Monday, December 29, 2003

A strange thing...

I worked in the Tech Center today. From the Tech Center desk I have an unobstructed view of the Reference Desk. Several times during my shift this afternoon patrons wandered up and asked me questions like "How do I get to the next page on this website?" and "How do I put money on my library card so I can print?" Since one of the job responsibilities while working in that room is to help anyone with a question, I answered their queries to the fullest extent, giving them a complete, honest and sincere answer. And then I watched as they would leave the room, wander out to the Reference Desk and ask the same question to someone else. I know they were asking the same questions because they used the same props - a printed page from a website or their bankrupt library card - as well as the same body language as they did with me.

What the bloody hell?!?!? Was my answer not good enough for them? It's not like I blew them off. Sample dialogue:

MAN - I printed this page from a website. How do I get to the next page?
ME - (Taking a look at printed page.) Oh, here it is. Do you see where it says, "Continue to Next Page"?
MAN - Yes.
ME - All you need to do is click on that link and it will take you to the next page. Would you like to try it?
MAN - No, thanks, I'll do it the next time I come in.

Of course, then he proceeded to head out to the Reference Desk and ask the same question. Then he left. Maybe neither one of us gave him the answer he was looking for.

As for the print lady, this is what our conversation looked like:

LADY - I need to print but have no money on my library card. How do I add that?
ME - Oh, it's pretty easy. Do you see the copier room?
LADY - Yes.
ME - There's a machine in there called the Vendacard Machine. Just put your card in it, slide money into the machine, and it will credit your card. Then bring it back in here and you can print! Would you like me to help you with it?
LADY - No, I think that's easy enough. I'll let you know if I run into any problems.

And then she went to the Reference Desk and asked the same damn question to Nina and got the same damn answer. (I saw Nina pointing toward the copier room while making "card inserting" motions with her hands.)

I don't know what this is all about. Maybe people don't trust me because I don't look very librarian-ish. Or maybe it's because I am younger than your average Reference librarian. Whatever it is, it was driving me crazy. And I have to work in there again tomorrow. Maybe I'll apply what I learned today. So if Patron Q comes up and asks a question...

PATRON Q - Excuse me, sir, but how do you...
ME - Hold it right there, pal! You're wasting your breath asking me. See that middle-aged woman at that desk? Go ask her your question. She's way more knowledgable about these matters than I, a man who's been using computers since he was a small child, am. Please, go.
PATRON Q - Thank you.

Nah, I'll continue to answer their questions. It is, after all, my job.

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, December 28, 2003

Since my lease ends in April, I went to the car show today with Mom and Dad to do a little no-pressure shopping. Surprisingly, I'm leaning towards a Volkswagon Jetta as my possible next automobile purchase. I really enjoyed the look and feel of it, and the price is right. Now I just need to test drive the damn thing.

I don't think I'll be going with another Honda. I'm on my second, and neither one has lived up to the hype. I've had many problems with my latest car, even though it has yet to reach the 50,000 mile marker. Examples: the front brakes have been replaced; the "Service Engine Soon" light appeared one afternoon for no other reason than to provide Honda Service with another $100 of my own money; and the original CD player died a little over a year ago and was replaced with another one that currently fluxuates between working and not accepting any CDs. And you know that without a functioning CD player, I'm all but dead in the water. I wouldn't totally warn people from buying a Honda - even with all the problems they've been reliable and sturdy cars - I just don't think I want to go through it again. Besides, change is good.

Till tomorrow...

Thursday, December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas, everyone! I couldn't update last night because I was spending the night at my parent's house. Their computer room had been turned into Present Wrapping Central, which in effect buried the computer underneath a massive pile of tape, paper and gifts. I could have probably gotten to it had I cleared all that stuff out of there, but it would have been too much work. Besides that, midway through the evening I was banished from the room because my mother had yet to wrap any of my gifts.

So, Christmas. I received one main present, a Fuji digital camera. I've had a ball taking pictures so far, although 98% of them are of my niece Bianca. (Hey, what do you want me to do? It was her first Christmas!) I will try to find a way to get them posted on the Internet so everyone can enjoy them. Anyone know of a good free picture posting place?

