Friday, February 27, 2009


I just looked at my 401K and I think I need to take some berievement leave. My old Safeco account is down 17.2% year to date and my new Liberty Mutual account is down 13.9%. I don't even want to mention losses from last year. I think I was making contributions just fast enough to break even. I think I'm going to cry. At this rate I might be able to retire sometime in my early 90s. If anyone knows any rich single women, send them my way. It's going to need to drop a lot more, and some laws are going to have to change before I'll consider any rich single men.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I had a dream last night that I was taking a nap. Again, I'm no expert when it comes to dream analysis, but I think that means I'm tired. It was a good nap too, I can't tell you how disappointed I was to wake up and discover it never happened.

Spring Training

Baseball season is underway, and the M's lost their opener to the Padres 4-3 in 10 innings. The one item of note is that newly re-acquired Ken Griffey Jr sat out with a sore knee. Welcome back Ken. M's fans should prepare themselves to see him watching the game from the bench frequently this year. Hopefully he'll be on the field eventually.

Snow Sneak Attack

I, for one, am not ashamed to admit that I was completely taken by surprise when I looked out the window this morning and was greeted by 2-3 inches of snow. I had absolutely no idea it was coming. Rather than take that excuse to stay home like I should have, I set out on my adventure in getting to work.

Knowing that there was no way in the world that my normal bus - the 265 would be running since they shut it down at the slightest hint of snow, I hopped in my car and drove down to the South Kirkland Park & Ride to catch the trusty 255. Since it doesn't have many hills on it's route it's pretty reliable in adverse weather. Or so I thought.

The roads really weren't too bad getting to the P&R, so I expected a minimal wait for the bus. It runs approximately every 10 minutes in the mornings, but after standing there freezing for more than half an hour, I began to wonder if it was time for plan B. That's about when somebody walked up to the P&R and announced that he had just gotten off a 255 going the other direction and that it was on a different snow route and was stopping on Lake Washington Blvd. I proceeded to make the 4 or 5 block journey there, and after about 20 minutes of no buses, headed back to my car.

Plan C involved driving to the Evergreen Point P&R - right next to the 520 bridge. I usually avoid that P&R because it has a very small lot and unless you get there early, you won't be able to find a parking space and you'll have to go somewhere else anyway. Luckily for me, the snow kept enough people away that there was still available parking, and shortly after walking over to the bus stop, along came a 545 which would get me to work.

Well, the bus was absolutely packed, and the driver said that they had to leave 20-30 people behind at the last stop because there wasn't room for them. Fortunately, 5 or 6 people got off the bus there so I was able to squeeze in and head toward downtown. I made it into the office about an hour and a half late. There is very little snow left in the city, although I was amused to see a snow covered car parked in front of my building with just enough snow brushed away to put a parking ticket under the wiper. I don't know why that amuses me, maybe because it seems unnecessarily cruel. I still haven't checked the forecast, but I'm really hoping I won't have any difficulty getting home tonight. Global warming my ass.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Introducing Nativity Camel

The latest acquaintance to decide it's a good idea to start a blog so you can irritate a greater number of people than you would on a regular basis is Nativity Camel, aka Jamie. The camel is a moderately amusing man who's hobbies include lying about how great Oregon is, trash talking the UW and Seattle sports in general, working in a library, and not shaving. Currently he is working on cultivating a Grizzly Adams look. And despite being rather lanky and goofy looking in kind of an Ichibod Crane/Ric Ocasek sort of way, women seem inexplicably drawn to him. The only logical explanation I can find is that he must have an abundance of pheromones emanating from him. Long story short, you should check out his site and feel free to ridicule him.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Yet another in a long line of brilliant ideas being offered up for free, I give you the porta-bowl. I'm envisioning a waterproof cloth bowl with a fold up wire frame that would easily flatten out and take up next to no room in my attache on the way to work. Then I could have soup every day. Or at least whenever I want. I'm sure such a product already exists somewhere, but I'm too busy and important to waste valuable seconds searching for it. Plus it would undoubtedly have a far less cool name.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Griffey Returns


