculously, circulation-inhibitingly, breathtakingly tight (for all the wrong reasons) in New York yet have come across country all the same in the vain hope that "some day" I'd fit in them again. I put them on.

They fit.

I've lost 30lbs since we moved, but I know I still need to lose more. Knowing that, I've never really felt like I've accomplished much in the weight loss department. Until today, when I wore my "some day" pants. All damn day.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Inversion Immersion


My better half was doing her creative thing with one of her photographs. She started by turning it into a black and white image, and it was at that point that I had to try my hand at manipulating the same B&W image. My first "final" attempt came out as this blue thingy, and I liked it. However, no image should ever truly be "done" in my world, so I kept playing and came up with this:


Since I couldn't decide which I liked better, you get to see both of them. You lucky, lucky blog-reading people!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

What Happens In Vegas...


... doesn't make one bit of difference out here. Yes, you can see a little bit of Las Vegas in this picture. It's in the center, below the moon and above the small hill. This picture was taken in the Red Rock Canyon area, just outside the city. When you're in Vegas, it's easy to forget that you're in one of the more spectacular parts of the country as far as natural landscapes are concerned. If a trip to Las Vegas is in your future, remember that casinos aren't everything. Also remember that "the strip" is for tourists, and is designed to deprive them of their money as quickly as possible. We did much better at Sam's Town.

In answer to the inevitable questions: Yes, we've been in Vegas for the past few days. No, we didn't win big. (Had we done so, the title of this post would be something like "Woohoo!" followed by a bunch of expletives.) We have learned that Google's directions are great, but their time estimates are off. Probably because they don't take into consideration the 75 MPH speed limit. So, Vegas is really only about a seven hour drive away. Or less, depending on how badly you want to gamble. It's a beautiful drive, though, so there's really no need to rush. We have learned that the Stratosphere charges for internet access. $9.95 a day. Yes, a day. That's why we've been out of contact for a while. We learned that having a car to drive around while in Vegas is pretty darn convenient.

Oh! I had a brush with mediocrity at the airport while waiting for our friends from New York to arrive. As we were waiting, Jenna Elfman walked hurriedly past me towards the exit. I told Deb, she said "Who?", and that pretty much sums it up. I'm actually ashamed I know who she is, as I didn't realize I had absorbed that much irrelevant pop culture.

Now we're back, we're tired, and we're gambled out. If you'd care to contribute to our next gambling excursion, I'll set up a fund or something.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Circuits Are Fusing...

... the surveillance system, everything is overloaded! And I think Ted is dead.

If you can name that movie and you're not related to me, you get 100 Internet Points to spend wherever you wish.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Drawn Out Yammering

I did something the other evening that I've not been able to do for quite a few years. If we still lived in New York, I would not have been able to do it at all. Or at the very least would not have been able to do it without much pain. What was this mysterious activity?

I sat down with a sketchbook in my lap and a pencil in my hand, and drew. My hand! It didn't hurt to hold a normal pencil! And use it!

I used to draw for hours on end. I have sketchbooks filled with stuff. I used to draw on my breaks when I worked at the place which shall not be named. I was 23 when I got a ridiculous cramp in my drawing hand. I was at work, and instead of going home I stayed and typed one-handed for the rest of the night. (Idiot that I am.) From that point on, every once in a while I'd go run my hands under hot water to make them feel better. I got to a point where holding a pencil just hurt too damn much. Luckily, I could make artwork with a computer. Not nearly the same, but it helped keep the artsy creativity going. I never felt like I could get the computer images just right, though. That's not to say that the ones I drew were "just right" either. I just felt more control over the whole process from brain to paper, rather than from brain to computer screen.

The fact remains that my joints don't ache here. Whether that's because of the elevation, the lack of humidity, the lack of stress, the lack of 30 excess pounds of blubber, or a combination of the aforementioned, I really don't care. I can sit down and friggin' draw again! Woohoo!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

egamI rorriM


Sometimes that face in the mirror isn't a reflection of you at all.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Spheres and Rings and Other Round Things


Sometimes the titles are good, sometimes they're not.

Monday, September 11, 2006

2,996 - Jonathan Eric Briley


Jonathan Eric Briley was working at Windows on the World (North Tower of the World Trade Center) as an audio media specialist during the terrorist attacks.

He is survived by his wife, Hillary; his parents, Marie and the Rev. Alexander Briley; two brothers, Alexander and Timothy; and two sisters, Gwendolyn and Joanne. He used to tell his sister Gwendolyn "there was nothing like" the sunrise he could see each work day from the 110th floor.

Religion played an important role in his life. As a teen-ager, he was a member of Shiloh Baptist Church in New Rochelle. He served in the Christian education ministry and the music ministry. At the time of his death, he worshipped at First Baptist Church of Elmsford, where his father is the pastor

He is believed to be “The Falling Man”.


Richard Drew - AP


That image may offend you. Here, in a post that is meant to celebrate a man’s life, I put an image of him moments before his death. If you believe that his death was a suicide and because of that he is damned, go away. Now. Those who jumped that day exhibited courage, not cowardice. This image not only captures the final moments of a man’s life and conveys a powerful message. Not a message of despair and hopelessness. Not even one of faith, though it’s possible that Jonathan’s faith played no small part in his decision. Did he hope for a miracle? Did he leap into the arms of God? I don’t know. I do know that, for whatever reason, he chose not to wait for his fate to come to him. He took matters into his own hands, and he chose to act.

If that isn’t a profound celebration of life, I don’t know what is.

Life will throw all manner of things in our direction, both good and bad. We can either accept it or grab on with both hands and do something with it. It may not go the way you want, but at least you made the effort and demonstrated strength of will, character, and courage.

Jonathan Eric Briley proved to us all that he had those strengths on the morning of September 11, 2001 when he stepped off into the sunrise.

http://www.jonathanbriley.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Falling_Man

http://www.esquire.com/features/articles/2003/030903_mfe_falling_1.html

http://www.dcroe.com/2996/

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sirenflower

If you are out in the woods late at night and you have your senses about you, you may just wish you didn't. Should you catch but the faintest scent of the Unt'kini (some call it "Sirenflower") you will be lost. Not lost as in "I can't find my way home", but lost as in "never seen again and mourned by friends and family". It calls you. Gets inside your head and pulls you towards it. You'll crawl naked through the thickest thickets without slowing down to get to the source of that terribly captivating fragrance. You'd rather die than not have that perfume fill every breath as if it were your last. But that's the thing... you're so captivated by the smell that you don't think of anything else. You don't eat, drink, or sleep. You just breathe and sigh contentedly as you wither and die. Your body becomes food for the damned flower. Your corpse just lies there grinning like a slack-jawed idiot as it rots and gets digested. Soon, but not soon enough, your body is gone. But that's not the worst part. The plant doesn't just get into your head and eat your flesh. Oh no! Your spirit is trapped as well. The call is so strong that it holds you for eternity, tormented by the memory of the scent with no means to recapture it! The spirits that dwell near the flower howl and wail. Not as a warning, but in despair. Their cries of anguish would scare normal folks away, but anyone close enough to hear their cries is already caught in the spell of that damnable plant. I've cried enough because of it over the years. Or is it decades now? Centuries? I don't even know why I'm telling you this. I've seen that expression countless times before. You can't hear me. You're trapped, and there's no hope. For either of us.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Wet Paint

