Monthly Archives: February 2010

One of the things that Clancy and I decided we wanted to do while we were here is pick up some furniture for the move. It’s kind of risky and not necessarily cheap because we’re having to get extra moving truck space, but there is a wealth of stuff available here on Craigslist where there is no counterpart in Arapaho. The two big things we wanted were a recliner and a sofa. We’ve been hobbling along on a single recliner throughout our time in Cascadia when we left my old one behind in Estacado (may it rest in peace) as it fell apart.

This was particularly inconvenient because our other piece of living room furniture, the futon, did not survive the trip. I mean, it didn’t break into a million pieces, but the wood panel on the bottom broke and so the futon sagged somethin’ fierce and was not easy to get in and out of with any real ease. Well, I guess gravity assisted with the “in”, but since you land on the injured would, you have to live with the guilt that each time you sit down, you’re making it more difficult to get back up. It’s a tough burden, man.

A couple months ago, a neighbor was getting rid of his loveseat and was asking a woman who lived across the alley if she wanted it. I volunteered to take it on the spot. I shifted the living room around a bit and we had the futon which had been transferred to stuff receptical duty and a coach one step away from the graveyard. Clancy says that there is a minor smell on Not-Futon, though I can’t smell it. There are a couple of minor tears. The idea was that we would take the couch cover from The Futon and put it on Not-Futon. Still, though, it was not something we were going to want to display prominently in our future living room. Still loads better than The Futon.

So we set out on Craigslist for some new furniture and ran across a La-Z-Boy recliner. Now, LZBs are not the most comfortable of chairs, but they’re still not bad. Clancy’s recliner is a La-Z-Boy and we like it fair enough. The big thing, though, for packing purposes is that the top comes off and that makes transfer easy. And what do you know? We’re transferring stuff in a few days. Someday I’m going to want the recliner of my dreams, but it’ll do for a while yet.

Searching for a sofa was a little bit harder. The hangup was that we found the perfect sofa/love-seat early on and couldn’t get our minds off of it. Nothing else came close. It was more than we wanted to spend and it came with a love seat, but the biggest issue is that we would have to pick it up from Western Shores, a rich-person community a couple of hours from here. Setting aside my distinct lack of enthusiasm about driving for five hours a couple days before driving for a dozen, that made the vehicle rental situation much more difficult.

UHaul has those nice signs on their trucks that say $19.99 or somesuch, but in small print is “plus mileage.” In fact, with a 50-mile minimum and required insurance (unless you have a $10k credit line), there’s no way that you can get out of there paying less than $60. However, we were looking at far above and beyond the minimum mileage. And at 60c a mile, it was going to get really expensive, really quick. Budget was the same way except that they charged more for mileage. So we went with Enterprise.

Enterprise, it turns out, has a bizarre definition of the word “reservation” and “confirmation.” Whereas I interpret these words to mean “You are confirmed! You have a reservation for a truck with us!” what they mean is “Oh, we may or may not actually have the truck we confirmed with you. And if we don’t, well, that’s just tough luck” because they feel absolutely no obligation to live up to the reservation. They refused to upgrade us for the same price, which is what businesses typically do. They called around, but when they found one, it was too much trouble to have it transferred to their location. And it was more expensive than our reservation and they would not compensate the difference. So for the honor of using Enterprise (which was, prior to this week, my rental agency of choice) we would have to drive half an hour to pick it up and we would be paying $10 more a day than what we had reserved.

Sadly, this was still better than our alternatives. Enterprise charges a lot more by the day, but gives you unlimited in-state miles. Since we were going to be putting some serious miles on it, they could have charged us a lot more and still been cheaper than UHaul or Budget. That being said, getting an Enterprise through the website is a really bad idea. Apparently, they make reservations without regard to availability. This was a real sore point in the Paulsboro Enterprise, even though in this case they had what we wanted. It would have been a sore point at their Soundview Location, if they’d cared. I’ve noticed this before with Enterprise in that I will reserve one model and end up with another in the same class. As long as they have something, I don’t care about the particulars. This was different.

What Enterprise does not have is CD players in their vehicles. Clancy warned me about this, but it was still odd to see a car – any car – without CD players. I mean, how much could it possibly cost to have one installed and though most people won’t care, for some people it means spending hours in the car in between municipalities with no entertainment. Some people like me.

Last move, I kind of bugged my mother-in-law with my need to burn a bunch of audiobooks for the trip at the last minute. It was actually one of those things that was supposed to take only a few minutes but because of technical difficulties distracted me for a couple hours. This time she wasn’t around while I was scrambling to set up my audio entertainment. I took one of my old Pocket PCs and transferred the audio books to it and I’ll listen on bluetooth on the drive. I managed to mostly do this while resting in between taking boxes out, but man it would have been easier with a CD player.

So yesterday I picked up the recliner, which turned out to be closer than the one that we originally decided on. We had initially decided on one that was nearly the exact same as the one we had, but it was out in Enterprise City (no relation to the rental agency). Then one opened up at the next town over and that was more appealing. It was a different color, but I actually decided that I liked that because it wouldn’t look weird if they were two shades of faded.

Later today I’m driving out to Western Shores to pick up the couch and love seat. I’ll be wishing and hoping and praying that it will all fit into the cargo van. I think it will. I packed up most of my clothes yesterday, so I’m sort of slumming it today. The impression I get from these people and where they live and their wonderful couch that they’re getting rid of that these people have money and lots of it. I’m oddly self-conscious about it. Like I’m not worthy of the couch that they are bestowing upon me. Okay, not really. But sort of. No, not really. A little. I never claimed to be entirely rational.

Category: Home, Road

I actually managed to hear this one on the drive home from Walmart on the Interstate. It always seems that when this one pops up I’m stuck in traffic or on town streets with stop signs and stoplights. There’s a CD by a former front man to a country-but-not-really-country band that was around nearly a decade ago that is the best driving disc ever. In fact, when not in a car, I am lukewarm on the CD. It never fails that when Clancy and I are listening to it on the open road, we’re about to hit snow, traffic, or something else to slow us down.

I’d never actually seen the video for this classic and am actually pretty impressed with it. I used to get into sorta-debates with some people who called this a “racing song”. Well yeah, it’s a racing song if you completely disregard the metaphor. The video, to its credit, doesn’t.

Of course, even knowing it’s not about racing exactly, it sure feels that way when behind the wheel of a car when it comes on.

For those of you that got sick of the song way back when, here’s another Cake song that you may be less familiar with if you’re not a fan about pretentious music scene people:

And lastly, here’s a song associated with someone else. Their version doesn’t stack up with the original, but it’s still fun.

The video is not particularly relevant to the song.

Category: Theater

The subject of former athletes and weight gain came up in a previous post about former prom kings. It reminded me of something I meant to post on a while back but never got around to doing. Anyway, by coincidence over the course of a couple of days I discovered two former athletes that really beefed up after their heyday.

Buster Douglas is known most for being the first boxer ever to defeat Mike Tyson. It’s difficult to understate how huge this was as Mike Tyson was not only undefeated but was considered to be unbeatable. Most of the betting farms didn’t even bother to take bets on the fight. He lost the next fight against Evander Holyfield and promptly retired. While living off of his winnings*, be ballooned up to 400lb. Mike Tyson himself has gotten husky, though you expect some of that from boxers. Not 150lb, though.

Tonya Harding is known for… well, you guys probably remember. Harding hasn’t become huge, but while you might expect boxers to get kind of big, you don’t really expect that of figure skaters. Of course, she was later a boxer, too.

* – Am I the only one taken off guard that a boxer was able to live off his winnings?

Category: Newsroom

The dollar theater is an interesting place. I guess it takes an interesting business model to be able to make it by seating people for a dollar or two. I still don’t entirely know how they make their money. You would think it would be through the concessions, but those are relatively cheap, too. You can get a hot dog for a dollar, which I frequently do. And of course it’s an interesting crowd that goes. Back in the dollar theater near where I grew up, the common theme was that it was really, really cheap babysitting. I guess as a product of the movies that I see, that’s less the case out here. Instead you get an odd mixture of cheapskates, enthusiasts, and poor people.

