Thursday, December 30, 2004

The information revolution

Crestwood is the next village south of me, and has a libertarian streak a mile wide. I wonder if it's more than coincidence that they haven't used computers in their offices until now, and the fact that they refund property taxes every year? (Such a refund is unheard of anywhere else in the area.) I've always been of the opinion that personal computers waste money and time unless the users are well-trained and the tasks at hand are actually suited to being computerized. This stands as coincidental and unverifiable proof of that opinion.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Filthy, Immoral Overclockers

Overclock your Nintendo!

Skunkworks

The "graphing calculator" component of MacOS seems to have been developed by guys sneaking into Apple's HQ?

Interesting quote:
"Skunkworks projects are a long-standing tradition in Silicon Valley. Many engineers work on personal projects in the hope they will be turned into products, even if they've been previously canceled. Companies like Google recognize the tradition, allowing staffers to spend 20 percent of their time on private projects."

20%? You really have to trust that you hired good people to be able to do that.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas


From Fat Joe Isuzo!


From Rush Limbaugh, 1974!


From the ridiculous shopping cart!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Road Rage!

So I'm minding my own business, trying to go from 88 East to 290 West. It's a tricky merge, in this case the backup for the ramp began before the other ramp ended, so a merge is necessary. A polite one-for-one pattern develops, and the gasoline (*) truck next to me chose to be a dick and not let me in. So, futilely and stupidly, I chose to call the guy's bluff and ride the outside shoulder around the ramp to get an 'in'. And it was close, I think he bumped me once. I almost got him too, when a jerseywall blocked my way and the truck won. For about 45 seconds, I seriously contemplated forcing the guy to jackknife off a bridge. Just short of figuring out where the next overpass was. Then I figured I would reverse tailgate him and then stop the car (so he can't just change lanes) and scream at him until I felt better. I quickly recovered, and went on my way.

Then, later on my way home, some daffy broad came charging out of a parking lot, never even hitting the brakes. If I were 3 seconds earlier, she'd be dead right now. Then, not 1 minute later, another asshole makes a right turn right into my lane. I changed lanes and honked, and now the guy wants to race me. Apparantly, *I'm* the asshole.

Fucking Christmas.


* It may not have been a gasoline truck. A tanker of some kind.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Randomness

Hey, how 'bout this weather? We're cooking up some record breaking cold, it portends to be like 3 on Christmas Eve.

I have a popcorn kernel stuck in my tooth.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Home Entertainment Success!

I have an old PC connected to the stereo in the living room - it plays media for me, and will also digitally record if given the opportunity. This is pretty much home-brew, using an old ATI All In Wonder 128 and a SoundBlaster AWE64. It works pretty good, but I have been disappointed with the sound quality. I know compressed music has its limitations and I can live within that (mostly). But I also knew it could be better, because I used to be able to get that very computer to sound better. But the upgrade to XP actually downgraded the quality because a driver no longer worked properly. The point of my story being that the windchill today never got above 0 F and I wasn't leaving the house for anything. And thus had a chance to dig into the problem. And I found a version of the 'driver' (actually, a plugin for WinAmp) that functioned properly, and now we're sounding good. I even fired up the CD player and played the same song through both, and equalized it up. There is a difference, but nothing you'd ever notice without the comparison.

The plugin is really quite genius. It is specific for the AWE 32/64 line of soundcards (old), and the writer realized that the MIDI chip on those cards was actually better at rendering digital data into sound than the normal chip was, and wrote something to do that. An added benefit is that you can apply the various MIDI effects natively to the sound. Slow it down, speed it up, weird echo/delay effects, choruses. Wild! [said as Bob Hope/Dick Cheney]

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Al Gore II?

Illinois Governator Rodney "Rod" Blagojevich has jumped on the "video games are harming our children" bandwagon. Behold!

I'll usurp a quote from columnist Neil Steinburg that I think is appropriate:

"Sure, pot can lead to hard drugs, but so can the Stevenson Expressway, and we still let people drive it."

If a video game (or movie or television show or music video) leads a kid to violence, the kid was already screwed up and was just looking for an excuse. And blaming the media for the problem is the parents also looking for an excuse for their own failures.

Friday, December 17, 2004

al Carbon

After a long hiatus, I am dangerously near perfecting the recipe for my taco clone. I have to tweak a few of the amounts, but I believe I have something simple that can be whipped up in a half hour. (after an overnight marinade, of course) Hold for details...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

The Royal Tenenbaums

This was NOT a funny movie. I'm a little upset by that. Perhaps it hits home a bit more than it should have. Maybe it is funny if you're normal?

Saturday, December 11, 2004

DHS

This is probably a good thing.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Cow Town!

The City of Chicago is selling its junk on EBay? Yes! And you can pay with paypal! Who wants to bet that money disappears?

www.thegreatchicagofiresale.com

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=16071&item=2293169789&rd=1

Google!

The folks at Google have mastered simplicity once again. Behold the next step in internet searching technology.

http://www.google.com/webhp?complete=1&hl=en

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Pearl Harbor Day

Hmmmm...

This is an interesting article that sheds light on the so-called FCC crackdown.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Illegal Chicken

Nowhere near good enough to be called illegal, but I did a nice job on some chicken thighs today. And they were all of $3 I think. Roasted 'em up in the oven and then made a nice gravy. The trick is the roux. And tons of poultry seasoning.

