Archive for 2008

Queen wasp in a bottle = new cat toy

Today we found a wasp on the kitchen ceiling. Seems odd for Oregon in January. I captured it with an empty juice bottle easily.
I originally thought it might be a paper wasp, because we recently had an open-comb wasp nest on the far side of the building. But this wasp was not slender and [...]

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Barack Obama, Bill Gates retires, habanero salsa

On the heels of Hillary Clinton’s huge comeback win in the New Hampshire primary over Barack Obama, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons reports that he is “leaning toward voting for the Clintons (and really, they’re a package deal)” for the following three reasons:

They’ve been in the office before and made all their mistakes the first [...]

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Funny videos, monster fish, technology

Today I have a bunch of links to funny videos (mostly from YouTube), some useful/interesting technology and software links, and a few other random things to mention.
Funny Videos
Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again. Modesto, CA residents turned out for the city’s annual Ninja Parade, where no ninjas were seen for the [...]

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Super Bowl Sunday, Super Tuesday, YahooSoft?

Somehow the New England Patriots were upset by the New York Giants 17-14 today in Super Bowl XLII. Turns out that Plaxico Burress wasn’t too far off with his 23-17 score prediction. I guess a 19-0 season was impossible.

I knew it was over for New England when, on the final Giants drive, on third down, [...]

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Fatal Farm, cats and dogs, Lost Highway

Below are some funny videos and interesting tidbits I’ve collected recently.
Ever visited Fatal Farm’s YouTube channel? You will find lots of classic television intros and theme songs corrupted with bizarre and twisted imagery. It’s worth checking out a few. Try DuckTales and Knight Rider.
Cats and dogs
Garfield has been one of the lamest and [...]

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The World Within a Sock, rickrolling, doomsday in 2012

Back from San Diego, there was a lot to catch up on from the past two weeks.
To aid in my procrastination, a bunch of my favorite Flash cartoon sites released new stuff this month. This includes David Firth posting four short episodes of The World Within a Sock.
The selection of cool desktop images [...]

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Happy Leap Year, Pop Minds, Will Ferrell

Happy Leap Year, everyone! Or perhaps that should be: Happy Birthday to all leaplings!
We observe the modern leap year because Earth orbits the sun every 365.242 days, which evidently isn’t an easy number to work out on calendars. Seems to me that the way we count time is a rather sloppy system that’s been grandfathered [...]

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Linus Pauling postage stamp, Max Headroom, Al Gore?

On Thursday, March 6, Oregon State University celebrated its most internationally recognized alumnus, Linus Pauling, as one of four American Scientists being honored on U.S. postage stamps this year. At noon in the Memorial Union Ballroom there was a First Day of Sale celebration. A special commemorative postmark was designed for the occasion [...]

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USO All-Stars and Chuck Norris in Iraq

I flipped through a friend’s April issue of Maxim magazine the other day and found that Scarlett Johansson has taken it upon herself to battle al-Qaeda!
Well, actually, it was more like she did a five-day United Service Organizations (USO) tour of Kuwait, but whatever. There wasn’t much to the article, really, but it did include [...]

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March Madness 2008 and webcomics

March Madness 2008 is now upon us. Today was Selection Sunday and the 65-team field has been set. There are so many NCAA Tournament bracket contests, so little time. Here are three: ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge, CBSSports.com Bracket Challenge, Yahoo! College Basketball Tournament Pick’em.
There are a lot of great webcomics out there. Let me [...]

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New Dell XPS M1330 laptop (and Eudora 8 beta)

Yesterday I received my new laptop, a Dell XPS M1330. It has been awhile since I’ve had a laptop, ever since the TFT display on my trusty Gateway Solo 9300 CX laptop (from 2000) turned red/pink and ultimately died. This new ultraportable Dell machine seems great. There aren’t many besides the Apple MacBook Air [...]

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WordPress 2.5 upgrade

Today spiral::notepad was upgraded to WordPress 2.5 (released yesterday). The basic design of my custom theme has stayed the same, but I took this opportunity to add some features and widgets I had wanted to implement in my theme for awhile.
WordPress 2.5 improvements include “multi-file uploading, one-click plugin upgrades, built-in galleries, customizable dashboard, salted [...]

