Friday, July 31, 2009

It Always Gets Me

There's a faint radio station I use with my iPod & FM Transmitter - all they do, (it seems) is sell ribs over the radio.

"Call now! Delicious Ribs Direct to Your Mailbox!"

How odd.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Bleep You, MC Etcher!"

Urban Dictionary did not give my new word "phapp" (a new word/contraction for "phone app") a thumbs up.

Something about "thanks but not so much, with the good".

What the bleep?! Who do they think they are? Hmph.

So I signed up as an editor, and submitted it again.

Phapp is a great new word! (Would it be better as "ph'app"?) You guys could help me out by using the word 'phapp' liberally in conversation, in IM's, in SMS's, and in your blogs. Let's get the 21st Century headed in the right direction with a great new word!

My most recent phapp is the Barnes & Noble E-Reader. It actually has even more features than the Kindle phapp, which I thought was pretty snazzy already.

"Salon Slave" by EtchCo!

I work closely with the salon & spa industry, and I spend at least half a typical workday speaking with owners, managers, receptionists, stylists, nail techs, estheticians, and etc.

Around 25% of these people are very savvy and have no problem at all interacting with technology. The remaining 75% are pretty darn clueless about tech.

This is not to say they're not very intelligent people, not to say they don't earn a really good living (they usually earn far more yearly than I do, and often they're working part time).

If this same 25/75 percentage could be applied to their clientele, I might just have a new job idea. As you may know, most salon and spa employees work on commission - this is typically 50% for Services and 10% for Retail sales.

Many other employees are what's called 'Booth Renters'. That is, they do not earn commission - instead, they pay what's usually a monthly fee to the management.

Booth Renters buy their backbar from the salon or provide their own tools and supplies (hair color, straightening chemicals, liquid acrylic). For a Booth Renter, all the payments and tips from customers go directly to the worker.

I wonder if there are salon Booth Renters who perform other services? Car detailing and gas top-off while you're getting your color or straightening done, errands like dry cleaning pickup and delivery, babysitting, personal shopping (grocery shop while you're getting pampered on the massage table!).

How about technical support? Bring in that troublesome cell phone, laptop, handheld game console, GPS, PDA, MP3 Player, and so on. The on-site tech will troubleshoot the device while the clients are getting their salon and spa services done.

This sort of employee should be a pretty easy pitch to the salon management, since a Booth Renter doesn't cost the manager anything beyond the space, which the Booth Renter is paying for.

Management could then advertise and promote all the additional services offered by the techy/errand person - and management is always looking for new things to add to a marketing flyer, postcard or email.

The techy/errand person could work under a company name such as 'Salon Slave Inc.', and work to build brand recognition, hiring other techy/errand workers to staff booths in other salons around the city and around the country. In the end, it could be a name-licensing deal, or even a franchise.

Quick & Easy Logo Design from Vistaprint.comIt wouldn't surprise me if a lot of business came from the other employee's of the salon (at a discount, of course), or workers at the businesses nearby who would find the Salon Slave a go-to person for many errands and tasks, large and small.

So how about it? Have any of you ever been to a salon or spa that offered services outside of the typical cut, color, manicure, massage?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cake Cutting

Cutting a cake so everyone gets a good piece can be tricky, even more difficult when there are many people to cut for.

Coolest. Cake. Ever.
Some brainiacs have a solution! (Though not one the average man can comprehend... maybe they'll release a cake-cutting phone app?)

"...For measurable utility functions, we find a fully polynomial-time algorithm for finding an approximate envy-free allocation of a cake..."

Wordsmith! Clang, Bang, HISSSS!

A new word from EtchCo Labs...
Are you ready?

Phone + Software Application: typically known as a "Phone App". Henceforth, this shall be known as: "Phapp".

I have just registered this at Urban Dictionary, WOOT!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lego House! A Real House!

It's been a silly fantasy of mine to someday build a real, full-size house out of Lego's. I'd use the tiny bricks to make house-brick-sized-blocks, and then build my house.

Think how easy it would be to create an addition - you decide you need another bedroom or an exercise room or etc - just build one!

Here's a guy who's trying to get a full-sized Lego house made.

I don't know how well Lego's would weather the elements, but I'm sure some research at Legoland would be invaluable. Despite my love for Lego's, I never got around to visiting Legoland while we lived in California.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Catchliest Death

For some reason, Deadliest Catch is one of the more popular shows on Discovery - I suppose it's the constant risk of death that makes the show interesting.

Crab or death?  Death please.  I mean, crab!  Crab!
The constant risk of death makes the show unwatchable for me. If these guys were out on the perilous waters because crabs contained a cure for cancer or even the common cold, I might be a bit more interested. But no - they're risking their life for a luxury food product - I caught a snippet of an episode this weekend, where they explained that 30 men died in one year.

We can culture pearls and diamonds, we grow fish in hatcheries, why not crab? Apparently it takes 3-4 years for a crab to mature, so for the first 5 years or so, you wouldn't have any crab to sell - but after that, you could harvest your crab yearly if not more often, with no risk to human life. I know nothing about fish/crab farming, but this seems do-able.

But let's say crab farming in a tank is impossible for some reason - fine. Design sea-going vessels that can't capsize, a vessel that won't allow deck hands to be washed overboard, a vessel that isn't prone to ice buildup or ice impact.

What is this miracle ship you ask? A submarine crab boat (new from EtchCo!). The subcraboat would navigate 20 feet under the water, avoiding waves, wind, and most floating ice.

The crab pots would be unchanged, the only difference: the pots would be raised into an airlock rather than brought up on deck. The water would be pumped out of the airlock, and the deck hands would have a safe, secure environment to unload and sort the crab.

I picture an assembly line setup (or dis-assembly?) where the first airlock is at the front of the ship - the fore crew collect the full pots. The pot proceeds to the center section, where the pot is dumped. As the pot moves on, the mid-ship crew sorts out the toss-backs. The stern crew baits and drops the pot back into the water.

But wait! This would be an expensive ship! Yes it would - but no one would die - how much is one human life worth, let alone 30 in a single year? Captains could pay their deck hands less because the risk would be far less, the conditions would be far better, the ship would receive less damage from the elements, lower insurance rates, etc etc...

Best of all, no one needs to die so we can enjoy crab at Red Lobster.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Repeatworthy: The Be Good Tanyas

A good indication of music I'm enjoying is a song that ends up on repeat for an hour or more. I have a high tolerance for repetition, which is good in some ways (coping with daily BS) and bad in others (lack of motivation to change myself/situation for the better).

Lately I have found 'The Be Good Tanyas' very repeatable - I'm especially enjoying a cover of 'When Doves Cry' (yes, the one by Prince) and 'In My Time of Dying', which apparently is also not an original song, but it's 'new to me'.

Check 'em out!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Catalina Kurilko!!

Three years ago, we brought home a sweet cat named Lina who's been a very welcome addition to the household.

She'd probably just watch them take over...
She was two years old when we brought her home, so she's five now - I've read that a well-cared-for cat could likely live for 15 years or more. So she's stuck with us for another decade at least. She's been pretty healthy up to this point - when she first came home, she had three cracked teeth and needed oral surgery, which she promptly received - I think it ran about $500.

A friendly bite
I'm the one in charge of feeding, and I give her very careful portions. Perhaps I very slightly underfeed her, but if she lives longer as a result, then it was worth it. She's not skinny by any means, and the vet is always very pleased during checkups that she's a svelte kitty.

I'm recognized by Lina as the litter-scooper, food provider, water freshner, and scratching-post maintenance engineer. I get my share of affection, but nothing like what Cindy gets.

Lina adores Cindy! This is the follows her from room to room, constantly in her lap, sleeps on Cindy's face kind of love. One of Lina's favorite pass times is to stalk Cindy near bedtime, when Cindy is walking to and fro in a repeating pattern of checking this and that before bed.

Cindy is a lot of fun to stalk (bwa ha ha!), as she always lets loose with a very satisfying squeal when attacked. Unfortunately, Lina doesn't just bat Cindy with her paws, but attacks the shins and ankles with her claws to bloody result.

I try to explain to Cindy that she's encouraging this behavior by behaving like prey, and also by allowing Lina to playfully bite whenever they're playing.

I should mention here that Lina does not stalk me - she tried once or twice, but I chased her around the house, barking and growling like a hunting pit bull for about 10 minutes and she got the idea 'Daddy is not prey'. I also do not allow biting of any kind, however playful.

Happy Birthday (month) Lina! Here's to another 25 years!

Love, Daddy

Twitter Element Removed

I took the Twitter feature off the top of the blog. It was sloppy, and I couldn't come up with a good way to make it less sloppy. Until I get better at code-wrangling, I'm gonna just take it down.

Friday, July 24, 2009



Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mike is Dead! Long Live Mike!

You think that you have an uncommon name, but then you find out not so much. It's odd to see your name on a grave stone.

