September 01, 2009

Xmas shopping in July

It's been a busy and crazy summer. Three thousand miles of driving, living in a (legally) uninhabitable house, lawsuits, fireworks, heat waves, and Disneyland. But not much blogging. I'll be rectifying that now. In the meantime, I have stumbled across what I'm going to get my niece for Christmas: a companion cube t-shirt.

Posted by thom at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2008

Another Day in the Universe

A good friend pointed out I haven't been updating my blog. Very true. I haven't been feeling very sunshiny about the world of late and most of the time I feel like if I wrote anything I'll come off sounding like Eeyore. But in our SoS (sink or swim) society you got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps so hopefully in the next few weeks I'll feel more like blogging. I'm going to be switching to TypePad blogging software, getting the whole mess under revision control, and be doing some more nerd focused blogging on math and programming. That might sound boring but it's really not. That's a common misconception. Oh wait, it's not actually a common misconception, I guess it really is boring.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas.

Ooops, I hadn't cleared my spam log in nearly a year. It had over 7000 entries in it. Whew!

Posted by thom at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2007

Foot News

Looks like the foot is better. Going off antibiotics next week and then I need a blood test a few weeks after that to double check it. Also, the dsl modem spontainously self destructed so net access is a bit sketchy right now.

Posted by thom at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2007

My Stupid Foot

When I walked into the Doctor's office nearly four weeks ago all I knew was my foot hurt. When I walked out I knew something else: I was diabetic. I also knew now my foor hurt because it was infected and I knew infections were bad news for diabetics. So I picked up my prescription for antibiotics and diabeties medicine and started taking them as directed.

Despite my best efforts the changes in diet weren't enough to get my blood sugar under control and the infection didn't respond to the oral meds. So I schedule another visit with the doctor (a new one actually) and after talking for five minutes he says, "I want you to go to the hospital."

So after a night of intervenous antibiotics the foot isn't responding as well to treatment as the doctor had hoped. He prescribes a week of in-home intervenous antibiotics and I'm glad because it sounds like it should clear up the problem without costing me $3000 a night. As we're wrapping up the conversation the subject of having an MRI done comes up. It's another $1000 and I'm not sure I need it and he can't say positively I need it but he's a little worried the night in the hospital hasn't helped more. So, I ask him, "If I had insurance would you order an MRI" and he says "Yes" and I say "Then let's do it."

It was a smart thing to do since apparently my complication has had a little complication. The doctor calls and tells me "Good news there aren't any abscesses" and as I tell him I'm glad to hear that my brain is thinking "Bad News?" Well, yes. The infection has spread to the bone so now I'm going to need 6 weeks of antibiotics instead of one, I need to spend one more night in the hospital, and there is a 20-30 percent chance I'll need surgery. I really, really, really hope it isn't going to come to that.

The good news is the weight loss is going well, and the blood sugar seems to finally coming under control with some new meds. Which hopefully means the antibiotics will be more effective now. Cross your fingers for me...

Posted by thom at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2007

Scaring Uncle Paul

Hee hee!!!

Posted by thom at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2007

Our Magnificent Seventies

The different clips come in no particular order. In fact, you could say I just threw together random clips with no rhyme or reason. I like to think of it as a steam-of-consciousness montage.

Posted by thom at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2007

Silent Night Balloon Attack

Sleep in heavenly peace... with the fishes.

Posted by thom at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2007

Home Movies

Here's a little home movie music video I have been working on. Not perfect but good enough for now...

Posted by thom at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2006

The New Phonebook is here!!!

I was ego surfing and discovered I am ranked as the one hundred nineteen thousand, five hundred and ninth highest Amazon Reviewer. I should write some more reviews.

Posted by thom at 01:20 AM | Comments (0)

October 31, 2006

Halloweenie

Sometime in the past 20 years Halloween died and I didn't notice. Tonight we had one group of trick-or-treaters. When I was a young ghoul the streets were swarming with kids on the prowl for candy. People turned their garages into haunted houses and carved jack-o-lanterns. But in today's my-neighbor-might-try-to-kill-me culture this is a thing of the past. It just makes me sad.

Posted by thom at 11:47 PM | Comments (0)

September 06, 2006

Why People Loved Steve Irwin

You know, I don't even know why I bother to link to videos on youtube. They seem to disappear or move for no reason within a week or two. My apologies, I won't be linking to them anymore.

Posted by thom at 02:19 AM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2006

Shaking It Off

Welcome back! Haven't been posting much because, well, I haven't felt much like posting. That's slowly changing, but just not this moment. Instead, enjoy a webpage I made of photos I took with my snappy camera phone. More later.

Posted by thom at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2006

Time, time, time...

I was walking down the street on my 35th birthday and noticed I was followed by an odd stranger. When I turned a corner I stopped and waited for him. He turned the corner and I tackled him roughly and said, "Who the hell are you and why are you following me?" He replied, "I am you." I punched him to knock some sense into him.

"No! No! Wait!" he cried. "I can prove it! Remember that scar on your elbow you got from the milkshake machine when you worked at McDonald's?" and he turned he elbow towards me revealing a jagged scar. It wasn't conclusive proof, but I decided to hear him out and stood up and helped him of the ground.

"So you're telling me in a couple of years I build a time machine?"

"Seven years actually, but..."

"Cool. So did you come to tell me what stocks to buy to or the winning lottery numbers so, um, we become a rich man?"

"No, that's not what I came to tell you." My future self didn't seem all that smart.

"Well shit, couldn't you have done that TOO? It's not like it would have been much work."

"Shut up. God, I forgot what an idiot I was when I was young."

"I'm not the one who forgot to SPEND FIVE MINUTES looking up winning lottery numbers..."

"Look," he interrupted, "I don't have much time here before I return to your future..."

"Okay, what huge, important, earth-shattering message do you have for me that won't make me rich?"

"What I came to tell you is that you need to find...." but then his voice trailed away like a song fading out and I was shocked when his body began to fade too, making him look like a ghost. Within moments he was gone.

Sadly, I never learned what this older and hypothetically wiser version of myself, who traveled so far, wanted to tell me. Every birthday since then I've stopped to ponder what it might have been. I've also been working on creating a time machine, since now I know I invent one in the future. I have spent countless hours researching the structure of time and space. I have conducted experiments with mind bending results, but have kept them to myself for fear I be thought insane.

It has required great sacrifices, but the machine is almost done. Ironically I also now know what the message I wanted to tell myself is. I wish I had spent more time to find that special person I could spend the rest of my life with. I will tell myself not to invent a time machine but instead to find love and be happy. I should be ready to test the machine at the end of the month. Some simple calibrations are all that are left to do. I'll let you know how it goes when I get back.

And this time I'm also going to bring myself the winning lottery numbers.

Posted by thom at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006

New Years Soup

I should have spent New years drinking and making resolutions but I decided to make to make soup instead. It was my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant. They were nice enough to give me the recipe for it and all this time I never tried making it because I figured it would never be as good. Boy was I wrong. So I'll never lose it I'll share with you the recipe for Shrimp Crab and Fennel Bisque. It takes a little while to prepare but is worth it.

1/2 lbShrimp (70-90 count)
1/4 cupCelery
1/2 cupCarrot
1 cupOnion
1/2 bulbFennel, no core, stems or leaves
1 teaspoonGarlic, minced
1 TablespoonTomato Paste
1/2 cupDry White Wine
10 threadsSaffron
1 1/2 QuartsWater
1/4 lbRice, Cooked
1/2 cupHeavy Cream, heated
1/4 cupTomato Sauce
2 cupsLump Crabmeat
Pernod liquor to taste
Sea Salt and Cayenne pepper to taste
Chopped Chives

Heat a large pot, enough to hold 2 gallons of liquid. Add some oil and saute the shrimp until they turn pink. Turn heat down to medium and add the celery, carrots, onions, fennel and garlic, saute until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the wine, add the saffron and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the water, stock and rice. Cook for 35-50 minutes or until the rice is very soft. Using an immersion blender, puree the soupuntil there are no grains of rice left whole (this will take a while). Strain through a china cap or strainer.

