Saturday, May 31, 2008

A chip off the nerdy block...

Because Pint Size has been getting a lot of good coverage here lately, I thought I would give equal time to my other stepson-to-be, Short Stuff. After all, he is just as adorable as Pint Size, but in a completely different way...

Short Stuff is about to turn 6 in a few weeks, and wants a Star Wars birthday party. Silverfox and I are working on a Death Star cake, and having one of our friends in fandom come to the party dressed as his favorite bad guy, Darth Vader. It's just awesome that his favorite thing in the world right now is Star Wars, and I giggle every time we're playing with our toy lightsabers and he tries to use the force to choke me.

Even more awesome, however is the fact that he so easily embraces everything fannish. Case in point: The other night, we all watched The Princess Bride. He loved it... and was sitting next to me on my recliner asking all sorts of questions about the bad guys, the good guys, and the Rodents Of Unusual Size.

While at the pool the next day he came across a dead bug, which he brought over to show to me. I told him politely to get rid of it because it was dead. He grinned at me and said "Shows how much you know... it's only mostly dead."

I'm so proud.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Why banks suck...

For the first time in about two months, I checked my bank account on payday and had a positive bank balance. I breathed a sigh of relief that I would no longer have to rely on the kindness of strangers for gas money, and pulled the Buick up to my local bank branches ATM to withdraw my hard earned cash.

Upon putting in my bank card, I got an unusual response...


"Huh? For all intents and purposes, this box full of money is my bank" I thought to myself, reaching for my cell phone. So I called the bank... to be told that my access to my account has been restricted because of excessive overdraft fees.

"I know all about the overdraft fees..." I explained, "I've spent the past three weeks living a cash-free existence to pay them all back to your fine institution, but I would like my hard earned cash now, please. Please reactivate my card so we can all move on."

"I'm sorry, sir." The young woman said, "You have to go for six months with no overdrafts before we can issue another card."

"Lady, April Fools day was almost two months ago, and this isn't funny."

"I'm not joking, sir."

"But I was out of work for a month with pneumonia, Lady! Can't y'all cut me a break here? I have bills to pay!"

"I'm sorry sir, but you'll have to talk to a branch manager."

I hung up the phone and tried not to sob aloud. At 9:01 (they opened at 9) I was in the bank and sitting with a banker. I explained my case, and asked for an ATM card a little sooner than six months from now.

"The best we can do is three months sir." the Banker explained to me, "If you still have no more overdrafts in that period, then we can give you one."

"How am I supposed to pay my bills?"

"Well, you can still write checks, Mr. Cerio."

This struck me as the stupidest damn thing I had ever heard, and I felt obligated to point out that it was just as easy for me to overdraft my account with checks as with my Debit card.

"Well," She said, "It's hoped that by having your checkbook with you, it will encourage you to use the ledger we provide to keep better track of your bank balances."

I sighed, got up and wrote a check for cash so I could fill the gas tank of the Buick and left, disgusted. I worked out how much they charged me in overdraft fees, and it really pisses me off that I paid them all that money and they can't cut me some slack for being sick.

Overdraft fees accrued and paid in the past month: $352.00
Amount of work required from bank personnel to earn this money: None
Number of warning letters that the bank says they sent me: 3
Number that reached me but were unopened because I thought they were just another overdraft notice: 2
The look on my face when I realize that I'm taking it up the pooper without the benefit of KY: Priceless.

You ever get the feeling God is trying to tell you something?

So, I have this big revelation that I need to loose weight. I promise myself that I'm gonna cut back on the sweets, watch what I eat, and generally slim down.

What happens? Yesterday, my boss goes out and buys a bunch of apple fritters for everyone for breakfast, Janet brings in a chocolate Easter bunny that has been tempting her from the freezer for weeks, (not just chocolate, either... worlds finest chocolate!) my friend offers to buy me lunch and buys a giant tub of rugalah at Sam's club for the office to share, and my bosses son's girlfriend brings in a giant tray of brownies and cookies for all us hard working folks (meaning me and Janet, who's a diabetic) that are still warm and freaking gooey.

Chocolate chip cookies... brownies... rugalah... if there was a fantasy bakery somewhere that just catered to me, it would make a fine living just making those three items.

Then to top off my day, my future mother in law invites us over for a family dinner- southern style. Panneed pork chops, creamed potatoes, smothered peas and macaroni and cheese, while surrounded by Silverfoxes big uncles, who kept making fun of me for only eating one pork chop.

It's not fair, damn it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A thank you and the "Before" Pictures...

