Thursday, November 30, 2006

Farewell, English: We Can't Hardly Knew You

Saw this linguistic gem in a Digg item today:
"A Gears of War site member was commenting on while the single player game was fantastic all be it short, the multiplayer was filled with bugs and other shortcomings."
One does not go to Digg looking pristine spelling, flawless punctuation, or rational discussion, but albeit is NOT 3 FUCKING WORDS.

Not for about 600 years, anyway (and don't try to pretend you were trying to use Middle English).

Look, I've have plenty of words I still have trouble with. I always have to double-check "misspell," I have been known to switch "peek" with "peak", and I even occassionally (well, rarely) fall into the "you're/your" pit.

(Similarly, I remember the first time I tried pronouncing "bourgeois" -- I was in high school, and I didn't know any French pronunciation rules. It was up there with the "Dom Perig-non" moment from 'Misery.' I still cringe a little bit.)

But some things are just wrong, and you're on the damn computer -- just look it up if you're not sure.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Unabomber as Protoblogger

If it weren't for that whole anarcho-primitive, "living in a remote, cold-water mountain shack with no electricity" thing, it looks like Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynski would have been a heck of a blogger archetype.

Witness, from an AP story about evidence from the Unabomber case (which was never officially released since he plead guilty):
"He wrote about everything. He wrote about what he had for lunch on May 5 of 1979, where he got the food, how he prepared it and what did it taste like," said retired FBI agent Max Noel, who helped lead the investigation.
Plus, he was insane, which in my experience, seems to help.

Monday, November 27, 2006

"I suggest everyone sneezes on and profusely licks their food"

Seeing how my previous workplace fridge note entry was so beloved, here's another one from last Tuesday:


One of your coworkers is a thief and so completely lazy that they stole my sandwich. They stole a HOMEMADE sandwich. Who steals food in the first place? And honestly, who steals a non-packaged product? Do you really want something someone else has handled?

From now on, I suggest everyone sneezes on and profusely licks their food prior to bringing it to work.

I know I will.

Karma will find you.
This was on one of the fridges in another, farther kitchen (ours doesn't have an icemaker).

On a related work-food note, here's another discovery I made last week:

If the opportunity to eat Sodexho's implementation of "pad thai" presents itself, I strongly suggest you refrain.

A Red-Letter Day for BoingBoing?

I shouldn't be amused by this, but I am: Here's a graphic illustration of why you should always, always check your content on the live site after you publish it. This includes after making any changes to published content:

Red text on boingboing due to an unclosed font tag
 Apparently, Cory Doctorow (or someone updating his entry on the Make-magazine edition Leatherman tool) forgot to close a font tag, so all the non-link text is red from that point on. It finally stops when it hits another font tag.

For most of us personal bloggers, unclosed tags, silly typos, broken links and the like are just a minor inconvenience. They make us look sloppy, but since we have relatively few readers (who probably know us personally, to boot), they should be willing to cut us some slack.

Then again, if you don't get many readers, it's a case for not annoying the ones you get, isn't it?

However, for the folks on the high side of the long tail (to say nothing of, say, the #2 blog in the Technorati Top 100), silly little mistakes like this just make you look bad (no matter what anyone says about the blogosphere norm of "publish, then correct").

Details matter, even if you don't have a anti-site dedicated to you.

(Yes, I know I shouldn't be using a table for this.)

Uncut Snatch for Stupid People

I was flipping through Parade Magazine this afternoon (I hadn't had any coffee yet and Parade has small words and lots of pictures), when I came across this two-page ad from the "World Reserve Monetary Exchange":


Two pics, lazily stitched together.

It's an advertorial (note their microscopic "Advertisement" disclaimer) done up to look like a breathless, soft news puff piece about your chance to snatch up sheets of uncut currency from the "World Reserve Monetary Exchange". (You can see the "announcement" on their site.)

How much? Fiddy-nine bucks, plus shipping. It includes a "rich Angus grain cover."

Now, at the Bureau of Printing and Engraving Store (which, as it happens, is where they get the currency), a sheet of 4 uncut one-dollar bills goes for $15-fiddy (shipping and handling included).

So you're paying upwards of 44 smackers for that rich Angus grain cover (note that the word leather is never actually used).

The Roanoke Times has an article about from last year (I found it by doing a search on "angus grain"): "Money for nothin'? Better read the fine print."

It goes over the essentials -- what they do is simply marketing to stupid people, and their fine print disclaimer ("the world reserve monetary exchange is not affiliated with the united states or any government agency") probably gives them legal cover.

Note that I couldn't find a similar disclaimer on their Web site. I did, however, find this gem of a paragraph on their terms and conditions page:
Any communication besides financial information that you transmit to Universal Syndications, Inc. over the website by electronic mail or otherwise, including any data, questions, comments, suggestions, or the like is, and will be treated, at the discretion of Universal Syndications, Inc., as non-confidential and non-proprietary. Universal Syndications, Inc. may, at its discretion, use this communication or information contained therein for any purpose, including, but not limited to, reproduction, disclosure, transmission, publication, broadcast and posting. Subject to our confidentiality policies, Universal Syndications, Inc. is free to use any ideas, concepts, knowledge, or techniques contained in any communication that you send to the website for any purpose including, but not limited to, developing, manufacturing and marketing products or services using such information.
Look, if people want to pay out the nose for this kind of crap (and they will, especially Parade readers -- look at the Franklin Mint, et al.), that's one thing.

