Monthly Archives: December 2006

Quick and Dirty Weather Radar

Radar Page

Quick, easy weather radar, brought to you by the folks at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Posted by Aaron at 9:52 AM

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In the old Win9X (Windows 95/98/ME) edition operating systems, hit Start-Run, then type in either PROGMAN or WINFILE.

PROGMAN brings up the old Windows 3.X Program Manager, and WINFILE brings up the old File Manager.

Now, I need to comment on this. I worked at Gateway 2000 when Windows 95 first came out. I really, really, REALLY wish that someone would have told us this helpful hint at the time, because it would have made it easier to explain “New Windows” to these folks who had sharpened their teeth on “Old Windows”. It would have allowed us to simply say, “Hey, how about you just open up Program Manager, and we’ll get to it that way?”

Oh well, it’s still a neat trick. Too bad you can’t do it in Windows XP.

Posted by Aaron at 2:07 AM

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(Help Blog) First Posting

First Posting

Hi, welcome to my blog. This is actually my second blog, one that I created mainly to put on helpful tips on anything I can think of. I doubt there will be many posts at first, but eventually I hope to have hundreds on tips relating mainly to computers, but also a plethora of other aspects of our everyday lives. Enjoy. -Aaron

Posted by Aaron at 9:02 AM

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Family Matters (sans Urkel)

Note, the following might be a little icky in spots. Parental Guidance is advised.

Well, I’m back at my own computer, my wife is in the next room, and all is right with the world. Except that her grandma (her Dad’s Mom) is pretty sick now. Grandma Fannie was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit yesterday with fluid in her lungs and difficulty breathing. This was possibly due to her kidneys having partially shut down, which allowed for a buildup of fluid instead of the natural filtering and purging that normally occurs when the kidneys are in tip-top shape.

Fannie’s doing a lot better however. She was given a good dose of Lasics (?Lasix?) which kind of kicked things into motion…that’s my best understanding of it from this guy, who’s medical knowledge comes mostly from Scrubs. But Grandma F is alert, hates the breathing tube she’s got, but is doing mostly OK, considering. Close call, but still doing alright, thank God.

Now, back to my wonderful wife Sarah…

About Tuesday last week, she got a case of tendinitis, which basically means she’s overworked the tendons in her left ankle and foot. Prescription: for her to stay off her feet for a few days. Yeah, ha ha ha, that’s going to happen. It’s nearly Christmas and she works as a manager at a nationwide drug/retail store chain. This is clearly NOT going to happen. Sarah purchases an ankle brace, which she wears with a sock underneath, and while taking it easy, returns to work.

Wednesday, a rash breaks out. Probably just due to sweat.

Thursday, still a rash. Out goes the ankle brace, good riddance. Gold bond for the rash, and keeping it dry throughout.

Friday, same story. Rash spreads a little…looking a little worse. Tried a foot bath of water and Epsom salt, dried it out. Now, here’s where the fun begins. The ankle area breaks out in a really freaky looking scab mixed with blisters that look like what happens when you dump water on a Gremlin. You remember, when Stripe jumped into the fountain at the end of the movie, right before he got wasted by that open window of sunlight? It looked a LOT like that, ugly nickel and dime sized blisters.

Well, again we both under-react. We’re both of the mindset that you don’t call in sick for work, and anything worth getting worked up over you simply patch up and keep on going. Worry about it on your day off, just get back to work. Sarah had heard of a patch ointment called Second Skin that was supposed to be great on burns. I suggested that we go out and grab this stuff, instead of just waiting and seeing. This stuff was really, really grossing me out. And me, being a guy, I wanted to “fix” this sick and icky ‘thing’.

Note, this is now 11pm on the 23rd of December, a Friday.

I proceed to help placing a light gauze wrap onto the wound, and we head out the door. First stop: Wal-Mart didn’t have what we were looking for. They had something close, but it wasn’t quite it. So, we went to a Walgreen’s, at 84th & Harrison, to see if they might have it. They did…but then Sarah thought we should talk to the night pharmacist on duty. We did, and after a few short minutes (where he saw that
the wound was actually leaking), he suggested that we do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to an urgent care center.

It’s now 1am, 24 December, Saturday.

We make it to a 24/7/365 Urgent Care center by the Oakview Mall in West-O. We get Sarah admitted, explain that there’s blistering on the ankle area, we need to have it looked at.

Note that at this point, no one other than Sarah and Myself have actually “seen” the wound.

Finally, a doctor looks at the wound. He later says that it sounded like a patch-and-fix session, where he’d kindly send us on our way. Later, one of the nurses will say that nothing that night was as it seemed. A simple cut on a hand turned out to have cut all of the tendons on that hand. A bought of indigestion was actually a heart attack. And a simple reaction to something in Sarah’s foot ended up being Cellulitus with a possibility of a Staph infection (since disproven…to cut to the chase, we still don’t know what exactly it is. More later.)

When the doctor entered, and asked Sarah to unwrap her foot, his first reaction was, “Wow!”, which came out more like “Woah, wtf is that? Holy crap!” He almost reviled a little. I mean, him being a doctor, he’s seen it all. But I think it was all just so…unexpected.

