Monday, December 08, 2008

And in a galaxy far, far away.

Maybe it did happen a long time ago.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bring out the kitsch!

Welcome to the new age. There is nothing celebrating Obama's electoral victory that is so tacky that it cannot be made by someone and offered for sale.

Okay, perhaps the only thing new is that these things now are made with Obama's image, instead of someone else's. But the folks who make them still want you to fork over your hard-earned dollars for them.

And yes, those are, respectively, the President-Elect's head made of soap ("Hope on a Rope") and The First Couple-Elect as a Christmas ornament.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Your tax dollars at work.

One of the fun things about having a counter on this website is that I get some limited information about where my site hits come from - time of day, city where the viewing computer is located, which posting brought them to the site, what search terms were used if the visit comes from a search engine, and the like.

And then there are visitors like this:

Domain Name: ?
(U.S. Government)

IP Address: 143.231.249.#
(Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives)

ISP: Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives


Continent: North America
Country: United States
State: District of Columbia
City: Washington
Lat/Long: 38.9097, -77.0231 (Map)

Time of Visit: Nov 3 2008 10:50:03 am

Visit Entry Page:

Well, if I get audited, I'll know why.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Ya gotta have Hartke.

I was out driving around yesterday afternoon, minding my own business. I was passed by a campaign trolley, presumably with the candidate standing in the back of it, waving to passersby. Complete with a sign "Honk4Cantor". Gack. The evil Eric Cantor, representative from my district, although I can't imagine he actually represents it so much as he uses it for his base of operations, as a Mordor of his very own.

To my surprise, the trolley stopped for the red light. As I came up beside it, I rolled down my window and shouted "End Corruption! Vote for Hartke!"

Well, it made me feel better.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why the republicans will lose Virginia

I got home last night to find my daily robocalls listed on my Caller ID. The usual suspects were there: some combination of "Anonymous" or "Name withheld" or no name at all, just an 800 number. Only one of them - the nameless 800 number, by the time stamp - left me a voicemail.

"Come to the Victory Rally tomorrow at 2 pm! Senator John Warner will be there! And [whatever his name is, the zealot], Virginia's Attorney General! And a Vietnam Prisoner of War! It'll be at the Victory Headquarters! Don't miss it! That's the Victory Rally! Tomorrow, October 30th, at 2 pm! See you there!"

The time-stamp on the phone call was Thursday, October 30th, around 3:45 pm.

Yes, they were inviting me to attend a rally that had already taken place. And the rest of their efforts seem to be equally disorganized.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why I'm not a farmer.

Well, there's the hours, of course.

But there's also the results. Here is a photo of my harvest from this year's garden. Not a representative sample of the harvest. Almost the entire harvest. I actually got two bell peppers (the other one was smaller than this one) and four tiny stalks of swiss chard.

Thank goodness for supermarkets.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama rally, update.

Here's a video of the last five-plus minutes of Obama's speech at the rally in Richmond.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Obama rally.

I went to the Obama rally here in Richmond on Wednesday. Lots of fun. I wish that the sound system in the Richmond Colliseum were better: some of the speakers sounded exactly like the adults in Charlie Brown TV specials. Obama came through clearly about half the time, and when you get down to it, one doesn't go to this kind of rally to hear the specific policy details of the candidates. (People at my workplace watched it live online and had no trouble understanding what he said. Natch.) About 13,000 people got into the Colliseum for the rally, and another 7,000 watched in a nearby park where there were big screens wet up.

My favorite line was something to the effect of: "You don't even have to ask whether you're better off today than you were four years ago. Are you better off today than you were four weeks ago?"

Here's a nice little presentation on the event - photos and about 90 seconds of the Call to Action at the end of Obama's speech. What makes this slideshow and audio clip even more impressive is that it was put together by the local newspaper, which is of the "It's Okay If You're a Republican" variety. I'm guessing that even they can read the handwriting on the wall. (The alternative is that they occasionally act like responsible journalists, and from what I've seen of this paper over the years, we can safely conclude that's just not the case.)
My seat in the Colliseum was reasonably close to Obama, and he entered and exited the arena right below where I was sitting, so I was within maybe 30 or 40 feet of him at that point. It was absolutely amazing to see the level of security around him,
especially when he was shaking hands with the crowd on his way out: he was surrounded shoulder-to-shoulder by the security detail, with two or three rings of additional agents checking out the folks ahead of him.

