Friday, February 29, 2008

quote for the day

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult."
- E. B. White

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Here's a story about an exchange student who lost a bunch of weight because (he says) his host family didn't feed him enough.

They asked "Would you send your child overseas?"

My favorite answer:

No way, Jose. With the global situation the way it is today, as far as I am concerned, my kid can learn anything she needs to know through Wikepedia! God bless the USA!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Posting in spurts

Went to Victoria BC last weekend with Camila. It was COLD.

It's winter break for my kids (their district gives more breaks than any I've ever seen). Some good deals on tickets, plus hotel points means I was able to take David snowboarding at Lake Tahoe...
After three days of an old dog trying to learn a new trick, every part of my body hurt. But it's better than sitting on the couch eating carbohydrates all day, I guess.

Sam & I went to Las Vegas, saw Cirque du Soliel, Penn & Teller, Madame Tussaud's again.

I pretended I was a wax dummy to startle and amuse the other patrons...

All for now. Off to Reno tomorrow. Have a great week.

Monday, February 11, 2008

not important

(but then what on this blog ever has been?)

Anyway, Alan's latest post (about the Wii) reminded me that I've yet to share my invaluable opinions about video games...

1) The old ones were better. And I'm not just being an old fart, here ("In my day, son, we had *real* clouds...") When video games were 100% fantasy (Centipede, Missile Command, DigDug, Frogger, etc) it was fun. As soon as they started trying to look like real people doing actual things (eg, Mortal Kombat, sports), they lost me. Now I had something to compare the game to (ie, real life) and the game was a cheesy, stupid, imitation. I found sports games especially ridiculous -- why would I stand here fiddling my thumbs *pretending* to hit a baseball or a golf ball or whatever, when I could play the real thing and it could be an actual accomplishment, with camaraderie and benefits to your health, and most importantly, something a *lot* more fun?
(Grammar nazis, please leave the previous sentence alone -- it's happy just the way it is, lack of structure and all...)

2) My brother told me that some posit that video games are one factor contributing to a lack of direction and motivation among young men nowadays. In real life, you have to expend effort to achieve power and control; with a video game, all you have to do is sit on the couch and move your thumbs. In the extreme case, it saps their enthusiasm to engage with the real challenges of life.

3) I played Guitar Hero for the first time last month. I had greatly mocked this game, for the reasons above -- why not get a real guitar and learn to play it instead of *pretending* to play a plastic guitar by pushing buttons and flicking a little lever? It seemed really stupid. And maybe it is. But it *is* fun. Somehow they've taken a bunch of pop/rock songs -- many of which I don't even care for that much in their actual versions -- and made them fun to listen to and given you a way to have input into making the song sound good.
So I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Oh, one other thing: since I have a real guitar, and can even play it a little, the game was pretty easy except in Expert mode. The people I was playing with were impressed that I could jump right to the Medium (or whatever) setting. The point: I never told them I could play a real guitar -- does that mean I'm evil?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Continuing Education

As a free service, I’d like to tell you a tiny bit about 18-wheelers, how (or how not) to drive around them.

1) Don’t cut in front. They can’t stop like a 4-wheel vehicle can. And if you do it going up a hill, that messes them up: the driver needs to conserve all the momentum he can when dragging a heavy trailer up a grade; forcing him to brake is inconsiderate and might piss him off.

2) Let them change lanes. I see this all the time: the big rig driver’s signaling to change lanes, and some little car darts forward into the empty spot next to them, oblivious to what’s happening, and how difficult it is for a big truck to find a clear spot to change lanes. When being passed by a big rig at night, you can let a driver know that the trailer has cleared (they’re far enough forward to enter your lane) by dimming your lights briefly.

3) Give them room on turns.
If the driver swings wide (into the left lane when turning right, or into the right lane to turn left), don’t try to squeeze in along next to her or you’ll get crushed by the trailer.

4) Stay visible; some trucks have signs that say “If you can’t see my mirrors, I can’t see you...”

