Friday, December 30, 2005

It's Like, Totally Annoying

Whenever I think of the term Pet Peeves, I think of men's magazines where the girl lists her likes and dislikes. Not that I've read that many men's magazines, but it's become something of a stereotype.

We all have pet peeves, among mine are:
a) the crinkling of plastic
b) people who mumble
c) folks who simply must touch you while they're chatting

Of course, some of the worst pet peeves are encountered around the house. All of us have a spouse or roommates who do things that get under our skin. We can nag others to change their ways, but this is rarely a fruitful approach.

Well ladies and gentlemen, we now have a solution -
Mutual Pet Peeve Restraining Orders!

It's a form of barter, really.
I'll make sure that I put the remote control back in its basket - -
if you make sure to properly fold down the inner bag in the cereal box, so the Apple Jacks don't get stale.

We'll have a stylish certificate with verbose legalese and a nice gold emblem to make it look all nice and official, sign and date, and we're good to go! No need to notarize!

For the person who does not meet their end of the bargain - they must do some agreed-upon chore for the other person. We'd learn to be neater and more polite people, and occasionally, someone would have to do chores for us! Yeah!


Thursday, December 29, 2005

So Um... Er... Yeeah.

My next job, starting in January is testing a music game - and part of the game is making your own music, and part of that is doing vocals.

Which means I'll have to sit here at my desk, surrounded by coworkers who are quietly clicking mouses and typing away on their keyboards, making polite work-related phone calls...

...While I'm bustin out with crazy cadence and mad rhymes, yo. Old school. Bringing the fresh flow and the lunatic lyric, YO.

If you knew me, you'd know how hilarious this image is. I'm a white boy from Ohio. I'm gonna have to sit at my desk with a big bottle, downing shots of liquid encouragement all day every day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

How to Microwave a Burrito

1. Wrap frozen burrito in paper towels.
2. Microwave on high 1 minute.
3. Flip the burrito upside down.
4. Microwave on high 1 minute.
5. Repeat steps 2, 3, 4 until burrito begins to hemorrhage its contents.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2005

By Request

Oddest Christmas Moment...

Letting my new breadmaker (Thanks Cindy!) bake empty to burn off the "manufacturing oils". It was a weird smell.

Yeah, our Christmas was very peaceful, for that to be the oddest moment.

I Got a Job for Christmas

As you may know, I'm a video game tester. I've been working on the same game for about two years now, from the concept stage to the present.

It's a great concept, I work for a medical research company, we're making a game for sick children - showing them what the battle looks like inside the body, and how important it is to follow a Doctor's instructions.

No matter how great a project is, it's cool to go on to the next one. You can get tired of hearing the same music, lines of audio, and etc all day every day for months or years.

The current project is finally coming to an end soon, and the next day I'm getting a new job with a different company... And I get to work at the same office and keep my desk - how cool is that?

The new project will start in January and is all about making music. The problem is, I don't know anything about music (I made that clear at the interview). The only thing I know about music is that I like to listen to it. Oh - and that birds sitting in interesting patterns on power lines can inspire a composer - I learned that from a TV commercial.


So I'll be learning a lot, hopefully.

Since I'll be making music for eight hours a day for months on end, a slightly non-terrible piece of music by yours truly will have to come out of it. It's just a matter of time, right? Right?

If I do manage to make anything decent, I'll post it here. In the meantime, if anyone knows of any good music resources I might study - like, nomenclature and theory - something for complete newbies - let me know!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Blogging Conundrums - No Longer!

For anyone who tries to write a blog post on a regular basis, coming up with a topic can be difficult. You sit in front of your computer and watch the blinking cursor, and wonder what the hell you're going to ramble about today.

Well wonder no longer! Just take a cue from The Great and Powerful Kato (of WITFITS Kato Katonian renown) and use the Unofficial, Unendorsed, Totally Unauthorized...

...WHAT WOULD KATO BLOG? Deluxe Topic Spinner!


Friday, December 23, 2005

Kill Bill: Alternate Ending

"Hi is this Fred at the front desk? Hi Fred, this is Bill. Oh, I've been better. Listen, I'm gonna need a wheelchair over here right away, and two big guys to lift me into it. Ten minutes? Great."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

She Who Knows

I was in the car on the way to work - waiting at a red light.

I glanced over to the sidewalk, where a woman was waiting to cross the street. Our eyes met, and I had a sudden shock as my brain yelled out: "She knows! She knows my secrets!".

I quickly looked away, and was glad when the light turned green so I could speed off. What if there was one unknown secret-keeping person on the planet for each one of us?

What to do if you should meet them - Ask them questions? Avoid them like the plague? Run them over with your car?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2005's Must-Have Stocking Stuffer

We’ve all been there – in a public bathroom minding your own business, unfortunately sharing the space with one or more rude Stall Dwellers. Of course, we’re too sophisticated to speak up with some crude comment or blunt suggestion to challenge the occupant of the nearby stall.

The solution:
The Bathroom Bastard - an innocuous device that looks like an air freshener, but plays pre-recorded audio. Over 50 random messages! This high-tech wonder features 43 channel polyphonic ultra-fidelity and sounds so real, everyone will be fooled! You plant it, and make your escape.

“Hey buddy, would a courtesy flush kill ya?”

“Fake-cough all you want, I heard that. Damn, and smelled it."

“Nice socks - Did you get dressed in the dark this morning?”

“I hope you don't make that noise in front of your boyfriend.”


New! Available just in time for Christmas:
The Bathroom Bitch. Now girls can get in on the fun!

"If you sprinkle when you tinkle.... Wipe it up! Were you raised in a barn?"

“Some people should be banned from BOGO sales at Payless.”

“Too bad they don't have tanks on the backs of these things any more. It's so much harder to snort coke from the toilet paper dispenser.”

“1985 called - it wants its shoes back.”

