The Blob

Saturday, October 12, 2002

You can start breathing again

Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.

To my wife

How many of us take time to thank our loved ones for just being them? For remembering things we forget. For doing little things to help you get out the door on time in the morning. For listening to you when you've had a bad day. For cooking. Or cleaning up. Or doing an errand because you don't have time. For just being there. And for being there in your corner every day.

That's my wife. If my life was a jigsaw puzzle before, she is the missing piece that makes my puzzle complete. If I stop to think why my life is good, and why it's better now than it was 8 years ago, I don't have to think very hard. I'm not lonely any more, because someone loves me. I'm not worried any more, because someone is thinking of me. I'm happy, because someone laughs with me, and makes me laugh. I feel strong inside, because I have someone who is living life with me.

Every day there is a smile. A hug. A happy, comforting voice. And a voice of encouragement.

All of this is because of Rita, my wife.

I can't do enough for her. My deepest hope is that I will remember these words. Every day.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Problem Solved

I love ingenuity. When I see it in action, I'm reminded of how many people in this world run circles around me with their practical intelligence. Something I saw yesterday is a case in point. A bit offbeat and over-the-top maybe, but that's why it was a Kodak moment.

At work yesterday, I realized I left something in my car that I desperately needed: a $1 bill (so that I could buy a can of Red Bull). Heading toward the door, I couldn't help but notice a long orange extension cord leading outside. This was my first warning that something unusual was taking place.

It gets better. So keep reading.

The orange extension cord led outside to a rack-mount server computer server removed from its usual home in a raised-floor computer room. Correction: a really, really expensive server. One that costs a lot of money. The server was plugged in and running on the sidewalk outside my office. Standing over it was our company's chief Uber-geek, with a hose in hand. I'm all for baptism and purification ceremonies, but when you start pouring water on a server computer that just so happens to be operating at the time, bad things can only result. Really bad things. But that was the aim of this exercise: to bring bad things to the fore. Trust me - it was not a pretty sight.

Now, if you're like me, you're probably wondering why a brilliant, highly-trained Uber-geek would pour water onto a computer that had 110 volts AC coursing through it. When I stopped laughing at the sight of this to ask our resident mad scientist why he was launching an electronic simulation of what may soon happen to all of the residences of one Saddam Hussein, the answer I got made me laugh even more.

"Here's my problem," he explained. "Something is wrong with this server. We have a service contract that costs us a lot of money. But the computer company won't honor the problem we've been having with the server - they want something catastrophic to happen before they'll come out to fix it."

By now, he had my attention.

"So, I figured I had to create a small catastrophe," he continued. "So, take one server, place it on the ground, plug it in, and introduce a stream of cold water on it. Problem solved."

Strange and wonderful all at once. I live for moments like this.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

The first sounds of the morning

I have no reason to be grumpy first thing in the morning. Sleepy, yes. But grumpy, no. I only have to close my eyes and listen to realize why.

My wife is asleep when I first get up at 5:30 AM each day. That’s a peaceful sound. And if I stagger up to our bedroom windows as I rub my eyes, I can hear the calls of two great horned owls in the trees nearby. There’s something about hearing owls that makes me comfortable. If owls can live in the woods near our home, our neighborhood is a good place to be.

I use the bathroom off our second bedroom to finish off after showering. As I walk through the darkened bedroom (actually, an office) toward the bathroom, I will usually hear a soft happy purring. It’s Java, our cat, curled up in one of the office chairs where she likes to sleep. Few sounds are more comforting than that of a happy kitten. Even though I can’t see her in the darkness, I follow the sounds until I find that spot under her chin where she loves to be rubbed.

By now, a chorus is slowly building up in the trees surrounding our house. Song sparrows, house finches and an assortment of other birds combine to make a peaceful and beautiful song. It’s amazing how pure their voices can be.

If these quiet sounds can’t start your day right, I don’t know what would. Wait a minute – I know: the sound of an espresso machine.

Bubble gum: Threat or Menace?

Yes, it's chewy. Yes, it's delicious. Yes, it's fun. And that's what makes bubble gum so damned insidious. Slowly but surely, without modern society taking notice, bubble gum has become ubiquitous. It's everywhere. And that is the problem.

Think of bubble gum as junk food terrorism. That's because it's not just in your mouth, it's stuck to just about everything else. Go ahead. Take a look at the bottom of your shoe. You'll find some there. It's probably on your carpet. Or stuck to something else that matters to you. But if you try to clean it off, you can't. And each day, there's more and more of it stuck to something. Quietly, this is turning into a grave national crisis.

I don't know about you, but I think this must be addressed by the local authorities. Citizens committees should be formed. Arm bands distributed. Upstanding people in our community deputized. Watch groups should patrol our streets, every watchful of someone dropping a piece of pre-chewed bubble gum on a hot sidewalk. Yes, it's a tragedy. But it's a tragedy that each of us can do something about. We must act now before bubble gum gets stuck on everything before it's too...damn! I just stepped in some more gum!

Monday, October 07, 2002

Time well spent

My wife and I took a couple of badly needed days off. It did us a world of good. We set a critical ground rule: we would not talk about or do anything having to do with work.

It worked.

We acted like a pair of middle-aged tourists from Des Moines (even though we live here) and visited two great Southern California destinations: Disney's California Adventure and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. For a sappy couple like ourselves, it was fun. California Adventure is a bit lame in some areas, and in others, done in a way only Disney can do. It's not exactly bleeding edge, in that many of the best attractions have been at DisneyWorld for quite some time. Just when I thought that A Bug's Land was a fun new idea, I found out that Florida got it first. And so on. The Golden State and Paradise Pier sections fall short of what could have been, and no doubt will get ripped apart in a few years. Soarin' Over California in Condor Flats is highly recommended though. You sit in a suspended hang glider of sorts and fly through and over some of the best views in California. The effects are worth the trip. But overall, California Adventure falls short of what we've come to expect, especially when compared to some of Disney's other parks. A shame. But it was still a lot of fun.

The San Diego Wild Animal Park was worth the drive. For the first time in my life, I got up close and personal with a giraffe. I saw cheetahs at close range. I petted deer. And met a rare desert fox. And more. For animal lovers like ourselves, this vast park is worth the drive. It's sad to think that if we keep going the way we have as a civilization, preserves like this might soon be the only place where these magnificent animals can live. At least I know they are in good care.

The most sickening thing is that I returned to work rested in a really good and productive mood. That tells me something: we were overdue for this.

Sunday, October 06, 2002

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Today, 230 unsolicted e-mails were waiting for me in my Hotmail Inbox, including:

- Real Results (for what??)
- An offer for a Free bottle of hgh
- A threat that my account will be DELETED. (For what I have NO idea.)
- An offer for a New Short Mortage Form
- A way to earn 5% per month from my investment
- An unwanted solicitation to meet FREE YOUNG PETITE BABES
- Techniques to read anyone's criminal and FBI files
- A new way to enlarge my penis
- Vulgar photos of Ashley Judd
- A woman by the name of Chastity Flower offering advice on how I can reduce the cost of my debts
- A lesson in how to hypnotize women into bed
- An offer on debt consolidation
- An offer to save $500 on home improvement
- A FREE teen hardcore Website
- Free info on how to work from home
- An offer to save thousands in under one minute
- Individual dental plans starting at $99 per year
- A 5.25% mortgage
- An offer to become debt free
- A BIG MONEY opportunity
- Judicial judgments child support
- HAHAHA LOL. (Okay. Whatever.)
- An offer on how to get free porn. (Like I wanted it to begin with.)
- 50-70% off quality inkjet cartridges
- Viagra with 24 hour global shipping
- An offer to feel young again
- A One-time offer
- An announcement that I'm a winner. (Thank God I'm not a loser.)
- Helpful septic tank information
- An offer to believe it so, and make it happen
- A way to meet hot, lonely housewives (Should I send them an air conditioner?)
- Free Viagra samples
- Photos of my naked sister (one problem: I don't have a sister)
- Good news about herpes. (There is?)
- Discount steroids
- $5,000 gold card (guaranteed)
- Vinyl siding for my home
- Financial Pyramid scheme instructions
- A way to stop paying taxes legally. (What a relief! And to think I've been doing this illeagally all these years.)
- Instructions on how to fix damaged credit
- Somebody telling me that I need a vacation (even though I'm on one now)
- Training on how to be a loan officer
- A free teeth whitening system. (Damn. I was hoping for a teeth yellowing system.)
- A deal of a lifetime
- Toilet cam pix
- Lonely but married people waiting to meet me. (But I'm already married. One's enough, thanks.)
- A way to copy and play DVDs now