Gorram Idiots!

(Note: I haven't seen Serenity yet. I'm hoping to see it this weekend. If you have the chance, go see the movie, and watch the series. It is brilliant.)

The following is from the Wired.com review of Serenity:

Serenity's verbal fireworks help compensate for its clumsy special effects. The chases, explosions and battles are choppy and confusing and look a bit cheap. Using Hollywood's warped abacus, it's pretty clear that $45 million -- Serenity's reported budget -- isn't enough money to create blockbuster visuals.

Up until this point I had thought the review was pretty good, but it's obvious that someone at Wired has been watching too much Star Wars/Trek and not paying attention.

As outlined in the Here's How it Was: The making of Firefly, the creators intentionally employ a series of zooms, focus changes, and visual blurs to create a more chaotic, 'rustic' look at space travel and combat. They used visual tricks that very few people in the industry still use to turn back the clock and create a retro-space opera that defies the current standard in a way that, while quirky, worked well for the series once you adjusted to it.

They did not do it that way because they didn't have enough cash, they hit the exact mark they were going for in the series. I expect that they hit that same mark here, and Mr. High-and-Mighty Reviewer is just too accustomed to long, clean, clinical shots of space ships to know that he's looking at something valuable and unique.

Friday, September 30, 2005

A Symbiotic (Public Relations)hip.

Check out this fascinating article about Ron Jeremy and Micheal Leahy debating at LSU.

I've heard a lot about Ron Jeremy over the years. I even saw the documentary about him that came out a few years back.

He seems like a nice guy, and an honest one. I've always admired honesty--especially in contexts where it is especially rare. The quotes and excerpt from the debate are quite funny.

It's the end of the article that I really found interesting though.

[Leahy] described his friendship with Jeremy that developed after the pair began touring American Universities a year ago. They talk on the phone, hang out in Jacuzzis and share their personal struggles.

These two men couldn't come from further ends of the spectrum. One is a porn star with over 900 films on his record, and the other is a born again, 8 year virgin and ex-pornography addict. Heck, back in his addicted days there is a high likelyhood that Leahy probably watched Ron in action.

And now these two men tour universities presenting a reasonable, polite discourse on both sides of the pornography debate in a healthy, academically respected setting. With a little humour and scandal thrown in for laughs.

I think that is a very encouraging sign for our future as a society.

And no, you pervs don't get a picture. Shoo.

My Ideal Notebook

For many years I have thought about how convenient it would be to have a laptop.

However, I've never really been in a position to either afford one, or need one desperately enough to justify the cost.

Moreover, the design was never quite right. you know how it is. There's always one blindingly obvious feature missing, or somethign you know you'll want to do with your device that won't be possible.

When Microsoft introduced the Tablet PC to widespread use back in 2002, I was excited. It seemed like laptops were finally turning into what I really needed: a notebook. A computer that could go anywhere, and be a computer when I needed it (ie: full keyboard) and a digital notebook (flexbility of shape and size, ability to take notes and sketch concepts) the rest of the time.

However, the tablets never quite provided everything I was searching for. The flexible necks of the hybrids made me nervous and the keyboardless slates seemed limited for me since I write slow and type fast. Now a professor at MIT has suggested something new.

The hardware and software specs here are strictly low-end. A 500mhz processor, flash-only memory and Linux. But the concept and the style of the device are what intrigue me more than the computing ability.

If I travel with a laptop, I need it to be flexible, lightweight, small, and good at recording text, sketches, and images. I don't need 3D rendering or awesome sound. This feature set is almost perfect. Sure, I wouldn't mind being able to watch full-screen video because it looks like this would make a perfect in-flight DVD player, but I can do without that if I must.

As my regular readers know, this spring I took a 46 day vacation across Europe with just a backpack for luggage. This is the first design for a notebook I've ever seen that I would really consider traveling with under those sorts of conditions.

So knowing that this sort of device could be on the market within the next two years is a seriously bright point in my day.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

She's got a silk dress. . .

I've been thinking about this playboy motif I've been building for myself lately.

I kinda like it.

I built my current mentality out of a sort of post-breakup bitterness that mutated into something far more pervasive.

I hinted at that bitterness a few times in the past but haven't ever really outlined it clearly. I've thought about writing a full post but now that I'm 'over' the development phase of it the whole concept seems somewhat blasé.

A good summary would be that after things went south with EKG last year, I developed a theory that women treat men badly, and train men through a system of punishments and rewards (mainly sexual and emotional) to treat them badly in turn. I don't know that this is always intentional but it is obvious and distasteful to me.

Men on the other hand are too foolish or non-self-aware to recognize the cycle or break it, and so instead simply learn to move to the rules so that they get what they desire.

Or perhaps as a gender we simply don't resent it enough to want to change it. It is really a moot point.

. . .and healthy breasts that bounce. . .

But now this mentality of mine, spawned from bitterness, has evolved into something new. I have been rewarded with a nearly incredible freedom and flexibility in my relationships by simply denying this cycle at all levels any time I recognize it.

My denial of the cycle simply shuts down the effect and keeps me sane, pleasant and cheerful. The women I interact with find me elusive and at times insensitive but I doubt many of them would call me boorish. I am direct and open about my dishonesty and the fact that my life is a closed book with chapters ripped out. Over time most of them seem to become comfortable with this on some level and the normal tries at creating the cycle seem to slowly be ebbing. Eventually I hope that most of the women in my life will abandon the attempts altogether.

So I must conclude that this mutation of my bitterness into a mixture of honesty and selfishness has given me a strange ability: I think I can disable the normal feedback loop of female control and male idiocy that permeats American relationships as described above.

. . .on his italian leather sofa.

So I find myself enjoying my detachment. Sure, I have my share of Broken Flowers and days when the only man in the world I identify with is Alfie.

But for every day my life seems hollow and devoid of purpose or kindness there are a dozen days when I am more liberated, more content, and in less emotional pain than any other male I know.

And right now I will trade a dozen days of freedom for that day of darkness anytime.

And so I won't put my neck beneath any woman's heel, no matter how attractive or "loving" it might seem.

Song Lyrics: Cake - Italian Leather Sofa.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

BeTrapped BeatDown

Ahem. Anybody remember this?

Well, for those of us who don't learn from history. . .this is my latest score in BeTrapped, which is sortof a Minesweeper-meets-Clue-in-a-dark-alley game:

Monday, September 26, 2005

Links to Robots!

I'm feeling especially Robotic today, because yesterday Rossum's Children went live.

I created Rossum's Children because I feel that there isn't an organized, properly focused media aggregator for the Robotics Industry. My hope is to fill that gap.

And since I'm feeling especially Robot-y today, a couple more robot links:

I was going to send you to play a pointless and addicting game starring a robot. . .but there aren't any.

However, if you are desperate to waste a few minutes, try Build a Robot!.

And lastly, for those of you who know what Kawaii! means. . . say hello to Manoi, because omigosh he's like, the cutest robot. . . evar.

The Day of Rest.

I have been trapped in this chair and on this machine for too long.

I'm updating now because I'm not going to use my computer for anything tomorrow. No e-mail, no post, no web development. I'm taking the day off.

So if you need something to fritter away a few of your precious Saturday hours and you were hoping to read some long and passionate but ultimately irrelevant rant here--I'm sorry, you're out of luck. Check back next week.

In the meantime, try the Foamy Katrina rant, or BeTrapped. Those should keep you busy.

/I'm going to the Highland games tomorrow. If my brain is functioning when I leave in the morning I'll be taking my camera with me.

//here's to hoping I don't get crushed by a Caber!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Engineer's Cocoon

Life is a little on the sick side. Not physical, more. . . frustrating.

I've been trying to relearn my HTML and CSS and create a format for my new project over the last few days, and it's put my ass in this wooden chair for 12+ hours each day. I feel like I'm becoming a fossil, or a freaking parasite.

And my fingers have started itching again. To solder and to wire. To create and rewrite and tweak. The engineer in me is screaming to get out.

It's almost time.

I feel like I'm in a cocoon.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The whirr of a projector cannot be replaced.

For the first time in a long time, I'm excited about a few movies that are coming up.

I should note that the availability of movies in my hometown suck, so in many cases I'm only getting to see the following film because of the tiny one screen Capri theater in Old Cloverdale which brings in the good movies that the rest of the theaters in town don't think will make money.

First, I get to see Broken Flowers this weekend, which is exciting. It looks promising and I really liked Lost in Translation so I'm expecting good things.

Second, in mid October I'll get to see both 2046 and Everything is Illuminated.

2046 looks incredible, and especially as an aspiring writer of science fiction it has me hooked.

And as a collector of digital memories, I identify fiercely with Elijah Wood's character portrayed in the previews for Everything is Illuminated. I hope that it is half as good as the trailer implies.

And lastly, I'm not even sure if this one will make it to Montgomery, but if it does, I want to see it. Steve Martin's Novella has been turned into a movie: ShopGirl.

I've admired Claire Danes ever since Romeo + Juliet (anyone who could star opposite Leonardo Di Caprio at that age and make him seem like a legitimate actor has a rare gift), so it will be nice to see her taking on such a major role.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Behind the Times

the disco daysYesterday I started doing research into what has happened with HTML 4.01, XHTML, and CSS in the last 6 years.

It turns out that in terms of web page design, proper code writing, and use of style, I'm still listening to Disco and wearing wide collared shirts.

I used to fancy myself quite the web page architect, back in the mid and late 90s when the internet seemed younger and more fresh and exciting and not quite so full of morons as it is now. In addition, that handy internet had some wonderful built in idiocy filtering systems, two for web pages--called Tripod and Geocities--and one for e-mail and instant messaging, called AOL. They were very handy, because to avoid 90% of the stupidity on the internet, you just avoided following any links to Geocities or Tripod web pages, or speaking to anyone with an @aol.com after their name. Later (but still long before blogging came along in force) Angelfire added a angsty highschooler filter that was equally helpful.

Of course, in the interim I realize that LiveJournal and Diaryland have sprung up to host all the angsty teenagers, and while there isn't an idiocy filter for users anymore per se, it is possible to direct your daily surfing in such a way that you can minimize the interactions.

That was in the glory days of the late 90s--but internet years are like dog years, they pass at a rate of at least 5 to 1. So in the 7 years since I have last played with this stuff, about three decades have passed. Whole generations of design rules have come and gone.

When I last built a web page, Framing was still a socially acceptable practice if you were professional about it. Now I personally still stand by frames as a useful navigational tool for content heavy web pages. They offer a flexibility other types of navigation systems just don't have. But they were abused by a great many stupid people (see Geocities, Tripod, and Angelfire, above) and so were cast out.

Thus I'm basically Disco Patrick in the swinging 70s of web page design, and everybody around me is listening to Hip Hop and booty dancing. And therefore it's back to school for Patrick. I found the W3schools.com tutorials, and I'm slowly feeding myself back through them, discovering the new meaning of style and design as I go and slowly moving my abilities as a designer into the modern era.

Right now I'm picking up information about Cascading Style Sheets, which were just becoming a reality when I got out of this business, and next I hope to learn about the <div> tag (wee!).

I don't mind all the new learning. It's kindof refreshing to realize that the internet has evolved as a design entity while I was gone, even if the new styles are a lot more laborious to code by hand than the old ones. It is nice because it has widened the gap even further between true web designers who create solid, easy to navigate, beautiful pages and those who either write horrible code or use a WYSIWYG web page creation tool.

I'll probably keep the shirt though. I think it's totally groovy. Don't you?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

These scars are deeper than they seem.

And I told you that.

I told you that so many times.

Each and every one of you were warned.

None of you can hold this gaze forever, each of you looks away in time.

You've all got an answer. Maybe it's that you simply realize my truth is stronger than your blind optimism. Maybe it's that you're too self-centered to realize you missed your mark. Maybe you're just looking for justification for your own dalliances. There's a handful of stereotypes gathering dust in the corners of my last 15 months.

Maybe you wanted a lover and couldn't stand the friendship that comes with it. You were afraid you "got to me", because I paid attention and that was the last thing you wanted. What scared you more, the fact that I cared and still let go, or the fact that you wanted me to?

Maybe you wanted a house pet and couldn't stand the thought of my skin being free range. Knowing that when you abused me and then turned your back another stretched out her hand. Was that your deepest fear? That you couldn't kick me and expect me to whimper at the door when you weren't looking?

Maybe you thought I was the answer to your life's big mystery. If you could just make me be who I was before the truth took me from you, then would I be the perfect man? Did you think that I would heal your broken world and stitch your shattered memories together to make a quilt that a queen would be proud to call her life?

Maybe you wanted a project and couldn't stomach the fact that I didn't just get better in your presence. Did you think I was a lego set with a few pieces misplaced? That my life was so simple that you could fix it with a handful of platitudes and a heartful of kindness?

And now what do you think? Now that you know I'm a burning man with a dangerous game playing beneath my skin.

I'm shouting at the shadows that exist only in the memory of a life lived on the edge of what is reasonable or kind. In time my disease will infect you too. Run little girls before my decay rots your souls and drains your eyes of that pretty glimmer I spoke of so highly.

Life isn't as easy as you think, and I'm your living breathing proof. Do you hate me for it yet?

I should hang a sign in my front yard. "Dreams broken, hopes crushed, reasonable rates, apply within."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

AAarrggh! I be a foolish swab.

Here it be the day for skullduggery, September 19th, and me foolish landlubbin' self goes and forgets to mention that it's Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Me heartiest apologies mateys, I swear on me mother's grave it won't ne'er happen again.


Monday, September 19, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Stupid.

It's a link day, but instead of the normal format I'm going to link to three articles today.

First, the good is Switchfoot. I've long enjoyed their music but they just went up a million notches in my estimation over a DRM fiasco with their publisher, Sony. It seems Sony added DRM to the new CD against the band's wishes (because "industry standard" for the Recording Industry is to be a freedom hating Nazi), and their DRM effectively keeps people from importing the songs to many portable music player managemers(yes I just did it again, whoops). Switchfoot's Tim Foreman posted a note on the bands official forum (hosted by Sony) apologizing for the DRM and listing several workarounds that will dreak the system. My hat is off to the boys in Switchfoot for knowing that DRM is a mistake, and speaking out against it publically.

For the record, bullshit DRM schemes like this are the reason I no longer have the autoplay feature enabled on any of my drives. Essentially these new schemes equate to viruses that break parts of a computer's functionality to serve the unholy purposes of some asshole in a suit at Sony who wants a second Porsche to drive on the weekends. He's damaging your computer so he can make more money. Fuck him.

In case you were wondering, to disable autoplay on a drive in Windows XP, head for [my computer], right click on the drive, and choose [properties]. Then choose the [autoplay] tab and select "prompt me each time to choose an action" then simply refuse the prompt when you drop a disk in the drive.

For full control of the autoplay system, pick up TweakUI from the Microsoft Powertoys website and check out the [my computer -> drive manager], there you can completely disable the autoplay capability on a drive-by-drive basis and you won't even be bothered by the prompt.

