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Exit ArchiveArchive for December, 2005

Another greeting from the phone, 15 minutes from Mountain Time New Years. And a good way to start the new year: Winning Monopoly with $11,382 in assets. May the year be as good to you all!

Monopoly game

Okay, so I ran out of room on the last post (go read that one first). Here’s the last pic I wanted to send:



Permalink Comments Off on The Aquarium in the MountainsComments Off on The Aquarium in the Mountains By

I’ve been off the Net, but today was aquarium day (I’m in Denver), so I’m experimenting with a multi-picture post from my cell phone. If this doesn’t work… Well, then you’ll never know! (NOTE: I have now had a few moments to edit the entry into its proper order.)

First, it’s Nathan, Eddie, and Robbyn in a bubble!

Nathan, Eddie, and Robbyn in an aquarium bubble

Then it’s Eddie and a giant grouper!

Eddie and the giant grouper

So – I do this thing on itunes where you change the official album name of a particular song to your own customized album label such as “Senior Year” or “2004 Summer.” This way, when I sort by album, I have immediate access to pre-set mixes. (Yes, I know what smart playlists are.)


I downloaded AULD LANG SYNE last night and changed the album name from “Ho Ho Hoey” to “2006.” Writing out the TWO-ZERO-ZERO-SIX, I couldn’t believe that we were at the half-way point from the millenium to 2010. Wasn’t there like a movie called 2010 and wasn’t it about the FUTURE? and here we are with 2006 around the corner and 2010 not so far in the distance. In a way, our present is now the future. Blink and I’ve traveled through time. Of course, thinking this last night at 2am in the morning caused an onset of panic because if indeed we are already into our future, then woe is me that has accomplished so little to add peace and contentment to my life. Sigh! 2006 better kick ass cause I worked hard in 2005, mourned in 2004, and was depressed in 2003.


In the true spirit of the holidays, I began thinking about my life and searched for those re-occuring themes. All I came up with was HURT. HURT never changes. HURT still hurts the same after all these years. You’d think we’d get immuned to it after a while. Especially, the HURT of people lettting you down or people disappointing you. And not just people-people but the people in your life. Because just when you’ve almost learned that lesson where you prepare your heart by expecting occasional let downs from those that you turn to for strength, acceptance, validation, and a good laugh… just when you’ve almost got that practice down, you get hit in the head with the darker lesson that the people in the aforementioned lesson are all you’ve got in this life. but this time, I don’t mean anyone in particular. I mean people-people. You know, people in general because there really is no one else, really, but falliable people in general. There’s not that better soulmate who will love you faithfully, blindly, and without logic – as if love was a religion in itself. There’s not that better first love who will let you let him go since altho he may love, he knows that you love him more. There’s not that better man who will refrain from tracking dirt unto your off-key singing because they should know that singing is one of the few simple pleasures that you have maintained to hold on to after 30 years. There’s not that better buddy. Not that better boss. Not that better best friend. Not that better relative. Not that better role model. At 30 years old and at the end of 2006, this is a cold lesson that I’m now having to learn on top of that first lesson that still HURTS like a mofo. Swallowing. Ain’t it tough? Maybe she was right, that Sheryl Crow. Maybe its not about having what you want but wanting what you’ve got.


Been watching Little House on the Prairie. Damn, what a good show. Pure. A bit idealistic but very pure. I’m finding myself either welling up with tears or containing my laughter with my hands covering my face like the Asian boy that I am because its now 3am and the new roommate is sleeping. Notice I said “new” and not “better” Maybe “new” is all we have left to look forward to. Maybe “new” is the new “better”


The point that I’m trying to drive home is that I miss you Steve and this is me sharing myself on your forum.

Hello everyone. Meet the latest member of our family:

Dad and Holly

In case you’re not sure who I’m talking about, it’s the one in the gray. Er, okay, that wasn’t helpful…

Since my parents’ cat Sunny died a while back, my dad’s been very gung-ho about getting another cat. Yes, he’s been talking about it since I got here on Thursday, but he’s been on about it long before then. My folks have a second cat, Charlie, but they think having two cats is a good idea for when they go on trips and things. The cats can keep each other company. You know, play poker, watch DVDs from Netflix, make prank calls to the pizza place…

Well, dad broke down today. He went to the pet store early and came home with this cute creature. My sister came down and woke me up with her. Apparently, while I was still sleeping, they had already named her Holly. Full name, Holly Berry, in honor of Christmas. (I was up too late to chime in that that moniker was much too close to that of a certain famed actress, but they would not have listened to me anyway. No matter; I concede Holly’s a cute name.)

