Strange Brouhaha

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tina's Tuesdays

Tina's Tuesdays is all about email this week, and I'm mostly answering it so that I can confess the embarrassing answer to the first question.

1. How many email accounts do you have? . Two that came from my ISP. One at work. Two email addresses for this blog. Two for The Wife's website. Two for the eventual update to this website. Three throwaway gmail accounts for registrations. Two other gmail accounts. One at my father-in-law's website. I'm also fairly sure that I have a yahoo/geocities address. That makes sixteen, which is probably about ten too many.

2. How often do you check these accounts? The one at work, of course, is checked automatically and constantly through the day without my having to do anything about it. My own personal email account from my ISP is pretty much the same; I check it a lot from work, and the home computer polls it every five minutes. The three gmail throwaways I'll look at once a month or less just to see how much spam I'm getting and from where. In fact, I only check my gmail accounts rarely. The account at my father-in-law's website automatically forwards to my ISP account. The other website accounts I check about once a day.

3. What was one of the best or worst emails you have ever got? One of my favorite emails was from someone who was actually using my LaTex playwriting package. It was kind of cool to think that someone I didn't know and had never met was deriving a little bit of use from something I had done.

Five...times five...that's twenty five, isn't it?

I'm going to have to come up with 25 things for Take 5 Tuesday, but that's okay because I did it last week too.

1. 5 of your favorite blogs. noise-to-signal, Gizmodo, Boing Boing, Sadly, No!, and By Ken Levine. I consider Glenn Greenwald (you may need to click past an ad) to be essential reading, sort of an emeritus in this category.

2. 5 things you bought recently. Uh, gosh. This doesn't say the last five things, just five recent things. Let's see: A 1 GB Memory Stick M2 for my cell phone (works like a charm, but I wish the phone used MicroSD instead); lunch at Nick's Restaurant on State Street (very good mushroom-swiss burger); Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey (haven't had a chance to look at it yet); breakfast at Hubbard Avenue Diner in Middleton (I had a Denver omelet, which was really good--and I don't usually like green peppers); and a book on comedy writing, the title of which escapes me at the moment.

3. 5 of your favorite sports to watch. In this order: Volleyball, University of Hawaii football, Green Bay Packers football, baseball (in a stadium), and Formula 1 racing. Honorable mentions to roller derby and professional wrestling.

4. 5 of your favorite numbers, (if you actually have 5 of them.) Pi (3.1415926535), e (2.718281828), Avogadro's number (6.0221415 x 10^23), c (the speed of light, 186,282.397 miles per second) and, of course, the number of dull people it takes to change a light bulb.

5. 5 completely random things. Completely random? First, there are three pens in the organizer on my desk. Second, the capital of New York is Albany. Third, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore. Fourth, when the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. Finally, it turns out that I do not know the way to San Jose.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Run, Ralph, run...AWAY.

Ralph Nader is running for President.

The Wife and I agree that he must be a Karl Rove operative or some kind of stupid, unethical narcissist.

Does he not remember or care what happened in 2000? Does he not understand that while he is not solely responsible for the George W. Bush presidency, he bears a certain amount of responsibility for it?

This is just another picture to go next to the dictionary definition of "asshole".

Friday, February 22, 2008

Haiku and Limerick time

This week, Mad Kane asks us to contemplate time. I probably would have written a haiku similar to hers, but now that that's out, I guess I'll have to try to be original. DARN IT!

First of all, I'm reminded of the famous limerick that goes

There was a young woman named Bright
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She set out one day
In a relative way,
And returned on the previous night.

Anyway, time is one of my favorite subjects. Is time really just there to keep everything from happening at once? Or is it some kind of benevolent force?

A philosopher,
Wiser than I am, once sang,
"Time is on my side."

"The Planet of the Apes" (the original; did you know that Rod Serling co-wrote the script?) is on TV right now; here's a limerick about that.

Taylor got into a scrape,
and was caught when he tried to escape.
As he hung in the net,
he snarled a threat:
"Get 'em off me, you damn dirty ape!"

Now, technically, since "Apes" is a time-travel movie, that could count as a limerick about time, couldn't it? Couldn't it?

Well, no, not really.

So here's one, it's based on an oldie but goodie about a man whose wife's overuse of a certain phrase has him ticked off.

