Thursday, January 26, 2006

Suffering The Wind
This has been the Year Of The Wind. I don't ever recall being blasted with as many storms with huge as I've been through in the past year. And last night was another. Which means a lousy night's sleep. My house doesn't creak like a galleon under full sail but the buffeting we took was noisy and lasted pretty much all night long. Yeesh. