December 31, 2003

You know the song "That's Life", where old Blue Eyes croons about being a Puppet, a Poet, a Pirate and so on? Well I decided to Google Myself and see what the OTHER Chris Kerns of the world were doing.

I have been:

  1. A Hortoculture Supplier and Photographer
    (Also at ChrisKern.Com)
  2. An NFL Draft Pick
  3. A Dark-skinned lead singer of a band living in Germany
  4. An Amateur Putt-Putt player from Bumpass, Virginia
  5. An Anime Fanboy and Computer Science Teacher
  6. A singer in a Church Youth Group
  7. An Amateur Robotic Engineer
  8. A Major Brewery Owner in Michigan during Prohobition (Check out the etched glasses!)
  9. A Film Editor (grandson of the guy who edited Gone with the Wind")
  10. A Rather unfortunate Hiker on Mt. Hood
  11. And finally, a Database Programmer. (Just like me, except published.)


December 30, 2003

Is there anything more depressing than being one of the 20 or so employees of a company that didn't have the vacation days to take off between Christmas and New Years? Sure, my vacation days went to good use to allow Melissa and I to have the most widely-travelled year of our lives (Chattanooga, Orlando, Pennsylvania, London, Los Angeles & North Carolina), but I wish to Allah that I was spared these forsaken days of pseudo-work.

These last days of december are "The Great Anti-Work." It's like a black hole, only for employees. It is a series of days so bereft of purpose and work that it swallows everything around it. Not even productivity can escape.

A total of six people on the entire wing of this building are still here, only three in my division, and no one has any work to do. I've already organized my desk, filed this year's paperwork, shredded anything over two years old and prepped my HR documents for the new year. That took all of yesterday morning, WITH frequent checks to my e-mail. So I've now got two days to revel in the complete lack of anything useful to do. Even CBT's (Computer-Based Training modules), the bane of any programmer's existence, and the only company-endorsed way of passing down-time, are not viable, as the server is down. Melissa asked if the managers would be sending us home early, under the circumstances, but I don't think anyone with that kind of power is still here.

It is a mental prison, this desert at the end of the Fiscal Year, and the only way out is to think up activities and projects for yourself. I'm usually able to do so, but I have hit a mental block this time, faced with a stretch of days so abysmal.

December 29, 2003

For the first time in memory, I'm glad Christmas is over. It was a crappy season all-around for Melissa and I. The only saving grace of the season was Christmas Morning, seeing little Matthew tearing into his presents and playing with them. Well, a few of them anyway. After being inundated with toys last year, Melissa and I decided that we'd not go overboard buying him toys this year. Well, fear not, the remaining relatives picked up the slack. Her parents bought him this Fisher-Price adjustable basketball hoop, which is this huge molded-plastic monstrosity that you need to fill the base of, so that it doesn't tip over and crush your little one. Matthew seems to like it, and figuring that his old man had absolutely zero talent in sports, I'll encourage anything of the sort.

We got our sorta-weekly call from the Nash family in North Hamptonshire, UK. Thank-yous for the gifts were exchanged and we talked for a good two hours about everything from our countries' respective leaders to the kind of music that we all were into. Vaughan, the father, works for a Motor Credit company. Judging by the tatoos on his arms, I figured him for ex-military. So I was a bit surprised to hear him state that he was into all kinds of electronic music, like Trance and Chillout, just like I am. We vowed to send one another a CD. It's going to be a challenge to find any Electronic Music that's any good that they don't have in the UK, since Europe is the epicenter of the culture.

"I got this one CD," he said, "Play it in the car on the way home from work, you start out with some hard Dance stuff, going about 80 MPH. It takes you all the way home, to Chillout at the end, so you'll be going about 12 or so. Great for leaving the stress of the job miles behind you. Mind, just don't play it on the way TO work, or you'll be fairly useless that day"

December 22, 2003

Side note: "Merry" was pictured at "Trilogy Tuesday" by CNN.com. (Pictured with her mother in the 6th image.)

As we enter the final stretch into Christmas, I'm thankful for everything that I have, from friends to loved ones, all the way down the list to material posessions. A recent marriage crisis with one of my friends has shown me that the only gifts that need to be exchanged between people are love, friendship and compassion. With them, you'll have a great Christmas, no matter what you get under the tree. Without them, the season becomes empty and cold, regardless of what you can put a bow on. Especially so in this friend's case, where he is still freely giving these gifts, and the recipient does not give them in return.

I offer these words of advice for the season:

Spend the holidays with those you love. Call the ones that you love, that can't be with you.

Try out new holiday traditions every year until you find one that clicks with your family. Then make that a recurring tradition.

Finally, if you're the first one awake on Christmas morning, take five minutes to think of all the intangible gifts, such as love and support, that you have already received from those around you.

Merry Christmas everybody.

December 18, 2003

Melissa and I, along with some out-of-town "Ringers", went to see "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" last night. Oddly enough, Melissa and "Merry" (a friend from Dragon*Con), were the only ones dressed up. I have never seen any later movie of a series become the best until now. RotK is easily the best of the three, taking the setup and momentum of the previous movies, hitting the story's full stride and never, ever letting up for a moment. The battle scenes top even "Two Towers" for sheer scale and awe. The acting is absolutely top-notch and the folks at Weta Digital have raised the bar on meshing real-life and virtual actors, making other films' digital armies look like cheap xerox copies. (If you own the DVD's, you know that this is partially due to the MASSIVE program, which instills each digital actor with a level of Artificial Intelligence. Really ground-breaking stuff.)

There was so much story to tell, so many story lines to tie up, It never felt like 3 1/2 hours. It was obvious that some scenes were cut out, like the much-publicized exclusion of Sarumon's demise altogether, but there was no room for anything short of absolutely essential scenes in that 3.5 hours. We all know it'll all be on the Extended Edition DVD next fall. With RotK seen, I can now turn to the second-highest priority of this month, namely an obscure pagan ritual called "Christmas."

December 16, 2003

I tracked down fellow UGA Lipscomb Hall Alumni Jarrett Arnold on the Net the other day. He wrote:

Yes it is me . Hello Chris, I don't check e mail very often, sorry. I am a free lance artist in oregon. My daughter, shashi was born August 2. My son through marriage, Bodhi, is 2.5 years old. Quite a different life I lead now, except for the continued prolific pouring forth of my soul onto whatever I can find. Yes. still painting like crazy. All of that web stuff is old art though. What does your life look like these days? Paint me a picture with your words. jarrett

What I wrote him back is as good a snapshot of my life as I think I've put together:


Jarrett,

My life is the 60's song "Five O'Clock World" by the Vogues:
-------------------------------------------------
Trading my time for the pay I get
Living on money that I ain’t made yet
Gotta keep going, gotta to make my way
But I live for the end of the day (yeah, yeah)

Cuz it’s a five o’clock world when the whistle blows
No one owns a piece of my time
And there’s a long-haired girl who waits, I know
To ease my troubled mind, yeah
----------------------------------
I've got this Clark Kent rat race day job, writing code for some financial services company. The name doesn't matter, they're all the same underneath the logos. I tweak the code of this application to fit various logo-companies, making the zeroes and ones jump through the hoops that the logo wants. I'm thankfully, blissfully, mostly insulated from the finished product. The code is my haven, and I could care less about finance.

