Monday, May 31, 2004

Woo hoo!

Mike and I done in the lab, so it looks like we're going home a day early!


I just want toask the civil engineer who decided tp put a six-way intersection in this small, residential neighborhood: What were you thinking? Three, maybe. Four ways, certainly. But six?

The only up side to it is that it makes a good navigational landmark for people like me that are new to the area. "Oh, this intersection. We're going to die, but I know where we are.

Next time get someone to proofread your work.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

You are old, Father Eric

I have a new-found respect for waitresses and anyone else that spends all day on his or her feet. I wasn't expecting my feet to hurt this much after spending all day in the lab. And getting off them doesn't seem to help all that much, either. I think it just restores all the bloodflow to the areas that had been missing it; when they wakeup, they wake up angry.

Of course, wasting half a day in the lab because we couldn't get a computer working right, doesn't do much for my mood. It seems a software update had been installed that changed all the commands from Alt-(letter) to just (letter). Took us four hours to realize that. We'd rebooted the machine and had been looking for mechanical faults for some time when I foumd that out. You'd think that an important change like that might have made into -- oh, I don't know -- the freaking instructions?

Bagel bitch

The best thing about being in New York is the bagels. Now, I'm sure that a bagel afficianado would tell you that you can only get a proper bagel in NYC, but I'm perfectly happy with the ones I can get here.

I'm not Jewish, but I am a food-geek, and in my opinion, bagels most everywhere outside NY are comparatively blah. A doughnut-shaped pice of bread. (This seems to be especially true of the Midwest -- they seem to actually prefer bland, soft, boring food.) The bagels here, though, are actually decent. Especially, they've got that appropriately crispy bagel-crust to them, as well as some heft.

I just wish I could take thebakery with me when I go.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Thunderstorm #2 of the past two days coming through now, it sounds like. I don't know if its because we're close to the top of a hill or what, but they've seemed quite intense. As long as I don't get hit by lightning or get soaking wet, you sure won't hear me complain. I love big, powerful storms like this.

Ithaca, Land of Thunder, Hills, and Hippies

Writing from Cornell today. on business. Unfotunately, half the computers in the lab are down, i think becuse of the recent Sasser virus outbreak, so there aren't enough to go around. Unimportant things like email are of lower priority than doing actual work, and blogging even lower. So I'm actually writing this on my Palm Pilot, and will upload it when I get back.

Drove in Sunday night. About a 12 hour drive, which really isn't so bad. It's probably about as fast as driving, if you factor in travel to the airport, having to get there two hours early for the security check (probably overkill for the CMI airport), having to pick up the rental car, and the fact that Ithaca's airport is smaller than Champaign's and any flight would probably involve changing planes twice.

I'm always surprised at how sparsely populated upstate New York is. NYC is one of the most bustling metropolises in the world, but just a couple of miles away, everything looks so much like ... well, like New England. It's just astonishingly green, with lots of running streams, thick with trees, and just richly verdant.

Ithaca seems to be fairly well situated in all this, with Cornell Univ. perched at the top of one of the many steep hills in the area. Something about the chaos of the city offends my sense of order, though. It may be the hilliness (I'm not in good enough shape to walk around here much). As seems to be more common in the East, evrything is rather small: prking, living space, shops. (Although there is a grocery store here to die for.) Or it may just be that there isn't a single path or street that goes in a straight line for more than fifty feet. Is seems very fitting for a city that was built by a bunch of hippies.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

In the news

From today's news:

Bush Suffers Minor Abrasions in Fall from Bicycle
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush (news - web sites) suffered minor abrasions after falling off a mountain bike while cycling on his Texas ranch on Saturday, the White House said.

Perhaps he was trying to chew gum at the same time?

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Farewell, Angel

Last night's series finale of Angel struck me as a bit disappointing. Not horrible, but not Joss's best work. The ending disappointed me a bit, but less so the more I think about it. Senor coconut in the TWoP forums put it best I think:

It's the Blackadder ending, people. Blackadder IV ended the same way. The main characters stepped onto the battlefield and we all assume they die. I suspected Joss would just kill off everyone.

