Tuesday, May 15, 2007

7 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Me

Gus tagged me, and I have little better to do.

1. My earliest memory is from age 3. I was walking next door with my neighbor who was a year older. He asked me if I were four yet. I said, "No, I am still three."

2. I actually liked the first Linkin Park CD even though I was plenty old enough to know better.

3. I have broken at least one window and/or windshield with the following items: a tennis ball, a soccer ball, my head.

4. I am not a germ-freak, but for the most part, I don't like people touching me. We can shake hands, play a contact sport, but don't make me high five you, and for the love of God, don't ever pat me on the back or lean on me. Don't get me started on people who have different ideas than me about whether hugging me is appropriate. I prefer physical contact is limited to the following:

- Shaking hands upon greeting and departure
- Contact sports (This does not include Gay Chicken)
- You are a doctor. Better yet, you are my doctor (or other medical professional).
- You are Adrienne.
- You are family or a close friend, but even then, let's keep it to a minimum.
- You are saving me from bodily harm or death

5. Many introverts find direct eye contact uncomfortable, but I often despise it. And it sucks how much non-introverts don't get this. Sometimes when I am making eye contact with someone I am not familiar with, it feels like that person is peering right into my soul, deciphering all my secrets, and depriving me of my last shred of privacy, all the while shining a spotlight on me so that my soul is not just exposed, it is also being advertised.

6. The smell of Tequila alone can make me vomit.

7. Even though I am in the worst shape in my life, I can still do a front handspring.

I tag no one.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Thanks to Google, I can make that road trip to Stockholm I have been talking about all these years.

My Route

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kat and Gus, Thank You; Pete McCordic, I'm Sorry

Gus and Kat gave Adrienne and me a signed copy of Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. They rule for that. Thanks, guys.

I read Kat's post about meeting Amy Sedaris sometime after she'd posted, and concluded that if Adrienne and I were the couple she was referring to, we would have received the book by now. I felt a little disappointed because I have watched a decent amount of Strangers with Candy with Gus and Kat, and I had a hard time imagining they knew a couple more deserving than Adrienne and me. Lo and behold, I get home for work one day a few weeks later to find a package on my porch. I thought the new video card I ordered had just arrived freakishly fast. Then I noticed it was from New York, NY. No way in hell a video card gets from NY to an OKC 'burb that fast, so I was intrigued at the box's contents. I opened the box and much silent resentment was lifted from my shoulders when I realized Adrienne and I were the recipients of the above-mentioned Amy Sedaris book. The book was signed:

Adrienne and Jim,

Sorry you broke up.
Good Times!

Amy Sedaris

I love that she included Good Times!.

Then it got me thinking about Kat's post, and meeting celebrities in general. I can't say I have ever met a full-blown celebrity, but some "niche" ones.

Which brings me to Pete McCordic, professional bowler, and niche-celebrity for the purposes of this story.

I bowled in a Pro-Am tournament at the 1989 Seagram's U.S. Open in Edmond, OK, my one and only encounter with Pete McCordic. Having never met a pro bowler and being only 13, I probably had unrealistic expectations. I suppose somewhere deep down, I wanted to impress him, or for him to see some remarkable bowling talent I hoped I possessed. But alas, this was not the case. Pete didn't take any particular interest in me or any of the other youth competitors. I don't think he really wanted to be there. If A League of Ordinary Gentlemen's portrayal is accurate, there is probably a good chance he was hung over.

For a long time, Pete held a certain distinction in professional bowling that was a bit of a double-edged sword. He led the tour's career earnings list, for players with no titles. So yeah, he cashed consistently, but had never won. I believe this distinction weighed heavily on him at times. Finally in 1988 and fifteen years into his professional bowling career, Pete earned his first title at the Fresno Open.

Rewind to 1987. There had been a thirteen-year drought for 300s bowled on television. Pete shoots 300 on TV against Wayne Webb at Greater Los Angeles open, collecting a $100,000 bonus from True Value in the process.

Some weeks before the tournament, I read an interview with Pete McCordic in Bowlers' Journal. In it he lamented the 300 coming before the title at Fresno because he didn't want to be remembered as "the guy that shot the 300".

So failing to get his attention through my bowling prowess (which, admittedly, would have been tough considering I averaged in the mid-140s at the time, and it was the toughest lane condition I had ever bowled on. Hell, in the title match of the pro tournament, neither pro broke 200 (M. Aulby defeated J. Pencak, 195-178).), I decided I would try to get Pete's attention anyway.

Beaming with fake admiration only a 13-year-old can conjure, I said to him, "You're the guy that shot the 300". Yes, even at 13, I was a vindictive ass.

He stifled a cringe, faked a smile, shot 190-something, and moved to the next pair.

So, Pete McCordic, I'm sorry. I've always wondered if you would have responded differently if I had said something cool, like "Hey, congratulations on Fresno", but we seldom get the closure we crave.


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Childhood of a Lawyer and Its Repercussions

I know this is long overdue, but I just haven't had much to write about lately. Still don't, in fact, I have to dig deep into my childhood to find an anecdote worth repeating. Or maybe it isn't. I don't know. You be the judge.

In my early childhood, I had a best friend whom we will call Eric. Protecting his identity is kind of important, as you will see as this story unfolds.

So for Eric's ninth birthday, we went to see Ninja III: The Domination at the dollar movies in Yukon. I hadn't seen Ninja, or Ninja II, and I am not even sure those movies were ever made. But it was 1984, the height of suburban white kid ninja phases and profitable movie sequels. So, without a doubt, we were in.

Before the movie, Eric announces he has to take a dump. Eric loved shock value as one may infer. But the shock value I was in store for, well, I was not prepared.

Eric proceeded to climb on the large counter in the men's restroom, and dropped a big, fat, steaming log directly into one of the sinks.

We laughed. I thought it was funny at the time (I was eight). When we came back to use the restrooms after the movie--Eric, in a much more conventional manner--we saw the log was gone. I remember joking, "someone got hungry". My weak attempt at shock value paled in comparison to Eric's steamer.

I have reflected on this incident much over the years, and my viewpoint has evolved considerably. A couple of years later, I marveled at the balls Eric had to do such a thing. The thing about the men's restrooms at that movie theater was that there was no door; just a short hallway and a 90-degree turn provided all the necessary privacy. If someone had walked in, Eric would have been caught. There would not have been any kind of sounds to warn us of a third party's entrance. We would have had no explanation. (I say "we" because I think I would have gotten in trouble due to guilt by association.) Let's consider:

(Shock and Disgusted Imaginary Man): "What in the Hell…? What the Hell are you doing?!"

(Eric): "I had to go really bad. All the stalls were full."

(SDIM): "What?! You two little bastards are the only ones in here. There are four empty stalls…"

I just don't think it would have been pretty after that.

A couple of years later, I thought it was funny to taunt Eric about the terrible thing he had done in subtle ways. I remember saying to my mother, "Mom, one time Eric and I went to the movies, and someone had pooped in the sink."
She responded, "Only the scum of the Earth would do that." After that, I always told Eric he was the scum of the Earth in jest. I think he wore the title with pride.

Right around the time I turned 17, I ended up getting a job at the bowling alley where I bowled league. I was kind of like a busboy for bowling lanes, what those in the industry refer to as "concourse boy". It occurred to me that some other poor stiff getting minimum wage had to clean up Eric's mess. While the night crew cleaned the bathrooms, I knew that if some other little bastard committed a similar bathroom atrocity during business hours, my boss wasn't going to let it wait for the night crew, and I would be tasked for the necessary steamer extraction. I waited and waited for it to come full circle.

After all, it wasn't like I was dealing with the upper crust of society working at a bowling alley. While I knew a league bowler wouldn't shit in the sink, the one thing I learned there was to never underestimate the appalling behavior open bowlers (non-league bowlers) were capable of. Hell, I was amazed at the number of people who wandered in with no intention of bowling and their behavior. But I saw the way some people drank there, and I always expected someone to vomit on the floor eventually.

I was prepared to quit on the spot if that occurred.

But it never came full circle. No poop, no vomit. Although once when I was working the desk after a promotion and Gus was working concourse, someone spilled a tuna fish sandwich's contents on the floor, and we both thought it was puke. He asked me what it was, knowing damn well what we both feared it was, in a tone that suggested he might be willing to quit on the spot as well. Maybe that was the "coming full circle" that I deserved since I just laughed at Eric's dump and didn't take an active role.

I guess that is the end of the story for the most part. Eric moved away, but stayed in our school district. We didn't hang out much after he moved, but I do remember he was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in his senior class. Last I heard, he was a lawyer in San Diego or something.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Littlest Cowboy

What is up with the significant portion of young mothers who seem to be playing dress up with their children?

The other day, Adrienne and I were at Primo's having a nice dinner. There is family all close to us, and we are having to withstand overhearing their stupid conversation. Nothing beats a trophy wife elementary school teacher with diarrhea of the mouth bitching about how hard it is to be a teacher.

A young boy about 3 years old was in a high chair near our table. I look down and notice a small set of cowboy boots sitting on floor next to the high chair. I am appalled for two reasons:
  1. Why can't this little bastard eat with his shoes on? Maybe he could if he were wearing more traditional footwear.
  2. Why the hell is this little bastard wearing cowboy boots?

