Saturday, May 26, 2007

Low-Grade Fevers and Cut Cable Lines for Memorial Day

I've got a scratchy throat and a low-grade fever right now. I don't think I'm actually sick -- I just feel like ass, so I'm not doing anything right now except watching TV.

Even that was an adventure -- my cable (including my internet access) has been out since Thursday night. (I came home after kickball, turned on the TV, saw snow, so I fell asleep watching 'Airplane.' Was out all day Friday, so I didn't deal with it until today.)

I had an appointment from 3-5pm; I called around 6pm, and the techs came a little after 7pm. Guess there were a lot of folks anxious to not be without service during the holiday.

Apparently, someone had cut my wire in setting up someone else's service, so they ran a temporary wire on the surface until they can dig a new one, which will happen sometime during the next 2 weeks and will probably cut off someone else's service in the process.

And the circle will be complete.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Inaugural TechCocktail DC

So I went to the inaugural TechCocktail DC (hosted by Frank Gruber and friends) at MX... MCX... Club 1223 in DC last week.

Thursday is my kickball night, so I ended up missing a game, but I figured it would be worth it. Plus, in all my years down here, I'd never been inside 1223 before (next door a bunch of times, getting empanadas, or at Lucky Bar getting turned away for wearing sneakers, sure), so I was doubly curious about the event.

It was a pretty standard (though well-attended) networking shindig. The usual suspects in the DC tech crowd were there: AOL (a sponsor), including a few folks from recent acquisition Relegence, Revolution Health (which is right across the street); blog search company Blogdigger; met a bunch of the Freewebs folks, too, though I was not particularly diligent about giving and receiving business cards.

I also didn't take too many pictures (at least, not of any consequence). What I have are on Flickr:

DSCF1498 DSCF1497
Yes, I was at a networking event, so naturally I took upskirt pictures of light fixtures.

There were also some statuesque torsos in the hallway to the bathrooms:



Okay, I did get one usable shot of people:

Blair, Jen, Frank and Stephanie.

Oh, and DC being a small town, and DC tech being an even smaller town, I ran into the DC Metblogs crew, including Wayan (frequent DC Metblogs and 60 Minutes contributor), who blogged about our encounter, complete with picture:

So, it was a good event -- they kicked us out around 10, and I made it back to catch the last bits of the kickball folks at Carpool.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The So-Called Superiority of European Date Formats

Here's a question I sometimes ask of my European friends (As well as those folks who only think they're European. I'm talking about you Irish and Canadians, specifically):

If your calendar date formats are so much better and make so much more sense because they run from smaller units to larger -- Day/Month/Year...

How come your time formats aren't also that way -- Minutes/Hours?

I've never gotten a satisfactory answer.

Viewing Pornography at the Office

Last Friday, as I was wandering around the cubicles, I stopped by the pod of a fellow who does some metrics dashboards for the group. A few days before, there'd been a particularly relevant Dilbert comic about the use and abuse of key metrics that I wanted to share with him. I started telling him about it.

He wasn't sure if he'd seen it yet, so I told him to look at the online archives at

"" he asked.

"Yeah,," I said, not quite grasping the enormity of the mistake I'd just made.

He typed in the URL, and as the page began to load, I saw that he'd left the "t" off.

The page started rendering, and I started to say, "Wait, that's not the right URL," when what I should have done was:
  1. Reach over.
  2. Hit the escape key.
  3. Physically interpose myself in front of the screen.
  4. Turn off the monitor.
I should have done this, because a second later, we were staring at four pairs of tits (and their respective owners) on a porn site.

Of course, it couldn't have be one of those porn sites with a legally disclaimed, "Click here if you're over 18 and this content isn't obscene under your community standards" text-only splash screen. Oh, no. This was the real deal.

Though I guess I should be happy the models were only half-nude. I guess you have to apply some restraint when you're typosquatting such a popular site.

Here is a re-creation, with the relevant Dilbert panels strategically superimposed over the naughty bits:

Dilbert and Dilber
It was even worse than this screenshot indicates, since the monitor we were using was a 17" LCD flatscreen with a higher vertical viewing area. Which meant more breasts.

Being a staid, slightly older, reserved, buttoned-down, family-oriented man (basically, the kind of guy you want doing a dashboard of key metrics), he made an "Oh my" kind of exclamation and closed the browser window, as I made my own futile apologies.

It was kind of awkward.

It also greatly diminished the comedic impact of the comic, which was unfortunate, since it was a pretty good one (if you've ever dealt with any kind of metrics dashboards).

Monday, May 21, 2007

Hot Sauce Under My Seat

I'm watching the Heroes finale right now, so here's a post of no consequence: A few weeks back, I'd grabbed a Baja Fresh burrito to go.

A couple of days later, I started smelling a distinct odor of hot salsa in the car. So I looked under the seats and found a container of salsa (the red kind), that was almost-- but not quite -- about to burst.

In addition to averting a minor car condiment crisis under the seat, I also found a pair of clip-on sunglasses over by the air vent.

You know, the ones I thought I'd lost, and were the primary reason why I bought a new pair of glasses (well, that and my right eye is catching up to my left eye).

So, on the plus side, I have a spare set of mostly-current glasses with clip-on sunglasses that I can mess around with.

Arts Festivals and Unsecured Loads

I went to the Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival today (though to be honest, if I'd known earlier that the Joint Service Open House Air Show was going on at this weekend at Andrews Air Force Base, I probably would have gone to that instead.)

It was really windy at times (which was fine for the wind-powered whirligig and kinetic sculpture folks, bit troubling for others, especially as tents threatened to blow over), but it was an otherwise nice day. I took a few photos:

A biophysical archer.

A piano-ish sculpture.

However, the most interesting photo was one I didn't get: Driving home on Baron Cameron, there was a Mustang convertible in the oncoming lane, probably only going about 30 mph, with hazard lights on and a full-sized sheet of plywood (at least 4'x8') and a few 2"x4"s propped up in the back seat.

Which meant that the plywood was sticking up into the air about 5 feet, like some gigantic spoiler. With nothing to tie it down to.

Of course, the driver and front-seat passenger were trying to hold it down (a la the guys you see with one arm sticking out the window, trying to hang on to a mattress tied to the roof).

It was pretty comical. I'm sure the long line of cars following them as they blocked the left lane (presumably from the Home Depot) also found it to be comical.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I Hit a Dead Possum Traveling at 65 Miles Per Hour

A few late nights ago, I was driving home eastbound on the Dulles Toll Road.

I was in the second from left lane, and pulled into the left lane (the HOV lane) to pass a car that I'd been stuck behind since the toll booths at Route 28...

...and promptly ran over a dead possum in the middle of the lane.

(At least, I think it was dead. It might have been playing... well, you know. It wasn't playing any more, that's for sure.)

I didn't have a chance to avoid it, so I could only reflect on the money I'd just dropped last month on new front struts, tires, and alignment as I waited for the THUD.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Who Are the Whitlow's Four?

I check the Web sites of some of the local watering holes and concert venues pretty regularly (even if I don't go out as much as I used to) -- the 9:30 Club, Galaxy Hut, Iota, others.

So I've been wondering for a while:

Who are the four girls whose picture rotates through the Whitlow's main page?

Who are the Whitlow's Girls
And you shall know them by their red eyes.

Sometimes as I click past their picture, I find myself speculating idly about them:

What are they like? Are the four of them still hanging out together, or was this just a serendipitous grouping? Were they having a good time at the time? Do they know about the picture? Have they changed in the intervening years? Are they still single? (If they even were single, of course -- then again, they were at Whitlow's.) What's life like for them, living with those freakishly red eyes?

Lots of questions, and no answers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Am a Failure

Here are some of my most recent failures:

* The past two Fridays, I've left a perfectly good half-a-burrito (well, burrito-like wrapped food item), specifically saved from lunch for later consumption, in the office fridge... only to later forget and abandon it. (They clean out the fridges on Friday.)

* I dawdled on getting tickets (including lawn seats) to the now-sold-out Steely Dan show at Wolf Trap (I'm hoping I can show up and cadge some extras)

* I didn't participate in any of the Skate DC Weekend events this past weekend

* I ordered a USB cable for my cell phone off of eBay a few weeks back. It was only today that I realized that it was also supposed to come with a car charger, which never arrived.

* I've had Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq by Ahmed S. Hashim, out from the library through 2 renewals (the limit -- it has to go back today), and I wasn't able to finish it in over a month and a half.

* This week was supposed to be the week I started going to the gym again. Fail.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yes, I'm Still a Total Nerd

Every time I get prompted, "Do you want Firefox to remember this password?", this movie scene flashes through my mind:

Remember Scene From Star Trek II: The Wratch of Khan

If you don't get it, I'm not going to explain it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dumbness Comes in Threes

Here are three bits of current dumbness:

1. I went to a milblog conference last week. I wrote about it in my work blog. I referred to one of the panelists, Sean Dustman of Doc in the Box, as Sean Preston (the Britney-Spawn) not once, but four times (1 full name reference, 3 last name references).

At least I was consistent.

2. Thanks to Sprint, my still-new cell phone, the superslim Samsung 610 does not let you play mp3s as ringtones (the better to force you to pay for downloads). However, someone on the SprintUsers Web forum found a way to do use MP3s as ringtones, simply by renaming the MP3 file with the .3g2 extension, and playing it as a video ringtone.

However, when I tried it, and during my testing, I found that it worked, but played at an unusably low volume. (So, useless as a ringtone.)

It was only by accident that I discovered that the speaker volume is automatically lowered when the phone is open. It's plenty loud when the phone is open closed.

