Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Friday, September 30, 2005


I just discovered that for the past 4 weeks, the copy template I've been pasting from for a set of message board and blog posts has contained the typo "out", where it should be "our."

The Shirt on My Back

I am only marginally less guilty of doing this myself, but I'll say the following anyway:

I will be glad when it is no longer socially acceptable for men to wear patterned long-sleeve dress shirts untucked, with the buttons done and the sleeves down.

Dress shirt untucked

As you can see, I'm still not so good with the iron.

Closet Communist

When my mind is in neutral, I sometimes find myself whistling the Soviet National Anthem.

However, since they repurposed the tune to be the new National Anthem of Russia, I guess I am, at worst, a gangster capitalist.

Multi-State Fluid Problems

Yesterday morning, I was preparing my grits in the office kitchenette.

(It's the one that's really small and has an inconveniently-placed I-beam in the middle of it. If there are more than two people in it at the same time, you have to tango your way around.)

Anyway, I took the bowl out of the microwave (if you fill the bowl with hot water from the spigot on the coffeemaker, you only have to nuke it for 60 seconds, tops) -- it was a chili-style bowl with a flat grab handle -- and as I was setting it down, I jostled it, causing scalding hot grits to splash over my fingers.

Fortunately, the burn spray in the first aid box works pretty good.

Then, I went to the other kitchenette to get some ice (ours doesn't have an icemaker).

Immediately after I got to my cube, I dropped the cup of ice, spilling half of it out.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Siren Song of Ham, Salami and Provolone

Despite specifically bringing in a sandwich today, I willfully and deliberately bought a 14" Wegman's "Danny's Favorite" (a.k.a. an "Italian") sub, of which I ate half.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


DOMS is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It's what happens after a workout, especially when you've been slack like me and not worked out for a few months.

You're fine the next morning, then things gradually start getting tight -- say, 18-24 hours after you worked out. Not only is it soreness and tightness, but it's a whole feeling of restlessness. It's kind of annoying.

It's particularly bad when it happens in your legs, since you walk funny for a few days.

I've Been Had (or, First Taste's Free)

Apparently, Haloscan (the free comment provider I've been using) archives comments older than 4 months.

In other words, they disappear and there's no way to get to them.

At least, not without upgrading to a premium membership.

Want to see your archived comments to check if there's anything that needs saving? Upgrade to a premium membership.

After checking, I see that it does get a line in the FAQ, though I daresay that they don't go out of the way to tell you this.

Bye-bye, Haloscam. (Oooh, burn!)

Serenity Now

Firefly is one of those things that I know I should be into, but I'm just not.

Same thing with Family Guy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Dumb Things at the Harris Teeter

Stopped by the Harris Teeter after the gym. (First time in 8 weeks or so. In the words of Mr. Cardinale, my high school chemistry teacher: "I predict pain.")

I was going to pick up a rotisserie chicken, which is pretty cheap and will last a week. Tasty too, even after you pick off the skin and drain the fat. They didn't have any left, though.

Went to the deli counter (It's open until 10pm. The whole store is open 24 hours. I like Harris-Teeter.)

They had honey smoked turkey, two-for-one. Not half-price.

I was unclear on how cold cuts could be two-for-one, until the deli worker told me it was buy a pound, get a pound.

So, I'll be eating a lot of sandwiches this week (even after freezing a pound).

Also, I'm pretty sure I was overcharged on 4 cans of stewed tomatoes (made for chili), but I didn't feel like getting into it for two bucks.

Unanswered Questions

When sending an e-mail in an attempt to gain information, it is typically more useful if the intended respondent is included on the e-mail distribution.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Storage Math

I'm looking at external USB hard drives. Here's the question:

160 GB @ $100 (after rebate) = $0.618 / gigabyte


120 GB @ $70 (same rebate) = $0.58 / gigabyte

Note that we're well under a dollar per gig.

I remember not so long ago when a dollar a meg was a good price.

Napkin Entry #7: I'm Never Gonna ________ Again

(Still 9/24, still in Cafe Montmarte. My handwriting is getting a little hard to read at this point.)

I realize that this is self-defeating, and yet to pull in the obligatory and perhaps unavoidable geek quote (in this case, ST: TNG, BOBW part II):
When a man is convinced he's going to die tomorrow, he'll probably find a way to make it happen.


I wasn't talking about death. Maybe a little death. Or the little death.

Napkin Entry #6: Dearth of Late-Night Dining Options

According to rough estimates, I've eaten more Taco Bell in the past 3 weeks (especially their beef products) than I have in the preceeding 9 years.

Napkin Entry #5: Numb3rs

(Is that show even still on?)

