Tuesday, May 31, 2005


It's spring time and with spring time comes newborn animals and with newborn animals comes KITTENS! We have three cute little kitties this year--an orange one, a calico one, and a gray & white one. Check out the pictures of these little critters or watch this video I took of them (note: I think you need the latest Divx codec to watch it).

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dumb, Dumb Domino's

For my money’s worth, the north Domino’s Pizza here in Rochester is the most incompetently run food establishment that I have ever dealt with. Today only hammered the fact home. I had long suspected that there was absolutely no one of any quality working there and today it was confirmed.

Often on Fridays at work my fellow co-workers and myself will put in an order of pizzas for lunch. Domino’s medium pizzas for $5 a piece when you order 3 or more is such a great deal that it just makes too much sense NOT to order pizza at least once a week.

It hasn’t always been bad experiences, but a lot of the time is has been. One time they screwed up all of the toppings but had the labels on the boxes right while another time they screwed up the labels but had the pizzas right. The second scenario was much easier to rectify back at work than the first. Often it will take dozens of rings when calling them before they pick up and giving your order is always a rough experience. None of this is overly terrible to tell you the truth. Sure, getting wrong pizzas is annoying, but we eventually got the right ones and even got a free pizza out of the deal.

Today, however, I experienced true incompetence. I called to order at 11:00 this morning so we could eat at 11:30 or so, much like we always do. No answer. I try at 11:15. No answer. I actually drive across the road to see if their phones are just not working and see that there are no lights on at the place and no one is there. Wondering what is going on, I call the south Domino’s. The guy that answers hardly speaks our language and after hearing my plight tells me that he’ll check into it. Before I can even respond to him he hangs up on me.

He never calls me back and hoping for a miracle I call the north Domino’s again. No one there. I call the south Domino’s back again and get told that the manager of the north location can’t be located, that the south Domino’s won’t deliver to us, and that they’re sorry for the situation. Awesome.

I call the north Domino’s one last time, crossing my fingers in the hopes that by some act of God a worker will have showed up. Sure enough, someone was finally there. It was now noon. I put in my order and went over to pick it up at 12:20. As I pick up my pizzas I tell the cashier, “Did you know that no one was here this morning and that you had customers calling to put in orders?”

“Umm… yeah.”

“Well, I had wanted to order pizzas at 11:00 and I even drove over here to see if it was a problem with the phone when I saw no one was here. My co-workers and myself wanted these pizzas about an hour ago.”

“Uhh… yeah, sorry. That’ll be $26.”

At this point I had to embellish a little if I wanted cheaper pizzas because I was bound and determined to make it worth my effort for wasting the time I did this morning. While he looked at me emptily I told him, “These pizzas were for a business meeting that is now over. My clients had nothing to eat during the meeting.”

“Umm… I can discount you some.”

I figured that would be good enough for me, so we ended up getting pizzas for half off which meant that each pizza was only $2.50, which all of my co-workers were quite happy about. I was pissed about the wasted time, but at least we finally got our food. Hopefully in the future Domino’s won’t hire complete and utter ass-clowns as workers. It’d also be nice if they axed the current employee roster since they are as far from competent as Pluto is from the sun.

Oh, just so you know, free comic book month is continuing, I just haven’t put together the latest winners. Don’t worry, they’re coming!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Still Adjusting

When I was first promoted to the position of business analyst a little over a month ago, I thought that not a lot would really change from when I was just the company’s technical writer. At first there wasn’t a lot of changes, but now I’m starting to realize all the extra stuff that comes with the position… and I’m not even fully into the role yet.

The first major difference is the scope of the tasks I have. As a technical writer I usually had one or two projects that I was working on at any one time (usually only one) and they were pretty large in scope. I’d have a manual to write or release notes to put together or something of that nature. It was easy to stay focused on one thing because I only really had one thing to do.

Now, I have so many small things to keep track of. Dealing with customer needs and wants, putting together software requirements, creating mock-ups, continuing to do a lot of my technical writing work from before (since they didn’t hire anyone to take up that position after I vacated it), and tons of other little things now make everything about this position a little more hectic.

The other thing that I’m getting used to is having to go to meetings. In the past I never really had a need to go to them, but now they’re used for all kinds of different aspects of my job. I don’t really mind them, but at times it makes it hard to get what you need done done since there’s less hours in a day to do it. I guess I haven’t gotten into the habit of adding in the extra time meetings take when gauging how long it will take me to get a task accomplished.

What I do really like about this new position is the variety of things that I do get to do. No longer am I relegated to writing tasks. I still do that, but I also get to interface with customers, interact with the co-workers on my team more, do some graphic design, decide project specifications, and simply communicate with people more.

I’m sure it’ll only get more hectic as time goes on, but hopefully I’ll become more acclimated to the hustle and bustle by that time. Who knows, maybe I’ll actually get good at what I’m doing and learn to turn the heavier workload into something that actually benefits me. Crazier things have happened.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

My First Ever Trip to the ER

Yes, I know it’s been pretty silent here for a bit, but there has been good reason—my first ever trip to the emergency room of a hospital. Sunday morning was a rough, rough morning for me. As soon as I awoke, I was greeted with an overpowering feeling of nausea. Minutes later most of what I had eaten the day before was staring back at me from the bottom of a toilet bowl. I figured that I must have eaten something bad the night before, which I most likely did, but I never figured that the puking would continue.

About 15 minutes after my first puking experience I was back in the bathroom hunched over the same bowl upchucking what was left of the food in my stomach. I must have eaten something really icky and it took two tries to get it all out. I should have been fine… but that was just the start.

I actually ended up vomiting four more times before I called Kristin to see what I should do. Her mom is a nurse so if anyone could help I knew she could. She told me to give it a little while to see if it quit and to try to drink some water. If I couldn’t quit vomiting, I should head to the hospital.

After I broke into double digits for the number of times I’d puked, I knew I needed to go in. Thankfully, Burns was around to drive me in. On our way in I only managed to chunder once, and by that time there wasn’t really much in the realm of content in my puke. It was mostly liquid if anything at all.

Once they got me into the ER, they took my vitals and found that I was orthostatic and severely dehydrated from all the puking. They hooked me up to an IV and pumped me full of anti-nausea medication and two full bags of fluids throughout the afternoon. Once they started my IV and got some drugs into me I finally quit puking and could function again.

I was pretty weak throughout the day and felt like ass. Thankfully it wasn’t anything more serious than some bad food poisoning, but nonetheless it was NOT a fun experience. Food is still somewhat unappealing to me, but I’m working my way back to wanting to eat again.

So if you were wondering why it’s been quiet on the blogging front, well, now you know!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Twelve Through Fourteen

It's been a few days since I've released winners, so here are some more! For anyone still interested, I haven't even received enough entries to fill up the entire month, so I'm pretty sure if you enter, you'll win something!

Danny gets free comics because:

"I'm submitting my FCBD entry because I've been wanting to get into comics and graphical novels for a while and I haven't known where to start. Anything good for someone just starting out would be great. I like the normal geeky stuff, LOTR, sci-fi, HHGG, superheroes, etc."

You will receive:
My Name is Chaos #1-4 (a four issue DC prestige mini focusing on an interesting new sci-fi story)
Ragamuffins #1 (who doesn't love a comic names "ragamuffins"?)
Metaphysique #2 (interesting mystical story from Norm Breyfogle)

Red gets free comics because:

"I'm an avid collector & I love comics in general."

You will receive:
American Flagg #7, 11, 12, 38, 43, 48 (a great cross-section of the groundbreaking series created by Howard Chaykin)
Captain Paragon #1 (just because)

Chris gets free comics because:

"It's FCBD and I'm swamped with grading and classwork because it's the weekend before finals and I can't go get free comics, even though they're free, because I have no free time, which is not really free, when you think about it. Knowing that free comics are on the way will buoy me through finals and help carry me into the promised land of summer."

You will receive:
Showcase '94 #10 (I miss titles like this that have tons of characters in their series run)
End Times #1 (captivating Latino noir)
LEGION '93 #49 (DC's cosmic superheroes always seemed so much superior to Marvel's)
Steampunk #9 (Chris Bachalo's pencils are a marvel to behold)
Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice #1, 3 (modern DC western!)
Darkhawk #15 (just because)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still a ton of comics left to give out, just go here. Tell your friends!

Friday, May 20, 2005

The End of an Era

It was bound to happen eventually and last night was the night it did. Reggie Miller has played his last game as an NBA player and with his retirement goes a small part of me. Miller has always been my favorite NBA player and will always hold a place in my heart as the personification of what the NBA is--basketball with attitude.

The NBA is a lot different than college hoops. In college you have teams that have come together because of teamwork, good coaching, and tons of effort. The NBA is a playground for the immensely talented showboaters of the sport of basketball. For this reason a lot of people hate the NBA, but I've always enjoyed a little bit of the cockiness and attitude of the NBA and no one embodied that "I'm going to kick some ass and I know it" attitude than Reggie Miller.

I initially got to becoming a Miller fan when I was quite young and Miller was just finding himself in the NBA. My Grandpa Eddie was a huge sports fan and had decided to buy a satellite dish so that he could watch more sports than were available on the 3 stations he could get out in the country. He bought one of those gigantic satellites that looked like they belonged on a spacecraft of some kind and before I knew it, there was more sports available to watch than I could find time to watch with him.

Sports, especially basketball, was the strongest bond that I shared with my grandfather and to this day every NBA game I watch I think of him and remember sitting in the living room of his house, a mile down the road from where I live, cheering at the television. I'm not sure why it happened, but both my grandpa and I became big Indiana Pacers fans, which was kind of weird considering we lived in Minnesota. Whenever we had the chance we'd watch Indiana play and marvel at how a scrawny, 160 pound guard could do what he did against so many physically superior players and still remain confident.

There are so many "Reggie moments" that I remember. Giving Spike Lee the choking gesture when he was playing the Knicks. Hitting more buzzer-beating, game-winning three pointers than I can count. His rivalry with the Knicks and John Starks in particular. His trademark gaze into the crowd after making a huge shot. It'll be weird not having him in the league any more, and it's also a little sad that he had to hang it up in a year when the Pacers were marred by so much controversy and negative attention.

Even with his retirement, some things won't change. Whenever I play basketball, I'll still always imagine myself as him putting in the last second three pointer for the win. I'll always argue that Miller would be more dependable in the clutch than Jordan (much to Eaton's fury). I'll always remember him whenever I see Indiana play, and I'll always treasure all of the time that I spent with my grandpa watching Miller strut his stuff. I'll miss Reggie, but I hope that retirement treats him well. I don't know if I'll have nearly as much interest in the NBA now that he's not a part of it, but at least I'll always have the memories.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New Toy!

I did it. I bought a new digital camera. I couldn't help myself, it's in my blood. My mom is a professional photographer after all! For the last few years I've been using my Olympus 2 megapixel camera and it's been doing a decent job, but it didn't have all of the options I wanted, it sometimes took unclear pictures, the resolution was relatively low for large prints, and it didn't do video. I've been wanting to take more pictures and try doing some artistic digital manipulation, but the pictures from my old camera just couldn't cut it. My other camera was also bulky so I couldn't just stick in a pocket and go. This has all changed as I just bought the beauty you see below--the Canon SD400.

I'm not going to try to sell you on this camera, but from the reviews I've read and from the playing around I've done with the display models at both Staples and Best Buy, this is a pretty fine camera, especially for being so damn tiny! This thing is absolutely teenie in comparison to my old camera and my mom's SLR digital. It's about the size of a deck of cards, but it has more features than most camera's twice its size (and price).

It does video with sound, which will be really nice. It's 5 megapixels so I can make big prints. It has a plethora of manual settings so I can actually customize how the pictures will look instead of hoping my camera takes a decent looking pic of what I'm pointing it at. It's sturdy and made of metal components so it doesn't feel like I'll break it by putting it in my pocket. It has just about everything I could want and it comes in a tiny package!

