Dickens of a Blog

(August 2008)

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August 28, 2008. Thursday.

(03:29:08 PM CDT) The Radioplay Solution.

The other day (August 25, 2008) I posted about radioplays being a dead artform in the States. This is not 100% true, as you have websites like Pendant Productions with a fair selection of original and fandom radioplays. You also have HPLHS who are working on their third and fourth radioplay and are really close to having the third out.

But, for those that are anglophiles, radiophiles, or just curious to see how someone else does it, I just wanted to point out that you can listen to a huge selection through BBC7 and, though more for non-fiction kind of stuff, but still cool, BBC Radio 4. These two are readily bookmarked by me, now, and have some amazing stuff.

One of my highest recommended shows on BBC7 is The Brightonomicon which is comedy meets horror with some action mixed in. You can see more information on the original novel if you are interested. Also on BBC7, you can get things like To the Manor Born, The Mighty Boosh, and Nicholas Nickleby (all of them are excellent).

What's really cool is, for the last week's shows, you can listen to them on demand through their Listen Again program. Since their time zone is +6 hours to ours, this stops you from having to be up at 5am to hear some midday show.

Now, they do require something that can play *.ram files, but I just installed Real Player 11. I'm not a huge fan of it (for instance, it doesn't seem to play real media files as well as Mplayer) but it's free and at least the Linux version is light on the adverts and spywarish stuff.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 27, 2008. Wednesday.

(10:18:46 PM CDT) Mooniness!

First off, the guys I ordered the book from got in touch with me today, over a month after I ordered the book. They official response right now is "wait to see if it shows up". I'm assuming that means they will give me the refund when hell freezes over. I'll give them to friday and then contact them again.

Secondly, the reading group went well tonight. Tess can be a hard book to take, but it was fun breaking it down at the end. Next month's is American Gods.

Finally, the meat of the post. I watched the "Moon Landing" episode of Mythbusters. It was pretty awesome, to me, since it does a fair job of pointing out the problems with some of the standard "reasons why the moon landing was faked". There are some of the tougher ones that they probably couldn't have pulled off, and there is a ton of irony with a special effects lab replicating the events of the moon landing to show how autentic they were. If there is never a season 6 (or is that 7) DVD release, I may see about buying this episode separately.

Then I went to look around for discussions over the moon faking. Fark.com has one, that has some fun stuff and some annoying stuff, as is always true of Fark.com. The Van Allen belts (and telescopes) are sort of the key bits of discussion, but real science gets shunted aside for "look, dickwad" sort of arguments. For fun adventures in hotlinking, scroll down to Axolotl's post.

Then there is the Godlike Productions discussion of the same thing. The argument is about as scientific as Fark.com's, minus the humor. But, in some ways, it is more interesting to read by the straight out insanity you can read there (like some call it NAZA because Nazis started NASA). They eventually getting around to discussing...

Bart Sibrel and his documentary A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon. If you are wondering who Bart Sibrel is, well, he doesn't believe we landed on the moon and he got punched in the face by Buzz Aldrin.

Ok, hold up, let me go back to a thing I read in Godlike Productions real quick: "Seriously now, if we had been to the moon, I am 1000% sure the United States of World Government would of tried to go back and build some type of missile defense system on the moon or whatever else." It takes something on the order of days to travel to the moon. That's a really crappy response time. Our fastest rockets today could make it in about a day or so, by my calculations (something like 1.3 days), but that is still a crappy response time.

I personally don't know about the Van Allen radiation and the equipment on board the lander, but I do know that a number of the "standard" arguments are kind of lame. How come we didn't go back? We did. How come we didn't build a base? Why would we build a base? Isn't it convenient that we did while trying to impress the Soviet Union? Maybe, but the same argument could be said for the atomic bomb. Why didn't we just fake that footage? Wasn't it convenient that we did it while trying to win a war against Japan? Wasn't the computer on the Apollo dumber than the one in my calculator? Yeah, and your calculator can do the rough calculations on the moon landing. Try it in science class sometime. Furthermore, this isn't Star Wars. Pilots don't punch in coordinates and go. All that sort of stuff was amazingly solved ahead of time. Prescience. It's a bitch.

And my favorite is "Wasn't it really just a coverup to hide weapons research?" Hide? We were quite openly using the technology to also fund weapons research. We still use space science to fund weapons research. Who do you think they were hiding it from?

Just to post a couple of more references: "Can we see Apollo's hardware on the moon?" and Clavius.org that debunks a lot of stuff around the hoaxes. I admit, I'm a believer in the moon landings. I do concur that we could have staged portions of the landing for better effect (kind of like when documentaries recreate certain scenes to improve lighting of the shot), but I do not think the whole thing was faked. I also believe that if we were to send a manned mission, who found evidence of moon landings, the hoaxers would think that we planted them. I think I am most annoyed by this new generation of hoaxers, whose main mantra is "technology sucked in the 60s, people were dumb back then, they couldn't have figured it out." It just another good example of era-ism and the need to feel that every previous generation was dumb.

I understand wanting to distrust the government, but I think a lot of the evidence and support that they are lying here is simply a need for life to be more dramatic than it really is. Because, really, wouldn't it be "cool" if there was a 30 billion dollar hoax? Wouldn't it be terrifyingly fun if millions were in on it?

In closing, you can read Wikipedia's article on Hoax accusations or you can Buzz Aldrin punch a guy in the face again.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 26, 2008. Tuesday.

(02:40:43 PM CDT) The most fun a straight man can have in an afternoon, also Amazon Marketplace

Let me start off with this disclaimer, there is nothing sexual about this post. Nor nothing involving sexual orientation. It just popped in my head. I also thought about saying "The most fun a white man..." but that would be racist. And racism is bad!*

Anyhow, I have spent the last hour or so washing my comforter. Our laundromat has a strict policy about not washing comforters after some dumbass decided to toss "old ragged" into the wash and nearly burned down the place after the fibers gunked up the mechanics. On top of that, this is my old faithful, the comforter I have used since at least 1998 (my move to Huntsville to start UAH) and probably more like 1994-5 or so. I've slept with this comforter for over a decade, any rate, and it's starting to get to be a little ragged itself. It might not survive a machine washing. Hand wash it was. I filled up the tub with water and some detergent, tossed her in, and proceeded to scald my hands in very hot water and cleaning liquid while washing it out. Good lord, looks like "old faitful" was a bit "old dirty". Our beds' accouteements are disgusting.

Then I had to rinse it. Three or four times. Turns out that comforters have "stay filthy" technology caused by their multiple layers and Dirt-Lock® filling. Finally, the rinse water was clean and then came the worst part. The absolute worst part. Worse that knowing that you have been sleeping under, essentially, a blanket of filth since the comforter-ban. Drying. Do you realize how much water a full size comforter can hold? (If you answered "a lot", you were almost there). It took twenty minutes of lifting this kilograms heavy thing and squeezing to get enough water out that I could risk hanging it from the shower curtain rod without too much damage. Then I had to squeeze and tease to get it all out. Now I have it under our bathroom heater for another ten minutes and then I will sit it down in front of a fan and let the fan give it a good talking-to.

In other news, Co-Author of 100 Hundred Things to Do Before You Die Has Apparently Completed His List.

Finally, I want to talk about the Amazon Marketplace for a moment. I use the Marketplace kind of often. Not only do I have a bad habit of getting really interested in a book about five years after it goes out of print (mostly unheard of horror/speculative writers or underground writers from a decades past) but you can save a fair amount of money using it. I have Amazon Prime, so quite a few books are cheaper or about the same price to get them new, but it's not unusually to shave $5-$10 off Amazon's already discounted prices.

And, here's a secret that some may not know. Amazon enforces a shipping and handling charge of $3.99 for all Marketplace books bought. The average shipping of a book is about $2.50. What this means is, if you are a remainder/used bookstore and you have a stack of books you want to sell for $1-$1.50, you put them on Amazon Marketplace for $0.01 and then the $3.99 gets tacked on (making it $4 even) and you get about $1.50 out of the deal after your $2.50 or so in postage. What this means for the consumer (i.e. me) is that I can get a good number of fair to great quality hardcover books for $4 each. This is how much I am going to pay for hardcover at a store like Booklegger. This is less than I would pay at Book Gallery. It's a win for both parties. The sheer size, too, of the Marketplace means that the Penny-Titles are varied and numerous, but by no means exhaustive. It's mostly for those books that were once really popular (some poets, writers like Stephen King, fantasy series that had a heydey a few years back, some classics that had movies based on them, etc) but have saturated the market. Anyhow, it's not a bad system if you know how to play it, and I've gotten several "wins" through it.

Out of the dozens of Marketplace purchases I have made, there have been two bad ones. I think there was an early third, maybe 8 or so years ago, but it seems like that was an auction style set up. I know it was through Amazon, but it seems like I bid on something, no one else did, and it ended up selling for a tiny amount. Anyhow, I never got that item. Then, there was one involving an electronic device that didn't work. That one got returned with no problem.

Now I have a third. It's a book. Not a Penny-Title but kind of cheap (with postage, it was like $7 total). The "time expected by" came and went and I contacted them and told them. They told me to wait two more weeks. I kind of consider that a party foul. But, I agreed that it could take up to four weeks to get there, because the post office is weird. At any rate, I waited for another two weeks which was up a few days ago (last Wednesday). I contacted them again. After three or four days, they contacted me back and said "confirm this and this for us". Which I did. I have heard nothing since then. I realize that I could just be a con artist, ordering books and then getting them and claiming I didn't, but I'm not. I've recieved three books that I ordered at the same time or since then, already. I fully admit that. This one is just lost in the mail. They are just trying everything to not refund or to delay the refund of the $7. In some ways, it is not that big of a deal. In other ways, it's annoying that they are making me wait this long for such a small refund. If I have not heard anything from them by tomorrow, I'll contact them one last time and see what they say. They have thousands of feedbacks and mostly positive, so I know they can do it right. Why they aren't, here, I don't know.

Anyhow, rant off. And just to clarify, I'm still a big fan of Amazon.com's Marketplace and see no reason to not keep using it. I'm just not likely to use them again, unless something gets resolved soon.