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April Fools’ Day: Virgle, third-graders, Oregon

Hooray! We’re colonizing Mars. According to the latest April 1st humor from Google: “Announcing Project Virgle.” Virgle is a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Google. Visit the site: Virgle: The Adventure of Many Lifetimes. And there’s this handy time-bending feature from Gmail: Introducing Gmail Custom Time. Last year I listed a brief [...]

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The Soup Mines, elephant artists, Obama

Here’s a very Don Hertzfeldt-esque webcomic that I just found and enjoy: The Soup Mines!
Do you know about the elephant artists from Thailand? They are elephants who can paint representational forms (well, some seem to be abstract artists). Mostly they choose to paint flowers and trees. But a few elephants can apparently paint fairly [...]

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da Vinci Film Festival and Moro blood oranges

The ninth annual da Vinci Film Festival starts next Friday and runs through the weekend, April 18-20, 2008.
This weekend is the da Vinci Fast Film Project, in which participants write, shoot, and edit a film in 48 hours. The goal is to make a short of 10 minutes or less using the prop and [...]

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The Curse of Lono, Leonardo da Vinci, Tax Day

I’m currently reading Hunter S. Thompson’s illustrated hardback The Curse of Lono; somehow I missed this one before now. It’s Fear and Loathing for Hawai’i, which is appropriate because I’ll be vacationing in Hawai’i (O’ahu and the Big Island) in late summer. The book itself is enormous (15″ x 11.4″) and full of Ralph [...]

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Worst Earth Day weather ever?

What is the deal with the weather in Oregon? Still 45 degrees and rainy? Cold thunderstorms on Earth Day? C’mon, the rainy season is supposed to be all but over.
That recent 80-degree weekend was just a tease. It is getting absurdly late in April for consistently crappy days like [...]

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Microsoft-Yahoo wedding called off (plus ceiling cats)

Today Microsoft said that it was abandoning its blockbuster bid to acquire Yahoo after the two companies could not agree on a price: “Microsoft Withdraws Its Bid for Yahoo.” Probably for the best.
The news reminded me of this video: Microsoft designs the iPod package. Awesome.
Every company has its own strengths, right? Remember the epic [...]

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Map of Strange, interactive satellite maps, Sarcasma

Here’s a well-worn concept for the day: Sports as a metaphor for life. That’s part of what makes following sporting events so compelling. I enjoyed this ESPN video: SportsCenter Flashback: Chris Paul Pays Tribute To His Grandfather. CP3 scored exactly 61 points, as planned, during a game in high school. In related news, the [...]

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Tower defense games, Oregon tennis tournaments

This is a quick two-part post. If you are one to become addicted to games, I’d suggest not reading the first part. The second part is for summer Willamette Valley tennis tournament enthusiasts only.
Tower defense games
Last year a couple of my friends lost weeks of their lives trying to complete Xeno Tactic, a flawless [...]

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Cats and ducklings: Part one

Happy Mother’s Day!
I was going to hold off posting about all of our recent cat and duckling experiences for a bit longer, but I’ve been inspired by Google’s avian-themed logo doodle for Mother’s Day. It looks like they’ve got a white pekin duck mothering two mallard ducklings. Hooray for adoptive parents. Unless that’s a [...]

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Cats and ducklings: Part two

This is a continuation of Cats and ducklings: Part one.
Since our cat Smokey died on Sunday, April 6 and was cremated on Thursday, April 10, these became two significant dates in our search of a new companion for lonely Eli. Reincarnation is a comforting idea, especially for grieving mothers. Soon enough, a litter of kittens [...]

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Snow in the Quad, flags for Iraq, Fusion Man

Today was the third annual Snow in the Quad rail jam event on the Oregon State University campus. Read an article on last year’s Snow in the Quad in The Daily Barometer. Here’s a YouTube video and some Flickr photos by Blair Cook from last year’s Snow in the Quad. And here are OSU [...]

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Oregon primary election and random links

Oregon’s vote in the primary elections almost mattered this year! Barack Obama won easily, as expected. The Oregon primary election, held yesterday, was apparently the “most exciting Oregon primary in 40 years.” With the party nominations usually wrapped up well in advance of May, it’s not often that Oregon gets to be marginally relevant [...]

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WebVisions 2008 in review: Part one

On Thursday and Friday, May 22-23, I am attending the WebVisions 2008 conference at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. (Also see my review from WebVisions 2007. I didn’t compose a write-up when I attended in 2005 and 2006.)
Below is a quick (read: marginally coherent) overview of all five sessions I attended on [...]

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WebVisions 2008 in review: Part two

This is a continuation of WebVisions 2008 in review: Part one.
On Thursday and Friday, May 22-23, I attended the WebVisions 2008 conference at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Below is a quick overview (or: potentially understandable scrawling connected by lots of ellipses) of all five sessions I attended on Friday, with links. Many [...]

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Windows 7, Dell XPS M1330 with XP, fun movies

If you don’t care about Windows operating systems, skip to the bottom of this post for the fun movie stuff.
For the rest of you poor souls: The unveiling of Microsoft Windows 7 last night at the D6 Conference reminded me that I never shared my process for reformatting my Dell XPS M1330 laptop from [...]

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Flavor tripping with miracle fruit (and Snuff)

Interested in flavor tripping? Try the miracle fruit. It’s a cranberry-sized West African berry (Synsepalum dulcificum) that numbs your sour and bitter tastebuds for a couple of hours after eating it, making certain foods taste weirdly sweet. Flavor-tripping parties are being held in New York City and San Francisco. The New York Times reports [...]

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Miniature disasters and the Democratic nomination

Today this blog turned six years old. I’ll take a cake with marzipan icing, please (but hold the marzipan babies). Mmm . . . sugar-almond paste.
Yesterday was a weird day of accidents in Corvallis. Driving to work in the morning, I was forced to stop because the westbound lanes of Philomath Boulevard had [...]

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Friday the 13th: Radiohead remix and cool games

Hey, I was actually able to hold out for nine days before posting again. Below are some highlights I’ve been compiling for a couple of weeks.
Music
The remix of Radiohead’s “Nude” by James Houston using a bunch of old computer hardware is awesome. Don’t get discouraged by the extended intro. A Sinclair ZX Spectrum performs [...]

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Lily the polydactyl kitten

We brought home our new polydactyl (six-toed) kitten, named Lily, from Portland three weeks ago, on May 25. Lily has 23 claws: 13 in the front (on 12 full toes) and 10 in the back (on 10 toes). Her left front paw has an extra tiny claw/mini-toe in between two toes. And the [...]

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Ice on Mars, Boston center of sports world

NASA’s trench-digging Phoenix lander revealed white ice beneath the surface soil of Mars a couple of days ago. Scientists say they are sure it is frozen water and not salt. Photos have been sent back from the Phoenix lander, which is situated atop Mars’s northern polar plain. Read more: “Lander Finds Ice on Mars, [...]

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Purple potatoes, Sparks, Martini Ranch music video

This week a guy I know was walking around with a bowl of purple potatoes for lunch. I don’t mean purple-skinned potatoes, but the radioactive-looking purple-all-the-way-through kind. The only question is whether he was eating a normal, terrestrial species of potato/yam (Peruvian or similar) or perhaps somehow got hold of a starchy product of [...]

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Giving in to Doritos: The Quest

Well, the Frito-Lay marketing ploy worked for a second straight summer. Today was grocery-shopping day. I hadn’t bought a bag of Doritos in over a year, not since the X-13D Flavor Experiment . . . which of course turned out to be the oddly compelling but ultimately quite gross Cheeseburger flavor. Now, today, I couldn’t [...]

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Tennis shoes, aliens and Wimbledon on Independence Day

The Oregon State University Nutrition and Exercise Sciences office is collecting old shoes this month to benefit kids in the local area through the Congressional Reuse-A-Shoe Drive. The goal of the drive is to collect as many worn-out athletic shoes as possible, which will then be recycled and turned into donated sports and play surfaces [...]

