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i’m currently reading:




Crimes Against Logic

by Jamie Whyte

highly enlightening, even in the slightly americanized version (the original, UK version is Bad Thoughts). an excellent logical vocabulary builder for your next discussion with a politician, priest, or management consultant, and a vitally useful reference whilst reading or watching the news.

i recommend it and, though the link above goes to amazon (and i don’t get any credit or affiliate points if you click on it) it’s probably available in the philosophy section of your local bookseller.

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so we get disclaimers and warnings on our prime time cartoons these days about “animated nudity” and “sexual dialogue” – presumably referring to a second of cartoon butt and a humorous conversation about which of the men in a gay relationship has the vagina – but no mention of, say, the attempted assasination of one spouse by another, the drinking of hazardous toxic waste from a thermos, underage girls exposing themselves in exchange for beer, a man biting off his own thumb, or homeless men fighting over the belongings of one of their friends who has just died. this is American Dad, after all, i suppose.

i love our american value system. i wouldn’t trade it for anything.

unless it was money. yeah. i’d trade it for money.

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last night it rained and i couldn’t sleep.

the gentle hush of rain and the patter of drops on the tin roof of my storage shed would normally put me to sleep in short order. but last night, i was, for some reason, too restless to sleep.

then it started again. the dripping. the. steady. plop. drop. drip. thunk. of water, not in a random stream of droplets as on the roof or window, but the metronome of dripping water i became so familiar with in an apartment with a leaky faucet a few years back.

my first reaction upon hearing this sound, in the late hours of one night a few weeks ago, was that my brand new roof had already sprung a leak and, because of my expert triangulation of the sound’s location, was leaking water into the space behind the drywall.

fetching a flashlight (and this will come back into the story later) i hurried to the attic and attempted to catch the dripping in the act. after an exhaustive search, i determined that the source of the sound was not, in fact, inside the house at all.

apparently the new roofline had some new drop accumulation points along the edge of the roof that overhangs the wall just outside my bedroom, and one of these was dripping onto the electrical box attached to that wall, hence the hollow thunk when the drips hit in steady succession. or the cable box. or the phone box.

that side of the house is festooned with electrical protuberances, each of which could have been ground zero for plunging droplets.

for a while, i slept soundly, secure in the knowledge that the drips which would occasionally wake me were coming from outside, and were not the harbinger of rotted and crumbling drywall, mold and water damage.

until last night.

restless and already perturbed by my inability to sleep, i determined to go outside and put an end to the dripping – or at least the sound – once and for all. i would find where the drops were hitting and put something, pine straw or leaves, on top to deaden the impact, and hence the sound.

but i’d need some light. so i sought out that same flashlight from the attic expedition. it didn’t work.

neither did my other flashlight – a 30+ year-old boy scout model that takes D cell batteries. i swapped out the batteries, as for some bizarre reason i was able to locate spare Ds before i could find the AAs the other light took. still no good.

oh well, the bulb’s gone in that one. here’s some AAs for the other… crap.

the bulb had blown in both of them, and i had no replacement bulbs. in the end, i went outside with a decorative candle, sheltered under an umbrella, to spot the dripping culprit and put a handful of wet pine straw on it. it was the phone box.

my point, and why i ended up cursing my way back to bed, was that, surrounded by an endless wasteland of computer and other electronic components, technology in all its splendor, i had no way to make light in the darkness outside my door. i can turn on my tv from the other room, or set up a show to record from my computer at work, even over the phone, but i couldn’t fulfill the simplest, stone age requirement of lighting my way in the darkness. at least not without resorting to the stone age implement of fire to do it.

in the end, exhausted and lulled to a deep calm by the remaining comforting sounds of falling water, finally, i slept.

then one of the cats horked up something in the living room…

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she’s dead. can we stop talking about her now?

apparently not.

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enterprise sucks. i will not be sad to see it go.

yeah. i had high hopes for a prequel series when the buzz started up about it. but as soon as the first episode started up and that… song… oozed out of the speakers… sweet mother of crap, that was awful. it killed the mood, shat on the entire majesty and nobility of the journey into the unknown that makes trek, well Trek.

even TNG, on its worst wesley crusherest of days, still kept the spirit alive, though it was sitting in a corner, crying a little. a big part of it was characters like picard, but, as with a lot of the best movies and series, one of the characters was the music. in my mind, enterprise was DOA in that department.

well, that and the decision to make enterprise’s pre-TOS technology too far advanced. where are the knobs and switches? analog, kitschy interfaces would have made things a little humorous, but the series took itself way too seriously anyway. that and the transporter. i wanted so badly for them to not have that plotcrutch to lean on. to have to write themselves out of a wet paper bag, without the deus ex machina of instant matter transmission.

and time travel. god, how readily that’s trotted out when the soup gets thin. it’s all somehow worse than the dark days of deus ex wesley. at least those episodes can be explained by a writers’ strike. or so i’d like to believe.

paramount should have hired the writing team from firefly as soon as fox let them out of their contract, killing off the last great hope of many scifi tv fans. firefly will be missed.

in the long run, though, enterprise will not be mourned, at least not any more than ensign whatshisname that got killed that time. the one in the red shirt that transported down to that planet…

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highlights from south by southwest:

i saw a hobbit talking on his cel phone.

Al Franken signed my ipod, and didn’t say anything derogatory about David Sedaris when he saw “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim” on the screen below “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” – and didn’t make fun of me at all, despite the fact that i’m a drooling fanboy

Ana Marie Cox made a comment about my having big hands, and worked the phrase “ass fucking” into her answer to my question about the definition of journalism.

the guys from home star runner are almost as funny in person as they are when animated.

i managed to ask matt mullenweg about the possibility of getting hit by a bus without raising any suspicions.

I was interviewed for a documentary about second life and may soon burst into flames and collapse in upon my own force of geek gravity.

i like austin.

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AOL didn’t invent the instant message. the guy that wrote the unix talk command did. they didn’t invent chat rooms, either. credit for that goes to either the BBS’ (those that had multiple lines), IRC, or the first MUDs. i’m probably at the best place to ask folks and find out, or else do a little research, but i’m not in the mood. i’ll dig a little before i post a longer rant on this topic later.

neither did bloggers, or wordPress, or blogger.com invent blogging. they didn’t reinvent the internet, either. like AOL, they only democratized it, or to take a different tack, totally fucked it all up.

and for that matter, why didn’t the old timers (like crotchetty old me) speak up and prevent the coopting and appropriation of the venerable ping by the blogging “community”?

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my latest creation: a moonwalking leprechaun for st. patrick’s day.

share and enjoy.

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feh.

technorati‘s profile thingy is uglying up my sidebar. i’m not in the mood for CSS tweaking while i’m at sxsw, but when i get back to the world of the living, i’ll give it all a good thwack.

i’m learning a lot, of course, and a good bit of this week is learning what to give a damn about. i’m taking notes, and i’ll decide what’s damnworthy when i get back and can churn through my notes.

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at south by southwest. in austin. getting charlesed at every meal.

sessions are hit or miss, movies have been excellent so far.

about to enter the malcolm gladwell keynote – guaranteed to be packed, even moreso than jef zeldman’s

i’m still working on my sendup of the sxsw bloggers, so look for a new rant later on today. i insist on not actually writing during a presentation (i prefer paying attention), and the wireless connection doesn’t stretch all the way to my room, so my posting time is limited.

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from by far the oddest piece of spam i’ve gotten in a while:

Touche!
The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory.
True politeness consists in being easy one’s self, and in making every one about one as easy as one can.

The art of government is not to let me grow stale.

And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity. [Corinthians]
Death may be the King of terrors… but Jesus is the King of kings!

Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night.

The three great elements of modern civilization, Gun powder, Printing, and the Protestant religion.

If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.
Though you are disappointed is hope never let hope fail you! Though one door is shut, there are thousands still open to you. Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.
Law cannot persuade when it cannot punish.

No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined.
The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
You must have the devil in you to succeed in the arts. If it were done when ’tis done, then t’were well. It were done quickly.Success is always temporary. When all is said and one, the only thing you’ll have left is your character.
Books that you carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are most useful after all.

A consultant is someone who saves his client almost enough to pay his fee.
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy. Better a snotty child than his nose wiped off.
The first step is the hardest. Take time to gather up the past so that you will be able to draw from your experience and invest them in the future.

Bores bore each other too but it never seems to teach them anything.

Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities.

[and then the 1×1 pixel tracker image]

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why is it so hard to understand, guys?

you don’t pee in the conference room. don’t conduct business in the men’s room.

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< not safe for work >

midgets and strippers.

oh, and midget strippers.

< /not safe for work >

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damn you science! can’t you leave well enough alone?

apparently there’s a strong link between drinking milk and heart disease. and diabetes. and acne, among zillions of other things.

i’ve recently started on my own regimen of reduced caloric intake, specifically to lower fat and cholesterol, as i think i’d like to live to see 30, and i thought my one remaining vanity would be the occasional glass of milk with dinner. i drink low fat milk, not whole. it’s not even chocolate milk, after all. i could even have lived with (ugh) skim milk to cut back further on fat. but no, the fat’s not what’ll kill you, it’s the proteins. and the specific types of carbohydrates and androgens and hormones and all the other things in cow’s milk that i used to think were actually good for me – all those will kill you in the end.

it’s not news. i started poking around online after deciding to have a bowl of cereal for dinner, and, wow, look at all these articles from the ’90s. and studies from the ’60s.

sigh.

how am i supposed to eat all these and lower my cholesterol? soy milk? ugh.

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okay. so now you can reply to rants again.

i’ve fixed the ever decaying lasso codebase for the umpteenth time, so you should be able to properly respond to my long-form rants now.

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good news. the doctor says i’m not dead.

yet.

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ginnie, this one’s for you.

i know it’s a little early to start making resolutions, but in my own way, my tradition of not actually making new years resolutions still holds – these are, if anything, new year’s eve determinations. or guidelines. plans, maybe. but not resolutions.

virginia tells me that i need to update my “blog” more often, or else it’s pointless to have such a thing. that, and i should make it so people can respond to these “minirants”, instead of just to the features

so, next year, i’ll maybe try to keep this blog updated more often. and, if i ever get around to learning enough sql and php to rebuild the back-end for this site from scratch – something i’ve been meaning to do for a while – i’ll add a full threaded reply system, too.

as for the current year, not yet quite over, at least as of this writing, not for several hours yet anyway, i think i’m doing okay. i’ve gotten a lot done on my home improvement plans. things i made plans to get done within five years of owning my house – and if get them all done by july, i’ll have made my self-imposed five year deadline.

i’ve painted, filled the house with comfy furniture, and put music in all the rooms that matter. when i turn up the new, electronic, programmable thermostat, there’s a heating system that can actually get the house warm. there’s hardwood on the floors now, which is very nice, and tile and updated fixtures in one of the bathrooms (the other is always at the top of my project list, but keeps slipping because i actually have to use that bathroom every day) but more importantly there are already plans in the works to install a monitored security system, put new shingles on the roof (after removing the two layers of shingles up there now, and revamping the whole roof’s structure to meet current-as-of-twenty-years-ago building codes), and, last of the major outward-facing improvements, pressure washing and painting the exterior of the house.

maybe most telling of all, despite the work i’ve done and am planning to do to my humble abode, is that today i actually bought a fire extinguisher. i’ve never had one before, though i’ve always seen the need; somehow it never seemed a priority.

and i got a good one, not just a dinky one-handed model i could use to maybe put out a flare-up in the kitchen. the one i brought home from the hardware store is an important step up, and might actually come in useful in a real fire. professional-grade, approved by the coast guard and fire marchall – though i have no idea what that means, other than that it’s bigger and more expensive than the other ones.

i got to thinking about it on the way back from running errands – i feel like i might actually give a damn if my house burned to the ground. sure, i’d save myself, and make sure the cats got out safely, but there’s never been a lot in my house that i couldn’t replace, or that i couldn’t live without. i haven’t got a lot that i’m sentimental about, or that’s unique in all the world. until recently.

so, i’m taking some pride in the place i live, and making it a better, more comfortable place for me to live in. not, mind you, just so i can sell it, though all the physical improvements should help in that eventuality – if i can manage to get all of my neighbors to move out first. i’ve lived here five years, and i’m just now getting the feeling like i kinda like it here, and i’m going to stay.

and my plans for the new year don’t end with my nesting instincts and my physical surroundings. i’ve decided to start actually taking care of myself next year, too. 2005 is the year i turn 30, after all, so i might as well start.

so, for that to get properly underway, i’ve got an appointment next week to get a physical and all kinds of blood tests, and pee in this cup tests, and open wide and say ah tests, and i’m going to stick this in your ear tests. i haven’t had a physical, in the turn your head and cough sense of the word, since before i went to college, so i’m probably overdue to have my tires rotated and the oil changed. i fully intend to get poked, prodded, pricked, and possibly punched, in the pursuit of a full working knowledge of my state of health. i know i’m about 30 pounds overweight, or that i could at least stand to lose that much, but i don’t know much of anything about my cholesterol or blood sugar or blood pressure or much of anything else for that matter. what’s the healthiest way for me to get rid of those 30 pounds? is the numbness and weird tingling in my hand carpal tunnel, or is it vitamin deficiency? or maybe just poor circulation because i’m a lazy fatass that never gets any exercise.

so next year’s going to be a full and productive one, if my plans all come to fruition. maybe it will be enough to distract me, for a little while at least, from the fact that my life is a completely emotionless wasteland, and that i’m a terminal loser with no love life and no prospects.

i am, as ever, optimistic.

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somehow, the simplest act of automotive maintenance – like replacing a blown headlight bulb – can really get the testosterone flowing. strange, how on the way home from the auto parts store, in whose parking lot the actual bulb replacement took place, i was driving faster, more aggressively. i suddenly realized what i was doing and i hesitate to say this, but i kinda liked the feeling.

it’s not like i changed my own oil or rotated the tires myself; there was no grease under my fingernails when i was done. those are both time-consuming and messy operations that, in a pinch, i could probably perform, but i feel my time and effort are better spent on other manly pursuits.

like knitting.

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Jesus was a liberal Jew who was nailed to a tree for pissing off the conservative, religious fundamentalist authorities.

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sigh.

the election results confirm my long held belief that

the majority of this country is populated by complete fucking idiots that wouldn’t know what was good for them if it stood up on national television and said “my name is John Kerry. vote for me.”

okay. time to heal, you slack-jawed yokels.

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if you don’t vote, you have no right to bitch.

for four years.

actually, i’m in favor of revoking the protections under the first amendment (and, hell, why not all of them?) for those “citizens” who, for whatever reason, didn’t vote.

sorry, sir. you didn’t vote in the last election. your free speech has been revoked.

don’t like it? good thing i’m not on the ballot.

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welcome to the blog wasteland.

i know this site isn’t updated nearly as frequently as it should be, but i’m a busy person. live with it. or without it. i know the only people that read this site are Google’s indexing robot and my mother, so it’s no skin off my ass if this site were to simply vanish.

however, i just got out of a “lunch ‘n’ learn” session at work about the new and exciting marketing opportunities and community-building possibilities of blogs.

god, i hate that word. not that there’s a better one. sigh.

which all reminds me that i’ve been “blogging” since before it was a word, and now that everyone else is doing it, i’ve fallen off the wagon. such is my life. i was country when country wasn’t cool.

not that i was ever country.

