Sunday, September 28, 2008

Project Interrupted

The over-the-range microwave in our house was installed with the exhaust fan venting to the inside. Dumb. I want to make it vent to the outside.

There is a vent on the outside wall from a previous exhaust fan which was probably attached to something like this on the inside wall:

Here is the outside vent. This little baby. A nicely rusted steel vent.

I pulled it out so I could look at the hole in the wall.

I like how the remodelers just stuck a piece of 2x4 in the hole and sheetrocked over it.

Now, the problem is that this hole is not even close to where the microwaves exhaust vent is. So, I am going to have to cut a new hole about 8 inches up on the wall and then patch up this hole. Its aluminum siding, so I can't just hop on over to Lowe's and buy a new piece.

Anyway, I was all psyched up to do this project on Saturday, but the MIL and FIL are visiting this weekend and the prospect of being cooped up in the kitchen all day kind of turned me off. So, this is gonna have to wait.

Wall of Tool

Looks kinda like the inside of my head. A little bit haphazard.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Last night I ate a pound of raw brussels sprouts while watching Run Man Run. It was a bad idea but the movie was good.

I think that I could refuel my own CNG car today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Care for a Mint?

Dude on the bus sitting next to me this morning had the worst breath. Almost canine in its aroma. And the bus was packed too, so of course he was right on top of me. I don't get it. I can see, and forgive bad breath at 6 in the evening, but 7 in the morning? from a well groomed man in a suit?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm Famous

Richmond Canal Walk a work in progress

"a man reading over lunch by the water"

That was ME. I swear it.

My agent has practically promised me in the near future a role as "innocent bystander" and "man who speaks on the condition of anonymity"

I'm goin' places, ba-by!

Rednecks, their Dogs, and the Women Who Cash their Disability Checks

I am so sick of dogs. Everybody's got at least one, a lot have more than that, and they leave them tied up for hours where they yap and yelp and howl constantly.

I ask you, what is the point of having a dog if all you do is leave it tied up in the back yard all day, and as is the case with the neighbor behind us, all night?

The neighbor to the left us, I've mentioned her before, is never home, so mostly her three dogs are indoors, where I can play fun games with them, but when she is home all three of them are tied up in the front yard. And they are as stupid as all get out. I've lived here for over a year, why do you still bark at me when I come out the front door? And they stink. Bad. I can deal with it though.

The neighbors to the right have a golden retriever on a runner in the back yard 12/7. He runs over and barks like an idiot whenever my kids are in the back yard playing. I've thrown enough balls of clay and acorns at him that all I have to do is look at him and he will usually slink back to his doghouse made of pallets and chicken wire. My wife vetoed my idea of placing one section of stockade fencing at the end of his run so that he can't see directly into our yard. She'll go away for a weekend sometime...

The last dog I am going to talk about today is the worst. He lives on the property behind ours, and surprisingly his owners are neither rednecks or white trash, just ignorants. He is outside all day and all night every day yapping and whining and barking and howling and growling and yelping.

I actually feel bad for him, the Ignorants have a fenced-in yard, yet they keep him tied up outside the fence on the back corner of the their property up against the creek on a 6 foot leash. I'm no animal rights activist, but that is just cruel.

Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep only to be repeatedly woken up on the cusp of sweet sweet dreams, I contemplated going out there and cutting his rope and letting him go. Not being sure of his temperament, concern for not only my safety but others, I opted to do nothing. A call to animal control is in the near future though.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fabulous Spaghetti Western Review®

I make no apologies for my obsession with Westerns. Some guys like comic books and Star Wars; I like cigarillos and squinting.

I watched a trilogy of sorts of Sergio Corbucci movies this weekend. Two of them I own. Django, which I just bought, and The Great Silence, which I purchased last Christmas with a gift card. Corbucci, in my mind, is the second best writer/director of spaghetti westerns behind only his buddy Sergio Leone, the man who brought us The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Once Upon a Time in the West.

The Great Silence
My favorite of these three movies. The Great Silence is unique in that it's set in the dead of winter in Utah and the cold, snowy terrain is as much of a character as Silence himself, so named because bounty killers cut his throat as a child rendering him mute.

His life has been a never ending quest for revenge against any and all bounty killers, because not only did they scar him for life physically, they also killed his father.

Anyway, that's enough of the back story. If you've seen all of Leone's movies and are just itchin' to see another spaghetti western, this is your best choice as far as I am concerned.

The DVD extra features contain a happy ending which is downright hilarious, too.

8.5 stars out 10.

The Hellbenders
In case you are wondering, a hellbender is a giant salamander. This is a story about some Confederate soldiers, who call themselves the Hellbenders (think Flying Hellfish), and steal a convoy of money with which they hope to revive the Civil War.

I really liked this one, because the story was original and well written and the ending caught me by surprise, which isn't hard to do admittedly (will Nemo escape? will his father find him in time? I just don't know. I just don't know).

I don't own it yet, but its definitely a contender for my collection.

8.0 stars out of 10.

This movie gets all the hype. An international following, cultish even. Franco Nero is an Italian version of Clint Eastwood... Many unauthorized (and bad) sequels... Blah blah blah. I fell victim to the hype and bought Django. It was pretty cheap so I'm not too worried about it.

Can't say that I was too impressed with it though. The story was pretty standard other than Django dragging a coffin around wherever he went. The set design reminded me of any 1950s western with painted backdrops and a saloon that John Wayne could have been filmed in. And the acting was rather wooden and not dynamic.

I judge it harshly perhaps, and I might appreciate it more after another viewing, but I'll still give it 7 stars out of 10.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Web Archaeology

Pretty cool site my brother showed me.

Here's me circa 2003.

Thanks, Chevy

Have you ever changed drum brakes before? Usually, it's a painful process messing with an unholy compilaton of springs and bits of metal straight out of the forges of hell. Its not something to which I look forward.

My wife kind of forced my hand this weekend however. She took the initiative of going to the auto parts store and buying the brake shoes for me. I knew my plans for the weekend beforehand because she called me from said store and asked me if her rear brakes were "pads or shoes".

Shoes, I said. And don't forget the spring kit...

Of all the menial auto maintenance chores, changing the rear brakes are one of the worst. There's the cancerous dust (oh, no, there's no asbestos in it anymore). The cancerous brake cleaner. The finger pinching springs. And the fact that they never work as well after as they did before.

I've never done the rear brakes on our Chevy van, and I was a bit skeptical at the spring kit that my wife handed to me. Two springs and two metal horseshoe type things. Whaa? Thats not normal. Usually, there is 8 some-odd springs, a packet of epsom salts, and a Book of Mormon in these things. This can't be good, I said.

These are the parts removed from one of the brakes. There's the horseshoe thing and the spring. Incredibly easy to take apart and incredibly easy to put back together. From a guy who has spent countless hours changing the brakes on Dodge pick ups, this is outstanding engineering, Chevy.

Here it is all back together.

It is pretty satisfying having dirty fingernails.


Sometimes after dark I will go outside and flash a flashlight at the window of the room where my neighbor keeps her dogs. The ensuing barkness is music to my ears.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fabulous Movie Reviews®

City of Men
Definitely not as good as City of God, the plot is contrived in several key places and the characters seem shallow, not 90210 shallow, but not fully developed by the writer shallow.

7 stars out of 10.

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
I should know better than to watch any movie that has a cult following, like Rocky Horror or anything by that perv John Waters but I wanted to see this because the director is Sam Peckinpah who wrote and directed some phenomenal movies like The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs. I don't regret seeing it, but I was pretty disappointed with it.

The acting is disjointed and generally bad, even for a 1970s movie, and it seems the screenplay was written with a "throw everything at it and hope something sticks" attitude. Western, Mexican Revolution, caper, hi-jinks, romance, bikers, car chase, hit men, buddy film, kitchen sink. All of it and more.

Ah, well.

5.9 stars out of 10.

Cans for Booze

I was surprised that the neighbor's daughter and the daughter's boyfriend were in the junk pile tonight when I got home from work. Picking up aluminum cans. Five bags worth and counting. Awesome. That would buy a lot of beer for the homeless people I see with their shopping carts digging through the trash for cans to take to the recycling center.

There's a rumor in the 'hood that the neighbor has bought a new house. If it's true lets hope she doesn't take as long to move out of this one as my MIL has taken to move out of her old house.

The weirdest thing I have seen a homeless person hauling to the recycling center? A stainless steel kitchen sink.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What? NO. It can't be.

Someone arrived at this here blog by googling "blocking view of neighbor's shed". I wonder if it was my neighbor. All this time I've been complaining about her junk and her cat colony and her lawnmowers and I never ONCE considered how awful it must be to stare at my gawdwful monstrous shed all day. I am a true cad.

Fabulous Movie Review®

Here's how I picture how the creation of this movie went down:

Writer: I've got this awesome script I just wrote which involves three families with three story lines that are interconnected in a colossal way.

Director reads script

Director: This is absolutely phenomenal. You have outdone yourself this time. This is your pièce de résistance. Let's go show the executive producer.

Executive producer reads script

Executive producer: Eh, I dunno. Hasn't this kinda like, ya know, been done before? I think it needs more pizazz. Couldn't you jazz it up a little? Maybe, you could add a fourth interconnected story.

To make a long boring story shorter, a fourth storyline was added and to me it not only didn't add to the other three excellent storylines, it actually kind of detracted from it.

You watch this movie and tell me if you can figure out which storyline I am talking about.

Besides the vestigial thread this is a good movie, but I think it could have been edited down by about 15 or 20 minutes. I liked it however, especially because it exemplies my creed: Never leave this country. Ever. For no reason whatsoever.

Two out of the four families in this movie don't share my creed. If they were real life people and not make believe, I bet they would now.

Incidentally, I just finished reading a book in which the main character didn't follow this tenet either. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. If you are the book reading type, I suggest you visit your local library and pick up this or any of his other literary masterpieces.

The bottom line is this, bad things will happen to you if you leave the U.S.A. So just stay home, ok?

7.5 stars out of 10.

The End of an Era

My boss made me take down The Mouth of the South board. Not out of any malicious management type power trip or anything. We had a couple of big wigs from corporate in today, affectionately called the Bobs, and it had also become too well known amongst the rest of the company, and therefore had become a little too dangerous from an HR disaster standpoint.

Ah well. Its good to quit while you are on top.

New Shed City

Two weekends in a row without working on the shed. And you thought I was kidding about just letting "all the wood age to a weathered gray."


One of my most desirable traits, besides being able to suck spaghetti up my nose and pull it out my mouth, is that I obsess about getting a project done once its started and I can't start another one until the previous one is completed.

But. I do have many little projects to help me diversify and lessen the boredom of working on o n e p r o j e c t f o r t h e e n t i r e s u m m e r.

Sunday I rearranged our living room and Murphy Oil Soaped all the hardwood floors (heidi would be proud if she remembered who I was), but while I was doing that I noticed something odd about my previously-flipped-by-a-rich-doctor house.

I have a lot of different doorknobs. Seven to be exact. Not including the broken doorknob on the back door (side door actually) and the front door. So hear in all my boring detail is the detail about my doorknobs.

Doorknob #1

Definitely original to the house. Its a long handled version (see next knob), which I have no problem with other than being old and beaten up. It's on my oldest son's closet door.

Doorknob #2

On my son's bedroom door, its the short handled version of the previous knob and I can barely grasp it with more than two fingers all dainty-like. And its really beaten up.

Doorknob #3

This one is brand new, albeit on just as old of a door as the rest of them. I don't, however, like silver doorknobs. Too mobile-homey. Don't call me a snob. Downstairs bathroom.

Doorknob #3

The only other brand-new knob in the house besides the previous knob. I like it. I have no problem with it other than it has a lock and it is on my 3 year old's bedroom door. Yes, there is a small screwdriver handy.

Doorknob #4

The most common knob on the top floor of our house. Definitely original. You can feel 1974 oozing off of it.

Doorknob #5

Yeah, I know what you are saying. Looks just like the last one. No no. It's silver. Used on the two closets of our upstairs bathroom. You know, gold on the outside so all of the casual observers would think we is rich. Hopefully, the don't go to the bathroom and sees the silver knobs on the closets.

Doorknob #6

I think someone picked this up at a yard sale. Nice keyed lock. To a bathroom.

I hope you've enjoyed this tour through my knobs. Stay tuned next week when we journey through the dark recesses of my breaker box.

(oh, yeah, I started this post off touting my ability to stick to a project, then cited a small project about the living room and then went off on a tangent about doors. I'm going to paint the living room and put up crown molding like this and replace all of the doors and subsequently all of the knobs too.

The Mouth of the South

Sales manager says to me, "You know what we imagine when she says, 'Sounds good!'?" Guy on the other line saying, "BBQ Platter."

Quote of the Day: "My family ran liquor through Hazard County"

I still haven't come up with my own nickname, although they do call her "School Bus" on the sales floor.


Guy who sits next to me gave his notice today. I kinda knew it was coming since he trusted me enough to use me as a reference. Still, it kinda stinks. We both started at this job within a month of each other and were the first developers to work there after a mass exodus of other developers. We shared a lot of WTF moments trying to dissect the massive pile of crap we had inherited where something seemed to go went wrong every single day. While I was relieved to be free of my previous hell at Wackovia, he was living his, accepting this job out of desperation after a move from Buffalo. I can understand his reasoning. Nobody wants to work at a job where your career is not only not moving forward but steadily crawling backward, and that's especially not good in the always moving forward programming world.

I'm sure there will be a bitter custody battle for the fish. I'm not looking forward to that.

I have no legal claim to either of them. He brought one of them in and the other we both adopted. But I fed them and changed their water and scrubbed the algae off the glass. Oh sure go live with Dad. You'll have more fun with him. Oh yeah, sure. Anything goes at Dad's house. At my house you have rules. Some day you'll appreciate those rules. Especially the first time you find Dad nekkid in the front bushes wearing lipstick and a scarf.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fabulous Movie Reviews®

Shaun of the Dead
I've now seen the only two zombie movies that I have ever had any desire to see. This one and Fido. I thought Fido was better only because to me it was more unique, but this one takes the standard zombie formula and makes it funny in a way only the Brits can do.

I think that this character in the movie looks like Jason Varitek if Jason Varitek happened to be a fat slob.

The other thing I saw in this movie was an outdoor toy that I had when I was a kid called Zimm Zamm that they killed some zombies with. I searched on (it was a great game) and apparently it is called Swingball or Tether Tennis now. Gotta get me one. I meant to get a screenshot from the DVD but I sent it back to Netflix without thinking. Dummy. Here's some random people from Flickr playing it.

Oh yeah, the movie, 7.5 stars out of 10.

The Telemarketer

I've created a little excitement at work, some people other than my immediate circle of IT coworkers discovered my large sheets of paper with the tallies and catchphrases. They're sales people. Sales people who sit in her immediate vicinity. They thought it was pretty funny.

I think I am going to write a small app to record all of her catch phrases and then generate a tag cloud and put it out on our intranet somewhere. That would be AWESOME!

I'm renaming her from "The Telemarketer" to something else though. Thats probably my worst nickname ever. Maybe "The Mouth of the South" or "t-mos" for short. "Belly of the Beast" has also been rattling around in my brain.

We'll see.

Quote of the Day: "My ancestors used to run shine"


I was upstairs the other day and I heard my neighbors he-whore cat meowing on my patio, so I stuck my head out the bathroom window and spit on him. Man, did he run...

