Archive for October, 2005

Various Things

Monday, October 31st, 2005

I knew all along that my rain report earlier today wouldn’t satisfy my nagging drive to post something today, so here’s some stuff:

Check this out: You’ve seen those those pen tablets, right? The ones you can use like a pen, except your drawing is input into the computer? Well, now there’s the I/O Brush, that takes the graphics program input device to a whole new level.

It’s Halloween, of course, and we celebrated by pretending we weren’t home. Okay, look, we paid our dues for years, using our hard-earned money to buy candy for the ungrateful brats of strangers, and a few years ago we decided that the little piggies could belly up to somebody else’s trough for a change.

And we have found the ensuing years to be peaceful and surprisingly guilt-free.

And anyway, we don’t really observe Halloween — All this fuss about horror movies and undead spirits and all, it’s just not us.

But, we have been known in the past to celebrate at any lame excuse, so tonight I scanned in and uploaded two versions of my best costume ever, my werewolf getup in 1987, here and here.

While you’re at it, check out the other Halloween pictures people have been uploading to Flickr these days; some of the costumes are really creative.

Rain

Monday, October 31st, 2005

After promises of rain for more than a month, we finally got a downpour today.

Too bad I didn’t believe the forecasts and put down winterizer on the lawn this past weekend.

Oh well, at least we got some precip, and a little cooler air, and it’s about time for that: Here it is almost November, and yesterday it was almost 90 degrees. Last night at 11 our thermostat read 79 degrees in the house; this morning at six, it had dropped one whole degree to 78.

That’s just ridiculous.

Three 10-Year Anniversaries

Sunday, October 30th, 2005

In all the confusion of being out of town on a family emergency (hey, I’m easily bamboozled), it completely slipped my attention that three important things happened in my life 10 years ago this week (October 27 and November 1).

Closest to our hearts is the fact that it was 10 years ago last Thursday that we got our sweet little Schotzy.

Karlyn had a customer whose daughter had four kids and a brain tumor … and that left no time in their lives for their little Pomeranian. We already had Peaches, the ill-tempered lhasa apso that she had gotten as a puppy nine years before, and I was afraid that Peaches wouldn’t take well to a second dog in the house.

But his “adoption pictures” were so cute that we agreed to take him in. They brought him to the beauty shop, where he spent the day captivating the customers with his perky personality and his swatting-the-ground dance.

I showed up after work to get a haircut, and we had him sit on my lap while I got worked on. He was nervous and didn’t know what to think about me, but I think having him sit there being petted by me helped him get used to his new people.

And now, ten years later, he’s still as cute as ever. At 15, he can’t see or hear as well, and he staggers around occasionally, and his backbone area is getting boney, just like Peaches’ did in her later years, but he still gets around pretty well.

This is a good excuse for you to go check out my 10 years of Schotzy pictures on Flickr, including some I’m uploading tonight.

The second thing of which last Thursday was my 10th Anniversary was getting my first “major” computer: A Pentium computer with enough RAM to support Windows and Windows programs (and it was Win95, not just 3.o, like I had on my old IBM), and a CD drive so I could play games like Myst. It was a major turning point in my geek development.

I had actually bought it a few days before, but it wouldn’t boot up — it kept hanging on the Windows “cloud” screen. Of course, I now strongly suspect that the problem was a software conflict, and that at the very least I should have booted to BIOS or Safe Mode.

But the genius at Acer tech support didn’t suggest this at all; he just had me reboot once more, and when the bootup continued to stick, he said, “Yep, it’s stuck”, and arranged to ship me another CPU.

And that’s what I had to go by the FedEx office to pick up, on the way to going to the beauty shop to see Schotzy for the first time, and to get my hair cut, and that’s why it was later that same night that I had my first multimedia PC experience.

And, as seems normal for me nowadays, I had a lot going on around that time, because I had been taking a standup comedy workshop, and it was that next Wednesday (November first, ten years ago) that I had my stage debut as a comic.