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saw the day after tomorrow today. interesting film.

a bit preachy, but the effects were on the spectacular side, as promised. global-scale storms are difficult to visualize, and even harder to communicate to film via CG, but the filmmakers managed it.

what they failed to do, however, is create believable wolves. yes, they can create a storm surge so tall the statue of liberty looks like she’s wading in the harbor up to her neck, and tornadoes that demolish los angeles in an afternoon, and an incredibly believable snowed-in manhattan skyline. that, i think is where the hubris set in.

hey, they said, we don’t need finicky real wolves. they need to be fed, after all. we can simulate them.

you go to such effect-driven films to suspend your disbelief for a while, sure, but when they take the care to use real chunks of ice (i suppose, or else the 20-second throwaway hailstorm scene was the best effects in the movie) why not use real wolves for the two minutes where three of the main characters were finally in believable peril?

and, at just over two hours long, parts of the day after tomorrow dragged into next week, while it could have used an additional hour just to tie up loose ends. or just finish the ending. as it stands, the movie is a very long beginning, some middle, and the credits.

in every disaster movie, in the end there must come some kind of salvation – where the leads are all saved from the forces of nature by some extraordinary means. or else the moving-forward, rising-from-the-ashes message of hope. in the end of this movie, there is the humble “my fellow americans” moment. however, the dire peril of the previous 120 minutes simply evaporates. poof. deus ex screenwriter. sorry, we can’t make this movie into the epic it really wants to be; we’ve run out of time.

either that, or the world was saved when, suddenly, the animator suffered a fatal heart attack.

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it’s unfortunate, but i think the final, lasting outcome of the revelations about the abuse at abu ghraib is that more americans than ever before will now know that the proper plural form of court martial is courts martial.

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it’s time to change trains when the wheels are coming off this one.

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maybe i’ve written before about how my neighbor’s kids aren’t the brightest in the world…

anyhoo, today i came home to find them swinging from the vines in the trees in their back yard, in much the way tarzan would.

except, i think tarzan might have chosen vines that weren’t poison ivy.

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in milan, finally. i had a premonition that my train would be late getting to my connection in genova (hell, that was an easy one – all the trains were late leaving la spezia) so i made sure i had enough time to get another train to milan from there, and there were plenty. still, i didn’t get into milan until nearly 10pm.

anyhoo, the cinque terre. long hike from vernazza to riomaggiore, with stops at each town for a glass of the local wine and a refill of my water bottle – in case you’re planning a trip to italy, bring a plastic water bottle with you, and you’ll never have to buy water while you’re here. there’s spring-fed fountains, or those running with aqua potabile, pretty much everywhere. in rome, i was able to keep my recycled gatorade bottle full the whole time i was there.

so. cinque terre. beautiful. ocean view to the right, sheer cliffs to the left, and on most of the hike, not much in between to walk on. plodding along the route that, thankfully, went from extremely vertical to mostly horizontal and finally, paved, with my backpack and messenger bag, slightly exhausted, and by the end of the hike, a little tipsy, it was a pretty full day – hiking from around 10am to 3pm, filling up my camera with pictures, my feet with blisters.

then, dinner at a pizzeria in la spezia, and a lovely conversation with some american girls on the ‘grand tour,’ six weeks and, from their itinerary, around 20 cities. i shared some of my travel tips with ‘the note-taker’ and they shared their experiences in paris and madrid. from what they tell me, the french are as bad as everyone says, to americans anyway, and madrid is the armpit of europe. a quote they attribute to one of the locals in vernazza ‘if madrid is the armpit, then naples is the crotch.’ i’ll leave it at that.

so, milan. great hotel, not too far from the station, though the nearest metro stop seems to be closed for some reason. i noticed this getting up late on monday and wandering into the city to do some window shopping. with no traffic, none of the shops near my hotel open, and no trains or buses rumbling past, it was eerily quiet. i know it’s the day after easter, but it’s still monday, after all. at 10:30 there was still almost nobody on the street, and i didn’t see significant numbers of people until i got to the duomo, and that was because there was a service about to start. creepy.

anyhow, it’s lunchtime now, and people are starting to come out into the light, the shops are opening up, and it’s starting to remind me of a city again. actually, the place reminds me most of koln/cologne in germany. the gothic cathedral and piazza slowly filling with street performers are part of it, but i’m not sure what’s at the root of it. maybe it’s that this place is more german than italian, by way of being so far north. i’ve certainly seen the contrasts, as i had intended, between the south and north.

so. window shopping, maybe a few designer souvenirs (though i can’t guarantee anything) and then a plane in the morning. this is probably my last entry from italy, as i’ll be home soon, so for those of you playing along at home:

ciao, arrivaderci.

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cinque terre. hiking with all my kit, as the la spezia baggage check has been closed ‘for security’ and according to the lady at the info desk, they’re closed all over the place. good thing i packed light.

yeesh.

so, i’m hiking for real, not just strolling.

then, off to milan for tonight and a full day tomorrow. shopping, i think, and maybe a museum or two. i’m pretty much churched out.

i’ll check in again when i get to milan. access is expensive here…

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as you can see, i’ve made it out of rome alive, and have landed in florence.

already, there is a marked difference between this, northern/central italy, and the south. the countryside on the way here, through the train windows as it sped past, was of a different cast. a deeper green. the mountains, a few of which still had snow on top even at this late date, seemed older, softened with time. in sicily, there were mountains, and certainly tall and impressive peaks, but they seemed fresher, as if they had just been shoved out of the ocean in a fit.

florence, from what i’ve seen so far, is also a different kind of city from naples and rome. no city can compare to rome, but so far florence still strikes me as a little sleepy, quieter than the frantic rome streets would be at this hour, and i doubt it’s entirely due to the overcast skies and rain-streaked streets. things are closer together here, as they were in naples – none of the wide roman streets or hulking ruins in between – but it still doesn’t have the crowded feel of that place.

i managed a decent hotel, again on the cheap as those things go, but it’s only for one night. it’s even one in the guidebook i have, though i booked the reservation through the tourist office. i haven’t made up my mind whether to pursue another for tomorrow night, or take it as a sign to move on the the cinque terre as soon as i can tomorrow for a vacation from my vacation. i have reservations for this afternoon at the uffizi, and tomorrow at the academie, so i’ll be here for two days. i think, though, i’ve seen enough of the italian city scene. i’m ready for the small towns, beaches and cliffs i’ve read about in the guidebooks.

off to grab a late breakfast, then check into my room – it was not yet free when i got there at 9:30. then off to the uffizi to lay eyeballs on some more renaissance masters. nothing, i think, will compare to the gargantuan vatican museum or the amazing sistine…

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wow. where do i begin?

all day yesterday, my first full day, from sunup to well after sundown, in the eternal city. the night before (after my last posting), i took a walk by trevi fountain, and, even packed with tourists and vendors of various trinkets (who all seem to be related, or at least know each other) it was a serene end to my arduous day.

the cool spray off the fountain, the happy conversation in a dozen languages, laughter, gypsy music, the cold, cold beer from one of the street vendors… everything about the place seemed to seep into me and melt away all the disappointment i had in naples, all the sunburn i’ve had since palermo, my sore feet and muscles, the stench of train travel (have i mentioned that i’ve learned through experience and travel to no longer be sensitive to my own BO?)

whoosh. sigh.

and walking back to my hotel, i look to my left. oh yeah. colisseum. dig.

and yesterday morning i made my way back there before the crowds started showing up and did a couple of laps. from there, it was a full day – st. peter in chains, pantheon, capitol hill, museums, forum and palatine hill. from imperial rome to medieval rome in about 6 hours. more square meters of michelangelo and cubic meters of bernini than i expect to see in the rest of my life (except for tomorrow in the vatican)

and look, over there… spanish steps.

a little bit of a problem this morning, tho. the crypt of the cappucin is closed ‘for works’. and apparently has been since december of last year. oops.

but i was able to secure a reservation at the borghese museum – and during holy week, no less. no wonder, they move people through there so efficiently, i think the rome metro system should take some lessons. they say you’ve got two hours, and they’re not kidding. i could have spent the whole day there, but i felt a little rushed to get through all the most notable bits before the loudspeaker proclaimed ‘the tour time is over. make your way to the exit’ and the attendants started closing the doors behind me.

anyhoo, i took it easy today, as tomorrow, i take the vatican. st. peter’s and the museum, anyway. the pope is being wheeled out at the coliseum on friday, for which there are massive preparations – tv cameras, lights and sound systems – already underway, so i doubt i’ll catch a glimpse on thursday.

if you don’t see anything from me in a while, look in the papers for a picture of me being escorted in chains by the swiss guard.

