John William Polidori

… was a man who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was the personal physician to Lord Byron. As well as a doctor, he was also a writer.

In June of 1816, after being a part of a group who all read aloud from a particular collection of horror stories, it was suggested that they should each write a ghost story.

It is because of this, primarily, that we were invited to visit with friends in Charlotte, North Carolina this weekend. Every 6 months or so there is a group who meet and share their creative written works, completed or otherwise, for the rest of the group. The general rules are an unwritten limit on time (ie, 10 page readings are generally frowned upon), an expectation that it is a new work (the idea being that it was written that day, or in the day or two beforehand), and a general air of support and positivity. It isn’t so much a place to critique works (although that can be performed later), as to simply share ideas with each other.

Before reading your piece, you have the opportunity to make a disclaimer. In my case, I am not a fiction writer. I’m not good at making up stories. Typically, my best opportunity is to take a real event and either try to adjust it or totally change it so that it works but is not the same. In this specific story, I have to concede that neither the original story, nor the idea utilized in it are totally mine: I’ve read three similar stories in a book several years ago, and decided to try my hand at the idea. I also apologize to anyone who understands banking a lot better than I do.

This is the story I wrote and shared on Saturday:

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his wealth.

And unto one he gave five talents, to another two talents, and to another one talent; to every man according to his previous performance; and straightway joined the great queue that was for airport security, where he did wait upwards of forty five minutes.

Then he that had received the five talents went and traded on the stock market with the same, and made them other five talents.

And likewise he that had received two talents, he also gained other two talents.

But he that had received but one talent went and deposited in a local savings bank, with a minimal interest return, and hid his lord’s money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

And so he that had received five talents came, saying, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five more.”

His lord said unto him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

He also that had received two talents came, and said, “Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two talents other beside them.”

His lord said unto him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

Then he which had received one talent came and said, “My master, how was thine flight? I trust the staff did treat you well and granted unto thee many blessings of food and wine.”

His lord interjected his blathering and said unto him, “The flight was fine, the food, I have had worse. Now, where is that which I entrusted unto thee? I wish to see what thou hast done with mine wealth.”

“Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and I was uncertain of the stock market and how it doth worketh, and went and hid thy talent in the local savings bank, with minimal interest return: lo, there thou hast that is thine.”

His lord answered and said unto him, “Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to bonds with a good history, or gold, or perhaps put it unto reliable enterprises who grant dividends, and then at my coming-”

And he did stop speaking, for he was distracted by the sudden weeping and gnashing of teeth from those who had doubled their moneys, and asked of them what was wrong.

And they did look up from their intelligent telephones, with looks of great horror, for they had just seen the news.

And they did share the news with their master, for he was looking at them expectantly.

And they said “It has just been reported that the companies in which we had bought stock are failing, and the value of our shares has dropped unprecedentedly.”

Their lord opened the drawer of his desk and withdrew a bottle and four small glasses.

And he said unto them, “Well, I suppose we can ask the government for an bail out..”

Exciting Times

It has been quite a while! Yesterday was my birthday and a number of people came to help me celebrate my first quarter-century of life. Thanks to Ben and Bethany for the awesome looking game, to Katie for the book (the title of which is unrepeatable in a forum such as this) and to Kelly for the deep fryer! Also thanks to Kelly’s grandparents for the money. A weird thanks also goes to our neighbors for letting us borrow the gas for the grill!

It was a very good weekend overall. We spent Saturday in Clifton Forge (a railroad town about two hours away) where the C&O Historical Society had a large event. The C&O 614 locomotive was on display along with old passenger cars available to walk through. The volunteers were very proud of their work, and so they should be! We walked through a combined coach/baggage car as well as going through a dining car. The interior of the dining car has been restored to it’s 1930s appearance, the exterior to it’s 1950s appearance and the kitchen has been modernized to use gas (rather than charcoal) and other modern appliances so that it can actually function when they want to use it.

I walked through the cab of an old diesel unit (I want to say a GP-9, but not certain) where a retired engineer was happy to talk to anyone who asked about different functions it had – or didn’t have. Certainly a cool experience that I don’t recall having had since moving to the US.

There was also a miniature railway providing rides for people around a large loop as well as various vendors selling their items. I picked up an N-scale locomotive for $30 which is planned to go into service on my coffee table layout which has been revitalized recently.

An interesting idea I saw was a pair of statically active steam whistles. Basically I suspect there is a small steam boiler in a brick building, on top of which is mounted two different steam whistles of different pitches. Each of these are linked to a stereotypical rope and wooden handle which can be pulled to make the whistle sound.

On Sunday we spent most of the day being lazy before people started to arrive. We cooked out as planned (the weather held up long enough to cook and eat) before having to rush everything inside due to rain. I hope everyone enjoyed the food even though it took a little longer than planned. The one thing I didn’t think to check was how much gas there was in the bottle for the grill and we ran out after a few minutes. Fortunately our neighbors have a gas grill and we were able to borrow their bottle!

