Thursday, October 26, 2006

6 Reasons Why Real Simple Really Isn't

Making fun of Real Simple (the magazine whose debut showed people -- well, womyn -- how to simplify their lives with $400 cashmere sweaters) is like shooting fish in an barrel.

A dry barrel.

I was killing time on the flight down from NYC today, so I was flipping through a Real Simple from the seat pocket. (I'd been up for the day for a blogging/consumer-generated media thing that I can't blog about since it was all off-the-record. Go figure. Also, I've been up since 5am, and I've only had 3 hours of sleep, and I'm kind of punchy.)

Here are 6 reasons why Real Simple simply isn't.

1. Table of contents: 25 pages in.

2. Really hard to turn the pages because they have a slick, yet matte finish. Plus, the abundance of foldovers and inserts keep you from flipping through it.

3. Page numbers: Only on about 1 in every 10 pages (since they're only on the pages that aren't full page ads.)

4. Page 26: Ad for Ralph Lauren Paint touts over 60 perfect shades of white

5. Page 86: Fabric stickers to cover scratchy clothing tags: Tag Tamers. Rationale from their Web site:
They’re important for washing... or was it dry clean only? Certainly, you’d be in hot water if you tore out the tag that read “Dry Clean Only” and shrunk your newest piece of haute couture.
Let's see if I have this right: You're taping the tag down so you don't lose the care instructions.

Okay, I admit it's been a while since I last wore women's clothes (after one disastrous cross-dressing Halloween of years past, I swore I would only ever wear drag again if I needed to escape the secret police or something), but aren't the care instructions on the back of the tag?

Good thing they're only $8.95 for two dozen.

6. 4-page article on how to not buy $1,250 designer handbags or collect $2,000 in tank tops (100 tank tops at an estimated $20 per. Who pays $20 for a tank top? Oh, that's right: women. And they wonder why they need a space heater at the office in the summer.)

In the interest of fairness, I'll say that I did wash my hands with an antibacterial soap before I got on the plane, which would exacerbate the effect of reason #2. My hands still feel kind of chalky. Ick.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2.0, Plus Places Where You Can't Say "Douchebag"

I never really talk about my job here, mostly because I blog enough about work at work.

Consequently, I rarely talk about stuff going on in the industry and the social media space in general. (Which might corn-fuze the few folks who hit my page after seeing Frank's entry from the SixApart business blogging seminar in which he calls me a "major blogger." I appreciate the plug, Frank, but I have a feeling that anyone who hits here from there is saying, "Does this asshole talk about anything of consequence?")

Here are two things that I wanted to mention, but don't really fit into my work blogs at this particular time, so I'm writing about them here, in a departure from my usual inconsequential, self-indulgent offerings:

* Firefox 2.0: I didn't play with the earlier betas, so it's still one day new to me.

Off-hand, it feels like the Mozilla folks did what Apple did with some of the earlier Mac Classic OS releases: Take the functionality of the most popular third-party enhancements (such as the System 7-era Window Shade, Now Menus's hierarchical menus and the DragThing palette), and incorporate them into the next version of the OS. (There's a pretty good Wired article from 2002 about the phenomena.)

With Firefox 2.0, the primary extensions whose functionality has been adopted or co-opted (and they're named extensions, just like the old Mac extensions) would seem to be TabMix Plus and SessionSaver.

I prefer the TabMix Plus tab handling to the built-in FF 2.0 version, so I'll have to wait until the 2.0-compatible version out (I'm using 0.3.5rc1 right now, but it's a little hinky) before I can really sink my teeth into Firefox 2.0.

* Sun blogger Dave Johnson over at Blogging Roller (I met him at the BlogOn Conference last year -- he's the reason I own a vacuum sealer) posted an entry this week about another Sun blogger, Tim Bray, who wrote that Blackbox (the self-contained-server-setup-in-a-shipping-container) was "totally drop-dead fucking cool."

I apparently managed to miss the f-bomb furor when it occurred last week. When it comes to the work blogs, I'm pretty much in the don't-fucking-swear... ever camp, though I have been known to use euphemism and edge up to the line. I find that if you don't swear, even approaching the line can be edgy enough to make your point, without having the actual words distract from what you're saying.

