Thursday, April 30, 2009

State or Wolverine? Fact or Crap?

And to El Doctor I shall go!

I caved this morning and had some coffee. At this point, the conventional methods of healing aren't working anyway so I might as well enjoy a tasty cup o' joe.

Has anyone seen "State of Play?" I want to see it, but there is also "Wolverine" to contend with.

Going to a Kentucky Derby party this weekend. I shall be slurping a mint julep and betting on horses I have never heard of. I watched "Seabiscuit" yesterday to get in the spirit. Now I just wish I had a fedora to wear.

Andrea The Receptionist has a tear-off daily calendar on her desk that has become a company favorite. It's called "Fact or Crap" which pretty much explains it. Today's Fact-or-Crap tidbit:

John Lennon and Yoko Ono once staged a month-long "bed-in" to raise awareness for world peace. (see below for answer)

Answer: CRAP! The couple did stage two "bed-ins," one in Amsterdam and one in Montreal, but they lasted one week each.

A bed-in. How very radical. Raise your hand if you've ever staged a bed-in on the fly. Raise your hand if it raised awareness about anything but your own lazy delight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Still F'in Sick

Came home early again. This son of a bitch has been sinuses in a vise. I fear this is no common cold, but rather the insidious sinus infection by which I have so many times been afflicted. So my mucus isn't green. So what. I have flushed my system with fluids. I have rested like a bear in winter. I have had my damn chicken soup, and I am still feeling like I'm thirty feet underwater. If another night of Nyquil sleep doesn't bring me some relief, I am off to see the doctor. If the only way this thing will free me is if I eradicate it with antibiotics, then so be it. My conscience will be clear.

One thing that bemused me yesterday: my unconscious ability to type. I never had a class and I never tried to teach myself. Through years of e-mailing and IMing, my fingers have just learned where the keys are on the board. For example, if you asked me where the "Y" key was, I couldn't tell you beyond a shot in the dark. Yet as I start this sentence with that very key, I do so (and throughout the post) without once looking down to guide my fingers. They know even though I do not. I am sure a lot of us "learned" typing this way, but isn't that just weird? I wonder what else I know how to do that I don't know about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Home sick.

So the Swine Flu it's not. Just your average cold. Had some matzo ball soup for lunch. Watched "The Natural" with a long intermission for a nap. It would have been longer had my phone not woken me up. I should have learned by now to turn it off because I swear every single time I am sick and napping, somebody calls right smack dab in the heart of the thing. And I don't usually get calls during the day. Ah well. "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Monday, April 27, 2009

For the Record...

The whole daily post pledge thing obviously does not include weekends. I was going to post that on Saturday but I didn't want to send mixed signals. Not to mention that when you're walking around like Phil Jackson on his old hip, you pick your spots.

So that Avon Mock Walk training thing was no joke. I was surprised. When we ran that Nike 10K thing, that was 6+ miles and I cruised through that with plenty left in the tank so you would think 8 miles of non-running would be--you ready?--a walk in the park (yuk yuk yuk). So not so. My hips ached. My feet burned. Now that's all in the lower back and high ankle. And this was after less than 1/4 of what the actual Avon Walk course will be in September. Looks like some sort of training might be in order. Before you scoff or chalk it up to old age, go out and walk 8 miles for me. I didn't even mention the chaffing.

I am really due for some good dreams. For the past two or three weeks, I have had nothing but unsettling, if not downright sick and twisted dreams. Even the otherwise normal dreams have had some gross image spliced in as if by Tyler Derden himself. I remember waking up in the middle of the night after one particularly bad one ready to check myself into an asylum or chain myself to the radiator. Luckily, we don't have a radiator. This happens to everybody, right?

Hey, how 'bout those Lakers?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dangerous? Sure, all you can handle bro

Had our usual lunch at The Richmond today. The special? A burger with bacon, cheddar, and--get this--peanut butter. Peanut butter on a burger. They really did it. I wasn't brave enough to try it and I have been thinking about it ever since. What if that was my one chance and I blew it? This was a carpe diem type of burger, I fear. In fact, that is what they should have called it, The Carpe Diem. I really need to start living more dangerously.

I spent last Friday night at Costco, wandering like a lost soul in a forgotten world. I was there for about two hours, browsing and having intense internal debates about what to get for when, what was worth it and what wasn't. It was only the second time I had used the membership since I got the card last May and I hadn't decided whether to renew at that point so I was combing every aisle making sure I wasn't overlooking the Holy Grail of bulk food and home products. I tell you this only because it appears tonight I shall return to finish what I started last Friday. Oh God, I am having a seemingly meaningful, emotional conversation with myself about another Friday night spent at Costco. Is this like being married by common law? Should I just start wearing the ring now?

After that, I imagine I'll compensate by doing something a little more...crazy. Watch me as I walk all around the house...with my shoes on! Hear me burp with nary an "excuse me" to follow. Hell, I might even go for that extra slice of pizza, that one more glass of wine, chugging furiously towards 11 p.m. like a runaway locomotive driven by a band of outlaws.

