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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wherefore Art Thou, Gopher?

Last December my family went on a cruise to celebrate my parents' 40th anniversary. I know, that's not the best way to start out an Everyday Hogwash rant--I went on a cruise, pity me--but you expect things to be wonderful on a cruise (shuffleboard on the Lido Deck with Gopher and Isaac, for instance), so the disappointments come hard. And when 95% of the cruise is wonderful (and considering you've brought your aging parents along, that's saying a lot), the disappointments come doubly hard.

The first days of the trip were great. Perfect weather in southern California (which the cruise people had nothing to do with, but still--), great food, Branko the European waiter who said "Pleazhure" in response to "Thank you," fuzzy towels folded into animal shapes along with the turn-down service. In fact, everything up to the final evening couldn't have been better.

Cruising from Baja to Los Angeles overnight is quite a trek. On the one hand we were really bookin'. On the other, seas were rough and stomachs were churning as fast as the screws propelling us homeward. I'm not complaining about the speedy travel, but a Dramamine amongst the chocolate squares on the pillow would've been a nice touch.

Back in L.A. is where the trouble really began. Departures started somewhere around eight o'clock or so. I don't know for sure because our debarking voucher said 10:30. Of course, when there's nothing to do on the ship, it suddenly becomes as exciting as a proctologist's waiting room. Only with fewer magazines (which you really don't want to touch anyway, so never mind). Gift shops were closed. Restaurants closed. Casino, bars, Lido Deck shuffleboard? You got it: less than open. You couldn't even stay in your room and watch the tube because housekeeping was making it up for the guests arriving that afternoon. When the water in the bathrooms got turned off at eleven o'clock, people started getting as hot as the Pollo Mazatlan on Mexican night.

It didn't have to be that way Big Cruise Ship Company. Offer another class on line dancing, another round of TV-theme song trivia. You've got a huge theater on your boat: show a movie. Or some fifteen-minute short films, cartoons, southern California travelogues (heck, I bet the Leno people could whip up some "Best of" stuff and pay you to show it) -- anything so people are entertained, yet not so much they don't get off the ship when it's their turn.

But that's not the way you played it. No, you took your 15% gratuities the night before and stowed Gopher and your customer service in the ship's hold. When 11:30 rolled around, you blamed the delay on Customs (as if the new Homeland Security rules had just been handed down and you had no chance to run off revised departure schedules on the Xerox machine in your Business Center). Once I'm on the pier at San Pedro, I become Customs' problem. Until then I'm your customer. Please treat me that way.

(I know ... cry, cry, cry.)

Mikesell : 12:25 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, February 27, 2006

Open Challenge

If you happen to play Puzzle Pirates and notice Rhinobeard swaggering about and buckling his swash, say "Ahoy, Sailor!" Then prepare to fight.

I've just started figuring my way around there, but what I've seen so far is pretty fun. A lot of puzzle games, plus I've decorated my pirate shack with a raggedy bedroll and a partially-unbroken crate table. If I see Christopherlowellbeard, I'll have to ask him for some interior decorating tips ... just before I lop off his head with me cutlass.

Check it out. Arrrrrhhhh.

Mikesell : 8:37 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Joys of Being a Switcher

Among the more annoying things you'll hear a Mac user say is that their computer "just works." That's why we say it. To annoy you. That it's true is of secondary concern.

Every once in a (great) while something won't work. Like today. I installed a software app that was supposed to make my mouse acceleration work better. Now I've been pleased with the way my mouse (just) works, but I thought maybe I'm missing something. I've been pleased with some of the third-party apps I've downloaded recently, QuickSilver and ClearDock among them, so I gave USB-Overdrive-X a try. Could've been good, but it didn't support launching Exposé's "All Windows" feature. Had to go.

So I deleted the program, SOP for the Mac. My third mouse button (the scroll wheel) didn't work. I emptied the trash. Still no luck. A hard boot followed a soft boot. No and no.

Now here's where being a switcher paid off. I figured that some USB-Overdrive setting somewhere was still linked to the (now non-existent) application, just like happens on a PC from time to time. So I started hunting through cache directories and libraries and System Preferences (about a dozen times), trying to track down the problem. Finally, I tried the Utilities folder under Applications. Ta-da! Uninstall USB-Overdrive. Sound familiar PC users?

Ran the uninstall program (the only one in the Utilities folder BTW), rebooted as per the instructions, and my scrollwheel button is back in business. If I didn't have twenty-plus years' experience on Windows I might not have survived the ordeal.

My PowerBook "just works" again. Whew! It would've killed me if I had to stop saying that.

Mikesell : 6:42 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Thanks For Nothing

Okay, it turns out the Jr. Church folder was yellow, not red.

Not that any of you reminded me of that. Or pointed out that it was sitting under my writing desk. Big help you people are.

You've still got a chance to redeem yourselves by telling me where the fluoride tablets went. Thanks a heap.