Here’s everyone enthralled with the little cat, who’s running around somewhere off screen:

The Family Watches Holly

My dad said Holly was the last cat in the store, which I find hard to believe. Not because my dad’s a noted liar, but because this is the sweetest kitten I have ever seen. She is curled up with me now, and has been since I’ve been putting this post together. My sister was kind enough to capture this with a snapshot:

Posting with Holly

Holly’s been nuzzling, purring, climbing up my chest to rub her head under my chin, and other extremely extra-cute things that you expect kittens to do, yet most of them don’t because they are scared or mean or just not very nice. Thanks to her utter cuteness and extra-special miniature feline neediness, I’ve been typing most of this with one hand. Tedious, but acceptable when a small, furry animal is nestled in the crook of your arm.

A Warm Little Bundle of Holly

Holly loves each and every one of us. It’s not enough for her to be in our laps; she must climb as far up us as she can. She has ridden my shoulders twice today. And lest you think she’s done nothing but cozy up to us, she’s had her share of fun running around the house to explore. But she’s good at multi-tasking: exploring, then nuzzling, then running, then cuddling. Franklin Covey is in her DNA.

Holly Asleep

Charlie’s not happy, but that’s how it goes. Holly is unafraid of Charlie, but Charlie’s pulling the whole “I’ve been scorned!” act. This tiny kitten getting the best of big, lumbering Charlie is amusing.

Well, here’s one last picture. As you may know, my dad is fond of accessorizing with Christmas bows (exhibits here and here), and enjoys teasing the cats by forcing them to accessorize as well. Holly got this treatment on her first day:

Bowed Holly

What a first day for this little fuzzy happy fun cat. And tomorrow’s Christmas. Oh, the paper! THE PAPER! It promises to be an exciting day for every one of us.

In case I don’t get online tomorrow because of all the paper, I’ll take this moment to say


Thank fucking God. I mean, really. Intelligent design was shot down today by a federal judge. Read this wonderful quote from the ruling:

To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions.

Read the entire article (linked above), because there are some more gems. The judge who wrote the decision, Judge John Jones (that’s a TV show in the making!), even comments that his decision might be deemed the workings of an activist judge. “Those who disagree with our holding will likely mark it as the product of an activist judge. If so, they will have erred as this is manifestly not an activist court,” he wrote. Jones was appointed by Bush. How about them intelligently-designed apples?

Oh, this is a sweet, sweet victory for common sense and the real “truth.” While it only holds for the Pennsylvania school district, it’s a great step toward sanity. I can now leave for the (admittedly Christian-based) holidays with a happy sigh.

Mountain Dew Mutant Strain

Carol brought this to me today. It was in a batch of sodas at a meeting supplied by Disney catering. How it got to Disney, how it got to catering, and how catering managed to include it is beyond us all.

The label says, in its entirety, minus the boring parts, “Test Product Only. Not for Resale. Mountain Dew X, Variant No. 516 + Power Pack.” I believe this product must have ended up being Mountain Dew MDX, since it’s mostly the same ingredient list and nutrition fact content. Though instead of the first ingredient being carbonated water, as in MDX, Variant No. 516’s first ingredient is “treated water.” Yummy!

If I decide not to save it to sell on Ebay to earn enough to buy myself a life on unwarranted leisure, I will drink it, and then I shall let you all know how it tastes.

One of the work projects that was keeping me too busy to post much of anything—at least, before I took the hour to carefully construct a self evaluation—was designing our company’s holiday e-card. The quote from the usual team who designs and posts these cards was exorbitant, and I was tapped to do it on the cheap.

To me, “on the cheap” does not mean “crappy,” so I spent days working on the graphic for the e-card. I chose to use the teaser key art from Narnia, since that was gonna be our big holiday release.

