Friday, June 30, 2006

ASCII and Ye Shall Receive

And here I've found yet another way to admire myself.

It's a picture of me created using ASCII characters.

Here's the website that created it for me. It lets you use images in their gallery, or upload your own 60x50 jpeg file for it to use:

Neat, eh? (If you fail to find it neat, I once again refer you to the title of this blog. Remember, it's not "Internet Institute for the Hard to Please")

BTW, I found this site, and *WAY* too many other cool sites, by using something called StumbleUpon. It lets you browse for websites by categories which you have specified that interest you. I gave it a try a couple weeks ago, and have used it ever since!

Oh, Gee, Aren't They Cute.... STOMP STOMP STOMP!!!!

Look at these little ants. Aren't they cute? And they work so hard together, to support their colony. And they have such funny personalities.



Whew. Sorry.

Usually I have a 'live and let live' attitude toward bugs. I don't kill spiders in the house (although my wife and teenage daughter wouldn't be so magnanimous)... I just transport them outside. If I can open a door and encourage a fly to leave under his own steam, I do that too.

But the ants have transversed my "kinder, gentler" threshold.

They have discovered my kitchen counter. In full force, shall we say. I have a little more trouble with that.

The "ant flick" is getting a little old. Especially while I'm actually *preparing* food. One ant accidentally got flicked into my container of rice. Luckily, I got him before he tunneled to the bottom. But it did gross me out a little bit.

I've been leaving out a few "ant treats", but pretty soon I think I'll be moving up to slightly stronger methods:

Sledge Hammer.

Flame Thrower.

Tear Gas Launcher.

Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator.

Collateral damage is no longer a concern. As long as the ants are gone.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

...But How SUPER Was It??

Superman Returns.

Opened Wednesday. Saw it Tuesday at the 10pm preview showing. In IMAX.

Despite the HUGE amount of hype, it was really good. It is very reminiscent of the Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, in a good way. And there was nothing where I said, "Hmm... that didn't feel right." Which, given my background, is pretty amazing.

And the special effects were flawless. You don't even notice them. He just *flies*. That's all there is to it. It's so cool.

In fact, and I'm *very* surprised to say this, my teenage daughter actually seemed to like it even more than me! She positively GUSHED about it. Must have been all the romantic-heartbreaking-blah-blah-blah stuff in the movie.

And the 3-D stuff was pretty cool. I think it *might* have distracted from the movie a bit. I'll let you know when I see the regular version with the younger kids.

Should you see it? Well, duh. If you have no interest in Superman, at all, ever... well, don't go.

But if you saw any of the old movies, or cartoons, or tv shows... and kind of liked them... you'll like this.

Trust me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Sorry. None of This is Remotely Funny.

Whoa. Is it Wednesday already? The last several days are a blur.

There's been lots happening, but none of it is particularly funny... but let's explore these events to check:

Last Friday my wife's dad arrived to stay for the weekend. Nice man, but not funny.

He brought his brother with him, who lives in the states, who we haven't seen in years. Another nice man, in fact, an *exceptionally* pleasant man, but not funny. Here's the kicker. He's a 'man of the cloth' (in fact, is a *monsignior* a special kind of priest? Because that's what they call him), so there were comedic possibilities based on his interaction with my children (ie. parental embarrassment) but none materialized. Darn kids pretty much behaved. Not funny.

Saturday was my wife's birthday. (Happy birthday honey)

Unfortunately, it was *also* the day we had planned to have an outdoor 'bouncy castle' arrive as a birthday party for my poor liitle five year old, who turned five early in May but who we still hadn't managed to have a party for yet.

But it rained. Poured, in fact. So the bouncy castle didn't come. But the kids did. So we had an indoor party with a bunch of small kids. Not funny.

Which was also the time when my mother-in-law and her husband arrived back at the airport from a trip visiting my wife's sister and needed us to pick them up. Not a problem, but also not funny.

