Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm Joelogon, and I'm a Serial Head-Tilter

The Weird Universe blog this week looked at the phenomenon of people tilting their heads in photographs.

There have been a few recent notable examples of this (by people famous for being famous [warning, audio], but the researchers found that head-tilting in pictures dates back to medieval paintings. They suggest that it's a submissive gesture:
This finding supports the idea that head canting is strongly connected with the expression of submission, appeasement, ingratiation, and request for protection... In contrast, in paintings portraying nobles, professionals, and artists, head canting was minimal or absent.
This is a little disconcerting, since I seem to recall tilting my head in, oh, one or two photos. Let's look at the photographic evidence from some of my Flickr pics -- here's me at the Vaynerchuk-Scoble event at 1223 in July:


OK, maybe I'm just trying to snuggle up next to JC. How about a solo shot? (In formal wear, to boot):


And with company:

Getting laid off from that company:


With Fark's Drew Curtis:

Next to the Wienermobile:

Wearing a hat:

Next to someone wearing a hat:

With girls:

With guys:



So, it appears that I'm a chronic, serial, unrepentant head-tilter.

(And this is just a small selection, with just the photos where I'm not explicitly trying to fit into the picture, or taking a photo of myself.)

Maybe I have an equilibrium problem (I note that alcohol is involved in most of these photos).

However, I think it's mostly because I'm trying to get closer to the person I'm next to. This could be because I'm an emotional basket case; alternately, it could be because I'm usually shorter than the person I'm next to.

I wonder what the researchers have to say about Mouth-Open Girl.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Followup: Washington Post LiveWire Spam -- Oopsie

Here's a followup to my impotent fist-shaking about the unsolicited, opt-out Washington Post LiveWire DNC coverage e-mail from yesterday -- after a serendipitous encounter with a Postie (and former AOLer) familiar with the situation, we can safely invoke Hanlon's Razor:
Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
As I suspected, the opt-out e-mail blast was a mistake, accidentally sent to the wider audience instead of the smaller one. It seems that there was a bad call by an inexperienced staffer, combined with a lack of process and control.

Admittedly, it was something of a tempest in a teapot; part of the reason why this perceived violation was so noticeable is that, to date, WashingtonPost.com has been a trusted source (at least, when it comes to self-marketing). For such a rookie mistake to appear was... jarring.

Additionally, as I had surmised, my blog entry is currently the #1 search result for the term post livewire. So I got that going for me.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two Weeks of Blog Paralysis and I Come Back With This?

It took a mild case of impotent self-righteous blogger outrage and a wonderfully ridiculous gym excuse to get me out of my unintentional two-week blog hiatus.

It's not like there wasn't anything worth writing about (there was), or that I was somewhere exotically inaccessible (I wasn't) -- I was just somewhere in the mushy middle, buried under an ever-growing slushpile of things to talk about, as well as an ever-growing list of things to keep procrastinating upon.

I'm still underemployed (by choice, mostly), and I wonder how I ever got anything done when I wasn't. And mind you, I was pretty good (which is to say, bad) about subsuming my personal life into my work life.

Anyway, the time just keeps getting away from me.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

You Don't Have to Go to the Gym If It's on Fire

I was going to go to the gym today, really I was. But then I saw this on the front door:

"Fitness First is CLOSED DUE TO FIRE..."

The Fitness First Web site says, "Reston, Virginia - Due to a fire, the club will remain closed until 5 am, Tuesday, August 26th. Group exercise and free weights will remain closed for approximately two weeks."

I guessed that someone was just too darned fast on the treadmill, though a fellow thwarted gym-goer suggested it was due to a fat lady wearing corduroy pants, which I find unlikely.

I've been to the Fitness First in Tysons Corner a few times, which is close to my work site. It's newer, bigger, and nicer, so it works out pretty well -- I can still get an afternoon workout before I head into Arlington or DC (for a change, it looks like I chose wisely).

Anyway, I went home and got my skates (which of course I'd taken out of the back of my car) and went on the W&OD Trail (my usual route, from Reston Parkway to Route 28 and back). It smelled like rain, so I almost cut it short early, but ended up sticking it out. Yay, me, although my feet hurt now.

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Washington Post LiveWire: All the convention news you need -- whether you want it or not

As I Twittered a few hours ago, I got a "Convention Update from Post LiveWire" e-mail, and I'm pretty damn sure I didn't do anything close to subscribing to anything remotely like it.

Checking my Washington Post e-mail preferences, as well as a reply from another Twitterer, confirmed this.

Looking at the mail header, it comes from bigfootinteractive.com; Bigfoot Interactive is an e-mail marketing firm that's now part of a larger marketing company, Epsilon.

I bounced it over to my Gmail account (it went into the spam folder, shockingly), which revealed an Unsubscribe link that didn't show up in PINE (yes, I still use PINE, which is still not ELM). I clicked the link, and all was revealed:

Washington Post LiveWire e-mail optout
Washington Post LiveWire e-mail optout screen.

Note the page title in the browser: "Optout."

Optout. Now, I don't care if it was a mistake, a one-time thing, or a rogue marketer -- there's nothing that will set bloggers to wiggling their tiny, Cheeto-stained typing fingers in impotent blogging rage than an e-mail marketing opt-out.

It could be an urgent evacuation notice giving the best route to high ground to avoid the oncoming asteroid-induced tidal wave -- if I didn't subscribe to it, I don't want to see it.

I find it somewhat ironic that this would happen on the very same day that the Post featured a story about companies using blogs and other social media to reach out to customers ("Marketing Moves to the Blogosphere" -- it got more than a little blog traction here because it name-checked some of the usual area and marketing bloggers.)

Especially since bloggers and blog readers -- the very users who companies try to engage using social media -- are the most enraged by things like opt-out marketing e-mails.

