Yeah, so this is the first time in a while that I’ve done any work on the website at all while actually seated at my desk and clocked in at work. Man, been since Res Life, I tell ya.

You may have noticed on the first page this thing about “,” which, if you go ahead and type that URL into your browser, you’ll see it’ll direct you to this same website. For those of you who freak out when there’s a change in Internet status for a friend or relative (Schneider), rest assured, all your old links still work, and my email address is still the same. Basically, I just wanted to register a new domain so when I tell new folks where the site is, I don’t have to explain which key is for the tildae, or however the hell you spell that.

Where did the name “top-V” come from? Well, clearly this site has now been declared the Roman edition of “Top Five dot net,” because I was thinking about how often I share an on-the-fly top five list with people in conversation. I’m not sure if my propensity to make the lists makes it less enjoyable or more enjoyable to talk to me, but, as you would’ve seen on the top page with the holiday greetings, I’m not caring too much about that because I know it’s just not too significant.

Anyway, was taken, and so was .net, and so were and net, as well as top5, top-5, and so were all the .org’s. At that point, I thought about picking a different number, and wouldn’t you know it? All the permutations of “top ten” were gone as well. The URL search engine @ Server Central suggested I go with something like “greatestfive,” which is completely available, but what the computer didn’t realize was that “greatestfive” is available for a reason. Thought about going with some other numbers as well, and for whatever reason, I picked “”

I was *this* close to registering that one when my roommate Dave walked in and suggested that I try top-“romannumeralfive,” but of course, spelling out “romannumeral” is ridiculous, and I said to Dave, “What if I just use the Roman numeral itself?”
“A smashing idea,” he replied.

And that’s all. There it is. Top Five dot net, the Roman edition.

In other news, I sat at the desk here for some time this evening, doing jack squat, so I tried my hand at playing “Othello,” everyone’s favorite race-relations game, on my PDA. Results were as follows:
Game 1: Computer, 57-7
Game 2: Computer, 61-3
Game 3: Computer, 64-0
Game 4: Computer, 61-3
Game 5: Computer: 61-3

Those were my top five scores. After I finished five games, I realized that I had no idea how to play this game.

Well, time to knock off for the day. Have a Merry Christmas, talk to you again soon.

Once In a Lifetime

A young man drives to work on the day before Christmas, Talking Heads on the radio. He reflects for a moment on the past year as David Byrne screeches out the lyrics, “And you may ask yourself: Well, how did I get here?”

He thinks back to December 24 the year before, and then the year before, and then he thinks of the year before that. He keeps turning back the pages of his memory and recalls tiny glimpses of the holidays now passed. Often, the images in his mind’s eye last only a second, or even less, but immeasurable meaning can be found in each one.
A moment of his mother, baking cookies for the family.
A few short frames of his sister, stringing 700 lights on an eight-foot tree.
The sound of his father, ringing bells and shouting “Merry Christmas!” playing Santa Claus.
There are a million more moments just like these, and in his memory, they tie themselves together in a mosaic of joy and thankfulness that wraps around the shoulders of the holiday season.

David Byrne suggests, “You may ask yourself: Am I right, am I wrong? You may say to yourself: my God, what have I done?”

The young man rolls down the highway and spontaneously wells with tears. He asks himself where the person he was in those images has gone. In spite of all the things that have happened to him, or in spite of the things that haven’t, has the quality of his life truly changed? With the exception of just a few, all those people that cared about him are with him still, and no matter where he is or where he’s been, the tapestry of his life is woven together the same.

His thoughts turn to the coming end of the year, and ironically, the track on the radio shifts to Counting Crows and “A Long December.” He contemplates the significance of one year among so many, one chain of events amid the innumerable links of life. He decides to try in the coming new year to realize how beautiful each moment is, what blessing each breathe come with, and how the sum total of a man’s life weighs much heavier in the cosmic scheme than any other moment or set of moments he could consider.

He pulls into the parking lot, turns off the car, and takes a moment to thank God for this day and this realization. When all the chips finally fall, he decides, he will find comfort in the warmth of his life’s wonderful memories.

God bless you and yours this holiday season.


Today is the 100th anniversary of flight. Check out the news sidebars and articles and whatnot where appropriate.

It also seems to me that the 17th is some sort of significant day for a reason that escapes me, so if you know what’s special about it (sorry if it’s like, your birthday), let me know.

Meanwhile, I’ve just decided that I’m going to start going to sleep immediately after I get home from work at 11pm. If I stay up for a couple hours, I just sleep too late, and don’t have sufficient time to get anything substantial done with my morning hours.

I am also still getting old.

Dave says he loves the Internet, I hate it. On his day off today, he sat in his room and Googled himself.

Maybe I’ll shoot a video with the rest of my morning. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. PS—still no Movie Quote guesses. Stumped ya, did I?


It’s Packer Sunday and I’m sitting here drinking coffee and not beer. Bizarre.

Started my real, actual work schedule today, so I’m working 1:30-10:30, and that means I’ll have to catch a bit of the game when I can. By the time I’m on lunch, it’ll be over, but I figure it’s reasonable that most of WI will be watching the game, so call volume should be low.

OH: any FYI, if you’re a cable customer and the game didn’t start exactly on time (they finished the early one first, for example), there’s not a damn thing the cable company can do about it. The cable company is in charge of being sure you can *get* the channel. What’s *on* the channel ain’t up to them. Moreover, if you miss the first three minutes of one bloody football game, get a life and deal with it.

The weekend wasn’t bad otherwise, although I certainly was. It *had* been my plan to make a run down to Waukesha to drop off Jen’s CD’s, then high-tail it back to the Fox Valley to catch the 13 Walls gig in Fond du Lac. When I got down there, though, I decided to make a stop at Jared’s Christmas beer exchange, and the demon liquor insisted that I stay in the metro Milwaukee area overnight. It was OK, though, cuz I was still up (or Joe was, anyway) at quarter-to-five Sunday morning when the news came across about Saddam. That’s all good, if you ask me (the apprehension of Hussein, that is). In the long run, I think it’ll be good for adding a *little* more stability to the Mid-East?, although around midday, Dave noticed something weird on the news when all these Iraqis in Baghdad were waving their homemade U.S.S.R. flags. We had a brief discussion of how a communist Muslim state in control of the world’s second largest oil supply might not be exactly what the President & Co. had in mind here. Ah, well, it’s probably nothing anyway. Although… we all remember who was forced out of power in Russia right before the commies took over, so…

K, I’m back on the job.

New & Exciting

OK, so I don’t really know how great this job is at the cable company, but I can say this much: it definitely isn’t as lame as it was during the excessively long and ridiculous training. Still, it’s customer service, which, yeah, I dunno I think you can burn out on pretty fast. But I’ll tell ya what: I’m tired of thinking/talking about it. I had one of those horrendous “at work” dreams last night, and that really bummed me out. Your subconscious should be one place you can escape the crap you do for money. Last thing about work, I promise: I jotted down in my notebook on Tuesday that the “training” staff was walking around on the call floor there offering their assistance with the new software. They seemed to be having a good time, seeing as none of the potential problems are really theirs. Made me wish I had a real job.

Like I said, tired of talking about it, so what else have I got? I went out last night to the New Moon Coffeehouse on Main St in Oshkosh last night to meet up with some English students, and there was an unanticipated 2-person poetry “open mic” going on, so it was pretty funny: I got there last, and as I walked in, all that I and the others could do was acknowledge each other with arm-lowered, half-grimacing waves, then in between poems, offer quick little inquires about “how things were going.” It was a fun time, though; it was like being with geeks, except about books and plays and grammar and stuff. Y’know, I think everyone is a geek in a certain way. Everybody, I’d say, has the thing that they’re a “geek” about; y’know, something that they get all wound up about that other people just don’t understand. Some people are more hard-core than others, but… basically the same thing no matter what. Maybe there’s a video in there someplace, I’m not sure.

This weekend? Well, there’s the Oshkosh fall commencement, in which I know one person participating, but I’m not going. Tomorrow, I think Christy is going to come over for a spell. I think she wants me to hang onto her desk or something until she comes up with a way to get it to Stout. Don’t ask me how that’s gonna happen. Does Vann have a truck or something?

Oh, PS: everyone I know that owns a truck, please let me know and then let me borrow it, cuz I reeeeally wanna get my desk out of Joe & Jen’s garage (and I think they do, too!). And that reminds me, I’m going down there to take Jen’s CD’s back.

I haven’t slept but 4 or 5 hours a night all week, so I’m dead tired, and you might’ve noticed I’m rambling about nothing. Bed time.

OH: one last thing? Would someone please guess at the movie quote of day? Or don’t, makes it easy on me.


Yeah, I wish I could be tidier around the house. This is the problem: I had that… well… whole year, basically, where I didn’t work and just had hours and hours around the house at a time. Well, two facts I can relate to you on that: You can only watch so much TV, and you can only do so much homework.

I thought, for a brief time, that I may have developed a small obsessive-compulsive problem in terms of cleaning the house, but on further consideration, it might just be that that disorder is in vogue.

Then I was thinkin about it a little harder, and I was realizing that I’ve been grasping (desperately it seems) for a psychological or emotional disorder I could hang my hat on, and the only reason I can think of that I’d want to do that is so I could NOT take any drugs to treat it on purpose, and then commit full-out to succeeding in spite of my “problem.”

Motivation, of late, has been low.

The first real day at work was today, I actually talked to real people on the phone about their cable, although I had no idea what I was actually saying to them. My lips moved, words came out, I can only guess if I was doing anything correctly.

Well hey: look at this, my room IS getting a little tidier; no more laundry all over the floor. I’ll send you moving pictures soon.

Don’t forget to eat all that leftover turkey by the end of the week. It’s gonna be rancid, like, in a hurry.

PS—Now, the page with the offline blogging shorts (see below) is actually here. Cheers.


Here are the Top Five Things I Should Be Doing Instead of Writing This Here ‘Blog:
5. laundry
4. reading The Elegant Universe
3. cleaning my room for a video
2. reading Crop Dusting
1. writing Timepiece

I’m doing none of these, though; I’m here just for you, because I know that you’ve been neglected. How was your Thanksgiving, provided you don’t live in Green Bay or the surrounding Wisconsin area?

In case you were wondering (which you probably weren’t, as this is the first time I’m sharing this information with anyone), I *have* indeed been keeping bloggable notes since the last update on 19 October. Unfortunately, the following things prevented me from actually posting any of them (appearing in no particular order):
drowsiness/screwy sleep patterns (following the overnight shifts at the Target)
Internet access (as in, none @ the job training at the Charter)
moving (business surrounding the packing/unpacking/settling)
hunting (the preparations and subsequent execution of such activity, up to and including the execution of one female deer)
Madden 2004 (the roommate’s acquisition, followed by the incessant playing during all free-time periods for roughly 10 days)

These are, more or less, the same things that have prevented me from accomplishing the tasks on the Top Five List.

But I digress. My point with regard to the bloggable comments I’ve been tracking is that, rather than dump a large entry with outdated material in this space, please follow the link to a page under the ‘Writings’ section labeled “Offline Musings, Frustrations, Complaints, Comments, and Diatribes.” For your convenience, this document follows the opposite pattern of the ‘blog, insofar as its dates are arranged in ascending order.

But this is not what I came here to talk about this evening; I came to discuss personal growth (a topic that has seen repeated, extensive coverage in this space: see also entries dated 9/9/03, 4/24/03, 10/24/02, etc), having had yet another shower-epiphany on Thursday morning.

But before we get to that, allow me to dispense with what is now officially a “holiday tradition” (having been practiced in consecutive years), wishing you and yours a pleasant holiday season, from Steve and I to you:

Thank you for your continued attention and stalwart patience. At this time, we shall commence with the growth. But first, allow me to offer a disclaimer with regard to that which follows: if you have tired of the introspective, internal dialogues which seem to so plague the many pages of this webspace, please carry on with your holiday shopping schedule, and return again in a few days the site’s content is likely to be more light-hearted, and less wordy (that’s “wordy,” as in, “lots of words,” and not “Wordy,” as in this chap).

Where to begin? I’ve got this new job. Been there about five weeks now. If you remember me lamenting a period of employment that I had at an insurance company in Pewaukee, this job is the same, more or less. Only difference is I’m talkin’ cable instead of talkin’ motorcycles. This really doesn’t have a lot to do with the growth, but it’s a place to start.

Please don’t assume that because I’m exploring other employment options closer to home (I live in Oshkosh, the job is in Fond du Lac) that I’ve definitely decided to leave the cable joint. Also, please don’t assume that I’m crazy and not thinking about the consequences of my actions. Yes, this is a full time job, and yes, I need some insurance, and yes, I really do understand that, but: there is the “job” that’s more important to me on the horizon, namely, the graduate school. For those of you in/finished with graduate school, I think you’d agree that my academics would certainly suffer if I were working 40 hours per week while taking 9 credits (3 classes) and commuting an hour-plus per day. To that end, I’ll most definitely fall back to part time at the most, whereupon I will lose the benefits anyway, so you can see how I’ve reasoned that finding a part time job at the university would be just as good as the cable company.

This is all really just an introduction to the first point I’d like to make, which is that I’ve interviewed for more jobs that I can remember since I graduated from UWO in December 2001. I have at least one more next week. I don’t know if you’ve been on any interviews lately, but the way that it goes these days (and for all I know, it’s always been this way) is you talk to a “human resources” employee, whether the “director” of HR or someone further down the chain (most likely the latter, since the whole point of becoming the “director” of any “department” is to have the flexibility to drive your kids to soccer at any time of the day or night) and that person asks you a number of questions that are intended to expose your convictions, values, opinions, and perspectives on a variety of topics, often (obviously) closely related to the job for which you’ve applied.

I’ve mentioned to some people fairly often in the last two years that I am terrible at interviewing, and it’s not for a lack of skill or understanding with regard to the interview process itself, it is more (I decided Thursday morning in the shower) that I didn’t have the aforementioned qualities to be probed (the convictions, values, opinions, perspectives).

What I was thinking of as this epiphany struck was that in nearly every interview that I can recall (up until the VERY recent past), if I were asked, “what would you do if X happened?” my response would be drawn out, circuitous, and little more than an attempted dodge of the question, because all I was really thinking was, “What would you like me to do if X happened?” You see, I was thinking that I’m a very agreeable, flexible fellow in a general sense, and maybe that doesn’t have a damned thing to do with strength of character or good social adjustment. Maybe it has a lot more to do with me not having formed any opinions on these things people are asking me about.

If that makes any sense.

Well I continued to think about this, and I tried to figure out why the hell I wouldn’t have these “qualities,” and at the time I decided that it could have something to do with my unceasing desire to have friends and family members with unblemished positive opinions of me personally. Whether or not you (assuming you are one of these people) have noticed, I can tell you now that I’ve gone to great lengths over the years to do what I can to help you, to be there when I can, to be the best friend/brother/son/cousin/nephew/etc that I can be. At those times when I have perceived myself to fail in that quest, rest assured that I took it extremely hard, even if the “failure” wasn’t that significant or the “task” at hand was unimportant.

You may not have noticed, but I am fiercely caring and loyal once I bestow these things on you. (Aside to my Oshkosh comrades: this is why the conclusion of the Jill Pape Saga, which I mention only for the sake of example, bothered me so much.)

What does this have to do with interviewing for a job?

Ultimately, I drew this quality back to a more fundamental personality trait: I must please everyone. You all have to like me. You can see where this would make constructing your own convictions/opinions/values difficult, since one of the easiest ways to draw ourselves closer to others is via these important qualities. So in a job interview, of course you want the person interviewing you to like you, because if they like you, there’s a better chance you’ll land the job, and, well, they should like people who share their opinions and believe similar things, right? So, if I could just ask all the questions first in a job interview, maybe I’d end up in better shape?

The vast majority of the people reading this have been around me long enough to know that at the time I finished my bachelor’s degree, I was dead-set on leaving Wisconsin to attend graduate school. In retrospect, it would’ve made a lot more fiscal sense (IE, I would be down several thousand dollars less) to stay in Oshkosh and get started on that Master’s degree here right away. Again, I’ve touched on this a bit in the past, and I don’t regret the decision that I made to go to Bozeman at all, it was a spectacular thing to do, and actually related a bit more to this amorphous “growth” that I mentioned at the outset.

But why did I so desperately want to go? What was my motivation and what did I want to find? Was I seeking escape? From what? Did I think I’d “find myself”? I can’t really say, although, for the sake of personal understanding, I take up these questions and ponder them time to time. What I’m thinking at this point is that every geographical-self-finding adventure you’ve heard of is little more than expensive window dressing for a voyage one needs to take within himself.

I can’t say what the experience is like for you, because I’ve only ever been myself, but sometimes I wonder if the majority balance of the world isn’t numb to these considerations. If not, why doesn’t an average person talk about them? I suppose they would be justified in keeping the log of the inner journey hidden inside, since the individual is the lone crew member on the ship that sails to Self. Where, though, is the evidence of this journey’s completion? How does it manifest itself in our daily lives?

I spent a lot of time alone in Montana, by choice more than anything else, and I can say with confidence (actual confidence) that I probably wouldn’t have had this epiphany if I’d never gone. The thing that this shower-realization comes with, though, is acceptance of the fact that a year spent away was only the start of a journey that is ongoing. I think realizing how much I value all of you and how little I have (historically) valued myself is a major turning point. What I am has been constructed by everything outside me, and being mindful of that is important. The next question, I think, is whether I can come to terms with that fact, or whether I should oppose it, struggling for some identity that I mask within myself.

Where to end? Not here, but this is growth.