Strange Brouhaha

Monday, March 31, 2008


I need a gadget.

Yes, NEED.

So far, I've only decided that I don't need a new computer and I don't want a new cell phone. (Technically I DO want a new cell phone, I just don't want to splash out the eight hundred bucks that a good one will cost me. Seriously...I think it would actually be cheaper than that to pay the Early Termination Fee on my current contract and get an iPhone.) Oh, and I don't want a portable media player; I have my phone and iPod for that.

I know...that makes it really difficult.

Does anyone out there have a gadget that they love? Nothing I've seen has inspired me yet; the only things I've seen are things that I want to have, as opposed to things that I want to use.


The curtain goes up on ScriptFrenzy at midnight tonight. I'll be participating again this year.

You know...I think every year I've done National Novel Writing Month, I've said some variation on "And this year I've learned my lesson: plan first, then write." And every year, I fail to plan ahead.

So why should this time around be any different? I have an opening scene in mind, but that's about it. I keep meaning to sit down and do it properly, but I guess I've lost the right mindset. Oh well. It's fun, and that's what really matters.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daddy, where's Brett?

The Onion has a pretty good idea about what happened to Brett Favre.

Satellite Dish Installation

Dave Barry, I think, would call this "People Different From Us." It seems that this gentleman was trying to install his satellite dish. He needed to get through an exterior wall to run a cable and couldn't quite get it right, so he used a gun to make a hole in the wall.

Unfortunately, it made a hole in his wife as well.

My unsolicited advice: pay the installation fee for your satellite dish. Satellite installers are trained in the proper way to use firearms to drill holes.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Alllllll my exes live in...oh, wait, TAXES

Today's Limerick and Haiku prompt from Mad Kane is taxes, tax returns, or forms that drive you nuts.

I used to be stridently anti-tax, but I finally beat it into my head that taxes are how we pay for things. (Yes, I know: Duh.)

I earn some money.
The IRS takes its cut.
That is fine with me.

I mean, it's the price for living in civil society.

What really frustrates me about taxes now is that there are so many ways for people and corporations to get out of paying them. Having been a low wage earner, I think it's great that people making under a certain amount don't have to pay taxes. However, I think that somebody making twenty-five million a year should have to pay his 30 percent just like anyone else.

I used to really love doing my taxes. I had a special pen, and a great calculator, and I could sit down and do everything in an hour and be done with it. Now that our finances are a bit more...complicated, I've found that I really need software to help me out. Needless to say, it takes a lot longer than an hour. The procrastination bug has hit me pretty hard; I've barely started on this year's filing, and here it is practically the end of May.

The problem with doing my taxes on the computer is, of course, the presence of computer games. I'll sit down, intend to fire up Tax Cut, and find myself playing a game instead. By the time I'm ready to get started, I'm yawning and ready for bed instead.

My wife ordered: "Do taxes now!"
I said "But I'm still playing WoW!
The 1040 can wait
With Form 1 for the State,
While I finish protecting this cow!"

Not a true story, of course, because I stopped playing World of Warcraft long ago. But still mildly humorous. Sort of. I have to protect a cow!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"What's the blaaaandest thing on the menu?"

Boing Boing linked to this video today, but if you don't read BB, then this will be new to you. It's a sketch from a sketch comedy show about a group of Indian people who go to an English restaurant in Bombay.

I've seen people behave exactly like this in a variety of ethnic restaurants, and it's hilarious to see the tables turned.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Ever since the last time we had trouble with our furnace, I've been pretty religiously checking the thermostat every night before I go to sleep to make sure that it's reading an appropriate temperature. I think my religion must have lapsed yesterday and my eyes just kind of glided over the thermostat.


A couple of days ago, The Wife asked me if I was cold. I said "I'm always kind of chilly when I sit where you're sitting," namely on the couch. Last night, when I went to bed, I said "Wow, it's really cold in the bedroom."

This morning when I woke up, it was definitely downright chilly.

Looked at the thermostat: yep. 62. Much, much colder than we usually keep it--cold enough, in fact, that we probably hadn't had any heat in the house for at least two days, meaning that when The Wife asked me if I was cold...the furnace was already broken.


