As I've mentioned, I start a new job here in a week and a half. What's the first step for the new job? I must go to Boston for a week for training and such. Specifically, I'm headed to Needham, Massachusetts!
If it were up to me, Needham would be the pork capital of the USA. There'd be billboards from coast to coast that read, "Need ham? Needham!" and then it'd show a beautiful line of pigs in line in front of the ham factory. Unfortunately, it's not up to me and I don't know anything about Needham.
So, I have a question for the crowd: what do you do in Needham? If I have a car for the week, is it worth going up to Maine or Vermont? (I haven't been to those states. My rule for visiting a state is pretty lax, too; as long as I use the bathroom in a state, I count myself as having visited it. I've only been to a McDonald's in Mississippi, but I did hit the restroom so I mark that state off the list. If given a Big Gulp, I could conceivably cross off many, many states in a single night.)
It's been a while since I've recommended a TV show, and I happened to find two goodies this week. (Well, they could be tremendously stupid with only one good episode that I fortuitously happened to catch, but as some folks saw when I recommended Barbershop the tv show, that doesn't stop me from touting a program.) Anyway, the first good, very strange show is Code Monkeys on G4. If you enjoy the original NES and general geek humor, you ought to like this show. If you don't, well, I don't really care. Secondly, I caught a show on HDNet this afternoon called Sports Action Team. This appears to be a comedy improv show centering on sports, but I need to do some more research here. My diligent research shows this show is coming to NBC, so everyone will see it soon. Lots of good clips of Sports Action Team on YouTube, here's an enjoyable one.
Consider the following. After a lengthy downtime in the series, Sylvester Stallone recently revived the Rambo franchise with the cleverly titled Rambo. (There's a lot to enjoy on that IMDB page, but my favorite part is the Plot Keywords section where it says Rape / Graphic Violence / Tragic Hero. That's so Rambo.) I don't really know that I've ever seen a Rambo movie, but I get the idea that he's a mega-efficient killing machine without a great deal of personality.
Why did Stallone make another Rambo movie? I'm guessing it's because he thought the world needed it. At the same time that Rambo is back in theaters, there's another lone wolf in the news. Just like John Rambo, he has black hair, a love for efficiency and goal orientation, and he might not be the life of the party. I'm talking, of course, about Mitt Romney. The similarities are staggering, so much that I must ask: why on earth aren't we calling him Rombo?
In case you're not swayed by my argument, I happen to have a Goulash exclusive that may convince you. Check out the picture I happened to snag at a polling precinct in Florida tonight.
What's he shooting at? Fiscal irresponsibility!
Remember how, a few months back, I went to part-time status at work so that I could try a start-up with my friend Patrick? You may be wondering how that's going, and I am here with a status report. We're still being kinda secretive, and our work isn't quite ready for public consumption, but know this: it's a website and we're making our money off of advertising.
The most exciting news here is that... we've made a dollar. We didn't make any money at all in 2007 and we've already made $1.70 in January alone. That's roughly an infinite percent increase in revenue, and last time I checked, that's pretty good. According to my numbers, that one month increase of infinite percent ties for the largest percentage increase ever in the history of business. Yeah! Google, you have been warned!
Since we're making money off of ads, we tend to make tiny amounts of money each day. This led Patrick to remark that it's going to be a lot harder for us to frame our first dollar if it's composed entirely of change. Apparently Patrick has never heard of crazy glue.
The cool thing is, we're making progress. Each week, we manage to add a few more features, which is particularly impressive considering we're the two laziest bastards in the world. Hopefully in a week or two, we'll be ready to point lots of folks to our work. Internet, start thirsting for content!
(If you're really, really intrigued, just send me an email and I'll point you to the URL. I just don't want to do the big announcement yet.)
I did something big yesterday. How big? Well, imagine a day featuring the following events: your first kiss, graduation day, and getting mauled by a radioactive bobcat. Yesterday blew that out of the water. Essentially what happened was, I decided to switch to a different, but similar job a couple miles down the road for slightly more money. Is your mind blown?! Mine was.
I'd been working at the same place since I graduated college and moved to Austin 5 years ago. We had some good times, the job and I. I will treasure such memories as our back-to-back championship softball seasons, my victory in the chili cookoff, and that week when the roofers set some insulation on fire and the whole building smelled like a stinky butt.
Unfortunately, the past year was kinda tough. A lot of my friends left the company, they cancelled a project I'd worked on for a couple of years, and again, the roofers set some insulation on fire right above my office. (Were they trying to stink me out of my own office? We'll never know.) It's still a good company with lots of good folks, but at the start of the year, I decided it was time to see what else was out there.
The job search was actually pretty fun. The market for software developers in Austin is really good right now; I probably could've talked a few companies into providing permanent chaffeur service. I interviewed with some cool companies and, for whatever reason, I seemed to impress some people. Was it my know-how? Was it my dressy, but not too dressy, but kinda fun interview attire? Was it my request not to get paid ever for any work I might do? We'll never know.
The good thing about the job market being good is that I had some different offers to entertain, and I ended up accepting one with a start-up that's starting an Austin office. It's a cool company with some exciting prospects. My first day is February 11; I'll be spending that first week up in Boston doing some training, and then it's back to the 512.
To my new colleagues, I say prepare yourself for Cody Powell, professional bit baffler. To my soon-to-be-former colleagues, I say good times, guys, and watch out for the roofers.
I think I mentioned a while ago that I am highly allergic to fire ants. How allergic? When bitten, I turn into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and not even Dan Aykroyd can stop me then.
I was at the doctor's office earlier this week, and I happened to mention all of this to him. Now, I'm no doctor; I'm not even a podiatrist's assistant. Lots of people swell up and get itchy after getting bitten, so I just thought I had a particularly severe case of a common problem. Here, the doctor schooled me. He said that to avoid potential death (seriously), I need a fire ant response plan (also seriously).
My response plan has three steps. First, avoid fire ants. Second, if I can't avoid fire ants and I happen to get bitten, I need to inject myself in the thigh with a shot of adrenaline. Third, go to the hospital. If I'm too far away to make a hospital, I need to inject myself with a second shot of adrenaline in the thigh.
My response to all of this can be summed up in two words: holy crap. I was not ready for that conversation to get that intense that quickly. In roughly 30 seconds, I went from cracking jokes about fire ants to having to carry around two injections of adrenaline forever. The lesson? Never tell your doctor anything.
I actually don't think this is too much of a problem, since I've only gotten into fire ants twice in the past ten years. And on the bright side, I can now carry these injections with me all the time. They could be handy. If I see someone overdosing on heroin, I'll bring them back to life, just like in Pulp Fiction. If anyone tries to mug me, I'll just whip the shots out and claim I'm carrying a government super virus. And when the fire ants do come for me, I'll be ready to administer some needle justice.
Woooohoooo, we have a venue for the wedding! My leading candidate for a long time was the shuffleboard room of the local nursing home. It's got it all: walls, a fan, a shuffleboard table, even a notepad for recording shuffleboard scores. However, we learned that spilling any liquids on the aforementioned shuffleboard table would lead to us forfeiting our deposit. This wedding will be full of sloppy drunks, so no dice.
In the end, we went with another nice little joint: Becker Vineyards. It's about an hour away from our house, and Laura and I happened across it last summer when we were doing a wine tasting through the Hill Country. It's so cool, I'm not sure how we afforded it. I know Laura really wanted it, and I'm glad we were able to lock it up for the evening.
I think our team of coordinators also got the photographer and the wedding dress this weekend. They were very busy. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out the difference between a wedding ring and an engagement ring. (Hypothesis: Wedding rings are made of candy.) Based on everything we've done so far, it's going to be quite the wingding. That'll be due to many folks, but especially Laura's parents.
With an event of this magnitude, I am tempted to vow I'll be on my best behavior. I just think there's too much going on here to set the bar that high; it's going to be a busy, busy night and it will be at a winery, after all. How about this then? I vow that I won't do anything that results in an annulment the next day.
I can even extend that. Let's say Laura does something that would typically result in an annulment the next day; due to the whole wedding thing, I'll cut her some slack. As far as I'm concerned, no next day annulments in any situation. Even if I find out she's planning on harvesting my organs and selling me into sexual slavery, I'll stick it out for at least a day. It's a lot to promise, but I'm the type of guy who can deliver such a promise.
