G'night, Bunkie.

Just a few seconds ago, I tweeted: "I love that I have a friend that I genuinely call 'Boo'. " And by "genuinely", I suppose I mean that there's real affection associated with that nickname. (The friend in question is also the only person I routinely call by the nickname "Boo". I might casually throw it around, but the same person hardly ever gets it twice.)

This made me remember something formative from my summers in Destin, FL with my grandparents.

My grandfather (a.k.a. "Bapa") would more often than not refer to me as "Bunkie". He'd use it with probably 99% regularity when he put me to bed, but it would come out at other times too. It made me feel special and loved. I worshiped that man, and he had a fancy name for me - how awesome is that?

I only recently found out that "Bunkie" comes from the military barracks -- the guy with whom you shared your steel and cotton bunk bed was your partner (whether you liked him or not); he was your bunkmate - your bunkie.

Bapa earned the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Air Force (Army Air Corps back in WWII), you see. His military background is stronger than some family trees. He found the nickname honestly, even though I had no idea at the time.

In a strange way, that makes it even more special to me.

Hi. How are you?

So the big news of the past few days is the hot water heater saga: Last Thursday evening The Wife and I went out in Boulder to the Rio with a gaggle of my new coworkers. After a lovely evening discussing the possibilities of attending a roller derby, a mixed martial arts bout, or a minor league hockey game (or all three) with the company founder's wife, we came home to discover that we had no hot water. A quick trip downstairs revealed that our twelve-year-old tank was done and dead and pissing itself on the basement floor. Off go the water valves, and I know what I get to do Friday (hardly a worthwhile day off work, if you ask me).

Long story shorter than it might be: We actually had the funds on-hand to do the upgrade to a tankless water heater like I've wanted to do. Now I'm a proud owner of a Rinnai unit hidden away in my crawl space. The old space for the water heater is now only filled by a wall-mounted control panel. Best of all, I can take a shower all friggin' day long if I want to.

There are couple downsides: the hot water is mighty slow to come at first; the hot water pressure is noticeably lower than that of the cold water. But neither of those bother me much -- the continuous nature of the hot water (I can now happily take my shower after everyone else in the house!) more than balances them out, IMO. (Oh, and I guess I get $300 next tax season...) Also worth noting: David at Oasis Plumbing rules me - highly recommended.

Other News:


OK, so... Sorry about the week an a half of nothing. I wish I could say I've been busy or some such, but no. Mostly I've been sitting around alternately playing World of Warcraft and watching TV while trying out new and exciting pillow-influenced hair styles.

I suppose I can blast out a short list of tidbits for you though:

  • The big news is that not only did Rod and I jump ship from my old place of employment; now Brandon has followed suit. He's working for an interesting new company, too.
  • Oh, yeah, I start my new gig today. I'm psyched.
  • Related to that, I had the best intentions to try and learn Ruby on Rails this past week that I've had off. That didn't really happen. I've got time, though. ;)
  • I did try to get right on switching my 401(k) plans to an IRA, but only got as far as opening the IRA because the 401(k) people didn't know I'd quit yet. Super...
  • Last Thursday, The Wife and I took in a matinée of Pan's Labyrinth -- totally frickin' awesome. Funny how Fascism and faerie tale allegory goes hand in hand so often.
  • Rod got my hooked up with a private torrent tracker site... Now I'm obsessed with keeping my upload/download ratio above 1.
  • Last night we mixed up a pitcher of martinis and took in the Screen Actors Guild Awards. It was generally an inoffensive evening of festivities, though I can say that some of my favorite shows (24, Weeds, ... that may be it) got robbed, but whatever. They did show Dennis Weaver in their "fallen soldiers" tribute, reminding me of the time he popped into a gas stop cafe in the middle of nowhere (aka Western Kansas) while Miracle Ed and I were having breakfast and trying to get our collective shit together at the tail end of a 31 hour single shot drive from Boston to Denver. Let me tell you, having a bunch of flatland hicks (remember, I'm somewhat of an expert in the field of recognizing and categorizing hicks) freaking out about how "that was the feller that played on that show!" really turns the surreal dial to 11.
  • Ever heard of "Toddy" coffee? Neither had I until the other day. I don't think I buy it.

I guess that will have to do for now.

The Weekend that Was

The big event of this weekend was of course, Matt & Jen's wedding. Some highlights from our perspective:

  • The entire wedding party was looking as sharp as ever. The happy couple were especially foxy.
  • Speaking of foxy, Matt's mother, Mary, was looking dynamite. She was representing her Italian roots in full effect.
  • Matt told me at some point during his bachelor's that we were to be seated at the so-called "Fun Table". Of course, that comes with some downsides:
    • For one thing, we were among the last to get "released" to the buffet.
    • For another, our table was actually sacrificed for room on the dance floor, so we lost it all together.
    • Finally, there's the pressure to perform, which turned out not to be a problem -- I really hope someone with a good sense of humor has the job of going through the disposable camera pictures...
  • The Wife has always had a problem coordinating outfits with me when we've gone to things like this. I would often get annoyed because our outfits would often even clash -- it's one thing to not match, it's another to go all black & white while I'm in earth tones... ;) Well, this time we worked it out: I wore my brown sharkskin suit with a red/purple shirt that matched Hezzy's top fairly closely. It paid off, too. The Wife was super-pleased by all the comments we got about our outfits -- the best of which was when one of the photographers came up to us and said "You guys are without a doubt the best dressed couple here." Score! So let that be a lesson, ladies: Treat your man like an accessory and take the time to coordinate his kit to yours (at least a bit).
  • At any rate, good times were had by all. Congrats to Matt & Jen on a fine wedding.

