Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The tale of Death Pipe

In the history of stupid ideas, this one wasn't too bad off the bat.

"Hey, grab your camera and we'll head over to my office," Danny said. "There's an old smokestack there that has some scaffolding we can climb. The view will be really worth it."

OK, here it's important to replace the word "some scaffolding" with "most of the scaffolding in the city at this time" and "we can climb" with the addendum "for hours and hours on end."

He was right about the big ticket - it was totally worth it.

Here's the link to the Flickr page with a bunch of pictures - including Dan looking like he'd just filmed the redneck version of Indiana Jones and then kicked back with a case of Busch Light.

So the punchline to the story?

We climb all the way up 250 feet of staircase - some missing landings - and there's no light the final 50 feet - "That's how we know there's only 50 feet left!" chirped Danny, the optimist - and get to the top. We tried very hard to make sure not to fall to our deaths - which I was writing in my head because I used to have to deal with people like us dying like that all the time and it's a hard switch to turn off - and we were very successful little pandas in that regard.

We hit the final platform, can see freedom, sunshine, fresh air and the big finish and realize that the key Danny had been given was not the same one that fit the padlock keeping the top of the stack closed.

Son of a bitch.

I think anyone who goes through the effort to get all the way to the top shouldn't have to worry about a lock, but I could be wrong.

Maybe they had a Mary Poppins problem and needed to keep her out. I hear it's hard to get them to move along once they've nested.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I'm told the Stanley Cup finals begin soon. I'm also told that childbirth is really painful - I lack any personal knowledge of either with which to speak with any degree of certainty.

The Ottawa Senators will face the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in this year's final, which is both funny haha and funny strange.

In high school when hockey was actually a sport in Chicago - incidentally, check out Eddie Belfour's personal site, which is linked to from the league site - these teams were a joke.

Imagine a Lions/Jaguars Super Bowl and you'll understand the level of confusion I'm mired in today.

The Ottawa Senators were the class of 92-93, while the Ducks entered the league in the 93-94 season, so good for those franchises, but this goes a long way to explaining why even in Minnesota - the state of hockey - people are looking for something else to do.

I keep meaning to give hockey a chance, but without a respectable - notice I'm not even asking for "competitive" or "winning" - team in Chicago, I can't see that happening.

Call me a frontrunner if you want, but it's going to take one hell of a carrot to drag me back to a sport I loved so much and then did me so wrong. The retirement of Bill Wirtz wouldn't hurt, either.

(Image from ajhs.schools.sd76.ab.ca)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Two views on Iraq

As I've pointed out before, I tend to shy away from getting to charged up with national politics here because a.) I'm shamefully uninformed and b.) those predisposed to respond to blog posts on national politics usually aren't.

It's one thing to look ignorant in front of a small audience, it's quite another to go and invite that pain into your own house.

Still, when I see things trending one way or another - at least enough to make for an interesting post - I'll generally jump on board.

With that in mind, Al Gore is releasing his new book An Assault on Reason which is designed to take it to President Bush in the same week I stumbled across a Boston.com photo essay that breaks down what the country could have purchased with the money spent to fund the war in Iraq for one year.

It's kind of sickening, really.

Both are pretty quick reads - and the Boston.com piece is almost all pictures - and they'll give you something to kick around for the day.

Once again, if Gore had been half as personable as he's been since he lost the election, he wouldn't have had any problems winning in the first place.

This will get you through Monday

As if a photo of Verne Troyer flipping off the paparazzi wasn't enough to get you through another Monday at work that you'll never get back, here's a little game to help pass the time.

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that this is one of the best names in the history of awesome, much less video games.

Without further ado, here is Douche Monkey Astronaut.

Keep playing and watch out for the angels - they're mean little bastards...

(Note: Some of the banner ads are a little rough, so while the game is work-safe, you might want to make sure to crop your browser window once it's up. You know, depending on what kind of workplace you work in.)

(Photo from RadarOnline.com)

Madden is done screwing around

One of the stranger things in the Madden football series was how low- to mid-level teams could climb the ladder in the matter of a few seasons, see rookies blossom and have contender in Texas or Detroit.

No more.

The guys at EA Sports are tweaking the teams and we can only hope that if your team sucks (and continues to suck) that it will start to show up in the game as well.

(Can I also say I'm loving the idea that the game creates championship rings when you're playing your buddies online? And that you can rename them as well? Get ready for the Super Bad King Badass Championship Ring coming soon to a console near you.)

