30 January 2008

Not my own, but I still found it funny:

Electile Dysfunction: The inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in this election year.

29 January 2008

On Avery.com, when requesting a MS Word template for their label stock, they ask you to specify a few things (name, country, email address). I found it amusing that they list "U.S.S.R." as a choice for country.

Either they have a good sense of humor over there, or they designed their website back in the 80s.
How about some presidential quotes in anticipation of next month's President's Day?
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. -Franklin Roosevelt
I wonder, did FDR realize what a nightmarish concept he had just introduced? Recursive fear! Fear operating on infinite recursion! To fear fear is to fall into a loop from which there is no exit, a logical black hole where fear is the object of itself and it only increases, ever heightening towards infinite, unflagging terror.

For those of you who may not understand recursion, how about a brief example? Say you have a task titled "Clean the room" that has the following steps:

1. Pick up objects
2. Dust
3. If there is an adjoining uncleaned room, execute task "Clean the room".
4. Finish

Note my expertise in that subject matter is purely theoretical. Anyway, so step 3 is the big recursive bit...the task calls itself. So in that fashion, multiple processes would be running concurrently, and all the "child" sub-tasks (the other rooms) would have to complete before step 4 in the original task could be complete. Not the best illustration, but there you go.

Back to Presidential babblings!
My fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. - John Kennedy
A classic, this one. Interesting how devolved we've become, when today politicians say just the opposite; ask what your government can do for you! Answer, everything! Health care, medicare, welfare, Robespierre (well, maybe not that last bit, but it rhymed). The Republicans are certainly not exempt from such pandering but the irony is richest with the Democrats, the party of the Kennedys. Kennedy excoriated the concept of government as a benevolent provider; the modern Leftists celebrate it. Oh, how I miss the days when the Democrats (at the very least) sounded anti-communist.

Last but not least:

There's an old saying in Tennessee (I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee) that says, fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me....you can't get fooled again. - George W. Bush

Let me couch this with the following. I like Dubya. I respect him for a lot of things and my only major criticism of him is his defection from the cause of small government conservatism, subsequently splintering the GOP. Regarding quotes like the above, I think it is endearing if anything. Fifty years ago, presidents didn't have to stand in front of television cameras for hours every week; they could give carefully worded statements to the press, and do occasional radio addresses that were probably well scripted. I don't believe Bush is dumb; I think most Americans share his measure of clumsiness in public speaking, if not exceed it. So for all the hipster 20-somethings swilling their MintMochaChoco-tinis and gassing away about how, like, dumb, you know, our president is, I think that's a case, if you'll pardon my usage of this classic colloquialism, of the Pot Calling the Kettle a Bleeping Worthless Piece of Rat Bleep, or however that goes.

So my advice is to enjoy the above quote at face value; not with a haughty and misguided pride in considering yourself smarter than the President (you probably are not), but with the simple joy of laughing like a deranged chimpanzee at such a mangling of an expression, knowing that there is a chance, were it you on stage, you might have mangled it even more (if you can imagine!).

28 January 2008

The one that [almost] got away:

So jeep hunting a week ago or so ended up being successful. Here's my new[ish] 1995 Jeep Wrangler.

27 January 2008

With good weather this weekend...well, you know the drill.

A pair of lorikeets being a bit matey. Well mostly, the one on the left looks like it's about to take a bite out of its accomplice.

One of the smaller alpacas.

The swan pond was equally populated with its intended species, as well as some opportunistic ducks. Interesting , the fountain was running, with a small melted circle around it.

A pair of the extra-stubby variety of donkeys.

In the duck pond, it was mostly frozen over as well.

Red panda up in the trees.

A first for this blog, a tiger exhibiting actual movement!

The binturong up close and personal.

Pardon the excessive glare from the snow (and my inability to compensate for it), this is an Aussie black swan perched on one leg with its head buried in its feathers.

We decided to check out Africa, even though it was officially closed. However, we were repeatedly dive-bombed:

Apparently the truth behind the winter closure of the Africa exhibit is that it turns into Canada. Geese swarmed the entire plains area and the pond. You can't fully appreciate from these pictures how many geese were out there (I didn't have a panoramic camera). Add to them hundreds flying over head, taking off and landing in multiple formations.

And of course, the lone swan, probably a bit pissed off at the canuck interlopers.

Another angle, again failing to capture how many of these birds were out there.

The first quasi-African animal we ran into was this bird; I forget its species.

The rock hyrax was out (well, sort of "out"), peeking from its fissure in the stone wall.

And surprise surprise, the lions are out! Nothing but a moat between us and them. Here's the alpha male exhibiting contempt after I said "there's a nice kitty-kitty!".

One of his many female...uhhh...contemporaries.

Here's the whole crew. This picture fails to capture the fact that seconds after it was taken, each and every one of these lions turned to look directly at Debra and me. I mean, with intent...the closest human was probably at least 100 yards away down the road. They looked like they wanted to eat us just out of sheer boredom. Needless to say we quickened our pace.

Lastly, a rather homely fallow deer. Couldn't get him to mug for the camera.

25 January 2008

Smell is a powerful memory trigger. I was recently reunited with the guitar amp I've used probably more often than any other amp...it belonged to my church, and I was able to finagle it over for use in Midtown. To test and see if it still "had it" I plugged it in at home. After a few minutes of play, I detected a whiff of a certain smell that amp would give off; not a repugnant smell by any means, just a faint aroma of vacuum tubes working hard. I had never realized that vacuum tubes had a smell, but after I had gone for several years without regularly using a tube amp, it was a nice recollection.

My playing, especially after a long hiatus on the four-string, verges on the abrasive, sloppy, and raw (yet strangely funky?) so my apologies if it doesn't end up sounding like it, but this amp has great tone!

The following is childish, unfunny, and in very bad taste. You have been warned. Please skip ahead to the end of the post.

A thought occurred to me this morning. The German translation of "six eight" is funny and/or naughty sounding.

24 January 2008

Bono is a prat.

Now, of course you know by now that I wouldn't make such a tremendous accusation without reams of documentation and proof, so we'll start with a couple articles.

Bono confesses sins to 'father' Al Gore

I'll give him credit that even he can see his own hypocrisy. Shame that he doesn't notice that of Mr. Gore at the same time, though! But still, how silly. Another example of how comically religious this movement is, in stark contrast to their claims of pure, unadulterated science. Gore is the prophet, the saviour, and the high priest of the Church of Warmingism. Bono has sinned, but in his confession, Gore is faithful and just to forgive him his sin and cleanse him of all ungreenishness. But honestly, that is more just amusing, and a little endearing, given Bono's simpleton logic. But this is what got me fired up:

Bono meets Pentagon chief to discuss poverty

This particular story isn't big news...Bono has been doing this for years, flying all around the world and telling government officials to give more money in aid and debt relief to foreign countries. But reading this story had a somewhat revelatory effect on me, as the supreme arrogance of his approach became apparent. Who is Bono asking to give money? Bureaucrats, politicians, leaders, officials. Whose money is he asking for? Yours and mine, the money of the citizen taxpayer. He doesn't ask us, he asks those in power in the government, who don't really care because it isn't their money.

What would you say, if Bono waltzed into your local bank, and asked to see the manager. He then sits down with your bank manager, gives a sob story about the plight of other nations, and asks for your ATM PIN number so he can give some of your money to those foreign nations.

I think most people would find that to be outrageous and criminal; theft is immoral despite allegedly good intentions. Well, he's doing just that, except he's doing it on such a grand scale that most people don't notice or care. But it is STILL your money. Politicians and officials need to remember that they are stewards of our tax dollars and are responsible for managing them. The fact that they would sit down with a middle-aged rock star and give him an audience to entreat for that money, well, sounds like it's time to run them out of town on a rail (that time comes around every few years or so).

22 January 2008

It's time for A Bit (only a very small Bit, mind you) of Fry and Laurie:

John and Peter (and Marjorie)

Masters of that particular four-letter word, those two are.

And while I'm at it, how about a particular three-letter word?

From Here to Just Over There

That one explores a particular phenomenon the British have observed about Americans. As John Cleese put it in Fawlty Towers, "everything's bottoms, isn't it?"

21 January 2008

So we decided this year to not renew our AAA membership.

Lucky for us, we still had a month left on it. Yesterday morning, myself filled to the backteeth with buckets of wonderful, life-giving coffee, we set out to go to church, getting out a bit earlier than usual. We were rather pleased with ourselves to be quite on-time.

We don't get too far, but as we turn right onto Blue Parkway we realize we've a flat. Naturally we turn in at the nearest opportunity, which happens to be a dingy motel that could win first prize in a "Best in Seediness" contest. We briefly consider just calling AAA and having them come out and do it, but I decide to give it a try. I get the jack and the tire iron and set to work.

After a veritable eternity trying to jack the car up (the tire iron was supposed to be used as a handle somehow, and I'm relatively certain that I was doing it the wrong way), I set to work on the removing the bolts. To my chagrin, I discovered that they were installed by burlier-than-average silverback gorillas with pneumatic wrenches and gobs of red Loctite. I'm sure the cold can't have helped, either. Finally admitted defeat and we called AAA.

After a half hour or so the cavalry arrived, and out came the professional equipment...a lever-based jack that raised the car in seconds and a high-torque electric wrench. Made all kinds of noise, so we stood around cringing with apologetic and embarrassed expressions, as it probably woke up all the prostitutes, Johns, and people from out of town that made the mistake of booking online, where I'm sure the pictures made it look quaint and homey. Even the wrench couldn't budge some of the bolts, but with the help of a giant cross-shaped tire iron he got it going. Then out came the spare tire, which we were horrified to see was almost flat itself (yes, the shame...what can I say, it looked fine when no weight was on it) (yes I know I need a tire gauge), but of course the guy had an air compressor (wakey wakey everyone!) so that was a non-issue.

Moral of the story, our road readiness was vastly sub-par, and thank God that we got a nice little "checkup" on that note before our AAA membership ran out. While Walmart was repairing our tire yesterday, we went ahead and got some automotive essentials, including a better cross-shaped wrench.

Perhaps in a subconscious effort to regain my Man Card after standing around like a tottering fool while Mister Roadside Assistance changes my tire, I managed to complete a couple home improvement projects...fixing the wiring in our bathroom finally, and installing a small bolt on our basement door. Not that it would stop a determined intruder, but it would require a bit of noise to get through; every little bit of extra warning is good for stuff like that.

I forgot to mention, it was SODDING COLD outside yesterday. But we had a sunny disposish about the whole affair, as epitomized by the following song:

Sunny Disposish

"A spot of philosophy!"

18 January 2008

The Kraut has been in fine form, the past couple weeks!

A Sneer, a Tear, a Comeback

Black Dreams, White Liberals

Favourite quote from the former column:

What passes for substance is an absurd contest of hopeful change (Obama) vs. experienced change (Clinton) vs. angry change (John Edwards playing Hugo Chávez in English).
Captures the essence of Edwards to a T! I can't imagine that man actually governing; he's a perpetual campaigner.

Jeep-hunting tonight.

15 January 2008

Molon Labe, inscribed on a monument in Greece to the Battle of Thermopylae.

Of a similar notion, here (flying below the state flag) was the flag the Texans flew at the Battle of Gonzales, when the Mexican Army was trying to reclaim a cannon from the Texans:

Brief Techie Diversion:

So, you are not a SQL guy, but you occasionally get tasked with mildly related SQL stuff. A vendor asks you to try running a query from a local client of SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), which you've always just run directly on the server via an RDP session. They assure you that SSMS can indeed be installed on a desktop, and so you're off to your desktop to try it out as a troubleshooting step they have recommended for another problem.

So, thirty joy-filled minutes of hunting with no luck for how exactly to install JUST SSMS later, and I finally sorted it out.