Mikesell : 11:54 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Little Help Here?

If anyone knows where I put the red file folder with tomorrow's Jr. Church lesson in it, please tell me asap. Odds are it's in the same place as the fluoride tabs we picked up on Wednesday, in case that helps jog anyone's memory (it doesn't mine, but maybe it will for you).

Thanks a heap.

Mikesell : 12:44 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, February 24, 2006

Let the World Know

Philip would like everyone to know that he made six baskets with a red bouncy ball (I'm guessing of the 4-square variety) at recess today. These are the first baskets he's ever made (after telling me quite often that he didn't play basketball because he couldn't make baskets; someday his I-think-I-can engine will kick in).

While telling me about it he said, "I was so excited when I made my first basket!"

I wish I had a picture to show you his face when he told me that. (I also wish I had some pictures of recess.)

But now at least you know that he did it. Let's hear it for The Mailman The Mailboy Phil! (We'll work on the nicknames later.) Yaaay!!!

Mikesell : 7:51 PM : 0 snarky remarks

He Works Hard For the Money

So hard for it, honey.

Jason Dennis, a Corvallis, Ore., Fire Dept. captain and close, personal friend, is participating in this year's Columbia Tower Stair Climb in Seattle to raise money for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Sixty-nine floors in full firefighting gear; I get winded stepping up on the porch. Check out this video of his (and other CFDers') stair-climbing trainage and a couple interviews with Jason. Okay, not the world's greatest public speechificationist, but he sure is hunky.

I know they can use additional sponsors, so if you've got the inclination don't be shy. And if supporting a fire dept. in Oregon isn't your deal, check with your local fire district and see if they're participating in the event. Leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma aren't your run-of-the-mill party diseases: you can't dose up on Nyquil, get a buzz on, and get well. If you can help wipe 'em out, please do.

CFD captain Jason Dennis says, "Thanks!" and "Don't play with matches."

Mikesell : 11:10 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What's Up with Phil's Teeth?

Absolutely nothing according to yesterday's dentist visit.

That's not entirely true: his lower molars are coming in (right on schedule) and his lower front tooth on the right side is loose (also, right on schedule). But no cavities, no gingivitis, no vampire fangs, no tooth growing out of control that he needs to gnaw on a log to stop it from piercing his skull.

Next time in (late August) he'll get his first set of x-rays and some kind of sealant to protect the molars if they've grown in by that point.

Mikesell : 1:41 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Final Installment: 101 Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever

Here we are at the end of an era, an epoch, a blog series that has probably gone on much too long. Whatever, we're at the end of it. And thanks to all the folks who're regular No Rules, Just Right readers that have stopped by.

With Brenda on hiatus until she gets her computer problems resolved (hint: get a Mac), you can still get your daily fix of original BC content (except Sunday, some Saturdays, and whenever she posts those "blogging excuses") from today's list. The first half-dozen words of #98 come from Brenda, replacing an entry that even I felt was a low-blow.

101 Household Uses (plus a bonus!) for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever
  1. Buy as gift for staunch Democrat mother, inherit millions when you tell her you bought her the new Coulter book and she has heart attack thinking you meant Ann.
  2. Use as trivet for messy spoon after stirring bubblin' pot of Bolognese.
  3. When child is going through coloring-in-books phase keep it lying around as bait.
  4. Underline passages at random so you can appear to be a "serious reader" (and set example of double standard for kid in #88).
  5. Place flat in back of cupboard so you can create split-level Campbell's soup arrangement.
  6. Lie flat on top of end-table lamp to create pinkish mood lighting.
  7. Romantic drink coaster-for-two.
  8. Great practical joke: tell gullible friend that he'll see a secret message if he reads the UPC code by holding the bottom edge of the book at eye-level, then slam book into the bridge of his nose, shattering his septum.
  9. Use as drip catcher when spooning out Pepto-Bismol.
  10. Use two as shoulderpads for Mommy Dearest Halloween costume.
  11. <number 96 has been excized due to graphic sexual content>
  12. Drill hole all the way through book so you can hold book open and spy on people while pretending to read.
  13. Use pages to blot freshly-applied lipstick as you lounge the day away wearing caftans and noshing on bon-bons.
  14. Mix flour and water, soak pages in mixture and wrap around inflated balloon for papier mache craft.
  15. Birdcage liner.
  16. Read book, gain enlightenment, give up writing dream because the Platonic ideal has been found.
and the one that started it all
  1. Use book to prop up the short leg of your dining room table.
I hope you've had fun going over this list. If you've had half as much fun reading it as I had writing it ... then I've had twice as much fun as you.

Did I miss something? If you've discovered other uses for a finely constructed paperback book like Brenda Coulter's forthcoming novel, A Family Forever, let me know with a snarky remark.

