Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Doctor Zhivago

Wow. I was just watching Kid Notorious before The Daily Show starts, and there was a reference to Omar Sharif. Then, when the show went to commercial, I was channel-surfing and saw Omar Sharif on The Late Late Show. That's messed up. It's amazing he's not dead yet ;-)

The other thing I wanted to mention, the term “self-aggrandizing” seems to be having a pulse of popularity. It's a popular phrase on the audio commentary for The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Posted by mike at 11:57 PM | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Deep Space Crap

Aaagh! I went to Best Buy to pick up a DVD collection of some sort (I wasn't sure which series I wanted to continue purchasing at that moment). To my horror, I discovered that they must have gotten a new shipment of season 4 of Deep Space Nine when season 7 came in: the season 4 set had the bonus DVD!

I'm so pissed. My timing is always awful, and this just proves it yet again. Last month, I gave in and purchased a season 4 set, since I ended up being fairly convinced that they weren't going to release any of that season with the bonus disc. Yet, here I am, just a few weeks later, discovering that no matter how patient I become, I'm apparently never patient enough. Of course, the moment that I become more patient, I discover that I missed out on something that required quick action.

My luck is just bad enough to slowly torture me.

Posted by mike at 01:25 PM | TV | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 4, 2003

Heil Evans

Another weird Kid Notorious moment: I turned on the TV, which had randomly landed on channel 75 last night (one of the public access channels). This evening, I turned it on to see a Nazi flag. Turning to Comedy Central, I see a midget version of Hitler driving onto the screen in a tiny car. Apparently Robert Evans was taking down some weird neo-Nazi conspiracy that was trying to annihilate the Jewish conspiracy. This all involved him wearing a Gestapo uniform, of course. Very strange.

Ah, to live in 2003, where Hitler is a bad punchline.

Posted by mike at 12:01 AM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Quotarama

Really, I've got nothing, but I have some random quotes and things that have slowly accumulated around my computer.

O cruel fate
To be thusly boned
Ask not for whom the bone bones
It bones for thee
—Bender, Futurama
I may not do much on this planet, but David Blaine showed me I could do less
—Lewis Black, commenting on David Blaine's London stunt
September 11th was a faith-based initiative
—not sure, possibly Al Franken

Saturday, December 6, 2003

The Four Horsemen

I went to see Elf. I felt I could use a laugh. It was good and funny, but I really get sick of seeing the main characters falling in love in every single fucking movie I see. I'm 25 years old now, and I still haven't managed to have a plot like that run through my own life.

And, Oh! I just can't wait until Christmas. I'll get to drag my grandpa (well, step-grandpa because he married my widowed grandma 10 or 15 years ago) out of the nursing home again. Seeing his droopy face and helping him slouch along the walk in front of my grandma's house won't dampen my spirit at all! I do this out of pride, not because I have to. I'm not wishing, every moment I'm out there, that I have a beautiful, smiling girlfriend back home, waiting for me with a twinkle in her eye and ready to wash away my worries. Psh! Who needs that when you've got a cancerous old man wheezing as he falls over in his seat!

Yes! This will surely be the best Christmas ever!

Posted by mike at 10:31 PM | Family , Movies , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 8, 2003

What the World Needs Now Is More Flying Elvi

Saw Shattered Glass yesterday at Har-Mar. I guess I was expecting something a little more engaging. I was amazed at how quiet the movie was—too many times where I had to be conscious of how loudly I was chomping on my popcorn.

I see Bubba Ho-Tep is playing at the Uptown, I'm surprised that I haven't seen anyone mention it. I suppose everyone who cares saw it already.

meh

Posted by mike at 04:07 PM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Certified Circumcised Dick

So, The Hebrew Hammer was on Comedy Central last night. Of course, being raised a gentile, a lot of the humor probably went right by me, but it was still really funny. I guess the movie is going to run in theaters soon, which is pretty weird. I'm sure it's been floating around the independent theater circuit for quite a while—IMDB has comments dating back to July 2002.

It'd almost be worth seeing in the theater just to see what was cut off on the sides of the screen (I thought the pan and scan job was pretty poorly done), plus then you could listen to all of the swearing ;-) But, since I still managed to see most of the movie, I think I'll just wait to rent the DVD…

One weird thing was noticing that one of the characters was played by Peter Coyote. I don't know if I've ever actually seen him in anything before—he's much better known as an announcer voice. So, if you finish the movie and suddenly have an intense desire to get an Audi (not sure if he does ads for them, but maybe), you'll know why.

Posted by mike at 11:57 AM | Comedy , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Nice Rear

Heh.

There is a Kiester, Minnesota.

Funny.

Posted by mike at 12:47 AM | Comedy | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Not Endorsed By Any Celebrities

Ugh. It's amazing how days can go by too fast and too slow at the same time.

A few weeks ago, while the Sun was doing all sorts of strange contortions with energized particles, I signed up for a site that would e-mail me when there is a good chance of the aurora showing up. I thought the thing was broken or something, but I finally got a few messages last night. Too bad it was snowing at the time.

It'd be cool to see the aurora this year. Not as cool as certain other things would be, but hey…

Posted by mike at 02:35 PM | Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 11, 2003

The Inky Blackness of Space

Hmm. It's 7° outside. Supposed to go below zero tonight. Although, I suppose that the colder weather might indicate that there's less cloud cover holding in heat. Everyone remembers that episode of Bill Nye, right?

Heh. I wonder if his show is available on DVD ;-)

Posted by mike at 04:19 PM | TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, December 12, 2003

It Was Mrs. Peacock!

Ngah! Return of the King clocks in at 3 hours, 20 minutes. That's too damn long. It has 12 different endings. That's fucking annoying.

I don't plan on seeing that movie until those things are fixed.

Posted by mike at 09:30 AM | Movies | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Name Your Price

Heh. Apparently, I'm a drug dealer (okay, prescription drugs). And Canadian. Who'd've thunk it?

Bah. Way too many Mike Hickses in this world. At least my name isn't Ben Johnson.

Update: Ack! Two in one day—I'm just listening to a guy named Mike Hicks from the JPL playing Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. So weird.

Posted by mike at 08:46 AM | Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toon Time

Two completely unrelated comics:

Doonesbury

Posted by mike at 09:20 AM | Comedy , Politics , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I'm a Lumberjack, and I'm Okay

Well, country songs are certainly…inspired…this year:

Tracy Byrd scored this year with “Ten Rounds With Jose Cuervo” and “Drinkin' Bone.” Other big 2003 hits include Toby Keith and Willie Nelson's “Beer for My Horses,” Keith's “I Love This Bar,” Joe Nichols' “Brokenheartsville” and Alan Jackson & Jimmy Buffett's “It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.”

Posted by mike at 02:20 PM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Somewhere Between San Diego and Green Bay Lies the Town of Dullsville, USA

Wandered over to Dan & Erin's place after having a late lunch at Panera. I was bored, and I knew that I'd just be climbing up the walls in my apartment. Of course, I ended up staying pretty bored once I arrived because Erin and Spike were watching the Packers-Chargers game, which seemed to be moving really slowly to me. But, then again, football is almost always boring to me—even years of playing in the band at football games has not changed that. Still, Spike dozed off once or twice, so I suppose I fit in today…

In my boredom, I basically wandered into the mantra of “I wish I had a girlfriend,” though I don't know if I would have been any less bored if I did have one… I also had the strange thought that the girl I had a crush on in high school was going to suddenly burst in with Dan and the others who were out. That would have been a wacky scene, but it never happened. I just stayed bored, ate an apple/cinnamon muffin, tried to keep Elvis away from food he's not supposed to eat, and gagged whenever Erin flipped back to the “Bible Code” show that was on the History Channel.

I stayed for The Simpsons (which was pretty good, since it made fun of a lot of TV Christmas specials of the past) and then headed home. All in all, meh.

Posted by mike at 08:24 PM | Dan , Erin , Spike , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Flying Virii

Heh, don't worry if you didn't get a flu shot this year. There's a good chance it won't work anyway.

Isn't mutation wonderful?

Posted by mike at 08:40 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 15, 2003

Uvula of Mass Destruction

Heh. The Daily Show made this joke today too.

Posted by mike at 10:59 PM | Daily Show , Politics , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Breakin' the Law

Ended up spending most of my day playing FreeCraft, a free WarCraft clone. I guess the original project has fallen under a cease and desist order by Blizzard, but it seems to still be in Debian's software tree (or maybe I just have an old copy).

Seems to be a pretty good implementation, though it seemed slow on my machine, which is better than ten times faster than the old system I played on back in freshman year.

*sigh*

Posted by mike at 09:16 PM | Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

I'm a Dapper Dan Man

I think today is the day for me to get a haircut. I should probably get it cut every 4-6 weeks, but procrastination usually takes hold and I double that on a regular basis. We'll see if I can get it cut in a way I like. The last time I went, the stylist said I should say, “Number 4 and blend it on the back and sides.”

Aagh! I played FreeCraft again, and now I see images of footmen, peasants, and farms whenever I blink. This may be one reason why I don't play video games all that often. When I forst got the original SimCity, I remember falling asleep to images of buildings with little flashing lightning bolts on top, indicating they didn't have any electricity.

My brain must be lacking interesting input these days (not surprising). Last night, I watched Celebrity Poker Showdown which had Nicole Sullivan (from Mad TV), Hank Azaria, and some other people I didn't know. Later, I had a dream of the voice of Hank Azaria—Not Hank Azaria himself, or any of the characters he plays, just a unembodied voice.

Of course, that's just another datapoint showing that my dreams just tend to be weird. Why they can't be about things that I want (like women), I'll never know. Why didn't my brain pick Nicole Sullivan? Why didn't it flash back to the clip I saw of Keri Russell in some random movie on KSTC? How about Jodie Foster on the night I saw Silence of the Lambs?.

Bah.

Posted by mike at 01:50 PM | Movies , Self , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Hey Ya, Hey Ya

So, apparently there is such a thing as “booya.” I've got a feeling that that is not the right spelling, though. I randomly came across an article in the Pioneer Press talking about “booya kettles,” which apparently pose a big fire hazard. The article says that the kettles are used for preparing a “stew-like dish,” so maybe the word comes from “bouillabaisse.” Except, that seems to be a seafood dish…

Hell, I don't know. It just seemed odd to see the word used to describe something real rather than a nonsensical bellow from R. Lee Ermey.

Posted by mike at 11:27 AM | Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Waki

Cool. There is now a Wikibooks project for creating online textbooks. I always wanted a searchable, hyperlinked reference for my classes :-) Too bad I'm not in school anymore :-p

I really think that the creation of Wikipedia (as well as, of course, the concept of a Wiki itself) will be considered a signature moment in the history of the Internet along with the formation of the big sites like Google and Yahoo! I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up being recognized as a great moment in the history of the written word, much like the Gutenberg Bible.

Okay, that might be overstating it a bit, but only a little bit…

Posted by mike at 05:18 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, December 19, 2003

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

Okay, I'm a few days late…

Posted by mike at 01:06 AM | Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scorched Silicon

Well, yesterday I got around to fixing my MythTV setup, which had been broken for a couple of weeks. Really, the only thing that was broken was the utility that downloads the TV listings. However, I was also getting annoyed with the system because it seemed to be getting more and more flaky when I'd record and play video. Unfortunately, this is actually due to some trouble communicating with my external FireWire hard drive.

Every time I do a filesystem check, the drive spits out new errors. I'm not sure if this is because the drive is baked, the controller in the FireWire enclosure is broken, or if the actual 1394 card is broken. Heck, it could even be a bad cable for all I know. I should have stolen a pile of them from Adaptec when I had the chance ;-)

Anyway, I had that other computer in my bedroom that is meant to eventually be an HDTV tuner box, but I hadn't been playing with it for a while. Turns out, it makes a pretty decent replacement for my FireWire drive. I just had to turn on NFS sharing, and things work great.

Hmm. I suppose I could rip the drive out of my 1394 enclosure and put it in that machine, but with my luck the drive is toast.

Posted by mike at 04:21 PM | Hardware , MythTV , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Shattered Glass

Does this work?  Didn't think soOkay, I'm a week late on this one. It turns out that, while Bush was making a statement about the capture of Saddam Hussein, a technician at CNN flipped the wrong switch and put a test message on the screen. Found the image here.


Update 12/21 3:26 AM: Whoa. Maybe we didn't actually capture Saddam. Well, we did, but he may have already been captured. Maybe. Then again, it must be true, since it's 3:26.

Posted by mike at 12:38 PM | Comedy , Politics , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 21, 2003

A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants

Heh. Here's another week-late entry. Paul Magers finished 20 years working at KARE TV on the 12th, and they have a sappy goodbye story. I only mention it because he's been around so long. Only a handful of on-screen personalities have worked in the Twin Cities for that long, and certainly no one has occupied the anchor desk for that much time (except Diana Pierce, who came to Ch. 11 with Mr. Magers).

I really respect the abilities of Paul Magers a lot. I always liked the way he delivered the news much more than any of the other anchors I'd see. There are rumors that he may get pushed up the chain at CBS (he's going to KCBS in California) and end up on the national newscasts, which could be really good. In my opinion, he's better than all of the national anchors I know of, though Peter Jennings is darn close.

Hmm. Actually, I think that if you take away the paradigm of silliness on The Daily Show, Magers and Jon Stewart seem to have fairly similar deliveries. Maybe that explains why I like that show so much…

Anyway, we in Minnesota will have to peek in on what he's doing out there in California every so often. I get the feeling that the Los Angeles market is still stuck in the clutches of cheap shock journalism. Maybe he can snap them out of it, but I guess I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Actually, from what I've heard, the Twin Cities' news departments are pretty good. I suppose it's an effort to break any ideas that people might have gotten from watching Mary Tyler Moore. I still think they could be a lot better (for instance, the last time I was home, we watched BBC World News on a PBS station, and saw a report from Minnesota, talking about stuff my parents hadn't really heard of).

Well, I hope things go well out there for him.

Posted by mike at 11:26 PM | Daily Show , News , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, December 27, 2003

The Odyssey

I have returned from my extra-short Christmas excursion. I did some preparation on the 22nd, and then moved my car over to Dan and Erin's on the 23rd and finished up packing in time for my family to pick me up. We had White Castle for lunch, since my Dad has fond memories of it from Louisville, and then headed out. About 100 miles from Fargo, I took over driving, which was your average boredom until about 10 minutes in when we drove into a fogbank.

It was very strange—we could see weird clouds up ahead, and then we were in it after going over a few hills. We all expected the fog to disappear pretty quickly, but the rest of our journey was embedded in a haze. It was nearly sunset when we hit the fog, which may have explained the variations in color I saw. Off in the distance, the fog would cycle through faint red, orange, and blue.

I was anticipating that the fog would suddenly coalesce into something heavier where I wouldn't be able to see anything, but it never happened. I could see far enough almost all of the time, so I didn't need to slow from the speed limit of 70. We ended up making good time and arriving a little early.

Christmas Eve wasn't too busy. We visited my step-grandfather in the nursing home before going to church. I wouldn't have minded the service, except for the fact that PowerPoint has invaded Pontoppidan Lutheran Church in Fargo. The sermon was accompanied by fill-in-the-blank comments projected onto a screen down in front. Whenever the pastor got to the right moment, the appropriate words would fly across the screen and land in the blank spaces.

Weird. Just weird.

We had our traditional baked ham, baked potato, mashed rutabaga, corn, and “green stuff.” Green stuff is a concoction of green Jell-O, cottage cheese, and a white whipped substance of some kind (either whipped cream or whipped egg whites). It's a tradition that my Mom and her siblings enjoy, but I guess I've never really tried it…

Finally, we ended up at the time to unwrap presents. I got A Man, A Can, A Plan, a spatula (not to be confused with a turner), socks, a dress shirt, an air filter, Sliverado (VHS), a ZipZap racer, a Far Side calendar, a recipe box with some family recipes in it, the Indiana Jones collection with a bonus bonus DVD (I have since given the giver my previously-bought copy of the collection), and a one million candlepower spotlight.

The rest of our stay was mostly spent avoiding boredom. We had set up an RF modulator for a DVD player that my grandmother won from a magazine. We were amazed that the magazine jumped for a Sony rather than a random Wal-Mart brand. We watched one of my Indy movies, a few of the live-action episodes of The Tick (which my brother got—amazingly, it's widescreen), and some of Rocky and Bullwinkle which I got for my dad.

Before we left today, we got a few DVDs for my grandmother to try out. Hopefully the DVD player won't be too complicated for her. At least she doesn't have a hi-fi receiver and the whole shebang to worry about…

Yesterday evening, I talked to Erik on the phone. He said he was returning today, so we didn't get together to do anything. Turns out, he moved in with some of his old roommates and kept his phone number. He also apparently lost his little black book of contact info for other people, which explains why he's been so quiet (sort of). Anyway, I invited him to the big New Year's shindig, and I plan to communicate with him again in the coming days, but I guess he'll be busy during the University's experimental J-term.

7 AM to 7 PM. Blech.

Anyway, I'm back now. My car survived, and all of the stuff that's supposed to be in my apartment is here. Except, perhaps, for my cable bill…

Posted by mike at 08:28 PM | Erik , Family , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, December 28, 2003

I Still Need to Learn Ebonics

I was amused when this little report came on the radio yesterday. Now, why the hell did it take me until now to figure out that the song is by Outkast? Stupid MTV2 and their unreadable font in that Sims segment… Of course, Outkast is normally on my shit list, so I wouldn't have believed it if I'd read it…

Here's another page to access the story, in case my previous link didn't work right.

Posted by mike at 11:26 AM | Music | Comments (10) | TrackBack

It's Okay, I Had Subway

Wow. It's hard to track down real numbers, but these should be in the right ballpark:

250 to 500 gallons of ethanol can be produced per acre of corn, although 75% of that goes back into the production/refining/transport of the resulting fuel, so only 65 to 125 gallons end up as real output.

30 to 90 gallons of biodiesel can be produced per acre of soybeans, but only about 30% of that is used to actually produce the fuel, so you get 20 to 60 gallons of real output.

There are approximately 230 million cars in the U.S. I'm not sure how often they're driven, but if you assume 10,000 miles per year at 30 miles per gallon, 77 billon gallons of fuel would be used per year (that's low—we produced and imported 320 billion gallons in 2002, but that's mostly unrefined crude oil…).

If the farmers were all really lucky and got bumper crops of corn, then produced ethanol, 613 million acres would be needed, and 225 billion gallons would have been used in production.

There are only 932 million acres of farmland in this country.

Update: I haven't been able to find enough data to run numbers, but it appears that switching over to using sugar beets to produce ethanol in this area would be a beneficial move. It looks like more ethanol could be produced per acre with sugar beets, and the ratio seems to be something more like 60% used in production, leaving 40% net output.

In Brazil, which produces the most ethanol of any country, the fuel is produced from sugar cane, and the net energy output appears to be very good. Of course, sugar cane doesn't really grow up here :-p

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM | Car | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, December 29, 2003

I Am Cornholio!

I've had this happen a few times: My cell phone is sitting just in front of my secondary monitor. Suddenly, the screen starts twitching and contorting (I think it has some poor shielding). A second later, the phone rings. I wouldn't expect a cell phone signal to be strong enough to disrupt the electron gun of a CRT, but apparently it is.

This monitor has been known to twitch at other times, too. I often take it as an indicator of sunspot/solar wind activity.

Posted by mike at 08:38 AM | Hardware , Weather | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Canada. CaNaDa! Blue. BRU!

I bet you didn't have birthdays like this.

Posted by mike at 02:50 PM | Comedy | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Silence of the Lambs

Comedy Armageddon

Posted by mike at 08:35 AM | Comedy | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Phonage

One of the nice things about land-line phones is that they don't need batteries. I hate it when I forget to plug in my cell phone. I especially hate it when the battery level indicator is not giving me accurate information. Ah well…

Posted by mike at 12:17 PM | Hardware | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AOK

Hmm. Radio K is looking to increase the power of their FM transmitter. Here's a proposed coverage map (blech, PDF). I haven't been able to pick up the current signal, and that one might still be too weak.

I didn't know that the current tower is apparently broadcasting on 106.5 as KDXL during the day, and KUOM-FM (Radio K) at night when the K's signal isn't on AM. Wow, that part of the radio band is getting crowded, though. I get a weak signal from KFAI's 106.7 repeater in St. Paul, and there appears to be another signal on 106.9 or somewhere near there. Below 106.5 (or maybe it is 106.5, but I doubt it), there's some weak country station. Farther below, I pick up Drive's 105.7 signal.

Anyway, I found a note about it here, though who knows when that will move to the archive.

Posted by mike at 06:44 PM | Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack