Thursday, January 1, 2004

My Head in a Jar

So, I went to a great New Year's party—and I didn't even have to go through metal detectors or pass armed guards. Yes, indeed, my New Year's Eve was Dick Clark-free. In fact, having the only appropriate synchronized timekeeping device in the house, I had the duty of marking the countdown (it was cheap—you should get one).

I was surprised to see four DJs, as I had been told there would be only two or three. Then again, perhaps the miscalculation is due to considering Simmons a “friend” rather than a “DJ.” Anyway, they all did good work. Of course, it was also good to see Thosquanta in action, finally. I think most of the songs in the set last night could be apprecated by a not insignificant portion of the general public. So, I knew them before they were stars, sorta.

There was some food there (wouldn't have been a party without it). Some of your average snackages like cheese, crackers, and mixed nuts, but there was other stuff like Dan's peanut brittle and (Ooh! Ahh!) Ultimate brittle. Which nobody ate, of course. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Beth's artichoke dip, which was…artichokey.

I was trying to be at least moderately sociable, but it didn't quite happen. I especially thought it would be good to chat with Beth a bit, since I only run into her once every few months. Unfortunately, our attempts at conversation went downhill quickly. It has seemed in the past like we've got some weird yin-yang thing going on, but it's more likely that we don't have anything in common whatsoever ;-)

It felt in some ways like I was Mr. Faux Pas for the evening, saying and occasionally doing the wrong things. I accidentally sipped my champagne before midnight—I suppose that means a year of bad luck or something. Oh well, I balanced it all out by enjoying the music and dancing about as much as I could.

Unfortunately, my overactive sweat glands required me to cool off outside a few times. It was really disturbing to see steam rising from my shirt. That shouldn't happen! I'm not a cup of coffee!

Anyway, I guess I was surprised that we never really got many people dancing at once until the end of the evening. I thought that if I did it, more people would get going. Accounting for the fact that I wasn't drinking, I thought a bit about Cuervo Man, though lacking an imposing presence or voice myself, I have to leave the more boisterous activity to the professionals.

The drive home wasn't too bad, as I only had to dodge two police cars who had pulled people over. I dropped off one passenger, though I realize I accidentally didn't see “no turn on red” signs at least twice. I hate those things, though they do seem prudent every once in a while.

Waking up was a very elongated process today, and I did have a slight headache due to lack of sleep and blood vessels that were still constricted by caffiene. The sound of the hard drive on one of my computers clicking for several hours didn't help matters either.

Okay, that sounded a bit down, but I really did have a good time. Now I have to figure out something to do with Erik today or tomorrow before he has work and classes start up again.

Posted by mike at 03:02 PM | Adam , Dan , Erik , Erin , Kari , Music , Spike | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, January 2, 2004

Epic Novel Daily

Well, shortly after I made yesterday's post, I got a call from my mom telling me that my step-grandfather in Fargo had died. My grandmother had married him about a dozen years ago. She had originally been widowed when my grandfather died about two years before I was born. She was alone in her house for a few years after my youngest uncle left. I knew this day was coming, since my step-grandfather had been sick from prostate cancer and treatments for it. The thing I feel worst about is the fact that my grandmother is alone again, though I suppose the shock has been somewhat lessened for her since he had been in a nursing home for a couple of years.

Anyway, funeral arrangements had not yet been made, but were potentially scheduled for Saturday, meaning that I would have been headed up to Fargo today to spend the night. Since Erik was only free on Thursday and Friday this week, I was encouraged to see if he was available. I went over to his place to hang out, but also intending to have us join up with Dan at some point.

I got there as Erik and his roommate were about a third of the way through The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen. A pretty wacky movie, but what do you expect from Terry Gilliam? Oh, and a young Uma Thurman. Mmm.

When that ended, we selected Finding Nemo for the second flick of the evening. That was a good pick, since Dan hadn't seen it yet. Of course, getting Dan over to Erik's place was a small task, since the address Erik lives at in St. Paul can also be found in Minneapolis. At any rate, he brought along Laura (who Erik hadn't met) and Russell (who Erik knew from Tai Chi).

We chatted a bit, and I learned of things like Sarah's string of Ford Foci. Also, I found out that we have to wait yet another month to get a court date, but that's okay since I will now be attending a funeral on the 7th.

After that, we headed over to Annie's Parlour to meet up with Sarah and Josh. The mystery staircase was discovered hiding in plain sight due to our placement in the “smoking” section. We also had to listen to the disgusting KFC urban legend moments before Sarah and I were served our chicken sandwiches. Other than that, we had a pretty good time. Dan even had a fit of spontanaeity by putting on Laura's coat and scarf. I figured he ended up looking like a very distinguished gay bohemian, but I didn't really vocalize on that.

After that, time was spent at Dan's place, mostly watching TV (Family Guy was a really good episode last night, then we saw Jack Black and Cristopher Walken on a repeat of Conan). We also watched the video of some freaky Japanese guy beating Super Mario Bros. 3 in less than 11 minutes. I can barely pass the first level in that game ;-)

Anyway, it turns out that Erik does some of his teaching at the school right across the street from my building, so we might start seeing him more often.

Posted by mike at 01:04 PM | Dan , Erik , Family , Food , Josh , Sarah , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, January 4, 2004

Relaxen und Watchen das Blinkenlichten

Just got back from going to Ground Zero for the first time in months. The cold has kind of driven me away, and I guess I didn't know they have a coat check in the winter :-p

I didn't quite have the energy for it at first. I was really dehydrated for some reason, and I didn't hear about the outing until just before it happened so I hadn't been in the right mindset. Plus, once we got there, the video selection the DJ was playing was a little more than I had anticipated. But, it worked out, and I had a pretty good time. Toward the end of the night, Simmons was trying to get me to dance even more, but I knew that I'd probably die of hypothermia on my way home if I didn't take some time to dry off my sweaty self.

Beyond that, most of my Saturday was spent acting slightly Wikipediholic. I'm sure I'll be on to something else (hopefully job-hunting) in a few days.

Posted by mike at 02:42 AM | Internet , Music | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We Cannot Find Reverse

Heh. I've been having quite a time on Wikipedia, but I just found Memory Alpha, a Star Trek WikiWiki. The coolest thing so far: the "This Week in Trek History" line on the front page ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:16 PM | Internet , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, January 5, 2004

Dry Eye Guy

Feeling pretty dehydrated today. I might be getting sick, but I think it might be that the cold weather is finally catching up with me. Usually, when the thermometer hits the freezing mark, I get a dry throat and cold for a few days. Strangely, that hasn't happened yet this winter season. Until now, at least. 5 below? Yeah, that should do it.

I suppose things must be different this year since I spend so much time in my apartment rather than shuffling to work or classes, and the moisture level must be higher in here than it would be at the U.

Anyway, this looks like a laundry day, if washing machine hasn't disintegrated since the last time I used it…

Posted by mike at 10:23 AM | Abode , Self , Weather | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tuesday, January 6, 2004

They Couldn't Hit an Elephant at this Dist—

Uch.. Ruddy doze. I'b nod all thad sick, bud I hobe id doesn' ged worze.. Liddle feber, bud nod too bad. Mosdly jusd the doze. Thig I'll be good do go domorrow. Dow I need to fide sob fluids.

Haha. Fabous lasd words.

Posted by mike at 01:12 PM | Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, January 8, 2004

Dead Presidents

Well, my family went to the funeral service for my step-grandfather yesterday. They had a lot of people show up both from my grandmother's family and from his first wife's family. I suppose that goes to show that if you want a lot of people at your funeral, you should get divorced ;-)

So, there were lots of people I didn't know. I vaguely knew my grandfather's kids and grandkids, and there were some old friends of my grandmother who showed up that I had met at one point or another. Mostly I just stood around, then smiled and nodded when people told me I looked like my uncle (except for the lack of curly hair).

I was happy to see my aunt, who usually visits for Christmas but had decided to stay in New Mexico this year. My mom had been up in Fargo since Friday, but my dad, brother, and I just stayed Tuesday night.

Anyway, we headed home around 5 in separate cars. My brother and I were split, so we could trade off in the driver's seat with our parents. We met for supper about an hour later, and then stayed in close formation on the highway until my brother and my mom pulled off to a rest stop.

My dad and I mostly listened to NPR last night as we drove. For one of the shows, a guy who researches the loopholes in the tax system came on. There was discussion of how the people who get taxed the most are in the middle class to middle-upper class range of people earning $50-500,000 a year. Below that, people have lower taxes (which seems pretty fair to me), and above that, a lot of tricks emerge for hiding money away from tax laws. I guess my memory is getting a little fuzzy, but I think he said that there were 2400 people last year who earned an average of $170 million, and paid no taxes. Lots of other people can defer taxes for decades. They may pay the actual dollar amount that they owe, but it ends up being much less significant because of inflation.

