Wednesday, March 31, 2004

RSS Feed

New site feature alert for all of you nerds out there! As of today I’ve started an RSS feed for this site. For those that are so inclined to know what this means read on. If you don’t care, skip down a little ways because this will be boring. Anyhow, an RSS feed is basically an XML file hosted on my site that keeps track of my most recent posts. When I add a new post the XML file is updated and if you have an RSS aggregator (there’s tons of them out there) it will grab the newest headline and alert you there is a new post. This way you don’t constantly have to check back to my site to see if there’s a new update. I’m sure there are so many of you that are constantly refreshing this page just to see if anything new has popped up J

Right now on my desktop I have an RSS aggregator that works like a stock ticker across the top of my screen. I’m subscribed to about 20 different RSS feeds so whenever there are new stories or breaking news information, I have it scrolling across the top of my screen. No more checking the BBC or Slashdot constantly to see what’s new. Now when a story hits, as soon as my aggregator grabs the XML files for the RSS feed, it shoots the new story into rotation.

I find that this is nice for blogs as well. Some that I read are updated more than once a day while some are updated less than daily. Since I am subscribed to their RSS feed, whenever a new post gets made, whenever it might be, I’ll know about it. If there’s nothing new, I don’t have to worry about checking out their site only to be greeted by the same story or post I’ve already read. So for any of you geeks out there who read this and don’t already use an RSS aggregator, go find one (use Google to help you out), and subscribe to my RSS feed. My feed is at the bottom of the page. It’s the little red RSS graphic.

Now that I’ve gotten my latest bit of dork out of my system, I’m free to move on to other non-geek related subjects. Well, actually, I don’t have a lot of time to delve into anything else at the moment so all of you readers that aren’t geeks kind of got shafted today. Sorry.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Ipecac Replacement

Over the last few years I’ve tried more than a few of the billions of special energy drinks that are out there. Out of all of them that I have tried, a solid majority of them have all tasted like vomit. I can’t understand the draw of these drinks—Sobe, Elements, Arizona teas, and all the other crazy rip offs out there. None of them taste good. Out of morbid curiosity I picked up a Snapple Elements Mind Fuel drink today. The subtitle on it said it was Rain flavor with agave cactus. The name even screamed out “I taste like a monkey’s bottom”. The thing that is attractive about this drink, though, is its container. It’s a nice, heavy aluminum that has a sweet metal and dark blue design. Pretty bitchin’ looking if you ask me.

Unfortunately, a sweet looking bottle does not make a good drink. I cracked it open and tried some. The initial taste wasn’t good. It was definitely prickly like a cactus. Actually, I think licking a cactus might be more appetizing than finishing off a bottle of this Elements drink. Not only does it have a horrible initial taste, but it also possesses a mild aftertaste of grossness. Again, I try another energy drink hoping for something I might like and again I am confronted by the reality that there are no decent tasting energy drinks out there, except for the Red Bull and Amp, of course.

One other thing interested me about this drink. On the inside of the cap was the question “Why doesn’t a husband take the wife’s name upon marriage?” Interesting. So now our drinks are being produced with sentences questioning the status of society on them. I’m sure the type of people that actually enjoy drinking loads of this crap enjoy these questions, but I found it kind of dumb. I guess they’re trying to stimulate people into thinking about society’s status quo, but it comes off as a somewhat pointed remark, especially when the outside of the cap claims “Open cap, open mind”. So by opening the cap, drinking the goat piss that’s inside, and thinking about the question they pose you are somehow opening your mind? Wow, if I knew it was that easy all along I would have given up on my philosophy degree years ago.

I’ll stop railing on energy drinks now, but only because I want to talk about something even scarier than all of the crap put in pretty bottles—marriage. Yeah, that’s right, I said the M word. Actually, it’s not a bad word, but when it is applied to my peers it is, simply because it means that I am growing up and getting old. I’m not ready for marriage or the babies that’ll come with marriage. If I’m not ready, how can my friends be? Well, obviously they must be way more mature, but that’s not the point. This weekend I ran into a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in a while and somehow between this weekend and the last time I’d seen them they’d gotten engaged.

I’m happy for them and all, but wow, it’s hard to image that people younger than me are going to be getting married so soon (one of them in May of this year!). Congratulations Katie Johnson and John Nowak, you are two brave souls. Hmm……hold on a sec, that kind of made it sound like they were marrying each other. Just for the record, they’re not. Each is getting married to someone else. Whew. Didn’t want to create a controversy or anything.

Now I’m not trying to say that marriage is a bad thing. I’m just simply pointing out I don’t think I’m ready for something like that yet. I’m still trying to get my employment situation ironed out while attempting to live in my parent’s basement. It’s hard readjusting to having all my crap crammed into one room, but I digress. It just seems like there is so much added responsibility and stress that comes with marriage that I don’t think I could handle it yet. I’m sure I’ll eventually be ready for it, but I’m simply amazed that people I know are already making that big, bold step.