Si Vales, Valeo

* That was (albeit poor) a joke in reference to an article I read about Katy Perry's "I kissed a girl". Someone pointed out that if she had sung "I kissed a black guy" or "I kissed a Jew" that the song would have been blasted, instead of taken as a fun summer song. For some reason, using that to describe washing a comforter made me chuckle. I don't know why.

(01:12:22 AM CDT) Doug's Morals, Episode II

I call this installment of Doug's Morals "Episode II" because there is meant to be an "Episode I". Sometime. I thought it out in my head but I didn't post it because (1) it felt preachy and (2) it kind of violated "Episode II" and (3) it really was going to require a split, making an "Episode I" and an "Episode III", with this episode being in the middle, tying together. Frankly, that's just too much, for now. Plus, this is the important one. The rest was ranting. I can sum it up with "Vanity. Vanity. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." And you can quote me on that.

But here is Ep2. Ok. There is a part in the Bible where Jesus gets asked "Which is the best commandment?" Now, this is something of a trick. It's not a trick, in that the verse doesn't imply that the guy (a "scholar of the law") was up to no good. He simply wanted to know what was most important. And that's the trick, isn't it? If you find out what is the most important thing to do, the best thing to be, then you can screw over the other things in proper relation. Let's say you have a friend who really likes chocolate, kind of likes cheese, and only slightly likes wine. You get the chocolate based gifts. You make sure dessert is served regularly. You do this, because it makes the rest of the meal look better in comparison.

Trick or not, Jesus has something of a trick answer. You can find this in Mark 12:28-31 (NIV or King James, if you want to read along). The first part of his answer is simple. "God is God" (essentially). This is literally the first commandment as given (note this satisfies both the Deutoronomy and Exodus splits). But then Jesus quickly changes the flavor of the commandments: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'".

There we go, a pair of simple rules to live by. First, love God like you never loved before. Next, love everyone else like you love you. There is, perhaps, a minor quibble about how can you love God with everything, and still have room to love anything else. This minor quibble, perhaps, leaves people to do things like refuse to teach contraceptives nor abortions in a place in the world that needed it the most, and to once refuse to help a dying child because he was going to God. What's more, the second makes a huge, glaring assumption. A pair of them. It assumes that you love yourself, for one (and are not merely self-centered, which is a whole other thing). Secondly, it assumes that you won't interpret "love" as to mean doing something like blowing up a courtyard because the saints will go to heaven and the sinners never had a chance and it's good to get rid of them.

If you take the word love, as spoken by Jesus, to have a definite meaning and that everyone must have some true love of the self, then the two work. If you have issue with either half, then it gets harder to make it fit. I'll assume it is hard to argue philology with God, and so I will leave this track here, and move on.

When I sat out to define my own code of conduct, to make my own "Greatest Commandment", I knew it had to solve a few a few things. I'm not exactly a moral relativist, but I'm definitely not an absolutist. I'm believe in a weighted morality, where some sins are heavier at times than others, but the weight can change. I have to accept the possibility of meaning gaffs and syntax traps. There is no wording you can come up with that is perfect. Also, I had to come up with something that was fairly general. If it took longer than a postcard, it felt less like a morality to me, and more like ritual spell (+2d6 to enter Heaven). I thought about it and thought it.

You want to know what I came up with? Only this:

Don't be an asshole.

That's my greatest commandment. That sums up my general beliefs in a single sentence. Don't be an asshole. If you try for a loophole, you are an asshole. If you have to think about it, you are probably being an asshole. Outside of those two additions, it flows off the tongue and solves so many things. Because in order to do just about anything that has ever been considered a sin in any religion, and by this I mean a "sin" and not merely a violation of cleanliness rules or some complex hoy day feast, you have to be an asshole. Adultery, murder, robbery, rape, violence...asshole things. The deadly sins, with their pride and their gluttony and their jealousy, are at least the sort of things that assholes will do.*

To further expound, I suppose I would have to admit that everything can be assholish to someone (can and will be) and that everyone is going to be an asshole sometimes, no matter what. Just try to minimize it, make up for it. Assume there is no atonement for being an asshole. You can't make it better, but you can overall make it less in ratio.

There you go.

Si Vales, Valeo

* If you want a second greatest commandment, how about this: don't poke the bear.

August 25, 2008. Monday.

(11:21:52 PM CDT) Finished Tess of the D'Urbervilles

I finished reading Tess a few minutes ago. Considering that I had about a third of the book to go, give or take twenty pages, I figured it would be a couple of hours past the time it is. I suppose I was absorbed. It is interesting to return to a book you already know. I will not say "reread" because the time I first came upon it, I was still in my early days, at least my early phase, of reading. Though I was 21 or so, and had read great quantities before, I tended to be more voracious in reading than passionate, more in love with the act of reading than with what was being read. It is, I suppose, a matter of the universal versus the singular. While you can love reading, or you can love a novel, the two loves are not the same. I had developed all of the former, but had not quite gotten around to pacing out and reading in such a way that I could honestly claim the latter.

As I said, coming back to a novel that you know the ending to is a tricky thing. I've read a quote from Nabakov that states that you cannot love a book until you reread it. When you first read it, you fall in love with the plot and the characters but you are driven to finish it and spend most of your reading in a sense of wonder and confusion. Since you cannot know the characters, nor the plot, nor the theme, until you have seen it as a whole, then you can not develop a true love for a book until it done. In this sense, it is upon rereading that you approach a book as a solid thing, not a flowing thing. This does not quite count in my case. Knowing of key scenes and knowing the end is not the same as knowing why some things happen to Tess and what some things are meant to mean. Though I read the last third in about an hour, as opposed to the days it used to take me to read books, I still feel like I absorbed more than it's previous incarnation (book as a read thing as an object), by a long shot. More than that, though I knew it how it ended, in at least a general sense of memory (I was lacking memory of the very final chapter), I found myself wanting a different ending, though I am unsure how Hardy could have accomplished such, without destroying the whole premise.

We'll discuss this coming up Wednesday at the Book Circle, and then I will retire it and wait my customary two or so years before returning to Hardy. It is a good and wholesome measure to take.

For now, I will turn to some lighter reading, maybe a good quantity of it, and some fiction of the interactive kind.

Si Vales, Valeo


(12:41:12 PM CDT) Movie Watching, Zork III, Random Links.

This weekend, as can be ascertained by my previous post, I watched Beerfest. I also watched Feast. Beer was involved. It was pretty cool. I'm amazed at how easy-flowing Beerfest is if you just want to kick back with some friends and watch it. Feast is also fairly easy-flowing. Reviews should be forthcoming for both. I've not reviewed much stuff on my website lately, so I'm looking to get back into the habit.

That was kind of late (post-11pm) on Saturday night. Sunday night, Sarah and I listened to "The Dunwich Horror" radioplay. It was a lot of fun. It has been a long time since I have read "The Dunwich Horror" short story, and a while since I have listened to an old school radioplay. Getting both at once was a nice evening. I found myself really hoping for a return of such things. Audiobooks are rampant, now. Everyone is getting into the audiobook thing. Podcasts are everywhere. Youtube.com shows that everyone wants to be a five-minute star. How about making some good quality radioplays? I'm game to try. I've been wanting to delve into it for a while.

Just as an FYI, BBC apparently still produces radioplays. I know that The Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords had radioplay variations. A few years back, they did Twilight Zone episodes. The problem is, this doesn't really help a yank like me. Sure, I can bittorrent them, but I would actually like to support the format. I'm a "picture it yourself" kind of guy, always have been. This is why I read such large amounts, play Interactive Fiction, and much prefer MUDs to MMORPGs. The Twilight Zone epsidoes come out at about $2 each, so for the 130 episodes are about $100 more than the original series' DVD boxset. I found a torrent with 40 or so of the episodes, and will listen to them, but don't know when I could afford more than that.

I also know that there are a few fan made radioplays. I need to look into Pendant Productions. For all I know, there is a truly thriving community and I've just been overlooking it. But, just glancing, it seems to be more in the 10 minute episode of the week format, not the full blown radio serials of yore.

Going back to Interactive Fiction for a bit, I finally beat Zork III (you can read my short, unspectacular review here). I'm glad to have that out of my way, partially because I have been putting off playing games like Pentari: First Light and Treasures of a Slave Kingdom until I had beaten that. I'm still a fan of the long-form over the short form, IF. That's just me.

Well, until I get the handful of reviews written, I guess I'll just sign off with a short Bag o' Links:

Si Vales, Valeo

August 24, 2008. Sunday.

(04:45:42 AM CDT) Some people will tell you...

Some people will tell you watching Beerfest and drinking alongside is a bad idea. Especially when you run out of beer and switch over to 100 proof vodka and whiskey. Those people have no fun.

It was kind of awesome.

At least a "kind of awesome"...

Hahah...philosophy humor.

Take that, Locke!


August 23, 2008. Saturday.

(01:58:46 AM CDT) Post "The Second" of the Night: Today, and Bag O' Links

Today has been longish, but fun. Well, not fun so much as interesting. Not interesting so much as full. That's it, today has been longish. Let's leave it there. We had about twenty stores to visit and a handful of bills to pay, or that could be the other way around. We hit up Big Lots (some neat Halloween stuff that we will be getting in the future, and I got a fun candle stick holder) and Garden Cove (yay bulk cereal) and Kroger (foods!) and Petsmart (foods for the four legged members of the houseld!) and Atlanta Bread Company (foods, again) and John's Big Brother (I'm sure you can guess) and Booklegger (or is that Book Legger?) and Kaffee Klatsch (yes, food) and Foods for Life (I wonder) and The Downtown Rescue Discount Center (i.e. "thrift store") and that might be it. Did that list seem tedious to you? Well, there you go.

Booklegger (or Book Legger) we stopped at to get either a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (for the bookclub thing I do) or a copy of Rushdie's Midnight Children (for the Booker of the Booker thing). I purchased neither. Never found them, but I have found that the Legger's selection sometimes eludes me. Books are in odd sections, sections end and begin in funny places, and so forth. At any rate, I did get a book by Iris Murdoch, whom I was introduced to in a philosphy class. This seems to be thoughtful SF, and that intrigues me. The other selection was Heinlein's Job, which has made me laugh quite loud a couple of times. It's been a bit since I have read anything by him (at least a year) and so it is kind of fun getting into his "let's make direct statements about stuff" chauvinism.

