September 30, 2004

Kerry takes the First?

Last post tonight about the debates:

I’m seeing multiple places that people are giving Kerry strong marks for giving people a feeling of confidence. This is important. The president needs credibility.

We can all go through the details, but I think Kerry was the clear winner if only on one issue: Tim Russert looked like he was going to pop afterward. This debate got people’s attention. No real fireworks, no blood or death blows, but it’s given us something that people have craved, perhaps. The direct words of the candidates rather than surrogates. It’s caused excitement, and excitement is good for Kerry. Apathy is definitely the enemy. Bush and surrogates have been able to sow a feeling of apathy by muddying Kerry up as much as possible.

Maybe Bush’s bored/annoyed look is more than his personality. Maybe it is intentional. Discourage excitement. The excitement is working in Kerry’s flavor.

And the fact that he looked so confident, while Bush resorted to SNORTING helps a lot as well.

Now, I have to do something non-political to relax.

Posted by James at 11:16 PM | Comments (1)

Unanimous in Ohio

The NBC undecided panel was not undecided about the debate. They think Kerry won. Even those that had voted for Bush. Excellent

Posted by James at 10:57 PM | Comments (1)

Blogging the Debate

I’ll post observations as I have them (if I have them) here. Read on for my blow-by-blow observations.

Starting out watching Lehrer on CSPAN. Talking to the audience. Giving them instructions on how to behave and what’s going to happen.

They’re using a buzzer if the candidates go too long. Kerry is more likely to want to and be able to speak for more than a few minutes at a time coherently. We’ll see how that works out.

Lehrer is in good spirits. 0 seconds…

Handshake. No blood yet.

9:03 PM: Kerry is leading with the stressing of alliances, and even reaching out to the Muslim world to isolate radical influences. Bush’s first rebuttal: he’s started right in with mentioning 9/11. Broken record.

9:05: Bush looks dyspeptic. Kerry looked a bit nervous in his first question, but looks to be gaining comfort during the first rebuttal.

9:09: Bush is leaning heavily on the people registered to vote. (in Iraq)

9:10: Kerry loses no time mentioning Osama and Iraq as a distraction from the war on terror. Osama bin Laden. Afghanistan. (“Bush changed his mind [on the UN] his campaign has a word for that”)

9:14: Bush throwing Kerry’s words back at him on Saddam as a threat. But Kerry is nodding at him.

9:16: Bush: “Of course we’re after Saddam Hussei… er, Osama bin Laden.”

9:17: Kerry begins a more detailed case as Iraq being peripheral to the war on terror.

9:20: Kerry: “We can succeed, but I don’t think this president can.”

9:23: Kerry: Steamrolling. Confident. Bush: Seems bored, dyspeptic and possibly gassy.

9:25: Bush is close to flipping out. Kerry appears to have him flustered.

9:28: Kerry brings up Bush’s Dad and military folks he’s talked to. Bush is taking his second “extra response.” Can’t stick to the format? Now he’s getting whiny.

9:32: No allies, Halliburton - Body blow! Body blow! Bush’s response? “Absurd” and Bush points to Blair.

9:35: Bush says we achieved a rapid victory. Huh? Won’t explain the “miscalculation” statement. Keeps trying to hit Kerry over the head with the idea that Kerry doesn’t support the troops just because he’s running for president.

9:38: Kerry showing Bush’s coalition for the joke it is. Snuck in a comment about North Koreans and their progress while we are off in Iraq (no nukes there, by the way.)

9:40: Kerry points out Bush did not use war as a last resort, as he said he would.

9:42: Bush hitting Kerry with repeating “mixed messages” and “not supporting the troops.” But Bush comes out with an odd “Osama doesn’t determine how we defend ourselves.” Hunh? No one is asking Osama.

9:44: Bush paraphrase: If I say Kerry is inconsistent, it must be true. No examples needed.

9:46: Kerry: “important not to confuse the war with the warriors.” Yeah!

9:48: Kerry is on message. Bush is on a weird message — trying to stick Kerry to “Wrong war wrong time.” Bush isn’t selling it, though. I think he means to attach that to “is the world safer without Saddam” but he fails to make the connection. Instead, he’s connecting it to Kerry’s message to the troops. It’s falling flat. He still has time to try to stick it to Saddam, though.

9:51: Bush is obviously focused on how Kerry’s words are heard by people like the troops and Allawi. Why should we care about Allawi?

9:54: No one is really wounded yet. But my biased read is that in almost an hour, Bush has come off as annoyed. Kerry is confident, and has not made Gore’s mistakes from 2000.

9:56: Bush whoops! Opened it up for Kerry to smack him with confusion over the enemy. Saddam Hussein didn’t attack us, then Bush let Osama go. Bang. Bush is annoyed.

9:58: LOL moment. Bush insisting he knows that Osama attacked us. If we need convincing of this, that’s sad.

10:00: Bush is actually using feigned confusion as a tactic. Amazing.

10:02: Kerry appears to be getting by without asking for extra time.

10:03: Bush is wandering off to North Korea. But he’s wandered way off into China. And off into one of his famous Duuuuuhhhh moments.

10:04: Mike tells me in IM that he loves it when Bush calls the terrorists “folks.” Brian says “Heh. He said nukyoolar.”

10:06: Lehrer asks for clarification from both N. Korea. Apparently this means Bush can talk as long as he wants about the sanctions.

10:07 Darfur is brought up. Kerry says “genocide.” We’re overextended.

10:11: The Darfur answers were a flop. New question for Bush: character differences? Woof. The steam has gone out since the Darfur question. Bleh, this part is boring and not very useful either.

10:14: Kerry: Bush is certain and wrong. Kerry gets easy stuff to rebut from Bush, something silly about wilting.

10:18: Kerry hits the nuke proliferation issue. Bush comes out semi-strong with a response on the funding, but is stumbling and rambling with a confused explanation of his plan.

10:20: Nuke clarification, they agree but Kerry says he’s going to get the nukes controlled quicker with talks. Bush’s only response is that he doesn’t think it can work. No reasoning, just he doesn’t think it will work. “Vladuhmer?”

10:24: Bush: “I likes Vladumer!” Kerry: “I actually know something.”

10:25: Kerry: Just because Bush says it can’t be done doesn’t mean it can’t. Bush, wanders off the North Korea/China question back to Saddam. I don’t think he was listening!

10:26: Bush snorts at Kerry’s comment about the coalition.

10:27: Kerry “I’m not talking about leaving, I’m talking about winning.”

10:28: Bush: Back to fear. Back to innuendo. Secret religious handshake.

Analysis

Shields: “Morning in America” message is missing. Winners have had that.

David Brooks: “I think the president held his own on the factual issues which is always a problem for him …”

Wow, glowing review.

My email to CNN:

Regarding the debate tonight, I thought Kerry looked remarkably comfortable, while Bush looked either annoyed or like he’d rather be somewhere else.

Bush offered us no insight into his plans. Kerry, on the other hand, comported himself with sincerity, I though. He’s got credibility. He’s willing to admit mistakes and correct them. Refreshing!

Now watching the spin room. But I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to take.

Posted by James at 9:01 PM | Comments (9)

Debate Scoring

Steve has summarized the presidential debate scorecard.

I prefer my Presidential Debate Drinking Game. It’s Therapeutillicious™! And there’s no complex scoring system.

Start drinking hard liquor at about 8:45. At 9 you will be ready for the debates. Keep drinking. Talk back to the TV. Shout at the TV. Continue to drink until you pass out.

When you wake up, whatever you say will be about as coherent as any of the other post-debate analysis.

OK, I plan to remain sober for the debate. But I just know I’m going to wish I weren’t. Bush on TV has that effect on me.

Posted by James at 5:46 PM | Comments (4)

Blister Bug Season?

Sharon just came into the office talking about an interesting blue bug. I thought it might be a blister beetle like the one we saw last year, and sure enough it was. I was surprised that it was a year ago, minus 12 days. This must be their season.

Posted by James at 2:15 PM | Comments (3)

Sad State of Miracles These Days

‘Miraculous’ Christ Washes Up in Texas Rio Grande

A fiberglass statue of Christ that washed up on a sandbar in the Rio Grande three weeks ago is attracting scores of devout pilgrims to a police department lost-and-found and being hailed as a miracle.

If anything is, my daughters are a miracle. Not junk washing up on a crummy beach. If anything, this is an insult to the idea of “miracle.” Whatever happened to the good old days of the Blessed Virgin appearing in the swirls of a marble bundt cake? Help me out here.

Found via Gullibility.

Posted by James at 12:32 PM | Comments (8)

This Tea Is Saddam Good

Explosive al-Qaeda brew hits Guinea

It is a trend similar to neighbouring Mali and Senegal, where people call a popular form of sweet tea Saddam.

“After eight days we can drink it. It gives a tonic-like flavour and this is good for man’s organism,” Mr Camara says.

“When the beverage has boiled to a certain level, it sparkles and gives explosive-like rumbling sounds when you open the pot.

“This is why some call it B52, American bombardment, Bin Laden and others call it al-Qaeda,” he says.

Conflation of Saddam and Al Qaeda has spread from the administration, pervaded the media and has now infected the soft drink world. On the other hand, what man couldn’t use a little pick-me-up for his organism?

Via Erik, but not via his weblog.

Posted by James at 11:12 AM | Comments (4)

Sunday at Glen Park

Chuck has now posted “the rest of the story” on Scott’s Reserve. I suggest you read about the chill that ran down his spine when he lifted a big rock and peered underneath into a cold stygian eye. Read it first. Then read about our visit to “The Witch House.”

Sunday Morning

I slept until midmorning, about 9AM because I was too stupid to go directly to bed after driving home from Chuck and Patty’s the night before.

After checking my email I began to respond to an email from Chuck telling me that someone had posted a corrected waypoint for Scott’s Reserve. I entered it into my GPSr to check the location and replayed our visit in my mind’s eye. The new waypoint was almost assuredly at the northwesterly corner of the cellar hole. That meant it was either in the cellar hole or at the tree where the bricks were piled.

Before I had a chance to send that deduction back to Chuck, my cell phone rang. Chuck was calling me from the trail back. He was very agitated as he told me about what he’s found — a dangerous well covered only with a few rocks. It was clear that Chuck was worried that his finding the well would make it more dangerous. We discussed that and were getting pretty certain that the Scott’s Reserve cache had gone missing. We hung up when he got home, and I went on to plan our day’s adventure.

