Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


An American Werewolf in London is on AMC right now.

It features Jenny Agutter, who is kinda, yeah, um, rowr. Even today.

I Am Glad the Weekend Is Over So I Can Rest

This weekend was fairly busy. Not a lot of couch-sitting occurred. However, I did not take a single picture, even though I had a camera on my person much of the time, so I cannot prove any of the following happened (save for one instance).

Started off on Friday night at a Mardis Gras party in historic Leesburg. I was working security:

Joe Security

(No, not really.)

Saturday night, went over to Summers in Arlington to watch the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament rerun with the Irish, Adam, Jenny and Brian.

The guys in green won.

Afterwards, we went to the Four Courts, since, it is, after all, on the way home. We ran into, like, a thousand people from work in the back room -- they were gathered for a birthday party. It would have been rude to not hang out.

Of course, this put me in great shape for more rugby-watching the next morning. Live, Ireland vs. Wales, at Fado in D.C. Fortunately, the All-Day Irish Breakfast is fairly substantial.

Here's what's in the All-Day Irish Breakfast:
Two eggs, Irish sausages, rashers (Irish bacon), black & white pudding, baked beans, tomatoes and brown bread.

That's four different types of meat product. A wag in the group (who shall remain nameless, since he kicks up a fuss whenever he gets mentioned here), talked of ordering the vegetarian Irish Breakfast, which would be beans, tomato and bread.

I also ordered a Harp and Cider; as has happened before, I got two separate pints, as was not my intent, but fortunately, I was able to combine the two manually.

Now, the rugby was fairly interesting. I'd never watched a match (well, not since the night before). More fluid than football, less boring than soccer. On throw-ins from the sidelines, teams are allowed to hoist a guy into the air, causing me to speculate that American males with collegiate cheerleading experience might be useful in such a match.

One other thing I noticed was that the RBS sponsor logos painted on the field use a kind of forced perspective that's optimized for the TV audience -- they're square up on the TV, and it's kind of disorienting when someone runs across them.

Anyway, the Irish won -- I guess there's a kind of make-it, take-it when it comes to scoring, so once one team gets rolling, it's hard to comeback. We eventually headed back to Arlington and wound up back at Four Courts, since, it is, after all, on the way home. There was also some sort of St. Paddy's Day Parade fundraiser, so there was music, and kids doing traditional Irish dance. Also, the chair I was sitting on came apart under me, though I think Tom is somehow at fault.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Outlook Hazy

I almost forgot about this one.

Last year, we switched from Netscape Calendar to Microsoft Outlook for our shared scheduling system.

I was pretty late to use Netscape Calendar -- I was always surprised how irritated it made people when we were trying to set up a meeting and I (among others) said "I'm not in Calendar." Surprised, that is, until I started using it.

Anyway, we switched over to Outlook. I had problems from the start -- no one ever seemed to get the meeting invitations I'd set up, nor the responses I'd sent. The helpdesk folks couldn't seem to help me, so I just sort of lived with it.

This went on for the better part of year. I finally got tired of it, so I gave the helpdesk another call.

The reason why my meeting invitations and such weren't getting out to other people was that I wasn't sending them -- I'd never checked the box to automatically send stuff. It was all piling up in my Outbox.

Now, with Netscape Calendar, all appointments and such were automatically sent to the server. Not so with Outlook, which I eventually figured out is essentially just a fancy layer over e-mail.

I hadn't had a lot of dealings with Outlook, because we use a rather different e-mail client, and in my personal computing, I was mostly Mac, and tended to stay away from Outlook because of its reputation as a virus/worm transmission platform.

Anyway, I checked the right box, and the messages from a better part of a year -- acknowledgments and invitations for long-past meetings, over 120 of them -- all went out in a big long whoosh.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Beach Shack Saturday, Plus a Moratorium on Fun?

Yeah, I'm still working through my backlog of photos and blog entries. I'm still stuck on the President's Day holiday weekend.

It's kind of perverse, but I kind of feel like I have to stop doing fun things like go out to bars or museums, because that will ultimately result in more pictures that I will need to treat, upload and blog.

I realize that not everything needs to be documented. Like I said, it's perverse.

Anyway, I put up my Flickr set from Clare and Don's Beach Shack last Saturday. I actually uploaded it last night, but I fell asleep before I could blog about it.



Anyway, check out the entire set.

Apparently, Saturday night is Karaoke Night at the Beach Shack. The song list was fairly robust; unbeknownst to the people I was with (i.e. the usual gang of idiots), I put my name on the list, and when I was called, I got up and sang Dean Martin's "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You."