Another in the series of: "This started out as something else, but..."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Invaders

Creepy, glowing alien space-bugs? Check. Alien space-bug larvae buried underground waiting to hatch and cause all manner of havoc? Check. Throw in some teenagers, some comedy relief, a couple of flamethrowers, and David Keith, and you've got yourself a Sci-Fi Channel movie!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Care To Repeat That?

I shy away from things political here. Mainly because nobody should give a rat's ass what I think, and why scare away the 4 1/2 of you who actually read this crap that spews from my keyboard? But I'm changing that, just for today, to ask a simple question:

Could someone tell me why in the hell this news story isn't being looped ad infinitum like the friggin' JonBenet thing is?!? I don't know about you, but to me it's pretty big news that the President of the US admits at a press conference that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. (The 4 1/2 of you who read this blog knew that already, but not everyone did.) It was kinda the whole point for going over there and killing everyone, right? Ride that wave of patriotism and all? Or am I missing something? Please, tell me I'm missing something.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Lava Gatherers

Can you guess who was reading H.P. Lovecraft today?

Monday, August 21, 2006

typoGenerator

typoGenerator On the surface, it sounds like something that would be my arch-nemesis. It does not create typos, though. It creates word art. Sometimes funky, sometimes painful to the ol' retinas, but it's a pretty interesting thing to try out. You don't have as much control over it as I'd like, but that's actually a good thing as it generates things within parameters I wouldn't choose.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Geek Is The Word, or Reason 748,927,852 Why My Wife Is The Coolest Person Ever

We have an extra computer, thanks to Deb's recent upgrade. In the past, our computer hand-me-downs have gone to various members of my family. The 2,000+ mile gap now makes that just a tad bit impractical. So, I finally got to implement one of my wacky ideas. (No, not that one. That's illegal!) I have the computer set up in the bedroom, hooked up to the TV, and the hard drive will have as many movies on there as I can manage. In other words: our very own on-demand movie thingy! It's got the first two seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it so far, with more seasons and selections to follow. Oh, and I hooked up a set of computer speakers, too. Complete with subwoofer. Because I can. Energy settings are set to power down after slightly longer than a movie's worth of time has elapsed. It's all controlled with a wireless mouse, too. (Sorry, I just drooled on my pocket protector.)

My wife not only allows me such geeky outbursts, but actually appreciates them! How cool is that?

Friday, August 11, 2006

One Month

A little clarification for the observant... A few months ago I signed up to write a little bit about one of the people whose life was ended on September 11, 2001. If you have a blog and are interested, go to 2,996 and sign up. The goal is to have one writer per victim, and as it stands now that goal may not be reached.

That makes me angry, as do many things, but it also makes me sick. It's only been five years, and many people think that we were attacked by Iraq, which is why we're at "war" with them. If they even think at all. But this week two things of varying significance happened: the crown of the Statue of Liberty was closed indefinitely, and even more restrictions have been placed on airline passengers because of a foiled terrorist plot. The UK has it worse than we do, and I sincerely wonder what would happen if the airlines forbade Americans their cell phones and laptops. For that matter, I wonder if they'd do anything at all. Sure, they'd whine, but that doesn't count. Some wouldn't even make the connection. Case in point: I overheard a snippet of one of the fine college students/leaders of tomorrow in a diner today. Her parents were lamenting the fact that they may have to change their flight plans. The girl wondered why. Of course, this is the same girl who, later in the conversation while describing her dream house, wants to have a mirror that has "You are beautiful" etched on the glass. So yeah, there are plenty of issues there. She'll be a fine catch for someone, some day!

So, one month from today, you'll see a post that might not make sense. Or less sense than some of my other posts. I'll write about someone I never knew, never heard of, who went to work one day and never came home.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Wet Desert

No, not when someone leaves his or her cake out in the rain. I mean what three or four days of rain means in the southwest. It turns something that looks normally like this:

Into something that looks like this:

To provide even more perspective, the bottom photo was taken after the water level had dropped about four feet, perhaps more. One of the photos Deb took shows a woman standing at the opposite bank. You can see the striations of the water level behind her, the highest being over her head. I'm assuming she's at least five feet tall, so there's your observational science in a nutshell. The news had photos of people kayaking and rafting in this gigantic mudpuddle with rapids. Why people in the desert even have water craft is beyond me.

More rain expected over the next two days at least. We've already had double last year's rainfall amount in the past week. Roads are closed, some roads are gone. For those who may remember our trip up Mt. Lemmon, the entire road is closed from top to bottom. I can say with certainty that I'm glad we weren't on Mt. Lemmon when the road started to flood. It's exhilirating when it's dry, but I'd rather not be stranded up there. I definitely would not be going "whee!" as several feet of water sent me hurtling 9,000 feet down. No matter how nice the view may be on the way.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Don't Call Me Luka

Our apartment is on the second floor. This is significant, because we're in day two of flash flood warnings. Yes, I said flood warnings. In the desert. Happens every summer, and it's amazing to see. Riverbeds that are bone dry for 355 days a year are suddenly home to huge, flowing, and overflowing raging rivers. When water goes to the lowest point, and does so in a hurry, there's very little that can stop it. Really, really cool. Once in a while we hear news reports of someone who had the bright idea to park their RV down in the riverbed. Why they do this is beyond me. Perhaps they like to go RV surfing when the rains come, because that's what happens. Doesn't matter that an RV doesn't necessarily float. The water will still move it. Well, move it and tear it to bits. It rained for several hours last night and into the morning, and the weather today was gorgeous. We had the windows open, nice cool breeze, mid-70s. In fact, Tucson was the second-coolest city in the US! Not bad for a place that was 115 last week. More of that coolness on tap for the next few days. Rain at night, cool all day. Of course, the downstairs neighbors will need gills and I'm going to have to put pontoons on the car and tie it to a tree, but it's an exchange I'm willing to make for temperatures under 110 as we head into August.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

P.O.ed at the P.O.

