Friday, December 5, 2008

Livin' the 00's

Life was roaring in the twenties. The thirties were consumed by the Great Depression. The forties hosted World War II. In the fifties, people started rockin'. The sixties were a blur, from what I've heard. The seventies (when I was born), also birthed the computer. Everyone looks back fondly at the eighties, to memories of big hair and power mullets. I was in my personal prime in the nineties, when pop culture imploded and "alternative" became mainstream. Now, we are quickly approaching 2009, and finishing out yet another decade. So, with that, here's my question:

What exactly do we call this decade?

Following the usual numbering system, I guess it'd be the zeroies, which sounds stupid. Calling it the 2000's seems more suitable for the century, not the decade.

It kinda makes me feel like we're currently in an "indescribable" era, which sucks. We've had some serious crap happen this decade! Fifty years from now, what will people Google to find out about this period we're living RIGHT NOW?

Just seems weird to me. Anybody have any ideas?

Monday, November 24, 2008

God Bless the USA, Part 2

Click here to see Part 1.

News of the $20 billion Citigroup bailout took me back to a phone conversation I had a couple months ago. After moving into my new house, I figured I'd better call Idaho Child Support Services and give them my new address. Following is the phone conversation I had with the operator, as close to word-for-word as I can recall:

"Idaho Child Support Services, this is Myrtle, can I help you?"

"Hi there, Myrtle. I just moved, and figured I better update my address."

"Okay, we can do that. Let me pull up your account here."

Gave her my personal info.

"Wow! It looks like you pay your child support regularly!"

"Ummm... I guess I didn't realize it was optional!"

(laughs)... "Well, it seems to be to some people."

"Well, Myrtle, while I have you on the phone... I wanted to ask about my statements. I stopped receiving them several months ago, and kept asking for one when I sent my check. But, I've never received one."

"Oh, yes. You won't be receiving a statement anymore, because you always pay."


"I guess I'm a little confused."

"New legislation was passed that only allows us to pay for postage on cases that have to be enforced."


"So.... what you're saying, is that as long as I keep paying, I'll never receive a statement?"

"That's correct."




"How come I never received anything letting me know that?"

"We couldn't use government funds to send a notice out, either."



"Well... uh... thanks for your help, Myrtle."

"Thanks for calling."

End of call

Here's how I see it. The government can't afford its own postage to send me a child support statement once a month, of which I always pay. But, it can afford to give Citigroup $20 billion, who in turn junk mails me at least twice a week, which I promptly throw away.


God bless us all. Everyone.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Who Has the Time?

Every year, the holidays bring with them a torrent of "social events". Thanksgiving potlucks, Christmas parties, and gift exchanges. And every year, I watch as people make every excuse possible to NOT attend.

It really kinda bothers me. Yeah, some of the events are cheesy. Yeah, maybe it costs a little more than it should. Yeah, maybe you've already made an appointment to have your back hair removed that night. But, in the back of my mind, I can't help but wonder: Are these people just plain elitist, anti-social, shy... or maybe a little of all the above?

Sorry, but "too busy" doesn't really fly. I'm always incredibly annoyed by people who constantly complain of being "too busy". You're as busy as you make yourself to be. And, you make time for things that are important to you.

Maybe it's because I'm a people person; but I love hanging out with co-workers outside of work. Nobody is truly who they "really are" while chained to a cubicle. Would you rather see elephants in a zoo pen, mindlessly wandering around... or roaming around their natural habitat, where there's noone to feed them or clean up their poop?

I eagerly wait for social events, and will even re-schedule personal conflicts to be able to attend... as opposed to people who schedule personal conflicts for the sole purpose of NOT attending. I mean, I spend more time with these people than anyone. Why wouldn't you want to get to know them better, on a personal level? When they're actually being "real" people?

Maybe some people don't want others to see who (or what) they really are.

And maybe I'm just being overly dramatic about it, cause I'm still waiting to attend a work party like you see in the movies... you know, where everybody is hammered and gets funky in back offices.

So here's to you, Party Poopers. While you're sitting at home watching "It's a Wonderful Life", I'll be livin' it.

Neener neener.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ballad of the Plangineer!

So, my cubicle neighbor O'Malley and I decided to shake things up a bit at the work Halloween potluck. One night while shopping at Value Village in Spokane, I had an idea. You see, he's a Planner, and I review engineering plans. Sometimes, we end up reviewing different aspects of the same project. So, I thought to myself, what if those two things were combined into one person? Voila! The ultimate in municipal efficiency: The Assistant Plangineer!

I have the pleasure of presenting: The Ballad of the Plangineer.

Some of us want to care for the Earth,
And some of us want to move it
So then I want to know how much
And I'm the one that makes you prove it
So you if you want an SHP, BSP or BLA
I wanna see your PGIS, your BMP's and GPA's

When we work together, it's a happy day
Permits get approved
So people can laugh and dance and play
Some might think we're two different things,
But we're really all just the same
Except that I look to the future,
And I think that the present is A-OK.

I measure setbacks and plant some trees
I measure right-of-way and cut down some trees
I make sure that people can park
And I make sure they can drive away
So if you want a DNS on your SEPA
I'll need a Drainage Report that is complete. Ah.

When we work together, it's a happy day
Permits get approved,
So people can laugh and dance and play
Some might think we're two different things,
But we're really all just the same
Except that I look to the future,
And I think that the present is A-OK.

And if we ever get fired...
I guess I'll organize weddings
And I'll go drive a train.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Coming Soon...

The ultimate in municipal efficiency! :)

Friday, October 3, 2008

"I Wish I Could Have Known You, Tree!"

Now, I'm all for being concerned about the environment, but give me a break. They could have at least picked a bigger stump to cry over!

And as with all incredibly ridiculous YouTube videos, here's the parody:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

And the Mastery of the English Language Continues...

Laughing in Paradise

Here's what happens when a motel is run by people who don't fully grasp the english language...

I don't get it. Not sure I want to.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Big or Small?

So, O'Malley and I decided to hit some fast food for lunch today. The place we went to had a... uh... little person working the front counter (isn't "midget" kinda bad to say nowadays?). Anyway, I ordered a soft taco combo, and he asked the inevitable question:

"Do you want it big or small?"

"Oh.... I like it small!"


I couldn't tell which was worse, telling a little person that you "like it small", or being a little person who spends their day asking people if they want it "big or small".

Yes, I know. I overthink things sometimes. :) He was an incredibly nice guy, by the way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Aqua Poo?

So, I'm standing in the checkout line at Wally World the other day, and I notice something on display up ahead...

From a distance, it looked like Aqua Poo. With much confusion, I tried to figure out what Aqua Poo could possibly be.

On closer inspection, I could better read the label... Aqua Pod. They were mini containers of bottled water.

Now, I'm no marketing expert... but why would you label something meant to be "pure" in a fashion that would possibly be construed as exactly the opposite?

It's all about the font, people!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

"The List is Long and Distinguished." Goose, Top Gun

After writing my last post, I feel compelled to write a complete list of all the friends who got me through an incredibly chaotic chapter of my life. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a nickname for anybody who has a positive impact on my life.

Thank you, to everyone. You know who you are.

The Godfather
Sea Bass
Big B
Dr. Allen
Hot Rod
Warren G

The person who got me through the absolute worst time...


And the person who had the biggest part in guiding me back to myself...


Some of the most memorable things said to me by these people:

"You're an honorable man."

"Promise me that when I walk by your desk in the morning, you'll be sitting there."

"Whether you ask him to or not, the Lord will watch over you."

"Here's a card with what to do if you ever lose it and get pulled over drunk."

"You need to be careful. People attach to you, and sometimes end up getting hurt. Without you even knowing it."

"At the lowest point in my life, I asked God for help. That night, my house was broken into. And then my life got better." (I did a similar thing; and that night my car was broken into. And then things got better.)

And probably the most important of all...

"Every person you date, every decision you make, every thing you do... needs to be based on one thing. What's best for your kids."

I think I'm actually going to be okay. It's a good feeling to finally have. :)

Miss Them When They're Big

I always tell my kids that I'll "miss them when they're big." I'll miss them when they're too big to hold. Too big to need instructions. Too big to sleep with me. Too big to jump in the shower with me. Too big to need my help with every little thing.

Too big to think their Daddy is flawless.

I'm likely closing on my new house tomorrow, after spending a year making the best life I possibly could for my kids in my parents' basement. It's one of many long-overdue last steps in a year-long saga, that will most likely be the worst period of my entire life. If not for my parents, family, loyal old friends, and caring new friends, it would have been much worse.

If not for the unconditional love of my children, I possibly would not have survived.

They are alive because of me. And now, I feel I'm alive because of them. I look forward to them continuing to lead me down an unknown path.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ode to Senorita Makita

"Hey man, what are you doing for lunch tomorrow?" Coming from my hippy/granola/cubicle neighbor buddy O'Malley, that usually involves a trip to the organic pet food store. Or a burrito from Taco Bell. Not this time.

"Why do you ask?", I asked.

"Dude! Senorita Makita is going to be at Spokane Power Tool tomorrow. Let's go check it out!"

Senorita Makita? It sounded too goofy to be true. So, I promptly googled "Senorita Makita"... and there she was. In all her tool-belt strapping glory. And in all fairness, there was a Miss Makita as well. Good to know Makita is an equal-opportunity employer.

I don't normally get excited about such things. But, it was funny seeing O'Malley so excited about it. I said "Yeah, for sure! I'm in!" The fact that they were serving free lunch helped.

The next day around noon, we jumped in his Subaru Outback and headed downtown. As soon as we approached Spokane Power Tool, I knew that Senorita Makita must be a big deal. There were hundreds of contractors, laborers, and... uh.... even a couple of "public agency" vehicles parked there. After we parked and got in line, there were... uh... TWO... office guys. Us. Regardless, we were welcomed into the mix.

For a half hour, we stood in line amidst guys looking at tools. Guys talking cool. Guys looking cool. After all, a half hour is not much time to prepare yourself for something as mind-blowing as Senorita Makita. After much patience and self restraint, there she was. I expected her to be posing gorgeously, with high heels and cameras flashing. Instead, she was positioned under an EZ-Up canopy, sitting at a table. She frantically signed posters of herself.

O'Malley was quite smitten. "What's your name?", he asked. It never occured to me that Senorita Makita may not be her given name. O'Malley is one smooth character, I'll give him that. She told us her name. I don't remember what it was. I was too busy thinking about what it would be like to be the focus of attention among hundreds of people... and knowing that every one of them wants to have sex with you. Weird.

Next stop: the food tent, where we had our choice of a BBQ chicken sandwich, a burger, or a giant sausage. I opted for the BBQ chicken, because it seemed a little anti-climactic to "hang" with Senorita Makita... just to be handed a giant sausage.

We got our lunch. O'Malley got his autographed poster. The trip was a success.

So, here's to you, Senorita Makita. May you find happiness among power tools, sharpie pens, and horny men.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Does this mean what I think it says? I'd say North Dakota is pretty loose with the personalized license plates.

I'm sure the intent is not what I'm thinking it is, but I think it's funny regardless.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Brand of Brothers

We'd been sitting around a campfire, talking about it for years.

"We should have a ceremony, where we brand each other!" someone once joked. Over time, the idea was expanded upon... including chants, mantras, and certain... uh... "revealings".

Alcohol has a way of making grown men do strange things. One is drinking Maker's Mark whiskey. Another is drinking Arrogant Bastard Ale. Some are drinking Keystone Light, while others are drinking Pepsi. But, on this particular night, the consumption of spirits was drowned out by an outpouring of loyalty and manliness.

I've been going on yearly camping trips with the same group of guys for around 5 years now. We go up the St. Joe, almost to the Montana border. It's strictly for men only. I guess that's how I know I'm with an older group; I'm still at the age where I'd love to bring a female companion. Apparently, after you reach the ripe age of 50+ something, you take every opportunity to get away from women. So you can do strange things and not get yelled at, I'm guessing.

It's called the "herd" trip. A herd of men, who have all worked together at one time, converge in the wild. And become wild.

