Sunday, March 29, 2009

I'm not winning the 'PeTA Member of the Year' Award

As I've written before, I'm a dad, a husband and a man. That should be clear. I've also written about one of my great fears as a father. That one really isn't a 'drop to my knees and cry like a baby' fear, more of a 'hope to hell this never happens' fear. You ladies should know just how lucky you are. I'm breaking 'The Code' just writing this.

It is true. Men do have fears. Shh...don't go telling anyone I said it. I'll deny it like it's my job.

I'm sure you are wondering what this text on the left has to do with a picture of the band on the right. Well by the time I'm done telling this little story, hopefully you'll figure it out.So, Friday night is our monthly meeting of Whiskey Club. Friday was also the first day of spring break for the kids. Easy peasy. My parents had come down in the morning, spent part of the day hangin' in our fair city and then drove them back to my hometown to watch them while me and the Mrs work during the day and then I go out with the boys at night. The house was this magical place after was quiet. Did you hear me? Q - U - I - E -T

I had about an hour to enjoy that quietness before I would need to leave for our monthly meeting. I had a little supper, watched some TV, dozed off for a few minutes (taking a huge risk here...napping without an alarm - EEK!)

My slumber was interrupted when I hear my cell phone ringing and almost in that same moment the door bell starts dinging. Whew! I would have hated sleeping through the meeting.

I had slipped into something more comfortable (t-shirt and boxer - seriously, get your mind out of the gutters), business formal is not the usual dress code for Bourbonators. When the door bell rang, I quickly realized that I should probably become less disheveled before stepping out of the bedroom. I do try to answer the door wearing pants.

Ringing my doorbell were two other Bourbonators. Holy crap! Was I hosting tonight? I answered the door. They were wondering how to get to the host's house. This month, the host lives about a mile from me...he's almost a stumble home. I get my things together and headed out to the garage to get my minivan.

To my surprise, I was greeted by a cat in the empty spot where the car usually sits. My friend asks, "is that your cat?" No. We don't have any pets, let alone a mangy looking cat.

We seen stray cats around the neighborhood before, and this one looked like one I'd seen. It's fur was a bit dusty looking and it was missing part of it's ear. It wasn't the mangiest cat I've ever seen but this cat was no ones fat, house cat.

I don't like cats. There, I said it. I don't wish ill will on them, but I don't like them. I REALLY don't like stray animals - AT ALL. There's this part of my brain that tells me that all animals that don't spend all their time indoors are swimming with diseases and/or parasites . I'm afraid of strays.

The friend asking the question seemed to like cats, he picked it up and carried it out of the garage (I seriously considered blowing chow right there...he held the his hands {shiver}). I backed the minivan out of the garage, shut the door and led the caravan to the site of Whiskey Club.

Now this really wouldn't be much of a story if if just ended there. We get it...OhCaptain's afraid of stray cats. But wait! Like any good infomercial - There's MORE!

I took it pretty easy on the liver and enjoyed a finger of a nice Irish Whiskey and a finger of an even better 16 year old Scotch. Washed it down with an average German Hefe-weissen beer,and followed it all with a Cherry Coke Zero. This isn't exactly enough to get me hammered. 3 drinks in 6 hours. I'm good to drive home.

I love this drive. It was a new moon so it's completely black on this country road. Not a car for miles. I'm usually nice and paranoid of hitting deer on nights like this. Not that I really care if I remove yet another one of these large rats from the eco-system, but they do tend to do some damage to the vehicle.

When I got home, I pulled the van in the garage, got my stuff and headed into the house. My bride had been asleep for hours, so I was trying to be extra quiet.


W - T - F ???

It was the sickest, loudest sound I'd heard. That mangy freakin' stray cat was back and wanted into my damn house!

This is where I'll be losing all the PeTA members that read my blog (No. I didn't kill it...). Under no circumstances will anyone in my house be allowed to provide room and board for a stray cat. There was no way I was letting this cat get cozy in my garage.

I needed a plan.

I was in the laundry which connects to the garage. The cat, was sitting on the step just outside this door. I opened the door just a crack to do a little intell. and the cat tried to make it in. A quick slam of the door kept him at bay. I closed the door that connects the laundry room to the rest of the house (I'd hate to have to burn down the house to get rid of whatever is on this damn thing), picked up stuff I wouldn't want it in contact with, made sure the closet door was closed. If I opened that door, he wasn't getting very far...but is this what I want to do?

I changed my plan to go out the front door of the house and open the garage door via the keyless remote. There was just too much risk to the inside of the house. Before leaving the laundry room, I grabbed a broom and a coat and headed out on my plan.

Having played countless hours of Cowboys & Indians and various other military style games as a boy, I employed a flanking maneuver on this flea bag in order to direct towards the now open garage door. I have a 3 stall garage. The third stall has lots of places to hide. My god, it's 2am, I really have no desire to drag this out.

Using the broom, I gently but sternly directed the cat to the open garage door. I got outside with it and hit the keypad to close the door. Had I really been thinking, I could have just grabbed a loose garage door opener. It's 2 am people.

Now that we were outside together, the cat really just wanted to get inside where it was warm. My cold, unfeeling heart still had no sympathy for this probably diseased cat entering my domicile., but CRAP! Now, how do I get back in my own damn house?

The feline intruder kept trying to snuggle up to me. Meowing pleasantly the whole time. There were brief moments that I started feeling sorry for the poor thing, it was in the low 30's, but just how many forms of lice could there be? Eew!

I worked my way back to the front door. It still closed from my exit, but I'm not small and still needed to make a space wide enough to get in without letting the cat sneak around me.

We danced for about 10 minutes in front of my house. Me gently nudging the cat with the broom, trying valiantly to keep the cootie breeding hair ball from touching me. Slowly working my way to the door. It had dawned on me that I might be very lucky that this is 2 am or someone watching me might really be enjoying a nice laugh...or better yet, making me a YouTube star.

This cat was good. I mean he was like NBA good at making moves. Parry left, he ducks and makes a quick move right. This little critter wasn't giving up easily. We ducked, dodged, swiveled, spun and nudged until finally, I got my big ass through the door and back in the house.

The now permanently unusable broom was returned to the cat free garage. I had defended my home.

I washed my hands for a good 5 minutes, took off my clothes in the laundry room and hoped that I wasn't already exposed to some zombie virus.

The furry Petri dish went back to standing next to my garage door. I could still hear him purring to get in. If my kids were here and saw that, they'd be begging me to let him in.

If it wasn't 2 am on a Saturday, I might have called Animal Control. It would be nice to know that if this cat wasn't already corrupted that it got a good home.

So, what were you doing at 2 am Saturday morning?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sharing the story...

Every now and then, I read a story that just breaks my heart. One of my fake Internet friends that I'm pretty sure wouldn't be fake if not for the miles between us, shared a story today that just moved me to tears. I'll let you read it for yourself.


*hugs WeaselMomm.

I'm gonna go hug my kids now...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our published author

OhPrincess1 published her second book. Here she is unveiling her book at the class's authors tea.

Update: To make sure there is no confusion, this is a class project. All 28 members of her class made the books. They all happily unveiled their published works.'s a big deal to them.

I know - this is only the beginning

This morning, I'm getting ready for work as usual. Business formal attire takes time (gawd, do I miss my hoodies and cargo pants). OhCountess had already left for the day which requires me to have a little faith that the kids can prepare themselves for the day.

Some days, this faith is sort of rewarded. Some days this faith is but a pipe dream.

Morning Recap:

[Sound heard by OhCaptain] CRASH! [not the biggest crash ever heard, sounded more like the reaction of someone to something, like falling on the floor - guessing 9 year old]

[OhPrincess2] I hate you. I'm going to run away.

[OhCaptain - head falls to chest] Sigh.

[OhPrincess1] Dad! OhPrincess2 threw something at me.

[OhCaptain] I'll be right down.
Editors Note: I've given up trying to determine fair and equitable punishments based on actions and evidence. It's just far easier to assume that they are both guilty of something. Just sayin'

[OhPrincess2 - audibly crying] I'm going to run away. I just don't like you any more.

[OhCaptain - now downstairs, not quite ready for work, visibly upset (read disgruntled)]  Where is OhPrincess2?

[OhPrincess1] I think she ran away. Dad! She threw (insert something about as dangerous a projectile as a piece of paper...) I don't know where she is.

