The other night I was trying to tell Rob about the freaky-scary haunted building D used to live in -- not cool-scary-haunted like I had always expected haunted places to be, but freaking-scary-haunted. What really surprised me is how not-at-all frightening any of the occurrences were after being robbed of the context you feel at 3:15am while lying awake letting your imagination get away with itself. My imagination is rather good -- I find that I can pretty easily work myself up into a state of unease without much effort at all. Or, rather, no amount of effort can stop it once it gets going that way.
When I was about 13, I was terrified of Freddy Kruger. This sounds really stupid -- and I agree it is -- but he scared me to death. At that point, I had never even seen a Freddy Kruger movie. I knew what he looked like, I knew his story, and I had worn a replica of that fuckin' glove he wears (my neighbor was completely obsessed with Freddy, his mom's boyfriend made him a really awesome Freddy glove one year for Halloween). That was enough. I also knew that he was fictitious, but that didn't help at all. I'd just start thinking of Freddy and work myself into a state of extreme unease.
In times like those I would resort to something that I think most people who've ever been children must know about -- the Olympic event children everywhere have used undoubtedly since the beginning of time: The Terrified-Triple-Jump. You know the one I mean? With eyes squinched shut, you quickly flip off the light, take a giant leaping step into the middle of your room and then dive with all your might towards the bed, landing half-on/half-off the bed and sliding under the covers in one graceful move. Every Christmas I opened presents, hopeful that I would be the proud recipient of one of Gary Larson's Monster Snorkels. but alas, I never got one.
I like being scared, but apparently only in controlled situations. A movie about ghastly things banging on the inside of someone's closet door is great. I'm there. However, when something ghastly is banging on the inside of my closet door or reaching up from the darkness inside the gaping maw of a 100 year old Murphy Bed to get me while I try desperately to sleep, I most definitely wish that I'm not there.
If you are sitting at a Thai restaurant, enjoying a nice dinner with Dean Koontz* and then get an instant message from your girlfriend, who is having trouble playing a VCD on the home-made Tivo that lives at her place, and you then proceed to SSH into the computer to figure out why it isn't working, then you just might be a little bit of a geek.
If you then post about it on your blog rather than listen to Dean's excessively wordy blatherings from the table, you are most certainly a geek.
* It never ceases to amaze me just how fucking much Dean Koontz's writing irritates me up until the story gets into full swing. At that point I usually get engrossed and don't pay much attention to his horrible choice of words. Then the novel ends and I enjoy I completely -- totally forgetting that I thought it was annoying until a year or so
later when I once again pick up one of his books and go through it allover again.
Today while copying some semi-important files off of my computer onto a usb removable drive (to take over to D's place without burning a bunch of DVDs), my harddrive died.
I had just finished copying all of Brisco County Jr. onto the removable drive when things suddenly became really unstable. It won't boot at all now, so I'm going to have to reinstall everything after putting the new drive in.
I've had the removable drive sitting here for about 2 weeks while I procrastinated copying things over to it, so I'm really glad I finally decided to do it when I did. Brisco would have been lost forever otherwise.
There's been some hooplah the last couple days regarding the video of Bush "flipping off reporters."
Here's the video:
Click to play
I admit, it does look quite a bit like Bush is flipping the bird, but I am 100% positive that is not what is being depicted. I spent some time this morning with the GIMP doing some rotoscoping and photographing my own hand and have come up with this scenario.
Click to enlarge
While I was painstakingly tracing hand shaped outlines on the really zoomed in image, I could clearly see the shadowing and lighting hilights of everything I was tracing. There's no doubt in my mind this is what happened.
I would have to agree with many of the detractors who say that flipping the bird is a gesture one should not expect from the President of the greatest country in the world, but even had he done it, it wouldn't be that big a deal. People tend to put politicians (and our founding fathers) on this pedestal like they are more than mere mortals. It is fun to point out when Bush makes mistakes or does stupid shit because frankly, he isn't the sharpest tool in the shed. But does he have to be? No. That's what his handlers are for. Presidents don't write speeches. Presidents don't answer questions unless the question has been previously approved. I'm not saying that Bush doesn't make decisions about things, but he has good people who are there to present him with a multitude of information about the decisions, so the fact that he's no genius doesn't really matter all that much.
It isn't often that I defend Bush on things, but this seems like a pretty clear case of people who don't like him grasping at straws just trying to find stuff to make him look bad.
That said, here's video of Bush flipping the bird for real.
Know those annoying "Support our XXXXX" ribbon magnets I'm always going on about? I think those have tiny RFID chips built into them, allowing the government to track the most trendy, patriotic, easily manipulated citizens.
How does the government know who has what magnets, or know when you replace your worn ones for newer ones? Simple: fast food restaurants.
Bear with me here.
Every fast food chain has closed circuit cameras pointed at the front of your car while you are at the drivethru, in case you rob the place or something. A computer uses the camera to read your license plate, cross references that with the unique ID that the ribbon magnet transmits, and then adds it to a database if it isn't there already. Because of the highly sophisticated computer software our government is using to curb the threat of terrorism, we know that people who eat chicken sandwiches are 37% more likely to be terrorists than people who eat only beef sandwiches. Also, terrorists prefer the Vinagrette dressing on their salads a whopping 43% over both Ranch and Thousand Island combined. A terrorist will never, ever Supersize, so that's an easy flag right there.
"Surely America's fast food restaurants would never join forces with the government," you might say. Well, I have some startling evidence to support my claim. Have you noticed all the fast food chains here in America are changing the color schemes of their restaurants and logos to contain more red, white and blue? I have. Take a look. All of them are now red white and blue. Case closed.
I've been getting tons of searches for "harry potter pirated ebook psp" type search strings, so I figure I'll help out any future searchers.
You can (probably) find the book in various different formats by clicking here. It is up to you to sort out the fake ones from the legit ones and determine what format you want it in. If you want to read .txt or .html versions on your PSP (assuming it is firmware 1.50 or lower), you can download the ebook reader I used here.
If you are unfamiliar with installing applications on your PSP, it isn't difficult. Most applications nowdays come already set up with the necessary hackiness already done; you just copy the 2 strangely named folders to your PSP/GAME/ folder on your PSP (after plugging it into your usb port of course) and then go to he game menu in the psp and scroll down to memory stick. Click X to run just like it were a game in the UMD drive.
The following are some more ways to avoid making me glare menacingly at you in public places:
1) When your 5 year old is screaming and kicking the puppy cage in the pet store, don't wait 5 minutes and then at the top of your lungs scream vague threats at him to try to get him to stop. Fucker.
2) When driving in a parking lot, treat all the white/yellow lines drawn as if they were drawn on an actual road. Don't go driving around willy nilly across empty parking spaces between parked cars. Don't twice nearly crash into me as I calmly drive in the areas where you are supposed to drive. Fucker actually drove around in a complete circle across 2 parking areas and I had to slam on my brakes twice to avoid being hit by him. Fucker.
3) When in the grocery store, or any public place really, don't have a loud obnoxious conversation on your mobile phone. This goes double if the woman running the checkout lane is trying to ask you questions regarding your bag preferences, whether you have a club card, if you want fries with that etc. Fucker.
4) When parking in a busy parking lot, drive the extra few feet to a parking spot that may be a slightly longer walk rather than block every bit of traffic as you wait for a spot. Especially if it is an elderly couple who still has to do the following things while you wait: walk to their car, pack up all the purchases they have made, perform the 120 point safety check required of all 80+ year old drivers, and spend 5 minutes backing and filling to get their 1963 Lincoln Towncar out of the compact space without hitting the Hummer H2's on either side -- also in compact spots. One time a few years ago someone was doing this in a multi-story parking garage, and both of the 2 levels I could see were completely full of cars at a standstill waiting for some jackass to get his close spot. After 6 minutes of sitting in one place when I could see several spots up ahead, I finally had had enough. I exited my car and started walking briskly towards the jackass in question. At the time I had fairly long hair, which was dyed some unnaturally cyberpunk vampire color, had a huge long pointy goatee, was dressed all in black and was wearing badass motorcycle boots and big dark sunglasses. I had no idea what I was actually going to say when I got there, but it surely wasn't going to be pleasant. Luckily for me, the jackass got the point and drove on. Fucker.
I just now realized the significance of the name Firefox.