During the last trip, while sitting around the fire, one particular member of the herd had a presentation to make. He actually made an honorary branding iron in the shape of elk hooves, complete with a wooden case and a bite stick.

Everyone laughed. "Haha, what a funny idea!" everyone thought.

"I'll do it," I quickly said.

People got a little nervous. I don't think anybody considered that somebody would actually do it. After a moment of silence, C.C. (unofficial dominant male of the herd) proudly proclaimed "Well, I'm going first!"

Amidst stares of disbelief, and with help from the burner of a camp stove, he did. And he said it wasn't that bad. D.W. was next. I was third, and also the last. Surprisingly, it really didn't hurt. It was worse for the brand administrator, who had to watch the receiver's skin crackle and smoke.

Nobody thought any less of those who opted out. I mean c'mon, we were intentionally burning each other. I think being part of the experience was enough for them.

So, now we're a Brand of Brothers. But, after a bit of campfire mischief, I think we realized that we already were. :)

Unfortunately, I flinched a bit when getting mine, so I think it might end up looking like a butt. Although, we were glad the brand's maker didn't put his initials on it: B.J. That wouldn't have been overly manly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


You just have to do your best with the options you're given.

And some things aren't meant for the trash bin, no matter how hard you push.

Reminds me of a couch I once bought for my bedroom at my parents' house. We couldn't get it through the door, so I cut it in half with a chainsaw. Once we got it in, I nailed it back together with some scrap wood and sewed the fabric with fishing line. It was a very punk rock thing to do. Structurally; it never quite worked, there was always a sag right where your butt went. Funny thing is, when I had buddies stay the night... they swore it was incredibly comfortable - for that reason. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Just So You Know...

When I go camping, there's a few things that you will DEFINITELY not see happening with my kids:

1. They will not pee on the picnic table in your campsite.
2. They will not take a dump in front of your tent.
3. I won't stand on the perimeter, giggling at how cute it is that they're fighting in your campsite.
4. I won't chain them outside at 4 in the morning, and let them scream at the top of their lungs.
5. They won't come nose into your food while you're eating dinner.
6. They won't run rampant through your campsite.

Now, if you all could do the same thing with your DOGS, that would be swell. ;)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bite Me, Oil Barons

Buying gas sucks.
Cars are expensive in the first place. When you really think about it, a new car is equivalent to most people's yearly income.

And then there's insurance. What's up with that? It's kinda like giving the neighbor kid money every month, just in case you need him to mow your lawn one day.

Then they breakdown. We won't even get into that.

On top of it all, you gotta keep the damn tank full to keep it going. It's no wonder people pay such close attention to gas prices. Sometimes TOO close attention, I think. It drives me nuts how my Mom will drive across town to save 10 cents a gallon. That's a total savings of about 1 dollar in her car. Yippee.

I've never really got that excited about paying for gas. You gotta do it, right? I don't think the powers-that-be have a bitch gauge out, measuring the complaints from people, and adjusting prices accordingly. Sorry, people.

Granted, I never had to really worry about buying gas. Even when I bought my full-size Chevy pickup, I only had about a mile to drive to work. I filled it up about once a month. I hafta admit, though, I did ride my bike to work occasionally - with kid trailer in tow. But it wasn't about saving gas, it was about exercise.

Times changed.

I took a new job in Washington, with a commute of about 22 miles one way. I suddenly found myself spending 300-400 dollars a month on gas. Plus, I hated the fact that I was putting so many miles on my nice truck. I came very close to bitching about it. Instead, I did something about it.

Say hello to Otis G Mobile #2.

It's an '87 Toyota Tercel. I bought it from a grandma through a guy I know from work for $1,5oo. She only drove it to the doctor and to the store, so in over 20 years she only managed to put 60,000 miles on it. It's boxy. It's not exactly sporty. It doesn't even have a cassette player; AM/FM radio only (that occasionally works). Weirdest part? I love it. I guess that's a sign of getting old, when economy is more important than style.

So, I figure I'm saving at least $200 a month driving it. It'll pay for itself in a few months, but more importantly - I'm not putting miles on my precious truck. It's actually a bit of a treat when I drive my truck now, as it should be.

I wonder if some oil billionaire somewhere is wondering why he's getting $299,800 a month as opposed to $300,000. Probably not. But, at least I know where it is... okay, where the hell is it? Well, you know how that goes. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008


It's interesting what you come across in the months after a divorce.

While getting my camp trailer ready for an upcoming trip, I found this travel Scrabble with an unfinished game. I don't remember who had which rack, but they both had pretty crappy letters left. Not much of a board to work with, either.

I do know that "pique" wasn't a word I laid down. I don't even know what that is; I must have taken her word for it.

I will point out, however, that I was in the lead - 222 to 163. I'll just tell myself that I would have won. :)

A Brand New Brodwater

7 pounds, 15 ounces. Is that big? I've never quite understood why people get so excited about the weight of a baby. Is it a contest? I guess if I was the one pushing it out I'd be more interested in how big it is.

I got to hold my brand new baby niece tonight. So precious, and so fragile. You can't help but be reminded of your own child's birth (especially when it's in the same hospital room). Such an incredible time, something you never forget.

Welcome to the world, Destiny. You're possibly the last newborn addition to my immediate family. Be a baby as long as you can. :)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sugar WAS Poured On Me

So, I survived the Def Leppard concert. A few general observations:

There were HORDES of soccer moms, who apparently see something like this as “girls night out” (not a whole lotta husbands around). Great, good to see them having a good time. But, I gotta say, the outfits probably looked okay in 1987… not so much in 2008. I think many of them now have the cleavage they wish they had in the 80’s (and displayed them proudly), but they also had all the other body features that come with big cleavage (also displayed, but not so proudly).

There was a couple in front of me that brought their pre-teen son. During one of the Def Leppard songs, there was a scantily clad woman portrayed on the gigantic on-stage monitor. The mother, at first, promptly covered her son’s eyes. Eventually, she whisked him away to the concession area. C’mon, lady. We’re talkin’ “Cherry Pie” era here. What did you expect?

I saw many REO Speedwagon tour shirts from the 80’s, which were suspiciously crisp and new. Do these people keep them in a climate-controlled room, just in case a “reunion” tour comes up?