I wasn't able to stay home for the repair guys this time, but I have it on good authority that they were not happy--and that they're trying to get someone from the furnace manufacturer to come out and look at it. They've even discussed our furnace at the service company's tech meetings. We're a legend!

I don't know, aren't we at the point of diminishing returns, here? They've absorbed so much in warranty repairs that it would probably be cheaper for them to just throw us a new unit. Like I said, I don't know.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


We got somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight inches Thursday. We got some more today -- and may still be getting it, I haven't looked.

I never thought that the White Witch's winter kingdom (always winter, never Christmas) was that bad. Now I know better. I just want the snow to go away.

On the bright side, wire definitely got our hundred inches this year.

And more is coming.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Saturday Nine

I think I'll try this week's Saturday Nine. It is about food, after all.

1. When you go to a restaurant do you tip better if the server is good-looking? No. To be honest, I barely ever even look at the server. I've been to restaurants where I couldn't have picked my server out of a crowd. Kind of shameful, I know. I generally tip at least 20% no matter what the server looks like.

2. Have you ever asked anyone to turn off their cellphone in public because it bothered you? I have to confess that I don't understand the impulse to do such a thing. Let's say you're in a restaurant and the couple at the table next to you are having a conversation that you can hear perfectly. Would you ask them to stop? No. I don't really see the difference. About the only time I object to people talking on a cell phone is in the library--where people talking loudly in person would bother me too.

3. Is your noon meal called "lunch" or "dinner?" Lunch. Isn't "dinner" at lunch a Southern term?

4. Do you generally make reservations first? McDonald's doesn't take them. Seriously, though, no. Unless we're going somewhere that we know will be crowded, or where reservations would be a good idea (or required), we don't make them. The places we tend to go don't get up to much more than a ten minute wait, and that if we're unlucky.

5. Do you ask for a booth or a table? A booth, usually. We go to one place semi-regularly that has the bad habit of putting two people at booths built for 6-8. It messes them up when it gets crowded. I'd rant about people who ask for booths when only the big ones are open, but frankly the restaurant staff just sits people there without asking.

6. Do you ask for a doggie bag? Heck yeah, although I don't think anybody actually calls it that anymore. Restaurants pile more and more food onto plates--you paid for it, you should take it home if you can't finish it. At the restaurant I mentioned in #5, they charge you an arm and a leg for a milkshake big enough for three people, and we get a cup for the leftovers. Why let the food go to waste? They'll just throw it out.

7. Would you complain to the management if there were children crying nearby? Quite the opposite. I smile kindly at the parents to let them know that it's okay. I'm a parent; I know the deal. Kids cry.

8. Have you ever sent food back? Never. There's only been one time that I've been tempted to, and that was at a steak place that (deservedly) closed. Apparently, some people like to take a bite of meat and taste burn, but not me. The cook was a little too aggressive with the grill and with the salt. The inside was a perfect medium rare, but the outside tasted like charcoal.

9. Do you find servers singing "Happy Birthday" cute or annoying? I friggin' wish they'd sing Happy Birthday. The birthday songs they have at those lousy chain restaurants are annoying. Happy Birthday would be cute.

It's Limerick and Haiku Time

I think I wrote an entry for last week and never posted it. At least, I don't remember posting it, and I'm too damn lazy to go see.

But THIS week's Limerick and Haiku prompt is: poems about poems.

First, I want to get an old chestnut out of the way:

There was an old man from Peru
Whose limericks stopped at line two.

That's done! Now, a limerick and a haiku about poems or about writing. One of the main things that keeps me from writing is procrastination; a lot of times I get caught up in making sure that everything is "just so": the desk, the document in Word, custom macros (that of course need development and tweaking before any writing can possibly begin). That procrastination, of course, masks a glaring deficiency.

A cup of coffee.
Everything arranged just so.
Now I need a plot.

I'm not feeling a limerick this weekend, sadly. Really--what's going to beat the "dog crap" limerick?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hiding in plain sight

This week's excuse for no posts: I just haven't had the time. I've been busy reading and preparing for Script Frenzy. Most of my preparation has consisted of reading and taking notes on a book by Christopher Vogler called The Writer's Journey. It's yet another Hero's Journey book, but it's pretty good and it came highly recommended.

Anyway, about "hiding in plain sight". It seems that science blogger PZ Myers signed up to go to a screening of "Expelled" in Minneapolis. "Expelled" is a movie that tries to get people to buy into creationism; it's most well-known for its producers having tricked many of their interview subjects into thinking that the movie was going to be a debate between science and...well, non-science. Myers is one of those subjects.

At the screening, he was asked to leave--under what authority it is not clear--but his family and their guest were allowed to remain for the screening. Ironies abound here, of course, but...well, you should go read the article. Far be it from me to spoil the fun.

(And, of course, if you read the comments on the article, you will see that the lies are starting up. Some of the creationists are as bad as Scientologists.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Interesting spam

I've gotten an intriguing bit of spam. I'm extremely tempted to go to the URL just to see what they're trying to sell.

"Don't give up," it says, "there is hope for you. There are many ways to get started, and it is easier than you think." Then they tell me that the "first step" is knowing my options, and that the second step can be found at their URL.

And that's it. The URL itself--naturally, I'll not reproduce it here--is not indicative of anything. Get started doing what? What's easier than I think?

That's practically a message from the universe, isn't it? "Don't give up. There is hope for you." Very inspiring.

Don't give up! There is hope for you.


Let's check out this week's randomness.

Would you rather...
1. sky dive or bungee jump?
2. eat a hissing cockroach or eat a slug?
3. have lifelong free entry to all theme parks
or lifetime free entry to all movie theaters?
4. spend one month without books or one month without tv?
5. have the ability to fly or be able to become invisible?
6. to have a personal shopper for life or a
personal fitness trainer for life?
7. be spiderman or be superman?
8. be stuck in the 70's or be stuck in the 80's?

1. I'd rather sky dive. With sky diving, once you're down, you're down. With bungee're bouncing around.

2. Depends on the preparation.

3. Lifetime free entry to movie theaters, of course. There's not a theme park within a hundred miles of here, but there's a movie theater five minutes away. If it was free, I'd go see a movie every night.

4. A month without TV would be far easier. We've lived without TV before; I can't imagine living without books.

5. Invisibility would be far, far cooler. Think of the places you could go and the things you could do. Wouldn't it be neat to be in the Oval Office, or in the editing suite looking at the new Star Trek movie?

6. What does a personal shopper even do?

7. I'd rather be Superman. Spiderman is cooler, but I think I'd rather be able to fly. (This doesn't contradict my answer to #5; neither hero can turn invisible.) Superman also has an incredibly large array of powers.

8. It depends--how old would I be? I think that if I was an adult, I'd want to be in the 70s, but if I would have to be my actual age, I'll take the 80s. Who wants to be four years old again? Not me.

Friday, March 14, 2008


We've got a subscription to XM Radio. Now that I've got a car kit installed and can listen to it on my commute, I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Even when I can't find anything I want to listen to.

I'm still learning the channel lineup; there's an Old-Time Radio channel, which plays some good stuff; there's a Show Tunes channel which seems to consistently play selections from "Barnum!"; there's the '80s channel which plays a lot of music that I didn't like then and still don't like; there's Radio Disney, which The Youngster and I listen to on the way to school in the morning.

There's Boneyard, which plays '80s hard rock. It's usually good for a laugh; I like to check it out every once in a while to see what they're playing. Usually I end up chuckling--Sleeze Beez, Dangerous Toys, Trixter, Britny Fox, Enuff Z'Nuff--and then moving on, because a man's got to draw the line somewhere, right? Occasionally they'll play something listenable, although I can't think of an example off the top of my head.

And then there's XMLM, Liquid Metal, the heavy metal channel. I've been listening to it more lately, and I'm not sure why. Nine songs out of ten are by bands I don't recognize.