Disk 1, find and run the file "SQLRUN_TOOLS.MSI". Then select the relevant components you need, and Great Scott, there it is! Simple to do now, but last night it was rather frustrating.

12 January 2008

It's Saturday. It wasn't snowing. By now, you should be expecting this post.

I'm giving our Canadian poultry friends a bit of the limelight this time...it only seems fair, since they are ubiquitous at the zoo (as is their solid waste, unfortunately).

This is not intended to be "arty", it's just a badly executed photo that managed to capture a good closeup of the red panda's whiskers. As it was slightly colder than last week, he was back to pacing instead of sunbathing. Probably keeps him warm.

The bonobos are ugly devils, I think when we rounded the corner we surprised them a bit, they wheeled round with a shock. It was rather deserted at the zoo today.

Other than mild annoyance at our presence, the Sumatran tiger just glowered at us briefly from inside his log abode before resuming his nap.

And the Binturong, who came out of his shelter to visit us. I think the animals were lonely today, so curiousity made them slightly more interactive.

He's stretching a bit here, you can see either his tongue or his gums protruding. Weird old bearcat, but we like him.

This is an interesting Australian duck. Not sure of the species, but you wouldn't care, really, anyway, right?

One of the black swans drinking from the waterfall:

And the seagulls. My assumption is that the one on the left is trying to sneak off down to the pub, hence the guilty expression and stealthy walk, and his wife on the right is on the moral and literal high ground, and will probably throw pots and pans at the louse upon his return.

Australian Singing Dogs...they were sleeping in the sun as we approached, but these are very wary animals, and as you can see they hopped to their feet as we approached.

Closeup of one of the dogs, after he determined we probably weren't there to spit their young and grill them in a rotisserie. Untrusting beasts, these are!

Probably the highlight of our trip was seeing the kangaroos at a surprisingly close difference, probably 10-15 feet.

It was hard to capture this with a still camera because it was so interesting to watch all their actions, as they scratched, rolled over, ate, interacted...it was just nice to observe them like this, in the peaceful silence of an all-but-deserted zoo.

The joey is on the left, here, completely sacked out in the sun.

This is one of my favorite pics, taken of one of the closest kangaroos to us. Just kind of propped up on his puny little arms. Watching these guys made us very cognizant of our own sleepiness.

The previously mentioned stubby legged goat.

This goat made me laugh. No horns, pure white, white beard, and perched in a very unusual way up on a box, he seemed like some sort of old Japanese karate master or samurai lord or something, meditating over something. I half-expected the other goats to bow to him.

I can never seem to get a good pic of the lemurs. So this is as good of one as I could manage.

The sea lion, basking in the non-existant sun that just went behind the clouds...

Also of the opinion that it is high time for a siesta.

11 January 2008

I was removing the dishes from the dish rack tonight and I found myself laughing out loud, merely at the recollection of the following Fry and Laurie sketch:

Mister Burmie

Notable Quotes:

"Tommy Toe! Tommy Toe! Tommy Toe! Tommy Toe! Tommy Toe!"


09 January 2008

I haven't gone wildly political on here for a while, and so I thought I'd post some links to some cracking good columns:

An Overdose of Public Piety - Charles Krauthammer

Presidential Preference Unmasked - Jonah Goldberg

The Hillary Who Stole Christmas - Jonah Goldberg

Failed Fraudulence - Jonah Goldberg

Don’t Be Scared - Jonah Goldberg

I particularly like that last one, on Paul and Huckabee. Hehehehehe...
Couple updates, and a rant.

First off, FedEx delivered the last part of my computer order yesterday...a widescreen 22" LCD monitor. Now THIS is impressive. To give you perspective, it was a bit of luxury when we bought our 17" monitor for home, and at work I've been using a 15" monitor for all of my 5 or 6 years here (feeling no need to upgrade) (well, at least until we start having Call of Duty parties here). This monitor is huge, and combining that with a nice graphics card, a much better speaker system, and a computer that can actually handle COD4, it is rather immersive!

