30 June, 2002

TMBG

Went to a free concert featuring They Might Be Giants outside the MCI Center in DC's Chinatown. Definitely a good concert for being free. A little bit short (maybe 1:15, 1:30 tops), but they did play a good variety of songs. A lot of it was pushing their new album, No, which I must admit I hadn't even heard about until last night.

Of course, it was fun watching the teeming throngs of people scurrying on out through the gates after the first encore. And then watching them do a complete about-face once the second encore started. Sadly, while they did play Istanbul (Not Constantinople), they didn't make it the last song of the second encore. They went from a high-energy song that all of the fans new to a slower-tempo track off their new album to cap off the night. What sense does that make?

We heard a little bit from one of the opening acts, Juniper Lane. Kinda meh. They did a cover of Radiohead's Creep, which I guessed in 2 notes. Unfortunately, the lead singer, Vivion Smith (major stiffner, BTW), while filling the song with emotion, picked the wrong emotion. She was much too happy. I'm sorry, but when I think of Creep, I want to hear the rather anguished and tortured voice of Thom York, or someone similar. It's a sad, angst-filled song, damnit!

Ass Clowns

Not only is www.jamesness.com the most horrid little website I've seen (even compared to mine), it's really a fucking embarrassment to my name! Holy shit, this is putrid.

28 June, 2002

Boobies

I don't know what impresses me more about this story.

  • That we've made so much progress with technology that someone wouldn't doubt the plausibility of a mammogram satellite
  • That someone would actually think to call up women, tell them to stand topless in plain view of the world, and sound legitimate
  • Or, that there are women out there who are gullible enough to believe this. (More importantly, why don't I ever meet them?!)

Have I ever mentioned that I love boobies? :-)

Stupid people

Why must there be so many stupid people? Why must they work with me? To wit:

In addition to the changes notes above, we have also experienced problems in both forms wit the Acrobat program (version 5.0) freezing on us while typing on the forms. The problem occurs anytime a person presses "enter" and then "tab." So, if I press enter to creat a check mark on a button and then tab to the next field, the program gives this error message:
"AcroRd32.exe has generated errors and will be close by Windows.
You will need to restart the program.
An error log is being created."

This is in response to a PDF form that I created for one of our components. It has many, many fields to be filled in. So in addition to creating this form, it should also be my job to debug and fix Adobe's Acrobat Reader. Why is it that people don't realize what an application error is, and that it's a problem for the programmer to fix?

27 June, 2002

Holidays

Hey kids, it's almost July 4th. Let's be careful out there, mmm'kay?

26 June, 2002

Welcome, Citizen

"People are scared and they think that by giving up their rights, especially their right to privacy, they will be safe," Krug said. "But it wasn't the right to privacy that let terrorists into our nation. It had nothing to do with libraries or library records."
Under the Patriot Act, the government can now ask for your library records, as well as purchase histories at retail bookstores. Why, exactly, is it that the government should be able to find out what books you like to read?

For now, it's just the FBI investigating the library records of those suspected to have dealings with the terrorist attacks on September 11. But Dubya wants to go pre-emptive in the war on terror. It worries me that soon, the FBI (and CIA, NSA, etc) will all want to be able to peruse library records in real time. Keeping an eye on suspect materials, and seeing who is checking it out. My paranoia meter is on high with this one. There are a lot of books available from your local library that deal with subjects like flight training, bomb making, chemicals, money laundering, and the like. Mercifully, many of them are fiction, but hey, people still get ideas. Imagine the fun of explaining to your neighbors why a couple of FBI agents came visiting your home, all because you checked out a chemistry book.

I think it's about time to get in the habit of paying cash for all my purchases.

Marvin

Marvin the Paranoid AndroidLife.

Don't talk to me about life.

And I've got this pain all along the diodes on my left side...

Hollywood Out of Ideas

Dirty Dancing 2.

What's worse is that they've linked Natalie Portman to this project. How dare they sully Natalie's good name?!

