Thursday, December 30, 2010

The All-Inclusive Apocalypse

During the Great Famine, we learned that a Burger King ketchup packet has 10 calories. It's enough to keep an 180 pound man alive for about 60 seconds. Of course, by then, there weren't very many 180 pound men.

A Taco Bell hot sauce packet only has 2 calories.

Some people believed that the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012 presaged the apocalypse.

We now can call those people out for what they were: Wildly, irredeemably, laughably optimistic.

As we huddle down below in our underground warrens, eking out our meager existence under the iron rule of unseen yet all-seeing authoritarian rulers, hiding from the radiation-soaked landscape that, paradoxically, is the only thing keeping us alive by holding the nanobiotic death clouds at bay, we can only wonder: How did all this happen?

When the al Qaeda suicide bomber detonated his radiological dirty bomb, we had no idea that the resulting chaos would guarantee that a 12.5-meter-wide meteor would slip silently past our laughably meager Spacewatch efforts and explode over Europe. The resulting electromagnetic pulse disrupted the safeguards of the Large Hadron Collider at a critical juncture, causing the creation of micro black hole, which lasted long enough before dissipating to pass through the earth's core, emerging in a remote island, notable only to those cleared to know about the secure bioweapons research and storage facility it housed.

The resulting explosion ejected an unholy and unknown melange of fearsome, genetically-engineered biological agents into the atmosphere. The ensuing plagues caused interlocking waves of pandemics, creating an omnidemic that devastated the global population.

Desperate to stave off extinction, researchers unleashed a nanobiotic countermeasure, whose networked, emergent intelligence first targeted the bioagent, then its vectors, then in cold machine logic, potential hosts.

In a perverse utilization of resources, the nanobiotic agent first converted human carriers into what can only be called zombies. Within days, though, the infection and exsanguination method of the now-cybernetic killers quickly evolved from clawing, tearing and biting, to a far more efficient method of host elimination, where moments after the first lungful of nanomachines would explode the victim into a wet, melted mess of red gore and grey goo.

In perhaps the only bit of luck humanity experienced (if one can call thermonuclear annihiliation "luck"), a few warring countries unleashed their arsenals in a vain, spiteful settling of final scores, leading to the discovery that the high levels of radiation were the only thing to give the nanobiotics pause.

The ensuing retreat to subterranean shelters under the cover of nuclear self-immolation was enough to keep humanity angstroms from the abyss. Though even if the nanobiotics can be beaten, the surface world remains a toxic, radioactive wasteland of under the cold, dim light of nuclear winter.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Stupid Tax holds steady at 20 percent

I needed to buy glue sticks for my hot glue gun because I'm either out or they're hiding from me. (Yes, I own a hot glue gun. No, it's not a Bedazzler; those are completely different.)

The reason for this is that over the Christmas holiday, my mom decided to wash my sneakers. (Yes, my mom still washes my sneakers. You try stopping her.) After the wash, the rubber soles separated completely from the foam.

Since they were still intact, I decided to try to salvage them, just use them for workout shoes. After considering my selection of adhesives and glues, I decided to try hot glue.

I went to the craft store (Michael's), and grabbed some glue sticks before going to the gym, which is in the same complex. When I got home, I realized that I bought the wrong diameter glue sticks. (Tip: Glue sticks come in different sizes.)

Of course, I'd thrown out the receipt, so when I went to exchange them, I was hit with a 20% restocking fee (or whatever -- it's stupid tax), which worked out to about 60 cents.

Anyway, the kicker is that subsequent research suggests that hot glue probably isn't the best choice for the task.

Anyone need anything hot-glued?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I'm Very Vulnerable Right Now

1. I was going to go to the gym tonight, but I got out of work really late. (By the way, if you're a cleared company with experience in satcom hardware and want to team on the $19.5 billion Army CTS procurement, you should probably go to this event on Tuesday.)

It was probably for the best, because... well, let's trace this back:
  1. Credit card gets compromised somehow
  2. Cancel credit card
  3. Get new credit card
  4. Change recurring accounts to new credit card
  5. Forget to update gym membership billing
2. On top of that, I was thrilled to find out that I had a Gawker commenting account that was affected by the data breach. (I checked the whole hash thing, but there's only one domain on the list.) I had completely forgotten I'd had one set up, probably from trying to post a Gawker or Valleywag comment that never got approved years ago. The password on that account was only moderately strong, but at least it wasn't a dictionary word, unlike certain feds we'll find out about soon.

3. And over the past few weeks, some idiot spammer has been forging a return address header from for their stupid diploma mill emails, which has been really irritating. The number has a 301 area code -- I'm considering calling it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

3 Irritating Things About Raffi Khatchadourian's Interview About His "Inside WikiLeaks" Piece

I was listening to an NPR Morning Edition interview with the author of an upcoming New Yorker story, Inside WikiLeaks.

Maybe I'm just extra-cranky because I had to get up early to head over to Bethesda for an event (though the drive in was trouble-free), but three things really bugged me about interviewee Raffi Khatchadourian

  1. He refers to the time he spent with WikiLeaks as an "embed."
  2. He kept referring to the Wikileaks principal figures by their first names: "Julian." "Kristinn."
  3. When thanked at the end of the report by host Steve Inkseep, instead of responding "You're welcome" or "Thank you," he said: "No problem." Dude, are you a reporter, or a Generation Y waiter?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Parts of New Jersey Really Do Look Like "New Jersey"

View driving back after Thanksgiving, past the Bayway Refinery off 278 and exit 13 of the NJ Turnpike:



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Maybe Now Wasn't the Best Time to Open an Iranian Deli

I noticed this about a week or two ago, but the store next to Carpool Herndon -- the place where the Dunkin' Donuts used to be -- appears to be out of business:


I hadn't ever been inside; it was called the HI-N-BUY Tehran Mart, and it lasted for almost precisely a year.

As to why it went under? I have no specific knowledge, but would suggest three contributing factors:
  1. Economic downturn. (Damn this sluggish so-called recovery!)
  2. Anti-Iranian sentiment running at highest levels since the hostage crisis due to concerns over nuclear weapons program.
  3. Location -- it is, after all located in the Dunkin' Donuts Death spot.
I await the replacement tenant. Perhaps a "Pyongyang Mart."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Just About All the New Jersey I Can Handle

This Thanksgiving, I've pretty much done nothing except eat, sleep, take up space in my parents' house and produce copious amounts of mucus. It's basically like college break all over again.

Against my better judgment, though, Friday night, I did join my sister for an impromptu ALJ Class of '90 get-together at one of the fun-ish bar/restaurants that decided to pop up here in town, long after we left.

The parking lot was full, so I had to park at the Rite-Aid next door. Not a huge hassle, but it was a warning that the place was going to be pretty packed. And it was.

After paying the $10 cover, we also discovered that the crowd was pretty... old.

I mean, we were there to see the Class of '90, and we were surrounded by the Class of '72 (or thereabouts).

