Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Change I can't believe in

The news that Mike Shanahan had been fired came across the wire as I was stuffing my face full of peanut butter chocolate christmas tree. I'm not one to shock easily, but some tree nearly fell out of my mouth before I realized it was hanging open. I've heard all the reasons why he had to go from the fair-weather Bronco fans, and they're all complete and utter BS. Strip him of the VP of Operations role if you must, but in the end there is no better head football coach out there right now than Shanny. Did he fail to challenge a play he should have? Did he forget to watch film of the Chargers last week? I'm pretty sure he knows which way the wind is blowing and when to defer the overtime coin toss unlike Jeff Fisher. The bottom line is this a mistake and there isn't someone better out there to replace him.

My lasting image of Coach Shanahan will always be from Super Bowl 33 - watching him on the sidelines, pouring over the photos of the Falcons defense. He goes over to the bench with Elway and shows him what he's seeing, and he's saying "it's going to be wide open!". Morten Anderson misses a chip-shot field goal, and on the very next play Elway loads it up and throws an 80 yard bomb to Rod Smith for the touchdown that effectively ended the game. He earned his title of "Mastermind" and a few first round-draft-pick-defensive-busts will never change that. I wish him the best of luck in whatever he decides to do next, and sincerely hope that he goes to the Lions or something and has them in the Super Bowl in three years time. Maybe then Bronco-nation will realize it just made a pretty big mistake.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas in the Carolinas

We've returned from a trip to Charlotte and Greenville (Greer, technically) where we spent time with our respective Mom's and saw the Broncos get pummeled by the Panthers. I have to say that it's a lot more fun to spend all that money and drive all that way when your team wins, but it was good to spend time with family that we don't get to see nearly enough....anyway, some pics from the trip (as a lowly Pre-Press droid, I can of course only afford tickets in the nosebleeds...) for your inspection....

A little orange and blue in a sea of teal...the baby had his/her jersey on as well!

Just before the opening kickoff (the highlight of the game)

Jay Cutler brings the Broncos offense to the line...

And goes back to pass...

A lonely Mastermind...

My mother-in-law's new place. There's something about a house on a hill...

Allison after opening the BEST PRESENT SHE'S EVER RECEIVED!!!

Seagulls invade Lake Robinson, near my Mom's new house...

My Mother and my only sibling, K'Ehleyr (K-lar). Yes, K'Ehleyr.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A day in the life of Okatie Park

A few photos taken with my new Nikon D60 - yes, in addition to doing my part to stimulate the economy, I'm stocking up on gadgets now. I'm told that once the baby comes you spend your money solely on it and nothing else. Not sure how my gadget addiction will play into that....we'll see.


The tallest current member of the rose garden Allison planted a while back


A rose by any other name...


Ady stands guard in the front yard, ready to defend us from evil pine cones...


Vultures hovering overhead, perhaps sensing the end of a newspaper career?


The back gate at night...


A car drives down Old Bailey Road...


The stars behind our house...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

HOLY CRAP!!!

As noted by my lovely wife, on or around June 17th, 2009 there will be another Bonner in the world. I had always said that I didn't want to have children until I was over thirty, which seemed like a good idea during my twenties until I actually passed right on by thirty this past March and realized I was out of time. Still, much like buying a computer if you wait and wait and wait until the time is right you'll probably never buy one. My emotions range from happy and excited to scared poo-less over how we're going to pay for this bundle of joy with uncertain (to say the least) futures at both our places of employment. Overall though, when I see things that I can now buy like this and this I'm not nearly as afraid of the sleepless nights and dirty diapers as I was before. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go register a couple of domains for the little Padawan to come....one less thing for the kid to have to worry about when they grow up!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Last wishes

Tonight I attended the memorial service for the husband of one of my staff members who passed away last Sunday after a fight with Pancreatic cancer. The service was held in a Bluffton church, and the Reverend didn't miss the chance to tell everyone there how they'd better get right with God. It would have been nice if this dude had realized it was Thursday and not Sunday, saved the sermon and respected that many people there weren't there for God but to pay their respects. Anyway, while I was sitting there apparently punching my one way ticket to Hell, I began thinking about my own funeral. Allison knows my wishes, but just in case she's not able to carry those out, I thought I'd put it here on the blog so that there wouldn't be any question because I seriously don't want to end up in a place like where I was tonight....

First off, I want my memorial service to be a big party. I want everyone there making fun of me and swapping stories and just celebrating my life - and as such, here are the particulars: it can be held at the Packet (since that's probably what will end up killing me anyway) in the Production conference room. I want Empire Strikes Back playing on the plasma TV (on Blu-Ray, if it's out by then - don't worry, I'm sure I'll have bought it), and everyone gets a Lightsaber when they walk in the door. Everyone. No exceptions. There needs to be a nice jazz band - something with a piano and cello and drums, and someone get Lisa Roti down here. She loves it on Hilton Head (she told me so), so it shouldn't cost too much but whatever she wants, pay it - she's worth it. Now, as for the food this one's pretty easy - whoever is coming from Savannah can pick up the Popeye's. Lots of cajun mashed potatoes and red beans and rice. And biscuits. MANY, many biscuits. Have some honey on hand cuz they never seem to have any.

As for my physical remains, I want to be cremated of course, and I'd like my ashes spread all over Invesco Field. I would have preferred they be spread over Mile High Stadium, but since that's a parking lot now it kind of loses something. Still, I can't think of any other place I'd rather spend my time - and when you see some Chargers wide receiver trip and fall when he's wide open, you'll know that was me :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Dangerous

That's the only thing you can say about having an Arby's now open in Bluffton. Long my favorite fast food joint (there was one right across the street from my high school), this couldn't have come at a worse time. Work has been a bitch lately....been drinking a lot of Mt. Dew to keep sane....gained two pounds....now this. Yikes. I mean, just look at it. Is it lunch time yet?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mmmm....geeky

For some time, I've been keeping an eye on the Sub-Notebook or "Netbook" market, hoping against hope that Apple would decide to get in the game. After the last MacBook event in October when it became clear that they had no interest in it (at least at this time) I decided to take the plunge. I went with the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, and after a rather lengthy wait, it finally arrived on Tuesday. I opted to save money and get the version with the Ubunto Linux distro on it, figuring that from everything I'd read it was a mature OS and I should be able to do what I wanted with it. It didn't take me 5 minutes to discover that I was wrong - when I got the Mini home, she refused to connect to my internal Wi-Fi network. The problem stemmed from the fact that in the wi-fi setup in Ubuntu, you are required to enter in a password to connect. Well, what if you don't use a password? There were options for WEP, WPA, etc., etc., but no "none" option. This, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with Linux - I can easily imagine the dude who wrote that particular line of code thinking to himself "well, everybody should use a password on a wi-fi network, so they don't need a option for no password". Sorry, Linux dude, hiding the SSID will keep 98% of interlopers off my network, and MAC address filtering will keep out the other .9%. SO with that in mind, I decided to do what I had been thinking about doing anyway - getting rid of its Linux OS and installing OS X instead.

