Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tick Tock, Dammit.

You know that time, that time when you've read all of the blogs you like to read, one by one.

That time when you've checked all the web sites you like to check, one by one.

That time when you have no other reasons to stall, and it's time to actually do some work.

That time is now.



PS: Mt. Laurel, New Jersey! Come on down! You're the next contestant on The Price is Right!

Hi, Mt. Laurel reader. :::waving::: I'm glad you likes my blog. Why do you never comment? Email? Are you The Man? Is The Man reading my blog?

(Can you imagine, some poor CIA analyst who has to read my blog every day...)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

( It's Columbus, BTW )

The writing of many dramatic scenes has been changed by the presence of cell phones.

I was watching an old 70's crime drama recently, where a woman was grabbed off the street and stuffed into the trunk of a car, which then sped away.

Me: "She should call the police."
My Brain: "Cell phones weren't exactly common in 1975."
Me: "Oh, right..."

Cell phones make calling for help too easy, they're the Star Trek communicator of 2005. On Star Trek, if you got in a jam, all you had to do was yell for Scotty and he'd beam you up.

"Hey, Scotty - I gotta use the bathroom, but they don't use Quilted Northern down here. Beam me directly to ToiletRoom4."

So the writers had to come up with all sorts of reasons why they couldn't yell for Scotty. a) The primitive types surprised them and took their communicators. b) The high tech enemies were jamming the signal. c) Cosmic Storm interference. It was always something, because simply beaming the landing party out of any jam removed all drama.

We have to do the same thing with cell phones, in writing for the present day. Especially troublesome are the camera-web-texting-GPS phones. If someone is trying to give you false information, you can look it up online.

"Ha!" You say. "Toledo is NOT the capital of Ohio. Where are you really from, bub?"

The too-useful phone has to get smashed or the battery dies or there's no signal, etc. These extra steps don't really serve the story, they just solve nagging questions from readers.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Pimpin Ain't Easy. Or is it...?

Guy: "Looking for something more? Wider horizons, a fuller life? I was. And I found it, surprisingly close to home.

I tried Pimping! For just $49 at my local Pimp School. All it took was the free certificate from ‘Be a Pimp’, and I’m getting off the road, and out of the crowd."

Hoe: "Learning to pimp has never been easier! Just go to or call ‘888-Be-a-Pimp’ get your 'Be a Pimp' certificate, it’s free! And it’s the ticket to your first pimping lesson for just $49!

You can use the certificate at over 2000 pimpin schools listed at Go on! It’s easier and less expensive than you think – it’s a great gift, too!"


New book review posted

Friday, August 26, 2005

Pees and Cues

Regular readers of my blog know that I'm a quippy, sarcastic creature, and almost certainly I think I'm far funnier than I am (it's all fall-down-funny in my head, much less so on-screen).

I have a problem composing work emails. As I've mentioned before, I don't work for the company where I occupy a desk. My actual coworkers are a few hundred miles away, and I don't directly work for them, either.

So I spend a lot of time alone at my desk, soaking in my own thoughts, squinting at the world through my own lens.

Out of the blue (sometimes after days of no communication at all) I'll get an email from my distant coworkers. Usually the email contains a very simple (foolish) question, requiring a simple (wise and learned) answer.

But I can't resist being me. I write exactly what's on my mind, as if the email were a blog (perhaps this tendency is exacerbated by the fact that I compose my posts in the same email program I use for work).

I end up having to write at least three versions of all my work emails. The first one is pointedly sarcastic, with lots of eye-rolling and disgusted facial expressions. (Is there a 'disgusted' emoticon?)

The second one is slightly better, and by the third iteration - (Mike Version 3) I seem like a such a polite young man, fully suitable to meet your granddaughter and take her out for a root beer at the pharmacy.

Sometimes I'm in a mood, and Version 2 escapes into the world. This is bad, and I'm trying to curb the practice.

I get impatient and irked at home, too - usually due to some psycho-issue on my part (I'd go into my myriad issues, but they are a whole series of posts on their own).

I wish I had a mental buffer, so Mike Version 3 could do all of my communicating.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Things to Do in Heaven When You're Dead

So on that day when Mandy comes to collect me, and I head on up to that great library in the sky (the couches are so comfy, and the lattes are free) I'll have a few questions for whatever deity might be waiting.

