Monday, December 29, 2008

End of December

Isn't this what the end of December looks like for everyone? T-shirt weather. Sunny, green, low 70s... No? Sucks for you, then. We spent part of the day breaking in our new walking sticks at the Catalina State Park. We walked for a couple miles. Had to cross actual water on multiple occasions, too! A rarity in Arizona, for the most part. The sticks were invaluable in that regard, so thanks again Kathy and Dan!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nothing to Say

So I'll say it. That's what a blog is for. The usual here: working, making stuff, putting things in both shops. No real post-election insight to share. When the choice is between a slogan and the Manchurian Candidate, it just cements how bad off we really are.

Unrelated to anything: it was 84 today. 84 tomorrow, too. It's mid-November. Enough already! Make with the 60 degree temps!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Decision 2008

I have started a list. It contains the names of all the candidates who have called our phone in the last few days. It's so I can remember who absolutely will not receive votes from us.

One really took the cake today. (Not surprising, really. Politicians taking stuff.) We received a call today, and since I didn't recognize the number I didn't answer. The voice mail was a recorded message for one of the AZ candidates for whatever. I looked up his website, found a contact form, and used it to tell him that his phone call cost him two votes. I actually got a response, and the response has made me laugh. A lot. Why? He wanted me to call him so he could speak to me. Not kidding. I did not call. I will not call. I did e-mail him back and explain how insulting it is not only to be bothered by phone calls, but to be asked to call when I said quite clearly that it was the phone call that pissed me off in the first place.

Oh! There were typos in the e-mail, too. I let him know about that as well. I'm not voting for someone who can't spell. (I know, it's not from him. It's from a volunteer lackey. Don't care.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Really Expensive Lunch

Yesterday, my lovely wife and I decided to go out for lunch. I got in the car, turned the key, and was greeted with a ticking sound instead of an engine-turning-over-and-running sound. Color me cursing. Since I know as much about cars as I do particle physics (actually less), I started calling. First my brother, then my father, and then Dan. (Good thing Dan was there, because that's pretty much it as far as the "people we can call" list goes.) Dan figured it out, we called the emergency roadside thing offered by our insurance company, and they showed up inside 20 minutes. A jump-start later, and we were off to the mechanic to get a new battery and an oil change. Since they couldn't take the car right away, we walked to IHOP for lunch. A leisurely lunch later, plus another 20 minutes or so, and the car was done and the wallet was about $190 lighter. Not counting lunch.

Monday, September 29, 2008

One Angry Man

Jury summons. I have to be at the courthouse at 8:30. A.M.. Why can't I be called for jury duty to night court? I'd like to watch a judge that can do magic tricks. I wish I had had more than a couple days' notice. I would have made a t-shirt that said something like "You are all guilty in the eyes of Gorto the Sock Demon, and you will burn forever in the Dryer of the Damned!"

Instead, I'll take a pill in a few minutes to put me to sleep, wake up to a damnable alarm clock, put on friggin' pants!!, and have my lovely-but-groggy wife chauffeur me to the court house. Where I will be summarily dismissed for one reason or another. Hope hope hope...

That reminds me. I've got to grab some books. How low-tech.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Still Breathing

We're still alive. Just busy. The blog suffers, but that's OK. Nothing much exciting here, anyway. Keeping two shop sites going is still taking some time, but we're getting the hang of it. And of course, when really busy there's nothing better than opening yet another site! Yes, I'm a moron. For the curious (and the search engines) it's Stargazer... shirts... shirtgazer. Made sense to me! The site isn't 100% complete yet, but all the links go where they're supposed to go. That's good enough for right now.

Other than that, not much. The weather has finally cooled off a bit in the last few days. Enough so that we've actually had the windows open until about 1 pm, and can open them again at night. Well, have them open without letting the burning hellfire inside and melt the carpet.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not Funny

Guess who just got another jury duty summons in the mail? ("Another" is the key word in that sentence.) Yep, me. Federal court this time. No, it turns out I'm not exempt. In order to be exempt, you have to actually have served on a jury that delivered a sentence. The sentence I'm delivering has lots and lots of expletives.