Seriously, why does this kid need to wear cowboy boots? Does he need protection from rattlesnakes when he is out bailing hay amongst the goldenrods? Surely, this kid had no practical reason to be in cowboy boots. Why not just give him a monocle, a fedora , and a pocket watch? Wouldn't that just be precious? Or was the mom using her son as an accessory to proclaim, "We're Gawd feerin' simple folk that supports Dubya and our troops"? I leave that for you to decide.

Before leaving, Dad dutifully put the boots back on the Littlest Cowboy's feet and lifted him out of the high chair. As soon as his feet hit the floor, the Littlest Cowboy took off in a full sprint that lasted about a step and a half on the slick tile floor. Yeah, the Littlest Cowboy bit it pretty hard. And I am such a bastard, I smiled inwardly, not so much at the Little Cowboy's pain, but rather that his mother's insistence on playing real life dolly with him caused that pain.

From the sick mind of charr

This was too good not to share. My only regret is not finding it six weeks ago.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Reminiscing about My First Day of College (AKA "What a prick!")

My first day of college was a long one beginning with Physics for Non-Majors at 10:30 AM and ending with Freshmen Composition, a three-hour class that met once a week at 6:30 PM. I also didn't live on campus. I commuted from my parents' house (about a 35 mile drive) for the first few weeks of the semester. I like to think those facts contributed to some ill-advised decisions/behavior during that first English class.

Those of you who know me know that I am not the most social of people to strangers and I have a small issue with social anxiety. You can imagine how pleased I was when the instructor announced our first activity would be to pair with a classmate, interview them (and get interviewed as well), and write a paper to introduce them to the rest of the class.

To protect the innocent, I will change the name of my interviewee. She was a fairly attractive blonde country girl we'll call LaDonna Simpson. During our interview, I was immediately struck by LaDonna's southern accent. I started thinking about various interviews I had read with athletes from small southern towns in Sport Illustrated and how the writer would always remark on the accent. They were always poignant and non-judgmental; after all there is nothing wrong with being a little "country". I got it stuck in my head I wanted to do the same thing with LaDonna.

I don't remember much of the interview, but I remember reading the paper. After a few mundane sentences into my first paragraph, I wrote something to the effect of

    "After a few lines of dialogue with Ms. Simpson, one thing is apparent: Purcell, Oklahoma is as country as it sounds."

As soon as the last word left my mouth, the class let out a collective "ooh", like I had just called her fat or flat or ugly or any of the other myriad of insults middle school boys use to taunt their female counterparts. It sounded a lot better in my head. In fact, this was really the first time I had found a southern accent not only less than repulsive, but even mildly charming. I guess it was the first time I had heard one that wasn't littered with the typical grammatical errors generally associated with southern accents.

In hindsight, I should have stopped and explained I intended no insult, but my fear of public speaking clung firmly to my initial objective: to get through this unpleasantness as quickly as possible. The next semester would only inflame my regret as LaDonna was the only student that was in both my English I and English II classes. I do recall her never speaking to me again. In my defense, she probably would have never spoken to me had we not been paired up on the first day of class.

After all of the interview papers were read, the instructor had everyone go around the room and say two or three unique things about ourselves that were not mentioned in the interview. I don't remember what I said as I was completely overshadowed by a classmate.

I remember there being two guys in the class that were friends, while the rest of us were completely on our own. Nothing of much interest was said until it got to one of the two friends.

He said, "I am hypoglycemic. I make 20,000 copies a week, and I am routinely abducted by aliens".

This got a collective laugh from the class excluding me. I thought it was kind of a lame joke. The instructor questioned his seriousness. He was steadfast. The more convinced I became he believed aliens abducted him, the less I was able to control my laughter. Most of the class had stopped laughing at this point.

He continued, "I was carry around some alien paraphernalia, so in case I am abducted by new guys, they will know I am cool".

The question on everyone's mind, "Do you have any alien paraphernalia on you now?" was asked by our instructor.

"Yes", he said, and proceeded to pull out a medium density plastic triangle. It look to be denser than a plastic Frisbee, but presumably less dense than the high-density polymer plastic gun used by Mitch Leary. Affixed to each vertex of the green triangle were a few foldout tools. It was like a Swiss army knife times 1.5.

He unfolded a tool resembling a prison shank, and said "Like this could be used to dig or whatever."

"As you can see, they are very advanced" his friend taunted. I lost it. I am a sucker for sarcasm.

Some people were still occasionally chuckling. My face was buried in my hands, totally losing my shit. It was as close as I have ever come to blowing a funny fuse. The alleged abductee, however, seemed to get more and more visibly flustered. The instructor tried to smooth things over, stating the student really believed he was being abducted, it was very real to him, and we should respect that. I tried my best to be mature, but I seemed to start laughing about it again every few minutes for the duration of the class's first session.

