Thursday, March 29, 2007

Liquid False Alarm Almost Leads to TSA Trouble

I just got back from the social media conference in Colorado. I'll probably write up most of my notes in my work blogs, but I'll mention some of my personal observations from the trip here, since I still insist on compartmentalizing these kinds of things.

On the way back though security in DIA (which is in the middle of a huge tract of land -- it took a lot longer to get from the airport boundary to the terminal than it did to get from Reston to Dulles), the TSA screener saw something in my laptop bag as it was going through x-ray.

I don't know what he saw, though it apparently looked like a container of liquid or gel (it might have been an old prescription pill bottle that I carry Tylenol in -- it's stuffed with cotton so it doesn't rattle -- or possibly a plastic tube I keep some foam earplugs in).

Either way, they pulled my bag off the belt for a hand-search, and as the TSA person was looking through my bag, she came across something that, um, should not have been in there.

Now, it's not otherwise illegal, and it's just a piece of plastic (it's not even sharp or pointy), but it's conceivable that it could possibly be interpreted as a prohibited item. Maybe.

"What's this?" she asked.

"Keychain," I instantly replied, "It's an ankh." (Close enough.)

She handled it briefly (including in the fashion it's supposed to be held), threw it back in the bag, and finding nothing else, sent me on my way.

It could have been unpleasant.

Now, I do have a lot of useful junk in my bag (even after taking out the sharp and excessively heavy things before the trip), including a Craftsman 12-in-1 screwdriver and a Pocketwrench II,
any of which could be used in a pinch to klonk someone with.

I also have a few different flashlights (a 2AA mini-Maglight with an LED drop-in module, and an Inova T3 that has a much brighter, focused beam, at cost of a shorter runtime and requiring less-common lithium batteries that are super expensive if you don't buy them online).

However, this time around, one of the lights did actually come in handy.

When I turned off my phone, I'd put it in my bag, which proceeded to tip over during takeoff.

After we landed, I couldn't find my phone, even after I turned my bag inside out several times and looked under the seat.

It was only until I shone a bright light under the seat that I saw it had slid back by a seat strut (it had been hidden by their shoes of the people behind me).

Of course, it would have given me an excuse to get a new phone, but whatever.

Other than that, the flight was pretty uneventful. Well, it ended up taking an hour longer, since we had to take on more fuel so we could route around some bad weather, but at least I had a row of seats all to myself.

So while it was an older 757 and not the 777 I had westbound, it was a pretty good flight, and not at all jail-like.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Contact With Sprinkler Will Cause Flooding

No More Wire Hangers
Contact With Sprinkler Will Cause Flooding

I'm in Boulder, Colorado right now, for the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media and Pie. (There's no pie, but there should be. Everything is better with pie.)

The check-in lines at Dulles were fierce, but I was able to skip them since I didn't have any bags. Score.

I ended up stealing some little girl's Nintendo DS stylus -- she'd dropped it in the gate area and I was going to give it to her on the plane, but I couldn't find her.

I was on a Boeing 777, which was pretty nice. I was somewhat disappointed that the pilots hadn't enabled the Flightdeck radio channel (that lets you listen in on the conversations with the air traffic controllers -- they're very polite).

Other than that, the flight was uneventful. The movie was Casino Royale. And it was boring. And this was the "edited for content" version.

Last Chance to Denver.

Here's dusk at Denver International:

Dusk at DIA

That's about it.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Blackened Pizza and a Black Man With a Hammer

Burnt Pizza
Nasty looking, isn't it?

After coming home from last night's DC Fark party at RFD (I will get my pics up and post about it later), I put some leftover pizza in the oven for a snack.

Night of the Living Dead was on TCM. The last thing I remember was a black man boarding up the house.

When I woke up, I realized that, yes, I'd fallen asleep with the oven on again.

The pity of it is, even though it was a few days old, the pizza was leftover from Manhattan Pizzeria, which is not horrible if you like NY style.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

For My Birthday, I'm Gonna Run for President

I've given this a lot of thought, and because I will be reaching the age of candidacy, I've decided to run for president in 2008.

In other words, I'll be turning 35.

To celebrate the throwing of my hat into the ring, and since my birthday inconveniently falls on Otago Anniversary Day (Observed) -- Monday, and don't ask me what it is, I don't know, either -- I'll be celebrating my candidacy with a dual birthday celebration with Adam (who just turned 28 -- he can't even run for Senate yet. Well, that, and he's Irish. And a felon).
  • Where: Ragtime in Courthouse, Arlington.

  • When: Saturday, 3/24. Starting around 9pm.

  • What Else: No gifts (for me, though I hear Adam is a real man-whore about that stuff.).
Oh, and don't wear anything... complicated.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Show Report: The Raveonettes at the Rock and Roll Hotel, 3/16/07


Last Friday, I went to see The Raveonettes at the Rock and Roll Hotel (and I have to thank either Brightest Young Things or Pandahead, since I didn't know about the show until I saw an entry about it in the DC Blogs Live feed).

Here's the full Flickr set photo set.

Getting There = Significantly Less Than Half the Fun

This was my first time going to Rock and Roll Hotel, and I almost didn't make it. I got a super late start in, and I misplaced the directions at least 3 times. (Apparently, putting them in my pocket instead of my laptop bag -- which then went into the trunk -- was too difficult a concept to grasp.)

Then, I hit a snag following the directions from the site (E St NW, Left on 17th St NW, Right on H St), because police cars were blocking the intersections where I needed to go.

I parked and looked around -- I finally figured out why: The damn communist hippie antiwar protesters were gathered around the White House. And they were going to make me miss the show.

Eventually, between the suggestions of a helpful MPD motorcycle cop and the compass on my mirror (head northeast), I got to the club at around 11pm. I'd already made it that far andLink the ticket was paid for, so I figured I'd catch the tail end of the show from the back of the room.

Thank You, New Jersey Turnpike

In a fortunate turn of events (for me), the band had hit some snow and ice leaving New York, got stuck on the New Jersey Turnpike for 16 hours, and didn't take the stage until midnight.

The club feels very much like the Black Cat, especially with all the yutes running around (it's all-ages). So I was pretty much surrounded by children (literal and actual).

I was able to snake my way up to the front and squeezed up against the right speaker stack, so I was able to rest my camera on the monitor (which is why most of my photos are angled up slightly).

The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner sets up.
Sune Rose Wagner sets up.

Now, I had a 50-50 shot, but I just happened to pick the side closest to Sharin Foo, who is hot. She's got the Danish thing going, of course, and has great gams (see how most of my photos are oriented portrait-style? That was a choice.) And her last name is "Foo." Score.

Sharin Foo

Anyway, because I couldn't move, all the photos pretty much look like this. I took over a 100, (whittled down to 88 in the set), and these are probably the best of the bunch (damn rock stars won't stay still for a photo).


There were a lot of cameras going off, and a lot of camera flashes. I only used mine a few times.


For some of the later shots, I tried the Auto ISO (1600) setting, and bumped down the exposure level a bit. Just playing around.

One of the few flash shots I tried.

Sune generates some feedback. Note: Legs.

So, it was a good show. Afterwards, I skipped the "Sharin Foo & Sune Rose Wagner DJ Set" (the floor of which showcased some of the worst dancing I've ever seen), and went to the bar upstairs to look around.

An interesting space, though I'll have to try harder (and be less drunk) do get some decent pictures.

There was also a gaggle of Gallaudet students (I'd noticed the stage manager downstairs using ASL to talk to the sound tech during setup, which seems like a useful club talent) and various other flavors of young hipster. I hung out for a bit, then left around 2am.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The World (er, The Globe) Will End in 2007

I'd been planning on talking about this, and DCist did an item yesterday about radio station 94.7 The Globe, which recently flipped from classic rock to a kind of classic-alternative-mix -- with an environmentally friendly, crunchy granola theme.

I like the music. I should: I'm in the sweet spot of their target demographic.