That did not stop the place and patrons from smelling like an Axe factory explosion, or looking and sounding disturbingly like a scene from Jersey Shore (note that most of dem douchebags aree from NY).

The fact that I'd just seen the Jersey Shore-themed South Park episode probably didn't help, but then again, neither did the Bruce Springsteen cover band at the tent outside, nor the selection of Jersey-themed hits and club anthems from the DJ inside. Or the disturbing amount of leopard-print.

Anyway, we did eventually catch up with my sister's Class of '90 cohorts and we hung out for a while. Afterwards, as we were leaving, we had the option to cross Central Avenue for the other Clark hotspot that didn't exist when we were around, and perhaps find a greater chance of running into other, younger high school alums, but I'd had enough New Jersey for a while, and we decided to call it a night.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Yet Another Thrilling I-95 Thanksgiving Travelogue

I've been in bed most of the day, laid up with laziness and mild cold, so while I'm being singularly unambitious, thought I'd catch up.


After hearing about the horrorshow of the Delaware Toll Plaza on Wednesday night (a state whose sole purpose is extracting tolls from drivers on their 10-mile stretch of I-95 actually stopped collecting the toll because it was so jammed up), I decided to spend Wednesday night drinking at Carpool and then playing Left4Dead until I passed out.

I woke up on Thanksgiving morning with not just a hangover, but a sore throat that was the harbinger of that annoying cold. So I got a late start, not getting out the door until about 10:30am.

It was pretty smooth sailing straight around the Beltway and up past Baltimore. I still have no way to play my iPod through the stereo, so I brought a pile of CDs, occasionally scanning local radio to see who started playing Christmas music already.

Things started slowing down about 30 miles from the Maryland/Delaware border; I started getting antsy, and not wanting to put up with I-95 through Delaware, got off and took Route 40.

It's tempting to try to romanticize driving through small towns on smaller roads, but in reality, the stores and fast food joints in the shopping centers are all the same everywhere, and the places you haven't heard of are just regional franchises you don't know.

The only mom & pop stores left are the adult bookstores.

And there are traffic lights. I don't think seeing the occasional "Where's the Birth Certificate" billboard makes up for that.

I stayed on Route 40 the whole way. There were some slow spots, mostly due to traffic lights, but it moved the whole time. Getting back onto I-295 at the Delaware Memorial Bridge, though, I saw that there wasn't very much traffic, so I'm thinking my fears were overblown.

I got on the Turnpike, and saw the warnings of slowdowns at Exits 6 and 8, so I got back onto 295, then onto a really slow route 1/9, going through Princeton, New Brunswick, and the like, passing the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, the notional Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and of course, the ever-present on public radio Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Anyway, it took about four-and-a-half hours, all told, not too bad. And there was this on the other end of it:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oops, We Did It Again

We won another kickball trophy. Apparently, it comes with some sort of championship:


We had a game on Wednesday, and playoffs were Thursday.

It gets cold after the sun goes down:


The team we played in the semis was the same team we played the night before, Saved by the Ball -- we barely edged them out then (they were understrength, but they players who showed up were good, which evens things out). and in the semis, we had to come from behind to win it in the sixth.

I'm not sure how we did it (outside of the big, booming foot of Jeff which scored the winning run).

One of the women on the other team was apparently kind of... bitter about the game -- during the handshake, she likened our team to a special portion of the female anatomy. (It was kind of a monologue.) And not in the empowering, sex-positive, third-wave feminism kind of way.

Her parting shot was "Have fun playing another team that takes walks." We did take a walk or two (myself included), but it was pretty funny hearing that from a team that was bunting (FXA-style) like crazy.

In the finals, we played Suck My Kick. We were behind as well, but tied it up, forcing us into harrowing overtime rules in the 6th. (Basically, one pitch per batter, each one resulting in a hit, walk, or out.)

Jason slides under the throw.

Again, somehow we won.

I was pretty satisfied with my defensive performance on the night, including a few stretch-catches on first, and even deflecting two wide throws into the runner.

It's silly to take adult kickball too seriously (which is one of the reasons we switched leagues), and winning in what's essentially the less-competitive league is like lettering in JV, but I do enjoy beating teams when they're being pricks (which may or may not include anyone we played this season.)


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buying Cheap, Buying Twice

I broke another Macbook power adapter (old-style); the original one broke at the base, where the skinny cord meets the brick. I was especially careful to wrap the cord properly to keep this from happening again, so naturally, this one broke at the tip:

The newer adapters supposedly aren't as susceptible to this problem.

The dumb thing is that, because I didn't want to pay $80 for a new OEM power adapter, I bought a this as a used replacement off of eBay.

It worked okay until about 2 months ago, when I had to start jiggling the Magsafe connector to get it to charge. Then, about 10 days ago, it broke apart completely -- the Magsafe connector stayed in the port, and the rest of the cord broke off.

The dumber thing is that it still worked, mostly. And for about a week, I used it like this, just being careful to push it together to make the connection.

After a while, the blobs of solder connecting 120V of household AC broke off, so the jiggle trick didn't work any more. At least, not without the end of the connector getting noticeably hot, and even a little... shock-y.

Fortunately, I'd ordered a replacement. And that's the dumbest thing -- I bought another used (refurb) one off eBay.

We'll see how long this one lasts. If it goes, I suppose it'll mean it's time to upgrade to a new Macbook.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've Drifted to the Left Over the Years

[A post of no consequence to get me out of my slump.]

A month or so ago, I had a stretch where I'd be driving, maybe getting passed on my left or on the inner lane of a dual left turn lane, and I'd get honked at.

I'd be all like, "What the hell are you honking at... beeyotch?!" (Do people still say "beeyotch"?)

After it happened the second time in a few days, I finally turned my side view mirror down to see the road markers, and... yep, I was riding the line.

I think it dates back when I learned to drive in my parents Camry sedan (it was an '88; I took it down with me when I moved down, and it lasted until 2002, when the starter ring gear finally went.) I learned to maintain lane position by positioning the spot on the hood just in front of the A-pillar on the lane marker.

This worked fine, until I switched to the Mazda, which has a more tapered hood; indexing on the same spot on the hood doesn't work as well. So I think that's why I've slid over to the left.

Anyway, as bad as that is, it wasn't nearly as bad as coming into work from Tysons this morning, taking the offramp from 28 South onto Frying Pan Road, and seeing a car on the side of the offramp, facing the wrong way. 

I can't figure out how, but apparently, this person had managed to drive the wrong way up the offramp, saw incoming traffic, stopped, and was kind of stuck, since a steady stream of traffic kept him (or her) from making a U-turn.

Last I saw (thankfully, in my rear view mirror), the driver was trying to back up to a spot where he (or she) could turn around.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Doing a Drive-By on the Rally for Sanity

I didn't attend the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear on Saturday. The dumb thing is that I drove into DC, circled aimlessly looking for parking up all around the Mall, Independence, and Capitol Hill, got jammed up by street closures a few times, then gave up and left.

