Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In Which I Wrap Up 2008

Looking back at it now, 2008 was a roller coaster year for me.

Although you won't find any posts in my archives about it, I started out the year battling some pretty heavy personal demons. Tired of struggling alone, I realized that I desperately needed a place where nobody knew my name, so I started this blog. I wrote dozens of posts about what I was struggling with, but in the end I never actually published them. Just the act of confronting myself enough to exorcise those inner demons was enough to get me through those difficult months.

After I turned that corner, I started to write. I didn't care who read it, or what they thought of what I wrote. It felt good to write for the sake of writing. It was like self-inflicted therapy. I was very lonely during the first quarter of the year, and writing in this blog gave me something to work for, even if it was just for myself. Lucky for me, though, that didn't turn out to be the case. Fate led me to meet some amazing people during the spring and summer, and those people would later be the one's that would help save my life.

In August, my world as I knew it came to a screeching halt. After a visit to my neurologist in late July, I finally came to terms with what was going on with my neurological state. After living for over a year with the thought the best doctor's in my region had no idea what the source of my problems was, I was told that there is a possibility that I might have an inoperable brain tumor. All the worries, negative thoughts, and pure, cold fear that I had been pushing to the back part of my mind finally came to a head. In every sense of the word, I broke down. For months, despite the appearance of mental stability that I tried to show to others, I lived as the shattered version of who I used to be. The crushing, crippling grip of anxiety controlled my life.

The post I wrote where I first mentioned my anxiety didn't even touch the surface of what I mess I was. One moment sticks out in my mind the most. I remember sitting in the middle of my bed, with all the lights in the house on. It was hot indoors, yet I wrapped myself in as many thick blankets as I could find. I sat there, knees to my chin and my arms wrapped around my legs, checking the time on my cell phone until it was finally time when The Boss would be out of work. I spent 45 minutes that way, opening and closing my phone to check the time ever thirty seconds. With each passing second, I became more and more scared. The fear and anxiety was paralyzing, and I couldn't pull myself from it. I was scared that I would lose control and hurt myself. I was scared that I would lose resolve and give in to the thoughts of running away. My mind was in shambles, and I felt I couldn't do anything to save myself.

I sought help from my doctor, and with medication and support from my family, I slowly began to improve. It was a rough trip back up from what I called The Bottom, but the most vital part of my recovery was the support that I had from my readers on this blog. When I finally wrote about my anxiety on this blog, the outpouring of support and empathy that I received from the relative strangers that I had formed a bond with over silly stories and anecdotes was stunning. Knowing that I mattered that much to these people, who only knew me through the jumble of words that sometimes are worth a laugh, and to those to whom I am just as much of a stranger to, was enough for me to realize that there was something worth getting better for...

Myself.

I'm not going to tell you that I am 100% better, as my struggles with anxiety remain just as much a part of my life now as it was then. The difference is that I know how to control it, and I know that I have the support and love from those around me. That makes enough of a difference to allow me to return to as much normalcy in my life as is possible.

---

The reasoning I promised for the questions I asked with Monday's post is because music was a major lifesaver for me during the worst part of my anxiety. Whenever I started to feel like I was losing control, I would put on some music and just let myself drown in it. So many different types of music was influential in my surviving this past year, so I wanted to know what music was important in your lives.

Here are my answers to the same questions I subjected you all to earlier:

1) What was your favorite song 10 years ago?

The only music I was allowed to listen to ten years ago was Christian music, but "What Have We Become?" by dc Talk still sends a powerful (non-religious) message. (If you follow the link, please pay attention to the music, not the video.)

2) What is your favorite song now?

My favorite song now is definitely "All Nightmare Long" by Metallica. Just listen to it. You'll see what I mean... Unless you don't like hard rock or metal music.

3) What song (or songs) do you feel best represents who you are?

I didn't realize how tough this question was until I tried to answer it. I'll be vain and say one of the songs that I wrote for solo piano, "Upon Summer's End". Out of all the music I have written, I consider this to be my best. Take a listen, and while you are at it, check out some of my other music:


4) What song have you heard recently that you had forgotten you really liked?

It used to be my favorite song, but this definitely has to be "Slither" by Velvet Revolver. The video for this one is kinda strange, unless you like skinny, drunk and/or chemically enhanced (I'm assuming) long-haired musicians.

5) If your life in 2008 could have a theme song, what would it be?

"Run" by Snow Patrol. It's a couple of years old, but with all I've been through this year, and all The Boss and I have been through, the lyrics in this song speak so loud to me.

---

With as much sincerity and compassion as I can muster without getting too sentimental, I thank you all for being with me throughout this past year. I am serious when I say that I don't think I would have made it through if it wasn't for you.

Here's for a great 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

In Which I Rock Out

I've got some questions for you, my readers. Feel free to answer the question that most applies to you, answer all of them, or answer none of them at all... Whichever you prefer.
  1. What was your favorite song 10 years ago?
  2. What is your favorite song now?
  3. What song (or songs) do you feel best represents who you are?
  4. What song have you heard recently that you had forgotten you really liked?
  5. If your life in 2008 could have a theme song, what would it be?

My reasoning for asking these questions will be revealed in a later post. Thank you for your input!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

In Which I Let Myself Down

Once every couple of months, The Boss will pack up her overnight bag and spend a few nights at her parents house. We live pretty far apart, and since they don't like to travel, we don't get to see them very often. The Boss is an only child, and she deeply misses the connection she had with her parents when we lived closer to them. When the pain of missing them becomes too great, she'll come to me and ask if it is okay if she goes to visit them and stay overnight. I always say yes, so I'm not sure why she feels like she has to ask for permission. She is nothing if not a "do-what-I-want-when-I-want" kind of person, but in this regard she always checks with me first.

She asked me earlier in the month if she could go visit her parents this weekend. I, of course, said yes. And so begins the quarterly ritual of packing the overnight bag with clothes, toothbrush and toiletries, and a pillow. She'll rush out the door, late for work, only to run back inside to grab that one last thing that she forgot. This weekend was no different, enough so I actually stood inside the doorway with the item she always forgets (her slippers) for when she would inevitably come back in to get them.