My site got a visit from the U.S. Post Office today. Someone there was surfing websites, and hit mine. Granted, it was only for ten seconds, but it's the principle of the thing. Doesn't anybody work at work anymore? Ever?? I read news boards, and people are reading and posting to them while at work. Hits on my website come from within grade schools, businesses, and of course governmental agencies. Why in the hell aren't any of them working? I guess I really was wrong in my work outlook. I worked at work. I worked through breaks. I worked through lunches. I worked at home. I should've kicked back and surfed websites with one hand on the mouse and the other shoved firmly up my ass. I'd have been Employee of the Epoch.

Meet The New Neighbor

Our new apartment has patio access off of the second bedroom (or "office", as we like to call it) as well as the living room. Since today was about 40 degrees colder than last week at a bone-chilling 74, we got to open the windows and doors and let some of that mythical "fresh air" stuff in. This picture is of one of the feathered denizens of the trees outside our patio. The other two are yellow finches of some sort, I believe. All I know is that they've got bird food out there, and water, so they've got it easy. Freeloaders.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Whatever You Do, Stay Inside

No, it's not the mantra for my life. We learned some interesting things while watching one of our local weathermen. We learned that he has access to words that no other weather-wizard does, such as "monsoonal" and "stormyness". These things were "forecasted" for us, too, so you can imagine my growing concern. We also learned of a rather alarming weather phenomena which I sincerely hope is exceedingly rare. We were more than a little alarmed that this type of storm was "forecasted" for our area. We hoped that he had merely made a mistake in his prognostication, but there it was. Looming on the darkening horizon of our weather future were "Scat. storms"! Scat storms?!? Unless Cab Calloway came back from the dead, that can only mean there's a whole new meaning to the following weather-related exchange:
"How's the weather outside?"
"Shitty."

No singing in the rain, either. Just full-out sprinting for cover. It's not easy to sprint while holding one's breath, either. Small children will not be jumping in puddles or trying to catch anything on their tongues. Windshield wipers would be woefully ineffective, so traffic would come to a halt. April showers would still bring May flowers, and they'd be more healthy and vibrant. But very few would look outside their windows in a moody and introspective manner as the streaks form on the glass and puddles mirror the sky. Instead they'd sit in a darkened corner and cry softly, rocking back and forth in an attempt to shut their senses to the nightmare from above.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

3.0.1

We went out to lunch for our anniversary, and afterwards saw The DaVinci Code. (Yes, we're two of the most exciting people you'll ever meet.) In between those events, we saw something interesting on the road. Specifically, we saw a guy get hit by a car. It happened about three cars in front of us, and two lanes over. The group of traffic (is it a group? a pod? gaggle?) was only going about 40 or so, and in typical Tucson fashion the far left lane was going slower than the rest. That's probably why the guy was still moving when we passed. (Yes, I was in the rightmost lane.) We heard the screech of brakes, cars swerved, the left and center lanes stopped. Our lane? Right on moving, albeit at a slower pace. I saw the guy, lying on his back in the middle of the road. He was holding his head and trying to sit up. The driver who hit him had just gotten out of the car. There wasn't any blood, or any bones at any odd angles, so he didn't look too bad off. However, it did make me wonder. I mean... there were three lanes of traffic going in one direction, and three going in the other. It was 2 PM, bright and sunny (and friggin' hot). The pedestrian crossed three lanes of traffic, stopped on the wide median with ample view of the oncoming traffic, and stepped off into the path of a moving car. He could have walked the 200 feet or so to the intersection and actually crossed in a crosswalk when the light was in his favor, but I guess that lacks the adrenaline rush of a mad dash across six lanes of speeding cars. He was lying on his back in the road, head towards the median. So he didn't have heat stroke and fall over forward. He was crossing and in the process of backpedaling for his life when he got hit. Try as I might, I haven't been able to find anything in the local news about it, so I guess he's OK. And I have to add that the ambulance came in record time, so kudos to the Tucson EMTs! If I ever get hit while lane-hopping, I know that they'll be on the scene all quick-like!

Oh yeah... the movie was pretty good. It's a good story, though I can't see what all the fuss is about. I read the book, I've seen the movie. The story is fiction. The Bible is fiction. If I'm going to base my life on fiction, it's going to be something by H.P. Lovecraft. More fun that way, and it'll have a better ending.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Three

Today marks the day of something special. The day Deb and I got married. Three years and a few thousand miles of distance travelled later, and I could not be any happier. I thank her for every second, and I eagerly look forward to several more decades with her.

I don't know what the traditional gift is for three years of marriage. Probably balsa wood or something. For us, it'll be a day like the others: we'll spend it together doing things we enjoy. No better gift than that, I tell ya!

Friday, June 30, 2006

I Hate Boxes

The move is over. The unpacking has begun. The cable guy actually came on time, and was incredibly helpful and efficient. Hence the connectivity. I think I drank about two liters of water a day for the last five days. Interestingly, it just seemed to seep right out of the bottle and out my shirt. I'm very, very glad it was only in the mid to upper 90s during the move. That may sound insane, but it could have easily been 110+ for the entire week.

The new apartment complex folk have been very accommodating. No pun intended. They installed a ceiling fan in our office (which for normal people would be the second bedroom) for free, they've removed (and will be removing) doors for which we have no use, and were even an integral part of the efficiency of our cable installation today. He needed authorization to drill through a wall, and had it in under five minutes. Awesome.

So... we're here, we're finding places for everything, and the clock is counting down for the next move. (No, I'm not kidding.) I think we should just get an RV, so all our crap could move with us all the time, even when we go get groceries and stuff.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Alanis Would Call It Ironic

Day one of our long-awaited move has come. We rented a U-Haul truck, which got upgraded to the 14' model. (Yes, brother and dad, I was driving a 14' diesel automatic. Oh, the jackrabbit acceleration!) There were a couple things bad about the truck itself. The lack of acceleration was fine, since I really didn't want all of our stuff pinned against the rear door of the truck. The part about having to push the brake pedal all the way to the floor in order to slow down and eventually stop? Yeah, that's a little bad. Oh, and the air conditioner wasn't working. In Tucson. In the summer. That wasn't as bad as it could have been, since it only got up to about 98 today. I say "only" because that's about ten degrees cooler than yesterday. I'll take it.

As for the "Alanis" thing... it has not rained for any significant amount of time here since August. In that time frame there have been three or four intermittent showers lasting anywhere from 5-10 minutes, but it barely made the ground damp. That being said, would you care to guess what happened today? Today, the day we're moving our belongings from one place to another by carrying them outside? Yep. Rained. For about an hour. It was during the rain that I learned something else about the rental truck: the wipers sucked. All they did was smudge. (Yes, brother and dad, I was driving a 14' diesel automatic with limited visibility, no A/C, and lousy brakes! Woohoo!)

