Sunday, July 31, 2005

Confounded!

My adding machine has finally broken. It is at least 10 years old, probably longer. It was the adding machine we used at McDonald's, and I named it Phoenix. Because I must have rescued it from coffee spillin's a half dozen times. See, while counting the money and cipherin' on the balance sheet, the adding machine was a natural place to keep my coffee- right there on the flat area next to the little printer. Of course, the coffee would routinely spill all over goddamn everything, and gum up the keys. And so I had to figure out how to open the thing up and clean it out. Please note, I was not the only one to spill things into it, I was just the one who knew how to fix it. I came into possession of it when someone spilled something in it when I was off, and it got replaced before I returned. It had not yet been thrown away, so I took it.

And now the motor has burnt out, and I need to replace it. It is a Casio DL-270a, and browsing the Casio site for a replacement, I cannot see the difference between it's obvious successor, and a cheaper model. You might ask why I want a full size replacement, simply to do my taxes once a year. To keep up on the 10-key skills, of course. And nobody has created an adding machine applet for the computer that meets with my approval.

Humor!

Family's dark humor revealed in death notice.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ouchie!

I was doing some auto repairs and maintenance today:
  • Oil Change
  • A/C Troubleshootin'
  • Drill out a broken bolt and retap a new hole.
  • Check/adjust ignition timing.

    In doing that, I managed to get shocked by a spark plug wire. Yelped like a little girl. Then my mouth went metallic tasting for just a second. Wacky!

  • Thursday, July 28, 2005

    Vista!

    Microsoft recently announced the name of it's next operating system, previously codenamed Longhorn, to be the lispy "Vista". Some guy in the Sun Times gazes into the future. Will Windows XP have been Microsoft's pinnacle achievement?

    Monday, July 25, 2005

    Do state consulting costs compute?

    But state officials who oversee the IBM deal say their strategy of routing more computer work IBM's way and letting hundreds of smaller contracts lapse has helped total state spending on computer consultants decrease $19 million under Blagojevich. An additional $53 million has been saved by the early retirements and attrition of computer experts on the state payroll, they say.
    Fusco, what the hell are you trying to do to me?

    Sunday, July 24, 2005

    Another EBay adventure

  • I completely forgot about this product.

  • Vacuum tube!

  • You heard me

    El Regreso de los Tomates Asesinos

    Friday, July 22, 2005

    Time!

    Lawmakers move to extend daylight-saving time
    According to some senators, farmers complained that a two-month extension could adversely affect livestock, and airline officials said it would have complicated scheduling of international flights.
    I always wondered about this livestock excuse. How do the cows know what time it is?
    "The beauty of daylight-saving time is that it just makes everyone feel sunnier," said Markey.
    And they say Democrats are namby-pamby...

    Thursday, July 21, 2005

    Digital!

    I've gotten my hands on one of these. A set top box that allows me to recieve digital over the air broadcasts. If I had a high definition TV, it would give me that too.

    Primer: Digital is the method by which the next generation of over the air television is being broadcast. Soon, broadcasters will no longer have to broadcast in analog, and everyone will have to buy one. Or a new tv.

    Primer2: Standard tv is 480 lines of resolution at 30 frames per second, interlaced. That means that the TV draws the odd lines first, then the evens. So you are actually getting 60 half-frames per second. Interlacing was originally introduced back in the day to reduce flickering and motion errors. That because by the time the tv drew the bottom of the frame, the top would be dimming, and if there was a lot of quick motion in the image, that motion would be jerky. This is the only kind of TV that regular analog tv can broadcast in.

    In the digital world, this is called 480i. This is also what format DVDs are in. The high definition standards are 480p. The p stands for progressive, which is the opposite of interlacing. Full frames are drawn 60 times a second. This leads to a feeling of smoothness, like a computer screen. More HD standards are 720p, 1080i, and the theoretical 1080p.

    Anyhow, why would I buy this box? Here's why: all tv that I normally get, in varying degrees of awful, is now DVD quality. Complete with 5.1 digital, of they're broadcasting it. No static, no weird lines, no nothing. Absolutely beautiful. Unlike regular TV, where a perfect picture is practically unheard of, and the majority of viewing is done at some level of poor quality, digital tv is either perfect, or completely gone. There is a very narrow band of blocky weirdness that you could call static or interference, but it has been rare so far. Downside? I cannot get channel 2, CBS, and I get the blocky weirdness on 5, NBC. I'll have to find a way to improve that.

    Another reason why is that each station can actually broadcast a number of different subchannels. See, in the digital realm, they have it set where each broadcaster gets a certain amount of bandwidth that they can split how they like. What the networks are doing is broadcasting their main feed in high definition, and a second or third standard definition channel. Almost always a weather channel clone and a news rebroadcast. PBS does a second stream of more old scholl PBS stuff, like the animal stalking shows and so forth. I think I'm going to enjoy that. My UPN station broadcasts it's sister station, which plays nothing but old tv shows (Honeymooners, Lucy, The Monkees, Bewitched and so on). And the religious channel, in an unexpected but completely in character and unsurprising move, is broadcasting six channels of adoration.

    So, I'm almost completely happy, as far as my tv watching goes. The box was $129 on ebay.

    Burn!

    They had to change the rating of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to "adult" after it was exposed that they had explicit sexual content.

    Someone with the company had this to say:
    "There is sex content in the disc," Take-Two spokesman Jim Ankner told The Associated Press. "The editing and finalization of any game is a complicated task and it's not uncommon for unused and unfinished content to remain on the disc."
    Of all the people involved in the production and consumption of video games (remember, in the context of this blog, it's always pronounced "vid-ja", Hank Hill style), that is so NOT the consumer's problem, NOT the retailers' problem and NOT the manufacturers' problem. That problem is in the content production, and they should grow a set and quit trying to make excuses.

    And another guy said this:
    Take-Two president Paul Eibeler stressed in a statement that only an unauthorized "mod" makes the sex scenes available, and said "the decision to re-rate a game based on an unauthorized third party modification presents a new challenge for parents, the interactive entertainment industry and anyone who distributes or consumes digital content."
    Yeah, the challenge to not put sex content into products that are marketed to kids.

    Hey, I understand that all us hipsters who grew up on Double Dragon, Mario Brothers and Zelda need more to get our video game nut off, but this is ridiculous and I'm glad they got caught.

    Not that it makes a difference, I'm sure this just boosts demand. Someone, somethere is embarrassed about it, and that's good enough for me.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2005




    Is that Fred Dalton Thompson, New York County DA, behind John Roberts and Dr. Fist?

    Tuesday, July 19, 2005

    This is my kind of crazy!

    Of course, it's The Condiment Packet Museum.

    Weather!

    So, old man weather got me back for complaining. It's not my fault, Tommy Skilling does too good a job for me to ignore.

    I arrived at the office yesterday, 'round 2:30, to drop off some parts and paperwork. We lease half of a one story office-park-style building from the good folks at Aramark, and the other half of the building is vacant. Thus, so is that half of the parking lot vacant- a mighty, suburban style, freshly sealcoated behemoth. I got out of my car, folder full of paperwork in hand, and went to the back seat to grab the box I had to return. Now this box had something on it- I never figured out what it was, just that when I had carried it out to the car it got something on me. So I was trying to pick up the box in a way so as not to ruin my shirt. At the same time, I was thinking to myself, "gee, it's awfully breezy today- if I weren't standing in this awful hot parking lot in a shirt and tie, it would be a pretty nice day for how hot it is." Moments later, I dropped the folder. Like any good catastrophe, there was one of those hope-dashing pauses. "Wow, the folder stayed closed. I hope I can grab it before the papers fly away." Not so lucky. So there I am chasing four 4 part carbonless forms (they fly good, like a tumbleweed) across this parking lot. Luckily there was a ridge of shrubberies about half a furlong out and I was able to grab all but one there. I also got tar all over my hands because when I grabbed one of them, my finger sunk right into a freshly tar-filled crack.

    Monday, July 18, 2005

    Cool

    Laser labeled fruit. Screw the little stickers.

    60 minutes

    I was listening to this program on the radio last night on my way home. I was looking for traffic on the 8s, but they just plugged in the CBS TV audio to let the broadcast studio cool down, apparently.

    Anyway, it was ostensibly about highly successful women who give up their careers to be full-time mothers. But what it really seemed to be was about Linda Hirshman, who (as a philosopher- she told us) has decided that women who do such things are damaging womenhood and flat out making the wrong decision. Ahem.

    A couple nuggets:
    "The women that I have interviewed are completely dependent upon the goodwill of their wealthy income-producing husbands," says Hirshman. "They chose dependence."

    "It's different to talk about their right than what's the right decision," says Hirshman. "As Mark Twain said, 'A man who chooses not to read is just as ignorant as a man who cannot read.'"

    "These women are choosing lives in which they do not use their capacity for very complicated work," adds Hirshman. "They are choosing lives in which they do not use their capacity to deal with very powerful other adults in the world, which takes a lot of skill. I think there are better lives and worse lives."
    Well, that's nice. Fact one: none of this is possible if people don't reproduce and raise fresh replacements for us all. Fact two: it is easier to raise nice, decent, intelligent children when the parents spend more time with them. One way to do that is to have one parent stay home full time. Fact three: Linda Hirshman is an asshole.

    I'm not willing to say that the quality of parenting suffers when both parents work, but it sure is a harder life for everyone involved. The people who make these decisions seem to feel the same way. I don't really think it's fair to lay the future of an entire bloc of demographics on people who are making good decisions for themselves and their families. Yes, for that instant snapshot of time, these women are dependent on their husbands for support. But what Hirshman fails to acknowledge is the work these successful women did for the family before (and presumably after) the child rearing years. What wealth did the woman add to the family while she was working, and is it only through that wealth that they are able to have this instantaneous single income arrangement? When the kids get older, will they resume working to pay for decent college, and saving for retirment so as not to be a burdeon on their families?

    I hesitate to use this analogy, but I will anyway. I don't think it would be nearly as acceptable for someone to say "asians who choose manual labor over the sciences are failing in their duty to their race". It's just as ignorant as what this Hirshman person is saying is my point.


    In other news: it's fucking hot out. I think I'll leave it out. But seriously, can we get a little rain? We've only had 0.89 inches since June first (and that's officially at O'Hare airport- I seriously think we haven't gotten half of that here). And I don't think I've cut the grass in two months. Dead brown. The only green in the lawn are the weeds.

    On the other hand, if it's going to be hot out, you want it to be dry. The only really intolerable part is getting into the 130 degree car numerous times a day.

    Sunday, July 17, 2005

    Flares!

    Check out the wacky transmitter patterns for the Chicago area digital TV channels. Use this convenient tool to find your latitude and longitude.

    I find it interesting that the two worst channels in the Chicago area (assuming the digital transmitter is in the same place as the regular one) are the ones that broadcast from the John Hancock building, the puny, third largest building in the city. As point of reference, here is a view of the Hancock (the big black one)- as seen from the Sears Tower. Where all the really good stations broadcast from. In fact, looking at a map, it looks like the Sears Tower could block the Hancock. And I'm not sure, but I think the Sears Tower sits on higher ground. It seems bigger than the 314' difference.

    Saturday, July 16, 2005

    I can't stop!

    I love the television program Cheaters. The narrator's creative use of adjectives and Joe Greco's obtuseness combine to create a fine waste of an hour.

    Bullshit!

    State Senator Claims He Was Victim Of Racial Profiling

    Pols push cops for policy changes

    Jackson 'Outraged' Over Meeks Traffic Stop

    I don't think anyone doubts the facts of this case. Let me add a little context:

  • Jesse Jackson Jr. is purported to be thinking of running for Mayor, a post Daley has held since 1989. Before Daley, the job was held by Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor. There are those who belive that once a political office is held by a person of one race or another, that job 'belongs' to that race. Those people haven't been happy when Daley won the election after Washington's death. Ironically, I don't think Washington was one of those people who believed such things, he was just a charismatic guy who ran for office at just the right time to win.

  • Besides being an Illinois State Senator, Meeks is also the Pastor at Salem Baptist Church, which happens to be where Washington worshipped and where his funeral was held.

    And some facts that weren't presented very well in the news reports (some of these things were reported on the radio off wire reports, facts that didn't make the cut in the above reports):

  • Meeks wasn't the driver.

  • The car was a Champaigne colored 1993 Oldsmobile Delta 88.

  • The driver pulled into oncoming traffic to pass a police squad car and run the stopsign. It's not really profiling when you drive like an idiot, right in front of the police. It's sort of like saying "I dare you to pull me over." Maybe that's not what they meant, but that's what it says.

  • After being pulled over, Meeks exits the vehicle (again, NOT the driver) and approaches the police officer. Identifying himself as Rev. Meeks and saying there's a misunderstanding.

  • After being ordered to return to the vehicle by the police officer, the good reverend continued trying to engage the officer.

  • Only then did the officer do what he allegedly did.

    You don't get out of the car. Ever. And if you do, you better follow the directions of the officer when he tells you to get back into the car.

    This is, pure and simple, a politician/reverend who thinks he's above the law, a police officer who reacted to a squirrely situation, and a bunch of politicians trying to win an election on it.

  • Chateau Bu-Sche!

    Alsip police were searching for suspects Friday in the death of a Chicago man gunned down in a parking lot during a friend's wedding reception.

    It's never pretty when there's gunplay at a wedding reception. This is across the street from the landmark Amoco station, for you out of towners.

    Friday, July 15, 2005

    Fast fun facts:

    The guys who do the "Real Men of Genius" and "Real American Heroes" Budweiser commercials are Pete Stacker (announcer)and David Bickler (singer). Stacker was the production guy for Chicago's Q-101 and does other voice work (Midas!), and David Bickler is/was the singer from Survivor.

    "Real men of Genius"

    -or-

    "Eye of the Tiger"

    Bam!

    Cool, useless

    This is neat, but I want one that says one thing when viewed from head on, and something different from either side. So you can be working dilligently, but your lazy, jealous co workers will only see you playing Solitare.

    Thursday, July 14, 2005

    Delicious

    This design house has a couple neat things. I hope this thing gets made, I must have one.

    Monday, July 11, 2005

    Dis haole can habla, bra

    I was listening to the radio t'other day, and a hawaiian girl came on, singing up a storm. I wrote her name down as "Amy Hanai'ili". I was pretty close: it is Amy Hanaiali'i. Good singing. Give Waikki a listen. Smoky!

    Stupidity!

    Don't put sensitive shit in your blog. Duh. If you are dumb enough to bitch, in writing, about things "the job" won't like, your controversial political beliefs or whatever, you ought to accept the consequences.

    Sunday, July 10, 2005

    Wild!

    Get your hands on the DVD set called "The Four Historic Ed Sullivan Shows Featuring the Beatles." Unlike most crap out there, these are the entire shows, one hour, complete with the ridiculous variety acts AND commercials. It was neat to see the entire Beatles performance, but even more enlightening to see the rest of the shows- Frank Gorshin doing Kirk Douglas and Alec Guiness, among others. A 300 lb Tessie O'Shea doing a montage, wearing a mink stole and some kind of drapery. Now she's got a banjo. Also to find out that Ed Sullivan is the most uncharismatic human ever televised. Make Nixon look like Frank Sinatra.

    Saturday, July 09, 2005

    The Media

    A good story on how some apologist for the gaming industry got shafted by the obviously unethical Donny Duetch show.

    Friday, July 08, 2005

    Finally!

    My new receiver finally shipped! Christ! Perhaps it will eventually arrive... Check out the frequency response- 4 Hz to 88,000 Hz. I hope I'll be able to keep the bats away.

    The World's Ugliest Dog

    Need I say more?

    Thursday, July 07, 2005

    Chili!

    Try finding a chili recipe in the internet that is actually made of chili peppers, that does not contain chili powder. (Wikipedia did save me)

    I did make some today, it was ok. But to be honest, I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. Well, besides regular standard Hormel.

    Loathe!

    I happened to be listening to Rush today, and happened to happen upon a moment of lucidity. Rush talks about how to stop terrorism, and actually makes sense. Until the next caller (I doubt randomly) brought him back on the "kill them all and let god sort them out" track. Don't get me wrong- I understand why anyone would want to send actual terrorists to hell. But most of these rants are a little Thurmondesque for my comfort level.

    Sufjan Stevens

    Chicago! While I applaud a thematic effort, and one that overly specifically refers to the ol' home town, AND one that has a banjo in it, I cannot condone this music. He's a fine musician and whoever wrote the songs is a fine songwriter, it's just too fey for my tastes. I'm filing it in the "Donavan - Hail Atlantis" category.
    Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, oh yeah
    Oh glub glub, down down, yeah
    My antediluvian baby, oh yeah yeah yeah yeah

    Wednesday, July 06, 2005

    HA!

    I was jacking around with the Shotgun Charlie machine, and stumbled upon ... the Evil Mickey Rooney setting. He's also from another dimension, I think. I do not add any of the affectations to my voice, just speaking normally. Delightful.