Back when the weather was colder, that last bit was kind of a problem for a little while. I didn’t mind that homeless people would consider a dollar or two for a few hours a good way to get out of the cold drizzle, but it was obnoxious how they snored.

The place has been going downhill. I hadn’t entirely realized that it was possible, but it seemed that each time I went there, something else was gone. The ticket-taker was replaced by a combo concession/ticket cashier. The bathrooms would lose their soap dispensers. Eventually they just tore the carpet out and decided that the uneven concrete beneath wasn’t really so bad.

Yesterday was my last trip to the dollar theater before we head out to Arapaho. It was a pretty uneventful affair. Not so much a few weeks ago when I went to see an action movie. I’m not generally an action movie sort of guy unless it involves capes and cowls or maybe aliens, but I’m also not much of a theater guy. The two go well together.

So I went to see my action movie and it was not a very good crowd from the start. It wasn’t the worst I had been to, but it wasn’t far from it. There were a couple of people near the front bickering a bit about something. It sounded like one guy was not as conscientious as the other guy would have preferred in terms of making noise. As the movie progressed, the loud guy in a red hat got worse. He was mumbling at the screen. The guy behind him in the hoodie told him to be quiet. This would happen periodically.

It was about the time the movie was reaching its climax that it all came to ahead. The guy in the red hat said one too many things and the guy in the hoodie told him to shut up one too many times. The guy in the red hat darted up and the guy in the hoodie got up and backed up. I would call it a “fight” but it wasn’t much of one. Red Hat lunged at Hoodie who was in a defensive posture. One punch and Hoodie was down. Red Had said to a stunned crowd. “Yo. I’m out. Enjoy your movie.”

This is the part where, if I was braver or more stupid, I might have done something. Not confront Red Hat, but something. Maybe alerted security (while they had fewer ticket-takers, they did add a security guard). Instead I just sat there. It took a couple minutes to process that Hoodie was not getting up. But even then I wasn’t sure what to do. Someone else went and contacted the security guard, who came in with his flashlight. It was impossible to watch the movie at that point. He woke Hoodie up and walked him out. I followed them to say that I had seen what happened. No surprise, Red Hat was long gone by this point. But he knew exactly who I was talking about when I described him. In other words, had I done something sooner, he might have been stopped. Or I might have been knocked unconscious, too.

From there it got a bit murky. The problem was that the people that reported to him initially and I had two different version of events. Theirs was basically that there was a fight. Mine was that there was a one-sided assault. The guard asked us both to wait for the cops to arrive, so we did. In the meantime, Hoodie started getting really antsy and wanted to leave. The security guard tried to calm him down, in effect saying that since he was bleeding profusely (Red Hat was wearing a ring, apparently, and Hoodie’s cheek was gushing through onto a rag) and the other guy walked away that he had nothing to worry about. Even so, Hoodie wanted to go home. I was anxious to get home, too, though I wanted to tell the cops that it was a pretty one-sided affair and that the other guy was disrupting the movie. Considering that I’d let the guy bleed all over the theater floor, it was the least that I could do. Hoodie was acting pretty weird at this point. I wondered if maybe he was high or something. If he was something, it wasn’t drunk. I also wondered if the combination of the punch and hitting his head on the wall from the force of the punch had done a number on him.

When the cops arrived, they pulled Hoodie over and asked him some questions. The next thing I know, Hoodie was in handcuffs. The security guard came over to me and the couple that initially reported the incident to him and told us that we could go home now. I asked what happened and they said that it turned out that Hoodie had a warrant out for his arrest. At this point, the fight didn’t really matter anymore. And with that, they took Hoodie away. To the hospital, I assume, then to jail.

Hoodie had a very bad day.

And I did not enjoy the rest of my movie.

Category: Downtown

La-Z-Boy Recliner for Sale ($75)
Pros: La-Z-Boy, possibly a detachable top, matches current LZB.
Cons: It’s in Enterprise City
Verdict: I don’t wanna commute no more, but I don’t know that I don’t wanna that badly.

Silver Recliner for Sale ($35)
Pros: Decent looking, functional, nearby, cheap
Cons: Everything else.
Verdict: Nearby? Worth considering.

Gray Recliner for Sale ($75)
Pros: Looks so comfortable I could sink into that thing
Cons: Somewhere north of Zaulem
Verdict: How important is comfort, anyway?

Brown Recliner for Sale ($40)
Pros: Looks almost exactly like the recliner I left in Estacado when it fell apart
Cons: Looks almost exactly like the recliner I left in Estacado because it fell apart
Verdict: Man, I loved that recliner. And I’m thinner now.

Sofa for Sale ($150)
Pros: In Soundview! Looks decently comfortable. Long.
Cons: Long. What would I have to rent to get that here?
Verdict: Will have to confer with wife on level of need for a sofa

Couch for Sale ($100)

Pros: Looks waaaaay comfortable. Like a dream.
Verdict: What? I can’t hear you. My ears hurt. Is that phone ringing?

Category: Market

I’ve mentioned before that we’re a bit unsure about what to do about our moving truck outside. When we moved in, the truck got a warning about “commercial trucks in a residential zone” or something to that effect. Man, I wish I’d kept that warning. Our landlord thinks that our neighbor dropped the dime on us. They apparently have a history. We were warned pretty thoroughly not to park in front of her house. Legally, there’s nothing you can do to prevent people from parking in front of your house, but as a courtesy we avoided it. Unfortunately, she has not been extending us the same courtesy with one of her cars perpetually parked in front of our house. Ordinarily, this isn’t a big deal because we park around back. But it does kind of rankle a bit. And it’ll inconvenience both us and our neighbor if we can’t park in front of our own place.

We’ve been debating how much trouble to go through to find out what kind of liability we face. I’ve asked around and as far as anybody knows, there shouldn’t be a problem. I mean, people have got to be able to move in, right? And it’s possible that the warning before was a mistake. It was a “commercial” vehicle in the strict sense, but not in the sense that you think of commercial vehicles. Further, it didn’t have any exterior markings to let an industrious officer know that it was a moving vehicle. It looks to all the world like a regular truck. So maybe it was a misunderstanding that we could have cleared up if we’d talked to the officer in question (we had the truck moved the day after the citation – we were done packing. We’ve seen a lot of UHauls around.

Anyway, so nobody was of any help in finding out who we would even need to contact because nobody had ever had this particular problem. So I was leaning towards letting it slide and hoping for the best. The main concern is that since it’ll be parked here over the weekend, we won’t be able to “hurry up” and get it out of here. It’s here from Friday to Monday come what may. As I was eating dinner tonight, I scanned over the document from the company we’ll be using and it said to contact local traffic enforcement if we needed a permit. That made perfect sense. It was our first lead.

So tomorrow I am headed down to the local PD office and I’m going to come out and ask them. It’s a bit risky because if they say something like “Oh, we don’t expect people to have to park a truck overnight to be able to move. There is no permit. You’ll just have to find another way to move” well, I will no longer be able to say “gosh, officer, I didn’t know” and they’ll probably know exactly where to look for any illegally parked trucks. Ideally, they’ll say that there is an exemption for moving trucks and I won’t have to get any sort of permit and I can explain to any officer that wants to ticket the vehicle what is going on. Next best is if they can sell me a permit off right there. Middle-case is that I’ll end up having to go down to the county courthouse or DMV or something.

As long as I get the permit, I really don’t care. I was previously going to set out fliers to our neighbors letting them know the truck was going to be coming and to apologize for the inconvenience. Sometimes, if you are just open and straight with people, they’ll be more forgiving. Especially when they know the truck is going to be gone soon. But I’d rather not have to rely on the kindness of neighbors. If need be, I’d like to be able to politely tell our complaining neighbor who parks in front of our house where she can shove it.

Update: No permit required, apparently. I spoke to a volunteer at the substation as well as an officer there. He said that as long as it’s a moving truck, there shouldn’t be a problem. He is with me that the problem before was that it was not clearly marked. There is some concern of people parking trailers and containers on the street and people living out of them (!!) and that was probably why it got some attention before. If I have any problem, he says that I should just contact the substation and explain the situation.

Part of me wishes that I could have gotten a permit. That would have made me bulletproof. Though the people I talked to didn’t know of any ordinance, an industrious neighbor may know something they don’t. So while I’m feeling pretty good about it now (and can tell anyone upset that I have contacted the police), a part of me takes back my previous suggestion that this would be ideal. Now, if nobody complains, then it will turn out to have been ideal all along. I’m probably just being paranoid here because of my tendency to explore worst-case scenarios, which in this case could be pretty bad. But it seems rather unlikely. So we’ll see. At least on the Callie end of things, they’ll be able to park it on the driveway.

Category: Home, Road

-{I’m cutting my Linkluster posts from 10 links to 5. Since I’m going to be moving, I want smaller posts more frequently rather than fewer posts with more links/content}-

The government is itching to tackle our broadband gap with a whopping 40% failing to have it. It wasn’t long ago when broadband availability was something you had to inquire about before renting a place. I actually asked about it this time around, but it was a pointless question. Even in way-out Callie, Arapaho, broadband is assumed. Only 3.6% of those polled cite lack of availability as their reason for not having it. I have to wonder if they’re just assuming. On the other hand, maybe a portion of the other 36.4% don’t actually have it available and never checked because they weren’t interested.

Alyssa Rosenberg thinks that American TV should become more like British with short, settled story arcs and all that jazz. It’s something that I’ve commented on once or twice on the subject here. I want to write a(nother) post on the subject, but not sure if I’m going to have time. Basically: American seasons may be too long, but British are too short. Sometimes a story arc is good, but sometime single episodes are good, too. With one glaring problem, I think that we actually do okay on this side of the Atlantic.

You can absolutely bet this is going to be a post at some point, but allegedly TV may not be contributing to obesity so much as commercials are.

Should we put some Americans on track to finish school two years earlier? The idea certainly appeals to me, though I am oddly ambivalent to this proposal. It seems geared more towards replacing the last two year of high school with community college. I am smitten with the idea of high school graduation being a target rather than a process.

Should we put all Americans on track to finish college sooner? I’ve got mixed feelings about this one, too. We definitely have a problem with college in this country as we do with high school. But I think rather than a matter of volume or duration, we have a problem of allocation. We may not be the only ones.

Category: Newsroom

So the other day I took the Bartle Test. Created way back in 1978, it’s still relevant (more than many would think) in designing MMORPG’s (World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc).

In an overarching format, it does well describing why some games “win” and “lose” in the market. Games targeted to “Killers”, such as Ultima Online, Shadowbane, and Asheron’s Call 2, tend to die off. The problem is, if you populate with Killers and design around them, then the vast majority of players who are not primarily “Killers” will get tired of being picked on and leave the game. An all-Killer game will drive off enough players to not be financially sustainable.

The longest-running game I’ve ever played, MMORPG-wise, is City of Heroes. The nice thing about CoH is that the “Killer” mechanic almost completely vanishes. Player-vs-Player combat is only in certain non-storyline areas against “City of Villains” players (the “other side” of the game), or in the “Arena”, in exhibition matches where no penalty for losing exists in the main game. Meanwhile, CoH has a tremendous amount of room for exploration and the enjoyment of various storylines, quests, and options to try out. The end of my CoH play came when the “social attitude”, by which I mean a personality-based falling out with a guild leader, left me with the option of either shutting down my account, or paying way too much money to move my characters to new servers to avoid this “socially powerful” griefer’s behavior.

For those wondering, by the Bartle test I come up as an ESAK, with a mere 7% “Killer” score:


It’s not so much the wandering around and poking about, but that euphoric eureka moment the Explorer strives for. The joys of discovery do not necessarily involve geography, real or virtual. They may derive from the mental road less traveled, the uncovering of esoteric or hidden knowledge and it’s creative application. Explorers make great theory crafters. The most infinitesimal bit of newness can deliver the most delicious zing to an Explorer.

Secondary influences

Explorer Socializers are the glue of the online world. Not only do they like to delve in to find all the cool stuff, but they also enjoy sharing that knowledge with others. Explorer socializers power the wikis, maps, forums and theory craft sites of the gamer world.

Category: Server Room

In truth, I really don’t know whether God exists or not. For a variety of reasons, I have an operational assumption that He does, but the more I really try to pin it down, the more agnostic I become. A lot of agnostics and atheists say that they wish that they were religious, but often do so in a tone dripping with condescension: “I wish I could be such a simpleton as to believe in something that obviously gives your simple little mind happiness.” But it’s true, for me, that I wish that I were more religious than I am. Not so much because it would make things simpler to have all the answers, but because the times when a sort of semblance of faith has touched my life, it has helped me tremendously.

One of the things that I really appreciate about country music is the way that it is able to weave religion and God into its content in a way that is accessible to people like me. Songs purely about loving God or praising Him are about as interesting to me as songs about being soooo in love with some chick or some dude. It has to be done really well to avoid being insufferably dull. So it becomes one of those things where artists that have to write for people that don’t experience God in quite the same way that they do have to go the extra mile in making a song original, interesting, or relatable.

Religious songs in country music are hit and miss, but some of them, when they hit, had a pretty profound effect on me. One such artist made a point of having at least one religious song on each CD that he put out there. In between songs about getting drunk and misbehaving, there would be some of the most interesting songs that were sort of a follow-up for the toll that it is taking not just on his life, but on his soul. The first such song uses great imagery of a bible sitting on his dresser and a woman’s clothes tossed around his floor and between the stained glass on a chapel and neon signs in bars.

In the outset of a bootleg version of the song, he describes it as such: “It’s about being a sinner. And knowin’ it.” That’s also a theme of his follow-up to it, which is about his inability to figure out why, exactly, God would love him.

I mention those songs even though there are others requesting that God give the singer the strength to go on, requesting that Satan kiss the singer’s posterior, or the Devil being challenged to some competition involving classic automobiles. But it’s the songs about being a sinner and knowing it that I think of most because, at that point in my life, that was a message that resonated with me greatly.

When I was listening to these songs, I was doing things that I was not proud of. I was doing things that I simply did not consider to be me, yet there I was doing them. The notion of there being a God that loves me anyway was really appealing on that basis. Not because it allowed me to screw up as much as I wanted, but rather because it challenged me to be worthy of that love.

And in some ways it could be said that it was not even about God at all. It was about having parents that loved me, friends that prayed for me, and so on. It was about having been given all of this, screwing it up, and yet having a sense that things did not have to be this way and that I was not beyond redemption.

It would have been really easy for me to leave it at that. But I didn’t.

Instead, there were moments when I really, truly felt something like what I’m told God’s presence feels like. Like He was there. It was enough to get me going to church again and trying to rap my head around the concept of God as more than just a concept and of Jesus and Jesus’ message of being more than just words in a book.

But, as is often the case when I try to think about God logically, when I would look for Him, He wouldn’t be there. It was light a shadow or a phantom in the corner of my eye. I turn my eyes and suddenly He was gone. Only to creep back in when I was thinking not of Him, but of the subjects that seemed to pique His interest in me.

Maybe it was just an imaginary physical manifestation of the desire on my part to be a better person. But it got me through some pretty hard times when it seemed that very little in my life was going right in regards to what I was doing but also (perhaps mostly) in regards to what was going on around me. And His intrusion wasn’t even particularly welcome. My preferred relationship with God is less intimate and in times when I feel like I have a better handle on things. I don’t like being that guy who only comes to God (or wants God to come to him) when he wants something.

But it was what it was, or wasn’t what it wasn’t, depending. Unwelcome, but ultimately helpful. A helpful delusion, or a momentary glimpse of and connection with a typically elusive deity. The more I try to look at it, the less tangible it all becomes. Not unlike the musical distinction between the off-putting songs trying to convince me to believe in God and the songs in which God is part of a backdrop of a grander narrative.

Category: Church

Though I’m not a hugely religious person, I’ve always had an appreciation for music which manages to incorporate religion in a way that I find palatable. This song relies heavily on finding grace through God, but ultimately I consider it about “rising above” and turning away from self-destructive sin.

This video gets the spotlight this weekend not entirely because of the lyrical content of the song, but also because it represents everything a music video should be. It outlines and reinforces the message of the song without simply being a literal representation of it.

Category: Church, Theater