Saw a Ford Five Hundred at the dealer Saturday (was only there buying a new battery, the old one lasted 6 years, it was time). Not really impressed. It's sorta like they Xeroxed a Honda Accord. And the new Mustang is growing on me. Even the newer Fucus is nice, for what it is.

Sausage!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Tasty goodness

Try you the Frito-Lay product I've recently discovered: Sabritas Brand Cacahuates (*) Japones (Japenese Peanuts). They are Japanese style coated peanuts. Oh, you'll break a tooth, but they are tasty. Check out your local snack stop, near the little tubes of peanuts and sunflower seeds.

* - That's right folks, the word for peanut in Spanish is cacahuate. My limited knowledge says that it is pronounced /ka ka HWA tay/, which is hilarious. Although the exact opposite of correct pronounciation, /SAK ah hoat/, is also hilarious.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Bloggers?

Drudge linked to this for the NASCAR aspect of it, but I found it a good place to ask this question: who do these bloggers think they are, and why are we giving them power? "Blogs" have a less powerful voice than a letters-to-the-editor writer has, and are less credible. At least the crank writing the letter usually has to get past the public editor of the newspaper. And even that is far from foolproof. I am frightened of a world where people believe in these words' power.

Like riding on a cushion of air

A couple weeks ago, I rotated the tires on the Dodge, for the first time in these tires' life. The rears, by virtue of it being a FWD car, had worn in a very bad way. Lumpy, scalloped and noisy. And the annoying thing was that they probably had 85% of their tread left. But I could deal with the noise, it being the work/beater car and all. Until yesterday, when one of the tires went flat. "Fuck it!," I thought, and headed to the Discount Tire website and shopped me up some tires. I chose the Kumho 758s. They were $4 more than the cheapest, and had slightly better ratings that made it worth it. The friendly folks at Discount Tire even gave me a $32 trade in on the two non-ruined tires. Score. One hour later I had my new tires, and drove off thinking Dodge had accidentally made a hovercraft.


I was wondering what that funny sounding jingle was in my pocket, I didn't think I was carrying anything but money. Turns out to be a 1964 quarter, the last year it was made of silver. According to these people, this quarter is worth $1.44 by weight.


Forgotten lessons of childhood: had to clean the windows in the car, and didn't have any paper towels. Blammo! I remembered that in my childhood we washed the windows with a ball of newspaper, and sure as shit, it did the job. And beautifully, too. Well done, childhood.

Ethical creativity?

This line from the SR blog, "Every now and then while reading bukowski you'd think 'I can write this', and then later you'd realize that the only way you could write something like this is if you tried, and that the second you tried, it's lack of sincerity would be evident and sink it under the weight of it's own pretension," examines something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and makes a good jumping off point for talking about it. I'd been raised to believe that everyone was naturally talented at various things, and to become interested in only those things. If I am not good at something, don't do it. I eventually came to realize that was mostly wrong, too late to even rise up to the level of being bad at basketball or flag football or whatever.

Anyway, I think I realized this when I was talking to my father about Bob Greene and his demise at the Tribune. (This connects, somehow...) I said it's no great loss, his writing was insincere. Asked what I meant, I said that I always got the impression that he chose the emotion the reader was to feel from each column and wrote to that end. I always thought that was cheap and insincere, but my father didn't even get it. He wondered aloud to me if there was any other way to write. I tried to explain that I thought the "right" way to write was to tell a story. Describe what you see and feel, as you see and feel it, the best way you can. And have enough respect for the reader to let them choose their own feelings from your creation. I think that goes a long way toward sincerity.

There is a line from Howard Stern's movie that goes something like "Why do you listen to Howard Stern? Because I want to know what he'll do next." Stern creates something that people find captivating. A successful work doesn't need to play tricks on its audience to get them to keep listening/watching/reading. That comes from being good at telling a story, which in most cases takes practice, which means trying in spite of initial failures.

It's the same way for learning, to me. Some want to know only enough to get by, or learn the tricks of the trade without actually learning the trade. I always figured it was best to learn (and teach) the right way first, and let the "tricks" follow if they must. Like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer decides to gain weight so he can work from home. And he gets one of those bobbing birds to hit the "ok" key on his terminal, because, after all, his job is to hit the "ok" key when the question mark lights up. Faking it is often better than complete inaction, but it can't be an end goal, can it?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Drive me Crazy

My second Netflix disc, gotten (mostly) through the vagaries of the queue system, was: Drive me Crazy, the Melissa Joan "Clarissa Explains it All" Hart high school movie spectacular. It's no classic, but it is a fine example of the genre. It hits all the buttons you're looking for (nostalgic, horny), and actually managed to make me laugh out loud twice. And MJH was looking how I like her, sweet and freckly with a little attitude. Not the shiny-faced whore she became on the Sabrina show. Poor kid.

If you're looking for a little Nickelodeon nostalgia and have a hankerin' for some teenie bopper uselessness, this is your movie.

Best sentence ever

From one of my crazy car websites:

"On Sunday morning by prearrangement my nephew was to come to my motel at 9:00 am and share a continental breakfast with me."

Here is the link to the whole thing. I'm not sure if it's worth it, but it's a heck of a ride.