Sunday, June 27, 2004

Where *do* they come from?

One of the benefits that the freebie tracking program (which tells me the number of hits I get, when I get them, the domains they come from, that sort of thing) does is that it will tell me the page that a viewer comes from to get to my blog. Most of the time, that's from a search engine results page; the rest of the time, from a link in a blogroll or comment or another blog.

Here are some of the more entertaining searches that people have used to get to this blog:
stoner movies of the 1970's - during my little-known acting period, I guess.
john mcenroe girlfriends 1984 - I would be hard-pressed to care less about this than I currently do
"george will" and "stoner" - What are two phrases rarely heard in the same sentence?
patricia kluge sex - Okay, now I'd rather be interested in Johnny Mac's girlfriends.
I want to see Tatum O Neal put on her perfume - And that makes one of us.
funny stoner quotes - They're all funny, thank you very much.
dirty pretty things explalined [sic] - From the guy who made the Patricia Kluge request, perhaps?
tolkien "full text" "return of the king" - Oh, just go to the bookstore, would you?
is $20 piece double eagle gold remake real - As opposed to imaginary? Yes.
Pricing of permanent tatoos [sic] in Richmond, Virginia
cats constantly meowing
sea monkeys and revenue
Movie plot – retired marine cuts off finger
cat car song "rest stop"

A fair number of wine-related requests:
pat paulsen wine bottle labels
grape stomping clip downloads
stores massachusetts cakebread wine
"wine in a box" high quality "red wine"
winery construction powerpoint presentation
theory on wine festivals
Cardinal point cabernet price
virginia wine cellar installers
torturer naked wires

And other single-minded hobby pursuit requests (in addition to the ones already mentioned):
"hot Lips houlihan" nude picture
Paraminder Nagra nude photographs
- some would call her "Parminder", but who am I to argue with Google?
keira knightly nude free no membership
naked foosball california
- No further explanation necessary.

I've also learned a fair amount about constructing good web searches, from seeing the unexpected results of these searches. But that's for another day, if ever.

Happy birthday to me.

Well, not to me, precisely, as that would make this November, and I'm not ready for cold weather just yet. But this blog is a year old today.

And an interesting year it's been.

I've found that I enjoy this outlet for writing.

In the past year, I've had 420 entries - slightly more than my goal of one per day. And not that it's been every day; sometimes I'd go 3 or 4 days without an entry; some days I'd have 5 or 6.
-- Another goal was to have at least 1/3 of the entries be reactions to or comments on events, about 1/3 be things about me (or, more interstingly, the cat), and no more than 1/3 be "fun" entries, however I defined that. By my count, the year's entries came out to be about 55% reactions/comments, 28% stuff about me and Mia, and 17% "fun" entries. Not entirely sure what, if anything, that means, as I usually felt that the balance was about right as I was going along. Perhaps I should write more about the cat.
-- One goal was to develop some consistent readership among people I didn't previously know. I know there are a few of you out there; a couple who I've corresponded with and a couple of lurkers. (I'll presume the latter are shy, and aren't just gawking with disbelief. People I already know do that enough as it is.) And a sub-goal was to hook up with a cyberbabe. Well, okay, some of these are "stretch" goals, and can go into next year's list.
-- Another goal was to develop a better understanding of how to design a blog, and I've gone from solely text to including comments and trackbacks, so that you can join in on the excitement, and recently I've started including photos. Baby steps, I know, and enhancements that other people have left behind long ago. But this is my blog, and I'll develop it at my own pace.

And my favorite posting of the year? The first one, about JFK's speech at Rice.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Join Team Armstrong.

And you can do it without having to get onto a bike. You can buy a yellow "Live Strong" wristband for $1, and all of the proceeds go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, to benefit Foundation programs that help young people with cancer.

You can buy the wristbands at Niketown stores (and related stores: I got mine at a Kid's Foot Locker), or in packs of 10, 100, or 1000 online, direct from the Foundation.

"Dick" Cheney is happy with his wit.

Vice President - and there's an apt title - "Dick" Cheney is pleased with his use of vulgar language, and says that he feels better after doing so. And as no speechwriter has come forward claiming authorship of the quip, we can only assume that the Dickster came up with it himself.

Here are some other things that "Dick" Cheney has said: "I look forward to working with you, Governor, to change the tone in Washington, to restore a spirit of civility and respect and cooperation." So said "Dick" Cheney on the day he was chosen to be George W. Bush's running mate. "The days of the war room and the permanent campaign are over. . . . We take seriously the responsibility to be honest and civil." So said Mr. Cheney in February 2001, in his first major speech as vice president.

His mother must be so proud of him.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Beer festival.

Off to a beer festival this weekend. No, not the Vermont Brewers Festival in Burlington, where I took this photo two years ago. The one at Old Dominion, which ought to be pretty good, too.

I just send 'em on.

On his recent trip to Great Britain, George Bush had a meeting with Queen Elizabeth. He asked her, "How does one manage to run a country so smoothly?"

"That`s easy," she replied, "You surround yourself with intelligent ministers and advisors."

"But how can I tell whether they are intelligent or not?" he inquired. "You ask them a riddle," she replied, and with that she pressed a button and said,"Would you please send Tony Blair in."

When Blair arrived, the Queen said, "I have a riddle for you to answer for me. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was this child ?"

Blair replied, "That`s easy. The child was me." "Very good," said the Queen, "You may go now."

So President Bush went back to Washington and called in his chief of staff, Karl Rove. He said to him, "I have a riddle for you, and the answer is very important. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was this child ?"

Rove replied, "Yes, it is clearly very important that we determine the answer, as no child must be left behind. Can I deliberate on this for a while?"

"Yes," said Bush, "I'll give you four hours to come up with the answer."

So Rove went and called a meeting of the White House Staff, and asked them the riddle. But after much discussion and many suggestions, none of them had a satisfactory answer. So he was quite upset, not knowing what he would tell the President.

As Rove was walking back to the Oval Office, he saw Secretary of State Colin Powell approaching him. So he said, "Mr. Secretary, can you answer this riddle for me. Your parents had a child and it was not your sister and it was not your brother. Who was the child?"

"That's easy," said Powell, "The child was me." "Oh thank you," said Rove, "You may just have saved me my job!"

So Rove went in to the Oval Office and said to President Bush, "I think I know the answer to your riddle. The child was Colin Powell!"

"No, you idiot!" shouted Bush, "The child was Tony Blair!"

Gee, Mister Vice President: Why don't you show us how?

Class and decency always show through, don't they? Vice President "Dick" Cheney uses an obscenity on the Senate floor to end an argument with Sen. Leahy (D-Vt) regarding Cheney's ties to Halliburton.

Key quotes from the Post's article:
" 'Fuck yourself,' said the man who is a heartbeat from the presidency" and "As it happens, the exchange occurred on the same day the Senate passed legislation described as the 'Defense of Decency Act' by 99 to 1."

Sounds like he's under a lot of pressure. Perhaps he should take some time off from his job and just go home and count his money.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Bleeding into a bag.

I went out this afternoon and did one of the few things I appear to have a talent for: giving blood. A marvelous way to feel good about drinking orange juice and eating cookies.

They threw me for a bit of a loop when I showed up at the main donation center, though: a sign on the door said that the donation center had moved - across the street and up about half a block - although the main business offices were remaining in the building. Did they mention this in any of the phone calls I'd gotten over the past three weeks, pleading with me to come in and donate? Or on the website? Well, no. That might have been convenient to the donator.

Oh, well. My community service requirement is met for the next 8 weeks. And the best part is that I shouldn't get any more of those phone calls until August.

The Diebold Variations.

Cute series of magazine ad parodies - at least, they're claimed to be parodies, although I could see them showing up in republican publications - touting Diebold's touchscreen voting technology. You know, the one which creates no verifiable voting trail and which can be easily reprogrammed.

My favorite? The one which explains that charm and wit can take you only so far.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Easy work, good pay, no thought involved.

I swear, I don't know why people at the National Weather Service get paid. I know it's not original, and I know it's not even original with me. My theory is that you could get at least as good results by having a Weather Service Bingo card (a 5-by-5 matrix with weather phrases randomly filled in) and throwing a dart at it. (But they probably use the old-fashioned methods of examining chicken entrails.)

