May 27, 2004

Credit Cards and Odd Excuses

I've never been in debt. Okay, that's not entirely true. Yes, I've been in the kind of debt where I had to make car payments, and I'm currently in the kind of debt that says I have to make house payments.

I've never been in credit card debt, however. Truth be told, I've never even owned a credit card. I don't trust them. I've been conditioned not to trust them thanks to many years of living with college roommates.

Most of my college roommates had this weird outlook on credit cards. Basically, they thought credit cards were magical pieces of plastic that just magically paid for things and that they were somehow immune from the the ensuing debt that came about due to excessive credit card spending.

I'll admit it: I was sort of jealous of my roommates and their magical credit cards. After all, they always seemed to have money and, if they didn't, they just whipped out their credit cards. Books? Put them on the credit card. Food? Put it on the credit card. Night out at a strip club? credit card.

And yet there I was writing checks and budgeting like a fool. I remember thinking that I was doing everything all wrong. I mean, there I would sit, meticulously lording over my finances, while my roommates went waltzing all over town swiping their credit cards with the careless glee of a six-year-old with a loaded pistol.

Then, one year, I was a roommate with a guy named Chad. Chad was actually a former high school classmate of mine. He was, and is, a tech-head. He's one of those guys who was born to know technology. Way back in elementary school, he taught me how to write simple programs for the Apple IIc, and he always just seemed to know everything about computers.

But he didn't know shit about personal finances. He whipped out any one of his many credit cards with the swiftness and ease of a Old West gunslinger. By the time we became roommates, he had already accrued over $10,000 in credit card debt.

I remember thinking what an incredibly large amount of money that seemed to be, especially when I factored in the understanding that he also received financial aid, and that he also worked. Granted, he worked at the local Brach's candy factory on the Gummi Bear line, which paid about as well as you might imagine, but it was still money, so I came to the conclusion that old Chad was a pretty carefree spender.

Well, one day, I popped into Chad's outrageously messy room where I noticed, tucked between two huge bags of pilfered defective Gummi Bears, a credit card notice that was slugged "Urgent!" and another that was slugged "Immediate Payment Required" and still another that read "We Break Fingers And Toes."

Then the calls started coming in, usually two or three a day. "Is Mr. Haugen available? We really need to speak with him." No, he's not here. "Are you sure you're not really Mr. Haugen?" Yes, I'm sure. "Well, when he comes in, have him call Mike at Discover immediately." *sound of shotgun cocking* Will do.

Chad was masterful when it came to avoiding creditors. He always seemed to leave the apartment just two or three minutes before a creditor called. It was like he had some sort of sixth sense. Which was all fine and dandy, except that I ended up being the intermediary between Chad and the creditors, so I got to absorb all the impatient anger and suspicion of basically every credit card company on the planet.

It was the day a creditor appeared, in person, at our doorstep that I realized Chad's debt situation was probably more dire than Chad cared to admit. There was a knock at the door, I answered, and a gentleman in a suit that looked both impressive and threatening stood before me. He asked to see a Mr. Chad Haugen, at which point I heard a little scuffling emanating from Chad's room as Chad scurried out the back entrance which, conveniently, was located at the far end of his bedroom.

We chatted together, the ominous creditor and me, for about an hour, waiting for Chad to get home, even though, of course, there was no way in holy hell Chad was going to make an appearance while that guy was in our apartment. I even had to produce my ID, so the creditor was satisfied that I wasn't, in fact, Chad Haugen.

After that, I believe, Chad ended up getting a loan from his parents, or somebody, so he could pay off his credit card debt at least enough to keep the creditors at bay. He eventually got a job working at IBM, which was a long-assed commute from Winona to Rochester, but paid a whole lot more than the Gummi Bear line.

As for me, Chad's experience with credit cards pretty much scared me away from plastic for good.

Posted by Ryan at 12:49 PM | Comments (10)

May 26, 2004

Memories (again)

Ah, that good old day. (Thanks Jim. Me much dumb. Jim, not so much.)


Posted by Ryan at 12:39 PM | Comments (4)


So, I went and bought Unreal Tournament 2004 last weekend. It's your typical first person shooter, one of those games that would have Maude Flanders dropping to her knees and screaming "Would somebody please think of the children!!" (or is that Lovejoy's wife who always does that? I simply MUST brush up on my Simpsons).

Basically, Unreal Tournament is like this: you run around, you pick up an arsenal of totally foolish but super-cool weapons, you shoot at people, you die, you respawn. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It's astounding to realize how far computer games have come in just about six years. My first PC that wan't a Mac was a Compaq Presario, which featured a massive (for its time) 4.3 GB hard drive and a screaming fast (for its time) 200 MHz processor. That computer was top o' the line back in 1997.

Unreal Tournament 2004, by comparison, requires a 1.4 GHz processor, and takes up 5.5 GB of hard drive space. My old Compaq couldn't even consider thinking about possibly even installing UT 2004.

Like I said, there are no doubt foks out in the world today who would hear the premise behind UT 2004 (basically, kill everyone) and they'd rant and rave that it's games like UT 2004 that are behind school shootings, a decline in moral values, the Iraq war, big tobacco, and bad breath.

Phooey on those people. Phooey, I say.

Look. I mean, just look at the time-honored board games like Monopoly (premise: make everyone go bankrupt and stand triumphantly on the backs of the poor), or Risk (premise: pretty much like Monopoly, except with a war theme), or Stratego (premise: checkers, except with a war theme).

But, even beyond that, I'm convinced that those people who decry video games like UT 2004 have never actually played the games and experienced the absolute ridiculousness of the experience.

In UT 2004, the most wimpy weapon you can have is pretty much an M-16 with a grenade launcher. That's the most WIMPY gun you can have. It's the gun they start you out with, and it has about as much effect on enemy players as a mosquito with a dull proboscis. The weapons increase in size and craziness, all the way up to gigantic rocket launchers that are innacurate as all hell, but if you hit the target, there's a 20 percent chance they'll atomize (provided their health level is low enough). Yep, in UT 2004, you can get hit with a salvo of exploding rockets, and there's a very real possibility you'll live through the experience, at the expense of most of your health, of course.

My point, of course, is that first person shooters are so ridiculous and fanciful, and so removed from reality, it's virtually impossible for them to be taken seriously.

Imagine, if you will, the following boot camp scenario:

DRILL SERGEANT: Listen up you maggots! You will now learn to fire your standard issue M-16 assault rifle. Learn to love this rifle, men, for it will be your life protector!

RECRUIT: Excuse me, sir. . .

DRILL SERGEANT: What is it, dog-breath!?

RECRUIT: Well, sir, it's just that, I don't know, doesn't this gun seem a little bit wimpy to you?

DRILL SERGEANT: That, you little puke, is a rifle! It is not a GUN!

RECRUIT: Whatever. Listen, I'm just a little concerned that you're equipping us with less-than-effective weaponry here.

DRILL SERGEANT: What in the hell are you talking about, Alpo brains!? The M-16 assault rifle is lethal to a range exceeding 100 yards! It has been proudly carried into battle spanning the last four decades! How in the name of holy hell can you call it wimpy!?

RECRUIT: Well, jeez, man, couldn't you at least start us out with a bio-rifle, or maybe a chain gun?

DRILL SERGEANT: *blank stare*

RECRUIT: I mean, this gun, sorry, RIFLE, here would only really do any significant damage if it had a grenade launcher attached, which this clearly doesn't. I think we should at least have the option of selecting a link gun or even a sniper rifle so I can try for a head shot. I didn't even see a translocator in the gear I was issued.

DRILL SERGEANT: Drop and give me as many push-ups as it takes for you to start making sense, you pathetic hermaphroditic tree frog!!

When I step away from a bout of UT 2004, I don't have some urge to load up my SKS and pick off people walking by, just as when I was 12 years old, playing Ninja Gaiden on my Nintendo I didn't come away from the experience wanting to go all samurai sword on my brother, just as, many year priors to that, playing Combat on my Atari, I didn't feel the need afterwards to crawl into a tank and shoot things.

If anything, I find myself envying some of the kids today. Last night, while playing UT 2004, I was basically annihilated by a bunch of kids ranging in age from nine to 18. I mean, they wiped me out over and over and over again, the damned whipper-snappers, and yet I found myself wishing I could be that quick and accurate.

And, after each frag-fest, most of the kids would right "gg" on the screen, meaning "Good Game." It's a game. They know it's a game.

Are there kids out there who may take silly games like UT 2004 too seriously, and it alters their sense of reality? Perhaps. But, there's more than likely some sort of psychological disorder operating under the radar to make that possible.

That being said, I have to say, head shots are really freakin' cool!

Posted by Ryan at 11:24 AM | Comments (6)

May 24, 2004

A place to call home - In triplicate

Well, if you read this post, you've probably been wondering how the house updating has been coming along.

Melissa and I have come a long way, even though we fight almost every second on what looks good and what looks bad. I usually concede to her, because, really, what the heck do I know?

Judging by the last update, the picture was of the living room. Here's what it looks like now:

living room.JPG

As for the dining room, it once looked like this. It now looks like this. Granted, the chandelier still has to go, but it still looks better.

Nothing has been done with the kitchen, because that's expensive as hell, but Melissa put contact paper down in all the shelves, and I discovered that the 4, 5 and 6 buttons on the microwave don't work any more, which makes for some creative heating machinations on my part.

On to the bedroom, which once looked like this, but now looks like this:


And now for the PINK ROOM, which isn't pink any more:


No, it's not pink any more:


Oh, and just to make my point:


You may be wondering where I've been actually LIVING as all of this transformation has been going on. Well, what once was this, is now this. So, I'm Spartan, and so is Mel.


Posted by Ryan at 11:57 PM | Comments (9)

May 21, 2004


My girlfriend comes from a deeply religious background, and I mean deeply religious. I don't know what it is with me and dating women with deeply religious backgrounds, but it seems to be a trend. I think God may be sending these women my way because He know I need constant reminders that I'm kind of a loose cannon when it comes to religious belief.

Melissa's mother is so Protestant it should almost be illegal. If I had to imagine her having sex, I'm sure the scene would play out with her not enjoying herself in the least while doing her best to concentrate on the Bible on the shelf. She's a nice woman, overall, but she has no dreams or aspirations for herself. She's just living on autopilot, ignorant about so much stuff it's actually depressing.

Of course, Melissa's mom has a difficult time reconciling with the fact she married a man who, after three kids, decided he was, in fact, gay. It's fascinating to watch them together, really, during family gatherings. On the one hand, you have the mother, who lives life so tight and controlled and by the Bible, you'd think the mere suggestion of a naked person would make her head explode, while over there with old dad you have a guy who hosts pool parties on the weekends with many several men who get together to do things that would no doubt make Elton John blush.

Well, anyway, I'm getting off topic here.

Thanks to Melissa's ultra-Protestant mother, Mel was brought up in ultra-Protestant surrounding, right down to the ultra-Protestant school she went to that featured a class size of four, count them FOUR, students. Melissa endured this ultra-Protestant educational environment all the way up to her freshman year, at which point she was introduced to the reality of large public schools.

Now, I have no problem with teaching the Bible. I love the Bible. I have my own Bible. I spend a lot of time pondering religion and my place in it. It can be a mind-bending exercise to try and fit my knowledge of the world within the confines of my admittedly nebulous religious belief structure.

However, I do have a problem with teaching the Bible and only the Bible, which was what Melissa was taught during all of her most formative years. She's a smart girl. She attends interior design classes at the University of Minnesota and she routinely gets As and Bs. She took a logic class just last semester and breezed her way to a B. She's smart as a whip.

But, damnit, she can be so ignorant sometimes.

As a classic example, last weekend we were driving around Rochester, coming back from what has become a routine trip to Menards, and I started talking about evolution. The conversation started, I think, when I mentioned that the glaciers that dominated most of Minnesota during the last ice age missed much of Southeastern Minnesota, hence the hills and valleys. Then I mentioned that most of Minnesota, after the glaciers, was a lake that eventually gave way to the 10,000+ lakes of today. And then I went way far back and started talking about fossils. Yeah, I'm a boring fucker like that. Anyway, the talk about fossils eventually got me talking about evolution and how it's believed that all life started in the premordial soup of the ancient oceans.

"I don't believe that," said Mel, matter-of-factly.

"Oh, right. I suppose you believe in Creationism," I said.

"No, it's not that. Well, it's kinda that. I don't believe in strict Creationism. I mean, I believe that God created the world in seven days, but I think, to God, a day could be a million years or more," she explained, and I was surprised to hear her say it.

"Ah, The Scopes Monkey Trial reasoning," I said.


"Never mind."

