Thursday, November 19, 2009

Event Scheduling: Tips and False Assumptions

I like attending parties.

I really, really do. I relish the chance to hang out with people I know and folks I don't. A good party is an evening spent enjoying a temporary camaraderie: you're part of something, if only for a night.

I'm also not the sort that hits five parties in a night. I feel it detracts and distracts from the party atmosphere. No matter how popular I may feel, there's still scheduling involved, thoughts of how long I can spend here, whether I'll blow off my next stop. I'd rather see a night with one event, at most two good events planned.

That's why I get so mad when I see poor event scheduling. It bugs me when four events are planned for a night that isn't a holiday. Sometimes there are a slew of parties or meetings on nights that aren't even weekend nights. These nights have nothing going for them and, in many cases, actually have plenty of better alternatives. Here are some of the false assumptions that cause these scheduling collisions, and tips on how to avoid them:

  1. FALSE: Friday & Saturday nights are already full of interesting events. This may have been true once, but if too many people believe it, they stop planning events for those nights. That makes it untrue. Go and look at your Twitter & Facebook for last Friday & Saturday nights. There are at least two people wishing for something to do, aren't there? Sure, there may be an event on any random Friday or Saturday night, but those nights aren't the collision magnets that a night like Thursday has become.

  2. FALSE: Thursday is a great night to plan an event. I understand your reasoning: It's near the weekend, so people are more likely to attend. It's also not full of events like Friday or Saturday night is bound to be.

    BZZZZZZZZ! WRONG.

    This is another case where too many people believing something makes it untrue. If you think Thursday is a great night for karaoke, and Jimmy thinks Thursday is a great night for watching a classic film, and Ralphie figures his potluck would get more attendees on Thursday instead of Friday, guess what? You're all going to get 1/3 the guests. Thursday night has become the new weekend - not just the start of it, but really the only night people feel is useful & unlikely to be booked. It's a damned shame, and you should avoid falling into this trap.

  3. FALSE: If I plan an event for the middle of the week, no one will attend. Ridiculous. People get just as bored in the middle of the week as they do other nights. You can schedule a gathering for the early evening on Tuesday or Wednesday and people will show. Sure, people have to be at work the next day; all that means is that your event should end by 10 or 10:30. If anyone claims they have to catch a TV show that night, inform them of the existence of D/PVR technology, then perhaps follow it up with a declaration that they are too lame to be your friend and a punch in the face. If the show is "America's Top Model" or the like, the face punch becomes mandatory.

  4. FALSE: The third weekend of the month is a great time to plan an event. Again, it stops being a great time when everyone else schedules for those days, too. Sure, it's far enough into the month that word will spread, but you know what? EVERY WEEKEND is three weeks before another weekend. Just plan for the first weekend of the month and get the word out ahead of time. That way, you won't have to compete with the four events taking place the third weekend of the month.

  5. TRUE: You should check your "Events" page on Facebook before scheduling. Come on. You'd be a damned fool not to do this. We all know that not every event has a Facebook page, but lots of them sure do.

  6. TRUE: It's okay to schedule an event for the same day or time as another event. This one goes against everything that came before, but it's true. If one time works for you and another just doesn't, you can knowingly cause an event collision. There are things to consider, but the biggest and most important is this: are the events different enough & popular enough that each will net a definite group of attendees? If so, go ahead and make that second event. It might not be huge, but people will still come.

Okay, denizens of the netterbutts and generic party people. I have given you the knowledge. Please spread it around and use it wisely.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I wish to destroy Chase ATMs.

The story is thus: V. has a weird little Chase card instead of direct deposit. I regularly remove the cash from that account & keep most of it on hand. Today, the little door on the ATM machine didn't open. The machine and the account both say they gave me almost $600, but I'm damned sure I don't have almost $600.

Their claims process will take at least a week, and there's no real guarantee that Chase will find in our favor. If we're LUCKY, in a week we will have the amount refunded, will be able to feed ourselves. If we're UNLUCKY, and it is almost entirely luck, Chase will tell us that money is not being refunded. There's no telling what their "investigation" will reveal, especially since after I went into the bank to complain, two people seemed to use the ATM successfully. For all I know, one of them walked away with an extra $580 and a spring in their step. If so, that certainly won't help our chances.

