My ritual is to check in on the news every few hours, a pause to separate tasks, and today every time I do that there's this sudden re-remembering of just what happened overnight. We elected The Donald.
I feel like I've been transported in my sleep to some parallel universe. Sure, I watched the Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice, like much of America, but I thought we were quietly mocking him, his simpleton way of expressing himself, his hair, his sense of "style", and his capricious and petty reasons for firing people. I had no idea the audience were fans, mentees, eager to become his voters. I keep finding myself thinking, "I'm white, I'm male, I'm probably going to be okay (barring a 3 am twitter war with Kim Jong-un that goes nuclear)." But that's little comfort, and just makes me feel guilty for the people who aren't white and male, and everyone outside the US who has to deal with US.
Ah well... The most we can hope for is that he'll be as uninterested in actually governing as he is in the day-to-day operation of his company. A few flashy political efforts outsourced to his brain trust, some tasteless redecoration of the White House, and if we're lucky little more of consequence. Or who knows, maybe he'll prove me and all his doubters wrong.
In a strange way I'm finding some slight vicarious joy in the gleeful delight of his supporters; I'm glad they're happy. I remember when I was happy. And some of them are, I assume, good people and deserve to be happy.
Yesterday I was driving into town and passing one of the many farms I always pass. Many of the farms around here have free roaming chickens, and they are often right at the edge of the road, but never in the road, and never on the other side of the road and that's when I had the epiphany. "Why did the chicken cross the road?" is funny because chickens have a very strong natural tendency not to cross roads. So seeing a chicken on the other side of a road would be such a freakishly weird event that it would warrant humorous and quasi-philosophical speculation.
[Spoilers, don't read if you are like me and took forever to watch the movie...]
Finally got around to watching Star Wars: The Force Awakens and while I enjoyed it, I was pretty disappointed to discover it had so little new to offer. The story was just another "orphaned young person on a desert planet discovers they are a Jedi" combined with "bad guys have an ultimate weapon that the good guys blow up" . Of the seven movies, three (43%) have been about the former and three (43%) have been about the latter. Seriously? I just can't believe that with all the creative people involved in this project they couldn't give us some new amazing story that borrowed less from the past.
Other annoying things... The central character Rey discovers she has Jedi powers, and then without any Jedi training at all, mere hours after discovering this, is able to defeat the big baddie, Kylo Ren, who has presumably been developing his talents and training in lightsaber combat for some years. Ugh. And I didn't quite get Fin. He could have been more interesting than he was. His comrade storm trooper is killed, this freaks him out, he refuses to shoot some villagers, and within an hour or so, his time, he's slaughtering dozens or hundreds of his former comrades as he tries to escape and yippying for joy. Many of those other stormtroopers were presumably just as pressed into First Order service as he was, just as indoctrinated as he had been, and yet he seems to have not the slightest twinge of compassion for them or their situation. It just seemed weird.
And I think mostly what I found disappointing was that the entire movie, right from the first few minutes, sets itself up for a sequel. The entire movie is about trying to find Luke Skywalker to try and balance the force again and as the minutes count down it becomes abundantly clear nothing meaningful is going to happen in that direction within this movie. I'm not completely stupid, I know there are more movies coming, but this movie just didn't feel like it was about very much, at least not much that was novel, and that's a real pity. It just felt like I could have skipped this movie entirely, seen the next one and missed nothing.
OldTimeRad.io has 2,000+ radio series logged froom the 1920s through to the 2000s, with 140,000+ episodes logged for those series, and behind that meta data there are over 50,000~ audio files (an astonishing 22,000 hours or 2.5 years of audio); and all in a modern, cloud-based, streamable app interface.
*Unbelievably I did actually start this project 14 years ago, but as so often happens I got busy with other things and it took a while to come back to it; there's a moment when you utter a phrase like "14 years ago" as though it was just a couple months ago and you realize, "Jesus, I'm getting old.". 😉 Ah well, a couple of weeks ago I stumbled back into the project somewhat accidentally and after a flurry of frenzied activity and effort I was able to resurrect past work, do a lot of new work, and launch the project. And I'll continue to add to it and refine it over time.
The idea is heavily borrowed from Washington, DC's street naming scheme (which is totally awesome, and uses alphabetical items and number of syllables and single letters to let you know where you are in the city), Google's Android naming scheme (alphabetical), etc...
Pick a category of thing. For the purposes of clarity here I'll pick animals. We then go in alphabetical order coming up with animal names. First we go through single syllable names, then double. then triple (obviously you may never make it having switched to another object type or another system, but this is the concept). If you can't think of a matching animal for those conditions, skip to the next letter and try again.
And the size of the object identifies the scale of the sprint. A minor sprint is identified by (in this case) an animal that can be comfortably carried by a human. A major sprint is identified by an animal that cannot be comfortably carried by a human.
So, using that logic and an animal as the category, you could have:
- Ant (minor sprint)
- Boar (major sprint)
- Cat (minor sprint)
- Deer (major sprint)
After moving across country from California and buying a car hauler to haul my stuff and motorcycles, I have wondered what to do with it. Here's my current plan...
I can work on my three motorcycles, and play video games with a MAME cabinet.
Once upon a time the place to buy PC hardware was Newegg. Their selection was great, their prices were good, their shipping speed was good, and their community was fantastic. But my last few experiences have soured me on them.
A few weeks ago I bought a new SSD hard drive from Newegg. They had it for a good price. It happened to come with a free Assassin's Creed game; I did not care about the game and have no intention of ever playing it (I haven't liked the previous Assassin's Creed games). Instead of getting one invoice for the purchase (I only clicked a buy button once, so I expected only one invoice) I got two. Once invoice was for the game and showed me paying full price for it ($59.99). The other invoice was for the SSD and it had a $59.99 discount on it. I call shenanigans! Clearly Newegg is helping Ubisoft (the makers of Assassin's Creed) boost their software sales numbers by making it seem like more people wanted and paid full price for the game than they did. That seems pretty shady, though certainly not unheard of. What I'm more offended by is that their implementation of the scam means I get twice the emails related to a purchase as I would receive and have to spend a couple of minutes figuring out what is going on (e.g., "Why did I just get charged for a game I was told is free?").
And just today I made a purchase with Newegg for a build-your-own gaming computer only to have my one order divided after purchase into four separate invoices, each charged separately, with three emails to confirm my purchase, three emails to tell me I've been charged, three emails from PayPal telling me I was charged, three tracking/shipping/download emails, and another three emails related to the sale (a free game coupon from Newegg as part of it, a Google Trusted Store confirmation email, and something else). I got fifteen emails within ten hours as a result of placing a single order. And they have engaged in more shenanigans by they giving me a free game but then insisting on charging me $0.99 on an additional invoice only to then deduct that $0.99 from a separate invoice. Because of how they've split the orders up, performed their freebie shenanigans, applied coupons, etc. it's needlessly complicated to know if I've been properly charged and what I actually bought. I'm sure Newegg has technical, financial, and logistics reasons for doing what they are doing, but it's onerous and absurd, something I would have expected in 1999, not 2015. I can't think of any Amazon or other purchase experience which has been this convoluted.
My mom made Christmas everything it was. Even well into my twenties and thirties, it continued to be the high point of my year, from her phenomenal decorations, to her elaborate meals, to her thoughtful gifts. She made everyone feel the spirit of the holidays, and made us all so very happy. Sadly, those Christmases ended in 2010 or so as dementia began to strip her nature from her. This year things have progressed to the point that she no longer seems to know who I am, beyond being vaguely familiar. So it is hard not to feel a bit lost during the holiday season. So much that was good is gone. And without her leading the seasonal charge, it's hard to know what to do. I do not feel up to the challenge of replacing her. But this year I did want to try to do something special for her, to try and prove that her legacy continues, that I can take on the responsibility, that I can carry on her traditions. In reality it is too little and too late, but the effort gives me a bit of peace and I am hoping that there might be some flicker of remembrance, or at least some novel joy.
To this end, the first step in my Christmas plans was to erect the biggest Christmas light display I could. I've never decorated the outside of a house for Christmas, but I felt inspired to try and run lights up the large 70' tree in our front yard. I wanted to turn it into a virtual Christmas tree, running the lights up as high as I could. I spent a few weeks planning it and today spent all day today doing it. I strung lights up in the shape of a Christmas tree, 50' height with a twinkling start at the top.
Originally my plan was to use a small drone of mine to fly some fishing line up and over the desired branch. After a few test flights it became clear that approach was going to fail. I would most likely end up with the drone stuck in the tree; the wind up there between the branches is unstable and the fishing easily snags. I then tried simply throwing a baseball, with fishing line attached, over the desired branch. But, throwing vertically is much harder than horizontally, none of my throws went quite where I wanted, and after ten or so the ball became permanently snagged on a branch about 40' up. I finally realized I needed to use a bow and arrow. I ran to the store and bought a "Lil Squaw" $20 children's bow and arrow set. I stuck tennis balls on the ends of the included arrows and attached the fishing line. I nailed it on my fourth shot; technically I got it on my first, but that arrow overshot a bit and joined the baseball as a permanent resident of the tree.
After a few hours of running lights, I was done... The video fails to capture the real beauty of the scene.
I hate crude humor, with very few exceptions. And today I found one of those few exceptions and I laughed harder than I have in six months.
I think what I generally dislike about crude humor is not its crudity but its sheer laziness. Why would a kick to the groin or a loud fart or a belch provoke hilarity in and of itself? There is nothing creative or surprising about them, and for me humor requires creativity and surprise.
And then along comes this masterpiece, and a penis wins a wrestling match...
The man with the masterful manhood gives a fantastic and intelligent interview describing his character and how this wrestling move came to be.
Recently I was waiting for files to be migrated to a new hard drive and couldn't escape a sense of ennui. Buying a new computer or upgrading an old one just doesn't induce the same excitement it once did, what was once fun now feels largely tedious. Curious about the nature of the problem, the reason for the shift in my perception, I began to jot down a list of the computers I've owned. And within a few minutes I had compiled a list of just over 30 computers... These were my personal, daily-use computers; I didn't include in that count any servers, computers I bought for others, etc. And this number also didn't include personal devices, which can require equal amounts of fuss and bother (between smartphones, tablets, and Android sticks I'm sure there have been at least 15).
No wonder I sometimes feel bored with it all, tired of migrating, fixing, backing up, restoring, worrying about...
Still, it was fun to remember some of the good old days, and some of the more exotic computers. From my earliest days on my Vic-20 and tape drives, up through the Commodore 64, 64c, and 128 and 5 1/4" floppy disks, the Tandy PC-6 (a pocket computer), then into the Amiga 2000 and it's 3.5" drive and ultimately 20 MB hard drive, then through the Amiga's Bridgeboard into the world of IBM clones, to an early Sager laptop, a custom machine I built to be rackmounted in an SKB music case, the brilliantly small Toshiba Libretto, a fantastic custom lunchbox computer, the Sharp Zaurus, the OQO Model 02, and on... I wonder what it would take for a new computer to blow me away as so many of the aforementioned did. I wonder if it's even possible, computers don't seem to make leaps and bounds as they once did, they are now just a pleasantly dull churn of improvements.