June 17, 2008

And...

Behold the lovely ampersand.

Posted by: Ted at 08:18 PM | category: Links
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June 16, 2008

Cue World's Smallest Violin

On a forum I frequent, someone started a thread about how bad things are with the economy in the tank.  Why, the poor dear even noticed that there were less people at the oil-change place when he took his car in to be serviced!

Asshat.

Posted by: Ted at 10:01 AM | category: Square Pegs
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The Spam, It Gets Tiresome

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Ted at 10:00 AM | category: Square Pegs
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June 14, 2008

I'm Probably Not Welcome There Anymore

Daughter Robyn and husband Henry are in town for the weekend for a family occasion.  Tonight they wanted to go to IKEA. 

Part of the fun of IKEA is the Swedish names that the designers give everything.  I assume they're real Swedish and not just made-up pseudo-English, although some of the smaller items seem kinda contrived.  Myself, I love to go through and make up my own names.

In the kid's furniture section I loudly announced that this particular series was call "Preestbate", and was my favorite until I saw "Shakmee".

I got plenty of dirty looks, and a few snickers hidden behind hands.

Fookemm.

Posted by: Ted at 01:51 AM | category: Square Pegs
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June 09, 2008

Life is Too Short to Use Cheap Paper

So now you've gotten your hands on a Fisher Space Pen or Pilot G-2, right?  That's only half the battle, because it's not just what you write with, it's what you write *on*.

My favorite paper for everyday use is Hewlett-Packard 32# Premium Choice Laserjet paper.  Yep, 32 pound, compared to that shitty 20# recycled crap you snag from the copier room.  It's smoooooooth and heavy enough to be noticed.  Bright white too, although I prefer a cream or off-white paper.

You can get this stuff at Office Depot and places like that.  I recently saw half-reams on sale for $4.00, and when it rang up for $3.00 I went back for more.  Normal price is about $17.00 a ream, which sounds like a lot until you remember that this is 500 sheets of quality writing paper.  I suppose you could feed it through your printer or copier too.  If you insist.

The HP 28# paper is almost as good.  Almost.

Here's another goody for you, because I'm a nice guy.  If you go to the website for the Mohawk Paper Company, you can order free samples.  Five sheets of up to five different types of paper, including Strathmore!  Did I mention free?  As in nada, zip, zilch.  Not even postage due.  It's not a one-time offer either, you can go back later for more (not the same day though ya oinker).  I ordered a swatchbook from them and it's chock full of interesting and excellent papers.  It's free dammit.  Go try some and see what I'm talking about.

Oh, they're big-time green too, which is a great thing.

Pamper yourself in little ways, that's part of what Lifetoys is about.

Posted by: Ted at 10:01 PM | category: Lifetoys
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The Bestest Cheap Pen You Can Buy

Seriously, try the Pilot G-2 and see if it doesn't make your ballpoint feel like you're scratching wood with a rusty nail.

They're about a buck each at any office supply store or the stationery aisle of your favorite mega-chain.  For that price, how could you *not* try one?

Posted by: Ted at 09:05 PM | category: Lifetoys
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That's Not Supposed To Happen

Gettin' hammered with spam here on the new Minx platform.  It's easier to delete than on Movable Type, so between that and the Dalai Llama, I've got that going for me.

Posted by: Ted at 08:34 PM | category: Square Pegs
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June 04, 2008

How to Ask Questions the Smart Way

Worth reading, especially if you've ever visited a user forum looking for help.

Posted by: Ted at 03:18 PM | category: Links
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Cloning Hair as a Cure for Baldness

So now they can clone one's own hair in order to cure baldness.  Why stop there?  I predict that in the near future, you'll notice more werewolves attending Halloween parties.

Posted by: Ted at 03:15 PM | category: Links
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May 31, 2008

Survivors and Ex-Survivors

It's time, boys and girls, for this year's installment of "let's look at Ted's purple clematis" (which sounds dirty but really isn't).  Anyway, here 'tis from just a couple of weeks ago:
/archives/clematic2008.jpg
Note the haziness of portions of the picture.  I used a softening filter for romantic effect.  (Translation: I discovered a finger-smear on the camera lens, which has since been cleaned.)

Last year, I wrote this:

It's scraggly and chewed on and spotted with fungus, but damned if it doesn't keep stretching upwards and weaving its scrawny self through the trellis bars. After all of that, it even managed to pop out a single pretty bloom. I hope it makes it through the winter, because this is a tough little plant and I admire its deterimination to survive.

This year, here's what that wee beastie did:
/archives/ex-survivor.jpg
And right after it pushed out those beautiful flowers, it died.  As a doornail.  It's not obvious, but it's replacement is already growing next to it, in the photo it looks like part of the same plant.

That plant had personality.

