Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Friday, April 23, 2010

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Thursday, April 22, 2010


My watch (a Skagen) stopped working a few weeks ago.

I was in a mall when I noticed it, so I stopped by a watch kiosk. I figured the battery just needed to be changed.

The kiosk operator said it would take a half hour to get a new battery, which is an awful long time to change a battery.

Since the other nearby watch shop was busy with some buyers, and the kiosk operator was a pretty young thing, I just shopped around until it was ready.

No good, she said. The battery was fine-- the watch was broken.

Skagens have a limited lifetime warranty, so I sent it in. In the interim, I was without a watch; I know kids today use their cell phones for the time, but I just don't find that convenient.

Anyway, I just got my watch back today.

Of course, the service slip said: "Replaced dead battery."


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Things That Are Upcoming

First, let's see how I did with last month's Things That Are Upcoming:

* Shamrockfest: Yes. It was cold and wet. I still have to write about it.

* Transparency Camp: No. I just plain bagged on Saturday, and went to the Tidal Basin on Sunday.

* BMRC at the 9:30 Club: No. The show had sold out, plus it was on the night of the NCAA Men's Championship Final.

* Hot Lava at the Black Cat: No. I should have gone, though.

* Hirshhorn After Hours: Pending (tomorrow night). Got my ticket and everything.

Moving on...

* Saturday, April 10: 2010 MilBlog Conference [Sold out, LiveStream will be viewable here] -- I had been thinking about going; I last went in... 2007? Moot now.

* Tuesday, April 13, 5:30-10pm: A blogger Happy Hour. I thought it was all Leon, but it looks like it's not. He mentions an Adams Morgan parking secret (well, if you have to pay it's not really a secret), which I actually have passed during other fruitless searches for parking.

* FXA Kickball starts next week-ish.

* Saturday, April 17: PrivacyCampDC -- I've signed up.

* Wednesday, April 14: Fol Chen at the Rock and Roll Hotel. I almost definitely can't make it, as my Wednesdays are now booked for the next 2 months (will talk about it later).

* Sunday, April 18: Apples in Stereo at Rock and Roll Hotel. I should probably buy a ticket.

* Friday, April 23: Cowboy Junkies at The State Theatre. I bought my ticket. Haven't seen them up here in a few years.

* Saturday, May 1: The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race: Have I mentioned I haven't done up my video from last year? Why yes, I have.

* Wednesday, May 5: OK Go at the 9:30 Club. Those darn Wednesdays again. Maybe I can schedule around it -- be surprised if they don't sell out, they're pretty popular with the crazy videos and whatnot. (I remember seeing them open for The Donnas at the 9:30.)

* Friday, May 7: Herndon Friday Night Live kicks off the season.

* Saturday, May 15 (and Sunday, too): The Joint Service Open House and Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base. It's free, but it's kind of a hassle, with the buses and the security checkpoint and the hey laaaaaady.

* Thursday, May 20 is TEDxPotomac. I've been on the mailing list since the beginning, though I haven't done nothing. I should probably go.

* Friday, May 28, Jazz in the Garden starts

* Sunday, June 6 (D-Day), the Washington Post Hunt.

There, that oughta hold you little bastards.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Was Caught Showering in the Women's Locker Room of My Gym


"Attention Members! Locker Rooms are SWAPPED while the women's steam room is being rebuilt: Men use Women's; Women use Men's. Thanks!"

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Feeling the Hand of Fate this Final Four

Shockingly, I'm currently in first place in my office NCAA pool. All of our brackets got savaged pretty badly (special thanks to Kansas and Kentucky), so no one has more than two of the Final Four, and I'm the only person (out of 40+ in our pool) who picked Duke to win it all.

Basically, my fate in the pool hangs on Duke: If Duke wins, I win. Which is the way it should be. (I'm not 100%, but I think if Duke beats West Virginia, I win.)

Speaking of fate, I kept hearing that this year's Final Four was going to be played in Lucas Oil Stadium, but I didn't realize it was in Indianapolis until a few days ago. I have a connection to the Final Four and Indianapolis...

My sophomore year at Duke, the Final Four was also in Indianapolis, and a bunch of us drove there from Durham. (As I recall, we had to make it through a snowstorm. Don't remember much more about the trip.)

Looking to kill some time (possibly between the win over UNLV and the Final), we had dinner at a Pizza Hut, which had been decorated with a big vinyl banner that kind of looked like this:


Okay, make that, looked exactly like that. (I think the statute of limitations is up.) Anyway, suffice it to say, after the first one, armed with the yellow pages, our group went around to all the Pizza Huts in the Indianapolis metro area until everyone had their own banner.