I think that what impressed me the most was how excited so many of the people at the rally were. There was a black woman, about my age, sitting next to me who was calling all her friends, giddily telling them that she was about to see the next President. (I remember being that excited about candidates before; I remember becoming heartbroken as a result. So now I'm somewhat jaded. Or, at least, more cautious in commiting so wholeheartedly to a candidate.)

Certainly the rally had the desired effect of jazzing up the attendees, getting them to go out and work harder in the days remaining before the election. And that's especially exciting for those of us of a certain age - and you'd have to be - who remember the last time that Virginia voted for a Democratic candidate for president.

Someone I work with was at the rally as well, and was interviewed by The Daily Show. Don't think his interview ever made it on the air, but that's fun, too.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

From one of my uncles.

Yeah, those darn "tax and spend" liberals. Ever so much better to borrow and spend.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

A visit from Hanna.

Not much to report, thankfully.

About 4 inches of rain, mostly between midnight and 4 p.m. today; heaviest between about 6 and 11 a.m. Wind probably around 20 mph, gusts up to 35 or 40. No trees down in my neighborhood (that I know of), no giant branches down in my yard.

The biggest effect was to have large standing puddles in my front yard, and doubtless I'll need to mow my yard next week.

All in all, just the way I like my hurricanes.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lest ye be judged.

I got to be a beer judge today.

A local homebrewing club had its annual brewing competition this weekend. They were expecting something on the order of 80 or 90 entries. They actually got over 150. The organizers kind of panicked, and sent the word out that they needed more judges for the competition, and it really didn't matter how much experience the new judges had.

So someone thought of me.

It was a lot of fun. Well, not the "show up at 9 a.m." part, because I'm not all that fond of beer as a breakfast beverage. Even when it's the middle of summer, and a weekend.

They break it up so that a table of three judges would deal with, say, eight to 12 beers. You get a two- or three-ounce pour of a beer, judge it against specific style (e.g., Vienna Lager) definitions, and come up with a numerical score. No, you don't have to drink all of the pour you're given, and you really don't want to drink it all, if you're going to get through ten 3-ounce pours in three hours. At 9 a.m.

A single beer from the group of 8 to 12 would advance to the "best of show" round, where it would be re-judged by a different group of judges.

As it turns out, the best beer from my table - a Munich Helles - eventually won the gold medal for Best in Show.

All in all, great fun.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Doom and gloom.

It's like I brought a little bit of Seattle back with me.

Yesterday, we had a high of 68 degrees, low gray clouds, drizzle and gentle rain off and on all day long. No thunder, no lightning. Really dark, low clouds rolled in around 7 pm, so you'd have needed headlights even if it weren't raining.

These photos really were taken at 7 pm - an hour and a half before sunset - in downtown Richmond, near where I work.

And today? A bit more traditional August rainstorms - rain so hard that you couldn't see beyond the windshield wipers, a lot more lightning and thunder, large ponds of water covering the road. Not quite up to the standard of hot summer afternoon thunderboomers, thankfully. (And, naturally, it stopped as soon as I got to the office.) Still, it was 3 inches of rain in 3 or 4 hours, so there's flash flooding around the area. These are the remnants of tropical storm Fay, so three inches of rain is a whole lot better than some areas around the country got.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

West coast trip.

Okay, I'm back. Back from a one-week trip to the Seattle area. Somewhat rejuvenated (although a two- or three-week trip would have been better in that regard), although it's amazing how tired you become from sitting in a slightly-padded seat all day long on the return flights.

I can report that the Space Needle really does exist, something I could not honestly say after my previous visit to Seattle 12 years ago. Oh, sure, on that trip I was able to see the bottom 50 feet of it. But no more than that.