Below is the original key art, with my finished design next to it (or under it if your browser window is too small (that’s not in any way passive–aggressive, is it?)). You can click on each to see a bigger version.

The Original ArtMy Holiday Card

To do what I wanted on the card, I needed to learn some stuff. The Photoshop work was the easiest: removing the dark castle and lightening the sky and enhancing the glow from the sun. The thing I was not sure how to do was create and add the 3D version of our logo castle. So I tinkered with an inexpensive 3D program called Carrara 3D Basics 2 (version 4.1.2… Huh?). I discovered its infuriating limitations and bugs, but got a nice-looking ice castle out of the thing. For the Happy Holidays text, though, Carrara’s bugs could not be overcome, and I had to rely on an After Effects plug-in called Zaxwerks Invigorator Pro. Invigorator creates some great-looking stuff, but its interface is tedious to use.

After a week, I had a good graphic that I was mostly proud of. The next step was figuring out how to serve the graphic via an online interface, where BVHE employees could go to enter e-mail addresses and greeting text and have that all combined together with the graphic and mailed to the recipients. This took another week, not because the coding was hard to do, but for many other reasons that I won’t get into. Though I usually like to dwell on such details, that’s not the point of this whole post. The point is, after figuring everything out and having a nice graphic to use, the project was canceled.

Yup. All that work, and no go. It seems that the point was made, that it could be done on the cheap without spending $10,000. Oops. Did I reveal that amount? Oh, well. Bad me. We would have spent under $2,000 had we completed the project. And the parts of that that did not include hiring our own vendor to program the PHP e-mailing code are going to be useful for other projects in the future.

One gets used to that kind of waste of effort in this business. What actually bothered me most is that no one would get to see my graphic. Which is really the reason for this post. So I can show off my work. I added all this text so my selfish puffery could be swathed in an illusion of legitimacy!

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Here’s an interesting tidbit in Slate that discusses a viewpoint of the current state of Creationism that I hadn’t thought of before.

I was just saying Saturday night at a holiday party, after jumping off from the base topic of Brokeback Mountain, that the backlash against gays and same-sex marriage we’re seeing is the final push of a conquered bigotry. We will get the right to marry. It will happen. As any shift toward a more accepting society has taken place, be it anti-slavery, voting rights for women, desegregation, or any other of a truckload of issues, the final push of the close-minded is inevitable, rearing up as a more vocal, more angry, more serious threat than it really is in the end. Bigotry won’t be erased, but it will be less powerful in the end.

I hadn’t thought about that in the case of the whole Intelligent Design thing. Read the article and see what I mean…

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It just gets sillier and sillier. Now the music companies (not the record companies, though often they are all the same conglomerate anyway) are trying to get rid of song lyrics sites. Yes, you read that correctly. Can you believe this? Now that the iPod and iTunes can store lyrics for songs, seems another cranky baby in the big cradle of music is throwing a tantrum over nothing. How embarrassing for human kind that such people exist.

Read the article at BBC News and commentary at Ars Technica. UPDATE: Here’s another article, from Macworld, with a smidgen of new info.

The articles note that PearLyrics, a little app that searches the Web and pulls song lyrics to use in iTunes, has been forced to be pulled from distribution thanks to the particularly whiny baby Warner/Chappell. I use this software and have found it very helpful. I’m slowly attaching lyrics to all my iTunes music. It’s not perfect software, but it saves lots of time. If anyone wants to try it out, I’d be happy to send it to them. Really. this sort of thing gets me so mad, I can’t stand it, so I don’t mind getting PearLyrics out to anyone else who might find it handy.


ANOTHER UPDATE: Instead of wasting another post, I’ll include this relevant musing from Engadget here. What a mess it all is…

WICKED NEW UPDATE: The PearLyrics link above takes you to an updated page wherein the guy who made PearLyrics discusses getting a call from Warner/Chappell. Click the link again and read what has happened. I am surprised that the music industry semi-apologized, but not surprised PearLyrics is not back up for download. This small turn does not make the music industry unevil, just a teensy weensy tiny winy bit less evil. Just a bit. Just a tiny teensy bit. A negligible amount, really.

Today was the due date for self evaluations at work. Of course, I didn’t start mine until about 11:00.

