March 23, 2002

My week away from home went pretty well. Naturally, I got exactly zero schlock-related work done, but I got lots and lots of actual bill-paying work done, so I can't complain.

Unfortunately, while I was away my department got heavily re-organized. We picked up two other departments' worth of people and projects, and I've been told that some of them will be looking to yours truly for leadership. In short, when I get back into the office on Monday, there will be a Utah shload of extra stuff for me to do, and the last time I looked there was neither a time machine nor a cloning device anywhere near my office. The scary thing is that I'm looking forward to this.

(For those who are curious, 'shload' is unrelated to the word 'schlock.' 'Schlock' is yiddish/high-german in origin, while 'shload' is a contraction heard in Utah where the use of non-contracted obscenity is a bit less common than it might be in the real world. This would be clearer if I'd spelled it sh'load, but then you might be wondering how to pronounce it.)

In other news, my ISP disconnected me for abuse of my unlimited internet access. Apparently their definition of "unlimited" is rather creatively shaped around the thought that even within reasonable limits (one line at a time, one user at a time) additional limits must be imposed (if you're using more than 150 hours in a month, then you're over your limit). Notice how many times I had to use the word 'limit' to convey my ISP's definition of the word 'unlimited.' If I had time to be really annoyed with them I'd sue them for false advertising. As it is, I'll probably just be switching ISPs (as soon as I find the time... see paragraph two above). In the meantime, however, I mentioned the word 'lawsuit' to their tech-support boffin and he got all quiet and polite and reactivated my account. Apparently that word is very unambiguously defined, and happened also to be in his vocabulary.

If any of you feel the urge to send sharp, stinging waves of negative mental energy at an organization, my ISP is "" Sure, sure... it's probably more productive to visualize world peace, but occasionally it's fun to experiment with psychokinesis. I'll let you know if my ISP asks me to call you guys off before they run out of ibuprofen. Or maybe we could all just watch the news for outbreaks of spontaneous human combustion.

In happier news, the Wednesday night BrainShare party rocked out. We had Styx play for us at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Of the original-original band, only James Young was there (both the Panozzos were absent, as was Dennis DeYoung). Tommy Shaw was also there (he's original Styx, but not original-original), looking a lot less boyish than he did on all those album covers. Glen Burtnik, who was a great addition to the group on their "Edge of the Century" CD was there playing bass, and he's pretty darn energetic - a great addition to the band. Then they had a drummer whose name I've forgotten, and a guy playing keyboards and singing Dennis DeYoung's bits. That guy was actually pretty darn good. Anyway, the rock show was shloads of fun (see above), except for the moron-weenie-jerks with the laser pointers who thought it would be cool to play 'red-dot-tag' on the jumbo screens. Don't waste your time on them, though... I've already mocked them in one public forum, and am confident that they are cowering in shame even now.

On Friday as I was looking for the room where my final session was to be held I ran into a guy who reads Schlock Mercenary. Apparently he was in one of my technical sessions last year, and was looking for my email address on the Internet when he stumbled across far too many references to my name in conjunction with this little moonlight operation of mine. He poked around long enough to figure out that the Howard Tayler he'd met was the same guy as this cartoonist person, and then he stuck around to read the strip. He devoured the archives, and is now addicted, tuning in regularly for updates.

I was so pleased at this that I whipped out a truly sloppy sketch for him. Ugh. I suppose that's what I get for not doing any drawing for a week. Save that one, James... it's like a defective postage stamp: the value goes up in direct proportion to the gravity of the errors.