Why Plinko hates you.

the life and times of one jaded motherfucker.

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Uncle Phil

:.News of the World.:
Washington Post
NY Times
Howard Kurtz
Leonard Pitts
The Onion

:.On Wisconsin.:
Milwaukee J-S
Wheeler Report
Gannett Wisconsin

Penny Arcade


:.Current Book.:
Woman In the Dark - Dashiell Hammett

:.Last 6 Books.:
The Catcher In the Rye - JD Salinger
Grendel - John Gardner
Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle
The Road - Cormac McCarthy
Theft - Peter Carey
Saturday - Ian McEwan

:. Bands .:
Dismemberment Plan
Jets to Brazil
Promise Ring

Mark Helprin
Kazuo Ishiguro
Wilkie Collins
William Faulkner
Philip K. Dick
Dashiell Hammett

The Lord of the Rings
J.R.R. Tolkien
Frank Herbert
Dan Simmons
The Dark Tower
Stephen King

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Tuesday, December 30
Year 27 is done and 28 is beginning. Just three more years until the golden birthday.

So I got myself some nice presents to mark the passage into the late-middle twenties (next year it's middle-late twenties, then late twenties and then, finally, 30). I took the afternoon off and brought home a pile of new computer parts. Unfortunately, I am going to wait until Mr. Jones has some time to help me, because I don't feel like risking any errors.

I used other birthday presents to purchase Super Monkey Ball and Super Mario Sunshine last night. Monkey Ball is so much fun I haven't even opened Mario yet. This afternoon I had lunch with my wonderful co-workers, tonight dinner with the family.

I might be tuckered out for the party tomorrow night, jeepers!

Monday, December 29
Whew, I'm nearly partied out and there is still plenty of celebrating to do over the next few days.

Today started off terribly, I hurt. Not from celebrating (though it may have contributed after a fashion), but from my continuing neck and shoulder stiffness that I've had lately.

Fortunately, it dwindled as the day went on. And the day turned out to be a pretty good one. First the Packers blow out the Bronco's JV team, then the Vikings blow their whole season by losing to the Cardinals, which really made my month , and that's with four weeks full of parties, friends, family and presents galore.
Actually, this has been an outstanding holiday season, lots of fun all around. The only downer has been the trouble sleeping due to my oldness. Christmas at the Robins Nest was a blast.

Now I've come home to work some more on the department manual so I can be sure to have it done tomorrow as promised to my director.

Friday, December 26
Well the rain falls down without my help I'm afraid
And my lawn gets wet though I've withheld my consent
When this gray world crumbles like a cake
I'll be hanging from the hope
that I'll never see that recipe again
As I walk I think about a new way to walk
As I think I'm using up the time left to think
And this train keeps rolling off the track
Trying to act like something else
Trying to go where it's been uninvited
It's not my birthday, it's not today
It's not my birthday so why do you lunge out at me?
When the word comes down, "Never more will be around"
Though I wish we were there
I was less than we could bear
And I'm not the only dust my mother raised
So I'm rattling the bars around this drink tank
Discreetly I should pour through the keyhole or evaporate completely
But there'd be no percentage and there'd be no proof
And the sound upon the roof is only water
And the rain falls down without my help I'm afraid
And my lawn gets wet though I've withheld my consent
When this gray world crumbles like a cake
I'll be hanging from the hope
that I'll never see that recipe again
As I walk I think about a new way to walk
As I think I'm using up the time left to think
And this train keeps rolling off the track
Trying to act like something else
Trying to go where it's been uninvited
It's not my birthday, it's not today
It's not my birthday so why do you lunge out at me?

Well, it won't be for a few days yet, though it's not all that long until we party as if it were.

Notes for today: New computer bits are shipped, scheduled to arrive Wednesday, now that's service.
I worked today, mostly on a little paperwork, is all. There were about twenty people in the entire office, half of whom I think left by 2. They didn't even have all the lights on, it's like they were crabby you didn't save a vacation day for today. Sigh.

That and I'm once again tired incredibly early on a Friday. I'm old beyond my years.

Thursday, December 25
Hello and Merry Christmas!