He was born long before me, and died after I was born.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

For Her Own Good

It’s 8:00pm on Tuesday July 21st. Mary pulls onto her street, and even before she turns into the driveway, she knows something's up.

Cars are lining the street – familiar cars. The gold Saturn belongs to her sister Claudine, the white van belongs to her cousin Marty. And is that – it is! The silver BMW belonging to her pastor, Father Mark. What the heck's going on?

Mary parks in the garage rushes into the living room - They’re all waiting. Staring. It’s not just Claudine, Marty and Father Mark – there are fifteen people in the living room, staring at her with sadness and concern.

“What the hell?” Mary blurts out. She turns to her husband, “David, what happened? Did something terrible…?”

“Oh Mary!” David takes her hand in both of his. “You’re sick. You have problems. But you also have a lot of people that care about you!”

“I care about you!” Pipes up Mrs. Mulcahey, Mary’s high school English teacher, who now appears to be in her 80’s. She jumps to her feet and scuttles over to grab Mary in a huge hug.

“We care about you!” The group chants in unison.

“What the – is this supposed to be an intervention?” Mary mumbles, backing away a step. She mentally scans her vices - she doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't gamble...

“Only if you open yourself up to it.” Says a voice behind her. Mary whirls to find her teenage daughter Megan standing there, tears running down her face.

“Mary, we all love you, and this book club – it’s doing terrible things to you!” David cries out, trying to hold back his own tears. “It’s tearing your life apart, and it’s got to stop.”

“What?” Mary blurts. “The book club? Seriously?”

“Women’s Lit is a scourge on our great nation, Mary.” Father Mark says, as if he’s giving a sermon. “Margaret Atwood? Elizabeth Berg? That terrible Candace Bushnell?! Where will all this 'freedom of thought take you?”

Mrs. Mulcahey gasps, whispering ‘Bushnell!’ under her breath like a curse. She mutters a prayer, her face raised to heaven as she crosses herself.

“What the f-” Mary begins, only to have David cover her mouth with a quick, gentle finger.

“This book club is stealing thirty minutes a week from you, Mary! From your family!” David is crying freely now. “You never eat Tuesday-Night-Pie with us! You miss Jeopardy!”

“Wow.” Mary is reeling. She staggers back, her daughter catching her.

“Come back to us, Mary! All these free-spirited ideas are evil! This smut is coming between us! What’s next, Laurel K. Hamilton?”

The group takes up the word as a dark chant, "Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton!" as if it rhymes with murder, with Bloody Mary.

“Say you’ll give it up, Mary! Say you love us, love yourself! Say you’ll come back into the flock! SAY YES, MARY!” Father Mark cheers.

“Yes!” Mary yells. “YES! YES! I choose you! All of you!” She falls to her knees.

Everyone applauds and collapses into joyful embraces.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Howe Tis Mayde

I enjoy the show 'How It's Made' on Science Channel - except, I have to admit, for the original narrator, Brooks Moore, whose voice was grating and irksome. Sorry Brooks, but you should never again be allowed near a microphone.

I'd like to propose a History Channel version, with everything hand-made as it would have been in ye olden times. Period garb, period tools, etc.

Can you imagine something like a medieval tennis racket?

"Gather ye alley cats three, large females (any colour wilt suffice), an' drown them then in four pints of distilled crystal of alum. Gut ye then the cats whilt still warm..."

I'm not condoning cat drowning, of course. All the 'just wrong' stuff would be dramatized, not real.

Update: I just emailed the proposed tv show to History Channel. Watch your local listings.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I Dig It (Indeed I Do!)

I downloaded a fun new iPhone game yesterday - only 99 cents - it's called 'I Dig It'.

Basically, you have a big tractor that's been jury-rigged into a tunnel-boring machine, and you're digging deep into the underdark looking for fossils, trinkets and goo-gaws to sell.

You turn the money earned into upgrades for your digging equipment. It's surprisingly addictive, for all its simplicity. I wasted about 3 hours on it yesterday, until my phone ran out of juice and died in the midst of a dig (my progress was saved, fyi).

Oddly enough, instead of digging a series of shafts, carefully ferreting out the nougaty goodness of Roman coins and mineralized fish carcass, I'm digging a gigantic pit mine.

I have this enormous cavern dug out, and when I descend from ground level, I free-fall for hundreds of feet before coming to the current bottom, where I carefully, gleefully clear just one more neat, level row of excavation before rocketing (LOVE the rocket!) back to the surface to hock my subterranean wares. Is this careful virtual digging another symptom of OCD?