I wanted to take the time to thank everyone I have heard from in the past few days concerning both my finally proposing to Silverfox and my sudden seriousness about losing my extra poundage. Everyone has been very positive and encouraging about both matters, and I thank you all for all the warm fuzzies. One of the funnier E-mails I got was from the "prodigal son" Fratnip, who realized that he only knows about Silverfox from my blog, and as such has no idea what her real name is.

Anyhow, the other e-mails were mostly about the weight loss, and inquiring about my plan for such.

Brouhahhah went so far as to issue his own "Not so celebrity fit club" challenge on his blog as a direct response to my post, but I regret to say that I ain't interested in turning it into a competition. There are two reasons for this... one, I'm way more likely to just give up if I think I'm in danger of losing (Italian pride is a very finicky thing) and Two, one of the terms of his challenge involves knowing your current weight, which I have no clue about, nor do I really feel is relevant to weight loss.

Some of you are scratching your heads... it's okay... allow me to explain. (No... is too much... allow me to sum up...). Scales aren't built with guys my size in mind. Even most doctors office scales top out at about 350 lbs. I easily weigh more than 390. Silverfox has a brand new digital scale that I refuse to get on because I couldn't bear to hear the sickening crunch of it breaking into a million little digital pieces. I would get one of those nifty talking ones from Brookstone, (which go up to 500 lbs I've been told) but I have this odd feeling that the guys who programmed it made it to say snarky things to people over 350lbs... like "one at a time folks" or "hey, not designed to weigh cows here!"

It's what I would do anyway...

So, as I was saying, my weight is largely irrelevant to me, and always has been. I will instead judge my progress by how I look and feel. This is how I looked last august:On the beach... lookin and feelin pretty good, but way tubby. This is me (and Pint Size) as of good friday, wearing basically the same clothes, still lookin good and feelin fine, if slightly more worried about Pint Size taking an unscheduled bath in his Granduncle's fish pond:Now maybe I'm deluding myself, but I think I look slightly thinner in the second photo... Which was taken after I had been living with Silverfox and the kids for a few months.

The difference? Physical activity. I went from a mostly vertical, sedentary lifestyle to having to walk up two flights of stairs every day and chasing Short Stuff around the playground. I've noticed this effect before, when I was ghost hunting on a regular basis (just before Katrina) I was in some of the best shape of my life then because I was walking up a huge flight of stairs 10 times a night, three nights a week. I even remember Stacey remarking how much thinner I looked when she picked me up from the train station when I evacuated for the storm.

I have never been on a diet that worked for me, but every time I have gotten more physical activity going, I have wound up looking and feeling better for it. I also recognize that there are minor changes in my eating habits which would have huge effects on my health, like cutting out soft drinks in favor of water.

In short, my plan for weight loss is simple and time honored: Eat less, exercise more. It's really just the smartest way to go. Furthermore, by not killing myself about my sticking to or not sticking to a diet, my mind will be free to concentrate on simply making smarter choices about what I eat.

Any questions?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Order of Chaos?

In 1981, a legend made its way onto the silver screen. With a musical "DUM DUM DAH!" and a flash of red cape, Captain Chaos stole every scene of The Cannonball Run he was in, and with the scenes, he stole an eleven year old boy's imagination.

Victor had been a fat kid, (much like that eleven year old boy), and one day while being beat up by playground bullies, Captain Chaos appeared for the first time and beat the crap out of the evildoers. Victor genuinely believed in the superhero inside himself, that only came out when needed. It took many years, but eventually the eleven year old boy (now 37) emulated his hero. prepared to mete out justice at Mobicon 10:

Unexpectedly, he also picked up a sidekick that fateful evening, Catastrophe boy. The Mexican immigrant worker that Chaos had picked up in front of home depot proved a staunch ally in combating the forces of evil. The first appearance of Captain Chaos was such a success, that he also decided to appear at the next Coast Con where he met his first supervillian, Mistress Sinister. As you can see by the photo, it wasn't long before Mistress Sinister fell victim to the good Captain's charms as supervillianesses are often wont to do:And by the time Mobicon 11 rolled around, not only was the charming Captain Chaos in evidence:
But Mistress Sinister had come over to the side of justice as Mistress Chaos (seen here with the Corset of Righteousness):

Now there is talk of forming the Order of Chaos, (a contradiction in terms at best), which would be an entire fan group centered around HIM. This fan group would be dedicated to preserving the super-hero genre at conventions, Captain Chaos costuming, and there is even talk of a "So you want to be a super-hero?" style contest to be judged by members of the order.

