Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Daughter's Science Fair Project

Tonight was Science Fair night at my kid's school. My daughter Megan (who was recently accepted into the Gifted & Talented program) had her project on display with all the rest of the 5th graders' projects. I wandered down the hall looking for hers, perusing all the others along the way. I saw the 3rd place project, very impressive. I came upon the 2nd place winner, also very impressive. Scattered along the way were numerous Honorable Mentions too. I turned the corner and saw Megan up ahead, waving to me, pointing to where her project sat.

When I got to it, I noticed something a little different about it - the blue 1st place ribbon hanging from the top. Just the night before she had told me that she didn't even get an Honorable Mention, which was true. She had gotten much more! (little imp! has her father's sense of humor)

Now, it's on to District competition. I pity the other kids.

I've always heard that you can never feel as much pride in your own accomplishments as could be felt for the accomplishments of your child. Tonight I finally understood that.

The project was created using a gift I got her for Christmas, called Eyeclops, which is a video magnifier with a built-in lcd screen or you can connect it to a tv. It takes still and video images at 100x, 200x or 400x, and stores them on a usb flash drive. We took pictures of many different things, and she decided to do a poll on whether people could tell whether the object was natural or man-made. As a secondary question, people could also guess what the object actually was.

Here are the pictures, can you guess a. natural or man-made and b. wtf is it? You can click on the image to see a larger version and what it is, but don't cheat! Guess first!

Update: Tonight (2/17/09) they announced the winners in the district competition, and she received an Honorable Mention award out of a field of about 50 entries in her category. Awesome!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Perfect Woman?

I was challenged (just for fun) to compile a list of traits which I felt would describe "the perfect woman." Being the sick puppy that I am, this initially conjured lines like "3 feet tall with a flat spot on her head where I could set my beer." But since her "perfect man" list was a genuine, thoughtful exercise on her part, I felt that I owed her the same.

The perfect woman for me, in no particular order:

Individualistic, such as changing the spelling of her name from ordinary to unusual.
Intelligent: capable of coherent, original thought, able to articulate those thoughts, and values & appreciates my intelligence.
Financially self-sufficient.
Attractive without requiring makeup.
Doesn't believe she needs full makeup just to go to the grocery store.
Not skeletal, not obese. height/weight proportionate, extra padding no problem.
Has reasoned opinions which she isn't afraid to defend, yet respects the opinions of others (or, at least their right to disagree with her)
Likes kids, especially mine.
Casual in attitude and dress, when appropriate (casual being the rule, not the exception).
Capable of forgiving, even if she doesn't forget.
Open and honest.
Comfortable in her own skin, not averse to casual nudity when in private (and it's not too cold).
An enthusiastic, imaginative lover who enjoys sex often.
Exudes natural charm and poise.
Warm and friendly to friends and strangers alike, unless she has good reason to be otherwise.
Can realistically differentiate between major character flaws and minor eccentricities.
Can laugh at herself.
Keeps her word, even when it's difficult to do.
Inspires me to be my best.
Can say it all with a smile, but not hesitant to say it with words and/or actions.
Subtle, sophisticated sense of humor, but still likes slapstick comedy too.
Passionate about her job and interests.
Gives her heart completely to those she loves.
Dances like no one is looking.
Has her own hobbies/interests, doesn't mind being alone sometimes.
Likes most music, especially mine.
Doesn't let potential embarrassment keep her from having definite fun.
Doesn't embarrass easily.
Can initiate action, or let others do so instead.
Has an infectious laugh, and uses it often.
Likes seafood, especially sushi and cajun.
Has bedroom eyes.
Makes me feel that there's nowhere she'd rather be than with me.
Makes me feel humble and blessed for being with her.

And if she inherits a liquor store, that's just a perk!

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Bad Just Wasn't Good Enough

Most people who know me are aware of how I'm essentially deaf in one ear and can't hear a damn thing out of the other (a line they've all heard from me too many times, I'm sure). This can be traced back to the fact that I never realized that volume knobs could also turn down, be they connected to stereo headphones or guitar amps, until some point in my late 20's. By then, the damage was done and chronic tinnitus was my personal affliction. By my mid-40's, I came into a windfall sufficient to finance the acquisition of a pair of high-end digital hearing aids ($5k for the pair!) that truly transformed my life - everyone around me stopped mumbling all the time and stuff that was supposed to go "click" no longer went "thud".

