I got an early Christmas present today.

My mom is an amazing listener. Back at Thanksgiving during the usual after dinner bullshitting every family engages in, my sister mentioned that she had gotten a new snowblower for her sidewalk because the power shovel she had been using just wasn’t up to the task.

I live in an apartment and my sidewalks are relatively short (back is maybe 10 or 12 feet, front is 6 at the most), but with all the snow we got last winter and the fact that I’m firmly in my middle age and out of shape, it was still a pain the ass to deal with. An electric power shovel sounded like just the thing and so I asked her about her experiences and she had much to say on the topic including a brand recommendation (Toro).

Fast forward to this morning when I got an email from my mom telling me to expect a surprise when I got home. I hadn’t a clue what it could be and was quite surprised when I walked in the apartment to find this waiting for me:

Toro Power Shovel

Click to embiggen.

That was indeed a nice surprise! I’m kinda sad we’re not set to get any snow anytime soon, but when we do I’m gonna be excited about clearing the sidewalk for a change. Oh yeah, I’m going to shovel the shit out of that snow! Figuratively speaking.

Looking for gift ideas? Why not Laurel Moon Jewelry?

I don’t normally do posts that are straight-up advertisements, but Lauren is an old friend of mine and she’s been hand making some pretty damned nifty jewelry for a long time. She just recently got a new website up and running and I thought there may be some among you who would like to check it out.

If you’re so inclined, swing by Laurel Moon Jewelry and take a look around. She’s got bracelets and earrings and necklaces and stuff with different themes and even some steampunky stuff. Definitely worth checking out especially if you’re looking for something unique for someone this holiday.

Laurel Moon Jewelry

All manner of bangles and baubles.

Why does it seem like…

Status

… in the week before my annual 3 week Christmas vacation every single user who wants me to touch their keyboard is in the middle of a raging cold from the pits of Hell? I don’t normally use hand sanitizer, but it’s been getting a workout this week.

How to make a hit Christmas Pop Song.

Brett Domino is a musical genius. I am now fully prepared for making my own hit Christmas Pop Song despite a total lack of talent in the songwriting or the instrument playing normally associated with music creation. That’s how amazing this instructional video is.

Check it:

That song is going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day now.

Too Much Faith Will Make You Crazy: Canadian Resurrection Edition

There’s a passage in the Bible (Matthew 10:7-8) which reads as follows:

As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons. You have received free of charge; give free of charge.

Among a particular segment of Christians there is the belief that this means that anyone, so long as they truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, can do as Christ did and raise the dead. You can find all manner of Christians making this claim including no less than Pat Robertson of the 700 Club.

No, really, see for yourself:

So it’s amazing that we don’t hear news stories like this one more often:

Hamilton family left corpse upstairs for six months expecting resurrection.

Peter Wald, 52, died “probably around March 20th” last year, according to the agreed statement of facts read out in court Monday. He’d suffered from diabetes and his left foot had become infected. But he had refused to go to the hospital and believed God would cure him.

He went into a coma, she says, and days later she noticed his stomach bloating and signs of rigor mortis on his forehead.

She then left him – his body covered with two blankets, his head with a toque – in the bed and padlocked the bedroom door.

Kaling sealed in the door and the vents with duct tape to protect her family from the smell of the cadaver. And then for six months, life went on and they prayed for their dead husband and father in the bed upstairs as they awaited his return.

Yes, this is a real church sign.

Yes, this is a real church sign.

You’d think after a couple of weeks they’d give up, but that’s the amazing thing about faith. If you have enough of it you can keep hoping for something that’ll never happen for years on end. Hell, Christians have been waiting for Christ’s return for over 2,000 years when he promised he’d be back within the lifetime of his disciples.

Wald’s body was finally discovered by Sheriff’s when they showed up to evict the family for defaulting on their mortgage. Needless to say it wasn’t in great shape after laying around for so long and having rodents feasting on it.

“It’s an extremely sad case…she truly believed her husband was going to be resurrected from the dead, even after six months,” said assistant crown attorney Janet Booy.

[…] Kaling – who has no past criminal record – had her sentence suspended and was put on 18 months of probation and ordered to seek counseling around the “public health concerns” of the incident.

“Your belief that your husband would resurrect is not an issue,” Superiour Court Justice Marjoh Agro said at her plea Monday.

I’d dispute the idea that her religious beliefs aren’t an issue. This woman allowed a body to decay in her home possibly creating a health hazard not just for her and her children, but the neighborhood in general, specifically because of her religious belief that her husband would be resurrected by God. She may not have had criminal intent, but that doesn’t mean her beliefs weren’t the cause of the issue.

And, like any other good Christian, this utter failure on God’s part to answer her prayers has in no way shaken her faith or her belief that raising the dead is a thing people can do:

But she still believes strongly in resurrection, and says there have been many “documented” cases of it around the world. Her faith was not shaken by the legal consequences, she says.

“In fact it has cast me more at the mercy of God, because He is the ultimate judge.”

It’s not that there isn’t a God to grant her the power to raise her dead husband after not granting the husband’s prayers for a cure, it’s just he works in mysterious ways/has a Grand Plan that didn’t include bringing the dead guy back.

The good news is she’s at least sensible enough that she says she won’t try something like this again. Of course a lot of religious nutcases say that and end up doing it again because the prospect of pulling off their own little miracle is just too tantalizing to pass up. See any number of stories of people refusing medical treatment for their kids and nearly killing them in the process who tell the judge they’ll never do it again only to do it again and have the kid die on them.

