Monthly Archives: November 2007

Planet Earth in 720p

Let me tell you. I wasn’t really prepared for how awesome this would be. I hooked up one of the “spare” boxes that meander around here from time to time, threw Debian Etch on it, and did the tweaking to get it up on the set. I initially tried to play an h264 encoded copy of Heroes, but even simple playback was unpossible with my puny little 2.0 Ghz computer with the Geforce 6200 video card (seriously? What the fuck are you people using for HTPCs these days, brand new boxes?). Instead I found a Divx encode of Planet Earth and gave her a go.

Stunning. Just absolutely magnificent. I felt the shame of all those years trying to get TV-out working to an old set hot in my face, messing with overscan, tinkering with resolutions. All pathetic in the light of this most amazing picture. Those of you who are upset that we’re moving to digital TV and wondering what the big deal is? This is the big deal. You can see things. Like, leaves. It’s difficult to explain properly without having a set in front of you, but there is something about being able to see things in detail that allows you to become immersed in shit that you would otherwise not care about in the slightest. A friend who will remain nameless has admitted to watching a show about fishing because it was in HD. A FISHING SHOW. I have to tell you, I’d watch golf at this point, as long as I could watch the grass gently blowing around on the fairway and read the brand names on the balls. It’s compelling.

And another thing: I now have some inkling why Television got so popular in the first place. I got to experience the phenomenon of getting in on the ground floor with the Internet too, but I suspected that it was somehow different because it was (somewhat) interactive (and becoming much moreso now). And while that is true to one degree or another, the same sort of growing fascination and awe turns on the same brain switches with the new HDTV, and it’s about as interactive as taking a dump.

Also, I would totally rock some Hello Kitty tires on my bike.

Tasers…

So, I’ve been seeing a lot of situations lately where tasers are being used left and mother fucking right for no good god damned reason.

Law enforcement officers of the world, here is the question you need to ask yourself before you use that taser.

“Would I have shot him with my sidearm?”

If the answer is yes, the situation, before the common outfitting of the taser, was a situation that would have become a shooting, then go ahead. Blast that fucker. That’s the goal of the device, to reduce shootings, not to increase the number of projectile assaults an officer gets to participate in.

If the answer is no, then put the fucking thing away. Don’t taze an old man just because he doesn’t speak your language, don’t taze a college student for asking questions, don’t taze a college student for failing to show ID, don’t taze a motorist for asking you a question about the crime you’re accusing him of. If you are not prepared at this point to kill the person, then don’t shoot them, with anything.

The situation immediately following a tazing should flow like this.

Taze to the ground.
Draw firearm.
Be prepared to put a slug in the fucker if he moves from the place you tazed him to. Put a knee in his neck and arrest him.

It shouldn’t ever be a situation where you taze him to the ground, ask him to do something, taze him again for not listening, taze him again for making you taze him, taze him a third time for fun, taze him a fifth time for making you mess up your taze count. This isn’t the proper use of the device, this is you torturing someone who cannot understand anything you’re saying.

Don’t get me started on the “pepper spray dousings” you guys seem to think is a perfectly rational way to respond to a demonstration is.

Law Enforcement Agencies out there – you need to get a fucking handle on this quick, and start treating each taser discharge the same way you would treat an officer shooting someone with a gun. There needs to be accountability in any use of force.

Winter commute

When I moved up to Portland, the first thing that I did was start riding my bike again. I needed a compulsive activity to distract me from smoking, and also the late summer weather was nice enough to ride in and not want to kill myself, this was a novelty. I moved up here in September, rode for a while, braced myself for a nasty winter (which was, in fact, not that bad) filled with car commutes, and then took it up again in Spring.

That next year, I decided to hell with the car. I’d ride my bike every (work)day of the year. And I did. Lots of miles, 10 miles a day, 5 days a week, from March to November. And then the holidays came, and lo and behold I found myself back in a car for my commute.

Looking at next week (and the next) being oncall weeks for work, I decided I had better get some miles in if I’m going to have my gear sussed out for the real cold. I put on my best guess clothes this morning (42f according to weather report) and rode in.

Best Guess Clothing

  • Thin balaclava
  • Underarmor wicking base layer
  • Poly t-shirt
  • Poly tights
  • “bike shorts” (light linen shorts I use during summer rides)
  • Burley Rock Point jacket
  • Helmet
  • Gore Windstopper gloves

This was FOLLY.
My gloves, helmet, jacket, all worked out fine. The balaclava was a MISTAAKE, I ended up sweaty and feeling like I was struggling for breath. The tights/shorts combo worked out OK, I wouldn’t have wanted more warmth, but I would have wanted the shorts to go down past the knee. I should have just worn the base layer and stuffed the shirt in a bag. If I was going for a longer ride, I should have done the reverse, because that jacket keeps my body heat near my arms pretty well.

Lesson learned, less clothing when it’s 40. I should have known when my head felt toasty warm at the beginning of the ride that I’d regret it.

Of Bigass TeeVees and Chili and Laziness

So, I finally ended up getting an HDTV. My folks indicated early on that they were going to be giving me cash “to be applied to a TV” for Christmas, and that freed up some budgetary concerns, and allowed me to take part in the great American tradition of going woefully into debt between Thanksgiving and New Years. I am now $700 into my future pay, but with the benefit of having a TV that is so big that pornography seems _extra_ pornographic on it. Even with just my regular, sad, normal Xbox (composite) video feed, things look very nice indeed (aside from having to fiddle with the fill-width-versus-center button from time to time depending on what I’m doing in XBMC). The lower quality rips I have are decidedly lower quality looking on the LCD than they were on the powerfully cheap Symphonic 27-but-probably-more-like-25-inch that I was using before, but also they’re being blown up nearly twice the size so whatever. DVDs look passable, and I have gone into additional debt with the goal of improving this video situation (Dear eBay: Send one Xbox High Definition AV Pack pleaseandthankyou). So, Westinghouse 42-inch 1080p LCD set, you are awesome.

A couple notes, I did have to go in and turn on the Interlace Filtering. Otherwise occasionally there would be a rainbow band, single pixel high, at the top of the screen. Not sure what that was about, other than I guess it was probably a function of the crappy compsite video. Hopefully the AV pack thing fixes that shit. I also find myself woefully low on High Definition content to put on there. I believe there are some “Discovery Planet Earth” torrentia in my future (despite their hugeness).

I also made chili this weekend, in the spirit of conspicuous consumption and in keeping with the Thanksgiving-to-Christmas lardgorge tradition of the Walker family. It came out OK, but just OK. I forgot to add onions until way too late in the game, and there is still something fundamentally missing from my spice mix. I think the chili powder I ended up using was weak and sad. Next time, I’ll make my own from dried chiles. Also I used about 1/3 pork to 2/3 beef. The pork was VERY lean and I think that contributed to a poor mouthfeel. Next time I will either find fattier pork or supplement with bacon ends and pieces. Not as good as Carrol Shelby’s spice pack, and that’s pretty weak.

And on to cycling, of which I have done very fucking little. It got cold, I got sick, and now I have grown lazy, waking up at 6:15, checking my email, showering, and driving in to work as the rule rather than the exception. I need to fix this, but man has it been bitch cold out there. I have my sheer-ish balaclava and my warm gloves found, so now I just need to man up and get on the bike in the morning. It’s no longer in that awkward 50 degree area where I’d sweat through my clothes under my jacket, either. 30 degree mornings all the way around, dry and clear, which is pretty good weather for riding. I need to find some sort of clear eye-things. I can wear my cool-cat sunglasses I got in my post-op kit, but wearing dark glasses at 6am is retarded, and I’d like some wind protection. I guess if I really wanted to ride in I’d set my alarm back to normal time and pack my bags the night before, so I am going to try to do that tonight and ride in Tuesday/Thursday this week.

Also I had a coffee date on Saturday which was quite nice. I am trying to work up the stones to ask for a second less coffeeish meeting, but haven’t thought of a place to go. Maybe Kenny and Zukes.

Some kind of wonderful…

I’ve heard that song like four times today. Can I get a witness.

Anyhow, I wanted to let everyone know that this is the best written review of anything ever. There should be a chapter on this in journalism textbooks. There has never been a multipart review that I actually fiended for the second installment of. This is a unique experience. Much like Stephen Fry’s positively-titanic review of the iPhone and every item in history that could possibly be called part of it’s family tree, it gave me a moment of unadulterated joy for the unabashed honesty and humanity of the reviewer, the passion they had for the craft of writing, and the detail with which they expressed their opinions.

More reviews should be written with this level of passion and personality. Just sayin’. And that is why I am working on my review of “No Country For Old Men”. Will it be long? As sure as Cormack McCarthy a Vietnam obsessed blowhard with a talent for evocative imagery and an inability to cinch a story together!

Ready for anything

It’s a recurring dream, or more a recurring dream construct. I’m out with my friends. This time it was Daniel Owen and Mitchell Abbot. We’re kids, kinda. The ages keep changing, but they scale together, you dig? We’re riding mountain bikes over the ridge and then suddenly we’re road tripping in the Pirate Honda, with a boat on the top.

Ready for any situation.

That’s when we hit the flood. For some reason we go down next to the river, and the street is always flooded. Then we look back and the whole city is flooded. This time we hit it in the car and it capsizes, leaving just the small boat floating. We desperately clamber over the broken flotsam of the ruined neighborhood, and into the boat. I am pissed because my cellphone got wet, but I’ve been here before. I know what this is about.

We paddle up street until we hit the house with the Ark. It’s a luxury yacht, three hundred yards long and eighty feet tall, built entirely of wood. It perches atop a tiny, tiny trailer and is towed by a nondescript black SUV. We go into the back yard and I find a spot of sunshine to dry my cellphone in. The little moisture indicator has gone red and I’m pissed.