I think metal has passed me by. I liked it back when bands were still allowed to have musicality, lyricism, dynamic levels, singers and guitar solos. Now it seems like there's a depressing lack of those things, and the music has been reduced to pounding, repetitive rhythms and harsh, processed vocals. Believe it or's background music. Very powerful, aggressive background music, but background music nonetheless.

Bands like Metallica, Megadeth, Testament, Anthrax--these were bands that demanded that you sit up and take notice. "No, you may not do other things while we are declaiming! AND CHECK OUT THIS SOLO! AND THIS ONE! AND HERE'S ANOTHER!" Even the fastest thrash bands like Slayer and Nuclear Assault bore resemblance to music. The stuff I've been hearing over the last few weeks has been surprisingly dull; despite the jackhammer rhythms and half-shouted vocals, nothing has said "YOU MUST LISTEN!" (In one song, I counted four different rhythm patterns, repeated over and over and over again. It's getting to where metal is as bad as some of the unlistenable crap on the top 40 stations. When metal starts treating "uh, uh" as a lyric, I'll really be worried.)

You know, I feel almost old and curmudgeonly about this. I wonder if the metal of the late '80s and early '90s sounds as quaint to today's fans as the rock and early metal of the late '60s and early '70s sounds to me.

Yard Work

Mad Kane's Limerick and Haiku prompt this week is about yards and/or gardens.

As I look back at my life, I'm shocked to realize that I've never lived in a place with a yard. At least, not a place that I remember--our house in New Jersey had a yard, but none of the places we lived in Hawaii did, and none of the places I've lived in in Wisconsin have. The closest we came was that our last apartment had a nice, shady, green common area--but that's not really the same thing.

And as for gardens...pfff, forget it, my thumbs are as black as the cover of "Smell The Glove."

When I was growing up, as my grandparents were getting older and grandpa was less able, it would fall to my dad to do a lot of the yard work. Sometimes, I would help.

In a lot of ways, my grandpa was a big 'ol Luddite. There are times when I think I've inherited that from him; I'm very much an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of guy. If you've been doing something one way for a long might as well continue doing it that way, even long after better ways are available. (This is the same attitude that makes it possible to earn a living today as a COBOL programmer.)

I spent my weekends
Up at my grandfather's house
Pushing the mower.

And when I say "pushing," I do mean pushing. Grandpa had a push-mower. Every so often he would have to take it to get the blades sharpened. I swear he must have used that thing for fifty years, and in a lot of ways, it made perfect sense: the yard wasn't really all that big, and the push-mower was nice and quiet. Why ruin a peaceful, sunny morning with a big noisy racket?

I think maybe if I did have a yard, I'd consider a push-mower. No gas to buy, no small-engine maintenance--just an unhurried afternoon pushing the mower along the back forty. Whatever a back forty is.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Old, old tech

I realized today that I've been in the technology industry for almost 14 years now. I left the Music Store in fall of 1994 to start at the School District. I had been using computers long before that of course, but that's when I really started getting paid for it.

You know how a pocket calculator has more computing power than the spacecraft that took our astronauts to the moon? I'm pretty sure that my cell phone is more powerful, pound for pound, than the computers I worked on when I was at the School District--and that includes the file servers. It definitely has more storage space.

I've been in computing long enough to have gotten screwed by Apple TWICE during processor changeovers.

I've been in computing long enough to remember when a 486 DX2/66 was the top dog.

I've been in computing long enough to remember when a 14.4 modem was an exotic, rarely-seen creature. It's an exotic, rarely-seen creature nowadays, too...but for an entirely different reason.

I remember Micro Channel and Token Ring. I loved Token Ring because if you set your TR card to the wrong speed, you could--if you didn't fix it quickly enough--take out all of the computers in the school. (And they could see it at the operator's console downtown, too.)

I remember configuring XFree86 by hand in Slackware Linux, and having to dig out manuals to find the horizontal and vertical refresh rates of the monitors I was using.

I remember when Windows 95 came out, and we all had to scramble to try to make it work on our machines. And then we had to scramble to find a way to deploy it throughout the District.

