Monday, December 29, 2003

Vacation speed bump

I've been off for six days, so one would think that I'd have returned to the office today refreshed and ready to work. Instead, I'm lethargic. I'm only here for a single day before disappearing for another four or five days. I feel like I should have just called in sick.

It doesn't help any that I feel like I've been poked in the eye. What the hell kind of ailment is that?

Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Friday Sunday Five

I've been meaning to jump on the Friday Five bandwagon for a while now. A few weeks ago, I even typed up my answers to the series, but when I tried to post the text was lost, so I gave up, exasperated. For the next couple weeks, the questions were things I wasn't interested in writing about.

This week, though, questions are easy, so I'll try again. Of course, it's Sunday now, but (as with most things) I procrastinated.

1. List your five favorite beverages.
orange juice
white cranberry juice

2. List your five favorite websites. (I'm no fool — they pay the bills)
Amazon (for shopping and as a resource)
Quicktime Movie Trailers (far better quality than RealPlayer)
The Onion

3. List your five favorite snack foods.
(Note that this is favorite snack foods, not favorite junk foods — otherwise it would pretty much be all chocolate.)
pastry (numerous varieties)
granola bars dipped in peanut butter
canned fruit with cottage cheese
animal crackers

4. List your five favorite board and/or card games.
Scrabble (though I always lose)
Hi-Q (a jumping pegs game)

5. List your five favorite computer and/or game system games.
Super Mario 64 (N64)
Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
The Secret of Monkey Island (PC)
Wipeout (PS1)
Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC) (my current addiction)

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Frodo hates me

I had the day off, and yet I didn't see Return of the King yesterday. Instead, I sat on the couch and played Zelda from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (when Misty came home and made me turn it off).

I know, I know... I should be ashamed of myself.

Monday, December 15, 2003


Fellow comic geeks, put some newspaper down underneath where you're sitting, and click here.


Blog hazards

Earlier this month, Cap'n Ken's blog was discovered by his employer (who the Cap'n refers to in his blog as WMBIC — World's Most Boring Internet Company). Luckily, he didn't get reprimanded too harshly.

Other's aren't always so lucky...

Last year the author of Dooce was fired for content in her personal blog.

The same thing happened to the author of Geekly.

And, of course, there was that high-profile story a couple months ago about Michael Hanscom getting fired by Microsoft over a post in his blog, eclecticism.

Just do a Google search for "fired for blog," and you'll find plenty more, too.

It's risky, yet we keep on doing what we're doing. Some people try to avoid mention of names and specifics, but doing so doesn't always help.

I've always been open about who I am and who I work for. It's too difficult for me to write otherwise. I remember in high school when my senior English teacher was trying to break us of the notion that you shouldn't use the word "I" in your writing. She said, "All you know is what you know. Of course you should use the word 'I'." I think the same applies here. If I used code names for the people I write about, I fear reading would become cumbersome. Nevertheless, some bloggers manage to pull it off. The author of Screaming Bean does such a good job with ambiguity that I don't even know if Beanie is a man or woman.

I certainly understand others who want to maintain annonymity. I have a hard time doing it though, so I just don't bother. If people find me they find me. I'm listed in the phone book, and I walk around in broad daylight, too. I'm not hiding anything.

Early on I shared my blog with my family, my friends, my co-workers, and my boss so I'd have no worries about them stumbling upon it later. With my co-workers, especially, it's likely someone would have found my blog on their own. The folks at are, after all, a pretty web-savvy bunch. This way though, I know they know about my blog, and if I say anything about them, I know they might read it. As such, my writing is, of course, effected. I censor myself to some degree.

Is self-censorship a bad thing? That depends on who I'm writing this for. If I'm writing it just for me, it's bad. But then, why am I publishing my words on the Internet? If I'm writing it for the unknown masses, sensorship could be a negative element. But would I really want to pour my heart out to strangers? If I'm writing it for my friends and family, however, the smart thing to do is to curb certain words and topics.

What it boils down to is that I don't write anything here about someone that I wouldn't say to them personally. For the most part, I'm straightforward (blunt) with people anyway, so I don't feel like I have to hold back too much. Of course my company does things that piss me off. The same goes for my family. But I like them both a lot more often than I dislike them. I also know the difference between things that are appropriate for public discussion and things that are not. Or at least, I think I do. People get fired for some funny things.

(Ken, Cindy... Please disregard the time stamp on this post. I might mention occasionally, but I'd never blog on company time.)

The joys of pet ownership

Today didn't start well. I woke to the sound of one of the dogs vomiting — on the bed. From the stench, I guessed she'd been eating her own poop again. As I got up to clean the mess, I stepped in a wet spot. Another of the dogs had peed on the floor next to the bed.

On the bright side, I'm getting good practice for when our baby arrives.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Labeling music

Over at This Guy Falls Down, Marc (of the band Third Day) was talking about the definitions of Christian and secular music this week. He raises an intersting question: What makes something "Christian" music vs. "secular" music?

Is it the artist identifying himself as a Christian? If that's the case, the Christian music section at the CD store needs to be a lot bigger.

Is it the artist making frequent references to God in his lyrics? If so, U2 is the world's most popular Christian band.

The usual assumption seems to be that signing to a Christian label defines an artist as "Christian." But what about when that artist signs to another label? Does that undo their "Christian band" status?

The same sort of problems creep up when you try to ask "What makes an artist 'alternative'?" or "What makes a song a 'pop' song?" The answers tend to contradict one another.

We work so hard to categorize everything for fear that we might otherwise accidentally listen to the wrong sort of music. Because God forbid a self-proclaimed rock fan accidentially listen to a fast-paced Dixie Chicks song without realizing it was actually country music.

Maybe Nick Hornby is right, and it's all just pop music.

Instead of worrying about the categories, though, try this: Listen to a band or album or song because you like its music — not because you like its supposed type of music. By dropping our musical biggotry we might find a lot more out there that we enjoy.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Can't... move... belly... too... full...

Having just returned from Bombay Café for our company's annual holiday lunch, I am too stuffed to do any real work. I ate baked stuffed artichoke bottoms with lump crab meat; pumpernickel bread; a house salad with sliced driscoll strawberries, mandarin oranges, and honey roasted almonds topped with raspberry vinaigrette; grilled yellow fin grouper with butter pecan sauce; and peanut butter pie with chocolate grenache.

I figured that I'd better eat as much as I could, because I probably won't be eating dinner tonight. Bombay Café is Misty's favorite restaurant, and she was none too happy that I'd be dining there this afternoon without her. My guess is she'll exact her revenge tonight by not cooking dinner or cooking something I hate.

(and no comments about how I "expect" Misty to cook dinner — she cooks and I do a lot of the other household chores — we like it that way)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Checking it twice

I am a chronic procrastinator. One of my advisors in college used to claim that she deserved tenure for getting me to turn in my thesis on time. When it comes to buying Christmas gifts, I'm almost always lagging behind. I used to go shopping on December 23 each year. The malls were certainly less crowded by then, at least. Last year, I was even later than usual. I think I sent Christmas gifts out some time after New Year's.

This year, though, I've somehow managed to keep on top of things. I have almost finished with my Christmas shopping. I've never been this far ahead of the deadline. Aside from the stress this route is saving me, I'm also enojying watching Misty scramble as she is just beginning her quest.

My only roadblock this year has been my brother. He's the only person on my list that I've yet to finish with. Usually he's the easiest one for me to buy for, but this year I haven't a clue what to get for him. He's getting married soon, so I'd like to give him something practical that he can use in that regard — something more along the lines of linens rather than a video game — but that's not quite my area of expertise, nor, I imagine, is it his. Such decisions are likely to be deferred to his fiancée. To complicate things further, he'll be moving to a new city soon too (when and where also depend on his fiancée — she's the doctor), so I don't want to give him yet another thing he'll have to pack up and move. Are you reading this, Dork Boy? What do you want for Christmas?

Trapped in a Dr. Pepper bottle

If you pay attention to the "upcoming distractions" list in the sidebar, you may have noticed that "Martin Biscuit Day" has changed several times. It just changed again, in fact.

Martin Biscuit Day is what I'm calling the day when my company finally moves into its new office in the Martin Biscuit Co. building. Nearly every day for the past couple weeks we've been told that we're moving tomorrow. Yet every day, tomorrow has remained one step ahead of us.

Our original move date was September 1. Apparently, that date referred to 2004.

We had a company meeting this morning where our CEO explained reasons for the various delays and thanked us for our patience. Guess when she anticipates we'll move. Did anyone guess "tomorrow?" Needless to say, I'm dubious.

Not to give the wrong impression — the constant delays aren't really a problem. It's just amusing how often our move has been put on hold. It would be nice to finally get this project completed and be able to work with the whole staff again. In the meantime though, I'm fine in my little temp office.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Dear Santa, please bring me a dictionary.

