Thursday, July 31, 2008

Shrunken Shuriken Syrup

say that 10 times fast...

....Actually, better make it 20.

just because

sometimes I like to show off... here's the mockup of the redesign... and because web pages look so cute when they are shrunken down to this size.

Jesus Christ

Most people would not be able to understand what the hell I was talking about, or believe me when I say there is a garish, somewhat frightening gigantic purple horse with glowing red eyes standing guard over Denver International. Lest you not believe me, here are some pictures. Apparently it was supposed to be installed over a decade ago, and a piece of it fell on the artist in 2006, severing an artery in his leg and killing him. If I were a vindictive christian, I'd say it was god's punishment for building such a butt ugly golden calf.

Is this one of the apocalypse ponies?

Here's a sense of scale...

...and now I know

"Tutor's tip: A "comptroller" is a government official who oversees finances, while a "controller" is a person in a business or organization who oversees finances."

God how I love the internet. Not only can it answer every stupid question, but it can find me a picture of state comptroller Atkins!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Call of Duty 4: The New Chess

Just ask Mrs. Jones - and she'll tell you; I'm a hopeless CoD4 addict. Almost every night I plug in.

A first person shooter, CoD4 is set in the modern period, with today's weapons. Now for people that haven't played much online shooters, its worth explaining that this isn't like playing Castle Wolfenstein. Matching wits against other players online, with multiple game modes, is very dynamic.

As I've gotten better, so has my appreciation of the layers of gameplay. First there is understand the dynamics of certain maps. The size, traffic flow and choke points all affect how you play. Weapon and "perk" selection is equally important. Certain weapons suit close range, medium, and sniping, as do "perks" or a set of 3 extras. It might be the ability to not show up on radar, or extra ammunition. Every perk and weapon has a strength, as well as a weakness, so correctly constructing up to 5 custom classes is almost as important as gameplay. Each game mode requires a different style of play.

What really makes the game interesting, as a result of its popularity, especially among skilled gamers, is the psychology. Noting behavior and predicting it - both for your teammates as well as your opponents.

The longer I play it, the more nuanced it's become. The portrayal of onscreen violence is largely lost on me; I abstract it similar to playing Risk abstracts large-scale land wars and casualties incurred. For me - its like chess and go, mixed with tag.

The biggest drawback is playing with people (everyone has headsets) how have less than enlightened views towards the game, and towards respect for other gamers. Nothing's perfect, and that's the price of online interaction - unfettered freedom of expression with any external requirements of conduct certainly allow people to show their true colors. Of course, that's not unique to CoD4, and by and large its a respectful community.

Legalize It?

Barney Frank is leading the charge to decriminalize personal use marijuana. This has a snowball's chance in hell of being passed, but it's always nice to see someone swinging for the fences on an issue I care about.

Bye Bye Watch

well - it did get worse. Mt watch stopped keeping time at 9:45 this morning. Stupid watch... I liked that one too. I have a Citizen, but its a little froo-froo for my tastes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Things that are annoying me right now

I want to create a twitter mod that is limited to things that are making me pissed in real time...

anyway - I went in the salt water in Cali, and got condensation under the glass of my watch face - it seems to be getting worse.

...and yes, it claims to be water resistant. Of course, the swiss are land-locked, so subject matter expertise in this area should be regarded as dubious.


No, not that awesome movie from the 90s - my recipe for pretty good burgers. I had a cookout/birthday party for Tatum, and they came out pretty good - at least that's what my friend Erik SuperChef® said.

I recently changed up my approach to good burgers... some guy was on splendid table, talking up his approach to burgers, and combined with some other innovations of my own, they worked great.  I can't really eat these too often anymore, but at least I can share the love...

  1. Only use 80% lean - anything leaner than 90 is going to not taste that good.
  2. Make big patties.  You want at least 1.5 inches thick.  That's a good 3/4 to 1 lb of meat.  Hey, they aren't supposed to be healthy, but nobody says you have to eat the whole thing (but why wouldn't you, they are delicious).
  3. Look for ground chuck that is wavy - the longer the strands, the better.
  4. Very important - don't pack them tightly.  Very loosely.
  5. This is my addition.  I find it's had to not pack them somewhat, so stab them repeatedly with a fork - like 10 times.  You really want the meat to be as loose as possible.
  6. Brush lightly with vegetable oil - ditto with buns (and layers of onion if you want to fancy).  A rub is optional - I tend to put the oil in a small bowl or teacup, and add ground pepper and salt.  That way you aren't packing the meat down with the rub.
  7. When grilling, stay at grill, and don't cover them - unless you are into well done.
  8. Grill buns for a few minutes.
That's it - you get really tasty, moist burgers, not the hard leathery burgers.  You can actually get away with a medium burger that's as soft as rare burger.


so I use time machine - not to visit ancient peoples, cheat at gambling to amass a fortune, or find future technology - but to back up my mac data. Basically, for the non-initiated, time machine monitors and changes to files (creation/editing/changes), and makes backups based on those to an external hard drive.

I bought a new macbook in May/June. Migration is reduckulously turnkey, and was almost flawless - almost. A few preferences aren't imported over, including one that just caused my body to need Excedrin.

I also use parallels, a windows virtualization app for the mac, so I can make MS office stuff for my clients. It creates a virtual hard drive on your system - mine is about 16GB. Funny thing is that every time you open it - it changes. So it gets backed up.

Now, I'm not totally stupid. I was aware of this issue, and investigated it when OSX Leopard and Time Machine were released. What I overlooked, and what definitely qualifies me as at least kind of stupid, is that I didn't think to check the "excluded folders" in the time machine preferences. And they didn't get imported. So every time I used parallels, my HD was taking a 16GB blow to the shins with Tanya Harding's steel baton.

So now I've a totally full 300 GB partition on my external HD (my laptop is only 180GB). And using spotlight to crawl that for folders named "parallels" is bringing finder to screeching halt.

I am kind of amused that Finder is hobbling along, but everything else works fine. There's a half glass full satisfaction in that.

Finder doesn't let you delete files from Time Machine - but I found a way. You need to have the "actions" gear in your finder windows.

  1. From the finder, go to the folder or file you want to stricken from TM.
  2. Launch TM
  3. With the same folder/file selected, select the actions "gear" icon.
  4. Choose Delete All Backups of "(your file or folder you want to get rid of)"
That's it.  It's an all or nothing proposition, but it worked for me - just whacked about 225 GB worth of unneeded files.

Monday, July 28, 2008

tipping the scales

I lost 10 pounds in the last week or so. That's the good news. The bad news? I am still 30 pounds overweight.

Really, I've stacked the cards against me:

Eating. It's the trifecta of bad eating mechanics - a tolerance for huge quantities, the ability to eat incredibly fast (I can probably eat half of a pizza in the time it takes the average person to eat one slice), and I bite huge mouthfuls of food. I also have historically made poor nutritional choices, based largely around meat. Of course, I can almost always out-eat anybody when it comes to casual competition (I've turned out many a surprised and disappointed contender), but that's quickly losing its appeal.

Drinking. I likes me my beer. And like eating, I can take down a lot of it. My rationale is that the more beers I have, the less mental objections I make to "eh, I could have one more." If you gave me 2 beers, I'd be fine; but give me a 12 pack, and I can polish that off also.

Exercise. I'm pretty lazy and sedentary. I golf sometimes, and practice, but that's not really strenuous. I get about zero aerobic activity. And the worst part - if it wasn't so unhealthy, I'd have no problem with that. I realize that it's not the correct mindset to have, but that's where I am right now. I hike once in a while, but it's so hot around here in the summer that you have to go early or it's just not fun.

So here's how I'm trying to address these issues...

