Jan 28, 2005

Weekend reading list...

Well, it's the weekend, which means one thing for me...it's library time!


Anyway, I've got a couple of books on my list:

My parents both recommended The Kite Runner.

I'm also looking to check out Generation Kill, which I've read a couple of times already but it's definitely worth another look.

Any other suggestions?

Jan 23, 2005

If only I was always this organized...

Got about a foot and a half of snow up here in Morris County, NJ, and all in all, it could've been a lot worse, since the winds they predicted haven't really materialized, and now the sun's out.

Spent the last two hours shoveling out cars in our parking lot at our complex; once the plow came, the residents came out and shoveled, moving cars as needed, directing traffic to empty spaces and the side and dumping snow in empty spots so the plows could plow it away. Pretty good job. Everyone worked together, and now our lot's nice and clear so we can all go to work Monday.

Wait. Ah, shit.

Jan 19, 2005

Your cognitive dissonance of the day...

...comes from this CNN headline:

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Here's a hint: If the nation's split, then...oh, forget it. I'm going to crawl under the desk now. Wake me when it's Friday...

Jan 17, 2005

Odds and sods...

I've been lame with the output this weekend (how the hell does Michener do it?) so here's a few ramblings which don't merit full posts, even in this blog...

* Quite impressed with the Mac mini, I'll be sure to check out these little buzzbombs when they make their way to my local store. The lack of a keyboard threw me off, but for $499 I was expecting Steve Jobs to throw me a plastic bag filled with components and give me a smack, so I'll take it.

* Also impressed with Huygens, less impressed with CNN's party-pooper poll on Friday asking if this was a waste of money (surprisingly, 60% said no). Jeez, CNN, if you want a NASA cash boondoggle, the ISS is right there...

* Checked out Iron Chef America: The Series, and it wasn't half bad. Main problem is it lacks the pomp, ceremony, and utter seriousness that made the original so much fun. In the original series, you had the feeling that a loss would result in a drunken suicide down the road. Here, the contestants were joking with the cameraman. Well, at least Alton Brown's in it.

Jan 13, 2005

It's Dissecting Unintentionally Hilarious Movie Time! Today's subject: The Pope of Greenwich Village

OK, full disclosure. I liked this movie enough at one time (ten years ago) to buy the videotape. And, to be honest, it does have a lot to recommend it. It's got a great story, and great performances by Burt Young as a psychopath with a great name (Bedbug Eddie), and a knockout turn by Geraldine Page which earned her an Academy Award nomination.

With the right leads, it could've been a classic. With any other two leads, it would've been a better movie. And I'm not talking Pacino and DeNiro here. I'm talking Abbott and Costello. Shore and Baldwin. Kenan and Kel.

Instead, we get Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts.

Rourke is merely bad in his role as the world's whitest Italian (I realize it's seven years before Goodfellas, but come on. And between him and Scarface, was there some sort of law at the time that required inappropriate race casting?), who gets caught up in a heist that goes terribly wrong. He Marlon Brandfaux's his way through this one, tough-guy talking his way through this, but is only memorable in one scene (which I'll get to).

But it's Eric Roberts who takes this gritty action drama into the realm of high comedy.

His character is supposed to be an unbelievable loser, true, but Roberts takes this to the extreme, oozing tears in virtually every scene in a rubbery, blubbery mess. My God. The blob-vampire in Blade had more dignity.

And in what should've been the film's centerpiece, the scene where an injured Roberts makes his way back to Rourke's apartment, instead we get an overacting contest, with Roberts spewing sweat, tears, and snot and screaming "CHARRRRRRRLLLLIIIIIEEEEEEEEE!!!!" at the top of his lungs, then Rourke following up by imitating the high-pitched mewl of a mating sperm whale. Yikes.

But don't blink, or you'll miss Beansie's cameo.

Jan 9, 2005

Self-diagnosing on the Internet is fun!

I've noticed an odd thing over the past few months; sometimes, when trying to sleep, my leg would involuntarily twitch. Odd. So, on a whim, I scoped out the net and in a couple of minutes, found the appropriate Yahoo page:

Muscle twitching is the result of minor local muscle contractions or the uncontrollable twitching of a single muscle group served by a single motor nerve fiber or filament.

Muscle twitches are minor and often go unnoticed. Some are common and normal...

Whew, that's a relief.

...while others indicate a neurologic disorder.