But in my opinion, this is a questionable business practice (some might even say, slimy), and in a less-imperfect world, they'd be getting a visit from these folks:


US Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police SUV

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving Dinner in a Bowl

Here's what I had for Thanksgiving dinner:

Now that's good noodle.

I'd left Virginia just before 8 on Thursday morning. It was a little later start than I wanted, but considering that I'd gotten in at 1:30am the night before (after the Beach Shack's "pulling up stakes for Falls Church" party), it was probably for the best.

It was spitting down rain most of the drive up, but nothing too bad. There was some brief slowness in Delaware (as expected), but the worst part was two big slowdowns at the New Jersey Turnpike.

Still, it only took me four and half hours, all told.

Since Mom is in Taiwan right now, and my sister was with her fiancé's family, my Dad & I bagged on the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and trained in to Chinatown for some noodles at some of his usual spots.

As we were waiting on the station platform, there was a recorded message: "The scheduled 1:05 train has been canceled." We headed back to the car to go home to wait an hour for the next one, when the train pulled into the station. Guess you can't believe everything you hear.

We got to the World Trade Center PATH and walked to Chinatown. It was raining just enough to be annoying.

There have a few Calder stabiles around City Hall Park:


The brightest spot of color on a gray day.

Here's a pedestrian marker in the sidewalk near City Hall:


And, this is some sort of Herve Villechaize-meme sticker thing at the playground in Chinatown:


Look, boss: De rain! De rain!

So, we went to the noodle shop and had seafood noodle soup, which hit the spot on a cold, rainy day.

Then we went to a few other shops (everything like clockwork -- my parents hit the same spots so regularly, there's practically a groove in the sidewalk), then headed back for home. (It was too nasty out to do much other walking around.)

So it was a good Thanksgiving, just me and my dad:


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Playing "Name That Fark!" and Metacommentology

I'm not sure how many years I've been reading Fark. I've had an account since 2003. (Still haven't made it to a meet.)

Over time, you get to know the flavor of a place. In my experience with Fark, it's all about the snarks, puns and pop-culture references that'll pop up in a comments thread.

Fark's a fairly diverse group when it comes to experience, interests and knowledge, though it's probably overrepresented slightly by folks of my generation (which would be defined by that still-hateful term, Gen-X). So we're drawing pretty closely from the same pop culture collective intelligence.

Sometimes, when a story is posted, it will immediately call to my mind a specific, and usually pop, cultural reference. (This, of course, excludes headlines that are written to specifically evoke a particular pop culture reference.)

In these cases, I'll play a game when I go into that comments thread. I call it Name That Fark!

Obviously, it's based on Name That Tune -- I try to guess how many comments it'll be before someone posts a reference to what's inhabiting my mind.

For example, one of the main page headlines right now is "When I think of 'two-handed weapon combinations,' the first things that pop to my mind are not 'golf club and a sword.'"

(The article it references is in the Costa Mesa Daily Pilot, though for our purposes, this is immaterial.)

Naturally (well, it's natural if you're me), the first thing that came to my mind was Casey Jones, from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic.

It's a fairly obvious connection (again, if you're me), so I give it a 10: we'll see a Casey reference within ten comments.

Lo and behold -- 7 comments in:
2006-11-23 08:41:24 PM Thenixon [TotalFark]
this guy thinks it sounds ok.

7 is within 10. Therefore, I win.

So what to do with this little bit of applied metacommentology? Well, nothing: It'd be too easy to game, and, anyway, I wouldn't know where to begin building an app around it.

But it keeps me amused.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

3 Hard-Learned Lessons From the Dulles Toll Road

In the spirit of holiday travel (Which I am avoiding until tomorrow morning. Early. Ugh.), here are three hard-learned lessons from driving on the Dulles Toll Road:

1. The posted speed limit approaching and leaving the main toll plaza at the Beltway is 35 mph.

Even though adhering to the letter of the law may be nigh-suicidal (especially in the E-Z Pass only lanes), failure to comply, or at least failure to stay under 55mph (20 over the posted speed limit) could lead to a reckless driving citation.

2. If you're heading west from I-66 and, perchance, happen to get on the Dulles Airport Access Road instead of the Dulles Toll Road, you should just take your lumps, head out to the airport and turn around, obeying all traffic laws and maintaining a moderate speed.

This is especially true if you're driving at 2am and there's no one else on the road.

If do you find that you missed the turnoff and are on the airport access road, under no circumstances should you try driving in reverse all the way back to the split.

This goes double if you're 3 football fields past the turnoff, like that moron I saw last night while I was coming back from Arlington.

3. Heading inbound during the morning rush, and thinking of going to Dulles, just so you can turn around and take the access road eastbound?

Ever notice a line of cars pulled over on the eastbound access road, surrounded by traffic cones and police cars?

They keep track of the license plates of the cars which do this.

Now, I didn't say that these were necessarily going to be my hard learned lessons: I've only done the firsthand learning on one of these three things. I got the scoop on the other two from folks I know.

