10/2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

Welcome to October. It's definitely Fall now -- I can tell because it was chilly when I woke up this morning, Shopper Food Warehouse is selling Halloween pumpkins, and Costco is selling Christmas ornaments. I like the changing scenery and the associated briskness, and the fact that it's cold out, but not so cold that you have to bundle up too much (I hate being cold). This is also why Summer beats Winter -- Winter has good high points like holidays and snow, but I hate being cold so that rules out most common days. Spring is just too wet and unpredictable -- they should just excise that season altogether (maybe they could replace it with another Fall).

Fall is probably my favourite season, followed by Summer, Winter, and then Spring (Rock trumps them all, but even Scissors beats Spring). The one thing I don't like about the Fall is the emergence of mutant crickets in sheds. Every year I go out to the shed in the Fall and it's teeming with these gross-looking useless insects that do nothing but hang on the wall, watching you, and waiting for you to turn your back so they can gut you from behind. They can easily hop three feet into the air, but aren't afraid of anything you do. I'm going to train Anna and Ben's new puppy to eat them on command.

I kept pretty busy this weekend. In between multiple shopping trips all over the county (I finally picked up the missing set of curtains) and taking care of homebound recuperating toothless invalids, I made some time on Saturday morning to visit the new puppy and watch the Hokies trounce West Virginia 34-17. Baylee is a beagle / border collie mix. Anna and Ben choose the spelling to be unique yuppies, and because Bayley looks like it should rhyme with Péle. When I was in high school, I knew a girl named Gbehlee, so I guess Baylee isn't that much of a stretch.

I saw the puppy just a couple days after it had moved in, but it seemed pretty happy with its surroundings. It pooped outside when I was there, which apparently is a big deal. Sydney seems pretty calm about the whole affair and tried to steal Baylee's bone (because it smelled like bacon, and who WOULDN'T steal a bacon-scented toy). When Baylee gets too close, Sydney will get annoyed, but otherwise they chase each other around and act cute together. Baylee farts a lot, so I'm sure everyone will get along fine in that household.

Kitty doesn't like the new puppy much at all, except when it's sleeping and not doing its jerky erratic puppy shtick. She will sit on the stairs watching like a cat-spy, and occasionally come down to put up a good brave face, but mostly she spends time upstairs sleeping (nothing new). I'm sure that after a few weeks, all three of them will be playing some No-Limit Hold'Em for bacon bones and sleeping together in a big pile of fuzz.

I like other peoples' dogs, but I would probably never get a dog myself -- if I wanted high maintenance I would just date a sorority girl. Cats are great because they are the like the end table of pets. You feed them and occasionally play with them and they take care of everything else themselves. Self-cleaning, always sitting in your lap, and they poop in a box -- what more could you ask for?

Marry your Baby Daddy Day, because there aint no apostrophes in the ghetto
Teen's camcorder records his death
Clowns succeeded in distracting the children but apparently annoyed doctors and nurses.

Yesterday's search terms:
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

It's fun getting packages in the mail, and since I do all my non-impulse shopping online, I get quite a few. I try to limit my Amazon purchases to one a month or so, and just let things pile up in my shopping cart until they reach a critical mass (This also lets me have a grace period when I decide that I don't want to purchase Girls Gone Wild: Boise Edition after all). My most recent Amazon shipment came on Friday, and contained the following:

The Mikado: Gilbert and Sullivan
My friend, Jason, is playing 2nd trumpet in the orchestra for this show in November and had a conflict, so I'm subbing in for him on one night. It should be fun -- it will give me a chance to do some dedicated playing and transposition. I bought a recent recording of it for completeness, but the downside is that it contains modernized lyrics as well. It's jarring to hear a standard Gilbert and Sullivan arrangement talk about Walkmen. I don't know which version will be performed in November, but the recording assures me that the music is all predictable and there will be no surprises.

Scrubs: Complete First Season
Scrubs is one of those shows that I always find hilarious when I get around to watching it, but never watch on a regular basis. I was waiting for it to show up in Costco because I am a cheap miser, but finally decided to just order it online. I was desperately in need of more sitcom-length series to watch while exercising -- Lost, Alias, and 24 are fine and dandy when you split them with someone, but biking by yourself for that long results in sweaty buttocks, which is not particularly sexy. Being sexy while you work out is a must, which is why I do shirtless medicine ball exercises in my driveway and at the mall.

Firefly: Complete First Season
I was hesitant to pick this up, because the box and all the promotional materials scream "space opera", and the space opera is not exactly high on my list of favoured genres (see also, the Wing Commander computer games and movie, where creator, Chris Roberts, decided that his prowess at making space shooter games meant he could also be a cinematographer and write romance dialogue). I finally bought it on the recommendation of both Kim and Rachel, and have decided that it was worth it. Firefly is one of many critically-acclaimed shows that starts out on FOX before becoming prematurely aborted by network executives. Created by the guy who did Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another cult show that I didn't really care for), it was doomed from the start since no one at FOX understood the show. Apparently they promoted it as a comedy-action space show and then proceeded to show about ten episodes (all in the wrong order, by the way) before consigning it to death. Since then, though, it's gone on to become a top-selling DVD and sparked enough interest to lead to the Serenity movie which is currently out.

When the pilot started, with lots of flashing lights and flying spaceships, I cringed inwardly and figured it would turn out to be "Starship Troopers for TV", but thankfully this doomsday prophecy didn't come true. Instead, the show changes gears pretty quickly into a drama / character study show that just happens to be set in space. In fact, I'd go as far as saying it's more of a Western than a Sci-Fi show. I'm about halfway through the fourteen-episode series now and it's grown on me a lot.

Tens of thousands of appliances are releasing a gag-inducing stench of rancid shrimp, sulfurous eggs, and other adjective-laden nouns.
"Is the goal that they should never look at their own vagina and not know about it?"
Doing my part to add Geri Agalia to Google

Yesterday's search terms:
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tagged as reviews | permalink | 5 comments

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Have you ever been roused out of a deep sleep by a loud noise that's gone by the time you become aware? That happened to me last night -- I woke up at 12:22 AM to silence. I hadn't consciously heard anything, but knew somehow that an incredibly sharp, loud crash had happened somewhere in the house. I was going to blame it on the cats, because Booty has been known to fall down the stairs, Kitty has been known to tip over trash cans with turkey bits in them, and Sydney and Amber just mess everything up. But as my eyes adjusted to the pleasant darkness caused by the lack of street lamps in Loudoun County, I saw that both of my cats were sitting on my beds, staringly intently out into the hallway. I say beds because I have a twin bed next to my full bed temporarily while I renovate the upstairs guest room. It's been in my room and sheetless for over two months now, and sometimes I will nap on it for kicks. Booty sleeps on it at night.

After becoming awake enough to be alarmed, I peeked at the clock to make sure that it wasn't 3 AM and also checked to see that the room didn't smell like burning. I assured myself that I had not fallen into a horror movie about demons and did what any self-respecting guy would do: I threw on some jeans and went to investigate. This is good practice for ten years from now when I have to protect the missus from strange noises in the middle of the night, or cattle rustlers. I'm not saying I'll be marrying a cow, but rustlers are bad news for pretty ladies too, and we all know that I live on the frontier of Northern Virginia.

Booty and Amber decided to stay in bed while I investigated because they are both big pussy cats. I didn't have any weapons handy, so I pulled my thick leather belt ($19.99 at J.C. Penney) from around my waist and held it like a garrotte. I figured I could ninja my way up to any malefactors and choke them from behind, or use the belt like a whip Indiana Jones style. It turned out that I didn't have anyone to beat up, because the noise had been caused by the heavy marker board that (no longer) hangs on my fridge. When we first moved in, we had a heck of a time keeping it up, so finally we coated every inch of the backboard with two-sided sticky tape. Apparently the lifespan of sticky tape at room temperature is approximately one year and seven months, and apparently gravity is still an unstoppable force.

This pointless personal story reminds me of another story in the local news: A martial arts instructor tried to abduct two of his students in the middle of the night, but they kicked his ass with martial arts moves . The criminal not only taught his targets how to defend themselves, he also got repelled by two 10-year-olds, and then tried to cover it all up by saying it was a robbery gone sour. Personally, I would not have let my kids in his class to begin with -- he's just got that unsettling creepiness about him that would send up parental warning flares from my parental raft. I'm glad he failed though, and I'm also glad the dad got to hit him with a lamp. That's so much more satisfying than just letting the police catch him, and it's what I would want to do if any crazies every came after people I cared about.

