Merry Christmas

Spend time with those most special in your life and try to even get along today with crazy Uncle Melvin. Enjoy the light radiation from my virtual Yule log.

A very merry Christmas from my family to yours.

The Bacon Fairy

I'm leaving my broken frying pan under my pillow tonight!

image credit

The Holidays

When 'Your Fellow Man' becomes the sole obstacle to your future happiness.

Party Geek - Revised

As the holidays draw ever closer, and friends and families are getting together to celebrate, I'm reminded of that oh so universal truth in the world, that is most easily started as thus, "Don't invite a geek to your party. Ever!"

This is a huge mistake. Now don't misunderstand me here, my people are fun and exciting in our own way. When we all get together in groups it's great. I can talk for an hour about my Cisco topology with other network geeks, or play Apple fan boy bash with the best of them. Around other geeks, who know the joys of the D&D 3.5 rule set, or why Super Mutants have taken over the DC wastelands I totally fit it. All I'm saying is, generally we don't mingle well outside our own social structures. Keep the tigers with the tigers and the geeks with the geeks.

When taken outside of the familiar and placed into a world of the unknown, where sports take center stage over technology, we tend to feel a bit lost. Yesterday I stood in awe as three grown men reminisced about a certain baseball pitcher and a game where no one even got a hit. Can you image nine innings of that?! These blokes seemed downright enthralled, and talked about the man as fondly as their own kin.

Most geeks are introverts, and in this situation would just stand there, looking lost. Not me, I'm always lost, but that doesn't stop me from joining in. As the majority of my friends are sports guys, over the years I've picked up some sportish lingo that really helps. I still have no clue what anyone is talking about, but I do try. Though I have been known to bomb, usually in an epic way. I'm reminded of a recent flop.

“Hey did you watch Nascar last night?” The well adjusted clerk asks.
“Naw... who was playing?” I respond. My wife lets out a groan and I realize this isn’t correct.
“I mean... Are you a gear head?” I try and bluff him.
“Never mind... you want paper or plastic?”

At parties I’m a geek in hiding. That is no small feat. It’s like try to hide an elephant up your sleeve. Mostly my friends are not geeks, so over the years I've tried to fit in. Here's my short primer for any geeks who may find themselves in similar party predicaments.

For the geeks, here are a few party pointers I’ve picked up.
  • Don't Panic!

  • During introductions, use your real name, not your web handle.

  • Noboy gets our humor. Save xkcd for a more receptive group.

  • Don't pull out the flat panel to check if it's cabled properly. Wait till you're asked.

  • Don’t talk to your smartphone

  • When peoples eyes start to glass over, it time to move on to the next victim...err..guest

Regardless of how well you hide your true nature someone will ask if, "everything is okay?"

  • Always have some excuse for your behavior
    1. I didn't get any sleep
    2. I need more Mt. Dew
    3. I forgot to save my level 50 barbarian last night before the computer crashed.

  • When someone says:
    “So what have you been up to?”

    Talk about movies, horses or taxicabs.Talk about hammers, canoes or coffee. Just don’t explain how you hooked up your new PCI Express video card last night and ran a polygon test, this never gets the awe and reverence you would expect.

  • “What did you think of the game?”

    This means you have once again missed out on a sporting event. I find the best choice is to let them do the talking. Try something like "Can you believe that score?" or "What were they thinking?" I find these questions work great for 90% of sporting events. You can fain thirst and head back to the punch bowl during the response.

  • Just remember have fun, and try not to be yourself.

Letter To My Father

Dear Pop;

Today is December 22, 2008, you have been gone a while. Five years if I recall. Has it really been that long? I'm not sure what prompted me to write this, but I've been missing you recently. It's not Fathers Day, or your birthday, but I still wish I could talk to you. I miss having you here.

There are so many times growing up that I wished I was anywhere except living under your roof. I wanted so bad, to grow up and get out of your realm. I dreamed about the day I could leave home and not have to carry my nasty handkerchief you insisted I brought with me wherever I went. I hated our math lessons, or that red maker you would use on my essays that I was so proud of. All those red marks that made me realize that I didn't have your brains, and would just never get it.