I also saw a copy of The Swarm which intrigued me, but I didn't pick up the copy. I might, assuming that a certain cat of ours has a not-expensive vet visit next weekend, go back and pick it up. But she comes first. Damn her.

Tonight, Sarah and I decided to not go out and eat and just stay in. Hell, half our day was apparently spent shopping for food, might as well cook the stuff. I used some creativity to try and make a cheap, but wondrous, meal. Let me break it down for you, because it ended up being pretty awesome:

1lb of sirloin steak, about $5.50. This I egg battered, using a blend of egg and soy sauce and pepper and garlic (about $0.30). One of my sides was a simple french cut green beans (about $1.00 worth). The other one was a rice casserole using mushroom soup, zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, beans, and friend onion (um, maybe $5.50 total). Then we had cold, green tea to go with it. Total cost for a seriously excellent meal is around the $11 mark. It's things like this that make not want to eat out any more.

Enough of my bragging about my cooking, let's move on to a couple links that I have found:

(1) Fat people working for the Alabama government will have to start paying a fee to get insurance. I'm ok with this. Sort of. I mean, if higher risk people (smokers, overweight people, people with permanent medical conditions) pay relatively minimal fees (like $25 per paycheck) so that standard health people can get isurance for free, then that makes sense. Again, sort of. Where does the line get drawn, thought? Red meat is really bad for you. Job stress is bad for you. Studies are starting to show that active fat people are healthier than lazy skinny people (within reason). Will people, if things like this continue, have to start turning in food journals and excerise notes? One thing I like is the fact that the program is giving people a chance to change their lifestyle and not pay the fee.

(2) Two (well, more than that) get busted for sexual misconduct. What was the misconduct? Gay sex in a public place. Does this mean in a car or in a big gay orgy? I don't know. At any rate, the upshot is that you have two men in the sixties getting put on a sex offenders registry for consentual sex, with adults. Oh, and the 65 year old man is going to jail for six months for it. Good. Fucking. Luck. I have to say that I am ok with a sex offenders registry, but it should reserved for sexual predators, right? I mean, if not that, then what's the point? You have an old man who has to announce to neighborhoods that he is a sexual offender if he moves? Whose name and address comes up right next to the pedophiles and serial rapists? This is as bad as the 14 year old who got put on the registry for having sex with a 15 (I think it was) year old girl. Why in the hell is our tax money going towards that? Sure it's wrong to have sex in public and sure there needs to be some sort of fine for it, but the rest of their lives on the registry? For consensual sex with another adult. Oh, and the 65 year old man will do real swell in prison, I imagine.

Ok. Two more happier links to finish out the longish day. First off, remember when I posted a link to pictures that weren't photoshopped? I have one under consideration. It's a picture of a man jumping over babies. Several babies. It looks like he makes it ok. Is this trick photography? Or did a man convince several women to put their babies on the ground so that he can jump over it? Is this photoshopped?

Wait, turns out I answer my own question. Today's bonus link is to an article on baby jumping. He's dressed as the devil and he jumps over new babies to get the devil out them. Ok. Don't get it, but I can live with it. Man, if the devil ever trips, it sucks for the babies.

And, without further ado, Cracked.com's The 6 Most Depressing Happy Endings Ever. Lot's of spoilers, so beware, but they bring up good points.

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:06:44 AM CDT) Post "The First" of the Night: The Nobama Minivan

A friend mentioned a minivan chock full of bumperstickers in response to a recent post. She was referring to what can only be called the "Nobama Minivan". It is a minivan that has a good number of bumperstickers, almost all of which are specifically about "anybody but Obama for president!" It is in the parking lot of the apartments I live at. It doesn't move much, at least not when I am out, and I have no idea who owns it. It does bring to mind a Demitri Martin joke "A lot of people don't like bumper stickers. I don't mind bumper stickers. To me a bumper sticker is a shortcut. It's like a little sign that says 'Hey, let's never hang out.'" Or, in this case, it does make you think "Well, I'm pretty sure where you stand on most issues."

It also brings to mind the study that said people with more bumper stickers are more aggressive drivers. The conclusion I reach, here? This guy drives as agressively as fuck. Especially if he ever sees Obama in the lane next to him.

Now, before I post the picture, let me say a few disclaimers. First off, it is a little shitty to post pictures of a person's car with his permission, but I blotted out all of the identifying marks that I noticed and left only the bumper stickers. I assume that he (I also assume it IS a he, notice) is ok with having his beliefs posted. Secondly, there are many reasons why some people would hate Obama as a president. By which I mean many rational reasons. There is also reasons of prejudice, racism, and extreme bipartisanship. None of these stickers really say much toward the rational side but alot towards the latter reasons. Third, this could be irony, a practical joke, a crazy person, or due to any other essentially apolitical reason. I know people who believe the things said, here, so I am guessing not.

With the preamble out of the way, I give you the NOBAMA MINIVAN!

If you want to see a bigger version: click here. It is 5.7 megabytes, keep in mind.

There are sixteen bumper stickers, two of which are not directly about Obama (but fill in some gaps). They are as follows:

  1. "Just Say NOBama"
  2. "ObamAppeaser"
  3. "Obama ??? 08. When Hell Freezes Over" [Note, I think there is something about McCain underneath this one, but can't recall]
  4. "obama [oh-bomb-us] the dictionary doesn't lie"
  5. "Obamanation" [For those confused, just say it outloud and kind of fast. It makes me chuckle, being my favorite anti-Obama pun]
  6. "Beat Obama? YES WE CAN!"
  7. "NOPE" [Note: the "O" is from Obama's logo]
  8. A dog peeing on Obama. Bulldog = McCain?
  9. "NOBAMA"
  10. "My congregation loves America"
  11. Another "obamanation"
  12. "Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less"
  13. "CHANGE is all you'll have left" with an "No Obama" visual cue
  14. "NOBama. No Experience. No Presidency" [A pet peeve of mine, the same people who use this argument voted Bush in over Gore, just like the same people who use the "War Hero" argument for McCain voted Bush in over Kerry]
  15. "Obama Sucks" [My favorite, straight and to the point]
  16. "A Vote for Obama is a Vote for Osama. It's no coincidence his middle name is HUSSEIN." [I've blown this one up in the full version shot so you can see the tag-line clearer]

I think that is all of them. Anyhow, with very little variation, none of this offer a reason to note for Obama. Maybe you can give them the "no experience" thing, but it brings up questions of what counts. Does the 7 or so years that Obama was a state legislator not count? Then why does Bush's 6 years of governorship?

This is the same crap I had to put up with in the mall during the 2004 elections. I would find a ton of these hand written notes "Terrorists say 'Anybody But BUSH!'" and, consistently, "A Vote for Kerry is a Vote for Osama!". They would be taped to books, stuck in books, stuck in front of books, stuck behind bucks. I had to go and weed them like locusts from a corn field. On an almost daily basis.

Considering Kerry got similar treatment, I won't say that it is 100% surely racism or anything this time, but I do think it has a lot to do with it. I think people are a little weirded out about electing a black man with a Muslim name to office. Black, of course, by Mississipi's one-fourth law. Somewhat less by genetics and all that.

Is it unfair for me to say that our politics have descended into inanity (that's not a [sic])? Or is Alabama just warping my perspective? Someone help me out, here.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 21, 2008. Thursday.

(02:29:08 PM CDT) Fun With the Internet

This afternoon, a friend sends me a link to an aerial view of Barack Obama's house with question "is...is that a mosque across the street?". My first thought, before seeing it, was "Of course not, because if it was, then I would have heard about that from the half dozen or so e-mails I've received in proof of his Muslimhood. When I actually looked at the picture, I also pointed out that the dome kind of flat. He countered there was a minaret, which I said wasn't a minaret, just a similar looking spire.

There is always a chance this is a mosque with slightly different sensibilities, so I cue up Obama's address (available on request) and then do a search for mosques in the Hyde Park area of Chicago. An absence of evidence is not evidence of an absence (Carl Sagan, by the way, not originally a Rumsfeld quote, but how could I resist such an obvious twist), though, so I had to actually prove what the building was. This, as you can guess, proved to be not quite so easy. While Google Maps, and all the like, are good are showing you pictures, they are not always good with applying labels. Since I had a physical address, I could just brute force it and type it all likely nearby addresses (each block is about 100 "points" and so if I tried, say, +/- 10 points then I should be close). I tried some of that, and kept getting enough annoying fake results (e.g. "Great Real Estate at Address AAAAAAA!") that I realized that wouldn't quite work.

I think started searching for "corner of Hyde Park and Greenwood Ave" (viewable by going to street names in the map above) and looking for pictures. After a few minutes, I came across this shot. There is something of a failure of captioning there (the upside being that if he had actually listed the name of the building, instead of the location, the search may have failed). But, upon blowing it up, I found the words "...H ISRAEL CONGREGA..." written over one of the doors (and window decorations that hinted at a place of worship, combined with an empty parking lot, which implies also a place of worship on a day of no worship). Searching for (assumed) "Israel Congregation Chicago Illinois Hyde Park". A few possibles came back as hits, but soon enough I was able to narrow it down to this website and did a GIS for KAM Isaiah Israel and ended up with this American-Architecture.info page. Bam. That's a match.

Total time, including distractions, was about an hour. Not that it's an impressive way to spend an afternoon, but it does sort of back up those that are paranoid. I can start with a visual image and a general location and start searching through random notes until I find more of a name.

I partially post this because it is probably a matter of time before this picture crops up:

Yes, by making it, then I increase the chances that it will show up. This way, though, I can make up a nonsensical mosque name and include the "It's a parody" note.

Anyhow, if you ever get the whole "he's next door to a mosque" in an argument, there you go. The more you know! And Knowing is the Half the G.I. Joe.

Si Vales, Valeo

Current Music: Various Artists - Gothic Spirits 3

Current Read: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

(12:04:03 AM CDT) The Good, the Bad, and the Cool

The good news is that my brother David is doing ok. I know that's out of the blue but he had to have some spinal surgery today and there was at least a fair chance that he could have complications. He apparently had none and now has something like three months of recovery in front of him.

The bad news is that TVA's proposed hike of about 17% is only half of the ballgame. Looks like they are working on some sort of additional base rate hike next year. All told, this might mean that the TVA, which lauds itself with many a pat on the back for being the world's cheapest source of power in the history of all mankind (that was only about 17% a hyperbole), is looking at an adjustment of nearly 50% increase in one year. Thank the gods that the power companies aren't monopolies, right? Thank the gods that competition can keep them down. Right?

The cool is sort of a two parter. First off, I decided to do something kind of odd. I graphed Sarah's and my usage versus the Huntsville Utilities listing of "Degree Days" or whatever they call it (it's something like an the number of degrees higher or lower than 72 added up over the month, so a month with everyday at 74 would be about 60 degree days, I think). The actual numbers haven't been busted for any sort of real ratio, just straight up visual comparison. The results are to your right (that's a vector graphic, so if it shows up funny, you need to be able to render those for some odd reason, my browser can render them except not in the layout of my page, so I converted them to a png, no problems). It looks like less than that dotted line, we tend to have an almost perfect relationship, but higher than that line, and it gets worse (we spend more per degree). I would estimate that the difference starts about a mean temperature +/- 8 degrees of 72, so from about 64 and below or about 80 and above. I also notice that our line is drooping, showing us more willing to use more power as of late. What does this mean for you guys? Nothing really, but it gives me ideas on how to conserve energy in the future. Just notice things like adjust temperatures for a tad bit of extra comfort (where ACs are put at 70, instead of 72, when it is hot outside for an additionally fast cooling down.

The second part of the cool is my friend Niko's article in Valley Planet this month about Little Brother. You can read the article online. Niko shares a similar view to my own: the ideas presented in the book, though not always right on the money, bring up some interesting points of debate (that is my own, read the article to get Niko's).

If you want to read mine: click in this general area.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 20, 2008. Wednesday.

(03:51:43 PM CDT) Finished season one of the Twilight Zone, Italian suicide question, etc

This afternoon I watched the final episode of season one of the Twilight Zone: "A World of His Own". Sexist, at least chauvinistic, but I really enjoyed it. In fact, it's going to probably be in my top 5 of the first season (along with "The Lonely", "Time Enough At Last", "The Big Tall Wish", and "The Hitchhiker"; with special shout out to the pleasant and horrifying wierdness of "And When the Sky Was Opened"). It's been about eight months since I started watching the series, which is a really long time for me to watch 30+ half-hour episodes, but the problem with TZ is that once you make it through the first 8 or 9 eps, you can kind of see exactly where every episode is going. Well acted? Sure. Well directed? Yes. Take the "The Mighty Casey" about a robot baseball player, a perfect pitcher, who needs to receive a heart to stay on the team. You know where the episode is going but Jack Warden is superb as a washed up coach willing to make a somewhat illegal deal. It's almost impossible not to love him in this episode.

In my random surfing, this morning, I came across a video that seems to be a man trying to set himself on fire, live on Italian television. If anyone knows Italian, or knows the incident, what's going on? For those nervous, all you see is him douse himself with some sort of fluid and then get manhandled by some guys that rush and get him. No actual immolation takes place.

Alright, I guess it is time to make some spaghetti and then go get some supplies for the "Welcome briefly back, Eli" thing tomorrow night. I also have to figure out what to do about another bookcase. This is all complicated by the fact that a good number of most recent books tend to be older books that need a little bit of care, and so shouldn't be just laying around quite so much. I really have reached the point where I need to sort through and remove a couple of boxes worth. I'm sure there are many books where I have duplicates, or triplicates, and books that I picked up because they looked neat or something but did not retain. I suppose I'll take them down to the library this weekend and donate them.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 20, 2008. Wednesday.

(12:05:47 AM CDT) Harold and Kumar make a poop joke, the marketing of books, things not photoshopped.

I watched and enjoyed, to some degree, Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay, tonight. It was alright (you can read my review). I laughed quite a bit, generally enjoyed myself, but still feel that it is much less than the original. Really, if you cut the scenes with Neil Patrick Harris out, it would almost not be worth it. It's a movie with Dubya smoking pot in one scene, how could they have made that scene feel painful and uncomfortable?

I've been reading a handful of articles about why the book industry seems to be collapsing. I'm not sure what the truth of the matter is, but it seems almost inevitable. My guess has to do with real shoddy confusion about how to handle the whole industry by the people in charge of getting books out and making people interested in them. In other words, a failure of marketing, and a failure of planning. Too often, the book industry is trying to capitalize on quick successes. Most of them, like the Twilight series, are over before they really started. They got seven years out of Harry Potter (well, seven school years, I suppose it took, what, about a decade to get all the books out?). Most other series are moving along at a much more tepid pace. This is not a bad thing, book lovers are going to be diehard with it. They may check their favorite book out, but they will tend to get them through legitimate methods.

But where are the t-shirts, the TV adverts, the bulletin boards? Where are the magazine ads, the "coming soon" boards in bookstores, the radio spots? Sure, there are all of these things in small numbers. But the other forms of "media" (to use a general term) get bumper stickers and fan clubs and fance Myspace layouts and videogame tie ins. Books so rarely get these. In fact, assuming you don't do Wikipedia (or even Amazon.com) style research, if you went only by what you saw on TV or online in general browsing, you couldn't walk into a bookstore and know much about anything on the shelves. I worked in a bookstore for three years, I do constant research online and through industry magazines and the like, and I still only know about 3/4 of the books coming out. Every time I go into a bookstore, I find out about whole new authors and series that just weren't promoted. Books are one of the few arts that are mass produced that rely on word of mouth to get sold. And that is crazy.

According to Howard Sherman's blog, looks like James Patterson agrees with me (hold up,let me see if I can find the original source...ok, I assume this is it but it looks like it needs registration and a video player compatible with the site). The quotes on Sherman's blog, about the way the media will obsess and promote even the lowest budget movies while almost ignoring all except the rarest of books, seems true. Of course, to every point is a counter point. I came across this today on eric forbes' book addict's guide to good books. Essentially, if marketing forces control the books (and arts in general), what damage will be done for a quick sale? The article seems like it could use a little bit of tightening. Especially since we seem to be living in a worst of both worlds scenario, where books that are subject to strong marketing (move tie-ins, certain "A-list" authors) are dominating, however weakly, the market and most of the more stable books out there are being ignored.

Since talking about this both intrigues and depresses me, I figured I would throw this out there as a finish: Cracked.com's 15 Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped. you need to see it for these three images:

Si Vales, Valeo

August 19, 2008. Tuesday.

(03:11:13 PM CDT) The "Hell Hike". GTA3. HPLHS.

Yesterday, Sarah and I participated in what I might call the Hell Hike. It wasn't that bad, honestly, compared to how bad it could have been. It was neither that good.

We started out about 4:30pm. The plan was to hike down North Plateau and take Sinks down through Logans ('s?). Pop over Panther Knob and then go through Stone Cuts, down again to Sinks and to Mountain Mist and finally come down South Plateau. A 3 hour or so hike. Most everything worked well, until we got to Panther Knob.

Sarah had already expressed worry about taking Panther Knob. It's a grown up trail, in the best of times, and spiders are frequent about this time of year. I told her it would be ok, but I was apparently lying. The trail was extremely grown up, disappearing in places, and the spiders were frequent. Most were of the small, green variety, nothing harmful, but Sarah doesn't do well with any. I got her to keep going through the trail, figuring it would have to get better before too much longer. It wasn't a huge amount of time later, but it did take us about fifteen minutes to slog through the rest of the spider infested portions.

Except, that's not all. While 90% of the trail was spider free from that point on, with rare "cross-the-trail" webs, Stone Cuts was awash in them. Granddaddy Longlegs caked the walls. I can't quite describe how many there were without going into what seems to be hyperbole, but in places, you could hear them rustling, and in others the walls looked like water was flowing up and down them from all the little buggers. Hundreds at least.

When we finally get through "the den", and stop overloading Sarah on her phobia, I figure things will start looking up. Shortly thereafter, my foot slips off a rock and twists my ankle nearly 180 which somehow did something bad to my shin and to my left knee. Then it starts raining. With these two things, we just sort of scoot up the side of the mountain, which is kind of painful for me, and we get out of there.

As I said, it wasn't the worst possible hike that I could have experienced, but it was pretty rough. Moreso for Sarah than myself.

Today, I'm just taking it easy on the damaged joints. I think they will be fine by tomorrow.

I've been playing around with GTA3 some more. Beat all the storyline missions, several of the non-storyline missions. I have all the "R3 missions" and all of the hidden packages and unique jumps. I'm missing over half the rampages (and they often annoy me, so it might stay that way) and the missions that El Burro gives (because I waited too long and the Mafia won't stop killing me). Fun game, and I enjoyed "the punchline" at the end.

In other media news, I have a copy of The HPL Historical Society's "Dunwhich Horror" radio play. From what I have heard, it is excellent. It also includes some neat props. I love ordering from those guys, it is always worth it.

Ok, now to lay down for a few.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 17, 2008. Sunday.

(05:49:33 PM CDT) Family (two of them) a show. Random links because I just forgot everything else I intended to post.

In brief, my brother's wife (I ususally mean something else when I say "sister in law") showed up along with her youngest son. That was fun to talk to them for a bit. Then went and got lunch.

In briefer, my sister-in-law (see?) starts school tomorrow. Good luck.

In not so brief, I missed Niko and Mari's blessing for Kristabelle for a couple of reasons, but I just wanted to say that she has my blessing, what blessings I have.

Now, for a random Bag o' Links:

This last link I want to point out special. If you haven't read it yet, try out CNN.com's article about the "bitter side" to wind power, mostly focusing on a couple of families that have been "ruined" by the turbines. Not ruined financially (some of them were able to keep their land because of them) and not ruined job-wise (turns out the wind power has helped pump all sorts of money and jobs into the district). Ruined in the sense of a couple of grown ass men have whined about their land having turbines nearby. One guy has basically said, if you read between the lines, that his amateur hang-gliding is more important than his father. Another complains that his dad has no respect for the earth, by putting up such ugly things. The article discusses tears and stuff. Wow. I know that CNN often makes the opposing side look like idiots (that whole liberal bias thing they have) but really, the complaints here versus the benefits seem like a bunch of babies. It is literally like find millions in gold on your hand but complaining that they had to dig up the baseball field you loved as a kid. Read it and enjoy.

Si Vales, Valeo

(04:00:15 AM CDT) The Real World. Family a no show? The search for good tapers.

I just finished Natsuo Kirino's The Real World. I liked it. In my rating system (from Blech to Great, with Eh being central) I would say that it is Good. It gets a little tepid in places, and seems to be saying something that didn't quite make it through in others, but overall it works really well. Alicia, if you read this entry, you should check the book out. The main characters are all about your age and the backdrop for the whole thing involves life changes and coming to grips with knowing your parents as human and whatnot. The sumblurb I read made it sound like a murder mystery and the girls are scared for their life. It is nothing like that. It's actually about their fascination with the killer and their self-obsession and general apathy towards other in life.

My two favorite lines are almost throw-away, and maybe were meant to be throw-away, but somehow seemed to anchors of thought. The first is early on, when the one character realizes the smog warnings are probably announced by vans with loudspeakers. Almost no attention is brought to this line, but the idea that one of the "solutions" to the smog problem leads to more smog seemed to work as a theme, later, since the book is full of teenagers getting "help" and "warnings" from sources that add to the problems they face. A later line, asking if the killer would have spared his mother if she had had an affair also struck me as poignant. While he cites wanting to kill her because he hated her, the book strongly hints that she died because he simply didn't consider her real enough to be human.

I've been thinking about what the title means. While one character hints that the only real thing for the living, being the only irreparable thing, is death (in other words, the "real world" is the act of dying); I think it is also a somewhat sarcastic way of repeating what we always tell kids who are stress out about what comes next: "Welcome to the Real World". On top of this, all the characters sort of hide things about themselves, sometimes from themselves.

Besides reading, getting outside for a couple of hours, and doing some at-home errands, I ended up doing very little. I waited until about 7-8pm to see if my family did come up this weekend. Looks like, if they did, it was just my sister-in-law and another of my nephews. Which means they probably just visited my nephew who is up here and then went back. Oh well. I was kind of hoping to see some of them but that's the way it goes, I guess. Maybe next time.

Just one last thing, has anyone else had trouble finding taper candles as of late. I did find some at Target, that work nicely enough and aren't that expensive, but I used to buy them at Walgreens and a couple of other stores that don't seem to have them any more. I'm going to check out Dollar Tree and maybe another dollar store. It looks, though, like they have been replaced by the "safer" column style candles (partially safer because people just use hot plates to warm them now). Also, a lot of stores have dedicated their "taper" sections to these new smelly-sticks. Apparently some sort of "absorbs the crap out of oil" balsa wood thing that smells up a room real good. I don't like candles, though, for their smell. I like to read and relax by candlelight, so I'm kind of pissy about the shift.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 16, 2008. Saturday.

(03:05:13 AM CDT) Sarah Out of Town. The Ring Virus.

Sarah is out of town for a couple of days and I am just baching it up. I suppose. Reading, playing games, getting a few programming projects out of the way. Eating brownies and drinking straight from the carton (but, due to excesses a few nights past, not drinking). That sort of thing. It's a wild party over here, folks.

I have a backlog of movies, a large number of them foreign horror movies, that I plan to slug through over the next week or so, with the majority over the next couple of days. Tonight, I got the first one out of the way: The Ring Virus. Now, I am a fan of the "Ring-iverse" and have read all of the original novels, most of the manga adaptations, seen most of the Japanese sequels (I need to watch Rasen, though I have heard many bad things). This (The Ring Virus) is a Korean adaptation. I have heard mixed reviews of it, with most saying that it's either "ok" or very "not ok". Frankly, it's a movie with average acting, below average coherence, and amazing photography. I don't know who their DP was, but excellent job catching colors and angles.

I was hindered (possibly part of the coherence problem) by a translation issue. Some of the scenes had fair to middlin translation. The subs would leave out some stuff (as in one scene, where I am sure, based on the repetition of a word, what he said was "Let dead things stay dead, let closed cases stay closed"; but what it was translated was "Don't mess with dead things or close cases."), but would get the general gist of what was going on. In other scenes, there would be no subs or the subs would be the bare minimum of words. Something like "We should go outside and get the cellphone and call home," might come out "Go outside. Get cellphone. Should call." Only context of the scenes would help to fill in the missing words. In fact, the big twist about the "monster" was obfuscated by the translation. Anyone who saw the version I saw would not know what the big "OHHHH" was. All they would know is that before the Big Bang, men and women were one being. I'm pretty sure that's not a Korean belief, so I'm guess the subber screwed up.

Ok, time for me to grab some cranberry juice, finish reading Watchmen, start a random Kirino novel, and get some sleep. Good night, folk!

Si Vales, Valeo

August 14, 2008. Thursday.

(12:50:21 PM CDT) Early morning revelries.

It seems stereotypical that an evening dedicated to celebrating my nephew's birthday, in which the theme is "drink a large quantity of bad beer", would end with two-thirds of the final guests trading face slaps in what could best described as "quasi-friendly". It also seems stereotypical that the one guy get hit in the ear and the other in the neck. But, we are talking about an evening involving an average of about fifteen 12-oz beers per person with names like "High Gravity" and promising "Bold" (read, a pungent bouqet of aluminum and bile) flavor and costing an average of about two cans on the dollar. Man, the stuff that we men do. [No, I was neither of the slappers, though I do sport a goose from punching my nephew on the arm as he punched me on the arm, and there is a crack on the wall where he pushed me and then a router got put back together where I shoved him back, let's just say he is more Irish than most: the red hair, freckles, and short stature should be the tip off.]

As most evenings involving machissimo and beer, it was 98% fun. No regrets from me, but the fact that I had well over a gallon of something that can only be described, in retrospect, as vile means that my stomach is a bit on the strike side today. I'm not sick or hung over, just not sure if I like myself right now, that is all. For those wondering "Why, Doug? Why!?" the answer is kind of complicated. It mostly boils down to me never drinking beer from a can, never drinking crap beer, and never drinking enough beer (and almost only beer), to really push the possible hang-over, toxic-gut syndrome. In other words, I've never had a night where I drank like a senior in high school, and was curious. The reviews are in, and it's pretty much two thumbs down. There is no aspect of last night that would not have been enhanced by superior drinks in more sane levels.

Happy birthday, J-Dawg.

This weekend, Sarah is going out of town and some of my family are supposed to be coming in. They were supposed to come in last week, but never did. I'm not sure why they didn't last week, so I'm not sure how likely it will be this week. I hope I get to see them, and if not then I suppose I will sit around in the quiet and read, which really doesn't sound half bad to me. I have the new Natsuo Kirino and Joe Lansdale books in transit and I will probably be reading them if they get here. If not, then maybe some Brian Keene or Wodehouse would be in order.

With all those various trials and tribulations out of the way, I'll end this with a couple of interesting links. The first one is, I assume, time sensitive and is mostly due to the picture and it's caption. Since they will probably take that down when the editors find it, I have screenshotted it and you can see it below:

The second bit, here, I am sure is fake because it feels staged, but it makes me chuckle. And, what's more, I've not yet seen any definite evidence outside of the cartoon-like events (old woman alseep in streets, angry yuppie, exploding air-bags!) and the way that the accidental camera just sort of captures the most telling shots. It's been going around for a year or so, so you guys may have already seen it:

Si Vales, Valeo

August 13, 2008. Wednesday.

(12:47:13 PM CDT) A return to LJ of sorts. Dir en Grey concert.

Hi, everybody. I've been planning on doing this for a bit, now, but keep forgetting to actually get around to it. I've decided to start reposting my stuff on LJ, at least as a back-up copy. There was a time when my server crashed (this was a few years ago) and I lost some important posts, which was why I posted regularly to LJ to begin with. I'm already on LJ everyday, reading and replying to friends. I also like the idea of having some sort of feed system set up. It occurs to me that I could probably program my own backend to generate a feed, and will attempt to do so over the next month or so, but for now I am cool with just posting stuff here. When I get that worked out, I'll let everyone know. I tend to avoid using the "prebuilt" server-side blog packages because they just aren't as much fun. I will keep everything on LJ as friends only, and things on my personal site as completely open, to avoid any search engine debacle.

As for the subject of my first post, it's a good one. Or a bad one, depending on your musical tastes. Maybe a neutral one, if you just don't care. Or a mauve one, if you have synesthesia. This November, I am going to see Dir en Grey in concert. For those not knowing what I'm talking about, then feel free to get your Wiki on. I imagine for at least some of you, the name just sent you fleeing the post. For others, you might feel a since of curiousness. I'm going to go ahead and post their latest video, "Dozing Green", which I enjoy about as much as I enjoy any of their music:

I like them alright. Not my favorite band, but I've been listening to them for a while and have a good half-dozen songs of theirs that I really enjoy and none that I hate. I mostly cue up the albums Vulgar or Marrow of a Bone and play it in the background. My sister-in-law started adoring them after I showed her one of their videos ("Agitated Screams of Maggots", one of those "really enjoy" songs). I'm going to the concert partially because I know this is a once in a life time event for her, quite possibly. As active as their tour schedule is, they may come back, or they may break up before they ever get a chance.

What makes me the most nervous is the "fans". Not that I am scared of them or anything. I'm old, but not that old ("GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU KIDS WITH THE SPIKED HAIR AND YOUR JAPANESE MUSIC!"). I'm just, well, annoyed by the most of them. Because I know exactly what's going to happen, the concert is going to be filled with 16 year olds with cell phones trying to record video of every second of the concert in desparate hopes to upload it to YouTube. They are going to be texting each other the whole time, only half paying attention to the concert. I've seen it the last couple of "teen friendly" concerts I have been at. They are more obsessed with a digital proof of the event than the event itself, as if they have no idea they are interfacing with the world directly and don't need some sort of streaming media to verify. This, and other things. I'll stop being curmudgeonly, now.

Si Vales, Valeo

(04:17:49 AM CDT) They Are Now INSIDE OF MY BRAIN!

I was about 30 seconds away from making a post about the (joke?) strange newsarticle about Morgan Freeman narrating Zork when I decided to read some webcomics and saw this XKCD.

Si Vales, Valeo

(03:06:36 AM CDT) GTA3 Continues. Advancement? Tess Discussion, Part 1. Jonathan's Birthday.

Grand Theft Auto 3 is a dangerous game. Not on any moral level, but just the fact that there is so much to do, and getting around takes so (realistically?) long that you can spend 20 minutes just setting up a mission, only to fail it, and then repeat. An hour later, you have done some other little podunk task that will probably just end up with you getting betrayed by whomever you did it for. So much fun. I'm seriously enjoying myself with this game.

Addictions (though I only play GTA3 to waste time or when I have free time, for the most part) makes me think of something I spotted on BoingBoing a few days back: Freedom (note, link points to BB article, not original post). Is this advancement? Have we come so long and so far that we no longer use apps to get unto the Internet, but instead use apps to get off it? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Tomorrow promises to be all the busy and stuff. I'll eschew aforementioned violent videogames and read through some of Tess of D'ubervilles, as well as read some study guides about it. Then, tomorrow night I am going to be leading the first in a two part discussion about the book. My friend Becca and my wife Sarah will be there, at least (and I think only, them). If you think the sound of discussing books with me is tempting, drop me a line and I would gladly like a few more people to join our little group. I need to get some sort of page up about it or something.

After the thing with the book, I will be doing the thing with the cheap beer. It's something of a social experiment, possibly a dangerous one. I will have with me the two guys with the highest alcohol tolerances I know, excepting possibly my own. The three of us, plus one or two extras will drink in celebration of my nephew's birthday (he turns 23 as of a few hours ago, congrats!). We will each chip in $20 worth of bottom shelf alcohol: MD20/20, Natty Ice, Aristocrats. And we will drink major amounts (from 20-30 drinks each, possibly) over 6 or so hours. Then, we will talk about our feelings.

Sweet. Jesus.

Si Vales, Valeo

Current Reads: Watchmen and Tess of the D'ubervilles.

August 11, 2008. Monday.

(02:39:19 AM CDT) Shocking Photo.

I read this article about an English teacher getting his students to do "The Shocker" this night/morning and my first thought was "um, that's not the Shocker". I mean, hand gestures that slightly resemble hand gestures could be jacked up versions of those hand gestures, but The Shocker has specific, anatomical meaning. If you spread the two fingers wide, then you are pretty much declaring your intended victim has the largest vagina known to man, or two vaginas, and neither of them seem to make much sense. My guess on this one? Jeremy (with a last name that could be Kaeik or Koeik) was attempting some other sign. Some have suggested ASU (the symbol is about as accurate for that one as it is for The Shocker). At any rate, he took the picture and someone found it. Whether "JK" mailed it to the guy who posted it, or the guy who posted it found it and yoinked it, the title belongs to the poster, not to the original taker of the image. Reading the comments on Japan Probe brings to mind some important points:

  • Always, ALWAYS, take the Internet with a grain of salt.
  • If a guy claims to know another guy, and lists no information besides something apparent in the photograph, consider it suspect. I can do a GIS and get someone's photo, and then make a funny caption for it and claim that "my friend sent it to me" if I want to try and make it more believable.
  • Just because a friend labels something with a funny title, doesn't mean that was its intention. Remember the "drunken pirate" teacher debacle that probably wasn't even an alcoholic beverage?
  • JK didn't pick the title. Say that to yourself a couple of times. This is important. This is the Internet.
  • JK didn't post this to Digg, so don't blame him for doing so. Say this to yourself a couple of times. This is important. This is the Internet.
  • Look at the comments on the site. If half the people have no clue what The Shocker was, and half of those who "know" don't comment that he is doing it wrong, then comments like "Of course he knew it was the Shocker" are meaningless. Besides, that's NOT THE SHOCKER.
  • Maybe the guy is a dumbass and thinks it is the Shocker. Which makes him both rude and dumb. And he has stupid friends, who post things to Digg.
  • Why do so many kids have their eyes closed?

I think the single most disappointing thing about that whole ordeal is how little we have matured as an Internet culture. I mean, either that is an adult man making a totally dumbass statement (which I doubt), or that is a guy making up a BS statement about another guy (which I suspect). There is no tangible anything, not even the hand gesture being made, that claims that this is actually an English teacher promoting obscene hand gestures. Yet, several are getting upset by it. I would like to see some concrete proof before some Jeremy gets his ass reemed.

Si Vales, Vales

August 09, 2008. Saturday.

(06:13:09 PM CDT) Just Back from Hays Nature Preserve + Note this Bullshit

Just got back from hiking around Hays Nature Preserve for a couple of hours. About 3-4 miles of hiking, I suppose. Lot's of fun wildlife to look at.

More importantly, there is some information that I find important to share. You know how the justification that our schools, roads, colleges, museums, parks, and other sundry public works suck is based on the fact that we are the lowest in the nation in taxes? Turns out that's a tad bit of double speak bullshit. Our taxes, at $3,144 per the average person, is the lowest, but that is based on our generally low paying jobs. Adjusting for that, there are 12 states, several that have arguably better public works, that rank as better tax havens. How about that?

You can read more information on Al.com. Or you can look at the Tax Foundation's All States Per Year tax comparisons.

(03:31:18 AM CDT) My Haul

Today has been a busy day. I suppose that was yesterday, but chronological standards, but I'm not quibbling. I got to see Allen, James, and others. I got to go and get Mexican and Chinese dishes. I got to head over to Kaffee Klatsch's version of "Welcome back, OT!" and get a pitcher of their pale ale and their hefeweizen. Theirs seems to be a very authentic hefe, which are supposed to be cloudy and very full of flavor. Their pale ale has a strong hops flavor as well. I only got to try a little of their amber but it looks like Olde Towne is seriously scoring high marks all around. Their beer is excellent on tap. If you like beer even just a little, go and grab a pitcher. (For more information, you can try their website.)

In something of a nonsequitor, besides I mentioned it while at the Klatsch, any retail peeps might want to check out NotAlwaysRight.com, which gives great proof that the customer is not always right. A lot of the stories seem to be simplified and mildy exaggerated for effect, but the kinds of stories told are amazingly common. I've seen variations on just about all of the ones that would apply to a mall book store.

Using that to segue into book stores, figured I would post my haul from Booklegger. I found some good books. As always, the selection is really random but there were strong winners:

  • Bently Little's The Walking
  • F. Paul Wilson's The Tomb
  • One Who Flew of the Cuckoo's Nest
  • A collection of plays by Shaw
  • Shaw's Man and Superman
  • Complete poetry of Pope
  • Selected poems of Tennyson
  • A collection of plays called Fate of a Cockroach
  • Hemmingway's posthumous A Moveable Feast
  • A copy of Wuthering Heights for the book club
  • This large book of fantasy novellas where famous writers with famous series write related texts (as in, King writes a Dark Tower novella, Jordan writes a Wheel of Time, etc).

I've plenty of fluff to read over the next few days. Yay.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 08, 2008. Friday.

(12:53:13 AM CDT) American Shutter, American One Missed Call

Tonight I watched the US remake of Shutter and One Missed Call. All I can say is "no". Just "no". I'm not a purist, or a truly anti-remaking snob. I tend to hate remakes because they care more about money than source material, but there are good ones. I prefer The Ring to Ringu. I would generally recommend the remakes of Grudge and Dark Water to anyone who likes horror movies. Movies like Cloverfield show that America has some fresh ideas to apply to tried and tested Asian genres.

These movies, though, are just cheap excuses to try and rope in 125% the budget through horror afficiados and frat boys who will buy the DVD because of the box text*.

I'll start with Shutter. Acted very poorly, with a mix of good mood pieces and bad special effects. They wanted to shoehorn in a scene to amp the "sexual" connection between the guy and the ghost, and bad CG flies were the result. They also wanted to increase the woman's placement in the haunting, which is ok, I guess. Annoyingly, the cut out some of the minor scenes and stretched some of the major scenes to the point of ineffectiveness. The "flash bulb" scene is a good example. Rather than have her show up twice, she shows up a dozen times in different poses. The biggest pain of the remake is the "twist" towards the end and the justification for everything. The makers wanted there to be a definite moral reason behind everything the bugger did.

While One Missed Call is acted better about 90% of the time, the overall result is worse. Shutter is by relatively new directors (the original I mean) and so there were a few scenes that were not done correctly, but had a innate skill about them. There is room for improvement. Takashi Miike, though, knows exactly what he is doing and makes movies his own. To ignore his direction, as well as to toss in a total clusterfuck of bad CG characters that have nearly nothing to do with the plot, is a bad choice indeed. Had the movie tried to scare you less and focused more on the creepy storyline, it might have made it, but it was looking for an excuse to cause the audience to gasp as much as possible. The ending is a perfect model of this. Gone is the moralistic or at least intriguing questions of the original ending, we instead get exploding windows and a battle amongst ghosts. Not even worthy as a popcorn flick. It's almost historically bad reviews would back up my claim, as would the director's insistence that no one involved was to know anything about the original.

More power to you if you like them, but frankly the originals are relatively easy to find and both superior. Get the original DVDs over these, please. Or, if you want something more American and recent, then I recommend The Tripper and Teeth. Both or sort of humorous takes on horror, but that's about the best you are going to get if you want to avoid remakes.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: For instance, One Missed Call, which has a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and a current 3.2 on IMDB.com, still managed to make almost triple its budget when you factor in DVD and worldwide gross. According to it's Wiki, anyhow.

August 06, 2008. Wednesday.

(10:32:03 PM CDT) Feeling Better + Worse

My sinuses have mostly cleaned up, today. They had been bugging me for a couple of days, some weird not-quite-cold level of sickness that would never formulate. The worst of the symptoms was my right eye watering for a couple of days until it was completely sore and swollen. That seems to have decreased.

I went with Sarah for a half hour walk a few minutes ago. That was enough to make me feel almost jittery. My body wants to get back into exercise after the hiatus (no real exercise since we moved Alicia). It also wants to pass out from the not-quite-cold. Ah, joy.