Order now - Operators are standing by!
Act Now and receive the Bathroom Sex Sounds Simulator at no extra charge!

~~~~~~~~~~

(Thanks to Vicariously Cindy, without whose input I could not have written this post!)

Monday, December 19, 2005

I hate to admit it…

But I’ve never seen A Christmas Story.

I know it’s supposed to be a new holiday classic and all, but the preview always rankles me. A whiny kid and a bunch of cold-hearted adults in lots of uncomfortable family and gift-angsty moments. It seems like a cringer on the order of
Meet the Fockers, which I also have no interest in seeing.

In my defense, I’d like to tell you all how much I love Egg Nog.
Mmn, how to put this: if Egg Nog were a woman, I’d CENSORED CENSORED and CENSORED.

Friday, December 16, 2005

What If...

What if cars were alive, and had feelings?

What if the steering wheel was their erogenous zone?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

I Suppose

This morning at the gym, Extremely Annoying Very Loud Talking Guy was thoughtfully and gently helping two retired folks - who were at least 75 years old - patiently showing them how to use the treadmill. It was a touching scene, I wish I were so helpful.

I guess he's not all bad after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Surprise Me

I hover over the toaster, taking it in with deep breaths:

Soaking up the hot wheaty goodness of the toasting waffles, and the sweet tart-tangy of the waffley blueberries.

They pop up like a Jack-in-the-box - BANG!

I jump with a start, as the knew-it-was-coming, startled-anyway peek-a-boo-surprise response kicks in, and for that moment I feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Compost Secret

You've all heard of Post Secret, I'm sure.

It's a beautiful idea, and if any blog should be required reading for teens, it should. It's like Chicken Soup for the Jaded Soul.

Except jaded souls rarely indulge in chicken soup, I fear.
Rum-n-Coke for the Jaded Soul? Now you're talking.

Anyway, I had an idea that people could just send me their secrets, on a little fragment of something biodegradable.

I'd sprinkle secrets in my compost bin, along with the yard clippings and autumn leaves and dinner scraps.

I'd toss the secret scraps with the compost like it was a big, fuzzy salad.
And since no one would ever read the secrets, they'd all be true.

Every Last One.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Car Troubled

All this talk about Hybrid and Hydrogen-Cell cars is great, fuel alternatives are a must. But with millions of more cars on the road every year, it’s not going to matter how they’re powered – congestion is just going to keep getting worse.

Yet, I wouldn’t volunteer to give up my car.

If only Public Transportation wasn’t such a heinous way to travel, I’d go that route. I’ve spent years getting around by bus, especially when working downtown – even when I had a car. It's awful.

Cities aren’t designed properly to accommodate millions of cars, no matter how many new highways you build. I’m waiting for some manic mogul to build The City of Tomorrow out in the desert somewhere. It would be rated for exactly X number of people, and no more...

Lotsa turbolifts and moving walkways, not a car in sight. Works for me.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Secret Name of Secretude

You know how you can be typing along, not paying very close attention to what you're doing, and all of a sudden your fingers drift to the left or right on the keyboard - Instead of getting the text you were expecting, you get something totally wrong.

This has been happening to me lately when I type my name. Instead of "Mike" I'll end up typing "Nuje". It used to happen rarely, but it happened three times yesterday.

So I have to wonder, is my subconscious trying to tell me something (beyond the fact that I'm a sloppy typist)?

Do I have a long-lost twin brother named Nuje? Is there a place called Nuje, and I'm supposed to go there? Am I to apply numerology to the word and divine some winning lottery numbers?

Am I supposed to go on a worldwide quest of danger, intrigue, and exotic sexy spies to discover the Hidden Truth of the Nuje?

Is the Mystery of The Nuje worth dying for?

Nah.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Credi-Bull #4

Credi-Bull - a news item that might be fact, or might be fiction.

The Sci-Fi Channel announced a new series in development for Spring 2006 - 'Shakespeare in New York'.

The story goes - The Eternal Bard himself was bitten by a vampire just before his "death" in 1616, and even now prowls the streets of New York solving literary crimes and trying to sell his new works.

I know. I don't believe it either.

Real or Fake?
(Vote in the 'comments' section, answer to be revealed tomorrow)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

They Came From Inside The Walls

Despite the fact that we keep the kitchen pretty clean, we've ended up with a bit of an Ant problem lately.

I loaded the dishwasher on Monday night and was about to run it when Cindy reminded me that it was after 11PM and since our dishwasher is a noisy old behemoth, I might want to wait until morning.

So I did.
And then I forgot in the morning.

When I got home from work, I opened the dish washer to add soap and discovered that EVERYTHING inside the dishwasher was completely acrawl with hundreds of ants.

I mean, if you wanted to make a scary movie about ants, and there needed to be a very creepy-crawly scene with ants that would make the audience cringe and squirm, just shoot some footage of my dishwasher right then.

There was no little path of ants leading to the dishwasher - either the entire colony was inside my appliance, or they came from inside the walls.

What else could I do? I added some soap and I ran the dishwasher. Twice. I still had to hand-wash everything to get rid of the ant carcasses.

But the point of telling you all this is, this morning I was thinking about Tuesday evening and the ants, and wondered what would have happened if I'd put an ant-covered bowl into the freezer. What happened to ants in the cold? Would they die, or go into some sort of hibernation?

Then I scolded myself, for considering freezing dozens of innocent ants just to see what would happen.

And yet, I hadn't given drowning them a second thought. How odd.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Dear Annoying Man,

So there's this guy who works on the same floor as I do - at a different company. He's a real nondescript type - white guy, dark hair, business suit - there are millions of them.

Once every two months or so we end up in the elevator together, and he says "Hello?? Hey There?" As if we're best friends from college, and I'm snubbing him.

Dude! I don't know you! We've spent all of two minutes together in our lifetimes, and it wasn't memorable, all right? We're not pals.

So Mr. Nondescript Business Man on the 6th Floor of My Building, if you're reading this; please back off - you're all up in my grill - or whatever you kids say these days.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Confidant

I was in the dentist's chair early on Saturday morning (I don't know what I was thinking when I made the appt so early) and I had a mouthful of tooth-impression-goo, unable to speak.

The Dental Assistant was sitting quietly next to me, waiting for the goo to set up, and I had the overwhelming, uneasy sensation
that she was about to confide something to me:

"Sometimes, when I'm all alone in here I just turn on the gas and tear off my clothes and dance around."

And then I wouldn't be able to speak, but I'd look at her and she'd look at me, and then the Dentist would come back into the room and we'd pretend it never happened.

Friday, December 02, 2005

So Wrong

ring-ring!
"Hello?"

"Hi this is Frank with Brinks Home Security. So... What are you wearing?"

~~~~~~~~~~

ring-ring!
"Hello?"

"Hi this is Frank with Brinks Home Security. I think there's a fire in the master bedroom, my sensors are off the scale and - wait, that's just you."

~~~~~~~~~~

ring-ring!
"Hello?"

"Hi this is Frank with Brinks Home Security. Could you windex the camera lens in the bedroom?"

~~~~~~~~~~

ring-ring!
"Hello?"

