oh the buzzwordity!


My current job, which, I think, maybe, on the whole, I’m going to eventually grow to like, possibly, once I truly come to terms with the fact that I don’t actually make anything anymore so much as enable other people to make thing, involves a lot of business-speak for something that’s nominally in the world of information technology.

As most of you know, I’ve been employed in the public sector for nigh on twenty years (and that’s as specific as I’ll get on the topic), and while I’ve spent most of that time engaging with private sector contractors, the last couple of months has been new in the sense that I’m actually in charge of directing the work they do, rather than just working side-by-side with them. I’ll be honest, it’s probably closer to management than I’m actually comfortable with, but it’s mostly managing stuff that I have some familiarity with, and the folks who do the actual work know what they’re doing and mostly make me look competent.

Occasionally, though, I run into interactions that leave me baffled. One individual I deal with regularly somehow manages, in response to what I’m relatively sure is clear, concise, and unambiguous correspondence, to answer in what feels less like cogent language and more like a textbook from a low-rent MBA program went on a two-week bender with an 80s valley girl, and after getting far too enthusiastic with drink, emptied the contents of their collective insides into my inbox.

To protect the guilty, I’m not going to quote any of it here, but, it’s all short, clipped, incomplete sentences with lots of “paradigm shifting” and “actionable intelligence” and “project statusing” and such, with every paragraph ended with a single word sentence like “Cool?” or “Awesome.”, serving more as punctuation and performance art than adding any value*.

It often takes reading-over several times, and then checking in with a colleague to figure out what this person is actually trying to say. Not the kind of thing I ever look forward to first thing in the morning; it’s baffling and exhausting.

This has been your occasional window into my work life. I promise, I’ll keep this stuff to a minimum, because it’s really the last thing I want to think about; I’ll get back to the more interesting stuff I do that feels creative and pays me (almost) nothing soon.


* – my language here is, sadly, approaching mba-speak. I promise you that it’s just a survial mechanism, or perhaps a manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome. I haven’t joined up with the enemy.




If you see me today and I seem a little more down (than usual anyway), please forgive me. It’s not you. It’s just me noticing someone missing who I think would have gotten a real kick out of some of the cool stuff my family and I manage to find ourselves doing (or for that matter, my family in general).

Don’t mind me, I’ll be better soon.


rocking for spock


Among all the other things this weekend, I played a show with my friends The Blibbering Humdingers at a local venue in town; ’twas us and our fellow nerd-rockers Paradox Machine playing to a full house of friends and nerd-rock fans, which was pretty great. We had a lot of local (and not so local) friends come out for an evening of music, and a good time, it seems, was had by all.

I know we had fun, anyway. We played a great set, including one new tune that’ll end up on a record at some point (a Doctor Who-themed country tune called “Key To Your Hearts”) and as the event was titled “Rock for Spock” ( it was officially scheduled right after Leonard Nimoy’s death a few weeks back), my bandmates surprised me with an impromptu (and largely improvised) version of the late actor’s iconic “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins”, during which I hit most of the right notes.

My friend Scott (not the singer) shot the following photo during the set – you can almost see me back behind Scott (the singer)’s giant top hat:

We’ve got a few more gigs coming up in the next couple of weeks/months, including a slot opening for Wizard Rock pioneers Harry and the Potters (which is a big deal in the wrock world) in Cary NC, and a couple of convention gigs at local (for me) events RavenCon (April 24-26) and (for them) ConCarolinas (may 29-31).

How the hell I ended up as such a busy musician in my early middle-age never ceases to amaze me.


“i won’t break today”


As much as I hate to admit it, the subject of this post is what I find myself chanting to myself as I walk from the parking lot to the office door every morning these days. Things are a little rough around my office right now; first, because I’m still figuring out what the hell my job is supposed to be (and I recently picked up another whole job when someone pulled a quickie retirement a couple of weeks ago), but secondly, because there’s a big dark, scary cloud of reorganization on the horizon for the whole organization, and nobody quite knows how it’s going to shake out; my job is secure, though almost everyone else is pretty worried, not knowing where they’re going to end up once the smoke clears (though the rumors are such that if I hadn’t been hired for the particular slot I’ve been in since January, I would’ve ended up getting shunted over to this office soon enough anyway*).

There’s some stress around here, it’s safe to say.

And that’s just the office. At home, we’re sort of down to one car at the moment; the van hit a pothole last week, and dented up the fancy aluminum/nickel alloy rim such that it has been deemed irreparable. The dealer wanted an unreasonable price for one, and as I couldn’t source one locally, I ended up hitting the ‘net for a remanufactured replacement, which should be in my hands this evening, if UPS tracking is to be believed.

So, there’s that.

The only think keeping me going this week, honestly, is the fact that I get to play rock star tomorrow night in my own damned city. Some of my friends in the band Paradox Machine have organized a show in town Saturday night, and invited The Blibbering Humdingers along for the ride, and as Scott and Kirsten aren’t yet so sick of me that they’ve asked me to stop following them around, I’ll be sitting in on bass for the evening.

If you happen to be in/around town this weekend, you could definitely do worse for entertainment. Details for the show here. Doors at the Regency Family Restaurant open at 6pm; It’s two bands and dinner for $20 bucks – a pretty good deal, if I do say so myself.

Hopefully we can still make load-in time with one car, which is really pretty small to contain my bass rig and the family, some of which will be dancing earlier in the day at a local Irish Festival…

Rock on.


*- so much for the whole buyers remorse thing and begging for my old job back…


my special purpose?


I have just become aware of the amazing existence of B Spec hatchback racing. Mostly stock, sub-125hp econoboxes racing on real, honest-to-goodness professional racetracks. It’s like the early stages of Gran Turismo (in my opinion, the most entertaining stages) come to life. It may not have the speed of high-end racing, but these little guys take corners like you wouldn’t believe, and these limits result in some seriously close, skill-based racing. Also, they totally run my car in the series:

not actually my specific car, but you know...

The oddball racing world is catching up to me…especially since Toyota is jumping back into the World Rally Championship with the Yaris for the 2017 series…I really don’t need this kind of inspiration, but it’s fun for escapist imaginings.


studio slap fight


There’s a long tradition of the “big two” comic companies taking friendly swipes at each other; Marvel gently mocking the “Distinguished Competition” in it’s letters pages and “Bullpen Bulletins”, and DC pulling some similar stunts in their own, slightly more serious way officially (but being just as jocular unofficially). In the print world, it’s always been good-natured; with creatives and editors freelancing for both companies, it’s always been kind of a family/community business, with both companies understanding that the competition is good for both of them and the industry.

This friendly rivaly even extends to the TV world, where the Agent Carter and Arrow production teams routinely razz each other in interviews and online (it helps here that Carter executuive producer Tara Butters is married to Arrow exec Marc Guggenheim).

It seems like the folks at the major movie studio levels haven’t gotten the memo.

The Marvel guys (particularly the actors) tend to take the same sort of good natured swipes; but Disney and Marvel Films are mostly just going about their business making popular movies with an eye toward the balanced tone of the comics in the Mighty Marvel Manner™. DC and parent company Warner Bros., who have thus far fallen behind the curve in making their shared universe happen (though are working hard to make up the difference lately) are maybe trying a little too hard, with WB CEO Kevin Tsujihara dropping notes about how DC’s films are “steeped in realism” and “edgier” than Marvel’s slate.

I’d agree that the recent Batman films set the tone, and director Zack Snyder never saw a sepia-toned color palate he didn’t like, and then there’s that whole ridiculous (and false) “no jokes” policy that WB was supposedly enforcing for the DC films, but it’s hard to call Superhero flicks “steeped in realism” – they’re all, in their way, escapist fantasy, and the realism is often limited to allegory and metaphor. “realism” isn’t really the point, especially when “real” and “serious” is pretty much as meaningless as “grim and gritty” was in the 90s.

Oh well…this whole post was mostly an excuse to drop a reference to the following comment (from user SaiyanHeretic) I found in the latino review story about the WB CEO, which made me laugh:

DC movies are “serious” in the same way that a ten-year-old giving a lecture to his younger siblings about which is the best Pokemon is being “serious.”

comics, everybody!


friday mourning


So today I made a decision. I am going back to my five day work schedule.

I dislike this, because I loved my three day weekends. The problem is that as much as I hate adding Friday back to my schedule, worse was the feeling of resentment I would get whenever I had to give up part of my Friday to take some work call anyway, which was happening a lot.

I think that sucks more. Especially when I’d already put in 40+ hours by Thursday night.

So, while I’ll be going into work on Fridays now, I’ll be getting to sleep in a little longer, and I’ll have more than three or four hours between getting home from work and going to bed. I kind of want to see the sun again. I want to have time to ride my bike once the weather gets consistently nice again.

So that’s that. I think it’s going to work. And maybe I’ll actually be forced to take some time off now and then. I have more leave banked away than I know what to do with. Might as well build in some long weekends that I’ll actually get to use (because dammit, if I’m actually spending leave, I’m not answering the phone.

I freely admit, I work because it lets me afford to actually do the things that I really enjoy. With this job and this schedule, all I had time to do was work and sleep.