Now at this point, there is a bit of concern in the OhCaptain character. OhPrincess2 is 5. Not exactly old enough for extended travel abroad, but he didn't hear any doors close and none of the external doors are open (and thus not closed...duh!). Which logically points to the fact that OhPrincess2 is indeed on the premise. Whew.

[OhCaptain - to OhPrincess1] Which way did she go?

[OhPrincess1 - still with a fair bit of fight in her] She went that way [pointing to laundry room] but dad, she threw something at me.

OhCaptain really could careless about this part of the argument. Boys seem like they would be so much easier. Seriously, who throws balled up Kleenex's at someone and who really cares that .5 ounces of snot if thin paper were chucked at their head? I mean come on...throw something with a bit more heft and cry when the pan hits you..

[OhCaptain - showing signs of argument fatigue] OhCaptain turns on the light in the laundry room and finds a moving jacket on the floor. The jacket is also crying. Jackets don't cry or move unless small 5 year olds can be found underneath. Most pressing issue now solved. OhCaptain is no longer working on alibis to cover the loss of 5 year old child while said child was on his watch.

[OhCaptain - to OhPrincess2] Are you really running away? Do I need to find you a suitcase and help you pack? You know I'll miss you terribly when you are gone.

[OhPrincess2 - sniffles, shows universal sign of extending arms upward (means - daddy, pick me up)] Yes. I just don't want to be around my sister any more. She's mean.

[OhCaptain] I'm really sorry to hear that. Which suitcase do you want me to get you? How much stuff do you think you will need?

[OhPrincess2] Daddy, I'd miss you too. I don't need a bag. I'm only gonna run away for the day. Well, I ran away to here. I don't need to go anywhere now. [She squeezes OhCaptain's neck with the death grip hug that only a 5 year old can do. Tears hit OhCaptain's neck.]

I know this won't be the last time one of the girls threatens to run away and pray they never do for real.

I have no idea what this fight was about. I do know that this happens. The kids fight. I fought with my brother. It sometimes ended up with one of us needing medical care. I'm grateful that this wasn't the case today. Boys seem simpler.

Raising daughters can be so much fun.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ode to the Rock Star

Back in the day, I was a DJ in a bar. Seriously, for a 21-26 year old male...there is no greater job. IMO. I got paid cash to be the life of a party every Saturday night...oh, and the beer was free, not to mention people often tip the DJ with shots and for some reason the girls always think the DJ is...never mind. I said nothing. Yes, OhCountess was the DJ's girl.

I've always had a knack for pairing music with a situation, place or event. One skill you need DJing in a nightclub is to pull songs out of the air and mix them in to fit the mood of the crowd. Sure, there are several songs you just have to play every night. I throw up a little in the back of my throat when I hear songs like "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights" and "Macarena". I could go the rest of my life without ever hearing those songs again...which can be tough, the rest of AC/DC's music RAWKS!

To this day I love mixing music to what's going on around me. With a little help of my Twitter friends, I found the word...sommelier. It's a person whose job it is to pair wines with dinner. I'm a sommelier of music. No, country still sucks...but occassionally, Johnny Cash or Charlie Daniels are perfect. I may not personally like country music, but that doesn't mean it isn't perfect for a moment. (I highly recommend not playing music trivia with me for money. Any bar that offers free drinks for guessing some music question usually cuts me off. Just warning you.)

If you follow me on Twitter, it doesn't take too long to figure out that music is a big part of my day. After getting the kids on the bus and to daycare, I strap on the headphones, fire up my iPhone and load up a playlist for the 20 minutes it takes to get to work via the bus. After enjoying the surreal walk through one of the most prestigious hospitals in the world, listening to the musical stylings of some punk band (really, put on the headphones and walk through someplace listening to the Sex Pistols wearing a's friggin' weird!), I get to my desk, switch headphones and connect the hard drive known as "The Collective" to my computer, start iTunes and chose the tone of music. Easy peasy.

Some days I do wonder, what it would have been like to take that different find a career in rock-n-roll. Actually, there are a few days every month I want to toss out the air guitar and strap on a Strat and play like a madman again...but I digress. I love my life. 2 great kids and a wonderful wife. Living the DJ life, marriage and family don't play well together.

"Our little lives get complicated..."
Love and Rockets - No New Tale To Tell
The past couple of weeks have been a blur, far from the simple life of a DJ. I got to travel by myself for a fantastic weekend with friends in Toronto. This is the first time I've travelled by myself since the kids were born that didn't have a business meeting on the other end. This trip was just beer, cards and a lot of laughter. Repeat after me - Saaawwwwwweeeeeeettttt!

The trip was an absolute blast. I hadn't needed a passport to travel since going to Germany in High School and <sarcasm>I had forgotten how much fun customs can be </sarcasm>. Here's the list of questions I was grilled with:
  • Why are you travelling to Canada. For leisure.
  • Did you bring more the $10,000 in cash? No (but really wanted to say - to a poker game, are you crazy? Kept lips tight on that one. 
  • Are you visiting anyone? Yes.
  • What is their names? Names of people I'm visiting. The short list, for god's sake I'm meeting up with like 20 other poker player/bloggers.
  • Where are you staying? The host's apartment building has guest suites. Rather nice ones I might add...never mind.
  • What's the address? Oh thank you Kat for emailing me this!
  • How are you getting there? Jeebus, The host's husband is picking me up...crap this is gonna lead to more damn questions about people I know but vaguely...I'm really hoping my creative writing skills are enough here...oh, and my ability to bluff like a pro.
  • What is his name? [name] - Here we go, this is one of my blogger friends non-poker playing, non-blogging husband...thank god I met him once.
  • What do you do for a living? Computer Programmer - I could have given him the long form of my actual job title - Senior Analyst/Programmer, but that just leads to more questions. By this time though, I'm struggling with every once of my being to not be a complete smart ass and just start making shit up...
  • What kind of car is Keith driving? Grey Mazda - Are you friggin' kidding me? I don't even know what kind of car my parents drive. I think my minivan is blue. So glad they told me ahead of time...and I thought they were nuts for telling me that.
  • What do your hosts do? School teacher and a (eyes shifting up and to the left - you do this when you are thinking creatively) sound engineer. I have no idea of EXACTLY what he does for a living. This is pretty close...whew.
  • How long are you staying? Would it be kosher to just give him the link to this blog? Seriously, I'm an open book...fine. 4 days.
  • Do you only have the one bag? No dumb ass, I rented out the entire plane for all the crap I'd need over the next 4 days. Single guys always bring extra crap...yes sir. The one bag.
  • Are you travelling with anyone else? For the love of Pete! No, I'm travelling by myself.
Have a nice trip, and welcome to Canada.

The rest of the weekend will be chronicled on my poker blog and my photo blog.

Missing two days of work is always fun, until you get back and realize you are now 2 days behind. I have one of those jobs that when I'm gone, my work goes "undone". No biggie, I planned for that. What I didn't plan for was the loss our family suffered. As I mentioned in my last post, my wife lost her step-grandfather. Death sucks. Explaining death and cancer to a 5 and 9 year old really sucks. Grandpa was still a pretty young guy. My strongest memory of the man was the fact that I never remember seeing him not smiling. The man had a perma-grin that just lit up the room. His son and my MIL divorced years ago, but never did he treat us like anything but his family. He still called my kids his great grand kids. I will miss him.

We are hoping that life finds a routine soon. Preparing for my trip and our loss have turned the last few weeks into a logistical challenge. We survived. The kids made it through. My blogs...well they've been starved for attention. As I mentioned the other day, I've lost 50 subscribers. It's a technical glitch that's now on day 3. Maybe they were never there. Maybe they were there and they did leave cause this blog stopped updating. Maybe I've lost my edge (huh?). I don't really know. It's weird. I do hope to get back to my usual groove. I haven't really felt funny lately, although I don't really know if I ever thought of this blog as a daily source of funny. It's the life and thoughts of a Midwest Geek. My life and thoughts are what they are.

I still have a few rant posts that need to see the light of day. "Sean Hannity is an Idiot" and "Parents Need to Grow up" are still on the stove. I need to write more. This felt good. Maybe I'll play a little Guitar Hero later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eek! Did I say something wrong?

Wow...since my last post, FeedBurner tells me I've lost 50 subscribers...Is there anyone still out there? I said I was taking a break for a funeral...yikes. Tough crowd :-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Blogging and life

I went on a wonderful trip this past weekend. I didn't have much access to the Internet which was nice (holy gouge the customer Batman - $.20/kb of data on my iPhone??? - good lord that's spendy), but I also didn't do much in terms of writing here either. Someone might have noticed. I took that trip to Toronto, just me and laughed, drank, laughed, drank some more, played cards, did a lot more laughing, played even more cards, drank, laughed and saw some sights. 


So much fun was had that the first night back, I went to bed at 8 pm. I rarely go to bed before midnight. Monday - 8pm. Slept until 7am. I haven't slept 11 hours straight since...I have no memories of that much sleep and being a dad. I don't know when the last time I slept 11 hours was. Tuesday night, we watched 24 and then fell asleep again very early.

It seems every time I go on a travel adventure, I come back and WHAM! Life and humanity hits me over the head. Apparently, I'm not 20 something any more.

This morning we did get some bad news. My wife's step-grandfather passed away. He's been sick with cancer, so in some ways, this is good news but you know what, it still friggin' hurts to lose a loved one. I love my wife and will be at her side as much as she needs me the next few days. Who knows, I might write something tonight...but consider this a heads up. OhCaptain is busy and misses you and blogging but blogging is not my life is.

I have posted a new photo for your enjoyment. I took it this weekend at Niagara Fall - the Canadian side. I'd love to hear what you think. Keep smiling!

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's Time - Eh!

  • Passport - Check
  • Luggage - Check
  • Accommodations - Check
  • A Pocket Full of Loonies - Check
  • Rides to & from airports - Check
  • Kids at Grandma's - Check
  • Grown Responsibilities Taken Care Of - Check
That's it. I'm out of here! It's Eh Vegas! Weekend and I'm going!

Sure, I get the big FAIL at finishing the Winter Gathering Recap prior to going to my next blogger gathering, but what's a guy to do.

I'm either going to post a lot in the next couple of days or I'm not. Since traveling south to Toronto apparently puts me into AT&T Canada, I have to disconnect my iPhone from the intertubes and spend long periods of time without bits of data to consume. Hell, I may not even be twittering much. But then again, I might just find unsecured Wi-Fi connections just sitting there open. Who knows?

The point is, I'm heading out to spend a weekend with friends. Throwing chips, take pictures, eating, drinking, throwing chips, laughing, drinking (did I say that again) and laughing some more.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shopping: 5 year old style

At the Coach store.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Who's ready for some excitement?

Didn't my post on Twitter inspire everyone to just comment like crazy? Wow! Comment you did, ok, that's kinda funny. I've just not been my bloggy self lately. We've go so much going on, OhCountess is getting so close to finishing her Master's degree. We can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel and I'm quite sure that isn't a train.

I'm also planning a private get-a-way this weekend. Other then a few business trips, this will be my first weekend away without the wife and kids since, ... I don't know that I've taken a trip by myself for pleasure since I got married.

Friday morning, I'm leaving for Toronto Canada to meet up with some poker bloggers for suds, poker and laughs. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am for this trip. By Thursday, I'm going to be completely worthless at work. Lord, I hope they don't need me for anything important Thursday afternoon.

This trip will test my ability to disconnect from the InterTubes. Toronto is apparently in a foreign country. The data rate for my cell phone is looking to be about $.02/kilobyte. Downloading something as small as a 1 megabyte picture would cost me ~$20. Um, no. I don't think so. The iPhone does wi-fi...I think I can look for hotspots no thank you very much.

I'm so excited that this weekend, I packed. Yes, I packed my suitcase on Sunday. I'm ready. Passport, camera, books clothes. They are all packed. Oh boi!!!!

Just to show you how exciting my life is, I spent the better part of Sunday cleaning my office, paying bills and doing our taxes. Livin' the life I tell you. Sorry, there are no pictures. You see, the camera is packed.

I do have a favor to ask, if it's not too much trouble. Since I'm basically gonna avoid the Interwebs for a few days, can everyone just please not post for a while? You know...spare a post for OhCaptain. Really. Thanks! (Just kidding, but if you can email the Cliff's Notes version of my Google Reader, I'd really appreciate it)

Saturday, I wrote about a challenge between two of my friends. The race...Sunday??? Remember??? The race occurred. So my money was no good. I really don't think I could ever bet against one of them, Mumblingsages but in a valiant effort but blew out his wheel in the end. TheBiggTree crossed the line first. Click their names. Both wrote up fantastic recaps of the event. I'm really quite proud of both of them. The raced their hearts out. Bravo gentleman!