I'd gotten a late start on the day (hangover), and I heard that the Metro stations were jammed, so I decided to drive in:

Test sign over I-66.

I was going to park at Rosslyn and walk over the bridge, but I couldn't find a spot with more than a 2-hour meter, so I kept going.

Next, I tried to be clever and park at Arlington Cemetery, but the lot closes at 6pm, which was no good. So I headed into DC, and after all that fruitless searching, went home.

Well, I didn't actually go home: First, I stopped by the US Air Force Memorial, which I've never seen in the daytime:


In the middle of all the standard shooting-looking-up-the-spires shots that everyone takes, a helicopter flew by:

Oh, look, a shot looking up a spire. The monument is very metallic (depending how much Photoshop you use):


Then, I headed over to Gravelly Point, to watch the planes land.


There was also a rugby game, which gave people something to watch in between planes (including one that had to abort the landing and go around for another pass):




Anyway, that was Saturday afternoon.

The rest of the photos can be found here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Overthinking Halloween in a Time of War

Last week, I beta-tested the Halloween costume I'd alluded to earlier -- it's a police uniform:

I'm in the middle.

With the tan and brown color scheme, it's more of a sheriff-style uniform. It's actually pretty close to the Sheriff Grimes outfit on the upcoming zombie series, The Walking Dead, though his is short sleeved and the pants have a tan stripe up the side.

My habit of buying stuff from police supply catalogs started before the Internet made it easy -- I started with a Streamlight hazardous-environment-rated flashlight and some other stuff from the Gall's catalog back in the mid-'90s, when you actually had to seek them out.

Now police and public safety supply catalogs are just another source for bargain sites and Google shopping searches. Which does make it easy to find uniform shirts on clearance for 10 bucks (or less). That's why I had the uniform shirt. And handcuffs (real ones) and a holster (also real).

Add some pouches and some brown pants, and a trip to Ranger Surplus for some patches and pins and a cap gun, and I was pretty much set. (Though I just did get a Sheriff's badge on eBay, and am waiting on a few patches. I actually found some Fairfax and Loudoun County patches on eBay, though I stayed away -- I'd rather stay on the Halloween costume side of things, vs the "impersonating a police officer" side.)

I could be a soldier for Halloween... but won't
I've also got a bunch of pieces of militaria, bits of tactical gear and camouflage that I've gathered over the years, from which I could probably cobble together a passable soldier costume, but the idea of an adult dressing up as a soldier during a time of war makes me distinctly uncomfortable. (Unless it's "sexy soldier." That's okay.)

Even though I never really outgrew my military fanboy phase (I never served), in a time when fewer than 1 percent of Americans are in the military, with an ever-wider civil-military gap even as we're fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it feels wrong to me seeing a civilian play dress-up for Halloween. Or cosplay. Or airsoft. For adults, anyway.

(Then again, I did wear a flight suit and bomber jacket for Halloween a few years back. But I think "Top Gun fighter jock" is a little different, since that was never on the table, anyway... poor vision, very average reflexes.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There's a Perfectly Good Explanation Why I Bought Boys' Footie Pajamas

Stopped by Target on the way home to buy gum. (I was all out of gum. I needed gum.)

Here in this photo, there is eight dollars worth of gum, next to eight dollars worth of Belle and Sebastian Write About Love:


They were both on sale, and they're both pretty pink.

On impulse, I also bought a set of boys' size large footie pajamas. They were on sale for ten bucks, and I thought I might be able to use them for a Halloween costume.

That's not going to happen:

I am simultaneously disappointed and relieved that I can't wear boys' size large footie pajamas. (I had thought that with the fattening of America's youth, I might have a chance, but I couldn't even zip up the leg. And why does the zipper go down one leg, anyway?)

Now comes the hard part:

I have to return them.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

My Life in Four Quarters


* 1996: The year I left New York and moved to Virginia.

* 1993: The year I graduated college.

* 1989: The year I graduated high school.
* 1972: The year I was born. Or so they tell me.


It's not like these are special coins that I saved specifically at each moment in time. I just found one of the years in my pocket, then went digging through my change to find the others.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Hate the Eternal September

(I've been working on this post, on and off, for at least 5 years. I'm fairly certain that it hasn't been worth the wait. But I'm kind of drunk right now, and I'm also facing some self-imposed time pressure to post this before yet another September passes.)

I hate the Eternal September. It's basically the theory that USENET, and by extension, the Internet, was going to be a sort of utopian playground populated by self-actualized, empowered DIY-coder-types who would harness the power of democratized technology to build the Internet apps to control their own destiny and lead to a pre-Technological Singularity singularity where geeks ruled the world in a pure, technological, many-to-many, disintermediated meritocracy etc. etc. etc... that is, before AOL wrecked it all by unleashing the unwashed masses onto USENET, ruining everything.

(It's a mindset that I ascribe, perhaps somewhat unfairly, perhaps not, to Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital.)

Now, of course, being a self-admitted former AOL employee, one might chalk this up to pure defensiveness, even though the precipitating action predated my employment there by a few months.

However, if you've talked to me before about social media, you've probably heard my rant against that kind of revisionist technological utopianism:
There is, in fact, a communications medium that allows only particpation by the technically savvy. There are significant barriers to entry, and in fact, you have to pass an entire certification and licensing regime, and if you don't conform to norms and rules, you're out.
That medium is ham radio. And (apologies to my friends who are hams) outside of certain natural disasters and talking to spacecraft in Earth orbit, it is a medium that is essentially irrelevant to the cultural conversation.
My hypothesis is that, without the truly democratizing influence of the unsavvy, unwashed masses flooding the Internet for their celebrity gossip and movie quotes and chain e-mails and so forth, the Internet wouldn't have been nearly as influential and universal as it is now.

Now, by nature, I'm kind of an elitist, but at the same time, I think I recognize the limits of elitism and the power of populism. And I think the influence of the Internet is reflected in both of those concepts.

Anyway, that's just, like, my opinion.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Things I Did Not Do This Saturday (and Why)

There were many, many interesting things going on Saturday, and I did not do any of them.

This was partially due to a work situation that popped up Friday afternoon (as they are wont to due), though I probably could have taken care of it late Friday or early Saturday... save for the extended after-work happy hour.

However, I did not end up making any clumsy drunken passes on any of my cow-orkers, so I guess I'll mark that as a win.

Here are the things I did not do:

* Global CrisisCamp Day in DC (Poor planning; not knowing when to say when)

* National Book Festival (Never been before; why start now?)

* Dulles Plane Pull (Sloth, ennui. Malaise.)

* Virgin Mobile FreeFest (Wasn't planning on going this year, anyway.)

Bonus No-Show: Fol Chen at the Black Cat last Wednesday (Uncharacteristic good judgment that actually turns out to be poor judgment.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Are Blogger Meetups Still Relevant? (Fairfax County Bloggers Meetup Review)

Here's a quick post about last night's Fairfax County Blogger Meetup.