Said the man to his wife, "I'll admit,
when you say 'Just a sec!', I could spit!
To its use I object!
No more secs! No more secs!"
And then sheepishly, "Well, just a bit."

Thursday, February 21, 2008


No, not for your favorite Presidential candidate (although you should do that, too)--for your favorite SNL cast member. The Tribune has put together a little tournament, which I went to courtesy of the fine, upstanding Sir F. Crisp, that would have been better (if, sadly, unwieldy and completely unmanageable) if they had actually included all of the cast members.

I took the time to vote (Murray, Crystal, Aykroyd, Hartman in the Martin Region, Morgan, Curtin, Poehler and Murphy in the Baldwin, Farley, Carvey, Hooks and Radner in the Goodman, and Myers, Chase, Lovitz and Belushi in the Hanks). This is important stuff.

Please note that some of my choices were predicated on the basis of who I hated the least; for example, I would vote for pretty much anyone before voting for the likes of Ferrell and Sandler.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tales From Q School

I've written a little bit in this space about how much I like John Feinstein; the last book of his that I read and reviewed was Next Man Up, his volume about the Baltimore Ravens' 2004 season.

In that review, I wrote:

The writing is typical Feinstein. He's a great sportswriter, which means that the prose tends to be a bit purple sometimes. If you've read any of his superlative golf books, you know what I mean and you know that, at least the way Feinstein does it, it's extremely gripping. Feinstein, for me, has two unique gifts: first, he can make the boring seem exciting; and second, he just has a way of making you say "Man, I want to do that!"

I just finished reading Feinstein's "Tales From Q School", and while I would still recommend it--as I do all of his books--it's a little bit of a letdown. I love reading Feinstein's books for the drama and the tension, and there's very little of it here. Only towards the end, where Bill Haas needs a birdie on the last hole at the Q School finals, do we get the trademark Feinstein verve and energy, that "Holy crap!" moment.

Still, Feinstein makes a person say "I want to do that!" While it wasn't as strong as it was after, say, "A Good Walk Spoiled," I still got the feeling that I wanted to go buy a set of clubs and head out on the Tour.

Even if you don't like golf, or sports in general, you could do a lot worse than to read this book.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Take5 Tuesday

I'm not sure if I've ever tried Take5 Tuesday before. I don't think I have, it looks pretty new. Here's today's.

1. 5 of your favorite words. Defenestration, of course, followed by onomatopoeia, conflagration, noisome, and wizened.
2. 5 of your favorite quotes. These are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I probably have others that are more favorite than these, but these bubbled up first.
When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always. (Gandhi)

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember what you said. (My dad)

Three men can keep a secret, if two of them are dead. (Franklin))

That's the biz, sweetheart. (Remo Williams)

Come with me if you want to live. (The Terminator)

3. 5 things you like about your job, (if you have one.) I work with interesting technology, usually before it's released in this country. I get paid pretty well. I have a great staff. Every so often I'll be watching TV and I'll hear and/or see things that I know have been made with the products that go through my department. And last but not least, I'm back to playing guitar at work, for work. (Occasionally.)
4. 5 places you would like to live. Madison WI, Honolulu HI, New York NY (only if I was rich), Chicago IL (ditto), London England.
5. 5 things you like about blogging, (or the internet in general. First, information is never more than a few clicks away; accurate information may take a bit longer to uncover. Second, blogging forces me to write at least a little bit. Third, it sort of relieves me of the responsibility of sending out "Here's what we did this year" letters, at which I would be terrible. Fourth, it saves stamps when I want to write a letter. (And yes, I realize that I'm spending the equivalent of six books of stamps to be on the Internet every month. But all I have to do for that is write a check!) Fifth, memes like this one are a great way to make a person think about his life.

Polling place humor

I went to vote today, on my way home from work.

One of our neighbors was working at the polling place. I don't know how they do it where you live, but here there are two people who each check your name against the list of registered voters. I gave my name to the woman who was not my neighbor, and dutifully spelled it out. My neighbor said, "He's the father of that very tall, beautiful girl who was in here."

"Well," said the lady. "I can see where she gets the tall from!"

I said, "And the beautiful!"

They both just laughed. My neighbor handed over the little ticket that means "give this person a ballot." It's the kind of process that makes a lot more sense if the place to pick up the ballot is more than a step to the right, but I'm sure there's some kind of well thought-out reason behind their not being able to just hand me a ballot and cut out the middleman.