Best part: I'm not on the "account", so I am completely impotent. I couldn't even vent my spleen with them on the phone after it happened. As such, there's a gap of over a half-hour from time of incident to the time V. called. V. made the snap decision and told them it was she who tried to pull the cash; if she explained that it was me, it would add light to the two or three futile attempts I DID make to call them, would give an idea as to why the gap between incident and report was so long. I understand her decision not to tell them that I knew her PIN and such. I'm simply unsure it was the best decision. It's done now, and everything is in the hands of Chase.

Am I alone when I say I don't find that very reassuring?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Halloween on the Cheap

I love Halloween. I still get a lot of joy from the creative effort I put into my costumes. Every time my outfit makes someone do a double-take, or laugh out loud, or give me a creeped-out sideways glance, I know every second spent was worthwhile.


The really beautiful thing is that, with a bit of creativity, you can have an excellent costume for almost no cost. Store-bought costumes are nice, but they can be really expensive, and they give you little room to put your own mark on things. People worry that they're not inventive enough, or that the effort involved won't be worth it. Most of the time, that's just not the case. Here are a few ideas and recipes that will hopefully help you create your own costume this year and enjoy doing so.


Basic Fake Blood (from 100% Pure Fake by Lyn Thomas, Kids Can Press, 2009)


This is a simple recipe for thin, drippy blood. It's messy and it will stain clothing and carpets. It'll also look good.


Stuff you'll need:

    • 125 mL (1/2 c.) corn syrup
    • 5 mL (1 tsp.) red food coloring
    • 3 to 4 drops of blue food coloring

What to do:

    1. Pour the corn syrup into a bowl. Add the food coloring. Mix well. Ta-da! Fake blood.

The Scraped Elbow or Knee Effect (from 100% Pure Fake)

With a Popsicle stick, smear some Basic Fake Blood onto your knee or elbow. Sprinkle on some dry coffee grounds. Blow away the excess. Presto - road rash without the pain.


Now, using these recipes as a starting point, let's put together some simple costumes!


World's Worst Biker/Jogger

Stuff you'll need:

  • Basic Fake Blood
  • Popsicle sticks or cotton swabs
  • dry coffee grounds
  • biking, sports, or some sort of general fitness clothing

What to do:

  1. Dig out the fitness clothes sitting in the bottom of your drawers: the spandex biker shorts & shirt, the sweat shorts, the outfit you wear while playing football or doing the American Gladiators Ultimate Workout.
  2. Find every exposed inch of skin below your neck.
  3. Use The Scraped Elbow or Knee Effect to give yourself a nasty scrape in each area. If you want to go the extra mile, add a really small one around one of your eyebrows.


Homework Casualty

Stuff you'll need:

  • Basic Fake Blood
  • duct tape
  • resealable plastic sandwich bag
  • sharpened pencils
  • a "throwaway" shirt (fake blood stains, after all)
  • a sheet of notebook paper

What to do:

  1. Fill the resealable plastic sandwich bag with Basic Fake Blood. Use duct tape to seal the top and reinforce the sides of the bag, then cover the front/outward side with duct tape, too.
  2. Have your child (or someone else's) write out some "homework" on the sheet of notebook paper. It'll look better if they press hard while writing, and especially good if they sort of trail off angrily at the end of the page.
  3. Find a spot on your chest, stomach, or back that isn't too hairy and tape the bag of blood to your skin, remembering to keep the duct-taped side facing outward.
  4. Put the soon-to-be-stained shirt on over the bag of blood.
  5. Position the page of "homework" over the bag.
  6. Here's the slightly tricky part: carefully stab the sharp pencils through the paper and shirt, into the bag of blood. Try to angle the pencils downward so they're less likely to fall. You can expect a good bit of mess during this step, so you'll probably want to be stabbed in the bathtub, in the kitchen, or even outside.
  7. Give the plastic bag one good, gentle press to get your wounds dripping, then take a little time to adjust your pencils for maximum protrusion and stability.


These are just a couple of simple, fairly quick ideas, but they're exactly the sort of thing to show that you put in some effort instead of simply handing over some cash. Feel free to expand on these costumes, or take the recipes for blood and scrapes and go in entirely new directions! The biggest thing is to be creative. Even a store-bought costume has room for improvement.

Have fun! Happy Halloween!




Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Roman Polanski.

I don't always believe that The Law is The Last Word. Sometimes The Law should be lenient. Sometimes The Law should be changed. Sometimes The Law makes mistakes.

I'm not for rape. I have a daughter. I would kill the man or woman who hurt her in such a way.