    Hipsters unite!

    Narrowcasting is the trend of the instant- Flash! 2005! Now you too can listen to the modern day equivalent of a lunatic handing you a cassette he recorded in his garage! Future!

    Tuesday, July 05, 2005

    Fools!

    Eco Car More Efficient than Light Bulb

    I'm sure it really is, but that's not what the story says- the story just says it uses less energy. Efficiency is the ratio of energy consumed to useful energy output. A locomotive that uses gallons of diesel per mile is far more efficient than a car that uses one gallon for 30 miles. Because it converts more of the energy in the fuel to motion. A lightbulb isn't particularly efficient, it loses a lot of energy to heat.

    I'm also shocked to learn that there are only ~12 watts in a gallon of gasoline. That seemed low to me... It is. So they're completely wrong.

    Monday, July 04, 2005

    Live 8

    Someone says the coverage sucked. I didn't watch it, so I don't know. This is a trend in television for a while- no patience for live coverage. Music also suffers from the mentioned poor telecast direction- gotta change cameras every two seconds or the bus will explode!

    "And now here comes the president up the stage. He's shaking hands with the speaker, Dennis Hastert, of course for those who don't know, and now he shakes hands with Mr. Cheney, the vice president. Now he walks up to the podium- it's been mentioned that the president got a good night's sleep, so he should be in rare form tonight- and opens the booklet containing the written copy of the speech. The speech is in the teleprompter, of course, but if there is a malfunction with that system he will be able to immediately refer to the printed copy. He's inhaling now, no doubt ready to exhale and form words with his mouth, making noise with his vocal cords. The president of the united states, George W. Bush."

    "Good Evening my fellow Americans" [applause]

    "George W. Bush is of course the 43rd president, born in Texas. His father was also president, he was the 41st. Governor of Texas for two terms before running in 2000 for president, this is Mr. Bush's 5th state of the union address."

    "I come to report to you that the state of the union is strong!" [applause]

    "The State of the Union Address of course is constitutionally mandated, the president must reprot to the congress once per year. The day and time is not mandated, but tonight has traditionally been the ...."

    And so on. The technology exists now with the digital broadcast standards to be able to run the commentary simultaneously with the speech (like a DVD commentary track), and I predict it won't be long before the news stations (and network news) starts doing it. Before the end of W's term, I bet.

    Sloppy!

    Went to a party at Champaign Lou's elegant lakefront apartment last night. It was more his brother Nick's gathering, and his crowd is a little more hardcore than I am used to. You may know about the hot dog joint in town, Weiner Circle, where the custom is that the people behind the counter treat the customer rudely, and the customer in turn gets to insult them. It gets very loud and ugly. Nick was loudly practicing for a late night visit there all evening. But back on point, they are hardcore. They mixed up something called Summer Brew (whick is better than Summer Teeth) in a 3 gallon insulated dispensor things (think McDonald's Orange Drink). It consists of Miller Lite, Lemons/Lemon Juice, a packet of (presumably lemon) Kool Aid, and an entire handle bottle (1.75 L) of vodka. Put simply, that shit will fuck you up. I had ONE GLASS around 6 or so and I was out of sorts the entire evening.

    Sunday, July 03, 2005

    Fascinating

    Give this crazy anti-Nutrasweet rant a read. I love how all conspiracies are intertwined into famous, powerful people. It's never simply a janitor swapping in dummied-up lab reports for $500. No, Nixon did it in cahoots with the CIA, the King of Luxomburg, IBM and Col. McCormick.

    One of the chemical components of it is methanol, or wood alcohol. The stuff in bad moonshine that makes you go blind. But what they fail to mention (or I fail to see) is whether the methanol actually jumps free from the nutrasweet molecule inside the body. They seem to assume that it happens, and then tell us about the horrible things that happen when someone ingests methanol. Look at plain old table salt- it's comprised of chlorine (a poisonous gas), and sodium (an explosivly reactive semi-soft metal). Yet we can eat it safely because of... basic chemistry.

    Saturday, July 02, 2005

    Another Test!

    Testing the email interface again. Don't know why, just for the fun of
    it. Stay Sexy, Cyberspace!

    Friday, July 01, 2005

    Stuff

  • Shannon Elizabeth divorces. Maybe it's because the dude is 37 and dresses like a 20 year old idiot.

  • Well, let's all just go nuts. More later.