Saturday, July 31, 2010

Knock knock - Who's there? Fishes. Fishes who...

I had an idea for one of those time-management resource-management scurry-of-activity games, like Diner Dash or Cake Mania.

In my game concept, you're on the RMS Titanic moments after it has been struck by the iceberg. Ship's Builder Thomas Andrews (ably portrayed by the great Victor Garber in the 1997 movie) manages to quickly convince the captain that the ship is going down.

As we all know, there weren't enough lifeboats - but there were 840 rooms just counting guest rooms. That's 840 wooden doors - a lot of quickly available wood.

So the plan is to get the hardworking third class passengers out from the bowels of the ship and working on rafts built from doors, tables, rope, and etc. The rafts only need to hold together for a few hours in calm seas.

You would manage your different resource-gathering teams, and coordinate with the little space available on deck for the building teams. Since the rafts would not be designed to be lowered like the lifeboats, they would need to be deployed slowly as the ship sank, which would also mean managing the passengers as a resource. The actual things needing managing would change/progress throughout the game, cutting down on repetition.

When I described by idea to my friend Brandon (I would link to his blog, but he does not), he felt this game might offend a lot of people. Really? It's been 98 years, but still 'too soon'? All those survivors would find it in poor taste? Fine, I'll call the ship the USS Wackadoodle, and no one will be offended.

What do you guys think - would many folks be offended? I know some folks can be offended by a cool breeze and a sunny day, but still.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cookie crumbs everywhere

It might just be my cookie settings or some such simple thing, but this is weird and annoying - for the past few weeks, logging in to Gmail will not log me in to Blogger, but logging in to Blogger will log me in to Gmail.

Ugh. Now I have to do things like think and remember which order to open tabs, damn it.

(See, I don't store any passwords on my PC or in my browser, so I log in to everything each time I use the PC.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fun at Publix Grocery

We discovered a new Publix grocery store in our area with a lot of variety we have not seen since California, or never seen in person. We had fun.

Turkish Delight - Full of Eastern Promise! LOL.

Jammie Dodgers! I have heard about them in many a UK amusement. I want to say I heard of them on Doctor Who (I'm not thinking of jelly babies), but Michelle says it's the Louise Rennison books. I'm sure it comes from more than one source in my memory.

This horned melon does not look delicious. As a hunter-gatherer, I would not spot that and think "dinner?" unless I was very hungry. Which I would be.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Here's the thing

So there's this guy, right? And he's a serial killer - but he doesn't like to get his hands dirty. He drives around in a pickup truck - the front cab is packed full of stuff, so there's no room for anyone else.

Serial Killer is on the on-ramp of the freeway and stops to pick up a hitchhiker, one of those guys you see by the side of the road wearing a dirty wife beater, a week of beard growth, with a limp cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He may or may not have a mangy dog with him. Let's say not, because I like dogs.

The serial killer stops to pick up the hitchhiker, but there's too much stuff in the cab. SK leans out the window of the picket and tells HH that he can ride in the trailer. It's one of those classic teardrop trailers, made of aluminum. SK tells HH that he's just finished refurbishing the trailer and is on his way to deliver it to the family that just bought it.

HH thinks it's a bit odd that SK would allow him to ride in the trailer, especially since HH is a bit rank, smelling of booze and urine, but a free ride is a welcome thing.

The trailer has nothing but smooth polished metal inside, but still cool since it's morning. It's clean and antiseptic, smelling vaguely of chemicals. HH finds a woman's bracelet on the floor of the trailer and pockets it.

They've only gone a mile down the freeway when HH decides the trailer is too stuffy. He tries to open one of the cute little windows, but it seems they are just for show, not actual windows.

Moments later, SK pulls a lever and an acid bath washes over HH. The screaming lasts only a few moments - not that it matters, since the trailer is very well sealed. The acid sloshes back and forth in the trailer until 19 minutes later when a timer goes off in the cab. SK pulls another lever and the acid is pumped into a holding tank. 10 minutes later, SK pulls another lever, and within a minute he flips all levers back to their original position.