Mikesell : 1:08 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever V: The Continuationing

Well, people, we're coming down the home stretch here. If you haven't found uses for a dozen copies of Brenda Coulter's forthcoming novel, A Family Forever, you're not even trying. Get with the program as you consider:

The Penultimate 17 Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever
  1. Place on bookshelf so you can make snooty comment about having bought it before it became popular Oprah book choice or Lifetime Channel movie-of-the-week.
  2. Use as dustpan if you're not sweeping up all that much dust.
  3. Keep tented on nightstand so you can appear to have been up reading when teenager comes home at 3 a.m.
  4. Use as wheel chock for lightweight convertible when changing the oil.
  5. Keep on hand in case book-burning comes back in vogue and the cute girl/guy you want to chat up is going.
  6. Place in Halo-2 box as gag gift for your son's birthday party.
  7. Hold tightly for fifteen minutes to boost estrogen levels while undergoing hormone replacement therapy.
  8. Place on top of shaving kit when you visit parents for the holidays so they'll assume you're gay and stop setting you up with ill-considered daughters of friends from the office, church or bridge club.
  9. When arranging books by spine color, use to fill out the beginning of the spectrum.
  10. Train dog to balance book on nose, get on Letterman, go on to superstardom.
  11. Place several copies in toilet tank to conserve water/reduce water flow.
  12. Use as ping-pong racquet after demolishing actual racquet in amazing forehand smash maneuver.
  13. Trick-out with LEDs to enhance your uber-modder lifestyle.
  14. Buy clock kit at craft store, assemble clock using cover as the face, sell at flea market.
  15. Use signature inside autographed copy to forge checks and send crank letters to the editor.
  16. Stick used chewing gum between pages to break habit of sticking gum under tables.
  17. Copy passages wholesale to bump up the wordcount in your own manuscript.

Mikesell : 4:02 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Dream Realized: The BtVS Musical on My iPod

Thanks to a comment-based link over at digg.com, I now have Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, "Once More With Feeling," on my 5G iPod. (I have an audio-only file with an annoying background hiss, so this is better.)

DVD2Pod is a utility that rips video/audio off a DVD and space-shifts it to an iPod-ready .mp4 format. And it's a good way in general to get movies space-shifted onto my PowerBook's hard drive for trips where running the DVD player would drain the battery quickly.

I wish it would preserve the chapter marks (or I knew a way to add them in iTunes), but it's only at version 0.2 so I expect there's hope for future releases.

Mikesell : 7:19 PM : 0 snarky remarks

"I Didn't Know You Could Do That! with Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever."

For the record, Brenda's favorite auxillary use for her novel is in today's list.

And I'd like to add to something that Brenda Coulter (author of the forthcoming novel, A Family Forever) posted on her blog today:
I will caution you that some of Chris' suggestions may not be completely safe. As I sent him only the one free book, there's no way he could have conducted any exhaustive testing. Just so you know.
None of these household uses have been approved by Underwriters Laboratory, Better Homes & Gardens, or the Stuntperson Association of America (formerly Kickbutt Stunt Dudes and that Chick Who Does Stuff for Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton). Injury or irreprable harm done to yourself or the book is not my problem. If you attempt to cross the Rockies in a homemade zeppelin and throwing Brenda Coulter's forthcoming novel, A Family Forever, overboard fails to lighten the load sufficiently and you have to spend a delightful weekend in Vail, don't send me your receipts expecting reimbursement. If you cut the cover into quarters to make impromptu business cards and then misspell your name or street address, don't send me a bill because you now have to buy a second book to try again; you should have written more carefully the first time and have only yourself to blame.

Yet 17 More Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever
  1. Trendy accelerator pedal if old hang-ten foot breaks.
  2. Remove cover, place it on really trashy legal thriller and fool your family, friends, and pastor.
  3. Toss into upturned hat as warm-up for playing card flicking.
  4. Hurl at child to get his attention when he's sitting so close to the TV that he's blocking the infra-red sensor (or the batteries in the remote are still dead) and he can't hear you tell him he needs to move back.
  5. Fodder for blog list of 101 things you can do with a friend's novel.
  6. Buy on amazon.ca, but tell friends the author comped it, even shipping it across the border at her cost because you're such an important fan.
  7. Cut pages into dollar bill-sized rectangles, wrap a fifty around it and secure with a rubber band for instant Michigan bankroll (my dad's from Flint so I can make this crack).
  8. Wrap small trout in pages at fishstand you run out of your garage.
  9. Cut pages into squares for practice origami papers.
  10. Use pages as funnels for disappearing milk illusion.
  11. Crime deterrent.
  12. Cover with baking soda, place in fridge to keep scent fresh.
  13. Scan pages with OCR software then transfer to e-book reader so it appears to casual viewer that you actually use the worthless gadget.
  14. Use as buffer to keep sharp-edged bookends from damaging collection of Tom Clancy first editions.
  15. Sharpen art skills by drawing the chest-burster from Alien emerging from belly of pregnant woman on the cover.
  16. Impromptu pot grabber for removing hot skillet from the stove top.
  17. Use as conversation starter about having bought it thinking it was a different book but were too embarrassed to return it to the bookstore.