Monday, March 29, 2004

That Freaky Math

As another work week starts, another weekend comes to a close. Again, it seems that the happenings of 3 days (the weekend) are so much more interesting than the other 4 (the work week). I suppose that having to use 40+ hours of the week for work and work related activities can do that. I keep hoping for the day where I’ll be able to reverse those statistics and have only 3 days of work and 4 of “my time”, but then I let reality cloud my view and I realize I won’t have anything that good until either retirement or death, and in either case it skips using the ratio altogether and puts me right in the work 0 days, have 7 to myself…although the being dead option isn’t one that I would like to explore anytime soon. Early retirement, though? The sooner the better, if you ask me!

Anyhow, Friday was a fun evening. After slogging through rush hour traffic in the cities once again, I made it to Kristin’s place, just in time to hang out for a little bit and then head over to my old apartment for some much needed losing of money…err, I mean gambling. Berg had organized a night of Texas hold-em poker. I managed to walk out of there losing a solid $10. The worst part about losing the money, which I’m sure you’ll all get a good laugh at, is that I lost it to a horribly intoxicated Mehle and a pair of girls. If that doesn’t kill your ego, I’d have a hard time thinking of something that could.

Saturday morning Vu, Nate, myself, and one of Vu’s friends, Aaron, participated in the annual Johnnie/Tommie 3-on-3 basketball tournament. Just being there dribbling a ball again after such a long time off made me realize how much I really missed playing. Thank goodness the winter is finally drawing to a close and I can get back outside and do some shooting around. The next thing I’ll have to wait for is for Randy to come home for the summer so we can play some one-on-one ball again.

Anyhow, the tournament was a lot of fun, even though I wish we could have played a few more games. We finished the day at 2-2. We should have won our last one and kept going in the tourney, but because of the creative score keeping of our opponents, we lost. The games at the tourney were played to 21. First team to get there won (no win by 2 rule either, which I found quite odd). We had managed to take the lead 19-17. I got hammered shooting a five foot shot which could have won it. Situations like that had been a problem at the tourney in years past so they implemented free throws to take away the option of continually fouling the other team if they were shooting a potentially winning shot. Since this was one of those potential shots, I had a chance to win the game. Making free throws, for some reason unknown to myself, has always been a horrible downfall in my bball game. I can rattle off three pointers and jump shots like nothing if I get on a roll, but putting in a free throw is something I find hard to do.

So I step up to the line. I make the first. We’re now up 20-17. I shoot the second. It rattles out. They take a three point shot and make it. It’s now a tie game at 20-20……or so we thought. Apparently, according to some abstract math that the other team was using, their three pointer was worth four points. I don’t know how they figured it, but they somehow managed to do it. With that, they walked off the court and reported their win. We would have disputed this atrocious miscounting of our score, but the team we were playing against was the group of students who were in charge of the tourney. Pretty freakin’ cute, huh? We were bummed, but as it was I still had a good time. It was nice seeing Vu and Nate again, and the rest of the tourney went pretty well, except for our first game.

After we had warmed up and tried to work the rust out of our systems, we played our first game of the tournament. A short while later, the game was done with us on the losing end 21-2. Apparently we were still pretty darn rusty. We managed to work it out, however, and won our next two games 21-12 and 21-5. One of those games was almost surreal—not because we played so good or anything, but because I could have sworn that two of the members of the other team were hobbits. One of them resembled Frodo and the other looked like a generic hobbit. I kept waiting for the Frodo look alike to start bugging out and grasping for a necklace under his jersey. I guess I never knew that hobbits were any good at basketball.

After the tournament, I spent the rest of the day with Kristin. We had one very memorable moment while we were at Media Play that bears repeating. It was raining all day on Saturday so we were just tooling around St. Cloud before going to her place to watch tv. As were leaving Media Play in the rain, we briskly walked to where we thought our car was. I walked up beside what I thought was my car, unlocked it, and got ready to sit down. That’s when I saw that the interior of my car had suddenly and mysteriously transformed itself. There was a Simpsons foot mat and a briefcase in the front seat. What the crap? That’s when Kristin and I noticed that my car was parked behind this one. My key worked on another Saturn. That was amazing and scary at the same time. Amazing because I could get into another, similar Saturn. Scary because other similar Saturn owners could get into my car if they wanted to.

After we had a good laugh and started for her place we realized what a great pranking opportunity we had missed out on. We could have taken the other Saturn and parked it somewhere completely different and watched as its owner wandered aimlessly trying to find it. Imagine how hilarious that would be. What would you do if your car suddenly disappeared? Missed opportunities……*sigh*

Friday, March 26, 2004

Instant Messaging Just Can't Cut It

It is my personal opinion that instant messaging, be it via MSN, AIM, ICQ, or whatever your chat client of choice is, happens to be the worst form of communication. It’s not completely worthless, because it does serve a purpose for certain tasks, but for the most part, any type of decent communication is simply stifled by the way instant messaging works.

First, instant messaging leaves out so much in comparison to verbal speech. In comparison to a spoken sentence, a typed message on IM contains no voice inflection, no tone, and no context beyond previous sentences. The reader is left to attempt to infer any details that the author of the statement may have wished to include in the message. For example, I may send an IM that says, “Is that ok?” From that statement alone, it is completely ambiguous as to how I meant to express that statement. Even with the context of the conversation that may have been taking place, this statement could be taken as an actual question, a rhetorical question, a sarcastic remark, or any number of other expressions. I, as the author of the statement, have no way of expressing to the recipient how I intend the statement to be taken.

That last statement is actually a little misleading. I could actually, with words, attempt to convey the exact way that I meant every statement to be taken. For example, I could have said, “This is an interrogative question that I wish for you to answer. No malice or sarcasm is present. Is that ok?” Now, if we were to do that for every sentence in an IM conversation, it would takes hours to discuss almost anything. Because of this, instant messaging should not be used for any types of conversations that involve anything complicated or for use in a debate. IM’s only strong point is that it is good for quick asking a question, finding out a small piece of information, or letting someone know your status. These types of statements do not usually require the added nuances that a debate or deep conversation requires.

More often than not, a debate that takes place on IM is destined to fail simply because it is so hard to articulate exactly what you want to say. Also, even when you can articulate what you want to say, if the other party misinterprets the way in which it is said, much of the following conversation will simply be used to try to make reparations for the misinterpretations. While making reparations, the door for developing even more misunderstandings is wide open. Once you step through that door, your initial conversation is, in effect, over.

The unfortunate fact that underlies everything I have stated so far is that as bad as instant messaging is, it is often a necessary evil. Sometimes it is hard to keep in contact with someone outside of the use of IM. I absolutely abhor having to use instant messaging as a communication tool for actual conversations because of the aforementioned inadequacies, but sometimes it can’t be avoided.

Oh, for those of you who are curious to know how the tv buying came out, I decided upon a JVC 56” widescreen HDTV. I brought it home on Tuesday night. The thing barely fit in through the door it was so huge. Watching movies and playing Xbox on it is simply amazing. Everything is so…big. It’s also so clear. Unlike projection tvs of old, these new HDTV ones are unbelievably clear. No longer can you see all of the individual scan lines. Everything is crystal clear and pretty. I love it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Screw the RIAA

On the topic of video games, over the weekend Kristin and I finally beat Batman: Mystery of Sin Tzu for Xbox. The game was pretty fun, but somewhat repetitive. Everything was the same throughout the game, except for the bosses—beat up a bunch of guys while disarming bombs or saving hostages. The bosses kept it quasi-interesting, at least, except for the end boss, Sin Tzu himself. He is one of the cheapest game bosses ever. You had to use a special dash attach to hit him a couple of times, not hurting him of course, to build up your combo meter which would allow you to use attacks that could actually damage him. Even when using your combo meter you could only hit him a couple of times before it ran out. Since it was such an exercise in tedium, K and I just popped in an unlimited combo meter cheat. I hate it when a games make terrible game decisions, such as on this boss because it just takes you out of the game and makes you not want to play any further.

Since we beat that, I have started playing Unreal II for PC and Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast for Xbox. Unreal II is pretty sweet so far and I’m probably going to focus on playing that in the near future. Jedi Outcast is all right, but from the levels I’ve been playing it’s getting somewhat repetitive. I’m looking forward to the levels where I’ll actually get a light saber and force powers because right now it’s just an average first person shooter.

I’ll probably appreciate playing any games more once I bring home my big screen tv today. Yep, you heard me correctly, I’ll be bringing home a nice, large television for use at home (assuming they have the one I’m buying in stock). I’m still somewhat undecided as to what to get. It’s down to two tv’s, though—either a 55” Mitsubishi or a 47” Panasonic. They’re both widescreen and extremely pretty. What will probably make my decision is how far I can talk the dealer down on either one. I’d like the 55”, but it’s a little bit more spendy. Either way, I’m looking forward to getting everything hooked up and watching a movie or playing some Xbox on it soon.

Since I’ll be buying this new tv, I probably won’t have a lot of extra money to use for anything frivolous over the next however many months it’ll take me to pay it off, but I’ll live. I’ve found one site online that is going to help keep me from buying many cds. I know I’ve said in the past that I don’t buy cds anymore anyways, but I have been occasionally as of late if they’re on sale. Unknowingly, I’m still supporting the RIAA, which is something I definitely do not want to do. To limit my spending on music, I will only buy cds that are released by artists or labels not associated with the RIAA. To find out which discs are ok to buy and which aren’t, I use this site. I search for a cd I think I might buy, and if it is RIAA affiliated, I simply cross it off my list and refuse to buy it. If the cd is not RIAA affiliated, the band sure as heck will get my support.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Best Buy Sucks SO Bad

Another birthday has gone by and I’m now another year older. Being 23 sure doesn’t feel any different than 22, which really didn’t feel that different from 21…… I guess birthdays have never really seemed like the milestones they are supposed to be to me. Sure, they’re always neat because you get presents and people acknowledge you for them, but beyond that there isn’t much that’s different than a normal day. This birthday, though, I did get some cool stuff.

First, Kristin gave me some more Spawn figures to add to my collection. I’ll try to take a picture of them to put up here so you can see them. They are way sweet! I am always in awe whenever I examine a figure that was manufactured by Todd MacFarlane’s toy company. I don’t know why it is, but he seems to be the only person who knows how to make and distribute extremely detailed and interesting figures. Heck, the Spawn figures Kristin gave me were from the 24th and 25th series of figures so he’s obviously doing something right. They’ve been given a nice home on top of the entertainment system in the basement…that is until my mom makes me move them into my room with my other MacFarlane figures.

My mom got me a couple of games to play—Unreal II for PC and Nightcaster for Xbox. I’ve been waiting for a while to finally play Unreal II, but I never broke down to buy it. I’ll have to divide my PC time between Unreal II and Unreal Tournament 2004. UT2K4 is simply amazing, in case you are wondering. Go get it—it’s the best online first person shooter I have ever played and worth every penny I paid for it…which is another good story that I’ll get to after the present rundown. Lastly, my parents got me a portable laptop stand. This way I’ll have something to use when I have to do my work on the go. No more doing everything from my lap.

My grandma and grandpa Gebhardt gave me a card full of green—a gift that I can use anytime, and a gift that will probably go towards my new tv…yet another story for later, but don’t worry, I’ll get to it soon enough. My grandma Meyer gave me some Heroclix figures (I managed to pull a Batman and Joker figure in the two expansion packs she gave me) and two Xbox games—Mad Dash Racing (a Mariocart rip-off that is actually pretty darn fun in multiplayer) and Azurik. After this birthday I’ll have to ramp up my video game playing to keep up with the new games I got. That shouldn’t be too much trouble considering I don’t have much of a social life out here in the middle of nowhere Minnesota.

Ok, the Unreal Tournament story. Before I start, I’d just like to say that the Rochester Best Buy must employ the largest amount of ass-clowns in the United States. So, UT was supposed to be put out on Best Buy’s shelves on Thursday of last week. I wanted to get there to get the special edition of the game that came with a headset, which I needed since I didn’t have one. I showed up at the store right as they opened, went back to the software section, and started looking for the game. There were plenty of copies of the regular version of UT, but none of the special editions could be found. I asked one of the employees where they might be and he told me that they sold out of them the night before.

Well, since they incompetently sold them a day before they were supposed to I asked what they could do. I was offered a rain check. I figured I’d take that since it was pretty much my only option (all of the gaming stores in the area were already sold out of the game as well). When I asked when I could expect them to get the game in, the worker discovered that there are no reorders of the special edition. It was a limited run and all of the copies from the Best Buy warehouse were sold. Great. Just freakin’ great.

Being the persistent person I am, I found the manager of the software department and explained how they royally screwed things up on this one. What did he do to make up for their glaring mistake? Apologize. He simply said he was sorry and that’s all he could do. There was a mistake and he’s sorry it happened. Well, there was no way in hell I was going to settle for a crappy-ass solution to the problem they caused. I told him an apology was not acceptable. He wondered what he could do then since they had no more copies and couldn’t get any. Well, brilliant me told him that I wanted the special edition because of the headset that came with it. I offered to buy the standard edition if I was given a headset as well. He agreed that if that would make up for their error than he could do that. Sweet.

I went and picked myself out a nice $25 headset. Not too shabby. To make things better, when I got home I noticed that there was a $10 rebate on UT2K4 if you owned 2K3, which I did, so I sent in that rebate. When all is said and done I’ll have gotten UT2K4 and a $25 headset all for only $20. I love coming out ahead when buying stuff.

Now, speaking of buying stuff, and since I promised to tell you about my buying a new tv above, I just wanted to state that I am probably going to be making an investment into a nice, big-screen tv. I’m looking to get one in the 48”-55” widescreen range. I’m going to do some shopping this afternoon and see how some of the models stack up against each other. I cannot imagine how cool it will be to play video games and watch movies on a huge tv. I am so stoked! I’ll keep you all posted.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

An Explanation of Sorts

I’m not really a big fan of my birthday. A lot of people love to celebrate the day they were born. It’s another excuse to party, get drunk if you want, get presents from people, and pretty much do whatever you want. That seems so appealing so why would I not like my birthday. Well, maybe by me saying that I don’t like my birthday people are getting the wrong impression. I don’t like it for many reasons, but I also do enjoy it for others. In reality, I suppose I don’t really know which side of the coin I’ll land on every year until that day hits. Since I never know, I would rather play down my birthday and not make a big deal out of it.

For me, this day isn’t about partying, celebrating, or getting presents. This day marks the anniversary of the day I was born, but I like to treat it a little differently than just a day of celebration. For me, my birthday is a day of reflection and self-examination. All too often we forget things. It’s simply impossible to remember everything you do, but I seem to forget more things than I’d like to. For example, yesterday as I was waiting for Ryan to be done with track practice, I started going through some of the stuff that had accumulated in my car. As I was leafing through a pile of receipts and business cards I found my zippo lighter that Kristin had engraved for me about a year ago. Before finding it, I realized that I had completely forgotten I had it. Even though I don’t smoke, I used to always carry this lighter with me simply because it was a gift from Kristin. At some point I must have left it in my car and over time I had forgotten it was there, and almost forgotten about it completely.