A lot of discussion also centered around companies that use offshore tax shelters. I think people and businesses that do that are a big reason why it's hard to balance the Federal budget. The guy on the radio mentioned that Ingersoll-Rand, a company that makes jackhammers and other construction/destruction equipment has a mailbox in Bermuda that serves as their headquarters. They pay $26,000 a year in fees for that, but they don't pay any taxes on their income here. Just because it's a name I've seen a lot around campus, I was thinking of mentioning this in a letter to the editor in the Daily—I figure that contractors to the University shouldn't be supporting companies that are based offshore. I think the U already restricts contractors from using materials from certain companies that use child labor, etc., but my memory might be failing me. Companies shouldn't be punished for using equipment they already own, but I wouldn't want the money that the U spends on construction to end up on some unnamed Pacific island…

Now, today, there are a bunch of stories popping up on Google News discussing a new International Monetary Fund report telling us what we already know but often ignore—the U.S. is deeply in debt and running a large deficit. My growing opinion of many Republicans (and some Democrats, I'm sure) is that they are really anarchists in disguise. They pass laws designed to reduce the income to the Federal government and then spend more money on extravagant defense initiatives. As the guy on NPR was saying—and as the IMF is implying—eventually, the U.S. won't be able to borrow money anymore. Nobody knows when that will be or what the consequences will be, but it won't be fun. I think that a lot of things we take for granted will break down.

If you think Y2K was a scary proposition, just wait.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Blonde, Brunette, or Redhead? Decisions, Decisions

Favorite word of the day: rectenna

I'm bored. I've been bored all day. I watched some shows that my computer recorded, mostly Ned and Stacey—a show everyone forgot about when it was on, but seems to have stood up pretty well. People just didn't think Thomas Hayden Church could play a character with a brain, I guess. And hey, it's got Debra Messing. Can't go wrong there. I don't know how she manages to have so much hair on her head, but I like it. (Hmm. That might explain why I like Keri Russell too, though with straight hair she looks freakishly similar to a female friend of mine that I've known since preschool—my friend even had a penchant for sweaters :-p )

Too bad the show is on a damn women's channel. I mean, the guy on the show is a womanizing bastard (I mean that in the best way, of course ;-). At least my computer is pretty good at skipping commercials. As if I haven't seen enough ads for panty liners already in my life. Ugh. Go away! *click*

I should probably get out and do something tonight. I guess my sickness this week took a much larger toll than I thought it would. I've been pretty groggy the last few days. Hopefully I'll be feeling good tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 08:34 PM | Hardware , MythTV , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zoltar!!

Last week, Simmons was wondering where I got my Tom Hanks icon for LiveJournal. The truth is that I just searched at Google Images until I saw something I liked, which happens to be at this page from a movie site in the Netherlands. The site is in Dutch, but it appears that the image is a publicity still for Big.


Posted by mike at 10:24 PM | Internet , Movies | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Where's Doc Brown When You Need Him?

0.008 kilowatts. That's what Radio K's FM signal is. Correcting for decimal stupidity, it's 8 watts. 8! I can't even run a decent fluorescent light off that!

*sigh*

Hmm. I guess I should try to figure out how to stream Quicktime audio in Linux (and don't forget the fact that “Quicktime” is deceptively non-descriptive). I suppose it probably sounds better than Ogg Vorbis, but at least Vorbis is natively supported by Winamp as well as my favorite Linux player.

I wouldn't complain, but the commercial stations in town are killing me with the same stuff over and over and over and over and over again. Plus, the stations I hit most frequently (Drive 105, KS95, Cities 97, and 93X) have quite an overlap on their playlists, so I will hear the same song more often if I go channel-surfing than if I stay on one station (but then I have to deal with commercial breaks every two songs).

I need music, or a girlfriend. To support either habit, I need a job.

Ugh, the weekend goes by too fast, even when you don't do anything the rest of the week.

Posted by mike at 07:29 PM | Music , Self , Software , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack

STUPID FOOTBALL

Making me miss the start of The Simpsons

Stupid football.

*grumble* *grumble*

So many Sunday evenings of television ruined by that damned game.

Posted by mike at 07:39 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

O Give Me a Home Where the Electors Roam

While making my way to the University's job website earlier today, I saw a little blurb about the Humphrey Institute's 2004 Election Project. Dunno if they really have anything interesting, but I plan to peek in there as time progresses…

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Yo Quiero

Ugh. I just got a spam through my ICQ client. Interesting technique: it was sent to me as an “Authorization Denied” message. So, if you want to cut down your debts drastically, legally, and quickly, give them a call at 281-587-6082.

I did a search on that number just for kicks and ended up with some web pages in the Netherlands. They were in Dutch, so I couldn't really understand them, but one seemed to be discussing a diploma from a university. Both of the numbers started with 1- or 001-, which would seem to indicate a North American number (since 1 is our international calling code). But heck, I dunno. The area code is supposedly Houston, Texas.

The experience of coming across a dutch page reminded me that there are a lot of languages I wish I knew. I sort of know Norwegian (heritage reasons) and German (the only other option in high school was Spanish, which I didn't think was important at the time—oops), but I don't know them very well anymore. I should really get some reference books on that. Beyond that, the old languages used in Britain and Ireland are intriguing. Celtic and Welsh are pretty wacky, not to mention old/middle English.

