Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Poem Sucks. We Hope You Like It...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Going Out on a Limb

My Colored Pencil Ring
It's official I'm an Internet woodworker now. I've learned the secret handshake and I've been accepted into the clan. I'm still an extra help assistant to the junior under secretary of new arrivals but I'm in. There are loads of very talented woodworkers who post amazing projects every week on YouTube. To even get a comment on my project from one of them feels good.  I love getting new comments and pour over them each day looking for nuggets of truth hidden inside.


"Why didn't you use loose tenons to hold that joint?"
"Uh.."
"I've made loads of those and I prefer making them with PVA glue. Yours will probably break."
"I suppose I could..."
"Editing was a bit choppy. I preferred the video you made last week!"
"I didn't do a video last week..."
"Exactly!"

Seriously though. It's awesome. I wrote a post last August called Stalking Minotaurs. It was basically just a motivation for myself to try something new. Something hard. Something I wasn't comfortable doing. The rather juvenile analogy allowed me an excuse to post yet another Minotaur post on this site. (I think I'm up to three now Kludge Likes Minotaurs) As you know, Minotaurs and Dragons are the only fantasy animals worth your devotion...

Anyway, the point. I had one. I know I did.

Right! So then I decided to start videoing my time in the wood shop. I set up and new channel on YouTube and begun to swing quite far outside my comfort zone. In the last year I've made 50 videos. Most were flops, but a handful have actually been well received. (More so because of the project than because of the presenter or the quality of the video)


As a YouTuber I would be remiss not to take a second to also promote myself. I do geeky woodworking and I try new ideas. The point of the channel is to experiment and try. Even if that idea ends in a giant ball of fire. Ideas deserve a chance at life outside your head. Not all ideas have to work and mine go sideways quite often, but who cares. The fun is in the trying.

It feels good. It's nice to get a reward for taking a risk. Even if it's only after many failures. Risks can be scary, but if you're not willing to step out on that limb to see if it will support your weight, then you'll never get a chance to eat Jell-o for months on end as you're sitting in a dirty hospital suspended by a traction device waiting for all your broken bones to knit themselves back together....


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Muffin Balls: The Manifesto

There are few things in life as frustrating as paying money for an inconvenience. Not only paying money for it but being told that it is not an inconvenience but rather a benefit. In fact you should not be resentment of this annoyance, but rather embrace it as a boon. I cannot think of a better example of this than muffin balls.

Thomas English Muffins are exquisite, but I hate them. They taste excellent and the way that the nooks and crannies fill up with warm melted butter is enough to make any mouth water for more. So why is that they cannot remove those stupid, clinging, muffin balls that shower over my counter and trickle down my clothes before wrapping up their package. Surely we cannot be expected to put up with this.

Muffin balls are inedible little shot sized cornmeal balls that are a part of the cooking process. It's an old world tradition. Just like Mr. Thomas used to make, and then send off on his antiquated horse and carriage. We are told that they are a necessary part of the cooking process, in order to keep the muffin from adhering to the pan, or conveyor belt or whatever they use in the Bimbo Bakeries factory. I get that.

Does that mean that I need 4 metric tons of these absurd rolling menaces in my package? Really!? I spend about 2 minutes over my sink each morning wiping these excess muffin balls off the rear of my bread just to save the hassle of spreading the buggers on my counter, lap and floor. Is that also an old world tradition Thomas?! Sheesh. We all know that there isn't any old Mr. Thomas cooking these anymore. It's all done by the mechanical hands of some great stainless steel beast. Can't we spend a little extra between the laser guided spatula flipper and self sealing plastic bonding station for a little tiny muffin ball broom?!

Sigh...

So here we are, saddled with a dilemma, of taste over tactile annoyance. Do I really need a Thomas English Muffin? Or can I go with some ball free alternative. Like bagels. Because you know, I've never seen any bagel that didn't have it's balls all cleaned off before being added to my package...


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

8 Years & Counting

"Peter if you find yourself in the same job after 5 years you have to stop and ask yourself, 'Why are you still here?'"

Chris Robertson was the first IT boss I ever had. He loved to talk, he could type 90+ words per minute and he had me convinced that IP Subneting was the hardest thing I would ever have to learn.

His theory was simple on jobs though, "In IT we aren't in it for the long haul. You should invest about 3-5 years per job. If you are looking to move on, an employer will want to know why you either left too early or stayed too long."

I've been at my current job for 8 years. That's the longest I've been anywhere. It's hard to stay in one place for so long, I feel like I'm losing my edge. Like I'm getting numb to this one environment and this one way of doing things.  After a while you stop questioning why you are building networks the way you are and just accept it.

"That's the way we've always done it," is a sure sign that you don't have a clue why your design hasn't changed.

I like it here. I have an office, a stable network and I'm finally comfortable with my co-workers, but there is always a part of me looking to move on. Chris Robertson's words ring in my ear. "Why are you still here?"

His advice was given almost 15 years ago. It was the reason I left that job and the next two. I was reaching for the moon and stuffing my matress with stock options that were going to make me rich. I was trading my 9-5 Win95 knowledge for 60 hour weeks and the promise of learning network design and telecom troubleshooting.

In all reality, I owe Chris my career. If not for him I would have stayed a PC tech at a giant company and could see myself there today.

I love networking. So I made the right choice, but I wonder what he would say today. In this new economy there are people who would kill for a steady job. I suppose I should be happy, content and learn to live with this new phase.

I suppose it could be a lot worse. I could have ended up as a manager...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Peoms Composed in Training

"The world is in the glovebox,"
I postulate to my peer

His eyes were wide and bright
Expecting something wise

"Scratch that," I said
The glovebox is full of Starbucks napkins.

-Peter Brown 2013


"I murdered something beautiful!"
I shouted down the hall

The placid gaze from wife and child
Proved that they were confused

I killed a moth with pretty wings
I smashed it on the wall

It was only self defense,
For it flew up my nose!

-Peter Brown 2013





Monday, August 05, 2013

Stalking Minotaur's

I used to love stalking minotaurs. There was a certain patch of earth not far from my house where one could test their mettle against that voracious beast. As you lay there on your belly, inching ever closer, you could hear the sound of their hot breath as they guarded their plunder. The steady clomping of their hooves tapping out a warning cadence to any would be harassers.

"This way is trouble. Steer clear mortals, if you know what is good for you."

The way the wind played at their thick mane sending the overbearing odor of sweat and blood right to your nostrils. The smell of death heightened your already keen senses. The thrill of the hunt sent your heart beating a thousand beats per minute and there was nothing in your life that could even begin to excite you as much as that did. You leapt out and seized the creature by the horns and fought will all your being until you brought the monster down!

Then one day you woke up and said to yourself, "Are you ready to catch a minotaur today? Are you ready to leap onto the back of that sweaty beast and hold on to his perilous horns and not let go?" Knowing that any failure when mounted on his back means certain death from both his ferocious prongs or giant iron axe.

"So, do you want to go stalking today?!"

"Naw... Not really feeling it. I think I'll just go throw some rocks at fawns."

Fawns. Fawns are nothing like minotaurs. They have no fire, no thrill and they are nothing to be afraid of.

They're so sheepish that they just stand there and pretend like it isn't even happening. Like some beaten down man in line at the grocery store. There he is holding on to his basket of with female sanitary napkins, soy milk and all-bran cereal. He is already humiliated by the selection of his basket and now, he is also abused. He tries to ignore the strangers child that is wildly thrashing and bumping into him. The fawn man just stands there, taking it, hoping the checkout will be over soon. He would never have the fire in his belly for simple confrontation with an irresponsible parent, much less and all out brawl with a rock tosser.

As the rocks fly there is no hunt, no thrill. He barely even raises his head in protest. He just gives you that sheepish look, as if to say, "I'm not sure what I did to deserve this attack. All I wanted was a cup of tea and some all-bran cereal. Why don't you go pick on the centaurs?"

Picking on fawns passes the time and at least you're out in the open air. But then one day you realize that months have gone by without really challenging yourself. Without a hunt, without the possibility of death, your senses have dulled and the clomping sound of hooves is now a terror inducing sound.

Why have you come back to this patch of earth? Do you really think you have what it takes to tackle a foe this large? As you lie in the grass and listen for the sound of hooves you wonder, will his be your last hunt...

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Confessions of an Agressive Driver

I hate the way you drive. It actually makes me crazy. I think you're stupid, incapable and slow. If you are in my way, you are nothing more than an imbecile who I would gladly do away with if the missile launch button glued to my steering wheel was anything more than wishful thinking. I confess, I am an aggressive driver. I'm a full throttle, bumper sucking, loud mouthed, road hog. I also know that you are a lousy driver.

Why is it every time I get in my car, some geriatric, Cadillac driving jerk decides to pull out right in front of me? You know the one, they drive at 10 miles BELOW the speed limit, looking outside their windows like they're hunting for garage sale signs so they can swoop in and buy some happening depression glass or a 1970's brown checked kitchen apron they're been hankering for?

When the light turns green they're still checking their perm in the gigantic rear view mirror instead of riding that accelerator, like it says to do in the drivers handbook. No use honking, it will only slow them down, as they look around bewildered until they finish adjusting the bench seat or talking about the bridge game with their dying spouse. IT MAKES ME CRAZY.

I can honestly feel the muscles in my shoulders tightening and the red glow rising up my neck.

"MOVE YOUR BOAT GRANDMA! WE STILL HAVE PLACES TO GO BEFORE WE DIE!"

