27 December 2007

Thumbs down.

I didn't say it--Radiohead did! Something about a New Year's Eve performance of In Rainbows?

Details: http://current.com/items/88799983_thumbs_down

Hmm. I wonder if it will be rebroadcast. I already have plans to see Carbon Leaf that night!

21 December 2007

My sister is a bad influence.

I've been in Florida for one day, and Emily has already got me playing isketch. It's like Pictionary, except totally different, because Pictionary is called Pictionary and isketch is called isketch.

Jolly fun.

15 December 2007

A different take on...

New take on:

- Chocolate: B.T. McElrath. Delicious!

- News and information: Current.com. User-controlled content, videos, music, etc. Users can even submit their own commercials! And they update you on what's hot online--latest Google Trends (#1 right now is "Elf on a Shelf"), viral videos, and other data to help you know how to live your life.

- Charging your ipod. I make no claims as to whether or not you really can charge an ipod using a USB cable, an onion, and Gatorade. But this YouTube commentary (edited slightly for grammar) is priceless:

Comment: So when you stick that plug in the onion, will it ruin the USB port cable?
Response #1: It will with out a doubt ruin the onion
Response #2: well duh
Response #3: well done captain obvious. Dont want to wreck an onion cause they are so expensive.
Response #4: especially with absorbed gatorade

07 December 2007

Birds and basketball

Have I mentioned that I have birds? Yeah, I do. Their names are: Hope, Joy, Youth, Peace, Rest, Life, Dust, Ashes, Waste, Want, Ruin, Despair, Madness, Death, Cunning, Folly, Words, Wigs, Rags, Sheepskin, Plunder, Precedent, Jargon, Gammon, and Spinach. Aw, I'm kidding. Any Dickens fans? Those are the names of Miss Flite's birds in Bleak House. If you're illiterate, you can watch this version. It's really, really good.

Anyway, one of my parakeets has recently trained himself to play basketball. I put some large wooden beads on the bottom of the cage... he picks them up, and throws them out of the cage. With gusto. Or anger. I can't tell which.

It's so exciting, I made a video just for you! Aw, c'mon, it's only 30 seconds.

04 December 2007


Ah, music. That little light in our lives. Did you know that American Idol runner up Blake Lewis' CD came out today? After work I stopped and bought it. Yeah, I know, buying a physical CD... that's so 90s of me. But not many "buy music" apps or sites are supported under Linux. My sad life.

Anyway, a few thoughts re: this new masterpiece. Hmm... maybe "masterpiece" is the wrong word. On the plus side, when I listened to it I definitely didn't think, "oh, those mean producers; I can't believe they made him sing those songs." There are even a couple of songs that I could see myself listening to more than once.

BUT... there are quite a few songs that sound a bit too "boy band" for my taste. And there are a couple that I can only describe as a beat boxing Savage Garden. Listen to the CD. You'll know right away which ones I'm talking about.

Ah, well, my Radiohead CD is on the way now, too. In Rainbows is splendid! I'm always amazed by how every Radiohead album is new, innovative, and distinct from the other albums... but at the same time, they're distinctively Radiohead. Ahh, Radiohead. And OK Computer. My favorite CD of all time.

What more can I say?

02 December 2007

All that controversy

This evening I saw the new movie The Golden Compass. As I was watching TV a few days ago I saw something about pre-release screenings in my area. Sure enough, one of the screenings was at the movie theater only a few miles from where I live. After all the brewing controversy over the books (which I haven't read), I was very curious. Plus, my brother-in-law worked on the movie.

Overall, I enjoyed it... it was much darker than I had expected, and had some surprisingly frightening parts. As for the controversy bit, as far as I could tell, the author seemed to be arguing against the 17th Century Roman Catholic church. Yaay, Galileo!

Hmm... I don't want to give anything away, since the movie doesn't officially come out until next week. But I will say that it ends with a major cliffhanger. I kept thinking, "It's gotta be ending soon, but there seems to be a lot of plot left. How will they wrap it up?" And then it ended... "Oh, that's how. A sequel."

After the movie I waited around to see my brother-in-law's name in the credits. The "Rhythm & Hues" section started, and then the picture cut out... The sound was still working, but you couldn't see any more of the credits. Nice. Sorry, Rob, I still don't know if you REALLY worked on the movie... :)

Anyway, in closing, the movie is definitely not one for young kids. The plot is creative and innovative, and visually, the movie is great. It's just a tad scary for wee lads and lassies. For grownups, though, I'd definitely recommend it.

01 December 2007

I hope we understand one another

I don't really have anything to say at this immediate moment, but I noticed that my November blog posting count was fairly low. So I'm going to flashback, and talk about my first ever blog -- on Look Around You. OK, no I'm not. I'm just going to link to that article, and display the video for Little Mouse.

Ah, yes. That's why I love it. You rock, Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper. You rock. I'm still depressed that the screening of the Peter Serafinowicz Show (that is, the one I had tickets to see while I was in London) was canceled... Alas. Maybe someday it'll show up on BBC America...?

Little Mouse Lyrics.

28 November 2007

Since the TV season is getting cut short...

Ah, yes. Fall television shows. Thanks to the writers' strike, they're all ending soon. Alas. I just might have to start doing productive things rather than watch TV. Anyway, here are my reviews of some fall TV:

- Kid Nation: Despite what some have said, I don't really think of it as child exploitation. It's more like a long, strange summer camp. They did have one of the worst challenges I've ever seen--chewing bubble gum, then handing it off to their team leader to create a "chew by numbers" picture!?! Yuck. And not hygienic.

- Pushing Daisies -- I love this show!! I can't even force myself to delete old episodes from my DVR. But I don't want to give anything away... so you will just have to watch it!

- Project Runway is back! No script, no writers, no strike, right? :) Anyway, one of my favorite things about Project Runway is the auction site--you can watch what people actually are willing to pay for the designs. Or you can buy them. But they only fit 6'1" size 0 women. Well... so they say. But this season's designs are telling me that I don't understand the latest fashion. This winning design would fit more than 6'1" size 0 women. It will also fit REAL women, including ones who want to dress like a pumpkin for Halloween. Top fashion? Um... okaaaaay... but if you tape eyes and a mouth to the front, you'll be a jack-o-lantern!

- In general, I'm not a fan of car shows. There is one exception: the British show Top Gear. I first happened upon this a few years ago in London. They had a race to see if it was faster to drive or fly or drive from London to a ski resort in Switzerland. It pretty much ended up a tie. Anyway, BBC America has started showing episodes. Example episode: take some arbitrary car, cut it in half, and turn it into a limo. Then drive a famous person to an award ceremony in it. Niiiice! But apparently it is also controversial.

- Bones? Yes, the acting is cheesy as ever. And the puns and other silliness. Like the tech episode featuring "Gil Bates." So creative. Yet still I watch...

- House this season is totally blah. If today's episode is as dumb as the rest of this season has been, I'm done watching it. I swear the first season... maybe even two seasons... was good. Alas, no longer.

- Heroes has been good this season... suspenseful and unpredictable. Too bad next week is the end of the "chapter"!

- Flash Gordon - This one surprised me. It started out cheesy, and is still cheesy, but it has drawn me in.

- Amazing Race - I haven't watched it for a few years. I was curious because I wanted to see how the goth couple would do. So far, they're doing well... interestingly, in the Top Dancer challenge, a group of VERY picky African villagers liked their dancing.

OK, that is enough. Time to go do something not TV-related.

14 November 2007

Tanks mooch

Y'know, I never got around to posting 'bout my Ireland trip. Where did I leave off? Ahh, yes... dictionaries. Later that day I took a bus waaaay out to London Stansted airport, where I flew on RyanAir to the Shannon airport in Ireland. Why do I mention this? I'd like to give my anti-recommendation for RyanAir. Yuck. Pay for baggage, pay if baggage is over a certain very low weight, pay if you look at them funny. Plus, Stansted is in the middle of nowhere. I disliked it sufficiently that I purchased a new ticket back from Dublin to London Heathrow, on Aer Lingus.

But that's not important. Ireland is. What did I do? What did I see? Well, I took a bus to Limerick, where I met a tour group for my two-day West Coast tour. I wrote some limericks... while I was in Galway, not Limerick. They are:

This tour thing has helped me to see
I can't take the Irish seriously
Too much Father Ted
Corrupted my head
Now their accent is comic to me


My heart for Celt music does long
But I have a secret so wrong
Ironic to think
That I do not drink
Yet oh how I love a good pub song!

Hmm... other interesting things...

I learned that left-handed people are considered "blessed by the faeries," and thus are exceptionally smart. Absolutely!!

I met a cute Spanish guy. He was on the two-day tour. Too bad his English wasn't better!

More... and pictures... later!

12 November 2007

when is a cover not a cover?

What are the rules on "cover" songs? 'Cuz I was watching America's Next Top Model last week (not that I watch that show) and was surprised to see that the models were part of the music video for "Enrique Iglesias' new song, 'Tired of Being Sorry.'" Whaaa...? That's not an Enrique song, that's a Ringside song!! They didn't give any credit to Ringside - no indication that it is actually a cover. And the original is so much better than that cheap, crappy imitation! Grr. I'll let you be the judge (but if you don't say Ringside, you're crazy). Here are the options:

Ringside version
Enrique version

While we're talking about music, Emily pointed out this fantastic music video for fantastic Andrew Bird's fantastic song Imitosis:

I hope he comes back to the DC area soon. I want to see him in concert again!!

05 November 2007

Save the world. Plant a flower.

Sorry. I'm going to introduce you to two addictive games. Have a good time!

First one: Bloomin' Gardens

Second one: Blow up!

Games with plots? Whatever. I <3 casual games.

24 October 2007

The most important thing you'll learn today

I'm about to tell you something that will change your life. Be prepared--this is earth-shaking. And sad... Get the kleenex. Ready? Deep breath. Here it is:

People born on February 29th will never have a golden birthday.

Okay, now that your life is altered, on to business: more trip reports! After visiting Keighley and Haworth I returned to London, where I was supposed to see a screening of the Peter Serafinowicz Show. Sadly, it was canceled. Instead, I saw Lord of the Rings, The Musical. It was pretty good... they had to cut many essential elements to make it fit within a 3-hour window. No Rohan whatsoever, no Faramir, no Helm's Deep, etc., etc. They did make a reference to Tom Bombadil. The hobbits were amusing.

Today you will learn why I typically travel alone. I suspect it has to do with some of the sites I like to see. The second day in London I visited a museum that... well... let's just say it had to do with my unique literary tastes. I happen to like dictionaries. I visited the former home of Samuel Johnson -- his primary residence while compiling the first modern English dictionary. I even bought an abridged version of the dictionary (c'mon, I already admitted that I like dictionaries. So stop laughing).

Example definitions from this 1755 dictionary:

heart-breaker: A cant name for a woman's curls, supposed to break the heart of all her lovers.

paraphernalia: Goods in the wife's disposal.

And if you have never been able to understand how the Interweb works, here is the definition of network: Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.

All clear now, right?

23 October 2007

doppler effect... or not

Reading my blog? Wow, you must be bored. Or boring. That's great, we have something in common!

And I can bore you further. More about my trip to the UK and Ireland!! Lucky you!

After I left Alnmouth I went to a town called Keighley (pronounced "keith-lee"), where I caught an authentic steam train -- the Keighley-Worth Valley Railway. Here's a video I took of the train:

I left the train at a small town called Haworth, which is where the Bronte sisters lived. After wandering all over the place with my luggage I finally found their family home:

If you turn your head (or monitor), you can read about the Bronte Parsonage Museum:

These are what we call "flowers":

The church next to the museum:

Next time I need a doctor, I will definitely go for one at the "Kilmeny Surgery." Many? How many?

20 October 2007

Prior Incantato

I suppose it's time to post some pictures from my trip! I flew into Heathrow, then immediately went to London, to King's Cross Station. And where does one travel from King's Cross Station? To Hogwarts, of course -- and that's exactly where I went! Well, I didn't find Platform 9 ¾, but the train from Platform 2 started me on the way to my destination of the day -- Alnwick Castle, a film site for the Harry Potter movies. After my visit to the castle (which is definitely worth a visit!) I went to Alnmouth for the night.

And for those of you who want to study at Hogwarts, check out the St. Cloud State University site...


