Strange Brouhaha

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Something Scary For Halloween

Happy Halloween! To celebrate, I made macaroons tonight. I love macaroons. Plus, they're simple. An egg white, a tablespoon of sugar, some vanilla and almond extract, and a load of sweetened flake coconut. What could be easier?

Next batch, I'm melting some chocolate and dipping the macaroons.

But that's not what's scary! This is: Some Christian pastors embrace Scientology.

So is Fred Phelps, but at least his hatemongering has finally landed him in dutch.

This last thing is not scary, but if you've been ignoring the "holy cow, 15 laterals!" hype from college football last weekend...don't. They're calling it "The Miracle in Mississippi." It has been posted a million times on YouTube; here's an end zone angle that's of slightly better quality than the midfield angle that's all over the place.

Check out how many times they cross the 50...and then how many times they cross the 35 before scoring. This just made me smile to watch.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


From The Saturday Special:

1. Do you believe in ghosts, spirits, or the supernatural? You know, I do. I know it seems kind of silly, but I know people who have seen Pele, I know people who have seen the spirits of the ancestors. I think that, growing up in Hawaii, you kind of have to believe.

2. Have you ever had a supernatural experience? I don't know...I swear that I had a psychic experience once, although since it was never really repeatable, I guess maybe it was just a coincidence.

3. What is your favorite horror film? It's not really my genre, but if "The Sixth Sense" counts as horror, then I'll say that. Since that's more of a supernatural thriller, though, I guess my favorite straight-up horror flick is "The Omen." (The original.)

4. Finish this line: Dark is the night ____________. ...that has no dawn.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"We want to spend the rest of our lives rocking faces."

From Cracked, courtesy of The Wife, here is a list of the 10 Most Terrifying Inspirational 80s Songs.

It is hilarious.

Sample text: regarding Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield", they tell us that the video has "a bunch of whores dance-fighting a Raul Julia look-alike while shaking their boobs in a menacing fashion."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Don't Call Him Harry Potter! a Harry Potter gangsta rap. is not the only one.

"Used predominantly by Ninja."

Homegirl Michelle suggested we look this up, and we are glad we did.

We are not sure why we are speaking of ourselves in the plural, but we assure you that we shall cease.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy 1000th!

This is my 1000th post, and instead of yet another milestone celebration (it seems like I just had my 900th and 800th posts), I figure I'll just do the Tuesday Twosome.

1. Do you take vitamins and if so, what? Yeah, I take a Target-brand equivalent to One-A-Day Men's Health Formula. I started taking it a few months ago, on the theory that I'm not getting any younger. Also, I think my doctor suggested it.

2. Do you make an effort to eat healthy, or you eat whatever you feel like eating? A little from column A, a little from column B. I don't really like candies and sweet stuff, so if I'm going to eat, it'll be something like a piece of fruit or cheese. I don't really have a problem with quality...just quantity.

3. What two types of food do you have a hard time staying away from? Only two? Chinese food and non-Chinese food. Well, okay, let's answer for real. Chinese food is actually one of my answer. I guess the other would be Indian.

4. What are two food items you refuse to eat? I can't think of anything off the top of my head that I wouldn't try. (When I was a kid, of course, the story was different.) I've seen some weird stuff on "Bizarre Foods" and "No Reservations," but you only go around once. There are foods that I don't like, but I don't think I'd "absolutely" refuse anything.

5. Are you pleased with your daily diet or do you think it could be better? It could be better in a lot of ways.

"I am unclear as to what the problem is."

Yeah...that much is obvious. Because every writer dreams of receiving petrified alligator feet and dead beetles. Who wouldn't?

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Thermostat Is Messed Up

Okay, so this post doesn't rank high on the relevancy meter...but can someone explain why last night, when the thermostat read 76, I was freezing cold, and tonight, when it reads 72, I need to open the windows and cool the place down?

The weather outside is the same. I'm dressed the same. I'm doing the same things in the same places.