Finally, he presses a button. A red light blinks five times, then turns green.

SK pulls off the exit ramp and into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. He opens the trailer - holding his breath against the wave of chemical smell - to find HH's clean, bleached bones curled into a tidy fetal position. He uses pliers to pop out the five teeth with dental fillings, and pockets the teeth.

SK scoops the bones into a surprisingly small bag, and tosses the bag into the fast food restaurant dumpster. He drives away.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

LeeLoo! Multi-Pass!

Bwa Ha Ha'ing like a super villain (which I think will be my Halloween theme for this year), I downloaded the 'Dragon Dictation' app, which is supposed to be pretty decent speech-to-text program).

The iPhone version of Dragon Dictation does a decent job. I speak pretty clearly as a rule, (Death to Mumblers!) and extra carefully when dictating to an app. Dragon Dictation gets 90-95% of my words correct, which may be a wonder of programming but using the on-screen keyboard to make corrections is frustrating.

Also, Dragon has an option to post your dictated text directly to Twitter - cool!
But Dragon does not display a count of your characters - stupid!

So - Back to the Bwa-Ha-Ha. I warmly basked in a smug sense of cleverness as I recorded a story idea into the 'Voice Memo' app on my phone, and then attempted to allow the playback to dictate to Dragon Dictation, also on my phone.

But no. The two apps will not run at the same time, so much for multi-tasking - this is my first multi attempt after having the phone for a few weeks. This is the only thing I want to multitask, damn it.

I understand that only certain types of apps can run at the same time, and that the OS is just trying to maximize my processor speed experience and battery life. I can see an option in future iPhone OS's to allow multi-tasking of most apps, and pop a warning that running X and Y at the same time may not be recommended - you could allow or deny.

But I do have options now. I could dictate directly into the Dragon app and risk losing valuable details. I could record a voice memo and playback to the Dragon app on Michelle's phone. Or I could use my PC. Meh, meh, meh.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Alan Bradley

If you told me a year ago that I'd enjoy reading a story set in 1950 about a chemistry-obsessed 11 year old girl growing up in an English mansion with her sisters and absent-minded father, I would not have believed you.

Alan Bradley was a 70 year old first time novelist when the first 'Flavia de Luce' mystery was released in 2009, and he did an amazing job. I hope he has the longevity to release a long series of Flavia books - they're really good fun.

First was 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' (with the dubious distinction of also being a stamp-collecting mystery - which doesn't sound interesting, but it is!) where Flavia shows great restraint in not poisoning her irksome sisters while saving her entire family.

I enjoyed the first book most, possibly because Flavia was in actual peril for a good part of the story, and I didn't get to spend as much time with some of my favorite secondary characters in book two (such as Inspector Hewitt). But it's not the author's job to provide me superfluous face time with characters x, y and z but to tell the story that needs telling.

The second book was 'The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag' which is an admittedly awkward title, but a book that somehow manages to combine puppetry, WWII refugees, murder, a pigeon-poop poison remedy and nefarious chocolate in a realistic story.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Transitional Urges

Smokers seem to use cigarettes as a transitional device - after work, after food, after sex, etc.

I feel the need to snack in transitional moments - do you guys have the same problem?

I was going to post about the need for some sort of doggie treat, but for humans, but then I realized that I have blogged about this before.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Credi-Bull #16

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

When playing, please avoid definitive answers like "I know this is true, I saw it on the news last night."..Instead, couch your vote as a "guess" - this will help ensure that everyone gets an unbiased chance to play!

George Campbell is a man on a mission - he is developing a class action suit against the U.S. Postal Service. The crux of the case that just over ten thousand of the fifty thousand new postal scales purchased by the USPS last year were shown to have a fault of .001 ounces.