A statue of Harry Hotspur:
A view of Alnwick Castle:

Another view of Alnwick Castle:

Nearby the castle:

A rainy morning in Alnmouth:

Boats generally require water:

Some of the many, many, many birds of Alnmouth:

Blocks on the beach:

Spiderwebs in the rain:

18 October 2007

L33t Street

At some point I'll have time to go on and on about my recent vacation to the UK and Ireland. For now, here is an amuse-bouche for my travel writeup. And it is all about l33tness.

A camera + a bus near Newcastle Upon Tyne + some fabulous timing resulted in this priceless picture:

That's right, kids. The moral of today's story: B1337.

08 October 2007

Study at Hogwarts!

Greetings from jolly ol' London! I'm currently on vacation. I'll post more when I return, but I just wanted to inform all of you about one interesting fact I learned. This will be especially useful for those of you trying to decide where to attend college. On Saturday I visited Alnwick Castle, where they filmed Harry Potter. You can actually attend school there--Minnesota's St. Cloud University offers a study abroad program there!


04 October 2007

pulling tulips

Hooray for fall television! Shows I like are back in season, and I've found a few new shows to love. So far...

Old shows:

- Heroes is off to a strong start. New twists and turns... though there are still some slightly annoying plotlines. At least we haven't had to deal with the Las Vegas psycho woman plot yet.

- Top Chef is almost over. Only a few weeks 'til Project Runway!!

- Doctor Who is almost over as well. This latest season has been EXCELLENT! What a creative show. And a hot Doctor.

- Beauty and the Geek. The geek kicked off this week was cute... he didn't even need a makeover to help him out! It's a shame he's gone.

- House? Hmmm... it doesn't seem to be improving. I'm not terribly optimistic.

- The IT Crowd, Season 2. Over already.... Alas. It was entertaining, but not as funny as Season 1. Regardless, my newly ordered DVDs are on their way. Oh, in case you haven't heard the bad news, there's a chance this show might not be recreated for the US market. Sad, isn't it?

New shows:

- PUSHING DAISIES! What a bizarre, random, hilarious show! Ever since I saw the first commercial I've been looking forward to seeing it. It lived up to my expectations. It may even have exceeded my expectations... FAAAN-tastick!

- Kid Nation - Kid logic is great. That show is highly entertaining. It's all about kids living off the land exactly as people lived in the Old West. It's true -- they have to rely on outhouses, water pumps, and microwaves. It's seriously bare bones.

- Bionic Woman - You never know with remakes, but this one looks promising.

- Life, Moonlight, and Journeyman - BOOOORING. Sorry, writers and producers, but they're complete snoozers.

03 October 2007

off with their heads!

On Saturday, Emily and I made our annual pilgrimage to Crownsville, Maryland for the Renaissance Festival. As usual, it was a great people watching opportunity. Apparently the Food Network was filming there all day. I saw some girl getting some guy's autograph, but who he was, forsooth, I knoweth not.

Here is my summary of the day in pictures... pictures of Emily, mostly. Behold:

Ye olde sword swallower:

Fair Maid Emily getteth her haire done:

Thine faire maide in a flattering pose:

Alas, poor Yorrick. I can't see thee:

Ye olde construction workers:

Emily falleth into love with ye olde blond guy while gettething henna applied to her foot:

Ye olde fancy henna application that turned out better than the henna we got in Marrakesh:

Ye olde vikings in an ancient mode of communication. And elephants, which we didn't ride (because of ye olde long line):

Ye olde sideways picture:

Henna update:

Ye olde hypnotist, leading ye olde crowde in their dramatic death scenes:

Ye olde high schooler a little bit too into this activity. Where'd his shirt go??

Ye olde Food Network person signing an autograph:

The joust:

It was very, very dusty, which looked kinda nice in the light of the setting sun:

One last henna picture:

A nearby haunted looking building. Initially we thought it was called the "Hung Young Building" (appropriate for a haunted hospital). Nay, it was just "Hugh Young." Actually, it's "Hvgh Yovng":

After the Renaissance Festival we went to Baltimore for an AMAZING Andrew Bird concert. But that's a story for another blog entry...

25 September 2007


I like my title today. It summarizes the point I intended to make, but it also gives me an excuse to mention an upcoming TV show that sounds FASCINATING. Definitions of "rectification" (thanks, Dictionary.com!:

1. the act of rectifying, or the fact of being rectified.
2. Astrology. the method by which the known times of major events in one's life are used to determine an unknown time of birth.

My meaning? #1. But #2 reminded me that there's this up and coming fall show called "America's Psychic Challenge." That sounds entertaining. Starts on 11 October. You can also apply to be in the sequel! Maybe I should apply. I'm a psychic. I bet I can figure out what you're thinking right now. You're thinking "no, you can't." Hmm... I wonder if anyone would be offended by the fact that I don't differentiate between "psychics" and "astrologers." Probably. Sorry.

But that's not my point. Back to #1. I would like to rectify an old mistake... that mistake is called Morocco. For YEARS I wanted to go to Morocco. A year and a half ago I went there, and all I wanted to do was leave. If you like Islamic art, go to Spain, not Morocco. Seriously. So I'm trying my luck with eBay (my first auction!), trying to sell a brass lamp I purchased in the city of Fez. I rubbed it, but no genie came out. So now it's ready to find a new family for it.

Feeling charitable? Want a genie-free Moroccan lamp? Here's the auction. Help a girl out.

20 September 2007

fish and aliens

On the finale of Last Comic Standing, they counted down some of the top moments in Last Comic Standing standup. This quote of Kathleen Madigan stood out:

I don't believe in anything. Anything on A&E, Aliens, fine. I believe them. My brothers are so scientific. "Well, there's no proof." What if they're just smarter than us, and that's why we don't know they're here... Like fish don't know we're up here, but we're certainly snagging them whenever we feel like it. Every time you catch one, those other fish are swimming around going, "Hey, wait a minute... where did Bill go?" And you know when we throw Bill back, the other fish do NOT believe his story about where he was.

19 September 2007

yer plans fer t'morrow

Hooray, and dinna spare the whip! T'morrow (19th o' September) is Talk like a Buccaneer Day, Yaaarrrr! I be informing ye o' a few useful links so ye can celebrate th' day in some appropriate manner, with a chest full a' booty. Walk the plank!