I am not excluded from the routine of these visits. Whenever I know that I'll have the house to myself, as any young married guy would do, I become delusional and think of all the things I can do with my (temporary) freedom. My mind races with the endless possibilities, enough so I write things down so I don't forget. On a wrinkled scrap of paper, you'll likely find the following things scribbled hastily:
  • I can burp and fart and not say "excuse me" afterwards!
  • I can rent a porno!
  • I can (gasp!) masturbate!
  • I can smell up the bathroom and not be chastised for leaving the door wide open and not using the air freshener afterwards!
  • I can stay up late and drink beer!
  • I can eat unhealthy foods and destroy all evidence of it before she gets home!
  • I can leave the peanut butter jar out on the counter!
  • I can drink milk right from the carton!
  • I can watch "Die Hard"!

I'll review and tweak the items on the list throughout the day while at work, fine-tuning it so I can make sure I accomplish the important ones first. After all, whenever there is an extended period of time where there is no wife (or girlfriend, if that is the case) around, one must establish certain priorities, as there often isn't time for everything.

As I mentioned before, I am not exempt from the routine of The Boss' visits. No matter how much planning and effort I put into my Quarterly Bachelor's Night, I always wind up asleep on the couch at 9:15, drooling out of the corner of my mouth, with the Ghost Whisperer herself Jennifer Love Hewitt on the TV, lazily translating a conversation from a dead teenager to his grieving mother. I'll wake up at some point later in the evening, and realize that I didn't accomplish a single item from the list. No consumption of beer, no watching of porno's, no overeating on unhealthy foods. I'll then get up from the couch, put away the leftover macaroni and cheese, empty out my glass of water, and go to bed.

The only thing that makes this weekend different from most of the times that The Boss goes away is that she is staying over for two nights, instead of just one. Since I'm given a chance to redeem myself, hopefully I'll make good on at least one of the items from the list. I think I have a good idea on which one's I'll tackle first, just to get them out of the way.

What kind of things do you do when your spouse or significant other is away?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

In Which I Give You All A Present

I was going to wait until next month to post this, but I figured this would be the best Christmas gift that I could come up with on such a short notice.

I hope it fits...

---

Short Story Thursday, Part Three

(Editor's Note: Like before, if you haven't read Part One or Part Two yet, please read them for context before continuing. Also, when writing this part, I didn't stick to the 500-words-or-less rule, so this post will be a little lengthy.)


Five hours earlier…

“See you on Monday, Boss!” Aubrey called out from the front office. His voice, cracked from years of heavy smoking, was loud enough to carry through the thick walls into Adam Marshall’s back office. Aubrey Greene was Adam’s best friend, project manager, and co-owner of Marshall Construction, the area’s largest commercial and residential construction company. Adam and Aubrey were well known for their television commercials, and they enjoyed being the face of their successful business. After all, it allowed both of them the luxuries and comfort they could once only dream about.

“See you, Aub!” Adam called back. He leaned back in his chair, rubbing his tired eyes. He had just turned down Aubrey’s offer to go on a fishing trip to Moosehead Lake. As nice as cold beers and a few days on the lake sounded, the increasing pile of paperwork on his desk demanded his attention. Susan, his assistant and office manager, was out on maternity leave.

“I’ve got to give that woman a raise,” Adam muttered under his breath, and surveyed the mountains of paper in front of him. I had no idea of the amount of work she takes care of. The clock on the wall chimed loudly, announcing 5 o’clock. Adam carefully placed another handful of documents on the corner of his desk, and turned on a small television in the corner to a local news station for some background noise.

“… Local police are asking for your help tonight, in the search for the leader of the area’s most notorious crime ring, Samuel Bennett. Although Bennett has never been indicted, he has been linked to several high-profile crimes around the state, including the death of Bangor City Council member Stephen Grant.” The video cut from the desk of Lola Diamond, the striking brunette giving the report, to footage of the grisly crime scene. Lola’s voiceover continued, “Grant, who was recently placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of his involvement as an inside member of the crime ring, was found dead in his home last Wednesday. Authorities released a statement earlier today announcing that, based on evidence found inside Grant’s home, Samuel Bennett is their prime suspect in the case. Police are also searching for Danny Joiner, a witness who claim’s he saw Bennett enter Grant’s home shortly before Grant’s estimated time of death. Joiner’s family reporting him missing on Tuesday, when he didn’t return home from work. Those with information about Danny Joiner or Samuel Bennett’s whereabouts are asked to call their local police.”

Adam turned down the volume, yet couldn’t take his eyes from the screen. It went on to show a picture of Danny Joiner, and then switched to footage of Bennett, walking out of the state courthouse after his last appearance. The jury couldn’t convict him on the arson charges, blaming missing evidence and the lack of testimony from key eyewitnesses, who had suddenly refused to take the stand.

I wouldn’t testify against him, either, Adam thought. Not after the last guy who was supposed to testify ended up having his jaw broken just a day before the trial was supposed to begin. Deciding that the pile of faxes and phone messages could wait until next week, he changed his focus to finishing his latest project proposal so he could get it to the courier before they closed.

Adam jumped, startled, when the phone rang almost an hour later. He picked it up before it reached the third ring.

“Marshall Construction,” Adam said flatly, distracted.

“Hello, this is Deirdre from Eastern Maine Shipping. I’m looking for Adam Marshall.” Country music was playing in the background, and Deirdre seemed to be aggressively filing her nails. Adam winced at both.

“This is he.”

“Mr Marshall, I’m calling to notify you that your shipment has arrived, but due to a logistics conflict, we won’t be able to deliver your shipment to the jobsite as promised.”

Great… A ‘logistics conflict’? I’ve got to change shipping companies.

“Okay,” Adam sighed. “The shipment isn’t that large, do you think I can pick it up from your storage facility?”

A pause.

“I suppose you could, Mr Marshall, but to fulfill our agreement we could deliver the shipment as early as Thursday.”

“No, I need the shipment before then. Do you know the dimensions of the package? I need to know what truck to bring.” Adam shuffled through the paperwork on his desk, trying to find the order sheet.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but I don’t have that information available. Our storage lot closes soon, so if you want to stop by to make your measurements, I’ll need to give you the gate code.” Deirdre seemed well versed at making that statement.

Adam looked at his watch; it was now just a few minutes past 6:00. “Alright, I’ll do that.” Finding that goddamned order sheet in this mess just isn’t going to happen until Sus gets back. “What is the gate code?”

“Your shipment is in section two, and the gate code is zero-four-one-seven.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Adam hung up the phone before Deirdre could say anything further. After a long week and a frustrating day trying to find the top of his desk through the paperwork, her voice sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Freshly filed nails, Adam thought with a grimace.

He put the finishing touches to the proposal and sealed it in an envelope. He stood up and switched off the TV, tossing the remote on top of his still unorganized desk. I’ll just have to come in early on Monday to finish this up. Adam patted his front pockets to make sure he had his keys, and then his back pocket for his wallet. He turned off the lights to his office, and pulled the door closed. After making sure the entire building was empty, he set the alarm and exited out the front doors. With a light pull he tested to make sure they were locked and then headed out to the parking lot.

“Hey, Adam!” a friendly voice sang out. Adam turned to see Ellen, the only female employee that worked alongside the rest of the guys at the jobsite, walking toward him. “I was wondering when you were going to leave.”

“Ellen! I’m surprised to see you here so late on a Friday. What were you doing?”

“Oh, I was tinkering around with the engine of that old truck you keep back there for plowing the yard in the winter time. You know, so it actually starts this year,” Ellen said with a smile. The grease stains on her jeans supported her statement.

“That would be nice,” Adam said, and tried to look politely at his watch.

“Doing anything exciting tonight, Boss?” Ellen asked, her eyes glittering, eager. If she was trying to hide the fact she had a crush on him, she was doing so very poorly.

“No, not really. I need to get to the storage lot to measure the shipment that came in so I can pick it up on Monday. There was a problem with something and they can’t deliver it,” Adam said, frustration seeping into his voice. “So, I’m off to drop this off at the courier’s office, and then to the lot. After that, I’m not sure. It’s been a long week.”

Looking hopeful, Ellen said, “Would you like some company? I don’t have anything to do tonight.”

“No,” Adam said quickly. “I’d really like to just get this over with so I can go home.”

Disappointment replaced eagerness, but Ellen tried to hide it.

“Maybe next week, though. When things have slowed down a little.”

“Alright, Boss,” Ellen said, forcing a smile. “See you on Monday.”

“You bet,” Adam said, and walked quickly to his car. Any other night, Ellen, and I would have said yes. My nights have been awfully lonely, since Grace left. Adam pushed the thought of his recently ex-girlfriend from his mind, and pulled a large key ring out of his pocket. He drove one of the company trucks during the week, but always drove his classic Mustang home on the weekends.

The drive across town to the courier’s office took longer than expected, and the storage lot had been closed for almost two hours by the time Adam arrived. Not wanting to take his Mustang on the pothole-ridden surface inside the gated area, he parked the car outside the gate. The leaves on the ground scraped noisily as the late-November breeze passed through. Adam shivered, and noted that some of the security lights in the lot weren’t on.

Yet another reason to switch companies. This place is a dump.

He punched in the gate code on the lighted keypad, and waited for the chain-link fence to rattle open. With a small flashlight from his key chain, he walked into the lot towards the section where Deirdre had promised the shipment to be. Sure enough, the pallet of building supplies stood next to a half-dozen other pallets. He pulled out the invoice taped to the front of the pallet, and committed the dimensions listed to memory.

On his walk back through the lot, Adam tried to tune out all work-related thoughts. Maybe I should have said yes to Aubrey’s offer to go fishing… As much as I should get some work done at the office this weekend, I think a break would do me some g-

A gunshot cut him off mid-thought.

Adam fell to the ground and rolled to his right, hiding in the shadow cast by a large metal shipping container. Another shot rang out, echoing loudly in the cool night. Holding his breath and willing himself to be invisible, Adam reached into his pocket for his cell phone. He got to his feet and walked slowly towards where he thought the shots came from.

Voices carried on the wind as he approached the dimly lit back section of the lot. Adam walked quietly and in the shadows as much as he could, adrenaline surging through him. On the ground a few feet ahead of him, Adam spotted a black leather wallet. He nudged it open with his foot to see whom it belonged to… Danny Joiner.

Silently activating the camera function on his cell phone, Adam continued walking. Closer to the back corner now, he stood in the shadows next to the main building. He could make out the shape of a dark colored sedan. The security light overhead flickered on and off with a slight ticking noise, illuminating the area for a second at a time. Adam counted four people: two men holding a third man by his arms, and the fourth man stood a few feet away from them. He was dressed in a tailored suit and expensive looking shoes. He held in his right hand a large caliber handgun.

“Now I know I said I wasn’t going to hurt you, but you aren’t exactly keeping up on your end of the bargain here, Danny,” said the man holding the gun. He took a step closer, and the man being held by the others cried out in fear. Switching the gun to his left hand, he clamped his right hand over Danny Joiners mouth. “I fired those two warning shots in the air to show you how serious I am. Now, if you don’t start cooperating, I’m going to have to put the next bullet in your chest.” He released his grip on Joiners mouth.

Joiner took in a ragged breath. In the flickering light, Adam could see a dark stain in the man’s crotch. “You guys can go to hell,” he said defiantly. “I’ve already told the cops everything. If you kill me, you’re guaranteed to get life in prison.” He spit out the words as if they burned in his mouth.

“We’ll see about that,” the shooter said with a laugh. He raised the gun up, aimed at Joiner’s chest, and fired. The men holding Joiner let go of his arms, and he slumped to the ground. The shooter pulled a handkerchief from his suit jacket and wiped down the gun. As he handed it to one of the men, he kicked the lifeless arm of Danny Joiner away from him.

“Dump his body in the compactor over there,” he gestured with his thumb, “and throw the gun into the river. Let’s get out of here.” He turned and stared out into the dark lot. Adam thought with a chill that the shooter had noticed him hiding in the shadows. His heart raced even more now, with the murderer gazing into the shadows where he stood.

Just then, the security light above them flicked on, and stayed on. The brilliant light cast by the fluorescent bulb illuminated the lone figure of Samuel Bennett.

Frightened, Adam backpedaled, but slammed into the concrete wall behind him. His elbow hit a bank of light switches, and with a heavy thump the rest of the lights in the lot came on.

Adam stood still, exposed. Bennett squinted through the bright lights, and held up one hand to shade his eyes.

Move, damnit, MOVE! Adam thought to himself, and ran for the gate.

“Get him!” Bennett roared.

Adam was breathless by the time he reached the gate, and the heavy footsteps of his henchmen were close behind him. He climbed the chain-link fence, and stumbled to the Mustang.

A bullet struck the ground just inches from his feet. Another bullet sang in the air above his head as he ducked, grabbing for his keys. He jumped behind the wheel, slamming the door. With his hands shaking, Adam turned the key in the ignition, and the powerful engine roared to life. Punching the accelerator to the floor, he burst out of the parking lot.

Glancing over his shoulder, he saw the two henchmen standing behind the gate. Bennett was a few yards behind them, running. The taller of the two thugs raised the gun again and fired, but the Mustang was too far out of range.

At the gate now, Samuel Bennett ran his hands through his disheveled hair.

“Did you get the plate number?”

“Yes, Sir, we did. I’ll run the plate and get an address for you right away.”

Bennett placed his hands calmly in his pockets. With an expression that could only indicate pure evil, he turned on his heel and began walking back to the sedan. “Good.”

---

Adam’s lungs burned as he pointed the Mustang for home. For the first time in his life, he ignored the posted speed limit and drove as fast as he could.

What did I just get myself into?

---

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In Which I Sigh

Because I'm a fan of making inappropriate jokes, here are some sexual innuendo's fit to use around your niece and nephews, great-grandmothers, and any member of the clergy you happen to see this Christmas:

"Have you been naughty or nice? Do you want my two lumps of coal?"

"Want me to slide down your chimney?"

"Do you a stocking stuffer?"

"Did you get your Christmas yule log?"

Since I'm also a fan of making fun of people, here is a list of popular Christmas songs, as sung by those with different mental disorders (my apologies... but these are funny):


Schizophrenia - Do You Hear What I Hear, the Voices, the Voices?
Amnesia - I Don't Remember If I'll be Home for Christmas
Narcissistic Personality Disorder - Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me
Bipolar Disorder (Manic Episode) - Deck The Halls And Walls And House And Lawn And Streets And Stores And Office And Town And Cars And Buses And Trucks And Trees And Fire Hydrants And...
Multiple Personality Disorder -We Three Queens Disoriented Are
Paranoid -Santa Claus Is Coming To Get Us
Borderline Personality Disorder - You Better Watch Out, You Better not Shout, I'm Gonna Cry, and I'll not Tell You Why
Antisocial Personality Disorder -Thoughts of Roasting You On an Open Fire
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder -Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
Agoraphobia - I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day But Wouldn't Leave My House
Alzheimer's Disease/Senile Dementia - Walking In a Winter Wonderland Miles from My House in My Slippers and Robe
Oppositional Defiant Disorder - I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus So I Burned Down the House
Social Anxiety Disorder - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate
Attention Deficit Disorder - We Wish You......Hey Look! It's Snowing!

Whichever you celebrate (or don't), I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Kwanza, or just have a Happy Thursday!

Monday, December 22, 2008

In Which I Change My Ways

I'm not upset to the point of throwing shoes, but the problems with the economy definitely are worrisome. We've made some changes around the Badass Geek household, but nothing really too drastic other than the tightening of belts and the pinching of pennies. And while there are plenty of (more reliable) information resources available for those looking to change their spending habits, I figured I'd make a few suggestions...

THE BADASS GEEK GUIDE TO SAVING MONEY...

... on Groceries:
  • No longer purchase brand-name products, as store-brands often offers the same quality at a lower price.
  • Sunflower seeds from the bird feeder can be a healthy alternative to pricey snack foods.
  • Complete your grocery shopping at the store's busiest time, and place the more expensive items on the rack underneath your cart's basket in hopes that those items will be unnoticed as you pass through the checkout line.
  • Save money on prescription antibiotics by purchasing old breads at the Bakery clearance section.
  • Although cutting them out can cause serious health risks from paper cuts, coupons can help save money on select essential items.

... on Household and Living Expenses:

  • Laundry washing can be reduced by wearing certain items of clothing (jeans, sweatshirts, etc) numerous times, to save on detergent and energy to run the machines.
  • Switch from crumpling to folding your toilet paper when using it, to maximize the surface area available for cleaning. Also, carefully consider how much each square of toilet paper is needed before using.
  • Tissues can be used for more than one nose-blowing occurrence, unless the dreaded "blow-out" occurs, or if there is an unexpected abundance of nasal discharge.
  • Save money on your electricity bill by installing generators run by steroid-injected hamster's on exercise wheels. Be sure to keep oil on hand for when the wheel gets squeaky.
  • Take advantage of natural human methane gas production for heating up your bedroom on cold winter nights.

... on Items of Comfort:

  • High jack your neighbor's cable TV and/or Internet service.
  • For local telephone calls, use high-quality tin cans and 100% cotton string.
  • Borrow your neighbor's Netflix DVD's after he puts them in his mailbox for return.
  • For those interested in adult entertainment, a pair of binoculars can be used to watch the amorous couple across the street. Binoculars are cheaper, discreet, and more versatile than subscriptions to online pornography sites.

... and Other Things:

  • Save on gasoline by hitchhiking as much as possible.
  • Empty soda/beer cans can be returned to retrieve their $0.05 deposit, instead of being crushed against one's forehead in displays of superior physical strength.
  • Check the Lost and Found bin at your place of work, for items that you could possibly sell for profit on eBay.
  • Keep a weather eye on the sidewalk and rain gutters for coins and other items of value that may have been dropped.

Please feel free to add your helpful money-saving suggestions by leaving a comment!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In Which I Fail

The following may or may not be a true story...

Here are some my other Magnetic Poetry posts, like this one, this one, this one, or this one.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Which I Have A Near Death Experience

Dear Novice Driver,

You probably don't remember me, but I wouldn't expect you to. Our interaction a few days ago was fairly brief, and I'm sure the memory of the incident didn't last any longer in your mind than you probably last at your peak performance during sex (does thirty-seven seconds sound about right?). Either you are severely impatient or you had more "important" places to be, but that doesn't justify your lack of regard for the safety of other's on the road.

Since I'm assuming you have no idea what I'm talking about, you are the asshole who nearly ran me off the road earlier this month. We were driving on Route 35, and I was the guy driving the green Ford F-150. You were in the tricked-out Honda Civic. The fact that you, a resident of the state of Maine, drive a lowered Civic with a body kit, on racing tires with huge rims, in the month of December, gives clear indication of your lack of foresight, but that is beside the point. My issue is how you thought it was acceptable to pass not just myself, but the two other cars behind me, while on a single lane road.

In my rear view mirror, I saw you pull out to the left of the car in front of you. I heard the sound of your car's puny engine as you floored the gas pedal. As the orange flames painted on your hood grew larger, I realized that you weren't passing just one vehicle. In a matter of seconds, you passed both of the cars behind me, and were soon close enough to me that I could see your flat-rimmed baseball cap (jaunted to one side) and the cigarette tucked behind your ear. With a motion as smooth as an epileptic mid-seizure, you swerved back into the right lane, coming within a foot of my front bumper. You suddenly slowed down, and I slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting you. Without even so much as a turn signal, you quickly pulled off onto another road, and were gone.

My first complaint is obviously the fact that you endangered the lives of three innocent people by your actions. My second complaint is that you broke numerous traffic laws, such as passing in a non-passing zone, exceeding the speed limit, and failing to use a turn signal. My third complaint is that a rail-thin, wanna-be gansta white boy YANKEE'S FAN in a pimped-out-at-Wal*Mart Honda Civic nearly brought about my untimely demise.

Do you realize how difficult it is to get a two-ton pickup truck to stop suddenly, especially one with 500-pounds of extra weight in the bed? Do you realize that you could have caused a four-car pile-up by your impatience? Do you realize that by passing three cars, breaking numerous traffic laws along the way, that you got to your destination a mere thirty seconds faster than you would have if you had been patient? Was it really worth the risk? I guess you needed a different adrenaline fix, since peeking at your geriatric neighbor in the shower doesn't give you a thrill anymore.

I don't want you to think I am still angry at you. Sure, when this happened I swore at you, called you a litany of offensive names and gave you the finger, but I'm over it now. I realize that you were probably in a hurry to get home so you could make love to a tube sock. Maybe you were rushing to get to the post office to see if your penis enlargement pills had come in yet. I can understand being excited about those things, since I'm sure those are the only things you have to look forward to in life, but next time, be more careful.

To keep things fair, the next time I see you on the road I'm going to try to run you off into a ditch... Just so you can see what it feels like. Payback is a bitch, isn't it?

Respectfully yours,

Michael

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In Which I Commute

My employer, in their usual fashion of last-minute decision making, made some changes to my work schedule for this week.

Instead of working from home like I normally do, they are making me come into the office for my shifts, to help train some new hires. I've been spoiled for the past year and a half to be able to have a commute that involves me stumbling from my bed to my desk, so I'm trying hard not to complain. I know this probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but thinking about commuting this week is really dragging me down.

Why, you ask?

My commute will be almost two hours in each direction, and I have to start my shift at 6am each day. I won't have access to the Internet, so I won't be able to stay caught up on the goings-on in my blogging circle. And the worst part? I have to wear khaki's. This isn't really as bad as I'm making it out to be, but I'm a little fussy at being removed from my daily routine. Knowing that I have to get up at 3:30am each day is making me a little grumpy, too.

I lucked out on having to drive into the office today due to some snow in the forecast, so I'm going to write and schedule a few posts to publish automatically throughout the week. I don't want you, my constant readers, to think I'm forgetting about you. Just keep in mind that I won't be able to respond to comments until this weekend, at which point I also hope to get caught up on the posts I've missed.

And as always, feel free to save me from my boredom by sending me short messages to my cellphone, by e-mailing me at badassgeek{at}vtext{dot}com.

I hope everyone has a good week!

Monday, December 15, 2008

In Which I Am Full Of Resolve

I have been making New Year's resolution's to make some changes in my life for the past seven or eight years. And for the past seven or eight years, I haven't kept a single one any longer than January 19th. I don't fail because I set lofty, unachievable goals for myself, but rather because I just lose the desire and motivation to make any changes. Besides, it's not like I was setting out to build a homeless shelter or plant a dozen tree's each month. My resolutions were always to "swear less" or "don't pick nose while driving".

This year, though, I'm changing all of that. I'm going to make some resolutions for myself that I know I can achieve, and I'm going to pull through. You can tell by all the italics that I'm determined to come out the victor this year. I've come up with a list of my resolutions, and I'd like to share them with you.

RESOLUTIONS: HOW TO BE A BETTER BADASS GEEK IN 2009
  • Watch Episodes I, II, and III of Star Wars (even though they kinda suck) enough times to memorize the dialogue, so I can be a better fan.
  • Give more people the finger when they piss me off while driving.
  • Improve on my "apathy" expression.
  • Get another tattoo.
  • Play all the songs on Guitar Hero on Expert, with my eyes closed.
  • Be more polite to the people that deserve it, and more of a dick to those that don't.
  • Wear less tube socks.
  • Play less air guitar, and more real guitar.
  • Purchase less magazine's about Sudoku and more about naked women.
  • Hook up my vintage Sega Genesis.
  • Learn more about CSS coding.
  • Drink more beer.
  • Watch more Sci-Fi movies.
  • Go to a heavy metal concert.
  • Go to a Weird Al concert.
  • Become more coordinated.
  • Figure out a way to hack into my neighbor's encrypted wireless network.
  • Watch more movie's that don't fit into the "Sci-Fi" genre.
  • Listen to more Johnny Cash.
  • Smoke the occasional cigar.

There are other, more serious things that I hope to accomplish than the few I've listed above, but I didn't want to give it all away at once. Feel free to take some of these resolutions and apply it to your life as 2009 approaches. After all, there's no shame in wanting to be a Badass Geek.

... Right?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Which It's The Most (Un)Wonderful Time

We are just over two weeks away from Christmas, and everyone around me seems to be in the holiday spirit.

There is snow on the ground and Christmas tree's are for sale just about everywhere you look. Houses in my neighborhood are decorated with multi-colored lights, and lawns are adorned with obnoxious inflatable giant reindeer and jolly-looking snowmen. Radio stations are playing Christmas music around the clock, and a majority of the people I see greet me with a smile.

Despite all of the overwhelming amounts of cheer, there is something about this holiday season that is making me (uncharacteristically) violent.

I have to force myself to not shove my cart into the heels of the slow-walking people in front of me. I have to bite my tongue to keep from cursing out the woman in the checkout line in front of me, who let her late-arriving husband with an overflowing cart cut ahead of me. I have to restrain myself from clamping my hands over the mouths of every screaming, misbehaving child I see, and from smacking the faces of the parents who do nothing to curtail their outrageous behavior.

I want to scream when I hear the same Mariah Carey or Britney Spears Christmas song at every store I go to. I want to rip into a thousand tiny pieces each display that has a picture of Hannah Montana selling shoes, bedding, clothing, Tupperware, brake pads, tampons, wall clocks, prescription drug plans, soda, Post-It notes, extension cords, or dental floss. I want to beat down the "adults" who fight like little children over the last "must have" sale item. I want to tear to shreds every last animated singing Santa, Snowman, Penguin, Reindeer, or Polar Bear.

I don't know what it is this year, as I'm not normally such a Scrooge. I don't hate Christmas, nor have I had bad experiences with the holiday in the past. There is just something about the hustle and bustle this year that has made me excessively grumpy. I have even found myself scowling at the Salvation Army bell-jingler's outside at the supermarket. What is wrong with me?

I'm pretty sure that the source to my funk is the fact that, like many people I'm sure, The Boss and I are financially spread thin, almost to the point of breaking. Because of that, I can't spoil The Boss with presents this year like I have grown accustomed to doing. Our gift-giving is going to be very meager this year, with a bulk of our presents being hand made. I know that spending time with family and loved ones is more important than material possessions, but I think the weight of the red line in our checkbooks is definitely starting to wear on me.

If this is the season to be jolly, why am I finding it so hard to be so? Maybe it's because I haven't decked my halls. Maybe it's because my Grandma hasn't gotten run over by a reindeer. Maybe it's because I don't have enough silver bells, or haven't walked in a winter wonderland yet. Maybe I need to roast some chestnuts on an open fire, or go dashing through the snow. Maybe Jack Frost needs to nibble on my nose, or maybe I just need to let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Maybe I haven't wished enough people a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart...

Whatever it is, I'm sure I'll figure it out before too long.

Has anyone else had some less than enjoyable shopping experiences so far this year? Please tell me that I'm not the only one.

Oh! I almost forgot... Does anyone know where I can find the Metallica Christmas album?

P.S. So what if I'm plugging my photography website again... Photo's make great gifts!

Friday, December 12, 2008

In Which I Feel Kinda Stupid

This story takes place in 1993. I was just eight years old, and while I don't remember much about growing up until I hit age 10, this one incident remains clear in my mind...

---

From my bedroom on the far side of the house, I ran urgently to the bathroom. I had to pee, and bad. With my hands down the front of my pants, I gripped firmly onto the anatomy that inhabited my crotch. In the logic that presented itself in my eight-year-old mind, this method would prevent any urine from leaking out. After the last time I had an accident, I promised myself it wouldn't happen again. As I rounded the corner from the living room into the kitchen, I felt my resolve begin to falter.

I skidded to a halt in front of the bathroom door, surprised and horrified to find it closed. I pulled my left hand out of my pants and knocked loudly on the door.

"Just a minute!" my mother called from inside the bathroom. "I'm almost done!"

"Hurry up, Mom! I've gotta pee real bad!" I cried. It seemed that I had to pee even more now that I was standing still. Hopping from one leg to the other seemed to help, so I bounced in place while I waited.

I heard the toilet flush, and soon the water in the sink turned on as my mother washed her hands. Hearing the running water made me have to pee even more still. I put my left hand back down my pants to help with the high stress situation down below.

"Mom! I really, really gotta go!" I yelled, louder this time.

"I'm almost done!" she yelled back again. "Hang on a minute, please!"

"I can't, Mom! My pee sac is all full!" I danced even faster now, tapping out a regular beat with my tube-sock covered feet on the beige linoleum.

"Your what?" she asked, shutting the water off.

"My pee sac. It's full, and I need to pee!" I replied. I tested the door knob to see if she had unlocked it yet. No such luck.

"Your 'pee sac'? Where is that?" she asked.

"In my private area, Mom. Are you done yet?"

"That's not a pee sac, Michael. And yes, I'm done," she said, and opened the door. She stepped out of the bathroom with a smirk on her face. I rushed past her and into the bathroom, closing the door fast behind me.

"Wash your hands really good after you're done!" my mother called out. "And don't put your hands down your pants! It's not polite."

My mother might have been talking, but I wasn't listening. I was focusing on one thing, and that was going pee. As I flushed the toilet when I had finished, I smiled to myself.

Mission accomplished.

---

Eventually, I learned that my mother was right. The warm, wrinkly pouch between my legs was in fact not a urine reservoir, but instead nature's method of supporting and carrying around my testicles.

In truth, it makes more sense that way.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In Which I Forget To Enter A Title

Being tagged by Linda couldn't have happened at a better time. I have been struggling to flesh out a post that I'd been working on for a little while, and taking a break to talk about "five things that I love" should help give me a fresh start....

FIVE THINGS THAT I LOVE
  1. My truck. I drive a 1998 Ford F-150 V8, and I absolutely love it. It gets 15 miles per gallon at best, and until recently I couldn't afford to fill its mammoth gas tank without taking out a small loan. It has a lot of power under the hood, and can carry a ton (literally) in the bed without a flinch. People say that guys with big trucks are compensating for something, and while that may be true for some guys, I'm pretty sure that's not the case for me. Just ask The Boss.
  2. New Balance shoes. I've worn nothing but New Balance brand shoes for the past ten years. They are incredibly comfortable, durable as heck, and easy on the wallet. I retired my last pair of New Balance shoes recently after two and a half years, and my new pair are more comfortable than my slippers.
  3. Small wallets. Some guys have wallets that are so huge and full of receipts that the thickness of it rivals some dictionary's. Not me. I use a leather business card holder as a wallet, and I don't keep anything in there that I don't need. Debit card, license, insurance information, maybe some cash, and that's it. A decent small wallet can be hard to find.
  4. Nalgene bottles. Being as clumsy as I tend to be, it helps to be able to carry around a water bottle that doesn't dent or shatter when you drop it. The one I've had for a number of years has been dropped hundreds of times, and despite being all scratched up, is still intact.
  5. My pocket knife. I've carried around a small pocket knife pretty much every where I've gone for the past five years. It has come in handy more times than I ever would have thought, and the blade remains as sharp as the day I bought it. It's 1.5 inch blade isn't considered a weapon, and it fits nicely in my pocket without taking up a lot of space.

I'm supposed to tag a few people to take part in this, but I'm not going to. Anyone who wishes to keep this going, be my guest. Thanks, Linda, for the award and for giving me something to write about.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Which I Have An Important Message

To the person who searched on Google for help with the following:

"it feels like my lower stomach is being ripped out"

That sounds kinda painful, my friend.

Perhaps you should go to an Emergency Room?

I mean, I'm not a doctor or anything, but I don't think you should be wasting your time doing Internet searches with symptoms like that. I'm glad you stuck around and read for a little while, but next time? Take care of yourself first. Maybe all you need to do is release a few colon hostages. Just a suggestion.

That is all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

In Which I Prove That I'm Not So Bright*

I like to think that I am a pretty smart guy.

I have a pretty large vocabulary, I'm damn good at spelling, and I can converse freely on a variety of different subjects. What's more, I can answer a fair number of questions correctly while watching Jeopardy, and every night I make Pat Sajak my bitch on Wheel Of Fortune. Not that those things alone are a fair judge to one's relative intelligence, but for someone who doesn't have a college degree, I think I stand pretty well among others.

Despite being reasonably book-smart, there are times when I am so uncoordinated that I do incredibly stupid things that prove that I am delusional in thinking the way I do. The simple truth is that I have just enough brains to give the illusion of intelligence here on this blog, but that handful of grey matter is majorly over-worked by trying to keep me from accidentally killing myself. To say that I have the same mental capacity for coordination that a piss-drunk elementary school dropout who couldn't pour water out of a boot if the instructions were on the heel possesses would not be entirely too far off mark.

Let me explain.

I've pissed on myself and scrubbed my crotch with shampoo, I've punched myself in the nutsack and then proceeded to give them a paper cut, and I've poured toxic chemicals into my eyes. Don't forget that I've also exposed myself not once but twice, and that I nearly had my feet broken by my cat.

Oh, and there is the time that I almost got my ass kicked in the parking lot of a grocery store, and when I could have killed myself by inhaling flea foggers.

You see what I mean? You all know that I'm reasonably adept at writing something that will either make your heart race with panic or cause tears to run down your face, but with all that I've accidentally done to myself in the past year, it doesn't exactly vouch for my abilities in self-preservation.

Just don't tell my life insurance company about this. They'd probably raise my premiums if they knew what a klutz I am.

*Alternate Post Title: In Which I Recount All The Stupid Injuries I've Given Myself, or In Which I Try To Post As Many Hyperlinks As Possible.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

In Which I Am White And Nerdy

First order of business today is to announce the winner of the Caption Contest. There were a lot of funny entries, including some with awesome Star Wars references, so it was difficult to pick just one. However, when reviewing them today, it was clear to me which one I had to pick.

Please join me in congratulating Heather! Her entry, "I've got a business doing websites. When my friends need some code, who do they call? I do HTML for 'em all." is part of the lyrics for a Weird Al Yankovic song titled "White and Nerdy", which is a parody of Chamillionare's rap song "Ridin' Dirty". Check out Weird Al's music video of the song by clicking here. I'm a huge Weird Al fan, but never realized how much those lyrics fit my life.

So, Heather... Shoot me an e-mail with what picture you'd like, and be sure to include your address so I can mail it out to you early next week. Congratulations!

---

Not much else is happening this weekend. I'm going to work on putting up some decorations around the house. Instead of a tree this year (because of our too-playful kitten), we'll be making and hanging a rustic rope swag of sorts, wrapped with white lights, from the beams on the ceiling. We'll hang our ornaments on that, where they will be up and out of the kitten's reach. Not sure how it will turn out, but I'll take some pictures of it if it looks nice.

Other than that, I'll be working on what I'm making The Boss for Christmas. I've got a lot of work to do on it still, so hopefully I can put some time into it this weekend.

See you all on Monday!

Friday, December 5, 2008

In Which I Nearly Get Arrested

I don't think there is anyone who wakes up in the morning and thinks, Hmm. I think I want to get myself arrested today. I know that I wasn't planning on getting handcuffed and locked away, but that is almost what happened to me on Monday.

After writing the post I put up on Monday, I left the coffee shop I was at and decided to kill some time in the local WalMart. Now, I'm no fan of WalMart, but I had twenty bucks burning a hole in my pocket. I figured I could get a few cheap DVD's or get a new pair of winter gloves or something. The store was pretty busy for a Monday afternoon, and there seemed to be screaming babies every where I went, so I moved quickly through the departments.

It wasn't until I hit the hardware department that I realized I was being followed. My pursuant was a tall male, in sneakers and a light t-shirt. That was my first clue that he wasn't just another shopper, but rather a store security employee. The weather on Monday was a blustery and cold 34 degrees, with six inches of frozen slush on the ground. I saw him in the Electronics department, he was standing next to me when I was checking the price on digital cameras, and he was close behind when I went to sporting goods. This can't just be a coincidence, I thought to myself. As I looked at the hand tools, the security employee walked into the aisle. I watched him out of the corner of my eye, and saw him pull a small walkie-talkie radio from his front pocket.

The guy continued to follow me as I walked toward the front of the store to pay. With my purchases and receipt in hand I walked through the doors to leave.

"Excuse me, Sir. Can you stop for a moment?"

I turned around to see the guy who had been following me, now wearing a name badge on his shirt, and accompanied by another employee. "Sure. What's this all about?"

"We'd like you to come back into the store with us and talk about the items you stole."

"What? I didn't steal anything," I said. "I'm not sure what you guys think I stole, but you're wrong."

"Sir, if you'd just come back into the store with us, and we'll talk about this privately. I know I wouldn't want to create a public disturbance," the guard said, widening his stance and clipping his radio to his belt.

"Look, I'll come back into the store with you, but I didn't steal anything," I said, shaking my head incredulously.

"No offense, Sir, but I hear that all the time, from shoplifters," the guard said flatly, and gestured with his hand to go back inside.

"Hey, I'm being honest here! What exactly do you think I stole?"

"You stole a pair of Sony noise-cancelling headphones, valued at $24.88. We have you on camera, and I personally witnessed you concealing them on your person," he said. His shoulders widened with an air of confidence.

"Oh, you mean those headphones that I put down on a shelf in sporting goods? The one's I didn't conceal on my person? Yeah, you can check my pockets, but like I said, I didn't steal anything." I set down my purchases on a bench nearby, and began to turn out my pockets.

"Sir, this isn't the place for this. Please come with me into the store, or I will be forced to call the police for you refusing to cooperate."

"No, I'm not refusing to cooperate, you're just refusing to realize that I didn't steal anything! Look at what I have! Do you see any headphones?" I pointed to the contents of my pockets on the bench. Cell phone, keys, wallet... no headphones.

The security guard looked at me, at my possessions on the bench, and then back at me again. His eyes widened as his confidence whistled out of him in a low sigh.

"My apologies, Sir. It appears that I have been mistaken. Have a good day." He turned on his heel and walked away.

During our exchange a number of other patrons had stopped to see what was going on. As I was gathering my things from the bench, I caught a glance from a guy standing near the door.

"What an asshole, huh? Polite as hell, but an asshole," he said, and walked inside.

"Yeah, I have to agree," I muttered under my breath.

This isn't the first time I've been suspected of shoplifting (and it probably won't be the last, either), but this is the first time I've ever been threatened with arrest.

Does anyone else have a similar story?

P.S. There is still time to enter your suggestion for the caption contest. I'll post the winner tomorrow!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

In Which I Continue

Last month I posted the first installment of the Short Story Thursday series, with a story about a mysterious man with an unknown conflict. Today, I'm posting the second part of that story, but please read Part One first, if you haven't already.

---

Eight hours earlier…

The classic Mustang roared as Adam Marshall swung the car into his driveway, the windows down despite the brisk mid-November air. He reached up and pressed the button on the garage door opener clipped to the sun visor and pulled into the vacant bay. The sound of the engine echoed harshly off of the concrete floor before he it switched off. He hastily pushed the button again to close the garage behind him, and the light from the street lamp at the end of the driveway crept slowly down the wall before being squeezed out as the door closed with a thump.

Gripping the wheel tightly with both hands, Adam closed his eyes and took in a ragged breath. He could feel his heart pounding away in his chest, his lungs burning from breathing hard. What just happened? What did I just get myself into? His jaw clenched and unclenched subconsciously, the cacophony of wild thoughts driving him to grip the steering wheel even tighter. After some deep breathing Adam stepped out of the car and stood in the dark garage.

The only sounds he could hear save for the pulse in his ears was the quiet ticking of the cooling engine, and the dry leaves as they danced across the driveway. Adam looked at his watch. The glowing watch face read just past ten o’clock. He walked towards the door leading into his kitchen, mindlessly selecting a key from the large key chain. It wasn’t until he tried to unlock the door that he realized his hands were shaking, the key skittering loudly against the handle before sliding in. He turned the knob to one side and pushed the door open.

The hinges squealed as Adam walked inside, flicking on the light switch on the wall to his right. Dropping his keys on the countertop, he placed his hands on the cool marble and tried to catch his breath. Closing his eyes again, he concentrated hard on his thoughts, struggling to force logic over chaos in the scenarios playing repeatedly in his mind. A couple minutes passed, and he held out his hands. The shaking had stopped.

They saw me, I know they did, and they saw my car. I lost the guy that was tailing me, but they’ve got my license plate number, and that’ll probably lead them here... I can’t stay here. I’ve got to leave town.

Adam ran through the kitchen and down the hallway to his bedroom. He hurriedly packed a suitcase with few changes of clothes, throwing a laptop computer and a sleek black case on top of the pile.

I’ve got to get away and sort this out.

With long strides, Adam walked back through the kitchen and grabbed his keys. He stepped into the garage, and pulled the door closed. He placed the suitcase in the passenger seat of the Mustang, and slid into the driver’s seat.

I’ve got to be out of the state by sunrise.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

In Which I Want To Play A Game

I don't know if any of you remember this, but way back in October (when I announced the winners of my Fall Contest) I hinted that I might be having another give-away. I had all but forgotten myself, but the time has finally come to announce my latest contest...

THE BADASS GEEK CAPTION CONTEST

By midnight on Friday 12/05/2008, leave a comment with your idea of what the caption could be for the following picture:



Whomever comes up with the best and/or funniest one will get a matted 4x6 print of their choice from my photography portfolio, which can be viewed by clicking here. Don't forget to leave your comment by Friday!

---

After some thought and consideration, I've decided to give an official plug to my photography website. If you can, please find some time to go to ShiftPhotographyStudios.com and check out my work. View the slideshows of my photos, order prints for yourself or to give as gifts for the holidays, whatever you have time to do. Regardless, please tell me what you think by leaving me some feedback through the Contact Me form on the main page.

Thanks!

Monday, December 1, 2008

In Which I Am Still Cold

I am sad to report that I didn't have as much fun at the Patriot's game as I had hoped. If it wasn't for the almost-freezing temperatures, the two mile walk from our car to our seats, and the fact that it was raining the entire time, I probably would have enjoyed myself. However, considering I was soaked through before the first quarter was over, that really didn't happen.

Although we had tickets to actual seats, we didn't make our way to them at all. We figured that since we'd be standing for the entire game to avoid getting soggy asses, we just hung out at the standing-room-only section. Here is a picture I snapped from my camera phone:
The players on the field looked like GI Joe-sized, and I had a better view of the game by watching it unfold on the mega-screen at the north end of the stadium. The Patriots played a horrible game despite an excellent start, and totally squandered what could have been an easy win. Even if we hadn't turned the ball over five times, if Randy Moss had caught instead of dropping the passes Cassel threw to him, we might have had a good chance of winning.

We got stuck in some major traffic on the way out of the parking lot. After about two hours we were finally on our way, driving home in the pouring rain. Once we got to Maine, we had to deal with slush and snow, and we almost went off the road about a dozen times before we got home.

As the title of this post reads, I still feel cold. I'm sitting next to the fireplace right now, and the chill is finally starting to go away. I'm taking the rest of today and tomorrow off from things here to work on a couple of projects here at home, but I'll be back on Wednesday.