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December 26, 2005

Hopefully it means we can all live together on this Earth of ours no matter what we believe.

By: The Dude on the Right
This morning, while visiting my folks, a friend stopped by and I cheerfully said, while snarfing down a bowl of Frosted Flakes, "Happy Boxing Day!"  She looked at me like I was an alien, although at first I thought it was just the frosted flake stuck on my chin.  Then she said "What?"  I retorted back, "Happy Boxing Day!"  Again I was an alien, although by this time I was able to get rid of the stray flake so I knew it must have been my comment that begat such a puzzled look and inquisitive tone.  I quickly explained that today was "Boxing Day," the day after Christmas, and it's celebrated in places like Canada.  Knowing I was fighting a losing battle in trying to explain any further, especially since I wasn't totally positive of its true meaning other than I thought it had something to do with boxes and not boxing, I just sunk my face back into my bowl of cereal knowing that Christmas was over, I would be heading back to the Chicago area soon, and it was time to get back to normal, although this week wouldn't be normal because of some extenuating circumstances that may or may not come out in either a blog or podcast this week, depending how things go.  For now I'll just say some of it is a bummer, some of it brings change, and some of it is supposed to bring a new beginning, or at least a new year.

In any case, my Christmas weekend is done, and it was pretty interesting.  I won't go into much of it here, I'm hoping Stu is ready for a Christmas Weekend Wrap-Up Podcast tomorrow, but if not, I'll host my own tomorrow night.  Here are some of the the low, mid, and highlights.  The lowlight involved some bad news that no one really wants to hear at this time of year, or really, at any time of year, namely a friend's parent passing away.  I learned this news on the drive back to see my folks, and it really made for a reflective rest of the drive, in more ways than one.  On the midlight side, there, under the Christmas tree at my parent's, was a card for me from my brother.  The thing was it was a thick, puffy card, and I was suddenly struck with the paranoia that he actually got me more than a card, that somehow a gift might have been stuck in there, and suddenly my, his, and my sister's agreement would come crashing to an end with guilt for me.  On the highlight side, it was great to be home with the family, although my sister and most of her family was missing.  I say most of them because my nephew decided to hang out in the cold of Ohio rather than the warmth of Texas.  For a sometimes change, I had someone to go with me to a movie on Christmas Day, or on any day, so I didn't have to go by my myself and be what our staff member, Whammy, says of people who go and see movies alone.  I will always contend that I have to go because it's my job.  Anyway, we saw "Fun With Dick and Jane," which was pretty funny, pretty generic, and hopefully a real review will follow in a couple of days.  I also realized it wasn't very nice to have an outside link describing my family in a bad light, so, I actually removed them, although the Astros still got swept by the White Sox, phhhhtttt.  And finally, on my highlight list, I believe I might have ruined the animated shows "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" and "The Year Without a Santa Clause" for my nephew, mostly having to deal with the Germans, the French, drugs, greedy kids, and a dude named Flavor Flav (for a hint, think of Jingle, or was it Jangle, oh hell, I don't know, I'm just setting myself a reminder to truly dissect these two animated shows next year in time for the holidays, much like I did for my nephew as I watched them last night.)

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Good Kwanza, and I hope you enjoyed your Atheist day off, or enjoyed whatever you might be celebrating at the end of the year.  Hopefully all of it means we can all live together on this Earth of ours with whatever we believe.  Sadly, it doesn't seem that way.  Here's hoping next year is a little better that way.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 6:33 PM | Comments (1)

December 18, 2005

Go and see "King Kong," Radio Shack Still Has Problems, and I Really Wanted to Like "The Family Stone."

By: The Dude on the Right
First off, and I'm hoping word of mouth will propel this movie, but for goodness sake if you are a fan of movies, or if you just like an entertaining movie, or you just want to spend about three hours immersed in a time of wonder, or if you might want to get weepy, or you are curious to see how movie-making has changed from the 1933 version to this version, go see "King Kong" at a theater near you.  It did okay at the box office this weekend, around $50 million, but not nearly the numbers the film studio was hoping for I'm sure.  But as movies come and go, I'm hoping "King Kong" has some staying power, kind of like "Titanic," because it deserves it.  I was this close to changing my mind and seeing it again today, instead of "Syriana,"  and between the two, "King Kong" is a million times more entertaining (although "Syriana" does challenge your mind a little more).  Fine, it's not for those under, probably 10 or 11 or so, but for everyone else, the dudes will love the action, the dudettes will love the sentimentality, and sure, you know how it ends, but you knew the Titanic sank and you still went to see that one.  "King Kong" in 2005 does not deserve to be a box office miss-step.  Enough preaching, now to Radio Shack, and this story will probably make this blog a little too long, but I've got to write what I've got to write, so let's get to it.