I failed to notice a single mullet. It was disappointing.

As far as the bands themselves…

REO Speedwagon

For whatever reason, I remember these guys as bein’ kinda hippies. Either I was confused, or they’ve decided to rock out. I didn’t think hippies wore leather pants.


I have always, and still do, think this is the dumbest band name ever. It just doesn’t feel right but admittedly; I’m from another era. The highlight? The keyboard was mounted on a makeshift merry-go-round thing, and the dude held on for dear life (and played) while spinning wildly. And, were silver ties ever in style? I missed that one. I was pretty bummed, though, that they didn’t play “Mr. Roboto”. I guess you don’t play the song that tanked the band.

Def Leppard

Their show started with a gigantic British flag on the gargantuan stage monitor. First thought? I guess I never realized they were British. Second thought? Oh yeah, there ARE other countries besides America!

They put on a good show, except that I could tell the lead singer was holding back a bit. I’ve seen better Def Leppard singing in a karaoke bar. Granted, their next tour stop was Las Vegas… better save the voice for the big one! And I think the guitar players work out as much as they play guitar. They were pretty ripped for older dudes.

Regretfully, I didn’t purchase one of their 2008 tour shirts. I guess I’ll be out of luck when the 2028 reunion tour comes around.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pour Some Sugar on Me

A buddy called me last week and proudly proclaimed, "Dude! I've got tickets to Def Leppard, and you're going!" The hearing impaired Leppard will be joined by REO Speedwagon and Styx at the Spokane Arena.

So, I'll hear the classic:

And the ever-popular:

And the best one by far (I had no idea Styx did this song):

Of course, now I'm a little bummed that I chopped off my mullet before it bloomed.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

God Bless the USA

I e-filed my taxes a couple weeks ago. After periodically checking the status, I was pleased to see "direct-deposited" come up. After a week of checking my bank account and finding no such deposit, I was not so pleased. Against my better judgement, I called the IRS "refund hotline". After being on hold for 20 minutes with classical music so loud I think my ear started bleeding, here is the gist of my conversation (and this is for real):

"Internal Revenue Service, Representative # (whatever) here, how may I help you?"

"Yeah, your website says my refund was deposited over a week ago, but it never showed up in my checking account."

"Have you called our refund hotline, sir?"

"I thought that's what this is."

"Oh, okay. Social security number please."

(Gave her my info.)

"It looks like we tried to deposit it, but your bank rejected it. Did you give us the right number?"

"I checked the number several times. I know I put the right one on there."

"Well, we're showing a 5-digit account number."

"Yeah, that's not right. Can we just fix the number so you can try depositing it again?"

"It looks like it's scheduled to be mailed on April 25th."

"Oh, okay. I guess that would be fine."

"We have you down at P.O. Box (whatever)."

"Uhhh.... that can't be right. I've never had a P.O. Box."

"It's in Spirit Lake, Idaho."

"Oh, well, my ex lives in Spirit Lake... but I'm not sure why you would have her address for me."

"Well, let's take a look here... (long pause)... have you done a change of address with the post office recently?"

"Yeah, but not to Spirit Lake! I think she may have done one with my name on it, but I did one too. Can't I just get it mailed to the address on my return?"

"For that, you'd have to fill out change-of-address form 8822 and mail it in."

"I don't want to change my address. I want it mailed to the address on my tax return."

"You'll have to fill out the form, sir, and mail it in."

"By the time I do that and get it to you, it'll probably already be in the mail."

"That's a possibility."

"Are you sure I can't just fix the checking account number?"

"Well, let me check a few things here..." (EXTREMELY long pause)...

"Are you still there?"

"Yes, my computer just locked up."

"Oh, okay." (an even LONGER long pause)....

"Did you get it back up?"

"No, it's locked up, and only a supervisor can unlock it."

"Oh. So where does that leave us?"

"It's getting mailed to P.O. Box (whatever) on April 25th."

"Fine. I guess I'll just call back if my ex doesn't get my refund."

End of transmission.

I love how the government takes something that already sucks and makes it as complicated as possible. Crap, I keep forgetting - I work for the government. Never mind.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Party on, Room 1117

I took my engineer-in-training exam on Saturday. It was at the Spokane Convention Center, where about 150 other wannabe engineers converged for 8 hours of head scratching. Do I think I passed? I'm not sure. The morning session felt pretty good, the afternoon not so good. It didn't help that I had 2 hours of sleep the night before.

Yeah. 2 hours. In the book of practice problems for the exam, it suggests getting a hotel room near the test site. That way, you don't hafta worry about parking, and I thought it would be nice to get a good nights sleep. No such luck.

I spent most of Friday afternoon in a room at the downtown Ridpath, doing some last minute studying and enjoying the view from the 10th floor. I had a friend talk me into going to The Onion for dinner, and got back to the hotel a little after 9. Plenty of time to get a good nights sleep, so I thought.

Turns out, the people upstairs (in room 1117) didn't have a test to take. They got a room for one reason, apparently - to party. I could hear every detail of every stupid, drunken conversation they had. I laid awake most of the night, tempted to call the front desk... but I kept figuring they'd pass out. They finally did, around 4 in the morning. So, 2 hours later, my alarm went off. I figured I was screwed.

Surprisingly, after some coffee and a disgusting gas station sandwich, I was ready to go. The morning was fine. The afternoon sucked. I was exhausted.

Later that night, I waited for the elevator in the hotel lobby. There was a twenty-something girl standing there, also waiting to get on the elevator. When we got in, she sweetly asked:

"What floor are you on?"

"10", I replied. I glanced over as she pushed the 10 button, and noticed that the 11 button was also lit. I couldn't resist asking.

"You're not in room 1117, are you?"

"Yes. Oh God! Were we too loud last night? It's my aunt's room, and she got a little crazy!"

I pondered my response for a moment. I wanted SOOOO bad to say:

"Yeah, actually you were VERY loud. I got a room here just so I could get a good night's sleep, prior to taking an 8 hour exam that I've spent months preparing for. Thanks to you guys, I got around 2 hours, and possibly bombed it."

But, I couldn't do it. I could tell she was genuinely concerned about the whole thing, so I simply replied:

"Nah, it's okay. Sounded like you guys were having a good time. At least tonight I'll know to expect it." Right about then we reached the 10th floor. I smiled as I stepped out, and she smiled back.

I stayed awake until about 3 am watching a poker tournament on TV, figuring I wouldn't be able to sleep again. Funny thing is, room 1117 was dead silent.

All night. :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'll Be Back

Sorry about the hiatus, folks. My engineering exam is coming up and I've been pretty busy trying to prepare. I'll be back next week.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

67 Million Simple Rules

Awhile back I watched Micheal Moore's latest documentary, "Sicko". I've always enjoyed his documentaries, knowing full well he does somewhat "skew" things. Regardless, watching this film will piss you off. But, I think Micheal Moore's appeal is his ability to talk about very controversial subjects, in a way that makes you laugh. Here's a trailer for "Sicko". One of my favorite parts is when President Bush tells a woman that she's a "great American" because she works three jobs:

There is one thing, however, that Michael Moore doesn't really address in the movie. I'm pretty sure that one of the major contributors to outrageously priced healthcare is frivolous malpractice lawsuits. Case in point? Amy Yasbeck, wife of late actor John Ritter.

Most people know that John Ritter (one of the founding fathers for Menage a Trois), died awhile back from aortic disease. His family decided he died unnecessarily, and sued a Burbank hospital. As a result, they received around $14 million in settlements. Now, you'd think that would be more than enough for most people to retire on. Not for Miss Yasbeck.

She REALLY wanted to teach that pesky cardiologist who treated Mr. Ritter a lesson. So, someone (duh, her lawyer) figured how much "earnings" the family lost out on because of his death. In the neighborhood of... oh.... $67 million. Although, she did pledge to use some of the proceeds to further the publics knowledge of "aortic diseases". I've been checking my mail, and wondered why I haven't seen anything yet.

Turns out, the doctors did end up getting cleared of any wrongdoing. Unfortunate for Miss Yasbeck, incredibly fortunate for the general hospital-going public. You see, if she had won, the doctor wouldn't be footing the bill. His malpractice insurance would. Which is why malpractice insurance is so expensive. Which is why the doctor who delivered my son, couldn't deliver my daughter. His malpractice insurance became prohibitively expensive. Largely, I'm sure, due to stupid lawsuits. And who ends up paying more for all of this?

We do.

Are there crappy doctors out there? Yeah. Should they be held accountable? Yeah. Should people screw the public out of their own personal grief and/or greed? HELL no.

So, next time you're deathly ill and debating whether or not to spend the money on a doctor, think of Miss Yasbeck. How should anyone be expected to "go on" with a few paltry millions?

But, my biggest beef in all of this - Michael Moore is filthy rich. I think it's time he looked into a personal trainer. :)

Monday, March 17, 2008


Over the weekend, I watched the entire first season of the Showtime series "Weeds". It's the only other TV show I've watched besides "The Office" that actually makes me laugh out loud. The series follows a soccer mom in a California suburb who decides to sell pot after her husband dies of a heart attack.

It's crude. It's obnoxious. It's extremely non-P.C. But above all, it's brilliantly written. I even love the intro song:

What really weirds me out is how one of the kids on the show was the voice of "Nemo". Strange, because he says very non-Nemo things.

Are you out there, Brent? Have you seen this show? If not, you need to. You'll love it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Lightning Crashes

I stumbled across this video on YouTube the other day, and I couldn't believe that I'd somewhat forgotten about this particular song. I thing it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For the Love of Guns

Most of my friends growing up had guns. I lived in North Idaho, after all. I remember going to see buddies at Post Falls High School, and several of the trucks in the parking lot had hunting rifles in the back window. I even remember a teacher wanting to check one of the guns out, so he had the student bring it into the school. And the time someone brought their gun to class as part of a project they were working on.

It was all so innocent.

My Dad wasn't a hunter. He was a microbiologist. We didn't go tromping around in the woods, except to get firewood. And we didn't have guns.

When I went to Marine Corps boot camp, people were amazed by the fact that I was from North Idaho -and had never shot a gun. It seemed like most of the guys there grew up hunting, and playing football. I played trombone in the pep band. Trust me, I often wondered how I ended up joining the Marines myself.

A couple years ago, I had a neighbor ask me if I wanted to buy a gun. I actually had thought about buying a pistol, just for taking camping to shoot at cans. He had a semi-automatic Smith & Wesson .22 pistol, that had a 12 round clip. The price seemed right (like I would know!), so I decided to buy it.

At first, it made me really nervous. I kept it in a high cupboard out in the garage, and stored the ammo somewhere else. Some people thought it was strange that I wouldn't keep it loaded next to the bed. I didn't see any reason to, other than to make it easily accessible for the kids.

I occasionally took it in the woods, and did just what I bought it for - shot at beer cans. It was fun, but I didn't have any urge to go buy 10 more guns. It's still the only gun I've ever owned.

A few weeks ago, I had someone offer to make me a holster for my pistol as a birthday present. I'm always cool with handmade gifts, and I needed a holster anyway. I sent the gun his way. What I got back is nothing short of amazing. (Click on the pictures for a closer view).

This thing is totally custom made for my gun. The leather was wetted, stretched, and clamped around the gun itself. The stitches were done by hand, and the belt slits were given much consideration so it wouldn't "bottom out" if I sat down with it on. It's given me a whole new appreciation for guns in general.

I love the way it fits so tightly, but the pistol slides right out. The retainer snap is easily undone with a flick of my thumb. I can't help but strap this sucker on, and see how fast I can draw, like I'm in the Wild West.

Someday, when my kids are older, I'll probably take them out shooting. In the world we live in, I want them to understand, appreciate, and fear what guns are capable of. If they're interested, I might even learn to hunt - with them. I don't really have anything against hunting, I just wasn't raised to understand it. Maybe there will be a time with my kids.

I'll probably need something bigger than my .22 pistol, though. I better get more guns.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Clock-Setting Woes

It happens every year at this time.