Don't forget, Lost, Episode 2x03 is on tonight!

A special crate for dogs in the glove apartment allows owners to interact with their pets while driving.
Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible
I forgot I was getting married today

Yesterday's search terms:
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tagged as random | permalink | 6 comments

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Alphabet Thursday

Alias: Fifth-season debut of the now-pregnant, now-Mrs. Ben Affleck's action drama suffered the show's worst opening numbers ever -- just 8.2 million viewers. We wondered why and, since we've never gotten this one, turned to one of its most ardent fans, who directed our attention to a recent "Alias" promo in which ABC managed to jam the words "child," "father," "daddy," "pregnancy" "hormones" and "baby" into just 30 seconds, and added, "Loving a show is like loving a man -- you're only going to get your heart broken." - Washington Post

B.W.I.: I was up at 3:30 this morning to take someone to the Baltimore-Washington-International Airport -- the one that fools you into thinking it's closer by putting "Washington" in the name. If I ever convert my home into a bed and breakfast, it will be called the Palm Springs - Hartford - Homestead. That should cover all my bases.

Cancer: Conductor Fritz Velke II died of cancer on September 30. He was the conductor of the Alexandria Citizens' Band when I was in it in high school, and also an All-District judge of concert bands.

Doom: They're making a movie of the computer game, Doom, with The Rock as the Nameless Marine. Computer-game-based movies are never good for business.

Eggos: How can Buttermilk Eggos taste so good while Homestyle Eggos taste like poop?

Firefly: I finished the DVDs last night and am now looking forward to seeing the movie next week when Kim gets back. They should have continued the series -- at least there were no cliffhangers in the last episode.

Google: You can now personalize Google as a portal site, so it looks like a Yahoo! with out all the useless crap.

Hokies: The Hokies play Marshall this weekend.

I: I am pretty tired at the moment.

Joke: Q: What is George Bush's opinion of Roe vs. Wade?
A: He doesn't care how people got out of New Orleans.

Karen & John: I recently found out that a couple I knew in college had a baby last year. I called the baby a boy. I chose poorly. Damn those gender-neutral names.

Lost: I wish they had let the counter run out.

Mikado: The music is pretty tame-sounding, so I'm sure 2nd trumpet will be no problem.

Naps: Forty-five minute naps are perfect. Less and you aren't refreshed, more and you wake up feeling scungy.

Orange Juice: I buy OJ in four-packs from Costco and drink it all in a week.

Pythons: Python eats crocodile then explodes .

Q-T: This is a cute picture, taken by Anna. Notice the action blur of the paw:

R: Arr!

Salmon: Massive flying salmon coming to an airport near you.

Tom Cruise: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expecting a kid, only six months after he brainwashed her.

Uncle John's Bathroom Reader: The 18th edition is being released in the next few weeks.

Ventor Avenue: Monopoly is back at McDonald's. It seems like the game is never quite long enough to actually win anything unless you eat there daily. Smart business move.

Warcraft: My secondary character, a Shaman, is now level 56. Besides that and my 60 Druid, I also have a 37 Priest and a smattering of lower-leveled characters.

Xylem: I don't know any good xylem jokes, but the punchline would have to include "phloem". Phloem phloem phloem.

You: How are you doing? Leave a comment.

Zazzara: I got back in touch with a band director I used to work with to do some Finale work and possibly some arranging or a middle school fight song.

Yesterday's search terms:
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tagged as random | permalink | 10 comments

Friday, October 07, 2005

Friday Fragments

  • It's no secret that people have invented sticky labels that peel off without leaving any residue. What I don't understand is why this stuff isn't used on everyday household items you buy in the store. Most of the goods in my house have at least 25% of the label left on, generally on the side facing the wall.

  • On a similar note, I hate the thick form-fitting plastic molding that seems to have replaced boxes for most electronic items. If you try to open one with scissors, you first must fight through the double-wide ridge around the outside. When the scissors blades have passed that obstacle, that ridge then acts to block the handle of the scissors and slice your hands open as well.

  • Speaking of plastic surgery, I hate these makeover reality shows because of the irresponsible way they prey on peoples' insecurities. I guess I just can't understand how people can invest so much importance in their physical appearance that they absolutely require the changes. I also can't understand how hearing your family and friends' opinions of how ugly you are will make you a better person after you're pretty. It doesn't show that you got pretty -- it shows that you have shallow friends. I remember one plastic episode from about two years ago where the woman said she had to get pretty because her husband said he would leave if she didn't. That's not the kind of behaviour you want to reinforce.

  • It's raining heavily here for the first time in about two months. I will probably have to reseed my grass again since last month's seeding didn't result in any greenery. I like the sound of rain in a forest canopy, which is another nice reason to have a forest in my backyard.

  • I forgot to watch Alias last night and didn't really care -- this is a first. I still have the guilty pleasure of reading the Alias spin-off books. I throw a few in my Amazon cart whenever I make a new order, since they only cost a few bucks and take about two hours to read. The original books were typical trashy high-school level books, but the more recent APO series have the feel and pacing of a real episode. They're worth a read if you're a fan.

  • I don't count travel time as part of my vacation, which is why I always leave on road trips at the crack of dawn. I would rather take a four hour trip at 5 AM and have the whole day in front of me, than get on the road at 9 and lose a few more hours to traffic.

  • In this article about coping with gas prices, one family wrote, "The kids no longer get fresh fruit or vegetables and no longer get turkey sandwiches. Now we buy only canned goods and the cheapest lunch meat possible.". I don't think I've ever been so poor that I had to choose between sliced turkey and gasoline, and I hope I'm never that poor. Coming from a soundly middle-class family, we never really had to worry about costs as kids. In the present, being a stingy bastard and not having a career in music means that I can still live comfortably without changing my routine around gas prices. In fact, I think I've driven more since gas broke three dollars a gallon. Excuse me while I go abuse the hired help.

  • There should be a rule that prevents you from driving gas-inefficient vehicles like SUVs unless you have at least five passengers with you at all times. If you're caught violating this rule, they take away your cell phone and your high beams, and then replace your tires with low riders so you're only about six inches off the ground.

  • I almost never open my front door to random knockers, but yesterday afternoon this little brat was selling chocolate for his school and knocked about seven times over the course of five minutes, also saying "I know you're in there!". I stole his money envelope and then told Booty to dismember him, feeding the remains to the hired help.

  • It is left as an exercise for the reader to use the phrase "random knockers" at least once in conversation today.

  • This weekend is looking to be as busy as last weekend. Tonight, I'm going to do nothing but clean the house and play Warcraft. Tomorrow, I've got several shopping errands to run, some Java Training planning to do for work, and then I have to check in on and/or steal Kim's cats (who are cute, but not "first place in a beauty contest" cute like Booty, who would also win "first place in a Booty contest", but maybe they could take 3rd or 4th and win $5 in Monopoly money) in the evening. Sunday, I'm getting an oil change, picking up some furniture, and carpet, and watching Desperate Housewives. Just kidding, if I watched that show it might turn out to be good and then I couldn't make fun of it anymore. I think Bree killed Gabrielle in rock quarry with the lead pipe.

  • Have a good weeekend!

  • A British cleric was thrown out of a school after he told pupils that Harry Potter was gay.
    Bush passes the buck up the chain of command
    Student passes out in President's office

    Yesterday's search terms:
    girl gagged with bandana, how heavy was sir lancelot du lake, what songs do the "marching virginians" play during football games, baby showers at work

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

    Tuesday, October 11, 2005

    Happy Birthday Mike! This is a picture of you and Booty sharing a good time when you were only 23 and Booty was only 6 months. Now, you're old and 26 and Booty is still 90% younger than you are.

    Actually, Mike's birthday was on Sunday, but time stands still in the URI! Zone on the weekends. Couple that defiance of age with the fact that I didn't update on Columbus Day and you have an easy-to-follow recipe for a two-day belated birthday wish. I figure that as long as everyone is growing old, I may as well savour as many national holidays as I can (although I did go to work yesterday, just like any other day). Any illusions that I would permanently remain in the idyllic days of my youth were erased when I noticed that Amber had grown to the point where she could no longer fit entirely into her sleepy basket (Evidence of her growing intelligence include the time she ran full speed towards a desk, tried to leap onto it, and chest-planted the edge). I'm pretty happy that time is moving forward though; I have good feelings about what the future might hold. I used a semicolon in the previous sentence, because I use the double-hyphen far too often -- on an unrelated note, I hate how Microsoft Word converts hyphens and quotation marks into special characters.

