11/2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

This weekend was a mix of work and play, which sadly did not include any volcanic sand beaches or hikes through the jungle. On Friday evening, we went to a Halloween party in Gainesville at Mike & Beth's house. I attended as "Costume Fail" since I like costumes that take as little effort as possible. This new costume worked out, although I had to spend a lot of time intefering with other people's navigation in my frame (much like any website from 1998).

At this particular party, there were victims of domestic abuse, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, a custom-made Double-Dare uniform, as well as The Money You Could Save with GEICO, among many others.

On Saturday, I put in a few hours working on session timeout issues and then downloaded a new game, Torchlight, which so far has been a great $20 Diablo-clone with all the annoying parts taken out.

In the evening, Rebecca came home from work and we discovered that party #2 had been cancelled, so we went straight to Party #3 in McLean. I reused my Holiday Box costume so I wouldn't keep bumping into things and ate several hundred wings. We also came in 2nd in a Halloween trivia contest and saw a puppy dressed up as a pumpkin.

Sunday was a rather slow day, during which I spent most of the day resetting the half of the clocks that didn't automatically update. We closed the weekend out with some tasty burgers at Red Robin and an episode of Burn Notice.

Hello November!

Stray gator no match for pet store owner
Arnold tells the legislature where to go
Ex-Notre Dame worker to repay much of $29,000 tip

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Museday Tuesday

  1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
  2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
  3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
  4. It should be composed in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
  5. The title of the piece must be a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

Tenebrous: (adj.) Gloomy, dark, obscure.

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

I pictured this word as "cloudy with spider webs", and though I tried to make it stand apart, it does share a few qualities from the Tenebrae theme of the old computer game, Ultima 8. This one's not written for a particular instrumentation -- I just used whichever patches happened to sound good at the time.

NH Restaurant sets meatball record
Police win with Marco Polo
The two are now friends.

tagged as museday | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hawaii Honeymoon Part II

When it comes to beaches, Kauai does everything right. Besides the rule that every beach is public property, regardless of which movie star's house abuts the area, There are also picnic pavilions, showers, and reasonably clean bathrooms available at major stopping points. Camping is allowed at several beaches, and because being an island leads to a very high proportion of coastlines, you can usually just roll your car into one of the million little highway shoulder spots and find your own personal stretch of unofficial beachspace.

We went to seven beaches on our honeymoon (because we value methodical research and sitting), and each one was different enough from the others to warrant the visit -- picture the Outer Banks if the scenery changed every half a mile.

Hanakapi'ai Beach:
This pleasant North Shore beach with an unswimmable winter current sat at the mouth of a boulder-strewn river, and was filled mostly with lunch-munching hikers. The fact that it's at the end of an arduous two-mile mountain hike did not stop the gaggle of barefoot teenagers who hauled their surfboards all the way there to catch the waves, or the crazy barefoot runners just out for some exercise.

Hanalei Bay Beach:
This is the beach pictured in this photo -- a giant crescent-shaped bay surrounded by high-end resorts and coconuts on the North Shore. We spent an hour just walking from one end of the crescent to the other, although the dock area had been conquered by a band of mosquitoes.

'Anini Beach:
We looked for the "On this spot on August 4, 2006, Kathy and Kelley tied the knot" sign here, but it must have been defaced by the same locals who erected the "DRIVE SLOW: THINK OF THE CHILDREN" cardboard sign on the road. This beach was protected by a coral reef about five football fields away from the shore, so the water was crystal clear and shallow. We tried our hand at snorkeling here and saw more fish than a viewing of Finding Nemo.

Donkey Beach:
Donkey Beach is small, secluded by a five minute walk, and does not resemble a donkey in the least bit. However, this East Shore beach was completely empty when we visited, so we had the whole thing to ourselves, including an odd assortment of ropes and urns hanging from trees that resembled a chicken playground.

Waipouli Beach:
This was "our" beach at the condo and was divided into three sections: a tidepool filled with all sorts of crabs, a normal beach, and a rock-enclosed pool where ancient Hawaiians fattened up their biggest fish for feasts. On one of our last days, an endangered monk seal rolled up on the northern end of the beach, and the velvet ropes immediately blocked off a twenty yard radius around him while he napped. It's illegal to taunt a monk seal, so they get the royal treatment whenever they come ashore. The downside is that there aren't many chick monk seals left to boink.