When I worked at the School District, we were all issued cassette carriers (remember audio cassettes?) that we crammed full of floppy disks containing drivers for every device imaginable, floppy disks containing fresh copies of MS-DOS 6 and IBM DOS 5, boot disks for several different machines, NetWare boot disks, Windows 3.1, Microsoft Office, you name it, we had it. Those disks and a set of screwdrivers were really all we needed to keep 6,000 workstations more or less running most of the time. All of those disks would fit on the USB thumb drive I have in my pocket. With room to spare.

When I worked at the School District, we did server backups on an old plasma-screen luggable. Kids: plasma screens mean something entirely different today than they did back then. Those backups were great; we never did them very regularly because they took a long time, and usually setting up a backup would involve having to go back to the school early in the morning--because doing a backup would also involve taking down the entire network. Once, we discovered that we needed to restore a server from backup. That was the same day we discovered that our thousands of backup tapes were no good. Oooooops.

When I worked at the School District, I met some interesting people. None of them was as interesting as the kid who insisted on showing me his Pez dispenser collection. I sometimes wonder what that kid is doing now; that was long enough ago that he's probably graduated from college and working somewhere. I hope it's at the Pez factory.

Monday, March 10, 2008

What's on your desk, part 2

I had fun cataloging my home desk. I'm sure it's not nearly as interesting to read as it is to do, but here's what's on my desk at work:

  • 2 20" widescreen flat panel monitors

  • Keyboard

  • Mouse

  • Left, center and right speakers for two sets of surround speakers

  • Volume control for one of the sets of speakers

  • Business card cube

  • Phone

  • Dell Optiplex GX260

  • LG DVD burner

  • Water cup

  • Cell phone

  • Five mini DVDs with raw footage of a dance concert

  • A 256 MB USB card

  • 2 Stacks of post-its (one is from Zippy's!)

  • Three BD-RE discs

  • A 1/8"-to-RCA stereo cable

  • A CD of a recording session that I helped with

  • 2 sharpies (1 red, 1 blue)

  • A straightened-out paper clip

  • A Windows Vista 64-bit install disc

  • A bootable CD for my test machines

  • A manual for a video camera

  • Three pens

  • A pencil

  • An receipt

  • Performance review forms

  • Two spiral notebooks

  • A folder of resumes and interview notes

  • The January and March issues of "Software Test and Performance"

  • The March issue of "Better Software"

  • A brochure for the STAR EAST conference

  • A catalog of training courses from SQE

  • Perry, "Effective Methods for Software Testing"

  • Craig and Jaskiel, "Systematic Software Testing"

  • Duke Nukem 3D mousepad

And if you count my test machines and desk extension as being part of my desk...

  • A Line 6 GuitarPort

  • Another bootable CD

  • MDR-V700 Stereo headphones

  • Right rear surround speakers

  • Mackie DFX-12 mixer

  • Sony HDR-SR11 High definition video camera

  • Right-angle-ended SATA cable

  • 3 1/4" headphone adapters

  • Another stack of post-its

  • RCA stereo cables with pass-thru ends

  • 6-foot instrument cable

  • About 300 blank DVDs of various brands and types

  • 50 or so blank CDs

  • 5 or so BD-RE discs

  • The manual for the mixer

  • A mini Brewers helmet

  • Sunglasses

  • Pilot’s wings with my name

My work desk really does give a snapshot of all of the things I need to do and/or think about during the course of a typical work day. I don't feel like my home desk is so representative, but that's probably because it has less of a focused role. In other words, I go to my work desk to work--but my home desk serves multiple purposes.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

What's on your desk?

What's on your desk?

Here's what's on my desk at home, from left to right and back to front:

  • Computer speakers.

  • 150GB external hard drive.

  • Logitech USB mouse.

  • A picture of The Child and her friend.

  • A stack of paper fortune tellers.

  • A desk caddy containing three pens, two pencils, a stack of post-its, a stack of bills, postage stamps, and a 2GB SD card.

  • A coiled-up bit of pipe cleaner.

  • A piece of driftwood.

  • A checkbook.

  • A Nintendo DS.