Second, the bad news: Apple is giving etailers shit for referencing their iPod line. Basically Apple is threatening lawsuits against anyone who uses the iPod name, in any way. So if you're a maker of an FM transmitter that turns headphone output into an FM signal, simply dropping a note in your device's FAQ saying "yes, this device works with portable media players, including the iPod." means you could be receiving a C&D soon. Hurray!

And lastly, the stupid: Wired news is generally written by smart people, for smart people, about computers and issues related to computers. That's why I like it. However, this article on random playlisting is inane. The writing is sophomoric and the statements about mathematics and computers are stuff that any nerd already knows and any brain-dead hipster with an iPod isn't smart enough to grasp. Perfectly useless. I could rant about statistical clustering and how this entire article could be written in 200 words, but I won't. Instead I'll just grumble some more and then go back to playing Google Earth War. . . Damn you, GEwar--I want my life back!

A word from the wise.

Avoid late night snacks that involve tequila and sorbet.

Those were the weirdest freaking dreams. . .was that a midget? And what was with the pizza? Gaarrghh. I need a melon baller to get the bad memories out.

/off to help my sister move.
//Yes, AGAIN.
///Shaddup. Nobody asked you. :)
////The spellchecker didn't like Gaarrghh. Heh. (suggestion: Garage).

Saturday, September 17, 2005


All is forgiven, and I'm a dork.

As the regulars know, I have a love-hate relationship with Apple.

When I reformatted Lorelei, I decided to drop by the QuickTime website and get the new version of QuickTime since I was sure they'd released a new version since last I installed it.

I was horrified to find when I reached their download page that they were foisting copies of iTunes on every person who downloaded QuickTime 7, and I instead went and downloaded the excellent QuickTime Alternative as a plugin for a player I already had, the nearly flawless Media Player Classic.

I was so disappointed because I have always held QuickTime is especially high regard as a portion of the Apple product lineup. It's an excellent player with a simple, clean feature set, almost flawless streaming capabilities and a bulletproof browser plugin. In short, I love QuickTime.

Whenever these sorts of "bundled" deals are pushed in my lap I revolt. Mainly because I hear "Hi there, would you like a heaping helping of DRM and a steaming pile of Hipster bullshit along with your media player? I think you would!" in this particular case.

I have refused to install any official RealMedia product for years for the same basic reason. However, it has come to my attention today that I was in the wrong about QuickTime. It is still possible to download the standalone QuickTime player.

I would say this warms the cockles of my heart, but frankly that word cockles has always kindof freaked me out.

By the way: the QuickTime Alternative plugin for MPC is still handy for one thing: it allows you to play .qt and .mov files in fullscreen mode, so you might want to just bite the bullet and install both so you have the option.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Pieces of April

It has been a while since I did a movie review. Maybe it's time.

I saw Pieces of April early last spring with my family.

I wanted to write about it then, but I had just done a spate of movie reviews so I saved a note as draft with the subject "Pieces of April" and a two-word reminder to get me thinking about the movie. It read "pristine disasters."

Contrary to how most guys were probably coaxed into seeing this independently styled film with the art-house feel, I was not drawn to this movie because of Katie Holmes.

In fact, until I saw this movie, I didn't even know who she was. If you haven't seen Pieces of April yet because you were put off by Ms. Holmes' terrible acting in other films (Batman Begins, for instance), or you find her behaviour in this idiotically nicknamed "TomKat" fiasco abhorrent, put those concerns aside for this movie.

I was drawn to it first because the wonderful Oliver Platt plays Jim Burns, April's concerned and overworked father, defending (often to his detriment) a daughter that sometimes seems determined to fuck everything up. Of all the names associated with the film (including Peter Hedges, Patricia Clarkson and Derek Luke), it was his name that motivated me to see it.

The premise for the film is that the oldest daughter of the Burn's family, April, has invited her parents, siblings, and senile grandmother to Thanksgiving dinner for the first time. April is the black sheep of the family, living in a run-down apartment complex with her new boyfriend, Bobby (Derek Luke) and eking out those tentative existences that disaster-prone young women seem to spin out of a mixture of dreams, goodwill clothes, and cheap plastic. The story unfolds over the course of Thanksgiving day, following the two independent threads on a collision course: the Burn's leaving from their home in the country to drive to the city for dinner, fretting over the entire trip about what they will find there, and April, attempting to surmount a rapidly growing pile of problems to cook a dinner her family will be proud of.

Mr. Platt, of course, turns out an excellent performance. So does the rest of the cast. Derek Luke, fighting to be the hero his girlfriend needs, is heartwarming and believable. Patricia Clarkson shines as the bitter, cancer-riddled mother, incapable of believing her daughter will get anything right. Katie Holmes delivers a wonderful performance as the perpetual 'bad girl' of the family, trying in the best way she knows how to do something for which they will love her. The supporting cast of apartment neighbors to April is engaging and funny, making us glower with indignation at their injustices but also smile with pride at their hospitality.

Peter Hedges' screenplay is sharp, burning with a sarcastic wit and moments of truth. It makes a celebration of the odd mixture of kindness and coldheartedness that all American cities seem to foster, especially around the holidays when things become stressful. The actors seem to understand this awkwardness and it bleeds into their performances in subtle, believable ways.

