Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, October 30, 2003 7:32 pm

Heard on my deck earlier tonight during pumpkin carving

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 7:32 pm

“No, in fact, it is not a rotten spot. It is an exit wound.”

Wednesday, October 29, 2003 9:10 pm

Polite company

Filed under: Woohoo! — Lex @ 9:10 pm

“Sweetie, know what we’re gonna do tomorrow night?”

“No, Mommy — what?”

“We’re gonna carve pumpkins!”

“YAY! And scoop out the — “

“P-p-p-p-“

“I can’t remember.”

“The pulp.”

“Yeah, the pulp.”

“Good night, sweetie.”

“Good night, Mommy.”

(door closes)

“Hey, sweetie?”

“Yeah, Daddy?”

“You know what another word for pulp is?”

“No.”

“Pumpkin guts!”

(giggles) “Pumpkin guts?”

“Yup, pumpkin guts. Now, that’s not the kind of thing you want to say around other grownups or polite people. Around them you want to call it ‘pulp.'”

“OK.”

“But if it’s just you and me, you can call it pumpkin guts if you want.”

“OK, Daddy.”

“Goodnight, sweetie. I love you.”

“Goodnight, Daddy Pumpkin-Guts.”

Serpent’s tooth, meet my skin

Filed under: Why, yes, I AM a bad parent. Why do you ask? — Lex @ 9:04 pm

Hooper: “Daddy, turn on music.”

Me: “OK, buddy.” (singing along) “Tell me you will try/To slip away somehow/’Cause I need you, darlin’/I want to see you right now.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy!”

Me (singing along): “Can you slip away/Slip away/Slip away-ay-ay-ay ah,/I need you so.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy! Hurts my ears!”

Me: “What?? Buddy, people actually used to pay your daddy money to sing to them. Granted, most of ‘em were higher ‘n paper kites, but still.”

Hooper: “No, Daddy! You make my ears sad!”

Me (sighs): “OK, buddy. I won’t sing anymore.”

Hmph.

Hee

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:59 pm

When passive-aggressive drivers go bad.

Monday, October 27, 2003 8:59 pm

Battered but unbowed

Filed under: Tigers — Lex @ 8:59 pm

The Tigers played their best game of the season on Saturday … and still got killed.

The other team wasn’t particularly good, with one exception who was phenomenal: a little girl, even shorter than Victoria (who’s the shortest girl on her team), who had more speed and better ball-control skills than anyone else on the field. In fact, I think she could’ve been competitive with 9-year-olds.

I know for a fact that there’s only one other person I’ve seen execute a 135-degree cut with the speed and grace she showed … and that was the late Walter Payton.

I think the final score was 9-3, and this girl scored seven of the other team’s goals. Victoria had a goal, and if soccer recognizes assists, then she had assists on the other two. She also made some stellar defensive plays, including at least two that prevented goals, and was the only Tiger who could even come close to keeping up with the other team’s little star’s breakaways.

Hard to believe, but the last game of the season is this Saturday. Memie will be here for it. Note to self: This time, let’s remember to bring the camera.

Something special?

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 8:52 pm

I’m pleased that the Panthers beat the Saints on Sunday, of course. But I’m even more pleased that the team did something I’ve never known it to do: It played a not-so-good game and still managed to beat a not-bad-at-all opponent.

Sunday, October 26, 2003 8:56 pm

Whose child is he again?

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 8:56 pm

How sweet is my 2 1/2-year-old son? I’ll tell you how sweet he is:

Ann was in bed with a bad cold. He figured that if he likes to have a ceiling fan on when he’s in bed, she might, too. So he goes to big sister’s room, drags the chair from her desk into our room, climbs up on it and turns on our ceiling fan.

He must’ve gotten all that nice from me because Ann still has hers.

Friday, October 24, 2003 9:22 pm

Dear America

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 9:22 pm

Army Sgt. Garth Talbott of the 82nd Airborne has written a letter home in which he asks some good questions.

Thursday, October 23, 2003 7:01 pm

Sushi, or she sues

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 7:01 pm

Sushi is in the news this week. Rather, it shows up in two stories that are really about something else and might be far more related than just the involvement of raw fish.