I spent the afternoon at my Uncle Steve's and Aunt Susie's for the annual Waye Christmas gathering. A good time was had by all and, incredibly, nearly everyone participated in a massive game of Charades. Stacey and I were assigned the tasks of coming up with what everyone had to act out. Of course, it was assumed that if we were in charge of this, the answers would be really hard and smart-assed in nature. Which they weren't, I'll have you know. Well, for the most part. (We were bummed that no one selected our favorite Charades card - "Sex and the City". We really wanted to see how a family member would interpret that one.)

We also held our annual "Dirty Christmas" gift exchange. Luckily enough, I was the last one to choose, which meant I had the pick of the gift litter. I am now the proud owner of a handheld Yahtzee game, which I will readily admit that I am addicted to. The gift I brought - a down-on-the-farm Christmas angel I received in a gift exchange at work a few weeks ago - initially went to my Uncle Steve, the last person in the world who would want such a thing. (Besides me, of course.) My Aunt Dianna took it from him, sparing him the embarrassment of claiming a Christmas angel as his very own. Too bad, because had he been able to hang onto it, it would have made an excellent gift next year.

It was a pretty good day, although I'm tired as hell right now. I'm off to bed.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

I went to Subway for lunch today. What the hell happened to Subway? Over the past few years I've noticed a rapid decline in both their food and service. For example, the meatball sub I ordered was lukewarm and had a strange taste to it. (I'm not sure what those round things were on my sandwich. They were balls of something, this is true, but I don't think they were made of meat. A more appropriate name would have been "Stuffball Sandwich.") Give me Blimpie or Quizno's any day. Mmmmm, Quizno's. Nothing beats a Quizno's Traditional Sub. Maybe I should go there for lunch next time.

I still have to wrap presents. I'm putting it off until the very last possible moment. It's just not my favorite activity. I would just put everything in bags and stick them under the tree, but last time I did that I was accused of being a "lazy man". So I guess I'll spend the better part of my morning tomorrow wrapping everything so less than 24 hours later it can get ripped off and thrown away. A silly tradition, I think. Although I do like unwrapping presents, so I shouldn't complain too much.

As you can read above, absolutely nothing of note happened to me today. If the highlight of my day is a bad meatball sub, you know I'm in trouble.

Till tomorrow...
Well, my apologies for a late summary. I fell asleep on the couch last night listening to "Get Off of My Cloud" by the Rolling Stones and, when I eventually woke up, was too damn tired to boot the computer and tell you all about my day. Not much happened, anyway.

The highlight was my annual performance evaluation. I'm an excellent employee, according to my boss. It was a quick evaluation, since neither he nor I had anything bad to say about one another. Looks like I'm going to be at CCPL for another year unless the budget problems begin to rear their ugly head. I don't think that will affect me, though. Hopefully not, anyway.

I can't really remember much else from yesterday, so I'll close. I'll be back later tonight to let you all in on what occurred on my Christmas Eve Eve.

Till then...

Sunday, December 21, 2003

Check this out.

I've been saying it for years: Give me the simplicity of Dig Dug and Pac Man any day over the complex headaches that pass for video games now. How fun can it be to spend 60 hours solving a puzzle? I've had friends who've spent at least that long conquering one, and I've always wondered what the point was. Believe me, I've tried to embrace this new format. A few years ago a friend bought the latest Nintendo gaming system, and with it the James Bond inspired Goldeneye game. He tried to have me play the first person solve-the-mission game, but I grew completely bored almost immediately. Instead we spent time playing the two person chase-each-other-down-and-fight-fight-fight game. That was a hell of a lot more fun - especially when neither of us had weapons and had to bitch-slap each other to death - and was also over in 5-10 minutes flat.

I once purchased a modern game myself to see if I had the patience to learn and finish it. Answer: Nope! It was an Indiana Jones game for the PC that was similar to Tomb Raider. Meaning that if you wanted Indy to, say, use his whip, you had to hit 16 keys, but only in a particular sequence. If you hit the keys out of order, Indy would do something frustrating and totally inappropriate, like dance a jig. I gave up after an hour. All I could get Indy to do was run into rocks. Which was fun at first, but after 60 minutes I was ready to chuck the damn thing out the window. I haven't played it since.