My code is the great left-right brain balancing act, equal parts Jarrett and Jack. The Jack side tells me the monochrome details, technical specifications, white light. I put that white light into the Prism Bridge, and it crosses over into the Jarrett side of my brain, where the colors get twisted and woven, saturated and hued, until I find the right pattern and pallette. Pass it back across the bridge, and the changed light tells the Jack side how to code the Solution. It's satisfying work, solving problems in code. Code is the executable poerty of the Digital Age. It's also like magic tricks, where the audience only sees the result and most of the art and creation is only known and appreciated in secret by the trickster himself.

But like the song, what holds me to this world and gives me real meaning is my family. Back in 1998, I made an honest woman out of Melissa Petrey, who was a friend of Jack's back at Brookwood. Like any successful union, each has qualities that the other admires and wants for themself. I admire her ability to strike up converations with strangers, speak her mind openly and be outgoing or aggressive as the situation demands. Like any man betrothed, I'm not sure what she sees in me, I just consider myself lucky to have her. To guess, she may like my calm demeanor, humor and sensibility, to temper her fiery nature. Matthew came into being in February of 2002. Melissa wanted a little Chris, all blond-haired and blue-eyed, and she got a "Mini-Me", just like she asked for. Underneath, however, he's all stubbornness and love; all Melissa.

To satisfy the Jarrett side, I've been writing and photographing and sketching and photoshopping. I've made music with my voice and in digital beats and bytes on the computer with Acid Music. And when other challenges are lacking, I turn to PS2 to provide narrative, action and accomplishment in the virtual. Melissa, meanwhile, is into Lord of the Rings full-stop, from her hairy Hobbit feet to the tips of her little pointy ears. She's found community in the celebration of the movies and books of Tolkein, and the underlying messages of the writings. Together, we were lucky enough to travel to Germany, and this October, to London.

Feelings of comfort have turned to wanderlust as of late, as Melissa and I desire to move out of backwoods Flowery Branch, Georgia. We need someplace with more life, less quiet, greater variety, less predictability, just plain MORE. There are, I am certain, parts of the Sahara Desert that have more culture to offer than Flowery Branch. The Gypsy in her blood is showing and I agree, it's time to move on. There are places that need to be seen, people met, experiences had, all of which cannot be done here.

Good to find you! -Chris

December 11, 2003

Great news! Melissa and fellow "Ringer" Rebecca got tickets to TORN's (TheOneRing.Net) Returk of the King Oscars Party! This is a highly coveted ticket, only 700 were up for grabs, and so many people tried to buy them that this actually CRASHED PayPal!! It's a great party organized by TORN, the largest Tolkein community site on the Web. It's great for getting together with other Ringers, but since New Line doesn't give very good parties, the LotR cast and crew usually stop by for a visit after the Oscars!! Mel is very excited about going.

I'm excited as well, because this will be her Christmas gift, so my shopping is DONE! Haha!

December 09, 2003

I've taken to reading books about science lately. Science, especially astrophysics, has been fascinating to me since I was around 10 years old. At that time, I was still convinced that I was going to be an astronaut, so I figured that I needed to study up, this stuff would probably be on the Astronaut Competency Test (ACT).

I signed up for all the science classes in high school, and through hard work an dillegence, I made a quite astonishing discovery: I absolutely sucked in science. REALLY bad. I'm talking about "Couldn't find the atomic weight of Hydrogen" bad. I just couldn't tell my Mendel from my Mendeleev.

During my stint as a future astrophysicist, I did, however, develop a well proven theory: "The coolness level of any scientific area is proportional to the level of menial number-crunching involved to explain it." So while I could figure out how table salt is equal parts NA and CL (boring), I could not even comprehend the class notes on black holes (cool).

At the base of this problem was an underlying lack of math skills. Math was a prerequisite for any scientific discipline, but math class by itself had very little in the way of learning incentive. Yeah, teachers spoke time and again about how useful it was, but after basic algebra and geometry, it was only useful to later math classes. In college, a whole course of Calculus was devoted to doing the complete OPPOSITE of what the previous class had done. My professor chided me for stating that I'd never be asked by my boss to factor a polynomial, but I can safely say, after a few years in the real world, that the topic has never even come up.

Now back to the books. A favorite travel author of mine, Bill Bryson, spent two years researching for that most unusual of texts: The READABLE book on science (*gasp*) called "A Short History on Nearly Everything". I finished that last month, and I found myself hungry for more. Presently, "The Science of Discworld" by Terry Pratchett et al is being slowly consumed on my lunch breaks. I'd highly recommend them to others who, like myself, are fascinated by science but have no chance at understanding the inner workings of it by themselves.
Is there anything more annoying than badly-fitting trousers? Don't get me wrong, they fit badly for all the right reasons, since I lost 20 lbs over the past year. It's just one of those little nagging annoyances that gradualy get more frustrating as the day goes on. Sort of like discovering too late that you are wearing one blue and one black sock (The TRUE male color blindness).

My new shape perplexes me, though, because although I've gone down a pants size, my gut seems not to have noticed. In fact, I don't see any difference at all in my shape, but my clothing says I'm a bit smaller than I was. I have a fear that in order to achieve this, my body has democratically reduced volume by 9%, across the board, including vital organs. I worry about this because we are only reported to use about 10% of our brain to begin with.

The relationship between weight loss and wardrobe is a fundamental difference between men and women. If a woman drops 20 lbs, she considers it a moral imperative to buy a closet full of new clothes to fit the new her, and to show the world the difference. Men, or more specifically "Guys" (as defined by Dave Barry), upon losing 20 lbs, will usually just break out a few pairs of older trousers, and continue wearing what they have been. The end result is a guy who's constantly tyring to tuck in shirts that he's swimming in, and wearing trousers with a crotch two inches below where it should be and, inexplicably, trouser legs that hover an inch above their standard-issue loafers.

(I now pause to hear the collective groans of all my past grammar teachers for the structure of that last paragraph. Ah, there it is.)

I write this to explain why I would actually LIKE to receive clothing or clothing store gift certificates for Christmas this year, and that it's not a cop-out.

December 05, 2003

Decmeber is off and running, and as usual, I'm already behind. Since we have realtives scattered across the country, my parents in Hawaii and friends in England, the mail delivery cut-off dates are looming less than a week away. You'd THINK that it would take longer to get a package to London than Hawaii, what with the smaller of the two being part of the United States and all, but that has never been the case. It once took two weeks for my mother to get her birthday card. No special postage, no heavy stuff inside or difficult instructions, just your run-of-the-mill Hallmark deal.

I am in search of the web space for this page, since Larry lost his job. I can't afford buying any web space now, with Christmas Debt rising up to meet me, and development time is at a premium. I will probably not be able to wrestle the computer from my wife's steely grip until well after "Return of the King" comes out. So in short, nothing will change until next year.

But I'm confident that both of my readers will be understanding.

November 25, 2003

Tomorrow morning, the Kerns and the Petreys venture into the uncharted wilds of backwoods North Carolina! It's "A Very Deliverance Thanksgiving" at Melissa's grandmother's house, er..Trailer. Every little piece of advice or anecdote about this place makes me dread it a little more:

"Don't go running through the trailer. Not only will it shake itself apart, but it's so packed full of furniture & junk that you'll trip and die on something.