Other than that, I didn't do much. I ended up riding the Bonneville for about 70 miles yesterday, so that was cool.

Get the monkey!

Our dog, Mingus, plays a game we call "Get the kitty!", which generally consists of Mingus snapping/pawing at our cat, Chuck, until Chuck comes after him. From there it usually degenerates to Chuck lying on his back swinging an occasional paw at the dog if he comes close.

This dog plays "Get the monkey!" and the capuchin seems to play by Chuck's rules. The monkey even looks a little like Chaz.

(Thanks Shay.)

Wookiee Yawns

Hi, my name is Jake, and I yawn like a wookiee. This hasn't always been the case, but for the past couple years my yawns (and still not all of the time, but it seems to be more often than not nowadays) have born an erie similarity to Chewbacca's throaty growl/howl.

I wish I could claim this as a "talent", but it only works for me involuntarily. I can recognize the onset of a Chewie yawn and play it up or prolong it a bit, but I cannot for the life of me produce the sound on command. I know there are many people on this planet who can; I'm just not one of them.

It baffles me as much as it amuses my co-workers.

Days Like This

Things happen to Michael Buffington. It's been a long, long while, but I've had days like that. I think they tend to occur more often when one is in foreign territory. Like the time I spent a few days in Seattle. It wasn't as weird as Michael's day in San Fran, but it had a mild taste of the surreal throughout.

Morning Commute: Now with 100% more ass ramming!

Today, on the drive to work, I had the distinct pleasure of being the #1 car in a three car chain-reaction accident. Same old story: I had to stop short approaching an intersection. Of course, as soon as I am able to stop without hitting the car in front of me, I check the rearview. The car behind me stops close, but the Suburban behind her isn't able to stop in time. Boom leads to tap and my 7-8 year old plastic rear bumper crumbles.

Nobody was hurt, but we had a fun time waiting 20 minutes for Broomfield Police to arrive only to tell us, "Oh, this is actually City of Westminster, so just hang out until they get here."

Ten more minutes and we get to sit in the Accident Investigation van to file the report.

And now I get to deal with getting a new bumper.

Good times.

Juror Number Six

I was called into jury duty on Tuesday.We rendered our verdict today at five o'clock.

It wasn't a lot of fun, but it was certainly educational.

Now that the case is over, I can actually talk about it...

Basically, it was a rape case. And basically, we found the guy not guilty. None of this was easy. Unfortunately, the alleged victim either could not or would not remember anything about the alleged assault, and since the defense was consent (That is: "Yes we had sex, but it wasn't rape." This makes forensic evidence pretty useless, really.), it boiled down to he said / she said and that really wasn't enough for us to believe beyond the fabled "reasonable doubt" that the defendant was guilty.

When we went into deliberate, the first thing I asked was "Is anyone dying to be foreperson?" which got answered with "You go ahead." Ack! OK... That's me then: Foreman of the Jury.

Then we went around the table to state our feelings: One said guilty, three were undecided, and eight (including myself) felt not guilty was the right verdict. As we talked it over, it became apparent that we all felt something uncool happened. However most of us weren't so sure about it based on the evidence that we were willing to say a man was guilty of a serious crime. We all felt badly for the woman, but when close to ninety per cent of her testimony consisted of the phrase "Honestly, I don't remember at this time." we couldn't send a guy down the river. Something seemed to be going on with her. The District Attorney even asked her at one point "Are you trying to remember?" It was as if she had given up the fight. Whether that was because she just wanted it over with and behind her, as she stated, or if it was because she had lied about the whole thing, as the defense contended, we just didn't know. That's the very definition of reasonable doubt, I think.

Just before five the one juror who had been strongly in favor of a guilty verdict was just starting to realize that he, too, had a doubt in his mind, the bailiff / court secretary / ??? came in and said the judge was going to call recess for the day. Of course, we replied with a hearty "No! Wait! Just a couple more minutes!" I checked again with the juror who was changing his mind to be sure he wasn't feeling coerced in any way and that he would be able to sleep at night with this decision. He said simply that he did indeed have a reasonable doubt and that it would be worse to convict an innocent man than to send someone who, to our knowledge, might be a one-time offender free.

So we re-polled, and I got everyone to agree that we were unanimous, and I signed my name under the NOT GUILTY verdict.

This was all very difficult and distressing.

Luckily I hung out in the parking lot (telling my boss that I'd actually be back to work tomorrow) long enough that I saw the judge come out. I went over to him and thanked him for the experience, etc. Then I made a comment about how tough an ordeal it was and he described the whole situation in a single word: Pathetic. It really was. Pathetic and sad for everyone involved. Then I mentioned how there was no way we could have come back with any other verdict and he agreed totally. He said that if it had been a trial before the court (without a jury) he would have had to determine a not guilty verdict as well. This is why I say it was lucky I ran into him. That validation really helped.

I wish I could share that with the other jurors.

So, there you go.

Cool parts and observations:

  • Cops (at least patrol officers, and in particular the 2-years-in-the-service pup who testified) seem to hate defense attorneys. I think they feel like they are trying to make them look like idiots.
  • Contrary to what is depicted on TV (be it Vegas, Miami, or NY), CSIs wear uniforms. They look a lot like SWAT fatigues.
  • If you are an alternate juror, you won't know until the moment they send the jury in to deliberations. What a tease!
  • The forensic scientist from the CBI was really cool and very educational. She was also the only witness who brought anything (other than an oxygen tank) with her to the stand (her files, that is – no fun slides or anything like that).

Jury duty can be a hassle. It can drain you emotionally, like this did for all of us, I think. But it's certainly worth doing. I'm glad to have done it.

Besides, it could have been worse.