Strange Brouhaha

Monday, October 30, 2006

It Begins Soon

Look forward to somewhat lighter posting for the next month. I'm going to try to spend as much of my available time as possible working on my NaNoWriMo project. Tonight and tomorrow night for planning...then the writing starts.

We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Saturday Six

Patrick was the victim of the same problem I was having with posting. Here's yesterday's Saturday Six.

1. Have you ever joined one of those "social networking" communities like "Friendster" or "Myspace?" Would you ever consider it?

2. Do you think that lasting friendships can be made solely through sites like those?

3. Has reduced prices in gasoline prompted you to drive more?

4. Take the quiz: What kind of sports car are you? (Thanks, Charley!)

5. Which phone do you use the most: your home phone, your work phone, or your cell phone? Of the remaining two, which do you use the least?

6. In the old days, telephone numbers used to be word and letter combinations. The telephone company would take the first two digits of a phone number, create a word that began with two letters corresponding to the numbers in the digits, and then follow the word with the rest of the number. So, for a number that began with 25, they might use the "A" from the 2 button and the "L" from the 5 button and create a phone number like "Alpine 2-6341. If we went back to this system, come up with a word that would work for the first two digits of your phone number. (It can be work, home or cell...just don't post your whole number!

1. No, no, and hell no. Actually, I'm not necessarily against such things. It's more like I don't see the point. How valid, for example, is MySpace as a "social network" if I can add, say, "Weird Al" Yankovic to my friends list and he can add me? There are people who will add anyone to their lists...does that mean you really have any sort of relationship? I suspect that MySpace is more of an advertising scheme than anything else.

2. No. But maybe that's just me. I've had online-only friendships, but none of them have ever been as real or as lasting as the friendships I've formed with actual people. Who knows, maybe it's possible. I'll believe it when I see it.

3. The reality is that the spike in gas prices didn't affect our driving habits in the slightest. We have places we need to go and things we need to do, and they need to be gone to and done regardless. We don't go out driving for pleasure, really. So the answer to the question is "no."

4. I wouldn't mind driving one of these. The best driving experience I've ever had was behind the wheel of my cousin's RX-7. I'm pretty sure I had it up near 100 and it was smooth as really smooth stuff.

I'm a Mazda RX-8!

You're sporty, yet practical, and you have a style of your own. You like to have fun, and you like to bring friends along for the ride, but when it comes time for everyday chores, you're willing to do your part.

5. I probably use my cell phone the most, because it's the phone we use for long distance calls. Of the two remaining, I use my home phone the least. The people I talk to the most are my wife and daughter--you can figure out the rest.

6. Just one? That's no challenge, especially given that I've got the very tasty VE and TE to work with. I don't think there are any words that the other combinations would yield. (My letters, by the way are (T|U|V) and (D|E|F).) At a glance, I could get UDder and that's about it. UFfizi, I guess, if I were feeling arty. VEgetable. VErify. VEritas. VEndor. VEst. TErrain. TEnnis. TEnebrae. TErrific. TErrible. TErrify. There are lots and lots of words.

The Sunday Seven

Patrick's Sunday Seven is all about my favorite topic: food.

Name up to seven foods popular at fairs or carnivals that you either once loved or still do.

Mmmm, carnivals. Iolani used to have a great carnival--or at least, it was great to me when I was 14. The whatever-the-heck-it-is they have now, with no rides and no games, seems to me to just be a sad, sad shadow of the last great heyday of the Iolani carnival. (To be honest, though...I always liked the food best. And games. Rides...yeah, we went on 'em, but they weren't my favorites.)

1. Malasadas. Yes, I know you've never heard of them, but they're popular where I come from. It's basically a big donut with no hole, fried and sprinkled with (for the purist) granulated sugar. If it doesn't come from Leonard's, it was made by poseurs.

2. Funnel cake.

3. KC Drive Inn Waffle Dog. The late, lamented KC Drive Inn owned a tiny slice of history. It will be missed. The waffle dog was exactly what it sounds like--a corn dog, but made with waffle batter. Crunchy on the outside doggy on the inside.

4. Cotton candy.

5. Huli chicken. Not strictly carnival food, but fairs and carnivals are probably the easiest place to get huli chicken. For those of you not from Hawaii, huli chicken is kind of a cross between smoked chicken and barbecue chicken. It's good.

6. Shave ice. Another item that is not strictly carnival food, but always present at the carnival. You may refer to it as a snow cone if you like: a ginormous mound of shaved ice with your choice of flavored syrup poured over it (my favorite: strawberry). Best served with ice cream or azuki beans, assuming you feel like paying for it. Not strictly necessary.

7. Chili and rice.

Blogger problems

I've been having problems with posting since Friday; Blogger was giving me some weird error and not publishing anything at all. The solution--God knows why--was to change site templates. In addition, it appears that in order to publish, I need to continually change templates. This is stupid. I'll try to research the problem. So things will look different for a while.