"Hi this is Frank with Brinks Home Security. How about you go put on the that blue teddy, with the lace? I love that one."

~~~~~~~~~~

ring-ring!
"Frank, Honey I love you but it's getting late. Aren't there some emergencies you could save people from? Oh and pick up some milk on your way home, will you?"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I'd like to thank Juan Valdez and Lakshmi,

.

I did it!

I broke 50,000 words (
50,308 to be precise) at about 11:50PM last night, pant pant pant!

I was sure that the NaNoWriMo servers would be far too overloaded with last-minute wanna-be's like myself - I was sure that I wasn't gonna be able to get my word count validated by midnight, but it worked fine the first time!

Big time kudos to the most excellent
dshoffman, my NaNoWriMo co-competitor who finished like 97 hours before me! We both won, YEAH! High Five DUDE!

An generous helping of Negative Kudos to my other NaNoWriMo co-competitor
Invisible Lizard, you're a quitter, you quitting quitter you. Tsk, I say. Tsk and pay up. Just send my winnings to charity.

So yeah I did the fifty thousand words, but I'm not proud of all of them. I'm proud of the accomplishment, that I actually had the stubbornness to stick to it for 30 days, and to write when all I wanted to do was nothing.

The inexorable appeal of doing nothing is like unto a black hole, I tells ya. Well I don't need to tell you, you're doing nothing right now. And loving it, I daresay.

The novella I spent November pounding out is titled FAST, which is an acronym for the the name of an epidemic that sweeps the world, resulting in extreme allergies (resulting in anaphylactic shock) to almost all food. It's more about people than the crisis itself, a series of vignettes.

I'll be posting the more readable chunks of FAST on my fiction blog, Anon Fiction... over the next couple of days. If you're interested, take a look. I'll let y'all know when it's up for viewing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Find All / Replace All! Bwaha ha ha!

3605 words left to write today for NaNoWriMo, when I shall reach the 50,000 word goal.

Last night, to avoid the distractions that attempting to write at home can result in, I went to a nearby mall. This mall has a huge food court, and one section is tucked out of the way of most foot traffic.

It was in this section that I parked myself and got to writing with my laptop. Sure, it's a bit close to the Christmas Train, but it's still a good spot.

Even with the two (likely) drug dealers sitting near me and jumping up and down every 1.5 minutes to use the pay phones, it's still a good spot.

I was getting some good flow going, I was into it, my muse was whispering a steady rapid-fire stream of passable prose directly into my ear as fast as I could type it...

And this happened:

In case you don't see the pic, it's the Blue Screen of SNAFU.

Like the Blue Screen of Death but different. This one is darker and more malevolent.

If I was any less of a man, I woulda cried.

If I was any more of a man, I woulda kicked someone. Anyone.

The laptop was completely unresponsive. So I grabbed my stuff and I left.

Damn damn damn.

I forgot in the food court the comfy seating cushion I'd brought with me from home (don't snicker, them chairs is hard metal) and didn't realize it until I was in the car. Ugh. I didn't go back for it.

I got the laptop home and performed some triage. I persuaded it to reboot, and it turns out I lost virtually nothing. Perhaps two words and a quotation mark. I was fearing everything from a forever dead laptop to a corrupted and unreadable Word doc.

Since Nov 1st, I've been obsessively backing up the NaNoWriMo novel every few hours (no, not while sleeping) so at worst, I would lose a couple hours worth of work. I lost nothing!

Big sigh of relief!

So yeah, 3605 words left... Tired though.. So....Very....Tired....I wonder how many words I would gain if I did a Find/Replace for all contractions, converting them all two their full two-word form. Hmn...

Tempting, but no. I'd have to go back and fix it later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cry Baby Support Group?

Feelin Fussy.
Money might not buy you happiness, but it does buy you SPACE.

I'm far too edgy a person to live in a city, and I've always lived in cities.

Especially around The Holidays, when elbow-room is scarce wherever you go, I want to carry a baseball bat and just keep swinging till everyone in reach falls over or gets the hell out of my way.

It would be nice to live in the country, telecommute, and never see another living soul (beyond my Sweetie, whom I could not live without) for the rest of my life.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nootropic - Word of the Day

I broke 40,000 words early this morning, leaving me with 10,000 words to write before midnight on November 30th. This seems do-able, if difficult.

I wonder if performance enhancers are against the NaNoWriMo rules. Let me look. Hmn, I don't see anything specifically opposed.

I could spend the night in a high-nitrogen, low-oxygen environment, and my body would make surplus red blood cells to compensate. Then I'd write in an oxygen-rich environment, and all those red blood cells would boost my brain function.

Then I could sail past the 50,000 word limit and UNTO GLORY AND RICHES, and still pass the pee-test afterwards.

:::steepling fingers::: Excellent.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I Think I Can I Think I Can I Think I Can

Okay. It's November 27th and I have 4 days to write 15,381 words to 'win' the NaNoWriMo thingy.

That's 3485.25 words a day...

See y'all in December.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm All Man. Really.

I don't know if it's my time of the month or if my estrogen levels are a bit high, or if my feelings are a bit closer to the surface due to all the writing I've done this month, but; those little salty droplets that come out of the corner of your eye - um, the name escapes me, but it's been happening more often lately. Sad song, sad scene in a movie, sad paragraph in a book... and oh great, here come the waterworks.

I don't know why I felt compelled to share that, but there it is.

It was this or another Him/Her dialogue piece, and I'm sure you guys are getting tired of those.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Loons R Us

Thanksgiving Morning: In line at the grocery store.

Her: I can't believe you forgot cranberry sauce.

Him: These things happen. I'm a busy man.

Her: Stop kissing my neck, we're in public here!

Him: (singing) Let's give em something to blog about...a little mystery to figure out...

Her: You're such a loon.

Him: That's why you love me.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Yay! 4 Day Weekend!!

6am on Thanksgiving Morning.

I get to the gym, thinking it's going to be deserted. But oh no, everyone and their brother is there.

What kind of a person shows up at the gym at 6am on Thanksgiving Morning?

I mean really.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bad Dream Bad Dream Bad Dream

Setting:
Bally's Total Fitness (Showers)

Dramatis Personae:
Mike, Naked Soapy Dude #1, Naked Soapy Dude #2, Guy in a Suit

~~~~~

Chorus: Oh, for a Muse of sudsy wetness, that would ascend the cleanest shower stall of invention, a gym for a stage, pudgy dudes to act, and fellow bloggers to behold the swelling scene!

Mike: (scrubbing and singing) ...she got a baby by Busta, my best friend said she used to **** with Usher, I don't care what none y'all say, I still love her...

Guy in a Suit: Excuse me.

Mike: (naked, sudsy) Wha?

Guy in a Suit: Yes, hi. Were you the guy on the exercise bike reading The Da Vinci Code?

Mike: (naked, annoyed) Um, no.

Guy in a Suit: Are you sure?

Mike: Very.

Guy in a Suit: I'd like to invite you to our church. Here's my card. The van can come pick you up if you don't have a ride.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Popcorn Dilemma

One of the reasons I petered out and quit writing my 2004 NaNoWriMo project was that the concept seemed too unbelievable, even to me.

The #1 reason was that I got lazy. Sad.

Anywhoo, the unfinished novella was about a TV reality show that duped people into thinking that World War 3 had happened, and that they would spend the rest of their lives in a government bunker.

The idea that a studio would have lots of moral and legal reasons not to do such a show troubled me, so I created a psycho producer who decided to fund and make the show on his own, without the meddling of the studio.

But even this seemed a bit tenuous, and together with the laziness factor, I stopped working on it.

A few days ago, I read
this: A story about a TV reality show where people are training as Astronauts to soon participate in what they think is a real Space Shuttle launch. Again, I'm doubtful.

It would be very difficult to realistically simulate a launch even into near space (which would explain why they don't experience microgravity) - I guess it depends on who you cast and how gullible they are. But this show does make my bunker idea very slightly more believable, since the studio seems fully willing to dupe these people.

Of course, unlike my bunker-dwellers, none of the faux Astronauts are likely to commit suicide because they've been locked in a bunker for months and they think everyone they've ever known or loved is dead... Hmn.

Monday, November 21, 2005

An Arteest Unappreciated in His Time

Him: You know... Roofs are underutilized, especially at the mall.

Her: How so?

Him: Well, there's all that space, and it's not used for anything. I mean, in California with the weather so mild. They could do something with that space.

Her: Such as?

Him: Wedding receptions. You could put up a big pavilion tent, it would be fine. And it would easy to find, cause it's at the mall.

Her: People would fall off the roof - lotsa drinking goes on at receptions.

Him: We'd use those rent-a-fences like at construction sites.

Her: What about bathrooms?

Him: There are bathrooms at the food court.

Her: People are supposed to use food court bathrooms in all their finery?

Him: Sure, why not?

Her: No.

Him: Okay, porta-potties.

Her: Finery.

Him: Really nice porta-potties. Stylish.

Her: No.

Him: You never like my ideas.

Her: I like the ones with indoor plumbing.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodbye, 9 to 5!