We've all got a plethora of clocks to change, due to the "spring-forward" time change. Shouldn't be that big of a deal. THEN WHY IS IT?!?

I have a nice Kenwood stereo in my truck. I bought it because it has a USB port, where I can plug in a 4 gigabyte flash drive. I've got like 80 of my favorite albums on there, that I can quickly pick and choose from. And, I don't hafta worry about it skipping, I don't hafta change CD's while driving, etc. It's awesome.

Setting the clock? Not so awesome.

EVERY time I go to adjust the time, I need the manual to do it. I think that's crap. What's so hard about putting a "clock" button on there, alongside a "hour" and "minute" button? I think most people could figure that out. But no. Press the MENU button. Click the control knob up 3 times, then hold for 1 second. Now that I've typed it, it seems simple. It's just not something I feel necessary to commit to memory, considering I do it twice a year.

I'm sure you've all had similar frustrations with other electronics, like clock radios. I bought a super-cool one, that had a CD player so I could wake up to my own music. Problem was, I never really did take the time to figure out how to use it. The buttons on it made no sense at all. Everytime I tried to set the alarm, the "NAP" function would come on, with the radio blaring. And I had no idea how to turn it off. It wasn't something I cared to take the time to figure out.

People always wonder why it is that kids seem to understand electronics. I've finally realized why that's true. They have the time to screw around with it. I just want the stupid thing to work, without spending an hour researching it. :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I recently got a "Healthier at Home: The Proven Guide to Self-Care & Being a Wise Health Consumer" book in the mail. It's basically a home health guide, provided free-of-charge from my health insurance company, Group Health. At first, I was excited to have such a thing. I've never had one before. I did realize after thumbing through it, however, that the key phrase in the title is "self-care". It's fairly obvious to me that the books intent is to make people more informed about minor health issues, so you don't run to the doctor for every stupid thing. After all, it's provided by a health insurance company. My favorite section? Flatulence. For those who are uninformed:

6 to 20 times a day? Whoa! I started thinking, do I fart that much everyday? I hope not. It must be while I'm sleeping. Yeah. And I've always wondered what that "foul odor" was a symptom of. Now I know!

So, what does the book prescribe for self-care/prevention of flatulence? It says try not to swallow air, add fiber gradually, use Gas-X, blah blah blah... but the best option by far:

Bingo. You just saved a trip to the doctor! And forget the embarrassment... going to another room benefits us all!

Thank you, Group Health. Armed with my little self-care book, I'll never go to the doctor again. :)

Sunday, March 2, 2008


I bought this poster for my basement bar a few years ago. I've always been a fan of 40 ounce malt liquor (hence my band's name - 40 ounce J), and found the caption to be kinda funny:


Interesting, how something bought out of whimsy can suddenly become the anthem of your life.

I'll drink a 40 to that. And pour out a little for all my homies along the way.

Friday, February 29, 2008

11 Month Anniversary?

A little under a year ago, my five year old son decided he wanted a mohawk. I was a somewhat reluctant at first. Would it be wrong to chop the locks of such a cute little kid? Especially right before Easter? Nope. Hair is a renewable resource (well, at least when you're little). And he'd been asking me for quite some time. You see, he wanted to be a little punk rocker - like his Dad. At least that's what I told myself. So I did it, and he loved it. Today, my friends, we celebrate this momentous occasion: my son's First Mohawk.

Makes me wish I'd taken a picture of him with his First Mullet...

There's only one video that illustrates the excitement of this event:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

So Much For My "Place of Tranquility"!

For anyone that saw my first post on here, "Such is Life", they read about this special place I found near some bridges in Montana. When I was returning from Montana last weekend, I considered stopping to show the kids. I didn't, but glanced over as we drove by on the freeway. I noticed an odd-looking truck parked on the bridge. I didn't think much of it.

Well, I just found out that my "special place" was the site for a body dumping last week. The dude ended up turning himself in. I think that truck I saw was part of a search operation. Check it out at the Missoulian here.

I guess it's a good thing I didn't take the kids down there. And so much for serenity. Such is life. :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

3 Hours in One Minute

I have a fascination with time-lapse photography. One of my favorite parts of "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition" is when they have that one shot of the house being built - In a matter of seconds.

Awhile back I got the k'nex "Serpent's Spiral" for my son. As we started building it, I realized it would be a pretty good subject for a time-lapse movie. So, after 3 hours of building, I compressed the video down to around a minute. Not quite "Extreme Makeover" cool, but still kinda cool.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Winner! - Crappiest Kid's Meal Toy Ever

Any parent knows the drill. Kids love fast food. It's ingrained into their DNA from childbirth. Our kids know Ronald McDonald as well as we knew Joe Camel. Except Ronald is still legal. Oops. I'm getting off track here.

I've always wondered - is it more the food, or the toy that comes with the meal that excites kids? I remember getting Happy Meals, and not really caring about the food. I just wanted that toy. One time, I got a "Stomper" truck (remember those?) that I played with for years. I also remember getting pretty cool Lego sets, that now would probably cost $19.99 at the store.

You see it all the time. Parents frustrated with their kids, because they're playing with the toy instead of eating.

I never let my kids have the toy until they're done. Seems pretty simple to me. But, I always peek in the bag and say "Whoa! You guys are sure in for a surprise... when you're done!" You always want to encourage your kids to finish their food, even when it's incredibly unhealthy. I guess.

Today, I had a hard time doing that. The kids both got a Kids Meal from a mall Dairy Queen. It included a hot dog, bag of chips, milk, even a coupon for a dessert when they're done. And the toy? Well, you've just got to see for yourself:

A tarantula? And a beetle? They were both made of extremely hard plastic. And, they both looked like they were dead. Good times!

The kids looked at me with confused, disappointed eyes. My son, for the first time ever, asked:

"What is it supposed to do?"

I wasn't sure what to tell him. I gave them their coupons for their treat, hoping they'd forget about the creepy things and move on with their lives.

