Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Well, we are back after a long and, frankly somewhat disastrous hiatus.

I'm sure you all know how it is. You come up with a great idea for reality TV. You invest the time and energy to polish it. You shop it around. You get funding to shoot a pilot. Pilot shot, you sit down with all the interested parties and you proudly press the play button.

And then it starts. The screaming. The sobbing. The vomiting. The pleas to "make it stop! Oh god make it stop". The people in the back who's name tags say "Fox" giggling like school girls...

We told everyone we were shooting "Can You Survive a Giant Zombie Spider Attach?". We told them it was going to be a reality show. I really don't understand how there could be any misunderstanding about what the show would be like.

Did they expect us to shoot "Can You Survive a Giant Zombie Spider Attach?" and not prominently feature giant zombie spiders? We worked hard on those spiders!

Any way, long story, short, the answer for our pilot was a resounding "No". None of our 18 tanned, toned, scantily clad contestants survived their short stay on Zombie Spider Island.

Personally I blame the contestants. I don't want to speak Ill of the recently dead, but honestly how do you miss with a flamethrower? What good is it going to do to drop the shot gun we gave you and try and climb a tree when you are being chased by a giant zombie spider? It's a giant spider moron! It can fucking climb a tree!

I have no doubt that, given time, we could have fine tuned the concept and gotten a better survival rate maybe edited down some of the kills so that the show could sit in a family friendly time slot.

But that wasn't in the card. Someone called the police and now we have a slight legal problem. Until we can put this whole thing behind us we are stuck doing the one thing that you can do from a secret underground lair ... Blogging.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Music For A Friend

HummidCedar has moved and now he is recommending music.

I have to take issue with his recommendation of The Decemberist's "Crane Wife". That album is a little on the sleepy side. It's not boring mind you, just slightly more narcotic than 3 Vicodin and a Scotch chaser.

I'm sure it's a very good album, but it should come with a warning sticker. One that makes it very clear that you should not operate any heavy machienery while the listening.

As a public service, I recommend that everyone check out the following:

This has been a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This was only a test. If this had been a real emergency you would have been instructed to arm yourselves listen to London Calling".

we out.

Mad Attempts Communication With a Blond. Nearest Brunette Forced to Intervene.

Mad: Excuse me. The cup of decaf you just pored for me is tepid.

Blond (truly mystified): I'm sorry. What's wrong with your coffee?

Brunette (rolling eyes): It's cold. His coffee is cold.

Blond: Oh! (does nothing)

Brunette (Grating teeth, nostrils flaring ): Get him a fresh cup of coffee!

Blond (completely unphased): Sure!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Signs And Portents Part II

First it was buzzards on the roof at work. Next a giant freaking snapping turtle stuck in the middle of the road on the way home.
I stopped and gave him a hand crossing the street.
Two hands actually. His shell was about 12 inches in diameter and he weighted between 15 and 20 lbs. His claws were as big as a medium size dog's and his head was nearly the size of my fist He would easily take a grown man's hand off at the wrist with one bite if given the chance.

Remember kids: Nature is cute, but not cuddly. Handle with care.


So I am sitting in Starbuck's, fixing bugs. Not that I don't have an office, it's just that the Starbuck's internet connection is as reliable as the one in my office, the coffee is better, and there are fewer harbingers of doom perched on the roof.

The computers in Germany, France, and Phoenix that I am talking to don't care where I sit while we chat and, because we are in "test and fix" today, actual people are only allowed to talk to my through the bug tracking system anyway.

Anyhoo ... I look up from bug ticket #263 and theres an old dude at the counter wearing a red tee-shirt with a black monochrome of Ronald Reagan on the front. The image is eerily familiar. Remarkably similar to another famous shirt actualy:

I was hoping that I was seeing a connection where none existed, but google quickly dashed my hopes to pieces. Advertised as "...the conservative answer to all those hipster "rebels" in the trendy Che shirts" I give you :

I wonder, if I special order one with Che on the front and Ronnie on the back do I have to pay extra for the double shot of irony?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Life During Wartime - Part I : The Rules

A long time ago, in a sleepy little collage town, a major retailer payed me to bring back the things that walked out of their doors. For a year I did what I could to catch the people who stole from my employer. To aid me in the retrieval of their property my employer provided me with the following :
A cheap walkie-talkie with an ear piece.
A pair of binoculars.
A pair of handcuffs.
A bright shiny badge to wear around my neck.
My employer paid me to catch the people who stoled from them, not to stop people from stealing from them. The distinction is an important one. Even in the worst cases all you have to do to stop someone from shoplifting is walk up to them and say
"Dude. What are you doing."
90% of the time you didn't need go that far. Just looking at then will work.

But the game wasn't stopping theft; stopping theft was only temporary. The person could and often would come back and try again later. Catching people stealing was considered a permanent solution. You pressed charges, you tooke picture, and when the police arrive you issued a Criminal Trespass Warning. From then on you could detain and prosecute the person every time they walk through your door.

The thing is, catching people stealing is much harder than stopping them from stealing. If you are in the "catching people" game then these are the rules you have to play by:
1) You have to be certain they have concealed store merchandise. This means you either see them conceal the merchandise, or you check every place the merchandise might have been left (in a dressing room, behind a rack, etc.).
2) You have to have your eyes on them the entire time they have the merchandise concealed.
3) You have to let them walk out the door.

For it to be theft, the merchandise had to leave the store and they pay you to catch the thieves.

If have ever seen an unmarked door in a department store fly open and a man come charging out with such a look of determination on his face that you wondered if maybe God himself was behind that door saying "go", then you have seen what The Rules dictate. It's not fear of gods or devils that made that man bolt through the store, knocking over racks and sales clerks and leaping over children. It is rule number 3 and the absolute certainty that a pair of $34.00 Levi's just walk out the door.

Someone pays that man to catch the people who steal from them and bring back their merchandise. I know because someone used to pay me $5.50 an hour to bring back those Levi's.

For $5.50 and hour I sat in a dark booth and I watched you for hours. I learned how to tell when someone wanted to steal. I chased people across busy streets. I got in fights. I handcuffed people. I scared people. More than once I rushed headlong into a situation where I could have been killed.

I know, we're not their yet. You don't see it. You can't fathom the motivation. You think its crazy and you're right, but this isn't about making sense. It's about what the rules you live or work by can do to you. How changing the rules changes your experience, sometimes radically, and about how that affects you.

Signs And Portents

Generally this is not the first thing you want to see in the morning as you are walking into work.
What are they waiting for?
Just saying.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Poppa's Got a Brand New Ride!

2007 Prius Baby!
Mine Mine Mine Mine Mine!
It is gun-metal grey with leather interior, six speaker audio with CD player, touch screen controls for the audio and the air, and a cool display that constantly shows you what your energy consumption is.
Also, it has a rocket launcher.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

DIY madness Part II: "A New Beginning."

Let me start by saying that ever since I started work on my irrigation system I have been haunted. Whenever I close my eyes I hear heavy breathing and someone whispering:
Mad ... I am your faaaaather...
The voice sounds like Bob Fucking Vila. It's creepy. All I can figure is that by committing to this particular home improvement project I somehow created a disturbance in the DIY Force and now Bob Vila, the Darth Vadar of home improvement, is trying to get me to join him on the dark side.

Like I said creepy.

Recapping from yesterday :
The irrigation controller valve manifold I made from f'ing scratch will not fit in the irrigation controller valve box I bought. Also, I can't take the valve box back and exchange it for a bigger one because I already cut a hole in it.

Another visit to HomeDepot was called for. This time armed with pen and graph paper.

After an hour in the Plumbing isle (only occasionally needing to chase off nosy HomeDepot employee with my essential HomeDepot shopping aid) I came to the following conclusions:

  1. The current manifold has got to go. It will never fit inside the valve box.

  2. Making things out of PVC is kind of fun. Some of that fun is probably due to the epoxy fumes you wind up breathing but, whatever; PVC is cheap and it's relatively easy to work with.

  3. I need a new manifold plan and a parts list and everything will be fine.

So I turned on my IPod, found a comfy place on the floor of the plumbing isle and set to work with my pen and my graph paper. 15 minutes or so later I had a new plan. Behold the new and much improved irrigation control valve manifold plan:

From "Teh New Plan" I put together a parts list:

  • (3) Ninety degree elbows (3/4" sched. 40 PVC)

  • (1) Four way junction (3/4" sched. 40 PVC)

  • (1) "T" junction (3/4" sched. 40 PVC)

  • (3) 3/4" pipe to 3/4" mpt junction. Left these out of the diagram - oops! Use them to connect the manifold to the valve/filter assembly.

  • (1) 3/4" pipe to 1" fpt junction (for drain plug)

  • (1) 1 inch mpt drain plug

  • (1) Five foot section of 3/4" sched. 40 pvc pipe.

I get out of HomeDepot only having to spend six bucks ... I almost feel guilty.

Monday, October 30, 2006

DIY madness Part I : I Fuck Up A Drip Irrigation Controller So You Don't Have To

Did you ever think to yourself :
"Self. I sure would like to go down to HomeDepot, buy a bunch of stuff and then come home and turn all that stuff into a really slick home improvement project."
Only to have your DIY dreams thwarted by your better judgment and or wife who pointed out that the combination of you, HomeDepot, and anything more complicated than a light bulb is a well document recipe for disaster?

Did this leave you wishing that :
"Some other fool would go to HomeDepot, buy a bunch of stuff to create a realy slick home improvment project, totaly fuck the whole thing up, but just keep on trying until he finaly got it right." ?
How cool would it be if that fool blogged about the whole sorted affair complete with parts lists and pictures?

That would be pretty damned cool. Right? Then you could tell your better judgment/wife that some fool with a blog layed all the do's and don't out for you, documented all the pitfalls, and posted detailed pictures and diagrams of the whole project.

Well it's time to head for HomeDepot faithfull readers, because today I am that fool!

We put in a lot of plants over the summer. Banana trees, palm trees, cacti, flowers, herbs... hell we even have a coconut tree. All of this stuff needs to be watered, but at different intervals and for different lengths of time. I decided a drip irrigation system was in order.

I went to HomeDepot.

HomeDepot did not disappoint. They had bins and bins and bins of drip irrigation goodies made by a company named Dig. All I had to do was rummage through the bins, find all the parts I needed, put them all together, and Presto! My watering problems were solved!

Except not so much really, because what is the point of an irrigation system if you have to remember to turn it on and off yourself?

Exactly "zero".

Back to HomeDepot.

I found what looked like the perfect solution. Orbit made a nifty little timer with multiple valves that you could attach directly to your backyard faucet. I bought the timer kit with 2 valves and a 4 way splitter for my faucet and then I had to buy a pack of two more valves because I needed three.

Since it didn't seem right to go the HomeDepot and only visit one isle, I went to the plumbing department and bought a T junction and a 3/4" mpt (that's Male Pipe Thread for all you HomeDepot n00b5) to 3/4" mht (Male Hose Thread you n00b!)converter and some Teflon tape for good measure.

I went home, turned off the water, took the old faucet off the side of the house, and attached the T junction to the water pipe. The I re-attached the faucet to the T junction and used the 3/4" mpt to mht converter to attach the 4 way splitter that came with my watering controller to the other outlet on the T junction. I hooked the controller valves up to the 4 way splitter, hooked my irrigation lines to the valves and plugged in the battery operated timer.

It was a thing of beauty:
or not, but since it was going to solve all my watering issues I was willing to let the aesthetics slide.

Next I sat down to read the programming instructions for my new irrigation control system. 15 minutes later I realize I am fucked. My perfect solution can only be programmed to water everything on the same day. I need to water my Banana trees every 3 days, my palms and cactii every 7 days and my herbs and flowers every other day. I need three programs, I have one. I am fucked. Fucked fucked fucked fucked fucked fucked fucked.

In my defense, Orbit packages all their stuff in sealed, hard plastic packaging so that you can't read the instruction's before you buy. Because of this incidents, I never go to HomeDepot without one of these. It's great for opening overly packaged merchandise in the store so that you can read the instructions before you buy. Plus it also works well to keep the HomeDepot employees at bay when they complain about you cutting open their merchandise. You could also look stuff up online and read the directions there befor you buy. Personaly I don't do this because I enjoy threatening the HomeDepot employees with sharp pointy objects.

So its back to HomeDepot. This time with pen and paper. I spend 2 hours in the sprinkler system isle and come to the following conclusions:

  1. I need a professional grade sprinkler controller that will support 3 stations (valves) and three programs. HomeDepot has one I like for $41.99

  2. I will need to buy the controller valves separately. HomeDepot has some I like for $12.87 each.

  3. I will need to make a controller manifold out of schedule 40 PVC pipe to connect my values to the water source (i.e. my back yard faucet).

  4. All this stuff will need to be buried underground but in a way where I can still get to all the parts should I need to work on something.

I sit down in the sprinkler isle and I draw up a plan. Behold my mad planning sk11z!
I walk out of HomeDepot with:

  • 3 RainBird 3/4" inline sprinkler controller valves

  • 2 Five foot sections of 3/4" schedule 40 pvc pipe

  • 1 manual cut off valve

  • 1 Eight oz HandiPak of Purple Primer and Clear Pipe Epoxy

  • 3 Dig drip irrigation filters

  • 3 Three quarter inch mpt to 3/4" mht converters

  • 1 Three quarter inch junction - basicaly a treaded joint to attach the manifold to the pipe running from the faucet so that don't have to glue the above ground and below ground stuff together.
  • handfuls of 3/4" schedule 40 pvc pile tees, elbows, and mpt adapters

  • 1 Three quarter inch end cap - to drain the system before a freeze.
  • 1 12" X 17" underground valve box to put everything in.

  • Sandpaper and Teflon pipe thread tape

Back home on the back porch I connect the controller valves to the filters with the 3/4" mpt to mht converters (be sure to use some Teflon tape here) and lay all the parts out so it looks just like the picture I drew earlier.
I measure and cut some pieces of pvc pipe to connect everything togather and then I am ready to start gluing.

First I read the instructions :
Sounds simple enough.

I open the Purple Primer and, being very careful not to drip any on my porch, immediately drip two drops of Purple Primer onto the porch.

Crap. It's purple and it stains!
I am such an idiot!

I go to the garage and get some cardboard to use as a work surface. Since I am being careful now I take the time to trace the outline of the control valve box I bought onto the piece of cardboard so that I can be sure everything is going to fit.

I glue everything together and it looks great!
I spend a few minutes floating in the euphoria of a job well done. When all the epoxy fumes I have inhaled wear off I try putting the controle valve box over the whole assembly.

Due to the great care I took in planning and assembling, everything just barely does not fit...


I'll be at HomeDepot if anyone needs me.