Color me pissed yet again.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


This one's for Sam. My blog is apparently about phones and problems, which I find terribly funny as those two words go hand-in-hand.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Never Let It Be Said That I Have No Sole

I've been spending some time recently doing something different. Designing shoes. It's a nifty new thing at Zazzle, and quite honestly I'm having fun doing it. (This coming from the guy who has purchased exactly one pair of shoes since moving to Arizona.) (Not that I'm going to buy any of these. I stopped wearing women's shoes years ago.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

We Really Shook The Pillars Of Heaven, Didn't We Wang?

CafePress has a problem with its shopping cart. The problem isn't widespread, and that's probably why a fix is slow in coming. It's been about three weeks now, maybe more. I've submitted bug reports, as have other people, yet the problem remains. Yesterday, I decided that I'd had it.

I e-mailed the CEO and told him all about it.

I told him about the problem, told him where to look to see that I wasn't the only wacky person experiencing the problem, and I told him how bad it was for business for all of us. (I used more words than that. You know how I get.)

To his credit, he responded in about six hours. I know it was from him and not from a lackey. He thanked me, and said he was going to make sure it got investigated. About an hour later, I received an e-mail from the EVP. He said the same thing.

Now, according to a post on the CP forums, they've changed the way these bug reports are handled. More informative, straight to the IT department, good stuff like that.

While I'm not thrilled with CP right now, I am impressed by their executives. Hopefully they'll see to it that the problem gets fixed ASAP.

I'm just glad to have successfully tilted at a windmill. I have to mark my calendar.

(Bonus points if you know the movie quote.)

Friday, July 25, 2008

That Old Familiar Feeling

CafePress announced that it will be changing the way it pays its contributors. As you may have guessed, the change is not in favor of its contributors. Some of you may remember that I worked on a project that the IRS projected would save them seven million dollars its first year, for which I received a $900 bonus. Before taxes.

I can't help but have flashbacks. The people doing the work that enables the site to exist are getting screwed seven ways from Sunday, and they're only pulling in $50 million or so. My heart bleeds.

Oh, and through all of this we were finally treated to words straight from the fingers of the CEO. (By that I mean typing, not the finger that I'm currently pointing at him.) The man can't spell. At all. You know I judge people by their usage of the language. Moreso when it's the only thing I have to judge. After reading his words, I can only hope that his lackeys have an education greater than fourth grade. That way, they've got a good four more grades' worth of intelligence to bank on.

In case the subtleties were lost on anyone, I'm downright fucking pissed off.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You've Heard of Money Laundering?

Here's a quiz: Do you know what happens to a cell phone when you leave it in your pocket? What's that? Nothing? Oh, did I mention that the pocket was on a pair of shorts that had just been in the wash? (Not the dryer, though. That would just be stupid.)

So, yeah, I wrecked the cell phone. Or the only phone, as the case may be. I'm sure the calls were just a-rollin' in in the interim. (The phone rings maybe four times per month.) (Yesterday was probably the day we got that call informing us we had one a kajillion dollars.)

We took a trip to the Verizon store today. The phone was officially declared dead. The ceremony was lovely. Luckily, we still have our old cell phone. Gorto the giant tech-who-can't-keep-his-gum-in-his-mouth reactivated it, and we're ready to make and receive calls once more. A hell of a lot cheaper than buying a new phone, too.

Next week, I'm going to take a power washer to my computer. We'll see how that goes.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

For My Better Half

Happy Anniversary to the best person ever! (It's as simple as that.)

For those of you buying gifts, the traditional gift for five years of marriage is wood. So I guess... toothpicks, cedar chips, tongue depressors, scrap lumber you have lying around, and an end table. Mix and match, or glue it all together!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Logic in Advertising

You know those commercials informing the panicked citizenry of these United States about the impending switch to cable-only TV in 2009? You know how the whole point of the commercial is that there will no longer be TV signals broadcast over the air, right? And if you've already got cable TV or satellite, you won't even notice the change?