I ate a lot of salmon, which tastes a lot better when it's served fresh, near where it was caught, than when it's frozen and shipped across the continent. And I played a lot with my new camera, the results of which you're seeing here. (Well, a selective excerpt of the results: I took almost 600 photos on my trip.)

I got to see some spectacular sunsets. This has the Olympic National Park in the background, and the Hood Canal in the foreground.

I even got to see a sunrise, painful as that usually is for me to consider. I was watching a triathlon, and this is a pre-race photo, with the kayak volunteers getting into position to assist any swimmers needing aid. I can assure you: it's better to see a West Coast sunrise when your body is still on East Coast time.

I did a few touristy things in Seattle: I walked by the base of the Space Needle (going up it will have to wait for a later visit), I rode the monorail, I went on the Seattle Underground tour. The most fun thing I did, though, was going to a performance of the pre-Broadway tour of Shrek: The Musical. Great fun, and very well done; the actress cast as Princess Fiona has a wonderful voice. I'm not entirely sure that a musical needed to be done, but if so, this production fills the bill.

All in all, I had a great time. I'm ready to go back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Between the covers.

Part of the reason I haven't been posting much lately is that I've been reading. (Well, okay - that's not the only reason. But it's a lot more satisifying to say that I've been doing something productive like reading than to admit I've been doing my impression of a sloth.)

One book I've liked is Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, an examination of motivations that lead us to make the wrong choice when we know better, such as the power of "free" items. The author is a behavioral economist who teaches at Duke and MIT, and I heard him speak earlier this summer at a Richmond Fuqua alumni event. Pretty interesting material, although not entirely new to me.

In the area of wine, I enjoyed To Cork or Not To Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle, a very thorough discussion of the problems with corks and the limited success of various alternatives. I had thought I had a good understanding of the issue, but reading this made me realize that the various solutions aren't quite as good as I had thought.

And I've been reading some fiction lately, too. Joe Haldeman's The Accidental Time Machine is some of the best science fiction I've read lately, not that I've been reading all that much science fiction in the past ten years. Among fiction, I've probably read more mysteries than anything else. But Haldeman's latest doesn't disappoint.

I'm now in the middle of Sunshine - a delightful vampire tale. Pretty good escapist, summertime reading.

I happily recommend all of them.

O Henry, 1996 - 2008.

O Henry passed away last week. She had cancer, and passed peacefully.

She started out as a stray, and was adopted by my mother by the time she was one year old or so. She made the move from Florida to Virginia about two and a half years ago, when she and Sami came up here.

She was a very sweet cat, always sleeping on my bed at night. She was also the matriarch of the household, keeping all the other cats in line, usually by grabbing them and licking their heads until they submitted. What was great fun was when she'd approach me while I was sleeping and lick my head. Not sure I ever submitted to her authority, exactly, but I'm sure there are those who will tell you that I have been very thoroughly trained to do all of my cats' bidding, including hers.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tarred, but not feathered.

Sometimes, you just don't need an alarm clock.

This morning, for instance. This thing was in front of my house at 7 o'clock. Sounding very much like a cross between a jet engine and the propane torch for a hot-air balloon. More than enough to stir me from my slumber.

And it wasn't alone: its twin brother was right behind it, even louder.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much: they'll only resurface the street once every 15 years or so, and I guess I can give up some sleep for that. If only they hadn't appeared Tuesday morning before 6:45 to resurface the other streets around me....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Not around for long.

Joss Whedon strikes again. It's free until Sunday, which is when it gets taken off the web and you'll only be able to see it by paying for it - download or DVD or something.

Very funny.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Seeing things you really don't want to.

Sometimes, you just can't help seeing things that you really would prefer not to have seen.

As an example, although not the one I really had in mind, there was the guy I saw this afternoon, out in the park outside my office. He was wearing running shorts. And black loafers. And carrying a briefcase. And on first glance, it looked like he was wearing mohair pajamas. (On second glance? Not so much.)