In what can only be a bad omen for the Mariners, Ken Griffey Jr. is coming back. I thought we'd had our fill of washed up, injury prone players, but apparently not. I'm going to predict right now that Griffey will spend at least 40 days on the DL this year and will at some point launch in to a juvenile tirade because some team mate (probably Ichiro or Felix Hernandez) is stealing some of his lime light. I don't think Griffey is a team player and I don't think he has anything left in the tank. What this signing says to me is that management cares more about filling seats than winning games. They are willing to sacrifice wins by bringing in a fan favorite that they know people will pay to see (for a while at least) at the expense of playing time for a better player. It's going to be another long season baseball fans. Brace yourself. And if you're looking forward to seeing him play, buy your tickets early in the season because after the first month all bets are off as to him being healthy enough to be in the lineup.

The good news out of M's camp that has largely gone unnoticed because of the Griffey debacle is that last years first round draft pick, Josh Fields, has finally been signed. He hasn't pitched in 8 months thanks to extended negotiations, but the cupboard is pretty bare in the bullpen and I don't think it will be long before he gets the call. I don't know how realistic an expectation it is, but here's to hoping he'll be contributing before the all star break.

In news that I'm sure nobody cares about, my 8 year reign of terror as a Mariner employee has come to an end. Last year was miserable and it just doesn't pay enough to be worthwhile anymore. I started in 2001 and loved every minute of it. I was there when they won their 116th game. I saw them play in the post season. I worked the all star game. It was unbelievable fun to be there every day. The energy was amazing. From there it has been a steady decline, and to be honest, last year's problems had more to do with management issues than watching a terrible team. Since attendance was down we were overstaffed, and I really think that management's solution was to make employees miserable until they started to quit. Anyway, I don't want to dwell on the negative. I have a lot of great memories from my time there and will probably miss it terribly around July or August when the weather is really nice. I can still honestly say that on a beautiful, warm, sunny day, there are very few places that are better to be than Safeco Field.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stimulus Package

I'll keep this as brief as possible since it's getting close to my bed time, but here's why I think the economic stimulus package won't work. I'll start with the most obvious observation which is that the government has been spending money like crazy and running up the deficit for the last several years and if that hasn't worked, why would anyone really expect that increasing government spending even more would suddenly start working now? I contend that runaway spending is one of the factors contributing to getting us in the mess we're currently in. To finance all of the spending, the government has in large part just printed up more money without any kind of backing. This has led to a severe devaluation of the dollar. This has effectively meant salary decreases for everyone in the nation, not to mention decreased profitability for businesses. When your dollar doesn't buy as much as it used to, consumer spending will decrease, which means greater decreases in profitability for businesses, which leads to layoffs, which leads to further decreases in consumer spending, etc. It's a vicious downward spiral that isn't going to end by further devaluing the dollar.

The prevailing public opinion is that the New Deal is the model of how the government can spend it's way out of a depression or recession. The truth is that the New Deal implemented new government spending programs from 1933-1938 and the economy didn't start it's recovery until late in 1941 when WWII started. FDR was in office for 8 years before the economy turned around, and the New Deal programs were ineffective. The evidence suggests that we're more likely to turn the economy by starting another war than by more government spending programs.

Most of the philosophy that increased government spending and decreased interest rates is the way to fix a depressed economy comes from John Maynard Keynes. Since I haven't taken any economics courses since college about 15 years ago, I decided to brush up on my Keynesian Economics. A lot of the theories are logical, but the two factors which I think are noteworthy are that government spending crowds out investment from the private sector, increasing the nations reliance on the government and making it more difficult for the private sector to sustain itself. Second, increasing the deficit increases the volume of government bonds, decreasing their value and encouraging an increase in interest rates. This makes it more expensive for businesses to finance investments.

I don't really know what the solution is, but I don't think the economic stimulus package is it. I think that fiscal responsibility by both the government and individuals is important, and ultimately investor confidence is going to have to return somehow before things start to improve.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Circuit City

While out and about this evening, I drove by a Circuit City store and decided to stop in and check out the going out of business specials. The store was pretty picked over, I would estimate over half their inventory is gone, but looking around I thought that the close out prices weren't that great anyway. 50% off a $60 HDMI cable is still too much. Especially since I can find one on Amazon for as low as 97 cents. It may not be Monster Cable brand but it gets the job done and I really doubt anyone could tell the difference. Anyway, point is there wasn't even anything worth buying at close out prices.