One other thing: my NaNoWriMo winner's badge is gone for some reason. I assume that there are problems with its server at imageshack.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Larry Gelbart's Things To Remember

Ken Levine posted a list sent to him by Larry Gelbart of things to remember for the upcoming election.

Read the comments, too. Frankly, I think the first ten items on Gelbart's list far outweigh any possible counterargument that assholes propose.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Four For Friday

It's Four For Friday, from

Q1 - Image: Does it bother you that the rest of the world seems to hate the United States? Do you think the U.S. has to change its politics or simply do a more effective job at public relations?

Q2 - Education: Which do you feel is the best environment for children's education, single sex or co-ed?

Q3 - Convenience: The 2007 Lexus LS has a feature that helps its driver parallel park or back the vehicle into a parking space. At the touch of a button, the 'Advanced Parking Guidance System' automatically parallel parks the LS or backs it into a parking space with just a little brake work by the driver. If this feature were available for your car, would you use it?

Q4 - Work: If you had to choose between working in sales or customer service, which would you choose?

1. Image: Yes, of course it bothers me. I don't think there's anyone who revels in the idea that the U.S. is widely reviled, with the possible exception of George W. Bush. It probably makes him feel all manly to piss all over the world. I think that we need to both change policies and do more effective P.R., although I think that the former would lead naturally to the latter. The latter without the former, of course, would be hollow and meaningless.

2. Education: Excellent question. I have no problems with single-sex education; I went to a school that admitted only boys in the lower grades, and had two years of single-sex education. I tend to buy all of the "less distraction" arguments on the pro side, but I also understand the "less socialization" arguments on the anti side. I do know this: I saw recently, somewhere, that there was a study that said that women who were told that women had trouble with math and science had trouble with math and science, and women who were told that women did not have trouble with math and science did not have trouble with math and science. Something like that. So if you have daughters, encourage them constantly. Anyway, back to the question: I don't think it matters. Good teachers and a good learning environment matter more than single-sex or co-ed.

3. Convenience: I wonder what happens if the driver of the Lexus declines to do "a little brake work," whatever that may mean. This doesn't sound very automatic to me. I wouldn't use it; I prefer to control as much as possible when I'm driving. The only reason I drive an automatic transmission is because I'm not the only one who has to drive our car--but I am the only one who knows how to drive a manual transmission.

4. Work: Since I have to choose, I'd choose customer service. Although neither of those things would be my first choice, I think that I'd do far worse at sales.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What's hump day without the Wednesday Mind Hump?

From Blogdrive Insanity, the Wednesday Mind Hump for today.

1. What are some of your favorite books, and why? I have so many favorite books that it's hard to narrow it down to just "some," but I'll try. Let's see...

  • Every so often, I pull out my now-battered copies of Peter David's "Photon" novels, along with "Photon: Thieves of Light" by Michael Hudson. "Photon" was a laser-tag type game and a short-lived TV series which I loved when I was a kid. By "kid," I mean I was 15 or 16, but probably closer to 16 because I clearly remember buying some of Peter "David Peters" David's series in college. The series, and Hudson's novel (actually written by Michael P. Kube-McDowell), had a lot of elements in it that I had been working on in my own crap at the time, so I was drawn to it. I always said that Hudson's book was Photon as it should have been, and David's books were Photon as it was. The Photon novel series was humorous and filled with a lot of comic-book inside jokes (for example, three guards named Sien, Kie and Wicz, and another pair named Walt and Weezy).

  • "The Rings of the Master" series by Jack L. Chalker is another of my favorites. A ragtag band of humans needs to stop the Master Computer, but to do this, they need to find the keys to shut it down. To get the keys, they need to infiltrate alien civilizations. It's good stuff, but not to everyone's taste.

  • The Ends of the Circle by Paul O. Williams was given to me by a friend, long ago, and it remains one of my favorite books. I never could get through any of the other books in the Pelbar Cycle, but this one held my imagination. I'll always remember two parts: the airplane people throwing up after Stel gives them their first good food in years, and the Shumai who run everywhere.

  • Starborn by John Nelson was another long-ago gift from another friend. Also very good.

  • It's not really a book, but to me Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac remains one of the greatest works of literature ever written.

2. How many books do you read during a typical month? Five or six, of various stripes. That's not counting "graphic novels" or anything, which can number in the double digits depending on what's new at the library.

3. Where do you buy most of your books? Either or Barnes & Noble. Usually Barnes & Noble, because they're right down the street and because I have their discount card.

4. Recommend a good book to me (and your readers). Hmm. Let me think for a second. You know, I just reread The Westing Game, and it's still really good. Unfortunately, because it has such a distinctive solution, you can never discover it twice--but it's still worth reading and re-reading. If you like thrillers, read anything by Lee Child (but especially Persuader). Science fiction, try The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Music Mambo

I thought today's Monday Music Mambo from Blogdrive Insanity was interesting, so here it is.