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rome. and naples was finally growing on me. of course, the little ‘porter’ i couldn’t shake in the train station, who got in my way while trying to help me to my train, didn’t take my bags (thank goodness. if he’d made a grab for them, i’d have surely broken his neck, i was so fed up with him), spoke mostly gibberish, and who finally demanded i give him something to go away (per caffe’?).. that was naples’ final offense.

anyhoo, rome.

much better reception than in naples. for one, i was able with no problems (or language barrier) to reserve a room for 4 nights, right by the train station, for about the same price as the pensione i stayed at in sorrento.

and on the way here, i had a nice conversation with my neighbor on the train – a lovely young lady who is on her way to quit her job, move out of her apartment, and move to seattle to be with her boyfriend (who, i think, works at pixar. or disney. something like that) she told me all about growing up in naples, working in milan, and the bizarre courtship she and her boyfriend have had. i was able, with only some small difficulty, to explain why americans are… well, the way we are. paranoid, xenophobic, reactionary… and i think there was something about how taxes work in the US vs the EU.

and on the way, i ate my neapolitan pizza (take-out from the original pizzeria) – a primordial pie. misshapen, burnt at the edges, and cooked in an oven older than most buildings in the US. this is the coelocanth of foods.

damned good pie.

anyhow, off to see rome by night.

minirant

in naples for less than an hour, and already, i hate it with a passion. the ‘tourist info’ office is completely useless – though i probably expect too much for them to help me with a booking in rome. in england it was ‘how may i help you’ and ‘certainly, sir’ here it’s ‘you in napoli. no roma.’

well, fuck you too.

anyhoo, off to the museums and some pizza for lunch – and it had better be fucking good. the morning i’ve had so far, makes me want to get to rome and get this town behind me. and i had such high hopes. up this morning with the sun, first ferry from sorrento. got to the TI before it opened…

sigh.

pompeii was a full day, lots of walking, and fascinating. i could have spent even more time, but i was feeling pretty pooped. then yesterday on mt. vesuvius took way too long. the bus didnàt come on time, and wasn’t running a full schedule – being sunday, of course. then there’s the whole ‘this train goes this place, not that place, and there’s no telling which one you’re on until it’s too late’ thing.

the buses to amalfi were the same, so i was unable to make it to amalfi yesterday, unless i wanted to spend the night. i’m tempted to go today after the reception i’ve had in naples, but i must see the museum – it’s where all the stuff from pompeii and herculaneum ended up. and this is where my train to rome leaves from, so i’d hate to get stuck in positano.

long, drawn out sigh.

rome. tonight. and it’s holy week. no hotel reservation.

god i love traveling.

minirant

do you remember when you were in elementary school, and you first studied pompeii?

you know, the city that was buried under volcanic ash and preserved, like it was stuck in some prehistoric tupperware casserole and burped for that eternal seal of fdreshness?

remember the grisly story of the remains of the people covered in ash, who left perfect molds for archaeologists thousands of years later, the sick bastards that poured plaster into the voids left by the decomposed remains, uncovering the poses of these pompeiians at the exact moments of their death by suffocation under tons of volcanic ash?

yeah. those.

i saw those today. was close enough to touch them. those and the frescoes, mosaics, and everyday parephernalia left behind at pompeii. and then it hit me.

well, two things. so ‘they hit me’

one, despite how the ruins of pompeii today were full of people – school groups and tours, families and spring-breakers – it was once, well, full of *people*. it was, despite the noise, stray dogs, and children who had escaped their leashes, a very lonely place.

which is where the second thing struck me, and i needed to leave, to get back to my pensione and regroup, needed to drink wine, and lots of it.

i’m here.

in italy.

with the clusterfuck of delays, half-assed plans, and missed trains, i had almost forgotten the whole point. i’m not at home any more. i can’t stress over that kind of stuff, because my promise to myself was to act more italian. eat and drink only the local fare – no pizza until i get to napoli (day after tomorrow) and, for the love of pete, no mcdonalds, even if i’m dying in a gutter of hunger and grease deprivation. to forget for a while how to be the ugly american i saw in the newark and amsterdam airports.

after all, mi familia – il mio nonno – d’origine italiano.

(anybody who speaks italian, feel free to correct my spelling or grammar, but i’ll give you the italian equivalent of the bird and tell you in my defense that i’ve already had a bottle of the vino rosso locale for dinner)

and, as they say, when in rome (or naples, or sorrento, or palermo…)

minirant

overnight ferry from palermo to naples. another short hop to sorrento. and now, off to vesuvius!

more verbose entry later. bus leaves soon.

minirant

ah, sicily!

i love this place. nobody speaks english; they do speak in sign language, though. it appears they park by braille. they drive that way, too.

i feel fairly safe crossing the road, though, as it seems the rule here is to step out directly in front of oncoming traffic with no regard for personal safety. the traffic will stop, or at least slow down to a pace meant to injure, not kill. then they honk at you or, if you’re una bella ragaza, whistle.

so far, i haven’t been whistled at, which is a good sign.

after recovering from the airport crawl, and hungering for food not served covered in plastic, eaten with plastic utensils, and tasting like it was made of plastic, i ate a fantastic dinner and watched scenes from the sopranos acted out by the locals in a hole-in-the-wall trattoria. i didn’t understand a word of it, but they were having quite an energetic conversation, and it was hard not to enjoy the entertainment. lasagna, a pork chop, salad with lots of olive oil, and lots of red wine later, i wandered out into the rain-slick streets again in search of gelato.

i keep seeing posters and billboards advertising land for sale, land and property seized from the cosa nostra. i think a nice little mafioso’s villa outside of town would make a nice place to retire (and start my criminal empire)

minirant

well, i’m in italy. 6 hours late, but moving fast.

i missed my connection in newark, partly due to my travel agent’s short layover scheduling, but mostly due to the crack-smoking sadists that designed the newark airport.

if i have an hour and a half layover, and i need to check into my flight an hour befor departure or else get booted, an airport designed to take 30 minutes to travel from one point to another (and the worst directional signage in any airport, ever) leaves little room for delays.

at least i wasn’t alone. the other ugly american took the bad karma brunt for me by being an ass, while i slipped into a zen-like state, repeating to myself “i paid them to get me to palermo, and if it takes all day, they’ll get me there.” the capo di ticket agenti working on our connections set my mind at ease.

so, i’m in rome, and waiting on my puddle-jumper to sicily. the map is updated (i’m optimistic at this point)

clicketty click

minirant

i love open source software. love it.

and this time, i’m not being sarcastic when i say this. most of the open source software projects i come in contact with – linux, bsd, mozilla, apache – are the best at what they do. especially the server side of things.