The Witch Hunt

The Witch Hunt is a cache near Glen Farms in Portsmouth. The intentionally spooky name is given because the cache hunt takes you to an old stone building that has been given that name “the witch’s house.” It comes complete with a creepy story that a woman who once lived there long ago was executed for her role in the disappearance of village children. Of course, after her death her name was cleared. And ever since then, her ghost haunts the area!

B-movie fodder, but the location is quite striking nonetheless.

I was not on my A-game with the photography, but I did snap some shots.

On the way down to the trail head, we encountered a little shack in the middle of a multipurpose field. Mattie said “I’d like to live there!” but I think she changed her mind once we saw the inside. It was like a small barn, and it was gutted.

But in the abundant sunlight, a little shack is a friendly place. The air at Glen Park was filled with little specks. Some sort of insect was abundant here and they caught the sun as they swarmed around, more than a little bit reminiscent of the fluff in the air of the movie Legend. A few times we saw dragonflies large enough to mistake for birds.

Our search eventually took us to the Witch House itself.

As we climbed and scrabbled, we found our way to a small paved path. We turned a sharp corner and came up against a magnificent and spooky sight. Under the tree cover, in the filtered light we saw huge stone walls, a small structure and a dramatic arch. Of these ancient walls, some had toppled over, leaving debris fields several times larger than a grown man.

While we wandered looking for the cache, it was easy to get distracted by all there was to see here. There was both detail and drama, and it was all hidden in a small valley shielded from the surrounding areas. The brook which had carved out the valley skipped and splashed over hundreds of flat rocks, making calming noises.

It was not quite as calm when I slipped on a rock and planted my lower leg into the rushing water up to the knee. I was happy to have saved the camera and other electronics from the drink. Not so happy that I now stepped with a tap, squish, tap, squish rhythm.

We found the cache without too much trouble. After we replaced it, an equestrian passed on the paved path; it was the second time in two days that our activities were observed by someone on horseback.

We used the girls’ trail to depart the area, looking back down on the little stone structure. This was the best angle on the Witch House, since the area has seen heavy teenage use. We were lucky enough to be undisturbed in our hunt, and it would have been awkward to have to sneak around if the place had been teeming with adolescents. I’d already had a slightly similar experience when I had to take pictures of Lizzie Borden’s grave and came upon a couple of early teens having some alone time at the famous woman’s family monument.

We decided to give up our quest for a second cache for the day, mostly because I didn’t have a decent change of shoes with me. I was satisfied, anyhow.

We returned home, where I kept tabs on what was going on with Chuck’s crisis/adventure. That night I spent some time trying to help him decide what to do about the well and reassuring him that he was going to leave this a much better situation than he left it. I’m really happy that it turned out as well (no pun intended) as it did, but I was confident all along that it would turn out for the better.

Posted by James at 9:40 AM

September 29, 2004

Toad

Toad, seen outside the front steps here a couple of days ago.

Posted by James at 3:46 PM

Not Debates

NPR : Connie Rice: Top 10 Secrets They Don’t Want You to Know About the Debates

As you watch the debate tomorrow (you are going to watch it, aren’t you?) here are a few things to remember.

They aren’t debates. They are closed to other candidates. The audience is basically there for show and may not even cough. The parties control the questions. They’re funded by large corporations.

Hey, this is our country. We’re choosing our president. Don’t we deserve a nice, chaotic, uncontrolled, locked cage match between our two candidates? Why do we settle for the pablum we’re going to be subjected to?

I suggest two additional debates. One: the two candidates in a locked room for 3 hours. Cameras on them at all times. They discuss their differences. To spur the discussion, snippets of news stories will be projected on a wall of the room periodically.

The second “debate” will be randomly chosen citizens asking the candidates questions. That’s it. Real people bringing their concerns to the candidates. Only screen the people for security purposes.

But I’m sure there are other formats that might be interesting. Your suggestions?

Posted by James at 2:51 PM | Comments (9)

Saturday - Caches and Apples

Last weekend was another active one, and it seems they just get busier and busier. As the “outdoor” weather now has a time limit on it, we get outdoors more and more.

What follows is the story of Saturday: apples and our attempt at 2 geocaches. The whole story is one of puzzlement and danger, but CHuck is going to have to give his side of the story before all can be told. WIthin this post I also describe my approach to a difficult cache and my biggest geocaching pet peeve.

Apples on Saturday

We drove north to go with Chuck and Patty to Lanni Orchards in Lunenburg. This is an orchard we’d been to before, about 3 years ago. Very accessible and great fun to wander around picking apples. Around where I live there is only one choice for PYO (pick your own) apples,1 but an hour north of here PYO farms are much more common.

The kids seemed to have fun picking the apples, searching for the biggest ones and discovering tree after tree full of them. It doesn’t take long before the bags become too heavy.

The plan for the rest of the day was to go geocaching. I’ll summarize. Our plan was to hike out to the area of a couple of caches in Fitchburg. Scott’s Reserve and Teacher’s Treasures. We’d hit Scott’s Reserve first, and then pick up TT right afterwards.

The parking area described on the Teacher’s Treasures cache page was far to the south. For future reference, in my limited geocaching experience, to make it more fun for kids you have to try to minimize the hike whenever possible. It’s not that kids don’t like to walk, it’s that the walk back is often tough with tired kids. We were a little low on time because Maggie and I had gotten to Fitchburg late, so we didn’t take the time to scout for a better parking place. As you can see on this map, there are some fairly close roads, but we followed the recommendation and parked south near Mechanic Street.

Scott’s Reserves

Thus began our (now legendary) attempt at Scott’s Reserve. We found a mini trail off the main one in the direction of the cache, and we knew we were doing well at that point. We zeroed right in on the location when Chuck exclaimed, “This is where it has to be!” He’d found a really neat old cellar hole which I failed to photograph. We began to search the hole and surrounding area.

I have a pretty efficient (if I do say so) search approach. First, I get in the general area of the cache. Once there I spot outstanding features (as Chuck did) and make a quick search around without looking at the GPS for the most obvious hiding spots. This only takes seconds. In that initial search we found the cellar hole, a tree with some bricks piled next to it and a nearby stone wall. Quick searches of all three came up negative.

Next I make multiple tries at finding the exact location of the coordinates using a compass and the GPSr bearing. I turn the unit on and off to try to eliminate “GPS drift.” And then I put the unit down and let it average the readings a bit without movement. This results in some triangulations that raise my confidence in the whether I am at the coordinates or not. If it’s not obvious then, I may check the cache owner’s clue.

The GPS put us in a leaf-covered area to the north of the cellar hole where there was a thin, very crooked tree. There was no where in the immediate vicinity of the coordinates to hide a cache. But we knew 3 things:

  1. The cache had been found just 2 days before by an experienced geocacher (McDyver) who said he covered the cache up better than he’d found it.
  2. The clue for the cache was “Cellar Hole”
  3. Previous gc’ers had described looking for the cache in the cellar hole while someone else in their party found the cache somewhere else. One person said they found the cache before they actually encountered the cellar hole, which would imply that they had bushwhacked off the trail and that they ran into the obvious cache before hitting the obvious cellar hole.

Maggie searched the actual cellar hole thoroughly and came up empty. It was clearly not there. We searched for a long time and were frustrated. Did the previous cacher do something “clever” with the cache to hide it? If previous geocachers could have stumbled on it without even seeing that cellar hole first, the thing must have been obvious before. But it wasn’t now. I was fixated on the stone wall and crawled the length of it on my knees. Chuck, Patty and Maggie searched another wall to the south, even further from the coordinates. No joy. Then they searched to the northwest as an equestrian passed on the south part of the trail. As the bugs got more aggressive, we decided to cut our losses and go after Teachers Treasures before it got dark.

The Trouble With DNF

We couldn’t imagine how 7 people could miss that cache which so many other people had found. The website allows people to log a “DNF” (did not find) when you go to a location and come away empty-handed. It helps other geocachers and the cache owner immensely to know if other people are attempting the cache and not finding it. First off, if it’s missing you will see a lot of people not finding the cache. Secondly, it will give you an idea of how hard the cache is if every third person who goes out there leaves empty-handed.

Unfortunately, even in something so simple as this, you see people giving in to an either vain or selfish urge that I just don’t understand. They don’t log their DNFs. They’ll got to the cache location, not find the thing, and then not bother to tell anyone.

You might wonder how I know this, considering that there is no evidence if there is no log. Amazingly, there is evidence. I’ll give you two examples I have recently seen. In one case, I have seen more than one cacher log something like the following:

Found it! What a good hide! This was our third attempt at this cache, so it was really great to finally get where it was. Thanks for the cache.

Hey, you found it. That’s splendid. Of course, the first think James does at this point is search the entire log for that cache and check to see when this person visited on the other two occasions. Hmmm. No DNFs logged. On this same cache I saw yet another person say “this was my second attempt” with no previous DNF logged. So, embarrassed to log a DNF, but not afraid to admit it afterwards? Useless.

In another case, I had a heck of a time on one cache, only to find that cache had actually gone missing. Later, after the cache owner confirmed that the cache was gone, (he checked because of my DNF log) someone actually left a log (and I paraphrase here, because I can’t see the site at the moment):

Oh I couldn’t find that one either. I guess it’s because it wasn’t there.

Thanks for nothing, other cacher. I spent all that time looking for a cache that wasn’t there because you were too lazy, inconsiderate, or embarrassed to admit you couldn’t find it. If you’d logged the DNF, I wouldn’t have been so confident that it was there. Thanks for nothing.

So, I have a new hobby and a new pet peeve.

Teacher’s Treasures

Teacher’s Treasures was a cinch. We found the brook we were supposed to cross and the cache was up a small hill. We let the kids go ahead and find it because it was mostly out in the open. We made some small trades and then hit the log walk back ot the cars, kids in tow.

Fun and Games

Back at the Chateau Seggelin, we played Zendo and Wise and Otherwise to round out a full day.

Scott’s Resolved?

