Browse Month: July 2006

07/31/2006

“Right now we are borrowing huge amounts of money from China to buy huge amounts of oil from the most unstable region of the world, and to bring it here and burn it in ways that destroy the habitability of the planet. That’s nuts! We have to change every aspect of that.”

— Al Gore

07/28/2006

I just love how my music player, AmaroK, displays lyrics for almost any song I have. Finally I can answer those age-long questions about what the heck the words to such-and-such really are.

But every now and then, the mystery only deepens. Consider this verse from UB40’s cover of “Red Red Wine”:

Red red wine you make me feel so fine
Monkey pack him rizla on the sweet dep line
The line broke, the monkey get choke
Burn bad rizla pon him little rowing boat

Umm, what? Is this some crazy “Louie, Louie” sort of lyric game?

07/27/2006

The Department of Homeland Insecurity would make me laugh almost daily if they weren’t so terribly awful it made me want to cry at the same time.

They’ve compiled a list of potential terrorist targets– over 77,000 in all– in order to more accurately assess how to spread funding and protect vital areas from the devastation of a terrorist attack. This translates roughly to “If you’re on the list, you get some cash.”

It’s important to note that none of the following fairly well-known landmarks made the list:

  • The Statue of Liberty
  • The Empire State Building
  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Times Square

I suppose the Department has some inside tips saying that terrorists wouldn’t dream of attacking such high-profile, heavily populated places. Instead, the list does include these important locations:

  • An Amish popcorn company in Pennsylvania
  • A kangaroo farm in Ohio (what the heck is a kangaroo farm anyway?)
  • A petting zoo in Alabama
  • The annual Mule Day Parade in Columbia, Tennessee
  • I’d laugh, but these aren’t jokes. Can anyone seriously believe the government is able to protect us from terrorist attacks when it does things like this?

    07/26/2006

    One of my clients has asked me to update a half-dozen different web sites– for their various brands– to provide a single “unified” mechanism for accepting comments and questions from their customers. They have a well-defined schedule describing when each of these changes should take place. In other words, on such-and-such a day I have to be prepared to “switch over” a particular web site to the new system, and then a few weeks later I’ll repeat the process with another one. Eventually, in September, all of their sites will be using the new system and the world will presumably be a better place.

    So far, so good. I finished the first two sites, and was prepared to do the third in about two weeks. Today I received an e-mail from the client:

    We went live with the site today, but it’s not working…

    I responded and told him it’s not working because I haven’t set up the new programming for the site (since I didn’t expect it to be needed for at least another few weeks). His response is classic– truly a mind-bending peek into the way some businesses operate:

    For a variety of reasons, we made a business decision and moved the start date up. ¬†Sorry we didn’t communicate that to you.

    Now, clients often change schedules and so forth… but when I’m the integral piece, and nothing works without my programming changes, it’s a little surprising they went ahead with a bunch of things and then, oops, “didn’t communicate that”.

    Priceless.

    07/26/2006

    I just read about an awesome car race called the Mongol Rally. It starts in London, England and ends in Ulaan Baator, Mongolia. The route isn’t pre-determined, the only cars allowed to enter must have engines less than one liter (scooters are also permitted), and there’s no timetable.

    This year’s entrants include such awesome road warriors as:

    and:

    Apparently much of the fun is derived from the excitement of attempting to cross into (or out of) countries run by crazy despots. Cheating is allowed, and in general the whole point is to provide some adventure “in a world that’s become too small”.

    Imagine crossing the Gobi Desert in a Ford Fiesta, or perhaps this:

    Heck, that might be a Fiesta! It’s hard to tell. And yes, one of this year’s Rally teams is actually driving a 1979 Ford Fiesta. Good luck to them!

    Yes, indeed, there’s still fun in the world… I wonder if I could enter.

    Oh, and every team is required to raise at least a thousand pounds (that’s British money, not something heavy) for charity. So it’s all for a good cause, as well as some good fun.

    07/25/2006

    Here’s a good one.