At this point, the blistering had spread even from when we had last seen it. It was about 3 inches up from her ankle, and the redness of cellulitus was most of the way to her knee. In about 2 hours.

To Be Continued, I have GOT to go to bed. I’m still very sleep deprived. Thank-you all for your well wishing.

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Happy crappy c-mas

Here I am, at work, typing on the ompany keyboar missing 3 letters…I’ll let you figure out which ones. (I’e cheate by copying an pasting a ‘c’ here an there…)So, neeless to say, I’ll be eiting this later. My wife is out of the hospital. We got to spen the night, hristmas Ee/ay in the hospital, a first for both of us. In fat, it’s the first time she’s eer been amitte to a hospital, an the first -mas that she’s eer not been at in the 13 years with her rug-store nationwie retailer. Happy rappy.

Here’s what happene: cellulitus combine with possible staph infetin equals a really gross blistery scabby rashy thing that looks like it’s out of Aliens. But she’s out of the hospital, at home, on some goo mes at the moment.

gotta run, I’ll reise this later.

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Not-so Merry Christmas – serious situation

Hello few loyal readers. I just wanted to say that my wife, Sarah, is in the hospital right now. What started as tendonitis (which was treated with an ankle-brace) turned into a rash, and then a possible staph infection on her ankle. It was serious enough to head to an urgent-care center 11pm last night, then to the hospital at 9am this morning. I’m running on 2 hours sparadic sleep, trying to fetch some necessities, but I felt the need to tell you about her situation. If you pray, please do. Many thanks, and Merry Christmas.

Dr.Strangelove said…

Jeez! I hope she is alright. Try to have a happy holiday though.
1:40 PM

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Hate your dog

I wish I had a telephoto lens on my camera so I could take pictures of the annoying little crapfestering sheltie that lives with its owner just down the hall from me. I hate your dog, lady. I hate it in the pit of my stomach. I hate the way your dog barks at every f**king thing. I mean, everything. What is really going through the dog’s mind when it’s barking? Anything? Is there any point to its barking? Is there any way imaginable that you don’t find the barking as annoying as everyone else in this apartment building? How can you force this stupid barking menace on all of us? How can you be so selfish as to not think of spending some mad Christmas money on some obedience school for your stupid, loud, festering pile of crap with a leash attached to it? I hate your dog lady. I really do.

Here’s a haiku I just wrote, in 3-7-3 scale, devoted to how much I hate your dog:

your loud dog
the sound of my car coming
better hide

That is not to say that I actually “would” run over your stupid, noisy dog, lady. It’s just that part of me would love to do it.

Lady, you should also note that everytime I hear your dog, I sing a sing-songy song that I made up a while back, just for you. It goes like this:

Hate your do-o-og [with a higher pitch on “dog”]
Hate your do-o-og [with a lower pitch on “dog”]
[repeat 1-3 times]

Why won’t you move out? Your boyfriend (and my old boss’ boss in the Air Force) isn’t around anymore. Why didn’t you move out with him? Didn’t things work out? Maybe I can get you two back together again, just so that I can get your stupid dog out of my life! Wouldn’t that make things better for you? Then I wouldn’t have to go to jail for doing something bad to your stupid, disobedient, noisy noisy barky barky dog! Then I could sleep out on my couch without being woken up by your stupid dog, barking at NOTHING upon entering the front door to the apartment building, with it’s bark echoing in our wide hallways and spacious ceilings, barks bouncing around and around, until they end up at my front door, waking me from dreams of flying in space, maybe walking to that castle on the moon…my last lucid dream, the last dream I was able to fully control, ruined by your stupid, yappy sheltie.

Get bent. And your little dog too.

Dr.Strangelove said…
Do you have a grill? If not I have an extra. It is a delicious roast if done right.

12:25 AM

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Hot Manatee Action

This is SUCH a funny site. Thank-you Conan O’Brien for coming up with this idea, and for NBC for over-freaking about the FCC’s regulations, leading to the creation of Read about its inception at BoingBoing.

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Cheapest military ribbons to be found.

I was promoted twice when I was in the Air Force (if you count Airman Basic [AB] to Airman First Class [A1C]), and I can tell you the most annoying prospect of this was updating my uniform. Besides the promotions, there were also the various ribbons we “achieved” (meaning “Hey, you happened to be part of a unit that supposedly did something better than that other unit, which is also doing terrific work…hell, here’s another ribbon for you to buy for your uniform!).

Sometime during the course of my career, my hero, my boss, and for a while, my landlord, Joel Darr, directed me to this website to get entire racks of ribbons at the cheapest prices to be found. I don’t know if there’s any Current Military viewing this site, but here’s a great gem of a resource for you.

(Another good site for checking out amazing (ribbon) racks is here, supplied by future president, Aron Alexander. I found this in a later emailing.)