It wasn't exactly a subtle piece of work.

Anyway, I can't say that I've gotten a lot of use out of it, (although the 1992 Final Four was in Minneapolis, so I was able to reuse the banner, with some obvious edits), but I could never bring myself to toss it.


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This Had to Be an April Fools Day Joke

I never liked April Fools Day. It encourages unfunny people to try to be funny. It never works.

This year, I had two strange episodes. Neither of them were pranks in the strict sense of the word, but I get the feeling that something was messing with me.

The first was getting an e-mail from the HR department of my former employer. It was about a soon-to-be-former employee getting his official separation date pushed back a few months. This was kind of odd, as I've been out for two-and-a-half years, and I didn't do HR stuff, anyway. As soon as I figured out it wasn't a joke or a phishing attempt, I busted out laughing.

Apparently, I'd corresponded with this person after my own layoff, and I guess my address was still in the address book, and autocomplete took care of the rest. Which explained why a joelogon.com address there sitting there in the middle of a string of corp addresses.

I got two mails before I was able to reply and tell them they should probably take me off the distro.

(Oh, and the mails didn't have one of those "if you're not the intended recipient of this mail, delete it immediately and shoot yourself in the head" disclaimer footers.)

The second episode involved a multimedia message from a phone number I didn't recognize. It is below:


Oh shit!!!!!wrong party!!!

Apparently, enough people thought it was funny that it was forwarded 11 times. I'm reaaaaally hoping I didn't get it from someone I know.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Locker Room Burrito Is a Lie

I went to the gym tonight for the first time since I hurt my back a few weeks ago. To avoid hurting myself again, I only did cardio, which I need to focus on anyway.

In the locker room, there was this flyer taped to the mirror. After reading it, I needed to take a picture. (Yes, I was that guy using a cellphone camera inside the locker room):

The burrito is a lie.

It's a flyer for the relatively new Chipotle in Reston Town Center; the promotion involves showing your Fitness First membership card there on Saturdays in March for a free burrito (or bowl, tacos, or salad); the picture features a burrito, with the caption, "More Than Worth Those Ten Extra Minutes on the Treadmill."

Now, according to the ChipotleFan.com calorie calculator, a standard chicken burrito combination clocks in at just under 1100 calories.

Using any given calorie calculator (say, this one at SparkPeople), 10 minutes on the treadmill, at a basic 10-minute mile pace (6 mph), burns about 100 calories.

Unless you can run at 60 mph (you shut up, Mr. Steve Austin), what the ad implies is off by a factor of 10. It's a lot closer to two hours than ten minutes.

This does not mean that I won't be there on Saturday to snag a free burrito. (Hey, free burrito.)

I enjoy Chipotle, but I like Baja Fresh more, mostly because I raid the salsa bar and use the extra red salsa in meatloaf, marinades, etc. (Hate the new condiment bags, by the way -- they suck. I used to be able to fit 8 salsa cups into one of the old paper bags.)

Anyway, I did 20 minutes on the treadmill (brisk walking at about 4.4 mph -- running makes my knee hurt), then followed with about 10 minutes of jumping rope.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Weekend of Crisis Fatigue and Back Spasms

I'd signed up for CrisisCampChile on Saturday, but flaked due to a combination of crisis fatigue, laziness, and despair at recognizing the futility of my own uselessness.

It's been a bad year so far for earthquakes.

Sunday morning started pretty well. The night before, had watched Duke *thump* UNC pretty soundly, and I was all set to possibly enjoy a warm-ish day outside (or at least as outside as one gets walking to and from parking lots).

I was making breakfast, when I had a particularly energetic morning coughing spell and all of a sudden felt a bolting pain over my right kidney and then folded up onto my knees on the kitchen floor.

It's happened once before, coughing my way into a back spasm after jacking my back during a workout (deadlifts this time, squats last time).

It took me a while to get back on my feet, and to limp over to the couch. It was pretty bad for a while -- I spent the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get comfortable and watching Life, Season 2 (which I'd mentioned picking up earlier.) For a little bit, I couldn't stand up without pulling myself up on a doorframe, which involved having to pad around on my hands and knees.

The little blue pill -- Naproxen (generic Aleve) -- didn't do much for me, but fortunately, Mom had given me a bottle of Excedrin Back and Body after the last time. It's basically buffered asprin and Tylenol, and it seemed to do the trick. Either that, or I'm a rapid healer (I'm not), or it wasn't as bad as I made it seem (it was kind of bad for a while).

So here we are.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Shamrock Fest 2010: The Year We Make Contact

[Note to self: Have not been making enough 2010 references. This is its moment: Don't make the same mistake as we did letting 1999 slide by.]

Shamrock Fest 2010 is coming up March 13, 2 Saturdays from now. I've been going since its days in Arlington, before it moved to RFK (and before I started getting a VIP pass hookup, see blogger disclosure notes at the end) and I'll be going again this year, with my usual bunch of friends.

The site touts 40+ acts on 10 stages, though to be honest, of all the years I've been going, I can't recall a single song I've heard. Okay, maybe a bit of Carbon Leaf last year, but it wasn't The Boxer. (I, personally, don't really go for the bands, which are more of a background ambiance thing for me -- I go to hang out with my friends, people-watch, take pictures, and run into people I know.)

Looking back at 2009, while I did do a preview entry featuring a Shamrock Fest Survival Guide, I didn't do a followup post featuring any photos or videos I took that year. (I could have sworn I at least posted them to Facebook.) So this look forward is actually a look back.

For 2009's Shamrock Fest, the weather was kind of dreary and rainy, though this year, I think we'll all be happy if it simply doesn't snow.

At public events, it usually takes me a few drinks for my camera shutter finger to loosen up (I start out sneaking candids), but after a while, people usually have no qualms about mugging for the camera, and I have no problem shooting them:


In previous years, in addition to the usual strange outfits, pretty girls and funny hats, I've picked informal themes. Last year featured a bunch of mini-themes:

DSCF5751 DSCF5776 DSCF5767

DSCF5788 DSCF5903

DSCF5799 DSCF5795

DSCF5798 DSCF5822 DSCF5764

Questionable Behavior:
DSCF5766 DSCF5851 DSCF5839

Oh, and there's a bucking bronco, too:

Anyway, we can only look forward to similar photo opportunities this year.

Blog Disclosure Note
Once again, I am getting VIP passes to Shamrock Fest, for which I am thankful (as I'd be going anyway) and which I am disclosing here, as in previous years.

Now, I know for a fact that some of my blogger brethren have had similar arrangements. While I'm not going to point any fingers, I can say that I haven't noticed any similar disclosures in years past.

While one can argue issues of transparency, government interference, payola, "newspaper reviewers get media access without needing to do ham-handed disclosures" and whatnot, with the FTC focusing in on blogger freebies, I suggest that now more than ever, the right thing to do is the right thing to do.

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Things That Are Upcoming

I haven't been to any concerts, and relatively few unconferences for a while. Since it's now officially March (bunny bunny, rabbit rabbit), here are a few upcoming things that I'm looking at for March and beyond (mostly beyond):

* Shamrockfest, Saturday, March 13. Separate entry about this forthcoming.

* TransparencyCamp 2010, Saturday and Sunday, March 27-28, GWU, DC.

* Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Monday, April 5, 9:30 Club. Saw them live from the wings at VirginFest in 2008.

* Hot Lava, Tuesday, April 6, Black Cat. They were one of the openers for Dressy Bessy at the Black Cat. I bought the album. They're pretty good.

* Hirshhorn After Hours, Friday, April 9. First one of 2010. Tickets aren't on sale yet. I haven't been to After Hours or the Hirshhorn for a while.

* Fol Chen, Wednesday, April 14, Rock and Roll Hotel. Have had them on my tourfilter watchlist since I heard about them on NPR.

* The Apples in Stereo, Sunday, April 18, Rock and Roll Hotel.

* The Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race, Saturday, May 1. Seems to be the official date, though the American Visionary Art Museum web site hasn't updated it yet.

This would also mark the anniversary, and my first trip back to Baltimore since my car got broken into at last year's race. (Also, I still haven't produced and uploaded the videos I took last year. If I try skating with the homemade fig rig again, I'll need to do something about wind noise.)

* TEDxPotomac, Thursday, May 20. I was at the organizational meeting at BarCamp DC, and have been lurking on the listserv and group since then, though I haven't really done anything for it.

So, it looks like things pick up in the spring. See you then.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I Considered Not Spamming You But Decided That Would Be Too Time Consuming

Got this e-mail from the Washington DC Online Marketing (SEO/SEM/Social Media) Group mailing list, which I apparently joined last year. I've never been to an event, and the listserv is mostly inactive, except for one bright light: a domain name broker of some sort who insists that his informative e-mails telling people which domains he's got available aren't spam.

Actually, that's what he used to claim. Now, he just says he can't be bothered to clean his lists, and you should just drive on if you're not interested. Here's the e-mail, redacted (against my better vengeance):
Hello Everyone,

I considered going through my emails one by one but decided that would be too time consuming [Emphasis added. He actually wrote this. And sent it. My interpretation: "Here's how much I care about my client communications: Fuck you."], so if after going through all my family ["Who I also used to annoy with my MLM knife sales pitches."] and vendors this email still finds you and domains do not concern you please feel free to delete or ignore this. ["I say again: Fuck you."]

Those of you who ARE in the domain industry ["Though I clearly have no idea who you are."], I will be sending out periodic lists of domains from here on out. ["I couldn't get anyone to subscribe to my ConstantContact trial account newsletter."] This will be a little unlike the other lists you receive where I will include generic domains at reasonable prices that I find but also traffic domains and websites I think are viable. ["I have no idea what I'm saying."]

Those of you who know me are familiar with my hard work and some sales such as R*******s.com, O*****g.com, F****R******.com, B****M***.com, V*****.com, F***S******.com and many more..

If you would like to be on this list please respond to this and I will add you ["Though, obviously, I won't keep track, as that would be too time consuming."], if this does not concern you or you do not care to see the domains I come across a few times a week than simply do not respond. ["In closing: Fuck you."]

Thanks for your two minutes and I hope to hear from you!


[name similar to a famous golfer]

It should be noted that I do contribute to the Network Solutions blog, and they sell domains, so this is kind of a full disclosure, but seriously, this guy is just an unrepentant douchebag.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Jack Bauer Tortured by Trope

First, a photo: Overflowing book drop at the Reston Regional Library (closed for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday):

I was returning two Charlie Stross books (Atrocity Archives and Missile Gap), and a few other people had beaten me there. I couldn't bring myself to leave the books outside, so I'll try again later.
* * *
In 24 news, I have to say that they're pretty close to losing me again. (Spoilers for Season 8, Hour 3). What did it was the sheer ludicrousness needed to squeeze in the police brutality scene: We're expected to believe that Officer Bullethead, upon getting the drop on an unknown guy (Jack Bauer) who's holding his partner at gunpoint (already a scenario which clearly justifies -- nay, demands -- deadly force)... instead chooses to tase him.

Okay, fine, a poor tactical choice at best, using nonlethal force like that... but then, he makes a big deal about having just tromped through the murder scene and how Jack is a copkiller who needs to be beaten to death so he doesn't skate on a technicality.

Got that? He's a rogue cop who's ready to turn to street justice. Yet when he sees a cop killer pointing a gun at his partner, instead of shooting him, he uses his taser.

It's a horrible example of lazy writing, using the police brutality cliche to justify a gratuitious "torture Jack Bauer scene." (Throw in the rookie redemption trope, too. At least the Asian guy gets to kick a little ass, eventually.)

Speaking of torture, the "I'm not going to cut the bracelet" line in the auto parts store was clearly meant to invoke "I'm gonna need a hacksaw" from Season 2. Although it's sort of interesting to see Jack on the other side of "I'll do whatever it takes," the writers are dipping into a dry well: Mole red herring; serial plots stitched together outlandishly (Yes, by all means, bring the weapons-grade uranium to the US -- the US is a great transshipment point for that sort of thing); annoying domestic subplots, etc.

Oh, and apparently, testifying in front of the Senate in open hearings does not preclude you from doing undercover work.

As I noted elsewhere, "suspension of disbelief" is accepting Freddy Prinz, Jr. as a tough guy badass field agent. This is just silly.

A few other things:

* Jack Bauer upgraded his messenger bag from canvas to leather

* Lastly, assuming that's where CTU: NY is located, might this finally make Roosevelt Island cool? Will we see a battle on the tram?

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Last Haircut and Metal Snow Shovel of 2009

The last haircut of 2009 (with bonus floating head goodness):


It's actually just inside the "too short/not short enough" range, as the sides stick up a bit. Though a few minutes of hat-wearing takes care of that (and that's not a problem right now, in this damned cold).

Ode to the Last Metal Snow Shovel:

My snow shovel, survivor of Snowpocalypse '09, broke in that bit of ice and snow we got just before New Year's:


I got it when I first moved into the house, so it lasted about 10 years. Truth be told, though, it was pretty much a few seasons past its usefulness: The blade was curled up at the sides, and rusted into a V-shape in the middle:


I was actually trying to unbend the blade when the handle snapped. Upon inspection, though, I noticed a smooth tunnel hollowed out into the handle, with a bit of shiny fuzziness inside (not visible in the picture):


This, was of course, the work of some sort of carpenter bee. And it was still in there. (Dead. Or really sleepy.) A few thumps on the ground dislodged it:


Thus, I was forced to buy a new shovel. I always swore I'd only buy metal shovels, but when I went to Sears, all I could find were these silly plastic-bladed monstrosities that'll be lucky to last a year or two. (Apparently, the metal-bladed Craftsman snow shovels sell out instantly.)

