Monday, December 07, 2009


Bunches of thoughts going through my head. With little, if any, coherent order. Was trying to find a theme for the post. But it is all randomness behind my eyes. Like puddles in today's rain.
  • Where did 2009 go? It is almost gone and it doesn't seem to have even started. 
  • Put up our Christmas tree yesterday, Usually try to do it on Mom's birthday. But she came over early and we pulled out the decorations.
  • Went to Ocean Spring's with Cindy, yesterday. After my workout. Had $80 worth of tapas and drinks. And bought another $80 worth hand-made jewelry from my cohort Tracy. Nice items. Nice food. Strong drinks. We had fun. The price tag seemed about right. 
  • Funky weather as of late. Low 30s one day. Snowed just north of us. Rain this morning. Then twenty degrees warmer as I came home. Supposed to be approaching 70 soon.
  • Things are much better with the kids. Much calmer around the house. And we're able to have fun together most weekends. Good to be past the chaos in the wake of Liam's unexpected surgery last year. I think we're all saner.
  • Trying to get the Beetle wrapped up. Finalizing the brakes now. Rear view mirror. Car computer. A few last touches. And we're done done done.
  • Need to get some projects under way on the house. Kitchen. Or bathroom. Or additions. Been too inactive lately. But we're leery of doing anything expensive in these troublesome times. Hopefully the economy gets some stability. We'll feel safer to start something new. I'm growing anxious in the meanwhile.
All in all, good days. I hope they continue to get better. We all do.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

In The Gym

Been having success in the gym as of late. Worked chest and triceps today. Two great records to report. For my fourh and final set on the bench machine, I pressed 240lbs, six times. And on my last set on the machine fly machine, I hit 190lbs, ten times. Both are weights I've never hit before. Never. They aren't world records. But for me, they're personal milestones that I never thought I could hit. Even before I blew my shoulder out, I maxed at 220lbs. And now I'm able to do more. It's very empowering to know that I'm pushing through my self-imposed limits. To reach new levels.

On a different note, I think perhaps I'm over-training some days. At some point I think, "Do I tough it out? Try to fight through it? Or take it easy?" One side says, "You're not a kid any more. You should take it slow." And then my other side says, "You took it easy for 30 years, dude. Wake up!"

And I'm gaining weight, again. Even though my waistline is shrinking. Probably muscle gain. I hope it is muscle. I was down to 201 for a couple of weeks. Now I'm up to 205. Maybe I need to switch off the heavy weights. Focus on the cardio. Or maybe those "spin" classes.

Anyway, I'm so happy to be back in the gym. And I'm feeling great. Not the slightest bit of hint of trouble from my shoulder. And my energy levels are through the roof. Just a shame that I had to get serious in my late thirties. Hopefully I can get the kids to see the error of my ways. And they can avoid my decades of sloth and stupidity. Only time will tell.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


A brief interlude from the complaints about myself to complain about the soiled, damaged hobo that America has become.

First, I'd like to dwell on the fact that the "stock market" it up, all the banking Executives on Wall Street are gleefully looking forward to record-breaking bonuses measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and the current White House administration is claiming: the worst is over, the recession is over, and happy days are here again.

In the meanwhile, US unemployment, no matter how you measure it, U3, U6 or SGS, has gone up about 100% in the last 20 months, and 60% in the past year alone.One in five Americans is unemployed or underemployed. One in eight families are on food stamps. Over one hundred thousand households are filing for bankruptcy every month. And one in eight families can not afford to pay their mortgage this month.

And yet, our leaders, our President, and everyone in the financial system is telling us the recession is over? And they're able to say it with a straight face?

Second, I'd like to elaborate on the current administration's false notion that we can achieve and maintain some kind of "recovery." Recover to a society that spends 110% of its annual income? Recover to a society that spends $600/ft on a flimsy McHouse that's made as cheaply and quickly as possible? Recover to a system where a painter making $30,000 per year can buy a half million dollar house, fill it with 60" plasma screens, and park three Escalades out front that he uses to buy cheeseburgers, glazed donuts, and 90oz Super Sized jugs of Coke for each meal?

For the record, we've depleted all of our cheap, clean, easy-to-reach natural resources. We've all-but-destroyed our manufacturing base. Our national infrastructure is on life support. We continue to reward Big Business for out-sourcing our Knowledge Based Businesses. We continue to encourage Big Business to avoid paying taxes that our local and federal governments desperately need just to stay afloat.

So please, explain to me in simple, easy-to-follow terms, what our recovered society is going to look like, and how can we possible get there, from here? Get sock puppets if you have them, because I don't see how anything short of the Second Coming is going to do anything other keep our heads above the dark waters.

Third, I'm curious to know why our national media outlets continue to distract us from the real issues. Tiger Woods wrecking his Cadillac doesn't affect the national debt that has a rocket on its ass and is diving straight up into the stratosphere where only our children will be able to find it. Two reality TV shysters sneaking into a White House dinner (where they could have BOUGHT a ticket) does nothing to bring our tired troops home or reconcile the two TRILLION dollars we've airlifted over to Iraq in order to find some sneaky WMD that have elluded us since 2004. And why are do we blindly accept the idea that a new "surge" of 30,000 troops (at a cost of close to $1M/year per person, or $30,000,000,000/year for the "surge,") in A'Stan will work when every report says that we should empower the local tribes, enlist Afghans eager to fight the bad guys, don't force them to support a corrupt central government or bow to foreign forces - and keep picking off Al Qaeda with Special Operations troops and drones.

We're all damaged. Mentally. Physically. Spiritually. Our nation teeters on the edge of the abyss. But our leaders tell us the recession is over. Our President says we trust him, we can all get better cars, better houses, free health care, and a free college education. And our corporate-controlled media companies tell us to smile and ignore the men behind the curtain.

Wake up. Wake up! WAKE UP!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Yargh, Day Two!

