Saturday, September 30, 2006

White And Nerdy

White And NerdyROTFLOL

When I saw this video, I nearly wept laughing. The clouds did part, and the angels did sing, and the sun did shine, and the spinach did cleanse itself.

Straight Outta LynwoodWeird Al Yankovic has a new album out, called "Straight Outta Lynwood". This is what I want for Christmas. Forget that silly monkey shirt... this is the real deal.

Friday, September 29, 2006

A Subscription To What?

Yesterday evening, my wife and I were watching a movie and heard a knock at the door. I went over and opened the door to find a middle-school / early high-school boy holding a clipboard.

"Excuse me, I'm raising money for..."

candy barmagazineAt this point, my eyes glazed over and bittersweet memories flooded me. Ah, I've been there. Sometimes it was magazine subscriptions, sometimes it was candy bars. The goal was always to fund a band trip. I remember knocking at a door, and not being able to see the lady who answered because of the glare from her screen door. I took a wild guess, based on what little I could see. "Hi there, is your mother home?" Petrified, I watched as the door opened further and an 80+ year-old woman stumbled out. "My mother's been dead for 20 years, young man."

I was never the top seller.

While I was going down memory lane, the boy continued. I honestly didn't hear why he was raising money, but he pulled me back to the present with...

"... by selling subscriptions to the Tulsa World newspaper..."

I had to choke back a laugh. I told him about my employee discount, and then politely sent him on his way.
He was a nice kid. At least he didn't ask to speak to my mother.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


?!?!?I had two Jaw-Droppers yesterday. You know the moments... they start with the words "What the..." and usually end in some combination of exclamation points and question marks. I shall expound.

Jaw-Dropper One: The Dark One's Weather

Check out the weather person at this site (which I'm *ahem* somewhat associated with) - It's got an animated character that reads off a weather forecast. I'm not sure who made the choice for the particular character I saw yesterday. Just in case that character has been changed to something more human, I've got a couple of screen caps of the thing. These pics have *not* been modified in any way.

Dark One?Dark One?

Looking at this monstrosity speaking (my speakers were turned off), I could just imagine a dark crusty voice rumbling, "THIS WEEKEND, TEMPERATURES IN THE SIXTH CIRCLE WILL BE SLIGHTLY LOWER THAN NORMAL."

Jaw-Dropper Two: The Nude Cowboy Roofer

There are new apartments being built very close to where I live. When I came home from work yesterday, a roofer was working on the roof shingles on top of one of the buildings. He had big bulky boots. He had no harness, and no shirt. He also had a huge cowboy hat on.

Yee-Haw!I was greatly amused by this (moderately) nude cowboy roofer. I was so amused in fact, that I went back out a few minutes later with my camera. Alas, he had gone off to be nude somewhere else. In cases like this, I would normally go hunting on Google Images for a pic, but I don't think an internet search for "nude cowboy roofer" would be wise.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Stories From My Past: Driving In Boston

Boston!A few years ago at my old job, I got to go to Boston on a business trip. Boston is a beautiful, historic place. I honestly wouldn't mind going back some day. However, I will not attempt to drive there again. I would recommend the same for you, unless you have an awesome sense of direction, or perhaps a death wish.

Chewbacca! What a wookie.I was there for 2 weeks, with a co-worker who I'll call Chewie. At the time, Chewie was 20, and the rental car agreement wouldn't let anyone drive who wasn't at least 21. This was unfortunate, as Chewie had a much better sense of direction than I do. In no particular order, here are some of the adventures we had on the open road in Boston.

I saw, on 4 separate occasions, a driver swerve out to the left INTO oncoming traffic, so that they could pass whole lanes of drivers who were waiting at a stop light.

One-Way... for nowI saw a one-way street change direction. I was going the correct way, and then suddenly I wasn't. There was no place to turn around.

Zoom-ZoomI saw multiple places where the road changed width (2 lanes becoming 4, that sort of thing), and at those places, the lane markings on the road went away. Normal traffic flow quickly morphed into something resembling a racing video game. I kept expecting to get bumped and pushed off the road, where we'd flip over 18 times and then come to rest upside-down next to a tree with the words "Game Over" flashing on the inside of the windshield.

Highway 20I saw, multiple times daily, signs describing highway exit ramps. The signs were always after the exit ramp. "You just missed highway 20."

Speaking of highway 20... I'm pretty that was the one. After traveling north on highway 20, I saw a sign at an intersection pointing left. "North Hw 20." I took the left turn. Then, many miles later, another sign, also pointing left. "North Hw 20". Confused, I took the left again. Pardon my naivete, but doesn't that mean I'm going south now?

No matter which fork you choose, you are wrongAgain, speaking of highway 20... at one point, the road forked, right down the middle. Both sides curved off gracefully, so there was no obvious "straight" and "off-ramp" to choose from. Right in the middle, the very center of the fork, was a sign that said "North Hw 20". There was no way to tell which fork it was talking about.

Sometimes, I still nightmare about highway 20.

Are you the dark one?In a residential neighborhood, I saw some pedestrians near a street corner. As we pulled up closer to the stop sign, it became apparent that these were not "normal" folk. One of them was wearing a horse's head, which made him/her/it look about 7 and a half feet tall. Several of them had capes. When they saw us pull up to the stop sign, they started waving their arms excitedly and dancing toward the car.

The stop sign was ignored. As we sped around the corner, Chewie had his head hanging out of his window shouting, "That was COOL!"

Chewie and I didn't always see eye to eye on things.

We got lost nearly every night. All we were doing was looking for a restaurant so we could eat dinner. I'm pretty sure we wound up in New Hampshire at least once by mistake. Most evenings, we ended up getting back to the hotel after 3-5 hours of confused driving. Then we'd order room service.

HarvardWe drove through the campus of Harvard University. We did this at least 3 times. Never once was this our intended destination. Nice campus, though.

The final insult came as I was driving the car back to the airport for my much-anticipated flight home. There was a sign for the rental company, and as far as I could tell, it was pointing across a field. "Turn your car in a mile over that way, as the crow flies." I nearly missed my flight because I couldn't figure out where to give the dang car back. I was seriously tempted to just park it somewhere.

Oceanic Flight 815?Actually, the FINAL final insult was a flight delay that made me miss my connecting flight in Chicago. Imagine getting off at Gate 11, and looking no more than 30 yards over at Gate 12, where the door is closed and the plane is starting to taxi to the runway. That was my flight. So close, yet so far.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spider Bite

Sometime over the past weekend (we're not sure when), my wife got bit by a spider. At least, we're pretty sure that's what happened. She's got a couple of big nasty red marks on her, and feels generally crummy.

Halloween TiggerWe've got her on antibiotics, and I'm doing my best to pamper her and help her get well. The bite occurred around the same time that we got this fella out of storage for his annual visit (click for a bigger pic). Check out what he's got hanging from his left paw... I wonder if there's a correlation?

Get better soon, Honey! I love you.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Weekend With The Kiddos!

This past weekend, I got to see my sister and her 3 kids. Our parents and our grandparents were there, too. Family time is always chaotic and grand fun. Here's some of the stories from the weekend:

RogerOldest nephew (6) has a hamster named "Roger". Recently, a mouse was found inside their house, and nephew wanted to catch him and put him in the cage with Roger. He was very upset when Daddy stunned the mouse with a BB gun, and then threw him outside.

Niece was showing me how she could hop on one foot (this is big stuff for a 4-year old). Then I asked her to hop on the other foot. She nearly fell over and took youngest nephew down with her. She can only hop on the one foot because, in her words, "This is my hoppin' foot."

Geronimo!Oldest nephew recently jumped out of a swing to impress a group of girls at school. His shirt got caught on the swing, and ripped. When he told Gramma (my mom) this story, Mom looked and saw a tiny tear on one sleeve. "Gramma can fix that" she confidently claimed. When he took the shirt off for her later, she realized that the *big* tear was in the back... the shirt was nearly in two pieces.

My grandfather (84) was sitting in the living room, in a recliner. One of the kids was watching a cartoon on the big TV, and one of them asked him to help with a puzzle. Then, because they are kids, the short attention span drew them away to other concerns. Enter Jeff, who walks in to see Grandpa sitting at a kid-sized folding table, working a 25-piece puzzle and watching cartoons. All by himself.

Heh... oops.Niece was sitting and drawing, and I was sitting next to her. This was late in the day's adventures. She had been hanging around me all day, constantly shouting "Uncle Jeff watch this!" and "Uncle Jeff do that!" and so on. A thought crossed her mind, and she turned to me and said, "Hey,..." Then, she looked at my mom with sincere embarrassment, pointed at me, and sheepishly said, "Sometimes I forget his name."

Stories From My Dad's Past: Big Back Yard. My grandma told a story I hadn't heard before. Apparently when Dad was little, they had about 2 and a half acres of backyard. Dad stood at the back porch and announced he was going to go to landmark that was at the back end of the property. Then he looked again. He turned back to my grandma and said, "Maybe you'd better pack me a lunch."