Since I started working over by Dulles (again) last year, I haven't been out to very many events, and not many DC Blogger Meetups, primarily because heading all the way into town is a pain.

I'd RSVP'ed for this month's Fairfax County Blogger Meetup; I was kind of obligated to at least show up, since they were looking for a place in Falls Church and I'd suggested Clare and Don's Beach Shack

I got there about 8:15pm (it started at 7pm), just as things were winding down, though folks did stick around a bit to chat -- the featured guest speaker was Jeff Sonderman of blog network/news site TBD, so we talked about the state of local news, blog networks, and the area. He also had TBD swag.

Additionally, attending were:

* Jill Anderson of the Lake Barcroft Blog -- she organized the event, though she's handing over group leadership duties to...

* Ellie Ashford of the Annandale VA Blog (and also a TBD blogger)

* Micheal Clark of

* Doug Francis, a Vienna Real Estate blogger

The nature of blogger meetups has changed, and to a large extent, waned. People generally don't need the same kind of support and encouragement to blog, since the tools and the norms have changed so much. Also, Facebook has largely taken over the social status broadcasting aspect of blogging, as have mobile updates and microblogging.

Still, the networking aspect still has a role, especially for single-issue/themed bloggers, so I think that blogger meetups can still be useful to people.

I very much liked the guest speaker aspect of this meetup, to provide a bit of focus and direction while still maintaining the social aspect (without a rigid agenda) -- hopefully, this continue (next month's scheduled Guest Speaker is Ellen Scott, Community Web Producer for WUSA9.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dumb Drive

Driving home last Saturday, I saw the following things on I-95:

* A "9/11 was an inside job" Truther banner hanging from an overpass near Baltimore. It made me annoyed.

* Further along in Maryland, a flight of about 6 twin-engine military cargo planes (probably C-130s) flying low and heading south, I guess for a flyover or something.

* The world's worst turn signal user (with Maryland tags, go figure). His turn signals were on continuously the entire time... he'd be in the left lane with his left blinker going and cut to the right. I don't think he realized that turn signals don't automatically cancel if you make a minor lane change. Throw in the random brake-checks and trying to deal with a NJ State Trooper that was basically pacing us and it was particularly fascinating -- I followed him (from a safe distance) for a good chunk of the southern New Jersey Turnpike.

All of these (except the Truther banner) made me wish I'd had my camera with me, instead of in the back.

Anyway, that was about it on the way down. While I was up in New Jersey, we went to get chain Tex-Mex for my Dad's birthday, and coming back, out in the distance, we saw the 9/11 tribute "Towers of Light" illuminating the clouds.

We had dim sum on Sunday.

The way home was fairly uneventful, though I almost got lost dodging a backup at the Delaware tolls -- fortunately, I had the GPS, and was familiar enough with the area to figure out where I was going.

I did hit a backup on the Beltway (some sort of accident on 270), but that did give me a chance to take a quick snap of the Mormon Temple during sunset:


I'm the Guy Who Still Buys CDs

I still buy CDs. Though usually used (and even then, not in a while). I like having the media, even if it comes in a jewel case that takes up too much room and breaks far too easily. And I like the sense of owning something tangible. I'm a product of my upbringing, where the media and the music were inextricably linked.

Anyway, I saw in the Sunday circular that Best Buy was loss-leading this week with Florence and the Machine's Lungs -- I'd had her on my watch list since hearing an NPR feature on her a few months ago, though since then, she's been pretty unavoidable (they keep using the songs in TV show promos).

I was surprised to see that Underworld had a new album out that was also being promoted -- surprised because I thought they'd broken up (they hadn't: I was thinking of Orbital, though they're back together, so I was doubly wrong.)

Anyway, it explains why they're playing the 9:30 Club next month.

So I got both albums.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 So Far in Greenlit Fark Headlines

I haven't been blogging much lately, due to a combination of writers' block, self-doubt, and microblogging. What I have been doing is channeling my creativity (such as it is) into Fark headlines, which are mostly anonymous.

(This can be a good thing, especially when you rely on tropes like corny jokes, bad puns, casual misogyny and stereotypes -- applied ironically, of course. Headline submitters are anonymous, unless they out themselves in the comments, or opt to have their submissions listed on their profiles. I have my greenlit headlines listed, but not my redlights.)

Right now, I'm at 592 greenlit headlines, which puts me at about #89 on the current all-time Fark top submitters list, or firmly on the small end of the short head of the long tail of Fark submitters.

I'll try to talk more about using Fark as an example of headline writing and creating a culture of uncompensated contribution, but for right now, here are some of my more favorite headlines from 2010 to date, in roughly reverse chronological order -- each link below goes to the Fark comment thread, which contains a link to the relevant article. (You can also see all of my greenlights on my Fark profile, including the many lackluster ones that just happened to be submitted at the right time.)

See cells in the Seychelles for the sea scores [This one takes the classic tongue-twister and reworks it for the article. It kind of makes sense in context.]

Video of female service member servicing five service members' members circulating Fort Bliss [There's a better example of this kind of repetition wordplay later. Also, though the wording suggests it, since the article link was to the NYT, you don't actually see the video.]

It's 130 miles to Cowtown, we got a 160-pound barrel, a half-baked agenda on bullying, it's July and we're wearing full rodeo clown makeup. Hit it [An obvious Blues Brothers reference, but it has enough oddness to make you want to click.]

Pentagon surveys the troops: "How icky would it be showering with a gay? a) Squicky. b) Very icky. c) Icky. d) Mostly not icky" [I liked the Squicky/Icky construction.]

Hollister store in NYC infested with annoying, tenacious parasites. Bedbugs, too [Pretty standard classic comedy construction here.]

Muslims are disappointed by Obama. See, they really are just like everyone else [Article rode the wave of a series of liberal breast-beating articles from various places on Obama disillusionment.]

Anti-Semitic: Flipping off a bus full of Hasidic Jews on the Garden State Parkway. Anti-gravity Semitic: Bus full of Hasidic Jews flipping off the Garden State Parkway [I particularly liked this wordplay, which was simply reconstructing the sentence with the same constituent words.]

New Senate bill would require terrorists to present fake ID before buying prepaid cellphones [Somewhat subtle, at least compared to the rest of these.]

Plans underway to nuke New Jersey [Technically true -- not the worst trolling headline you'll see here.]

Al Qaeda has acquired a potentially devastating technology: Autotune [Set up as a serious headline, ending with the punchline.]

Person #1: Isn't it amazing how I can use my cell phone to get coverage about things that just happened in this murder trial? Person #2: You mean the one we're serving as jurors on? [I admit it has kind of a Readers Digest "Life in These United States" feel to it, but it was still funny.]