Still a big bunch of meh behind my eyes. YARGH! Day two. I don't know what the hell happened to my motivation. Or my mental energy levels. But I'm dragging ass horribly. Trying to psyche myself up. Find some kind of second gear and go from there.

Got this plan to bang out a couple of lingering issues. Going to try and make some progress on them each day until they're complete: One, consolidate a couple of old 401K accounts into my current provider. Dos, knock out an old car payment and consolidate my bills into one new car note for the Lightning Bug. Trois, refinance the house at a lower, fixed rate while the lower fixed rates are still good. If I can bang all three of those out, it will put a nice dent on my monthly bills and be a large burden off my mind.

Fortunately, I'm still motivated enough to get into the gym. Hit it hard, tonight. Back and biceps. Then a 30 min run that cut off 400 calories. Ended up sweating like a cold beer in August. Completely soaking my shirt. And helping my mood in the process.

Going to weigh in on Friday. Praying I'm closer to 200 than 205. Started around 217! And have gone as low as 201. Before Thanksgiving assaulted my waistline.

I need to bring the thunder. But there's no spark in sight. Have to find my inspiration, again. Maybe if I invoke her with an ancient prayer:
Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course, once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy. The man of constant sorrow!
Who else in the 21st century harkens back to Homer? I'm such a loser. Constant sorrow, indeed.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ho Hum

My motivation is currently Missing In Action. Nothing during the day. Nothing at night. Fortunately I'm still inclined to go to the gym. But otherwise all that has my attention are movies and books. Not writing, and not working on side projects that need my attention. It is all just: Ho hum. Quite an unusual mental low for me.

Had a massage today. That seemed to help. But not much. Have to find some inspiration. Get back on track.Find my mojo again.It is out there. Somewhere.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

MOVIE: Against The Dark

Once, when I was a young cook in a seafood restaurant, I spilled four hundred degree cooking oil all over my right foot. The dead flesh came off in ribbons. Which nurses has to briskly scrub it off, without any form of painkillers, until only healthy flesh remained.

Watching Steven Seagal's Against The Dark was even more painful than having my skin boiled off. I'll continue to carry scars for years from both wounds.

The movie is about a couple of black-garbed hunters (led by a bad-philosophy-rambling Seagal) that prance around boldly killing pseudo-zombies while angst-ridden teen survives struggle to survive the unexplained outbreak that has befallen their city.

The plot was ungodly trite, lacking anything even remotely original. The writing would have to aspire to be amateurish. Dialog and acting took turns proving which could be more juvenile, mediocre, and disappointing. Even the fight scenes were laughably pathetic. By laughing I mean, "It is funny that anything can be this craptacular and still be taken seriously by anyone involved in its production or release."

I could only stomach fourteen minutes of it before uncontrolled palsy-like shaking affected my hands and blue spots appeared in my peripheral vision.

I'm sad to say there are no redeeming features about Against The Dark. The fact that somebody took the time and spent money to create this mongrel turd of a movie speaks volumes about the state of Hollywood. Fortunately, it appears to have been a direct-to-DVD production and no theaters had to be sanitized after showing it. Unfortunately Blockbuster has a couple of copies stinking up its shelves. I've petitioned them to send all copies to Gitmo, to replace waterboarding.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

MOVIE: Boondock Saints

With the release of V2.0 pending this week, I thought I'd mention how much I enjoyed the original Boondock Saints. Not surprisingly, most folks missed the first one. Didn't make too many prime-time airings on SpikeTV. And the theatrical release probably lost money. However, it is something of a cult classic with a big underground following.

The movie takes place in the bowels of Boston. Lots of colorful accents to be found. The action revolves around the adventures of the Irish meatpacking brothers Murphy and Connor McManus and their quest to rid the world of crime and violence by killing all their local criminals. Along the way, they're joined by a colorful, opera-admiring detective (masterfully played by Willem Dafoe!) and the villainous fossil Ill Duce (in the form of Billy Connolly.)

The Boondock Saints is an extremely violent, bloody, profanity-filled flick. Folks sensitive to such elements should avoid it at all costs. I, however, loved it. Fairly original plot with unexpected twists. Unique writing and fantastic dialog (though most of that credit is due to the excellent use of vulgarities.) Enjoyed the action. LOVED every scene with Willem Dafoe. I even memorized the prayer and chanted it for a couple of weeks after I first saw it.

Fans of Pulp Fiction or Snatch will enjoy this. Younger couples who like to party would probably enjoy this. Kids should NOT be allowed within viewing distance. And it is well worth a rent. Can probably even be bought at Walmart for $5 in the Value Bin.

Monday, November 23, 2009

MOVIE: All The King's Men

Based on a 1946 Pulitzer-winning novel by Robert Penn Warren, and spearheaded by drawling Scamitician James Carville, All The King's Men had a big list of star-caliber actors and a lot of hype buzzing around it. Unfortunately I don't think it lived up to much (if any) of its promise. And it paled next to the novel.

The acting was impressive, especially Sean Penn's portrail of Willie Stark. Jude Law did a good job, too, but he was too pretty and needed to get his face messed up a bit. I also enjoyed the dialog. But the pacing often dragged. The plot could have shown more depth. And the conclusion could have been something other than underwhelming.

Don't think any couples would find it an interesting date flick. Kids won't dig it. But I think it would make for a nice rental on a slow night, especially if you can find it in the $2 bin at Blockbuster.

Days bleed into weeks

I blink and the days bleed into weeks. Suddenly I haven't written in almost a month. Fortunately, nothing big prevented me from posting anything. Just sheer laziness.

Hoping to pick back up on the productivity binge. Trying to knock out some major projects. Hope to keep up the activity in the gym. Made it four times last week and shooting for five times a week. Hope to continue the development of the non-profit. Doing more demos lately and almost done making The Lightning Bug street legal. And trying to spend more time with the family on the weekends. Enjoying the time with the kids while I still can.

