January 30, 2008

My name is JOSEPH HOUK. I am a longtime computer user who was "assimilated" by the dark side (translation: I stopped using my iBook and started using a Compaq Presario about eight years ago now, and have been using a Gateway since November 2003). However, I'm still attached to the "Jobsian Universe" with my iBook G4. I have not as of yet gone out and purchased X.5 Leopard, however - mostly because my iBook's HD is pretty darn small.

I live in wonderful Waukesha County, Wisconsin. The "signature" you (may or may not) see on the main "index.html" file is really my signature (Don't try to copy it, though - that was how I signed it about ten years ago...). If you're really wondering what I look like, check out this picture.

Now, if you've seen photos of me in the past, you'll notice something right away: I've lost weight. A LOT of weight. And you are right: I dropped down from about 250-260 pounds (114-118 kg) to my current weight range of 165 lbs (75 kg). I did this the old-fashioned way: watching what I eat, reducing portion sizes and exercising. It's not easy, but given that I was heading for Type II Diabetes, it wasn't a difficult choice.

Anyways, my loves in life are my wife, Sarah (have to say that, of course ;-), my kitten Brooke, doing interesting things with my computer, the Green Bay Packers, Nashville Predators NHL hockey, Milwaukee Admirals AHL hockey and a whole bunch of other things that I'll get to later.

First things first - I've been on line since August of 1994. That means that at the time I write this, I've been doin' this Internet thing for over 13 and a half years. Amazing what a little AOL and the world's largest BBS can do for ya...

As for the rest of my interests: I am an acknowledged fan of Amy Grant. Have been since high school. I was about as shocked as anyone (though I knew it could be coming) when word of her divorce from Gary Chapman came down; I was even happier that she found a kindred soul in Vince Gill. I wish her nothing but the best of times in her new life. I have a separate webpage devoted to her here.

Now, I've mentioned over on my My Space page (yes, I have one of those) that she was, for the longest time, one person I'd like to meet. I did eventually meet her back in October of 2005 - but I'll let you read the bio at MySpace to figure out how.

My musical tastes aren't limited to Ms. Grant, however. I am very particular to the Beatles and a few other acts, basically depending on my mood. However, put on "Revolution" by the Beatles, and my mood goes skyrocketing immediately (and the likelihood of my speakers being blown out increases exponentially...). Unfortunately, the tape player in my old truck ate my copy of The Beatles' Rock and Roll Music Part Two compilation tape - which ends with "Revolution". I went out and bought The Beatles 1967-1970 to make up for it, but it's not the same. Of course, I have The Beatles One and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band on CD.

Speaking of vehicles: I got rid of the old Dodge Dakota back in 2003 - partially because of gas-mileage issues, and partially because the tranny was slipping routinely as I was going from second to third gear. This led to me getting my favorite car of all time, a Chrysler PT Cruiser. (Okay, second favorite - my dream car is a '68 Javelin AMX. However, I'm not likely to be owning one anytime soon, so this one is a close second.) I can't complain too much about my PT (knock knock), save the issues I have with the seats. The seats are pretty crappy for a car aimed at a young crowd - though my father insisted he saw nothing but old ladies driving them around the first few years I had the car.

My current musical listening habits are a bit eclectic: Shania Twain, Avril Lavigne, Evanesence, Vanessa Carlton, Natasha Bedingfield, Feist, The Wreckers, Jimmy Eat World. I do get into just about anything from Rush to Tim McGraw. There are some limits, though. If it puts me to sleep, forget it.

The first step in my return to the Mac world was the purchase of my iPod 15GB. The thrill of not only being able to purchase music online and being able to listen to it on the go, but to have a 15 GB hard drive to use as a backup was fantastic. Of course, my old iBook only had a 6 GB hard drive, which was slightly embarassing. One of many reasons why I got the G4. Interestingly, I keep the iPod formatted for Windows for easier transferability.

As a native of the state of Wisconsin, I am, of course, a born-and-bred Packer fan. I waited until after the 1996-97 season to go nuts with Packer stuff since, as a friend of mine has noted, I seem to have a "dung-heap" touch (teams that I root for tend to choke in the clutch). But alas, Desmond Howard, Brett Farve and "The Minister", Reggie White, managed to bring Coach Lombardi's Trophy home where it belongs. And I, for one, could not have been happier. As a proverbial "cheesehead" (I finally broke down and bought one in the fall of 2002), I am always hopeful as the new season springs forth. And, as long as that guy from Kiln, Mississippi is still throwing the ball, we'll always have a shot at winning Lombardi's Trophy. Except, of course, when he has this penchant for throwing the ball at players on the other team... I have coined a term for this: "getting Favre'd." It's very simple: when you have Brett Favre as your QB - either with the Pack or as a fantasy QB - you never know if you'll get the four-time MVP or the guy whose first pass was to himself.

