Saturday, May 31, 2008

In Which I Become Slightly More Of A Geek

To preface this post, I'd like to mention for the sake of repeating myself that I am quite possibly one of the geekiest people you will ever meet. There are many things that I do for fun that most people would consider strange. Like researching the technical aspects of different cell phones, even though I have no interest in purchasing them. Or reading hardware manuals for an old laptop I have so I know how to take it apart and put it back together again and have it still work. Or browsing the pages of for interesting technology news. In addition to all of that, I have come across something in the past few months that takes me to a whole new level of geek.

When searching for ways to manage the statistics of my blog, I came across Google Analytics. It seemed like a pretty simple means of tracking this site, so I placed a string of HTML code on the front page of my blog, and let it do its thing. I had to give it a few weeks to gather enough information to report, and during that time I forgot all about it. Until today.

Let me just say that I Google Analytics is the Internet version of Geek Heaven. Upon logging in, I was presented with pie charts, line graphs, and percentages galore. I can see how many people visit my blog each day, which posts are the most popular. I know now that 75.8% of my site traffic comes from other blogs, with only 22.93 % coming from people directly entering the URL to get to me. Only 1.27% of visitors came to my blog from search engine results.

I also know that the average time people spend on the site is two minutes and forty-four seconds, and each visitor reads on average 1.54 pages. Out of all the people who come to my blog, 61.78% of them are returning visitors, while 38.22% are new visitors. Out of 157 total page visits since installing the tracking code, 147 visits were from people within the United States. The remaining ten visits were from the United Kingdom (3), the Philippines (2), and one each from Norway, Singapore, Canada, Spain, and Grenada. I average 5.06 visits per day, and the words I've written have been viewed in four different languages.

Another neat feature to GA is being able to see a comparison between my site and other sites of similar size. Basically, its a way for me to know how I stack up against others, which is good to know for the sake of my ego. I am far above the benchmark for page views, visits, and time spent on the site. I am below the benchmark for average number of pages read by visitors, and the average number of new visitors.

The post with the most individual views is the cigar-smoking-whilst-dreaming episode. Next would be the dish-vermin story. Despite this, 86.72% of visitors remain on the front page of the blog.

If you are at all curious as to what brings people to your site, and want to get all these lovely statistics for your own blog, I would highly recommend Google Analytics. All the information is presented in a very easy-to-read manner, and it really satisfies a large part of the geek in me deep down inside. I'm sure there are other programs that one could use that get the same data, but GA pretty much rules the world. Or at least my world.

Friday, May 30, 2008

In Which I Go To The Laundromat

Until we moved into our current apartment in April, The Boss and I lived lived in a very small town. No traffic lights or grocery stores, and only one gas station. There is a stretch of sidewalk on Main street, all 800 feet of it. It was a nice quiet town and we loved it there, despite nothing being open past 8:30pm.

We now live in the next town over. Its a little bigger, and people actually recognize the town name instead of saying "Where's that?" when they ask you where you live. For the record, there are two traffic lights, three grocery stores, and four gas stations, and just about everything is open until at least 9:00pm. We even have a movie theater, but as far as I can tell, there is only one landromat.

I don't like laundromats. They can be a scary place. We used to live in the city, and walking into the laundromats there made you feel like a female college freshman walking into a frat house. As in, you stood a fair chance of getting raped or hepatitis within the first five minutes of being there. Sadly, there are no laundry facilities in the apartment building we live in, so once a week I make the trip to the laundromat in town.

The building is relatively new and clean, and its just a few blocks down from where we live. The people that work there seem nice enough, if just a little bit eccentric. But, if I had to spend eight hours a day watching clothes spin around in metal drums, I suppose my mind would teeter on the edge of insanity, too. Everything is well lit, and I don't feel scared for my wallet or my health upon arrival. I am a bit of a regular there now, always going on the same day, and using the same washers and dryers.