Its the simple things in life that keep me going.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fabulous Movie Reviews® that I Forgot

There will be Blood - Fantastic acting by Daniel Day Lewis. The man is a genius. Slow though and not for everyone. 8 stars
Silent Hill - Middling horror movie. 6 stars
Tasogare Seibei - Pretty hard to sit through, even for someone like me who likes subtitled samurai movies, for a small payoff in the end. 6.5 stars
American Gangster - Decent. 7 stars.
Crank - Its definitely an adrenaline rush. Pure entertainment. 6.9 stars
You, Me and Dupree - I don't expect anything from Kate Hudson, in fact she's a reason not to watch a movie in my book, but Mr. Wilson, you disappoint me. 5 stars
Wrong Turn - These "inbred hillbilly" movies are all the same. 4 stars

Update: Turns out I already reviewed Tasogare Seibei, but under its English name, Twilight Samurai. And also, these ratings were out of 10 stars.

Monday, September 08, 2008


I've been using the IMDB MyMovies feature to keep track of what movies I have seen and want to see for years. The problem is the interface sucks. I hate it. Last Friday I got fed up and decided to see if I could find another site that A) has all of the vast movie data that IMDB has and B) has a decent interface for me to save a movie to a list.

Here are the sites I tried so far:

  1. Flixster - At first I thought it was like MySpace but worse. Now that I've seen some of the other sites out there, I am going to take a second look. Two of the movies I used to test these sites, Four of the Apocalypse and Blindman, were here. We'll see. The interface is still a little too MySpacey though. As a sidenote, why the "s" in Flixster? Seems odd to me. Essentially what you have is: Flicksster.

  2. MovieTome - this one seemed promising. The interface is pretty good, but Four of the Apocalypse didn't pull up in my search; Blindman did, albeit without a thumbnail and little else. I'll keep checking this one. Maybe they will pay IMDB for its data.

  3. Rotten Tomatoes - Ungawdly slow. And the interface for creating lists is worse than IMDB's. Does seem to have all the movies I was looking for. At least the few I tried. I got tired of waiting.

  4. Filmcrave - Missing movie data...They had ONE Sergio Corbucci movie. Lame. He's the second most famous spaghetti western director.

  5. Criticker - What an odd site. Has the movie data, but TCIs and PSIs and Kumpels...? I can create a wishlist, but thats not really what I want. Some cool widgets, displaying movies that I've ranked which is kinda cool I guess. I could stick it in this here blog.

After going through all of these sites, it dawned on me that Yahoo! Movies might have the feature I was looking for, and they do, except I get an error when I try to add a movie.

Oops, indeed.

I tried it with four different browsers too, just in case.

So, uh, I guess I am stuck with IMDB, but I will try Flixster for a little while but if I was a betting man, I'd put a c-note down on my head exploding and quitting Flixster within a week.

If IMDB had some kind of API or web service, I would just make my own.

Update: IMDB has a list widget, but I couldn't get it to work.

Update: I just rated all of the movies I've reviewed here in Criticker (I keep wanting to type Cricketeer). Its a little weird. Your ratings seem to be relative to each other. I'm not sure how that works. So, for example, I rate one movie as a 60 and it shows it as "Decent" and then ten movies later I rate another movie as a 60 and it says that its "Bad". Its a small thing I guess, except that second movie that shows as "Bad" I thought was "Decent" which is why I rated it at 60. It really ticks me off. Their recently rated widget leaves a lot to be desired too.

Update: Flixster has a pretty good widget. I just so feel so dirty after going to that site though.


It dawned on me tonight that I don't post about work much. There's really nothing to post about. It is incredibly b o r i n g.

There is however this woman who works on the sales floor. I can't ever remember her name. It's Sue Bob or Sammy Joe or Mary Lou. I can't remember. Anyway, to me, she is just The Telemarketer. All day long cold calling people. She is heavyset and has a big booming barrel laugh.

