Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012!

What's your New's Year resolution? Mine is high-definition and life-sized. Actually, my New Year's resolution is to not to any resolutions. Somehow, I think I've failed before I started. That's all right though. At least, I get to have one more year of use out of my nifty Mayan calendar.

Speaking of end-of-the-world events, hopefully, the news won't report that some stupid terrorist ended 2011 with a bang ... unless, of course, that terrorist was alone at the time. That would then make him a genius. Maybe it's a good thing that we can't make New Year's Resolution for other people.

Anyway, don't worry that you didn't fulfill any of your goals for 2011. Just treat 2012's New Year's Resolution as the roll-over minutes from last year's well-meaning intentions. The way my life has gone, I have a ton of minutes!

Friday, December 30, 2011

and we're done...

This year I did an extra special job at proving how badly I can wrap Christmas presents. Actually, it was more like smothering the gifts with lots of paper and tape until they stopped resisting. Not a pretty sight. The scene under the tree look more like an "after" than a "before" of the start of festivities.

Next year, I'm just going to give gift wrapping paper. Let everyone figure that one out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Don't Think The Mayans Foresaw This

The greatest immediate threat to today's civilization is not global warming, that takes too much time to things heated enough. It isn't Facebook either. History shows that we've been surrounding by people filling our days with nothingness and yet we managed to survive.

No, the greatest danger that threatens us is tangled cords. Every day finds us dealing with a conspiracy of knotted ear-bud strings, raveled power cords, gnarled Christmas lights, and ordinary string twisted into evil contortions.

If you need proof, look behind your computer and gaze upon the assortment of Ethernet, power, headphones, mouse, and keyboard cords that somehow have weaved themselves in a frustratingly tangled mess. Just one unintentional tug and your entire system will topple over. Worse yet, if a slight sneeze moves that unholy bundle of wires just a fraction of an inch, you can kiss your unsaved work good-bye. (Well, you could have kissed it if it had been saved. I rest my case.)

When I worked on my computer degree as my major, the college offered several minor degrees such as business management and arts management. In spite of the critical nature and destructive risks to the computer, they didn't offer "cord management". Why not? Probably because the abacuses we used didn't have any wiggly pieces of wire to worry about. Even so, such a vital course is still not offered these days. Why not? How should I know? Do I look like the answer guy?

Although, one local liberal arts college has created a specialty course based on the recent popularity of singing reality shows. Their "chord management" program is devoted to the proper care and handling of irritating, obnoxious, singing prima donnas. I think the aim of the course is to keep these diva-wanna-bes from tangling with each other and their promoters. Perhaps this is the greater threat. I would look it up but my fingers have somehow tangle themselves. Sorry about that.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Do I Want for Christmas?

"What do you want for Christmas?", they keep asking me. Oh, I don't know ... how about a brand-new Lamborghini? OH! You know what! $1 million would be the bestest present in the world right now (I could pay for grammar lessons).

I don't say this to my yuletide inquisitors, of course. Mainly because they lack the means to fulfill my Christmas desires. So I respond pleasantly, "I'm good. As long as I have you in my life, all is well."

Yet, my sincere statement fails to satisfy any of them. When Christmas rolls around, I'll receive the usual gifts that I would never buy for myself: ties, socks, and plastic singing fish.

These well-intentioned goodies put me in the awkward position. I feel I now owe my generous Santas some small token to show my appreciation for the money that they wasted on me.

I don't need any tradition-based day to take care of my family and friends. When they need something vital to overcome a rough spot in their life, or they need something just let them know how important they are to me, I take care of them. I do this throughout the year - with or without them knowing their benefactor. Do I really need a special day to attend those who are special to me?

So. unless you have the means and desire to lavished me with some outrageously extravagant gift, without needing me to return the gesture - save your money. Spend it on yourself, or save up for a rainy day. The upcoming year will be filled lots of rainy days anyway. In any case, don't worry about me. Just give me a smile, your warmest hug, and your heartfelt love. We will be all right.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Less-Than-Happy Fairytale

For the past few weeks, I had done a great job fighting off emissions of those walking germ factories, as known as my friends and coworkers. I felt certain that I had finally won this tough battle of the bugs.

Then, I awoke this morning. Immediately, I learned that my friends had generously shared enough of their sickness for my life to become part of a fairy story. Dwarfs included.

I'm not happy as I type this. And I'm certainly not going to be bashful as I tell you that I woke up very grumpy and sneezy. Since doc wasn't available, I knew I would have to take medicine that would make me dopey and sleepy.

As I tried to get out of bed, I discovered an eighth member of this sickly story – achy. Let me tell you that he is one pain in the butt, shoulder, knee ... everywhere! And nothing dwarf-sized about the pain either.

For now, I am going to pull the bed covers over my head and wait for the "lived happily ever after" part to arrive. Until then, I have another battle on my hands. The way my stomach is acting up, it's going to be all that I can do to keep my underwear snow white.

Home, Sweet Car

As I left my home for my 55-mile commute to work, my car protested with random, gentle sputters. These sputters became increasing stronger and more prolonged the further I drove.

With each falter of the engine, my anxiety soared - what if I couldn't make it into work? What if I am urgently needed and I'm not available? Would I be fired? How much is this repair going to cost? Will I have enough money? Will I still have a job to pay for this overpriced repair?

As I arrived at my work’s parking lot, my faithful beast of burden violently lurched and spasmodically coughed to a climactic stop. At that point, the only thing still shaking was me as a carload of adrenaline and fear coursed through my body. I had made it, but just barely.

These little adventures have been happening on and off the past six months. Fortunately, I have AAA who has had to rescued me a couple of times now. And, once again, after yet another a tow back to civilization and much-needed repairs, my worries about my job and repair costs were greatly exaggerated over this most recent of adventures.

Still, perhaps I would be better off trading in my 300,000-mile car for a house-on-wheels. Today's recreational vehicles are pretty much a mobilized version of a furnished home. So, no matter where I get stranded, my broke-down vehicle instantly becomes a stocked kitchen, a furnished living room and a comfy bedroom as I waited for my trusty mechanic to begin necessary rv repairs.

In fact, I could save myself lots of time and money by parking my home-away-from-home in the parking lot of my employer. I could definitely sleep-in much later and still be able to dash to work at the last moment.

The only downside would be in not having the "inclement weather" excuse. "Sorry, boss, there's 2 feet of snow on the ground so I can't make it in." Not a problem though, with a little planning. I would only have to drive far enough away and maroon myself. "Sorry, boss. I can't make it into work today. I'm stuck in Hawaii."

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Time of Giving and Getting

Yesterday, after making a record $36 million this year, our powers-that-be spent $4000 and gave us, each one a valued employee, a $50 Wal-mart card as a Christmas/bonus. Surprisingly, some ungrateful workers had the nerve to complain about this generous gift.

You would think they would be grateful that there are only 80 of us instead of the 200 greedy souls that existed just a few years ago. Given the various "make the investors rich" decisions that our new owners have made during the year, would they have spent $10,000 instead of $4,000 on our gifts? Yeah, right. A snowball would have a better chance vacationing in the Bahamas unscathed. Besides, this show of generosity goes well beyond what our previous owners did in December.

The old owners owed this business until three years ago. During that time, they would play "lottery Christmas" with their employees. The president would put our names into a hat and draw 10 of them out. These lucky employees would get prizes ranging from clock radios to large screen TVs. You didn't even have to be present to win.

It was a wonderful event, provided you were among those lucky few winners. During the almost 20 years that I worked for the old company, my name never got called. In fact, there were several of us who had a better chance of being struck by a meteor. For whatever reason, Fortune repeatedly smiled on a handful who had their name chosen more than once across those years. I could only imagine that some of us didn't kiss Fortune's butt often enough.

Thankfully, when the new company took over, they put an end to this absurd celebration of Christmas. So, when our glorious overlords handed out gift cards this year, well, my ship of good fortune had finally arrived!

In fact, I am so happy that I don't care that the powers-that-be have given themselves bonuses of $10,000 each. That is my Christmas gift to them – 14 months of work for 12 months of pay. Happy holidays, y'all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seasons in Life

In few more weeks, it will be wintertime as the freshness and the growth of springtime either dies or goes into hiding. In a way, it feels like our relationship has entered its wintertime.

For seven years, we’ve talked about marriage. In this eighth year, we barely mentioned it. When I brought it up the other day, I already knew what you're going to say – both in my heart and in my head.

For several months, I’ve felt like a yo-yo. Not just any yo-yo. More like your yomega yoyo – brightly colored and special toy as I traveled up and down the string of your ever-changing moods.

I don't want you to think that your endearing toy is about to cut the string to end this unpredictable joyride of eight years. Right now, I am just at the end of what you're holding onto, lovingly spinning, yet contemplating whether to go on our separate stages of life or to emotionally hibernate until better times like our spring had been.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Year's Resolution

As I contemplate my upcoming New Year's resolution, I realize we go through this yearly ritual only because we want longer and happier lives. According the latest top 4 studies on longevity:
  1. Religious people live longer.
  2. People who own pets live longer.
  3. People who exercise 20 minutes a day live longer.
  4. People who have a drink or two each day live longer.

Unfortunate for me, "people who procrastinate" did not make the list. To put off dying then, we have to invest a lot of time out of each day.

Hold on! If I'm going to spend 5 minutes on any life-extending activity, my days better be lengthen by more than just 5 minutes. Otherwise, I can just as easily waste my precious time on more enjoyable tasks, such as improving my skills as a couch potato.