The camera work captures a quirky art film style without being pointlessly distracting. There are almost no wide shots and the part of the movie that follows April almost gives you a sense of claustrophobia, all shot as it is in tiny apartment kitchens and hallways. I don't think any soundstages were used. The combination of this style of cinematography and the use of a low quality, almost home-video-esque film effect makes the viewer feel as if you really have stepped into someone else's holiday story.

Guys, bring your sense of youthful compassion. Ladies, bring Kleenex.

The movie is heart wrenching, heart warming, and lovely. It captures the essence of the modern American holiday season in myriad ways I can't even begin to describe. It portrays each disaster as a pristine portion of a larger whole, a whole that cannot be reached without hope. Hope that we will succeed. Hope that our family will have grace for us. Hope that the holiday season might turn out to be about more than properly cooked turkey and snide remarks about our siblings' past failures.

In short: if you're looking for a different kind of holiday movie this year, I highly recommend Pieces of April.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Newsy Things in Threes

Three totally random items today. They probably aren't related in any justifiable way, but here they are regardless.

The Feed

First, my regular readers will note the addition of the Feed to the sidebar. That's an atom feed. Drop it into the RSS/atom reader of your choice, or your customized google page, and enjoy the wonder that is aggregation without aggravation. This way you'll know when I update without having to actually come here. I've started collecting feeds for the blogs I visit, and it saves me time, effort, and headache. All hail the Feed!

If you have no idea what any of that meant, and you're uninterested in adopting new technologies that make your life better, feel free to move on.

The Music

I ran across this ancient meme the other day and decided to try it, just for kicks.

The resulting list happened to be good enough that I decided it was worth posting.

1. Open up the music player on your computer.
2. Set it to play your entire music collection.
3. Hit the 'shuffle' button.
4. Tell us the title of the next ten songs that show up (with their musicians), no matter how embarrassing. That's right, no skipping that Carpenters tune that will totally destroy your hip credibility. It's time for total musical honesty. Write it up in your blog or journal.

1. Whitesnake - Here I go Again
2. Eurythmics - This is the House
3. Guster and Jump Little Children - The Airport Song
4. TV Theme - The Andy Griffith Show (no, I'm not kidding. two years of technical support work for a drama group does strange things to a man's collection).
5. Azure Ray - November
6. Eels - Dirty Girl (Love this song. In fact, I'm going to go listen to it again as soon as I finish this).
7. Violent Femmes - Blister in the Sun
8. Flogging Molly - Saltydog
9. Sneaker Pimps - Low Place Like Home
10. Jay-Z - Hard Knock Life (instrumental)

A weird list, but pretty decent nonetheless. It makes clear just how eclectic my tastes are.

The Library

Last, but not least. . .

The library from the town where I grew up has it's own website.

I stumbled across that link today and thought: gee, maybe that little place will enter the 21st century after all.

Then I realized that the web page made use of midis and wasn't Firefox compliant.


Well, they've made it into the mid-1990s at least.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Partial List

This list has been sitting around, written, since May. But since I'm kindof busy today and don't feel like writing anything original. . .you get to read it.

Things I would like to do before I die.


* North America:
        o Explore the Alaskan Islands.
        o See Nova Scotia.

* South America and Caribbean:
        o Go back to St. Martin.
        o See Peru and Macchu Picchu.

* Europe:
        o Prague, To Budapest, To Istambul.
        o The Orient Express.
        o Scotland - to breath the air.

* Africa:
        o Morroco. Casablanca especially.
        o A Photo-Safari in South Africa.
        o Egypt. The Pyramids, but mainly the cities and the statues.
        o Just once, maybe, if my life becomes worth less than the paper it's printed on, I'll set out to travel through the war-torn heart of Africa. To see what adventures I would find there.

* Asia:
        o Yes.

* Australia and NZ:
        o Explore New Zealand.
        o Visit some old aquaintances.

        o Be Proven wrong.

"Extreme" and Sports:
        o Take another shot at Rollerblades.
        o Get back into Soccer.
        o Buy a pistol and make it my brother.
        o Stop the bleeding. (ok, that's a joke).
        o Take a Tactical Combat Pistolcraft course.

        o See a shuttle launch (or whatever passes for one by the time I get around to it).
        o Experience weightlessness for more than 30 consecutive seconds.
        o Be so distracted while driving that I have to stop, and sit out on the hood of my car in the freezing weather and watch the Northern Lights in Awe.
        o Go and visit the Burning Man.
        o And stay clean while there.
        o Bring $2,500 to Vegas, and play a couple of proper games of Blackjack.
        o Be able to use the Fight Club Quote in answer to "Is that your blood?" :"Some of it. Yeah.".

        o Get published professionally for my research.
        o Get published for my fiction (guess that means I gotta start writing it down, huh?).
        o Build another robot that makes somebody go "Awwww!" like they've just met a puppy.
        o Build a robot that makes people go "yikes."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


And that means it's linkin' time.

Today's time waster: Cats in Sinks.

Way more entertaining to me than HotorNot ever was, go lose ten minutes of your life to the fascinating phenomena--cats in sinks! If you're a true fan of adorable cats, feel free to follow the "Kittenwar" link from that page. You'll be kissing goodbye to another half hour of your existence, but since it's likely meaningless anyway, you probably won't miss it.

If you're here looking for intellectual stimulation this morning, you are also in luck. There's a couple of articles I ran across today that are worth mentioning.

One is from the fellows who write Bad Science. It was published in the Guardian on Thursday.

It's called Don't dumb me down. It's a pretty scathing critique of how the media reports on science. It's a bit of a read, but well worth it if you're academically minded.

The other stimulating article discusses stimulation of a different sort--the titillating sort. It's a piece from Heroine Sheik called I Play for the Articles. It's about the author's reaction to the news that Playboy magazine is running another pictorial of the women of video games. By which they mean CGI video game characters--sans clothes.

And today's tool is the Gmail Notifier. A handy little extension of the Gmail accounts system, this one sits quietly in your system tray and lets you know when new mail is ready for you.

It gets a couple of demerits for bad programming practices. The first is that it doesn't use the startup folder to launch itself, which means that rooting it out after an install would be a hassle.

The second is that it doesn't link itself to a single account on a multiple account XP machine. Which means that Gmail notifier now launches when it should not in my Gamer and Visitor accounts.

All in all, a handy program, but with a couple of serious flaws that come from poor design. Hopefully Google will wise up and fix these in future versions.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Years Ago.


No real update today.

I think this image says it all.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Yay for Pain!

I'm a little delirious today.

I don't tend to take a lot of painkillers. This is because most kinds of pain don't phase me much at all. As a result when I have persistent eye-watering pain, I tend to ignore it until it is far past time to take a couple Motrin. This means that there is a window during which I'm a bit loopy. I think that it is because I actually devote part of my mental process to pain supression once it reaches a certain strength and this means that I'm not firing on all cylinders, so to speak.

Right now one of my lower wisedom teeth is trying to make its new home in my jaw, and my jaw's gums have decided to lodge a formal complaint with my entire head. The general consensus among my lower gums is that they have been living there for years, and no natural disaster, no matter how appropriate to my development, is going to motivate them to recede and make way for a new tooth.

I think they figured that since my other adult teeth all stopped arriving a decade ago, their work was done and they are allowed to be complacent in their old age and retirement. These last two newcomers have offended them severely. I've tried reasoning with them ("Look at the top gums. They accepted the other two wisedom teeth just fine!") but recently union talks broke off after they demanded that during the process I give up on chewing with the entire left side of my mouth, to which I said: "hell with you, you'll be crushed if I say so!" and have continued eating normally.

So now we're in a sort of mexican stand off. Me trying to put off eating breakfast and them trying to convince my tooth that it really doesn't want to erupt at all ("stay down, b!tch!" I can almost hear the little gums shrieking).

The sad thing is, my jaw is being a model citizen. As far as I can tell by feel, it has more than enough space for these last two teeth. There is no pain anywhere in my jawline or elsewhere in my mouth resulting from teeth moving or having pressure on them, the only part of my mouth that is complaining is the gums above the wisedom teeth themselves.

[sigh]. Time to go have breakfast and try to bully them into submission, I guess.

Wish me luck.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Into the. . .

Another cool internet toy.

It is called The wayback machine.

It comes to you courtesy of the internet archive, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a digital reference of the web. They are establishing a sort of date-locked "The way we were" for the history of the internet. It is a neat project.

The wayback machine itself is what provides access to these mysterious archives. For example, let us take the Coca Cola Space Science Center, where I interned in high school. (http://www.ccssc.org). When I interned there, I reported to two wonderful educators and professional women whose names I have forgotten. Neither of them work at the center now, so a visit to the center's web page reveals no information.

But if I hop into the wayback machine, I can find the archived home page for the center, circa winter, 1998. And there they are, listed on the staff information page. Dr. Ruth Withrow and Jacqueline Scott. Isn't technology neat?

There are dozens of uses for this sort of archive, most of them good. The archive doesn't have everything, and it mostly just stores independent domains (so the first web page I ever created at xoom.com is lost in the sands of time. Thankfully). but it is startingly comprehensive and the records do stretch back quite a ways.

So go ahead. Try it out for yourself. It can be a lot of fun, if your internet history stretches back even half as far as mine. Plus when you do, you get to say. . . "into the wayback machine!"

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Hiking Time.

The Working Man and I climbed a hill yesterday. We set out on a short hike, to see what mysteries the woods would reveal in a few short hours. We followed a creek up towards a ridge, splashing through rivulets and telling stories about the places we'd been and the things we had seen.

He has many stories I do not, and I listen with intent, absorbing every word as part of a larger lesson about how we are different, and how we are the same. I am a friend of his daughter and many would claim we are more than friends, and though they would be both wrong and right I use this time to learn about him, rather than her. I have the disconcerting feeling that he is, at times, playing the same game. Searching not for information about how I treat his daughter but rather about how I would survive his life. I do not wish to present a false image but I have little desire to be chosen as a fitting heir to a kingdom of propane and flatlands in the heart of hurricane country.

I am a wanderer and I make sure that my answers reflect that. We speak of our childhoods and of nature. Of hiking and of travel. We spend more time on flora and fauna and the rocks before us, forming theories about the lay of the land and comparing our respective knowledge bases. He has more information than I, and I happily let him share and I drink in to remedy a bit of my ignorance. I am out of my element and let him know it.

We exit the forest and find ourselves in a wide swathe cut by the power company, with high-voltage lines high overhead. We travel uphill still more, coming upon deposits of flash and slag, the coughed up residue of the local coal-burning power plant. The exhaust from our lightbulbs and refridgerators crunches under our feet as we talk of porous rock and erosion control.

We scale the side of another ridge, finding an empty refuse dump site at the top of it and admiring the view across the green ohio valleys before deciding to turn back. On the trip back we find a blackberry patch, and later still, a small copse of wildflowers, some taller than I. I draw a knife from an ankle sheath and make some quick cuttings, assembling a simple bouquet for the table of the cabin in which our large group is staying. I do not use many pretenses or explain my plans. I wonder if he is curious about my purposes for the flowers. I imagine that he might assume they are meant for his daughter, or perhaps someone else.

On the walk back we speak of education and children and my parents. Once we have returned I place the flowers in a vase and put them on the kitchen table without fanfare or explanation.

Others will discover them in time. As perhaps they will discover me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Slowest Way to Spell Check. . .Ever.

[editor's note: yesterday's post has been fixed to include a link to the Eets game site.]

As some of you have certainly noticed, I often forget to run the spellcheck script before I post.

Back in September of last year, I wrote an entry called "The Lesson Theory" about my attempts to get acclimated to my then-new job as a bartender.

In that essay, I made a truly fantastic, Homestar Runner esque textual blunder, referring to the ex-owner as a "crisis-managemer."

Now, I don't know about you, but a managemer sounds like a pretty cool job, perhaps that is the guy that acts as a supervisemer for the workemers?

Anyway, I'm sure you're all wondering how I learned (today--almost a year after the entry was posted) that I spelled this word in a comical new fashion? Because today someone attempted to search for a "money managemer" on Yahoo, and I was the third (!) hit. The two hits ahead of me were priceless. One was an RFB for a script on ScriptLance.com and the other was in an article about how to "send your child to college for free."

At least I can console myself by knowing others do it too, and mine is just on a private blog.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play at being a gardenemer.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Links are back!

I know I've been bad about my monday linkage for a couple of weeks. I've been traveling and distracted and that's kept me from posting links as much. Also, I didn't update yesterday because I've decided to start taking Sundays off. I'll still be updating the other six days of the week as often as I can.

So today is a link day.

Today's time waster is the Eets demo, from Klei entertainment. If you liked Lemmings, Eets is right up your alley. The main difference is that preplanning is different in eets and once preplanning is done actions are taken in realtime as well. The only way I can describe it is a cross between space penguin, the early Mario games and Lemmings. Lots of fun, but very quirky.

Today's tool is the Weather underground. Far more than your average weather site, this one includes a lot of locally updated information from amatuer weather fiends and storm chasers. A lot more accessible in many cases than the clumsy, advertisement-riddled weather.com, it's worth a once-over.

And I've saved the best for last today. The reading material is a short story by Terry Bisson called They're Made Out of Meat. Possibly the funniest short piece of science fiction I've ever read. It is only two pages, all presented as dialogue, and worth every minute it takes to read.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Tears for New Orleans

Good morning America, How are ya?
Don't you know me? I'm your native son.
I'm the train they call the City of New Orleans
I'll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.

A short update today. No personal news. Katrina has hit New Orleans really hard and I know you all are probably tired of hearing about it, but if you aren't, here are some things worth hearing.

New Orleans' Mayor Ray Nagin gave an interview with a radio station a couple of days ago and it is making the rounds now. The transcript can be found here (thanks Fark!), and the very powerful audio recording is also available (via Violet Blue).

There are several sites to which you can donate, but the one that makes the most sense is probably the American Red Cross (this link goes directly to the donation form). The money can be directed to your local chapter or to specific causes (including Hurricane relief) as you see fit.

And if you have family in that area or just want information about the city, there is a city damage wiki called Scipionus. Each red teardrop represents a piece of information about the current state of the city. If you're looking for data about friends, or want to know if the childhood home you grew up in still stands, this is the place to go.

I haven't been to the big easy in a few years, but I loved the city when I was there last. For all its dirt and corruption and crime and sleaze, it is still New Orleans, full of light and bakeries and booze and laughter. She's our city, and she's worth saving.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Gee, thanks mom!

Do you ever get the feeling that your mother sometimes does things that are either pricelessly clueless, or not-so-subtle hints about things she'd never encourage directly?

I am faced with such a dilemma. My mother either. . .

A) has never heard the phrase Tantric Sex
B) doesn't know that Tantra is the root word for the phrase "Tantric Sex"
C) really thinks it must be time for me to get working on losing my virginity.

Now, I cannot help but eliminate C, because I really, really think that she does want me to stay celibate until I find the perfect girl for me (defined by how well this hypothetical girl and my mother get along) and then immediately set to work on raising her grand children. As there are no such girls on any horizons I'm aware of, I can rule that one out.