Back to the regularly scheduled program...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Visit Tech-boy Liam

Hi people, this is Jon's son, Liam. I'm just welcoming you to visit my website at


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gym and then some

Feels oh so good to return to the gym. The clunk of weights on dusty matting. An old familiar routine. Music drowning out thought. Form over function. Shoulders and legs. Trying just a little more weight. And proving to myself that I really CAN do it. But why didn't I do all this years ago? Why do I enjoy it now and not then?

Anyway, I'm down to 201lbs. Sixteen to go, and I'm at my target. Will take me four months at my current rate. But I'll get there. I'm down from a recent weight of 209. And an all-time high of 217. Eat right. Stay active. Have fun. Simple formula.

In the meanwhile, trying to wrap up the Beetle. Ordered replacement shocks for the front. Trying to find a decent conversion kit for the brake drums. Gotta wrap up some dash stuff. And then we can call it complete. And it will be on to the next adventure. Also more waiting in the wings. Part of the "have fun," portion of the show.

Monday, October 26, 2009

MOVIE: The Brothers Bloom

Six word review: I almost wizzed myself with glee.

Long worded review: "Make way, make room, for the brothers Bloom!" Possibly one of the best flicks I've caught in a year, The Brothers Bloom is a globe-trotting, superficially light-hearted comedy about two orphaned brothers who spend their entire lives drifting from one grift to another, each more elaborate and risky than the last.

Phenominal writing. Excellent acting. Great direction. Spectacular scenes. And a plot that had me fooled several times only to pleasantly surprise me at the oddest moments. Every scene was a microburst of art. Take for example the bit-parts played by the character Boom Boom. She barely had any dialog. But what she didn't say and what she did do were much more entertaining than anything they could have written for her. There's the interaction between the brothers. The circular route taken by their grifting mentor. The attempt at love. The art of death. And a deftly tangled web of lies within lies that unfolds like an origami masterpiece of acting, naration, cinematography, and deception.

Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Would make an awesome date flick. Might entertain the late teens. And is well worth the price of a rental. Anyone who hasn't seen it should put it on their short list.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

6 and ohhhh. Seven Years Old. And Panini.

Long day of projects and good food and road trips and a Saints victory and the kids at a church fair and Cousin Alix's birthday party.

Six and ohhhh for the Saints. Seven years old for Alix. Meatball Panini for Jon.

A pleasant start to winter. Hope it sticks.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fire & Friends

Cindy has her own little clique of friends. Affectionately knows as the GNO. Girls Night Out. Friends of hers from church and school and even 20+ yrs ago when she was a wee lass. Over the summer they'd go out once every week or two and have drinks and talk and do whatever women do collectively to keep themselves sane. I dunno what glue holds them together.I try not to pry.

But, anyway, the GNO decided to have a cookout along with the husbands and the children. All of us together.

We bought spinach dip. Cindy told me to be social or else.

So the kids played then danced around the bonfires and tried to film a "Bob" movie. (A creation of Liam's that starts off with the best intentions and gets tangled along the way.)

The women sipped their drinks and talked amongst themselves. Probably made plans for future nights. And tried not to look at their children mere inches from burning to death.

And the men (Computer Goon Jon, Rocket Scientist Nicky, Pastor Andy, and Coach Jimmy) sat around the grill. Nursing beers. Talking about: Mississippi college football, the Catholic church accepting Anglicans, SpaceX launching Falcon 9, and electric cars.

The kids got over tired. The women cleaned up. And I put everyone to bed. Now, Cindy's asleep. I'm typing. And memories of that fire almost keep me warm.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Try again

Let's try again. Hopefully, everyone is well. Cindy was Nurse Cindy today. Liam was an active 4th grader. Meg was burning fireball of 2nd grade activity.

And I. Well. I was a computer goon. Again.

I do a damn fine Truffle Shuffle. Makes it just that much worse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Almost well...

Believe it or not, but I really don't like posting about negative health issues. Just seems to be a running theme for the past week.

Liam's better, but somewhat moody. Rocking his stand-up bass, though. Proud of the cool cat for that.

Cindy is somewhat better, but still (gasp) finding something to complain about. Perhaps much of it is valid (though overly dramatic) because she did get the heaves a couple of times. Mostly, she's mobile and trying to reign in the chaos.

I'm better. Ate two meals today. First time since Sunday. No real stomach issues, but still combating the fatique from the lowered diet.

Meg, however, stayed home. (I babysat and worked remote.) HER stomach was acting up. But she didn't toss anything and was sweat for me all day while I typed for hours. Hopefully she only suffered a minor assault and will return to school tomorrow.

Still a chance for a good weekend. We're crossing our fingers...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well. Well. Well.

Good news: Nobody threw up today!

Better news: Meg received an honorable mention in her 2nd grade Book Report project. We're all proud of her and especially her ungodly-sweet attitude of, "I'm moving up in the world!" If anyone needs a does of hope and sweetness, come visit Meg for a few minutes. The girl is the light that pulls us through our dark storms.

Best News: We're all (for the most part) in good health and feeling better. Not entirely "well," but close enough to return to almost normal lives. Cindy's still lethargic. I'm still feeling something odd in my stomach. And Liam had a bit of an off day. But it is all better than we've been feeling recently. Well. Well. Well!

Hopefully, can have a good weekend and celebrate the kids' victories in some special way. Just have to make it through the rest of the week, first!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sick. Sick. Sick.

Now the pox that descended upon Liam on Friday has found me. And it isn't pleasant. I ached everywhere. Wracked with fever. And a brick sitting in the pit of my stomach all day. Aside from swapping my car for a rental (so my car could get repaired,) all I did was groan and writhe in bed all day. I pray it passes through by tomorrow. I don't want a second day of this fresh hell.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What's A Phoenix

I'm putting Meg in her own bed. (Our usual routine.) I have her in my arms and she tells me, without opening her eyes, "That's the phoenix I put in my pocket."

Cindy asked, "What's a phoenix?"