No, what I was really thinking of was the sight out on my porch yesterday evening. Awww! Isn't it cute! There's a kitten! Solid black, looked to be about 8 weeks old. When I went to open the door to greet it, it bolted: off the deck to the ground, and on a beeline for the back of the yard. And as it loped across the yard, it was followed by two other kittens, about the same age. And they disappeared into the brush along the back fence.

Man. Does this mean I'm now responsible for yet another litter of kittens? Won't be quite as easy as getting them before they're born, or before their eyes are open.

Luckily, I spotted my neighbor and asked him about them. "Oh, yeah," he said. "Those three have been hanging out at the house across the street, and the woman who lives there feeds them."

Great! I don't have to start a new class at John's Home for Wayward Cats.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

2008 Folklife Festival

I went up to the Folklife Festival yesterday. Beautiful day for it, and relatively small crowds. It occurs to me that it's probably been 20 years since I've been to the Festival, so why not go this year?

The subjects for this year's Folklife Festival are Bhutan, Texas, and NASA. Yes, an eccentric combination. I was most interested in NASA, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The NASA exhibits were interesting: lots of educational stuff and things for kids to do-and-learn. And they had a lot of exhibits devoted to upcoming projects - the space telescope that will follow Hubble, and the manned space system that will follow the Shuttle had a lot of material.

The Bhutan exhibits were exotic: they had a replica of a temple that you could walk through, an area where a sand mandala was being made, and a large stage with native music and dancers.

The Texas exhibits were eccentric. One of the largest ones dealt with Texas wine ("Fifth largest wine producer in the country!" - Really? I'd have thought that California, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Virginia all produce more. They certainly all produce better, in my experience.) I listened to 20 minutes worth of an interview with a woman who has had a winery in Texas for over 20 years; kind of cool. There was a Texas cooking exhibit - Barbecue, Tex-Mex and whatnot. Two different music stages, with a changing assortment of tunes.

One of the draws to the Festival is always the food, and this year's didn't disappoint. Sure, you could get Texas barbecue (whether or not authentic is a different issue). But the coolest Texas cuisine was the Texas Noodle House, representing the large Vietnamese contingent in Texas.

All in all, a lot of fun. The price was certainly right, too. (Free, that is, except for the food.) And afterwards, you can always go to the Air and Space Museum and touch the moon rock.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spam, spam, beautiful spam.

I always enjoy looking at my browser's spam folder before I delete it. On rare occasion, there's something that's actually supposed to have come to me. But there's always the unintentionally hilarious email that's intended to grab my attention.

The one I've been getting lately - about every third day for the past month - has a subject line of "what a stupid face you have here johnstoner."

Well, that surely gets my attention. Not entirely sure what it's selling, unless there's some sort of new profile enhancement scam of which I am unaware. And not sure it's doing a really good job of making me want to open the email to find out.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fellowship of the Ring, the concert

I went out to Wolf Trap a couple of weeks ago, to see The Fellowship of the Ring. Yes, an outdoor showing of the movie, digitally projected in HD-quality. But this was a special print – it didn’t have the score. Sure, it had the dialogue and any sound effects. But the score itself was performed by an orchestra. And a 200-person choir, and soloists.

They billed it as the “world premiere” of a live performance of the score done to the movie. (The score has been separately performed as a concert, but never with the movie.)

I’ve been to three or four other orchestral performances of scores at movies, notably the Abel Gance 1927 silent film masterpiece Napoleon, but this was the first time I’ve been to a live performance of a score to a sound movie.

Absolutely amazing. Really shows how much a score adds to a movie, and having it live made it almost 3-D in character. The orchestra had some extra instruments, called for by the score: Japanese and African war drums, anvils, metal plates suspended by wire. And the soloists were superb.

I could not identify any instances where the score was off from where it was supposed to be, or any errors. There were certainly times where the volume was louder or softer compared to the dialog than it had been in the movie, but hey! It’s a live performance!

Really a lot of fun. Only drawbacks were that (a) they had to wait until dark to start the movie (hello! It’s a movie), so it started at 8:30 and, with an intermission, ended after midnight, kind of late for a school night, and (b) it was mighty cold. Probably 50 degrees when the movie started, and certainly less than that when it ended, and it felt chillier when the wind blew through the house. As I hadn’t really thought about the weather when I started out from Richmond, where it had been in the high 70’s in the afternoon, I was really happy that I had not cleaned my car out for the trip, so I still had a sweatshirt in the trunk and a down jacket in the back seat. I put them to good use at the movie. (And, of course, if they had waited until later in the year for the performance, when it would have been warmer, they’d have also had to wait until even later in the evening for it to get dark. Late May and done shortly after midnight is much better than mid-July and ending after 1 a.m.)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Where's Waldo - Virginia State Bird edition.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend was visiting from the Pacific Northwest, and noted that it was a treat to see cardinals, because there aren’t any out there. So I felt obliged to take a photo of one to memorialize the occasion.

It turns out that it’s a lot more difficult than I thought to center the camera on a really small object when the bright sun is shining directly on the viewing screen you’re using to aim the camera with. I was convinced that this photo was centered on the bird. Apparently not.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wine festival report.

Went to the annual James River wine festival last weekend. Located nowhere near the James River, naturally. (A decade ago, it was on an island downtown in the middle of the river. No idea why it’s not there: can’t possibly be the ambiance of this empty field next to parking lots in a nondescript office complex.)

The winery I usually pour for at this festival chose not to attend this year, so I got to go to the festival as a civilian for the first time in three or four years.

An okay festival – 20 wineries, ranging from the very good (e.g., Barboursville) to the … well, let’s be charitable and call them “new and still figuring out what they’re doing” and not name them here. Even though some of them aren’t remotely new. But the real reason I go to this festival (as a civilian) is that it’s only about 6 miles from my home.

Beautiful weather on Saturday: mid 80s, not a cloud in the sky. Somewhat crummy weather on Sunday: low 60s, completely overcast, sometimes windy, and constantly threatening to rain. And sometimes actually raining.

Which day did I attend the festival? Sunday, of course. Far fewer people, which means shorter lines or no lines at all, the opportunity to try more wines during your stay there, and the chance to chat at length with winemakers.

Didn’t really discover anything terribly new and exciting. Fabbioli Cellars had some good reds, of which their Bordeaux blend was the best. And clearly very few of the wineries making a Traminette (hybrid of Gewurztraminer and Riesling) know how to make it well. (One or two wineries had good ones there, so it can be done, but most of the others had an odd metallic finish that ruined any enjoyment of the wine.)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Charlotte airport wine bar.

On my various trips to Florida over the past few months, I’ve connected a couple of times in the Charlotte airport. While waiting for my connection (or, usually, for its replacement), I’ve had plenty of time to wait.

At some point I looked at the airport diagram, and discovered that Carolina Beer was listed, with a pub “under construction.” Well, no telling how old the listing was, so maybe by now they have finished construction and had opened it. If so, I was going to have an Endo Pale Ale or two before my next flight. Purely for medicinal purposes, you understand.

The pub was located a fair distance away: a long walk up the terminal arm I was in, across the main hub of the airport, and all the way out a different terminal arm. (Nothing wrong with a long walk. I had plenty of time before my connection.) Alas, when I got there, I discovered that the pub was, in fact, still under construction. (Well, as “under construction” as it could be, given that there were no workers to be seen anywhere around it. In any event, it was both unfinished and not open, sufficient to dash my hopes.)

Heading back to the terminal where my flight was getting more and more delayed, I spotted this wine bar. Well, okay: a glass or two of medicinal New Zealand sauvignon blanc or Oregon pinot noir would probably hit the spot.

As I walk into the bar, though, I realize I’m not going to get either one of those: this wine bar has only wines from the Yadkin Valley viticultural region of North Carolina.

