Tuesday, July 29, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Canadian ringer

I've been wondering about Canadians lately, seems like they're doing some kind of oddball stuff (not that I, as an American, really have room to talk).

Anyway, sometime the oddballs can be pretty damned entertaining. Like this Canadian street performer.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

First degree battery

I've been intrigued by the Tesla Motors eponymous electric car since the project was announced ages ago.

In case you've been living in your mother's basement for the last five years, the Tesla is an all-electric car that essentially runs off of power supplied by laptop computer batteries.

And while the knock on all-electric cars had been that they're underpowered and unsexy, the Tesla Roadster is based on a Lotus Elise chassis and can go from 0-60 in about five seconds.

Here's a little more info from my good friend Jay Leno:

So anyway, the point is that the car is cool. Not sure about the feasibility of driving it around KC in the dead of winter. Seems like the batteries might not survive the minus 10 ba-billion degrees average temperature. Ah well, room for improvement I guess.

What I really wanted to pass on (in case you haven't read) is that over the weekend the Tesla hit another milestone in that all American cars face -- it's first road accident.

Evidently, the driver was out for a spin when he was rear ended (since it was an electric car, it may have been the shocker) by another vehicle, thus causing a reaction whereby the Tesla hit the car in front of it (a Mercedes, I think).

And I gotta say, judging from the pictures, it appears the Tesla Roadster came through it in pretty good shape.

It's a good sign for the future of transportation. As soon as I make my third million dollars, I'll buy a Tesla and let you guys drive it around and see for yourself.

Until then, Tesla continues to rule.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random photo XII: Flower fountain

I'm liking the new strip mall at 115th (or whatever) and Nall. It has more of a small town, almost a left bank feel to it. Don't get me wrong, it's still all evil and corporate just like everything else in JoCo.

But at least it has a nice atmosphere, aided by a small pedestrian park and these flower fountains...

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Carefully taught

I overheard an unpleasant conversation recently that made me think of these lyrics from South Pacific.
You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught

Interesting that Rogers and Hammerstein wrote this in 1949, and here we are nearly 60 years later and some people still haven't learned. Or maybe they've learned too well.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Dimitri the stud

This has been around for a while, but that doesn't change the fact that it's pure comic genius.

This is actual audio from an actual phone call (the video is a lip-synced version). Here's a little more background ganked from the YouTube entry:
A woman and her friend were out one night in the SF Marina district, hanging outside one of the bars trying to find a cab. One of the girl's, Olga, ends up meeting this guy Dimitri and they talk for at the most for 2 minutes. She hands him her business card and says call me.

This was the actual voicemail that Dimitri left Olga, accompanied by Eric (brotha E) Anderson's interpretive reenactment. Billed by many as, The Douchiest Phone Message In History.
And here's the "very elegant" Part II:

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Mac, Firefox... little help here

Okay you smart, computery types, I need a little technical help.

Here's the set-up... I have a middle-aged iMac G5 running MacOS X Leopard (fully updated). I have an Apple Mighty Mouse (with the track nipple). And I recently updated to the latest version of Firefox.

Except now, my mouse functionality is somewhat fucked up. I can still move around the screen. The scrolling track nipple works correctly. No problems clicking (right, left, side buttons, etc.) But there's one highly annoying problem that's really starting to piss me off.

I used to be able to left-click, hold and drag to select a group of text on the browser screen, or left-click, hold and drag the scrolling bubble (you know, the one in the right-hand border of the window?) to scroll the web page.

But now, whenever I try to left-click, hold and drag anything, it just moves the entire browser window around on my screen.

I've looked through my Firefox preferences and mouse preferences to try to determine if I have somehow inadvertently screwed up a setting somewhere, but I can't find anything that looks like it would control this behavior.

So, WTF?! Has anyone else run into this? Is this a flaw in Firefox, or (more likely) pilot error on my part.

And if it is my fault, how in the heck to I fix it. Because, like I said, it's annoying the hell out of me.

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Friday Blogthing: Witless

I appreciate people who refuse to engage in a battle of wits with unarmed opponents. It just makes things much easier for me.

Ganked from RGOF.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Awkward Pie: Hookers and blow

A few weeks ago someone sent me a meme, one of the questions of which was "how often do you embarrass yourself" (my answer? Continually).

Anyway, it got me thinking about all the most embarrassing and awkward moments, which I thought might make a nice regular feature here. Please feel free to share your deepest embarrassments in the comments so that I'll know I'm not alone in being a complete jackass all of the time.