Mikesell : 12:34 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another 17 (out of 101) Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever

We're halfway through the list now, and I hope you might have found a reason by now to preorder a copy (or two) of Brenda Coulter's forthcoming novel, A Family Forever. (Yes, I'm trying to game Google's search ranking by placing keywords early and often in my posts; thanks for noticing.) If you haven't already, you probably will today: #41 is especially useful.

101 Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever, continued--again
  1. Hole plugger for drafty doors and windows.
  2. Fling at TV set power button when batteries in remote are dead.
  3. Glossy cover makes a decorative mini dry-erase board.
  4. Wadding for Revolutionary War-era blunderbuss.
  5. Cover with fabric, use as new mattress for Skipper doll.
  6. Crumple up pages, stuff in pillowcase for faux buckwheat pillow.
  7. Disposable ballast if you attach giant dirigible balloon to roof, fly house cross country and need to gain elevation while crossing the Rockies.
  8. Remove cover, use as pancake flipper.
  9. Cut pages into 1cm x 5cm strips for litmus paper in child's pretend lab set.
  10. Stopgap measure to plug leaky roof.
  11. Implement to remove cobwebs from hard-to-reach ceiling corners.
  12. Chewing gum to wean Nicorette addicts.
  13. Attach folded cover to bicycle tire fork to make cool machinegun rat-a-tat.
  14. Comfy pillow if you're chained to wall in cement-floored basement.
  15. Roll into tube, use as piratey spyglass.
  16. Margins make great space for cryptic notes on mathematical theorems.
  17. When moving to new home, stuff in cardboard box to keep valuable books from shifting in transit.

Mikesell : 8:56 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Help Pick A Winner

I just got my letter of confirmation from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. So now I need to start getting together the various bits and pieces a conference attendee needs to do well. Among these is the business card, that indispensible networking tool that you can also write card suits and number/face card combinations on the backs of for a quick game of late night, high-stakes poker (also a networking opportunity).

VistaPrint is one of those 250 business cards free outfits. I don't know if they spam or not, but it wouldn't surprise me. I see there offers from time to time through the MyPoints program. Through the end of the month they're offering 250 "Premium" business cards for $5.25 s/h. The standard "free" offer (also $5.25 s/h) is for a limited selection of card styles and includes an ad for VistaPrint on the back. This offer includes all styles (or upload your own) and no ad on the back.

So I designed these four cards:Which would you pick? Feedback is welcome.

Mikesell : 9:25 PM : 4 snarky remarks

More Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever

This is a continuation of yesterday's post. If you haven't read it yet, click the link then c'mon back. We'll be waiting for you (and if you move your lips when you read silently, that'll be our little secret)....

101 Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever, continued
  1. Mulch.
  2. TP strategic reserve.
  3. Prop for staged "candid" photo.
  4. Page numbers make great flashcards for young learners.
  5. Cut out letters and words, paste on blank paper for romantic ransom note.
  6. Colorful spine brightens up drab shelf of books you've never read.
  7. No real household purpose here, but buying it at Amazon can get you free shipping if purchase price of other items is between $20.01 and $24.99.
  8. Stack several copies on end for oversized cascading domino sculpture.
  9. Teething alternative to pacifiers or zwieback.
  10. Joke anniversary gift (follow up with diamond tennis bracelet).
  11. Therapy tool for contacting your inner gay-cowboy.
  12. Place cover in picture frame; pretend to have written it under a pen name.
  13. Run through shredder for biodegradable hamster shavings.
  14. Hollow out inside pages, use as bookshelf safe for small items.
  15. Umbrella hat for people with tiny heads.
  16. Leave on coffee table as evidence the girlfriend-you've-boasted-about-having-who-doesn't-actually-exist has been in your apartment.
  17. Stepstool for things on top shelf that you can almost reach, but just keep batting at with fingers.

Tomorrow, #35-51.

Mikesell : 11:54 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's On

Yesterday at "No Rules, Just Right blogger Brenda Coulter suggested ways you could say something nice about her forthcoming novel, A Family Forever, without actually meaning you were wildly crazy about it. For instance:
"A Family Forever is a truly unforgettable book. The characters will stick in your mind."
(Just like those awful commercial jingles on the radio. Make it stop!)
Now Brenda offers open comments on her blog (as do I and all brave souls), and although she'll purge truly nasty stuff, she's a gracious hostess as long as you don't spit your chaw on her floor. Taking advantage of the situation, I posted the following comment yesterday:
This book holds up well!
(the short leg of my dining room table).

I see what you mean, Brenda. Thanks for the reviewing tips.... (I kid because I love ... and am several thousand miles away.)
Today Brenda used my last-night's-post as an object lesson in how easy it is to misconstrue someone's intentions in an online venue (e-mail, blog, etc.). Go read the whole thing some time; I'm featured prominently. Knowing that she was teasing (and knowing that she'd know I was teasing if I teased back) I posted the following comment...
...Ya make one little comment about a romance novel and a table leg and this is the abuse you get.

