No link today, just a nice picture of Buffy.I’m blogging to you tonight live from the El Dorado Hotel in beautiful downtown Sonoma, in the heart of the California wine country. We’re here for a friend’s wedding tomorrow, and it’s getting late, so I’ll have to be brief.

I was up way too late watching the first season Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs that I got The Lady Janet for Christmas, with and without the director’s comments, and having just read The Da Vinci Code, I was quite amused to hear Joss Whedon say, after Giles draws a picture on a white-board of a Mercedes logo without the circle, ‘If I had to count every vaguely triangular symbol that they’ve had to draw, or find in a book, or rip off somebody, or destroy, or whatever, I should go mad and start babbling, much as I am now.’

Also, a quick nod of the blogger’s cap to John over at J-Walk. My traffic was almost double today because I made it into the list he posted of his Top 20 referring sites. Pretty cool.

Read about me or even order me from’ve finished The Time Traveler’s Wife (see below), and I just can’t recommend it strongly enough – buy it now, check it out from a library, or borrow it from a friend, just read it. Niffenegger does a fantastic job with all the hard stuff like paradox, fate, and free will. It’s a sexy, thinky, fun read – you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scratch your head and wonder. Read it.

Now I’m moving on to The Da Vinci Code and I’m enjoying it so far, but I’m only 38 pages in, so about all I can say right now is, ‘Is there help for the widow’s son?’

update – When I bragged to The Lady Janet that I was one of two Google hits for the widow’s son quote above, she casually informed me that it was only because it was really, ‘Is there no help for the widow’s son?’

Jason MrazI was watching Austin City Limits night before last, trying to catch Fountains of Wayne, and they were OK, but the guy who did the first half of the show, Jason Mraz was simply phenomenal.

He did a song called I’ll Do Anything that’s reggae/pop with a section that says, “Let’s get set then, to go then, and let us jet set, we’ll be like the Jetsons. You can be Jane my wife. Should I marry Jane tonight?” (He does a little aural quote from the Jetsons theme song on “Jane my wife,” then he plays up a pun on “marry Jane”=”Mary Jane”=”marijuana”), then, on the Austin City Limits version, he lapses into a verse of Bob Marley’s One Love and comes back – it was just cool.

And I think you can tell just by lookin’ at this guy that he sounds a little like a young Paul.

A lot of bloggers have picked up on the new Google beta for searching and displaying text from books (kinda like their answer to Amazon’s Look Inside the Book), but it’s all been pretty general, so here are a couple of concrete examples: When I looked up The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and clicked on the obvious thing, I saw this, but curiously, now the first link is kinda broken. Guess that’s why they call it a Beta.

Also making the rounds, I assume that this nod to George Carlin’s famous Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television is real. I note that compared to the orignal, the T-word is missing, having been replaced by the A-word.

I started this entry as a ‘Duh!’ award, but I’m saving those for things that should be patently obvious, so I’ve created a new award called ‘Doh!’ for things that are just plain stupid and/or unsafe. Today’s ‘Doh!’ award goes to people who don’t turn their lights on when it’s a grey, overcast, foggy day. The visibility Asparagus Pee's Coveted 'Doh!' Awardhere in Auburn today is somewhere in the range of 10-15 ft. for large unlighted objects, and probably 20-35 feet for bright lights – you can see the street lights a ways back, but you can’t see parked cars.

My father-in-law just dropped by our house and said ‘half the people don’t even have their lights on,’ and that got me thinking as I drove in to work that about half the people really didn’t, but then I decided to get all statistical about it. I spent a few minutes in the front window of our office monitoring a fairly busy street that is our main downtown drag, and here are the results:

Out of 124 drivers,
103 (83.1%) had their lights on (good for them!)
4 (3.2%) had only their parking lights on, and
17 (13.7%) had no lights whatsoever (idiots in about the right proportion).

So that got me thinking about daytime running lights when it’s not foggy and the sun is shining. When The Lady Janet quit working to stay home with Emily, we looked very closely at our auto insurance to see if we could save a little money, and we did a bunch of stuff like cancelling AAA because we were already paying for roadside assistance and raising our deductibles. But the other thing I noticed is that USAA thinks it’s worth a $60/year deduction if you have daytime running lights on your vehicle.

Now, my old ’89 Honda Accord doesn’t have them, but I figure, ‘Hey, if USAA thinks it’s worth $5/month this must really cut down on accidents,’ so I drive with my lights on all the time, and I think it’s very helpful because my car is dark silver grey and it blends into the road.

I was trying to decide whether to call the little side lights I saw in my tally ‘running lights’ or ‘parking lights,’ and they are definitely ‘parking lights,’ but I ran across a bunch of sites at the top of Google that are people trying to organize a ‘stop the running lights’ movement. You be the judge:

Oh, by the way, here are the CHP’s safety tips for foggy conditions – I was a little surprised by their suggestion that if you have to pull off to the side, you turn off your lights, but it makes sense, because someone might think you were on the roadway and try to follow you.

If you drive in fog, please read the tips.

Here are two completely unrelated pictures. The first is a picture of Sadam that I got in an e-mail today – I’ve tried to avoid writing about him, but I figure a picture’s OK. The second is just a picture of a stir-fry I threw together the other night. The stuff looked so pretty sitting there all cut up on the counter that I just had to take a snapshot to share.

Don't look to buy this here!

OK, here’s a pet peeve. I hate children’s books that try to have a rhyme scheme and don’t, especially if they’re knocking off something well known that originally did it right.

Case in point is this book I just suffered through tonight called The Berenstain Bears Save Christmas. Now the story is all right, but the authors decided to take The Night Before Christmas and adapt it to a new story line about the bears, and they didn’t do it well, so they put me through hell.

It begins with a simple homage to TNBC like this:

‘Twas the month before Christmas,
and all round the mall
the pre-Christmas traffic
had slowed to a crawl.
The stores were a-selling,
the horns were a-blowing,
the shoppers were
busily to-ing and fro-ing.

So far so good, but you turn the page and…

Even the family that lived
down the sunny dirt road
(for directions just ask
any chipmunk or toad)
and were usually full of
calm Christmas cheer &#151
they too were going
Christmas-crazy this year!

Good grief! I don’t know how anybody could write that, think it’s good, and still be able to walk down the street without tripping themselves. And where was the editor, I wonder? (And it gets even worse.)

(All quoted passages &copy Harper Collins Publishers, 2003.)

Asparagus Pee's Coveted Duh! AwardI’m not sure what to even think about this yet, but it’s the first winner of the Asparagus Pee “Duh!” Award: According to New Scientist, “Men lose the ability to think rationally when they see beautiful women, suggests new research.”

Time Traveler's WifeI’ve always been a guy who normally reads only nonfiction unless something remarkable comes along, but that seems to be changing lately simply because of a new service at our public library.

They have this new online resource where you can reserve books and have them put on hold. Whereas before, you could place a hold on a book, you had to wait in line and pay a small fee, and it took forever, with this new system it automatically places you in a queue for the next shot at any available copy from any library in the Placer County system. It’s free, and they notify you when it comes in.

So right now, I’m reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, and before that, I just finished Steve Martin’s little book Shopgirl, and you already know about Life of Pi and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

Even though I’ve managed to intersperse a couple of the science and self-help titles that are more typical for me, I’ve probably read more fiction the last two months than I’ve read in the last five years, and it hasn’t hurt a bit.

I followed a link back from a Google search for “Pablum’s Dog” that led someone to this site and found this fascinating if obnoxiously colored piece of work: El Camino SurReal Cantina. I recommend backing up to the home directory, or even all the way up to Metaphysics Anonymous, if this discaimer from their homepage rings any bells:

There may or may not be bare breasts, female or otherwise, on this website. I really don’t remember. Don’t enter if it might hurt me or get me wet. Fundamentalist Puritan Aunt Grundys should be cruising some other site, anyways.

Here’s a cutie, courtesy of the Heads Up! newsletter from – it’s not in English, but I call it The Pyramid of Persistent Bears. (flash)

Minerva MinkIt’s a Small World After All

Speaking of cute, I was watching an old Animaniacs tape last weekend, and there was a segment with Minerva Mink, and I got to thinking that you could do a Minerva vs. Ariel thing that would be like Ginger vs. Mary Ann.

Anyway, it turns out that Sherri Stoner, who does the voice was the writer for that episode of Minerva (and several other of the Animaniacs, primarily Slappy the Squirrel), is also prolific in movies and animated features as a writer, producer, actress, and voice talent, and was the live-action body model for Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.