25 June, 2002

Music

I've finally started work on my music database. Check it out.

Consumerism

Today's purchases:

I am so fucking stoked about this one! I've been waiting for a nice, new release of Reservoir Dogs for years. Although the bad thing is that it's part of a "Special Edition", and there are four different covers (Mr. White, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Orange and Mr. Pink). I just know I'm going to end up buying the other three because I'm such a trainspotter.

I absolutely hate and despise this woman, but damnit, it's always a good idea to know what kind of crap she is spewing this time around.

Those other two I ordered online. Then I went out and found a place where they've already ordered the books for you, and have them waiting to be purchased with that extremely low-tech method known as cash. (All apologies to Non Sequitur).

The Perfect Body

Forget all those exercise regimes, pills and funky injections...here's what the perfect body would look like.

Please note that this is biologically perfect body, and not a socially idealized body, so it's not going to look quite like what you were expecting. Although, personally, I'm quite happy with our current "upright posture and shapely buttocks."

24 June, 2002

Ummm

This one just baffles me.

Also, it's rather difficult to take a letter of complaint seriously, when the Is have been dotted with little hearts.

Mystery Solved?

I think I now know why Anya is so scared of bunnies.

Close your fucking mouth

Goat eating pumpkinRiddle me this, Batman: What would be the best way to get two of your co-workers to start chewing their fucking food with their fucking mouths closed?

I mean, I'm completely at a loss here. How to do you tell someone to do something that should just be a natural process? Did their mothers never take the time to say "don't eat with your mouth open, it's rude"? Do they not realize that they sound like the monkey house at the zoo around feeding time?

And what's worse is that is just shouldn't have that kind of effect on me, but it does. I should just try to tune it out. But that doesn't work. All I hear is this cacophony of smacks, chomps, slurps, and the like. It's like the sound is being pumped directly to my brain, and there is no shut off valve.


21 June, 2002

Moving day

Hi, we've moved!

Just moved all of the blog stuff to be my main site page. What the hell, it's not like I had anything going on with the old index page.

Be sure to update your bookmarks and links.

Hello Kitty

Hello Kitty has no mouth

Random

I am currently "experiencing" a Vanilla Coke. I will have to rate it an "eh". It's not horrible, but it could taste so much better. Personally, I'd prefer to mix my own Coke and vanilla flavoring. As well as some rum flavor. Ooh, or me-kong (I'm sure there are some special characters in there somewhere). Yeah, that's the ticket. I should beg Soon-ah for some.

The fortune cookie that came with my lunch says: Remember to share good fortune as well as bad with your friends. Huh? I mean, don't I share enough bad with you guys? Am I being too good?

And after spending the week actually having to work (*gasp*), I'm now sitting here, twiddling my thumbs. Just waiting for some big-ass assignment to get plopped on my desk.

Amusing links:
Wienermobile gets stopped along Rt 110 (outside of Pentagon)
Jack Black soundboard - do some cock pushups while you listen!
M&Ms games

School

As usual, a school board decides to trample all over their students' rights. Have fun enforcing this one. Maybe they can hire Rita Wilson, the assistant principal who was on thong patrol a while back.

20 June, 2002

Hooters

So I went to Hooters for lunch today.

19 June, 2002

Willow and Tara

Here are three interesting essays dealing with the relationship between Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Two by Todd R. Ramlow ( First | Second ) and one by Andrew Gilstrap. (Sequentially, it should be Ramlow 1, Gilstrap, and then Ramlow 2.)

Personally, I tend to lean towards Gilstrap's assessment. While I can see some validity in the witchcraft = lesbianism, it just seems as though Ramlow is looking way too hard for a connection that doesn't really exist. I've always agreed with the camp that equates witchcraft with drug use/abuse, because the parallels are just entirely too obvious.

Jerk-ass

BenderTo misquote Bender: the RIAA can bite my shiny, metal ass.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, lobbyists for the recording industry are making noises about charging royalties on the sales of used CDs. Used CDs!

I started buying used CDs 10 years ago, when I found a nice, un-assuming little store called The Record Exchange in Hampton, VA. I immediately fell in love (and no, it wasn't just the cute girl behind the counter). All of these CDs! So many different kinds of music. Imports! And they were cheap! I went in their at least once a week (usually two or three times) and I easily dropped $50-60 for a whole stack of CDs to listen to. I remember thinking, "there's no way I could do this at a regular music store. I'd never have any money." (Okay, I never did have any money. But I had a ton of CDs to show for it.)

Since then, I've certainly purchased my fair share of new CDs. Albeit that the band/artist had to have been really good to be worth the money. And more often than not, I would pre-order my music from a place like Amazon or buy.com so I could get a discount. But still, I would say at least 85% of my collection was bought used. And I'm perfectly fine with that. The cases are often cracked, and the booklets tend to be a bit frayed at the edges. But so what?! I listen to the music, not read the book.

But the other thing I've always enjoyed about the used CD shops is that they tend to be fairly small and locally owned (or at least regional, in the case of The Record Exchange). So I can actually take the time to talk to the store's owner, find out what kind of music comes in, how often it comes in, and even make requests to hold certain CDs for me. Not the sort of treatment I've experienced at places like Tower, Camelot, Mother's or any other number of corporate stores. (I don't even know which of the stores of my youth still exist, to be honest).

So it really pisses me off when a group like the RIAA pleads poverty and attempts to screw over the little guy in an effort to make a couple more greenbacks. "We're not squeezing every possible (and often non-existant) cent out of our product! Won't somebody help us recitfy this situation?" Oh, boo-frickin'-hoo. Guess what guys? You already sold the CD. Your participation in the product's life cycle is basically at an end, barring any defects in the media itself. (Sadly, there doesn't seem to be any mechanism for returning a CD due to defects in the music itself). Don't go trying to re-write the rules at this point to say that we, the consumers, are only renting the CD. That, my friends, a big old load of bullshit. There was a time when a company would learn how to survive without seeking these pathetic, state-sponsored handouts. If you weren't making enough money selling your product, you either changed your selling tactics, stopped selling the product, or went under. The market economy at work!

18 June, 2002

C-O-N...spiracy

Just to make things simple, here are some diagrams (1 | 2) to explain every conspiracy out there.

Sex

Alyson HanniganSo this one time, at S&M camp...

17 June, 2002

Starbucks

If you want to see the Starbucks poster that caused all of the hullabaloo, click here. It's amazing how fucking retarded and overly sensitive people have become.

English Ovals

Recent treasure:

English Ovals coupon, front, ca. 1956English Ovals coupon, back, ca. 1956

(Click for larger image. Approx 600K)

The times have really changed since then. No more razor blades or linen finish playing cards. We've come a long way, baby!

Kids Today

"Between college and family vacations, I just don't have time for a job," said Salamone, 17. Added her classmate Lindsey Norris, 17, who also has no employment plans this summer: "Call me spoiled, but I think kids in this area [of Fairfax County] are lucky they don't have to work."
Ah, to be seventeen again. No responsibilities. No real worries. No need for a job.

Oh, wait a minute. I did have a job when I was seventeen. I was out learning something resembling a work ethic. And I still had time to hang out with friends and do other things. So yeah, thanks, I think I will call these kids spoiled.

And another thing! These damn kids don't even know what Atari is. What the hell?

And where is my cane?!

14 June, 2002

Manson vs. Tyson

Quick little online test. See if you can figure out if the quote is attributable to Marilyn Manson or Mike Tyson.

I got 10 out of 15, but I don't know if that's something to be proud of.

Erasing Childhood

Santa Monica, CA now officially scares me. The principal of Franklin Elementary School has banned.....tag. Yes, tag, the game where you run around like a little fool trying to smack some other fool, for the sole purpose of making them run around.