We ended up not playing tennis tonight because Sarah broke a finger in lab. Nothing "big", but painful and it will cause her to hang up her tennis racket for a month or so while it heals. It was just one of those things where equipment goes awry and sometimes it gets you and sometimes it doesn't. It got her.

I did get my UPS package today. This made me happy. I notice that the package wasn't marked in any way that would have suggested an attempted delivery yesterday, so they didn't even really fake it. I suppose they just scanned it and said I wasn't home. Oh well. I'm not that made, but it did pile on top of my not-quite-cold and frustrate the hell out of me yesterday.

After making my post last night, I went to Sammy T's to see the band Alter Bridge. I had no idea who they were, but listening to a sample clip I said "they sound like Creed, sort of". Turns out, they ARE Creed, sort of. Heh. I'm always talking about how bands sounds like other bands and how this or that involves pieces of that or this. I'm sure it annoys you all when you let me hear some new song and I am all "It sounds like Incubus in their second album". It's just part of my Gemini-infused "arty but analytical" nature. It is cool when my powers of analysis are THAT accurate, though, that I pick up on playing styles I wasn't even 100% aware of to make that call.

As for Alter Bridge, I will say this. I'm not 100% impressed with their studio stuff, but if you can catch them in concert, I recommend it. Good stage presence, up-beat rock. A set just about the right length, right as the audience was getting ready to give up on staying positive, they wrapped up. You hear people talking about raves and how the energy was positive and they felt better just being there. That's true of Alter Bridge, at least the show I was at. I came out in a much better mood than when I went in. Also a little deaf, because their live show is way louder than their studio stuff would attest. I give the concert a Good and the studio an Eh. But if you a Creed fan, definitely check them out.*

By the way, I got the most awesome news afterwards. Kaffee Klatsch, the bar, is having a "Welcome back, Old Towne (Olde Towne? Ye Olden Townen?)" this Friday. $2 pints. Woooooooooo! Heffie on tap, baby! I'm stoked. Really, I am.

I'll end this will a couple of news articles dealing with energy costs and fuel shortage and whatnot. If you find the fact that TVA is raising it's rates distressing (note the comments blame libs for this), then be thankful that the War in Iraq has caused lower fuel costs (no really, that's their argument). Discuss!

Si Vales, Valeo

Currently Listening: Theatres des Vampires - Anima Noir.

*: Keep in mind, this recommendation is coming from a guy who is current listening to a band called Theatres des Vampires.

(04:01:49 PM CDT) Heat!

It's so hot outside that Fontainbleu smells like burning rubber and asphalt. I'm not sure what the temp is, but it definitely sucks. I've been wasting some time today playing through Grand Theft Auto III and surfing the net. I'll have more to report this afternoon, I imagine.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 05, 2008. Tuesday.

(08:52:05 PM CDT) The UPS Effect

A package that I was expecting tomorrow somehow got on the truck today. Of course, I don't have the package in hand because something I call the UPS Effect (in this case, the Aggravated kind) happened. What's the UPS Effect? It goes something like this: UPS will make a residential drop off sometime between 1pm and 8pm. If you do not answer the door within about 30 seconds of knocking, at whatever precise minute they show up in that 7 or so hour block, then they will slap a note to your door and truck off. We have two regular UPS men, who know me and my neighbors well enough that they will often just leave the packages some place safe and alert us to them. The upshot is that the UPS Effect doesn't quite happen here. We, instead, get the Aggravated UPS Effect. This is when some UPS worker, usually at the end of their shift (which can be anywhere from 6pm to 8pm, depending on their mood) or those who don't want to find an apartment, will slap a "recipient unable to sign" notice on the package and not even try to make a delivery. Occasionally, it's an honest issue (the address doesn't specify an apartment due to a gaffe on the shipper's end). Sometimes, its a mistake. They try and go to the wrong apartment. On nights like tonight, they just wanted to go home. None of my neighbors got any attempted delivery note and there was no knock on my door. It's pretty pissy form to claim that recipient wasn't home on a night where the recipient is watching TV with his wife during the time frame you are talking about, in the room right at the door you supposedly knocked on. It gets rough around Christmas, when longer days and temp workers increase the chances of it happening.

Since I wasn't half expecting the package until tomorrow, and no plans were disrupted by it, I'm not that miffed. I'm just generally miffed at the fact that my stuff has stay out in this heat for another day and risk damage because some idiot decided that his relatively large salary (for the training and skills required) wasn't enough justification to walk up stairs.

Let me specify one more time, the two regular guys don't pull stuff like that. It is almost always a sign of one of the temps. The regular guys will go out of their way to make sure something is delivered.

Anyhow, the serendepity of having a package come today so that my schedule is free tomorrow didn't happen. Now I'll have to actually try and be here from 1pm to 8pm and hope some dick doesn't pull that again. If I try and call UPS costumer service, I traditionally get a response like "I don't know why they didn't deliver, but we always attempt." "Well, there was nothing attempted." "I'm sure you just missed the knocking, sir."

The two worst times were (1) when the guy left the package in the truck and walked up stairs to put the "I tried to reach you" note on the door and I just happened to see him do it (he pulled some "well, I was going to knock, first, the note was just if you weren't home") and (2) when the guy left the note on the corner of the wall near my apartment.

Sigh. I'll stop complaining now.

Si Vales, Valeo

August 04, 2008. Monday.

(11:05:14 AM CDT) The Reading + Drinking Show!

Last night, in a successful attempt to unwind, I went out to Ruby Tuesdays with Sarah, then we went walking around Bridge Street for an hour or so. We came home, she went to bed, and then I proceeded to read Twilight (the first half) while drinking heavily. The book is not really my cup of tea, but it's a quick read and I see a good number (though not all) of my female friends liking it. I did recommend it to my sister-in-law especially, since the subplot of recently moving and having to worry about re-establishing a social order blended in with an intelligent bad boy and all that it implies seems like something that will make her chuckle if nothing else. The booze, however, made me quite enjoy the novel up to Chapter 13, when it came to a crashing halt. Either I was coming down, just very tired, or the writing caused me to shake my head until I had to give up. For those who want to read it, 13 is the chapter that started the whole thing, a dream the author had. It really is a nadir for the book, dripping with fanfiction like powers. I would more expect to find it posted to some role-play message board than the middle of one of the most successful romantic, young adult, dark fantasy novels of all time.

In the middle of reading, I was chatting with my friend Allen (as well as others) and I made a really off color anti-joke. The sort of thing that isn't even meant to be a joke, but was told as though it was. Then, I blamed it as being a late, post-Cold War Russian joke. Which came after the "Eastern Moscow" (or east-muscovite) style as exemplified by Yakov Smirnoff in which an ironic reversal of fates is the height of humor. As I "explained", in a fictional introduction to a book I was supposedly writing on the subject, it is not that Jokes turn on unexpected circumstances, Unexpected Circumstances turn on jokes. As something of a non-sequitor, I mentioned we could dedicate the whole thing to danah boyd [sic]. This made us go and look up information ON danah boyd, which was amazing because it not only led me to her recent post about the very Twilight series that I was drinking and reading while chatting, but it also led me to "Can Social Network Sites Enable Political Action" (containing stuff worth agreeing with and worth disagreeing with, it's a quick read you should probably glance through) which has this line: "Content may be public, but the public may not be interested in your content." Which has East-Muscovite written all over it.*

Today is destined to be day dedicated to getting Gentleman of Leisure and Twilight finished. Then I'll post about my reading list so far.

Si Vales, Valeo

Current Music: Dir En Grey's Vulgar

Current Read: Stephanie Meyer's Twilight and P.G. Wodehouse's A Gentleman of Leisure.

*: I'm actually a big fan of Russian humor, but partially because the translated jokes almost never actually work as jokes and instead are funny because they are expressed as jokes, not because they are humorous. I have no idea what sort of word play goes into the original language, but many will come out sounding like "What do you call a man with a quart of vodka and a swimming pool? Uncle Peter!" and you start laughing much as if they were a Mitch Hedberg routine. In fact, Yakov Smirnoff's style of joke telling is actually called (at least according to the Wiki) Russian Reversal and is a form of the antimetabole. The important thing to remember is that he derived it from American humor, not from Russian humor, and so the whole context of my faux research was to be ludicrous, as I am sure you realized.

August 03, 2008. Sunday.

(12:38:10 PM CDT) Road Trips, Packages Delivered, Car Alarms, Upcoming Book Spending Mega-SPREE!

Yesterday, left the apartment about 8am to travel down to Auburn (got there about 12pm) so that we could spend 5 hours unloading stuff in the heat of the day and then, once things started cooling off, call it day, and then spend 4 hours traveling back (after dinner with the in-laws) just to get in some time post-midnight. I'm pretty tired, but not too bad. The results of the working out and being active was obvious. Moving heavy stuff in 106 degree heat index didn't really phase me besides to incite massive sweating. The car trip was much worse on me. With the 1.5 hour dinner added in, the total sitdown in fairly cramped space comes out to be about 9.5 hours. My body hated that. On the way back, we made a couple of stops and that helped.

Alicia has been "delivered" and will start Auburn University in a couple of weeks. She has a nice trailer down there in quiet, mostly student trailer park. I don't think she knows what she will study just yet, but I'm sure she'll pick something kind of cool.

My plan for the day is sort of rest up and maybe get in a game of Munchkin and maybe get in a game of tennis. Probably do neither but get some walking in, which is just as good, really.

My plan for the day also involves not going insane as my neighbor's car alarm keeps going off. I'm pretty sure I know which neighbor that belongs to, but egads, man. It goes off randomly about 10-15 times an hour. Egads. Maybe there is some trick where you can make someone's alarm go off a lot so that they disable it or start ignoring it, and then you steal their car. Maybe his battery went dead, too. Maybe he's pushing the panic button over and over again and laughing. Maybe I'm going to take a brick to it and hope for the best.

That annoyance aside, I am looking forward to heading to Booklegger this coming week and going on a "spree". Not too much, but a good $50 or so dollars. Just to get some older editions of poetry and plays. Their philosophy section has been picked mostly clean, as of last time I looked, so I'm not expecting much from that quadrant. I also need to buy a new "bookcase" pretty soon, but I have an idea on that front. I think I am going to buy something much like what we had at Book Gallery where it's a large wood and metal deal. I have a good number of books that have strange dimensions or are too small to really put on a regular book shelf. That way they could be stacked and sorted.