Then again, I'm typically writing for a different audience than a Sun developer. In my work blogs, it's pretty safe to say that you'll never see me say asshole, douchebag, or even retard, even if I'm talking about an asshole douchebag retard.

However, no matter how many "the opinions expressed here are my own" disclaimers you carry, if you talk about your company, and you're seen as an authority because you blog useful truths, you'll be seen as a representative of the company at some level.

Generally, I don't like to swear in my personal blogs. (Unless it's someone who really deserves it, like Verizon. Or I'm drunk.) I've had to make a conscious effort to swear in this particular blog entry (mostly for ironic effect).

Note, though, that swearing to me really only means the Seven Dirty Words -- I have no problem with general blasphemy.

However, I remember a time when hearing "You son of a bitch!" on network TV was a big deal (the first time I recall was the M*A*S*H finale). Forget about the mid-level scatological profanity like pissed off, douchebag and asshole, which is now fair game past 10pm on network TV, or shit, which is a staple of basic cable these days.

Anyway, I wasn't planning on ending this entry with a "Get offa my lawn, you young hoodlums!" bit, so I will have to save the rest of my generation-gapped fist-waving for later.

I Am a Participant in the 9/11 Conspiracy. Apparently.

Last week, there was a Digg item about a video featuring some Popular Mechanics editors debating the Loose Change folks.

Skimming through the Digg comments saw your standard assortment of reality-challenged "9/11 was an inside job" conspiracy nutjobs, complete with all the usual copy-and-paste regurgitation.

It was pretty standard stuff, until I got to something, which, if true, by implication and extension, outs me as an extended (albeit unwitting) participant in the 9/11 Conspiracy (wherein the government, or possibly just a hidden cabal, or the PNAC, or maybe the Bohemian Grove -- somebody bad -- orchestrated the 9/11 attacks and the ongoing coverup, including the bits where the intrepid truthseekers are quashed, but no they will not be silenced, and will fight back with the best tools at their disposal -- YouTube, Google, Photoshop and assorted chickenwire structures, etc., etc. ad infinitum.)

Anyway, one particular sooper-genious connects the dots this way:

* Since, obviously, the Popular Mechanics piece was a hatchet job that could only have been done at the behest of the corrupt Bush administration...

* required trusted people at the magazine's helm (as seen in some preceeding management shakeup, or "coup" at Popular Mechanics)

* The shocking proof?
The president and CEO of Hearst Corporation is one Victor F. Ganzi.

Victor F. Ganzi is a member of B.E.N.S. - "Business Executives for National Security" - wherein we learn that "When it came time to evaluate In-Q-Tel, the CIA's innovative technology development enterprise, Congress turned to BENS"

In October 2002, B.E.N.S. received a "CIA Agency Seal Medallion" for its work on the In-Q-Tel program.

In-Q-Tel? It is described as "A new partnership between the CIA and the 'private sector' [my apostrophes].", making it a classic front for traditional fascism and other American-style old-fashioned family values.
Holy dogshit! The CEO of Hearst is a BENS member, and BENS once did... something for Congress. And the smoking gun is a PR tidbit on BENS's own Web site. Diabolical! Obviously, it's conclusive proof of... what happens when retards are allowed to use Google.

I worked for BENS in the early to mid-90s for a few years. It's a nonprofit, nonpartisan group whose membership was primarily businesspeople, and whose primary policy focus back then was cutting waste and increasing efficiency in defense spending (including supporting the Base Realignment and Closure process) and nuclear nonprofileration issues.

In the New York office, we did about 2 events a month, focusing on different policy issues, and getting the membership together with different policymakers and political candidates.

I used to have a list of some of the event highights online -- I archived my old online resume when I switched hosts.

In addition to rubbing elbows with the CEOs and execs who were our members, I got the chance to meet (or at least was in the same room with) a few Senators, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of the Army, some Generals, a few Ambassadors, and even Kofi Annan (when he was heading up UN peacekeeping operations). To say nothing of the tons of policy wonks, authors, think-tankers, journalists and other speakers we had.

Pretty heady stuff, even though most of my job consisted of printing out the name tags and doing advance work like making sure that the audience could hear the speakers over the air conditioning (doing events work really teaches you how much stupid little details matter).

I'm not sure what BENS's primary policy issues are these days (though apparently, they are focused more on Homeland Security issues). But, uh-oh, they've feature a few choice quotes from Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld, so they must be in bed with the Administration and thus, the conspiracy.