So, now I've got the 24 CTU ringtone, with the option to use the "Ho! Ho! Ho!" bits of the Sugarhill Gang's Apache or the yodel-y bit of Baltimora's Tarzan Boy (thanks to free audio editing program Audacity)

3. I was looking at some clips from a blog entry about the best long takes in film -- it includes the hospital shootout of John Woo's Hong Kong gangster shoot-em-up flick Hard Boiled, which I own on VHS -- it took me a few minutes to realize that the video clip was from the French-dubbed version.

(With the widespread use of CGI, it's hard to keep a clean list of the best long takes and tracking shots -- there is room for debate, once you start digitally assembling bits of film to look like continuous takes. It's kind of like cheating.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wanna Buy a Dump Truck, Cheap?

As I occasionally do, I was looking over the list of local auctions at R. L. Rasmus Auctioneers.

While there was no DC strip club license up for grabs this time around, there is a bankruptcy liquidation auction for an asphalt construction company, which features:

A John Deere backhoe (current bid, $14,250):

A few different dump trucks, including this 10-footer, a steal at its current, buy-me-and-pimp-me-up bid price of $2,150:

Imagine the faces of all those Hummer H2 wussies when you roll up in one of these babies.

An asphault roller for only $175 (a great toy idea for the construction-minded kid in your life -- forget this "Bob the Builder" plastic crap):

Good for driveways and car-crushing (Mini Coopers only)

And a bunch of other stuff.

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Pizza Dough-Encrusted Nerve Center and National Farker Radio

Saw this on DCRTV today:
WTOP Sells "Nerve Center" Name To Ledo - 5/7 - Ledo Pizza has just purchased the "naming rights" to all-news WTOP's "Glass Enclosed Nerve Center." That's according to Ledo Marketing Director Will Robinson. Check out the audio clip supplied by Ledo: ledo.mp3....
If there's something more annoying than hearing "from the glass-enclosed nerve center" every 10 minutes on the 8s, it would have to be that.

While I'm on the subject of local radio:

* Unzipped on 106.7 (their sex talk show from 7-10pm) -- I dunno, I kind of like it. Then again, I don't listen to more of a few minutes of it as I'm driving home.

* Bill Redlin -- The guy may be Brent Musberger for all I know (heck, he could be Bo Jackson), but listening to him read the morning sports briefs, I don't get the sense that he's quite comfortable with it, which starts to make me feel uncomfortable

* Fark on NPR -- Back in March was a Fark Party at RFD. I never did get around to blogging about it. Drew Curtis was there. I met him:

Nice guy.

There was also a really big tab, of which I think I put in more than my fair share. But that's okay.

I'd forgotten there was an NPR reporter there (I'd arrived late and didn't talk to him). But there was. And they did a story about it. So there.

My 2 Primary Accomplishments Last Week

I actually did a bunch of stuff last week, but the two things I will mention are:

1. I got my name mentioned in Gene Weingarten's 5/2 Chat Update for a correction I'd sent in.

2. During our kickball game on Thursday, as I was playing first base, I ran over and caught a line drive that was shooting towards the gap, then helped convert the double play by throwing to third to catch the runner (who hadn't tagged up), which ended the inning and got us out of a sticky bases-loaded situation.

You'll have to take my word for it.

I also made this animated gif from the bar:

Natalie decks Paul, animatedly.
Natalie decks Paul in animated fashion.

See my full set from the fields and Carpool afterwards, which includes:

* Ben and Julia singlehandedly setting back race relations a few decades:


* Tongue kissing:


* And karate fighting:


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Second Donut Was a Mistake. The First Donut Was Also a Mistake

I think that's all that needs to be said about my breakfast yesterday.

I Am Now a Bluedouche

I got my Jabra BT350 Bluetooth headset yesterday. Which means it's only a matter of time before I start leaving it on all the time, wearing my sunglasses indoors -- in other words, becoming a complete Bluetooth douchebag:

Joelogon joins the ranks of the Bluetooth douchebags

I was thinking that there's got to be a portmanteau that mashes up "bluetooth" and "douchebag." And I was right -- the only combination that really scans well is "Bluedouche."

It seems to fit.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Wired: Good With Gadgets, Less Good With Genders

On Sunday, Wired's Cult of Mac blog had an entry featuring a photo which is alleged to be the first public photo taken with an iPhone. However, there was a problem:

Wired Cult of Mac blog entry about the first iPhone photo
"Yes, this image of a woman in a hoodie eating a piece of toast might well be the first image ever uploaded to the Internet from an iPhone. Remember this moment -- I'm sure your grandkids will ask you about where you were when you saw the first iPhone picture."

Now, perhaps I am overly sensitive to these sorts of things due to previous gender misidentifications, but the extensive stubble is indicative of either extensive hormone treatments or a Y chromosome.