Oh's nice and cool now.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

R.I.P. Max McGee

Legendary Green Bay Packer wide receiver Max McGee died yesterday in a rather ignominious way...falling off his roof while blowing leaves.

I never saw McGee play except in highlight films, so to me he was always that bizarre guy calling the Packers games on the radio with Jim Irwin. Part of the fun of listening to the games on the radio was waiting to hear what wacko thing Max would say next. (Not to mention that he and Irwin called the games a million times better than any television announcers; most people I know turned off the TV sound and tuned in the radio broadcast.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The wisdom of Harvey Pekar

I've been reading American Splendor on and off now for more years than I care to admit. Harvey Pekar is a great voice--probably the 20th-century...Pepys? No, because Pepys, if I remember correctly, was more about describing things around him, rather than his own life. Proust? (Ignoring for the moment that Proust is the 20th Century Proust [where is the quote "I'm the black Jesse Owens" from?]) Meh, maybe...let me start again.

I've been reading American Splendor on and off now for more years than I care to admit. Harvey Pekar is a great voice, but overall "Splendor" is really kind of take-it-or-leave-it for me. He certainly has some good stories to tell, but it's never been a can't-miss read--at least to me. Every so often, though, there's a kernel of wisdom that makes the journey worthwhile.

I was reading a Vertigo collection today called "American Splendor: Another Day". In it is a story titled "What Happened To Your Parents." At the end of the story, Harvey says "I dunno, maybe it's just not in the cards for some people to have happy lives. Although we're here for such a short time...maybe it doesn't even matter that much."

Maybe it's just the mood I'm in right now, but I think that may be about the most profound thing I've ever read.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

These guys SHRED!

I hope that you like these videos. You have to be in a certain frame of mind to find them funny, but I am definitely in that state of mind right now. YouTube user StSanders has gone to great lengths to uncover awesome performances by some musical legends.

Metallica shreds!

Featuring Ozzy...Jake E. Lee shreds!

This is the last one I'll post. I love Steve Vai's facial expressions as he SHREDS!

(That one is especially good after the 3:00 mark.)

If you find these funny, check out StSander's YouTube page, because there are more. The one called "Star Wars Redo" is funny, too.

Thanks to Nate and Matt at work for turning me on to these.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Topical Tuesday

Topical Tuesday is giving the nod to Blog Action Day. Eliza says,

To celebrate Blog Action Day [yesterday] this week’s Topical Tuesday is once again about the environment. Global Warming is a very topical issue at the moment, and it is certainly one worthy of further consideration. So tell me dear readers, is global warming a natural or man made occurance?

Temperature change itself is natural and cyclical. In general, it's only to be expected that worldwide temperatures ebb and flow; if they didn't, there'd be no need to keep weather records.

But we're not helping, are we? I don't think it's possible to dispute that humanity has exacerbated the process, whether we're the primary cause or not. A lot of the "debate" about global warming centers around that issue, it seems to me, and it does so to the detriment of the underlying fact that warming is occurring and that we need to do something about it.

I propose this for those who think that humanity has nothing to do with it. As a gedankenexperiment, think about what happens when you stick ten people into a windowless room with no a conference room or an office. Or think about an unventilated office with eight or more computers, like my office at Persoft. (Hint: my office was HOT.) We've been venting waste heat into a closed system for centuries. It's bound to catch up to us sooner or later.

I'm not a scientist, though, so I'll leave that to someone else.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Legally Blonde: The Musical"

I was flipping channels on the television machine yesterday. For some reason, MTV was showing an excerpt of the Broadway production of "Legally Blonde: The Musical." The excerpt went on, and on, and on, and at a certain point I said "Hey...this isn't an excerpt. It's the whole show!" (It's apparently partly a promo for one of MTV's vapid programs; the "Legally Blonde" segments were bracketed by vaguely pretty girls from whatever program it was, barely reading from cue cards.)