Last Friday's forecast: Partly cloudy. That "partly cloudy" included two inches of rain in a 20-minute period, rolling thunderclaps enough to make you think they were shooting a remake of Patton on the next street, and enough lightning to read by. (And, of course, many of my neighbors had to do just that, as some 25,000 Richmonders lost power during the storm.)

So today, the NWS issued a Severe Weather Alert for thunderstorms, between 2 and 8 p.m. Here's part of the forecast: "Hail To 2 Inches In Diameter...Thunderstorm Wind Gusts To 70 Mph...And Dangerous Lightning Are Possible In These Areas." What did we get? Sunshine, and lots of it, until it turned into partly cloudy.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Obeying the law is for little people.

And not for important people, like nominees for federal appeals courts. Thomas Griffith, Bush's appointee to the federal appeals court in Washington, has been practicing law without a license for the past four years in Utah. His excuse? He forgot. Or the dog ate it. Something like that.

He's been general counsel to Brigham Young University since August 2000, and that role includes giving legal advice, for which Utah law requires that he have a Utah law license. Under normal circumstances, he could get one through reciprocity - except that he didn't meet the requirement that he be a member in good standing of another bar for three of the previous five years. Why not? Because he had let his D.C. law license lapse for failure to pay his bar dues. For three years in a row.

The Utah State Bar even advised him that he needed either to get a Utah license - by passing the Utah bar exam - or to associate himself with a Utah bar member so that any advice was given by the licensed associate. He evidently did neither, and although he once applied to take the Utah bar exam, he never actually took it.

His continuing to practice law without a license in Utah, after being advised of what steps he needed to take to bring himself into compliance with the Utah regulations, takes his actions out of the realm of negligence and places them firmly into willful, unethical, unlawful activity.

And this intentional, unethical, unlawful course of activity should bar him from consideration for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Although I can see why it would cause him to fit in well with the current Administration.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

TV doldrums, redux.

Two more shows I find to be worth watching: one is Monk, whose summer season started yesterday. I find the obsessive-compulsive character that Tony Shalhoub plays more than makes up for the mysteries, which are generally not all that mysterious. The other is a pre-Tour de France series on OLN, The Lance Chronicles. Their version of a reality show, I suppose; a weekly half-hour program on Lance Armstrong and what he's doing as he prepares for this year's tour.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Boiler? I hardly know her.

Ah, doing my part for the economy: both the local service economy, and the national industrial economy.

My boiler decided to spring a leak. (Part of the hot-water system in my house, the boiler provides hot water for the occasional shower that I take and for the baseboard radiating heat in the winter.) My local oil heat/plumbing guy comes out and tries valiantly to fix it inexpensively, but determines that it needs a grand's worth of this and that, and there's a good chance all that may not make the boiler functional, and I'd still need to buy a new one.

Fine. I'm convinced. Get me a new one. My choice is between a steel boiler and a cast-iron one, with the cast-iron one being 10% more expensive, and reputedly slightly more efficient and certainly longer lasting. ("If you're going to be in the house for a while - ten years or more - this one will last longer before it needs substantial maintenance.") Okay, fine. Get me the cast-iron one.

So they showed up yesterday to remove the old one and install the new one. A crew of three started at 8:30 and finished at 5:15, and they weren't goofing off. So I guess I got my money's worth out of the installation cost.

This new boiler sure puts out hot water - substantially hotter than the old one - and runs for shorter periods, and is quieter when it does. And - knock on wood - it won't spew water all over the utility room. Sounds good so far.

And it only cost me everything I've earned with my freelance legal editing work since the beginning of May. sigh

It fell to earth, I know not where.

A fun little archery timewaster. Play for practice, or against the computer.

And yes, something special happens if you shoot it straight up in the air.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The summer TV doldrums.

Well, perhaps it's not just reruns, anymore. Thanks to cable networks, there is actually new programming showing up in the summer.

I guess that most of it is new seasons of returning shows: the new season of Six Feet Under started on Sunday, and even the "previously" recap was better than most stuff on the big networks. It's such fun to watch the dysfunctional Fisher family, even on a relatively slow episode as this first one. And Joe Schmo is back, as Joe Schmo 2, premiering tonight on Spike TV. Not just a remake of last year's show, this season they take on "relationship reality shows" like The Bachelor. And they've got two suckers, instead of one, both pursuing dream partners - as though a reality show was a good way to find one. Looks like fun.

Celebrity Poker Showdown is back for a new season, too. I'm enjoying it for the opportunity to see some of the players outside of their characters, and because some of them are such terrible poker players. You'd have thought that they'd learn the rules of the game before showing up for the taping, if not actually played some, but that seems not to be the case. (Adam Rodriguez, we mean you.)

And I watched Welcome to Mooseport recently. Fun little movie. Gene Hackman does a wonderful job, as always, and Maura Tierney is always good in a comedic role. Ray Romano doesn't do much other than play his TV character, so he's not especially good in this movie, either. I'd recommend it for an evening's diversion.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Better pay your taxes.

John Ashcroft will get out the thumbscrews and iron maidens, just for you. Justice Dept. Memo says torture "may be justified." And if you have a history of setting puppies on fire, Ashcroft has just the job for you.

And this is why they call it Trivia.

A Pi trivia game. I got 14 of 25, and I don't feel at all bad about the ones I missed.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

You simply cannot have too many musical Reagan tributes.

So here's one which is as tasteful as it is understated.

Stay the corpse.

As if things weren't bad enough, here's a potential Republican ticket to make you really afraid: Bush/Zombie Reagan 2004. After all, there's nothing in the Constitution that says a zombie can't be elected Vice-President, is there?

No, cornbread are square.

I am constantly surprised by the pointless inventiveness of stuff on the Web. Here, for instance, you can type in your birthdate and you'll be told where in Pi your birthdate appears. Simultaneously cool and utterly without social merit.

And I guess that if you were born on March 14th, 1915, you win.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Yet another reason to think Baltimore is, at best, a third-rate city.

Its fine newspaper has made it possible for you to download Reagan wallpaper for your computer. As though you would want to have pictures of Reagan's body being pulled by a horse as your computer's wallpaper.

Rush Limbaugh would be proud.

Up at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks, a student DJ was suspended for his anti-Reagan radio show. Suspended from the radio station, I presume; not from the school.

"I said that I was sick of all of the media that was glorifying Reagan and rewriting history that was pretty despicable," the suspended DJ said. "Basically, what the gist of the show was, it was a celebration that Ronald Reagan was dead, was finally dead."

He said he played requests such as "These Boots Are Made For Walking" and told listeners he wanted to "walk over the newly laid dirt" on Reagan's grave.

The DJ's real problem, at least in the eyes of the station management: he wasn't supposed to be on the air live - he was supposed to be playing a prerecorded show.

The Reagan dime?

The morons who think that Reagan was God now want to put Reagan's face on the dime, replacing Roosevelt, who actually did something good for the country and for the world. Or on Mount Rushmore. Or maybe they want to name the Pentagon after Reagan. All stupid, all inappropriate. (Hard to tell whether these are more inappropriate than renaming Washington National Airport after him, thereby trashing the memory of George Washington. Or did the morons think that the airport was named after Martha Washington? Or George Washington Carver?)

Seems to me that the proper thing to rename in Reagan's honor is IRS Form 1040, since most people and their children will be paying taxes all of their lives in order to make a dent in Reagan's free-spending ways and monstrous record-setting budget deficits.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

National holiday: Embrace the spirit.

I thought it was in poor taste, but who am I to argue with the President? If the Prez says that we should have a national holiday to celebrate Reagan's death, then so be it. In the words of a younger George Bush, and the U.S. Postal Service, "Party on!"

Now, for any good party, you need to bring a cake. And the appropriate one here would be a cake in the shape of a key. (If you can have a lunatic deliver it, so much the better.)

And guests. You need guests. Make sure to invite some of the neighborhood welfare queens with their Cadillacs. They'll be sure to eat a lot of the cake. Well, if they show up.

What's a party without music? Might as well play some Ray Charles, to honor someone who passed away this week who deserves being honored.

But nothing says "summer party" quite like a barbecue, so that's what I'm planning to have. Steaks, wine, whatnot. And ketchup as a vegetable, of course. And to get the charcoal going, I'll douse it with plenty of charcoal lighter fluid, to make sure it gets good and hot, with flames rising high into the night. You know, like the firey vistas at Reagan's new home.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Fun spam.