With Dilly Bars in hand, they seemed unscathed. Better luck next time. :)

Although, now that I think about it, there was that miniature stuffed oven mitt from Arby's a few years back... that was pretty bad, too.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thoughts From the Freeway

The left-most lane on a freeway is the “pass” lane. It’s not the “Sunday drive” lane. If you’re in it, you should be passing someone. If you’re not, get the hell out of the way.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people weaving around traffic at high-speed… just to end up right in front of me at the exit stop light. Way to save time there, jackass!

When you’re merging onto the freeway, YOU need to yield. If people move over to let you on, that sure is nice of them. If not, slow down or speed up to stay out of their way. Don’t just casually slide over, expecting everyone to clear a hole for you. Especially when it’s a big truck you’re merging into.

Speaking of big trucks, give those guys a break. It’s a good bet they’re a better driver than you are. It’s also a good bet that in a collision, you will lose. Give ‘em some space and respect. I see them do it all the time.

When I see a car plastered with religious bumper stickers, I don’t think “Wow. What a dedicated Christian!” I usually think about WJWD (What Jesus Wouldn’t Do). If Jesus had a car, I highly doubt it would have any cheesy bumper stickers on it.

If you STILL smoke in the car with your kids, you’re a lazy, selfish moron. That, more than anything, puts visions of road rage in my head.

If you and another car pull up to a four-way stop at the same time, the person on the RIGHT is supposed to go. If you are the person on the right, don’t confuse everything by waving the other person on. Know that you have the right-of-way, and commit. (This has nothing to do with the freeway, but I had to throw it in cause it drives me insane).

One of my favorite things to do on the freeway is to randomly wave at people. At first, they look at you intently to see if they recognize you (they wouldn’t want to wave to someone they don’t know!) More times than not, they just ignore you. Kinda sad, I think.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

She's a Good Ship... Fortunately

Update: I guess I better clarify here. This is not a "body of water". It's a low spot at the local sledding hill. I walked across it in my Sorels without getting wet.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Lost - The Serious Seinfeld

I'm not much of a TV person. I would much rather watch movies that sitcoms. I think part of it is knowing that if I watch one episode, I might get sucked in and get stuck watching it every week - usually feeling like I should be doing something else.

When the show "Lost" first came out, I constantly heard people at work talking about it. A bunch of people stuck on an island? Sounded lame. I had already burned out on Survivor - and didn't Gilligan kinda cover that in the 60's?

I ended up giving it a go, and like everyone else... found myself wanting to know what would happen next to those poor saps. The story itself kinda drove me nuts... but I dug the whole "sci-fi" aspect of it. I did like the episode where they found the Volkswagen full of beer and got it fired up:

My favorite episode, though... the HATCH (click on the picture at left for a more detailed view). What a killer season ender. And then, the whole continuing saga of what happens in the hatch. I think that was the most brilliant part of the whole series.

I'm not sure what my deal is with clearance-priced pop-culture toys lately (see My Own Personal Elvis here), but I came across this baby in the music store at the Valley mall. Marked down from $29.99 to.... $11.99! I couldn't resist. It was just too damn cool.

Here's a miniature Jack, Locke, Kate, and Hurley peering down the chasm of what is the hatch. The detail is actually pretty good, for a crappy mall store diorama. There's a switch that makes the hatch hole light up (for extra dramatic effect!) It even came with a fake jungle photo background. What will I do with it? Hell if I know. Wait... I'm doing a blog about it.... that counts as something!
After the hatch blew up (on the show, not mine!), my interest in "Lost" mostly blew up with it. I started to realize something EXTREMELY annoying about the show - nothing ever seemed to get resolved. It had these incredibly dark, deep plots - that were never fully explained. They just seemed to continuously get deeper. (I felt the same way about the show "Alias", by the way). It started reminding me of Seinfeld, in how it was kind of a "show about nothing". Except, it wasn't in a funny way. It was in a jam-a-fork-in-your-eyeball frustrating way.

I heard someone talking about "Lost" at work yesterday. I didn't even know it was still on. Maybe I'll catch an episode in my "free" time (what's that?). I'm thinking they're probably... still on the island?

For the last episode of the series, they should find a 70 year-old Gilligan in the jungle. Now THAT would be something. :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Back To School

When I took a new job last summer, it came with a condition - that I pass the F.E. (Fundamentals of Engineering) exam before the end of 2008. The F.E. exam is the first step towards getting a P.E. (Professional Engineer) license. Most engineers take the F.E. exam right after graduating with a bachelors' degree. You know, when the stuff is still fresh.

I started college back in the fall of 1993. I was never meant for higher education, considering I barely finished high school. After going through Marine Corps boot camp (which I did because I had nothing better to do), I realized something. There was this little thing called the G.I. Bill, where the government sent me a check - for being in college. What the hell, I figured. I'm down with free money (especially from the government), so I enrolled at North Idaho College.

I had absolutely no direction in what I was supposed to do. I was a band geek in high school, so I decided that was a good place to start. I majored in music for two years - long enough to realize that wasn't what I wanted to do. I also realized I was STILL a horrible student. So what did I do? Switched majors to engineering. Brilliant.

No exaggerating here... I took almost every class twice before I passed it. And I emphasize PASS. There was a time when my GPA was like a 1.0 or some god-awful thing like that. I actually got a letter from the government saying if I didn't bring up my grades I'd hafta pay the money back. Crap.

Like many, I ended up getting serious with a girl while going to school. That was enough to make me realize I better get my shit together. So I scraped by enough to graduate, with an Associate of Science degree (it only took me 5 years!) I got my diploma and never looked back.

Now, I'm getting ready to take an exam that covers all those topics I took around 10 years ago. In preparation, I signed up for an evening "refresher" course at Gonzaga University a couple times a week. I showed up the first night, completely stressed out. Would I remember anything?

Luckily, it hasn't been that bad. I'm realizing I'm not nearly as stupid as I thought I was. So far, I'm finding everything to be pretty familiar - not bad, considering I was usually hungover when I took the classes back then. Well... when I showed up, that is. The weirdest part? I seem to be one of the "old" guys in the class. Funny, I don't remember getting old...

Wish me luck. My exam is in April.

And just so you know, I'm not the only person in the class. I always show up a little early, so I can study a bit before the professor comes in. Times sure do change.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Attack of Boozilla... Almost

At last summers' Post Falls Day Parade, I took some random video footage with a little video project in mind. As we sat there watching from the curb, I had this vision of a giant "Godzilla" suddenly appearing, wreaking havoc on the parade.

I've had some limited success in using the "keying" effect on my video software. For those that don't know, keying is what you call using a "green screen" in the background, so you can superimpose shots over one another. It's how meteorologists put themselves over a map in the background.

One time, I used a green blanket background to insert someone into a 80's music video. It worked okay, but I needed something bigger so I could get a full person in the shot. I noticed my software also has a "blue screen" option, so I thought that maybe I could use a big blue tarp. As you'll see, it didn't work so well. There's too many wrinkles and shadows, so I couldn't fully key out the background. The lighting was also wrong, so the characters ended up fading out too much. With every success there's failure, right? I'll keep working on it.

So, here's the work in progress. "Boozilla" comes on screen to attack, and the "Goo Ranger" comes in to stop him. I still plan on working on it - I'm thinking about going to a fabric store to try and find some fabric in that weird green color. Of course, the finished "film" will be here first (I know you can't wait!) :)

Update: During a "green screen" google search, I came across this fancy little suit. I could have all kinds of fun with this sucker! Too bad it's $225.

Although, maybe if I found the fabric, my Mom could whip something like this up...

Are you reading this, Mom?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Going Down... With Help

Big brothers can be a pain. They don't like pink. They steal your covers. They want their Dad to read an Arthur book, while you want to read a princess book. They forget how little you are, and sometimes hurt you by playing too rough. Yes, big brothers are nothing but trouble.

But more times than not, they're at your side making sure you're okay.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My Own Personal Elvis

When Nirvana first came out, it was a huge deal for me. I went through most of my teen years listening to my brother's buttrock music. It consisted of Quiet Riot, Ratt, and various other big hair, exposed chest, tight leather pants bands. I liked the heavy guitar, but I always thought the singing was weird and the lyrics too cheesy.

"Smells Like Teen Spirit", Nirvana's breakout single, grabbed me like nothing else before. Here was some freakishly skinny dude, wailing on a guitar who didn't seem to care if he made mistakes or not. Yup. Pretty much where I was at in life at the time.

Kurt Cobain was really nobody special. He never wanted to be a big deal. He was just a loner from Aberdeen who had something to say, and the world embraced him. A little too hard, it turned out. Kurt ended up shooting himself in his garage.

He left a note, the text of which is here, and a picture of here. I'll never forget his famous last words, "It's better to burn out than to fade away."

I found this little action figure of Kurt at Spencer's Gifts in the Spokane Valley mall recently. It's a pretty good likeness, and even included a chunk of the gym floor from the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video. It was not prominently displayed. In fact, it was clearance priced for $5.98 (marked down from 20-something dollars). I wondered what Kurt would think about being clearance priced, in a shopping mall novelty store.
Would that be considered "burning out", or "fading away"?
Peace out, Kurt.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

One of the Girls

With the coming of my recent birthday, I was a little melancholy. In another life, I was used to my birthday being surrounded with much fanfare. It always included awesome gifts and/or a huge party. I knew that wasn't going to be the case this year. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure if that was a good or a bad thing.

One my co-workers, Micki, asked me a couple weeks previous if I would like to go out to lunch with her the day before my birthday. I gladly accepted. As the days went by, I had other friends at work ask me what I was doing for my birthday. I just said, "Micki is taking me out, but I'm sure you could come." I expected Micki would arrange for other people to come, also. On the big day, Micki came to my cubicle.

"Are you ready?" she asked. I kinda looked around, expecting there to be a crowd.

"Is anyone else coming?" I asked.

"Nope. It's just you and me." She replied.

For a split second I was a little bummed. But then I thought about it. I love Micki, she had kind of been my "mother from another mother" during a pretty hard time in my life. Just the two of us having lunch actually sounded good that day. We headed over to the La Milpa mexican restaurant next to our office. I can't believe I didn't even think about what was going on.

As we walked in, I was pleasantly surprised to see a big crowd waiting for me. I was a little puzzled, though, as I realized something - there wasn't a single dude there. I was in for quite a surprise.

I have a habit of greeting women at work with "Yeah, girlfriend!" Not in a "you're my girlfriend" way, but in a horribly-done ebonics way. Like we're all sisters in the 'hood. I guess it's just an Otis G thing. You know, seein' as how I'm a gangsta and all.

Anyway, the aforementioned women decided it was time for me to truly become one of the "girlfriends". They took it upon themselves to gather up a collection of "feminine" supplies, that I'd need on the road to womanhood. This included women's razors, bath gels, soaps, shower caps, heel files... and a "Life's Instruction Book For Women" book. I even got my own purse made out of bubble wrap and rubber bands, filled with my favorite gummy treats. I was truly honored. So I thought it was only appropriate to honor the "cast and crew" of this little venture, starting on the left in the back going counter-clockwise:

Darla, who will work any department, as long as it starts with a P
Inga Binga, who is truly concerned about how long people sit at red lights
Mrs. Incredible, with or without the costume
Deanna, who could take out Crocodile Dundee with a hole punch
Mary Kate and Ashley, supplier of exotic string cheeses (and bailed before the picture was taken)
Roxanne, who I can't help but poorly sing The Police song to
Prestigious, who I think maybe hates that I call her that
JJ, thrower of fake moustache parties
Amber, who is going to be a movie star someday - or at least in an Olive Garden commercial
Tricia, who was my friend when I wasn't sure if I had any (and hates nicknames, much to my dismay)
Micki, who I'll someday sing karaoke with at the next Otis G's Lower Level
Otis G, oblivious
Aleeeesa, who by getting pregnant provided me (and her) a new life
Peppermint Patty, who catches my mistakes before anyone else sees them
Krystal Ball, master of glue-laminated beams (in available sizes)
Carolyn, who would have a corner office, if it wasn't a cubicle

Thanks, girlfriends. Although, I hafta admit - I looked through my new "instruction" manual for women. I had a pretty good laugh when I read:

"You must be intimate with yourself before you can be intimate with others."

Sorry ladies. After all, I'm just a guy. :)