First, by Blackbeard's sword, th' official talk like a pirate day web site:


What's yer buccaneer name?


Next, I'll warrant ye, a game called Ninja Loves Pirate (let this day be a day o' truce betwixt th' pro-ninja hax0rs and th' pro-pirate hax0rs):


Ye wise professor gave an assignment t' his students t' code a program t' convert text t' buccaneer speak:


And ye wise student sought help from th' online community:

cheating?? ye be th' judge

And, to be sure, th' site that helped me translate:


We'll keel-haul ye!

14 September 2007

Be a sheep

You have to admit, technology makes it easier to be like everyone else. In the olden days, in remote neighborhoods, you had to go out of your way to figure out what everyone else was doing. I think in those days church was the place you'd go to see the latest trends. Now you can figure out what is popular just by going to the Interweb.

But what can you trust? Google, of course! Google is all knowing. At Defcon I learned about Google Trends, which is a site that shows you the most popular search terms. You can select specific terms to see a graph of their popularity. Graphs make everything scientific and credible... or, in this case, incredible.

I have learned about all sorts of exciting things thanks to Google Trends. For example, I learned of the death of poor Alex the Parrot, an African grey parrot. ALEX apparently is an acronym for "Avian Learning EXperiment." Alex was a genius bird, and probably was smarter than most of the people you know.

Today's hottest search term (so far, but it is early) is "hectometer." Why is that a popular search term??? I suppose people are just odd. Or some rogue botnet it popularizing the term...

13 September 2007

Aren't kids cute?

This past weekend I visited my sister Melissa and her family in LA. My niece and nephew (Lauren and Robbie) are child prodigies... in sarcasm! It's great. Even my two and a half year old niece, Lauren, can dish it out. Impressive.

We were at the beach walking toward the water... I said something like, "Lauren, do you see the water?" But she didn't say, "Yes, over there," pointing to the ocean (like you'd expect a 2 1/2 year old to do). Instead, she put one hand on her hip, held the other out in an exaggerated questioning manner, then gestured back toward the sand and parking lot. "Where? Where?" she said, swinging around to point away from the ocean. "I don't see any water! What water?" Man, those moments you wish you had a video camera...

There's no doubt that she's part of our family! Our sarcasm bones develop early... :)

p.s. according to this article, kids aren't supposed to "get" sarcasm 'til they're at least 6, much less dish it out!

12 September 2007

‫‬‭‮‪‫‬‭‮҉Happiness is...

‫‬‭‮‪‫‬‭‮҉ Happiness is a unicode character that automatically makes you type backwards. Just paste this cute little character (‫‬‭‮‪‫‬‭‮҉ ) into a text box on your Web browser, and the magic can be yours!



11 September 2007

Who wants to be a pushover?

I think it's about time for a TV recap. The summer show season is ending, and the fall season is about to begin. I've noticed that a lot of the reality shows are starting to be compressed... shows that took dozens of weeks last year have shrunk to numbers of episodes you can count on only one, two, or three of your hands.

What have I been watching? Let's see...

- Who wants to be a superhero? This show scores high on the ridiculous factor... and yet I continue to watch it. Possible alternate titles include "who wants to get inside Stan Lee's head?" or "who wants to be a follower?" It's all about Stan Lee's inconsistent application of heroic logic. It doesn't matter how well you justify what you do, because if it doesn't match Stan Lee's predefined expectation, you're gone. Statements like "I'll take that into consideration" translate to "you're as good as out." Don't try to game the system, because his logic and yours probably won't match. For instance, the episode in which everyone nobly rescued the people but got yelled at for not rescuing a dog. Um, okay? Oh, and can you say PRODUCT PLACEMENT?? Sony, esurance, blah blah blah. ECW star "superhero training"??? Yech. "Wrestling, stunt fighting... it's REAL." Double yech. That's exactly what makes me annoyed with the SciFi channel. In a way, it's kind of like those model shows, where people get kicked off for things like getting hypothermia during a photo shoot in freezing cold water. "REAL models don't give up even if they're about to die." It's all about willingness to sacrifice your life for your art. See my old "fashion conspiracy" posting for more info on that.

- Movies featuring winners of Who wants to be a superhero? Those Saturday 9 pm movies also make me annoyed with the SciFi channel. Yeah, so I recorded Mega Snake, which was supposed to "feature" the winner of Who wants to be a superhero, season 1. Oh, my. Fast forward through cheese... fast forward through cheese... fast forward through cheese... I passed through the first quarter of the movie. Then the middle. Then the last... Around 7/8 of the way into the movie I saw Feedback... and his role as a public service announcement guy, telling kids about the dangers of electricity. In all, it lasted about 2 minutes. Maan, I can only imagine what Season 2's superheroes are thinking. "All that work, and THAT'S my main prize???"

- A model life. Reinforcing the stereotype that models aren't the brightest stars in the daytime sky. For example, there was the Brazilian girl who thought she might know photographer's grandmother, who lived in Brazil approx. 50 years before the model was born. "No, I don't know her." Or Michelle, when told she was going to London: "I've never been to London. I guess I'll like it. They do speak English, for most of the part, except for a few of the words." Niice. And the most model-like, Angelika, was let go for mouthing off. Yeah, she deserved it.

- The new Bravo show, Flipping Out. Very funny!! That guy is seriously messed up.

- On The Lot. Will won! Yaay! He was my favorite. Do you think the end part (him walking up to the gates of his new studio) was staged? I have a feeling it was filmed before the actual finale.

- The IT Crowd. They're already halfway through the all-too-short season!! Season 2 has been funny, but not AS funny as Season 1. I just haven't found as many quotes that I want to integrate into my everyday life... like "getting on like a big house on fire" or "you stole it? but that's stealing!!" Hmm... I wonder how the US version will turn out...

- Chuck. I saw the pilot episode on a recent United flight. My response? As Roy's shirt said during IT Crowd Season 2 Episode 3, "Meh." It reminded me a lot of Jake 2.0, except for the electronics superstore part. It just wasn't that funny... But I'll let you make your own call. I think the pilot is officially showing next Monday.