I wonder if we'll have a secret handshake, or just yell "DUM DUH DUN!" at each other?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Because he is adorable:-)

Pint size refuses to give autographs.

The next party game to grace Casa Kahunah...

This weekend, Silverfox and I decided to use the 70 bucks in Best Buy coupons that were sent to us after she dropped her tax refund on our new entertainment system, and she picked up a new game that I predict now will be a huge hit at our next party.

Rockbandahaulics... are you ready for Singstar?

Now, understand me when I say I LOVE Rock Band. It is the coolest game ever, and they will pry my Fender Stratocaster controller from my cold dead hands when Guitar Hero 4 comes out. (the Guitar Hero 4 vs. Rock Band argument has become quite heated of late around Casa Kahunah) But having said that, I have noticed two problems with it...

One is that we always seem to have a lot of our friends that want to sing, but much fewer that want to pick up the guitar or drumsticks. Singstar is all song, and you can battle head to head with your friends or do duets.

Two, the selection of downloadable songs tends to leave me wanting. True, more come out every week, but when I saw all the fantastic songs available on Singstar my jaw dropped, and my hands reached for Silverfoxs credit card. They have a lot of the 80's songs Silverfox and I grew up on, and even better... while you sing, it shows the original music video for the song in the background.

Just the straight from the box game has a number of great songs on it, most notably "I wanna be sedated" by the Ramones (which I totally served Silverfox on! Go me.), "Summertime" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, "Suspicious Minds" by the King, and "All the small things" By Blink 182. As far as downloads go, I immediately and without running it past the woman I love downloaded "Just a Gigolo" by Diamond Dave. (anyone that has seen me do this in Karaoke knows why) With her input (and after much laughter), we downloaded songs by Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, and of course Billy Joel. We only stopped because the PS3 lost it's connection briefly.

I also noticed a couple of MC Hammer and Run DMC songs on there, which I would pay cash money to see my friends Mike or Ronnie sing.

So, when is everyone free?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

My big fat greek post...

Today I feel I have officially turned a proverbial corner. I have decided for the first time in my life that I need to lose weight.

I know, another idle diet promise from a fat guy that takes great pride in being fat... but this time is different. As many of my friends will tell you, I kind of enjoy being fat. I also like tearing down the stereotype that you can't be fat and healthy... my recent bout with pneumonia aside, I am both... Furthermore, I feel that my size has always served the vital function of keeping shallow people at arms length, allowing me to develop more true friendships than most people will ever have the pleasure of having. I also really like the whole "fat and jolly" thing that most people associate with the overweight. I am fat. I am also jolly. A pretty good fit, all things considered. I have certainly never been ashamed of something that makes me... well, me.

So, what's changed? Let me tell you about my day...

Today was the first day of the Greek festival here in New Orleans. I look forward to getting my fix of Greek food every year, and have always had a good time doing it. This year me, Silverfox and Short Stuff decided to make a family outing of it.

There are a lot more kids activities to do at the Greek fest in recent years. They've added a few moon walks, a sand pit, face painting, a climbing wall, and several other things for families to do. One of these things is Canoeing on Bayou St. John.

I will admit that I haven't been in a canoe in years... not since college, at any rate... But I enjoy canoeing... I'm actually fairly good at it. I know how to steer one, what to do if you capsize, and how to get into one from the water. (thank you boy scouts) In short, while I may be a little rusty, I am probably a better canoer (sp?) than your average Joe shmoe off the street that has been mixing his Grappa and his Ouzu all day.

So, Silverfox and I decided that we would take Short Stuff for a ride out on the bayou. It didn't hurt that under the Filmore street bridge is a Geocache that is only accessible from the water... Silverfox was down with the idea on that basis alone. We had actually been planning for about a week to do this. Short Stuff was pretty psyched about it too, and he kept asking when we were going in the canoe from the moment I pulled up in front of the festival to the moment we walked up to the rental tent.

There were waivers that we had to sign, and we happily signed them. there were fees to be paid, and we happily paid them. We even borrowed plastic baggies to put our cell phones in, just in case. As I stepped forward in anticipation, I was approached by a gruff old man.

"I'm sorry, but I can't let you have a canoe." he said.

It took a second for me to realize what he said. "Huh?" I said, "why not?"

"I don't have a life jacket that will fit you." he said.

"Okay..." I replied, looking at the long adjusting straps on the life jackets, "I'm an excellent swimmer, and the bayou is only five feet deep at it's deepest, but I understand that you have liability issues. Can I at least try one on and we'll see?"

