January 31, 2007

You Know You're Stressed When...

There are numerous signs that you're reaching your breaking point. Due to a workload of ridiculous and overwhelming proportions, I'm exhibiting several of them. Take it from me - you should be scared if...

...you're on day three of an obscene tension headache (this big!) that just won't seem to die.

...you've recently had a dream in which you play a previously undiscovered role in the short-lived predominately African-American 70's situation comedy, What's Happening's infamous two-part Doobie Brothers episode (titled - really - Doobie or Not Doobie). Somehow, however, you managed to get tangled up in a successful plot to steal a submarine. It was kinda like 24 only, well, not.

...you hear about the Stonehenge discovery and automatically play the corresponding scene from This Is Spinal Tap over and over again in your head with the volume cranked to 11.

...you realize that the amount of messages in your inbox flagged for follow-up is roughly double your age.

...you find yourself thinking you know, Paris Hilton actually is kinda hot.

...you're watching TV and an Army recruitment ad comes on, one in which a kid is trying to explain why going into the Army is a hot-shit idea and you notice that you're yelling at the TV, something about the U.S.' joke of a foreign policy and the mounting body count of soldiers and civilians in ludicrous oversees conflicts...

...you sit, head in hands, pondering the next witty line for your blog but you just can't manage to get it from your head to your hands through your fingers and onto the screen and, instead, you just keep typing in the hope that something brilliant will find it's way onto the page.

And there you have it. If you exhibit any of these signs, you may be in trouble. I know I am. But before I return to the shark-pit that is work, I owe you guys a verdict on the third most popular search term to bring folks to my site. I'm sad to report that no one picked picked it. There were many possibilities - Beth, sothefishsaid, Mia, Miabean, asshat, schadenfreude, haiku, midgets, fucktard, asschancelor (I just made that one up), fucktrukin' (that one too), and cactusfish, to name a few - but no one came up with The Da Vinci Code. Seriously. I shit you not. The Da Vinci Code is the third most popular search string bringing people by my humble online abode. Behold the power of Dan Brown.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (48)

January 30, 2007

Search String Madness: The End of an Era

Mid-month, I moved to a brand-spankin' new server where my site sits and plays nicely with Beth's site and broadcasts itself for all you fine people to see. Whilst cleaning off my old server, I figured it was worth sharing the final round of search strings from the old Rude Cactus homestead. Without further ado...

  • Five thing you can do with a food processor. Well, there's the obvious - process food. To round out the five I'll offer these. Create the world's first - and slowest - outboard boat motor capable of slicing and dicing seafood as you travel. Devise the deadliest ceiling fan in history. Give terrible haircuts to yourself and your family. And finally turn it on, toss in some marbles and play a fun game of "Shrapnel".
  • Sneezing right. Can't help you. I'm a liberal sneezer. I only sneeze left.
  • Don't gimme that look you son of a bitch. I'll look at you however I want, asshat. My site, not yours.
  • Fanny magnets. For those of you who want to adorn your steel-plated asses.
  • Trim ass. Why, thank you. It's been working out. (Wait, that really sounded bad.)
  • Midget brothels. Are you shitting me? As much as I've contemplated midgets, I've never thought of such a thing. And I'm not sure I want to think of such a thing.
  • My pleated skirt. Shows off my trim ass.
  • Cheez-its Attack. The supposedly bottomless well of great sci-fi movie ideas has finally run dry. Next? The Day of the Triscuits.
  • Rehydrating a cat. Dude, don't turn your pets into jerky. That ain't right.
  • Oprah Winfrey Full of Shit. You said it...I'm not disagreeing but you said it.
  • Albino Town, Pennsylvania. Bet it's not hard to find the white side of town.
  • Britney Spears Lindsey Lohan Crotch Pictures on Purpose. Why would you want to see that...on purpose?
  • Willy Ames. Wow. There's a name you don't hear everyday. Someone's digging deap.
  • Titty Cup. The stuff of legend, the Titty Cup is awarded to the winners of the Boobie Bowl.
  • Def Leppard Promises Codes. I hear Dan Brown is currently working on this, the follow-up to his bestselling Da Vinci Code. Spoiler alert - the first riddle that must be solved is actually an anagram of the word "Hysteria" written in Sharpie on some chick's bra from 1989.
  • Tupac and Leonardo Da Vinci. Rumored to be the third in Brown's Da Vinci trilogy, this hefty volume will be called The Da Vinci Code: The Legacy of Muthafuckers, Bitch.
  • Rude Geography. Take a look at the globe, here, and you'll find You're-A-Dick Point jutting into Fuck Off Bay. If you're traveling nearby, stop in Sit-On-It-And-Rotate Junction and enjoy a nice sandwich while relaxing in St. Douchebag Park.

As a special bonus, for a limited time only, I'll give you a fresh, piping-hot mixed CD if you can the third most popular search strings that brought people to my site throughout the last three years. The first two are pretty obvious - rude cactus and cactus. The third? It's tougher but it's mentioned in this post...somewhere.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (47)

January 29, 2007

The Lamest Weekend Recap Ever

I'm not entirely sure how, but it's somehow Monday again. I'm not 100% happy about that either. But I am happy to report that we managed another great weekend. The weekend brought me to several nice (or strange) pieces of news.


One: Mia's vocabulary is expanding rapidly. Notable this weekend was the addition of the word "Paul" to her beanariffic lexicon. Yes, Paul. As in Newman. Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy (or was he The Sundance Kid?) and the guy on our salad dressing. Sadly, Mia only truly comprehends this last accomplishment. Our daughter is obsessed with salad dressing. We're not sure why. But at least we haven't heard the f-bomb yet.

Two: I'm going to be an uncle. I might have accidentally mentioned this before (I think I spilled the beans way before I was supposed to), but my sister-in-law is going to have a kid. Sometime over the summer, Mia's going to have a little cousin.

Three: Mia got to spend the entirety of Sunday evening with...wait for it...a dog! It was pretty much the coolest thing ever, even when aforementioned dog stole a piece of French bread from her chubby little hands. At some point today I fully expect her to cough up a hairball from all the kissing she and that dog did.