I headed out to Best Buy to pick up a USB DVD drive and some blank DVD's. Stopped at Arby's and had a large roast beef sandwich, but that's not what's important right now. Once home, I started with this guy's method, but didn't get very far. The "special slipstreamed version" 10.5 iso he used refused to let itself be burned, crashing my Vista box. I was able to burn it on my MacBook, but the Mini wouldn't boot from it at all. Feeling frustrated (no one else seemed to have this problem) and hoping that I didn't just blow a decent amount of dough on a USB DVD drive for no reason whatsoever, I headed over to the Dell Mini 9 wiki at the OSX86 project. I tried "darkten's" method, and burned the special bootloader onto CD. The Mini happily booted from it, which lifted my spirits quite a bit. Next up I entered a few commands and switched out the bootloader with a retail Leopard DVD. I won't bore you with the rest of the instructions, as it did get pretty technical, but I have to say there was only one real "sacrificing a chicken" moment. After the Leopard install fails you have to start from the bootloader again, and for some reason it just froze during that process. I remembered someone in the forums saying they had to unplug the DVD drive and plug it back in, so I did that and for some reason it came back to life. Anyway, the whole process took about 3 hours, but a lot of that was screwing with that first iso that didn't work.

So what works? Almost everything! The SD card reader won't work, nor can you successfully wake it from sleep, but other than that it's a walking, talking OS X laptop. Things have gotten a little hairy here tonight though, as after loading the Cisco VPN on it it will now kernel panic on a shutdown, though oddly only if running on battery power - it's fine if plugged in. Weird. Anywho, the final question is whether or not this is "legal". It is legal provided you own an OS X license that you're going to use. It is, however, a violation of the Apple EULA. Steve, if you're reading, given the absurd number of people in this world that I have personally switched to Macs, I think you can look the other way just this once. I have to say that I was quite proud of myself - though other people who are far more intelligent than I came up with this Hackintosh, it was still a pretty big leap for this lowly sys admin. Praise be to Mr. Yates, whose immortal words of "Morgan, don't be a restart monkey" rang in my ears every time I hit a roadblock. Translation: don't just give up - find a way to solve the problem. I'm glad I listened (this time)....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Palined

2. Palin
(v) to abandon one's principles for short term gain
Tom, a devout vegan, palined when he consumed a happy meal solely to obtain the collectible toy it contained.

Friday, November 07, 2008

How he did it

Newsweek has a fascinating look at what went on behind-the-scenes during the campaign this year on both sides. Well, fascinating for the political junkies like myself anyway....it's a long read, but well worth it.

LINK

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President-Elect Obama

Goodness gracious those are some words I've been waiting a long time to write! When I wrote about how I had decided to support him last December there was never a doubt in my mind that he would win in the end. I think that comes from the underlying faith I have in my country to always do the right thing in the end, even if we make some mistakes along the way. Admittedly it was hard to feel that way four years ago tonight, but last night right around 11PM eastern time my faith in America was restored completely.

Allison and I spent the evening at casa del Vrabel, along with some fellow Packet Dems. As Jeff explained "one way or the other, you're going to want to be around people....", and he was correct. While I was slightly freaking out when they couldn't call Virginia right away, and was the Debbie-downer who reminded everyone that 9:30 was right around the time they called Florida for Gore eight years ago, I let loose with my best Admiral Ackbar deep, deep sigh of relief when they finally put him over 270. Enjoy the related video goodness and please excuse the horrid cinematography and low light conditions.

I'm tired but very happy - now we get a few weeks off until the real fun begins....trying to solve all the problems we have facing our country. Thankfully, we just elected the right man for the job.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

For the love of GOD....

Can someone please tell Gov. Palin the Vice President HAS NO ADDITIONAL EXECUTIVE POWERS BESIDES THOSE GRANTED TO THE OFFICE BY THE CONSTITUTION. You serve at the pleasure of the President, and your only official duties are to break a tie in the Senate, and be ready to assume the office of President at a moment's notice. THAT'S IT!!! I'll let Keith take it from there....

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Barack Obama's $3 Million 'Overhead Projector' Actually Pretty Cool

From Gizmodo

During the last Presidential debate, John McCain delivered this line about his opponent with withering comtempt:

"[Obama] voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel earmark projects, including, by the way, $3 million for an overhead projector at a planetarium in Chicago, Illinois."

I'm already tired of hearing these guys talk, but that caught my ear. A $3 million dollar projector? What does that even look like? Gearlog did some digging and found out that appropriation was requested by the planetarium to replace an awesome (but obsolete) 40-year old Zeiss Mark VI star projector with a newer model (pictured above).

Anyone with a planetarium in town will remember the Mark VI from school field trips: the 2.5 ton, 1350 watt giant (pictured below) can project a dynamic image of thousands of stars and constellation onto the ceiling of a massive dome for the viewing pleasure of a reclined audience. Its replacement would be much more impressive: the Universarium Model IX, which is a $3.5 million dollar astronomical projection unit capable of accurately representing a night sky in full color and motion. Politics aside, that's not exactly your school's transparency projector. You can check out the spec sheet at Zeiss's official site.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Stuck in a rut

Over the nearly three-and-a-half years I've been posting to this blog, I've noticed that I'll go through periods of posting a lot, or barely posting at all. I'm clearly in a down cycle (almost as bad as Yates), although in my defense there's just not a whole lot going on. In fact, in thinking that I needed to post something, the only thing I could come up with was being irritated that I got my new SC license plate, and I don't like it at all. My old plate was a very easy to remember "335-PEZ" - now it's a very lame "BNH-548". Let's see, what else....the Arby's in Bluffton is almost open....that's pretty cool I guess....OH! Iron Man is out on DVD on Tuesday....w00t! Of course I should have probably saved those for Twitter. Oops.