"No. I'm not giving you a canoe." He said.

"Look, I've been in a canoe before... I know what I'm doing."

"No." he said, getting a little nasty with his tone, "I've seen guys your size capsize too many times to let you in one of my canoes. Plus that, you'll break the seats. I don't want to deal with that."

I admit I was at a loss for words at this. Anyone who has ever been in a canoe knows that you don't actually sit on the seats in a canoe... you kneel on the hull and sort of lean against the seat, never putting you full weight on it.

"Excuse me?" I said.

"You're too heavy." he said, like that was what I wasn't understanding.

"First of all..." I said, trying to keep my tone civil, "You have no idea how much I weigh. Secondly, you're trying to tell me that I'm gonna capsize when you have no idea what my skill level is with this based solely on my size. Doesn't that strike you as a little bigoted?"

"Just give him his money back!" he barked at the kids working the table as he walked away.

I stood there for a moment as Silverfox took our money back, not really sure what to do. I thought for a moment about making a scene... but I realized that this guy was just being an ass and there was little I could do to change his mind. I mentally chalked it up to his stupidity and took a deep breath and walked away.

Then I saw Short Stuff's face. "We're not going on the canoe?" he said in a very small voice, with tears welling up in his eyes.

I had to explain to this child that it wasn't his fault, that he had been a very good boy, but it was my fault we weren't going on the canoe ride we had promised him.

Never again.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Mobicon highlights...

Last weekend, as many of you know, was Mobicon... and Friday found Silverfox and I transporting an elaborate Stargate prop for Area 504, who take their decorating way too seriously. The main reason that we were asked to transport this Stargate was not because it was about to overload and take half the world with it, but because our truck was one of the few owned by club members that was actually big enough to do the job... without even having to open a hyperspace window.

Okay... that reference was way geeky even for me. The drive was nice, if a little rainy. We passed the three hours with topics like "What do you think Short Stuff wants for his birthday?", "When are you gonna ask me to marry you, you jerk?" (my answer: "before the wedding."), "Do you think it's too early to teach Pint Size to swim?", "Damn, gas is expensive." and the ever popular "Should I pass this trailered boat on the port or on the starboard?"

It was worth the gas money though, because The Gate looked great when fully assembled:After arriving at the hotel, I pulled Silverfox aside and asked her to indulge my romantic side for a moment. I took her out to the hotel courtyard, where just a year before I first laid eyes on this incredible woman that would change my life forever, and explained to her just how much she means to me. I then pulled out the biggest ring I could find:and officially asked her to marry me. That's right... the entire time that she had been telling me in the car how I needed to hurry up and ask, I was quietly smirking to myself knowing that I was about to. There were tears... there was laughter... and it was the perfect moment. "Now I can have my bachelorette party, right?" she asked. I knew full well that she had rounded up a veritable posse of chickdom to come to the con with just that purpose in mind... and I also knew that people would want to see her ring, which is why it was important for me to pop the question before the party.

I would have actually done it weeks ago, but somehow proposing while wheezing in bed with pneumonia seems less than romantic. I admit I was pretty proud of myself every time she waved the ring (which she wore on her wrist most of the con) and said "Check out the size of the rock Rob got me!"

The Friday night was mostly uneventful, but I did get to network a little with a fellow paranormal researcher that was a guest at the con. I introduced myself and found out for the first time in my life that my fame had proceeded me. Apparently at the guest Meet and greet, someone had told him that I would be at the con, and he had to meet me. We sat there and talked shop until another con guest started bending spoons. I snickered and made Uri Geller jokes until my lovely but drunk fiance totally ruined this poor guy's game with "drunk logic":

Her: "If I can't see the spoon at all times, how can I tell for sure that you really bent it?"
Him:"The spoon is bent, isn't it?"
Her:"You could have switched spoons!"
Him:"When did you stop believing in Santa Claus?"
Her:"Irrelevant. show me that spoon, damn you!"

I know from my own studies that spoon bending is a load of crapola, but I really felt sorry for the poor guy.

Saturday was fun. The video gamers room had Rock Band, and at any given time it seemed like either Dave or I (or both) were in there playing. We went out as a group to dinner at Carrabas, which was awesome. Saturday night Captain Chaos and Catastrophe boy made an appearance:

And were completely overshadowed by Mistress Chaos (Silverfox lookin Superfoxy!) :And of course, her bevy of babeage... pictured below are Mrs Ringo and Itchygoya. I'll leave it to you to figure out which is which:I know... I know... the groom-to-be isn't supposed to interact with the bachelorette party... and he didn't. That's the ever dashing Captain Chaos, not me.