What this all really leads me into though, is almost a political statement. How much longer are we going to have companies fold because way overpaid executives are raping the company? Corporate America seems to have gotten so top heavy that it sickens me. How in the world can executives justify such exorbitant salaries while nickle and diming non management employees? Maybe in a privately held company that can happen, but don't executives of publicly traded companies have any accountability to their share holders? Even on their way out Circuit City is splitting $2.3 million in retention bonuses between 16 execs while giving $750k to the remaining 34,000 employees who will be losing their jobs. The same 16 people who just ran the company into the ground. How in the world are they not accountable to stock holders? The same thing is going on at the big 3 auto makers along with who knows how many other struggling companies across the country.

I'm not a communist by any means and certainly don't favor any kind of government regulations. I simply can't understand how the free market can allow this kind of irresponsibility when, in my opinion, much of the current economic crisis is due to exactly this kind of mismanagement. I don't have any answers I'm sorry to say, I'm just angry today. Maybe it's about time for me to stock up on weapons and ammo and join Shelvis in his bunker so I can have some company during the impending chaos. At least I can count on an abundant supply of home made pickels there. Things are going to get worse before they start getting better.

DVR Expander

In the last couple months I've been looking at DVR Expanders like this one and am wondering if anyone has any experience with them. My reasons for wanting one are two fold:

Reason the first. The most obvious reason is that the DVR I use is provided by the evil folks at Comcast and will hold 60 hours of standard definition programming, which is more than enough, but will only hold 15 hours of HD programming. That means if I record 2 football games, that fills up half the capacity. Not to mention the fact that I've gone on vacation and run into storage issues before. So the added capacity would be nice.

Reason the second. Since my DVR is provided by the evil Comcast, it is prone to the occasional demon possession episode. I have had it freeze up on me and reset itself, deleting the entire contents. Unwatched episodes of tv shows and movies gone forever. I also had another incident where it started recording an episode of Monk and then decided it was never going to stop. I woke up the next morning and found an 8+ hour episode of Monk still recording, deleting saved programs to make room. Having saved programs on the expander would keep them safe from a runaway DVR.

So I'm hoping that someone has some experience with one of these. Reading the user reviews it sounds like it's easy to set up and use, the one major concern for me however is compatibility. It says it has been tested for compatibility with Scientific Atlanta 8300 or 8300HD DVR, but my Comcast P.O.S. is made by Motorola. It does have an SATA port, so at least the expander could be plugged in. I've done a limited amount of googling on the subject and since it appears that Comcast uses different models of DVR, it's hard to find anyone who has tested the expander with my specific model (DCT3412 I). I refuse to call Comcast and spend 5 minutes wading through their automated menu just to get someone who either has no idea what I'm talking about, or at the very best will say that it might work but they can't make any guarantees. Although I already need to call them for another issue, so maybe I can just inquire while I already have them on the line. Anyone willing to save me the trouble and give me a definitive answer would be appreciated though.

In case you are curious, the other issue I have is that they mailed me a flyer back in December telling me I should have about 30 new HD channels (depending on the package) as of 12/19. So far I get none of these channels and trying to email them for a solution has proven quite unhelpful. I've gotten advice like, "make sure your connections aren't loose." Good lord, like that's the reason I don't get channel 517 but I get both 516 and 518. I simply haven't had the patience to talk to someone without getting angry about it yet. I think I may have anger management issues. Until Comcast foots the bills for therapy though, they aren't going away.


Congratulations are in order for my cousin Pat and his wife Mel on the birth of their first child. The beautiful little girl was born on Friday the 13th and will soon start wearing a hockey mask and playing with knives. I think I'm technically a second cousin once removed, but I'm calling myself an uncle because it's easier. I'm really looking forward to getting to meet her. I got to see her on a webcam on Sunday and she is as beautiful as a baby can be. She was crying a lot, but Pat has that effect on a lot of women so I wasn't at all surprised by that. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that with those lungs she will be an opera singer when she grows up. And yes, I would prefer to listen to a crying baby than opera. Anyway, congratulations to the new proud parents, I couldn't be happier for you.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Today's special music comes courtesy of local heroes Queensryche.

On an unrelated topic, today's hilarious quote comes to us courtesy of Homer Simpson:

Behold, the tailgate party, the pinnacle of human

Since the dawn of parking lots, man has sought to
stuff his guts with food and alcohol in anticipation of watching others
exercise. What childbirth is to women, eating trunk meats is to the

You don't hear terms like bawanged (pronounced be wang ed) nearly often enough. Your homework assignment is to find some way to work that into a conversation sometime in the coming week.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Candy Hearts

I love candy hearts. Sure they are chalky, but so are Tums and I will admit that I like those too. I could eat candy hearts by the handful. While downing some today I began to think that they are kind of brittle and there must be a fair amount of breakage in the manufacturing process. I think they should take all these broken hearts and sell them to lonely people.

I thought this was a brilliant idea, but my test audience that I bounced the idea off of were less enthusiastic. One person claimed that creating a product to basically kick people when they are down is unlikely to be successful. Another claimed that such a product already exists but I have yet to verify that. I, however remain undaunted and firmly believe this idea is a winner.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Greatest Hit In NFL History

I just had to share this one.

Bands That Didn't Make It Big

Every so often I'll come across a band that has something that makes me wonder why they didn't get more attention. I know there are some bands that are unbelievably talented (like Sevendust and Dream Theater) that based on their style of music are just never going to be mainstream, but then there are bands like these:

First up is Eleven. They had some limited success in the mid 90's, and really could write some catchy songs but for whatever reason never made it. I liked the song Let Down, Left Out, Laughed At better but couldn't find a video for it. They could fit into the category of grunge which was huge at the time and had some catchy guitar riffs and solid vocals. Drummer at the time Jack Irons eventually went on to briefly play with Pearl Jam.

Everything is a band that I've actually only heard one song from, Hooch. Maybe the rest of their songs suck but this one is pretty catchy. Plus seeing a bunch of goofy white guys singing the blues is just funny somehow.

Sponge had one great song - Have You Seen Mary. Maybe one of the more underrated songs in history. I think the big thing holding Sponge back though was the fact that the rest of their songs were pretty bad. So I guess this is more of a why wasn't this particular song more popular than why wasn't the band more popular.

I'll hold it down to 4 bands for now. Bringing up the rear is The Tragically Hip. They should have been huge based on the name alone. They were able to maintain a decent career but never regained the success they had with their first single - New Orleans Is Sinking. Embedding is disabled for this video so here's an old fashioned link. I think of these bands, The Tragically Hip are the most talented. And after their debut album it looked like they were going to be huge. I think it's because they are Canadian that it didn't pan out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Big 1000

Welcome to post #1000. Since that seems like kind of a landmark, I've been thinking I should do something special, or at least not my usual crap. And trying to think of something interesting while being stressed out, burned out, and generally hating the world and everybody in it, particularly the Chuckman for claiming he could recruit a girl to play flag football and then failing to deliver on that promise, just led me to doing nothing for a month. Honestly, it was kind of a nice break since it seems I've been too busy or preoccupied with other things to even keep up with my friends sites. But now I'm back and the same as ever!

So the out of the ordinary thing I eventually came up with was throwing up a video of me butchering the Joe Satriani classic Tears In The Rain. Will this turn into a continuing series of me butchering songs or will it be a one off? Only time will tell. But for now, here's something that will make poor Satch roll over in his grave. I know what you're thinking - he's not dead yet. Well, this might just kill him.

In my defense, it's been a pretty long day and I'm tired now, not to mention suffering from a case of hot dog fingers and having a hair thing going on since I haven't gotten it cut in about 3 months, plus fighting an on going battle with run on sentences. A battle I seem to be losing. I had some other crap to complain about but my brain is beginning it's shut down sequence, so you lucked out for now. And I guess I won't brag about becoming a published author either. That will all have to wait for another day.

It appears that the trashing of the Chuckman may have been premature. There's still time for her to back out or be a no show, but all indications are that the Chuckman has been able to procure a girl for this week's football game. All hail to the Chuckman. Ladies, please try to form an orderly single file line at his door.