"I think Creationism can fit pretty nicely alongside evolution," she said.

"I totally agree."

"But," she continued. "I don't believe that all life originated in the sea and I don't believe man evolved from monkies."

"Well, how do you explain why our cells have the same salt or saline content as the oceans?"


"fucking coincidence?"

"No, just coincidence."

"Argh! Okay, well, how do you explain pre-hominid fossilized skulls going back millions of years?" I asked, changing the subject.

"What's a pre-hominid?"

"Pre-human. How do you explain all the fossilized skulls and bones that clearly point to an evolutionary development to moden day human?"

"Oh. Well, they were monkies."


"Well, they weren't humans, right?"

"Well, no, they weren't, but they were becoming humans," I said, thinking I was pointing out the obvious.

"But, they weren't humans. We're humans. They weren't. That seems pretty simple."

"But they became humans!"

"No they didn't. I don't see any evidence for that. You're talking about monkey skulls that clearly didn't have the brain capacity we do."


"Well, isn't that just fucking convenient?"

"ARGH! Look, do you think human beings are going to look like we do in, say, eight million years? I mean, provided we don't eradicate ourselves tomorrow in a nuclear holocaust. Seriously, what do you think you'll be in eight million years?"

Looking disinterestedly out the window, she answered:

"A very incredibly dead interior designer."

Posted by Ryan at 10:37 AM | Comments (21)

May 20, 2004

Homer, The Media, And Iraq


Media: Absorb this information on Iraq, but beware that you may not be getting the whole story.

Homer: Ooh, that's bad.

Media: But our stated purpose is to inform people.

Homer: That's good!

Media: The Iraq war has disolved into an ominous quagmire with no apparent exit strategy.

Homer: That's bad.

Media: But Saddam and his torturous, oppressive regime and the Ba'ath party have been deposed.

Homer: That's good!

Media: But no weapons of mass destruction have been found.

Homer: That's bad.

Media: But Iraq is acting as a theater that attracts terrorists and keeps them from threatening U.S. soil and has resulted in a decrease in terrorism worldwide.

Homer: That's good!

Media: But U.S. soldiers have been abusing prisoners.

Homer: That's bad.

Media: But U.S. soldiers and contractors have been rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure, including schools and water treatment plants across the country.

Homer: That's good!

Media: But the religious tensions between Shia and Sunni Moslems has given rise to a radical cleric named al Sadr who encourages anti-U.S. uprisings in such places as Falluja.

Homer: That's bad.

Media: But most of the country is moving on peacefully and embracing the post-Saddam environment.

Homer: That's good!

Media: But this is an election year, with the presidency on the line, so everything you read will be slanted more and more towards opposing political viewpoints and the personal opinions and agendas of those of us in the media will continue to color the tone and message of supposed news and Iraq will become even more of a political football.

Homer: . . .

Media: That's bad.

Homer: Can I go now?

Posted by Ryan at 11:19 AM | Comments (3)

May 19, 2004

YEAAARGH!! *meow*

Yeah, I know Dean's all finished, but I just saw this in the The Fabulous Mint 400 archives and I laughed out loud:


Shit but that's funny!

Posted by Ryan at 03:43 PM | Comments (6)


Am I the only person who keeps getting these e-mails about Forex trading, or are you constantly cleaning your site comment threads thanks to Forex trading spam bots? Do you even know what Forex trading is? Is it some form of activity wherein you swap your ex- with someone else's ex-? Forex trading! Start dating somebody else's ex- today! For you! Forex! For everyone! Forex forever! Or something.

So, anyway, seeing as how my e-mail is practically choked with Forex trading offers, and my comment engine is being spammed out of existence with Forex trading links, I figured I should maybe learn something about this mysterious force known as Forex and Forex trading. To Wikipedia!

The foreign exchange (currency or Forex or FX) market exists wherever one currency is traded for another. It is by far the largest financial market in the world, and includes trading between large banks, central banks, currency speculators, multinational corporations, governments, and other financial markets and institutions. The average daily trade in the global forex and related markets currently is over US$ 3 trillion.

Ohhhhh, so Forex trading has to do with money. It all makes perfect sense, now. Okay, no it doesn't, but now I'm simply fascinated by Forex, which would make a great name for a children's book: "Fascinated by Forex."

But, seriously, that does explain why e-mail and comment spammers are so prolific about sending out Forex trading information. There's money to be made. Interesting. What else does wiki have to say?

Unlike a stock market, where all participants have access to the same prices, the Forex market is divided into levels of access. At the top is the inter-bank market, which is made up of the largest investment banking firms. Within the inter-bank market, spreads, which are the difference between the bid and ask prices, are razor sharp and usually unavailable, and not known to players outside the inner circle.

Okay, now I'm just getting bored with Forex. Forex trading has now run its full cycle and gone from Forex Fascination to Forex boredom. What's next? Forex suicide? I don't want to go there. That just sounds Forex awful.

So, anyway, yeah, Forex trading and the Forex market. Not something I'm all that interested in, so please, Forex">Forex spammers, please stop with all the Forex stuff, mmkay? I won't be Forex trading any time soon. I have no Forex plans. The Forex market is not something I want to explore further. Forex is not for me.

Forex. . . out.

Posted by Ryan at 02:09 PM | Comments (2)

May 18, 2004

Cable Woes

When I left the house this morning, two Charter technicians were trying to drill a hole in my wall, with a drill bit big enough to give a brontosaurus a tooth canal. I couldn't watch.

This was the third day I've had cable folks milling around my house. They come in, they poke around, and then they leave, telling me they need more time and tools to get cable up and running in my home. I'm thinking of making a bedroom for them, so they can rest up between their periods of accomplishing nothing.

The first day they arrived, Thursday last week, a solitary individual entered the house and, after 15 minutes, announced that my house was not up to code to allow cable. My home needed much updating before cable could be snaked through its innards. No problem. It would cost me nothing to have this done.

Unfortunately, the original cable guy was in no way prepared to do the job. Instead, he set up a time on Monday for two top of the line crack cable technicians (or was it two cable technicians on top of the line crack) to arrive and update my home. From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. they labored, and then they announced they would have to come back the next day (today) because they didn't have the necessary tools on hand to complete their work. How could they not have the necessary tools on hand? There were two freakin' vans parked outside! What? Were they empty!!?