NJ man arrested for having a minor, amount of cocaine in his car [Some grammar humor of the "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" variety, which in terms of Fark greenlight potential, is only slightly behind Periodic Table puns.]

Design student reinvents the Cone of Silence, which looks amazingly awesome. Would you believe marginally effective? How about irredeemably stupid? [A very direct pull from Get Smart, which fit the subject matter.]

Under certain conditions, it's acceptable for passive voice to be used [More grammar humor. Distressing to see the number of self-professed Grammar Nazis in the thread who failed miserably trying to use the passive voice.]

Roundup-resistant weeds may require more frequent plowing, according to your mom [Every kind of headline is enhanced by a "Your mom" joke.]

Man getting testicular cyst removed accidentally gets the volume discount [Going for a subtle cringe-inducement factor.]

An iPhone. An air conditioner. Dirty underpants. A sock-wearing mannequin. Thousands of cigarette butts. A pregnancy test. Denture cement. Fake breasts. An 8-track tape. A jockstrap [The rhythm of the words is hypnotic, not to mention intriguing.]

Thank you for calling the Federal Nuclear Detonation Response Hotline. Your call is very important to us. Current wait time for the next operator: 24-72 hours. ♫ Tall and tan and dark and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes walking ♫ [Kind of a meta thing, as action movies have co-opted the Girl Form Ipanema for moments of incongruous calm.]

Photo surfaces of President Obama refusing to shake the hand of a disabled janitor [A trolltastic headline that only works when you click through to the photo:


Eiffel Tower attacked, suffering significant structural damage. Story developing [Another trollerific headline -- discerning readers noted the lack of a "NEWSFLASH" tag which this kind of breaking news, if true, would suggest, as well as the news source. The joke is in the photo:


Old Bridge old bridge repair repairs fragment fragments, state State Police police speaker, speaking [Probably my best this year -- it sounds like nonsense, but when you parse it out, it makes sense (except for one or two really redundant bits). As I posted in the thread: "Old Bridge [town] old bridge repair [overall project] repairs [the specific action -- this was the most redundant bit] fragment [breaks] fragments [off the bridge], state[s] State Police police speaker, speaking [also redundant, but necessary for the gag]."]

Acupuncture may be useful in treating joint destruction, multi-organ failure, flesh-eating disease, and paralysis. And by "treating" I mean "causing" [Pretty common switcheroo headline.]

Good neighbor: Operates noisy equipment indoors, with the windows closed. Dead neighbor: It's a portable generator [Variant of the comparison headline, a la Goofus and Gallant.]

Whoever said, "There's no harm in asking," clearly never submitted a request under the Indian government's Right to Information Act

Armed robbers in $1 million perfume warehouse heist who shouted "NYPD, hands up" may be criminals, but at least they're not liars

Government sources confirm second party involved in JFK incident [Another trolling headline, technically true but incredibly misleading.]

"You have the right to, like, not say anything. You have the right to an attorney, unfrozen caveman lawyer or other law-talking guy. If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me in a court of law?" [Rather long headline on the ruling allowing cops to paraphrase the Miranda warning, take to absurdity.]

American military gets its thumb drives back. U-S-B, U-S-B, U-S-B [Another favorite, subverting acronyms and jingoism.]

Pros and cons of a robot army -- Pros: It's a ROBOT ARMY. Cons: It's a ROBOT ARMY [I invariably read this one and hear Norm MacDonald.]

Open workplace romances are increasingly common. You still eat lunch alone at your desk [I actually said "Ouch" to myself as I wrote this.]

Lackawanna Cut-Off cut off for Lackawanna [Another repetition wordplay.]

New York's Central Park sees sharp increase in rabid, aggressive, foaming inhabitants. Raccoons, too [See the Hollister headline above.]

Company has plan to solve energy crisis using orbiting laser satellites. Not sure why they need an underground volcano headquarters, though

Henceforth, NPR will be known as NPR

High school baseball coach encourages players to masturbate instead of having sex, and to ignore that little red LED over there [Icky, but funny.]

Mumbai condom vending machines hit by burglars and vandals. Inconceivable

Isn't trying to analyze comedy fun?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tonight, on American Top 40 - The 80s: Cultural Irrelevance

1980 is as far removed from (and as irrelevant to) 2010, as 1950 was to 1980.
We knew this, of course, but the math was particularly obvious as I was listening to the American Top 40 - The '80s rebroadcast from July, 17 1980 tonight on 92.5 WINC-FM.

(We also knew at some level that not all music from the '80s was memorable, but listening to the bottom of the list revealed utterly forgettable turkeys.)

On the one hand, I can empathize with the youngsters of today, having to hear their elders droning on about, say, Culture Club, or early U2, just as we had to put up with folks waxing rhapsodic about Perry Como or Elvis.

At the same time, after you've seen things before, you can't help but see the influences of previous generations, where to the folks who haven't, the influences are so integrated into the landscape that they're transparent.

John Scalzi recently mentioned this in the context of movie remakes; this week's Studio 360 took on '70s disco.

Since storytelling has always drawn from the same archetypal themes that go all the way back to the beginning of shared stories, I find the thematic repetition in music particularly irritating, (and haircuts -- particularly the recurring shag/bowl/Bieber haircut that I'll always place in the 70s, even though it tries to resurface every 20 years or so).

Obvious as it may be, everyone wants to make their own mistakes and put their own stamp on things, so Lady Ga-Ga will continue to be Madonna, and pop/dance music will continue to recycle disco and electroclash (with more AutoTune, which we used to call vocoder)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Joelogon Tattaglia Joins the Mafia Wars Witness Protection Program

Last summer, I started playing Mafia Wars on Facebook. It was mostly in the nature of research -- finding out what the fuss was about, looking into Facebook social gaming, etc.

I wrote about it a few times on the NetSol blog, talking about how Mafia Wars gets people to do stuff, as well as how the Mafia Wars gameplay encourages interaction with members of your social network.

There's a lot you can talk about -- casual gaming, the brain chemistry of addiction and gambling, play-acting at transgressive behavior (or actual transgressive behavior, when it came to some developers and affiliate marketers), and most importantly, maintaining contacts via social grooming.

But it also got to be a chore. An essay by A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz in March, Cultivated Play: Farmville, was still fresh in my mind -- it's all about how one of the rewards of advancing in Farmville is that you don't have to play it as much, as well as touching on obligation and network effects.

So there I was, back in April or May, at whatever level I was at, having just unlocked the Thailand achievement where you achieve top status simultaneously with the Triad and the Yakuza, and then... what? Every additional locale added was just another link to click, revealing another set of arbitrary tasks and achievements.

It ceased having any pretense of fun. So I bailed. Instead of just going idle (which would leave my fairly middlin' to high-level character as a teammate of my friends' Mafias), I went into my own version of "Mafia Wars Witness Protection": I deleted the app, blocked all updates, and didn't look back.

