April 30, 2007

Interviews and Whatnot

Over the past few weeks, I've mentioned to some people that I was on the job market. Well, I will now publicly declare that is no longer the case. After a look around, my employers came to me with a counter-offer that I elected to take. Let this be a lesson: when I write code to protect oil pipelines, I don't stop until I'm fired. (I'd also stop if my fingers were to get maimed, but the first is more likely than the second.)

I'm glad to be staying. I like the people I work with, there's still some interesting work to be done, and I might die if I had to spend more than three minutes a day commuting. Interviewing confirmed some suspicions: yes, there are some good opportunities out there for people with my background. However, there are also a lot of companies out there who think, "What's your biggest weakness?" is a valid question.

Yes, I have major issues with that question. If I had a large, large weakness, such as alcoholism, kleptomania, or compulsive fornication, would I really admit that at such an early stage? I'd leave those discoveries for the background check. I did get asked that question, and I said my largest weakness was my inability to learn Mandarin. (I'm not sure what exactly that is, but it's probably not a weakness.) Coming in a close second: my inability to read.

I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I'm doing a session this weekend at the Austin .NET Users' Group Code Camp on Functional Programming in C#. What the hell is that? Who the hell gives a crap? Both questions shall be answered this Saturday from 3:00 - 4:15 PM at St. Edwards Professional Education Center.

Anyway, it should be fun. Even if it's not, I'll probably wet my pants in terror, which is a nice consolation prize. PS: it is free.

Posted by Cody at 8:59 PM

April 25, 2007

Softball Lessons

In all likelihood, tomorrow will be my last Novice League softball game for a while. As such, I've created a list of softball lessons to share with you.

1. Everybody messes up, so don't worry about it too much.

2. When someone else messes up, be sure to rub their face in it.

3. Hitting that big, slowly moving ball is as easy as it looks.

4. As a result of #3, you will swing way too hard and ground out to the pitcher on most at-bats.

5. Never slide into first base; that's for psychopaths.

6. If you have an open path, always slide into home. It just looks cool.

7. Cups are a good idea.

8. If you publicize the fact that you're wearing a cup, your chances of getting punched in the gonads skyrocket.

9. There's usually at least one jerk on the other team.

10. You are absolutely correct to give him an insulting nickname like Douchebutt, spread it amongst your teammates, and shout it at him while he's batting. He won't be able to hear you.

11. For some reason, everyone is obligated to call the umpire Blue. Play along.

12. Each time you get called out on the basepaths, argue a little louder. The first time, go with mild outrage: "No way, Blue!" The second time, get a little angrier: "Horsecrap, Blue! Horsecrap! Are you a horsecrap merchant?" And if you get called out a third time, fall to your knees, rip off your jersey, and scream, "NOOOOO!!" Eventually, the umpires will give in (seriously).

13. When you're playing in the field, try to keep the ball in front of you. If make a ridiculous dive for a ball and it gets behind you, it's a near-certain homerun.

14. At the same time, if you don't makes lots of crazy, low-percentage dives for balls, your teammates will start calling you Douchebutt and asking what time your ballet lesson starts.

Softball, we've had a good time.

Posted by Cody at 8:17 PM

April 24, 2007

The Fancy Scotch Lad

I just got back from a scotch tasting at the wonderful Grapevine Market. Any night in which I pay $15 to drink a lot of $150+ scotch is a winner, even if I have a hard time differentiating between good scotch and moonshine. (Well, that's not accurate. I know that good scotch has a fancy label, while moonshine has hillbilly scrawlin' on the bottle.) In any event, I enjoyed it and I look forward to a rash purchase of the 41 year old stuff when I plunge into despair after the Mavericks are eliminated from the playoffs in the first round.

As I alluded to, I'm not a big scotch connoisseur. With regards to most wine and liquor, I absolutely cannot tell the good stuff from the bad.

My lack of sophistication is not due to a lack of effort. I even got a big book on wine tasting, and I stuck it in the bathroom where I'd be sure to read it. The result is that I can tell you a lot about tannin, grapes, and Bordeaux, but I still only pick wines that are fit for hobos. I've been to two scotch tastings and yet tonight when I went to pick my favorite, I still picked the scotch that was $50 cheaper than the second cheapest. What's the cause of this?