    Side note: At this moment in history, Amber is sitting atop my bookshelf trying to get the second hand out of the clock. She's all about some stopping time too.

    The only time that time isn't flying by is when it comes to processing security clearances. Mine finally finished up on Friday, a mere twenty months after I originally applied. Apparently, the investigation span even exceeds the life of two-sided sticky tape that you put on the backs of magnet boards so they don't fall off your fridge. Having a clearance on file means that I can requisition private vehicles for emergency use or jump to the head of the line for the Big Bad Wolf roller coaster, and I am now taller than the "You must be at least this secret to look at this file" line. However, the value of the clearance on the job market has drastically declined in the past two days, since it was revealed that the FBI is considering hiring more potheads . Why pay outrageous wages to cleared citizens when you can hire a pothead for a side order of fries and some E.L.Fudge cookies?

    I'm not complaining about the big bucks though, because it allows me to buy first-world necessities such as this entertainment stand to hold my sound system in the basement. It was a Target special (and on sale for $60 off) and, though it may not look like it, it's a do-it-yourself assembly. I love do-it-yourself furniture, because it's like playing with Legos but at a much grander scale. I like the precision with which the holes are pre-drilled and how following the instructions leads to a solid product with very few chances to screw things up. I also think the guy who invented the self-tightening cam (that little metal circle that catches a dowel and grabs it tightly as you twist it) was a genius since it makes assembly require a minimum or grunt work. I may be a little bit crazy.

    Those two doors on the entertainment stand hide cabinets which are completely empty. This is a true representation of the rest of my house, which is 55% living space, 10% stored goods, and 35% empty storage space. I love having so much storage space because it lets me organize everything to the o-th degree -- if only I had more useless crap to store on my empty bookshelves, cabinets, and closets, I'm sure the house would be much happier. You don't ever want to meet a crabby house.

    Match.com's criss-crossed lovers
    Chili before bedtime helps you sleep faster (but not your bedmate)
    Squirrels in south London could have become addicted to crack cocaine.

    Yesterday's search terms:
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    permalink | 13 comments

    Wednesday, October 12, 2005

    It's rained pretty much nonstop for the past six days -- that cold, messy cloud spit that isn't strong enough to have thunder and lightning (which would make it worthwhile), but still gets you soaked when you walk outside. The only plus to this weather spell (Nasty Rain Rank 3) is that it gave me an excuse to turn on the heat a few weeks early. Now, for the half hour that encompasses my morning routine of waking up, the house is a toasty 75 degrees. Growing up in my parents' house, the thermostat was permanently set at 68 degrees (because 68 is "room temperature") and there were space heaters strategically placed in major rooms that you had to huddle up against if you didn't want to be cold. Sharing many traits with the noble iguana, I prefer my house to be slightly warmer, so it's usually between 72 and 82 degrees all year around. Here is a list of my morning routine -- it's down to the minute because that's what you're supposed to do when you own a digital watch:

    • 5:28 Alarm goes off, waking up cats.
    • 5:29 Alarm goes off, sort of waking up me.
    • 5:29 - 5:35 Cats attempt to wake me up in various ingenious ways involving tar and feathers.
    • 5:35 Last alarm goes off. Get up and feed cats FIRST (or else).
    • 5:40 Take a shower and don disguise as mild-mannered computer programmer.
    • 5:50 Pet cats and leave house. Drive to work.
    • 6:00 - 6:05 Arrive at work, depending on how many slow drivers are on the road. Yes, I'm talking about you, -- the speed limit is 35 so you should be going at least 45 in your ugly black SUV, and definitely not 20. Someday I may put BUS BMPR in BEVS TLPIPE just to get you moving faster.

    The picture of the iguana was drawn by Brenda, a student at Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the southern Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Brenda has never visited my site, but she is well on her way to being an artistic superstar, as is Luis, who is exceptionally talented at drawing a turtle who's having a head-on collision with a sand dune (or alternately, it's BEVS LTHRBCK and it was holding up the daily ocean commute). Incidentally, I think Quintana Roo would be a great name for a superhero marsupial on a Saturday morning cartoon. It could even be bilingual for all the Spanish viewers.

    Because lists are great, especially on rainy Wednesdays, here's a list of cartoons I watched as a kid:

    • Shirt Tales
    • Duck Tales
    • Garfield and Friends
    • He-Man
    • Any cartoons on that USA show with the train in the credits (I think it was Cartoon Express, or something similar)

    I also watched Babar, Tom Sawyer, and Belle and Sebastian on HBO when at my grandparents' house. These were the first mainstream Japanese-style cartoons in the U.S., where the main characters barely moved at all, had ridiculously large puppy dog eyes, and spent lots of time with one-word interjections like "Huh?" and "Hey!" and "Oooh!" because they meant less work for the animator. I wasn't one of those kids that woke up at 6 on Saturday and watched cartoons until noon -- even back then I was a TV snob and thought most of them sucked.

    P.S. putting your bumper in someone's tailpipe is not slang for anything perverted.

    UNICEF bombs the Smurfs
    This is the best news they could come up with today
    Another congregant alleged that Noel struck his chest and twisted his left earlobe

    Yesterday's search terms:
    imodium lingerie advertisement, sex teachings by quixtar and amway, newscasters in inappropriate attire on air, quiznos cursed with the legs of a goat commercials

    tagged as lists | permalink | 6 comments

    Thursday, October 13, 2005

    Tag Thursday

    My column on effective cat grooming using only a bellows and a half pint of grapefruit juice will be temporarily postponed, as I was tagged yesterday by Kim to "List 5 things people might not know about you". Tags are a very serious deal in the blog world for two reasons:

    1. Personal Protection: Breaking a tag is like breaking a chain letter, and usually results in the breaking of legs. Once my friend, Pedro, chose to ignore someone's tag and they broke into his apartment, erased his blog, kicked over his potted philodendron, and then tortured his pet shrimp by deveining it while alive. I don't know if Kim has a mean streak or has ever deveined a shrimp, but I would rather not gamble with her possibly sizeable wrath.
    2. Making the World a Better Place: If you don't do the tag yourself, then you cannot pass the tag onto other people. This completely robs them of any material to write about -- there are many bloggers out there who have nary a fun idea in their head and live day to day with tags like a welfare mom working for tips at a Piggly Wiggly in Iran. By doing your part to pass the tag on, you are putting fresh thoughts into bloggers' heads. Tomorrow when we all wake up and begin our daily dose of reading, we will get to learn something interesting about someone, rather than a link to a Which Spice Girl are you? quiz (83% Posh), and all because I did my civic duty. You can thank me later.

    So without further prognostication, here are five things you might not know about me!

    1. Many sites now require you to type some random string of letters to prove that you are a human and not a spamming computer whenever you want to post something or register for an account. I get these wrong a surprising amount of the time. Either I am partly a robot, or I'm having mental flashblocks from all those colour-blindness tests in my youth.
    2. I have self-diagnosed myself with the harmless but scary condition hypnopompic paralysis , where my mind seems to wake up before my body, and I cannot move. This seems to happen most often when I take midday naps where I'm concerned about what time I need to wake up. There's always an initial sense of panic, and it generally takes me several minutes to understand the state I'm in and how to get out of it. I escape it by taking very deep breaths until I wake up for real, because apparently your breathing is one of the few physical things you can control. I never knew this was a real condition until I started poking around on the Internet a few years ago. I figured it was just nightmares.
    3. I like to be generous with people's wedding registries because it always seems like other people buy the least expensive stuff like "Spoon $9.99". An hour ago, I bought all the duck-themed bathroom goods for my friend's upcoming wedding. I attached a card with various sentences made up of the word "quack" and some popular punctuation marks. I also threw in two rubber bath ducks for good measure (although a lone goose would have been more appropriate). I'm not sure why there were duck-themed bathroom goods in the registry, but now the couple will never have to worry about lacking ducks. I think there was a clinical study a few years ago proving that this worry was a leading cause for American divorces. (The leading cause for French divorces was les canards).
    4. I have bouts of nostalgic yearning where I'll revisit something from my past, like rereading all my Gordon Korman books in a row, or playing all the Ultima computer games (except the crappy XI which had so much potential but ended up being a buggy poor-man's WoW). I think I have beat The Legend of Zelda at least once every three years since I got it as a kid, and I've reread The Westing Game so many times that all the pages are broken off the binding now.
    5. It was really hard thinking up a number 5, since most of the easy tidbits were already poured into the batter of my 222 Things page. Anyone with a 100 Things About Me page can generally use it as a good excuse for their lack of creativity with this tag, and I actually considered just talking randomly like this until I had a full paragraph, in hopes that you wouldn't notice that I didn't actually mention a #5. In the end, I decided not to do this, because you are all smarter than you look and would catch onto my games pretty quickly. Give yourselves a pat on the back for being so bright! And look over there, cute puppies!