THEN, during all this activity, I discovered that the job which I had understood for the last few months was going to be mine for the taking in July, evaporated. Which was not at *all* funny. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that it totally f*cking sucks.

As well, that same evening, a number of our friends were invited to drop by to celebrate my wife's birthday with us. Unfortunately, I was only out picking up food and supplies for the evening's festivities late that afternoon and through suppertime (which I must admit, wasn't the best example of good time management or advance planning). It took longer than I anticipated to pick up the stuff, and when I was still unloading stuff from the car, not at *all* ready for visitors, the first carload of friends showed up. Which was, again, not funny.

Let's see, what else has been happening that's not funny?

Well, I've spent the last few days frantically calling some of my contacts to try and see if I can line up some work. Because after three years of living as a one-income family of seven, we *really* could use some additional income. Which is... REALLY... not funny.

So there you go.

It's to the point that I'm almost HOPING that I get hit in the groin today, in some freak comedic mishap, just to lighten things up. So I have something funny to write about.

We'll just have to wait and see.

But keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Oh No! You Sunk My... um... Galactic Star Cruiser!!

Sometimes you forget.

Kids grow. And they're smart.

For instance, ever since he was quite young, my little buddy and I have been playing with the old electronic "Star Wars BATTLESHIP" game that we've had for years and years, from back when we only had two kids. (Looong, looooooong ago....)

I would just let him press the buttons, which would make noises. We'd do that for a while and then move on.

Yesterday, when he pulled it out, I said, "You know, buddy, if you take these little pegs and mark the holes where you take your shots, you can try and figure out where all the ships are!"

So then I taught him how to *really* play the game.

As easy as that.

And he *LOVES* it. Wants to play it ALL the time.

So poor Dad's getting a little tired of the game.

But he's still pretty impressed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Twisting by the Pool

Last week, after three years of swimming at the pool on Wednesday mornings, my little buddy and I had our final pool visit. The pool is closed for cleaning now, and then summertime's here and all the other kids are out of school. And when September comes, he'll be going to school with all the others.

To commemorate the occasion, I asked the lifeguard to take our picture.

(Yeah, ok, we're a little dark because the light was behind us, but beggars can't be choosy)

It was a fun day, but I was very aware that a routine with my little boy that I had come to enjoy was ending forever. (snif) Man, I'm turning into an old softie. Gotta go drink some beer and shoot some animals or something.


Since we're speaking of pools, now would be a good time to share an old personal pool related anecdote. I could call it my "Something About Mary" moment.

Let me phrase it as some helpful advice for parents of boys.

Parents of boys:

When you take your son to the pool, it's ok to let him wear his bathing suit under his pants on the way there.


Make sure to send him a pair of underwear.


He will (naturally) put his pants on without the underwear when he's finished swimming.


Being a child, he will exercise no particular caution zipping up the zipper.


the fact that a certain something special might not be tucked away as snugly as usual.


in a potentially very unpleasant situation.


and trust me on this one...

Your son will NEVER forget.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Giving Myself the Medal for BRA-very...

Today... I am truly a man.

I came, I saw, I conquered.

Despite the slings and arrows I faced.

Despite the onslaught of adversity and the odds stacked against me.

I did it.

I returned an item to a lingerie store.


Here's how it happened. Several days back, my dear wife, entering *another* long stretch of nursing shifts, gives me a bag, and asks if I could return the merchandise to the store for her.

"Sure", says I.

Oh, wait, it's a.... bra. It wasn't purchased at Wal-mart or anywhere like that either. It was from an honest-to-goodness lingerie store. Great.

Flash forward to today. Off I march, with my compatriots. Specifically, my five-year-old son and his three-year-old little buddy. Taking turns riding in the stroller that looks like a race car, thanks to the shopping mall.

I'm all ready. Item still in the bag. Still has all its tags. Have the receipt and everything. I'm golden.

