6 September 2006
Is this thing on?

The most maddening thing, of course, is that during the Quiet Times, my traffic went up about twelve percent. Obviously I should post less.

So why start again? Well, for one thing, the old database, with seven thousand and odd items, was getting cranky. For another, it's not like anything is missing: all the old posts are still archived and are available at their original URLs. And the last time I ran an export of said database, it clipped off at the 18-MB point for some reason, meaning that if I reimported it, I'd have to port over a couple months' worth of entries anyway, and I've already put enough work into this thing.

However, my string of consecutive days with posts remains intact. (It's at 2,266, if anyone cares, and why should you?)

Stuff from the old templates will be gradually reintroduced. Right now, I just want to get moving again.

My thanks to Liz Lubowitz, at whose designs I sneaked a peek, and to Melody, who held down the fort in my enforced absence.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled bloggage.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 PM)
Just a reminder

A couple weeks' worth of old posts in the archives still have comment windows, because I haven't yet gone in to edit them out; however, the windows don't work anymore, so if you're getting glared at by MT if you try, that's why.

Eventually I'll get around to cleaning that stuff up and putting up a page of archive links. (Update: You can now access all the old archives, by category or by month, here.)

In fact, I was seriously thinking of chunking this look entirely and going to a new one, but I figured I had enough people peeved at me already.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:58 PM)
7 September 2006
A perspective on recent site events

I posted this at, um, a dating site:

"I just lost the database with 7200 blog posts."

Oh, that's bad.

"No, that's good. All the original posts are archived, and the site will run much more quickly now without all that dead weight."

Oh, that's good.

"No, that's bad. It plays hell with the continuity, especially if you have a regular audience."

Oh, that's bad.

"No, that's good. At least they can't take me for granted."

[this could go on for hours]

It is with great relief that I announce that it did not.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:09 AM)
Feed me, see more

I think I have the RSS thingamajig working now. The URL has changed, however: it's now at http://www.dustbury.com/index.xml.

Is there any interest in an Atom feed? If so, I'll see if I can work one up.

(Title stolen from the Oklahoma Gazette.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:56 PM)
10 September 2006
Extremely minor milestones

Well, we've gotten the actual content to the point where it's just as long as the sidebar (depending on screen width), for the benefit of those of you who just love to scroll.

Also, the 500th Vent went up this weekend. Seriously, you have to wonder about anyone who puts five hundred anything on the Web. (We will not mention the thousands of previous blog posts here, because — well, we just won't.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:11 PM)
11 September 2006
On 9/11

I had notes and outlines and text fragments and cross-references and all manner of stuff ready to go into a full-blown screed here, but to what purpose? This isn't a day to point fingers: this is a day to bow heads.

So I pray, and hope you will do the same, in memory of those who were taken away five years ago.

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.

               — Delmore Schwartz

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:29 AM)
17 September 2006
In search of prime locations

One of the factors that drove Sean Gleeson to create the "One Gleeson Plaza" address extension (which I mentioned here) was, well, factors, and I mean that literally:

Just a numbered house on a numbered street. Nothing noteworthy about the number 3421. (Being divisible by 11, itís not even prime.)

Do any of you have a house number (or post-office box number) that is a prime? The house I reported on yesterday does; I don't, though there are two on my block.

And if you don't feel like doing the math, here's a list of the first thousand primes, from 2 to 7919.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:30 AM)
20 September 2006
The Hag in the slammer

A brief rundown of Merle Haggard's involuntary commitments:

1946-1951: various stints in juvenile hall
1952: Fred C. Nelles School for Boys, Whittier, CA (ran away)
1952-1953: Preston School of Industry, Ione, CA (released, sent back after an assault charge)
1957-1960: San Quentin (sentenced to 15 years for robbery, subsequently paroled)

Haggard was pardoned in 1972 by then-Governor Ronald Reagan.

(Love ya, Diane.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:10 AM)
25 September 2006
The 720-degree eye roll

And let me tell you, it's tricky to get both 360s synchronized.