The woman walks out with her kids, just like every time I have this dream, and asks where we were headed. I explain that the car capsized in the flooded street, and she just clucks in vague acknowledgment. “I’ll go get a copy of the map, you don’t still have one from last time?” I do, but it’s in the car, so I send Mitchell in with her to finish the transaction. She begins to explain to him how FISA came down and gave them all evacuation maps. I don’t have time to correct her. Besides, I can’t remember the acronym she meant to say. I’m going to go back to the car to see if I can salvage anything else.

I paddle back in the boat and the Pirate Honda is nowhere to be seen, sucked beneath the gentle ebb and flow of the flooded street. I watch an unfortunate car turn down here, seeking shallower water, but immediately the engine is snuffed and the driver looks panicked. It’s Debanjan Ghosh. I quickly paddle away again to avoid being seen, that would just be more awkward conversation.

When I get back to the Ark house, the Ark is gone, and so are Daniel and Mitchell. My cell phone is dry and I stuff it back into my pocket along with the car keys and the woman hands me the map. “No charge” she says, picking up her pitcher of Sun Tea and walking back into the house. I turn around and the dogs are out, and suddenly I’m back at the Toledo Street house of my childhood. The fence is broken, and Buddy and Zuel have taken my cycling shoes out into the yard and chewed them up. They come over soaking wet and I know they’ve been down at the river, they followed the smell of the car. I reach down to touch them, to feel their fur and know that they’re real.

And then I woke up.

The Proposal

I don’t know why every interaction has to be such a god damned chore.

You see, like most times when I post an personals ad, I got replies. Sure, I got the requisite random-letter-sequence@randomnumbers.ru Brunglish replies, but I also got a couple of genuine people. One didn’t respond after the first volley. One responded with “I LOVE TO LAUGH”, and was disregarded out of hand. Another responded and included a Myspace link that didn’t inspire a lot of interest. Another? Well… Let’s just say my interest was piqued.

So I mentioned that. And I mentioned that I might be interested in getting a cup of coffee (I have no idea what people “do” on dates, so this is the best idea I could come up with). I also included a picture of me.

And she responded with the sort of unguarded enthusiasm that is normally reserved for dental visits when you’re asked whether you’ll be paying by cash or check. There was a lot of heavily implied reluctance, along with plainly stated reluctance (the perfecta). But she also included a picture of herself, and indicated that it was I that had a choice to make, for some ill defined reason vaguely related to her age (Fargo and I both looked at the picture for a while, to see if I was missing something, she looks to be about my age to me).

Now, my natural response when someone does this is to run, not walk, in the other direction. I had a magnificently bad set-up with someone that started with this sort of – I’ll be generous and call it – lukewarm reaction. Nothing sets a date off right like showing up and having your date turn to her roommates to say, “Hopefully this won’t take long”. And that is the same gut reaction I had to this email.

Ladies, here is a free tip: If you aren’t interested, just fucking say it! And don’t think that I want to take out out to dinner for the pure unadulterated pleasure of buying you shit. Don’t make mealy mouth excuses about wanting to meet “all kinds of people” and “trying anything once”. If you have to make excuses to go on the date, you should really just man up and say “Hey. I’m not interested in you. Let’s both save an uncomfortable evening and not do this.”

I responded that I was still interested in going out, because I am holding out hope that this isn’t just some delightful game that translates to “Whoa, you’re not what I imagined you’d look like but I’m too ‘nice’ to just say no”.

The One with the Points on the Ends

I posted a craigslist ad:

What is with all the chicks talking about Fantasy Football? Where are the women who could give a crap about a bunch of drug-inflated semiliterate “professional” game-playing-adults? Honestly. Read a book, or something. Obsessing over spreadsheets of average-yards-per-jockstrap-ruined of some millionaire manchild between bouts of snorting designer caviar and shopping for larger rims for his refrigerator is about as pointless as reading one of their diaries.

I’m 28. I wouldn’t know Brent Favreau if he rushed a sack into my tacklebox. I have a job that sucks. I love Deadwood and William Gibson. As a child I drank an Orange Crush that had a layer of hot chili oil on the lip and I just cried from the pain and cried and drank more and cried. I have a dogs. One pair. I ate cereal for breakfast. I like my bicycle. I like the sunshine, and I hate that we’ve given up freedom in the name of safety. I have a Myspace but it’s really just so I can look at other people’s stuff. I don’t like polyamory.

You should probably be around my age. You should maybe have read a book in the past couple months. You can like sports, but you should understand that when you talk about how many runs batted in someone has I am going to get that faraway look and will probably be replaying old episodes of Duck Tales in my head.

New Theme

Genkitheme spontaneously crapped out on me, I’m not sure why. It was letting the widgets flow off the bottom. I tried to download the 1.2 version (which was 2.3 tagging compatible) but no such luck. So here we are on greenline. I hate what it does with my Google Reader Shared Items, I hate that there’s no separation on the recent posts and twitters, and I hate that there’s a big stupid orange blobby thing to subscribe to my tweets, but no such button to subscribe to my content, so this is probably just going to be a short term thing, but it looks better than default.