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Monday, December 28, 2009

After-Christmas Trip Report

Summary: The way down was a lot slower than the way up, but still not too bad.


Left home at around 3pm; there were a few reports of slowness on the NJ Turnpike, so I just skipped it entirely, taking Route 1 South (which is kind of like the built-up parts of Lee Highway, lots of lights, and just as jammed up in spots, too), to Route 295 South (smooth sailing).

Getting into Delaware, though, it was already congested in the usual spots, so I detoured down another Route 1 (Delaware), to go around and down via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Route 1 in Delaware has a bridge that's lit up nicely at night -- it's the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal Bridge (the Senator William V. Roth, Jr. Bridge). One of these days, I'll figure out how to take a good shot while (driving) in a moving car. I got a couple of crappy pics, instead:

IMG_2320 IMG_2319

The Bay Bridge route was uneventful (going through those small towns in Maryland can be kind of a pain, though). I took Route 50 in and cut through the District, to avoid any Beltway backups because of the football game.

Travel time, just under 5 hours.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Christmas Miracle (of Sorts) and Christmas Music Musings

GPS trip summary from Christmas Eve:


Wanting to avoid the bulk of the traffic, I left at 7:45pm (though I probably could have done just as well leaving a lot earlier, this being Christmas and not Thanksgiving).

I actually would have left 15 minutes earlier, but a neighbor's guest had gotten his BMW X3 stuck in a plowed snowbank -- isn't traction control supposed to keep that from happening? -- so I spent a few minutes helping to dig them out. Not sure how much I helped, but it felt right.

Anyway, I got in just at 11pm. Total travel time: Three hours and 15 minutes, averaging just under 70mph, which is really good for me. I don't usually go more than 80, the 90.2 max speed shown above notwithstanding -- I only did it to get past a left-lane hog on the 2-lane section of the NJ Turnpike; he keep speeding up to block me when I moved to pass.

Christmas Music in Review
I've gotten detached from Christmas as the years have gone by. I didn't send a single Christmas card this year, and could barely be bothered to stick a suction-cupped decoration light in the window. I guess that you really need kids to keep the full effect.

Another contributing factor is that I don't really listen to music on the radio very much any more, so I don't get to hear much Christmas music. I made an effort to seek out Christmas tunes on the drive up (aided by a dead cassette player keeping me from using my iPod), though it only reinforced the notion that broadcast terrestrial radio sucks (especially in that stretch around Delaware, in the zone between the DC, Baltimore and Philly stations).

Even with on-demand music mooting most of the old-fashioned seasonal rationing of Christmas music, it's still not a real Christmas to me, unless I hear a few classic tunes -- "classic" as defined by what was popular when I was 12-13, those formative years that lock in your childhood tastes:

* My must-hear song is Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas? which holds up really well, even with all the "Wow, is that really Bono/Sting/Boy George?" that comes with it.

* Christmas Wrapping, by The Waitresses. I always found it an amusing contrast to their other hit, I Know What Boys Like. It suffers from no lack of airplay.

* Feliz Navidad, by Jose Feliciano. Nothing more needs to said. I also associate it with the Christmas Eve on Sesame Street (they both come from the '70s and the song is used in the special), which I haven't seen in years, but still makes me tear up remembering it.

* A late entrant for me is Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas Is You. While it's a good song, I heard it an inordinate number of times on the drive up.

* A few Christmas songs that are good year round include The Kinks' Father Christmas, U2's version of Baby Please Come Home, The Pogues' Fairytale of New York (the last of which I don't really even think of as a holiday song).

* The Bing Crosby and David Bowie collaboration Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy, which is supposed to be part of the Christmas canon, but I haven't heard it on the air.

* Outliers from the era: Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen/We Three Kings from the 90s and the Beach Boys' Little Saint Nick.

There are a few others -- classic standards, mostly, and some of the lesser 80s songs, like Strange Brew's Bob & Doug Mckenzie's 12 Days of Christmas (though, notably, not Bruce Springsteen's Santa Claus Is Coming to Town -- never liked that one), but finally, Christmas for me isn't complete without this song:

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