While I’m on the subject of my old branch, here’s two fun websites about Air Force counterculture (i.e. people even more bitter than I can be about my service): Chair Force and Chair-Force. The hyphenated site is a little more raw about the whole experience (and those who’ve posted pictures and other items to this site), so mind the kids when viewing.

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Mighty Bomb Jack: Threat or Menace?!

In researching the last article….chuckle, yeah, I really “research” my articles on here. I guess that’s a better way than saying, “In screwing around online instead of doing chores around here on my day off…”

Anyhow, I was trying to decide whether to include a picture of my hero, Mighty Bomb Jack, on the last article relating how to create 8-bit characters out of beads. I decided against a picture, since I’d be doing it simply for my own benefit, and not for the benefit of the posting itself…or for Mr. Kite. (Congrats if you got that one, you’re hip. And old.)

As I was googling for pictures, I stumbled across this site declaring that Mighty Bomb Jack is the 14th WORST game for the Nintendo!! For shame! One cannot escape the merits of Mighty Bomb Jack on the first viewing of such a stupendous game! Sure, my friends thought about leaving me behind at Video Mania everytime I suggested we rent that instead of Contra, Ikari Warriors, or World Wrestling. But come on! The repeticious music of MBJ was like coming home to an old friend…over…and over…and over again. And the funny little “DOINK!” sounds everytime you jumped were not annoying! Nay, they were fun! A higher pitch than in those dumb Mario games, just so that it would almost pierce your eardrums…but not quite! Still fun, mind you! Not physically damaging!

Anyhow, if you MUST see something on ol’ Jacky, here you go: Why Jack?! Why not Yoshi?!

(P.S…it saddens me that no one in the entire viewable universe of Google has made Mighty Bomb Jack wallpaper.)

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Arts & crafts, and old-school NES heroes, UNITE!!

I’ve been spending the last few weeks slowly disecting and deleting emails from my old email address, Well, I came across this gem, and had to share. is a website devoted mainly to old-school Nintendo Entertainment System games, along with other miscellany in connection to the same. One page on this site is focused on crafting Nintendo game characters. Out of beads. It’s actually much cooler than it sounds, or else I wouldn’t have held onto it for these few years.

Who would you create? Me, I’d go for my own personal favorite, Mighty Bomb Jack.

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"Liar!" – Korn, See You On The Other Side

Okay, for those of you paying attention, I’m sort of limping this site along until I can demolish it and create the new BoO. So yeah, I’ll be posting random stuff for the next few weeks, occaisionally posting a decent story of…whatever. I just thought I should say something about it, since I’ve done something like 10 postings since I said I wasn’t even going to do one.

Blah blah blah, and that’s the way it is.

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The mighty Fred Hembeck

I’m in awe of Fred Hembeck, for the comic he wrote, “Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe”. Back when I collected comics on a very regular basis, and back when I delved from Transformers and G.I. Joe into the more “mainstream” Marvel comics of The West Coast Avengers, U.S. Agent (the offshoot of Captain America), and Solo-Avengers (see a trend forming?), along comes Fred’s comic about offing the Marvel Universe.

See, the standard comics of the day used to really intimidate me. But then, mainstream intimidates me. I like things just so long as not “too” many other people like them. I love Star Trek, because it’s supposedly on the fringe. (But with an entire Las Vegas exhibit devoted to Trek, it’s hardly just on the fringe anymore.) Same thing with shows like Scrubs, ER (which is supposedly past it’s prime, and out of the true mainstream focus, but in actuality is still a kick-ass show), and so on.

When I see a comic that basically kills off the mainstream comic world, I think to myself, “Man! this I gotta read!”

This was my first experience with Fred, who had been writing a regular comic page in Marvel Age for a while before this. I became a bigger fan of his work, eventually picking up, “Fred Hembeck Buys the Marvel Universe”. Later, as the cost of buying the comics I wanted outweighed my finances, I put comics, along with Fred Hembeck, in the back of my mind up on a shelf.

I stumbled across Fred’s site today, specifically on the story behind “Destroys”. I had suspected this (due to the use of “older” characters and costume models), but that comic was shelved for a full 6 years before being released. In Aaron years of the time, it’d be closer to 12-15 years today. I couldn’t believe it, and if I had known that at the time, I probably wouldn’t have picked up the comic in the first place. To quickly explain, to go along with my reluctance to get into mainstream things is the difficulty in delving into some kind of storyline that has been going on for several years already.

See, back then (maybe more than today), the writers would throw little bones to reward the kids who had been reading the comics for a while. There’d be a little bit of action, and the hero would say to himself, “Man, this is just like the time that other underwear’ing guy tried to wreck the city by doing this!”. Then, at the bottom of the panel, a caption would read, “Issue 2908, as if you didn’t already know! -Ed.” Well, asshole, I didn’t already know. Screw you, I’m going to buy a comic that only has 25 issues total, dickweed.

Getting back to my original topic though, Fred destroyed this universe that had already been going on FOREVER. Just flipped the switch, and poof! Gone! Ha ha! I loved it, and I had to pick it up. I’m just glad I didn’t know the whole time-lag thing, or else my own prejudices would have prevented me from delving into a great and funny comic.

Thanks Fred, nice to see you again.

Fred Hembeck and the story behind destroying the Marvel Universe

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Great Site on the Logistics of God

This is a nice, short narrative on the logistics of God, and questions like, “If God is all powerful, can he create a rock that he himself cannot lift?” Yes! No! Maybe! I don’t know…can you repeat the question? You’re not the boss of me, no! You’re not the boss of me and you’re not so big! Life is unfair…(and there’s the random They Might Be Giants reference of the day.)

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Helpful Smile in Every Aisle

Here’s another tale from my job at a national Office Supplies chain store who shall remain vaguely obvious, but nameless. We’ve been insanely busy for Christmas, just like everyone else. So I bumped up my hours to take advantage of the need. Also, the store needed another body to help out anyhow, and having someone experienced with the store is a plus.

Yesterday, I was working when we hit one of the few truly dead spots we had all night long. Along comes this older lady, about 70 but active. She looked a little taken aback by the store, but not the total bewilderment that normally happens when we get customers 10-20 years older than she.

I asked if she needs any help, and she produces some of the cardboard backing of the product she needs, a component for her ancient calculator. Now, producing the packaging was a GENIUS move on her part. I automatically place her in the top 10 percentile of intellect for the customers we have in the store. I wish I could have properly conveyed this fact to her at the time, but there really isn’t an easy way to say this. “Hey lady, great move. Most of the other people we get in here are complete dumbasses.” And see, by the in-store standards, most of the people we get “are” dumbasses. This “truth” doesn’t really hold water because most people just don’t think on a retail mindset. And I know, when I leave this job, after a couple years I will likely fall into many of the pitfalls that most of our customer base falls into. It’s just the way it is. We are gradually being trained not to think along these lines.

Back on topic however. I see that the product this woman needs is the Nukote brand of calculator parts. Now, Nukote is an excellent brand. However, They have some of the worst choices in packaging. It’s dated…kind of an 80’s styling with a lot of concentric lines emphasizing the lettering. That doesn’t bother me so much, but their choice of colors is downright wrong. Dark gray background with black and red accents. While this looks professional, the colors all but camoflage the products against our metal shelves. Also, the colors of the different individual Nukote products all blend together into one large, gray blob. Whenever I have to put away these things, I usually spend about 3-5 minutes, an eternity when you’re trying to get returns put away at the end of the night.

Well, the coast was still clear, customer-wise. However, I still felt obligated to stay up front. I told the customer where to find the part, and I sent her on her way. She got about 39 steps…she walked with a cane, so it took a minute. Our other stocker-folks were helping the few other customers in the store, or unloading truck in the back, and I knew they wouldn’t be there for a few minutes. So, I asked the other cashier if it was alright to bail on her for a bit. I got the okay, and went after the older lady.

I walked with her to the back of the store, and she was immediately very thankful. I shared my experience in finding these things, which cheered her up, because I placed her on my level in the conversation. I like doing this, especially with people who are intimidated with computers and the various ‘technology’ items we have in the store. New stuff is scary, quite frankly. I’m only in my early 30’s and I’m freaked out by new things all the time. I still have no idea how WiFi could possibly Be. It’s so science fiction…

Anyhow, we got to the corner containing the calculator parts. It’s an ironic spot to put them, in a way. We’ve denegrated the calculator and typewriter parts to the back of the store due to a distinct lack of popularity. However, it’s usually older people that buy the parts, people that walk with a cane or have to drive that annoying scooter-thing we have. So, we’re making our oldest consumers walk the longest distance for the parts they came here to purchase. I understand the logistics of “why” we do it that way, but it still sucks.

Upon arrival to the calculator parts, I’m taken aback once again by the gray blob blend of the different parts on all the different hooks. But then I produce the backing she brought in. Even with that backing, it took about 30 seconds to find this thing. But the backing was still simply a genius move, something that 99% of the customers wouldn’t think of doing. It made the process SO much easier. And she was grateful. She thanked me, short but appreciatively. I think she noticed before I did that the number of customers in the store had increased. At about that moment, I got a page on the walkie talkie requesting another cashier up front. I thanked her, and sent her on her way as I trucked it back to my register.

After we got the line of customers back down (which only took about 5 minutes), the older lady came up to check out. And again, she thanked me at length, telling me that she probably would not have found the calculator parts without me.

I can’t really place the worth of “thanks” high enough, especially when there’s such a dearth of Thanks going around in a time of year that should contain the most thanks-giving. This is sort of why I hate X-Mas. And I do. I like Christmas. I hate X-Mas. X-Mas is an annoying time of year that you feel obligated to spend a bunch of extra money on people buying things that they really don’t need that badly. It’s an opportunity to give the corporations running this country a glut of extra funds to make it through another year, selling us even more stuff that we think we need, but really don’t. And every year, it just gets worse and worse for me.

I don’t think I’m alone. I feel like I’m working in a ghost town called “Thanks”. You don’t see too many residents this time of year. People are worn out. They are tired of shopping, tired of all the running around, tired of trying to figure out what the hell to get everyone. And I don’t blame them. I’m obviously sick of it, and I wish that the holiday would just go away, and turn back into a Christian holiday again. It actually makes me admire the Jehovah’s Witness practice of not celebrating holidays. I wish I could get to that point.

The main problem with this equation is that I’m married to one of the most Christmassy people I’ve ever met. She loves the lights, the Santy Claus, the…everything about Christmas. And I love her for it, because she hasn’t lost…”it”. That thing, that Christmas spirit, that lack of dejectedness. She isn’t jaded like I’ve become. She still feels it…

And the only way that I feel “it” these days is when people like that older lady simply say thanks, and if they have the time, really spell out those words “Thank-You”, like she did. She made my day, and maybe even my month. I wish I could have shown my appreciation of this to her, but really, how can you? I hope that somehow, she knows. I wish her the best of hopes this holiday season.

My point, if I have one, is that this only goes to show how dearly important it is to remember to say Thank You. Some people out there really need to hear it, in every station of employment.

Merry Christmas. And best wishes.

Jason Heath said…

Great writing. It would be interesting for me to experience Christmas in a store from the employee rather than the customer perspective–I’m sure it is very different.
12:00 AM

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A GREAT Star Trek site.

Aha! The old Vulcan Shocker trick. I should have known.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a trekkie. Not a die-hard, hard-core trekkie. I don’t have a costume, and I’ve only been to 1 convention in my life, and while I ‘do’ have a calendar on my wall, it’s of the ships, not the personnel. Anyhow, this is my favorite Trek site for the time being. True, there’s always LCARS and Ex Astris Scientia

Nay, I’m talking about Inspirational Posters. It warms my heart that some trekkies out there are not “SO” into being a trekkie that they cannot poke fun at the source. Nerds Ahoy! Feel Inspired!

Oh, by the way, my nickname on TnT Unauthorized is Vulcan Shocker. I like Trek humor, with a bent angle to it.

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Very extensive Back to the Future timeline

I’ve had thoughts about “some” of this…see, there are many, many, MANY theories of time travel as depicted in movies and TV shows. Some say that you would never actually be able to see yourself, for that would be paradoxical (and I love a good paradox). Some say it really wouldn’t matter, just don’t touch your other self (re: Timecop). Also, the means of time travel vary greatly. For some, you need to slingshot around the sun (Star Trek 4). Others use some sort of time machine (Back to the Future, Time After Time, Bill & Ted, Timecop [again]). And others simply “will” themselves there (Somewhere In Time). There’s also wormholes (Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: First Contact), strange vortexes in space (Star Trek: Generations…see a “Trek” trend forming?), and so on.

Well, here’s one obsessive entry on Wikipedia focusing only on the Back to the Future trilogy, the king of all Time Travel yarns.

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Here’s some pictures of people playing games on the new Nintendo Wii wireless controller. I have to assume that watching people play is almost as much fun as playing the games yourself. And I will probably continue to assume until at least Christmas 2007, when I’ll be able to buy one, on my limited budget.

Maybe I should start a collection…I’ll definitely do that after I create something that actually draws more than 10 hits a week to this thing.

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I cannot resist a couple a’ sweet paradoxes

I’m still reworking this blog from the base, but for the time being, here’s a neat little story about Newcomb’s Paradox. I snagged this story from, by the way.

See, in Newcomb’s Paradox, you have this supreme being from another part of the universe, and he presents you with these two boxes. In one box, $1000. In the other box, either nothing, or $1,000,000. You can take either a single box, or both boxes. Your choice.

Here’s the catch. If you take both boxes, you will get the empty 2nd box. If you only take the 2nd box, then you get the Million Smackers. Oh, and the supreme being already KNOWS which boxes you’re going to take. He’s already put either $1 Million in the 2nd box, or nothing. And he’s been right with the last 99 folks he’s pulled this with.

So, what are you going to do?

At least there won’t be any dead cats in this paradox…*cough*…Schrödinger’s cat…*cough*…

(another great cat paradox link)

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Stranjic von Sterling

Just a quick note, many changes are being made on this site. I’m needing to make it a much, much cleaner looking site. So I’ll be gutting this sucker before long, making it 90% my own code, my own little beast. I need to understand how this whole thing works. So you might not hear from me for a few weeks. With any luck, by the time I’m done, this will grow to be a more popular site. Have a happy new year if I don’t say so.

Jason Heath said…
Looks like you’ve been tearing apart your code and entering the blogger beta widgets world. It is fun stuff! There are a bunch of blogs that will give you a lot of custom stuff in either HTML or Blogger Beta widget form. Check out and

56K rocks! (or maybe not)

12:58 AM

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Fun, fun blog

This is my roommate from Tech School, back in the summer of 2002. And he’s got a great, simplified blog.

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If there’s a show you should be watching right now, it’s Dogfights on A&E. It contains interviews with fighter pilots from WW2, The (first) Korean War, and The Vietnam Conflict. And for visually-minded guys like myself, it contains computer animations of the battles that these old timers got into. These guys…simply amazing. The stuff that they were able to do, in mere seconds, is just mind boggling. This is my new favorite show. Enjoy it, watch it, keep it on the air.