I gotta get some sleep. Outside of what ever zzz's I get on the plane, my hunch is this weekend won't be about resting. Many pictures and stories to come!

In the mean time, I'd love to hear about how my Twitter piece helped. Anyone else been thinking politics lately? I have. Anyone watch John Stewart on the Daily show ripping into CNBC? Funny stuff. Anyone have a guest post they want to put here? 

Gotta run. It's nigh nigh time.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sharing the laughter

Two of my best friends decided to throw down the gauntlet and race each other in a 5k. The whole sordid affair is being hyped on their blogs. I just had to share this with everyone in the hopes that others may join in the hilarity.

For the introductions: [Pointing to the left] In this corner, weighing in at something, MumblingSages. He's driven, dedicated and a bit off his noodle.

[Pointing to the other corner] and in this corner, weighing something else, TheBiggTree. He's a stay at home Dad, real estate mogul with a desire to never lose - and we're not sure if the all the sandwiches are in the picnic basket.

Currently, I'm putting my money on the race not happening, but I'm starting to think it might really happen. The best money will be put on the fact that the stories will be great!

May the best geek win!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Getting the most out of Twitter

I've sifted, collated, alphabetized and arithmetically shifted to the right the hundreds thousands 5 comments I received on my last post when I asked for what people didn't get about Twitter. Ok, that last post wasn't even close to one of my best. Chalk it up to this late winter crud I'm selling, cheap. I've been feeling like something much worse then garbage but only slightly better then a zombie

Hashtags. I just looked up the definition on Wikipedia. You don't want to read it. It's really confusing. Actually it was so technical, it sucked. I think the best way to help you understand them is to tell you a little about why Twitter is much more then a web page. It's a communication platform in the same way as Instant Messengers are a service much more then a program.

A bit of clarification for you. The Internet is more then a bunch of web pages. There is a whole hidden side to this system that users just never see.  Just like you can use a fax machine over your phone lines, programmers can use tools that communicate in a way that is not visible in your web browser. Twitter has a whole menu of services that it offers to programmers to create a rich collection of tools to do Twittery stuff.

Let's be perfectly honest, the Twitter web page sucks. It's usually broken, it's pretty slow and it's quite ugly. Using a different program to access Twitter is the only way to go.

For me there are 3 main programs in my Twitterverse for reading and post my personal tweets: Twhirl, TweetDeck and Twitterrific. For pushing my blog posts to Twitter, I use a tool called TwtitterFeed. There are few other services I use, but they aren't as visible. Twitteraholic compares your stats with other users, sort of a vanity thing. (Like me, I'm the most prolific tweeter in my town...go figure!)

Why would you want to use these tools? Ease. Terri, you were wondering why or how you can be alerted to replies? These tools make that far easier then hitting the reply tab on the web site. Let's look at the pros and cons of each of my 3 favorite tools.

Pros: It's very easy to use. To spot your replies, you simply scroll looking for tweets that are brown instead of dark grey. This tool is WAY to convenient. I do a lot of my tweeting from here. I use this to tweet from the bus stop, on the bus, waiting in line, while shopping with the Mrs, traveling, you name I'll tweet during it. Well, maybe not anything. I like being married and like cell phones, should never be used while sitting on the throne.

It's got a built in tool for posting pictures to TwitPic and posting the tweet associated with it. Extremely handy.

Cons: The version I use runs on the iPhone. You don't have one? There's a for money version for the Mac. I don't have a Mac, so I've never used it. Other cons are its limited in it's history. I will only go back so far.

Overall: This is your Twitter connection on the road and away from the computer. I love this tool. It's one of the most used apps on my iPhone. I'd feel lost without it.

These next two tools are a toss in some ways to me. There are definite pros and cons against each one. The truth is, I use both and haven't really settled on either.
Pros: This is by far the most popular Twitter client available. It's also free as in beer and offers the most functionality. If you click the picture to see the bigger version, you will see that you know have an entire treasure chest of Twitter tools.