- Without prejudice. Interesting show, but it doesn't live up to its name. A group of five people decide to give $25,000 to one of another group of 5 people for pretty much whatever reason they select. Take the "without" out of the title and you get a lot of what is used in the decision-making process. It's not a bad show to have on as background noise, though...

- Doctor Who. I like this show more and more every season!! I didn't think they'd be able to find a good replacement for Rose, but I was wrong. The most recent two-part episode shown on SciFi, "Human Nature/The Family of Blood" was excellent!! And Baines (the actor also plays Will Scarlett on Robin Hood) made a fantastic psycho bloodthirsty alien. The DVD comes out in a couple months...

OK, I think that's enough TV discussion for one night!!

06 September 2007

It's just not possible

Just a quick posting to explain that I do not believe in hummingbirds. That's right. You can't convince me that they're real. Birds simply don't look like that... or move like that, for that matter. It's not possible. I think they're really puppets, or a Hollywood conspiracy, or something. There has to be another explanation.

And yet I couldn't find the puppeteer when I took these hummingbird pictures yesterday. Maybe you can see the strings in the picture. They must be there, 'cuz there's no way hummingbirds can possibly exist.

03 September 2007

If it's on TV it must be true

This evening I saw an inspiring commercial for some weight loss pill. It inspired me to laugh. It wasn't the "eat all you want and still lose weight" part that caused me to want to roll on the floor laughing. It was the next part: "We couldn't say it on TV if it wasn't true!" Riiiiight. THAT should inspire confidence in their product. As we all know, everything on TV is absolutely true. Does anyone believe otherwise?

Case in point: that SciFi channel show "Mind control with Derren Brown." Yeah, sure, you can trust it (after all, it is on TV). Just be sure you pay attention to things like shadows (especially in the episode where he was doing mind control tests on twins). That's all I'll say on that topic.

Speaking of entertaining commercials, I also have to note the latest commercials from our modern day Richard Simmons: John Basedow. First it was his "get fit" videos. Then it was the "get fit" videos with the cheesy 80s-style theme music. Now it's a triple-length symphony of cheesy music, fitness videos, and--of course--advertising for his MySpace page (which apparently features even cheesier videos of him as James Bond or something). Faaan-tastick.

One last noteworthy commercial: the one for the movie Stardust. The commercials seemed rather serious, but the movie was hilarious!! Two (or more) thumbs up, absolutely. Go see it! NOW!!

28 August 2007

Stop Wirelifting Dead

Wirelifting. You know, like shoplifting, except wireless Internet style. Do you hate it when your neighbors steal your bandwidth? Yeah, well, so does this guy. Check out his tips and tricks for discouraging neighbors from Intersquatting:

The Upside-Down-Ternet

We should build a statue in this guy's honor! Maybe in the shape of a nutria...?

26 August 2007

The drought is over

The IT Crowd, Season 2 has started! The first episode aired on BBC on Friday night. I found it here. It was pretty funny (yaay for Richmond and Moss!), but based on my calculations, the next episode will be funnier. Why, you might ask?

Well, it all started with Season 1. Episode 1, pretty funny. Episode 2, extremely funny. Episode 4, really funny. The rest were funny, but not quite as funny. Following the pattern, that means the 8th episode will be very funny. Using some really tricky math that is way too complicated to explain to mere mortals, I have concluded that this means the 2nd episode of the 2nd season will be very funny.

And yes, I hyperlinked as many things in this blog as I possibly could.

22 August 2007

Good ol' fun

This happened back in 2001, but that doesn't make it any less funny. I can just picture some young manager thinking this would be a funny joke:

"Toy yoda." And Snopes says it's true. Yay litigiousness. It reminds me of the little "I'll give you a hundred doll hairs" thing we did when we were 8 or do. Never did trick anyone with that. I wonder why not...

L33t hax0r pwned by Teen Jeopardy

Well, at least he got the final answer right...

Oops. Um. Spoiler alert for your left-coast types... Sorry. (ah, well, maybe it's just a rerun anyway...?)

21 August 2007

Map Everything!

I just realized that Google Maps now allows you to embed maps in pages! Hooray! Is this new, or am I slow in finding these things? I guess they got tired of having people copy their imagery and post it to their blogs, etc.

For your entertainment, a demonstration, using the Jello Museum in Le Roy, New York as an example:

View Larger Map

How to use it: Find what you want to include in your map. Then click "Link to this page" (toward the top right of the page). Copy the link and/or HTML, and paste it into your blog, e-mail, or whatever. Note that it keeps your query terms in the link (q=blah blah blah).

While we're talking about Google Maps, check it out -- you can view imagery of Mars!

Map away!

19 August 2007

Because privacy is overrated

As soon as I saw this, it reminded me of a certain little apartment in Iasi (that's pronounced "Yash"), Romania:


Melissa knows what I'm talkin' about. :)

17 August 2007

Synchronization Rocks

Philippines. Prisoners + Michael Jackson = amazing choreography.

Or maybe they just have a warden who is really into dance...

08 August 2007

Hen Lotto II

I'm one of about a dozen Americans who watches the Fox show On The Lot regularly. Tonight's episode... not so hot. America somehow voted Zach Lipovsky off, to my dismay. It really should've been Jason Epperson. Oh, well. At least Will Bigham is safe. He has consistently produced the funniest videos. His film this week--Yes Men--continued the hilarity trend. (note that it's not yet available at thelot.com. I'll edit my post and add a link when it's online)

And then there was Adam Stein's video. All three of the show's judges called it out as being the most creative of the night. Um, not so much. I'll post a link to that one as well, when they update the site. I found it very similar to two of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes:

- "Five Characters in Search of an Exit": (video) a bunch of dolls who don't know they're dolls in a bucket at a yard sale of sorts.
- "Stopover in a Quiet Town": (video) a couple is kidnapped by aliens and end up inside an alien child's dollhouse.

Was it just an innocent mistake? For his sake, I hope so!

Update -- Here are the video links:

- Will's movie
- Adam's movie

06 August 2007

OK Computer

Defcon is now over. As you'd expect, the bottom line is that security is nonexistent, blatant holes are everywhere, and we should move back to paper and pencil communications (or maybe even stone tablets). The usual.