Four: This week will see my parent's forty-third wedding anniversary. Isn't that just a truly amazing number? I grew up knowing - and still know - people who have horror stories about their childhood. Their parents divorced at some point or a parent died or they were somehow terrorized by one or both parents. I've never been able to figure out what any of these things feel like. My parents, 43 years after getting married and 34 years after bringing me into the world, are still going strong.

And that's all I've got. Yeah. I know, lame, right? But I've got a massive headache and a pretty nasty case of The Mondays. So, tell me about your weekends.

Posted by Chris at 7:18 AM | Comments (48)

Haiku For Monday #155

Once upon a time
There was a day named Monday.
He was an asshat.

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (8)

January 27, 2007

Sabado Gigante

Closely guarded secret...


...I'm actually 12 feet tall.

Posted by Chris at 12:08 PM | Comments (25)

January 26, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Let's All Go To Rehab!

One thing you can count on in this world - besides death, taxes and Paris Hilton being a skank - is the stupidity of your fellow man. I'm happy to report that this week was no exception.

Isaiah Washington, who does the healing as a doctor on "Grey's Anatomy," is the patient now. He's in therapy for his use of an anti-gay slur against a castmate. Washington took a break from filming Tuesday to meet with gay rights activists and offer help in educating the public about the cruelty of such words, an offer the activists called sincere. Whether Washington was receiving outpatient counseling or had entered a facility was not specified, and the statement did not indicate whether he would miss work on the show.

It was during an on-set quarrel last October with co-star Patrick Dempsey that Washington reportedly used the slur about Knight, who was not present. Although Washington apologized publicly at the time, the issue boiled up again at the Jan. 15 Golden Globes when he denied using the epithet.


If there's any single lesson we've learned from celebrities over the last year or so it's this. Fuck up? Enter rehab. Problem solved. If you have a pesky problem you want to make disappear? Find your local alcohol/drug/sex/homophobia/racist/idiot recovery center, fork up some major dough, and you too can be saved. As for the show? Kill off Dr. McHomophoby stat! Just don't replace him with, uh, Michael Richards.

New Schadenfreude Low Of The Week: Not even burger flippers want to be associated with K-Fed.

The "So What's Next" Schadenfreude: Anne Heche is back on the market. Transvestites and gender-confused dwarfs jockey for position.

Dead Guitarist Sell-Out Schadenfreude: Stay awake in that crosstown traffic, foxy lady! Hendrix energy drink is on the way.

Posted by Chris at 6:51 AM | Comments (22)

January 25, 2007

Self-Control

Yesterday, you might have noticed that I managed to avoid commenting about the State of the Union address delivered by the President on Tuesday night. I bet some of you were expecting me to break out the proverbial can of whoop-ass and give Dubya what-fer. But I didn't. I didn't say a damn thing.

Specifically, I didn't talk about the fact that some of his smugness was gone, how he seemed slightly humbled, subdued, and even conciliatory on Tuesday night whilst waxing philosophic about the things that needed to get done in our fair nation all the while avoiding mention of the whole Iraq thing until the second half of the speech. I didn't mention the bold talk of fixing social security and health care or leaving no children behind, each of these initiatives left floundering while buckets full of cash are flushed directly down the toilet that is our foreign policy. Now that I think about it, I didn't mention immigration either. Nor did I rant about the commitment to discover and harness alternative energy sources. I especially didn't say anything about the reference to wind energy. If I had, I'd have mentioned that, under a somewhat obscure law invoked continuously since 9-11, the government has blocked construction of every single wind turbine project proposed.

What I find most surprising is the fact that I didn't mention Iraq at all. I didn't even cite the following quote which scared the bejesus out of me:

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that is the case, America is still a nation at war.

Because if I were to follow that type of logic, coupled with earlier statements about the continuous threat of terrorism, to it's terrible zenith I'd discover that we had a president who didn't envision a time at which we're not at war. And that might make me really, really nervous. I also didn't discuss this quote:
These men [terrorists] are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East.

If I had, I would have been quick to mention that, while these individuals and groups are certainly dangerous and constitute a threat of unbelievable proportions, terrorists know just as much about propaganda and spin as Bill O'Reilly and United States presidents. Everyone talks out of their asses sometimes. (In an Escher-like, circular reference, please see the State of the Union Address from January 22, 2007 for an example.)

I didn't mention that democracy, while a nice idea and my governmental style of choice, may not be for everyone. And that we ought not gallop through other parts of the world on our high horses until we realize that our democracy has survived a scant 200 years, a rather inconsequential grain of sand in a vast dune of civilization.

I didn't talk about the incessant masturbatory clapping that punctuated almost every sentence delivered from the rostrum. I didn't mention the competition between Dick and Nancy to see who could be the first to clap, the first to stand. Nor did I mention the half-smile half-sneer Dick gave the camera or the autograph signings that seemed to last forever. I didn't mention that, half an hour in, Dick and Dubya took a swig of water at the exact same time, their movements eerily similar in timing and duration. I didn't admit that, for just a split second, I wondered if Dubya, Muppet-like, had Dick's hand up his ass working the controls.

I didn't mention any of this because I am, after all, a model of self-restraint. I think you'll all agree.

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (26)

January 24, 2007

Weirdness At The Cactus Pad

The other day, I noticed that we've got some weird happenings going on in our house. Some strange stuff to see and, as always, to hear. I figured today was as good a day as any to provide you with a run down.

Here are the cats. They're not quite as much fun as they used to be.


Then there's the irony found in the juxtaposition of books and their places in the bookcase. See, the exact places in which our books reside change from day to day. I decide I want to read something that's been on the shelves forever; Mia decides she wants all the books on the bottom shelf to reside elsewhere; then I decide the books need to be arranged by height. You get the picture. The irony comes in when you look at the two lowly volumes that have occupied the same place forever, as yet unread and unloved. Ironic, especially when you consider the shared word in the titles of each. Survival of the fittest, eh?

There's danger lurking around every corner as well. I'm not sure how, but I've managed to avoid showering with these fluffy companions despite the fact that this is what I'm presented with each time I try. If there's a lesson here, it's probably be sure to scrub behind Pooh Corner.