This month, as with every Christmas season, we've been posting letters to Santa on It's intended for kids, but inevitably, we get even more submissions from adults. I always get a kick out of the adults who write in — usually asking for a new football coach for Alabama or Auburn.

Today we received this letter:
dear santa,
for christmas this year i would like to get accepted to college. i have applied to NYU and i am waiting for their responce. if you can find it, in your overwieght heart to let me be excepted i would appreciate it. o yeah! this year im guna leave just carrot sticks, bc santa face it, your fat and im sure your chlosteral is way too high and your guna become sick or even have a stroke. if you need help with your physical theropy to lose weight and keep your arteries clean come to RPM! we will be happy to help you with your physical theropy needs

Age: 17

I'm sorry to tell you, buddy, but not only is Santa going to leave you coal with that kind of attitude, but if this letter is indicative of your usual writing style, you ain't gettin' into NYU, neither.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Better than a full-sized spare

Does your car offer this option?

(link via Cap'n Ken's Homespun Wisdom)

Patriot Day

Misty and I were talking last night about how we both hate the term "9-11." I don't like referring to that particular day as "September 11th," either. My reason is that it's not specific enough. The terrorist attacks took place on September 11, 2001 — not every September 11.

Nevertheless, nearly everyone uses such terminoligy when referring to the incidents of that day. How else are we going to say it? We can't very well call it "the day of the terrorist attacks." That doesn't quite pinpoint what we're talking about. Some people refer to it as the day of the World Trade Center attacks, but that's irresponsible, I think. Unlike Pearl Harbor day, there wasn't just one location that was attacked. There were two other hijacked planes that day, remember?

For some reason, referring to Independence Day as July 4th doesn't trouble me. That's probably because I grew up hearing it labeled that way. But I don't want my children to grow up being able to recite some empty date that has no connection in their minds to an event. I'm not saying that I want them to "remember the heroes" or whatever. That's not my point. I just think continuing to label the events of September 11, 2001 as "September 11th" is lazy and will eventually (and I'm talking about a generation or two from now) lead to a dulling of our country's remembrance of it.

Last year President Bush declared September 11 to be "Patriot Day." Let's start using that name and remember the event instead of the date.

Visits from Morpheus

(You comic geeks will get the reference.)

I've been having some weird dreams this week.

In one, I was looking down at my wedding ring and noticed that it had a sizeable chip out of it. Underneath the gold was what looked like rusty wire. I was very upset that not only had my ring been damaged somehow, but it was now revealed to be fake! I showed the ring to Misty who regarded it with bewilderment. She proceeded to peel away much of the remaining gold as if it were aluminum foil. Indeed, underneath was a coil of rusty wire running in three loops. Around it, a thinner coil of the same wire bound the larger three coils together. After a brief inspection, Misty crumpled up the gold/foil and tossed it aside. "Don't do that!," I said frantically. "How am I supposed to get it fixed?"

In another dream, I was back at my college dorm. It was move-in day of my second year and I had the same roommates as the first. Some sort of fight broke out in the common room, so I broke it up and ushered one of the guys out into the hallway.

Seconds later, back inside the dorm, I was grabbed by the back of the neck and shoved against a wall. A guy who I didn't know was trying to break up the fight that I had just stopped, thinking I was among of the pair who had been fighting. I swirled around and my roommate Stephen and I started screaming at him.

"Who are you?! What the hell are you doing in here?!," we demanded. He gave an elusive poltician-like answer that conveyed that he couldn't answer that now, but it would be revealed soon enough.

Determined to get something out of him, I asked, "Do you live in this room?"

"No," he said.

"Are you a friend of anyone who lives here?"


"Are you dating any of the women who live here?" (No women lived in our room, of course, but the question made sense at the time.)

Again, "no."

"This is like 20 Questions!," I yelled, getting exasperated. "Are you a resident advisor?"


"Are you a member of the RSA?"

And finally, "yes."

Wanting to get him out of our room and show him that I wasn't going to bear a grudge, I shook his hand. When he left, I told Stephen that I accepted his answer because it meant that either he was an active member of the Resident Student Association and he probably really was just trying to be helpful (how those things corelate, I have no idea) or he was at least informed enough to have read his residents' handbook which states that all campus residents are members of RSA.

I then noticed my wedding ring and thought I should mention to Stephen that I was married now. I held back, though, because I remembered that he had gotten divorced within the past year or so, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I also wondered if he would even realize that I had been divorced too and that I had just gotten married, or would he think that I had been married to Misty for the past few years? I wanted to ask him what happened to lead to his divorce, but I decided the subject was best left alone.

The phone rang, distracting me anyway. The call was from the grandmother of one of our other roommates. She was so loud that we could hear the whole conversation as if she were on speakerphone.

That's all I can remember before waking up.

I'm not seeking "answers" for these dreams, and I'm not interested in speculating whether they "mean anything." I just thought I'd write them down and share them.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Back from vacation

O.K., I'm back. Miss me? Yeah, I didn't think so. Here's what I've been up to...

I'm married now. Misty and I got hitched on Saturday, November 22 at the Chapel in the Glades. Our minister was a funny-looking little guy with pointy teeth. Apparently nervous, Misty giggled uncontrolably throughout nearly the whole ceremony. We opted out of the video package in order to get more photos, so unfortunately, no evidence remains of her hysteria.

We rented a cabin in the mountains between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge for our honeymoon. It was gorgeous up there. Our cabin had all sorts of nifty ammenities like a hot tub, porch swing, pool table, fireplace, and full kitchen. It was very cozy and relaxing.

On Monday, we drove up one of the mountains to Clingman's Dome — the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 6,643 feet. Weather in town had been cool, but as we ascended the mountain temperatures dropped steadily. We soon had to put on our coats, gloves, and hats to stay warm. By the time we got to the top, temperatures were at freezing, and with the wind chill they were well below that. Misty waited in the car while I made the ½ mile hike uphill even further to the observation tower. The wind made it rough going, but I made it. I took several snapshots of the clouds billowing over the mountains and rushed back down, lest I get blown off the tower. It was several minutes before I could feel my fingers again, but the trek was worth it.

Later that evening, we headed to the Dixie Stampede — a sort of rodeo dinner show. It wasn't the best rodeo I've seen, but it was very entertaining. They had the usual trick riding and barrel races along with chicken chasing, pig races, ostrich races, ice skating, and a Nativity re-enactment. The utensil-free dinner was much fun. I managed to eat everything put in front of me, including a bowl of soup, biscuit, barbecued pork loin, corn on the cobb, potato wedge, apple turnover, and a whole rotisserie chicken.

During the rest of our trip, we mostly just walked about town looking at the Christmas decorations and visiting the various little shops and outlet stores. The candy shops were my favorite. I made sure to get a free sample of fudge at each of the six that we stopped at. I was awed watching them make taffy and roll little candy sticks. I think we wound up buying about three pounds of fudge, and I've eaten most of it already.

The outlet stores were more of a disappointment. We went into a maternity store that had all the same clothes and same prices as at Brookwood Mall in Birmingham. The "outlet" music store had higher prices than most regular CD stores. I guess there's no restrictions on calling yourself an outlet. The Disney store was pretty cool, though. They had lots of stuff I don't normally see at the mall, and the prices were quite low. I just didn't want any of it. Oh, well. Any desire we had to spend money was certainly quenched at the outlet baby store, where we bought more than a dozen little outfits. My favorite is the one with Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar on the front and the words "but he was still hungry" on the back. And at 70% off, it was only around $4! Our baby is going to look adorable.

I tried to get some reading done while on vacation, but I only managed to finish one book. Nick Hornby's Songbook is fantastic. I started on Lost by Gregory Maguire and Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore, and hopefully I'll make it through both of them before I get overwhelmed by the holidays.

I've also been catching up on movies I've been meaning to see. Recently, I've rented and watched Bend it Like Beckham (wonderfuly funny), The Italian Job (thoroughly entertaining) Holes (solid fun, but not a classic), A Beautiful Mind (engrossing and moving), Legally Blonde 2 (dumb), Confidence (swift and witty), Tadpole (enjoyable, but not very believable), and The Santa Clause (cute, but wears thin quickly). Incidentally, I've found that not only does the Blockbuster by the Galleria have a far larger selection than the one near my house, but also almost all of their DVDs are widescreen.

For Thanksgiving, Misty and I headed to Atlanta to have dinner with my parents. As expected, there was way too much food. We brought home plenty of leftovers. Unfortunately, Misty's mom had to work on the holiday, so we brought her a big plate of food, too.

Although there were some great post-Thanksgiving sales, I skipped shopping on Friday. Unless you're buying a really big-ticket item or a whole bunch of stuff, it just isn't worth the hassle associated with that day. I'm already way beyond the point in my Christmas shopping where I was last year at this time, so I'm not concerned. Of course, last year I sent most of my gifts well after Christmas, but regardless, I'm doing well this year — trust me.

Friday night Misty and I went to the hockey game. I got a call a few days before saying that I'd won tickets. Unfortunately, even with free seats, the Alabama Slammers were a disappointment. Maybe I've been spoiled by living in Huntsville (the ice hockey capitol of the South), but the hockey scene down here is pathetic. The Pelham Civic Complex is far too small to be a respectable venue. There isn't a good seat in the house. Misty insists it was much better when the Bulls were at the BJCC. The Slammers played decent hockey, and the organization as a whole put on a good presentation, but the arena is so lousy that the ticket prices ($12-$25 each) are unwarranted. I'd really like to support the team, but I won't be returning.

Back at work now, I'm thrilled that I don't have any catching up to do. Much of this can be attributed to my line of work — yesterday's news is no longer news, so there's no need to worry about it. My co-workers, too, kept on top of things for me. Supposedly, we're making the move to the new office tomorrow. This line has been dangled in front of us time and time again, but this time it's really true! Probably. We'll see tomorrow.

Oh, and it was almost a week before I heard who won the Iron Bowl. Better luck next year, Chargers.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

A short break

I am leaving in the morning for my vacation / wedding / honeymoon, so there won't be any posting for a few days. For any of you who read Get on with Your Nightlife, I've pre-written several entries, and my co-workers should be posting them each day.

Monday, November 17, 2003

The New Scum

Ooh... I like this one.

You are Spider Jerusalem.
Spider is THE journalist of the future. He smokes,
he does drugs, and he kicks ass. The drugs are
going to eventually kill him but not before he
gets his way. And his way is the demise of the
failed American dream. Although full of hate,
he cares about his city. All he wants to bring
the world is truth. Spider Jerusalem,
conscience of the City. Frightening thought,
but he's the only one we've got.

What Gritty No Nonsense Comic Book Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I suppose I ought to read Transmetropolitan some day.

Cheap jokes are still funny

Here's an interesting commentary by Clarke Stallworth about a cheap shot taken at Alabama...
Alabama is always good for a cheap laugh.

If a comic is dying onstage, a joke about Alabama will revive his act. If a newspaper columnist needs a quick fix, throw an Alabama joke in to get a laugh.

It's a natural for the know-it-alls who know nothing. What astounds me is that a quality institution like the Poynter Institute would take the low road...

The Poynter Web site is ... the home of Jim Romanesko, who does a daily column about newspapers — a sort of newspaper about newspapers and television. Monday, I found this entry in the Romanesko column:

Headline: "Alabamians believe not enogh spent on education."

The headline was picked up from, the Web site of The Birmingham News, The Huntsville Times and the Mobile Press-Register.

And then there was this comment, on the Poynter Institute Web site: They're probably right.

Read the rest...

I can't find where Jim Romanesko made his supposedly inappropriate comment. Maybe it's been removed from Poynter's site; maybe he never wrote it in the first place.

On the other hand, Al Kamen of The Washington Post made a similar comment...
This headline Monday from the online Alabama News [sic] was on a poll showing most people oppose a plan to cut state education spending.

"Poll: Alabamians believe not enogh spent on education."


Clarke Stallworth complains in his editorial that such comments are unfair. He calls the people who make such remarks "snide," "know-it-alls," and "dummy."

I've got a few names for Stallworth: "crybaby," "spoil-sport," and "over-analytical."

It's a joke, for God's sake!

I am fully capable of laughing at my own expense. No harm was was meant by these jibes. These columnists and comedians aren't using a typographical error to make a serious political argument that Alabamians are dumb. They're using it as a punchline. In an article about education in Alabama, having a misspelled word in the headline is ironic — and funny.

When Jon Stewart, as Stallworth says, "went on and on bashing Alabama when the voters turned down a brave new venture by Alabama's heroic governor, Bob Riley," he isn't singling Alabama out. He makes fun of everybody. That's the point  of The Daily Show. If you'll notice, it's not a real news program — it's on Comedy Central.

You know why people make jokes about Alabamians being dumb? Because Alabamians are dumb. The Irish are drunks, the French are rude, women are nags, gays are flamboyant, Jews are stingy, and everyone in Texas wears a 10-gallon hat.

Do people really believe those stereotypes? Yeah, they do. But, as Stallworth points out in his article, those people are the ones who're ignorant. I'm willing to believe, though, that the sort of people who read newspapers hold intelligence of a higher caliber.

Jokes about a misspelled headline aren't hurting Alabama's image. Unlike Clarke Stallworth, most people can appreciate irony.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Iron Bowl, schmiron bowl

Further evidence of how little I care about football: Yesterday, one of my co-workers pointed out that I am getting married on the day of the Iron Bowl. I had no idea.

I hope the Chargers win.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Homeowner's association meets just to spite me

Exactly one week after I complained in my blog that my neighborhood association has no meetings, my neighborhood association had a meeting. Is it coincidence? Am I psychic? Or does Impending Distractions have such a strong influence that I can bend my neighbors to my will?

Anyway, last night's meeting was a fiasco. We had guest speakers from the fire department. Their presentation was quite interesting, and within ten minutes, they'd convinced me to pay the $75 annual "fire dues" (we're not taxed for a fire department). Unfortunately, they kept going. And like the Energizer bunny, going and going and going... They had two main points: they need money, and they need volunteers. They spent more than an hour and a half telling us this in as many ways as possible. And even though it was freezing as we sat in someone's open garage, and most people were clearly anxious for things to move along, every goddamn person felt the need to ask them a question (whether it had been answered three times already, or not). I had a strong urge to "move to table this discussion," but I figured no one would know what I was talking about.

The fire department guest speakers were only the first item on the agenda. By the time we finally got around to item 2, half of the meeting's attendants had left. We then got to hear a lecture about how many people haven't paid their RMHA dues. The president talked about projects that RMHA is hoping to be able to pay for when they have enough money. Budgets were distributed so we could all see just how much upkeep of various neighborhood things costs. Then, they distributed a handout detailing exactly which homes didn't pay this year, last year, and the year previous. How crass! My address was on the delinquent list (all three years), so now my neighbors can think I'm a cheapskate even though I've only lived there for five months. I tried to explain to the president that the reason I hadn't paid my dues was that, before last night, I'd never seen any evidence of a neighborhood association. He didn't seem to pay attention, though.

Next item on the agenda was a review of the RMHA "covenants." Apparently, the covenants are a set of rules we were supposed to have received when we closed on our house. We didn't. So, we got to hear about a bunch of rules we didn't even know existed that people supposedly aren't following. When I asked for a copy of the covenants, however, no one had one to give me.

Finally, discussion of neighborhood regulations and desired projects led to several people volunteering to help get things rolling. However, nearly every suggestion was met by the president with, "We'll get to that in the spring at our next meeting." Exasperated, I called out in response, "Why do we have to wait until spring? Why don't we have a meeting every other month?" The president started to deliver an evasive answer, when everyone else chimed in with agreement. They all wanted to meet more often. We decided, therefore, to meet again in two months.

Like I said before, I have no problem paying my membership dues (and I paid them last night). But I want a neighborhood association that actually meets with some regularity. I want a forum to address grievances, I want projects to get done, and I want social activities so I can meet the people who live around me. Simply put, I want a neighborhood association that fosters a sense of community. Don't get me wrong — there's nothing bad about my neighborhood. It just doesn't feel like a community, and I think a lot of my neighbors concur.

I'm not one to sit around idly complaining, though. Last night's 2½ hours of shivering at least pointed me in the right direction of how I can do my part to achieve the sort of community I'd like to live in. I see no reason why we can't make things better.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Sequential pause

I haven't bought any comics for more than a month now. I've been keeping busy with other activities so I haven't had time to miss my usual Wednesday fix too much. Nevertheless, each week I tell myself that I need to go sign up for a subscription box at Capt. Comics. I hesitate, though, because I'd get a way better discount if I went to Haven.

Driving up to Huntsville isn't the most practical thing to do, obviously — especially just to save a few dollars. It just seems like a betrayal to get my comics from anywhere besides Haven. I still have a few loose ends to tie up in Huntsville, and I wouldn't mind visiting my friends there, so I'll head up there sooner or later and catch up with back issues.

I probably won't be able to keep doing it that way, though. Eventually, I'll have to resign my allegiances and subscribe down here.

Hopefully in waiting such a long time, I can at least whittle my list down, crossing off titles that I haven't missed while I've been out of the comic loop. I'm considering even going to an all-TPB subscription list. If I can wait this long between issues, I can wait for the collected editions.

Well... we'll see.

God is nowhere / God is now here

I finished reading Douglas Coupland's latest novel, Hey Nostradamus!, last night, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The book has an atypical structure, each of the four chapters being narrated in first person by a different character. The first part of the story is told from the point of view of a victim of a high school massacre that is obviously patterned after the Columbine incident. Her recounting of that violent day sets the pace for the rest of the book, as the subsequent characters are, in turn, effected by its events. Each of them is lead, at some point, to question his or her religious convictions — some are strengthened and others are lost.