In case you didn't know, at one point Firefox was named Phoenix after the mythical bird that is reborn from its own ashes. See, the reason the broswer came into being was that people felt Mozilla had become just too bloated and feature laden to be useful. Stripping out the bloat and useless features left a better slimmer browser, one that "rose from the ashes" of Mozilla -- just like its mythical namesake bird does.
There were some legal problems with the name so it was changed to Firebird. This name preserved the idea of rising from out of the fire, but was changed again shortly to Firefox in fear of future name conflict problems.
I have always wondered why they strayed away from the phoenix motif, but tonight while reading the latest Harry Potter book, I figured it out. They didn't stray at all from the motif, they just went a little bit more obscure with it.
In the Harry Potter books, Professor Dumbledore has a pet phoenix. The name of this phoenix is Fawkes (undoubtedly named by J.K. Rowling after Guy Fawkes, the man who attempted to blow up Parliament and now has a holiday in Britain named after him, where they burn bonfires.) Hence, FireFawkes.
While looking through stuff yesterday, I found a menu that I snagged from the restaurant atop the Space Needle 4 or 5 years ago. I apparently saved this due to the outrageous prices. See, they charge $16 just to go up in the Space Needle, but if you want to eat at the restaurant they waive the fee add it to the cost of food.
I present you with that menu.
Click to enlarge
Note how at the bottom, it says theres a $25 food charge; this doesn't include drinks or desserts.
A year or so ago I went there again, and had a $30 cheeseburger. $30. Cheeseburger. It was pretty good, but for $30 it should really be made of Angus Human.
My 401K plan recently switched from Edward Jones to Charles Schwab. After the switch took effect, I began receiving large amounts of mail from Charles Schwab, often times as many as 6 small envelopes in one day. On monday of this week I got 6, then today at work I got 4 large heavy envelopes and 3 smaller ones. The stack at work was quite a hefty one, it weighed in at just under a pound. After tallying up the postage prices printed on them, I found that this week I spent $6.70 to mail myself crap that I won't even read and also bought over a pound worth of paper and nicely printed documents -- all which went right into the recycling bin.
Upon opening the 4 larger ones, I found that I had been sent 4 identical prospectuses (prospecti?) which were so nicely printed that they surely cost me a fortune. The funds in question are part of Calvert's Socially Responsible Mutual Funds, which I think is the best way for me to invest my money -- only stocks which meet a strict criteria of social responsibility get invested in, so I don't have to worry that I'm making money off the misfortune of others or worry that I'm making evil bastards rich. Some of the 'screens' they use to filter out stocks are:
* Alcohol No investment (by fund policy).
* Animal Testing Restricted investment (by practice).
* Community Investment Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Community Relations Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Military/Weapons No investment (by fund policy).
* Employment/Equity Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Environment Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Gambling No investment (by fund policy).
* Human Rights Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Indigenous Rights Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Labor Relations Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Products/Services Proactive investment (by fund policy).
* Tobacco No investment (by fund policy).
I'm a pretty big fan of irony, whether it be actual irony (as it is in this case) or just 'fly in your chardonnay' Alanis Morissette irony -- I just wish I didn't have to pay for it.
Dear Charles Schwab,
Please stop sending me huge piles of crap that I'm just going to throw away, and start putting all the money you are spending on that right into my account where it can do me some good. Also, Charlie Brown is lame.
The last thing the world needs is another post about Tom Cruise, but tonight I read something that I just had to share.
Tom Cruise is an authority-undermining bastard.
See, little Dakota Fanning had been asking her parents to get her a cellphone for a while, but they wouldn't let her have one. It seems they are actually pretty sensible; they feel that an 11 year old doesn't need to have a cellphone. I would have to agree with them.
Well, Tom decided that since he liked her so very much, and that they're great buds he would buy her one for her birthday, despite the fact that her parents didn't approve.
She says, "Tom gave me a cell phone, so that was really cool. My mom and dad wouldn't let me have a cell phone but Tom got me one for my birthday!
"It's really funny, 'cause on my cell phone I pretend that I'm on the phone when I'm not and I'll pretend that I have messages when I'm just out on the street."
I kinda wish that I was her father so I could punch Tom Cruise right in his crooked face and tell him to call up Nicole Kidman and undermine her authority for a while. Oh, and also because if I was her father, I'd be really rich because Dakota is a really great actor. I would be very proud of her.