Once upon a time, I was a huge Milwaukee Admirals fan, and an avid supporter of the International Hockey League - to the point that I wrote a FAQ for people who were new to the league about the history and background of the teams. Unfortunately, that was back when there was an IHL. I celebrate the (now fading) memory of the league with a memorial website. I am still an Admirals season ticket holder, of course. As a member of the "small but ridiculously loyal" fan base of the team, it was a great pleasure for me to place a huge, wet, sloppy kiss on the Calder Cup in June of 2004.

I am a very die-hard fan of the Nashville Predators. Gnash, the team's furry mascot, sits (in three different incarnations) atop my computer, watching over me and keeping me company on my forays onto the info superhighway. I avidly follow several players, including Karlis Skrastins. Once upon a time, I was a Blackhawks fan, but they traded away the reason why I followed them. One of my most treasured moments in hockey was meeting Chris Chelios on the streets of Nashville before a game between the Preds and Dead Things. (Okay, I don't like Detroy-it. Who does?) I also still have the puck I bought at Chelli's Chili on Madison in Chicago, with his autograph. I do believe he should have gracefully retired years ago, but hey - if you can keep it up (and your HGH supplier doesn't get caught in a federal probe)... (Scratch that last part - I don't want to get sued.)

I'm a former member of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), which I quit when I became discouraged by the Lords of Baseball. I, along with my buddy Eriks Teranis, became greatly discouraged over the game (he, though, took it harder than I did). I recovered completely when my then-favorite team, the Florida Marlins, won the 1997 World Series.

Now, before anyone starts calling me a bandwagon fan, let me set the record straight - I went out and purchased two separate t-shirts in 1992 and even grabbed an early logo-only cap of a certain South Florida team when the franchise was first announced. I have a first-year home cap and jersey (with my name and number, OO, on it), and hanging on my wall as I write this is a certificate signed by Wayne Huizenga and the late Carl Barger that I am an original Florida Marlins fan. I was torn in the NLCS as to who I wanted to see win - for about three seconds. When Edgar Renteria's game winning hit went screaming up the middle and a hobbled Bobby Bonilla scampered across the plate, I jumped about three feet into the air. I will tell you, however - the dismantling of the Fish was a sorry sight.

In 1998, a schism formed in my family. All of my step-mother's family are big-time Cub fans. I, however, have always been a Brewer fan. Something had to give. As I am surrounded with things like an old ball-in-glove logo pillow, two bricks from County Stadium, the four Racing Sausages as mini-beans, a bobble head of Ben Sheets, Bob Uecker and Paul Molitor (the road blues, too), among other things - well, I guess you know which way I fell. In October of 2003, I was sorely tempted to wear my Florida Marlins cap on a trip with my dad - a Die-Hard Cub Fan - out to Arizona, but I didn't.

Over the summer of 2002, I was witness to the strangest major sporting event in modern history. I had the privilege, back in April of that year, of being granted the "right" to purchase a single strip of tickets to the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star Week, including the All-Star Game itself. I revelled in the various activities I got to see - the Fan Fest, the Futures game, the Home Run Derby.

And then came the All-Star Game.

I'm still waiting for the 12th inning to begin.

I had a whole bunch of emotions about the game, and how it seemed just a complete microcosm of everything that is good and bad about the game of baseball. A brand new stadium (which had so many roadblocks, speed bumps and detractions that it's almost surprising only three people died making it), mega-bucks athletes and sports people, the Most Powerful Union on the Face of the Earth hovering overhead and threatening strike, and a completely inept League Executive Board that was looking out for their "investments." Neither, of course, caring about the fan in the stands who paid beau-coup bucks and ends up walking out with a sense that they were robbed. However, they managed to avoid taking things to the brink, which resulted in a rather interesting World Series.

It's been an interesting time to be a baseball fan in Milwaukee in recent years, with the coming of Fielder, Weeks, Hardy, Braun and Hart - and guys like Parra in the pipeline. With any luck, maybe 2008 will be the year the Brewers finally return to the post-season. Of course, as a True-Blue Brew Crew fan, I know better than to think it'll actually happen.

Lastly: I don't get into NASCAR racing like I used to. Once upon a time, I was the king of the Jeffyweffy(tm) Gordon haters. Nowadays, I just want to see somebody in a Mopar car win. Anyways, I have my own little page on NASCAR, including a tribute to the late, great Alan Kulwicki. It's not very up to date (as is my whole experience with NASCAR), so stop on by my NASCAR page for a look.

Anyways, I am a Wisconsin state employee and a Union member who is mostly moderate to conservative in his viewpoints - though the recent actions of my so-called "bosses" in Madison are starting to turn me squarely towards the liberal in economic issues.

Other tidbits:

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If you've taken the time to read this, Thank you, and e-mail me to let me know your views on life! Because I get enough Spam from my sister who works for Hormel, please replace the (at) with the @ sign, the GEE with a "g", and put "BIOGRAPHY" in the subject line.

I've completely and totally lost count of how many people have visited this site. It's been up that long.

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