Tagged: work

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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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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The Weekend in San Antonio

My red-haired wife and I spent the last weekend in San Antonio (or as my daughter says, “Sanny Tonio”) at the ISTE conference. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a conference for the International Society for Technology in Education. And as you all know, my red-haired wife and I both work for an EdTech company. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know what the ISTE was. Neither did I, until I found myself working it.

Since I started working in Design, I’ve found myself in a lot of situations like this. Travel situations, that is. Design has already sent me to New York and Minnesota. And there’s a lot more to come. My boss and I were running the Lounge section of our booth, where we were demoing our new dashboard we’ve been designing. There were several other sections of our booth where other products were being shown, and my red-haired wife was working the welcome desk, as seen in the picture below. So let me tell you about this conference center.

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The Year of Travel

When I was a child, my greatest fear was falling. I would dream about falling from a building, or a tight-wire stretched between buildings. I don’t know why I should have these dreams. I would never consider actually walking a tight-wire, but there you are. Now that I’ve grown up, my greatest fear has evolved. It’s no longer a selfish fear – a fear for myself. It’s now a fear for the safety of my children. I guess that’s every good parent’s greatest fear though. It makes me shaky and sick to think of something happening to them. I am, therefore, necessarily opposed to taking my children to New York.

It’s not that I think it’s that much more dangerous than anywhere else. Right now I live in one of the top five safest cities in the United States. So yeah, I feel pretty comfortable where I am. But it’s just that I don’t feel like I have control of anything when I’m in New York. Number one, I don’t drive a car, and probably never would in Manhattan. It seems to me to be a place where you live close to work and either walk or take public transit to get there. There aren’t a lot of parks and playgrounds for the kids. At least not where I was. It just doesn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment. I guess maybe Queens or The Bronx would be better than Manhattan.

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More Strange Coincidences

I like to pronounce it co – in – `SIDE – ence. I think it sounds a little more swass. Kind of like saying “shed-yule” instead of schedule makes you sound intelligent and business-like. See, saying certain words a certain way keeps people on their toes. ASS – per – AG – us is a rich way to say asparagus, for instance. See? Try them out. See what works best for you.

But speaking of coincidences, I have another couple to add to the list of weird, almost impossible coincidences I’ve experienced. Check this out. You remember the column where I talked about a couple of the crazy things that happened to me? Well here’s another one. When I first moved into this house, my washer went out. See? Crazy, huh? No seriously. It went out, so I got on craigslist, blah blah, met the woman at a storage place that ends up being RIGHT BEHIND WHERE ONE OF MY BUDDIES LIVES TODAY.

Seriously. Well, that’s not the cool coincidence part though. So I brought it home, hooked it up, and of course it doesn’t come anywhere close to matching my dryer. But who gives a shit, right? I like buying used because it helps a brother out when he needs to get rid of something. And as long as it works, and you get a good price, why the hell not? Am i rite? :shobon:

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I Saved the Planet, Dudes

Minnesota Chronicles, Vol. 3

No seriously. It has been made clear to me that alls I have to do is leave my towels on the rack instead of the floor, and it will save the planet. Well, friends, I am happy to announce: the planet is SAVED. You can thank me later.

I’ve done many things for you guys over the years, but none of them probably had the impact that this one single event did. I’m just wondering though… instead of printing up this cute little sign and going through all that trouble, couldn’t the person who placed the sign just left the towels on the rack? He could have saved the planet back when he hung the sign. Oh well, it’s really no sweat to me, and I’m happy (and honored) to have gotten the opportunity to perform such a magnanimous, philanthropic detail.

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Farewell to the Help Desk

For the last 18 years I’ve been working on computers in some capacity. About eight of those years were server engineering and data center operations, but the rest has been help desk. I’ve always preferred the help desk because it’s more hands-on with people. I have the great privilege to make people happy, one person at a time.

Help desk obviously doesn’t pay near as well as the server side of things, but it’s always been enough to support my family and me. And you know me – I’m not greedy. I only want to make enough to cover what I need, plus a little allowance for toys and beer. I have no desire to drive a fifty-thousand-dollar luxury automobile, or have a summer cabin in the mountains. Though that does sound quite nice now that I think about it.

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New York Diaries, Vol 1

I’m finally changing career paths. At almost forty years old. But they say it’s never too late to learn something new, right? I’m tired of fixing computers for a living. I’m pretty good at it, and I’m almost never stumped by a problem for too long anymore. I mean, there are perhaps an infinite number of things that can go wrong with a computer or a piece of software, or a printer… But a lot of them start to look alike – and certainly have the same solution. And I’ve been doing this a really long time. Yeah, it’s time for a change. So my company sent me to a three-day training course in New York City. So this is it, huh? I finally get to go to New York. Well let’s do it!

You see, all my friends have been. Well, most of my friends anyway. My red-haired wife has been. My dad has been. And everyone says you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street. Well, I’ve been here for four days now, and let me just say this about it: you have to experience it firsthand to really get the full drift of what it’s like down on the street.