Being the only laundromat in town, the types of clientele varies greatly. After being a customer there for almost two months now, I'm pretty sure I've seen every type of customer possible. Generally speaking, the people that frequent the facility are nice, at least polite enough to smile back when I smile at them. There are always some sour grapes, like the mother with seven children, all of whom are running around and screaming. There is the guy who looks like he hasn't seen the inside of a shower or bathtub in 13 years, washing 29 pairs of ripped jeans and three pairs of socks. There is the old couple, sitting quietly in the back with their legs crossed reading different sections of the newspaper. Lastly, there is that one person sitting near the door that you catch staring at you, and every time you look at them they quickly look away. I'm in and out of there as quick as possible, generally within 1.5 hours. Twenty seven minutes to wash a load, thirty minutes to dry, and the rest of the time folding. I have it down to a science now.

There is this one woman who works there that I try my hardest to stay away from. She always seems a little strung out, with her wiry hair all disheveled and moving about as she gestures wildly while talking. Her eyes are always opened really wide, like she is in a permanent state of surprise. She has this peculiar method of marking the dryers in order of which lint traps she needs to empty, and will explain it to anyone who will listen. She walks around with her pant legs tucked into her socks, too. Which is strange for someone I've never seen on a bike.

Needless to say, I keep to myself whenever I'm there. Mostly because I'm not a highly social person when I'm alone. Also because I find it awkward to be holding a conversation with a relative stranger while I'm folding my underwear.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Which I Get My Ears Lowered

At the end of my last post, I promised that I would write something worth laughing about. Well, if you enjoy laughing at another persons expense, than this post is for you. Just don't piss yourself from laughing too hard.

After putting it off for over a month, I got a haircut today. It was long overdue, especially now with the weather getting warmer and warmer. For the past few weeks I have been forced to wear a hat while out in public, because the shaggy, unruly crop of hair I had growing made me look slightly homeless. My sideburns had been getting a little out of control, too. Between the two, aesthetically at least, I fit in quite well with the country folk who live in this town. Except I have all my teeth and don't smell like I just bathed in used motor oil and mayonnaise.

When my hair gets as long as it was today pre-haircut, it takes on some pretty strange formations while I'm sleeping. I can never re-create such masterpieces, but I suppose that not being able to reproduce the "Nick Nolte Mug Shot" look is a good thing. At any rate, after shuffling into the bathroom this morning, I was greeting by an unusually bizarre morning hairdo. I decided to take a few pictures: (removed)

I don't normally look so terrible, but I thought this would be good for a laugh. Let me remind you that this was five short minutes after waking up, having not showered or shaved yet. I had most of the day to wait until my appointment at the salon for my haircut, which passed by uneventfully.

My haircut appointment was at 2:30. It never takes very long, and true to form I was back in my truck and headed home before 2:45. I like the lady who cuts my hair, because she doesn't talk a lot and isn't all too much older than me. I tip her three dollars each time, because I'm a nice guy like that.

Here is what I looked like afterwards: (removed)

I look like a completely different person, don't I? And also much less funny to look at than the "before" picture. I kinda look like a pansy now, but I guess its better than looking like a serial killer. I should be due for another haircut in two months or so. My hair grows like a freakin' Chia Pet, I kid you not.

At least The Boss will be okay being seen with me in public now.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

In Which I Have A Long Weekend

Just about everyone I know is enjoying a long weekend due to Memorial Day on Monday. Both of my parents have a three-day weekend, The Boss has a four-day weekend, and if I had any friends I'm sure they'd be enjoying a long weekend, too.

What about me, you ask? I'm not so lucky.

I worked yesterday from 7am to 6pm. Saturdays are the busiest day of the week, and yesterday was nothing short of a tightly scheduled eleven-hour trip to hell and back. I have today off, but I'm helping set up the campsite for the camping trip The Boss has arranged with her female co-workers. There will be much cursing and sweating involved.

Tomorrow I have to work from 6:30 to 5:00. Having to work on a holiday where I'm employed is nothing short of pure chaos. Apparently all of the grumpiest, pissed-off, and hormonal pisshats decide to forget to refill their maintenance medications, or ignore the fact that their kid has been sick for two weeks, and all call in on a holiday when the doctors office is closed. That's my fault, right? Because they sure make it out to seem that way.

I'm not normally so pessimistic. The only thing that will get me through my shift tomorrow is the knowledge that I get extra money per hour to work due to it being a holiday, and my entire shift will be overtime. So that's works out to be an entire shift at $18 per hour, which is nothing to complain about. Except I still will, to anyone and everyone who will listen.