    I now pass the tag-torch on to Florida-Mike . By now he's beaten every Flash game on the Internet and needs something to occupy his telecommuting days. In addition, I also tag every single person who reads this page today, lurkers included. Please post 2 things I don't already know about you in the Comments section! If you have already been tagged, I'm giving you a discount -- you only have to write one thing. If you do not write something, you are officially a rat fink, and you will not receive the Amazon.com gift certificates I give to all regular readers next August for this site's tenth anniversary.

    Happy Birthday, Rick Dunham, a.k.a. Gold Medal!

    Mom seeks personal reenactment of The Brady Bunch
    Make sure you pay your fire tax
    Pythons just aren't having a good week

    Yesterday's search terms:
    marching virginian trumpets, i bought my world of warcraft cds from ebay india, who can redo my felt top on my pool table in miami florida, welcome back cake

    tagged as tags | permalink | 11 comments

    Friday, October 14, 2005

    Friday Fragments

  • If any of you commenters without a cute icon for your comments wants one, please e-mail me with a picture or the URL of a picture. I will crop it and make it appear on your posts. Comments icons make it easier to read or ignore deep thoughts from your favourite fellow readers ("Oh, there's Kelley's picture five times in a row, I guess I can ignore the comments page today").

  • I recently read this article saying that IKEA would be more successful if they raised their prices a bit and made the service more high-class. This might be true for some stores, but I think IKEA is fine for what it is -- a big-box store with do-it-yourself furniture selection that needs no service. In fact, lower the prices and get rid of all the employees and I'd shop there even more.

  • Another recent story I read involved people who want warning labels on milk for the lactose intolerant. This is ridiculous. Drinking milk when you are lactose intolerant will make you gassy, not give you cancer. If you lack the common sense to realize that the milk is giving you the farts, then a warning label probably isn't going to do you much good.

  • I became lactose intolerant in college because I stopped drinking milk completely. The only available milk was in Dietrick, and I only ate the unhealthy selections at Dietrick Express, Owens, and Hokie Grill. Oh, and Shultz for the all-you-can-eat bacon. After a slow return to milk over a year or so, I now drink the occasional glass of milk with no problems, which leads me to conclusively conclude that those whiners are just a bunch of gassy pansies.

  • When I played Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, I named my character Gassy. I don't know why. It was funny because the name you pick gets put into the story text throughout the game. Gassy saved the world.

  • I really wish it would stop raining. It's been over a week since I could watch the sunrise at work. Someone take care of this for me, please.

  • Today is Dan's birthday, or Beavis if you know him as such. Dan was my roommate at Tech in the 1997-1998 year, and was also the retard that brought a pony keg on the trumpet bus to West Virginia when it got pulled over by a State Trooper. Happy Birthday!

  • Have you ever had a bus war? It's where the back of the bus and the front of the bus face off and try to touch the opposite end of the bus. Anything goes, including crawling through the overhead bins, under the seats, or bodily throwing people around. I'm surprised the bus drivers put up with the mayhem, since the back of the bus generally won, which meant that there were quite a few people jostling about beyond the white line.

  • I remember when Anna was a shiny baby-faced freshman on her first road trip and the weird trumpet player with the not so weird brother tried to keep her from winning by pulling her shorts off. This was a guy that would never look you in the eye and talk to you, but he would go crazy at games, cheering in his own little bubble of space (people didn't stand next to him because of the flailing arms and incoherent cheers which may have been in tongues). He generally stood behind the horn player that Doug made fun of for having no neck.

  • I had Lipton Sour Cream and Chives Noodles for dinner last night for the first time since living in Blacksburg. They taste great but they made my house smell like a hatful of ass. The worst is when you wake up in the morning and you can still smell the aroma of last night's dinner wafting through the air ducts.

  • How do you counter an old lady with a house full of 200 cats? With a man who has 300 birds, of course. It's like a ecological version of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

  • I've started studying for the next level of Java Certification, which costs a whopping $400. If I pass though, my company pays it in full. If there's anyone out there who would like to pretend to teach me something, we can write it off and split the tuition costs, and then use that cash to start a Christmas tree farm.

  • I'm looking forward to the holidays already. I don't really have any deep sentimental attachment to Thanksgiving and Christmas (I generally work up to and around those specific days), but I do like the decorating and the eating and all that jazz. Last year, I had XM set to one of their seven all-Christmas stations and piped it throughout my house nonstop. It's a good thing I live alone this year because I definitely plan on doing it again.

  • This weekend shouldn't be as busy as the last. I'm off work at noon today so I can go buy stuff I don't really need (like a new magnet board to fall off the wall and wake me up in the middle of the night, and a rug to catch litter in the bathroom when Amber plays "Litter Bomb"), then I plan to vacuum the house to give my carpets that neat freshly-lined look, followed by dinner at a reasonably swank locale with Kim and company. Tomorrow, I'm buying paint at Sears, returning a shirt at Old Navy, doing some Java studying and Finale work and joining an in-guild 15-man raid of Upper Blackrock Spire to kill General Drakkisath for my Wildheart Vest drinking beer with my hand in my pants while farting the Chinese alphabet. No plans yet for Sunday, but I'm thinking about a hike or a walk or something Fall-y like that.

  • Including the cost of the game and the monthly payments, I have now spent about $200 on World of Warcraft since I bought it last November. This seems like a lot, until I realize that I haven't bought any other games in that time, where I normally would have bought one a month or so. This is a savings of about $300 -- even more when you add up all the days I didn't rent a movie or go to the theater or go parasailing as a result of the game. Charles Schwab would call this a good low-risk investment. I now have eight real characters, but only five I play with any regularity.

  • Have a great weekend!

  • Yesterday's search terms:
    good puns for the royal fireworks, how much to tip bathroom attendant, scary godmother porno, eaten by the couch

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    Monday, October 17, 2005

    A Tourist's Guide to BU's Weekend

    Finn and Porter: This is where we had dinner on Friday night and pretended to be as fancy on the outside as we know we are on the inside. Actually, it was very reasonably priced and tasty, and it's about as close to high-class as I've been in a long time (probably since high school prom dinner). The decor was straight out of Pottery Barn, and their wine list was ridiculously comprehensive, taking up the entire back of the one page menu in tiny font. It was even more comprehensive than my Comprehensive List of Types of Sheep1, right down to the $310 bottle of Dom Perignon. I like wine, but am no wine connoisseur, so the house Pinot Grigot went just fine with my Maine Sea Scallops which were so buttery they almost melted in my mouth.

    Shopping: Bright and early Saturday morning, I gassed up the pimpmobile that is my 2001 Honda Accord LX (which is also about to break 40,000 miles) and hit Shoppers Food Warehouse for all my bread and Totino's needs, followed in quick succession by Target for sundry household goods, Home Depot for 56 feet of molding, and Costco for more snacks to make me fat at work. Total expenditures: $189. I would make a Mastercard joke here but I find them to be obnoxiously pithy and overdone. P.S., there was an eight foot tall Santa Claus statue that looked like a waxwork in Costco. Over its head was the sign "LARGE SANTA $499.99". Merry Christmas, you filthy animals.

    My Storage Room: This is the least seen room in my house because the door is always shut to keep cats out of the circular saws. The door is also shut because a previous cat resident felt it was a good idea to write her name in the snow, where "write her name" is slang for "pee" and "in the snow" is a euphemism for "all over the carpet multiple times", and it would stink up the whole house otherwise (I plan to replace the carpet and redo the room once the guest room is all done). I tidied up the shelves and finally threw out some useless crap like the garish four foot Cat in the Hat that Anna got in some Secret Santa thing and refused to take with her when I evicted her.

    Upper Blackrock Spire: Fourteen fellow gamers and I finished this dungeon in World of Warcraft in an uneventful two hour run. This is the hardest dungeon in the game, not including the super-expert dungeons that take twenty to forty people to beat. The boss of the dungeon, General Drakkisath, was beat with an ingenious strategy of one player (the expendable hunter) taunting him and then running several hundred yards away into another part of the dungeon to die while the rest of the group pounded on his bodyguards. I did my standard raid strategy of turning into a cat and typing catty stuff -- this is why we always win (both in the game and in real life).

