Saturday, December 25, 2010

Packaging Wonders

What the hell's the point of making sodas this small? Guess I shoulda had a "fun-size" snickers with it?

Friday, December 24, 2010


This past week was the 9th anniversary of my ownership of Grimace (it's a 2002 BMW 330Ci that I picked up on December 21st, 2001. It's got less than 80,000mi on it.

Ok, so, the above is a picture from 2003, but, with the exception of some dings and scratches (and needing a bath), she looks the same.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great Gazongas!

Recently, someone was complaining that she had a hard time finding lingerie that fit because she's a large cup/small band size (34DD). So, I pinged my wife to find out how she finds stuff to fit. Donna's got a similar problem (worse, actually). Donna quickly rattled off the names of several online sites she's had success with finding stuff (, and

Being a guy, I had to go see what kinds of things these sites have. Each site has one of those "find your size" search tools. They had some fairly amazing search sizes. I was a tad astounded to see that they had some bras that came as 32Ks (they had some even smaller band sizes, but, fortunately, not as large of cups). I can't even imagine what a woman with 32Ks (esp. if natural) would look like. That's gotta be hard on the spine!

Tis the Season to Be Obligated

It's not quite accurate of me to say "I hate Christmas", but it is short and to the point. What would be more accurate to say is, "I hate how Christmas is practiced in the consumer-driven world.". And, really, "I hate Christmas," for many of the same reasons I hate other consumer-driven holidays: I hate the sense of obligation and expectation.


I hate that, as adults, so many of us still act like five year old children. Rather than having a holiday that's about families, friends and enjoying each others company, it's frequently dwarfed by the gift-giving.


Now, don't get me wrong: I like to give gifts and, sometimes, I even like to receive them. However, I don't like to be dictated to about when I should give or receive gifts. If I love someone or am friends with someone, I think I should feel free to gift them with things any time I like. At the same time, I don't feel that I should have to give them things just because of some arbitrary date on the damned calendar.


I particularly don't like having to play the "what do you want for Christmas" game - least of all as the person being asked. There's damned few things that I want at any time of year, let alone Christmas. In general, if I genuinely want something, I want it when I want it and get it when I want it. I don't like to have to wait to get something just so other people can check something off on their holiday list. I also don't like to have to come up with a BS list of things I don't actually want, just so other people can check something off on their holiday lists.


And, by "BS list", I mean a list of things constrained by such factors as price, ease of getting, or practicality. Petty as it may be, I don't generally consider most "practical" or "easy to get" things as being terribly "gifty". If it's something I simply need rather than want, I can run to the grocery store, pharmacy, hardware store, etc. and pick it up, myself. I don't really consider candy and similar things to be gifts - unless they're hard to get stuff or otherwise require a certain level of thought and consideration. Yeah, I'm a spoiled brat that way.


At the same time, I'm not generally a fan of giving gifts of that nature, either. If I give something, I'd much prefer it be something harder to get or otherwise requiring some level of genuine effort or thought. And, I'm a big fan - giving or receiving - of the "I saw this and it called your name" type of random gift-giving.


Oh well. "Bah humbug," I guess.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cats and New Dog

The cats aren't quite sure how to react to the new dog. Well, one's sure, but she's never liked dogs. Right now, one cat's being a touch clingy; the other - the one that doesn't like dogs - is being a tad hidey.

Clingy Cat
Typing with a cat on your chest and in your line of sight to your computer is ..."challenging".

Can haz new pup!

We were actually kind of surprised that finding a compatible pup to fill the hole left by Lana was turning into such a chore. Turns out that Puckett has social skills that tick off a lot of dogs. Worse, Puckett's not real good at backing down from other dogs expressing their displeasure. 

After interviewing a number of dogs, attending several adoption events, visiting several shelters and rescue organizations, we finally found another dog that seems to be as chill about Puckett as Lana was (interestingly enough, got her from the same rescue group we'd gotten Lana from). After a home visit/checkout, she also seemed to be cat-compatible with our little hellions. So, we pulled the trigger and made the arrangements to bring her home. First, was a trip out to Chantilly to sign adoption papers and then a trip to Arlington to get a pup. Then, it was back to our house by way of the local PetCo to pick up leads, collars and harnesses, toys and dog-pillows. 

Our puppy is now home. Her name is (currently) "Cira". She was born September 20th, 2008 (so, we know when to do birthday things for her - a real treat when you're used to adopting rescues).

Expressive Habits

One of the other reasons I prefer telecommuting: I feel much more comfortable audibly cursing at the systems I'm working with.

When I'm working with computers and they're being "difficult", I tend to become "expressive." I curse. I make rude gestures. I smack my terminal. I'm sure it's all very comical. perhaps it's a touch disturbing to some. Dunno. All I know is that, it's probably best, for all concerned, if I'm alone to when being "expressive" towards technology.


I still hate working with Windows.

Finally Figured It Out

I'd always wondered why MD-plated drivers immediately dive into the express lanes when merging onto highways. There've been too many occasions to count where, while speeding down the highway in one of the leftern lanes, I'll see a MD-plated driver enter the highway and immediately make a bee-line for the leftern lanes, even when going considerably slower than the people in those lanes. My usual reaction, aside from the cursing and having to take myself out of cruise control (and dump speed), has been to think, "what the fuck are you doing."

This morning, as I was getting on I95 to go to work, I finally figured it out. After 17 years of driving in the DC area, I finally had that "aha!" moment. As I (and an entire line of cars) was getting ready to merge onto I95 from the Telegraph Road interchange, the oncoming traffic in the lane I needed to get into vacated for one of the leftern lanes. That is, all but one car. This car was a MD-plated car that had been in one of the leftern lanes. This jackhole saw that a lane to his right was opening up, so, he tromped his accelerator (well, as much as someone in a Ford Focus can) and went for it.

It was then that I realized, "ah, they dive left to avoid the asshole that's going to run into them if they don't"

Not a Monday, But It Feels Like One

Ugh... Gotta love a day that starts with a laptop's video drivers deciding to crap out.

Each morning when I get up - particularly work mornings - I make a beeline for my computer to see what email has come in while I slept.

This morning was no exception. This morning, when I clicked over into Thunderbird, I noticed that I was getting "cannot connect to mail server" errors as I read each of the locally cached message copies.

As this oddity oozed its way through my sleep-fuzzed brain, I noticed, "hmm... the networking tooltray icon doesn't look right". So, I started troubleshooting. Eventually, it became evident that there was something wrong with the NIC driver, so, I rebooted in hopes of it sorting itself out.

Unfortunately, after the reboot, my computer was being very herky-jerky. Eventually, it started popping errors complaining about the NVIDIA display service crashing and being restarted. Fuck. So, I go Googling around (between lockups and display restarts) to see what might be going on. Eventually, it became apparent that a recent Windows automatic update had pissed off already flakey NVIDIA display software. I went to my laptop vendor's website and downloaded the driver (while contending with the freezes and restarts of the display). After about an hour of all this, I was able to get my computer working as it had been the night before.

Suboptimal way to start the day.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yo, "Homeboy"

Today, we drove out to Chantilly to attend a dog rescue organization's adoption event at the Greenbriar PetCo. We were visiting an event held by the same group that we'd adopted Lana from back in early 2003.

As I was driving down US-50, just after the exit from I-66, I noticed an odd sight. Is was one I had to point out to my wife, Donna. There's just something incongruous about a hipster doing the gangsta-lean while driving a Volvo. It's even more incongruous when the leaner is a suburban hipster wearing an "ironic" knit winter cap - a tyrolian-style one, no less.

Advertising WTFs

One of the joys of telecommuting is that you can have your TV on to act as background noise. The downside, is that, sometimes, that background noise intrudes on your conscious thoughts. This seems to be particularly so when something stupid is aired.

Today, the intrusion came from a commercial by the makers of Chia Pets. They were flogging chia-heads of the famous presidents (all the ones on Rushmore plus Obama). They were saying how big an honor such a display would be for those who were rendered in chia and how patriotic such a display would be. All I could think was, "yeah, I'm sure that George Washington did what he did so he could be 'honored' in chia;" and "oh well, at least this isn't an Obama vibrator" thing.

I want to know what kind of shit the marketing guys were smoking when they thought to write down that such abominations would be seen by anyone as honorific.


Gotta Repay the Sandman

I'm thinking last night's stayup for the blood-moon may mean an early bedtime, tonight. It was a nifty view, and all, and it was cool that it we were able to see an astronomical confluence not seen since Gallileo's time. But, there was the price of sleep to be paid. I borrowed, last night. I'm probably going to have to repay that debt, tonight.


If they did a word chart for things said while driving, my #1 would likely be "Seriously??" Well, it would be if you disqualified all the various words that wouldn't be allowed on broadcast TV and expressions that defy classification as language.

On the plus side, driving in the DC Metro area gives me plenty of things to write about and vent my spleen over.

A First

I've been "butt-dialed" many times. Today was the first time I got cat-dialed my own cat.

I use a Google Voice number as the primary number I hand out to people. I've got it configured to dial me at my desk, my cell and my house (dependent on time of day and day of week). I also have it configured to act as the voicemail system for my various "real" phone numbers.

Frequently, when I get home from work, I pull my cell phone out and set it on the couch next to me (only other place it goes is on the charger across the room). I find that it keeps it nice and handy should I need it.

Unfortunately, when he can't lay on me, Grumbles's favorite place to lay is right next to me. Tonight, "next to me" also happened to be where my phone was sitting. Apparently, while shifting around to become more comfortable while laying on the phone, he managed to unlock my phone, select my GV number and dial it. I suppose this is the downside of software-based keyboards on a cell phone.

He also happened to do this during the time window where my GV number only rings my cell phone (in use) and my work's desk phone (I'd left it 45 minutes previous) and not my home phoneline. And, because he was laying on the phone, it muffled any of the sounds of the transaction. My notice of this activity was when I received an email from GV indicating "could not transcribe this session." I looked at the message and saw that it came from my cell phone. I listened to the recording of the message, and it was (basically) silent.

My "WTF" thoughts were quickly followed up by the, "dammit, I know what," line of thought. I noticed where Grumbles was laying and remembered that I'd previously laid my phone there. I dislodged the cat and found my (now very warm) phone under him.

Oh well, at least he hadn't managed to make an overseas call.

Some People Need an Anal Application of a 40-Grit Clue-Stick

What is it about gasoline stations that make people lose their common sense or common courtesy? Well, I know what the real problem is, it's my premise: most people simply don't have any idea of common sense or common courtesy. Most people have the manners and consideration consistent with having been raised by wolves (though, wolves probably have better socialization).

Yesterday, the local Amerigo had a broken pump. This left the double-sided pump on the main island and the double-sided pump on the auxiliary island. Of course, the remaining pump on the main island was in use. Now, I was trying to gas up my wife's Saturn VUE. I generally avoid going to the auxiliary pump because it's not in a great place to try to squeeze a vehicle into. It's even worse with an SUV. Unfortunately, I didn't have many options. Complicating matters was the fact that some dumb bitch with a (surprise, surprise: Maryland-plated) Toyota Echo decided she needed to PARK her car in front of the back pump. This meant I had to maneuver around the gasoline station. Now, when I'd started for the back pump, the only vehicles were the two using the remaining working pumps on the main island, the bitch who parked at the near-side of the back pump, and me. However, right as I was getting my nose to the back pump, some fucker blasted into the station from the wrong way and jammed into the pump in front of me.

To say the least, I was a little pissed. Unfortunately, getting arrested for beating the pulp out of someone would likely cost my my job, my job sector and all of the other things that depend on jobs in that sector. So, I tamped back the rage and extricated myself from the back pump area. Fortunately, in the time it took to extricate myself, one of the main pump slots had come free. So, I backed into the slot, and set about pumping gas.

Now, understand, while I've quelled my rage enough to not go beat the snot out of the fucker in the red Caddy (guess what: it was Maryland plated, too), I glared at him the entire time I was at my pump. The weasely little fuck would occasionally glance over with a guilty look on his face, then quickly look away when he saw that I was still glaring in his direction. I was really hoping he'd say something or even just look at me funny so that I had the excuse to curse him out. For better or worse, he seemed most interested in hurriedly pumping his gas and getting the hell away from there - he squealed his wheels getting out of the station. I finish filling the tank of Donna's car, and begin to leave the station. I notice that the bitch that had parked in front of the one pump is strolling her fat ass back out to her car. As she's disarming her car alarm, I flip her the bird. The look on her face was priceless: it looked like she wanted to say something, but then decided not to. Maybe she realized what she'd done. Either that, or I was (still) looking like I was waiting for an excuse to murder someone.

Today, on the way back from getting the coolant-level checked in my car, I decided to stop in at a gas station near my mechanic's garage. I pull into the station and find myself behind a minivan. He's waiting for one of the pumps to come free. Some cooze in a big, white Chrysler station wagon pulls into the lot from the wrong direction. But, it looks like she's wanting to get into a parking spot, so, the minivan backs up to let her cross in front to get to the parking spot. Instead, this whore decides she's going to cut in line and take the pump slot that I was waiting for.

It turns out the minivan, while blocking the pump I could have used, was actually  waiting in line for the pump on the other side of the island. He'd blocked my slot so that there'd be room for the person in the slot he wanted to be able to pull past him. Ok, whatever. I get that.

What I don't get is the cooze in the Chrysler sees the line, but decides to cut in. Worse, she cut in to go to a pump that required her to back into the pump. Even more fun, as she's starting to back into the pump, the guy at the other end of her side of the island pulls out. So, she backs up to the newly vacated slot. But, since she's driving a full-sized station wagon and is backing in - but only just far enough to get her gas cap exactly next to the pump handle - she's now facing the wrong way, making TWO pump slots unavailable. Did I mention she was driving a Maryland-plated car? Did I mention that this was further into northern VA than the previously mentioned station by my house?

Fortunately, a pump at one of the other islands was just coming free up. In fact, both slots were opening up. So, I start to pull over to that island. Just as I'm getting to my slot, some dickhead in an extended-cab RAM 1500 pulls into the station from the "exit only" outlet to the street. So, he's facing the wrong direction and in a LONG vehicle and is about to pull the same "block two pumps" thing the idiot in the Chrysler had just done (though, at least it was a pull-forward rather than a backing maneuver). I start to lose my shit. His (presumably) wife notices my reaction and makes him reconsider his maneuver. He reverses as far as he can and still reach his tank from the pump at the far end of the side of the island we're at. But, again, he's driving a fucking extended-cab RAM 1500, so he's still well into my slot. So, even after pulling to within 3" of his bumper, I'm still having to stretch the hose to reach my tank (with the gas handle at 90° from the normal resting orientation).

Did I mention that RAM-guy is Maryland-plated, too? I'm catching a real trend, here. It seems like people with Maryland plates have a similar approach to gas stations that they do choosing lanes to drive or pass in on the highways (which is to say, choosing the wrong ones).

At any rate, I figure, "pump my gas, get my receipt and get out" (yeah, I'm one of those people that keeps a log of my fuel purchases and mileage). Unfortunately, even though I'm putting slightly less than half a tank in, I end up not being able to just pump-and-go. Turns out, this station is one of those ones where, if you want the damned receipt, you have to go into the mini-mart and ask for it to be printed out. Fortunately, by the time I get my receipt and get back to my car, the ass-bag in the RAM 1500 has finished up and is backing out so he can exit the right way from the station's exit. So, at least I'm able to pull out in the proper direction and exit through the marked exit.

As I'm driving home, some tool in a blue Chevy goes blazing by me. Admittedly, "blazing by" is a relative term. We were in a 35MPH, mixed-residential/retail zone. I was going 42MPH. Apparently, he needed to get somewhere at 60MPH-plus. As he's blasting by, a sheet of snow/ice separates from the roof of his car and comes flying back at me like the Phatom-zone thing from the Superman movies. Fortunately, it shatters on the ground a few feet in front of my car, rather than actually hitting my car, directly. But, still... What the fuck is it about people in the DC area and not cleaning the goddamned snow off their vehicles before heading out on the road. And, by the way, the last snow to fall in the area was a week prior. Did this toolbag somehow now have the time (over that week) to either clean off his car or at least park it some place where the sun would melt it off??

Oh, yeah: he was driving a Maryland-plated car, too.

Rare Events

Crystal-clear sky: can I stay up to see the big event (and will I be able to wake up, tomorrow, if I do)?

Immersive Experience

Went and saw Tron: Legacy, tonight? Paid the $17/person to have a date night with my wife (her idea!) and see it in "IMAX 3D". Now, bear in mind, this is the faux-IMAX that seems to be the norm for Northern Virginia "IMAX" presentations. So, it wasn't the type of IMAX experience you get at a museum's IMAX presentation. No, this is the smaller, IMAX-branded "IMAX experience". Granted 3D movies tend to look better in faux-IMAX than in regular digital 3D - mostly because the images are brighter. But, the screen size/design lacks the immersiveness of "real" IMAX. It seems the theatre near my house tries to restore some of the immersiveness by absolutely blasting the sound (so, you feel the movie as much as see it). Thus, tonight's Tron in IMAX 3D was very LOUD!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Situational Preferences

It strikes me that if you believe in ghosts you probably have a different idea of a perfect death than someone who believes in no afterlife. Now follow me on this...

To me, one of the best ways to die would be one where you have no awareness of having died. One presumes that in such a scenario, there's no pain or fear for the brain to feel in it's last seconds or minutes of life. There's no possibility of your last thought being, "oh, shit: I'm dying".

Now, if you buy the stories of those who profess to believe in ghosts, one of the ways that people end up as ghosts is if they die in such a way that they don't realized they've died. Their spirits stick around because they don't know any better. If ghosts are real and such is a way for ending up a ghost, it would seem that you'd want to know "oh, I'm dying" or "oh, I've died".

I Don't Miss the Reminders

Downside of online Xmas shopping: you don't have sufficient trauma to remember "oh, I already did my shopping"


Schnikies: Mom went and got herself a spiffy, new Android phone from Sprint. Hopefully, I don't get roped in on tech support. But, hopefully, she finds it money well spent.

Hmm... Can it be long before my mom starts to either FaceBook or Twitter? Can blogging be far behind?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dark Day, Indeed

Never thought I'd actually be happy to see that the Cowpats won. Fuck you, Shanahan.

That's Entertainment?

I know I've never seen any of the various "Airport" (or other movies featuring air-disasters) on any flights during all my years of flying. And, on commuter rail (metroliners, regionals or Acela-type), I've never noticed a video option available (though, on an Acela trip back from NYC, I watched Midnight Meat Train on my laptop). Do they ever show "Poseidon Adventure" or "Titanic" on cruise ships' in-room movies?