Thursday, December 31, 2009

happy new year

Dick Clark is friggin' scary. Every year it gets better and better. That guy is a Zombie.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

power and communications

i take pictures of power poles. I think they are awesome.

new year, new site

I've killed and I'm sending it here. (i'm keeping the domain name) It was a hobby site that no one ever went to anywhoo.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Go see this movie. Fantastic.

Monday, December 14, 2009

#64 A Collection of Fascinating Words:

Tantalus, Cadastral, Simularea, Effluvia,
Gewgaw, Duodenum, Sysyphian, Louche, 
Besmirched, Ephemera, Schadenfreude, Plateau,
Interlocutor, Carbuncle, Uvula, Remnant, 
Meed, Equivoque, Gregarious, Delineation, 
Saturnine, Chthonic, Nostrum, Extant,
Potemkin, Palaver, Phantasmagoria, 
Thalamus, Entelechy, Laburnum, 
Sanguinarium, Patagonia, Landanum, 
Detritus, Automata, Atelier, Circumlocution,

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

zen stuff

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
Atisha (11th century Tibetan Buddhist master)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Why Does Honeywell Have My Child in a Database?

Why did my daughter's school give Honeywell, a huge corporation, her information to put into a database without letting me know first?

After the school announced a snow day Friday morning, I went to my daughter's school district website to see if I could get a text message for future snow days. That's a convenient feature.

I found a link on the school district website for an instant alert. I followed the link and found that they had outsourced the job to Honeywell.

Okay, I guess that's how we do things these days. Fine. Whatever.

I signed up for the service because I suppose like many people, I've been conditioned to accept this sort of thing, but afterward realized that I was required put my child's information into Honeywell's web page to VERIFY I was the parent.

I had mistyped the first time I filled out the form, and had received an error: this means they already had the correct information about my child in their database. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to use the information to VERIFY I had any business being there.

That's right; they already have the information even if you don't sign up for the alert service. Try putting a mistake into the website form and it returns an error message. That means they already have the CORRECT information on every child in our district. And check the drop-down to see the list of school districts all over America that have signed up. Some states do not use the service.

I believe many Americans today have been conditioned to accept this kind of casual treatment of their information, and the idea of "privacy" has become a joke, but this really hit home. Honeywell, which I have no problem with really (I haven't investigated enough...yet), is a very large company. And somewhere in their massive collection of servers (I assume) sits information on both of my children (when I verified one daughter, I had both of my daughters listed in my shiny new Honeywell Instant Alert account).

This is what bothers me most: why did the school district send this information to a huge private company without telling anyone? I found no "opt out" button anywhere on any of these sites.

Maybe the notice from the school about this program came in the mountain of papers they send home with our children every year. Maybe I missed it. Was the notice in some paragraph on their website I never read? Did we as parents have a chance to say, "no, don't send my child's information to this private company"?

And how much has the school paid for what is basically an email and text message service? I looked up a few news stories about Honeywell's Instant Alert service. Other districts around the country have paid between $1500.00 and $4000.00. I work with computers for a living and there are plenty of tech companies in our county that could have done this. Why not keep the money local?

Well, it is probable that no one will read this, and if they do, it is likely they won't care. I've done my part. This letter is the only stink I'm going to raise. Let us all go back to ignoring the Corporatization of every aspect of our lives. Happy Holidays everybody!

Extra Credit:

See if Honeywell, a giant corporation, has your child's information. Remember, the info is ALREADY in Honeywell's databases if your district signed up for this service:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

# 29 Limbo-Dweller's Food

There's Angel Food and
Devil's Food and
Limbo-Dweller's Food

In heaven they have caviar
Served by Billy Graham

In hell they have shit sandwiches
That Satan makes by hand

In limbo it is peanut butter crackers every day
They're not too bad, but not too good, I guess that they're okay.

Monday, November 23, 2009

#28 The Gruntled Employee

Who is the gruntled employee,
Who grins and takes the shit,
Who gets to work on time each day
But dreams he will someday quit?

Who is the gruntled employee,
Who grins and bears his load,
Who sits in his cube and knows
He's a rube, but hasn't the nerve to explode?

Who is the gruntled employee
Who eats lunch at his desk
Who does his job and is just
A slob who won't put himself at risk?

Who is the gruntled employee,
Who knows his time will come,
While the CEO rakes in the dough
The spreadsheets render him dumb.

Who is the gruntled employee,
Who worries his job is extinct?
Insurance wont' pay and he
Needs layaway and suspects he's somehow been tricked?

Who is the gruntled employee
Who wears a clip-on tie?
Who parks in the lot and his belly's a pot
Cause he scarfs cafeteria pie.

to kill a cat

On slow days I write rotten fiction, drink tea and threaten to kill the dog.

Oh, I threaten to kill the dog about a thousand times a day, but she is do cute. I say, "Ginger, I'm going to murder you in about five minutes." Then I immediately say, "oooh, you're so cute, I can't murder you right now." Then later she'll bark at something and I'll say, "I hate you so much. I'm going to kill you and make it look like an accident."

Sometimes I threaten to kill the cat. Lately she's been meowing in the middle of the night for no reason and I am ready to strangle her. I'm trying to figure out ways to make it look like an accident. The problem is, cats aren't particularly accident-prone, and so I'm thinking of making it look like a skydiving accident. I've just got to find a place that allows cats to skydive and also lets the owners pack the parachutes for the pets. I've scoured the Internets and the phone book with no success.

I don't think I've got what it takes to go through with it.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not Fat Elvis, not Fifties Elvis or Bad Movie Elvis, but '68 Comeback Special Elvis

Last night I was visited by three ghosts. Or maybe it was two ghosts and one creepy old man, I'm not sure anymore. The first was the ghost of Elvis Presley. Not Fat Elvis, not Fifties Elvis or Bad Movie Elvis, but '68 Comeback Special Elvis, perfectly side-burned, tanned and vibrant at a mere 33 years of age. This is the Elvis just four years before his divorce and The Fattening.

My tire had blown on 131, North of Rockford, coming home from a Parcheesi competition. There was no cell phone service, as is always the case on misty November nights with unseasonably mild weather.

Elvis pulled up in a Ford F150. He got out and from the passenger seat, someone yelled "Lets give him a lift, E."

I was in the middle of putting the "doughnut" spare tire on.

Elvis took it from me. "Doughnuts are for eating, not driving on." He took a bite of the spare tire, and ate the entire thing. "Come on."

I accepted the ride, what more could I do? They were heading south and I wanted to get home.

The passenger in the truck got out. It was J. Edgar Hoover, wearing the dress from Beyonce's "Single Ladies" video. It was disturbingly short and gruesomely tight. He leered at me, his fat face behind thick glasses. His sparse greasy hair was in a pitiful comb-over.

I had to sit in the middle. There wasn't much room.

"We didn't just stop by chance," Elvis said. "John, get me my candy will you?"

Hoover reached into the glove box and brought out a prescription medicine bottle. Hoover dumped five or six pills of different colors and sizes into Elvis's hand, and Elvis popped them in his mouth. He had a can of Schlitz in the cup holder and he took a swig.

We were careening down the road at ninety; a light mist fouled the windshield but Elvis seemed unaware. He didn't put on the wipers. The tail lights of the other traffic were just blurs as we snaked through the traffic. The speedometer approached one hundred.

"We're supposed to meet someone in town," Elvis said. "We need someone of the living as a go between."

"Who is it?"

"Don't worry about that," Hoover said. He threw a manila envelope on the dash. "We just need you to hand him this."

"Why can't you guys do it?"

"This guy isn't really 'alive', and he isn't dead yet," Elvis said.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

who are these smiling devils?

Who are these vile men who have robbed us? These men who can't recall how it happened? These well-dressed men, these well-heeled, well connected little men with their jewel-encrusted lives, with their trophy wives and mansions behind gates of brick and iron? Who are these thieves of old women's savings, these destroyers of jobs? Who are these men in expensive ties, this smiling devils in expensive ties who trade imaginary coins, who bet our tiny treasures out from under us, who ask us for more, who tax us by proxy, who sell us lies, who bind us in impossible contracts written with impossible words in a language of their own creation that is impossible to understand? Who are these titans who are too big to fail? Who are these men in princely dress who sit and smile with fresh haircuts, with their limited liability and Windsor knots and prepared statements who tell us how they can't recall how they became wealthier than kings? Who are these spawners of empty strip malls and foreclosed houses? Who are these lordly aristocrats who contribute nothing? Who are the ruling class? When did this caste system come about? Who are these devils in their ties that squeeze us for more, these prescription drug pushers, these loan sharks and cookers of books with their slick commercials and shiny advertising campaigns? Who are these gentlemen surrounded by private armies in Ivory Towers in the sky? How do they believe that they will one day fit through the eye of a needle? These men who have made us a nation of debtors, a nation of worried-well hypochondriacs who are told to ask our doctor, ask our doctor, ask our doctor? Who are these devils who poison our minds with network drek, these thieves, these propagandists of prosperity, who hypnotize us when they whisper:

"Strive, and you can be like one of us."