    We ordered pizza the other day for Kyra’s birthday, and had a coupon for a one-topping medium pizza for five bucks (limit three). Laralee placed the order: one medium pepperoni, one medium mushroom, one medium cheese.

    I went to pick up the pizzas, showed them my coupon, and the total rang up to $18.50 or something. I made a comment that $3.50 was a lot of tax considering the order total was $15.00, and the woman seemed surprised.

    Her: Well, the coupon is only good for one-topping pizzas.
    Me: Yes. And I have three one-topping pizzas.
    Her: No, this is just two.
    Me: No, pepperoni is one topping; so is mushroom and so is cheese.
    Her: Actually, cheese comes with the pizzas, so it doesn’t count as a topping.

    (pregnant pause)

    Me: So you’re saying that’s a zero-topping pizza?
    Her: That’s right. And it costs $7.99.

    (me thinking)

    Me: Can I get extra cheese? Would that count as a one-topping pizza?
    Her: Absolutely.
    Me: And then the pizza would cost five dollars, like the coupon says?
    Her: Yes.
    Me: Umm, okay, could you sprinkle on some extra cheese then?

    So she did, and my total dropped to $14.30. I still couldn’t figure out the math (maybe the tax was negative?) but I’d saved four bucks by adding a topping, so I didn’t complain.

    07/25/2006

    What an awesome song. I loved it twenty years ago, I love it now.

    07/25/2006

    I was looking through some old image archives (long story) and found this one.

    WHO THE HECK IS THAT? I’m sad to say I have no idea whose baby this is. I’m pretty sure it’s not one of mine, and I’m not getting any good clues from the room.

    If you read this blog and this is your baby, please let me know. Then I can properly apologize for not recognizing her.

    07/25/2006

    It’s a fact that the more complicated an envelope appears, the less valuable the contents will be. Here’s a great example from today’s mail:

    Yes, I can see that it’s URGENT URGENT URGENT and Extremely Urgent and has all sorts of technical garbage like “Time Sensitive” and “Materials Inspected” and (wait for it) “Urgent”. It also has that oh-so-realistic handwriting font so I’ll think it was specially made out just to me.

    I must point out that it was definitely not hand-delivered to addressee. I suppose I’ll have to talk to the mailman (a way cool guy who wears khaki shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and Birks). Clearly he’s ignoring the clear instructions on the mail he’s delivering. Slacker.

    In the end, of course, this was just a ten-page ad for a postal scale. Wow.

    07/25/2006

    It’s no fun being old.

    Last Wednesday in our league ultimate game, I tweaked my left calf. I’m not sure what I did– cut too hard, reversed direction too fast, whatever– but I was gimping a bit by the end of the game. Then I played two more games Thursday, and by Thursday night was really limping around. But Friday things seemed fine, and I figured it was just a temporary thing.

    I played again today, and my calf is twinging. Dang. Tomorrow I’ve got a double-header, and then two more games on Thursday– I might be lucky to even be walking on Friday.

    There was a time when stuff like this didn’t affect me at all. Now I’m feeling my age. And it’s not fun.

    07/22/2006

    “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

    — Patrick Henry

    07/22/2006

    Federal judge Vaughn Walker has ruled that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) case against AT&T can proceed, despite the government’s claim that divulging information about the NSA wiretapping program– of which AT&T was a major component– will severely damage national security. The unbelievable “state secrets” defense raised by the government has been struck down by Judge Walker with a deft statement:

    To defer to a blanket assertion of state secrecy here would be to abdicate that duty, particularly because the very subject matter of this litigation has been so publicly aired. The compromise between liberty and security remains a difficult one. But dismissing this case at the outset would sacrifice liberty for no apparent enhancement of security.

    This is great stuff, and despite the fact that the government will undoubtably appeal and continue to do everything it can to squash the case, it’s a minor victory for supporters of privacy rights.

    07/22/2006

    A group of fans of the science-fiction television show Firefly, who pushed and supported the cast through the making of the (rather good) movie Serenity, have just released a documentary that basically shows the involvement of the fans and how their work kept the show alive and led to the movie.