1. If you could play any musical instrument, which would you choose?

2. If you started your own band, what kind of music would be played? How many members would there be, and what instruments would everyone play?

3. If you could manage an artist or band's career, which artist or band would you want to manage?

4. Make up your own question here and answer it!

1. Instrument that I play a bit but want to play better: piano. Instrument that I don't play and want to learn: bagpipes (more specifically, Uilleann pipes). I'd play anything, though. Got any instruments you don't want?

2. I wouldn't mind playing in a jazz band, maybe a quartet: piano, bass, drums and some kind of melody instrument like clarinet, flute, or sax.

3. How much of a cut do managers get? Quite frankly, I'd sell out and manage whoever would make me the most money.

4. Q: Name one music-related thing you'd like to accomplish before you die. A: I wouldn't mind writing a musical. It requires skills that I don't have at the moment, though. Perhaps the NaNoWriMo people will have a NaNoMuMo some year, in addition to the upcoming Script Frenzy.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Based on what?

According to CNN, Barack Obama is considering running for President.

I don't quite understand why people want this. I mean, yes, he gave a great speech at the Democratic convention, but...what has he done that makes people think that his being President would be a good idea? What can you point to, in his career, that makes you say, "Yeah, it's great, he can do it!"

Granted, he would be better than any Republican you could name. But a speech does not a career make.

Saturday Six, one day late

Here's yesterday's Saturday Six from Patrick's Weekender.

1. Who is the last person who you spoke to by telephone?

2. Who is the last person you spoke to online?

3. Which of the two have you seen more in person?

4. Take the quiz: How is your self-esteem?

5. What is the longest period of time you have gone without internet service since you became a "regular user?"

6. How much did the lack of internet availability bother you?

1. My daughter. I was out this afternoon and trying to remember something we had discussed, so I called home and had her remind me.

2. Homey don't play that. IM is the tool of the devil.

3. Obviously, I need to default on this question to my answer for number 1.

4. Hmmm.
You Have Low Self Esteem 76% of the Time

You tend to blame yourself when things go wrong, regardless of whether it's your fault or not.
You're anxious to please others and rely too much on their opinions. Learn to please yourself first, and your confidence will soar.

5. When we were stranded in Chicago, I was without Internet access for...what was it, three days? Two and a half? Something like that.

6. To be honest, those two or three days didn't bother me as much as the times when I had to be awway from Star Wars Galaxies or World of Warcraft. There's Internet acces and there's Internet access; just because you go to a place that has Internet access (example: Hawaii) doesn't mean that you have the machine that you use to play games. There's more to the Internet than just having access--when I would go on a trip or what have you, I wouldn't be without the Internet, but I would be without the things that I consider important about the Internet. Now that I don't play those things anymore, it's much better.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The problem with the Bush administration, writ small

I read a story today from Ken Ward at the Charleston Gazette, courtesy of It just illustrates all of the problems with the Bush administration. It will get no play anywhere because it's a fairly obscure story, but it's telling.

Our Dear Leader has nominated Richard Stickler as the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Richard Stickler's nomination was returned without a vote twice previously, an indication that the Senate considers him totally unacceptable. Stickler was faced with vigorous opposition from the mine-workers' union UMWA, among others--Stickler is a mining-industry insider who managed mines that were among the most-frequently cited for safety violations.

The nomination was rejected twice, so what does The Decider do? Finds someone else, right?

(A hollow voice says, "Fool.")

Of course not. He waits until the Senate recesses and then resubmits the nomination, creating a recess appointment that's going to leave Stickler in the position, according to the article, until the end of 2007.

This is typical of how Bush operates. It's disgusting. It's like putting Jesse James in charge of bank security. Or the fox in charge of the henhouse. It perfectly displays Bush's total disregard for the will of the people.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Project Runway recap

I don't know what fashion design is. Heck, I don't even know what design is--but in thinking about last night's (and last season's) Project Runway, I arrived at something that I consider a useful working definition: design combines functionality with an aesthetic sense, sort of the way that anybody can make an MP3 player but only Apple can make an iPod. In other words, it's a balance of form and function, not favoring one over the other.

(My friends who are professional designers of any stripe are free to correct me, of course, but that's the definition I'm going with. I have no idea how well or poorly it relates to fashion design, but we work with the tools we have, I guess.)

In that respect, I can understand, looking back, why Santino Rice didn't win season 2: he's not a designer. He's an artist whose medium happens to be textiles. Don't get me wrong, I loved his work. I responded positively to pretty much everything that he made, and I really liked his final collection. I was pissed that Chloe Dao's upholstery carried the day. But--Santino was all about aesthetics, and functionality came in a distant second.

Given that, Chloe was the natural choice for a winner; her clothes well-executed if ugly (at least to me and to Santino, who said "It looked like a couch coming down the runway"), and she was already a successful businesswoman with the maturity to understand the fashion world. The other competitor, Daniel Vosovic, had good-but-incomplete items, as I recall, and some questionable choices and non-cohesiveness in his collection.