Subject: Re: muzak crisis

Really? I know that I find it to be obnoxious, but a crisis?

Alas, no. Just a spam. The text of the spam was:

I just reviewed your m o r tgage info. You are appro ve d with 2.35 % fixed
r a t e. Please visit this page [link removed] today and specify your application ID #7876699938629 to confirm everything.

Thank you.

Marquita Carr
NCS Bank

And, of course, I haven't recently applied for a mortgage; nor would I look for a mortgage from someone with a return address of [gibberish letters]

Sunday, June 06, 2004

And if you don't like speaking Anglo-Saxon, perhaps Elvish will suit you better.

More linguistic news from the BBC: a school in Birmingham has an after-school program teaching one of the Elvish languages, Sindarin (the "conversational" form of Elvish).

The best part of the article: "The number of Sindarin speakers worldwide is unknown but thought to be growing rapidly." I'll bet: growing from 5 to 25 is a tremendously rapid increase; at least, in percentage terms.

Better still are the comments following the article: "Great. Will be really handy when these kids grow up into the real world and need to get jobs." and "Brilliant idea! Elvish could be the new Esperanto!" and "My wife Carole is an elf and I have been learning Sindarin from her for the last approximately five years." And many more.

"Speaking Anglo-Saxon not make one great."

According to a professor of linguistics, and as reported on the BBC (so it must be true), Yoda speaks like Anglo-Saxon; at least, Yoda's sentence structure is similar to old Anglo-Saxon. This professor notes that Sam Gamgee and Gollum speak a non-standard form of English, while Frodo and Bilbo Baggins speak a standard form. All of this in an effort to recognize non-standard English.

The sad part? He thinks that using Yoda as an example is a good way to get children interested in how preferences in English word order changed from the Anglo-Saxon era to that of Middle English. Using Yoda won't be enough for that, I'm afraid. It would also take chocolate, video games, and a pile of cash.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

"Bitch set me up." And so did the Park Police.

Everyone's favorite cartoon DC politician - Marion Barry - is planning to run for office again, and part of his pre-campaign strategy is to blame everyone else for his drug problems and especially his arrest and the subsequent discovery of drugs in his car.

I really do wish he'd go away, and allow a new generation of cartoon politicians to take their rightful place on the podium.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Dancing for dollars.

The NY Times has an interesting series this week, on Las Vegas: its people and problems. This article is on dancers at strip clubs, and is pretty interesting for those of us who have seen such things only in the movies and on TV. It talks about how many of the dancers have goals to be something else - actress, model, veterinarian, teacher, attorney - and that this is hoped to be a stepping-stone, a way to earn enough to take the next step up, and how it's successful for some. But only for some. And it talks about how the dancers view the customers: as meat with money, and the goal is to separate as much money from the meat as possible. It also mentions that some clubs - like the one discussed at length in this column - do a good job of providing a support group for the strippers who work there, almost like family.

A similar club appears in the movie Dancing at the Blue Iguana, a non-glamorous look at the lives of five dancers in a strip club. Supportive of the women who work there, it takes the place of family for these dancers who don't have much of a supports system or family outside of work. (Different from the NY Times article, then, in those dancers tend to do a really good job of drawing a line between work and an outside life, and continue to have somewhat of a normal outside life.) And Blue Iguana was astonishing in another way: it wasn't scripted; it was done entirely through improvisation. Five months of improvisation to come up with a basic story, followed by 3 weeks of actual filming. As a result, the actors were deeply immersed in their characters, and the performances were fresh, lively and extremely believeable. A movie worth watching, and another reason to have Netflix.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

No, I am the walrus.

Not terribly surprising, of course, but Paul McCartney admits that many Beatles' songs were about drugs. And while it's clear that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was one of them, I guess I'd fall into the category of those who didn't suspect that Got to Get You Into My Life was, too.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

An interesting use for cicadas.

Don't eat 'em. Drink 'em. A homebrewer in Arlington has made a barleywine with roasted cicadas as an ingredient. And you can see for yourself how many went into the mix.

I cannot imagine how much aging will be required to smooth out the flavor, and I can guarantee you that a cicada beer would not be my first of the evening (although it might well be my last).