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It's time to take this bull by the horns and milk it.

Thoughts and observations of an Enneagram Type 7 INFP Beatles fan. I prefer baths to showers, late nights to early mornings, cats to dogs, and Mary Ann. The perfect blog for all featherless bipeds.

Gooblek is a 2-to-1 suspension of cornstarch in water. It acts like a liquid if you move it slowly, but a solid if you hit it or squeeze it. Click below for info on Asparagus Pee.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2003
 
It's a little bit angsty, but please check out this young person's blog: orange blossom smut girl. Here's today's intro... "I do not believe in fate. I don't believe that some kind of higher force stays up all night smoking and drinking and writing out the story of my life."


 
I was reading something a little while ago that was talking about how humans have been genetically programmed for both hunting and gathering, and while that's not an uncommon statement, it made me think about a few things...

My first thought was that there are some things I've done in my life that just 'felt natural,' like hunting for mushrooms or looking for ripe tomatoes where it's almost like you drop down into some automatic subroutine that feels really easy, and requires very little thought, but requires very concentrated awareness. In those situations, I usually also have a strong sense that 'I'm good at this' even though I may never have done it before.

My second thought was then to draw analogies from that type of visceral experience to other similar experiences in the more virtual spaces, like channel surfing looking for something good to watch, looking everywhere for something you've lost, or most pertinently, surfing the web and your favorite blogs looking for those things that most interest and entertain you.


It's official - I'm growing my beard. Every year, I like to wear a beard from October through March, then go clean-shaven April through September. I have a little fun when I start shaving again, because I go through a transition phase where I usually have a goatee now, but I've had years where I've experimented with lambchop sideburns, jazz beards, etc. It lasts only a few days at most, depending on the response I get.

I stopped shaving last Friday, and people are starting to notice.


On a (slightly) related note, I see that Schick has come out with (I refuse to use the term 'invented') a 4-blade razor, called the Quattro™ (go figure) and that Gillette is suing them (go figure).


Saturday, September 27, 2003
 
Today is a picture post. First we have the world's largest florist's chrysanthemum.

But the big news is that we've got a new Yup. That's our 'scope all right. DigitalBlue™ microscope that hooks up to our new home computer through the USB port. Here's a pic of a lacewing that was caught in a spiderweb in the laundry room.

In other big news, Emily blew her first bubblegum bubble. (She looks a little insane because she's so excited to see herself in a mirror blowing a bubble for the first time.)


 
Tonight we checked out two new shows, Joan of Arcadia and The Matchmaker. I'd love to say that we're going to watch a lot less TV this year, but so far, these are looking pretty good. Joan is about a young girl who's visited by God, ala Joan of Arc, obviously, and Matchmaker is Alicia Silverstone doing her best imitation of Meg Ryan in a shampoo commercial. They are both pretty good shows so far, but I am really impressed by whoever is writing God's part for Joan.

Best Search Phrase

chub+night+Simpsons


 

1st Guest Blog!

Here's a guest blog entry from my younger brother, Kevin:

Someday the skin care experts of the world will realize that the secret ingredient theyíve all been looking for is human ear wax. Ever look at an old personís ears? Try it. The ears are almost perfectly preserved.

All the dumbfounded experts on Alzheimerís disease whoíve been fruitlessly looking at aluminum cookware for the culprit will realize that itís the aluminum in antiperspirant thatís causing some of us to lose our minds in our older years.

(Unrelated non-Kevin thing: There was a rumor awhile back that antiperspirants were causing breast cancer, and that's been thoroughly discredited by the American Cancer Society.)


 

Daddy, can I ask you a question?

This is the latest installment in our 4-yr old's quest to form a consistent cosmology...

Last night, Emily asked me, "Why is there night?" and we did a whole demonstration with the rechargeable mini-MagLite™ that lives on her nightstand, where the MagLite was the sun and my fist was the earth, and we looked at the shadows, and we talked about how the sun was incredibly hot, etc., etc.

Tonight, she asked me, 'Daddy, can I ask you a question?' and the question was, 'Where is God?'