Think I'm going to go play Burgertime now. That, or Paperboy.

Till tomorrow...
Saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King today. I highly recommend it, but only for those of you who have seen the first two films. Without the background, you'd be lost.

I've never read the books. Fantasy has never been my favorite genre, and, frankly, trying to get through a book with character names like the ones in Rings has got to be a chore. Because of this, I had no idea where the film was headed as I was watching it. I was never bored, which is saying something for a film that's 200 minutes (that's nearly 3 1/2 hours) long. I could go on and on about why I enjoyed it, but there's not much I could say that hasn't already been said. It's just a solid, well-made piece of entertainment and a perfect way to kill an entire afternoon.

However, judging by the trailers we saw before the movie, there's nothing headed to cinemas in 2004. Here's what's coming soon to a theater near you:

1) A remake of the 1970's drive-in classic Walking Tall starring The Rock.

2) A sequel to the long-forgotten The Mask, starring a rather fake-looking CGI baby instead of Jim Carrey.

3) A film starring Viggo Mortensen as a man looking for redemption by participating in a horse race across the Sahara desert. I wonder how it ends.

4) A sci-fi film that finally brings together Vin Diesel and Judy Dench. Geez, about time.

5) Spider-Man 2. OK, I admit it, I want to see Spider-Man 2, mainly because I (surprisingly) enjoyed the first one.

Looks like Castleton Arts will be getting a lot of my money in the coming year.

Till tomorrow...

Friday, December 19, 2003

I am finally done with the Christmas shopping. I took today off as my final vacation day of the year and soldiered out to Carmel at 12:30 p.m. to hit the stores. I can report that the mission was successful. And, no, I will not share what I bought everyone. You'll have to wait until Christmas to find out!

Had dinner with Bonny tonight at Don Pablo's. Everytime she and I get together, it's always at DPs. We're not stuck in a rut; we're actually on a mission to sit at every table in the restaurant. Once we complete our goal, then we'll move on to another dining establishment. But I don't know if I could ever share a meal with her that didn't involve chips, salsa, and some enchilladas.

Sorry for the military-type talk, but I've been watching Band of Brothers all this week and their dialogue has rubbed off on me. At ease, everyone. Carry on.

Till tomorrow...

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Nothing happened today that is monumental enough to be placed on this journal. So, instead, I will start a new weekly feature. This feature is called "The Essential Music" and will place a spotlight on a group/artist/album that I want to talk about. And this week's artist is:

Neil Diamond.

I know, I know, all of you are scratching your heads and wondering why the hell I would chose him to be the inaugural Featured Artist on my blog. But be honest with yourselves: You love Neil. Anyone who is 25 or older should immediately recognize the brilliance that is Neil Diamond. And I am definitely one of them.

When I was a young kid, I worshiped Neil Diamond. He is one of the few celebrities I ever wrote a fan letter to. (And never received a response. Thanks, Neil.) I spent many a night in front of my portable turntable - you know the type, it came in a box that looked like a square briefcase, had a little handle and was made so kids could play records without damaging their parents' stereo - playing a worn-out copy of his Greatest Hits album that had somehow been passed down to me. My parents had his later albums reserved for the good stereo in the living room, so if I wanted to hear Beautiful Noise or The Jazz Singer, I had to ask them to play it. But, more often than not, they beat me to the punch and put one of them on for themselves.

Neil was my first concert. Market Square Arena, late spring of 1982. It was right before school let out for the year, and I remember taking the official program to show off to everyone on the last day of school. They, of course, were jealous. Who wouldn't be? It was Neil Diamond! (The concert was excellent, by the way. I don't really remember much, other than the fact that when he sang "America" fireworks were set off above the audience. And I remember that my sister fell asleep. How she could sleep while fireworks were going off above her head is beyond me.)

My Grandfather, never the world's most musical man, was always whistling one tune. That tune? "Song Sung Blue." See, Neil could even charm those who weren't into music.