I guess in the years after I left, they shifted focus from, say, getting fissile material out of the former Soviet Union, to wiring the World Trade Center with shaped cutting charges and thermite.

Conspiracy types always cue on groups like BENS (granted, to a lesser extent since it's not as well-known) or the Council on Foreign Relations and such because they're great at connecting the dots between different policymakers, movers and shakers. It's like six degrees of Kevin Bacon, and about as meaningful.

Anyway, I'm just using this conspiracy theorist to remember a bit about one of my past lives. I don't get to stretch my foreign policy muscles very much any more, except for the occasional barstool conversation.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I Am a Bad Person, Because This Makes Me Laugh Every Damn Time

Here's a video that's been floating around the Net since the PY (Pre-YouTube)-era. I don't know where it comes from originally; I just know that whenever I see it, I just laugh and laugh and laugh:

I have it saved as an *.avi (filename: "KidGettingHit.avi", of course), and I would have uploaded it myself if I hadn't been beaten to it by a dozen people already.

I view it every once in a while, whenever I need a quick pick-me-up.

I am a bad person.

Clarendon Day and Shooting Stars

Rolled into Arlington to enjoy the Clarendon Day festivities on a bright, clear fall day. Got there just after 2pm; as I was walking around, a guy stopped me and asked "Do you work at Rick's Tattoos?" I said no, but in retrospect, I should have said, "Yeah... did I do your ink? Oh, by the way, the health department found that our autoclave's thermostat has been a bit off, so you might want to get checked out..."

As I was passing the first stage, I heard a song I recognized and thought, "Isn't it a little early to be doing covers?"

Then I figured out that it was The Positions, a band I've been meaning to check out ever since I first heard about them on Metro Connection:

The Positions
Kids like The Positions.

They're a pretty tight band; I like them, even though the horn-based pop has a lot of ska-ish qualities, and I don't really like ska.

Lots of kids dancing -- actually, running -- around. Maybe they should play Herndon's Friday Night Live next year.

Anyway, I picked up their CD.

I had a couple of shots that could have been good, but just fell short in execution -- here's the album.

Met up with Jenny and Adam (well, Jenny first; Adam finally joined us about 4 hours later); I had some Indian food, and some paella. Also ran into Sarah and Allison and met some of their friends. Eventually, the Captain showed up, and we went to the Beach Shack. That's when the trouble really began, and I have photos and video to prove it. But that will have to wait for another time.

Also, I was outside briefly just now and caught a bit of the Orionids meteor shower. Orion is the one constellation I can identify readily, so it was easy to find (well, that, and the Direct TV satellite dishes all point south.) I guess I got lucky and saw one definite shooting star right away, as well as a few other glimmers of movement, but it was cold and I told myself I would get to bed at a decent hour (wrong).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Passage to India(n Buffets)

This started out as a comment to DC Foodie's entry about Indian Buffets in Reston, but it started getting a little long. Hence an entry of my own.

When it comes to Indian buffets, my favorite one is whichever one I happen to be in at that particular moment. I don't have the most discriminating palate, and all I have to do is avoid certain lentil dishes (because me and lentils don't get along so well -- bad things can happen), so I just rotate around the ones I've found (and keep an eye out for new places).

Jason mentions Minerva in the Herndon Clocktower and Mayuri in Hunters Woods. I've been to Minerva and I like it -- it does get crowded, though. I'll have to give Mayuri a shot sometime (it's practically around the corner).

Also, one of his commenters mentions Banjara in Ashburn -- I think I've been there for lunch, if it's the same shopping center as Kirkpatrick's. Pretty good, and good desserts, as well as the little appetizer things. I forget what they're called, but they're good.

For my own part, I was just at Harvest of India in the K-Mart shopping center in Herndon on Sunday. Despite what I said earlier, it is one of my favorites. I started going there getting carryout vindaloo when I first moved into the area, and it's stood the test of time.

Also in Herndon is Supper Club of India in Worldgate; I've only been to once or twice, but it's also good.

Going in a little farther, I've eaten at Supper Club of India in Arlington, which I probably would have enjoyed more if I hadn't been hungover. And I do need to try out Tandoori Nights some time.