The first day would be all that normal stuff everyone would ask: "What's the meaning of life, what was my purpose, why did Bones and Scotty have to die when Kirk killed his own wife and got away with it, remarrying like a month later," etc.

The second day would be just chillin with deity by the pool - some mimosa, melon slices, you know. I could ask all those idle questions that I wondered about.

"Was there something I was better at than anyone else?"



"Your liver could process more alcohol than any other person who ever lived, and not even flinch. Immune to alcohol poisoning."

"But I wasn't a drinker. I had like two beers in my life."

Deity shrugs. "Yeah, it was a waste."

"Hey, what was that blue thing, you know, in the tree when I was six. Was it actually the little demon from 'Leprechaun 8, GreenPieces'?"

"Ha Ha! No, it was a Japanese biological warfare balloon from WW2."

"No shit."


"No one ever saw it but me."

"No, it blew into the neighbor's yard and the dog buried it."

"Duke, the Irish Setter?"


"He's the one that went crazy and ate half his own body before they put him to sleep."

"Biological warfare will do that to a dog."

"Is that why Duke was alive, to save me from climbing up there and getting that balloon?"

"No, Duke was alive because I like dogs."

"Good reason."

"I thought so."

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yes, I Met My Wife Online

I've been known to do a bit of writing. I've always dreamed of getting published (I have been, if selling online porn fiction counts. It doesn't? That's fine) but kinda assumed it would never happen.

The fact that I rarely finish a written work and don't try very hard to sell them when I do isn't helping. The whole interaction thing, with Humans. I don't know. I'd have to work with an editor, their assistants, the marketing people, possibly the accounting people.

Accountants are not well known for being personable.

God forbid I ever publish and become even slightly popular. I'd be expected to do author's signings, meet and greet the public, aggressively market myself, all sorts of activities that brush my fur the wrong way. Hissss! RrrMreow! Pfftt! Claws!

How can a person who lives in their head, creates an entire universe within them, peopling it with care, colors and lighting just so - be expected to kiss babies and schmooze like a politician? I don't know.

How can writers be expected to be such social creatures, when at its core writing is a very internal alone-time activity. I mean Writing, writing. Real writing. Not journalism, not something you fling against the wall - is it done? - and see if it falls.

This is not EasyBake Writing I'm talking about here, a room full of noisy typing and chatting and phones and rough laughter at humorless banter. (I need silence to write, so it seems that everyone must, a clearly false assumption).

I'm in a reading cycle right now, I phase in and out. Sometimes I read a book a month, sometimes two a week. I'm back into the two a week zone. I've been reading works I wouldn't have picked up on my own, thanks be to the support group. The Cindy has also been supporting my habit with her hookup of free galleys and advance reader copies.

Reading years ago about the business of writing, I was given the idea that it's harder than ever to publish, only the best, yadda yadda - and yet there seem to be as many awful books as ever.

There are also more good books than ever. My very limited education taught me that 'good' writing obeys rules x, y, and z. Since my work ignores x, most of y and I never understood z, so much for my writing career.

Some of my recent reading has made me re-evaluate the idea that what I write isn't really marketable, which is encouraging. It also reinforced the idea we've always known, that a writer needs to read as much as possible, on as many topics as possible. I've always thought that learning a foreign language would help too.

Maybe one of these days I'll finish something I like enough to submit aggressively. Unless there's someone I can hire to do that for me. Someone I could just, you know, email.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Blogaversary - Year One

I've been blogging for a year as of today!

I've gotten slightly better at it, in the beginning I was just complaining "work is boring" in every post, with a little "I did chores today, and they were dull" thrown in for variety.

I was still mired in that boring era (worse even than now, yeah it was bad) when I received my first comment, from the most excellent SquirrleyMojo. I was so happy. This was before she knew what a pain I can be, of course. All the calls at 3am- Me: "Did you hear that noise?" SQ: "We don't even live in the same state."

Studying your excellent blogs, I've stolen lots of tips to improve this one. Since I usually post at work, I have to wonder what will become of my blog once the cushy job I now enjoy comes to an end next month. Hopefully I keep posting.

Cindy is well - resting after her oral sugery, medicated and half-watching a 'Sex in the City' DVD marathon.

Monday, August 22, 2005

SpoilerGuard(TM) from MikeCorp!

I'm always a few years (or decades) behind the cusp when it comes to popular books, trends, TV shows, and even slang. Usually I'm groovy with that, daddy-oh.

Such as TV shows - which I prefer to watch on DVD. I'm currently on disc 4, season 1 of 24.

I obsessively eschew spoilers like Monk avoids human contact. I don't read magazine or online articles about shows I'm interested in, I shun conversations where people are discussing them, etc.

I was minding my own business Saturday morning, relaxing on the couch with coffee and an oatmeal bar, comfy and unsuspecting.

Watching TV, I was flipping around from channel to channel and stopped on Secrets of Pearl Harbor, a shipwreck diving documentary hosted by Dennis Haysbert - most recently known as David Palmer on 24.

Dennis opened with "I play 24 SPOILER, but in my free time I love diving."

Well shit.
After years of avoiding suspense-ruinous factoids about 24, I get back-stabbed by The Discovery Channel. I mean, thirty seconds before, I was happily considering the suspenseful possibility that David Palmer might soon be spoiler on 24.

I have all sorts of filters on my PC for pop-up ads, spy-ware, and viruses. Why not, for my TV and PC - SpoilerGuard!!

'ContentGuard' might be a better description. If there is a topic you'd rather avoid (yes, this would be handy for those tiresome courtroom Trials of the Century too) you set the ContentGuard and it filters out whatever you please. Think of it as a useful application of the V-Chip.

(Like that one commercial with the catchy jingle that you hate so much, you sing it for days after each time you hear it).

If I had ContentGuard, my Saturday morning would have been unmarred by spoilers. I would have heard Dennis open with "Beeeeeeeeeeeep in my free time I love diving."

And I would still be cheerfully unaware that beeeeeeeep is beeeep and beeeep with the beeeeep have failed in the beeeep.

Ignorance is beeeeep.


New book review posted

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Pack and Move - - Step 1 (T-Minus 6 Months)

An old friend will be moving in with us soon, the sage and illustrious Key Player, (a music expert - I dare you to ask her a question she can't answer) of Thought Riot Party fame.

This prompts us into cleaning out the spare room, which over the past two years has become a clogged dumping ground for the exercise bike, overflowing bookshelves, old computer components, everything that we don't use every day.

The prompting is a good thing, since we'll be moving and have to go through all of that crap anyway. Most of the extra stuff, we'll be getting rid of one way or another.

Until we get rid of this crap, the rest of the apartment is going to get pretty cluttered. Hopefully this will motivate me to get rid of it sooner.

In the end, we're not losing a guest room, we're gaining thousands of MP3's. Woot!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Shake Your Booty!

I'd been bummed out lately, which is unlike me.

But I'm back to my 'happy-go-lucky, all is peachy' state of mind, and I'm glad.

I probably don't worry enough, but things always seem to work themselves out.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Is Alcohol Next?

By the year 2065 - I wonder how the meaning of advertising jargon from 2005 will have changed. And which practices now commonplace will by then be known as eeevill?

I've been getting bored of my limited iPod musical selection, so I uploaded to iTunes and into MP3 format a whole series of radio shows from the 1940's that I had on CD, but have never listened to. Until this morning.

Here is an exact quote from the radio show:

"...there's just time to consider a matter of utmost importance to every cigarette smoker: How mild can a cigarette be - Smoke Camels and see! Prove for yourself what noted throat specialists reported about Camel mildness in a coast-to-coast smoking test.

"In this test, hundreds of men and women smoked Camels and only Camels for thirty days - an average of one to two packs a day. After...2470 careful examinations in all, the doctors reported not one single case of throat irritation due to smoking Camels. Take the Camel mildness test yourself, test Camels in your T Zone - T for taste, and T for throat!"

"...And remember, Camels by the carton are the best buy!"

"...For several years now, the makers of Camel Cigarettes have been sending free smokes to Servicemen's Hospitals all over the country. Yes, and this week among other hospitals, free Camels are being sent to the Veterans Hospital - Marion Indiana, The US Naval Hospital - Chelsea Massachusetts, and the US Marine Hospital - Galveston Texas. That makes a total of more than 180 million cigarettes that the Camel people have sent to Servicemen and Veterans. Well happy smoking, fellas, your cigarettes are on the way to you now."

~~~~~ etch-a-sketch attention span, etch a sketch, etch a sketch attention span, MC Etcher
New book review posted

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Forgiveness, Please

This just in:

Former Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose has fallen on hard times, but he's working on a comeback.

He's started a chain of home improvement stores, specializing in wood flooring. Axl offers a premium line of wood flooring he calls "Rose-wood".

He does the advertising himself, and the catch phrase really grabs you: (Gotta do it in Axl's voice):

"Walk-walk-walkin on heaven's floor"

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Bonfire Party?

We're planning to move cross country next year. I've moved cross country many a time, (John Walsh will NOT leave me be) but I've never moved with so much crap. As a single guy, I kept big items (furniture) to a minimum, mostly because I was too poor to afford beds, dressers and armoires.

I'm more than half tempted to sell everything at rock bottom prices and start over afresh on the east coast. Sell the cars too. Fly out with one suitcase each and a lot of money in the bank. This idea was vetoed by the Missus.

We'll be getting rid of a lot of stuff, but of course my darling wants to keep the heaviest stuff. One cannot return to ones hometown as the conquering hero without truckloads brimming with quality IKEA goods.

Selling stuff will mean dealing with people, taking their phone calls, and explaining why they can't buy a 27" TV for five dollars. Once a price is agreed upon, I'll have to meet the person, they'll come in my apartment (shudder), inspect the item, revise their bid (shudder), and then I get to help them carry it down the stairs.


Since - until I get to know you - I'm a highly nonsocial person (hard to tell, I know) this will be a pain. How about we do the whole thing via email? Yeah! I'll just leave the dresser you're buying in the parking lot at exactly 6:04PM. You show up at 6:14 (must have a safety overlap of ten minutes) and collect your item.

Pay me through Pay-pal.
Or don't. Just take the crap away with you.

Perhaps there could be Moving Ninja of some sort. You get the news that The Company is transferring you to Phoenix. You don't buy boxes, you don't disconnect anything. You just contact The Moving Ninja!!

You simply go to bed in your old apartment. The next day, you wake up in your new apartment, blinking and shrugging off the chloroform and you negotiate the maze of boxes as you search for your new bathroom.

Right now I'm thinking of going the Pods route... Wait, I just checked and it would cost $5800 dollars to go the Pods route, damn. And you pack and unpack the Pod yourself, and they just schlep the container for you.

Imagine how much Moving Ninja would cost.

Monday, August 15, 2005

They're Three Apples High...

There's a few things that my folks never explained to me.

When I was a kid, I looked at adults as wise and impressive creatures. They had encyclopedic knowledge of the world, they'd done everything. They knew what they wanted. They felt a genteel inner peace.

I felt Dentists had grown up wanting to be dentists. When they were three years old, they looked at a tooth and knew it. They owned volumes of Little Golden Books devoted to teeth, and went as a bicuspid every Halloween.

My largest supposition of all was that adults felt mature. The need to romp, frolic and play had faded from them, replaced by a more cultured desire to practice golf or croquet.

Ain't so.
Well, maybe some people feel genteel inner peace - I don't.

Some dentists grew up wanting to be oncologists, war correspondents, tree surgeons, or interior designers. Somewhere along the way, they realized why their original dream wouldn't work, or they were denied entrance to Art College after one too many DUI, or they didn't have the money, attention span, or affinity with trees that they needed.

Some dentists grew up wanting to be dentists, of course.

I didn't grow up with any expectation for a career, other than the idea that "when I grew up" I would feel a burning desire to be...something. Once I was an adult, my destiny would become clear and I would just follow the obvious path.

I'll turn 34 next month, and I'm still waiting for that burning desire.

I don't know that it will help, but I'm going to make sure I explain to my (eventual) kids that you never grow up. I still feel like a kid, and this whole work-car-gym-office parties thing is a big charade. I still like to frolic and play, am silly every chance I get, and have no interest in croquet.