RIP Joelogon Tattaglia

Ultimately, I lasted about a year. I'm not sure what factors, if any, might have kept me in the game -- I'll have to think about that (as will Zynga, no doubt.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dumb Things: Omnibus Edition

  • Find on my credit card statement that I managed to buy 2 tickets for myself for last month's DC Digital Capital Week kickoff party. (Remember: Stupid should cost.)
  • From last month's trip to the San Francisco area: Rented a car for 3 days for $45 (pre-tax)... then, while in a post-flight stupor, effectively doubled the price by agreeing to the Fuel Purchase Option.
  • Speaking of the San Francisco trip: Flew in Friday night, took the Sunday red-eye back and went straight into the office.
  • For July 4th weekend: Put a lot of time into slow-cooking a Brunswick Stew. Put in a little extra time into burning it.
  • Saturday afternoon: Saw an Escalade on Reston Parkway take a U-turn over the raised median so it could get back onto the Toll Road
  • Sunday: Watched Primer again. Even with supplemental materials, could not follow all the time travel bits.
  • Driving home in the rain tonight: Watching as my headlights caught a frog trying to play Frogger. It lost.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remember when Hamid Karzai was a good guy?

It's strange to think about now, but not that long ago, we ("we" being Joelogon, who knew only slightly more about Afghanistan than Joe Sixpack) used to think Hamid Karzai was a pretty swell guy.
When things really started going south in Afghanistan (after we refocused on Iraq -- funny how that works), I remember thinking, "Man, if something happens to this guy, we're really screwed."

Contrast that to now, where Karzai has practically reached "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" territory.

Of course, 9 years of floundering will hurt anyone's image, but I realized that my initial good perception of Karzai was based mostly on the fact that he spoke good English and looked sharp in a Western-style suit (albeit wearing a funny hat).

It reminded me, in my simple way, how the attributes that make foreign leaders popular with the US -- generally, Western-educated elites with a favorable view of the West -- are the same ones that make them distinctly unpopular with their own people.

Maybe there's something systemic you can blame on colonialism, which relied on exploiting ethnic and sectarian divisions to divide and conquer, favoring one minority group over another and giving rise to elites resented by the rest of the country.

Or, looked another way, the more leaders understand DC politics and are liked by DC politicians, the less they understand and are supported by the people back home (*cough* CHALIBI *cough*).

Anyway, it's been a long time since my international relations courses (and I was a generalist, anyway), but it just seems that we need a rule of thumb: The more we, as Americans, "like" a leader, the less stock we should put in him or her (until they can prove that they can relate to their own people and get stuff done.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

If there are no pictures, it didn't happen

Since I'm having a hard time keeping up with a regular blogging schedule, here are some recent Flickr sets summarizing stuff I've been doing recently:

* Visited the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California:

* Saw a bunch of military planes and sat in the cockpit of a Harrier jet at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, also in Santa Rosa, California:

* Attended a wedding in California, where I noted that many people were wearing variants of purple:


* Had an In-N-Out cheeseburger. It was okay. I was kind of let down:

All this (and more) was during one long weekend in the Bay Area. Had I planned better, I could have taken some more time and visited other people. Oh, and not taken the redeye back straight into the office Monday morning.

Locally, I also:

* Went to see Goldfrapp at the 9:30 Club (this was after taking the redeye back and working a full day, but before having to attend an early breakfast the next day):

* Participated in the Fairfax County CERT final exercise at the old Lorton Juvenile Detention Facility. We carried Boy Scouts. Also ticks:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Male Nerds at Digital Capital Week

You can see me for about a half-second in this Digital Capital Week Opening Night Party video from this past Friday (at the 1:10 mark):


The fact that the voiceover cuts over to me just as the phrase "male nerds" is spoken is purely coincidental, I'm sure.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Virginia's Hurricane Preparedness Tax Holiday and the Princeton Tec FUEL Headlamp

May 25-31 is Virginia's Hurricane Preparedness Tax Holiday, when you can buy a bunch of supplies that are useful for both emergencies and regular existence, all exempt from state sales tax.

The list of tax-exempt stuff includes duct tape, ice packs, batteries, first aid kits, emergency radios, tarps, coolers, generators, fire extinguishers, glow sticks, and of course, flashlights. (See the full list on the VA Tax site.)

Actually, looking at the list, you have both the fundamentals of a home disaster kit, as well as the fixings for a fairly swingin' beach party.

Now, I've been on something of a headlamp kick lately (which I will discuss in a later entry), and as luck would have it, Dicks's Sporting Goods has the Princeton Tec FUEL on sale for $19.98 until Friday, 5/28.


At the Dick's in the Dulles Town Center, they had the older 3-LED model, as well as the newer 4-LED model, both at that price. The 4-LED model is marginally brighter, with a slightly lower run time; either one should be fine (both take 3 AAA batteries, included.)

I haven't had a chance to play much with the FUEL yet, though in general, I'm a fan of Princeton Tec lights. The Dick's sale price is already better than most places I've seen online, and with sales tax out of the way, you get the instant gratification and the added savings over shipping and handling costs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hey Man, Nice Purse

The backlight on my Macbook died last week. After a few days hooking it up to various external monitors (did that get old quick), I took it to the Apple Store on Saturday. 

I figured that it was probably a loose inverter cable or something, and that I'd get it back by end of day. Wrong.

Right now, it's being sent off for a Flat Rate Out of Warranty repair. We'll see if I get it back. I should probably have put the money towards a new unibody MacBook, but I don't like being forced to upgrade.

The dumb thing (besides getting yelled at by a delivery truck driver in the Town Center -- FYI, dickhead, if 2 cars arrive at a 4-way-stop, who yields to whom? Yeah, the driver on the left yields to the driver on the right. Blow me) is that I'm still carrying my personal laptop bag around, without the laptop in it.

Yes, it has my laptop accessories, but it's also full of other stuff -- pens, markers, camera accessories, duct tape, first aid kit, headlamp, notebook, multitool, flashlights, etc. So it's basically a purse.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Intrigue & Treachery: Dumb Gym I Have Done Lately

After a lazy winter and various self-inflicted ailments and excuses, I'm mostly back on track at the gym.

For me, back on track theoretically means I'm switching between light, medium and heavy sets every 4-6 weeks (a fairly standard routine to prevent your body from adapting and plateauing), though truth be told, there's not really all that much difference in poundage between my "light" and "heavy" workouts.

Along with the shift in weights, you're also supposed to shift your eating, with the focus during light cycles (note: not a Tron reference) on cutting some of the fat weight you inevitably gain during the heavy, muscle-building phases.

Truth be told here, as well, there's not really all that much of a difference in my eating during light and heavy phases, and since your eating habits trump your workout habits, this lack of food discipline is probably why I don't make more progress in either my light or my heavy phases. (Although I do enjoy the "more eating" bit during heavy phases, it's not always the best quality, nor of the recommended 4-6 smaller meals spread throughout the day.)