Plus, as far as I can tell, their motto should be "At least one Talking Heads song per hour."

However, I don't think the enviro-friendly green gimmick is going to finish out the year.

It's because their "101 Ways You Can Save the Earth (Without Really Doing Anything)"-schtick is already getting tedious.

I mean, there's only so many promos you can do about reusable grocery bags and turning out the lights when you leave a room.

Now, the only question in my mind is whether the coattails of July's Live Earth concerts are going to be enough to get them through the summer.

After that, who knows? I hear Spanish language stations are pretty hot.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Liberal Media Forced Me to Eat Ramen

Lately, I've found myself eating Ramen noodles again, after a break of about 10 years.

I blame the liberal media. Specifically, I blame Salon's "Ask the Pilot" column, a recent edition of which sang an airline pilot's praises of ramen.

It spoke to me, reaching some inner emptiness that could not be fulfilled by healthier, non-deep-fried instant noodle products (of which I have many, especially the Trader Joe's instant noodle soup bowls.)

I dug through my cupboard and found a few ancient packages, which to my ramen-deprived palate, tasted the same as if they had just been purchased yesterday.

I ran through those pretty quickly.

Fortunately, as luck would have it, a 10-pack of Maruchan brand (which is made in Irvine, CA and Richmond, VA) was on sale at the supermarket:

Ramen 8-pack

Now that's good eating, at only 380 calories and 14 grams of fat per two-serving package.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Good Free Throw Shooting Does NOT Prove Character

Just heard this bit of sports wisdom during the Louisville vs. Texas A&M game, about Edgar Sosa, who was perfect from the free throw line (10 for 10 at the time, 13 for 13 now):

"Now that really shows his character."

No, it does fucking not show his character. I don't know anything about the kid, but whether he's a thug or a perfect gentleman, going 10 for 10 from the foul line may show any number of things: athletic prowess, consistency, composure -- but that's not his character. That's his skill. It's not who he is as a person.

You Know You're Having a Bad Day When Your Usage Is Corrected by Digg Users

Contact Music has a Borat article, "Borat Star Scared to Visit Kazakhstan" (link via Digg).

It contains a really dumb vocabulary mistake that completely flips the story.

Since the story is so short, there's no point in excerpting it, and since the story is the story, it's a fair use, so here it is. The EXCESSIVE CAPITALIZATION is all theirs:
"SACHA BARON COHEN is keen to visit the homeland of his comic creation BORAT - but one of his co-stars is so frightened to visit Kazakhstan, he would only travel there if BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN is withdrawn from sale. Actor KEN DAVITIAN admits he is scared of visiting the country after appearing in the controversial movie as producer AZAMAT BAGATOV - despite the film release topping Kazakhstan's DVD chart on internet retailer He explains, "I got a call from Sacha asking me if I had any interest in visiting Kazakhstan with him. "I said no but I've had a rethink and I've told Sacha that I'll go with him if the Kazakh authorities sanction the DVD version of Borat there. That's the only way we'd both feel safe and welcome."
The first sentence says that actor Davitian would only go if the Borat DVD "is withdrawn from sale," which is kind of an odd thing for an actor to say.

How did Contact Music come to this conclusion? Look at the quote:
"I've told Sacha that I'll go with him if the Kazakh authorities sanction the DVD version of Borat there. That's the only way we'd both feel safe and welcome." [emphasis added]
Looks like the writer isn't aware that "sanction" has two meanings (also, FYI, Heather Has Two Mommies.)

Sanction is one of those funny words that has multiple, self-contradicting definitions (the proper term is Auto-antonym, or contranym); sanctions are punishments, though if you sanction something, you're allowing or giving it your approval.

On the scale of grammar and usage mistakes, this is pretty high up, since the entire meaning of the story changes because of it, unlike a misspelling, which just makes the writer look dumb.

Friday, March 16, 2007

First Round Losses Cause Really Bad Web Page Design

I was disappointed (though not really surprised) by Duke's first-round loss in the NCAA tournament yesterday.

Outside of the feeding the ravening glee of the ever-growing chorus of Duke haters, I notice that another bad effect was on the campus newspaper Duke Chronicle's Web site, which featured an eye-bleeding, blue on red, 613-pixel tall "Breaking News" banner (with photo) on every fucking page on the site:

Duke Chronicle Online, 3/16/07

People, I know your brains are fried because you're on Spring Break, but the game didn't end late enough for you to be so sleep-deprived that you didn't realize you were making such a silly design decision.

An Open Letter to Hot Bartender Kacey Doxsey

Dear Hot Bartender Kacey Doxsey,

Hi. You don't know me. And I don't know you. But in an earlier blog entry about St. Patrick's Day last year, I did excerpt a bit of a Newsvine/AP story, which featured a picture of you (with caption), mixing four gallons of traditional St. Paddy's Day Margaritas at One Eyed Lizzy's in Savannah, Georgia, where you were apparently working at the time, and which is also apparently the only bar left in the Western Hemisphere that doesn't have a Web site.

Now, I don't know if you're still working there. Or if you're even still in the Greater Savannah area. And I don't know, in point of fact, if you are a hot bartender. You could be a hot manager. Or a hot barback. Or a hot server. In fact, I'm not even sure that you're hot (the picture is kind of dark), but I'm guessing that you are, since according to my referrer logs, people are searching on your name in Google, and they hit my blog on a fairly regular basis. (Actually, this was truer in August of 2006, when I first started drafting this.)

Maybe the people who are searching for you are friends with whom you've lost touch. Or maybe it's because you have an unusually spelled, rhyming name that people remember. Or it could be that you have a manner that really puts people at ease. Or maybe you're a meth dealer. Or you're very sexually open. I really have no idea.

Anyway, the point of all this, besides just snarking on some random girl just because she happened to be featured in a newspaper photo caption last year, is that I just wanted to let you know that if you're ever feeling down, just know that there are people who are interested in knowing more about you.

Also, you might want to consider carrying pepper spray, and an edged or impact weapon, and remember to always be aware of your surroundings.



P.S. I'm sure Savannah is really nice. Considering all that, you know, unpleasantness a century or two ago. I've never been -- actually, I think I did pass through back in 1993, when Duke played Cal in the NCAA tournament -- we were coming back from Fripp Island, which has nothing to do with King Crimson, and we stopped in some sports bar -- I'm sure it wasn't yours, to watch what turned out to be a loss (damn you, Jason Kidd! Never forget!)

Have I Been Cool Hunted? You Better Hope Not.

Since I'm terminally uncool, this is a hypothetical, but Cool Hunter Street Team: Keep your stupid stickers off my stuff, you conspicuous-consumption, bleeding-edge, fashion-forward, cooler-than-thou hipster douchebags:

Keep Your Coolhunter Stickers Off My Stuff

I swear, you start stickering my stuff as part of your stupid awareness-raising viral marketing campaigns, and I start channeling Francis "Psycho" Sawyer:
"...I don't like no one touching my stuff. So just keep your meathooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I'll kill you..."
I do read for a slice of design porn, even if I don't fetishize design like they do and I feel fashion should just fall off a cliff, since they occasionally feature interesting shiny things and frou-frou tchotchkes (when they're not fixating on over-designed concept boutique hotels and resorts which I will never, ever visit-- oh, and hey, while we're at it, a hip-cool advertising campaign is still just fucking advertising).

But if you ever start putting stickers on my stuff, things are going to get really hot and ugly, because the volatile liquids that are usually used to remove adhesive residue are very, very flammable.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Happy St. Patdy's Day?

So as we approach St. Patrick's Day, I prepare from the inevitable outrage from my Irish friends, who always blow a gasket because we dumb Americans insist on shortening it to "St. Patty's Day."

"That's WRONG," they proclaim. "Patty is a girl's name. The short version of Patrick is 'Paddy'!"

Drives 'em nuts.

Since it's unlikely that anything's going to change over here (and let's face it, they already have that John -> Jack, Edward -> Teddy thing), I propose a compromise:

Let's split the difference, and call it "St. Patdy's Day."

("St. Padty's Day" would also work.)

That way, no one's happy.

ShamrockFest, David Mamet and the Pretty Young Abercrombie Blonde

So ShamrockFest, Northern Virginia's premiere pre-St. Patrick's Day warmup drunkenness, was Saturday. You can skip the narrative and jump straight to the picture set, though you'll miss the story about David Mamet and the Pretty Young Abercrombie Blonde.

This was the first year it hasn't been in Arlington. I'd been on the fence about going, since paying for the privilege of standing in line to pay for beer just doesn't sound as appealing as it used to.

Of course, I usually overcome this sentiment. Plus, after I made up my mind to go, I got a VIP ticket hookup, which was pretty sweet.

I rode in with Lon, who drove us to Clarendon. I convinced him that it would be a good idea to park and Metro the rest of the way in (all 14 stops), so I successfully projected onto him my dislike of driving into DC.

We got in without very much hassle, though I have to admit that I was looking kind of sideways at people who go to these kinds of things and bring their own beads (and other tacky, beer-logoed holiday accessories).

Yes, I realize that it's the only time of year to break these things out.

Anyway, we got there a little after 1pm. It was pretty much a perfect day to be out.

Also, I ran into my friend Ellen, who was managing things in the VIP area:


I started taking pictures of people in funny hats:

DSCF0589 DSCF0591

We would end up seeing a lot more of the Big Killian's Hat, including here:


Also, we had a few opportunities to hear the District of Columbia Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes & Drums, and their rousing dance remix of "Amazing Grace":

Note the traditional flaskware at their belts.

Now, we get to the story of the Pretty Young Abercrombie Blonde. Study the following picture closely:


Note the sticker that says "Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck." Now, I'd thought that it was a David Mamet quote, but as far as I can tell, it's me misremembering and mutating a Mamet joke. You know, the one where a snooty businessman tells a panhandler "'Neither a borrower nor a lender be' -- Polonius", and the panhandler replies, "'Fuck you!' -- David Mamet" (another variation being "Fuck you, cocksucker!")

Anyway, that's probably why she had no idea why I asked her if she was a Mamet fan.

Meet the Bloggers

In addition to kickballers and other unsavory types, I ran into some of the usual DC bloggers suspects:

Me, Red, I-66, Heather Barmore, ArJewTino, and KassyK.

Red reminded me that I haven't been posting very often.

Also, this being my first time meeting ArJewTino that I can recall, I told him that he was shorter than I expected (when I obviously meant to say, "I thought you would be larger than life.")

Since he was taking notes, I can only assume his recollection of my verbiage is the more accurate account:


The Aftermath

Anyway, I managed to miss each one of the bands I was potentially interested in seeing (funny how that works when there's essentially free beer), so we headed back in for more fun (it was still early).

After getting separated at the Metro (where you can see the Girl Scout Cookie Guy)...


...we decided to rally at Lucky Bar (there was also a lot of empanada talk). So we got back in the car and drove there (negating that whole "not having to drive there" thing, though we did get Really Good Parking).

We partied there for a while with an engagement party (the family of which originally hailed from 2 exits up the Garden State Parkway from me. I asked. Yes, I asked, "What exit?" though I got a funny look until I told them "135.")

Finally, we raided Julia's Empanadas and eventually made it back.

So it was a pretty good day.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Jack Bauer's Corollary to Chekhov's Gun

The dramatic principle of Chekhov's Gun can be paraphrased as:

"If you see a gun in the first act, it should go off by the last."

To that, we can add the Jack Bauer Corollary to Chekhov's Gun:

"If you see a cigar cutter anywhere near Jack Bauer, someone's finger is coming off."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Now That's Just Mean

Photo from Plaza America in Reston:

That's Just Mean
"Coming Soon: Five Guys," immediately next door to a Fitness First

The space where the Five Guys is coming in used to be a Burger King, so I guess it's not that much of a change.

Also, that Fitness First is on the second floor of the building. Of course, there's an escalator to get upstairs.