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The Panama Chronicles: Part 1

Part One: Man Versus Murphy

As our tour guide for the Panama Canal said, “Murphy isn’t just a part of our daily lives here in Panama, but he was also born here.” He spoke of Edward Murphy, the Panamanian native who coined the phrase we all know today as Murphy’s Law. Well, we met Mr. Murphy before we even got to the airport.

State Highway 121, which is perpetually in a state of construction, almost caused us to miss our flight. They had blocked the exit to the airport. I don’t know who ‘they’ is, but I’d sure like to have a little chat with them. Yes, they blocked the exit. How can they do that when there are literally thousands of people every day who depend on that exit to get to the airport? Well, you’ll have to ask ‘them’.

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The Year in Pictures

Happy Friday, friends. Another year has almost come to an end. Well, maybe I’m a little precocious in saying that – seeing as we still have thirty-one days until it’s over. But it’s almost over. Eleven-twelfths of the way through. So that’s close enough in my book. So I figured I’d go ahead and close out the year with a special photos column, recapping some of the things that happened this year. Some of these pictures are relevant, some are not. All were taken this year. But not all of them actually have anything to do with anything. Some of them, in other words, are just cool pictures.

Another thing they all have in common is that they were all taken with my phone. So I didn’t go digging through my digital photo album looking for good pictures. Just my phone. Meaning these happened while I was out and about, or generally too busy to pick up my DSLR. Anyway, have fun, and enjoy walking back through the year with me. In no particular order, of course.

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Cheerleaders Don’t Lift My Spirits

Here’s a hot sports opinion for you: I think cheerleaders are annoying.

What, you wanted more? No, that’s it. Yeah, that’s all I wanted to say. I think they’re distracting, irritating and annoying. And boring. Sigh. Okay, I’ll explain for you. We go to my son’s football games, and we sit in the bleachers and – well, since he’s in middle school, they don’t take football near as seriously as high school and – well, I … let me start over. Okay, the schools at which his team plays only have bleachers on one side of the field. Which puts you in the uncomfortable predicament (pre · di · `CAY · ment) of sitting right beside the opposing team’s fans. And, more specifically to my point, both groups of cheerleaders are right there next to each other. On the same side of the field. Like five yards away from each other.

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Public Transit: A Gloryhole for People-Watching

I ride the train to and from work on most days. Well, I should say public transit. Because part of my trip sometimes involves a bus. In the past I would have thought that only poor and homeless people used the DART buses around here. Boy was I wrong. A couple of guys from my work ride with me, and this one really classy, foxy woman rides our bus too. She’s always reading on her phone. These aren’t the only non-homeless people on the bus. Just the ones I care about. But it has nothing to do with being poor. It’s actually to do with being smart, and wanting to free up your hands to use your time the way you want. I get to ride and read instead of drive and cuss. Anyhow, I don’t think I’ve actually ever seen a homeless person on the bus. Now the train, on the other hand…

But I do ride the bus for part of the trip because it gets me closer to my building. I have a nice little walk up the hill when I get off the bus. But taking the bus (and the train for that matter) every day makes for some interesting encounters with humanity. And since I’ve now been riding for about seven months, I’ve seen some very interesting people. Let me tell you about some of the most interesting encounters:

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Summer Synopsis 2012

What have I been up to lately? I know I said in my beer page bio that I was done with blogging. I also know that all three of my readers knew as well as I did how long that phase had the potential to last. But until humanity has cleaned up its act and I see random people helping other people on the street; people waving at each other on the highway – not riding each other’s asses; people in flooded, hurricane-hit towns helping with the cleanup and not looting… Once all that starts happening, I may run out of things to talk about. As long as human beings are a hive of scum and villainy, I will blast about it on the web. Not sure what motivated me to use a Star Trek quote there, but it is fitting, and there you have it. And there’s your opening paragraph.

Anyway, yes, I have been making beer. I brew two to three batches of beer per month. Let me explain this to those of you who don’t already know. If you do know all about homebrewing, then feel free to skip ahead a few paragraphs. I had a buddy of mine swing by the other night to hang out and catch up, have a few beers, the usual. And I happened to be turning out a batch of beer. So he says, “When will it be ready?” and I replied, “Oh, about four weeks or so.” So he says, “Really. I thought we’d be drinking it tonight.” This is just plain ignorance. Not stupidity. Most people are just completely in the dark when it comes to making beer, having never been told. So here’s my very brief rundown of what happens:

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Space and the New Independence

I recently took a new job, as all the computers at my old company were finally fixed. Nothing left to do, time to move on. And though my new POE, or Place of Employement is in uptown Dallas – much farther than my previous commute – I am happy to make the trip for two simple reasons. Number A, it’s good to be back in my old stomping grounds. I’ve worked for several companies over the years that were based here around this area, and have gotten to know and love it. Letter two, working in uptown makes it possible (and logistically preferable) to use public transit.

