29 March 2007

Assorted and Sundry Unidentified Flying Objects

As I was sitting in front of my computer munching on the wrapper of the Baby Ruth candy bar I recently ate (grr, I want this kitchen remodeling* to end so I can eat normal food!), I decided to put my New Mexico pictures onto my computer. Incidentally, I've purchased a new digital camera since my old one kicked the bucket a few weeks ago. Anyway, among the pictures of striking desert landscapes, sunsets, roadrunners, and petroglyphs (ancient graffiti) I was amazed to find a remarkable picture of an Unidentified Flying Object** floating above the Sandia Mountains. Seriously! Check the UFO out:

I suppose Albuquerque is only a few hours away from Roswell...

And that isn't my only UFO picture for the day. Fun person that I am, I was staring out the window onto the balcony this afternoon, when I noticed an odd spot on the window. I thought, "wow, that almost looks like the outline of a bird!" I looked more closely... wings, body (with complete feather outlines), head, beak... oh, my; it IS a bird! As far as I can tell, some poor unsuspecting pigeon decided that it wanted to break in, only to be greeted by the harsh reality of sliding glass doors. Given that I found no dead bird on my balcony, I think it survived the impact. Why it left a complete bird imprint behind, I have no idea. Here's the result of my attempt to photograph the bird outline.

* As is to be expected, the kitchen renovations are taking much longer than I'd expected. Delays, delays, delays. I have new appliances, cabinets, and a floor, but no countertop or sink, and some drywall still needs to go in. Estimated completion: 9 April! Ack. I've learned the hard way that Rule #1 of remodeling is: "Your place is fine the way it is; don't change a thing!"

** Cynical? Yes, there is a very simple, very rational explanation. No, it does not involve me doctoring the photo in any way. No clouds either. You must figure it out yourselves.

27 March 2007

Fascinating things about fascinating things

Tonight you shall learn that I am in the habit of watching excessive amounts of television. When I was young, I read a lot. Now that I'm older and my brain is deader I'm more able to focus on pictures of reality generated by someone else's imagination.

I'm assuming that you don't watch all of the same shows as me. As a result, I'm going to provide summaries of some of the shows I watch.

*important disclaimer*
If I ever recommend a TV show, movie, or book, you may want to ask me whether I like the TV show, movie or book, or if I like the IDEA of the TV show, movie, or book. It is an important distinction. For example, I recommended Max Barry's book Jennifer Government to a few people because it is the philosophical antithesis of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (which, incidentally, I thought was a dumb book. If I'm really bored one of these days I'll give you the joy of a book report--maybe even comparing and contrasting the "dangers of extreme capitalism" book with the "dangers of extreme socialism" book. What a treat that will be.). After taking me up on my recommendation, someone asked if I really enjoyed the book. I had to think about it for a minute. Realistically, the plot was weak, and by the ending it all sort of fell apart. But I was so intrigued with the IDEA of the book--and, in particular, the contrast with Ayn Rand's "masterpiece"--that I had forgotten that I didn't even like it that much.
*end important disclaimer*

Now that you've endured my warning, you get to the good part. Here's more than you ever needed to know about the TV shows I watch:

- Lost - My sister and I watched all of Seasons 1 and 2 over Columbus Day weekend (a.k.a. Indigenous People's Day, in selected parts of California; a.k.a. Indigent People's Day, according to my mom who forgot that it was really Indigenous and not Indigent) last year. Season 3 has been rather disappointing. What's up with the torture plot lines? But I watch it anyway, hoping that Benry really is Radiohead singer Thom Yorke and at any moment is going to break out into a fantastic rendition of my favorite song. Incidentally, this is the best Radiohead video. It's deep, just like Lost tries to be. And we come full circle.