I will admit, of my own free will, that Reese Witherspoon's "Legally Blonde" is one of my movie guilty pleasures. (Another one, as we all know, is "A League of Their Own".) When I saw in the NYT earlier this year that there was a musical, I was a bit skeptical. I forget if they did a performance on this year's Tonys; they weren't nominated for Best Musical, so they probably didn't.

Turns out I needn't have been skeptical. The show was mostly really good. Some of the voices (Kate Shindle as Vivienne!) were amazing, the "Riverdance" homage was hilarious. And while it was a little too Kristin Chenoweth for me, Laura Bell Bundy's Elle brought down the house.

If you're at all interested in musical theater, and you can't make it to New York to catch the show on the stage, you should try to catch this the next time it's on MTV. The camera work, as The Wife pointed out, was really good--something that's hard to come by in filmed stage shows. Whoever put the package together deserves an Emmy.

My only problem, and there always has to be a problem with me, doesn't there, was that the book took a lot away from the character of Elle as set forth in the movie (I haven't read the novel). I was a little dismayed to see Elle's control over her life taken away from her: the realization that Warner will never love her is handed to her by another character; the solution to Paulette's dog problem is handed to her by another character. Part of the reason that Elle works, at least in the movie, is that she is allowed to realize for herself that she is smarter than everyone gives her credit for. In the stage production, that is largely taken away from her. In fact, I had to stop watching it for a bit so that I could calm down. this! I laughed really hard; there are some great lines, both in the music and in the book. And the "Riverdance" bit...HA! Right up there with the "Evita" quote in "Wicked." Man, I love the theater.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What fresh hell is this?

Glenn Greenwald, amazing as always, quotes Bill O'Reilly today. Bill-o here is describing the ghastly hell that America would be if John Edwards became President:

[W]ould you support President John Edwards? Remember, no coerced interrogation, civilian lawyers in courts for captured overseas terrorists, no branding the Iranian guards terrorists, and no phone surveillance without a specific warrant.

Jesus H. Christ, doesn't that sound awful? It boils down to the lunatic idea of people having the rights that are set forth in that piece of crap Constitution that George W. Bush insists on wiping his ass with every day. (Thrown in, the blatantly obvious attempt to get a foreign army declared a terrorist force so that the Chimp can order them attacked without having to declare war.) Who would want that?

I am shocked and grossed that there are people in this country who can say Bill-o said, and not only believe it but have the audacity to claim that those things are what this country stands for.

Greenwald says it all much better than I can, and his Salon column is pretty much required daily reading. The ad that you have to watch before you get to the column is a minor price to pay for the incredible amount of text Greenwald puts out. is all about "Lasts" today.

1. What was the last thing you baked? Hmm...I believe it was some M&M blondie bars. I'm supposed to whip something up for a bake sale in a couple of weeks, and although I have no idea how much I'm supposed to make or how I'm supposed to portion them out, I do have a cookbook: Boyle and Irey's amazingDiner Desserts, given to us by a friend who himself has a well-worn copy.

2. What was the last thing you tried on for size? A couple of weeks ago, we were asked to wear "nice" clothes to work. I had to buy a new pair of pants. But I think the last thing I actually tried on was an aloha-style shirt, which I ended up buying as well.

3. What was the last thing you purchased on credit? In the classical sense of the term, our 2006 Ford Focus, which we bought not long after our Chicago disaster. In terms of the last thing I put on a credit card, I bought some model-building supplies last weekend.

4. What was the last thing you put a postage stamp on? This week, I mailed some bills. The very last bill I stamped was one that went to pay for the transmission of some medical records related to my accident in March.

5. What was the last thing you took a photo of? The Child's dance school has a mosquito problem during hot, humid late-summer days. They're everywhere. You can't walk from the parking lot to the studio without getting chomped on. At night, smart spiders are all over the building's exterior lights, spinning webs and catching insects. These spiders get to be REALLY fat. Every time I pass them, I say to myself, "I have GOT to get a picture of this!" Finally, I remembered to grab a camera from work, and I took some photos of the spiders. None of them turned out well--too much wind shaking the webs, too much jitter from the photographer.

More Friday Fun

Kiki at Friday Fun had some interesting questions today.

1. If you could have your dream home, what are 5 “must haves” that you would want it to include? A large basement, partially finished. (Partially finished so that, if I needed to, I could build a space to suit whatever came up.) A spacious, well-organized kitchen. A dedicated home theater room. Cat-5 to every room. And finally, plenty of bookshelves.

2. If you could have your dream vehicle, what would it be? Chauffeured :)

3. If you could change ONE thing about your life, what would it be and why? Tough one. My life is pretty good. I guess I would choose to alter the fact that I don't have one hundred million dollars.

4. If you could change ONE thing about the way you look, what would it be and why? Sometimes I wish I was a few inches shorter, but I'd want to take off a concomitant amount of weight, so I'm not sure I can give a satisfactory answer to this question.

5. If you could be on a reality show (from Survivor to Dancing With the Stars to Top Chef), which one would you be on and why? Maybe the one with Bret Michaels, so I could ask all of those women why they're being such whores for a has-been. (To be fair, I've only ever seen two minutes of one episode, but I'm reasonably certain that it was representative.) Or maybe I Love New York, so I could ask what the hell was going on. (Again...two minutes.) Actually, I wouldn't mind having Xzibit pimp my ride. Does that count?

6. If you could be in the audience of any talk show (from Dr. Phil to Jay Leno), which one would you choose and why? Conan O'Brien. He's hilarious. And I'd hope that I'd be there on a night when Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was yelling about pooping on things. And maybe the Masturbating Bear.

Heaven and Hell

The Friday Fiver takes on Heaven and Hell this week.

1. What's your personal hell? A large, noisy room crowded with people I don't know, but only if I am there because of some kind of social obligation (i.e. a football game or a concert is okay, but a party is not, since I'd be expected to talk to other people).

2. Do you prefer brightly lit rooms or dim spaces? Dim spaces, although there needs to be some light. I cannot, for example, use my computer in the dark.

3. What's the weather like today? Reasonably fall-like. The high temperature was in the low fifties, the sun was bright and the leaves are reddish-gold.

4. Is it easy to be you? Probably.

5. Friday fill-in:
My heaven is ____.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

"That was ten minutes ago!"

The Wife and I were watching "The Simpsons" tonight. They showed the episode where Mr. Burns sells the power plant to the Germans.

Obviously, that calls for a detour to...The Land Of Chocolate.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Superheroes at Topical Tuesday

Ahhhh, an excellent question for Topical Tuesday. Eliza asks...

Time for an amusing topic I think. So tell me, who do you consider to be the greatest superhero creation of all time? Does Spider Man fit rather nicely into your web? Is Superman just a man with his knickers on the outside and a penchant for tights?

I can't remember a time when I haven't been reading comics. I still read them to this day--all sorts of comics, from supers to indies to "American Splendor," which is really in a class all by itself. A lot of older comics readers, in order to maintain "street cred" with the indie world, have taken to dismissing superheroes in a variety of different ways, but not me.

It all comes down to storytelling. If you are a good storyteller, your comics will be good. If you are not a good storyteller, your comics will not be good. It doesn't matter if your story is about a guy in tights or an angst-ridden teenager.

Anyway, "the greatest superhero creation of all time" is an interesting label to hang on any hero, and an interesting topic to think about. As a matter of fact, in some sort of cosmic propinquity, I was thinking about it earlier this evening when I got home from work. Here are my thoughts on a couple of runners-up.

  • Cyclops from the X-Men. Cyclops was my favorite X-Man, hands down: always willing to do good for its own sake. He was a great leader, and was able to put his own feelings aside for the good of the team. Yes, he did leave the team after Jean died...but then we got Uncanny X-Men #144, which showed us exactly the kind of man Scott really was. (Hint: awesome.) I love Cyke...but all in all, probably too angsty and unpopular to really be the greatest.

  • Mark Waid's Captain America was awesome. His run on Cap redefined the character and was, for me, one of the watershed moments in comics history. Then Marvel pulled him from the title, and Cap started to suck again. Defining panel: Cap has jumped out of an airplane, with no parachute, to save Sharon Carter, who I think is strapped into an ejection seat whose parachute has malfunctioned. As they're plummeting through the sky, she yells at him, "Are you CRAZY?" He says, "No. Just loyal." I loved Waid's Cap, but I don't think that one year on a character can't qualify that character for greatest of all time.

  • Rorschach from Watchmen. Hey, it said "greatest creation," not "greatest hero." Nutbar little shrimpy Rorschach, with his ever-changing mask and utterly psychopathic willingness to destroy his enemies, is for me the most compelling part of Watchmen. I bet he was for Alan Moore, too; Rorschach really drives the entire story. Shoot, even straight-arrow Nite-Owl can't bring himself to cut the guy loose.

Those are the runners-up. For me, this question really only has one definitive answer.


With no superpowers except a keen intellect and a phenomenal will, Batman can stand toe-to-toe with the most extremely powerful individuals in comics. Think about it: a guy who can laugh off a bullet to the chest accepts the Bat as an equal. A woman whose strength is that of multiple GODS accepts the Bat as an equal. Heroes whose powers derive from sources magical, cosmic, or divine accept the Bat as an equal...

...or even as a superior. There was a time, and I don't know if this is true now, when a Superman-level threat was considered no big deal. But if the bad guys take out Batman, then we start worrying. There was a time, and I don't know if this is true now, when you could play the "who wins?" game and be utterly certain that if Batman was one of the choices, he would ALWAYS be the right choice. (Batman vs. Superman? Batman wins. Batman vs. The Hulk? Batman. Batman vs. God? I'll put two-to-one on the Bat.)

Driven, dedicated, doing the right thing at any cost, Batman is easily the greatest superhero creation ever.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Free Association

Here's this week's free-association list from Unconscious Mutterings. As always, we're supposed to put down the first thing that comes to mind. I'm doing this this week because there's one answer that's mildly humorous and one that's downright scary.

1. Cluster :: Foul-up. Could've been Larry Hama in the writer's chair, could have been someone else, but there was an issue of Wolverine where someone vaguely military was yelling "It's a real cluster foul-up!" A real head-shaker--it made me wish that they could have just used the real expression.

2. Announcement :: Box. No clue. Sort of a computer term...but not really.

3. Respect :: Yourself. Again, no clue how I came up with this one. I have some ideas, but none of them really pan out.

4. Incident :: Analysis. If you can explain this one, I'll buy you a drink.

5. Accordion :: Folder. I like office supplies.

6. Drunk :: Driving. Probably a real popular finisher. "Drunken milkman...driving drunk. Milk and blood. Blood and milk. Milk and blood! Blood...and milk." (Scatterbrain!)

7. If :: Only. Again, probably a common one.

8. Dexter :: Morgan. This is the scary one. Why? Well, I was wondering where this came from, so I googled the name. This is the name of the character from the TV show "Dexter." I have never seen this show. Someone has talked to me about it one time. I have never read the books. I didn't even KNOW there were books. do I come up with this? This is a scary tribute to the power of advertising in our society.

9. Wedding :: Bells. Another common one, I'm sure.

10. Gambling :: Problem. No clue where this came from.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I need to sketch a few things, just to get an idea of how this model I'm working on is going to look, whether the proportions are going to be right, that kind of thing. There are a couple of traditional ways to do this. First, of course, is to grab a pencil and a piece of paper and just start drawing. The second is to get a block of lightweight, easy-to-carve material like foam or balsa and just start carving.

The problem with the first approach is that...well, to be honest, my drawing skills are not the greatest. Oh, I can draw, and I can draw out a traditional three-view plan. I do pretty well for myself in mechanical drawing and drafting. The problem is that translating that into an isometric view is not my forte. Straight lines are no problem, of course, but pretty much anything else is going to turn out looking like a glob of crap, because it's tough for me to keep things to scale.

The problem with the second approach is that it's time-consuming, messy, and unforgiving of errors. Not to mention expensive, as the ruined blanks pile up.

I hit on the idea--probably given to me by one or another of the modeling sites on the Internet--to try roughing out shapes in a 3d drawing application. This turns out to be a pretty good solution; I know the shapes I'm going for, I know the size I want them to be. I can mess around with what I come up with, and if I make a mistake, all I've lost is time--and mistakes are easily fixable thanks to the magic of Undo.

But with 3d apps comes another huge headache: this stuff is EXPENSIVE. And rightly so, since most of them are professional-grade tools for professional artists and animators, both of which I am not.

My favorite, Cinema 4d, lists out at just under $900 for the core edition, with the XL clocking in over two grand. Autodesk 3ds Max...$3500. Autodesk Maya...$2000. Lightwave is a thousand bucks. Cinema 4d and 3ds Max have demo versions, and I've tried them out. I haven't tried Lightwave yet. And of course, there's always the Maya Personal Learning Edition, which is free as in beer as long as you don't use it commercially, which I wouldn't. I'll need to try that out.

Then there's Blender. Blender is free both ways, but...I don't know, I just don't like the interface. As with anything, I suppose I'd get used to it in time, but it's just so offputting at the start that I'm not really inclined to bother. For me, all it's got going for it is the price.

Someone at work reminded me about Google SketchUp, which turns out to be perfect for my needs. It's not as robust as Cinema 4d, but nobody ever claimed it was, and it absolutely suits what I want to do: draw out a shape, extrude it into three dimensions, rotate, add details. It has all the tools I need, and while I do wish it had a larger variety of primitive shapes, it's pretty easy to make them.

So I've been using SketchUp, and it's good enough. I just save $2000...I wonder what I should do with it. You know, I need a new computer...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bush to uninsured children: Drop dead!

I do not understand how, with a straight face, anyone can support the Chimp's veto on health care for children, and say "We're on an unsustainable spending path in this country and no one seems willing to put the brakes on anywhere" with a straight face, while also supporting unlimited funding for the Chimp's cock-waving, how-many-different-excuses-have-we-run-through war. (That's what Grampa "Law & Order" Munster had to say; for other reactions, check Daily Kos or the Kaiser report.)

I do not understand it.

Monday was National Children's Health Day. Is it any wonder that the Chimp wrote off the lives of millions of people behind closed doors, like the coward he is?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The White House Supports The Troops

Yeah, this is six months old, but it's completely indicative of how the Emperor's actions do not match his words. He can pay all the lip service he wants, but at the end of the day, it's "Fuck those guys and their lousy half a percent."

Topical Tuesday

Colin at Topical Tuesday says

This week’s topic is about the first job you had. No matter how big or small, it was a job. It was possibly a job that hardly paid your rent. It might have been a job that defined your future career. Whatever it was, the time has come to share with the world the intimidation, excitement and your story of your first adventure in the grown up world of money-making.

As is usual with this kind of thing...I have three answers.

"Three?" you say with some well-deserved incredulity.

Sure. The first job I ever had that I got paid for was a summer job for the State of Hawaii. The official title was "Student Summer Hire," I think, but if you think of it as a paid internship, you wouldn't be too far off the mark. Basically, you apply for the job and they put you pretty much wherever. I did this for four years and never worked the same office twice.

That first summer, I worked at the State Department of Health, Communicable Disease Division. My supervisor was named Alvina, and she was really cool. I was one of three or possibly four student hires that year--two guys, George and Glenn, plus one girl. She may have actually been a full-timer; her name was either Mary Ellen or Maria Elena, depending on who was talking to her. There were probably a couple of other people, but since I was basically a glorified assistant secretary, I stuck with the secretaries.

All I can remember doing is filing. Lots and lots of filing. I guess nobody really likes filing, which kind of creates a problem when you're looking for a particular item. Also, there was copying involved. I liked the photocopy machine, mostly because it gave me a chance to get out of the office and upstairs to the copy room--it's the simple pleasures, I guess.

Also, I learned Wordstar. At least, I think it was Wordstar. We collaborated, under the noms de plume "Baghwan Booblakahn" and "John Cheever Steinbeck Smith," on an elaborate story filled mostly with foul puns. I believe I still have that story somewhere.

Minor note of trivia: Glenn ended up transferring from Purdue to Grinnell.

So that was the first job I ever had. But depending on my thought process, I sometimes don't count that as a real job. I was still living at home, and those four summer jobs (DOH, Department of Accounting and General Services, Department of Business and Economic Development, and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands) were really just time-killers between school years. Also, I was working to earn money for plane tickets. I may also have had to pay for textbooks, but I don't remember.

My first job out of college was one I took out of desperation. We had just moved here, and pickings were unsurprisingly very slim for someone with an undergraduate degree in German and four summers of basic secretarial work. I tried to pick up work as a secretary, but never got a call. So I went to a temp agency to try to get placed as a temp. Nothing, even though I type somewhere north of 80wpm, can answer the telephone, make copies and file.

"I have something I'm desperate to fill," the temp agency person told me when she called me a few days after telling me she didn't have anything. "It's only two days, and it's light industrial work."

Turns out it was working for one of the State's print shops, loading something into some machine so that the machine could do something. Yeah, I know, it's pretty vague. This was a second-shift job: eight hours of "pick up bale, cut open bale, load paper into hopper, repeat."

I had to wuss out of the second day. I could barely get out of bed, and there was no way I was lifting that shit again. I never even got paid for the eight hours I did, and I totally didn't care.

But I don't really count that as a first job either. How can you count something that you only did for a day? real first job out of school, the first one that mattered, that I got all by myself and that I actually used to pay bills, was working for The Music Store Which Shall Not Be Named. I started at $5.25 an hour, processing outbound orders. I cannot think of a single good thing to say about the three years I worked there, other than that it was A Job and I needed A Job. (I did work with a couple of good people, but by and large the store was populated by vapid assholes. As an example...we figured out how to program the function keys on our terminals so that we could reduce a bunch of data entry to a single keystroke. "You don't look like you're working," was what we heard from management. Not, "Hey great, what a time-saver.")

I'm still bitter about that place. I can't even set foot into it, so I'm really glad that we got a Guitar Center in town. Even if it did (probably) shut down at least one local music store, possibly two.

Out of all of this, I've taken a few huge lessons.

First: I had an intern of my own this summer, and, drawing on my experience as a summer hire, my first goal was to make sure not to give that intern bottom-drawer shit work. I tried to put him on several different teams to give him a taste of what working in software development is really like, and I hope I succeeded.

Second: I remember what my managers at The Music Store were like, and every now and then I try to make sure that I, as a manager, am the polar opposite of all of them. Well, almost all--I did have one good one for a short while, and I really think that it was his recommendation that helped me get my job at The School District. (He also asked me the best question I've ever heard in my entire life. Speaking about The Music Store, he asked me point-blank "What the hell are you doing here?")

Third, and most important: when I look at resumes, I don't automatically set aside people with no degree and no experience. Someone took a chance on me, and I was able to get out of The Music Store and into The School District. Someone else took a chance on me, and I was able to get out of The School District and into Persoft. I have a responsibility to pay that forward.

Who knew? (part 9243)

Did you know that there's a G.I. Joe Collectors' Convention? I sure didn't.

CNN has some video, but I can't link to it. It's kind of cute, though, to see these guys carefully positioning their dolls. Sorry, action figures.

I always loved G.I. Joe when I was growing up, and somewhere, I still have the first couple years' worth of the Marvel comics. Yo Joe!

Monday, October 01, 2007

I normally have no problem with scalpers, but...

Don't you have to be a huge dick to sell tickets to a Hannah Montana concert for two grand a pop? I mean, it's one thing to fleece some fifty-year-old Eagles fan, but to fleece a kid?

What's next, scalpers for The Wiggles?