Yeah, I got nothing. Maybe something interesting will happen this week...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Another point

Via Kos

Can someone tell me what it is conservatives are so afraid will happen if Obama wins? They sure sound angry and terrified about the prospect, but why?

It can't be that they're afraid women will be suddenly awarded the right of reproductive choice; women already have it and the GOP did nothing to change that when given the chance of a lifetime. Fuel prices have tripled under the Republican reign, they seem fine with it, and so we have to assume that that worry is not a factor in the conservative calculus. Nor can they be legitimately concerned that democrats will vastly increase federal spending, or enact horrendously expensive new entitlement programs supported by taxes socializing healthcare costs and bar the government from benefiting from the cost saving magic of the free market. Nope, those horses have all fled the barn, no use closing the door now.

Maybe they're worried democrats will be vacationing, sound asleep at the switch, while the intel community frantically tries to warn them of a vast, pending terrorist attack that could kill thousands of innocent Americans. Some might even be concerned that democrats will exploit such a tragedy for personal political gain and still fail to capture or kill the criminal masterminds that planned it. Others might speculate Obama will respond by foolishly attacking the wrong nation on a false premise and get us embroiled in a trillion dollar bloody boondoggle that wrecks out military readiness, destroys our international credibility, and gets thousands of US soldiers and untold hundreds of thousands of innocent bystanders killed or maimed for life. Worst case scenario: after all that misery and money, weak willed democrats will roll over and hand a date for US failure to the insurgents in Iraq.

Then again, maybe conservatives are thinking closer to home. What if progressive economic policies wrecked the economy, rocked Wall Street, caused hundreds of thousands of people to lose their homes and jobs, and turned over our national economic future to the tender mercies of fundamentalist Sunni Monarchs and the communist Chinese? Or expand government intrusiveness making toilet paper out of the US Constitution? Maybe, in their darkest fears, they're afraid democrats would foolishly go on vacation and ignore their responsibilities while a massive hurricane lumbers into the US coast at a slow jog and sinks a major American city.

At least one source of conservative anxiety is imminently plausible: Democrats might rescind tax breaks for companies that ship American jobs overseas, divert corporate welfare from insanely profitable corporations to uninsured or sick children, raise taxes on billionaires and oil companies, and create a more equitable healthcare system. That such possibilities strike fear into the corrupt soul of conservatism says a lot more about their decedent priorities than the middle class values of their opponents.

I guess that's what confuses a lot of voters: Conservatives are worried that Democrats might do the same astonishingly lousy job Republicans have done for the last eight years. To avoid even the possibility that that might happen, conservatives prescribe electing more members from the same crew who wrecked the country, in what is clearly to any lucid external observer the ridiculous and desperate hope that the same party will fix it all by continuing, uninterrupted, the same policies that produced the damage in the first place. In the alternate reality fabricated by the seamlessly integrated conservative PR apparatus, this extension of the failed status quo is called change, in the rest of the world it's one of the better known definitions of insanity.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The bottom line

From Chez Pazienza via The Huffington Post.....

So this is how it's going to be.

If you believe the chest-thumping coming from the McCain camp and its cadre of surrogates this morning, Sarah Palin hit it out of the park -- or at the very least, the Xcel Center -- last night in St. Paul. They're saying she killed when she mocked, in contemptuous fashion, Barack Obama's community service roots; they claim she silenced her critics by expressing solidarity with the nation's concerned and angry mothers, portraying herself as a "pit bull in lipstick" who could take any kind of heat; at the risk of mixing sports metaphors, they're smugly insisting that she put the Republican Party back in the game by throwing open the playbook of races past and pulling out an oldie-but-goodie that's never failed to bring the crowd to its feet and the base to the ballot box.

Call it the "Us vs. Them" end run.

Last night Sarah Palin -- and for that matter, most of the other Republican heavies who took the podium -- dropped all pretense of making the 2008 race for the White House about issues, choosing instead to do what the GOP does best these days: pander to the absolute lowest common denominator. Palin cast this election as nothing less than a "battle for survival," telling the frenzied crowd that "defeat means death." She dug out of the ground and whipped the corpse of the Republican base's oldest and most tired nemesis: the "liberal media," which the McCain campaign insists has unfairly savaged Palin and her family, but which, ironically, gave John McCain a free ride for so long. But best of all, and maybe most importantly when it comes to winning elections, Palin audaciously held her party up as underdogs, battling valiantly against subjugation at the hands of -- you guessed it -- the "elite."

"In small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco," she sarcastically seethed at one point, emphasizing those divisive buzzwords -- "small towns," "San Francisco" -- that act as a subliminal trigger to NASCAR America that its simple way of life is under attack from overeducated outsiders.

And if you don't think this kind of crass misdirection works -- this brand of ridiculous, over-the-top fear-mongering aimed at keeping the culture war alive and well -- just look at the last eight years.

Here's the thing though, and this needs to be said: from what we witnessed last night, this election isn't about red and blue, black and white or small town and big city. Despite the subtle innuendoes and outright cries of Palin and the Republicans, none of these things is in competition during this race.

More than ever -- really, ever -- the race for the office of President of the United States is about smart and dumb.

Sarah Palin may have scored a barnburner last night, preaching to the converted by heaping scorn upon the fact that Barack Obama has authored two books -- which only to the Stuckey's night managers that make up so much of the Republican shock troops would seem like a liability. But it doesn't change the fact that she still has no business being anywhere near the White House; she simply isn't qualified, and her I'm-just-a-hockey-mom routine last night only proved it further. Honestly, it would take an idiot to want someone who spoke as if she was running for PTA chairwoman to be placed in the second highest office in the free world, directly under a 72-year-old cancer survivor. Unfortunately though, that's exactly the voting bloc the Republicans are counting on to give them another four years in the White House after this disastrous eight: Idiots. John McCain and Sarah Palin have nothing new, no groundbreaking or landmark ideas to bring to the table, so they're falling back on standard operating procedure: rile up the ignorant; complain about the dangers of people who actually think -- the "elite"; bitch about mistreatment at the hands of the right's most necessary boogeyman -- the so-called liberal media; complain, accuse, repeat. It's bullshit political theater, with the average American used as a stage prop to keep the oligarchic fat-cats of the GOP firmly in power.

As for those who say that Sarah Palin has more "executive experience" than a Barack Obama or a Joe Biden -- that claim reinforces the need for clearer, better thinking this time around. The reality is that Palin is trying to portray "small town" chutzpah as a substitute for education, intellectual curiosity and basic, well, smarts. Obama is quite possibly the most thoughtful, erudite and analytical political candidate I've seen in my lifetime; call him "elite" -- which the last time I checked was a compliment -- all you want, he's smart. He gets it. The same can be said about Joe Biden.

