I consumed yesterday. I guess I just needed to get out and feel the weight of something just purchased on my arms. They haven't been exercised with much else lately, so there you go.
Well, I guess I fell for the Frankenblitz advertising campaign, and went out and got his book. I think it's very good, though it would be very difficult to properly fact-check it (the book is, after all, satire which generally leads to the fact that some of the “facts” are not true—but they're funny).
Hmm… That's all I got.
I've been seeing ‘insurgents’ pop up a lot in reports of what is going on in Iraq. Since Donald Rumsfeld was so fond of the dictionary in the ‘slogging’ incident last month, I thought I'd look up this one. A flag has just been raised in my mind that this is a different word that has been used in the past, and I'm just a little suspicious of it.
In Webster's Unabridged Dictionary from 1913 (isn't the public domain fun?) we have:
A person who rises in revolt against civil authority or an established government; one who openly and actively resists the execution of laws; a rebel
Merriam-Webster (online currently) adds:
a person who revolts against civil authority or an established government; especially : a rebel not recognized as a belligerent
For those who tend to forget the stronger meaning of “belligerent,’—like when you're not talking about kids causing trouble—I think the first definition applies (from M-W again):
waging war; specifically : belonging to or recognized as a state at war and protected by and subject to the laws of war
Now, amazingly enough, I must admit I don't know the specific state of conflict between the United States and Iraq at this point. I don't recall seeing anyone sign a document of surrender, nor do I remember a specific declaration of war (though perhaps the events of 1991 carry over to the present time). Still, I think much of the public would tend to believe we're at war over there.
Anyway, getting back to the point—I don't really think that the term ‘insurgent’ should apply to people who shoot down Chinook helicopters and bomb international agencies. I would consider the term applicable to bombings of police stations and portions of the Iraqi infrastructure. I suppose it's a thin line I'm drawing, but, uh…Okay, okay. I was bored.
Best Episode Premise Ever: MacGyver
Best Episode Ever: Lost in America
I should really open my blinds more often.
This just struck me as funny:
Usually, a picture is worth 1000 words, but this needs a little description. Here's the Associated Press text that went with it on Yahoo!
Adult film actors Ron Jeremy and Mary 'Mary Carey' Cook pose on the set of their adult film 'Run Mary Run,' Sunday, Nov. 2, 2003, in Los Angeles. The adult film is based on her actual run for California governor. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Erin mentioning that Minneapolis/St. Paul is the most fun area in the U.S. seems prescient as I have recently hatched a plan to have fun and meet women. Well, sort of.
As you may have noticed from my previous entries, I've been listening to recordings of This American Life over the last few days. I've probably listened to a few more shows than is really appropriate, but I like listening to them. There are things that I need to do, but it's a really great show, and I recommend everyone listen to it once in a while. Old recordings are online and free (though with the rate I've been downloading them lately, I figure I should put up some cash to NPR sometime soon).
I really like these stories on the show. Thinking about it a bit, I realized that I've always liked listening to stories. I usually never have anything to say, but I enjoy the simple act of listening. Most of the time, at least.
Anyway, I came up with the great idea to go and attend readings of various things around town. I haven't really gotten started on this part of the plan, though. They don't seem to happen as often as I'd like, and while I like true storytelling, I'm not sure if I'd go for poetry or anything else. Maybe plays qualify too, I don't really know.
However, the bonus that I saw was that, if these readings occur in the right places, I might have a good chance of talking to other people. Possibly even people who are interested in the same things I am, though I doubt that many admirers of intricately weaved stories are also Linux hackers by day. Still, it's better than any other opportunity I've ever seen, since I've never felt comfortable strinking up conversations with people in places where it's loud and I have to yell to be heard even face-to-face.
Well, it's just a theory, or perhaps not even that far. Some experimentation is in order, in any case. This is all I've got at the moment.
Heh. Two words: Trivial Pursuit.
You are DNA. You're a smart person, and you appear incredibly complex to people who don't know you. You're incomparably full of information, and most of it is useless.
I'll probably go see The Matrix in about 45 minutes with Adam and anyone else who happens to be available at that moment.
Yay for matinees: Cheap tickets for a big screen showing.
Oh, and I just came across this cigarette lighter, although I don't advocate smoking, especially not inside most places or near computers.
Update: The movie was good. I didn't really understand the end fight scene until Adam told me he thought it was “very Dragon Ball Z.”
