Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let There Be Light!

December 22nd! For six months I wait for this blasted day, and finally it has arrived.

For every June 21st, I move into a depressed state, becoming increasingly despondent and all around grumpy. The death march is on and it lasts for half a year.

But alas, things are bright and shiny this fine day! For today is the Winter Solstice! No, it's not a holiday worthy of its own cards, but nonetheless it is a terrific milestone.

Up here in Minnesota, our sunlight is incredibly scarce these winter months. In fact, my estimations have the sun now rising at noon and setting by 12:45pm. In short, it's awful. You go to work in the dark, you drive home in the dark, and you sleep in the dark. Ok, that last one is alright, but the other two are depressing.

Today marks a fresh start. Today the sun rays last a little longer, and my depressions vanishes away one minute a day (or whatever the heck it is). Before long, we'll resemble a normal city with average amounts of sunlight. The victory parade is on!

Photo from parowangap.org

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Over

Sadly, it's over. The race that was over before it ever really began.

And this is why I stick to picking fantasy sports superstars rather than presidential candidates.

P.S. With the cancellation of the campaign, I will not be sending out Tornado Tom Tancredo T-shirts as previously promised. Please, try - I beg you try - to go about your lives today.

Photo from Clarkpresents.blogspot

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome Christmas card readers!

With the recent mailing out of the Wolf Christmas card, I expect a few new readers to Wolfden V. I managed to talk my way into a cheap plug in the last line of this year's letter, which should expose this humble blog to at least four new people. And to you, I say welcome.

Allow me to give you a little tour of the site. No doubt you are overwhelmed by the tremendous amount of information and good humor present. I wish to introduce you to the topics covered and the overall composition of Wolfden V that make it a leading blog for readers who know me, have free time, and click over once a week or so.

You'll notice a familiar trend with the posts in which I start with a picture that sets the tone for the rest of the piece. In this case, I selected a comical photo of a little girl sitting on the lap of Santa Claus. In the past, this photo has included ESPN anchor Stuart Scott, Chicago Cubs' pitcher Carlos Zambrano, and photos everyone wishes were splashed across the front page of CNN.com of themselves.

The text of my pieces tend to vary. I enjoy writing about news stories such as the never ending Don Imus scandal, Regis Philbin's heart surgery recovery, Shia LaBeouf trashing a Chicago Walgreens, and Pope Benedict issuing the 10 Commandments of Driving.

Other times I relate personal stories such as inconsiderate neighbors, Minnesota booger pickers, my inability to change a tire, and interactions with local area businesses.

Long time readers know that my favorite topic to write about is my beloved game show The Price Is Right. I have taught readers tricks on how to win. I have also attempted a few blow-by-blow accounts such as when I did a live blogging of one of Bob Barker's last shows and a live blogging of Drew Carey's first ever Price Is Right programs.

What would a personalized blog be without political commentary? I have offered equal time to key candidates investigating an Independent Party dark horse, aviation adverse Democratic Presidential hopefuls, and the next President of The United States of America.

The most common topic, though, is the saga of the worst car ever constructed: my Saturn. I have outlined my car's crumminess on several occasions, namely here, here, here, and here.

Occasionally I touch on serious topics like Chris Benoit's murder-suicide and the I-35W bridge collapse.

On the right side of the blog, you'll find some of my particular favorite websites. They are a hodgepodge of friends' blogs, sports news, and satirical web sites. All of them are worth a click, but if I had to pick one, I'd pick the one I wrote a guest piece for. Cheap plug!

I used to post 5 days a week taking the weekend off, but as I have had my free time eaten up by my return to school, posts are now less frequent. I try to get 1 or 2 in a week, but I'm fairly inconsistent. This forum is one I use at my leisure for normally sarcastic commentary on whatever is on my mind. I hope that you'll stop by often and offer comments as you are moved.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

$aturn Update

Last week, I took my much maligned vehicle into the shop for what I completely expected to be another expensive oil change. Stunned, I was in and out in under 30 minutes, and a bill under $25.00. I did not report on this good fortune here at Wolfden V because I knew it was too good to be true. And yes, it was.

Just one week after said oil change, I was whipping around town when the dreaded and incredibly vague "service engine soon" light flickered on. Desperately hoping it would go away, I ignored it for 2 days but alas it still mocked me. Today, on one of those not at all helpful midweek days off I get for working retail, I returned the car to the shop.

My EGR valve was in need of replacement and a Wynn Fuel Induction Power Pack also was required to fix the problem. The Power Pack, in addition to making my car run better, also helps me to fight crime. So that's something.

Grand Total: $588.95.

Tacking this onto the $2o or so bucks of the oil change from last week, and we do have another plus $600 visit to the car shop. $aturn! $aturn! $aturn!

Photo from 2carpros.com

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Things to collect: stamps, baseball cards, coins...and toothpick holders?

Walgreens, Walgreens, Walgreens. We attract such a diverse group of people, and spending a tremendous amount of time in the store during the holiday rush, I run into a great many of them. One individual stood out this past week, introducing me to an entirely new world of collectibles.

I was rushing around the store this past Saturday when a little old lady cornered me with coupon in hand. The scene was no different than what I interact with a hundred times a week. The woman wanted to know where these holiday toothpick holders were that were featured on page 18 for the unbelievable price of 39 cents. Unfortunately, the rest of Golden Valley had already jumped on this incredible deal, leaving us out and the woman out of luck.

The customer was incredibly disappointed. Seeing the disproportionate amount of weight people place on odd items, I cannot say that I was altogether surprised. But there was something about this woman that moved me to go a little extra for her. I offered to call a neighboring store to see if they still had any of these elusive toothpick holders. She perked up and eagerly jumped at my suggestion.

Having never used or even seen a toothpick holder used before, I was doing the mental gymnastics trying to wrap my head around this situation where a little old lady wanted a Santa Claus toothpick holder so badly she would be willing to travel for it, which given her current state, was going to be of some effort.

Perhaps sensing my confusion over the fuss for this item, she began explaining its value to her. She collected toothpick holders. I was amazed that there was even such an item, let alone people who collected them. I, in other words, said as much to the lady. She replied with a very serious tone that she was a member of the National Toothpick Collectors Society. I was befuddled.

Upon returning home, I looked up the National Toothpick Holder Collectors Society (NTHCS) and sure enough, there is a group of people that do in fact collect toothpick holders. Their website reveals that they have been in existence since 1973 boasting 700 members. They even have a national convention:

The 32nd Annual Convention will be held in Chattanooga, TN on August 15 - 19, 2007. Convention events include educational seminars, an all-toothpicks auction, local attractions, an ID Clinic, competitive displays prepared by members, and we will enjoy a dinner cruise aboard the Southern Belle.

I am curious as to what educational seminars entail, as a toothpick holder strikes me as a fairly straight forward device. An ID Clinic? If nothing else, I'm sure the dinner cruise was something.

Not just anyone can join the NHTCS, though. They have a dues system with admission to the elite club priced at $20 for an individual or $25 for a couple. The payment does entitle you to 10 issues of their newsletter, which probably contain pictures of my dear Walgreens' customer. Admission to the club does open up the locked portion of the website labeled NTCHS Members Only. Why do hackers waste their time with Microsoft? Someone get into this link and let us know what's going on behind closed doors with this secret society.

Photo from All Things Ukranian

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tom Tancredo for President!

I am late, but nonetheless here I am. I have jumped aboard the Tom Tancredo for President bandwagon! Seriously, I have.

So who is this fine fellow? How have I suddenly thrown my not-at-all meaningful endorsement his way? Read on.

My father who rarely sends e-mail forwards my way because he knows my general disdain for them, decided that there was one worth my time. WQAD, the Quad Cities' trusted news source, has thrown together a little election quiz in which the test taker answers a series of questions from your personal stance on Iraq, abortion, immigration, and taxes among others. You also weigh your opinion on the particular category as "not important" to "very important." Once done, the quiz matches you with the Presidential candidate that best matches your views.

I most closely matched Cookie Monster, world famous blue muppet. Echoing his stance on cookie consumption and googly eyes, it only made sense that I'd vote for this Sesame Street staple.

Ok, so it didn't point me in that direction. Rather, it said I most closely resemble the political stance of the venerable Tom Tancredo. Never heard of Tom? Neither had I. Here's the skinny on the next President of Your United States.

Excerpts from his "about me" section on his website:

Tom Tancredo is a lifelong conservative with nearly a decade of experience in the U.S. Congress.

Tom's resume matches approximately half of the US House of Representatives at this point.

The Washington Post calls him a “firebrand” on illegal immigration.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or something that should involve additional extinguishers around the house.

David Yepsen, Dean of Iowa’s political correspondents, writes in the Daily Register that Tancredo is “onto something…

Damn right! My candidate is "onto something." And that's from the venerable David Yepsen. I once roomed with a guy named Yep, but not Yepsen. I wonder if he likes war movies and Ronald Regan?

The website lists opportunities to meet Tom Tancredo, something I would advise everyone to do. The next (and only) opportunity according to the calendar is November 30, 2007:

Tom will attend a house party at the home of Al and Susan Fulchino 178 Pine Hill Rd., Hollis, NH

So while other candidates are wasting time at these CNN YouTube debates, Tom Tancredo enjoyed Mrs. Susan Fulchino's beef brisket last Friday night at a quiet card party. Hey, I like euchre, no wonder this guy is the candidate for me.

Perhaps the most important link here was your opportunity to broadcast your support of this political tornado: Tom Tancredo (I'm trademarking "Tornado Tom Tancredo" and expect all proceeds to come my way). I've ordered 23 of the following t-shirts for all my family and friends this year as my Christmas present. Get them while they are hot.


Photos from MSNBC and TeamTancredo.org

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Helio Castroneves: awesome dancer - also won some car races

I don't pretend to like or even understand the phenomenon that is Dancing with the Stars, but the success of the program is undeniable. The show is constantly rated as the most watched on television, catapulting several C-list stars into B-list material. I also will not deny that I have seen a significant portion of this season's kicking and spinning as Becky has been swept up in this phenomenon. Even her grandmother was livid when Mario Lopez was denied the title several months back.

Some general observations watching last night's mega epic 120 minute show that took 30 seconds to announce the winner.

-Helio Castroneves ended up winning the competition, wearing a banana jump suit and sequins. My personal favorite moment of the program was an interview with Helio's sister who asked him if he was going to be ok wearing sequins. He said yes to which his sister then explained what they were. He then groaned.

-Helio also happens to have won racing's most prestigious car race, the Indianapolis 500, twice. With the momentum of Dancing with the Stars, I wonder how many people will remember him for his auto racing achievements or for his quick feet. Does anyone remember Emmitt Smith the all time great running back? Dancer?

-My second favorite moment of the show came after the announcement of Helio's victory, someone handed him a half gallon of milk. It was lost on Becky and probably millions of viewers, but the traditional chugging of milk accompanies a successful Indianapolis 500 win. I was hoping he was going to drink some, making a huge mess over everyone, but it was not to be.

-Dancing's favorite word? Steeeeeeeeeetch. As mentioned earlier, the show was 2 hours long with the only meaningful moment occurring in the final moments with a simple reading of the winner's name. The other contestants were asked no fewer than 2,492 times, "What does it mean to have participated in the competition?" and the final two were asked "What would it mean to win?" in some variety 282 times. I understand the effort and talent involved here, but people we are talking about dancing once a week.

-My favorite competitor was eliminated in week three, which was crap. Former picks Jerry Springer and Jon Ratzenberger did better than Wayne Newton this year. How do you not vote for Wayne Newton. The man is a legend and showed up on Price is Right the other day.

-Boxer Floyd Mayweather was also eliminated early on despite a vertical leap that would make Superman jealous. He could not, however, perform a final dance because of "intense" training for an upcoming boxing match. If he can't skip around the floor for 90 seconds, I don't like his chances in this future contest. I'm putting 50 bucks on the other guy.

-I generally enjoy awkward moments, particularly ones that are televised live, but when soap actor Cameron Mathison removed his shirt at the request of the female co-host, the tension between children appropriate television and the co-host who just had a baby with her husband in the audience was even a little too weird for me.

-I looked up how to spell judge Carrie Ann Inaba's name because everything after Carrie sounds like a garbled mess every broadcast. While looking this up I learned that she speaks fluent Japanese and was a 80s Japanese pop singer. Less interesting will be her new flop program in the Spring.

Photo from Indystar.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

AP Story Writing

Despite my degree in communication, I excelled in oral versions of my area of expertise and not the written word. However, I consider myself an amateur writer and rabid reader, which in turn caused me to scratch my head this morning. While reading about Cedric Benson's season-ending (and WhoWantsToSexMbaye crippling) injury, the lead started one place and the story went another.

Exhibit A!
The headline:
Benson to have season-ending leg surgery

Exhibit B!
The lead:
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Cedric Benson's season is over.

Exhibit C!
The closing paragraph:
In just his second NFL season, Hester broke a club record he shared with Gale Sayers for kick return touchdowns (eight) with his ninth and 10th (six on punts, four on kickoffs). Those numbers don't include a missed field goal he returned 108 yards last season against the Giants or his return of the Super Bowl's opening kickoff for a TD against the Colts.

What have I learned? Devin Hester is the new starting running back for the Chicago Bears.

Photo from BrianBehrend.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Immaculate Deflection





Jon Clayton has dubbed the kick the immaculate deflection, and I'm willing to run with that being I love Jon Clayton and all. If this were a playoff contest and not some irrelevant game between two middling AFC Central opponents, this would be legendary. I'm doing my best to jam the sequence and the kick into everyone's mind forever. Hey, we Cleveland fans don't have much to cheer about so a one and a gazillion field goal is worth a blog post.

The most bizarre part of the sequence was, as it happened live, CBS Minnesota kept the camera in the studio. Most likely this was a result of some contractual situation where CBS could only air one game in the market (Minnesota-Oakland having just wrapped up), but the result was one of the most bizarre 5 minutes of NFL studio coverage ever. James Brown, Bill Cowher, and Boomer Eiason basically watched the game live, tripping over one another to yell what just happened while viewers watched these guys stare off camera. After the play ended, CBS could air the highlight and viewers would see what the studio hosts interrupted one another in an attempt to describe. I'm inviting CBS cameras to film me watching the Browns next week, and I will give non-stop coverage.

Credit should be give to two people. Bill Cowher was the first in the studio to suggest the field goal was indeed good. After a replay, he adamantly defended Cleveland's honor saying the game was not over. Most impressive however was Becky upon seeing it just once at real time speed and putting up Christmas garland, argued that the ball hit the support beam. She had it pegged before anyone on the broadcast and providing Christmas cheer to boot. Where was I? Balled up on the floor crying. I take my losses like a man.

Photos from Yahoo Sports and ESPN

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spend money here.


As a retailer myself, I tend to pay closer attention than the average shopper when visiting area merchants. I see displays, prices, and traffic flow patterns that the normal Saturday afternoon shopper tends to disregard as insignificant. These shoppers find varying aspects of the shopping experience important, but I think we can all agree that the (dreaded?) interaction with the sales staffer offers the most unique aspect of the trip. I invite you to accompany me back in time and relive these three recent shopping experiences.

Trip #1: Best Buy

Perhaps the greatest non-drug store retailer ever, just opened up a brand new store directly across the street from the old townhouse. Having watched the bulldozers clear the forest, the cement trucks lay the foundation, and the lights go on, I was eager to step foot in the new Best Buy. This past Friday it had its grand opening at 10am, and I was inside by 10:05am.

Clearly, the sales team had been instructed to be on their best behavior. Every blue shirt was smiling and happy. The whole team wanted to introduce themselves with a handshake and name presentation. I could care less about Dave in computers, and I took to his inviting me over for dinner as unnecessary (didn't really happen). I was grabbed by no fewer than 5 employees, which while fine and dandy in the customer service department also facilitated the spread of millions of germs after each hand touchage.

Having finally broken away from the pack, I settled into the CD section browsing titles, delightfully finding that the new Goo Goo Dolls greatest hits album includes a reworked version of "Name." Out of nowhere, another blue shirt spots me, and before I knew it, I was making the acquaintance of Christina.

Christina looked incredibly timid. Perhaps it was my physically intimidating presence or perhaps her first 15 minutes of work ever were a little overwhelming. I foolishly felt pity for Christina as she tried some irrelevant small talk. 10 minutes later, I knew that she was a student at St. Thomas, had trained for 5 weeks at other stores for this position, and had a six year old sister (this time, all of this is true). Furthermore, she was so nervous for the opening that she told her boss that she likened it to a first date with butterflies in her stomach. I can't say that I've ever equating Walgreens to dating, but to each their own.

Regardless, I did feel as if I should do my best to be a "good customer" to keep her at ease as after a couple steps backwards, realized I shouldn't just give Christina the brush. She took the opportunity to turn the conversation toward cell phones. I told her that I hated cell phones with a passion and that I only carried one for necessity's sake. Christina promptly counter balanced the universe by professing her undying love for the cell phone, using it to find McDonalds when hungry and wishing she could use it for blow drying her hair if it were only possible. If only.

Before I knew it I was seeing if I qualified for a free cell phone upgrade. I didn't need one or want one, but checking to see if I could get one seemed to be the best conclusion to the whole interaction as Christina could type me through the system as her first ever customer, and the ensuing natural closure would provide me an escape route. Naturally, I did not qualify for the upgrade for a variety of reasons not the least of which being that Verizon and I are mortal enemies who will day fight to the death. Christina, while disappointed, was not thwarted. Those five weeks of training kicked in, and she asked if she could call me when I became available for the upgrade. However, she asked this in such a leading way where the question might as well have been, "Do you think starving, malnourished babies should be saved from the jaws of anguishing, painful death?" To which, I profoundly answered, "Sure."

Christina thanked me for my time, no doubt with the self esteem boost that came with roping in her first ever customer. She assured me that she would call me when it was cell phone upgrade time. When my phone rings with a mysterious number in November 2008, I will once again converse with Christina, and we shall chat about who knows what.

Trip #2: Coach

Becky and I decided to eat at The Macaroni Grill at a local mall. I happen to like this arrangement as there is always a wait, and the mall provides obvious distraction during this down time. Becky loves it because it's an excuse to walk through the world's most over-priced collection of handbags with gaudy "C" logos all over them.

As such, we walked down the stairs and into the Coach store. Coach tends to have about a 2:1 ratio of employees to people actually shopping in the store. I'm fairly confident that the moment someone crosses the threshold into the store, the eight of them play rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to make contact.

Today's winner was Marissa. Marissa kindly inquired if there was anything she could help us find. Becky dropping as much of a hint for me as Marissa, replied, "We're just browsing for ideas."

Marissa offered this gem, "Oh! I know! There's like a million things in here to shop for!"

With a giggle, Marissa vanished, as did 100 of my brain cells. Er, like a million brain cells.

An unidentified employee approached Becky and I approximately 90 seconds later (the maximum amount of time one can shop in Coach without employee interaction) on the other side of the store. Again, Becky declined assistance. This time, the employee decided to interact with me (it must be my always friendly demeanor) when she said, "Well, if there's anything I can do, just let me know. And fortunately, we do have very comfortable sofas!" To which she vaguely pointed at a seating arrangement before prancing back to the desk.

Indeed, I'm sure there are comfortable sofas, but being a well versed shopping companion, know that my opinion is critical on a slew of items that will never be purchased but need confirmation of their cuteness. Sitting down merely delays the process, potentially costing us our place in the Macaroni Grill line. Affirming the aforementioned cuteness of no fewer than six Coach items, we concluded our visit and were sent off with a wave and a good night from Marissa, the unidentified Coach employee, and the legion waiting to serve us behind the desk.

Trip #3: Macaroni Grill

Here we meet Garry, yes spelled with two R's. I know this because he did my favorite thing at any restaurant (outside of bringing the food) when he did that thing where the Macaroni Grill wait staff write their names upside down. Tremendous talent. I couldn't do it and am always fascinated how they manage to do this while carrying six hot plates on a tray with their other hand. I increase my tip for such marvels.

Now Garry I really liked. Why you ask? What sets him apart from Christina and Marissa? Simply: I have no stories. The man efficiently brought us our food and check without pointless conversation. It, much like the name writing, was fantastic. I like Garry.

Photo from Customers Rock!

Monday, November 12, 2007

What should you know about on-line schooling?

1. Classes are short and intense. The University of Phoenix runs with one class at a time, lasting for six weeks. As such, the one class requires a tremendous amount of work to be completed in a short amount of time. The good news is that when your professor smells like a turd and your classmates display the aptitude of an ape, you are but five short weeks away from a start over.

2. Participation is paramount. Participation and attendance run hand-in-hand. While you are never required to be on-line at a specific time, you will be required to post a set number of significant message four different days of the week. This participation does not include team related exercises (more later), questions you may have for the professor, or general conversation. My last class required a minimum of two posts of 200 or more words four days a week, in addition to answers for professor-posted discussion questions, which came three times per week. At minimum, your participation for this class required 2,200 words per week in message board posts.

3. There is writing and more writing and more writing and more writing and you get the damn point. There are no tests or quizzes. The sole manner in which professors evaluate your comprehension of class information comes through essays and research papers. You will have a paper due every week, usually on Monday, which is the end of the University of Phoenix school week. The formula I have experienced thus far involves wimpy papers due on weeks 1 and 4, group papers due weeks 2 and 5, and lengthy research papers due 3 and 6. The wimpy papers average around four pages, the team papers amount to 15 pages long, and the individual papers range from 15-25. Nothing is particularly difficult, but your fingers will simply tire from pressing buttons.

4. The professors are in the same time crunched boat that the students are. The class, generally comprised of about 20 students, have a variety of reasons for enrolling at the University of Phoenix, but most share a common full-time work schedule. As such, the flexible hours of an on-line university appeal to them, all of which may sound like common sense. What I did not realize heading into this experience is that the professors share the same hectic crazy schedules, as they too are full-time employees in the real world. These are not professors sitting in a classroom teaching University of Phoenix classes full-time, but rather professionals doing this on the side. Pros and cons certainly abound here with the obvious negative that some professors, similar to students, do not spend the appropriate amount of time and effort on the class for the full six weeks.

5. The counselors rock. To date, I have been more impressed with the counselors than any other facet of the University of Phoenix . I have an enrollment counselor, an academic advisor, and a financial guru. Tara and Heather – we are totally on a first name basis – call just check in and make sure all is going well from time to time. When I was considering dropping a class (more on that later) they showed immediate concern and returned phone calls at the drop of a hat. They have been supportive and full of information throughout my experience.

6. Group work accounts for a disproportionate of time and stress. Yes, there is group work. To give an example of a recent group assignment, individuals were asked to research two real world companies and then compare and contrast their plight to the one in the fictitious scenario the professor presents. The team submits these individual writings and then draws conclusions and compiles a unified paper. The problem occurs when not all team members submit their portions on time (regularly), misinterpret the assignment (occasionally), or have an at home crisis preventing them from writing (far too often). Someone has to be in charge of bringing all the individual parts together (generally me), and everyone proofreads and edits (again usually just me). Trying to get anywhere from 2 to 7 other people on board with the same schedule and effort causes me to scream frequently at my laptop.

7, The writing abilities vary. Tremendously. A sample submission in a group paper that was submitted to the team as a final version:

Atlanta Falcons, home of many fans in the state of Georgia hoping to see their franchise team achieve to a world title. In May of 2007, a scandal rose from the grave from a player that would endanger the team and it’s publicity. Michael Vick, a well talented quarterback that many youth idols followed in his footsteps. After the agitations brought against him about dog fighting and pleaded guilty for his crimes, Atlanta Falcons suffered major amount of millions from it’s product and tickets. NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue encourage many fans to stay loyal to their home team, including Falcons team owner Arthur Blank insisted fans not to betray the team because of one player.

This horseshit caused me to immediately contact my professor and counselors to inquire as to how to drop a class. My mother says that her grade-school special needs students write better than this. To date, this group paper is the worst document I have ever turned in with my name attached. This says nothing of the individual who had never written a research paper and consequently did not know how to cite within a paper. Or the other individual in the group who cited himself as a source, complete with a place in the references page. Brilliant.

8. Message board experience helps. I suggest visiting the Valpo sports message board before joining the University of Phoenix . This experience will better prepare you for message threads, crazy tangents, and the inexplicable world of emoticons. I once received 17 smiley faces in a 30 page paper, which translated to a 96%. With the classroom reminiscent of the old Valpo Voy Board, I was well prepared for the mayhem that ensued.

9. APA guidelines. All my life, I have written using MLA rules. The University of Phoenix believes in APA guidelines, which does make for easier reference pages at the end of your research papers. However, it took me close to two months to get used to typing with only one space after the period. Now, I don’t know that I could ever go back.

10. Dust off AOL Instant Messenger, you are going to need it. While in college, AOL Instant Messenger was a must have. After graduating, I rarely use the device as I have neither the time to use it nor the drive to keep up with people (sorry everyone, e-mails are simply more timely). However, when writing lengthy papers, brief distractions are a must, and AOL IM provides them in wondrous form. People I haven’t talked to in years remain on the list, and I now can call Brad Spata’s cell phone should I have the urge. Also, writing guest pieces for blogs can help break up monotony, which is all fine and good unless the paper is due the next day, which just so happens to be a 10 hour work day. Crap, I have to go finish my gap analysis for the fictional Riordan Manufacturing company, which has a deficient HR department and donut hungry CFO.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Honest mistake: All Iowa looks the same to me too

Which way, Barack?

Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, whatever. Could you really tell the difference between the two?

One person who cannot is the pilot flying Barack Obama all over the place.

Ends up that Obama was supposed to be in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for some hoopla of some sort, but the plane landed 100 miles away in Des Moines, Iowa. I don't know how this happens. It's not like they made a wrong turn on Cloud Dr. and veered onto the one-way, traffic plagued Starry St. I get the feeling that should Obama win the Presidency, there's one individual on his campaign staff who should not get promoted to Air Force One pilot.

While this oops is fun enough, the reaction of those in Cedar Rapids eagerly awaiting the belated guest of honor was worthy of note.

"While waiting, the crowd took to dancing and chanting."

Hey, hang with the Obama crowd and it's a damn good time. A little chicken dance mixed in with Daryl Strawberry-esque taunting of competitor Hillllllllllllllllllllllary is one way to spend an evening in Iowa.

Photo from The Moderate Voice

Sunday, November 4, 2007

He may save the world from robot cars, but don't be bringing that shit in here

A delightfully fun story emerging from the Chicago land area has Shia LaBeouf arrested after appearing intoxicated during a late night stop inside a Walgreens drug store.

The arrest occurred at 2:30am Sunday morning and centered around his anger over his coupons from the previous week expiring; thereby rendering his 39 cent coupon for Mandarin Oranges useless and requiring a full payment of 99 cents. Understandably, the utter disappointment caused him to drink and get into it with the overnight crew who restrained him using overstock crutches and subduing him with Tylenol PM. The Drew-equivalent (overworked, tired, frustrated 20 something in a gray smock) called police who noticed a resilient LaBeouf reaching for his whip - a prop from LaBeouf's upcoming Indiana Jones film. He donned a hat from the clearance bin and began running up and down aisle 8 uttering profanities and speaking in pig Latin. The photo clerk distracted LaBeouf with the flash of a disposable camera before the Drew-equivalent threw his box cutter at the aisle marker above aisle 8, causing it to crash down on the Transformers' star's head. As the police rushed in, the assistant manager could be heard yelling a slew of famous, butchered movie lines such as "Yippee-ki-yay, make my day, hasta la vista, baby!"

Well, now you know what I fantasize about when working overnight shifts to set the Christmas aisle.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Important! 4 Christmas rules to follow.

Work. I do a lot of it, and I write about it rarely. This stems from not wanting to relive it and keeping Wolfden V a happy place.

With that said, it's time I give four ground rules for the dates of October 31st-November 3rd. Maybe I'm feisty from consecutive 3am-2pm shifts (and going back tonight at 10pm for an undetermined amount of time) or maybe I feel an urge to speak the truth. Regardless, these are actual, frequently repeated examples that occur during this time of the year. Over four years, I think it's time to hammer home some points.

1.) Thou shall not return Halloween costumes after Halloween.

Last year, I had a woman attempt to return a used costume two weeks after the holiday. This year, it was only one day after, but c'mon. I am probably the easiest guy to take a return to in my entire company, but this is one where I will not budge.

2.) After Halloween concludes, Walgreens is under no obligation to continue to stock Halloween candy.

I sort this one under common sense too, but I have had customer after customer disgustedly march out of the seasonal aisle after seeing all red and green and no orange and black. Sure, there are clearance deals to be had after the holiday, and I'm glad that these people help clean out inventory. However, there seems to be a moral expectation that we have clearance candy for a set number of days after Halloween. From a business standpoint, customers must see that these 50 and 75% off sales are no longer profitable or beneficial to the company.

Actual conversation on November 1st:

Customer: "This is all you have left?"

Me: "Yep, it is."

Customer: "I can't believe it."

Me: "You should have seen it in here last night before trick-or-treating, it was crazy."

Customer: "WHAT!?! IT WENT ON SALE BEFORE TODAY?!!"

Me: "No, I meant that we had large sales the day of Halloween."

Customer (dejected): "Oh, I thought you'd have more. (With attitude) I guess not."

3.) Any derivation of "You are setting Christmas merchandise earlier than last year" is not true.