The conference was great. Here are some of the highlights of Defcon 15:

- 11 hours of classes with no breaks--yaay! Those of you who don't know me probably think, "surely she's being sarcastic." I'm not, for once. I like technology, I like classes and lectures, and I don't like breaks. I'm not just a workaholic, I'm an infoholic. If I'd taken a break, I would have missed something! I got tons of notes, too.

- The badge, as I mentioned in an earlier blog. Though sometime yesterday mine started freezing up. I noticed that the same thing was happening to other people too... I guess they followed the Microsoft model when they developed it. "Reboot required." (despite the glitch, the badge is still awesome)

- The whole issue with the NBC Dateline reporter. Yeah, I know, I talked about that already, too. It seemed to be the unintentional theme of Defcon 15.

- The poor guy in the "Hacking Social Lives: Myspace.com" (Rick Deacon's "assistant") who accidentally typed both his username and password in the login box... for a couple thousand people to see. Time to change the password for that account! And for all the other accounts that use the same password... :)

- Speaking of revealing passwords, I found the Wall of Sheep very entertaining. That's where they sniff the network for people using insecure logins for various things. They post the username and password (redacted, of course) for all to see. Hmm... searching "Wall of Sheep" on flickr led to this picture. What I actually meant was this.

- The wedding at the end of the award ceremony, for the new game, "Marry the Fed." IMHO, they should raise the bar next year by adding an extra rule: require that the two people who get married at the end of the conference must demonstrate that they were not dating at the start of Defcon. Hmm, I sense reality show material here...

- Priceless quotes (accurate? close enough). Sergey Bratus - "I developed a converter to convert Klingon to English so I could read the text of Hamlet like it was in its original Klingon." Jason Scott - "Wikipedia: It's like you built a really nice car, and then let 12-year-olds drive it into a wall repeatedly 24 hours a day."

- The TCP/IP Drinking Game was amusing. I actually knew some of the answers that the intoxicated experts didn't get (so maybe I had a sobriety advantage)...

- Entertaining shirts, various nerd slogans. "Legolas is my house elf." "Bic Pen Tester." (the latter was actually at Black Hat, not Defcon)

- The Black and White Ball. Great for people watching!

- Last, but not least, really good information. My favorites were "Aliens Cloned My Sheep," "CiscoGate," "Social Attacks on Anonymity Networks" (partly because I think Nick Matthewson has a great voice), "The Inherent Insecurity of Widgets and Gadgets" (though the speakers kept cracking jokes that the audience wasn't reacting to, like "If you're a werewolf, like I am, you probably are interested in adding a widget to tell you when the moon is full." No audience reaction.), and "Storing and Serving Malicious Content from Well Known Web Servers." I'm too tired to post recaps right now. Maybe later...

And I'll end this blog by posting a video to enlighten you on the grand beginnings of the Defcon enterprise:

04 August 2007

Blondes are not to be trusted

The big news from Defcon 15 is that an NBC Dateline reporter snuck into the conference, pretending to be "just another attendee." Apparently she was planning this big expose, trying to find some 13 year old and make him confess to breaking into the Pentagon computer with his PSP (as the Dark Tangent described it). Nice. Understandably, people were not pleased. So the Defcon organizers established a new game: Spot the Reporter!

Early in the day they showed pictures of this reporter. Eventually they outed her, and she fled from the conference. This article contains a video of what went down. Note that you can see my rental car when there are 26 seconds left in the video.

Honestly, though, I was absolutely ecstatic about this entire event from the start. First thing in the morning, they flashed this picture on the screen of a thin, pretty blonde woman and said, "Don't trust her." As a brunette woman, I was very pleased with the effect. It was as if the organizers decreed, "OK, you thousands of attractive male nerds out there... be suspicious of any pretty blonde woman you see. Blonde women can't be trusted. Go for brunettes instead." Thank you, Defcon organizers, for encouraging a healthy fear of blondes.

Now if only that could just spread a bit wider...

03 August 2007

My Defcon 15 Badge

This thing is awesome. The display starts out saying "I <3 DEFCON 15," but you can program the lights to display a <= 16 character scrolling message. Hmm. I want to figure out how to make animated characters.

Let's see... what else is on this thing?

At the bottom, on the back, it says "0100011101001111001000000101011001001111010010010100001101000101" ("GO VOICE" in ASCII).

The coordinates 42.34202 -71.069441 are at the top of the badge. According to Google, that's on Waltham Street, in Boston, MA. The closest address I can find is 44 Waltham Street, which appears to be the address of "Boston Pest"...?

Hmmm... gotta think thru this...

Update (8/4/2007):

After Kingpin's "Making of the Defcon Badge" session yesterday morning, people asked about the geocoordinates and "GO VOICE" in binary. He didn't explain the geocoordinates (said it was a part of hacker history that we should all know), but he did explain "GO VOICE." It's a tribute to the good ol' days of the Internet--after talking to someone on IRC or in your trusty BBS, you'd say "go voice" instead of "call me." Too bad; I was hoping it was something awesome like secret voice activation (visions of Denholm at the end of Yesterday's Jam run thru my mind).

No luck yet with the "hacker historical reference." I've googled names, technologies, locations... nothing. Let me know if any of you out there figure it out.

Update (8/5/2007, really, really early in the morning):

Aww, maaan, it was so obvious! I even thought of it earlier, but apparently didn't google the right things. 42.34202 -71.069441 are the geocoordinates for the old location of "l0pht heavy industries" (which later became @stake, which was even later sucked into Symantec). Kingpin, the badge designer, was in l0pht. They were located at 46 Waltham Street, Boston. I was so close!! Sorry for the delay in getting the info out. I'll do better next time, I promise.

I will add that Google Maps thinks 44 Waltham Street is at that location, not 46 Waltham Street. Bad software. Bad!! No treats for you.

Allez Fuzzing!

Sadly, Black Hat 2007 is now over. My first Black Hat. I learned lots. It inspired me to become even more of a nerd than I currently am. I <3 U, technology. Here's the short version ('cuz I wanna go play with my defcon badge. more on that later):

Black Hat low points:
- The annoying "Hackistan" guy. Seriously. Obnoxious.
- Too much red meat. Three out of four lunches this week were beef. What, did the organizers think all those nerds needed to beef up a bit? Sheesh.