So I say, 'Most people believe that God is everywhere,' and she says, 'So God could be on a star?'

Then I say, 'Yes, God made the stars and he's in them and everything else.'

'So God must be very good at being really hot, huh?' she asks.

'Yes,' I admit, 'that must be right.'

Then she says, 'I guess God must have learned how to be really good at being hot from somebody. It was probably from a dinosaur that he knew.'

I'm in trouble...


By the way, do I believe in God?

Well, rationally I'd like to say no, but given the spectacular miraculousness of all that is, I just have to believe that there's something greater and more magical than just bare existence behind all of this. My current gut-feeling is that it's a little like the old Nintendo games, and our understanding of the weirdness at the subatomic level is equivalent to the Mario Bros.™ noticing that, hey, every time we look at these 'basic building blocks,' it appears that each 'atom' is made up only of three simpler particles (or 'pixels') that we whimsically call 'red,' 'green,' and 'blue.' And they seem to follow some very specific rules of cause and effect that we can't quite explain, but seem to be laws of our universe.


Planned Obsolescence

We have a VCR that we've had for a few years that we absolutely love. It's, I think, either the 3rd of the 5 or the 4th of the 6 VCRs that we've owned in a little over 11 years of marriage. When we started out, we were buying the basic 2-head Sharp units because they were like $299 instead of the fancier $369 4-head jobs. The last time we bought a VCR, I got a Sony 4-head, Hi-Fi unit out at Target for something like $84.

So now we have this RCA VCR that we've had for about 5 or 6 years that we love, and I'm thinking, gee, I could buy a $14 head cleaner that won't do anything, or I can cut to the chase, check the ads, and go buy a brand new VCR for around $59 day after tomorrow.

A few years ago when we still had the Sharp, we think the remote accidentally went out in the trash, so we ordered a replacement by mail and paid $79 for it, and that VCR crapped out about 4 months later.

Times have changed.


One of the things that I think about from time to time, is whatever happened to recording analog sources to videotape?

It was a big deal when I was in college, back in the early '80s, when Beta was still around, and they'd just come out with Hi-Fi Beta format, and VHS was in its infancy, that you could record records to the new video format, and it was (much, much) better than the best Nakamichi cassette deck. Of course, a nice Sony Hi-Fi Betamax unit cost around $1399 in those days, but hey, I was a poor college student, and still I paid $495 plus tax for a Harmon-Kardon cassette deck that I was never happy with... in those days, we had no idea what the value of cheap Chinese labor was to become.

But now we do, and I'm thinking, hey, I can get a Hi-Fi VHS setup for around $60, and the tapes hold 6-8 hrs at $0.69 each, and the specs are near-CD, and there's no copy protection issues, so why doesn't anyone do this?


Time magazine has a story on Reagan's letters. I have to admit that I've never thought much of Mr. Ray-Gun (In 1980,when I was exactly 18 and old enough to vote, and had just registered for the draft 'under protest', I naively voted for John Anderson, not even realizing that I was denying a much-needed vote to President Carter. Oh well.)

But I digress. Mr. Reagan's letters, or at least the selection presented by Time, paint a very endearing portrait of a thoughtful man with no mean writing ability, so I may need to do a little scholarly research and re-evaluate my opinion. But then again, come on, I mean, Star Wars? Evil Empire? Hmm.


Thursday, September 25, 2003
 
Click to pre-order from Amazon

Point/Counterpoint?

I was a little concerned when I ran across this
anti-Michael Moore site: Michael Moore Lied to You.
But then today,
MM finally replied to all the wackos: Wacoattacko.



Wednesday, September 24, 2003
 
Night before last, our precocious little girl asked me one of life's truly great questions. I should mention that she's in the habit now of prefacing all of her questions with a dramatic, 'Daddy? Can I ask you a question?' and a lot of the time it's just, 'can I have another juice box?' But two nights ago, the question was, 'Where did the first man and the first woman come from?' (Yikes! I didn't see that one coming.)