Fine. I’m willing to try some North Carolina wines. You could do a tasting – six wines for, I don’t recall, four bucks. And they had around 25 wines to choose from: Ten to twelve each of reds and whites, a couple of dessert wines, and a “port.” I decided to pass on the reds and dessert wines, and just tried some whites. Three each of viognier and riesling, as I recall. The viogniers were forgettable: not bad, but there was also nothing to recommend them. The rieslings were, respectively, horrid, almost passable, and reasonably decent. I was delighted to find the last one, and had a glass of it. Enjoyed it enough that I lost track of time and got back to the boarding area while they were midway through the boarding process.

Interesting enough marketing gimmick: the bar showcases the wines of a viticultural area in North Carolina, to a fairly captive audience (people waiting for their planes) who – if they get to try something they like – will tell people back home about the wines, thereby setting the stage to build future demand.

And interesting enough that it would be a neat idea for someone to do for Virginia wines at a Virginia airport. Probably only Dulles or National airports would have enough traffic to justify such a specific wine bar, and neither one is as much of a regional hub as Charlotte is, which gives people the time to spend in a wine bar. Still, I think Dulles has enough flights connecting through it to give such a wine bar a decent amount of patrons with time on their hands.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Netflix v Blockbuster? I vote Netflix.

I've been a fan of Netflix for a long time. A year ago, I thought I'd give Blockbuster Online a try. I'm now ready to go back to just one service again, and I pick Netflix.

One reason I tried Blockbuster was that they carry some movies that Netflix does not have, and I wanted to see some of them. Primary among them is the World At War series, which I'm honestly very surprised that Netflix doesn't carry. I had seen the series when it was first broadcast in the 70s, on PBS (as I recall). Twenty-six broadcast hour-long episodes, plus a bunch of extra features they came up with for a later (30th anniversary?) release. Eleven disks in the series, so it's taken me a while to go through them all. Wonderful series; no surprise there.

And Blockbuster has cut deals to make some movies exclusive to Blockbuster. Lower-echelon movies, mostly. The best of those that I saw was Bobby.

But I've now had enough. The biggest "benefit" to going with Blockbuster Online is that you have a choice in returning movies: you can mail them back in a prepaid mailer (like Netflix), or you can take them to a brick-and-mortar Blockbuster store and trade it in for a "free" rental. (The store will then drop your movie in the mail for you.) The free rental is treated like a regular Blockbuster rental - you have to return it within five days, or they hit you with a late fee (which they call something else, but that's what it really is), and if you don't return it in something like two weeks, they bill your credit card for the retail cost of the movie.

The other benefit with Blockbuster Online is a monthly free coupon for a game or movie rental. (Okay, for me, that's a movie rental, as I don't have an XBox or PSP game system.) Same deal: you have to go to the physical store and get a movie, and return it five days later.

And because Blockbuster Online is more expensive than Netflix, you have to take advantage of these benefits to feel like you're getting your money's worth. (Especially when they raise their monthly fees while Netflix leaves theirs unchanged.)

When you come down to it, though, the three-movies-out-at-a-time that you have with Netflix is sufficient for me, and you don't have the hassle of returning movies before their dates to avoid late fees or the inconvenience of driving out of your way to the Blockbuster store, where you have to undergo their attempts to upsell you with candy and popcorn.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I have a new toy.

Okay, I understand that I'm an Old Guy. My cell phone doesn't have a camera, doesn't have a large keypad for texting, and doesn't have the capacity to be my mp3 player. (I do have a cell phone, though.)

So it's no surprise that I am only now discovering something that's been around for a few years: It's, I don't know, an Internet radio station that you program yourself. Sort of. You create a "station" with the name of an artist (or album or song), and the site's artificial intelligence algorithms will pick similar songs and artists to play for you, and you can give feedback to your station with thumbs up/down buttons and it will use that information to refine its choice of music for you.

Plug in your headphones and you can listen to music, more or less of your own choice, without having to listen to commercials or hauling CDs around with you. And it's free.