"Keep Matthew away from the back of the Carport, we find copperheads there every week or so."

"take a very quick shower, like less than five minutes, because the water heater only holds about 20 minutes of tepid-at-best water in the mornings. "

"No, Seriously. DON'T RUN IN THE TRAILER!! My foot went through the floor when I did.

Good ol' Grandma, whom I've never met, said she's looking forward to meeing her great-grandson and Brenda's new Chihuahua... and WE can come along too, if we like. Boy, I can just feel the family love oozing out of the phone. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and wish me luck.

November 24, 2003

Friday, Craig had a night that he described as "22 years in the making": Mr. 80's Band pop tenor finally saw his idols, Duran Duran perform live at the Tabernacle. I asked him how it was, and he launched into a 20-minute play-by-play of the event, including the set list. (This man is a serious fan: He hocked his precious Duran Duran LP collection to buy his wife's engagement ring.)

Despite the inherent energy-sucking nature of Sunday afternoons, this past one was overall a good day because the wonderful family we met in England finally got a hold of us. Melissa and the wife talked for almost two hours about LOTR and assorted other stuff. (No worries, they have this penny-a-minute rate plan for international Long Distance.) It was just great to hear from them again, because the whole family was just friendly and funny as you can get. Since we didn't get Elijah Wood's autograph, they got a spare one for us (costing about $35) because they came back the next day of CollectorMania. In return, we sent them a care package of American goodies (mostly from that bastion of southern culture, "Cracker Barrel") that was reportedly consumed over a weekend. We also got a letter from Keith, the LOTR fan that we met on the bus to CollectorMania. Melissa has set up a magazine swap with them, where we each send magazines from our country featuring LOTR actors or features on the movie.

Meeting these people has really connected us to England in a way that no place else has before. It makes it more "Real," in a sense. It's not that I didn't believe in it before ("What, just a conspiracy of cartographers, then?" --'Rosencranz and Guilderstern are Dead'), but knowing people and keeping in contact with them makes a place more alive in your mind, so it becomes more than the flat, glossy pictures that I took of the place.

November 13, 2003

Just back from a stint in L.A. for a friend's wedding. Well, OFFICIALLY it was for fellow UGA Accidentals Alum Joey Googe's wedding, but we managed to fit in a visit with my brother and a day in Disneyland for good measure.

Rob seems to be in a good place in his life, or at least he's come to terms with it. He's teaching high school kids, and he finds himself loving the work. Who would have thought it? His girlfriend, Gwennie, tagged along for a visit to Disneyland and Mel and I picked up the tab, for Rob's birthday gift. DisneyLand is a little weird, if you're used to Walt Disney WORLD, like I was. Joey's sister put it best: "It's like Bizarro-DisneyWorld: everything looks familiar, but it's different and all in the wrong places." After an amazing day in the park, Rob said that it was the best birthday gift he'd ever received from anybody. The day after, they took us to see a few sights in L.A., including the Sunset Strip, Amoeba Music, and some cool vintage cloting stores.

Rob mentioned that in addition to the lunar eclipse happening on his birthday, it also coincided with the planets aligning in the shape of the Star of David. I mused that perhaps this is foretelling of the Second Coming. ("Or the First, depending on your beliefs," Melissa added.) I always knew Rob would be the subject of some weird Prophecy involving aligned planets, and possibly a lost artifact, that would seal him as the Dark Lord Something-or-Other.

The wedding for Joey and bride Lea was not only beautiful, but fun to boot. I knew no one else besides the groom and his parents, but that didn't stop Melissa from working her social mojo no the crowd and making friends with a couple who work in makeup effects with the legendary Rick Baker (who did movies like "Men In Black"). She just has a knack for finding people with connections.

This was all great fun, and seeing Joey again was the best. Joey was the resident goofball in the Accidentals, and I became his understudy when I joined them in 1992. When he left, he passed the torch to me, and I passed it on to Mr. Brian Johnston in a long-standing tradition (and possibly a Union stipulation) that each a cappella group have a smart-ass in the bass section. Seeing Joey again brought back lots of fond memories but also made me realize how much I will miss him.

November 03, 2003

I called into 99x Saturday morning and won 2 tickets to see the band "Puddle of Mudd" on Tuesday. Also it's admission to the SoundCheck party beforehand. Melissa is really into the big hit of this group, "Blurry", as I am, but I really hate the rest of the stuff they've released. So after some thought, I said that she could go with someone else, and I'd stay home to watch the kid. (We're already leaving him with the Petreys for five days this weekend while we're in L.A. for Joey's wedding, so I figured that they're doing enough.) She'll probably take her friend, Melissa Welch, from her Tae Kwon Do Class.

Speaking of Mrs. Welch, we spent some time with her, her husband Matthew, and their daughter Caitlyn. They came to the Halloween gathering at Chez Petrey on Friday with the Pucketts, we attended Caitlyn's 6th birthday party on Saturday, and we took them up to Helen to see the fall foliage on Sunday. The birthday party took us to a DQ for lunch & Ice Cream cake, then to "Skate Country," where I acquired a few nice bruises and a messed up leg that I'm getting looked at tomorrow. Melissa, on the other hand, didn't take a single spill, and Matthew was surprisingly determined to get out on the floor in his tiny skates.

October 28, 2003

(I finally got around to posting the Trip Report:)

The Kerns Travel to London, October 1-7, 2003


London Fun Fact #1: London's major infrastructure has not changed in over 200 years. It's very humbling to visit restaurant toilets in London that are older than most "Historic" buildings in America. We found it amazing that people complain about the Tube so much. Compared to American Public Transportation, the London Underground was probably the most kept-up, clearly mapped and safe subway I've seen. But figuring that most of them have to rely on it to get everywhere, complaints are inevitable, just like complaining about traffic jams if you have a car.

That led into London Fun Fact #2: The city of London is not as spread out as you might think. People talked about traveling six tube stops as if it were some great distance, and then we find that there's only about 45 seconds between stops. Even so, we though it covered a good distance underground, but after walking the city we found that it was surprisingly fast to get around the city proper. We started off our Saturday with the tour of the Tower of London, where we stayed until after noon, then headed across Tower Bridge, passing magician David Blaine, hanging in his Plexiglas box. (We just don't get why he roused the people there so much. Yeah, it's kind of weird having a guy starving himself for 45 days hanging in a box, but why people got so worked up over it, I'll never know.)

We'd only planned on seeing a few things that day, but ended up walking halfway across the city, taking in the rebuilt Shakespeare's Globe Theater and the remnants of The Rose, and we thought we'd end the day in one of the parks. After walking through the pristine green space, we took a left towards the tube station to get us back to our hotel in South Kensington. Then the street opens up and we're looking at Buckingham Palace! We'd planned on leaving it off the itinerary because by the map, it looked like this was a good distance out, and here we run into such a major landmark quite by accident. The palace and the statues across from it were truly amazing to see.

I snapped a few pictures, and then we crossed the street into Green Park, which was another lovely, well-kept green space. At the end of Green Park, we crossed a few streets to the Hyde Park Corner tube station. We were amazed that we'd nearly walked the length of the inner city (Zone 1 on the tube maps), and decided to press our luck and walk the rest of the way back via Hyde Park and Knightsbridge. It ends up that Hyde Park's map was not drawn to the same forgiving scale as the city maps. Melissa and I were looking beleaguered and lost enough that a passer-by noticed and asked if we needed directions.