I'm going to now list some Neil Diamond songs off the top of my head. See how many you know:

Song Sung Blue
Beautiful Noise
Holly Holy
Sweet Caroline
Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show
Kentucky Woman
You Got To Me
Longfellow Serenade
If You Know What I Mean
Thank the Lord for the Night Time
I'm a Believer
You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Hello Again
Love on the Rocks
Dry Your Eyes
Cherry Cherry
Headed for the Future

OK, those were just spur-of-the-moment-right-from-my-brain picks. Now let me get my Neil Diamond boxset and see which ones I missed:

Solitary Man
Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon
Red Red Wine
Brooklyn Roads
Cracklin' Rosie (How in the hell did I forget this song?!?!?!?)
Done Too Soon
Play Me
I Am, I Said (Again, am I having memory loss?)
Forever in Blue Jeans (Sorry, Val, I know it's your favorite)
September Morn
Yesterday's Songs

Hopefully the above 34 (!) songs have convinced you that Neil Diamond is not a Las Vegas hack who tours constantly to play to hordes of screaming middle aged women. Hopefully you realize that the man's truly talented and worthy of many accolades and honors. And hopefully you now want to find some Neil Diamond and listen to it. Before that, though, I need to let you in on a little secret: Neil Diamond is considered a joke.

I have no idea how anyone who's written that many great songs, has had 38 top 40 singles, has sold many records, and continues to be a top concert draw despite the fact that his last top 10 single came out over 20 years ago could be a joke to anyone. But, sadly, he is. He doesn't get nearly the respect that he deserves. For one thing, I think he should be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, pronto. It's a travesty that he isn't in there already. Especially when you see acts like ZZ Top and Bob Seger - groups that were once relevant but haven't aged as well - granted access to the coveted hall this year. You could make the argument that Neil really isn't rock and roll (which is a bullshit; one listen to "Thank the Lord for the Night Time" proves that the man knows how to rock), but if that's the case, then why the hell is Gene "Town Without Pity" Pitney in there? It really does blow the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's credibility by not including Neil. Of course, that's something we could all fix.

Look, I know modern-day Neil isn't all that great. Seeing him live these days is like hearing a carnival barker yell his hits to you. And he has this bizarre tendency to wear clothing with excessive sequins, turning him into a human disco ball whenever light hits him. But you can't deny the power that is Neil Diamond. The man's a legend, and I'm proud to call myself a fan.

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I think I helped make my boss sick. Peter came into work yesterday morning complaining of flu-like symptoms. And today? All I know is that when I got into work, his office was dark and I had a voicemail message explaining that the flu bug had seized him. He probably picked up the virus from his girlfriend, as she was sick all last week, but I'm sure being around my germs in the office didn't help matters much. Hopefully he'll get over this before heading to Wisconsin for the holidays. And he better be at work Friday. That's my last scheduled vacation day, and I intend to use it, dammit!

Welcome to those of you who are new to my little online journal. I informed a few more friends and family today that this site is now up and running. Hopefully the reader base is growing, and I promise to try and keep this thing updated on a daily basis. If you ever want me to write about something particular, or just have general suggestions, send me an e-mail and let me know what you'd like to hear. I'm open to ideas to keep it interesting.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I saw The Human Stain tonight, the new Robert Benton film starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris. I need to explain why I didn't like the film, but can only do so while revealing a major plot point. So, please, skip the next paragraph if you're planning on seeing it.

OK. Midway through the already dull film, a twist is revealed about Hopkins's character. The twist? He's black. As in African American. Yes, that's right, Anthony Hopkins is playing a black man. We all know that Anthony Hopkins looks nothing like a black man, so you can imagine how silly the film becomes when you see his character begin to struggle with issues surrounding his race. They even flash back to his youth, with a different white-as-a-cloud actor playing his younger self. It's quite odd, kind of like someone had an idea to make a dramatic version of The Jerk. It just doesn't work and blows what little credibility the film had left at that point.

As for the rest of it, the whole rich-older-man-loves-trailer-trash-woman plot is dull and handled poorly. The writing isn't that great, dishing out little tragedies for everyone whenever things get dull on screen. And poor Gary Sinise. He's reduced to standing there looking concerned for his friend. There is one nice scene in the film, where Hopkins and Sinise dance together to "Cheek to Cheek". It's not as bizzare as it sounds, trust me. It's actually a nice moment. But that's it. Please, skip the film. It's Miramax Oscar bait at the worst.

Till tomorrow...

Monday, December 15, 2003

Went to the gym late tonight. I had to go this evening, but really didn't feel like fighting the crowds at 5:30 p.m. Instead I went home, had an early dinner, watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, then worked out at 9:15. Man, there's no one at the gym at 9:15 on a Monday night! It was great! I was able to use my favorite treadmill - nicknamed "Old Blue" by me, even though it's not that old and the color blue is nowhere to be found on it - and select the Crosstrainer of my choice instead of having to use the crappy one that makes weird jerky motions when you're moving backwards. Two negatives, though: 1) It's hard to people watch when you're the only person in the room, and 2) It's one thing to see videos of crappy current pop songs, but when you can actually hear the music? Torture.

Seriously, I was there 45 minutes and they played one song I liked: "6th Avenue Heartache" by the Wallflowers. And that one's not exactly a song that inspires you to get your body moving. I did get to hear the Ace of Base opus "It's a Beautiful Life", though. And about 15 songs from kids who are ten years younger and $10 million richer than I am. It was enough to make a guy consider running outdoors. I'd bring a Walkman with me, but I'm afraid I'll start to sing along to it while I'm exercising. I'm sure very few people really want to hear my version of "Burning Down the House" while they're running on the treadmill next to me.

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Spent the day with my parents, sister and niece. A big family controversy erupted when, just as we were about to head out for dinner at Olive Garden, Bianca decided to take a nap. Our trip was delayed by about 90 minutes while the kid slept. My father, who likes to eat at 4:00 p.m. now, was kind of upset. Me, I didn't care. I occupied the time playing my Mom's new handheld Tetris game that she received for her birthday.

Oh, and by the way, if you ever do find yourself playing a handheld game of Tetris for 90+ minutes, be aware of the fact that you will more than likely lose all feeling in your thumbs by the time you are finished. Thank God the restaurant wasn't right next door. The ride there gave my fingers time to return to normal.

Our military captured Saddam today. Don't you find it a little odd that just as Bush's popularity was eroding in the polls was when we finally caught the guy? I know, I know, it could all be a coincidence, but the timing just seems a little suspicious to me. Still, the news did cause me to elicit an audible "Oh my God" while I was walking on the treadmill at the gym this morning. I think it's great that we finally got him; Now I just hope we can get our troops out of Iraq sooner rather than later. Because the longer we stick around, the worse it's going to look to the rest of the world. And maybe Saddam can point us in the right direction to those mysterious Weapons of Mass Destruction we originally went over there to find.

(For those of you who don't like politics in blogs, this will not be a daily feature. I just felt like I should mention it since it was big news of the day.)

Till tomorrow...

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Tonight was the 5th (!) annual CCPL Computer Technology Christmas Party. Departmental attendance was at 100%, actually 166% when you include Jack (Karen's husband) and Andrea (Peter's girlfriend). We had dinner at Pizzeria Uno then came back to my house to visit with each other some more. (And have some cookies for desert. Sugar cookies, of course, complete with icing. Hey, it's Christmas, we deserve a treat like that.) I believe everyone had a good time. Here's looking forward to next year.

Got my haircut this morning. Brandi did her excellent job, as always. I wanted to dock her tip for playing the absolute worst Christmas music ever during my appointment, but I didn't feel like being a Scrooge. Here are two artists I had the pleasure of hearing: Cher and Calista "Ally McBeal" Flockhart. You ever heard Cher warble a festive tune while someone is cutting your hair? Trust me, if you haven't, you have yet to live.

Oddly, she decided to shave my ears as well. Not because they were hairy - I may be old, but I ain't ancient - but because she was on the phone arranging another appointment with a client and had nothing to do with her free hand. So she decided to shave my ears. Um, yeah, thanks Brandi. I appreciate that.

Till Tomorrow...

Friday, December 12, 2003

Welcome to my home on the Internet. Yes, this is a poor-man's website (TM Andie), but it's better than nothing. And since you all know what a horrible e-mailer I am, I figured this was a good way to keep you all updated without having to wait for me to get off my rump and answer your e-mails. I promise to post as often as I can, so check back often. And you're free to send me harrassing e-mails if I don't update!