Saturday, May 29, 2004

Game Over Man

Here are the totals:

Derek: 9
Kari: 8
Jenn: 7
Wendy: 7
John has: 6
Heather: 5
Debra: 5
Collin: 1

And there you have it. Thank you again to everyone who participated. I enjoyed seeing what each of you came up with.

I hope everyone had fun with it, and if anyone has a suggestion that would make the game more interesting, please leave it in the comments section.

I hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend, and to anyone visiting from outside of the USA, take Monday off. You deserve it. You know you do.

Friday, May 28, 2004

New look.

Well, only new header. Keep or revert?

Thursday, May 27, 2004

How to make friends by Telephone

Contact Sheet

This is pretty cool, I feel. Thanks to 'Boing Boing' for the link. Glub-glub-mo-blon!

Let the Game Begin!

Here are the five words:


Best of luck and I look forward to seeing what people come up with.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

The point of the reason for the thing of the stuff, see...

What I'm trying to say is that I never actually got to the point of yesterday's post. I'll bet you think I did, but no, I didn't.

See, some people seem to be of the school of thought that when they write they have a destination in mind and they work on arriving at that destination. They'll go back and refine what they've done, but overall they stick to a course.

I TRY to do that, really I do. I just get distracted along the way and wind up in Watts. Like the whole "Catching a Cop" story that I told. I was going to end it with something like, "How come nobody told me they carry guns and radios?" to tie it in with the earlier "Police Auction" story. But I just never got there. Instead I wound up bludgeoned to death in an alley, which in itself I thought was interesting but it just wasn't where I had planned on ending.

So... what was my point? Oh. Right.

I was going to mention that I am an avid gamer, if by "avid" you mean "rabidly psycho about".

Back in the day of steam powered modems and local BBSs there wasn't really much offered online that would qualify as a game. So we had to make our OWN fun. You kids have it EASY now, what with your Dragon Gamez and your Albino Blacksheep. And don't even get me STARTED about XBox Live! (wheee!) We had to WORK to have fun!

And all we had were these little things called ASCII characters. They were like the Lego™ of the BBS gaming world. Everything you wanted to play with had to be made from these things. Even the porn! Amazingly versatile things, ASCII.

One BBS I frequented didn't have a chat room. Instead it made due with a forum. Me being who I am, I came up with a fun game that I would like to include here for nostalgia's sake. That's something we old people do when we realize that the years have been cruel and we would like to recapture the "good old days" to the obvious delight of our children. Heh. Anyway.

Here's how it works. I'll post a list of five random words and if you would like to participate what you do is in the comments make a story using as many of the five words as you can. The rules are as follows:
1) The entire story must fit in a single comment. No multi-parters. This also limits you to 1000 characters since I'm a cheap bastard and won't upgrade my comments account.
2) The story must make some kind of sense. If it makes no sense you lose 3 points. No sandbagging.
3) You will get 1 point per word you use the first time you use it (5 points total).
4) You also get 1 point per vote you get from other commenters. You can't vote for your own story no matter how brilliant it is.
5) The first 24 hours after I post the words are for people to create their stories. After that point I'll post a comment that it's time to vote. 24 hours will be allowed for voting and then I'll post the results.
6) There is no rule 6. Yet.

Since I don't get the kind of traffic that the BBS got 13 years or so ago (cry), this may not be as much fun as I remember. But we'll see. I'll post the first words on my next update.

And... I seem to have actually, for the most part, stuck to my point. Yay me!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Back in my day...

...we didn't HAVE this "interweb" doohicky. I used to connect to local BBSs using a 1200 baud external modem on my Apple IIc, both ways. Uphill!

A "BBS", in case you've never heard of it, is a Bulletin Board Service (or "System". I can't remember. I'm OLD! Leave me alone.) Back in those days only the more expensive ones offered anything close to a chat room from what I can recall, and you had to purchase credits that were burned off while you were connected. There were some free systems that you could connect to, like the library. But you had to have the phone numbers. It was a chaotic, but simpler time.

One of the services I subscribed to was called Electric Dreams. One day while in a chat room I saw this guy by the name of El Guano. Or El Guappo. Something like that. Anyhow, "El" was bragging to the ladies about his graphic designing gig. I had been going to school for a degree in graphic design and I was curious how he went about getting a job actually in the field here in Colorado Springs. So I messaged him, asking for the details, and he brushed me off. He was only there for the chicas, and didn't have the time nor interest to "talk shop."