London Fun Fact #3: People in London are as friendly and helpful as they come. They are more than happy to impart any knowledge or directions to anyone who appears to need it, even if those people are too shy to ask. And unlike New York City residents, with their certain "You're a tourist? You suck! Wanna buy a T-shirt? You're a moron for buying my T-shirt!" charm, Londoners still seem flattered that you decided to visit, and generally treat tourists with a level of courtesy that American usually reserve for houseguests.

Before hitting the sack, we had dinner at a nice Italian joint down the street from the hotel. The food in London is excellent and there are countless beautiful pubs and little French bakeries everywhere you go. London Fun Fact #4: Tax in the UK (called “VAT” or “Value Added Tax”) is comparatively a bit high at 17%, but on the upside, Brits actually had the bright idea to INCLUDE the tax in the listed price of items. So if you buy a CD for 12.99, you pay 12.99 at the
register. We were in our beds watching television at 8 PM, absolutely exhausted and amazed at what we’d accomplished in just our first day.

This routine of getting up early, taking the tube and walking around the city for 9 hours and collapsing into our "Lucy & Ricky Ricardo Suite" separate beds continued for the rest of the trip. Miraculously, even though the city is fairly compact to American standards, we hardly ever saw two places in the city more than once. I'll spare the day-by-day details, but we saw all the major sights, like St. Paul's Cathedral, The London Eye, Trafalgar Square, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Modern Gallery, Piccadilly Circus (London's answer to Times Square), Carnaby Street in SoHo, Big Ben & the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and countless "minor" points of interest that were each older than our country. We saw so much more than we expected, we cancelled a guided walking tour that we'd scheduled because we had unintentionally seen most of the covered sights already, and the last thing we wanted to do was walk some more after 8:00 PM.

The notable exception to the routine was Sunday, when we were to travel to a small city called Milton Keynes where an event called "CollectorM@nia 4" was going on. It was a Sci-Fi fan fest where stars from shows and movies would come to sign autographs. This year, the organizers surprised everyone by scheduling seven actors from the "Lord of the Rings" movies, most notably Hobbits Sean Astin ("Sam"), Dominic Monaghan ("Merry") and Elijah Wood ("Frodo"). Melissa, whose level of obsession with the “Lord of the Rings” rivals Chicago’s obsession with the Cubs, ASSURES me that it was “sheer coincidence” that the date of this event overlapped our planned dates to visit London.

We rose at 4:00 AM to catch the train to Milton Keynes, and hailed a Taxi at 4:45. London Fun Fact #5: London taxis cleaner than most American limousines and the drivers are likely the most personable, talkative people you’ll ever hire. Halfway to the train station, the man asked us when we were leaving for the airport. We told him probably around 10:00 and he frowned. “That’s a shame, I’ll be off shift then. If it were a bit earlier, I’d have come and picked you up,” he said. Not only are they quite friendly, their grasp of the city layout is impeccable.

CollectorM@nia 4 was a story in itself. We met Sean Astin and Dominic Monaghan, and ended up meeting Elijah Wood, even though we didn’t expect to. Melissa brought them each a thoughtful gift and she got autographs and hugs in return. Needless to say, this made Melissa’s year. I got some good pictures of the exchange, and I’ve spent the remainder of the past month recounting the play-by-play to her.

We made some friends while waiting in line and on the way to and from the event. While speaking with these individuals, I discovered London Fun Fact #6: The British accent is very easy to pick up, and it’s difficult not to slip into it. As far as I can tell, the British language is more about intonation, pacing and ending your sentences in questions than it is about different words. The latter of these lends itself to the famous, dry British wit. The American stereotype that all Brits speak Cockney is about as accurate as the European stereotype that all Americans are cowboys.

The trip ended all too soon and we flew out of London-Gatwick that Tuesday. We returned to Atlanta with the following souvenir inventory:

  • 1 well-worn London Underground map with South Kensington station circled
  • 1 notepad with the addresses of some great people we met at CollectorM@nia
  • 1 “Royal Bowling Set” (Six plush, vaguely royal pins and a foam ball), purchased at the Tower of London for Matthew.
  • 1 key chain and 1 magnet, each bearing a picture of us on the London Eye overlooking the Thames River for Melissa and me
  • 1 small raven figurine from the Tower of London for Brenda.
  • Programs from each art gallery we visited for Jay
  • 1 Official “David Blaine-in-a-Box”™ playset by Mattel
  • 1 “Ministry of Sound: The Chillout Session – Summer 2003” CD compilation from the Piccadilly Circus Tower Records store for me
  • 2 autographed Hobbit Pictures (Sam & Merry) for Melissa
  • 1 autographed Hobbit Picture (Sam) for Heather
  • 2 Cadbury chocolate bars for Craig
  • 1 Cuban Cigar for Justin from a Duty Free shop
  • 176 digital pictures of architecture, Mini Coopers, pubs, monuments, cityscapes, parks and Hobbits


PS: I’m only kidding about the “David Blaine-in-a-Box.” It’s actually made by Hasbro.

October 22, 2003

I've spent countless hours toiling in the back rooms of libraries around the greater Atlanta area, searching for the truth that I knew was out there...
Fellow Blogger Dave Barry reports on The Link between Episcopalianism and hating the NY Yankees.

October 08, 2003

Back from London last night. Had a great time, will fill in details soon. Returned to work today to find that a new 19" monitor had been ordered for me. Since I doubt my department would have the foresight to attempt lulling me into a false sense of security, I'll take this as a vote of confidence in my employment status.

September 24, 2003

The Parents left on Monday, having had a great visit with us. An earlier discussion with my father about how we didn't have the cash to fix my windshield right now, led to a mystery phone call Monday from SafeLite Auto Glass. Apparently, dad had set up an appointment to have them come out and replace the windshield, and had already given Melissa the cash to pay for it. Apparently, it's an early Christmas gift.

That's so like my parents. Ever since they moved to Hawaii ten years ago, they don't know what frivolous stuff I may want, but they find out what I actually NEED, such as a working television or a Futon-Couch, and get it for me. They're so darned practical, and God bless them for it. Now that I'm an adult, and I don't need to be surprised by shiny new toys under the tree on December 25th, I can always count on them to get me something I actually need, but might not think to ask for.

In other news, we are T-minus 7 days and counting until the London Trip... and we don't have reservations for anything except the plane and the room. AIIIGH!

September 19, 2003

First off, let me say "Arrrrrrr" to ye, me hearties. Welcome to "Talk Like a Pirate Day"!! The holiday is spreading like... er.. Peanut Butter. (Sorry, trying to keep it PG-13, but I got nothing. ) Now the Pirates have expanded into the world of poerty with the Pirate Hauku Contest.

In other news, after submitting the link to my DragonCon gallery page to TheOneRing.Net, I succeeded in exceeding my bandwidth limit in under 24 hours!!! Have patience, all, as I am securing alternate non-Geocities webspace as I write this.