Taking the train to work does not save me any time. On the contrary, in fact. It takes me probably an extra half- to three-quarters of an hour to get to work. But it saves gas. To the tune of over seventeen hundred dollars per year. One might also, though, say that it saves my sanity. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams and road rage; douchebags in oversized Chevy pickups who think they own the road. Continue reading…

The Summit of Mount Nerdly

It probably doesn’t come as any big surprise to most of you who know me that I call myself a geek. I am familiar with computers, one might say. I have dabbled in code and graphics design and network administration, internet systems, databases and even paintbrush. Heck, this very site you see in front of you was hand-coded from scratch to finish using nothing more than Notepad++ by yours truly. Meh. Not a large achievement there, but I’m proud of it. I like it. Anyway, I still do some things sometimes that make me step back and blink, and sometimes even go so far as to turn my head and frown, thinking, ‘Damn! I really am an insufferable geek. A ridiculously overboard, head-to-toe nerd to the highest power.’ This here’s one of them stories.

Let me back you up a little bit though, just for the sake of the journal. I took a computer lit and a computer programming class when I was in seventh grade. I did exceedingly well at both, as the language and theory just sort of “clicked” with me. It just made sense. The hot teacher, therefore, invited me back the next year to be her lab assistant. I wish this had some kind of awesome twist to it where I told you stories of being stuck in the lab alone with her on several long, late nights, but alas – nothing like that ever happened. Now my English teacher, on the other hand…

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Hyper Space

I’ve lately begun to take offense to high gas prices. I’m not going to go into the politics of why I believe they are so high right now, or why I think the price hikes are completely unjustified, reactive and irrelevant to anything worldly at all. I’m just going to say that the price of gas has started to rise again, and I’m taking action against it.

Just like when I got my last traffic citation: I decided that I was no longer going to pay the state one more dime of my hardly earned money. The main highway just out of my neighborhood is a tollway. I have the American standard 2.4 vehicles per household, plus a camping trailer that I have to register plates for every year. Plus inspections, state-required insurance (instead of a check-box that reads “Opt out: Dude, seriously, I don’t need insurance because I’m not an idiot driver”) and all other types of ill fees I have to pay just to exist in this state. No way am I going to let them catch me speeding or something so I’ll have to pay more fines and fees! I decided right then and there that I was going to obey every traffic law to the K.

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Making the Switch

I know I’ve spoken a lot lately about going open-source. You probably remember my award-winning column called Open-Source My Life, because you remember how it made your skin all bumpy with chills when you realized you could liberate yourself from the oppressive hand of the big boys. I know you also have probably been sitting there hitting F5 every several minutes for the last few weeks, hoping a new column would show up on the site. I know, I know. And I’m sorry. As it turns out, I have learned lately that Haycomet is a lazy writer. She drags butt around the office and almost never writes anything. I see her standing in office doorways and at cube openings, coffee in hand, just talking to all the other SpaceBrew employees.

It’s okay though. There are still plenty in the archives for you to check out. (out which you can check? meh) So anyway, I have one more column to write about going open-source, and I’d like for you to read it. I promise you won’t be bored by it, and it won’t be two thousand words, and you might actually learn something. And it may change your life. The column, not the topic. So read on, my laconic friends.

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Judge Not Thy Chili

I guess I have entirely missed the point of a chili cook-off. You see, growing up, I – wait. No, never mind. This has nothing to do with growing up. But I’ve always sort of been of the opinion that when you had a food contest, the goal for each contestant would be to cook the best tasting food. Chili included. Should not the goal for each contestant to be to produce the absolute best chili anyone has ever had? Well apparently not. Now the point is to see who can set someone’s mouth on fire the fastest. And there’s your opening paragraph.

Seriously though, did I miss some sort of memo? Here at work the other day, there was a small, unannounced chili cook-off hosted by the ladies in marketing. And of course, out of the seven or so women there, only like two of them made the chili. The rest of the entries were actually cooked and prepared by the husbands. I need not finish this paragraph, but I will anyway – if for no other reason than to hit my word quota. But yeah, you guessed it: women cannot cook chili. My red-haired wife not included.

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You Can’t Trust the System

I’d like to tell you that this story is true, and that you need to believe it because I’m telling the truth here. This is not a work of fiction! But how do you say that at the beginning of a column, when the entire purpose of the site upon which you write is entertainment? A lot of what I write here is fiction. Heck, everything Haycomet writes is fiction. But this, my friends, is real. This is true. And it really happened. And I have witnesses.

So I’d like to tell you the ridiculous story of how my pals and I ran into a series of events governed by Murphy’s Law, and were unable to get out from under his oppresive thumb. If I ever meet Harvey Murphy, I have a few words for him, I assure you. And alls we were doing was trying to have a little lunch.

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Would it kill you to smile?

I am not a pessimist, well not completely… yet. I try to have a positive attitude at all times. Especially times that involve people who do not know me. I like to make a good first impression. With that said, there are some actions that just deserve reciprocation. Actions that try to promote a positive setting like a friendly wave or saying hello. My major expectation? If I smile at you, please do me the courtesy of smiling back.

