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.