As for McCain and Palin?

The former is a very bright man who -- and I'm not kidding here -- may be showing major signs of cognitive deterioration as he pushes into his 70s; the latter believes the world is 6,000 years old. (And for the record, I don't care whether you believe in a hereafter or a benevolent supreme being -- if you seriously think that the world is 6,000 years old, standing in defiance of a truth that's been proven over and over again, you're a moron and I don't want you having any sort of say in my life beyond how quickly I get my Chicken McNuggets.)

And this is what it's come down to. They've drawn the battle lines and all that's left now is for the rest of us to choose which side we're on -- because they've seen to it that there is no middle-ground.

You're with us or you're with the idiots.

You're smart or stupid.

You either want your leaders to use their brains or you align yourself with the ones who would play the role of the dumb jocks mocking those who dare to think as being a bunch of effete wimps who can't be trusted.

You vote for great minds or for people who don't just devalue great minds but demonize them.

Sarah Palin was right about one thing last night: This is a battle for survival, but defeat doesn't mean death -- it means dumb.

I don't know about you, but I don't want the two most powerful people in the free world to be a couple of folks I'd just like to sit down and have a beer with; I want them to be fucking super heroes -- sharper, stronger and wiser than I could ever hope to be. They have the weight of the world on their shoulders; I want to never have to worry that they won't be able to carry it.

But that's my choice.

Now it's your turn.

Where do you stand?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Freakin' Hurricanes....

With Hurricane Hannah currently projecting to hit somewhere near us later this week, I've begun the process of trying to decide what needs to go with Allison (who will be going to my Mom's) what needs to go with me (who will be staying/going with the Packet) and what we will leave behind should we be called to evacuate. The smallest trinket can lead to an agonizing decision - at the moment, I'm in the Bronco room looking at the photos from our trip to Denver and the game against the Chiefs two years ago that Allison had made into canvas as a Christmas present for me that are hanging on the wall. It's not like I don't have the same pictures on my various computers, and they would take up valuable space in the car. Still, I would hate to leave them - they are special to me and help to make the room what it is. Same thing with my Darth Vader coin bank, Carmello Anthony bobble-head, and my Ninja Gaiden wall scroll. I've never been that into material possessions save for my gadgets, but the thought of never seeing these things again makes me sad. I can only hope that this storm decides to go back out to sea and won't affect our lives and the lives of our neighbors. Still, as I was walking around my neighborhood tonight instead of playing a Podcast or music, I just listened to the sounds of the frogs and the subtle hum of the street lamps and the breeze to soak it in....just in case.....

Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just because it's Friday...

I now present the best opening scene of any movie ever made....assuming you've seen "The Untouchables" of course....

Monday, August 11, 2008

You don't say....

President Bush today:

"Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state.... Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century.... We have no doubts about it. This is a deliberate attempt to destroy an entire country and change the regime."

ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No time for blogging....

When there's so much video game playing to be had! Between Ninja Gaiden 2, Soul Calibur 4, and now Geometry Wars 2, there aren't enough hours in the day. To top it off, Madden '09 comes out in a week. Yikes!

Friday, July 25, 2008

No words....

Here's a fascinating article on just what lengths Bush Co. and the Military will go to just to keep images of soldiers KIA in Iraq from the public. I had to read the line “after five years and more than 4,000 American combat deaths, searches and interviews turned up fewer than a half-dozen graphic photographs of dead American soldiers” twice to make sure I had it right. There is also a slide show of the known photos that have made it out of Iraq. I'm not going to tell you you should look at it. It's your choice.

I have the utmost respect for the families of these soldiers and also can accept the Army's position of not giving the enemy an idea of their effectiveness to a point. However, I also think that every person who supported this war in the beginning, and most certainly those dead-enders who continue to think it was a good idea should look at these images – and then tell me with a straight face it was the right thing to do.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Taking my first step into a larger world....

When the Packet recently announced a round of layoffs, I felt completely helpless. As in, I do my job, I do my old job, but I don't affect anything outside the walls of the Packet building. I started to think about what I could do to help out, if anything. A few days later, for some reason it just popped into my head that during my guest appearance on the PopCast during the time they were making fun of me I defensively said something to the effect of "well screw you guys I'm going to start my own podcast...". I was joking at the time, but then I begin to think....why not start my own? But not just for the hell of it - a podcast that could eventually be monetized to help out with all problems our paper and our industry is going through right now, if only in some small way.

And so "DataPackets" was born....I wanted to name it "Packet Sniffing" (a technical term for the non-IT professionals in the audience) but thought that the show wouldn't be taken seriously. In any case, it's a weekly tech news show, where myself and the other techies at the Packet will offer commentary, reviews, tips and tricks, and in the future be able to answer reader questions (so if you have tech question....e-mail the show). My only regret is that I didn't do this sooner, and that way could have involved awesome guests like these every week.

So do me a favor and follow THIS LINK RIGHT HERE to the show's webpage. Do me a second favor and subscribe to the show in iTunes following the handy link provided on the page. Happy listening!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Because it's always worth the read....

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, -- That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. -- Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. -- And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

-- John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fired up! Ready to go!

Allison and I attended a "Unite for Change" event today in Savannah hosted by a co-worker of hers. There were over 4,000 of these events held all across the country today. Basically the idea was to meet other Obama supporters and discuss why we are supporting him and talk about our potential involvement in the campaign - everything from working the phones and beating the streets to helping with voter registration. It was a nice change of pace to be surrounded by like-minded people - compare this to my workplace, where I take incoming fire from the Conservatives in the office nearly every day (yes, I know I enjoy giving it back as good as I get it, but I'm just saying it was a nice break from the ordinary). I came away feeling as though I could certainly be doing more to help - it occurs to me that I know a lot of people through this job of mine that might not be registered. The least I could do is talk to them and make sure they know the rules and that they won't be called for jury duty if they vote! I had already registered one of my staff members who had never voted before (she wasn't allowed another day off until she did), so that's one down.....

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

So nerds are cool now? All I can say is....meh.