It being a corporate document, the self evaluation form this year was, to put it mildly, a screaming hoot. I do not know why the corporate world needs its own language when the words that normal people use would work just fine. The language was so inspiringly ridiculous that I decided to answer using the most obtuse sentence structure possible, sprinkling in plenty of my own made-up words to spice things up.

I just turned this form in, with a gentle warning to my boss regarding its contents. The self-criticisms are legitimate, but they will take some concentration to decipher. Our evaluation meeting in January (or is it April?) will be a true event.

Here, now, for you, today, is the first section of my self evaluation and the corporate speak that egged me on. The first 2 lines are the title of the section and its description. Following that are selected “behaviors for the position,” where I had to put Xs if they were relevant to my position. (I chose to comment on truly amusing phrases.) My own comments follow that.

* * * * * *

Develops a game plan for success

X Envisions an inspiring future direction
X Develops clear and consistent strategies to achieve the vision
_ Leverages synergy opportunities across functions and businesses
X Makes sound business decisions that balance competing priorities
X Examines issues from a broad perspective, considering impact beyond immediate scope
_ Identifies key business opportunities and challenges
X Uses knowledge of the company’s products and services to meet customer needs and financial targets
X Stays current on business issues, industry trends, and technological advances

COMMENTS: My job is less about finding and developing new strategies and more about handling current strategies or facilitating necessary changeal modal morphic parameters to strategy stratagems. I stay very current on trends relevant to our departmental business proclivities. I sometimes push to envelope-stretch our current operational functionalities, but tend to back away from unpositive responsal results. Sometimes I do not give credence to impact which is antithetical in nature to the desired end result prepondered in my cranial lobes.

* * * * * *

Cultivate relationships to advance business goals

X Establishes critical external alliances
X Engages colleagues across the Enterprise to optimize performance
? VAGUE Manages the needs of diverse stakeholders
X Facilitates win-win situations
X Resolves conflicts effectively
X Interacts well with people who have different backgrounds and work styles

COMMENTS: I do not generally establish critical external alliances, except with Switzerland and Iceland. I don’t often deal with external resources unless a relationshipal relationship has been previously established. I am good with establishing modual communications in project packet units with pre-established external homo sapiens, and often communicate well, like I’m doing now. I do often get fed-up with humanoid resources who might impede a precognitively defined standard of interface and common sense, but feel I have made improvement in handling such individuals with a more tolerant manner. Sometimes. But not always.

* * * * * *

Inspires, influences and informs others

X Obtains full engagement through inspiring communications
? VAGUE Provides appropriate rationale and context to drive commitment
X Effectively persuades others to support ideas and plans
X Tailors messages appropriately to the audience
X Invites diverse points of view
X Listens and asks questions to ensure understanding
X Conveys relevant information in a candid and timely manner

COMMENTS: I enjoy inspiring communications because communications are easy to inspire (I blame gullibility). I believe communicational qualities within the context of my own selfal beingness are good, and the above articles of critique (aside from the poorly-worded, obscurely syntaxed, vague references) well describe one of the more salient qualities one (being me) would ascribe to the same one (being me). I listen and communicate good.

* * * * * *

Delivers timely, high quality work that adds value

X Translates strategy into specific priorities, objectives and action plans
? POORLY WORDED Develops appropriate metrics to assess business performance
X Manages projects, processes and resources to produce desired outcomes
X Holds self and others accountable to high performance standards
X Achieves high levels of customer satisfaction
X Analyzes problems effectively and takes action to resolve
X Uses technology to facilitate better results
X Keeps commitments

COMMENTS: We do not use metrics in the U.S., but imperial units. While I hold myself and others outside of my bodily and spiritual real estate to high standards and try to communicate those standards to those who are not me, I sometimes concentrate too much on those standards, and strategical timelines can become compromised. I keep to my commitments and use technology well. Often the spatial time sequence definition of processes can become poorly executed by he who is myself. I still suffer from the corporate bane of negative anticrastination, and sometimes feel the inspiration module of the process acceptance section of the corporeal me is lacking in oomph.