I enter the store and immediately approach the counter. I get a little rattled for a second. I thought that lingerie store employees were supposed to be: (a) smokingly hot, or at least (b) friendly. Sadly, this lady was neither. I turn on the charm anyway. Produce the bag, give her the spiel, hand it over to her.

She looks things over.

She says, "I can't take this back. You're missing something."


"You're missing the bra card."

"Sorry, the *what*??"

"The bra card. When someone buys a bra, they get their card stamped. I can't take this back without the card."

A lesser husband, out of his element, might slink away with his tail between his legs, having lost a battle due to not knowing all the rules before engaging his opponent. (Not to mention being distracted by the two little boys who are a little too taken with the metallic mannequin wearing skimpy stretch panties... "Boys! Boys! Don't tug on those!")

Not me though, baby. I hang tough.

I ask if there isn't some way that we can process the return anyway. She thinks not. I rephrase the same question. And stay there. She says, "Well, I guess we can ask the manager."

Which apparently are magic words, because instantly the manager appears. I suspect she was laying in wait. Remember how the first lady was no great shakes in either the 'attractive' or 'friendly' departments? Well, take that lady, kick her down two notches in both categories, and you have the manager.

The first lady fills her in. The manager looks at me, kind of like, "Yeah, well, sucks to be you." She says something to that effect too. And adds, "It's store policy." More than once, in fact. Clearly that phrase has a powerful effect on people.

I suppress my opinion that I do not give a rat's a$ about her godd*mned "bra card" and simply ask, AGAIN, if there is no way that we can just process the return anyway.

A few minutes later, the boys and I leave the store, bra-less. And smiling.

Clearly the force of my personality just overwhelmed them. Either that, or they decided that they might just do *anything* to get me to leave the store. I'm happy either way.

So, the final score for the day stands at:


And please remember, when relating this story to family and friends: the proper adjectives to describe me are "self-confident", "assertive", and "determined".

Not "whipped".


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Laugh 'Til It Hurts... Unless It *Already* Hurts to Laugh...

On Father's Day, I want to recognize the man who is ultimately responsible for this blog.

My father.

Not because it was his idea. He didn't even know what a "blog" was until I started one.

Not because he's a regular reader. Although I do think he does glance at it occasionally.

No. My father is responsible for this blog because I *totally* inherited my sense of humour from him. All of it. From the funny stories, to the bad jokes, the good jokes, to the jokes that I know will get me in trouble but I just can't resist anyway.

And he's good for my health too. Because I *never* laugh harder than when my Dad and I get going.

Except once:

Back when I was ten years old, I had my appendix taken out. When I returned home from the hospital, there were stitches in my abdomen from the surgery that were pretty sore. When my dad started joking to cheer me up, I discovered that it hurt to laugh. So I'd laugh, then I'd cry. He tried to stop saying anything funny, but I couldn't stop laughing. No matter *what* he said, it would make me laugh. And then cry. Even seeing him trying *not* to be funny would make me laugh. So I think my mother eventually had to send him out of the room.

So there you go. It's not so good to be "in stitches" when you're *actually* in stitches.

And Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Follow the Pink... um, Green.... huh?

I got this picture in an e-mail. It's an animated image, and the illusion is too cool to ignore.

Look at this. Follow the pulsation all the way around the circle of pink dots.

NOW, focus on the + in the middle. The moving dot turns green.

THEN, as you continue to concentrate on the +, the pink dots all disappear, leaving just the moving green dot.

Pretty freaky, eh? Especially considering that the pinks dots are the only things there. No green dots. And the pinks never disappear.

Keep that in mind, next time you're sure you saw something!!

Speaking Directly to My Inner Geek

I love when movies toss in references for the geeks. Take a look at this image from the upcoming Superman movie:

Does it look familiar? If it does, congratulations! You've found your inner geek!

It's an homage to the cover of Action Comics #1 from 1938.

If you only just now discovered your inner geek, don't be afraid. It's friendly. It only wants you to be happy. Just be sure to feed it regularly with all the geeky stuff you love. That's what I do. And my inner geek is a happy little fellow. In fact, when the Superman movie opens on June 28, I'm giving him full control of my body for that day.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Taking Coffee to the Next Level

...the next *evolutionary* level, I mean.

Check this out. Discovered this morning in the shed in our back yard.

We're pretty certain that is actually *was* normal coffee at one point. That's what my mother-in-law suspects, anyway, and it's her mug, so she's the best one to say.

I was a little concerned that we should probably take care of it now, before it develops sentience and starts to ponder whether humans should remain as the dominant life form on this planet. After all, a sentient coffee life form would totally rule the earth. Look how much control normal coffee has over us already! It's too scary to think about.

I was even, for one brief moment, considering *drinking* it. I figured it might give me super powers. But then, I thought of how much they would change my life, what with the awesome responsibility and all, so I decided it was too much to take on right now.

Plus, the stuff *did* look pretty gross.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Twenty-two *Fewer* Hours to Save the World...

Well, it's official. It's been announced that the creators of "24" will be taking Jack Bauer to the big screen.

Our hero will now have a little more opportunity to see the world while he's saving it, as the writers plan to shoot in several exotic locales, freed from their normal restriction of Los Angeles (and... um... Mexico).

However, he won't have nearly as much time to save the world as he usually does, though.

Since he's been cut down to feature film length, the name of the movie will, of course, be....


Pretty catchy, eh?

(Ok, I'm joking about that last part. But it might work. And if there was a sequel, they could call it "2 II"!!! They could even tie that title into the story... maybe have him rushing to save the Royal Ballet Company. Get it? "tu tu"??)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A *Real* Supercomputer!

Take two of my favourite things, comics and computers, and smoosh them together. Quite likely you would end up with something that looks like this:

Pretty sweet eh? I like everything about it... except the price, of course.

Alienware has a special website to promote it. Here. But if you buy one, please don't tell me.

Unless, of course, you bought it for *me*.

Does Whatever a Spider Can...

Well, there you go. *Again* I am reminded that it doesn't matter *how* many kids you have, they still have the capacity to surprise you.

Take a look at little Spider-Man over here. I'm standing in the kitchen, and he says, "Hey, look! I can climb up the fridge like this!" I turn around and this is what I see. "Hold it," says I, "I want to take a picture of this." And he holds it. I take the picture.

We have lived in this house for twelve years. When we moved in, my oldest child was younger than he is now.

Yet, with all the monkey-like activity I've seen over the years... this child is the first to discover this method of scaling the side of the fridge.

(...Yes, well, I know it's not a cure for cancer or anything like that, but let me remind you that I'm easy to please. For further clarification please refer to the title of this blog.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

I'd Like to Teach the World to Phone, In Perfect Harmony...

Wow, do I ever *love* getting phone calls like this. Not.

Has this ever happened to you?

ring ring.


"Did someone just call here?"

"Pardon me?"

"Did someone just call here? Your number is on my phone!!"

Ah. Now we come to the crux of the matter.

Call display.

The ability for someone to see the name and number of the person calling them. Or, perhaps, the name and number of a person who called recently.

It can be a useful feature. I use it myself. It helps me make a little more informed decision regarding whether I answer the phone or not. There are, in fact, callers who, for one reason or another, I prefer not to speak to at a given time. Such as: Political party representatives; Carpet cleaning salespeople; *any* kind of telemarketer actually; and even... occasionally... my bank or credit card company (... whenever they call, I know what they want to tell me already, so I'm just saving them the time).

But see, I'm a reasonable adult with a normal sized brain.

I think there should be a quick oral test for people who want this feature. It would consist of the phone company employee asking the applicant what size his or her brain is. If the answer ranges somewhere between "pea" and "walnut", that person should be denied the service.

However, until such an acid test is put into place, let me make a couple of suggestions for the neanderthals among us who have call display:

1) Before you call to harass the person whose number appears on your phone, CHECK FIRST TO SEE IF THEY LEFT A MESSAGE.

2) If they left a message, LISTEN TO IT.



For the record, the conversation I had today with one of these people would have been resolved by suggestions number one and two. When I asked, "Did you get my message?" his only reply was, "I've only got the number", which, translated, means "I'm too stupid to think about checking messages, and too ignorant to admit that I'm that stupid. Please don't use words with too many syllables wnen interacting with me."

OK, I feel better now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

... And the Hits Just Keep On Coming...

You might have noticed by the tiny icon at the bottom of my blog (if you've ever made it all the way down there) that I use a little utility called Site Meter. It tracks the hits to my blog, gives me a general idea of where the traffic is coming from, and also shows me if I get a hit as a result of a specific search.

That's where the weird part comes in.

There are THREE phrases that, far and above all others, people search for and end up at my blog. They are:

"Listen. Do you smell something?"

"Same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!"

and finally, and perhaps weirdest of all,

"She's fresh, fresh, exciting."


Strange the things people search for. Over and over and over, in fact.

What lesson can we take from this? Um, none that I can think of. Except that I guess I'll start to pepper my posts with more mildly amusing nostalgia-invoking phrases.

"What you talkin' about, Willis??"

... and the hits just keep on coming!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Swiper, No Swiping!! ...Is This a Job for Batman??

Sorry, this isn't really a Dora the Explorer post.

However, swiping is the phrase used in comics when one artist copies another artist's drawing without acknowledging the other person's work. In novels it would be called plagiarism.

It turns out that one historically famous comic book is now suspected of using 'swiped' artwork.

Take a look at this panel from Detective Comics #33, from November of 1939, drawn by Batman creator Bob Kane:

Now take a look at this panel from a Big Little Book called "Gang Busters in Action" from 1938, by illustrator Henry Vallely:

While doesn't look like an exact tracing, it still doesn't look too promising, Bat-fans!

The images above came from a blog devoted to Henry Vallely, and specifically from this post.

The Vallely blog mentions that several other Batman images look suspiciously like pictures from this book, which they plan to post as well.

And as much as I hate to say it....


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

What Do You Call a Page-Turner With No Pages?

There have been many times when I've been reading a book that was hard to put down.

You know how it is? You carry the book with you everywhere, hoping for a minute to read another page or two.

When a book is *really* good, lots of opportunities to read a few pages can present themselves if you let them:

Sitting in the bathroom (at least until you start to feel a bit drafty)...

At the playground (keeping one eye on the book and the other on the child, making sure not to let the swing hit you in the head)...

Patiently waiting for the light to turn green...

... the possibilities are endless!!

But I digress.

This past week, I had a situation like that, but with a wrinkle:

The book was on CD.

Last week, knowing I was going to have two three-hour drives by myself for my son's band trip, I stopped by the library to see if an audiobook would catch my eye. To my delight, I found a book that I had already added to the mental list of books that I wanted to read sometime: Neil Gaiman's "Anansi Boys". I scooped it up immediately.

The book was *very* enjoyable. It was so pleasant to listen to on my drives, that I even found myself mildly irritated whenever I would find myself at my destination.

The biggest problem was when I arrived back home from the trip... and was only partway through the fifth CD in a set of eight!


How would I manage? My life typically doesn't allow for leisurely sitting around listening to cd's.

I briefly thought about just going out and buying the book. All the library's copies were out (in fact I think I'm still in the queue for a copy to come available)... but the book is still new enough to be only available in hardcover... which I'm sure would run me thirty bucks or more. Scratch that idea.

So... I simply looked around for available spots to play a CD:

Both of my teenagers had little blasters which I borrowed (at different times). Once I used one while I was showering. Just played it LOUD and kept the shower curtain half open.