If Polanski were captured and incarcerated all those years ago, justice would be served. He wasn't, and that is the biggest tragedy and mistake in this case.

The world has moved on and largely forgotten the deed itself. The victim works to find herself outside of this one event, works to keep it from being the life-changing horror that some of you wish it always was. The people who talk of bringing a criminal to justice are really doing no more than waving a past hurt in our collective face, shouting "WHY AREN'T YOU STILL CRYING?! YOU SHOULD BE SOBBING!! HE HURT YOU SO MANY YEARS AGO; DOESN'T THAT MEAN ANYTHING?!"

Maybe some of us don't want it to mean what you want it to mean.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Hidden Houston: Taqueria LuLu

The Place: Taqueria LuLu

Address: corner of Wheeler & Almeda (4320 Almeda Rd, 77004)

Hours: 7a - 3:30p

Hidden Beauty: low-cost Mexican food

This place was "Opening Soon!" for what seemed like a long, long time. They're open now, though, and offering some excellent food for breakfast & lunch. I stopped in for lunch yesterday and, after a look at the various menu blackboards, decided to have a beef fajita quesadilla. V. went with the veggie quesadilla, and E. had a fajita beef taco. The woman who took our order was very friendly and made sure to ask questions so we'd get things just as we wanted.

We sat down at one of the tables outside and, after a short wait, our food came out to us. It was delicious. This was one of those meals where conversation dies because everyone is busy filling their bellies! The quesadillas came with a bit of sour cream, shredded lettuce, and a little more. I didn't take too much notice because my quesadilla was wonderful as-is. The beef inside was super tasty and cooked just right, nice and tender and juicy. V. was very happy with her veggie quesadilla, too, and I even think E. ate all of her taco. That's really saying something.

A simple lunch for three cost us about $15, and the presentation and service were more than we expected from a simple little taco shack. We need to go back some morning and give their breakfast tacos a try - I'm sure they'll be excellent.

Monday, September 21, 2009

So Many Movies.

I realized last night that, if my plans all work out, I'll be seeing five movies in the next eight days, most of them free screenings. My schedule looks about like this:
  1. a matinee of "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" on Wednesday
  2. a screening of "Surrogates" Thursday evening
  3. double feature of "Toy Story & Toy Story 2 3-D" on Saturday
  4. a screening of "The Invention of Lying" next Tuesday
In addition, Gofobo REALLY wants me to see "Bright Star" Wednesday evening; it's too bad I have no desire whatsoever to watch a romance about John Keats and Fanny Brawne. That's just not up my alley. (I just watched part of the trailer; holy cow, not my thing.)

The nice thing about seeing all of these movies? Well, aside from seeing all but "Cloudy" for free, it's that I've signed on with Dad Blogs to write a movie review column! I won't get pay, sadly, but I will get a bit more blog exposure, and I might be able to sit in the nice press sections at screenings. (Those seats are almost always empty.) The reviews I post at Dad Blogs will be longer, so I'll probably continue posting my terribly short reviews here.

I'm excited about writing a weekly (or so) column, and about seeing so many free movies in quick succession. I'm really looking forward to this week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"District 9": A Brief Review

People, at heart, tend to be weak and afraid. If they can take advantage of someone or something, they will. Give a man a big gun and he'll be brave for as long as it takes to get what he wants. In the end, though, it IS about what he wants, not about some sort of noble, higher purpose.

Also, let's set a movie in Johannesburg and not mention apartheid at all, . . . aside from totally using aliens in place of blacks. Like I said, just don't mention it.

"District 9" is easy to like if you don't ask any questions about the technology, the characters, motives, circumstances, instead opting to view it as a morality tale with big guns. It's pretty frustrating if you DO ask questions about any of the things I mentioned.

Monday, September 14, 2009

"The Informant!": A Brief Review

"Well, hold on and let's talk about what I said earlier." That's not a teenager having their explanation of what happened while you were away cross-examined; that's Matt Damon's character in "The Informant!". It's two funny hours of watching someone wave a scrap of truth in your face while sheets of liepaper peel from the walls. There are some beautiful open-mouth takes and a string of B- and C-list celebrities.

It was a funny movie; I liked it. A lot of people left the theater slightly bewildered at the twists & turns.

"The Informant!" opens in theaters September 18th.

"9": A Brief Review

Take a short film. Make the mute characters talk. Give them a bit of personality. Make the piece's conflict a bit larger. Add grandeur to the ending scene, but don't extend the story; leave off in the same place. Attach a few big-name producers.