These hearing aids have been repaired and replaced many times since I got them, and though I milk them for all they are worth it's only a matter of time before further repair/replacement is no longer an option, and I'll be forced to cough up more big bucks to continue enjoying the auditory lifestyle to which I've become accustomed.

So I'm listening to the radio a couple of weeks ago and I hear about an ongoing clinical trial for the purpose of obtaining FDA approval for the sale of a fully-implantable hearing aid instrument (not to be confused with a cochlear implant). Even though I'm not altogether thrilled with the prospect of having something surgically implanted in my skull, the fact that everything but personal travel to/from the clinic is paid for intrigues me. It turns out that the price tag on this instrument is $12.5k apiece, plus $5k in surgical costs. My cost would be a couple of tanks of gas. So I call the number.

They were sufficiently interested in me to bring me into the participating ENT practice in Houston for a full hearing test and interview. My knowledge of the various features and subsystems of hearing aids (mostly learned from using signal processing gear in my music, same kind of stuff) was a big plus, and I looked like a shoo-in assuming that my hearing loss was within the desired profile - which it was. But...

It seems that I have a negative-pressure condition within my middle ears, which results in a 2db drop between what happens at my eardrum and what I actually sense in my inner ear. This is a disqualifying condition according to the criteria set by the FDA for this trial. Ironically, the instrument in question is actually designed to address that kind of hearing flaw, which I would think makes me an even better candidate. But no.

So, now I needn't be concerned with having a hole drilled through the side of my skull into the middle ear cavity, and a laser-drilled hole created in my stapes bone therein. Nor do I have to ponder the tricky placement of the subcutaneous microphone that might keep me from using headphones anymore, or the ramifications of having a shallow chamber routed out to allow the instrument package to be flush-mounted in my skull surface. If I ever need an MRI, it will still be an option available to me. And I won't have to walk around for an hour a day with charging unit stuck to the side of my head with a magnet. Not to mention surgical replacement of the internal battery 5-10 years down the road, on my nickel.

Maybe getting kicked off the island wasn't such a bad thing after all.

What do you think? If you were in my situation, would you do it?

Update: I called the audiologist back and told her that I was just getting over a head cold, and could that have skewed the test results regarding my middle ear pressure? She said that it could indeed, and agreed to retest me in a few weeks after all vestiges of the cold are gone. I still might get the opportunity to have a bionic ear after all.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Mid-Life Crisis Badge

I started playing guitar in various bands in my 20's, during the big-hair 80's. While my hair was pretty long back then, and I thought of myself as a liberal progressive, looking back it's obvious to me that I was much more conservative in my views than I would have believed. I was the only one in my circle of musician friends and associates who liked President Reagan, for instance. Also, everyone else had a pierced ear and a tattoo or two, but I never did. I just figured I was being a pussy about it.

Over the years I came to recognize how conservative my values were, and learned that being conservative didn't automatically mean that I was a mean-spirited bastard with a heart of stone, although those are the preconceived notions most liberals would blindly apply to me just for admitting it. I've portrayed myself to the world as the quiet, professional type who dresses conservatively and avoids any kind of outrageous appearance. The only exception to this was the few years that I shaved my head, but that was mostly a response to how fucked up my hair looked after it started falling out.

I'm less than a month away from my 50th birthday as I write this. I've re-immersed myself in my music since my divorce, and I believe that I'm writing my best songs to date. I also decided that I was tired of my plain vanilla-ness, and it was time to take more risks while I was still young enough to enjoy doing so. That's why I gave myself a long-awaited present just after Christmas, and got my ear pierced. Big deal, right?

I know that in this modern era, a single pierced ear and no tattoos is hardly considered very rebellious. But considering how I've refrained from exhibiting any kind of wild streak for so many years, it's still very liberating for me. Those who know me either smirk and make some kind of comment about a mid-life crisis, or genuinely smile and appreciate what I've done, and what I overcame to do it (surprisingly, my mother was among the latter). And even though body piercings and numerous tattoos are now often considered practically mainstream, I'm still pretty plain-vanilla with my little loop hanging from my earlobe - but it's a big deal for me and a first step toward shedding a lot of inhibitions with which I've chosen to contain myself for so long. I'm even ready to get some ink on me, if only I can find something that I can live with - I hate cartoon tattoos, which describes most of them in my opinion. But one step at a time.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WTF Happened To Me Since Last Posting?

BTF out of me! I just sobered up yesterday.

I did have a nice creative spurt this past fall, and wrote/recorded several songs. If you are interested (and of course you should be!) you can hear them at the home of my MySpace persona, Captain F-Hole. (friend requests welcome!) My music is my hobby, but I still crave adulation so feel free to patronize my gullible naivete'. You get to smirk a little, I'll pretend it's sincere, and everyone leaves happy.

I've had some major upheaval in my love life too, but I'll spare you the need to roll your eyes and navigate away before my sad tale prompts you to slash your wrists in solidarity with your humble correspondent. Suffice to say that you can get a sense of what happened by listening to the songs I mentioned above. Also, things are finally smoothing out, so lets all put away the razor blades, shall we?

I'm not even going to say "I promise to post more yada yada yada..." because even I don't believe it. But you never know...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Resurrection Of An Idea

Everyone always said that we were ahead of our time. That the major labels were nuts (pun intended) for rejecting us. Maybe it's true, and maybe it's just sour grapes. We did wonder lately what would have happened if the 'net and it's abundant promotional resources for indie bands were available when we were still together.

So now I guess we'll find out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

This is not a post

Don't bother to read it, because it won't tell you anything.

See? I told you so.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My Day From Hell

Ok, I'm temporarily suspending my Whine-None-None credo for this post, because if I don't vent about what happened today I'm gonna pop. It started when I rudely awoke myself...

I'm something of a snorer (so I've been told, I'm never around when it happens) and apparently I had an apnea episode that culminated in the apparent inhalation of an undetermined but non-trivial quantity of my own saliva. Yeah, I know its gross. Deal with it! I'm just getting started. Anyway, I wake up coughing like crazy, and this goes on for about half an hour. I finally settle down, get dressed, and start driving to a Dr's appointment, its Annual Physical time again. Just can't wait for that gray-haired guy to stick his finger up my ass! I get caught in traffic so I call to let them know I'm running a little late. It turns out that this appointment I made a year ago (been carrying that damn card in my wallet the whole time) wasn't on the morning schedule for them, in fact my doctor is out today. I inform them that they just called last Friday to confirm the appointment, but they choose to ignore that inconvenient truth. Now I gotta go back tomorrow and try again. Ok, I can deal with this.

So now I'm back at home, and I decide that, since its the first of the month, I ought to see about paying some bills. Top of the stack is my new, post-divorce Visa card.
FLASHBACK: I'm talking to the Visa folks about this card a month ago and mention that I'm about to move. Being the savvy marketers that they are, they inform me of a handy little Credit Protection Plan they offer that will pay my minimum payment for me for up to three months if I'm moving. Great, says I, sign me up. Yada yada yada, "ok sir, its all set up." Great, says I, and go about my business.
BACK TO PRESENT: I see that bill, and its a week overdue but, hey, I'm covered, right? Hmmm, better make sure. I call and traverse the automated phone labyrinth for half an hour until I have determined that, no, I'm not being covered during my move and, yes, my payment is late and, sorry, but the sweet 0% intro offer has blossomed into 12%+ apr, you deadbeat. Fine. I go to my bank (through which I acquired the card) and inform them that I'm canceling this card, please pay it off. As I'm paying it off, one the bank folks is on the phone trying to fix it, and... she does! I'm informed that my intro rate has been restored, sorry for the inconvenience, we value you as a customer blah blah blah.

This is one good thing that happened today.

Now I'm off to the bank that holds my mortgage, with payment coupon and check in hand. I walk in and plop the papers down. The teller informs me that they cannot accept my payment because its short. How short, asks I. One cent.
There is a typo on the payment coupon, says they. The computer has "the correct amount," and its one cent more. So, asks I, if I had mailed this payment with the coupon THAT YOU PEOPLE MAILED TO ME FOR THAT EXPRESS PURPOSE, I would have been flagged as paying late? Yes, says they. I amend the amount on the check by one stupid cent and pay my house note. This doesn't bode well for the remainder of my relationship with this bank. Maybe they'll sell my note soon.

This is actually another good thing that happened today, although it didn't actually seem like it at the time.

Work is uneventful. I get off for my lunch break around 7:00 pm (I work from 1pm to 10pm) and head off for to get some food.
A pizza delivery guy pulls out in front of me, never looking my direction until I lean on the horn. He has by now blocked my path and I must swerve to the left to avoid T-boning him. This path takes me bouncing over the curb and onto the center esplanade, jarring my car and my teeth. I come to a stop, having bounced back onto the road again, and see pizza-guy proceeding on his merry way, the opposite direction. Ooooooh, no you don't. I throw it into reverse and execute a passable Starsky-&-Hutch move and I'm off after him. I finally flag him down well into the adjoining neighborhood. I get out. He gets out. I point to my bent alloy wheel and say, "That's yours. You just bought it." He tries feebly to argue about it but quickly agrees to accept the blame when I mention calling a cop to mediate. We exchange insurance info and I'm back on my way. Hmm, the steering wheel feels a bit mushy, but the tire is holding air. I get some grub and take it to the house to eat.

After I eat, I'm standing on the patio having a smoke when the next-door neighbor prairie-dogs over the fence and informs me that someone threw a couple of big rocks through one of my front bedroom windows. He also found my mail laying in the yard in front of said window. Sure enough, I've been vandalized. One rock (about the size of your fist) made it out the bedroom door and all the way down the hall. Glass is everywhere, and two panes have large holes in them. I notice at this point that there sure are a lot of mosquitoes in my house. So now I get to catch West Nile disease in my sleep tonight. If I'm lucky, I'll inhale the little bastard first with a well-timed apnea gasp.

As I write this, I've opened a claim on my car, and still I await the arrival of one of Houston's Finest, so that I have a police report to reference when I file a claim on my homeowner's insurance. I'm barely in this place and my rates are already about to rise. Sometimes I hate being a grownup, but just briefly. In the meantime I have two window panes covered with duct tape and all my possessions still intact.

A word to the wise. I'm sleeping with my 9mm under my pillow from now on, be sure to knock first. Ok?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm Still Alive...

Due to the overwhelming demand, I am posting something new. I must apologize to the Wambulance Nation for my monumental slacking since the November election - the whole concept of "Speaker Pelosi" still makes me involuntarily guzzle tequila. But that is no excuse for allowing so much dust to accumulate in the interim.

(cue sad music)

These last few months have been a bit hectic in the personal realm of your humble correspondent's life, culminating in a recently-finalized-yet-long-anticipated divorce from my wife of 17 years (not counting the previous 8 years of "living in sin") and all of the associated legal wrangling, property division, and general bullshit which attends such an event. To ease your collective mind, it was an amicable split with the children's best interests given the greatest priority, and as such can be adequately described as a "good thing."

(cue party music)

But hey! Wambulance exists not to depress, but to agitate!
To purge!
To piss off!
To precipitate chuckles!
To maybe-someday-generate-enough-traffic-to-pay-for-a-used-pickup-truck!
With an extended cab and a spray-on bed liner!

So, in the spirit of Whine-None-None, I pledge to all my regular reader(s) and you poor bastards that landed here by accident, that I will try really hard to post more often, to offer my insights on affairs more current than 4 months ago, and be generally semi-diligent rather than wholly indigent.

Really. I'll try.

Just keep in mind that I'm buying a house at the moment and still have to pack all my shit, so it may not seem as if I'm Really Trying for a bit yet. Therefore, I beg your indulgence.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gratuitous Embedded YouTube Clip: Why Vote Republican?

Thats why.

Carter Desperate To Pass His Crown To Bush

Since his resounding defeat by Ronald Reagan in 1980, Jimmy Carter has chafed under the well-deserved mantle of "Worst President - Ever." And its so unfair! Just because he presided over double-digit inflation, humiliation and loss of American prestige due to his inept bungling of the Iranian hostage crisis, and the precedent-setting appeasement of Islamic radicals (which has served to enbolden jihadists ever since), surely there has been a worse president than he at some point in history, right? ...Right? ...Anyone? ...No?

So Jimmy set himself to the task of proving to the world that he wasn't really the "Worst President - Ever" by sticking his stubby little proboscis into the affairs anyone who lacked the ability to tell him to butt out. Eventually, the good ol' boys in the Tyrants and Despots Society figured out that Jimmy's intrusive littly schnoz had a handy ring attached, by which he could be easily led about for the purpose of advancing their own agendas, such as "certifying" rigged elections and generally oppressing their respective populations. And so Jimmy tightened his grip on his dubious title even more.

One particularly spectacular display of "Jimmy the Tool" was his unsanctioned buttinski mission to North Korea, in which Kim Jung Il "agreed" to the conditions that would become Clinton's "Agreed Framework" policy. Kim told Jimmy, "Hey, I don't really want nukes, I just want a hug (and $5billion in aid, energy, and nuclear reactors)"and Jimmy bought it all like a yokel with a new deed to the Brooklyn Bridge. That Kim proceeded to violate the Agreed Framework from the beginning is undisputed -- the NorKos even admit it. What is disputed (among liberals, that is) is whose fault it is that Kim enjoyed unfettered opportunity and financing to develop nuclear weapons. Its Bush's fault! Jimmy says so!

Liberals have consistently tried and failed to brand every Republican president since Carter as the "Worst President - Ever." They said it about Reagan - the man who won the Cold War and has emerged as one of the finest presidents in our history. They tried to hang the title on Bush Sr., but the fact that he was head and shoulders (and torso and legs) above Carter was obvious even to them. Now they are trying to hang the title on Dubya, and Carter is leading the charge. He knows that George Bush is his last, best chance to lose the WP-E title in what remains of his lifetime, and his desperation to do so would be comical if it weren't so pathetic. And he knows that the most effective way to do so is to utilize the time-honored Democrat tradition of rewriting history.

Just as the Democrats have taken credit for Civil Rights (they opposed it) and winning the Cold War (they opposed that too), and claimed opposition to the war in Iraq (they supported it), they are now trying to gloss over their appeasement of Kim Jung Il by blaming NoKor's acquistion of nuclear weapons on Bush. The most idiotic argument they are making is that, by branding Kim part of the "Axis of Evil" Bush hurt his feelings and caused him to cheat on the Agreed Framework. This is preposterous and disengenuous. But those are the best descriptions for most of the Democrat's attacks on Bush, so what is new?

Jimmy (the one-termer) hears the clock ticking. He knows that his legacy as WP-E is all but assured unless he can pass it on to Dubya (a two-termer). I plan on enjoying his squirming.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Meager Contribution To The Pre-Election Political Discourse

I've been blog-slacking lately, sorry. Here are a couple of items that I can post quickly to atone for my neglect and then pretty much continue to slack.

First, a commercial by Airplane and Scary Movie 3 (and 4) director David Zucker, who is a Hollywood rarity for his political views:

Gotta like that guy.

Next, here is a parody website sponsored by the Republican National Committee, which gives you a peek at what a Democrat-controlled congress would look like. It is called America Weakly.

Now, back to slacking...

Update: David Zucker's new Taxman commercial:

Now my advice for those who die,
Declare the pennies on your eyes...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Ahmadinnerjacket Speaks to the U.N. ...

...And he brought his damned aura with him again.

You know, when Pinochio's nose grew, at least it wasn't such a gaudy spectacle.

And BTW, does this guy even own a necktie? This is supposed to be a classy joint, after all.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lockheed Martin to Build NASA's Orion Spaceship

This was just announced. Most of you probably don't care, but this is really good news for me and I am unable to gloat about it because I'm surrounded by employees of (losing Orion bidder) Boeing Aerospace. At the bottom of the article it lists Lockheed Martin's partners (emphasis mine):

Lockheed Martin’s major teammates include: shuttle-operator United Space Alliance of Houston; Orbital Sciences Corp. of Dulles, Va.; Honeywell Defense and Space Electronics Systems, Minneapolis, Minn; and Hamilton Sundstrand of Windsor Locks, Conn.

Things may be looking up for the ol' career today! Woohoo!!!!

Update: Here are more "artist's conceptions" of the Orion spacecraft.