Yep, pure relief...no, seriously, until I start tasting colors, I'm not going to worry about it. Far too often, I've gone to the net for [Homer]free medical advice![/Homer] and have gone away convinced I have bronchitis or leprosy or Slovakian urethral phage (trust me, you don't want to know about THAT).

So, what causes this?

* Benign, nonpathologic fasciculations (not caused by disease or disorders)
o Often affect the eyelids, calf, or thumb
o Normal and quite common, often triggered by stress or anxiety


* A diet deficiency


* Drug overdose
* Drug side effect (such as diuretics, corticosteroids and estrogens)
* Exercise

No, no, and exerwhat now?

Now, if I can just figure out the talking growth on the sole of my left foot...

Jan 6, 2005

Hey, Steve Jobs, paint it black and red and get Bono to sign it and you can charge a grand!

It's Macworld time!

Next Tuesday, Mac addicts will sit at their workplace-mandated PCs during their lunch hour and anxiously try to get a streaming Quicktime feed to see the Steve Jobs keynote, where traditionally he debuts a slew of hot new Apple products never before seen by the human eye...

...unless you read the myriad of Mac rumor sites, or in a famous 2002 incident, Time Magazine, which blew the intro of the new LCD iMac.

The hot rumor this year is that Tuesday will be the day that Apple releases a "headless iMac", a cheap desktop computer without an integrated monitor, something Mac fans have been clamoring for since...oh, 1998. This has been something that management has been loath to do in the past, fearing it would cannibalize sales of their iMac and G5 desktops.

(Aside: They're dead right. I've been banging on my iMac for going on five years because of upgrade costs. I'd have probably gone for the iBook next time around, but I'd be on a $499 Mac like Flavor Flav on Brigitte. Figuratively.)

The change in attitude is apparently due to the iPod, which has been such a success for PC users that now Apple feels it can sweep up some users this way.

So, I'll be refreshing the live feeds to see what happens. Hopefully, it'll be such a success, that it'll get the Civ III people to release their expansion packs for the Mac.

Hey, being a geek is respected in some circles. A few circles. A few stagnant, Cheez Doodle residue-encrusted circles.

Jan 5, 2005

Here's folding that would impress Jean Van de Velde.

Over the past few Christmases I've made origami gifts for relatives; usually designs placed in shadowboxes. The last couple of years it's been stars from Tomoko Fuse's Home Decorating with Origami. This year I finally figured out a pattern I've been trying to suss out for some time, even with the now out-of-print videotape: Chris Palmer's five-fold flower tower.

Chris Palmer's been extremely influential in modern origami by bringing tessellations and geometry to his folding, resulting in beautiful, intricate designs.

Unfortunately, his site is mostly inactive, but there are other artists who have done magnificent work based on his ideas. Here's an example. And here's another one exploring the connections between origami and math.

All in all, a lot to inspire me. An observation; after an hour or two of folding these designs, I see the crease patterns when I close my eyes. Long-time Tetris fanatics will recognize this syndrome.

He's OK.

Just heard this morning that the co-worker contacted the manager; he's stuck in Frankfurt, but is alive and well.

With this good news, this blog will return to its all-drivel diet tonight.

Jan 4, 2005

A co-worker is missing.

Unfortunately, bad news in the office this morning; turns out that a co-worker went to South Asia and if his itinerary held, he was in Phuket when the tsunami hit. No one's heard from him since.

Our manager contacted several people, and unfortunately, it's not paranoia; his family and office is waiting for word.

It's pretty subdued here, understandably. All we can do is wait and hope.

Jan 1, 2005

¿Quién es más abundante?

(First, a couple of shout-outs, thanks to shari at An old soul... for the link to my chocolate escapades, have a great vacation! Second, Right Hand Thief has been excellent this past week, even by its usual high standards. Great job!)

The tsunami disaster has been such a horrible occurrence, and worse news comes in every day, that I still haven't been able to comprehend the full scale. But I just want to throw in my two cents about the world reaction to the aid provided by the US and other nations.

First there were the accusations of stinginess. Then, the US increased their aid distribution tenfold. Now, note the wording of the CNN headline about Japan increasing their aid to $500 million:

Japan tops U.S. tsunami aid pledge

It's a sad statement when what should have been a global outpouring of support has apparently become an eleemosynary measuring contest between nations.

But on the other hand, if it gets more money and supplies to those who need it, so be it. As far as I'm concerned, altruism is altruism, regardless of the motives.