By the time the novel reaches its fourth segment, it has morphed into a completely different tale than what is expected from the beginning. The transitions can be jarring, but then, so can life itself.

I found myself sympathizing with each character as he or she took hold of the story, despite the fact that they were each capable of some pretty horrible or foolish acts. The moral flaws of the individual characters don't seem to matter though. It's the rest of the world that's a mess, and they're just trying to get through it.

Blog Meetup Day, part 2

My confusion over the Blog Meetup Day has finally been cleared up. Here's how it seems to work...

  • First you join the Birmingham Weblogger Meetup list — basically, this conveys "I'm interested in this sort of event. Let me know when it happens."
  • If you want, you can vote for a venue. Doing so it not necessary, and it does mean that you're confirming your attendance.
  • A week before the event, you'll receive an e-mail informing you of the location of the meetup, based on member votes. The e-mail also ask you to RSVP with either "yes, I'll be there" or "no, I can't make it."
  • You can then go to the Birmingham Weblogger Meetup list again and see who has confirmed, who has sent regrets, and who hasn't answered yet.

    It's still too complicated a process, in my opinion, but at least I understand it now. Anyway, for all you local bloggers, go sign up and meet the rest of us at The Garage Cafe, Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday, November 12, 2003

    Concealment vs. censorship

    The Onion has a story today that's bound to get linked all over blogdom, so I'll go ahead and be one of the first...
    Mom Finds Out About Blog

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN — In a turn of events the 30-year-old characterized as "horrifying," Kevin Widmar announced Tuesday that his mother Lillian has discovered his weblog.

    "Apparently, Mom typed [Widmar's employer] Dean Healthcare into Google along with my name and, lo and behold, PlanetKevin popped up," Widmar said. "I'm so fucked."

    In an e-mail sent to Widmar Monday, Lillian reported in large purple letters that she was "VERY EXCITED :)!!!" to find his "computer diary," but was perplexed that he hadn't mentioned it to her.

    Upon receipt of the e-mail, Widmar mentally raced through the contents of his blog. He immediately thought of several dozen posts in which he mentioned drinking, drug use, casual sex, and other behavior likely to alarm his mother...

    Of course it's funny because we can identify with the guy in the story.

    How many of you out there hide the fact that you've got a blog from your parents, your kids, your employer, or anyone else? What about the other way around? How many of you self-sensor your blogs because you know those same people are (or might be) reading them?

    It's sort of a catch-22. If you feel that you must hold back in what you write, it defeats the purpose of this medium — or, at least, it diminishes your work. On the other hand, it seems odd to keep a personal journal, which would only be of interest to those close to us, and then share it only with strangers instead.

    Is there a third option that works?

    My warped sense of evolution

    I had a busy day of housework yesterday. I went grocery shopping, vacuumed and steam cleaned the carpet, changed out the litter box, washed three loads of laundry, and raked the leaves in the front yard. It would make sense to use today as a day of slack, but I probably won't.

    Believe it or not, I enjoy housework (but no, I don't want to do yours). It gives me a sense of accomplishment when I get chores done. As I cross items off my mental list of things to do, it feels like I've had a productive day.

    However, it doesn't have to be the completion of chores, per-se, to satisfy my productivity quota. It can be watching a movie that I've been meaning to get around to, reading a book, progressing in a video game, or taking the dogs for a walk around the neighborhood. In fact, yesterday I managed to find time to watch Holes and read for a while, too — both of which added to my sense of accomplishment.

    The completion of projects is better than the completion of standard chores. I prefer to do something beyond the day-to-day grind in order to feel like I'm moving forward. Laundry and vacuuming are things that need to be done every week. They're perpetual chores that will never be finished. If I skip a week, they may build up the point where they seem like a big project, but really, accomplishing those tasks is just the struggle to remain at zero. Cleaning out the guest bedroom or reading a book, on the other hand, are goals that, once attained, don't need to be repeated. When I finish one of those sort of projects, I feel like I'm moved a step further in my life.

    It may sound like it doesn't take much to keep me content. I suppose that's the case, even on a broader scale. I like my life where it is. If I can maintain the status quo, I'll be happy. If I can push it one notch higher, though — even with something so insignificant as finally hanging the pictures in the bedroom — I'll be that much better off. It's evolution at its least dramatic, and its most satisfying.

    Sunday, November 09, 2003

    Locked open

    I've been having a problem with the rear passenger-side door of my car lately. It doesn't want to open. The lock gets stuck and it takes some effort to get the latch to release.

    Yesterday afternoon, as with most days, I drove over to the animal clinic where Misty works to meet her for lunch. I had a few minutes to kill, so I thought I'd take a look at my car door to see if I could figure out what was making the lock stick. I poked around for a minute, comparing the uncooperative door to the other three. In doing so, I managed to lock the door again, while it was open. So now, it wouldn't shut.

    I tried for several minutes to undo the lock. I pried at it with my fingers. I used a screwdriver as a lever. I pulled both the inside and outside handles while doing so... But my efforts were to no avail. Reluctantly, I decided to call VW roadside assistance. I spoke to two VW dealers and a woman at AAA, each of whom suggested that I try all the things I'd already tried.

    The woman from AAA said she'd send a tow truck (since I couldn't very well drive if the door wouldn't close) and wanted to know where I wanted to have it serviced. "Wherever the closest place is will be fine," I replied. "Well, the closest thing I've got is [such-and-such] VW in Mobile, will that be OK?" Mobile? Uh, no. "Mobile is about four hours from here," I told her. "OK, well, the next closest place I've got is Pensacola..." What the hell? "That's crazy," I said, "isn't there somewhere in Birmingham?" "Birmingham?" she asks, exasperated. "You said you were in Homewood." Unfortunately, yes, I was in Homewood (home of the famous Homewood Can Kiss My Ass Day Parade). I explained that Homewood is a small city that is a suburb of Birmingham. Having cleared that up, she managed to find me a tow truck that could be there within "89 minutes" (in a city like Birmingham, this is understandable, as there are probably only 59,000 or so tow trucks around).

    I waited the requisite 89 minutes, and the truck showed up right on cue. Before towing my car, though, the driver with the pierced tongue decided he'd see if he could just fix the problem himself. While he prodded at the lock, I tried to help him by pulling the handle. He asked me not to do that, though. "I'm not trying to say anything about you — I'm just paranoid about that sort of thing," he told me. For a moment, I thought he meant that I might have caused his fingers to get crushed or something, but that didn't seem to make sense. Then I realized that I had been standing behind him. Oh, I get it! Watch out, buddy — I might try to sodomize you while my fiancée is looking the other way.

    Anyway, after a couple minutes he managed to get the lock to release. Apparently, you need to engage the child-safety lock and pull the outside door handle while simultaneously prying at the door lock. Weird, but whatever. I was pleased that I didn't have to get my car towed, since that would have been an extreme response to such a small problem.

    While this episode was unfolding, Christina, one of my co-workers showed up at the clinic with her cat. I chatted with her after getting things situated with my car. Christina also drives a Jetta, and she said she's had the same problem. She told me how to fix it — just the way that the bigoted, pierced-tongued tow truck driver had told me. Next time, instead of calling roadside assistance, I'm calling Christina.

    Thursday, November 06, 2003

    It's a beautiful day in my neighborhood

    Over at Cap'n Ken's Homespun Wisdom, the Cap'n has been talking about the homeowner's association in his new neighborhood. They want him to cough up $200 so that they can hold emergency meetings about neighborhood dogs. At least they have  meetings.

    Over in my neighborhood, there's a sign at the entrance stating that RMHA (Russet Meadows Homeowner's Association) dues are now past due. That message has been up there since we moved in five months ago. It's not as if the sign board is neglected — it gets updated every month with the new yard-of-the-month winner. Whoever maintains it just never takes down the part about dues being past due.

    After a couple months in our new house, we finally got a flyer in the mailbox informing us as to what our $75 dues actually cover: upkeep of the entrance flower beds, upkeep of the street signs (some are wooden instead of the standard metal), and the yard-of-the-month competition. I don't know exactly how many homes there are in my neighborhood, but I'd guess they number around 150. So, that's more than $10,000 a year the RMHA is expecting for these small projects.

    However, since we've lived there, we've seen no indication of any association meetings. What's the point of having an assocition if it doesn't meet? I have no idea who the board members are, so I don't know who to contact if I did have an issue I wanted addressed. Furthermore, no one has welcomed us to the neighborhood*, formally or otherwise. That doesn't seem very neighborly to me.

    I like the idea of a neighborhood civic association. I'd like to have a forum to address complaints, organize projects, and interact with my neighbors. But it doesn't seem like such options are offered by the RMHA. Because of this, I haven't paid my dues. I'm not inclined to join a club that just wants its members' money, but doesn't care who they are.