My podcast a few days spoke about my disappointment in visiting a couple of Radio Shack stores, and the lack of really getting me the items I needed.  I have to say that my experience yesterday was better, but at one store, still lacking, not because of the sales dudette not wanting to help me, but because of poor training in my eyes, and that's not a good thing as we come upon Christmas.  You see I've been working on this "not so high tech nor super high quality" portable podcast studio.  My goal is to be able to make a multiple person podcast on the road, and even get it posted, and all of it fitting in a nice case.  First necessity a laptop, and since it's the holiday season, I had that licked and at little bit of a break.  Other than the nice case, the rest of the parts should have been easily available at one or two of my local Radio Shack stores.  They sell basic microphones and a portable mixing board capable of either four microphones or two microphones and one line input.  They also sell the patch cables, wind screens for the microphones, and 9 volt batteries.  So last week I started my hunt, and at the first store I went to they had nothing I needed on display, nor the tags where the item might have been so I could inquire if they might have had it in the back room.  That and they didn't greet me.  Next stop the mall.  Not too busy, a couple of salespeople talking amongst themselves, and I give every indication I'm looking to buy something.  Yup, I found the mixer, but oddly enough the basic microphones were nowhere to be seen, and even though I picked up the mixer, was making sure it had all of the ports, plugs, outputs, that I needed, narry a sale-dude came over to ask me if I was interested in buying anything.  I don't play that game, especially since I know how the sales game should at least be played.  At the third store, I have to admit that the dude was nice enough, but upon telling him what I was looking for, and not checking in the back, or at least on the computer, he announced they didn't have any, but he could order them for me.  I wanted to buy, if I wanted to order I would do so on the web.

So yesterday I was on a mission, to finally get all of the damn things I needed.  I did some initial investigative work the day before, where at least the Radio Shack web site said a different store had, in stock as of Friday, the items I were looking for, and after seeing "The Family Stone," I headed the dude-mobile in the direction of that store.  Upon entering the store I was greeted by who seemed to be a newbie, mostly because she was younger and asked me a taught sales line of "Hello, what brings you into Radio Shack today?"  It's actually a good sales line, but most sales-folk forget it after a while, when they have become disgruntled as sales-folk, and just say something really generic like "Is there something I can help you find?"  Anyway, enough of my knowing sales technics.  Being a previous Manager of a Radio Shack, and knowing all of the things they used to look for in a saleperson at the end of the day at the corporate level, I figured, hoped, wanted this to be her easiest, sort of high ticket, multiple line item especially since it included a battery, and I might even spend the extra couple of bucks on the service plan to help her out, sale of the day.  I was her perfect customer, knowing exactly what I needed, knowing the Radio Shack product line, knowing she didn't know the add-on items like the wind screens and the battery needed for the mixer, and knowing that if I bought the couple of buck service plan on the microphones I could pretty much walk into a Radio Shack a couple of years from now, say the microphone wasn't working, and be given a new one on the spot.  But, sadly, her training was nowhere to be found, and I really felt bad for her.  She wasn't really sure of the mixer I was looking for, but there was one, in the box, on the shelf, so I nicely told her it was the first thing I was looking for.  Next, there weren't any microphones on the shelf, out of the box, nor the boxes for the microphones, so I nicely asked if that meant they were out of stock.  She didn't think they were, but they might be in the back, so she went to her manager, with the tag from the shelf that clearly said "Unidirectional Microphone," stating that I wanted two of them, and her manager said there were two microphone stands in the back room, somewhere on a top shelf.  The girl came back with the microphone stands and I had to crush her the first time by informing her I was looking for microphones, not mic stands, and I could hear the nervousness in her voice as she went back to her manager, who somewhat scolded her, then sent her back in the back room, where she came out with two microphones, and we proceeded to head to the counter, where I forgot all about the wind screens.  The girl starts ringing up the sale, finishes clicking on everything, and comes up with a total of a little over twenty bucks.  I'm too honest, and felt bad at this time because I also noticed she grabbed two different microphones that weren't even the mic's I was looking for, and nicely said "Something must be wrong."  Alright, enough rambling.  Still rattled, the girl went into the back room, turns out they only had one of the microphones I was looking for, and as I kept trying to be up-beat with her, that mistakes happen and all, I couldn't help but wonder what happened to at least the simple training that should be necessary in a store such as Radio Shack.  All the manager did, without doing it, was set up this girl, who seemed nice enough, and eager enough, to fail.  Finally I got smart, called another store saying I needed X number of these, X number of these, and one of these.  The dude, Alex, plugged the numbers into his computer, said the computer showed he had all of them but wanted to quickly check the back room to make sure the microphones were back there.  He came back on the line, said they were in stock, I told him I would be there soon, he nicely asked "Please ask for Alex when you come in," and he had the easiest sale of the day.  I still feel a little bad for the younger dudette from the earlier store, because she at least tried, much more than I can say for the stores before hers, and Alex either had a manager who really taught him the ropes getting into the holiday season, or at least just knew an easy sale when he saw it.

Look, I'm still a fan of the Shack, still know that when I need certain things I know where I can go, but from now on, I suppose if I'm really looking for something I should call first, doing all of the selling to myself, and just be bummed I'm not getting the commission or perks they used to give when I was there.

Well, that's enough lamenting about my Radio Shack struggles these days.  I've got a podcast yet to do on my mobile podcast studio and a Chicago Bears game to watch.  That and still get this blog, the podcast, and my review of "The Family Stone" posted.  There's never enough hours in a Sunday sometimes.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 8:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

Some New Postings and a Random Thought.

By: The Dude on the Right
This is just a quick blog for some updates if you want them.  First off, there's a review of "King Kong" on the website, and I loved it, and also, now, want to stalk Naomi Watts.  Second, there's a new podcast with a quick discussion of my disappointment of two Radio Shack stores, my analysis of how to lose a million dollars on "Survivor," and a quick audio review of "King Kong."

There was supposed to be a big winter storm here, in the Chicagoland region, but it didn't happen.  I think winter weather is harder for weather folks to forecast, but that's just a random thought right now.  In any case, click on the links if you want to, and see you next time.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

Bill, I'll Miss You Buddy.

By: The Dude on the Right
It was a sad day at The Dude household last week as I lost one of my "kids."  I'm really not sure exactly what caused the untimely death, but my best guess is that it was one of my crabs.  Yes, Bill, one of my fish, died last week.

Bill was a good fish.  A Court Jester Goby by birth, Bill was actually the third addition to my family, following the adoptions of Steve, a Clown Fish, and then Ashley, a Blue Tang.  When I got him he came as part of an algae cleaner pack, complete with some crabs and snails.  Immediately part of my family, Bill didn't seem to mind his new friends, but I saw something sort of strange going on:  Bill was moving the coral gravel under one of my lava rocks.  I was a little perplexed, but as I read a little bit about the Court Jester Goby, I realized he was just building a home because my aquarium set-up really didn't have an instant nook or cranny for him to call home.

So, there he was, one little piece of coral at a time, sucking it into his mouth, then spitting it out, and ever so slowly he built himself a little cave under the lava rock, and for a couple of years, this is what Bill called home, except when I did a major tank overhaul, cleaning out the gravel.  Not seeming sad or anything, he just started the home building process over again, until, alas, he had his new little cave to call home again, at least until I destroyed it, again.  But Bill would poke his head out every now and then, swim around the tank, nibble on some algae, and enjoy breakfast and dinner when I served them to the rest of the family.

But then, early last week, something didn't seem right.  Sure, every now and then, I wouldn't really notice Bill for a day or two, or maybe just catch a glimpse of him, but it occurred to me I hadn't seen him in a while, and I became a little worried.  So I removed the lava rock over his home, and there was Bill, still alive, but not looking well, especially since he didn't swim away in fear when I removed the rock.  I knew something was wrong, but fish-tank wise, all the levels were good, so I decided to set up a quarantine tank for Bill so I could get a closer look at least, and if something needed to be added to the water to help him, it wouldn't affect the other kids.  With that tank set up and Bill transferred over, he still didn't seem well, and I noticed what looked like a cut/injury to his underbelly.  I was going to try and take him to my favorite fish store, but sadly, by the next day, Bill's time on this earth had come to an end.  Bill had gone to that great aquarium in the sky, where all of the brine shrimp is free.

With my tank quality being okay, and no visible signs of a wacky fish disease, the only thing I could really come up with was that somehow one of the crabs must have snagged him.  Or maybe he just died of old age.  I really didn't know how old Bill was, I mean, it's not like I gave birth to him and actually had his birth day, but he was about 2 1/2 inches long, so at least I hope he had a fairly decent life.