My parents are in town this weekend, and they look good. My dad asked me what they could buy Melissa for Christmas this year, and I had no ideas. It's at least two months before I start thinking about that sort of thing. I suggested a BestBuy gift certificate. "It sounds impersonal, but she really likes the DVD's and music, and it's the best way to ensure that she gets what she really wants," I told him. This morning, I called Melissa to ask her what my parents could get her, and she replied "Probably a BestBuy gift certificate would be best. Clothes wouldn't be a good bet, and I'll always need music & movies."

Not only do I know my wife, but DAMN do I love her!!! A woman who wants the same as me for Christmas!! For everybody else, you can browse our Wish List at Amazon.Com for some ideas, wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more say no more.

September 18, 2003

I'm very much looking forward to national "Talk Like A Pirate Day" tomorrow. Let me see if I've got this "Pirate" lingo down... Ahem...

"I just pulled this copy of 'The Two Towers' from the Alt.Binaries.Movies.Yo.Ho.Yo.Ho newsgroup and burned it to my DVD-R Drive. It's a screener copy with 'For Your Consideration' that appears every half hour or so under the letterbox. Apart from that and the fact that the sound isn't 5.1, it's practically FLAWLESS... Me Hearties"

or: "Arrr...I just Kazaa-ed the complete works of Joan Baez on 128Kb/s MP3's."

Yeah, I think I got it down....
In a blow to sweet-toothed kids and adults alike, the famous "5-Second Rule" has been scientifically disproven.

September 16, 2003

Craig just informed me that That 80's Band has taken my advice and started up a store at CafePress.com. For those who don't know, you give them a logo, select the products you want it on (a t-shirt, mug, mousepad, etc.), set the prices and they do the rest. Probably the best on-line business idea since Amazon.

So, why not Visit the "That 80's Band" Shop? (Good stuff, but I'm a little weary about the Thong.)

In other news, Countdown to London is in full swing, Melissa and I are finalizing plans for our trip, excitedly. Plus, my parents are coming to town this weekend for their annual "Whirlwind Tour" to visit the family. They'll be surprised how much Matthew has grown.

September 12, 2003

A tragedy today on top of the 9/11 remembrances: Johnny Cash and John Ritter, who played 'Jack Tripper' on 'Three's Company', died today. It's a real blow for me, because Jack Tripper was a very influential character in my life. It was my favorite show when I was growing up, and I based my whole funny-guy persona on Jack Tripper. When I heard the news it was like a part of myself had died as well. I liked him on "8 Simple Rules" and as J.D.'s dad on "Scrubs." He will be sorely missed by me, and by a generation who was influenced by his acting and personality.

September 11, 2003

A day after the events of 9/11/2001, I recounted the event and wrote down my thoughts, as not to forget:


Amazing, the sense of perspective that you get when something so universally deplorable happens. What the heck were we bickering about a couple of days ago, a few accounting practices that might tap into the Social Security fund? Just 24 short hours ago, a little economic slump was the most horrible thing that we could imagine. What this country wouldn't give to have those comparatively petty problems this morning.

Around 9:00 AM yesterday, I was reading my e-mail at my desk when Forrest McDonald said that some plane had hit the World Trade Center. It wasn't said with any grand sense of tragedy, so I imagined a small passenger craft and an inexperienced pilot. A few minutes later, Melissa called me and said that a second plane had hit the other tower, and that they were hijacked commercial airliners. Everything was changed in my mind at that moment. No mere mechanical failure or simple airline crash now. And one crashed in each tower within fifteen minutes of each other! There was no doubt, it was an organized terrorist attack on the United States.

I hung up with Melissa to run to the cafeteria, where there was a television that was kept to CNN all the time. Half of the company was there already. I saw the video of the second plane coming into view of the already-burning North Tower, then swoop behind and crash headlong into the South Tower. It was a scene that Jerry Bruckheimer couldn't hope to produce in a dozen lifetimes. The horrible speed, the sight of a commercial airliner that had become the world's largest cruise missile crashing into the building, and almost out the other side. The silence in the room was only broken by hushed voices saying "Oh my God," and speaking hushed details into their cell phones. CNN played the tape over and over, and it got worse each time.

I returned to my cube, intent on getting some other information from the Internet. A few minutes later, Melissa called back and told me that there was an explosion at the Pentagon. I shut down my computer and returned to the cafeteria to watch. Then, around 10:00, the South Tower crumbled and disappeared in an all-engulfing cloud of dust and debris. No warning, the top just fell straight down and everything in between that and the ground was reduced to a cloud of concrete dust that covered most of Manhattan. They repeated the video again and again. Confirmed: The explosion at the Pentagon was another hijacked passenger jet, flown kamikaze into the main building. The plane penetrated the whole building, to the inner ring. We'd later find out that around 800 Military and civilian personnel were killed in the impact.

As I sat there in disbelief with the rest of the company, CNN was looping the tape of the collapsing South Tower. Then, suddenly, the North Tower followed suit, falling into itself and collapsing to the ground. Two of the world's tallest buildings, symbols of capitalism that had been there just 90 minutes ago, were no more. A haze of dust and debris settled over Manhattan Island.

There was no bomb, no device. Just terrorists that knew that two flights from Boston to L.A. would have enough fuel left, if hijacked in the first hour, to create an explosion that could take down a large building. Reports came in that there was a fourth plane that had just crashed near Pittsburgh, PA. Rumors began to spread. Melissa said that one news agency reported that an Islamic Extremist group was taking responsibility, and they said that it was not over. Some reports came in that there was a suspicious plane that was spotted over the White House (REALLY illegal airspace). The FAA, in a historic move, grounded all air traffic and closed all airports nationwide. All Incoming domestic flights were redirected to Canada. No one was going anywhere, but that was just fine with the nation, if it meant that another plane wasn't going to be hijacked. For some unexplained reason, the National Mall was on fire, but that was the last of the attacks.

I kept in constant contact with Melissa over my cell phone. When I heard about the plane crash near Pittsburgh, I instructed her to check the Caller ID and call My parents' Cell. My folks were on their annual Whirlwind tour of L.A., Pennsylvania and Georgia to visit Rob, Grandma and me. They didn't answer, so she called Grandma directly. They had no idea what was going on, they were quietly eating breakfast without the TV on. They were safe, nowhere near the plane crash. It was still up in the air if they'd be able to make the last leg of their trip to Georgia, with the country-wide Airport closings.

There was little time for relief when the news stopped coming and it seemed to be over. The silence just gave us time to fully absorb what had just happened. This was a coordinated terrorist attack on the United States, on a scale that we'd never imagined. There was an estimated 20,000 people that work and visit the World Trade center every day around 9:00. There was some time to evacuate the buildings, but not much. So as many as 1,500 may have been killed in the buildings themselves, not counting the people on the street or nearby buildings that were crushed by falling debris or suffocated in the concrete dust. To add insult to injury, nearly 230 Paramedics and Police Officers were in the towers, trying to save the victims of the impact, when the towers collapsed on themselves.

Also, these planes must have been flown by the hijackers themselves, because no pilot would willingly kill not only his passengers, but thousands of others, by flying into the World Trade Center. This meant that the hijackers were skilled pilots. These were Boeing 767's we're talking about, not just any old Piper Saratoga that any Tom Dick & Harry could learn to fly. And these pilots were very good. The plane that struck the Pentagon flew in low along the roadway, keeping a level altitude of no more than 50 feet, snapping light posts on the wings as it went. To have that much control over a hulking plane like that takes years of training.

Steve, my current manager, gave us the word that we could go home if we wished. Melissa was in really bad shape, and I felt horrible. There was going to be no work done today. As I passed over the Buford Dam, Park Rangers had sealed off all guest areas and there were eight Ranger and police vehicles protecting the Hydroelectric plant on the Dam. I got home, had a brief lunch, and was glued to CNN.

Later that night, reports came over the Internet that gas prices were quickly rising, even doubling in some areas. I had to retire to the computer for some solace. I just had to escape the scenes that played on continuous loops on the television. There was no new news, thankfully. I returned, briefly, to CNN in time to see some new tapes. I saw thousands of New York citizens silently, calmly evacuating the island of Manhattan. The walkways of the bridges teeming with human traffic. No words from the commentators on this scene, it spoke for itself. Then came an image that was equally as moving. They showed the lines around the block in front of the Red Cross offices in New York. Untold thousands were waiting up to five hours in line to give blood. Shortly after that, the whole of Congress met on the steps of the Capitol Building to announce their sympathies, their outrage, and their unanimous support of George W. Bush, whatever actions that he might take. At the end of the statement, the whole of Congress started an impromptu rendition of "God Bless America."

I don't think that I've ever had such a strong sense of national pride as I did after seeing these three scenes play out. And for the first time all day, I got the feeling that although we had endured the world's most horrific terrorist attack in history and the death toll would be in the thousands, that life would go on. The situation would be dealt with. Our nation would recover. America was still great. Though evil people may kill us by the thousands, thousands more will stand in their place and defend our country. There will be retribution. This evil will not go unpunished.




In hindsight, we were all mistaken in thinking that this would just be another war, one with a country and a person that we could easily target and remove. And no one could foresee that this, possibly the greatest tragedy to befall the American people, would be so blatantly used for personal gains by those in power. Dubya is no better than the Islamic fundamentalists that he hates so much, by using it to rally the people to a cause that was his own. I'll cut the political commentary short, but it just sickens me how the current administration has exploited this horrific event.


To the thousands who lost their lives in the events of 9/11/2001 in New York and The Pentagon:
We remember you, we continue in our attempts to right the wrong done to you, and we hope to prevent such a tragedy in the future. God Bless you.

September 10, 2003

Last night, while working on Melissa's new Dragon*Con 2003 gallery, the phone rang.

Me: Hello?
Man: Yes, I was interested in the silencers from your ad, and I was wondering how you got around the legality issue.
Me: What? Silencers? I think you have a wrong number.
Man: Is this not (Company Name) Armaments? (Gives my phone number)?
Me: That's my number, but no, this is a house. (pause) WHAT were you looking for?
Man: I was reading an ad for silencers in the new issue of "Shotgun News," and they listed this as their number.
Me: Sir, I have never so much as held a gun in my life, so I really can't help you. You said this number was given out in a magazine?
Man: Yes, Shotgun News. Look, sorry for the ring, but this is the number in the ad. (laughs) Well, you'll probably be getting some phone calls then.

The man was very helpful, even calling the magazine to inform them of the error. He called back afterwards to tell me that the magazine apologized for the error, and it would only run for two weeks until they could fix it in the next issue. Yes, very helpful, but I kept thinking "This man was calling here looking to buy a shotgun silencer." Looks like we have a fun month of evening calls to look forward to. This situation is just surreal enough to be my life.

Justin thinks I should answer the phone with something funny, but I think I'll play it safe and NOT piss off people who read any magazine called "Shotgun News" and have my phone number. I don't mean to stereotype them, but what about the shotgun could be newsworthy enough to fill a magazine every two weeks?

September 08, 2003

Friday night, after dropping Matthew off at Chez Petrey, Melissa, Heather, Leanne and I caught Craig and That 80's Band at "The Cavern" in Alpharetta. Justin met us there, as an added bonus. The entire place was called the Chattahoochee Lodge. One side was "The Little Hooch", which was like a Chuck E. Cheese place, complete with the giant HamsterTrail for kids to climb in. In the middle was the Restaurant, and on the other end was The Cavern, the bar & stage area. It all had a cool wilderness theme with rocks & trees and texidemied animals all over. Major cool points for making the sound & lighting board into a Treehouse. I hope that T8B gets a regular gig there, we really loved the place.

Saturday, we had a day with Larry & Jennifer McHale. (Larry teaches programming classes at The Seale Group, nad is a friend of Pete Mitchell.) The idea was that Jennifer & Melissa would go off to the "Yellow Daisy Festival" (now officially the largest crafts festival in the world), and leave us men with the kids (Matthew, their 14 year-old son Kallan and their 2 year-old daughter Sydney). The women spent the day in shopping nirvana. We hung out at the house, ran to the mall for lunch, talked computer stuff whilst the kids napped, and then watched a movie. Matthew & Sydney got along well, after her initial "No! That's MINE! That's mine TOO!" tirade was over. It was a great chill-out afternoon, all in all.

September 03, 2003

A Pithy Exchange...
Quincy, A friend of mine from my year's stint over at Cingular, has found the man of his dreams, and is having a commitment ceremony later this month. He invited Melissa and I, along with co-workers and guys he sings with in the Atlanta Gay Men's Chorus. The invitation listed a "Luau" theme, and I wrote him today to clarify what that meant...
---------------------------------

Chris: Sorry, Quincy,one more thing... My wife wants to know if the Luau theme of the ceremony would mean Hawaiian shirts are acceptable dress?

Quincy: Yes. We expect everyone to be casual and have a good time.

C: Thanks, I don't think that will be a problem. Having my parents on Oahu, I'm always looking for an excuse to break out my Kahala Shirts... :-)

Q: LOL..... For a minute there I thought you were going to say ..... your grass skirt. (g)

C: No, no, nothing like that. It would be somewhat inappropriate to break out into my famous "There's Nothing Like A Dame" routine from South Pacific at a commitment ceremony, don't you think? ;-)

Q: Maybe not....... There will be many of the chorus guys there that would join in with you, I'm sure.

September 02, 2003

Chris' Weekend Dragon*Con report (2003)

This past weekend, Melissa, Matthew and I attended Dragon*Con (they're pretty picky about that "*") with Craig & Heather. This is the first time I've stayed overnight, or even attended more than one day of it, and let me tell you, it's a whole different experience. Melissa came dressed as Frodo, quite well, I might add. Her friend Heather made her an excellent replica of the "Fellowship Cloak" from the movies. She got some well-deserved attention from Connies and her on-line home, TheOneRing.net (seen at http://www.theonering.net/scrapbook/group/957/view/8230), and she even became involved in probably the most memorable event of the weekend. But I'll save that for last...

First surprise of the weekend: While reading through the guest list, I happened upon the name of fellow Lipscombite Josh Krach. Apparently he did the story for a “Justice League America” comic line a few years back and is getting his foot in the door of the industry. I still swear to God that Ben Affleck was channeling him in "Chasing Amy." Kathleen was there, now a PhD in Child Psychology, and with the pesky degree out of the way, they moved back to Georgia with all haste. They just moved into their new house in McDonnough (sp?) on Saturday. He's a good comic book writer, also doing Graphic Design to pay the bills.

"Josh's Happy-Fun-Time Horror Web Comic"
Go to http://www.NextComics.com/ and choose "Full Dark"

Next, whilst enjoying the refreshments at the "Con Suite", (such as “Spam-Balaya” and “Spam ‘N Grits”), who would pass me by but TREVOR, complete with shaved head and Pirate do-rag! ("Heh HEH!!") He's working IT Support like 90% of the other Con people here. (I overheard someone say that if a bomb went off at DragonCon, the entire southeast would be plunged into an I.T. dark age. Probably right.) Add all of this together with the chance meeting of Keith and (I assume) his wife at Target last week, and I'm starting to think that Lipscomb Hall 1993 was some sort of temporal Nexus, kind of like 1955 was for “Back to the Future.” I even ran into a co-worker and someone I marched with in the Parkview High School Band. ("Yes, I played the flute. NO, I don’t have any stories about Band Camp.")

Melissa met up with some fellow Hobbits, and we all went across the street to the Hyatt, where everyone hangs out in the lobby with their costumes to get photographed. I saw everything from Rocky Horror to a classic Nosferatu to some convincing Logan / Wolverines. There was even a group of G.I. Joes & COBRA's. (Too many to name, I'll send links to the pictures when I get them all scanned.) We took off with the Hobbits around 10 PM to get dinner, and when we returned, it was literally wall-to-wall geeks. It took 20 minutes to cross the lobby. We quickly decided it was time to go, so Melissa said her goodbyes to the other "Ringers", and Craig & I waited downstairs, next to a table where a top-heavy "Strawberry Shortcake" and a Gen-X Alice in Wonderland were flashing judging cards on the men who walked by.

(And now, the part where Melissa got Infamous.)
Melissa got into an elevator going up, in an attempt to ride it down to meet us. when it returned to the Photo Lobby, a hotel worker told her and another Hobbit to clear out, they were commandeering the elevator. Melissa told them that her son and I were waiting downstairs, that she waited 15 minutes for this elevator, and made some helpful suggestions of where they could stick that suggestion. "Okay, fine," said the worker, "but move back." And what turns the corner but a group of 8-foot-high characters from the children's book "Where The Wild Things Are." Melissa never liked this book, in fact it gave her the creeps. And now, the huge Chicken of the group was coming to join her in a cramped elevator. She and the other Hobbit were clawing at the back of the glass elevator to get out. The crowd, who loves a good cross-over, totally ate up the "Hobbits Terrorized by the Wild Things" irony, raised a cheer, and it became the most photographed event since Jerry Springer appeared on stage with GWAR. So many flashes were going off that I saw the light from downstairs. By early counts, this appears to be the most memorable event of the Con for most people.
DCON2003_Mel and the Chicken

When she met us downstairs, Melissa looked as if she'd just been forced to watch "Gigli" for 24 hours straight, "Clockwork Orange" style: She was sweating, her eyes were dilated, her hands were shaking and she barely was able to stutter out that she had to get out of here NOW. Craig and I were happy to oblige. I can admit it, I'm just a pedestrian, twice-a-month gamer geek, and I was WAY out of my depth here. Dragon*Con is the three days of the year that the geek is top of the food chain, and everyone has a shot at getting laid, even if it is with a fellow geek. When it gets to be the last night of the Con, most of the lukewarm fans have left, and what remains is the most hardcore of the crowd, trying for one last (or first) fling before the spawning season is over for another year. You may laugh, but it IS like watching a National Geographic special.

All in all, this was a great experience. Even Matthew enjoyed it. I know what better to expect when we do this again, and we have lots of pictures to remember it, (again, scans & uploading pending). I'd highly recommend it to all of you.

April 03, 2003

A little over a month ago, when news came down that my division was being purchased by a company based out of Irvine, California, I was a little concerned. The new company might decide to shut down the Atlanta operations and consolidate us somewhere else. I broke the news to Melissa that a move to California might be in our future. To my surprise, neither of us seemed to be opposed to the idea of moving.

We love our little house in Flowery Branch, GA, but we both think that we took ourselves out of town a little prematurely. The only thing holding us here is our wonderful church and a mortgage. We're on the blunt edge of civilization up here, and almost 45 minutes from anything cultural in the metro Atlanta area. We fell into the misconception that temporarily clouds most parents minds: Now that we have a child, we have to be responsible, give the child 100% of our attention, forsaking all social events and most contact with other people. Yes, a child needs attention, and it nearly IS 100% of your time early on, but once you can take the kid to a restaurant or leave him/her with a friend or family member, you have a green light to re-enter society as a whole. You may never again attain the swinging hipster lifestyle that you once knew, (probably a good thing for most of us), but you can take in a movie or see a show once in a while.

Many married couples and new parents end up locking themselves into the lifestyle that they're in for the rest of their adult life: This is going to be the hairstyle that I keep (or attempt to keep) for the rest of my life. I'll bowl in the Sunday Night Mixed League. Wednesday is Pizza and Blockbuster Rental night. This is my clothing style. This is the music I listen to. These are not usually conscious decisions, they just become habit. And with little change to your relationship to the outside world, there is little to influence changes in these habits. This is not always a bad thing, because these things might really make people happy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Melissa and I realized that we were slowly locking ourselves into our current habits, but we were not content to have this be our new routine. So we are consciously making a decision to change our lives, to evolve. We're not going to shave our heads and join a commune or anything, we just want to expose ourselves to a different place. It's beyond the simple wanderlust of a new locale, it's the curiosity of how your person will change in a new set of circumstances. Like boiling the salt out of seawater and adding it to another liquid will create an entirely new substance. It's an intriguing concept, to be sure.

March 31, 2003

Melissa and I have discussed our London Travel plans with our parents, and they think it's a great idea. Melissa's parents have taken a lot of worries off our minds by volunteering to watch Matthew for that week. It would just be too much hassle, and he would get nothing out of the trip at this age. It's the same reason that we didn't visit my parents in Hawaii for Christmas this past year. Justin's father is a travel agent, and he found us some nice tickets on British Airways for $525 apiece, saving us about $400 from the On-line quotes we got. Not too shabby!

March 19, 2003

I just stopped my friend Amos in the hall. He's an army reservist, and he shares my opinion of "I support the troops 100%, but I do not support the president." He made a very good point: Saddam has had ten years to prepare for this war. He's dug the trenches, set up the bunkers and rigged the oil fields. He also knows the few ways that an attack could come into his country, so he's had time enough to prepare not only a defense, but an attack.

One more thought on this: Iraq, as a whole, is in a win-win situation. By defying us, Saddam is supporting his country and it's people. And when he loses, we'll spend billions of dollars to bring the country into the 20th century with housing, food and infrastructure. Then we'll set up a democratic government. Sounds great, but what that actually MEANS is that the people of Iraq can choose their leader freely. So in five years, after we've built them out of the stone age, they can say "Thanks for everything America, now we want this OTHER militant tyrant to be in charge. Don't let the door hit your @ss on the way out..."
Well, the impending war on Iraq is only hours away. The government is planning to unleash over 3000 missiles and prescision-guided bombs on Iraq in the first two days of the fight in order to "establish their intentions" and the level of force to be expected. My first question was "Are there 3000 military targets in Iraq?" I doubt it. So they'll improvise, and even with prescision bombs and missiles, you'll get innocent lives lost.