I mean, really. I look like Sir Thomas Beecham contemplating a Spın̈al Tap performance.

(Snitch, I believe this was something you were looking for.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:08 AM)
26 September 2006
A familiar sort of place

Erica looks back at the last few years, and has good reasons to look forward:

At the moment I'm lamenting the fact that I can't seem to get everything going right all at once. Things are not where I'd like them to be socially, but overall things are as much in order as they have been otherwise. For the first time ever (excluding my sophomore year single dorm room), I have my own place. Financially things could be much better, but I'm far less stressed about it than I have been in years. That's huge. For once, I feel secure.

Oddly, I could write almost exactly that same paragraph. I have lived alone for the last quarter-century or so, but I never thought of myself as having "my own place" until I had my name on the deed. Outgo is just as fast as income, which is not comforting, but it's not keeping me up late at night either. And while I have about as much social life as I can handle, which is not much, I remind you that I have lived alone for the last quarter-century or so, which has one obvious drawback. (As Erica says: "It's that whole thing about feeling like I don't have enough to offer until I get my own stuff in order.")

And there's probably one other difference between us. If she got "everything going right at once," she'd likely be delighted. Were I to do so, I'd likely be suspicious.

Still, having a lot of things actually in order is a cause for celebration, or at least for some level of contentment; when things are good, reminding yourself that they're not yet perfect is an effective way to bring yourself down. And frankly, I have enough of those already. Let's enjoy the security we have, however tentative it may seem.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:02 AM)
4 October 2006
Taking that pink ribbon seriously

Dr. Jan signed off this post as "a 3.5 year breast cancer survivor."

In a not-necessarily-unrelated story, this is my fourth year as a donor to the Boobie-Thon. One of this year's photos reads: "3 year survivor / 34 years old." Cancer doesn't check your ID to see if you're old enough.

And just in case the presence of survivors isn't quite enough of an incentive for you, here's a more-frivolous pitch I made back in Ought-Four:

[I]n return for your donation, you're entitled to a peek at the racks of some real women (and some actual guys), as distinguished from the artificially-enhanced stuff dispensed by Big Media. A pretty nice quid for your quo, I'd say.

Besides, it's October already. The year's running out and you need one more tax deduction, right? Thought so.

Last year's donations totaled over $9000. Can they make five figures in their fifth year?

You know where to click.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:22 AM)
8 October 2006
A marked absence of safety features

Since the subject is bound to come up somewhere, here's the Official Personal Watercraft of the American Revolution. (Portrayal by professionals. Do not try this at home.)

I am advised that Lydia, the Tattooed Lady bore its insignia, or something.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:35 AM)
11 October 2006
Continuing tweakage

Inasmuch as Technorati is giving me the Claude Rains treatment of late, I've replaced their search box with one of Google's — it's in the "Usage notes" area on the frontpage sidebar — which should produce marginally more reliable results.

Actually, I'm happy with anything that produces results at all these days; just about every day, there's a half-hour (more or less) period when this site is all but inaccessible. If it happened at the same time every day, it might be a bit more understandable, but no. I assume that it's related to lingering Dreamhost issues that are being gradually addressed. On the upside, response time has improved markedly in the past sixty days, though at least some of that is due to reducing the size of my database by 95 percent, an idea for which I claim no credit.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
14 October 2006
The case for spelling

There were a couple of grumbles (offsite) this week from commenters who thought they were being thrown back into the moderation queue, vaguely reminiscent of "What happened to my access?" complaints during the BBS era. As always, the answer is simple: when you're set up in the auto-approval gizmo, it looks for your email address thereafter, and if it recognizes you, you're in. (Email addresses are not actually posted with the comment.) If you've dyslexicated a couple of characters, or if you've moved your "nospam" insert, or if you've used some other email address altogether, the machine doesn't know you from kimthenukegod@dprk.org, and the comment goes into the box for moderation.

