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Monday, November 30, 2015

Gives Me Shivers

Look Close or Miss the Connection

Even though the police car has a CO license plate - you have to look really really close to see it - this is an awful picture to go with this headline.

Downhill Rip

This is an email I received today. My comments are in bold/italic.
Arthurkill is a Hard Rock band from Staten Island, New York. Things have not always been easy for the band. You could say they have done it the hard way. 
Why would I say they have done it the hard way when I know nothing about them?
This is their story…..
Arthurkill was formed in the early part of 1996 in Staten Island, New York. There was a lot of musical activity at that time in the area but without any acts making significant breakthroughs into the national scene. Despite its close proximity to New York City, the region did not exactly have the major labels beating down the door of local musical talent. In fact, Staten Island is probably more famous for being the site of the world’s largest landfill site.
Needs a comma between "area" and "but" or, better yet, end the sentence and start the next one with "Without...." By the way, wanting to create a mental link between a band and "garbage" is probably not the wisest decisions.
The members of the band are:
- Ken Munson - lead vocals
- Rob Petillo - drums
- Mike Petillo – guitar
The Petillo's are brothers and first cousins' to Ken Munson so there is a strong family bond within the group.
The band started rehearsing in a studio called island sound studios in Travis in early 96. They kept late hours most time practicing into the early morning hours but thats where they developed their sound and stage show. We needed to figure out what direction we wanted to go in says Ken Munson we had so many different styles at that time we were big Bruce fans but also liked U2 and bands like motley crue and the police but we only did originals we wanted to write our own stuff that was important.
The word "rehearsing" is being used as a noun. The band actually started 'rehearsals' in 1996. If "island sound studios" is the name of a business, then it should be "Island Sound Studios." Also, it took me a minute to realize that "Travis" is the name of a city / town.  There is a jarring change in tense between the first two sentences - third person - and the third sentence - first person.
Arthurkill had its first live experience in local bars towards the end of 1996 and the buzz began to circulate about this amazing live rock band. The guys worked promoting the band with flyers and bus trips to gigs, making every effort to spread the word. Then one night in the summer of 97 at Gate Way park Staten Island NY, 8500 people showed up for an AK show, so many people came that local authorities had to close the park.
Wait, what. This is a band that is using a show from 1996 as a reason that I should be excited about them?
While the band had become a live attraction of note, the members knew recording was the only real way forward. In the Fall of 97 they went into the studio with famed rock producer Jon Ryan, probably best known for his work with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Carlos Santana and Styx.
Music business has changed and AK got caught up in that change. Grundge was the new sound and AK was stuck in between. 
Grunge, not "grundge".
We liked nirvana and sound garden great music creative but now music companys were headed out to seattle to find new bands says rob petillo nyc was no longer the place to be, thats when arthurkill started working with Mark Berry for the new album Addiction. They developed a guitar driving sound with big drums catchy songs with choruses that explode into rock anthems and vocals that sound like a nucleur reactor with pure emotion bleeding through.
 Good heavens! Whether you like the band or not, "Nirvana" is a proper noun. "Sound garden" is a single word. "Seattle" is also a proper noun. And if the entire sentence is a quote, it should follow the standard punctuation rules of the English language. I lost interest in hearing the band when I saw the following two things:

  1. The author didn't capitalize the name of the band 
  2. The author didn't bother to spellcheck - "nucleur" is not a word!

‘Addiction’ was the band’s first production in a first rate studio. It was fast, painless and just a pleasure to record and produce because they had become such a tight and well-rehearsed unit as a result of their live work. Unfortunately, in a by now classic rock and roll story, there was massive confusion with the record label despite the fact that the record received a lot of airplay, particularly on college and XM radio.
The relationship with the label came to a fairly abrupt end and everything was put on hold while the guys regrouped and licked their wounds.
Soon after the initial disappointment of the original record deal, Arthurkill came into contact with a small but growing label called On Top Entertainment Inc.

That's the end of the text in the email. After the above paragraph, there is a link to download the band's music. I won't be doing that anytime soon.


It surprises me that Lamb of God's vocalist Randy Blythe would have "addition battles" when calculators are available.

From this site.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Star Wars Wars is Cool!

Apparently I'm late again. This video was uploaded to on Jun 11, 2015.