I told her there were basically two ideas about where they came from. 'Some people believe that God made the first man and woman, and their names were Adam and Eve,' says I. Next question, of course, is, 'Daddy? Who made God?' Hoo-boy, we're raising a philosopher here folks.

Then I told her that other people believe that life started by itself and got more and more complex over millions of years, and that that's called evolution. She didn't have much to say about that, yet.


Friday, September 19, 2003
 
Today we got a couple of notices from the Enron bankruptcy hearings. See, back when California became deregulated, before all the hoopla about Enron and the California energy crisis, we actually switched from our regular PG&E service to an Enron 'Green Energy' account, where even though we were getting exactly the same electricity from PG&E's wire, our (extra) dollars were supposed to be contributing to increased use of Hydro, Bio, Wind, and Geothermal energy supplies. It's just another one of those crazy tithing things we do to avoid having too much money laying around all the time.

I don't speak legalese, but this appears to be a request from Enron saying that they'd like to consider that anybody who has a claim with them for their misconduct is entitled to somewhere between $0 and $1, unless they claim otherwise before 9/22, so I'm thinkin', hey, what if I had a cleverly worded letter that says, in effect, 'No, I'd like to claim that you owe me $300.' ?

Anybody out there know how this thing really works?


Thursday, September 18, 2003
 
Our 4-year old is somewhat of a prodigy. Last night I asked her what five and five is, and she hesitated a moment and said 'ten.' I asked her what two and three was, and she said 'five.' Then she said, 'Daddy, can we do the other kind of math?' and I said, 'What kind of math is that, sweetie?' and she said, 'You know Daddy... Times. Like 2 times 3,' so I said, 'OK, what is 2 times 3, and she hesitated and said, 'six.' We did this a couple more times, then I asked her, 'So, when I say what's five and five, and you hesitate, what are you thinking?' and she thought a little while and said, 'I'm mostly thinking, "No, it's not 8... No, it's not 9... Is it 10? YES!"'


 
We've started watching the Simpsons again on late-night television, and tonight's was a great episode where Ned Flanders' house gets obliterated by a hurricane (how apropos) but the rest of Springfield escapes unscathed. Then they have a flashback to when Ned's Beatnik parents took him in for anger management, and they say to the psychologist, "We've tried nothin', man, and we're all out of ideas."


 
Survivor's here! We watched the premiere this evening, and once again, we're excited about Survivor. Tonight's highlight? The 'Morgan' tribe had agreed that since Osten was having such a hard time keeping his pants on (and apparently doesn't know that 'Austin' would be better), if they started to slip off, the other two 'main' guys would drop their drawers as well.

So, during the first Immunity Challenge, the guy's pants start to fall down, and Andrew and Ryan O. take theirs off too. At this point, we have the classic quote of the first show, when Jon 'Fairplay' Dalton (because he 'doesn't play fair') yells, 'MOVE SOME ROCKS, JERKS!'


 
Today's Bizarro cartoon has a nice 'fair and balanced' look at Fox News: Bizarro Fox. (My apologies to Dan Pirarro and King Features for rippin' off the image - it changed to tomorrow's comic, and I couldn't figure out how to make it a permalink.)


Wednesday, September 17, 2003
 
Carnival of the Vanities is back home again for its 52nd week anniversary at Silflay Hraka: Carnival of the Vanities - #52. I didn't submit an entry this time, but there's some really good stuff there, so check it out!


Tuesday, September 16, 2003
 
coverI've been listening to this new Fountains of Wayne CD I just bought called Welcome Interstate Managers, and it is fantastic. They sound a lot like The Cars did in their better years, but also pretty Beatle-y, and a lot like my music sounds in my head before it gets out and I screw it all up. I bought mine at the record store next door for $18.95 to try to help them stay in business, but I'd encourage you to click on the picture and buy one from Amazon right now for $12.99.


Our local Albertson's has had 1 lb. chubs of ground turkey on sale for $1 each, so last night I fixed us up some turkey burgers. I've been in the habit of thinking that ground turkey is leaner than hamburger, and the label on the chub said, "50% Less Fat than Hamburger!" But I checked it against the label on the ground beef chubs we buy from Costco, and the turkey had about 33% more fat than the beef - guess the 50% less claim is for the old-fashioned 30% fat hamburger that I grew up with, and not the 10 - 15% stuff we usually buy.