Despite my having a long weekend of work ahead of me, I hope all of you have a chance to spend time with family and friends. Drink a beer (or two) for me, and have a happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Friday, May 23, 2008

In Which I Am Truly More Boring Than I Seem

Yesterday, Heather prompted me to write a little bit more about myself. I guess I have subconsciously omitted certain things, being too focused on writing about Sudoku and cigars and dirty dish-vermin to pay any mind otherwise. I'm aware of it now, and my excuse as to why I haven't mentioned certain things is that I feel I am my own worst subject. There has got to be more interesting things to talk about than myself. Despite this, I'll answer the questions Heather had, and go on to talk about a few other things...

  • I am married. Our two-year anniversary is coming up in June, but we've been together since late 2004. I've been trying to find a way to incorporate her into my blog, but I have yet to come up with an adequate nickname for her. Until I come up with something better, or until she forces me at knife-point to change it, she'll be known around these parts as "The Boss". We get along famously, but that might change once she reads this.
  • I work for a call center company that provides an answering service to doctors offices, hospitals, and insurance companies. As mentioned before, I perform all parts of my job from my home office. I've been with the company for 1.5 years. Before my current employer, I've worked as a hotel maintenance technician, loss prevention officer, and a warehouse laborer.
  • My favorite color varies depending on its application. For cars, its black. For clothing, its either blue, grey, or maroon. For paint, anything neutral. I dislike the colors orange, lime green, yellow, and all shades of pink.
  • I overcame my irrational fear of toilets by age seven. I'm still spooked by them at times, but only the nuclear-powered "destroilets" that roar like a jet engine when you push the flush handle, or the auto-flush models that randomly flush themselves when you walk by.
  • I am most comfortable in a pair of jeans or shorts, and a t-shirt. I prefer sneakers to sandals, and I wear ankle-length socks year round.
  • I have had some form of facial hair since sophomore year in highschool. It took me almost an entire summer to grow a goatee, and sideburns quickly followed. I added on a mustache to complete the look in 2004, and other than a mishap with my beard trimmer two winters ago, I have been without my baby face ever since.
  • When I was 15 I had an accident with pool chemicals that badly damaged my corneas, and I have had to wear glasses every day since. Having chlorine and algeacide explode into one's eyes is not a comfortable feeling.
  • Despite an on-going war between my sense of balance and the world, I have managed to never break a single bone in my body. I have, however, torn the ACL in my left knee, sprained my right wrist twice, concussed myself numerous times, nearly ripped my left ring finger clean out of its socket, fallen down a flight of stairs on my ass, and sustained various cuts or wounds that nearly put me in the hospital from aggravated infections.
  • I have an unnaturally high tolerance for pain.
  • I dropped out of college after two years, where I was pursuing a degree in Music Composition.
  • I wrote an arrangement of The National Anthem that my former highschool still uses.
  • I hate it when people pass me when driving. I'm not sure why.
  • I drove through parts of New York via the George Washington Bridge last year. I have never been so scared for my life when driving as I was then.
  • I have never received a speeding ticket, or been pulled over for any traffic violation.
  • I oink at police cruisers when I see them driving around town.
  • The Boss and I have one cat, named Noir. She is all black and extremely neurotic. For some reason, she likes me more than The Boss. We got her (the cat) on Halloween.
  • I am more of a dog person than a cat person.
  • I thoroughly enjoy camping. I can build a kick-ass campfire.
  • I drink more water than anyone I know. I also pee fairly frequently.
  • I am a folder, not a crumpler.
  • I think farts are one of the funniest things on this earth.
  • I can sing every word of every song from eight Weird Al Yankovich albums.

Combined with other posts written previously, that should be enough to quench your thirst of knowledge about me. I am always open to questions, so ask away if you've got a burning desire to know more.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Which I Am Neurologically Challenged

There is a part of my life that I have not written about in this blog. It's nothing dark or scary or deathly serious, but it is something that has been a part of who I am for the past year. I've refrained from mentioning it thus far, not being sure if I wanted to expose something that is so personal on the Internet. After some thought, and stemming from my previous post, I've decided to talk about it.

Since June 2007, I have been suffering from a neurological disease that causes involuntary leg and arm movements. These movements happen mostly while I am sleeping, thus greatly reducing the quality of sleep. I do have the movements during the day, but they are much less severe. It can be described as a violent stiffening of the muscles, resulting in a kicking or punching motion. To clarify, it is not restless leg syndrome. Since the onset of these symptoms, I've also been experiencing short term memory loss, slurred speech, and some loss of motor skills.

After a few months of having these symptoms, I saw a neurologist that specializes in movement disorders. He ordered a number of different tests to see what is going on behind the scenes. I've had a sleep-deprived EEG, an MRI, blood work, and a 72-hour ambulatory EEG. The only thing that they have found thus far was from the results of the MRI. They found what is called Grey Matter Heterotopia.

Simply put, I have a small, extra piece of grey matter (the part of the brain that processes information) located in a place where only white matter (the part of the brain that relays information) should be. My neurologist speculates that this "extra brain" is causing certain nerve signals to misfire, causing the movements and the other symptoms. There is no known cause for this, and as of right now, there is no cure. I have an appointment in July with my neurologist to talk about what the next step will be. The condition I have is rare enough where much of the treatment options are trial and error. There are plenty of medications that I can try to control the symptoms, but until I reach a diagnosis its recommended not to be medicated.

So, here I am almost one year later, still seeking an answer. What I have is not life-threatening, and I'm very grateful that I'm not stricken with anything worse. But, as you can tell by my post yesterday, my constant lack of good sleep is really beginning to take its toll and it is getting harder and harder to function normally. I'm tired of having to look at my work schedule three times an hour because I forgot what time I begin or end my shift. I'm tired of dropping things on the floor or having difficulty with tying my shoes because my fingers won't cooperate. I'm tired of having to repeat myself because my speech slurs uncontrollably at times. I'm tired of waking up so completely exhausted that I struggle for motivation to complete the most basic of daily tasks.

While there are many reasons I chose to write about this, the primary reason is that it feels good to talk about it. It is therapeutic for me type this all out, because it reassures me that I'm not making all of this up. Part of me is a little scared as to what the future holds, because all of my symptoms have worsened since they began, and they seem to be getting worse still. The other parts of me are intrigued to find out what is in store for me, because its entirely possible that my testing and treatment experience is paving the way for others who have what I have.

Either way, I'll take everything as it comes... One day at a time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In Which I Desire Change

As with every morning, I woke up today confused. Confused by how it could possibly be time to get up. Confused by how old I feel, despite being a few months shy of my twenty-third birthday. Confused by that even with nine hours of sleep, how I can still be so incredibly tired.

I wake up purely and honestly exhausted. It's more than just wanting to stay warm under the covers. It's more than hitting the snooze button a little harder each time it goes off. It's more than a few cups of coffee or an afternoon nap can fix. The exhaustion I feel is a physical thing. I feel it in every joint and every muscle, my body already begging for rest before I even swing my legs out of bed. I can even feel it in my fingers as I type this, struggling to make it through my first day back at work for the week.

Everything seems so fragile today. I feel tears lining my eyes, teetering on edge and ready to cascade down my cheek at a moments notice. I crave sleep like my body craves air when I'm underwater, out of breath and my pulse pounding in my ears.

I have felt this way for so very long.

Today is day 355.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

In Which Houston, We Have A Problem

There was quite an interesting phenomenon occurring at the Badass Geek household over the past couple of days. What started with a few dirty dishes in a neat pile in the sink, progressed quickly into an impressive, mountainous pile of them, occupying every square inch of open counter space. The rate at which these dishes reproduced was stunning, quicker than a horny Catholic couple with a genetic history of twins. Armed with a suppressed gag reflex and a notepad, I went in for a closer look.

Upon examination, I noticed there was a large degree of variation within these creatures. The population consisted mostly of round, flat objects, seemingly paired with a number of thin, elongated metal structures with sharp tines or blades affixed on the end. Strewn among them was a series of shallow, container-like devices, most of them host to different colored liquids. Standing near the edge of the counter was a handful of tall, clear, octagonal shaped creatures, most with a crusty, milk-colored residue at the bottom. I assumed that these elegant creations at one time held liquid. Lastly, I made note of the largest of the species; two massive beings, made of thick, heavy metal. They seemed similar in formation to the container-like creatures, but in lieu of liquid was a large amount of a black, char-like substance on the bottom inside surface.

