Archive for April, 2006

Seeing Double

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

In case you aren’t checking out YouTube on a regular basis, you really need to; there are always lots of great videos there. (Plus, it won’t be long before the corporate copyright Nazis shut it down, so enjoy it while you can.)

One of the things I especially like about is that whenever there was something on TV that everyone is talking about, there’s a good chance that someone has uploaded it for your viewing pleasure.

For example: The president gave his customary annual self-deprecating speech at the Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, standing beside a Bush impersonator … and here it is:

(If you can’t see the video above, Click here.)

Video for Nothing

Saturday, April 29th, 2006

Check this out: Steve over at Look at This has a link to Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” video, plus some interesting facts behind it.

Hey Steve, here’s a challenge: Find Weird Al’s parody of the video that uses the Beverly Hillbillies theme!

==============================================

UPDATE: Never mind, I found it:

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Two Decades of Large D

Friday, April 28th, 2006

How time flies.

It was 20 years ago today that I first moved to Dallas.

Now, granted, I only moved from Lubbock, so it wasn’t that much of a move, at least geographically. It’s in the same state, a lot of the accents are the same, and a lot of people from Lubbock (and the surrounding area, like I was originally) end up in Dallas.

And there’s no shortage of country western radio stations in either city.

But Dallas is definitely more urban in many respects, and more there for someone like me.

On the other hand, meant that I was no longer one of relatively few intellectually oriented, struggling to find sustenance, and had become just one more diner in the banquet hall.

I realize now that no longer having to strive in that regard left a bit of a vaccuum in my identity, and I can see that I actually enjoyed my self image of the lone pilgrim, fighting to transcend his mundane surroundings.

I knew I wasn’t alone, of course; there were signs. In early 86 I tried to buy the vinyl version of Philip Glass’ Songs from Liquid Days, but all they had left were the cassette and CD versions; they had sold out of the records on the first day of release.

Indications like these told me that there were others out there like me (most likely college students, or Air Force people from the base that has since closed), but actually finding them proved difficult.

At any rate, that kind of thing is a moot point these days, with the Internet bringing the entire world into most homes, but back then mental growth was quite a chore.

And it was a lot of fun.

One final note: On my first day in Dallas 20 years ago, the big news on all the newspapers and TV and radio stations was: HOGEBOOM TRADED.

I later learned that a Hogeboom was a local sports personality, who was suddenly no longer with the Dallas Cowboys.

In fact, just this past year I finally got to see what the Hogeboom looked like, when it was a contestant on Survivor, going only by “Gary”, and concealing his NFL past from his fellow players.

But back then, it was the Hogeboom that dominated the local headlines.

On my second day in Dallas, the headlines had changed: CHERNOBYL.

That’s when I knew what kind of city Dallas was: The kind of place that the only thing that can knock a minor sports transaction out of the headlines is the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Gotta have your priorities …

Happy Birthday Kimster!

Friday, April 28th, 2006

Head on over to Yay! Blog and wish a big ol’ Happy Birthday to our friend Kim!

And while you’re there, reward yourself by listening to some of her great music, then give her the gift of praise by telling her how wonderful her singing is.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

This Just In: Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

As if we needed more proof that TV executives are stupid and out of touch with audiences, it’s just been announced that Rosie O’Donnell has been hired to replace Meredith Vieira on The View.

Well, the show had a nice life while it lasted.

I’m sure all the news reports will make a big deal out of the fact that she’s a lesbian, but that’s the least of the problems with her hiring; after all, Ellen Degeneres is doing great with her talk show, so sexual orientation won’t be an issue.

The fatal mistake in this case lies in the fact that Rosie’s a loud-mouthed tactless idiot.

Bonus points: She’s got an out-of-control ego.

This is a show that has built it’s success on having a diverse, well-matched ensemble cast; adding this domineering loose cannon is going to wreck the whole equilibrium.

And that brings up another aspect of this disaster: Adding an established star (hey, she used to be, before her dysfunctional personality shipwrecked her magazine and then her show) to a panel of qualified but low-profile women is just asking for trouble.

And don’t forget that Rosie is also a militant flaming liberal. Of course, it’s good to have a variety of opinions, and having another far-lefter in addition to Star Jones wouldn’t have to be a bad thing, but Rosie has track record of forcing her politics down her audience’s throats.

Maybe that’s the whole idea. Remember how Patricia Heaton was presumed to be the top candidate to replace Viera? Maybe the producers found out that Heaton is the honorary chairperson for the anti-abortion group Feminists for Life.

Or maybe it was just a coincidence.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t watch The View — not even when I was home for 8 weeks, unable to do much watch TV — but it’s a shame to see a solid, successful show blow up because of one monumentally horrible decision.

Calm Before the Series …

Wednesday, April 26th, 2006

Seriously. I’m planning a series of think-pieces (yes, be very afraid) and link aggregations on a particular topics …

… but for now I’ve got to blow out these notes and get them out of the way:

1. I got the new issue of Wired on Monday, and it has an extensive article on the current explosion of developments in video — which, by the way, is going to be the basis for the posts I’m planning.

I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of this issue, even if it does have Al Gore’s face filling up the whole cover …

2. After temperatures in the 90s last week, we were blessed with a cold front yesterday; last night, the temperatures got down into the 40s.

I caused it, of course, because on Sunday I boxed up all my sweats and other cool weather clothes and put them in the garage.

Anyway, it’s been really really pleasant, and since I’ve been trying to look and feel more civilized now that I’m going back to work, and my dressier long-sleeve shirts help me do that, the coolness is serving me well.