I'll miss Bill.  Like I wrote before, Bill was a good fish.  He was rarely skittish (Ashley still freaks out every time I walk in front of the tank), just seemed to like to rebuild his house after I destroyed it, eat when he was hungry, and take the occasional dump in the tank, kinda like what most good fish do.  Steve and Ashley seem to sense something is different, but as a parent, I really don't know how to tell them that one of their siblings is gone, especially since you can't really have a funeral for them to attend (although I suppose, I could have scooped them out of the tank into a plastic bag, and had them see what happens to fish when they pass away), that and the fact that I don't speak Clown Fish nor Blue Tang.  I think Steve and Ashley will get over it, and at least I have a nice picture of Bill to remember him by.

Goodbye Bill.  I'll miss you buddy.

That's it for this one! I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 8, 2005

My Christmas Display is Done.

By: The Dude on the Right
Fine, I don't promise anymore.  Again, this blog was supposed to be about the size of a man's unit, with a totally unscientific study by Trash about Garth Brooks, and the rantings of one of our staff members, Whammy, but alas, I finally accomplished something more important than giving you dudettes supposed tools to help you determine if you really want to get down with a dude based on, well, it will just have to wait, because this is more important in my life right now, especially since getting down with a dude will never be important in my life.  What could be more important?  I finally finished my Christmas display.

If you read my last blog, you found out that my Christmas decorating was not going very well.  Decorations were all over the floor, I was one track short of completing my train set-up, I had to buy more train track connectors, and I was almost ready to just say "Screw it." and leave the display in total disarray because, well, as Christmas is approaching, pretty much, every day, I go from being filled with the holiday spirit to being a total Scrooge.  I finally just decided to get the damn thing finished, and I finally finished it, but it wasn't easy.

First off, I decided I needed a couple of new additions, and on my way back home from a weekend with old friends in Chicago, I stopped at the first American Sales store (they sell the village series that I started collecting) on my way back, and as I looked, on display, they had the extra lighthouse I wanted, they had the windmill I wanted, and they had the boat I wanted, but they didn't have any of them in stock to sell.  Them my obsessiveness kicked in, because, as I continued heading home, I knew I couldn't finish this display without them.  So I drive closer to my house, supposedly remembering where the next store was, but, low and behold, I forgot the powers that be turned this store into an outlet store.  I started swearing a lot, especially since I was in total "I have to get these pieces" mode or else I probably wouldn't have even been able to get to sleep.  So, yes, I drove down the street, to the new American Sales store, and yes, they had everything I needed;  The boat, the windmill, and the lighthouse, and I also picked up what I hoped would be enough fake snow.

Finally back at home, safe and sound, and over the course of a few days, I knew I needed a better game-plan than I had before, so I formulated it.  First off, get the train track secured to the plywood, using anything from thumbtacks to wood screws if necessary.  With the train track finally secured, it was time for the basic layout of the buildings and the mountain for the ski hill.  Envisioned in my head, things started to come together except for the fact that the new, plastic, pebble road, needed to be straightened out (it comes in a roll), and for a change, the internet was no help at all.  Not really sure of the best way to do this, I heated a pot of boiling water, put the rolls of "road" in the pot, and let them simmer a bit.  After that bit, I laid them out on the floor, flattening them with a bunch of Pyrex baking dishes, and low and behold, this actually worked.

The next issue, when dealing with these goofy village buildings, is getting the power to them, but somehow that all worked out, and alas, my lighthouses were lighthousing, the sawmill pond was sawmilling and ponding, my ski-lift was ski-lifting, my windmill was windmilling, and my boats were, well, not really boating, just sitting there on some blue plastic that is supposed to be water, but at least their lights were lighting.  All that working and the train was still, well, training.

Finally the last project was at hand, re-hang the Christmas ornaments that fell off of the tree at my last debacle, and then, lastly, get all of the snow positioned.  Surprisingly I had enough snow, the ornaments all fell into place (except I do need to get some super-glue to fix my Angel and Snoopy), but, for the most part, other than cleaning up the rest of the mess in my living room, my Christmas display is done.  Finally.  And just in time for the six inches of snow that fell this afternoon and evening that gave me a nearly three hour drive back to my dude-pad today, mostly my fault, because I wasn't as good as a weatherman as I usually am.  Maybe I should have called my sister, she's the one that really needs a "Weather Channel" Intervention, but that's another story for another blog, or maybe a podcast.  Merry Christmas to those of you that are Christmasers, and Happy End of the Year to those of you who aren't.

That's it for this one! I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:25 PM | Comments (0)


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