So, they assured me they would be at my house at 8 a.m. sharp, and that the work would only take an hour. At 8:50 a.m., they pulled up outside, and once again they entered the house as if it was an alien environment to them. I had to provide a flashlight, which you would think they'd at least have on hand, but no.

I sit here now, with the vision of two cable technicians randomly drilling holes in my freshly painted walls, waiting for one of them to call so I can leave work and inspect whatever it is they've done to my home.

You'd think cable installation would have improved somewhat in the past 30 years or so. You'd think.

Posted by Ryan at 10:08 AM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2004


Saw the movie Troy Saturday night and, man, what a wild fun ride that flick was. It was also incredibly depressing at times but, wow. . . just. . . wow.

I'm a sucker for Greek mythology, and I've read the Iliad and Odyssey several times each and, yeah, the movie condences the Iliad down considerably and plays with the story line and basically gives it the usual Hollywood treatment that no doubt would have Homer spinning in Hades.


I didn't expect great acting, but, you know what? The acting was great. Peter O'Toole, obviously, was great. But, so was Brad Pitt, and so was everyone, really. And, the woman chosen to play Helen of Troy? Grroowwwlll! The movie, I think, would have suffered immesurably if the likes of Julia Roberts had been selected to play Helen.

But, it was the power of some of the scenes that struck me the most. This was not some sort of hack and slash glorification of an ancient war. Troy brought a level of humanity to the epic tale that I really didn't expect. When Hector said goodbye to his wife and child and father, knowing full well he was going to be overmatched by a blindingly angry Achilles, that was tough to watch. Follow that up with an incredible fight between Hector and Achilles, in which Achilles proves to be one badass Greek creation, even though he had proven it many times previously in the movie.

It was the scene between Priam and Achilles, with Priam begging for the body of his son that pretty much choked me right up. That was some powerful cinematic shit right there.

I'm not a movie critic, so this, in retrospect, reads pretty lame, but I've been thinking about the movie ever since I watched it, and I'm not sure why. The last time a movie left a impression like that on me was Schindler's List.

Posted by Ryan at 11:09 AM | Comments (10)

May 14, 2004

My Thinker Hurts

Ryan's brain, yes his thinker, is fresh out of thinks
He can't think with his thinker, and that really just stinks

He was thinking just this morning, but his thinking's suspended
He puts a lot of faith in his thinker, and on it he's always depended

And yet now, his poor thinker, well, it can think no bit more.
And when he tries to do thinking, his thinker gets sore.

He should just buy some Smirnoff, and drink till he thinks
But he makes little sense when he thinks while he drinks.

If he thinks while he drinks, he'll just drink and get drunker
And at some point during the drinking, his thinker won't thunker.

So, no, there'll be no drinking in his pursuit of more thinks
Smirnoff would work against thinking, and be more of a jinx.

Ryan hopes that his thinker will soon please reactivate
Until then he'll just have to sit back and masturbate.

Posted by Ryan at 01:46 PM | Comments (3)

May 13, 2004

Beheading Blog Phenomenon

Yesterday I had well over 800 visits to this site, an astounding number for my pathetic little corner of the blogosphere. Granted, most of the visits came from people looking for information about, or possibly footage of, the beheading of Nick Berg in Iraq.

Pessimistic guy that I am at times, I was thinking that people were doing the search to fill some sort of lust for a cheap thrill at watching something so completely gruesome.

This post, by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, thinks the huge upswing in page views (he tallied over 200,000 views) by people looking for information on the beheading may, in fact, indicate a shift in how rational people get their news rather than listening to the gospel of the Big Media. Is he right? Who knows. I certainly hope so.

Posted by Ryan at 04:54 PM | Comments (2)

Biased, Or. . .

Mitch Berg, over at Shot In The Dark, had a recent post that touched on the topic of media bias or, more specifically, liberal media bias and liberal agendas.

I don't necessarily discount the existence of liberal bias in the media. After all, some of the recurring themes in the media today, such as abortion rights, gun control and environmental issues all have a decidedly liberal slant. Print and television broadcast media, I think, tilt more towards liberal idealogy, while talk radio leans more to the conservative side.

This is just my own 29-year-old, basically know-nothing mind working here; I have no facts and figures to back up these assertions, but from where I sit, they seem to ring true. I mean, if all the media is truly controlled by a liberal agenda, it would seem counterintuitive that three of the last four presidents have been basically conservative Republicans. So, although I don't disagree that liberal media bias exists, I don't think it's as pervasive or, for that matter, influential, as some people might think.

As I mentioned on Mitch Berg's site, I don't think it's liberal bias that sets the tone so much as it is an unspoken media agenda to displace whoever sits in the White House. I wrote, in response to an individual, Flash, who maintained that the media tends to favor the party in power:

Flash, I have to call "bullcrap" on you, not so much on your assertion that the media is conservatively biased (I think there's bias represented on both sides relatively equally), but on your claim that the media tends to lean toward the party in power. That's wrong. Bzzzzt, wrong answer! Prior to Nixon's Watergate, that may have been the case, and certainly Kennedy's Camelot was adored by the media despite extraordinary failings in the man both personally and politically. However, ever since Watergate and Woodward & Bernstein, the wary and allergically suspicious media has switched gears and they work around the clock to bring down whoever may be sitting in the White House, and it doesn't matter which party is in office. From Iran-Contra, to "No New taxes," to BJs in the Oval Office, to an "illegitimate" war, the media believes it has a duty to take down the sitting Prez. It's engrained in their thinking.

Unless you've been living under a rock, with your fingers in your ears, on the far side of Mars, you'd know that the media hasn't given Bush a "pass" on ANYTHING. It's the reading public that gives Bush a pass, which irritates the media something fierce. Each new poll that comes out that has Bush tied or leading Kerry leaves the talking heads in the Big Media nonplussed.

Just watch, if Kerry takes office, his seat won't be lukewarm before the media starts working to bring about impeachment on the man. Such is the legacy of Nixon.

The Nixon presidency forever changed the media mindset. Since Nixon, the media has veiwed those in power, rightly or wrongly, with extreme suspicion. As far as the media is concerned, a sitting president is guilty of something, anything, until proven innocent, at which point the president will be assumed to be guilty of something, anything, else.

I don't have the newsroom experience of Mitch Berg or James Lileks. I've only worked in two newspaper newsrooms, The Winona Daily News and The Stewartville Star, both of which pale in comparison to metro dailies, and my current job as news editor for a bunch of IBM magazines can hardly be considered newsroom experience. Still, one anecdote comes to mind that I think augments my point pretty well.