Fast-forward to season 3, which concluded last night in a pretty emotional final episode. The winner, Jeffrey Sebelia, was one of my favorites this season, even though he was like an angry, charmless Santino. His designs were always interesting and you could tell that, of all of the designers, he was the one with A Vision: he never went to the same well twice (unlike most of the others) but you could tell that his work was his work. Even his bad stuff (ugh, the Madonna dress) came from a recognizable point of view.

The Internet is abuzz with horror that Jeffrey won, mostly because (or so it seems) Project Runway fans are divided into two camps: "Jeffrey is a horrible person because he made Angela's mother cry" and "Shut up, you idiots, she deserved it." You can guess which camp I fall into; there are times when you have to divorce the messenger from the message. Plus she did deserve it. The thing is, at least according to my functional definition above, there could have been no other outcome.

The final four contestants (Jeffrey, Michael Knight, Uli Herzner and Laura Bennett) were the best finalists the show has had in its three seasons. Each had their own strengths and weaknesses: Jeffrey was a great designer but a lousy person and prone to taking his aesthetic sense a bit too far; Michael had a great ability to think his designs through, but a lot of the times his thinking was just plain wrong; Uli worked extremely well with prints but her clothes had far, far too much sameness through the season; and Laura was a top-notch constructor but suffered from a dated aesthetic vision and, like Uli, a tendency to one-note.

I class Laura and Uli together: they are phenomenal makers-of-clothes. They are not designers. This is not a knock; I am quite sure that they will both have more work than they know what to do with. As Heidi Klum said, these are clothes that women will want to wear.

The problem, then, is that they both lean much more heavily towards the "functionality" part of my working definition of design. Laura's and Uli's final collections were filled with beautiful clothes (although when I saw Laura's first few items, all I could think of was "What year is this?", and Uli's first few items were all from the same dull color palette [she was telling a story with her clothes, though, so that ended up working well]). But they were clothes, and though they were very nice clothes, they were clothes first and foremost. Although Uli was, I think, trying to tell a story, there was no cohesiveness of vision in her collection or in Laura's. Yes, they made nice things--Michael Kors said that Laura's collection made $8,000 (the budget that each finalist was given for their collection) look like $30,000, and he was right--but in the end, they both made clothes, not designs.

Michael and Jeffrey were the designers in the bunch. They both had visions, and both presented designs instead of clothes. Michael, the fan favorite (I confess to not understanding why), sent some horrible crap down the runway, but you could tell that he had thought about it. His thinking was seriously, seriously flawed, but it was easy to see that he was reaching for something and that his clothes, while terrible, were wearable and were also at least trying to reach towards whatever his vision was.

Jeffrey sent out designs. Wearable, sure (maybe except for one dress), and distinct from each other, but also part of a cohesive whole that not one of the other finalists was able to match. They were functional, but function was not their primary object; they were brilliantly conceived and executed, but that was not the primary object either. Jeffrey's was the only collection that harmoniously balanced the two factions.

The final two contestants, at the judging, were well-chosen. Michael was swiftly and deservedly given the boot, as was Laura. It came down to Jeffrey and Uli.

There are people who say Uli was robbed. I can see where they're coming from, but I disagree. She concentrated on making clothes, and while her clothes did tell a story (it was neat; she started out with a fairly drab palette and segued into very nice prints, the way her life started out in East Germany and segued to Miami) they were still just clothes. Very nice clothes, but clothes. Project Runway is a design competition, and the best designer was Jeffrey. He combined wearability with design and a clear through-line.

The other thing I noticed was that they all, to a greater or lesser extent, quoted from their own work this season. Laura, in particular, seemed to have made variations of at least five of her contest challenges. Uli used the same print in her final collection that she used in one of her winning projects. Michael was clearly trying to recapture the "magic" of his Pam Grier outfit (which I didn't get; that thing never should have won). Even Jeffrey quoted his winning couture-type gown.

All in all, this has been a very interesting season. It has been the most bitter and acrimonious, but very satisfying to watch. Bring on season 4!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Windows Vista

I had to install the latest release candidate of Windows Vista at work today.

Here are my impressions.

The good:

  • The installation time is lightning quick compared to Windows XP. The base install of XP took about 40-45 minutes the last time I did it, and that's not counting two hours worth of downloading updates. Compared to that, the Vista install was a breeze.

  • It actually works well on the low-end hardware that I installed it on. I have no problems using Vista on a P4 2.2 with 512MB of RAM and a video card that was top dog when a TNT2 was the thing to have (that's about 8 years ago). I'm not running the pretty effects, but I wouldn't even if I could because I hate that crap.

  • No more super-annoying "I can't find the driver for your device!" nags, at least not that I saw. I have a few weirdo things in my computer at work, and XP and 2K always complain about them. Vista did not, and I really appreciate that.