First, there’s the meticulously researched sushi memo, in which a paralegal at a high-dollar Manhattan law firm prepares advice for a lawyer on where to go for good raw tuna. The lawyer apparently had ordered up the research after getting a bad order of takeout.

“This is what people fear,” said an associate at another law firm, speaking generally and anonymously out of fear of partner retribution. “It’s some sense of arbitrary, dictatorial relationship that we all fear goes on between bosses and their underlings. People really do make people do these things.”

I seriously doubt I’ll ever become a lawyer, but if I ever do and ask a paralegal — or anyone else, for that matter — to do something this ridiculous, someone please smack me.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles (where else?), the hottest catering trend is body sushi, “a very special presentation during which pieces of sushi [are] served on the mostly naked prone* body of a very lovely young model.”

*I’m pretty sure, to judge from this picture, that the writer meant “supine,” which means face-up. “Prone” means face-down, although it’s frequently used to refer to any lying-down position. I know this because when I used to target-shoot, I shot from the “prone” position. I was not allowed, despite repeated entreaties, to shoot from the supine position, and I’m still kind of bitter about that, but that’s a post for another day.

But both the subject and the article say it’s not about sex. Really:

First of all, [chef Gary] Arabia points out that the photo does not in anyway truly capture the tenor of the event. And it’s true that even the most benign photos can take on a pornographic cast when viewed on the Internet — something about the lighting. Body sushi, Arabia says, must be considered in context. “This is a celebration of beauty and food and environment,” he says, leaning over a plate of very delicious crab cakes in his restaurant on the Warner Bros. lot in Hollywood. “It is about the beauty of the food and the beauty of the woman. This is not a bachelor party experience.”

I doubt that, but more on that in a moment.

The story doesn’t say how much the model gets paid for her 3-hour gig, but I’ve got to wonder whether it’s enough: The job seems to combine an exquisitely distasteful combination of physical discomfort and spiritual debasement in the form of public humiliation:

A sushi girl is required to lie perfectly still for three hours. There is a pillow for her head and she may speak to guests if she wishes, but mostly she has to concentrate on steady breathing and other muscle control.

Arabia stresses that in body sushi, the food is the star. But looking at the photos Arabia has in his portfolio, which are similar to the one on his Web site, it is difficult to keep one’s mind on the food. I found myself contemplating the often unpredictable nature of the human body and its many necessary but unappetizing biological duties (the “other muscle control” referred to above). Three hours seems an awfully long time to impersonate a piece of dinnerware, even with great abs. One also wonders where exactly “body sushi girl” fits in on the resume or if the full nature of the young woman’s job description has been relayed to her mother.

For crying out loud, if you’re going to take off your clothes and put food all over yourself, shouldn’t it be fun? I say let’s keep getting-nekkid-and-being-covered-in-raw-food behind the bedroom door, where it belongs.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003 8:02 pm

Bzzzzzzz

Filed under: Fun,Geek-related issues — Lex @ 8:02 pm

It probably won’t be up much longer, but this e-commerce site set up by a biz-school classmate of Ann’s as a class project is pretty cool. I’ve got a bit of javascript that does something similar with my computer’s day/date settings.

UPDATE: This one is pretty entertaining, too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003 7:27 pm

Protect your right to vote

Filed under: Black-box voting — Lex @ 7:27 pm

(UPDATE: I was going to be keeping this post up top, but permalinks are more important.)

For the first and probably only time in this blog’s history, I’m going to try to sell you something. But what I’m selling is so important that I’m also going to tell you how you can get it for free.

It’s a book, “Black Box Voting: Ballot-tampering in the 21st Century,” by Bev Harris. The book documents that so-called “touch-screen” electronic voting machines, far from being our means of delivery from the ballot screwups of the 2000 election, are far less reliable than their makers claim and are so insecure as to make possible vote fraud on an unprecedented scale. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past couple of millennia, it’s that if a system can be rigged, it will be.