(Unless it's silly croquet. Rubber mallets, clown noses, crazy horn noises)

I'll tell the kids that I don't know everything - far from it. Just because I can make amazing pancakes doesn't make me a gourmet chef, it means I've had 40 years of practice. I'll tell them what it feels like to be grown up.

It probably won't make them appreciate being a kid any more deeply, but I can try.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Because I MUST Obey Anonymous Readers

A comment over on the esteemed 'Life, What the hell is going on?' site wondered how we blogging types can spend so much time together and have no idea what one another looks like.

Mostly it's because we don't give a damn, Anonymous. The internet is a great virtual place that allows people to come together without a lot of the baggage that the regular world brings to meeting and relationships.

Like appearance. I met Cindy online, and it's a good thing too, because in person - pretty girls make me nervous. But online, I can be my usual chatty self.

I thought I'd post a pic, since my profile image of the kid's toy isn't very helpful.

Cindy took this one - she has a great eye for pics. Some people say she has two of them.

This was shot at a lake in Florida - moments before an alligator leapt from the water and devoured the right side of my body. When I say I'm typing left-handed, I'm not being lewd.

Just joking - there was no gator attack. But I fear them, as any right-minded sort (i.e. didn't grow up in gator country) must.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Livin La Vita Mocha

This could be the caffeine talking, so forgive me.

A few days ago I mentioned using a hypnotist to help me remember winning lottery numbers, (like you do) and began thinking.

The brain is an amazing organic computer, and scientists still aren't clear on exactly how it functions or how consciousness works.

It's clear that my brain has a lot going on that I'm not consciously aware of. Let's say I'm chatting with Cindy and during our conversation, I try to use an example. But I can't recall the name.

"It's the name of a book, it was written by that guy, with you know, the eyebrows. Older guy. Wrote that book about that small town."

And despite all my efforts, I can't recall the name of the book or the author. Since we're out at a restaurant, I can't exactly hop online and research the answer.

By the time we get home, I've 'forgotten' all about it. But my brain has not. The query has been sent to Long Term Retrieval in the dusty Archives section. Two days later, as I'm typing up a report at work, I get this DING! of memory arrival, and it's almost imperative that I say out loud "Bike Path in Passamaquady, by Grant Morgenstern"!


There is an interesting phenomenon I've detected when it comes to short stories and half-finished novels. When I stop working on a writing project, and then pick it up again later, the characters look up at me in surprise.

"Um, excuse me." They say, in that disgusted teenager tone. Yeah, they're brats, but they're my kids, so I have to take the blame.

I say "Yeah, sorry." In the way parents can say that and not mean it, because it's their house and they made you - yea verily - from eggs and sperm and you'll just have to suck it up.

Then I say "So we're going to get back to the story."

The character rolls their eyes, like I just told them we're going camping with Aunt Gertie.

But I continue, since I want to avoid a fight. "So yeah, you were about to tell Captain Oolongh why trying to ship raw quantium through The Jade Badlands of Kraaal is a bad idea...Wait. Are you water-skiing?"

"Yeeeah." Hello, Dad are you mental?

"I didn't know you could water ski."

"Well you left me alone for a year and a half, what did you expect?"

"What else have you been up to? Dating? Sleeping around? You're supposed to be a virgin."

"Oops." I'm so not sorry.

"What are we supposed to tell the readers?"

Evil smirk: "What readers?"

"That's it!" I snarl. I snap my fingers, and the lake, the boat and the water ski's are gone. The character is now back where I left them, in the cargo hold with Captain Oolongh.

It's odd, but once you create them, they exist. Your brain is meant to process information, and it does. Hopefully I'm not alone in this, and other writers return to characters to find them changed.

This is likely just the result of changes in me, since every character is just an iteration of myself. But, water-skiing? Who knew?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

One of those dreams where you wake up screaming

In my dream, FOX just announced a new show for this Fall.

Golden Girls Gone Wild!


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Crisp and Clean, No Caffeine

Wow, two posts in one day!

Since I make lots of outrageous predictions, it's not surprising that I predicted this - Soon you'll be able to buy delicious human milk. You know, from humans.

Bet it goes great with Cap'n Crunch!

After all, since we're humans and not cows, why are we drinking cow milk? Cow milk is for baby cows. Apparently they're called calves. I'll bet they are ever so tender. Medium Rare. Little A1. Some shoestring potatoes, Yow!

Um... Where was I?

Since milk is a great way to pass on antibodies, we'd all be healthier for drinking this scrumptous human dairy bounty.

I have to admit the mental image is a troubling one - rows of women being force-fed salad and nutritional supplements, sitting in comfy ergonomic pleather recliners, watching Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones while connected, Matrix-like to thirstily humming milking machines.

I Can Wait.

Back in June, I wrote a piece on Spider-Man 2 for Activision, as part of a pre-interview qualification test.

I had to buy the game in order to write the piece, never having played it. I wasn't expecting much, most games based on movie tie-ins are awful. This is because the games are usually slated to come out at the same time as the movie, which gives them a very short production schedule (a year or less sometimes, instead of the 2 or 3 years other games can require for proper polish).

I enjoyed Spider-Man 2 far more than I expected to. The gameplay is repetitive, the missions don't have enough variety and there are too few of them... But it's still a great game.

The physics are very good, which gives the game world a realistic edge (suspension of disbelief comes gift-wrapped with a stylish bow) that you can feel in the pit of your stomach as you jump off The Chrysler Building and plummet towards the ground, the world blurs below you, the wind whooshes dangerously, and you wait for just...the...right...moment to sling your web and swing to safety.

I finished the game a couple of days ago - I tend to play any game for only about an hour at a sitting, so it takes me far longer than the dedicated folks. Since then, I've spent a couple of sessions just further exploring the world, swinging from building to building. It's surprisingly satisfying. Hopping from building to building feels like sweet justice, somehow - as if man were meant to jump sixty feet in a single bound.

As per usual, I got to thinking.
It would be great to actually web-sling like Spidey.

The actual appeal of slinging goes back to the early Tarzan TV show, if not before. Spidey uses a high tech version of the same type of locomotion.

Since none of us are - like Peter Parker, altered human mutants (as opposed to congenital mutants of the homo sapiens superior flavor) with radioactive spider genes in our system, slinging like Spidey - ain't likely.

But there might one day in the future be something like it, as close as normal humans can get. It would be a dangerous (and often illegal) sport, like BASE Jumping.

The Slinger (I'd say The Spidey, but There Can Be Only One) would wear a special rig, somewhere between a harness and a partial exoskeleton. The athletes would need a lot of upper body strength, but the exoskeleton rig would assist.

The swinging 'web' could be a specially engineered, tightly coiled spring (perhaps in a sort of wrist revolver) and when the user fires the spring, it remains attached to the launcher until released just before firing the next one.

The ability to be able to grab on to glass, cement, stone, and steel with the same grappling tip would be unlikely, so perhaps this sport would be enjoyed in specially prepared arena, as are motocross or other extreme sports. For this example, I'll imagine a series of New York style buildings/rooftops.

The grappler tip of the spring would have a specialized attachment, and the 'buildings' would have special texturing designed to cling to the grabber attachment.

The ground would look like a city street, but actually be a net, mat, or airbag, and through artistic perspective, it could seem as if the user were higher up than they really are.

Eventually, it'll be possible to sling with impunity (except for the falling to your death part) through an actual city. It might take 100 years, but someday there'll be people slinging from building to building in New York, Spidey style, and I hope I'm around to see it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Running Late: Time Travel Post

I was supposed to post this yesterday, but I got too busy.
If only I had a time machine...

The other night, during the aforementioned Time Travel program that gave Cindy a (virtual) migraine, we were chatting about how some time travel could be ineffectual.

If I went back in time one week, I wouldn't be able to improve my situation any. Nothing important happened in my life during the last 7 days. I don't keep up to date on news or sports really. I don't know any winning sports teams or lottery numbers. So making big bucks gambling wouldn't be a factor.

Unless I could find a hypnotist. Surely I was exposed to some useful factoids that my brain has dutifully stored, which I am unaware of. The hypnotist could help me remember. Then he and I could place some bets and clean up.