Posted by: Ted at 10:06 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Dad

Last month Liz and I flew out to Arizona to visit my Dad and his girlfriend, Beverly (more about that in a later post).  Now, just a few months ago we got a call from Bev letting us know that Dad was in the ICU and the doctors didn't expect him to make it.  I started to make plans to go and then, hours later, Bev called back and said Dad was out of the woods and would be fine.  I called Dad a little after that and he sounded amazingly good.  Good enough that we decided that I could wait until our already scheduled vacation.  He was going to need dialysis for a short while (everyone hoped), but other than that and the usual "old people" problems he was gonna be fine.

I prepared myself for the worst when we saw him.

I come from tough stock!  His kidneys had gotten going again almost immediately, so no more dialysis.  I knew he used a breathing machine, but didn't know it was only at night because of his sleep apnea.  He used a walker, but only when he was really tired and he never did during the week we were there (nor did I ever think he needed it).

In fact, he was the same old Dad.  We moved furniture from their old house to the new one, including a massive metal workbench that weighed a ton.  We hung two flat-panel TV's on wall mounts.  We put up a new television antenna on the roof, and ran the wire inside.  He showed me the extension he built to his workshop.  It was just like old times.

At one point, we were working on two different projects right near each other, and I told him that he was working too hard.  His reply caught me by surprise:

I don't work hard.  I work steady.


And it's true.  Dad gets more done than most people half his age, and he does it by methodically taking it a step at a time.  There are no frantic bursts of energy, no show-stopping surprises in mid-project, he just thinks things through and then follows his plan.  Give the man a hammer and a two-by-four and he'll build you a spiral staircase.  He's amazing that way, and his secret is as simple as "don't work hard, work steady."

I've been going through some fundamental changes in my personal life over the last year or so.  Call it a midlife crisis (like Liz does) or just finding myself (whatever that means), I've done a lot of thinking about and tinkering around the edges of my life.  Examining everything closely and figuring out what I really want and how I can change things to make it better.  That's part of what the new "Lifetoys" category is about, where you're gonna see some of the things I've looked at and experimented with.

Those five words, distilled down to their perfect essence, explain perfectly a huge part of what I've been trying to do.

Thanks Dad.

Posted by: Ted at 06:04 PM | category: Lifetoys
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May 30, 2008

Skittles Vodka

Right up Jim's alley.

 /images/skittlesvodka-sm.jpg

Complete instructions on making your own are here.  Beats pruno I suppose.

Posted by: Ted at 12:57 PM | category: Links
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May 29, 2008

Space Pen

So have you tried the PocketMod (I talked about it here)?  Visit that first link to at least find out how to fold the paper, it's worth the minute or so it takes.

All righty then, you've got a handy piece of paper or small notebook to jot down stuff, but what are you using to write with?  To me, the PocketMod is only half of the equation, because I also carry a Fisher Space Pen!

You know that bit 'o history about NASA spending a fortune on a pen while the Russians used a pencil?  It's an urban legend.  Fisher developed the pen technology on its own dime and then sold pens to NASA, hence the "Space Pen" name.

Works like a champ too.  Upside down.  In the rain.  Greasy paper.  No worries, because this puppy will write!

Best of all, you can get their little bullet pen and it's small and rounded and fits perfectly in your pocket without snagging or poking.  When it's time to write the cap fits perfectly on the back and you have a full-size pen.  I got the matte black one without the clip, and I love it.  It goes everywhere with me.

Check out the various types and colors at The Writer's Edge.

Remember, life is too short not to have cool toys.  And coolness does not have to be digital.

Posted by: Ted at 11:41 PM | category: Lifetoys
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Blogmeet!

Date:  Saturday, July 5th

Place:  Pfitzner Stadium, Woodbridge, Virginia

Event:  2nd Annual Blogger's Baseball Day and Destruction Derby*

The game starts at 6:35pm against the Salem Avalanche.  There will be a fireworks show after the game, and believe me, it's a good one.

We have two options for tickets.  For $8.00 a seat we can get grandstand seats, which will be easier to get in a block.  These would be directly behind the green boxes 4, 5 and 6 on this seating chart.  These seats are next to 3rd base.

For $10.00, we get reserved seating.  Think section 6 in the red area on the seating chart.  Up higher, but still bench-style seating.

Emails will be going out over the next couple of days.  Let me know if you'd like to come, and the more the merrier.  Drop me a line letting me know, and I'm going to check with the stadium about seating availability.

See ya soon!

* Destruction Derby courtesy of Buckethead and Dawn, if past history serves. **

** No, it's not the 2nd "annual" anything... hell, it's not even the "2nd".  Don't be so literal.

Posted by: Ted at 10:53 AM | category: Square Pegs
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May 26, 2008

Blogmeet A-Coming!

Liz and I met with Nic and Victor yesterday for a Potomac Nationals ball game.  It was "bring a dog day" or something, so there were several fuzzy buds in the seats with us.  By the end of the game, I had a husky-something mix named Mookie curled up under my seat, with his head laying across my feet.

Good friends, good game, good times.

I'll be checking the schedule and we'll see about setting up a date for a baseball game blogmeet.  Check back over the next couple of days for details.