We moved a large quantity of things. We're quite tired, and will be very sore tomorrow. But that's part of the fun of moving!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

And Another Thing

There were only a few places along the canyon that had railings. I hesitate to call them "safety railings" because a twenty foot walk in either direction negates whatever "safety" it may have had. As an undertall person, I have visions of death whenever I get on a stepladder. However, I can stand precariously close to the edge of a breathtaking canyon without giving it a second thought. I guess it's far easier for me to picture falling off of a ladder than falling a few hundred feet or more. I suppose if I thought about it, I'd just stand at the edge of the canyon and cry like a little girl. Luckily, years of government work have provided me with a high degree of cognitive dissonance.

Friday, June 16, 2006

For The Curious


Yeah, they're still looking. I guess they wanted to see our vacation pictures.

OH, and for my governmental fans, please read this news story, and then by all means continue to tell me that it's OK for government employees to surf websites while at work. Please.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty...

"Hi-Yo Tungsten!"
Or not. What the hell do I know about horses? Apart from a ride on Sunshine the pony back when I was... four? (Help me out, parents!)... My experience with horses have pretty much been summed up as: "What's that smell?" Yet as a part of our trip to Bryce we chose to go on a horse ride through Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest. Not just any old horse ride, but a four hour trip in 95-ish degree weather in the afternoon. Sunblock? Yep. With a trowel. But I still got a bit of a burn, and a nifty pale watch-shaped patch on my wrist. The scenery, however, was out of this world. By that I mean that it really did feel as if we were on another planet. I learned that the horse knew exactly what she was doing and where to go, so that enabled me to hold the reins with one hand and take pictures with the other. Yes, I was taking pictures from the back of a moving horse. Through more luck than skill, they came out clearly. (You better believe I was surprised!)

The guy on the horse is not me, obviously. That was one of our trail guides. I call him "Tex" for two reasons. First and foremost is that I have no idea what his actual name is, and second calling him "Utie" is just too weird. I just liked the shot, because it showed him in action and showed off how good my saddle-based camera work is. I'd consider it as a career, except my ass would never forgive me. And I ain't talking donkeys.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Volcano, Wukoki, 118 degrees

Those are three things we experienced today. The first was the Sunset Crater Volcano. I never thought I'd see a volcano, but then again I never thought I'd live in Arizona. The wupatki wukoki was a few miles away from the volcano, and it was inside the wukoki I took this nifty shot:


Since Sam (or someone) will ask, I've already sized it for desktop goodness.

As for the 118 degrees... that was noted in Flagstaff when we stopped for gas. Luckily, it was not quite so unseasonably warm here when we returned.

In any event, we're home. We're tired. There will be a few pics posted, but I've got to go through a few hundred and find the really, really good ones. (Not an easy job.) (You know you went on a good vacation when you can say that you took 100 pictures each day and can honestly say you didn't get it all. Or even come close.) Deb will go through her shots as well, so prepare yourself for full-color rocky goodness.

Inside Joke

This one's for the family. For the rest of you, pictures will follow as soon as we're home.

We went horseback riding on the 2nd. A four hour ride at the bottom of Red Canyon in the afternoon. (Yes, it was hot.) My horse's name was "Patricia." All she wanted to do was eat and not walk around. Luckily, the reins worked so she did what I wanted. Though she did keep glaring at me. Funny!

OK, on the road again. More pics later!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Sedona

Many more photos, and many more to come. Arizona is cool, even though it's supposed to hit 106 tomorrow. (Yikes!)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Verbal Sequence - Not A Real Thought

Ever read the fine print on a commercial? I don't mean the paragraph of crap at the end of a car commercial, I mean the disclaimer-type stuff that's there when the commercial starts. For example, I saw a car commercial yesterday. (For the shoeboxy Scion, I believe.) It showed the wee bitty car, then the car getting hit by lightning and changing colors, followed by another bolt that turned into a robot. Something like that, anyway. In another, the teeny car is ingested by a large, red, very sketchy bulldog. At the bottom of the screen were the words: "Animation sequence - not a real car." Really? You mean my car won't turn funky colors (other than "scorched black") if it gets hit by lightning, and I don't have to live in terror of gigantic animated canines eating me and my car? Phew! That was close!

Are people really that stupid now? Do they expect to go outside and see lightning-born robots coming up out of the ground, and giant poorly-animated creatures running around just because they saw it on television? Will people really sue the car company if lightning doesn't turn their car a funky blue, or fails to attract Clifford? Is that why reality TV is so popular? People don't have to tear asunder that veil that separates fantasy from reality. It's all "real"! I guess the next step will be a similar disclaimer stamped on every frame of every movie. "Ewok sequence - not a real downfall of any Empire", "Underwater sequence - not a real Black Lagoon", "Actors in costume - not a real planet of apes"... so many possibilities, so little sense.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Grey Void Fill

I found a grey hair today. "But Wontar," you say, "you're bald! Your head is all stubbly-shaven, and you look like a roll-on." That is correct, but my chin is not bald. So, not only did I get to go prematurely bald, I get to go prematurely grey. This can mean only one thing: when my beard goes fully grey, I get to grow it all long and scraggly like a wizard. Then I can finally walk around with my big pointy hat, slam my walking stick on the ground, and tell people they cannot pass! I may have to run out and get some hair dye just to speed up the process.

In unrelated news, we've been availing ourselves of the exceptionally cool freecycle.org. Today, we got about ten cubic feet of styrofoam packing peanuts. In metric terms, that equates to a big-ass box full. When you consider that seven cubic feet goes for about $40, that's a pretty cool thing to get for free. Very handy for the eBay stuff, and handy for packing for our impending move. I think we'll soon be down to whatever we can strap on our backs and/or lash to the car. We're getting pretty damned efficient with this whole moving thing.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Like It's Not Hot Enough?

I was looking out our sliding glass kitchen door today at about 10 A.M., and saw what looked like a large dust storm in the mountains. We have a dust storm warning in effect, and we've had some really spectacularly large storms here, so it was logical at the time. I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture:

However, as I watched the storm the slow-to-acclimatize brain cells in my head said: "That doesn't look like a dust storm." So I continued to look, and the brain continued to churn. I came to the painfully slow realization that I was staring at not a dust storm, but a forest fire. Or "mountain fire", to be technically accurate. Deb agreed with me, so I marked the day on the calendar for future reference, then we leapt into action!

I got on the phone. Yes, you read that correctly. I actually picked up the phone and initiated a call to a non-family member. That's two marks on the ol' calendar.