Other than that, I've been once to a place in Fox Mill shopping center -- I don't even know the name of it, it's next to the Five Guys. It was okay -- the only time I went, it was towards the end of the buffet, so it wasn't top quality stuff.

There used to be a Dehli Dhaba in the Herndon K-Mart plaza, but then it changed owners, and now it's a Five Guys. Or maybe it was the Afghani place next door that became the Five Guys. Either way, the Herndon K-Mart shopping plaza on Elden is still one of my favorite dining areas, since it's got Harvest of India, Charcoal Kabob (which I love for both kabobs and curries), a pho place, the Madina Market (where I get my Thai chiles and Afghan flatbread), a Thai place, and a few other different cuisines.

Like I said, when it comes to Indian buffets, I'm pretty forgiving. Though as I get older, I find that I can't power down as many plates as I used to (I think I'm down to 2 and half plates, plus dessert, though that does keep me fueled for the rest of the day, including the mandatory postprandial nap), so maybe I should focus a little more on quality.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

To the Person on the UC Davis Network Who's Clicking Through Every Entry Right Now

Heya -- not sure if you're some sort of bot or not, but if you like, it might be easier to click on the monthly archive links (in the right sidebar) where you can see all the entries of a given month, instead of individually clicking each blog entry.

Not that I don't appreciate the pageviews, of course. But just thought you might like to know.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Phone Sex Photos (Warning: Stupid)

You were warned.

A couple of silly photos from Saturday night:

Phone Sex

Phone Sex, of course. Though given the position of the phones, I guess it's not really sex. Damn kids today. Or Clinton. Whoever. Why, back in my day, oral-genital contact counted as sex! Or it would have been close enough, give the state of things for me back then.

(Upon reflection, maybe the different, broader -- almost said "looser" -- definition of sex as compared to today's is why you didn't hear about guys teabagging each other. Yeah, yeah, I know: correlation is not causation.)

Menage a Mobilophone
Menage a Mobilophone

In an attempt to preserve any sense of decorum (and to prevent anyone from trying to draw any type of conclusions), I'm going to refrain from saying whose phones these are.

I'm actually kind of scared of what kind of search traffic this entry is going to pull in, considering there are already bound to be a number of really disappointed folks who've hit my blog after searching on "man ass", "gender reassignment" and other terms which have only a passing resemblance to what they must be seeking. Though I finally figured out that folks searching on "be dumb" are actually looking for, which is just another "funny" social video aggregator blog.

I Believe I Owe the Beastie Boys an Apology

I've been on a Beastie Boys kick for a couple of... years now. On and off. As my friend Corey can tell you, I've been annoyingly fixated on Licensed to Ill for a while, especially the track Paul Revere.

I think I've mentioned a few times how I avoided the album through early adulthood, mostly due to an extreme dislike of Fight for Your Right to Party (because of overexposure in high school).

But it's a really good album.

I finally bought it in September.

Anyway, Jeffro over at Last Second Comeback posted an item that hit the feed about a Beastie Boys Annotated site, so I checked it out.

One thing that always made me feel a little funny (and that's "uncomfortable"-funny, not "climbing the rope in gym class"-funny) was this bit from Paul Revere:
I said, "I'll ride with you if you can get me to the border
The sheriff's after me for what I did to his daughter
I did it like this - I did it like that
I did it with a whiffleball bat"
Now, see, all this time, I've thought this was an unpleasant reference to the Glen Ridge Rape Case, where three upper-middle-class NJ teenagers were convicted of sexually assaulting a mentally-retarded 17-year-old girl, including with a bat of some sort (I remember reading it described as a fungo bat -- I still don't know what a fungo bat is.)

It's only now, that I realize I forgot one simple, obvious thing:

The Glen Ridge rape case was in 1989.

Licensed to Ill came out in 1986.

Of course the whiffleball bat lyric couldn't be a reference to Glen Ridge.

I just figured this out today.

It's kind of like how I first thought the big shootout in Michael Mann's 1995 Heat was based on the North Hollywood bank robbery shootout of 1997 (when it quite possibly was the other way around).

Could it have been life imitating art? Hard to say.

Anyway, I owe the Beastie Boys an apology for maligning them psychically via the thoughts in my head.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Blogger Happy Hour and Social Panic at the Big Hunt

In the interests of reducing redundancy, I wasn't going to do a long, boring writeup of Friday's DC Blogger Happy Hour since there are already good ones out there (including Red's , where she also notes that I'm a fun person to talk to, so I got that going for me)... but, eh, who am I kidding?