I said, "Shhh. There's one in her pocket."

Litter Patrol

Finally returned to the gym. Chest and triceps. A three week separation. Probably put on the five or six pounds that took me six weeks to shed. But it felt good. Tried to run on the treadmill. But didn't have my music. Just cannot summon the proper spirit without loud, angry tunes distracting me from the fact that I'm lumbering along like a six foot version of Winnie The Pooh who would much rather be at home, eating honey and pondering philosophy.

Another beautiful day. Mid (or low?) sixties. Lots of sun. No rain. A kiss of breeze coming in from the Gulf. Meg and Liam decided to walk around the block, picking up trash. Litter patrol. So, off we went. Bags in hand. We'd stop and check out the debris. Talk about how paper breaks down over time, but plastic and styrofoam doesn't. We'd find cans and put them in recycling bins. Nothing too nasty appeared. Surprisingly little trash, actually. An odd chew toy. A plastic Snoopy figure. A great day to wander with the kids and try to make our own little dent on the world.

Cindy went to a wedding. I stayed home. She had a good time and took her neice, Darby. I didn't want to risk a vertigo attack and disrupt the festivities. My &@$!ing ear is beginning to ring. (Insert worried sigh.)

Instead, I ordered some pizza online and we watched the online status bar slowly glide from red to green as "Max" prepared it, put in the oven, then performed a "quality check," on our pizza before letting me know it was ready for pickup. God bless the interwebs! And then I met Max. Nice kid. Told me all about the system and how they're trying to eliminate half their calls but keep their same number of orders. Gotta love technology. Because now we've determined that calling in an order is for old people.

Good luck, Max. And good luck, newlyweds. We all need it. These days.

MOVIE: The Soloist

For me, the phrase "based on a true story" is as appealing as phrases such as, "I like you, but..." and "Are you going to wear THAT?"

The Soloist is apparently one of those. It's nicely written. Politically correct. Plump with "big names." Depicts uncomfortable social situations which I'll never experience. Supposed to make me feel good. And to put a big ribbon on the top of it, everything is (you guessed it:) based on a true story. A twisted, drama-filled, and light-on-the-facts true story. But it entirely depends on your definition of "true."

Superficially, it is about a Julliard cello dude, Ayers, who (approaching the first leg of a journey to fame and success) develops lots of schizophrenia and goes from the edge of the musical spotlight to the crap-filled gutters of Los Angeles. Amazingly (sense the sarcasm?) a local emo newspaper columnist, Lopez, discovers the crazed cello dude playing a dingy three-string violin and singing Zen koans in the of a litter-strewn park. An odd friendship develops. Ayers is given a second chance, but fails. Lopez takes it personally. And then kumbaya, we all hug. Oh, Hollywood is so good and telling me what is beautiful and right in the word. Pardon me while I find an abandoned third-world leper baby to adopt and name after a greek muse. That's how inspired I am by The Soloist.

Yes, the acting is good. The pacing actually worked. I enjoyed the bulk of the dialog and was quite find of Lopez' character. But it all feels like something I've seen fifteen times already. All too familiar and predictable. Like the reanimated corpse of ten other movies which roamed the theaters hungry for praise and shiney accolades.

Possibly a good dinner & a date movie. The ladies might like it more than I did. I'm predicting bored teens and nonplussed twenty somethings. But worth a rental on a slow night. Very slow, when nothing else in your Netflix queue is available, or Blockbuster has it on special for a $2 rental.

GAME: Section 8

Section 8 had potential . Time Gate (the developers) could have struck gold with this one. Instead they settled for the bronze.What they delivered is an interesting game: fairly good graphics spoiled by a extremely over-done plot. Quick gameplay and ruined by extremely stupid AI (even at high levels of difficulty). And immersive effects invalidated by an underwhelmingly short single player campaign.

Obviously, this is one of those games like Team Fortress and Counter Strike and such that are created for Massive Multiplayer communities. Bunches of over-caffeinated teens and twenty-somethings with headsets and snappy banter playing thirty at a time until four in the morning. For them, this is probably a good diversion from World Of Warcrap or whatever else MMORPG is currently trendy. But for anti-massive multiplayers like me, Section 8 is a sad disappointment.

Given a more creative team, this game could have been GREAT. It has the graphics and the fast-twitch gameplay. But the developers barely spent any time (if any) creating a believable story line. They came up with little (if anything) unique in the realm of sci fi. And the limited plot is so bad that the word trite is actually hyperbole.

I enjoyed the four or five hours that I played it. But, just as it started to get vaguely interesting, it skidded to a halt. It was like a really bad first date. And for me, there won't be a second with Section 8. I've already deleted it. Any for anyone NOT interested in the Massive Multiplayer element, I'd say skip it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

MOVIE: Shoot Em Up

I think this movie broke a new record for me: Shortest viewing ever.

Here is what I could gleam during the three minutes and seventeen seconds that I suffered through this vommit inducer of a flop: In Shoot Em Up, some dude named Smith delivers a baby in the middle of a firefight. 

I shut the film off at that point for several reasons including: 1) The initial plot is so horribly unbelievable that there was absolutelly no chance I would be able to swallow anything that followed, 2) Within seconds it violated my simple objection to one character being able to take on hundreds of enemies with automatic weapons, 3) The protagonist didn't reload between several thousand shots, 4) It was clearly an ultra hokey modern take on a "pulp" adventure.

I've heard from others that they consider it a "fun movie." I didn't. I didn't think the DVD would even make a fun drink coaster. I'm offended that it will eventually be used as land fill. Maybe teenagers will dig it if they've had enough Mountain Dew. Possibly a big hit with convicted felons and other incarcerated individuals who can either get frisky with their cellmates or watch this movie. But I'm not sure who else would enjoy it.

I'd advise everyone to treat Shoot Em Up like toxic biomaterial. I washed my hands twice after handling it.

