Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Yet another toy I want that Christie probably won't let me have.
Have I ever told you how much I hate packing for a camping trip? My head fills with all the things that could go wrong, and I have to weigh what to take against what it actually weighs. Canoeing is better, in that weight is less of an issue (is that why our canoe is always bottoming out?), but worse in that more things can go wrong. Hypothermia, anyone? A midnight cold snap in a wet sleeping bag isn't just a bad time, it's dangerous. And that's without thinking about Christie's allergy to bee stings and mine to, well, some damn thing in meat. Finally, there's my aversion to going hungry. Or letting anyone one with me go hungry. I can live without my elevensies, but second breakfast is a must-have.

So why go? Why leave my happy hobbit hole for the wide wild world?

I've got this t-shirt at home with "Free Spirit" on it underneath a Chinese ideogram. Years ago, a friend from China took exception to the translation. He said a clearer translation would be "swimming with the current". How very Chinese. But I understand because my nerves hit their height when we're on the beach, loading everything into the canoe, tying things down, taking final stock, but then Christie's in the front of the boat, and my feet are in the water pulling us off the gravel, and then my ass hits the seat and I can feel from the wobble that there's nothing holding us down, and then the current grabs the bow and points us downriver and there's nothing to worry about for the next couple of days except when do we want to stop for lunch and where should we pull off to sleep.

And that is my favorite feeling in the world. Well, second favorite. My first favorite is the next morning, handing Christie a cup of hot tea to take off the chill and seeing the grin on her face.
Part of what I love about Malcolm Gladwell's blog is that it is (so far, at least) largely dedicated to the things he's gotten wrong and the caveats he's been unable to include.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Evidence that Douglas Adams very much understood the universe. Apparently quantum computers can answer a question you haven't yet asked. But can they then tell you the question?
I was feeling a little bummed about not winning the lottery, but I've got to admit that these folks definitely had it coming.
I have no use for this, no place for it, and it would serve absolutely no point whatsoever in my life. I want one anyway.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This article is a nice example of what happens when a reporter has had all the skepticism boiled out of them. CenturyTel, our local phone company, is going to the state to have price controls removed. Why? Well, according to the article, it's so they can have the freedom to lower their prices whenever they want to.

Um, yeah. Why am I skeptical?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sorry. Comment spam has reared its ugly head, so word verification is back on for comments. If there was a better way, I'd do it.
On Being an Introvert: "They should sell skybox seats at parties for people like us."
This one's for Billie: I Will Knot! (via)
Now Google is defending itself from pro-Chinese government critics who say they don't censor enough. I'm not surprised. I've always thought the creation of a "censored" search engine that could be circumvented by simply putting your requests in all caps was a classic case of doing the absolute minimum they could do to get by. They're too smart to do otherwise.

And compare their behavior to that of Yahoo, which has revealed the identity of disidents to the government.

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Greased Lightning" just came over the muzak at work, and, given the acoustics in the bathroom, I was able to hear the lyrics better than I ever have before. That is one seriously dirty song. I hadn't realized that the Pussy Wagon from Kill Bill was actually a Grease reference.
If you live in or near Columbia, this weekend is the True/False Film Festival. Looks like some good flicks this year, including a Big Smith documentary and concert!

Friday, February 17, 2006

My impression of American Idol has always been that the contestants are either terminally weird or vacuously pretty, with the sort of pop vocal stylings that make Mariah Carey so boring to listen to. Imagine my surprise, then, when Christie and I got lured by the promise of a total freakshow into watching the audtions, and got to see people make it to the top group who are clearly channelling Billy Holiday and Joe Cocker.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

This video reminds me of a little conversation Christie's Mom and I had over Christmas, while Rob snacked on leftovers at dining room table:

Her: You need to be careful about what you put down the garbage disposal, Mike.

Me: I know. And if it clogs up, I promise you can say 'I told you so.' I also promise never to use an plumbing tools that require an air compressor.

Muttering from the table: I'm never going to live that down.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I just happened across this Valentine's day sonnet, and while the sentiment and imagery are nice, the mastery of language is what blows my hair back.
Finally, Proof of Voter Fraud in 2004 in Ohio.
Interesting Washington Post story about Morou Ouattara, the chef at Jack Abramoff's restaurant, Signatures. Abramoff's legal troubles killed the restaurant, and now the chef is looking for work. He's got an appearance coming up on Iron Chef America. I wonder how they'll handle his being unemployed? Also, his cuisine is a mixture of African, Middle Eastern, and French cuisine, and he's an immmigrant who worked his way up from dishwasher to head chef. Not exactly what you'd expect to find running things at a Republican hotspot.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Note to Self: get this book.

Note to Others: I'm just finished reading Gene Wolfe's The Knight, and I can't quite explain my reaction to it. It's about a teenage boy pulled from our world into another, and magically transformed into a great and powerful warrior. I've read a dozen books with that as the seed of their plots, and there are hundreds more that I haven't. They generally suck. Almost every woman or woman-like creature that our hero meets seems to want to sleep with him. Again, generally not a good sign. And the plot jumps from one quest to another, half of the plots left seemingly unresolved (it's the first of a two-parter, so who knows?). Frustrating to say the least.

I can't put the damn thing down, and it's having a serious affect on my sleep cycle. The characters are vivid and true, and the writing is casually beautiful and evocative in a way that appears to be tossed-off, but is actually precise as hell. I highly recommend it.
Looking for a place to hide from Muslim rioters? Here's a hint: The Danish Embassy is not ideal.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Great article by Malcolm Gladwell on pitbulls and profiling. How to solve a problem: get real data, and do what works. How not to solve a problem: Stay at the surface, and go for something quick, decisive, and visible.

Monday, February 06, 2006

How did I know this happened in Springfield? Door to Door Tattoos Result in Infections.
Just added to the blogroll: Guy Kawasaki's blog, which includes rules for emails and the following gem: "There's not enough time to take care of the people you like. Why should you waste time with people you don't?"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

FYI, you no longer have to register to comment. I'll be leaving it that way unless comment spam becomes an issue, in which case I'm not sure what I'll do. But we can burn that bridge when we come to it. As a preventative measure, though, I will leave the word verification feature on unless y'all find it to be a hassle, in which case it's gone, too.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The wonderful thing about being my friend is that you get to hear the same stories told over and over again until everybody can sing along. Seriously. It's not a bug; it's a feature.

Now, I know a lot of those same friends read this blog. But I have at least two readers who don't know me in real life, and have never had the opportunity to be bored by these stories. I hereby resolve to remedy this situation as soon as I can think of one of my boring old stories which don't involve doing things so recklessly stupid as to cause my mother in law to question my fitness to provider her with grandchildren.

So don't hold your breath.

In the meantime, though, I can tell you that when I was first learning to cook, I was so habitually broke that a kitchen timer seemed like an unreachable extravagance. If the recipe said "bake for 9-10 minutes", I'd flip through the CDs until I found one with two songs in a row that added up to about that time, and play those songs as a timer. If you have to know where I got that idea, then you've clearly never seen Hudson Hawk. And, frankly, you should probably keep it that way. Personally, I think it's a great flick, but everyone else in the entire world seems to think it sucks.
A quick note from the New Orleans branch of the family:

I know that you all must be tiring of Hurricane Talk, but for us that is the daily spin. There has been so little progress and so much suffering that it is hard for people to move on. Many people are still waiting for the insurance adjuster. There are 100,000 insurance disputes in LA alone --- waiting for hearings. Our lot in life is personally much better than most. However, all you have to do is look out the window for a reminder of what a mess the entire Coast is in and how little progress has been made.

We are back to leaking chimney again. It is now tarped. When they have time, they are coming back, reframing the top of the chase, make another new chase cap, etc. The beat goes on. Of course --- we had already repaired the sheet rock from the prior leak.