I liked it, but it didn't add much.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Goddamn it.

I went outside to feed Tweak today. After hearing horror stories about BARC, we decided to put Tweak on craigslist instead, ask good questions and such of the potential adopters.

Tweak wasn't in the back yard. E. said something about the house handyman taking Tweak back to his owners. I don't think she realized what that meant until we couldn't find the dog in the backyard. I'm still not sure she knows what it means.

I know what it means. It means that an owner who simply didn't care about their dog, who kept its collar too tight and let it roam the neighborhood streets, now has that dog back in their "care". It means that dog's injuries will likely never be looked at, never diagnosed and never fixed.

It means V.'s grandmother likely just didn't give a shit about the dog, either. The handyman undoubtedly told her what he was going to do, even if it was in passing.

Today is a boots-on day, and I wish I could use them as I'd like right now.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Help Tweak!

This is Tweak.
Tweak is a very sweet 30-lb. dog. I met him three nights ago when I was out for a walk. He happily ran over to me, sniffed me, licked my hand, and followed me to the door of my house. I heard a jingle on his collar and thought of checking for tags, then calling any number I might find on them. Sadly, I realized that I didn't have my phone, and I let him wander off after another random person.

Last night I got out of my car and walked to the door. I was almost inside when I heard a noise behind me. There Tweak stood, eagerly wagging his whole body, ecstatic to see me again. I sighed, went upstairs and asked V. to come down & help me check him out.

Tweak's collar was on too tight and had no tags. Sometime between three nights ago and last night, Tweak acquired a bit of a wobble in his hind legs. It didn't seem to be too serious, though; he still wiggled and wagged and sniffed as though it didn't bother him in the slightest.
We gave him some food and kept him in our fenced back yard for the night. At times, we heard him whining at being all alone back there.

Today, we took Tweak to BARC. They told us that to accept him, they would need to immunize him and have him stay with us for another 24 hours. They weighed Tweak, gave him medicine orally, nasally, and subcutaneously, and we put him back in the car. He's in the back yard again with a bowl of food, some water, and a cool, shady place to lie down.

Tweak was given a 24-hour respite. If we can't find another home for him, or a place with a different rescue shelter, we will take him back to BARC tomorrow. He is loving, good with friendly cats and good with friendly people. He's not a jumper and he JUST had his immunizations. He is not neutered. He needs your help.

If you think you can give Tweak a good home, or if you can foster him, or even if you can wait to get him into a better rescue program, please give me a call.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Of No Particular Substance

  • I got a Google Voice number recently. If we talk regularly, you've probably already heard. The new number is 832-KEYD-TIM, or 832-LEWD-TIM, or any other letter combination that uses those numbers. Feel free to give me a call.
  • I connected a bit more with an acquaintance that V. and I met at a friend's party. Acquaintance & her fiance were invited by another guy I'm acquainted with, so aside from just striking up a Facebook conversation (as she did) it wasn't likely we'd ever talk much. Turns out they live a stone's throw away, and they might come over this evening and hang out. This is why I like the internet.
  • I play a lot of Wii and drink a lot of tequila lately. I'm also getting out of the house a decent amount. Don't worry too hard. (Besides, tequila & I have a long-standing friendship.)
  • We had R. and C. for July. Now R. is back at his dad's. C. is with us for another day. The house will feel strangely empty without them, but I suspect that'll only last a few minutes. After the emptiness wears off, I envision appreciation.
  • Another room has laminate flooring. It's the sixth time V. and I put down laminate flooring. We're GOOD, and as a result the room looks far better. The house feels more like home than I imagined such a change would make.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Oh, You Ignorant Facebook Users.

If you use Facebook regularly, I imagine you've seen a version of this status message:
FACEBOOK has agreed to let third party advertisers use your posted pictures WITHOUT your permission. Click on SETTINGS (at the top where you see the Log out link). Select PRIVACY. Then select NEWSFEEDS and WALL. Next select the tab that reads FACEBOOK ADS. There is a drop down box, select NO ONE. Then SAVE your changes. (Repost to let your friends know).
I'm so sick of seeing this message. Sure, it seems helpful, but there are some issues here that need to be addressed.
  1. Facebook has done nothing without your permission. Every time they change something like this, they post BIG notices at the top of your Facebook Home page. Every time, Facebook encourages you to read the changes, comment on them, and generally be an informed site user. (Side note: did you also know that Facebook comes in a variety of languages, including "pirate"? No? There are sidebar ads trying to tell you so at least once daily.) Facebook has your permission to use your likeness in advertisements because you never withdrew your permission. They said they would unless you told them "no", and you didn't tell them "no".
  2. As a result of the notices, I changed this value MONTHS ago. Why didn't you? Don't you regularly check your privacy settings, especially after a notice that the policy changed? Most people don't, assuming that if something really big changes, a "goodwill" message like this will alert them. That's lazy. That's the behavior of a person who gets charged two months at $49.95 because they forget to cancel their three-day trial membership to a dubious website. You don't want to be that person, and you don't want someone else to get lazy and develop the same habits.
  3. Reposting this message is becoming a bit like doing Christian missionary work: Everyone's heard it. If you just found out, you really are the last on the block. At this point, your posting this message simply shows people you didn't pay attention at any previous time. You don't read notices, you don't check your settings very often, and you either don't log in very often or you don't pay much attention to the things your friends say in status messages. You're the demographic that Facebook thought advertisers would be able to use in their ads.
Hopefully people will learn the REAL lesson: when a website tells you their policies changed, YOU SHOULD READ THE NEW POLICIES. If you simply can't be bothered to scan through the legalese, you can still take a moment to see if the privacy settings for the site changed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The things we do.

There is a bicycle on a chair behind me.

I'm fixing it, airing the tires, making sure the brakes and gears work as best I can make them, etc. I ran into a bump while doing so, but that's probably because I woke up, went downstairs, got the bike from its spot, and brought it up here to make things happen. I still haven't had any caffeine; a moment while I correct that error.

Ahh, sweet nectar. So: while bike repair is certainly interesting to a subset of people, it's only a part of the larger story. The important part is WHY I'm fixing the bike: to impress a girl. There's this cool woman I met a few weeks back at a social gathering. She's attractive, relaxed, funny, and single, as far as I'm aware. Combine these elements and the sum is, of course, that I want in her pants.

Sometime during the evening I mentioned biking. I referred someone to Workshop Houston and talked about my experience there, how I learned to affect a few minor repairs to my bike with their help. The attractive woman (whom I will refer to as "Erythorbic", because that is the oddly-named acid in the ingredient list of my Mountain Dew and because it enhances "freshness") used to bike quite often, misses it, and is looking for a bike. She tracked me down through mutual friends and asked where she might pick up a decent bike. I, wanting to get closer to the fair Erythorbic, quickly offered up the derelict from my backyard.

"Derelict" isn't really being kind to this bike, and I'd like to be kind as it's probably reading this post over my shoulder. The bike needs a new chain, but solely because of neglect and the rust neglect brings. I haven't checked the derailleurs, but odds are they work well enough to shift through a few of the more important gears. I suspect the brake and gear wires could use some spray lubricant to make them feel better about life in general. $10 would make this not a pretty bike, but a pretty functional bike.

It's a little too early still for bike repair, though. I really did get up, go downstairs, and get the bike so I wouldn't procrastinate too badly. That doesn't sound terrible. The terrible part is that I was up until 4:30 this morning. I'm working on a bike with very, very little sleep, and it's not surprising that I ran into a minor issue while trying to do something about which I only have a passing knowledge.

Ah, Erythorbic. I hope you appreciate my efforts.

I hope the bike's tall enough.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The posts come few and far between!

We'll see if I can change that or if my plans to blog more fall by the wayside. AGAIN.

I am getting pretty good at some things. One of those things is modifying Wiis so that they can play "backup" versions of games. I'm considering starting a service and charging people for it, except there's already a dude in Houston who does that, apparently. I can undercut him, perhaps, but then we might get into a price war, and THEN we might get into a knife fight, and I'm not as in-shape as I have been. I've also never been in a knife fight. It seems like it's safer, if not as lucrative, to just let the other guy have the business.

I'm getting pretty good at not exercising. I really need to fix that one. I REALLY need to e-mail a friend of a friend that I met the other night, as he and his wife live a stone's throw away and exercise all the time. I shall do that tomorrow.

I am getting better at Punch-Out!!. I know because I finally beat King Hippo today for the first time. I also beat Piston Hondo, but he didn't seem nearly as much of a challenge. I guess that's good, because it would be pretty sweet if I could actually beat the game.