What a busy couple of days, too bad I have to go to work tomorrow, huh? Fortunately, I don't think anyone else will be around, so it's slack city once again.

My parents went overboard again, surprise surprise. I did not get the item I wanted most, though. Of course, I am not buying it with any Christmas/birthday money, either.
Instead, I have elected to buy new computer guts to replace my current machine, one that will be soon be three years old, since I bought it with Christmas money in January, 2001.
Wow, Jan. 2001 is already nearly3 years ago, eep!

So, I'm upgrading to about V-O's PC, an Intel P4 2.6c, associated motherboard, RAM, new Hard Drive and free shipping, all tax free and arriving sometime after the new year. This means I will have some older guts, if anyone wants to upgrade or knows someone that would like to.

In other highlights, I got some nice kitchen stuff (but no knives), an iron and ironing board, clothes and come miscellany. I used the new hand blender and little food chopper from the kitchen goods to make deviled eggs today, it was fun. My gifts went over very well, especially the clothes I bought from my own employers for my brother and dad.
UPB and Velveteen came over and let me win at Chrononauts and Kill Dr. Lucky, I think its because its almost my birthday.

It hardly feels like Christmas because I didn't see most of my friends. . . I guess that will have to wait for the weekend! The parties have hardly started!

Monday, December 22
I've got a case of the pre-holidays nothing-to-dos.

Things are slow at work, I guess I should have taken that last half-vacation day today.

Watched the entire LoTR yesterday, a 10.5 hour affair that will never be duplicated. At least, not with me in attendance. The long sitting and watching broke me, after RoTK, I had what I would describe as nearly a migraine (I don't get them so I wouldn't know), but I had a pounding, dizzying headache that was making me very nauseated. Every time I moved, it felt like someone was hitting me on the head and punching me in the stomach. Fortunately, I managed to fall asleep at some point and it was gone when I woke up.

RoTK was very good. It was far from perfect, having now watched all three movies in succession, there are plenty of things to complain about, even more if you hold the original texts as the goal of the film (even I, Tolkien-geek to the end, though, do not).
On the other hand, it's unbelievably better than any fantasy/sci-fi movie series, maybe better than any such epic ever (I find it hard to compare it to 2001 or Blade Runner, which are very different movies).

I have a theory on this.
In my time coaching kids, I realized that it is so much easier to be specifically critical of things, the better they are. That is, you only can really delve into something if it does the fundamentals well. If it does nothing well, then the movie just plain sucks, getting specific is pointless. But if it is generally good, the little things that don't quite work are magnified, they stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. In forensics, I could spend hours with the good pieces, taking them apart and finding little ways to get better, but the awful kids . . . well, where would you even start?
Take the new Star Wars movies, who has time to complain about character development or specifics of the story arc when the whole mess is so immeasurably terrible? Starting to list faults is just so much piling on.
That I could sit and point out little moments that aren't quite perfect is a testament to how perfect the LoTR films are.

So, in sum, no scouring of the Shire is a terrible blunder, along with some nonsensical acditions that complicate more than they solve. And you don't have to have read the books to know why; the complaints from critics (who generally love it, but like I say above, the unsatisfying moments are frustrating because it's so close to being perfect) are that the movie ends poorly, that Saruman just drops out inexplicably, that the movies which spend 10+ hours hitting you with the inevitable decay of the world and the way war beats everyone down, even the victors, washes it all away in the last few minutes for a nearly-Hollywood ending, never exploring the decline of the world even after defeating Evil. The Scouring of the Shire is one of the defining moments of the Lord of The Rings, without it it's almost just a typical Hollywood tale of good over evil.

I thought for a long time about what you could compare it to from a story perspective, but you can't, it's what makes the LoTR stand apart as a great work of literature, which it most-certainly is. The closest I could come is the Resurrection in the New testament, which is lofty company and probably a little too generous, but that's the best I could do.

Okay, enough expounding, there's football on tonight.

Saturday, December 20
Okay, now I've mostly finished my project, it's time to take a break and catch you up on recent events.

The big thing, of course, is that its almost Christmas. I am kinda done shopping, but I could always buy more. Things are tough like that, I certainly haven't bought something for everyone I know, but I bought stuff for everyone I felt the absolute need to. If I buy more, it's just filling.

Went to the Melting Pot last night, as others may have mentioned. I kinda want to write up a long review, but it's not so necessary since things were generally very good. It's expensive, that's the biggest problem, but they do back it up with pretty good service and the food was very good. I agree with Velveteen, if all you can find a place where UPB, Shaft, Mr. Jones,. Velveteen and I all leave full, happy and not complaining about anything, you've found a place worth recommending.
For the details, we Mr. Jones and Shaft got the Signature Selection, Velveteen and I shared the Big Night Out and UPB got one of the single entrees. That got us two pots of cheese, (fancy swiss fondue and cheddar with beer for the other) to dip bread, apples and vegetables; a salad each, a pot of chicken broth, herbs and wine and a pot of the caribbean boullion to dip the assorted tenderloin, shrimp, mushrooms, lobster (Velveteen and I got a huge lobster tail as part of ours) and some more vegetables and then add about eight or ten sauces to add to the cooked meat; and for dessert Velveteen and I got white and dark chocolate to put on cheesecake, marshmallows, bananas, strawberries and pineapple. All told, with four sodas and a glass of wine, we were set back $178 (total), plus tip.
The thing about the fondue is, the quality of the cooking is mostly up to you. The raw food looked great and tasted very good cooked almost every time out of the pot. Of couse, you control that (and if you leave the steak in too long, it gets tough). The sauces were really, really, really good, and they weren't shy about putting tons of garlic in the fondue, which makes me happy.
So, since they just go off of recipes from the chain and let you do most of the cooking, the place really turns on service, and the service was pretty good. Someone was always refilling drinks and we rarely waited between courses. Our waiter, who also made up the pots of fondue at the table, was a little messy, but he was nice and explained the process well.
So, all told, it's a fun experience, and the food was very good. I would only go for a special occasion because of the high expense, but you've got to have those places around, otherwise what would you do to treat yourself? I say there are four 'experience' restaurants in the area (at least ones that I have been to), Mongo's, Nakashima's, Prime Quarter and now the Melting Pot. This one is by far the best of the four, though considering price I would probably take Mongo's any day over Melting Pot.

I am in the middle of a project and I have more to say than this, but the rest will come later.

But I have been remiss in not mentioning that if you're bored on Christmas day in the afternoon, plans are made.

Thursday, December 18
Hmm . . . my post from yesterday isn't showing up. I hope that if/when this one shows, the other one will, too.

Wednesday, December 17
As predicted, I went Christmas shopping today. At first I thought I was not going to be successful, since I bought only a little bit of stuff at the mall. But, through the miracle of big box retailers, I was able to take care of almost everything on the list.

You know what I hate? Passwords. The idea of passwords is great, you know, protect your stuff from the people that shouldn't fuck around with it. But every single thing I do has to have a goddamn password, and they all have rules. Some let you change them, some make you do it regularly some dictate it follow a certain format. So its easy to forget one, or mess it up trying to remember which one goes with what.
I'm thinking of this because, after holding off for 14 days, I had to change all my work passwords again. I figure it's best to make each one last as long as possible so you don't have to think of so many. That and if you've spent two weeks being hounded to change your password, it's easier to remember that the reason you can't log in is that you forgot that you changed your passwords the previous day.

Tuesday, December 16
I'm taking a vacation day tomorrow to get my Christmas shopping done. I love shopping, but I am lousy at buying gifts for others. I wonder why this is sometimes, but after a minute or two I realize that I'm thinking about others and that's enough to get me to stop. So my present-picking troubles remain a mystery.

