Saturday, December 31, 2005

I Hate Delaware

This "observations from the drive back" post has been in draft mode since Monday.

The drive back from NJ was rather... hellish. I left the house a little after 2pm, though I didn't get really get moving until 15 minutes later, that being the amount of time waiting in line for $2.03/gallon gas (12 cents cheaper than the station next door.)

Heading down on the NJ Turnpike, it started slowing down after the merge, as it typically does.

I passed the time by singing along with my Beltable Burn CD mix, which is composed of songs that I think I can sing -- there's a lot of Fountains of Wayne, Paul Simon, They Might Be Giants.

I used my phone earpiece to record myself, a kind of car karaoke experiment.

It turns out that those songs I think I can sing? Not so much.

I only had luck with a few songs from the Swingers soundtrack. I guess I'm not cut out for rock and roll.

Anyway, I tuned in to the turnpike traffic advisory radio & expected to hear about the usual delays at the Exit 1 tolls, with the usual alternate route suggestion of route 195 west to 295 south.

As alternates go, it's a pretty nice drive. Scenic, and never as crowded as the 2-lane southern stretch of the Turnpike.

I was kind of surprised to hear that because of big delays at the Delaware Memorial Bridge, they were routing people through Philly -- 195 west to 295 north.

295 north turns into 95 south, which is kind of confusing.

Anyway, Pennsylvania was pretty easy.

The lines at the Delaware tolls was brutal; since I had plenty of time to look at the map, I decided to bail and took 896 north to 2 west. This goes right through the University of Delaware.

It was pretty much all 2-lane at this point, so I settled back for a long, slow, dark drive on a succession of small roads through small towns.

Route 2 turned into 273, which takes you past Blue Ball Road (a road that I have travelled down many times), then to route 1 and the town of Rising Sun, which I have always wondered is as pretty as its name.

It's not, but that's okay.

Route 1 keeps going, through the town of Conowingo and across a hydroelectric dam of the same name.

It gradually heads towards Baltimore -- just head towards the pink sky from the city lights.

Eventually, it hits 695 around Baltimore (I like 695 around Baltimore, taking the Key Bridge, especially at night. The only thing is that there's still construction going on, so it's down to one lane in certain stretches. Really narrow one lane, which is fun when it's dark and raining. High pucker factor.), and then back into the rat race on 95.

Wrong Job?

I'm watching the Duke vs. UNC-G game on TV.

It's a Raycom/Jefferson Pilot game. The color man is Bobby Cremins (formerly head coach of Georgia Tech).

I think he would be better off coaching somewhere.

Nose Job

I was wondering why the bridge of my nose was hurting.

Apparently, one of the nose pads on my glasses tore off some time last night.

I cannibalized one of the pads from an older pair until I can get another.

Toe Job

At home last night, I managed to stub my toe against a side table.

"Stub" sounds so trivial. It was actually more like a kick.

Alcohol may have been a factor.


Photo Notes:

* This gave me chance to play with the Macro setting on my camera

* I need to trim my toe hair

Friday, December 30, 2005

Desktop Organization, Courtesy of Windows

Windows XP has a feature designed to help you keep your desktop neat and orderly.

When you get past a certain number of icons on your desktop, XP will thoughtfully hide new items, by displaying them off the visible portion of the screen.

It's quite thoughtful of them, actually.

Monday, December 26, 2005

It's the Little Things...

Here's to the following items:

* "Beers of the World" Sampler 8-Packs

* '24' Reruns

* Unspecified neighbor's open Wi-Fi connections

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dumb Things From Holiday-mas

* We went to Mass at 10:30. Mom still thinks it's 1986, when you had to come really early, or else you had to park 5 blocks away and then stand in the back. It's not, as I keep reminding her.

* I got my mom a can opener. An ergonomic can opener, but a can opener nonetheless. (That's not the dumb part, as my mom is really hard to shop for.)

I thought it was a side-cut can opener, but it's not.

* My sister (and I, after the fact) got mom and dad a Mac Mini, to replace the ancient Windows 2000 laptop they'd had. They already had a wireless mouse -- unfortunately, the keyboard that we have here is serial, not USB. So we couldn't finish setting it up.

Merry Holiday

Merry Christmas to all, and to all... go wrap your presents, slacker.

Dumb Things From I-95

Drove up to the homestead Saturday morning, instead of my usual Friday night.

Got a late start (mostly because of the, um, alternate Friday night activities), so I was afraid I was going to run into traffic from the football game, but it was pretty light all the way through.

* The motto for Baltimore's Live 106.5 is the best hits of the "'90s, 80s, and now."

That's an awful lot of skipping around.

It's not alphabetical, it's not chronological, and it's not done for alliterative reasons.

Oh, and I recommend you don't visit the Live 106.5 Web site ( They've got non-closeable flash video ads, with loud, non-muteable audio, running in the lower right corner of the main page. So far, I've seen a lawyer and Ray Lewis (hawking some protein drink).

* Passed a pickup truck, apparently owned by a personal trainer. He had a little mailbox-thing mounted on the back of the cab, marked "Take One" and presumably filled with brochures.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a passenger, so I couldn't.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Meat and Cheese, 12/21/05 Edition

Periodically, a bunch of us old-skool AOLers (mostly alumni at this point) get together for meat and cheese at a local themed franchise steak eatery.

We swap the same old stories, slag the same old people and generally wallow in a pit of shared memories.

It's a pretty good time.

Cameras are not normally permitted at these events, but I was able to sneak this photo:

Meat and Cheese, 12/21

That's Shawn, Michelle, Mike, Jason and me. Incidentally, this photo features the three original AOL Webmasters.

I think this was Michelle's first Meat & Cheese.

Click the photo or this link to get the 800 pixel wide version.

Photo-wise, I only took out the redeye -- we really are that good-looking.

Shortly afterwards, though, AOL stopped hiring solely on the basis of appearance.

Hair Shirt Redux

I did it again. Pulled what I thought was a clean shirt from the closet, only to find shortly thereafter that I had worn it during a haircut.

Point of clarification -- I usually only re-wear outer layers, like sweaters. Unless I am really lazy.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fight the Flush

Like about half of Asians, I suffer from the dreaded Asian Flush, which means that I lack a certain enzyme, aldehyde dehydrogenase2, causing me to have trouble breaking down acetaldehyde, a toxin that is a byproduct of the metabolism of alcohol yadda yadda yadda snooze snore bleh (click the wikipedia link, that's what it's there for.)

What that means is that, after a drink or two, I turn very red. (Once, when I was in Cancun, I had a beer with lunch. I was already flushed from the sun -- after the cervezas, I was purple.) Also, it means I am a cheap drunk, with the whole heart-pounding, head-spinning, got my drunk on going on.

Fortunately, there is a workaround -- a Pepcid AC antacid, taken shortly before (or even during) drinking, seems to counteraffect the flush. No one is really sure why -- the active ingredient is Famotidine, but anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that it works.

From personal experience, that is probably why I feel the effects of a few drinks more at home, when I don't take a Pepcid, than I do when I am out and about.

This is why you can usually find me with Pepcid (or the generic equivalent) in my glove compartment, keychain pill fob, jacket pocket, shaving kit and man-purse/laptop bag.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Break Fast With Benjamin

This morning, waiting in line to pay for my breakfast -- coffee and egg sandwich, with a rather generous side of bacon -- I was struck by two things:

* My typical breakfast experience in New York City consisted of popping in at any given deli and getting 2 eggs (fried) on a roll (kaiser), with a cup of coffee.

I especially liked how the counterperson would invariably turn the question "Salt, pepper, ketchup?" into one word.

* It takes a certain kind of person to pay for a $3.62 breakfast with a hundred dollar bill.

Specifically, it would be the person ahead of me in line, forcing the cashier to go to the back office and get bills so she could break his benjamin.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Simple Taste

I disproportionately enjoy Campbell's recipe for the One Dish Chicken and Rice Bake.

It is drop dead simple to make, since all you need is a can of cream of ______ soup, rice, chicken and rudimentary spices and thus is a staple of both harried homemakers and swinging bachelors.

I have two theories as to why I like it so much:

1. It harks back to my childhood, taking the role of comfort food.

2. I have exceedingly simple tastes.

I am inclined to go with the latter explanation.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sink Strainer Showdown

Now is the reckoning.

Now we shall see if the $1.99 sink strainer is actually twice as good as the previous, dollar store $0.99 sink strainer.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Went to a combination birthday/farewell party last night.

Somehow, the topic of holy communion came up. Some of the variations of communion wafers that were mentioned:

* Low-Carb Communion
* Garlic-Flavored Communion (The body of Christ... is delicious!)
* Scoop-shaped Communion, with optional guacamole/salsa bar
* Crouton Communion

In other news, the swear words that I keep forgetting were Samoan, not Tongan.

Also, at some point, I made a reference to the Turing test.

I have no recollection as to what the context was.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Observations From Last Night

* Contrary to conventional wisdom, howling, Wolfman Jack-style, at women crossing the street from the window of your SUV has a low probability of anything resembling success. (Unless your goal is having them ask, "Did they just howl at us?" in which case you were 100% successsful).

* Why is the CSI: New York opening theme song "Baba O'Reilly"? There are other Who songs that have lyrics much closer to the theme of the show; say, "The Seeker" (although I hear this is going to be used for CSI: East Lansing).

CSI: Miami uses "Won't Get Fooled Again", which also works. I had to look that up.

* Galaxy Hut now has a cocktail style three-in-one arcade machine. Well, it was there two weeks ago, but it's plugged in now. (It also has a MySpace.)

The machine features Galaga, Galaxian and Space Invaders. Young hipsters playing Galaga, here's a tip -- let the mother alien thing capture your first ship, so you can recapture it and get double-shot firepower.

Oh, and it was very Guyville in there. Like Ladies Night, only without any ladies.

Wash 'n' Wear (Minus the Wash)

When taking a shirt from the "Previously worn, but not dirty" pile, make sure it was not previously worn during a haircut.

Bad, Worse, Worst, Ludicrous

Bad: A telemarketer calls.

Worse: To your cell phone.

Worst: It's a recording.

Ludicrous: It's in Spanish.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Meat Is Good Food

I've been eating a lot (well, for me) of red meat lately.

I've always been kind of flexible, considering ham and pork to be on the border.

Haven't eaten a lot of beef, though.

This week alone, I've had taco bell tacos, a cheese steak, and some roast beast today.

Maybe I'm anemic again.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tile Job

Selecting "Tile Windows" is never, ever helpful.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Heads Up

I finally customized the header graphic that came with this blog template (Snapshot Sable).

Header Animated Gif

I stuck to the same basic structure, just updated a few elements:

* Battery Life: Increased to two-thirds. Very important.
* Number: Increased from the familiar 24 to the ritualistically more important 23.
* Map: Changed the unfamiliar subway map with a map of the western portion of the DC Metro, which I know very well.
* Photo: Replaced the pic of leaves and berries with a shot of the Shanghai skyline from our China trip. The skyline fit the cutout pretty good, though I had to trim the top part of the Oriental Pearl Tower.
* Most importantly, I replaced the illegible text next to the 24 with slightly less illegible text. Here's the translation:
I believe the children are our future. Teach them well... let them lead the way. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Let's just be friends. I'm gonna need a hacksaw. Impatient cow: Moo. You're not in this for the hunting, are you?
All of it means something.

Down the Drain

If you ever find a five-year-old bottle of Dr. Pepper (especially one whose sides have gone triangular with escaped carbonation), don't try to drink it.

Just pour it out.

I Am Easily Suggestible

The Idaho potato people have a television spot extolling the virtues of potatoes and its premiere position in the new FDA Food Pyramid.

The spot features fitness celebrity Denise Austin (who should not be confused with fellow fitness celebrity John Basedow).

I have a potato nuking in the microwave as we speak.

Things I Should Throw Directly Into the Trash to Save Time

* Broccoli

* Lettuce

* The newsprint portions of the Sunday Washington Post

* Apples

* Kiwis

* The three only-nominally-different Reston weekly newspapers (which each run essentially the same stories, crime briefs and letters to the editor)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Laptops should not be used as food trays.

Oh, So Pretty

From an IM conversation, mere moments ago. We were trying to schedule a meeting:

Them: hey joe - let me know when you have some time to go over the [thing]
Me: I'm pretty today
Me: um
Me: pretty open

I blame lag.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How to Microwave Frozen Trader Joe's Shrimp Dumplings

1. Briefly rinse frozen shrimp dumplings under running water.
2. Place dumplings in microwaveable bowl. Cover.
3. Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes.
4. Go to bed after forgetting you were making dumplings.
5. Open the microwave 2 days later and try not to vomit as you throw the dumplings into the garbage.
6. Shortly afterwards, fish around in the garbage so you can double-bag the dumplings because garbage day is two days away.


The drive back from Thanksgiving was pretty annoying.

It would have been even more annoying if the car slightly behind me in the lane to my left hadn't stopped when the minivan trying to merge onto Route 7 in bumper-to-bumper traffic decided it would be smart to bolt forward and cut me off, forcing me to switch lanes.

As it was, it was annoying enough that I only managed a friendly beep on the horn, instead of leaning on it, then reaching back for the tire iron.

An Open Letter to the Woman Driving the Jeep Liberty at the Giant

Dear Woman Driving the Jeep Liberty at the Giant,

It is customary to indicate one's intent to change direction by using the turn signal prior to turning.

This task is greatly facilitated when one is not holding a cell phone up to one's face.

Also, you're a stupid bitch cow.



I Hate Pumping Iron

I've been sleeping in my spare bedroom for about a week now.

It would be a guestroom, except I don't have guests.

This is because there are about 4 loads of laundry (clean) that need ironing, laying on my bed.

I hate ironing.

Something That's Been Bothering Me...

Just what the hell is so easy about Sunday morning, anyway?

Monday, December 05, 2005

It's Snowing. Everybody Panic!

It's been snowing here in the lovely DC Metro area -- it's going to peak during the evening rush, which should be wonderful.

We're expecting a whole three inches by tomorrow morning.

People around here don't take snow too well.

Whenever there's a hint of snow around here, it's customary for people here to run around in circles screaming, then stampede to the supermarket to get toilet paper, milk and bread.

It kind of sucks if you actually need to buy milk, as I do.

Friday, December 02, 2005

New Album Up: Nov. 16 at Galaxy Hut

A few Wednesdays ago at Galaxy Hut, with the usual gang of idiots.

Here's Jenny, in the service of her fellow man.


I took most of the photos with my finger over the flash, which produces some neat effects (It's a trick I learned from Teepee).

It also helps reduce the bright flash in dark bar annoyance factor.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Scots-Irish-Asian Connection

Some Irish fiends of mine who just saw the latest Harry Potter movie told me last night (rather emphatically) that if I were to cultivate a Scottish (or, to a lesser extent, Irish) accent, I would be irresistable.

Of course, they meant even more irresistable.

Apparently, this is because the incongruity of an Asian speaking with a Scottish accent (similar to the Cho Chang role in the movie, played by Scottish-born actrress Katie Leung), is intriguing, in a way that my flat, nasal mid-Atlantic non-accent is not.

In the absence of a dialect coach, I will have to model my new accent after Groundskeeper Willy, Mike Meyers, Sean Connery, and Darrell Hammond's impression of Sean Connery on SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy sketches.

Let the panty-flinging commence!