The Battle At Beauvoir

Today marked Fall Muster @ Beauvoir. (Historic estate of Jefferson Davis. (President of The Confederacy.))All able-bodied Rebel soldiers were requested to report to the battlefiend for a re-enactment just after lunch. Meg, Liam (who is feeling much better, thank-you-very-much) and I went while Cindy attended a wedding luncheon of a friend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

MOVIE: Life Is Hard In Cracktown

WARNING: This movie is not for the weak of heart. It contains graphic depictions of just about every deadly sin and may even invent some new ones. Absolutely no one should allow children or nuns to watch Life Is Hard In Cracktown. Not safe for work. Not safe for teens. Not safe for expectant mothers. Keep all of the above away. And write me and say I didn't warn you. You're officially on alert.

Life Is Hard In Cracktown is an over-lapping series of vignettes about tough characters in tough situations in a tough neck of the woods. Based on some mid-1990s short stories from writer-director Buddy Giovinazzo, I couldn't relate to much (if any) of it. But I appreciate the struggle of people to get out from under a seemingly over-whelming situation.

I don't want to go into too much detail about the actual story. It was easy to follow but hard to stomach. Especially the sub-story involving a little boy and girl close to my kids age. Very emotional stuff. Powerful. In the end, it left me even more appreciative of my life and what blessings I have.

The acting was phenominal in places. A touch over-done in others. The plot was loosely held together by the brutal realities of Cracktown but wasn't entirely believable at times. Exceptional writing. Buddy Giovinazzo did an excellent job of bringing his stories to life. And the pacing was done very nicely.

I wouldn't consider it a date movie. And (see above) the viewing audience should be limited to strictly adults with an open mind and a thick skin. But for anyone interested in a dark tour through the roughest parts of town, they won't be disappointed by renting Life Is Hard In Cracktown.

All Better But One

Susan is better. No continuation of her issues and hopefully a quick followup should take care of her. Hoping for the best. She's a tough ol' redhead, too. Probably same genes Meg has. Two generations later.

I'm better. No obvious remains of that golf ball rolling around in my side. I'm hoping whatever was lodged in there is gone for good. In theory, I'm getting back in the gym tomorrow. I've been out for three weeks, while working on the car. My last session was awesome, benched 220lbs and did 170lbs on flies.Gonna pick up slow and try to drop 10lbs between now and Xmas.

Liam however, had a bad day. Stomach virus or something. I'll save the gory details but suffice it to say Cindy cleaned up this morning and I ended up cleaning my CAR before it was all done. He was completely out of comission the entire day. Hopefully he'll be better tomorrow. Would be nice to have a normal weekend together. 

Sears Coupons for Updated Daily on One Project Closer

I wanted to let everyone know that my good friends over at One Project Closer have started maintaining a complete list of Coupons for Sears that includes just about every online deal on the market today.  The list frequently features coupons for 10-20% off major appliances, and every once in a while they'll have a 35% off deal.  If you're in the market for a new appliance, lawn and garden tool, or new craftsman tools, you can't go wrong stopping by One Project Closer's list first.  For the last 2 years they've been maintaining a list of places to pick up Lowes Coupons for 10% Off, so this was a natural follow-on.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dance By The Light Of The Moon

Some days you get the bear. Some days the bear gets you. The bear and I are still deciding the outcome for today.

Started with an unusual experience. Not long after trying to go to sleep (note I said "trying") there came an odd sensation much like a golf ball rolling around in the left side of my abdomen. Fortunately, it wasn't painful. Unfortunately it was extremely uncomfortable and I kept rolling onto it. And I barely slept for long without waking and thinking, "What the hell?" Over and over, hour after hour. Fairly sleepless night. And an exhausting day to follow. If I'm lucky it is a known condition and a diverticuli has formed, which can be resolved by some simple meds. If I'm not lucky, it is something else and I'll have to go on a quest for a solution. We'll see how that goes.

My Aunt Susan went to the hospital with some problems of her own. They sent her back without much guidance and suggested she keep an eye on everything then return if the problems continue. Um... WHAT? How about finding a cause for the problems she's reporting? That's my chief beef with "modern medicine," it wants to fix the symptoms of a problem, but not the actual problem. Anyway, hopefully Susan makes a graceful recovery.

Found out that Cousin Stephanie is three months pregnant. Her first. Much rejoicing and we're all happy for her. She has a nephew that she is GREAT with and another on the way. So I think having a child of her own will be much easier now that she has some experience with babies. And I know her parents are thrilled to have another grandchild in their lives.

Both kids brought home stellar report cards. Honor roll stuff. Much better than I ever brought home. Very proud of both of them and have to figure out something special to do with them this weekend. Maybe a quick jaunt over to NOLA for the aquarium. Some treat to show them how much we appreciate their work and their efforts. Something memorable for all of us.

As I am winding down tonight, a storm rolls through the neighborhood. Cold and angry. Stirring up the trees. Knocking on the door. I step outside to see what is going on. Stars behind thin clouds. Tiny drops of rain touch my neck. I tip toe down the sidewalk. Everything still and wet between gusts of wind. Finally a taste of fall weather. Get to leave August behind. And while the house is sleeping, I dance by the light of the moon. Might as well do it while I can.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fire Wall

Odd attempt at sleep last night. Didn't go as planned. Made for a long morning and a late start. Japanese food and solar talk for lunch. Planned for a PC recycling program afterwards. Then off to a parenting session with Cindy to get our game plan formulated. Followed by an emergency wrestling match with a firewall. Peanut butter sammich and a phone interview for an article to conclude.

More of the same tomorrow. All my days filled with fire. Burning to the horizon. I feel uncomfortable slowing down. I'm not used to silence. Or moments of peace. Plans to make. Hearts to break. As I slouch toward Bethlehem.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


There were boats in the bayous last night. Like row boats. Except they were sunken. Small abandoned things fishermen would use. Lumbering only partly submerged. Four years and some change in those thick Southern waters. Floating wounds. Unhealed since Katrina. How long will they drift out there? Do their owners know they are there? Or even miss them?