This is a small measure, but Campbell's concern is the 'Forever Stamp' which guarantees to: "always be valid as First–Class postage on standard envelopes weighing one ounce or less, regardless of any subsequent increases in the First–Class rate."

"The problem isn't the scales really, it's the contract that a Forever Stamp makes with the American Citizen who's redeeming it. We had the right to send one ounce, forever, and we were cheated by bad scales."

The faulty equipment is scheduled for replacement, but a speedy resolution is beyond the current budget - all scales will not be replaced until 2013.

Meanwhile, Campbell's quest goes on. To qualify for a Federal Class Action Suit in the U.S., the controversy must be proved to exceed $5,000,000. Campbell is working hard to collect names, though he claims the USPS is blocking his access to the names of its patrons who purchased the stamps.

Real or Fake?
(Vote in the 'comments' section, answer to be revealed there on Saturday).

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I respectfully decline

"Hey Mike, when you're finished helping that customer, could you take care of the spider outside by the front door?"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Socially Vent? No - Social EVENT

I'm a home body - I met my wife online, back in the 90's before it was fashionable. For many years to follow, we were a delightfully hermitish couple.

We didn't socialize much until recently, and now something is going on almost every weekend, and sometimes through the week too. (Lordy!)

It's no surprise that my social skills are lacking - and add to this the fact that I am a man, and 50% more awkward by default.

It seems it's a marriage faux pas to agree to social engagements without consulting the good lady wife - who knew?

It seems the biggest issue with saying "Sure, we can attend the 'Engagement X' on 'Date Y', sounds like fun." is that as a male I do not think to ask the appropriate questions.

When I arrive home to announce our fun-filled weekend plans, I am reminded gently of all of the questions I should have asked. How could I have not asked? What was I thinking? Hmm - I was thinking it would be fun?

So, to assist myself and any other males out there who have yet to learn proper social etiquette, here is:

The Official Social Event Questionnaire
(a work in progress)

  • What is the dress code?
  • Who else plans to attend?
  • What should we bring?

  • When should we arrive?
  • Should we help to set up/take down?
  • Is there a 'before' event?
  • Is there an 'after' event?
  • What time does main event begin?
  • How long will the event last?

  • If going out to dinner, where?
  • Will there be alcohol?
  • Will there be snacks?
  • If potluck, desired dish is?

  • Will we need to remove our shoes?
  • Will there be assigned seating?

  • Will there be carpooling?
  • Will there be children?

  • Is event indoors or outdoors?
  • What is the weather forecast?
  • What are the planned activities?

That's the list so far. If any of you ladies (or socially gifted men) who have any additions, please let me know!

See also The Pet Peeve Restraining Order.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Um, Sweetie?

"Why are there M&M's in the blinds?"

"Because I like them a bit melty. Is there a problem?"

"No Ma'am. No there is no problem."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Eddie Izzard Interview (2/11/09)

It seems that this Live from London podcast/interview is over a year old, but I just discovered it.

If you're an Eddie Izzard fan, it's a fun listen - check it out!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I'm easily amused

I wrote this at work to fill in a text box for registration email testing purposes. It amuses me.



Ever since Lord Emperor Hector Gonzales XXIV of Ancient Athens carved the first counting machine out of moldy felt and the bones of three fleecy lambs in 3252 BC, mankind has been rocketing like an out of control rocket without air-brakes towards a future where online appointment booking is the dominant force of the future!

NO! The dawn of Online Booking is will go down in the future of history as the dominant force of ALL TIME!

But wait! "How much will this cost?" You ask?

"Nothing!" We declare. "In fact, just to get you addicted, we're going to offer discounts for online booking."

"Addicted?" You say?

"We never said 'addicted'." We lie. "We said 'for a limited time only" which is totally different.

Here are a few places you can enjoy online booking:

* The shower (The salon is not responsible if you are electrocuted)
* The car (The salon is not responsible for car accidents)
* In bed (The salon is not responsible for pregnancy)
* Skydiving (The salon is not res...

Now that Online Booking is here, you'll never miss an opportunity to feel that you aren't quite as pretty and well-groomed as you could be. (Damn girl, when's the last time your eyebrows had some TLC?)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spoonerism or Freudian Slip?

Double-take: "Does that sign say 'Hot Gay'?"

No it does not.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Problem: Solved.

I like our little netbook for its portability, even if it is a bit pokey in the processor department (1.6GHz). One problem with using it on my lap is the angle. The screen doesn't tilt back quite far enough.

I needed something to prop up the front edge a bit.

Something textured and rubbery on one side (to grip the smooth plastic bottom of the netbook), and cloth on the other side (for to caress my delicate thighs).

But WHAT? I began furrowing my brow, that deep furrow that tells The Good Lady Wife that I am either plowing to sow butternut squash or thinking up some half-baked scheme.

I could use some of the rubbery shelf-liner that I find so useful, and sew or glue on some cloth... Perhaps an old towel? Wait, this is heading in a cheap and cheesy direction; I don't want to have to hide the thing every time we have company.

And there's always the concern to be considered by any conscientious inventor (I'm sure you know what I'm about to say - we've all been there) - any conscientious inventor wants to be sure whatever we invent can't be mistaken for a sex toy.

Inventing sex toys is fine, but you don't want to confuse anyone. A 'Violet Ultra Wriggler' is great and all, but you shouldn't have to do a double-take as you're fumbling around in the dark: "Is this my 'Violet Ultra Wriggler', or my 'Laptop-Propper-Upper'?"

In the end, I used a slipper. Works great, and sexual confusion concerns are minimal.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Who Knew?

We Americans use a lot of funny names that the rest of the world (usually very rightly) uses different terms for.

Such as: 'Soccer'.

I've always thought that 'Football' made a lot more sense for the sport Americans call Soccer. American Football is a game largely played by running around holding the ball - the U.S. name does not seem to fit.

Since you're all a worldly bunch, it's likely that everyone knew this but me.

What is the source of the term 'Soccer'?

a) Association Football (UK)
b) Socre Zapato (Spain)
c) So'kre Bashmak (Ukraine)


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Snapshot

(Perhaps) little known fact; real pudding (well, bought from the bakery section of the grocery store) lasts only a short short time.

If you don't eat it with four hours of buying it, the stuff dissolves into a very thin, watery goo.

I guess that's a good indication of just how many chemicals are in the unrefrigerated 'pudding in cups' version, to keep it stable and congealed.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Next for iPhones - Infrared Emitters and LASERs

I received my iPhone4 on Thursday night, and have been playing with it ever since. The new features are not as world changing as I'd expected, which is logical since I've had an iPhone for two years.

My old iPhone was the original 2G, 8GB version, so getting GPS, video record, and 3G with the new phone is very cool - it just didn't 'rock my casbah' the way going from a crummy flip phone to the iPhone did.

Surprisingly, one of my favorite new features is the ability to categorize apps into folders.

Also, the anti-oil coating on the glass doesn't really seem to collect fingerprints any less, but it does seem to allow my fingers to glide a bit better - there seems to be less friction, and I'm liking this.

As soon as I get my hands on a new piece of tech, I start thinking about everything it could do, but doesn't do.

The ability to use the phone as a remote control for the TV and DVD player would be very cool, and there is an add-on device you can buy from a 3rd party vendor that will turn your iPhone into a remote control. I'd like this feature built in, but I don't plan to buy the add-on.

A feature that I don't believe is available even from a 3rd party but would be very useful would be a laser thermometer.

The laser thermometer would need to have the laser emitter and the laser sensor built in to the phone, but would have many applications for temperature sensing alone; Scanning your beverage, the fridge, the freezer, your car's radiator, the cooking griddle or pan, the oven, outdoor temperature, bathwater, even your own body temperature.