Mia keeps the carnival side-show that is our lives bright and funny and wonderful. By wearing Beth's panties on her head. (For the record, Beth would like you to know that she generally wears sexier panties than these. This was, perhaps, an off-day. I'm not entirely sure why she wants you to know this but consider the message delivered.)

Then there are the auditory signs that Beth and I are, perhaps, losing our minds. Last night, for example, we were discussing sign language (as we are teaching Mia a lot of it). At one point, I found myself asking, What's the sign for bootylicious? Then, the random football conversation, apropos of precisely nothing...

Me: So, the Green Bay Packers...
Her: Yes...
Me: Their fans wear the cheese on their heads.
Her: Yeah.
Me: I know they come from a dairy-rich state and all but, what do they pack? Cheese?
Her: What are you talking about?
Me: The packers. Did they pack cheese?
Her: Huh?
Me: What did they pack? If not cheese, what? And don't say fudge.
Her: I think they packed meat.
Me: So, why don't they wear meat on their heads? That just doesn't seem right.

(By the way, as I've been promising for quite some time, the blogroll is finally updated. So check it out and let me know if you don't see yourself!)

Posted by Chris at 7:18 AM | Comments (55)

January 23, 2007

An Honor Just To Be Nominated

I rarely talk about work, but...

Yesterday, I went to a very large meeting attended by most of the people with whom I work. In front of these people - 300 or so - I was presented an award. Not just any award but the most prestigious award my company hands out...and they don't hand it out often. I didn't know beforehand so I'm sure I had that deer in the headlights look you see on people when their meth labs get raided by swat teams in the middle of the night. But I was surprised, honored and more than a little validated (you recall my post last week in which I discussed the fact that I constantly worry about getting canned, right?). It was, quite honestly, humbling.

Of course, if I didn't have a bit of Woody Allen-like anxiety over the whole thing, something wouldn't be right. You see, in addition to recognition and a nice pat on the back for a job well done, this award comes with a trip. One pretty much wherever I want so long as it's in North America. Great, right? Except that I hate to fly and I'm the dad of an eighteen month old who I am loathe to be away from for longer than your average work day (and even that's a stretch). So, while we're in the early stages of noodling this one through, I have to ask you two questions.

1. If you'd won an trip pretty much anywhere you wanted to go for three to five days, would you take your 18 to 24 month old child?

2. Let's say you said yes to the first question - where would you go? Let's say you said no. Same question.

Color me curious. Tell me what you think.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (100)

January 22, 2007

Snow!

It's winter! How did I arrive at this stunning conclusion? After seventy-degree days more appropriate for Aruba than Washington DC in January, Old Man Winter broke out a little snow for us. Sure, it didn't really amount to all that much but it was nice to have our first snow of the winter.


After a little bit of snow accumulated (and, as it turned out, only a little accumulated during the entire storm so please to be explaining the 30 abandoned cars I spied on the way to work this morning), we bundled Mia up and headed outside to play. She loved (or was, at the very least, mildly interested in) the snow last year. But this year? Um. Not a hit. By any stretch of the imagination. Now, she's very particular, as most toddlers are, but she was pretty concerned about the snow, specifically that someone better get their ass in gear and clean up this gigantic white mess. She refused to walk on it. Hated the fact that it accumulated on our coats. It was as if we'd turned loose a pack of rabid Oompa Loompas on her (feel free to insert your own, more normal, simile here).

With all due haste, we returned to the comfort of our home and stayed there, as we did much of the cold weekend, to watch the snow from a safe distance, play, color, read, sleep and spend 48 hours of our lives with each other, right where we should be.

Best thing overheard all weekend:
Beth: Can you say mullet?
Mia: Muwah
Beth: Yes, mullet.
Mia: Mullah.
Beth: Yay! Mullet!
Mia: Squee!

I haven't asked yet. I'm not sure I want to know.

Posted by Chris at 7:41 AM | Comments (40)

Haiku For Monday #154

Monday, why you do
me like this, week after week?
Take a chill pill, yo.

Posted by Chris at 7:39 AM | Comments (5)

January 19, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Dazed on Radio

My Schadenfreude cup runneth over...and hopefully so does my morning cup of coffee...

According to the Sacramento Bee...

Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer will be announcing a wrongful death lawsuit Thursday in the death of Jennifer Strange, 28, a Rancho Cordova mother of three who died hours after a water-drinking contest at a local radio station. The suit will be filed against The End (KDND 107.9 FM) on behalf of Strange's husband and three children, ages 11 months, 3 and 10 years, according to a Sacramento public relations firm.

Strange died Friday in her Rancho Cordova home. Earlier in the day, she participated in a "Hold your wee for a Wii" contest -- drinking what one contestant said was nearly two gallons of water in the kitchen of the station's Madison Avenue office. The idea of the contest was to drink as much water without going to the bathroom; Strange came in second place. The Sacramento County Coroner said an autopsy shows Strange had no serious medical conditions and a death consistent with water intoxication.


Now, I realize there are a few different ways of looking at this but no matter which perspective from which you prefer to view the situation, there are three kids who aren't getting their mom back.

Strange, by most accounts, signed a waiver intended to absolve the radio station of any blame. Multiple callers chimed in warning that something like this may happen. In clips of the show I've heard - arguably the most uncomfortable radio I've heard in a long, long time - the DJs acknowledge this and even joke about death. So does Strange. Following the tragedy, the entire morning team of DJs as well as a few other radio station employees were fired.

I ask you - who's at fault? Who, if anyone, should be held accountable?

The Most Foreseeable Schadenfreude: Lindsay Lohan Checks Into Rehab, Dozens of Bartenders Mourn

Separation of Church and State Schadenfreude: Methodists Oppose Bush Library at Southern Methodist University, Ministers Placed on Terrorist Watch List

Paging Dr. Schadenfreude: Grey's Anatomy Cast Member Opens Mouth Again: Tonguectomy Recommended

Posted by Chris at 7:30 AM | Comments (34)

January 18, 2007

Triggers

Remember that episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy, on a vacation through Europe, made up her mind to soak up the local Italian culture so she went to a winery and stomped grapes and, eventually, got into a major bitchslap smackdown with a hefty Italian lady who eventually got her ass kicked? I kinda felt like those grapes yesterday. And maybe the fat Italian grape-stomper too.

