The Famous J Blog

Jun 13

Blog Reboot

Well, I’m in Detroit and I decided to reboot the blog. So this blog is hereby retired and the new blog can be found here:

http://famousjtakesdetroit.com

I’m writing up a storm over there. Take a look and update your bookmarks appropriately.

And thanks for the memories, Tumblr.

Jun 01

House Hunting in Detroit

So this weekend we made our first big trip to Detroit. This was my second time in the city of Detroit, the first being for the interview for the new job. This was Sherry’s first time.

Our mission was simple: find a house. In one day. No pressure! Just one day to find the place we’re going to be spending the next year in.

It’s not like we came in knowing nothing about the town. Actually, it’s pretty easy to get fairly well up to speed on these things due to the miracle of the Internet. Craigslist gives you dozens of rentals. You can use Google Maps will not only show you where in town the place is, but that street view thing will let you look at the place and your neighbors. Another Google search can tell you about the various neighborhoods and suburbs of that worn-out metropolis. And we had a ton of suggestions.

We settled on looking at places in Royal Oak and Grosse Pointes. (For those of you in St. Louis, Royal Oak is like Maplewood only slightly more upscale and with a better downtown. Grosse Pointe is a combination of Ladue and St. Louis Hills, depending on how nice your street is. If you’re from Dallas, I can’t help you. There’s nothing remotely like either of these places there.)

The company kindly provided us with an agent named Hans who specializes in rental places. He managed to take us to nine places in about three hours.

Royal Oak ended up being a complete bust. All the rental houses had that shabbiness that you get from houses that change tenants every year or so. Good houses get snatched up quickly and by the time we visited, the town had been pretty well picked over.

However, in Grosse Pointe we found two places we really liked. One of them was a house in Grosse Pointe Woods owned by another agent whom Hans knew, wasn’t even on the market yet. Hans had talked to the guy, who agreed to let us look at the place.

The place was awesome, so sometime around 2 in the afternoon, we called Hans back and asked him to get in touch. Hans worked his magic and the guy agreed to let us rent the place.

In comparison to our current place, this house is bigger, nicer, on a much quieter street in a much nicer neighborhood. I think we lucked out getting this place. This street was more St. Louis Hills than Ladue, so I don’t think we’ll come across like total frauds living in this place, either. Although I’m still not convinced I’m a Grosse Pointe person, but living is easy in the Pointes, and I’m sure I’ll be get past any reservations I might have.

Of course, we still haven’t gotten anything in writing, but hopefully that won’t be a problem. We found another place in Grosse Pointe Farms (home of Meg White) which we also liked, but it was a bit smaller, and didn’t have some bonus features of the one we settled on like the fenced in yard. But hopefully that won’t be an issue.

I had more thoughts about the trip, but I hear Gus getting fussy. Maybe tomorrow.

If only I could get one of these to appear underneath my house, so we wouldn’t have to find someone to buy it.

Story If only I could get one of these to appear underneath my house, so we wouldn’t have to find someone to buy it.

Story

May 29

May 22

There are so many things going on in this picture, I don’t know where to start. How’s about the mysterious text “Dong Zhu”.  And the model.  And, “anti-bacterial”?  Is that really a problem in China?  

This is from a list of 16 Items They Only Sell At Chinese Walmarts.  I’ve got to check out one of these Chinese Walmarts. There are so many things going on in this picture, I don’t know where to start. How’s about the mysterious text “Dong Zhu”. And the model. And, “anti-bacterial”? Is that really a problem in China?

This is from a list of 16 Items They Only Sell At Chinese Walmarts. I’ve got to check out one of these Chinese Walmarts.

May 21

Kane County researching legality of outdoor smoking ban - I remember when they first started banning smoking in certain places. The pro-smoking people said, “When are they going to stop?”

Well, we have the answer: they are never going to stop until they effectively ban smoking everywhere.

Just for the record, this ban on smoking applies if you’re outdoors, downwind from everyone, at a private establishment, with a gentle breeze sending the smoke into the atmosphere.

I remember the first smoking bans were premised on the (wildly-overstated) health risks of second-hand smoke. This ban clearly has nothing to do with anyone’s health.

But whatever. Pretty soon the only food they’ll be able to serve at restaurants will be fat-free and completely unsalted. And it’s no longer possible to exaggerate about these things.

It’s for your own good! You’re all going to be healthy… or else…

May 11

Are you an Asker or a Guesser? - This article claims it will change your life. It just might. I’ve been doing nothing but think about it for an hour now.

Not that anyone asked, but I would say I’m more of a guesser. Since I rarely ask for much and am content to poke and prod until something falls in my lap. Either that or I’m easy to please and don’t really need much of anything.

Except more money. I could always use more money. Maybe I should start asking for it.

Anyone out there want to give me some money? Anyone?

May 10

Having checked out several festivals, including the new one in St. Louis this year this seems pretty much spot on.

Having checked out several festivals, including the new one in St. Louis this year this seems pretty much spot on.

May 06

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May 03

The City Museum in the Wall Street Journal -

For those of you who are fortunate enough not to live in St. Louis, there’s really only one thing you’re missing: the City Museum, which really might be the most amazing place on earth. Read on!

Apr 28

Apr 27

Summer Vacation

I did summer school a few times when I was in college. I liked summer school. The town was mostly empty, so there was never a crowd anywhere. You could always get a table. The bars all pretty much had a three-month-long happy hour. There was a peaceful, easy-going atmosphere on campus. There was solidarity. Nobody really wanted to be there, not the students, not the poor schlub faculty who drew the short straws.

But despite that, there was actual work to do. Three hours taken over the summer counted the same as three hours during the fall. So you had to fight through and take things seriously, somehow.

It occurred to me that working at a company that’s going out of business is exactly like summer school. Especially in our case. The ownership wants us to finish the last version, for when they sell the what of the company they can, in our case the intellectual property. Our new version is going to be dynamite, and it’ll make a much better presentation than the previous old crumbly version.

Anyway, as long as the paychecks keep clearing, we keep working on the software. But ultimately, in the back of our heads, it’s not going to be in massive circulation. So even though we have a very hard deadline, there’s a real sense of urgency that’s missing.

Apr 19

End of the Road

Sometime about seven years ago, I answered an ad for a software developer in the classified section of the newspaper*. I had an interview with two guys, one about 6’5” and the other about 5’4”. On the table was a mockup of what looked like a large mechanized dildo. I asked, “So, uh, does this thing work like I think it does?”

To which the shorter gentleman said, “Yes, this is inserted into the anus.”

I managed not to start giggling, and they gave me the job. And that’s how I started working in the transrectal prostate ultrasound business.

It’s one of those deals where I just had a feeling I was meant to work there. Like that everything in my life had been leading up to me getting a job writing code for anal probes.

I had some very good times. I spent most of the year putting in 70 hour weeks doing everything I could to get the product out. I participated in clinical studies involving parts of dead people. Specifically the dismembered asses of dead people. I participated in later studies involving the asses of live people. In fact, I was the first live ass they took pictures of.

And the jokes. You’d think if you put a bunch of guys in a room working on a device that gets stuck in the ass, at some point you’d run out of jokes. But no, after all this time, I still hear new ones.

But all things must come to an end at some point. Word came down last week that, after numerous misstarts, new versions, about a dozen rounds of venture funding, hiring and firing a sales staff four times, our little company is closing its doors for good on June 1st. I think we’ve got a good product that the market just isn’t ready for, and the folks who pay the bills aren’t willing to keep shelling out the money to make it work.

I’ve been saying from the get-go that while I would be ecstatic if the company was a great success, ultimately, I didn’t care if they sold one unit, so long as I continued to get paid. Well, I brought in a steady paycheck for seven years, which is about five years longer than I would have thought we’d last.

I mentioned earlier about having a good feeling about working at that place. Well, I have been in a really good mood ever since the word came down. Actually, I’ve been looking for a new gig for most of the past year with little success. I suspect that this is just the thing I need to get moving on the next phase of my life. Everyone has a tendency to want to stick with the comfortable and familiar, me especially. Sometimes all you need is a bit of a shove to get moving.

So the job search has taken on a serious sense of urgency, as you could imagine. And people have really come out of the woodwork to be helpful. My thanks to all of you.

What new adventures await Famous J? Will it be fame and riches? Or misery and waiting in front of the Salivation Army for a free bowl of soup? Stay tuned to find out!

* Yes, Virginia, they used to post job listings in the paper version of the newspaper. They did this as recently as 2003, apparently.

Apr 16

I have spent the last ten minutes looking at this thing.

 via I have spent the last ten minutes looking at this thing.

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Apr 15

The Amazing Greek Anarchist Dog

I suspect this dog is secretly the organizing force for the anarchist movement in Greece. In fact, if Ihad to guess, this dog is the one who orchestrated their massive financial meltdown.

Even more pictures of this rabble-rousing mutt here.