There are a few small drawbacks. I've heard the LCD is a little more fragile than those found in some other cameras, so I'll have to be kind of careful with that. It only came with a 16 meg memory card which will only hold like 8-9 pictures when you are taking them at the highest resolution and sensitivity. This wasn't a real problem, though, since I bought it at Staples this week and they are giving out free 256 mb cards with this model (and I used a 12% off coupon for even more savings). I might look into getting a 1 gb card so I can take longer movies, but that all depends on how often I'll want to do movies.

I'm anxious to play around with this little guy and see what he can do. If anyone else has used this model, let me know what you think. Also, if you're looking for a cheap 2 megapixel camera with a gigantic memory card, let me know. I'm looking to get rid of mine and would rather not go through ebay.

Autoviolet - Autoviolet EP CD Review

When Evanescence unleashed the single “Bring Me to Life” upon the radio listening and MTV watching masses, I seriously thought that there would be hundreds upon hundreds of copycat bands trying to ape the female-fronted, emotional rock sound found in the song. It was slightly different than most of what was popular at the time so people latched onto it and radio stations played it over and over again—too many times if you ask me. Oddly, there weren’t very many copycat bands to follow in Evanescence’s steps, which I was somewhat glad about. It seems like whenever a slightly underexposed genre gets even a little time in the limelight, every third new band tries to jump into that genre.

Even though there weren’t a ton of copycats, there were some and, as I’m sure you can guess by now, Autoviolet are one of the few that cropped up. With this being an independently released EP, you can’t expect anything near the level of production that a major label band would have, but for the most part this EP comes off very professional sounding. Even with a professional feel, the EP is ultimately underwhelming.

Utilizing a basic hard rock / metal approach, augmenting it with electronics, and finishing it off with melodic female vocals, Autoviolet create a release that is easily listenable, but lacking anything to really bring a listener back for repeated listens. There are positives to this disc, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t enough to overcome the average nature of the rest of the effort.

One song will stand out amongst the rest—“Fragment Mind”. In drastic opposition to the rest of the songs on this cd, “Fragment Mind” has a poppy and jazzy feel for the first half of the song with a swagger to it that makes you wish the rest of the cd would follow its pattern. Once the middle of the song is reached, though, the band falls back into the basic emotional rock trappings that define most of their songs.

The final track, “No More Now” also takes on a jazzy, flowing feel throughout which sets it apart from the rest of the songs, but at times the song feels a little too basic. This doesn’t subtract from its vibrancy, but the transitions made throughout the song to using distorted guitars in favor of the already established funky flow do take away from it.

If Autoviolet were to focus less on the blasé rock elements of their sound and give more attention to the potential eclectic-ness that they possess, we’d be in for a heck of a jazzy-electo-funktastic-rock treat, but until they break out of the trappings that are holding them down, they won’t be able to create a name for themselves in such a crowded musical arena.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Ten and Eleven

I'm a little behind so here are today's and Monday's winners!

Hannah gets free comics because:

"Hi, great contest. Thinking about comics I enjoyed and then trying to narrow the field down gave me some kind of acid-like flashback to my barely-pre-adolescent psychological outlook and general thought process. An odd experience, to say the least. So, in addition to my entry in the contest, please find a bill from the local mental-health institution. People became concerned by my re-found Rain Man-like obsessive collecting of every single 80's Xmen miniseries: they became insistent an in-patient stay when they found I'd purchased duplicate copies of, "Kitty Pryde & Wolverine," "Havoc & Wolverine," and "storm & Xavier.""

Hopefully some free comics helps heal your mental state!

You receive:
Dark Wolf #1-4 (demonic superhero action!)
New Triumph featuring Northguard #1 (Canadian superhero action!)
Savage Combat Tales #2 (military action from 1975!)
War Dancer #1 (Aztec superhero action!)

Jason gets free comics because:

"These free comics would not be for me but for my good friend who is currently stuck on his parents' couch for the next 2 months because of a broken leg. Not a good place for any 23 year old male. He broke his leg when our band was about to play our first gig at a house party. The cops raided and, while running he jumped a fence and it broke, he fell and broke his fibula. He has no insurance so he is screwed. So, these comics would be to help him keep a little bit of his sanity during his time stuck on the couch."

Man, that is terribly crappy. I hope he enjoys the free comics coming his way.

You receive:
Star Trek #30-32, 35 (from when Star Trek didn't suck, which means they came out before Voyager)
Iron Man Annual #13 (ol' shellhead kicks ass for 64 pages)
Knights on Broadway #1 (some crazy sci-fi)
Star Seed #9 (sci-fi superhero combo)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still a ton of comics left to give out, just go here. Tell your friends! There aren't a whole lot of entries so your chances are pretty good if you enter...

My World View

You scored as Postmodernist. Postmodernism is the belief in complete open interpretation. You see the universe as a collection of information with varying ways of putting it together. There is no absolute truth for you; even the most hardened facts are open to interpretation. Meaning relies on context and even the language you use to describe things should be subject to analysis.





Cultural Creative












What is Your World View? (corrected...hopefully)
created with QuizFarm.com

Larry's Got It Right

As I was reading Larry’s blog this morning about his feelings towards the real world, I couldn’t help but relate to almost everything he had to say. The real world isn’t nearly as fun as college and that’s often been a hard thing for me to come to grips with, and that’s assuming I’ve come to grips with it (which I haven’t).

When I was a freshman at college, I didn’t dive right into the college life like many freshman do. I came into it with an air of fear and an overpowering sense of not belonging. There I was, surrounded by people I didn’t know in an environment that was totally unfamiliar completely on my own, all alone. I worked hard at my classes and focused most of my time on being successful at school and staying in shape. I had injured myself pretty badly at the beginning of freshman year so for the first half of the year I was getting myself rehabilitated while the second half of the year I was focusing on getting into better shape than I was in.

Working out became the only other real big focus for me besides school. I didn’t drink, so partying wasn’t appealing. Many of the kids I had class with were either unbelievably geeky (I was a computer science major after all), elitist assholes (I was in honors after all), or drunken idiots (I was a freshman after all). Needless to say, I didn’t have the most active social life.

Freshman year came to an end and it felt like I had simply been away at camp for an extended period of time. Some things changed in my life that summer and I came back to college my sophomore year with the attitude of most freshman. Now I wanted to go out and make friends, go to parties, meet people, and really dive into the college life. What was hard was the fact that all of the sophomores I knew had already established themselves and their social circles so I was forced to go out and search for my friends. I found many, actually, but they were all most a year or two ahead of me. Now, years after they’ve graduated, I’ve lost contact with most of them. No doubt many of them are married and have lives started by now.

Junior year I really hit my stride in college. I had a great group of friends, I was playing a ton of intramural sports, I was on the ultimate frisbee club team, school was going great, and I just felt at home in the college environment. Finally, everything started clicking and everything was going swimmingly for me.

Senior year was even better than junior year. I still had a great social circle. I made even more friends, grew closer to the ones I already knew, found an absolutely breathtaking girlfriend, and I felt like nothing could get better. Really, it couldn’t.

Then graduation came. That was rough. Even though I was coming back for one more semester to finish my philosophy major to complement the computer science major I’d already completed, it felt weird graduating. My final semester of school was great, but not quite as awesome as the second semester of my senior year. December quickly rolled around and I was done.

Just as soon as I felt like I had college nailed down and just as soon as I felt like everything was going my way I graduate, get a job in a town 175 miles from St. Cloud, where St. John’s University was, and step into the real world. From the first day of being in the real world, I knew it would never live up to college life.

I kept praying and hoping that the real world just took time to get used to and that it would eventually be as cool as college, but 17 months of being in the real world, I still want to go back to college. Will this feeling ever go away? Will I ever stop longing for the college life? Part of me really hopes so because I think it would suck to constantly live longing for something you can’t have back, but another part of me hopes that at least a little bit of that longing is there. As long as it’s there, I’ll always know that college was a wonderful experience. It really was. I miss it dearly. Anyone want to pay for me to go to grad school?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Eight and Nine

I'm going to be out this weekend so here's the winners for days eight and nine.

John gets free comics because:

"1) You Rule
2) You Rule
3) You Rule
4) I can’t beat you in poker, you are a poker God
5) Because Who Wouldn’t Want Free Comics?
6) Batman is Better than Superman
7) TMNT was actually a decent series (based on Artist/Writer)
8) You Rule!
9) You Rule!
10) And the list goes on…"

Well, I can't really disagree :-) Sorry I don't have any Sonic comics to add to your collection!

He receives:
Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure (the start of a great Batman arc)
Batman Annual 24 (some more sweet Batman action)
What If? #53 (three, count 'em, THREE alternate reality tales)
Spider-Man Unlimited #4 (a fun, self-contained tale with a squid monster)
Marvel Superheroes Spring Special 1992 (80 pages of Avengers action)
Marvel Superheroes Winter Special 1992 (80 MORE pages of action starring Iron Man, Dr. Strange, and the Falcon)

Stephen gets free comics because:

"I (possibly) need one of the comics that you're giving away because if I don't have it, I won't be able to tell others about it in my jewishcomics forum or list
it in my Jewish comics bibliography. Well, that wasn't very witty, but it's the truth.

To get some sense of what I'm talking about, vist any (or all) of the following :

Jews in Comics
(for the most part, comics I already have)

(for the most part, comics I don't have yet)

(discussion of comics that I have or that I'm trying
to get)"

Who would have thought that there is a group dedicated to finding Jewish comics. I don't know if I have any to send you, but hopefully what I do send is good reading anyhow.

He receives:
The Vision #1-4 (mini series starring our favorite robot Avenger)
Shatter #1 (the first computerized comic. It says so on the cover! Reading up on the inside cover, I found out that some of the work on this comic was done using an Apple III. Wow.)
Freejack #1, 3 (I never saw the movie, but I'm sure this adaptation by Chuck Dixon is better)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still a ton of comics left to give out, just go here. Tell your friends! There aren't a whole lot of entries so your chances are pretty good if you enter...

Super Happy Fun Links...

...since today is yet another ultra crappy day. 48 degrees, overcast, and rain every now and again. It's so depressing. To help alleviate my depression, I went out and found a bunch of really neat links that helped cheer me up at least a little bit. Here they are.

--Celebrities cussing. This is hilarious simply because interspersed between all the actual cussing is some off the wall, non-cuss words used as cuss words. Just check it out already!
--Darth Vader's blog. I've been reading it for a week or so now. It's actually really funny and true to the character at the same time. I just hate how the site is plastered with Google ads.
--Hilarious Batman comic. This is a frame from a Batman comic taken completely out of context... which makes it really funny to think about.
--NIN meets Ghostbusters. It's a pretty simple mp3 mash-up, but it's still interesting nonetheless, at least for me since I love both NIN and the Ghostbusters.
--Barterbee. Lastly, if you haven't checked out this trading site, do it! I've traded away a ton of my old dvd's and cd's and managed to snag a few xbox games and dvd's in return. The more people signed up means the more stuff there is to trade!

Well, that's about it. Wherever you're reading this from, I hope it's not nearly as depressing outside as it is here.

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Seven

Thomas gets free comics because:

"I try to get kids who are bright to be hooked to comics."

Good job, Thomas. Reel 'em on in.

He receives:
A wonderful Comics Kid Pack that includes
Marvel Superheroes Summer Special Summer 1991 (starring the X-men, Speedball, and Power Pack)
Power Pack #4 (those crazy kids!)
Police Academy #2-4 (at least as good as the movies)
Lion King #1 (to hook kids who only like Disney)
Thorion of the New Asgods #1 (for you, for getting kids started with the hobby)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still a ton of comics left to give out, just go here. Tell your friends!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Better Than 90% of the Ads on TV

I stumbled across this site yesterday and ended up laughing my ass off at these fake commercials that someone made for firefox. I would love to see creativity like that used to create these ads in the majority of the advertisements on tv. I might actually enjoy watching commercials again. From time to time I actually like watching commercials if they're clever, funny, or well made. Pick a random commercial break nowadays and they're all crap.