Lies. They want us to be obedient workers. We will not be allowed to join them. They will loan us the money to strive for material things and then make slaves of us all. They will enslave us with an idea of sophistication. Their goals and the goals of the common man are not the same. They preach free enterprise, but they get gargantuan handouts from the treasury that no poor person on welfare will ever receive. They have privatized their profits but socialized their risk. They take a King's Ransom while our roads and schools and hospitals and society fall apart around us so they can live like Gods.

Who are these puppet masters who have hijacked our country? They steal from us; they fill our legislature with lobbyists. The lawmakers are the lobbyists. The Corporations write the laws. The thieves write the laws and they make their thievery legal. Who is this gang of thieves that has run all countries for a hundred years? Who are these men who make themselves rich beyond the imagination of any mortal man? How long will these leeches engorge themselves on the backs of the poor? Who is this Aristocracy? How did this Kleptocracy happen? Who is this Royalty that has appeared before us? Who are these men in expensive shoes who stand on our necks? Who are these devils who put us out on the street, these loan sharks, these owners of offshore sweatshops, these smiling killers who control the newspapers, the lawmakers, and the military? Who are these makers of war for profit? Who are these murderers of small business? Who are these usurpers of local identity? Who are these devils that have reduced us all into database records in basement server farms? Who are these smiling men in ties who have reduced us to consumers of their plastic poisons? Who jams all this propaganda down our throats? Who are these men that make indentured servants of us all? Who are these Smiling Johnnies who have damaged this land from within far more severely than any enemy without could ever damage us?

Why exactly are these smiling devils in charge?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Muzak Moment

Muzak Moment: Paula Abdul's 1988 hit "Opposites Attract" while buying milk and bread at the grocery store, 8:03 AM. None of the senior citizens were dancing. They cut out the "MC Scat Cat" rap, which was a relief.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Why can't Chevy make lawn mowers?

Chevy has a commercial where Howie Long compares Chevys to Hondas. In the end he says, "Honda has one thing we can't compete with..." and they show a Honda lawn mower. I guess that was supposed to make some kind of point, but my first reaction was, "Why can't Chevy make lawn mowers?"


This is the day that the tilt of the earth in relation to the sun, atmospheric conditions, and the complete total of all circumstances up to this point in time has made!

Let us rejoice and be glad!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

today's word is Sysyphian

Sisyphus was a king punished in Tartarus by being cursed to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity.

The word sisyphean means, according to the American Heritage Dictionary, "endless and unavailing, as labor or a task."

Find the word Sysyphian used in this letter.


read the letter here: (pdf)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

generic blog post

today I took The Complete Works of Shakespeare to Founders and read Macbeth while I ate lunch. If there is one lesson to be taken from Macbeth it is this: don't listen to witches, they will complete screw with your mind. And killing makes you feel guilty. There are probably a lot more lessons in that story, but I'm just getting past the language.

After lunch I took my study to the Common Ground Coffee shop where I had much coffee and smoked a cigar.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Kanye West Was Right!

Holy Crap! I just say the "single ladies" video for the first time, and Kanye West was right: Beyonce DID make the best music video of all time!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

a perfect evening

Today was our fifteenth wedding anniversary. Deb and I went downtown to have dinner. The Artprize exhibits were on display everywhere downtown, the weather was perfect, and we had a great time touring the exhibits.

The Chop House

We ended up having dinner at The Chop House. This place has such balls, they actually drew the balls on the stick figure of a bull they have for their restaurant logo. I had the best fillet minion, the best piece of beef I have ever had in my life. The service was amazing. When they bring your food, two waitresses bring the orders and with a little signal they simultaneously set the food down in front of everyone at the table at once. The wine was perfect. The lobster bisque was perfect. Deb had beef Wellington. But that fillet minion was a life changing experience. The ambiance was perfect. The lighting was perfect. The music was perfect; fifties and sixties style Vegas music. I expected the ghosts of Frank Sinatra or Martin and Lewis to walk by.

And then, they have a cigar lounge in the basement. Deb ordered some orange liquor coffee the waitress set on fire at the table. I had a cigar and coffee.

Anywhoo, that was our night, and it was friggin' awesome.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Captain Crunch is high on crack.

What the hell is wrong with Captain Crunch? His eyes are bugging out of his head, a look of desperate expectancy, as if he is pleading with you to respond to his manic insanity. He grips his spoon as if he's gripping a butcher knife, and he looks so hopped up on dope he would beat you to death with the spoon before he realized what was happening. His mouth is open as if he's screaming. Why is his mouth open like that? Even his tongue is jumping around, as if he's ululating before blowing up himself and all the insane kids on the box with some explosives he's thrown together on his ship.

The box has a green circle in the bottom corner that reads "Smart Choices Made Easy". "Smart Choices"? This crap is pure poison. There's a (disclaimer?) explanation on the side that says "Cap'n Crunch" is a smart choice because it is low in saturated fat. Please. What kind of bullshit is this? If the FDA is allowing this kind of bullshit, why don't they just shut them down already? Are they trying to claim that Captain Crunch is good for you? That's legal? Is no one monitoring this bullshit? Captain Crunch is sugar. It is "Corn flour, sugar, oat flour, brown sugar, coconut oil, salt, niacinamide, yellow 5, (what the fuck is 'yellow 5'?) reduced iron, zinc oxide, yellow 6, thiamin mononitrate, BHT(a preservative), pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, and folic acid."

Yes, that is a smart choice made easy. The kids on the back of the box are all zonked out of their minds. Their eyes are all bugged out. They're mouths are open in silent screams. There's a website where they can collect information about you listed on the box.

But you know, for all that, it's delicious.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I am not a cop.

So I'm sitting in my white car, windows down, in the middle school parking lot, waiting for my daughter to get out of basketball practice. A mom in an SUV pulls up in the next space, windows down, and starts chatting on her cell phone.

Her son, maybe five or six years old, peeks up front and sees me and says, "What's up?"

I say, "What's up?"

He says, "You a cop?"

I say "No, I just fix computers."

The mom busts out laughing, I bust out laughing.

Monday, September 07, 2009

generic blog post

I have been walking a lot in the mornings. You notice a lot of things going on regular walks. I enjoy walking more than running, because I can do it anytime, I don't need a shower afterward, I can do it every day, and I can stop for coffee (or a beer) or do some banking on the way.

I am old.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

shameless self promotion

Everyone should go to and order Tales of the Talisman, Volume 5, Issue 1. When it arrives in the mail, turn directly to page 42 and behold the awesome fiction. I wrote the story found there, and it is the most awesome short story you will ever read. Or not. But it is just one great story in a magazine packed full of great stories which you must have.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Today's MUZAK moment:

REO Speedwagon's 1981 power ballad, "Keep on Loving You" from their 1980 smash album "High Infidelity": While buying a gallon of 2% milk and a box of 13 gallon tall kitchen bags (white) at the Save-A-Lot.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Muzak Moments:

Madonna's 1984 hit "Borderline" while getting coffee at 8:45 in the morning. The perky yet refreshingly slutty 26 year old (when it was recorded) told me how I was making her "lose her mind" while I was getting my coffee.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Awkward MUSAK moments:

(1) "For Your Eyes Only" 1982 hit by Sheena Easton endured while buying cat food at Meijer at 10:30AM.

(2) The 1979 Rupert Holmes hit "Escape" (The PiƱa Colada Song) while watching The Elderly chew their breakfasts and lunches at Perkins while dining with the family. This was followed by the 1978 hit "Le Freak" by the disco band Chic.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009



I am ashamed to admit that today I went to Long John Silver's and got a Sampler Platter. I'm proud to say I didn't get the new "Fish Taco" but what the hell is that anyway? Sounds like you could catch a venereal disease from something like that.

I know the food is horrible — deep fried-fat-fried-fish — but it is so delicious I allow myself the occasional visit. The thing that is weird about the Long John Silver's near my house: The employees are all morbidly obese. The girl who takes my order has a head that is perfectly spherical. She is soulless piggy eyes and pudgy arms and sausage fingers. Does she eat at this place? Does the first aid kit in the back room include a defibrillator?

This place is like Day of The Living Dead. There are elderly people everywhere. In the tiny booth next to the exit sits an old man, probably close to a hundred years old, alone, carefully scooping coleslaw into his toothless face, willing each spoonful to slowly, slowly rise to his drooping jowls, precariously held by a shaking hand. Slowly it rises. So slow.

The 1985 number one hit "Out of Touch" by Hall and Oats plays softly on the speakers.

A washed-out red-headed mother and child, both wearing different shades of sickly orange, sit silently eating their corporate mash. What familial madness goes on in their domicile? Trailer or McMansion? It is hard to tell. Who would bring a child to this place? If this isn't child abuse, what is?

Suddenly Elton John's 1975 smash hit "Philadelphia Freedom" plays as I pour Malt Vinegar Sauce on my hush puppies and try to keep the desperation of this place from creeping into my soul. I wonder how this particular Circle of Corporate Hell fits into the fat, bloated American Landscape.

A few more customers have arrived. Watching these overweight people shovel crap into their heads makes me sick, and sicker still when I realize I am doing the same thing.

I go to fill the tiny cups they provide with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. They've renamed the cocktail sauce "shrimp" sauce; who knows what Stupidity was behind that. I am about to get some ketchup for my fries, but a pale, six-five moon-faced Neanderthal in a NASCAR tee shirt is suddenly standing two feet away from me, hands on his hips, like I'm keeping him from some important appointment. He's wearing black exercise pants, although the prominent gut hanging over his beltline tells me he is not using those pants for their intended purpose. Mark Martin's convex face, stretched over this man's massive gut, looks pained. I go back to my seat without my ketchup. This is what prison would be like for me, if there are condiment bars in prison. I do not make eye contact.

I can feel the batter, the magnificent batter that makes the fish and the chicken indistinguishable by sight, coagulating in my arteries. The grease on my fingers moistens the paper on which I am trying to write. The ink pen is fouled in the stuff. With each bite I am killing myself, ever so slowly.

The old man hobbles to the trash can and puts his leavings into the little door, which swings back and forth as he disgorges himself into the parking lot. My God, he's going to operate a motor vehicle. The children! Oh the humanity! Will he get home to fall asleep in front of his television, watching the Price is Right? Let us hope so.

I can't finish my plate. The FDA should raid this place SWAT style, Taser everyone and shut the place down for public safety. I walk back into the sunlight, bloated and ashamed, holding my greasy fingers before me. "Out, damned spot! out, I say!" I get back into my car which is pre-heated like a fish under a heat lamp. I swear to myself to never to set foot in that place again.

But the Malt Vinegar! It calls me. It calls.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

office move: cubicles in flux

Office moves are the best. Unhooking the computers, waiting on the elevators. The flat-screen monitor has made it easier, but big-ass laser printers seem to retain their original back-breaking weight. The gravitational pull on toner seems to be all powerful. One step ahead of the furniture movers, I deftly save the computer equipment from the random smashing and knocking-over of the moving guys.

The DSL line in place, I reconstruct the network like a smashed face after a head-on collision. Everything works. The patch panels are lined up with the PCs. The router is routing, the printers are printing, the computers are computing.

I am the computer guy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cooperation vs. Obedience

Guilty or innocent, we are told that we must "cooperate" with the police.

This is not a call to fight the police. When dealing with police, I will "cooperate". I suggest you do the same.

This is also not a screed against police. We are a nation of laws and we need police to enforce those laws. There are dangerous criminals and we need police to protect us from those criminals.

This is not about "rights" or justice.

This is about the words authorities and policy makers choose to describe the relationship between the police and the public.

When you hear the word "cooperate" in this context, I want you to replace that word, in your head, with a more accurate word:


The word "cooperate" is inaccurate because in order to cooperate you need two parties working toward a common goal. When you are compelled to cooperate, you are really forced to obey. According to the dictionary, to "cooperate" is to "act together or in compliance", so the word is technically correct, but "obey" is a more accurate and descriptive word.

Sometimes you want to cooperate with authorities. If there are burglaries in your area, and you are not the burglar, you want the police to catch the burglar.

But if you are minding your own business and the police start asking questions, or if the police infringe on what you have been told are your "rights", then it is impossible for you to cooperate because their goals and your goals are very different.

Sometimes people who are doing nothing wrong are interfered with by police. Maybe the police tell them to move along when they have the right to stay put. Maybe the authorities ask questions they have no "right" to ask. Maybe the police break up a peaceful protest. How can citizens cooperate with an armed group that does not have the public's best interest in mind?

Do the police have the right to take these actions?

Of course they do. They can do anything they want. They are armed; they are better equipped and more organized than the public. Armed groups are always right, doubly so if they have badges.

Guilty or innocent, cooperating with police is impossible; obeying the police is inevitable. An innocent person does not want to be detained or interrogated by police, yet he has to OBEY the police because of the simple threat of violence. The criminal defiantly cannot cooperate with the police because his goal is directly opposed to their goal; he does not want to be caught. To ask either party to "cooperate" is madness. To force them to obey is easy. The word obey is a more accurate description in both cases.

From the authorities' point of view, it is wise to use the word "cooperate" instead of "obey". The word "obey" is almost offensive to Freedom loving Americans, but we learned the word "cooperate" on Sesame Street, and if we heard it from Grover and Oscar the Grouch, it has to be good, right?

If the media used the word "obey" to describe the relationship between police and civilians, people might stop to think:

Hey wait a minute, why do I always have to obey the police?

That is a dangerous question, and you should never ask that question. The answer to this dangerous and forbidden question is simple: You must always obey the police because they have Tasers and guns and clubs and if you don't obey, they will beat you down and take you to jail. Your innocence or guilt is irrelevant. Do not question the authorities. You must always obey the authorities.

A less hypocritical thing would be for the authorities to come right out and say it: YOU WILL OBEY. If you are innocent, obey anyway because it is more convenient for the police. If you are guilty, they want you to obey because it will make it easier for them to arrest you and throw you in jail, despite your obvious motivation to get away.

Either way, if you don't obey, they will take you to jail and charge you with something.

The justice or fairness of this is irrelevant. You must obey the police at all times regardless of your innocence or guilt, regardless of your "right" to assemble and protest because if you don't obey they will throw you in jail. You will then be told that this is for "the public good".

So remember, you are not compelled to cooperate; you are only forced to obey.

Monday, July 13, 2009

no! wait! don't leave us now!

I love the way the mortgage company you are about to leave suddenly wants to talk about lowering the interest rate AFTER you've already asked for a payoff amount. Like it is the absolute LAST resort for keeping a customer. Ha Ha! Should have just lowered it before. Now you don't get ANY of the sweet, sweet interest on our home loan amount.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

movie review: bruno

Bruno 2009 * * * Meh, it was okay. not as good as I thought it would be. ~ July 11, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

tiny update

I'm almost finished cleaning up the felled pine tree in the back yard. We cut it down because it was a filthy, needle-dropping tree and we need its spot for a hot tub.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dan is Paranoid:

So I went to the post office today to buy some stamps. I ask for a roll of stamps and hand the woman my bank card.

She says, "Picture ID?"

And I'm thinking: "Jesus Christ, what now? What crazy excuse has the Homeland Security/Domestic Spying fascists come up with now? Why in the the hell do they want picture ID for buying stamps? If I don't show ID, are they going to taser me right here in the post office? What next? When is this stupidity going to stop? What is this? North Korea?"

But I just said, "I need picture ID to buy stamps now?"

And she says, "No, for the credit card."


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Teen charged in Miami's 19 serial cat killings -

Teen charged in Miami's 19 serial cat killings - "He could face a maximum of 158 years in state prison if convicted on all counts, said Terry Shavez, spokeswoman for the state attorney's office."

--If they give this kid 158 years for killing cats, that would be awesome.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The FDA is now going to regulate tobacco.

How hard could this possibly be? I'll spell it out:

Day 1: Yeah! we regulate tobacco!
Day 2: Tobacco is illegal.

How could they possibly allow tobacco to be legal? It kills the sh!t out of people all the time. I am NOT anti-smoking, but if they are going to "regulate" tobacco, and it kills as many people as it kills, then the only "logical" thing to do would be to make it illegal.


Legalize the stuff that is less harmful.

The other thing that surprises me is this: The FDA WASN'T regulating tobacco until this year? WTF are those slackers good for?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Coffee Shop Notes

Loud Cell Phone Talker: The guy at the table behind me is on the phone with Verizon. He had a $500.00 phone bill and he is not happy with his [business] plan. He has a nasal whine, and while he isn't being a prick now, he's close. You can tell he's got full-on douche potential. Of course we all do, but this guy is letting it out on the surface a little too publicly at a high volume. He taps impatiently on the table as he talks to Verizon about endless details of his Verizon business plan:

His son married "this girl" in March. Apparently she is on the plan as well, but referring to your daughter-in-law as "this girl" tells us (everybody in the coffee shop who has to listen to this dipshit) something about his feelings toward his son's wife. He just told us all his phone number, and now I've jotted it down in my yellow notepad. (I could be a prick and put it in this note, but no one reads my blog anyway Now he's told us his son's phone number (really loud) and his daughter-in-law's (that girl's) number. He's blurting all this wonderful information out to everybody, and I'm scribbling furiously right in front of him and he's clueless.

Who else is in the coffee shop? A chubby guy in a red and white striped shirt sits down and starts some furious laptopping(1). He's on his cell phone, talking about developing a website, but he has discovered his INSIDE VOICE (gasp!) so he is not annoying. I will not eavesdrop, because he is not broadcasting for all to hear. He is not annoying. Good for him. Good for humanity.

There are two pairs of women, each pair sitting at a table. All four have laptops. Side-by-side seems to be the preferred configuration. These two pairs of women are not together. The men laptop alone.