I've decided to quit my job and become a stand-up comedian for kids.

I'll do parties. Barmitzvah. QuinceaƱera.

Jokes won't even need to be very well written - "Poop" and "Boogers" will be gems of comedy gold.

"Take my teacher. Please."

"So we were at recess, and we double-dared Billy to fill his thermos with cooties and..."


I'll have to hire a few people to count all that money.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Charts In Charge

I did a quick bit of research on the US Govt, I needed a factoid. I wanted to know the hierarchy of the executive branch (like you do from time to time) and I was pleasantly surprised to notice what was at the top of the list.


It's silly to think the chart actually reflects reality, but I still got a kick out of seeing 'The Constitution' is in charge, kicking ass and taking names.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Eureka!

I was researching breastfeeding recently, for use in my NaNoWriMo novella.

Part of an article on the subject cautioned women to be sure to eat a high-calorie diet while breastfeeding, since calories and nutrients are being transmitted in the expressed milk.

!!!

The lazy opportunist segment of my frontal lobe (the part I affectionately refer to as "Mike") said to myself, it said: "Wow, wish I could lactate. Then I could eat whatever I wanted, and then just pump out the requisite amount of milky calories to bring myself down to a respectable 2000 calories worth of intake per day."

If only I wasn't a man.

On further reading, I discovered that men CAN and DO lactate under the proper conditions. Unfortunately, this usually involves taking female hormones, and I don't know if I want breasts.

Mike with breasts... I'm pretty sure it would trouble Cindy greatly. How would my coworkers react? How would showering at the gym be effected? Would the constant urge to fondle them impact my productivity? What about my facial hair? Bearded Chin + Breasty Chesty = Creepy. I guess I could shave, if it meant I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight.

But wait!

According to the WikiPedia entry for
male lactation, "It is also possible for males (and females) to induce lactation through constant massage and simulated 'sucking' of the nipple over a long period of time (months)."

Hmn. Tempting... but I'll pass, cause I'm too ticklish for that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Are there Fig Newtons in Valhalla?

If I was a Warrior of Old, and my clan and I went to war, my battle-cry would have to be:
"Cookies and Milk for Dinner!!"

Says a lot about my waistline, right?

Says a lot about my battle tactics too, which would largely consist of tucking myself into a ball and rolling down a hill onto the enemy.

What would your battle-cry be?

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Day Wikipedia LIED to me

I've rambled on in this space about my love of Wikipedia. It's a great new love affair, me and Wikipedia. It's like the heady days when I first discovered Google and it opened a whole new world of web searching.

:::sniffle!::: those were the days.

So I was looking up something on Wikipedia the other day when something jolted me: Wikipedia Was Wrong about something. I mean, I know it's user-generated content, but this content was WRONG.

I was looking into the history of tennis, and Wikipedia said of Tennis: "...Originating in England in the late 19th Century, the game spread..."


"What? Tennis didn't start in the 19th Century!" I yelled, startling my coworkers. Maybe in its modern form, but... I thought back to my knowledge of Shakespeare, Henry V in particular:

FRENCH AMBASSADOR
He therefore sends you, meeter for your spirit, This tun of treasure; and, in lieu of this, Desires you let the dukedoms that you claim hear no more of you. This the Dauphin speaks.


KING HENRY V
What treasure, uncle?

EXETER
Tennis-balls, my liege.

KING HENRY V
We are glad the Dauphin is so pleasant with us; His present and your pains we thank you for: When we have march'd our rackets to these balls, We will, in France, by God's grace, play a set - Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.

Okay. So obviously Shakespeare's plays have been edited quite a bit since they were first written. The treasure might have been "Naked Naughty Water Polo Balls" originally. I don't know.

My searching online shows that tennis was played as far back as the 13th Century, (by Monks) so Henry V could have been written with a reference to tennis, for all I know.

The real Henry V ruled from 1413-1422, so it's possible he knew about tennis, but the scene was very likely utterly fictional, which is fine.

But in an age where information in increasingly virtual, who to trust? In a few more decades, there won't even be books in libraries, just rows of computers. This makes facts very easy to modify, easy to rewrite history...

Shrug. I don't know. Obviously this isn't a new problem, and I'm not the first person to worry about this... But still it troubles me.

Friday, November 11, 2005

For Writers on the GO

It's happened to all of us at some point;
You're in the middle of writing the most compelling scene in the entire novel, every element is dripping with perfection, the setting is sublime, the characters are in rare form, the action and dialogue are clicking as if writing this paragraph was the reason you were born, this is your destiny...

But you need to pee.

Your DESTINY is calling, words are flowing out of your fingertips and into the keyboard like the undeniable torrent that is The Mighty Amazon River.

But you need to pee.

The urge to pee has been a source of consternation for all the most famous writers, and were the subjects of many an essay by authors and poets alike. Hemingway and Plath discoursed much on the subject, and some say it was this, a bizarre clinical depression known as Needus to PeePeeus that led to their tragic suicides.

Well no longer! No longer will we lose the best and brightest authors to the need to pee, for now we have Pampers Writers - a space age, super-absorbent adult undergarment that allows your muse to run wild with your imagination.

Letting go never felt so good!

Pampers Writers allow your dreams to come to fruition and ripen into full bloom, allowing you to keep your seat, meet your destiny, and let nature take its course without interrupting your work of genius.

Pampers Writers - Available at all major retailers!
.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I knew there was a reason

I asked my brain to write a post for today, and my brain said:
"Duuhhh, I dunno."

So I went looking through my really old posts, from like a year ago, the ones that no one has ever read.

I figured that I could just copy and paste one of those suckers - it would be new to you guys, and everybody wins.

As I read through the 'old crappy posts' (as I fondly remember them) I realized that there was a reason that I like to call them that, and there was a reason I never got any comments back in the day.

Cause they're crappy. Consider yourselves lucky, you dodged a bullet today.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Musings

1) If I commit Sins - and that's a big IF mind you, cause I'm a great guy - it would be that I use far too many paper towels in the course of a day. But they're so hygienic, so absorbent, how could I not?

2) The phrase "Fo Shizzle" has become lodged in my brain the way a catchy song might, to the extent that I'm crying out FO SHIZZLE when I'm alone - - and even worse, when I think I'm alone but am not, to the extent that I've begun seriously considering creating a comic book character about mild-mannered office worker who cries out FO SHIZZLE and transforms into a Super Pimp, in the vein of Shazam. Only my character would have, you know - a felt hat and hoes.

3) This free work coffee tastes like Ass, but my coworkers assure me I'll develop a taste for it, and now I'm worried about developing an unpleasant new fetish.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

a web of lies, deceit, and gingivitis

All right, there's been something preying on my mind for the past few years, and I want to come clean.

I've been unfaithful... To my Dental Hygienist.

Her name is Margaret - over at Dr. Sturgin's office, and she is the sweetest thing you ever did see. You know how most Dental Hygienists berate you, complain, and otherwise make you feel guilty?

It's like an appointment with your Cardiologist - you can't just say "But I fucking love Twinkies, all right? I hope I CHOKE on a Twinkie WITH MY LAST BREATH, you can tell me not to eat Twinkies all you like, Doctor Cardiologist Man, but I love em and that's that."

You have to nod, abashed and forlorn, and say "I will floss at least twice a day and thrice on Sundays" with your hand raised as if you're taking a solemn oath.