This is mainly due to the fact that I'm pretty tired. After a weekend of great sleeping, Mia's decided she's not so into catching the z's after all. Then there's work, although up until yesterday that had been a little slower than normal. And then there's my head. That's a different story altogether.

See, everyone has ways of dealing with the world and the shit around them. We all react differently to said world...and said shit. Me? I'm perhaps a little paranoid or just not as optimistic as I should be. Yesterday, for instance, I got a meeting request from my boss. I immediately assumed the worst, namely that I was getting fired (I didn't, and the meeting was all good). This is a typical example of my thought process. Hear something that may vaguely be about me and assume the worst. You guys don't comment? The blogosphere must think I suddenly suck and I've been abandoned. I don't have a busy day packed with meetings and an inbox full of stuff to read? I'm doing a lousy job, everyone recognizes that I suck and they're just waiting to kick me off a project.

Now, logically, I realize this isn't the way the world works not am I translating this input correctly. I know this. The world isn't all about me. But how do you change that instantaneous translation from input to paranoia? A while back - two years ago, maybe - I went to see a shrink. A cognitive behavior shrink, because, frankly, all this negativity was bringing me down. He and I worked for a good chunk of time to change these triggers. And it worked, for the most part. But some days, the paranoia just sneaks in. And some days it feels like the world is all about me. Not in a good way.

I'm not sure why I mention this. It's funny because no one would really guess unless I told them. The people with whom I interact on a daily basis always comment how upbeat I am. Yesterday felt a little rough but, in retrospect, it all went pretty well. And even when days suck, I have a pretty great family to come home to.

Eh, that's what's rattling around in my head today. Sorry to lay the heavy on you two days in a row. I've got some funny in here somewhere. Fail that, there's always that episode of I Love Lucy.

What truth about you wouldn't anyone guess?

Posted by Chris at 7:33 AM | Comments (56)

January 17, 2007

Ask For The Moon In The Morning

I have a recent picture of Mia on my desk. It's one of several we had printed for relatives and friends. When I looked at the sheet of wallet sized photos closely for the first time, I was almost instantly taken aback.

What no one tells parents is that, for the first few months of life, their child will have many things in common with a loaf of bread. This isn't bad - I'm not passing judgment here. It's just the truth. You plop a baby down on the floor, it'll pretty much lie there like a loaf of bread. Try to teach your newborn infant to go long and catch a pass, you'll have about the same amount of luck with a loaf of bread. Engage your fresh-out-of-the-womb child in conversation - any conversation at all - and you might as well be chatting with, yes, a loaf of bread. Both just kind of lie there and both have a nice pleasant aroma most of the time. One slight difference - rarely do loaves of bread scream throughout the night.



When I looked at that freshly-printed picture I saw not that little non-interactive loaf-like bundle of cuteness that I love so much but a full-fledged little girl. I realize this shouldn't be surprising. Time marches on and everyone is subject to its whims. Even my little girl. My little girl who must be accompanies nearly everywhere by her stuffed dog, her blanket, her pillow, her monkey and Elmo. My little girl who brushes her hair out of her face in a way that reminds me of all that is good in the world each time she does it. My little girl who, when asked where Elmo (who she just shut in her little kitchen's microwave for the thirty-seventh time) is, shrugs lifting her shoulders in a way that I can imagine repeated when I ask her how her first day of high school was. My little girl who kisses me awake and asks for the moon in the morning.

In another eighteen months, I'm sure I'll be right back here saying the same general things with different specifics. What I ask for in the mean time is a button with which I can stop time, capture these moments - these shrugs, kisses, gestures and requests for the moon - in such a way that I may always remember just how today, tomorrow and the day after felt. The only buttons I have with any kinds of similar powers are the ones on my camera and the one that say 'publish' just below this window, the one I'm going to push now, and capture the moon.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (50)

January 16, 2007

Spam: Annoying? Entertaining? Why Choose!

I hate spam. I'm not sure I know anyone who doesn't. But I have to say, there's some entertainment value in it. Now, I'll warn you before you go any further that what follows is pretty damn inappropriate.

A couple days ago, I was going through all the crap my spam filter caught in my inbox. Turns out Gmail got a bit overzealous and there were some actual messages in there for me. In rooting around though the trash, I found a few things that made me laugh, and some that just confused me. Especially the ones that seemed to imply I needed to add a little, uh, long in my schlong, if you know what I mean. Allow me to illustrate using these real-life, totally unedited examples courtesy of my inbox.

  • Test the sweets of your life yourself Gummy bears? What do gummy bears have to do with my wang?
  • Are you tired of staring at Playboy to get erection? Look, I don't want to get all TMI on you but if I was going for something like that, it so wouldn't be Playboy.
  • Adding a few more inches to your thing And here I was confused about where those inches were going. Thanks for clearing that up.
  • Your penis can be young again If my penis is planning out outliving me, I guess I need to change my will accordingly.
  • You don't know what is more important - length or girth Do I have to choose?
  • Take your award, Mr. Smallest Ramrod 2006! Thanks! First, it's an honor just to be nominated. I'd like to thank my mom...
  • With penis enlarge patch your penis will grow through the night One question - where does the patch go? Because I can see removal being an issue in certain scenarios.
  • You get the professional penis Does that mean I can't compete in the Penis Olympics?
  • Understand your stack size and never give up Stack? Stack what? I'm afraid.
  • You will be ready for the breaking of sexual records Are you Russian? What's up with the funny accent?
  • Everything in your pants will be strong Everything?
  • Super Cialis will give you the power that the ocean will be too shallow for you I'm confused. Where does the ocean come into this? Or do I want to know? Maybe the penis becomes so large it influences the tides? Or something?
  • Don't want no short meat man Short Meat Man, one of the lesser-known superheroes.
  • My father has the biggest dick in our family Thanks for sharing. Delete! Delete!
  • Bogus penis enlargement pills Whew! Thanks for the warning! Almost taken in again!
  • Go shakesperean on my erasure Forsooth, I'm afraid thou dost make no sense. And the Little Bard is fine the way it is, thanks.
  • Wanna hold a brick on your dick? Not particularly but thanks for checking.
Posted by Chris at 7:10 AM | Comments (41)

January 15, 2007

Weekend Recap: The Housekeeping Edition

Take a look around. Anything look different? No, I didn't think so. But this whole place has actually undergone a radical transformation (think Joan Rivers, except, no, don't...it's way too early on a Monday to think of that) thanks to Beth. See, for years, we've had a billion (or five) different servers running different sites. It's been confusing and slightly expensive. For months, Beth has been urging me to join her in a pretty world of centralized servers a nice new upgraded version of MoveableType. Since my site was already flaky at best on Friday I figured, what the hell.