It's entirely likely that I seared my taste buds off with two many Busch Lights in college. Or, behind this general ambivalence towards the good stuff, there's some sophisticated logic. Perhaps my subconscious says to itself, "Does this guy really need to spend $180 on a bottle of scotch?" while directing me over to the plastic bottle section. I think that'd be a true triumph for my brain, but the smart money is on the Busch Light idea.

Posted by Cody at 8:59 PM

April 23, 2007

Talking Genes

Danza did something that I really want to do. He participated in National Geographic's Genographic Project, which tells you, based on your DNA, where your distant ancestors are from. No surprise, all of his ancestors were from the Planet of the Apes. And not the good one either, but the crappy one with Marky Mark. Tough news to receive, dude.

I've always been told that the Powells were from the UK, and our pastiness, fondness for an alcoholic beverage or two, and love for interesting profanity certainly back that up. However, what I want to know is, where did we come from before that? Perhaps at Rome's zenith, there was a guy who looked just like me. Also like me, he would have a very difficult time remembering his Latin noun declesions. And maybe in Africa, at the very start of humanity, there was a Powell there. I can see him now, faking an asthma attack when it came time to slaughter the lion.

One thing that worries me about this technology is how far it could be taken. Is it possible that, given my DNA, someone could eventually tell me everything there is to know about my predecessors? I will say now that most of us would never want to know that information. Sure, a few folks would be related to Charlemagne and Marco Polo, but what about everybody who comes from Aloysius Puffyfeathers, slaveship proprietor and barnyard menace?

If someone did have that technology, they'd be smart to only guarantee it to 99% accuracy. Then, for every 99 actual relatives of yours, they could insert someone interesting, like Napoleon, Galileo, or Andre the Giant. Sometimes, genetics needs to be spiced up a bit.

Posted by Cody at 8:42 PM

April 18, 2007

The Tooth Lengthening

Man, things have been hectic over the past few days due to work. Fortunately for me, I get to spend all of tomorrow at a place that's a guaranteed good time: the periodontist's office. According to my understanding, a periodontist is a gum doctor. I'm hoping this understanding is incorrect, and it actually means 'laser tag arena'. Why my insurance would cover visits to the laser tag arena, I'm not sure, but I suspect it'd be because a firm understanding of laser-based war tactics would only lengthen my life.

The real reason I'm doing all of this is because I need a tooth lengthened. This brings the obvious question: why not shorten my gums, or perhaps magnify my skull? Why not replace my entire lower jaw with shark teeth while we're playing God? The answer, of course, is that I'd never swear to use my shark teeth for only good.

Like everybody else, my thoughts go out to all of the Hokies out there.

Posted by Cody at 8:47 PM

April 16, 2007

I Don't Want Your Steak

I think a good rule of thumb is to tread lightly around anyone with a neck tattoo. So, today when I was home for lunch and some neck-tattooed, bug-eyed lunatic pounded on my front door in an attempt to give me a free box of steaks, I was very polite.

Neck Tat Dude: Good afternoon sir, I'm in the area making a food delivery and we've ended up with an extra box of steaks. Would you like to take it?
Me, wide eyed with a terror and sensing a scam: What a cordial gesture! I commend you on your good citizenship. However, we're not interested.
NTD: Not interested in free steak?! You don't like steak? We have filets, porterhouses, prime rib...
Me, bracing for an ice pick to the neck: Wait, of course I'm interested in free steak! I just don't have any freezer room. Why not give it to a homeless shelter? Or take it yourself?
NTD: We're on a schedule, we can't lug it all the way down there. Why don't you just take it?
Me, searching for unconventional, yet believable excuse: Well, we're also vegetarians. (Note: right as I said this, I realized that I was eating a chicken burrito. Later inspection showed that no chicken was visible.)
NTD: You don't eat steak?
Me: No.
NTD: Fish?
Me: No.
NTD: Do you drink milk?
Me: Actually, yes.
NTD: So you're not a vegan?
Me: Correct, we're ovolactovegetarians.
NTD, furrowing his brow: I understand. Have a good one.
Me, for no good reason: Thanks, and good luck.

With Octopussy as my witness, that's almost exactly the way that the conversation occurred. He really caught me off guard with the vegan question, which is why I blurted out my fake ovolactovegetarianism. (I happen to work with someone who follows that diet so I was 50% sure I used that term correctly.) My big fear at that point was that he'd want to know more about ovolactovegetarianism and I'd have to make up a recipe for mozzarella and stewed beets.