It’s instances like this that make me want to dedicate at least one day to forcing myself to really, truly think back upon things I may have forgotten. Every birthday means I have one more year of memories crammed into my brain, and Lord knows my brain works like a hard drive next to a low grade magnet. It seems that for everything new that goes in something old is somehow erased or misplaced. Each year I want to try my hardest to at least reflect upon and remember with clarity the important events that have happened to me over time. Without remembering what has shaped me to be the person I am, what point is there in possessing a memory span that’s longer than a goldfish’s.

The reason that I usually regard this day as a sad one is not because I hate getting older (which I do) or because my death seems to be looming one year closer (which is a fear of mine), but instead because I realize how wonderful my life truly has been up to this point. I’m not sad because everything has been wonderful—that’s quite absurd, but because time has flown by so fast. So often I rush through the events of my life, just wanting to get from event A to event B without even thinking about the events that are contained between those two points. God has given us a limited amount of time here on earth and I want to make sure that each moment is one that I will remember, if even for a little bit.

My birthday is the day that I look back and try to remember each of those moments that might have slipped through the cracks. My birthday is a day of deep thought and reflection. My birthday helps me to remember why it is that I have as wonderful of a life as I do. My birthday is a day to ruminate over exactly what the human experience is all about. Call it a philosophy thing. Call it a weird, Rick thing. Call it an excuse for me to be anti-social one day of the year. Call it whatever, but this is what today means to me.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Your Special Day, Wurbo

Happy birthday Ryan! The big 15 is finally here. It’s kind of hard to fathom that it was a little under 8 years ago that I was the same age. It’s also a little hard to imagine that even though I am 8 years older, Ryan still manages to outsize me. I guess I need to work on bulking up. Weight room here I come! Err…wait, we don’t have a weight room. In that case, limited amount of weights that I have sitting down in our basement around the bench here I come!

I’m trying to think back to my fifteenth birthday when I was in 9th grade, but I have a hard time recalling anything about it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything for my birthday and I was probably just trying to be ignored like usual. 9th grade was right in the middle of my social pariah stage. I never wanted to be noticed because then the pricks of my class would notice me and once they noticed you for doing anything, your day would be hellish. A birthday would be just what they needed to notice you so I’m guessing I simply tried to lay low.

I do remember birthdays from before my 15th, some even quite fondly. There were always the wonderful bowling birthday parties when I was in elementary school. It was somewhat traditional in the little town of Hayfield to have bowling parties since the only thing to do in our town WAS bowling. We didn’t have a movie theater or a skating rink or a Chucky Cheese or anything else that kids did or went to. We only had a bowling alley.

Imagine five or six little 5th graders running around a bowling alley having the times of their lives. We’d compete to see who could *gasp* break 100. A score that big would be quite an accomplishment for us little guys. Heck, we’d be happy when we hit down more than one or two pins. After a few games of exhilarating bowling, it would be time to rip into a couple of bowling alley prepared pizzas. They weren’t the best in the world, but after a hard fought game of bowling, they were perfect.

Lastly would come the presents. It was odd, but when I was little I exchanged presents with my friends for birthdays. It seems a little rarer nowadays that kids exchange gifts, but anyhow, I digress. We’d usually get each other a cool new action figure or a small set of legoes or something else neat. It was always so hard to not tell your friends what you had gotten them. You just knew they were going to like it and you wanted to gush out to them what you had wrapped at home with their name on it, but then that would ruin the surprise. Keeping the secret of what you got someone must have been one of the hardest things for a kid to do.

When the night was finally over, I’d be the happiest kid ever. I got to spend time with my friends bowling. I got to be with my family. I got presents. It was all perfect. It’s memories like this that make me want to have tons of kids so that I can experience moments like this as a parent because I’ll already know how much they love it and it can only feel infinitesimally better to know you’re the cause of that feeling in your child.

But then there are birthdays in middle school and high school. The days might not be happy anymore. You’ll especially be able to relate to your child’s anguish, but you won’t be able to do anything because you yourself know that your children don’t believe you understand. It’s better to let them believe that instead of acknowledging their inadequacies in the social circles of school. By ignoring their hurt, kids continue to think that their parents only see the good side. I know that my parents always saw the good side. I never wanted to be anything less than perfect for them sometimes more than for myself. Seeing my child living through the agony of high school is something I am not looking forward too, especially since I know what the front lines of the popularity war are like. I don’t want a child to go through that because I know I would never want to do it again myself.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Ugly Paint

After I finished helping my dad round up a load of hogs to take in to Hormel’s this morning, I needed a shower. I needed one bad. For some mysterious reason, the smell of hog is something that is unbelievably hard to get out. I don’t care how many times you wash your skin, if it was exposed to hog smell, it’s not going to come out all day. You can use deodorizing soap. You can slob on smelly lotion. You can stick your hands in a bucket of gasoline. No matter what, though, that smell is going to still be there. Magically, however, it wears off after about a day.