The number we found for the first fire department offered a busy signal. I don't know about you, but there's no fire department anywhere that should ever, ever, ever have a busy signal. Ever. Glad that I was not currently on fire, I called another fire department. I was transferred once, and it seems that I was the first to report the fire. So I've earned my Smokey the Bear badge or whatever. The fire which now looked something like this:

I was told they'd send someone right out. In my mind, that meant helicopters and all sorts of sirens and stuff. As of now, two hours later, we've neither seen nor heard a thing in the form of fire-prevention-type stuff. Yes, wildfires are natural, and even necessary at times. But when it hasn't rained since August, "wildfire" is a pretty scary concept to me and shouldn't be left unattended.

Now, I'm off to watch the news. If anything changes, I'll update the post.

-Update- Well, we're still here. Never saw a single helicopter or fire-related vehicle or person, but it's out. If I were to guess, I'd say that the strong winds actually blew the fire back on itself until it had nothing left to consume. Either that, or there were firefighters up there that I just couldn't see. In any event, no more smoke, no more fire.

Monday, May 15, 2006

They're Baaaaack!

Yeah, TIGTA is back. Still don't know why, but at least they're consistent in wasting our taxpayer dollars. That's good to know, I guess. And yes, I post about it so they know I know. That's a nice, paranoid-sounding sentence, but I put it out there anyway. You'd think a letter from a Senator would make them stop, but I guess I'm just too damn popular. You know... if you like my stuff so much, the least you could do is buy a T-shirt or something. I mean, if you're so intent on wasting government funds, at least get serious about it! Get a couple of colorful canvases to put up in your cubicle, a mug for your coffee, a tile to use as a coaster for the mug, a mouse pad, clock, and calendar! Go to town, man! Order in bulk for your next softball game or whatever it is that you do. (Bowling, full-contact badminton, lawn dart catching, whatever.)

So... until you stop wasting money, I'm going to keep tilting at this particular windmill. I'm good at that. No matter how you slice it, you're wrong to continue to do the exact opposite of what your mission statement claims.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was established under the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to provide independent oversight of IRS activities. TIGTA promotes the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in the administration of the internal revenue laws. It is also committed to the prevention and detection of fraud, waste, and abuse within the IRS and related entities.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Lunch Date

Deb and I went on a date today. Something every couple should do now and then. We went out to lunch, and then actually saw a movie in one of them there moving picture theaters. (We haven't been to a theater since "Return of the King" was out.) (No, I'm not kidding.) Lunch was OK. Just "OK". Mainly because the place we visited just changed its menu and got rid of a bunch of stuff we actually liked. Bummer. The movie was what you'd expect us to see for an afternoon's post-eating entertainment: Silent Hill. Nothing helps the digestion better than a spooky gore-fest! Neither of us had ever played the game on which the film was based. We just went because it looked icky and creepy. It didn't disappoint in that regard. Or any regard, really. Great special effects, an actual plot, and buckets of blood. The ending was a tad ambiguous, (Remember Tad Ambiguous? Played varsity football in high school, C student...) but all in all it was worth the price of a matinee. As opposed to the price of a manatee, which is just not fair to the placid sea cow and its sense of self-worth.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Learned Something Today

I learned that no matter how calm my voice, no matter how expressionless my demeanor, no matter how I assure my wife that there's absolutely no reason whatsoever to panic... the phrase "Get me the fire extinguisher" just pushes all that calming stuff right out the window.

We were having some friends over for a BBQ today. They had not yet arrived, and I went outside and started the grill. It's electric (boogie woogie), and all I had to do was plug it in and turn up the temperature setting. No lighter fluid, no flames, just the magic that is a heating element. At least, that's what's supposed to happen. Seems that there was some grease in there that got just a tad bit too hot, and decided to burst into flames. To say that it produced a little smoke would be equivalent to say that the ocean is somewhat damp. The BBQ has a lid which significantly cut down on the amount of oxygen the fire was getting. The only bad thing is that there are holes elsewhere that let enough air get in to keep the fire burning. (Stop singing.) The smoke kept billowing, the fire kept going, so I calmly asked my lovely wife to please remain calm and to get the fire extinguisher for me. "What?!?!?" Please dear, just calmly and sedately obtain the fire extinguisher for me. "Why?!?!? What?!?!? What's wrong?!?!?!" She was in 'action mode', weight shifted to the balls of her feet, ready to leap in whatever direction necessary to confront/flee from the danger, eyes darting, nose testing the air for telltale signs of burned flesh and/or wood.

"Just get the damn fire extinguisher!", says the coughing husband, all calmness gone as smoke blows around him like a friggin' London fog. (Yes, a rain coat.)

Leaping with catlike agility, she grabbed the fire extinguisher, threw it up in the air in a graceful arc, did a forward one-handed handspring into a double somersault ending in a split, caught the fire extinguisher, then handed it to me. I stopped for a moment to applaud her flair for the dramatic, pulled the pin off of the extinguisher, and took off the BBQ lid.

Those of you who are still reading might stop here and say "But Wontar, we all saw that fine Ron Howard movie 'Backdraft', and we know what happens when you suddenly introduce a whole lotta oxygen to a smoky fire!" Yep. A quick burst of flames neatly singed some of the more flammable hairs on my left arm, and also released some nice thick smoke into my face. Yummy!

One quick blast of the fire extinguisher, and it was all over. Well, the fire was out. The smoke lingered for a while.

The hamburgers had a strange taste. Not sure why. No no no... we cooked them in the toaster oven. The BBQ is officially out of service, Deb has calmed down, and I still smell like a briquet. So pretty much back to normal here.

Monday, May 01, 2006

I Blame My Parents

We were waiting in line at the bank today. A man was at the ATM performing a transaction. (No, not "ATM machine"! If you say "ATM machine" please remove your own tongue. Thanks!) While performing the transaction, his cell phone rang. He answered it, took his money out of the machine, and walked away. Five seconds later, the ATM beeped. The screen read: "Would you like to perform another transaction?" I sighed, hit the "No" key, and out popped the man's ATM card. Then yours truly tore out of the place to catch the guy and give him his card back. It was 97 friggin degrees today, and I'm running in a parking lot in the middle of the day? What the hell is wrong with me?

Just one more reason why cell phones are bad. If the decision ever needs to be made between "answer cell phone" and "let strangers take all of my money out of my bank account", the cell phone should lose every time. Unless, of course, your bank account has less in it than it'd cost to get a new cell phone.

