Skrip - tyur' - i - ent: adj. Possessing the violent desire to write.


#096 In which our hero is unenthusiastic.

In case you didn't catch it before, I live in Cleveland. And when I say that, it's not - as legion of stand-up comedians would have you believe - in a hang-dawg, down-and-out, "I live in Cleveland, the city who's river caught fire, so please pity me" way... but neither is it in a chipper, "I live in Cleveland! The birthplace of rock and roll!!" fashion either. It's just a fact: I live in Cleveland.

I find myself neither excited or disappointed about it. I didn't choose to live in Cleveland, I moved here to be with The Scientist. I used to live in Columbus (Ohio, or course) and I enjoyed that city quite a bit. But, I think that has more to do with the fact that it was where I moved to from the tiny, podunk village I grew up in.

Anyway, today's meanderings were inspired by The Midwest Grrl's post today.

Man, that girl loves Cleveland. I find myself jealous of her love. I wish I were passionate about the city. I think it would be great to evangelize to people about the beauty and wonder that is Cleveland... to sneer and correct people when they use Cleveland as a punch line, to leap into an over-produced production number and shout, "Cleveland Rocks!"

But I don't care that much, really. I mean, the city has given me opportunities, which is cool. But, the job opportunity that originally brought me to Cleveland turned sour and plunged me into a year and a half of unemployment that was nearly the worst period of my adult life. I've met some great people in Cleveland, but I have to drive more than a hour across town to hang out with some of them. So it's give and take, y'know?

I don't hate the city, but I don't love it, either. I just live here. Of course, when the snow comes down in great smothering blankets of white and gray, I often say to The Scientist, "You couldn't have lived in Virginia? Or someplace warm?" But, I always follow up that thought with, "Well, at least Cleveland knows how to plow the streets on a timely basis."

Am I apathetic? Or just wishy-washy? I can't even come up with a clever way to end this entry. I guess all I can say is this:

Thanks, Cleveland, for not completely sucking.


#095 In which our hero celebrates a milestone and stuff.

Nothing major to report, just a few odds and ends:

A week ago I got my automatic renewal notice for That means I've been at this thing for a year. Happy birthday! Not a major milestone for you maybe, but I'm rather impressed with myself. And with ninety-four entries on the books, I've been updating about every four days. That doesn't suck.

My oldest daughter is currently on an Elmo fast. The whole watching Elmo videos over and over thing was becoming a little obsessive, so The Scientist thought it best to cut out all Elmo-related viewing for a while. The results have been that Lily is reading her books more and is less whiney. Of course, she still launches into "Elmo-Elmo-Elmo!!" now and again, but we gently correct her and say, "That's not Elmo, that's your daddy" or what-not. Of course, the little girl looks at us like, "Are you kidding me? Am I being raised by morons? I'm not talking about that guy, I'm talking about my secret lover on TV! Keep up, would'ya?" The Scientist's plan is to re-introduce Elmo at a latter date, sometime when Lily isn't expecting it. I think that will be akin to handing an alcoholic a shot of whiskey with his 100 day sober pin, but we'll see.

Did I tell you I got a new car? 2005 Ford Focus. I have to say I like it a lot. The father-in-law came with me to do the haggling since I hate that shit and am no good at it, and he got me a good deal, I think. I'm just happy to have a vehicle in which the gas gauge and radio work. I dig the styling, too... sorta looks like a space ship. Now that I have one I've started to notice just how many Ford Foci there are on the road.


#094 In which our hero dreams of space.

Several years ago I worked at a newspaper. At this newspaper, management held a yearly event in which they brought in speakers, held workshops and had a big, fancy dinner at the end of it all. This was meant to be motivating, of course. Since it was nominally a sales job, and I loathe sales, I saw it as an opportunity to get off the phone for a couple hours more than the chance to hone my sales skills. But I digress.

One year our featured speaker was Nancy Currie, a space shuttle astronaut. I was interested in her speech because it wasn't the typical fare of tips and hints to sell better, faster, stronger! but rather the details of what it felt like to go into space.

Man, I want to go into space.

When I started to write this, the shuttle countdown was still on. Two and a half years since the space shuttle Columbia blazed death across the sky, we were getting back on the horse. We were about to show mother Earth that we were no slave to her gravity, that we would damn well come and go as we pleased.

Of course, the countdown has been called off since then. A malfunctioning fuel gauge scrubbed the mission.

I started writing intending to express just how important this launch is... by successfully putting that craft back into orbit NASA would prove that the dozens of previous launches weren't flukes, that rather the shuttle is sound, and that the two most recent American space disasters (Challenger and Columbia) were the exception, not the rule.

You see, here's the thing: we need to go into space. Other than the deepest Atlantic rifts, humans have conquered this planet. Sure, sure, the planets bites back every now and again with hurricanes and earthquakes and new virus strains... but still, we're calling the shots. So we need something else to conquer, something else to inspire us to great things. And lacking this challenge, you end up with things like the Iraqi war.

Speaking of which, our current douche-bag of a president vomited out some powerful sound-bites about going to Mars, but that's clearly bullshit to distract the masses from the atrocities being carried out by this administration, home and abroad. When JFK declared that America was going to place a man on the moon, "...not because it is easy, but because it is hard," the country damn-well did just that in less than 10 years. I'll fall over dead if America puts another man on the moon by 2015, let alone Mars.