Look at the current Nike ads. None of them make any sense whatsoever. One particular ad has two robots punching each other, each time causing a color change, until one is arbitrarily chosen as the winner. Flash Nike logo and commercial ends. Lame.

Then there's the Mountain Dew ads. Some guy has to play basketball against a bunch of ninjas and demons. He dribbles through them, all the while the camera flashily is jump cutting all over the place, only to run up a demon's chest to lay the ball in. He then proclaims no one touched him at which point his hair and clothes fall off because they were sliced up while was dribbling. Flash Mountain Dew logo. What's the point of this?

What really gets me are all of the truck ads. They are all the exact same commercial with different trucks. Here's the template: show truck driving around doing tough, truck stuff while a deep voiced announcer proclaims how good it is. Intersperse some text about how it compares to other trucks, say a tagline, and end the commercial. Every truck ad bores me to tears!

Why does every commercial have to be some postmodern avant garde attempt at artistry, faux edgy, or boring? Why is there no creativity? I want good commercials dammit!

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Six

Nathan gets free comics because:

"I checked out your reviews, which read nicely."

Well, that's better than him telling me they suck...

He receives:
Hellhole #1-3 (mini series from Scott Lobdell)
Double Dragon #3 (I loved the video game when I was younger)
Micronauts #45 (smell that? Yep, it's actual newsprint, a smell that'll always be associated with my youth)
Spitfire and the Troubleshooters #4 (big. red. robot. 'nuff said)
Rack & Pain #4 (written by Brian Pulido with a rocking cover by Greg Capullo)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here. Tell your friends!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Patriot Act Up For Renewal

On December 31st, 16 provisions of the Patriot Act will be expiring if not renewed by Congress. When this act was first put into play I can't say I was the biggest fan. I know it was enacted with good intentions and to attempt to curb acts of terror, but a few of the provisions overstepped their bounds. I would hope that some of these provisions get renewed, but there are definitely a few I would like to see disappear.
Section 206 -- Allows federal officials to issue roving "John Doe" wiretaps for spy and anti-terrorism investigations.
Anything that gives the government to use our friend "John Doe" to spy on people is not going to sit well with me. It gives you the feeling that everyone is presumed guilty until proven innocent. If you seem even suspicious in the least you could be tapped. I sure as hell don't want my communications tapped just because some federal official thinks I might be a terrorist.
Section 207 -- Increases the amount of time that federal officials can watch people they suspect are spies or terrorists.
I don't know exactly how long the amount of time specified is, or how long it has been increased to, but I do know that I wouldn't want a prolonged governmental surveillance over me just to see if I'm a terrorist. Heck, they could spy on people for the heck of it, for the full specified time limit, under the premise that the person is a "supposed terrorist".

Beyond those two specifically, I don't like a lot of the ambiguous wording of some of the provisions. I know the link above doesn't give the longest definitions of the provisions, but just some of the terminology should be clarified. Terms like "hacker" or "electronics" or "electronic communication" all seem like they could be twisted to work in anyone's favor.

I know there was a big stink caused when the Patriot Act was first put into action, and it was put into action quite thoroughly, as one hearing disclosed that it was put into use 108 times over a particular 22 month stretch. I personally would like to see more refinement given to the provisions of this act if they are to be kept. If not, then what's the point of having hearings to discuss it?

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Five

Matt gets free comics because:

"I dig comics. Wait, that's not witty. How about: I missed the actual Free Comic Book Day because my grandmother died. The reason she died: a heart attack while reading Countdown to Infinite Crisis. Not at Blue Beetle getting shot, or because Maxwell Lord was the villain. It was those freaky monkeys the Shazam wizard had. Those things really creeped her out. I knew I shouldn't have let her read it. I should have given her The Walking Dead instead. She always did like zombies."

He receives:
A Continuity Comics Extravaganza which includes...
The Zero Patrol #1 (a "collector's first issue" so it must be worth millions!)
Valeria the She Bat #1 (a Neal Adams creation)
Samuree #1-2 (crazy ninja babe action)
Ms Mystic #3 (isn't she now a Marvel or DC character?)
Megalith #3 (he reminds me of Prime)
Earth 4 #1 (card-stock cover, baby)
Armor #11 (can you have a more generic title for a comic?)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here. Tell your friends!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What Do You Smell?

The only way you'll truly be able to understand how funny this line is in a work environment is to try it out for yourself. With that being known, I was sitting in my cubicle this afternoon working on a file import spec, wishing the work day was done. The office was relatively quiet and you could hear a small conversation between a couple of co-workers a little ways over, but for the most part it was deathly quiet.

I was attempting to work on the spec while tune into the conversation to see what it was about. I think they were talking about baseball, but I couldn't be sure. I decided to give up on listening in and thought about putting my headphones back on so I could listen to some of the new cds I'd happened upon over the weekend. It was at that moment a coworker who sits next to the men's bathroom, out of the blue, uttered the following line at a very high decible level:

"Hey, I smell peanuts."

How to Get Back at Someone

You could always make photocopies of a naked picture of someone and then distribute them around school. Seriously, I hope that I never get someone so pissed off at me that they'll get a picture of me in my birthday suit, copy it, and give it to my co-workers or people that I know. Actually... I'd hope that there are no naked pictures of me out there anywhere to begin with. The closest thing I can think of to a naked picture of myself would one from college where my roommate, Chen, and myself ran outside in only our boxers during a snowstorm in the middle of winter. You can probably find that one if you really wanted by browsing through my photo galleries.

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Four

Nick gets free comics because:

"I would like some free comics because I'm not witty enough, and if I read comics, I'll be able to leech the writers' wit and talent and stop being such a boring person.

Or not."

He receives:
Lynch Mob #1-4 (complete mini by Brian Pulido)
Mr. Monster #1 (classic indy monster action)
Champions #3 (superhero action from Eclipse)
Twilight Man #1 (this feels like it should have been a Vertigo title)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here. Tell your friends!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Three

Libby gets free comics because:

"My anime and comics club decided to do Free Comic Book Day when we found out that the local comic book store wasn't going to (they can't really afford to give ANYTHING away -- they lost an entire store worth of comics in last year's floods and are still in desperate financial straits). It turned out it was too late to get the official free comics, but we really wanted to do it, so we just begged people for comics, and donated our own, and even bought some from flea markets. So we ended up with about 200 comics, and we reserved a table at the local mall, and gave them out all day today. It was soooo fun, and we told everyone where they could get more and which ones are best for which ages, and I think we got some kids really into it. There we only 5 comics left at when the mall closed (2 Guy Gardener issues, a coverless comic including a story called "The Singing Donkey", and 2 Ex-Mutants issues... "Not even for free", I guess.). It was a definite success!!! Anyway, the reason I need a free comics is... around a 125 of those books were my own, and I really need to replenish my collection!!!"

She receives:

Dark Horse Presents #77, 84-87 (this was such a great anthology series--I miss it)
Badrock #1A (everyone loves Rob Liefeld, right? Sorry, had to send some bad with the good)
Curse of the Spawn #18 (Dwayne Turner turns in some awesome pencils on this one)
Black Flag #1 (gorillas, demons, the military... how could it get any better?)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Free Comic Book Month -- Day Two

Nobius gets free comics because:

"My children seem to deem it more necessary to eat then for Daddy to buy comic books, they've got me down to only reading four titles and one is bimonthly. It's killing me. Those darn kids! "

He receives:
Willow #1-3 (in case you haven't seen the classic movie)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #41 (for the kiddies)
Silver Sable #4 (Doctor Doom appears!)
Psychoblast #7 (it just look interesting)
Cyber City OEDO 808 Part Three #2 (because it confuses me)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Something's Definitely Not Right

Right now, my body is telling me something's wrong. It won't let me sleep at night. All I do is toss, turn, and wake up gasping from nightmares. During the days I'm filled with anxiety. So much so that at times I'll get jittery and my stomach will feel upset. Just a few minutes ago I was mowing lawn and I really thought I was going to puke everything in my stomach out across the grass. I took a little break and I started to simply feel weak.

Beyond that, I have a bruise the size of a softball on the back of my left calf. I don't know how it got there, what I did to get it, or how long it's been there, but it's there. It doesn't hurt but it looks menacing. If not for a friend telling me that it was there last night, I doubt I would have ever even noticed it there.

My left arm also hasn't been up to snuff. Ever since I had that viral infection in my left shoulder, my left arm has felt weaker and I have a hard time gripping things in my left hand in comparison to my right. I was carrying a box for my grandma the other day and the side I had in my left hand kept wanting to slip out because I couldn't hold on tight enough.

To top it off, yesterday while I was running after about 2.5 miles my chest just started burning. I've never gotten chest pains while running in the past, but yesterday I had to stop and walk the last 3/4 a mile home. Seriously freaky.

I don't know what it is... well I might... no, I don't think I do know what is wrong, but I do know that my body is trying to tell me that something isn't like it should be right now or that something bad is on its way. I sincerely hope that it's nothing, but I always figure that it's better to be prepared for the worst than to hope nothing bad will happen.

Free Comic Book Month -- Day One

Martin gets free comics because:

"If I win free comics, I will tell you a joke, and it will forever be your joke. You can tell it with impunity, without any moral obligation to preface it with "I heard this from..." or follow it up with "I got it off a Laffy Taffy wrapper". "

He receives:
Flash 50th Anniversary Special #1 (50 years is a long time)
Flash #56 (flashy!)
Superman vs. Aliens #3 (there's no way any amount of aliens could take Superman)
The Establishment #1 (British superhero action in the Wildstorm Universe)
Deadman #4 (he's dead and he's a man--one of those things is good, the other not)

Enjoy! Remember, there's still time to enter, just go here.

[Update: Here's the joke Martin traded me for the comics:

An orangutan walks into a bar. He knuckles his way over to the barstool closest to the beer nut bowl and takes a seat, then orders a beer. Now, the bartender figures "Hey, what do orangutans know?" and charges ten bucks. The orangutan just shrugs, pulls a sawbuck out of god-knows-where, and settles down to enjoy his drink. The orangutan really takes his time with the beer, eating handfulls of nuts inbetween each sip, so the bartender has plenty of time for his curiousity to get the better of him. He starts wiping down the bar near the orangutan's seat in hopes that the great ape will start a conversation, but the orangutan continues to silently nurse his beer. Finally, the bartender can't take it anymore. He catches the orangutan's eye and casually says "Y'know, we don't get a lot of orangutans in here..." The orangutan snorts and replys "At these prices? I'm not surprised."]

Friday, May 06, 2005

Worried and Wondering

It's only a little more than a week until Kristin gets back from Central America and I find myself overcome with so many more emotions than I thought I would be when she first left. Really I thought the only thing I'd be feeling the closer she got to coming back was anticipation. That is definitely one thing I'm feeling now, but there are so many more accompanying it.

I never really took the time to realize it, but a lot can change in four months. You can learn a lot about yourself, those around you, what you need in your life, and the direction that you want your life to take. In the past I've never had too much of a reason to really consciously contemplate the happenings of my life, but during this four month separation from Kristin I've really been able to take stock of my life and sometimes it scares me.

People never want to admit to themselves when they possess a trait that they hate. I never want to admit to myself that anything is wrong with me, even though I know tons of things are. The biggest thing that I've finally admitted to myself is that I am not nearly as independant of a person as I wished I was. Being away from Kristin has been extremely tough and getting to talk to her maybe once a week by phone and keep in touch by the occasional email hasn't been able to satisfy me.

I hate getting frustrated by the lack of contact because I know that it is about as much as I can ask for with her countries away, but sometimes logic just doesn't factor in to how you feel. Even on days when we have been able to talk, I find that I crave simply being able to sit next to her and talk or to give her a hug or to share a smile across the table at dinner. I now understand why most of the couples I have seen go through long separations, such as study abroad programs, have always had a tough time. The longing for companionship, closeness, and the touch of another person could easily lead someone to being unfaithful or to give up on the relationship they are in instead of pushing through the hardships of distance.

It is also quite easy for insecurity and pessimism to grow and fester as time goes on. You wouldn't believe how many times I'd think to myself "she's going to see how much better the men down there are in comparison to me," or "when she gets back whatever I do with her won't be able to compare with her experiences in Central America." The reality is, for the time being, the United States probably will feel routine, boring, and uninteresting when she gets back. When I hear about all of the wonderful things she has been experiencing I often find myself thinking that my life is drab, ordinary, and lifeless.

I've seen altogether too many couples break up while one of the two people in the relationship were abroad and that's quite scary. Looking simply at the number of couples I've seen survive versus the number that haven't, the odds are not in our favor, but I believe our relationship is strong enough to make it through. I don't think it'll be easy because we will both have changed to some degree and our goals may have shifted while we were apart, but with work, understanding, and patience it I pray everything will work itself out.

It's interesting how fear can often lead you to making untrue presuppositions about people, situations, and yourself. It shows you the worst in everything and it also makes it seem like it is the only possible way things could be. Too often I let fear cloud my vision and when I do, I know it holds me back from being the person I know I am. When I'm scared I hold everything in, I become less social, and I lock people out. I know I do it. I hate that I do it. But I still do it. Fear is a terrible thing, but it's also terribly hard to overcome. I know I have not yet conquered it, but I hope that in time and with the help of those closest to me, I can not let it rule so much of my life. I'm pretty sure Kristin's return will help. She's always been a strong one and I've depended upon that strength too much at times, but I'm glad it is there. Sometimes it's just too hard to get through things alone.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

You Want Some Free Comics?

Ok, I'll admit it right off the bat, I'm going to utterly, shamelessly, and horribly rip off another blog's idea, but I figure it's a really good one and I like the concept. If you visit David Carter's Yet Another Comics Blog you'll see that during the month of May he is giving away a free comic to someone every day of the month. How is that not awesome?

In order to promote comic book reading, I have decided to do much the same thing as David and give away free comics to anyone who would like them. Starting May 7th, which is Free Comic Book Day, I will give away comics to one person a day until June 7th. If I don't get many emails (less than one per day) then everyone who emails will get comics. If I receive more than one email per day then it will be completely random as to who gets the comics. This seems to be the only fair way and that's how I ran my Daisy Kutter contest a while back. I'm not sure how many comics I'll send to each person, but you can be guaranteed it will be at least two as I have a lot of spare comic stock taking up precious space in my room at home!

The only thing I require from anyone emailing me for free comics is that you put "FCBD" in the email title, give me some witty reason as to why you deserve some free comics, and type in your address. Also, since I'm giving away comics, check out my comic book review blog just to be nice. Thanks. That's it! So click on that link over to the right and email me!

Well, that's not completely it. There are a few guidelines that should be pointed out so I don't have to spend too much on postage or get myself in trouble. This is only for residents of the United States that are over 18. Also, please only enter once so that as many people as possible can get in on the free action.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

New Photo Galleries

I finally got a few more photo galleries up on my photos page. There are two new galleries. The first consists of pictures of my house from this last winter right after a snow and some of my kittens that I had to give away. The pictures of the kitties are cute and the pictures of the snow are beautiful. Check 'em out!

The second gallery is from the Butterfly Gardens that are at some special garden in Ames, Iowa. I went there with my mom when we were down to visit my brother, Randy, at ISU a few weeks back. If you like butterflies, there's pictures of a lot of different ones for you to see.

Speaking of pictures, I'm also looking at getting a new digital camera sometime soon as I'd like to have something a little smaller than the one I currently have and I'd also like one that is more than my current 2 megapixels. I'm looking at the Canon SD400 right now. It's pretty tiny, is 5 megapixels, and has tons of features that my current camera doesn't. Also, if you'd like to buy a 2 megapixel digital camera for pretty cheap, drop me an email because I'm going to be selling my current one.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The BEST Media Player

I listen to music on my computer constantly. While I'm at home, while I'm at work, and whenever I'm on my laptop. I listen to mp3's, cd's, and streaming radio. Music is an essential part of my computing experience. I've used a few different media players in my day.

I used to use MusicMatch back in the day simply because it ripped to mp3. Eventually it got too big and bulky to use effectively. I moved over to using Winamp and I've pretty much used that exclusively up until around March or so. The reason I liked winamp so much was that it had a small memory footprint, it monitored media folders, and just plain worked like it should. On my Sony Vaio, however, it would routinely crash which, as you can imagine, got real annoying real fast.

I switched over to using the dreaded Windows Media Player since it was already installed and didn't crash. Oddly enough, version 10 isn't all that bad of a media player. It's a little bulky and its shuffle algorithm could use some work, but it monitors media folders and kept all of my mp3's organized pretty well so I kept using it... until it started crashing on me as well. I'm starting to wonder if both WMP and Winamp were crashing because I would have inordinately large playlists. I'm talking 10,000+ songs on one playlist. I rip ALL of my cds to my hard drive so I can swap them onto my mp3 player since I take that everywhere I'm not at a computer.

Anyways, I gave iTunes a try back in the day, but it's so bloated and full of useless functionality that I don't understand how anyone puts up with it. I was starting to wonder what I could use when I stumbled upon the Quintessential Player. Essentially it's a winamp clone, but if you ask me, it's even better for a few reasons, and because of those reasons QCD is now my media player of choice.

QCD has a very small memory imprint, which is always good. It has all of the basic functionality of winamp, except for the fact that it's media folder monitoring is limited to 256 folders. This is the only real drawback, but I'm sure that most people won't have 256 folders that they want monitored. I'm not quite sure as to if this is limiting you to specifying 256 folders to watch or if it is including subfolders of the folders you specify to watch. Either way, I haven't tried it out too much yet as I just drag my music folder into the playlist window when I want to listen to my mp3's.

One thing that I loved about winamp that none of the other media players I used implemented or implemented well was queueing. Sometimes you want to pick out a few songs to listen to in the middle of some random listening. Winamp would let you do that easily. QCD doesn't implement this by default, but you can add in a plug-in that will add this feature.