So... thank mom and dad! If not for your upbringing, Deb and I could've absconded with ill-gotten booty today!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One For My Unwelcome Guests

My apologies to my friends and family. This one is just for those who continue to waste our money by wasting their time browsing my site every damn day. They spend more time trying to hide the fact that they're visiting than actually doing what they're supposed to do. Way to combat the waste!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Releasing The Inner Demon

I made an image with the new version of Apophysis. When I rendered it, I didn't uncheck the "transparency" box, and it came out quite different than my original image. I tried getting the colors back, and... things... started happening to the image which took me in an entirely different direction. For example, I couldn't see that human figure in the yellow oval in the original. Plain ol' wasn't there. Sometimes, mistakes turn out better than the original intent.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Monday, April 17, 2006

Year One

It's been one full year since I resigned. One year since:

* I had to take sleeping pills in order to get any sort of sleep.
* I took at least six Advil a day, every day, just to get through the day. (And all the lovely side effects that went along with that.)
* I had to repeat the same instructions to the same people over and over and over again because they couldn't be bothered to read/remember/write things down.
* I've had to solve the problems of other people.
* I've had a line of people with questions going out of my office while another person is asking me a question on the phone and another is asking me a question by e-mail.
* I've heard my blood thundering in my head as my blood pressure skyrocketed because of the unspeakable stupidity unveiling itself before my eyes.
* I've had to wait 12 hours to go to the damn bathroom.
* I've had an alarm clock wake me up just as I was falling asleep.
* I've encountered people who treat computers the way most people would treat an alien seed pod. (Poke it with a stick or run away screaming in terror. Or both.)

Strangely enough, I miss none of those things. I do miss some of the people, though, and I wish for them to have better luck with and/or tolerance of that place.

As for me now... I get to wake up naturally and look out at mountains. I rarely wear pants (shorts, people, shorts!), and I only get headaches once a month or so. (That's a brazillion times better than feeling like your head is in a vise every damn day.)

I wouldn't trade this year for anything. (Well, maybe a winning lottery ticket or something.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Irony Bored

I've been angry for the last couple days. If you're an American taxpayer, you'll be angry after you finish reading this. Almost one year ago, I started receiving hits on my website from within the confines of my former employer. I complained to the organization whose job it is to stop "fraud, waste, and abuse" of government funds. I assumed, quite incorrectly, that they'd do something about it. The hits started again. I complained again, and I asked that this follow-up be associated with my previous ticket open with them.

The response I received, in its entirety: “What type of ticket do you have open? Who is it open with? What is a ticket?”

Expletives abounded after reading that response, but my vocabulary kicked in and I responded. In that response, I asked to be contacted in writing. I specifically requested not to be called.

I was called the next day.

I did not speak to the person on the phone. There is no record of what is said in a phone conversation unless it is recorded. I want written words, and I don't think that's an outlandish request. Send me a letter, apologize, and say it'll never happen again. I'll be happy with that.

After two more months of silence, I wrote a letter. It was seven pages long, went to a few senators and a couple governmental bigwigs. It seems that the letter has filtered its way down, because for the last two days I've had a governmental visitor for great swaths of time. Visiting every single link on my blog, and every line of comments.

This makes me laugh, because my complaint was that government employees aren't supposed to be surfing websites while they're at work. They're supposed to be *gasp* working! (That's how utterly radical I am.) The only sites they're supposed to view are those with a legitimate business purpose. This blog certainly does not fit that bill. There are far better ways for my tax dollars to be spent than to have people looking at blogs, don't you think? Look at it this way... at a conservative estimate, the person who was looking at my site for the past two days makes $18 an hour. (They probably make much more.) Yesterday they visited for a little over five hours, which equates to $90. That's ninety dollars to look at pictures I made, fractals, and a picture of me at four years old in a bathrobe.

I guess that makes sense. I mean, it's not like the deficit is at record high levels or anything. We've got money to burn! Rack up those blogexplosion and blogmad credits, folks! A tax hike is more than justified to pay for your surfing habit!

It's just high irony that the department charged with stopping governmental waste is now more guilty of wasting funds than the place that sparked my original complaint. Good job!

For those of you saying "so what?", think about this. This is $90 that I know about. So, if just one person wastes 5 hours a day, every day, that adds up to $32,850 wasted per year. If you think there's just one person doing this, I'd like to sell you some oceanview property in Colorado. Cheap.

My message to my new fans? Keep right on visiting! My logs will keep recording it, and it's more proof of how much money you're costing the government. Thank you for providing more fodder for my next letter. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the pics and the stories! Oh, and if you'd bother to fix the firewall like I said, this post wouldn't even be here! Fun!

*Update* - Hi again! Keep wasting those tax dollars! Oh, and nice job trying to hide. "Anonymouse.org"? I appreciate the entertainment. And what the hell do you keep looking at my profile for? It's changed maybe twice in two years. You expect it to change on a daily basis? Sheesh.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Learned Man of Leisure

My father sent me a bunch of scans of old photographs today. I like this one for several reasons. First, it shows how disproportionately huge my head is. That probably explains my posture in the picture. Way, way too much effort expended in keeping gravity at bay.

Second, I'm reading. Don't be fooled by the pictures on the pages. There are words there, and I started reading words at age two. Luckily, my comprehension kept increasing as I got older.

Third, I'm wearing a stylin' robe. If I remember correctly, it had a little Winnie the Pooh on the breast pocket. Even then, I had discriminating tastes. All I really need to complete the outfit is a snifter of brandy. Or a snifter of Kool-Aid, I guess. And a bubble gum cigar.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

April Is A Tricky Month

March 31, 1999: I came home from work to find my apartment burned down. (Insurance? What insurance?) Wore the same clothes for a few days, and couldn't get away from the smell of smoke. (Even though it probably only existed in my mind.) Learned that life wasn't about material possessions. (Though I did spend many, many hours cleaning and repairing my computer! Possessions are one thing, my computer is sacred!)

March 31, 2005: We decided to resign and move to Arizona, leaving behind stable (though monstrously aggravating) jobs, friends, friends who are family (not "like family", but family, dammit), and family. Learned that if I had kept on the way I was going, I was on the fast track to a heart attack/stroke/brain implosion/Advil OD. I was living for work, and so was Deb, and there was no end in sight. Or so we thought.

March 31, 2006: Wontar hides under the bed, unsure as to whether the life-changing cycle will stick to its six year pattern or not.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Give 'Em the Old Razzle Zazzle

I've discovered something cool, and I'm sharing it with you for my own financial gain. (Hey, I'm honest.) There's a nifty site called Zazzle that lets you upload images to create T-shirts, posters, cards and whatnot. Yeah, I know. Sounds like CafePress, right? Not exactly. The cool thing about Zazzle is that if you as a buyer see an image that you like, but think it'd look better on a red shirt than a blue one, you get to customize it yourself. If you see a poster that would be perfect if only it were in a different size, you can make it a different size. That's pretty nifty.