* * * * * *

Generates breakthrough ideas to improve performance

X Creates an environment that encourages creative thinking and supports risk taking
X Proactively looks for new opportunities
X Takes risks and manages them intelligently
X Facilitates the exchange of ideas and creation of new ones
? DEFINE TERMS Transfers ideas and successes across boundaries
X Challenges the status quo
X Conceives creative ideas to solve problems or meet objectives

COMMENTS: While successful in the execution of status quo challenging (see current document) and activation of creational motivations for execution of staid processes and their variables, the selfsame moi would be hard-pressed to agree that the me of myself regarding the practice of risk taking and opportunity creation proactivation is good. I feel with much sometimesness that a creativity emphasis is often sacrificed by typical corporate mundanaety, and do not therefore engage the upoffthetuckus activation engines to propel the mespace into action to explore new and bountiful means of process acquisition and execution. I get lazy.

* * * * * *

Advances new initiatives that align with business strategy

X Articulates a compelling business case for change
X Leads the change effort from inception to the attainment of desired results
X Builds commitment to change
X Coaches others through change
X Supports new initiatives
X Demonstrates flexibility in response to changes
X Remains productive despite uncertainty

COMMENTS: Champions DO change. Look at Pete Rose! As there often is not a compelling need for change in business apparent in the mindset of the business itself, I (who is me) tend to offer notions of change without articulating a compelling business motivation. The me who is I is at once a benefactor of change and an opponent to change. The conceptual definers of specific modes of change are the defining parameters for my agreeance or exclusance. I resist some change, but push for others. My yogaic flexibility vis-à-vis change is similarly motivated. Sadly, I can become unproductive when change is uncertain, or if the definition of the parameters of the change and, therefore, the operational activities defined by the parameters of the definition of the change (and such) produce inconclusive sureness.

* * * * * *

Aligns people to a shared purpose

X Provides appropriate direction, resources and environment needed for success
_ Proactively recruits, retains and develops a diverse range of talented people
_ Provides challenging work assignments and developmental opportunities
X Addresses performance issues and takes appropriate action
X Recognizes and rewards the achievements of others
X Strengthens others through mentoring and feedback
X Supports productivity and morale of the team

COMMENTS: Subject of current evaluation needs to accomplish more in the way of motivation, support, and rewarding of other corporately-employed human beings. Decisions pursuant to the completion of the processes of the functions of the business of the Enterprise upon which the responsibilities of me take their rest less with others, yet should perhaps more often do so. The earthly reflection of the currently speaking self (me) would do better to provide positive feedback to those with whom I often also provide critical assessment. Leadership of persons outside of myself could be enhanced. I do take it upon the me to address certain issues of detriment in procedural procedures, and also provide a support of the general morale (especially during escapist extra-office adventures) utilizing humor and wit. Though sometimes it’s not funny.

* * * * * *

Acts as a role model for others

X Pursues excellence with integrity, passion and courage
X Sets a good example for others
X Shows consistency in words and actions
X Learns from personal and organizational experiences
X Strives for self-improvement
X Maintains composure under pressure
X Earns the trust and respect of colleagues, partners and customers
X Treats others with respect

COMMENTS: Through a general disregard for the institutions of corporate practice, I at once simultaneously earn the respect and trust of resources who are not me and also fail to set a good example for same. Striving to keep the sanctity of the individuality of the oneself of meness can conflict with the decorum and expectations of the tried, true, but hubritical corporate structure. This can at times create detriment in the form of new pages in my employee file, but can at times be refreshing and caffeine-free for others. The motivation to improve and seek inwardly the evolution of skillsets and energies is likewise both successful and neglectful of success.

So I’ve been very quiet on here lately, aside from all the comments on the last Thanksgiving post. And it just so happens something happened today that is relevant to that post.

But first, I never really explained what happened that fateful day/night. So get comfy, ’cause here it is:

After boarding the plane for a 4:00 departure, after we’re all sitting comfy on the 100% booked plane, the pilot comes on and tells us to get off. Not that rudely, but you know… There was an oil leak in an engine, so the plane was not fit to fly.

(I always get some amusement thinking that these kinds of problems only crop up between flights, that this oil leak, for instance, did not develop during the plane’s previous flight and it happened only while it was on the ground. Because, you see, the plane can’t fly with an oil leak. But I make no sense, so never mind.)