Black Hat high points:
- Iron Chef: Black Hat. It was by far my favorite session. It was the static exploitation tool guys versus the runtime guys. The static guys found way more vulnerabilities, but weren't able to get an exploit tool running in the allotted 45 minutes, so the runtime guys won. Awesome. I hope they bring Iron Chef back next year!
- No-Tech Hacking with Johnny Long.
- Web 2.0 is fundamentally flawed. Amazing that most fancy new sites (gmail, hotmail, and whatever else uses Ajax and authenticates up front then pushes you into an insecure session) are vulnerable--just sniff the URLs visited, pull out one with a sessionid, paste it into your browser, and you're in their account! Doesn't matter if they change their password--you're in anyway! Gmail users--turn on SSL. For other sites... well, let's just hope that talk inspired people to secure their authentication systems!
- Satellite navigation injection attacks. I'd read about this on The Register several months ago, but it was entertaining to see their demos. I love the fact that you can broadcast a message like "bullfight in progress" and have it display in the middle of a freeway or something. Oh, I mean, what a terrible vulnerability. Shocking.

Enough for now. I'll probably think of more later.

27 July 2007

Sorry, I've gotta take this call

You're out on a date. You didn't really want to go out with this person... it's mostly a pity date. You can only take so much conversation from this person.

Your phone rings. Relief!! "Sorry, I've gotta take this call." You answer.

So, who saved you? Technology! Yaay, technology. All you have to do to be saved from conversation misery is arrange to have the Popularity Dialer call at a pre-specified time.

That's even more useful than the Rejection Hotline. Hmm, that reminds me... I may need to bring that number with me on this upcoming trip...

25 July 2007

Order v. Chaos

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as Margaret Wolfe Hungerford wrote. So today is all about art. The problem is that I can't decide which type of artwork I like best: order or chaos. Order? Islamic art, aka geometric art. Chaos? Fractals, aka nerd art.

Let's see what you think.

Geometric design #1

Fractal #1

Geometric design #2

Fractal #2

Geometric design #3

Fractal #3

Geometric design #4

Fractal #4

Geometric design #5

Fractal #5

So... which is better? Order or chaos?

19 July 2007

Find True Love

I have discovered the secret to a happy and fulfilled life. And I have Google to thank! I wish I had known years ago what I know now. The secret is Google Maps. It will show you where you can find any of mankind's greatest desires. It's true! Here's what I get in my search for items on my wish list (and a few on the "avoid" list):

- Men: Brenoux Station, France
- True Love: Akron, Ohio
- Prince Charming: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Power: Pagosa Springs, CO
- Fortune: Arkansas
- Happiness: Memphis, TN
- Wisdom: Montana
- Chivalry: Surrey, UK
- Life: Henderson County, TN
- Jealousy: US Virgin Islands
- Sadness: Knoxville, IA


18 July 2007

Hen Lotto

It's that time. Time for a recap of current TV shows! Yaay! These are the ones I consider noteworthy right now:

- Food shows. Three of them, to be exact. The Monday night boring pointless yelling one on Fox, and then the two I like. Let's contrast them. Next Food Network Star ends on Sunday night. I'm all for having guys pluck unruly eyebrows, but this guy is outta control. Put the tweezers away! Oh, right--the show. I'd prefer to have Amy win. In contrast, there's Top Chef, featuring this season's TALL GUY. Best line:

Guest Chef Judge: Wow, you're really tall.
CJ: Thanks for noticing.

- On The Lot. It's an anagram for Hen Lotto. Despite my Hollywood brother-in-law's feelings on the show, I've found the show to be entertaining. I like Will and Zach best. And I can't believe America has already voted all the girls off! Anyway, these are the films I've liked the best:

* Lucky Penny
* Nerve Endings
* Die Hardly Working
* Spaghetti
* Polished
* Dough: The Musical
* Danger Zone
* Worldly Possessions
* Broken Pipe Dreams
* Dr. In-Law

- Pirate Master. It's an okay show. They do have some interesting strategery going on. For instance, the current captain magically acquired a really fake British accent as soon as he put on his captain's jacket and hat. Plus they've already kicked off all the hot guys. Shame. UPDATE: I like the twist they added in today's episode, because it negated a significant portion of the strategery used by the captain and his mates. They brought back the eliminated players as "ghost pirates," and raced them for the treasure. Considering that they've been eliminating all the people they determined were their strongest competition, they've ended up creating quite a competition for themselves. Hmm, the show may be getting more interesting...

- Last Comic Standing, the International Version. Best line so far, from the Sydney tryouts:

I was watching a DVD the other day, and it had all this anti-piracy information at the beginning of it, you know? It was saying things like, “You wouldn’t steal a car, would you? You wouldn’t steal someone’s wallet, would you?” And I was thinking, “You know, that’s right! I wouldn’t steal a car.” But you know, if a mate of mine called me up and said, “Hey, I just got this new car, would you like me to burn you a copy??” I reckon I might consider it...

- Doctor Who. Creative as always. And, thankfully, I do like his new companion! Better than Rose? We'll see...

- Psych. It's back on! Hooray!

- Eureka. Nerd humor. Ridiculous and infeasible, but typically entertaining.

- Just for Laughs. I'm not impressed. It's an identical copy of the Just for Laughs that they show on BBC America periodically (though I think the show is originally Canadian).

- I almost forgot: Traveler! I watched the first few episodes of this show. It was painfully boring. Dumb plot line, and the frat boy main characters aren't interesting or cute. Even the dark haired blue eyed one (my favorite combination) isn't that attractive, with his googly eyes and perpetual confusedness. The show is now on my "please cancel" list. I never had a "please cancel" list before now.

Things that will be on soon:

- Dressed Up Crazy People and a Cheesy Host. Last season prompted much eye rolling. I haven't decided whether I'm going to watch this one yet.

- The IT Crowd. I love this show enough that I'm kinda expecting a disappointment. They're recycling British Moss. I wonder if he'll use an American accent for the show, like House. I bet his unique fashion sense will overtake the US IT community. Heck, it even makes ME want to wear a short sleeved checkered shirt with an ugly tie!