Unless you have one of those new, space-aged stores of which I'm told there are only four in the nation, Walgreens most likely only has one seasonal aisle. This aisle is used for Halloween merchandise each year and does not contain Christmas merchandise until after October 31st has concluded. With Halloween being a ridiculously profitable holiday, it makes no sense for us to fill it with Christmas merchandise prior to then. And we don't.

Perhaps a fun conversation starter with employees setting the aisle post-Halloween, customers enjoy blaming those of us setting the aisle for being "the retailers making it earlier and earlier every year." I would be happy to tip every one off that next year, on November 2nd, we will set the Christmas aisle again, and it will be the exact same time we did it this year and the year before.

4.) If thyself shops thy Christmas aisle, thou shall share in the blame.

Immediately after a customer disgustedly converses with this "earlier" setting of our Christmas items, customers absolutely have to see what it is that I am removing from a freshly opened box and placing on the shelf. This stuff sells here and now. If you are going to criticize retailers for setting the merchandise as you perceive to be too early of a date, it is hypocritical to rush off to the check out counter with a basket full of Christmas lights and red and green M+Ms.

I feel better and will set down from the podium. Thank you for your time.

Photo from Kansas State Collegian

Sunday, October 21, 2007

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The VUPD never stop protecting

It's no secret that I enjoy reading Valpo's student newspaper. The fun mix of questionable journalism coupled with biased writing and my fondness for the University that repeats the same stupid mistakes time after time after time make for an incredibly entertaining venture. Sometimes, though, the VUPD Beat provides the laughs. Here is my favorite one sentence at a time.

1.) Officers responded to the VUCA in reference to a male subject being disruptive.

So far so good. Nothing out of the ordinary. Your typical theater kid inciting violence.

2.) It was reported that the subject was performing magic tricks and talking about politics.

A deadly, deadly combination. What is in the big black hat? Poof! Mitt Romney!

3.) The non-campus subject was escorted out of the building.

The admissions office breathes a collective sigh of relief that they are not responsible for this individual.

4.) His father was located and took custody of him and his bike.

The perpetrator is revealed to be a six-year old child who bought a novelty magic set and was practicing reciting the fifty U.S. Presidents for kindergarten class. His papa picked him up and spanked him.

5.) He was given a trespass warning.

Don't bring dat in my house!

Photo from MagicBob2000.com

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Saturn owners unite!

The University of Kentucky is similar to Valpo in that basketball is king. There are other sports that take place, but really, they are filler for what happens in between Midnight Madness/Mayhem/Moonlighting/Misery and March Madness.

Well, it ends up that Kentucky might be good at one of those other sports and actually won a big football game. As tends to happen when this type of thing occurs, fires and riots ensued. Wait, this time just fires. Anyway, starts off that some co-eds decided to burn a couch, which while fun was considerably less fun than burning two couches. Duh.

Anyway, the furniture burn off spread and began engulfing a car parked not far away. The car was a Saturn. The owner returned and offered what unquestionably would have been my sentiments:

"If we had lost, I might be more upset," he said at the sight. "But it was a piece of junk anyway."



Photos from here and here

Monday, October 15, 2007

The new season of The Price Is Right

With tremendous excitement, I announce the new season of the Price Is Right. Change is upon us all as my beloved Bob Barker has moved on to greener pastures while Drew Carey is the new host. As if I could let this historic event pass without a live blogging. As if!

Oooh, jazzier theme, a new pastel color scheme, and fun camera angles.

Thomas Plow is the first name of this season. Congratulations, Thomas. You are the first contestant on the Price is Right!

New host Drew Carey emerges to a raucous crowd, some of whom are chanting "Drew! Drew! Drew!" I receive the same ovation upon walking into work every day.

Prize: Scuba Equipment
Contestant 1 1800 (2114! Winner)
Contestant 2 650
Contestant 3 1200
Contestant 4 1300

The winner, Bernard, becomes so excited about his game in which he has a chance to win a new jeep that he runs over a hugs it before he's won it. Bernard plays the money game and, listening to his wife's advice, emerges victorious. He again races over to the jeep and hugs the model. His wife is understandably less thrilled about the groping than the jeep.

Prize: Side-by-side refrigerator and freezer
Contestant 1 2000 (Winner! 2098!)
Contestant 2 2500
Contestant 3 25200, 2560
Contestant 4 2650

No, contestant 3 is not a typo. She originally bid "twenty-five two hundred." Bob Barker came out of the crowd to punch her in the face. She lost.

Winner Peggy is going to play Cliffhanger, which Peggy has annoyingly renamed "Yodel Man." Whatever. The prize is a trip to Bali. I'd throw the game, but Peggy seems excited about the trip. Peggy thought some utensils were $25 and not $20. Good start, nonetheless. Hand held Sudoku Game, she nails at $30 putting her in great shape heading into the final prize. She likewise guesses a phone as being $40. Peggy is off to Bali. Better her than me.

Prize: Exercise Bike - The JR model
Contestant 1 850
Contestant 2 800
Contestant 3 850 (the person two ahead of her bid 850), 895 (same genius as before with 25200, yet she wins with the prize worth 1000)
Contestant 4 700

The winner is Dora, or her name sounds like Dora. I can't read her name tag because her hair is too long, which in turn has deprived her brain of oxygen. Dora loves Drew and hugs him excessively before going into a failed hand spring in which she nearly broke her ankle. Dora will play In the Bag. Great game where retail shopping can result in $16,000. Her second selection (an easy step) is booed incessantly by the audience who are now coming to realize Dora is dumb. The audience saves her on two occasions when Drew allows her to change her original selections. The audience is responsible for Dora winning $16,000, and she collapses to the ground in an unnecessary display of drama. Perhaps it's apparent I do not care for Dumb Dora.

-Peggy spins: $1.00 on first try. $1,000! Yay Peggy!
-Dumb Dora spins 70 cents and 55 cents. Mercifully, she is eliminated.
-Bernard is unable to spin the wheel all the way around. He is a large, strong man and this is embarrassing. His second spin sucks, too, and a trap door swallows him up.
-Peggy's bonus spin nets her no extra money, but smiles for everyone.

Prize: Dinette Set
Contestant 1 999
Contestant 2 1100 (1,199! Winner!)
Contestant 3 1350
Contestant 4 1450

The winner is Thomas who will play Easy As 1, 2, 3. The game is in fact easy as the title describes. Thomas places three wooden blocks in front of three products in order from cheapest to most extensive. After prancing around the stage looking for audience approval, Thomas does in fact win.

Prize: BBQ Grill
Contestant 1 1250 (1500 Winner!
Contestant 2 1850
Contestant 3 1000
Contestant 4 1245 (Great bid, moron. Way to give yourself 5 numbers)

This contestant is a sorority girl proudly displaying her Greek letters. She has an opportunity to win a new car playing the One Away game. The audience is booing, and the audience has done well so far. Things look bad for sorority girl. In fact, she only has 2 of the 5 numbers correct upon first try. The audience applauds her second try. Things look good for sorority girl. She wins the car. Fantastic audience today.

Prize Hammock
Contestant 1 795 (Winner of some incredibly pricey hammocks, $811)
Contestant 2 1000
Contestant 3 1200
Contestant 4 1

Gregory is your winner and he's playing Barker's Bargain Bar. Ah, I remember Bob. What a guy. Anyway, Gregory must pick which of two prices features a more reduced price. Gregory takes his 50-50 shot and comes away with a computer and a wine cabinet, wrapping up a perfect show in which every contestant won their game.

Drew mentions an interesting fact in that this is the 77th perfect show in Price Is Right history. That'll probably be worthwhile information in the course of my day.

-Thomas spins 50 cents and then 20 for a grand total of 70 cents.
-Gregory says hi to Lindsay in the audience and finds himself with 95 cents.
-Sorority girl is smiling and happy. She gets a 35 and a 65 to win her a thousands dollars.
-Sorority girl falls into Drew after her weak spin, and she wins nothing.

Showcase Showdown
-Sorority Girl passes the first set of prizes.
-Peggy bids $15,000 on a bedroom set and a wave runner. (Actual price: $20,543, Difference 5543. Loser.)
-Sorority Girl bids $25,000 on a huge HD TV, a hot tub, a travel trailer (Actual price: $27,275, Difference of $2,275. Winner! Hugs and smiling and waving and prize touring ensue!)

Thoughts on Drew's first go round: I thought he did alright. When you do something for the first time that someone else has done for 200 years, it's going to be different and an adjustment. He regularly referred to the announcer by his whole name as well as addressing each of the models in a Deal or No Deal-esque manner. He did seem rushed at parts and getting excited at weird times, but for a first time, it was acceptable. In 200 years, he might even be as good as Bob Barker.

Photo from AccessHollywood

Friday, October 12, 2007

Who needs the letter "A"?

So my professor recently returned my group's thirty page paper. While we do receive a number grade, I received a new method of evaluation. We received 17 smiley faces in 30 pages, which translates to a 96%.

This :) thing is getting out of control.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Now everyone else coming to the realization that Oral Roberts is a bad, bad place

The Giant High Five is creating trouble again. Highlights form the lead story at CNN.com this morning!

"Information about possible improper use of university funds by the Roberts family came from a computer belonging to Roberts' sister-in-law, who loaned it to a student, according to the lawsuit."

Whoops! Because in my college experience frequently required the usage of a laptop from President Harre's in-law.

"The Roberts defended themselves against the suit's allegations, including one accusation that the family used a university jet to send one of their daughters and her friends on a trip to the Bahamas."

Forget the Bahamas jaunt, a university jet? Which would be used for what? Rushing back and forth to classes? Baby races?

"Richard Roberts said his daughter and her friends accompanied him on a preaching trip to Florida and the Bahamas, aimed at recruiting students to ORU.

'I had to pay the university back for that,' he told CNN, adding that the jet is not owned by the university; it is leased."

Oh, I'm sorry, it's the University's leased jet. That clears up that little boo-boo. And of course, after a little loan from tuition payers, I'll just pay back the funds used on that Disneyworld recruitment venture. That is since you are inquiring about it now and all.

In response to an accusation that the university was charged for 11 home renovation projects over 14 years, the couple said the walls and floors of their home had to be removed because of black mold.

Clearly a sign of the apocalypse. And bad water sealant.

The suit also alleges that, according to university-paid cell phone bills, text messages were sent early in the morning from Lindsay Roberts' phone to underage males who had been provided phones at university expense.

Lindsay Roberts said she routinely allows her daughters and their friends to use her cell phone, and it was likely the messages were from them to other youths.

Richard Roberts said the couple mentors youths with drug and alcohol problems and sometimes has contact with them at odd hours.

And we've just entered a whole new ballgame. Between "likely" in the second paragraph and "odd hours" in the third, this situations screams of inappropriateness.

Lindsay Roberts' Lexus SUV and Mercedes Benz convertible were provided for the university's use by donors, who also pay the insurance costs.

Can I interest you in a Saturn, Mrs. Roberts?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Victory

Satisfaction. The Indians' extra inning victory Friday night may have been my favorite moment in the series, but last night's was the most satisfying. Not that I saw it, but still satisfying. I watched most of the game, including the Yankees whittling away the big lead. When it became 6-3, and we entered the 8th inning, my body shut down from the big day and my mind feared Joe Borowski crushing my spirit.

As has been the case all year long, Cleveland built up a big lead, Borowski pitched poorly, and in spite of him, Cleveland wins with everyone forgetting how absolutely awful Joe is because The Tribe won anyway. It's actually the statistic that no one has mentioned but is the one most responsible for Cleveland's series win. Out of 38 innings played, Borowski pitched just 1 of them. Not too bad.

I did fall asleep before the end of the game, and I leapt up in the morning to catch Sportscenter. The segment on? "Torre's Legacy." Figuring this was a good sign, but still wanting confirmation, I logged onto espn.com - the site that ran with the lead story of Paul Byrd (not CC Sabathia on short rest) starting is equivalent to the Yankees guaranteed to win the series - which also featured a big picture of Torre. In fact, the Diamonbacks received as much face time on the home page as does Cleveland. C'mon, we haven't won a World Series in 60 some years. Could we at least acknowledge the victory? Finally, I found the link to the game recap - no special section such as the 48 dedicated to New York's loss - and blissfully read the summary. Oh, and did I mention that Joe Torre still is not fired and still is the manager of the Yankees? Now he may be toast when I get home, but couldn't the "Torre's dead, here are syrupy sweet video montages" wait until the day he actually does leave New York.

Jump on the bandwagon folks, it's time for the ALCS.

Photo from WHDH

Monday, October 1, 2007

And there goes the retirement fund

Not an overly good day for Walgreens' stock. Usually looking at a chart showing a company's value, it may go up and down a bit, but I can't ever remember seeing a straight line drop like that. I'm sure once Wall Street realizes I worked seven days in a row the numbers will come back, and I can go back to thinking happy thoughts about the old portfolio.

Graphic from USA Today

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What's worse?

A.) The pathetic roster: "The Browns, embarrassed 34-7 by the Pittsburgh Steelers in their home opener, will go into Week 2 with three quarterbacks; only one of them, third-stringer Ken Dorsey, has won an NFL game."

B.) This mismanagement and evaluation of talent: "Cleveland's trade of Frye is unprecedented. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he's the first quarterback since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 to start his team's season opener and be traded before Week 2."

C.) That Ken Dorsey is signed and mentoring anyone: "The club signed Dorsey to a one-year contract on Tuesday, 10 days after the Browns cut him. Dorsey will serve as a mentor to Quinn"

D.) The Cleveland Browns franchise in general.

Quotes from ESPN.com

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Labor Day baseball

Look, it's three days later. Deal with it. I'm a busy man adjusting to hitting the space bar just once after the period. I'm doing better, and I'm time crunched. As such, my Labor Day adventure appears here on this site on Thursday. And after I go to the bathroom. (Awkward pause.) Alright, let's rock.

The story truly begins back last Friday night. I was sitting at my computer developing benchmarking research for the fictional Global Communications when Becky realizes that we both have Labor Day off. Now this is a revolutionary revelation because I haven't had a mutual day off with my wife since, I believe, the first weekend in August. Realizing we may never again have this opportunity again, especially with the holiday season closing in on us and my working a double 18 hour shift starting tonight at 4pm, Becky decided to see what was happening in the Twin Cities that might be worthy of our entertainment dollar.

A look at the movie listings quickly ruled that option out. Neither of us have any desire to see Halloween, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I would have nightmares for months if I went to see any horror flick. Much to Becky's dismay some Jane Austen movie was out of theaters just three weeks after entering them, and I breathed easier. The rest of the listings consisted of retread summer leftovers that left us uninspired.

A few moments later, Becky asked if the Twins were in town. I paused from my paper writing and figured they would be as they were just wrapping up a weekend series at home against the mighty Kansas City Royals. But more importantly, my wonderful wife was suggesting spending our mutual day off watching professional baseball. This doesn't happen. I must be dreaming.

She clicked around some more and confirmed that Minnesota was indeed playing an afternoon game. Wow, things are going really well as our chances of attending increased with this more desirable first pitch time. Then the deal maker.

Their opponent? The best team in baseball. The Cleveland Indians.

Fantastic news! Not only had my not particularly baseball inclined wife suggested Labor Day at the Metrodome, but my team, who I have not seen play in person since the 1988 season when Greg Swindell, Tom Candiotti, and Bud Black anchored The Tribe's rotation, were playing. A tremendous stroke of luck. I seem to only see Cleveland teams on the road these days, and I proudly wear Cleveland attire into visitor stadiums. I did this when the Browns played the Vikings a couple of years ago and wore as much brown and orange as I could. Naturally, we wound up in a sea of drunk purple and yellow. The fans, in good spirit, heckled me as the Browns put up a feeble fight. However, when I began being touched and they asked my name (I answered Sam, and that I drove all the way from Cleveland for this game), it was time to go. This Indians-Twins match-up allowed me to get decked out in Tribe gear. The stars were aligned and I and my 1997 World Series appearance (forgettable) hat were off to the Metrodome.

Now in April, I hosted a dude fest that included much Twins baseball, and I developed a favorite route and parking lot. Now with the I-35W bridge crumpled into the Mississippi River, I took alternate routes without incident. Most notably, no bridge fell.

The bridge collapse was an integral part of the pre-game festivities as the promotions department made up something called "First Responders Day" where EMTs, fire fighters, and police personnel were offered tickets to this game for just a dollar and then were paraded around the infield prior to the game, complete with emotional video footage. I suggested grabbing our Dome Dogs during this ten minute feelings-fest, but was quickly slapped on the arm and encouraged to instead clap for the fifty or so people who were on the field and waving with their kids. The Dome Dogs waited.

Oh yes, there was a baseball game, too. Both teams' best pitchers were on the mound with the very clean teethed Johan Santana representing the Twins and the very large bellied CC Sabathia taking the hill for Cleveland. I quickly realized the Eric Wedge was setting me up for disaster. Instead of placing our best players against the Twins' best pitcher, he decided on a starting line-up that consisted of Ben Franscico and Chris Gomez. No Grady Sizemore. No Jhonny Peralta. Ugh.

Also deserving of an "ugh," was the woman sitting directly next to Becky, who I should mention counterbalanced my Cleveland attire with a lovely pink Twins jersey selection. This woman decided to take advantage of the empty row ahead of us by stretching out her legs. Sure, no big deal. Then she took her shoes off and rested them on the seat. Not cool. That the drink holder on the back of the seat was mere inches from her disgusting, bare foot was really not cool. It never fails that Becky will sit next to an etiquette challenged individual. It's a miracle she ever goes out in public.

Somehow the Chris Gomez led charge put Cleveland ahead early, and CC was marvelous. 5-0 Cleveland. Yay Labor Day.

Photo from ABC 7 News, WJLA

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Birds hold my car in the same regard I do

$700 oil change this go around. 2/3 of which is covered by the warranty, but still, $700? The next picture of my car you see may be that of my poop spread across it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Goo!

High school was a grand time for rock music. I attended probably close to 20 shows in 2 years and spent a significant amount of my lawn mowing income on the likes of Green Day, Lenny Kravitz, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, and Finger 11. My concert going days have waned since my New Orleans experience concluded. Occasionally there is a show here and there that I attend, and one of those happened to be this past Friday evening.

The tremendous Minnesota State Fair kicked off this past Thursday, and it's an event that still confuses me. I can't say I've ever been particularly fond of anything "fair" but the people in Minnesota are absolutely fanatical about it. Every newscast and radio show will originate from the fairgrounds featuring fluff pieces on new born baby animals and the latest exhibit on display. The greatest fascination though is with the food there as people go Maurice Jones-Drew touchdown crazy for items on a stick. Even my wife, who won't go anywhere near these deep fried and speared concoctions, takes tremendous pride in the latest invention. From deep fried twinikies on a stick to teriaki ostrich to spam, all possible food go into the fryer and out on a stick for your heart stopping enjoyment. It's good fun, but this year's trip into the fairgrounds was not food related.

While I did enjoy a few food items, I enjoyed the entertainment even more. For the first time, I took in a show at the Grandstand. A massive set of bleachers erected in the heart of the fair, I was surprised at how many people it held as from the outside I did not expect such a seating capacity. It was no 100,000 people crammed for Metallica at Rockfest 2000, but still a surprisingly strong turn out for the headlining and apparently Elmo-loving Goo Goo Dolls.

But first there were the opening acts who deserve a few lines. I wasn't sure who the opening artist was and despite having since been told who it was a few times can't remember. It was a young woman named Cay Calililly or something who sings that one pop song that has a whole bunch of rhyming words. Vague, I know but so is pop music in general. Once she played her one semi-famous song I kinda remembered hearing it and how it went, and therein lies the definition of an opening act.

The second performance brought back VRC memories. For the first time in five years, the JR professed mega hit Sick Cycle Carousel singing Athletics Recreation Center rocking act Lifehouse took the stage. They were much much improved from that debacle in Indiana, and I attribute it to five more years to enhance their performance skills, new song development, and reflection on the scathing criticism they no doubt once read in the Torch.

With that said, they were most enjoyable. While a fine recorded song, I still just don't think "Hanging by a Moment" translates into a good live song. Fortunately, they disposed of this hugely played hit early in their set allowing their current hits "First Time" and "You and Me and All of the People" to anchor their performance. My favorite song of theirs from the evening was the unreleased single "The Joke," which was an incredibly catchy, well performed live track. I rarely remember songs that I had not heard previous to a concert, but this one was worthwhile. They also get points for a cover song, choosing the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden" for a little reworking. It was a fine choice as was the fashion for the evening. Bassist Bryce Soderberg wore a CBS Sports t-shirt that was questionably a nod to the fine work of one Verne Lundquist and his sweaters.

The main event used their much earlier single "Long Way Down" to kick off the performance. I appreciated the step back in time as most know and understandably enjoy the more recent efforts like "Slide," "Broadway," "Iris," and "Stay With You" all of which were great Friday night. Having enjoyed the Goo Goo Dolls "Live in Buffalo" album from a couple years ago, I was hoping to hear "Black Balloon" as it was a standout on the aforementioned disc. I was pleased when in fact it was in the track listing and was accompanied with humongous black balloons that rained down upon concert goers. It was a neat visual spectacle to compliment the fantastic song, and by golly in a nod to my five-year-old inner self, I got to hit a black balloon high into the sky. Whee!

The show was delightful to be sure, but it was not without it's downfalls. The most glaring of which is an over indulgence of Robby Takac's singing. I understand the obligatory one or two Robby Takac songs per album, and I can happily press fast forward through them. However, that option is unavailable at a live show and when the bassist sings (and I recently learned that he was the original lead singer of the band), it's not good. When he sings four songs, it creates a big black hole in the middle of the set. Upon his image being placed on the big screen, Becky turned to me and commented that this man was uglier than the lead singer of Nickelback, which I found to be immensely funny and very true. Upon his vocals leaving the Grandstand speakers, Becky again turned to me and asked, "What was that crap?" which I also found to be immensely funny and very true.

Lead singer and Catholic raised (boo-yah!) Johnny Rzeznik while light years better than Takac ran into a problem that no doubt haunts all big bands with a great many singles. Some are going to be left out, which will disappoint fans of that one particular song. The Goo opted to pass on "Better Days," which was a little surprising considering they played three non-singles from their most recent album. Becky later mentioned that it would have made for a nice emotionally laced encore had they tied the song into the recent bridge disaster, and I would agree. Instead, they wrapped up the show with a song that I did not recognize, which is tough since I know most every song from their last four albums. It was a fine song, but c'mon let's end with a bang.