  • Acer LCD computer monitor.

  • Batgirl, Batman, and Captain America.

  • A pinecone.

  • Mac Mini.

  • iPod dock.

  • The mouse for the Macintosh.

  • Two old checkbooks.

  • A blank CD.

  • A piece of pottery that's supposed to go with me to my office.

  • My glasses.

  • A box of tissues.

  • A wedding invitation.

  • A stack of receipts.

  • A couple of music CDs.

  • A sketchbook.

  • A Memory Stick for a PSP.

  • A boxed copy of Media Manager for PSP.

  • Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War.

  • The September 2007 Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.

  • Another stack of post-its.

  • A business card holder for my wallet.

  • A pair of earbuds.

  • The Child's nametag from her desk at school.

  • A cloth for cleaning my laptop screen.

  • The aforementioned laptop.

  • The remote for the Mac Mini.

  • A permission slip for a field trip--it's waiting for me to dig out four bucks.

  • A renewal form for National Geographic.

  • My cell phone.

  • My iPod.

  • A stack of our tax info.

  • Two copies of TurboTax (they sent 'em to me in the mail; you pay for it online, so it's not like I'm getting charged twice).

  • The following books:

    • Robbins, "HTML & XHTML Pocket Reference"

    • Meyer, "CSS Pocket Reference"

    • Maxwell, "Leadership 101"

    • Arthur, "The First-Time Manager's Guide to Performance Appraisals"

    • Killian, "Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy"

    • Howard, "The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian"

  • The Logitech wireless mouse for the laptop.

It sounds like a lot, but the desk is actually neat and organized.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Feast Time, Uncle Red

Here's Friday's Feast for yesterday.

If you could be any current celebrity for one whole week, who would you want to be? Would I be able to transfer funds to myself from that celebrity's bank account? Because if so, Bill Gates. the life of a celebrity really so interesting that I'd want to take it over? Because reading a book in, say, Brad Pitt's body isn't going to be any different from reading it in mine.

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being highest), how much do you enjoy talking on the phone? For a long time after I left the School District, I would have answered this "1 or less". I'm up to 2 or 3 now. I like talking to my family, and my parents, and my sister, and other people who are far away. But that's about it. I still refuse to make outgoing calls--even to renew my prescriptions, which is a completely automated process--unless there's nobody else around who can do it. Ask The Wife; I bet it pisses her off.

Name a charitable organization to which you have donated (or would like to). I don't like discussing this, because it seems to me that people who say, "and I donated X dollars to Y charity" are saying it so you'll notice them and tell them what wonderful people they are. Donate money because there are people out there who need it, not because you want some sort of pat on the back.

What is a food you like so much you could eat it every single day for a month? Sushi. Which is a cheat, because there are so many varieties!

Have you or anyone in your family had the flu this year? Yes. The Wife is coming out the end of a week-long bout, and I am similarly recovering. The Child so far has been spared.

I will drag myself out of the grave...

...for this week's Limerick and Haiku prompt by Mad Kane, because I like the limerick and haiku thing. It's one of my favorite times of the week.

I've had the flu for the last couple of days; it took The Wife out for over a week. We're a wreck. At least The Youngster hasn't gotten it (yet). I'm just starting to feel better.

Anyway, the prompt this week is "age and/or life stages".

The first thing that popped into my mind when I thought about age was Jack Benny. I've been listening to a lot of old Benny radio broadcasts recently, and there are three running gags in the program. The most famous, of course, is that Jack is cheap. (That's the character "Jack Benny". The real Jack was, by all accounts, exactly the opposite.) The second most famous is that Jack can't play the violin. (Another reversal of reality.)

The third running gag in the Benny program had to do with Jack's unwillingness to admit his real age. I just listened to a show where Rochester had "a round table discussion" with someone on the question of Jack's age; "it's not the question that they had a problem with!"

"How old are you, Jack?"
Mr. Benny would respond,
"I am thirty-nine."

Unfortunately, that's a pretty lame haiku. I mean, it fits the syllable pattern and all, but that's about it. So I'll toss in another one, free of charge.

