Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Life's important questions...

A co-worker and I were walking back from the gym today and we walked by three female students standing outside the entrance to our building. One was girl-next door cute, thin with long brown hair. The second was blonde, just over average looking but a bit on the stocky side; a little more excessive than voluptuous. The third one’s look can best be described as maybe fifty percent Olive Oil (Popeye), about ten percent Goth, thirty percent neo-feminist lesbian, and ten percent auto mechanic.

So as soon as we were out of ear-shot my question was:

"Given a choice; do you do the one cute chick, or do you do the other two at the same time?"

There are so many schools of thought on what a "real man" would do when faced with this situation. They range from "there are two kinds of women, those I’ve had and those I want" to "pig, how can you objectify someone like that?" Personally my standards are not terribly high so I would have done the two not as "hot" as the other chick chicks. The co-worker agreed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The "Jurassic Booger" is gone...

It is with great sadness that I must report that the “Jurassic Booger” is gone.

About eleven years ago, in the men’s bathroom on the fourth floor of the building I work in, someone (not me) gave birth to a fairly large booger measuring almost a centimeter in diameter. This gift of dried mucous and bloody scar tissue was placed carefully at about the seven foot mark just above the decorative wood strip above the urinals. I remember my initial disgust at the remnants of someone else’s bad habit slowly turning into a small amount of respect; it was an impressive booger. Only a missing nose hair kept it from perfection. What went through this guy’s mind after mining such a large chunk of nostril ore? “That’s purty, I’ll share it with dah world”; squish.

Years went by, and the booger lived on. I would move on to another job somewhere but return years later to a new administration and system. I had forgotten about the booger on the fourth floor until the day I ventured up the flights of stairs to take a leak.

There it was, still there. The booger had mutated over the years, turning almost completely black with age. I gave it the name “Jurassic Booger” – it seemed to fit.

All good things, though, must come to an end. I don’t think the cleaning crew got to it as there are small marks as evidence of its existence. If someone was scrubbing up there that high I would assume they would leave no trace of the nose nugget behind. Maybe someone got tired of looking at it and chipped it off with a pencil. In any case, a piece of history is gone.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Grouchy's "Gripe of the Day"

Thank goodness the building I work in is so old and crummy it does not have any of those optical sensor controlled bathroom appliances. After taking a leak I press a large button in front of me and my wee wee just disappears. Same with the sit-down toilets. As soon as I'm done stinking up the stall a push of a level sends my intestinal gift on a trip. When I wash my hands afterwards, I actually have to use a knob to obtain water from the faucet. It's so simple and it works every time. So why on this green earth are these reliable, standard appliances being replaced by these automatic Bizzaro world backwards rejects from a remote control factory?

I'll assume that the idea of turning a dial or pushing a button might be too much for some people to comprehend, or that somewhere a bean-counter figured out that average money saved on these devices by eliminated mechanical switch failures and decreased lost water expense would look good on a ledger somewhere. I just don't have much luck with the things.

The toilet in our gym has such a hair trigger on it you have to be careful not to arch forward slightly to get toilet paper to wipe your ass else it will assume you left, flush violently and slosh water on your behind.

I was in Walmart the other day and could not get the automatic faucet to engage. I tried backing up. I moved to the other faucet and it didn't work. I tried moving at a direct ninety degree angle to approach it. I did a Jim Carrey dance in front of it. Finally it engaged for a few seconds then shut off again. Left with no other option I rinsed my hands in the remaining sink water; at a Walmart. Ewwwwwwwwwwwww.

There are some bathrooms that have everything automated from the lights, to the urinals and toilets, to the faucets, hand drier and even the paper towel dispenser. Is this really necessary? Is this the future of taking a dump? Or is this..?

“Good morning, Grouchy.” (lights pop on then adjust to my personal preference: neo cave) “Would you like to urinate or defecate?”

“Umm, I need to take a...”


(stall door pops open)
“Enter stall three, please. Would you like some music to ease your bowels? You seem tense.”

I drop drawers and sit down. Some soft Barry Manilow is played for me. After about thirty seconds it changes to “Do you really want to hurt me” from Culture Club. I do my business.


“That is a soft, eight ounce floater. No dietary adjustment necessary.”
(three squares dispense).
I wipe cautiously with my portioned Charmin.

“Rinse?”


“Umm, pass...”


I stand up, the stall door opens. As I approach the sink the toilet flushes behind me with a Homer Simpson “woo hoo” (another preference, just like in Windows). I stick my hands under the faucet; a brief spritz of water is followed by a dollop of soap. I wash up then I'm greeted with water to rinse with.


“Do you require lotion?”
(a square of paper towel is dispensed)

“Nope”


“Any other services today?”


“That'll be all, thanks.”


“Thank you for defecating at the Acme AutoJohnny 2000. Have a nice day.”


Shudder.
I imagine the voice was Martha Stewart's as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The path to good health, Grouchy forced to diet and exercise...

It has been two weeks since my visit to the doctor's office and one week since I learned my cholesterol and especially my triglyceride levels were pretty high. Things are very slowly return to some sense of normality. My strength is slowly recovering and in a couple weeks I'm hoping to be in better shape. I'm adjusting to my somewhat radical change in diet. There were many things I knew I would either have to change or continue through the process of changing.

First thing I had to do, and was doing off and on, was to eliminate the soft drinks and alcohol. Mountain Dew was my poison of choice, sometime consuming 40 ounces of that stuff on my most stressful days at work. I can avoid drinking soda pop altogether on the weekends but my real weakness came during job stress; or maybe job habits. I'm trying to drink at least a gallon of pure water per day. After a week or two I will probably add a serving or two of sport drink like AllSport or Gatorade. I was already consuming a good deal of water due to advice from a urologist after a kidney stone. Booze was an occasional habit, mostly whiskey and beer. Red wines are supposedly good for cholesterol but it will be a while before I feel like experimenting with that.

Second thing on the list was to eliminate the occasional egg yolk from the diet. I would fry up usually two but sometimes one egg once or twice a week. In line with egg yolks is an overall reduction in cholesterol, which when looking at my diet wasn't too hard. Every Friday I would have donuts at work, if there was ice cream in the house I would usually eat it, and the sweetheart would occasionally make cookies and treats. Margarine on toast and bagels, like the aforementioned items is not an option anymore.

Third change and for a somewhat tough change is to eat more fruits and vegetables. I have never been a big eater of either category preferring grains and meats over them. I'm trying to get in the habit of eating a salad for lunch every day. I might try different curries, stews, goulashes and meatless chili to add more vegetables. Fruits will be “desserts” from now on I guess.

The last thing on the immediate list was to cut out the occasional fast food or restaurant visit. This will probably be the hardest part of the journey. No more Taco Bell or Wendy's for a while. I might have to break down and go to Chipotle Grill every now and then.

There were a lot of things that I was and have been doing right for years now. I use a lot of soy products including soy protein supplements, soy-cheese, and soy-based meal products, my favorite being Morningstar Farms veggie sausages. I've used fat free milk for a long time. I try to have at least one service of fish per week, usually salmon or trout. I don't eat a lot of beef, but when I do it's usually hamburger from a fast-food outlet. A lot of my life is spent seated in front of a computer (like now, ha ha) doing work, learning, or ranting about crap I shouldn't be sticking my nose into. I hit the gym five days a week when I'm at work, although I've changed my workout to include more cardiovascular exercise and less strength training. I have added a quick trip on the Health Rider in the morning, try to incorporate more stairs on bathroom breaks at work, and will try to walk more when I get home and stay active on the weekends.

It's a shame that I needed a trip to the doctor and some elevated numbers to push me to the final stages of doing some of the things I should have been doing all along. Hopefully when I go back to the doctor in about three or four months I will be healthier, more fit and leaner than before.

BTW, there are millions of links to cholesterol and triglyceride reduction on the Internet; surprisingly many with differing information (yeah, you're shocked to hear that aren't you?).

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Andrulis... Out...

The end of the second era of Columbus Crew leadership has finally come. At 10:15 AM EST Crew GM Mark McCullers announced that head coach Greg Andrulis, referred to comedically as “GA”, “Anclueless” and “Andruloseris” by detractors (including myself), was sacked. Former Crew player and assistant coach Robert “the Polish Rifle” Warzycha was named interim head coach until a national and international search for a new head coach can be completed.

All I can say is “thank goodness”.

This is the first step in a list of many changes that needed to be made in this organization. Using past games are examples, clearly there was no leadership morale as basic soccer skills eroded and young stars struggled alongside veterans loss after loss. Attendance dwindled with the team.

Some other steps the Crew need to take:

  • Identify some franchise players, compensate and treat them as such, then hold them up to the community as a whole and let them run this team.
  • Acquire a well compensated outsider, perhaps an international, to add experience and a second vision.
  • Fill in the gaps with good developing talents and steady players with league experience

Realistically, most of those items won't be happening this season as the Crew are probably near the cap in roster size and player salaries with the recent acquisition of Walker and Henderson. The 2005 season will end and then the Crew can dump some players.

As for Andrulis, I wish him the best of luck with his next experience. The Crew won a Supporter's Shield and an Open Cup under his reign. But as it was when Tom Fitzgerald was released from coaching duties, it's time to move Greg on. The current roster was built by Andrulis and is underperforming. It's time to fix things, starting with the head coach.


Monday, July 11, 2005

NHL 2005/2006, if anybody cares

Not that many people care anymore, but this gem from Manny Legace is interesting:

"It makes no sense what we ended up doing," Legace said. "For years, Bob was telling us, 'No cap. Owners aren't telling us the truth about their books.' Then out of nowhere, he gives the owners a 24-percent rollback and it looked like we were panicking."

"Then after saying we wouldn't even consider a salary cap, he backed down on that at the last minute just before the lockout. It was too late, and now we're taking a worse deal."

Well, duh. Instead of looking at a pre-2004/2005 revenue stream these organizations that were looking at a partial 2004/2005 season and it's figures are now looking at a potentially disappointing 2005/2006 revenue stream who's outlook gets worse every day these entities don't have a solution.

Look guys, it's July 11, 2005 and there is still no official agreement between respective parties over the NHL. There are roughly two months left to agree to terms before game one of the new season, but you should have this thing wrapped up long before then. If you drag this thing down to the wire again, you will lose even more fans to the masses that just don't care about the NHL anymore.

Update:
12:32 PM EDT, 07/13/2005
NHL, NHLPA reach agreement in principle on new CBA

NEW YORK/TORONTO (July 13, 2005) - The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association have reached an agreement in principle on the terms of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Details of the new Agreement will not be made available publicly pending the formal ratification process by the NHLPA Members and the NHL Board of Governors.

It is anticipated that the ratification process will be completed next week, at which time the parties will be prepared to discuss the details of the Agreement and plans for next season. No further comment will be made until then.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Call of the Grouch, or Grouchy goes camping...

This weekend marked the first time in a long time that I have been camping. The family borrowed a tent and air mattress and pitched camp at a pay-to-camp park in Indiana.

We ended up camping under trees in front of a small, murky pond (wonderful frog noises at night). The site included a fire pit and two picnic tables. The grounds featured a lake with a small beach, paddle boats, canoes, a beach volleyball and basketball court, a playground, one indoor and one outdoor pool, miniature golf course, and three water slides (tube, corkscrew, and straight down).

The Good
  • the weekend was relaxing and I had fun most of the time
  • I wasn't at work

The Bad
  • the camp grounds were congested and at dusk everybody was burning their fires leaving the air thick with smoke
  • the facilities were small for the number of people present
  • the grounds were about a hundred feet from an interstate and truckers just love laying on their horns as they pass by during the early A.M. Hours
  • I got sunburned
We played miniature golf most of the time when we weren't walking around or cooking food. I bought week passes for the family to get us into the water slides, golf, and paddle boats. We never got to the paddle boats (booked most of the time), a kid puked in the outdoor pool eliminating one recreational outlet for a couple hours, the corkscrew water slide bruised my leg and nearly knocked one woman out cold. I learned via voice message from my doctor when I got to the grounds that my cholesterol and triglyceride levels are excessive; so alcohol and typical campground fare (hot dogs, burgers, cheese, smores, etc.) were out of the question.

If I were to go camping again it would probably be somewhere a little less congested or on someone's private property.

Still, it was better than sitting in my basement or watching my soccer team lose again.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Crew vs. the scum, more suckitude...

I have to admit, this is the first time in a long time that I have felt sorry for Crew head coach Greg Andrulis. This has to be the bottom of the barrel: losing on a holiday weekend, at home to the scum on an own-goal, a disallowed goal, and a missed penalty kick. If I were him I would seriously consider taking the fan's advice of finding a dark cave, crawling inside then getting mauled to death by and ending up in the stomach of a angry grizzly bear.

Another missed PK.

His central midfielder pulls a gigantic brain fart while chopping down a scum player, earning himself a one-match vacation.

Instead of looking like an attacking team for, well, most of the entire game they watched the scum string pass after pass together then tried to play long-ball when down a goal, where the defense simply sits back and needle points waiting for the ball to come in. Low percentage. High futility. Even in the last ten minutes of the game there seemed to be no urgency whatsoever. There was nobody running to the ball on throw-ins or trying to work the ball down the field without resulting to ineffective long balls.
So I would imagine late in the game, as GA is mulling his substitutions he probably doesn't feel too confident; a bunch of rookies and two individuals that would probably give their left testicles to be healthy and in the match trying to help.

But alas, the clock shows 93 minutes. The scum are still controlling in the Crew end of the field, "sack Andrulis" chants are ringing out, and the general feeling of crapitude sinks in. He probably plucked at his beard hoping to get off the field before the news vultures circled in or he got pelted with something from a disgruntled teenage fan. Once inside the locker room he probably looked at the demoralized nakedness in front of him, wondering if he should offer constructive criticism, condolences, or just go postal on him like some psychotic wookie. Instead, he probably waddled off into a room desperate to sugarcoat the obvious questions facing him post-game.

I tell you what, GA. If you still have your job next week, please try the following.

I want five individuals to go through super secret penalty kick ninja school. These individuals should be money in bank when the inevitable spot-kick situation arises. I want these players to be able to make a penalty kick time-after-time, repeatedly; while blindfolded with Ritchie Williams strapped to their head. Nothing else is acceptable.

Second, I want shock therapy for all the stupid, dumb ass, idiotic plays some of those players made. Show Buddle that long, floated back-pass my dead-grandmother (God rest her soul) could have intercepted (the pass that led to the own-goal). Buzzzzzzt. Martino, see that Hejduk-like achilles slicing scythe move? Buzzz-nuh-hey-man-nuhuhuhuhuhuhuh. Etc.

Lastly, select a starting eleven; players that won't get called up and can realistically make an effort to either make a run for the playoffs or at least play well for home games. Select four subs plus a reserve keeper. Tell the rest they aren't good enough to play for the suckiest team in the eastern conference; go back to Burger King and Home Depot. Then turn to your remaining players, sigh deeply, then say "play for these fans like you want to win for them or so help me you are all going down with me. If you screw these fans over one more time I'll grab hold of your balls, twist, then squeeze them until you're dead."

Dear lord what a depressing mess. This match was like the fight scene from "Raising Arizona" in it's comic futility.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Red, White and Boom! Crew Boom!

For those of you who are not local to Columbus, Ohio you might not know about the "Red White and Boom" celebration downtown. Every Independence Day one of the local news stations and numerous sponsors throw a big shindig downtown on the riverfront. It is a good display of fireworks, choreographed to music. I guess Lexington, KY has one as well. It is a big thing.

This year my girlfriend and I (well, mostly her) wanted to go downtown amongst the half-million or so individuals. The plan was to park at the community college then walk six or seven blocks to the riverfront. Unfortunately, the girlfriend and I were feeling too tired and nauseated to fight the crowds and walk those six or seven blocks downtown. We decided the check out Crew Boom at Crew Stadium.

Entrance was free with a small, ten dollar parking fee.

The good:
  • Plenty of activities for the kids on the sacred turf and outside the stadium
  • We arrived too late but there were players signing autographs
  • The south bridge, the east side upper deck, and the northeast bridge had a good view of downtown
  • The fireworks after Red, White and Boom were more then respectable and somewhat made up for the parking fee
The bad:
  • I could have done without the verbal hand-sanitizer, i.e. the repeated “your safe” here away from all that (implied) bad stuff downtown. Knowing my luck, after all the family clean and “safe” atmosphere I would have returned to find my car broken into
  • The “small” fee; just come out and say $10 so I know what I’m in for.
  • The view of some fireworks was obstructed by the BWC Building and Nationwide Building #3
  • The fireworks were somewhat too far away.
All in all it was a good experience. It served it's purpose letting us enjoy the fireworks live with little or no effort and without the massive congestion and parking nightmares downtown would have had.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Schooling tiger barbs...

For Iron over on the Tropical Fish Forums - Cyprinids, Characins and Atherinids forum.



Click on either to see a 1024x768 resolution picture.

The picture on the left has the majority of the tiger barbs schooling from right to left. The right shows them "hanging around" together.

It's difficult to get a full view of them "schooling". If I use a flash the picture does not look right. If I increase the light shining directly into the tank, the fish hide in the vegitation. If I stick with the aquarium lighting most of the fish will blur no matter what aperature and shutter settings I use. I usually have to wait a while before shooting because if I come near the tank the curious fish will stop acting "natural" and congregate at the front of the glass - "feed us". If I back off, the blurriness increases. Tiger barbs are voracious feeders so feeding them won't slow them down.

The best I can do is take a lot of pictures, dozens of them, and pick ones that turn out best or at all.

Blogger pictures ...

Just testing...

The original size of this photo of my 55 and 40 gallon fish tanks was 1600x1200. Blogger photos sizing:
  • small: 200x150; divide by 8
  • medium: 320x240; divide by 5
  • large: 400x300; divide by 4
Clicking on the image takes you to a 1024x768 pixel image.

I can deal with that. What I have problems with is that it looks like blogger hard-codes the style in the img tag; i.e. margin and float properties.

Sigh. There is a purpose for style sheets. Why code this crap in every image when you can simply assign a class to it then allow positioning in the style sheet via template the "blogger" chose or the CSS coded by the author? All hard-coding does is cause problems formatting content (see style below) for template authors and CSS developers who are attempting to control the layout of the page.

Ditch the hard-coding of "style" attributes in published content.

The way to get around this annoyance is to go to Edit HTML and remove the offending crud while adding your own crud. A class for each position, perhaps?