At the conclusion of the performance, I was prepared to make my way out of the Grandstand when shots were fired. Ok, so they were really fireworks, but I wasn't expecting them and thought we all might be dead. Fortunately my quick thinking reverted back to firework safety tips, and I sat down and enjoyed the colorful conclusion to the evening's festivities.

Photo from MuppetCentral

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The day the computer died - again

All was going well. After working 11 of 12 days, Sunday was my third day in a row off from work. I took a 2+ hour nap - a favorite Sunday afternoon activity of mine. Upon awaking, I went down to my computer to prepare for the VUFSA football draft, but two hours later. I clicked around and thought I should see what's on TV, so I clicked on my link to TV listings when my computer froze. That's fairly unusual as this computer never freezes.

I powered off and turned it back on to reboot. Before Windows came up, a very loud clicking noise, reminiscent of that noise Korn has in all of its songs began coming from the laptop. Becky wanted to know what I was tapping. I wasn't tapping, but my computer was tapping out. It died. Again.

The keyboard has been replaced twice, a battery once, my second USB port hasn't worked in 6 months, and a hard drive wipe was necessary when one of those automatic Microsoft Windows downloads paralyzed my beloved laptop. So, my computer was again down for the count.

With two hours before the VUFSA draft, time was of the essence. I raced to my local Best Buy and that Geek Squad thing they've got going on over there. I described my plight, and the tech said that it sounded like the hard drive was the problem. He turned it on, heard the clicking, and uttered the words, "Oh, that's not good."

Indeed it was not. Close to $300 later, they removed the old hard drive, and installed a new one, and sent me on my way. The money sucks, but frankly any amount is worth it. I have no possession more valuable to me than my computer. I can do without TV and radio but probably would shrivel up and die without my laptop. Although, if you combine the amount of money I spend repairing my computer and my car (speaking of which I have an oil change coming up next week - whoo wee!), I could probably afford a small island in the Caribbean.

I now have my computer back, but it's only kinda back. I lost everything on the hard drive and had to reinstall every program. The losing everything wasn't that big of a deal since I backed up my computer, conveniently, in May of 2005. Let this be a reminder to be a bit more studious about maintenance issues than yours truly who waiting a tad too long - as in 27 months too long - to do so.

The programs aren't that big of a deal since I have all of those - except I can't seem to find my anti-virus software so please no attachments for awhile. Windows defaulted to a green pasture for a background, and I haven't used Internet Explorer in years. The Internet connection now flips off every 10 minutes or so and I have to get up and manually unplug the modem and replug it in to get my computer and the Internet to chat. Additionally, I lost all my Internet bookmarks. If it wasn’t a simple address or one I had linked to here from Wolfden V, I won’t be visiting it again any time soon (should you have an address that would be meaningful or not linked directly on this page, please resend it over). Lastly, my computer no longer can tolerate a wireless mouse so I'm down to the touch pad - whose left click button doesn't work. If this were a human being, we'd be talking about being on life support with a feeding tube and a guardian angel propping up the head.

Basically I'm running on a paper clip and some thread over here. It's not like I just signed up for an on-line university or anything.

Photo from Techtickerblog

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Prejudiced

I had an interesting conversation the other day about prejudice and racial profiling. I have found it to be a difficult topic to converse about for fear that I would somehow say something that would result in a civil rights movement should it come out wrong.


For the area in which I tread is that of demographics which is open game. Advertising does it regularly. Kids' shows are littered with cereal commercials and play-doh. Football games feature beer commercials and trucks. My beloved Price Is Right runs non-stop Scooter Store and life insurance ads. While advertisers realize not everyone who is watching football drives trucks or that I as a healthy, two-legged, twenty-five year old needs a motorized vehicle (though it would be fun), they know that the groups of people who watch these particular shows are the ones most likely to need/want/be interested in these products. It's a stereotype, and I think it's safe to say no one has any issue with this.

But the topic of conversation concerned shoplifting at my store. My Walgreens is located directly adjacent to a seven story retirement home/assisted living complex. Without question, everyone wins. They keep us in business, and we provide them their daily reason to get out an exercise. That said, the primary demographic for my store is 150 years old and using some contraption (walker, cane, wheelchair) to get around.

Our area is also predominantly caucasian. This is not to say that all our customers are white, simply the majority of them are. However, the majority of shoplifters have been black. It doesn't mean that all black people steal from my store, or that white people do not, but rather the majority of the incidents have been with young, black males.

And so, the question that was posed, and that I now pose to the viewers of this board, is it wrong to keep an extra eye out if a suspicious, young, black male is walking the aisles?

I realize that trouble here is the word "suspicious" as if it implies all young, black males are suspicious. Indeed, this is not the case but I can tell you from experience that shoplifters tend to stand out like sore thumbs - shifty eyes, no contact with anyone, move quickly, talk too much when talked to, and show signs of being nervous. I can also speak from experience when I say the majority of people who shoplift and show these signs happen to be black. Would it then make me prejudiced and create racial disharmony for extra observation of a black man?

I was mixed on the issue myself. On the one hand, having heard the police pull over someone for "driving while black," I naturally repulse this negative connotation. On the other hand, if a black man punches me in the face nine times, is it wrong to duck on the tenth? I don't know. I simply found it an interesting topic, which hopefully creates some conversation here.

Photo from Wikimedia

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Since when?

Did you know that recent APA requirements for paper writing have banished the two spaces behind the period? Did you know that I cannot quickly break this habit of probably ten to fifteen years simply because some nerdy grammar guru decided that one space and not two was more to his liking? Do you have any idea how many sentence I am going to have to go back and change in this fifteen page paper because I automatically tap my space bar twice at the conclusion of each sentence?

To recap:

This MBA program has reaffirmed my hatred of animated emoticons and caused further distress by altering my decade old typing habits. That and I can tell you exactly why Global Communication makes wise business decisions despite communicating them poorly - they used two spaces after their sentences instead of one and then laid off employees using :(

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

:)

A significant part of this University of Phoenix MBA program I have thus far experienced is an on going message board discussion. Usually we are given scenarios and the prof prompts the class to discuss certain aspects of the scenario with a set of discussion questions.

I find these conversations incredibly entertaining. I'm a dork, but I love a good class conversation, especially one in which I play devil's advocate (did somebody say being a Catholic in a Lutheran dominated Christ College class?). So, as has been my trademark, I take the unpopular side and poke holes in feeble arguments.

However, the majority have a weapon that not even I can combat. Everyone, it seems, is busting out this secret weapon in scarily high numbers, especially for a graduate level class. It is unnecessary, and it is terrifying.

It is the emoticon.

I hate the damn things. I don't even like ":)" But the animated little faces irritate me to no end. As if making a point that a company shouldn't lay off a group of people because it's corporate greed hits all the more home with a little yellow face wagging a finger at me. Needless to say, it's awful.

So, I was quite proud of myself for this little jab at the end of my most recent "Drew's being a pain in the ass by continuing to be the only one to argue this side" post.

"Granted we don't have enough information in the scenario but I feel compelled to defend Global Communication here as the class really seems to have written them off as the bad guy and the greedy corporate entity. Surely we all have enough real world experience to know that issues such as these are ever really black and white as far as good guys and bad guys go. I don't pretend to say that with the information we have Global Communication should get a smiley face emoticon, but I don't know that we should condemn them either.

-Drew"