We have a radio in the kitchen which plays cd's... so I would play while doing kitchen stuff. (More slowly than usual...)

Even once I played it while driving in the car with my 5-year-old... and while I thought he'd complain, he never said boo.

Our bedside clock radio plays cd's too... and even has a headphone jack! I plugged it in one night at bedtime and let it run (although I don't think I heard too much before plunging into unconsciousness).

My dvd player in the family room was called into use as well, during family room pickup times whenever my little buddy was downstairs visiting with his grandmother. Ran it through the surround sound. Nice and loud. Just because I could.

Now... FINALLY... I'm happy to report that, with a little help from our kitchen clock/cd player, I have, just this evening, finished the book!

And, and I said, it was very enjoyable.

A real page-turner.


of course...

That it had no pages.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Funniest Things Said and Heard This Weekend...

Said by me, at the overnight camp with my Beaver group, to the parents that were accompanying the children:


Usually when I make Beaver jokes, I do it intentionally. Not this time though. One other leader got a good chuckle, which made me realize what I said. Later on, one of the moms admitted that she fought hard to resist the urge to comment at the time as well.


Heard by me, when I was sitting on the couch last night, typing my three children's summer baseball schedules into Outlook on my wife's laptop:

(It was from the tv I heard this, an advertisement for some kind of Poker show, one of the tons of those type shows these days. Had I been watching, I'm sure I would have seen the playing cards and the players, or the dealers, or something else to put me in the proper frame of mind. However, concentrating on the computer as I was, I simply heard...)


Go ahead. Say it out loud, with a booming triumphant tone of voice. You'll hear what I heard. It definitely made me go, "Huh?!?" But no, it wasn't a Viagra advertisement. Just dumb old poker.


They say things come in threes. But I'm still waiting for the third. I'll let you know when it comes up.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Nice Body

I totally stole this poster from TC at Donorcycle.

But I like the sentiment. In fact, using it today is appropriate because my kidney girl's two little girls slept over here last night. They're healthy and happy and well adjusted, due in part I'm sure to the fact that their mother's life is fairly normal, what with my kidney doing some of the heavy lifting for her.

So think about organ donation, will you?

And if you're squeamish about doing it when you're still alive, at least do it when you're dead!

Friday, June 02, 2006

'X' Hit the Spot

Took some of the band kids to "X-Men 3: The Last Stand" last night.

I was worried that this movie wouldn't stand up with the first two, since a whole new group put this one together. However, I'm pleased to tell you that my fears were unfounded. The movie was very good.

Which is good for me, since I'll have to see it again.

You see, a couple of months ago, I let my two 9-year-olds watch the first two X-Men movies. Since then, they have been anxiously waiting for the third. Last week when it opened my son put on the full court press to see it. I told him that I wanted to see the movie first, to make sure it was okay for them to see. Which it was.

So I won't mind sitting through it again, to be sure.


One final thing, for anyone planning to see it:

Stay seated until the end of the credits. There is a final scene which is significant enough that you would really hate to miss it.

(If you've seen the movie already, and didn't stay through the end... well, it sucks to be you. But you can always go and see it again. Like me!)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Musings From a Strange Hotel Room

First point: Thirty-two teenagers vastly outnumber four adults.

Second point: In-hotel wireless internet is *exceptionally* cool. In fact, now that I've experienced it, I would happily give up a number of regular hotel amenities such as television, phone, coffee machine... possibly even up to and including a bed. (OK, well, maybe not the bed... especially since lying in a bed and surfing the internet is pretty awesome)

Third point: I could do without the mirror that spans the full back wall of the washroom, including behind the toilet. The problem being, a man standing at the toilet, doing what he needs to do, also finds himself watching himself. And let me say, there are just some things that I don't need to see myself doing. And I can't turn out the light, that would totally throw off my aim. Hotel designers should consider this.