Eating. I've cut way back on meat. A few times a week, and on special occasions (like the cookout we had yesterday). never more than once a day. And I try not to have more than 1200 calories a day. All the fat content stuff kind of takes care of itself If I watch that. I make a mental note of how many calories I've had, and make eating choices accordingly. It's definitely put a dent in my snacking behavior. Pretzels are a healthy snack, for example, but if you go back again and again, and wind up eating half the back grazing after dinner, that's not healthy. I'm trying to eat more veggies and fruit for snacks. I'm trying to eat smaller portions, and have "mini-meals that a more like big snacks". And my secret weapon? Diet Pepsi. I know that stuff is pretty nasty if you read the label - but it is more filling than water, and suppresses the appetite.

Drinking. Less beer. There's a beer night for me. If I'm out, no more than 3 beers for social sake. If I want to get my drink on, its whiskey. Not really super healthy, but I can't take down too much of the ol' gut rot, and it's a lot less fattening than beer. Of course, at 50 calories a shot, it's not like drinking... Diet Pepsi.

Exercise. Eh... cough. I'm holding off on this. Usually my mental jihad against exercise has to addressed mentally first. The other issue is that being so overweight makes the exercise harder than it needs to be, and makes it less likely that I'll com back for more. My agreement with myself is that to go as far as I can with improving my eating habits, and when I hit the wall, I'll add exercise into the mix. I'm guessing I can drop another 10 pounds before I lose momentum, and need exercise to keep the progress moving.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lesbians - not just for greeks any more

Court rules lesbians are not just from Lesbos

Thanks for clearing that up, Greek courts. I guess it would be annoying to be from the island of lesbos, and having the same dinner part conversation over and over and over again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Parsing The Joker

Well, I'm one of the brainless masses who loved The Dark Knight. It's hands down the best "superhero" film ever made - mostly because it transcends the traditional limitations of said genre. It's probably the best film I've seen this year, regardless of genre.

Mild Spoiler Warning

Much has been made of Ledger's performance, and how he and director Noland positioned the Joker's motivations. There's an elegant level of symmetry in the film, both in characters, and in the plot - in some ways, the Joker character falls outside of the symmetry, acting as an agent of change. Noland is not being heavy-handed, but he is including the native american narrative concept of the trickster - the outside agent who triggers actions for seemingly mysterious motives, perhaps nothing more than a desire to see change replace stagnancy.

Like Lucas' Emperor Palpatine, the Joker is not given a backstory or a reason for his severely skewed morality (in fact he tells conflicting tales about his facial scars, letting the audience know that trying to explain him through circumstance is fruitless). The Joker's motivation in the film seems to be focused on devising ways in which he can make others fall down to his level - losing their moral compass and become agents of change. Of course, this reduces society to anarchy, but this seems to be the chaotic rubble where the Joker thrives - every encounter is a shootout, every discovery is an opportunity to loot and deceive. Like an alcoholic trying to get others to validate his drinking, the Joker seems to crave proof that the wall separating him from the rest of the world is a fragile one, and that given enough of a push, anyone can become like him. This would both validate him, and elevate him to some status as innovator or leader of this new paradigm. In this sense, the Joker wants to feel closer to others - but only though making them more like him. The archetype of clown is by definition of a character who is apart from his audience, and seeks to connect with them, but cannot cross the barrier of his own strangeness. Ironically, the psychoanalyst-turned-villain, scarecrow, from the first film, is given a cameo here, but not given an opportunity to peel away the Joker's layers. And of course - these motivations are tainted by (or due to) the fact that Joker is clearly psychotic in the classic, clinical sense of the term.