A rancid smell became apparent during my investigation. I quickly ascertained that there were varying levels of cleanliness among this species. Some of them, presumably after eating their meal, had been properly rinsed. Most still had remnants of their prior meal, indicating either laziness, impatience, or both. The thin metal structures seemed to have played a vital role in the slaying of their food, as most of them were still covered in the blood of their last kill.

Not wanting my entire household to be overrun by this rampant species, I quickly searched online for suggestions on how to get rid of the vermin. The most obvious suggestion was a device called a "dishwasher". Although it seemed fairly easy to use, not requiring certification or a license prior to use of it, I did not have the disposable income for such an elaborate tool. I pressed on to find a manual method, and I was discouraged until I found this article. In step-by-step form, it explained how to methodically clean and rinse all of the unwanted inhabitants with a special soap and a sponge. Apparently the dishes would not simply clean themselves.

Other articles I found online said to use "old fashioned elbow grease" if any of the dishes proved harder to clean than others. After searching in vain for it at all the local hardware stores, I began to think it was not a real product. My suspicions were confirmed when I asked for assistance in finding it. The store associate laughed, and when he realized I was serious about my inquiry, advised that the product does not exist. I was angry at being misled, and made a mental note to fire off a complaint e-mail once my dish problem was resolved.

Back at home, I followed the dish washing instructions as closely as I could. Sure enough, before long the pile of dirty dishes gradually became smaller. Other instructions I found online recommended that after washing the dishes, to let them dry and store them carefully in cupboards or on shelves. Confused by this suggestion, I read on to find that it is best to retain the dishes for future use. Being an avid supporter of recycling, I complied. Fortunately I had a few empty cupboards available, and placed the dishes inside, organized by type, size, and shape.

I did notice one side effect from the cleansing process. Once the last dish was cleaned, I noticed that the skin on my fingertips and hands had become wrinkled and prune-like in appearance. I could not determine if there is any danger associated with this, although I am assuming there is none. The symptom disappeared within 30 minutes, and no other side effects have presented themselves thus far.

From start to finish, the entire ordeal took just over two hours. I suppose if I had spent less time analysing the problem, I would have been done with the project much sooner. I learned that daily cleansing of the dishes will prevent them from multiplying and spreading into other areas of the kitchen. Apparently, only if left un-attended will the population expand uncontrollably. The experience as a whole was both exhausting and informative. I have implimented a daily dish-washing program to prevent a future outbreak.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see if I can find an Elbow Grease vendor somewhere online.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In Which I Go See A Doctor

Ever since I've been responsible for my own health, I have been reluctant to go to see a doctor for anything short of an emergency. I don't like being lectured on problems that I'm already aware of, and I hate it when doctors automatically push medication as means to fix everything. I strongly dislike taking any type of medication, even for something as simple as a headache or a cold. Much to my chagrin, something came up yesterday and I had to bite the bullet and go see my doctor.

Yesterday morning I noticed a painful bump on the inside part of my upper left arm. When I touched it there was a little bit of discharge, and pain instantly began to spread into the rest of my arm and shoulder. I watched throughout the morning as redness spread around the bump on my arm, and soon enough the area had grown to a silver-dollar size. Normally extremely tolerant of pain, I found it very difficult to move or lift my arm, and breathing in deeply sent a sharp pain into my shoulder blade. By noontime, the pain was severe enough where I had to leave work early.

I called my doctors office and made an appointment. As it turns out, the bump is an infected hair follicle. The discharge I saw earlier was the pus draining out of it, which saved me from having it lanced open in the exam room. Its a fairly common thing to have, I guess. The one I have is just a little bit more angrier than most. I left the office with two prescriptions, one for antibiotics and the other for pain medication patches. Apparently if its left untreated, the infection could spread and lead to other, more serious problems.

Today, the bump on my arm looks a little better. The pain has subsided some, but is still annoyingly present. I'm experiencing some side effects from the antibiotics that are typical, but nonetheless unpleasant (I won't go into any details, but lets just say I've spent more time on the Throne than I'd like to). The pain patches, while helping with the pain, give me a metallic taste in my mouth. It feels like I have a mouthful of blood, which is turning my stomach a little bit.