Now, the only reason this rude person sticks in my mind after all this time is a few years later I ran into him again. In person.

I had taken a job as a compositor at the local newspaper as a foot in the door to something better (hah.) I didn't get the graphic designer degree due to stupid "rules" about attendance mattering more than GPA at the school I was commuting to in Denver (a whole other story), so I took what I could get.

After a couple months I had the job down cold (the time I cut my thumb tip off was a fluke) and was looking with longing eyes towards getting a position in the actual art department. Well, okay, not the "actual" art department. That was upstairs in the newsroom area. I was willing to settle (hah) for a position in the advertising art department. There weren't any opening though, so I pressed on where I was.

I'm not sure what brought "El" to my attention. I'm pretty sure it was someone else in the compositing department complaining about how rude he was. I asked who he was and the woman (odds are it was a woman) said something like, "Oh, he's one of those "artists" in the ad art department. His name is Derek Knight. He's also a DJ for the oldies station. I hate him." Or something similar.

When I got home after my shift (I worked nights for freaking EVER) I mentioned him to my (now, not then) ex because she liked listening to the oldies station and I thought she might have heard of him. She said, "That's El Guappo! Remember, the guy on Electric Dreams that wouldn't talk to you because you weren't a chick?" (okay, again, I'm probably not remembering verbatim. I'm more of a gestalt guy.)

So, the next night when I had some free time I dropped by the ad art department and looked him over. Huh. Okay. So I asked him if he had ever been on Electric Dreams. He got a strange look on his face like, "Who the fuck IS this?" But he admitted that he had been there as "El". I told him that I was on there as Spectre and we had some laughs about the people we knew from there.

Eventually, I did wind up in the ad art department and we worked together for a few years. Then he left the Gazette. Then a few months later he called me and talked me into applying at Graham. I hated the Gazette with a passion so I said sure, why not. It took two interviews to get hired (the first time Sarah thought I was lying about my speed, and it took Derek a whole lot of pestering to convince her to give me another chance.) And here we are, four more years later, still around each other.

The moral of the story? The only one I can think of is this: Life is fucking weird at times. And El Guappo digs the chicks.

Monday, May 24, 2004

My Son the Wanabe Cliff Diver.

This weekend I took my kids and my brother to Palmer Park. Locals know what that park is like, but for those who aren't from around here I'll give it a few lines of description. It's a big, essentially wild park filled with pine tress and sandstone rock formations. Some of those formations are essentially cliffs 20-30 feet high or so (I've never measured and I've never fallen off, but they seem that high).

I spent a few of my teenage years living right next to the park. In the Summer I would practically live in it, swarming over the rocks, looking for creatures, climbing the cliffs and essentially daring God to injure me for life or kill me. Amazingly I think the worst that ever happened is I slipped while halfway up a cliff (tennis shoes are crap for rock climbing it would seem) and I got one hell of a scrape up my side from the sandstone on the way down. I never broke a bone there.

So, this outing was for me to go tripping down memory lane as well as getting the kids outdoors to possibly rid them of their TV tans.

We parked at the apartment complex that I used to live in and I barely recognized anything. A lot has changed, I'm getting old, etc.

On our way in my sharp-eyed son spotted a lizard sitting on a rock right by the path we were taking. We spent a minute trying to catch him, but he was too fast. He booked across the path into some bushes and that was that. It was just as well, since we didn't have anything to keep him in. I asked everyone if they thought his lizard friends would make fun of him when he told them about how he was nearly abducted by giant aliens, but they just rolled their eyes at me.

My daughter is insanely independent and didn't want to hold my hand until she slid a few feet down the path. Then she realized that perhaps holding my hand wasn't such a bad idea. My brother led the way while my son followed.

As we wound through the rocks I was telling them stories from my time playing in the park when I realized, "Oops. I forgot the unwritten parental rule to never let your children know you had fun when you were a child. Especially if it is fun that you don't let them have." So... I pretty much shut up, explaining that it was because I was old, fat and out of breath, but I could tell the damage was done by the gleam in their eyes.