Now I'm no "Dixie Chick," but I have my doubts about our intentions on this conflict. Sure, Disarm by force, been there & done that. Then we have this whole Imperialism angle: to ENSURE that no more "evil-doers" can perpetuate in Iraq, we'll be setting up a democratic government. SURE. That'll fly. Yes, the people are oppressed and Democracy is a good idea, generally, but did we forget that these people are the same ones who flock in droves to the palaces and military targets, to be human shields? Yeah, they would just be IDEAL candidates for an American-led democracy crammed down their throats. Does "The Infidel in the Holy Land" ring a bell?

The Onion, always good for putting things in perspective, gives their take on the upcoming war in Iraq .

In other news, Joey Googe gave me a call last night. He's living in the midwest, and he is just about to ask his girlfriend of three years to marry him. I am so happy for this guy! And he wants me to be a Groomsman! The wedding is supposed to be in Georgia at the end of the year.

March 13, 2003

Tried meeting for lunch with the ALLTEL gang today, and we missed them. Justin, Melissa and Matthew showed up, but the rest of them were missing. Later on, they called, saying they were at the OTHER Taco Mac. Oh well, had a great lunch anyway. Justin was very interested in our vacationing plans to London. His new job is going well for him, and Mel and I couldn't be happier for him. He's had more than his share of crap dealt to him over the past year.

Justin lost his job last year beacuse his boss, who's had it out for him for some time, demanded a medical history from his visit to the doctor, not just a note. This is highly illegal for good reason, in case an employee has a condition that the employer might exploit as a reason to fire him. Well, Justin has a condition that he deals with, let's say "Lycanthropy" for the sake of argument, which in no way hinders his work performance. He, of course, refused to provide this to his employer, and she told him not to return to work without it. A few days later, he got an e-mail form the company saying that they no longer would be needing his services. Being fired for making a legal stand against a prick is much better than being fired for having some questionable medical condition.

In any case, his excellent work ethic and people skills are well appreciated in his new job. Justin is my blood brother, ever since high school. He is the most decent, unselfish, friendly, hillarious and offbeat person I know. My only hope for him now is that some lucky girl would find this out. Yes, he has quirks, as we all do, but he's the man that I would trust with my life, the person who's been there for me for over ten years, and the guy who should have been my Best Man. Lonliness is the only condition he hasn't been able to overcome in his life.

March 11, 2003

A landmark event: Melissa has agreed to forego the annual trip to DisneyWorld this year in favor of vacationing somewhere else. Given, she already had a long weekend there last month with Heather, but she’s now willing to abandon the annual week-long tour-de-force. (Can’t expect an addict to go cold turkey in one year, can you?) This change of heart is due to a couple of factors: (1) With 5 years of service at my company, I now get 3 weeks of vacation, and (2) Melissa & I want to visit London.

I’ve always been keenly interested in London, been curious about life there, and wanted to visit sometime. When my Best Man and former friend Todd returned to Georgia after a couple of years’ schooling in Detford, (which is somewhere between Dublin and Paris, I’m told), there was a brief return to the English fascination that engulfed my group in High School. Every Monty Python-quoting geek and/or Drama student would spend hours talking to one another in their horrid, fake cockney English accents. These accents were to us, like a high school garage band: Even if you were horrible at it, there was a sense of cool achieved just for engaging in it. Amazing how skewed the “Cool System” was back then.

In any case, we’re currently looking into travel packages for a 5-day stay in London proper. Matthew will probably not get much out of the trip, but he’s not yet at the age where each trip must include a daily visit to a McDonalds PlayPlace. As long as they serve Macaroni & Cheese at some point on the trip, Matthew will be satisfied. Failing that, we can bring it with us.

March 05, 2003

I was dressed up in the standard-issue blue blazer & khakis for my court appearance last night. I waited in the courtroom with Ron, going over the judge's pamphlets listing the various pleas and the implications of each. I stated that I'd like to do a Defensive Driving course, since it would only cost me about $80, and the accident would be expunged from my record. After two hours of sitting with equally uncomfortable traffic violators, the Solicitor called us over.

The woman who hit me did not show up. I was there, that contractor who witnessed the accident was there, but no Ms. Simmons. "Well, that's good for YOU," Said the solicitor,"we've no choice but to dismiss, unless you WANT me to do something?" I replied that it wasn't necessary, I didn't want to put her out. I thanked her and the witness, and left the building to call Melissa. Much relief was shared by all. I drove home a la "Jerry Maguire", searching the radio for a good song to sing along with. I left a voice mail for Rob (my Lawyer-to-be Brother). Later that night, he called the house, a bit weird. Apparently, Rob had forgotten about my court case, so was very confused upon hearing me say "I'm a free man! The B*tch didn't show up!" He wondered what horrible thing had happened that I would leave Melissa for standing me up for something, until he remembered the court case. Juuuust a bit on the outside.

Anyway, that dark cloud is gone, and life is good.

March 04, 2003

Had lunch with Margaret and Jemson (my Project Manager and Programmer from my Cingular Contract last year, respectively). I'm on that weird Birmingham Diet, so I was supposed to eat my "1 Cup of Cottage Cheese, 5 Saltine Crackers and Tea" but I decided that seeing them was more important. Margaret's been great this past year, giving me lots of kudos and support, and finally a nice, bright Project Review for my Resource Manager to read. Heck, with such a glowing review, I might just get a pay increase that outpaces the inflation rate this year!!! Jemson was the best programmer to work with last year. He an I worked so well together, and our families even met up at DisneyWorld over Christmas Break!

I thought it was so nice to Blog, I introduced it to Melissa (the Wife). She loves to write, but only has fragments of time during the day to do it, taking care of Matthew (the 1-Year old), so I thought it would be a perfect fit. Eventually, we want to write a children's book together. She'd do the writing, I'd draw the pictures. Although, seriously, I've got a long way to go. It took me four months worth of lunch breaks to get a decent cartoon of a giraffe and an inchworm, and I still can't draw them DOING much of anything.

Still a little worried about the traffic court thing tonight. Not like it'll send me to The Big House or anything, I just want it over without a lot of fuss.

March 03, 2003

Tomorrow is my date in Traffic Court. It's just an arraignment (sp?), so no real trial as yet, I just have to go there & pray the cop, the plaintiff, or the witness don't show up. Perhaps karma will be with me. If not, it's off to trial, I've got to hire a lawyer, and I'll have to get ugly with this lady.
Well Miss So-and-so, did you actually have insurance at the time of the accident? NO? Did you give the officer a name of a fake insurance company in order to disguise this fact? Yes!
Did you get a Georgia Driver's License, since you were residing in the state over 30 days at the time of the accident? NO?
Mr. Officer, did this accident happen at shift change? Yes. Were you the relief for the original officer at the scene? Yes. Did you get a summary from the original officer, and only then, ask the persons involved what happened? Yes. So you could have a skewed perspective of the scene, could you not? Yes. Did you document the accident scene AT ALL, even a sketch on the back of a napkin? No.

Anyway, I don't like to get ugly, I hope this lady just doesn't show up and I can get on with my life. The accident happened about 5 months ago, and it's been a dark cloud hanging over me ever since. Ron, My father-in-law in good standing, will be accompanying me. Wish me luck.
Welcome to the new Blog! I figure that this is worth a try, seeing as I only update my home page every year or so, now that I have a kid. Let's see if this one works.