Two young girls are sitting to my left, chatting. They too have discovered inside voices. They are also not annoying. That is doubleplusgood. They don't have laptops! What what?

Loud phone talker leaves and later two women sit down at the same table. The woman behind me is trying to locate her daughter by calling various people on her cell phone. "She isn't answering her cell phone and she isn't at home." She hangs up. "This is so frustrating." She continues her conversation with the woman sitting with her. "I just told him to find a job, I don't care where." She makes a few more phone calls, trying to locate her offspring. "The only thing I can think of is she got a ride with someone else." Her name is "Caily" (or something like that. Spelling unknown. Non-standard naming convention)

Finally, "Caily" is found.

"'Caily'? How did you get home?" She says goodbye. "She got a ride home with Daniel," she says to the woman sitting with her. She calls someone else. "I'm so sorry, I don't know why she didn't call you or text you to let you know. She's in such trouble."

Again she hangs up. To the woman who is sitting there not saying much: "The two older children are from Curt. From my ex-husband . . . [insert entire life story here].

(1) Yes, I'm using the word "laptop" as a verb. Deal with it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

a "late fee" by any other name . . .

This is what is printed on the back of my water bill. In all capital letters, as if that causes it to make more sense:


First of all, I've always paid my water bill. This isn't about me. But "FAILURE TO RECEIVE" the bill indicates that it might be lost in the mail. It would be impossible to complain about the bill before the due date if it is lost in the mail, and even more impossible to pay it on time if it was lost in the mail. And yet, this situation DOES NOT EXCUSE ANY LATE FEE. I wouldn't want it "EXCUSED" anyway. I'd want it eliminated. Is that the same thing?

In fact, if there is "NO EXCUSE" for a late fee, doesn't that mean a late fee will not be tolerated? And if that's the case, does that mean there are no late fees? I don't think my smart ass argument would get me anywhere at the courthouse, or wherever one takes a water bill to argue about it, which I probably would never do, because I fear the government and all government agencies.

Notice it doesn't say "FAILURE TO RECEIVE THIS BILL". Someone at the water department was thinking. If it said, "FAILURE TO RECEIVE THIS BILL", it would be impossible to read it because you hadn't received it yet. I'm pretty sure an angry customer at one time came in and made that same argument when they didn't "receive" their bill on time. That's when they probably changed that ALL CAP notice to say "THE" instead of "THIS".

I send out checks on the due date for most of my bills, and I noticed a $15.44 "adjustment" to my bill. I couldn't' figure it out until I realized it was a late fee. They don't put "late fee" on there because if I don't realize I sent it in late, I won't send it earlier the next time. They want me to keep sending it out on the due date instead of before the due date, and they'll keep making their little "adjustment". If they play that little trick on enough water bills, that is a lot of money. If they put "LATE FEE" on the bill, people would start paying on time, and that would mean less money for the water company.

It is my own fault for not paying attention. So I checked back on all my water bills. There's a $15.40 "adjustment" on the last bill also. We're billed quarterly for our water. So is it a late fee or something else? I called and asked the Township office and indeed, it is a late fee. It's not quite ten percent. Do they also make sure it isn't exactly ten percent so we can't figure out that it is a "late fee" instead of a mysterious "adjustment"?

I'm sending it early this time. And how quickly I've caught on: a mere nine years living in here. Ha ha ha. That's around $15.00 x 36 quarters = $540.00 in late fees (oops, I mean "adjustments"). Multiply that by all the late payers in the Township and I can see why you wouldn't want to point out the fact that your payer is paying late every month. "Adjustment" indeed.

I'm not complaining. Every so often when I open a tap and cold, clear water comes out I realize it is a miracle. We are so lucky to have hot and cold running water. A hundred years ago, chances are that wouldn't be possible. And a hundred years from now, it probably won't be possible either. We've hit the sweet spot being born when we were born, and we should count ourselves lucky. We have it so good in the "modernized" world.

But why does that notice on the back of my bill have to be in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS? And why can't they call a "late fee" a "late fee"?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Friday at the Common Ground Coffee Shop

I had a job this morning, lunch and two beers at Founders and now I'm at the Common Ground Coffee Shop, reading East of Eden, having coffee and smoking a cigar.

Three loud girls are at the next table.

One of the girls is complaining about a roommate. "He has no common sense," she says. "I put my name on my cream cheese and he ate it anyway." She says she's enjoying her freedom now that school is out. She sleeps in until ten.

"I'm connected to old boyfriends on Facebook . . . 'Oh, you look like a little old man.'" The girl is probably twenty-two years old at most.

"Churches help a lot," she says.

Someone used the word "gonzo" at Founders, and one of the girls just mentioned watching the movie Gonzo with a couple of friends.

Now the girls are talking about a guy whose guidance councilor said going to Michigan University was a "long shot". Now they are talking about their SATs. "I am not a fast reader," says tall gawky blonde girl.

Tall blonde has a pot belly, a tight white shirt, sad tits and horrible posture. The brunette in the middle has Tina Fey glasses and a red shirt with an American flag on the front and a white button down shirt over that.

"They wanted to place me in 202. I scored amazingly well on the test," Tina Fey Glasses says.

The third girl wears a brown shirt. She has bad posture and an unremarkable face.

The girl in the brown shirt is a chain smoker.

"What were we talking about?"

"We were talking about Lydia."

A guy shows up. He declares that he is tired. Black pants, black unzipped sweater jacket. White tee-shirt. Blonde hair cut close. Pale goatee.

Blonde girl gets up and hugs him. They sit on the sofa right across from me.

Tired Guy is going to California and then to LA.

"How's LA?" Blonde Girl asks. I think she likes saying "LA". I'm jealous of these young people. Apparently they are studying film.

"Like GR only more spread out," Tired Guy says.

Okay, I no longer am jealous. LA is like Grand Rapids? Really? I've seen Pulp Fiction too many times to believe that.

"I'm working with LA Catholic Worker?" Blonde Girl says. "I'm going to be living in an LA halfway house with homeless and three people who are dying?"

She ends her declarative sentences like questions. I hate that?

"These were fucking . . ." she says. "They call it the Hippy Kitchen. So what did you do in LA?"

"Different jobs, different companies. Made a few friends and made a few enemies," the Tired Guy says.

"What did you do?" Blonde Girl asks.

"Be myself," Tired Guy says. He seems pretty laid back. Non-annoying. That's saying a lot.

Tired Guy is in film school and Blonde Girl is in some kind of works program. They have been to LA and I haven't. I hate them and envy them at the same time.

Later . . .

"So I heard that Heather is pregnant?"

"Allegedly," Tired Guy says.

"She is so friggin' cute."

"I was nice to her, but that doesn't mean I have to like her."

Blonde girls starts a lot of statements with the word "Dude".

"I am now a film studies major."

"I wanted Photography but Calvin sucks ass."

"Finished French forever."

"You fluent then?"

"I wouldn't say fluent."

And later . . .

"I saw Fahrenheit 457?"

"What else are you doing?"

"Shooting movies."

None of these people have any concept of inside voices. I feel no guilt in eavesdropping. Eavesdropping? They're practically yelling their lines.

"I'm a vegetarian."

"When did that happen?"

"Oh, I eat cheese. Don't even start. I eat cheese, milk and eggs. I don't care what animals are abused for those or whatnot."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

chillin at the condo

we're living large at a condo on lake charlevoix. one of my very special customers needs the wireless set up so we get to use the place this weekend. this place rocks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

in line at the post office

The guy in line in front of me is wearing brown shoes, blue jeans with frays at the heels. He holds five envelopes in his left hand, his pinky out. He keeps a wallet in his left back pocket. I see two credit cards. He wears a purple shirt. He keeps his brown hair short, but he needs a haircut or at least a shave on the back of his neck. He is going bald. He is impatient. There are four people in front of him, and the guy at the counter is a stamp collector, and he's asking about every type of stamp they have. The guy collecting stamps at the counter wears khaki pants and a large blue button down shirt, untucked. His hair is snow white, and he has a goatee. He and the postal worker lady are talking like they are the only two people in the room. It is noon.

The guy in front of me taps his foot, then turns around to see if anyone else is witnessing this shit (the guy at the counter with no regard for other people's time). My head is down, writing into this little notebook, so I don't have to make eye contact. I hate interacting with people I don't know. The guy in front of me has a goatee, and he stands like he's in a hurry. He should take up writing. It is a good hobby, and helps kill time while waiting in line (I forgot my book).

The lady behind me has shiny faux gold and jeweled flip-flops. She is wearing shorts. She has a horrible 80s hairdo and a burned face. She has a purse and a stylish canvas bag. I'm no fashion genius, but she is one tacky broad. Glad my handwriting is crappy, there's no way she'll be able to read this.

The lady in front of impatient purple shirt guy has grey frizzy hair.

There are six people behind me and only two in front now. There is a cop in line.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

memorial day weekend . . .

There is no new news since last time I checked the news sites. There are no new updates on Facebook since last time I checked Facebook, just minutes before. There is nothing new to eat in the refrigerator since last time I checked, half an hour ago. There is nothing new outside my window since last time I checked, a few minutes ago. There is nothing new on television since last time I checked, just a few minutes before.

There are no new calls on my phone since last time I checked. There are no news items on since last time I checked. There are no new updates on Facebook since last time I checked.

I don't have any new ideas for stories since last time I checked. There is nothing new to eat in the refrigerator since last time I checked, half an hour ago. There is nothing new on Facebook since last time I checked. There is no new email since last time I checked, just a few minutes before. There is nothing new outside my window since last time I checked, a few minutes ago. There is nothing new on television since last time I checked, just a few minutes before.

There are no new calls on my phone since last time I checked. There are no news items on since last time I checked. There are no new updates on Facebook since last time I checked.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


I was tooling along on Alex's electric scooter on the sidewalk. I took it to the bank to make a deposit, and on my way back, I heard a motorcycle behind me. I turned and looked at it was a motorcycle cop. He was right behind me, on the sidewalk.

I got pulled over by a motorcycle cop for riding an electric scooter on the sidewalk. I would usually bitch about something like this, but the cop was cool and I've wrinkled my nose at other people doing the same thing. The cop asked me for my driver's license. He asked me if I "was suspended". I had no idea what he was talking about. He said, "Is your license suspended?" I said I hadn't had a ticket in years. He ran my license and let me go.

We got a lot of funny looks, a guy pulled over on an electric scooter by a motorcycle cop, on the sidewalk, lights flashing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

two movie reviews:

THE WRESTLER: great movie, except it will make you want to commit suicide for a few hours afterwords. ERASERHEAD: weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life. Weird is a good thing.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This essay is about the disillusionment that takes place throughout an individual's lifetime. Disillusionment is the decision by an individual that an idea or concept that was once believed valid is actually bullshit.


There is an instant when a human being moves a concept or idea from the "accepted" subset of all ideas and concepts to the bullshit subset of all ideas and concepts. This instant is called a moment of realization. The remark "that's total bullshit" is an indicator that the speaker believes that a concept, declaration or idea is indeed bullshit and should therefore be held in contempt and or scorned.


A newborn baby has no concept of bullshit. A baby receives unfiltered sensory perceptions, but cannot understand abstract concepts. A newborn baby accepts everything as valid. This condition is temporary and soon ends as the baby becomes a child and later develops the ability to recognize bullshit.

As a child develops the ability to use language, he or she develops a short list of things considered bullshit, although the child may designate these things as "lame", "bogus", or "weak". The child will use current popular slang to express his or her belief that a concept or idea is bullshit. Whatever slang the child or adolescent is using, it is building and refining his or her list of things that fall under the category of bullshit. But eventually the child will utter the phrase, "that's bullshit".


What is and is not bullshit is a matter of opinion, and therefore cannot be defined absolutely. What is obvious bullshit to one person is absolute truth to another person. Without an ultimate authority of truth and bullshit, arguments will go unanswered.


Conflicts arise when large segments of a population cannot agree on what is and is not bullshit. Humans cannot identify all bullshit correctly at all times. That which is believed to be bullshit by a few may be accepted as truth by many, and that which is accepted as true by some may be held in contempt (as bullshit) by the majority.

Popular ideas may fall out of favor over time, declining in the collective consciousness until it is universally defined as bullshit, although in earlier periods that same concept may have been accepted as valid without discussion.

The conflict that arises over differences in opinion regarding the bullshit or non-bullshit of a given issue sometimes take place in the arenas of politics or religion. Sometimes even the debate over a given issue becomes bullshit itself, and the matter being debated is obscured by a shit-storm of bullshit arguments and contortions of logic on both sides of any argument. The downward spiral of competing bullshit arguments has led many to believe that all politics and all religion are bullshit and should therefore be held in contempt regardless of the actual issues being debated.


The idea that any number of ideas or concepts could be bullshit can lead to unbalanced skepticism, which can lead to snarky comments on all subjects. This can lead to douchbaggery, a condition brought on by the fear of missing some concept that is bullshit, and the fear that in failing to detect said bullshit, one has exposed oneself to the mockery of one's peers. One should always keep in mind that in the set of all existing concepts and ideas, there is a slim chance that some things are not bullshit.


Cases where individuals (often elderly or mature individuals) who have identified between 85% and 95% of all ideas and concepts as bullshit are often considered "wise", "worldly", "senile", or "grumpy".

Over time, the aging individual experiences more things and categorizes a continuously growing number of things as bullshit. The percentage of things held in contempt as bullshit approaches 100%.

The percentage of things that exist that are considered bullshit in the mind of an individual can never reach 100%, because if the person concludes that all concepts and ideas are bullshit, the individual's will to live reaches 0% and the natural survival instinct is negated and the individual would then become non-functioning.

There is no possibility of reaching a belief that 100% of all ideas and concepts are bullshit because the very "idea" that all things are bullshit is also an idea, and holding that idea itself as true makes it impossible to believe that all ideas are bullshit.

While the hypothetical 100% bullshit non-functioning person does not necessarily die, it is possible that a person who has reached a 100% bullshit identification ratio will have a really bad attitude, or may in fact be a douchbag.

The other possibility is that someone who has identified all existing ideas and concepts as bullshit may become totally laid-back and cool. This idea, however, is itself bullshit.


There is a lot of bullshit out there. Next time you are presented with an idea, a dogma, plan, plea, cause or theory, think critically about what is being discussed or proposed, and ask yourself: is this bullshit?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

writing scraps

* * *

It was their need to control that eventually destroyed them. The cameras, the number of cameras doubled every year, until there was nowhere to go that wasn't under surveillance. At least it appeared that every spot in the country was under surveillance, but there was a problem:

There weren't enough people to watch all of the cameras. State workers got bored watching the same street corners day after day, year after year. Usually nothing happened, and when something did happen, it was usually sad and typical.

So they wrote software to watch what happened on the cameras. Face recognition software, RFID chips, optical character recognition (for vehicle license plates) and advanced programs to read body language, cultural trends and so on was developed. There were particle analyzers that sniffed the air for drugs and explosives.

* * *

She holds her books like a schoolgirl. She has bad posture, a slouch that makes it seem that she doesn't want to be seen; as if she is ashamed to be in the room, wherever she is. She has mouse-brown hair cut pageboy style around a chubby face. Chubby: that is the word for her. If she had any fashion sense she would realize that a khaki pants and brown belt and pale tucked-in button down shirt are wrong for her body type. Everything is wrong for her body type, but at least loose clothes wouldn't give her a "muffin top," the bulge over the belt that is too tight.

Her name is "Ed" which is short for Edwina, her grandmother's name on her father's side. She has always hated the nickname but has never said anything about it.

She never says anything about anything.

* * *


The barista is a movie / television buff. He has a hip way of talking, laid-back Californian styled speech couched in Michigan.

But he doesn't know what a cathode-ray tube is. The postman he is talking to mentions it, and the Barista comes up blank.

The Barista talks to the postman about the new Star Trek movie, and the director, whose name is Abrams, who has done "Lost" and "Cloverfield", and about how Abrams has a knack of making things "vibrant" and "alive".

I agree.

I eavesdrop, but is it eavesdropping if the speaker has a loud voice and is using it in public? I think not.

* * *

Monday, May 11, 2009

new blog post in 3...2...1...

How to make your dull day a little more interesting: On the show Mythbusters, before they do anything, they always announce what they're going to do and then count down from three: "Firing in 3...2...1..." and then they fire the gun or whatever. "Electrocution test in 3...2...1..." and then they pull the switch.

I think we can all incorporate this weird behavior in our own lives. "Saying grace in 3...2...1...", or "brushing teeth in 3...2...1..." or, "coffee break in 3...2...1..."

It might help break up a dull day (if you have those) or at least annoy or entertain those around you.

This has been a tip from Dan Manning, who is waiting for the damn phone to ring (in 3...2...1...)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

fifth third river bank run

did the 10k in 58:26, which is pretty good for my pace. Now, off to the Hideout for a beer.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Star Trek movie review

Great action movie. Spoiler alert: The bad guy looks like the lead singer from Smashing Pumpkins.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

#96 poem?

When Pearl Jam counts as classic rock,
And Ozzy plays the fool,
And my old bones no longer dance
Because I'm so uncool,

With mortgages and bills and work
To occupy my age,
When Democrats and Publicans
Have outlived my outrage,

When I have seen that everything
Is Bullshit without fail,
And Global Warming and Swine Flue
Are both brought down to scale,

When everything I've ever known
Turns out to be untrue,
I'll shake my head and thank the Stars
Above I still have you.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Are You With The Writer's Group?

I arrive at the bookstore to hopefully join a writer's group. The website said they meet here at noon. I go up to the counter to get some coffee.

"Does the writer's group meet here today?"

"I'm not sure," says Miss Helpful as she gets my coffee. "I don't usually work here during the day. If there is a meeting they usually meet in the back."

I think she's wrong, but I lug my writing stuff back there, and no, the roped off area with the tables and podium is empty. I return to the cafe at the front of the store.

Do I really want to join a group? I'm not much of a 'joiner'.

The people who have come into the bookstore cafe so far strike me as kind of . . .

Well, they aren't the writer's group after all. They are probably church people. They are severely white, safely dressed, and annoyingly self-conscience.

You would think I'd be able to spot a group of writers. I guess they aren't meeting today. I guess I'll just sit here and write.

Two middle aged church ladies are sitting across from each other near the black-marble tiled fireplace, and one of them has a voice that carries.

Skinny alone guy by the window has looked over his shoulder at them twice now, but they haven't noticed. He's trying to read the paper, and how dare voice-carrying lady disturb him?

From the kitchen of ill-advised belly shirts I hear this: "Did you see the email from Barb? About the banana split?"

The group I thought was a writer's group is indeed a church group. They have pushed tables together right behind me, chatting about safe topics.

"What was the best part of the trip?" One of the faithful asks. There is much banal talk. At one point: "Let me finish this so I don't have to keep trying to finish this, Vicky."

So no writer's group. I guess I'll write without them.

Actually, asking each person who comes into the bookstore if they are with the writer's group is becoming increasingly easy.

"Are you with the writer's group?" I ask an attractive girl. I already know she's not with a writer's group because she has nursing textbooks and a laptop. She's studying for nursing school, but I ask her anyway because she's somewhat hot.

"No, I'm studying."

I knew you were; I just wanted to see that awkward moment when creepy guy asks you if you are with the writer's group. Could I somehow use this as a pick-up line? Hey, look at me, I'm wearing black and looking for a non-existent writer's group. Oh, can I buy you a coffee? You've always been interested in writing? Oh sure, it's hard to find time for anything, studying for school. . .

I learned about this supposed group online last night searching "Facebook" on the word "Grand Rapids."

Another group arrives at the bookstore cafe. Nope, they are not the writer's group. At least there are some bohemian traits with this group. At least there is some eyeliner and shirts from Hot Topic. At least there are backpacks and tattoos. But alas no, these are not the writers I seek.

Just to make sure, I gather up my pen and composition book and check the area in the back again. Nope, no writer's group there.

Overheard: "Didn't see any birds flying around in Church today."

That's a sign that God has abandoned your false church! I want to scream, and then I imagine I storm out and stare belligerently at them through the windows until they call the police.

Seen: The morbidly obese man in the black striped shirt: he has a black and gray goatee, red mottled skin, and a receding hairline. He places the contents of a plastic baggie into his hand. He examines the little group of colorful pills in his fat sweaty palm and then pops them into his mouth and washes them down with coffee. Then the waitress brings him a giant roast-beef sandwich, and I foresee his lonely death in his empty apartment due to heart-complications and diabetes. His corpse will watch television for four days before he is discovered. When they find him, Dr. Phil will be humiliating some skinny pierced teenager on the television with a belligerent lecture about responsibility.

Maybe there is no writer's group, but the person who set up the Facebook page is here anyway, giggling as I ask strangers if they belong to the non-existent group. What a nice setup. How many times have they mocked rubes like me who come seeking a group to belong to that doesn't exist?

Even the non-helpful belly-shirt coffee girl gets into the act. She asks people if perhaps they are in the writer's group. What do I look like to the nubile staff? What do they think of the creepy guy in his forties who keeps asking everyone if they are with the writer's group? Help, I need to belong to a group! Won't you let me join you? Look how lonely I am, sipping my coffee, hunched over my little composition book, glancing up at every group hoping to belong, to belong to something bigger than myself, where I can pretend to listen to other people's writing when really I'm only waiting for my turn to read my writing, which is all I really care about. Pretending to be impressed with someone else's writing while inside I'm screaming, "Why don't you acknowledge my genius? Where is the multi-million dollar contract? Harrison Ford is too old to be in a movie based on my novel, but Stephen Spielberg is more than welcome to direct it, just as soon as I get around to writing it.

What am I doing in this bookstore? I should be home, smoke-checking my keyboard with sublime turns of phrases, scintillating wit and subtle innuendo. No publisher will be able to resist my literary charms. My characters, rich and complex, will exchange witty banter before saving the world from philosophical aliens who arrive in silver spacecraft.

"Are you with the writer's group?" Now I've actually gone outside in the sun to ask the lone girl sitting at one of the tables outside. She smiles. Oh, she likes me. Is this a pickup line, she is wondering. Just a mouse of a girl, reading alone, minding her own business. Oh the things I could show you. I'm a writer, aren't I fascinating? But no, she isn't in the writer's group, although I knew it all along, I act mildly disappointed, and then I slink back into the darkness like Nosferatu before she becomes nervous and sprays me in the face with pepper spray.

Finally I give up. Oh the scalding post I'll post on that Facebook page. I spent all this time in the bookstore when I could have been writing instead . . . Oh, wait a minute . . . Maybe if I were to jot all of this down, it might be mildly entertaining.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

movie review: Trainspotting

movie "Trainspotting" = ***** asterisks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

"State of Play" Russell Crowe looks like an angry, unfunny Sam Kinison with that haircut!
the announcer for the MSU game just said UNC is the "epitome of spurtability team". At what point do the producers rush in and TASER the announcer for saying retarded shit? I'm just asking.
commercial for "GM Confidence (.com)." LOLZ yeah, GM Confidence. They have the balls to run a commercial that says that? Live TV BLOWS. These commercials are nauseating. Guess I'll pause it long enough to buffer the commercials. Dammit.

And every time I bother watching sports, the team I want to win loses. Is it possible I'm affecting the outcome of major sporting events in other geographic locations just by viewing them on the TV? It's impossible!
twitter is down during the game. sports overload?
They can show all the Coke Zero commercials they want, but it tastes like ass.
Top of the seventh, Tigers down by 4. MSU game in a couple minutes. Gawd, Denny's giving out free food again. I know there's a recession on, but really? Just giving out free food? Oh God! How many friggin' commercials do they show during live TV?

Friday, March 27, 2009


Bathtub IV from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

ze frank finds the best stuff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Internet refugees . . . day two

The Internet has been down for two days now, and the girls and I are at Bigsbee's using their wireless. I have an appointment set up for Comca$t to come and fix the Internets tomorrow between "noon and three" whatever that means. I can't believe it's been down this long. We had a lot of wind yesterday, and apparently the wind broke the Internets. My next door neighbor has Internets, but I do not. That makes me very sad.

I only had one call today, and that was at four PM, so I had a lot of time on my hands. I got some writing done (in this very coffee shop) but that gave me a coffee buzz and I was really buzzing for awhile. It is cold, the Internets is down, and I can't play World of Warcraft. What am I to do? READ??

I am Dan the Prophet, and here is my message:

I'm in the coffee shop again, and again there's somebody within earshot talking about "fasting" and "bible study" and all this hocus pocus bullshit. The guy isn't annoying, he seems intelligent, he's sitting with a young woman and her child, and they're talking about a bunch of religious stuff. What a waste. What a total waste. What the hell could they possibly have to "study" about regarding kindness toward other people? How much study does that take? Here's a college class: "Don't be a dick."

That's it. The entire bible could be written on one page:

"Don't be a dick."

That's it. How is there an entire industry, colleges and books and CDs and churches based on constantly trying to remind people to be decent to each other? How much time does it take to figure that out?

How many trees have died for bibles, pamphlets, booklets, hymnals, tracts, worksheets and posters telling people to basically act with kindness toward one another?

The couple is talking about using a highlighter to "go through the booklet" to figure out the "teaching" involved in whatever hooba-jooba they're talking about.

Here's a religion:

"Don't be an asshole."

These four words will be the Old Testament.

Here's the New Testament:

"Be Nice."

Okay, bind that in leather and distribute it to the masses. It should be translated into every language.

I am Dan the Prophet, and here is my message:

"Don't be a douchbag!"
"Cut each other a break once in awhile!"

And yes, I've broken my own rule about a million times. I'm not perfect.

How hard is that to figure out? Every time I come here there are people are talking about the ins and outs of being kind to one another. It's not a science. How much time does it take to learn how to act decently with one another? You need some guy the sky looking over your shoulder to know better than to cheat and steal? You need something carved into stone in order to realize that killing is wrong?

I see the upside to going to church. Lots of people to spend time with. A support group. If it wasn't for the religious part, I'd probably go myself (as long as could skip the really long lecture part). But to be surrounded by people who believe all this crazy shit is too much.

And they only believe it because their PARENTS probably believed it, or their friends believe it. It's a crazy groupthink that is hard to get away from. It's a cult so gigantic that there is no one out there to deprogram all these cultists. It isn't that bad of a thing, I guess, but I wish there was a comparable thing except without the hocus pocus.

(Don't get me wrong, this young couple is not annoying like the paster-loud-cell-phone-talker yesterday. That guy was a total douchbag. At least these two people have discovered their inside voices. I am NOT annoyed by these two people).

Friday, March 06, 2009

Tuesday, March 03, 2009



When shall I grasp these fleeting rings of gold
That flit about the chambers of my mind?

When merchants count imaginary coins,
The host does tremble for its daily bread.

I punch the keys that do not open doors,
While Senators doth babble into air.

While rich men beg for other people's gold
And panels flat do entertain the host.

When will I grasp these fleeting words of truth,
That rattle round my long deficient mind?

When can I bind these fleeting dreams in ink,
And set them to a much beguiling rhyme?

When schools begat the unillumined host,
That twitter tiny thoughts into the air.

When alchemists do waste their precious gifts
On vanities and multi-headed births.

When will I grasp these fleeting thoughts that fly
About my mind that cannot hold a theme?

A mind that has one million tiny glints
Of genius that add up to nothing more
Than tiny lines that flicker on a screen
These tiny lines that will remain unseen
The only thing I know is "wear sunscreen".

When will I grasp these ravings by the arm,
And put them down on paper, safe from harm?


Sunday, March 01, 2009

Reading The Iliad

It is March and it is twelve degrees. Today I did a great deal of nothing, and I did it in sweat pants. I am reading The Iliad, and there is a great deal of killing and armor rattling. The gods love screwing around with people, and there is a lot of describing people as "aegis-bearing" as in
"They call you the son of aegis-bearing Zeus . . ."
I’m trying to figure out what "aegis-bearing" is supposed to mean, and I've put off using The Google. For something written around 8 or 9 hundred years B.C., it is violent. It's like a prose version of the movie "300". As in:
"Meriones overtook him as he was flying, and struck him on the right buttock. The point of the spear went through the bone and into the bladder, and death came upon him as he cried aloud and fell forward on his knees."
"The son of of Phyleus got close up to him and drove a spear into the nape of his neck: it went under his tongue all among his teeth, so he bit the cold bronze, and fell dead in the dust."
Oh yeah.

And there is a lot of armor rattling:
" . . . and his armor rang rattling around him as he fell heavily to the ground."
Anywhoo, this Homer guy has a great future ahead of him, if he keeps this up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I just got a pamphlet with my property tax bill from the county trying to explain how property taxes can go up when property values are way down. I tried to understand what it said until I realized I was reading a steaming pile of bullshit. The title of the pamphlet is "UNDERSTANDING PROPOSAL A IN A DECLINING MARKET"

See if you can understand this garbage:

How can my Taxable Value go up when my SEV goes down?

Remember that the definition of Taxable Value is the lesser of SEV or last year's Taxable Value (adjusted for physical changes) times the CPI. (4.4% for 2009). Since the beginning of Proposal A in 1994, overall increase in Taxable Value capped at the CPI. The longer a property has been owned and capped, the greater the gap between SEV and Taxable Value. Even with a decrease in SEV for 2009, if there is still a gap between SEV and Taxable Value and the 2009 SEV is greater than the Taxable Value in the previous year, the taxable Value will increase to the limit of the CPI cap.

(Bold as printed on the pamphlet)

Oh, it's all so clear to me now. Even though my home value is in the toilet, you're going to tax me like it's a mansion.

Thanks A$$holes!

Saturday, February 21, 2009


snow, snow, snow, how long will it snow? where's the global warming?

Monday, February 16, 2009


My daughters are embarrassed by my new career choice. Oh, it is kind of late for me to make a major career change, but this is a great opportunity for me to make big money. Sure, I'm 42, my back isn't what it used to be, but I, Dan Manning, intend to join the boy-band The Jonas Brothers.

In order to make sure the band knows I'm sincere, I wear my Jonas Brothers tee-shirt everywhere. You don't know how hard these are to find in XL. I'm not sure why this embarrasses my daughters.

"Dad, that's totally gay," they tell me.

People tell me it won't work out. They say I'm a dreamer. They say I'll stand out, but I don't think so. That one kid is kind of tall. And if I grow my hair out, I'll probably fit in, despite weighing 210 pounds and being six foot tall. I tell you it can work.

They say just because my last name doesn’t happen to be "Jonas", I can't join.

I've sent in about a hundred audition audio and video tapes, mp3s and video files to the recording company, and despite their cease and desist order I intend to continue sending them in until they see reason. (N'Sync's lawyers tried that same crap on me back in the nineties, and it didn't work then either. The lead singers are all just threatened of me. Suck it Timberlake! Same goes for you Simon Le Bon!)

Oh sure, a music background would help. A singing voice would help. A time machine would help. I have none of these things, but I’m not going to let a little thing called reality come between me and my unattainable dreams.

My daughters hate it when I wear my Jonas Brothers wig. What's wrong with a full grown man walking around with adorable curly locks? Nothing, that's what.

"Daaad! Gawd!" my youngest one will say.

So what if I have the Jonas Brothers cranked on the minivan stereo when I pick them up after school?

What's the big deal?

I can't understand the boss

So I'm at the bookstore having coffee and sitting in a comfortable chair by the fireplace reading "The Stuff of Thought" by Pinker. Everything would have been perfect, except they have Willie Nelson on the speakers, playing at a reasonable volume. Nice jazz stuff, he's in a duet with some female vocalist. Not complaining about the music choice.

Problem is, if I'm trying to read and there is music with lyrics playing, sometimes it distracts me from reading, and the words in the song and the words on the page get all mixed up. I focused on the words on the page and managed to continue reading. The next CD was classical, which was fine, because there were no lyrics.

The NEXT CD was "the boss", Bruce Springsteen. No problem there either. He is completely unintelligible. Can't understand a thing he says. When he sings it sounds like they're strangling a chimp.

Friday, February 13, 2009



Dan Manning

We are losing jobs at an alarming rate. In a report dated January 16, 2009, there have already been over 87,000 jobs lost this year. My plan would drastically reduce joblessness, ease traffic congestion, raise home prices and ease the financial burden of grocery bills.

I'm talking of course, about cannibalism.

Now before you reject this idea, hear me out. My plan is simple. Every American must pledge to eat at least one other American.

This won't be as difficult as it sounds. Think about your neighbors for a minute. Is there at least one neighbor you wouldn't miss? Isn't there at least one you could live without? Is there someone you might actually be glad to see gone? That neighbor could be the source of meat for at least ten meals, twenty if processed carefully by a professional butcher.

Job creation:

If that person is employed, consuming that person (in a humane and dignified manner) opens up a job for someone else. If that person is unemployed, then eating that person would mean there is one less person receiving unemployment benefits, easing the entitlement burden on everyone else.

Traffic congestion:

Eating your neighbor immediately reduces that person's carbon footprint to zero. Consuming your next door neighbor, means one less person driving around in a car, and that means less carbon monoxide(co) which reduces the body's ability to carry oxygen . So you can breath easier with every American consumed. According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) 2007 Urban Mobility Report , Americans waste 4.2 billion hours per year and burn 9.2 billion gallons of fuel per year just sitting in traffic. That's a drain of $78 billion on our nation's economy. If we all vowed to eat just one American this year, we could cut those numbers in half.

The idea may still seem strange, perhaps even repugnant to some readers, so let me make it more appetizing. Let's say someone cuts you off in traffic. Instead of flipping them the bird, or getting frustrated, follow that person to their house. Eat them. You've done your duty to your country, you've lowered unemployment and greenhouse gas emissions, you've saved on your grocery bill, and you've got back at that son-of-a-bitch for cutting you off in traffic and driving like an idiot. Where's the downside to that?

But what about the children?

Children are small. They put up less of a fight, so feel free to eat two. They are going to grow up and breed anyway. Consuming children will result in smaller class sizes in our public schools. To reduce cases of childhood obesity, eat the largest, most annoying children first. In an added benefit, fat kids are delicious.

The Homeless:

Many of you are probably thinking, "We should eat the homeless first." That is a natural response to the idea, but it is misguided. The homeless have very small carbon footprints, and they are a central part of the Cannibalism Plan. Because the homeless have fewer advantages, they need extra help. So I propose feeding the homeless with the prepared bodies of mortgage bankers and Wall Street brokers, the guys who got us into this mess in the first place. Given the opportunity, the homeless could use this new initiative to eat even more of the people who got us into this mess, such as congressmen, lobbyists, and corporate executives. Another reason to not eat homeless people: meat from free-range humans is notoriously stringy and dry.

Celebrities/TV to Promote the Plan:

Cooking shows could lead the way by teaching Americans innovative ways to prepare and cook other Americans. Studio audience members could be chosen (by other audience members) to be prepared by celebrity chefs on television to get the ball rolling.

Celebrities should be encouraged to lead by example. Members of The Today Show, for example, could encourage other Americans to eat other Americans by eating Al Roker, but only after reversing his gastric bypass surgery he had in March of 2002. They might spend weeks fattening him up to pre-2002 levels. Once a week they could weigh him on a scale and chart his progress and when he returned to his fighting weight of 320 pounds, they could ritualistically sacrifice him (for the betterment of the country) and eat him, after having him prepared by special guest, the adorable Rachael Ray.