The bad/ugly:

(I'm combining the bad and the ugly because, quite frankly, most of these things are both.)

  • By default, you have to verify that you want to run Every. Single. Program. It doesn't sound that annoying when it's part of a product spec, and I guess you get used to it as a QA person, but...OH MY GOD IT SUCKS. When you double-click a program, you have to then click another button that says, basically, "Yes, I really did want to run this program." I understand why they do it, but it's going to get really old, really fast.

  • Continuing the first item, whenever you install a driver, you have to verify that the installation ran. This one I don't get. It's possible that it's because I wasn't installing Vista-specific drivers because there aren't any for most of my hardware. But it was still annoying. Could be that you need to verify every installation, too, not just drivers.

  • (Caveat: I'm complaining about this one mostly because it screwed up my workflow.) It's HUGE. If you're like me and you like to keep the OS on its own partition, watch the disk space. 8GB is no longer enough. I installed the OS and video and audio drivers and I was near 7.5GB. What the hell is in there? XP with complete updates and drivers for every obscure piece of hardware that I have is half that! Vista is as bad as Mac OS X.

  • Did I mention the bit about verifying that you want to run programs? HATE IT.

Basically my objection to Vista is this: it Gets In The Way. It is constantly interrupting you, keeping you from Just Working. The bad here outweighs all of the good. I'm sticking with XP at home for a long time to come.

Long Distance

It's Long Distance Day at Blogdrive Insanity.

1. What's the longest distance you've ever traveled? 4200 or so miles, which is the distance from Chicago to Honolulu. I made that trip fifteen times in college.

2. What's the longest distance you've ever walked? That's a good question. I've been on some fairly long hikes, and of course we had to walk everywhere in college, but those weren't distances that I measured or anything like that. The longest measured distance I've ever walked was three miles, which was the distance from my former office to home. I walked that a few times. I'm probably forgetting some long death-march slog that I've been on.

3. How far away is the friend/relative who lives the longest distance from you? Unless I have relatives or friends who live in Eastern Europe or India or South Africa or somewhere like that, the answer is about 4100 miles, which is the distance from Madison to Honolulu. Actually, I know someone who lives in Tokyo, which is about 6100 miles from here.

Louis Renault would be proud

"I'm shocked," goes the line in Casablance, "shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

The context, of course, is that Claude Rains' Captain Renault is a regular at the back-room casino at Rick's.

For a similar experience, read Glenn Greenwald's post about the Republican outrage that private sexual matters are being used for political purposes.

And while we're at it, read about James Dobson being angry at Keith Olbermann because Olbermann quoted him correctly.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

What year is this again?

I'm watching CNN and they're talking about the big quake (6.3, apparently) that hit Hawaii this morning. Power's out all over, phones are jammed, cell towers are down, etc. etc. What's-her-name on CNN is talking to a reporter from somewhere who happens to be vacationing on the Big Island relatively near the epicenter of the quake.

The reason for "What year is this again?" Well, the vacationing reporter was happy that he had earlier been able to reach his family...wait for it...wait...waaaaait...."back in the United States."


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Your questions answered!

Okay, question. But still--I hear the voice of the people and I respond!

Josh asked: "Based on your power, can we assume that Hiro is your favorite Hero?"

Hell, yeah. Hiro's segments have been the most consistently interesting. I think the actor is really engaging--and yeah, he has the best power, too. He's had the best moments in the show; in the second episode, when they had the confusion over the dates, you know, at the end, I was practically jumping up out of my chair at what happened next. In the third episode, even though I knew he was going to rescue the girl because we saw it in the comic, I was shouting at the TV when he did it.

My favorites so far are Hiro and the cop, Parkman.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Just titles?

Today's Top 5 on Friday from The Music Memoirs asks for your top 5 album titles. Note that this is not the same as your five favorite albums.

Here are mine.

1. Flying in a Blue Dream (Joe Satriani; honorable mention to Surfing with the Alien)

2. Scumdogs of the Universe (GWAR)

3. Disraeli Gears (Cream)

4. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (The Beatles)

5. Pithecanthropus Erectus (Charles Mingus)

Thursday, October 12, 2006


National Novel Writing Month starts in 19 days. I put this year's participant icon up already, mostly because if I don't do it now, while I'm thinking about it, I may never do it.

Isn't it purty?

Update: I activated my profile. Also, pursuant to the comment from the Mrs., I've dug out the "What have you learned" post from last year.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What a shocker

Really, this is just continuing the trend of the Bush Administration's inability to own up to the fact that George W. Bush is a miserable failure and the worst president ever. But still...have these people no shame? (No.)

9/11, according to various jackasses, was Clinton's fault. New Orleans' state of disrepair was apparently Clinton's fault. Pretty much everything bad that George W. Bush has done was actually, in this fantasy world, the fault of Bill Clinton and Democrats. Mark Foley? Not a predator at all, but an alcoholic abuse victim set up by Democrats and gay operatives working to subvert the Republican party.