In any case, there was a booksale at my local library and my mother came home with two large boxes of books. When I greeted her she grabbed a stack and pressed them into my hands.

"Look! I got books for you!"

My mother, I should note, knows of my fascination with eastern culture, philosophy and art, much of which flowered out of my study of the martial arts during college.

One of the books in the stack she handed me was "The Art of the Tantra", the cover of which you can see above.

I attempted to mask my surprise and faked an enthusiastic "oh, cool! Thanks!" as I stared in unsettled surprise at the book cover I held. As she moved the other boxes to the next room I quickly flipped the book open to see if I could confirm my suspicions about the word Tantra and its portent.

Sure enough, I immediately discovered a few plates of artwork (sculpture and paintings) that confirmed my suspicion. I can't actually post the images I first ran across because they are graphic enough that I might get flagged as objectionable. But they were pieces like this one, but with less subtlety.

So there I was, standing in the hallway, holding a book about Indian sexual methods that are upwards of 1400 years old, and nursing one serious case of confusion, courtesy of my mother.

I put the book away to the side and just this weekend began reading it. It is fascinating.

Now, the artwork is of course beautiful. Much of it is geometric patterns and traditional artwork that is not directly or obviously erotic to the unfamiliar eye. Still, many of the sexual pieces are also quite lovely, like this golden statue of one of the more traditional poses [click for full size].

For those of you that aren't familiar with the term, let me explain a little bit about Tantra. Tantra is an Indian art/philosophy/religion. It has both Hindu and Buddhist adherents/aspects and even spread from central India into what were Bengal and Tibet. It's really only become known to the western world only in the last 100 years, though it has records dating back to 600 AD.

Imagine that while he was still going through puberty, Buddha had read the Kama Sutra. The result might sound like most of the Tantric philosophy I've read so far.

I'm still somewhat fuzzy on all the details since I've only read about 15% of it thus far. but it seems the basic premise is this: A unified philosophy of the universe can be created and clarified through a deep fundamental caring for all things, and that the ultimate expression of this care is found in sexual intercourse. From what I've read, sexual intercourse is the analog for the joining of the male deity representing matter and energy with the female goddess representing the creative force. Thus at the higher levels of the study of Tantra much of the 'practice' (meditation, etc) involves sex. And sex is viewed through a completely different lens by the Indian mindset. The 'tension and relief' model that westerners tend to use when thinking of sex is completely ignored by the Indian methodologies alluded to in the book.

There are rumours that the result of this difference in mindset and focus means that intercourse during Tantric sex can last for hours.

Yes. Hours.

Intrigued yet?

I am. But I'm more worried. My assumption is that my mother simply picked the book up without even flipping through it (the second image I found when I opened the book depicted sex, so it isn't like she could have missed it). But if she did flip through it, and did know the books contents. . . ?

Either way, it has me kinda freaked out.

Friday, September 02, 2005

It's a man skirt!

I have a cousin.

He's awesome, partly because he is my cousin but mostly because he stores more knowledge of music and film in his pinky finger than you have in your entire head. If you're looking to kill some time, a collection of his artwork (photography, digital art and writing) can be found here. Beware: the pretty motion blur and smoke photographs might suck away half an hour of your life.

Many moons ago when the world was young, when I was seventeen and he was fourteen, he and I drove down to the beach together for a weekend in my dad's convertible. But that's an entirely different story (I'm not sure his mother ever trusted my mother again).

This cousin came to visit me this summer. We (and our respective families) took a trip down to Panama City Beach.

I hadn't seen him in about half a decade and it was cool to meet the new, improved cousin, since almost everything about us both has changed since last we met.

After he'd been in town for a couple days, I realized that he looked like he'd had a serious accident involving a vat of toxic chemicals and a hot topic. No joke. Tight blue jeans, Obscure Indie Band Concert Tees, ultra-wide Grommet belts. Converses. The works.

When I realized that this was his current style, my first thought was "Oh my god, the hipster bus ran over my cousin." However, he pulls the look off better than most of the hipsters I know, so I can't fault him for it too much.

In any case, when I pointed this out to him (yes, I said "hey, you look like you were run over by a hot topic."--we've always been pretty direct in my family) he said "well, I worked there for a while."

This explained a lot. He then proceeds to tell me why he quit. It was because of the one leg pant. (Yes, it is a real product).

"The what?" I asked, somewhat incredulous. I haven't been in a Hot Topic since I broke up with EKG and I generally zeroed in on stickers for Lorelei.

"The one leg pant." He explained, his eyes glinting with an almost feral sarcasm. "It was a man-skirt. It had one opening at the top, and one opening at the bottom. I'm sorry, but that's a skirt."

"Ah." I said.

"I couldn't deal with those idiots. Because guys would come into the store and attempt to buy this thing. They would ask for it, and I refused to sell it to them. I would make fun of them: "You realize that's a man-skirt, right? It's a skirt. Dude. Don't buy it." I just couldn't stand them!"

So, in homage to my cousin, I am pronouncing September 1st this year "Call a skirt a skirt day."

And to all you hipster/punk/scene kids who might have actually considered purchasing this silly, silly item: Don't be a fashion victim. Think twice.

Thursday, September 01, 2005