Later in the evening we played Funglish, a word game which is rather entertaining. It works kinda like pictionary where teams take turns playing. One team will have a card with 6 words on it, and a board which has the options “Definitely,” “Kind of,” and “Not.” Spread out in front of them are different adjectives which are placed on the board in order to describe the word on the card. Bart Simpson, for example, was Definitely yellow, American and man-made, kind of human, etc. With the number of teams we elected not to score the rounds but we had a whole lot of fun anyway.

I didn’t get too many photos of the Sunday events but those from Saturday will likely be on flickr at some point soon.

Thanks again to everyone that came and/or wished me a happy day, I only hope your time was as good as mine!

Facebook Scams

One of my facebook friends (someone I went to school with many years ago) apparently was hacked or scammed or something, and sent out messages to me and to all my friends. I will probably take a look at my security settings for that reason later, but I wanted to post a couple of images that came up as a result of it.

In short, I am ‘friends’ with two dogs. The first is Fetch, he is the dog of a couple of friends, Ben and Bethany, and his response was rather amusing. I may be biased (though I didn’t write it), but I found the second response funnier – that of Crash.


And …

Life is Good, with Few Minor Interruptions to Goodness

As life goes, I have little, some might argue nothing, to complain about. As Christmas rolls around, Kelly and I have marked off most of our Christmas gift recipients, and the gifts themselves are arriving ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree which was chosen on Sunday and will probably come inside this weekend to be decorated.

Our money management skills aren’t doing too badly – almost all of our bill payments are scheduled and there should be little problem with our trip to Charlotte at the end of the month. So really, there is little for me to complain about that doesn’t just sound like whiny drivel.

Somehow, the bed broke again. It’s hard to justify any suggestions of abuse through the commonly considered manner, because Kelly works from 9:30 to 6, and goes to bed around 12, I start work at 5 and usually finish around 12 or 12:30, and Kelly is usually asleep when I get home around 1-ish. A while back several of the slats (is that the right word?) in the box-spring snapped. I repaired them with a glue-and-screw type brace using some spare 1x3s I had laying around from the model train layout. For a while it worked fine. A couple of weeks ago one of them broke again. Then another one. Last night I came home and sat on the bed and thought “This doesn’t feel right.” I couldn’t pin it. I looked around the outside of the bed, and there was no reason I could see for it to have been leaning the way it was. I took a look under it this morning and realized, in broken horror, why that would be the case. Down the middle, presumably a primary source of support, is what looks like either a 2×6 or a 2×8. And it’s broken in a couple of places (looks kinda like a Z) in the middle, causing the bed to lean somewhat inwards.

And I get paid tomorrow. I think today will involve a planning session, tomorrow will involve buying materials and the weekend will be putting it together. Here’s hoping the broken one lasts that long.

(It’s most likely Crash that is responsible, he enjoys jumping on the bed, and 100lbs of sudden force will do that to a structure after a while..)

Coworkers Discovered Via Mutual Friends

So I was walking my dog yesterday afternoon, when I ran into a family friend. She asked how the job was going, and she asked if I knew a particular person (as I get from time to time – almost everyone in the county either works for Rosetta Stone or knows someone who does. At best it seems there is something like 3 degrees of separation for any person living in Rockingham County or Harrisonburg and employees of Rosetta Stone). It was a rare case where I remembered enough of the name to look them up on the internal directory, and ran across their blog.

I took a brief look at some of the posts and I’m already intrigued. I may spend some of my spare time (I get a lot of that at work, with reimaging and other things I have to wait for) going back through the archives. If you like computer stuff, take a look, but on the surface at least there seems to be something for just about everyone..

Rallying to Restore Sanity and Fear

We started out expecting a fairly average day in the capital of the nation. That was not to be. Who knew that when you hold a rally with 215,000 people (as estimated by aerial photographers [Citation:]) most of whom were traveling into the city from outside of it, it puts a strain on the transportation systems?

The roads were fairly empty once we got past mile 62 on I-66. According to WMATA, they set a Saturday record of 825,437 trips. That’s compared to 350,000 on an average Saturday. [Citation:]

We left Broadway just after 7:30am. Kelly and I and our friend KBru took our car and headed North, making a brief stop at McDonalds in Newmarket for breakfast before getting on I-81. We were right on schedule for the Vienna/Fairfax Metro exit at about 9:15am when we reached the queue. It stretched back about 2 miles, and after sitting in it for 20 minutes we decided to try our luck at one of the next exits. This turned out to be one of the three best decisions we made that day. It proves that prior basic knowledge of the system works in favor of those trying to use it in ways they never have before.

We got to the West Falls Church exit at about 9:45 (literally just a couple of miles down the road). We found a parking space in record time, and proceeded to the station. It was at this point that we went back to waiting, and shortly afterward I started taking photos on my ‘new’ cell phone, received the day before. (It’s a certified pre-owned, and it replaces the Nokia that I washed a few months ago. It also has a camera!)

10:12am: West Falls Church bridge over I-66 East. The bridge is crowded by the line to the ticket machines. The road underneath is practically empty. The view back two miles on the same road is VERY crowded.

10:13am: We got bored and did what we usually do – take photos of ourselves.

10:25am: We’re getting close to the ticket machines. This lady we saw a couple of times, she looked like a white lady, and was wearing a big sombrero that said something like “I-legal, fear me!” on it.

10:29am: This is the set of lines for the ticket machines. KBru has started knitting in line. Kelly is off to the side as per the request of WMATA. She rejoined us not long after this.

10:45am: We made it on to the platform.

It was shortly after this point we made the second of our best three decisions of the day. Every train coming into the station (the third on the line) was crowded. One or two people were getting on. After about three trains we decided to try doing the non-obvious. We got on a train going the other way. This spawned our catchphrase for the day – “Backwards is the new forwards.” Someone on one of the trains had yelled out the door that they had boarded a train headed away from the city and stayed on it. After all, once they reach Vienna they just go straight back in to DC, and the trains were pretty empty going that way. When we got to Vienna we found (as we expected) that the trains were full leaving there.

The journey into the city was fairly uneventful. Almost every stop had someone with a hilarious costume or sign (a couple of Waldo characters, at least one person wearing a grape costume, I even saw a TARDIS cutout. The one sign I remember said something along the lines of “Three words that will solve the economy: Gay Bridal Registry”).

12:27pm: The museum of American History (if I’m reading it correctly). Those of you who know the Smithsonian will know that at this point we are practically there. This guy also has a really cool improvised drum kit, and he plays really well. Unfortunately I didn’t get a video at all.

Here is just a stream of photos I took while on the mall. I don’t remember enough details to caption each one. There are a few doubles of things, mostly cool signs I saw. We took a photo of KBru outside the Canadian Embassy, and there are photos of the several thousand people who just walked up one of the streets (I forget which, it was headed towards Chinatown).

I run out of photos about now because my camera battery died, but we walked through Chinatown looking for a place to eat, but they were all really busy. We walked up to Union Station – not a bad idea but not great. We ended up eating standing up, having been sitting on the floor in an alcove and being asked to stand as we were considered a safety hazard. Being reasonable and understanding people, we complied – there was nothing we could do to change the minds of the people enforcing the rules, they appeared to think the rule in particular was stupid anyway. We took the metro from Union Station back to Metro Center, where we made the third and final “best decision” of the day, taking the Metro towards Maryland a few stops and then heading back through the crowded city.

The trip from there was uneventful – I remember a little girl who was obviously tired who I talked to briefly about “coming out from the ground” – she had said it and then thought it was a silly thing to say, I told her it wasn’t. We disagreed politely.

A brief stop was made outside of DC (I always forget what it’s called, but there’s a Sheetz and a McDonalds right beside each other, and we almost always stop there on the way out of DC either for food or gas or both..). We were all in need of a bathroom break and some snacks for the ride home, which brought as back to Broadway at around 9pm. An enjoyably sane day in the city of Washington DC.

Christmas Shopping

I did some Christmas shopping for Kelly today, bought a couple of things (I won’t say what they are — she reads this!) that I think she’ll like a lot. We still haven’t set a budget for each other with a few family members left to buy for, but I’m expecting it to be around $20 each and so far I’m fairly well under that. I still have a few ideas left when we actually set a specific number and I have a target, we’ll have to see how it pans out.

It’s difficult to find time to go out and buy things for Kelly though, because we live 20 minutes or so from the nearest worthwhile shopping space in Harrisonburg. With two Walmarts, Target, Ross, Big Lots, Michaels, the various Dollar stores, it’s just a great place to shop rather than the Dollar General and the few small stores in Broadway, and the Family Dollar in Timberville, everything else is more specializing than I’m looking for usually. But Kelly usually works from 9:30-6, meaning she’s gone with the car from around 9-6:30, and driving the truck is not a very appealing idea financially, so unless we have a day like today (where I dropped her off and will meet her for one of her work functions before coming home), I have to break away from our evenings together or on the weekend some time. I’m sure she feels similarly, because a one-hour lunch break isn’t very long when you have to traverse traffic on the roads and in the stores.

With this in mind it is little wonder that more and more people are migrating to online purchases, or at least online-research before going to the stores to buy (there is something about a face-to-face interaction, and having a store to take something back to rather than paying shipping for an RMA etc).