Now this: North Korea has nuclear weapons and it's all Bill Clinton's fault.

Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Monday Music Mambo

Here's the Monday Music Mambo from Blogdrive Insanity. It's interesting--you get to take musicians to lunch!

First, tell us where you're going and what kind of food they serve.

Next, choose one person for each category to invite to lunch. They can be alive or not-so-aliv.:

A guitar player
A lead singer
A woman
A Beatle
A country artist
The least-famous member of your favorite band.

I'd take my lunch posse to Hubbard Avenue Diner. They serve diner-type food and have great pie. Well, very good pie. (And by the way, I'm assuming here that it has to be somewhere that I can afford to take six people. If it's sky's-the-limit, screw it--we're going to The French Laundry.)

Now, for the crew: Jim Hall, Geddy Lee, Alison Kraus, Paul McCartney, Natalie Maines, and, uh...I'll have to get back to you on that last one. I can't think of a "favorite" band right now.

Monday Madness for Tuesday

Here's today's Monday Madness. Yeah, technically it's Tuesday morning, but until I go to bed, it's still Monday. (Talk about power over time and space!)

1. From amaranth:
Name three people you would pick (and why) if you could choose who to be stranded on a deserted island with.

2. From julie:
What is your favorite genre of film and what is your favorite movie from that genre?

3. From tiffany:
Which country would you like to visit and why?

4. From wil:
What are you driving these days? What's it's (their) good and bad points? Would you buy another one, and why or why not?

5. From cindy swanson:
"Lost," "24," or both?

6. From lady starlight:
You've been very good this year. What should Santa bring you for Christmas? (the sky is the limit)

1. Well, we've done this before with a lot more choices, but assuming that I can't pick anyone from my family, I think I'll pick: Survivorman Les Stroud, because he can survive anywhere and would know what to do; Natalie Portman, because she's pretty and smart (Brooke Shields would work too) and would probably be able to hold a conversation; and someone else smart that I could talk to, like Woz.

2. Oook, this is hard. My favorite genre of movies is "good movies" and my favorite movie from that genre is probably either Stagecoach or The Searchers, and no, it's not really a coincidence that they're both Ford/Wayne collaborations.

3. I'd like to visit England. I'd like to visit there partly because I'm interested in the historical stuff and partly because it's the foreign country where I'd be most likely to understand what people are saying--and if I wanted to visit France or Germany, they're close by.

4. I'm driving a Ford Focus. The good: surprisingly roomy for a small car, good gas mileage, CD player, power windows and locks, passenger-side airbag, good pickup for a four-banger, not all crapped up with twelve years worth of accumulated garbage. The bad: I'm not a big fan of the color, we didn't get the power seats, no tachometer (a tach is useless to me, but it's nice to look at), the rearview mirror is in exactly the wrong place (a problem endemic to small cars, for me), wider enough than our old car that parking in the garage has become an adventure, lots of road noise at speed. I would buy another one. Whatever its shortcomings, it's a good car for the money.

5. Neither. I'll take Heroes and House, thanks.

6. Well, if the sky is the limit and I've been really good, I think Santa could leave a billion dollars under the tree this year. I'd carve out a small piece for myself and my family and use the rest to make the world a better place in whatever possible way.

Update: I added a title. Also, I realize that the whole conceit of Desert Island Companions is that you can pick whoever you want, but I find it kind of humorous that we think, "Well, naturally, these people would want to spend time with US!" Even on a desert island, where you think you'd have to spend time with the other castaways.

Ever bought a car?

If you've ever bought a car, you know that it can be a fairly unpleasant experience. Even if the salesperson is nice (and ours was; perhaps I haven't mentioned it, but after our Chicago odyssey we bought a new car), it's a grueling time. And even if your salesman isn't like Jerry Lundegaard, there's a lot of "let me talk to my manager" and that sort of thing.

Buying a computer shouldn't be like that. In theory, if you are buying a computer from a computer store, you should be able to say "give me that!" and hear "okay!" in return.

With that in mind, I can wholeheartedly say that if you are looking to buy a new Macintosh, you should avoid the CompUSA on the West side of Madison and just head straight to When you inform the salesman that yes, you have heard of AppleCare, and no, you are not interested, he will look at you like you are an idiot.

You will not like that.

When he shrugs and rolls his eyes and says "Okay" in a tone of voice, you will like it even less.

When he goes off to "see if they have one in stock" and comes back ten minutes later to say "my manager says we can knock fifty bucks off the price of the AppleCare," you will like it even less.

By the time he gets to "Do you want us to remove some of the installed applications and do the updates," with a hangdog look on his face like you've killed his best friend, you will simply growl out a "no" and ignore him, having abandoned "please" and "thank you" long since.

To sum up: you won't save any money by buying from Apple, but since you won't have to deal with a tone of voice when you click "none" for your AppleCare options, you'll come out ahead. Don't go to CompUSA.