    Interestingly, they’ve released the entire documentary as a freely downloadable movie. This isn’t some back-room hack pasted together in iMovie– it’s a professional-quality full-length movie. Perhaps the best thing I’ve seen about it is their statement regarding why they released it for free:

    In our opinion, the modern state of copyright is counter productive to creativity and free culture. It puts unnatural restraints on “fair use”, hinders the creative process, and has fundamentally destroyed an entire industry before it was even born.

    Amen. Although I respect the intent of copyright, the current practices engaged by such organizations as the RIAA, MPAA, U.S. Congress, Disney, and a hundred other corporations interested more in profits than in serving their customers are deplorable. They’ve turned copyright into a system whose sole goal is profit, with no regard for the actual protection of ideas, as the original framers of copyright law intended.

    I hope more groups follow the lead of the Firefly crowd. We’re already seeing it in the music industry, as more and more artists release their songs and albums in Creative Commons format– allowing free download, distribution, and remixing. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s a start.

    07/17/2006

    An awesome entry from today’s Fark Photoshop contest.

    07/17/2006

    Woo hoo! I learned to wakeboard last weekend… what a blast.

    It’s a load of fun, at least until you catch a wave and smack the water face-first at 40mph…

    07/13/2006

    I’ve always liked the opening title music for The Hunt for Red October. Tonight I’m listening to various soundtracks while I work, and this one came up in the queue. Curious, I hit the “Lyrics” tab in AmaroK to see if I could finally learn what those crazy Russian guys are singing about.

    AmaroK didn’t let me down:

    07/09/2006

    I spent a couple of hours today putting the finishing touches on my shiny new and improved photo album, in the hopes that I’ll finally be a little better about keeping it updated. The old one was database-driven, written about five years ago, and terribly difficult to manage– which explains why the most recent photos were almost two years out of date. The new one is much simpler, and allows me to quickly upload big batches of images.

    Now, of course, I open myself to friends and family perusing the album to find compromising pictures of me or the fam…

    07/07/2006

    People are funny about spam. Since I run about a dozen domains for various personal things, there are spammers out there who invent addresses on those domains and send their crap. The downside is every now and then someone gets all mad at me because they think I’m the one sending the spam, when in fact I have nothing to do with it and moreover can’t do anything to stop it.

    But today I got this message from a guy named Scott, who apparently thought that Wilfred Bolton had written to him pitching some miracle drug or stock tip. Notice that Wilfred’s e-mail address is the easy-to-remember oabdiiunjnja@davinci-projects.org, which any reasonable person would immediately recognize as something fake. But oh well, Scott sent the message in the hopes that I would remove him from “my email campaign”.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Scott, but Wilfred (or one of his other made-up buddies) is probably going to continue harassing you…

    07/07/2006

    Sometimes the first line of a news article is all you need:

    A Magnolia, Delaware man sustained burns to his hand and face after using gunpowder to light to up his barbecue grill Monday night.

    Wow… uhh… there’s really nothing else to say. I’m sure the neighborhood kids were impressed, though.

    07/07/2006

    Senator Stevens, after his hilariously awful description of “the internets” the other day, has apparently come out with some clarification for those who simply couldn’t follow the discussion about trucks and tubes:

    They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck, or locomotive, or autogyro.

    It’s a series of tubes.

    If you don’t understand this think of a cannoli, the delicious Italian dessert that Silver Screen magazine says is the favorite dessert of popular ballad crooner Frankie Sinatra. If you fill those tubes with enormous amounts of cream cheese, like free movies, there is no room for the spumoni, which is like your messages. Then your spumoni has to get in the line and gets delayed. The result is a flavorless, bland cannoli, and millions of young bobbysoxers are crushed because their fan internets don’t get delivered to Frankie.

    Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that cream cheese on the internet tubes. I hasten to remind my Senate colleagues of what happens when you have too much cheese in your diet: painful clogging. Our job is to provide the legislative bran to keep the internets regular.

    Okay, maybe Senator Stevens didn’t actually say that. But he probably would have if given a chance for a filibuster.

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