This is how I usually shop, let’s use me as an example:

  1. Think about who I’m buying for, and have a few core ideas about what they like. I like computers, I like guitar and music in general, and I like fun stuff with some kind of purpose.
  2. Think about stores that carry items that fit these categories. For example, Thinkgeek, Walmart, Music stores.
  3. Visit the online stores and get specific ideas. Specific t-shirts from Thinkgeek for example, maybe look at the electronics section on the Walmart website, or guitar or other music equipment at websites like MusiciansFriend.
  4. Research and try to find a good deal on each specific item. Google’s shopping site is a great tool for this. Often what I find can be found just as good but at a lower price if I look hard enough. Keeping in mind, however, that while many online stores are completely reputable, some aren’t. If I come across a site that is new to me I may run a few searches to see if other people have had good experiences or not.
  5. Weigh up which idea is the best for the person I’m buying for. Maybe they don’t need the guitar I found, or they wouldn’t appreciate the T-shirt I’m looking at, or maybe it is just out of the budget I had set for them.
  6. Give it a couple of days, depending on whether I am buying online or in-store (if in-store it is more likely to be an immediate decision, but still not necessarily). I’m not usually one to make a rush purchase if I think I have some time to think about what I’m about to do.
  7. Make a final decision, and buy it.

There you go. My 7-step guide to buying Christmas stuff. Unless you want to take a month to work through your family, I also recommend doing this process on several people at once 😉


A few times I’ve thought of things to write about and either not been at a computer or doing something else, and when it comes to actually writing said ideas out in this little window thing, I’ve completely forgotten what I was going to write about.

It wouldn’t even bother me if it only happened occasionally, but it’s been happening a lot recently, not just with blogging either. It’ll be when I get in the car and either forget where I was going or what song I was going to listen to, it’ll be when I get to the store and I forget what I was going to buy, it’ll be when I sit down at a computer or open a new tab on my browser and I forget what I was going to do, which website I was going to visit, what email I was going to send, etc.

It’s frustrating, it’s aggravating, I wish it didn’t happen. But alas, it does. Maybe I need a PDA (IE, a notepad) so I can write stuff down and look at it later. Maybe some more interesting posts will happen this week (if I don’t forget what I’m writing about..).

Looking for People?

With the advent of, I have been going through old quotes to add to kick-start the site and have been coming across old names that I think of occasionally and wouldn’t mind talking to again.

Here is a list, and if you are one of these, leave me a comment or drop by and let me know who you are 😉

Generically (because I know I’ll miss some on the specifics list):

If you used,,,, PowerZone-IRC, 24-7Christians or any affiliated site or network between 2000 and 2006, I’d like to know who you were (and if we knew each other), and what you’re up to now.

Specifically (in no particular order):

  • tqo
  • GenesisX/Ken
  • Outsiders/Chris
  • OutCast/Megathunder/Jesse
  • Sentinal/David
  • LordzAngel/Katie
  • Cassie
  • Buddy
  • Nodren
  • rdolph/Rachel
  • kac4him
  • Matt (The Windows-loving-linux-hating guy ;-))
  • Underdog
  • Dan
  • Angel4Dios
  • hawkeyeaz1
  • Jared
  • fac3less
  • gimp80995
  • SalvadorChicka
  • Brad
  • Dani
  • counselor/Albert

Possibly to be added to/ammended 😉

Silence is Golden

At least, that’s what they tell me. I haven’t posted for a while, and I don’t really have a whole lot to say.

I’ve been whining recently about trying to find work, I’m still looking for a full-time IT job while I continue to apply for anything I see in a two-hour radius from where I live.

I applied recently for an IT position via fax, because the organization’s mail server wasn’t accepting emails. This amused me. I also forwarded messages I’d printed with the error messages so they could look into fixing it.

Yesterday and today I worked high ropes, yesterday with a church retreat from in/near DC, and today with a bunch of kids from DC’s Public Schools. A few funny things were said, but the one that stood out was a girl yesterday who said the 3 places she wanted to visit before she died were Argentina, Australia and Alabama. On querying her wish to visit Alabama, she explained her desire to visit “The South” and drink “Real” sweet tea. I tried (in vain) to suggest she could get real sweet tea just by visiting this far south in Virginia, but she wouldn’t have any of it. The only place, in her mind, where she could get such a delicacy was if she went to a “Real” southern state like Alabama.

I had a great time, today I got to try out the new gloves I got for doing ropes work with (and they were amazing!), and had a good laugh or two with some really cool people.

The other day I set up a new website on a domain that has been empty for a few weeks, is now a quote board for amusing or moving quotes from Christian chat rooms all over. Not necessarily UCCN, or even IRC. They can be from Yahoo! or anywhere else for all it matters!

Tonight is a thanksgiving dinner at church, and tomorrow morning Kelly and I leave to house-sit for two weeks! I’m sure many photos will abound.