A Soft, Gentle Reset

It’s morning. You’ve just woken up. It looks warm outside, the sun is shining, but there’s a thick blanket of snow on the deck. A large mug of coffee sits on the window sill, sunlight illuminating the steam as it lazily escapes the heat of the mug. You may be cozied up with your chin on your knees, a thick blanket wrapped round you as you stare out the window from the overstuffed leather chair. But it’s not a happy time. It’s sad. You’ve just lost a friend, finished the final legal hoops of a failed marriage. It’s a pensive, reflective moment. All cried out. Alone. Relieved, at peace, but saddened and forlorn. A complex web of emotions hangs stagnant amidst the lingering aroma of the coffee. They’re all real. Every bit of it as real as the snow outside. The sun, too far away to melt it, serves as a reminder that it will warm someday. This ain’t the last rodeo. The fingerprints on the window also serve that hope. There is life. And when the bell rings and the kids come traipsing in the front door, your silent melancholy will be abruptly shattered.

I’ve come to find that winter is my favorite season. I do like that cold. But that’s not it. It’s like a hard reset for planet America. Or at least planet North Texas. My world. It gets cold, freezes off the trials of the summer and the first nine months of a year, drops the leaves in the street and starts over. Let’s give it another chance. Let’s see if we can get it right this time. A perpetual trial and error in small, annual runs, like caption bubbles popping, saying “Once more”. Every year I contemplate what I could have done differently to make it a better year. Have I achieved what I set out to achieve this year? Have I grown as a man? A husband? A father? Am I where I wanted to be in life? On that third-grade questionnaire, where it asked ‘where do you want to be at forty-five’ what did I answer? Rich with a mountain home and a private plane? Warm with a red-haired wife and a black dog in a small cottage? Alone with a television blaring nonsense at a sub-audible level while I play solitaire on a sticky TV tray?

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Posted on November 12th, 2017 · No Responses
Categories: diary
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SpaceBrew Releases an Android App

Just sayin. So the story goes something like this. I play a lot of poker. I don’t host many tournaments. My buddies and I are more into the cash games, or ‘ring’ games, as they’re called. The big difference is that in a ring game, the blinds don’t increase, and it’s just a relaxing, easy-going game between friends, where any many can stand up at any time he’s ready, and cash in his chips for cash value. In a tournament, it’s kill or be killed, and usually only the top three seats are paid out. You might leave with nothing. The point of all this will be discussed in the next paragraph, so please consider this sentence the closing of the first.

So if you go look on the Android market, the Google Play Store, wherever the hell you buy your Android apps, you’ll find a metric butt ton of tournament manager apps. Seriously. Like a million. But they’re all for tournaments. And thus they mainly focus on your blind schedule, and timers that let you know when they’ve gone out. But you’ll not find a single app for cash games. Well, you’ll find one. But it’s so shitty that it shouldn’t even be mentioned. Literally, it sucks like a brand new Dyson 220v industrial elephant vac. For instance, you can add money to people’s accounts in increments of 5 25 or 50. But not 1. Or fifty cents. Because we all play small chip’s a finn, right?

:rolleyes:

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Posted on December 20th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: how-to
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The Voices in My House

It was two o’clock this morning when I heard the voice. I was lying in bed playing poker on my tablet because – well, for two reasons really. Number one, my red-haired wife is traveling. So I’ve no motivation to go to bed early. And secondly, because I’m insomniac, so there’s rarely any sleep for me these days. And thirdly, because I – wait… I only promised you two. So that’s that. I was, therefore, not awakened by the sound of a voice. But I was startled by it. That’s for sure.

It sounded at first like a woman talking in my kitchen. I was alone in my bedroom with the door closed. So it could have been coming from anywhere. But it sounded about as far away as it could be while still being inside my house and downstairs. The kitchen is the answer to that. I perked up and listened a minute. Then I went back to my poker game. Some people get arrested for taking other people’s money. I get badges. I was well into another good hand when I heard the voice again. And this time it was louder.

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Posted on December 5th, 2013 · 1 Response
Categories: diary
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The Legacy of an Antique

I’m not very big into antiques. In fact, I think I don’t much care for them at all. I’ve stopped at antique stores before, and browsed through the old roll-top desks and the antique china cabinets. I’ve seen the old grandfather clocks and the coffee tables that were built back in the early nineteenth century. And I do a whole lot of yawning, but not much else. That stuff just doesn’t do it for me. But I got a phone call yesterday that changed everything.

Well, not everything. That’s just a cool way to close the opening paragraph of a column. It changed something though. My grandmother called, you see. And she’s the last living grandparent I have. She happens to be my dad’s mother. Happens to be. I mean, I guess she happened to be the one to marry my dad’s dad and thus, happened to end up becoming my dad’s mother. Funny how that happens. She actually didn’t even call me. She called my dad. And she had something she wanted to pass down.

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Posted on November 27th, 2013 · 1 Response
Categories: diary
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An Open Letter to Adobe

Dear Adobe – and mainly you, Acrobat Reader. Listen here, bub. Your delusions of grandeur have escalated to a whole new level. Well, I guess they did a long time ago. They’ve been at this level for quite some time. But it’s not funny anymore. It used to be kind of cute how you’d show up at the party with the bigger boys acting like you’re one of them. Like you’re the really cool cop who brought the donuts to the Saturday Morning Citation Plus Club meeting. We all used to kind of watch you as you entered and we’d smile and say, “Isn’t that cute?” and “Yeah. Thinks he’s a big boy.”