What makes TweetDeck so cool is you get all these columns. I usually choose to display my stream (what you see on the web page), my replies and my direct messages, but you could choose to create a custom column that displays your selected group. You chose only those Tweeters you want to see special. Pretty handy. You can also create a column based on a filter, such as a hash tag (#hashtag). During #snowmageddon, this was really handy. This tool is also integrated with TwitPic for quick uploading of pictures.

Another feature I really like about this is the ability to quickly retweet something. Hovering over a users picture gives that option with one click. It also has a built in tool for handy URL shrinking.

Cons: My biggest con for this tool is it's a memory hog. This thing sucks up RAM like sailors on the seaside bar in Manila. When I'm sitting here editing photos, my computer just can't keep up with this and Adobe at the same time.

Pros: Extremely light weight. It's quick and fast and can be set to sit transparently on your desktop. It gives you a nice linear view just like the web, but it does highlight the replies and direct messages as a different color.

It's very easy to use. It shortens long URL's for you automagically.

It also makes for very quick and convenient retweeting.

Cons: Not even close to as many features as TweetDeck. It's does it's job as a twitter client in a nice small package, but feature for feature, it's just not there.

So what does this have to do with hashtags? One thing the web page really doesn't tell you about is search. There is a web site at does some pretty cool stuff. 

You use hash tags to identify your tweet is carrying on a certain topic or conversation. During the TV show '24', people will tweet about the show and add the tag '#24' to mark their tweets so other can see them in search. 

These tools also highlight hash tags as clickable items. When you are in TweetDeck and want to know what's going on with a hashtag, click it, and it will take you to Twitter Search. BOOM! All the recent tweets using that tag. Very cool.

I've noticed that there are new tools out there popping up all the time that use hash tags for different reasons. One of the most interesting was TweetChat. It uses these hash tags to create virtual chat rooms. When you are on that page, you can create a tag and then when anyone uses that tag, it magically pops in the page.

The biggest advantage to TweetDeck is building your own searches on the tags and then keeping all your tweets together. Cool stuff.

So, hopefully this helps answer your questions about hash tags and Twitter. If I didn't quite do it, let me know. Any other questions about twitter?

While writing some stuff...let's take a break to laugh

I'm probably gonna have 2 posts a day for while. I've actually been writing a lot lately but what I'm writing I'm actually proofreading and researching...go figure.

I'm actually surprise Gadzooks hasn't posted this one yet, but the boys over at produced yet another hysterical video.

Back in the day, I used to love a good practical joke. This is perfection.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Tweeting about Twitter: the late winter stuffy edition

I am what you'd call a 'user' of Twitter, but just so we are all on the same page, I use it a lot. I like Twitter. For some reason, at this point in my life, I love exploring the world of social media. I have a account (almost never us it). I was a member of the cre8buzz universe, which is now defunct, and I'm thrilled that there is a facebook app for my iPhone.

Twitter is fun. Twitter is more then a website but a service for communicating in a public way. Each message is 140 character long at most and called a tweet. I didn't invent the name, I'm just telling you what it is.

Earlier this week, the upper Midwest suffered through the single greatest snow storm of all time a snow storm that all the news outlets in this area had promoted like the opening of Al Capone's vault. We truly were lead to believe that this was the beginning of the end. 

I won't deny that I had a blast with this one. Two of the local weather people have Twitter accounts and I had gone so far as to declare that the more they promote a storm, the more likely it is to just fizzle. This storm was a colossal fizzzz.

During the storm, there were many of us writing grand sounding tweets of the mildly interesting storm descending on our areas. To identify the tweets, people were using the hash tag #snowmageddon.

There it is! The basis of all the trouble. People were asking me in several messages just what the heck the '#' was doing in the tweets. Well, they are called 'hash tags' and are used to identify messages with a common theme. There are many secondary services that use these to do all kinds of interesting things. The easiest one to start with is Twitter search.

My head is throbbing and I am not sure where this is going. I'm asking you, my reader(s), for a little help. I'm coming down with a nasty cold and have been trying to figure what people would really like to learn about Twitter. I hate colds. So, what do you want to know about? It's comment time...light it up!

I'll be over here, hitting up the medicine cabinet and wondering how cool it would to go through life not allergic to oranges. *sigh.