I'll be on antibiotics for the next ten days. I feel a little bit like a vampire, with my mouth tasting like blood and all. I can't help but mention that the bump I have looks like a nipple, though. At least there is some humor in all of it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Which I Talk About Embarassing Things

The past five days have passed all too quickly, and during the whirlwind of the weekend and days off, absolutely nothing happened that could be labeled as "interesting" or "blog-worthy". I knew I'd have to write something, because I didn't want anyone to think (based on my last post) that I indeed went crazy and was placed in a Mental Hospital. I am proud to say that, no, I am not in co-habitation with the elbow-lickers or people who follow invisible flies down the hallway, trying to catch them with their fingers. I came back from the teetering edge of insanity by taking deep breaths (and screaming cuss words as loud as I could), listening to soothing music (Metallica or Disturbed works well), and going for a drive (with the windows down, screaming aforementioned cuss words and listening to aforementioned music at near-eardrum-bursting volume levels).

Even though I am more relaxed now and thus less likely to commit a felony, I found myself still lacking sufficient material for a proper blog entry. After some thought, I figured I might as well dig down into the metaphorical bag of embarrassing "First Time" events in my life. First date, first time driving a car, first alien abduction... you get the picture. I'm going to keep this idea as a recurring theme, because I'm frequently stricken with mental constipation.

Today I'm going to talk about My First Girlfriend.

Due to the fact that I was homeschooled and only at the public school every other day, I was not largely popular in high school. I considered it a good day if even my teachers knew my name. I was also a huge band geek, which probably didn't help my apparent case of invisibility with the ladies. It was mid-way through the first month of my sophomore year when I heard a rumor that some girls were talking about me. During marching band practice one day one of the color guard girls handed me a note, saying one of her friends asked her to give it to me. To this day I cannot accurately describe my reaction, but I will summarize with saying that until I had a chance to read the note my heart pounded furiously with nervous anticipation as to what it might say. When I finally had a moment alone to read it, my thoughts and hopes were confirmed. Someone liked me!

For the sake of her privacy and risk of humiliation for un-earthing her past dating history, I'll refer to her as First Girlfriend. She had long brown hair, and I had always thought she was cute. Both of us were very shy, and we maintained a majority of our conversations via intricately folded sheets of notebook paper. I typed my notes to her on the computer first, giving me a chance to proof-read what I wrote before I put pen to paper. We sat together on the bus to marching band competitions, and on the days where I was at the public school we sat together during our lunch period and met up in between classes. Even though I was quite the wordsmith in our notes, I had absolutely no game to speak of. More often than not, I was too shy to even hold her hand.

Shortly after we began dating, she asked me to the Homecoming Dance. Even though I was horrified of dancing, I agreed to go (this is also my First School Dance story. Two for one!). I honestly remember very little about the dance. I'm pretty sure I stepped on her toes at least 47 times during the first slow dance, and we sat awkwardly on the bleachers for most of the time after that. I must have asked her if she was having a good time every 12 minutes, and I probably asked her if she needed any fruit punch or snacks with just as much frequency. Luckily I had a curfew and was able to escape after a couple of hours, but I agonized over how much of a tool I was for a few days afterwards.

First Girlfriend and I dated from October through April or May that school year. For the entire duration of our relationship, we never spoke on the phone. I agonized over what to get her for Christmas, and struggled even more as to what the appropriate gift for Valentine's Day would be. Other than the school dance, we never saw each other outside of school, mostly because my parents had a rule that I couldn't date until I was 16, unless it was a double-date. I'm not sure what they were worried about, but I guess they didn't want me to running around sowing my wild oats. Being 15, I wasn't thinking about sowing any oats, or doing anything at all with anything anatomically located between my legs... I was more focused on not tripping over my feet or otherwise being a bumbling jackass around First Girlfriend, much less other girls.

Eventually, the combination of parental overbearance, my lack of courage, and plain old lack of proper communication led us to agree that it wasn't working out, and we decided to go separate ways. For my First Breakup, it wasn't that bad. I had gained experience and knowledge of the fairer sex, which for a teenager struggling to grow facial hair was worth more than gold. I would apply what I had learned to my next relationship, which would yield my First Kiss.

More on that later.