Still, I wish the new computer was for us.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday Fiver

Yeah, there's a Friday Five and a Friday Fiver.

1) Name one of your bad habits: "I eat too much" is way too easy. How about "I prefer to play games (of any kind) over anything else, and as I result I tend to put things off in favor of doing crosswords or shooting rival gang members or moving chess pieces."

2) What do you expect from friends? I don't know, a sympathetic ear? I'm not sure how to answer this one, so I think I'll pass.

3) What is the last thing you wrote down? I assume that this means something written by hand to remind yourself of something. If not, then the last thing I "wrote" was a drawing I did last night. The last note I wrote to myself was to remind me of the steps I took to recreate a software bug.

4) What is the last favor you did for someone else? I guess it all depends on how you define favor. The application I'm working on at work right now ships in tandem with another, more complicated application. My part is done and ready to head out the door, so I told the QA lead on the other app that I'd help her team out if she needed it (one of her testers started vacation yesterday). I'm not sure if that counts as a favor, though; it's more like "pitching in to get the job done." Uh, I spent two hours dealing with my in-laws' car problems? No, that comes under "filial duty". Really, it depends; we all do things for each other all the time, every day--but do those things count as favors, or just as being human? I mean, I held the door open for someone at work yesterday when I didn't really need to; is that a favor, or just courtesy?

5) What is your favorite TV show? "Heroes". This week's show, once again, left my mouth hanging open in awe. The end was incredible. Honorable mention to House, LO:CI and LO:SVU.

The Friday Five

Here are the Friday Five questions for this week.

1. If you could have a super power, which one would you have? The ability to stop and start time at will. Possibly invisibility or shapeshifting, but really, you'd be pretty much invincible if you could stop time--as long as you could react quickly enough. You'd probably be the most dangerous guy in the room.
2. What would be your supername? I don't think I'd have one, because the ability to stop time would mean that you could do your heroics in secret, without a lot of flash. I'd be more like God, in Futurama: "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all."
3. Who would be your arch-nemesis and what would be their superpower? I have two ideas here. First, on the lighter side, my arch-nemesis would be Sneaks-Up-Behind-You-And-Knocks-You-Unconscious. Because that's about the only way that I get taken out if I've got the ability to stop time dead in its tracks. Second, on the more serious side, some kind of dark entity that prowls the stopped-time universe, seeking out and devouring those people who live between the seconds.
4. Who would be your sidekick and would they have a superpower? I don't know, I think I'd prefer someone in the Snapper Carr/Rick Jones/Tom Kalmaku vein--just some guy. It'd be useful to have a partner who could help rescue people.
5. What would be your motto? "Looks like these people need some help."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Tempest in a teapot

There's a story about "Internet abuse" at the Department of the Interior. I'd like to put the "OH MY GOD THAT EXTRAPOLATES OUT TO 100,000 HOURS A YEAR!" fearmongering in perspective: 100,000 hours a year for the Department of the Interior is about an hour and a quarter per employee per year. A little over a minute per employee per week, maybe fifteen to twenty seconds a day.

There's nothing to worry about here. Personal phone calls, time off for errands, a little bit of Internet use...whatever. (Yes, obviously, if they're using the time for illegal things like child pornography or hiring out a hit, that's a separate matter.) An eight-hour work day is probably more realistically a six-hour work day. And that's okay.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mind Hump day

Here's the Wednesday Mind Hump from Blogdrive Insanity.

Apple pie or pumpkin pie? Apple. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy pumpkin pie, but the hands-down classic "every day" pie is apple. Preferably cold. Whipped cream optional.

Cars or SUVs? Cars. If you have an actual need for an SUV--like you haul cargo a lot or you have five kids or you have to drive across ten miles of open country every day--then an SUV is fine. Otherwise, I fail to see a point.

Pen or pencil? There are few questions more difficult. Twenty years ago, the answer would have been all pencil, all the time. Fifteen years ago, all pen all the time. Now...pencil, I suppose. For me, it's more of an all-purpose tool. Then again, you can't scribble notes on your arm in pencil. Unless you press really hard.

Electric guitar or acoustic guitar? Jeez, what's with the hard questions? First the pies, then the writing implements, now this? I guess I'd choose the electric, because it's more convenient for me to record electric these days. But choosing between these two, really, is like asking which of your kids you love better.

Shower or bath? Shower. You get cleaner, quicker. Plus, I am over six feet tall and weigh only slightly less than a motorcycle. You want to try to cram me into a bathtub? I sure as hell don't.

Daffy Duck or Yogi Bear? While Yogi has the advantage of being smarter than the average bear, Daffy has the weight of history behind him. I pick Daffy.

Butter on a biscuit or jam on a biscuit? Butter. I'd pick jam if the biscuit was already buttered, but if I can only have one I'd rather have very cold butter on a very hot biscuit.