Anyway... I can't really blame NASA for being cautious. More than just the lives of this crew are on the line, the very future of the space program is. If Discovery blows up either on its way out or way in to the atmosphere, that's it. There would be a huge outcry. Manned space exploration would be abandoned. Humans would become the permanent prisoners of the Earth. I have no doubt.

So, if Discovery doesn't go, if NASA and the administration and ultimately, America, chickens out and doesn't get back into the space game, then we never will.

No moon base. No intergalactic travel. No flying cars.

I'm hoping that the mission gets back on track soon. I'm hoping that all goes well. I'm hoping that everyone involved is willing to take the chance.

And I'm hoping that in 20 years, my kids aren't lamenting how they never got their flying cars.


#093 In which our hero does not speak.

There is a strange dynamic in my new workplace.

Remember that this new agency strictly does Web stuff, so my co-workers are all pretty "techy" by nature, certainly more so than I am. Everyone (expect me) has two computers on their desk, one PC and one Mac. This makes perfect sense, being that Web pages often display differently in the different platforms. Since I'm the writer, I don't need two computers. Words look the same pretty much regardless of platform.

Anyway, one of the first things I was instructed to do on my first day was set up an AIM account. This is the instant messaging system we use internally. I thought that was kinda cool, being able to send someone a quick message to confirm they got my files, or whatever. This makes perfect sense in a large, multi-floor agency. Quicker than a phone call or email.

But, the weird thing is, this isn't a large agency. There are nine people total on staff, and I sit in the same room with four of them. And when I say "sit in the same room," I mean that literally. The front area of the building is one big room, about 20' deep and 15' across. Another guy is in the loft above this room, and the office of one of the partners is directly behind me through an archway. Only the other partner and the sole account executive are in the back of the building. In other words, I could speak to just about everyone in the agency without even raising my voice.

But, the weird dynamic is that no-one talks. Everyone uses the IM system. It's rather bizarre. And I find myself doing the same thing... instead of saying, "Hey, did you make those changes?" to the designer who sits four feet away, I type out this same statement and IM it to her. And while this "conversation" is going on, we don't look at each other either, our eyes stay glued to our screens. Like I said, odd.

I asked the account executive about this (via IM, of course) and she said that she thinks people do it to help define their personal space. Which sorta makes sense to me... no-one has a real office, we don't even have cubbie walls. It's very much like a 1950's office where people just had their desk, and everything was open. I dig it, to be honest. But you can imagine you have walls if you're not speaking across the space, I guess. Also, almost everyone is plugged into their iPods at all times (but not me, I find it hard to concentrate on my writing with music on).

But what makes the situation really odd is that sometimes the IM conversation will turn into a vocal conversation mid-stream. I often do this when I think the IM communication isn't cutting it. The result is a little off-putting. There is silence broken only by the sound of tapping on keyboards, when someone suddenly says, "But the yellow really makes it pop, don't you think?" Or, a verbal conversation will suddenly veer back into IM, making it seem like two people just suddenly stopped talking without properly ending their conversation.

It's just a hard thing to


#092 In which our hero obeys Elmo.

Elmo has swallowed my daughter's soul.

I guess I'm not surprised it happened, Elmo is, after all, a wildly successful and carefully crafted marketing machine aimed at the pre-school market. What surprises me is just how quickly Elmo worked his insidious charm on my impressionable princess.

Like so much evil in my life, it started at daycare. Our daycare provider, whom The Scientist and I absolutely love, had the "Chicken Dance Elmo" toy. It's a little obnoxious, but it did teach my daughter to flap her arms like a chicken, which is very funny indeed. And that is the problem... we didn't recognize the threat to our way of life quickly enough. Had we seen it, we might have been able to put the kibosh on it promptly.

But, it wasn't really a problem. Not until the other major source of evil in my life, my father-in-law, got involved. While he was here last he bought "Hokey Pokey Elmo." Now the graven image of Elmo was in my very home. Lily played with this toy, but not obsessively or anything. We continued to be lulled.

Then, the last straw. My father-in-law bought an Elmo video. Needless to say, it was a big hit. So much so, that Lily wanted to do little else but watch the damn thing. She quickly learned how to stick the VHS tape in the machine and is this close to figuring out which buttons to push on the remote to make it go.

But then, the unthinkable. I had the little girl with me at the supermarket, and we were passing by the DVDs for sale bin...

And I bought her a new Elmo video.

I know! I didn't think the Elmo madness could affect grown-ups, but apparently it can! Lily was just so cute, and the video was about animals and fish... and she does love animals and fish...

So I did it. To my eternal shame, I did it.

This is how my morning went: I came downstairs to find that Lily was already awake, and Nana had brought her down. The TV was on, but Nana can't quite figure out how to work the DVD player. Lily sees me and immediately jumps up, remote control in hand.
LILY: Elmo!
ME: Looks who's awake already! Can Daddy have a hug?
LILY: Elmo! Elmo!
ME: Do you want some breakfast?
LILY: No! Elmo! Elmo!
All the while she has this look on her face like, "Why is Elmo not playing right now? Jesus, guy, I know you know how to turn on the DVD. How clearer do I need to be?"

So, yeah, I let her watch Elmo. I know, I know... shame on me. I feel pretty bad about it. The Scientist and I probably watch too much TV as it is, we really don't need to instill this slacker mentality in our year and a half old.

But who I am I disobey the power that is Elmo?