Add the hot cream, tomato sauce, peeled shrimp, crabmeat. Add salt and cayenne pepper, and Pernod to taste. Divide into 6 bowls, garnish with chopped chives and enjoy.

My notes: The recipe calls for you to add shrimp twice. I only added 1/4 to 1/3 of the shrimp first because it just gets pureed so I figure you still get the flavor using a little bit. Also, I made a stock with the water and shrimp shells so that really pumps up the shrimp flavor too. I used too much cayenne pepper (1/2 to 3/4 tsp) and probably not enough Pernod. I'd probably use less next time and just keep some tabasco handy at the table. The recipe also says to cut the veggies into a 1 inch dice but since you're going to blend them all up at some point go ahead and cut them however you like. Oh yeah, I didn't actually heat the cream either — it didn't seem to make a difference.

p.s. Immersion blenders are fun. They also make great chocolate milkshakes so that's another good reason to get one. Next summer I'm going to make a nice gazpacho with it. You could use a food processor or blender instead, but cleaning it up will suck and the immersion blender is still better making milkshakes too.

Posted by thom at 08:19 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

Dream Report

Last night I dreamt I had to learn a Shakespear play for my accounting final today. Oh yes, I also dreamed I was kidnapped by an evil George Bush impersonator and, even though I felt he was threatening my life, he was nicer than the real George Bush. Later, I challenged the real George Bush to solve an integral, but he remembered the anti-derivative of 1/x was ln(x) so I had to give him a harder problem from a recent quiz I took.

Posted by thom at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

September 25, 2005

Random Thought

I was out on the patio enjoying the wonderful morning sun when a hummingbird flew right by me. It stopped and hovered not more than 3 feet away from me. It was irradescent green with a red throat -- very beautiful. Then, while suspended in mid-air, it made a little hummingbird doodie and flew away.

It made me think I wish I could poop while I hovered.

Posted by thom at 12:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2005

A Riptide of Love

In my fiction writing class the other day we did a writing exercise. The instructor said, "Write about walking down the street." And we did. After a minute he said, "Write about being born" and we did. Then we had to write about buying a puppy, write about losing a race, about talking to family, swimming in the ocean, drowning in the ocean, and finally riding on a school bus.

It turns out we were supposed to write about all these different things each by itself. I didn't do that. I always seem to misunderstand what we were supposed to do so I sort of mashed it all together. I am rather happy with the result actually so I share it with you all...

He walked down the street passing into the darkness of a broken streetlight. He would walk all night to avoid experiencing that nightmare again. Blood, screaming, and then a child's newborn cry. Maybe he should buy a puppy. You couldn't have a nightmare with a puppy around. It would jump on you and lick your face until you woke up. A stream of filthy water in the gutter raced him down the street; it was winning. This depressed him even though he wasn't sure why it mattered to him. Maybe he should go home and call his mother. Mom's liked their children calling even if it was 3:27am. Didn't they? Sometimes talking to her was like swimming in the ocean, a riptide of love. After a while you realize how far away the shore is and start looking for a lifeguard. Panic seizes you like a concrete block when you can't see anyone coming to save you. A black panic that threatened to drag you under. His mother never let him ride the school bus, afraid it would be hit by a train. Much safer to walk him to school. She was his lifeguard, his destroyer and savior.

UPDATE: I was particularly proud that I came up with the phrase "a riptide of love" and looked on google to see if anyone had used it before me. All the hits were for a gay porn movie called Riptide! ("Summer on the beach and the tide, the barometer and the testosterone level are high and mighty: the perfect condition for a riptide of love, lust and pure pounding sex."). I just hope I won't be accused one day of plagiarizing gay porn.

Posted by thom at 07:48 PM | Comments (0)

September 13, 2005

Feelin' Haiku

Japanese Art Form
Syllables: five, seven, five
No more and no less

Neurons firing
A foolish consistancy
Tiny hobgoblins

Say it isn't so!
My sweet passion fruit of love
A source of problems?

Far too many words
Brevity essence of wit
Or so witless say

One final haiku
Eyelids droop, sleep comes quickly
Drooling on keyboard

Posted by thom at 12:42 AM | Comments (0)

January 22, 2005

The Dreamer Awakes

Last night I dreamt I was asked to fly a private plane to nevada. I then spent most of the dream preparing for the flight before realizing I didn't actually know how to fly. Later I was the getaway driver behind the wheel of a sporty red Toyota Celica but I kept getting lost. The night before I dreamt I fell in love but then couldn't remember her name. The night before that I was piloting a hovercraft. I normally don't remember my dreams for more that 5 minutes after I wake up — unless they're weird.

Posted by thom at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2004

Life Lessons

One of the last times I saw my Grandfather I took him to the bank to take care of some business. Someone there had written the following on a chalkboard: Security isn't about what you have but learning what you can live without. If this is true (and I think it is) then today I am a very secure man.

Posted by thom at 11:02 PM | Comments (1)

August 21, 2004

Treasure on the Highest Shelf

My sister and niece are in town vistting. Last night (well after her bedtime) my niece comes into the living room...

"Look! I got gum!"

"You've got gum?" I ask.

"She's got gum," my sister comfirms as she follows her into the room.

"Ah yes! I recognize that gum now. I thought I put it on a high shelf," I say.

"Not high enough. We do that at home too, so she's learned all the good stuff is on the high shelves," my sister tells me as my niece proudly pops the gum in her mouth and starts chomping away.

My niece has already learned an important lesson: In the land of the little people the treasure is always on the highest shelf.

Posted by thom at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

Seventy Naked Men

Tonight I went for coffee with my cousin Jennifer and some of her friends. Today is her 27th birthday today but she says she doesn't celebrate it because every year something bad happens on her birthday. This year the bad thing was someone broke into her car and took her cellphone and address book. Thinking it might cheer her up to know everyone has similar experiences I told her on my 30th birthday I got stood up on a date and the power company was working nearby and cut the power for the entire block so I was faced with spending the evening alone in my cold, dark apartment. Not a fun birthday but arguably not necessarily worse. Alan, who had been sitting quietly with his girlfriend Jasmine, chimed in: "I spent my last birthday with 70 naked men." Everyone nodded. The group silently agreed his was the best worst birthday story and no one was brave enough to ask for details.

Posted by thom at 01:29 AM | Comments (2)

April 25, 2004

Mr Empty Head

Sorry for not posting much as of late. I know there are at least a few people who check almost every day so for those devoted readers I post a happy song. Perhaps it counts as more wistful — either way it's still pretty. It always makes my Cochlea feel good.

Posted by thom at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2004

Saber Tooth Tiger of Love

Grrrumph!

Creation seems to come out of imperfection. It seems to come out of a striving and a frustration, and this is where I think language came from. It came from our desire to transcend our isolation and have some sort of connection with one another. And it had to be easy when it was just simple survival. Like the word water, we came up with a sound for that, or saber tooth tiger right behind you, we came up with a sound for that. But when it gets really interesting is when we use that same system of symbols to communicate all the abstract and intangible things that we're experiencing. What is frustration? Or what is anger? Or love? When I say love, the sound comes out of my mouth and it hits the other person's ear, travels through this byzantine conduit in their brain, through their memories of love, or lack of love, and they register what I'm saying and they say yes, they understand. But how do I know they understand, because words are inert, they're just symbols, they're dead, you know? And so much of our experience is intangible. So much of what we perceive cannot be expressed. It's unspeakable. And yet, you know when we communicate with one another, and we feel that we've connected, and we think that we're understood, I think we have a feeling of almost spiritual communion. And that feeling might be transient, but I think it's what we live for.