I hope that I am getting better at making mixed drinks, because I have a pretty nice tequila in the freezer, and some lime juice and Triple Sec. I want to make a margarita that's worth drinking. My efforts in the past have been, shall we say, mind-flaying, blistering failures. I may look for some detailed recipes a little later. I need to get it right because I don't want to spend the evening crying and pouring good alcohol down the drain because I just can't stomach it.

I also hope that I am getting better at keeping this blog updated. Let's see!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Liberation"

Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America Liberation: Being the Adventures of the Slick Six After the Collapse of the United States of America by Brian Francis Slattery


My review


The ratio started at 85% scenery, props, & costumes to 15% action and interaction. Here near the end, it's 90/10. I'm trying to power through the finely-detailed mural of the Ended Nation that this guy painted out of a duty to completion.


View all my reviews.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunburn.

V. brought out the green goop for the sunburns that we got today at Discovery Green. That illustrates one of the differences between men and women: as a guy, I didn't mind using it, but it would take me a LOT longer to think of it (if I did at all). As a guy, my first thought is "Sunburn, huh? That sucks."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Naptime Dreams?

Such an oddity while I napped this afternoon. I was one of the organizers of a concert that was going on while there were riots and the government was collapsing. What poor circumstance. In addition to all that, our headlining act (and ONLY act) was a no-show.

When I realized that our act was probably not going to show, I started getting the stage ready for something different. I commandeered a microphone, a podium, and some effects boxes. At the slated time I announced that the scheduled act was a no-show, but then surprised the audience by starting into a totally improvised freestyle rap with a sort of metal background. It was violent and hard. A fair number of the audience weren't impressed and left, but enough stayed to make me feel like it was worthwhile to continue.

The audience eventually trickled away and I wandered around the back of the club, where the backup band hired for the original artist were milling about. We watched news reports of people unable to leave or re-enter the country. I didn't get any compliments, but I felt at least a little camaraderie.

So strange.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Senses.

I want to be a cyborg so very much. There are so many ways we, as humans, measure out our world. There are also so many simple ways (and some not so simple, but quite effective) we could have those measurements at our fingertips every second of the day. They exist now, and they're fairly inexpensive. Here are some ideas:

  1. Compass: Through use of a device dubbed the "feelSpace belt", people are constantly aware of which direction is north. People who use the belt for a significant amount of time claim to have a vastly improved sense of direction, as well. An acquaintance of mine in San Francisco was working on an anklet version, and I want either device (belt or anklet) desperately.

  2. Magnetic Fingertip: Journalist Quinn Norton had a magnet implanted in her ring finger, an experience she wrote about for Wired Magazine. The implanted magnet made her suddenly aware of the electric and magnetic forces at work around her every day. There were unfortunate complications for her and others, but I hope greatly that those complications will be overcome, allowing anyone interested to start feeling electromagnetic fields.

  3. Impeccable Timing: A simple worn device that would administer a very weak electric shock at precise one-second intervals seems quite easy to create. Heck, for a while electrical muscle stimulators for abdominal toning were all the rage; one could probably hack an ab belt's interval and voltage on the cheap. Also, it's not as though a quartz clock is prohibitively expensive.

  4. Instant Night Vision: This one is blindingly simple, because all it requires is an eyepatch. If one eye is exposed to constant darkness, its pupil will stay open and its rods will not be saturated with light. A simple switch of the eyepatch when entering a lower-light area lets the ready eye absorb all the light it's capable of seeing. Even the Mythbusters have labelled this "probable"; Adam and Jamie experienced the difference an eyepatch makes.

  5. Wi-Finder: Shirts already do this. It wouldn't be hard to fit them with a small piezoelectric buzzer or such so that you'd be aware of the signal without staring down at your chest.

  6. Fingertip Laser Rangefinder: Imagine, as a builder or engineer, how wonderful it would be to simply squeeze a device on the back of your finger or hand, point down a board or a beam at a piece of paper, and get the distance from fingertip to paper. I'm not sure if laser rangefinding devices are small enough for this sort of thing yet, but if there was demand it seems certain that manufacturers would find a way to miniaturize them. They already exist in handheld form and are used in several sports; the public simply needs to call for versions that are successively smaller. Find a way to pair it with an ultrasonic tape measure and you'd have measurements for distances large and small.

  7. Level Glove: Another useful one for anyone performing a building project. Lay your finger flat against the appropriate surface and check the bubble for your reading. This wouldn't even need to be a glove; a short tube and two, maybe four elastic straps to hold it to a finger would probably suffice. (Sure, your iPhone or Android-equipped phone probably has an app for this, but it's hard to wear a phone on your hand all day on a job site.)