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Random technology, sports and humor

I’ve been so busy working, playing tennis tournaments and looking into houses to buy that I’ve forgotten to post. Anyway, here’s a quick list of things I’ve found interesting or funny over the past two weeks.
If you’re in the IT industry, this is awesome: The Website is Down. Also, here are a couple [...]

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Christmas in July and lost bungee cords

I have two weird and useless anecdotes to share. One is about the United States Postal Service’s lock box and one concerns finding lost bungees on U.S. highways.
Christmas presents in July
The first anecdote is how the U.S. Postal Service just delivered a couple of packages containing Christmas presents to us – like, last week [...]

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The Dark Knight, Flash programming, YouTube

Last weekend we went to see The Dark Knight at the Dallas Motor Vu Drive-in. It was a double feature that started with Journey to the Center of the Earth. We were there from about 8:30 PM to 2:30 AM. There aren’t a lot of drive-in theaters around anymore. It’s fun to go to [...]

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The Prisoner, retro ball chair, web and uniform designs

Ever seen The Prisoner TV series? A friend recommended it, so I’ve started watching the episodes. I think some YouTube clip called it the “most discussed and controversial cult TV series ever made.” Well, perhaps not, but it is certainly interesting. The set designs are very 1960s, with lava lamps everywhere and mod furniture [...]

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08.08.08 is coming (and Summer Olympics)

Soon it will be Friday, August 8, 2008, or 08.08.08. I guess everyone will be getting married and witnessing the manifestation of biblical prophecies and generally having good luck on this day, yes?
On Friday, the 2008 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony will be held at the Beijing National Stadium. It is scheduled to begin at [...]

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Corporate Graphic Design Guide

This morning I want to share one of the greatest GraphJam flow charts ever, especially if you’re a (cynical) graphic designer or commercial artist.

See, it’s not just your soul that’s being crushed. It’s everyone’s! The joys of design by committee are limitless. One early GraphJam comment says: “And if the committee fails to destroy the [...]

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Invisibility cloak, 400 freestyle relay, Homestar Ruiner

Invisibility cloaks are becoming reality, or at least progress is still being made. Scientists have created new metamaterials that can bend light the wrong way. CNN reports: “Researchers have demonstrated for the first time they were able to cloak three-dimensional objects using artificially engineered materials that redirect light around the objects.” Here are two [...]

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WordPress 2.6.1 upgrade (and Paul McCarthy)

Today spiral::notepad was upgraded to WordPress 2.6.1 (released yesterday). Everything basically looks the same, but now I’m current again with bug fixes, security patches and enhancements. Except I had to disable post revision in Wordpress 2.6 (and disable/delay autosave), because all of that version tracking-related database clutter/bloat drives me crazy. Of course I still haven’t [...]

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Free energy, HHO gas fuel and Michael Phelps

Screw hybrid cars and biofuels! I’m going to learn how to run my vehicle entirely on fuel that the vehicle itself creates! I’m making a pollution-free, perpetual motion machine! I’m defying the laws of physics! I can’t stop using exclamation points! Whee!
Have you seen online ads that say: Tired of high gas prices? Want [...]

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Four-eared cat, China’s Olympic facade, tainted drugs

Yoda the four-eared cat is an Internet sensation. Everyone wants to see the little horned devil. I think I like him better than that poor six-legged deer. Though I like Lily, our 25-clawed demon cat best.
This article was amusing, if you care about the grand, elaborate façade China has put up for the Olympics: [...]

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Off to Hawai’i

Thursday morning at dark o’clock, I’ll be on my way to the PDX airport. We’re headed halfway to China, to Hawai’i specifically, for two weeks on a much-needed adventure. We’ll be visiting O’ahu and Big Island. I even bought a waterproof/underwater camera housing for the occasion. See you in September (not applicable in the event [...]

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Smartphones (Android, G1, Shadow II) and Google Chrome

Now that I’ve been back from vacation for a few days, it’s time for a lengthy tech post.
I will most likely get a new cell phone (and two-year plan) sometime between now and the end of October, probably through T-Mobile because their monthly plans are the least expensive. But what phone to choose? There [...]