The resolution of the Scott’s Reserve mystery is this: Even though the cache had been found just 2 days before, it was indeed missing. It had been under the pile of bricks which we spotted seconds after finding the cellar hole, without the clue and without re-consulting the GPS. If it had been there we would have spent just a few minutes at that cache and maybe a few more exploring the cellar hole for fun.

But we didn’t know that on Saturday night

I knew Scott’s Reserve was eating at Chuck’s mind. I knew he would go back there.

He did, but that’s mostly his story. And it happened on Sunday.

1 Peters Family Orchard & Cider Mill at 537 N.Main St., Acushnet is the only place I know of in the “Southcoast” area for pick-your-own apples. My friend Sara went there last week, but I don’t think she has a blog post about it. She thought it was a decent place, but a little pricey. No competition. See the MassGrown page for PYO apple orchards elsewhere in Massachusetts.

Posted by James at 10:28 AM | Comments (5)

September 28, 2004

Secret Olestra

So, Lays has changed the packaging of their olestra-containing potato chips.

Formerly “WOW!”, the new chips are Lay’s Light.

Even with my previous interest in olestra and Olean1 I didn’t recognize the product. I picked up the bag and took a closer look. I put it back down. It wasn’t until a second look that I realized it must have Olean in it. Sure enough, down near the bottom crimp, there is the olean symbol. The warning about loose stools is gone. Olestra has moved on to the next phase as a more invisible ingredient in the food supply.

I don’t have any specific beef with olestra. I am not an anti-olestra fanatic.2 But I do find it interesting and slightly alarming how ingredients come out of (seemingly) nowhere and creep toward ubiquity. As consumers, we have to pay close attention to ingredients, because (clearly) the food industry is trying to make it harder. If this packaging switch made me look twice, it is probably going to be effective with people looking to lose weight and also looking for a snack.

1 When olestra first hit the market back in the 90’s, I had a website poking fun at Procter & Gamble’s fake fat product which allegedly caused loose bowels and vitamin deficiency. It attracted the interest of P&G who went as far as to offer me a trip to their headquarters to talk to their scientists. I declined. I wasn’t really an anti-olestra activist; I just thought the stuff was funny. Nonetheless, Adbusters awarded me with 6 free issues for my anti-corporate efforts. Go figure.

2 I updated this statement because, although I am not an anti-olestra activist, I guess I do have a beef with the ingredient. I can’t say I’m really thrilled with an additive that loosens your bowels and depletes vitamins. But so far it appears to be well within the boundaries of edibility.

Posted by James at 4:52 PM | Comments (7)

Left Shift

Prospects shift as DiMasi takes over for Finneran (Boston.com)

The effort to bring a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to voters in November 2006 suffered a major setback yesterday with departure of House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran and the elevation of Salvatore F. DiMasi, whose arrival is expected to shift the Massachusetts legislative agenda to the left on social issues such as gay rights, abortion, and stem cell research.

A shift to the left on social issues? Calendar says it’s September, but it feels like Christmas!

Posted by James at 2:55 PM | Comments (5)

Name That Movie 6

Can you, huh? Based on this screen capture?

Second picture:

Will the third picture be enough to convince the remaining holdouts?

Posted by James at 9:41 AM | Comments (20)

September 27, 2004

Rescue Ranger

I might write about the weekend a little later (it was a grab bag of fun, weird, disturbing, failure and redemption). For now, I will announce an addition to the Team Dr. Momentum geocaching family. In a way, there are two additions. Multiple times now, Maggie had accompanied us caching.

However, the other new addition is Chip over there on the right. The Rescue Ranger. This is our geocaching mascot and companion.

Travel bugs (as I previously mentioned) are meant to go from cache to cache. They pass from geocacher to geocacher. But recently I’ve noticed some folks using a travel bug tag in a slightly different way. They don’t actually leave the bug in any cache. They log it on the website as having been put in a cache, and then they log themselves as taking it back.

This is a little weird, but it accomplishes a few things:

  1. The website keeps track of the distances a travel, from cache to cache. That’s the way bugs are tracked. If the travel bug visits all the same caches you do, that’s an additional record of all the caches you’ve visited and the distances you’ve covered from cache to cache. Sort of.
  2. Geocaching.com does not let you put a “watch” on another member (for watching that member’s progress). But you can put a watch on a travel bug. In that case, the person watching will get an email every time we (and the bug) visit a new cache.
  3. Gives the kids something else to get excited about.
  4. Gives me something else to take a picture of at the cache site.

So, just more goofy fun. If you’d like to watch this travel bug, this is the bug’s tracking page.

Onward!

Posted by James at 3:19 PM

September 24, 2004

The Auditions

We had a fun little game at EA Forums this week where we suggested actors/actresses to play different folks in an imaginary EA Sitcom. I got some interesting casting choices. Now the voting begins:

  • Alan Alda
  • Tim Allen
  • Michael Gross
  • Jon Stewart
  • Sam Waterston
  • Sean Bean
  • Harrison Ford
  • Kris Kristofferson
  • Jeff Daniels
  • Chevy Chase
  • James Marsters
  • Robin Williams
  • Gary Oldman
  • Matthew Broderick (this was who I cast for myself)
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Christopher Walken

Not sure what I did to garner such flattering suggestions. I think this is more a refleciton of the kindhearted people I hang out with at EA rather than my personality. But I’ll take it where I can get it.

Posted by James at 11:40 AM | Comments (47)

Campari Shotgun

  • Get Your War On - New Stuff (Political Humor, Coarse)
    • New stuff posted for Get Your War On.
    • “But didn’t anyone tell Dennis Hastert that we defeated al Qaeda when we invaded their country, which is called ‘Iraq?’”
  • Winnebago Man (Movie)
    • This is the stuff that ended up on the cutting room floor during the editing of a Winnebago sales video.
  • Dangerous Voters (Political, Funny/Disturbing)
    • You have to read this transcript from the September 23 show of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. You can continue on to the actual audio if you wish, but you’ll barely believe it either way.
    • “Good morning. I�m going to vote for President Bush because, after all, you know, God made us there, you know, in His image, free from any black color and all”
    • Found via A Cry For Help.
  • Don’t Think Too Much And It Will Be OK (Political, Funny Story)
    • You have to read this story about the kids in Bush country. They held an election in class, but they didn’t give the candidate’s names. Watch the fun ensue. I wonder if the kids were punished when they got home? Thank goodness for hidden ballots.
  • TradeTricks (Funny site, Handy)
    • A place for people to reveal the tricks of their trade. Grew out of this article.
    • “Lounge Pianist: Never agree to Christmas sing-alongs if there is alcohol involved. Your singer will only remember the first two lines of his favorite tunes, or you’ll waste a half-hour on a drawn-out, stumbling, ‘12 Days of Christmas.’ The singer will be forgiven when he sobers up, but you’ll look unprofessional.”
  • Skeleton Marionette (Puppets, Movie)
    • Surprisingly groovy and articulate skeleton marionette.
  • Toby! (Flash Game)
    • Fan the little fella to his goal.
  • Commercial Mega-Mix (Torture, Commercials, Movie)
    • A blast of phrases from ads over the years. BUY. CONSUME.
  • Mad World (Video)
    • The video from my favorite song off the Donnie Darko soundtrack. Innovative use of school children and group dance. A cover of a Tears for Fears song.
  • Mailing Labels vs. Bush (Activism, Political Culture Jamming, Movie)
    • What is that guy doing with that printer?
  • God vs. Bush’s 2000 Election Results (Funny, GIF)
    • Yeah, it’s BS, but it’s still a funny coincidence.
  • Powerpoint Breakup (Funny)
    • Why use the phone, or a Dear Jane letter when you have the web at your disposal.
  • IBC Commercial And a second one (Funny, Movie)
    • Patti sent these along. Ha! That root beer is rough.
Posted by James at 9:50 AM | Comments (12)

September 23, 2004

Light Posting With a Side Of Campari

I’m working through an unusually pressing list of “to do” items, so posting will be either light or just light on the effort until Monday.

As an example of “light on the effort” here is a rather pathetic story about a recent coincidence.

The night before last, I had a dream about Campari. So I was thinking of it yesterday when I was signing the birthday card of a coworker (Laura, immortalized in the Saltine Challenge). I wrote something stupid about Saltines and Campari, which prompted a discussion of Campari with Ryan and Sharon. Sharon suggested it was an acquired taste, and we mulled that over.

On my drive home I was listening to a Robert Parker mystery novel on tape. A Spenser novel. Oddly, a couple of chapters into my ride, one of the characters was sipping Campari and soda. He asks Spenser if he’s tried the stuff. Spenser says “Yep.” He asks if Spenser likes it. “Nope.” He then goes on to describe it as an acquired taste.

Coincidences are weird.

Posted by James at 11:45 AM | Comments (6)

September 22, 2004

Capt. Barney Kale

Last night I created my first travel bug for geocaching. Captain Barney Kale.

What’s a Travel Bug?

A travel bug is a hitchhiker that you leave in a geocache. When someone finds the cache, they take the travel bug and put the thing in another cache at a later time. In this way, the travel bug moves from cache to cach, place to place in a seemingly random dance.

There are a few different ways to create a travel bug. I could create a travel bug, attach some instructions, and just leave him in a cache to wander the world over. If I did so, the travel bug might see some interesting sights, but I’d never hear about it. Another thing I could do would be to attach my email address and ask people to email me when they find the bug, before passing it along. I may try that sometime just to see how well it works. A third approach might be to have my own web page people could visit to log my travel bug’s movements. That way not only I could watch the bug, but others could, too.

Geocaching.com has taken advantage of the benefits of that last option and created “The Travel Bug” dog tags. The dog tags give each travel bug an ID that can be used to log a bug’s movements from cache to cache. The tags cost about $6 each individually (cheaper in quantity, so buy with your friends!). You can see a copy of one of Cappy’s tags in the image above. I’ve blurred out the ID because the whole purpose f the ID is to be semi-secret until someone finds the bug. Otherwise, anyone could log it.

While you can’t log his movements without the ID, you can watch his listing on geocaching.com.

Some travel bug owners like to give the bug a specific goal or mission that helps the finder decide how to move the bug along, or what to do with the bug while he’s got it. Capt. Kale has his own mission. He wants to visit places that have good seafood. He wants people to mention their favorite seafood in the log, or perhaps take a picture of him in a place where the finder likes to enjoy seafood.

He’s made from a refrigerator magnet I got at the Boston Children’s Museum this year. I pried the magnet off and drilled a hole in him to admit a length of 1/8” cable which I formed into a loop using a crimped ferrule and some Gorilla Glue for good measure. The dog tags come with those metal beaded chains, but they don’t look secure enough. I used the cable to prevent accidental separation of the Captain from his ID tag. I got the idea from this thread on Travel Bug Longevity in the Groundspeak Forums (this post).

Also from that thread, I found a nifty template to print out the travel bug’s mission. This assists the finder in finding his way back to the geocaching website and gives him the TBs mission before the TB is even taken from the cache site. For complicated travel bugs, this gives the finder the chance to decide if he wants to take it or not. Example: if you saw a TB that was on its way to Scotland but you were neither going to Scotland nor toward the nearest international airport, you might leave a TB in the cache and let someone else with a better chance of moving it along take it.

For trans-continental travel bugs, people have constructed “travel bug hotels” situated near international airports. If you’re not going to Scotland, you could put a bug in this hotel. Geocachers traveling overseas could check the hotel’s web page to see if there are any bugs in there which have goals at their destination. If so, they would stop in and pick up the bugs, to be deposited n a geocache far away. Nifty, eh?

Soon I’ll be releasing the Captain into the wild. I hope he has a long voyage and gets to enjoy a ton of good seafood, in ports far and wide.

Posted by James at 9:22 AM | Comments (16)

September 21, 2004

Just What A Parent Needs To Read

You want scary? Halloween is coming early.

Man charged with attempted kidnap at library: (New Bedford Standard Times)

The boy was waiting for his mother outside the women’s room on the library’s ground floor when the nearby elevator opened, the boy’s father said yesterday.
Mr. Lafleur and Mr. Veiga were in the elevator staring at the boy, when Mr. Lafleur allegedly suggested they “snatch him,” the father said.
One of the men took a step toward the boy, according to police reports.
“He was like holding open the elevator door, and said ‘snatch him, snatch him,’ and pointed at (my son),” said the 43-year-old father, who was waiting in the family car outside during the incident.

Confirmation for all overprotective parents like myself that we are not actually overprotective. A freaking Mystic River moment.

The librarian “came back and said ‘They’re still here, what do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘I think I want to make a police report, because you never know, one of them could be a child molester or something,’” the father said yesterday.

Turns out he was. Level 3 sex offender. Unreal.

Posted by James at 5:14 PM | Comments (4)

Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals

From the Letterman show. Kerry’s “Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals” are:

10. No estate tax for families with at least two U.S. presidents.
9. W-2 Form is now Dubya-2 Form.
8. Under the simplified tax code, your refund check goes directly to Halliburton.
7. The reduced earned income tax credit is so unfair, it just makes me want to tear out my lustrous, finely groomed hair.
6. Attorney General (John) Ashcroft gets to write off the entire U.S. Constitution.
5. Texas Rangers can take a business loss for trading Sammy Sosa.
4. Eliminate all income taxes; just ask Teresa (Heinz Kerry) to cover the whole damn thing.
3. Cheney can claim Bush as a dependent.
2. Hundred-dollar penalty if you pronounce it “nuclear” instead of “nucular.”
1. George W. Bush gets a deduction for mortgaging our entire future.

Apparently, Kerry delivered this top 10.

Posted by James at 1:55 PM | Comments (2)

Name That Movie 5

First Clue

From what movie did I capture the above image?

[read full entry for next clue.]

For the NON googlers in my readership, here I post the second image, a few seconds after the first. This might help a tiny bit. After lunch (around 12:30 EDT) I’ll post the third.

Second Clue

This ought to give it away:

FinalClue

Posted by James at 9:14 AM | Comments (13)

September 20, 2004

Suburban Gun Idiots

Are you a resident of New Bedford and worried about gun violence in your city? Where do those gangs get their fancy guns? If you answered “some shadowy out-of-state network,” you lose.

Only three hours after the Mattapoisett break-in, informants led city detectives to stop 32-year-old Timothy Gregory in his car in the South Central section of New Bedford.
State police recovered five handguns — four of which have been identified as among the 13 taken earlier in the day from Mattapoisett — and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
The others, presumably, were already sold or squirreled away.

Let’s walk it through. Some suburbanite who gets hot by playing with guns buys a bunch of revolvers and semi-automatic weapons. <sarc>Clearly the man relies on them for hunting purposes to feed his family.</sarc> Then a bad person comes and burgles his home, not only depriving him of a means of feeding his family the blown-apart carcasses of squirrels, bunnies and skunks but also giving said bad person the ability to generate some good old American gun mayhem.

But James, you say, Suburban Gun Idiots have the right to purchase guns!

Let me put it to you this way. I support a heck of a lot of rights. I support your legal right to do a lot of lame-assed idiot things, like own a bunch of lethal weapons you don’t need. Sometimes exercising your rights (cavalierly or to excess) not only makes the world a more dangerous place, but makes you a micro-cephalic ass clown.

If that sounds harsh, just think how harsh it might be to look down the barrel of a gun stolen from some Mattapoisettian home while you’re being victimized on the streets of New Bedford.

I refuse to tone down my language when it comes to this type of idiocy. Rights come with responsibilities. Often, there are natural consequences. But in the case of stolen weapons like these, someone else is paying for the fetish of the Suburban Gun Idiot. Will SGI be held at all responsible for his poorly protected arsenal, now in the hands of criminals?

Posted by James at 10:49 PM | Comments (4)

Food Nooz

McDonalds Loses Legal Fight Against MacNoodles

It warms my heart to see a big corporation lose a legal battle like this. Not because I don’t like corporations, but because I don’t like stupid lawsuits like this where there really doesn’t seem to be much infringement. Corporations rely on their symbols and trademarks, and they deserve to have them protected. But when they’re elevated to idol status any similarity to their trademark is blasphemy.

In other Food Nooz, have you read any Pringles lately?

Pringles Prints merges food with infotainment, further blurring the lines that define our world. Each chip has some little nugget of information printed on them. In one case “Trivial Pursuit” questions and answers are written in food coloring on the chip surface.

They’re taking suggestions. How about printing info about the same caliber as the food. Weekly World News stories. Ryan suggested the much more simple message “These will kill you.”

Posted by James at 1:25 PM | Comments (1)

From Showtunes to Swaggart: A Gay Tale

Multiple sources are making this the Monday-morning must-read. Religion, proselytization, nonviolent resistance and odd people skills are thrown in the mix for this story.

Ladies Village Improvement Society - Crazy Train or Emotional Subway Attack

The short version is, woman experiences evangelical preachings on a subway (but, more disturbingly, anti-gay hatred) and reacts by singing showtunes. This is actually a more refined and advanced version of “Lalalalalalala, I can’t hear you!” When reason has failed and you refuse to turn to violence, I suppose you use whatever tools you have left.

Also on the startling anti-gay hatred subject, Oliver Willis has the low-down (really low down) on Bush booster and base solidifyer Jimmy Swaggart in his recent statement on Gays.

“I’ve never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I’m gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I’m gonna kill him and tell God he died.” - Jimmy Swaggart

Jimmy. The target of so much homosexual longing. Realistic? Paranoid? Sophomoric? Dangerous? You make the call.

(P.S. You really should go to Oliver’s site to see the video and enjoy Swaggart in all his twitchy, limpy, sweaty, mouth-breathing glory.)

Posted by James at 10:04 AM | Comments (14)

September 19, 2004

Autum Begins with a Splash

It doesn’t get better than this. This weekend felt a lot like an official start of the fall season. With a bunch of friends coming over to celebrate nothing in particular, the weekend kicked itself off in fine fashion. And on Sunday I got a bit of a surprise in Westport that may be of significance to alcohol-consuming residents of southeastern Massachusetts. And I enjoyed the lack of blue laws.

Saturday was a planned geocaching day. I was going to lead a team of my friends to BCC to conquer a cache we previously missed because of incorrect coordinates. But the weather (courtesy of ex-hurricane Ivan) had other plans. The deluge made geocaching a lot less appealing. In fact, even if we’d wanted to brave the sheets of rain, I was pretty sure that the local trails would had turned to mud.

So instead of hitting the trail, we hit the couches. When the earlier guests arrived (Bob, Patti, Chuck, Patty, ‘Neya) we just enjoyed the company, the shelter of the great room, and cidery beverages. It wasn’t long before Julie showed up and then Mike as well. It was time to start cooking, as Mike pushed a Pumpkinhead Ale into my hand, followed soon by another. Was it just a coincidence that Mike brought one of my favorite bottled beverages? He claims it was.

Dinner was chicken I threw together on the fly. Split chicken breasts that I further bisected with a cleaver before pan-searing in scant olive oil, fresh sage and rosemary. They finished in the oven for an easy chicken that will definitely make an appearance in this house sometime soon.

I was lucky because friends brought all sorts of side-dishes which allowed me to focus on the chicken. It was a relatively stress-free cooking experience because of that.

Some cider that Bob and Patti brought complemented the meal well. After dinner was a blur of joking around and playing Wise and Otherwise.

It felt like a real autumnal celebration.

Sunday was more laid back. It was dry enough for me to take the girls to pick up that geocache at BCC. There’s also a “webcam cache” near that location. You can see the picture of us standing in front of the camera here. Maggie captured it of the website when I called her on the cell phone. “Do you see us?” Well, there was a little more wandering around involved with that operation, but as you see we found the location. Click here to see the live feed right now.

When we returned home it was leftovers for dinner and sitting in front of the first fireplace fire of the year.

But I’ve left out what happened in Westport. We’d visited Maggie’s parents to get some lillies my father-in-law dug up for us. I hadn’t had breakfast so I grabbed some sushi from Westport’s excellent Lee’s Market. Once again they prove to be an establishment of good taste. As I passed by the beer refrigerators I spied the elusive Strongbow Cider!! Of course, to encourage them to keep carrying the product, I will have to return frequently and purchase it.

And the joy is not lost on me that in years past I would not have been able to buy hard cider on a Sunday. I would ahve only been able to stare at it through the glass. Take that, obsolete blue laws!

Just to repeat that: My favorite cider, Strongbow, is available at Lee’s Market. It was a very good weekend.