(openoffice sucks rocks, especially on OS X, but still, it’s a start.)

anyhoo, the reason for this outpuring of love? i’m helping my office move from crappy microsoft outlook 2001 to slightly less crappy microsoft entourage X.

after much cursing and gnashing of teeth, our inept windows network admin finally managed to get the server working properly – i say she did, but it was the consultant she has do everything for her that finally figured out the permissions problem. so the time has come to migrate from outlook (classic, hella crappy to entourage (OS X native, slightly less crappy)

but there’s no mechanism for such migration. none. microsoft admits in their support materials that no program except outlook can read the outlook mailbox files. not even microsoft entourage, the outlook replacement microsoft is pushing mac users to adopt for connecting to an exchange 2000 or later server.

more cursing and gnashing of teeth.

but wait! what do i find in my research, but a solution! open source software to the rescue!

seems open source godsend mozilla can read the outlook mailbox files, and convert them to standard, universally adored .mbox format files.

and entourage can import mbox files.

but then, so can OS X’s mail.app. and with some inexpensive utilities iCal can read and post calendars to an exchange server.

so wait… why are we using entourage?

minirant

that does it. i’m old.

ancient. paleolithic. prehistoric, even.

i’ve receieved an invitation to my ten-year high school reunion. sigh.

actually, three of them.

apparently, when you accept the invitation from the company that’s organizing the event, they ask you for email addresses of other folks you graduated with – i presume, as i have yet to accept the invitation. so, at least three people i know will be there.

three people that know my email address, anyway.

and that’s about the number of people that i graduated with that i still keep in touch with. maybe a few more. most of the other five hundred or so, i couldn’t care less about.

minirant

wow. a little out of date, aren’t we?

well, watch this space. another grand adventure is coming soon, for you to Play Along at Home!

minirant

lord of the rings – return of the king: in short – long.

moreso even than two towers, if you haven’t seen the previous movies, don’t bother. even if you have, you should read the books.

having done both, i kept thinking to myself ‘i wonder if this part is explained better in the DVD version that’ll come out a year from now’

*sigh*

now that the matrix and ring trilogies are done, what do i have left to live for? star wars episode 3?

feh… maybe x-men 3. or the iron man movie.

minirant

God is a DJ,

…but all he ever plays is crappy “Christian rock.”

minirant

have you ever been in love with someone, but never realized just how much until she said she was a lesbian?

minirant

All hail the Hypnotoad!

no, really.

hail.

minirant

God said, “let there be LIGHT!”, and looked tentatively to Stephen Hawking, who plugged a few numbers into the critical calculations, and gave a quick thumbs-up to the Big Guy.

And there was, and it was good, and it travelled at a precise speed in a vacuum, was composed of quanta to be called ‘photons’ that behaved as wave and particle, was acted upon by gravity (which Stephen had created the day before, while God was napping), and wasn’t the slightest bit odd or inexplicable.

Stephen Hawking presented his calculations to God on the second day, who scratched His head and said, “Um, good job, Stephen… I’ll take it from here”

Irrevelations 14:42

minirant

ah, Uday…. Qusay… we hardly knew ye.

seriously – according to the New York Times (and really, who trusts those guys these days?) in a shootout with four men in a house…

“A senior defense official said Apache helicopters, A-10 Warthogs and fighter aircraft were called in to lend support.”

and apparently the “ferocious shootout […] gradually shredded the walls providing them cover.”

sounds like appropriate use of force to me.

minirant

something i noticed out at a show the other night… it’s hard to pull off the hard core punk rock look if you have a cel phone dangling from your belt along with your wallet-on-a-chain.

minirant

it’s hard to express just how satisfying it is to me to see that MTV is, by doing segments of “M2 on MTV” promoting M2 as “where the music is”, in essence telling us just how little actual music there is on Music Telvision these days. “We’re such tools,” they’re saying, “that we had to come up with a whole new channel to build up your hopes and then ruin like everything else we touch.”

god bless you, MTV

minirant

it seems that a spammer, one of those detestable vermin, just one step below a monkeypox infested, rabid prairie dog, has been spoofing one of my email addresses while sending out his drivel.

i only know this because i’m the one that gets the bounced messages when they fail.

thank you Go Daddy Software. thank you for sending out urls like http-www-swmaxxdel-com-il1oololo-0o0olo0os-0os0l5o5-0o50s0o-o1o.us and oll02198283l4672lo39102-42l3917y7u123-lo97687o876o58l-olol27373.us with my name on them.

thank you secureserver.net for sending this mail for godaddy. thank you verio for hosting them.

and thank you to all the postmasters and admins at (in no particular order) amsuper.com, fvg.it, cspadsl.com, ayala.com.ph, baylinens.com, berea.edu, postnet.se, newsouth.net, foxtel.com.au, AO fucking L, cms.edu.do, compmktg.com, spray.net, csc.com, csuohio.edu, personainternet.com, deq.state.ms.us, nacamar.de, esaote.com, and Fleishman.com for either having poorly configured or nonexistent antispam procedures, or for relaying this spam that so clearly does not originate where it seems to.

this is what the internet is supposed to be about, after all. right?

minirant

sigh. it’s only now that joey ramone is good and truly dead that a Ramones song can be used in a TV commercial for cel phones.

minirant

i wonder how you say “tell your fucking kids to stop screaming so damned loud, and to get the hell out of my yard” in vietnamese?

i love my new neighbors.

(oh yeah “and tell them to quit climbing on my car before i cut their feet off at the ankles”)

minirant

thank you, adulthood.

thank you, adulthood, for bringing independence.

for independence brings self-reliance.

self-reliance brings responsibilities.

responsibilities bring liabilities.

liabilities bring concern.

concern brings worry.

worry brings paranoia.

paranoia, inevitably, brings neurosis.

yes. thank you, adulthood.

minirant

okay. if you’ve watched TV on pretty much any channel in the last few months, you’ve seen this thing advertised.

it’s a pasta pot. with holes in the lid.

the commercials would lead us to believe this is a miraculous “invention,” but i’m skeptical. exactly how much manual dexterity is necessary, anyway, to operate a simple collander?

the way i see it, you can spend the $20 on the pot with holes in the top, or you can spend 4 bucks on a top of the line collander and still keep your self respect. sounds like a bargain to me….

minirant

I had a thought the other day. Why are there no double-sided CDs?

I’ve wondered for a while if it were possible, considering the number of CDs in my collection that are part of multiple-disc sets. I even have a couple of DVDs that are double-sided – with the full-screen version of the movie on one side and the wide-screen version on the other – so I expect that it’s not much of a technical hurdle to put data on both sides of the disc.

It would solve the ever-present problem of how to stuff multple CDs into a jewel case that can still fit in the standard CD racks. The sketchy solutions that are out there now are fragile at best, and it seems no two are made the same.

Sure, there’d be the potential for scratches on both surfaces, and the plastic protective layer would be thinner, but if DVDs can do it and survive…

Anyhoo, just another idea. Share and enjoy.

minirant

i’m sick of the whole getting older business. it’s not that i have a problem being old. it’s the getting there that sucks so much.

i wouldn’t gripe too much if tomorrow, i woke up and all my hair had suddenly gone, i had a tremendous gut, no energy, and wrinkles. it wouldn’t be my best day, to be certain, but it would sure beat the slow, decades-long, downhill tumble that i can see stretching before me.

is my hairline moving back? i can’t tell. as far as i know, my hair has always looked like this. am i getting fatter? probably. my pants all still fit, but that doesn’t mean that the part of my gut that hangs out over my belt isn’t getting progressively larger…

minirant

moving sucks.

moving sucks.

moving sucks.

minirant

apparently there’s a serial killer stalking around in my town. there was a lengthy description of him and his last known whereabouts on the news. they described his M.O. and noted that he was, and i quote “socially inept around women

great. now i’m going to get pulled over because i “fit a description”.

minirant

i’m not sure what it is about the feline anatomy that makes it so that, when a smallish, 10 pound cat decides it’s going to hork up a hairball, it sounds remarkably like a wet sack of billiard balls being juggled.

or, for that matter, why mine seem to wait for me to go to bed and work my way into a deep, dream-filled slumber before attempting said hairball hork. that way, at least, i’m nicely rested when i have to get out the carpet cleaner and all the hairball-removal implements…

minirant

i’ve always wondered how one goes about declaring moral bankruptcy…

minirant

the internet has let me down.