    My Kitchen: On Sunday morning, I woke up at a leisurely 7 AM and played WoW until 9 (and got level 60 on another character). I didn't play much all summer because I had other real life things to attend to, but it's nice to have one more thing on my List Of Things To Waste Time With When I Don't Want To Do Anything On My List Of Things To Do. It's definitely much more fun because you're always playing with other people -- it wouldn't be the same as just a solo game. At 9, I went to the Kitchen and cooked eight pieces of bacon (all for me!) and read the Post. Two stories caught my eye: this one about a marching band who can't play a song about the Devil and this one about the discovery of a man who died years ago. Dying alone and forgotten would suck, so I don't plan on doing it myself, even if it means I have to marry a bag lady (not the paper/plastic variety -- they usually smell fine). I also think that out of all the daily columns in the Post, Animal Watch is easily the most topical, well-written, and enjoyable.

    Fair Oaks Mall / Brookfield: Post-bacon, I went to the mall with Anna so she could assist me in picking out an appropriate light blue paint to go in the guest room that would match the carpet I bought last week. I then exchanged a shirt at Old Navy. After that, Anna, her sister, and I roamed around the subdivision and through the woods with Baylee the puppy, teaching her how to run through creeks, stop at street corners, and catch illegal immigrants in violation of Fairfax's maximum occupancy laws. Anna thinks she's a setter / pointer mix, not whatever mix I originally posted a couple weeks ago.

    My Living Room: I got Chinese food for dinner (Lemon Chicken, Beef Lo Mein, Soup of Wanton Destruction, and Egg Drop Soup) and then finished off the last DVD of Scrubs: Season One. The thing I like about this show is that it's both hilariously funny and also has a serious, heartfelt angle, and neither one is shortchanged. It's hard to make a sitcom have heart without it coming off like an after school special, but Scrubs works. I didn't finish the Chinese food, but I have enough for three or four meals over this week (there was a minimum charge for delivery, and I couldn't find anyone who also wanted Chinese). After that, I flipped over to America's Funniest Home Videos to see if there were any neat-o cat montages, but it was pre-empted by the Home Makeover show, so I turned off the TV and wrote this entry.

    1: Shorn and Wooly.

    Cat Born with Two Tongues
    The girl's parents have had to become members of a US porn site to track the original video and clear their daughter's name.
    Proposal Tip: Don't Kill Her Older Brother

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    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    List Day: 5 Pet Peeves

    1. Bikers in the Road:
      Whether it's the mid-life-crisis Lance-wannabe guy squeezing two hundred pounds of mass into a one hundred pound spandex bag, or the ecologically-aware yuppy biking to work with the smarmy "I'm Saving Gas Money" sign (crayoned by a five-year-old) on the back of his seat, none of these clowns should be allowed on roads where the speed limit is higher than 25. You are not a car, you do not belong in the car lane, and you most certainly are not allowed to hog a lane of traffic up to a red light, then morph into a sidewalk-user to bike through the crosswalk. Also, the fact that the W&OD trail crosses a four lane highway in Sterling does not mean you get to dart across it without stopping unless you want a date with BUS BUMPR. All bikes belong on the bike path or the sidewalk.

    2. Books with Recaps:
      It's okay to drop a quick reminder to a reader if you're writing a series and something hasn't been mentioned in a while. It's not okay to spend the first eight chapters of your book filling everyone in about the plot of the previous book. Everyone who's reading the middle of a series probably read the beginning, and if people want to jump into the middle, it's their own fault if they don't know what's going on. If you are going to put recaps in your books, use a literature-approved pattern for identifying the recap, in case the reader wants to skip over it safely. One common pattern is the "massive paragraph full of old information that makes your eyes glaze over by line two". Using this pattern, discerning readers can quickly jump down to the new stuff without worries. The kids' series, The Great Brain was both the best and worst at this. Every single book described the town, the entire family, how J.D. looked like his ma but not his pa, and how T.D. had traits of both, and how little Frankie lost his parents in a landslide and didn't talk for months, ad nauseum. However, this was always Chapter One, and you could be assured that nothing new or important ever happened in Chapter One.

    3. Homestar Runner:
      I think Homestar Runner tries too hard and is 100% not funny. I could be biased, having gone to school with an entire area of study who lived and breathed it and quoted it constantly (another reason why it was hard being a CS Major). How is it funny in the least bit? And how did it get so mainstream these past few years? I guess if you read it religiously and are invested in the characters it takes on an "inside joke" cult status, but it's not my thing.

    4. Comedians Who Laugh at Themselves:
      A comedian's job is to make US laugh, and a joke just isn't as funny when you have a hard time getting through it yourself without laughing. It's even worse when you're laughing at yourself and you're not that funny to begin with. I was listening to a comic on XM with the most irritating laugh which sounded very much like an off-balanced washing machine on helium. He kept tittering to himself after every sentence, and the audience was completely flat. Then he started talking about "trail mix" people (you know, those people that walk around everywhere eating trail mix...) and that's when I made the executive decision to change the station.

    5. DVD Menus:
      If I buy a TV show on DVD, I don't want to see movie previews, especially not every single time the DVD starts. If I want to watch a show, there shouldn't be three hundred submenus to navigate through with an unskippable fade-out between each menu. I also feel that my purchase of the DVD entitles me to skip everything else on the DVD besides the features. This is 2005, and user-interface design has passed the point where you're allowed to add useless unskippable fills of camera panning and call it artistic (see also, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time). Finally, I know it's a crime to copy DVDs, and I know that when an actor says "I hated this bull-honky show" in the commentary track, it's not necessarily the opinion of Universal Pictures. I would be willing to sign a waiver if it meant that I never had to see these two warningsever again. I wonder if it's against the law to copy the sign that says not to copy tapes.

    On an unrelated note (like a flat four in a diatonic key), my car broke 40,000 miles as I rolled into work yesterday morning. My mileage was ridiculously low in Florida when I drove it once a week to Walmart to buy pizzas, but now that I am both a Northern Virginia driver and a social butterfly, I'm abusing it to no end.

    Hypno-Robber Strikes Again
    The bear fled the scene after the collision.
    Blog Therapy

    Yesterday's search terms:
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    Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    Every Entry Gets a Title This Week

    Last weekend, I got the first e-mail about my ten-year high-school reunion from our slacker-assed Class President, Mike Sharp. If I recall correctly, we actually had co-Presidents, the black girl (Tori) and the white guy (see above), so as to make sure that no one felt underrepresented. This was because we came from a high school that was ever so equal opportunity (a euphemism for "70% Black, 20% Hispanic, 9% White, with special guest star, BU, as the Token Asian #1"). So, Mike got to be the white President and dance with hot chicks (as seen in Figure A) and everyone in the world was complacent1.

    I have mixed feelings about attending a reunion and mingling with people I haven't seen in ten years, who are definitely not the same people they were back then. Everyone changes, and usually for the better, but after the standard "How are you? It's been a long time. What have you been up to since high school?" part, there's really nothing else to do but fall back on the old "Remember that time when...?" trick. This is great if, to you, high school was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but otherwise, not so much. I never find myself yearning to be back in high school, because most of the years were not particularly memorable or enjoyable. Though senior year was tons o' fun, with Mrs. Buckbee's English class , Mr. Esformes' passionate diatribes about the state of the government to disinterested kids who probably weren't planning on graduating, and that Carl Halmo guy running around saying "Fish Fingers" for some strange reason only he knows, I don't really need to relive the rest of it.

    They say you should go if only to laugh at the former rising stars who ended up crashing and burning, doomed to spend the rest of their days working the fry station as a double amputee after a particularly harrowing college accident involving Forty Friday and a wheat thresher. Honestly though, I don't think that any of the people I once knew would have fallen so far. I also never had any grudges or nemeses back then, so the news that anyone's fallen on hard times today would just be a disappointment, lacking in the vengeful glee department. I fully expect to go back and just see that people have moved farther along their timelines with no drastic surprises like sex changes or public offices, and as far as I know, no one has died (besides the girl I knew in junior high who was murdered a couple years ago).

    When I was in high school I was not popular at all, but I was very well-known. Being well-known opened just enough social doors so I could have a foot in every caste: I was a band geek from being drum major and playing trumpet, I did indoor track which gave me that HARDCORE ATHLETE!! persona, I did Crew which let me hang out with all the rich kids (despite having gone to the wrong junior high), and I made fun little games on my calculator which surrounded me with a bunch of guys who kept telling me I should write MODs, whatever that was. There was also a sect of the drama department that worshipped me for reasons beyond human understanding. They created a "Purple Platypus Club" which idolized me and then gave me a Beanie Baby platypus as a present (That was a little peculiar, but I still have the platypus on a basement shelf). What this means for a reunion is that I'd be able to recognize and chat with tons of people, but really wouldn't have any deep memorable experiences to share with most of them.

    When all is said and done, I'll probably end up going, if only to say that I did. That's the reason I do a lot of things!

    1: Apparently the Hispanics were not represented and no one cared, not even them. Vote for Pedro.

    [Kellenberg] is willing to sponsor a prom, but not an orgy.
    Dog bites author of dangerous dog law
    Prison for spin wash cat killer

    Yesterday's search terms:
    lionel kiddie city turn frown upside down, ruby tuesday mp3 free download, an essay on persuit of peace in kashmir

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    Thursday, October 20, 2005

    Musical Motives

  • I like Muse's Sing For Absolution (807KB MP3) more every time I hear it. It's easy to intend for a song to have an ear-catching haunting sound, but pulling it off is pretty difficult. Another song that I think pulls this off successfully is Train's Ordinary.

  • The end of this excerpt from Skindred's The Fear strongly reminds me of a similar sound from an 80s rock song, but I can't place it. Any ideas? (147KB MP3)

  • It was announced that Sharon Stone recently co-wrote a song for a Hurricane Katrina album. It must be nice to have so much money and fame that you can just decide to do stuff like that out of the blue. When I am independently wealthy after my sitcom script starring Richard Simmons gets syndicated, I will decide to become the lead singer in a Depeche Mode cover band. This will probably make more sense after tomorrow's update.

  • Since I last mentioned one of her songs in August, I've fallen in love with the timbre of Natalie Imbruglia's voice. The songs, like Counting Down the Days (324KB MP3) are nothing to write home about, but the sound of her voice easily adds ten points to the tally. Her use of descending tubular bells at the end of the song is unfortunate though. It sounds way too cheesy.

  • New on my playlist this week is this Girls Aloud song, Life Got Cold (557KB MP3). There's nothing spectacular about it -- I just like the sound of it.

  • This song, Shame and Scandal in the Family by The Madness makes me laugh: (353KB MP3). The complete lyrics are here: . Stress by Jimmy Infantino amuses me as well (483KB MP3).

  • The one thing I hate about XM Radio is how long the station identifications are. After every other song, you usually get to hear a 10 to 20 second bit for the station you're listening to. It's even worse when new DJs get on the air -- their block start with really bad introductions that run for a couple minutes or more.

  • Another new song on my playlist is KT Tunstall's Suddenly I See (430KB MP3). It's got a catchy progression despite the overly repetitive chorus. It almost sounds like it should be the theme song to a bad 90s daytime sitcom that might air after Caroline in the City.

  • We're going to see Serenity tonight. The TV series had great music, although I felt they overdid the whole "we're a Western so we have double stops on a violin" motif. I'll post a review on Monday

  • I have yet to hear a single song on the Black Eyed Peas' latest album that I enjoy listening to.

  • Choking the chicken deemed offensive
    She said she learned a great deal by doing Laurie's class work.
    Now, PLAY DEAD.

    Yesterday's search terms:
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    Friday, October 21, 2005

    Friday Fragments

    A weekly column promoting ADHD as an alternative lifestyle

  • Amazon.com reader reviews are occasionally very entertaining. I can see the advertising slogan now: Friends: The Complete Tenth Season - Not as gay as you expected!

  • The Hokies creamed Maryland 28-9 last night, and looked reasonably good doing it (despite a third quarter mini-game of Catch), and I didn't even notice any sportscaster fumbles on the name of our quarterback. Chris recently bought Jason a copy of World of Warcraft for his upcoming birthday, and they named their characters Mikus and Markal, in honor of sports commentators everywhere who cannot tell the Vick brothers apart.

  • I don't understand why songs from Star Wars are an integral part of pep band playbooks at every football game. The Marching Virginians were fairly low-key about it, using only the Imperial March. We had to play that retarded song every time the opponents' offense took the field. Last night, I think I heard the Maryland band play the complete symphonic score of the trilogy, although there could have been some Harry Potter or Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony mixed in there -- it all sounds the same.

  • I haven't mentioned any cats in a few days. Booty is liking this new cold weather trend because she can hide under the comforter near the heat vent. Underneath that picture is a sample of Sydney pretending to be one of those stick-on Garfield dolls from the 80s. Adding to this feline media smorgasbord is a movie of Amber tackling a toy and then getting tackled by Booty: (605KB WMV)

  • I'm a little underwhelmed by the second season of Lost so far. The Meanwhile on the other side of the island... approach to the first two episodes was annoying, if only because J.J. Abrams abused the device religiously on Alias.I'm also not buying the Michelle Rodriguez character one bit. Either she's a horrible actress or she's been given some off-camera direction to be as annoyingly hardcore as possible, because her character is like going to a student recital and listening to a ten minute marimba piece with one note in it. I have faith, at least, that there is an arc to this season, which is always a good thing. Even if a few episodes suck, it's nice to see things build and come together over the course of the season.

  • There are two weeks of reruns coming up, which is obnoxious. TV stations argue that people don't watch TV in certain weeks so they show reruns, which makes sense on holidays. But every other day of the week, more people would watch if they just had some entertaining new material to see. When I am independently wealthy following my lawsuit against McDonald's for marking a wet floor with a CUIDADO sign that had no English translation, I'm going to own and run a TV station that will have two seasons of original programming every year. Instead of taking a 24-show season and distending it to fill up the year, I will show it without breaks and then put on a different series for the other half of the year. All the hour long dramas that you can get into will show in the Fall/Winter, and all the annoying reality shows will take the Spring/Summer. Other open slots on the station will be filled with marathons of funny sitcoms and Whose Line Is It Anyways?. Tune in to BUB in about ten years -- it will have a very cool station ID in the lower right corner of the screen involving a stylized Booty.

  • While transcribing some intsrumental warm-ups for a local middle school, I realized that I have forgotten almost all of the ranges and transpositions for middle school wind instruments. I used to know the high/low/questionable ranges by heart. I guess this means that I need to write more pep band music until it all comes screaming back to me.

  • Readership of this site has nearly halved this week to about 50 viewers per day, and I don't even spend paragraphs convincing people to watch Alias anymore. What gives?

  • I have absolutely no opinion in the Kaine-Kilgore race and feel that neither one will do irreparable damage to the Commonwealth. If you think about it, every major controversial issue is so hotly divided that there will never be any success in resolving them during the short term of a Governor. No matter how much they pontificate about their views and what they will do, chances are very good that nothing will be accomplished by the end of their terms. All of the Kaine-Kilgore commercials annoy me (with typical tricks like cutting two unrelated words out of a newspaper story and then putting them together as a voice overphrase). What annoys me more are all the rubes who actually pay attention to the commercials, making them so effective.

  • I think Tom DeLay looks like a used car salesman . He's obviously guilty of all the vices they're pinning on him, but then again, so is every single politician out there. I would like to gain public office so I can release random statements about world events and appear on CNN.com as an expert opinion in stories with a little party ID next to my name. Rep. Brian Uri! (VA-I) said of the fire, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific camping accident. I plan on introducing legislature in the Spring to curtail the runaway safety abuses of the propane industry. Unless they pay me more than you." I picked Independent as my party affiliation in the previous sentence because I doubt either real party would pick me. I think there's a Britney Spears song about this, "I'm not a Democrat, not yet a Republican".

  • This weekend is looking to be a busy one. Tonight I plan on doing some more painting in the guest room, followed by a low-key night out to be in with the local riff-raff. Tomorrow afternoon I'm going down to Dumfries for Nikki and Rod's wedding. Dumfries is such a great city name -- they should rename the county seat to Dumshake or Dumburger. On Sunday, I have an evening rehearsal for Mikado up in Maryland somewhere.

  • Have a good weekend!

  • But in the past, crowds have beaten up astrologers when their predicted demise failed to occur.
    Duo considered the Olsen Twins of White Supremacy
    He said if he was going to go down, he was going to go down in Larry Bird's jersey

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    Monday, October 24, 2005

    Last Thursday night, we went to see the movie, Serenity, the big-screen adaptation of the cancelled TV series, Firefly. As a fan of the show, I thought the movie was pretty much perfect -- bringing most of the abruptly-ended storylines to a satisfying close. It didn't make the normal big-screen mistake of trying to overdo the story with a big budget (see The X-Files for a good example of bad excesses), and really was just a new episode in the continuing storyline.