His obsession with Batman appears to largely by driven by curiosity. Is the Joker's makeup an ode to Batman concealing his public identity, or ridiculing the meaninglessness of a "hero in disguise"? While both have sidestepped societal norms, Batman's psyche appears to be glued together through forging an iron will and a heavy-handed sense of morality that he uses to justify some questionable means to reach a just end. Batman poses a flaw in the Joker's theory - in a mindset and means where everything can be permitted, Batman restrains himself. It represents both a weakness (in that Batman could easily dispatch the Joker if he could break some of his own rules), but defies the Joker's underlying belief that if you strip away the rules, that any man will descend into lawless, animal cruelty.

There's a lot more going on in the film, but the greatness of the Joker character in this film, aside from Ledger's performance, is that his character is opaque, and allows for varying interpretations of his motivations. In comparison, Batman is relative one-dimensional; his own story is kept interesting by showing how far his resolve and personal code will take him, and what that very resolve will inflict upon him. of course, the film shows us through other characters that "heroes" pay a price, whether they adhere to their codes, or abandon them for pursuing desires without restraint.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

kudos to Bush

even if its a little late, credit has to be given to where its due. By finally consenting to talks, the administration has plugged a major logic hole. They've insisted on Iran not having the means to nuclear technology, and committed to diplomatic solutions, while resisting personally participating. By finally engaging directly, I'll be a naive optimist and hope some good will come of this.

My thoughts on fundamentalists...

...are summed up perfectly by this novelty inspirational poster. has a whole set of these. Some are clever, and some are just raunchy and incredibly juvenile, but I care for this poster at least as much if not more, than our family dog.

Friday, July 18, 2008


What better way to kick off my diet?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hearing the call

It's been almost a week without Call of Duty 4, and I'm getting serious withdrawal from not playing Domination and Sabotage online.

Weird paradox

Smoking cigarettes looks tough, but really is kind of weeny.

Smoking menthol cigarettes looks kind of weeny, but is really tough.

Things I think when stuck in an overcrowded children's museum, I wish poison gas would get pumped in through the HVAC and kill everyone else.

rick astley getting rickrolled

mom - this is rickrolling


I love this totally unironic ad for gamestop... I could watch it once a day for, like, a whole day, and never get tired of it.

Are adults not supposed to want plush toys? The bunny is just so cuddly-cute.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Old spice

I liked the old spice ads until just now, when it dawned on me that
they were selling the opportunity to smell like irony. Irony is the
kryptonite of my generation.

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, July 11, 2008

Obama & Jackson

So the whole shenanigans between Jackson's hot mic slip up has seemed to unearth (at least according to the media) a simmering dissatisfaction with Obama and "The Black Agenda". If there is merit to this, it's pretty sad.

With all due respect to Sharpton and Jackson, the recent high profile African American presidential candidates, they were never going to win on a Black Agenda platform. It's too one-dimensional; just a Kucinich and Nader are a little one-dimensional.

The turning point on race is that Obama has, to the extent that our culture permits him, transcended race to some degree. He is not a "Black Politician", but a politician of mixed racial heritage, or a politician who is also black (however you view his race). At the end of the day, he is beholden to his own principals, and whatever concessions and political alliances he needs to make. I don't think that "Black Culture" can lay claim to him, or hold him accountable, any more than "White Culture".

There's an irony here, for African Americans who may feel conflicted about the momentous occasion of a black man at the door of the oval office, and differing views he may have on social policy. In the ultimate test of whether we are making progress as a nation (not just the white majority), African Americans feeling this conflict will need to divorce themselves of the candidate's color, and focus on policy.

Monday, July 7, 2008


happy seven day, one year belated

Friday, July 4, 2008

Handicap Update

I'm down to 17. A 17 handicap... It just sounds better than an 18.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Schadenfreude for Starbucks

Disclosure: I've been a regular starbucks customer since about 1998.

Recent news has broken about continued hard times for Starbucks. First, they scrapped rotating blends to go with a single blend after breakfast "Pike's Place." The argument is that it is a mild, average coffee that people won't object to. It seems pretty clear that its an inventory optimization move. Now, we find out that they are closing over 600 stores in an effort to downsize.