Remember a week ago when I said that Guitar Hero was a lot of fun for the Wii? Disregard that. That wasn't me who posted that. I believe it was a shape-shifter from another galaxy, temporarily taking on my form in order to lead earthlings onto paths of pain and despair.
Why the hate? I absolutely cannot beat Career Mode on the Hard level . In fact, I don't think anyone can do this. Some people claim they can, but I'd be careful around that lot; they're probably organ thieves. Don't drink anything they give you.
I blame all of this on one song: Raining Blood by Slayer. I'll admit to not being the world's biggest Slayer fan, but that song has consumed my life for the past three days. If I try any harder to beat that song, I'm going to have a seizure. It's not going to be a little seizure that people might giggle at if it were posted to YouTube, it'll be a full-on, hardcore, crazy seizure, where I bite off my tongue and pop my eyeballs out. Overreaction? I just failed the song after getting to 87% completion, so not exactly.
As I was typing this entry, I googled "Raining Blood" + Slayer + "Guitar Hero" + hard. You know what turned up? This wikipedia page, where some wise soul of the Internet wrote, "'Raining Blood' is a playable song in the Activision music video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, where it is renowned for being one of the hardest songs in the regular 'Career Mode' setlist, due to its very high tempo and notoriously devastating Mosh 1 section."
In the event anyone ever slaps a Needs Citation marker on that line, the Wikipedians of the world may cite this entry and the following sentence: the Mosh 1 section of Raining Blood is a notoriously devastating soul-killer, the bastard son of Freddy Kruger and Nancy Grace. If I don't beat it tonight, I'm selling my Wii and becoming a sherpa.
Ahhhhhh, the parade of responsibility continues! Laura and I are looking at moving from our trusty duplex into a real, honest-to-goodness, no-shared-walls house. Well, while she's occupied by wedding stuff, I'm actually doing most of the looking. And by looking, I mean glancing at a place and then saying, "They want how much?!" while hyperventilating.
In case you've never looked, houses == expensive. The only way to get a deal is to find a house in which someone was murdered, or a plot that's located above an Indian burial ground. Does anyone know of a real estate site where I can specify those as parameters in my searches? I've got to think there's a Google maps mash-up for this somewhere.
Pretty much anything besides a firebombed crackhouse costs a pretty penny in Austin. Not only is the typical house more money than I've ever seen before, but it's also probably more money than I've made throughout my lifetime. Despite this, I gather that banks will just lend me this money without it being too big a deal?
I still think the financing is a big joke. The real estate agent shows you any crappy, old house and then says, "So, you've now seen this lovely 900 square foot shed, perched on a cliff atop a buffalo-mating reserve. I think I could get you guys into this place for... uh, $200,000? Let's do $200,000."
And then the bank says, "You want $180,000 for a house? Why don't you just take $190,000? Just go to Portugal with the rest or something." It's collective insanity! This industry is winking and nodding its way to bankruptcy!
I'm already worked up and I've yet to speak to a real estate agent or a mortgage professional. The key to any negotiation is to get good and worked-up far, far in advance. That way, you immediately play your lunatic card and crazify your way to big savings.
As recently as last month, I had hobbies. I cooked, exercised, read, and to a lesser extent, sketched tasteful nudes of my neighbors without their knowledge and created Gmail accounts for all of my favorite Carebears. All of that changed after Christmas, thanks to a certain duo known as Mario Galaxy and Guitar Hero III, both for the Wii.
It is no exaggeration to say that I've gone completely nutso with both of those games. I can defend it, though: both games are awesome. In the case of Mario Galaxy, the game lets you shoot a little Italian man across outer space. It's like some insane opium dream of Leonardo da Vinci, but with better mustaches. There's more to the game than this (spin-attacking giant slug men, shooting mushrooms at your enemies, dancing on the ceiling a la Lionel Richie) but I just tolerate that stuff to get to parts where I can fling Mario around the solar system.
What about Guitar Hero? Well, I don't really need to defend that choice here. I know how to play the real guitar poorly, and playing Guitar Hero poorly is much more fun. Axel Rose isn't going to come over to my house and accompany me if I learn how to play Welcome to the Jungle on my guitar; he will do that in the game, and he'll keep singing until I figure the damn solo out. How am I doing on the game? Well, I've almost got all of the songs beat on Hard. That puts me roughly on the level of a retarded 11 year old.
If you drive by Powell Manor and you notice I'm flailing around the living room in a particularly interesting fashion, don't alert the authorities. It's just me and Mario, having a rock party.
I mentioned last entry that I got engaged. Did you happen to check the date on that entry? January fools! No no, I did actually get engaged, and I did it at Graceland.
My sister lives out in Little Rock now, and our plan for New Year's was to see her and perhaps swing over to Memphis (it's only 2 hours away). Our plan was to hit LR on December 30th, then get up the next morning and spend New Year's Eve in Soulsville, USA. The only complication is that, before we could head to Little Rock, I had to pick Laura up from the airport in Dallas. Enter stupid airline story!
I can only assume that Airtran hates romance. Her flight was originally slated to arrive at 4 PM, which would've left ample time to get to Little Rock. The dumb-dumbs at Airtran took one look at my face, realized I was scheming something, and attempted to ruin it all by pushing the flight back to 8 PM. Little Rock is 5 hours from Dallas, so leaving after her flight arrived was a little risky. It meant a lot of late-night driving, crazed trucker style. "Why don't we just wait until the morning?" Laura asked. To that, I replied, "To hell with you!" Why such anger? Dear reader, it's because I had a plan.
We ended up getting into Little Rock about 2 AM. It was not a pleasant drive, but I powered through thanks to copious amounts of beef jerky. (I really don't understand why truckers use meth when beef jerky is so effective.) The next morning at 7 AM, we were up and on the road to Memphis. You'd think that such an early start would have me alternating between bouts of sleepiness and rampant profanity. Hardly.
Some people aren't Elvis fans. This group includes Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il, and Toby Keith. I am not in this group, and as we touched into Memphis, I started going crazy for Graceland.
We got to Graceland so quickly, we had to wait around an hour or so while Haley's squire, Mr. Buck Nasty, looked around for a Bank of America. There was stuff to see in that time, like Elvis's airplane and an impressive collection of jumpsuits. That's pretty good stuff, but due to this conspicuous box-shaped bulge in my pants, I was a little distracted.
Buck Nasty finally met up with us and we started a tour of the Mansion. One interesting thing about Graceland is that the house itself is not all that huge. The Alamo is the same way; I was always a little disappointed when I saw it from the outside. The inside of Graceland is really impressive, though. Say what you will but Elvis, but the man had a jungle room with a waterfall in his house. King of rock n roll indeed.
Back to the bulge in my pants. You may be disappointed to know that the bulge was a box containing jewelry. In fact, it had an engagement ring and my grand scheme was to present it to Laura somewhere on the grounds of Graceland. It was a fine plan, but slightly complicated because a) all of the good places in Graceland are off limits for proposals and b) I didn't want to be surrounded by hillbillies and tour guides when I did the deed.
All through the tour, I was scouting for a place that was both interesting and quiet. That's not easy to find at the biggest tourist trap in the South. Still, I persevered.
I kept looking until the end of the tour and then, when it was our time to line up for the bus, I saw a good spot. Right in front of the Mansion, there's a little stone circle. I'm not sure what the circle is for; maybe it's where Elvis placed his telescope. When we came upon it originally, that area had been swarmed by tour buses. As we left though, it was empty.
I acted quickly, hopping the rope for the bus line and dragging Laura over there on the pretense of taking pictures. And there in that little stone circle, I asked the fateful question. She said yes, everybody celebrated, and that was that.
Now, a few words about the question itself. Man, that is the hardest thing I've ever had to say. You know how in the movies the dude always has some speech worked up when he proposes? I don't think that ever actually happens, because any human uttering that question is soiling himself. Well, maybe it's not so scary if you've discussed it with the lady in advance. I would never take that approach, though. Popping the question is one of the best times ever to really surprise the hell out of someone, and I think we should all capitalize on that opportunity.
After the tour, Haley and Buck busted out the bubbly.
Then we rocked New Year's in style.
Conclusion: I surprised her good.
Christmas and New Year's were a complete success. In the event you haven't heard yet, one Cody Wayne Maxwell Powell is now engaged to be married to a real, live lady. Her name is Chong Li and she's really excited to be coming to America.
Just kidding, of course. Laura and I are getting married, there's an okay story behind the whole thing (with pictures), and I'll post it all on Monday.