    * Our neighbor across the street did greet us, but that was because our moving van ran over his mailbox. Our next-door neighbor introduced himself, but he's new, too — moved in the same time we did — so that doesn't really count. Our next-door neighbor on the other side finally acknowledged our existence with a brief wave from his car just two weeks ago.

    Wednesday, November 05, 2003

    Matrix: Revolting

    I went to see Matrix: Revolutions this afternoon. The verdict: It is thoroughly infected with suck.

    The first movie blew me away — both with its action and its story. The second was competent, and there were enough cool new action sequences to wow me again. This time, though, it was sooo boring. Most of the action and special effects sequences were the same thing we've seen before — there's the shootout in the lobby scene, the martial arts scene, the Trinity pausing in mid-air scene, the hoards of Agent Smith scene, the Smith infects someone scene, the sentinels coming at the heroes scene... nothing really new. But worse, it's strewn with cheesy sentimentality. Whereas the first installment was philosophically provocative, the final installment degenerates the trilogy into intellectual drivel.

    More fun at the movies... I got carded today! The girl at the ticket window looked embarrassed when I showed her my license and told her that I was almost 30.

    Monday, November 03, 2003

    Milk drinkers, unite!

    Fragrant Lotus has a great post from last week regarding company memos about the kitchen.

    Her comments lead me to wonder: Why will our employers supply us with coffee at the company's expense, but never with milk or juice for non-coffee drinkers?

    We milk dinkers need to stand together and defend our rights against the oppressive coffee drinkers!

    (sorry, Kara)

    Sunday, November 02, 2003

    Welcome, confused Google searcher

    People stumble across Impending Distractions for some strange reasons. In checking my referal stats, I found many Google searches that made sense and many more that did not. These are some of my favorites...

    resizing pvc pipe sink (1st result!)
    Ah, yes... I can see why my site popped up as the first result. I am the master of resizing pvc pipes.

    how to hurt Superman by Brian Azzarello (6th result)
    Answer: Give Lex Luthor an untraceable gun and 100 kryptonite bullets.

    attentiveness at work (8th result)
    No, no, no... You've got it backward. Impending Distractions is the opposite  of attentiveness at work.

    get paid to advertise on my Volkswagon Bug (12th result)
    Only because I spelled "Volkswagen" incorrectly on my site.

    Chinese symbol for Superman (17th result)
    More of this Superman crap. I hate Superman! Apparently this is what happens when you blog about things you don't like. Although the Chinese symbol part does sound amusing.

    They're right to cancel most of these titles (19th result)
    This one's kinda creepy. If you already had the exact text— that I wrote, then why are you searching for it?

    funny incorrect sentences journalism (136th result)
    This sounds like something I'd enjoy reading, though I don't have it on my site. The real question is, though, who scrolls through 135 results before clicking on mine?

    And some more that I couldn't find results for (though somebody did)...

    halloween pumpkin patches in New Jersey
    Nope. I went to a pumpkin patch in Birmingham. Advance Internet,'s parent company, is located in New Jersey. Two totally different things.

    belly dancing restaurants in San Diego
    Again, it was Birmigham where I saw the belly dancers. I was in San Diego for Comic Con International. Sorry for the confusion.

    draino test for gender
    It worked for us!

    Do daughters cause divorce?
    Yes, they do. I'm in big trouble.

    my brother finally made it to a Cubs game last night
    My brother lives in St. Louis, so I doubt it.

    I remember Matt the electrician grapefruit
    Damn. I was hoping no one would ever find out about that. I'm never drinking again.

    Saturday, November 01, 2003

    Batman teams up with the Magic Pickle

    Scott Morse is doing a Batman story!

    cover image from 'Batman: Roomful of Strangers'

    Kick ass.

    More local bloggers

    17 new links have been added to the Alabama Bloggers page this week on Note that that these are new links, not necessarily new blogs — several of them have been around for a while, but I just now found them.

    Celluloid ramblings

    There are several interesting things going on in movie news today...

    The good:
    Montgomery hooks 2 'Big Fish' screenings
    Montgomery will have two screenings of "Big Fish" on Dec. 12, making it the first city in Alabama and one of the first handful of cities in the country to show the film that was shot almost entirely in the tri-county area.

    The bad:
    'Matrix' trilogy's final installment to skip Huntsville IMAX
    Just a month or two ago, the Space Center found out it would join other IMAX theaters nationwide in hosting the final installment of the "Matrix" trilogy, "The Matrix Revolutions," opening Wednesday. It would mark the first time a live Hollywood live action event film was released concurrently in 35 mm and IMAX's format. And, to tease viewers, the Space Center got the second installment of the trilogy, "Matrix Reloaded," which has drawn good crowds to the Spacedome Theater.

    In the last few weeks, Space Center officials got wind that big theater chains nationwide were upset IMAX theaters were going to show "The Matrix Revolutions" concurrently and wanted Warner Brothers to delay the film in IMAX formats. And, unfortunately, that's just what's happened.

    Of the 200 or so IMAX theaters nationwide, only the ones in commercial theaters will be allowed to unveil "The Matrix Revolutions" Wednesday.

    The ugly:
    Fans have waited 13 years (so far) for an "Aliens vs. Predator" movie, and it's finally coming out in August of next year. However, its teaser trailer doesn't leave me tingling with anticipation.

    The confusing:
    Disney's new animated feature, Brother Bear opens today. But today is a Saturday. Since when do movies open on Saturday? Considering studios' drive for high weekend box office numbers, this seems a very odd move. Why not open the film yesterday? Because it was Halloween?

    And speaking of Halloween, why is Disney releasing The Haunted Mansion the day before Thanksgiving? Wouldn't it make more sense to release "Haunted Mansion" for Halloween and "Brother Bear" for Thanksgiving?

    Thursday, October 30, 2003

    85% certainty

    It's a girl!

    More later. It is time for bed.

    Blog Meetup Day

    Skillzy, author of the Hard Times blog, is hosting November's Blog Meetup Day event for folks in the Birmingham area. It's to be on the 19th at an as-yet-undertermined location (those who plan to attend get to vote on the venue). Since the blog crowd seems a much more intellectual lot than the chat crowd, I am going to give this meetup thing a try. I'll be there — wherever there ends up being.

    I visited the Blog Meetup site, and I found its navigation rather confusing. I can't tell from the list of people signed up whether those people have RSVPed or whether they're just bloggers in the Birmingham area who might be interested. It says you should RSVP, but where do you do that? Just by signing up? Unfortunately, the FAQ section of the site focuses on what Blog Meetup Day is (which is immediately obvious), rather than how the event actually works. In other words, it's a great idea with poor execution.

    I agree with Sugarmama in that there's little point in going if only a couple people plan to show up, so since the site doesn't make it clear, I suggest that anyone who wishes to attend e-mail Skillzy and let him know. I'm sure he can come up with a way to advertise the guest list. Beyond that, promote it in your own blogs, and maybe we'll see a decent crowd.

    Music reflects mood

    Want to guess my mood today? Here's what I'm listening to...

    Powerman 5000 - Blast Off to Nowhere
    Marilyn Manson - mOBSCENE
    Monster Magnet - Big God
    Hole - Awful
    Curve - Chinese Burn
    Catherine Wheel - Waydown
    R.E.M. - Circus Act
    Social Distortion - Don't Drag Me Down
    Crystal Method - Name of the Game
    Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
    Magnapop - Skinburns
    Dada - The Fleecing of America
    Sugar - Helpless
    Green Day - Welcome to Paradise
    Disturbed - Fear
    Veruca Salt - Straight
    Lush - Ladykillers
    Union Underground - Trip With Jesus
    Afghan Whigs - My Enemy
    Bif Naked - The Peacock Song

    Ask me why.

    Who are you, again?

    My earlier post about probably having a difficult time remembering the baby's name makes me think I should comment about names. I am terrible with names. It takes me a while to remember them. Sometimes I'm even forced to create association games in my head so I'll remember the right names for certain people.

    I've conditioned myself to pause and think before I say someone's name, but every once in a while, I'll blurt out the wrong thing. It's pretty embarrassing.

    My most difficult time with names came from my marriage. In high school, for about a year and a half, I dated a girl named "Jennifer." Then in college, for about three years, I dated a girl named "Theresa." I'd been so used to my girlfriend's name being "Jennifer," though, that I would often almost  say her name when talking to Theresa. Not wanting to get my ass beat, however, I trained myself to think, every time I said her name, "not Jennifer — Theresa." The problem came years later when I was married. My ex-wife was also named Jennifer (though not the same Jennifer as before — to this day, my mother refers to the Jennifer I dated in high school as "the real Jennifer"), and my conditioning stuck. I'd be about to (correctly) say "Jennifer," but in my head I'd still think, "not Jennifer — Theresa." Then I'd have to remember, "no, this is  Jennifer. It always took me a couple of seconds for me to get her name out. Very frustrating.