Anyhow, so I needed a shower, and bad, so I hopped on in after taking all of my smelly clothes and tossing them into a corner of the laundry room where they would infect the least amount of other clothes. As I stepped into the shower I noticed there was a daddy long legs spider at one end of the shower’s floor. After seeing it, I had two thoughts. The first was, “Huh, that’s interesting. A spider is in the shower.” The second, oddly enough was, “I wonder if it’s radioactive.” Yeah, I know, I’m a dork. What’s even more amazing was the train of thought that followed.

“Hmm…I don’t really want a spider in here, I’ll wash it down the drain. Besides, even if it was radioactive, a daddy long legs has too small of a mouth to bite human flesh.” I wash down the spider, but as I do I start to think, “Now if that spider actually was radioactive, it would be, like, some sort of super spider and it should be able to crawl back out. It would also probably be able to bite through human flesh too if it can overcome the rush of water pushing it down the pipes. So if the spider does come out of the drain, I should definitely let it bite me.” Yeah, that’s how my brain operates at 7 am, in the shower, after loading a big bunch of hogs, after a weekend full of painting.

That’s right, we finally got around to painting the addition. We’re not done, of course, but we do have a good chunk of it done. Saturday my mom, dad, and myself put primer on all of the walls and ceiling. Me and my dad got ceiling duty while my mom worked on the walls. Putting on the primer was a lot easier than the paint because you didn’t have to worry about dripping anywhere or running into the other colors or leaving streaks or anything like that. You just slopped it on and moved right along.

Sunday was the painting day. My dad and I painted the ceiling right after church. After that was finished, my mom started doing the detail work on the walls while my dad was on roller duty. Since there wasn’t room for me to work on the walls, I started painting the wood trim. By the end of the day we managed to get about ¾ of the walls done and about half of the wood trim painted. Hopefully, by the end of today all of the painting will be done.

The only problem I have with the new addition is the actual colors it is painted. The ceiling is a beige-ish color. I’m a guy, so I’m not too great a describing colors, so you’ll have to forgive me. I’ll get pictures up soon, but until then you’ll have to make do with my attempts at a description. I don’t have a problem with the color of the ceiling, in fact, I kind of like it. What I don’t like is the color of the walls. It’s a dark-ish sort of hunter green, I suppose. I know my mom loves it, and it matches the couches they bought, but to me it’s about as ugly as Rosie O’Donnell naked. Yeah, it’s that bad…at least to me. I’m glad my mom enjoys it, and it is their addition……but it looks like Godzilla got the flu and sneezed on our walls.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

The DDR King

As I had said yesterday, my brother, Ryan, has finally managed to beat Max 300 on DDR at the hardest setting. I'm still pretty much in awe of his leg moving prowess. What's really amazing is that we only got DDR for Christmas a little over two months ago.

I remember when we picked it out to give to mom for Christmas. She had played it once or twice up at college and thought it was really cool. Since we didn't know what else to get her, and because I also knew that Ryan and I would get a lot of use out of it, we picked it up for the Xbox and gave it to her. When we first hooked it up, I was the master of the DDR pad. No one could even come close to matching my feet tapping moves. I was the Michael Jordan of the pads. Ryan was intrigued by it and played it more and more every day. Slowly but surely he began to get better.

Time passed and Ryan became quite the little learner at DDR. I was still content sitting on my laurels knowing that no one could yet top me, but Ryan was getting closer. A little while longer we were competing to see who was better. It was scary the progression Ryan made from someone who had never touched the game in his life to a master of the game. Given a little more time, Ryan has easily surpassed everything that I can do. Beating Max 300 was only one of the many things he now holds over me when playing. I may have been Michael Jordan for a while, but I'm too old to keep up to this little Lebron James of DDR that has surfaced at our house.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

It's a Small Town After All

Yesterday was the township election for Waltham. My dad was running for reelection at his position of county clerk. His position and another were both up for grabs. Running against my dad was…no one. There was also no one running in opposition for the other position. My dad won his position and the other dude got his too. It was actually a landslide in both cases—they each got 100% of the votes. Sounds pretty amazing, huh? Yeah, except for there were only 26 voters.

Now I’m not trying to knock my dad’s position or anything, but I do wonder if it is really necessary for elections when it comes to the small townships like the one I live in. I know it’s mandated by the government, but that only seems to make it more farcical. Basically, the same person gets their position every year unless they either give up or someone gets a bunch of their friends to write them in (according to my dad, this actually happened once). I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to get written in. All you have to do is get 15 of your friends in the area write you in and you’re pretty much guaranteed to win.

It seems like it would more feasible, especially since no one really runs against the incumbent, to just pick someone who wants to do it and let them do it until they want to throw in the towel or royally screw something up. I don’t know, but I guess to me grassroots politics on such a small scale is somewhat counterintuitive.