Anyway, here's one of the episodes that came to mind:

A few months ago, I was at a casual business dinner with some of my colleagues at some fancy restaurant on the Plaza. There were about 15 of us at a long table. I was sitting near one end with two East-coasters and a West-coaster.

The evening started off on a light note. We all know each other and have worked with each other for quite some time, though we don't often meet in person so there were some conversational niceties to be taken care of.

We order drinks and appetizers and commence the conversation. After a few glasses of wine and food, we got to joking around, and conversational topics turned from industry news and the weather to more personal issues.

At some point, the discussion turned to our various personal foibles.

Specifically, the young woman (the other three of us were d00ds), confessed that she has an addiction to lip balm -- Carmex actually, the kind in a tube, not a jar. It's bad enough, she said, that if she doesn't have some with her when she leaves her house in the morning she will compulsively go miles out of her way to buy a new tube.

Then one of the other guys admitted his pathological dependence on hand lotion. Seems he feels compelled to smear the stuff on his hands twice a day to avoid the not-so-moist feeling.

I myself admitted that I dare not come within the event horizon of a package of strawberry Twizzlers, as doing so would mean the certain destruction of the entire package of said Twizzlers by me in my digestive system.

Anyway, we're all having a great time cracking wise on each others' personal flaws, becoming more raucous as the night wears on and we drink more glasses of wine. Yes, it was all good until I decided to kick it up a notch and quipped...

"Actually, I really don't have any vices... Well, I mean other than my addictions to porn and heroin."

Except when I said the words "my addictions to porn and heroin," for some reason, a split second before the words left my mouth, the entire table, the entire room, went dead silent.

Dead. Silent.

It was as if someone had said "My broker is E.F. Hutton. And E.F. Hutton says..."

Everyone in our party immediately looks toward my end of the table. I can see by the looks on their faces that they're trying to piece together the parts of the conversation that they missed. Only, it seemed like they were taking a really long time to do it.

So, ignoring the sage advice that when you've dug yourself into a hole, you should stop digging, I tried to recover with another unwise crack...

"But I'm feeling much better now."

There was a smattering of nervous, forced laughter, followed by low murmuring as the conversational engine began to rev back up. After a few moments, the awkwardness had passed as people resumed their dinner conversations.

Eventually the evening came to an end and we all got up to leave for home. As I walked out the door, a colleague who had been sitting at the other end of the table was leaving in front of me.

"It was good seeing you again," he said. "You guys doing anything exciting this weekend?"

"No," I replied. "Just the usual."

"Ah yes," he said. "Hookers and blow."

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Bastille

To all my French friends, I just wanted to send a happy Bastille Day (belated).

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Monday, July 14, 2008


It's been a long time since HBO has had a decent series.

The subscription network was hitting home runs regularly with the likes of The Sopranos, Band of Brothers, Deadwood, Entourage and (for some people, I guess) Sex in the City.

But ever since the series so-called finally of The Sopranos, their offerings have been pretty boring and forgettable. The network's recent series, Tell Me You Love Me and In Treatment, seem to be an exploration into how boring other peoples' psychoses can be (although, Tell Me You Love Me earns a pass for the full-frontal nudity).

But I was really pleased with the initial episode of Generation Kill, the seven-part miniseries that follows an elite squad of Marines through the first 40 days of the Iraq war. It is based on the book of the same name by Evan Wright, an embedded journalist writing for Rolling Stone during the invasion.

The production did a great job of keeping showing the tedium of pre-invasion dessert life in Kuwait -- how soldiers dealt with heat, boredom, training equipment shortages and questionable leadership -- as they prepared to be the tip of the spear into Iraq.

The anti-military bias, if there is one, is only very subtle, and -- at least in the initial episode -- the narrative seems to be more concerned with presenting the day-to-day lives of the men on the front line, than with overt political statements about the war itself.

The violence in the first episode was pretty tame as well, especially when compared to The Sopranos and Band of Brothers. Of course the war is just starting, so I expect this to get a little more intense.

Overall, I'm looking forward to seeing the remaining episodes, and I'm keeping the DVR set.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Thursday, July 10, 2008

That old feeling

This could be a little confusing, so pay close attention...

I got a txt msg from my younger sister last night that my niece, the daughter of my older sister, is pregnant.