Tug-O-WarAnd finally, an AFV moment. Mom was watching the grandkids in her backyard, and could see past them to the neighbor's yard. Two dogs were there, playing tug-of-war with a rope. Then, a squirrel popped into the yard. The dogs started running side by side after the squirrel, without dropping the rope first. They ran past a tree on their way, one on either side of it. The rope caught, and the dogs got pulled around into a head-on collision with each other. Too bad no one had a video camera.

Fun weekend!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Cards Of Summer

TargetJust a day or two ago, my wife was at Target. She walked by a big display of greeting cards that were out of season and was amused by what she saw.

Extra ice cubes in my pool, please!The display was advertising "Cards Of Summer". We are, obviously, pretty much out of that season. But on closer inspection, she realized that many of the cards were "invitation" type cards. Most of them said things to the effect of, "Come to my pool party!"

Now, I know that I am a cold-water wimp. Therefore, a pool party in September sounds about as appealing to me as pulling all my hair out, one strand at a time. With pliers.

Some things you can buy out of season. But somehow I have a hard time with pool party cards as we head into cool, windy, rainy temperatures. It makes me shiver involuntarily.

It's me!I know, I know. I'm a wimp. :)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Don't Try To Finish Mad Dogg's Sentences

In my time here at my "new" job, I've learned a valuable lesson. Don't try to finish Mad Dogg's sentences when he's telling a story. You have no idea.

First of all, if you can imagine it, he's done it. I'm pretty sure he's traded recipes with Martha Stewart, dug an underground tunnel from L.A. to Quebec, and stolen a bolt from NASA. And somehow, some way, his jeep was involved. In every story. It's amazing.

JeepThe other day, he was telling us a story about losing his jeep in the desert in New Mexico. Mad Dogg tells this story far better than I could. It involves burying the jeep in sand, a dead-of-night walk back to civilization, and then following a trail of empty beer cans in order to find the jeep again in daylight.

Once the jeep was freed, he and his friend decided to go to Mexico. This was before 9-11, so the border between countries was more of a suggestion than actual fact. They just decided to find a road and go south, on a whim.

Lemmie out!At this point, Farmer Brown interrupted Mad Dogg and said, "Yeah, and now you'll tell us about how you spent the night in a Mexican prison."

Mad Dogg, totally serious, said - "Wait, I'm comin' to that part."

It's uncanny. It happens every time somebody tries to insert a joke into one of his stories. I am constantly amazed; both at the life he's led, and the fact that he's survived it thus far.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pizza Crust

Our Back Porch/BalconyA couple of weeks ago, my wife came to me and said, "There's something strange on the back porch."

For those who don't know, we live in a second-story apartment. The back porch is a balcony, which is not accessible from anything other than our back door. If there is something strange on our back porch, then it has wings.

With just a hint of uncertainty, I approached the back door and looked through the blinds (it was dark out). There was indeed an odd shape, right next to the door. Grand. I opened the door, half-afraid that the creature would scurry inside.

Eat MeThere was no such danger. The object on our porch was a pizza crust. It didn't have wings.

After a bit of discussion, we decided it was probably thrown up there by one of the small boys who live in the apartment under us. My wife wanted to just bring it inside and throw it away, but I was feeling juvenile. I pushed it off the balcony, down to the bushes near their apartment one floor down.

The crust bounced off the bushes and hit the side of our downstairs neighbor's apartment at high speed. WHAM! Startled, we quickly ran inside, feeling a bit like small guilty children ourselves.

I Believe I Can FlyThe crust eventually went away. Maybe it had wings after all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Blues Brother In Downtown Tulsa?

4 Fried Chickens... And A CokeMonday, I was walking in Downtown Tulsa near where I work. I walked past a guy who I swear looked like John Belushi in full "Blues Brothers" costume.

He had the round face and sunglasses. He had the big hat and the dark suit w/ tie. He was carrying a suitcase, and had a big smile on his face.

I wonder if he was on a mission from God?

This could be the start of a strange trend. Late last week I wrote about seeing a John Ratzenberger look-alike.

Hey, Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuudee!Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get to meet Pauly Shore next!


Monday, September 18, 2006


'twas a nice weekend. My ongoing real-time scores and stats project took a turn for the better in a big way. It actually worked.

I remain shocked and amazed. After two weekends in a row of babysitting this thing while the college football games are going on, it just simply... worked. It was weird. I actually got to watch the games this weekend. Every 10-15 minutes, I'd get antsy and jump up to go look and make sure... yeah, our site is still up-do-date and stuff. I got a lot of exercize during those games.

OUSince I actually got to watch games this weekend, it means that I saw the end of the highly controversial OU loss. You can read about it, if you like... just forgive the broken image. I have no idea how that happened, and after the last few weekends I've had, I don't muchly care. :)

UPDATE: Here's another good link regarding that game.

Anyway, I have 3 quick thoughts on the outcome of that game:

1) If your team is in a position where the officals can rob you of a victory with their mistakes, then it means you havn't taken advantage of all your opportunities.
2) Speaking of missed chances, OU really needs to find some defense if they want to avoid more last-minute ref-mistake losses.
3) I've been generous. Those were not referee mistakes... OU was intentionally robbed, plain and simple.

OSUOf course, I'm an OSU fan, so I havn't exactly been losing any sleep over it. :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tiny Nuggets Of Joy From Friday

John RatzenbergerWhile walking back to work from lunch on Friday, I passed a man who looked an awful lot like John Ratzenberger... "Cliff Clavin" from Cheers. He looked like John R. circa 1980's, or early 90's.

xkcdA crazy friend of mine sent me this comic... It amused the heck outta me. (If you navigate beyond this one comic, be warned. The site contains harsh language)

I will chase youFinally, toward the end of the work day, I was talking to Farmer Brown and these pearls of wisdom came forth:

"At least I'm not out on the savanna, running from some leopard."
[and later]
"That's what civilization gives us... the ability to not have to run from leopards."


Friday, September 15, 2006

Monkeys And Bunnies

Everything's Better With Monkeys!This is how you know it is a slow news day. I'm featuring a thingy that over half my audience has probably already seen. :)

On a semi-related note... (from the movie "Anchorman")

Champ Kind: "What are we gonna do?"
Ron Burgundy: "There's only one thing a man can do when he's suffering from a spiritual and existential funk."
Champ Kind: "Go to the zoo, flip off the monkeys?"
Ron Burgundy: "No, buy new suits."
All: "Yea!"The Easter Bunny hates you!

And finally, I saw this last night and havn't stopped laughing about it yet (click into it to see the video).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mockery As A Business Practice

wiggyOn Tuesday of this week, we had a web server go wiggy on us. It took quite a long time to track down the source of the problem (this was the reason Tuesday's post was relatively late). Without going into all the gnarly details, the basic story is this: Wonder Boy did something silly. The web site shouldn't have wigged out over it. He didn't actually strictly do anything *wrong*. Even so, the fact remains... he did the thing, and the server went wiggy. And my Tuesday was largely spent tracking down the problem.

Late in the workday Tuesday, I went up to Wonder Boy's office and started making fun of him for killing the website. He protested, which just made it more fun. Before long, his whole department was in on the discussion. It was a very interesting (and occasionally outright disgusting) conversation.

Wednesday, I got called into a meeting with my boss and others. One of the topics of discussion was the server outage from the day before.

fixieRunning through my mind even now are several ways that the silliness of Tuesday can be prevented or fixed. All of them take time. We are in the early stages of a major website redesign, and one of the things that will change will also prevent the silliness from happening again. So, we have no time to fix the short-term problem, and if we can just limp on for the next several months, the problem will go away.

Ha Ha!My boss asked, "How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?". I replied, "Open mockery." I got blank stares from around the room. "See, what I did was I went up to their office, and I made fun of Wonder Boy mercilessly. The whole office joined in. Now, if any of them are about to do the same thing, they'll think to themselves, 'If I kill the website, Jeff will come up here and make fun of me.'"

There was much laughter. In fact, one guy was almost in tears. And my boss said, "Well, since all we need is a short-term solution, I think that'll work."

That's right... mockery is now an acceptable business practice where I work. I feel so at home here. :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Stories From My Past: Bicycle Sadness - Riot Bushes at OSU

Riot Bushes looked similar to their non-aggressive cousinsWhen I started attending college at OSU back in 1992, they had these things called "Riot Bushes" lining the sidewalks near the school library. I have no idea if they are still there. I also don't know if "Riot Bush" was a common name or just a local nickname. They looked like any old bushes you'd see outlining somebody's property.

But up close... these things were nasty. They were as solid as a brick. I'm told you could stand on them, although I never tried. They had thorns all over.

t-boneSince this was my first year at college, it was also my first year in the Cowboy Marching Band. The band director was a real strict guy. His rules included the following:

1) If you are late, you are wrong. Being late to rehearsal, even by a minute, cost half a letter grade for the semester.
2) If you are ill, you are wrong. Doctors notes wouldn't cut it. In his words, "If you come to me and vomit a lung on my shoes, I will excuse your absence."

