Hello, my name is Dan and this is my DT Log.

25 years and not a single Pulitzer Prize to clutter my bookshelf!

The only self-help book you need on your shelf.

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Hey all (4 of you apparently):

It must be a positive that DT Log 424 was so well-received, a couple of people favorited the DT Log WordPress blog.

(Can “favorite” be used as a verb? WordPress spell-checking doesn’t think so.)

I’m not just showing self-deprecation when I say I don’t get why I have this sudden micro-popularity. You guys like blogs that only get updated every 18 months?

???

Please, you’ll only encourage me.

Anyway, if you liked my Martian story (and Cantaloupe will be a recurring character if DT Logs become recurring, I dunno)

or the Zombie Walmart story from 18 months ago,

you may like the DT Log Facebook Edition, which I update more frequently with links, short-form writing and memes.

Also, you can follow my brand new Twitter handle.

SEE, I TOLD YOU GUYS! IT WOULD ONLY ENCOURAGE ME! THERE’S A DT LOG TWITTER ACCOUNT NOW! THAT WASN’T THERE A WEEK AGO!

***

So here’s an example of what you can find on the Facebook page or Twit feed:

barf-best-friend

You’ll get stuff that and much more!

If I’m going to burn bridges by overselling my writings to a couple of people, I’M GONNA LET THOSE MUTHAS BURN!

Oh, and Ed and I thank you for your support.

Written by Dan

Thursday 17 April, 2014 at 8:58 pm

DT Log 424: A Martian and a Minnesotan.

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THE FOLLOWING MAY OR MAY NOT BE A TRUE STORY:

Image

Tuesday 9 April 2014, 3:00 AM Central Daylight Time:

About an hour ago I was reminded about the neat little quirk about Mars tonight, by a Facebook friend named Devon, someone who was a Grossmont Intermediate Acting classmate.  That was the class I met Bronwynn, and we basically spent each class period doing the collegiate equivalent of passing notes.  Katherine Faulconer, our late, great classically-trained professor got on us about that while other people were doing an acting exercise in front of the class.

“Put the pen and notebook down, you two, and pay attention to your classmates.”

Boy, I was a snot at age 21, because I thought or said aloud, “We don’t have to pay attention until it’s our turn.”  Snotty know-it-all-age-21er.  I think I just thought it, though.  Dame Katherine actually got a part on TV’s “Renegade” in a scene where she brandished a .44 pistol, and I don’t think she would have thought twice at aiming at me.

Smartly, she assigned me and Bronwynn our final exam – a Shakespeare scene from “Henry VI Part I” – together.  This involved acting one scene and writing a paper about our characters.  After the scene (yes, tights, I WORE tights), she indicated that she had read our papers, and told us, probably constructive as criticism:

“I think you both missed an opportunity.  You only read ‘Henry VI, Part I’ and you could have read ‘Part II’ and gained a lot more insight into your characters.”

I actually did consider reading Part II, but I dismissed it, because, you know, I HAD A GIRLFRIEND and so what, I ALREADY KNEW EVERYTHING, so I replied,

“I thought about reading ahead, but I didn’t want to know what happened to the characters later on.”  Boom, B.S. answer fired off.

With the great imagination of one of the San Diego area’s most respected thespians, I’m sure she envisioned her petulant student in a pool of blood on the floor of the Stagehouse Theatre.  You don’t need to learn an accent for that.

***

Mars is close!  Get out there and see how bright it is!  You can touch it too!

I walked outside thirty minutes ago, and of course, it’s cloudy outside.  You’re lucky to get a clear night every five days where I am now, so I went to go back inside and waste more time on Facebook, when I hear a tinny, computer-aided voice:

“Hey, Dan, Grrzazlefuft.”

I turned around, and there was a blue-green-colored humanoid standing in the middle of one of the ugly bushes I hate.  Wait, can I call him blue-green-colored?  Is that racist?  I better just say he was Martian.

“Grrzazlefuft?” I asked, “What does that mean?”

“Oh, sorry, that word isn’t easily translated into English.  Never mind.”

“Okay.”

He stepped away from the ugly bush, and left it unscathed, leaving me disappointed.

The Martian said, “You know, it’s interesting.  Minnesota is the number one destination for my kind.”

“Is that right?”

“Oh yes, very nice people, miles and miles of nothing to see in the winter, and the most flouride-polluted tap water anywhere on Earth.  Mmmm mmmm, very tasty.  Can I ask you something?”

“There’s not a lot of people up at 2AM.  What can I do for you?”

“I want to ask.  Why don’t Earthling authors write about Martians anymore?  Have you stopped caring?  It’s actually a pretty big blow to our egos.  We used to be all over the comics, magazines, books, and now, nobody writes about or even talks about Martians.”