That entire season of Blackadder took place in a trench during WWI, and ended as the Allies made a desperate push across no-man's-land. The characters knew that they stood a good chance of dying in what was about to come. (Realize that this show was a comedy, not an adventure-drama like Angel.) That episode ended with them climbing the ladders to the surface and rushing across, then the sound of gunfire, and the whole scene faded to sepia. It was a wonderful ending that really characterized the heroism involved in such an act. Whether or not any of the individual characters died in the big rush or not wasn't really important. It brought

What I don't like about the Angel ending is that it was much more unclear. I think that Joss was trying to pull a Blackadder, and show how Angel and the gang all went out in a blaze of glory, but I don't think that came across well. Couple that with a few disappointing things in the finale (oh, by the way, the Apocalypse is being orchestrated by a shadowy society that we're only going to tell you about in the second to last episode; oh, that ancient prophecy that Angel has been pining over for several seasons, we're just going to brush aside; etc.) and the fact that this has been a fairly weak season overall, and it wasn't the best ending. So it's probably good that Angel is ending now, rather than trying to draw it out for another season.

Anyway, Joss has a lot on his plate right now, and better things to do than write for a small-time TV show. Go Firefly!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

You probably thought the KKK was bad

I'm all but speechless. I'm certainly no fan of ultra-Right conservatives, but am occasionally flabbergasted by the kind of filth they spout. I don't normally blog from work, but read this on my lunch break, and had to put it up.

I think these people need to be forcibly converted to Christianity ... It's the only thing that can probably turn them into human beings.

-- Savage Nation, May 12, 2004

The then proposes using biological weapons against the "non-humans" living the Middle East. He also said it would be a good idea to drop a nuclear weapon on an Arab capital -- any Arab capital. Then, in a fountain of vile irony, he called Arabs a bunch of "racist bigots."

The only thing he didn't do is call them "sand niggers" or "towelheads." What really saddens me, is the fact that, if that happens next, it really wouldn't surprise me.

Michael, why don't you get your posse, and just go out and grab the nearast Arab-looking man you can find and string him up from a tree? It's pretty much the same thing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

New links

Added links to two other blogs:

  • Electablog: I wish I was (a) as smart as this guy and (b) as good a writer.
  • Wonkette: Clever, raunchy, and funny as hell. She sounds like she'd be a hoot to hang out with.

They're both fairly political. You have been warned.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

I find this creepy

I was looking up vendor websites at work the other day, and came across one that had a small, strange graphic on it. The big goof off that I am, I looked it up, and came across the Fellowship of Companies for Christ, now called Christ@Work. They claim that their mission is to equip company leaders to operate their businesses according to biblical principles. I'm not sure what biblical principles would apply to a business, except maybe killing people that do work on Sundays. [Exodus 35:2]

They have a questionnaire on their website that tells you to what degree Christ is "@Work" in your company. One of the questions is, "You are providing a great witness to your vendors by ... paying them in a very timely fashion." How is this a particularly Christian virtue, other than just being a decent human being? Do, say, Jews not pay their bills on time?

Another great question they ask is, "You arrange for employee prayer time before, after or during business hours." Oh, now that's positively creepy. All employees will now report to the cafeteria for Communion.

My favorite is, "You allow God to run your business, and you try to stay out of His way." Well He had better get to stocking the shelves, we just got new inventory in. And I hope He is a good bookkeeper.

Really, is this appropriate for a workplace? OK, maybe if it's a family business where everyone can be expected to be a Christian, it's one thing, but in our society, there are people that aren't. Some are Christians, but aren't evangelical. Some are even (gasp!) Jewish. I feel very bad for anyone that works in such an unwelcoming workplace.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The nature of responsibility

These events occurred on my watch. As Secretary of Defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility.

-- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

That's what Rumsfeld said last Friday, May 7, when he testified in front of the Senate Arms Services Committee about the recent Abu Ghraib abuse scandal. But Dubya has pledged to stand by Rusfeld, said he's doing a great job, and that he won't fire him.

Today Rumsfeld visted Iraq and the Abu Ghraib prison where the abuse happened on his watch. Similarly, Congress got to see many of the rest of the photos which apparently contain the really bad stuff. That's right, the photos that have been shocked every civilized person across the globe weren't even the worst of the lot. Strangely enough, the administration isn't releasing these photos, apparently because it would violate the prisoners' rights to privacy and protection from humiliation. Right. I'm sure that's what they're really concerned about.