- Heroes - Comic book style stories are very popular right now, aren't they? When I first saw the previews for this show, I thought it was a fictional story based on stories of people who are nice to other people -- help the old lady across the street and that sort of thing. Apparently my mind skipped over the "flying human" and "stopping time by wrinkling your nose" themes. Um, how did I miss that?? At one point someone described the actual plot, and I decided to watch it. I do like this show, though I can't stand the Las Vegas schizophrenic woman and associated plotline. Ugh. That branch of the overall story needs to end.

- Top Design - I'm a big Project Runway and Top Chef fan--after all, who could forget Project Runway's post office challenge or the garden episode, or the Top Chef monkfish episode? The creativity is spectacular. Not just the creativity of the contestants, but the creativity of whoever develops those seriously twisted challenges. When I first heard about Top Design, I had high expectations. They were not met. The one noteworthy thing about Top Design is the fact that judge Kelly Wearstler is trying hard to look like a damsel in distress from a Waterhouse painting. The examples are here and here and here and here and here. Is she starved for attention? It's as if she's trying to take the focus off the contest and contestants, and make herself the "story of the show." Unfortunately, given the boring contestant interactions and blah plotlines, she's succeeding.

- America's Next Top Model - Seriously, I watch this show. No, it's not for the catfights. It has some great dialogue ("I know, right?"), and plot twists (Russian mail order bride??). But if you're really interested in my primary reason for watching ANTM, you'll have to visit my blog this weekend..

- American Idol - It's fascinating to see the confidence. These people really believe they are the best. It reminds me of this video (specifically, watch 4:24-5:26. Peter Serafinowicz, you ARE a pop idol.)

- Psych - Ahh, the sweet, sweet sarcasm. I'm more than a little bitter about the short duration of this show's "seasons." How could it be over already?? It's almost as depressing as the 6-episode British comedy "seasons." In my heart I've already purchased the DVD.

Yeah. Too much TV.

24 March 2007

I think it's wrong that only one company makes the game Monopoly

What are your feelings about computer games? You know what I'm talking about -- those little distractions that are almost more popular than movies. Personally, I haven't been all that into computer games since they've started to become more and more "realistic." Games are SUPPOSED to be unrealistic. The semi-realistic ones are for people who are trying to hide from their real lives. But that's a topic for another day.

What kind of games do I like? Well, on business trips I tend to go for trendy cell phone casual games (at least when I'm not out with colleagues discussing Lost or other fine products of the human imagination). But my favorite genre is probably text-based gaming. It brings back memories of our old Apple IIe. Goodness, I miss that computer.

Thankfully, Homestar Runner produced a series of text-based games--the Thy Dungeonman series. The next best is Peasant's Quest, which is based on my all-time favorite game, King's Quest. I probably shouldn't admit that I have the entire King's Quest series on my computer.

I never got into playing chess (though I do like fancy chess boards), but I do like Othello and Reversi. They may or may not be different games. If you want to know the minute hypothetical differences, feel free to visit the links I included. If you're bored and need something to take up time, I'd be happy to play Reversi with you (via Yahoo Games). I may or may not let you win. :)

20 March 2007

Pets that look like their owners...?

I'm still in New Mexico. It's amazing what discussions come up during green chile dinnertime discussion. If it's any indicator, this site factored into the conversation...


17 March 2007

Ailihphilia or aibohphobia?

A week with three official holidays! Now, that's something to celebrate. Pi Day, then the Ides of March, and now St. Patrick's Day. I hope you're all wearing something green. I'm celebrating by spending my time in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the homeland of my mom's side of the family (since 1951, at least). Due to the family connection, I'm one of a small number of people who can spell Albuquerque correctly without thinking about it. Clearly, that means my life thus far has been an incredible success. I was supposed to go back to DC for the weekend, but the latest in a long line of ice storms made that not so. Fine by me--the weather here in NM is great!