I scratched my head, “Well, actually I read one the other day.  It was about a door-to-door Martianist preacher.  He kept pounding his scripture, trying to convince humans to repent and follow the Sedonia Gospels or else they’d go to Uranus when they die.”

“Oh my, that’s AWFUL.  I mean, Uranus.  That planet just… SUCKS.  I’m so sorry.  We are not all like that, I swear.  We’re pretty much a race of happy optimists.  We didn’t even pick a side in that whole Russian-Ukraine thing going on!  Only a few of us are in-your-face proselytizers, and we ignore them too when they knock on our mud-holes.”

“No, that’s okay,” I reassured him (actually, I wasn’t sure it was a him, her or neuter.  Better not assume with extraterrestrials.)  “Like a lot of science fiction, it is satire and or allegory.  The thing is, friend, the common perception is that Mars has no life.  This was proven in the 1980s, and a lot of authors decided to stop writing about intelligent life on your planet.”

The Martian suddenly looked hurt about what I said.  “Look, I can’t be responsible for my race, and I know there are a lot of Martian douchebags.  You know how it is, it’s like you’re surrounded by imbeciles bringing society down, right?  There are smart Martians, you just have to ignore the MarsTube videos of people playing Gogi-Pong and drunk-crashing through the tables!”

I guess I looked a little skeptical, because he(she/it) started pleading, pulling a wallet-thingy out of his scaly backside.  “HERE LOOK AT THIS – I am a member of MPR, Mars Public Radio!   AND THIS, my library card.  And here, I’ve been learning Klingon! … ‘IoD Quch jiHbe!’ “

I looked down at my wrist even though I didn’t have a watch on, but hopefully he was getting the hint (as you are probably, this DT Log has gone on WAAAAAAY too long).

“Look,” I said, “You have nothing to worry about.”  Was I really trying to build up the self-esteem of an alien?  “I sometimes too feel like I am in the middle of a cultural wasteland that is rural Minnesota, but I refuse to change.  I will still speak with a high vocabulary and not dumb things down for people.  I will still talk up boring character-driven independent movies.  I will still post scientific or arcane philosophical articles to Facebook I know nobody will read!  You have to be yourself, lead by example.”

The Martian smiled, which was actually quite grotesque.  “You’ve touched me!  I think I may have slimed myself you made so much sense.  Thank you.”

Just then, a huge explosion brightened the sky, a needling light piercing the clouds in the direction of Mars.

“Oh no,” the Martian said, “That sounded like Gur’ar’al got drunk and surfed the Curiosity Rover into our atomic stockpile!  I think he just blew up the planet.”  On the verge of crying, my poor friend said, “I think I’m homeless.”

I sighed.  Bronwynn is going to hate this.  “All right, come in, you can stay with us until you back on your feet.”

“Oh thank you!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!”

I led the humanoid through our doorway, and his (I’ve decided it’s a boy after all) skin had the beautiful, eerie, sparkly glow of Edward Cullen, the vampire when in sunlight, crossed with a rainbow trout.

“My name is Nu’Rar’Ur’Me’Lal.  You can call me by my nickname: Cantaloupe.  Say, do you have a Playstation?”

Proudly, I said, “We have two Playstation Threes.”

Cantaloupe looked really disappointed, “Oh, okay, I guess that’s okay until you steal a Playstation Four.”

I stopped cold and looked him dead in the third and fourth eyes.  “We don’t condone that in this house.”

“Just kidding,” he said with a dead-pan manner.

A beat later, he said, “Of course you’d much rather steal an Xbox One.”

THE END

As always, space for public response is provided below.

Written by Dan

Wednesday 9 April, 2014 at 9:00 am

DT Log 423: The Zombie Apocalypse at a Walmart Supercenter.

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THE FOLLOWING MAY OR MAY NOT BE A TRUE STORY.

Now I know what you are thinking: two things. Number one, why zombie apocalypse? That’s so overdone right now. Okay, I hear you. Let’s just say it can be any kind of apocalypse: virus attack, mutant overruns, alien colonization. Anything. Except vampires. That is soooooo overdone right now.

But I am going to say heck-with-it and make this story a zombie apocalypse.

Secondly, why a Walmart Supercenter? Why not Target or Kmart or Sears? Well if you see the clientele via a website called People of Walmart, you’ll see that it is corporate policy to make sure zombies head for Wally World instead of the competition. After all, they save you the most on everything. Save Money, Die Better, Walmart.

So if you can believe those two things, then you can believe that Shawn and I actually discussed this in detail once.

“Walmart is the perfect place to stay while the undead rise. You’ve got everything you need there. Food, medical supplies, guns and ammo.”

“And yet,” I said, “You still have to wait twenty-five minutes to get ahold of a manager to unlock the firearms, and even then he’s grumbling under his breath about it.”

