Monday, November 20, 2006

Friendship is...

I can't take credit for this one, it was an email I got. But I was highly amused, and rather then send it on in email again, I've decided to post it here. Enjoy.

None of that Sissy Crap

Are you tired of those sissy "friendship" poems that always sound good, but never actually come close to reality? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see no cutesy little smiley faces, just the stone cold truth of our great friendship.

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile -- I will know you finally got laid.

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will use little words.

7. When you are sick -- Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy butt.

Send this to 10 of your closest friends, then get depressed because you can only think of 4. Friendship is like wetting your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Jesus speaks

According to this article, Toys for Tots is now accepting talking Jesus dolls for this year's toy drive.  Before I go further, I know you're thinking, "Oh boy!  It's another Blog O'Scorn entry!"  Sorry to disappoint, its not.  Ha!  As much as I'd think about raving about giving a religiously centered gift, Toys for Tots has done wonderful things, and I'm not against organized religion existing, only as it relates to me.  Many religious organizations have done wonderful things around the world, and Christmas is after all, kinda for Jesus, isn't it?
What's this post all about then?
The potential for mischief.  Having read for some time many articles in both the news and hobbyist sites like Make (a web zine dedicated to the home hacker, no not computer hacker in the bad sense, hacker in the sense of "How does ~that~ work?"), all I can see in a talking doll is the prospect of someone buying several of the dolls, reverse-engineering them, and inserting what would "at the time" seem to be very humorous new phrases.  Imagine a very Ned Flandersy house opening up a Jesus doll on Christmas morning, pushing his back (or whatever), and having him say something ~really~ offensive.  I mean, you could put all kinds of statements in there, from sexual innuendo (or outright crude things), religious bigotry (in several different directions including anti-teachings of Cathol, anti-Semitism, etc), to completely off the wall things like "Jesus wants you to kill mommy and daddy.", "Jesus says you can have all the candy you want.", "Stop touching yourself!", "Repent or BURN!",  truly I could go on for at least another 50-100 lines EASY, but I will spare you the rest of my disturbed humor for the moment.  (If you have some good ones, feel free to comment.)
I'm not suggesting that this is a good idea, or that anyone should do it.  I would hate to think even for a second that ruining Christmas for a child who's already had a bum year was my fault.  You gotta be pretty low on the totem pole of life to pull that kind of prank, but I still think there are people out there that would do it, if they thought they could do it anonymously.  Now, this is not to say, that I would want to give these to friends that had enough of a sense of humor as to actually find it funny.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Something new

Now, normally on a Tuesday, I'd go off on how this person was a bad driver, or the appalling parental skills of people today, or even how the entitlement of this person or the self-absorbed-ness of that person was just too much. But today is not a normal Tuesday. Today I have a compatriot at arms in the modern day world of blog ranting. I have added her link to the persistent list at the right. I'm sorry JamesF, but in your immortal words, "Ka-Chunk!" I've mentioned this talented young lady several times before (usually anything regarding cakes/pastries or a doggy godmother), and now she has her own voice in the ether.

I'm amused since, I was just today considering a "group" blog (akin to the Strangers Among Us photo blog contributed to by some neat folks) that would use the title that Scott and James sometimes refer to ~my~ blog as. That would be the, "Blog O' Scorn"! A community contributed blog that would have entries whenever we wanted to blow off steam, but not necessarily drag our blogs through an anger cesspool. I've not ruled it out, so if you think you'd like to contribute to said blog, let me know. Especially since the "left our place of employment" blog... is floundering. I haven't given up on it yet, and if you would like to post to THAT blog, let me know (but you must meet the requirements!!)

I'm always amazed at the things Kim can do with pastries and sugar. I'm sure it has NOTHING to do with my insatiable sweet tooth. Some of my favorites:

The pink converse (ation piece)

I think this was one of her finals at chef school

The confection and sugar pulling has always fascinated me. I can't even do this stuff with clay, let alone burning hot sugar stuffs.

I wonder if she'll ever do a "baked nativity"?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Back to reality