I have been getting better about cardio, though. I still can't really run more than a mile straight without my knees hurting, but I've been focusing more on intervals, both 2-minute high/1-minute low on the treadmill and eliptical, and 20-second sprint/10-second recovery (Tabata intervals) on the jump rope (which never gives me any problem, since I'm landing on my toes -- it's the heel strike that kills me) or Versa climber (which keeps getting moved farther and farther to the back, since no one I've seen ever really uses them).

I like the compactness of interval workouts, though my "sprint" speed isn't all that speedy. I make up for that by being exceptionally slow during my recovery periods.

Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage
In a Fitness First Reston facility update, if you want to use the speed bag (I never have, though I occasionally take a whack at the heavy bag), you have to sign it out at the desk.

From the note posted on the wall, this was done because of repeated sabotage -- apparently, the noise from people working the speed bag annoyed some person or persons enough to take it into their own hands to take it out of commission. Odd.

Other than that, the rope machine (which is one of the odder pieces of equipment I've every seen) is still broken; there's a donations box for one of the trainers who was hit by a drunk driver; and I still think it's perverse to take the escalator up to the second floor so I never do it (even if it means occasionally running into someone in the stairwell.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Anemia Is No Excuse (Because I'm Not Anemic)

I had a physical last week. It had been a while since my last one, which was shortly before my COBRA ran out. (Yes, for a while I was uninsured. But I'm back, paying into the system, which is what you want from a young-ish, relatively healthy person.)

It's kind of perverse, but I'd been hoping that my bloodwork was going to show I was anemic. I had issues a long time ago (which is why I don't donate blood any more), and for a while now, I've been... sluggish. On and off. Tired. Unfocused. Having trouble getting things done.

If I was anemic, I'd have an excuse, not to mention a handy little solution in pill form.

As it turns out, I'm not anemic. So I have to look at other factors: Malaise. Age. Poor sleeping habits. Bad habits I picked up during my unplanned sabbatical. The latent environmental influence of the slacker generation. Guilty conscience. Something.

About the only other thing that I learned (other than my doctor really likes his iPhone, especially the Line2 VOIP app) is that my bloodwork shows I'm on the high end of normal for one thing, though I'll apparently be okay as long as I follow my doc's advice:

"Don't get fat."

Personally, I'm not convinced that it wasn't an artifact of the large meal I ate before I started my 12-hour fast -- we'll see.

Anyway, I've been trying to get back on a regular workout schedule, with some success (also, I haven't hurt my back again, which is something), as well as moving my sleep schedule back into something approaching East Coast standard (with less success).

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My watch (a Skagen) stopped working a few weeks ago.

I was in a mall when I noticed it, so I stopped by a watch kiosk. I figured the battery just needed to be changed.

The kiosk operator said it would take a half hour to get a new battery, which is an awful long time to change a battery.

Since the other nearby watch shop was busy with some buyers, and the kiosk operator was a pretty young thing, I just shopped around until it was ready.

No good, she said. The battery was fine-- the watch was broken.

Skagens have a limited lifetime warranty, so I sent it in. In the interim, I was without a watch; I know kids today use their cell phones for the time, but I just don't find that convenient.

Anyway, I just got my watch back today.

Of course, the service slip said: "Replaced dead battery."

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Things That Are Upcoming

First, let's see how I did with last month's Things That Are Upcoming:

* Shamrockfest: Yes. It was cold and wet. I still have to write about it.

* Transparency Camp: No. I just plain bagged on Saturday, and went to the Tidal Basin on Sunday.

* BMRC at the 9:30 Club: No. The show had sold out, plus it was on the night of the NCAA Men's Championship Final.

* Hot Lava at the Black Cat: No. I should have gone, though.

* Hirshhorn After Hours: Pending (tomorrow night). Got my ticket and everything.

Moving on...

* Saturday, April 10: 2010 MilBlog Conference [Sold out, LiveStream will be viewable here] -- I had been thinking about going; I last went in... 2007? Moot now.

* Tuesday, April 13, 5:30-10pm: A blogger Happy Hour. I thought it was all Leon, but it looks like it's not. He mentions an Adams Morgan parking secret (well, if you have to pay it's not really a secret), which I actually have passed during other fruitless searches for parking.

* FXA Kickball starts next week-ish.

* Saturday, April 17: PrivacyCampDC -- I've signed up.

* Wednesday, April 14: Fol Chen at the Rock and Roll Hotel. I almost definitely can't make it, as my Wednesdays are now booked for the next 2 months (will talk about it later).

* Sunday, April 18: Apples in Stereo at Rock and Roll Hotel. I should probably buy a ticket.

* Friday, April 23: Cowboy Junkies at The State Theatre. I bought my ticket. Haven't seen them up here in a few years.

* Saturday, May 1: The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race: Have I mentioned I haven't done up my video from last year? Why yes, I have.

* Wednesday, May 5: OK Go at the 9:30 Club. Those darn Wednesdays again. Maybe I can schedule around it -- be surprised if they don't sell out, they're pretty popular with the crazy videos and whatnot. (I remember seeing them open for The Donnas at the 9:30.)

* Friday, May 7: Herndon Friday Night Live kicks off the season.

* Saturday, May 15 (and Sunday, too): The Joint Service Open House and Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base. It's free, but it's kind of a hassle, with the buses and the security checkpoint and the hey laaaaaady.

* Thursday, May 20 is TEDxPotomac. I've been on the mailing list since the beginning, though I haven't done nothing. I should probably go.

* Friday, May 28, Jazz in the Garden starts

* Sunday, June 6 (D-Day), the Washington Post Hunt.

There, that oughta hold you little bastards.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Was Caught Showering in the Women's Locker Room of My Gym


"Attention Members! Locker Rooms are SWAPPED while the women's steam room is being rebuilt: Men use Women's; Women use Men's. Thanks!"

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Feeling the Hand of Fate this Final Four

Shockingly, I'm currently in first place in my office NCAA pool. All of our brackets got savaged pretty badly (special thanks to Kansas and Kentucky), so no one has more than two of the Final Four, and I'm the only person (out of 40+ in our pool) who picked Duke to win it all.

Basically, my fate in the pool hangs on Duke: If Duke wins, I win. Which is the way it should be. (I'm not 100%, but I think if Duke beats West Virginia, I win.)

Speaking of fate, I kept hearing that this year's Final Four was going to be played in Lucas Oil Stadium, but I didn't realize it was in Indianapolis until a few days ago. I have a connection to the Final Four and Indianapolis...

My sophomore year at Duke, the Final Four was also in Indianapolis, and a bunch of us drove there from Durham. (As I recall, we had to make it through a snowstorm. Don't remember much more about the trip.)

Looking to kill some time (possibly between the win over UNLV and the Final), we had dinner at a Pizza Hut, which had been decorated with a big vinyl banner that kind of looked like this:


Okay, make that, looked exactly like that. (I think the statute of limitations is up.) Anyway, suffice it to say, after the first one, armed with the yellow pages, our group went around to all the Pizza Huts in the Indianapolis metro area until everyone had their own banner.