Thankfully, he left the yard and went to bother the people next door. The old free box of steak scam? I'm not falling for that one again.

Posted by Cody at 8:44 PM

April 12, 2007

Talk Radio and Whatnot

Re: Don Imus. Why would anyone be surprised when a professional jackass makes a jackass of himself? Truth be told, I had no idea that Imus was still on the radio until a few months ago. I was at the gym late at night and they had one of the TVs turned onto MSNBC. There, I saw this mummified crankypuss wearing a cowboy hat, hunched over a microphone. "What the hell is this?" I wondered. It looked like the exact opposite of an infomercial, some sort of program where the ostensible goal was to make the viewer change channels as quickly as possible and never, ever come back. (I felt this passionately about the show, and the sound wasn't even on.) Well, it was Don Imus. At the very least, I'm glad he's gone so that I'll never have to worry about him stealing my soul through the television. Take that, Don Imus!

In general, I don't really like talk radio. I like NPR and I like Alex Jones's show, but that's because the first is news and the second is unadulterated craziness; I don't have time for anything in between those two.

Well, I'm lying. I have one other weakness and it's crazy right-wing radio. Boj taught me this strategy a long time ago. If you're ever making a long car trip late at night and you want to ensure that you stay awake, find yourself some crazy right-wing radio. By crazy, I don't mean Rush Limbaugh, I mean the uncle that David Duke disowned for his outrageous racism. It's hard to snooze when you're exclaiming, "Wow, this guy really hates him some Jewish people!"

In fact, that strategy works so well that I use it on my alarm clock each morning. The show I listen to isn't all that strange, but I listen for the callers. I've timed it so that each morning, I get about 5 minutes of friendly banter between the hosts, and then they take some calls. I like that, because by then, I'm just alert enough to lock all the doors and pray that none of those people live on my street. I don't even know how to describe what these callers are like. Maybe 25% of the time, they're reasonable, decent folk exhorting the listeners to support the troops or the President. The rest of the time, it's like they're reading from a Mel Gibson Mad-Libs book. Nothing like a little wide-eyed terror to get your lazy ass out of bed.

Posted by Cody at 5:48 PM

April 10, 2007

PBL, Professional Rogue

For nearly every day over the past 8 years, I've had the misfortune of seeing the same guy's ugly mug. He goes by many names (the Deuce, Juicebox, and the Duckbilled Paddypus), but a convenient shorthand name for him is Paddy. We were roommates in college, then we went to work for the same company, then he moved right down the street from me. He is clearly stalking me, but I never objected because I like the attention.

Stalker or not, we had a good thing going. Notice the past tense there; Paddy's last day at work was Friday, as he left for a better job offer. For the foreseeable future, my life is Lioi-less. I was thinking about this yesterday after work, trying to decide to whom in the office I'd start IMing puns. I would start with that, then build up to dissecting that week's episode of the Office, and finally I'd bring in my profanity-laced tirades about Visual Studio. If I chose the right person and proceeded slowly enough, I might eventually get a Paddy replacement.

I was thinking all of this over while in line at the grocery store, and I happened to look across the way to the checkout line next to me. Who was standing there? Of course, it was Paddy; much like women who live together, our time together must've synchronized our grocery cycles. Was it a coincidence, or is he just finding new and interesting ways to see me each day? My money's on the latter. Once a stalker, always a stalker.

Posted by Cody at 8:02 PM

April 9, 2007

Jobs and Graduation

Believe the hype, I'm back in business after Easter! I realize that the second part of that sentence doesn't really go with the first, but I've realized that I need to use the phrase "believe the hype" a lot more. Consider the following:

Believe the hype, Octopussy's lost 1/10 of a pound!

Believe the hype, I've switched from bar soap to body wash!

Believe the hype, skim milk ain't so bad!

If I say it enough, eventually there will be some hype. Somehow, I'll find a way to make money off of aforementioned hype, which will create yet more hype. Do you see where I'm headed with this? We're talking a complete and total takeover of the Internet, all of which I fomented with three little words. Believe that hype!

I shall now doff my cap to my sister, who secured her first real, post-collegiate job today. Come graduation, she's headed to the Prague of the South: Little Rock, AR. I'm excited that another family member will have steady employment, because it brings me that much closer to bumming off of that group for the rest of my life. Push for an immediate raise, and then send me a house key.

Haley graduates in May and she found her job in April. That's good timing; I didn't exactly swing that when I was in college. I graduated in May too, but then I didn't really pursue the whole employment thing that last semester or for a few/several weeks afterwards. Then, when the lease was about to run out and I had 3 or 4 days before I had to move in with my parents, I was suddenly infused with motivation. I'd think it over and then whisper with great determination, "A college graduate can't live with his parents!" Would I have taken a job as an apprentice manure spreader? It would've depended on the firm's reputation and their benefits package, but almost certainly yes.

Then, the day before I had to move, I locked up a good job that had absolutely nothing to do with animal waste. I have both a flair for the dramatic, and for finding non-excrement related jobs. Yes, this has been an odd post.

Posted by Cody at 10:06 PM

April 3, 2007

How I Almost Went Deaf and Will Forever Hate My Ears

The last two weeks have been pretty rough here in Powell Country. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to get killer ear infections in both ears at the same time. I could see that happening to a 6 year old who lives in a water park, but what about a 26 year old who takes brief showers? I haven't had an ear infection in ten years probably, and then I get two brutal bastards going at the same time. I don't know how I did this. One hypothesis is that Walgreen's is boxing up used q-tips from the truckstop and selling them as new. Another is that Laura fills a turkey baster with stagnant water each night and squirts it in each ear out of spite. I've installed security cameras in both the drug store and my bedroom; we shall know soon.

This is all very strange to me because I make a point to keep my ears very clean. I'm generally a fan of cleanliness, but it gets amplified when ears are involved. I suppose realize that I may not be athletic, handsome, or pleasant to be around, but at the very least, I can have clean ears. Now that's gone too, and that explains why I've been listening to a lot of Morrissey lately.

I said these things were bad and I meant it. At its nadir, I could hardly stand it. I could've been in a normal situation and someone would accidentally graze my head with their hands, making very gentle contact with an ear. I wish I could say that I flipped out and yelled obscenities while making stabbing motions with my keys towards the offender. It was so painful however, I couldn't do that. It was one of those things where all I could do was to close my eyes, open my mouth, and exhale very slowly, in an attempt not to wet my pants. Literally, each graze took a year off of my life. I should get cheaper prices at the movies due to this trauma.

Unlike a lot of guys, I have no problem whatsoever with going to the doctor when I feel the slightest bit of discomfort. Of course, I went for my ears and I've been carrying around some gigantic horse pills with me ever since. Good things come in large packages, and the ears are almost back to 100%. Does that mean I go back to Walgreen's q-tips? I say no; let's not risk anything.

Posted by Cody at 8:32 PM

April 2, 2007

Baseball Predictions

Woohoo, baseball season has begun! As part of my duties as world's biggest jackass, I am obligated to give my picks for the division winners.

AL East - Red Sox. It pains me to pick baseball's second leading source of evil, but it must be done.
AL Central - Tigers. They know that this year, if they don't win it all, Jim Leyland's sneaking into their cars and covering their floormats with tobacco spit.
AL West - Rangers. I'm an idiot. However, if Brandon McCarthy pitches well AND Hank Blalock gets his groove back AND Kenny Lofton doesn't have a stroke out in centerfield AND Sammy Sosa shares his primo stash with the rest of the team, we just may have something here.
AL Wild Card - Indians.

NL East - Mets. Consider this pick the lingering effect of my man-crush on Carlos Beltran.
NL Central - Brewers. Rather than give you a real reason, I'll give you a half-remembered quote from Moneyball. "Yes, it was true: Prince Fielder was actually too fat to play for the Oakland A's." Must I even say who my first baseman is on my fantasy team?
NL West - Padres. San Diego has a good pitching staff and some commendable fish tacos.
NL Wild Card - Phillies. Did you know that Ryan Howard's dad is a manager at IBM? Programmers unite!

Now that I look at these picks, I have no idea who'll win the World Series. In fact, I'm going to ride this hunch and predict that there won't be a World Series this year. It'll be cancelled due to...
Player strike? No.
Major international warfare? No.
Terrorist threats? No.
Unicorn attack? Probably. VERY probably.

Baseball is back and I'm feeling the fever. Let's go Rangers.

Posted by Cody at 8:11 PM