(as an aside my first typo for this entry almost made it a career change - Back to REALTY)
The reality of life once again crowds into my mind after the surreal experiences of last week.  The normalcy of work was nothing compared to the reminder this morning of how unbelievably oblivious commuting drivers can be.  I incredulously watched the traffic on the other side of the road this morning, as a wailing ambulance crested a hill approaching from the north, and actually had to honk it's horn.  Not once, not twice, but for several different drivers, one of whom was bad enough that the ambulance driver just leaned on the horn for about 3-5 seconds before the van actually changed lanes to get out of the way.  Keep in mind the ambulance was on the anti-commute side of traffic, and the volume was light, as in you could change lanes freely and everyone was at speed, in fact, most people had gotten out of the way probably without hitting the brakes.  This van was different, for perhaps 1-2 tenths of a mile it was clear behind him, with a full view of the rapidly approaching ambulance.  Even if he couldn't hear the screaming siren (which I admit I've rocked out in the car, and not heard it till after I ~saw~ it, but I've ~NEVER~ had to be honked at!) he HAD to have seen the flashing lights for at least a little bit.  Makes me wonder if he'd been on his cell phone, oblivious to the world.  Yes, Scott and James, another Blog O' Scorn entry, but it was such a stark reminder of the reality of the DC area commuter.  I hope the ambulance made it to it's destination in time to make a difference.
For anyone in the security/information assurance world, I passed my exam today from DSS for the Chapter 8.  (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just ignore it and move on. *grin*)  Needless to say it's many hours of CBT down, that finally agree I knew what I was talking about in the first place.  :-)
But now I need to go eat some chinese food.  Bring on the Shrimp Imperial (or whatever they're calling it this week) and the green beans!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Simple requests

Thank you all very much. We have received so much in the way of support, both online and off. After many questions about what people can do for us, the answer finally drifted forward into my mind. There really isn't anything you can do for us. We miss him, and we will mourn him, and we will remember him. There are, however, things you can do for you and this is as good a reason as any to do it now instead of another time. Take a moment, today, tomorrow, sometime to interrupt your usual routine. Take a step back and dwell on the things you cherish, think on the things you take for granted, and then decide on something you can do for ~them~ while they are here. If I have learned nothing else from all of this, it is to take the time to enjoy what you do have, instead of pine for that you do not. So if you want to do something for us, do something for those around you to let them know. Oh and give your dogs a hug and a treat too, whether it be a biscuit, a walk, or even the precious forkful of cake. That is all I ask.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

To Brown, with love

Stronger than mountains
Spirit of the field and wood
Run free in the sky

With a saddened heart I sit to write this entry. I've lost the kindest soul I'd ever known today. He taught me many things, how to enjoy the simple things, how to face difficulty with your chin up, and he showed me how to give all of yourself in something expecting nothing in return. It's true what they say, you can never love your dog as much as they love you. We as people just aren't capable of that kind of freedom. Too many things get in the way. I don't know enough to know what truths lie beyond this level of existence, I only hope that he finds the freedom and unabashed joy he so rightly deserves. I feel like I let him down, this dog. Like I couldn't protect him from the things he needed protection from. I did the best I could, and I hope at the very least that I brought him happiness in his much too short time with us. They are never here long enough for our purposes. So I wish you fair journey, Boris, and wherever you may be now may it be a place of beauty.

When I think of you, or when I feel like I've had enough, all I have to do is watch this to remind me that it's time to take a breath, suck it up, and keep pressing on. Thank you for that.

I miss you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The test of a nation...

The test of a group is of how well it treats it's weakest members, like the old, the sick, and it's animals. I am at an exam. If you've followed along any of da wife's posts regarding the health and well-being of our big Doberman, Boris, then you already know things are not going so well.

A brief background on the guy... Boris is a 9 and a half year old red and rust Doberman Pinscher, and one of the sweetest dogs I have ever known (as long as he knows you). He's had a small fight with Wobbler's - a neurological problem usually related to neck/back nerve injury or weakness that causes some instability in the hind legs. That we treated with limiting highly stressful activity, supplements, and some acupuncture, and he was holding steady which is the best you can do in those cases. Then June 14th of last year (2005) he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his front left paw. An aggressive form of bone cancer that left him hobbling around. We had his leg amputated and treated him with chemotherapy (among other things). We had no idea how much time it would buy us, but to give you an idea only about 50% of dogs with the same diagnosis and treatment (both amputation and chemo) survived to 1 year post diagnosis. We were fortunate enough to have him with us for almost 17 months. Giving that answer to vets and vet techs that asked how long has resulted in many surprised faces. He's been an inspiration to us, as he's been mostly himself running, playing, and snuggling throughout most of the process. It's more than we expected, and all that we'd hoped for.