    This movie is best seen if you've watched the TV show (and there's only half a season's worth of episodes so it's easy to play catch up). Though the first few minutes do a good job of introducing all the characters, their relationships, and the conflicts, you will not get your money's worth if you aren't already emotionally invested in the characters. However, even people who have never watched the series will still be able to enjoy a solid space adventure movie. Overall, I loved the twists of the plot and the way it tied everything from the TV series together. Go watch it and support quality storytelling, because there's something wrong with a world where the DOOM movie is #1 in its opening week.

    After the movie ended, we stayed through the entire credits sequence so Anna could see if they would play the theme song. At the bitter end, theyplayed the accompaniment, but without the vocals. Anna would not be a Karaoke star for our amusement, so we left without hearing the lyrics.

    Speaking of a band of fugitives flying through space with a psychic, here's what I did with my weekend. On Saturday, I finished painting the guest room a light blue (which is not nearly as vibrant and jarring as the illustration would suggest), so all I need to do now is lay the carpet and install the moulding. Then, I will be able to house twice as many drunken wenches when I host bacchanals and bat mitzvahs at my home.

    After painting with my peculiar panoply of pastels, I went to the lovely wedding of Nikki and Rod at a church just outside Quantico in Triangle, Virginia. Nikki is yet one more old college friend who has paired up and do-si-do'ed into the married afterlife. It's always fun to go to the wedding of a music major because they place so much emphasis on getting good quality music. No trumpets, this time around, but voices and oboes a-plenty. I also saw many folks from Virginia Tech, divided into three categories: people I knew by name (maybe 3), people I could recognize but not attach a name to (most of them), and people who could recognize me but I'd never seen before in my life (the rest of them). Who will be next to jump on the marriage bandwagon? Kelley Corbett?

    On Sunday, I went to a rehearsal in Maryland for Mikado, and played 2nd Cornet on a part that irritatingly rotated transpositions between A and Bb after each song.

    Happy Day-After-Birthday to Jason Mirick, who turned like 50 yesterday, and Happy Birthday Beza Lemma who turns 27 today!

    The nut-cracking gorillas
    Scientists released the Norway rat on the island to find out why rats are so difficult to eradicate.
    Meese decapitate moose statue

    tagged as reviews, day-to-day | permalink | 6 comments

    Tuesday, October 25, 2005

    Like four sticks of dynamite in a placid Oklahoma pond, the music world was rocked on its foundations on October 25, 1981, with the birth of Anna Marie Spellerberg. In her formative years, this future Grammy-winning diva was best known for being a part-time music major at Virginia Tech and performed various unplugged duets with cats on the Vaudeville circuit (2MB WMV). As a child, she often dreamed of making it big, and possibly transitioning from music into showbiz, starring in a critical box office success with visionaries like Bruce Willis or Frankie Muniz. But it wasn't until she met Booty that these dreams became more than a passing whimsy.

    Athena Hornsboot, born on October 25, 2002, and now known by her stage name, Booty, was a musical superstar among cats. Her first great success was choreographing a music video for KC and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty, which she also starred in. As luck would have it, she was touring in northern Virginia when Anna's singing career was in a temporary slump. Booty convinced Anna to quit her dead-end job at a car dealership, change her surname to Ahlbin, and sing on Booty's somphomore CD, Everything is Bootyful.

    The CD went on to sell millions of copies, and one of their B tracks, Look We Have the Same Birthday, was the fourth most popular download for the year 2004 on Kazaa. It looked like this was a partnership for the ages, to rival even Rodgers and Hammerstein, or Sonny and Cher, until one fateful day when Anna stumbled across Booty putting the moves on Ben, Anna's husband, in the dressing room at the MCI Center.

    Harsh words were exchanged, and in a sandstorm of tears and catfighting, the musical duo that brought smiles to millions of Sudanese refugees was dissolved. Anna moved to Manassas and began grooming a brand new animal partner for her act while Booty retired in the lap of luxury with her personal groupie, Amber. In interviews, each performer insists the other was at fault, and it does not appear as if a resolution is anywhere in the near future. In the meantime, fans everywhere have cried for more of their musical genius, even just one more song as an epilogue to their brilliant careers.

    Would these two former friends ever resolve their creative differences and come together to create another Grammy-winning album? You'll find out after the break, here on

    British and U.S. officials said the tour was designed to show Alabamans that diplomacy is relevant to their lives.
    A mysterious object turned out not to be a bomb, but a device that was supposed to scare off aliens believed to be living under the ground.
    From the People Who Don't Deserve to Win the Lottery file

    tagged as random, favourites | permalink | 5 comments

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    List Day: 10 Cold Weather Tidbits

    1. I HATE waking up to a cold and dark double header. The frostbite-inducing chill of an early morning house and post-shower dryoff would be okay if some semblance of sunshine came softly through my window today, and I have no problems getting up when the night is still pitch black in the summertime. The tactile atrocity coupled with the lack of visual stimuli destroy my wake-up genes and force me to set two more alarms just to get me out of bed. The hungry cats help too, of course.

    2. I LIKE snow. I will sit in a window seat and watch it snow for hours, then I will go outside and shovel my driveway in neat orderly rows or just wander around in the muffled quiet, punctuated only by the faint sounds of the occasional speeding SUV overturning on the highway. I like wet snow more than dry snow. I have tried to make Calvin and Hobbes snowmen, but they're never as good in 3D without ink outlines. I like wearing boots and stomping piles of dirty slush. I like sliding around on ice and like the fact that my neighbourhood does not get plowed -- giving me ample excuses to work from home in snowy weather with a three-year-old Booty on my lap instead of in the office. I think this is the only instance where I can use the phrase "three-year-old Booty" and not end up on an FBI child pornography watch-list.

    3. I HATE warming up the car on cold mornings, and hate deicing windows even more. I am too crime conscious to start the car and head back inside, so I sit out there while losing sensation in my fingers and toes. I hate people in big cars that poke a tiny hole in their windshield view and then bombard people with snow and ice on the highway, so I always clean my windows off fully.

    4. I LIKE holiday cheer. I don't always decorate much, but I like driving past garishly motel-signesque Nativity scenes and seeing candles in the windows. I like holiday food and coming in out of the cold to the smell of oven-fresh giblets. I wish there were more chocolate-based holiday cookies.

    5. I HATE cold feet (the literal variety). The rest of my body could be hypothermic and I wouldn't notice if my feet are warm and dry. I hate having to lounge around the house with socks on, and find it strange that sometimes your feet are actually warmer if you go barefoot and tuck them under your legs (although maybe I just don't own any warm socks). I hate when I have cold feet and I'm wearing shoes, because not only are the shoes failing at keeping the cold out, but there's also no easy way to warm them up without taking off the shoes. I love those little heat packs that you snap and put in your soles to keep your feet warm all day long but I haven't used any since VT football. I hate cold ears too

    6. I LIKE the bite associated with Fall evening air, before it's so cold that you have to bundle up to look like a fat kid who watches TV all day with his hand in the peanut brittle jar. Bitey air is the first sign of Fall.

    7. I HATE being the first one at work, since the building's heat does not come on until two hours after I arrive. However, since I get to come home at 2, this balances out, since I am safely ensconced in my warm house long before the sun goes down.

    8. I LIKE the fact that I can be completely lazy without guilt when it's cold out. I can hibernate indoors and play games, read books, or zone out by the television and defer any productive contributions to society until the Spring. I like raking though, so I will always rake. I like raking even more in Sterling because I don't have to bag the leaves -- I just rake them into the forest. I should try that with my trash too -- I would save about $90 per quarter.

    9. I HATE the heating bills that come from living in a house with a heat pump. Using the A/C or the Heat steadily for a month adds sixty dollars to my utilities bill. However, a warm house is classified as a necessity in my book, on par with hot water, light, and weekly meals at Popeyes.

    10. I LIKE piling blankets on my bed. By the time winter has reached its peak, I'm usually burrowed under a sheet, a blanket, the bedspread, two fleece coverlets and a gigantic sheepskin. I like watching cats nurse the sheepskin.

    11. I HATE people who make pretentious lists artistic by capitalizing more words than necessary at the start of a paragraph.

    Surely this wasn't how the stickup was supposed to go down.
    But the driver -- who had just bought a cup of hot coffee -- slammed the car door into the carjacker's legs, threw the coffee at his neck and face and wrestled him to the ground.
    Mourners had laid wreaths and teddy bears for what they thought was a human baby discovered in a back alley.

    Yesterday's search terms:
    what is cemetary etiquette, joss stone choking mp3, jehovah's witness songs, alizee dentist

    tagged as lists | permalink | 1 comment

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Yesterday while shopping for Halloween trinkets in a crafts store, the register came up with a $3.13 total. Without a moment's hesitation, I had my debit card out and ready to pay this monstrous third-world debt tab. It was then that I realized I had become one of those yuppy cashless consumers that you read about in the paper all the time. I made five separate stops yesterday during errands time and paid with debit every single time. Thankfully I'm not so bad that I charge everything yet -- my credit card only sees the outside of my wallet for online purchases and prostitutes. By the way, that $3.13 got me two outdoor tealight holders in the form of tiny jack o' lanterns which I can stake into my overgrown lawn so all the annoying eighth graders that are too cool for costumes but still expect candy know where the sidewalk is.

    My lawn is quite overgrown at the moment, since I haven't mowed it in about three weeks and it's been raining for just as long. The newly seeded portions along the sidewalk are finally growing in, and has that cutesy baby grass look to it, but the rest of the lawn could easily be the set for the next sequel to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, one of those classic 80s movies that consists of a bunch of kids on an adventure where most of the script involves shouting and screaming (see also, Goonies). I used to watch the shrinking movie all the time as a kid (there was a Roger Rabbit short at the beginning of the tape as well) but that was definitely another movie that didn't deserve to be part of a trilogy. It was followed by the horribly-titled (and horrible) Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (which could have made for an incendiary premise had they not taken the tame route of enlarging the baby and setting him on Las Vegas), and then Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves which tactfully went straight to video.

    Since it's already proven that Hollywood loves converting atrocious piles of fecal matter into big-screen bucks, they should create a movie starring all the big child stars of the 80s crammed together into a brand new adventure. At a minimum, the ragtag bunch of misfits who eventually bond together and save the day should include the Short Round kid, Corey Feldman, Drew Barrymore, the Truffle Shuffle kid, and Ralph Macchio from The Karate Kid. The villain should definitely be Glenn Close, since she's scary-looking even in her serious movies, and her sidekick would be the Pee Wee Herman guy. Doesn't this sound like a winning combination?

    Dad thinks son was shafted on disciplinary report
    "i recently had to delete my old myspace because of school conflicts, but whatevvv"
    Survival of the fittest even applies to crossing guards

    Yesterday's search terms:
    calculate gallons of paint to ton of miscellaneous steel

    permalink | 3 comments

    Friday, October 28, 2005

    Friday Fragments

    A weekly column which eliminates any need for coherency

  • The Hokie's new uniform is funky-looking. Asymmetrical styles don't appeal to my anal sense of order and the white lines on the shoulders make them look like one of those costume shirts with the naked lady outline (generally worn by an obese redneck). Luckily the uniforms don't seem to affect the efficacy of their offense, since they beat BC 30-10.

  • Frank Beamer was quoted in the Post as saying something to the effect of "For Nike, we change uniforms." It's cute that he resisted getting new uniforms until Nike decided to pay him $80,000 to go with the millions of dollars he gets for being a coach.

  • I think it's funny that the announcer on the field had visual aids which she used to demonstrate how one of the player's broken arms was repaired. I also find it amusing that they give the female announcer all the "public interest" type stories (like who travelled a million miles to see their son play and why Michael Vick is a father figure) rather than anything pertinent to the game itself. Which ESPN programmer was the first person to say, "Put some boobies down on the field but don't let her say anything useful"?

  • This is my new favourite example of why people shouldn't be allowed to participate in the elective process: a mayor in Prince George's County enacts a policy to intercept all police mail, gets charged with assaulting people, throws hissy fits at meetings, and then fires the police chief and takes over the department herself. The country would be better off if I had the final say in all elections, and I would probably be pretty well off after hiding all the bribes I get from the IRS.

  • Here's another entertaining example of Amber's learning disability. Watch as she tries to catch the flow of water out of the faucet by biting it! As a postscript, she wasn't upset about being soaked until after she got out (605KB WMV)
    In other cat news, my sister who lives in a house the size of a cubicle with a husband, two dogs, and two cats, just got another kitten. That's an obscene amount of fauna.

  • I'm not counting the husband as one of the fauna, but to each his own.

  • McDonald's runs their burger meat through a metal detector before shipping it out in the name of quality. I don't know if this is a new initiative since 9/11, but it's a good idea -- a terrorist explosion of a Happy Meal would be abominable. Get it? Ha ha!

  • Does anyone seriously go to McDonald's in search of healthy food? All you really need to know is that the chicken products will kill you one day later than the beef products. If you're ordering the salad, you're wasting your money.

  • Really fast turn signals make me agitated. There's no reason why they should make cars with an epilepsy-inducing blink rate, unless they plan to use them to patrol the perimeter of a Maximum Security Prison for the Criminally Epileptic. I also get annoyed when I turn the car off and the windshield wipers get stuck halfway. I will start the car again just to return them to the rest position. Share some of your neuroses in the comments section!

  • The Marching Virginians screwed up the VPI Victory March last night, with half the band playing one beat behind the rest of the band for about 15 seconds. I'm not quite sure how that is possible. The scenarios I have come up with involve one drum major with a vendetta against the other over a baby of questionable parentage, or a segment of the crowd that's so drunk they leave off one letter when spelling out "H-O-K-I-E-S Hokies", thus throwing the band off.

  • I don't understand why Ambilight (the glowing light that comes out of the sides of a wall-mounted Philips TV) makes your viewing experience so much better. Isn't it just lighting up the wall around your TV? Wouldn't you want the area around the TV dark to better see the contrasts on the screen itself? I guess I'm behind on the technology curve.

  • Can you tell I wrote this update last night while watching the football game?

  • Introducing Booty with Ambilight. Enhance your Booty enjoyment by pretending she's a low rider on a country road at night, and making vroom vroom noises as she walks into your room.

  • I don't think my $20 ukelele from Target is going to get here until November 2. That's disappointing, especially since the estimated delivery date on their site was October 27.

  • I feel like this year is going by ridiculously fast -- only 57 shopping days until Christmas! I have purchased about 20% of the Christmas gifts I plan on buying and still don't know what to get several other people.

  • I have a variety of Halloween stuff going on this weekend, as well as another rehearsal for Mikado on Saturday morning. On Sunday, I'm arranging the Westfield High School fight song so middle schoolers can play it. This afternoon my Dad and I will be laying the carpet in the upstairs guest room, which is probably my last major house beautification project for a couple months. As the holidays approach, I want to start the next level of certification for Java programming, so I can put another line on my resumé and rake in the big bucks. I also plan on hosting Thanksgiving Dinner four times next month because I am slightly masochistic and stuffing is tasty.

  • Have a good weekend!

  • Peppin said that, seen on the X-ray, the cookie resembled organic material that could be a raw component of a homemade bomb.
    It looked like cracked pepper at the time. But it had a real strong odor ... a foul odor.
    If he succeeds, it will be his crowning acheivement - doubly impressive since he clearly didn't get Claudia Schiffer up the duff despite his legendary powers.

    tagged as fragments | permalink | 13 comments

    Monday, October 31, 2005

    Happy Halloween!

    If you are reading this and you work with me, there's a massive mountain of sugar and chocolate on my desk. Please partake freely. If you are in my house because you are a daytime burglar, there is a ridiculous amount of beverages left in my fridge. Please partake freely, and leave all the rest of my crap behind.

    In honor of Halloween, I have gone through my backlog of pictures from the past month and posted them all in the Photos section. Follow this link to see the pictures of the newly-completed guest room. Follow this one to see a couple pictures from Nikki's wedding. Follow this particular link to see a bunch of cats and dogs and follow this link to see a bunch of pictures from the ridiculously black Halloween Party we had on Saturday night in my basement. As always, you can use the left and right arrows on those pages to browse through the pictures in order, or you can use the menu on the left-hand side to jump to another section.

    I do not plan on giving out candy tonight, because half the kids are one year old and have no idea why their parents have dressed them up as ghosts, and the other half of the kids do not wear any costumes. It really kills the magic of the holiday. Maybe I will just leave a bulk box of raisins and apples on my stoop. Every neighbourhood has to have the weird house where the owner doesn't want to answer the door, so he leaves a big basket on the steps, trusting in the goodness of kids, and every neighbourhood also needs the dentist who passes out healthy snacks -- I could kill two birds with one stone.

    Body mistaken for a Halloween prop
    Because adding dialect to your article gives it that local flair
    Alice and I wanted to have a name that was exotic and American and which stood for something good

    permalink | 1 comment

     

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