I'm adding stuff to my Zazzle site as I type. If you want to see an image of mine on something, let me know.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Celebrity

My nephew has made it into the local paper yet again. (He would be the one on the left. The lefty.) (Woot!) No, nothing bad. (He's not like his father.) I never made it into the local news. I never went outside long enough. Well, except for that time I had my picture taken with Santa. That made it into the paper. I was like 10 months old and crying, so I'm pretty proud of that. I still have that reaction whenever I see Santa in the mall. I get all fidgety and my eyes start to tear. Of course, I get that way when I'm in crowds of more than two people I'm not related to, so it could be that as well. Nobody's offered me a grant to study it and figure it out, so it's going to remain a mystery until that happens.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Time and Tide, Death and The Other Thing

A little advice to those of you in the states who are thinking of moving to another state... move on December 31. That way, you'll never have to experience the joy that is the partial-year state tax return!

In any event, the taxes are done and Deb hasn't killed me. That's two wins for me! (The T-word causes much stress in our household, as you may imagine.) To celebrate the completion of all that paperwork, we're going to go out and buy this. (My wife is the coolest person in the known universe. End of story.) So... you may not hear from us for a while, as we'll be up to our sahasrāra chakra in another world.



Update: If anyone else is interested in downloading this image as a desktop image, go here. There are some others up there too. If you have any requests, let me know.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Forsooth! Mine Buckaroo Doth Vex Me, Y'all.

This weekend was spent in a state of temporal flux where time, sanity, and the elements collided to become all higgledy-piggledy. (That's a technical term, so I apologize if I lost anyone with that.) It started on Friday, when Deb and I went to get pizza fresh from Brooklyn. For those of you a tad bit shaky on geography, Brooklyn is a fair distance away from Tucson. Luckily for us, the Brooklyn Pizza Company is in Tucson, and they make honest to God real pizza! If you've never had pizza in the NYC/Long Island area then you've never had pizza. Sorry, but it's true. You've had a kitchen sponge with red stuff on it at best. We won't discuss worst.

On the way back from obtaining said real pizza, we got to see something that may just appear on an episode of Cops. Police choppers buzzing about overhead, sirens blaring, and a cop car stopped off to the side with its doors flung open and officers giving chase on foot. Pretty neat, but I wasn't paying too much attention. I had pizza and garlic knots to tend to, dammit!

Saturday found us hurtling back in time at the Arizona Renaissance Festival. I had never before attended such a thing, but as it was supposed to be a special Celtic weekend I was looking forward to it. The weather was great, we had discounted tickets... what more could you ask for?

In a word: entertainment.

The only things Celtic there were a couple of extremely pale people in kilts. This would normally be a novelty, if not for the myriad others in far more (unintentionally) alarming costumes. There were people from all over the country at this shindig. Most of them were fat. You need to understand... since moving to Arizona we've seen very few people of significant girth. (For my former co-workers out there, the term is "IRS fat".) Some people took great care to make their costumes, and they looked really good. Some people put on a dorky hat and called it a costume. Good for them. My biggest complaint with the whole thing was that we paid $18 each in order to have people beg at us and try and overcharge us for crap we didn't want. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it was that my ticket got me. Other than annoyed. But then, I can get that for free.

I will say that I did recieve my most unusual threat to date there. We were walking past one of the costumed flunkies, and said flunky was the one who said the threat to me. I was a bit annoyed at the place by this time, and my eye was bothering me, so I wasn't beaming with glee. He said: "If you're not smiling, I'm going to talk to you! This means you, man with the brown cowboy hat* and sunglasses!" Talk to me? Is that really the best you've got? A grown man with leather pants and a fake stuffed squirrel on his shoulder, and that's all you can give me? You need to work on your threats, Squire Zippy.

The following day, we went off to the Festival of the West. My eye was still bothering me, and was only half-open. It was also raining quite steadily. A hundred or so days without precipitation, and it rains on the day we're at an event. Most of the vendors closed shop, and there weren't really any shows going on. They still decided to charge us the full price for admission, though. How nice of them.

We did get to have a couple of brushes with greatness, though. For some strange reason, Ruth Buzzi was there. What she has to do with anything wild west-ish is beyond me, but she was there signing autographs and stuff. There were some others, but the biggie for us was Morgan Woodward. Why? Not because of his litany of western credits, but because he was both Dr. Simon Van Gelder and Captain Ron Tracey on the original Star Trek! How cool is that?

We left fairly early and headed back home. The rain got progressively worse, and for a while it was hailing. It's not often one sees frozen stuff on the ground in Arizona, so that was pretty interesting.

My apologies for not having pictures of any of this. My camera decided to have a breakdown and won't focus. Whee. Deb has some pics, though, so check her blog shortly for full-color madness.

* My "cowboy hat" doesn't look like a cowboy hat. I don't have a big belt buckle that says "Tex" or anything. It just wasn't a beret or Robin Hood pointy thing with a feather in it, so he called it a cowboy hat.

Friday, March 17, 2006

One Less Headache, One Product Plug


If you're like me, and I know I am, then drinking diet soda gives you a headache. By "headache" I mean "pain like a rusty red-hot railroad spike being driven into your head until it hits your eye". That being the case, I'm not one for drinking diet soda. This is somewhat problematic when I'm trying to lose weight, as I can easily drink 4 or 5 sodas at a sitting. (Last week Deb and I went out for lunch. The waitress brought me a pitcher of soda after I finished my second soda before the meal arrived. I finished the pitcher.) Drinking half of the recommended daily allotment of calories during one meal isn't particularly good.

"Try water", you say? "Try going to hell", I reply. I drink water in the summer and/or when we're out hiking. I need flavor with my food. And I can't drink any of those other lovely diet drinks, because they all have NutraSweet and give me a bloody great stabbing headache.

Until now.

The fine folks at Coca-Cola came up with a diet soda sweetened with Splenda. So I tried some. (I prefer Pepsi over Coke, but I prefer weighing less too... so what the hell.) It didn't give me a headache. Not even a small one. That's very cool! And do you know what's even better? This Splenda stuff has all manner of controversy surrounding it. One thing I just finished reading called it a "mild mutagen"! That's awesome! I hope I mutate big, sharp spikes on my shoulders. That way, people would get the hell out of my way when I'm walking. If they don't, they get impaled. "Oh, sorry! Couldn't help it. I'm a victim of a mutagen." Maybe I could mutate some sort of camouflage ability. Then I could sneak up on people and scare the hell out of them. So many mutation ideas are running through my brain... I'm like Marvel in the 90s.

In any event, I'm starting to switch over to my mutating soda. It tastes decidedly different than "real" soda, so it's not a smooth transition. But, if diet crap makes you want to tear off the top of your own head so you can release the demons, you might want to give this stuff a try. And hey, with the added bonus of possible mutation, how can you turn it down?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Lakes and Canyons and Deer, Oh My!