Friday, May 9, 2008

In Which I Go Slightly Crazy

Back in August of last year, I was given the option to work from home by my employer. At the time there was a lot of inter-cubicle drama going on, so I jumped at the chance. They gave me the equipment I needed and sent me home, and I've worked my forty-hour work weeks from home ever since.

I enjoy working from home. It gives me a quiet, comfortable environment to be more productive in, and I don't have to deal with the high-power executives that refuse to learn the names of the cubicle monkeys who work their asses off to pay their salary. There are more distractions that I have to deal with, but being able to fart or belch at any given moment makes it seem worth it. The only downside that I've come across with working from home is that I tend to go slightly stir-crazy after not leaving the house at all during my work week.

Today being the second to last day of my work week, I'm getting a quite restless. To avoid reaching the state of needing a padded room, I try to do things to focus my mind off of the fact that I haven't had truly fresh air in 72 hours. Alas, there is only so much Sudoku one person can do in a day (and you all know that Sudoku makes me a little crazy to begin with).

This is the most I think I have the attention span to write today. I will write more later, if I can sit in my chair long enough to do so.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In Which I Realize I Truly Am Out Of Shape

Despite what the title of this post implies, I have never truly been "in shape". I've always been in varying stages of "out of shape", also known as "husky", "big boned", or the non-politically correct "fat". Even though rigorous outdoor activities generally make me breathe through my mouth, I still like getting outside and enjoying nature. Much like I did yesterday.

I spent most of the day yesterday exploring various sights at a state park. It was very beautiful, with waterfalls and massive gorges everywhere you looked. Getting to some of the scenic spots involved climbing up on some rocks and clutching to the railing for dear life. I am deathly afraid of heights, but its not often that one can look down into a gorge that was carved over thousands of years by glacial melt water. I snapped a few quick pictures, and backed away unsteadily. I found it interesting at how quickly a 400-foot drop and a roaring waterfall can cause vertigo.

We stopped and marveled at some other sights along the trail that wound upstream before the waterfall, and drove a few miles up on the road to some other sights in the area. On the drive home, I became aware of the pain in my ankles and the fatigue in my legs. Other than swollen ankles and a minor sunburn, I survived the day with no major injuries. I did sustain a scratch on my forearm by an errant tree branch. It apparently had a personal vendetta against me, but I fought back and broke that fucker right off.

I chuckle to myself now when I imagine what I must have looked like to others at the park: An overweight guy in shorts, camera bag hanging around his shoulder, breathing hard and sweating, awkwardly climbing about on the rocks like a toddler just learning how to walk, smiling and pointing at the waterfall like a fucking tourist. Luckily, I lost my sense of pride when I vomited during class in the sixth grade.

Once you've thrown up recognizable pieces of fruit snacks and a bologna sandwich in front of your peers, there is no going back.

Friday, May 2, 2008

In Which I Dream About Smoking Cigars

At least once a week for the past couple of months, I have had a recurring dream. In this dream, I start smoking cigars. I find this very strange, as I've never smoked anything in my life before, nor have any desire to begin smoking.

The dream always starts out the same. I'm in a convenience store, walking towards the register with my items. While waiting in line, I notice the racks of cigars and cigarettes behind the counter. As I give my items to the cashier to ring in, I ask for a package of cigars. I pay for everything, walk outside and fire up the cigar with a Zippo.

I looked up what this dream could possibly mean, and I got two different answers. Apparently, a dream in which one is smoking suggests that the smoker is trying to hide his or her feelings. Conversely, a cigar signifies control, power, luxury, and masculinity. I suppose those two things would go together, but not easily. And even then, I'm not sure how this dream applies to me. I learned long ago that nothing good comes out of hiding my feelings. I sure as hell don't have any power or control over much in this world. I can easily vouch for my masculinity, but luxury? Luxury to me is two-ply toilet paper.

Part of me has always wondered where the appeal to smoking cigars lies. Another part of me has wanted to see what smoking is like, just for the sake of life experience. Eventually the practical part of me shows up and kicks the other two parts of me in the mouth for even considering it. I have had numerous family members die of things related to or caused by smoking, and I would be foolish to even consider it.

I wish I would stop having the dream. Quite simply, its boring me.

Besides... There are plenty of other things to dream about.