So... why do they run those adverts on cable-only channels?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Thief Part II

At the beginning of the month, I mentioned the thief who stole a few hundred designs and made a bunch of shops out of them. I contacted the powers-that-be, and the thief's shops were deleted. Until two weeks later, when she re-created them all. So, I jumped through all the hoops again. She seems to have been deleted, or mostly deleted. Why they don't just delete her account is beyond me. I guess when I open my t-shirt printing company, I can deal with thieves in the way I'd like... with my awesome telekinetic powers. (Shudder at *that* thought, dear reader! What a barren wasteland it would be if I had anything approaching telekinetic powers.)

Nothing too exciting beyond that. Working on two shops of ours, plus the off-site, plus another one with one of my online buddies... keeping busy, to say the least. That's good, because we can't go outside. Burst into flames quicker than if someone had pyrokinetic powers. (Anybody see a theme here?)

Oh! On the plus side, I've only had about three headaches this month. No migraines. Hooray for experimental drugs!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rhymes With "Done With Jury Duty"

Two sleeping pills taken around 9pm (that did nothing), up at 6 (I slept a little. Deb didn't sleep at all.), Deb dropped me off at the court a little after 7 with two books in hand. At about 8:30, they called a bunch of people up. I wasn't one of them. The remainder were told it could be "a few hours" before we knew whether they'd need any of us or not. 10:30 rolled around, and we were excused.

The plus (other than being excused): there was a bank of computers in the room. They were ancient, but they had internet access. I was able to e-mail Deb to tell her I was all done. (Much better than calling someone else to e-mail her to tell her to come get me.)

The annoying: The summons thing, as well as the website used to register, specifically say how you should dress. No jeans, no rubber sandals, no t-shirt. One guy had all three, and he got selected to be on the jury. I guess I'd make a pretty shitty judge, because I'd send him home and make him come back again and again until he learned how to read. Actually, if he did it more than once I'd find him in contempt. Oh! And some woman showed up at 8:30, asking for a note to prove that she'd been there. Timmy the jury greeter pleasantly told her that she was supposed to have been there at 7:30, so he couldn't do anything for her. He sent her to see someone else, but I hope they didn't help her. (I'd have found her in contempt, too.)

That's pretty much it, other than lunch and a nap. I only read one book, and didn't get to curse at anybody. I'd stick my head out the window and curse at random people, but it's too hot to open the window. Maybe I'll just put a sign up.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rhymes With "Truck"

Those of you keeping score at home may recall that prior to our trip to Vegas, I received a jury summons. Said summons was postponed so we could go on said trip. Today was the day I found out whether I had to go or not. Since I'm still cursing, you can probably guess the answer to that little mystery. There were nine juror groups. Guess how many were selected to serve? One. Mine.

So... I have to be there at 7:30. AM. (Fucking diurnals. I'd love to sue the legal system for discrimination against people who have given up the asinine tradition of worshiping the sun god.) I have to wear pants. Not jeans. Pants. Forecast high for tomorrow? 102-ish. I'll be the juror drowning in my own sweat. Hey, there's an idea! I'll pass out, get rushed to the hospital, and then sue the court system.

Oh! I nearly forgot. There's no place to park. Well, there's no place to park for free. The court doesn't provide parking, but you can get your parking validated for a "reduced" fee. Gee, thanks for that, Pima county!

So, my plan is to go there as if I have Tourette's. I'll use my New York-honed cursing skills to their fullest as a response to every question. I'm working on a facial tic now for that extra-special touch.

Monday, June 09, 2008

To Catch A Thief

Deb found something interesting the other day while browsing through designs in the CafePress marketplace. Specifically, one of our designs was in the "newest arrivals" category. The reason that was odd was because that particular image has been up since mid-2005. It really wasn't "new" by any definition. It was, however, newly stolen. Someone decided to copy it and use it as her own. After a little digging, it turned out that she did that more than once. Not to our images (thankfully), but to several hundred other people.