I found the above video as a "suggested" video when I found this video:


My brain was working overtime last night. I had disturbing dreams about
  • being laid off, but it was at Quintrex, a company that I worked at for 12 years from 10/1/98 - 10/1/2010. 
    • LJS (the CEO) asked me to come into his office. 
      • He always had scented candles lit in his office and I always loved being in that room and so, of course, in my dream, the scented candles were lit. He showed me a piece of paper and said that I was no longer necessary for the operation of the company. 
    • I then returned to my desk and proceeded to box up my personal items. Then, I walked out the door in tears. 
  • The next thing I know, I was a judge in a high school talent show where each contestant played two instruments. 
    • There was a kid with a guitar strapped around his neck sitting behind a drum set. 
      • He didn't have a name but I'll call him Bill. 
    • Bill started playing a boring guitar solo that ripped off every lick Eddie Van Halen ever has recorded. Karen was there telling me how I should rate Bill as the best player in the world and that if I didn't give Bill the highest rating, I didn't know anything about music. Bill was not a good player and I didn't give him the highest rating. Karen looked at me and asked if I was deaf. 
  • The next thing I know, I'm driving down First Avenue in Cedar Rapids, looking for Nick Mart, who I used to work with at Quintrex. I don't know why I was looking for him, but I was. When I couldn't find him, Karen called me a failure and a miserable excuse for a man. 
  • The last thing I remember in this dream was I saw my life flash before me. I saw a bunch of the bullies that made my life a living hell from elementary to junior high to high school. I saw:
    1. Greg Hrubes
    2. Jeff McGuire
    3. Tim Keese
    4. Darn Utley
    5. Todd Miller 
  • and they were all looking at me, ready to beat me up. Instead of being beat up by them, as I passed by them, I kicked each one of them in the balls and punched them in the nose* without any ounce of my soul not being exerted through my fist. 
  • Then I woke up.
After waking up this morning, I have thought a bit more about this dream. It is a conglomeration of a lot of things in my life going on:
  • There's being laid off - perhaps because of the uncertainty about my job, as I mentioned the other day. 
  • There's the vivid recollection of LJS's office - perhaps because I have scented candles in the den. 
  • There's music - perhaps because I spent a lot of time yesterday organizing my music files.
  • There's Karen not liking my music - perhaps because our musical tastes have truly gone separate ways over the last 20+ years with me liking Five Finger Death Punch, Bayside, Shinedown, and other heavier acts and her liking Christian contemporary music that gets played on Life 101.9 FM.
  • There's Karen not being happy when I could not find something - perhaps because I could not find the van title recently. and me looking for what I can not find, which echoes not being able to find the van title in the den a couple of weeks ago. 
  • There's the bullies - perhaps because I watched "My Bodyguard."
So, with all of those circling in and out of my life, my brain decided to mash them all together into a single dream.

* This part of the dream, about punching bullies, probably has a lot to do with re-watching the 1980s film "My Bodyguard" and the picked upon kid is advised to "punch him in the nose" - as seen below. And, by the way, the part of this scene where the dad and son are looking at girls through the telescope is a funny scene, especially when the dad says, "I'm older, I need this" as he nudges his son out of the way (at the very end of the scene: es

See this page for the entire movie.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Batch File Results

I realize I don't post often about the Hanson Network drives and only mention it in the context of other information about my music collection. That said, I initiated some MS DOS batch files - because I like to geek out on MS DOS commands - before we left for Dave & Chris' in Blue Grass. Here are the results:

Drive B

Drive G

Drive H

Drive I

Go Hawkeyes

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Not Worked Up

I love my job.

My goal is to retire doing the same work I have been doing at my employer since 5/31/2011.

That said, I have a responsibility to my family.

There was a company-wide meeting on Tuesday.

Paraphrased, "We don't know the details, but we know we are going to have layoffs."

Thus, when an open Senior Technical Writer position came into my inbox because of pre-existing job alerts, I really had no option.

I do not want to leave where I am.

I do not plan to leave where I am.

Sometimes, though, there are things that happen in life that are unexpected. This open position would potentially be a short enough commute that I could potentially ride a bicycle to, if I were in shape and if I had a bicycle frame that fit my frame. It is doing technical writing in an area I have never, ever, been exposed to (policies & procedures) and, frankly, after nearly 20.5 years of writing software documentation, maybe the entire "what does the user really need to know?" and words on the user interface like "Unextract" and "Adjudication" that don't often seem more than jargon, perhaps it is time to change course. My goal used to be that I wanted to retire in 19.5 years. That said, I am certainly open to working longer if the job I am doing gives me energy.