At the moment, I've got three "stations" - you can have lots - one initially seeded with the group Cream (okay, I'm an Old Guy), which also plays the Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, the Who, the Beatles, and Eric Clapton (among many others), one initially seeded with The Beach Boys, which plays a lot of 50's and 60's doo-wop, and one seeded with Pete Seeger, which also plays the Weavers, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, and Bob Dylan (again, among others).

I happily recommend it.

Here is my profile page, if you want to check out my stations.

Update (March 24): I guess it's not a surprise - is not the only self-programming internet radio station out there. I've come across another one - - which I think I like even better. (I found out about it through a Washington Post article on social network internet radio stations, and you just know that if there's a term to describe them and a Post article on them, they've been around for a while.)

Jango has a different algorithm for picking songs: It keeps track of what songs you like, and then goes to its database of other users to find what people who like those songs like to listen to, and chooses one of those songs next. Kind of Google-like. It also seems to give you a bit more freedom to pick what you want to hear and how often.

Drop by my profile page here, too, if you'd like. My username is JediKt, and you can search fairly easily for me. I'm listening mostly to my Cream station.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My computer keyboard ran out of ink.

Okay, it's been a while. I blame the disappearance of my writing muse, which has happened before, and will doubtless happen again.

During my absence, I have had the opportunity to write about many things, and yet could never find the time or energy to take 45 minutes - or, for some items, 5 minutes or less - to mention them here. Among those things:
  • In November, I got my flu shot in a city Health Department-sponsored drive-through flu shot clinic, designed to test out procedures for a mass inoculation. The shot was free, and I (knock on wood) haven't gotten the flu this winter.

  • Also in November, I led a wine tasting. My first paying wine tasting. Seven Virginia wines; a good time was had by all.

  • And, of course, I voted in November. Not entirely sure why: in all the races I voted on, there were ten candidates for eight seats. Only two contested races out of eight. And I didn't especially care about the two contested races. I wrote my name in for the House of Delegates and State Senate races. Didn't win, though.

  • Early in December, Tommy (cat number five) finally overcame his fear of my bedroom and started sleeping at my feet. He still gets into daily fights with Mosby and Rebel, but is also willing to stand his ground when he wants to. Or, you know, when he's eating.

  • I went to Florida over Christmas. Had a nice, relaxing time. Except for the endless hours I was in airports, or shoehorned into airplanes.

  • While waiting for a connection in the Charlotte airport, I discovered a wine bar, which was a nice enough place to wait. More on this wine bar later, I'm sure.

  • My contract attorney job came to an abrupt end one Monday early in January. We got a phone call from the associate in charge of the project: "It's about 1:20. Why don't you sign out for the day at 1:30? And then not come back until a week from Wednesday. Because this project is done." It's not as though we could say "No." Still, it was a project that started last February and was intended to last only a week and a half, so having it last ten and a half months was a pretty good deal for us.

  • I went to an Ansel Adams exhibit up in D.C. Amazing stuff - and it made me feel that I am all thumbs when I take photographs. The presence of genius will do that, I suppose. Also went to an accompanying exhibit of Annie Liebowitz's photos - and I came away with the feeling that she is excellent at her craft - but he's still four levels above.

  • My father passed away in mid-January. Very sudden, very surprising. He was in good mental and physical shape, so it was unexpected. I spent more time in Florida for this, and returned to Richmond driving a 16-foot truck loaded with furniture, most of which is now stacked in my living room, waiting for me to get rid of my 25-year-old graduate-student-esque furniture to make room for it. The cats love the new places to walk and sleep.

  • The new contract attorney project started up - and I spent the first two weeks working on material from the project that "ended" three weeks earlier.

  • This year's crocuses first appeared around Jan. 28. No photo of them this year; sorry.

  • I voted in this year's primary. Kind of funny to vote in a primary when it actually means something.

  • And last weekend, I went to a "wine expo" - an indoor wine festival, of sorts. The excitement for me was that I was able to get in for free, as part of "the trade." That hobby business of doing wine tastings in people's homes is paying off. More about this later, too, I imagine.

I'll try to post more often, but I make no promises. (I suppose I can hardly post less often.)