Yes, I know I may look better on the day of my demise by spending more quality time on, say, working out. Nevertheless, I've never heard of any archaeologist digging up a body and exclaiming, "Will you look at the abs on this guy! No wonder he lived a long time. He must have exercised at least 24 hours a day!"

So, in order to make every minute of my 2012 count, I will undertake the most effective New's Year resolution for living longer, based on the previously mentioned studies -- I will religiously let some animal walk me 20 minutes a day.

I'm sure many people will be doing the same thing. Don't worry, you'll be able to spot me very easily in this crowd of leashes and pooper-scoopers. I'll be the one wearing a beer hat.

Friday, December 09, 2011

What Are You Worth?

"Try not to become a man of success but rather a man of value." ~Albert Einstein

I tried to become a man of value. Sadly, no one on E-bay would buy me.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

So I took the challenge...

One of my favorite comedians challenged her readers of her Facebook wall to come up with a caption for the following picture. My take?

"Cocky boy caught smoking, claims "No harm, no fowl!"

Little Timmy tried many way to stop his cigarette addiction. Here, we see his latest failure: trying to stop smoking warm chicken. Later, he would find success during the winter months while visiting a turkey farm. Today, he is famously known for "quit smoking cold turkey." The nameless chicken in the picture received no credit or royalties and spent her remaining days referring to Timmy as a "mother plucking baste-terd."

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

bad combination of politics and the holidays

When you see the phrase "wireless outdoor speakers", what comes to mind? Given our current political season, how about an ideological politician in a packed stadium, giving a blustery speech about fighting for the rights of the citizens. Naturally, since this is before he or she has accepted any sizable contributions, this is, in essence, a “no strings attached" speaker – wireless.

Of course, given the holiday season that we are in, the less jaded amongst you are probably thinking about a set of audio speakers set in a little snowy landscape, playing Christmas music broadcast by a Bluetooth transmitter that is nestled inside, near a glowing fireplace. A warm, wonderful place where you should be if you could have gotten someone else to chop wood or shovel snow. Like Grandma.

With my luck, I would be stuck in between these two extremes -- out with the same state-of-the-art Bluetooth speakers in the wintry outdoors for some ridiculous reason, listening to a fertilizing speech from Nancy Pelosi. Why? Because that's what happens when you get on the "who's been naughty" list. And Grandma has control of the radio.

Monday, December 05, 2011

See, Ronnie run. Run, Ronnie, run!

Yesterday, my sister, who is about to reach that unmentionable half-century mark of age, crossed the finish line of the 26 mile marathon in 5 1/2 hours.

I mentioned this little tidbit proudly to a few of my friends who jog. Some run for reasons of health. A few race to catch the ice cream truck before it gets out of sight. Most of them are in their late 30s and early 40s. Naturally, they were impressed by my sister's accomplishment, especially since none of them have run any marathons.

Of course, they didn't want to appear to each other as slackers of the jogging world. When one person mentioned how he ran 5 miles the previous day, the rest chimed in with tales of two and six and 10 mile runs. They also chimed in with "I would have run more, but I have an injury I have to be careful of." Not excuses, of course. Some days you can't train as much when you have to get home to trim the cat's toe nails.

Their boasting finally quieted down as they stared at me, expecting to hear of my exercising exploits. The best I could do was, "Well, I hate to brag. I ran to the bathroom today! Four times! Three of which I made it there successfully. Not only did I not have to train, but, thanks to the medicine, I didn't feel the burn either!"

Now Hear This, Now Hear This!

I've been designing electronic circuits for a relatively short couple of decades. Yet, in terms of technology, that time span is like comparing a Stone-Age cart to a Toyota Prius.

Back in the day, I designed and built power amplifiers based on tube technology – controlling the spray of electrons with tiny wire mesh screens encased by glass. These amplifiers were the size of small suitcases that weighed as much as today's Prius. However, the music quality of these luggable amplifiers had such a richness. There's a reason why guitarists notched up their volumes to "11".

Shortly after that, the miracle of silicon chips arrived. My amplifiers shrunk to half their former size and only weighed as much as a spare tire in the Prius. Yet, in spite of this advancement in technology, audio purists complained that the sound quality lacked a certain warmth. They didn't like my suggestion that they should listen to their music while using a blow dryer near their ears.

Today, I built a digital power amplifier that is the size of a postage stamp and weighs as much as a Chiclet found on the floorboard of the Prius. Finally, the magic of miniaturization and Class-D amplification has brought us back to those days of glass-and-wire musical perfection. The sound quality will have the most ardent audiophile turning off their hairdryers and weeping tears of joy. The best news of all is that you don't need a Prius to enjoy it! ("It" being the sound quality, and not the weeping.)