It warmed up today, but tonight was nice and cool; ordinarily it would have been the perfect night to work on my Linux computer in the garage (replacing the floppy drive; it’s holding one of my disks hostage), but my back and rib pain would make it an unpleasant experience.

Which is too bad, because it’ll probably be the blast furnace days of summer before I can go back to my normal 12-hour-a-day computing routine …

3. I had a chiropractor appointment today, and during the adjustment, we made small talk about her office’s piped-in music, which runs the gamut from U2 to Mozart to Irish-flavored New Age.

I’ll write at length some day about our conversation, but for now I wanted to make one point: She said she’s never heard of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Sure, she’s only in her 30s, and thus missed the height of their popularity in the 1960s, but how can she have not heard of the Brass? Spanish Flea? Tijuana Taxi? Lonely Bull??? The theme from the original Dating Game??!

Looks like I’ll have to take my MP3 player with me next time and educate her.

Okay, THIS is The Update …

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

… two days’ worth, in fact.

Which is to say, my report on my first two half-days back at work:

I could get used to this going in at 10 and leaving at 2. “See you suckers later, my four hours are DONE!”

Bonus Points: I suffered only minimal guilt from slacking off, due to the fact that my back and ribs still hurt like a mother-duck, and thus a limited work schedule is justified.

Mitigating Factor: I suffered maximal pain, due to the fact that my back and ribs still hurt like a mother-duck.

But again, it got me out of the office, so it was worth it.

I had underestimated the Prodigal Son factor of my return: During much of my time yesterday, and even some today, people were welcoming me back.

I hadn’t dared to hope that they would regard my return as a positive experience.

And even if it’s not sincere, I’m touched by the fact that they made the effort to pretend they’re glad I’m back.

But anyway: I’ve talked to a few of my co-workers on the phone since the surgery, but not to anyone from the lab, so they were all hearing my long boring stories for the first time, including the grand and action-packed Fainting Story, which never fails to startle and amaze.

Another great aspect of the last couple of days is that I returned about 25 pounds lighter — always an uncommon occasion in one’s life, a never-miss opportunity for looking good.

But I told everyone that I wouldn’t recommend the Brykmantra weight loss plan, which is quick-started by the removal of five or more pounds of lung and tumor tissue, followed by two months of not enjoying eating.

Still, the positive attention made it all worthwhile, and as a bonus I’ve got a couple dozen pair of jeans and khakis that I couldn’t get into three months ago.

I had pondered whether or not to retain some or all of my beard, but I decided that I needed to return to work completely civilized.

2 months absence + one-half days X 1 scraggly face = Negative professional image.

You do the math.

Believe it or not, I have actually also gotten some work done — or, more accurately, I’ve got it poised to be done. I’ve got two big boxes on my desk, full of our products that I have to process for certification through our industry association, and I’ve gotten a start on the documents for 12 boat containers that we’re shipping to Japan.

And that’s just the current stuff, not the catching up.

It’s always disorienting going back after such a long absence, especially when so many things have changed because we’re in the process of moving to a new building. Our shipping department (Hi, Vickie!) has moved and a new tenant has moved into their section of the warehouse, plus more than half of our inventory control department is also gone, and their whole space is now empty.

Closer to home, Soon to Retire Boss is still around to help with the transition and the move, but he’s taken an office in the new place, so his old office, which is right next to mine, has been converted to a mini-conference room.

It’s true: You can’t go home again — with “home” in this case being defined as a comforting continuity …

Not an Update …

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Yes, you’re expecting me to tell you about my first day back at the soul-crushing grind of work.

There’s not much to tell, really …

Okay, okay, maybe there is, if I think about it, but I’ve been busy: Chiropractor’s appointment, going to the drugstore, sorting through some old CD-ROM’s in order to clean up the area by my computer hutch, designing a price list sign for my wife’s beauty shop, responding to comments … you know, the usual.

But here’s something cool to tide you over:

Ever get nostalgic for those days when you could fire up your Commodore Vic20 and play a Scott Adams text adventure games? I know I do.

Here’s the next best thing: Thy Dungeonman 3, a text-game parody that also stands on its own as a game.

Bonus feature not shared by the circa-1982 games: Some monochrome illustrations (which are more like late 80s) liven up the story.

Check it out, it’s fun.

(Via Table of Malcontents, the blog of Wired magazine.)

Workin’ Man Walkin’ …

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Well, this is it: I’m about to head out to work, for the first time since the last day of February.

On one hand, I’m looking forward to no longer being a lounge-around member of the pajama-clad sofa-dwelling daytime-TV watching set, and actually being productive again.

On the other hand, I’ll be back at work, which of course sucks.

You know, the whole sofa-dwelling thing is highly underrated, now that I think about it …

Anyway, this is a major step, so wish me luck …

The End is Near …

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

… The end of my two-month stint of non-productivity, that is. I’m going back to work tomorrow, at least for half days.

The slack was nice while it lasted, but it’s going to be nice to be a working member of society again.

I’ve shaved off my beard, since I got tired of looking like a Jethro Tull album cover, but I’ve been shaving it off in stages and photographing the progress.

First I trimmed it to a goatee for a couple of days, then today I trimmed it into a Fu Manchu, which my wife totally hated, so I took some commemorative photographs and then whittled it down to its present Jason Lee stage.

I plan to visually document it tomorrow morning after my shower (so I’ll have clean hair), and then I’ll finish it off before I head off into battle.

Anyway, tonight I have to go do things to which I have become unaccustomed, such as prepare to look presentable in clothing in public.

Wish me luck …