Posted by James at 9:19 PM | Comments (5)

September 17, 2004

Unbanned Shotgun

Here you go.

  • Geocaching T-Shirt (Geocaching humor)
    • No, this isn’t exactly the kind of T-Shirt Chuck was talking about. It’s evidence that some geocache hubbies don’t get along with their wives. This fellow should really offer an alternate gender version as well. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
  • Kryptonite vs. Bic (Oops!)
    • Apparently, expensive Kryptonite locks can be foiled by a small pen. More here. Found via Going Nowhere.
  • HoldThemAccountable2004 (Political)
    • With over 1,000 American lives lost, the Bush Administration acts as if peace is just around the corner, but it is the lack of a real plan to stabilize Iraq that keeps costing American lives. The 30-second TV ad titled “Terrible Mistakes” highlights the terrible cost paid because of the Bush Administration’s failure to develop a real plan to stabilize Iraq.
  • PurpleSlurple (Webtools)
    • A great site that indexes any web page and provides sub-page references. For example, you can link to a particular paragraph in an article. If it’s important or useful to link directly to a part of a long document, this service is for you.
    • Here’s one use. Highlighting particularly fun Bush quotes in the official record.
    • Did I get this from Mike or from somewhere else? I can’t remember.
  • Hawk/Dove Quiz (Geopolitical)
    • These were things we knew (known knowns) before the Iraq war. But we forgot them before we remembered them. Go down the list, and think about 100+ lives lost, and thousands of other “collateral” lives. I think I saw this on Steve’s site, Absit Invidia.
  • Bush in Love (Fiction, Humor)
    • Long but funny account of Bush’s unrequited Kerry love in the New Yorker. This cannot end well, can it?
  • Shakespeare Insults (Insulting)
    • A perennial fave. Get your insults here. And I just can’t get enough. And I just can’t get enough.
  • Twinkie vs. Water (Science)
  • Jaws in 30 Seconds (Flash)
    • Re-enacted with bunnies, of course.
  • Bomber Crash Site (Location, location, location)
  • Official God FAQ (Philosophy/Religion)
    • All you ever wanted to know about God. A must read. Click it now. Your opinion may vary.
  • DNA Graffiti (Weird but cool)
    • “The artist spray-painted part of a chemical component of DNA on the road outside a lab where the double helix was unveiled 50 years ago.”
  • Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Trailer)
    • Hey, I liked the first movie. Sequel is on the way for this anime classic.
Posted by James at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

September 16, 2004

Plumbing

Woke up this morning and fixed our sink. Our drain was broken many months ago, and Maggie had just about had enough of it remaining broken, so I finally fixed it.

Thank you, local hardware store guy. Our local hardware store is packed full of stuff, and the guy who works there always steers you right when you need plumbing supplies. In contrast, Home Depot (while they have more stuff) can’t seem to help you do squat.

It’s not that the people at Home Depot aren’t decent folks. And it’s not that I’ve ever really been mistreated there. But finding someone who can help you with whatever your problem is can be an exercise in frustration. Local hardware store guy needs only to have you say 3 or four words and perhaps wave a broken piece of hardware in front of him. Next thing you know he’s handing you a replacement part and telling you what you need to do to fix it. And his prices have always been reasonable. So, take that Home Depot. In a pinch, no one can replace local hardware store guy.

I fixed the sink. And it made me happy. Plumbing is awesome. I love having clear goals, something that is so often missing in my programming full-time job.

Posted by James at 12:21 PM | Comments (28)

September 15, 2004

Weather of Mass Destruction?

Yahoo! News - Hurricane Ivan Roars Toward Gulf Coast

Millions of people have been warned to get out of there. There is a possibility of serious destruction. Let’s all keep our fingers crossed for the Big Easy.

“I ain’t going nowhere cause I ain’t scared,” Charles “Smitty” Smith, 60, said as he sipped a morning beer at the Double Play bar in the French Quarter. “I don’t care where you are. If you’re in the eye of a hurricane, it doesn’t matter. I believe in the Lord. … If the Lord wants to take me, take me.”

God helps those who help themselves, “Smitty.” And that doesn’t mean “to another beer.” “In the morning.”

Question: what country do you invade if a storm destroys one of your cities? If Bush wins a second term, maybe we’ll find out that Iran is behind the current bad weather in the gulf.

Posted by James at 12:21 PM | Comments (5)

Autumn Lament or Ode?

Not at Aces Full of Links there ain’t.

For Chuck, the first wearing of the sweater heralds a season that metaphorically represents the decline toward death. I respectfully point out that while this is a traditional way to view the seasons in some parts of the world, I consider it a facile exercise in metaphor.

It helps that autumn is my favorite season, but I view the passing of the dog days in a more favorable light. Let me count the ways.

  1. Not as much sweating during hikes. Easier to adjust clothing for comfort with multi-layering.
  2. Mosquitoes and ticks days are numbered, taking EEE, West Nile Virus and Lyme disease with them.
  3. Halloween is on the way. Creepy movies tend to hit the theaters.
  4. Harvest time for a number of excellent vegetables. That often means people with gardens willing to give you cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, sweet corn… Yesterday Ryan and Sara presented me with two big bags of vegetables. (Thanks, guys!)
  5. Apples. Don’t make me explain it.
  6. New England Fall Foliage. World renowned.
  7. Fewer leaves on the trees means a stronger GPS signal in the woods.
  8. Cooler in the house means firing up the oven is a good thing, instead of a struggle against air conditioning.
  9. Curling up with a book or a game in front of the fireplace (especially appreciated at our house where a poorly-planned heating system can leave some rooms very cold.)
  10. Who doesn’t like Thanksgiving?
  11. Turning the AC off means opening the windows again and letting the fresh air in without letting the humid air in.
  12. Speaking of humid air, the drop in humidity improves your quality of life in a number of ways. Mold is less of a problem. Your books feel less mushy, and the pages don’t curl up.
  13. For people who like it, football. That ain’t me, but whatever.
  14. Driving to the Cape is suddenly much easier.
  15. The grass in the yard stops growing. That means I stop mowing.
  16. Clearer night sky, very often.

There are more. Anyone want to post any of their own reasons that waving goodbye to summer is not such a bad thing?

Posted by James at 12:08 PM | Comments (11)

September 14, 2004

Name That Movie 4

mg4_16.jpg

From what movie did I capture this image?

Posted by James at 2:15 AM | Comments (5)

September 13, 2004

Gnome Workers

Mike linked to a story on New Orleans and the constant threat of flood in that famous American city. It’s a good story with an interactive graphic that tells of how the city is actually below sea level. I remember seeing this on some PBS kids show many years ago — they have pumps that keep rainwater from filling up the basin that is the main part of the city.

Anyhow, it was this photo that made me blog the post. Maybe I’m punchy, but the perspective in this picture makes the guy on the right look like a tiny gnome. Headline: Gnomes Shore Up New Orleans Infrastructure.

Okay, maybe it’s just me. It’s Monday.

Posted by James at 11:28 AM

Fun, Food, Folks

Spectacle Island CacheAnother full weekend gone by. Well, full of geocaching, anyway.

As usual, it was food, folks and fun, but not in that order.

Fun

We’re thoroughly enjoying the summer’s end/autumn’s start weather. It’s been clear, cooler and very dry. In my opinion that’s perfect weather for nearly every outdoor activity.

We hit 4 caches this weekend, but failed to find a 5th.

Caches Found:

  • Tattapanum Trail [GCGHKZ]
  • Tree and a Half (in the Copicut woods) [GCK4WQ]
  • Spectacle Island [GCJT87]
  • Founder’s Brook [GCJWHH]

It makes 13 total caches thus far for me.

The first two, conquered on Saturday, were incredible trails hidden in the Fall River area. If you were just a Southeastern Massachusetts hiker or walker, thee trails would be a must visit. I may have said it before (repeatedly) but geocaching has proven to be a way to learn more about our area, forcing us to visit locations that are varied in their beauty. The folks leaving these caches often find a spot they want other similarly-inclined people to notice.

Tattapanum’s overlook of the Watuppa was startling. The Copicut woods with their solemn cathedral-like trail followed by a tiny, inner woods were magical.

However, the picture in the upper right is of Spectacle island, which we reached on Sunday with the help of my father’s boat. It was a quick find once we reached the island. Click the picture for an overview of “The Cove” that exists behind Island Park in Portsmouth. The Cove is about a mile across and full of boats that were out for the day to just sit around and enjoy the water. Some had BBQ grills going on deck, and you could practically smell summer beginning to fade away.

I dragged out an old wetsuit given to me by a friend of Manny’s. It didn’t fit me well back then and it doesn’t fit me now, but I squeezed the bottoms on to protect me from cold Atlantic water and prickers on the island. Hey, if you’ve got an old wetsuit, what else are you going to use it for?

Food

For the food-obsessed portion of the weekend, Julie provided us with fresh pasta from her machine. It might sound stupid, but I just didn’t realize that flour, oil and water mixed together and extruded would taste so much like pasta. In fact, it tastes exactly like pasta. Because it is pasta.

The machine, under Julie’s supervision, dutifully pumped out 2 batches of pasta, upon which we heaped my sauce which had been simmering in the crock pot all day. I wasn’t very happy with the sauce, but I can’t complain much. It near zero work to cut up veggies and toss them into a crock pot for sauce. Dinner is cooking while you’re out geocaching. For that reason, we’ll be using the slow cooker a lot more often this year.

It’s like having a chef working in the kitchen for you while you’re out having fun.

We also reheated my leftover bread, which froze extremely well.

Bread-Storing Tip:

If you bake your own crusty bread, bake twice as much as you need. Store the extra bread in a ziplock bag in the freezer as soon as it cools off. When you want to eat the bread, pop it in the oven and turn it up to 400 degrees F. When the oven heats to 400, take the bread out. It will be warm and crusty again, not quite like fresh, but almost as good.

The kids, of course, got a kick out of the pasta machine. Extruding is great fun.

Julie: you forgot to take your Mountain Dew Pitch Black. I nearly always forget to give Julie something that she’s taking home because I’m usually half asleep by that time. We suffered through Manos: Hands of Fate. Thank goodness for bots.

Folks

We failed to find one cache, and when I logged the DNF (did not find) I got an email from some folks who told me the coordinates were off. They’d found the cache a week or so ago and wanted to let me know where they found it. The geocachers in the area are friendly, and I’m just starting to see there’s an informal community.