Obviously, the lesson here is that I am a really insensitive asshole.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

A fun & sneaky family...

I was working on my bowling tracking app a few days before Halloween when my doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting company, and I didn't particularly welcome any distractions.

I reluctantly got up and went to answer the door. As I approached the my front door, I could see something had been taped to the outer glass door. It turned out to be this:

I opened the door, and no one was there. This bag was sitting on my front porch.

The bag wasn't empty. It contained:
  • A Quaker Oats Chocolate Chip Granola Bar
  • A mini Hershey's Milk Chocolate candy bar
  • Two rolls of Smarties
  • A bag of Chewy Sweet Tarts
  • A pack of Whoppers
  • A Vampire Bobblehead contain Jack O' Lantern gum
  • A pair of Halloween socks
  • A Halloween Poem

Here is the poem:
    Happy Halloween!

    A fun & sneaky family has come to town
    To leave you some goodies that was see you have found
    If you do not wish to disappoint all
    Continue this greeting, this sneaky family call!
    Buy or make some treats, 2 paper ghosts, and 2 notes like this
    Deliver them to 2 neighbors who may have been missed
    Don't let them see you, be sneaky, no doubt
    And make sure they put their paper ghosts out!
    Next, you have only two days to act, so be quick
    Leave it at doors where there is no light
    Ring the doorbell and run, and stay out of sight!
    Last but not least, come join in the season
    Don't worry, be happy - you need no good reason
    Be cool, have fun, and remember don't be seen!
    Share the spirit of Halloween!!

I don't think the author had much regard for meter. Then you have the line "Next, you have only two days to act, so be quick". It doesn't rhyme with anything. But I understand because sometimes when I am writing a traditional poem, I forget and think I am writing a Haiku. Then when I proofread it, I notice, but I decide I can't do it any better and leave it. I also have to applaud the random use of exclamation marks. But the most troubling thing is expectation/obligation to Pay It Forward.

So, I would have to buy two large pieces of white construction paper, an assortment of candy, a Halloween themed bag of the appropriate capacity, and some Halloween themed socks, and I would have to make a copy of the poem. Not only that, but it appears all the other houses in my neighborhood had been "hit", so I would have to drive around local neighborhoods looking for a mark. Creepily driving around neighborhoods that aren't mine looking for a mark would look very suspicious and wouldn't be very smart on my part. I was not ready to risk looking like a kidnapper or burglar or serial killer just to get in the Halloween spirit. But let's assume I find a mark without being reported as a suspicious individual in the area. So now, I have to return to the neighborhood at night, sneak uncomfortably close to a stranger's home, tape the ghost to the door, drop the bag, ring the doorbell, run away, and drive off without the luxury of a getaway driver. Oh yeah, wait, I am supposed to do all that twice. Needless to say, I didn't pay it forward. The whole process would have been a big pain in the ass not to mention the potential for an unpleasant brush with the law.

That is my left hand in the picture next to the Halloween themed socks. I don't think they are going to fit. Anyone with small feet need some socks?

Bowling App Update

Coding has slowed down at work, but it has significantly picked up at home. I have been putting a fair amount of work into my bowling tracking application for my phone.

First off, I have name for the application, "Brandt", after the late great Allie Brandt. Allie Brandt bowled record 886 three game sanctioned series in 1939. That record stood for nearly six decades. He bowled that set long before urethane, reactive resin, and all of the other crutches that allow certain off the corner bowlers think they are good enough to average 220.

These screen shots are of the PC-build since I can't take screenshots of my phone, and I haven't ported the application back to the phone yet anyway. I am going to show my high game of bowling, which also happens to demo a number of the (near) completed UI features. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Yeah, so I left the 2-4-8-10, a leave I had only spared once in my life, on the first shot. I was not expecting this to be my high game at this point. I remember the pinsetter even knocked over one of the pins, and I had to call the front desk to have the leave re-spotted. I made a joke about it being a waste of time to re-spot since I was only going to miss it anyway.

As you can see, the 2-4-8-10 is a split, and my application can determine a split and provides a visual indication similar to today's automatic scoring systems.

But lo and behold, I spared it.

You may notice that I diverge from the behavior exhibited by most automatic scoring systems in regards to updating the score for a frame after a mark. I think most scoring implementations were too infatuated with the paper and pencil scoring metaphor. I personally want as much explicit information as possible when I am bowling.

So, I settled in and threw the ball really well for the rest of the game and continued striking. And that is the story of the first time I shot 290. I have done it since leaving a 10-pin in the first frame which I obviously converted.