After some moderate to severe cursing, I sprang into action. (Well, I typed into action. My keyboard is a bit springy, so the saying still applies.) I fired off e-mails to other shopkeepers who had things stolen, and even made a phone call! (Yes, it was that important.) It took two days, but the thief's account was completely deleted. Hundreds of designers were protected from a conscienceless thief. Even if they didn't even know about it.

I've tilted at a lot of windmills in my day, but this one made me feel good. The response, while not as swift as I would have liked, was the appropriate one. And despite receiving one canned response, the other human-crafted response more than made up for it. Hell, just the fact that a windmill was successfully tilted made me happy.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

It's Still Spring, Right?

The forecast is calling for triple-digit temperatures for the next few days. Summer is still, what, three weeks away? I think this means that August is going to be around 80 Kajillion degrees. At night. On the plus side, that means it won't be dusty. All the dust will have melted into glass. It'll look neat from space. Sure, there won't be any life here, so tourism will be tricky. Unless you count the Lava Men. And people won't even acknowledge they exist under the best of circumstances. Prejudice is an ugly thing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Laughlin, Vegas, Valley of Fire

Our whirlwind vacation of gambling has come to a close. We didn't win big, but we didn't lose much. Especially considering that 85% of the time was spent in a casino. Well, apart from driving. With this trip, we have officially put 30,000 miles on our car. You know, the one we bought with nearly 9,000 miles on it. Five years ago. (We don't drive much, can you tell?)

The picture is from our day trip-within-a-trip to The Valley of Fire. It's the place that inspired us to move west. Our first visit to the park was on a tour. This time around, we got to drive through it ourselves and explore it more. I'd go there again in a minute. Fascinating rock formations, petroglyphs all over the place, and busloads of cranky Japanese tourists who only know the English word "shithole". (If you think you're in a shithole, honey, you need to just stay home.)

Apart from a bit of an inconvenience with the last night's check-in that wound up taking three hours, and also found me growling at an exceptionally snotty old bat who I then called "meat" (in the consumable, liver-and-a-nice-chianti sort of way), it was a good trip. I'm in no hurry to go gambling again, but that's really nothing new.

Friday, May 02, 2008

New Neighbor

Yet another perk of having actual trees right outside the front door. We've got hummingbirds, house finches, golden finches, doves, woodpeckers, and now this guy. He's pretty big, too. And loud. I think we're going to need a bigger bird bath. And chunks of raw meat.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tippi Got Off Easy

Fresh from the shower, I went outside today to drop off some outgoing mail at the office. The office is roughly 300 feet away from our front door, if that far. I went down the front stairs, through the gate in the security fence, and was halfway to my destination when three things happened in short succession: I heard a bird up in the trees, I felt something warm on my head, and a brown streak obscured my vision.

Yes, a bird shit on my head. Not only my head, but my glasses, shirt, and jeans. I took my glasses off, because despite my years of government service I have difficulty seeing through shit. This turned my world into a big smudge, because I'm nearsighted as all get-out. I made my way back through the gate (after trying to unlock it with the wrong key) and back into the apartment. The clothes came off and were immediately run under water, my glasses were blasted with water that was hot by Arizona standards, and I had my second shower of the day. My second shower of the hour, really.

I went back out and managed to make my delivery without incident. Deb got a good laugh out of it, so that makes it all worthwhile.

Tomorrow, though, we're having squab for dinner.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Headaches and Headache Fodder

I had a migraine yesterday. It was fortunate as far as my little study is concerned, but unfortunate in that we were supposed to go visit our friends. I slept for about 3 hours, all of it after 9 A.M., so needless to say we didn't go. (Sorry guys.) I also learned something I probably should have known for a while: the dosage for Advil Migraine is two pills every 24 hours. Oops. Ah well. I didn't really need those internal organs much.

