knox snooze

Succotash my Balzac, dipshiitake.

Team Wonderbike

Thursday, June 30
I listen to the radio online at work. I catch a little of my local public and bluegrass stations, but mostly I listen to KEXP - a listener supported station in Seattle. One of their underwriters is New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. I don't really know why, but I looked them up online, and they have Team Wonderbike - a group of people who commit to commute to work by bike at least twice a month. I signed up, and now I'm getting a free ankle band to wrap my cuff when I pedal.

Sweet. I've got to find some of their beer. Free stuff shouldn't go unrewarded.

David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace gave a great commencement speech last month. I followed this link from Kottke and read the entire transcript of the speech. It is stunning. It's the sort of insightful that makes you wonder how you never managed to put those same thoughts to words before. Read the whole thing; it's simple and easy. And he says some cuss words too, which I always like to see out of a commencement speaker - especially at Kenyon.

The hunger

Wednesday, June 29
I wish my body would just figure out what the hell is going on. Yesterday, I found it odd that I so wanted a cigarette after riding my bike to work. Today, I've got no such desire, but a ravenous beast has taken residence in my gut (what's left of it, at least). Hunger. Damn, I'm hungry. I know that going into calorie ├╝ber deficit first thing in the morning is a recipe for all-day munchies, but this is ridiculous. It's not even noon and I've already eaten everything I brought with me today. Container full of fruit and cucumbers - 9:00 am; four Newman-Os (Oreos with better justification) - 9:30; big bowl of veggie chili (chock full-o-beans and soy) - 11:30; bag of almonds - just now.

Seriously, I didn't realize how hungry I am until I dropped an almond on the floor. And then I picked it up and ate it...five minutes later.

Also, I'm almost up to a half-gallon of water. At least I'm not the only one.

Suicide the slow way

Tuesday, June 28

Suicide the slow way
Originally uploaded by ashby.

Why is it that I have the strongest cravings to smoke on days that I ride my bike to work? Am I subconsciously trying to balance things out, or do my self-destructive impulses sense that my body is broken down and hope that a cigarette or two might push me over the edge?


Friday, June 24
I want to think that I just crushed my German exam. I was the first one done, and none of it seemed too hard.

This is likely a very bad sign.

Regardless how I actually did, it's over, and it can be the weekend now. No homework, no money, and lots of yard to mow. Faith is getting a new bike this evening or tomorrow. This is my attempt to drag already in-shape hiney into my personal pedal-commuting mania. Her new ride is a Specialized with a seat padded like a Cadillac, and handle bars that sit up nice and high. You know, for when she's slumpin as we roll the neighborhood. Now we just need to get a cupholder for her pimpjuice and a rack for her ivory-handled cane. Cause she's fo' real fo' sho'.


The tailgate handle fit like a charm, by the way. I've also got new, narrower and smoother tires on the bike. I rode it out the Corner Lounge last night (five or so miles). So nice.

New handleness

Thursday, June 23

Meet the new handle, same as the old handle
Originally uploaded by ashby.

The replacement for the tailgate handle I so deftly, um, removed the other night arrived today. $65 from the dealership, $15 from the eBay. Let's hope it fits.


I just wolfed an organic pear. It's been in the fridge all morning. I don't know if there is a better food in the world.

Well, besides BBQ and beer, of course.

Just in case you wondered

Wednesday, June 22
After nearly three years of membership at The Rush fitness club, I have come to the conclusion that it is run by people who are dumb. Dumber than me, even. Especially Mark, the general manager of the Knoxville Center location, who is unsure whether the corporate office will be able to discontinue my membership. My non-contractual, month-to-month, please-don't-try-to-bully-me-you-stupid-prick membership.

Yes, I'm lightly pissed and bitching about it online. I know, I need to be kicked.


I had my first flat of the pedal-commuting era last night. I was crossing the river on the South Knoxville Bridge (or whatever the hell it's called now) when I heard the unmistakable crunch of broken glass, followed by the hiss of a bike tire spinning all of its breath out.

I thought, this can't be too bad. Just a flat rear tire. I can fix this.

Said the idiot.

After being picked up by my lovely wife, and tossing the two-wheeler into the back of my trusty pickup (complete with white aluminum camper top - klassy), I drove to Wal-Mart for a new tube. Then, on the front porch of a friend's house, successfully wrangled the rear wheel off and removed the old tire and tube. I unpacked the new tube, and slapped it all back together without too much trouble. I was happy.

The bike went back into the truck, and off I went to the gas station to inflate my newly installed tube. At the gas station, though, I had trouble with the handle of the tailgate. A lot of trouble.

Now, those of you who know me well, may think of me as a rather decent non-violent sort of person. But those of you who know me really well (see also: wife, former landlords, annoying pets) know the idiotic, blind, and (surprise) totally irrational rage that gurgles to the surface when things get very, very, very frustrating. Bleeding knuckles and corresponding holes in laundry room walls style.

