Disco Lights & Making Money — My Two Favorite Things!

If you’re a loyal reader of my blog, you’ll remember my post a while back about how one can use inexpensive LED lights attached to the rear of an LCD television to decrease eye strain when watching movies in low-level lighting:

The finished product; ambient light behind the TV so there is no eye strain AND no glare!

The finished product; ambient light behind the TV so there is no eye strain AND no glare!

After noting I had tons more LEDs sitting around and dreading that I would be sitting through several lengthy conference calls today, I decided to reduce eye strain on my main computer workstation, too!  Check out how fun the back sides of my monitors look now that they have been coated with such fabulous luminosity.

LEDs now outline the monitors on my desk.

LEDs now outline the monitors on my desk.

OK, some of you may be wondering why I have three monitors on my desk. I’m a geek, that’s why. Seriously, though, it’s a common setup for people who work in technology.  I’m sure that you have noticed how annoying it can be when you are trying to look at an Excel file, read an email, and type a letter — and then you need to lookup something on the web. You have to juggle things around, and I often would forget what I was even doing before opening the new browser window. The work that I do is 99.9% done “on-screen”, so my having 3 monitors is like someone else having a wide desk so that he can see more than one sheet of paper at a time. And not to brag, but my center monitor is larger than most previous century televisions at 30″. It helps get the work done. It really does.

I know a lot of people who, for one reason or another, wind up with an extra monitor in the house. I highly suggest you try out using multiple monitors. You don’t have to start out at 3 — in fact, I think the most useful setup is when you have your primary large monitor in the center, and then you add a smaller, cheap 19″ monitor to either the left or to the right.  What for? Well, if you’re like me, you constantly get email and Facebook messages while you’re actually trying to get work done. I dedicate the smallest of my monitors as the “communication center” so that nothing pops up and annoys me when I’m doing real work. I can easily glance over at the little monitor and see the email that is coming in without being distracted by it or worse — having to do that annoying juggling of windows trying to find the place where I was working before I checked the email and screwed everything up. Most of the video cards that come in modern computers can support a second monitor — you just plug it into the extra monitor port.

In case you’re curious as to how the mouse and keyboard fit into this, don’t worry. Windows is smart, and when your mouse reaches the edge of one monitor, it automatically jumps over to the next one. Actually, it doesn’t jump at all — it’s quite smooth.

And, to reiterate…



Thoughts on Mothers’ Day

My mother, a couple of years before she had me.

My mother, a couple of years before she had me.

While watching the hilarious 1-800 Flowers commercial in the Mothers’ Day episode of Saturday Night Live (SNL) this weekend, I found myself thinking about what it would be like to be on the other end of things — being the mother. I obviously don’t have children, and I don’t have any plans to have them in the future. To be honest, I don’t care for them. I think it’s mostly the noise — but it also has something to do with how they insist on being the center of attention. I find it impossible to speak on the phone with most of my friends with children because of that horrible, continuous nagging in the background. Like my dogs, the children seem to be fine on their own until Mommy gets on the phone. I hate it.

Also, I hate the concept of “Mothers’ Day”. Just as with Valentine’s Day, Fathers’ Day, Secretaries’ Day, Retarded Siblings’ Day, etc. ad nauseam — they are just fake commercial constructs meant to guilt us into buying specialty gifts that most of us cannot afford. For what it costs to send a dozen red roses in The Bay Area, most US families could buy groceries for a month.  It is ridiculous.

Me, the most handsome baby of Cheatham Count in 1971.

Me, the most handsome baby of Cheatham Count in 1971.

Now, before you brand me a cynic and admonish me for being such a thankless son, I should get to the point of my post — my thoughts during the most excellent commercial parody on SNL. Though I do not intend to have children, I did think quite a bit about what it would take to raise a child by myself…a single parent (as was my mother).

My first thoughts were about money, of course. How in the world could I ever afford to do it? How did my mother afford to do it? I realized that in order to do it, I would have to adopt the practice of spending absolutely nothing on myself…ever. No more pay-per-view movies, Kindle books, and certainly no Mercedes SUV. No ring from Tiffany & CO. for my 40th birthday, no purebred pets, no HBO just for Game of Thrones, and certainly no regular housekeeper.

My life would be work, more work, and spending time with the kid(s).

And now that I think about it, that was what life was like for my mom. Work, more work, and then hanging out with me on the weekends. And she was happy to live life that way. She loved me so much that just “having me” and giving me all the things that I ever really wanted, not to mention ever needed, was all it took to make her happy.

Wow. Happy Mothers’ Day, Mom. Maybe there IS something behind this “holiday” after all!


Mom with her bestie on her birthday.

Mom with her bestie on her birthday.


Goodbye, Sookie…I’ll miss you terribly!

And it has finally happened — this week author Charlaine Harris published the final Sookie Stackhouse novel (a.k.a., The Southern Vampire Mysteries), the book series upon which the HBO original show True Blood is based. No more Vampire Bill, no more fairy magic, and worst of all — no more Eric the Viking Vampire!  I’ve had a major crush on Eric since he cut his hair in Season 2 of the TV series.  He is beyond gorgeous. And the books allude to over 8 inches of…you know.

Alexander Skarsgård, aka Eric the Viking (and my cell phone's wallpaper for several years now)

Alexander Skarsgård, aka Eric the Viking (and my cell phone’s wallpaper for several years now)

Anyway, on to the book…

My first impression?  It’s short.  Though it is satisfying in that it ties up all loose ends, even treating us to the reappearance of some favorite characters like the Reverend Steve Newland, there’s really no major plot point.  Unfortunately, you pretty much know who the Big Bad is starting in the Prologue.  Worse, Sookie’s love interest goes in a direction that many fans might have been awaiting — but unfortunately, it wasn’t in the direction I would have chosen.

"Vampire Bill" and Sookie

“Vampire Bill” and Sookie

I’m a huge fan of the “full circle” — the idea that our first big thing winds up being the biggest and best of our lives, yet we had no idea at the time because of our lack of experience and maturity.  For that reason, I was hoping that Sookie and Vampire Bill would wind up together in the end. And though I know Sookie wouldn’t want it, I still wanted the satisfaction of her turning vampire just as Bella turned at the end of Twilight.  Trite, sure.  But this isn’t Shakespeare we’re working with here.  Besides, there was room for some interesting plot twists related to Sookie’s fairy blood.  Could she have been the first vampire to walk in daylight?

Regardless, everyone knows Vampire Bill is still wildly in love with Sookie, and she forgave so much during her relationship with Eric that it seems petty to me for her not to forgive Bill for his prior transgressions — especially given they had nothing to do with cheating on her with other women.  Sure, he lied to her about his motives the night they first met, but he didn’t know her yet, and he was under direct orders from Queen Kamayamaya of Louisiana (i.e., Sophie Anne). Ultimately, he risked his life to protect her over and over regardless of the wishes of the vampire hierarchy.  I’d put up with a fib here and there from a guy in exchange for absolute fidelity for all time with a hot man who would murder anyone who insulted me in public.  That would be a-w-e-s-o-m-e! Even if he does murder his attempts at a Southern accent, too. 1

If you’ve read the million books that precede this one, you owe it to yourself to complete the set.

The full cover of the new book. Yet another whackadoo illustration. Does Harris do these herself???

P.S.  Even though this is the “last” book, I read today that Harris will release After Dead: What Came Next in the World of Sookie Stackhouse in October.  It looks to be an interesting format, even if it is a cheesy way for her to cash in one more time.  According to Amazon:

Dead Ever After marked the end of the Sookie Stackhouse novels—a series that garnered millions of fans and spawned the hit HBO television show True Blood. It also stoked a hunger that will never die…a hunger to know what happened next.

With characters arranged alphabetically—from the Ancient Pythoness to Bethany Zanelli—bestselling author Charlaine Harris takes fans into the future of their favorite residents of Bon Temps and environs. You’ll learn how Michele and Jason’s marriage fared, what happened to Sookie’s cousin Hunter, and whether Tara and JB’s twins grew up to be solid citizens.

This coda provides the answers to your lingering questions—including details of Sookie’s own happily-ever-after…

The book will feature extensive interior art by acclaimed Sookie artist Lisa Desimini, including a Sookieverse Alphabet, color endpapers, and several full-page black and white interior illustrations.


  1. Stephen Moyer, the Brit who plays Vampire Bill in the HBO series, suffers the same common problem other Brits have when trying to do an authentic American dialect — utter failure!