I also used to fear our times alone when I never knew what to talk about. I worried that I might say or do something that would make me feel stupid, or make you wonder how it was possible to have a son that was so little like you.

There were only a few times growing up when I realized that you were not the pillar of strength and insight that I had come to see you as through my young eyes. When you reminisced about your childhood and hardships you endured. I don't ever recall a time growing up when you cried. I knew you to be quite capable of strong emotion, but crying never seemed like something you would ever do. I'm sure it happened, but it doesn't fit with the template I made of you.

All the time though, I was listening. Mostly I listened and daydreamed, trying to picture you as a child with a house full of family and relations. I listened as you talked about your trip to Europe, with the duck hunting coat where you secreted away your poor boys. I listened as you talked about your time as a deputy sheriff. I listened as you talked about your trips around town in the car that you loved. I still cannot picture you in a bug eyed sprite, or as a young man in the Philippines but I accept that it was so.

If I had known at that time that you would be gone today and I would feel such a great loss for your company, I would have been dumbfounded. We never really understood each other, even being of the same blood. I sometimes wonder how that is possible. I can't explain it, it just is. I remember the way you would devour a book in an afternoon, while I played at the park, avoiding the 'Trolls' as you called them. I recall riding on your back in the pool and the joy of making you proud as I could hold my breath and swim the pools length underwater. I have lots of memories. Some that I relish, and some that I've let fade away. I've tried to let go of all the venom as I raise two children of my own.

That's right, you have two grandkids. They are both a mixture of myself and my bride, and as you are in me; part of their makeup is from you. Hannah has your insight. Alexis your will. Two granddaughters whom you will never meet. For whatever reason that struck me today.

I miss you Pop. I will forget, even recently, that you are gone. Mostly when I've seen a great movie, or wished for your political insight, or when I recently found myself writing a letter to the editor. A place where I would frequently see your well organized thoughts cutting through the emotion clutter with wisdom and truth. Oh to have just one more conversation about life, your crazy chickens or even a game of darts.

Many things have changed, but I'm still that little boy with his head in the clouds wanting desperately for his fathers approval. I know you were proud of me and what I had made of my life. Five years seems like an eternity. I wish you had made it a bit longer.

I love you, and I miss you,


Diary Of An Amateur Woodworker

March 2008

Dear Diary,
Today my wife asked me to build her something. A toy shelf out of wood. I haven't done anything like that since I was a kid, and back then it was impolite to say, "Wow? Did you make that? Kid...that looks like garbage." I'm not even sure where to start. I have a workbench, but I hadn't actually thought of using it for anything. I hope my tools don't get freaked out by actually having to cut things. "Work? What's up with that? I though we were just for show!"

Dear Diary,
The toy shelf turned out okay. The children don't know what it's for and keep sleeping on the shelf like a set of junior bunk beds. What if it falls apart? That would be embarrassing trip to the hospital. "So, Mr. Brown...not only did you maim your daughters with your poor woodworking skills, but as I can see from this chunk of wood protruding from your eldest child's also need to work on more uniform staining application."

April 2008

Dear Diary,
Why is it that '10 simple steps' in a magazine come out to '25 impossible fitting joints' in the garage? Nothing is as simple as the cartoon drawings show stuff. I think they specifically leave out steps that are important just to get a laugh. "Hank, did you see my piece called "A fun afternoon project? I can picture grown men weeping into piles of sawdust. For my next article I'm thinking of writing, 'Antique Furniture in Thee Simple Steps.'"

May 2008

Dear Diary,
I'm hooked. I've found myself in the garage more than at my computer. I wonder if it's feeling lonely? I honestly don't care. My only regret is splinters. There are days when I feel that there are more trips inside the house to remove a errant piece of wood from my finger than actually building something. I've become a human pincushion for birch, oak and walnut. Certainly nothing I ever had to deal with in computing. Blisters and pockmarked fingers make it hard to type. Maybe I'll go back into the garage....