I am a Nerd. Geek will also suffice. Have been since 1986, the day my Father brought home the Macintosh Plus computer. I was mesmerized by that thing....the mouse...the icons....the folders - of course I had no idea at the time, but using that computer would set me down the path of nerddom for the rest of my life. So, as a practicing nerd for 22 years now, I feel uniquely qualified to talk about something that I've noticed recently and that upsets me even more than the idea of Han shooting first. It seems as though nerds have apparently become cool.

This truly is the golden age for my kind - one need look no further than a just plain awesome Iron Man movie to know that this is as good as it's going to get for us. In addition to live-action superhero movies that are actually good, we also have our own geek goddess on prime time TV in the form of Tina Fey of "30 Rock" fame, who makes statements such as "I will cut you open like a Ton-Ton!" and "BLERG!". For that matter we even have our own TV show that is actually very funny - "The Big Bang Theory". A recent Twitter post from Chicago Sun-Times columnist and all-around nerd Andy Ihnatko read "If the Big Bang Theory is our Sex in the City, which drink is our Cosmo?" A fierce debate between the Mt. Dew and Diet Mt. Dew partisans followed. We're no longer ostracized from the rest of society - so help me, I can only think of one instance in the last several years that my nerdiness has been made fun of, and that's only when people I know meet my wife for the first time and are surprised (ok, astonished) that she's really, really hot.

So in seeing my people finally arrive as it were, you'd think I'd be one happy Trekker. Sadly, I can't help but feel like there's something wrong. Yes we're still nerds and yes we're still up on the latest and greatest tech, but as the cool kids begin to rely more and more on the Intarwebs, we're now being accepted for who we are because we're needed. Gone are the days when I would be asked if I could help them set up their e-mail while they laughed behind my back at my “Every time you can haz God kills a LOLcat” t-shirt. Now I get questions from the proverbial ex-prom queens and star high school Quarterbacks such as ""Which should I use: Twitter or Plurk?"" or "When the 3G iPhone comes out, am I going to be able to unlock it and use it on Verizon?". This doesn’t make me feel useful – it makes me feel like just another drone. I cringe every time I see some awesome-looking-twenty-something checking their Facebook page - I thought the cool kids had actual friends, not virtual ones (by the way, you don't find many geeks on Facebook. We hate it with a passion - mainly because it's become mainstream).

So what is the problem exactly? I guess it all boils down to the fact that I'm still angry. When I was getting shoved up against lockers in middle school, I knew one day things would be different. I also knew that if I ever got the chance I would make their bank accounts disappear, but that's another story entirely. The very idea that the cool kid who taunted me in 9th grade Algebra class about never having had a girlfriend now probably asks for and receives help from his IT department on the weekend with hooking up his new Blu-Ray player into his home theater system makes me >>:0<<. To my fellow geeks, I would remind you of the 48th Rule of Acquisition..."The bigger the smile, the shaper the knife". We may be in an extended period of détante with the cool kids but we're not like them and never will be - and I, for one, am proud of that fact.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In for a penny....

So I just donated money to the Obama campaign for the first time today. I had said previously that I wasn't going to fork over money unless (let's face it - until) I felt that he was really getting attacked unfairly (by, you know, a Republican. I came very close to donating when Hillary was being a big jerk in March...). But his decision this week to opt-out of the public financing system stuck a cord with me on two levels. First, by relying on small donations from his supporters, he isn't spending all his time at fundraisers like McCain has to do, and that means when he's in office he owes the American people not his big campaign contributers. Second, the fake-outrage by the McCain supporters pushed me over the top. I find it to be just about the most ridiculous frickin' thing in the world that the right-wingers are pissed off that the Democrat is NOT taking taxpayer money for his campaign while the Republican is - all $85 Million of it. If they were real Conservatives wouldn't they be happy about not funding the general election campaign of their Democratic opponent?? But of course they aren't thinking along those lines - all they see is their boy currently getting blown out on the electoral college map, and have to grasp at any straws they can find to hang on. Make no mistake - the nasty stuff is on it's way. My guess is we'll see it in August as Obama continues to lead in the polls. I can only imagine what's coming (ooooohhh! Scary black person!! He's a Muslim! He hates America! He's the Anti-Christ!), but I will do all I can personally to help him fight back.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bill vs. Battletoads

In his defense, this was by-far one of the hardest levels ever created in a video game....

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A good question....

From The Kos:

OKLAHOMA CITY — Democratic Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma said Tuesday Barack Obama is "the most liberal senator" in Congress and he has no intention of endorsing him for the White House. Boren, a self-described centrist, is seeking a third term this year in a mostly rural district that stretches across eastern Oklahoma."We're much more conservative," Boren said of district. "I've got to reflect my district. No one means more to me than the people who elected me. I have to listen them." He called Obama "the most liberal senator in the U.S. Senate."

Boren still is going to vote for Obama, mind you, just not "endorse" him. Because, you know, Obama is "liberal", and that's just not an OK thing to be in the OK state.

It seems like a rather odd line for a Democrat to be taking -- clipped as it is from conservative talking points -- but I'll be honest. I can't get all that worked up about it. So, you know, whatever -- if he "votes for" Obama, but "endorses" an animated tick hiding in a Pokemon's brightly colored back fur, meh. I'm hoarding my disapprobation right now, in anticipation of Peak Outrage. Which will probably be sometime in 2009, for those of you who are following the outrage markets.


So here's my gentle question for Rep. Boren. Let's just suppose that he was right, and Obama really was "the most liberal senator" in the entire Democratic contingent -- a term magically conferred by conservatives on whatever figure wins the nomination, election after election, while hyper-mega-death-penalty-mocking-war-humping-salmon-punching-archconservative Republicans magically turn into "moderates", using those same conservatives' exact same terribly objective calculations for such things.

So let's just stipulate that someone might be "the most liberal" senator. My question for Rep. Boren, and for his Oklahoma constituents, is this: so what? So what if someone is a "liberal"?

What exactly are you afraid of?

What, will he start some wars? Will the economy go to hell? Will gasoline suddenly cost four bucks a gallon, so that getting from one end of town to the other starts to be something you have to plan for in your family budget? Oh, wait, no -- that's what conservatism has wrought. So what big, scary menace will "liberalism" rain down upon us all?

The horror of free public education? The apocalypse of affordable healthcare for families and the elderly? An energy policy that consists of something other than "hell, let's just sit on our asses and see what happens"? My God, maybe we'll have a foreign policy that doesn't revolve around sucking thousands of dollars out of your constituents' pockets, lighting all that money on fire, and using the pyre to make super-special Democracy Smores in the middle of the Iraqi desert?