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Financial services collapse, SNL premiere, salad dressing

What a week (so far) in the financial services industry! We’ve had Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, Merrill Lynch’s sale, AIG’s $85 billion bailout by the Federal Reserve, the SEC’s new rules against naked short-selling (thus reining in that particular criminal playground), and other fantastic economic disasters.
Question: Are corporate bailouts the new rate cuts? Can this [...]

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Music, YouTube memes, cell phone science

Jenny Lewis has a new album out called Acid Tongue. Okkervil River and UNKLE released albums this month too. I’ve been enjoying Beck’s Modern Guilt, featuring Cat Power. Johnny Cash died five years ago last week.
The current Nine Inch Nails tour performances are apparently awesome, with a sophisticated trio of transparent “stealth” screens and real-time [...]

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Beavers upset USC, first presidential debate, Sarah Palin

On Thursday, the Oregon State Beavers held on to upset the No. 1 USC Trojans and damage their national title hopes for the second time in three years. This year the score was 27-21. Since 2006, the Trojans have posted a paltry 2-3 record against teams from Oregon while running up a 22-2 record against [...]

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Wall Street failure, rainbow pantsuits, Nintendo

I don’t really have a coherent theme for the dump of random content below, except it all amuses me. I’ll start by saying there’s really no better media venue to consume the latest political “news” than through The Daily Show, and the opening skits of Saturday Night Live. They’ve both been especially good lately.
This [...]

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Mail Goggles and late night talk show hosts

I have a couple of amusing email-related links to share. If you have a problem with late-night drunk emailing, Google has a solution for you: “Mail Goggles: A breathalyzer test for your Gmail.” Similarly, do you know people who overuse smilies and exclamation points in emails? Do they happen to worship cats? Are you aware [...]

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Autumn cats: Becoming crazy cat people? (Part one)

As the chill of the autumn rainy season descends upon us, we have been moving from an apartment into our house for the past couple of weeks. This means leaving the dwelling that gave us Eli and Repete and the “outside” cats we feed that live under our building. Since we now have a [...]

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Autumn cats: Conehead cat and Smokey (Part two)

This is a continuation of Autumn cats: Part one.
This autumn, in addition to transporting furniture and boxes of crap we’ve accumulated into our new house, we’re contemplating moving two or three stray cats with us. These planned acts of kindness clearly put us on the road to becoming crazy cat people. Read part one [...]

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Bipolar stock market, pandemic flu, Alaska

Are you ready for three sarcastic statements, each with a supporting chart or graph?
All right, hold on. Let me channel my inner Comical Ali (AKA Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, former Information Minister of Iraq). Some called him Baghdad Bob. Ready?
Here we go:
1. The stock market is not exhibiting symptoms of bipolar disorder.
That’s right. A violent [...]

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MLB 2008 payrolls, Repo! and randomness

Considering the outcome of this year’s Major League Baseball playoffs, it’s time to mention MLB payrolls. Of the 30 franchises, the three teams with the highest payrolls (New York Yankees, New York Mets and Detroit Tigers) did not make the playoffs. In fact, the Yankees actually eclipsed $200 million this year. What a waste.
The [...]

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T-Mobile Shadow’s low volume (and hardy kiwis)

So, let’s say you have your new Windows Mobile 6 smartphone, the T-Mobile Shadow, and everything is almost great. The only problem with the Shadow (and it’s a big problem) is that in-call volume is absurdly low, even with the volume control maxed out. What do you do?
(By the way, following my smartphones post [...]

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Halloween election and financial conspiracy theory

Well, Halloween officially ended a few minutes ago. So, Happy Belated All Hallows’ Eve.
With the November election imminent, I hope everyone has either voted or will be voting by Tuesday (well, unless you are a moron). If you’re an Oregon resident, hopefully you voted against all five measures put on the ballot (again) by [...]

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Mr. President = Barack Obama

Enough of the votes are in to call the United States presidential election of 2008. I don’t know if it qualifies as a landslide, but Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States. He has earned 338 of 538 electoral college votes so far.

Watch GOP candidate John McCain graciously concede the [...]

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Election buzzwords: Goodbye and good riddance

Looking at the bright side of the past eight years, if either Gore or Kerry had been named King of America, then the chance of the U.S. electing someone as dynamic and sophisticated as Barack Obama in 2008 – from either party – would have been greatly diminished. And we’d still be in a [...]

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Seven years in Oregon (and SecondLight, air cars)

I’ve lived in Oregon for seven years now. So, how true is the myth that all atoms in the human body get turned over, or regenerated, every seven years? Has my body become 100% Oregonian? Well, the seven-year-regeneration idea may actually be true of some cell types, on average, but probably not all. According to [...]

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Thanksgiving with football, Coraline, World of Goo

This month, my “Lazy man’s Thanksgiving dinner for two” post from last November has, rather appropriately, become one of this blog’s most popular.
With wins this weekend, both the Oregon State Beavers (8-3) and the Penn State Nittany Lions (11-1) stayed on track for a rematch in the Rose Bowl.
OK, now I have some random [...]

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10 films to watch in 2009

Since I already mentioned Coraline in my last post, here are 10 more movies I am looking forward to seeing in 2009, in no particular order.
Where the Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze presents an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story, one of my very favorite books from childhood. Max, a disobedient little boy sent [...]

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Crazy cat people: Transformation complete?

It is time to continue the story of our apparent transformation into crazy cat people. I left off a couple of months ago with my two “Autumn cats” posts.
When we moved out of our apartment in October, we did in fact bring two outside/stray cats (Daisy and The King) with us to our new house, [...]

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Shapeshifting skyscraper, post-apocalyptic movies, logos

First, this is cool: “A Shapeshifting Skyscraper in Miami’s Skyline?” (In related news, now you can reserve an apartment in the first rotating skyscraper in Dubai, thanks to Italian architect David Fisher.)
Second, Boris the cat has his own music video.
Third, let’s make some subtitles for this post.
Movies
In addition to my “10 films to watch [...]

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8-Bit Jesus, recycling, burritos, Patton Oswalt

Get into the holiday spirit by downloading this free mp3 album of Christmas music from Doctor Octoroc: 8-Bit Jesus: New Christmas Chip-tune Album. Relive 1980s Nintendo nostalgia to the beats of your favorite holiday songs! So far there are nine different chip-tune versions of classic Christmas songs done in the style of different NES [...]

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Winter wonderland in Corvallis

Oh no, Corvallis has snow. A paralyzing one to two inches of snow. Since inclement winter weather is such an uncommon occurrence, the town is always unprepared. All Corvallis schools are closed, except for Oregon State University, naturally. OSU campus looks post-apocalyptic because fall term final exams were last week, which means students and [...]

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Bryan Fuller, Heroes and recut movie trailers

A few weeks ago, my friend Warren was wondering why Heroes suddenly got back on track near the end of season three. Why was it starting to become good again? The apparent answer is that writer/producer Bryan Fuller has returned to the show. Here’s a quote from Ain’t It Cool News from December 4:
It looks [...]

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BCS National Championship in 3D (and the future)

Guess what? For the first time in the history of ever, the BCS National Championship is available to watch in Live 3D at a Cinedigm Digital Cinema theater near you. Apparently the closest Cinedigm theater to me is in Gig Harbor, WA (just northwest of Tacoma). There are no Cinedigm theaters in Oregon. I [...]

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RIAA, MPAA and the Orphan Works legislation

I am going to refrain from ranting about the RIAA, MPAA and Orphan Works legislation at the moment, but I would like to share a collection of recent articles about digital media sharing, piracy, copyrights, etc. A bunch of the articles are from Wired.
RIAA and Internet Service Provider (ISP) filtering

No ISP Filtering Under New [...]

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Happy Holidays: Windows XP optimization utilities

Is your PC too slow these days? Is it locking up or doing other weird things? Before you begin furiously uninstalling everything and buying new hardware, you may want to try some of these Windows XP software solutions.
First, let’s acknowledge poor Windows Vista
The first step to optimizing Windows XP to run most efficiently is [...]

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Benjamin Button, Watchmen, Jaydiohead, Mega64

I saw David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the theater on Sunday. The film was fantastic, but the crass-commercialism bludgeoning by Carmike made me not want to see another movie in their theaters anytime soon. The special effects for the aging of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, both forward and backward, [...]

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