SOme other folks are even planning to hold semi-regular seminars to teach people how to safely reach cliff side geocaches which require rope and harness skills. Lucky for me, these folks are operating close to where I live. It won’t be long before I pay them a visit.

Updated: One other funny “folks” thing that happened this weekend was that we ran into some other geocachers in the Copicut woods. We were on our way out and they were on their way in. However, we didn’t know each other so we didn’t talk until he and his wife saw my log on geocaching.com, at which time he fired me off an email.

There ought to be some sort of secret greeting between cachers in the field.

Posted by James at 10:04 AM | Comments (8)

September 12, 2004

Between a Woman and Her Doctor

“A Story About Abortion You Will Never Forget”

Repurcussions.

Legally, a doctor can still surgically take a dead body out of a pregnant woman. But in reality, the years of angry debate that led to the law�s passage, restrictive state laws and the violence targeting physicians have reduced the number of hospitals and doctors willing to do dilations and evacuactions (D&Es) and dialations and extractions (intact D&Es), which involve removing a larger fetus, sometimes in pieces, from the womb.

Posted by James at 11:58 PM | Comments (1)

You're Nuts

…if you think you know how this election is going to fall.

Electoral Vote Predictor

It’s based on state polls. Today it has Kerry with a significant lead. Last week it had Bush with a significant lead. Who knows what it will say when you get around to clicking that link? I certainly don’t.

Posted by James at 12:13 AM | Comments (7)

September 10, 2004

Shotgun For Industry

J is for James

  • Onion Bush —> Reality (Onion-rerun)
    • In 2001, the Onion wrote a wise-ass premonitory story about Bush. In 2004, someone now links aspects of this story to news stories showing what has come true.
  • Strong Bad Look-Alike (Trinket)
    • This little toy in Archie McPhee left Patti feeling Strong Bad-esque. Looks like we’re gonna have to jump!
  • Bow Man (Game)
    • I can’t remember if I’d posted this before, so here goes again. Fun with arrows. Repeatedly try to pelt your opponent. Both monotonous and gory. And, if you try hard, you can shoot yourself.
  • Forcefield (Online store)
    • Also known as “Wonder Magnets .com” —- this site is a place to buy Neodimium magnets. I love magnets. Magnets are awesome.
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday (Song Cover)
    • This is GWB singing U2’s popular song. Yes, someone actually pasted it together from audio sources. It’s really Bush saying the lyrics to music.
  • Gashlycrumb Tinies (Essential Edward Gorey)
    • It’s a classic
  • What Gorey Death Will You Die? (Quiz)
    • Places you somewhere in the Gashlycrumb Tinies. I don’t need to take the quiz. I know I’m going to die from drinking lye.
  • How To Carry Your iMac G5 (Instructions)
    • Apple has instructions on its website for carrying the iMac G5. I’ve read them, and the instructions are cross-platform!
  • Classic 80’s Games (Flash Games)
    • Play classic 80’s games in flash! Pacman, Simon, Asteroids, Tetris, Donkey Kong, Duck Hunt, Space Invaders, Frogger, Star Castle, Moon Patrol, Pong … You know you want to.
Posted by James at 9:46 AM | Comments (11)

September 9, 2004

WMDs Found!

Yes, Virginia. There are WMDs in Iraq.

WMDs == Woeful Military Deaths

Me, I’m just a disloyal American liberal who is a traitor for pointing any of this out. Obviously I don’t support the troops because I disagree with what Bush has done with them. Right? Question the policies of this administration and you’re not really supporting the troops, are you? No. Supporting the troops means sending them into a preemptive war on faulty intelligence and miscalculation to search for WMDs that the UN weapons inspectors couldn’t find (coincidentally because they weren’t there). Supporting the troops is giving Ahmed Chalabi and friends money to run a disinformation campaign overseas, and then falling for your own hype, realizing only too late that Chalabi is only interested in Chalabi and is willing to work with anyone, including Iran.

That’s supporting the troops.

Here’s a message for anyone who wants to tell me that supporting the troops has anything to do with supporting Bush’s catastrophic (in his own words) policies. The military has a duty to follow the orders given them by their commanders (something Bush should have learned earlier in life). It works the opposite way for the American people who (traditionally) put the president in office. Only by speaking our minds to the fullest extent and questioning the president when he is misusing his power can we support the troops. Anything less than that is neither true to our morals, nor is is honorable behavior toward our military.

Zell Miller (Democrat in name only) and many Republicans would have you think that the military can simply do no wrong. “No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn’t believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.” It’s “turn off your brain” talk. Recognizing that the military has the power and potential to do awesome things should be the first consideration when digesting the power and responsibility that the president holds in office. With awesome power comes the ability to misuse that power. Ignoring the possibility that there is a dark side to power is infantile, irresponsible, naive and idiotic.

If we recognize that there is a possibility that the military could be used poorly, it becomes obvious that before you hold office you must show that you can take that possibility and that responsibly seriously. The above vitriol is meant to raise an emotional response, but makes no sense. A man shouldn’t just “believe in his heart” that the military can do no wrong. He should strive to make it so that our government does not misuse its power.

If you want to yell “Rah, rah, rah!” at a rally led by someone like Zell Miller and his ilk, please go to a football game where lives aren’t at stake. Go somewhere where you can say “loyalty to the team is all” and disregard the consequences, because the consequences are confined to the sport season.

Me, I’m going to let my morals guide me. And those morals come from my heart and mind, not brainless platitudes.

  • 1,000 sacrifices - As the death toll mounts, the path out of Iraq grows longer. (Concord Monitor)
    • “A tragic milestone was reached Wednesday. The American death toll in Iraq topped 1,000. But America is less, not more secure as a result of the occupation of Iraq.
    • “Saying that does nothing to diminish the honor due the fallen. They served their nation when called and gave their lives for their country. […]
    • “The president speaks only of his steadfast leadership and intent to “stay the course.” But that course includes no coherent plan to join with other nations to bring about a world that produces fewer terrorists. There is only the rote and wrong insistence that invading Iraq was a crucial to the war on terror. It wasn’t on Sept. 11, but it is now.”

Bush’s screwup does not qualify him to fix things. It disqualifies him. Someone else won’t be cornered by past mistakes, or having to repeat ‘stay the course.’ Someone else doesn’t have to prune the tree of options based on personality, embarrassment, or stubbornness. Someone else can use intelligence rather than attitude to decide the best course. Kerry wants to be that person. Kerry can be that person. If only the American people can put aside platitudes and let him.

Posted by James at 4:42 PM | Comments (6)

Running on Trash Day

Today I decided to run my 2 miles outside with Maggie instead of on the treadmill. We were almost back home (Maggie to continue on for another 3) before Maggie reminded me “Trash day is not my favorite day to run.” This after dodging over-full trash bags and running in the wake of malodorous BFI trucks.

Despite it, not a bad run.

Posted by James at 10:08 AM | Comments (13)

Bush, Not Big On Loyalty

Records Say Bush Balked at Order

President Bush [Ed note: Miserable Failure] failed to carry out a direct order from his superior in the Texas Air National Guard in May 1972 to undertake a medical examination that was necessary for him to remain a qualified pilot, according to documents made public yesterday.

Can you think of anything more disloyal than refusing a direct order in the military? Let’s think about this. You’re ordered to take a goddamn physical and you can’t show up, but ordering 1000+ loyal Americans to their deaths is doable. There is no spin here. There is no need to fund a round-up of partisan veterans to repeat this over and over again. It’s in the records. That this doesn’t rankle military supporters of Bush to the point of distraction frankly baffles me.

I just want to get this straight. If I joined the armed forces and refused to follow a direct order, then lost the privilege to fly, I still have an out. I can still get some military folk to kiss my shiny white bottom if my Dad can help me hide the records long enough. By the time the records come out, no one will care… as long as I’m a Republican. Be proud, Bush supporters, of your order-shirking commander in chief.

Do I really care what happened over 30 years ago? Truth be told, it’s not high on my priority list. But here’s the kicker. We used to have arguments, months ago, about whether Bush has lied during his presidency. Bush supporters were all over it. “He hasn’t lied!” they would insist. And we’d look at the statements and marvel at the wording which, at the time it was said could only be taken one way. We looked at the wording and it was only taken one way when it was said. Then, some time would pass and you’d realize that for it to remain truthful you now had to take it a different way. Bush supporters were willing to do that. It’s not a flip-flop, it’s adjusting the past to meet the expectations of the present.

Today these discussions do not take place. Some of the people who argued most vehemently that Bush did not lie have even retreated of my favorite discussion board. Because there is no question now that Bush is not truthful. He has misrepresented his record as recently as January of this year. He claims he fulfilled his duty. He did not. He was suspended from flying. He refused a direct order. How can refusing a direct order possibly square with the White House claim that Bush “fulfilled his duties.”

The lies have continued into the present. Not just lies, but a pattern of lying, of twisting the past to meet the political needs of the present. A pattern of distraction.

And then, perhaps most disturbingly, a pattern of fear-mongering as a means to gain political advantage. This is the only honest way I can describe what the vice president has engaged in of late.

I can’t draw the line any more clear. Know an administration by its actions and by its words. All indications are that this administration views the American people as its dupes. I. for one, had had enough long ago. Now I’m just angry.

Posted by James at 9:15 AM | Comments (5)

September 8, 2004

Losing

Message to Kerry supporters: The quickest way to lose is to think you’re going to lose. No one today knows how the election will go, and they’re talking out of their ass if they tell you otherwise.

Bush is not immune from his screw-ups in Iraq. The economy is crappy and people are worried. Investor confidence is slipping.

Kerry has a great chance to capitalize on Bush’s missteps and come through the Republican slime machine. (Maybe he needs advice from Steve.)

Many things can and will happen in the next few weeks.

So, hand-wringers: pull yourselves together. If you were thinking of doing something to support the Kerry campaign and have hesitated because of recent poll number drops, then you’ve helped to make Bush’s mudslinging dreams come true.

Don’t lament; act. Dispel the gloom. Do whatever you need to do to de-stress and then come out swinging. If Kerry loses we’ll have plenty of time to lament later.