Kiahuna Beach:
Sometimes renamed Sheraton Beach, this one was tiny but mere steps away from the resort. The South Shore was in winter mode, so the area was very crowded, but this was balanced out by the little flags you could stick in the sand to get beach-side drinks.

Kekaha Beach:
Kekaha Beach is the only West Shore beach we visited -- it's in the arid region, and there are just miles and miles of soft-sand beaches without any city centers. The entire left shoulder of the main highway is a beach parking lot, so it's easy to find a private spot. We considered driving all the way to the end (another 15 miles), but worried that it would void our warranty if the rental car got stuck on one of the dirt/sand roads where the paving stopped.

To be continued someday...

Fellatio keeps male fruit bats keen
Police seek serial groin-kicker
County seeks to prevent shouting at inmates

tagged as travel | permalink | 3 comments

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story:
This is the latest game in the Mario RPG series, which includes Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, and Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time -- two of my favourite games. Bowser's Inside Story brings nothing new to the mix, but it's well-done and fun to play. Mario and Luigi accidentally get inhaled by Bowser, and spend the game running around his insides playing mini-games while Bowser travels around the overland map. Bowser's innards are not literally represented, so you don't have to play any minigames in his colon.

Improvements over the old games include being able to practice your special moves in a sandbox mode, although there are far too many tutorials that you have to skip over if you're an experienced player: a cut-scene is not needed to learn that the Hammer is the B button and it breaks stuff. The last dungeon also drags on a bit too long, but none of the game is too hard so it's a good investment of about 20 hours of play-time.

Final Grade: B+

Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica:
Part-memoir and part-expose, this humourous book about a career waiter in an upscale restaurant is well-written and engrossing. He starts repeating himself a little towards the end, but this seems to be a problem with any book that evolved out of someone's blog.

Final Grade: A-

The Brothers Bloom:
I like con/heist movies with intricate plans and twists, and this one was light in tone and easy to follow. The side character, "Yueng Ling" steals the spotlight as an explosive expert who almost never says anything.

Final Grade: B

Mental by Eddie Sarfaty:
This (like Waiter Rant) is one of Rebecca's books, but I burn through books so fast that sometimes they aren't even published yet by the time I'm done. I turned to this one on the plane back from Hawaii -- it's autobigraphical, but told in a series of non-chronological humour essays. Easy to read and easy to enjoy.

Final Grade: B+

Breathalyzer accused of DUI
Researchers fit calf with prosthetic legs
Robbery suspect ID'd through yearbooks

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Fragments

offering the secret of the universe as a self-study decryption exercise

♠ After six and a half years of a Pentium 2, I finally got a new computer at work that zooms along at the speed of speed. "puffin" will now be the birthplace of amazing coding miracles, and "llama" will be relegated to the pile of useless machines that ultimately turn into webservers because they can't handle anything more complex.

♠ There are only two problems with the new computer -- it's running Vista, and it has no AGP slots for my World-of-Warcraft-era graphics card. How am I supposed to get any raiding done at only 12 frames per second? Then again, that's a phenomenal speed for someone who makes eyeglasses.

♠ In Virginia, you can't buy new glasses without a prescription that's less than a year old, so every time I get new glasses, I stock up on 2 - 3 pairs. While looking through my cupboard last week, I discovered that I now have 5 pairs of glasses with slightly varying prescriptions that are all in perfect condition. With the proper care, I could probably make it to my dotage and never need to return to the optometrist. Of course, the easier solution is to just keep wiping them on my pants until they get scratched up like an emo lottery ticket.

♠ I have never bought a single lotto ticket, but we were allowed to scratch one of our grandparent's tickets every week in Michigan. My net winnings came out to $5 and a free ticket. I had much better luck with the Monopoly McDonald's game -- I was a pro at getting the grand prize "free small drink".

♠ This weekend is the first of my Thanksgivings, featuring a supporting cast of work folks and their kids. I also may do some raking and watching of the first season of Dollhouse, which is good so far despite the retarded introductory sequence.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Man accidentally ejects himself from plane
Rebels ban musical ringtones
Moonshine turns horse race rowdy

tagged as fragments | permalink | 2 comments

Monday, November 09, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

Thanksgiving #1 was a success, in spite of the balmy 75 degree weather that prevented me from playing Christmas tunes in the background out of fear that the guests might experience some sort of shocking brainwave dissonance from the jarring juxtaposition.

This meal was a turkey meal, which allowed us to use the new high-tech Turkey Baster from our wedding registry (we actually registered for two of them, for unexplained reasons that we still cannot recall). My previous baster from the bachelor years was made of melted poisonous plastic from the 70s and incapable of maintaining suction, so oven liquids often splashed around and ended up on whatever nonfiction books I was reading near the stove (this is baste on a true story).

After hosting eleven Thanksgivings over the past five years, I have the preparation down to a science. It's made easier by the introduction of sous-chef Rebecca, who has proven that four hands are even more helpful to have than Whose Line Is It Anyways? might suggest. We now have low-stress Model T assembly line perfected (and the T is for Thanksgiving, of course).

This meal also featured a pound of bacon in various forms.

Colonel Sanders breaks into the UN
Giant jellyfish sink fishing trawler
Tired from a tough hike? Rescuers fear Yuppie 911

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Museday Tuesday

  1. The composition can be for any instrumentation. It can have an actual score or be a pure synthesized realization that might not be possible to perform in the real world.
  2. It must not be longer than thirty seconds.
  3. It does not necessarily have to have a start, middle, and end -- it can just be a fragment of something grander.
  4. It should be composed in thirty minutes or less. If time runs out, I post whatever I managed to finish, be it good, indifferent, or makeup on a corpse.
  5. The title of the piece must be a word from a random word generator, although this word doesn't necessarily have to be incorporated in the piece.

Vigilante: (adj.) Done violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures

My Composition (0:30 MP3)

This evoked a western cowboyish theme in my mind, something like any one of James Curnow's band fanfares. In spite of the crappy trumpet patch, and the fact that the counter melody kept trying to become the theme from that high-school standard, Emperata Overture, this one was fun to write.

Beatle seen in a drop of water
I live without cash - and I manage just fine
Brazilian student expelled for mini-skirt

tagged as museday | permalink | 0 comments

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Memory Day: November 11

Happy Veterans' Day / Kelley Corbett's Birthday. I'll be working from home today since our company contracts to the government, and the government takes their holidays very, very seriously. I'm sure there was at least one government program manager who took the day before or after this one off to give a little more time of reflection and/or golf to the enlisted men.

I've never been a big fan of the concept of floater holidays that turn successive years of holidays into musical chairs where you must stop working regardless of how retardedly they break up the week. Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln had the right idea claiming Monday holidays instead of this floating nonsense (this is also why I prefer table layouts to pure CSS -- the "float" attribute is a communist disruptor).

For the breadth of my career in the working world, I've worked every Veterans' Day, so I've never had any special plans to observe this blatant overuse of the number 11. Back in the tenth grade, circa 1993, I celebrated Veterans' Day by going to an Eagle Scout dinner at the Mark Radisson in Alexandria -- a hyperly-hyped event where new Eagle scouts were paired up with big names from the business world to show how we could become even bigger tools in the future.

Of course, my sponsor didn't even bother to show up, so I spent an evening listening to ridiculously bad speeches and drawing everything at my table on the program. The motto printed on the program was "There is no end to the Eagle Scout trail" which can either be ambitious or depressingly maudlin, depending on how naive you are, and the motto for the evening might have been "There is no end to this dinner".

By the time I had run out of space on the program cover, we were two and a half hours into the speeches with no conclusion in sight. This is when I walked out to wait for my ride and to preserve my sanity.

Unfortunately, I did not exercise the walk-out option later in life when Shac made us watch The Thin Red Line in the theatre.

Wedding ring found in ten tons of trash
Miss England surrenders crown over bar brawl
Milwaukee muggers see Army ID, return wallet

tagged as memories | permalink | 5 comments

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12

This month's pictures definitely aren't as cool as last month's.


5:52 AM: Back on the early morning schedule.

6:17 AM: In the office on a gloomy, damp washcloth of a morning.

8:36 AM: On a muted conference call, apparently sleeping under my desk.

1:26 PM: As the view from my camera did not change while I was working, I shelved the camera until on my way home.

1:35 PM: Passing the tree that was hit by a freak thunderstorm last June.

1:42 PM: Amber likes when I come home, because she can lick the newspaper bag. Apparently our delivery man continues to eat sausage biscuits while delivering our paper

1:53 PM: A lunch of leftover turkey, stuffing, and bacon bits.

2:24 PM: Tweaking some MP3s of the Ewazen accompaniment I transcribed a few years back, for some Canadian trumpeter who plans on performing the piece.

4:30 PM: Playing a little Torchlight, which is addictive but vapid, with a few minor annoying bits.

6:14 PM: Time for some closet organization!

8:23 PM: Dinner tonight will be a Totino's pizza with extra cheese.

9:22 PM: Rebecca comes home from hanging out with Emily and hilarity ensues.

See more 12 of 12ers at Chad's site!

New Mexico city braces for salt mine collapse
Villagers keep incarnation of God imprisoned
Bounce back in style at the divorce fair

tagged as 12 of 12 | permalink | 6 comments

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Fragments

since today is unlucky, he knew that the bank wasn't open on the first of the month

♠ I've come to the conclusion that Pandora.com is secretly owned by certain musicians who use it to nonchalantly inject their music into places it doesn't belong. No matter what types of music I express interest in, be it Chicks that Sing, or the Contemporary Hawaiian genre, sooner or later Jack Johnson's going to come along and croon about his pancakes or some other retardedness. I'm half tempted to start a Death Metal station just to await his inexorable arrival.

♠ I don't really understand the draw of Metal as a kind of music. I understand that noise can be an aspect of music (after all, I liked Muse even before they went soft), but noise without rhythm, pitch, or harmony isn't music. I'd sooner listen to a UNICEF benefit concert featuring Rasputina, M.I.A., and Tatu covering songs by John Tesh than go to a Saliva concert.

♠ I actually have seen Saliva in concert, since they managed to open for Aerosmith/KISS back in 2003. They, and all the fans that just came to hear them, had nothing at all in common with the headliners. Picture a group of guys doing kindergarten calisthenics to the sounds of trucks downshifting on the highway while searching for a bodily alternative to decongestants and you no longer need to go yourself. Plus, if they were a real Metal band, they would employ brass instruments.

♠ Yesterday, some trumpeter from up north requested the canned accompaniments I'd done for the Ewazen trumpet sonata, and it made me realize that I haven't picked up a trumpet in over a year and a half, and I hadn't practiced for two consecutive days in over three years. I think that means that I'm ready to join a community band to give my lack of practice a purpose.

♠ I haven't been in a community band since 10th grade, and at the time, it was really annoying to be last chair to a bunch of rejects from the Glenn Miller Band. I think it was age discrimination.

♠ Plans for the weekend include some more filing, shredding, and cleaning, as well as Thanksgiving #2 on Sunday night. It's time for HAM.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Man sends in new picture for his mugshot
Lowes clerk discounted hardware to woo a boyfriend
Meep! is banned in Massachusetts school

tagged as fragments | permalink | 3 comments

Monday, November 16, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up


Booty would like some ham.

Man arrested for dialing 911 and asking for sex
Facebook status update and IHOP, an unbeatable alibi
Deer loses fight with a lawn ornament

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 1 comment

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

List Day: Currently...

  • Currently listening to... Lost Songs by Ellie Lawson.

  • Currently reading... Coders at Work by Peter Seibel, The Cases that Haunt Us by John Douglas, and D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths.

  • Currently playing... Torchlight.

  • Currently composing... something for wind band.

  • Currently considering buying... New Super Mario Brothers Wii, in spite of the unimaginative title. Booty could make a better title pooping Scrabble tiles.

  • Currently storing... four pounds of leftover ham in the fridge.

  • Currently coding... updates to the Stone Band website and a document download servlet.

  • Currently planning... whether to travel somewhere for New Year's.

  • Currently writing... wedding gift thank-you notes.