It was a Tuesday evening rehearsal, and I was running just a bit tight on time. My dad and I had rigged up a guitar strap to my trombone case, so I could ride my bike with that thing strapped to my back. I looked like a low-flying stubby-winged aircraft as I zoomed down the sidewalk. I took a turn too fast, and crashed into the Riot Bushes.

Owie. Stingy.Now, I wish this had been a head-on collision. It wasn't. I almost made that turn, which means that instead of a head-on crash, I scraped up against the side of the thorn-filled bushes at high speed. Imagine sandpaper on your skin. Big, thick, sandpaper. With fangs. When I finally fell off the bike and hit the ground, I was relieved. By comparison, impact with concrete felt like a kiss from an angel.

My bike was scratched up pretty good over on that right side. Now, imagine what my right leg looked like. I was wearing shorts that day, too.

I walked the bike the rest of the way to rehearsal. They had started already, so I knew I was in trouble. The band director, who had a misplaced sense of drama, let me walk up to the front of the entire band while he just stood there with a horrible, mean-spirited smile on his face. Hey, that was OK. I also have a misplaced sense of drama. :) I made sure to limp as little as possible, and I kept my left side forward as much as I could.

I walked right up to him, and asked if I could have an excused absence. Then I turned so that he could see my mangled bleeding right leg. The look on his face was quite good. The only reply he could manage (as best I can remember) was, "...uh... sure."

I don't remember him ever making any "vomit a lung" comments after that.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Free At Last!

cassetteIn the before-time, when the Cassette Deck ruled supreme, I had a fairly large collection of the things.

When the Compact Disc came out, I had a simple solution for my lack of a CD player. Every CD my friends would buy, I'd copy to a cassette. My collection continued to grow.

Eventually, I joined modern times and got a CD player. The cassettes were boxed up, and ignored but not forgotten.

A couple of years ago, I started a personal project at home. I hooked up my last remaining cassette deck to the line-in jack of my computer, and started copying cassettes on my PC. Ah, the glory of MP3.

This past weekend, on Sunday, I copied my last cassette. Over the past 2 years, I have copied between 130 and 140 cassettes worth of old tunes. Eight and a half Gigabytes of vintage MP3's... all with varying degrees of fuzz noise in the background. :)

And a great weight was removed...It's amazing to look at. What used to be 130+ cassettes is now 2 DVD disks. I have thrown away all the old cassettes. It was like ditching a boat anchor.

There are days when I really like computers. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

Quick Hits From The Weekend

Friday evening
AnchormanThe weekend was off to a good start. We (re-)watched Anchorman. If you like dumb movies, then this thing is awesome. Hilarious. An if you're only a marginal Will Ferrell fan, see it anyway. He's not the only star of this thing.

After Anchorman, we saw the end of the Jenks/Union high school football game. I'm not big on high-school level football as a rule, but this was a good game. Close finish, all that. And just to show how much I actually cared about the outcome... well... I honestly don't remember who won.

NCAAMy ongoing project at work, as I have mentioned previously, is to gather college scores and statistical data from a network stream and convert that into something that my company's web site can display. "Up-to-the-minute" scores and stats and play-by-play and such. Well, it wasn't quite up to the minute. It wasn't quite "functional". It's closer, but it's not there yet. Therefore, Saturday was hard.

On the plus side, OSU did win their game. Maybe they'll prove me wrong this year... I sure hope so.

On Call!After working most of the day Saturday, and staying up too late... I got a work-related phone call at 4:45AM Sunday morning. *sigh*. The short version... the newspaper is currently "published" online during the wee hours of the morning. A server was down, so the folks who publish the online newspaper couldn't do their jobs. Yay for being on-call!

After being up too late and then having sleep disrupted, my wife and I decided we'd earned a little 'lazy'. So we slept in, and missed church.

NFLAn un-intended bonus of all this... I was home and able to watch the weekend kickoff of the week 1 NFL games!

My fantasy football team was much, MUCH better than I thought they'd be this weekend. I (apparently) won my game easily. My opponent still has players who will be in their games tonight, but my lead is significant. I don't know what to think. I'm used to losing my first 4 games of the season, and then coming on strong. Early success has me flummoxed.

Dad did not win his fantasy game. He made the trade of great WR for so-so RB plus cash, then his team got bit hard by the injury bug.

more to come tomorrow...There's one more story to tell from this weekend, but this post is already longer than I intended, so I'll tell that tale tomorrow. :)