Make no mistake, what I do now gives me energy. In the broad sense, I see the way in which I do my work as primitive compared to the ideas peculating in my brain. I see a method to our work where there is ZERO copying and pasting text between two different pages. I see an approach to the work I do where our content, our words, are treated like modular code is treated by a developer with variables to adapt to customer needs. Of course, I do not have the knowledge, today, for how to do these grand ideas, but these ideas give me energy. I downloaded a 200+ page PDF file about modular software development. I want to learn the nuts and bolts of the content in that PDF and implement its concepts into my technical writing work.

Frankly, that applies whether I am writing software documentation or policies and procedures. I'm beyond being able to accept "copy and paste" and using Ctrl+B and Ctrl+I to control formatting or manually setting other text attributes like size and indent. I want to construct the content so that it is not manual intervention that is used to control things like that. That's what technical writers did decades ago when it was the only way to do work. This is 2015. I'm ready to bring the work I do into the current year, even if I don't know the mechanics - today - of how to do it.

That's why today, on Thanksgiving 2015, I need to stop writing so I can go to 9 AM Mass. It's 8:28 AM now and I've not showered.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ha ha! You Made a Mistake!

There should simply be an unwavering dedication to providing the best life for every person on the planet and that unwavering dedication should trump all decisions. For each choice, the decision between the available options should always be limited to those that would make every person's life better. Any option that would harm or make someone's life worse should not be in the consideration for deciding. Only good choices.

Carly Fiorina talked about how the issues we are dealing with have been arguing about and trying to resolve are the same ones that have been around for 40 years, such as immigration.

Sometimes, I want to live in a world that would not have articles like this one.

Stop Teasing Me

Don't Recall This or That

Half-way to work today, I went into panic mode.

It was more like PANIC mode than panic mode.

I thought I had left my cell phone at home.

Unfortunately, this is something I have done to myself for years. I do not remember exactly what I did just a few moments ago.

My long-term memory is awesome.

  • I can tell you the concert I attended when the band came out and the singer played "Let It Snow" on the piano prior to the concert beginning.
    • Billy Joel 
  • I can quote the lyrics of the first song I ever really knew the lyrics to 
    • "I'm living in sin / At the Holiday Inn" by Gene Simmons on his 1978 solo release 
  • I can even say the date of the wedding I attended when I did the following:
    1. got knee walking drunk
    2. insisted the driver (JR) pull over because I was going to get sick
    3. stumbled into my room with the help from James
    4. got grounded by my mother because when I had gotten out of the car on Highway 13, I lost my balance and fell to my knees in a ditch that was muddy
    • Ken Schmitt, 7/9/1990). 

All of those things, I can tell you.

But if anyone had asked me whether my cell phone was in my bag or at home or some other place, I couldn't have answered with 100% confidence.

It was in my coat pocket. I don't remember putting it there.

In all the things going on in my busy life, I need to somehow find a way to calm my mind to the extent that I can embrace what I am doing as I do it so that I can recall what I did. It's a daily challenge for me.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Alex & I returned from NCYC in Indianapolis, IN, yesterday. It was a great trip and, over the upcoming days, I'd like to capture my thoughts and reactions to the trip. To start, this was on every Coke machine I saw inside Lucas Oil Stadium.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who Says Help

As a brief recap, Glenn & the a$$hole were cornered in an alley by walkers. The a$$hole shot himself and when he fell into the sea of walkers, he took Glenn with him. Since that episode, there has been nothing about Glenn's fate. It has been pointed out that in the comic book world, Glenn was eventually killed by a villain that has not been introduced on the TV series. That has added gasoline to the speculation that Glenn is alive.

But it's all speculation & the speculation is running wild.

Potential spoilers if you click this link or this link.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Definitely Not Overkill to Mourn

Motorhead's drummer has passed away at the age of 61, read more details here.

Not Buying It

I'm confused. Why is there zero - ZERO - love for John Kasich? I mean, really, the guy has been marginalized during the process in favor of Trump, Carson, Cruz, Fiorina, and Rubio, so yeah, maybe he did come across as a jerk, but he is also hanging over a cliff with one pinky supporting his entire weight. I call that desperate. I wrote this paragraph in response to this article.


