Strange Brouhaha

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Are you watching the debates?

I don't know about you, but after I found out that the debates are going to have canned questions and canned responses, no rebuttals, none of the features that you'd expect from, you know, an actual debate...I'm not interested. The candidates aren't going to be debating each other. They're going to be giving statements.

We know what their statements are going to be. What's the point?

This scares me

I read an interesting review by Frank Rich in the NYT about "George W. Bush: Faith in the White House." Definitely worth signing up for the free registration. The film is being billed by its creators as a response to Fahrenheit 9/11, but Rich concludes that it's actually a "nightmarish sequel."

The most interesting part? Rich correctly points out that the reason that Bush believes that he's done nothing wrong is that he also believes that he's been annointed by God, and since God is advising him and annointing him, and God is infallible, Bush therefore is infallible.

If this doesn't scare you, nothing will.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I want that hour and fiteen minutes back

Some of you may remember my ill-fated attempt to actually get medical care from my HMO when I had strep throat a few months ago. (I'll edit in a link to it later.)

Well, here we are, all of these months later, and I've finally had my initial visit with my doctor, who I can legitimately call "my doctor" now--unlike the doctor I had selected before. Here, I am pausing to take a deep breath, lest I rant again.

The doc was a good guy. Very nice, very good at making a credible attempt to appear like he actually gave a damn AND very good at pretending that I was going to take any of his advice.

But I want the time back. I could have written down, in advance, everything that he was going to tell me and everything he was going to ask and everything I was going to have to do.

As I knew would happen, he said "You're in great shape, keep losing weight. Get more exercise." By which he meant "Get ANY exercise," since I was quite clear about the fact that my only exercise plan involves sprinting up to the third floor of my office building every morning, and running down the stairs at night. I KNOW that. I don't need to hear it again. It's like I told Savannah, they must always say that because they're hoping that one time or another it'll stick.

Oh, before I forget, on an almost unrelated note, I finally went in to the jewelry store to get my wedding ring resized. I haven't been able to wear it for a long, long time, and I finally figured it was time to get it made smaller. My ring finger went down THREE FULL SIZES, from 14.5 to 11.5--and I probably should have had them make it an 11 because even the 11.5 was just snug. I just hope they won't have to do anything too drastic to it. Our wedding rings are like this:

| / / |

...where each section is a different kind of gold: red, white, and yellow. They're REALLY neat (and custom made locally). The lady at Jeweler's Workshop said that they might have to just take a piece out of one of the sections, ruining the symmetry. My fond dream is that they'll give it to the same goldsmith who made the ring, and she'll recognize her work and say "Nay, forsooth, I cannot yea ruin this fine work, but must instead take equal pieces out!" (Really, though, what can I expect for thirty-five bucks? I just want to wear my ring.)

Open Letter to Mothers

I just need to get this off my chest.

Moms, if you're in public and a stranger's baby starts crying, and the baby's caregiver is obviously doing a good job and doing all the right things...BUTT THE HELL OUT. Nobody's saying you can't watch. Nobody's saying you can't keep an eye on the babysitter. But if it's not your baby, don't stick your nose in where it's not needed.

You may be asking, "But what if it's NOT a stranger's baby? What if it's, say, the daughter of my kid's dance teacher? SHE'S not a stranger!"

Yes. Yes she is. Butt the hell out. It's not your baby. The baby is not related to you in any way. If the babysitter obviously doesn't need help...BUTT THE HELL OUT.

I know, I know. You're moms. You're supposed to be concerned. We're all supposed to be concerned! I'm a dad, fercryinoutloud, I'm concerned too. But don't pay attention to the crying baby: babies do that. Pay attention to the babysitter. Is she troubleshooting? Is she trying different strategies? Is she most emphatically NOT losing control, getting flustered, or in over her head? THEN BUTT OUT. Is she the same girl who's been helping take care of this baby since the baby was BORN? THEN BUTT OUT.

In case you're wondering...yes, this happened yesterday. I wanted to stand up and yell at these women to let the poor girl do her job; she was doing what she had been paid to do, and, from what I saw, doing it well. She was doing her job, and if somebody's doing their job...well, you know what to do.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Late-night TV bombshell

Before I started playing Star Wars Galaxies, the TV in my house would be on from the time Lani went to bed (7:00-7:30) until 12:30 or so, when Conan O'Brien was over. Yeah, that's right. Usually I would read a book with the TV on as background until 10:35 when The Tonight Show would come on.

I like Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. They put on a good show, they have good guests. It's not great television, but I think that despite the pedestal people put Carson on, Carson didn't make great television either. What it was, and is, is good.

I like Conan O'Brien a lot. He's funny. He's even funny when he's not funny. I like his interviewing style; he's not afraid to ask stupid or silly questions, he's not afraid to crack wise with his guests. I'd say he's kind of like a polite, non-boob-obsessed Howard Stern.

When I hit CNN this morning, I saw that NBC has signed Leno to the Tonight Show for another five years, and Conan to Late Night for another five years...and then Conan will replace Jay on the Tonight Show. I think that that's great news. I'd come away from the computer every night at 10:30 to watch The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.