98 does not equal 89.

Napkin Entry #4: Choices

So, I had a choice to make this weekend.

1. Go to the National Book Festival and be solitary among thousands of people (including the anti-war demonstrators) on the Mall

2. Go to Blocktoberfest in Arlington, to be crammed among thousands of people, but with friends.

I chose the latter. Only time will tell if I made the right choice.

If it goes according to type, no matter which choice I make, I will invariaby wish I picked the other.


Blocktoberfest was pretty good. Some interesting conversations and a lot of ogling. I punched out around 9pm, then spent the next 20 minutes trying to find my car. I'd even had a location written down (11th & Vernon, behind Eastern Auto), though I'd neglected to remember which direction off of Glebe Road it was, so went the wrong direction.

There was also a moment of confusion as to whether a particular street was one-way or two-way.

In hindsight, since I'd stopped by the Mazda dealership to pick up a new rear windshield wiper blade (they didn't have just the refill, so I had to buy the whole thing, though it was only 5 bucks more -- it's a weird size, so I couldn't just go to an auto parts store), I should have just asked to leave the car in the lot, it would have been much easier.

Napkin Entry #4: Call & Response

(9/24, Friday night at the Cafe Montemarte bar)

In passing, saw a cow-orker in the stairwell at lunch.

Me: What's the word?

Her: Not much...

This was not the expected response. Nevertheless, I was willing to maintain the polite fiction that it was acceptable.

However, she owned up to her misstatement instead of making her getaway.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Napkin Entry #3: Dumb Things From Kickball

(This should actually be Napkin Entry #0, since it happened 9/13.)

Kickball on Tuesday. To save the suspense, we won, 8-0.

I went 2 for 2, though #2 had significant dumbness.

I was feeling out the new pitcher, who put a mid-speed roller right down the middle. It was too late for me to kick it and it was going to be a strike, so I went to foul it off with a gentle tap.

Unfortunately, the gentle tap went right up the middle.

I hear myself say, "Oh, shit" and book towards first. I think I actually had to jump over the ball. Somehow, I end up on first base, plus they overthrow, so I moved up to second.

Next kick goes into right field, so I take off towards third.

Now, here's where I'm hazy. Brian was coaching third, and he either said "You're standing up" or he might have waved me on. In any event, I round third and head home, head down.

Halfway there, I look up, and I see that the ball is already there.

I dig in and back to 3rd. I'm almost there, I know the ball is coming at me, and I feel my legs start to give out. (I'm really out of shape. Also, the pregame beers may have been a factor.)

I dive towards third, half-diving, half-crawling.

I slap the base as the ball hits me on the bounce. Out.

To boot, I had a nice raspberry on my elbow, plus dirt impacted under my left ring fingernail. I think the oozing has mostly cleaned it out by now.


That was 9/13, and that's been our last game to date, since Fairfax County has pulled WAKA's field permits. The reason is unclear (though it wasn't for alcohol.)

Napkin Entry #2: Road Rage vs. The Mellow Burn

Leaving the office by the back road, I'm in the left lane, semi-truck slightly ahead in the right lane, which is a right-turn only onto gravel. I figure he's in the wrong lane and going to move over, and considering there's only 50 yards to the intersection, I decide to give him a break and let him move over.

BMW SUV bitch feels I've made the wrong decision, and lets me know with her horn.

Way to go against stereotype.

The thing about driving in this area, you can't really flip someone off, because you just find yourself in a meeting with them. Especially if you see the parking lot hang tag on their rearview mirror.

The rest of my drive home, I'm wondering what manager or executive was willing to piss off someone with whom they might have a future business relationship, for a momentary advantage in positioning that would be nullified at the next light.

Napkin Entry #1: Things from the 9:30 Club

(Sept. 14, down in the basement bar.)

Went to the 9:30 Club to see Mike Doughty. Didn't have a ticket, but figured it wouldn't sell out (sorry, Doughty). I was right.

I was in line to buy a ticket, when the woman in front of me turns around and asks me if I need a ticket. I say yes. She says she has an extra and hands me a ticket.

I ask her how much she wants, and she says not to worry about it.

She was so nice, that I almost forgot to give her back the receipt portion of the ticket (with her name on address on it).

Anyway, thanks Erin of Great Falls.

So, not really dumb, more of a karmic payback (to the dollar) for leaving my extra ticket from Over the Rhine the other week.

Then again, I left my cell phone in the cup holder of my car, so I fully expect to go back and see my window broken out.


It wasn't, oddly enough.

Good show, though he didn't play "His Truth Is Marching On", which I was really looking forward to. He did, however, play his cover of "Hungry Like the Wolf."

I was struck at how Doughty is once again fronting a four-piece, complete with upright bass, keyboard (with sampler) and octopus-armed drummer.

One incident was kind of strange. This girl behind me was apparently concerned that she was distracting me with her hooting and hollering (she wasn't, I had my earplugs in); towards the end of the show, she actually put her hands over my ears (briefly).

I was shocked enough that I ended up doing nothing. For the life of me, I can't recall what she looked like, to help determine if I should have.

Things Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

Old: Four cocktail napkins worth of entries.

New, Borrowed & Blue: The new blog template. It's one of the Blogger's canned templates -- "Snapshot Sable." I like it. Switching to it also seems to have mooted that stupid MSIE style sheet bug that I haven't had time to diagnose.

All I have to do is come up with some personally-relevant imagery for the header art. Oh, and tint it blue.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

(Non) Intelligence in the Internet age

As per boingboing, c(pipe)net News.com is running a thought piece on how technology is affecting our ability to think, asking: Is technology making us smarter, or dumber?
"It's true we don't remember anything anymore, but we don't need to," said [Jeff] Hawkins, the co-founder of Palm Computing and author of a book called "On Intelligence."

"We might one day sit around and reminisce about having to remember phone numbers, but it's not a bad thing. It frees us up to think about other things. The brain has a limited capacity, if you give it high-level tools, it will work on high-level problems," he said.

This is indeed a bad thing. Has the Butlerian Jihad taught us nothing?

(Other than, yes, I will use any excuse to make a gratuitous Dune reference.)

From where I sit, I think that people are pretty dumb (even smart people), and anything that causes us to use our brains less makes us dumberer.

Sure, technology can free us from the mundane drudgery of remembering things, spelling things correctly and doing arithmetic; if you think the brain is a computer with limited system resources, that may work for you. In fact, I'm going to forget how to spell "reminisce" so I can use those resources to go work out some orbital mechanics problems.

Maybe it's just my misanthropic view of human nature. Then again, I think history is on my side. The digital revolution gives us the Internet, potentially the most empowering, democratizing, liberating communications medium out there. It was supposed to be a utopia, and we use it to find porn. (I'm looking directly at you, Mr. Nicholas "Being Digital" Negroponte.)

In my nonexpert personal experience, the brain is more like a muscle than a computer. By doing stupid crap like algebra and spelling, you're training the brain for more rigorous applications. And if you stop doing the scut work, your brain atrophies.

I'm reminded of a Donald Rumsfeld quote, for which he got a lot of flak because it sounded funny, but which always made a lot of sense to me (and not just in the Yogi Berra way):

"Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know."

There's a difference between forgetting something, and not knowing you've forgotten something, or not knowing something, and not knowing that you don't know it. If you don't remember a phone number, is it because you can remember and simply choose not to, or have you lost that capability completely? I think that losing the capability makes us less human.

This doesn't even take into account the observation that technology tends to fail us at the most inopportune times.

Perhaps it's just my own fears. I rarely use spellcheck, but I was seriously hobbled when AOL's dictionary interface recently changed, disallowing wildcard lookups. I hadn't realized how much I relied on it as a crutch. (Fortunately, it's back now.)

I make a conscious effort to balance my checkbook by hand, but I always use a calculator to check my work. And I usually find something wrong, in the form of a stupid arithmetic error.

I remember working as a cashier at Barnes & Noble; the power went out, so we went to hand calculators and sales slips. (Nowadays, they probably would have just closed the store.) I had an unbelievably hard time making change, especially when someone would give me extra money so they'd get change in a more convenient form. (I do this all the time, and the responses range from disbelief, to a resigned "I don't care, the computer will tell me what to do.")

I'm out of things to say, so using the time-honored device of hacks everywhere, I am going to close with a quote, also from Dune, so I don't have to come up with a conclusion of my own:

"Thou shalt not make a machine in the image of Man's mind"

Quick Hits of Dumb...Stuff

* I have about 4 entries worth of stuff written on paper napkins that are currently sitting in my notebook, waiting to be typed up.

* I've finally left the world of dial-up behind, having ditched my wizard.net account today.

* Baja Fresh guacamole is a lot better the first day.

* Instead of a regular Diet Coke, I mistakenly bought a Diet Coke With Lime Flavor, which is one of the more disgusting things I've ever drankened.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mellow Burn

It's been a pretty stressful week, with work and the Verizon and hey laaaaaadyyyyy and all that.

To counteract this, I just burned a CD that's very calming. I call it the Mellow Burn.

Here it is, with notes:

 1. Rilkean Heart, Cocteau Twins
 2. Bluer, Over The Rhine (currently obsessed with this song)
 3. Fool For A Country Tune, Dusty Trails (with Vivian formerly of Luscious Jackson)
 4. God Song, Beth Orton (obsessed with this one, too)
 5. The Nightingale, Angelo Badalamenti
 6. More Than This, Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music
 7. Five Room Love Story, Cowboy Junkies
 8. Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, Spiritualized
 9. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Elton John
10. His Truth Is Marching On, Mike Doughty
11. Flower, Liz Phair (more on this one later)
12. Thinking About Tomorrow, Beth Orton
13. Prom Theme, Fountains Of Wayne
14. Heroes In June, Echobelly
15. Running To Stand Still, U2
16. No Need to Argue, The Cranberries
17. Stay, Belly
18. Yours And Mine, Fountains Of Wayne

I really struggled with limiting it to two per artist, tops. Otherwise, it would have been all Cowboy Junkies, Beth Orton, Over the Rhine, and Cocteau Twins. But that's why they have groups of songs called "albums."

It is so calming, in fact, that an unintended consequence has been endangering my life while driving, since in DC-metro traffic, a relaxed, nonaggressive driver is otherwise known as a victim, sucker or target.

Nevertheless, I share it with you. Listen while driving at your own risk.

Dumb Purchases I Have Made Recently

My credit card statement is going to be pretty eclectic this month. Also large.

Recent charges include:

* Hurricane Relief

* High-Fidelity Ear Plugs (for better concert-going experiences)

* Replacement batteries for my obsolete 2-megapixel digital camera (ebay).

* Cable modem

* Wireless router

(These last two items will also have me in Rebate Hell)

* Another flashlight that I don't need

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Somebody Else's Problem

So the outside line person didn't come on Saturday.

Came around on Sunday. I had been planning to go to the Adams-Morgan Festival, but I was so very, very tired.

Turns out that the line was never properly grounded (which is probably why my phone got fried a year or two back after a lightning strike), though that's probably incidental.

Oh, and there's a problem with the underground splice. Probably.

What's that mean? Well, they have to call Miss Utility, wait a few days, get everything marked, dig shit up, and eventually fix something. Probably get it all wrapped up in a week or so.

I give up.

Have I mentioned I'm one of only three people left in America who doesn't have broadband at home? Which means I'm cut off.

I Didn't Need a Landline, Anyway

My people have a saying:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, it's time to swtich to Cavalier Telephone.

Fucking RBOC Verizon.

So after cancelling my service appointment on Thursday, I had a super-special manager's service call appointment, with an almost-unheard of 4-hour service window (between 4pm and 8pm).

They'd left me two messages in the morning, and another one at 5pm, making extra sure I knew about this, so I thought I was in good shape.

At about 7:30, I started getting worried.

At 8pm, I was livid.

At 8:30pm, I had calmed down enough to call the service center.

I asked them what happened to my appointment.

"Oh, it looks like the tech had to postpone it to the following morning."


To make matters better, the service window was 8am to 6pm.

So we've gone from 8 hours, to 4 hours, then up to 10 hours.

"Well, you're the fourth call on his list, so he'll probably get there around 11am."


I went to Cafe Montmarte and got...well, not hammered, but there was some drinking involved.

It was pretty lively there, too. In fact, when I left Lake Anne after midnight, for some reason, it looked like a Fairfax County Police Department social gathering.

Skip ahead to Saturday.

Tech gets there around 11am. So far, so good.

Looks at the box outside. Tests it (which I can't do, since it has an old 4-wire connection, not a modular jack).

He tells me the problem is with the lines somewhere outside the house. That's fine, I already knew that.

Unfortunately, he's an inside-line guy. So he has to call it in. But the outside line folks aren't going to be that busy, so they'll probably get here today, and I don't have to be there.

Saga continues....

Thursday, September 08, 2005

An Open Letter to RBOC Verizon

Dear RBOC Verizon,


There, look, you made me swear.

That's for making me wait 5 days for a service call, and then canceling the service call somewhere along the line because your automated line testing showed the problem was "resolved."

It's not.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Note to Self

Dear Dateless Wonder,

Before purchasing tickets to a show, please to make sure it's not in the middle of a three-day holiday weekend prior to getting two.



(Over the Rhine at Jammin Java, if you must know.)

Verizon Will Always Be Hell Atlantic to Me

On Saturday, I discovered my landline was dead.

I called up Verizon. Since it was Labor Day weekend, I figured might be a while until they could get a tech out.



This was on Saturday, mind you.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

So This Is Getting Old

Had a kickball double-header on Tuesday.

No sliding. No diving.

Just a little running.

My ribs are still sore.