I was very shy when I was younger, and I would keep my eyes pointed down when I was in public. I would never make eye contact. I would walk past friends in a mall and never know it until they yelled my name. Now that I’m older and I have a job where I work around hundreds of people, I try to be more personable. I work in a warehouse that has been converted into office space, and I work in the very back of that huge building. Every morning I walk from the middle of the large parking lot to my desk; it’s about the equivalent of two and a half blocks. I pass quite a few people while walking and I look at each one, in the eyes, and smile. Heck, sometimes I even say, “Good morning!” or “How are you doing?”

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Old People Like Applebee’s

There’s an old man who lives in my neighborhood, right across the street. He and his wife are probably in their late 70s, early 80s, possibly late 80s. I’m not very good at judging ages on old people. But yeah, they’re old. He’s a cool old dude. He was a sailor back in his day, so I know he’s got some guns in that house. I’m trying to get on his good side so maybe he’ll put me in his will, because I like guns too.

Anyway, he has this tree in front of his house that is notorious for losing branches. I mean, they’re easily found – it’s like it loses one, we look for a brief period, and say, “Oh, there it is, right beneath the tree from where it fell. How about that.” So it’s not really losing them as such… maybe not even really misplacing them. We’ll just say that branches have a tendency to fall off that damn tree quite often. More than the rest of the trees in the neighborhood.

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Retirement Party: This Weekend

So when I heard the news that Brett Farve was finally retiring, I sighed and shook my head, then went to sit on the sofa with a beer. As I was in motion dropping into sitting position, a news flash came on saying he had changed his mind. Again. Now I don’t actually have television service of any kind, and the radio was not on. But a news flash surely did happen, and – well, I just knew he wasn’t really retiring. And now I’m kind of getting a little tired of his Barbra Streisand-like retirement hoopla. Dude, I don’t care how many times you “retire”, you’re only getting one party.

Seriously, how many times can one really ‘retire’ anyway? Take the Eagles, for instance. When Don Henley said, “We’ll get back together when hell freezes over…” everyone believed him. But does anyone believe you can get a snowcone in hell right now? From what I hear they’re touring again, and they’ve even got a new quarterback. Wait. Not that the Eagles. It’s like the ‘in’ thing to do right now is to retire, take a few months off, and come back acting like it’s a whole new gig. Sorry though, Poison. No one wants to hear your new stuff. They only want to hear Unskinny Bop and Talk Dirty to Me.

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Universal Solvents

Have you ever heard of the universal solvent? Well basically it’s a solvent that will eat through anything. Or rather, everything. You pour it on the concrete and it will just fizzle away until it all burns up eating stuff. See that’s the thing, it won’t eat its way all the way through the earth. Think about it. As it eats away at whatever it’s eating away, it uses itself up. So if you pour some on a steel table, it will eat through it, then whatever drips to the floor beneath will be a little less. It then eats through the tile, then the concrete, then some soil, and it’s pretty much down to nothing left at that point. But you do have a nice little hole through your table, foundation and the ground beneath.

So, of course, the question at the end of the riddle is, “What do you put it in?” The old anecdote mentions a guy walking into his boss’s office and saying, “Hey, boss, I finally did it! I finally created the universal solvent!” And his boss looks him up and down and says, “Why isn’t it eating through the beaker?”

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You Ruined My Friday

Just so you have a frame of reference, you need to know I am lying in bed right now writing this on my SpaceBook. It is Friday night, 18:05 and I’m lying in bed on my laptop. You’re probably out painting the town, tearing it up, getting some trim, drinking some Cold Ones, and I’m lying here in bed. On my computer. On a Friday night. Have I emphasized that enough yet? Well allow me to pour a little salt in the wound. Even though it’s just after 1800 hours – six for you non-military types – my evening is already set in stone. There won’t be a break. I’ll be doing the same thing in two hours, and in six hours. My night is ruined.

Last night my red-haired wife and I were sitting out on the back patio just enjoying the cool summer breeze and a couple of Ones that were – at least to the best of my recollection – pretty Cold. When all of a sudden, from out of the corner of the backyard, I spotted something terrible and sinister. And before I could gather my senses and react appropriately (which would be to grab my Browning from the deep-conceal holster in the small of my back and put two in dead center mass), it was on me. I’ve never been attacked and overcome with such rapid efficiency or tactical precision in my life. My defenses were useless.

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Meal Ticket for a Bad Meal

We were talking last night about the concept of the discount coupon, the refund and the free meal ticket. So say you go into a restaurant, you order a nice big meal, you eat it, then you get sick and end up spending the next nine hours pinwheeling in your bathtub. For those of you who don’t know what pinwheeling is, imagine you’re spraying out of both ends. If you were to take a spear and stick it through your side into the wall, the force of the liquids coming out of you would propel you to spin, doing backflips on the spear.

After you spend all night in the shitter, you call the restaurant, or even better – go back up there, and they give you a free meal ticket to make it up to you. Ahem. Like you really want to eat there again? That was one shitty cookie! Can I have a discount on my next shitty cookie? Yeah it really doesn’t make much sense. Same thing with shitty haircuts. You might get a coupon for a free haircut since they effed your head up this time. Uh huh. That is one valuable coupon. I know I don’t keep going back to places that don’t do their job right.

