Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fitting In

Do you ever get the feeling that you don't "fit in" quite right? Like, all of a sudden, you feel like you're in a completely foreign country and you're almost there--almost a piece of the puzzle--but there's just one edge that's malformed and doesn't fit anywhere?

When I started my current job I felt completely out of place. I was a circle amidst a crowd of squares, searching for a circle like me. These days I feel like some circle/square hybrid. I don't seem to fit in with the circles or the squares. I like most of my coworkers about as much as anyone can truly "like" a coworker. I get along with all of them and some I find infinitely amusing. But none of them would be people I'd hang out with or invite over for a discussion about Nietzche over dinner. Okay, I don't think I'd even be able to carry on that discussion for very long. But I digress.

Work I can deal with. Work is work. Most conversations don't pass beyond that oh-so-familiar "how's it going?" barrier. I'm easy-going and can get along with most anyone so whether others feel I don't fit in is undetermined. No, work is fine. But my friends are another issue entirely.

See, I don't really see any of my friends regularly. Of the two groups of friends I have, I see people from group A maybe once every six months. The other group I tend to see most of them once a week for lunch...for, like, an hour. There are issues there that I will not bore you with. Suffice it to say "pulling teeth" or "trying to get elephants to mate" are good descriptors.

So, because of all this, I don't really feel I fit in with any of them much anymore. Sure, we share some of the same hobbies or interests but only on a fundamentally shallow level. And because I don't interact much with them beyond the e-mail paradigm I get used to not being with them in person. I find that I have almost no desire to do this anymore. Part of me is saddened and then the other part is "meh".

See, my childhood was much like that of an only child. I have a sister but we didn't really do that much in the way of playing as siblings. And, due to several moves, I couldn't really get friend connections to grow very easily. Though I still remember my first real friend in kindergarten. I went up to a random boy and said "Hey, would you be my friend?" He said "yes" and we were inseparable...well, until I moved again. Thank you, Donald. I still consider you a friend wherever you are. Tell your brother to stop shooting toy guns at us.

And just recently I have learned an important lesson. You can determine the measure of a friend very easily. True friends respond with concern when you tell them to go to Hell. The others all simply say "no, you".

But I know I fit in at least one place--my family. They put up with me and even love me. I can't ask for more than that. And, for now, that's enough for me--I'm fine with that. I'm sure the rest will all fall into place eventually.

Maa aaa aaaaps

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Letting Go and Holding On

Flying High

For those who are interested, I posted a short piece (~550 words) in my Writing.com portfolio about jumping out of an airplane. It's here. It is not intended to be a masterful composition of awesomeness. I have not revisited to edit it, so there may be boo boo's. So you get what you pay for.

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I just ordered hot, buttered toast from T. No telling what I'll actually end up getting.

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My "garden" (the strawberry, tomato and pepper plants) seems to be determined to beat the odds of my laziness and neglect. To my defense, I did throw some water their way a few days ago. The rain has done the rest. One of the tomato plants was damaged in the car ride home and is not doing as well but even it is doing alright. I guess I could put some fertilizer on them but I figure plants have been around longer than man and, hence, without fertilizer. Who am I to break the cycle now? Am I to challenge a tradition that's as old as time itself? Surely not.

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Ah, my hot, buttered toast is here. And it is indeed what I ordered. I will pass on the munchery, however, as it is plastic but it's the thought that counts. Besides, if Spudling was actually using a toaster I'd be a little concerned.

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I had the pleasure of taking G to breakfast on Friday. I don't get to do it often, and I never know quite what will transpire, but we always have fun. We went to Starbucks and had some genuinely overpriced coffee (well, I did), a cranberry orange muffin, and a piece of pumpkin loaf (which is a nugget of bliss in baked good form). Conversation ranged from what her friends at school were doing to how silly my dog is. It's something we both look forward to and I highly recommend it. I look forward to many more breakfast dates with G and, in the future, with T.

Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel is just a freight train coming your way...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Milestones

All hail the newest graduate!


Last night, G graduated from preschool. The service was quite nice, replete with slideshow at the beginning set to about 15 different renditions of "Canon". It was at this time that my crabby, curmudgeony eyes squeezed out a little bit of some viscous liquid. There were quite a few pictures of G but it was the first one that got me--her at the top of a slide. I don't know why. Hey, shut up. I'm allowed, aren't I?

I think part of it is that, at that moment, I just realized that there were parts of my daughter's life that did not include me. While kindergarten looms next year and seems like a big step, I realize that preschool was really the first big step--the first time that she's gone off without her Daddy. It's really only symbolic, but once it starts it only gets more prevalent. It starts at preschool and then moves onto more school. Then college. Then, before I know it, she won't let me into the White House because I'm a "shady character." I don't blame her. I wouldn't let me into the White House either.

I went to Montessori when I was a little squirt. I remember many things about it: sandcastles built to the sky, sitting around a circle of red tape, graham crackers and OJ for snack. But I do not remember ever having a graduation. Maybe I skipped out on it, instead choosing to go smoke with the cool goth kids.

Anyway, G, here's to you. Congratulations! Before you (and I) know it, you'll be graduating high school. I can't wait for that, but let's not rush into things, ok?

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On a related note, we had a nice little graduation party with the grandparents. We ordered pizza and ate ice cream. K made cupcakes (and a bigger cake) with frosting pink enough to burn holes in your retinas. It was all very yummy.

Two dogs and one cat agree. I'm not sure when we'll learn not to leave food out on the table and them leave the pets alone with it but I suspect it'll be sometime after we're long dead. Thankfully there were not little blobs of pink barf on the rug this morning, unless they vomited discreetly and hid it from me. I know this to be an untruth since our pets all seem very proud of their end product when they yark on the floor. They'd probably wake me up and drag me out to show me if they could.

I see it coming like a wave of orange juice.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pirates, Castles, and Leprosy!

"You look like you have leprosy!"

That's what G told me on Sunday. I have a rash on my chest that itches. I scratched it so, voila, I have leprosy! Much laughter was had. I beg of you, dear reader, can you spare a nickel for a leper?

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T got this super giganto-sized play castle for her birthday. I mean, it's huge! It takes up most of the living room. It's basically a tent with no floor and there is a tunnel (which she got for Christmas) that connects to the side--I guess for a quick escape when the evil puppy shark invades, licking all in her path. So it basically equates to a hamster habitrail for children. Either that or we're soon getting a giant hamster that loves the Disney princesses printed all over its home. If so, I am not cleaning up after it.

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Finally saw "Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End this weekend. It is best described in the words of Mark Twain who once said "Meh"...or maybe he didn't. That's not the point. The point is that, like the Matrix and Highlander movies, they should have stopped after the first one. Did I like it? Well, I certainly wouldn't have paid money to see it, but it wasn't the worst nugget of putrid awfulness to cross my eyeballs. Besides, it was better than the second one which is reviled by the only critic who matters--me. I won't bore you with the details as this is not a full movie review (on an old movie, no less) but it was 2 1/2 hours of rather disjointed plotlines with some decent comedy thrown in...mix it around and give it a rather unfulfilling ending and you've got this movie.

As think as I confused I am

Friday, May 16, 2008

Off The Road

So I got back yesterday from traveling to Nebraska and Iowa for work. Road trips such as these are not uncommon, nay, they are very common in the spring. It's nice to get out of the office and see whatever it is I don't see while sitting in the office. Fortunately there are usually a couple of things that I can regale you, dear reader (or are there two of you?), with and dazzle your very soul.

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The Phantom Godfather's:

So my coworker and I have already been to Lincoln (nothing eventful on the way there) and have left, headed to Des Moines. It's getting to be about lunch o'clock so we look for somewhere to stop. Trouble is, between Lincoln and Des Moines, there's not much. Sure, we could stop and take a few bites out of some cattle but I prefer my steak a little more cooked than that. Alas, an exit is fast approaching and there is apparently a Dairy Queen and a Godfather's pizza. Bingo. My foreshadowing comment: "Huh...didn't think Godfather's existed anymore."

We pull off in Shelby, Nebraska, hoping for some pizza. The DQ is instantly in our sights, sitting at the top of the exit. Huh...the Godfather's must be further in town. So we drive down the road a little way. Well, it turns out "town" consists of two cemeteries and about 20 store fronts in "downtown" Shelby, only three of which are real stores. I expected a tumbleweed to roll through at any time and then attack us savagely, looking for our tasty brains. We quickly turn around and eat at DQ--a small, supposedly family-owned DQ. Damn you, foreshadowing comment!