One thing I've noticed, is that everyone is jumping on the anti-PC bandwagon with this one, because they like to focus on this aspect of the story:

But there was that statement in the school newsletter that seemed to trigger the debate. In the third paragraph of an article titled "Safety on the Playground," the piece reads: "The running part of this activity is healthy and encouraged; however, in this game, there is a 'victim' or 'It,' which creates a self-esteem issue. The oldest or biggest child usually dominates."
And admittedly, that's a pretty good reason to bash these people. It creates a "self-esteem issue"? Well lah-dee-frickin'-dah! Life creates a self-esteem issue. While there is a lot I can say about this, I will sum it up with a quote from my 12th grade Civics teacher: "Life isn't fair".

But on to my gripe with this:

The issue arose May 27 when Samarge informed parents via a weekly school newsletter that tag would not be allowed. But the new restriction, contrary to how it has been interpreted by some, was not an outright ban. Indeed, tag and other chase games are still played on campus, but under the supervision of physical education teachers.
The new prohibition only applies during the lunch recess of the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school, when there aren't enough adult teachers and volunteers on duty to ensure that the game will be safely played, said Samarge. In the past school year, tag and other chase games have been responsible for two concussions, a couple broken bones and countless bumps, bruises and scrapes among the students, she added. (For similar reasons, flag football was also forbidden during recess but, like tag, is played during physical education classes.)
So basically it boils down to: Little Johnny has the potential to get hurt, so let's make sure that can never happen. And to that I say, what the fuck? This is what happens to kids. They get hurt. They run around. They fall down. They do all kinds of stupid things. And they end up with cuts, scrapes, bruises and yes, even a broken bone or two.

I'll admit, I've been lucky and have never broken a bone, but I've done just about everything else. I got my thumb jammed in an electric pencil sharpener, for which I still have scars. I sliced up a couple of fingers with electric grass clippers. I handled broken glass. I probably have a scar on my head from when my first cat attempted to rip out a chunk of skin while fleeing from me. And you know what? I'm alive. I know that seems pretty damn obvious, seeing as how I'm typing this right now, but I just figured I would clarify the situation for some people. Obviously, I'm not extremely proud of some of these things I did as a kid, but it was all a part of growing up. Another quote, this time from Calvin's dad: "It builds character."

So what was my point? Ah yes: Stop taking away these kids' childhoods. All this is going to do is screw up their adult lives. If Little Johnny never gets to experience the thrill of digging a great big gash in his leg while tripping over his own two feet running around the school ground, what is he going to do when trips over his own two feet and digs a large gash in his leg on his way to work one day? Oh yeah, I forgot, he's going to sue someone for making him hurt.

13 June, 2002

Followup

Dante says: 50?!Remember the guy who decided that castration would be fun? (I'd hope so, the article isn't but a few inches below this one.) Well, here's a followup article about the guy who did it. Not only is this not his first castration, it's number fifty! FIFTY!

Criminal or not, home castration is not unheard of.
Several Web sites are devoted to the subject, which some men pursue for erotic reasons.
This could just be me. I am a strange person. But when I think of all things erotic, castration, particularly home castration, is the complete, polar opposite of, oh say, red-heads.

Now, my other beef with this case is with the doctors who re-attached the man's testicles. Yeah, I know that's what doctors are supposed to do: help people who have been injured. But this is Darwin, baby. I can't quite imagine his genetic material producing a lot of poet laureates or nobel prize winners in future generations. It sounds like this man is crying to be removed from the gene pool, so let's get him out before he pees in it.

Quite frankly, any time a person would like to remove themself from the process of making more little people, I think we should let them. Now, I would recommend a vasectomy for the guys out there, but if castration is what you're really, really clamoring for, then go for it. Just don't let me know about it, mmm'kay? I like my wrinklies just the way they are.

11 June, 2002

Aw, nuts.

There is something SERIOUSLY wrong with the people in the world. Take this guy, for instance. He decided that castration was the way and the light, so he invited a new friend he met on the Internet to play the most extreme version of rochambeau possible.

And then they ate some pie.

Increasing voter turnout

Looks like the Czechs have found a new method to interest their citizens into voting: titties and beer. (Brandy, actually.)

Now, while I admit that this is a bit of cheap ploy to win a citizens vote, I think our country could really learn a valuable lesson from this. There's no need to sling mud and run hateful little campaigns. Just start putting naked people in your commercials, and watch the votes roll in.

Or it could just be my general desire to see boobies and get a free drink.

Peter Murphy

Peter MurphySomewhere in Peter Murphy is a good blues band. And it's desperately trying to get out.

Although that might be a little bit misleading. So let's take it from the top:

Last night, Jen and I went to the 9:30 Club and saw a spectacular performance by none other than Peter Murphy. (As an aside: petermurphy.com appears to be registered to some sort of real estate agent. Maybe something worse. I didn't really stick around to see what this person was peddling. Just a warning for those looking for the correct Peter Murphy website.) Now, I will fully admit I'm not a huge fan of Mr. Murphy. More of a casual listener. But if the only shows you went to were for the bands you absolutely loved, you'd never find any new music to listen to. And that, my friends, is a travesty in-and-of itself.

We got to the club at, ironically enough, 9:30. Just enough time to listen to the opening act suck for about twenty minutes. Needless to say, Jen & I were happy that we didn't try to get in when the doors opened at 7:30. I can't quite imagine my mental state if I had had to listen to this guy's dreck for a full two hours. (For those interested, I believe the guy's name is Michael Sheehy. Or James Sheehy. Or Mr. I Make Lots of Noise and Feedback Sheehy. Something like that.) Eventually, this particular opening act struck his last chord and shuffled off the stage. At least the canned intermission music was entertaining.

Finally, Peter Murphy took the stage. Resplendent in a flowing, black, full-length coat and...red pajamas? Huh. All we could figure is that he had been sleeping on the tour bus right up until 10 o'clock, at which point his manager shook him to life, threw him a coat and pushed him on stage. Whatever it was, it certainly didn't detract from Murphy's onstage antics. Well, okay, maybe not so much antics. Antics tend to be reserved for the slightly, um, younger performers out there. Covorting sounds a bit more appropriate.

Some highlights from the show:

- The band. Holy shit, but his backup band was sweet. I seriously think that the drummer and couple of the guitarists could form a nice blues band. All they would need is a different singer. Unless Murphy wanted to start devoting his life to the blues. Okay, that probably wouldn't be much of a stretch, really. Just needs to visit the South for a while.

- The drummer. This man kicked some serious ass. That's all there was to it. By the end of one number he was the only one left on stage, and he produced an amazing drum solo that went on for a good five minutes. Looks like Neil Peart isn't the only drummer in the rock world with some originality.

- The belly-dancer. Okay, she really wasn't a belly-dancer, no matter how much she said she was. Just some random chick from the audience, looking to shake her knockers in front of Peter Murphy. I think this Monty Python quote sums it up best:

...and every Thursday night the hotel has a bloody cabaret in the bar, featuring a tiny emaciated dago with nine-inch hips and some bloated fat tart with her hair brylcreemed down and a big arse presenting Flamenco for Foreigners.

- The glowing ball of life. In other words, a light bulb on some kind of dimmer switch. I mean, it was fun to watch for about thirty seconds. And it didn't take much effort to get the symbolism of holding his heart in his hands. But in a song that goes on for a good seven or eight minutes, the lightbulb needs to go. At one point, I think Murphy was actually mesmerized by the light. Or at least, he had the whole "deer in the headlights" look.

- The light show. I was just absolutely transfixed by the lighting equipment at the club. And for purely geeky reasons: I wanted to go play with the computers controlling the lights!

So overall I give this show an 7 out of 10. In a definite sign that I'm starting to get old, that would have been an 8, but the sound system was a bit too loud, and I could never find a good place to sit during the performance.

10 June, 2002

09 June, 2002

Cleaning day

I should probably write something about my weekend.