Possibly apropos of this, Lynn reported that someone had come to her site via a search for a video on "your tub". "So much more clever than that more famous video site," she said, and just for the heck of it, I went out to yourtub.com and found, of all things, a splog with a handful of video links. These guys are hoping to make money from people's inability to spell and/or type — all the more reason to take a little extra care and make sure they don't get it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:05 AM)
Fonted, dead or alive

Windows XP reports that my desktop box contains 706 fonts, a figure which is somewhat misleading, inasmuch as there are six variations on, say, Goudy Old Style, plus a Goudy Stout, so-called presumably because "Goudy Absurdly Extra Freaking Bold" would have taken up too much valuable screen area in Control Panel, and that counts for seven right there.

However many fonts I may actually have, I must admit here that I have all of the seven worst fonts known to man. I need not tell you which is the worst — everybody already knows — but some of the snarky commentary is worth quoting:

Kristen ITC fans are usually elementary school teachers, childcare professionals, and other people with kid-centric jobs. These people love to employ quotes like, "We don't stop playing because we grow old — we grow old because we stop playing," and they really like to use a font that serves as a constant reminder that THEY HAVE NOT STOPPED PLAYING, DAMMIT! DON'T YOU SEE HOW PLAYFUL THESE LETTERS LOOK? YOU ARE TALKING TO SOMEONE WHO IS YOUNG INSIDE!

Don't ask me why, but Viner Hand seems to have become the go-to font for angsty pre-teens and would-be goths. Well, I hate to be the one to break it to the Linkin Park fan contingent, but calligraphy is to angst what scones are to rave parties.

For those who asked: the logo font around here is in no danger of becoming criminally overused, since at small sizes it's darn near unreadable and at large sizes it eats up all your screen space.

(Via Swirlspice.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:00 PM)
16 October 2006
Choose your experts carefully

Inasmuch as I am unfamiliar with the inner workings of Nissan's motor vehicles — more precisely, more unfamiliar with them than I was with the Mazdas I'd driven for the preceding eight years — I have referred any issues I have had with Gwendolyn (okay, one) to the local Infiniti dealership, which presumably knows its way around these byzantine devices.

Similarly, from now on, any issues I have with Technorati will be taken to Sean Gleeson, who apparently has Dave Sifry's number. (No, not his phone number. Get real.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:48 AM)
17 October 2006
In case it matters

This man was not named after me.

Or, for that matter, I after him. It's just a sweet family story intended to inspire greatness.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:52 PM)
18 October 2006
We are large, we contain multitudes

As I've noted before, I have a fairly common name. Based on its frequency, I guesstimated there might be as many as 8000 of us; I was apparently just a tad high.


HowManyOfMe.com
LogoThere are:
4,288
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

(Via Swirlspice. As I could have told you, she's unique.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:01 AM)
19 October 2006
19th nervous breakdown

Reprinted from three years ago:

On 19 October 2000, I bought a car.

It appears, as of 19 October 2003, that I've bought a house.

God only knows what's going to happen on 19 October 2006. And so far, He isn't saying.

At the moment, I have a truly wretched cold; unless it's actually going to kill me, which I rather doubt, it appears I can turn off the Anticipation module.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:58 AM)
21 October 2006
Because all the cool kids are doing it

I am neither cool nor kid, but what the hell:

http://www.myspace.com/dustbury

If nothing else, this proves (as though proof were needed) that I have no shame.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:41 PM)
26 October 2006
Calling all Pod People

David Berlind has found an iPod, and would like to return it to its owner:

The owner of this iPod has been taking very good care of it by keeping it in a case. My guesses are that the owner lives in the New England area and flew on United Airlines on or about October 9th or 10th. The reason I haven't posted this notice until today is that I had to wait to get a hold of a charger to charge it up in hopes of finding some clue as to who the owner is. Sadly, the owner did not elect to have any contact information engraved on the back of the device. Also, I don't know much about iPods, but it seems as though there should be an easy way to load it with the owner's contact information and have it "boot" to that screen. I searched high and low through the device and about the only clue I could find was the text "De Monstrow."