Sports Events to Promote the Plan:

Sports teams who lose can be consumed by crowds after the sporting event ends. The Detroit Lions would be consumed on general principle. The losers of the Superbowl could be made into a giant plate of nachos. Unfortunately, due to steroid use, baseball players are not safe for consumption. Their tax rates should be increased dramatically to compensate for this unfair advantage.

The Housing Market:

One drawback to this plan would be even more empty houses on the market, which would lower housing prices even further. That could be alleviated by bulldozing those homes (once the occupants have been eaten) and selling the plot of land to the people in the next occupied house, thus adding to green space overall, reducing the number of houses on the market, and providing a buffer zone between neighbors, who will now be terrified that their neighbors are going to come over and eat them.

The homes occupied by the non-eaten will now have huge plots of land to use for gardens, solar panels, and parks (or to erect razor-wire fences to keep out the neighbors, who are trying to eat them).

The Downside:

There is a downside to this plan. You may be eaten. If you are chosen to be eaten, please don't put up a fight. You are doing your country a big favor by going down without a fuss. We've got you outnumbered anyway, and you know you'd eat us if it was the other way around. Sorry.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

honky tonk badonkadonk

So I'm taking Deb's van to gas it up, and what comes on the Radio? Trace Adkins' "Honkey Tonk Badonkadonk." I kid you not. Why does this exist? Why, if this exists, does the very fabric of the universe not slice open revealing the howling void beyond and suck this pathetic planet and all of the pathetic primates known as "humanity" with it? "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk?" Really? That is so fractally wrong, I don't even know where to begin.

Don't get me wrong, I don't blame Trace Adkins. He is a performer, and he's giving the people what they want. The problem is: people want this crap.

He gets paid MONEY to write (or at least sing) the following, and I quote:
It's so hard not to stare
At that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin' perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin' on
Like Donkey Kong
Got it goin' on "Like Donkey Kong"? Really? Oh my Sweet Baby Jesus Christ, how does this exist? I mean, how come they don't write songs like they used to? As in:
I like big butts and I can not lie
You other brothers can't deny
That when a girl walks in with an itty bitty waist
And a round thing in your face
You get sprung
Wanna pull up tough
Cuz you notice that butt was stuffed
See? Now that's poetry. What was Sir Mix-A-Lot trying to tell us here? He was talking about Truth. He is talking about his respect for women. He is declaring his love of big butts.

I think Trace Adkins can learn a few things from Sir Mix-A-Lot. Where is the poetry? Where is the creativity? What is this world coming to?

If this is what passes as "country" music, I'm sure Merle Haggard is rolling in his grave. What's that? Merle Haggard isn't dead yet? Well then I'm sure Merle Haggard, if he hears this abomination, this "New Country", he will strangle himself just so he can be buried and thus twirl around in his grave like a lathe set on high.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

On Canceling My WoW Account At 3 Something in The Morning

I woke up at three this morning thinking about one thing. Not the economic catastro-fnck in which we're all about to wallow. Not the book I'm supposed to be writing. No. I woke up thinking about how I was going to kill Baron Rivendare in Stratholme. When you wake up at three in the morning, and the first thing you think about is a role-playing game, even one as awesome as World of Warcraft, it's time to disable the account. (For awhile)

At the age of forty-two(1) I should be doing something besides slaying imaginary monsters, shouldn't I? Writing! Writing! I tell myself. The only overhead involved in writing is time, paper, and thought. Those come pretty cheap, even these days, yet I can't bring myself to commit to writing anything "kick-ass". I can't commit to jack-squat. It is this intrinsic laziness on my part, this absolute procrastination, this ridonkulous nerdic half-assedness that keeps you, dear reader, denied the pure genius that I, Dan Manning, might excrete from my brain-wrinkles if only motivated to do so.

That is the reason that I, Dan Manning, have cancelled my World of Warcraft subscription. The world needs greatness right now. This week, Barack Obama hit his head on the side of an airplane while waving to the press. I've cancelled the President's Weekly Radio Address from my iTunes, and I never actually listened to any. It's been what? three weeks since he took office? Turns out he is not the Messiah; he's just another guy in a suit.

The world needs a hero, and I, being the narcissist that I am, have come to the conclusion that out of the six-billion people(2) on this earth , I am the hero that this great nation, nay, the undeserving world itself, needs.

How many of us heroes have been distracted by Bread and Circuses? How many of us have given up reading only to watch another episode of "Mythbusters"? (Or "Destroyed in Seconds", "Southpark", or "Spongebob Squarepants") How many of us geniuses, thinkers, philosophers and scientists have watched one too many episodes of (INSERT FAVORITE TELIVISION SHOW HERE). Those half-hours can't be retrieved. That time is truly wasted. Our journey between cradle to grave is finite. Time does not wait for the dreamer, the idle, or the American Idol voter. Time does not give the Beanie-Babies collector a second chance. Those focused on hate, triviality, NASCAR, "This American Life" or Facebook have chosen to invest that time, that precious, unique, non-refundable block of time without reflecting on what they have lost: time.

What am I trying to say here? Oh yes. My World of Warcraft subscription. It drops off at 4:09 PM Thursday. Mark that down folks, that is the day the world gains a new Shakespeare. That is the moment a genius will embark on a story so heartbreaking, so inspired and true, so infused with the very universal essence of life itself, that all wars, hatred, prejudice, racism, strife and awkward silence will be lifted from this weary world.

Or I'll watch more television. Not sure which.
(1)42 being the answer to the question of Life, the Universe, and Everything according to Deep Thought. It only took the supercomputer, created by the hyperintelligent pan-dimentional beings, 1.5 million years to figure out

(2)many of them more educated; many of them more motivated, determined, and focused; some of them better looking; many with a lower BMI; many who rely less on Wikipedia and spell check; many with lower voices, less wrinkles, better haircuts; many more modest, talented, and loving; many more deserving; more caring and empathetic

Sunday, February 08, 2009

movie review: Coraline

Coraline 2009 * * * * Completely entertaining. Drops you into a whole 'nuther world. Great characters and plot. ~ February 08, 2009

all my reviews are here:

Thursday, February 05, 2009

made-up sexual positions

These sexual positions don't exist (at least I don't think they do) but they should:

1. The Subprime Slider
2. The Moral Hazard
3. The Reverse Berlin Mandate
4. Kyoto Protocol
5. The Butros Gali Swap
6. The One-Handed Sushi Hold
7. The Executive Washroom
8. The Malkovich Hum
9. Sustained Phillis Diller Pose
10. The Gliding Diphthong
11. Engine Braking

Friday, January 30, 2009

two more book reviews

#58 Indignation Philip Roth 2008 * * * * * Oh, so this is how a novel should be written. Fantastic ~ January 30, 2009
#59 Exit Ghost Philip Roth 2007 * * * * * Couldn't stop reading it. ~ January 30, 2009

see all the reviews here:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

#97 the internet song I wrote while resetting my router this morning.

Internet, Internet
My dog ate the Internet!
I just love the Internet
It's the place for you and me!

Internet, Internet
Let's all go to the Internet!
My dog broke the Internet!
It's the place for you and me!

Internet, Internet
Let's all go to the Internet!
My dog loves the Internet!
It's the place for you and me!

Internet, Internet
It's big and wide and Internet
I just saw the Internet
It's the place for you and me!

(My dog did not actually break the Internets)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ten People You May Have Forgotten Ever Existed:

1. Phyllis Diller b. 1917
2. Jerry Van Dyke, Dick Van Dyke's less famous brother
3. Peter Scolari, the guy on Bosom Buddies that wasn't Tom Hanks.
4. Pat Harrington, "Schneider" from the sitcom One Day at A Time
5. Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th US President
6. Sara Jane Moore, the 2nd woman to attempt to assassinate Gerald Ford
7. Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, The Iraqi Information Minister.
8. "Rhoda".
9. Ronald M. Popeil (Popeil Pocket Fisherman)
10. Carrot Top (prop comedian)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

axle on one side, wreck on the other

On the way downtown there was an accident. There was a truck axle on the right hand side of the highway, and a wreck on the left had side about a city block down the road. A truck pulling a trailer had flipped on its side.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Why is the theme from "Rockford Files" stuck in my head?

The theme from "The Rockford Files" is inexplicably in my head this morning, and I can't get it out. I haven't seen that show since it was on (The Seventies) and I never actually watched that show, I would always change channels when it was on. In fact, I don't recall every actually watching the show, but I must have because not only was the tune in my head, I knew what show it belonged to. The brain: just weird.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Annus horribilis

it is Latin for "Horrible Year".

About Me

My photo
I am the author of 5 books: Android Down, Firewood for Cannibals, The Cubicles of Madness, Robot Stories, and most recently, Various Meats and Cheeses. I live and write in Michigan. My website is at