Not only will this give you a better game experience - instead of the round-robin effect you get from multiple seasons where every team gets a shot - but it will make things more challenging for gamers who refuse to put the game down.

After you've run through a season or two with your favorite team, I know plenty of guys who will pick up with one of the bottom feeding teams for a better challenge.

My only request is that if this becomes a feature where teams will be perpetually awful, can we call it "The Millen Factor?"


(Image from Gamespot.com)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Putting up, so I don't have to shut up

So, after writing about all the things we should be doing to help keep the earth all shiny and springtime fresh, I got the bug to finally follow through on a compost pile in the backyard.

I did literally dozens of minutes of research, found out I could go nab a few dock palates from work, lash them together and dump a bunch of crap in the middle of them and not have to bag up grass clippings.

I was sold.

For good measure, I made an unholy racket of pulling slats off to give the bottoms more of a post setup - and to piss off the neighbors - and dug a shallow hole to make sure the posts will stay put.

All told, I did the project for a few cents in gas, twine and opportunity cost of not curing some major disease - I bet that would help the earth's citizens, too.

My only experience with compost piles are my grandfather throwing all sorts of shit in there to eventually break down and a science class in junior high where we measured the temperature in the middle of the pile and theoretically learned something. I know I sure did!

So, I'll keep you posted here as to whether this is the first step to a cleaner, greener me or if I simply create a small, localized Union Stockyard type stench that precipitates many more letters from the city as the neighbors complain and are made sick by our little pile of rotting shit.

See? Win-win.

(Image from gnb.ca)

Green is the new black

This blog is a major clearing house for "better late than never" lately and I have to say I'm OK with it.

Aside from missing breaking news, it gives me time to ponder, to see where a story arc goes and to carefully weigh public opinion so that I won't look foolish in a week. I might be wrong, but it'll be the popular kind of wrong.

One of the biggest pros to the wait and see style of current events writing is that some of this stuff isn't buried under a pile of other content that is shoved out into the Internet to mark special occasions - just wait for my Christmas spectacular on June 5th! - but rather, it gives me a little time to work on things or even try them out myself.

In this particular case, I'm talking Earth Day.

Ebjournal Revisited reminded me when I was going through his blog last night that I still hadn't gone anywhere near this topic, despite reading a whole special issue of Vanity Fair about it and saw An Inconvenient Truth all in the same 40-day span.

Carbon footprints, America's disproportionate usage of natural resources, the long-term impact of how we live today and what can be done to slow the bleeding - if you can find a hard copy of the issue, the must read is an essay titled An Ecosystem of One's Own.

Here's the kicker - Americans will continue to be the biggest culprits in pollution and over-using their share of resources as long as the alternatives are more expensive, more difficult to purchase and use and less available than their mass-produced brothers.

A friend of mine once claimed that he was a Democrat for the most Republican of reasons - it was better for him financially. I get that same feeling from America as a whole with the green movement. If I don't need to spend any more money off the bat, but I'll see a return to my wallet, then I'm on board. If it will cost me more and I'll need to wait a few years to see a return on my investment, I'll just take the cheaper, world-killing options.

Like most good things in life, the change has to be organic for consumers to go the extra mile. While immediate savings will get you a few steps down the path, it will take a strong connection to ecology and a commitment to living green to make larger changes. For the record, I'm no where near ready for those steps.

Most Americans - or I assume most of us - like our meat, like our cars and we're willing to budge on power because - for the wrong reasons - it can save money. I'll be interested to see how quickly ad campaigns seize on this and start shying away from the "Do your part" angle.

While people will pay a few extra cents on the dollar for recycled materials or low-impact light bulbs, most of us hit our threshold pretty quickly. If we have to give up a larger chunk of cash or sacrifice performance, that's where the line is drawn.

We want alternative fuels because gas is $3 per gallon. We want new light bulbs to save on our monthly bills. We're willing to save on electrical costs by unplugging unused appliances... as long as we don't have to reset our clocks every night.

Until we have that mental shift to make it worth our while to pay more or expect less, I can't see any real changes being made, but that's the American way, right?

So this is the part, where as a responsible citizen of the world, I'm supposed to implore you to drive less, walk more, build a compost pile and set up rain catch barrels to use in your new organic garden, but I won't.

I leave my TV plugged in and like that my TiVo is chugging along all day so I can watch the E! True Hollywood Story on Screech when I get home in my pickup and want to eat a steak from a cow that destroyed part of the rain forest and farted an extra three tons of methane into the air.

I'd apologize if I felt particularly bad about it, but I don't. And I don't think you should have to be shamed into it, either.

So, do what you're comfortable with - I'm sure that the dirty hippies of the world will lead the way and impassioned celebrities will scold you from in front of a humble mud hut about your carbon footprint when they just chartered two jets and a helicopter to airlift their personal chef, stylist, wardrobe and entourage into the middle of a jungle.

Start with a light or two and get your car tuned up. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Take public transportation if it suits you. Then? Go an extra step.

Buy another light bulb. Keep things cooler in the winter and open the windows in the summer, even for a few days. Then, eat your steak with a great sense of self-satisfaction - After all, Rome wasn't built in a day.

(Photo from NerdShit.com)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

So, who do I call for you being a jerk?

I'm going to make an excellent old guy.

"Stay off my lawn!"

"Whaddaya mean there's no early bird special?"

"I need my diaper changed!"

To get in the swing of things, I have several small battles simmering at all times. Short, quiet, battles with parties who are largely unaware that we're even warring, it gives me things to do when I'm not at work or sleeping.

If you think this would make things more difficult or any less venemous on my part, you'd be mistaken. Just ask those bastards from the department of streets and sanitation.

Their constant ticketing of my trash cans for infractions from too much garbage to bags being too heavy - no joke on either of those -
has earned them my wrath on trash day. I hope they enjoy unwrapped dog crap in the cans and hope there's a check box for it on their fake tickets.


Unfortunately, when wee get anonymous write-ups for a barking dog, I'm limited as to where I can direct my anger. First infractions mean that you can just call and complain without giving a name.

Our first official write-up was Thanksgiving Day at 3 p.m., while the most recent occurred at 4:45 p.m. this Wednesday.

Now, considering we're owners of one dog out of seven or eight on the block, this really pisses me off. Where do I call for crying babies, kids howling up and down the sidewalks, neighbors demolishing garages and pounding in new fenceposts (7:30 a.m.) or lawn care before 8 a.m. on the weekends?

Given that all of these activites have occurred within earshot of a barking dog, I know the culprits are guilty of at least one of these noise violations.

Is there some department of hypocritical, noisy jerkoffs?

Would that be listed in the D's or the J's? I'm just curious.

(Image from BloggingPet.com)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Where's all the stupid?

Where'd the blog go?

Where'd the blog go?

It's all in my head these days. Unfortunately, as I type this my laptop sounds a lot like a lawnmower and shuts down in five minute cycles, so until Dell can ship out a new one, things will be a little sparse around here.

I'll plan on totally ripping off The Girl's work laptop, but that means I give up the TV, so you can see the entertainment pickle I'm in here, huh campers?

(Photo from Makezine.com)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I had to check twice

I have a bad feeling about drafting a guy named "David Clowney."

Yes, the word, "clown" is right there. This will either be the best or the worst opportunity in the history of moron fans and really, do Packer fans need any more opportunities to embarrass themselves on national television?

Still, there's something appealing about a man dressed like Ronald McDonald, half in the bag and inappropriately groping someone seated next to him while screaming to the ESPN cameras and spilling beer all over himself being seen as the face of the fan base.

Because while the Black Hole in Oakland may be dangerous, there's not a person on earth willing to tangle with a sweaty, drunk clown.

Don't ask me how I know this.

Crazy hurts, but creepy scars you for life.

(Image from Muhwaukee.com and they named the image "beerclown" not me.)

OK, I can see that

I stumbled across a links list of the world's most effective alarm clocks today and think we might have a winner.

Keep in mind this comes from someone who broke three of them in the 1999-2000 school year out of anger, frustration and hangover-fueled rage, but simply having a loud alarm clock isn't enough sometimes.

I've tried all the tricks - set the clock early or late, place it across the room, hide it, etc - but when you're truly lazy and a sack of crap, not much of it matters.

This little bastard might. God, ThinkGeek is an amazing site.

I'm still trying to figure out which charity I'd be donating to - does Rosie O'Donnell have one? How about Rachel Ray? Can I just give my money back to work? - but I think you'd only do this a few times the first week before you were going to bed before 7 p.m. and shotgunning Red Bull in the middle of the night.

Late addition: Also, if you were really, really lazy, would you break election laws at a certain point? It'd suck to get investigated for your own sloth.

(Image from ThinkGeek.com)