Bringing sexy back or dropping it like it's hot? Wow, I must be out of it. I mean, I get the Justin Timberlake reference, but what's "dropping it like it's hot" have to do with anything. I need a teenager to explain this to me. I guess the edge goes to Justin here, since he apparently uses the word "fuckers" in his song (twice!).

Maybe someday I'll take that trip to Europe after all

Those scientists better get cracking. Half a meter down, a few thousand kilometers to go.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Rethinking W

I had an epiphany today.

Here it is: George W. Bush is making this country safer from terrorists. His claim to that is absolutely, positively, one hundred percent true. It cannot be doubted.

Now, I can see you sitting there, brow furrowed in confusion, saying "Whoa, hold on, there, pardner! George W. Bush is the worst President in history! He lied us into a war against a non-existent enemy! His lackeys and toadies went in front of the world and lied about mountains of evidence, stockpiles of chemical weapons! He's an incompetent, bumbling idiot!" You know, and so on and so forth.

All true.

But it is also the case that, categorically, this country is safer today from terrorists than it ever has been--ever, in its entire history.

After all, if you accept that "the terrorists hate us for our freedoms," then surely you must also accept that he is giving them fewer reasons to hate us every day. Bush is a brilliant strategist. Thank you, George, for making us safe.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Why not? The Sunday Seven

The Sunday Seven for today from Patrick's.

Name your favorite sports teams, and for the less sports-educated, be sure to indicate the sport with which they're associated.

In no particular order:

1. Milwaukee Brewers (baseball)
2. Green Bay Packers (professional football)
3. University of Hawaii Warriors (college football, go 'bows!)
4. Ferrari (Formula 1 racing; I know, I know, racing isn't a sport)
5. University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball (college volleyball)
6. Indianapolis Colts (professional football; only because Peyton Manning is the best player on my fantasy team, so I need them to kick ass)
7. University of Wisconsin Badgers (college football)

As you can tell, I'm pretty much a homer. I root for the local teams because it's the thing to do; if we suddenly moved to Chicago, I'd be rooting for Northwestern and the Bears and...well, probably the Cubs because they're in the National League. I don't really have a do-or-die loyalty to any of these teams.

Yes, it's another Saturday Six

Patrick's Weekender is ever-reliable when it comes to posting the Saturday Six. Here's this week's Six.

1. You're arranging to move. If money were no object, would you hire movers to come in and pack your belongings as well as drive them, or would you prefer to do the packing yourself?

2. Of the new shows that have premiered so far this season, which were you most looking forward to seeing?

3. Did the show live up to your expectations?

4. Take the quiz: What type of lunatic are you?

5. What habit of yours would you say is the craziest?

6. What do you own more of: VHS Tapes, CDs, DVDs or Books?

1. There are things that I would want to pack (and move) myself--primarily the computers and video games. And our clothes. But if money truly was no object, I'd be just as happy to have movers packing up all the books, DVDs and CDs. And the dishes. And all that stuff.

2. I wasn't looking forward to any of them until NBC started pimping "Heroes" really hard a couple of weeks ago. So my answer, by default, is "Heroes".

3. It's pretty safe to say that it exceeded them, since I was expecting the show to suck. Instead, it blew me away. When they discovered the artist's paintings near the end ("We...have to...stop it..."), my jaw was on the floor. It's not perfect--there were a few things that you could see coming from a mile away--but that's okay.

4. Okay, but this quiz is another big lump of "Whatever". My result is a big picture of Hilary Duff with the words "Omigod! OMIGOD! You're like, sooo...NORMAL. Okay, so you may not be as funny, or as talented as your friends, and sure, people might say you're shallow, predictable, stuck-up, boring and have no personality, but like, who cares what those freaks think anyway? Like totally." I'd post it, but I don't really want Quizilla's HTML all over the place.

5. When I buy something (and by "something" I mean "anything other than produce") from a store, I always grab the second or third one back, if I can. I'll never take the thing in front or on top if I can help it. This goes for anything in any store; I'll take the second or third magazine from the back, the second or third newspaper down, the book from the bottom of the pile, the software box from the back of the row. Basically, I don't want to buy anything that it's possible that people have had their grubby hands and eyes on. I'd say that's probably the looniest thing, although my newspaper-reading habits were kind of obsessive, back when we got the Sunday paper regularly. (I would insist on keeping the newspaper in the exact same order it came in, among other things. Still do, but we don't regularly get the paper anymore, so I'm not sure that it still counts as a habit.)

6. Books, by at least 6:1 over CDs. Probably more. I'm fairly sure that our books number in the multiple thousands; just from my seat here in the living room, I can lay eyes on just under 200 books of various types. Our bedrooms are covered in books, the basement is piled high with books, the computer room bookshelves are full. Next in line is CDs, followed probably by DVDs and then video tapes. We may have more tapes than DVDs, but if the question is intended to ask about prerecorded material, as opposed to "We taped every single Buffy episode when they aired on TV," then we don't have very many tapes.