Happy traveling.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More Wacky Vaginia High School Hijinks

Looks like Washington Lee High School in Arlington (which is in virginia) can't catch a break this week:

From NBC 4:
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Police in Arlington County, Va., have arrested a 35-year-old school security guard accused of having sex with a 16-year-old student.

Police said officers answered a call for two people having sex in a car in the parking lot of the Walter Reed Community Center on Nov. 15. When they located the car, officers determined the girl was a 16-year-old student in the Arlington County school system.

Police said the man in the car was a security guard at the Washington and Lee High School.
I'm thinking of turning this blog into the Arlington public high schools news blotter.

Boy, wouldn't that be exciting.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Finding Vaginia in the Arlington Public Schools

This afternoon, a fiend and cow-orker sent me a link:

It's the home page of Washington Lee High School, in Arlington. No big deal, right?

Washington Lee High School Web Page screenshot

Okay, so it's Sandra Bullock's alma mater. I figured I was missing something, so I took a closer look:

Closeup of Washington Lee High School Web Page
Oh my.

Ah, there it is.

Still don't see it? Here it is in red:

Closeup of Washington Lee High School Web Page
A nice big, red...

For the colorblind, the bottom of the crest says arlington vaginia

It's sophomoric. Stupid. And very, very funny.

According to my friend, a buddy of his had worked at the school, was checking out the site, and happened to catch the vaginia.

I think I was looking at the page as they were fixing it, since the vaginia graphic wasn't showing up until you rolled over it.

It's since been fixed, though you can see the lettering is a bit off right now. It's squashed. Tight, even:

Crest fixed
There's nothing worse than a sloppy Virginia.

However, I don't think they've gotten around to fixing the footer image yet:

Washington Lee High School Footer

The most recent Google cached version of the page is from Nov. 16, and says "The NEW and IMPROVED Washington-Lee website is ready for its debut," so you figure (or hope, for their sake) that it just went live today.

As to how it got published? Three possibilities:

  1. Deliberate Defacement by an outside hacker/cracker or someone with inside access.

  2. Accidental Defacement, most likely a test or joke image inadvertently published to production.

  3. Complete Illiteracy: Someone who really doesn't know how to spell "Virginia." I'm envisioning somone with a wicked Bahhstahn accent trying to spell it phonetically.

Anyway, like I said, stupid, sophomoric, and funny.

Naturally, you only have my word that this isn't a Photoshop job, but it's a heck of a long and pointless way to go for such a cheap laugh. Those of you who know me know I'm far too lazy for that.

Sins of Omission and Georgetown's "24-Year Winning Streak"

The guys who used to torment me in middle school were Big East fans, so I've always nursed a little anti-Big East grudge when basketball season rolls around.

Plus, when it comes to college basketball, I like watching finesse play versus a lot of banging around. I know it hasn't really been true for a while, but in my mind, the Big East will always be a really physical conference.

This is because of their reputation in the late 80s and early 90s for rough play (coupled with that stupid 6 fouls rules experiment, which only hurt them in nonconference and postseason games).

Anyway, I saw the Post item today:
Hoyas Fall to Old Dominion
Upset Ends 24-Year Winning Streak at McDonough Arena: Old Dominion 75, Georgetown 62

Now, if you're an incautious reader who's not that familiar with Georgetown, you might walk away from the article with the impression that they had a 24-year home winning streak, which would be a heck of a job, Brownie.

This, I cannot abide.

What the article fails to mention is that Georgetown plays most of its home games off-campus: at the Verizon (formerly MCI) Center (and before that, at the Capital Centre/US Air Arena).

Anyway, they lost to Old Dominion yesterday, 75-62, which made me smile.

Call me petty, I don't care.

Summary of the Week's Entertainment (Which Is to Say, a Drinking Report)

Tuesday: Ri Ra in Arlington. It was apparently trivia night, with singing. Also, there was money being stuffed into shirts, but the parties involved have no memory of this (and there were no pictures -- more's the pity):

Shots. How out of character.

Wednesday: K Street Lounge in DC, for the networking mixer.

I got there a bit late, so the crowd had thinned out. Even so, I didn't do so good with the networking -- the only business card I parted with went into the fishbowl at the sign-in, and I pretty much only talked to people I knew from work (which is not to say that they were all still with the company).

One notable exception was a guy from 'Congressional Quarterly' -- I'm concerned that he actually believes that I thought CQ was a men's fashion publication.

In his post-event writeup, Rafat Ali notes that the BET Hip-Hop Awards afterparty was scheduled to start right after the mixer, which explains:
* Why the crowd's demographics shifted from lily-white to jet black abruptly at 9pm.

* Why I saw incoming guests being wanded with a metal detector as I was leaving.
I stopped in to Galaxy Hut on the way back; sat at the bar and was chatting up the woman sitting next to me. I thought we were getting along famously. We did hit a lull in the conversation, though that ended when we were joined by her boyfriend of 5 years, whom she had neglected to mention until that point.

I admit, I'm not always the most observant person in the world when it comes to these kinds of things, but I'm pretty sure I would have picked up on that little tidbit.

Now, I will have to object if anyone tries to characterize it as a rescue -- I'm not one for the hard sell (if anything, I have a well-documented incompetence for that sort of thing), but who knows.

Also, "my" painting by artist Ben Claassen III is no longer there. I'm assuming it was sold.

Thursday: Clyde's of Reston (where I picked up that lovely violation sticker) for a meeting with the lads. Made an early night of it, so nothing much to tell there, except I had a much-needed buffalo burger, which hit the spot.

Friday: Clare and Don's Beach Shack in Arlington, for one last go before they move to Falls Church.

We didn't end up staying all that long; the karaoke was not up to the high standards we've come to expect.

We ended up at Ri Ra again:

Mrs. Elvis and Mr. Elvis

Are you familiar with the bar prank where you tell someone to place their index fingers on the bar, and set a full drink down on them?

Mrs. Elvis was not:


It was loud and crowded, though in a way different from your Grill, Mr. Days or Ballroom.

See the other two photos in the Flickr set for more shenanigans, both real and notional.

Saturday: Tallula, for Melissa's going-away party.

I had not been to Tallula before, and had been a little wary for it's whole "wine bar" thing (even though I know it's not a wine bar). I'd never been there when it was Whitey's, either.

Unexpectedly, I also ran into Pat and Mike (unexpectedly, because they are rough and uncultured types, with thick necks, rough hands and dull wits), so I hung with them and their friends, as well.

There was a fine beer selection and plenty of space in the back, as well as a good number of unencumbered females in the main bar (nothing untoward happened that evening, unfortunately), so I shall have to add it in to the regular rotation.

Summary: Since driving home and going to work the next day are typically involved, moderation is the name of the game for weeknights out. Still, even by those standards, 5 nights out in a week is not something I regularly do. But it's more about the company than the beverages.

When Did Washing Machines Get So Complisticated?

I was determined to buy a new washing machine today. First, I went to my local library and read up on washing machines in the relevant issue of 'Consumer Reports'.

(I also borrowed 3 books, which I hope to actually read this time.)

Then, I went to the local Best Buy. There's a Frigidaire washer/dryer combo being advertised this week for $999, so I'm leaning towards it for simplicity's sake. But there are a few LGs that are kind of interesting.

So, I didn't end up buying. I did a little more research, and later found a forum for those folks who are pretty hardcore about laundry.

These are the kinds of folks who really care about internal heaters and profile wash settings, would actually pay $2,000 for a laundry center, and do 7-10 loads of laundry in a week.

I don't do 7-10 loads of laundry in a month.

And when did washing machines and dryers get computerized? My now-dead washing machine (a Montgomery Ward model, and they went out of business a while ago) has a one-way analog dial, and like, 3 settings. But it worked. Until it didn't.

Anyway, I think I'm overcomplicating things -- I just don't want to have to buy another durable good for a while. Then, taking delivery this week might not be the most convenient thing. I'll probably take some dirty laundry home with me for Thanksgiving.

After the shopping, I stopped into Barnes & Noble. I ended up reading most of 'World War Z' while standing up. (You can get the Cliff Notes version on Wikipedia.)

It's a pretty interesting read, though I was also procrastinating, since it was instead of going to the gym. Project: Fit in Tuxedo hasn't been going so well, especially if you include the 2 pizza lunches last week.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm Spoiled

I had two run-ins with spoilers this week that I would have preferred to avoid.

The first happened during morning drive time Monday or Tuesday. One of the Sports Junkies gave away the ending of the Scorsese movie 'The Departed' (specifically, who dies at the end).

I know the movie came out six weeks ago, and that it was a remake of 'Infernal Affairs' from 2002, but you're still a dickhead.

The second one was more my own fault -- I was reading a Fark thread about some lame The Top 10 Movie Spaceships article.

As usually happens in sci-fi threads, various other shows came up and were discussed, and I stumbled upon a fairly significant plot point from season 3 of Battlestar Galactica.

I still haven't seen any episodes -- they're piling up on VHS. In theory. At this point, I'm not sure which tapes have which episodes, and I may just need to wait until they start over in repeats.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blogging for 2 Branches of Government and Assorted Beltway Bandits

This is glaringly obvious, but one of the more interesting things about blogging in the DC area is that, just by participating in the local blogging community (even for a dilettante such as myself), means the potential for getting a bunch of hits from a lot of interesting government domains.

For example, from having a blog entry featured on last weekend, I saw referrers* from:
* (okay, it's quasi-governmental. But my Irish friends always blush or blanche when I say "fannie", so I work it in wherever possible.)
* (Department of Energy)
* (Bureau of the Census)
* (Voice of America)
* (Executive Office of Asset Forfeiture)
* (Dept. of Homeland Security)
* (FEMA -- apparently EOP is Executive Office of the President or some such)
* Department Of Veterans Affairs
* (Dept of Commerce, Int'l Trade Admin)
* (USDA Office of Operations)
* Dept. of Labor OSHA
* Dept. of Health & Human Services
This is in addition to your usual gaggle of defense contractors, think tanks, lobbying groups, non-profits, and other Beltway bandits whom I recognize from a past life.

What does it all mean? I'm not a political blogger, so it goes more to geography (which, let's not forget, still matters) than anything else.

It also means that, if your blog entry gets featured on the DCBlogs feed or main page (to say nothing of, say, DCist, The Express or [shudder] Wonkette), you'll get a lot of attention from the Executive and Legislative branches of government (the Supreme Court is noted by its absence, at least in my case), and a lot of eyeballs looking at your stupid blog entry about lunch thieves.