i thought that i could find just about any piece of information, anything at all, online. with the right search engines, queries, some skill and experience, and a little luck, i have been able to find some of the most inane, trivial, esoteric, and eclectic minuae.

but tonight, i’m watching “The Thomas Crown Affair” and i wanted to know what the name of the sculpture in thomas’ foyer was, and whether it was a Rodin or not. I suspect it is, by the exaggerated, overly large hands and feet. I really like Rodin – there was a really big exhibit at the local art museum not long ago, which i really enjoyed.

but, the internet, specifically the web, has let me down. no online gallery of Rodin sculpture had a picture of the sculpture in question (a reclining nude, of which Rodin did several, i understand). that, of course, means nothing. it could be another sculptor.

but then, i would think that some website, some newsgroup thread, some blog, something would mention the sculpture in thomas crown’s foyer, and whether or not it was Rodin. there are several pages worth of discussion of the other artwork in the movie – impressionism, forgeries, etc – but nothing on the incidental artwork in Thomas’ house.

oh well…

minirant

“MTV is to music, what KFC is to chicken.”

– Louis Black

minirant

a little site note:

in case you are a regular reader (sic) and you haven’t noticed yet, i’ve added some new sections to the site. the menubar at the top of the page has some new links in it.

i’m still working on the content, but the general gist is: links has links (duh) to sites of people i know or stuff i dig, comics is a gallery of the Mental Hygiene comics, and obsessions is a page about stuff that occupies my mind or my time (or both)

dailies is this page (ideally updated daily), and rants is the current rant and archives of previous rants.

minirant

it seems i can’t go to a movie these days without someone or something ruining it for me.

last time i had the unfortunate luck to be in the theater directly behind the bathrooms, or the plumbing system for the building. every few minutes, the sounds of rushing water and clanging pipes interrupted the admittedly milquetoast “attack of the clones.”

this time, just as the previews were starting, someone came in and sat down a few rows in front of me, reeking of backwoods B.O.

it was so distracting that i couldn’t enjoy my popcorn.

then the two catty bitches in the row behind me, apparently too late to get into “ya-ya sisterhood” decided to start up their conversation at full volume. after three stern and increasingly nasty looks, i finally told them to shut the everloving fuck up.

i actually said something to the effect of “excuse me, but i’m trying to watch a movie”

they shut up, but only after saying something i didn’t quite catch. it very certainly wasn’t “sorry, sir, we’ll be quiet.”

it sounded to me that they thought I was the jerk. sigh.

minirant

well, i have gotten the house completely wired for ethernet. something that’s probably completely pointless, since i already have 802.11 (airport) for the important bits, and it does little if anything for the actual resale value of the house.

regardless, i trudged through it and was able to add 2 ports apiece in 5 rooms without using up a whole spool of cat5 (1000 feet goes pretty far inside a small house). all that, and ports to spare on the 16 port 10/100 switch.

now, other than getting the display piece Color Classic sitting in the living room onto the network as a show of my g33k ski11z, what to do with all this new network capacity?

why LAN parties, of course!

minirant

george, dubya.. read my lips:

NU-CLE-AR. Nuclear.

not nucular. there is no such word as nucular.

say it with me again.

NUCLEAR. NUKE LEE ER.

that’s all.

minirant

are you the kind of person that passes by a dark, overgrown, dank, dreaery place and thinks, “there’s probably some kind of twisted psychopath lurking in that dark alley just waiting to jump some innocent, unsuspecting passerby and do unspeakable things to them”

or are you the kind that passes by that dark, smelly place, and thinks “wow. that would be a great place to hide a body”

?

minirant

this morning my neighbors decided to wake me up at the ass crack of dawn by continuing their usual breakfast table discussion outside. this consisted of the teenage son stomping out the front door, slamming it and the screen door behind him, cursing the whole way. his mother then followed shortly after, doing basically the same thing, only louder and in the shrill morning croak of a 2 pack-a-day smoker before her first cigarette. the father did a good bit of stomping and shouting as well, but he stayed just inside the door.

at least this time the teenage son didn’t proceed to get on his motorcycle and rev it for five minutes before tearing out into the street – presumably the motorcycle has either gone into storage or been taken away since last summer.

well, at least my neighbors aren’t this bad yet.

minirant

wow. forgot entirely to update the site since i’ve been back. i do have an excuse, or three, though, since everything at work was waiting on me to get back to break or be on deadline.

yes, file server, email server, backup server, i know you missed me. no need to toss a hard drive in your excitement to see me back…

minirant

london calling :) (thanks to scott or whoever cued that up as i was leaving last week.)

well, after a full day in london – and a half day yesterday after getting off the train in york – i’m ready to adopt an accent, start wearing funny clothes, and referring to fries as “chips” on a permanent basis.

yeah, i dig london, for all the same reasons i despise manchester. there’s the tube. real punks, too. chippies and curry shops everywhere, and not just where they know there are tourists.

went to the tate modern gallery this afternoon – it was mobbed. so i came back at 7, and it was perfectly sedate and quiet, and open until 10, so i had plenty of time to savor the warhol exhibit, as well as take in most of their 2002 collection. dang this is getting long.

anyhoo, tomorrow, easter service at st. pauls, if i can manage to get in, then windsor and/or buckingham. dunno how much royal i can take :)

minirant

aye! in edinburgh noo, can nee say mooch, ahm goin oot for a wee snack of ‘aggis!

(soon thereafter, i plan to get beaten up by scottish football hooligans for my poor attempt at an accent)

minirant

manchester, in short: avoid.

manchester is a pit. a hole. a steaming abcess in the pockmarked face of the english countryside. the most nasty, dingy, overwrought, self-important and unpretty city i’ve yet to encounter. and that includes newark.

off to the lake district now, for a bit of a breather….

minirant

in wales today, doing the grand castle tour – well, only two castles, but that’s enough for one day, anyway.

i wrote a bit more, and it’s in the newest rant, so you can write back if you feel like it.

minirant

for those interested – i’m in ireland. more to come soon, i promise.

minirant

Disney is now officially out of ideas.

There have been allegations of this before (what with stealing ideas from japanese anime for years…) but Cinderella 2!? I mean, come on.

After all, the story was pretty much wrapped up at the end of the last one, or did I miss something?

minirant

considering that most movies that come out these days, or at least those with decent budgets, are preceded to market by their own soundtracks, someone ought to start selling movie soundtracks in the theaters.

catch people coming out of the theater, humming the chorus to the closing credit song, only to find that, on their way out, they can buy in on CD.

well, that’s my million dollar idea for the day. what you do with it is up to you.

minirant

please learn to speak a little english before you go out and get a job answering phones for a living.

minirant

I find it strange that among all the porn and penis enlarging email entreaties i get in my spam bucket, i also get a bunch that claim a particular
piece of software will increase the reliability and stability of Windows. (i wonder if Microsoft has heard of this?)

as if people are just as desperate for free kiddie porn and bigger cocks as they would be to have a more stable operating system.

but, as one of my friends put it, “you gotta have a stable OS in order to masturbate while you look at porn.”

good point, i suppose.

but i think my favorite is the spam email claiming their service will make it so i “NEVER RECEIVE JUNK MAIL AGAIN!

if that ain’t irony in a nutshell, i don’t know what is.

minirant

i’ve found them! the sunglasses i had in high school that i lost, the perfect sunglasses, the ones i adored and kept perfectly scratch-free, the ones that mysteriously made their way into and then just as quietly out of my life…

the big, chunky oldschool ray-bans with squarish frames, dark smoked glass, and straight earpieces.

giovanni ribisi is wearing them in the “Mod Squad” which i saw the other night on tv for the first time..