So, the ladies bought themselves a couple of slaves for the evening, who Mistress Chaos took great delight in completely humiliating through various points during the night... the funniest had to be when I walked past them and one slave was walking the other on a dog leash.

The whole charity slave auction was big fun on a bun this year, even if it did drag on for a bit. My buddy Mike came as a British admiral intent on catching pirates...and nearly caused me to pass out with laughter when he bought himself a slave. It was so out of character for the guy. here he is pictured with said slave: I later found out he sold her to another guy after getting a back rub. The cool thing is he didn't keep the money, but instead donated it all to the charity the slave auction was raising money for. Dude is a surprisingly class act.

The next day found me in the middle of a heated Risk game that was the stuff of legend. All I will say beyond that is that I adore my friends for all the laughter and fun they bring into my life.

Traffic on the way home wasn't bad with the exception of an accident caused by a shipwreck:
When we passed it, I smiled at Silverfox and said "He obviously didn't pass to starboard."

It was a great weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Stone Knives and Bearskins

"I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic circuit using stone knives and bearskins."- Mr. Spock, City on the Edge of Forever

Technology sucks.

To wit: This is a small representation of the absolutely brilliant marketing campaign I've come up with for the company a series of posters that we will give to our customers to advertise using our product with their customers, the contractors presently engaged in rebuilding our city...
Great, right? It conveys our commitment to the region while showing that we know our stuff, and asking that people think about buying locally. Anyway, the V.P. of sales loves it and wants to make up a bunch of full sized posters (22" x 28") to distribute to all of our customers by Wednesday.

"No problem!" I optimistically think to myself as I activate photoshop. "All I have to do is make a larger image, with better resolution, and turn it into a PDF file that our local Kinko's can turn into postery goodness.

HAH! How naive I was. I put it all together, asked the computer to turn it into a PDF, and the machine bogs down; processing my request for TWO HOURS only to tell me that it can't do it.

Computers suck. They suck hard.

Now, I know that there are friends of mine out there saying "But Rob, why didn't you just use Pagemaker to do it?" I did on the rough draft I gave to my boss to display in his office. the problem is that in incorporating the JOVAL logo and artwork into Pagemaker, I wind up with a little eggshell white box printed around the two logos because Pagemaker doesn't recognize transparencies in an image file.

Sometimes I long for the simplicity of a drafting board and glue stick.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The generation gap widens...

When you're sick for an extended period of time, things that are not yours find their way magically into your desk. As a result of this phenomenon, today I found myself using a wooden ruler since the first time since grade school.

It was one of the old school ones with a little strip of brass embedded into the edge to keep it straight... a curiosity in a world that has moved on to superhard plastics and ceramic composite drafting tools that never lose their edge no matter how many times you tap the desk in thought with them. I commented to my co-worker that they don't really make them like that anymore, which prompted the following exchange as I returned her ruler:

Me: Here's your antiquated ruler back...
Her: Antiquated? What do you mean?
Me: Well, it's tough to find them... most of the world has moved on to plastic.
Her: It's just a simple wooden ruler, Rob... you can buy them in any office supply store.
Me: Yeah, and you can buy two rocks to bang together in a garden store, but personally I'd rather use a lighter.

I suppose it's a good thing I didn't find a slide rule in my desk or my laughter would have put me in the hospital with a worse case of pleurisy than I already have.

So, Rob... How's the ex?

Still batty as a freaking bedbug, as evidenced by the following myspace bulletin posted by her sister:

On Saturday, me and my mom and my schizophrenic sister were driving home and then a drunk driver quickly drove in front of us! he was in a big truck with a Copeland boat connected to the back. My mom looked at him and said she was almost sure it was Al Copeland's son! Well we quickly stopped when the truck drove in front of us. My sister rolled down her window and yelled "SEX POT F@#KHEAD!" at him. This made him very mad, so he started trying to hit us with his boat by trying to back it into our car. Eventually we just backed up until the boat was no longer a threat and he eventually drove away. The entire time my mom and sister were dramatically screaming! After the incident, they started talking about philosophy and how Jesus spared our lives.

It was an exciting experience!

I'll bet. It's remembering "excitement" like this that still wakes me up in the middle of the night thanking god that I finally realized I needed to move on with my life. I've been struggling with whether I should tell the ex that I'm
about to get married again... but then I hear about things like this and I can't help but think that keeping her out of my life completely is the way to go. Maybe I'll just tell her sister, and let her tell her.