I somewhat randomly came across car-part.com today. You can easily see who has parts, and what price they are. Sweet. It looks like the junkyard near my hometown has a headlight assembly for $20, which is a steal. However, there's a note that says it's off a Z24 convertible, which might be slightly different…
Around noon, I drove over to Midway and did the necessary bits to get my driver's license renewed. I was curious what the experience would be like, mostly because of the image I had in my head from movies and TV. Trips to the DMV are always portrayed as walks into hell, where citizens are tortured by infinitely long lines moving backwards. However, I've never had that experience. Things have always gone smoothly for me (well, except for those first trips where I failed at my driving exams).
Once again, I didn't have any trouble at all.
After that, I went to Borders to pick up David Sedaris' book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. This is yet another consequence of me listening to way too much NPR stuff. Anyway, I looked around for the book, since Borders' computers told me that it was in stock. In the end, I didn't find it on the shelves, but I was being lazy. I picked up another book instead, Naked, and brought it to the register.
Now, as I took it to the counter, I was thinking about what the cashier might say. A lot of this thinking centered around the fact that David Sedaris is gay, and I am not. This is just one of those annoying latent prejudices that pops up once in a while because I grew up in a small town where the population was 99.8% white, and I didn't know anyone who was “out.”
In the end, I decided it was stupid to worry about it, and the cashier probably wouldn't mumble anything more than a few grunts at me anyway.
“Find everything okay?” she parroted.
“Yep.” I wanted to say no. I nearly piped up and mentioned that I was really looking for the other book. However, I'd been lazy. It was all my own damn fault for not finding everything okay.
“Have you read Me Talk Pretty One Day?” she asked as I handed her my money. “I thought it was hilarious.”
Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. She figured me out, sort of. I almost said, “Uh, yeah, that was the book I was really looking for,” but that would just reveal my true plan. Obviously. I stammered something about planning to “get it soon.”
“It's great,” she replied as she handed me my change. “I even think it's better than this book”
Gah! The death blow. And the transaction was over. Oh well, at least she was cute.
I smiled and left.
Got a headlamp part for $20. We'll see how the installation goes tomorrow.
I was shocked to discover that the junkyard I found online wasn't the one I thought it was. Turns out that there are two junkyards within about a mile of each other. The one I've driven past hundreds of times, and this other one I'd never seen before because it's on a back road…
Anyway, I made it there just in time to get the part pulled out of a junked car before before the guy helping me left for the day. I felt bad for the guy since it was his birthday, and almost gave him a tip for sticking around to help me out, but my mind drifted off when we got back up to the office.
I brought home the computer that has the HDTV receiver in it, just to see what reception is like at home. It works out that six of the Cities stations have good signal strength while another two have a marginal signal. There's one more that is too weak to be decoded. Some of the other stations in the region can be picked up when we turn the antenna. A channel down in Iowa came in alright, and we picked up a station in Menominee without too much trouble. We also picked up the local NBC station, and they have a strange subchannel that carries a live “skycam” shot of Rochester. Ooo. Thrilling.
Well, we proved that my family can get a digital receiver and actually pick up some channels, which is good. It's not quite as simple as the old analog system, since you can't really tell what's on channels that the antenna isn't pointed directly at. Therefore, it's not really possible to randomly come across something interesting on another channel and then move the antenna to improve reception. Oh well. I suppose the clarity of the video makes up for that…
Replaced the headlight today. It's semi-aligned: my dad and I got it vertically lined up, but I think I should probably fiddle a bit to shift the beam a little more to the left. Then again, maybe having one light pointed more to the side of the road is the better way to go in deer season…
We also did a little work to bend the hood back towards it's original shape, though I'm not sure how successful we were. There's not much more that we amateurs could do.
Did some more HDTV signal testing today. Unfortunately, it looks like the reception is much poorer during the daytime.
This morning, I watched a paid commercal program on an Iowa channel starring—wait for it—Howard Dean! Having lived in Minnesota all my life, I hadn't noticed the repercussions of being in one of those lucky states where they have Presidential primaries. Minnesota selects candidates through caucuses instead. (Heh. Caucus. Makes me think of the Simpsons episode where all of the kids get stuck at school because of snow.) I'd hate to have to sift through many half-hour paid ads…Hmm. Kind of reminds me of Ross Perot.
Coming back, I drove a different way to Minneapolis today. I usually go up some back roads to meet up with U.S. 52 to take me to St. Paul, but I had been reminded that there are some windmills just a few miles west of my hometown. Since I hadn't seen them yet, I went west on U.S. 14 toward Owatonna, where I'd take I-35 north.
I was expecting just a few windmills, thinking that the most I'd see would be about five. Amazingly enough, there were at least five times that many all out on this one stretch of flat farmland. I imagine it might be difficult to build too many more out there, since it's right next to a civil airport.