  • Currently watching... Fringe: Season One, Burn Notice: Season Two, and How I Met Your Mother: Season Two.

  • Currently eating... a Blueberry Nutri-Grain cereal bar. I feel GREAT.

  • Currently anticipating... Popeyes for lunch.

  • Currently exercising... my right to not exercise.

This update was sponsored in part by LiveJournal.

The Google town that lives only online
Bad memories imprinted with lasers
Even quadriplegics have the right to bear arms

tagged as lists | permalink | 2 comments

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hawaii Honeymoon Part III

Having been tiny people since birth, most of the hikes on Kauai would have depleted our caloric composition to below zero, so it was in our health's best interest to consume as many different kinds of food as possible. Besides the fact that seafood is present in almost every restaurant, there is no specific Kauai cuisine. There's only an interesting hodge podge of ethnic plates from sushi to tacos to burgers. Here are four of the more memorable restaurants we ate at while on the island:

Sheraton Resort: We ate all of our first week meals in the resort, at a restaurant called The Point, or another called Shells. The "Seafood Tinfoil" consisted of mussels, shrimp, ahi, and scallops cooked in a foil wrapper with vegetables. Though it came out looking like a failed Boy Scout camp dinner, it was delicious once unwrapped. On another night, I got the "Ahi Nachos", which came on a plate that was bigger than my ego. Take wontons and fry them into crispy chips, similar to the shrimp chips you might have in a Chinese restaurant, and then liberally douse them with cold ahi in a wine sauce.

Of course, the resort also had a breakfast buffet with fresh fruits, all-you-can-eat bacon, and a pancake bar with chocolate syrup as a topping. Even better was the fact that you could opt to skip housekeeping for a day to get a free ticket for the buffet.

Beach House Restaurant: The shtick at this restaurant is that they have a great view of the sunset, so if your partner is particularly ugly, you can face the sun and spend an evening blinded by the lights like Michael Geoffery Skinner. They also wait on you like royalty, handling refills and the smallest requests with alacrity. We started with a shared appetizer of sashimi, which I followed up with buttered sea scallops -- there's nothing better than a scallop cooked in butter, served in butter, with extra butter on top. In fact, I may still have some butter lodged under my tongue from this meal.

Kintaro's: This was a Japanese steak and sushi house right across the street from our condo in Kapa'a. In the picture on the right, we claimed the last two available seats at the sushi bar on the left side, where we got to watch the sushi chef effortlessly slice and dish meals for the entire restaurant while talking about scuba diving with one of the regulars at the bar. We sat next to a couple who had lived there for years, and tried to come to Kintaro's monthly, so they gave us recommendations on sushi choices. We ended up trying five or six different types, including a fried hand-roll which turned out to be similar to a sushi waffle cone. Scallop-based sushi is good, and low-grade sake is intense.

Hukilau Lanai: The restaurant was full when we got there, but the 45 minute wait shrank to a 0 minute wait when we simply sat down in Wally's Lounge and ordered from the roaming cocktail waitress. While we waited for our drinks from the five thousand page wine list, we were entertained by Wally himself, who sang Hawaiian sings and played the guitar, while his compatriot played the vibraphone and inserted unsually incorrect harmonies. Done with seafood by this point, I ordered the prime rib au jus, and was surprised by a massive whole steak cooked to rare perfection (had it been any larger, it would have lost its primality and become divisible by 2).

Are you hungry now?

To be continued someday...

Would-be ninja impaled on fence
What's in an unusual name?
2009 word of the year

tagged as travel | permalink | 1 comment

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Soul Circus by George Pelecanos:
Every good condo has a drawer full of retarded books, and about halfway through our honeymoon I had to choose between this story about drug gangs in Anacostia or a book about geriatric diamond thieves who have been tracked by the Mob to their retirement home. Overall, this book was an easy read, although it bashes you over the head with a side message about how black children in D.C. never have a chance. Throw in a few gunfights and a Grisham-like writing style and you have a few hours of passable entertainment.

Final Grade: C

Invasive Procedures by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston:
Another from the book drawer, this book had an interesting Crichton-like premise in which a strange cult cures genetic diseases by injecting repaired DNA into patients. The writing is uniformly bad, but the book builds suspense well and the payoff even has shades of Dollhouse to it. I read this on our "let's do nothing but sit at the pool" day.

Final Grade: B-

Away We Go (R):
In exchange for watching a heist movie with me (Brothers Bloom), I had to watch an indie movie of Rebecca's choice. This road trip movie about a newly pregnant couple deciding where to live has fun moments but dull quarter-hours. In the "road trip as a metaphorical trip of self-discovery" genre, it was twelve times as good as Broken Flowers though.

Final Grade: C-

Age of the Understatement by the Last Shadow Puppets:
This group consists of the lead singers from the Arctic Monkeys and the Rascals, and the CD is a surprisingly high quality collect of original songs written in 60s stylings with lots of wash and echo, and string/horn accompaniments. However, it automatically loses a few points for its paltry 35 minute play time. You can hear samples here.

Final Grade: A-

Placenta teddy bear repulses many
Introducing bomb-proof wallpaper
Society must decide if robots can hump us

tagged as reviews | permalink | 0 comments

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Fragments

the reason that every weekend is warm

♠ Last night, while Rebecca braved "the city" to see some indie hipsters performing at the Black Cat, I braved Centreville to see the band concert at Stone Middle School. I'm not sure which was more surprising: the fact that there were two hundred and fifteen 7th and 8th graders in two separate bands, or the fact that parents were overflowing the gym as if a football game were in progress.

♠ Flashing back 19 years to my seventh grade winter band experience, I recall the presence of 32 band members, maybe 40 parents, and no one recording the entire concert as a movie file on their cellphone. On the plus side, we had an auditorium, a location whose name suggests that things might sound better inside. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

♠ We even had an auditorium in elementary school, although here it was called a "multipurpose room". This meant that the chairs could be moved to the side for PE classes, so the room smelled perpetually of feet.

♠ I've never understood why we had to take our shoes off for PE class, mixing together our unique specimens of toe fungus and bacteria into the Petri carpet with the rest of the students. I guess that's what made us multicultural.

    Q: Why didn't the tabloids get excited when George Wallace was caught shoplifting yogurt?
    A: It was just an example of the white man consuming another culture.

♠ Plans for the weekend include some work, some raking, some laundry, and a Themed Beer Night at one of Rebecca's friends' homes. I'm actually taking Thursday and Friday of next week off (because apparently when you're married, you're not supposed to work straight through all the holidays), so there will be no update on Thursday.

♠ Have a great weekend!

Plan to pierce heart of urban monster volcano
Person in chicken suit ruffles council feathers
Cannibals nabbed selling corpse to kebab house

tagged as fragments | permalink | 1 comment

Monday, November 23, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

My web host is experiencing technical difficulties right now, so site speed may be a little slow for awhile. Because even the admin console is slow, today's update will be short (like me) and sweet (like Doobie).

I spent most of the weekend working, but managed to get out of the house Saturday night to experience the first weekend of Tysons Mall traffic jams. We had a quick dinner at Chipotle, and then went to Brian & Paige's place for the first meeting of a monthly Beer Club. Everyone brought a beer that, for any reason, reminded them of Thanksgiving and we sampled them in turn.

On Sunday, we finished Burn Notice: Season Two, moved the exercise bike up into the living room so I can pretend that I might work out this winter, and I played a few levels of New Super Mario Brothers Wii, which is pure old-school fun so far, although Mario's Italian accent gets a little more racist with each outing.

What did you do this weekend?

IBM makes a computer significantly smarter than a cat
Take your kids to see the fake polar bears
Facebook photos lead to cancellation of benefits

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 4 comments

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Audience Participation Day: Shameless Plugs

For today's post, I would like you to recommend some fun or favourite sites that other readers might get a kick out of visiting. Have a personal blog that needs more traffic, or a funny mini-post site that you load up every day? Share it in the Comments section!

Conversely, if you don't know of any good sites, but have an idea of a site that you would visit, if only someone would create it, share that too! Perhaps Sam E. and Mike (of Mike and Chompy) can then be egged on into competing over creating the best version of your idea for our amusement.

(If you don't know how to make a link in HTML, I'll gladly reformat your comment, so feel free to post it however you know best).

Man spoke Klingon to his son from birth
Sparkling reindeer-dung jewelry sells at Ill. zoo
Tavern owner says he'll unveil 100-proof turkey

tagged as random, you speak | permalink | 10 comments

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Lost Songs by Ellie Lawson:
This is Ellie Lawson's second album, which I didn't like as much as Philosophy Tree. It's only downloadable, which makes it quite cheap, and gains BUPoints (which are redeemable for bacon) by being longer than an hour. On the other hand, while all of the songs are "solid", there are no amazing hooks or gems to be found. You can hear samples here. I like tracks 3 and 4, despite the horrible misspelling.

Final Grade: B-

Dollhouse - Season One:
I liked Firefly, but never really cared for Buffy, so I went into Joss Whedon's new show with a fairly unbiased keel, but my keel was hauled fairly quickly. After a slow burn of a story about humans that can be programmed as entire different personalities for rich clients, things are taken to the next level in a manner similar to The 4400. That old show wasn't good because of its "super power of the week" stories -- instead, it unfolded into the social and moral implications of having a society affected by these powers. Dollhouse could have stuck with a "slut of the week" formula fairly easily, but it doesn't actually become a good show until it moves beyond that conceit. The season storyline was satisfying, and the extra unaired episode after the finale managed to be deeply intriguing without stepping on the finale's toes.

At an episode count of 13, this is another show that proves you don't need four hours about Jack's tattoos to be involving.

Final Grade: A-

The Cases that Haunt Us by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker:
I've read and enjoyed Douglas' older books about profiling and serial killers, and picked this one up as a "never would have bought it except that the proceeds go to charity" one-off. In it, John Douglas revisits classic cases like Lizzie Borden, the Zodiac Killer, and the kidnapping of Lindbergh's baby, analyzing each case with modern techniques, and giving his opinion about whether the police of the day got it right.

The book is worth a read right up to the final chapter, on JonBenet Ramsey, which is distractingly marred by Douglas' constant self-endorsement of his profiling. I guess that when you're personally involved in a case, you have to make it clear to avoid bias, but reiterating your credentials and impartiality every second paragraph got old quickly.Final Grade: B-

My One and Only Thrill by Melody Gardot:
Melody Gardot is a jazz vocalist I first heard on XM, and later heard on the plane back from Hawaii. She's got a great mellow timbre to her voice, and (unlike Ingrid Michaelson) actually does a cover of Over the Rainbow that doesn't masticate your eardrums into pulp. Overall, it's great background/dinner music, and I would definitely listen to another one of her albums. You can hear samples here.

Final Grade: A

Man says emergence from a coma like rebirth
Baboons skew the crime rate in South Africa
The fifty best inventions of 2009

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Wrap-up

What was intended to be a four-day weekend for me, actually turned into something closer to a two and a half day weekend. On Thanksgiving Day, we went to the home of those I now call "in-laws", accompanied by a nine-pound turkey and two packets of instant mashed potatoes. Our plan for Friday was to stay home and do nothing, but this was aborted when a server at work went down (not unlike a slutty edition of Applebee's). I spent the rest of the evening dealing with that, although the day was partially saved by having Velveeta Shells and Cheese for dinner and getting Rebecca hooked on The 4400.

Saturday was a home-y day, during which we bought two lamps for the living room and learned that no stores in the area carry kitchen curtains that aren't blazingly ugly. There were fewer people out shopping than I expected, and we were in and out in a couple hours. In the evening, we attended the post-wedding party of some of Rebecca's work friends (who had gotten married in the Dominican Republic), with sushi, shrimp, and dinner catering provided by Maggiano's.

To close out the weekend, we created a productivity limit function on Sunday, starting high with raking, car cleaning, and thank you notes in the morning, and gradually approaching infinite laziness with TV and pizza and waffle fries in the evening.

We also rearranged the living room at some point, but I cannot recall the day that we did that, so I'm blaming it on elves or Booty.

Invading camels to be shot
Snake spits out new species of chameleon
Caged cavemen to go on display at Warsaw Zoo

tagged as day-to-day | permalink | 2 comments

 

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