Back in the halcyon days of 1998, while working as a reporter for the Winona Daily News, at the phenomenal rate of $6 an hour, the newsroom was abuzz because then President Clinton was about to admit to the nation that he did indeed have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. Every television was tuned in to the event.

I remember it thusly: the cameras apparently came on nanoseconds before Clinton was ready, I think, and you caught a glimpse of the man taking a deep, uncertain breath, knowing full well he was about to make a statement that would basically fly in the face of everything he told the American public previously. I remember feeling just a little bad for the guy. I mean, there he was, being called on the carpet to admit he had sex with a fat chick. Got caught, damnit. I could relate. At 23 years old, that sounded like a typical weekend.

"Oh man! He's scared! He knows he's screwed!"

That came from one of the senior reporters crowded around the TV. He sounded giddy, almost truimphant. And the others gathered around twittered in agreement. That's when I realized that they all pretty much wanted the guy to fall, for no other real apparent reason but because he was the sitting president.

So, no, the media does not tend to skew in favor of the party in power. The media is suspicious of power in all its forms, except for the power of the media. Which is ironic, because I somtimes think the media is the most powerful entity on the planet and I think, at times, that the media needs its own suspicious media to hound them and keep their power in check.

And I think that's where bloggers come in.

Posted by Ryan at 10:45 AM | Comments (15)

May 12, 2004

Heads Will Roll

Holy crap on a popsicle stick! I've had over 300 page visits to this site during this morning alone, with 95 percent of the visits coming from Google searches looking for permutations on "beheading+in+Iraq."

I'm not sure if the visitors are coming here looking for news about the beheading, or if they're hoping to see the video itself. What I do know is that you'll never, never, EVER see me link to any such video, and if you're coming here hoping to view it, may I suggest you take a flying leap. Sick bastards.



ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, it's not all bad. At least one person came by looking for "socks+and+jocks+masturbation" and another person dropped by searching for I+sweat+a+lot+on+my+butt," so maybe the world is still in balance after all.

Also, searches for a list of female celebrities:

Paris Hilton. Lindsay Lohan. Leah Remini. Jennifer Garner. Angelina Jolie. Cameron Diaz. Uma Thurman. Britney Spears. Shakira. Nude. Lindsay Lohan. Jennifer Lopez. Mischa Barton. Paris Hilton. Lindsay Lohan. Leah Remini. Jennifer Garner. Angelina Jolie. Cameron Diaz. Uma Thurman. Britney Spears. Shakira. Leah Remini. Jennifer Lopez. Mischa Barton.

Posted by Ryan at 10:42 AM | Comments (11)

May 11, 2004

Good Point

If abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers demands an accounting, so too does the world-wide conspiracy of bribery that helped prop up Saddam Hussein's torture-based regime. Now's hardly the time for the White House to be seen demanding anything less than full openness and accountability in any area of its Iraq policy.

Posted by Ryan at 11:18 AM | Comments (4)

Joshua's Gonna Hate Me For This, But. . .

If you've read this site at all within the past year or so, you know that I occasionally (by which I mean, all the damned time), end up mixing it up with one Joshua Norton, who I respect the hell out of but disagree with even more.

Anyway, what's always bothered me was that I had no mental visual image of Joshua, beyond thinking of him as a lumbering hulk of a man who could probably squash me with his thumb and forefinger.

But, gradually, I started thinking of him more and more in geeky terms. Lately, for some strange but entirely hysterical reason, I've been reading his site and his comments through a voice in my head that's high-pitched, whiney, and just a little bit nasal. I found that, by doing this, I could better absord his acerbic commentary. However, even though the voice in my head was extremely familiar, I couldn't figure out why. Until today, just now.

Combined with Joshua's own description of himself. . .

Kind of more of an Eric Bana / George Clooney combo (or so I've been told)-- except with glasses. And 6'4"

. . . along with the cartoon image of himself on the Noematic main page. . .

. . . along with the conjured voice within my head, it came to me who Joshua reminds me of. He's the Encyclopedia Britannica Boy!


If you don't remember the Britannica Boy, be sure to thank your lucky stars each and every day.

(with sincerest apologies to Joshua Norton, who could no doubt squash my head with his thumb and forefinger)

Posted by Ryan at 11:01 AM | Comments (8)

May 10, 2004

weather Reports

Heh. The local newspaper for Rochester, Minn., is the Rochester Post-Bulletin, and it's a newspaper that thinks quite highly of itself, or at least the newspaper staff thinks quite highly of itself. I imagine the actual newspaper doesn't do much thinking at all.

I get a kick out of the P-B, or at least its local reporting. Some of the stuff they pass off as groundbreaking, front-page news is laughable to the core. Granted, I took it in the shorts quite awhile back when I wrote in complaining that they dedicated front page space to a story about a cat that had been set on fire. Boy, did I catch all holy hell for that one. Oops.

Anyway, their latest gem is an article, no doubt front page stuff, about the big thunderstorm we had last night. For sheer entertainment, it's tough to top a news article about weather that went through the night or day before. It lacks the immediacy of on-the-spot broadcast reporting, which features nutball reporters standing outside in blustery, dangerous conditions, telling the viewers it's a bad idea to stand outside in blustery, dangerous conditions. But, after-the-fact print stories are jam-packed with useful information you may have missed.

Since you have to have a password to read the article, I'll just paste in sections right here for your convenience.

Storms usher in hail and tornadoes

Monday, May 10, 2004

From staff and news service reports

A rapidly developing storm system spawned tornadoes, funnel clouds and hail as it swept from west-central Minnesota through the Twin Cities area Sunday.

Not a bad lead paragraph. It grabs the attention. I'm ready to learn more.

Tornadoes and funnel clouds were reported near Pennock and Eagle Lake in Kandiyohi County, near Litchfield in Meeker County, near Kimball in Stearns County, near Elk River in Sherburne County, near New Germany in Carver County, and near Greenfield and Maple Grove in Hennepin County.

I'm not sure which bothers me more here. The fact that the paragraph was so utterly boring, or that Minnesota has such red neck sounding counties.

In the southeastern corner of the state, however, only strong winds and some heavy rain were reported. No funnel clouds or significant damage were reported.

That almost comes across as sounding disappointed, dontcha think?