*This is just a list of domains; I didn't copy IP numbers, so no one needs to get subpoena my records or black-bag my house or anything.

Friday, November 17, 2006

They're Making the Stupid Faster Than I Can Blog About It

I have a lot I want to write about, but I haven't had time this week.

Most of it will keep; little of it is of any consequence. I will try to get to it this weekend. It's eminently doable, since blogging will allow me to continue not buying a damned washing machine.

In the meantime, here's the aftermath of a night hanging out at Clyde's in the Reston Town Center:

I am in violation.

Apparently, you can no longer park on Market Street, even after all the stores are closed.

I didn't see it until I got home; a razor scraper and some WD-40 took care of most of it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Will Fit Into My Tuxedo Next Month if It Kills Me (and It Just Might)

The upcoming holiday season gives me a new, concrete fitness goal, which is to wear my tuxedo one last time before it falls apart.

Of course, this means that I have to fit into it.

I've had my tuxedo for going on 11 years now. I have no idea how old it is, since I bought it from a thrift store when I lived in New York City in the mid-90s (I think the first time I wore it was when Goldeneye came out; we quaffed martinis in a swanky hotel bar before we went to see the movie):

This is a Quickcam photo -- remember those? How about CU-SeeMe?

I don't remember how much it cost -- I just remember that the price of alterations was higher than the price of the tux.

Here's one more Quickcam photo from 1995:

The time: 1995. The place: my apartment in Stuy Town, NYC. The computer: A Mac LCII. The original caption: Something about being menaced by robots. The glasses: Really dorky.

Anyway, I only wear the tux once a year, during my company's Christmas/holiday party (or as I like to call it, The Prom), which is black-tie optional.

I stopped wearing the suspenders a few years back, since they turned the pants into highwaters. More recently, the pants have been getting kind of tight. And not because they've shrunk in the wash. Or because I've been taking Enzyte for that extra spring in my step.

The party is just over a month away. Assuming that I don't get fired in between now and then (and I'd probably still go, regardless), I'll want to wear the tux.

So, I went to the gym today, for the first time in about 3 months.

It was kind of overdue anyway -- I noticed I was getting winded raking the leaves on Saturday, and my back's been starting to hurt from sitting around too much.

Monday is legs and shoulders, and I also fit in 15 minutes of cardio. Here's what I discovered:

* I remembered where everything was in the gym. I even remembered my padlock's combination. However, since my last visit, apparently the iron weights have been replaced by a much denser, heavier metal. I'm thinking lead, bismuth, tungsten or osmium. Perhaps even depleted uranium.

It doesn't really make sense, but it's the only explanation I can think of.

* Halfway through my set of squats, I started cramping up and feeling sore. From experience, for tomorrow, in the words of Mr. T and my old chemistry teacher (alas, two different people):

"I predict pain."

* After 4 minutes on the Stairmaster at level 7, my heart rate was creeping over 180. (Not trusting the machine, I checked manually. Same result.)

At my age, that's out of "Target Heart Rate" territory and approaching "Danger, Will Robinson"-land

* The locker room scale says I weigh 128 (note that this also includes about a pound of hair). If true (and I don't trust that scale -- it's been beat up pretty good), that's probably the lightest I've been since college.

Unfortunately, it's a slack and flabby 128, so although counterintuitive, I'm probably going to have to gain some weight in order to fit into my tux (as we all know, muscle is denser than fat).

Anyway, I hope I can fit into my tux next month. Who knows -- as long as I can still fit into it and it doesn't fall apart, I'll keep wearing it; I've got a lot of memories invested in it (plus, it was a bargain at 10 times the price):

Tuxedo Photo, 2005 Edition.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Fairly Futile Weekend

My primary accomplishment this weekend, raking the leaves on Saturday, has been mostly nullified by strong winds, which has also had the effect of blowing most of the rest of the holdouts to the ground. So I'll have to do it again some night this week (they're coming to collect the leaves on Wednesday).

The other big endeavor this weekend, buying a new washing machine, ended in abject failure. I went to Sears tonight, all set to just spend and get it over with, but I quickly realized that I had to do a bit more research -- not to mention remember to bring the piece of paper with the measurements on it. So I scurried away, shamefully.

The weekend started out with the DC Bloggers Blogsgiving Happy Hour on Friday. I got there late, about 10:15, when things were already petering out.

As usual, Red's recap is pretty good; I mostly hung out with her, co-hosts VP of Dior and I-66, Hammer, and Home Improvement Ninja. And I met a couple of new folks (including Hey Pretty.) But mostly I observed some hanky panky on the sofa and shenanigans at the bar. As well as some dubious dancing by some other, nonaffiliated folks.

Oh, and I do have two photos:

Our glamorous co-hosts.

Red, Hey Pretty, and Mrs. M (who manages to make it into a good number of blog entries, despite being a non-blogger).

After leaving Mackey's, I stopped in at the Beach Shack for a quick drink (I'd parked nearby); apparently, they are decamping for Falls Church after next week.

I stayed in on Saturday, due to a number of minor physical complaints (including blisters on my fingers: not from raking; from furious, nay manic, masturbation) which combined, were enough to convince to me lay off the sauce and bake some brownies (and also test out the oven thermometer which I got a few years back but never used).

Saturday, November 11, 2006

An Open Letter to the Drunk Girls on the Orange Line Tonight

Dear Drunk Girls on the Orange Line Tonight,

1. Perhaps it's not such a good idea to be shouting your phone numbers to each other across the aisle so you could enter them into your phones, where any random bystander could take the number down for some future, unspecified nefarious purpose.

2. Similarly, once you leave whatever venue you've been partying in, taking off your bright orange wristbands is probably a good idea.

I'm just saying.

Warmest regards,


Friday, November 10, 2006

Verizon Killed My Day Today

My landline died sometime last week. Again.

Actually, I suppose I should be thankful, because it saved me from having to deal with any pre-election robocalls. But now that the Dems have picked up control of Congress, it was time to get it fixed.

I submitted a repair request through the Verizon web site on Wednesday, which was substantially less aggravating than doing it over the phone. Of course, my appointment window was less-than-convenient, being between 8am and 6pm.

Granted, I can work just fine from home. But I don't enjoy it particularly, especially since it turns me into a shut-in for the day. Maybe it'll be different if and when I finally get a real office setup.

The tech came at around 3:30pm, and quickly determined that it was a problem with the outside wiring (which I already knew). In a miracle of miracles, he was one of those inside/outside guys (he even had a bucket truck), so I didn't have to set up another appointment with someone else: He was able to fix the problem, which was apparently a short in the wiring in the box up the street.

So that's one bit of procrastination swatted down. Next up: Buying a new washer/dryer, and finally replacing my cell phone before it flies apart. Though I will probably have to work in some leaf-raking this weekend. And, of course, there's Blogsgiving.

Thoughts on the '24' Finale (6 Months Later)

It took me six months, but tonight I finally finished watching season five of 24.

I don't know what the rush was; after all, the new season doesn't start until January. I had two more months.

I guess the driving factor was needing a tape so I could record Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who tomorrow, neither of which I've seen any episodes of this season, but which theoretically, I have on tape.

Anyway, a few notes from the finale, which I feel I must share even though (or perhaps because) it's a half-year after everyone else has seen and forgotten about it:

* A TV Squad commenter noted the RoboCop connection (Peter Weller as Henderson, Ray Wise [a.k.a. Leland Palmer] as VP Gardner, and Paul McCrane [a.k.a. Dr. Rocket Romano])

However, with Carlo Rota (a.k.a. Mick Schtoppel) as Chloe's ex-husband (and where did that come from?), the La Femme Nikita connection trumps that (remembering Eugene Robert Glazer and Roberta Watson, to say nothing of the principal creators of both shows. They just need to get Roy Dupuis [who reportedly turned down a role last season] and Peta Wilson. That would be cool.)

* It's official: Sentox nerve gas is the wussiest stuff around. Not only does it have to be inhaled (since it's not absorbed through the skin), but it's neutralized by high pressure, and it's not persistant (decontamination just involves opening a window and turning on a fan).

* "If you need to kill a henchman with the knife on your multitool, please press one and Jack Bauer will talk you through it."

* The planting of the microtransmitter pen on the Prez? Saw that one coming.

* Those sneaky Chinese...

Anyway, now that I'm caught up on season 5, I can get ready to fall behind on season 6 from the very beginning.

Bonus: Escape From New York is on right now. In Spanish.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Sandwich Is So Much Better When the Sandwich-Maker Is Crying

A sign on one of the work fridges from Tuesday. It lasted about 20 minutes:

Sign on Work Fridge: To The PRICK Who Stole My Sandwich -- I Hope You Choked on It!

"To The PRICK Who Stole My Sandwich -- I Hope You Choked on It!"
... and it was delicious.

(No, I don't really know if it was delicious or not.)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Things I Would Rather Do Than Drop $950 on a New Washer/Dryer

My washing machine broke last month. I've been putting off buying a new one.

As a result, my underwear reserves are running dangerously low. (This is after a few boxer brief 5-pack purchases.)

I might even have to start dipping into the Y-fronts (tighty whiteys for you Americans.)

This past Sunday, I'd even entertained the notion of going to the coin laundry in Herndon. This is until I drove by and saw how crowded it was. It didn't seem as fun as originally envisioned.

So, of course, after getting out of work tonight, instead of going to Sears or Best Buy to pick up a new stacked laundry center, I went to Carpool for a drink.

I ran into a bunch of my kickball teammates at the bar, so a drink turned into 4 or 5.

I'm not sure whatever else I would have possibly accomplished, but whatever it was, it didn't happen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Girls: Been So Turned On Lately? (Or, Referrer Madness)

I haven't posted any highlights from my referrers lately.

For me, going through search engines referrers is kind of like watching America's Funniest Home Videos: I know it's not funny, but I still laugh.

Someone from Real Simple seeing the entry where I give Real Simple the business (what does that even mean)? Amusing, but not particularly interesting. Or vice versa.

However, finding a referrer from the search term I'm a girl and have been so turned on lately (no quotes), and seeing that my page is currently the #3 result for that term is kind of interesting. And by interesting, I mean SUPER SEXY!


To that so-turned-on girl, who will forever be to me young (but of age), beautiful, open-minded, and within driving distance of an airport, I can only say:

Hey, how you doin'?