Neither winamp or WMP will allow you to rip cd's to mp3 at full speed or at all. This is really annoying, but I have resorted to using CDEX for ripping. With a plug-in for QCD you can rip your cd's to mp3... as fast as your drive will spin the disc. Another plus for QCD.

The final feature, which was the deal sealer for me, that QCD has over all the other media players is that it can record streaming radio. That's right, once you install the mp3 ripping plug-in you can record any radio stream you listen to through QCD. Not only does it simply record radio streams, but it will divide up the stream into the individual tracks that are being played. This feature seriously, seriously rocks my face off.

I have a soft spot for techno and trance, especially live DJ mix sessions, but I can only listen to them on my computer since I listen to them via streaming radio. With QCD, I can have it record some mix sessions to mp3 which I can later burn on to a cd that I can pop into my car to listen to. I also use it to record some talk radio programs that are on late at night which I wouldn't be able to stay up and listen to otherwise.

So if you're looking for one heck of a good media player with tons of features (a few that no other media player has), give QCD (the Quintessential Player) a look.

Gizmachi - The Imbuing CD Review

While browsing through Gizmachi’s bio, you’ll notice that this release, their debut effort, was produced by Clown, of Slipknot fame. With that in mind, this cd seemed almost doomed from the get go. Slipknot hasn’t been relevant in the metal scene for years now, with their last release being nothing more than a hodge-podge of radio friendly metal and Stone Sour inspired songwriting. Anything attached to Slipknot, even tangentially, seems to have a negative stigma attached to it today, which is somewhat unfortunate because The Imbuing is seriously a monster of a modern metal disc.

Gizmachi have expertly crafted a delicate combination of heavy, straight ahead metal and melodic, emotional metal. More often than not there will be a stronger focus on the brutal, down-tuned song style than there is on the melodic, but the melodically charged passages give many of the songs on this disc a tenderness (yes, the word tenderness was used in a metal review) that separates them from many of their peers who are more concerned with simply being unrelentingly heavy or will throw some melody into their songs simply to appeal to the radio friendly metal crowd.

The best example of Gizmachi’s unique marriage of traditional and radio friendly, melodic metal can be found in the song “Wandering Eyes”. It starts off methodically with a groove laden approach underneath aggressive, yelled vocals. As the song progresses, an undercurrent of backing melodic vocals backs up blistering screams before a melodic approach takes center stage, floating over a friendly, less intense musical backing. Just as quickly, the song returns to jack-hammer riffs accompanied by staccato talked out vocals up until the bridge which consists nicely of a sludgy, thick breakdown. The remainder of the songs sees Gizmachi playing out a combination of the song’s earlier melodic and aggressive moments. All of this happens in a seemingly brief five minutes.

The rest of the cd sees Gizmachi bouncing around between straight out aggression, slow-burn build-ups, and melodically peppered metal. Even though Gizmachi have melodic moments, you shouldn’t think of them as creating melodic metal in the vein of the crap that you hear on rock radio. No, their form of melodic metal involves only a slight softening and smoothing out of the guitars and a melodic vocal approach. Rarely do they ever step into the clichés of radio friendly metal. A few passages come close, but they are rare.

For any metal lover out there who doesn’t mind a little melody here and there, you should really give this disc a try. Brutal yet polished, aggressive yet melodic, and always assaulting your eardrums, Gizmachi are a treat after suffering through the waves of sub par metalcore that’s been dominating the scene as of late.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Something's Not Quite Right

I've reached a small milestone in my life last week. I made the move from being a technical writer to becoming a business analyst. Who'd have thought that a year's of experience at technical writing, a degree in philosophy, and a degree in computer science would yield that position in today's work force. I hope that all will go well in this new position.

It's the month of May and here in Minnesota we're still getting snow. I was mowing my grandma's lawn on Saturday when the skies darkened and snow started falling down. Actually, over the last few days it's been snowing on and off, which is no fun whatsoever when you want to be running outside. I shouldn't have to brush snow off of my car in the morning when it's May 2nd unless I live in the Arctic. Seriously.

I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on Friday. It wasn't as good as I would have hoped, but at least it didn't outright suck. Maybe I was expecting too much, maybe I wasn't in the right mood, or maybe the movie actually just wasn't that great, but I found myself let down by it.

The return of Family Guy to Fox's Sunday lineup made my night last night. The new episode was easily one of the funniest of the entire series run. I hope that the creative team pushes Fox to the limits in what they're allowed to televise because that's when the show is at its best. American Dad, on the other hand, just wasn't very good. I watched until the first commercial break before I turned it off. I just didn't like it at all.

Do you ever get that dreadful feeling that you just know something bad is going to happen. Slowly and methodically it worms its way into your thoughts, starting at the periphery of your mind but bit by bit you come to realize it's there. Something feels like it's not right and then, all of the sudden, the realization will hit you and you'll panic. Something bad is going to happen and you know it, but you don't know what. You ever get that feeling? I do. I have it now.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Complete the Puzzle

Give me your heart, it’s all I need
Your love, the source of all my greed
More and more, I always crave
This needs to happen
Right now, right here
There’s no waiting anymore

Too long I’ve put my life on hold
Growing old and slowly turning cold
So much more I need to be
Than simply an afterthought
Neither of us understands
How much this ultimately means

You deserve all that I have to give
Because I need you if I want to live
You think you’re less than perfect
It’s the truth of all our lives
Forget the fairy tales
Except for the one we create

Like a dagger this is killing me
Knowing you think you won’t be free
Give me the chance
I’ll give you the world
Trust and belief is all that’s needed
Reservation has no place

Stuck in the middle of a sea
A creation of my insecurity
Either sink or swim
On the verge of drowning
Don’t let this gulf
Float away the key

Body’s aching, I know it’s right
Open your eyes, unleash your sight
Deep inside you hear it too
Heart alive with love
Yet encased in fear
You just can’t give in

One chance, one time to choose
Everything to win, nothing to lose
An opportunity to receive
Everything you’ll ever need
As much as I wish we did
We don’t have forever