But really, even if you have no reason to go see Curious George, go see it. And buy Brenda's book too; 101 household uses, not including table leveling.
...and then followed up with a list of the 101 household uses in private e-mail. Over the next six days I'll be posting all 101. (Brenda has seen them all and made some suggestions which I may substitute for my own here and there; don't wig out and think I'm being all mean to her. I fully expect that she'll return the favor someday.) I'll post 17 a day, with my original bonus use appearing as item #102. Items are listed in the order I wrote them; no thought has been giving to ranking -- this ain't a Letterman countdown, people.

So, here we go:

101 Household Uses for Brenda Coulter's Forthcoming Novel, A Family Forever:
  1. Booster seat for slightly short child with narrow hips
  2. Flyswatter
  3. Incline ramp for Hot Wheels cars
  4. Animated stick-figure flipbook (stick-figure not included)
  5. Handheld fan on a hot day
  6. Rolling papers for cigarillos
  7. Non-marking disciplinary paddle
  8. The book you pull to swing open bookshelf concealing secret door to the Batcave
  9. Balance book on head to improve poise and posture
  10. Absorbent paper soaks up spills fast
  11. Shim to keep window from fully opening
  12. Shim to keep door from fully closing
  13. Awkward Frisbee
  14. Place under PowerBook to increase airflow
  15. Cut cover into 2"x3" rectangles for impromptu business cards
  16. Crease cover for use as emergency toothpick
  17. Re-giftable housewarming present
Come back tomorrow for more suggested household uses for Brenda Coulter's forthcoming novel, A Family Forever

In the meantime, go see Curious George.

Mikesell : 8:46 PM : 1 snarky remarks

An Evening With Inquisitive Jorge

Dina had a late-afternoon/early-evening meeting up in Portland today, after which she, the boy, and I went to see Curious George. During our conversations about whether or not we should do the movie or plan a different outing, "Inquisitive Jorge" (pronounced HOR-hey) was the code word used to keep our plans secret. (If the boy doesn't know what's planned, he doesn't pitch a fit if said plans fall through and we have to punt.)

A very good film, we thought. I found The Man in the Yellow Hat's wimpy characterization off in the beginning--I had always considered him to be confident and only a little overwhelmed by his novelty-seeking simian compadre. By the end of the movie, though, he had gained that confidence, so I'm forgiving the early mischaracterization as a character-developing necessity.

Go see the movie. Even if you don't have kids or a date. Even if you've missed the matinee pricing. See it two or three times (based on the previews we saw (Open Season, Barnyard, The Wild (all three of these films seem to be the same movie, only the settings and set of anthropomorphized animals have changed), and The Ant Bully, Phil will be watching this over and over on DVD rather than going to the theater for animated fare for the next year and a half).

Mikesell : 1:12 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Now How Much Would You Pay?

Dina saw a scan of her kidney stone today and she says it's a big'un.

William Shatner's went for $25K. No word if his has "crime deterrent" capabilities like Dina's. Let the bidding begin!

Mikesell : 1:09 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Valentine's Day Greetings

Phil got a valentine from Grammy and Poppa with five big ones in side. Actually the ones were normal sized, but there were, in fact, five of them. We had to go to town this afternoon and before we came back home we stopped at Target.

Phil's choices in the toy section included stunted little Star Wars figures, a little magnet motorcycle playset, and a new railroad car for his Thomas the Tank Engine set. He settled on a Fly Wheels toy. Here are a couple pix of Phil and his present:  1   2

When we got home Phil wanted to exchange valentines with me and Dina. He gave us a handmade card. I made him this valentideo.

Mikesell : 10:37 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Happy V.D.

Hope y'all're enjoying your boxes of chocolate and powertools. Here at Casa de Mikesell we're taking it easy. Dina's not feeling well (the doc's thinking kidney stone, we find out tomorrow), so we're putting off the tandem parachuting for another year.

And in the spirit of the season, and because "I love you" is better shown than heard (though it's important to hear, too; someone said that in a seminar, somewhere), and because even though I had a poem published I'm not a great poemist, here are some song lyrics I cribbed off the 'net ... especially for Dina:

It's Not Your Fault

I get lonely sometimes
It's not your fault
I'm a man who follows his own tracks until he's lost
I'll keep on going round and round until I'm found

I get wounded sometimes
It's not your fault
I keep on shooting arrows up until they fall
They stall and turn, a narrow miss until I learn

It's not you, I'll be okay, I'm just a jerk is all
It's alright, it's just my foolishness
It's not your fault

I get helpless sometimes
It's not your fault
I just tend to tug on heartstrings til they break
A thug who wins a kiss and misses finer things

I get angry sometimes
It's not your fault
I let the molehill simmer like Vesuvius
And hole up in Pompeii until all hell breaks loose

It's not you, I'll be okay, I'm just a jerk is all
It's alright, it's just my foolishness
It's not your fault

Written by Mark Heard © 1991 Ideola Music/ASCAP


More-sentimental words (also true and also better than I can write) can be found here.

Mikesell : 3:04 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, February 13, 2006

My iPod Was Made For Walken

A couple great finds to brighten your Monday.

The SNL skit that introduced "more cowbell" to the world (featuring Will Farrell and Bruce Dickinson, I mean Christopher Walken).

And then there's Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice," featuring Mr. Walken's dance stylings.

These links are subject to takedown notices from assorted copyright holders, so if the link turns up dead do a search for pertinent terms (Walken, Weapon of Choice, cowbell, etc.) and see if somebody else has posted the vids. A few weeks ago I found a clip of Andy Kaufman's historic Mighty Mouse performance, but that currently seems to be gone.

Mikesell : 8:13 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Random Sunday

Back to Sunday School for You
Looks like these folks ought to have done a bit more due diligence on their scripture attribution before incorporating into their website. (via Jordon Cooper)

Attention Sunday Drivers
South Texas Diecast Collectors has updated their listing of the 2006 Hot Wheels collection. The new Hammer Sled looks great. Other freshman models I'm looking forward to (based solely on their names) include: Cyclops, Pharodox, Nerve Hammer, Semi-Psycho, Preying Menace and Motoblade. Unobtanium I and Qombee have the most intriguing names, I think. And they've brought back the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, so I've got a whole year of anticipation ahead of me.

Lazy You-Know-What
If you haven't seen the SNL video "Lazy Sunday" it's downloadable from Google Video. As good or better, and also featuring Andy Samberg, is the Taco Town ad; mmmmm, that's some good eats!

Mikesell : 4:02 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Publishing Credit #2

My poem St. Francis & the Birds has been published by the fine folks at Infuze.

I make no claims on being the next Longfellow, not that I wouldn't mind having my own Authors card someday. Still, a publishing credit's a publishing credit (and, more importantly, a cover letter enhancement).

Plus, dig that crazy title graphic.

Mikesell : 11:26 AM : 3 snarky remarks

The Bowling Miracle

Okay, maybe miracle is a bit strong, but Phil and I did experience the hand of providence at a bowling alley this evening. We had arranged to go bowling with friends from church, but when Phil and I got there we discovered it was league night (not that it was posted anywhere; apparently frequent non-league bowlers just know when not to show up). I had told Phil we'd eat dinner at the snack bar; having gotten there early, we went ahead and did that. The shoe-rental guy said there was a place across town that didn't do Friday league, so I figured after our friends showed up we'd head over there (Eugene's not that big and traffic doesn't exist after 7p on Friday).

After we finished eating and played a couple games of Elvis pinball (I got a free game and Phil got Match Score, otherwise it'd've been one apiece), I noticed that there were a couple lanes that were dark. A different person was manning (or, in fact, womanning) the shoes, so I asked her if one of those lanes might be available for non-league bowlage. She said sure, so we didn't have to trek on over to the other bowling alley. (If you can guess the salty, Yiddish double-entendre I consciously avoided in the preceding sentence, score 50 points and move ahead two spaces.)

I really wasn't looking forward to hearing Phil complain about stupid league bowling on the trip over there. So yay! hand of providence. Thank you very much.

Phil didn't do as well as the last time we bowled (an 80 and a 67), but he still had fun. I scored a 131 and a 140 -- the two highest scores of our foursome -- closing half the frames and scoring a spare on a bonus throw, which made it fun for me, too.

Mikesell : 12:13 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Borders Coupon: 25% Off Through Sunday

Just in time for Valentine's Day, save 25% on a copy of Sonnets from the Portuguese or the Encyclopedia of STDs for that special someone. Actually, you can use the coupon for any book they have in stock. And, as long as you consider yourself "someone special," you don't have to give the book away, either.

Expires Sunday 2/12, not valid for online purchases.

Mikesell : 6:39 PM : 0 snarky remarks

WIP Is Back

For those of you who've quit checking my Work-in-Progress blog since I stopped posting there in November, I added a new post earlier today.

Let's not have a stampede here, people. Line up single file and click the link in an orderly fashion. Thank you.

Mikesell : 3:16 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Three More Good Things

Yesterday I trawled my net through the net-trawling place that is Google Video and came up with three music video keepers.All of them downloadable for Window/Mac/video iPod. Each one has some lame intro/outro screen garbage, so futz with the start/end times in iTunes to fix it before uploading it to your iPod.

Speaking of end-times, I think they are upon us. (via drudge)

Found a music vid on GV (or elsewhere) you care enough about to share with the group? Leave a comment.

Mikesell : 10:22 AM : 3 snarky remarks

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Three Good Things

Yesterday afternoon I took Phil to the Buck-Fifty theater to see Zathura. The movie was better than I expected, though not as good as Jumanji (and the two vulgarities from the six- and ten-year-old characters will probably keep it off our DVD shelf). Best part (other than the bicycle at the very end) was that our tickets only ran 50 cents each.

A while back I downloaded TigerLaunch to make it easier to start programs on my PowerBook. I don't like having a lot of icons on my desktop and although I can whisk open programs off-screen with a touch of the F11 key, that can be a hassle, too. TigerLaunch provides a drop-down application listing from the menu bar. It's handy, but invariably between the time I highlight a program and click on it, the highlight shifts up or down and I launch the wrong program. Last week I downloaded Quicksilver, which allows me to launch programs using the keyboard. CTRL-SPACE brings up a search window. As you start typing the name of the program you want to launch, Quicksilver starts showing you options. It does a good job of offering the most frequently run programs with the first letter typed. Typing F brings up Firefox. M is for Mail. I is for iTunes. I'm liking it.

And, in what'll probably be my last mention of the Superbowl, you can download ads from Google Video. There's an iTunes podcast that'll let you grab 'em, too. Both have the "Macgyver Returns" Mastercard ad. The podcast has "Addicted to Lost." (and my blog currently comes up #2 on MSN for "the seahawks were robbed.")

Mikesell : 11:18 AM : 1 snarky remarks

Monday, February 06, 2006

Being Not-Disabled Doesn't Pay, But I Get to Keep the Money

Last week I blogged about TurboTax giving me $99 in my state refund when I filed the long form and said that neither Dina nor I were disabled. After chatting with the TT rep yesterday evening (the phone rang as the final two-minute warning sounded ... how'd the Superbowl wrap up?) and his not being able to figure out the deal, he sent me a free copy of the home game, er, TT tax software.

I hadn't filled in the paper version Dina brought home, and since the home version showed the same "big money" refund. I started grabbing numbers from the federal return and plugging them into hard copy form. Turns out the extra money has nothing to do with disability, but rather it's after that question that the state return (long form) grabs the Schedule A data from the federal return. Even though I used the standard deduction on the fed form I had filled in the charitible giving section of Schedule A. That amount was greater than Oregon's standard deduction, reducing my state liability and increasing the refund.

(Thanks go out to my sister Julia for explaining that I was reading the tax code correctly. I told her earlier that I grabbed the standard deduction on the federal return, but I hadn't given her the Schedule A information or else she would've come up with the larger refund figure the first time around.)

Simply tithing put us well over our state's standard deduction. If Caesar wants to reduce the amount I render unto him because of what I've rendered unto God, well that's fine by me. If you're taking the standard federal deduction but your state lets you snag Schedule A data, make sure you fill it in.

Mikesell : 4:58 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bad Football, Good Ads

Okay, the Seahawks were robbed. No way should Roethlisberger's end-zone sneak have counted. If his shoulder's at the line and he moves the football from under his belly after he was down, how could any part of the football have entered the end zone to score. Bad call. And, I'm sorry, no way did Jackson pass interfere in the end zone. That's one less TD for Pittsburg, one more for Seattle. Final Score: 17-14 'Hawks.

At least the ads were good this year. Bud Lite had some good ones (loved the one with the bear). Monkeys and jackasses are always funny. Cavemen and FedEx. The "don't judge too quickly" ads were good, but not for an insurance company. I liked the "I'm going to Disney World" rehearsal ads. Diet Pepsi and Jackie Chan was great, though the "brown and bubbly" slogan sounds like the end result (pun intended) of mixing e. coli and a couple Burrito Supremes. (Yeah, it doesn't really work for me.)

And the Stones. Gotta love the Stones. Fred, Wilma, even the Rubbles next door. (But what was up with the national anthem? Or is that the way Aaron Neville sounds these days? Aretha sounded off, too, so maybe they had a newbie running the soundboard.)

Oh well. at least I picked good snacks: sliced salami, Tostitos 'n queso dip, Chex Mix, Diet "the taste of a new generation" Pepsi and Mug Root Beer (also diet), a multipack of zesty Pringles and Twisted Cheetos (the last two being Phil's picks). Phil and I noshed through the game and didn't officially have dinner (Dina's off to Chicago for the week and boys will be boys).

Hope you enjoyed the parts of the game/ads/snack table that suited you. Now I'm off to find the Tums...

Mikesell : 11:51 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Saturday, February 04, 2006

I Got a Free BMW

... Audio Book.

Now through at least March 16th, BMW and Random House are giving away free 45-minute audiobooks. A new book comes out every two weeks.

First up is "Beautiful Ride" by Don Winslow (author of The Life and Death of Bobby Z and California Fire and Life). Here's the synopsis:
Back then he was looking at a fat IPO and a boat. Back then he was rich. Back then he had a condo overlooking the ocean, a wife, and had just bought the BMW Z4 convertible. ... Now what he has left is the car. Ted's ... been kicked out by his soon-to-be ex wife, his assets have been frozen by the IRS, he's holding on to his Beemer, but the car company's repo men want it back, and he's living in a tent. He's falling through the cracks of the 'Gold Coast' life, until he turns to money-laundering to get back in the game. Then things get worse...
My guess is Beemers will feature prominently in the (at least) three other stories in the series, too.

Check it out. (via digg.com)

I wonder if BMW will convert the BMW films from a few years back to iPod video? Man, that'd be sweet.

Mikesell : 1:11 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, February 03, 2006

Does Not Being Disabled Pay?

So's I'm doing my taxes online (TurboTax) and I get to the part of the state return where it asks if you want to file the long (40) or short (40S) form. The long form runs through a bunch of possible deductions, so I click to go for it.

I go through all the questions and it turns out I don't qualify for any extra deductions, but I still get a nice refund. (Technically, Dina and I, we get a nice refund...)

I ask my CPA sister, Julia, to run the numbers and she comes up with $99 less in the refund. What the ?!?!?!

Turns out she did the short form route. I run the short form on TurboTax and, yep, $99 less for me (and Dina).

So I fiddle some more and it turns out if I answer that neither Dina nor I are disabled in the long form we get $99. If I answer the same question the same way on the short form, we get bupkis. (Incidentally, if I say "yes, we're disabled" I get $150/$300 more back from the state depending on how many of us are disabled.)

I spent some time chatting online with someone from TurboTax and she agreed that that this was very interesting. I scheduled a phone call for Sunday night where supposedly someone will be able to look at what/how I'm filing and figure out where the discrepancy comes from (I can't see the paperwork unless I pay $35 ahead of time for state/federal filing).

Dina's in town now and she's going to bring a copy of the long-form paperwork home. I'll do the hard copy and see if I can figure out what's going on. Maybe I'll get a t-shirt or hat or something ($99 would be nice) if it turns out I'm debugging their software.

Stay tuned.

Mikesell : 8:54 PM : 1 snarky remarks

(Vaguely) Interesting Stats

After the two-plus weeks of hiatus during December my "daily return visitor" average dropped from 11 to 7. Since then, it's grown to 13 (10, 6 & 12 if you remove me from the mix). So thanks for coming back day after day. I've had some 16-18 return visitor days lately, so there's room for that daily average figure to go up. (I average 74 "unique" visitors every day, with some up in the 80s and occasionally the 90s.)

Back on January 20 someone found my blog on Google by keying in "sundae candy." My ranking was 983 (persistence pays off). Somebody did the same search today and I came up #7. So I've got that going for me, too.

Mikesell : 1:38 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Who Rules My iPod?

My iPod currently has about 2,230 songs loaded (out of an estimated 7,500 limit). Including the handful of videos and photos I also have loaded, I'm still well under halfway full.

So, who's on my iPod? These are the artists/bands who have 30 or more songs (about 3 albums) onboard.

Petra: 30
The Echoing Green: 31
The Alarm: 32
U21: 33
Phil Keaggy: 34
Superchic[k]: 35
Don Henley: 39
Billy Joel: 39
Sting (includes The Police): 49
Randy Stonehill: 51
Paul Simon (includes duets with Garfunkel2): 55
Steve Taylor (inclues Chagall Guevara): 64
Christopher Franke: 71
John Williams: 75
Larry Norman: 76
Mark Heard (includes Ideola): 77
Mike Roe (includes 77s & Lost Dogs): 140
Derri Daugherty (includes The Choir & Lost Dogs): 159
Paul McCartney (includes Beatles & Wings): 176
Terry Taylor (includes Daniel Amos, Lost Dogs & Swirling Eddies): 273

All in all, that's 64% of the songs I've got loaded. In other words, I hear a track by one (or more) of those artists on roughly 2 out of 3 tracks when it's set on random3. (Some of the artists pick up duets/background vocals on other artist's tracks; I haven't counted those tracks in the totals.)

1 With The Alarm, that's 55 songs of Irish social conscience.
2 Artie's up for 44 songs, putting him as an individual artist between Billy Joel and Sting.
3 Yes, I know the technical term is "shuffle," but I go with the jukebox setting from Shaun of the Dead ("It's on random!").

Mikesell : 8:45 PM : 3 snarky remarks

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hey Texans, Join the Choir

Here's a special entry for my family and friends in Texas. The Choir is coming to The Woodlands (2/11) and Dallas (2/12). If you have the chance, make it their show (yeah, ten bucks is ten bucks, but live a little, huh?). Hear (and download) some tracks from their new album here and here.

And even if you can't make the concert, download a poster and post if conspicuously.

Wish I was there.

Mikesell : 6:07 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Creature Feature

My short film MetaGodzilla Attacks! is now appearing at the Infuze/Dfilm Film Festival.

Check it out. And if you're inspired to make a short film of your own, post a link in the comments.

Mikesell : 4:04 PM : 0 snarky remarks