Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Intercalary year day

"Leap Year is a 1921 comedy film directed by and starring Fatty Arbuckle." - Wikipedia.

Dead Sexy.

Be my focus group...

...but no, I'm not paying you. No, not even in Fresca or licorice rope.

Here are the choices - the colors are not final, but will likely remain in the reddish end of the earthy spectrum. I vote for "B" for president. She's got the experience, is non-divisive, and she didn't vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq. I heard she may pick Marion Barry as a running mate.

It's a free country, so if you've got a choice, type that letter in a comment. I'll pass the feedback onto my client.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Get Lost

I have't geeked out this season about LOST... you are either into it, or you suck. Whoops, I meant to say, you are either into it, or you're not.

This season is interesting, as the cast dynamic has shifted alot, and the writers are addressing questions that directly confront why the island is a source of phenomena. At the end of the day, the payoff requires that the meta-narrative acknowledges that the island is somehow conforming to different rules of physics. Otherwise, it just doesn't matter.

If you aren't sold on Lost, netflix the first season. If you sit through 3 episodes (roughly the length of an average movie) and still aren't convinced, then its time to move on.

Whatever it takes to get a little action

Why yes... that is 3.5% Blue Moon Ale.

Really sore

last thursday, I chipped some balls over at Highland Meadows. Yesterday I through the clubs in the CRV, and hit the driving range. Short irons good - woods, not so much. You know those graphics where areas are photoshopped to glow red and emit concentric circles, and part of the muscles become translucent to reveal the skeletal underpinnings? My back kinda feels like that.

Trailer Alert: Step Brothers

Will Ferrell is like what Mountain Dew was for me in High School. Just when I thought I was sick of it, I cracked on open and had one that was so good. Wait a minute, did I just say that I periodically crack open Will Ferrell and have him? That could have come out better. Anyway, John C. Reilly continues his evacuation from prestigious dramatic roles (and who can blame him, he's hysterical), as he and Will play Step Brothers. I spit out a little diet pepsi on my monitor at the bunk bed scene at the end - that's always a good sign.

The importance of latte

Someday, I'll collect enough of Jade's sound bites, that I can publish a 365 tear-sheet desk calendar and retire. I can't believe to be one of those calendar fat cats... Until then, I should adopt a better method for retaining them than what I've done previously (storing them in my irrevocably stoney-damaged brain).

Jade: "I definitely think there's a direct link between getting depressed and not having a latte everyday."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sweet Hip Hop find

The Coup

Really funky beats courtesy of DJ Pam (give it up for a female DJ), and smooth smart lyrics by Boots, who sounds like a cross between Andre 3000 and Common. For an Oakland Group, they've got a Philly hip hop sound, so its no suprise that they are on the Okay Player label, home of the Roots and Jill Scott. Check out their new release, "Pick a Bigger Weapon".

The are political without letting it overwhelm every track. Anti-war activists and Marxists, the best line on the album is a pick-up line at the end of the non-political "IJUSWANNALAYAROUNDALLDAYINBEDWITHYOU": "We should together be in bed like Bush and Hussein", which kicks off a very politicized "Head(Of State). Good stuff.

Lame things afoot in Pakistan

Apparently, Pakistan has pulled it's own Safeway "Checkout Sanitization Procedure"...

Pakistan blocks "objectionable" YouTube.

For those of you too lazy to link to the article, and haven't gleaned it from other news sources already, apparently the Pakistani government is upset over those Danish cartoons of Mohammed. Ugh - seriously, if what somebody else thinks of God gets you this worked up in a lather, then you probably aren't working hard enough. If you've got time to burn effigies over cartoons, then you've definitely got too much time on your hands. We've got some lads in this country who do stuff like that - they're called the KKK.

Pakistan is joining an elite list of countries who have banned YouTube access, the act of which has almost become a litmus test for rapidly gauging a government's attitude towards free speech and political dissent. Of course, none of the countries the have banned YouTube should come as shock to anyone. It will be interesting to see who this century plays out, as it becomes harder and harder for countries to put the globally generated free speech genie back in the bottle. Short of North Korea-esque clampdowns on any type of traffic, countries are going to find it difficult to block access to information and interest-based community building. Particularly when the internet also provides substantial benefits to the country's infrastructure. We'll probably see a range of behavior - NK type responses on one end, and countries being pushed towards more open and protective civil liberties on the other.

Does blocking access to the wellspring of modern self-expression seem harsh, ignorant, and short sighted? Sure, but who am I to complain? They probably got the idea of blocking content from the checkout aisle at the Safeway off Harmony. The timing was personally ironic.

I have to say, at the risk of sounding arrogant and elitist, these countries are woefully out of date when it comes to the methods of suppressing free speech. Don't try to keep it from people, use your political kung-fu to make people uninterested in it, or lower the stakes so that free speech becomes nothing more than blogs and snarky t-shirts. I have both of those things, and I feel in no way interested in burning effigies of anybody. "Let them eat cake". I think the woman who said that went on to great things.

Attention soul-crushing regimes - Here's some free advice from a sociopolitical savant. if you want to silence the masses, you don't block YouTube. You guest star on saturday night live, and offer dollar value meals for a limited only at participating McDonald's. China seems to be straddling the fence on this at least.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lame things afoot at Safeway

The last few times I've been in Safeway, I noticed something odd at the checkout. The Sports Illustrated was covered by a piece of blank white paper, three hole punched with "Sports Illustrated" typed across the center in Times New Roman, bold weight. It barely registered, and I thought there were doing some kind of restocking research or something.

Today, the piece of paper had wilted or was pushed down. It's the swimsuit issue. The I notice that Cosmo is covered up - the same Times bold weight treatment. Hmmm... the girl in the swimsuit? Freaking hot. On the cover of cosmo - Rihanna - also freaking hot.

I asked the guy if the reason why they are covered up is - and he finishes my question before its all the way out of my mouth. Yes indeed, people found the covers objectionable. The Cosmo wasn't because of hot Rihanna - it's because it advertises to reveal "20 Sex Secrets". 20 Sex Secrets? Come on. It would be one thing if there were diagrams showing proper anal stimulation, but all it says is "sex secrets".

Ugh. I unerstand the fine gray area of where somebody else's right not to be exposed to something butts up against my right to see what I want, but this is just mildly disappointing. Frankly, I find celebrity expose tabloids to be exploitive and offensive, but I resign myself to have to accommodate things at a supermarket that might actually be for somebody else. I find the fact that there is "A Dummies Guide to Prayer" paperback stuff right next to the reader's digest, but I carry on.

It's not that I'm worked up in a lather, it just bums me out to see conservative values intruding into my reality. And not just conservative values, arbitrary, capricious, hypocritical and unobservant values. There are dozens of things to upset moral compasses, but some dowdy cave troll is just latching onto the most obvious ones. If I have to sit through your Rachel Ray entertainment secrets, and souffle recipes brought to you by women sporting gunts and mom-jeans, and the latest Brangelina fiasco, and what's happening to Suri cruise, then don't deprive me of my superhot model covershots. Fair's fair, that's all I'm saying.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Geeks vs Nerds vs Losers

I was listening to N.E.R.D.'s "In Search of" today on the way to a meeting, and it got me thinking about the whole geek vs. nerd nomenclature, and the geek renaissance in pop culture. For some people, geeks and nerds are interchangeable terms. For other folks, the labels have a nuanced difference that is hard to pin down. Generally it is more acceptable to be a geek versus a nerd. Without looking online so who has already articulated this better than me, I'm going to venture my own take on the difference.

Essentially the difference stems from nature versus nurture. Nerds are essentially antisocial people, who are not typically interested in team sports or other activities that require them to interact with others in a collaborative or face to face way. I'd actually be interested in seeing if a study has been done comparing people who were labeled as "nerd" and asperger's/autism spectrum diagnoses. Nerds are sometimes, but not exclusively, drawn to math and studies, and typically not artistic directions. This again could be related to an actual disorder, or indirectly as these pursuits can provide non-social fulfillment.

Geeks on the other hand, have an interest in technology and arcane popular culture interest. In the past decade, the interests of the geek have become accepted and embraced. Largely due to the advances in technology, interests that were considered irrelevant are now seen as useful bordering on the clairvoyant. Who owned the first ipods? A geek. Who kept the first blogs? geeks. Who can recite off the episode names of every season of Sailor Moon? A geek. It's a symbiotic relationship with technology - geeks have more relevant things to "geek-out" over. In 1992, it wasn't really cool to tout the wonders of your graphing calculator (I wish I still had mine from college - that thing was so awesome, even though I didn't really understand trigonometry, so it was just a wave-randomizing machine). Now a geek can tout the latest MP3 player, or plasma tv, and people are actually interested. Geeks typically place a lot of self-identification in their geekiness, or rather their interests. I suppose this is because it was originally used to marginalize them, and it has become a firewall to judge others by. You certainly have to have solid geek credentials. But barring that, geeks can be very gregarious. Social issues arise from any stigma associated with geek interests and geek identification.

Of course, this doesn't include the "loser", who is typically somebody ostracized for environmental conditions beyond their control. Growing up with less money relative to your peers, growing up in a broken home, and other social stigmas shape the loser, who only displays stereotypical personality traits to the extent that they self-identify with their stigmas. Strong-self identification with being a loser can result in nerd-like qualities. Typically, losers find other loser peers for company and validation, so its rare that a loser will transform into a full-blown nerd. Unfortunately, their counterculture often manifests its resentment at being marginalized through negative and destructive behavior. I think this is because for every loser who actually is a talented, interesting person, there are 3 other losers who have no redeeming qualities. A diaspora of gift-less, frustrated pariahs together, and bad things are likely to happen.

Geeks, nerds, and losers. Current geek reverence not included, all 3 are connected only inasmuch as they represent the broadest group of socially marginalized people, a social definition that begins in childhood. You can be more than one, or any combination. There is definitely a spectrum as well.

Where do I place myself in this? I was not a nerd, was and still am somewhat of a geek, and definitely a loser. I grew up with several social stigmas as a result of my environment. I did display nerd tendencies for several years when I strongly self identified with my loser stigmas. Eventually I outgrew those stigmas (and actually worked a little too hard at fitting in during college). Throughout, I would consider myself a moderate geek. I possessed the interest of a geek, but not the true depth of knowledge. Pure geeks not only have an interest in geek topics, but they also possess a depth of knowledge and skill in those areas. I like computers and technology, but I can't sling code (scripting doesn't count - see I am kind of a geek). In this age of google and wikis, its very easy for people to have peripheral knowledge of anything. This results in half-assed geeks like me, and worse, wannabe geeks. Possibly the lowest form of social stereotype, they feign interest in geek topics to curry favor from the geek embracing society at large. It would be like me becoming a Giants fan just because they won the super bowl. I also exhibit behavior of seeking traditional non-geek approval from my base peer group, which would definitely take away from the independent, socially rebellious geek who conforms to non-conformity.

So there it is - my treatise on geeks nerds and losers. Clearly when you create theories that put the population into boxes, its not a perfect fit, and there are countless exceptions. But I think there is some truth to the differences and mistaken confusion around these three types of people. In the end, people who exhibit some of these traits want to be considered geeks, whether they are or not. Partially because the definition of geek (if my definition is accurate) is the most attractive, and partly because the identity of geek now possesses the least social stigma. People might want to flaunt their individualism, but very few people honestly want to be socially stigmatized, regardless of what they might say. Those few who do want that stigma probably are exhibiting a reaction to the initial stigma.

Conversely, people who do not fall into this spectrum tend to lump all three together due to lack of knowledge and interest, regarding the entire community of marginalized as a homogeneous swath, and therefore the terms geek, nerd and loser are synonymous and interchangeable.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Last to Know: Hulu

It took about a month to get my beta registration processed, but hulu is looking pretty good. It's a FOX/NBC joint venture to post high quality versions of tv episodes online. My biggest gripe is that, in what must be some attempt to stave off total dependency on free media, they've chosen only to offer a handful of episodes per season for each respective show. At least for the newer shows - if you felt inclined to watch season one of the A-Team, they are all there.

It's hard to hold that against what is ostensibly still a beta (of course isn't gmail technically still a beta?)

Soundcheck: Harman Kardon Soundsticks Edition

I'm not going to be able to bring the pimpy speakers to the exec suites - unless I want my neighbors to hate me, so I hooked them up to the iMac at home. They sound even more awesomer at home. Nothing gives speakers a better run for their money than some live Allman Brothers...

An Evening with the Allman Bros, First Set:
- "Southbound"

Live at Fillmore East:
- "Whipping Post"
- "Statesboro Blues"

Following that up with some The Who: Live at Leeds doesn't hurt either, if you're into that sort of thang.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rebranding isn't just for me...

So the cats finally out of the bag. I had rebranded an end of faucet water filter company, but they were waiting until they could launch the new look completely. The product packaging should be going to press soon, and they are attending a tradeshow with the new brand, so I guess its safe to share now...

Here's the old logo:

Here's the new logo:

Here's a trade show banner with the logo. Narcissist that I am, I love to see my work enlarged.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The hardest thing to do in photoshop

Is to remove reflected objects from irregular reflective surfaces. Imagine taking a photo of a shiny trumpet, and trying to remove all evidence of the surrounding objects, and that should give you some sense of the hell I spent the better part of a week doing. It wasn't a trumpet, or one of the Tall Man's Sentinel Spheres from Phantasm, but similarly challenging.

Of course, looking online helps 0.00%. Anything involving chrome and photoshop and google inevitably leads you to some disgusting tutorial that teaches you how to make your ignorantly selected font look unconvincingly like it's made out of mercury. Which is the perfect look when you want your personal home page to get added to Android Shirley's Might & Magic webring, but otherwise pretty useless.

Turns out, the pen tool and vector paths were clutch. They let you create soft gradients, while firmly constraining edges. That's the trick with the chrome reflections - they are 1/2 very soft transitions, and 1/2 very rigid boundaries. In the process, I learned a lot about using clipping paths and adding color as layer adjustments. I had considered myself somewhat adept at photoshop, but it turns out I was hitherto ignorant of the finer principals of non-destructive editing (example here). Funny how you don't know what you don't know, until you know what you don't know, and then finally, you are back to knowing what you know.

Record time

I built a web site in a day. That's a record for me... front range vista. To be totally honest, I created the mockup in Illustrator two days ago, coded it yesterday, and did browser compatibility testing this morning - it looks pretty close on FF, Safari, IE 7 and 6. So I'm only counting the construction of the site yesterday - besides, most schmoes like me build on windows and don't Browser Compat anyway. Still pretty fast (for me). I think because it's a relatively static site, I didn't sweat some things as much as a could have.

Yeah, yeah yeah, I don't test for Opera. Usage is 1.4%, so who cares about its stringent adherence to standards? Oh, bugger off already.

I've either got the golf chitters

or I really need a drink. Thinking about teeing up is making me really jittery the last couple of days. It snowed a couple of inches today, and the ground is hard as a rock, but the days are getting longer, and think there will be a round of golf within the next month. Of course, snow will fall again and there will not be true golf weather for another couple of months - but it is coming. In the meantime, I think there is some 12 yr. Glenfiddich in the cabinet to take care of those damn chitters. Someday I can go to Scotland, birthplace of Glenfiddich and golf. I'm thinking I was born in the wrong country.

One Special Lady

And today is Valentine's day. Despite my disdain for holidays, particularly manufactured ones like this one, my urge to recognize how much I love my wife is superseding my cynical ways. Since she doesn't have a classroom anymore for me to deliver flowers to and embarrass her, I'll have to use the only platform accessible to me - this blog.

My wife has done a lot for me. She got us back together after we broke up. She believes in my crazy schemes. She listens to me when I have a beef. She kicks the legs out from under me when I get too full of myself. She made two awesome kids. She cares for those kids every day with every ounce of her passion - even when they are simultaneously sapping her life force. She lets me love her the way I need to love her, and she loves me the way I want to be loved.

My wife is beautiful on the inside and out. She loves dance and movement, and when you see her practice her art, its easy to understand why. She's like water, the way her body moves and flows. She cares deeply about her friends and family, and is much more sensitive than she lets on. For me, she's the perfect woman.

I love my wife, and I'm grateful that this artificial holiday is here to remind me of it. I love you Jade.

Moving on up

Well, it's time to leave Olive Street. My former boss/sometimes client/friend Brad has let me continue working in here until its ready to be vacated for demolition - he's creating some cool condos inspired by Beacon Hill.

So I bit the bullet and executed a lease on an executive suite. The downside - it's not free. But the upside is that its close enough for me to ride my bike to work and even come home for lunch (we'll see how crazy I am when it gets warmer). It's also much swankier than the "rustic" accommodations here. I will miss being in old town - so many good eats here, and what culture there is in this wacky town is mostly in old town. But I'm looking forward to another step towards legitimate entrepreneurship. I picked up a few office supplies, and I move in tomorrow.

Here's a pic from their website - my office is actually the windows on the upper floor, next to the right edge.

My heart is all a twitter

It's funny, for years, I have been chronically and unabashedly obsessed with star wars. It's partly the geek generation, and partially all of the father issues that Empire raises for me. But there on the sidelines, never getting as much love, is the Indy trilogy. But when I think about it, I've watched Raiders as many times as any star wars flick, I still quote lines from all three without request - I chant "Kalibah Shookdeeday" from temple of doom enough to question the possibility of a tourettes diagnosis. In terms of overall direction and script, Indy is much more even and satisfying than the two SW trilogies.

So imagine my excitement when the trailer for the next Indiana Jones hit the internets today. It looks to contain much of the classic elements that previous films did. I like that they are openly acknowledging his age - if anyone can pull this off, it's senor Spielbergo. Enough blather.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Music Time Capsule

Some Oldies but Goodies from Geto Boys:

"Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta", and "G Code"

good books

just finished American Shaolin, the autobiography about a kid who drops out of Princeton to learn kungfu from the its birthplace, Shaolon temple. An entertaining read and full of cultural insights into a people shifting from communism to capitalism.

Followed that up with The Good Earth. I never read it for school, and it was a treat. Buck writes with the simple immediacy of Hemmingway and Hesse.

About to start the new translation of War & Peace, so when I finish that in August, I'll have remember to post my thoughts.

Friday, February 8, 2008

pretty cool iphone simulator

Well, my iphone kick for the night is now over... I have one last nugget to document... Check out this mac tool for simulating how an iphone would interpret css and html.

what nerds do on friday nights

they optimize their splash page for the iphone...

Jade wound up just watching bridget jones diary, so I continued my quest. There's actually a viewport meta tag (there are meta tags for everything). So resizing worked, and I got my conditional css on. Here's a pretty accurate mockup of what it looks like on my iphone. I also created a psuedo iphone style page here that approximates the iphone view, but on a traditional browser. I also made an "apple-touch-icon" so that if you were to add the site to your home screen, it shows a custom icon, and not just a clip of the actual web page. Kind of like favicons for the iphone.

This didn't really accomplish much, but it was a good learning experience. Some times you gotta let your geek flag fly. Besides, it's not like I was build open source linux appliances or something. I guess that just makes me a dumb nerd - those are the bestest kind.

so disgusting

My main homey JR turned me on to being petrified of bot flies. Here's a really gross one...

Bot Flies: worm inside human eye


the 'sub is no more... I've rebranded my organization, in the hopes of staffing up this year, and reflecting a more mature (by which I mean expensive) firm.