So first of all, congratulations to my niece. She married her husband a couple of years ago and has built a good career (as has her husband). This is the next step for them and they'll be great parents.

It's still very early in the pregnancy, and lots of times these things "don't take" the first time. But if this is turns out to be a viable pregnancy, that would mean my sister will be a GRANDMOTHER!

Which, if you've been following along, makes me a Great Uncle (I mean, I'm already a great uncle by virtue of being an all around great guy. But now I could be a Great Uncle as well).

I am NOT old enough to be a Great Uncle.

Okay, here's the big caveat: My niece (the one who's pregnant) is the stepdaughter of my older sister. To the best of my recollection she was already in nearing junior high age when my sister became her stepmom.

But still, it makes you feel the cold breath of age on your neck to think that your sister is a grandmother.


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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Spies like us

FYI... the Democrat-controlled Senate has approved a bill to allow the government to spy on Americans.

Candidate Obama voted in favor of the spying bill. I wonder if that's what he means by "candidate of change."

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Dentally unstable

So I'm rushing around at the office at about a quarter past two yesterday afternoon.

I have a 3 p.m. dentist appointment and I know it will take at least 30 minutes to drive, find a parking place and run up a long flight of stairs to the office. On top of that, I have a conference call that I can't miss from 2-3 p.m. I know I'm cutting the timing close on this.

I print out the spreadsheet for the meeting, dial in to the conference on my cell phone and begin shutting down my computer. I have to be in my car in 15 minutes if I'm going to make my appointment.

Twenty minutes later I'm on the road, hands-free phone on mute, spreadsheet in one hand and steering wheel in the other. Yes, I've become that guy. On a meeting, driving down the highway, referring to a lines on a spreadsheet that are too small to read and speeding to try to get to my appointment.

Luckily, I don't kill my self or anyone else in an auto accident. I find a parking place right in front of the door to the dentist's office and run up the stairs with enough time to grab a quick sip from the drinking fountain and still arrive three minutes early.

So I had a frantic trip to the office. Keep that in mind for a minute or two.

I sit down in the exam chair and the dental hygienist pulls out a blood pressure cuff. Evidently in the six months since my last cleaning, this office has decided that blood pressure checks are a vital part of dental hygiene. Is this new? Does your dentist do this? I can't decide if my dentist is on the cutting edge of dental care, or just pretending to be a real doctor.

Anyway, the blood pressure reading comes in slightly elevated. I chalk it up to the craziness of the last hour or so, not to mention a bit of anxiety about being at the dentist in the first place. Now don't get me wrong, I don't have any kind of pathological fear of the dentist. But come on, does anybody really look forward to having their gums probed with sharpened steel implements? Really?

As a quick aside here, let me just pause to reiterate my incredulity that here we are, living in the future, where modern medicine is performing miracles like giving site to the blind and allowing men to have babies, yet dentists are using technology that is little changed since medieval times. Come on dentists! Where are the fricken' lasers to clean my teeth!

Anywho, Jabby McStabyourgums commences the teeth cleaning, noting she'll just take another blood pressure reading after the cleaning, when I've had a chance to relax. As if 10 minutes of having stainless steel hooks scraped across my teeth and under my gums is the equivalent of smoking a joint while getting deep tissue massage.

The exam/cleaning is finished. I have no cavities (of course) and I get a nice little parting gift of a new toothbrush, floss and toothpaste (travel size, the cheapskates) as I get up. McStabyourgums forgets to recheck my blood pressure, and I don't remind her.

I think it' s a pretty safe bet that it was higher.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: Not voting is easy, more than half the population does it

Now, everyone can participate in pretending to participate in the political process. There's really no excuse for not not getting involved.

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Monday, July 07, 2008


Back to the Tour de France for a minute...

Kansas City's modern day Hemingway, Midtown Miscreant, commented previously that pro cycling "...just seems like nascar on bikes to me."

Well, my friends, nothing could be further from the truth (well, okay, calling Obama the "candidate of change" might be a little further from the truth, but I don't want to get all political right now).

I don't blame MM for his misconceptions. Your average barbecue-eatin', gas guzzlin' midwesterner probably knows more about Britney Spears that the Brittany region of France.

So let me take a few moments to clarify how the Tour de France is totally unlike NASCAR racing...
  • In NASCAR, machines do all the work. In cycling, drugs do all the work.

  • In a typical NASCAR race weekend, cars use 6,000 gallons of gas. In a typical Tour de France, the support caravan (team cars, team buses, race officials, ambulances, etc.) uses 6,000 gallons of gas.

  • In cycling, riders maneuver left and right at high rate of speed down treacherous mountain switchbacks. In NASCAR, drivers turn left.

  • If I miss coverage of a NASCAR race, I don't get upset. If I miss coverage of the Tour de France, I get upset. And when I get upset, people die.

  • In NASCAR, drivers take pit stops. In cycling, riders strap on a feed bag.

  • The Tour de France rolls through picturesque medieval villages and French countryside. NASCAR blasts through places like Atlanta.

  • In NASCAR, speed is measured in miles per hour. In cycling, it's kilometers per hour. So, yeah, totally different.

  • In NASCAR, the announcers have a hickish sounding accent. In cycling, the announcers have a refined and sophisticated sounding accent.

  • In NASCAR, the race winner gets to burn rubber on the track. In cycling, the race winner gets to French kiss those two cute Crédit Lyonnais chicks.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Support KC metro's newest pro-sports team

With the Royals assuming their usual seat at the bottom of their division, and the Chiefs gearing up for another lackluster season, we're kind of entering the dog days of pro-sports in this town.

But fear not, local sports fan. Starting Saturday, the metro area's newest pro sports team takes to the field, or rather road, when the 2008 Tour de France commences with it's first stage from Brest to Plumelec.

That's right, Kansas City's (well, Olathe's) hometown GPS house, Garmin, is the primary sponsor of the Garmin-Chipotle team (aka Slipstream).

Each summer I look forward to the Tour to fill the void created by crappy reality TV, lackluster baseball and lame sitcom reruns. This year I was pleased to see Garmin and Chipotle pick up the sponsorship of Slipstream, especially given the "clean cycling" mantra of the team.

In this case, clean cycling has nothing to do with lower carbon footprints or eco-friendly biofuels. Rather, it's the team's goal of trying to shed the shadow of doping that has darkened the world of pro-cycling for years.

It will be interesting to see how this team does. One of my favorite rising stars of the past few tours, Dave Zabriske, is on the team, but he suffered a serious crash in Italy, so I'm not sure if he'll be available for the Tour. That's a shame.

Otherwise, the team has a pretty good lineup Tour riders including some experience in David Millar, Magnus Backstedt and Christian Vande Velde, and it is headed by former pro Jonathan Vaughters.

Still given the focus on eliminating performance enhancing doping, it's questionable whether any of the team members will be on the podium when the Tour rolls in to Paris on July 27.

But if they can live up to their anti-doping philosophy, it's a team that Garmin can be proud to sponsor.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Can't stand the Chiefs

A big tip o' the hat to PDSH who hepped me to this Yahoo! Sports link where the author cracks wise about the Kansas City Chief's new "Fan Code of Conduct."
In theory, it's not a bad idea, as you'd like your stadium to provide a friendly atmosphere for families and people who aren't drunken hooligans.

In practice, though, it might not be such a great idea, especially if the person responsible for coming up with the rules is an 85-year-old woman who teaches the 2nd grade and regards standing up as one of the evil things that young whippersnappers often do.
Indeed, the "code of conduct" expressly forbids "excessive standing" during the games. And good! Because frankly, I really get annoyed by people who stand at sporting events, so I'm glad the Chiefs are saying that excessive standing is prohibited.

Also, I agree that "foul, obscene" language is being banned. I mean, where is it written that people should have the freedom to speak as they please? What, do they thing they have some sort of right to free speech or something?

And, I applaud the chiefs for arming their workers with jack boots and billy clubs to make sure that fans aren't "failing to follow instructions of stadium personnel."

With these measures in place, I'm sure we as fans can look forward to an orderly, controlled, manageable, obedient season.


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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

YouTube Tuesday: strike two

With another looming strike on the horizon, the entertainment industry seems poised to shoot itself in the foot for the second year in a row.

Unfortunately for them, more and more people are learning how much they really don't need/want teevee programming.

Fortunately for us, some of those people are the artists who traditionally have created the content for stage and screen.

The latest luminary to eschew the Hollywood machine is Joss Whedon, creator of one of my favorite space westerns, Firefly. Whedon's latest project is a web-based short-form video miniseries called Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

The series is set to launch in the next month or so, and as this trailer shows, Whedon seems to be bringing some of the potentially striking SAG actors along for the ride.

This is going to be a lot of fun.

Teaser from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo.

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