My forehead is almost done shedding. All new skin under the dry, ruined burns. Keep thinking that people are staring at me. Checking out the after-effects of my stupidity this weekend. I'll bring sunscreen next time.

Received an eBay package today. Craftsmen flexible, racheting wrenches. Metric ones. An eight piece set. Like Aaron has at his shop. Spooky how I covert other men's tools. And I'm jonesing for a hand-held, battery-powered "autohammer." But then I'd need something to nail. (Wow, that sounds covertly dirty. Then again, I am talking about power tools.)

Had lunch with my father and my brother, Jason. First time in almost a year since we sat together in the EDR. Dad came back for "orientation" yesterday. He's "training" with Security, today. Odd to see him wear the same kind of uniform my mother used to wear. Dad got tired of hoisting groceries. So he made a successful return to the property. Employee of the year. Fire patrol during the rebuild. Bellman briefly after re-open. Then a short stint as an engineer before the second (or third?) round of layoffs caught him. But the old man doesn't give up. And he spent more time saying "Hey!" to old friends than actually training, today. Welcome back, Pop.

Otherwise, a productive day at the office. A quiet evening with the family. And now the house is sleeping.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where's The Weirdo

That was a long, arduous adventure. We "finished" the Lightning Bug around 0200 last Wednesday, the 7th. There are still about two dozen items on the "To Do" list, but the vast bulk of the work is done. We made it show worthy and then sent it on its merry way. I'll write about all that some other time. Probably retro-enter the updates in the coming days.

Today, my face is peeling like a dry-rotted mummy. My father returned to work at the Beau. Cindy had a new garage door installed. And I survived a storm encrusted trip to the bayous of NOLA in order to sooth an ailing firewall and jumpstart a dead server.

Good to be back.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New Things

It's like a biblical Genesis over here at Chateau McDougal. So many new things for all of us that I have trouble keeping up with them.
  • Liam is rocking the stand-up bass. Totally digs it and is able to pick out notes by ear. I think he has some undeveloped musical talent that we need to try to hone. He's also getting adventurous with foods (tried ribs, pulled BBQ beef, and says he puts lettuce & a tomato on his burgers!) And we're trying out Boyscouts to see how he likes like nature vs technology.
  • Cindy is giving thought to getting her Master's in nursing. She's got my support all the way. And she's experimenting with some crazy diet tricks which today included a "spinach smoothie." Not sure how far that will go, but I'm proud of her for making the attempt.
  • Meg is Meg. A bright, searing ray of sunshine that brings me unequaled happiness each and every day. If God put a happier, dancier, singier, more vibrant and beautiful girl on this Earth, I have never met her nor do I think such an equal exists. She's got jazz and ballet this year. And she owns my heart. 
  • Me? Too many projects. The Beetle is devouring me. Got the wrap lined up today. Found a NEW guy to do the AC. Seats are done. Body work is coming. Lights and mirrors are due soon. Computer arrives on Friday. And I might have a day off in late October. Thankfully, I'm feeling better, sleeping somewhat better, and eating much better. But I'm running my machinery in the red all day, every day. And I hope I don't throw a rod before I reach the finish line. I see it on the horizon. Finally.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Beetle Build - Brake Lights

Aaron recessed the rear brake lights on the beetle. My idea. His implementation. A match made in automotive heaven. Roger is going to wire them up so the two center lights are solid, for brakes, and the two outer lights flash, for turn signals.

First picture (click to enlarge) gives a good idea of the placement. Second picture (click to enlarge) is a closer view.

Aaron also used fiberglass compound to join all the different body parts and they'll be one smooth piece by the time he's done sanding and painting.

Love that wide, fat-bottom look!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Kids: Liam just registered an 11th grade reading level. He's in 4th grade. He was the first kid in the whole school to hit his "reading goal." Which he accomplished in two weeks. And he's currently leading everyone in the number of earned points. Meg just registered a 6th grade reading level. She's in 2nd grade.

Health: My odd Meniere's semi-attacks from a couple of weeks ago subsided. I'm fairly sure it was fallout from the wreck. My neck and shoulders were all gimped up, possibly pulling me off to one side. And my inner ear didn't like that. Been back in the gym the last couple of weeks. Shoulder is good. Cardio is improving. Down three pounds since I started. Trying to hit my fighting weight of 185. At this pace it could be November. Just in time to put it all back on for the holidays.

Work: Looks like another year of dodging bullets from the weather and The Man. Today marks my "official" four-year anniversary. No cards or pats on the back. Just another day in paradise. Those of us left are glad to have a paycheck.  Hopefully we (the collective "we") are on the road to recovery. Or at least we've hit a bottom and can cruise along at current levels without any more layoffs. We always have hopes.

Projects: I only have five weeks to finish the Beetle. So many loose threads coming together. Upholstery. Body work. Graphics. Dashboard. Trying to get a slot at Cruising The Coast. May have to formulate Plan B. Haven't had a day off in almost a month. Won't have another until late-October. I pray the juice is worth the squeeze. Else I risk a further stream of "I Told You So" from my bride. But no risk, no glory. And I'd rather burn out than fade away....

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Catch Up

My, my, my. How time flies when you're up to your eyeballs in so many projects you struggle to count them all. Not to mention the kids starting school. A return to the gym. The black plague falling upon us. Hurricane season. A crapped out lawnmower. Spider bites. Addictive science fiction novels. And HD tv. You blink and two weeks streak past your tired old eyes.

Time to catch up.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Not sure what bomb threatens to blow behind my eyes, but I feel each painful tick and tock as it counts down to an unseen zero. It distorts my vision. Affects my balance. Even throws off my posture.

Survived a major upgrade at work. And two power hits from a massive thunderstorm. But couldn't workout. Could barely see straight.

Oddly enough, I'm not sure how much (if any) of this is being caused by my ear. It is barely ringing today. One of my better days, from that perspective.