What, are we afraid less American soldiers will die? That our trade deficit will be, if not reversed, at least addressed? Are Oklahomans all huddled in their closets, lest some of the now-legions of outsourced jobs start reappearing in their towns? What? What is it that is so absolutely alarming about the word "liberal" that you'd rather stomach having everything that's happened to America for the past decade continue, rather than being seen as someone who might secretly have tolerance for, shudder, that word?

Friday, June 06, 2008

I'm famous!

Well not exactly, but I was a guest this week's Popcast, a Podcast put on by my co-workers Jeff Vrabel, Liz Farrell and Tim Hager where they talk about all things pop culture. I was there to talk tech and the content delivery mechanisms of the future. I also tried (and probably failed) to explain Twitter. Anyway, check it out via iTunes here - I don't show up until the 4:40 mark, so feel free to skip the first few minutes ;)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Behold....the Obamamobile!

No, I haven't traded in the Celica, this beauty belongs to one of the Packets Ad Reps Mothers (I have no idea where all the apostrophes should go there, so you are just going to have to live without any) and she and her fiancé were kind enough to give me a ride in it today on the way to lunch. While they themselves claim to be Republican and did their best to hide (her Mother is clearly the smart one in the family) it is my belief that by the time November rolls around they will officially be "Obamacans" :)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Viva La Revolucion!

Vote for Revolution

Having tried all three new Mountain Dew flavors, I can say the only one I really like is the "Revolution" flavor. Sadly, apparently everyone else seems to currently like the "Voltage" flavor (too sweet!), so help me get my next fix of high fructose corn syrup and calories by voting for Revolution! Oh, and you should probably vote in November in that election thing too thanks....

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dreams can be meaningful

Like most people, I'm not the type to remember my dreams all that well, but I thought I'd comment on one that I had the other night, as it was short but sweet. So, in my dream I'm standing in front of a great castle (it may have been the castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail) and thinking to myself that I need to get to the top to rescue the princess. As I near the castle, I see my fellow Pre-Press droid Jody in front holding a basket of bread. She says to me "Here, take this - you'll need it" and hands me a slice of Pumpernickel. Bread in hand, I charge into the castle, ready to vanquish any who would oppose me. Sure enough, a guard in full Knight armor stands in my way - he takes a swing at me with his sword, which I manage to avoid. Then I counter by hitting him square in the face with my mighty slice of bread. He goes down like a ton of bricks. I begin to laugh hysterically, and then proceed to laugh so hard that I wake myself up laughing. I become aware that I am not in fact in the castle anymore but in my bedroom with Allison standing over me asking me why I'm laughing so hard. Tears steaming down my face, I proceed to tell her the story of my hard-fought battle with the Knight, and how I emerged victorious. She says something like "That's nice baby, have a good day" kisses me and leaves for work. I continue to laugh like a maniac for another 2 minutes or so.

So if we were to analyze this dream, what would the conclusion be? I am at a loss, but I do know that if you see me with bread in my hand you better not mess with me, or you'll be sorry.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hillary, please just go away...

Earlier Friday afternoon, Clinton told the editorial board of the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus Leader that "My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don't understand it," she said.

Done. I'm done with her. No more benefits of the doubt. No more "well politics is a rough sport" so she gets a pass when she says something nasty about a fellow Democrat, no more tolerating the vile undertone of racism with her "working white people vote for me" schtick while simultaneously calling herself the victim of sexism in the media, no more moving the goalposts as to what constitutes a win in this nomination battle, no more "caucus states, small states, red states don't matter" garbage, no more flip-flops on Florida and Michigan. That's it, I've had it. At best, invoking the memory of one of this nations most horrific moments displays a complete lack of judgement that does not befit a President. At worst, she has just said she is hanging around this nomination process just in case Obama gets shot. Disgusting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cottage Doubles! Sweet!

So, apparently I was the last person on the planet to know that you can put yummy fruit topping on cottage cheese. Why didn't someone tell me about this before? These things are freakin' awesome! My favorite so far would have to be the Raspberry, with Strawberry a close second. I feel like this is one of those things that if only I'd thought of it first I could be seriously wealthy right now. Fruit.....and cottage cheese!!! Incredible!! And who doesn't love cottage cheese?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Remind me never to set one foot in West Virginia...

Link

Actual quotes from West Virginians told to reporters during yesterdays primary....it's ok though, because they said they aren't racist at all!

"I guess because he is another race, I'm sort of scared of the other race. Cuz we have so much conflict with them."
- Wanda Gibson, undecided voter in WV

"I want someone who is a full-blooded American as president."
- Josh Fry, a 24-year-old ambulance driver from Williamson, who "insisted he was not racist."

"I heard that Obama is a Muslim and his wife's an atheist."
- Leonard Simpson, a West Virginia Democrat.

"I don't think it's being racist necessarily, they just don't like black people that well. The arrogance and all bothers me more than black, but black is a close second."
- West Virginia voter R.K. Horton

"White people look out for white people, black people look out for black people."
- Union organizer, just across the border in Pittsburgh

"[Obama] takes the cake, because of, you know, who he is."
- Eric Hardy, 38, a former Democrat and president of the West Virginia Coon Hunters Association. Also, owner of Osama, Obama and Chelsea's Mama. sign.


Of course, West Virginia is over and done now. Next primary stop: Kentucky...

"I really don't want an African-American as President. I thought about it. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race."
- J. K. Patrick, a retired state employee in Inez, Kentucky wearing a "Hillary: Smart Choice" button.

Congratulations West Virginia - you've just identified yourself as the most backward and ridiculous state in the nation. Also, memo to Hillary supporters - Obama can win "working class white voters" just fine. He won Idaho with 62% of the vote. I've lived in Idaho - trust me, Popeye's chicken is the only place you can find any soul food in that entire state, if you know what I mean. No, he's just going to have a hard time with the "working class white RACIST voters".

Screw off West Virginia - and take your lame-ass five electoral votes with you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Love and marriage

Our 6th wedding anniversary is on Saturday, and nothing sums up what being married means quite like this response I got from my wonderful wife when I asked if we could replace our currently broken trash can with this little piece of awesomeness to the right. Her response:

"Not on your life."


And there you have it. For the benefit of those nerds reading this who are still single, here's some advice: stay that way. Is the prospect of companionship, sex and financial security worth not being able to buy an R2-D2 trash can when the need arises? It's a tough call to be sure, but right now I'm leaning towards a pretty solid no.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A brief recap...

In case you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on lately....