Am I, in truth, digging into my psyche? What if there is no game, no app, no phone?? Just me, sitting, glazed, hands held up holding an imaginary device, digging an imaginary hole into my wounded, sobbing ID?? What if the Etruscan Vase power-up represents my feminine side, at war with my reptilian need for a jetpack? No, wait - it's all real. Whew!

I wonder if there are research studies that observe exactly how different people play games, and what it means about them...?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Melody Gardot's Naughty Grandma!

Updated: The embedded video (hey, it was my first one, whattayaknow) was causing issues with the template formatting, so I changed it to a link instead. Check out the vid, it's worth a watch.

Melody Gardot is a talented singer/songwriter, and she's got great storytelling skills too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Check Twice for Cars

I've been seeing a lot of these stickers lately...

I first rode a motorcycle when I was five years old, and it was a huge thrill. There's something very visceral about riding, no comparison to simply getting to your destination by car. My Dad rode motorcycles, and I rode his back in high school, and later rode with friends.

Riding a motorcycle is a lot of fun, and the maneuverability gives you a lot more options. With more options - more opportunities to get yourself killed.

All too often, bikers seem to think that all black garb is a good way to go. It definitely looks very cool.

The problem with black is that it blends into the background of urban settings. In this pic among the greenery, the biker stands out well - but on your average city street, he would not.

I've had motorcycle riders among friends and family get into many different accidents, large and small and more often than not, it seems as if other drivers - that is, car drivers - are the ones at fault. But you have to remember that the bikes are the minority, so if they are in a collision, odds are high that the collision is with a car.

Bikes are so maneuverable that it's often very hard to ignore the itch to ride between lanes, riding the line while there's a car on either side of the biker. It's tempting to weave in and out of slow traffic, skirt obstacles that a car could not, like a fallen tree, malfunctioning railroad barrier, or open manhole. Motorcycle riders take more risks, if just from slick road surfaces.

Any time I'm on a motorcycle, I always keep in the forefront of my mind how exposed and vulnerable I am. I tell myself that I might as well be on a bicycle - I'm not riding a powerful, impervious beast but an unwieldy, dangerous piece of machinery.

Bikers need to be dressed to be seen, not to look cool. The bike's color scheme needs to be designed to be seen, not to look cool - like so.

When I ride, I imagine that all the other drivers out there would just love to run me over, and then back up over my carcass to make sure I'm good and dead. I do my best to prevent that.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Need to Need the iPhone 3GS?

I have a perfectly good 1st generation iPhone, the plain ole 2G unit with 8GB of memory - can't get more basic than that. (Okay, so there was briefly a 4GB version.)

As you may know, the iPhone 3GS is available now, and it does fancy things like shoot video, automatically iron your shirts, and yes, even get you laid.

Unfortunately, my 2G 8GB iPhone is working perfectly. The metal case is a bit dinged up, but I don't even have any screen scratches to complain about.

The closest thing to a complaint is, we have pretty crummy AT&T coverage at work (the block our building is on basically dwells in a giant, ancient sinkhole) and there's a possibility that 3G coverage might improve that. I suppose I could beg to borrow Cindy's 3G iPhone on her next mid-week day off and check the 3G coverage and how big a difference it makes...

Since I only use my phone at work during my lunch hour, this isn't a big enough deal to justify buying a new phone. One good thing is, I have no AT&T contract to worry about, since I bought my phone outright and now could get a new iPhone for about $200 - depends on the memory capacity I decide on.

I'm sure there are a lot of people like me who want the new features, but are having trouble justifying the expense of replacing something that's working perfectly well as it is.

Here are a few suggestions:

1) Take up heavy drinking in seedy bars - you could get drunk and lose it, or you could get embroiled in a bar fight and damage it. Possible bonus - might get laid.

2) Begin the 'Strange Pictures of Me' project, where you hand your phone to random strangers on the street and ask them to take pictures of you - one of them will eventually say "give what back?".

3) Take up Parkour. You will fall on your ass a lot in the beginning - keep your iPhone in your back pocket. Definite bonus - All Traceurs get laid.

4) Become the first Bathroom iPhone Juggling Expert. You'll juggle an iPhone, a bottle of water, and a bowling ball. This method will likely get you a new iPhone soonest.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Click Snap Flash

I've been hearing a lot about photography bans, with security and police harassing folks for taking pictures.