After about 15 minutes of wandering around in a downhill direction we started to loop back up and around. At one point we had a real good view across the park from the top of one set of cliffs and my son loved it. He kept saying he wanted to come back to the park more often.

Halfway back to where we had entered the park we stopped so I could dump some rocks out of my daughter's shoe. It happened to be at the top of a 15 foot cliff. My brother went to the edge and sat down with his legs dangling off. See, he has no fear. He plays hockey. And he's 17, so of course he's immortal. I was concentrating on my daughter and her shoe so I was only slightly aware when my son walked over to my brother and asked him if he could sit there to. Trevor said something like, "Sure, just be careful." He was right at the edge when I looked over at him and as he was sitting down he started to wobble in preparation for pitching headfirst off the edge. I started to move for him but I was at least six or seven feet away. Thankfully, Trevor was right there and aware of what was happening. He was able to grab him and pull him back.

Nothing bad happened the rest of the trip out. We looked around a bit for the lizard but he was nowhere to be found. Then we went to a normal park where my daughter was able to cut loose from me and have some real fun.

(I had no time to proof and revise this, so... sorry if it sucks overmuch.)

Friday, May 21, 2004

A Rolling Donut.

Okay. The whole "lead a cop down a dark alley into a waiting burlap bag" plan didn't quite work as I had intended. The donut trail worked like a charm though. I only had to wait about an hour before a silhouette appeared at the mouth of the alley. He approached cautiously, almost timidly, glancing around as he gathered in the donuts. I could tell by his sizable bulk that I had a keeper. And that I should have brought a wheelbarrow. Oops. Oh well, what could I do? I tightened my grip on the club and raised it over my head as he drew near.

The closer he got, the larger I realized he was. This wasn't just a mere traffic cop that I had lured in, it was easily a desk sergeant. Perhaps even a chief! When he was down to the last donut I knew I would never be able to fit him in the bag, even if I was able to render him unconscious. But I had committed myself.

In my inexperience I had chosen a dead end alley, and he would see me at any moment. I knew there was no way I would be able to take him down. My only chance would be to stun him long enough to slip past and make a break for the safety of the street.

As he rose from picking up the last donut I brought the club down in a two handed smash! But he must have heard my ragged breathing or somehow smelled my fear. He moved with a speed that belied his massive bulk and dodged aside so that my strike merely glanced off his right arm, scattering the gathered donuts the length of the alley. He let out a bellowing, "WHATHAFUCK!" that was filled with a mixture of rage, pain and surprise. I dropped my club and ran for all I was worth.

Unfortunately for me, I'm fat and out of shape, so I'm really not worth much. I only made it to within ten feet of the street before I was bent over, panting and wheezing, feeling as though my heart was about to pop. I couldn't make it another step and I heard the bull cop closing in behind me. It was over for me. The last thing I saw before being pummeled to death was a lone donut rolling out of the alley.

Be safe little rolling donut. At least one of us made it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

My Little Boy is Growing Up

Okay, he's 11 years old. On Friday he finishes elementary school and will be moving on to middle school. He's already about an inch taller than my mom. But the biggest indication I've had that he was growing up came last night.

I was showing him how to play interactive fiction games (text adventures) on my computer at home. He wasn't all that jazzed about it, but he gave it a shot (too much typing, he said) with my insistence. I left him playing one where he was trapped in a cave (not Zork) while I went to make dinner.

I heard some sounds of frustration coming from my room, so I went to investigate. He told me "I tried 'go forward', 'up', 'down', everything I can think of but I can't leave this room!" I quickly scanned the list of things he had tried and about five down was 'fuck'. That's it. No real context (like "fuck this for a lark, I'm off!", or "fuck the darkness"), just an exclamation of frustration.

My eyes widened. His eyes widened. I pointed to it on the screen while looking at him. He stammered out "I'm sorry". I told him that I realize that he knows those words (with me as a dad, how could he not?) but I would prefer that he not use them until he's older. He agreed, but really I have no idea what goes on in his life when I'm not there. It's kinda scary.

If a tree falls in a forest but there is nobody around to hear it does it make a sound? It does. It sounds like "fuck!"

Yep. My little boy is growing up.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Looking at local news - LOCAL NEWS

Real fast, a few of the paragraphs I found interesting and what I have to say:

'A ballot initiative campaign launched Monday seeks to ask voters Nov. 2 to raise the state's cigarette tax from 20 cents a pack currently, the second-lowest in the nation, to 84 cents, about the national average.'
Keep in mind, we currently have the second-lowest tax rate in the nation. This will come into play shortly. Also, the increase will bring us up to the national average, not the highest in the nation.
'Backers say the 64-cent increase would limit teen smoking by making the habit prohibitively expensive. Further, as proposed, it would raise money for cancer-screening, children's health care and smoking prevention programs gutted by state budget cuts. '
Uh. Yeah. 64¢ is all it will take to straighten out those smoking teens. They can't POSSIBLY afford an extra two quarters, a dime and a nickel (with a penny back for the next pack) to make the shakes stop. Quick fix, no problem. I do approve of the organizations that will benefit from the extra money the teens will be shelling out however.
'Opponents say the tax would be excessive and would unfairly hinder legal cigarette sales to adults.'
What I said about teens being unable to pay the new price, ditto for the employed adults. Yes, it will suck, but what doesn't these days? Before long smokers will have to decide which they would rather have: cigs or gas. "If I buy the smokes I can't get the gas to drive to work and I'll have to walk, which will probably kill me since my lungs have the air capacity of a ping pong ball. If I get the gas I'll probably get nicotine shakes halfway to work, crash and die. Decisions, decisions..."
'"It's a bad tax because it's a moralistic tax - a bunch of religious anti-smokers beating up on smokers for their lifestyle," said Jon Caldara, president of the free-market Independence Institute in Golden.'
...while sucking on his fifth cuban cigar that day, fresh from flogging his pool boy Eduardo, dressed as Betty Page and looking dead sexy! Okay, I made that part up. But seriously; smoking is a lifestyle? I thought it was publicly sanctioned drug abuse. Or at best, a hobby. Speaking as a non-religious, non-smoker I would be happy if the price of cigs went up $10 a pack. THAT would make it prohibitive, excessive and unfair and possibly get it out of the reach of teens, forcing them to turn to something more affordable. Like pot, or crack.
Jamie Drogin, spokeswoman for Philip Morris USA, predicted the tax hike would trigger an increase in illegal activity such as knock-offs, cigarettes hauled into Colorado from states with lower tobacco tax and reimported cigarettes made for overseas sales.

"It negatively impacts Philip Morris and the state, and can run counter to the state's efforts to keep teens from smoking," she said.
Okay, this is where the stat from earlier comes into play. Currently, we are the second-lowest in the nation when it comes to the cost of cancer sticks. So, up until now WE were one of two states the cheap cigs were being hauled out of for all those poor bastards in the expensive states. That was probably (just conjecture here, nothing actionable) very profitable for Philip Morris et al. Being centrally located (relatively) I imagine it was pretty easy to get the cigs from here to where they could be sold for a higher, yet competitive price. I don't know what state is the cheapest, but I imagine their tourism will benefit if nothing else.

IF this goes through we will be AT the national average, not the most expensive but not the second cheapest either, and doom shall rain down on our filthy heads. Like it did all those other states that flesh out the average. Rioting, looting and raping will be upon us. Or, at the very least some heartfelt pissing and moaning.

Also, just knowing that it will negatively impact Philip Morris wins my vote.

Plus, having a rep from PM voice concern for the state's efforts to keep teens from smoking is like hearing a serial rapist say the parks need more lighting. I don't buy it. I mean, HOW can it run counter to the state's efforts to keep teens from smoking? "I wasn't going to start smoking, but now that it costs more I'VE SIMPLY GOT TO!"
And finally: "Backers hope the tax will keep 1,500 of the estimated 10,800 Colorado kids who start smoking each year from taking up the habit."
Wow. That many huh? I guess the idea here is baby steps. And where do they get their estimates, and how will they determine the results? Or even determine if the tax hike is the cause of the results? Maybe this year more kids will realize that it tastes like ass, makes their clothes stink, fingers turn yellow, and just not be worth it no mater what their goofy-ass, minimum wage bound peers say. If I were a backer, as long as I was just "hoping", I would hope that all of them wouldn't start. I mean, fuck it. It's just a hope.

The point is, there is more to keeping kids from starting to smoke than fiddling with the price and it's the adults who are going to be most pissed about a tax hike.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Army gunning for game players | CNET

Army gunning for game players | CNET

'Beginning the second year of its experiment in using free, custom-built PC games to give young people a taste of military life, the Army is finding the games to be not only spectacularly popular but a uniquely powerful promotional tool.

Chris Chambers, deputy director of the "America's Army" project, said in an interview at the E3 gaming trade show here that prospective soldiers who contact Army recruiters after playing the game have a better follow-through rate than any other form of advertising or promotion.

"It's a much more efficient and effective vehicle for the Army to provide information to young people than the other media we use," Chambers said.

And game players may well turn out to be better soldiers, based on recent academic research that shows regular game-playing boosts certain visual-spatial abilities. "There's a very high level of visual acuity in game players that's different than nonplayers," Chambers said. "They're good at focusing on specific things in a chaotic environment, which is an important skill in a lot of Army situations." '

So, there you go. I have two children (4 & 11) who are dedicated gamers. This could get interesting.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Police Auction

I was going to go to the police auction this weekend. You never know when it might be handy to have a cop around. Even a used one. I was hoping to get one with shootout experience and possibly some hostage negotiating skills. Or maybe one with some contacts in vice. That can be handy too.

But then I found out they don't auction police, they auction vehicles. And not even police vehicles. It's seized and abandoned vehicles. Talk about false advertising. So, screw that.

I guess I'll just have to resort to plan two. A dark alley, a trail of donuts, a club and a burlap bag. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Just a reminder...

My act is not together.

Kokeeno (koh•key•no), the imaginary troublemaker.

My four year old daughter, Jordyn, has a new friend. An imaginary friend named Kokeeno. Well, I say "new" but she's been talking about Kokeeno for the better part of four months or so. I think she showed up around Jordyn's birthday in January. Hidden in the cake or something.

Actually, I believe 'Kokeeno' was originally the name she gave to her stuffed raccoon that she used to carry everywhere. Somehow the personality that developed with the name managed to detach from that toy so it is no longer necessary to have at hand in order to play.

Anyhow, she is mentioned at least once a day. Some days she is Jordyn's teacher and has assigned her homework, that "I simply MUST get done before I can go to bed, Daddy!". Other days she is someone to argue with on Jordyn's toy cell phone. Most often however she is a playmate that "suggests" various things that usually get Jordyn in trouble. Like getting something down from the top of the tall bookshelf, flooding the bathroom, sneaking a bag of potato chips from the kitchen or smacking her 11-yr old brother in the back of the head. Kokeeno causes problems.

It's getting to the point where I may have to tell her she can't see her anymore.

Have any of you reading this had experiences with imaginary friends?

Monday, May 10, 2004

The Weekend is Over...

so now it's time to post. However, the weekend wasn't apparently enough of a break for me to have recovered from the previous week. Or year. Or however the hell long I've been feeling like this. Right now I feel as though I never left work. I even dreamed last night about building ads all night long. One of those dreams where everything keeps shifting around and I feel as though it would be easier to tickle a shadow than get something finished ("I swear I just changed that info box!"). A dream that makes me WISH it was one of those naked in public dreams instead. Basically, a stress induced dream.

It's times like this that I feel schizophrenic. Through one mindset I can look at the situation and see that it really isn't that much worse now than it's ever been, and there have even been times in the past when it WAS worse. That would be the submissive mindset at this point however. The dominant mindset is the one that feels constantly like everything is crumbling around me. My shoulders start to tense up from the moment I wake up and stay that way all day. I react poorly to almost any situation that I find myself in. And I know that I am doing it, I just can't seem to stop.

I also know that this is something that cycles, so if I can hold out long enough I will be fine. But it's hard to hold out. I felt an almost overwhelming urge to walk out earlier for something that shouldn't have even phased me, and yet that knowledge doesn't make the feeling go away. To be honest it's still there, hovering beneath the surface waiting for it's chance to emerge again. The good news is that I am not a violent person, so if I do break down and walk out, it won't be over the smoking bodies of my coworkers.

So. Happy Monday all. Here we go again.
"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."