My weekend actually started two weeks ago, when I learned that my grandmother had died. Incredibly sad for me and my family, but not completely unexpected. She was nearly 95! Everyone should be so lucky to live so long.

The real adventure, though, started this week, as my father and his siblings began the process of cleaning out their parents' house. Now, the thing is, looking at it, you wouldn't think it's a terribly big house. However, you'd be wrong. Four real bedrooms, two and one-half baths. Kitchen (very tiny). Various other rooms. But it's not so much that there are a bunch of rooms. It's that my grandfather was the king of storing things.

Books. Records. Stereos. Cameras. Paintings. Papers.

Junk!

It's truly staggering if you could actually see an inventory for that house. And while most of this seems somewhat useful, it's not. I mean, books and records are definitely good things. They bring joy, amusement, thinking and whatnot into our lives. But try wrapping your brain around the concept of 10000 books. Now trying wrapping your brain around the idea of reading all of those books. In fact, I'm not quite certain how many books are/were in that house. Frankly, 10k seems like a low-ball sort of number. But grandpa loved to read, and he loved to buy books. Of all kinds. In all conditions. On all subjects. There are probably libraries out there that would salivate at the idea of getting all those books, because they would potentially double their collection.

I drove down to the house to offer whatever help I could. Which basically meant I got to do grunt work. I spent most of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning filling boxes from the liquor store full of books. If you figure, on average, maybe 20 books in a box, and I packed up probably 40-45 boxes, that's nearly 900 books right there. And hardly a dent. Oif! Then I got to move all of those boxes into my dad's truck. Nothing like spending an almost-hot Saturday afternoon getting sweaty and moving boxes around. Let me tell you.

And the records. Oh, so many records. Odds are, you could name any particular type of music, and grandpa could find you a record in that genre somewhere in the house. I myself left the house with a rather large haul of some extremely eclectic early-electronic music. My dad, who had already gone through the bulk of the records to find the "valuable" ones, decided that this group was basically worthless. All the better for me, I guess. But lots of moog (find website) recordings, as well as some experimental stuff, like musique concrete, which really is stretching the term music, and becomes more like a form of audio art. Hey, I like some weird stuff, y'know?

Aside from the records, I made a pretty good haul. (If you'll pardon the language. It does sound a bit tacky describing it that way, but hey *shrug* That's just how I am.) Small stack of books (a nice Latin-English dictionary, Vonnegut's Galapagos, Kafka's Metamorphosis), a chinese-checkers set, more speakers (yay B&O) and various knick-knacks. Of all the nice things in that place, I of course leave with the junk. I definitely inherited something from grandfather. After everything is settled, I'll actually get some decent stuff like a bed and some book cases (which I desperately need), and hopefully some nice artwork to decorate the apartment I will be moving in to at the end of the year. But we'll see how that ends up working out.

06 June, 2002

Too much security

There comes a point where a site is a little too secure. Now, it's not quite "unplug the computer, put it in a windowless room with several locks and placed an armed guard or three at the door" security, but it's pretty close. All you have to do is give only one person the password to a system. And then let that person die.

Poof! Now no one can get in.

05 June, 2002

Stupid Computer Users

An amusing collection of stupid tech support stories. The sad thing is, I've met entirely too many people who say and ask things like what's listed on here.

04 June, 2002

McSpam

Mmmmm....Spam!

Star Wars

Jim Mullen's Pie Chart, detailing who you would not want to sit behind during Star Wars, Episode 2.

03 June, 2002

Mmmm...Twinkies

ApuSilly customer, you can not hurt the Twinkie!

Someone has figured out how to fry a Twinkie! I think I now actually have a reason to visit New York.

Buy my Crystal Pepsi...

....suckers!

Here is yet another reason why people are just plain stupid. 20 year-old Crystal Pepsi?

Actually, I can't figure out which one is the bigger idiot. The seller for thinking he has 20 year-old Crystal Pepsi? Or the buyer who actually forked over $13 (plus shipping and handling) for this?