Sunday, February 25, 2007

This is my desktop

OakMonster tagged me with this long ago, but first I was as sick as a proverbial dog—or a real dog, if that dog is pretty sick—and then I was catching up on all the work I didn't do while I was sick, so I didn't do it before. Sorry it took so long, Oakley.

Here's the deal:
  1. Take a picture of your desktop
  2. Explain your desktop in the way that others would come to understand who you are, what you do and what you enjoy.
So here's the picture, which I've numbered for easy explanation (except the numbers are too small, so it's not that easy after all).

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  1. Lamp: fluorescent bulb, of course
  2. Clipboard: almost everything I translate now is in electronic form, but once in a blue moon or so I get something by fax or some other primitive form of communication and I clip it to the thing so I can read it with my left eye and translate it with my right.
  3. Monitor: It's a 19-inch LCD, which was a big step up. But like a lot of people, I've discovered that wider is better, so with my next computer, I'll get a 24-incher. When I'm working, I always open programs in the same order: Outlook Express, iTunes (apparently it would take me 18.9 days to listen to all my music), MS Word (I do almost all my work in Word), Firefox (at least three windows: two on-line dictionary sites, Jim Breen's WWWJDIC and Space ALC, plus Google, maybe Wikipedia, the end-user's site, etc.), then any other programs I need e.g., Adobe Reader, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  4. CDs: That's some classical stuff from the library.
  5. Kleenex: Despite its proximity to the computer, it's for nasal purposes only. (No, really!)
  6. Printer shelf: A convenient place to put dishes.
  7. Um, in-box?
  8. That's actually a Zip drive, believe it or not. I haven't used it for a couple of years now, but there it sits.
  9. Flash drive: That's what I use instead of the Zip drive.
  10. Itty-bitty notebook: I carry it around with me a lot. I use it to record my workouts before they go into my workout blog, I jot down ideas for blog entries or jokes, stuff like that.
  11. Checkbook: I check my bank account (credit union, actually—I'm not really sure why anyone would use a bank instead of a CU) every day. I've discovered that the key to balancing a checkbook is to stop trying to do math and just write down whatever the on-line account says.
So yeah, there you go. Now you know all about me. I don't really believe in "tagging," so I'm not going to call anybody out (although I'd be fascinated to see Mist1's desktop). Just try this yourself if you think it sounds like fun. No need to be as elaborate as I was—just take a picture of your desktop and explain it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, George!

In honor of George Washington's birthday, here's a special video presentation about his life. (Not suitable for prudes or small children, NSFW*, NSFBP**.)

*Not safe for work **Not suitable for British people (Opponents beware!)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"If you're gonna do it, hurry up"

Reading Gaijin Tonic's yakuza story reminded me of one of my own.

Back when I was single and living in Tokyo, I ended up spending a night in a park for reasons I won't go into here. It was a warm summer night and I found a reasonably comfortable park bench, so I managed to fall asleep pretty quickly.

I awoke to the sound of voices. A yakuza was standing about five feet away looking down at me. Two more yakuza were standing about 10 yards away. One of them said, "Yaru nara, hayaku yare" -- "If you're gonna do it, hurry up." The yakuza standing by me looked at them and then back at me. Our eyes met. I held the eye contact, and we stared at each other for a few seconds. He looked away, muttered, "Yameta" -- "The hell with it" -- and walked off with the other two guys. I went back to sleep.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Grammy review

No, not by me -- I didn't actually watch the show. But Bill Simmons did. I know, I know, a lot of people are saying that he jumped the shark when he joined Kimmel's show, that he's just mailing it in, etc., and so on. They're right, more or less. But who else writes stuff like this?

8:04 -- "Roxxxxxx-annne ... I can't hit the high notes anymore ... those days are over ... I'm singing everything in a much lower key ... Roxxxxxxxxxx-annnnnne ..."

8:59 -- Mayer upsets Timberlake to win the Grammy for "Best Pop Vocal Album." JT looks bummed out for a split second until remembering that he bagged Jessica Biel and Scarlett Johannson in the past three weeks.

10:19 -- Hey, did you ever think you'd see the day when Christina Aguilera was much prettier, sexier AND cleaner-looking than Britney Spears? Me neither. Britney won the battle, Christina won the war. Who woulda thunk?

North Korean news item of the week

From Korean Central News Agency of DPRK:

"International Kim Il Sung Prize" Awarded to Kim Jong Il
New Delhi, February 2 (KCNA) -- The International Kim Il Sung Prize Council announced in New Delhi on February 1 its decision on awarding the "International Kim Il Sung Prize" to Kim Jong Il on the occasion of his birthday. According to it, the council decided to confer the prize on General Secretary Kim Jong Il on the occasion of his birthday in high recognition of his immortal contribution to the noble cause for global peace and security and the independent development of humankind.

(In unrelated stories from outside the Korean Peninsula, Keifer Sutherland received the International Donald Sutherland Prize, George W. Bush received the International George H. W. Bush Prize, and Jesus Christ received the Intergalactic God the Father Prize.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A haiku about crocodiles

Today my son's assignment in English class was to write a haiku. He asked for help, so I decided to write one to show him how it's done. With my deep knowledge of Japanese culture, naturally I looked to Japan for inspiration. I found it in an episode of Lupin III.

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Man claps too long and

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Thrown in water gets ate by

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Crocodiles. Poor man.

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or, in Japanese,



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

When astronauts attack!

By now probably everyone has heard of the astronaut gone wild. So what I want to talk about is not that news per se, but what we can learn from it, namely, an important difference between women and men. Here's a picture of the astronaut who flipped out (poor woman, and I mean that sincerely, and poor woman that she attacked too) in her heyday:

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She's actually quite good-looking (and no doubt quite intelligent too, being an astronaut and all). But here's her mug shot:

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And here's the difference between men and women: a lot of guys think she looks kinda hot in that second picture. Because men like crazy women. Seriously, tell a guy that there's a woman so wild about him that she would drive 1,000 miles wearing a diaper so she wouldn't have to stop to use the bathroom, just so she could pepper spray his girlfriend a little sooner, and I promise you he'll at least be intrigued, if he doesn't fall for her on the spot. Because men think that crazy chicks have crazy sex. And most guys want crazy sex. The trick, though, is to get lots of crazy sex without getting stuck with her wigging out on you and -- worst-case scenario -- maybe having her go all Lorena Bobbit on you or something.

Anyway, women don't think like that. They like saner men. Maybe it's just because guys look weird when they're crazy. This is easily illustrated with a few mug shots, because they show people at their craziest.

Carmen Electra: hot
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Mel Gibson: creepy
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Michelle Rodriguez: hot
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McCauly Culkin: creepy
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Nicole Richie: hot (if she gained a few pounds)
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Nick Nolte: WTF?
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See what I mean?

Wake up and smell the Kool-Aid

So, WordPress came out with some news: they now support four more types of video embedding. The WordPress users' response was typically gushing. They're calling it "awesome, excellent, great, cool, fun, nice, fantastic" and thanking the WP people for their "hard work" and for making "the best even better."

Um, I don't know quite how to put this, except to say that that's all pretty damn stupid. Other blog platforms, like Blogger, let you use this special programming language called "HTML" to embed these things called "objects" in your blog. Since pretty much all video sites post their videos as objects, you can embed videos in your blog from anywhere in a platform like Blogger. WordPress, OTOH, only lets you post videos from sites they "support." That means that in this area, Blogger is better. Period.

All those people swooning over WordPress's action in effect are saying, "Thank you so much for giving us back some of the options you took away from us." There're a lot of things to like about WordPress, but the way it handles video isn't one of them. Neither is the gushing sycophancy of some of its devotees.

Pork says it's sorry and will never do it again

Remember a few days back when the National Pork Board's law firm wrote a nasty cease-and-desist letter to a breastfeeding activist who was selling a t-shirt that said "The other white milk"? The NPB apologized. Good for them. You can read the details here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Switching to WordPress -- maybe

I might be switching to WordPress from Blogger. I'm not actually sure yet, though. Friends who use WordPress keep telling me it's better, but so far the only things I like much better about it are the commenting features and the blog stats. Those are indeed vastly superior. The "recent comments" feature encourages conversation, and the stats are much more detailed even than what I was getting from StatCounter. The templates are better looking. I get more random hits from people blog-surfing. Those are some of the good things.