On a completely different note, I think I’m developing a mutant power or something. For the past two days my eyes have been on fire. They just burn. They’re also extremely bloodshot most of the day. No matter how many eyedrops I put in, 15 minutes after I do it my eyes hurt again. I keep waiting for a big, red, laser beam to start shooting from my eyes. Either that or I keep hoping I get x-ray vision. Either one would be pretty cool, unless I couldn’t control the lasers, of course.

The question that follows from that is if I did all of the sudden develop a mutant power, would I use it for good or evil. I suppose that would also depend on your definition of evil. If using my optic blasts to knock idiot drivers’ cars off the road, would that make me a bad guy? I hope not, because that would probably be the main thing I’d use them for.

Hmm…yeah, I’m all typed out for the day. I was going to also talk some about jobs and salaries, but I’ll save that for later this week. At the moment, though, I found something interesting over at My job at Kingland right now is a technical writer. Since that’s what I’d probably be hired on as full-time, I wanted to see what the average entry level tech writer salary was here in Roch. I was surprised by what I found. The page can be seen here. The average starting salary is $43,675. Not too bad if you ask me. The 25th percentile is even $38,238. Impressive. Now I only hope that I would get that much when hired on. We’ll see. I hope I don’t end up getting low-balled. I don’t really foresee it happening, but it is a fear I have, especially after seeing data like this. Meh, I’ll see when the time gets here.

Monday, March 08, 2004

What Are You OCD About?

Mother Nature sure does love to throw me a curve ball every now and again. This winter it seems like she’s been especially intent on just screwing around any way she wants. On Friday, I again didn’t think I was going to make it up to St. Cloud because of the weather. In the morning, I awoke to 6-8 inches of new white slush/snow blocking the roads in to work. Because I wasn’t going to play Mother Nature’s game anymore, I worked from home. HAH! Take that you evil wench! Seeing that I had beaten her, she decided that the sun must shine and the snow would melt away, and that it did. So much so, that the roadways were perfectly clear for me as I took off for St. Cloud in the afternoon.

I spent the weekend up at Kristin’s place. It was the last weekend of her spring break so she didn’t have to worry about getting homework done—just taxes, her FAFSA, and a scholarship essay. Other than that, we spent most of the weekend just hanging out. We shopped for Ryan for his birthday, since it is coming up in like a week or so. Considering how hard he is to shop for, I was amazed at how much stuff we actually found for him. I’d list it here, but Ryan’s been known to read this site on occasion (ha ha Wurbo, thought you could find out what we got you, didn’t ya?).

Some of the other wonderful things we did was watch our quota of saved up Smallville episodes and catch a few movies. We watched both The Order and Matchstick Men. Surprisingly, for once we managed to watch two pretty good movies in a row. Usually we get a crappy movie for every couple of good movies, so I’m sure that one of the next movies we watch will suck. The Order had received terrible reviews from just about every source I had read so I didn’t expect it to be any good, but I actually thought it was a very good, but somewhat slow-paced film. The only drawback is that the end of the movie made it feel like this wasn’t really a self-contained movie but a start to a mini-series or tv show. I really think that a continued storyline would make for a great tv show or comic book.

Matchstick Men was pretty good. Nic Cage, who isn’t really one of my favorite actors, plays a great obsessive/compulsive character. The storyline looked like it would be interesting, and it was, but about 25 minutes into the movie I had the end already figured out. One line gave it all away, and I think without it the ending would truly have been a surprise. Here’s the line, now you can only guess how the movie ends. As Nic Cage is teaching his new-found daughter how to con people, he starts to tell her the rules, “The first rule of making a con is to make sure your mark isn’t conning you while you’re trying to con them”. That’s not a direct quote, but it’s close. Hmm…I wonder how the story will end?

If anything, it was a great movie to watch simply for Cage’s OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) character. It actually started me thinking about people who are OCD about different things. This got me to thinking even more and I realize that I’m pretty sure each and every one of us is a little OCD about something or other in our lives. Personally, I know I get a little OCD about my comic collection. Each one needs to be properly protected while I’m not reading them. I need to complete entire series. I can’t have only a few issues of a series because I won’t have the entire story and I need entirety—I need completion!

Some people would probably marvel at how meticulous I’ll be with my comics. Each one put in its polybag. The polybag must have a board in it for stability. The flap of the polybag must be folded over into the comic in a specific way—absolutely no taping the bag shut! Once they’re protected, they’re grouped by series in boxes that allow the comic to stand upright. These boxes are then labeled and placed on a shelf. The room it’s in can’t be too dry or too damp, nor can it be too cold or too hot. If any of these conditions aren’t met, I get a little bit irked and I’ll have to make it so that it conforms to my standards.

So what are you OCD about? How you keep your clothes organized? Taking care of your vehicle? Playing video games all the way through? I know I have many other small OCD tendencies. The only thing that keeps me from having to see a shrink about them is that I don’t develop some nervous tic or fly emotionally out of control if something doesn’t go right.