I wonder what's in these photos that's even worse that what we've seen. A Reuters article says that Congressmen that saw the photos saw no sign of "rape, murder or abuses of children." It's not clear if that means "rape of children, murder of children, or abuses of children," of if it means, "rape OR murder OR (abuses of children)." Pardon me for getting a bit geeky. The abuse that took place, however, did include forcible sodomy, so I'm wondering how that could be anything but rape, unless they mean it was with some sort of inanimate object.

(On a side note, I can't believe I'm sitting here calmly contemplating exactly how an American solider forcibly sodomized a person under his care. "Precisely what did you shove up the victim's ass, Private Smith?")

In a remarkable degree of foulness that astonishes even me, the Right is attempting to soft sell the abuse. Rush Limbaugh says, "You know, if you really look at these pictures, I mean I don't know if it's just me but it looks like anything you'd see Madonna or Britney Spears do on stage." I must have missed the concert where Madonna forcibly sodomized one of her backup singers. Also, I thank God that I don't get FOX News, because I might have come across (former Army interrogation instructor Tony Robinson saying, "...frat hazing is worse than this." Makes me glad I was never in a fraternity.

But to get back to the point of this post, Rumsfeld has accepted responsibility for all this. He admits should have known about it and done something about it, or done something to prevent it from happening in the first place. He's said that the buck stops with him. And nothing has happened. He hasn't resigned. He hasn't been fired. He hasn't been publicly disciplined by his superior (the President). He hasn't even been docked a freaking day's pay. So what does it mean to accept responsibilty for something like this? The obligation was his, and he failed in it. Responsibilities must come with consequences, otherwise they are meaningless.

I'm not saying that Rumsfeld -- if he truly is the one that is ultimately responsible -- must be punished just for the sake of punishing someone, anyone. But as I understand the Navy, the captain is responsible for the welfare of his ship, and the actions of his crew, even if he had no foreknowledge of them. It seems that the Iraq ship has run aground on someone's watch. Where's the captain now?

Comment test

This is a test post to see if the new Blogger comments work.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


There's a strange rumor going around that Simon Cowell is straight. What? Are you kidding me? With his signature tight T-shirts and Armani trousers, the man epitomises "bitchy queen."

Some of us don't have the best gaydar in the world, and we don't need straight guys messing things up for us, you know. Damn metrosexuals ruining it for everyone...

Monday, May 10, 2004


It's tragic, of course. But can you imagine being this guy in line waiting to get to Saint Peter, having to explain to the guy behind you how you died? "Yeah, a horse gave me a hickey SO big...."

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Five word movie review: Jackass, The Movie

For: Jackass: The Movie

Drunk men are really stupid.

(Although if these are a bunch of straight guys, they do seem to get naked and stick things up their butts a lot.)

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Let's just be Friends

Today is the series finale of Friends. I'll probably watch it, or at least have it on in the background, just because I don't have much else to do. Frankly, I lost most of my interest in Friends a couple of seasons ago. Once they started hooking up all the main characters with each other, it was pretty clear that the show had passed it's peak.

But for crying out loud, you'd think that nothing else was happening in the world. The morning news-lite shows were talking about it on pretty much every station, not just NBC; Dateline did a two hour special last night; and CNN has even picked it up. I guess the fact that there's a frickin WAR on is just too much of a downer?

People, it's a half-hour sitcom that's ending. A TV show. And not a remarkably good one, either. It's not the end of the world, and it's not really that big of a deal.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Well, the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison have pretty much ended any possibility of winning over the Middle East. It appears that top officials are shocked (shocked, I say!) that such abuses were going on right under their noses. That might have something to do with the fact that Gen. Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff still hasn't read the report on the abuses, even though it was written in February.

This only came to light because the abusers were stupid enough to take pictures of how they were dehumanizing their prisoners. Salon even reported on this in March, and it's only now it's really getting attention.

Makes you wonder what's happening out in Guantanamo.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Taking things just a bit too far

In one of those coupon circulars that come in the mail every so often, I noticed that one of the local chains is introducing a thin crust pizza. The best part is that they're advertising it as the current marketing flavor of the month, "Low Carb."

Good Lord, talk about jumping on a bandwagon. I'm all for people bettering themselves and taking responsibility for their health, but diet pizza? Is eating less and exercising more really that much to ask?

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Take two, even

Found this on Wonkette. It's most likely a hoax. I'd still as hell sign up, though.