Side note: The embedded FireFox spellchecker tells me, in its supreme insolence, that "immersive" is a misspelled word. Bollocks I say. Hah, it thinks that is misspelled as well.

Secondly, I have a surefire recipe for grilled Italian sausages, tried out last night. Not so much a recipe as a process or method. First, take chunks of hickory or mesquite and light them in a chimney starter. No charcoal, just wood. After they are well let and evenly burning, put them in one section of the bottom of your grill. A drip pan under the opposite side works well to keep the coals from moving over there. Then place some Italian sausages (preferably good locally made ones) on the grill over the drip pan, and close the lid. Adjust the vents so the fire is no longer flaming but the coals are still burning and putting out a heavy smoke. For my grill this is wide open on the bottom and half open on top, but yours may vary. Then let it go for an hour, turning the sausages at 1/2 hour. Finally, open the grill, and move the sausages over the coals. I like to char them a bit with the open flame and then close the lid to smoke them a bit more directly, then flip them and repeat, but I would say cook them until done according to your preference. Very nice on buns with BBQ sauce and pickles.

Lastly, the Promised Rant. We got the first disc of Band of Brothers last night; we'd heard lots of people talking about how great the series was. Honestly, other than how it boosted our adrenaline levels before we went off to sleep, it was great. My beef came with the casting.

So I put the disc in, click for the first chapter, and on the first chapter submenu, I think, I know that guy.

No, I know that guy.

Debra says, that's David Schwimmer.

I say, no.

That isn't possible.

They did not put "Ross" in "Band of Brothers". I mean, I could see "Joey" typecast as the essential Italian guy (notice how WWII movies always have Italians and Vietnam movies never seem to?) and I would even buy Matthew Perry as a green lieutenant, but David Schwimmer? I laughed it off and started the movie, feeling safe in the assumption it was just someone who looked like him.

Getting into the episode, there it was in the credits. I groaned. Also featured prominently was that guy from Office Space (his name will never be widely known, he will forever simply be "That Guy from Office Space"), who I saw as a good example of casting...he fit right in naturally and you bought his character. Then the flashback scene starts, and good God, it is David Schwimmer doing his entire "Ross" schtick...high whiny voice, the whole thing. He was good at his role of playing an unlikable character, but to me at least it was enormously distracting. Imagine Rob Schneider or Adam Sandler playing the same sort of role in a serious drama and you get my point. Schwimmer himself is not deserving of criticism as he did decently well, but the casting was poor, I thought.

I mean, if you are going to cast a comic actor for that role, at least cast one that will be more amusing and less annoying. Jon Lovitz! Although I still want him cast as Mister Darcy in a remake of "Pride and Prejudice". The words of Jane Austen would be but putty in the hands of the master. Imagine the following scene, text borrowed from an online source:

Jon Lovitz: So this is your opinion of me. Thank you for explaining so fully. Perhaps these offences might have be overlooked had not your pride been hurt by my honesty...
Elizabeth Bennet: My pride?
Jon Lovitz: ...in admitting scruples about our relationship. Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
Elizabeth Bennet: And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
Jon Lovitz: Forgive me, madam, for taking up so much of your time.

But still, "Band of Brothers" was great!

07 January 2008

So my new computer is supposed to arrive tomorrow. New larger monitor, nice speakers, nice video card, lots of disk space, a dualcore processor and 2 gigs of RAM. XP Home (none of that Vista crap) preloaded. Topped off with Battlefield 2 and Call of Duty 4. I almost used a somewhat comical word here, that translates loosely to the pinnacle of nerdy enjoyment, but this is a family blog and my wife, who is a good judge of these things, wisely advocated restraint.

Speaking of mildly inappropriate things, this one almost defies belief:

Bootsy Collins - Be With You

Apparently he decided to make a Christmas song out of his funk classic "Rather Be With You". Something about that song remade with Christmas-themed background vocals ("it's Christmas tiiiiiime" sung through a vocoder, no less) again fits the theme of "so awful it's good".

Also be advised, I have not watched all the way through so I can't vouch for all its content. Given it is a Christmas song and it was recorded at a time when Bootzilla had grandchildren (if you can believe it) I assume it is clean, but I just listened to a minute of it, cackled madly, and then decided to post it here.

And while I'm not too heavily invested in tonight's game, in honour of my Cajun/Louisiana friends at KTOG.org, I'll be rooting for LSU.

Geaux Tigers!

Edited to add at 1:20PM:
Just a side note, perhaps "vowel migration" is responsible for the excessive vowelage in the French language, as in the above "Geaux". Assumedly the vowels immigrated from Wales, where the resultant shortage of vowels resulted in places with names like "LLwlaffn" and "Wysffytylln".

05 January 2008

So the weather was remotely decent, it was a Saturday, it wasn't on an official holiday...who can guess what we did today?

Yes, off to the zoo again. This time a few more animals were out and about. First, the lorikeets. Here's one whose feathers were a bit ruffled by the rather heavy wind we experienced today:

I'm not entirely certain if this is a llama or an alpaca. Regardless, he trotted up to us, as if happy to see us.

Debra wanted to make sure I got a good photo of his ears down:

The ducks had assumedly just been fed, resulting in a veritable orgy of domestic and foreign ducks congregating around the foodstuffs.

And the red panda was out, and in a climbing mood, rather than a pacing mood. He climbed up to the top of the branch shown below, looked at us wearily, and closed his eyes, ostensibly for his afternoon nap.

My mistake for not getting the orangutans last time...here's one in a brief closeup through a window. The light is very poor inside, but I managed to get a shot of his face through the glass.

Big surprise, Overrated Kitty is still in the log. Pissy as could be expected. Still wanting to eat me.

And hooray! The binturong was out today. A note of no small sadness last time (he was put away, assumedly due to the cold), Señor Binturong was doing what he does best, sleeping like a pro.

Of course, our presence was a serious inconvenience, coming in the midst of his siesta.

In the Aussie birds section, the swans were a bit cheery at the lack of snow.

The sea gull from the previous post was testy but on the whole somewhat more good natured now that the water had thawed.

And these birds? What can I say...still weird as ever.

Up on the wall, a parrot-like bird with gorgeous red plumage.

And in the heavyweight class, the birds enter the emu into the contest...not a bird with which I would wish to have a spirited disagreement in person.

Australian singing dogs were out...a sort of wild dog similar to dingoes, as I recall.

And the red kangaroos were out:

The joey is visible in this photograph:

The wallabies were out as well, although hiding in the corner of their pen.

The sheep pen was littered with, what would you expect, sheep droppings, but also as you can see there is a bit of a sheep traffic jam as the flock tries to evade us by going into their pen, but finds that the gate has been closed on them.

What's the holdup, I'm sure they are wondering. Smelly but amusing animals, nonetheless.

Not the most gorgeous of God's creations, but the camels round out the Australian exhibit.

And while we paused to get a quick pretzel, as usual the peacocks were strolling around the plaza. What is with peacocks? They aren't ever exhibited as a foreign animal or anything that draws attention to them, but you find them running around in zoos, and Disneyland. Is their natural habitat theme parks?

Not a great photo, but quite a big, impressive bird...an Andean condor. Sequestered in a spot not listed on the zoo map (given that it contains pheasants and several varieties of turkey, I assumed they would name it the "Poultry Section").

Here's something I could not quite capture on film very well. We heard this before we saw it...hundreds of geese in nested V formations descending on us as we exited the zoo. Practically a tidal wave of geese. I was concerned that I did not wear my hat but thankfully it did not prove necessary. This is one of those situations when the 20 round drum magazine for the Saiga 12-gauge would prove useful. The Canadians are coming!

And finally, before leaving the zoo I had smoked a beef brisket for several hours over apple wood...then it went into the oven, and tonight while watching "The Magnificent Seven" on PBS, I got to enjoy brisket with Gates BBQ sauce and a glass of cherry melomel (a kind of mead).