I wonder if it is possible to actively develop a nervous tic. Think about it. Let’s say every time I see an unbagged comic I blink my left eye and nod. I have to actively do this to start out, but over time I wonder if it would just naturally stick. I might start to do it without noticing. I’d like to know the answer to this question, but I don’t actually want to develop a tic. So, do I have any volunteers that want to try it for me?

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

A Life Gone By

Man, it’s so hard to go back to work after you’ve had an extended time off. A weekend off and then going back to work I can handle, but when you take more than that off, it becomes a might bit tougher to return to the grind. I took off Friday and Monday so that I could have a nice, long weekend with Kristin since she’s having spring break this week, which I unfortunately do not get to enjoy any more since moving into this so-called real world.

It was quite the enjoyable weekend. I headed up to St. Cloud Thursday after I finished work and spent that night and Friday at her apartment. We used most of the time to just sit around and vegetate. Friday night we took off for the cities to take in a concert at the Quest. We saw Anberlin, Ace Troubleshooter, mewithoutYou, Watashi Wa, and Emery. If you want to check it out, my review of the show should be up at Decoy Music sometime this week. We both really enjoyed the show and Kristin even left with an Anberlin t-shirt in hand.

We got back late Friday night, hung out with Ryan a little bit and hit the hay. Saturday was a fun and relaxing day. Kristin and I mostly played video games with Ryan and put in some time on the four wheelers. It was perfect weather out for it as it was just a little warmer than freezing so the snow was melting, making some nice mud holes, and the icy spots were nice and slick. This was actually the first chance I’ve had to take out the four wheeler this winter and I really had a good time. I’ll have to make sure to set aside some time the next time it gets nice out.

Sunday, we went to church and afterwards my grandma Meyer came over for lunch. Kristin and I cooked spaghetti and garlic toast for the family. It was so tasty! The rest of the day was spent being with my family and then trekking back up to St. Cloud. Monday was spent tooling around St. Cloud and watching the movie Spider. It was a pretty good flick, although a little weird and somewhat slow. I’d recommend it, though. After eating supper I had to drive on back down here to good ‘ol Rochester.

Well, that’s pretty much a quick wrap up of my weekend. I noticed it has been a while since I’ve actually written about what I’ve done so it feels good to test out my memory and see what I can’t remember because it seems that occasionally I forget things that I shouldn’t. I was reminded of one of those things I’d forgotten on my way to work today.

On my way into Rochester, I came up behind a jeep with a window cling in the back window I recognized. It was a remembrance cling that was given out back during my junior year of college after my friend Mike Johnson had passed away. Knowing that it had to be a Hayfield graduate, I pulled up alongside the vehicle to notice that it was Faith Hartson driving. She didn’t look over so I didn’t get a chance to wave, but maybe she recognized the SJU window cling I still have in my rear window.

After having seen Faith and the window cling commemorating Mike, I really thought about how much I’ve simply forgotten about high school and the people I knew back then. After high school I sort of drifted away since I went to SJU up in St. Cloud and the majority of all my friends went to Mankato. They were all there living their lives while I was up at SJU living mine. Occasionally I’d see someone from my class, but not very often. Now, almost five years later, I’m back in Hayfield and I’ve seen some of my high school friends again. Besides Faith, I saw Eaton, Kayleena, Mike Young, and Mike Slowinski at school the other day when I had to pick up my brother from a basketball game.

It seems so different to be seeing all of these people again, especially since I don’t get to really see anyone from college that often anymore. It especially seemed very odd for me to start thinking about Mike again. We were great friends back in high school since we were the two farm kids of our class. We had our share of ups and downs, but through it all we remained close. That is until college came. We still stayed in contact through freshman year, but not as much as we would have liked. Then I got word that he was diagnosed with cancer. Not being one to deal with death and things that cause death very easily, I never made too much of an effort to see him.

In the beginning when you couldn’t really tell anything was wrong I’d try to come in and see him when I could, especially during the farming season since that was one of the big bonds we shared. Then it got to be rough for him and I was usually too chicken to go see him because I didn’t want to be around him with the knowledge everything wasn’t ok. I always made it seem like I was simply too busy, but that was more of a justification to myself. It came to the point where he was facing his last weeks here and I knew I needed to go see him again.

I took off the next Friday night for home. A bunch of Mike’s friends were going to get together with him and hang out, just like the good ‘ol days. Even being as nervous as I was, I actually was looking forward to being there. I managed to get worked up to seeing him and became very anxious on the ride home. When I got home, before I took off to Mike’s place, my parents told me that he had passed away during my trip home. It was kind of like a sledgehammer to the face and didn’t know how to react. That day was on my mind quite a bit for the next couple of months.

Eventually, I must have filed it away into the back of my mind, but seeing the window cling about him today stirred everything back up again. I guess even though I don’t really feel like I miss high school any more, I do realize that it was a very important time for me. The friends from that time have meant a lot to me. Who knows, now that I’m back around in the area maybe I’ll run into them more, or I might not, but at least it’s giving me something to think about.