The Answer Is Yes.
In other, far less sexy news, someone in Australia wants to know Is joe really dumb.

Menage-a-Mobilophone and Participant Inequality
Switching to a different set of metrics, it looks like my three-way phone sex photo has finally topped out at 21,410 views.

This makes sense to me, because I finally realized today that I could leave a comment with an embedded statcounter invisible tracking image, to try and figure out how people were finding the photo. (This was after seeing a digg item about a NYC Marathon photographer who was kind of in a bad place -- the Flickr user had used the photo's page as kind of a blog, adding more photos in the comments.)

So, the traffic tally after I put in the statcounter image? Bupkes.

For those of you looking at viewer-commenter-creator participant inequality ratios, that comes out to 21,410 viewers, 7 commenters, and me, or about 99.9-0.03-0.0046.

Looked at another way, there's an entire town (say, Biddeford, Maine) of slightly annoyed horny dudes out there.

Maybe we should send so-turned-on girl there.

Tab Mix Plus 2.0 Is Out (and there was much rejoicing)

Following up on my earlier entry about Firefox 2.0 (which was all about why I couldn't go over wholeheartedly and completely to 2.0 from 1.5 at that particular time), I am happy to say that the updated version of Tab Mix Plus was released over the weekend.

Now that a working version is out (0.3.5), that's pretty much everything I need to be fully productive in FF. There are a few extensions I'm waiting on that still need to be updated to work with FF 2.0, but Tab Mix Plus was the big one.

As a bonus, the FF 2.0-version looks like it honors my decision to not have Control+Tab rotate through open tabs in most-recently used order, instead simply just going from left to right (or Shift+Control+Tab to go from right to left) -- the earlier version didn't want to do that on my Mac (though Control+Page Up/Page Down was the workaround for that, albeit for the right-hand).

Thoughts From the Apples in Stereo Show at the Black Cat

Also last week, I went to see The Apples in Stereo at the Black Cat.

I'd planned on making it a twofer, going to a Social Media Club discussion thing, but by the time I rolled in to DC, it was already 8pm, so it was too late to hear what DC's social-media-minded PR-types thought of the state of things. To be honest, I can't say that I was terribly distressed about this, but fortunately, cow-orker Frank was able to represent.

When I got to the Black Cat, there were two lines out front. I went to the closest one and asked what it was for. The guy said, "Beck."

Since this made no sense to me (being the only person in the DC metro area who didn't know about the Beck secret show on the back stage) I figured he said "back", as in "Back Bar", which would have made sense if this was the 9:30 Club. It took me a long while to figure out it was actually for a Beck show.

I eventually found the right line and got in. I suppose I could have tried to get in to see Beck, but I didn't.

The rest of this will be thoughtlets based on napkin notes (actually, written on the back of the map), plus a few photos (my full photoset is here):

Things You Don't Expect to Hear Sitting at the Bar, Upstairs at the Black Cat:
Two guys drinking Red Stripe bottles, talking about ACOG scopes and iron sights (gun talk, for those not in the know).

The Opener (Benjy Ferree):


There was also a cellist:


Random Existential Crisis Moment:
I was looking out at the crowd of young kids, girls with their denim miniskirts over striped leggings and boys with their funny hats and strange facial hair, and I was thinking, "You've still got most of your life ahead of you, whereas in my case, 'most' is a mathematical nuance, because if I'm lucky and medical technology advances significantly, I'm already 1/3rd of the way through this ride."

The Second Band (The Archie Bronson Outfit):

I don't know if it's accurate, but at points I was hearing a mashup of David Byrne and the Machines of Loving Grace, with a British accent.

If It's Too Loud, I'm Too Old
Even with 20dB worth of volume-reducing earplugs, it was still too loud for me (although I was right in front of the stage, taking pictures).

The Main Act (Not What I Expected):
I have to admit, seeing the Apples in Stereo in person was not what I expected. For starters, I could have sworn they had a female vocalist in there somewhere (they did -- she left the band this year).

More importantly, I had pictured some freshly scrubbed pop band, whereas the front 3 appeared to have a combined age of 120 or so, and I kept seeing Eric Bogosian on guitar, Clint Howard on lead guitar and vocals, and the captain from Jaws on bass:

John Hill on Rhythm GuitarLead singer/guitarist Robert SchneiderBassist Eric Allen

After doing a little reading, I guess the indy-pop scene is pretty small and centered around the Powerpuff Girls Soundtrack Album (which is how I first heard The Apples in Stero), since Bill Doss, playing keyboards, and John Hill (the Bogosian-looking dude) both contributed tracks on the PPG soundtrack album (Doss, Friends Win and Hill [with Dressy Bessy], Bubbles)

If It's Too Loud, I'm Too Old, Part II:
It was still too loud in the back bathroom with the door closed.

On Feeling Out of Place (for Different Reasons):
As I left, I was leaving with the youngsters who were rushing to catch the last Metro before midnight.

So, overall the show was pretty good. They did play a bunch of songs off their upcoming album, though their sound is tight. I also like how the photos turned out -- up close, I let the gelled stage lights do the work (the few flash shots I took came out horribly):


The Good Thing About Zombie Photos Is That You Don't Have to Take Out the Redeye

It's been a week since the first running of the DC Zombie Lurch, so there's not a lot of point in posting this entry. I'm just doing it in the interest of completeness and because I didn't want the headline to go to waste.

Plus, I finally posted and tagged my full set of DC Zombie Lurch photos, so here's my quick recap and some of the photo highlights:

I wasn't able to get my own zombie act together in time (I'd independently decided to be a radioactively-reanimated zombie, unaware of any other zombie activity), so I just went to watch and take photos (and get in the way of the real photographers).

The whole thing started promptly at 5pm, just outside the Washington Monument:

Zombies at the Washington Monument
DC Zombies, surprisingly light on the sign-making.

They rallied at Smithsonian Metro, then shambled up the Mall a bit towards the Capitol. There were some tourists about -- one moment I'm glad I captured (even poorly) was coming across a group of priests (given the haircuts and shoes, I think they were actual priests, not costumes):

Priests vs. Zombies
Note the mystic orbs, presumably from the spiritual combat.

The chants pretty much centered around "What do we want? BRAINS! When do we want it? BRAINS!", which as someone noted never really gets old (though it got close). (At one point near Adams Morgan, someone dusted off the Zombies Gone Wild/Show Us Your Brains bit, but I still laughed.)

We headed into the Metro at Smithsonian:


Then switched at Metro Center to the Red line:

The Metro workers were surprisingly non-nonplussed. They were more concerned about zombies getting too close to incoming trains.


There was a funny moment when, as we were waiting on the platform, a kid on the incoming train looked out at the platform and leapt back, bug-eyed. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture it.


Anyway, we made it Dupont Circle and walked up 18th Street, passing some of the embassies:

Embassy of Botswana

eventually making it to Adams Morgan.

More goth than zombie, but who am I to argue?

Some of the rowdier undead started pounding against the glass of some of the storefronts we passed; the horde also pressed in against the glass at the Dupont Books-a-Million and the Krispy Kreme -- I ran inside each trying to get a photo from the other side of the glass, but alas, I was too slow.

Anyway, we eventually made it up to Adams Morgan. It being a Sunday night, and with more than a few under-21s in the group, things just sort of petered out. I got a falafel, then went home.

So, it was fun; I will see if my costume survives until next year, at which point I look forward to being an actual participant.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Metro Ladders: A Conspiracy Revealed?

I have a lot of catchup blogging to do, mostly with the various Halloween-based activities and their associated photos from last week.

I've caught up with uploading the photos to my Flickr account (although they're mostly untagged and uncaptioned) -- some quick highlights:

* WAKA VA-Dominion Kickball End of Season/Halloween Party, 10/27/06: Continuing with the long-zipper costume trend, I dug up my actual graduation gown (now faded to purple with age) and National Honor Society cords from high school, as well as my mortarboard from college:

Halloween and Kickball End of Season at Carpool
My high school education proves beneficial yet again.

* DC Zombie Lurch, 10/29/06: I got the idea for my Halloween costume late last week; it was zombie-themed before I even heard on Friday about Sunday's DC Zombie Lurch.

In any case, I wasn't able to put a costume together in time to participate as a zombie, so I just went to take pictures. Some of them are okay, though with 83 in total, some of them were bound to not suck.

Going through the photos, I noticed yet another Metro Ladder, this one in Dupont Circle:

Look over to the right, over the walkway edge and leaning up against the wall.

Compare to my first Metro Ladder sighting in Rosslyn back in July:

Does this count as suspicious activity that should be reported?

* The Apples in Stereo at the Black Cat, 10/30/06, featuring a few pics of the Apples and their opening acts:


By the way, did I mention that I had no idea about the Beck secret show on the back stage?

* And of course, a Radiation Zombie Halloween yesterday:


I talked about it in my work blog, but I held back some really-boring details so I would have something to keep for msyelf.

Anyway, I shall hopefully get to adding words to all this soon, before I completely forget.

I Just Wrote My Absolute Last Check Ever to AT&T

I've been an AT&T long distance customer from the very beginning.

After the AT&T monopoly broke up (yes, I remember this), my family stayed with AT&T. From way back then to up until now, I was never one of those people who tried to play the different long-distance companies -- Sprint, MCI -- against each other to try to get a better deal.

In recent years, though, I haven't had much use for long distance from my landline. I never even come close to using up my cellphone minutes (with its free domestic long distance), and I just don't make very many international calls.

Besides, there are plenty of toll-free dial-around numbers to use. So AT&T was a convenient backup (with a calling card, just in case.)

I was on some plan with a overpriced per-minute rate, in exchange for no monthly fee, which was fine by me.

The first time they tried to implement a minimum usage monthly charge ($5 per month), I got really pissed off and called to cancel. The customer service rep immediately waived the fee and dropped me back to a no-fee, no-minimum plan.

This summer, I got another notice saying that they were doing the minimum usage plan again. I pretty much ignored it until I got the bill.

This time, when I called to cancel, they didn't even bother trying to keep me. After I punched in my number and hit the cancel service option, it kicked me straight into the cancel instructions, so I never even spoke to a human.

I assume that I could have tried to find a human who could find me some no-fee plan with an even more outrageous per-minute rate, but if they weren't even going to try, neither was I.

So, I'm paying my final bill and switching to Sprint. 50 free minutes with my cell plan (which I probably won't ever need to use), and no fee.