Friday, May 02, 2008

This is what happens when you gamble....

When the Avalanche beat the Wild last week to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs, they earned a matchup with the Red Wings. Now, the Avs and Red Wings HATE each other (a good history of the feud can be found here, although it's more than a little biased towards the Wings), and the fans take their cue from the teams. So when it became apparent that they were going to play in the playoffs for the first time in 6 years, I marched right on down to the office of our Managing Editor, Sally Mahan to let her know what I thought of her team, her city, her fellow fans and that stupid octopus. A little trash talk ensued, and before I knew it a wager was being made. Whoever's team lost the series had to wear the opponents jersey at work on Friday. Now, when I made that bet I thought the Avs had a great chance to win, but before the series even started Forsberg got hurt, then Stasny went down, then Ryan Smyth - and freakin' José Theodore had the flu during the first two games. By the end of the series the Wings were pretty much playing the Denver All-Stars, and swept Colorado accordingly 4 games to none. As a man of my word, I showed up to her office this morning to suffer the consequences of losing my poorly-timed wager. I wasn't nearly as happy as I appear to be in this photo. Seriously - that hideous looking jersey burned my skin. Disgusting.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saying goodbye to a friend

My friend Amy died last Wednesday. She would have been 38 on June 6th. Her obituary was in today's Packet, but for all the things it said I feel like it didn't even scratch the surface of who she was - so I thought I'd add to it in my own way. I keep going over in my mind the events of the last few weeks (and years for that matter). Maybe if I lay it all out there it will start to make some kind of sense....

Aside from Allison and my Mother, I don't think anyone else who is going to read this ever met Amy. She was the first friend I made when I moved to Hilton Head back in August of 1997. I remember the first moment I saw her like it was yesterday - I walked into the local Insty-Prints on a job interview for their Graphic Designer position, and saw this gorgeous blonde standing behind the counter. I told her why I was there and who I was there to see, and she gave me one of the biggest, friendliest smiles I'd ever received. I made a mental note to make sure I got this job, and of course did just that. We hit it off immediately, probably because we were the only people in the office under 50. Naturally she had a boyfriend, so I wasn't going to hit the jackpot completely, but at the time I was just happy to have made a friend in this strange and unfamiliar place called South Carolina.

Every day in Insty-Land (as she called it) was more fun than the next. She had a way of seeing the humor in every situation that I admired, and used that talent to keep an otherwise dull and pedantic job from ever becoming so. A few months later, I saw the ad in the Packet advertising that they needed a Graphic Designer. I did pause for a time, mostly at the thought of leaving my friend. In the end though, I needed to get my career going, and working for a Newspaper seemed like a big-deal at the time. I told her that I hated to leave, but as she rightly pointed out "The Island is only 12 miles wide dude - we'll see each other all the time!"

And so we did. We hung out every couple of Saturday's, sometimes just to eat lunch or rollerblade around Hilton Head Plantation. She had a Bachelors in Graphic Design, but it was from back in the days before Quark and Photoshop, so I helped her learn the new tools of the trade. I was making new friends at the Packet, but as I still had quite a crush on her she was my first priority. She would say to me "ahh, if only you were 5 years older" in that horribly annoying 'totally kidding but totally serious at the same time' voice that only a woman can have. It was a barrier I never could quite break through - no matter how hard I tried, she wasn't ready to date someone who couldn't order a beer. Even though I had no shot, I never really gave up entirely until I met and started dating Allison in March of '99. Once that was going on, I didn't see her nearly as much but I found that I enjoyed hanging out with Amy more once the whole unrequited love thing was out the window.

We continued to hang out on occasion, and one such time sticks out in my mind now. She had given notice to Insty-Land, and after her last day was over she called and wanted to go to Mickey's Pub to celebrate. I met her there and remember vividly her asking if she could buy me a drink. I told her no thank you, but she insisted. It was the first time in our almost three-year friendship that the subject had come up. I told her that I had no desire to drink, that I had seen it mess up too many lives and that I wanted nothing to do with it. She didn't say much, ordered a beer and quickly changed the subject. I had no way of knowing it at the time, but my rantings and righteous indignation about alcohol appears to have been something she filed away in her head and never forgot.

I said goodbye to her in May of 2001, and took off for Boise to go marry Allison. We kept in touch, exchanged a few letters and a Christmas card. When we moved back to SC in June of 2002, I looked her up a few weeks later. We began a pattern that repeated for the next 5 years - every few months she would call and we'd make plans to have lunch. We'd catch up, trade stories and share some laughs. During this time she got married as well, and seemed to be happy. As I have recently learned, she wasn't. In fact, she had begun going down a path that would eventually lead to her death.

I first noticed something was wrong about 18 months ago - we had lunch together and she didn't look right. She had recently been in a car accident, and was moving very slowly. Sometimes she would have trouble standing and had to lean on me to remain upright. I never pried all that much, but when she did talk about it she blamed it on "medication" or lack of sleep. She couldn't find a job - she worked part-time at the Humane Society, but never could land anything else. I tired to get her a job at the Packet as a customer service rep, only to have her completely bomb during the typing test. She blamed it on having long nails. I noticed that she was getting more and more thin - and she was already skinny to begin with. Allison and I had dinner with her and her husband one night at their place, and alcohol was everywhere - but she only had water. Maybe that's why I didn't see it - or didn't want to see it.

I saw her in February - we had lunch at Dosidos. She didn't seem completely like herself, but she was still laughing and joking about some crazy thing that had happened to her. She was wafer-thin - again, it was the "medication" she was taking, and that she'd be fine. She picked at her food, and wrapped up 98% of it in a to-go box. I told her that if there was anything wrong, she could talk to me about it. She said she knew that and appreciated it. What she didn't tell me was that she actually felt that I was the last person on Earth she wanted to talk about it with.

Her husband called me on April 10th to tell me that she was in the hospital, and that he highly suggested that I come as soon as possible - her liver was failing. I left work immediately and went to the Hilton Head Hospital. I wasn't prepared for what I found when I got there.....she was completely emaciated, her face ashen and her eyes recessed into the back of her head. The first thought I had was that she looked just like the people in pictures we've all seen of liberated concentration camps. I recovered pretty quickly, as her face lit up when she saw me. We made small talk and I told her she need to get better so that we could have lunch, to which she said she'd do her best. Her husband told me the Doctor's said she didn't have much time left, and that because of her alcoholism she wasn't a candidate for a transplant. He wasn't very clear and was having a hard time, so when he told me that her parents would be there soon I decided to wait until I could talk to them to get some answers.