Happy Valentine's Day...

Posted by thom at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Just Get Me Out of Here

I really should write something. Really. But my mind of late has assumed a mush-like state. Thoughts swirl around, crash into one another, and then stumble off in a daze to the dark corners of my mind. It's kind of like a Mental Demolition Derby. In computer science there is a condition known as thrashing which happens when you try to make the computer do too many different things at the same time. The poor little computer spends all its time switching between the tasks but doesn't actually spend any time on the tasks themselves. Seeing as I have neither a job nor a girlfriend it's sort of hard to imagine I'm that busy. Maybe it's more like an endless loop.

Since none of this is particularly interesting I will leave you with a little wisdom from Joe:

"I was thinking that everyone I loved I still love They are just below the horizonline in my mind's eye, just waiting for them to come up like the sun again. These are the people I pined for, longed for, cried over, would have done anything for. I think that the great challenge in life is to have an experience and not be bitter about it. Love is painful for everyone. To get the full high you've got to pay the full price. What is the full price? It's the devastation of its loss.

Allen Ginsberg once said - love doesn't die, it just get buried under fear and misunderstandings, and the accumulation of missed connections and failures to be brave. It gets buried under all that sludge. It's funny that if someone expresses love for us it means they owe us all kinds of things. From then on, once the word love has come up, the other person is on trial."

I hope the Jury finds everyone innocent of all charges.

Posted by thom at 12:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

Dubious Safety Features

"Would you like to go fly some aerobatics sometime?" he asked.

"Sure, I've always wanted to try that," was my reply.

A week later we were standing on the tarmac performing the ground-check of the plane. Everything seemed firmly attached and we were ready to don our parachutes and climb into the cockpit. Once we were all strapped in he says, "I forgot to tell you but you can kick the windows out."

"Kick the windows out?"

"Yeah, it's a safety feature..."

"Kicking the windows out is a safety feature? Why would I want to kick out the window?"

"Oh, you'd only want to do it if things got really bad - like if the wing fell off or something."

"Ah, of course. I probably would feel like kicking the window out in that case."

Posted by thom at 04:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 31, 2004

Green Tea and Citrus

No one has ever asked me how I came up with the name for my blog. The truth is: I didn't. Sarah, my ex-special ladyfriend, was visiting and surfing the web:

"What are you reading?" I asked.

"That article you linked to about copyrights..."

"I didn't think you'd find that interesting."

"You found it interesting, and thus I find it interesting by association," she proclaimed.

I simply recognized the brilliance of the phrase and thus iba was born on January 18th, 2003. After we broke up I thought about renaming it. I thought about it a lot. After I was told I was living in the past I thought about it even more. But it is the perfect name (even if I don't manage to actually be interesting very often) and my reasons for changing it would be petty and spiteful.

I've been reading The Future Does Not Compute by Stephen Talbott and it has a lot to say about the past. He says it is a mistake the try and make human decisions about the future by trying to extrapolate from the past. He makes a very good point:

Ask yourself about the critical decisions in your life. How did you choose your present vocation? There are, of course, very sober ways for doing this. Begin by taking a few psychological tests to inventory your skills and aptitudes, personality type, likes and dislikes, character, stability, financial requirements, geographic preferences, physical characteristics (strength, endurance, handicaps), and so on. Then align this inventory with a similar analysis of all the possible vocations (basic skills required, profiles of the most successful people in each vocation ... ). Finally, identify the closest fit and (presto!) there's your future -- presumably a well-adjusted, profitable, and happy one.

But, no, something's not right here. Have you, or has anyone you know, ever made an important decision by weighing all related factors, adding them up, and then obeying the sum? This is not really your future we're talking about; it's your past. The real question is, what do you choose to become -- despite what you are now? What future not already embodied in the past will you embrace? Of the great figures of history, where would they be if they had merely hewed to a reasonable future? Joan of Arc. The first black in a white Mississippi college. The first woman doctor. The soldier who dives on a hand grenade to protect his comrades -- what sort of a future is that? Yet we honor him.

Or take marriage. Shall I choose a wife reasonably, because all the indicators point to our being well-adjusted and happy, or shall I plunge into a future I cannot fully see, but that I am strangely, mysteriously, drawn to, dimly recognizing something of myself (but not yet myself) in my partner? Is there really a choice to be made between the perfectly compatible marriage of the inventory-takers and the reality cited by Adolf Gueggenbuhl-Craig? Marriage, he says, is

a special path for discovering the soul .... One of the essential features of this soteriological pathway is the absence of avenues for escape. Just as the saintly hermits cannot evade themselves, so the married persons cannot avoid their partners. In this partially uplifting, partially tormenting evasionlessness lies the specific character of this path.

Every question about the future -- every human question -- is like this. We strike out into the unknown, with a hope and a vision perhaps, but without an adequate "basis" for our decisions. After all, a perfectly adequate basis would mean the decision was trivial, because divorced from questions of human destiny. Unfortunately, however, broad areas of our lives have fallen under the spell of the computational approach, where we imagine the computer -- the past -- to hold the secret of a future that is, therefore, no longer a future.

I have spent so many years under this computation spell trying to discover my reasonable future that breaking the spell required more than a simple kiss. I have spent so much of my life trying to quanitifying the intangible, to digitize it and then sum it up and thereby protect myself from the unpleasant and unpredictable that I lost my way. Call it an occupational hazard for nerds. Sarah, you helped me find my true path in this life again, even if I haven't the slightest clue where it will now lead.

I'm having trouble bringing this rambling about my inner whatnot-ness to some sensible conclusion or point. I feel like the Del Griffith of blogs. What the hell was my point anyway? Oh yes! The Name. It is a good name. A fine name. I can't imagine ever changing it.

And now this sentimental fool will leave you with a poem about the waxing moon and hope...

LOOKING AT THE MOON AND THINKING OF ONE FAR AWAY

The moon, grown full now over the sea,
Brightening the whole of heaven,
Brings to separated hearts
The long thoughtfulness of night....
It is no darker though I blow out my candle.
It is no warmer though I put on my coat.
So I leave my message with the moon
And turn to my bed, hoping for dreams.

Posted by thom at 06:37 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 29, 2004

My Littlest Best Friend

Today's entry is about fond memories. I was visiting my friends Dave and Jerusa and their little son, Zach. I've been so lucky and privileged to watch Zach grow up over the years, although I don't get to visit as often as I'd like. As the perpetually single guy who loves kids and wants to start a family but hasn't found the right woman yet* I naturally tend to spend more time interacting with Zach than the adults when I do visit. As a result I've sort of become his favorite adult I think. Usually it's less than 2 minutes after I walk in the door before Zach is tugging at my pants leg or taking my hand and saying, "Tommy, come look at this!" Since I don't get much kid-time in my life I can never resist.

This visit I was trying to spend a little more time with Dave and Jerusa. Zach kept trying to get my attention by showing me his favorite toys or saying "Look what I can do!" before performing his newest trick. Each time with a little more urgency as he noticed I was paying more attention to his parents than to him. After about 10 minutes he was getting frustrated and was intent on disrupting the adults' conversation so I would give him my undivided attention. Dave told his son he could either behave or go play in his room.

"No!" was Zach's reply.

Dave is about the best dad I know and took Zach into the bedroom for a quiet talk. He spoke very quietly and I couldn't make it out from the other room but I'm sure he said something like, "Tommy is my friend and I want to talk to him without being interrupted." For Zach it was too much and from the other room I could hear him proclaim at the top of his lungs...

"No! Tommy is MY FRIEND!!!!"

It was one of those little moments when someone touches your heart when you least expected it. It doesn't happen a lot in this life - at least not for this chronically single guy. I want to start a family so much. I need moments like this everyday for the rest of my life.

*sigh* Maybe I should just go invade New Zealand instead...

Posted by thom at 11:59 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 10, 2004

Writing Aerobics #1

I feel like a traveller of old who has lost his way on a moonless night. Huddled over a damp, smokey fire wondering what dark fate might await him in the gloom. Moments spent in the warm company of friends seem distant and more precious than he ever realized before - a treasure that has fallen from his pocket on the road. He reassures himself his path will be rediscovered in the morning and passes the night recalling fables of a coming dawn.

Posted by thom at 11:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 25, 2003

Most Richly Blessed

For Christmas I thought I'd post an excelent and thoughtful prayer I discovered over at shwango. She posted it for Thanksgiving but it's a timeless classic. There is a dance version of the prayer you can download too.

Most Richly Blessed

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things,
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for -- but everything I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

-Anonymous Soldier, American Civil War

Posted by thom at 11:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2003

What is Love?

"Love is a speeding truck whose driver doesn't see the ball that has bounced into the road."

I woke up this morning with an uneasy feeling. I couldn't recall specifically what I was dreaming about but I had this awful feeling that the concept of "valid HTML" played a non-trivial part in my dream. At least I am not alone.

Posted by thom at 09:02 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 16, 2003

I Had a Dream

In my dream I had a blog. Everybody told me they read it. That is how I knew it was a dream.
Posted by thom at 09:58 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 26, 2003

Separated at Birth

I finally got around to editing some home movies that had languished in a closet. I also figured out how to use some of the slightly more complex functions of iMovie so I can do many more fun projects with it now. If I can get it to display audio waveforms then I will be in seventh heaven. I spent a little over two hours to come up with a 10 minute movie. I also noticed the following image which makes me wonder if hair bunnies run in the family...

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Posted by thom at 03:04 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 25, 2003

The Zen of Dating and Employment

My-Friend: Maybe if I say I will NEVER get married then I will meet someone.

Me: That ALMOST worked for me.

My-Friend: Almost is better than nothing. You should try again. Tell yourself that you don't want a girlfriend and that's when you'll find one. Tell everyone you don't want to get married and suddenly you'll have a wife.

Me: Maybe I should try telling myself and everyone I don't want a job first?

Posted by thom at 01:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Sunday Funnies

When I was 6 years old we got a puppy. Someone mentioned to my dad you could train them to pee on old newspapers so you didn't have to worry about letting them out. Dad thought this was a great idea. There was a spray you could buy that you sprayed on the paper to help train them. After a few weeks the puppy got the idea and things were working out swell. The puppy didn't even need the spray anymore. She just knew that newspapers were something she was supposed to pee on. Then one Sunday dad brought in the paper, set it down next to his chair, and went to the kitchen for some coffee. Upon his return he discovers the puppy squatting over his paper. He was not pleased. Thus ended our puppy's paper-training phase.

Posted by thom at 10:40 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 21, 2003

Am I as Interesting as my Weblog?

I was looking at my log files and noticed someone found my page by searching on google for the word "interesting". My heart jumped! Had I snagged yet another top position on google? Um, no. I've gone through 11 pages of search results so far without finding a link to Interesting by Association (Ah! I'm on page 14!). I did however stumble across wannabegirl's webpage that poses the question: Are you as interesting as your weblog?

And the verdict is...

"You are just as interesting as your weblog!"

You have an interesting weblog and an equally interesting life. You don't need to exaggerate to make your stories sound exciting. They already are. You have a small circle of friends, both online and offline, and they all love having you around. You're an all around nice person and the best friend anyone could ever imagine having.

Given how NOT interesting even I sometimes find my blog I have a sneaking suspicion I've just been damned with faint praise. At least my friends love having me around.

UPDATE: My current blogger status is: Lowly Insect.

Posted by thom at 11:02 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 18, 2003

The Insecure Narcissist

This past weekend I got to wondering if I was hot or not. After the first few dozen voters my rating was 6.9 (out of 10) which wasn't bad - at least I rounded up to a 7. I checked back a few hours later only to discover my rating had fallen to 6.4 and could no longer round up my score. The next day (and nearly 100 voters later) my score had gone up to a respectable 7.4 which made me feel pretty good for the rest of the day. This morning I look and I've fallen back to a 6.8 score. I can still round up my score and, according to hotornot.com, I am "hotter than 64% of men on this site!" I saw my brother this weekend who had this to say:

"You need to post a better picture."

"You should have brought your digital camera."

"I didn't know you weren't hot..."

I also took an online IQ test and it told me the following:

We also compared your answers with others who have taken the test, and according to the sorts of questions you got correct, we can tell your Intellectual Type is a Facts Curator.

This means you are highly intelligent and have picked up an impressive and unique collection of facts and figures over the years. You've got a remarkable vocabulary and exceptional math skills — which puts you in the same class as brainiacs like Bill Gates. And that's just some of what we know about you from your test results.

They knew even more about me from my test results but wanted to charge me 15 bucks for their insights. I place a lot of value on self-discovery, but for now I'll just have to be happy with being like Bill Gates (well, "the same class" mentally, not financially). Unfortunately, I also scored lower on my IQ test then I did as a youngster. So, as I get older I am getting less smart and less attractive. I should alert some university researcher since this blows both the "older and wiser" and "men get more attractive as they age" theories out of the water.

Finally, as I was writing this entry, I searched Google for other Insecure Narcissists. I found one who has some amazing adventures. The blog hasn't been updated in over six month but I can't tell if that's because the author is too preoccupied admiring himself to write or because he is insecure and afraid people won't like his writing. I haven't had time to find any other interesting links in the other 1,790 results. Post a comment if you find something funny.

Posted by thom at 10:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

November 14, 2003

Faith and Reason

I have never believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. My earliest religious thought as a child was: if God is All Powerful then why does He need a book? Why didn't he just put everything he needs me to know in my heart? Given how many different interpretations of the bible there seem to be wouldn't something like math make more sense? Two plus two still equals four even after 2000 years and no one has managed to change that yet.

Years later I read a book about the history of Mathematics called "Pi in the Sky" by John Barrow. It talked about Godel's Incompleteness Theorem and how it meant there were mathematical statements that, unlike 2+2=4, you could never prove to be true or false. He then went on to observe:

If we define religion to be a system of thought which contains unprovable statements, so it contains an element of faith, then Godel has taught us that not only is mathematics a religion but it is the only religion able to prove itself to be one.

When I read this my childhood thoughts came rushing back. The problem with this mathematical spirituality is it doesn't give you the slightest clue as to what are the right things to have faith in. What to put your faith in is up to you to choose - free will coming back to bite you on the ass.

Despite all my thinking on the subject I still don't claim to know the right things to put my faith in. I believe in the goodness of the human heart, but I also believe the Bible is right when it warns that sometimes our sinful desires lead us to make the wrong choice. I believe the right path is to find the balance between faith and reason:

"it is important for human beings to strike the balance in belief. Believing too much is gullible and superstition, whereas believing too little is cynicism and skepticism."

In difficult times sometimes we lose our faith almost without realizing it. Those times are when we most need to sit down and think about what we believe.

"Faith seeks, understanding finds...unless you believe, you will not understand."

Posted by thom at 11:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 07, 2003

California Dreamin'

Last night I dreamed I went on a comical crime spree with a gang of my buddies. Nothing bad, mostly just vandalism, but all of it very funny. We end up in a generic drug store somewhere after having acquired quite an arsenal. The gang wandered around the store fighting and wisecracking - all in a very entertaining and funny manner. But right before things got ugly I got afraid that someone might get hurt so I ran out of the store and warned people not to go in. Then things went kind of fuzzy and time passed like it does in dreams and movies - one jump-cut and I find myself wandering around the store a few weeks later. I find my friends are now living in the store. Their beds are in the center of the store; they are living in store displays. I sit down and talk to the ringleader sitting on the bed with his girlfriend. "What happened? Why are you still here?" I ask. He is very quiet and I can tell something is wrong. "If only we hadn't been so entertaining..." he says softly. Then I notice a tiny camera on his nightstand. I realize this is their punishment: they have been sentenced to a Reality TV show.

I had another dream after the first where I am at some cyber-tribal techno-nerd gathering. I try to impress the others by talking about how the business card-sized recordable CDs are great for making back-ups. I look around and people have lost interest and are looking at their laptop computers again. "And the 3 inch ones are great too," I add hoping to regain their interest. The room goes quiet and all you can hear is the soft clack of laptop keyboards.

I'm trying to figure out what the dreams mean. I guess the moral of the first is you can get away with anything as long as you're entertaining. The second dream must mean I'm afraid of being boring and uninteresting.

Posted by thom at 11:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2003

Losing an Hour

Last weekend was that time of year when we all get an extra hour back but then spend that hour trying to figure out how to reset all our clocks. I like to save my hour - just tuck it in my hip pocket and save it for a week or two and pull it out when I feel I need an extra hour the most. I was going to pull it out of my pocket tonight but when I looked for it all I found was a previously undiscovered hole in my pocket. No extra hour. I'm not sure if it fell out in one big clump of time or trickled out second-by-second. All I know is it's all gone now. So if you find an extra hour somewhere then it's probably mine and you should return it. I'm offering a 15 minute reward.

Posted by thom at 10:54 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 29, 2003

Just Plain Silly

John Lennon goes to Africa

No one has left any comments for the past few entries. Thus I have come to the conclusion that silly pictures of yours truly are far more popular. I have no other option but to post the following very silly picture...

Posted by thom at 06:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 19, 2003

Socks Redux

This has nothing to do with sock puppets. It's almost time to do laundry here again so, in the spirit of procrastination that Interesting by Association embodies, I just opened a new package of socks instead. I noticed they now come in a resealable bag. Why on Earth would I want to reseal my new socks? Maybe it's so they don't lose that new-sock smell? Or maybe I'm supposed to put the soiled socks back in the bag for proper disposal at a toxic waste dump? Or maybe... well, I just plain don't know what purpose it could serve.

Posted by thom at 12:31 PM | Comments (3)

October 16, 2003

A Date with Mr Potatohead

From the I've been meaning to post this for a while now file I present Eileen's date with Mr Potatohead...

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Posted by thom at 02:40 PM | Comments (3)

October 15, 2003

Great Christmas Ideas for Nerds

Posted by thom at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2003

Home Movie Star

"Is it dark enough yet?!"

"No, it's not dark enough yet."

"Is it dark enough now?!"

Us kids used to get real excited when we were going to watch home movies. Dad would get out the projector and movie screen around 5 o'clock before dinner and we would run around in a tizzy because it still wasn't dark enought yet to watch movies. We tried our best to distract ourselves but why, oh why, wasn't it dark yet?! When it was finally time we would sit exhausted in the living room, delighted by the light dancing across the screen reconstructing memories of Christmas Past.

The years rolled by and technology marched on - we had our home movies transferred to videotape. The Bell & Howell projector just sat in a closet collecting dust. The movie screen has too. It just occupies space now. We don't need it anymore. We have the VCR; so much more convenient. We haven't used the projector in probably 25 years. Time to throw the screen away.

It's the sensible thing to do. Mom wants to sell the house in the forseeable future and it would just be another useless piece of junk to move into a much smaller home. But it doesn't fit in the trash can. I just need to get the hacksaw out and cut the screen off the stand and it will fit. I've put off doing it for two weeks now. I couldn't find the hacksaw - but I wasn't looking for it either. This morning Mom found the hacksaw. No excuse now. I should do it today before the trash can fills up. I really should do it. But I keep putting it off. It doesn't seem right. The stupid screen is attached to my deepest memories of family.

We tried giving it to The Salvation Army. It seems such a special object that it should go on with another family. But to them it's just an old piece of junk that nobody else wants. I know it's just a piece of junk now too, but part of me still doesn't feel right cutting it up and shoving it in the trash. Maybe I can put it off a few more days. I could say I need my brother to help hold it while I saw. Maybe I could try and sell it on ebay? Heck, it's almost 40 years old now - almost an antique! Or maybe I'll just pop the home movies into the VCR tonight and watch them until I realize it's not the projector or the screen or the VCR that's important. It's the memories that matter and they can only be viewed with the heart.

Posted by thom at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2003

Choosing Words Wisely

I'm writing today's blog entry from 30,000 feet over, um, somewhere. Utah perhaps. Where are all the lines you see on maps showing state boundaries? It must be those state budget cuts I keep hearing about.

I managed to get myself seated in an emergency exit row and no one else is seated next to me so I am in tall person heaven. I was able to stretch out and get a little nap. I can't remember the last time I flew and didn't spend an hour or two seated in a full row with my arms in my lap and my shoulders hunched over so as to not keep elbowing the person next to me in the ribs. It's really weird. Comfort on a plane, what a concept.

The astute reader is probably wondering if I have a cute little story for today, some soulful insight into life, or at least a couple funny hyperlinks to click on. Nope, none of that today. Just some hastily chosen words expressing my dismay at not really being able to find anything to complain about on today's flight.

Update: After being told to put away my laptop computer and prepare for landing I heard something that bothered me. The pilot came on the intercom and assured everyone we'd "be on the ground in a few minutes." That sounds to me like they are trying to cover all the bases. If the wings suddenly fell off we'd surely be on the ground in a few minutes. Why not say we'll be "touching down" or "landing safely" in a few minutes? Maybe they're trying to prevent lawsuits...

Plaintiff: "Your Honor, right before the wings fell off the plane and it plummeted to the ground, exploding in a ball of flames, the pilot clearly said they would be landing momentarily. That is, er, um, FALSE ADVERTISING!"

Defense: "No, the pilot said they'd be 'on the ground in a few minutes' which is what happened."

Judge: "Case dismissed"

Posted by thom at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003

Goodnight, Eileen

So the trip to Denver is winding down. Today we took a scenic drive out to the mountains and enjoyed a nice brunch. Sis was appalled when she watched the man at the table next to us pay his tab with a $100 bill and then not leave a tip. Tonight I get everything packed up ready for my trip to the airport bright and early tomorrow. It's been good seeing everyone but these are difficult times too. Everyone is stressing about work and Eileen can sometimes leave the adults just plain frazzled at the end of the day.

Tonight Eileen decided Daddy's ginger ale was want she wanted to drink. She managed to get most of it down the front of her PJ's. No worries, she just sucked the last drops of soda out of her PJ's. Now she's dancing/running/spinning in front of the TV watching The Thornberries. Oops, it's over now - time for Eileen beddie bye.

And now Eileen will make her first ever blog entry: rrtty6ttrrr tkkiiykk ndfgt,;// kjyhyhh hub u u i./;.../yty bhjjj bvhiik k,bhjl >= hxxt xxxxx. A great writer is born. Goodnight everyone and remember to count your blessings before you lay your head down to sleep tonight.

Posted by thom at 07:43 PM | Comments (1)

September 14, 2003

An Empirical Failure

Tonight last night's "Uncle T disappears 30 minutes before bedtime" theory lies in a smoking heap - laid to waste by a 2 year-old determined to stay up all night. I left at eight-thirty and walked to a bar around the corner to kill some time until I got a call saying it was safe to come home. After two hours I snuck back and stuck my head in the door only to hear the sound of daddy reading yet another bedtime story. Back to the bar. Three hours and five pints of beer later there was still no call. I had hoped I might meet some nice woman, but Sunday night doesn't seem to be a big singles' night in Denver — go figure. After three and a half hours I decided to return anyway. Eileen was finally asleep. Now I am sitting a few feet away from her writing this — very quietly.

Since I arrived I've now watched "Shrek" six times. At this rate I will have watched it 21 times by the time I leave. Wanna guess what my niece's favorite movie is these days?

UPDATE: Just as I finished this entry I heard a sleepy "I'm not happy" cry from my niece a few feet away. I stayed very quiet. No little footsteps in the dark coming closer to me. Whew! She didn't wake up! A few minutes later I went to check on her and in the dim light I saw she had buried herself under the covers - very unusual for her. So i got a little closer to make sure she was okay and realized she wasn't under the covers. She wasn't even in bed. Where is she?! I look around but don't see her. I look down and see she's asleep on the floor. I've come within inches of trodding upon her. I wonder if I should put her back in bed. Then I recall the lesson about letting sleeping nieces lie and decide she's just fine right where she is.

Son of UPDATE: Another unhappy sigh and then the tiny footsteps. Happily she just wanted a little help back into bed and went back to sleep in seconds. Whew! Time for Uncle T to go right to sleep now.

Posted by thom at 11:46 PM | Comments (1)

September 13, 2003

The Neverending Bedtime Story

It took an hour to get the niece to sleep tonight. I can't even remember all the bedtime stories we read - they're all a blur now. It was so easy last night. Five minutes! Boom! She was out! Not tonight. At one point I hid in the other room out of sight. Eileen made a beeline for me. Dad tried to read her yet another story, but she took the book out of his hands and gave it to me to read instead. Then she did her best to read US a few stories. Then it was time to do another lap around the house. Then maybe another drink from the sippy cup. Then back to bed - no, wait, yet another lap would be better. Finally she put her pillow in front of me to rest my head on and ten minutes later she was off to dreamland. Tomorrow night we try the "Uncle T dissapears 30 minutes before bedtime" approach.

Posted by thom at 10:34 PM | Comments (3)

The Elk Button

Today I went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with my brother-in-law and little niece, Eileen. Our time there was evenly divided between chasing my niece to the next diorama and back to the Elk Button. You press the button and you can hear the mating call of the elk. And if you visit the museum with my niece you will hear the lovelorn cry of the adult male elk over and over and over and over. She really, really likes hearing the elk. Today she showed how she can press the button with her finger. She can walk on the button. She can kneel on the button. She can stomp on the button. She can lie on the button. She can roll on the button. She can sit on the button. She can press the button with her head. She's done it all. I get the feeling when she turns 18 she is going to marry an elk.

Once we got done with that it was naptime. We didn't make it home in time so naptime actually happened in the car. Eileen, as her mother put it, doesn't handle state transitions like waking up well so her dad and me spent the next two hours talking about software while watching her nap in the car. After witnessing one of her two hour meltdown tantrums yesterday I've learned the wisdom of letting sleeping nieces lie.

Upon waking she decided she didn't want to get out of the car. Today, the path of least resistance lead directly to the Denver Children's Museum, a fun place with lots of fun little stuffed animals lying around everywhere. Eileen decided today's game was "I have them all" and proceeded to collect all the stuffed animals she could hold in her little arms and then some. All in all, a very good day.

Posted by thom at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 12, 2003

Death of a Sock Puppet

"Mom, do you have something I can tie to my bag so I can pick it out in baggage claim?"

"Just a second - let me think. Do you have a sock?"

"A sock?"

"Yes, I've seen people tie a sock to their bag."

"Um...."

She had a point. I'd never seen a sock tied to a bag so I'm pretty sure the chances of an identical bag with a sock tied to it showing up at baggage claim are slim.

"One second... I found a sock you can use."

So if there's an emergency you can find me at the airport. I'm the guy with a sock tied to his luggage.

Posted by thom at 07:24 AM | Comments (4)

September 11, 2003

Big Jet Airplane

Tomorrow I wing my way to Denver for a family visit. Thus my somewhat neglected blog will most likely become my profoundly neglected blog for the next week or so. Uninteresting by Abdication.

Posted by thom at 11:19 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2003

New E-Mail Address!!!

I can finally dump my slow, clunky, spam-infested hotmail account! You should now send me e-mail at "thom" at (i.e. @) "this-domain.com" (i.e. paulthom.org). There, let those stupid spambots try and parse that. Die, spambot! DIE!

Bonus brownie points for the first person to actually send me e-mail.

Posted by thom at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2003

A Nerd's Search for Love.

A nerd goes on a date. Let's say there's a 50/50 chance that he'll like her enough to ask for a second date. Likewise, assume there's a similar probability that she'll, in turn, like him enough to accept. This means there is only a 1 in 4 chance of a second date.

Now assume our dating couple is a bit more selective. Each needs a prospective mate to be compatible on physical, intellectual, emotional and sexual levels. For each of these qualities let's once again say that the odds are even for a match. Now the probability of finding your soulmate drops to less than 1 in 100. Thus to find my soulmate I'll need to date, on average, nearly a hundred women - and that's assuming my luck is average, which doesn't seem to be the case recently. I might have to date two or three hundred women to find Ms Right. I'd better get busy.

Posted by thom at 01:09 PM | Comments (3)

August 23, 2003

Thought for the Day

When from our better selves we have too long been parted by the hurrying world, and droop, sick of its business, of its pleasures tired, how gracious, how benign, is Solitude.

William Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805)

Posted by thom at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2003

Random Funniness

I found this picture so funny I stayed up past my bedtime to make sure it got into my blog.

I also discovered today that the laptop computer that was worth over three grand when I got it is now worth 140 bucks on ebay. The computer I'm now considdering replacing it with is worth NEARLY THREE TIMES THAT! Welcome to the low-budget world.

Posted by thom at 01:21 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2003

URL Soup

Time for yet another links post:

Posted by thom at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

I want see-thru Wallpaper...

Being a man means I am a big fan of scantily clad women. Madison Ave has known for a long time that "skin sells". Paige Davis, the host of TLC's Trading Spaces, also gets it. TV Guide gets it. However it just seems to freak-out TLC network execs. I'm debating whether or not I can justify buying this week's TV Guide in order to maximize my TV viewing pleasure. I also have this unexplainable urge to buy some wallpaper...

Posted by thom at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

July 27, 2003

A Tincture of What?

Fred has a new blog! It's the same as the old blog. Actually, I found out about it in March but it sort of, um, got buried under stuff. Sorry about that, Fred. In other news: PETUNIA!

Posted by thom at 09:27 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2003

General Kookiness

I took a nap today and dreamt I was late to a wedding. I don't know why since I haven't been to a wedding in ages nor am I going to a wedding anytime that I know of. Brains just do crazy stuff sometimes.

Posted by thom at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2003

Farewell, Belmont!

Farewell, Belmont! Well, I'm almost done packing up everything. All that I've collected over the years fits into roughly 40 boxes. Those fit into my 10x20 storage space. The next task is to break down the computer and not lose any cables or odds and ends. When I look at everything piled up in the corner of the apartment it feels like precious treasure one instant and worthless crap the next - like a Necker Cube made out of boxes of my junk.

While putting papers away I found an old memo from my first programming job, Cubicomp. The marketing department was throwing a big party during the SIGGraph convention for the launch of the new version of our product and was inviting all our important customers. They had a budget of something like $150,000 and had rented a very posh restaurant in San Francisco for the event. Us engineers, who the marketing department found suspiciously off-beat, had planned our own party that same week. We were having it in a hotel conference room that did double duty during the day as the Cubicomp demo suite. Our budget: $500 for beer. When us engineers heard about the marketing party (held a few days earlier) and its lavish budget our first question was, "Can we go?"

When we asked the head of marketing he got this funny expression on his face that just said, "We never thought about you strange technical types coming to the party. What if you scare the customers?" They said they'd get back to us on that one and we went back to programming. A rumor started circulating that it was going to be okay for us to go, but that marketing was going to distribute a memo detailing what constituted acceptable behavior. Us engineers felt miffed that they didn't think we could manage to act normal without some guidelines. So we wrote the following pre-emptive memo detailing proper behavior for the Engineering party:

INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM
TO: Distribution
FROM: R&D (Research & Development)
SUBJECT: Siggraph R&D Party!

In keeping with company policy, we here in R&D feel obligated to set forth the following guidelines. We hope none of these will put a crimp in your festive spirits...

  1. Can't say:
    • "Bottom Line"/"Pipeline" (Lines are okay)
    • "Upshot"
    • "Out the door"
    • "Net Result"/"End Result"
    • "Projections"
    • or any word starting in "Poly-" or ending in "-cad"
  2. Can say:
    • "All right, Dude!"
    • "Spark it up..."
    • "Let's party"
    • "Motel"
    • "It's NEW!!!"
    • "Shotgun Wedding"
    • and the word "Hot" in any context.
  3. The ill-advised will be asked to leave.
  4. Impure thoughts will be frowned upon.
  5. NO squealing like pigs.
  6. NO hallucinations that infringe on the festivities of others.
  7. Nudity MUST be kept in good taste.
  8. No lapsing into song.
  9. No mandrills or tanks.

All willing to follow the above guidelines are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The marketing acceptable-behavior memo never materialized.

Well, time to take the computers apart. God only knows when I'll be back online. Until then have a nice day.

Posted by thom at 10:06 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2003

My Dinner with Bobby

I went to dinner with my old friend Bobby tonight. I had spent all day moving boxes from my old, small storage space to my new, bigger storage space. I was tired and traffic was a mess so I decided it would be nice to take the train. I wouldn't have to pay attention or worry about getting in an accident. I could just relax.

During the ride I realized I spend too much time thinking about how to get someplace and not enough time figuring out why I'm going there. I felt tired so I got a quick catnap. Dinner went fine, and me and bobby said goodnight.

"What time is the next train?"

"I didn't look. They run every hour, so in the worst case I have to wait an hour."

We said goodbye and I start walking towards the train station. As it came into view I see a train waiting at the station about to leave. It was too far to run, I'd never make it, so I just started praying: please don't be the northbound train, please don't be the northbound train. An instant later the train pulls out of the station - heading north. I had my worst case scenario.

I checked the train schedule on the platform. The next train is two hours - I had discovered an even-worse case scenario. Thus I had even more time to think about why I was going where I was. This night has gone like the rest of my life: I didn't plan ahead believing everything would work out okay only to find myself alone on the platform waiting for the train.

I read once that as you get older and look back at your life, what seemed like random, unimportant events at the time start to look like life changing moments - like critical plot elements in a story. You realize your life reads like a book written by some unseen author. Unrelated aspects of your life interact and take on new meaning. You see your whole life becoming greater than the sum of your days. Unfortunately, I don't see that yet. My life still seems a jumble of mistakes, pleasant memories, and regrets. On the bright side, that hopefully means I'm still younger than I usually feel.

Then it hits me why I am going home. To make a plan. To find inspiration. To escape my self-imposed solitude. To rediscover a love* I had so long taken for granted I sometimes forgot it was there. This is why I am going home. To prepare to write the story of the rest of my life.

* No, not an old flame. The love of my family. I guess I should fix this up somehow to make it obvious.

Posted by thom at 12:40 AM | Comments (0)

July 09, 2003

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

The week is quickly coming to a close, which means I have to finish up packing my life's belongings into cardboard boxes. On Monday I move most of the boxes into storage. Then on Tuesday I drive to the ancestral home (i.e. I'm moving back in with Mom for a while). It'll be nice to spend time with family. For the past ten years I've only seen my mom and brother a few times a year at most, so over the next few months I'll be trying to make up for lost time.

As nice as it will be, being 39, unemployed, and one step ahead of homeless isn't very fun. I might even have to do some reflecting on how I got where I am and where I want to go from here - which is never really any fun unless you've just won the lottery or are Bill Gates. As my career has progressed and my income increased the control I've had over my work environments has decreased. One of my father's favorite books was The Peter Principal, whose premise was that organizations tend to promote people until they reach their level of incompetence. Once there they tenaciously entrench themselves by zealously protecting their equally incompetent bosses. They then proceed to drain the company of resources through executive bonus programs until only an empty husk of a once healthy enterprise remains. Fortunately this only works during the boom times when there is lots of extra money floating around to skim from. Once the boom is over they suddenly find themselves in an alien universe - one where they are actually expected to fix problems and make money instead of simply shifting blame and cashing in stock options.

Which bring us back to today. Recessions aren't any fun at all, but they serve an invaluable function: They weed out the incompetent and open up new opportunities for those who secretly believe they are smarter than their boss. I believe I'm in the latter category (okay, I might fall into both categories). I have some ideas that I want to develop further — hopefully some downtime will give me a chance to do that.

Posted by thom at 05:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

Perchance to Dream...

I had a dream last night.

I was walking down the street when I turned the corner and noticed a chalk outline of a man and a woman on the sidewalk. (There was also an outline of a donut - one of them must have been a cop.) My eye was drawn to the silhouette of their outstretched hands. I wondered if they reached out to each other in their final moments or perhaps they were letting go. I couldn't tell. As I regarded the sad, dusty scene a summer breeze embraced me. I could see the outlines had already begun to fade in the dry wind. When the first gentle rain came it would wash away any remaining trace of the hapless lovers. I wished the couple that was no more well, and hoped the rain would also wash away any bitterness or regrets so only the memory of the love they felt remained. I looked up at the sky and noticed it seemed more beautiful than before - unchanged but yet transformed. I didn't want to leave this silent memorial to a love lost, but I realized that there was nothing I could do. So I began to walk - taking my first steps into the unknown.

Posted by thom at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003

My first one-handed blog entry!

No! It's not what you're thinking. I was packing stuff up - removing double-sided tape from some photos I had on my wall. I was rubbing the leftover sticky stuff from the back with my finger. After 2 or 3 photos I notice I've managed to give myself a huge blister on my fingertip. So I decided to use a razor blade instead to scrape the tape off. One thoughtless moment and SLICE! Now I sit here, with a tourniquet on my finger, typing this. What a crappy day. I've decided to stop packing for now.

UPDATE: My finger has fallen off. Just kidding. The bleeding has stopped and now I can type with 9 fingers.

Posted by thom at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 05, 2003

Waiting for Me? Oh joy!

I recieved the following spam:

After you read this you are going to go out tonight and have the best time of your life...If you want to get out and have a great time with exactly the kind of person that you're looking for then you have to come to the right place. Guys and girls, make the selection of your choice of thousands of available mates who are sitting behind their computer screen right now just waiting for someone like you to contact them. Within minutes our automated system can have your engagement set up and have you on your way to the greatest night of your life.

If only it were that easy... *sigh*

Posted by thom at 04:53 PM | Comments (2)

Some days suck more than others...

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...and others suck more than those.

Posted by thom at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

April 21, 2003

The Care and Feeding of My Head

I wake up this morning only to discover that I've managed to sleep wrong yet again. I wonder if neck amputation is a valid medical procedure. I tried to cure myself by fixing some eggs filled with bacon bits. I've got lots of bacon because yesterday I managed to cook an entire package and resisted the urge to eat half the bacon while it was still hot. While scarfing breakfast down I found "Die Puny Humans", a blog that manages to be way more interesting than my inane ramblings. Oh yeah, the eggs-n-bacon cure failed - my neck is killing me.

Posted by thom at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2003

Sunny Baghdad

Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated by the technical intricacies of disasters. The latest news of the Colombia accident has an eerie, familiar ring to it: An unfortunate sequence of events. Avoidable, perhaps. Foreseeable, no.

I was watching the weather report in Baghdad and they super-imposed bright orange happy little suns over they map to show how hot it would be. As they zoomed over the map to each city each one got a happy little sun right on top of the city. It looked little atom bombs.

Posted by thom at 04:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 01, 2003

My Lucky Number is, um...

Wow, what a day! Not only did I win the lottery but I just got a letter in the mail saying I've been declared Leader of the Entire World! Life is good.

Posted by thom at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

March 26, 2003

You gotta see these!

I posted these movie recommendations on Real Live Preacher's weblog and decided it would be easier to make it my blog for today than to come up with something original.

Brazil (don't know if this counts as a big hit like the matrix... "Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.")

Living in Oblivion ("Woah, this must be a fuckin' dream, there's a fuckin' dwarf in it!")

Next Stop Wonderland ("I'm a temp. But that's not, like, a permanent thing.")

The Sure Thing ("Thoughts raced through his mind. Did she really want him? What had he done to deserve this bounty? Does God exist? Who invented liquid soap and why?")

The Zero Effect ("Are you telling me you can speak six languages and fly a jetliner but you don't know how to file a tax return?")

Canadian Bacon ("There's a time to think, and a time to act. And this, gentlemen, is no time to think.")

Flirting with Disaster ("San Diego has a big carjacking problem. They bump you, and when you stop, they mutilate you.")

Shakes the Clown (Okay, this isn't a must see, but is worth a look. Any movie that has a cameo by Florence Henderson as a slutty clown groupie is worth one viewing)

And now for my must see documentaries:

American Movie: The Making of Northwestern
Me & Issac Newton
Unmade Beds
Hands on a Hardbody
Sherman's March

Posted by thom at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2003

A Bad Night

It's been two weeks now since I last communicated with Sarah. I can't sleep. I can't hold her. I can't talk to her. I can't even write to her yet. I have this fear that she wrote me already but I didn't check my mail and my fascist mailperson took it away.[I have a mailbox about the size of a 35mm film canister that the US Postal Service insists on filling with junk mail everyday, miss a day = previous day's mail gone] *zigh*

Stupid Dreams Dept. I dreamed I was standing in the bank a few blocks away from home. I was trying to decide if I should rob it or not. (Somehow I get the feeling this was a fiscal anxiety dream.) For some reason I decided to robbing it seemed like a good solution to my problems so I did. I walk out the door and start walking home. Then it sudden hits me and I am filled with terror: They're going to catch me and throw me in jail for 20 years and then I won't be able to see Sarah again! I start running home so they can't catch me. I feel nauseous and panicked. I realize how stupid I am because seeing her is the most important thing to me. Then I woke up. I lay awake the rest night wishing she was there to tell me it was just a bad dream.

Posted by thom at 02:32 AM | Comments (1)

February 25, 2003

Loud, Proud, and Tacky

I ran across an old catalog for Paradise on a Hanger. Pretty hit and miss, but the hitz are worth the misses.

Posted by thom at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2003

Afganistanimation!

Well, Sarah is now in the care of Uncle Sam. I won't see her again for another 2 months (or maybe longer depending on what Uncle Sam has in store for me). She suggested I rent Super Troopers to cheer me up. It's not art, but it is very silly. I wish we could enjoy its silliness together.

In the meantime I am busying myself trying to spiff up my web site. Finally figured out why the sidebar to the right looked so wanky and I'm getting my resume in a presentable state. Graphically, it still needs more work and in every other way it needs even more work, but it's coming along.

Finally, my sister and niece are back in the US today too. Hopefully, I can get to see them sometime in the near future.

Posted by thom at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2003

Someone Extraordinary

While walking from my carport to my apartment this afternoon a middle-aged woman passing by on the street called out, "Happy Valentine's Day!" Now I've had clerks at stores say this to me before, waiters and waitresses, but never some stranger on the street. It never felt like anything other than a platitude before. A painful reminder that I hadn't found what I was searching for yet. Today was different. I wondered if this stranger could tell from looking at me that, for the first time in my life, I finally had a very special valentine. Someone who made my New Year feel full of promise and hope. Someone who became my best friend in a heartbeat. Someone whose company reminded me of what I had been missing in my life all these years, even after I had settled into a kind of quasi-comfortable solitude - companionship. For this I am thankful this day. I miss her terribly.

Posted by thom at 02:40 PM | Comments (1)

February 08, 2003

Momento

I've been told I save a lot of worthless crap. Well, I've decided that in the interest of saving space and avoiding clutter to only take pictures of the worthless crap and thus save room for the cool stuff.
Posted by thom at 07:35 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2003

"...and that's all I need!"

I have been told by a very good authority I need the following things:

  • A PINCUSHION
  • A SOAPDISH
  • AND A POTTERY FROG

"and that's all I need...."

When I first came to the bay area I spent a long time on Telegraph Ave. listening to Michael Masley making some of the most beautiful music I'd ever heard (he describes it as "outside the lunatic mainstream") on his hammered dulcimer. If I had to classify it I'd call it "new age" or world music but he calls it "East Bayou Caljun Afro-Celtic West Berkeley Freeworld music". I bought the cassette tape of his music he was selling but the tape has long since turned to mush and it wasn't until today that I found him on the web. I'll be buying his music again, this time on CD. Hopefully it will never turn to mush.
Posted by thom at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2003

Naked and Insanitary!

We caught CalTrain into the city in the morning, hopped on Muni and got off on Van Ness. Walked for more than four blocks before we found a place to eat breakfast: Tops Dinner (1801 Market Street, est. 1939). I had waffles and scrambled eggs. Yum! Anyway, this guy who looked a little bit rock and roll walked in and sat down in the booth next to us. Not wanting to be overheard, I silently mouthed "Very Donnie Osmond." Sarah just looked confused and mouthed back "I can't read lips." So I wrote it down for her instead and passed her the note. She looks at it and says out loud, "I thought you said 'Very Naughty Husband' and couldn't figure out what you meant."

Later during lunch, we were talking about the naughty husband incident and that inspired this work of art. [Editor's note: the "Naked and Insanitary" line is a combination of jokes from "Thumb Wars" and "Living in Oblivion".]

The Other Conversation: I was told leaving the toilet seat up was punishable not by being run over three times, but four times.

There's a saying in advertising, "Skin sells." After looking at this webpage that should be changed to "Skin usually sells, but not in every case."

Posted by thom at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2003

My First Blog Entry

Welcome to my first blog entry. I write this as I sit in the Barnes and Noble Pseudo-Cafe sipping my latte. Bookstores are nothing more than crack houses for smart people (I'm sure others have made this same observation). Today I added six books (alice in quantumland, entanglement, origin of minds, rational mysticism, the electric meme, and dr tatiana's sex advice to all creation) to my "I think I want to read these" list. I didn't actually buy them, mind you. No, I bought a completely different book: Lunar Lander. Mainly because I'm a sucker for memoirs from the Apollo program. And this was just today. Yesterday I bought four completely different books. Needless to say, my pile of books I haven't had time to read yet continues to grow at a fearsome rate.

For the rest of the afternoon I should be ripping off my brother's homepage for the basic layout of my homepage just to get something going. After that the plan is to write, write, write. Practice will make perfect, or at least make it less mind-numbingly boring.

Update: Spent the afternoon AND most of the evening trying to get my page laid out using nothing but Cascading Style Sheets. It's amazing how poorly Microsoft Internet Explorer does with CSS. You'd think that after, you know, like three or four major revisions of the browser they'd finally get it right. You'd think. Apparently not.

Today at the Laundromat I saw an ad for a female room mate. The listing said: No pets, no smoking, no alcohol, no drugs, no guns or bombs. I guess whoever posted the ad has had problems with women with guns and bombs before.

Posted by thom at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)