In spite of my best half-hearted attempt to incite a little controversy and cross-pollination with the DC Farkers, I didn't actually find the Fark party.

I got to The Big Hunt (or, as I just started calling it, The Mike Hunt) at around 9.

Since I wasn't sure where folks would be (because I apparently didn't read I-66's entry very closely), I spent about 20 minutes alternating between standing around uncomfortably with my head on a swivel and walking back and forth between the two main rooms downstairs and down into the basement.

In the process, I managed to spill half of my Maredsous 8 up my sleeve trying to juggle it and my jacket (which I eventually stashed). I felt the verges of social panic and beads of flop sweat forming.

I eventually made it upstairs, turned the corner, and saw Velvet and a guy who turned out to be Home Improvement Ninja, so I was able to relax, though after that harrowing experience, I pretty much camped out with the bloggers for the rest of the evening.

(There was apparently a GW function in the basement, and I did wander over and hang a bit for a fellow's 40th birthday party in the upstairs room next door, but I gave up on finding the Farkers.)

I did take a couple of pics -- I met E :), who is just as lovely as her photo on the live feed:

E :) and Me

I also met the sports powerhouse duo Chanuck and DC Sports Chick:

Chanuck and DC Sports Chick

And later on I ran into Law-Rah and DC Pussycat Doll:

Law-Ruh and DC Pussycat Doll

And then there was Red and her non-blogger friend Mrs. M:

Red and Mrs. M

That was pretty much it for the photos, unless you like boots:

What's up with the boots on ya feet?

As the evening went on, I talked to a bunch of folks and met (or in some cases, re-met) others including KassyK, Martin, Throwing Hammers, and KOB.

After a few drinks, I have a tendency to run off at the mouth, so I can only hope that I am as smooth, witty and articulate as I envision myself in my hazy post-event recollections (since I have only the vaguest idea of whatever the hell it is I was saying, and to whom I was saying it).

Anyway, I think I cut out at around midnight. At least, that's what the time stamps on my horrible Metro photos say (and dammit, I'm going to get an interesting shot of the underside of the new escalator canopies one of these days -- that just wasn't the day).

I don't recall why I left so early, though the fact that I can't remember means that it was probably a good time for me to go home. (I'm just impressed with myself for remembering my jacket.)

Another interesting evening -- see you folks again soon.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thank you, nice Jehovah's Witness ladies who rang my doorbell

I'd like to thank the two nice Jehovah's Witness ladies who rang my doorbell this morning. I was already up and about, so they didn't wake me up, though they did do the whole "Do you speak English?" thing (I answered, no, I don't speak English), followed by the "Oh, you speak English very well" (which doesn't actually make things better, and may in fact make them worse) and then mentioned the dead University of Vermont girl from Arlington as a timely lead-in into handing me their literature.

I'd like to thank them because if they hadn't rung my doorbell, I wouldn't have known about the walking stick insect that was on my door, and I wouldn't have been able to take a few pictures:

Walking Stick Bug

I used the macro setting on my camera (look: actual depth-of-field!), and didn't need to post-process the photos too much (yes, my front door is red).

Walking Stick Bug 2

I also took what might be the World Most Boring 30-Second Video, but I will spare you.

In other news, I'm still moving a little slowly, following last night's DC Bloggers Happy Hour (Which I will write about after I cut the photos. But I have to make a meat loaf first.)

I was definitely not up for the Maryland Brewer's Oktoberfest, so I passed it up. In retrospect, though, it was a nice day, and I could have been designated driver. Guess I wasn't thinking too clearly.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I Fail at Halloween

For some reason, as an adult, I'm just not very good at Halloween.

What's typically happened the past couple of years is that I wait until the very last minute, then throw together a really lame costume with whatever it is I've got lying around. (Tyvek jumpsuit, Nomex flightsuit. I'm seem to like long zippers.)

When I even bother with a costume, that is.

In theory, I should be able to make a decent show of things and put together a credible costume. I'm fairly creative. I have some props, gizmos and clothes from the 80s that I no longer care about. Some grease paint leftover from college.

I even own a hot glue gun.

It just never seems to work out, though.