Maybe it is the weather. Maybe the stress. Or lack of sleep. Or too much work. Hopefully it doesn't continue through the night. Can't handle too many days like this.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Night night.

Another crushingly long day. Usual adventures at the office. Then some time at the gym (abs and yoga.) Cindy's upset because I didn't come home early enough. Liam wants to play the cello. Meg is a glorious, radiant angel, the shining light in my long dark nights.The girls turn in early. Liam falls asleep on the sofa, his arms flying, his legs draped across the Ottoman. I try to turn in early, but read for hours and get upset about all the other things I could have been doing.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Long Day

Another one of those non-stop days at Chateau McDougal. After maybe four hours of sleep, I had to get up and wrestle with the kids to get them on schedule for school. Meg wanted to watch TV. Liam was having stomach issues. Fortunately they made it to class on time. Grandma has a sucessful check on her heart. Jason has an adventure in Jackson, MS. Trying to talk my father into prolotherapy for his back. Usual suspects at The Office. Chest and triceps at the gym afterwards. Non-stop calls for the other projects. BBQ place was closed. Quiznos was closed. More calls. Had a discussion with Liam about the importance of school. Learned the results of Meg's recent tests. (Hint: WOW!) Fixed the new monitoring box. And then a whirlwind of Debian updates on The Mothership, resulting in a cool install of EHCP (thanks to Brother Ron!)

Seventeen hours later, I'm winding down for the day. Everyone else is asleep. I'm catching up on the DVR. And I'll get maybe 4 - 6 hours of sleep before starting all over again. Love these long days.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

20 Ways I Use Math

First day of school. Cindy returns from her trip. And Liam surprises me by saying, "Daddy, YOU have homework!" with a chesire grin stretched across his face. Seems like he enjoys putting me to work!

So I thought I'd share the outcome of my assignment:

Twenty Ways I Use Math Each Day
by Jon McDougal
  1. In the morning, to quickly figure out how many more minutes I can stay in bed before affecting my chances to be at work on time.
  2. On the way to work, to divide my miles per gallon into the cost of a gallon of gas so I know how much I pay per mile. Then multiply that cost by the number of miles I drive to work, so I know how much I spend just to go to work.
  3. On the way to work, to guestimate out how long it may take me to get there on time, based on the traffic density on HW90.
  4. If I’m possibly running late, I have to calculate how much faster I have to drive in order to make it to work on time.
  5. If I’m possibly going to be early, I estimate how many extra minutes I can chill in the car while listening to old 1980s heavy metal music.
  6. At lunch, I subtract the cost of the meal from the amount I’m paying to sure I don’t get ripped off.
  7. At lunch, to multiply the cost of the meal times 15% so I know how much to tip. That is, if the service is good! If the service is bad, I have to use my math skills to get the value of a 10% tip.
  8. At lunch, to figure out what portion of my recommended daily caloric intake is being used by all the fatty, fried foods I’m eating. (Have to save some calories for dinner!)
  9. At lunch, to figure out how many spoonfuls of sugar are in the drinks or cookies I really want to have, but don’t end up getting them because they contain enough sugar to feed an entire class of fourth graders.
  10. After lunch, dividing the cost of the meal into my hourly pay to determine how much of my day has just gone into my belly.
  11. During work, to multiple the numbers of big computers I have to upgrade by the time it takes to do the upgrade and get a sum of the total time I have to spend on that one thing.
  12. During work, if a big computer blows up, I have to figure out if it costs less to replace it or fix it. So I multiply the cost of having no computers for an hour by the number of hours to fix it versus the cost and time it takes to replace it. Once I know which costs less, I know which way to go.
  13. During work, if I have to make a choice of doing something very disruptive during the day or doing it late at night when I should be sleeping, I multiply the number of people affected at the time by the amount of yelling each person is going to do. If the amount of yelling is less than amount of time I have to spend working on the issue after-hours, I do it during the day. If too many people are going to yell too loudly, I do it at night.
  14. After work, when deciding on asking Mommy to cook or just buying some food, if the amount of drama I am going to receive by her cooking exceeds the cost of me buying something, I buy it. If she is in a good mood, though, don’t buy.
  15. After work, add up the time each kid needs to spend getting ready for bed and then making sure they start soon enough to double that amount of time and still get to bed when they are supposed to be in bed. If they are early, that is a bonus!
  16. After work, add up the number of times I have to ask kids to get ready for bed without yelling. Once the number has reached three, the yelling must begin.
  17. After work, use simple math to add the amount of time it usually takes each child to fall asleep to the current hour so that I know when to go and turn off the lights, TVs, and video games.
  18. On the weekend, figure out which activities result in the most happiness for the least amount of money. Movies? Bowling? Renting something? Always get a maximum return on my investment.
  19. On the weekend, determine the amount of time I have to spend working on projects before Mommy lets me do something fun.
  20. On the weekend, subtract the age of the children from 18 so that I remember that I only have a few more years to enjoy their company and affections before they run off to college and start calling me for money.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Double Digit Dude

Last day of summer vacation and Liam is officially a double digit dude. He turned ten today. And isn't looking back on his first nine years.Cindy is up in Jackson, MS, at a Nurses' Conference. But we are all celebrating at the gym.

Lisa Mooty's daughter was born today. Obama marked his 48th birthday. And racer Jeff Gordon's celebrated as well.

Onward and upward, little dude. You'll get there before you know it.

Monday, August 03, 2009


A day filled with adventures for several lady-folk,
  • Cindy departs for a two day event in Jackson, MS. Nurses thing, she says. Break from the norm, I says. Glad she has some time off from us and I can spend more time with the kids. 
  • My friend Lisa is having her first child. If everything goes as planned, her baby and Liam will share August 4th as their birthday.
  • My old college friend, Meredith, looked me up on Facebook. We haven't spoken in more than 15yrs and I'm excited to catch up with her.
  • Meg, my baby bear, was recently accepted into the gifted program. That makes it official: the kids got their intelligence from their mother. Hopefully my sense of humor rubs off on them.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Recovery & Dad's Kitchen

Thankfully, I don't appear to have sufffered too severely from yesterday's collision. My neck is stiff and I can feel something different, but it doesn't HURT. And no affect on my range of movement. However, in my experience, it could take a couple of days before the damage comes into the light. I'm happy, but not overly hopeful. On a good note, I slept great last night and took a surprise nap after lunch. Great energy levels. Fairly good mood, too.

Following my unexpected nap, I went to Dad's house. Renovating his 30yr old kitchen. New counter tops. Thankfully, not granite. So we were able to demo the old counters and put the new ones in place without too much trouble. A first for both of us. But it went surprisingly well. And he was happy with our handiwork. So I spent time with the family and was productive at the same time. Always a good way to end the weekend.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Collision

I saw the truck stopping in front of me. Applied my brakes. Stopped in time. But I wasn't expecting the collision. Supposedly she locked up the brakes and skidded into me. I couldn't say otherwise. It was over so quicly that I barely registered the hit. And I didn't realize I had been thrown into the truck in front of me.

The drive was out of her car in a flash. Running up to my door yelling to see if I was okay. Actually, I was pissed. My initial thought was, "You didn't see me stopped in front of you?" But her concern quickly erased my negativity and I said I was okay. How about her? She was fine.

And immediately pulled out her cell phone to call everyone except the cops: her dad, her mom, her brother, her friend with a tow truck.

The guy in front of me called the cops. I checked out all the vehicles. The one in front wasn't damaged at all. His trailor hitch had sucked up the impact. And subsequently pierced my front bumper. (A red arrow marks the hole in the second photo.)

Meanwhile, it looked like the girl had actually gone somewhat UNDER my rear bumper (scraping it all up (red circles in the third picture) and threw me forward into the first guy. Her car took most of the damage (first photo.) Her hood was buckled. And we couldn't believe her airbag didn't deploy.

Nobody was hurt. That is all that really matters. Car parts can be replaced. Necks and spines can not. I was able to drive home without any problems. And I hope I don't wake up tomorrow to feel differently, but right now I feel fine. We'll see what tomorrow has in store for me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ever Give A Man A Foot Massage?

Two thousand percent better, now. Paid a visit to my favorite (and only) massage therapist: April Straight. She righted all my wrongs. Cured my woes. And rubbed my toes. (Maybe not in that order.)

Suddenly, the world is golden and all is right in the world. Ready to start my week... even though it is already... Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gray Crone

I'm going to switch back to working out first thing in the morning. More juice in my veins when it is early. Good all morning, today. And unexpectedly hit some odd wall after lunch. A gorilla bodyslam of a headache descended upon me. My energy level dropped. Couldn't see straight. The gimpy ear tried to stage a rebellion. Disrupted my wabi sabi. Made me feel like an old gray crone.

Couldn't work out. Headed up and balled up on the bed for a couple of hours. Eyes closed. Blinds drawn. TV droning in the background to distract me.

Almost back to normal. But not happy with the defeat. Need to break this rusty cage, and run.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Congrats To Mr & Mrs Hall!

Still waiting on photographic evidence, but I did receive a semi-official text from the proud groom that Kim & Neena are officially Mr & Mrs Hall, now. Congratulations, old chum.

Once more into the breach!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Catching Up.

Cindy and the wee ones are in Atlanta, GA. Visiting old friends and Miss Irene, their first babysitter and pseudo Grandmother. I'm left behind. Flying solo. Mainly catching up. On missed sleep. On missed movies. Missed music. Stayed in bed. Late. Worked out. A welcomed break from the norm. But I'm eager to have their voices and their laughter in the house. It's too quiet without them. I'm too old to fly solo.

Friday, July 10, 2009

MUSIC: The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die

According to Wikipedia:
Invaders Must Die is the fifth studio album by the electronic act The Prodigy which was released during February and March 2009 on the band's new label "Take Me to the Hospital". The album was distributed by Cooking Vinyl. It is the first studio album released by the band since 2004's Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned and is the first Prodigy album since 1997's The Fat of the Land to feature all three members of the band.
 According to Jon:
Invaders Must Die is a bombastic jam fest that goes super nova behind the eyes and turns the grey matter to a thin quivering paste. Thundering base. Obscure vocal strings. Aggresive beats. Everything one expects from The Prodigy
Crazy good CD.  Thoroughly enjoyed it. Will keep it in the rotation. Any fan of their former CDs will dig this one. No doubt.

Movie: Pathfinder

Pathfinder is "an untold legend" about Vikings landing on American soil and wreaking havok for generations on the Natives, until one of their own sets things right.

I liked the setting. Very dour mood and continually overcast. Also liked the "costumes," especially the antagonist Vikings.

The rest was passable, at best, and steaming fecal matter the remainder of the time. Really trite plot. Flimsy writing. Completely impossible and unbelievable elements. Boring pacing until the last scene. And everything saturated in layers upon layers of blood, torture, and physical abuse. Very odd combination of stunning visuals, craptastic storytelling plus over indulgent gore. Posibly a micro genre of its own. Hopefully it doesn't catch on.

Wouldn't suggest it as a date movie. The kids might like it, if only to see the crimson waterworks. Not a good choice for a rental. I should have waited to see it on SpikeTV for free.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Life With The VIrus

It has been a month since Conficker moved in with us. Lots of rah-rah meetings. Everybody monitoring and watching everything everywhere. Cleaning. Patching. Rebooting. Oh yeah, we're good and everything is coming along nicely.

Except Mister Conficker had other plans. Found new vectors. Suddenly started infecting new servers that had never been infected previously. Slammed the phone lines with calls after hashing out a bunch of new account passwords.

How did this happen? So far, nobody knows. And we're a month into this relationship. With no sign of an eviction in the near future. Might as well get used to life with the virus.