  8. Steady Step: When walking long distances, humans have to struggle to regulate their gait to maintain a straight line. A pair of aligned, hip- or chest-mounted lasers pointed at the ground could provide measured positions for a hiker's or a soldier's next footfall.

These are just simple ideas V. and I had in the car as we talked. Men like
Thad Starner are so far beyond these ideas that it's a little mind-boggling. In any case, I think I'll have to start a few of these projects sometime soon!

Monday, May 11, 2009

SONGS, Pt. I, or Chris Cornell is Insane

I love music. I especially love music with words. To me, a song is ten times better if it has lyrics, because then I can share the songs I love with the world without resorting to "doo-doo-doo"s and without trying to whistle through three full octaves. (I can only get two and a half most times, but I'm GOOD at "Livin' On A Prayer".)

There's a problem, though. Once I KNOW a song, or even part of it, there's a section of my mind that gets bored. Wheels begin turning, and before long I'm singing something about vaginas or cocaine or monkeys. Sometimes the rhythm of words and syllables stays; others, I'm just putting a literal spin on typical songwriting nonsense. (E. can't stand it.)

Here are some examples, with suggestions provided by some of my favorite Twitter users:


For
@whisperingfen:

Hey, you think apples all have government microphones in them
But I sure like sticking it in your hoo-ha
When I dream, I'm doin' you all night
But next time, I might put socks on your paws first

- "Crazy Bitch", Buckcherry


For
@taigitsune:

Well, I guess what they say is true
I could never be the right kind of girl for you
I could never be a dingo
I could never be a dingo

- "Your Woman", White Town


We built this city!
We built this city on the site of the Big Bopper's plane craaAAAAAAASH!

- "We Built This City", Starship


For
@thebloggess:

In my eyes
On the head

- "Black Hole Sun", Soundgarden
I can't do any more of "Black Hole Sun". It's really ridiculous as-is. And don't get me started on goddamned "Spoon Man". (I think Chris Cornell may believe apples have gov't. mics in them.) Seriously, Jenny, your suggestions are already totally fucked. "Song Sung Blue" sounds like something you have to be an alien to do and on LSD to hear/see. It might also be about the Smurfs.

Honestly, though, most of the time I end up singing things like:

Icy, creamy ice cream
Fucked your mom!
(I'm going to go ahead and publish this because, after two days, I realized that I rarely have the mental acuity to even listen to music these days. The reason is a cute one, though.)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

This is a post from my phone. Maybe I'll make a few more blog posts if I can do it from anywhere. *shrug* We'll see!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Exercise Thoughts.

So, I've been at this exercise thing since January, which makes it about four months. I thought I'd look at a picture or two from about a year ago and see what sort of progress I made.

None. No visible progress. That's how much.

Imagine how disappointing that is. I know two things have definitely changed: I have bigger thighs and my triceps are pretty toned. Unsurprisingly, those are just not the results I hoped I would see. I may be slowly, slowly developing my chest muscles, but you wouldn't know it from pictures.

I'm not sure what, if anything, I'm doing wrong. I started with three days of aerobic exercise and three days of targeted exercise. After a while, I moved to a tougher, more strenuous workout that combines the two. I do that more strenuous routine six days a week. It makes me sweat streams of water. I huff and puff like a wolf that wants a pig dinner.

There's no visible change.

It's frustrating, disappointing, and even a bit depressing to feel that these four months have been for naught. I altered my daily routine to include the exercise. My drinking habits changed: I damn near cut sodas and alcohol from my intake, moving to tea and milk. I barely snack because I just don't feel the need during the day. I made serious, different lifestyle choices and I stuck by them, as V. would attest.

I can't see why.

I NEED to see why. It all seems so pointless otherwise. Why bother when no one, not even myself, can look at a photograph and see the least bit of difference? Why make the time to put myself through a daily trial of endurance when the only boon I seem to get is being able to say I did so? I still feel the need to nap at least an hour most days. The slight amount of fat around my belly seems to be the same size. I eat less, I burn calories, I sweat so much I have to dry the floor between exercises, and the fat won't go away. It would be nice to see my abdominal muscles. The underside of my arm still flaps back and forth when I wave. The fact that all of my jeans now feel tight around my thighs isn't a consolation. I wasn't looking to exercise until I had to wear boxer briefs to minimize thigh chafing. I don't see any reason to continue with any of my healthier choices when I could enjoy Coke and booze again with no noticeable difference in physique or energy.

I alternately feel as though I have failed, or that the exercises failed me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Netflix Watch Instantly.

That's what I'm doing most days: exercising to Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred and watching PBS Kids or family entertainment on Netflix Watch Instantly. A lot of shows from HIT! Entertainment and Nickelodeon are becoming available, and there are a fair (and increasing) number of movies to watch. The downside? I'm pretty sure AT&T (or Oplink, the company I use that leases AT&T's lines) have put some sort of cap on my line. It's somewhat understandable, as we watch probably four or five hours of streaming video a day, but that doesn't stop the frustration. They're not supposed to cap my line; that's not why I selected this company, not why I pay them monthly.

I've asked them about it, and I suspect to hear from them tomorrow. (Oplink is pretty darned good with customer service.) I hope they'll have something good to tell me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Musings Around A Big Number

I'm not really happy with my life right now.

Many things about it are right. I love my little family very much. I enjoy having the free time that I do. We're getting by financially; we eat good food. I exercise regularly. I stay entertained most of the time.

Some things about it are not right. We have very little money for new things, be they big as computers or small as new clothes. By the end of most days, I am tired of watching E. and happy to basically hand her off to V. My exercise doesn't yield the results I want (visible abs, and visible chest muscles). Exercising regularly doesn't really let me drink; I huff and puff through a routine I can normally complete without issue. (In fact, after some initial results, I'm seeing NOTHING from my exercise.) My relationship with J. ended. When V. leaves me in the evenings, I feel quite alone.

I'm going to be 30 this year. I've asked some friends to host a party for me. I'm not sure I want a party. I'm not sure what I want from things as they are now.

What I want is to get a simple job outside of the house. I'd get more time away from E., we would have money for new things, and I might meet some new people. I'd have to work.

This post doesn't have a good ending, because E. has been talking and telling me stories and wearing a bell.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh, What Horrible Ideas!

I just found out that they're pretty much done producing a sequel to the horrible Jason Statham film, Crank. There are a couple of problems with this idea, though. Here's a quick version of the plot of Crank:
A hitman gets poisoned by some bad dudes who say (via videotape) that he will be dead within the hour. He shortly realizes that adrenaline staves off the effects of the poison. He runs around town doing crazy, irrational things, trying to keep his adrenaline level up. He goes to a mob doctor for help, but the doc tells him there's no antidote. There's a big showdown with the bad dudes and our poisoned hitman protagonist jumps out of a helicopter, hits the ground, bounces, and hits the ground again. finis
That was spoilery and concise, right? Now, let's see if you can spot the egregious plot mistakes the writers wrote into the sequel. From Wikipedia:
Picking up immediately after he hits the ground at the end of Crank, Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) is kidnapped by a gang of Chinese medics. On an operating table, they attempt to harvest his organs, but after removing his heart and replacing it with an electronic temporary one, Chev wakes up and kills the medics. He then has to chase after the gang who have stolen his heart, but at the same time, shocking himself with regular jolts of electricity to keep himself alive.
Take a minute if needed. Ready? Like the plot of the sequel, the idiocy picks up immediately after the end of the first movie. If they can get there soon enough to harvest organs, the medics must know what happened: a poisoned guy fell from a helicopter. This leads us to believe that these Chinese medics are idiots.
  • How many organs will still be in a useful state after the body hits the ground at terminal velocity, bounces, and hits the ground again? All the useful stuff from inside the ribcage will have lots of punctures from, y'know, broken ribs.
Okay, let's overlook that one for a moment. Maybe in a future episode the MythBusters will prove that organs would be reasonably protected after a long fall . . . somehow. That still leaves us (and the medics) with a big problem:
  • The body (and all of its organs) is still full of deadly, hour-to-live poison from the first movie (as well as a strong shot of epinephrine). In the timeline of the films, that took place about five or six hours ago.
I don't think I can watch Jason Statham movies after this. He could have turned the part down. Can't you just hear his sexy accent saying, "No, guys, this is fucking ridiculous. I'm sorry"? I wish he had. The producers would've gotten some young no-name and we could all have ignored this movie. That didn't happen, though, and now we'll all be subjected to advertising featuring Jason Statham!! in his craziest role yet, doing all his own stunts, etc.

I'm a little disgusted by the whole thing. I'm sorely tempted to do drive-by theater spoilers in the "Snape kills Dumbledore!" vein. They might sell a few less tickets. What do you good people think?