As for the headache fodder, I received in the mail today something of interest. A jury summons for May 14. Under normal circumstances, that wouldn't be much of a big deal. True, I have zero desire to be at a courthouse at whatever ridiculous hour you diurnals dispense justice. It just happens that May 14 falls in one of the times where we plan on being away. So, I filled in the form online and checked the request for postponement due to vacation. We'll see how that goes. I should just tell them that I think everyone is guilty before noon. Actually, I'm pretty much pro-death penalty for everything prior to sundown. If it's early enough, they may send me home because they'll think I have Tourette's.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


I've been accepted into a migraine study. It's a double-blind test with a half gainer. Or something like that. All I know is that I got an EKG yesterday, my blood pressure was 112 over 60, and Legos follow me wherever I go. (There were two Lego bricks under the examining table.) (I did not bring them.) The best part is that I get to use a PDA to keep track of migraines. It's password protected, and only has input fields pertaining to the study. It's got a modem in the docking cradle, which is unfortunately of no use to me as we have no landline. I'd e-mail the info to them, but they're not set up for that. Oh well. We'll see how it goes. It'd be nice to see if the medicine actually does anything for my headaches, but I won't know whether or not I'm actually taking the real medicine or the placebo. (Those tricky scientists!)

On a completely unrelated note, and just because I want to, Stargazer Designs News. Because I don't have enough websites to maintain. This one is made out of Joomla, which is absolutely friggin' awesome. I love all the features and plug-ins and whatnot. It still takes tweaking to get it to work well, but huge chunks are taken care of for you, and that makes me happy. I did it mainly to have a decent newsletter for the shop, and the newsletter is pretty darn cool. If I say so myself. I'm the only one qualified to say so, because I'm currently the only subscriber. Go me being the president of our fan club!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reason # 8,529,852 That My Wife Is Amazing

We have a computer in the bedroom. It's connected to the internet so we can watch things like Joost, streaming Ghost Hunters on, and things like that there. It's also proven to be beneficial because the DVD player in the tv has started to skip. So, pop the DVD in the computer, and watch with glee and popcorn.

Ever the tinkerer, I modified one project (my version of the Sun Jar) to get its power from the computer rather than a solar cell. Why? Despite living in Arizona, our place is actually quite shady for 85% of the day. Solar cells don't really have a chance to do their thing in here. So, the jar lights up when the computer is turned on.

The other day, a little gooseneck lamp took a goose dive off of a desk. It wasn't worth replacing the bulb, as we had only used it a few times here. We were going to throw it out, but instead I got a bright idea. (Get it? It's a lamp!) I gutted the lamp, added a white LED where the bulb once was, and routed the power to the same source as my sun jar. (Which I guess is now a computer jar.) The result looks a lot less blurry than this:

Yes, the switch on the lamp works.

My wife is amazing because she lets me do this stuff. So there.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I'm Better At Math Than That!

OK, so... watching a news story about the little old lady in New Mexico who beat the crap out of the guy who tried to steal her purse. The news reporter said that the would-be purse snatcher was "four times younger" than the aforementioned little old lady. The woman is 83, so negative four times 83 is -332. Wow! Kids today! They're turning to crime hundreds of generations before they're even born!

I need to stop watching the news. My tolerance for stupid is lower than ever.

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Called "Toilet Water" For A Reason

Ever the idea man, I've come up with something that will benefit both wearers of scents and the unscented alike. It's a device one could wear on one's person that would give off some sort of warning signal if the wearer was wearing too much scent. Something memorable, like, oh I don't know, a taser to the nether regions. Or possibly a light mist of pepper spray into the ol' eyeballs. Of course it would have to have a security setting, so that if anyone tampered with the device it would unleash a constant shock until a technician arrives in 2-3 business days.

I'm not sure what to call it. "Anti-Stink-O-Meter" is just too cumbersome. "Serves You Right You Rat Bastard! Why Don't You Try Bathing With Water Instead of Perfume/After-Shave?" even more so. Maybe "Stench-B-Gone". I guess it doesn't really matter what they're called. People aren't going to buy them for themselves, and they're installed with a nail gun. (In my world, they are.)