I was pretty confident it was in my range (according to Adam, I'm a baritone), based on my December in-car recording sessions; plus, as the DJ remarked after I was done, it's only a two-minute song (and 40 seconds of that is a musical break), so I didn't have to be on stage very long.

I turned in a fairly credible and non-humiliating performance, so I got that going for me. Also, my camera was in my jacket pocket while I was on stage, so there's no evidence.

Other than that, there was lurid talk (that I apparently missed); shots were consumed, and we closed the place down. I ended up dropping neuroscientist Rosalind off at her place in Georgetown, then Scott and I went to get some breakfast at Bob & Edith's Diner. (Actually, we tried IHOP first, but there was a line. It was also very, very cold that night.)

Scott texted Lon at 3AM -- oddly enough, he was still up, heading in from Baltimore via Georgetown, so he met up with us, so he too was able to see the Al Gore photo:


So basically, it was a late night.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Last Thing Tonight

Okay, so I posted my photos from Camilla's birthday party on Friday:


Neither one of these people is Camilla.

We were at Ned Devine's Irish Village, a genu-ween, authentic Irish village experience, except indoors and with more smoke machines after 9:30pm. You can see the rest of my observations of then evening, ruminations on the space, discussions of the photos and other random thoughts spread out over the 56 picture captions in the set.

With the completion of this set, this means I'm almost caught up on photos -- I just have to post pics from Saturday, and then... oh, damn, I took 187 photos Monday, from my trip to the Dada exhibition at the National Gallery of Art and the Hirshhorn Museum. So I'm even farther behind now, dammit.

Virgins From Hell!

It's been a while since I made it to Psychotronic Movie Night at Dr. Dremo's, but what better way to get back on track than with Tuesday Night's feature, 'Virgins From Hell'?

Virgins From Hell

Despite the lurid title, it's brought to us by those same Indonesian auteurs who brought us 'Dangerous Seductress', so don't go for graphic nudity (or any nudity, for that matter) -- go for the graphic, yet outrageously fake torture and violence.

Movie starts at about 8pm, be there and/or be square.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Thoughts About AMC

I'm fairly sure that the acronym for the AMC movie channel stands for Abundant Motherfucking Commercials.

Commerce or Culture?

Okay, decision time -- this being the President's Day holiday, and a day off, I have two primary options of what I'm going to do -- Culture or Commerce:

Culture would involve going east and getting over to the National Gallery of Art to see the Dada exhibition, then popping over to the Hirshhorn museum.

It's a little too cold, and I'm a lot too out of shape to bring my skates in.

On the minus side, it probably means more photos to add to the photo-processing backlog.

Commerce would involve going west to the Leesburg outlets and replenish my wardrobe, which at this point is about 25% Gap and 50% Banana Republic (damn them for their affordable yet relatively-well made business casual attire), which means that three-quarters of my wardrobe consists of Gap, Inc. clothes.

(Gee, I wonder if this will affect my sponsored links lineup.)

If I keep blogging about this, it will obviously be another form of procrastination, pushing Culture out of contention, and even Commerce, leaving the third option, Couch.

Before I started this entry, I was leaning towards commerce, but free parking in the Metro lots is probably tipping the scale over to Culture, which means I better get my ass moving.

Blogging Is Not a Chore

Personal blogging (as distinct from blogging for work, which is an entirely different animal), shouldn't be a chore. There aren't supposed to be deadlines, or a sense of obligation, or any sort of pressure at all.

So why does all of that sound like a lie?

Right now, it's 4:35 AM ET; it is safe to say I wouldn't be up right now doing this entry, save for the fact that tomorrow is the President's Day holiday, so this will be my second 5 AM bedtime in a row.

(I would write more about that, except that would be going out of order, and besides, I haven't uploaded those photos yet.)

If there is any sort of sense of obligation or pressure, I suppose it's all self-imposed, as there are probably less than a dozen people who see this blog in any given week.

Part of it is artistic pride, or something close to it. I like my ideas to make sense and my words to sound right; I like my sentences and paragraphs to be as tight and well-structured as I can make them, with the ideas and thoughts grouped together and in the right order.

With photos, I like mine to be treated right, so that you can at least see what's going on (even if it's just a snapshot). I like writing robust captions that provide a narrative and bring in outside information, so that they would at least be theoretically interesting to someone who didn't care about the subject matter (which is typically any random night out with my friends).

All this holds even if I'm the only person reading.

Even when you factor those rare times when people may actually be waiting to see the pictures that I've taken (or that have been taken with my camera), the only additional pressure is that of time. I don't think I work any differently when I know someone is going to see what I did.