Anyway, as I'm in this annoyingly-vocal, self-important and overinflated minority, as I finish this little impotent screed, I can only take solace in imagining that, thanks to the voodoo that is SEO, this entry will show up somewhere in the future on the first page of results for "Washington Post LiveWire."

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Galactitags: Quite Possibly the Geekiest Thing I Own

Way back in the mid- to late-'80s, I was reading a copy of Omni magazine in the school media center (the high-falutin' successor to the term "library", the place we now know as "where students update their MySpace pages away from home or the Apple store.")

Omni was a pop science magazine that looked as if it were published by a softcore pornographer, because it was. (Bob Guccione of Penthouse, et al.)

Anyway, there was a blurb for a product: "Galactitags" -- dog tags stamped with the pulsar map that's on the Pioneer plaque. The gimmick was that, in the event you were abducted by aliens, if you managed to escape and flag down a Good Samaritan alien, the pulsar map would be enough to guide you back to Earth. (Additional gimmick: Money-back guarantee if the tags couldn't get you back to earth.More in a 1987 NYT article about various gimmicky things.)

It was peace of mind of sorts, for only $11.95 (or so) plus shipping and handling. Also available in gold or silver plate.

Also naturally, I had to have them:


Now, the clinking and rattling got annoying after a while, so I put some rubber silencers on them. Also, because of metal allergies, I had to swap chains and cut some clear plastic report covers to keep the tags off my skin. It got very complicated.


Anyway, I still have them.

The Galactitags.com domain isn't active right now, so I don't know if you can still get the originals, but there's at least one, similar knockoff: Location Earth Dog Tags.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Unnecessary Followups: Steak & Ale, Stinky Bandages

I should have mentioned this last week (when it would have been mildly relevant, since news of the Steak & Ale bankruptcy had just come out), but I worked at Steak & Ale the summer after I graduated from college.

Yes, kids: The economy stunk on ice back in the early '90s, too. Suck it up.

I was doing an internship in NYC weekdays, then working part-time nights and weekends as a prep cook. It mostly meant making salads, so I learned how to use a chef's knife properly (at least, when it came to vegetables.)

Anyway, I still have the t-shirt:

I never did eat there, though.

In other followups:

* The smell emanating from the Tegaderm bandage covering my road rash has progressed from sweaty fat guy to dead, sweaty fat guy. It's seriously making me ill. Fortunately, it's starting to itch, so I don't think I'll need it for much longer.

* DCRTV reports that 94.7 The Globe will be switching formats back to classic rock. If true, this means that my prediction wasn't wrong -- just late. (Eight months late.)

* In spite of my earlier doubts, it looks like I will, in fact, be headed to this year's Virgin Festival. So I got that going for me. (To keep things even, I missed out on Saturday's Fark Party at The Big Hunt, which I had been "definite" for, due to two competing birthday parties sandwiching it.)

* DCist notes that the City Paper reports that the WAKA vs. DC Kickball suit was quietly settled back in April. Commenting representatives of kickball365.com (Motto: "A forum for people who take kickball way, way too seriously") haughtily note that they reported this in May, to a resounding chorus of chirping crickets.

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Now I Remember Why I Used to Wear the Long Socks for Kickball

My team played in the Fairfax Athletics Co-Ed Adult Kickball Spring 2008 finals last Thursday.

We went in undefeated (which I was a little ambivalent about -- did we really want to be "those guys" in a social league?), but it was a close game -- a real pitcher's duel. I fielded first base, had a few good catches and fielding plays and otherwise didn't screw up.

Both teams were scoreless going into the 7th, so overtime rules went into effect, with batters getting 1 strike, 1 ball, or 1 foul (2 for women). That was a little stressful, especially since I hadn't been kicking well. But somehow I got on base, got advanced to second (taking a kickball to the face in a veeeery close play), then got RBI'ed in for the winning run, which was pretty cool. And then we celebrated at the bar.

In the third or fourth inning, though, I'd slid into second base -- not only did I still get out, but I got another raspberry/road rash for my trouble:

Emo road rash guy.

It wasn't too deep, but it was enough to make me not want to slide again, which is why getting to second in the 7th was a lot closer than it should have been.

Wound Care: Treating Road Rash With Tegaderm
I got one of my first kickball raspberries in 2004. After that, I started wearing long socks and was okay for a while, though that didn't help me in 2006 (which is also when I learned about using Tegaderm instead of ointment-and-gauze).

I didn't rock the long socks this season because it was a more relaxed league. Silly me.

The abrasion wasn't that deep, so when I got home, I thought I might be able to get away with a spray-on liquid bandage. You know the kind that doesn't sting on open wounds? I had the other kind. It wasn't fun.

The next morning, I saw that I needed a more substantial covering, so I re-cleaned the wound and covered it with two 2-3/8"x 2-3/4" sheets of Tegaderm that I had, patching them with a couple waterproof band aids.

If you read what's out there (search tegaderm road rash -- you'll get lots of biking and skating forums) you'll see the theory behind using the plastic bandages -- basically, it keeps the wound moist so a scab never forms -- it'll grow new skin faster, with less scarring.

In practice, it's like having a big plastic blister, especially when it starts filling with ooze. And, it's transparent, so you can see what's going on. It's really gross. Especially if it leaks -- it can get pretty rank. Which is why you also might want to cover it with paper tape and gauze.

Mine was starting to get gamey by Sunday, so I decided to upgrade to a larger bandage -- 4"x6", with padding in the center (they sell them in single packs for $4 at CVS -- it's worth it -- I didn't know they carried them in the larger sizes).

The pad also covers the wound, so you don't have to look at it so much.

Anyway, I'm using this as an excuse to take a break from working out. But a few more days and I should be back to normal.

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