This video indicates I am in the minority regarding my opinion of John Kasich:

UA with Wrong Choices

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Link Choices

The word "choice" is such a powerful word. The simplicity of its spelling is disarming. To fully understand and internalize its meaning is a life-long pursuit. As a Christian, I believe that God's greatest gift is the ability to choose, to rationally decide to choose A or to choose B. I know I've filled up other posts about this concept so I don't want to repeat myself.

As it pertains to work, choice is a never-ending hamster wheel. When it comes to a simple thing, such as linking to another page, there is a choice. I can put the link at the beginning of the sentence, as in these examples:
  1. This article is worth reading.
  2. To read this article, click here.
  3. You can read more about this concept. Read this article.
  4. This article - available here - is worth reading.
All of those are just skimming the surface of the way in which these words can be ordered. The possibilities are endless, especially when synonyms are introduced into the mix. The point of all of this is that there is not a single one of the options above that is 'better' than another one. Depending upon the tone and structure of the words surrounding the above options, there can certainly be a preference.

My Profile

A company auto-generated a page for me. It lists me as a "Tour Guide" in addition to these titles:
  1. Author
  2. Technical Communicator
  3. Technical Writer
Here's a screenshot of the webpage:

Just for the record, I wrote documentation for the HiMARKS (Horseman's Income Management and Record Keeping System) several years ago on a hourly basis.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

No Disservice

I took an Introduction to Music class at Mount Mercy during the Spring semester of my freshman year. It was taught by a husband & wife (William & Patricia Medley). Going into the first day of class, my preconceived idea was that we would learn about modern music. Sadly, for me, the class focused on classical music, a genre I don't know enough about to comment intelligently about. I don't recall any of our sessions discussing how to distinguish 3/4 time from 6/8 time from 9/8 from 12/8. While my brother took both piano and trombone lessons, my parents didn't allow me to take both piano and drum lessons. Imagine that. A child wanting to take piano lessons is not allowed to do so.

Anyways, I found this,1515,6769

Monday, November 9, 2015

Why Will Not People Listen

People really want to create more work for themselves. Instead of using a character style, people are manually formatting text in MS Word. WHY?!?!?!? Read about it here.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Boo Hoo

I smirked when I read this headline "The Leftist Press Attacks Ben Carson No Matter What He Says Or Does" because, frankly, changing a couple of words would also be true. Change "The Leftist Press" to "Conservative Websites" and "Ben Carson" to "President Obama" to transform the headline to "Conservative Websites Attack President Obama No Matter What He Says Or Does."

I know I can safely write that because I've linked to a lot of articles that criticize President Obama for every action he makes. While the headline has a sensationalized appeal to me, I also do not think it's fair to criticize someone else for the same actions you do.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Kate's Law Dies in Congress

Bill O'Reilly has been talking about Kate's Law ever since the murder of a woman in San Francisco, CA. Per O'Reilly,

"You will remember that 32-year-old Kate Steinle was shot dead by an illegal alien with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times. He was released from jail and protected from the feds by the sanctuary city of San Francisco."

Harry Reid refused to allow a vote.,-at-Least-for-Now/-74230106345541066.html

The Secret Sauce is Spare Time

From the Craigslist > Columbus, OH site, I would love to make my current salary doing this work on a daily basis. I would do all of the items in the list except 35mm slides. LPs, CDs, photos, cassettes, & VHS conversions are all something I enjoy doing as well. The trick is to find "spare time" to do it.

I digitize things (LPs, CD collections, slides, photos, etc) (Powell, OH)

I will cheaply digitize an old media collection for you in my spare time according to your specifications. Price is negotiable and I am happy to provide samples for review.

I can digitize vinyl LPs, CD collections, 35mm slides, old photos, cassette tapes, and (in the near future) VHS tapes. I will also transcribe written/typed documents and perform data extraction/processing on files if desired. I take pride in my work and enjoy archiving old media, so send me an email!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Only 44 Days Until the Movie Opens and the Fangs of the Haters are Sharpening

This is a ridiculous and condescending segment. Star Wars, to me, is like any franchise. You either like it and spout on and on about how great it is or you don't like it and can't even speak intelligently about the contents and sound like an idiot.

The hosts of this segment are idiots.