    Luckily, I have not had this problem with Misty. Her name is different enough that it's been easy for me to remember. With other people, though, it still takes me a moment to think — and even then I may not remember. Someone will say, "good morning, Matt," and I'll simply reply, "good morning" because I can't think of their name quickly enough. It happens with my co-workers whom I see every day and even my best friends. So please don't feel hurt if it happens when I talk to you. I'm lucky that I remember my own name.

    The end of androgyny

    Today is an exciting day, so I woke up way too early, unable to sleep. Today we make our fourth visit to the obstetrician, and hopefully we'll be able to learn our baby's gender from the ultrasound. I am impartial to the results. Either way it goes, I'll be happy. Misty, on the other hand, is clearly rooting for a girl. So much so, in fact, that if the nurse tells us it's a boy, she's likely to do something along the lines of demanding a second opinion. She wants a girl. We'll know this afternoon (probably).

    The one bad thing that comes with knowing the baby's gender is the rejuvenated barrage of name suggestions. For the most part, I've been able to keep such suggestions at bay lately, with the postulate that there's no point in trying to select a name when we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. That idea goes out the window today, and for the next five months, I'm sure, the baby's name will change every other day. By the time it's born, I'll be so confused, I won't know what to call it. I'll probably just have to stick with "baby" for the first few weeks until Misty repeats its name often enough for it to stick with me.

    Tuesday, October 28, 2003

    Misty's debut

    For months now, whenever we've discussed something amusing, Misty has been making comments to me like "You should write about that in your blog." I always reply, "It's your  story (or idea, or joke, or whatever) — you  should write about it."

    This weekend, prompted by the acquisition of her ring, she finally decided that she wanted to write her own blog. I think she's just excited about sharing with everyone that we're engaged.

    We've spent the past couple days putting a blog together for her, and it's looking pretty good. As her title suggests — Bitching: My Anti-Drug — she plans to vent about stuff that pisses her off — work, family, people in general. I assume she'll also give occasional updates on the baby's progress and throw in some recipes and such.

    I know the main reason she's doing this is that it's something I enjoy, and I appreciate that. Maybe after a couple of weeks of her own blogging, she'll understand why I've grown so fond of it.

    Monday, October 27, 2003

    Calvin proposes to a witch

    It's finally "official" now. Misty and I are engaged! Good thing, too, because we're getting married in less than a month.

    Misty came to visit me at work Saturday so she could use the fast Internet connection. While I worked, she looked into weddings/honeymoons in Gatlinburg. After much research, we booked a cabin with a goofy name for the week before Thanksgiving.

    On the way home, we each went off in different directions to search for Halloween costumes for a party we were going to that night. Unbeknownst to Misty, I also jotted over to Levy's to pick up the engagement ring.

    Finding the components for my Halloween costume prooved much more difficult than I had anticipated. I was dressing as Calvin (of "Calvin & Hobbes"), so I needed a red t-shirt with black stripes, a stuffed tiger, and blonde hair. The first part was easy. I picked up a red t-shirt at Goody's for $5. I thought finding a stuffed tiger would be equally simple. The Tigger from the Classic Pooh collection would be perfect. However, after visiting Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, K.B. Toy & Hobby, and the Disney Store, I was getting exasperated. Those things were everywhere when I didn't have any interest in them. I finally found something close enough at the second Wal-Mart I went to.

    When I got home, I used a Sharpie marker and a yardstick to draw black lines on the shirt. Misty helped me mess up my hair and spray it with "fluorescent yellow" hair paint. Unfortunately, the yellow wound up looking like green, but it was too late to do anything about it. We figured green hair was just the sort of trouble Calvin would be likely to get into.

    Misty was dressed as a witch, and the cat was terrified of her. She had a witch's cloak, a pointy hat, green hair (a wig), and lots of dark eye shadow and lipstick. Just before we left for the party, I told her that I had one more witch accessory that she should wear. I pulled the ring out from a drawer in the kitchen and gave it to her. I told her that she'd put a spell on me. That put a smile on her face for the rest of the evening.

    The party was a total bore. I've been to parties before where I hardly knew anyone — even parties where I literally knew no one there — but I've never before had a problem finding sociable folks to chat with. At this party though, the guests were mostly neighbors of the host — they talked to each other, but it was clear that we weren't a part of their neighborhood clique. We pretty much just sat around, occasionally eating snacks and waiting for an opportunity to leave.

    I was a little disappointed that no one guessed my costume. One person thought I was Christopher Robin (no, he wears a yellow polo, not a red t-shirt). What shocked me, though, was that when I informed people that my tiger and I were Calvin & Hobbes, they didn't have any idea who that was. "You know — the comic strip of the little boy with the stuffed tiger that comes to life when no one else is around," Misty offered. Nope. "You know the stickers you'll see on the back of a Chevy truck where the kid is peeing on the Ford logo? — that's Calvin," she said. Oh, him! They knew that one. Dumb asses.

    Anyway, since Saturday night, Misty has been staring at her ring and saying things like, "Let's see what it looks like in the bathroom..." "Let's see what it looks like in the guest bedroom..." "Let's see what it looks like in the car..." I get the impression that she likes it.

    Sunday, October 26, 2003

    The perils of blogdom

    Terror link to mass 'blog' outage

    Law enforcement officials are probing a "significant" series of computer attacks launched in the last week, including one that took down some of the most popular web logs, or "blogs," on the Internet, an AT&T spokesman said yesterday.

    But the best-known of the affected sites, including Glenn Reynolds' "Instapundit" and the Long Island-based "Command Post," apparently weren't the intended victims of the so-called "denial of service" attacks.

    But those sites were taken out when unknown hackers went after an obscure Web site belonging to a group called Internet Haganah, which tries to get service providers to boot terror-connected Web sites off the Internet, according to Annette Howard, co-owner of Haganah's ISP, Hosting Matters.

    Watch out, fellow bloggers. One of us could be next.

    Saturday, October 25, 2003

    Today's best headline

    Man arrested in theft of Popsicles

    The owners of a house on Beverly Road returned home to find a man loading three rifles and eight shotguns, along with some tools, from the house into a truck, [Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Christina] Bowersox said.

    The man fled on foot and hid in nearby woods as the homeowners called deputies to the scene... Deputies began to search for the man with help from a K-9 unit.

    Sometime during the 90-minute search, the man broke into an area home and stole some Popsicles, Bowersox said.

    He told deputies he didn't have time to finish one of the Popsicles before they arrested him, the spokeswoman said.

    Friday, October 24, 2003

    What is a 'groonk,' anyway?

    A big thanks to for providing me with space to store my images after the new owners of Haven deleted them off their site.

    Hubie maintains an impressive six  blogs on his site — games, comics, movies, music, pop culture, and personal. Pick your favorite, and get to reading.

    The answer to your question, "What is a groonk?" is there.

    Mediocre soul

    My soul has been valued at $31,731, and apparenly, 51% of people have a purer soul than mine.

    I'm a little disappointed here.

    When is $100 better than $4,495?

    I just visited and got this message...
    Starting today, you can find books at based on every word inside them, not just on matches to the author or title keywords. Search Inside the Book — the name for this new feature — searches the complete inside text of more than 120,000 books — all 33 million pages of them.

    I don't know if this will ever help me, but it sounds like a nifty feature.

    The contest mentioned later in the message, however, is what I find amusing.
    We'd love to hear about your experiences using Search Inside the Book. We're running a contest where we'll award our grand prize winner a Segway Human Transporter. Ten additional customers will each win a $100 gift certificate.

    Have you ever seen a Segway? It's for everyone who's ever thought, "walking slowly is just too strenuous." It is the death of the human race.

    Forget the grand prize — I'd rather have the $100.


    Our next door neighbors' dogs bark a lot — often well into the night. Naturally, I wish they'd pipe down.

    I am very pleased, however, that our trio of shih tzus rarely barks. Sure, they bark when we come home, waiting to be let out of their room. They'll bark when the doorbell rings. And once in a while, the oldest one will bark wanting to be picked up onto the sofa. For the most part though, they're pretty quiet.

    On the few occasions when they do start up their yapping, Misty and I try to get them to stop. We don't want to hear their noise. I don't think we're different from anyone here, as everyone (except our neighbors, apparently) wants their dog to stop barking.

    I got to thinking about this today, and I wonder if we, as a society, are inflicting psychological trauma on our dogs. When they bark, we tell them to be quiet. When they whine, we tell them to cut it out. When they growl, we tell them "no." Basically, we don't want them to emit any sounds whatsoever.

    But what if someone did that to us? What if any time we made a sound, we were scolded? We'd be a society of mutes.

    Maybe dogs have something to say, too. Just because they don't speak English, does that mean we shouldn't try to listen?

    Thursday, October 23, 2003

    Country ham and biscuits

    I'm not a big advocate of prayer, but Aunt Eunice needs some sort of help.
    For many years, Aunt Eunice has been a champion of local fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation. She also has had both knees and hips replaced as a result of the crippling condition.

    She had not been feeling well the last weekend of September, and after closing her restaurant of 50-plus years for the day on Sept. 29, she went to the doctor. He immediately sent her to the hospital.

    An infection in one of her legs last spring apparently never completely healed, according to Eunice's daughter, and that's what sent her back to the hospital. After being admitted, her kidneys failed - a likely result of many years of medication for the arthritic pain.

    About 18 months ago, Eunice's Country Kitchen celebrated its 50th year in business. This may be the longest stretch the restaurant has been closed during that half-century. The owner has become Aunt Eunice to generations since taking over a business called Lee High Drive In in 1952. Mayors became loyal customers, bringing with them governors and congressmen. National magazines and network television shows featured Eunice's over the years.

    Having lived there for ten years, I can attest that Eunice is, herself, a Huntsville landmark. When she gets better — and she will  get better — go pay her a visit at her restaurant.

    It's fixed!

    Based on sugarmama's comment, I decided to re-select my blog template and start over. It worked! After putting all my personal adaptations back in, the scrolling problem was fixed. However, another weird quirk had popped up. Line breaks were appearing where there shouldn't have been any. With a little help from the Coffee Achiever, that too got fixed, and now everything is in working order. Thanks for the insight, y'all.

    A cry for help

    Every time my blog loads, you can only scroll down so far before it cuts off. The page stops where the right well stops. If you change your text size, or even re-select your current text size, the page will adjust properly, and you'll be able to scroll to see everything.

    I have noticed this problem on a few other blogs as well — always with Blogger/Blogspot. However, since it does effect all  Blogger/Blogspot pages, there's got to be a way to prevent it from happening.

    Surely, someone knows how to fix this. Can anyone help?

    Wednesday, October 22, 2003

    You're missing 45% of the movie, you fools!

    In case you didn't get enough of me bitching about DVDs over in Get on with Your Nightlife yesterday, here's some more...

    When I watched 28 Days Later last night, I was disappointed to find that I had rented the full-screen/pan-and-scan version instead of the widescreen/letterboxed version. To prevent such a travesty from occurring again, when I returned the movie today, I asked Blockbuster to add a warning to my account specifying "please ensure that customer is renting widescreen DVDs, not full-screen." This way, whenever someone there scans my membership card, a little flashing message will come up with my account.

    I rented The Italian Job, went home, and popped in the movie. I was greeted with the message that it had been "formatted to fit your screen." Exasperated, I immediately returned the movie to the store.

    I talked to the same woman who had checked the disc out to me earlier and explained the problem. I was annoyed, but I was not rude. Her first response, however, was that "The Italian Job" only comes in full-screen. I know that is false. I said that Blockbuster may only carry  the full-screen version, but it does indeed come in widescreen. She looked in the computer, and unfortunately, that was the case. That store only carries the full-screen version.

    Worse than attempting to blow me off with her first response, though, the woman next tried to tell me that it was my  fault that I'd rented the wrong version. She said that I could have looked just as well as she. That, however, is beside the point, as I specifically asked for Blockbuster to do that checking for me.

    Furthermore, the fact that the movie was presented in full-screen was not  indicated on the rental case. I had no way of knowing that it was not the version I wanted. In fact, I did  check, but since there was no marking as such, I believed that (as with many movies) both versions were included on the same disc.

    The fact that a specific request I made to a Blockbuster employee was ignored moments after I made it, disappoints me. The fact that I was then blamed by that employee for her own negligence disgusts me.

    Beyond that, I am tired of the stupidy of Blockbuster in only carrying full-screen versions of movies. Supposedly they've since changed their position, but it's obvious that they have not. When I bought my DVD player several years ago, I did so because all movies were conviently offered in widescreen. Now I'm having trouble getting that format at the nation's largest video rental outlet.

    If you are one of the misguided people who complains about the black bars on your screen, go to The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page to learn why you are an idiot. I don't have the patience to explain it again.

    False advertising

    I've just decided that the candle I've been burning smells more like cough syrup than "Blackberry Crisp."

    A long last, a weekend

    I love this! Not having to be at Haven on Wednesdays is even better than I expected. This weekend has been my first real two-day weekend in years (remember, my weekends run Tues/Wed).

    Every weekend, I make myself a list chores I want to tackle. It feels like I've accomplished something as I cross each item off the list, but I usually don't come close to finishing them all. Yesterday was no different. I wanted to clean the garage, wash the laundry, mow the lawn, and do a bunch of paperwork. I finshed about half the garage and half the laundry, and I cut the grass (well, the weeds, actually). Today, though, I can still work on finishing my projects. I'm still at home! I suppose everyone else who regularly works five days per week won't see this as revolutionary, but I am beside myself. It's quite odd.

    Misty was home yesterday, too, so we did a lot of work in the yard. She planted pansies in front of the house while I mowed the lawn. We trimmed the crepe myrtles so we have room to sit in our rocking chairs on the porch. Misty also cut back the maple tree a bit, making it look much cleaner. I dug up all the grass from around the mailbox so we can put flowers back in there. Finally, we dug through the closet for Halloween decorations and replaced our door wreath with a sign declaring that "The witch is in." We're rather impressed with what we accomplished yesterday. We're far from winning our neighborhood's "yard of the month," but if there was a "most improved" category, we'd be a shoe-in.

    As the day wound down, we baked a frozen pizza and settled into the couch to watch 28 Days Later. Unfortunately, this meant that Misty didn't eat any of her dinner — the undead do look a lot like pizza. Anyway, it's a good movie, and it kept us pretty jumpy. I liked the way the zombies were fast instead of sluggish, moaning things. Danny Boyle also does some pretty cool stuff with sound and music in the movie, adding much to the tension. Our doorbell rang half way through, and we nearly came unglued.

    I'm looking forward to another fun and productive day off today. The rest of you just can't understand my sense of peace.

    Monday, October 20, 2003

    Sun sets on the sigil-bearers

    From Lying in the Gutters this week...
    Some not-too-happy people at CrossGen. They are a fair few weeks behind on paying even their staff members, let alone freelance and other creditors. Some people are okay to wait, or take partial payments for now - but not everyone.

    Still, with a whole bunch of books cancelled, they may not get a choice.

    A whole bunch of books cancelled? Huh? I knew "The First" was ending with "The War" miniseries, but I didn't know what else. Obviously I haven't been paying enough attention, so I headed over to the the press release section of CrossGen's site to see what else. According to them...
    After three years of planted clues, mounting tension, and escalating skirmishes, the saga of the Sigil Bearers vs. the Negation Empire is hurtling towards its explosive climax. As events build toward "The War," the following titles will reach their series finales with the following issues:

    Crux #33
    The First #37
    Meridian #44
    Mystic #43
    The Path #23
    Scion #44
    Sigil #43
    Solus #8

    When "The War" hits in 2004, our greatest warriors will finally collide with an invading evil as alliances shatter, worlds burn, and destinies are fulfilled.

    Blah, blah, blah... As much as I love CrossGen, this press release is a load of crap. There's no way they'd be cancelling these books if they were selling well. Everyone's been hearing about employees and freelancers not getting paid on time. Several key staff members have left the company in the past few months. Mark Alessi and Bill Roseman can deny it all they like, but CrossGen is losing money.

    They're right to cancel most of these titles. "The First," "Sigil," and "Solus," are just plain lousy and always have been. As for "Crux," "Mystic," and "Scion," their stories have played themselves out, and an end makes sense. And, though I continue to say that it's the best comic book on the market, "Meridian" simply isn't selling. It never has, and it isn't going to. I'm rather surprised to see "Ruse" and "The Path" getting canned, though. They've had a positive response from both readers and critics. Admitedly though, I haven't read either in a while — maybe they've gone downhill.

    So we're left with "Brath," "El Cazador," "Negation," "Route 666," "Sojourn," "Way of the Rat," and the upcoming series "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." The continuation of most of these series makes sense. "Route 666" and "Way of the Rat" have been optioned for movies. "Sojourn" has consistently been CrossGen's most popular title. "Brath" and "El Cazador" are relatively new, and have both picked up a solid readership. Here, "Negation" surprises me though. I like the book, but it's not really something with mass appeal.

    Anyway, it's looking like we won't see much more of CrossGen. I wouldn't be surprised if the remaining books see their end within another year. I hope I'm wrong. They'd put together a great company with impressive writers and artists and a diverse selection of titles. They tried to grow too fast, though. Mark Alessi wasn't content for shooting to be #3 or #4 — he wanted to start from nothing and be the #1 publisher within a few short years. That's not a realistic goal. CrossGen suffered from over-marketing, trying to reach new readers via every possible avenue. They did everything at once, and it's cost them.

    Sunday, October 19, 2003

    100 things about me

    I was going to post one of those "100 Things" lists to commemorate my 100th blog post, but it seems that I'm a few posts too late. Oh, well. I'm not going to make a list of 106 Things. This one took long enough as it is.