Posted by James at 1:24 PM | Comments (5)

Bread

The approaching autumn has definitely triggered something. I came home on Tuesday evening and immediately had the overwhelming urge to bake. It’s been a long while since I’ve made bread. It’s not hard, but it does take some time.

As soon as the weather gets cool, I have the urge to fire up the oven. And there really is nothing like having fresh baked bread in the house. And there’s nothing like making bread completely by hand rather than buying a loaf at the market or dumping the ingredients into a machine.

In kneading, you can really feel the dough changing. And you quckly learn (with your sense of touch) what dough feels like when it is ready. You’ll never convince me to spend money on a bread machine that will do all that for me. A machine can’t have fun for you.

And I love trying goofy things like having a pan of water in the oven and then plunging a hot cast iron frypan into it to generate steam which will harden the crust of the loaves in the first 5-8 minutes of baking.

Since I am watching calories, I can’t eat much of what I bake. That’s where family and friends come in. So, some of this will be going to work tomorrow.

And apple season is right around the corner, which means apple picking with the Seggelins and the inevitable apple pie.

Autumn is good. But right now the rain is coming down hard, and I need sleep.

Posted by James at 1:46 AM | Comments (11)

September 7, 2004

Strongbow Cider

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a can of Strongbow cider recently. Mike, Maggie and I all declared it a tasty potable.

I’ve been drinking Woodchuck, which I like, but I’d wanted to try Strongbow ever since Patti told me it’s a favorite of Bob’s. When Sharon here at work mentioned the brand, I was past intrigued and into the thirsty phase. Sharon also offered me a can of the stuff, confirming her extremely generous spirit. Sharon is some sort of angel of hard cider. This temporarily solved my problem of where to get the stuff, since the local places have never heard of it. (I learned that when I went looking for it to share with Bob and others the night before a gaming get-together).

Strongbgow was a little dry and more tart than Woodchuck, which was perfect for my tastes. I don’t like my cider overly dry, and up until now I hadn’t had one with satisfactory tartness.

The only place I’ve heard mention of the stuff being sold is in Medford (Kappy’s liquors?) If anyone has heard tell of Strongbow on the shelves south of Boston and east of Newport, I’d really like to hear about it. And I’d rather not have to cross an ocean, either.

Posted by James at 6:00 PM | Comments (5)

The Love Doctors

“Too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their love with women all across this country.”George W. Bush

(sent along by Mike)

Posted by James at 10:08 AM | Comments (2)

Name That Movie 3

Feels like a Monday, but it’s Tuesday. So come on and name that movie. Test your visual movie mastery. Here’s your screenshot:

mg_1_1.jpg

Guesses are in the comments. Be the first to get it right! Or, guess without looking at the other comments and just test yourself.

I’ll let people guess for a while. If no one guesses the movie, I’ll add another picture later. If someone has guessed it, I’ll ring the official virtual movie-guess bell.

Posted by James at 12:52 AM | Comments (11)

September 6, 2004

Busy Weekend

I’ll probably be swinging by work today to catch up on some stuff, but it’s been a pretty full weekend even if I spend some of Labor Day at the office. And I have at least one cache planned for later today, as well as the possibility of seeing a movie tonight, so fear not for my slacking.

Read on for Chinatown, a sequel to Asian spooker “The Eye,” the scoop on a really lousy Japanese film, a geocaching power-day, an offhand reference to Chuck, me falling on my ass, and the agony and irony of “Yu-Gi-Oh!”.

Friday

Friday was Boston and the Children’s Museum. We got there after lunch, but with plenty of time for the kids to enjoy the exhibits. The construction going on in Boston seems to have made it easier to get to popular locations like the museums. At least, in my recent experiences I find that the directions are simplified. You get off the highway and there you are.

The Boston Children’s Museum was having a sale on some of their gift shop fare. I got a fisherman figurine that will make a fine travel bug someday soon.

We’ve been to this museum a number of times and the kids love it. There is usually little for the adults to do, but this time we did get to see the japanese house. They have a house that they actually shipped from Japan and re-assembled inside the museum over the course of 6 months. There was a museum employee there who was able to give us a lot of details about the house, and answer our questions. Well done, Children’s Museum.

After the kids had had their fill (OK, we parents had had our fill) we avoided the 5PM influx of people and headed for nearby Chinatown. It’s on Kit’s life-list of places to visit, so we decided to dart in, look at a couple of shops and walk around a bit before dinner.

One shop had a number of DVDs and other media. While the girls looked at some pretty little turtles in a small terrarium, I picked up a copy of the sequel to the spooky movie Jian gui. Known in this country as “The Eye,” it’s a film I mentioned previously in comparison to Gothika. I’m reading variously that this movie doesn’t have much to do with the first one or is too similar to the first one. Conflicting reports. I’ll weigh in later once I’ve had a chance to watch it.

We stopped in at an Asian market to pick up some favorite snacks. Pocky, of course, for the girls and crab-flavored-chips for me. Maggie encountered “Brown Candy” which we, perhaps, should have bought just to find out what it was. (I looked at the ingredients. It was practically solid blocks of cooled sugar syrup.)

We GPSr’ed homeward stopping at Bertucci’s in Randolph on the way.

Saturday

Saturday was deemed a geocaching day. After another slow morning, I whisked the kids off in search of hidden caches in Swansea, Fall River, Dartmouth and Dartmouth again.

The “Boulder Trail” cache in Swansea is near a place I often biked as a teen, so it was interesting to go back there with the girls. There’s some decent climbing there, and huge boulders that are an immediate draw for kids that like to perch atop things. This is the area behind Case Jr. High. My mother actually went to school there when it was Case High School, if I remember correctly. There is a pond and a small waterfall. The girls liked it so much that they want to go back there when we’re not geocaching. We certainly will.

This was merely a prelude to the biggest cache of the day. After picking up an easy one near the North Watuppa, we headed for Fall River’s Oak Grove Cemetery for a task that Chuck would have loved. The UMD 2 cache requires you to solve a small puzzle before finding the cache, because the coordinates are expressed as digits found on headstones in this cemetery. The final question of the puzzle takes you to the grave of the most famous Fall River resident, popularly known as “Lizzie” Borden. I can’t believe I’ve never been to this site in all my years living in the area, but this is one of the fun things about geocaching. It gives you such excuses.

We wandered the cemetery for over an hour getting the necessary information. At about 3:40pm I yelled, “We’ve got it!” and the kids yelled “Feed us, you negligent parent!” so we grabbed some negligent fast food and headed toward the coordinates, which led us (not surprisingly) to Dartmouth. My penance for buying McDonalds food was to ruin my T-shirt with a nasty ketchup/mustard stain. [Useless JPB Trivia: Oak Grove Cemetery is close to the McDonalds where I met and worked with BriWei. Through Brian, I met Bob (B.O.B. Bob) and through Bob, I met Patti, his wife. So this McDonalds is obviously some kind of nexus. Enough said about that.]

When we finally made it to Dartmouth, we were way behind schedule and already tired. This was not a good way to start the hardest cache search we’ve ever tried. We trekked into the forest toward the mystery location where there was no trail. I wished I’d brought my machete (is it illegal to carry one of those?) a couple of times. Of course, for the sake of leaving only footprints (and caches), a geocacher does not clear brush.

It took us 20 minutes to find the cache, but seemed much longer. Along the way there were interesting sights. What the heck was that animal? A badger, to go with the many mushrooms one encounters in the UMD area? Probably not. But perhaps it was a raccoon, or some canine. I’m no forensic veterinarian.

Beat, we stumbled back to the car. But on the way home the girls urged me to knock off one more cache that I had already told them about. That took all of 6 minutes. Such is the variability built into geocaching. One cache makes you drive all over the place, take notes, and suffer sharp barbs. The next one is a (literal) walk in the park.

Saturday Night

Saturday night was fun, but only because of the company. That’s no small thing, but I admit to torpedoing the fun by suggesting a bad movie to lampoon—a mistake I will not repeat.

Mike came over and hung out for a while before Julie joined us. After some local Chinese food, we popped in a movie fresh from Japan. The film in question is called Cure. Lured by reviews such as this one, I thought we’d be watching a decent thriller with some lampoonable Japanese overacting. None of us appreciated this slow-moving, frustrating, mind-number of a movie. This is one of the few films that I have ever seen which made me murderously angry at characters just because they were so annoyingly boring. We were MSTing this film in an attempt to stay awake when we could have been playing a game. Lessons learned.

The end of the film is briefly satisfying as a character dies violently. I only wished it had happened sooner. I take it as a statement of loyalty that neither Julie nor Mike gnawed his or her leg off to escape. Thank goodness for Stoli Raspri. Seriously.

Sunday

Mike had crashed at the house, so we sent him capeward with a bellyful of pancakes.

This day was slated for a big family gathering in Portsmouth. We attended, and I snuck off to locate a nearby microcache. This is a very small geocache hidden in something like a 35mm film canister, or (in this case) a fake rock. Fake rocks blend in with real rocks.

As I walked down the beach in sandals, I ended up in the ankle-deep water a number of times. Not a problem. However, stepping on an algae-covered ramp proved to be a huge mistake. One moment I was sighting ahead, and the next moment I was looking at the clouds as I landed hard on my tail. The Meridian Gold GPSr proved to be water resistant—it got thoroughly splashed. Aching, I reached the cache site and crawled all over it with no luck. (At this point I didn’t know I was looking for a fake rock). I limped back to the party.

On the way home, we stopped there once more and took a second look. Still no dice. But I will be back there today and am confident that the third time is the charm.

[ UPDATE : The cache owner returned to the site to check on the cache and has declared the cache missing. Missing caches are called “archived” and may be revived some time in the future. But for now, this one is gone. So I feel a little less silly not finding it. Such is the danger of caches where geomuggles wander.]

Sunday Night

Sunday night I tried to figure out how to play the collectable card game “Yu-Gi-Oh!” with the daughters.

If the show is anything like the instructions for this game, lord help us. There are vague parts that one could drive a truck through. There are seeming contradictions in the rules. The frustration evoked images of Saturday night’s movie.

Eventually we will figure it out, but I fear the only way to do so is to watch kids in action playing this game. Here’s the irony. Both Chuck and Brian got heavily into the Magic: The Gathering collectable card game. Chuck no longer plays (I don’t think Brian really does either) but they couldn’t get me into it. I just wasn’t interested.