So, the there's all this stuff in the news about spam and the various attempts to curb it. After listening to talking heads argue about how there's nothing anyone can do about it, I say it's time the big companies that move Internet traffic on the backbone level worldwide all agree to charge some tiny, tiny fee for each unique recipent of a single e-mail message that they charge to the originating ISP. Something like, say, $0.002 (two-tenths of a cent) per message and unique recipient (so you don't pay the same for your message to a spam list of 25,000 people as you would a message to your mom) that goes out to the Internet at-large. I am certainly not smart enough to know how data traffic moves from server to server over the Internet, but I know that somehow the messages you send get where they're going, so I don't think it's all that crazy that someone could find a way to track all messages outgoing and run a counter and send a bill to whomever the traffic came from on the level of an ISP. In-network traffic would be exempt, obviously.

Then, ISPs would have a huge incentive to curb e-mail traffic, probably by either limiting the amount of e-mail sent: either by passing the fee directly on to subscribers, a tiny charge for most customers, or a tiered system like bandwidth where you can send so many messages a month for some specified sum, or just eating the fee and going after spammers on their own networks that cause the fees to go above agreed to limits.
It's certainly not enough to deter regular people from sending any e-mails, but probably enough to curb most spam, since it depends on sending tens of thousands of messages per one sale, suddenly it costing a few bucks to send those messages might seem riskier or, we hope, unprofitable.
Even a medium-sized company like ours might spend a few hundred dollars a month on the charges, but it's 1) still practically free compared to a phone call ( wonder how much the 1.5 hour teleconference today with a vendor in Istanbul, Turkey cost us?) if it reduces or eliminates spam, then they save the tens of thousands of dollars a year that they would have spent on spam prevention. The money should be used by backbonme providers to offset the cost of bandwidth, possibly cutting the price of connectivity enough for the e-mail charges to be a wash or better for all but the heaviest corporate users and spammers, especially once the glut of spam is removed from the world's servers.

The problem of spam is that the costs of sending it are almost 100% passed on to the recipient. The time and resources to move it come from the recipient's ISP, paid for with their connectivity fees, the effort to sort and read or trash it come from the recipient or their employer. The sender pays only for the connectivity to send it - it takes way less time and resources to send a message to 25,000 people than it takes for 25,000 people to receive 1 message each - and the effort to find and use various e-mail recipients. That's what's wrong with spam, it's paid for by someone other than the ones who benefit from it.

I bet I have other rants in me, but I have tired myself getting angry about spam and also by trying to get every treasure chart in Zelda: The Wind Waker, 39 down, nine more to go.

Monday, December 15
Okay, my curiosity has gotten the better of me: who is it that visits this site once or twice a week from here? Whoever it is, get a bookmark, man, you hit my site off a google search weekly, it's easier to bookmark, or remember the URL.
I can't think of anyone I know who works for a clinic in the Milwaukee area, so this is particularly curious.

The nice thing about your boss and cubmemate going to Asia for 10 days? When they get back, you get presents.

One of the people I work with in Singapore sent me two super cool Hello Kitty pairs from a promotional set sold only in Singapore, each pair is dressed in the traditional wedding clothes of some country, I got Malaysia and China; she gave France to Velveteen (so, I win!), which was pretty awesome.

Velveteen brought me candy and office supplies and a good luck charm, pretty swank, eh?

I also got some bath gel, a nice day planner and a statuette of two wrinkly puppies from various agents, all of which are pretty nice - especiually considering I don't dole out any business to anyone.

Of course, here's hoping that changes next season (which starts in about three weeks, yikes). I'm going to push to take a little part of someone's business and cost it myself, which we can all hope would put me one step closer to getting the job I want rather than the one I have to get by.

I mentioned that there were layoffs last week. Unless I missed it somehow, that means I've beaten a former employer of mine by five days and counting on getting the news out. Sometimes they're not so bright over there.

Otherwise, I can't think of much going on. Damn, winter showed up in a hurry, didn't it?

Sunday, December 14
Sorry again about the sparse posting, but every time I sat down to post, Blogger was broke again.
That's fixed now and here we are.


Right here.


The crazy busy is over at work with the return of my boss and Miss Velveteen. Now I can concentrate on some other big projects I'm supposed to be working on.

Went to The Reverend's XMas party last night, had a great time. I learned that Strawberry-Rhubarb wine is pretty good.