Posted by: Ted at 10:41 PM | category: Square Pegs
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May 25, 2008

Pocket Mod

Last summer I stumbled across Pocket Mod and started carrying the little things every day.  Basically, it's a cleverly folded piece of paper for note taking and jotting crap down.  When you fill it up, just print up a new one and you're good to go again.  I've found it to be very useful and I always have one in my pocket.

Now the link above is full of nifty little templates and such to customize your Pocket Mod to be just how you like it, and I used them for quite a while.  Recently though, I've simplified things even further.  I go here and print a sheet of graph paper and then do the folding thing.  No trimming needed.  A small hack I've done it to cut out a snippet of manilla file folder and slipping it inside to stiffen it up just a bit.

Pocket Mod. Making my life a little easier, one simple toy at a time.

Posted by: Ted at 12:27 AM | category: Lifetoys
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May 22, 2008

New Category

Lifetoys.

Let's see where this takes us, shall we?

Posted by: Ted at 01:05 AM | category: Lifetoys
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May 21, 2008

Officially Summer

Dinner tonight:  grilled brats, potato salad and cole slaw.

Posted by: Ted at 11:29 PM | category: Square Pegs
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Observations at a Minor League Baseball Game

Did I mention that Liz and I bought season tickets to the Potomac Nationals?  I think we got the 15 game package, but when you include all the freebies and such, it comes out to 21 games.  Add in the "dollar night" every Monday and it's conceivable that we might catch 30 games this year.  Oh yeah, field level box seats.  Third base side.  Closest to home plate, right next to the visitor's dugout.  Check it out.

Way up on top of the lights on the right field side, a hawk sat quietly and watched, as if waiting for some edible critter to panic and make himself known.  Or, more likely, he was looking at the people and wondering what kind of crazy creatures would behave that way.  Suddenly, the hawk was attacked by a sparrow or some such tiny bird, maybe a quarter of the hawk's size but absolutely fearless as he dived and twisted and drove the hawk away from what I presume was a nest.  Most of the crowd watched and cheered, and I was reminded of a Mig fighter going after a DC3 Gooney Bird.

In the several years that we've been going to P-Nats games, one constant has been a certain outfielder who shall remain nameless.  I posted last year about his poor choice of music when he came up to bat, because the loudspeakers invariably blasted out Dire Straits' "Money For Nothing".  He tries hard, but every play to his position is an adventure and potential disaster.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say that he's the Geronimo Berroa of the P-Nats, and if you watched American League baseball in the 90's you'll get the reference.

One of the between-inning events at the games is a race between a youngster or two and the team mascot, "Uncle Slam".  They start off at first base, round second and third and home plate is the finish line.  Uncle Slam has a record of 0-23 this year (as usual), but what's funny (to me anyway) is that they're now sponsored by the Baker Funeral Home.  I now refer to it as "The Race With Death".

A couple of games ago, the entire row behind us was occupied by a group of yuppie larvae who were attending the game so they could put another little checkmark on their list of "life experiences".  Not a one of them knew much about baseball, and it wasn't long before everyone else ignored them.  I could tolerate the cries of "foul tip" when the batter ripped one 200 feet down the right field line and into the bleachers there, and I rolled my eyes when they all jumped up and cheered for the "home run" when the runner at third scored on a wild pitch.  But I had to go for a walk when I heard them talking about Hurricane Katrina and how they all wished that they could've done more to help.  That part wasn't bad, but one actually confided that she'd checked to see if there were any federal programs that would pay her mortgage for a year or so while she volunteered in Louisiana.  She was deeply hurt that she couldn't feel good about herself on the taxpayer's dime.

She's lucky it wasn't souvenir bat night.

Posted by: Ted at 12:31 AM | category: Square Pegs
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May 19, 2008

Too Stupid To Breed, But We'll Assist Them Anyway

So I'm listening to the radio on the way to work, and there's a commercial for a fertility clinic.  I have a lot of compassion for couples going through that, because Liz and I had some difficulties ourselves.  It took us many months of trying before Liz got pregnant the first time, and her second pregnancy left her clinically sterile because of complications after the delivery (all three were c-section).  Our youngest was truly a miracle in that it was supposedly impossible for Liz to get pregnant again.  A very happy surprise indeed.

Anyway, back to the commercial.  I'm listening and empathizing when they got to the clinic motto or tagline or slogan or whatever the hell it's called:

"Because money shouldn't be a factor in whether or not you have a baby."

What. The. Hell?  I understand the context there, but still, that is an asinine thing to say.  Being able to afford having a child should be the #2 question on your checklist, right after "do we really want one at this time?"

I'm going to get pulled over one morning as I'm yelling at my radio.  I can see it now, "Your Honor, the ticket says 'road rage', which is technically correct, but my ire was directed at a radio commercial, not another driver."

Think I'd get off?

Posted by: Ted at 02:40 PM | category: Square Pegs
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