Anyway, they say that the enemy of the perfect is the good, and that good enough is good enough -- I know, because I say it often enough. And this is just diarying writ large -- it's supposed to be ephemeral, raw, unedited, stream-of-consciousness.

I guess it's because I see a lot of shit blogs every day. Stuff where it looks like the creators didn't care enough enough about the content or the reader to do a good job, or even a passable one.

I don't want anything of mine to be anything close to that.

Meetup Catchup

So the Washington Blogger Meetup Group had its monthly meeting last Wednesday.

I went to last month's edition at McFadden's, but this was my first time at the regular location of Pharoah's on Columbia off 18th St.

I crossed over into the city without incident, though I then went through about 20 minutes of fruitless searching down tiny little side streets looking for a parking spot. Finally, it occured to me that the usual Adams-Morgan parking strategies would work, so I moved down the hill and found a spot off 18th and Florida.

The meetup itself was good -- Pharaoh's is a small place, and we sixteen or so had the run of the place. I wasn't very prolific with the photos, which are here:

At the Meetup

I re-met a few people from last time, including Amber of The Latest Obsession, Martin of Total Information Awareness, Jamy of Grateful Dating, and of course organizer Rob of The Goodspeed Update; I also met Leon of Yeah... I Said It and a few other folks, although I was a little slack and not as social as I should have been.

I'd also talked to Adriana beforehand; she was planning on going, but sick kid issues prevent her from attending this time.

Anyway, after the meeting broke up, I went with Amber and Michael (of Articulatory Loop) down the street to get falafel at the Amsterdam Falafelshop. It's small, a little tucked away even though it's right on 18th Street (probably overshadowed by the nearby big slice pizza shops), and has a very well-appointed condiment bar:


So, we ate and talked. The falafel was very good, though I probably went a little heavy on the garlic. Amber & Michael both work in science and research, so I was mostly listening, until somehow the topic of drunkenness, alcohol and the Asian flush came up.

Naturally, I was able to weigh in with anecdotal evidence about how taking Pepcid AC antacid counteracts the effects of the Asian flush; I let the scientists speculate as to why.

Afterwards, I headed back down the hill and towards suburbia. I met up with Conor and Scott at Clyde's and gave them a ride back after we closed it down.

Oh, I almost forgot -- the line of the night for me happened when I was talking to Amber (I think) -- I forget if it was at Pharaoh's or the falafelshop, but I was describing my blog, and I said:
"I have a cat blog, except I don't have a cat."

I will need to work that into my description.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Snow Photo Cliches

One of the perils of blogging for work is that after a full day's (call it a day and then some) work blogging and doing blog-related stuff, there are very few things I would rather be doing less than working on my own blog.

This is not a new phenomenon -- back in the dark, Web 1.0 ages, I found the same thing working on AOL.com.

Anyway, now that the snow has all but melted, here are my photos from last Sunday's snowstorm:

Snow Cliches

Pretty standard stuff; hence the title of the set, though there are a couple of interesting pics in there.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tits, but No Ass. (Ass. Ass. Ass.)

Saw this item linked from Fark; it's an article in the UK tabloid The Sun about how Kiefer Sutherland is considering (which means, probably joking about) doing an 'Airplane!' style spoof of '24.'

They feature a quote from an interview he did with ContactMusic:

"There was one scene where I was scaling the wall of the Chinese embassy and the dart gun in my holster fell out in the dark and went off and shot me in the a** halfway up the wall."

Now, even as a secondhand quote, keep in mind that this is The Sun, which is somewhat famous for its generous use of naked females breasts, in the form of The Page 3 girl [link NSFW, duh]. Yet they mask the word "ass."

I browse The Sun's Web site from time to time; it's hard to not click on a link that leads to naked, topless woman-flesh.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bough Down Before Me (or Snow Day)

So it snowed. Started late Saturday, which is why I stayed in instead of going to a birthday party last night, which I would have much rather done. However, given the way people drive in snow around here, I am pretty sure I made the right decision.

For example, I heard on the radio last night that one brain donor on the Beltway managed to knock one of the salt/plow trucks off the road.

Anyway, all told, we got around eight to ten inches.

It was pretty, white and pretty white when I looked out the window this morning.

I got up to shovel the sidewalk, when I noticed that the branches of the tree by my parking space were hanging pretty low, due to the weight of the snow and ice.

(I added "and ice" specifically so that last paragraph wouldn't rhyme.)

Snow Tree

In fact, the branches were touching my car.

I got a little closer and saw that the tree limb was more than bent -- it was cracked, and the branches were actually blocking my car in.

Snow Tree 2

Anyway, it wasn't too bad -- I took my saw and started cutting away branches. I was joined by some neighbors whom I hadn't met before -- Bob, Steve and Luis -- who gave me a hand clearing away the branches. So, I was able to hack off the offending limbs and clear off my car.

Since that bough has to come down anyway, I went back later in the afternoon and trimmed it down so I could resume parking in my space.

I will have to call the homeowner's association, since it's their tree, and that cracked bough and a few others will need to be pruned.

After shoveling the sidewalk, I went on a walk around the neighborhood, taking pictures.

Flickr has been flaky tonight, though, and besides, the laptop screen is a little too bright, causing me to make my photos too dark, so I will upload the rest of my snow cliche pics tomorrow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Car Trouble

Twofer today:

* Left the engine running at the Costco gas pumps while filling up. The attendant pointed out my error.

* On another leg, I started the car, then fiddled with something. Then I started the car again.

Haven't heard that grinding noise for a while.

Friday, February 10, 2006


"Mister Days has long been a problem, and now that someone's ear has been bitten off, it's evident that things need to be addressed," Weinress said, adding that the fight was one of a series of disputes fueled by alcohol.

From a Washington Post article about alcohol-fueled trouble brewing in the suburban entertainment hotspot that is the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington (or Barlington, which is my term that will catch on some day.)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Wearing Things Around Your Neck for Dummies

Last month, I was given a new badge lanyard.

Actually, what happened is I just took it and said "I'm stealing this."

I happened to take a closer look at the back of the clip. It comes embossed with instructions:

Lanyard Clip

I guess that kind of makes sense. Here is a picture of the front of the clip:

Claymore Mine

If you need printed instructions to use a lanyard clip, I get the feeling you'll be availing yourself of the breakaway "weak link" in the cord, which is included to prevent wearers from accidentally strangling themselves.

(I don't usually wear my badge on a lanyard, as I prefer to have people to focus on my beltline. That is, my waist and crotch area.)

So You Start Thinking, Then You Start Blinking

I have determined that when I wink, it looks as if I am experiencing a facial tic or eyelid spasm.

It's a little different from the little twitch I get on my lower eyelid sometimes after I've been up too long.

Corporate Blues

Good: Filling the dead air before a corporate Webcast with music.

Not as Good: Using Johnny Cash's "Cocaine Blues."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Dissatisfied with iTunes & MP3 Tagging

I am dissatisfied with my current scheme and taxonomy for cataloging MP3s (vis-a-vis iTunes). I am probably just doing it wrong, or unaware of folksonomic applications to iTunes and MP3 ID tags.

First, the quirks:

* iTunes's default category for Alternative is "Alternative & Punk." Not sure why "& Punk" is part of that equation. It annoys me. I am forced to delete it.

* Same thing with Electronic and "Electronica/Dance." (More on the Alternative and Electronic genres later.)

* When listening to a shared iTunes Library, there needs to be a checkbox to label or otherwise skip purchased music that requires authorization. It's very jarring otherwise.

* Speaking of jarring, can someone please write a program (or tell me about one) that shuffles music with an eye towards matching beats (with an acceptable plus/minus factor)? It's irritating to be listening to KMFDM or something of that ilk, then having it switch to something really downtempo.

There's no reason why this couldn't work across genres; a hard-rock piece might be followed by an uptempo classical piece.

Next, the more fundamental questions:

* Both my Alternative and Electronic categories are so big and inclusive as to be practically useless. So to with Rock; less so with Pop.

With Electronic, it's easier to subdivide, but honestly, I've read Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music -- which I find simultaneously fascinating and tedious -- and while the distinctions between the subgenres are probably useful to some, I am simply not that interested, possibly because I don't have Asperger's Syndrome.

Also, when you're using subgenres, it introduces another problem in that you can get so granular, that it becomes similarly useless.

* Mixed genre albums are similarly troublesome. For example, I will typically label Fountains of Wayne as "Pop," which is usually fine, until you get to "Hung Up on You," which is done country style. Yet genre tagging at the song-level is 8-12 times more annoying than tagging at the album-level.

* Classical music: I have no illusions -- I don't know that much about classical music. I get a lot more value from knowing the composer than I do from the performer or conductor. But in seems that most playlists and MP3 player displays are optimized for artist, album, and track name -- composer and performer don't really fit neatly into that. So what's the best naming convention to accomodate that?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Of All the Nerve

I just caught up on '24' -- I would say that I'm all time-shifty because I'm no slave to the network schedules, but I just haven't had time to watch.

Just wanted to note one thing: What's all this with the "weaponized" nerve gas? Is that to distinguish it from recreational nerve gas?

The term nerve gas doesn't typically require additional modification.