So, of course, I tore the handle off the tailgate. Broken. Snapped off, pondered in the hand, and hurled back into the truck with a curse. Or eleven.

Fortunately, I have a camper top. This keeps my bike dry. Also, it keeps my bike in the back of the truck until I replace the tailgate handle.

I collected myself (I was all over the place), dropped my 50 cents into the air compressor, pulled the hose into the back of the truck and inflated the tire. And the I heard the hiss. New tube: busted.

So yeah, I drove to work today.

Water works

Tuesday, June 21
In spite of my efforts to be more active by riding my bike to work more often, I'm still stuck at a desk for the entire day. And when I'm done working, I have to situate myself at a desk for a solid hour-and-a-half to two hour session of homework.

So I've switched out my way overpriced and disgustingly trendy Nalgene water bottle for a half-pint bottle of Deer Park. Now, as I guzzle 64+ ounces of water a day (pedalling to work is thirsty business), I'm at least forced to get up from my desk to walk down the hall to the water fountain for a refill 7 or 8 times. It's not much, but it gets me off my arse.

Benefits: it's hard to fall asleep when you get up and sit down all the time, and perhaps I'm giving potential assroids a smaller window of opportunity.

Whoa, I've got entendre coming out of my window of opportunity.

Step 2: find a more considerate bicycle seat. The current model has some wiffle-bat-to-the-balls tendencies that bother me.

Holy Sweet Firefox

Monday, June 20
One of the great things about my job is that, not only do I have access to a high-speed internet connection all day, it's actually part of my job description to do quite a bit of work on the magic intarweb.

One (and there are more) of the sucktastic things about my job is that my computer is administered by our tech team, and no software, regardless of it's work-related benefits, may be installed by me. This is frustrating, but probably for the best since I am a proven retard.

We're all MS all the time in my office, but I love Firefox. So installed the browser on a thumbdrive, and I'm currently running it straight through the USB. I. Am. So. Stoked.

Be happy for me.

"Germany" is German for "Crazytown"

Friday, June 17

Originally uploaded by ashby.

Yes, I know this is a crappy picture. I took it with my phone during class. I'm a very attentive student, as you can see.

This is from an exercise where we are learning to tell time and practice new verbs. I had no trouble with the time: halb sechs Uhr (you're so impressed). The activity, however, was a little more troubling. Mainly because it looks like he's shopping in a store, but he's also puffing away on a clearly toxic pipe as well. Seriously, check out the plume of soot spewing from that piece.

As it turns out, Herr Wagner IS shopping in this picture. He is smoking AND shopping. In a store. And no one is tackling him from behind and pelting him with wadded-up surgeon general warnings.

Handlebar moustache, billowing pipe-smoke, sweet Members Only jacket...all while getting the groceries. Germany rules.

Me, and how I'm late to all the trends

Wednesday, June 15

Creative Communist
Originally uploaded by ashby.

My Creative Communist shirt arrived today. Don't you love it when your cause has trendy merchandise?

For those who don't know.

On being that guy

Tuesday, June 14
It's finally hot here. Hot like tamales in a Mexican prison. Hot with a capital H and possible two t's. Real. Damn. Hot.

And thus I have become 'that guy' in my building. I ride my bike to work before 7 a.m., but by then it's already over 80 degrees, and since my entire route is along a slow brown river, the humidity is huge too. So I sweat. Because it's hot; because it's humid; because I'm riding my bike; because, in short, I am not a slim man.

When I get to work, I drip my way to the bathroom and take the stall (which is thankfully available at that hour). I change clothes here. By "change clothes" of course, I mean that I remove what I wore on my way in with a putty knife, desperately dab at the insane amounts of sweat on my body with a hand towel, and put on clothes that are jammed into the bottom of a duffel bag. These clothes are clean, but only for an instant.

So there I am, the dude with sweat dripping out of his mangy beard, drenched t-shirt and shorts slapped over the stall door, and a large dark arrow of damp polo shirt on his back that points right at the motherlode of sweat - his ass.

I smell like a moldy granola bar that was smuggled across a swamp in a hippie's armpit. Try not to fall in love with me.

Thermometer exchange?

Monday, June 13
Some cities have needle exchanges for drug users in an effort to cut down on diseases passed on by infected needles.

Knoxville may not have as many junkies as bigger cities, but we don't want to be left behind. So have thermometer exchanges. That's right. For those who finally want to kick the Quicksilver habit. It destroys families, you know.


Friday, June 10
Don't let the previous post fool you: I've got a full-on crush on NPR. And just to prove to yourself that they know what they're doing, you should go the site for the NPR program All Songs Considered, where you can listen for free to full concerts by The Decemberists, Interpol, and others. Also, you can listen to the actual show and learn all kinds of snooty-sounding ways to talk about pop music.