So, here I am, looking all, uh, the same, but a couple things have changed. First, as I've promised over and over again for the past several months, I'll be finalizing and posting my updated blogroll soon. Second, I didn't manage to import my notification list; if you've been getting an email notification as soon as I update and would like that to continue, please mention that in your comments or drop me an email.

Now, you know how I feel about this site and how much I freak out when something goes wrong. I'd like you all to know that I handled this whole migration with remarkable patience and calm. I think even Beth - the mastermind behind the process - would agree. I didn't get drunk, develop the shakes, or curl into the fetal position asking for my mommy before or during the change. I'm rather proud of that. Probably because I knew Beth had it all handled. I used to be the technical one in this house. When it comes to this stuff, though, Beth's far surpassed me.

The rest of the weekend - the part not absorbed by obsession over my site, hitting reload every seven seconds - was wonderful. I had two wonderful days with my girls, my funny, funny girls. And there was sleep. Yes, the skies parted and angels sung from on high and we all got wonderful, blessed sleep. And I was awakened each morning by Mia kisses. That and a new blog? That's quite a weekend, my friends.

Posted by Chris at 7:16 AM | Comments (30)

Haiku For Monday #153

I have a dream too
One that involves a day off
On MLK day.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (11)

January 12, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: The Cactus Outage Edition

Before I jump into the knee-deep pool of schadenfreude I've managed to collect from all flooding of idiocy I've noticed this week, I wanted to let you know that it seems my hosting provider is having some difficulty with the server I'm on. Which means that my site has been down quite frequently. And may be again soon. So, the first real victim of schadenfreude I'd like to mention is me. Having this site down drives me absolutely ape-shit. So have fun watching me squirm.

The Case of the Construction Worker and the Naked Plunge
According to The Washington Post...

A naked construction worker fell about four stories to his death early yesterday at the work site for a new downtown museum, D.C. police and fire officials said. Joseph Oliver, 23, of La Plata was discovered about 6 a.m. in the basement elevator shaft area of the Newseum, which is being built at 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, officials said. Authorities said it was unclear why he was naked. "It appears he may have fallen from the fourth floor because there were clothes and personal belongings on that level," said Assistant Fire Chief Larry Schultz.

So, yes, the guy's dead and no matter how many rubber chickens or whoopie cushions you try to throw into that picture, death just isn't funny. But bad reporting is. Check out that last sentence. It appears as if he may have falln from the fourth floor because there were clothes and personal belongings on that level. Am I the only one who read that then mentally pictured a scenario in which an already naked dude stumbled upon some clothes and personal belongings on the floor then, shocked, flung himself off the windowless floor? Probably. I'm strange like that. But so is language.

Habla Dumb-Ass?
From the AP...

A school bus driver let Rachel Armstrong's three children board the bus Monday morning, but he warned them that he wouldn't give them a ride home that afternoon, nor could they ever ride his route again. The problem, according to Armstrong: her 10-year-old twin girls and 8-year-old son speak English. She says school administrators told her the route had been designated for non-English speakers only.

Look, I hate to sound like some countrified, conservative jingoistic idiot but it seems to me, in this country, language should never bar a person from anything. Especially the English language. You know, the one that most of us, to some degree or another, speak?

Habla Dumb-Ass...Redux
From the pages of the Chicago Tribune...

Calling the situation in Iraq "unacceptable," President Bush told a war-weary American public Wednesday night that he is sending an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq with the hope that Iraqis will take control of their own strife-torn nation's security by November.

Yet the president, while insisting that his controversial increased military commitment is not "open-ended," refused to set any specific timeframe for success in a conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis in nearly four years of warfare.

Instead, in a prime-time televised speech from the White House aimed at regaining lost public support, Bush conceded serious mistakes in Iraq. These include a costly underestimation of the military force required to secure Iraq against "a vicious cycle of sectarian violence that continues today" and an insurgency intent on overturning the government elected after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people—and it is unacceptable to me," Bush said. "Our troops in Iraq have fought bravely. … Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

Finally, for once, I could not agree more with the President. At least as far as that last sentence goes.

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (23)

January 11, 2007

Beat

I'm beat. As I mentioned yesterday, I sat through - and worse, actively participated in - six meetings over a course of eight hours, all with very important clients. In each of those meetings, I was able to identify at least three things that needed to be done by close of business. Of course, those didn't happen so today should be interesting. I need a cup of coffee the size of Peru. Or Bolivia. Whichever one's the biggest.

I know I was punchy last night. The following things actually came out of my mouth. The context is largely unimportant.

You know, I actually turned down a career in banana-peeling. At least, professional banana-peeling. They scouted me and tried to draft me right out of college during my sophomore year but I guess I felt I needed something to fall back on if the professional banana-peeling didn't work out. Or I was injured. At least, that's what I like to tell myself. Honestly, I had dreams of competing in the Olympics. Sure, banana-peeling was only an exhibition sport that year but I had hopes. Then the whole steroid thing came out and my banana-peeling days were over.

Did I ever tell you I almost buckled professionally? I was on the buckling team in high school but I ended going to a school with a particularly strong banana peeling program.

Well that brings us to something I like to call "girth."

Finally (in this long, punch-drunk rambling of a post) I must admit that, while it was perhaps the most serious and sober he's ever appeared, I wasn't thrilled by Dubya's speech last night. Apparently his idea of a new way forward is taking two steps back. Yet another Presidential Hail Mary in the seemingly endless Haliburton Bowl. Am I alone on this one?