It's just a contact splash right now. I've gone through several branding iterations over the years, but after keeping this under wraps for about 4 months and still feeling good about the design and the concept behind it, I feel confident that this one should stick.

I'm hopelessly addicted to typefaces, and if nothing else, rebranding gave me a chance to create a brand that uses "dolly", my absolute favorite serif typeface of all time. There may be a more beautiful typeface for long texts out there, but I haven't seen it. That part in 2001 when Dave is tripping out inside the monolith? That's pretty much how I felt the first time I saw Dolly Roman back in 04.

The previous post...

...reminded me of the word I dislike more than any other in the English language... Ironical and it's cousin, ironicalness. Yes, I accept that Ironical is a real word. But I do question its sovereign right to exist. A quick search has shown that I am not the first blogger to wrestle with this...

Mormon Underwear

As a pseudointellectualist, I generally do not favor other people learning things. The thinking is that the more you know, the less smart I seem by comparison during cocktail conversations poolside. It makes me uncomfortably grab at my ascot, and nobody wants to see a CPA do that.

Now on occasion, I make concessions as certain lights should be cast on the cobwebs of ignorance. I did a little digging on this a couple of months ago, but my wife's snarky comments about special mormon underpants, made me realize I should share the alpha and omega of mormon underwear websites. Click and learn all there is to know about sacred mormon garments.

Frankly, the web site's URL might be the most hysterical, defiantly unironic thing going for it...

That, or maybe the most hysterical, defiantly unironic thing is that the guy on the home page that looks like Kofi Annan without his goatee (the file name is "black_man.jpg" - how sweet is that?).

That, or maybe the most hysterical, defiantly unironic thing is the first misconception debunked on the misconceptions page: "Mormon underwear has knee protectors and nipple protectors." That is so awesome is makes me want to pick up baby Jesus, kiss his rosy cheeks, put him in a stroller and walk him down by the river.

What is his role? Does the man pictured have any affiliation with Mormonism? Is he the author of the article? Is he a the envoy of a shadowy agent who is never seen but lurks in the background, pulling the strings that affect all of our lives? Is he a subtle refutation of the stereotype of Mormon's being racist and xenophobic? Is he from Ghana? Can I get a suit like that? Who the hell knows the answers to such questions, so without further ado, I give you "black_man.jpg":

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Praise be to Odin

Further proof that the world we live in is worth saving...
Mitt Romney has dropped out of the presidential race.

It made me sick seeing his bumper stickers on all of the Tahoes and Yukons driving around. Now those nutwads have to scrape them off. I'd like to take a sharpie and scribble "nice choice" on any stickers I find before they come off.

Hey, I don't care if you want a Republican in the white house. What bothers me is that after leaving the Governor's chair, he proceeded to disparage Massachusetts to the rest of the country. It showed me he had no respect. Of course, the flip flopping of abortion doesn't really impress me that much either. You can learn to change, but it's pretty dubious considering that... A: he's 60 (I think you should come to terms with an issue concerning your own moral standards much earlier in life), and B: He's a politician, and any shift in moral standards conducted by politician should be held as suspect until proven innocent. i also wasn't a fan of his stance towards education, and it made any of his comments about "our children" and "our future" send a chill down my spine.

Ahhh... so long Mitt. The only downside to you not running is that I would have been able to hate you so much more than i already do if you had been elected to the white house.

I do have to say to his credit, that for 60, that old dude is looking gooood.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

janufeb time capsule

Sick relative is not doing well. Trying to call, but after 3 tries over past week, still not getting through.

Patriots lost to Giants. Seemed as unavoidable after game started as it seemed impossible before game started. Skipping the first 15 to play catch with Seabass turned out to be by far the greatest part of the game.

Getting over strep throat. It's been about ten years since I've had a 103 temp, so that was fun...

I've been sitting a few minutes since I've gotten sick, which is good. Not focusing on the breath as much as I should, but I think for us westerners, sitting is a good start. It all comes back to practice. Practice makes life.