I met her parents, Cody and Yvonne for the first time on the day I said goodbye to their daughter. Just like with Amy, I hit it off when them immediately, as they were clearly just the salt of the earth types. I was struck, however, by how calm they seemed, given how Amy looked laying there in her hospital bed. I chatted with Amy a little, then with her Father, as we were just getting to know each other. While we were talking, Amy fell asleep, so I took the opportunity to ask her Dad to leave the room with me. He told me that he was glad he could meet me as Amy loved me very much, and always spoke to them about how her friend Morgan would do anything for her and how proud she was that he "was running the newspaper". I asked him what in the world was going on - he was surprised that if I was such a good friend why didn't I have any idea how bad her drinking had gotten? I told him my only theory, which I had only come up with the night before - that she knew how I felt about alcohol, so in order to avoid disappointing me she took extreme measures to hide it. He said that made perfect sense, and told me how the alcoholic starts with small lies, then moves on to big ones, then eventually loses themselves to the persona they've created. He told me how they'd known this was coming since October, as she had been admitted then with the Doctors telling her then that IF she never had another sip of alcohol and IF she adhered to a strict diet, there was a CHANCE that she would live. She didn't take their advice, and here she was. I had no choice but to accept what he was saying - I went back into her room, kissed her forehead and said my goodbye.

I'm still trying to figure out how I missed the fact that my friend was slowly poisoning herself, as well how I made it so that she felt she couldn't talk to me about it. Her Mother told me there was nothing that I or anyone else could have done - that she knew what she was doing and that it was her choice. That's not an easy thing for me to accept. I feel like if I'd know how bad it was, I could have done something. That's a horrible feeling. Right now it's hard not to think of her and envision my friend laying in the hospital bed. But my hope is that over time when I think of her I will think of that beautiful woman who was full of life and love, the one who smiled at me that first day we met, and every day afterward. I offer a quote from a movie that Amy never would have seen (couldn't quite manage to turn her onto Star Trek)....

"Of my friend I can only say this....of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, hers was the most....human...."

Goodbye Amy. I'll miss you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sickly

My streak of perfect attendance years will end at four - at some point yesterday (the point being where I ate fish tacos at Amigos - the same place that likes to try to kill me every once in a while) I contracted some manner of stomach flu or food poisoning. I will not go into gory details, but suffice it to say that last night starting at 2AM and ending at 12:30PM today I got an up close and personal view of the various sinks & toilets in my house - fifteen times! It got to the point that I would plan out which sink I would visit next. Gross.

Aside from the violent unpleasantness I encountered during those 10 hours, more irritating to me was that I had to miss a day of work. As chronicled before, perfect attendance has always meant something to me, as I never got anywhere near it in school. In between waiting for my completely empty stomach to again try to expel....whatever the hell it was trying to expel, I logged into work and printed a few sections, made a few edition plans and responded to a few e-mails. Still, even though I did some work I'm not getting out of having to take that sick day, which sucks.

There is one silver lining in this situation however; I lost 3 pounds today and am now at my ideal weight of 165 pounds! So all you have to do to lose weight is come down with a debilitating illness that keeps you from eating! After having one too many salads during my recent attempts to eat better, I'm not 100% sure I wouldn't have just done this earlier.

Yeah, actually I am 100% sure. God today sucked.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Working the night shift

As tomorrow is Heritage Sunday (aka the biggest paper of the year) I decided that to make sure everything goes smoothly (and for my own peace of mind) to come in and work tonight. I have always enjoyed working at night, going back to my days as the nightshift Ad Designer at the Idaho Statesman. There's something about putting the paper to bed that I love. Or maybe it's just the complete and utter lack of Ad Reps in the building pestering me to get their stupid late ads in that I find irresistible. Another great part about it is that since I stay until both papers are done I avoid the dreaded 2AM phone call when there's a problem. In any case, I also like working at night every once and a while because I get to hang out with some of the people on the press crew that I rarely see. Tonight I met a dude named Keno who was a dead-ringer for Michael Strahan. In fact, maybe since he won the Super Bowl he's done with football and decided he wanted to enter the next phase of his career, starting right here at the Packet. Anyway, there are some cool people here and they have a lot of fun at night, but even so everyone is very professional and gets the job well done. Maybe the boss will let me work nights more often! Eh, probably not. Something about wanting to spend time with her incredibly awesome husband or something....I don't know what that's all about....

Monday, April 14, 2008

Now that's what I call a response....

My biggest issue with John Kerry four years ago was his complete and utter lack of interest in returning the Republicans' fire, especially when it came from the Swiftboat jerks. It's nice to know I don't have to worry about the same thing from Sen. Obama....

Monday, April 07, 2008

I love my country but....

There is something seriously wrong here people....

From The Daily Kos:

In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to "domestic military operations" within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

"Yoo and torture" - 102

"Mukasey and 9/11" -- 73

"Yoo and Fourth Amendment" -- 16

"Obama and bowling" -- 1,043

"Obama and Wright" -- More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)

"Obama and patriotism" - 1,607

"Clinton and Lewinsky" -- 1,079


More stories about a decade-old scandal and a presidential candidate's night at the bowling alley than about the White House declaring the Fourth Amendment null and void.

Yup, that's about right.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I have returned....

Instead of posting a full vacation recap, I decided that I'd just post some pics instead. My reasoning for this is two-fold: first, no one cares about every little detail of the vacation. Second, I'm freakin' tired. And sick. Damn those germ ridden airplanes!

Watching Allison's dad Barry play in his soccer league. His team name: The Fossils.

Seriously, this dude is in 10 times better shape than me.

Watching the Colorado Crush defeat the LA Avengers 67-54. My first visit to the Pepsi Center! If you ever have a chance to see an AFL game in person, I highly recommend it - especially if you can sit in the first few rows like we did.

The Colorado Crush Girls. My favorite is number 7.

The Apple store in Boulder, CO. I managed to resist the temptation to pick up a MacBook Air.

Me at Coors Field - because their opening night festivities ran so long Friday night, they saved the unveiling of the National League Championship banner for Saturday, so getting to see that was an unexpected treat.

Ugh. Got beat 7-2 by the D-bags.

But Todd Helton hit a home run!

All in all, a good vacation. I didn't get nearly enough time in Denver, but Allison and I got to spend a lot of quality time with all the parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews that live 2500 miles away.