Can you tell I had to deal with people today?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Not The Casino

Thanks to mom for the six-month Netflix subscription, we saw Stardust yesterday. Not a bad film. Not a great one, but an OK one. I had no idea who the female lead was, and my thought upon seeing her was: "She looks like Michael York." Not a female version of Michael York, but Michael York. To be fair, she looks like Michael York from his Three Musketeers days, as opposed to now. Turns out the woman is Claire Danes, which still meant nothing to me. However, according to IMDb, she was voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world by "People" magazine.

Somehow, I hope that makes Michael York happy.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Looking For A Cave With Internet Access

A week or whatever ago, CNN had a little question on its little website. The question they put out to their viewers was: How much air time should we give to Ralph Nader now that he has announced he is running for the presidency? As you can imagine, I was more than a little put off by that question. Not because I really have anything against Ralph Nader. He's Pat Paulsen without the funny. I was angry because, by announcing that he was running for president, they had already given him more air time than they had given to Ron Paul. So, I left a comment on CNN's site to that effect. There were many other comments from other posters saying basically the same thing I did. I checked back the next day to see how many comments the article received.

All the comments that mentioned Ron Paul had been deleted.

No, I'm not kidding. All of them. Color me pissed. I know you don't care, but I'm still voting for him. Especially since I can't muster up anything past antipathy for any of the others running.

Edit: Sam found the site, and it seems at least some of the comments are back. Mine isn't there, which is odd. I wasn't caustic or anything, so that's odd.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Remember That I Suck At Math

I saw a commercial last night with an interesting statistic. It said: "4 out of 10 high school students don't graduate". If you're like me, you are marginally relieved that those high school students who do not graduate are still able to obtain employment writing copy for commercials. Do they no longer teach the children about the lowest common denominator? That was second or third grade for me, so in my world if you're over the age of nine and don't know how to reduce a fraction then I get to hit you. With a bat. Or a vampire. (Hmm... that would mean that I get to hit people with Tom Cruise and/or Brad Pitt! That's a bonus!) I mean, hell, we're not a metric society. You're telling me that base ten has more of an impact than "2 out of 5"?

I guess I should try to be more positive. After all, they spelled it correctly. Baby steps.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

38th Parallel

I'm officially 38. Deb and I went out for my obligatory "free" steak dinner and meringue-covered flaming brownie on the 5th, and also went to church. Why? To vote, of course. (Yes, I voted for Ron Paul. No, I don't agree with him on everything. I just agree with him on the things that matter most to me. So there.)

This is one of the reasons why I know I'm spiraling towards 40. I'm talking politics. Add the grey hairs, and the dull ache that's been in my knee for two days now, and I'm a regular crotchety old man. If I had a lawn, I'd be yelling at the kids to stay the hell off of it. Then again, since it's Arizona, if I had a lawn I'd be knocking the little bastards into the cacti. (cactuses. cactoozles.)

The birthday festivities will consist of leftovers, work, and a heating pad and/or ice on my knee. If I can keep the face-to-face human contact down to just my wife, it'll be the best birthday ever.

Monday, January 28, 2008


My 38th year is approaching in a matter of days, and with it are some lovely grey hairs. This is particularly depressing because I shave my head, yet I still have grey hairs. They're on my face, in my oh-so-roguish goatee. I suppose it could be worse, and the grey hairs could be sprouting out of my ears. I'm reasonably certain that my lovely wife would come after me with tweezers, or a match, if that ever happened.

Beyond that, nothing terribly exciting. Working on the shop, avoiding human contact as much as possible... the usual.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I Are Smart

Seeing that, I am reminded that Wile E. Coyote was also a genius, and he couldn't grasp the concept of ordering a friggin' pizza. Of course, with the state of pizza in the desert southwest, I have a greater appreciation of his quest for decent fast food.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Merry New Year

Happy 2008, everyone! Remember that when you write your next check. All the best to the half dozen or so people who read this, and I guess to everyone else as well. (I'm feeling festive.)