Just don't say "juxtapose" a lot. It makes you sound like a tool.

Did Merck Tried?

The NPR site has an interesting grammatical error right now. I'm sure they're just about to fix it. In the meantime, I suggest we pots gather round to help this kettle out:

Not going

Originally uploaded by ashby.

I went last year. It was, um, educational. I think I'll stay home this year and listen to NPR instead.

Besides, I can be the guy who listens patiently as the walking sunburn at the next dartboard starts in again with, "Awww, Dude you sooo should have been there. It was like, unbelievable."

I'm sure it was.

I have bunny ears

Yesterday afternoon was exciting. I had just come back to my office after a rousing discussion of the merits of Alias and Lost moving to separate nights next season (high-brow stuff, I know) with a co-worker, when I thing.

It wasn't really chest pain. It was more of a chest fart. You know when you have a fart about to come raging out of your body, and right before it does, you have this strange sensation of a tremendous pocket of gas chugging through the homestretch of your large intestine, displacing everything in it's path so hard that it makes you walk funny? It was like that, only behind my ribs. Oh, and then there was a monster headrush.

It wasn't that bad, but it was scaring the piss out of me for the like twenty seconds that it was happening, so in my panic I asked another co-worker within earshot to drive me to the on-campus health clinic. Stupid Ashby.

The health clinic wouldn't see me because I'm not a full-time student, but people in my office were worried about me, so I drove out to my doctor's office. They hooked me up to an EKG, which was awesome and involved me nervously removing my shirt in front of a nurse and suggesting that it was only fair she do the same (yeah, they love me there). And guess what? I have a retarded heart. Yes that's right, if my heart was a person, it would wear a helmet.

I have a hiccup in the EKG that the doc called bunny ears. He says it just means that there is a little glitch, an anomoly, but that it's probably nothing to worry about - they've done studies (not him personally) on the same condition in fighter pilots, and it's apparently not a problem. He didn't say what he clearly meant, though. That when my organs get together to play kickball, my heart always gets picked last.

Oh yeah, and he told me I'm fat. To which I was like, "Medically? Or do you just not like me?"

Blockbuster Queue RSS?

Thursday, June 9
I know that there is an RSS tool for one's Netflix Queue, but I haven't been able to find one for Blockbuster. Anyone have any clues? I have to login to Blockbuster every time I want to see the queue, so I don't know if it's even publishable.

Check it out, though. Why wouldn't you want to keep track of this sweet list:
1. Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns - Disc 1 NR Long Wait
2. Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns - Disc 2 NR Long Wait
3. Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns - Disc 3 NRShort Wait
4. Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns - Disc 4 NR Available Now
5. Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns - Disc 5 NR Available Now
6. I, Robot [WS] PG13 Available Now
7. American Graffiti PG Long Wait
8. Saved! [WS] PG13 Available Now
9. Manchurian Candidate [WS] R Available Now
10. Schindler's List [WS] R Long Wait
11. Door in the Floor [WS] R Available Now
12. Queen Margot R Short Wait
13. Spider-Man 2 [WS Special Edition] PG13 Available Now
14. John Prine: Live from Sessions at West 54th Coming Soon
15. Alfie [WS] R Available Now
16. The Punisher R Short Wait
17. Wimbledon [WS] PG13 Available Now
18. School of Rock [WS] PG13 Available Now
19. 21 Grams R Available Now
20. Mulholland Drive [WS] R Available Now
21. Spanglish [WS] PG13 Available Now
22. Hidalgo [WS] PG13 Short Wait
23. Elektra [WS] PG13 Available Now
24. In a Lonely Place NR Short Wait
25. Daredevil [WS] PG13 Available Now
26. Focus PG13 Available Now
27. Shaolin Soccer PG13 Short Wait
28. Employee of the Month R Available Now
29. In Good Company [WS] PG13 Available Now
30. Sirens R Short Wait


Wednesday, June 8
This sucketh. Justin Clift and the helpful peeps over (or should I say down?) at Digital Distribution - they of the flashy Star Office/OpenOffice tutorials - have decided to close their operation down. There isn't much explanation, but all of their "about us" documentation has already become depressingly past tense.

Get on over there and download the OpenOffice 2.0 tutorials while you still can. Seriously, they'll be gone before you know it. They're slick and newbcentric, and they'll be infinitely valuable to you. How, you ask? How about the next time your parent/girlfriend/buddy/neighbor/brother calls you and asks for help setting up their new computer with "that wireless internet," and you have trouble selling them on the merits of open source software.

Or if you haven't used a relational database in awhile, and you feel like an idiot because you can't remember how to create a form for cataloging your baseball card collection, they might come in handy. I've heard.