The Machine Shed

Our business in Des Moines was smooth and uneventful. It was our dinner at The Machine Shed that was more of note. The Machine Shed is a restaurant that follows the same concept as a Cracker Barrel, only it is about a nonillion times better. There is a little shop attached that sells all sorts of stuff you don't need to buy (more on that later) and then you sit down and eat so much they have to roll you out of the place. You get bread and bottomless cole slaw and cottage cheese--a concept I found quite unique. Too bad I am not much of a fan of either. Then, no matter what you order, you get a metric barking buttload of it. We had that late lunch at the DQ hotspot so I was only half hungry, but I still managed to cram much food into myself.

Random Facts of Baconosity:

So, what does one find in the store at the Machine Shed? Gentlemen, behold!





Bask in the glory of all that is GUMMY BACON! Let's observe a few important things here:

  1. "Gummi" is spelled incorrectly. Typical.
  2. It is strawberry flavored (you can't tell from the glare).
  3. Take note of the all-important "Bacon viewing window"...it's important for, uh, some reason, I'm sure.
  4. The back panel provides important safe handling instructions such as, "keep in cool dry place away from sunlight" and "do not attempt to fry or microwave"! I can only assume that sunlight causes gummy bacon to reach sentient levels a la Skynet from the Terminator movies.
  5. The sock monkey...no real importance except that sock monkeys are cool. This one's about 3 1/2 inches tall.

Racked up like a deuce, another roller in the night

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, T!

Today is T's birthday. I can't believe she's TWO already! She starts small then, the next thing I know, she's running around the house, playing DDR, and telling her sissy to "stop it". Oh well. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, T!!

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Sundays are brutal. I know my wife thinks I'm probably the biggest grump every Sunday, and I probably am. I guess I just look forward to having a nice, relaxing day for the whole family but it never happens. We always have child meltdowns (with no real basis behind them). Most of these originate from G who will throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat on Sundays. Say "no"? Tantrum. Bedtime? Tantrum. State of the world economy? Tantrum. Inevitably she's fine come Monday morning. There are many reasons for the state of Sunday. I just need to learn to be more tolerant.
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So Saturday was the annual Homeowners' Association meeting (picnic included). We always do things rather unofficially, so the meetings are pretty laid back. However, each time we go, we are reminded that we don't really seem to fit in too well in our neighborhood. It's like being the new kid in high school--everyone already knows everyone else and they don't feel the need to talk with people they don't know. Sure, we've been in this neighborhood for 7(?) years but we've never been that active. We don't live on a cul de sac and many of the houses directly around us are duplexes. Besides that, we tend to be rather busy with our girls. My philosophy is that it just prepares us for when we eventually move into a house on some land and we won't have neighbors. I just sort of wish we didn't feel like we had leprosy or something. I mean, if we did have leprosy, I'd probably be totally cool with that.


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I've apparently started a band...well, sort of, but not. It appears that one of my girls' favorite things is to be a part of the band (or I guess groupies) when I play Guitar Hero or Rock Band. They like to "play" the drums or sing and dance...or all three at the same time. T calls it playing "Guitar Girl" (they always make me use the female band members when I play--they pick every aspect of them).

You Say it's Your Birthday...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Fear the Change!

"Do you fear change? Leave it here." That was what the sign said on one of those "have a penny, leave a penny" cups I saw at the movie theater a long time ago. I thought it was witty. I still think it's witty. But, then, I'm easily amused.


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I just read an article online about how the penny and the nickel now cost more money than they're worth. The nickel costs something like 7.5¢ to produce and it costs 2¢ to produce each penny because of the metals that are in them. Pennies are annoyances to begin with so why even line them with our oh-so tasty and precious copper? What's even funnier is that the nickel has more copper in it than the penny.