Happy Thanksgiving 2014 from SEB!

There’s a lot to be thankful for in my life, but some of the greatest things are just the opportunity to spend time with the ones I love. Like this guy:

We don't call him Cuddles for no reason.

We don’t call him Cuddles for nothing.

They say cats don’t love their humans the way dogs do, but you’d be hard pressed to convince me of that in this case.

Things IT people never say.

Here’s a cute video. Many of these, but not all, are truth.

Many of these are things I have said — “submitting multiple tickets actually does get it done faster” — though in a much more sarcastic fashion making it clear that I am not actually suggesting that approach. I have said that I love Windows and not in a mocking way. Of the available options these days, it’s grown to be one of the best and its flaws do keep me employed.

Several of the lines literally made me laugh out loud. “It’s not about the money, I do it for the chicks” and “I can’t find any guys to play video games with me” being two of them.  I have sincerely said that I feel very appreciated here rather recently. The folks where I work today really do show their appreciation for the job that I do. Though that’s admittedly a rare thing in my career. I have also said that something took less time than I expected it to, but that’s because I often overestimate how long something will take just in case something unexpected pops up during the process. I’ve also said thank you and thanks for being patient, especially when I didn’t overestimate how long something was going to take and something unexpected popped up.

That said, it’s a cute video with much truth in it.

Hey! Who moved all my crap?

Hey look! It’s my annual clean-the-work-desk-off day. Once a year around about this time I clean up my desks and you can tell that they are, in fact, desks. I’ve had no end of comments from coworkers passing by of the “Hey! You really DO have a desk under there!” variety.


This year’s motivation is the pending arrival of auditors from China next week. I’m not expecting to interact with them directly, but there was some desire expressed to have a more “professional” looking work environment in place. The truth is there was plenty of stuff I’d been meaning to get to sorting through to figure out what needed to be recycled and what needed to be put into the storage room and this was a good excuse to take the time to do it. I also went through all the boxes on top of my cubicle to see what they had in them and they were all empty save for one that held all the old wireless access points we replaced awhile back.

I should be able to keep things relatively clutter free through the holidays (the fact that I’m taking my usual 3 week vacation in December will help) and then in January I’ll get started on junking them back up again so I can clean them off again next November.

PoliTech asks college students basic history questions…

… the results of which are very disheartening. Granted, this is in Texas where there’s an effort to have textbooks rewritten to push a Conservative slant on all topics, but these aren’t even politically fraught questions. These are basic facts that it’s stunning to think anyone with an IQ larger than their shoe size doesn’t know.

Check it:

headdeskBut, hey, if you want to know what show Snooki was on or who Brad Pitt is/was married to then these kids have got you covered!

To be fair, I can’t recall the last time knowing who won the civil war was critical to my day to day life and knowing that the Vice President is Joe Biden doesn’t help me fix a client’s computer any faster. In the interest of being completely honest I’ll admit that while I do know who we gained our independence from, I wasn’t entirely certain what year it was as it’s a bit of a vague question. My knee-jerk response is 1776, but that’s the year we declared independence. The war itself didn’t actually end until 1783. You could argue we didn’t actually gain it until the war ended. The really sad part is that I do know what show Snooki was on in spite of NEVER HAVING WATCHED THE FUCKING SHOW. I also know who Brad Pitt is/was married to because it’s all anyone talked about back when he dumped one to go to the other.

These people don’t strike me as stupid. They’re just ignorant about the history of their country. I suppose we could debate over how important knowledge of these questions really is, but the point is that you have to work hard at being that ignorant given these are basic facts first taught in elementary school and repeated throughout the years. Given how many times this was covered in my time in public schools I find it hard to imagine there’s any way you could finish K-12 and not know these facts by heart. OK, the Joe Biden one doesn’t really count. I can understand not knowing the dates of important historical events because I was pretty crappy at remembering dates myself, but I at least have a general idea of the time period they happened in.

Are they just not teaching these things in school anymore?

Today’s Now I Feel Old Moment: Kids React to an Old Camera.

It’s easy sometimes to forget that I’m nearly 50. That there are children alive today who have never known the trials and tribulations involved in taking candid photos of your birthday or vacation that I had to endure in my youth. Things like having to buy a camera and then having to buy film and buying flashcubes and then not being able to see how the pictures turned out until after having paid to have them developed. Kids like these kids:

My first camera that I actually owned myself was a Kodak Pocket Instamatic 10 first introduced in 1972. I doubt I got one that year as I was 5 years old, but I somehow ended up with one eventually. Not sure if it was new or a hand-me-down from a relative, but it was my first introduction to taking pictures. Back in 1972 it was “less than $28″, which works out to about $160 today. It was a pretty easy camera to use in part because there wasn’t a lot of options to fiddle with. The biggest choice was whether or not to use a flashbulb and the second biggest was whether or not to use the flashbulb extender thingy to avoid giving your subjects red eye.

Things like loading the film was ridiculously easy as you can see here:

Bonus points for the commercial featuring Dick Van Dyke.

I think the most amazing thing about the 110 format is that the film stock is still being produced and some companies are still making cameras that use it. Apparently the flaws of the format that were an annoyance back in the day are now sought out by artists looking to add character to their photographs.

Anyway, watching the kids trying to use an older 35mm camera had me feeling old and crotchety so I thought I’d share the pain.