Posted by Chris at 7:23 AM | Comments (24)

January 10, 2007

Hump Day Threefold Post

It's early. I'm headed to a client for meetings starting at 8:00 this morning and ending (hopefully) at 3:00 this afternoon. So, forgive me if I don't provide any stunning insights this morning. Yet, here's a post. And the post is threefold.

Fold One
I started the day yesterday morning with car trouble. Picture this. I arrive at the office, park in the parking garage. It's nice and early. Primo parking space. All is well...until I turn off my car and try to remove the key from the ignition. It wouldn't budge. I jiggled the wheel, pushed down on the brake, changed gears, turned the car on, turned the car off, turned the car on again, reversed, drove around the parking garage, found a smidge of religion and prayed, and then, when all else failed, I cursed. I cursed like a sailor. Like two sailors. I cursed with a ferocity never before seen so early in the morning and my foul-mouthed shouts echoed throughout the empty parking garage. And then I cursed some more. Then gave up. I took my car key off the ring and left it there, stuck in the ignition. I took my laptop into the office, booted up, got a cup of coffee then searched the net. I Googled "VW Jetta ignition key stuck fucked" and found I wasn't alone. I returned to my car, tried something and seconds later the key was free. Overall, not a great way to start the day. But still a hell of a lot better than having a key eternally stuck in the ignition. Plus I got to blow off a little steam early in the morning.

Fold Two
Did you know it's De-Lurking Week? Neither did I. So, uh, delurk and comment. Or, if you're around here all the time, just comment.

Fold Three
My wife, over on her official ClubMom site is launching something awesome today. I know all you awesomely cool people would want to know. You should drop by, check it out and let her know what you think. And, if you can, help.

So, to recap, three things:
1. Fuck...then ahhhh.
2. I'm a whore. Comment.
3. Visit Beth and do some good.

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (78)

January 9, 2007

The Many Books of 2006 (And A Sneak Peak at My Nightstand)

You guys know I like to read. So, in the absence of a weekend recap full of wit and hilarity (because, it was mostly a nice weekend but Beth was under the weather and I'm a little beat so frankly a lot of it ran together), I figured I'd show you what was on by bedside stand.



Top to bottom, left to right
  1. Grifter's Game (Lawrence Block...part of a series of books under the Hard Case Crime imprint, a line of new and vintage noir and pulp fiction. They're fantastic!)
  2. Witness To Myself (Seymour Shubin...another Hard Case)
  3. Branded Woman (Wade Miller...Hard Case, again)
  4. Death Instinct (Bentley Miller...3/4 of the stuff he writes is crap but that other 1/4 is pretty good)
  5. Mortal Fear (Greg Iles)
  6. The Devil of Nanking (Mo Hayder)
  7. Hawke (Ted Bell)
  8. Black Maps (Peter Spiegelman)
  9. Miss Misery (Andy Greenwald)
  10. The Book of Lost Things (John Connolly)
  11. Citizen Vince (Jess Walter)
  12. The Dirt (Lee, Neil, Sixx, Mars...yeah, Motley Crue. I'm curious.)
  13. The Iraq Study Group Report (Baker, Hamilton...halfway through, pretty dry)
  14. The Hunt Club (John Lescroart...just finished, not bad)

While I'm at it, I also know that some of you might be interested in hearing about what I read in 2006. You can see the list after the jump. Long story short, it's clear I don't have as much time as I used to to read. I think I'm down 26 books from last year. But hey, the trade off is a great one.

The Worst:
I read plenty of mediocre stuff, preferring cheap escapism over anything too challenging this past year. But two books really stood out for their sheer crapitude. Matthew Reilly's Contest was the worst. First, the entire book was a case of bait and switch. The back of the book described one very cool 24-like story while the novel itself told a different one. Maybe that turned me off. Or maybe it was the insanely stupid plot coupled with writing that very well might have been turned out by a third grader (and I'm sure many third graders would find that statement insulting). It was, without a doubt, pure unadulterated drivel. Also worthy of a conversion to toilet paper was Scott Smith's The Ruins. Favorably (an understatement) reviewed by Stephen King, I was intrigued. I'm still intrigued...intrigued about the version of the book King read. I must have gotten a bum copy because mine sucked sweaty gorilla nuts. Really big sweaty gorilla nuts. If you have copies of either book, return them if you can. Otherwise, find some matches.

The Best:
I didn't experience any shortage of good books this year. Charlie Huston's A Dangerous Man might have been the best. Huston is insanely talented and has a unique voice which is edgy, violent and hard as nails. Yet, somehow, you care about the people he creates. A Dangerous Man is the final novel in a trilogy; I highly recommend you pick up copies of Caught Stealing, Six Bad Things then A Dangerous Man and settle in for a nice cold winter weekend of fantastic reading. I sincerely doubt you'll be disappointed. The Ha-Ha by Dave King was also fantastic, as I believe I mentioned here right after I finished it. Greg Galloway's As Simple as Snow was wonderful as well. Man-Booker Prize finalist M.H. Hyland's How The Light Gets In was stunning as was Douglas Coupland's Eleanor Rigby. Finally, perhaps the most pleasant surprise was Greg Iles' Turning Angel. Iles writes thrillers and rarely does a simple mass-market thriller suck me in the way Turning Angel did. Iles' characters are brilliantly developed, he pulls no punches with his plot and he paints a setting you feel at home in. I found myself trying to slow down the pace of my reading and genuinely distraught when I realized I'd turned the last page. Pretty good indications of a good book.

Want the full list? After the jump...

  1. Inside Out (Nick Mason)
  2. The Town That Forgot How To Breathe (Kenneth Harvey)
  3. The Society of Others (William Nicholson)
  4. Zen Attitude (Sujata Massey)
  5. Hope (Mark Clapham)
  6. Blue Limbo (Terrance Green)
  7. Hard Rain (Barry Eisler)
  8. Cell (Stephen King)
  9. Mortal Prey (John Sandford)
  10. Utterly Monkey (Nick Laird)
  11. The Floating Girl (Sujata Massey)
  12. The Wind Singer (William Nicholson)
  13. Wrong About Japan (Peter Carey)
  14. Foreign Bodies (Stephen Dedman)
  15. Already Dead (Charlie Huston)
  16. As Simple As Snow (Gregory Galloway)
  17. The Broker (John Grisham)
  18. Rain Storm (Barry Eisler)
  19. Past Mortem (Ben Elton)
  20. American Purgatorio (John Haskell)
  21. In The Company of Liars (David Ellis)
  22. How The Light Gets In (M.J. Hyland)
  23. Blood Father (Peter Craig)
  24. Under the Banner of Heaven (Jon Krakauer)
  25. The Ha-Ha (Dave King)
  26. Contest (Matthew Reilly)
  27. The Underminer (Mike Albo)
  28. Bad Twin (Gary Troup)
  29. Drama City (George Pelecanos)
  30. The Geographer's Library (John Fasman)
  31. The Hard Way (Lee Child)
  32. Love And Other Near Death Experiences (Mil Millington)
  33. Eleanor Rigby (Douglas Coupland)
  34. Velocity (Dean Koontz)
  35. Assassination Vacation (Sarah Vowell)
  36. Midnight Cab (James Nichol)
  37. The Stolen Child (Keith Donohue)
  38. Eats Shoots & Leaves (Lynne Truss)
  39. Pirate (Ted Bell)
  40. Caves of Steel (Isaac Asimov)
  41. Adverbs (Daniel Handler)
  42. No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy)
  43. Lost Lake (Phillip Margolin)
  44. Dear Zoe (Philip Beard)
  45. Naked Prey (John Sandford)
  46. The Ruins (Scott Smith)
  47. 18 Seconds (George Schuman)
  48. A Clean Kill (Mike Stewart)
  49. Dead Watch (John Sandford)
  50. Dispatches from the Edge (Anderson Cooper)
  51. Grab On To Me Tightly As If I Knew The Way (Bryan Charles)
  52. The Trudeau Vector (Juris Jurjevics)
  53. The Burning (Bentley Little)
  54. The Book of Fate (Brad Meltzer)
  55. A Dangerous Man (Charlie Huston)
  56. Three Days To Never (Tim Powers)
  57. IV (Chuck Klosterman)
  58. Bust (Ken Bruen & Jason Starr)
  59. The Gun Seller (Hugh Laurie)
  60. World War Z (Max Brooks)
  61. Creepers (David Morrell)
  62. Panic (Jeff Abbott)
  63. Turning Angel (Greg Isles)
  64. Plunder of the Sun (David Dodge)
  65. Goodbye Lemon (Adam Davies)
  66. A Simple Plan (Scott Smith)
  67. Grave Descend (John Lange)
  68. The Camel Club (David Baldacci)
  69. Little Girl Lost (Richard Aleas)
  70. The Confession (Dominic Stansberry)
    Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (38)

January 8, 2007

A Weekend Recap...Kinda

Did someone break the laws of physics and accelerate time again? How is it possible that it's already Monday morning? It was just Friday...and I was just sitting here behind my desk. Right?



If you're expecting an exciting recap, well, you're shit outta luck. Don't get me wrong - we had some fun. But Beth was pretty significantly under the weather most of the weekend and the ways in which the weekend was passed are pretty much a blur at this point. I recall lots of playing (including a stretch during which Mia roamed the house with Beth's panties over her head - I have pictures and I'm not afraid to use them), a visit from the grandparents, and some playground fun during the beautiful Saturday. But I also recall being awake the vast majority of the weekend...including nights.

I do have a question - where the hell is winter? It was 70 degrees and beautiful on Saturday. People were outside, walking around in shorts! I know this because Mia found them all and pointed out their knees (yes, her knee fetish continues). Oh, and while I'm at it, there's another weather-related issue I don't get. Since the days are getting short and shorter, the nights should be getting longer, right? So why is the moon rising later and later? The reason I ask is that Mia, in addition to knees, is now obsessed with the moon. And asks me where it is constantly. The other night, I lost it. She wasn't happy and I thought I was losing my mind. Maybe I am. But why's the moon taking its sweet time coming up? Mia's waiting and she's not amused.

Yep. I'm boring this morning. I'm sorry. Yet I'm happy to report that I'm donut free. If one can be happy about such a thing.

How were your weekends?

Posted by Chris at 7:22 AM | Comments (51)

Haiku For Monday #152

Must have coffee. Now.
If not, my brain shall implode.
And that can't be good.

Posted by Chris at 7:15 AM | Comments (9)

January 5, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Good At Home

Before anyone starts throwing things at their monitors, let me first say that I think this story is, basically, good. Just, maybe, a little misdirected.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey opened a school Tuesday for disadvantaged girls, fulfilling a promise she made to former president Nelson Mandela six years ago.

"I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light," Winfrey said at a news conference. Initially, 152 girls will attend the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

The project that created a 28-building campus with computer and science laboratories, a library, a theater and a wellness center began with a $10 million donation from Winfrey in 2002.

On Tuesday, Winfrey rejected suggestions that the school was elitist and unnecessarily luxurious. "If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you," she said.

Singers Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, actors Sidney Poitier and Chris Tucker, and director Spike Lee also attended the opening.

I'll admit this is good. I'll admit that someone should do this a million times over, across the continent of Africa and around the globe, wherever the poor, disadvantaged and disenfranchised struggle with issues of health, social welfare and education. I believe we, as (primarily) occupants of the richest nations in the world have an absolute obligation to better the lives of our fellow man regardless of borders and distance. But I also believe that it is our duty to take care of our own first.

In Chicago - the city Oprah calls home - 19% of the adult population lives below the poverty line. That's an income of about $15,700 or less per year for a family with two kids. 2004 census data reveals that this translates to somewhere around 165,000 families within the city of Chicago itself. Statistics further show that educational opportunities and the quality of education is, overall, severely decreased in economically depressed areas. Perhaps more importantly, in 2000 (the most recent year for which I can find data), $6,911 was spent per student on average. The price of building the school itself would pay for the education of roughly 6,000 kids. Yet the school, as you saw, is currently only open for 152 students. Were the kids of Chicago just not pathetic enough?

I fully realize that Oprah had a number of different motivations for doing what she did. And that her philanthropic ties to Chicago are strong. She does a lot of good. But Africa is fast becoming a photo-op and I'm tired of people doing good - and supporting those who do good things - only when there are cameras around.