I’m still not interested, but if I want to play with my kids, I’m going to have to learn this inane game. Perhaps Yu-Gi-Oh is especially lame and Magic was a better game. I don’t know. I never got into it. But, boy, the collectable card aspect really gets on my nerves. My kids want to trade cards, but they don’t really get the concept of learning how to build an effective deck, which is very important in these games. You don’t trade from your decks. I assume you trade from your extra cards for cars that will enhance your decks. If you do trade from your deck, it’s only because you figure you can build a better one.

My kids don’t yet get it. But they still are interested. Explain that to me. Chuck was active on Ebay for Magic cards. I may, to my chagrin, be doing likewise with Yu-Gi-Oh. Saints preserve me.

But, for now, I am off to work. My bruise isn’t bad at all, and I feel fine today. None of the expected back pain materialized. After I work out, it’s a few hours of work before I wander off for some fun.

Posted by James at 11:34 AM | Comments (10)

September 4, 2004

Musical Weather

Weather reports are boring. I have an idea. Instead of reporting the temperature, there should be a radio station that plays songs from the year corresponding to the current temperature.

During the most comfortable weather, you’d paradoxically hear disco. As the music started to creep past electronic pop and into grunge territory, you’d get increasingly uncomfortable and likely jump into the pool.

If you hear Jazz or Big Band, you’d better put that heavy coat on. But if “When the Red, Red Robin Cones Bob, Bob, Bobbing Along” reaches your ears, you’d best huddle in front of the fireplace with your hot chocolate and wait it out.

Of course, this opens one up to the possibility that you tune in the wrong station in the morning, resulting in you stepping into a foot of snow on your porch sporting swim trunks and a parasol.

Posted by James at 8:41 AM | Comments (3)

Clinton in Distress

I was enjoying a news blackout yesterday, so I am just hearing about former president Clinton’s heart problems and his bypass surgery. I am confident he’ll make it through this, but I’d just like to say, “hang tough, Bill.” And my heart goes out to your family. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Posted by James at 8:18 AM | Comments (1)

Help Dafur, Listen To Music

If you know anyone who might be interested in this music, or in helping Dafur, pass this along: Brand Republic (in Digital Bulletin)

Oxfam is launching its first downloadable music album with songs from REM, Ash, David Gray and Faithless to raise money for refugees in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The album costs 7.99 pounds and is called Songs for Sudan. Five pounds of that goes directly to Dafur. Refugees of the militia attacks are in serious need of relief, and they number more than one million. This is one small way to help.

Visit Oxfam’s download site for more information. [NOTE: Inexplicably, you need to use IE, Microsoft Windows and Flash to access the site. Not the best way to reach the whole world.]

Posted by James at 8:07 AM

September 3, 2004

Shotgun Whynotgun.

Links and more links.

  • Dixiecrat Goes Nutzoid (Fake news)
    • Republican delegates were stunned and slightly amused last night when Dixiecrat Zell Miller’s frenzied and exasperating speech culminated in him grabbing John Kerry’s disembodied head, ripping the back of its skull off with his dentures and eating his brains.
  • Shower Shock (Weird Product)
    • It’s caffeinated soap. Why this and not caffeinated toothpaste, caffeinated socks and caffeinated enemas? Wait, don’t tell me
  • History of the Second Amendment (Article)
    • A heavily-footnoted history of why we have the second amendment.
    • English history made two things clear to the American revolutionaries: force of arms was the only effective check on government, and standing armies threatened liberty.
  • BookCrossing (Internet Subculture)
    • An endeavor that turns the whole world into a library. You register your books with BookCrossing and then release them into the wild (i.e. leave them somewhere). And then you hope that someone logs them back to the site. In a way, it’s like Where’s George, but with books. And you’re giving the books away. Interesting.
  • Get It Right - by Jamie Whyte (Article in New Scientist)
    • Jamie White is angry at sloppy thinking he sees in the world. I sympathize, but it’s my own sloppy thinking I’ve been frustrated with lately, and taken up studies to try and clarify. The following quote is not necessarily representative, but you can see this guy is frustrated.
    • The weirdest manifestation of this new tendency is when people say: “I’m not a Christian but I believe in something.” Then I say: “Of course, I believe in many things, like there is a chair there and a table. What are you talking about?” And they reply: “Well, you know, something more.” But what “more”? What they mean is something more than we have any good reason to believe in.
    • I sympathize both with White and the person he’s talking to. It would seem that “what you believe in” deserves more thought than many people give it. Or, at least, more clear thought.
  • Wacky Uses (Home Weirdness)
    • Novel uses for household products. Use oven cleaner to clean your driveway, flour to clean a deck of playing cards, borax to make children’s clothing flame retardant, vodka to relieve a sore throat, lemon juice to clean a microwave oven.
  • Fellowship of the Peep (Homage Silliness)
    • For the love of Peeps. Someone has an illustrated “Fellowship of the Ring” done with marshmallow peeps. The watcher in the water is a lobster.
Posted by James at 9:12 AM | Comments (5)

September 2, 2004

Arnold Quotes That Should Have Been

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this in his speech to the Republicans:

Speaking of acting, one of my movies was called “True Lies.” It’s what the Democrats should have called their convention.

We thought he should have gone down his long list of films and come up with something to say about each one. Ryan and I have done the work for him. Here are the possibilities.

  • …one of my movies was called “Around the World in 80 Days.” We should send the military around the world and dominate the globe in 80 days!
  • …one of my movies was called “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines.” Now we’re going to have election 2004, Rise of the Electronic Voting Machines!
  • …one of my movies was called “Collateral Damage .” That’s what the Democrats will be after this election. And the environment four years after that!
  • …one of my movies was called “Dr. Dolittle 2.” We should call John Kerry “Dr. Doo-doo!
  • …one of my movies was called “The 6th Day.” Let’s not get into cloning or stem cell research, Ya?
  • …one of my movies was called “End of Days.” Four more years of Bush and we can have the End of Gays!
  • …one of my movies was called “Batman and Robin.” I heard John Kerry likes to wear outfits with fake nipples. And so does John Edwards. So there!
  • …one of my movies was called “Jingle All the Way.” We will jingle all the way to the White House… again!
  • …one of my movies was called “Eraser.” It’s time we erased John Kerry’s military heroics!
  • …one of my movies was called “Junior.” George Bush junior will be birthed from the uterus of our nation! Yeargh!
  • …one of my movies was called “Last Action Hero.” Let’s put aside questions about Bush’s wherabouts as a member of the Guard. He will always be our Lost Action Hero!
  • …one of my movies was called “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” If we can’t get the people to vote for Bush, at least we can get the Supreme Court Judges!
  • …one of my movies was called “Kindergarten Cop.” I have something to say to Democrats. Bush is not a tumor!
  • …one of my movies was called “Total Recall.” See you at the party, John!
  • …one of my movies was called “Twins.” John Kerry and Osama Bin Laden were separated at birth!
  • …one of my movies was called “Red Heat.” If Kerry is elected, the communists will have won!
  • …one of my movies was called “The Running Man.” Now John Kerry is a running little girly man!
  • …one of my movies was called “Predator .” John Kerry, you’re predatorized! Yeargh!
  • …one of my movies was called “Raw Deal.” If John Kerry is elected, rich people will get a raw deal!
  • …one of my movies was called “Commando.” John Kerry is unfit to Commando. I heard that somewhere.
  • …one of my movies was called “Red Sonja.” John Kerry’s ketchup-making wife is Red Theresa!
  • …one of my movies was called “Terminator.” Kerry wanted to terminate the Vietnam war. What’s up with that?
  • …one of my movies was called “Conan the Destroyer.” Kerry voted against destroyers! And he wants the military to fight in the nude!
  • …one of my movies was called “Conan the Barbarian.” John Kerry looks French, like the Coneheads, which kinda sounds like “Conan.” Kinda. Yeargh!
  • …one of my movies was called “Hercules in New York.” The movie has finally come true!
Posted by James at 2:49 PM | Comments (5)

Shameless

I admit I haven’t been following the convention closely. But information filters in.

I’ve been hearing about Zell Miller’s speech, and I see he is shamelessly misrepresenting Kerry’s voting record. Moreover, I am losing the confidence that such a tactic is ineffective. On the contrary, I worry that Bush will ride echo chamber vibrations to four more years. I am incredulous, but when Zell can oversimplify senate votes and ignore that people on both sides ( cough Cheney cough ) have voted against bills that included weapons systems and make hay out of it… ugh. Hope falters.

I’m going to bury myself in work today. I’m going to bury myself in taking a day with the kids tomorrow. Saturday will be geocaching and movies with Mike. I’m hoping I can stave off the possibility of slipping into a funk.

There’s always analysis by Media Matters for America.

Posted by James at 12:37 PM | Comments (8)

What's behind the black?

The Memory Hole gives us a rare peek behind the black areas you often see in government documents that have redacted text.

Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote

Redacted text is, as I understand it, for information so sensitive to national security that it would jeopardize operations to have such text released. So, what was the dangerous text the justice department redacted in this case? What did the Supreme Court record that needed to be censored?

“The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.”

Excuse me. I need some Victory Gin.

(Got the heads up on this from Eric’s .sig line on EA)

Posted by James at 12:06 PM

September 1, 2004

What's all the laughing about?

You’ll have to ask Bil and Steve.

But I’ll give you a hint. They’re laughing at the Yankees.

Posted by James at 10:21 AM | Comments (5)

Hero

Maggie and I saw Hero (Ying xiong) last night. Yimou Zhang has created a visually kick-ass martial arts film that is far more like a ballet than it is like an action film.

A lone, nameless warrior (Jet Li) sits before the king and relates the story of how he defeated three deadly assasins. But in his bloody struggle to unite China under one ruler, the warlord king has learned a thing or two, and does not take the story at face value. This leads us into flashbacks which reveal the true personalities behind the assasination attempts, and the stages in the path of the warrior.

The movie is so visually powerful that at times I felt the images just washing over me in waves. The structure (especially of the early flashbacks) was poetically dense and economical. And that was part of why it was such a treat to look at.

I’m a fan of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but I feel this film surpasses Ang Li’s popular epic.

Posted by James at 10:17 AM | Comments (4)