You are like the high school kid who shows up to a frat party with your older sister and tries to hang with the college kids. The kid who must be reminded that he’s still just a high-schooler, and he shouldn’t try to act so cool while he’s at the party. You can’t drink as much as the big kids, you don’t know the secret handshake, and – no matter what you say – no. You have not been laid near as much as the college kids.

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Posted on November 12th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: rant
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Bad Design Diary: E-Brake Pedal

This is an example of when bad design can actually be life-threateningly dangerous. When functionality and design aren’t tested properly through usability tests and just plain standing-back-and-looking-at-it, then this is what you end up with. This is from my van – a Honda Odyssey. And every single time I get into the van wearing jeans, I experience this issue. And it’s not only when I get into the van. It’s when I’m driving. I’ll move my foot, and my jeans leg slips right over the e-brake pedal. This keeps me from being able to move my left foot until I reach down and pull up the pant leg.

Of course it would be worse for something to catch your right leg, but I do use my left foot occasionally for braking. Sometimes it’s more practical and a lot less work – especially in traffic. This, friends, is dangerous. Let’s have a look at a collage. Here you’ll see a picture of my foot beside the pedal and then caught on the pedal.

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Posted on November 11th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: bad design diary
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Meet the Author

If you read this site and you’re here right now, this message is for you. I write some books sometimes. I write real good, to. And people are starting to take notice. No seriously though. My buddy Spencer is the director of the public library where I live. And he thinks I write good to. So the library is going to host a Meet the Author night at the library, and I’m the author you get to meet! I know, I know, most of you have already met me. But it would still be fun for you to show up and pretend we haven’t met. You could walk up and shake my hand and act all star-struck and whatnot, and I could introduce myself, and people who don’t know you will think I have a ton of followers who have never met me. Followers who read authors who write real good.

Exciting times though, these are. Spencer will be ordering a large stack of each of my three novels to give away at the signing. Apparently the night will start with my lecturing for a bit about the perils of living in 3D, followed by some advice on being a writer in this here Metropolis and not in LA or New York. You don’t have to live there to write, you see. Following that will be a question answering session. I will be asking the audience a series of questions and seeing how good their answers are, in other words. At least this is my perception of the definition. And then I’ll sign some books. And that will pretty much be it. Well, aside from the after party at the Broken Anchor Pirate’s Pub.

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Posted on November 6th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: event
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Bad Design Diary: Cruddy Cupholder

My red-haired wife and our friends and do a lot of sitting on the driveway. Just about every night, and certainly every weekend. We sit out there drinking Cold Ones and starting at the lake, telling stories, playing guitars, Danae and I singing together, smoking cigars, skinning catfish – whatever. The point being we’re always out there, and the easiest way to accommodate all this madness is fold-up chairs. These things are pretty comfortable, and they’re great for space-saving when you’re done with them. They fold up and stand in the corner of the garage. The problem is, they don’t last very long.

Well, this black chair has one more problem in particular. It’s the top-dollar version of the chair. It used to have a footrest and all that, which is another bad design in and of itself. But today we’re going to talk about the cupholder. Have a looksee.

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Posted on October 28th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: bad design diary
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Can there really be a happy Columbus Day?

Happy belated Columbus day! Anyone? Did everyone have a good one? Anyone? Anyone there? Is anyone there at all? I’ve been walking around the office this morning asking everyone I run into if they had a good Columbus Day. And all I get in response are variations of the standard grunt. No one seems to have a committed meaningful response. It’s almost, almost as if no one even celebrates it.

So apparently, as I see it, the story goes like this: some Italian dude sailed across some ocean, ran into some land, thinking it was some other land, sees a bunch of red-skinned people running out into the water to greet him and bring him gifts, whereupon he decides they would make good slaves, and sets about to slaughtering most of them, and therefore, some five hundred years later, our kids don’t have to go to school on that day. Have I got it about right?

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Posted on October 15th, 2013 · 1 Response
Categories: rant
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Gone Are The Good Merchants

When I first started home-brewing, I bottled my beers. There’s something almost magical about popping the cap off a cold bottle of beer that you brewed yourself, pouring it into a pint glass. I love it. But pretty quickly the hassle of putting the beer into the bottles gets old, and most brewers begin kegging. I only bottled two batches of my beer before I said eff it and bought myself some kegs. Then I went online and ordered a kit – the regulator, the hoses and attachments, and a five-pound CO2 tank.

There are smaller tanks available. You see them attached to paintball guns all the time. But when it comes to home-brewing and the like, I’m not sure you can get a smaller bottle than a five-pound. And it’s about the size of one of those large fire extinguishers you see on the wall at work. Anyway, I immediately went to the homebrew forums trying to find where I could get my tanks filled. There were a couple of places in downtown Dallas that did it – well, they swap tanks, but don’t fill your tanks. That means you have to give them your new shiny empty one and they give you one of their rusty old ones full of air. But there was nowhere real close to where I lived. And then I stumbled on a liquor store.

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Posted on September 25th, 2013 · No Responses
Categories: rant
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