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For the Missing

These people should get in touch with me if they read this:

Trev Castle. From Irving Elementary, and then Edison Junior High. I remember how you liked to fake jumping in front of cars. You were weird, but fun. When I freaked out after Mrs. Goulsen’s bitch-session, you helped me keep face. I still remember, and I thank you.

Jamie Poorman. From Irving Elementary. You were that Indian kid I hung with for a year. Cool kid, man. I remember how we’d talk for long times about, well, kid stuff. Then you said you were moving. I got mad at you, and we had a fight. I’m sorry.

Scott Petersen. From O’Gorman I think. You and Steve…what’s his name. And Aaron Standing. And Mike French, but he went to Roosevelt. You were those friends who were sort of collected rather than made. We just sort of ran into each other and stuck for a while, then busted up the same way.

Zac Elder, or Zachary Elder, or Zack Elder. From Black Hills State. My best friend at that school. You introduced me to Japanese culture, the game Heretic, and weed. None of which I’ve delved into in at least 10 years. But thanks, really good times are still in my head.

Wendy Nemeck…or is it Wendy Nemick. I can’t remember. From Black Hill State. My right-wing friend. So stubborn, but a great hang. I saw you in church, and were sitting by yourself, same as me. When you drove us to church, you were always early, and I was always late, my hair still wet. Us and Guy Gregory, who joined the Air Force a few years before I did. I hope you ended up bagging one of those hockey players in the end.

Doc…I wish I remembered your name, you crazy Communist. I heard you joined the army. How funny. You never got high, which I admired. Still do.

Jessica Meyer…I know where you are. You live here in town, but I never seem to email you. I wish I could figure out how to maintain a buddy-ship with a female without it feeling like cheating.

Mike…not you Mike C., but that other Mike, from Lincoln High, Sioux Falls. You bashed me a lot, but I still liked you more than a lot of people who were nice to me. You were like a slightly cooler version of myself. I liked your movie, by the way. I wish I would have had more creative control over my own.

And then Swiftquill, or Quillswift as I met you. Never really know what to say without it feeling like I’m being selfish, talking about myself. Again with the Jess Meyer comment, I suppose. You are my ultimate writing foil, but I never seem to pick up my sword for more than a few meager moments lately. And it’s simply to write something on here, a piece of residual garbage, the disposable profound. It’s a crutch, to keep me going, to make me think that I’m still writing, when it’s mostly just ramblings about…whatever. Things to amuse myself and my friends, but nothing real, nothing important. Things to keep me going. And then I realize that I turned my whole description toward myself. I wanted yours to be a little more important than that, but so is life, Mama Nat.

This feels like a final letter. I guess it’s because, due to circumstances this week, I almost decided to trash this blog. For good, deleting all the posts. It was a dark week. Which should be obvious from this statement.

I guess I’ll just leave it alone for now. I hope my blog, if it has a consciousness, is quaking in it’s boots. It feels good to torture something that is sort of alive, like pulling the legs off a cockroach. Or maybe I just want to squash it and put it out of its misery. I don’t know. Let’s wait and see.


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I want to note something about bagpipes before I head for bed tonight. I just changed my quote above to a random quote, chosen from my Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Colossal Collection of “Quotable” Quotes. And see, I actually like the bagpipes. One of my few truly great memories of the Air Force includes the use of bagpipes. In Tech School at Biloxi, Mississippi, even on the sweltering hot days, the Chaplain would come out and play the bagpipes for us when we would do our bi-weekly running. He would go through renditions of “Do You Think I’m Sexy”, “Flintstones”, and the Old Spice song, among other traditional Bagpipes melodies. I felt truly thankful that he was out there, almost every week, playing the pipes for all of us runners.

Nuff said, goodnight.

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New blog to check out

Strange Things Are Afoot At the Circle-K

Just another fun blog to check out. I love the title, which is from Bill & Ted’s Adventure (and kudos to those who were paying attention. I quoted that line in a previous post, and as I was double-checking the quote, I found this site). This guy just put a posting about the IMDB list of obscure but great movies, something I’m fond of talking about. Also, he just made a holiday gift guide consisting of knife-fighting books. Enjoy.

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Pics of Kids Who Are Scared of Santa

I check this site out every year. See, I’m not the biggest fan of X-Mas. Christmas, yes. X-Mas bugs the piss out of me. All of the “Holiday Cheer” and the lights and the tradition on tradition on tradition…and really, it should be about big JC, not big SC. Almost makes me want to become a Jehovah’s Witness some days…

Anyhow, before I rant about this and get myself into trouble, here’s a funny site to cheer up those grinches like me.

Scared of Santa!!!

(P.S: Yes, the two older siblings are holding that little girl’s jacket so she can’t run away. I LOVE this stuff!)

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Top Websites Visited in U.S., Canada

This is a listing of the top 10 websites visited this past year, Canada vs. USA. What surprises me the most about this list is just how popular Days of our Lives is in Canada!

Top Sites

Jason Heath said…
For a guy on a 56K modem you sure are able to do a lot of blogging. It is probably impossible to load my bloated blog on that bandwidth. Anyway, I love the blog and the new template–I’m always reading it.

1:27 AM

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Killing My Inner "Bad-CSR"

Customer Service Representative…a little like Technical Support.

The instant you sit down, you know what’s about to happen. There’s a little sweat just beneath the skin, waiting to ooze out of your pores. You can almost feel them, all the little people, trying to dig into your brain, via an earpiece, attached to the old clunky 15 year old Lucent box. You can feel them coming…and then it’s time. You have to log in at 8:00 sharp. So you wait, 20 or 30 seconds, until someone else on your team logs in first, so they get hit with that first angry call before you do. Eventually, you have no choice. You log in, and wait, anticipating, until that first caller comes through the line, waiting for you to miraculously fix their computer, to return them to a state of normalcy, to give them absolutely nothing except a return to the state their computer was when they purchased it. You are a nothing man. You are a Technical Support Professional.

Well, that’s how I felt about being a “Tech” at a Fortune 500 computer company for 3 years. And that’s why I left, no notice, no show, just left one day. I was done. That was it. Note that just…leaving, that’s something I’ve grown up enough to never do again. At the time, it was the only choice I felt there was. 7 years under the bridge since then…anyhow…

And it wasn’t even the customers. It was the company. It was the feeling, that constant feeling, that we were simply a liability. That it was somehow our fault that the computers broke so bad, and that it took so long to fix them sometimes. At one point, I had the Number ONE call stats on the floor. I was tops, over everyone else on the floor, all 400+ of them. But I was still less than Zero. I was one of the Nothings. In fact, I was less than nothing, because I dragged the company down. It was miserable, and my ulcer can attest to it.

And that’s one point to bring up. Even after the mental strain the Air Force put me through, my ulcer never flared up like it did at that computer company. Funny…and a little sad…

Now, the light. I’m into my 2nd week at a call center, still in training. I got to listen into the phones yesterday for the first time since I left that computer job in 1999. And it all started to come back to me. The anticipation of the next call, the need to push out more calls…but then I realized that there wasn’t that insane push. It wasn’t there. There was a need to actually help the customer to the point that They felt comfortable. To get them to the answer that makes Them feel most comfortable.

There’s still a push to wrap things up in an expedient manner, especially when there’s more clients in the queue, waiting to be helped. And the callers are different. True, you’re going to get that angry caller, the one who feels they’ve been shorted on the whole Customer Service experience. But it’s still…better. I don’t really have another word. This place just DEFINES better. It just…is. The atmosphere, the associates I’ve met, even the clientele on the phones. Now, I realize that I’m not always going to have sunshiney days working over here. But I will always remember how good it is here compared to how not-so-good it was back there.

See, we aren’t considered a liability. Everyone has a Customer Support team of some sort or another. The fact that it’s encouraged to grow and learn other aspects of other jobs under this roof is also a motivating factor.

I guess I’ve covered that. Wish me luck.

Jason Heath said…
Sounds like a much better situation than your old job at you-know-who (moo).

9:31 PM

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Hum drum

Man, hwat a day. I mean that, hhhh-wat a day. I had one of the long ones, the blue-shirted days that means I get to work both jobs, back to back. I was just looking forward to coming home, sitting back, and…what? Writing on here? I have nothing to say, and it makes me a little sad. Even more so that I was looking forward to getting done with work, and coming home…to this. Nothing to say. On a web log. An online journal of sorts, and I got nothing.

Well, I suppose I could comment on my flix list, off to the right. I’m compiling a list of movies that you should see every decade or so. The first on my list is one of my all-time favorite movies, Harold and Maude. It’s a story of a misguided young man who likes to fake suicides in order to ward off the annoying girls that his rich mother hand-picks for him, in order for them to eventually marry him. This guy, Harold, is a bit odd in this way. Also, he likes to attend funerals in his ultra-cool old hearse that his mother abhors.

At a couple of these funerals, he meets Maude, a 79-year-old free spirit who is also a car thief. She also “rescues” trees from city sidewalks and replants them in the country, in her stolen car. Her and Harold find they have a lot in common, and a strong friendship (and more) buds between the couple.

Yes, there’s that instant ick-factor. But this is a great, funny, messed-up little film. And unlike most of the movies I watch that are pre-1985, this movie’s pacing is quick enough to maintain my interest throughout nearly the whole thing. Which is rare, because I have an incredibly short attention span these days. I very highly recommend this movie. It is among the greatest off-beat flix in the history of cinema.

On the other hand, I finally watched “Freaks”. I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you want to watch all the circus freaks chasing down the girl at the end. That was pretty cool, true. But the build up is so ‘freaking’ slow.

So, rent (or Tivo) Harold & Maude, but skip Freaks. Thank you, and the balcony is closed.

Jason Heath said…
A movie you need to see immediately: Fitzcarroldo. Seriously, I know you’d love it. Courtney and I just watched it. A former Nazi solider (Klaus Kinski) drags a steamboat over a mountain in Peru.

1:11 AM

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Urinal Rules

Before I begin, I just want to note a fun little program out there called The Urinal Game. This further explains some problems I have with certain bathroom activities…

At work, the urinals are laid out as such:

To this day, I still don’t know what those little signs that sit over the little mini-walls say. It’s because of Urinal Ettiquette, which dictates that one looks STRAIGHT AHEAD AT ALL TIMES, that they DO NOT SPEAK, and they PEE, WASH HANDS, AND GET THE HECK OUT OF THERE before continuing a normal human-like existence.

I just thought I’d share. I obviously feel strongly about this. If they really wanted us to read the signs, they need to post them DIRECTLY ahead of our nose.

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Strange Things Are Afoot At The Circle-K

(The quote is from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, one of my growing list of movies that you should see every decade or so.)

As some of you know, I work at a national office supply chain for my part-time job. Well, my full time temp job recently ended (laid off, not expected to return), but I was immediately able to secure a position with a local financial company for a decent bump in pay. (I just want to say that it’s a very enjoyable company to be working for. Even though I’m still in training, if you ask me again in 6 months, I’m sure I’ll still have good things to say about working here.)

Yesterday (Thursday) I went to work at the financial company for 8 hours (which mainly consisted of “death by powerpoint”), I rushed over to my 2nd job at the office supply chain. And a series of strange events commenced…

Well, not that strange. No spiritual hammers were thrown for +6 damage, or visits from Chip Davis of Mannheim Steamroller (although he ‘does’ visit every month or two). No, it started with a couple angry customers, which it always seems to. I always get an angry or problem customer first. While fate uses them to “try” to determine my mood for the day, I’ve caught on and I realize that the problem ones are only temporary, and that they really don’t mean to be meanies. They’re just victims of fate deciding to cross my path.

Okay, so far so good. Pretty normal. Then we got the hopped up guy. There was a guy, and he looked like there were bugs crawling all over beneath his skin. He was NOT standing still. He was bouncing and dodging imaginary punches from some ghost that apparently only he could see…but he was nice enough to not mention this spiritual invasion in our talks. Between this and cheap-ass jacket, and a brand-brand (yes, I meant to say 2 brands there) new hat, there were just a few things wrong with this picture.

I saw him pass…and the first thing that comes to mind is, “Wow, does not belong here.” But who knows, maybe he wants to buy a scale for “mailings”, or some flashy thing to look at while he’s ingesting some chemicals of some sort or another. Who knows, but he was just jumping around. I found myself, immediately upon seeing him, wanting to imitate him…something I haven’t felt the need to do so strongly since watching “Trekkies” or “Napoleon Dynamite” the first time. (Now, since everyone imitates Napoleon…badly…it is on my “Do not perform under the threat of an uncool label, to last the duration of people’s short-term memories”) This guy, jumping around like that, the way he phrased his questions in a Yoda-esque dialogue, I just kept on thinking, “This guy would be fun to play”.

Anyhow, I should really wrap this up, since this story has only gotten to this point since the 1st of December. This guy is shopping around, and deals with one of our technology guys. Well, the “does not compute” designation flagged itself to the tech guy as well, but rules are rules, we need to try to sell the guy something. Hopefully he’s paying in cash.

But he’s not. He’s going to buy a reduced price laptop computer. And he’s got a stolen credit card! And joy of all joys, guess who gets to check him out? Yep, me. I see the name, “Shannon Lastname” (I don’t remember last name, and even so, I wouldn’t put it on here for all to see). Well, I “did” know a male Shannon in Junior High, so I figure I’ll try running the card, then check every piece of I.D. that this crazee might have on him. Unfortunately (or fortunately), the cardholder had gotten to it first, and had killed the card. Decline Decline Decline, 3 times Decline. Before I could ask for another type of payment, the guy says, “Thanks anyhow”, grabs the card out of my hand, and proceeds to walk quickly out the door.

Well, I reported it to my manager, and to our tech-guy who was dealing with the joker. We keep on the lookout for him, but proceed as normal for the rest of the night…until the cops came by looking for him. So no big deal, I talk to the cop, who already has a pretty accurate description of our resident felon. I explain the steps I took, which did not seem to make him very happy. I think, “Perhaps I should have pressed harder for an I.D. while the card was running”, or something to that effect. I generally wait until the customer is ready to sign before requesting any, but perhaps I need to revise my steps. Who knows, the training over this was fairly vague.

At any rate, the officer leaves, and that’s the last I hear from the hopped-up crazee.

Sarah tells me that this guy was uber-typical in her day-to-day operations over the river in a retail/pharmacy outlet, especially when working overnights. Classy folks in these here parts, I must say. But I’m sorry if the worst among the people here somehow represents the people as a whole. Really, they shouldn’t. The residents of Omaha & Council Bluffs are largely pretty good folks. It’s just the worst of them that make for a mildly interesting yarn.

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