We've been having a problem with little moths getting into our cupboards and getting little wormies in our flour, rice, etc., so we've been putting in these pheremone lure 'pantry pest traps' to try to capture them. But there seem to be more moths everywhere in our house than we've ever had, and I'm becoming convinced that the pheremones are attracting way more extra moths than the traps are catching. It's an interesting Catch-22, and I've also wondered often if those electric bug-zappers don't just attract more bugs to your yard.
As a seller of audiobooks, I was at a convention of my audiobook industry peers awhile back, and I told someone there that as the popularity of audiobooks continues to grow, we should consider an ad campaign based around the slogan, "Audiobooks... Not Just for Blind People Anymore!" and she had a cow. She went on to tell me that as an audio producer, she had recorded numerous programs for "Books for the Blind," and that it was extremely important to say "people who can't see" instead of "blind people," because it stresses that the afflicted parties are people first.

Well, here's what the National Federation for the Blind has to say about it: The Pitfalls of Political Correctness: Euphemisms Excoriated. (Special thanks to Sunny Place for the link.)


Turns out people don't wash their hands about 25% of the time in U.S. airport restrooms (blech! What are they thinking!?), but they do much better when there's been a SARS outbreak: Excite - News.

While we're on the topic of airports and public safety, here's something that's just plain scary: Color-coded Travel Badges.


Here are a few more pics from Bodega Bay - sure looks like fun! (Click for bigger pics.)

Name in the SandThis is the life!Goobleky Castle Made of Silly Sand


Thursday, September 11, 2003
 
Having enjoyed an excellent Reuben sandwich as we blew through San Francisco yesterday, I'm vacationing in Bodega Bay this week with my family and my parents, and the in-laws are coming over to meet us tomorrow.

I'm posting a few pictures of some things we've seen the last couple of days, like this sea lion that hangs out around the fishing docks across the street from our rental. One of the crusty old salty dogs out on the pier says this good ol' boy grabbed him and pulled him underwater and thrashed him up against a wall. Then he went off on a harangue (and I never thought I'd ever actually need to use that word, but that's what it was, all right) about how he was beating the thing with a piece of PVC pipe and the game warden came up and told him he had to stop or he'd be arrested, at which point his comments quickly degraded, becoming completely inappropriate for our 4-year old's beautiful little-girl ears.




We also saw this old tabby cat who is apparently authorized to drive a forklift, as he seemed right at home behind the wheel. He was hoisting around some big plastic vats of live crabs when we first came upon him, but he was kind enough to pause for a second and pose for a picture or two.



We ended the day with a visit to a secluded cove that was perfect for soaking up the sea air and getting our toes wet. (It was way too cold to swim today, but we had a lot of fun nonetheless.)


Monday, September 08, 2003
 
This is one of the coolest things I've ever seen - I put off linking to it because I was expecting it to show up all over the place, but here it is (high bandwidth connection recommended): Ping Pong performance art. It's amazing what people can do if they put their minds to it.


 
So yesterday's Doonesbury tackled the infamous 'masturbation prevents cancer' study, and our local paper was one of the ones that substituted an old archive comic in its place. Here's the real deal: Doonesbury@Slate - Daily Dose.


Saturday, September 06, 2003
 
There is a cool site called MoveOn.org: Democracy in Action that gathers on-line petition names. They have about 77,000 people right now that are either Californians who've pledged to vote 'no recall,' as I do, or out-of-state residents who state that the recall as it stands is an affront to democracy no matter where you live. I'd urge you to check out the site, and to use this link to sign the petition as my referral. Thanks for listening.


 
I'm about halfway through with A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is a bummer, because it's a library book that's due today. It is a fascinating look at the history of science, and it's full of interesting things, like this: The same guy who invented Tetraethyl Lead as an anti-knock gasoline additive, also invented Freon. So two of the worst things ever to affect the atmosphere, lead and CFCs, are both the work of one man, Thomas Midgley, Jr.