I’ve been mostly inactive in that area since 1999, mostly because the long drive into the city for comedy venues was wearing me out, but it was a very rewarding experience: It gave me lots of confidence in public speaking, and jump-started a writing habit and style that eventually led to my three-years-so-far of blogging. It also led to my co-founding, and serving as creative director for (including designing posters and a website, in addition to producing shows), Comics On Tap, a group that organized and ran comedy showcases at various places around Dallas. It also landed me a regular spot on a public access cable show, and got me a small part in a short film.

So: This week in 1995 was a busy one for me, but one that had long-lasting benefits that I’m enjoying even today.

The Lazy Way Out …

Saturday, October 29th, 2005

I’ve been busy working on stuff today (just STUFF, okay? Don’t push it …), so check out our friend Look at This‘s recent excellent collections of links on pot and other drugs, television, and comics.

That oughta hold ya …

Miscellaneous Assorted Potpourri

Friday, October 28th, 2005

I don’t have time to wrie the long coherent stuff I need to, so here are some short thoughts:

I posted some of the photos from my trip this past week on Flickr; I don’t have them all annotated yet, but it’s still worth checking out.

Numb3rs is a rerun tonight, but that’s cool, because a) It’s one I missed the first time; and b) It’s from the first season, when the writing was better, the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” was still the theme song, and they hadn’t dumped Sabrina Lloyd yet. I’ve liked her ever since Sliders and on through Sports Night, and she’s much more personable than that scarecrow with the over-dyed hair that they replaced her with.

Let’s face it: If the ratings were less than what they wanted, it was probably NOT Sabrina Lloyd’s fault.

And as for the writing: Last week’s episode was a good example of the slippage. There was a potential for an assassination, and suddenly Math Genius is an expert on the subject, because (as the writers choose to tell us for the first time) MG once did some consulting for the NSA on assassinations. Now he knows all about the patterns and strategies of bumping somebody off, professional style.

Me no likem; heap bad medicine.

The show worked better when MG knowsnothing but math; everybody else is a source of specialized knowledge on varying subjects, and Genius supplies the calculus and logarithms and probability curves and chaos theory that make everything else tick.

But don’t get me wrong, I still like the show.

At least until they get rid of Peter McNicol, and then I’m done.

Before I left for Lubbock I bought some MIDI cables at Radio Shack, but didn’t have time to hook them up, so last night I connected our #2 Casio to my Extigy, but I can’t get anything to record to my computer. Anybody out there know anything about MIDI keyboards?

Let me know if you have any clues …

Late News – Literally

Thursday, October 27th, 2005

One thing I’m starting to notice about the effect of five days of my living out of a suitcase and a snack bar is that my grasp of news events was a bit lacking. Of course, I couldn’t have commented on some of the stories anyway, having only limited PC access during that time, but still it was a weird feeling finding out a couple of days late about, say, the death of Rosa Parks, or the nomination of Alan Greenspan’s replacement.

In fact, here’s how slow I am: I didn’t know until this morning — after it was all over! — that the World Series was being played.

Hey, shut up — I’ve been busy. I had to change a tire, for Pete’s sake. That act alone devoured a lot of my ability to pay attention.

Now that I think about it, though, I do seem to recall that a baseball game was on the airport cafe TV in Lubbock yesterday, and that a lot of people were focused on it, but I didn’t think much about it.

In retrospect, it all starts to make sense.

I didn’t even know for sure who was playing, although I had heard in recent weeks that the White Sox were doing better than they had done since the bribery scandal of 1919, which involved “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and others (see, I do know a little about the subject), but, not knowing that The Big One had started, I was unclear on the participants.

Anyway: The White Sox won, and I say more power to ‘em. Not that whoever they defeated were less deserving, but unless it was the Cubs (and I feel fairly sure it wasn’t), they weren’t a bigger underdog.

It can be the Cubs’ turn next year.

Anyway: I did catch the occasional bit of news while I was in Lubbock, and sports news at that: The big news item of Wednesday was that Sheryl Swoopes is gay — an announcement that resonates in The Hub City because she first rose to prominence as part of Texas Tech’s championship Lady Raiders basketball team in 1993, plus the fact that she’s from nearby Brownfield.

This generated a lot of local chatter, Lubbock being the conservative bastion that it is, but is anyone really shocked these days when a female professional athlete turns out to be gay?

I’m more shocked when they’re not.

At any rate, ESPN reports that even though she had been open about her sexuality, the announcment was part of her new endorsement deal with a lesbian travel service, which only hires celebrities that are all the way “out”.

No turning back once you’re on the ship, I guess.

But finally: Here’s another piece of news — nerd-news in this case — that I found out just today, and only because I saw it on Look at This: William Hootkins, who played rebel pilot Red Six (aka Porkins) in the first Star Wars movie (he was the first to get shot down in the battle to destroy the Death star), has died of pancreatic cancer.

I guess I’m just not enough of a Force geek, because the movie roleI’ll always remember Hootkins (another Texas native!) for is his portrayal of Major Eaton in Raiders of the Lost Ark, one of two U.S. gvoernment officials who persuaded Indy to go searching for the Ark, then stonewalled his attempts to get any information on the ancient artifact after he had recovered it. (Hootkins’ character told Jones that it was being studied by “top men”. Like who? Indy inquired. Fixed stare: “Top … men.” Why do I think of Dick Cheney whenever I watch that scene?)

And one thing that I haven’t seen in a lot of the news reports is that Hootkins (love that name! HOOTkins! Ha!) has further geek cred as the voice of several of the elven and dwarven NPC’s in the talky RPG sequel, Everquest II.

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So anyway: I’m just about caught up on the news now (having heard about the Miers withdrawal several hours late), so I’m almost back to normal.

I’m Baaaaa-aaack!!!!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2005

My pilgrimage in the wilderness is at an end. I’ll go on at length about it later, but for now suffice it to say that I’m sleeping in my own bed tonight, and I’ve never been happier in my life to say that I’m going back to work tomorrow.

Greetings from Exile!

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

I’ve found a moment to break away and get to the Kinko’s in Lubbock so I can briefly blog:

I decided not to bring my laptop, because I didn’t know I’d be staying at LaQuinta, which has free high-speed Internet access.

Oh well, live and learn.

Anyway, they’ve got some olded Nintendo games, so I might try those out tonight.

My mom’s car had a flat this morning while I was driving it, so I’ve spent all day changing the tire (in the sudden cold and drizzle) and waiting at Walmart for new tires.

On the plus side, it got me out of the hospital.

My mom gets her test results tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll be getting her settled in at home tomorrow night, and jetting back to Large D on Tuesday.

Also: The Wife has been wonderful throughout all this, graciously letting me call her and whine about my problems; I always feel better afterwards.

Also: I know I said I’d probably be blogging on the other blog this weekend, but I figured out how to do it on this one.

It’s the great circle of life, once again.

Anyway: Talk to y’all again on Tuesday, if all goes well …

One More Thing …

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

It occurs to me that if I can get to a computer at all this weekend, I’ll be posting on the other blog, not here, since posting here would require installing WordPress software on whatever computer I use.

Good ol’ simple Blogger, on the other hand, is available everywhere.

Anyway, I’m off to the airport. Wish me luck.

Leavin’, On a Jet Plane

Friday, October 21st, 2005

I’ll be “off the grid” — or at least off the Internet — for a couple of days. Long story short, my mom’s in the hospital for tests, and the results come back Monday, so I’m busy preparing to camp out on a cot in the hospital for a few nights.

That’s really not as miserable as it sounds — well, okay, it is, but it’s also an opportunity to break some old perceptive ruts and become immersed in the otherworldly environment of a hospital at night, with the room dark and the hallways dark and silent. With my CD’s and headphones and my books to read, staying overnight in a hospital is like visiting another dimension.

Especially when I’m not the one they’re doing their doctorly things to.

Anyway: In case I don’t get around to posting tomorrow, and can’t get away to the Kinko’s or a cybercafe while I’m in Lubbock, here are a couple of things to tide you over that I found, indirectly, from Look at This:

The first is this page of cool pictures of Iceland, which I haven’t obsessed on for quite a while now.

The second is the death of actor Charles Rocket. Rocket was part of the second wave of the SNL cast, along with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Gilbert Gottfried, in 1980 after the contracts of all the original actors ran out. He’s been in lots of movies, often playing Yuppie types, and might be best remembered for playing Bruce Willis’ brother on Moonlighting.

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Anyway, y’all have fun while I’m gone; catch you on the flip side.