License to Deal

I just read the excerpt (I think it's the whole first chapter) of Jerry Crasnick's new book License to Deal on It's a pretty interesting little read, and it's got that same sort of this-guy-ain't-like-all-the-rest appeal that Moneyball had with Billy Beane, though this one is told from the other side of the negotiating table.

Read it fast and let me borrow it when you're through.

Flickr Schwag 1.0

Flickr Schwag 1.0
Originally uploaded by ashby.

Flickr giving stuff away. They're even paying postage.

Sounds good.

Wearing out my shoes

Tuesday, June 7
I was looking for some new shoes online, hoping to find something both eco-tolerant and non-retarded looking. Most of the places I've been looking tout the renewability of their materials, the low impact of their manufacturing process, and/or the unslavish conditions of the workers that stitch the shoes. And as I contemplated the hilarious poseurness of spending money on ecokicks when I drive a 19 mpg truck, it occurred to me that just keeping the shoes I have would accomplish all my goals...for free.


So that's yet another goal; wear out my shoes. Add this to 1) pedalcommuting 60% of the time, 2) eating an apple every day, 3) writing more, and 4) finishing college before my 30th birthday.

I've sort of been a shoe whore over the last few years. Not only do I have many more than I need, I refuse to get rid of them. It's a problem, I know. Back off.

I have:
running shoes: 3 pair
oxfords: 3 pair
boots: 2 pair
regl'r shoes: 2 pair
sandals: 5 pair
basketball shoes: 1 pair
clogs: 1 pair
How long will this last me? How long before the funk is too much and people at work begin leaving Rack Room gift cards on my desk?


Monday, June 6
After only 6 months and 2 weeks of hibernation, Infozo (moron librarian) has posted to the Infozo blog.

And we welcome it.

We should ban roids

I hate hemorrhoids. Especially the moment of discovery. Especially if that moment happens at work.

There you are, sitting in your industrial gray cubicle kingdom, when you begin to feel a little bowel discomfort. So you make your way to the strategic bathroom - you know, the only one in the entire building where you'll allow yourself a moment of dumpitude because it's usually cleanish and on a floor where almost no one ever goes. Come on, everyone has the pooping-on-the-clock bathroom.

Anyway, you get to the bathroom, find your happy place, take care of business, and right near the tail-end (entendre!) of your little ritual, you rake a Garden Weasel® across your freshly exposed subcutaneous tissue. That's what it feels like, at least. And you tell yourself you're not going to look - that you don't have to because you ALREADY KNOW YOUR ASS IS IN SHREDS. But, you do, and the sight of it only sends another wave of aftershock pains searing through your dookie-chute, and you want to cry and scream, but you can't because you're at work.

And if it's Monday, and you know you're going to have to squash those little crack tumors under your massive weight for 10 to 12 hours a day for the next four days, then you sort of start to wonder why it is you're not allowed to drink straight Bourbon and pop narcotics at work. You can't stay home - what are you going to do, call in sick with a bad case of assburger? No. You can't. It's not allowed. You. Must. Suffer.

Not that it's happened to me today. It' friend of mine. He's from Canada; you wouldn't know him.


Friday, June 3

suspiciously sexy
Originally uploaded by ashby.

I've got a metric assload of homework, chorin', and de-procrastination to do this weekend. I have money issues to sort out, computer problems to fix, library books to return, and bicycle maintenance to embrace.

But it's Friday, and there's a party tonight. And I think it's high time I see that Star Wars motion picture I've heared tell of so much lately.

Here's hoping Faith doesn't work tomorrow and we don't get out of bed til noon.

Instant CD case

Thursday, June 2

Instant CD case
Originally uploaded by ashby.

You want crafts? I got crafts shooting out of my nostrils when I laugh; that's how damn crafty I am. Ok, maybe not a craft...more of an office supply hack, but still sweet.

I am in a German class (Sprecking the crap out of some Deutsch, too) where we have oral assignments - pronounciation tests - that must be recorded as .mp3 files and burned to CDs. That's right, one mp3 per CD. Half a megabyte, and that's recorded at 192k. Ridiculous waste, I know, but apparently the Germans are not a thrifty people; this is departmental policy.

So the CD wasn't a problem. They're everywhere. I think there is at least one half-full spindle in each room of my house. Cases, on the other hand, are a bit more elusive. How I wish I'd been keeping the cases to all those Earthlink, PeoplePC, NetZero, AOL, Wal-Mart ISP, et al CDs that I've gotten in the mail over the last few years. But I didn't, so it doesn't matter.

So what I did was swipe a free oversized postcard at school, marked how deep it needed to be in order to cover one half of the disc and folded it along that line. After all, I only want to protect the data side of the disc. Then I stapled the edges, and basked in the glow of my totally sweet CD case.

Don't hate me because I have so much unused brain.