This morning, I read a story in the paper talking about the legislature changing the definitions of “renewable” energy sources. Apparently natural gas is a renewable resource now—not entirely false, since it can be captured from manure and garbage heaps, but still a pretty screwy concept. Coal is also considered to be “clean,” even though the best you could say of it is that it's “cleaner,” but it depends on what you're comparing…
Anyway, the story goes that we might not see new windmills and other “green” energy sources pop up as much, since the government support is getting whittled away.
I randomly visited Drive 105's website today and noticed that they have a Just Played page, providing a way to see what song is on, or anything that has been on in the last several hours. Except, well, it's broken.
I remember suggesting a feature like this to one of the stations in the Cities a few years ago, but I don't think it ever got implemented. I can't remember which station it was, but I think it was back when 104.1 was the semi-alternative station in town.
I usually like Drive 105 the best, although don't like all of the music they play (if I hear that “Red Light” song one more time…). Also, I really wish I could get some consistent reception of the station.
Which brings me to two obligatory points: First, why doesn't Time Warner carry MTV2 all day long? It is arguably a “local” station, since you can pick it up over the air on channel 13 (a remnant of The Box). Second, I used to really like 93.7 when it was The Edge, in between phases of being 93X. Perhaps that day will come again.
So, I got sucked into watching parts of the episode of Average Joe that was on last night. This, for three reasons:
Still, I knew weeks ago when the commercials started that this whole show was based around some Hollywood producer's contrived version of “average”—but that's to be expected, since normalcy is the enemy out on the west coast.
In the end, I just ended up being reminded why I don't like reality shows. I'm not a fan of competition in general, and the regular appearance of new events that just create more conflict does not make me enjoy myself. Rather, I felt like I do whenever I see one of these dating shows, almost as though some crime against humanity is unfolding before me on the screen. And it's weird—I think I had a stronger reaction to that show than I would have had toward an emotional documentary of the Jewish Holocaust.
It was such a visceral experience that I ended up skipping over most of it. In many ways, it was too much like a Very Special Episode of a network sitcom (I'm so glad that those don't happen very often anymore).
Anyway, I'd rather that NBC just took that girl and filmed her running around on the beach for a few hours. (Heck, they wouldn't even have to record much video in the first place, since they'd probably play it all back in slow-mo anyway.)
Yeah, in the end, it turns out that I'm kind of shallow. Not completely shallow, but sorta-kinda. The payback for that is that the “perfect” girlfriend I have in my head has a set of qualities that guarantees that she will have no interest in me whatsoever. That's certainly how it's worked out so far.
Heh. The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court got kicked out of office over that whole Ten Commandments thing. Well, technically, it looks like he got kicked out for failing to comply with court orders to remove them. I'm pretty amazed that he got kicked out—and in Alabama of all places.
I'm glad he's out of office, though I imagine he'll be kicking and screaming for years to come.
Heh. An interesting interview:
Ira Glass: […] Are you watching Smallville?
The Onion AV Club: No. Is it good?
IG: No. I have to say, this season I haven't gotten on the chain, because last season it moved so slowly. Occasionally, you get a show like that as an adult, where you find that you do want to watch each week, even though you don't like it. I never realized it until this conversation, but for me, Smallville is that show. While I'm watching it, I'm constantly saying “Get to something interesting! Be good!” My girlfriend watches it because she thinks the whole point of the show is this homoerotic thing that the writers are doing with Lex and Clark. They're constantly staring into each other's eyes and giving each other looks. She's watching basically for the hot boy-on-boy action. Then she'll say, “Why are you watching?” and my actual answer is an answer that a 12-year-old would give, which is “He's got superpowers! He can fly!”
Heh. I like this quiz:
If you could fly, what would you do first?
- Do flips in the air
- Throw stuff at people
- Pretend like you were going to jump off a building just to freak people out
- See how fast you could go
- See how high you could go
I think I'm going to go see Shattered Glass sometime this weekend. Love Actually looks really good, but considering the rather limited experience I've had with romance, I have to carefully ration movies like that. Master and Commander didn't really interest me at first, but the level of accuracy it has is supposed to be pretty amazing, so I'll have to see that in a theater sometime. On the other side of things, Looney Tunes: Back in Action definitely seems like a rental. I'll also probably see Timeline when it comes out, though hopefully it carries more weight than merely being written by Michael Crichton.
I've mostly been catching up on my Deep Space Nine viewing over the last few days. Unfortunately, disc 2 of season 5 has some defects so I can't play the third episode on that DVD. I suppose I can take it to Best Buy and see what they say, although I don't have a receipt anymore. Otherwise, I suppose I can call Paramount.
Hmm. Since my first chance to do anything is a Sunday, I guess I'll just see what the Best Buy folks say, then follow up on anything else on Monday.
Hmm. Finished season 6 of DS9. I think that's got to be the best season (well, unless 7 is better). The Klingon wedding alone is pretty awesome.
Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that I've only watched DS9 episodes when I've been unemployed. Hopefully this means that I will find a job soon, since the last season will be released in about two weeks.
About 2 years ago, I had a wish list for three things which would make me really happy.
Not long after I constructed the list, it was announced that Vanilla Coke was going to be released. Also, DS9 started to be played on channel 9. However, that was just before that whole “Make the Switch” fiasco that everyone in the area of Minneapolis would prefer to purge from their memory. The show was taken off the air after just a few weeks when the UPN and Fox channels switched.
I was really disappointed to see the show go away so quickly, but by that time, episodes of Next Generation were being sold, and it didn't take long to realize that DS9 was going to be released throughout 2003.
So, perhaps I will finally have luck with number 3 on my list. We'll see.
Hmm. I should really borrow the last few seasons of Next Gen from Dan at some point. But, I think I'll have to wait a while to continue that—My monthly quota of Star Trek has already been greatly exceeded ;-)
I'm pretty sure that the change of government in Iraq is going to follow a similar pattern to what has usually happened when the United States has deposed someone in power in hopes of creating a new ally. There's a guy named Ahmed Chalabi that has been pulling strings for over a decade, trying to convince the rest of the world to get rid of Saddam Hussein. He was one of the most important members of the Iraqi National Congress, a sort of government-in-exile that actually existed in the UK, but supposedly spoke for the Iraqi people. About 10 years ago, Chalabi formed a friendship with current Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who was a professor at the time.
Through the years, Chalabi brought forth all sorts of information about what was going on inside Iraq. However, much of the information is sketchy at best, even though some governments took it at face value. Wolfowitz eventually came into a position of power, and was preaching the story his friend was telling. I don't know exactly why Wolfowitz liked the story so much, but I believe he had his own reasons for wanting to get rid of Hussein, and Chalabi's stories were good at convincing people.
Of course, we now see the end result of all of that campaigning: Iraq is now occupied by the U.S., and Chalabi is a prominent member of the transitional government there.
The thing that concerns me is that Chalabi doesn't seem to be an entirely ethical man. There are allegations of fabricated evidence regarding chemical and nuclear weapons. He supposedly has a criminal past. Yet, he is widely seen to be a likely candidate to head any new Iraqi government. They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Considering that Chalabi is already a bit iffy, I imagine we'll see a new example of that truism in no time.
According to a study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, only 20% of the viewers of Fox News Channel are in touch with reality. In fact, none of the commercial TV news outlets can claim that over half of their audience knows the truth: CBS rates 30%, ABC 39%, and NBC and CNN are tied at 45%. Print media works out to 53%, and people who tune in to NPR and PBS rate at 77%.
Okay, it's wrong to say that these people are totally in touch with reality, but they did manage to correctly determine three things:
Anyway, there's more info in this poorly HTML-ized press release. Here's a nicer table of the data from that page:
|Network||No Misperceptions||One or More|
I guess a big police chase ended right in front of University Village today. Channel 5 was “on the scene” a few minutes ago—which is hardly an accomplishment for them, considering the fact that their studios are just up the road.
I'm curious how the police forces of Minneapolis and St. Paul interact in a case like that. There was some video showing some St. Paul squad cars pretty banged up from crashing into the car being chased, but the place where the chase ended was most definitely in Minneapolis.
I'm a bit late on this, since I was watching TV shows on DVD all last weekend. Trek fans should be aware that Patrick Stewart was on WWDTM, and had a very funny conversation before doing his duty on that show and answering some questions.
Will someone please explain to me who the hell watches King of the Hill? I mean, watching Hank say “propane and propane accessories” the first few times was fun, but it got boring pretty early on…
I sent a note to Drive 105 telling them that 105.7 seemed to have a poor left-right balance when compared to 105.1 and other stations in the Cities. Seems to be fixed now, though I have no idea if I caused them to check or what…
I didn't go to any movies this weekend. Dunno why I failed to do that, though it was probably the snow. I'm not sure if we even got 2 inches—I can see a few tips of the blades of grass in front of my building.
I got myself a George Foreman grill sometime last week. I can cook ground beef without setting off the smoke alarm! Yay! I've also cooked some No Name Steaks on it. They're tiny, but pretty good. I've tended to cook some onions or peppers at the same time, which usually turns out alright.
Hmm. My car has needed an oil change for about a month. Good thing I haven't been driving! Hah!
Oh boy. That's an Alf-worthy knee-slapper… Anyway, hopefully I'll do that tomorrow, probably along with some laundry.
Oh, before I forget—I just loved being awakened at 2:45 this morning because of the Suburban plowing the driveway across the street. My lonesome self seems to be getting more and more paranoid, 'cuz each time I wake up because of new late-night noises I keep thinking, “Aw crap, the world's coming to an end.”
Arr! I'll be a quarter century old this Saturday. Arr!
Despite I Love the 80s and I Love the 80s Strikes Back, I remain unconvinced that the 80s didn't suck musically.
I think the 90s sucked less, but I suppose that remains to be seen.
Well, if Rotten Tomatoes is any guide, Timeline will suck. So far, the reviews are not good.
Today, I forgot about the pledge I'd made myself to avoid letting employees of oil change places do anything more than change the oil and do a few other things that don't require much mechanical know-how. The guy who talked to me mentioned that the serpentine belt was cracked, and I knew that this had been mentioned before by another service place in Rochester over a year ago. So, I had them replace it.
They replaced the belt, and took a long-ass time to do it. When I got in my car to leave, I noticed a weird rattling when the engine first revved right after starting. As I left the parking lot, I thought I heard a squeaking noise over the radio. The car kept making little chirps and squeaks as I accelerated from stoplights and turned corners on my way home.
For some reason, I'm paranoid about the automatic transmission in that car, so my first thoughts were along the lines of, “what the hell, did they drain fluid from it?” However, as soon as I pulled into the apartment's parking lot and popped the hood, I could tell that the problem was much more fundamental—and much more logical.
The new serpentine belt was vibrating like crazy. I was pretty amazed that it didn't come flying off the engine. This seemed to be the problem, though I guess I was still giving the guys who worked on my car the benefit of the doubt for a while. However, I had the thought that I've heard about belts causing screeching noises, so I called my dad to confirm my suspicions. Actually, he seemed a tiny bit skeptical at first, but he convinced me to do what I was going to do anyway—go back and have them fix what they broke.
So, most of my afternoon ended up being spent at Jiffy Lube. Not the best day I could have asked for…
The neighbors upstairs started making noise at about 5:00, and managed to produce a fairly constant rumble for about three hours. That's a start to a great day. Oh yeah.
Today, the fire department is supposed to come by to make sure my apartment is not explosively flammable. However, I have no idea when they're planning to come—probably exactly a minute after I decide to take a shower.
Welp, better get it over with, then.
I don't think I've seen an image more deserving of a caption contest for a long time:
“That's a mighty funny looking doggy!”
Home for Thanksgiving. I-94 sucked, but I suppose half an hour from Centennial Hall (where I picked up my brother) to Highway 52 isn't too bad. We have some snow falling now, have to see how that piles up. Anyway, I'm mostly putting something down because of an anecdote my mom had.
Back when IBM introduced a no-smoking policy at the Rochester plant, people were forced outdoors, like anywhere else. The funny thing is that with so many people milling around outside, there were more eyes on the big parking lots there, and car thefts went down. I suppose this is a well-known thing in smoker-dom, but it was news to me…
My family usually does Thanksgiving as a late lunch served around 1:00. I think this has traditionally been the time since it just would take that long to cook the friggin' turkey. However, the advancement of technology—in the form of convection cooking—has made this long established practice an unnecessary exercise in fasting.
The food was good, although the gravy was a bit thin. Oh well, can't always get everything to turn out right.
I was shown the comics from this past weekend. Opus is back. Too bad the strip isn't online anywhere. I'll have to start buying the paper or something.
We all went to see Master and Commander this evening. Perhaps not the best choice for Thanksgiving Day, but not a bad escape from all the sappy “news” reports and specials on TV.
Friggin' God damn piece of…Gaargh!
Why the hell doesn't Win98 have a simple generic USB mass storage device driver?
Stupid operating system.
Too much of my day was spent purchasing and then returning a humidifier. The main water reservoir leaked, so we had to take it back.
We all went out to see Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which was reasonably entertaining. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse. I don't think it was marketed properly to the movie distributors, though—the only showings in Rochester are matinées. The movie is plenty good for adults, so it's pretty dumb to not run it at night.
For my birthday haul, I got a strange automatic cheese grater thing, a DVD of Office Space, a set of Season Two of Futurama (which I may already own, but I got the gift receipt for that), and a toolbox with some miscellaneous sockets and stuff in it—mostly intended for car repairs, I guess.
And money. Can't go wrong there.
Oh yes, be ready to play your favorite durge at 10:30 tonight—that's when I'll officially be 25. Yay.