After deplaning, we were told another plane was wrangled into service for us, but we would not leave until 8:00. Then, quietly and without any verbal announcements, that time changed to 9:00.

I was not really hungry, but Marcy and I decided to eat to pass the time. Yes, we’re Americans. I went up to the gate agent and asked if they were giving out meal vouchers, which is common with such a long delay. Oops, I mean WAS common. “We’re not doing that since this flight was not scheduled for catering.” I simply smiled, shook my head, and did not tell the guy what I was thinking, which was, “But you never have catering anymore, so what does that matter? You don’t serve free food anymore! We have to pay for your crappy airline food now, and it’s only cold sandwiches! None of your flights are ‘catered,’ and therefore we get screwed out of a convenience once again because you’re all too greedy and stupid to…” And so on.

My burger at the restaurantesque establishment was terrible, but there was entertainment in the form of a tipsy woman on her cell phone calling everyone she knew to tell them about how she missed her plane in London. I caught her in a movie on my phone, so that’s another post for another time.

Our new plane finally arrived, after I got some good reading done on The DaVinci Code. At this point, an announcement happened: “Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t think a departure time of 9:00 is likely at this point, so we’re adjusting the departure time to 9:15.” Again, I launched into some vitriol, but this time out loud to my poor audience, Marcy. “Why don’t they just say 9:30? 10:00? We all know 9:15 is as unlikely as 9:00! Why lie? Just push the time to something more truthful!”

Thankfully, because passengers from the 4:00 who had connections had been shoved onto other flights, the new plane was not full. After boarding and settling, we sat and sat. We did not take off until 10:30. How these things happen is beyond me, but that’s how it goes. At this point, I simply did not care. I had a fun book, so I was fine.

Once up in the air, the trip was uneventful. Of course, they did not offer to feed us for free. We still had to pay $7.00 for a shrink wrapped wrap. I did not pay for said wrap, as I do not believe in it. The money the airlines save by not feeding us is not going to save them from bankruptcy. I’m sure they’ve been trying to figure out how to get rid of the food for decades, and 9/11 provided the perfect excuse. (I must bring up this old post, wherein United decided it’s more important to re-paint all their planes than provide either good customer service or decent benefits for their employees.)

Blah blah blah.

Cut to today, when the following arrived in my e-mail:

Dear Mr. Lekowicz:

It’s completely realistic for our most frequent travelers to put flight dependability at the top of their list of expectations from us. For that reason, we were disappointed to learn that flight 133 was delayed for so long on November 29. After our manager in New York apprised us of the details, we wanted to take the opportunity to apologize to you for the disruption of your travel plans to Los Angeles.

I realize that our expression of regret is of small consolation in light of the time you spent waiting in New York for your flight to depart. I hope you will accept the addition of 11,000 Customer Service Bonus miles to your AAdvantage(r) account as a more tangible apology. You should see this mileage adjustment in your account very soon. For your convenience, you can view your account via We appreciate your understanding during the delay of your flight and hope to have your continued business. We will do our best to provide a smooth trip the next time you fly with us. We’ll look forward to the opportunity.

I first have to say that I was bowled over. I have made it no secret that I think customer service is, on a whole, horrible. To wit: this and this. So when a company actually admits to making a mistake and takes steps on its own to make amends, is so shocking it’s sad. Sure, it’s a form letter, which implies that they send out this kind of apology a lot, but it does not diminish my surprise.

A couple things to note about the e-mail:

11,000 miles? Who came up with this strange number?

It’s very important to put the (R) representation of ® there because, you know, I could steal it for my very own!

I’m glad I got this e-mail, because I’ve generally liked American more than United. They have more leg room on their planes, the same kind United now charges extra for. Their seats are much more comfortable, unlike the horrible ones on United that force your head to jut out in front of your body at an unnatural angle. Those two items alone can make a 5-hour flight much more endurable.

Now, the fun will be where am I going with these miles? Before the trip, I had 19,000 miles. After this trip and its various bonuses and apologetical addenda, I have over 36,000. Suddenly, the inconvenience of JFK has melted away into possibilities! And I did have time to finish my book, too, so…