Well Dental Hygienist Margaret (the sweet one, remember her?) doesn't berate you, she doesn't complain. Oh no. Her eyes get misty, she gets more than a little choked up that your gums are suffering. That you might lose your incisors to gum recession. I can't bear it. I can stand strong against a frontal attack, but when a girl cries... Well that girl gets what she wants.

But flossing, it is such a chore. Cavemen never flossed, and they did fine. They did just fine without fluoride. I often forget, too. I mean well, really. I tried to schedule appointments with Margaret every three months, instead of every six months. But no, apparently cleaning your teeth is bad for you.

So I've started going to Charlotte, at Dr. Walsh's Office, on the other side of town, for my 3 month cleaning. Charlotte's ok, (she's no Margaret) but she's thorough.

Now when I go to see Margaret, she's all smiles and there's no tears, and she praises and compliments me and lets me pick a new toothbrush from the big jug all by myself. And I get out of there without buying the $250 Water Pick and accessories pack.

I feel kind of guilty, but really it's a victimless crime. Right...?

~~~~~~~~~~

My NaNoWriMo progress is really none of your beeswax!
Cause I'm way ahead. Way way ahead. Yeah, that's the ticket.

~~~~~~~~~~

Also, if you haven't been to Bookus Maximus, you don't know what you're missing.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Is Impersonating An Author a Felony?

Him: I wonder what it would be like to do a writer's signing. It would be really cool to meet the fans and have them say nice things about your work. It would have to be a great motivator.

Her: Yeah! You should try finishing something sometime, and find out.

Him: I'm workin on it. Hmn, in the mean-time, it would be cool to show up at a bookstore and pretend to be a little-known author. Just choose somebody off the shelf who doesn't have a picture on the back of the book, and arrange for a signing at the bookstore.

Her: Um...

Him: Like this guy. I could be, er... John Smyth Rutgers III. I could have written about... (reads the flap) Uhm, An incestuous love-affair that changes the course of the French-American War. This is popular stuff.

Her: Go for it.

~~~~~~~~~~

My NaNoWriMo progress - 10,013 words.

(Shaking fist at Doug and Invisible Lizard in I shall defeat you mannerism)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

An Email I Almost Sent To My Boss

Subj: Admin - Mailer Daemon - Unable to Send Mail

Hello Outlook Express user, this is an auto-generated response.

Outlook was unable to deliver your mail for the following reason:

117 emails over the past six months using "Question?" as the Subject field.

Please specify content-applicable Subject headers if you ever want another answer from Mike, thank you.

Love,
Bill Gates

PS: Spell checking would be great, too.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Classical Music 101

I've been listening to classical music radio while driving these last few months, because it's far less annoying than conventional radio (unless it's pledge week, damn).

I've learned a few surprising things, namely that a bunch of theme songs that I thought were modern inventions were actually written hundreds of years ago.

Examples:

The theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents was written in 1872 by Charles Francois Gounod and is taken from 'Funeral March Of A Marionette'

The theme to Benny Hill was written in 1403 by Mikhail Gordokov, and is taken from the 'A Night of Nun Chasing' a Violin Concerto in C.

The theme to Diff'rent Strokes was written in 1558 by Hans Mueller, and is taken from 'Wet and Wild' a sonata for harpsichord.


One of those is actually true.

~~~~~~~~~~

My NaNoWriMo progress -
5178 words

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Real Life Conversation # 1

While watching MythBusters this weekend:

Her: "What the - They didn't have rockets back in the Civil War!"

Him: "Of course they did. Rockets have been around for hundreds of years. The Chinese used them in battle all the time."

Her: "What? No."

Him: "Yeah, didn't you see Mulan?"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mysterious Towel Strip of Mystery

On a towel, does anyone know what that strip is - that horizontal band without softness or absorbency?

It this where my monogram is supposed to go? And is it just me, or is this strip just keep getting wider on new towels nowadays?


What is it, and why is it there? Is there a historical significance?

Help, oh wise readers!

~~~~~~~~~~

My NaNoWriMo progress - 1677 words

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Eeeeew!

While stirring my apple-cinnamon oatmeal this morning, I detected something not quite right. It was a teeny piece of apple that actually looked like an apple, with a bit of red skin on it.

I'm used to homogeneous, shapeless mush without color or resemblance to anything wholesome.

Troubled, I fished out the colorful morsel and threw it away.

~~~~~~~~

NaNoWriMo starts today, so for the month of November you can expect short little posts.

Monday, October 31, 2005

We can send a man to the moon, but...

Why - Do so many items designed for the bathroom RUST? Don't the designers know that the bathroom is a damp, steamy, moist and dare I say it wet place? Or are the items created with planned obsolescence in mind?

Why - Does using the air conditioner in my car result in a trickle of water dripping condensation from the AC, creating a messy puddle once I park? The designers know this is going to happen - can't this water be captured and funneled into the radiator overflow tank? I'd need to top off the coolant less often this way, and there would be less mess. Or hey, here's a concept - insulate the AC, so there's no condensation.

Why - When using squeezable bottles of ketchup, does the little nozzle make a sound as if someone passed gas - can't we invent a spout that's designed like a duck call? When you're making a sandwich, hearing "Quack! Quack!" would be a lot more appealing to the appetite, even if it would make sneaking a midnight snack more difficult.

~~~~~~~~

New book review posted!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Wes Craven's New Nightmare

The scene is dark, horror-movie fog clings to the floor.

A dark form moves in from the left, stooped and misshapen.

Foreboding music begins to play.

A dim light fades in, just barely illuminating sharp eyes under craggy brows.

The voice comes, shockingly normal: "Hello, I'm Wes Craven."

The light builds until we can see Wes fully - he is wearing a burgundy smoking jacket and SpongeBob-print pajama pants.

The music builds to a suspenseful climax and fades to the faint, eerie notes of a backwards-cranked jack-in-the-box.

Wes takes a puff from a dainty brown cigarette.

"So I woke up last night from the weirdest dream. I was locked in this shoe store, right? Only there weren't any shoes, instead the shelves were covered with frogs."


"This was one of those high-class stores, and so the sales guy kept trying to put frogs on my feet. The other customers were walking around on frogs, and the little wet and chunky, froggy organs were squishing out everywhere, but I was the only one who noticed."

"I mean, people were slipping and falling and they had no idea why. And their first step on the frogs - it was like still alive, and it lets out this horrible ribbety scream, you know?"

"And my brother was there, wearing a big bonnet right out of Little House on the Prairie. He acted like this was perfectly normal, and was pouring mimosas for everyone, but the oranges, they could feel the juicer cutting into them and they were laughing maniacally and speaking in tongues."

"Um. Yeah. Weird one, right?"

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dear Apple,

After hearing about the lawsuits regarding the easily-scratched iPod Nano, I decided to come forward. When you have to treat a $200-$250 piece of electronics with care for fear of damaging it, it's time to blame the company that designed it.

I'm going to have to sue as well. I'm having issues with my iPod Shuffle. It's become - how to say it - stinky.

I've been using the Shuffle in a completely normal way for the past nine months, and suddenly a decided FUNK has begun to emanate from the unit.

Has the battery spoiled? Was it made of inferior materials? Was I supposed to keep it refrigerated? The instructions didn't say anything about refrigeration.

After wearing it every day to the gym, the cloth neck strap has recently begun to reek with a sour vinegar smell. I take a shower every day, so clearly the smell isn't coming from me.

Perhaps the strap should have been impregnated with anti-funk nanocrystals or some such. I haven't found anything about stinky straps on the Apple Forums. Am I the only one with a problem? I doubt it!! So I can only assume Apple is keeping this quiet by deleting all mention of the issue.

I mean - if this got out, if the public knew that they would be expected to wash, protect and otherwise care for their electronics, Apple would be in big trouble.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Any excuse to get a puppy!

For some people, OCD is a real problem. To be sure, there are some benefits but any behavior that you're not fully in control of can be worrisome.

Since it's hard to modify ones programming, I have a solution that has multiple benefits: Dogs. That's right - why do something yourself when you can train another creature to do it?

There are already dogs that can sense and warn when people are about to have a seizure, and dogs that can smell cancerous cells earlier than most medical tests can diagnose them. It's time for Behavior Modification Dogs!

Here's a scenario: Let's say you check the front door lock sixteen times before you go to bed at night, four cycles of four checks. You turn the latch to the 'locked' direction, then wiggle the knob, then make sure the latch is turned to the locked direction, wiggle the knob, etc.

Enter the Behavior Modification Dog! After watching you check the lock twice, the dog would nip your ankles and herd you (like a sheep) away from the door. You'd either learn to break the OCD cycle or start wearing boots.

(Unless we accidentally teach our compulsions to the dog, as seen in the movie
As Good as It Gets)...

The dogs that perform this job wouldn't need to be as large as the ones used as seeing-eye dogs, so a lot of the cute little pups currently in shelters could be trained as a Behavior Modification Dog, and would be spared getting put to sleep.

I could use one of these dogs - I don't have OCD (unless you count snacking) so his job would be to keep me out of the kitchen at all times.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Credi-Bull #3

Credi-Bull - a news item that might be fact, or might be fiction.

The Institute for Sleep Science in Helsinki has published preliminary data suggesting a tie between the time you are born and the best time to get up in the morning.

Using myself as an example, I was born at 5:26am, and so my optimum wake-up time is between 5:16 and 5:36.

The study found that individuals that followed this 'Birth Time' waking schedule displayed 33% less daily stress when subjected to standard testing.

Real or Fake? (Check the 'comments' section for the answer)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

First Annual Joint MC/IL NaNo Contest!!

Hello Writers!

(I've stolen this entire post from Invisible Lizard, word for word, because I would have simply restated the terms, and he said it better than I would have anyway).

Invisible Lizard and I have decided to up the NaNo stakes a bit this year and we invite you all to join us. We're putting a little money on the venture. Here's the idea:

Those who win (meaning, those who complete the 50k words) get a prize. Maximum pay-out is $40. The amount you have to pay out is $40 divided by the number of people playing. You pay out that amount to every winner. (We sort of landed on the idea of sending an Amazon.com email gift certificate, and $40 seemed a not too big, not too small number as well.)

For instance, if it's just the two of us, and if we both win, we send each other a $20 gift certificate. If IL wins but I crash and burn, then I send IL the $20 and he sends me nothing.

We'll start with just the two of us but we hope more will want to play along. Any and all are invited, but we'll always calculate the payout as the number of people playing divided into $40.

If we get 4 people, each person will pay out $10 to the winners. If we get 40, each will pay out $4. Might get tricky if we have, say, 7 people, but that's what calculators are for.

The caveat is that you have to join before the start date of November 1. And once November 1 rolls around, you can't back out.

Oh, and everyone who participates has to promote the winners on your blog even if you are one and especially if you're not. Should I fail at this attempt, I will be the first to pay gratuitous homage to those of you who succeed. I will place you on pedestals and gaze up at you in awe and reverence while eating stale biscuits.

Let's see... is that everything? Just email me or IL if you want to get added to the group.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Things I've Absolutely Never Said in an Elevator

"Excuse me, but you smell fruitalicious!..What fragrance are you wearing?"

"I've heard people decide if someone they've met is sexually attractive within three seconds of meeting them... "..WINK

"That soup smells amazing, can I have just a tiny sip?..Just pour some in my coffee cup, here let me chug this first...Are those breadsticks?"

"I knew you'd wear red today!..It took me three months, but I cracked it - you wear the nanometer-calibrated wavelength color based on the square root of the day of the month!..Marry me, we'll have a prime number of children."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Ten Years Ago Today

EASAS Archives - Oct 22, 1995

I just bought my first operating system - called Windows 95. I don't know about this whole GUI thing, I'm gonna miss DOS. Windows 95 has 13 floppy discs for the install, whew! And I thought Mechwarrior 2 was bad! Brian Eno composed the start-up sound wav, which I think is super cool.

I read a story today about global warming. Alarmists! According to the story, 'Dozens of cities, most notably Chicago, Illinois and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, set all-time record high temperatures. Hundreds in these and other cities die as the July 1995 heat wave reaches its peak' I think this year was a fluke.

In ten years, we'll all laugh at the idea of global warming.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bloggin Aint Easy

Blogging's a tough business these days, competition is fierce. There's a lot of pressure to make a good product and stay afloat from month to month, (as we all know).

Of course any time there's a product, there's a seamy underbelly. The bloody noses and broken legs of back-alley politics that are kept out of sight by those who would
incite revolution and remake the realm in their own image.

On a completely unrelated topic, get a load of my new checks!
Fizzy Pop is da bomb! (They didn't have Rainbow Brite, bastards)!


Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mis-Taken Indentity

Since I am eponymously distractable, I very often consider changing the title of this blog. I'd probably change the name monthly, but the idea is to gather readers, build name recognition, get millions of hits per day, swim in ad revenue ala Scrooge McDuck and retire to Alaska.

(Don't tell Cindy this plan - she has a strange aversion to snow - I'll have to slowly ease us northward over a decade or two).

Changing the name constantly would be wacky chaotic fun, but the kind folks who link to me would be annoyed, having to change their link text all the time. Or worse, the links would have the wrong title - terrible!

One thing I wonder about is the use of Etch-A-Sketch in my title. What happens if
The Ohio Art Co. (who own the trademark) sends me a letter one day, insisting I cease and desist referencing their product in my blog name?

"I'm using it as an adjective" I'd say. The Etch-A-Sketch is a cultural phenomenon, has become a piece of Americana, and so if I am like an etch-a-sketch, that's different than saying I am an etch-a-sketch. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Hmn, Might be a good idea to use a name that doesn't infringe anything legal. Something I can put on a t-shirt and not get sued. To the world of high fashion - brace yourself for a new major player.

How about:

Ouija Magpie (Oops, Parker Bros owns 'Ouija')

umm.

Magpie at Keyboard
Me Like Shiny Things
Marooned at Weather Station 402
Synapse Soundbytes
Ideomotor Effect

On second thought, maybe suffering a little legal action is worth it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Secret Family Cookie Recipe

For the last 20 years, I've been trying to get the top secret classified Date Pinwheel Cookie recipe from my Great-Aunt Laura (she could totally kick your Great-Aunt's ASS) and I finally got it.

I had to take a few blood oaths, there was some chanting in archaic Dutch and signing of documentae in ichor, but I got the recipe!

Yummy!We're not a big baking household, so I had to buy all the ingredients, including sugar. Considering I bought fresh dates (as fresh as dates come - had to go to two stores to find them) and everything else required, including a rolling pin, they were some pretty expensive cookies.


I should have just flown Aunt Laura out here and watched her make them.

I made them myself! Considering I've never baked from scratch in my life, I think the cookies were amazingly good. There are already lots of little things I know to do differently next time.

Can a real man bake cookies and not lose Manly Points?
Yes. Yes he can. The leather apron and blacksmith mitts help.

The cookies are too tasty not to share, so here is the recipe: (Takes days to prep, and less than 10 mins to bake, crazy! Actually, I think the overnight freezing has no part in the chemical process, but it does make the dough easier to cut into cookie rounds).

Below is the recipe as she noted it. I'm planning some modifications, and will post my modified recipe once I have it (cause this is turning into a baking blog, surprise)!

~~~~~

Date Pinwheel Cookies

Dough:

1 cup - - - Margarine (Softened)
2 cups - - - Brown Sugar
3 Eggs
4 cups - - - Flour
1/2 teaspoon - - - Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon - - - Salt

Mix and then chill dough in the refrigerator for 1 day.

~~~~~

Filling:

1 cup - - - Sugar
2 1/4 cup - - - Dates, chopped and blended
1 cup - - - Water

Simmer 10 minutes and allow to cool to room temperature.

~~~~~

Divide the chilled dough in 2 halves for easier handling.

Roll dough about 1/4 inch thick.

Spread filling over dough.

Roll dough up into swirly log and wrap in wax paper.

Store in freezer for 1-2 days, or until fully chilled.

Once fully chilled, cut dough into 1/4 inch slices

Place slices on a greased cookie sheet

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes.


Devour cookies with milk, glee and zeal. Gusto is optional.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Selected Owies and Boo-Boos

Stealing from the quiet genius of the one and only Lindsey Quinn, I present for your enjoyment a list of dangerous incidents in my life.

July 23, 1974:
Sitting in my little red wagon, I speed down a hill towards the high speed traffic lanes while Mom chases me, rightfully afraid for my life. I giggle with enthusiasm, and Mom seems pretty excited too.

December 10, 1976:
I trip and cut my knee on a mysterious sharp thing. Seven stitches and lots of blood. They said the scar would go away BUT THEY LIED.

August 3, 1984:
I careen down a mountain of gravel at a fifty degree angle on my bike - I'm unhurt but the bike requires hardcore welding, like only the pro's can do. I get to watch and it's cool.

September 3, 1992
Speeding along a twisty forest road in northern Arizona in a 1978 Toyota Corolla, I rocket from the asphalt, spin the car 180 degrees in midair strike a tree at six feet off the ground and then hit the earth. My nose is smashed into over 100 pieces, my face and throat slashed with flying glass - result - hospitalized for 12 hours and lots of bitchin scars.

April 18, 1993
I stub my toe on a cute cast-iron turtle doorstop, electric nerve agony jolts up my leg, and I spend a week in bed and hopping back and forth to the bathroom.

May 21, 1995
Speeding along on a motorized pallet lifter laden with 2500 pounds of candy bars, the battery begins to die and I give the throttle a goose, only to be hurled with decisiveness against a full pallet of Circus Peanuts, breaking my leg. I walk on the leg for three days until I am dragged to the doctor, who tells me it's a damned good thing I didn't put any weight on it, or I would have needed pins and screws to fix it.

~~~~~

Also, I wrote a new
short story.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky

My most excellent roommate brought home a great game last week, and I've been playing it every day since.

It's called Destroy All Humans, and as you might have guessed from the title, it's not Homo-Sapien Friendly. You play as a Grey alien (NOT a green, let's get this straight) race known as Furons who are bent on the destruction of Earth. Or at least, Earthlings.

You spend time on foot as well as in your flying saucer, and can deliver satisfying amounts of damage in both modes. The combat is somewhat repetitive, but the strength of this game is in the writing and voice acting, which is what is keeping me playing.

Your player character Crypto is voiced in a fun, sardonic Jack Grand Theft Auto, but with AliensNicholson fashion (he could sue, really) with fun one-liners that don't get old, even after you've heard them five times. Crypto has a fun assortment of weapons and four psychic abilities.

The invasion is directed from the alien mothership by Pox, a great character in his own right, voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz, the voice of Invader Zim. The writing for the Pox character is very much like Zim, so if you miss the show, here's a good way for a new fix.

The entire game is full of a great personality and character - you spend a lot of time scanning average human minds, and the thought-soundbytes you receive are grin-and-shake-your-head funny, with a few that are laugh-out-loud worthy. I tried to find some wavs to link to for your enjoyment, but couldn't find any. I might capture a few myself, to share.

I managed to freeze/crash the game twice, and had to restart the PS2, losing my mission progress... but breaking games is what I do. It's sad to find such easily reproduced crash bugs in a released product, however. The frame-rate also suffers when there are many moving characters on-screen, but the environments are so huge, I can forgive this.

There's a lot of texture-popping and distance-draw issues, (objects flickering in and out of existence, depending on your POV) which are glaring but don't really break anything.

Some of the AI is questionable - for example: One scientist I was assigned to shadow repeatedly got hit by a car while crossing the street, and so I failed the mission. (Protecting the man's life was not one of my objectives). I ended up using Crypto's telekinesis to nudge cars out of the street to protect him.

The missions are set up in an all-or-nothing fashion, and if you fail the mission near the end, you have to play again from the very beginning. There really should have been objective checkpoints, since re-playing through long sections of stealth missions to reach the fun carnage at the end gets frustrating.

The soundtrack is drawn directly from Plan 9 From Outer Space, which modern audiences are likely aware of thanks to Tim Burton's film Ed Wood. The soundtrack uses lots of wavery, spooky theremin pieces, which really drives home the feeling of the pulp sci fi era.

Great game, lots of fun, play it!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Scary Thought

There are things that just feel so right in this world.

Snuggling with my Sweetheart - I was meant to do this.

Writing / Blogging - I was meant to do this.

Excel - I was meant to do this.

I mean, when you find yourself at home, thinking "The best way to do this would be with an excel sheet" and you spend your own time working up a macro to factor in everything from groceries to your pron budget...

Yeah, it's bad.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Clarifications

To the girl at the gym who thought I was checking out her cleavage - no, it was your iPod Nano that held my rapt gaze. Because let's face it, I've seen breasts before.

If you think you're getting the last bagel... Mister, you're dreaming.

To that guy at the restaurant all those years ago, who thought I spit on your food - I did not. But I did take a bite of your chicken.

I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.

To the girl who got on the elevator at the third floor, no that wasn't me - it smelled like broccoli farts when I got here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Doing Less - To Serve You Better!!

a parody of the always entertaining BASF commercials





At ETCH, we don't make the post,
we make it hipper and bloggier.

At ETCH, we don't make the puns,
we make them punnier.

At ETCH, we don't make the bon mot,
we make them more Gallic.

At ETCH, we don't make a lot of the blogs you read,
we make a lot of the blogs you read Etchier.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hot Food is Good

We've all sat down with our microwaved bowl of food goodness, scooped a forkful to our mouths, and chewed with frustration as half the bite is cold, and the other half is steamy.

True, this effect is minimized if you obey the directions and stir thoroughly, and let the cooked food rest for a minute or two before devouring.

chicken leg, undercookedThis is the 21st Century, dammit. If we can't invent a microwave that cooks evenly - how about an infrared camera built into the box?

There would be a handy screen for viewing the results - the blue, orange and red blobs on the screen would tell us at a glance if the food was warmed consistently.
.
GE, get to work. Thank you.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Get Your Write On!

November is National Novel Writing Month!

The goodly folks over at NaNoWriMo have a yearly ritual where they encourage us would-be writers to actually finish something for a change - to write write write without our bothersome internal critics nit-picking everything to a standstill. The idea is to finish and then edit the work to your heart's content.

The goal is to write a short novel of 50,000 words within 30 days. (1666.6 words per day, easy!)

This diabolical plan is assisted by a fun how-to book, 'No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days' by Chris Baty, the man who founded the program back in 1999. The book is a quick read, and I'd recommend it to all writing procrastinators.

NaNoWriMo is a pretty cool web site, there are forums where the writers encourage one another, you can post your current word count, and you can even meet, greet and gather in person with NaNoWriMo writers in your area for writing sessions.

What's not to like? I entered last year, and made it up to about 20,000 words I think. I hope to do better in 2005.

One of the few ways the idea could be improved would be to run the program more than once a year - in November, and also in May. The folks who work retail like Cindy don't have any spare time during the Christmas season.

The illustrious Invisible Lizard has posted on this topic as well, in far more detail - check it out!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Help Us - - Help You!! (Golly!)

*Earn valuable coupons!
How can Etch-A-Sketch Attention Span be improved?
More Full-Frontal Zombie Carnage
Pod-Casts! I just know Etcher has a sexy voice.
More Long Rambling Invention Ideas
Fewer Nude Pictorials from Glamour Shots
Here's a thought - Pick a THEME
This blog is perfect as-is
More essays promoting the proletariat
Fewer research papers about economic recession
Ask Cindy to do ALL the writing (cause damn)
Wax poetic about body hair in nether-regions




Free polls from Pollhost.com
*Not valid on Planet Earth

WikiPedia Wiki Wiki Wow Wow

If you have not yet found your way to Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia - I highly recommend you head over there and spend some time reading.

"A 'wiki' is a web application that allows users to add content, as on an internet forum, but also allows others (often completely unrestricted) to edit the content."

This means if you find a mistake in an entry, you can correct it. If you have something to add, you can do it. You would think this would lead to a lot of sloppy writing and soft facts, but the site has a nominally high quality and is very informative.

The main page opens with a featured article and interesting news of the day, stuff I don't see over on CNN. I also like the 'random article' button, it's lots of fun.

But then, I was the kid reading the dictionary for fun, so my opinion is questionable.

In a fun twist, there is a bizarro twin of Wikipedia called Uncyclopedia, and it is full of utterly wrong facts. Thoroughly entertaining wrong facts. It's where you'd send your evil stepsister when she asks you for help on her report.

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Holy Crap! I won the writing contest!! Thanks to everyone who voted for me, I guess my constant harassment finally paid off. This will only encourage me, what were you thinking?

Those of you who didn't vote, Ha Ha! I won despite your cruel inaction, thpppt!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Observations

You can be a totally buff and manly man, and still walk into the gym with a real, live squawking and talking parrot on your forearm without losing cool points.

Loving Tenderness - three hundred thousand dollars. Being able to say "Who's Your Paternal Progenitor, Female Canines?" - Priceless.

Frosty cold grapes are an excellent contrast to toasty warm cinnamon swirl waffles.

Voting is the shizzle. Even Aristotle thought so, and who are we to argue with ole A-Totle? (like P-Diddy but Old School fo Reals)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Credi-Bull #2

Credi-Bull - a news item that might be fact, or might be fiction.

A man walked into a bank and handed the teller a note that said he had a bomb in his mouth. Things went badly for the would-be robber - He ended up on his knees, handcuffed to a pole with a robot probing his mouth for a bomb. There was no bomb.

Real or Fake? (Check the 'comments' section for the answer)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Will Write For Food

Yet another news story about music and copy-protection today. I can appreciate the millions of dollars lost by labels and artists - they're in a very uncomfortable place.

For decades, we've all been making copies of music onto cassette, (I'm loathe to admit remembering 8-Track) and later onto CDs - but the internet is the real problem when it comes to copying and sharing. Instead of making one copy for a friend, thousands of people can download an album from your server.

The labels and the more outspoken bands opposed to file sharing get a lot of flak thrown their way from consumers, but illegal downloads are, yes, illegal.

The capacity for paid internet downloads of music is wonderful - the idea that a band no longer needs a corporate label is amazing. They don't need to compromise to a producer's vision, surrender to a committee's opinion - the artist can share their own vision with the world and earn money with their art.

I hope to write professionally at some point, and once books are fully popularized in electronic form, (with some sort of quality handheld reader - yo, Apple - get to work) sales of novels are going to face the same problem that music, DVDs and CD audio books do right now.

Why spend $30 on a new book when you can download it illegally for free and port it over to your handheld reader? (Reading books on a screen doesn't really appeal to me, but they are making great advances with electronic paper. Imagine a re-usable 'blank' book that becomes whatever novel you want).

Since authors are paid an advance based on expectations of how well a book will sell, and then a pittance per copy sold, you can see where 10,000 illegal downloads will make a big difference for the writer. It could mean the difference between writing full time or trying to fit it in on the weekends.

For the majority of largely mediocre written works, we might shrug and say "Oh well." But there are those rare writers who so completely define an era, whose works are true art - it would be a crime to lose these books.

The move toward e-books isn't happening that quickly and part of the reason might be it's better to just wait and find a solution for copy-protection first. But there is no solution that can't be cracked. No matter how safe publishers make their media, someone will learn to break through.

In the developed world, within the next 50 years, the majority of the labor-intensive jobs that can't be outsourced to Indonesia will be done by robots.

Humans will be squeezed more and more towards the arts (and robot repair) which is great. John Adams said: "I must study politics and war that my sons have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry and music." Sounds good to me.

I'm fine with the barter system when it comes to art - I'll give you my newest short story for your latest music single. But what about food and housing?

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Speaking of writing, I just wrote a new short story.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Issues with My Expectations of "Grown-Up"

Contemporary "Grown Up" roles aren't what they were 50 years ago. It's now perfectly acceptable to be a 40 year old man, collect toys and comic books, and proudly admit this to one and all without fear of a blanket party during your next trip to the bathroom.

I do work in the video games industry, but it's still odd to be at work and:

a) My boss just sang a few lines of "Who Let the Dogs Out" in a completely justified and work-related manner during a business meeting.

b) The work fridge is filled with equal parts junkfood and alcohol.

c) We discussed '
We Love Katamari' for at least twenty minutes and got paid for it.

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Have you voted yet?

Friday, September 30, 2005

Ever So Comfortable

When you're single, married couples talk about the great 'comfortable' state that you will one day enjoy with your someday mate.

Such as, Spouse #1 on the toilet, Spouse #2 brushing their teeth.

Cindy and I are not this comfortable, and have no desire to become so. Mmn, no thanks.

But we do enjoy a rousing, fully participatory performance of a modified Leo Sayer tune...

Boobies feel like dancing
(oh yeah!)
Boobies dance the night away!

Boobies feel like dancing
Dancing dancing
Dance the night away!

Boobies feel like dancing dancing ahhh!

(and they really do!)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Anti-Spam: My New Muse and Mistress

Click on the poem to see it full size...