My Christmas shopping is about half done, nothing special to note so far.
Since I'm not currently upset about anything, I guess I'm out of things to say.

Wednesday, December 10
I was totally going to post the other day, but Blogger broke.

Work has been stressful, only partly because I am practically all by myself. They laid off more people again, I heard 25, but I never found out who everyone was. It makes for a day when there's more gossip than work, and I have a ton of things to do.

Here's a tip, don't order gifts online and then ship it to a third party, unbeknownst to them, to keep it secret from the intended recipient. Besides the obvious, that the people might think it's for them, there's the always hilarious stolen credit card option.
My parents got an unexpected UPS package, a DDR game for PS2 from GameStop. Now, not even I have a PS2 in my family, and there sure as hell is no way I'm playing DDR anytime, much less my parents. Since no one had said they were sending it, we feared someone had gotten a hold of their credit card information and bought stuff, only to have it inadvertently ship to the card holder's actual address. So, after some time on the phone with the credit card company and the vendor (it doesn't help that no one likes to answer the phone at Gamestop), they found out that it was not fraud, just that the child of a friend of my dad's had placed the order and shipped it to my mom and dad to keep it secret from his brother, neglecting to tall anyone else about it.

I'm sure I have other wit, but you don't come here for that, do you? You come here because I hate you, and that gives you some kind of sick thrill to hear it, doesn't it?

Sicko, I hate your kind.

Sunday, December 7
Woo, Packer victory, in person this time, even.

This has been a nice relaxing weekend following a stressful week. The daddy-pants are a heavy burden.
Well, daddy-pants is a strong word, more like the only-guy-in-the-office socks.
But socks are cool, too.

I was talking with Mother the other day, and its really amazing to me how easy it is to get a reputation as a good employee. If you show up every day, listen a bit and at least pretend like you have an interest in doing a good job, everyone thinks you're god's gift to employers.
Compound that with the fact that we live in the Midwestern United States, a land known for the work-ethic of its population and it makes me afraid for the rest of the nation.

There have been some really interesting series of articles in the Journal Sentinel lately, on health care initiatives in the state, the way retiree benefits might bankrupt some governments in Wisconsin, the future of the Great Lakes water basin, to name a few.
I hate the 'entertainment' news media as much as anyone, but its work like those that give me some hope.

Thursday, December 4
Happy birthday to my little brother today, not that he reads the site or anything.
Another day in the office, another Senators win. This time I went home after the game instead of right back to work. That means just one hour or so of overtime today. I think I must be getting caught up.

I remembered one of the things that eluded me early this morning. Is it just me or are the MSN home page headlines the absolute worst you've ever seen? They're incredibly misleading, frequently outright false. And not in a 'oops, linked to the wrong story' way. No, in a lying about the content of the article kind of way.
Unfortunately, MSN is the homepage at work, and when I get bored sometimes. . . well, you can guess the rest of the sordid story.

Nothing else to say, except to brag that I (probably) get to go to the Packer game Sunday!

Day two of Plinko runs the office went smoother, though I just got home from work fifteen minutes ago. Of course, I took a four-hour break to eat dinner and watch the Sens beat the Panthers in there.

I'd like to rant on and on about various news items and witty observances, but it's late and I want to get me some bed.

Tuesday, December 2
Day one of Plinko runs the office went alright. Nothing much exciting happened, actually.
The big boss was still in the office (she leaves tomorrow), so I got lots of chances for brownie points, as I had to do a million little things to help her get ready.

Otherwise, life is plain old unexciting. I swear there were things worth talking about, but none of them so important I can remember them right now.

Monday, December 1
Word on the street is that I am going to be one lonely boy at work for the next 10 days or so. The other two people in my little area are going to Asia, and I am stuck holding the fort back home.
I hope I think of appropriate hi-jinx.

Speaking of work, my site tracker is considered spyware by the powers that be at the office, which I find kind of odd. I mean, it makes sense in a certain way, but in most others, it's a little odd.

I started to play through Zelda for the GamePurse again this weekend. I am a little crabby about it because the Purse actually froze up on me after I finished the second dungeon. Now I need to play that part over again, which sucks.