now, to see if anybody on ebay has them for sale…

minirant

well, here it is, 2002. here’s hoping it will be better than 2001.

just to give you some idea of what has changed, the first thing i did when i woke up in 2001 was turn on the TV and look for the football games and parades.

the first thing i did this morning was turn on CNN to see if anybody blew up Times Square.

minirant

so.. britney spears is not a girl? and not yet a woman? does that make her a pre-op transsexual?

minirant

christmas music is probably my favorite kind of music, and there’s nothing that really defines the “holiday” season like hearing ‘carol of the bells’ or ‘white christmas’ or, my favorite, ‘greensleeves’ in public places, the radio, everywhere. it’s comforting, in a weird ‘it’s a wonderful life’ kind of way. once a year, we get all gushy about snow, and stars, and presents…

but for crying out pete’s sake, it’s barely november!

is there not a law or something that says you can’t hang up christmas decorations until thanksgiving? or at least until you’ve had a thanksgiving display up for a week or so? cripes, the grocery store and the doctor’s office both went straight from halloween to christmas. and thanksgiving is even early this year…

minirant

dammit, apple.

i just gave you a heaping pile of my cash for a new iBook, and now you’re throwing stuff like the iPod at me.

me want. me want. me want.
no. me need.

minirant

giuliani, you moron! take the money!

minirant

Arthur C Clarke seems to think there are ‘Banyan Trees’ on Mars. okay.

I’m with you there, A.C.

I think it’s time we found intelligent life somewhere out in space, because, as Monty Python put it, “There’s bugger all down here on Earth.”

just a thought.

minirant

you all know the news. as they mentioned on the news here, now is a good time for everyone who can to donate blood.

The Red Cross website will give you more information about where and how to give blood. put your zipcode in the field below or follow this link.

minirant

it’s not a backslash, people.

when you go to a website and think it’s neato, and want to tell a friend about it, do not say “it’s suchandsuch dot com backslash somethingorother” and for God’s sake don’t go on TV and advertise your product at Sony dot com backslash music. (one hint: it doesn’t work)

it’s not a backslash

this is a backslash \

this is a slash /

see the difference? do you ever see a backslash in a web URL? no. i don’t know why anybody insists on using them both, (thanks, DOS) instead of just settling on one or the other, but get the two straight.

it’s like.. diesel and regular gas. you put the wrong kind in your car and you’re SOL.

a backslash will give you an error. a big fat 404.

minirant

today’s thought comes from the end of The Wall by Pink Floyd:

All alone, or in twos
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall
Some hand in hand
Some gathered together in bands
The bleeding hearts and the artists
Make their stand
And when they’ve given you their all
Some stagger and fall after all it’s not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger’s
Wall

minirant

here’s an idea someone can patent and make a million dollars from (who i can then sue for all he’s worth because i have prior art):

mesquite flavored propane

for those of us who own gas grills, but still want the smoky flavor of wood chips and charcoal.

minirant

FUCK OFF CODE RED!
and, while i’m at it
GO FUCK YOURSELF MICROSOFT!

damned fucking worm skulking its way around the internet, smacking around networks and generally making things completely useless in its wake…

i’ve had enough of this. my internet connection at home is boned, my server is getting overworked by all the bogus hits on port 80 coming from worm-infected servers. i’m about ready to give it up completely, go live in the woods, and communicate by shouting.

all this because of a security flaw in IIS, made possible by my favorite software vendor and yours, MicroSoft. not that i ever have a problem with them… but christ. it’s bad enough when they have to eat their own dogfood, but do i have to as well?

minirant

3 thoughts for today.

first of all, a condom will always cost less than an abortion.

second, turning off your computer tends to discourage hackers.

third, if i were a US congressman, I’d have a policy of only hiring unattractive male interns. I bet they’d get a lot more work done, and I would spend a lot less time hooked up to a lie detector if one of them were to disappear.

,

minirant

how clean can i really be getting my toilet if i’m using the toilet water to rinse it?

minirant

for me these days, sleep has become such a rare commodity that it should be traded on the stock exchange like wheat futures…

minirant

i had a thought today.. .what if there was a site that you could submit a URL and email address, and a search engine would read through all the plain text on the site, following all the links that remain onsite, checking against a standard spellchecking dictionary, and email all the resulting misspellings and questionable words to the email address.

and wouldn’t it be great if it were free, sponsored by ads.

and, heck, while it was going through the site, since it had to read through every word anyway, it could do a really thorough indexing of the site for a search engine.

nobody would have the processing power or the gumption to do all that in a single pass, would they? well, maybe google….

minirant

i think i have come to the conclusion that i am allergic to antihistamines.

minirant

never ever ever buy anything, ever, from CompUSA. ever.

i’ve tried. i can’t do it.

i have my line of credit, i have my ID, i know what i want, and i know the SKU numbers. but i still can’t seem to make a purchase for more than a silly cable without incurring the wrath of CrapUSA.

it’s like i have an entry in their customer database that’s flagged and underlined, with a note attached that says “Screw this guy, and good.”

minirant

okay, let’s say you’re visa. or mastercard. the credit card people. and you want to entice your existing customers (like me) into getting another card for some odd reason.

so you send out a mailing annoucing some premium customer club, complete with benefits and bla bla woof woof. just like any other credit card promotion someone like me (or any other schmoe on their mailing list) gets.

except this includes a check. woo.

a check for a whopping $3.25. three bucks and a quarter. what kind of incentive to open a new account is that?

and to top it off, by cashing the check, hardly worth the ink it’s printed with and the stamp used to send it (and when cashing it, you’re supposed to put your existing credit card number on the back), you’re signed up for the new card with, get this, a lower credit limit and a higher interest rate than the one you already have. sign me up!

okay, marketing geniuses. am i missing something here?

minirant

went to the chiropractor for the first time today. he told me pretty much what i expected he would: my back is all fouled up, and i should come back tomorrow for my first – of many – adjustments, with the practiced care of someone who has said the exact same thing hundreds of times.

what, i almost asked on my way out of the office, no complimentary jar of snake oil?

minirant

ignorance is bliss, but only because nobody ever asks you to do anything for them.

minirant

i don’t normally do this, but wow. new ibook from apple.

it’s not titanium (dang) but it’s a pretty sweet little subnotebook nonetheless.

now, if i had $1,499 to spend on a new laptop instead of, say, a new roof…

minirant

someone told me recently that i “talk like a writer.”

i’m not sure what that means, but it reminds me that someone once told me that my writing style was “too conversational”

go figure.

minirant

is there a more professional and business-like way to say “collossal clusterfuck”?

if there is, i don’t know one…

minirant

have you ever been surprised at someone when they thought you were something you’re quite certainly not?

i’ve posted a new rant on the topic of people meeting me and assuming i’m gay – which i’m not – and the possible reasons why.

minirant

okay, let’s look at something.

lately, the nasdaq has tanked, and the dow has dropped so drastically in the last week that it’s at its lowest point since 1989.

who was president in 1989?

i don’t think the stock market likes the Bush boys…

minirant

so, um.. what’s going on? where are the new rants?

i’ve been busy lately, and as such, none of my sites have been updated lately, with the exception of ClickHereDammit.com which is a bunch of little shockwave and flash experiments.

i’ve also been working on things that i’m actually getting paid to do (i know, it’s a stretch, but people actually pay me to do stuff for them. weird, huh?). i have some rant ideas brewing, but nothing that’s just rolling off the keys, so i’ll probably dredge a few archived rants up out of the depths to keep things fresh.

minirant

does the server seem faster to you? it should. i’ve upgraded the processor to a G3/400 and added another 128 megs of ram to the bastard.

hopefully this means more hits come from cache (RAM) and database lookups are a lot faster (G3 vs. 604).

and the whole operation only took about 5 minutes start to finish. yay.

minirant

network solutions sucks eggs.

i tried to update a domain i’m trying to transfer from one server to another, and their site told me the domain wasn’t in their database. oops!

so i called. and stayed on hold for half an hour. then, when i asked the tech support representative if she could help me, she blandly said “no”

when pressed, she told me that, in order for her to make changes to my domain, she would have to use the website, which she said, by the way, was having technical difficulties. why there was no note on the site to this effect was a question she was unable to answer. there was also no one, it seems, authorized to make the changes manually, though she said, “i can make the changes right here.” not authorized, though. bummer.

it looks like i’m going to have to recommend a different registrar to my clients, then. up to this point, i have continued to use netsol with a sense of nostalgia for the good old days when they were the only horse in the race, and because they seemed to still have their act together somewhat. oh well. time to go shopping..

minirant

so you want a website huh? great. pay somebody like me to put it together. oh? you want to maintain it? fine. learn the following simple things:

- FTP
- the concepts of local and remote
- the concept of a markup language
- backups
- redundant backups
- what the word “Cache” means

THEN go to your classes, and learn how to use your whiz-bang wysiwyg editors, and for the love of crying out Pete’s sake don’t even try to use FrontPage.

if not, i’ll have to send the Ninja Death Squad after your ass.

minirant

America’s like a shit sandwich. The more bread you have, the less shit you have to eat.

minirant

it snowed here yesterday. 2 friggin inches. in november. before thanksgiving.

how screwy is that?

on a related note, if you’re driving to work, and it snowed the night before, for the love of God scrape off your windshield! i saw so many idiots driving around town today with little or no visibility out their back or side windows, and only a little ice-free peekaboo on the front. these are probably the same people that went out last night to get bread and milk at the grocery store, lest they be stuck inside by the horrible snowstorm…

minirant

i think i just got scammed, bigtime. someone calling, claiming to be from bellsouth, was offering to sign me up for a new “business advantage” plan for my existing bellsouth account. hell, it sounded like about a million other telemarketing calls i’ve gotten before. only she had, seemingly, all the right kinds of information. she then proceeded to, i think, record my voice agreeing to a number of questions like “this is to confirm your enrollment in the bellsouth business advantage plan. say yes at the beep, followed by the pound key”

it was only when they asked me to confirm my identity by saying aloud my social security number or my date of birth that i started to get suspicious. when i did say my birthdate, the recording hung up on me and i knew something was amiss. i’ll be following up on this shortly.

minirant

well, i’m back. despite the forces of evil, disappearing busses, delayed flights and missed connections, all conspiring against my ever getting home, i’ve made it.

minirant

so, tonight’s my last night in ireland. i’ll be back on american soil again in about 24 hours. then i start saving and planning for my year abroad :)

minirant

rain. lots of it.

and on top of that, i have a creeping cold and cough. lovely day for a bus tour through the mountains and lakes of county Clare.

minirant

the people here are friendlier than even i thought they might be to an american. even the other americans here on holiday are perfectly willing to chat you up in the pub, give you a lift to the next town, or change their plans to accomodate a good conversation and a pint for their trouble. i think i just might stay. i’m almost crazy enough (and a good enough driver) to take people on the wild minibus tours of inis moor…

minirant

still in ireland. in galway tonight, according to the “New Plan” (which will change again, i’m certain, before i’m done). I love the pubs here, where they can, when asked “what do you have on draught?” with a straight face and all certainty say, “Everything.”

trains are the way to go, if you ask me, and i know you didn’t, but i thought i’d say it anyway.

minirant

well, i made it to dublin. oddly, i ran in with a bunch of crazy italians. don’t ask.

minirant

it seems that i’m working only to be able to afford to take vacation. something is wrong with that.

minirant

I’m a consultant. I don’t do the things i recommend. I just recommend them.

minirant

so, you’re out there, roaming the world “searching for yourself”

did you ever stop to think who was conducting the search?

minirant

have you ever had one of those days when you really really needed a vacation?

have you ever had one of those days when you just needed a tall building and a high powered rifle?

minirant

insomnia sucks, except that it keeps giving me these great rant ideas that i’ll eventually share with (all 4 of) you. it’s just that they keep coinciding with these brutal electrical storms…

minirant

imagine a world where you woke up one day and everything was upside down. the TV in your living room was upside down, people on the street were upside down, nothing was right. everywhere you went, signs and streets and cars and trees were all upside down. and no matter how often you told people to turn themselves right side up, they only gave you funny looks.

how stupid would you feel if it took you forever to realize you were the one walking on your hands?

minirant

what is the world coming to when real terra cotta planters are $20 apiece, and the plastic, fake terra cotta planters are twice as expensive?

minirant

say what you will about my redneck lawnmower, but it puts a hurtin’ on some weeds.. er.. grass :)

minirant

woo! i’m finally back online, and how! cable modem was installed this morning (note to time warner/road runner: when i say ‘the installer needs to call me before he gets here or else he’ll get lost’ and you reply ‘we don’t do that’ it looks really bad for you when you call me and tell me the installer got lost, and that you have him on the other line.)

now i can rant at ~92k/sec (which is the highest peak i’ve seen so far.) this is sweet

minirant

someone once said, and it has been oft repeated, that a coat of paint covers a multitude of sins. they were probably do-it-yourself-ers, and likely catholic.

and it’s true, especially if your sins include being a halfassed do-it-yourself-er, like myself, or, also like myself, being a naive first time homebuyer, and you purchased the house from a pair of half-assed do-it-yourself-ers.

painting still sucks.

minirant

woohoo! i’m now officially a homeowner!

moving still sucks.

minirant

for those of you that cared to ask (all none of you) i’m feeling much better now that i’ve been freebasing antibiotics for the last five days.

in other news, apparently Tucows has picked up the niftee-tron aggrivator for their ‘best of’ CD ROM. best of what, i wonder, but it’s still nice to see some of my floppyware widgets getting attention even when i haven’t done much on them in a while.

minirant

okay. the mailing list is up and running, and actually has subscribers (!)

if you want to subscribe, there is a little form widget at the bottom of this page. put in your email and away it goes.

i’ve realized the archive of daily minirants isn’t working as yet, but that’s okay, since the ones that are off the radar as of today are things like ‘site redesign’ and ‘mailing list coming soon.’ once i get to it, it’ll be fixed.

minirant

damn.

the little kernel notes page i put up yesterday was picked up on slashdot.org and now my plucky little server is getting hammered.

thankfully, i had the foresight to put the page up on my free mindspring webspace, in the unlikely event that my slashdot submission went through, or else you probably wouldn’t be able to read this right now :)

minirant

I have added a page at http://option8.home.mindspring.com/kernelnotes.html of some of the miscellaneous comments that appear in the Linux kernel, version 0.01 (ca. August, 1991).

Linus turns out to be quite the jokester, leaving all kinds of non-sequitirs and irreverent one-liners in the code, many of which survive today in the latest developmental releases.

I thought to archive these and share with those people who aren’t the types who go diving through ten year (gasp!) old code for kicks. Enjoy.

minirant

a gay man told me today that i have nice legs. i’m not sure how to respond to that.

minirant

oh, the joys of translating a printed annual report into a website. think about it – a book, into a website. then, of course, consider the challenge of translating a way cool annual report design – one that is taking the form of an “interactive” poster – and translating that into a website. then throw on top of all that the requirement by the client that the site be translated into 6 languages and be universally accessible – i.e. no javascript, no image-as-text (it would have to be translated), no plugins, no animation.

this is my day job.

minirant

in addition to a mild site redesign (okay, one new page) i have set up a mental hygiene mailing list for discussions, rants, and miscellanea. to subscribe, send an email to MH-subscribe@mentalhygiene.com or MH-subscribe-digest@mentalhygiene.com for digests.

once i get it all together, there should be a form to put in your email address somewhere on this page to subscribe. look for that in the next couple of days.