When you're a parent--or even when you're not--it seems that time goes by a lot more quickly than you think it has any right to. I was reminiscing to The Youngster just the other day that I used to be able to grab her and flip her over (safely!) with no problem. We would have a grand old time.

It was yesterday
That my little girl was born.
Tomorrow...she's ten.

(Not literally true, of course, but it will be true by the end of the year.)

By the way, the event that really made me focus on how much time has gone by was a job interview I conducted this week. It was with a young man who had almost exactly the same professional background as someone I used to work with at The Music Store. I asked the applicant if he knew the guy...and as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I knew it was a dumb question, because I stopped working at The Music Store almost fifteen years ago.

Tangentially related to age, here's a limerick about a birthday party. You could say that a birthday party represents passing through different stages of life.

Though it took us a couple of tries,
We rounded up all of the guys.
When he walked through the door,
Timmy's jaw hit the floor
As all of us shouted "SURPRISE!"

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wisconsin has lost two giants today

Gary Gygax failed his saving throw and has left the Prime Material Plane. Along with Dave Arneson, Gygax invented Dungeons and Dragons and founded TSR in Lake Geneva, WI. I don't play D&D anymore, but it was a huge part of my life for a long time. So long, Gary.

And Brett Favre retired. Packers football will never be the same, and it will be a long, long time before we see his like again. was time for him to go. It was the right decision, and it's somehow fitting that the last pass of his career was a game-losing interception. So long, Brett. See you in the Hall of Fame.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Here's what I want

Okay, so here's what I want. Call me when they make this.

I want something no bigger than an iPhone. It has to make and receive phone calls. It has to be able to play music and video (although video is not so important). It should have a camera.

It needs to run Windows. It needs to run Office, or at least a version of Office that's compatible with my home and work machines. (If Windows Mobile does this, then that's fine.)

I need to be able to write on it like a Tablet PC or UMPC.

It should be instant-on, like a cell phone. It also needs to be able to last an entire day for whatever I want to do--I'm willing to be required to plug it in for a recharge every night, but if I need to use it for six, seven, eight hours at a stretch, it had better accommodate me.

It should have WiFi. And a microSD slot. It should recharge (and connect to my computer) via a miniUSB port. And it should have a standard headphone jack.

What I want, basically, is the equivalent of a TabletPC, portable media player, and cell phone all rolled up into one package no bigger than an iPhone. (Okay, the iPhone is pretty thin--a little bit thicker would be fine.)

And I want it to be no more than a thousand bucks--much, much, much less if it's going to be tied to a cell phone contract.

I know, this is a lot to ask. But surely someone out there can make it happen. The Sony Ericsson XPERIA X1 is going to come close. The iPhone comes close. UMPCs come close. I WANT MY CONVERGENCE, DAMN IT.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Limerick and Haiku time!

I have only barely blogged this week. I keep falling asleep. It's really annoying--I'm barely able to get the dishes done and open up a book before my toes start to curl (the sign that I'm going to fall asleep). Then I wake up at 12:30 and stagger off to bed, blogging undone.

Anyway, the limerick and haiku prompt this week is "walking". By the way, I like the title of the post: "Pedestrian Poems". Nice double-layer of meaning there. Certainly my doggerel is fairly pedestrian!

Walking is a very mechanical process, isn't it? I once saw walking described as a continuous controlled fall, which just seems like the perfect description--fall forward, stop yourself with your foot, and repeat, swinging your legs so that you're constantly moving forward.

Left foot, then right foot.
One in front of the other.
The miles disappear.

One year in college I visited my aunt and uncle for spring break. It was a nice visit; I read Whitley Streiber's "Communion" and had nightmares for a week. I think it was that visit, actually, that made me think that Madison wouldn't be a bad place to live.

Anyway, they had a dog, and I walked the dog one day. I'd never had a dog and didn't know much about them. They sure do some interesting things. This is a true story, except for the name of the dog.

Though I'd rather be taking a nap,
I'm walking my auntie's dog, Hap.
As Hap pulls on my arm,
I note with alarm
That she's eating some other dog's crap!