Another interesting one? Madame Curie's personal effects were exposed to so much radioactive material, that people put on leather lead lined gloves and aprons just to look at her cookbooks!


Friday, September 05, 2003
 
Have you tried these new microfiber cleaning cloths yet? If not, you should - everything they claim seems to be true - I got a couple last week, and you really can dust without chemicals and the dust jumps on them like a Swiffer™, or clean windows with nothing but water. I also got a waffle-looking Scotchbrite™ microfiber kitchen rag, and it even took the kitchen grease off the exhaust grille on our microwave stove hood without soap. It's almost fun to clean with these things.


 
I learned a new word today, sprezzatura, courtesy of Ftrain.com. It's an Italian word from the high renaissance that means, roughly, the art of making the difficult look easy. It also implies a certain spontaneity and nonchalance in the execution.

The Beatles certainly had sprezzatura, but you know those guys worked hard at what they did - John Lennon said something to the effect that they thought of themselves as craftsmen, going in to work every day to practice getting better at their craft. Or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who writes as if he's speaking off the top of his head, but I know from an interview he did many years ago that for some of his more complicated novels, he actually graphed out all of the characters and events against a timeline on the back of rolls of wallpaper.

My personal mission statement begins with the overall mission, 'To move easily through the world as a man of good conscience,' and I love that image of just breezing on through it all. Sprezzatura!


Thursday, September 04, 2003

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

 
One of the strange things that I think about from time to time is, 'What if there was some horrible cataclysm, and I were one of the few people who survived. How much of human culture could I be relied on to carry single-handedly into the future, and would it be enough to prevent a new dark age?' A slight variant on this thought is, 'If I were abducted by aliens as a representative homo sapiens sapiens, what picture of our species would they get from downloading my brain?'

I think the bottom line is that I do know enough to keep us from falling into a dark age, but it really makes me realize how much I (or any one person) comes up short. I mean, arithmetic and algebra would carry on, but calculus might be a bit spotty, and if it depends on me, Euler substitutions are not going to be around anymore. All languages other than English would be lost. I'd be sure to tell them that everything is made of atoms. A lot of music stuff would be saved, even if I were the only person in the world who could still tune a guitar. Of course, there's a lot of other areas that I could at least describe or interpret, so maybe we'd be OK. Sure is interesting to think about, though.


 
I have been really frustrated because my current ISP is limiting me to 10 MB total space, and I've wanted to upload a buttload of my music, and I realized awhile ago that even though my old ISP has been out of business for years, my old, more or less unlimited server space is still accessible through FTP. Long story short, I've uploaded several megabytes of my original songs to my old FTP, and I'm linking to them in the table below. Enjoy while you can!

I Don't Love You No More A lighthearted country ditty.
Why Are We All So Afraid? Really cool guitar - good lyrics & good atmosphere provided by my brother Kevin.
All I Ever Wanna Do Good song - the girl I wrote it for was unimpressed, but that's OK - I like it. Not a very good recording, though.
Couples & Money Very nice, bouncy little Beatlesque thing. Actually appears on a commercial audiobook by the same name, in a slightly different studio recording that's not as good.
Go with the Flow Major Lennon-ish production number.
For Chaaya Very real sounding classical guitar piece, but it ain't live - it's Memorex. Even when I actually played this many years ago, I used several tracks.
Sometimes It's Hard This may well be the best thing I've ever come up with.
Levi's 501 Ad This was back in the days when Sasson jeans was running an ad where Elton John sang 'Sassons mean so much.' I actually sent it to Levi's via Foote, Cone & Belding, and they sent it back registered mail with a copy of their unsolicited ideas policy.
Look Around Another Lennon song I tried to write.
No Woman Blues What it says.
Out in the Rain This is my first big piano number from when we got my mother-in-law's old piano a few years ago.
Separation 20-something angst about a long-distance romance. Nice pseudo-classical acoustic solo piece played live.
I'm So in Love with You This may be my most elaborate production number to date.
Ton of Pain Another light-hearted country piece.




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