I'm not surprised, but mildly disappointed with the glee that this is news receiving. In this economy, nobody should be applauding the laying off of what must be at least a couple of thousand employees. Besides that, I think the criticism of Starbucks falls directly under what I'd called "contrarian independentinistas". I'd call that resorting to attacking popular pillars of popular culture under the claim that on is an independent thinker. I n actuality, those counter-positions are also very popular, are often based on misperceptions, and represent just as much group-think as what's being objected to - see Mac User's kneejerk and vitriolic criticism of the windows operating system. I'm going on the record to deconstruct several arguments against Starbucks, making concessions where applicable.

Starbucks customers are lemmings
This is the most accurate statement, but it doesn't really indict Starbucks of anything - it's just a way of bullying customers. If you make the argument that Starbucks has a superior product, then its popularity seems more rational. Are people who use Saran Wrap lemmings, because it works better than store-brand cellophane wrap? I agree that there are a huge number of people who have fallen into going to starbucks - but at the end of the day, there has to be something good for people to come back to.

Starbucks is overpriced
Actually - not so much. Many local coffee shops price close to or above starbucks cost per ounce. Perhaps, more importantly, Starbucks costs more because it has great benefits for its employees that put other companies in the food service industry to shame. It costs more because it has spent huge resources to cultivate and expand the fair trade coffee economy, raising the standard of coffee bean farmers and laborers in third world companies. It costs more because its been pioneering eco-friendly packaging. And yes, it costs more because its pumping money into branding and an "experience". Personally, I don't spend much time inside Starbucks, but I'm not going to criticize ambiance, even if it's architected by marketing executives

Starbucks is gross
No. No. No. I hear this argument all the time, and it steams my oysters. I'm not barista, but I think I have a good nose and palette for coffee. I've had coffee at a lot of local places and enjoy trying new places. Starbucks is above average coffee. I've been to local shops that brew better coffee - but not many. Starbucks has standardized its practices for preparing and roasting beans. Too many local shops buy beans that sound good when they are being ordered, but aren't roasted correctly - or worse, they roast the beans themselves. I have friend out here who complains about their coffee - but come to find out, he doesn't really drink coffee. I find this argument is often made by people who have an allegiance to another coffee brand. This argument is the worst when it comes from a Dunkin Donuts fan. Trust me, if you like Dunks, than you aren't getting what good coffee needs to taste like - coffee certainly shouldn't require enough dairy and confection to bake a sheet cake. Drink an extra large Dunks, with no cream, no sugar, straight out of the styrofoam, and then come back to me about your ideas on bitter coffee. There may be a minority of people who like the taste of the coffee they get while they wait at Jiffy Lube - but I think that's a pretty tiny percentage.

Final cut - if you hate the Starbucks brand, its still controlling you
At the end of the day, I think what people resent is the suburbanization of the brand. The average Starbucks customer has gone from the hip urbanite, to the soccer mom with frosted tipes, driving a Tahoe XL that gets 12 miles to the gallon. And people don't want to be associated with it. I don't want to - take it from someone trapped in a subdivision. The company is getting associated with the customers, which are really what contrarians don't want to be lumped in with. To continue the Dunk's example - if you'd rather identify with blue collar, hard workin' folks - that's great, but you are participating in the same type of social manipulation. I return to Starbucks despite these bland armies of suburban Zombies, not to be validated by them. Its a testament that I believe in their coffee, and its worth paying 40% more for. Its coffee after all, and I usually brew my own now anyway - and yes, I often buy select blends of Starbucks roasted beans. Contrarians might not like how the brand makes them feel, but when they raise a tentpole around these arguments that don't hold weight, they aren't realizing that they are subjecting themselves to the same level of brand control as the blind devotees.

Is Starbucks perfect? No. But its good coffee, consistent coffee, procured and delivered using ethical practices. And unless the company in question is building land mines, nobody should be applauding the loss of American lower-class jobs.