The National weather Service reported the heaviest rain in the area was 3.65 inches in Lake City, followed by 3.38 inches in Wabasha and 1.63 inches in Harmony. Other cities reported less than an inch. Rochester got 0.42 inch of rain from the storm; Austin, 0.52 inch; Preston, 0.3 inch, Dodge Center, 0.67 inch; and Grand Meadow, 0.64 inch.

Agh! Boring, boring, boring!

More rain is expected during the next several days, with highs in the mid-70s early in the week but dropping to the 60s by the end of the week.

Zzzzzzzz. *snort* Wha? You're still reading?

On Sunday, separate sets of severe thunderstorms rumbled across southern and northeastern Minnesota. A tornado touched down near Lismore in Nobles County in southwestern Minnesota.

Okay. That's enough with the facts and figures here. I'm dying! We need a local angle, and we need it NOW!

A tornado smashed the garage at the home of Jeff Johnson in largely rural Greenfield, scattering debris across his large back yard. He said he was on his deck celebrating Mother's Day with his wife, five daughters and mother-in-law when they felt the rain and wind starting to pick up.

"I was trying to get to the door to shut one of the doors. The door blew open, knocked me down, actually blew it off the hinges and knocked everybody else down," Johnson told the station.

One gets the impression that Jeff Johnson got excited that he was being interviewed and started embellishing toward the end there. "The door blew open, knocked me down, ACTUALLY blew it off the hinges and knocked EVERYBODY else down. Yeah, that's the ticket!"

Before they could get to the basement, the storm had passed, he said. Fortunately, they all escaped injury.

Either they have the most difficult basement in the world to obtain entry to, or that storm was one fast motherf*cker.

A turkey barn sustained some damage outside of Pennock

Funniest. weather. Story. Excerpt. EVER!

Tornadoes in the Willmar area turned the sky black with the dust they picked up from dry farm fields. Some homeowners found corn stalks blown into their yards by the storm.

Corn stalks? CORN STALKS! I could blow freakin' corn stalks into a yard. Big fricken' deal!

The skies turned dark as night as the storm hit downtown Minneapolis.

I'm thinking of Snoopy, sitting atop his dog house, writing "It was a dark and stormy night."

I shouldn't be poking fun here. I've written along these lines before.

People love to read weather stories, because people like to believe that the weather pattern they just endured was truly a historic experience. The very fact that they survived such a traumatic onslaught of Mother Nature’s wrath is testimony to their hearty survival instincts. In this case, "survival instincts" include sitting in front of the TV, eating canned soup, and stealing sidelong glances out the window at the menacing storm outside.

I’ve read countless storm stories. Truth be told, I’ve even had to write quite a few. weather story content always includes a treasure trove of humorous creative writing. If you ever find yourself under deadline pressures to write a quality weather story (hey, it could happen), keep the following tips in mind.

Be generous with adjectives and personification. Storms are really no more than random weather events that coalesce in random locations during random times of the year. However, a weather story that leads off "A random weather event coalesced over Rochester and surrounding areas yesterday afternoon," just wouldn’t grab a reader’s attention. Instead, make the storm come alive, and give it some human characteristics to make it seem particularly menacing. liberally use such terms as "blanketed," "engulfed," "swirled," "blackened," and anything else that has an evil undertone.

You can never have too many facts and figures in a weather story. Sure, it may have just been a light dusting of snow that fell for a couple of hours during the afternoon, but a quick perusal of weather history and a little imagination can produce the award-winning sentence, "for one-third of the afternoon yesterday, area residents endured a winter onslaught that dumped 2.5 inches of snow, a snowfall total that ranks 53rd in the state’s history." Really creative writers would say that "over one-sixth of a foot of snow fell." It’s important to milk every measurement to achieve the maximum "wow" effect from the readers. Find out how many businesses and schools closed, and always do an airport check to see if any flights were canceled or delayed (there’s always at least one, even without a storm). Are there cars in the ditch? Of course there are. Injuries? Don’t forget those.

Never forget the human interest angle. Every storm, no matter how big or small, is bound to have affected the life of somebody, somewhere. Maybe the Kendall family down the road had a window broken by the wind, and the snow accumulated in their bathroom. Or perhaps their family dog was impaled when an icicle snapped off the garage. Keep an open ear for any such angle. Your readers will thank you for it. The chance to read about another person’s misfortune will have the local coffee shop buzzing with good conversation for at least a week.

Never forget to focus on "what might have been." So, the storm missed you by 20 miles. So what? Now is the time to let speculation and conjecture run wild. People also like to read about how lucky they were to miss a horrific storm, so now is your chance to stoke that fire of interest. Twenty miles? In the whole scheme of things, and the vast expanse of the world, isn’t that really just a "near miss?" How much snow "could have" fallen? Six inches (half a foot)? What are the chances that a storm could miss by such a slim margin?

These are questions that can be answered by your friendly National weather Service, a group of meteorology professionals who are always good for a menacing "what could have been" quote. "I don’t know how that storm missed us," said Wayne Cloudburst, chief meteorologist at the National weather Service in LaCrosse, Wis. "If it had hit with its full potential, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. Chances are I’d be floating dead in the Mississippi River, somewhere down by New Orleans. We were really lucky."

So, the next time there’s a big weather event of Satanical proportions about to engulf your area, be sure to read the newspaper the next day. Even if your dog was impaled by an icicle and your bathroom’s full of snow, you’re sure to get a good weather story laugh just the same.

Posted by Ryan at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)


One of the most awful side effects of this whole moving-into-my-house drama is that I'll be without Internet access at home until at least Wednesday. I can't tell you how nervewracking it is not to have 24/7 Internet access when such a convencience has been readily available to me for basically five years straight.

I find myself looking at my computer, dissasembled and sitting forlornly in the basement, waiting for me to finish the office painting so I can set it all up again, and I want to play video games, and surf the Web, and write horribly bad short stories no magazine will ever buy!!! But, I can't!! I feel broken. Thank goodness I have Web access at work, or I'd probably go insane.

Posted by Ryan at 11:09 AM | Comments (0)

My House And A Thunderstorm

Saturday night marked the first time I actually stayed in my house.

After a hectic and back-breaking day of carting loads of trash to the local recycling center and moving all my worldly goods from rental apartment A to mortgage home B, I found myself in the cavernous emptiness of my home, feeling as though I had abruptly severed one thread of my life and started unspooling another.

It's weird. Pretty much the only room that truly "finished" is the main bedroom. Every other room is basically 3/4 finished, with tape rounding the perimeter of all the trim, waiting patiently for a layer of paint to cover the shame of the colors that preceded my ownership.

The oak hardwood floors have been resurrected with surprising beauty. I had no idea that they'd come to life so brilliantly after half a century of laying dormant beneath shaggy carpet and years and years of accumulated dirt. Granted, they took a lot of work, with sanding and staining and sealing, but they really do look fantastic.

But, ugh, there's so much more work to complete. It's disheartening to think of all the crap I have to do before I start to feel as though I'm nearing a "finished" state.

Last night, a thunderstorm rolled through, one of those spring storms that seem as though Mother Nature saved up all her cleansing fury for one storm to wash away all the remnants of winter and clean up all the sand and salt laid down from November through March.

Melissa was in bed, trying to study for her final logic exam, while I wandered out to the immense porch, where I sat and listened to the angry tempest pushing through. The porch was cool, with a stiff breeze wafting through the windows I had cracked open ever so slightly to allow air to pass but not the driving rain.

And, for perhaps the very first time since I signed away $120,000 worth of debt, I felt entirely content. I didn't worry about money, or dread all the painting that is still required in pretty much every room. I just sat and listened to the passing storm.

And then I went to bed. I slept at home.

Posted by Ryan at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2004

Stuff That's Bothering Me, And Stuff I Believe

I haven't posted much when it comes to politics, or the war in Iraq, or the War on Terror in general because, frankly, I've been needing a break from it. But, also, it's been obvious to me for some time that the idealogical battle lines on all those topics have been pretty much drawn for months now.

I mean, even though there are, what, six months or so until the election, I think people in the know (i.e. bloggers) have basically made up their minds as to who they're going to vote for. As for the undecideds out there, well, they don't read blogs, so what's the point of preaching to the already entrenched choir? Or, for that matter, preaching to people who are going to church across the street no matter what you say anyway?

That being said, I'm going to preach anyway, if for no other reason but to get some stuff off my chest that's been bothering me lately. This is due, in no small part, to a recent post by Johnny Huh? over at Intellection Poison who, to put it mildly, is a rabid anti-Bush kinda guy. But, I still like him, because he feeds me story and article ideas and he has a cute puppy. That, and I think political leanings are no reason to write friends off when, otherwise, they're basically great people. I should note here that I don't have the exact post of Johnny's that prompted this up and accessible right now, because for some freakin' reason I can't read his site when I'm at work, so I'm going off memory. So, you'll have to find the post yourself.

Just to be clear. . . again. . . I'm not a gigantic Bush supporter, just as I'm not a gigantic Kerry detractor. Both men are flawed, as all men (and women) are. I'm pro-choice (Bush isn't), I could care less if gays marry (Bush would disagree), and I think there should have been way more accountability attoned in the White House for Enron et al. I also think Dick Cheney's secretive nature is alarmingly creepy behavior for a vice president and I think the administration as a whole is amazingly arrogant and guilty of hubris to the x degree. Then again, I think those last couple of points could apply to every White House administration throughout the history of United States.

What turns me off most, however, and I think it's something that probably turns off most Americans in general, is when I read terms like "ShrubCo" or "Chimp" when referring to Bush and his administration. It's petty name calling, really, and it comes across as ignorant and just a tad lazy. Okay, a LOT lazy. I have equally little time for those that say Kerry is a lumpy sack of mashed potatoes, or some other such hash on the man's admittedly lackluster appearance and speech delivery.

I also don't have time for half-researched blanket statements like "Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11." Forget for a moment that the War on Terror is bigger than just 9/11, that 9/11 was the gargantuan slap to the face that awakened people to the reality of international terrorism (and not just Al Queda). A little research, just a teeny tiny little research, exposes pre-war Iraq as a cesspool of terrorist activity; from harboring known terrorists, to funding and training alongside terrorists within terrorist camps in Iraq, to paying the families of suicide bombers in Israel. This is all pretty well documented stuff.

And, lost in the daily news shuffle, apparently, is the terrorism role that played out as a result of the U.N. Oil-For-Food scandal which, quite frankly, dwarfs any purported scandals heaped on the Bush administration, or any administration for that matter, even Nixon. If the reports are accurate, and there's little reason to think they aren't, then quite a bit of the money that was supposed to end up feeding hungry Iraqis, ended up in the pockets of terrorist organizations worldwide. How's that for irony?

My point is that the world situation is a lot more nuanced and complex than most may realize, and boiling things down to "Bush is a chimp" seems to speak to a massive ignorance and laziness on the part of the person spewing forth the statement. It's not that I feel I have to defend the Bush administration so much as I feel I have to point out the rest of the story, which more and more seems to not be told, for whatever reasons, be it political media bias or just selling whatever message or story seems to sell best.

I feel I should also note here that I gravitate toward conservative bloggers not because I agree with everything they say, but they tend to be more reasonable and open to discussion than many on the left. I guess I could just be visiting sites that are way far left and spit more bile than lesser leftists, but I have a sneaking suspicion that's not the case. I think the most virulent Bush hating memes have gravitated toward, and been embraced by, those leftists who are closer to the center. And, I'm here to say, hate language just doesn't sell well in an election.

I'm for a strong America, and if that means being the strongest, most influential nation on the planet, well, that's great. I don't happen to think Russia, Germany, France and basically the entire Middle East (except for maybe Jordan) have America's best interests at heart, and I'm sick and tired of dancing around the thumbtacks laid down by the U.N. meant to keep basically everything from ever getting done about anything, except for maybe passing a resolution or 20 to think about getting something done sometime. As it stands, the U.N. is pretty much the last place the world should look to get anything done, unless the world is looking for corruption and bribery as the ideal.

I'm all for the concept of a world governing body. Yay governing body! If nothing, Joshua has convinced me it's at least plausible. But, not until governments, and not just the U.S., are willing to surrender their sovereignty to a world governing body. Anybody want to take wagers on when that will happen?

I think both Israel and Palestine have a right to exist. But, each day, I think the Palestinians are forever losing their argument for statehood. With each suicide bombing, and each glorified murder of a mother and four children (and one unborn), their's becomes less of a cause and more of an evil. If you can somehow equate such a senseless killing with the precision hits against Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, then your moral borometer is at a setting I don't even want to know about. So, when Bush ends up supporting Sharon? Well, I can basically see why.

As for environmental issues, and the Bush admins' so-called vendetta against nature, well, I can't speak with any amount of educated authority on that. What I do know is that, every time I buy something at Menards, whether it be paint, or stain, or whatever, virtually every can features the warning "This product contains chemicals that have been deemed cancer causing agents IN CALIFORNIA." What is it with California and rooting out cancer causing agents? I think I saw a California-based study that said broccoli causes cancer. My point is, when it comes to the environment and health, you can basically pick the study of your choice to back up pretty much ANYTHING. As an aside, when I was in San Antonio, I caught a Showtime series called "Bullshit" hosted by Penn and Teller, which made a pretty compelling case against recycling, pointing out it actually requires more resources, more energy and causes more pollution. I'm not saying they were right or wrong, but man they made a compelling case against it.

Bush or Kerry? I honestly don't know yet. I know I didn't vote for Bush the first time around, but I'm glad Gore didn't win. I'm also glad Howard Dean shouted his way from the spotlight. I'm disappointed that Edwards is out, although I suspect he'll be the V-P nominee. Nader? More than likely he'll just do another hatchet job on the Democratic nominee's overall chances.

Right now, I'm swayed primarily by tone, and the tone I'm hearing is "Bush is a chimp" and "Bush lied, people died!" and "Bush = Hitler" and "Bush knew about 9/11!" And, you know what? That shit turns me off. Big time. You know how, when you encounter a crazy person on the street, and they're yelling about cockroaches with GPS mind control beams? And you know how you walk right past that crazy person, and you hope to God you never ever sniff enough household cleaners that you turn out like him? That's how I feel when I read stuff like "Bush = Hitler" or "Bush is a chimp."

It actually makes me want to support Bush because, man, I don't want people who are that angry and removed from reality to have their guy in the White House. Tone down the rhetoric, people, and I think you'll find more attentive listeners. If it's not too late, I mean.

I don't know, I guess. My view is from the cheap seats: a solitary blogger with about as much sway as a blade of grass in a slight breeze.

Posted by Ryan at 01:18 PM | Comments (14)

May 05, 2004

This Post Brought To You By The Mach 3 Razor


See? I'm a smoking hot specimen of male hunkiness with or without the stache and goatee. I think.

Posted by Ryan at 08:55 PM | Comments (25)

San Antonio

Okay, I realize that I was staying in probably the nicest, most kempt area of all San Antonio, but MAN, is that place nice! I honestly didn't think such a picturesque and entertaining three mile stretch of river could exist in the heart of a city. The downtown of cities are supposed to be concrete and glass spires, with sickly trees gasping for life from pathetic circles of dirt "permitted" along sidewalks.

But, I'll tell you, the San Antonio Riverwalk area was just about the furthest thing you could imagine from the sky-blocking uniformity of most downtowns. Trees. Huge, beautiful trees; gardens really, lined either side of the river, and you could lose yourself to the reality that you were, in fact, walking just 20 feet below a bustling city. But, don't take my word for it. . .


This was just outside of my hotel, the Westin Riverwalk ($185 a freakin' night!). I started out each morning walking this path to the convention center about five blocks away. You'll notice that the trail, which hugs the water's edge, has no railing or protective barrier to keep gaping strollers from toppling off into the water. I, personally, didn't see it happen to anyone, but given that the river is garrisoned on each side with more drinking establishments than you can imagine, I kinda think a lot of people tend to fall into the river at night. I could be wrong, but I bet I'm not.


This is a street view down onto the Riverwalk. It's a pretty "ehhhh" picture, and the only reason I snapped it was because my publisher/boss and I ate at the Republic of Texas (on the left) the night we arrived in San Antonio. Best fajitas I've ever had. EVER!


This is a more artsy attempt to capture the Riverwalk essence (an attempt that I think fails, mind you).


A little ways away, I captured what I thought was a pretty good juxtaposition of art and architecture but, as you can see, I basically snapped a picture of some crap. Ansel Adams, I ain't.


Not far from my hotel, by which I mean it was a hop, skip and a "yee hawwww!" away, was the Alamo. Sadly, I was unable to find Ozzy Osbourne to again take a famous leak on the famous structure, but oh well. I was stuck by how. . . small the Alamo actually is. I was standing there thinking "an army couldn't take over THAT within a few minutes?" Of course you all know that, in 1835, an army led by Santa Anna (a second cousin to Santa Clauss, who pursued a more philanthropic career) eventually overran the now-famous Alamo in a battle that led to the deaths of Davy "Don't Call Me Dave" Crockett, and Jim "I Want A Knife Named After Me" Bowie. The story is legendary, so look it up. However, I should note something overlooked by the history books. Santa Anna, although he took over the Alamo, failed to even fire a shot across the street at. . .


Why Santa Anna left the imposing structure alone, I guess we'll never know.


This little Roman-inspired theater was actually really close my hotel. I don't normally use the word "charming" to describe anything, but in this case I can say the little outdoor theater was charming. I'm told a small wedding ceremony took place there the second day I was in San Antonio, but I didn't see it, although I think it would be a great place to get married, er. . . you know, if I ever hit my head with a crowbar and decided to do that.


This woman, who was, judging by her conversation with me, a recent escapee from an insane asylum for incoherent babblers, was painting the same little theater I took a picture of, obviously. She had a eccentric hat and eccentric handbag to go with her eccentric/crazy personality, but otherwise she seemed nice, or at least she seemed to be nice as I ran down the stairs away from her. I decided I need to drink, so I returned to the hotel, where I found my fellow co-workers in full imbibing mode.


On the left is Kathy, an ad sales rep for our magazine. On the right is Kelly, who is kind of a gopher in that she does a lot of the busy work, like setting up convention hotel reservations and stuff. They both annoy me, but I like them, which makes them pretty much like everyone else I know in my life.


That big guy on the left is Darryl, another ad sales rep. His most successful sales strategy is to say "hey, buy an ad or I'll fall on you," which works amazingly well, from what I understand. Seriously, he's 6'4" and many, many lbs. Admit it, you're thinking of buying an ad from him, just thinking about it. In the center is my publisher/boss, Doug. Best boss I've had, even though his knees in this picture are creaking so bad it's making him flash a totally fake "take the damned picture already" smile. That's me, of course, on the right, flashing an uncharacteristic smile for a camera.

There were other pictures, of course, but I refuse to publish those, for fear of undermining myself when I run for the U.S. Senate, er, you know. . . any more than posting a picture of my ass already has.

Posted by Ryan at 12:48 AM | Comments (18)
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