Having the laser emitter and laser sensor built in to the phone would allow for many applications beyond temperature.

The laser could determine the shape and size of a room or house, telling you how much carpet or tile you need to buy, whether or not the new furniture you'd like to buy will actually fit, whether that new TV you're considering would fit into your entertainment center.

You could scan the layout and dimensions of your home allowing for easier renovation plans, determine the air volume for air conditioning and cooling. There's also a whole variety of uses for motion sensor apps.

A laser would also be useful for scanning UPC and Q-Codes, which the phones can do now (after a fashion) as they take a photo of the code and read the data from the photo, but having a built-in laser means one less step.

Given all the great applications a laser and sensor would allow, maybe EtchCo needs to create a little docking laser gadget for the iPhone...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

A Missed Opportunity

I very rarely remember my dreams, but I had one yesterday; I was a young black woman wandering through a food court. I was hungry and had no money, so I stole a Personal Pan Pizza with pepperoni from Pizza Hut.

The Doctor (David Tennant version) arrived and sat at my table, and we discussed how something strange and unusual was going on in the area. I didn't help him with any daring do, we just had a chat and some pizza.

Who dreams about The Doctor and doesn't dream that they themselves are a Timelord? And a food court? I can't even dream about an alien planet? That's right up there with dreaming you are on the starship Enterprise, and you're one of the guys who cleans toilets.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Fruit Doesn't Fall Far

Is this sweet?
Does the mommy tree like having junior right there?

Or is there a "Damn! You're all up in my grill, hogging all the essential nutrients, yo!" vibe going down?

Is there a tree therapist in the house?

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Vampire Pose?

I've been told by medical professionals that the best position for a person to sleep is on our backs. This might be best for your posture and to prevent sore muscles, but it doesn't make much survival sense.

Can you imagine a wild animal sleeping on their backs as we are supposed to, with belly exposed, throat exposed, genitals exposed, completely vulnerable?

Millions of years of survival education means that animals have learned to sleep with their vulnerable tidbits protected - sleep means being curled up, usually a combination of sleeping on the side and the tummy. Shouldn't humans sleep the same way?

Take a look at this article by Michael Tetly, Physiotherapist. It's interesting reading (with more than a couple unintentional LOL's) and quirky photos.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Thanks Paulius!

On Wednesday I posted something I thought no one would respond to, which quickly became the hot new online phenomenon known as 'Michelle's Chuckle Button'.

Ok, so I exaggerate a bit. It might not be a full-blown phenomenon.

Thanks to Paulius, who investigated, discovered and reported about the 'Reactions' feature already built into Blogger. Very cool!

So now my blog has a 'chuckle' button and a 'meh' button at the bottom of each post, terms which I think fully capture the broad emotional spectrum of online opinion.

It's taken a long long time, but Blogger has finally started delivering some very neat tools. I would have been willing to pay for all these extras, but hey - they're free!

Friday, July 02, 2010

121 Days Till NaNoWriMo!

November 1st seems far away until you count the actual number of days. For the first time since we met, Michelle won't be in the wicked clutches of Retail Christmas Hell during November, so she has no excuse but to participate! Bwa ha ha!

I've learned many lessons over the past few years of NaNoWriMo, and the biggest one is that despite my desire for an 'internal struggle' type story, I'm really bad at accomplishing them.

So I'll need an action-oriented story - not necessarily something action-packed, but something with an external pressure that keeps the story moving from A to B to C.

Without this pressure, I tend to provide ever greater detail about nothing (which is part of the problem of having a daily expected word count - a certain amount of rambling on about nothing can make you feel productive).

I've been toying with the idea of writing a new type of ghost story, but it would involve creating a whole new world (or new layer on our current world, more accurately) and I don't know that I have the energy for that level of creation.

At this moment, I have no idea what I'll be writing about on November 1st, but I will be writing something. It's definitely not too early to start thinking about it.