Good is, well, good. It doesn't matter if you're at the top of the billionaires list or on the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder. It doesn't matter if you stand in front of a camera while you're doing it. In fact, it might be more powerful if you don't. But, I'd argue that everyone has an obligation to do good in their own neighborhoods, that the investment you make in your own backyard pays dividends you can see, that strengthens the fabric of the community in which you live preparing it to receive future generations who will, hopefully, continue to do good.

I secretly (well, not now) like Oprah. She does some pretty cool stuff. I just wish, sometimes, she and people like her would focus a little more attention at home. There are plenty of kids who need a break here too.

The Feel Good: First Muslim congressman Keith Ellison used a copy of the Koran that once belonged to Virginia's most prominent resident, Thomas Jefferson. This after Virginia representative Virgil Goode argued that only the Bible should be used for such ceremonies.

So Schadenfreude It's Painful: Have you seen the latest McDonald's ad? Be on the lookout for a rather familiar (although slightly older) dude providing five seconds of almost-anonymous enthusiasm. Turns out, he's Jeremy Miller, former brat Ben from Growing Pains. Mmmmm, I'm loving it.

A Schadenfreude Question: How many of you have watched the video of the Saddam hanging? I'm curious. For the record, I haven't.

Posted by Chris at 7:11 AM | Comments (75)

January 4, 2007

My Non-Resolution Resolution For 2007

For the past several years, I've avoided making resolutions. Because I invariably fail at them. Like the promise I made to myself to join a gym a few years back? Lunacy. I joined. I forked over a nice big chunk of my paycheck. But did I ever go? Nope. Apparently you have to visit the gym to realize the full health benefits. Then there was the year I made a resolution to have a new experience everyday. When I found myself satisfied that channel surfing backwards was, indeed, a new experience, I realized that I'd lost sight of the bigger picture.

Some of it has to do with willpower. Or a lack thereof. The only things that I do on a regular basis that take any sort of mind over matter mastery are showing up for work (which is a no-brainer since I don't want my family to live in a box under a freeway overpass), blogging (which I didn't originally expect to last more than a week), and not smoking. There's also the bit about avoiding going off on a full scale rampage attacking stupid people with a ball-peen hammer (why does one need to hammer ball-peens and what exactly are they), but I keep that impulse in check. As a result of this, what I'm getting at here is that one of the things I don't do very well is keep myself healthy.

I don't eat meat. Figurative brownie points for sure but a little cow never killed anyone. Vegetables? Check. But also sugar. And ice cream. And I stop at Dunkin Donuts five mornings a week. There's no way that can be good, right? During the day yesterday, and not inclusive of the vegetable-filled dinner I consumed last night which was wholesome and tasty, I ingested the following crap:

  • 2 glazed donuts (the nice old Chinese DD lady, who is actually a psycho based on the bumper stickers on her car, actually gave me three donuts but I used my discretion and gave away the third. I'm positive she's a Chinese assassin sent here to kill off American capitalist heathens with donut overconsumption. In which case, she's a very patient Chinese assassin.)
  • 1 20-ounce cup of coffee (this is non-negotiable...you take away my coffee and I'll cut you)
  • 1 2-ounce bag pretzels
  • 1 20-ounce Sprite
  • 1 1.74-ounce bag peanut M&Ms

How do I not weigh 3,296 pounds? How am I not the circus freak The Amazing Chris - Blogger Big Enough To Have His Own Gravitational Field? How am I still upright? These and other mysteries (Jimmy Hoffa, the Bermuda Triangle, the exact rules of cricket, countries in which midget tossing is legal) have yet to be solved. I do know this - I need to get my shit together, health-wise at least.

To that end I share with you the following non-resolution resolutions that I will try to follow in 2007:

  • Dunkin Donuts will see me every morning, but only for coffee.
  • I will, despite my great fear that results will be met with a diagnosis consisting of the words "oh fuck", make an appointment for a physical, even through turning my head and coughing will most definitely be involved.
  • I will do my damnedest to find some sort of physical activity which neither puts me in the hospital nor bores me out of my gourd.

So, uh, help. Suggestions? I need guidance, people. And a snack. You don't happen to have a donut on you, do you?

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (60)

January 3, 2007

Full-Contact Parenting

Her: Be careful there. You know, someday we might decide we want a little brother or sister for Mia.
Me: Well then, I need a pair of stunt-nuts.
Her: Stunt-nuts implies you've got a nut-double. Which you don't.
Me: I'm painfully aware of that.




And then Mia spent the evening kissing my knees. And giving them drinks. Because she's obsessed with them. Kids are weird. Of course, some of their parents are too.

Photos courtesy of Beth. No blogger was seriously injured during the development of this post. Professional driver on a closed course. Results not typical. Individual ball-pain may vary.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (34)

January 2, 2007

Coffee, Chug, Rinse, Repeat

Well, here I sit. Behind my desk. Back at work. I'm not 100% sure what I can say about that except, possibly, fuck. That sums it up quite adequately.

Unless you've managed to maintain a total blog blackout over the holidays, you've probably already taken note that not everything went as planned for us this year. Actually, nothing went as planned. That's parenthood for you. I am happy to report that when Saturday dawned, it was clear that Mia, like Stella, got her groove back. Back was my happy, funny girl making me realize how much I'd missed her while she was feeling so low. So the long weekend was spent making up for lost time. We even staged Christmas Redux to include the entire, healthy family.

The past week has been educational too. I've been exposed to two staples of parenthood and I'm pretty sure I'll be getting my permanent father's union card in the mail any day now. See, I got to watch a few hours of Elmo and log a little time at Chuckee Cheese's. Neither experience was particularly bad, but I've come to the conclusion that Elmo in large doses can actually drive one to insanity. And Chuckee Cheese's? That place where a kid can be a kid? I swear there were hookers working the room when we were there. Either that or there are some uber-slutty moms trying to distract their kids with ski-ball.

There's no delaying it. I'm going to chug the last chilly bit of coffee and try to jump back into the swing of things. Let's see if I can get my work groove back. Wish me luck.

Posted by Chris at 7:00 AM | Comments (37)


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