Anyway, the middleman--another nice older lady--said, "Were you flirting with those two ladies?"

"No," I said, "I was just trying to get them to admit that my daughter gets 'beautiful' from me!"

She just laughed, too.

I would have liked to take it a bit further with the mock outrage, but there were people stacked up behind me.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm glad humans don't have three feet

If we did, we'd be waiting for the third shoe to drop.

It started raining through the chimney again...then pouring through the living room light...then dripping through the ceiling between the chimney and the light.

And the furnace went out again. Yay for emergency fees.

The rain in the living room is mostly stopped now that the weather outside has gone back below freezing, and it will stay there for at least the next week, giving the condo association guys time to get up there and knock all the ice dams out. And the furnace repair guy is working to get our heat back now.

This is kind of like having both nineteen inches of rain AND nineteen inches of snow. This morning I went out to get some sidewalk salt, and there was flooding in a few places--like right near the place that's supposed to absorb all of the runoff. That's not to mention the lake that is our front walk. (I stepped into it in slippers today. It was less cold than you'd might imagine. No, I did not do that purpose.)

I'm about ready to throw in the towel. Spring is going to be hell.

We'd better have a mild summer.

Friday, February 15, 2008

It's Limerick and Haiku Time

Mad Kane's Limerick and Haiku prompt for today is all about bad jobs.

I've blogged about some of the jobs I've held before, so this is not new territory--except of course for the limerick-and-haiku part.

Not really about a bad job, more like a unique job. For the State of Hawaii, I helped conduct a survey for the replacement of ballast in all of the flourescent light fixtures in the State's public schools. The way to tell what kind of ballast a fixture would need was to count the length and number of flourescent tubes the fixture could hold.

There were four of us doing the survey, all college kids. We got State cars that we drove around to all of O'ahu's public schools. One day, my partner and I were headed back to the office, and I was going significantly over the speed limit. As we went around a turn, we saw the police motorcycle. Then we saw the radar gun. Then we saw the flashing lights.

My partner was mortified, of course, especially since I only had my learner's permit. It got worse...the officer asked what we did for the State.

Stopped for going fast,
I looked at the cop and said,
"Uh, I count lightbulbs."

The policeman just said, with a snort,
"Here's your ticket. We'll see you in court."
I entered my plea
And then paid my fee
And was only a few dollars short.

(I wasn't really; I had it all.)

The 20 Worst Foods In America

Via Red Ferret Journal, here's Men's Health's list of the 20 worst foods in America. The only one of those I've ever had is the Macaroni Grill Spaghetti and Meatballs with Meat Sauce. But they all look gross.

Also...yeah, I still would rather have snow than 19 inches of rain in one day. But check back with me when all of this stuff starts to melt.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I see that it's been a while. My current excuse is that I'm obsessed with playing Oblivion on the Xbox 360. Yes, I'm a little late to that party.

In a nutshell, I find the game to be entertaining but flawed. The flaw is this: the main quest is dull. This means that I really don't care if I finish the game. In fact, I've already started a second character and will probably start a third, all without ever seeing how the main quest turns out. And I really don't care how the main quest turns out, because closing Oblivion gates is DULL.

Anyway, here are a few brief items.

  • I saw a Marlon Brando 3-DVD set in the bookstore yesterday. Called "The Marlon Brando Collection," it contained a legitimate classic, "On The Waterfront," an iconic classic, "The Wild One," and, uh, a third movie. I was tickled, because I had in fact been thinking about this third movie a few hours before, but..."The Freshman"? That's kind of like putting out a Great Books collection and having it include "Moby-Dick," "Pride and Prejudice," and, I don't know, "Scruples" or something. Judith Krantz has her fans, but I doubt they think of her as another Melville.

  • Some meme or other asked about favorite jokes. Mine is still "How many dull people does it take to change a lightbulb?" But you have to do it right.

  • CNN was asking the other day if anyone still cared about the Oscars, and I was able to answer "no" with a clear conscience. As most people probably know, because I can't shut up about it, I have not believed in the Oscars since 1991, when Ghost won for Best Screenplay.

  • I'm also on a radio kick. I've been listening to a bunch of old Jack Benny shows, Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, The Shadow, Fred Allen. I was born a hundred years too late; I'd love to have written for those shows.