If you ever wanted lakefront property...this is the time. People are bailing. Selling their gutted homes for whatever they can get and moving on. Eden Isles, Oak Harbor, Palm Lake, etc. all available at give-away prices. Article in the TP this morning about this.

_____ _____’s parents have a FOR SALE sign in front of their home and it looks as though they are selling it "as is". I drive by there frequently as I would like to talk with them but I guess they are settled in Texas.

I talked to 2 more contractors working in the neighborhood about a window estimate. Of course, NOBODY has shown up. Right now I am up to 12 contractors contacted = zip results.

Dad is thinking that he might take a chance and order windows. Then over Mardi Gras he might have weather and time to give this a try..

Fence is coming along. I have a section of lattice to install today and some trim work. I’ll get the bottom panel of boards on after Dad comes home and gives me some directions. Dad has 5 gates to make... a pair of 12’( 2-6’s), a pair of 8’ ( 2- 4’s), and one walker gate. That will take a bit of time. The gate bit is tricky. We have loose dogs running all over the place. I can’t even take Dooley out into the yard without facing a gang of dogs.

Currently, George Bush and his fellow Crooks couldn’t successfully run for dog catcher in this state. Our Rep. Senators and Congressmen have distanced themselves from Bush and openly stated their disagreement with the LACK of help we are receiving from the govt. June 1 is the start of Hurricane Season and everybody is panicking. At the same time, FEMA has wasted so much money it is unreal. They moved in another FEMA trailer across the street --- next to ______’s. This time I have paid very close attention. They have had TWO carpenters there for TWO full days to date (not finished yet) (No wonder I can’t get a damn window)--- building STEPS and railings into the trailer. NO, nobody is handicapped or unhealthy. Apparently, the govt. doesn’t let people use the flip down steps that the rest of the country uses when they travel with their RV. This is so STUPID!!!!!!! No wonder each trailer costs $75,000 when they EVENTUALLY make their appearance. We are all so angry.

BTW...that one carpenter team is only ONE of FIVE FEMA teams that shows up_ in a specific order_ when the trailer is installed: 1.Site survey team, 2.delivery team, delivery install team (concrete blocks and hurricane straps), 3.sewer and electric team,4. carpenters for steps, inspections team... and lastly... 5.a person shows up after all this is completed and tells you how to live in your FEMA trailer and then gives you the keys. YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. Remember - there are over 300,000 homes gone... and many of those people are wondering where/how they will find $ for housing. Is this the best way to spend $75,000 for 18 months? HELLO?

The new wrinkle is that all the big root balls and stumps that are along the road and blocking important access points... FEMA has been refusing to pay for their removal. Why? Because according to their regulations, EVERY SINGLE STUMP/ROOTBALL (even though they have a satellite view), has to be pre-approved. A team must be sent out to obtain: GPS location, digital photo, estimated size and estimated tonnage submitted to FEMA...prior to removal. So, the of debris that was removed so that we could go forward: will not be reimbursed.

Next wrinkle is that people that want to rebuild -and have the resources- can’t now until after the next hurricane season. The block of time left isn’t long enough to get builder’s insurance and get the job done in the time available.

400 BILLION to rebuild Iraq! Hundreds of thousands of homeless people along the Gulf Coast!

So... other than that, "How did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

So, um, new template. I wanted to be able to take advantage of some of the new blogger features, and just couldn't figure out how to get there from here using the crufty old templates. Plus, change is good.

Unfortunately, that means some old comments got disappeared. But there weren't too many people using them anyway, so I'm not anticipating a huge public outcry. Nevertheless, if there's something you hate, lemme know, and I'll try and get it fixed.
Hell is drinking green tea all afternoon so you can be nice and chipper for that 3:00 phone training you're leading, only to realize at 2:59 that you don't have time to pee.
Okay, so now drug smugglers are killing puppies. That's it, I am so quitting heroin tomorrow.