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End Stupid Construction

As I was driving back from the clinic today, I came across a few things that made me frown a little, tilt my head to the side, wrinkle my nose, and quite possibly quote the phrase that started the now world-famous acronym you all know as WTF. You see, I have to go to the clinic an average of two to three times a week. That’s how bad my genital centipedes have gotten. Oh wait. No, no, you see, I work for a company that has 22 clinics. Phew. Thank God it’s that. So maybe I don’t have genital centipedes after all.

Anyway, as I was driving I saw a couple of things that I thought I should let you guys know about, and see if you have the same reactions I do. Since I’m what some call an ‘intellectual’, and I’m terribly smart, I catch some things most people don’t. For instance, you know those concrete barriers they line up beside highways? They’re about 20 feet long and weigh like 40 tons. Yeah. Well, I thought about something, guys. Before they rebar those things together on the side of the highway, they just leave them all stacked in grids over on the grass, usually near the starting section of where they’re going to install them. I mean, no fence, no guard dog, no security cameras… Dude, we could totally just walk away with a couple of those. And who couldn’t use a twenty-foot concrete barrier to toss in his driveway? See? Told you I was smart, guys.

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Team-Building Events That Work

The other night, while sitting outside with Siege, our discussion rounded upon the topic of women at work. We work with some cute women. Don’t know how many of them are “chicks” by Haycomet’s definition, but there are probably eleven women to every one man in our building. I’d say that’s pretty good odds if you’re single. Which he is. Ahem, ladies. So anyway, I came up with what I think is an excellent idea to break the ice a little and get things moving if you’re wanting to meet some people and find out more about them.

This also applies to building that “team feeling” you get at one of them really good jobs. A lot of companies out there are really suffering in the trust and teamwork departments. Now don’t go looking for the “teamwork department”. It’s just a phrase, dude. But if you work in one of these unfortunate places where the sexual tension is just through the roof and the executives oppress your right to free love in the bathroom stalls and network closets, you should definitely read on.

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No More Nuts On My Elbows

Well I hope you all enjoyed the last two days, with our two newest writers. What a delightful treat, yeah? Now if we can get them to keep writing, that will be the trick. But you know what encourages them? What motivates them? Responses. Keep posting your comments and letting us know how we’re doing here. I know, I know, Siege ranted about a traffic incident. It’s long been an unspoken law around here that we don’t talk about traffic. But I quite like his perspective on it, not actually coming out and calling the guy a douchebag, but rather implying he is one by saying his helicopter is in the shop. I see those every morning. And they’re usually driving H2s or H3s. Yeah, I said it. You drive a Hummer, you’re a douche. Simple math.

Stout and I were talking last night about the haircut, and how it costs so much damn money. You know, the price of the haircut is going up every year. And I should know, because I only get mine cut twice a year. I despise going to the barber shop. Again, I don’t mind a male barber, or necessarily prefer a female barber… It all comes down to the one question you face when you’re about to have to choose though: “Do I want nuts on the elbow, or boobs on the shoulder?” And of course, at that point, I always have to swing toward the she-barber’s chair. But the nuts on the elbow isn’t why I hate getting my hair cut. I think it’s the act of sitting there for fifteen minutes, paying fifteen dollars for a shitty haircut that I could have done myself, better. Seriously. No, really. I really do cut my own hair most of the time. I don’t do a great job on the fade in the back, but the top part with the scissors? Man I got that shit down.

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Techmophobia

Have you ever had to provide technical support to anyone? Namely someone in their 40s or 50s? Well, if you have, you have probably noticed they had what I like to refer to as ‘Technophobia’. The root word of that is ‘tech’, which comes from the Latin word ‘teach’, which means to show someone how to do something. The ‘phobia’ part comes from the ancient Korean word ‘phear’ which means you’re afraid of something. So basically they’re afraid to teach something. Wait. I messed that up. You know what? Forget it.

What I’m saying is that most 40- and 50-year-olds are “afraid” of “techmology”. And I don’t mean they think the computer is going to wake up at night, start saying “PAK CHOOIE” and push grandma down the stairs. What they’re afraid of is that they will mess something up if they even dare click the Tools menu with the mouse button. And what this results in is technical support calls, wherein I am called upon to perform a rudimentary service on a machine to which I have no physical access. Usually when I’m sitting on a beach with a can of Corona in my hand and several pretty ladies dancing in their bikinis (or out of them) for me. Or when I’m on the back patio with a can of Bart’s Backyard Brew in my hand with my wife and all her hot friends dancing for me in their bikinis.

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Seriously, dudes. Save the trees.

Does anyone read the yellow pages? Okay, that’s not what I mean. I know no one reads it! Haha! That would be a boring ass read, amirite? Yeah. Seriously. But yeah, no, see, yeah what I meant to say was, does anyone use the yellow pages? Yeah, see that’s what I thought.