Here's my problem, I think:

* Nothing Pre-Manufactured: Maybe I'm just cheap, but buying a costume seems like cheating.

* No Pun-Based Costumes: You would think as a word guy, I would like punny costumes. "Law suits" and the like. Nope. They just don't do it for me.

* Chronic Procrastination: This is not simply limited to Halloween, of course.

* No Masks: I haven't worn contacts in forever, so that kind of rules out any type of mask.

* Basically Vanilla: This one is the killer. While I like to think of myself as pretty open-minded, it's pretty much all theoretical. Stuff for other people to do.

Halloween is a time for people to let loose and go wild, hidden behind their masks (see above) as they engage in their transgressive behavior (as evidenced by the yearly indignant discovery that the basic format for most female Halloween costumes is "Sexy _______", except when they're "Slutty _______.")

I guess I'm not a very transgressive person.

Anyway, I still have a few weeks left, so maybe I will come up with something this year.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Unreliable Adults and the 2006 Ford Mustang

Last Friday, I went down to North Carolina with my friend Pat. He drove his still-fairly new Mustang.

We left a little later than planned (my fault), and being a rainy Friday in front of the Columbus Day holiday weekend, we got caught on 95 South for about two hours.

Looking for something to do, I decided to read through the owner's manual to see if there was anything he needed to know about his car.

2006 Ford Mustang Owner's Manual Cover

Now, my car is four years old, plus it's Japanese (though Mazda is technically a Ford brand), but I was still shocked at how different the manuals are.

For starters, there were about 20 pages just on the seat belts and air bags, including a two-page spread on page 94 refuting common excuses for not wearing seat belts:


"Belts wrinkle my clothes

Possibly, but a serious crash can do much more than wrinkle your clothes, particularly if you are unbelted."
I felt like I was back in Driver's Ed class.

Here's my favorite bit, on page 108:

Do not leave children, unreliable adults, or pets unattended in your vehicle.
"Do not leave children, unreliable adults, or pets unattended in your vehicle."

On top of that, later there was a section specifically warning people on Antabuse (so, chronic alcoholics) not to spill fuel on themselves or inhale fuel vapors:

How come my owner's manual doesn't feature any warnings for chronic alcoholics?


Anyway, we eventually broke out of the trap and made it out of the state. Took about 7 hours, all told.

Oh, and here's a photo of Pat and his ride:


Monday, October 09, 2006

DC Bloggers vs. DC Farkers in a Battle for Happy Hour Domination?

Is it coincidence, fate or the hand of an unseen chessmaster maneuvering his unwitting pawns into position? Read on and decide...

So, bloggers I-66 and Sweet are hosting a DC Blogger Happy Hour at the Big Hunt on October 13 -- Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th at the Big Hunt... why does that sound so familiar?

Also on that date, at that very same venue: the next DC Fark party.

What's gonna happen when the two groups inevitably collide? Will it be like matter and antimatter coming together and annihilating both groups and all bystanders? Or will it be more like the merging of peanut butter and chocolate (two great tastes that taste great together)?

Who can say? Not me. I've only been in the general vicinity of a DC Fark party, though I can say that the DC Blogger Happy Hours are usually pretty lively, and dare I say, SEXY! I would also not rule out:

  • A 'West Side Story'-style Sharks vs. Jets standoff

  • Some weird social-media orgy

  • Dance combat, a la Michael Jackson's 'Bad'

  • Uncomfortable introductions, followed by stony silence and jealous glances

As someone who dabbles on the fringes of both groups, I think it's safe to say that no matter what happens, the evening's events will be very well documented.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Am Immune to Red-Eye. Find Out Why.

I just posted my photos from our last regular season kickball game yesterday. (Playoffs, which I'm not going to be able to make, are on Sunday, which means it's all off-season until next spring.)

(The game itself was exciting, if only because we scored 7 runs in the first inning, and then, um, let the other team score 5 runs. We eventually won, 14-7 or so, including my contribution, running through our third base coach's stop sign -- knowingly -- and sliding under the throw -- very impressive, if I do say so myself.)

Anyway, I took some snaps from the field and the bar; this is the only one I'm in:

Me and League President Tara.

All of the photos from the bar were taken using the flash, so there was a lot of red-eye to remove.

I've noticed that I've been pretty immune to red-eye, though I never really thought about why. I had a vague notion it was because of my glasses, but in this pic, Tara had pretty good demon eyes going, despite her glasses.

Then it hit me: My last few eyeglass prescriptions have all had an anti-glare coating. So that must be it. Chalk up another benefit of wearing glasses. (The only other one being "partial protection from flying debris." For girls, add "can look over their glasses for that sexy librarian look.")

Anyway, everyone has their own method of removing red-eye with Photoshop. (I never use red-eye reduction mode on my camera -- it's annoying and it spoils the shot. And forget about candids.) I also don't use auto red-eye removal tools, because I am apparently a control freak.

After experimenting with a bunch of different red-eye removal methods, here's what I do. It's really simple, since I am a hack when it comes to Photoshop:
1. Set the Brush tool to saturation mode, and desaturate the red part of the pupil, which is the flash bouncing off the back of your retina -- the red-eye will turn grey.

2. Use the Burn tool to darken the now-grey pupil to black, which is its normal state.
That's it. No blending, mucking around with layers, replacing colors or anything else. Just desaturate and burn.

Doing it this way results in a more natural-looking pic than what most auto-redeye-reduction tools can do, since it preserves the shine reflecting off the cornea, instead of turning the center of the eye into a solid pool of black. That's pretty creepy.

Anyway, it's fast and works nearly all the time -- except for some folks (say, the Irish) who have really light eyes. It's even worse if they're in really dark rooms (say, bars), where their pupils are blown wide open. Not much you can do there to keep it looking natural.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It's 10-4, Good Buddy: Leave Someone Else a Comment!

Okay, so it is (or soon will be) October 4th, which is 10/4 (at least in American date formats). So, of course, you've gotta say:

"Hey, 10-4, good buddy!"

For those of you young punks who've seen this term on a t-shirt but don't know where it comes from (because you don't remember any part of the '70s, damn you), 10-4 was the ten-code for "Message received," "Acknowledged," or simply just "OK."

It's CB radio talk, which is how people talked to strangers before IM.

OK, fine: ten-codes are on the way out. But, there doesn't seem to be a lot else going on October 4th (besides World Animal Day?), so here's what I propose:

Let's make 10-4, October 4: Leave Someone Else a Comment Day.

* Do you read someone's blog religiously, but never say anything?
* Are you a leech on a social link sharing site, one of the silent majority (80% or whatever it is) who coasts and consumes what the super-sharers put out?
* Have you seen an image on a photo-sharing site you like?
* Do you lurk on a message board somewhere?

On 10-4, tell someone "Message received": Leave a comment somewhere where you haven't commented before.

Hey, we all know that the oft-quoted and universally-ignored maxim of user-generated content, "I do this for myself, not other people," is crap, so on 10-4, validate someone else's online existence: Leave them a comment, and say hi.

10-4: Over and out.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hipster Overload at Crafty Bastards

I went to the Crafty Bastards arts & crafts thing today.

I'd been wavering, but it was a really nice day out -- the kind of day we're only going to have a few more of until next spring. Great skating weather, too.

I parked my car in Arlington, Metroed to McPherson Square and went up 16th Street. (Incidentally, when did they paint in bike lanes? I know it's just a mind-trick, but they're kind of useful, especially when you're gassing out going up a long hill.)

When I got to the fair (call it what you want, it's still a craft fair), it was pretty crowded, so I unstrapped and walked around.

I only took a couple of photos. Sensory overload, due to all the artists and young urban hipsters and their ironic t-shirts and wacky outfits. Too much to focus on any one thing. Plus, sometimes I'm still a little hesitant when it comes to shooting people in public. So I just took a few snapshots:

Dirtfarm's Ben Claassen
Ben Claassen III of Dirtfarm and other ventures. I bought a t-shirt. Not ironic, but it does glow in the dark.

Mr. Pickles.

I also squished a penny. I didn't watch the b-boy breakdancers (even if I could have gotten a line of sight, it just wasn't on my list.

After a few circuits, I left and grabbed a falafel and then walked back to Dupont. I didn't want to burn out my brake on the hill, and I figured I'd be in and out of a few shops, anyway.

I like purple.

First comes love, then comes marriage,then comes a U-lock on a baby carriage.

I ended up carrying my skates for most of the afternoon, so my back is a little sore.

That's about it.