Anyway, back to this week's holidays. Apparently many schools decided to celebrate Tri-Holiday Season by scheduling spring break this week. What could make the week more exciting? That's an easy question. The answer: more holidays! Let's fill the whole week with 'em--seven solid days of celebration. I've taken the liberty of making up four additional holidays. Feel free to pretend you collaborated. Or, if you don't like mine, make up some of your own!

Septholiday Schedule:

3/11 - Cure Cover Song Day. 311. Lovesong. Do I have to explain it? Sorry, I just don't feel like it.

3/12 - Quarter Day! Spend the day polishing your entire quarter collection. Or you can spend the day reducing fractions! So many options.

3/13 - Yadiloh Holiday. Celebrate palindromes! If you're an elihphile (as I am), you'll enjoy this one. Celebrate at exactly 3:13 on 3/13. You can do all sorts of fun things, like round up your bill at the restaurant so that (with tip) the number is reversible. After all, $18.81 looks much better than $18.53 or something. Or you can cite famous palindromes, like "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama." Or buy a goldfish and name it Hannah or Bob or something. Gotta love symmetry. I sure do.

3/14 - This one already is a widely celebrated holiday. Hooray for Pi Day!

3/15 - Beware the Ides of March! Stab a friend in the back today. Or let someone betray you. Maybe you deserve it...

3/16 - I'm going to make this "Cynical About Technology Day." I just don't believe that bits and bytes can be sent around the world in the blink of an eye. I certainly can't walk that fast. So how on earth can I e-mail someone on the other side of the planet and have the message arrive in their inbox in a matter of seconds? It must be some sort of Truman Show type setup. If you happen to believe in this technological nonsense, then you'll note that today in binary is 10000. For those curious cynics out there, spend the day reading the RFCs that became the foundation of the modern Internet. Reading is fun!

3/17 - St. Patrick's Day! A good day to close out the holiday week. I'm opting not to wear green, 'cuz I have green eyes. That counts, right?

11 March 2007

What next?

The last few days have been weird (to say the least), so I'm currently distracting myself by finding new entertaining videos on YouTube. I guess there's sort of a sci fi theme going on here. Why? Good question.

- This is one of the oldest sci fi movies. Hooray for French people in pointy hats!

- If you're a fan of TV show Heroes, this video may be of interest.

- Star Wars #1: How did George Lucas come up with the plot?

- Star Wars #2: COPS, Storm Trooper style

- Star Wars #3: Chad Vader, forever living in the shadow of his brother.

- Star Trek #1: TNG, just as I remember it.

07 March 2007

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced

Hooray for my good friend insomnia, who decided to visit again tonight. I'll use this opportunity to draft a long-overdue posting on famous Danish exports, inspired by my January trip. Are you familiar with the commercial products of Denmark? Well, there are the pastries, which I can't say enough about. Danes export lots of pork, I'm told. They also export bunches of important Computer Science people, including the creators and co-creators of programming languages such as C++ and C#. Legos are a Danish product; the name "lego" is derived from two Danish words, which translate to something like "play well." And who can forget ye olde viking kings of England? They were from Denmark too.

But you're omitting the most important one: Denmark's export of depressed people. There are so many examples from which to choose. Here is my tribute to the famous depressed people of Denmark:

  • Hamlet - Sure, he's fictional... but he's Danish and he's depressed. Given that I studied Hamlet in two different high schools and at least two college classes, I can't skip him.

During my trip I took a tour up to "Hamlet's Castle" (if you're planning to travel there, note that the "Hamlet's Castle" tour gives you 20 minutes at Kronborg Castle and several hours at other castles). The castle was actually a tollbooth and a prison, not a royal residence.

  • Ophelia - Fictional too. I suppose she's more crazy than depressed, but what the heck, I'll include her here too.
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern - These characters from Hamlet actually were based on real people. Real names, at least. Apparently there were lots of Rosenkrantzes and Gyldenstiernes who visited the English royal courts in Shakespeare's time. For what it's worth, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is one of my all-time favorite plays.
  • Viggo Mortensen - He's half Danish. Have you seen his art, music, and poetry? Dark and sullen.
  • Hans Christian Andersen - Only Disney thinks fairy tales should have happy endings. Have you read Andersen's real stories? Depressing. Try the original Little Mermaid, or The Little Match Girl! Then again, there's The Princess and the Pea, which was designed to teach girls that it's okay to be high maintenance. Interestingly, I was surprised to find that his fable titled This Fable Is Intended For You really was about me.
  • Most importantly: Famous philosopher Søren Kierkegaard - One of the first things I noticed on my trip was that Copenhagen had lots of areas named after him. For instance, he is buried in a place called Assistens Kirkegård. And there are bunches of other kirkegårds around. It didn't take me too long to realize that the word "kirkegård" (which is basically his last name) is actually Danish for "cemetery." Of course the guy was depressed--you would be too if your last name meant "graveyard."

But the main reason I'm including Kierkegaard in the list has to do with my hopeless romantic (though mostly hopeless) side. This famous "father of existentialism" is also famous for his depressing love story. When he was 24 or so he fell in love with Regine Olsen, who was 15 at the time. More than two years later, during some sort of piano recital at her family's home, he confessed his feelings: "Oh! What do I care for music, it's you I want, I have wanted you for two years." And they became engaged. (note: they just don't make men like that anymore, do they?)

But, naturally, this overly analytic philosopher with the last name of "graveyard" decided inexplicably that the relationship could not be. He broke off the engagement--and broke Regine's heart--for reasons still not quite understood. He claimed in his journals that it was due to his "melancholy." She later married, but he never did. According to some source that is cited in Wikipedia (bah, you can find the original source yourself), "it can be argued that no other single woman has been so instrumental in a major philosopher's development as Regine was to Kierkegaard."

The Copenhagen City Museum houses a tiny Kierkegaard exhibit. I had to search a bit before finding the exhibit; it was in a closet-sized space just outside the ballroom, where a modeling shoot was taking place (a story for another day... or never). There I learned the last interesting fact for the evening. One of the items on display was the engagement ring that Kierkegaard had given Regine. Apparently in the tradition of the time, when an engagement was broken off, the gems in the ring would be reset in the shape of a cross. Kierkegaard did so, and wore the former engagement ring for the rest of his life.

I think Kierkegaard's failed romance would make a good movie. Or at least a movie that I would watch. Hmm... that's giving me writing-related ideas...

04 March 2007

Change is in the air!

One thing that I plan to change very soon is the location of my blog. The MySpace blog site has been too unstable for me lately... it keeps eating my postings, or erroring out. I've finally decided "enough is enough." Sometime in March (when I have some free time) I'm going to make the effort to teleport my blog. My top candidates are Blogger and Wordpress. Any others I should consider?

And speaking of change, I'm finally getting my condo renovated. My new dishwasher has been decorating my living room for far too long, and the boxed new kitchen cabinets are taking up space in my dining area. The almost-former kitchen is getting gutted tomorrow.

No kitchen. Hmm. I need to eat, and, though I enjoy fast food periodically, I don't want to gain thirty pounds during the course of the upgrades. Instead, I am going to see how many "just add boiling water" meals I can make during the refrigerator/stove/microwave-free chaos. I bought one of those nice electric teapots that are so popular in my office.

Thus far, these seem to be my food options:

- Couscous
- Quinoa
- Macaroni and Cheese
- Ramen Noodles
- Cup-a-soup
- Soup Cups
- Cream of Wheat
- Hot Chocolate (that's a meal, right?)
- If I get really desperate, I can just add water to my cereal...

*Sniff* I'm going to miss my kitchen appliances...

01 March 2007

Food is an important part of a balanced diet

So, you don't like veggies? Well, you carniverous beast, perhaps you'd appreciate them more if they looked like cuddly little creatures.

I think that pretty much sums it all up.