Pennies are rather worthless. Nobody wants them. I think the best way to utilize the penny is this: We should drop them on military targets that we wish to bomb. Surely enough pennies dropped from a few miles up would do some heinous damage, right? And what better way to help the people of said country than to throw money at them? So we destroy the military target and provide laundry money for the inhabitants. And we get rid of our stupid, unwanted pennies at the same time! Hmm hmm hmm...I am a genius. :P

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I often think about how disappointed I am with technology. This probably has developed from watching too much science fiction (bad or good). But during Iron Man all I could help thinking was "I want that!"...or at least something sort of close. Of course, much of the technology in Iron Man is probably impossible, cybernetic titanium-gold alloy suit notwithstanding.

But even before that I've been wanting technology to take that "next step" so to speak. Surely we could develop more efficient technology by looking outside the current paradigm, right? I mean, look at today's vehicle. Sure, it's an advanced machine with hundreds of intricate pieces and systems all working together. But I bet it could be so much better. Don't belts and gears just seem a little outdated? Sure, they work, but isn't there something better and more efficient we could develop? What about frictionless motion? We've been working off the same concepts for much of our technology for what seems like ages. There are advancements in computer technology but I'm sure we could develop a really badass rig if it was designed from the ground up--something more powerful that uses less energy. Heck, I'd be willing to be one has already been invented somewhere.

Maybe we just need a good alien invasion--not necessarily to force us to develop new technologies. Nope. I think it'd be much easier just to steal theirs. Isn't that how it works? We sneeze, they all die from the germs, then we salvage their stuff. Simple, that. Someone needs to get to work on this. d:()' <--that's a monkey wearing a baseball cap, smoking a cigarette.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In the Wake of the Horde

OK, so I've posted In the Wake of the Horde. This is part 3 in Damiel's adventure in the keep. I've never really written a story like this one so any feedback is definitely of use to me. This was by far the toughest of the three for me to write.

As I've said before, I originally intended Holding the Wall to be a standalone piece but people were interested in the outcome. I wasn't really concerned with anything but Damiel's situation. But I hope I've adequately answered said queries with the series of three.

No idea what I am going to write next. I've got a couple of ideas floating around in my head and there are a couple of already written stories I can drudge up and revamp. I'll see how the mood strikes me.
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For those who like Halo and are interested, I posted the latest Halo Funniez here. For those who aren't into Halo, this comic will probably make little to no sense to you, and you can probably skip this whole paragraph, but that's OK. And, no, it's not intended to be a highly artistic endeavor--it never has been. I lack the skills, imagination, and tools for that. There are plenty of better comics out there, and this posting certainly isn't my best. This one simply is what it is. This particular comic mentions the Forerunner Terminal Archives which were just put into production on the HBO server--they are basically a recreation of the terminals from Halo 3 and are quite spiffy.
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I don't think I can adequately rely on G's suggestions for dinner anymore. Invariably her answer is "steak!" and, while I'm not against that idea...ever, we need a little more variety than that. Of course T pipes in with the same answer because, if her sister likes it, it must be good!
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The new Indy movie is a must-see for me as I'm sure it is for a lot of people. I have very high hopes for it but will be so crushed if it doesn't meet my expectations. I like the original three, though "Temple of Doom" leaves a lot to be desired. Hopefully Lucas and Spielberg haven't lost the golden touch. I know Harrison Ford probably hasn't.
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Okay, I found this totally funny and a bit disturbing. The state of Georgia has banned retailers from selling marijuana-flavored candy to minors. Okay, that's disturbing that there is such a thing and that minors could buy it in the first place. It also sounds...ick.

What's funny is the name of the senator who's moving the bill through the Senate. Senator Doug Stoner!!! Ha ha.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

RIP: One Mole

I had to cut the grass yesterday. It go tall enough to where my dog (a 6-pounder) would go out to the back yard and simply disappear. In doing so I noticed what can perhaps be described only as a "dead kaiju megamole". This thing was huge! And he'd been getting fat off my lawn while digging it up. Needless to say I was not sorry to see him gone. I'm not sure what got him. It could be that he starved (I used grub killer on the lawn this year) or that he ate one of the poison pellets I put out for the moles. But hopefully the dogs got him. That would mean they were useful and weren't just digging up the lawn for no reason.

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Upon arriving home yesterday I was greeted by G (my five-year-old) who explained that she had assembled a picnic for me. So we went out to the the newly hewn back yard and had a nice picnic of apples, bananas, and chocolate milk while sitting on a little blanket. Then I got out the hammock and we all played for a while. Then I disposed of the mole corpse which, oddly, was the highlight of both G and T's picnic. I think children must have an odd fascination with death. They don't seem to fear it, they just like to look at it.
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I need to get writing some more. I took a small hiatus to make sure I wasn't going too fast (and producing just a bunch of schlock) so now it's time to get back to it. I might even look into trying to get some of it published. I find it funny that most publications still have you send in a printed copy with a SASE instead of just sending it eletronically. I figured companies would be more Internet-friendly but the publishing industry must not have gone that route.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Gardens, Teeth, and Junk

G, my five-year-old recently told her grandparents both that their teeth were dirty and that they needed "white strips". I myself am wondering if she gets an advertising kickback from Crest. Children have such candor. Maybe our next president should be a five-year-old? I volunteer mine.

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I started a garden this weekend--so much as three tomato plants, three pepper plants, and a strawberry plant can actually be considered a garden. I lined them up against the fence at the back of the yard and threw some mulch over them. It's my little experiment to see how well they grow. If they die, well, I'm only out $1.49/plant. If I get two peppers or two tomatoes from each plant then I made my money back. Well, okay, one of the tomato plants is a cherry tomato plant...so I'd better damn well get more than two.

If the "garden" succeeds I will probably line the whole fence with plants. Why buy it when you can grow your own? There's not a whole lot of maintenance except some water and tying the tomatoes to the fence when they get too tall. By trade I am not a plant nurturing person, but I think I can handle that.

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Every so often I come to realize that I have a lot of junk. I mean a lot of junk. I'd say about 50% of it is toys. I like toys. I don't really buy them anymore except for an occasional Halo 3 action figure. But I've collected quite a few over the years, with Star Wars being the most plentiful. So every once in a while I try to find ways to reduce clutter without reducing the toys themselves. I have a lot of action figures on display in the basement and in my office which, while fun, gets to looking cluttered if I have too many.

Sometimes I feel that the toys themselves are unhappy with their plight. Like they're going to get all Gulliver's Travels on me and I'm going to awaken, tied to the floor, while they poke me with their little pointy things and guns, demanding more real estate.

Inevitably I throw out other things like computer books that only apply to any technology made previous to the last 10 years (and, yes, I recycle them). That helps, but then the space just seems to get swallowed up by something else that comes out of storage or whatnot. Maybe I should let my daughters loose and throw out whatever they manage to break. That would probably cut down greatly on the clutter.

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On a completely unrelated note, I saw Iron Man this weekend. Really good flick. I like it when someone actually gets it right.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Objects in the Rearview Mirror...

...may appear closer than they are. Never understood those Meatloaf lyrics, since the mirror itself actually says "objects in the rearview mirror may be closer than they appear." Either he messed up or I'm just missing something (the latter is the probable).


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I've often toyed with the idea of using a camera to take pictures of my rearview mirror when parked at a stoplight in the mornings on the way to work. Why, you ask? Because people do some really *blam*ed up things while parked at stoplights in the morning, few of which are departures from the surreal or absurd. I've seen plenty of things: makeup, hair, reading, eating, changing of clothing, singing to the radio (not extraordinary but always funny). I'm sure there's more but my feeble brain has shoved that information out to make space for other, less useful information. Anyway, I think pictures of people in a rearview mirror would make a pretty entertaining collage.

I mean, I'm sure I look like an idiot at a stoplight with my stoned "my WheatiesTM haven't kicked in yet" face. But, yeah, I'm not composing a symphony or anything while sitting at a stoplight. In fact, I'm growling at the dude (or dudette) in front of me to move his (or her) car since the light has been green for five seconds or more.


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So here is my favorite picture currently circulating around the Internet (no, I didn't create it, I have no idea who did). I don't know why I find it funny but I suspect it's because it involves a cat. It is still my opinion that cats were put on this earth to be made fun of...period. Not like monkeys. Monkeys are inherently funny. Sure, they do silly or stupid things but we're not laughing at them, we're laughing with them. We're laughing at cats.