    100 Things About Me...

    1. I was born in Boston, so technically I'm a Yankee.

    2. However, I've spent nearly my entire life in the South.

    3. I do not believe that the "South will rise again."

    4. I have lived in five different states: Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, (did I mention Texas?), Georgia, and Alabama.

    5. I have visited (not counting those I've merely diven through) 19 different states.

    6. I have only been out of the country once — for a 10-day trip to England and France.

    7. I am not named after the character Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables, but I enjoy the association.

    8. I do not understand why so many people mispronounce my last name. It's pronounced just as it's written.

    9. I am married to a beautiful, witty, and loving woman named Misty.

    10. We met on New Year's Eve, 2002.

    11. We are the proud parents of two little girls named Emily and Kendall.

    12. Emily had colic and screamed nearly non-stop for her first 2½ months of life. It was the most difficult thing I've ever experienced.

    13. In comparison, Kendall was an easy baby.

    14. I am the older of two children.

    15. I have a degree in communication arts from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

    16. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on movie trailers.

    17. College wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.

    18. Nevertheless, my grades weren't very good.

    19. I feel like I learned more than most people who had better grades, though.

    20. In school I rarely took lecture notes. I've always had an easier time learning by paying attention and figuring things out instead of transcribing and memorizing.

    21. I failed statistics twice — the first time because I never went to class, the second time because I never went to class, figuring, "eh, I've had this class before."

    22. I used to claim that the Internet was just a fad.

    23. Now I make my living on the Internet as the senior editorial producer at

    24. I like my job.

    25. If I wasn't in the career I'm in, I'd like to be a teacher.

    26. My first job was working at a swimwear store. Basically, I got paid to read and occasionally help women try on bathing suits.

    27. When I went to college I wanted to work in radio.

    28. I got an internship writing news at WAHR, and for about six months I worked as a DJ.

    29. I no longer want to work in radio.

    30. Growing up I was always shy and reserved, especially in high school.

    31. At my college orientation, a girl who I'd thought was cute came up and asked me to dance — twice. I turned her down both times and again when she asked if I wanted to accompany her and some other students to the other side of campus to play volleyball.

    32. Later that evening, I realized the incredible stupidy of my actions, and I made a conscious decision to change my behavior and embrace a more outgoing personality. I consider it a defining moment in my life.

    33. After my first year, I was named my university's "Most Oustanding Freshman Leader."

    34. When I was elected president of the Resident Student Association, my opponent accused me of rigging the results (I didn't).

    35. Students were asked to re-vote, and I won by an even greater margin.

    36. I was on UAH's homecoming court one year.

    37. I have never attended a football game.

    38. I don't care who wins the Iron Bowl.

    39. I skiped my high school prom and graduation.

    40. It doesn't impress me that someone can graduate from high school. You're required by law to attend school for most of it anyway — finishing up that last bit isn't that much more.

    41. I used to enjoy cooking, but gave up because my wife not only enjoys it more, but is so much better at it than I am.

    42. Considering how much good food is put in front of me at home, it amazes me that I haven't gained weight since marrying Misty.

    43. I don't really try to manage my weight -- I guess I just have a strong metabolism.

    44. My favorite drink is milk.

    45. I used to collect those milk mustache magazine ads, but there got to be to many of them. Now there's a book.

    46. I cannot stand the taste of coffee, but I love the smell.

    47. My only source of caffiene is chocolate.

    48. I have never smoked or used recreational drugs.

    49. I didn't even drink until I was 21. I'm such a prude.

    50. I have never chewed gum.

    51. I've never had any cavities, either. So there.

    52. My teeth are straight even though I haven't had braces.

    53. I wear contacts to correct for severe myopia.

    54. I am physically, but not mentally, claustrophobic. Small spaces do not frighten me in the least, but my body physically shuts down.

    55. This affliction prevents me from being able to snorkle, wear Halloween masks or blow up balloons.

    56. I am often guilty of procrastination.

    57. Most of the time, I will back-date my blog entries, catching up on things I should have written earlier.

    58. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. You get food, family, and two days off from work. Also, since Christmas decorations go up and shopping commences in full force, it's like having two holidays in one.

    59. My heroes include Jim Henson and Walt Disney.

    60. I have been to Disney World more than a dozen times, and I may even enjoy it more now as an adult.

    61. I am not interested in your rants on why you hate the Disney corporation.

    62. I love animated movies and have more than 50 of them in my DVD collection (though the girls like to claim ownership of them).

    63. I have seen 65 of The American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Movies (and nearly 80% of the top 50). I'm slowing working on the rest.

    64. It irritates me to no end when movies are displayed in the wrong aspect ratio. You'd think that the proliferation of widescreen TVs would have solved this problem, but it's only made it worse.

    65. When I go to the movies, I am very picky about picture and sound quality.

    66. I have been known to yell at people who allow their cell phones to ring in movie theatres.

    67. I managed to make it until September, 2009 before finally getting my own cell phone.

    68. I don't like to channel surf while watching television.

    69. However, I'm sucker for home improvement shows and reality TV.

    70. I rarely do any home improvement, though I did audition for a reality TV show once.

    71. I will gladly do any of the household chores except washing the dishes.

    72. I clip coupons and usually save a few dollars with them each time I buy groceries.

    73. I have become adept at using coupons for products which I am not actually buying.

    74. I am a stickler for proper grammar.

    75. My favorite band is R.E.M. I've been to five of their concerts.

    76. My favorite book is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. It really captures how I see my life. The movie is one of my favorites as well.

    77. I tend to plan  to read books more often than I actually get around to reading them. Each new year I resolve to read more, but I'm lucky to finish a book each month.

    78. I love comic books. They are my soap operas.

    79. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time or the money to keep up with keep up with the stories month-by-month (or week-by-week). I stick with a few of my favorites and read them in graphic novel format.

    80. I have attended the San Diego Comic Con a few times, and I can tell you that I'm far from the nerdiest, geekiest, or dorkiest of comic fans (actually, most of those stereotypes are unfair).

    81. For 2½ years I owned a comic book store called Haven.

    82. That cured me of ever again wanting to own my own business.

    83. Nevertheless, I do miss the store. I don't get to visit there as much as I'd like.

    84. I have always believed in God, but for a long time I was hesitant to label myself as a Christian (too many hypocritical, loud-mouthed extremists gave Christianity a bad name). It's only since Misty and I started attending church together that I've truly begun to embrace my own faith.

    85. I think it's more likely that we've all got it a little bit wrong than one particular religion being absolutely right.

    86. I am a firm supporter of the separation of church and state.

    87. I swam competitively from the time I was in 6th grade through high school.

    88. My swimming abilities were always overshadowed by my younger brother's.

    89. I once had to leave swim practice early to drive my brother to the hospital. He and another teammate had been tossing a stick back and forth while running laps, and the stick ended up piercing his bottom lip. On the way to the hospital, he kept trying to stick his tongue through the hole.

    90. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose.

    91. I do not require an alarm clock to wake up on time each morning.

    92. When I was a freshman in college, I got my ear pierced. It was stupid. The earing has been gone for years, but there's still a lump from where the hole was.

    93. When I was in 2nd grade, I played Bambi in the school play. To hear my mother tell it, you'd think I'd played Hamlet at the Globe Theatre.

    94. I drive a 2003 Volkswagon Jetta.

    95. I do not know how to operate a manual transmission.

    96. I once crashed my car (not the Jetta) into my neighbor's house. Never, never try to push your car out of the garage if you live on a hill.

    97. I love to sing in the car.

    98. When I'm alone or with my daughters, I tend to sing a lot of nonsense songs.

    99. I don't know if I'll ever feel like a grown-up.

    100. Life is hard, but I'm happy with mine.

    Saturday, October 18, 2003

    In my day...

    Join me in feeling old as the children of today provide commentary on the videogames I played as a kid.

    I remember when Q*bert came out and my friends and I all thought, "Wow! It's in 3-D!"

    Thanks to Hubie for the link.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    Better stories than mine

    I don't think there's any convincing her to write a blog, but Misty continues to have some funny stories to share regarding the animal clinic where she works.

    Just yesterday...

  • A woman came in asking her if any of their clients were looking to adopt a beaver.

  • Another woman wanted to know if the vet could check her neighbor's dog's poop for worms. The sample she brought in, however, was seven days old. Hearing the news that she'd need fresher poop, she said that getting it would be difficult because the dog lives 70 miles away. "You must have a lot of land," Misty replied. This comment completely baffled the woman. Still determined to get this particular poop sample checked by the vet, she asked again if Misty was sure it wasn't possible. Misty explained that as time sets in, the feces will harden, making it impossible to check for worms. "Oh, I can make it soft," the woman said. She then proceeded to squeeze the plastic baggie and mash up her poop sample.

    As usual, the stories are better when Misty tells them. But I thought they needed to be shared, even if only secondhand.