I guess this is just another reason to keep abreast of news...

Friday, August 05, 2005

Paper Airplanes

First I want to say that I'm a huge fan of the US Space Program, and I've been known to get choked up watching a launch or the little rovers bleeping and roving their way around distant planets.

But we need a radical redesign of our reusable space vehicle, damn. The Shuttle just isn't hardy enough. It's technology from the 1970's! Are we still driving AMC Pacers to work? No? Why? Oh, that's right, because it's the 21st Century!

The Shuttle is so very fragile, I wouldn't trust a 10 million dollar communications satellite inside it, let alone human lives. The Shuttle is covered in heat-resistant tiles that you can poke through with your finger. And if one of them fails, you can lose your whole team.

Who thought this was a good idea? Somewhere, a room full of engineers approved this design. Because it's Light. Weight is very expensive to lift, so everything needs to be as light as possible.

The weight concern is aggravated by the fact that the Shuttle does a vertical take off. That's the most wasteful type of thrust. Here's a better solution - Fly like a plane to the upper limits of the atmosphere, and then use your rockets briefly to push you into orbit. I want a space vehicle that I can take a hammer to and not worry. "Look! I'm banging, and there's no dent!" That's a frikkin Space Ship.

Another weakness - the Shuttle only has thrust on takeoff. On its return, it 'glides' in a barely controlled fall. Shuttle pilots have called the returning Shuttle "a flying brick". The Shuttle should have thrust control during landing - the current design leaves no room for error.

The Shuttle Astronauts are strapped into chairs during lift off, inside the Shuttle. Wouldn't it make more sense for the Astronauts to be in an escape vehicle outside the Shuttle? Then if something catastrophic occurs (and it will, from time to time), they can jettison the escape pod and have some shred of hope. The escape pod would be used on takeoff as well as landing.

As the Gemini Astronauts did, the current generation of Astronauts need to start making demands. The Gemini engineers weren't going to put a window in the capsule, since it wasn't necessary. How are you going to pilot something with no windows, in the 1960's? The Gemini Astronauts got their window.

Really, as Space Age as we like to think of ourselves, space is still a very dangerous place, and our technology is not yet reliable enough. We need to stop sending people into space until we can provide better designs and many more safeguards. Remote controlled and autonomous robots can do most of the work we need done in space.

What NASA needs to do is call Burt Rutan, and beg him for help. Burt is The Man!

I want to be Burt when I grow up. I'll start working on my mutton chops now.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

No Left Turn, Magic Keys, Incoherent Babbling

Once in a great while, I'll come out of the apartment and try to turn left at the bottom of the stairs. I don't know why I do this - you can't turn left there, left is a wall. You have to turn right.

Am I just distracted? Yes, but I don't think that explains it. My feet know where to take me, they're supposed to take me right. Not left.

(In the same way I can drive home from work without really thinking about my destination - I get home on autopilot.)

Is my subconscious trying to tell me something? Is there a secret way through the wall to the left? Is my subconscious trying to guide me to this secret?

In a separate but related phenomenon, I notice that when I get my keys out - casually and distractedly - I end up holding the key that leads to the place that I most want to be. That is, if I'm heading to the car and I really want to stay home, I'll find myself holding the house key. If we're planning a party day at work, I find myself holding the work key.

What if I could put these two phenomenon together? My subconscious desire to find the secret door to the left at the bottom of the stairs, and the key to the place I most want to be. A magical key would manifest itself, and I could open the secret door.

But I'd have to arrive there without meaning to. It's an accidental destination.

What if I'm led to some deep horrible secret that's meant to remain locked within my soul? I find my Happy Place and it's covered in blood?

I think I'd want to chance it. I could just peek in, right? I don't have to walk through the door...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Help, Oh Smart Peoples!

I need a bit of web programming assistance.

I run a web site for my family, pictures and news and whatnot. It's very very basic, I'm one of those losers using FrontPage.

There is a functionality that I want to add, but I can't figure it out.

I currently have captions under the pictures: "This is Mike at the Bolivian prison where he got his first tattoo." you know the kind.

Right now, the caption text is a part of the photo page itself. So if I want to change the caption text, I open the page's HTML and type the caption into the code for that page.

What I would like to do is have the caption be more dynamic, with the source text coming from another file and folder.

I change the layout of the picture pages from time to time, and then I just drop the new template in and apply it to all the pic folders. I like this setup.

But when I drop in the new templates, I lose my captioning. This is why I want to have the captions summoned from a separate file, just like the jpgs are.

Like so:

Folder - Pic Pages

Folder - Pics

Folder - Captions

Usually I can hunt around with Google until I find the info I need to do something in HTML, but this time no luck. If you folks could point me in the right direction, I would be grateful!

Even a "search for 'dynamic text' in java, Mike you goober" would be nice.

Of course, I could use Blogger of Flickr, but I don't wanna.

Any ideas?

Doe! I've been Tagged

Both Heather and Kato have tagged me (it was just a matter of time, the tags they were a flyin')

Three screen names I've had:
1. mkrune
2. nimbleduck
3. greydreams

Three physical things I like about myself:
1. Eyes
2. Hands
3. Getto Booty

Three physical things I don't like about myself:
1. Stomach
2. Chin (lack of)
3. Creaky/Poppy knees

Three parts of my heritage:
1. English
2. Ukranian
3. Dutch

Three things I am wearing right now:
1. Jeans
2. Sketchers Sneakers
3. Workshirt

Three favorite bands/musical artists:
1. Portishead
2. Dead Can Dance
3. Timbaland

Three things I want in a relationship:
1. Tenderness
2. Communication
3. Humor

Two truths and a lie:
1. I can imitate the song stylings of Brad Nowell (of Sublime) perfectly
2. I'm a big fan of coconut
3. I appear in the movie Spider-Man

Three physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to you:
1. Hair
2. Chest
3. Eyes

Three favorite hobbies:
1. Rambling
2. Computers/Internet
3. Silly projects

Three things I want to do badly right now:
1. Snuggle
2. Take the day off
3. Tell everyone what I really think

Three things that scare me:
1. Going blind
2. Getting old
3. The phone ringing at 3am

Three of my everyday essentials:
1. Computer/Internet
2. Cell phone
3. Mockery/Humor

Three Careers you have considered or are considering:
1. Author
2. Web Designer
3. Translator (I should really learn a second language first, eh?)

Three places you want to go on vacation:
1. The UK
2. New Zealand
3. Italy

Three things you want to do before you die:
1. Walk on the Moon
2. Publish a novel
3. Have kids

Three ways I am stereotypically a boy:
1. I stare at pretty girls
2. Cussing
3. I drive a pickup

Three ways I am stereotypically a girl:
1. I'm empathetic
2. I get choked up watching movies/TV
3. Getto Booty

Three celeb crushes:
1. Kelly Macdonald
2. Kate Winslet
3. Meryl Streep

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Workin It

I've been unusually busy at work lately - but I can't complain, it's computer work and I can listen to my iPod while I clicky clicky.

I try to be careful and thorough - it's my nature and my experience.

Experience: A good ten years ago, I was working at a warehouse, doing lots of lifting, stacking and etc. One of my duties was to clean up the litter around the outside of the building.

I always hated this job, and did a lot of grumbling to myself.
Once, I found a dollar bill! Made my afternoon.

One day, there was a robbery at the nearby bank, and the robber was brought to ground right outside the door of the warehouse. We watched as the guy was cuffed and taken away by a big group of cops.

A year goes by. Life as usual. I keep doing my warehousing duties, and picking up litter.

The police show up at our doorstep one day with some lawyers and the robber, now dressed in a suit. We watch as they fumble in the bushes and bring up a plastic bag.

The plastic bag was partially under the exposed roots of a big bush. The plastic bag had $12,000 in it.

If only I'd have been more thorough in my litter cleanup. It pays to be thorough, sometimes literally.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Vote YES on 232: Public Spankings

Perhaps wrongly, I'm all about order. My job in quality assurance has probably honed my OCD to an unfortunate degree.

I approve of rules and structure.

There are thousands of rules and laws that are supposed to govern our daily lives, but they don't usually have much of an effect.

It's all about enforcement. When I watch a futuristic movie like The Island, where every little infraction gets you a stern but civil talking to by Security, I can't help but think "Wow, that would be great in real life".

Every time some jerk speeds past me doing 105mph and there's no cop to be seen, or people are loud, rude and thoughtless.

I'm sure that I'm guilty of a lot more illegal and rude things than I'm aware of, but hey, if there was some enforcement, I'd learn to behave better, wouldn't I?

Rules without enforcement are useless, be it in the workplace or in the world at large.