If I'd had my choice in high school, I probably would have either done Norwegian or Russian (I'm so jealous that Sarah did that in high school), but my experiences in college have gotten me interested in Japanese and Chinese. Today, I'd be pretty interested to learn Arabic, but I don't know if I could ever learn to read backwards… Heh, I even admire the reasons for making Esperanto, though it's messed up in a lot of ways. Latin always sounds so pompous whenever I hear someone speak it, so there are reasons it could be fun—too bad the complex conjugations and declensions would make my head explode.

But if I ever learn another language, it will be Spanish—for purely utilitarian reasons. Like, I don't know, could I get my cheeseburger today?

Posted by mike at 12:42 PM | Food , Internet , Sarah , School , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Red Green Blue

So President Bush says we're going to Mars…eventually. It's probably close to what would have happened anyway, though this Moon-as-waypoint strategy is a new thing I hadn't heard until recently.

Actually, you'll recall that there was discussion of Bush promising to go to Mars just after the Columbia disaster last year. I'm sure that negotiations had been going on between the White House and NASA even before that happened, so you're looking at years of work coming to fruition today. It sounds like it's not a whole lot different than what happened with JFK when he promised to go to the Moon, though it's still quite an expansion on what took place back then.

I know that there were plenty of negotiations that happened before Kennedy made his announcement. In fact, I believe NASA actually gave dates in the range of something like 1967 to 1971 for getting someone to the moon, not actually on the surface. But, to make his 1961 speech sound better, JFK said, “before this decade is out,” which, in the technical eyes of NASA, gave them until the end of 1970 (decades actually go 1-10 rather than 0-9 ;-)

So, you can be sure that there's a lot of number fudging going on this time around as well. The news reports say that we've now got over 10 years just to get back to the Moon. A much more leisurely pace this time—the right way to do it, actually. There's a lot of work that doesn't need to be done this time around. In 1961, most American rockets could barely get off the ground without exploding intentionally (self-destruct) or otherwise (oops).

This go around, we have time: major pars can be tested properly, there's less need to just use One Big Rocket, etc. The next question is, will we have money? Uh, well, uh… You need money? How 'bout 1-976-HOT-NASA? 1-900-NASA-ASS?

Ack! I just visualized naked geeks (i.e. me). Big mistake.

So, it might not actually happen due to budgetary reasons. Still, NASA knew even back in the '60s that it would be better to take a slow approach to getting to the moon. It's safer and more cost-effective. If it does turn out that Americans go there again and then head to Mars, things could look very different than they did in 1969. It's possible that astronauts will be shuttled up to the International Space Station, then get board another spacecraft parked there to get to the moon.

Maybe Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick were just off by 10 years. Maybe.

Oh, and another note on the political side of things. This will by no means make me even consider voting to re-elect the President. In this case, he's just a figurehead explaining and endorsing plans put together by smart people who work somewhere else. I support the idea of space exploration, and would be happy to see someone on Mars in my lifetime. However, such exploration can't be allowed to go forward if, in the future, we find ourselves with the same problems in our country's political, social, and physical infrastructure that we have today.

Posted by mike at 04:03 PM | Politics | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Floccinaucinihilipilification

I can't believe nobody posted a comment about my 1-976-HOT-NASA line in my previous entry. I mean, that's one of the funniest things to come out of my head in months. Well, I think so, anyway. Guess I'd never make it as a stand-up comic. (Like that's news…)

Hmm. I haven't thought about this for a while, since I haven't had the patience to sit through Inside the Actor's Studio recently, but I think that one of my “favorite words” would have to be “fudgesicle.” That would probably be my curse word. As for favorite word overall, I'm not so sure. There are a lot of weird words in English, and I keep finding more that sound a lot like pholaboly, philately, and phlebotomy. Craziness ;-)

I'm hungry.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM | Food , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, January 16, 2004

Apocalyptica

My entry for APOC '04, if it's done in time. Not really the story I was going for, but it's what came out. A bit sappy, I suppose. There's a reason this story ends with the guy going to bed. G'night! I'm tired.

A thousand pardons if Livejournalers accidentally see the whole story here. Hopefully you'll need to click a link to view it.

The sound of falling rain filtered in through the open window. It was that tired sort of rain that barely drifts anywhere far from vertical, so there was no danger of the floor getting wet. Not that it mattered. He'd lived alone for twenty years, and the male tendency to not give a shit about more shit on the rug had taken hold with a vengeance. Plus, the fact that he'd managed through the end of the world made having a clean floor somewhat less important.

Well, it wasn't like the world had truly ended. Civilization turned out to be pretty resilient—if somewhat downsized. But, it was about as close to the end of the world as anyone ever hoped to get.

A dark night in August, the ground became a turbulent ocean, with buildings bobbing around as if they were tiny ships driving through a massive Nor'easter. They shuddered and collapsed as surface matter twisted and disintegrated, the sky becoming a coarse fluid of smoke and earth. Fires tore through huge swaths of every city on the planet as lives came to an end in hundreds of millions.

All in all, a really bad day.

Everyone who really knew what happened had died instantly. There were a few dweebs around the country who had an inkling, but they didn't know much. A few big universities had been waiting on big data dumps from Fermilab that night, but they never came. Some netops at the big telcos had watched Chicago bleed through their consoles, a front of destruction displayed in real-time as fiber snapped somewhere in Iowa.

He'd been one of those few, though one of the first to meet the front and go offline. The klaxon that always sounded on a major outage had barely finished its first tone when the room suddenly tilted. It was a strange sensation, watching Joan as she momentarily mastered the art of levitation. But, that only lasted a second before he found his head reassigned to the ceiling.

Oh, so that's where the orange screwdriver went.

Somehow, he'd gotten out. Adrenaline had kicked in after a few seconds and his brain didn't bother to put anything down in permanent storage. That night became a series of distant images to him, with one scene slowly swirling through color and shape into the next. Any time he'd try to hold on to one of the memories, they'd distort and slither away.

The next morning, it didn't seem to matter who was left—he just had to get somewhere else. The roads were buckled and broken, but it wasn't too long before he found a building that could still stand up to more than a stiff wind. The people he met were dirty and scared, but somehow they knew they'd get through it.

Miraculous stories evolved from moments of happenstance. He heard one woman say that she had been skydiving when everything happened, but he never quite found the ability to believe her. Another person had been wakeboarding at the time, only to wash up on shore a few miles from where he'd first been. Most people who survived liked that story a lot, since so many had found themselves in a completely different place once the ground stopped moving. Before long, the man and everyone else who lived through that night started calling themselves the “Surfers of Hell.”

Eventually the fires went out and the sky cleared. At night, he marveled at the rediscovered Milky Way. He'd seen it before, but so many Surfers had never known what was really out there. Sure, some scientist on TV would always get really excited every so often, but they never saw anything when they looked up. The end of the world did wonders for the popularity of astronomy, and made everyone understand what had driven their ancestors to see and do amazing things.

Well, admittedly, even he didn't know a whole lot about the sky, but Before, he'd always known where to look. In between scavenging, he'd study what he could find, and was able to help almost anyone else who asked. Before long, the other Surfers would bring all sorts of artifacts from the past to him, and he'd help anyone who needed to find an answer. Soon, the city found itself being rebuilt, and he became their Archivist.

So, they rebuilt as much as they could. It was a hard life, of course, but everyone was in it together. The rubble of Before held great treasures of technology and knowledge, and the Archivist spent his time saving what he could. Everyone went to him when they needed to figure out how to get something working again. A year after the disaster, the city repaid him by giving him a scavenged generator as well as a generous ration of fuel, although he always felt too modest to take very much.

Regardless, the man's eyes lit up with glee when he spent a few days trying to get a smashed up computer working again. It was actually his—he'd managed to dig it out of the rubble of his apartment. It had laid in the pile for months, so it was no surprise to him that it didn't just turn on. But, as soon as it was working again, he knew that it wasn't yet time to bring back the Information Age. Wounds were still fresh, and there was so much to learn about how to live. The coming years brought surprise and sorrow, good and bad, but the road was laid out for them. The New Renaissance grew quickly.

The man's fascination with technology brought him to get big parts of the city powered again, though a lack of a reliable fuel sources meant that it only ran part time. Nobody complained, though, and things were only getting better. Children started to play, and the Archivist found himself to be a valued resource by the school. He'd never been great at dealing with kids, but he always respected the role of a Teacher. Sometimes, he'd find himself in that role, but he always felt more comfortable acting at a distance.

On this night, he reflected on another of those days as a Teacher. Boy, those kids were smart—the folks at the school know what they're doing. He slowly meandered toward sleep and lazily listend to the rumbling and clacking of the rusty old generator in it's cage outside. It had never liked humidity, and the years had taken their toll. The rain meant that soon, it would sputter and die, making the lights dim again. The aincent batteries he hooked up a decade past wouldn't last long and his node on the New Internet would drop off the air in a few minutes, just like it did in every rainstorm. But, when the clouds cleared, he'd be able to see the sky again. If he managed to stay up that late, he'd imagine all of those great people who had looked up at those same stars and dared to wonder.

All in all, not a bad day.

Posted by mike at 02:13 AM | Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Around the World in Eighty Seconds

A triumvirate (a la Douglas Adams) of unusual news articles have piqued my interest today:

Bush Booed at Martin Luther King Gravesite via Yahoo! News:

“Bush go home” and “peace not war” the predominantly black crowd of protesters shouted from behind a barrier of buses…

Brain Sandwiches Still on Some Menus via Yahoo!:

“I think I'll have hardening of the arteries before I have mad cow disease,” said Cecelia Coan, 40, picking up a brain sandwich to go at the Hilltop Inn during her lunch hour. “This is better than snail, better than sushi, better than a lot of different delicacies.”

CBS Cries Foul on PETA, MoveOn Super Bowl Ads also via Yahoo!:

“We just want to be able to present our jiggly women,” said Lisa Lange, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asking to join advertisers like beer brewers who has boosted sales with images of scantily-clad women.

Sci-Fi Scribes Like Mars Plan from Wired News:

“I'd been afraid that this would be some kind of one-off, Apollo-type stunt. But it's not that at all,” he said. “A long-term, large-scale, open-ended space project—it's like watching a science-fiction movie. It's like the sort of thing I'd always imagined.”

And, countering, Mars Mission a Trojan Horse? from Wired again:

[Space historian Howard] McCurdy noted that the current President Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, similarly proposed going to the moon and Mars in 1989. However, that plan fell apart when NASA came back with a jaw-dropping $400 billion price tag.

The current President Bush only signed on to a new moon-Mars plan after assurances from NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe that the agency had returned to being the can-do outfit that sent men to the moon in the 1960s, McCurdy said.

Update: I don't know how many of my friends have been watching The Daily Show this week, but there was some weirdness with Presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun. She went on the show Wednesday night (I don't know exactly when htey tape, but it's afternoon/evening, I'm sure), and did a pretty good job. Also that day, word leaked out that she was planning to drop out of the race. I haven't been able to figure out exactly when she officially quit, but it's really weird that she stayed to tape the show…

Posted by mike at 12:04 PM | Decision 2004 , Food , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Streets Shall Flow with the Blood of the Nonbelievers!

Woo! I just coined a phrase: World Dominazn! This is entirely appropriate due to my Total World Domination t-shirt, and entirely inappropriate due to my Norwegian heritage.

Though, I suppose I can't really take credit. Google says that people and quake teams have been using the screen name of DominAzn for a while… But, “world dominazn” is new.

<spotlight state="occupied">
Thank you. Thank you. You're so kind.
</spotlight>

Hmm, I really need to rediscover Dan's umbrelloquy, though…

Posted by mike at 07:52 PM | Dan , Internet , Kari | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Es ars ein ens

I'm so happy for ars. I'm glad that es won the game. Es played ein chips well, and now the gold chip is ens.

Hmm. Blech. Not so hot, but maybe it sounds reasonable… I'm trying to think of good ways to make gender-neutral pronouns in English, instead of using they or whatever, which people don't like because it's plural rather than singular. This was all induced by seeing who won on Celebrity Poker Showdown, by the way.

Sie and hir are popular choices, but I dislike them with a vengeance. In addition to sounding too much like the English she and her, sie can be feminine in German. While it actually has several meanings in German–they, and you when capitalized Sie is for addressing adults–it also really does mean she. Hir I don't like because it can end up being pronounced exactly like her, plus it can be hard to distinguish in print (though that's probably just because I haven't seen it enough).

So many options that people have proposed are too indistinct for me. I kind of like the Spivak pronouns, but the words there and proposed elsewhere are hard to distinguish from he, she, him, her, his, and hers.

My idea for he and she (which I'm sure others have proposed, but I haven't bothered hunting too much to find out) is to basically flip the sounds of the pronouns around backwards. He and she become es, which also happens to be the gender-neutral he/she pronoun in German.

The next word I came up with that I liked at all was ars. I'm not sure where that came from, exactly. I think it was using the ‘r’ and ‘s’ from his and her, and then picking a different vowel to go in there to make it sound distinct. I eventually noticed that this could be confused with ours, so I moved it to replace him and her instead. I do like the fact that it sounds like ours, though, since it brings a sense of unity—but I wouldn't want the words to get confused when people are speaking.

I was thinking of trying to take some other pronouns from German, but they don't really fit too well in English, IMHO. However, I think using some translations of one might be appropriate for something, since that is a popular option for replacing the singular they. In German, one is ein. In Norwegian, it's en. At first, I thought I'd use en for something like his and her, but I just felt in needed an ‘s’ sound at the end and made ens. However, this became problematic when doing posessive things like his and hers, since there's already an ‘s’ there (not that it prevents us from using his in both places).

So, I tried doing en for his/her and ens for his/hers, but it just didn't seem to sound right to me. En was just too short of a sound, I thought. Therefore, I decided to try the German ein in place of en, but I kept ens because I have a prejudice for pronouns that are three letters or shorter, plus I'd like that Norwegian word in there ;-)

Still, I guess I'm open to options. I really like es and ars, though I haven't really decided on what to use for the other cases. Here's a summary of sorts, in no real order:

he/shehim/herhis/herhis/hers
esarsen(s)ens
esarsein(s)ens
esarsein(s)eins

Any opinions?

Posted by mike at 06:38 PM | Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Fool in the Photograph

Woo! The pilot episode of Keen Eddie will be on Bravo tonight…and every other night this week. Stop that! You're wearing out good things, Bravo! Anyway, there were 13 episodes made, but only 7 ever showed up on Fox when they first aired the series.

USA already aired the first third-season episode of Monk, and ABC will start airing the second-season episodes next week.

Posted by mike at 12:19 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Person to Person

The Big Five Personality Test
Extroverted|||||||||| 32%
Introverted |||||||||||||||| 68%
Friendly |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Aggressive |||||| 24%
Orderly |||||||||||| 42%
Disorderly |||||||||||||| 58%
Relaxed |||||||||||| 42%
Emotional||||||||||||||58%
Openminded |||||||||||||||| 66%
Closeminded |||||||||| 34%
Take Free Big 5 Personality Test

This is no real surprise

I guess I'd think that I'm even more introverted than the test says (in a weird sense, as introverted as I am friendly, I suspect). Also, I would have expected the test to show me as significantly more open-minded, but I suppose it's still relatively accurate considering how long it takes for me to accept new ideas sometimes.

Anyway, I shouldn't overthink it…

Grr. Car Talk switched their online show to use Windows Media Player, which (surprise, surprise) doesn't exist for Linux. Just like I can't listen to a non-crappy version of Radio K because there is no QuickTime player for Linux either. I'd like to recommend Ogg Vorbis for such things, but I guess I haven't listened to very many Vorbis streams and I don't know how well it really stacks up—plus it's geared more for “live” content, since I don't think many Vorbis players allow seeking (ff/rew) in audio streams that aren't stored on a local hard drive.

Well, blah blah blah. I've got to do taxes and find a job and find a girlfriend and do laundry and get food and… (not necessarily in that order)

Posted by mike at 02:42 PM | Internet , Music , Self , Software | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Ignoreland

I tried to get myself back into a good sleep cycle last night, and failed miserably. I'll have to try again tonight and then maybe try to exercise in the morning to wake myself up. But then I'll probably get tired and go back to sleep…

I was sent a questionnaire for a potential job, which I have to work on today. I'll have to think about the questions a bit—it's been a while since I've actually done system admin stuff, so it's hard to remember good examples.

Well, in between my two night's sleeps last night (went to bed early, then couldn't sleep from about 1-4, then slept late), I wrote a note to an old friend of mine from pre- through high school. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have anything to talk about, which might explain why she hardly ever responds. However, I'd gotten a few newspaper clippings from my mom, and wrote about those.

One was about our old H.S. band director, who is one of the nicest people you'd ever meet, but has gotten a nickname of “The Grinch” because of certain warnings he gives while working (“Unless you want me to get grinchy…”) Another clipping was an ad for a Rochester bank that featured another old classmate. I did some hunting and found a few others. I think a few have gotten into teaching in my hometown and elsewhere, but there was at least one other bank employee and a friend who had gone into real-estate. Kind of weird, but he seems to be a fairly natural salesman…

Anyway, it'd be nice to get a note back, but we'll see what happens.

Posted by mike at 01:57 PM | Family , School , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Star 69

Hmm. My phone's ringer appears to be dead. That's no good. Glad I was psychic about a guy calling me back for a potential job and noticed his voicemail right away. Well, I guess I'll go to T-Mobile tomorrow and see what they say. I definitely don't want to have to send in my phone and rely on my old one again (since the battery in that thing is toast), but I suppose if that happened, I'd see if there was a cheap GSM phone at Best Buy I could use for a few weeks.

Wow. All my TV shows are coming back! My system noticed that My Hero was on channel 2 again. Looks like they're starting from the first season. Oh, and I guess USA's episodes of Monk are from the second half of the second season rather than the start of the third. For my geeky/intellectual side, Frontline is back too. They just had an episode about “The Teenage Brain” where they talked to some people at UMN. And, I found out that I was entirely right to sleep so much when I was a teenager. On average, one lady said, teens need 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night. I think the only number any of my friends knew back then was 8, “if you're lazy&hellip”

Posted by mike at 07:05 PM | Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Pop Will Eat Itself

I decided to stop trying to go back to sleep at around 7 this morning, and then I even did a little exercising. Blech. I've been sitting around way too much lately.

Hmm. Time to find the appropriate tax forms today, methinks.

I think I'll have to travel somewhere next fall/winter…

Posted by mike at 01:38 PM | Money , Self , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Heh. My mom sent me a note saying that Steven J. Cannell would be signing books at Barnes & Noble at Har-Mar this evening. Who?

Well, anyway, after looking him up, I saw his name appears to really be spelled Stephen J. Cannell, and he (co-)created The A-Team among many other shows and wrote for series like Knight Rider. I guess he co-created The Rockford Files which is probably why my mom knew about him…

Posted by mike at 04:14 PM | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Friday, January 23, 2004

Where Have All the Cowgirls Gone?

Blech, I had to redo some ucky HTML with a perl script to get the thing below. Yeah, I'm late to the party on this one. Eek. I definitely need to find more girls to get to know. This thing is kind of lopsided…

skywayman110%
antid0te106%
spikenheimer97%
hotbeatz92%
poipoipoi91%
thosquanta77%
madolan69%
saucy_coconut69%
susina61%
silvrayn58%
ande271354%
ladygaia50%
How compatible with me are YOU?
Posted by mike at 03:24 PM | Internet , Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Follow the Bouncing Rover

NASA's Opportunity rover will be, uh, “bouncing” down (“touching down” doesn't seem quite right) at about 11:05 PM CST tonight.

Posted by mike at 01:38 PM | News | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Well, Paint My Face and Call Me Charlie

Met Maddie and Jordan for the first time last night at Erin's birthday party. I guess I expected both of them to be taller ;-)

Today has been rather historical. I'd set up my computer to record Apocalypse Now Redux, the extended version of Apocalypse Now. Pretty good. A really young and skinny Laurence Fishburne. I didn't really go for the ending, though it reminded me that Vietnam had been pretty much in a steady state of war for 30 years by the time things wrapped up around 1975. Maybe even longer if much happened during World War II.

I just finished watching some episodes of The American Experience about the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Some really interesting stuff, and many things I hadn't really heard of before.

Actually, I guess this has been a fairly historical weekend in general, since I also watched some stuff on the History Channel about the Goths and Mongols last night. I was really interested in the show on the Goths, since I'd never heard much about them before. Most stuff I've heard or seen has basically just said “We don't know much about them—well, except, they did sack Rome that one time…”

Posted by mike at 07:09 PM | Erin , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, January 26, 2004

Frankenberry

Seeing news about Strangeberry being acquired by TiVo reminded me about an idea I had to name a bunch of weird berries after different principles of physics, but I never got very far. I only came up with a few names like “bosonberry” and “heisenberry,” and I didn't have much luck making the silly descriptions either. The only one I could really describe was the easy one of heisenberry—they were extremely fattening (or not) because it was impossible to remember if you already ate one or not.

Posted by mike at 10:07 AM | Comedy | Comments (0) | TrackBack

<copyguy>Categorization</copyguy>

Question for the Francophones: How the hell do you alphabetize this name?

René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
Posted by mike at 05:31 PM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

At Least It's Not Avian Flu

Ugh. Stupid virus. I've gotten five real or fake bounce messages since the wee hours of this morning. It apparently affects every version of Windows from 95 to XP. Not sure where they get these names: Novarg? Mydoom?

Posted by mike at 11:14 AM | Internet | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Become One with the Frost

Damn. It's a novel thing when I actually need to turn up the thermostat in my apartment. 12 below? Yep, that'll do it. I guess it was -31° in Fargo yesterday morning.

A job would be nice about now, even if it meant standing out in the cold in the morning…

Posted by mike at 08:59 PM | Weather , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Ax-Man Cometh

Ugh. I know I messed up my taxes. Scratch that—TurboTax messed up my taxes by being idiots. Not figuring self-employment tax… Goddammit…

On the upside, I can get over $500 back in property taxes for being a poor little renter. The downside to that is that I won't get money back until August.

I hate the fact that my taxes are simple in actuality, only with about six or eight dollar figures that go in to the equation (they'd be even simpler if I hadn't gotten a new job), but so complicated in practice.

Looking at the federal picture, say we have adjusted gross income (AGI) and self-employment income (SI), with some federal withholding (FW) and federal estimated tax payments (FP) already in the government's hands. I qualify for the standard $4750 and $3050 deductions that apply to a guy like me, and I was in the $6000–28,000 bracket, meaning I had a base tax of $600 and a rate of 15%. Self-employment tax is applied to 92.35% of self-employment income, and is 15.3%.

So, my standard income tax from gross income is

(AGI−4050−3050−6000)×0.15 + 600 = GIT

And my self-employment tax is

SI×0.9235×0.153 = SIT

The total amount I owe to the feds would be

GIT+SIT-FW-FP

So, TurboTax wants to forget about the second (important) bit and charge me $20. Bah. I should have just done it on paper.

Posted by mike at 01:56 AM | Money , Work | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Friday, January 30, 2004

Getting Your Feet Wet

I was a dork and wrote about history today. But, in the end, it was still cool. I learned a lot of stuff that is really neat. Heh. Have you ever gone on a streetcar? How 'bout a streetboat?

(Image taken from here)

Posted by mike at 02:02 AM | Self | Comments (0) | TrackBack