I guess that's it. I'm sleepy all of sudden.

Good Sunday, everybody!

August 01, 2008. Friday.

(03:27:49 PM CDT) Best and Worst of Self-Sacrifice in Disaster Movies

Note. This post will contain spoilers!

I've been briefly thinking about the obligatory "self-sacrifice" scenes in various disaster and quasi-disaster movies. About how, say, all disaster movies involving lava/volcanoes have really dumb scenes in which one person, usually an older person, wades through lava or acidic lakes to save someone else and the audience is treated to a slow melt scene. The worst offender in this category, due to the multiple layers of pointlessness attached to the act, was in Volcano where we see the guy slowly melt wading across a few feet of lava trying to save some other guy. Why he didn't throw the man, I don't know. Why he didn't hit, say, with his left foot and try a rolling move, I don't know. Why I kept watching the movie after that, I don't know. Then you have move with the grandmother in Dante's Peak and the acidic lake scene. Which was a painful, slow burn. Not really pointless like in Volcano, but it gets a big thumbs down due to the least convincing aftermath. The grandmother, with sores on her legs, proceeds to up and trot off to heaven. She didn't even melt. And let's not forget the "I'm wading in FUCKING MAGMA" scene from The Core, which gets some sort of award for being over extended, physically questionable to the extreme, and having absolutely no dignity at all.

Then you have a few movies where the climatic self-sacrifice scene is considerably less than the quiet dignity scene that is less hyped. Take Titanic. The final scene of sacrifice, designed to make tweenage girls cry, is paltry compared to the quiet dignity of the band. In Day After Tomorrow, you have the amazing scene of the scientists staying on post to help out until they are unable to escape, and then facing death like only Brits can, versus the utterly pointless "buried mall" (40 foot drifts?) scene that was meant to be more meaningful.

The examples I can think of that I would consider the best scenes in this category all involve (1) the entire human race, (2) a sarcastic father figure and (3) said father figure facing death gladly and with force of will: Armeggedon, Independence Day, and Sunshine.

If anyone else has any suggestions, let me know and I will post them.

Si Vales, Valeo

(02:11:27 PM CDT) Can We Play "You Do the Math?"

Fact 1: Americans have cut fuel demand.

Fact 2: Auto-sales continue to plummet.

Fact 3: from Wiki and memory - the ratio of petrol prices to $3 a gallon gas to $100 barrel is more profitible than the ratio of $4 for $150 a barrel (a 1/3 versus 1/2 increase), meaning the profit ratio has dropped.

Conclusion? Record breaking profits for gas companies. What? Let's discuss.

Si Vales, Valeo

(01:08:22 PM CDT) I Feel Exhausted

Little adventures are the best kind. Seriously. There is nothing like having an exciting night and being able to sleep in your own bed. This is much better, say, that having an exciting night and having the arraignment in the morning. Last night when my nephew contacted me and said he needed someone to walk with him to campus to try and find his missing cell phone, it wasn't really a problem. It was late (about midnight when contacted, about 1:30am when left) and I don't really have good shoes for hiking around town anymore, but still no big issue. I went barefoot, for better or worse, and we hiked down through the UAH ghetto, across UAH and over toward Tech Hall. Which was locked. Tight. Luckly, Jonathan had brought one of the best "find the weak spot in security" tools around: me. I found an old door in the back, that sort of scary metal door that you never approach, and we just hiked in through whatever room it opened up into. His cell phone, alas, was not to be found. We tried the "you call the number and I'll walk around and see if I hear it method" to no avail. We tried to "look in the same place twice" and got nothing. We then hiked back on campus, skirted around the old South Loop and harassed some of his frat buddies to give us a ride back to his place. Where he owed me a beer. And then I passed out all sorts of good, about 5:30 this morning.

That is why I am tired. I slept for only about 4 hours, not sure why. I need more. On top of that, the barefoot walk has caused my ankles to feel a tad kicked. I'm about to go for a mini-walk, something about 20 minutes in duration, and try to stretch things out.

I've wasted most of the day doing very little. I'm sleepy enough that I can spend an hour trying to figure out what I am doing. Then, doing it takes an hour, and then realizing what I just did takes another. I basically got up, read the news, and then got tired of it. I turned on the terebi, got to watch the Murray versus Moya match in the Western & Southern Financial Masters. Now that, as an aside, was fun tennis. A ton of mistakes on both sides, some awesome plays on both sides, and a match that could have went anywhere. For some reason, I tend to root for Murray when I have a chance. Not sure why. Anyhow, now I am back to tweaking some stuff on the computer side. And typing this.

I'm not sure if I have pointed this out yet, but wanted to give a nod towards Brian Keene for excellent service to fans. When he found out that his new book, Earthworm Gods: Selected Scenes from the End of the World, was not likely to have a second run besides its ultra-rare hardcover edition, he started writing a Conqueror Worms sequel for free to be posted as a serial to his website so that his fans wouldn't suffer from the lack of new fiction in his intriguing "other" world (Keene is more known for his zombie works, so the CW world is something of a cousin who isn't heard from much). I'm a pretty big fan of the Conqueror Worms world, but just couldn't afford the hardcover. I hope it one day gets released as a mass market or trade or something, or the best of it gets set into some new anthology, but there was nothing I could do. I, however, am enjoying his sequel. I don't see any sort of tagging or categories, on his blog, but you can read chapters 1, 2, and 3.

Let's see what other things have struck me as postable this morning:

  • Monkey King Olympics Trailer By "Tank Girl" Artist (YouTube clip by way of Toren Atkinson's blog).
  • Road Trip Through Alabama Civil Rights History (CNN.com). I would be interesting in trying this, sometime.
  • 41% of employers consider skill and dedication to a job to be pointless. Sure, that's not what it says, but it is what it says. Isn't smartass Doug fun?
  • Zombie Haiku. Except it's not haiku. Haiku is a fairly structured system that tends to revolve around nature and often has a certain way of calling back to itself, three small thoughts that weave together. On top of this, there is generally meant to be a seasonal connotation and a "cutting word" that shapes the relationship between two lines. While 5-7-5 is the general rule, it is not set in stone from what I understand, especially in English haiku*. What you see in the comments and the clip itself is senryu, which is a much more fun art form very similar in structure but more open. My sister-in-law has commented about it not being haiku (the fake haiku there is mine) but it looks like the presence of 8 instead of 7 syllables might derail the biting comment. Oh well.
  • Damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, Obama goes from being chastised by McCain for being too black to being chastised by blacks for being too McCain. Or maybe that's black by chastised for McCain too being?
  • Huntsville man stabs friend for buying wrong beer. Ah, Natty Ice, is there nothing you can't kill?
  • Finally, Wal-Mart urges workers to vote against Obama due to Union issues. Now, while I am all for companies taking a political stance, it seems pretty shitty that a company that gets that many kick backs and subsidies would despair the government helping it's workers (you know, besides as a way to provide medical care to their uninsured children). What's more, the articles claim that companies like Wal-mart should be afraid of chopped into profits compounded by rising costs, I find it hard to feel sorry for a company that has had another record breaking year despite everything. I don't even like unions all that much, but I consider the claim to be that sort of "pretend it's for the common man" type of politics that irks me.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: since a Japanese syllable tends to carry less meaning than an English syllable (for instance, the Japanese word for "yes" is "hai" which is actually two on, some English haiku students prefer to tighten up the English haiku to shorter phrases while obeying other rules. An example of a possible English haiku that wouldn't pass a high school English class despite being more correct than most that do, could be: Mist low and playful, orphaned from summer storms, knocks against my feet. Three separate thoughts building into one image.

(12:07:59 AM CDT) Unwelcome mail, pest, guests, trips, farewells, and other sorted stalkers

Tonight, we went off to Grant to swap out cars. This weekend we will be delivering Alicia to her new home and future alma mater: Auburn University. This will cause the weekend to suck in three ways. The second and third are the trip down there, and the trip back, respectively. I'll assume you can figure out the first.

After we got back from the trip, I found a Book of Mormon looped on my door. I don't know how many of you know my Mormon past, but it's not really that big a deal. I'm sort of surprised and slightly annoyed that they seem to be tracking me down. Maybe it's a coincidence? I don't know. There may be something, somewhere, that causes them to flag my name for visits and for mailings. That something almost HAS to be my past with the church, but I would rather think that I am just "Mormon material" rather than think they are crosschecking across address changes and the like. Oh, and if you are watching me, I have a copy of the Book of Mormon already. You didn't have to leave me another.

More annoying that this are a couple of earwigs we found. Here is the Wiki. My favorite bit: "Earwigs are omnivores that are evolutionarily predisposed to hiding in warm humid crevices and as such one may crawl into a human ear canal. This is not, however, a location where they are frequently found." HAH. Suck. We've been laying "traps" (sheets of damp newspaper) to see if they are attracted to them. If we find more (I've spotted two distinct ones) then we'll have to call in pest control.

In even more revolting news of the annoying, I keep getting tons of spam mail (as in real trees died to make this shit) and so much of it irritates the hell out of me. I get just about every right-wing conspiracy mailing I can get. Did you know that Obama is planning on tripling taxes after his election in an October surprise? Neither did I, but the Washington Times is there. In their defense, they didn't actually say that, but the tripe they call news is almost that bad and, what's sad, most of their "reports" aren't even backed up on their own website. For instance, they blame Dems for raising the price of gas and food by pushing for ethanol despite, say, Bush's own pushing for ethanol and without, say, giving reasons why ethanol use will cause petroleum to increase in price.*

And, well, Sarah may have a stalker. Sigh.

The flavor of the week is unwanted, ladies and gentlemen. Time for the Dog Days to commence.

Si Vales, Valeo

*: presumably, they are not referring to an effect causing gas prices to rise to make up for lost demand. Since gas is still going to be used, and the demand for it will not likely drop below 95% its current usage due to how slow Americans are to change, adjust the price to make up the gap is viable. If it drops in usage again, you adjust the price back up. Eventually, demand drops faster and you drop the price by about 5% and that should be enough to rope some people back in.

Written by W Doug Bolden

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