But there are some things I don't like too. Blogger has made it really easy to change fonts and colors and things like that within templates -- it's almost WYSIWYG. If it's possible to change fonts and colors within a template in WordPress, it's not easy. At least, I haven't found an easy way to do it. Also, the sidebar widgets are harder to customize. I like to use target=new for my links (not target=blank; there's a difference). I find it hard to get at the HTML; basically I'm just dumping the pre-made widgets and HTML-ing "text" boxes.

I also don't like the way WordPress handles YouTube embedding. It uses its own little code instead of the same HTML that everyone else uses. How is that easier than just pasting what's in the little box on the YouTube page? I'm glad they made an importer for Blogger, but it seems to have stripped out all my embedded videos because they were in normal HTML instead of WordPress's code. That's actually pretty annoying. Finally, WordPress seems much slower than Blogger. Maybe they're just having a bad day or something, but I'm constantly waiting, clicking again, refreshing... that just hasn't been my experience with Blogger.

So I'm not really sure if I'm going to make a final switch. For awhile, anyway, I think I'm going to double post and see how it goes.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pork: the other corporate bully

Over at The Lactivist Blog, Jennifer Laycock blogs about breastfeeding issues and promotes breastfeeding. She also sells T-shirts with amusing breastfeeding slogans (e.g., "My kid sucks," "That's my baby's lunch you're staring at," etc.) One of her shirts says, "The other white milk," which is an obvious play on "The other white meat," a slogan of the National Pork Board.

Despite the facts that this is a harmless play on words, perhaps vaguely associates pork with the healthy and wholesome practice of breastfeeding, and is arguably a parody and thus protected speech anyway, the NPB took umbrage, and their law firm, Faegre and Benson, wrote a heavy-handed cease-and-desist letter to Jennifer. The lawyer who wrote the letter, one Jennifer Daniel Collins, apparently is not only concerned that people will confuse breast milk with pork, but is unable to tell the difference between a site that promotes breastfeeding and a site that promotes an adult breast feeding fetish. She wrote,

...your use of this slogan also tarnishes the good reputation of the National Pork Board's mark in light of your apparent attempt to promote the use of breastmilk beyond merely for infant consumption, such as with the following slogans on your website in close proximity to the slogan "The Other White Milk." "Dairy Diva," "Nursing, Nature's Own Breast Enhancement," "Eat at Mom's, fast-fresh-from the breast," and "My Milk is the Breast." (emphasis added)

Well, the pork has hit the fan, because this is all over the blogosphere and I have no doubt will hit the mainstream media real soon. So here are two clues for the clueless: NPB, don't pick on mothers. Ms. Collins, stick to the boiler-plate, because you aren't smart enough to editorialize about the people they pay you to bully.

(Found at Feminist Mormon Housewives.)

Friday, February 02, 2007

Publication date for final Harry Potter book

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be published on July 21. (The movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will open on July 13.)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Most of the time

Most of the time
I'm clear focused all around,
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground,
I can follow the path, I can read the signs,
Stay right with it, when the road unwinds,
I can handle whatever I stumble upon,
I don't even notice she's gone,
Most of the time.

Most of the time
It's well understood,
Most of the time
I wouldn't change it if I could,
I can make it all match up, I can hold my own,
I can deal with the situation right down to the bone,
I can survive, I can endure
And I don't even think about her
Most of the time.

Most of the time
My head is on straight,
Most of the time
I'm strong enough not to hate.
I don't build up illusion 'till it makes me sick,
I ain't afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind.
Don't even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time.

Most of the time
She ain't even in my mind,
Wouldn't know her if I saw her
She's that far behind.
Most of the time
I can't even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her.

Most of the time
I'm halfway content,
Most of the time
I know exactly where I went,
I don't cheat on myself, I don't run and hide,
Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside,
I don't compromise and I don't pretend,
I don't even care if I ever see her again
Most of the time.

(Lyrics by Bob Dylan. I like Sophie Zelmani's cover on the Masked and Anonymous soundtrack.)