And if they keep Joel the announcer, Max Weinberg (and the Max Weinberg 7) and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, everybody wins.

Two-day gut check

I've started a list of action items for myself. These are the things that I currently don't like (to varying degrees) about Blogger. I need to do a little bit of research on whether or not I can control and/or fix them.

  • I do like the fact that comments are mailed to me now...but I don't like the fact that when I use a webmail client to read a comment mailed to me from blogspot, the mail will hijack my browser. You heard me correctly. All the cgi-bin links from the message controls (next, delete, logout, reply, etc.) are redirected to or Presumably this won't happen in an actual email client, and it may not happen in browsers other than the one I'm currently using. I'll have to check that out.

  • I no longer have the ability to completely remove comments. I definitely don't like that. The only time I ever used that ability was to take out spam, but I don't like not having the option. Oh, I can delete comment text, but I can't completely destroy an entry. I already know that I can't do anything about this.

  • On a similar note, I can't go back and edit my own comments. I can re-edit posts, I think, but comments are there for good. Users should have the ability to edit their own comments. Period.

  • I find the column width for the main posting area ridiculously narrow, but I'd bet I can change that in the template settings. Does anyone else find it too narrow? My sense of perspective is a little bit off, since my monitor resolution is set pretty high. Maybe it looks okay at 1024x768.

That's pretty much it for now. It's a tiny list, although I have to admit that the comment thing really annoys me. And the list of things I don't like is far outweighed by the list of thing that I do like: it's free. (That's right--"list of thing" is not a typo. Oh, that's unfair; this is a good system.)

Monday, September 27, 2004

Mall Music

I forgot to mention something about the mall.

The music is terrible.

We went into Gap Kids ("Ooo! Let's go in the Gap!") and there was this atrociously horrible song by some girl singer playing on the overheads. Let me clarify; the music was good, if typical, pop fare. It had a good hook and a good beat. Competent, bland, workmanlike. The lyrics, on the other hand, were utter crap. I said to Lani, "Somebody had to write this!" but she was looking at clothes.

It really says something, at least to me, that the best song we heard was a cover of the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame," which has to be 25 years old. Yes, it was a cover by some teenage girl with crappy backup singers and they butchered the arrangement, but it was still the best thing we heard in the damn mall.

(I think what it says is, "You're old!")

Yes. We went to the mall again.

I had to get new tires for the car this weekend, and the Firestone happens to be at the mall--well, in the mall parking lot--and so I figured that Lani and I could go to the mall while we waited. So we did.

Blessedly, the mall stores were mostly closed at 9:00-ish in the morning. The only people there were people doing their morning walks. That's something I don't get: why would you go to the mall to get exercise? The floor isn't any better or worse than a path at a park--it's tiled, not carpeted, so it can't be a comfort issue. A park has fresh air. The day was beautiful, so it's not like they had a weather excuse. There's no medical care in the mall if you drop dead of a heart attack, so it can't be that. Maybe people just like walking in a climate-controlled ghost town full of advertising. To each his own.

The only things open were the anchor stores, so we hit Sears and--this will be a shock--Lani looked at clothes and shoes. "Let's go look at tools," I said, gazing longingly in the direction of the hardware section.

"Daddy," said Lani gravely. "There are shoes here."

We also looked at sewing machines. I have this bizarre, unfounded belief that I could learn to sew; I have no clue why. It's not like we have a place to do it, or the wherewithal to buy the raw materials.

And we looked at refrigerators, mostly because the refrigerators were between the shoes and the sewing machines and because I couldn't believe the price tags on the refrigerators. I mean, for three grand, the damn thing better walk itself over to the table and set out a bowl of cereal and milk for everyone for breakfast, and wash up afterward. (So far, that feature has been absent from refrigerators, but Its Day Will Come.)

It was a welcome change of pace from the last time we went to the mall, because we didn't have a purpose other than to chew up two hours. After the mall opened, Lani tried on some clothes at Limited Too. (Yes, it was a shock to me too.) We dithered.

Then we ran to the Firestone because we had used up more than our allotted two hours. It was all in all a much calmer time, and I really only wanted to yell "Pull up yer pants!" about twice the whole time.

(And no...I don't want to try your damn moisturizer, pal. Do I LOOK like I want to try your damn moisturizer?)

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Strange Brouhaha Mk II

Welcome to Strange Brouhaha Mk II. Strange Brouhaha Mk I will remain available at its old address, although I'll probably change that site eventually and remove SB from the index page. Don't worry, though, all of those priceless CNN and NYT and Salon reprints aren't going to go anywhere unless TPTB at decide to dropkick the web server through a window.

As before, expect daily updates on all manner of weird subjects. That's "daily," barring unforeseen circumstances. Here I am thinking of fire, flood, tornadoes, and Free Pie Day down at the pie store.

Fair warning: I'll be messing with the layout over the next few weeks until I get things looking the way I want them to. Expect changes.