And now he's had more heaped upon him. On October 22, he had a grand mal seizure. If you've never seen one of these this is probably the most horrifying thing I've witnessed. Blood and accidents have never bothered me, but this left me very upset. Especially since once he came out of it, he didn't seem to know who either da wife or I was. Brought him in for treatment, got some meds for "just in case it happens again", and then it struck again November 1st. Same duration (1 to 2 minutes), but very disturbing. We took him to get imaged, and found out on Friday (Nov 3rd) that he had a 2.5cm mass in his right cerebral cortex. After all this fighting we had done with him and for him, something else had snuck in under the radar. We spent the weekend kind of in shock, being told that we could talk to the doctors on Tuesday about what kind of treatments would be possible. We had him on anti-convulsives and prednisone thinking we had him at least stabilized. WRONG. Tonight around 7:20 he started seizing again. Only this time it wouldn't stop after 2 minutes. This time it didn't stop even after giving him a 20mg dose of diazipam (read: valium). So we called in, packed up, and drove to the vet ER. I held him in the back of the truck all the way there (40 minutes or so) he seizured the entire way, sometimes violently, sometimes just twitching a little. I tried to keep him calm on the ride, but I don't know if he heard me. As I carried him inside and up the elevator, I just wanted them to calm him down, and make him ok. I wanted my dog to not be hurting or confused anymore. We took him straight to the back where a swarm of technicians and doctors came in to help. We were ushered into a waiting room (realizing I really wouldn't be any help at that point) and hoped for miracles. The first visit the doctor brought us news that they had upped his valium dosage (quite a bit, I'm thinking enough to knock me out for several days, or to make a horse fall asleep given the numbers) but that he was still in seizure. They were going to have to sedate him to interrupt it. Eventually under anesthesia the tremors quieted and while out of it, he was at least no longer bound in the throes of his seizure. At the end of it all, his episode had lasted for almost 2 hours. 2 hours. After 2 minutes he was exhausted from his previous seizures, I can't imagine what 2 hours had done to him. In our final consult we were told they would keep him out for several hours (i.e. overnight) and that they would slowly try to bring him out of it tomorrow morning. If he started back up we had 2 options (we have 2 options even if he doesn't start seizing again) immediate surgery or... release.
Despite all the "extra" time we've been given with him, I still feel cheated. There was supposed to at least be time to consult with the original doctors to find out what options there were if any. If there weren't any, then so be it. We'd give him whatever days he had as a spoiled child. But even that was taken from us. I hate to sound so greedy, when I've been blessed with knowing this grand creature. I'm embarrassed to contemplate what ~he~ would think of my selfishness. So tomorrow we call the doctors and see what they say. We see what they say about 2 hours in seizure and how much damage has already been done. We see what they say the best outcome, the worst outcome, and the most likely outcome for surgery. None seem bright at this hour. I only hope that whatever choices present themselves that we are as dedicated and selfless as the companion whose nose I miss at my hand.

Thank you to my wife that took him to the park today, for his favorite thing next to food - a tour through the park.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Anniversary - a walk in the park

Ok this time it really was a walk in the park, only it was a slightly delayed anniversary tour. After just about filling up the camera's memory card we managed to get just a few group pictures, and a few shots of the "view".

A very goodly amount of water flowing to get an idea of the rapids, but still enough rock showing to present a nice mix. The guy below had me watching him for a few minutes.

It was a nice day (enough for shorts and a jacket), but I wouldn't want to be waterlogged. I can only imagine how chilly that must've been. I was surprised to find two women talking on a bench, and one of them had earmuffs on. I mean... come on, it's not ~that~ cold yet.

I was surprised on several occasions of people (both kids and adults) almost purposefully walking thru the camera shots while I was trying to take pictures. Now, this wasn't the panoramic everyone wants the shot type photo. I had a tripod setup, and was using a timer to run around and get in close with da wife and the k9s. It was VERY obvious that I was trying to take pictures, AND we had gotten ourselves waaay off the path in an attempt to keep traffic down. It literally seemed like people went out of their way to walk behind us in the 2 foot wide section between us and a fence. Sheesh! Don't get me started on the 2 kids that just stood there in view whilst their parents stood 35 feet away on the path repeatedly saying "come on" "come on" "come on". Ok before JamesF calls this the blog o'scourn again I'll move on.

For those interested (albeit the like 2 of you), these were pictures from the same site as the wedding in Great Falls National Park. They have however revamped several of the overlook points. Don't get me wrong, they look fantastic, and have more room to spread out, and even seem to be a big safer, but they seem to be much more artificial then they used to be. Ah well... anything to avoid lawsuits I suppose. At least they were open this time, not like the first year we tried to go back for our anniversary and the overlooks were closed! All in all a good time was had by all this year, and the dogs sure were quiet on the ride home.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Men are pigs, and other random thoughts

After several discussions this week regarding men and what they're thinking, I've decided to give it a short blurb here. And the quick answer is - Yes, we think about it once an average of every 7 seconds. "Do men multi-task?" I've heard that asked. Yes, the fact that we can even walk or talk or do ~anything~ else, means we multitask. It has also been suggested that we are hollow inside, this point I do actually rebut. I do not argue very strongly as it's true for a great number of males, as is the "never grow up past 14 years old" comments I've heard. While it's easy to blame this behavior on hormones (and hey... testosterone is rough to be hit with it ALL the time!) but it's not just chemicals. It's what we're taught. Directly or indirectly, by parents and family, by friends and neighbors, even by TV and books. There are subtle hints and cues throughout our lives that lead us to this kind of behavior and thinking.

Don't get too far up on the soap box with me ladies. You too are victims of your learning. The communication skills, the subtle manipulations, even the ability to think, feel, and SPEAK at the same time are things you've learned over the years. While I am jealous of some of those skills from time to time, being the childish man that I am, I couldn't handle the hormone fluctuations with any of the skill and grace most of you manage.

And to quote the wonderful speaker I had the opportunity to hear this week,
"Men truly are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and Politicians are from Uranus."
- "The D*I*C*E man" (1)
If you ~ever~ get the chance to see this guy, go to the briefing. I had a chance to chat with him before and after the presentation, and it only made me want to go talk with him for a few hours at a bar. I share MANY of his viewpoints about people, security, the world in general, and technology. Ok... maybe not the technology part. We both agree it's a tool that has made people sluggish, and that technology is a threat (I think it's #2, but we agree that people are and will always be #1). Just remember, you're not paranoid if they really are out to get you.

(1) I don't think this was originally quoted by him, but since I couldn't find this particular phrasing for anyone else, I'll leave it for now.

On a side note, I had to post something that distracted me from the other events going on at home. There was not good news from the vet visit today, unfortunately. As usual my wife is far more eloquent than I would be.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sto Lat take 2

So da wife got a dinner out tonight as a belated birthday dinner. An exciting time was had by all at our (new) local Ruby Tuesday. The Mommu (and possibly her evil blonde helper) baked a special amaretto cake for da wife. Moreover they made custom one of a kind decorations. Unfortunately, I was left in charge of icing, and as you can tell from the photo, I OBVIOUSLY need a remedial class on cake icing.

Don't let its haggard appearance fool you. The cake and frosting (both homemade) are sublime. Oh the cake was amaretto (I think I said that) and chocolate in the center (very nifty), and the icing is a kind of rum sauce icing that is truly delectable. If you're wondering about the "decorations" those are custom prints they made taken from the online game we play called City of Heroes. Those are screenshots of a few of da wife's heroines. Ella Psycho, Flammabella, and LadyGriffin are the names of the ones pictured, I believe. By no means is that a complete listing of all the alter egos she plays, but those are some of the more frequent. JamesF used to play, but now finds Pong... I mean Diablo2, more exciting.

Clara moves on

As reported on JamesF's blog my good friend Clara has moved on to other opportunities.  Congratulations Clara, and to everyone else, I'm sorry that you've lost a talented and hard worker.  (She's funny too, but don't make her mad!)  I hope James can find a way to muddle through, since this leaves him with 2 (I think) employees working on his section of the org chart.  Clara, sorry I wasn't at the send off (must've been that whole wife's bday thing... *grin*) perhaps we can go to dinner?  I'm sure the folks you leave behind will miss you as much as I have the past few months.  (yes I've missed the rest of you too!  Geez!  Tough crowd!)  Anyways... Good Luck mini-C!
In other news Boris had another seizure, as documented by da wife.  Poor guy, hasn't he been through enough?  He's a trooper though.  Hopefully we'll have answers soon.
And in yet other news:
The cafe at our new office building ~finally~ opened today.  They offered free coffee (I had southern pecan, quite tasty), and seem to have a decent, albeit limited, menu.  The staff are certainly friendly and flexible, at least so far.  That may change given some of the attitudes of "cow orkers" that I saw.  I'm convinced some people are just not happy - period.  There's the glass is half-full people, the half-empty people, the "clearly the volume of the container is in excess of required dimensions by a factor of 2" engineer types, and apparently the "doesn't matter whether it's half-full or empty, it probably tastes like crap anyway" folks.  I know I'm cynical and bitter sometimes, but sheesh, these peeps need to take a step back and chill out.  When you ONLY focus on the negative aspects of things, the negative is all you see, and you start to lose the ability to enjoy anything at all.  So next time you come across the simple magic of day to day life, stop and enjoy it.  Watch that sunset, smell that proverbial rose, or look into the eyes of a contented pet.  Savor the good things otherwise, what's the point of being here?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sto Lat

To my lovely bride I wish you: "Sto Lat!"
That is correct, it's her birthday today.  We won't talk about her age, but suffice to say it's more than 25 and less than 45!  Hopefully the dogs have kept her company today and made it as pleasant as the weather seemed to be.  Tonight will be dinner (not telling where in case she's reading!) and cake in some incarnation.  Maybe even some shared time watching a TV show or playing dominoes.  (Hrmm.. it ~is~ a Lost night, isn't it?)
That's the happy news, the not so happy news is one of the items I'm working on just took a big hit today, and so the drama level and stress level for the next month or so will be quite high.  Hopefully I (and one of the people caught up in it) will come out on top (perhaps with some help from KC too, if we're lucky) without too much trouble.  Yes, it's from being slow on a task, but also more directly resultant from something being pushed.  Why is irrelevant, only that a solution is found - that's the key to remember and to get and stay focused on the solution.