Another way to think of it is that I have never seen a single "Fast & Furious" movie. Thus, I don't have a qualified opinion as to whether it is a good or bad franchise. That means, if I'm talking to someone about the franchise, I say, "I haven't seen any of the movies so I don't have an informed opinion." I'll listen to the details of the franchise, but I won't call it dumb or use any negative words about it because I don't know if I like it or hate it.

In the same breath, I've filled up blog posts about my favorite movie franchises - Star Wars, Lethal Weapon, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Back to the Future, probably others I can't think of at the moment. I can speak intelligently about these franchises and offer an opinion about the merits of each franchise.

The Fox hosts needed to be neutral about Star Wars and listen to the guest's opinion about why it is a good franchise to him. Personally, I feel bad for the guest as, essentially, he's trying to explain heavy metal music to a music fan who believes that the decline of civilization began with Elvis Presley.

Great Spontaneous Things in This

There are a few awesomely great things in this video.
  1. He's having stick issues and has to deal with them as he plays. It is realistic that a drummer has some sort of stick issue while playing.
  2. The unexpected / unscripted appearance of a visitor is something I could see happening if I were filming myself playing drums.

Best Opening to a Review EVER

"I have never been more surprised by a standing ovation than I was Sunday night at the Paramount Theatre." - Rob Cline, for the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Blatant Political Post

At first, I thought this post would only be about the first item but, as with most things in my life, it became a snowball gathering bits of information until this post became what it is below.
  1. As a follow-up to the Benghazi hearings on October 22, 2015, here's more information.
  2. A reporter asks a question & then is escorted out of the room? Yes, it happened
  3. There's a vote in Houston today for Proposition 1. The Texas Values Coalition notes these five things:
    • The ordinance will allow men access to women’s bathrooms, shower rooms, and locker rooms (any “place of public accommodation”).
    • The ordinance would force employers and private business owners to violate their religious and moral convictions.
    • The ordinance promotes government-backed discrimination by seeking to criminalize opposition to homosexual and transgender behavior.
    • The ordinance equates race with sexual conduct.
    • The ordinance increases government interference in the private sector by mandating employment of homosexual and transgendered persons.
  4. Quote: "Ten thousand children are killed every single year by our completely unregulated gun industry that has fewer safety measures in place than the window blinds market!!!" 
    • Later, this Editor's Note was added:
      • Editor’s note: An earlier version of this opinion essay misstated the number of children killed every year by guns. 10,000 children are killed or injured by guns every year, according to American Academy of Pediatrics.
    • Oops, not quite that many:
    • 11,961 total homicides. Only 1,085 victims under 18. Not 10,000 by gun.
  5. These are good debate questions:

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Blue Man Group in January

Last night, Alex and I were talking about how he wanted to go see the Blue Man Group. He looked online and found out that they are playing in Ames. I looked this AM and - blamo! - they are playing in Cedar Rapids in January!!! Tickets are between $50 & $70 each, which is quite expensive.

Funny Video to Start the Month

Congratulations to ME because I did exceed the previously established number of posts for a month - 75 - in October 2015 by 6. C'mon, do the math. Yes, the number for October 2015 is 82. I mean 80. I mean 81. Final answer. 81. The current number two for most posts is November 2014, which had 75 posts. With all that is happening in November 2015, I'm predicting it is unlikely I will reach that many posts this month.

The previous paragraph and my humorous inability to add 75 and 6 is supposed to indicate why I was an English major and not a mechanical engineering major, like my niece Rachel. Currently, Rachel is currently a sophomore @ St. Ambrose in Davenport. After asking how many parties she was going to tonight - her answer was zero - we talked about her major for a few moments. This was @ the UNI v. SD football game in Cedar Falls yesterday and I know she saw me visibly shudder when she said her major required a lot of math.

Just as a follow-up to the mention above of going to the UNI football game, Megan performed within the UNI marching band at halftime. It is always awesome to see her - after all, she is my little girl who is now a college girl. That still makes me shudder a bit. Both Dad & Alex's girlfriend, Annika, went with us to the game so it was nice for Dad to see Megan in the marching band. I really don't know if Megan will march in it next year. Selfishly, I'm okay if she does because it's a good excuse to come up and see her, but I also realize it is a huge time investment for only one (1) credit hour. I think the jury is still out.

Math & mechanical engineering & seeing Megan have nothing to do with this video - I just thought it was a good way to kick off November 2015. Caution: it may be offensive if you are an asshole or a cat lover.