I used to use them all the time. I’d pop one in Callie’s seat so she could reach the table. But I haven’t actually opened the yellow pages since – well, shit, I don’t think I ever have. Why would I? I have an iPhone. I have google 411. I have the Internets. That’s all free. And faster. And last I checked, no trees had to die to support the internet. So please, Southwestern Bell, save the paper. Save the trees. And stop sending me the stupid yellow pages.

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Where-Fi?

I’m sitting here writing this column on Friday night. I will schedule it for publication as soon as I finish it, for Tuesday morning, the 4th of May. Why, you may ask, am I sitting here writing a column on Friday night when I could be out slipping warm ones into garters and Cold Ones down my gullet? Well, like I told you on Friday’s column, I’m in the hospital with my recovering wife. No, that wasn’t a joke. She really did get surgery. No, it wasn’t really a whoopie cushion. But wouldn’t that be bad ass?

She’s doing well, I guess, or as well as well can be after getting gutted like a fish. She just went for her first walk and made it like twenty feet before having to turn around. She’s hurting pretty bad. And I know you guys probably think I’m an asshole for not tying her gown up in the back for her, and – in fact – telling her it was tied in the back. But I just figured I could give a little back to humanity. And that’s a good way to do it. The Hispanic family in the hallway sure appreciated it.

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The Day of the Turkey

I guess to those of you in New York, it would be Day of the Toikey. Well either way, I hope it’s a happy one. I thought I would sit down here on the sofa and write a little post to fill everyone in on what’s been going on lately. It’s nice to have a family day with Step and the girls. We don’t have the boy this week, but it’s still cozy. We’ve historically always gone to the parents’ houses or to be with extended family, but today we decided to stay home and have our own intimate little turkey eating experience.

I haven’t had internet connectivity at home over the last few months, and working the odd hours and schedules that I work now haven’t had the time or the passion to update the site. I brought home a modem last night from the Clear guy to try it out and see what kind of connectivity and speeds I get, and was amazed at how the first thing I wanted to do was write a post on the Brew. Lucky you.

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It’s a scam and I’ve got proof.

DirecTV is my satellite service provider. But when I say ‘service’ I use the term loosely. And I’m talking loose like a two-dollar whore. You know, like throwing a hot dog down a hallway loose. They don’t actually provide a ‘service’ in any respect, if you want to get technical. What you have is them flipping a switch which allows you to receive certain channels on the box you pay for. So you pay for a box and they allow programming to be sent to your dish. Right? I mean they don’t really have to do anything after the install of your equipment is finished.

And that’s the thing. They don’t actually install anything. Well, at least not properly. You see, there are different crews when it comes to installing and repairing. Example, an install crew comes out, does a shitty ass piece of mothercobbler shit ass job of installing your shit, and leaves as fast as possible. They get paid per job. Not per hour. So then what happens is your shit doesn’t work. So you have to call the company. Who then dispatches repair crews out to your place. Not the original install crew. Not any install crew, for that matter. And for that matter, how about another matter – they aren’t even the same company. The repair crews work for a different company who is contracted out by DirecTV.

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Ringtones Are For the Birds

Okay, I guess it’s time to admit something to you, great readers: I don’t really work in a high-rise condo-style office building with a swimming pool in my office and a glorious view of downtown Dallas. Gah. Man, now that I type it out like that it sure does look good. Actually, never mind. I really do work in that. I have a four thousand-square-foot office overlooking glorious downtown Manhattan. Or did I say Dallas? Whatever. The point is my office is probably better than yours. I have more leather in here than a cow farmer in Fort Worth. I would put up a form that allowed you to submit to me your office square footage and value and it would return to you a value of whether or not mine was better than yours. But it’s not worth the time coding it because all it would ever say was, “Nope, sorry, Space’s is better.”

So anyway, to my point. Let’s say I didn’t work in a high-rise luxury office. I would, in that case, probably work somewhere lowly like the rest of you, like a cube farm. Okay, screw it. I can’t really tell my story if I keep up this lie. I will go ahead and shoot straight with you. For the last two weeks, while my office was being renovated with solid platinum and diamond stuff, I have been working in a temporary location at a normal office, in a cube farm. It’s a step down, but it’s also a way for me to keep in touch with the people. The normal people. And I’ve come to learn one thing for sure about cube farms: I hate ringtones.

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SpaceBrew Goes Mobile

I know you’re all wondering why there was no column posted this morning. Well, so am I. Actually, I didn’t have anything prepared because most of the writers are slacking or on vacation or just don’t care about their jobs anymore. We’re about to do some major housecleaning here, folks. Let this be a warning to you SpaceBrew writers whose accounts have gone stale! Lay-offs are imminent!

Anyway, the reason I didn’t post was because I lay there last night thinking about my lovely readership, which has grown quite strong here of late. And I realize a lot more people are browsing the site on a mobile device these days. And since I care about each and every one of you, I decided I would spend the morning designing an alternate theme for the mobile browsers of the world. I even made it easy for you all. You don’t have to type in a different address, you don’t have to click some “Go Mobile” link or anything… You just show up.

That’s right. If you’re surfing the web on your iPhone or iPod touch, just visit spacebrew.com and check it out. Compacted and stripped nearly bare to save on your kilobytage and screen space. Now you can view the site the way you want to. Because you know that’s our motto here at SpaceBrew. Browse the Site the Way You Want To™

Screenshots (for those of you without iPhones): 1 · 2

Cleanliness is Next to Manliness

You know that guy at work (he’s usually Chinese) who you always catch brushing his teeth in the restroom? And you always almost crack a smile, thinking, “Heh. This idiot is bru–” then you stop short, realizing it’s actually probably a pretty damn good idea. So you keep your mouth shut. Well I have become that guy. Not Chinese. I bought a hygiene kit for work.

Well, they don’t actually sell hygiene kits – at least not that I’m aware of. I had to build my own. So I bought a school box for fifty-nine cents and loaded it full of goodies. You may be wondering why my box is pink. Well, apparently, girls don’t need school supplies as much as boys. Because the Retnec Repus Tram Law shelves are loaded with thousands of these pink pencil boxes. They don’t have any other colors. Not that I care what color my hygiene box is. I can decorate it with markers and stickers at a later date.

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Ending the Week Right

Weeks to me are like grass. I insult (or cut down) my grass once a week. But it keeps springing right back up. So too are my weeks. I keep ending them and nailing down the lid with drinking massive amounts of alcohol, but new ones just keep popping back up and sending me back to work. And this was a short week, since I took off Monday. And last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Well, in fact, that long vacation made this short week feel like an eternity. How am I supposed to be expected to want to be at work?

Anyway, I thought I’d write a quick note about the kick ass phone call I got as soon as I arrived in Florida last week. A publisher called me and said they were publishing a short story of mine, and said furthermore that they were very, very, very, very interested in my second novel. Yes, he did say the word ‘very’ four distinct times. Which excited me quite a bit. So you are looking at the next published author! Well, maybe not the next one. Someone might get published in the next couple of days. But definitely one of the next ones. Pretty cool, huh? I know, it took long enough.

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Copperwound Chronicles Vol. 3

Here in the last week, my band has spent fifteen hours in the studio, recording cuts from our second album. We’re really knocking them out, too. We’ve recorded three complete tracks for the album in that relatively short amount of time. We also recorded a fourth song, which won’t be on the album. It’s a promotional thing for an event planning company. So technically, we’ve recorded four complete songs in fifteen hours. But let me tell you a little bit about what goes on in the studio.

People all the time ask if they can come hang out with us while we’re recording. Somewhere remote in their minds, I think people associate music studios with cocaine and strippers. It’s a helluva good time, all of us hanging out, snorting off their bellies and popping champagne into the air, confetti everywhere, a big wild orgy. It’s off the hook! But yeah, no, yeah, it’s really not like that. Continue reading…

Not a Happy Customer

If there’s one thing I hate more than slamming my finger in a rusty door, or stepping on a squeaky nail, it’s got to be incompetence in customer service. When I’m in a store inquiring about a product, your sales staff should know the answers to all my questions. Whatever happened to training the employees on the merchandise they are selling? When I worked in the Wal Mart Photo Lab, I took time every day to stand there reading the boxes of all the cameras. I learned what the best features were on every one of them, and was able to effectively compare and discuss intelligibly the best options for the customer. So if I go into Best Buy or Circuit City, why can I not expect someone working in the television department to do the same thing?

There’s nothing I hate more than asking someone a very specific question and having them look at the damn tag. Dude, I can do that myself. And already have. For instance, yesterday, I was in Micro Center, picking up an IDE/SATA I/O controller board for my home PC. I’ve troubleshot the problem down and determined that the root cause must be a bad IDE controller on my mother board. And since the computer I built is around three years old now, it’s a little outdated. It’s still a bad ass machine. I have a Pentium 4, and a good amount of RAM. But you know how quickly technology upgrades and supersedes itself. So my point is that it’s hard to find a socket 775 mother board that still supports the type of memory sticks I have. DDR2 is the new thing.

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The Coolest Places I’ve Worked

Being an unruly and independent sixteen-year-old means you don’t take shit from anyone. Or in the parlance of the age, you don’t take shit from no one. Ever. You do as you please. You wake when you want. You go to school if you feel like it. You listen to your parents if it suits you – because obviously you know better than they… How the hell should they know what it’s like to be alive in the 80s as a teenager? They were teens in like the 50s and shit. Trust me, Pop. You just don’t understand.

It also means you have to work in as many jobs as you can fit between your sixteenth and your nineteenth birthdays. Seriously. I didn’t quit because I got sick of places. Actually yes, I did. But I was going to say that I quit because I was ready for something new. I wanted to experience it all. And both are true. How long can you work at Skaggs bagging groceries before you begin to believe you could manage the store yourself? It can’t be rocket science, dude. That’s why you, Mister Store Manager, only make like thirty grand a year. When I grow up, I’ll make twice what you make in my spare time. I’m sixteen, all powerful, hear me roar.