August 2008

Dear Diary,
Splinters are now the least of my worries. Today I am the proud owner of a table saw. So far I'm so scared of it I have trouble using it. I envision gruesome dismemberment every time I power it on. Fortunately now people are also willing to share their horribly graphic accidents with me. People, stop it! That's not helping. I spend most of the conversation in my 'happy place' fighting the urge to hurl all over them. I've resolved to try out some hand tools.

September 2008

Dear Diary,
I'm never going to get it. I can't cut a straight line with scissors and a hand saw is even harder. So far I've cut and hurt myself more with my chisels and flush cut saw, then any power tool I own. There's a reason our ancestors evolved and harnessed electricity. The simple answer is that, 'Hand tools suck' and all the rants about 'craftsmanship' and 'patience' now will only fall on deaf ears. Here comes "SEVEN FINGERS BROWN" mangled but productive!

December 2008

Dear Diary,
I live eat and dream woodworking. I'm constantly covered in sawdust and machine oil fighting the cold for another hour in the shop. I have a ton to learn and I'm still looking for another soul I can hook on this hobby, but I think it has transcended 'fad' and become a full blown addiction. We will see if this goes to wayside that some of my other addictions have gone. As for right now, I hope not. There is something so gratifying about destroying innocent wood for fun.

Climbing into Coffee Cups

Somedays are just plain cold. There is nothing you can do to get warm. Today is one of those days. It is bitter cold here. Someone needs to call Al Gore and find out why the warming has stopped. I don't care if the polar bears are suffering, I want my global warming!

Days like this I feel like doing this:

Do you think the folks in my office will mind?

Understanding Hannah

My youngest daughter is a absolute nutcase. Her brain is a hodgepodge of crisscrossed wires that make her sister, who has Down Syndrome, seem completely rational by comparison.

For instance when Alexis wants something, it makes sense. She loves the television, waffles and her stuffed lion. In that order. If she is unhappy we can almost bet that one of the aforementioned items will make her happy. She gives awesome hugs, laughs hysterically when I tickle her and a game of peek-a-poo or silly faces can cheer her up in a hurry. Overall Alexis makes sense. She's not easy, but at least she is understandable.

Hannah is completely unpredictable. Hannah, who on any given day will wake up screaming something completely unbelievable. Here is a sampling from the short list. "I'm a girl! Hannah's a girl!","Mommy hurry! Hurry mommy I broke my leg!" Or my personal favorite. "I want a Happy Thanksgiving!"

This one took a bit of explaining. After a good 4 minutes of Daddy, who on any given day will be called, Mommy, Dad or Bo (please don't ask), trying to explain what Thanksgiving is and why I won't give it to my daughter.

"Please Dad, Hannah needs a Happy Thanksgiving."
"Hannah, I can't give it to you...uhmm, Here."
I extend an empty hand
"This is a Happy Thanksgiving. It's just a day. Not something I can give you."

After a bit of this, she walks away. I'm sure she already sees me as a senile old man, who obviously doesn't get it. Then for no apparent reason she'll run back in the room proclaiming that her friend the mirror is now named "Er Hannah". No we have no idea why.

I'm not saying that I'm not partially responsible for her condition. Hannah and I play strange games. Games like, "Steal the hat from the talking camel with the Indian accent" and other traditional Brown favorites like, "Put the flashlight in your mouth and groan", "Sing and tickle", "Jump on the couch pillow, then steal second base", "Spin till you hurl" or one of my personal favorites, "Clumsy Frankenstein Monster falling down in the hallway".

So is it's no wonder that the kid is bizarre. I mean who wouldn't be with this sort of a training regiment? I guess the point of this post is that I think she has one of the most interesting imaginations ever. I love coming home at night and having Patricia catch me up on all the quirky Hannah news.

"She ate her imaginary friends today."

"Okay, well....that's a little weird."

"Oh and Grandma had to help her get her face back on, after it slipped off onto the sidewalk."

"Hmm. So, just another typical day here?"