And I'll end on an IT crowd note. This is one of the reasons I love the show:

16 July 2007

sudo this, sudo that.

Last week I bought a new computer. It's a fantastic laptop. OK, it's a laptop, but it's not fantastic. It was the cheapest one I could find. It doesn't actually have the minimum requirements to run Vista, but it came with Vista pre-installed. So the first thing I did was wipe the hard drive and install Linux (Ubuntu, since it has a pretty solid user base).

I'm now remembering why I stopped using Linux a few years ago. I like the open source movement and all, but I have to admit that I really like the fact that most hardware is automatically supported in Windows. And most software is easier to install on Windows. Under Linux, it's sudo everything. It took two days and a whole bunch of Googling, trial and error (mostly error), and vi under text mode, just to get the OS to recognize the cheap video drivers (sort of) and display at something other than 800 x 600. I probably should have written down which site had the instructions that finally worked. And if you want to run Java in Firefox on Ubuntu, I strongly recommend totally ignoring Sun's installation instructions and going directly to the Ubuntu user forums. Oh, and some network TV stations' online video options are only available to Windows or Mac users. Grr, so I still can't watch the "last" two episodes of Drive!

The trials of Linux. But at least this laptop runs faster than my other computer...

13 July 2007

Like watching a real episode of House!

It's all there.

What's your candy preference?

Now's your chance to have your say. Vote for your favorite candy at the "Tourney of Sweets" on greaze.org!

OK, now I need to go to work.

Song of the Day

Plain White T's - Hate (I Really Don't Like You)

(posted for contrast. I like this song better.)

10 July 2007

What will it cost you?

This will likely inspire you to do some shopping:

09 July 2007

Please Help Save Emily

One day last week I saw a commercial for the local 11:00 news. They were talking about a new not-quite-official-yet disorder, known as Adult Picky Eating Disorder. After the 10 second clip and basically no additional background research, I have decided that my sister Emily must suffer from this. When she lived with me, the freezer was always stocked up with Smart Ones brand Three Cheese Ziti Marinara, and not much else.

Wondering how you can help expand her culinary horizons? I'm accepting donations. Simply send me a small donation (something ending in at least two 0s, on the left side of the decimal point) and I will do my best to encourage her to eat a wider variety of food. I plan to model her new taste in gourmet foods based on the culinary travels of Andrew Zimmern. I can't wait to see the look on her face when she tries mangrove worms or tripe soup for the first time. She'll love it. And she'll love us for encouraging her to try new things. It's all about being charitable.

01 July 2007

Need help with your math homework?

Free tutoring over the phone!

30 June 2007


Ponder on those mostly-flightless birds.

Video #1: Chickens, flash mob style.

Video #2: Whatever you do, keep the chickens HAPPY.

Hmm... maybe I need more sleep!

29 June 2007

How much coincidence is too much coincidence?

A few days ago I had a very odd experience. I was driving home from work in my new car, and looked over at a car in the lane next to me. "Wow, that looks like my old car." It passed me. I noted the old Riverhouse and GWU stickers in the rear window. "Wow. That IS my old car!!" The car ended up driving directly in front of me for a while. Then it made the same turn as me... And then it turned into the same complex as me! Given that I've seen the car parked here since then, it appears that my old car just happens to have been sold to some guy who lives in this same place. I guess that means the dealership fixed the car, rather than selling it for parts...

Weird, though. My old car is haunting me!

27 June 2007

A string of pearls. Or a string in Perl?

Last week I went to Chicago for a class on Perl (that's Practical Extraction and Report Language). Interestingly, it turned out to be the most useful class I've taken in the past 5 or so years. I only wish I'd learned Perl sooner--I can think of all too many occasions when it would have come in very handy.

I found Perl to be a surprisingly intuitive scripting language. No need to mess with variable types or pre-defined parameter passing. I now know it's a language for people like me. As the instructor kept saying, "We are lazy. We're Perl programmers." Shortcuts everywhere! What started out as bunches of lines of code could always be reduced to something like:

while(<>) {

That's a perfectly legitimate and complete script, fyi. $_ rocks. Plus, Perl has great concepts like chomping, slurping, slices, and "anonymous arrays." On some level it made me worry that I'll have to develop an appreciation for carbonated beverages (yuck) and junk food (okay, so I already have that appreciation) to understand the language at a deeper level.

Can't wait to put this dangerous knowledge to good use... :)

18 June 2007

A good reason to be crabby

Imagine you're sitting on the beach, or maybe in the water, enjoying a nice chicken meal. Suddenly someone swoops down, throws you into some uncomfortable container, and drags you into the kitchen to become their dinner. Kind of a morbid thought, eh? Well, that's precisely what we did to a dozen or so Maryland blue crabs this weekend.

I spent the weekend in Maryland with assorted family members. We were on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, staying in a house designed by (and formerly inhabited by) famous architect Arthur Cotton Moore. Hmmm... why do I always want to add "Sir" before his name? Anyway, he is known for his "industrial baroque" style. He was the brains behind renovations of such Washington D.C. buildings as the Old Post Office Building and the Library of Congress. His house, described in 2005 by the Washington Post as a "stainless steel mansion," is a very distinctive waterfront property. Here are some pictures:

It's supposed to be hurricane-proof due to the shape of the roof. It is not, however, flood-proof.
This is the view from inside the main house:

I stayed in this building, which used to be the studio. Think of it as something more like the "servants' quarters" now.

Lots of wildlife in the area. Good sunset views as well. Examples:

Yes, deer.

Duck, duck, goose.

Very patriotic.

Check out those eyes.

Column of geese.

Just before the sun sets.

Just after the sun sets.

And then there was the blue crab experience. Maryland blue crabs like to eat chicken necks. Ultra fresh blue crabs taste great. Here is the complete traumatizing experience:

All she wanted to do was smash the crabs with her mallet:

Lesson learned: despite the fact that it made for a good meal, I still prefer living in a world of denial, in which I eat meat that doesn't look like the animal it came from...

In other news, I bought an orchid at the farmers market in St. Michaels. I keep wanting to refer to it as a fern. Hmm... perhaps I should name my orchid Fern to reduce future confusion. Do people name their plants? Whatever. This is Fern, the Orchid: