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Be nice. It matters.

I once read something, and I can’t remember exactly what it was, but it went something like this: “Be kind, because each person you meet is fighting a struggle that you know nothing about.”

I’ve really tried to internalize this. Specifically, when driving… and I’ll tell you why:

One of my dogs, Roxie, died on November 1st. She died in the night, at our home. While I’m glad she was able to go while she was at home with us, this meant I needed to transport her body to another location to have her cremated. I remember vividly that difficult trip: my wife and I drove her body to the local vet’s office that dreary afternoon. The most important thing to me during that drive was to make sure that I didn’t make any sudden driving movements that might send Roxie’s lifeless body rolling around the back of my SUV. All the while, I remember thinking about whether other drivers were getting angry at me for going so slowly.

Since then, whenever I am driving and I encounter someone who’s going too slowly for my taste, I try to remind myself that I don’t know what they are dealing with. I’ve taught myself to act as if every slow-driving “asshole” I come across might have a dead dog in the back of their car. And I remind myself that that person would appreciate me not riding their ass and being a prick just because I want to go a bit faster than they are.

So, to paraphrase: remember that every person you meet — every person that pisses you off — is probably dealing with something difficult that you don’t know about. Do them a favor: don’t make their lives harder if you don’t need to.

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A Slice of Christmas


A number of years ago, I started a tradition.  I cut a slice off of the bottom of our Christmas tree before we get rid of it each year.  After the wood dries out, I then label it with the year.  I also try to label them with anything noteworthy for that Christmas — e.g., a child’s first Christmas.  Finally, I place them in a box to save. I’ve got about ten years’ worth of tree cuttings at this point, and it’s really fun to look through them each year.

(For the record, I stole this tradition from my cousin Clinton – he blew me away when he showed me his collection of tree cuttings years ago, and I knew instantly that I wanted to do the same thing.  Thanks, Clinton!)

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My Basement Helpers

Everyone always remarks that I manage to get a lot of work done on my basement project in a relatively short period of time.  It’s no secret that I’ve had a lot of help.  What you probably don’t realize, of course, is that my helpers are a little . . . well, different.  And by different I mean exactly the same.

(Click to embiggen.)

That’s right.  I’ve cloned myself.  So now you know the secret behind my productivity.  The cats are out of the bag.  (Those are some good lookin’ cats, huh?)

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Cheap Glasses

A few months ago, I went to see a new eye doctor for the first time.  While I liked the doctor very much, the selection of frames in his office was fairly limited.  I went through a number of different frames trying to find something that fit well and looked nice.  I ended up settling for a pair that fit reasonably well, but the more I wore them, the more I realized that I didn’t like them very much.  Ok, they don’t fit that well, either.  I made a bad choice, what can I say?

I figured I was probably stuck for another two years, when my insurance will pay for another set of frames and lenses.  Then I discovered that you can get perfectly good (and stylish) glasses online for much less than you pay at the doctor’s office.  After reading this article on 43 folders, I took a chance and bought a pair of glasses from Zenni Optical for the ridiculously low price of $12.95 (plus shipping).  

I received my glasses this week, and I couldn’t be happier.  In fact, I’m thinking about ordering a pair of prescription sunglasses, something I had previously avoided because it seemed prohibitively expensive.

So, if you’re interested, I’d recommend you go read the article first, then go check out the selection on these sites:

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Flying to Vegas: “She Needs Another Bag”

Is there such a concept as time-delay live blogging?  Does that mean it’s just plain-vanilla blogging?  Whatever you call it, here’s what’s going on.

My car to the airport arrived 45 minutes late this morning, which wasn’t what I’d call an auspicious start to this trip.  The car service had previously advised me that my pickup time was later than they would have recommended.  So much for that.  Despite the delay and my later-than-recommended  pick-up time, my driver managed to get me to the airport with time to spare; the result, no doubt, of some livery miracle that justifies the exorbitant rates the car service charges.

My flight left on time at 11:20am, which probably counts as the second transit miracle of the day.  Surely the travel gods are smiling.

As you know, I’m still on the Atkins diet.  Traveling on Atkins is never easy, so we’ll see how it goes.  The in-flight meal choices included a chicken salad that was mostly low-carb.  I had to avoid the mandarin orange slices and the pecans (can I eat those?) and the raspberry vinagarette (second ingredient: high fructose corn syrup), which made my salad into a faux-grilled chicken breast and some lettuce.  Blech.

The in-flight movie they are showing is called “The Waitress,” which appears to be a chick flick about a knocked up waitress who makes pies.  I saw precisely three people pay for headphones.  There ought to be a rule that says that if less than ten people pay to see the film, they should offer a different flick. 

It’s 1:12pm now (see, that’s the “live” part of the live blogging . . . except that I won’t be able to post this until later, which takes the “live” back out, I think), and I think we’re almost halfway to Vegas.  I got stuck with a middle seat, so I’m a bit cramped as I type this.  (Anything for you, loyal reader!) 

If I had planned ahead a bit, I should have loaded some sort of game on this laptop that I can play offline.  Of course, most of the games I play these days seem to only function when you’ve got internet connectivity.  Ah, I remember the good old days back in the late 90’s wen I could fire up StarCraft on my laptop while flying cross-country.  That was fun. 

(Ok, somebody needs to tell the nasty old guy in the seat in front of me to A) get that scabby thing on his head looked at, and B) to stop picking it.  Gross.)

In lieu of gaming, I brought some reading material with me.  I’m reading End of Faith by Sam Harris, which is essentially an indictment of religion as a detrimental influence on mankind.  When I got to a chapter titled “The Problem with Islam,” Harris sought to dispel the notion of Islam as a “religion of peace” by presenting various quotes from the Koran.  In an intentionally repetitive and lengthy series of excerpts, Harris demonstrates the inherent intolerance and hostility of the Islamic text.  I think it went on for three pages.  Anyway, the reason I’m telling you all of this is not because I’m trying to get you to hate on the Muslims, but because I realized at some point that I was sitting on an airplane reading several pages of caustic Islamic rhetoric that called for jihad.  I became very concerned that someone was going to look over my shoulder and decide that I was a terrorist.  I firmly believe that my traveling good fortune would come to an abrupt halt if that were to happen.  So, I put my book away.  There’s no live blogging from Gitmo, folks.

That’s all I have for now.  It’s about 1:30pm, so I think I’ve got some miles ahead of me.  I may check in again in a little while if I can’t find another way to entertain myself.

It’s 3pm, and we’ve got another 90 minutes before we land, according to our captain.  About 15 minutes ago, a woman across the aisle from me threw up into her barf bag.  Awesome. 

My salad wasn’t particularly filling.  I’m starving.

4:05pm.  The captain has advised us that “if you look out to your right, you should be able to see the Grand Canyon coming up.”  I’m on the left side, thank you very much. 

Just before landing, I heard a guy say “she needs another bag.”  Shortly after, the puker puked again.

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Oh Yeah? Well You’re Ugly!

As many of you know, I work out of my home office fairly regularly.  Because of this, I don’t see all of my co-workers face-to-face for days or some of them for weeks at a time.  Furthermore, I’ve just come off of a short leave of about three weeks following Baby V’s arrival.  Needless to say, it’s been a while since I’ve seen some of my work friends.

So today, I went in to the office for the first time in a while.  I was catching up with some of my co-workers when one of them, Vijay, decided I needed to be taken down a peg or two.

With a blunt candor normally reserved for children and retards (not to mention retarded children), Vijay observed that I clearly hadn’t had much time for exercise while I was out of the office. 


To be fair, he’s right; I’m not the fattest I’ve ever been — I’d have to gain another 15 lbs. or so to hit that embarrassing number — but I’m probably a good 15-20 lbs. heavier than I was about 12-18 months ago.  I’d guess that about 5-10 lbs. of it was packed on in the last six months. Maybe it’s that so-called sympathy weight that expecting dads gain.  (Frankly, I don’t buy it.  It sounds like an excuse for fat guys who happen to have knocked up their wives.)

I guess it’s time to drop a few pounds.  Ugh.  Thanks, Vijay.

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The Big Move

Well, the big move to PA is complete.  “Complete” meaning all of our stuff (or at least most of it) made the trip from our old house to the new one.  We’ve spent the last several days unpacking all the boxes that we so pain-stakingly packed only days before.  It’s like deja vu in reverse.

Speaking of boxes, I’m pretty sure that if there is a hell (Editor’s note: There isn’t, I checked.), it’s made of cardboard.  In this corrugated captivity, tortured souls are forced to cut and bundle cardboard with a dull utility knife for hours on end.  For a preview of what that looks like, feel free to stop by my new house and watch me break down all of the effing boxes that are cluttering the place.

Aside from the unpacking, I’ve also been pretty busy running all sorts of wiring in my walls.  Check out my nifty new patch panel in the Projects section!   (Note: there is no projects section anymore.  Sorry!)  Stay tuned for future projects as I plan to start finishing the basement soon.

In other news, our crazy little dogs are starting to adjust to the new house.  Poor Roxie was very nervous about the new place at first.  She spent the first 36 hours on Beagle Red Alert, which, according to the Department of Homeland Security, means there is a severe risk of unspecified, spooky shit in the near future, specifically targeting beagles.  At this threat level, the DHS recommends sniffing the hell out of all corners, doors, and closets.

Before I go, here are a few thumbs up / thumbs down ratings for various people involved in our move.

Thumbs up to Don Hutchison at RE/MAX of Reading.  Don was our real estate agent on the buying side, and he was terrific.  Not only did he find us the perfect house for us, he found it the day it went on the market, ensuring we were the first (and only) family to see it.  Look him up here.
Thumbs down to the Jennie Esposito of Choice Realty.  Jennie was our listing agent in NJ, and she did just about everything wrong.  She’s a terrible negotiator.  Also, she talks a lot without saying anything useful.  I could go on and on, but I would strongly recommend you do not engage Jennie’s services.  In fact, I’d stay away from Choice Realty altogether.  If you need further information, feel free to get in touch with me.
Thumbs up to Simonik Moving & Storage.  Simonik did a terrific job.  The driver, Alex, and his crew were courteous and professional.  I highly recommend them.
Thumbs up to Guaranteed Mortgage of Reading.  They helped us secure a mortgage at a reasonable rate.  The folks over there are very friendly and helpful.

That’s all for now.

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