And it's not just the extremely old. It's also all you loonies with your iThis and eThats in the car. Why are we taking pictures from behind the windshield or talking to Mary-Lou when there is driving to do? You don't see Richard Petty or Michael Schumacher chatting with the pit crew about which weight of oil they'd like to try on the next stop, cause, THEY'RE TOO BUSY DRIVING!

sigh... [exhale] ...okay. Calming down. I'll just pull over into the slow lane and take a quick breather....

Why are you braking?! What... Why are you. I cannot even see around you. What possessed you to buy the largest black SVU in the FREAKING WORLD anyway?! All I see are shadows of bodies moving inside. Are you having a picnic in there. Are you bathing your children. What could you possibly be slowing for when all the other lanes are speeding by... too fast for me to even merge. Now me and this colossal line of followers are stuck behind you...

An accident. You were inspecting an accident. Fantastic. Were you able to lend assistance? Did you help the wounded? I'm sure the police and fire department appreciated your assistance. No. You just needed to SLOW DOWN AND LOOK!? YOU know what! I didn't even glance at it. I stayed cemented to your bumper the entire time. You know why. BECAUSE IT HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH ME?!) #)%$ *&@!

I hate the way you drive. All of you. People slower than me are jerks and folks who pass me are maniacs. I think I just stole that from someone, but right now, I don't care. I just want to get off this road before I start ramming into Hondas and Fords....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I remember when...

  • Watermelons had seeds
  • Televisions had dials
  • Streets had payphones
  • Computers had floppies
  • Supermarkets had arcade games
  • Only doctors or drug dealers had pagers
  • No one had a cellular phone
  • People wore tube socks
  • I made my girlfriend a mix tape
  • VCRs were amazing
  • Costco clerks read off the SKU numbers
  • Stores called the bank when you wrote a check
  • Macy's used a carbon machine on your credit card
  • McDonald's used styrofoam packages
  • Rabbit ears were on our living room TV
  • The first time I played Frogger at home
  • People thought pegged pants looked cool
  • Taco Bell had a 59¢ menu
  •  I had to hand write my school reports
  • I tried to walk and keep my discman from skipping
It happens to everyone. When they realize time has moved faster than they expected...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday's Passing

I just had a very good Monday. I came in to work today, wondering what I was going to be doing, and ended up spending 8 hours shooting trouble on an elusive issue. At 4:16 the solution was acquired and the inevitable clarity of hindsight clicked into place. I looked up and realized that I had consumed 1 liter of coffee, a banana, a smoothie and most of my day. I found that I was completely happy.

If you don't have a job you enjoy to do, I'm sorry. I've worked in plenty of places where jumping ship was always on my mind. There were days that I spent at Best Buy were I just wanted to punch someone square in the jaw. Of course, there were also great days. Days when I learned something new, or enjoyed the company of my co-workers. The trouble is, it's much easier to recall the bad days? Why is that?

I suppose it is because, we tend to appreciate them more, in a way. You can recount them to friends. You garner sympathy or laughs depending on how you tell it. You use them to build a little castle of woe, that can then be showed off to your family and acquaintances. It makes you feel good to wallow in the bad.

You get the attention of others, "Look at all I had to endure today." Attention is addicting (Ask anyone with a blog) and people tend to dwell on the negative rather than the positive. It's our culture, where sarcasm and cynicism are rewarded as wit and humor. Or sympathy is doled out while we simultaneously elevate ourselves as better over those who's woes we are listening to.

Believe me, I understand it. In fact I'm a master of it. I need to curb that tendency.

Why is it that no one shares with friends if they had a good day?

"Had this horrible customer that called me a 'sniffle stiffing jerk-off' in front of my boss!"
"What?! That's horrible!"
"Yeah, and I'm not even sure that I know what that means. What about you."
"Me? I had a great day! So-"
"Oh... Sue? What about you?"


So why can't a near perfect work day not be worth noting? We should all get excited when we say,  "I had a great day." Instead of just thinking it's no big deal.

Most of us have to work for a living. Considering the sheer amount of our lives that we will spend working for our paycheck, we should be actively looking for the good in that day. Today was good, and I hope I remember it the next time I have a bad day.

Monday was good. I've got great hopes for Tuesday...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My last 5 Facebook Posts

Considering how few amusing things I've generated in the last 2 months, I thought you all might appreciate something...

Dec 25: So, everyone's phone is off, I'm standing in the rain locked outside of my empty house with no keys, and I need to use "the facilities". Making Christmas memories...

Jan 2: I cannot stop overeating. Luckily my pants are now so tight I'm getting light headed and might just pass out. Seems to be some sort of fail safe method...

Jan 3: I like Lumberjack Games. If more sports had axes and chainsaws, I think I could get into them more...

Jan 9: I've only had one person ever give me their number and asked me to call them. It was a very attractive man with a pale blue knit sweater tied around his shoulders. I never found out what he wanted....

Jan10: I'm such a poor speller that Outlook wished to change what I thought was 'inconvenience' to 'incontinence'. I said, "no" as I wanted to keep the email a bit more professional...