If you're like I was, your mental image of Arizona was primarily based upon Road Runner cartoons. (What can I say... I was a sheltered child.) We spent the last couple days visiting with our friends who live about two hours south of us. If you think of Arizona as nothing but desert, you're sadly mistaken. The picture on the left was taken at Parker Lake, which is part of the Coronado National Memorial. (That sounds like a building, but it's really land.) It was a very blustery day, so the lake was choppy. I had one light jacket on, and felt like an idiot for not bringing something more substantial to wear. How cold was it? On the way back from the lake it started to rain. The rain tapered off, and turned to something we haven't seen in quite a while: snow! Not much, but it was certainly odd to see snow in southern Arizona in March!


We also visited the Ramsey Canyon Preserve. (Which sounds like a cousin of marmalade, but is really a big ol' park.) We took many, many more pictures than I could possibly post here. (Well, I could post them, but my dial-up family would never be able to see them.) A recent prevailing thought for me whenever I go outside is that we live in a postcard. Everywhere you look, there's something to make you say "Wow!" and mean it with all its exclamatory brevity.


Trees such as this Arizona sycamore just reinforce the feeling that we're not just in another state, but in another world. I mean, this is the kind of a tree you'd expect to meet in a fantasy story instead of on a hike. The twisted branches put so many story ideas in my head that I just have to stop and stare at the tree and try to sort them all out.

We also had some unexpected company along the way. (No, not rattlesnakes, bears, or mountain lions.) Two groups of deer (scientifically known as "deerses") were foraging along a couple trails. They were wary of us, but not afraid of us, which led to some surprisingly close shots. (Camera shots, that is. To any hunters who are reading this: stop whatever it is you are doing and go to directly to Hell. Thanks!) They still have their winter coat, and since it snowed a little the previous day they certainly needed it. In fact, my handy-dandy ForecastFox has informed me that there's an actual Winter Storm Watch in effect for Tucson for the weekend! Neat!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I Can Use "Pariah" In A Sentence

Have you heard about the guy whose job is being threatened because he advertises the fact that he's an English-speaking American? This infuriates me. You may think me a racist or a bigot or whatever for being pissed off about it, but I really don't care. Have you seen commercials for lawyers or doctors or whatever, and at the end they proudly proclaim "Se Habla Espanol"? Nobody rails against those businesses. They are applauded for their efforts in "reaching out". I realize that the U.S. does not have an official language. (I don't like it, but I know that's the way it is.) It is, however, the language that has been predominantly used in this country for 200+ years. I would think that would give it some extra clout, but instead it makes English a pariah. More concessions are made for people who do not speak it than those who do, and many of those who do speak it don't understand it enough to spell or use it correctly. (See also: the mind-numbing prevalence of using apostrophe S to denote a plural rather than possessive.)

The day I'm put in charge of everything, I'm going to mandate an English test. If you pass it, you get to eat. If you fail, you don't eat again until you pass. Don't worry about all the dead bodies, as they'll be cleaned up by my army of flying robotic electro-death monkeys.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Jen Ettix

Deb and I were eating lunch at a local eating establishment. Two young guys were seated in the booth behind me. I'm assuming they were college-age kids, because they didn't sound like Arizonans and we were reasonably close to the University. One guy had a voice that you couldn't help but hear, especially being less than two feet away. The first snippet of conversation I heard was a typical teen/twentysomething rant: "I hate it when people don't say if they don't know the answer to something. Just say you don't know if you don't know!" You go in your quest for knowledge and truth, Timmy! Fight the power and all that!

But then, a short time later, I heard a line that made me shake. Not from terror, but with the effort of suppressing riotous laughter. He said:

"I don't understand why, after a couple hundred years, people in California, Arizona, and New Mexico aren't born tan."

A couple hundred years? I know there's a whole controversy as to whether or not intelligent design should be taught in school, but have they completely given up teaching evolution in schools? The whole dominant and recessive gene thing has just gone out the window, leaving kids with the notion that we should be changing as fast as silly putty in the hands of a five year old. I guess the old necessities for human survival (food, shelter, and clothing) aren't being taught anymore either. Poor Timmy. Doesn't know that there's this thing called "inside".

It made me wonder what his parents were like. I have images of his father sitting at home in his recliner, staring intently at the television trying to develop remote-control vision so he can change the channels more effectively. Meanwhile, Timmy's mother is out in the backyard, flapping her arms furiously in order to achieve flight.

The really scary thought? I hope Timmy isn't in Med school.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Tagged by Tarragon 2: Electric Boogaloo

Tarragon has tagged me regarding music. My answer surprised me, mainly because I don't listen to music much. Not now. I used to listen to music on my way to work, and then at work. Mainly to keep from screaming. Now that I work at home, my commute time is significantly shorter. If there's a CD in the stereo, it's playing some sort of old time radio show. The Shadow, Lights Out, The Whistler, Dimension X... from the days when people spoke properly and actually knew when to use phrases like "to whom".

So, I'll have to stray from the rules a bit, and instead provide a list of songs of special significance. In no particular order, they are:

Reflections - Shimmyo. Dan is a friend of mine, an amazing artist and musician, and an all-around good guy. He was inspired to write this song when he saw a movie that my friends and I did when we were in college. Its original cut was lame, but I added some fantabulous effects to it on my trusty old mac and it actually looked good. After he wrote the song, I added it as a "soundtrack" and in some key scenes. He also did a remix of it, and my character's voice in the movie was on the track. Neato.

Pants - Corky and the Juice Pigs. Funny. Actually, they're all quite funny. Remember is also funny if you're an R.E.M. fan, and it's funnier if you're not. I'm the Only Gay Eskimo is funny if you're gay or an Eskimo, or even if you're not. When an album is named "Pants", you know it's good.

Sing, Sing, Sing - Benny Goodman. Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm 36, not 336. But there's something about this song that makes me wish I could dance. (Not enough to make me actually want to learn to dance, but at least it puts the thought in my head.)

Return to Innocence - Enigma.

Picard's Flute Solo - Jerry Goldsmith. Geek alert! It's the song from "The Inner Light" episode from Star Trek - The Next Generation. I can't find the music, or a sample of it, online. It's just really, really good. If it doesn't take you through a range of emotions while listening to it, you're a machine. (And I don't mean Data.)

To Awake and Avenge the Dead - Thrice. Need to drive somewhere in a hurry, or perhaps rip someone's head off with your bare hands? Maybe both at the same time? Play this song. Play the whole album if you want to go on a spree.

Galaxy Song - Monty Python. Puts everything in perspective, and I think should be played so that everyone can hear it every single day. Not only hear it, but forced to comprehend the lyrics.


That's it. I didn't exactly conform, but then I rarely do. I'm such a rebel.