Here's an example article, which shows this is has been a growing problem for years now.

It seems silly to worry about photos as a planning aid for terrorism - tools like Google Maps, Google Street View and Google Earth give you an easy overview of most public areas.

The most foolish part of trying to ban photography is how unenforceable such laws are. As cameras get smaller, it's going to be impossible to tell who has a camera, who's clicking away.

It won't just be spies who have hidden cameras - they can be built into your sunglasses, which Bluetooth syncs the pics to your phone, which then automatically uploads them to your online account or distributes them on a public sharing space. Law Enforcement might confiscate your glasses, but there is no film or memory card for them to take.

I can foresee pics coming to be used something like Twitter - I could clip a small wearable camera on my collar in the morning, and it would take pics at regular intervals all day, posting to a private or public web page - an automatic photo collage of your day. I'm sure there are already folks doing this.

Monday, July 13, 2009


I read some scuttlebutt online recently - can't recall the site - but the gal who wrote the article had some pretty good evidence that there's something suspicious about iTunes programming and her iPod - namely, her iPod "is playing songs it wants me to buy more of".

With her 'all songs' playlist running on random shuffle, more than a random amount of the band Paramore was playing. Next, she opens iTunes to discover on the main page that the new Paramore album is now available for pre-order.

Only 50 out of 1,136 songs on the iPod were Paramore, yet the band came up one-in-ten times across 100 attempts when skipping to the next song. Hmm.

It certainly seems do-able that a 'random' function could be easily tweaked based on marketing decisions. Would that be underhanded on Apple's part? Or just another way advertizing has infiltrated our lives?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Breakfasty Quips

"Are you eating cereal, or calling the parish to Mass?"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Real Life Conversation #44

There you are! What took you so long? I was yelling for you while you were in the bathroom!

I heard you. I was in mid-stream, all right?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Hexed Text #1

(When text messages go awry)

Mike: Safe at work, love you! Jugs!

Cindy: ?

Mike: That should have said 'Hugs!'

Cindy: By all means, let's celebrate the bosom - just not at work, k?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

EtchCo! You've Done it Again!

You can convert a typical bicycle into a stationary / exercise bike with one of these:

This has the benefit of making your typical bike more multi-purpose, since you don't need to buy a separate exercise bike for working out - great.

But you would need a dedicated spot for this - it's not a very portable setup - you probably wouldn't take it from room to room with you.

How about this? Hook the bike converter into a unicycle. It has a smaller footprint, and it a lot more portable. Granted, there would be no handlebars to slump over and lean on, but as a benefit, there would be no handlebars to slump over and lean on - you're working your core muscles to keep yourself upright.

It might be argued that a unicycle isn't very useful beyond the home workout, but aside from the fact that you might look silly using it in public (get over it - admit that you always look silly, stop fighting), the unicycle would be a lot easier to take on the bus with you, or even into your cubicle at work.

With speeds of 8-9 miles per hour, a unicycle is something you could use pretty much as a typical bike.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Frog has arrived. To Stay.

This trailer showed up one weekend, and I figured it was like one of those inflatable-jumpy-ball-playzone rentals for some kid's birthday party. But it's been living at the apartment complex for about a month now, so I guess it moved in. Odd. It's not just loitering either - it's doing business.

Maybe I should start an apartment-complex-based business of my own... I've always wondered how profitable a convenience store run out of a truck would be. 800-1000 people live in our complex, and it's about three or four miles to the nearest gas station, so I bet I could make a lot of dough on diapers, cigarettes, beer, chips and etc.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Maybe it's just me

Is it just me, or is there something creepy about these flex-arms? I worry about all the varied, questionable attachments that might be in the box. It looks as if it would come alive in the night, slither around in the bed and violate my nether regions...

Also, who needs a table to hold a magazine for them? War and Peace, yes - Entertainment Weekly, no.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Living Room Treadmill

So is it tacky to have a treadmill in your living room?

Or does it show dedication?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How weird is this?

Somehow, all of the text except for the newest post is all lower-case. Weird.

Must be something I did in the new template.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Real Life Conversation #43

I don't think anyone believes me!


There was a zebra! He was just hanging out with the horses.

Well, this is a horse-breeding area after all.

So you believe me?

I believe you saw a zebra, sure.

Saw? How about, 'I believe there IS a zebra' ?

Wow. No, I'm not going to say that... I don't want to encourage your tenuous grip on reality.


How much time is too much time to spend fantasizing about suicide?
Mmn... 5 Seconds. Why?

No reason.