5) In stop-and-go traffic, maintain a steady pace if you’re in front of an 18-wheeler. Don't make the driver stop and start and stop and start -- braking and accelerating are a much bigger deal to him than to you.

6) Be predictable. When you do odd stuff other people aren’t expecting, it can lead to bad things.

7) Don’t tailgate. The tires will throw big rocks no matter how many mudflaps (with tasteful naked woman silhouette) the truck has. Also, sometimes rather than being discarded, a tire will be re-treaded, or “re-capped” (have you seen those big pieces of flat rubber in the middle of the road sometimes, about 10 feet long and a foot wide? Those are tire caps) Anyway, when a tire loses the cap you don’t want to be so close that it comes thru your windshield – I’m told they weigh 150 lbs and can take your head off if they hit your car at the right speed.

8) Bonus tip: if you are a woman with shapely legs and you’re riding in the passenger seat wearing a skirt, put your feet up on the dashboard so your legs can be admired by the driver. This is good etiquette and part of being a “team player.”

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. If you know more than I do, feel free to chime in.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

here's a thing...

Like most brothers who are close in age, when we were young Flip and I occasionally punched each other. Okay, frequently. Mostly I suspect I bullied him a bit since I was older. I don’t mean that I was cruel, just that I tried to boss him around*. By the time he was 15 he was bigger than me, but happily for me, by then he had matured beyond the need for petty revenge.
*(When he was 3-4 yrs old and I was 5-6, we played cowboys. For myself, I chose the coolest, baddest name I could think of: “Shoot-Lion”; I made him be the side-kick “Johnny”.)

But anyway, this post is supposed to be about another thing that happened when I was about 8 yrs old, while we were awaiting the arrival of our little sister: I had a nightmare.

I dreamed that in order to make room for a new child in the family, there was a rule that one of the existing children had to die. For whatever reason (because I’m self-absorbed rather than self-sacrificing?), in my dream Flip was the one.

White-coated doctors led my 6-yr-old brother into a room and closed the door. After a while, they came out, carrying buckets containing a heart and lungs and things. That’s horrible enough in itself, but the worst part was the finality of it – it seemed to represent that my little brother was completely, irretrievably gone.

It’s been 35 years since that dream, but I still remember the crushing grief and pain – I was crying when I woke up.

And with waking of course came the realization that it wasn’t real. I was weak with relief and happiness. In a gesture entirely unlike our usual interaction, I padded over to my little brother’s bed and hugged and kissed him while he slept.

After that day, we never fought again. Unless, say, we were in each other’s presence...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Monday Miscellany

Check out the Harbin Ice Festival in China. We've been having a lot of snow in Seattle this winter, and I actually made most of these sculptures in my back yard already, but it's nice to see others doing their best also...

I liked this show about the power of suggestion and how much our preconceived ideas influence our perceptions...
Warning note: this is from Penn & Teller's HBO show Bull****! As such, it has lots of bad language. Or as as Mom would say: “too many swears...”

Am I the only one who thinks street cleaners are mostly a waste of time? They always leave a trail of water mixed with crumbs of street stuff behind them. I guess some places the streets are dirty enough that the street cleaner improves the situation, but I've always thought it looked like make-work...

It happened again recently: a comment suggesting that lesbian women are my destiny. I'm at a big company social event, and out of 50 women there, the one who told me I was "pretty damn cute" was the only openly gay woman I met. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining -- she was attractive and fun and smart, and everyone likes a compliment, but... What would be nifty is if straight women found me attractive in the same proportion that lesbian women apparently do. Not that I'm in the market right now or anything, but it's nice for the ego if nothing else. I have one gay woman friend who tells me the problem is that *I* am a lesbian myself. Except for one important qualification, I suppose she could be right...

And in case you felt like whining today about something bad that happened to you...

Interesting thing about movie-making...

And in case you need to laugh about something, here's A Bit of Fry & Laurie in a very Monty Python-like sketch...

May your week be happy.