If this sounds like your machine gone astray, write to david.berlind at cnet.com. Apparently Apple Customer Care hasn't been a whole lot of help — then again, how much private information would you want Apple to be giving out, anyway?

(Via Michael Katsimbris.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:16 AM)
28 October 2006
Slices of life

The premise, from Robert B. Parker:

You know those newspaper columns where the guy has a deadline, and nothing to say, so he does a "Thoughts While Shaving" Column.

This caught the eye of Mary Stella:

Guys, when you're standing in the bathroom wearing a towel around your waist and foamy cream on your jaw and cheeks, do you really think random thoughts worth mentioning to anyone else?

Because:

The possibility fascinates me, probably because, when I'm in the shower shaving my legs, my deepest thought is, "If I wasn't near-sighted, I could see what I'm doing". This is followed immediately by, "Don't cut yourself".

Even when I'm out of the shower and can put in my contacts or wear my glasses, there's something about the lighting that isn't quite good enough. I end up checking my thoroughness by feel. Unfortunately, I often later find that I wasn't all that thorough. Usually when I'm already at work, sitting outside in full daylight at lunch and look down to find that blatantly unshaven patch.

Deep thoughts while shaving must be a guy thing.

Well, not this guy; my major goal is, indeed, Not Cutting Myself, and yes, I use one of the razors that reputedly make it difficult to do so, and yes, I use some aerosol emollient which could dissolve the weld on the muffler of a '67 Buick, which should provide as much protection as I could possibly need, but having had some unpleasant experiences thirty-some-odd years ago — I managed to draw blood with an electric, which is a trick — I stand there under the lights and watch every stroke as carefully as these not-especially-good eyes permit.

And no towel: I go from sink to shower, not the other way around. One of the mysteries of life, I suppose.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:43 AM)
The truest dillhole of all

Once in a while I pick up a search-engine query asking the meaning of "dillhole".

Now I know. I was unloading groceries at the checkout stand, and a jar of pickles (dill chips for burgers, specifically) fractured into just enough pieces (two) to cause a hemorrhage of green all over the place. I picked up the jar, inverted it — the break was along the bottom ridge — pointed to the break, and asked, "Now is this a dillhole or what?"

I suppose you had to be there. (Actually, they didn't think it was all that funny either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:27 PM)
29 October 2006
Time spent changing time

VCR: 0. (It's automatic.)
PCs: 0. (Ditto. Expect all these to fail next year when the DST schedule changes.)
Garage clock: 5 seconds.
Cell-phone clock: 6 seconds.
Living-room clock: 7 seconds.
Range-top clock: 8 seconds.
Alarm clock: 14 seconds.
Microwave-oven clock: 17 seconds.
Wrist watch: 26 seconds.
Automobile clock: 5 minutes, 45 seconds. (That's one seriously-stiff adjustment knob.)

Still unchanged: answering machine, fax machine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:58 AM)
31 October 2006
Minor policy change

One of the advantages of MT 3.2 and above — I run 3.21 here — is the superior collection of spam tools: not one actual spam has gotten onto the site (though plenty have piled up in the Junk folders) since the database change in September.

In response to this, I have decided to keep comments and TrackBacks open for a minimum of thirty days, effective immediately. (The previous standard was one to two weeks.) I've closed off September items today; I expect to close the October entries around the 30th of November.

I don't expect this should cause any issues for anyone, but if it's a problem for you, let me know.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:02 AM)
2 November 2006
Resisting boilerplate

Susan B., this past Sunday:

This evening, somebody (calling himself "Enlightenment", natch) posted a long screed in the comments to the previous post that hit on every single 9/11 "truther" talking point imaginable. It was in one long chunk of text, rather than being split up into paragraphs, which just added to the craziness.

Let me reiterate.... this crap is not allowed on my blog. The main reason is it's disrespectful of everyone who died in the 9/11 attacks and their families. The other reason is that it's stupid, ridiculous nonsense. Anyone who posts this crap in my comments will be banned and will have their comment removed.

The individual in question arrived here today with the same screed. I read it over, was planning to approve it, then remembered where I heard the name.

I read it again. It's medium-grade moonbattery, but that's not quite enough, in my view, to warrant junking the comment. I've approved worse. (I daresay I've written worse.)

Then I pulled a phrase out of the middle of it and sent it to Google, and discovered at least four places where the entire screed has already been enshrined, indicating that it's hardly needed here; it's a traveling text dump, nothing more.

So I've decided on this incredibly sub-Solomonic compromise: I won't post it here, but I'll put up a link to a place where it's already up, and you can read it for yourself if you so desire.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:17 PM)
4 November 2006
I'm not sure this qualifies as a nightmare

It does, however, meet the part of the definition that calls for a dream that makes you sit up and take notice, so I'll mention it here.

I'm on the periphery of a popular local eatery/takeout joint when I pick up on the crowd buzz, and what I'm picking up is implausible in the extreme: they've set up separate entrances marked "Straight" and "Gay." Shades of the Southern South, I'm thinking, and what the hell for?

On an impulse, I went in through the "Gay" entrance and noticed that no one was checking credentials, assuming such a thing were possible. I walked over to the "Straight" entrance: nobody watching that door either.

And the crowd seemed about twice as big as usual, so obviously the artificial constraints, or whatever they were, weren't discouraging customers.

I'm still puzzling over what, if anything, I am to make of this brief tale, except to note that people of any description have little use for attempts to pigeonhole them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:59 AM)
11 November 2006
One among many

I was standing on a mountaintop at the Edge of Nowhere, or so it seemed, staring into the face of the enemy, and I knew he was staring back.

Not that anything scary was about to happen. There was a rather large body of water between us, and even on the clearest of days I couldn't see him and he couldn't see me. Still, I knew he was there, and I assumed he knew I was there, and a few dozen other guys were making a list and checking it twice and delivering it to the commanding officer. They were doing their job, and I was doing mine.

And a few months later, that particular job came to an end; I left this post, a little older, maybe a little wiser, an unexpected medal added to my uniform, and after a few days of R&R — well, maybe some R, but not a whole lot of R, if you know what I mean — I reported back Stateside and was assigned to the Reserves for three more years.

This was before "Be all that you can be," and I've never been sure I was all that I could have been. But we had a mission, and I was part of it, and I'd like to think that I had something to do with the fact that the enemy no longer exists.

That enemy, anyway.

On this day of remembrance, there are millions more with their own stories to tell. You've already heard mine.

(Originally posted 11/11/2004.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:53 AM)
14 November 2006
We thrive on serendipity

So the Cute Cartoon Reptile issued the new auto insurance bill, and despite a small increase in coverage, the premium has dropped by 16 percent.

I'm just as surprised as you are. I can only conclude that their opinion of my driving is at least as high as my opinion of my driving.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:05 PM)
17 November 2006
The year of living dangerously

Yes, I did bid on a PS3 on eBay today.

Rationalization: no way on God's green earth it will go for this price, and it will at least annoy the other bidders.

Outcome: Auction cancelled by eBay due to "violating one or more of our listing guidelines."

Original impetus:

"What kind of idiot bids that kind of money for a videogame system, fercryingoutloud?"

"Watch this."

Subsequent Fark headline: "Random Assclown bids $15,000 on every eBay PS3 auction."

Wasn't me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:35 PM)
23 November 2006
Pre-tryptophan open thread

I trust we all have something for which to be thankful; I am thankful that my list of such things seems to be a bit longer than it used to be.

Feel free to mention your own items in Comments.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:09 AM)
Puget? I've never even seen it

It's been a while since I posted a dream up here, and perhaps that's just as well; rather a lot of my dreams are distinctly uncomfortable to endure, and most of them don't have the sort of entertaining narrative I'd like to pretend I'm capable of creating.

I have noticed, though, that the better ones seem to come after I've gotten up, shrugged, and gone back to bed, so if there's an actual pattern — but never mind; these things never work if you try to force them.

So I'm bicycling through Seattle. Since I've never actually been to Seattle, I have no idea where I'm going, let alone why I'm there in the first place, but two things strike me early on: this is a spectacularly gorgeous place — I'm assuming that the dramatic shadows overhead and the prodigious amounts of greenery actually exist in some parts of town — and while I get rained on for ten or twenty minutes, I don't seem to get really wet.

My most obvious connection to Seattle, of course, is the fact that guys who live in Oklahoma City now own the Sonics and the Storm. Somewhere by the side of the road, I find what looks like a periscope, sticking two or three feet out of the ground, with a Sonics logo on it. Up close, the lens turns out to be a very shiny bolt; on an impulse, I loosen it a couple of turns. Nothing happens and I ride on; a few minutes later I decide that this was a Bad Idea, and reverse my path toward the mysterious structure, which I never again find.

Random sightings: a person claiming to be the Invisible Man, and certainly he looked the part, though the orange jacket didn't help; an outdoor lesbian café (and what makes for an outdoor lesbian, anyway?); a very large gas station which, despite its size, had only two pumps.

I am loath to affix any meaning to this other than that I had a rough night — mattress and box spring, when I woke up, were offset fifteen degrees.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:53 AM)
25 November 2006
Old jokes

Top Ten Advantages of Turning Fifty-Three:

  1. Not dead yet
  2. Age and year of birth ('53) actually match, sort of
  3. Nobody says a word if you go to bed at 10 pm
  4. Mid-life crisis should be over and done with by now
  5. "Distinguished" to "dorky" ratio goes up a couple of percentage points
  6. Still likely to get a few bucks from Social Security before it goes completely broke
  7. Ability to feign maturity improving all the time
  8. Younger women will speak to you, so long as you don't actually try to date them or anything
  9. Can shut off cell phone without worrying about missing something
  10. Almost to the point where being carded might bring discounts

Not all of these will apply next year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:22 AM)
26 November 2006
Actually, this is sort of accurate
This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 4.8
Mind: 6.2
Body: 3.7
Spirit: 7.1
Friends/Family: 4.1
Love: 0.8
Finance: 7.5
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Though I kind of wonder about that Finance bit. Okay, the creditors aren't banging on the door or anything, but that seems a little high.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:14 PM)
5 December 2006
When an eel bites your arm

And it causes you harm, that's a moray.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:02 AM)
8 December 2006
So this is Christmas

The late John Lennon occasionally seemed like a character out of Dickens, putting aside his possibly-feigned misanthropy just often enough to wish you well. Despite my own discomfort with the season, I figure I can at least act interested for the next few weeks.

One thing that helps is "White Christmas" — not the weather report, but the Irving Berlin megahit — and while it's forever associated with Bing Crosby, my own favorite version was cut by the Drifters back around 1955. It's still in print, or whatever the term is for recordings that are still available, but you don't have to hunt up an old 45 (unless you want to, in which case it's Atlantic 1048); an old friend/regular reader has kindly passed along the link to a Flash animation set to this classic R&B arrangement, and this seems like a good time to share.

On the other hand, she also sent me some fruitcake, and you're not getting any of that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:28 PM)
10 December 2006
A minor scrape

Having somewhat depleted my supply of Schick Super Twin disposable razors (as discussed here), I was forced to seek out a fresh bag, and for some reason, they were unusually hard to find at the usual supermarket. Eventually I spotted them on the very bottom shelf, almost all the way into the toothpaste section.

What's interesting here is that Schick makes an identical (except for color) ST for women, and its vertical location was near the very center. After looking over the entire razor display, I concluded that:

  1. Guys are more likely to spend too much for razors, and therefore the hyperexpensive models are given prime viewing space;
  2. I'm not too proud to shave with something pink.

Price for a bag of 10, either variety: $7.99.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:49 AM)
17 December 2006
Score one for consistency

About five years ago, I took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, which differs somewhat from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator but which produces similar results. I fall into the INTJ group, which Keirsey calls "Masterminds."

A fellow on OkCupid wrote up his own personality test (65 questions), in which I also came up as INTJ. Instead of a "Mastermind," though, I am a "Crackpot":

People hate you.

Paris Hilton hates Nicole Richie. Lex Luther hates Superman. Garfield hates Mondays. But none [of] these even rates against the insurmountable hate people have for you.

I mean, you're pretty damn clever and you know it. You love to flaunt your potential. Heard the word "arrogant" lately? How about "jerk?" Or perhaps they only say that behind your back.

That's right. I know I can say this cause you're not going to cry. You're not exactly the most emotional person. You'd rather spend time with your theoretical questions and abstract theories than with other people.

Ever been kissed? Ever even been on a date? Trust me, your inflated ego is a complete turnoff with the opposite sex and I am telling you, you're not that great with relationships as it is. You're never going to be a dude or chick magnet, purely because you're more concerned with yourself than others. Meh. They all hate you already anyway.

How about this — "stubborn?" Hrm? Heard that lately? All those facts which don't fit your theories must just be wrong, right? I mean, really, the vast amounts of time you spend with your head in the clouds ... you're just plain strange.

I am comforted by the fact that the other 15 possibilities are described equally negatively: this is, after all, the Brutally Honest Personality Test. (The polar opposite of the INTJ, the ESFP, is described as the "Clown".) You can try it yourself if you're so inclined.

Incidentally, TheSpark.com, a site from the Pleistocene era which was run by the same guys who now operate OkCupid, had a similar test, which characterized me as the "Accountant." This was, of course, long before Time named me Person of the Year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:05 AM)
24 December 2006
Where the sun shines brighter

"The other man's grass," observed Petula Clark, "is always greener," and one verse of that song has been haunting me of late:

Many times, it seems to me
There's someone else I'd rather be
Living in a world of make-believe
To stay in bed 'til nearly three
With nothing there to worry me
Would seem to be the life I might achieve

I don't see myself achieving this, exactly — for one, rather a lot of the accessible worlds of make-believe have been consolidated as the "reality-based community" — but as an experiment, I did try staying in bed 'til nearly three.

As you can see from the time-stamp, it didn't work.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:45 AM)
26 December 2006
Good night, Jerry

I'll remember you as a man who stepped up to fill some pretty big shoes after some pretty bad steps.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:29 PM)
28 December 2006
I thank you all

And from a mast taller than the tallest ships, the Chief thanks you all.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 AM)
31 December 2006
Year-end clearance

During the 1990s, and for a couple of years thereafter, I was anxious, perturbed, and generally disagreeable, and what's worse, I was unable to capitalize on those characteristics. The turmoil began subsiding around 2003, and by 2005, I was teetering on the brink of complacency.

Then 2006 threw me a couple of curve balls. The hardest one to face, of course, was the death of my father during the last week of the year. It's not like it was a surprise or anything, as I wrote on his 79th birthday:

I'm screwy enough to believe at some way-below-consciousness level that the longer he goes on, the longer I go on. (Which obviously can't be true, since only three of the five children survive, but this is not the sort of notion that is affected by mere facts.)

Still: just one more year. Just one. And after that, let's hope for one more, and pray that we're not pressing our luck.

I had no idea, of course, that a mere ten days after I wrote that, the Grim Reaper was preparing to call on me. I remember getting out of the remains of my car, shrugging, and hopping onto the cell phone; at no point that day did it occur to me that had one or two variables gone a couple of percentage points in another direction, I'd have been just as dead as that doe two lanes over.

One of the good ol' boys who stopped to offer a helping hand that day told me this: "If it's not your time, it doesn't matter what you do. And if it is your time, it doesn't matter what you do."

During a bout of pneumonia three years ago, I had come up with this bit of quasi-wisdom: "The number of times you cheat Death equals the number of times you cross his path — minus one."

If nothing else, I now understand our daredevils a little better: they're running up the score on that old scythe-wielding SOB while they still can. Dear Old Dad fought him off for the better part of a decade; I've had three run-ins with him myself. (If you're keeping score, the previous encounters were in 1960 and 1985; there was a short-lived surrender plan for 1988, which did not come to fruition.)

And being 3-0 so far doesn't give me license to act like a complete and utter fool, but it does provide a sense of perspective: if the big catastrophes haven't done me in, what can the minor trials and tribulations of life possibly do to me?

So here's to 2007. I hope I don't have to face the sort of things I did in 2006; but if I do, I'm (almost) ready.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:47 PM)
Last entry for the 31st of December

According to Steven William Rimmer, this was Tax Freedom Day in the old Soviet Union.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:52 PM)
1 January 2007
I do hope this doesn't set a trend

On today's to-do list, only just recently completed:

  • Laundry (three loads).
  • Weed out 2006 magazine stacks. (Basically, this means: box up the six titles I keep, dispose of the rest. "The rest" filled 3½ lawn/leaf bags.)
  • Listen to the Beatles' Love all the way through. (Reaction is somewhere between "Cool" and "Meh".)
  • Start Zocor regime.
  • Clean bathroom.
  • Sort unpaid bills by due date. (Most of them are due on the 8th and will be paid on the 3rd.)
  • Review annual memberships, add new one.
  • Hang calendars. (I have three for this year, including one from these guys and one from these girls.)
  • Check Gwendolyn's fluids. (Oil change due in late January.)
  • Disassemble bedroom fan, blow out accumulated dust, reassemble.
  • Toss about 40 browser bookmarks that are no longer valid.

For someone as indolent as I, this is a lot of work for a day off.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:18 PM)
5 January 2007
No, it's not the band

How do I know this day isn't going well? A coworker was stuck for a word, and floated a definition past me, and said word turned out to be "incubus."

I'm not sure which is worse: that she wanted to know about it, or that it was automatically assumed that I would know about it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:54 PM)
10 January 2007
At least one snap up

I am a firm (not to the extent of washboard abs, but work with me here) believer in the concept of Trust Your Gut: there's no reason to assume that your second or third impression is necessarily going to be any better than your first. Not everyone agrees with this premise — the last time I brought it up, the voice of John Cusack (in this) was echoed back to me:

Well, I've been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I've come to the conclusion that my guts have **** for brains.

But then there's this:

Trusting your instincts may help you to make better decisions than thinking hard, a study suggests.

University College London found making subconscious snap decisions is more reliable in certain situations than using rational thought processes.

Now this says, very distinctly, "certain situations": it doesn't say "always." But given my particular propensities — given enough time, I can talk myself out of anything that has the slightest possibility of being beneficial — I think my position, if not exactly vindicated, is certainly (somewhat) justified.

(Via Ravings of a Feral Genius.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:17 PM)
13 January 2007
Under pressure

The background:

  • My driveway is rather steep.

  • The person who throws the local newspaper route is hard-pressed to get the paper more than a foot or so up the driveway.

  • There's a heck of a lot of frozen stuff out there right now.

The combination of these factors led to a dilemma this morning. The newspaper, in its plastic bag, got to approximately its usual point this morning; however, ice on the surface caused it to slide, slide, and slide some more, down to the end of the driveway and about a foot into the street itself. No way was I going to follow it down there: even if I made it without breaking my fool neck, how was I going to climb back up?

So I got down the garden rake from its hanger on the garage wall, positioned myself just this side of the curb, and stretched. The paper wasn't frozen in place, yet, so with a few semi-deft motions, I flipped over the rake, scooped up the paper, and flung it northward toward the manhole that covers the sewer line, which is perhaps unsurprisingly not covered with ice. Mission accomplished.

As a Brilliant Solution, this does not rank wit