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The Secret to Success

Space & KineticIt was nice having Kimbre in town for a day – even though she had almost nothing positive to say about our fair city. I only got to see her for a few hours, though I’m betting she was at it for most of the duration of her stay – stopping only to sleep. I’m sure I’d notice a stink too, were I to leave for a time and return. But I’m also betting that I’d sneeze my ass off in ‘fresh mountain air’. Because where there are mountains, there are pines. And where there are pines, there are pine needles that make me sneeze like an angry Indian.

Speaking of Indians, I think I’ve finally found the way to make a shit load of money, expending as little energy as possible. It’s pretty simple, really. But let me first outline the other ideas I’ve had before. First of all, you want a business that doesn’t require disposable stock, like cups and hot dog canoes, because you have to order that shit. And our goal here is to do as little as possible, and make as much money as possible. Remember? Okay. So the first idea I had was a bowling alley. You buy all the balls and pins and equipment and people come use it. None of it really goes away, and you just pay for maintenance and upkeep. All you do is spray shoes while you sit on your ass.

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No Such Addressee…

Kimbre’s column reminded me of something that happened during my time in the military. I worked in the Logistics Group, in the HQ building smack dab in the middle of the base. High profile, dress blues, etc. So there’s typically a lot of high-ranking traffic breezing through those hallways. Well our shop code was (I’m going to make one up so as not to divulge the actual code) 7LGCX. The base hospital’s was 7LGXC. We took a delivery for the hospital.

It’s not that they labeled it correctly and the mail carrier dropped it in the wrong building. They labeled it incorrectly, so it was actually addressed to us. This happened quite frequently too, like once every few weeks or so. Anyway, we got a large cold crate one time, sealed and insulated with dry ice cells. Not the kind of shipment we generally receive, but we opened it. After the fog cleared, I pulled the sheet of insulation plastic off the top of the contents pack and stared aghast at a crate full of human body parts.

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The New Rules of Tipping

Seriously. Where did we get these rules of ettiquette for tipping anyway? It’s all a bunch of hogwash if you ask me. We’re told that fifteen percent of the total cost of the meal is a good standard. Twenty is better. Some people tip only the taxable amount, some people tip on the entire ticket, blah blah blah. All hogwash. Let me tell you my rules of tipping. Feel free to print this out and replace your tipping calculator with it. It will save you a lot of money.

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Byron Nelson Breeds Breastviewing

It’s my sister’s birthday today. She turned thirty this morning around soap opera time. Thirty. You know how old that makes me? Damn. Because if she’s getting older, that means I’m getting older. It’s slightly depressing that half my life ago she snuck me into my first Ten Hands concert. I was fifteen then. A whole lifetime has passed since then. And that’s just plain crazy.

We’ve got Stella the Star Seeking Student trapped in ice this week, which is why she has been idle. Not to fear though. She said something really disturbing occurred to her last night, and she will be writing about it. I’m excited about it, as it’s a pretty good story.

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Men Will Be Men

I just got into a “heated debate” with a girl friend of mine about the essence of a men’s club. She can’t stand topless dancers, and has no respect for them. Thinks it’s a bad deal for men to go to them. Thinks lowly of the men who go to them too. Has no respect for them. Well who the hell said anything about respect?

While I can think of several other places I would rather have gone for my bachelor party last Saturday night, and several reasons for each, I didn’t have the great providence of being my own best man. Thus I didn’t plan my own bachelor party. And we went to a titty bar. I didn’t object. I am a man. I like titties. (Tell me you didn’t know that.) Plus, it was my party.

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I should really be moving.

We close Friday. We start moving Saturday. That is, of course, after the former owners of the house actually move out. They start moving on Saturday, so as per our contract, they will be leasing the house from me for one day. Would it not make sense to save everybody the time and money, and just move the hell out on the day of closing? I despise the thought of moving boxes in while they are moving boxes out. Therefore I will be waiting until they finish before I move my boxes in. Eff all that. My luck, they would be grabbing the boxes I just brought in and moving them out. So I’ll wait. The pain in the major ass is that that leaves me with only two full days to move everything from my apartment in Carrollton to my house in Flower Mound. Two days may seem like a long time to you, but I will present the following arguments in contradiction:

  • I have a lot of shit.
  • The second day of my two days to move is a Monday. No one else can or will get off that day to help. I will be moving by myself.
  • I have a lot of shit.
  • I still haven’t packed.
  • I have a lot of shit.

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Tina Fey: The New Sex Object

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. Or if you don’t celebrate Christmas I hope you enjoyed your holidays. Of course, my opinion is that if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you shouldn’t get the holiday. You should have to work. Why give someone a free day when they don’t celebrate it? People always seem to whine about getting the day after or before Easter off, but they don’t even believe in Jesus. What gives? Anyway, I had a great Christmas. Glad to be back at work though, let me tell you. It sucks being away from work for so long. It’s like my oxygen. It runs through my veins.

You know who I think is sexy? Take it or leave it, but I think Tina Fey is on the rise. She is the chick from Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update. I think those thick-framed black glasses and messy hair are in. The librarian type chick is definitely sexy.

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