So imagine my surprise during overnight hours, when shopping for Pop Tarts, an iPad a Samsung tablet and antifreeze for a boat motor, that the walking dead started attacking human civilization!

A few minutes before, though, at the checkout, I scanned my debit card. ERROR. Scanned it again. ERROR. One more time. ERROR.

“You have to do it a certain way,” my cashier told me, “Hold the card flat against the terminal and bend it back.”

“Do I have to wiggle my toes and whistle ‘Call Me Maybe’ as well?”

Before she could answer, a clatter from inside the vestibule got our attention. At first I thought it might be the beginning of Black Friday, but whew, no, it was only zombies.

“Zombies,” the cashier said, “That’s a relief. At least they won’t ask a hundred stupid questions.”

As you may know, the undead move slow, so the associates and I were able to make a plan. The hero of this saga, Alan, made decisions as leader.

“I want everybody to go back to TLE and grab as many tires as you can, pronto! We’ll block the doors and windows so they can’t come in.”

“Sorry, we’re out of stock on all tires,” the overnight automotive guy said, “And we don’t have a TLE. We actually don’t sell tires at this store either. So technically I’m right.”

“Nuts,” Alan said calmly and then directed, “Okay, let’s all of us go grab a bunch of pallets and place them against the wall.”

“MAKE SURE YOU USE THE PALLET JACKS AND DON’T LEAVE THEM UNATTENDED ON THE SALES FLOOR!” a disembodied voice from the speaker above said, “AND EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE ZOMBIES, THAT’S NO EXCUSE NOT TO USE GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE!”

I helped them stack the pallets in front of the doors. Miraculously enough, the escapees from the cemetery I have previously mentioned hadn’t made it to the doors yet, because they were fascinated by the toy-crane machine.

“WAIT!” Associate David said, emerging from the backroom, “Don’t block it yet!”

“Why?”

“I have to return this movie to Redbox! I’m not going to pay for one more night rental if I can’t see it!”

After Dave returned his rental and had his brain consumed by the horde, the associates and I managed to block access from the front. They kept pounding on the glass, wanting in, their appetites quite insatiable, as if they had just eaten a Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine.

It was the calm in the storm, we sat down and had a moment before we decided to divide up the store supplies. In addition to my share of merchandise, I negotiated an extra pack of Sharpies and a Shake Weight.

While I was grabbing a cart full of lithium batteries in electronics, I noticed the zombies had broken through! En masse, they marched limpingly down the main aisle, carrying with them body parts I could only hope belonged to management personnel. Quickly, I decided to duck into the restrooms, hoping I could escape from there.

The scent of nectarines greeted me inside, my favorite of all smells associated with a Walmart restroom. I looked up at the ceiling tiles… there’s got to be some way out. Some way, any way!

I climbed onto the sink; immediately it collapsed under my weigh and I hit my head on the tile floor.

Assuredly concussed and doomed, I closed my eyes, expecting the inevitable. I wasn’t going to survive this horror story. Outside the doors, I heard the scratching of plaster, the smacking of lips, the guttural gasps of paralyzed but reanimated vocal chords.

But the door never opened. After a few minutes, I heard a “Shhhhhhhhhh…” and things got really quiet. It was a good 45 minutes before my terror abated enough to let my curiosity take over.

I pushed the restroom door slowly, trying not to let it CREEEEEEAAAAAK but it did. My eyes went wide, perspiration dripped from my forehead, and my heart started beating even faster!

There was a line of zombies waiting impatiently as one of them sat at the employment kiosk trying to fill out an application!

Worse yet, a frustrated associate named Jane from the back was trying in vain to help them out.

“It’s asking for a password. Do you remember your password?” Jane asked.

“BWAAAA-RAWR ARRRRURRRGH RAHR,” the job prospect replied.

“No we don’t have your password on file. We’ll have to call I.T.”

“ARRR-WOO RAWR ARRR-WOO?” he asked.

“No I can’t tell you if telemarketing is an acceptable job code in customer service,” Jane said impatiently. With a tsk, she also said, “You can actually apply for a Walmart job at home on the Internet, you know.”

So, I survived that day, if not for my wits, my courage, and the fact that most zombies don’t have a DSL line at home.

But I must caution you, if and when you should decide to shop at Walmart in the future:

Please be nice! I know it’s hard and frustrating at times when you go into the store and you can’t find anything or the floor associate doesn’t seem particularly helpful.

Just remember that in this economy, zombies have to work at Walmart too!

***

Gimme a “P” “P!” – gimme a “U” -”U!” gimme a “B” “B!” – Yadda yadda yadda – What does that spell? “PUBLIC RESPONSE!” Where is it provided? “IN THE SPACE BELOW!” What do we want to be? “TROLL FREE!” “Woot!”

Written by Dan

Wednesday 3 October, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Last public DT Log post: After two years in a photo lab.

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Creatively, I am going in a different direction starting with the new year, and I intend to bring the DT Log back to what it was pre-Internet, which is updating and entertaining friends.

So this will be the last public DT Log WordPress post.

***

Some of the things I have learned after two years working in a photo lab:

Studio portraits are unnecessary. – The most stress of this job is trying to convince customers that we as a lab need permission from the photographers to reprint their works. But with a few exceptions, the quality of studio portraiture is very poor. Even when it does pass muster with lighting, clarity, composition, I still find most shots to be sterile, unimaginative and not worth the money. Often, I find candid snapshots more charming and better suited for wall placement.

Some people’s fear of technology cost them hundreds of dollars each year. – I started this job thinking that there was still a use for film in most cases, but now I have come to the conclusion that digital saves a ton of money. To process 27 pictures on film, you have to buy a Single Use Camera for $4-8 and then process in one hour for about $8 if you want just singles. Multiply this by 20 to 30 per year from our frequent shutterbugs and that can be upwards of $200. A simple investment of a Fuji bundle for just $90 and then printing 100 pictures for 15 cents apiece (not including pictures you couldn’t otherwise delete on film), and the savings would be within reach very quickly. Alas, technophobia not just abounds in the baby boomers and up, but a lot of Gen Xers as well.

The Polaroid brand has been run into the ground, and Kodak is headed that way too. – With Tom Petters being found guilty this past week of his company’s Ponzi scheme, Polaroid’s future is very much up in the air. They don’t produce Instamatic film anymore, and their product output is abysmal. Polaroid digital cameras have the worst quality of any national brand, and they break very easily. Once solid in reputation, Kodak is having trouble because of lot of their past business has been selling film. They posted a $137 million loss in 4Q 2008, and started whittling away at their workers due to “plunging sales of both digital and film-based photography products.” Despite friendly yellow boxes and decades-long brand loyalty, their products aren’t very good anymore, and customers are starting to bypass them in favor of Samsung, Sony and Canon.

There is no down time, ever. – Since this is my first experience with retail, there is always something to do. Always. Where once I had a job where I could listen to the radio and leisurely key in office supply orders, this is absolutely, mentally and physically, the hardest job I’ve had to do in my life. And appropriately enough, I don’t make even close the amount of money I did when I was in data entry. Of course the rent in Minnesota is much, much cheaper than California, but it doesn’t feel like an equitable trade-off.

Self-service photo kiosks are designed to be “user-friendly,” but those designers couldn’t possibly know what that means. – Programmers overestimate the ability of the average customer to use their machines. Instead of simplicity, the kiosks are filled with all kinds of confusing twists and turns under a mission of upselling and offering as many choices as possible. So unlike In-N-Out Burger menus, the complexity of the touch-screen options actually mean we lab workers are spending more time walking our customers through orders. We’re not supposed to “order for them,” so guiding the average first-time user (and there are hundred of them each month), means we fall behind in our other lab duties.

The one-hour photo is the wackiest place in any store, so naturally I fit in.
– Photo is the landing place for quirky personalities due to the intense interaction with machines and customers. On one hand, the routine is very right-brained, and you follow a rigid to-do list that is more science than art. Once aforementioned customers have problems on the kiosks, we must do a mental 180 and teach using our left brains. Couple that with the physical stress of being on our feet all day, we are exhausted by day’s end. So gregariousness, joking around and loud, amusing proclamations are the hallmark of the ideal photo worker’s personality. And since we know the names of our customers, those wacky customers often congregate and join in the absurdity. I suggest if you ever wanted free entertainment, go to your nearest discount or grocery store on a busy day and watch the lab work.

***

Hope this was an entertaining one year-point-three-three of DT Log on WordPress.

See everybody on the other side of the decade on FA.

Written by Dan

Monday 7 December, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Video: Guitar Hero for the Commodore 64.

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Q: Why do people study dead languages?

A: To experience what it was like to live in the past.

Same thing with programming C-64 games, they’re like archaeologist engineers working with sticks, stones and mud.

Creating Guitar Hero for the Commodore is quite impressive:

(source: Toni Westbrook via Fark)

Written by Dan

Monday 21 September, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Highpoint: Crow Wing County.

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Ascent: August 30, 2009.

Mark Ness, one of two people to successfully highpoint all the counties in the state of Minnesota, called Crow Wing County’s summit “one of the most remote in the state.”  He is very right about that.  There is virtually no chance of driving right up to it.  The way to claim the high point is to trudge through the woods and sidestep the swamps.

It was daunting for my first county highpoint, but I had to do it, since Crow Wing is my home county.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dan

Monday 31 August, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Image: Lego Quick Stop from Clerks.

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Could this be the future new Lego video game from Traveler’s Tales?

Image source: Flickr

Written by Dan

Monday 31 August, 2009 at 4:06 am

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