The book documents many, many performance problems with the machines. It explains why they are not secure — and how the makers knew this fact but sold them as reliable anyway. It documents how security procedures supposedly in place to ensure the security and reliability of voting machines aren’t being followed. It explores the conflicts of interest among many of the voting-machine makers’ owners and executives. And it offers solutions to these problems — but because voting machines are typically purchased by elections officials at the state or county level, it will take a true grass-roots effort to educate these officials so that they’ll do the right thing to protect your right to vote and to have your vote counted.

Full disclosure: I edited the book (and am so credited within it), as a freelance project, with the prior knowledge and permission of my employer. As a consequence, of course, I’m recusing myself from any coverage of the issue by my employer. I’ve been a registered Republican for 25 years, but this is not a partisan issue and the book doesn’t treat it as one except in cases in which party membership is directly relevant to actual or potential conflicts of interest. Also, for every copy of the paperback that sells, I’m going to get a little spare change.

But the author, the publisher and I agreed that the information it contains is so important, and the need to disseminate the information widely so great, that the book also is being made available for download (in *.pdf format), for free. No charge. I don’t get paid that way, but as you’ve probably figured out by now, none of us is in this for the money.

The paperback will be available from the publisher (www.plan9.org), Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other outlets. But you can download several chapters now, for free, at www.blackboxvoting.com, with more chapters to come. (Note: Bev’s previous site, www.blackboxvoting.ORG, was shut down; the .com site replaces it.)

Our political discourse has become so polarized and poisoned in the past 40 years or so that sometimes it’s hard to remember that there are still a few issues on which all of us, regardless of party, ought to be able to agree. The sanctity of the vote has got to be at the top of the list, because without that, nothing much else in our politics matters.

So whether you buy the book or download it, please get a copy, educate yourself and tell all your friends, and then get into the faces of your local elections officials. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of our political system depends upon it.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Filed under: Fun,Victoria — Lex @ 7:26 pm

My daughter’s having her first slumber party Saturday night.

Monday, October 13, 2003 9:17 pm

Love story

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 9:17 pm

Julia of Tequila Mockingbird tells one exceedingly well. It’s about a ring, but of course it’s not really about the ring.

Higher Lower learning

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:16 pm

Forthwith, the lyrics to “Baby Got Back.” In Latin. (Thanks to Nancy Nall.)

Sunday, October 12, 2003 9:17 pm

Yeah, baby

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 9:17 pm

Carolina Panthers 23, Indianapolis Colts 20, OT.

Other Panthers teams would’ve found a way to lose a big, close game like this. This year’s Panthers find a way to win. This team could be turning into something special.

Friday, October 10, 2003 10:40 pm

Well, all right, then

Filed under: Fun,Housekeeping — Lex @ 10:40 pm

Having checked and made sure that my comments system is working properly, I’m going to take the near-total absence of comments left on my posts from the past week, despite a record number of visitors (woo-hoo!), to mean that y’all agree with every damn thing I say.

You should, of course, but it’s still a little surprising. Or it could just mean that Pfred’s out of town.

Greetings

Filed under: Housekeeping — Lex @ 10:37 pm

I’m not sure why this blog has been such a hot spot today for visitors from Cal State and Disney Corp., but we thank you for stopping by.

Overly proud papa, or, There’s something different about those women

Filed under: Fun,Hooper — Lex @ 10:34 pm

With Ann and V. up in Virginia overnight, I took Hooper to dinner at Rock-Ola with Herb, Susan and the girls. At an adjacent table were a dozen or so female students from one of our local high schools, apparently enjoying a nice pregame meal before tonight’s game against their school’s crosstown archrival.

The girls were all wearing matching yellow T-shirts with hand-made inscriptions extolling the virtues of their school. None had dates (In fact, the only guy was sitting at the end of the table, and he looked so out of place I figured he had to be either gay or someone’s younger brother. ), and they were all cute enough that I figured their datelessness had to be intentional, that they were some kind of group — perhaps the cheerleaders or pep squad or whatever they call those things nowadays.

Then I noticed something. Hooper was making eyes at them and generally being his usual charming self … but although they were making eye contact with him, they weren’t reacting.

I discussed this with a friend later this evening. He thought the girls must have been gay. I, however, know several lesbians whom Hooper has charmed effortlessly, so I’m more inclined to think they had to have been space aliens.

Coercion … or torture?

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 7:44 pm
Tags:

Recently, three U.S. servicemen were arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle “classified information” out of the prisoner detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to this analysis, they might well be guilty of a serious crime. But one could infer from this story, they might well have been trying — also or instead — to report that prisoners were being tortured. Not just coerced, not just sleep-deprived, but “good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages,” as an attorney for some of the detainees describes it.

I have no idea what the facts are. I have no idea who’s right. And God knows I understand the stakes. But I have worried from the start of our military action against terrorists that the level of secrecy and lack of due process surrounding our interrogation of these prisoners would lead to a bad end. Torture dehumanizes everyone involved with it — victim, torturer and all those the torturer represents. It also directly and completely negates that upon which this nation was founded and which it purports to represent to the rest of the world.

We have no way of knowing for sure, but we are told that interrogations of detainees at Gitmo have provided valuable information in combatting terrorism. But it would have to be very valuable information indeed to be worth purchase at the cost of our national soul and our individual humanity.

Thursday, October 9, 2003 8:49 pm

Sixteen “Spongebobs” later

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 8:49 pm

Me (at 5:15 a.m. today): So, what’d we learn?

Sleep-lab technician: You sleep better on your side than on your back.

Me: (Pause.) That’s it?

Sleep-lab technician: That’s it.

Me: Dude? I coulda told you that without involving the insurance company.

Random amusement

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 8:48 pm

This site warehouses random snippets of IRC conversation and one-liners, much of which, IMHO, is pretty funny. Reload the page to get a different set of quotes. Some of the language might be a bit NSFW, so consider yourself warned.

Clear Channel exhaustion

Radio deregulation’s primary result has been to make an industry behemoth out of Clear Channel, but even this distorted market is responding in ways that warm this former DJ’s heart.

KPIG, near Santa Cruz, Calif., is one station already reaping the rewards of Clear Channel exhaustion. By its own admission, KPIG has one of the weakest signals in its market. Yet it consistently ranks in the top five against all formats in all demographics in its market, and first in the 25-54 demographic and in the Triple-A (adult album alternative) format. It has owned the ratings charts there for six years. What makes KPIG unique is that in an age of format consultants and universal playlists, live deejays at KPIG still pull records off the shelves and play practically whatever occurs to them, whenever they feel like it. They even answer the phone. This is old-school rock radio. “You scan the dial and you know when it’s the PIG. You may not know the song, or even the artist. You know it’s us because you’ve never heard it before and it’s good,” says program director Laura Hopper. “That’s our strength. There is no one else like us out there.”

You need RealOne’s radio pass to listen to KPIG on the ‘net, but another indepedent rock station, Cincinnati’s WOXY, is available for free.

The article also approvingly cites public radio station WNCW in Spindale, N.C., which has long been a favorite of mine when we’re up in the mountains. (It plays everything from rock to old-time country, usually back-to-back.) You can hear it here.

Deregulation ruined the radio bidness, but there are still a few good stations around.

(Thanks to Subterranean Homepage News for the link.)

Sixteen Spongebobs

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 5:54 am

“Daddy, where are you going tonight?”

“I’m going to a special doctor who’s going to help me learn how to sleep better.”

“You have to take lessons?”

“Well, no, they’re just going to watch and see how my body behaves while I’m sleeping.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. How would you like to have to sit there and watch somebody sleep for a living?”

“Just sit?”

“Yeah.”

“And watch?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s silly!”

“Well, they have machines to help watch, too.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“About eight hours.”

“How many Spongebobs is that?”

“Sixteen.”

“Wow. That’s a lot.”

“Yeah. But I’ll be home in time for breakfast, OK?”

“OK, Daddy. Sleep tight.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2003 9:50 am

F****** A!

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 9:50 am

The Federal Communications Commission has OK’d the use of the F-bomb in radio and TV broadcasts as long as the context is neither sexual nor excretory (ew!).

Specifically, the FCC declined to sanction broadcasting licensees (some over-the-air TV stations) against which complaints were filed for airing the Jan. 19 Golden Globe Awards broadcast in which U2’s lead singer, Bono, said, “This is really, really f****** brilliant” and/or “This is f****** great.” In context, the commission ruled Friday, such usages do not rise, or sink, to the level of constitutionally unprotected obscene or indecent speech as defined in the U.S. Code and relevant court rulings.

Regular users of the F-bomb and its variants, of course, have long known that sexual/excretory contexts represent only a small segment of the vast spectrum of possible uses of the word. It and its variants can serve as six of the eight English parts of speech; as a verb, it can be both transitive and intransitive. It is one of the most reliable, flexible and dependable word of the many millions in the language, and I’m delighted to see not only that the FCC recognizes that fact but that it also drew a fine and careful line between safeguarding public morality and safeguarding constitutional freedoms.

Folks, for all its problems, this is still the greatest country on Earth.

FOOTNOTE (which I can’t highlight with asterisks because of all the asterisks above): So, if it’s OK to use, why am I not using it? Because I don’t want this site to show up in Google searches for porn, primarily.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003 10:59 pm

Three chords and the truth, or, Look, Ma! No dexterity!

My nascent rock ‘n’ roll career pretty much died in April 1974, when the first three fingers of my left hand were crushed in the door to my eighth-grade homeroom. Accidentally, but still. Oh, sure, I could still play guitar after a fashion once the stitches came out and the bandages came off and the nails grew back in, but my skill at playing lead lines, which wasn’t all that well developed to begin with, pretty much disappeared thereafter. (Hell, my skill at typing, only acquired the previous semester, pretty much disappeared thereafter, and I only got that back after about a decade of effort.)

Anyway, I started looking then for great rock songs in which the guitar part isn’t terribly complicated — chords only, or chords plus, at most, a manageable, rhythmic lead line with no complicated solos. There are both fewer and more of these than you’d think.

Once I had a great long list. But I’ve lost it. Here are the few I can remember, in no particular order:

  • “Night Moves,” Bob Seger
  • “Girl of My Dreams,” Bram Tchaikovsky
  • “All the Small Things,” Blink 182
  • “Baba O’Riley,” The Who
  • “Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars),” REM

Additional suggestions welcome. I’d like to amass a total of at least 45 minutes’ worth, that being the typical length of the typical opening act’s set, so that any of you who lust after rockstardom without being, like, talented can at least go get a gig opening for someone with talent to see whether the business is for you. Cuz I’m all about helping out like that. (I’m also flat unable to get to sleep tonight, which is why I’m posting this at all, let alone doing it right this second.)

Down looks like up to me

In one of this blog’s rare forays into public service, I’d like to announce that this Thursday, Oct. 9, is National Depression Screening Day, sponsored by the National Mental Health Alliance. The organization will have more than 3,000 sites nationwide where you can go to be screened for depression (and such related disorders as bipolar syndrome and post-traumatic stress disorder). The organization estimates that more than 19 million Americans experience clinical depression in a given year, but only about half are getting treated. And of those with access to care, the organization says, only about 20 percent get appropriate treatment. (I’m not quite sure how those numbers reconcile, but I don’t have time to run it down at the moment.)

Some signs of depression include:

  • Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little, waking up in the middle of the night or early morning
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (e.g. chronic pain or digestive disorders)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

If you can’t get to a site, or don’t want to, you can be screened online, confidentially, at www.depression-screening.org.

More info at the association’s Web site: www.nmha.org

Thank you. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blather.

News you can use

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 5:24 am

Who has the best drive-thru fast-food service in America? According to this survey, Chik Fil-A is No. 1, followed by Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Burger King.

(More detailed info here.)

The survey found, among other things, that more than 15% of orders industry-wide are filled inaccurately. That certainly jibes with my experience.

Wednesday, October 1, 2003 10:13 pm

Aged

Filed under: Odds 'n' ends — Lex @ 10:13 pm

It doesn’t take much these days to make me feel old. In fact, a line like this on the radio will do it:

“Out on the road today I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac …”

That’s my boy!

Filed under: Hooper — Lex @ 1:38 pm

“Daddy?”

“Yeah, buddy?”

“Can we yissenna music onnawayda school?”

“You bet.”

“Can you make it youder?”

“What?”

“Youder!”

“Oh! ‘Louder!'”

“Yeah!”

“You bet.”

“Tangew, Daddy.”

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