When someone talks on the phone all day and their voice is louder than a wrestling announcer, you tend to pick up on words and phrases that they repeat ad nauseam. You also tend to get really annoyed too. I decided to find some humor in it.

She really puts her weight behind some of her words too. A simple "Awesome" becomes "THAAATS AWESOOOME!"

Anywho, three words (phrases) that she uses constantly jumped out at me. Touch base, awesome, and cool.

I got a big sheet of paper from my ideasel® (i just made that up) and tacked it to the wall and I've been keeping a tally for the past couple of weeks of each time she says one of those words.

So far, "cool" is way in the lead, followed by "touch base" with "awesome" a disappointing third. Her awesomes are AWESOOOMME and I wish that there were more, but I know why there aren't more. I'll explain.

She uses "touch base" when she is calling a contact back for the second time. Makes sense to me. Cool is reserved for when she gets shot down by a prospective client. An d she will use it three or four times whilst closing out the conversation.

Awesome is reserved for when she makes a deal. Sadly, she doesn't seem to do that very often. She will say it occasionally on a Friday, i.e. "It's FRIDAY. I'm doing AWESOME!" which to my simple brain probably doesn't endear her to the sales manager who will be working all weekend.

How I imagine a typical conversation:

The Telemarketer: "Hi this is Suzy Joe form SuchAndSuch, how are you today?"
Sales Man: "I'm fine. How are you?"
The Telemarketer: "I'm AWESOME! Today is Thursday! Which means tomorrow is FRIDAY!"
Sales Man: "Ah yeah, listen, I'm busy"
The Telemarketer: "Ok, cool. Can I call you back later?"
Sales Man: "I suppose"
The Telemarketer: "Cool. I will talk to you next week then."
Sales Man: "Alright"
The Telemarketer: "Great. Cool. Bye"

Unfortunately, I am getting bored at keeping this tally and will be ceasing operations soon. I have a new better idea which I started last week. Why limit myself to just keeping track of "awesome" or "cool"? This woman is a veritable geyser of goofy words and phrases that she blasts out all day. So, I've been writing down each individual phrase that she says on another sheet of ideasel® paper. Here's a sample:

Here's the kicker
'preciate it
Shoot you a phone call
Are you stoked?

More later...

Shed of the Apocalypse

I didn't do much with the shed this past weekend, and you know what? It felt good.

Saturday was mostly rain and Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours going through all the boxes of tools and other debris that I've had in the attic. Going into the attic is a bad idea in midday by the way.

You wouldn't believe how much crap I have. And this is after throwing a way a lot of junk (do I really need a 3 inch piece of scrap PVC pipe?) when we moved down here and again when we moved from the rental house to this house.

Five boxes of finish nails. The sad thing about these nails is that I probably won't EVER use them. These are the old fashioned variety and not the kind you use in a nail gun. The nail gun I've owned for about six years. I couldn't throw the nails out. They are perfectly good. I'll use them for something. Hanging pictures and what not. For the rest of my life.

Also, a medium sized box of individual packages of wood screws in all sorts of sizes. #4 x 1/2 inch. #12 x 1 1/2 inches. I found these at the Barrington transfer station. They were on display rack such as you might find at a hardware store. These are old screws too. They are all flat head and not philips head. Real sucky to use. Did I throw them out? Nah. You'll never know when you need a 1 inch #6. Five small tupperware containers doesn't take up that much room.

Everything else I found was all good and useful stuff. Some of it I had needed in the past couple of years and was happy to find. My plumb bob. A chalk line. Clamps. Bungie cords. Eighty or so pencils. Grinding wheels. Steel wool. Pipe wrench. Work gloves. Hole saws. All sorts of other stuff that I am forgetting now.

Life is good again.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Andiana Jones and the Shed of Doom

A door, people, a door! With a lock! I should just stop the whole project now, not finish the trim or put up stairs and let all the wood age to a weathered gray.

My gimpy door.

It does look a little silly. Screw it.

Not sure why I went with the black handles when all of the other hardware is silver either.

I also did a little decorating.