  • The Wife and I just watched "Raiders of the Lost Ark" a couple of weeks ago. Now, the trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is out, and...pardon me while I whip one off...there, that's around 1:00 or 1:02, LOOK WHERE THEY ARE! I was skeptical about this movie, but I'm sold now. The trailer has done its job.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Here's a song for a bitterly cold Sunday

Mr. Bourne introduced us to this song the other night. It's Scottish singer Dougie Maclean, with his song "Caledonia."

And in the interest of furthering our discussion on covers, here's a version of the same song by Celtic Woman. Take a listen. Notice how it's technically perfect, beautifully arranged and performed...and utterly lifeless.

I think this song needs a grizzled road vet to sing it, not a pretty girl with a pretty voice. The Celtic Woman version reminds of nothing so much as "I've Never Been To Me" by Charlene. (Remember that one?)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

This isn't THE haiku...

...but it is A haiku about the Battle of Hastings.

Harold lost his life.
It was in 1066.
The Normans won there.

So take that.

What was the topic again?

Mad Kane's Haiku and Limerick Prompt yesterday was about absent-mindedness and/or memory.

Let's indulge. There's an episode of "I Love Lucy" where Lucy and Ethel sit in Lucy's kitchen and commiserate about their marriages being in a rut. Ethel's story was all about how Fred comes whining to her every morning about not being able to find his glasses--and every morning, she finds them in the same place.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, Fred came into the kitchen:

"I can't find my glasses!" yelled Fred.
His wife chuckled and watched him turn red.
Then she said, with a sigh,
As she pointed up high,
"They're right there on top of your head."

Of course, the haiku part is harder. It's kind of hard to fit a lot of stuff into a form that's all about minimalism. (And note that I said "hard," not impossible. When The Worst Writing Teacher In The World said "You can't write a haiku about the Battle of Hastings," I turned around and wrote one. I wish I could remember it.)

Anyway, here's a haiku about memory. Or, more precisely, "Memory."

I always tear up:
Old Deuteronomy says,
"Sing, Grizabella."

Actually, it sounds a little better if you let me have the extra syllable:

I always tear up
when Old Deuteronomy
lets Grizabella sing.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


We just got slammed with a ton of snow--up to 20 inches in some parts of the state, at least 10-12 by our house. The Interstate was shut down for hours after a couple of semis jackknifed at the county line. They closed the schools for the second time in a week, which is crazy for Madison; I don't think the public schools here closed twice in the last decade.

As for me, I didn't make it in to the office today. My windshield never cleared properly, and as I was squinting through the morning snow and thinking "I can make it," I suddenly realized that it wasn't going to be any better at the end of the day, so I ended up working from home. Got a lot done, too.

When I got home, I shoveled 3 inches or so of snow from our front walk just for fun. Five hours later, there was another six inches. Yay snow.

I can't wait to shovel out the car in the morning. Uuuuugh.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Do we even need real stuff anymore?

Courtesy of the Red Ferret Journal, here's a vector art gallery that just blew me away. It's probably mildly NSFW, but only mildly.

What's the secret here? Laying the right skin over your vector frame?


I'm glad to have been wrong last night.

That fourth-quarter pass from Manning to Tyree--The Helmet Catch--will still be on highlight reels a hundred years from now.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pre-Christian origins of the Super Bowl

I read a fascinating article on Daily Kos about the pagan origins of the Super Bowl. I had no idea that so many of our traditions had their roots in antiquity.

I look forward to the author's revelations on the Serius Mundi.

Ugh, and ugh

1. The weather finally caught up with me. I don't get sick very often, but I've been laid low since Thursday afternoon. I was supposed to go push buttons for Michael and Damon, but I had to punk out on them. I'm just barely starting to feel human.

2. I think the Giants have a chance today--they've been playing hot. Of course, I don't think they're actually going to win. Patriots by ten, but the game won't be over until the middle of the fourth quarter. It won't be a snooze-fest by any means.

3. If you have a Sony Ericsson cell phone from your service provider, and you're curious about what's actually supposed to be on your cell phone, check out

4. Some parts of the Big Island got up to nineteen inches of rain yesterday. I guess that puts what seems like the near-constant snow this winter in a little bit of perspective. I'd much rather have nineteen inches of snow than nineteen inches of rain. Not that either would be great.