It wasn't exactly a subtle piece of work.

Anyway, I can't say that I've gotten a lot of use out of it, (although the 1992 Final Four was in Minneapolis, so I was able to reuse the banner, with some obvious edits), but I could never bring myself to toss it.


This Had to Be an April Fools Day Joke

I never liked April Fools Day. It encourages unfunny people to try to be funny. It never works.

This year, I had two strange episodes. Neither of them were pranks in the strict sense of the word, but I get the feeling that something was messing with me.

The first was getting an e-mail from the HR department of my former employer. It was about a soon-to-be-former employee getting his official separation date pushed back a few months. This was kind of odd, as I've been out for two-and-a-half years, and I didn't do HR stuff, anyway. As soon as I figured out it wasn't a joke or a phishing attempt, I busted out laughing.

Apparently, I'd corresponded with this person after my own layoff, and I guess my address was still in the address book, and autocomplete took care of the rest. Which explained why a address there sitting there in the middle of a string of corp addresses.

I got two mails before I was able to reply and tell them they should probably take me off the distro.

(Oh, and the mails didn't have one of those "if you're not the intended recipient of this mail, delete it immediately and shoot yourself in the head" disclaimer footers.)

The second episode involved a multimedia message from a phone number I didn't recognize. It is below:


Oh shit!!!!!wrong party!!!

Apparently, enough people thought it was funny that it was forwarded 11 times. I'm reaaaaally hoping I didn't get it from someone I know.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Locker Room Burrito Is a Lie

I went to the gym tonight for the first time since I hurt my back a few weeks ago. To avoid hurting myself again, I only did cardio, which I need to focus on anyway.

In the locker room, there was this flyer taped to the mirror. After reading it, I needed to take a picture. (Yes, I was that guy using a cellphone camera inside the locker room):

The burrito is a lie.

It's a flyer for the relatively new Chipotle in Reston Town Center; the promotion involves showing your Fitness First membership card there on Saturdays in March for a free burrito (or bowl, tacos, or salad); the picture features a burrito, with the caption, "More Than Worth Those Ten Extra Minutes on the Treadmill."

Now, according to the calorie calculator, a standard chicken burrito combination clocks in at just under 1100 calories.

Using any given calorie calculator (say, this one at SparkPeople), 10 minutes on the treadmill, at a basic 10-minute mile pace (6 mph), burns about 100 calories.

Unless you can run at 60 mph (you shut up, Mr. Steve Austin), what the ad implies is off by a factor of 10. It's a lot closer to two hours than ten minutes.

This does not mean that I won't be there on Saturday to snag a free burrito. (Hey, free burrito.)

I enjoy Chipotle, but I like Baja Fresh more, mostly because I raid the salsa bar and use the extra red salsa in meatloaf, marinades, etc. (Hate the new condiment bags, by the way -- they suck. I used to be able to fit 8 salsa cups into one of the old paper bags.)

Anyway, I did 20 minutes on the treadmill (brisk walking at about 4.4 mph -- running makes my knee hurt), then followed with about 10 minutes of jumping rope.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Weekend of Crisis Fatigue and Back Spasms

I'd signed up for CrisisCampChile on Saturday, but flaked due to a combination of crisis fatigue, laziness, and despair at recognizing the futility of my own uselessness.

It's been a bad year so far for earthquakes.

Sunday morning started pretty well. The night before, had watched Duke *thump* UNC pretty soundly, and I was all set to possibly enjoy a warm-ish day outside (or at least as outside as one gets walking to and from parking lots).

I was making breakfast, when I had a particularly energetic morning coughing spell and all of a sudden felt a bolting pain over my right kidney and then folded up onto my knees on the kitchen floor.

It's happened once before, coughing my way into a back spasm after jacking my back during a workout (deadlifts this time, squats last time).

It took me a while to get back on my feet, and to limp over to the couch. It was pretty bad for a while -- I spent the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable and watching Life, Season 2 (which I'd mentioned picking up earlier.) For a little bit, I couldn't stand up without pulling myself up on a doorframe, which involved having to pad around on my hands and knees.

The little blue pill -- Naproxen (generic Aleve) -- didn't do much for me, but fortunately, Mom had given me a bottle of Excedrin Back and Body after the last time. It's basically buffered asprin and Tylenol, and it seemed to do the trick. Either that, or I'm a rapid healer (I'm not), or it wasn't as bad as I made it seem (it was kind of bad for a while).

So here we are.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Shamrock Fest 2010: The Year We Make Contact

[Note to self: Have not been making enough 2010 references. This is its moment: Don't make the same mistake as we did letting 1999 slide by.]

Shamrock Fest 2010 is coming up March 13, 2 Saturdays from now. I've been going since its days in Arlington, before it moved to RFK (and before I started getting a VIP pass hookup, see blogger disclosure notes at the end) and I'll be going again this year, with my usual bunch of friends.

The site touts 40+ acts on 10 stages, though to be honest, of all the years I've been going, I can't recall a single song I've heard. Okay, maybe a bit of Carbon Leaf last year, but it wasn't The Boxer. (I, personally, don't really go for the bands, which are more of a background ambiance thing for me -- I go to hang out with my friends, people-watch, take pictures, and run into people I know.)

Looking back at 2009, while I did do a preview entry featuring a Shamrock Fest Survival Guide, I didn't do a followup post featuring any photos or videos I took that year. (I could have sworn I at least posted them to Facebook.) So this look forward is actually a look back.

For 2009's Shamrock Fest, the weather was kind of dreary and rainy, though this year, I think we'll all be happy if it simply doesn't snow.

At public events, it usually takes me a few drinks for my camera shutter finger to loosen up (I start out sneaking candids), but after a while, people usually have no qualms about mugging for the camera, and I have no problem shooting them:


In previous years, in addition to the usual strange outfits, pretty girls and funny hats, I've picked informal themes. Last year featured a bunch of mini-themes:

DSCF5751 DSCF5776 DSCF5767

DSCF5788 DSCF5903

DSCF5799 DSCF5795

DSCF5798 DSCF5822 DSCF5764

Questionable Behavior:
DSCF5766 DSCF5851 DSCF5839

Oh, and there's a bucking bronco, too:

Anyway, we can only look forward to similar photo opportunities this year.

Blog Disclosure Note
Once again, I am getting VIP passes to Shamrock Fest, for which I am thankful (as I'd be going anyway) and which I am disclosing here, as in previous years.

Now, I know for a fact that some of my blogger brethren have had similar arrangements. While I'm not going to point any fingers, I can say that I haven't noticed any similar disclosures in years past.

While one can argue issues of transparency, government interference, payola, "newspaper reviewers get media access without needing to do ham-handed disclosures" and whatnot, with the FTC focusing in on blogger freebies, I suggest that now more than ever, the right thing to do is the right thing to do.