And that's just tonight. What's on tap for tomorrow night? Ha!..........You don't wanna know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Watching the clock

Ah the challenge of Day 3.

I have been sitting her wondering what the hell to say and that hasn't gotten me anywhere so I'm just going to ramble.

Highlights of the day thus far include:

--Me slamming my finger in the paper drawer of the printer (still recovering)

--Me calling out my coworker Tommy as one of those people that always flakes. Two days ago when I asked him if he wanted to go to H&M with me tonight, he was all for it. This morning he had downgraded to a Maybe. By the time I finished lunch, a solid No. Classic flake.

--A heated argument about whether the rice from the local Mexican restaurant are, in fact, vegetarian or whether they must be cooked in chicken stock and Tommy's confidence in their veggibility is all a farce based on a miscommunication. This one has calmed down at the moment, but the instigator had to run out to UPS which just happens to be right next door to the restaurant in question. I am looking forward to this sparking up again by day's end.

Here's a little piece of trivia for you...Can you name the first compact disc pressed and released for sale in the U.S.? (see bottom for answer)

Ya know every day beyond Monday has felt like Friday to me. And now, finally, tomorrow brings the real thing. Should be a nice little weekend. Angels game, Avon training walk w/Joe The Pro, Meghan's improv show, take some engagement photos (better late than never, right?), and sushi at Katsu-ya! I am ready for it, lemme tell ya.

Alright, that's all I got.

Trivia answer: The aptly titled "Born in the U.S.A." by one Bruce Springsteen. BRUCE!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

That's An Interesting Bouquet, Or How I Learned I Have a Finely Tuned Palette

So I am sitting at the dining room table with Nicole last night, going over wedding ceremony specifics, when my bride-to-be rips her fourth fart of the night. To which I respond, "Oh God that smells like stale Pringles."

And the kicker? I was right. Hit the can right on the lid.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Zip a Dee Doo Dah

Could it possibly be a more glorious day outside? I think not. Sunny skies, 82 degrees, with a whisper of a westerly wind breezing at 9 mph. I should really consider faking an injury and heading for the beach. It's cold and stale in here under the pale flicker of these fluorescents. The other good news about my new desk configuration is that, as long as every one's office doors are open, I can see through to their windows. I can see about a 5' x 5' patch of blue sky. On a day like today, I think that might actually be a bad thing. Although, I suppose it's always helpful visual cue as to whether it's day or night.

So my blurb of the day is: I really love to sing.

Don't really mean much beyond that. I'm no pro or anything. You give me the right song on the right day and I can do okay. But that's not really the point. I'm not saying I love the sound of my singing; just saying I love the act of singing. Whether you sound like Susan Boyle or Peter Boyle, can anyone really deny that, if you're able to let go of any cares about what you sound like or what people think of you, the act of singing makes you feel good?

It's funny to me how there is a certain stigma attached to singing. A person can't exactly burst out in song without some weird looks, even from their friends. Whenever a person does spontaneously sing in a non-traditional setting for it, the instinct seems to be tell them to shut up, or at the very least to think it. Hell, my own fiance resists an honest serenade! I am guilty of this myself. Years ago, Kory, Adam, and I were coming back from a camping trip. They drove down in separate cars, meeting me there for the second half of my trip. When it came time to head back, I decided I would ride with Adam. That is, until he told me I should ride with Kory because he wanted to sing on the ride home. We, of course, never let him live it down. But I get it now. I might not tell a buddy to not ride in my car because I wanted to do it, but I get it.

Some of the best times I've had have been at parties over the years when somebody started playing piano or picked up a guitar. I can't play a lick, but I would often sing along if I knew the song. I remember one time back in college, my friend Dave played piano as he and I sang and within the span of a song, there were no fewer than 5 other people gathering around to watch or sing along. I love it when that happens, the spontaneous sing-a-long. You know all those scenes in Christmas movies where the family is gathered around the piano singing carols? I've never done that, but I am definitely into it, man.

I've been thinking that once I finish this next script, I am going to curb the writing and spend that time learning to play guitar. I'm not talking about a career change here. I have no illusions of playing shows or becoming a singer. I just think that it would be worth it to me to be able to provide my own music to sing along to without having to count on a karaoke machine or the next guy at the party to know something beyond "Crash Into Me." I still have my old ax (yeah I said it--wait, can an acoustic guitar be called an ax? Maybe not) from that class I took in college. All it needs are strings and a tune.

Anyway, that's what I have to say today. You may now proceed with the "Hey Johnny, sing us a song!" jokes. First one to quote Champ Kind's "He sounds like a gay" wins a free stick of gum. I'm ready for ya.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back in the Saddle

It has been a while. What can I say, I've been busy. Not only that, but with everything going on with Wayne, it didn't seem right to come on here and do my usual frivolous rambling as if everything was fine and dandy. However, I know we're all following Val's blog daily now and I would hope that I could operate under a running disclaimer that Wayne and the family are never out of my mind. Besides, it's not like my blog has a sterling reputation for seriousness anyway.

I am now prepared to make the pledge that so many a blogger before me has made. With the exception of my wedding week and honeymoon, I herby commit to put up a new post each day. I can't promise they'll all be worth a shit, but I can assure you that they will exist. Quantity over quality, my friends. I think we're off to a great start so far.

There is a big development that gives me the confidence to make the pledge to post daily. Ya see, we've done some rearranging of desks here at the ol' office. My monitor is no longer exposed to the office equivalent of the 405 freeway. After more than a year of living in a glass house, my computer-using ass is no longer hanging in the proverbial wind. I feel like a new man. I'm like Andy Dufresne standing with his arms raised to the sky as the rain of freedom washes the excrement of incarceration from his body.
Well, that might have to do it for today. It is another gorgeous 85 degree day and I am Whole Foods-bound for lunch. In the words of George Costanza, I'm back, baby!

Related topic: Name great songs that aren't really about anything at all.

"Wordplay" by Jason Mraz
"Hook" by Blues Traveler

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I Am a Gullible Fool

So I fell for an April Fool's Joke. The Google one. Idiot. In my defense, I had no idea that Google had a reputation for these pranks. I also sniffed it out just before I actually published my ranting, on-a-soapbox, holier-than-thou blog post, but I think Conrad is right, that I owe it to the world to post it and admit I am a dope. Here it is:

Original Blog Post Title: Personal Freedom Technology or The End of Personal Relationships and Possibly Civilization As We Know It?

Autopilot e-mail. You send me an email or a chat message. Gmail reads it and replies with its best guess of what I would say and how I would say it. It has sliders to adjust its accuracy in impersonating my capitalization habits, typo frequency, tone, brevity, and emoticon use. They say if you give it enough sample emails, it can actually get quite good at being you. Is that really a good thing? I'm not sure.

The Cons:

Has personal correspondence become such a burden that we need to rely on computers to live our lives for us? This is a seriously scary program. Where do we go from here? The Matrix, that's where. Terminator-land. To a Brave New World. What's worse than not returning some one's phone call or email? How about giving that person the middle finger of asking a computer to reply to them for you? Clearly, you can't be bothered. You're too busy doing...what? What the fuck is everyone in this society so busy doing that they need computers to maintain their friendships? Obviously, there's many answers to that, but how many of them are really valid in the grand scheme? In the end, what is more important than personal relationships? I picture the long line of humanity marching with its heads down, focused on their texting and facebooking as they blindly walk straight for the abattoir of a completely automated life. Google = Cyberdine. Gmail Autopilot = Skynet 1.0.

The Pros:

Unlike Facebook, this program doesn't suck the life out of actual physical human interaction, it frees the individual from the chains of online life. Instead of answering all their emails, citizens of Googledom can frolic in the fields of physical face-to-faced-ness. They can finally take that botany class at city college they have been wanting to take for years. They can go on rollerblading dates and meet for coffee at independently owned coffeehouses. They can form community service groups, painting over graffiti and planting new trees. Just think of all that could be accomplished if only we didn't have to answer all those emails and chats! !Viva La Revolucion de AutoPilot!

My Ruling:

To free oneself from the obligations of online interaction by means of creating a virtual version of yourself to do it in your name is not freedom at all. It is trading one master for another and a more sick and twisted one at that. Just in case you didn't actually follow the link above, I am going to post GMail Autopilot's Frequently Asked Questions because you need to see this.


How does Gmail mirror my communication style?

The more Gmail messages Autopilot can sample, the better. With fewer than 100 messages, there may not be enough data to calibrate Autopilot effectively. You can adjust tone, typo propensity, and preferred punctuation from the Autopilot tab under Settings.You may want to log in every week or so to ensure Autopilot is calibrated optimally.

Does Autopilot work for Gmail chat too?

Yes. Chat was actually simpler to build, given the natural language headway made by Joseph Weizenbaum's ELIZA. While many claim ELIZA oft times passed the Turing test, Gmail Autopilot passes with 99.9% accuracy due to the inclusion of human-like qualities such as compassion and wisdom and CADIE's related ability to calibrate to match your chat style.

What happens if a sender and recipient both have Autopilot on?

Two Gmail accounts can happily converse with each other for up to three messages each. Beyond that, our experiments have shown a significant decline in the quality ranking of Autopilot's responses and further messages may commit you to dinner parties or baby namings in which you have no interest.

Do I really need to explain how and why this is wrong? If human cloning scares the shit out of you, then this should too. Besides, are we really to believe that with this new found free time, people are going to actually use it to do something healthy and constructive? I doubt it. Freedom from emails and chatting is just freedom to spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, Second Life or whatever soul-sucking online networking program the kids are using now instead of playing street hockey or cruising the mall.

I can hear their snickering and the pitter patter of footsteps as my Facebook-loving pals run to sign up for Gmail Autopilot. I probably should expect to get emails and chats from only their autopilots for the foreseeable future.

Let this video be a warning to you, gentlemen. Should I discover I have been conversing with an autopilot, I will unleash hell like Chris Farley when told he's drinking Colombian decaffeinated crystals.