Not that sleeping isn’t nice, mind you…


speaking of life


So, things are maybe getting back to normal after the 5 inches of snow shut down most of Virginia for a week. The kids were off of school for five unplanned days, my office was closed one day (though I still ended up working – yay telework…not), all kinds of activities were cancelled for everyone, and UPS is currently a week late in delivering my Game of Thrones season four blu-rays.

The highlights of the week were the visit from the plumber to fix the toilet after I wasn’t able to successfully snake the drain, the fact that the no-longer blocked toilet was slow because it got cold enough to slush the drain pipe (record-breaking low temps here – luckily, we didn’t suffer burst pipes like several folks I know), and the kids going a little stir crazy and my lovely wife going a little nuts as a result.

But thankfully, everybody’s back where they’re supposed to be today, as the roads are finally clear, at least for the moment. We are, however, all a little stressed out, or dealing with the results of stress.

Had a decent weekend, though. Saturday was the scheduled date for the now-legendary Dinner & Dungeons & Dragons event that I throw into our church’s charity auction every year: I cook lots of food, and have winning bidders over to the house for a rousing afternoon/evening of dice rolling, monster killing, and general silliness in an informal one-shot adventure. I had to make this year’s event special, as bidding got fast and furious, with seats at the table going for a lot of money. This year’s adventure involved retrieving a piece of arcane scientific equipment from a group of cultists. Lots of fun was had, even if it did basically become a total Munchkin/Murder Hobo fest, with most of the characters not even getting names. Still, we all enjoyed ourselves, especially Andrea, who hadn’t played since college, and was getting an evening off from toddler duty. Also, I made a six pound Bacon Explosion, which is something I do maybe once a year, when I want to feed a lot of people. This thing is ridiculous, but tasty.

Otherwise, I got some stuff done around the house, had a nice video chat with Elizabeth from Antimatter about life, the universe, and the publishing industry, and finally chorded out a song for my friend Wendy, who has graciously agreed to give my kid some guitar lessons (because who wants to learn the basics from your dad?).

Might do some neat friend/gaming stuff over the coming weekend, and will hopefully take delivery of those GoT discs so I can catch up in the evenings. Damned weather.


friday random ten – “too many comics” edition


Because sometimes, you need a break from talking about Spider-Man all the time.

Enjoy some tunes.

  1. “Waiting on a Memory” – Badlees
  2. “Love Love Love” – Of Monsters and Men
  3. “Call and Answer” – Barenaked Ladies
  4. “On Top of the World” – Imagine Dragons
  5. “Bragging Party” – The Amps
  6. “My Girl’s Ex-Boyfriend” – Relient K
  7. “I Was a Fool” – Tegan and Sara
  8. “Plastic Man” – Innocent Nixon
  9. “Hackensack (live)” – Katy Perry
  10. “Dance in the Dark” – Lady Gaga

Slott on Spider-Man in the movies


Spider-Man writer Dan Slott recently did an interview about the Marvel Cinematic Univers, specifically commenting on the recent news about Spider-Man, the character he’s been shepherding since 2008 (and before, if you count the excellent Spider-Man/Human Torch: I’m With Stupid limited series back in ’05).

As usual, the guy’s right on about about a lot of things, and an entertaining guy, one part classic Stan Lee huckster, a few more parts ascended fanboy; above all, he’s one the geeks like the rest of us, only he gets to play with bigger toys, and his joy at being able to do so comes through in every interaction I’ve seen him have with fans or the media. It’s a great thing to see.

The one thing I really like about the piece, though, is this bit, which hits a lot of the right notes. One thing Spider-Man has going for him is that the mask (which tends to keep coming off in the movies, alas), covering his whole face, provides a bit of a blank slate for all fans, anyone who’s ever felt a bit like a nerdy outcast, to identify with; it doesn’t matter who’s under there; in your head, he’s you, sharing your triumphs and frustrations (see Paul Jenkins’ excellent Peter Parker: Spider-Man #35 from back in 1999, particularly this image). That’s really, I think what’s kept the character vital for 50 years.

That said, one of the things I’d be interested in seeing is, I hope they make the casting open for everyone. There’s nothing inherently white about Peter Parker. Peter Parker is a nerdy outcast. Anybody, from any walk of life, can be a nerdy outcast. One of the reasons why Spider-Man speaks to everyone around the world is that mask. I’ve met so many young Spider-Man fans over the years. People that grew up and are now old, but when they first met Spider-Man, they kind of didn’t know who was under that mask. And that gives him the freedom to be anyone. That gives him the freedom to be someone just like you. It’d be really nice to see that as a possibility. Even if they end up casting someone who, at the end of the day, looks just like Peter Parker. It would be nice if the door was open and they just [said] , “Spider-Man can be anybody.”


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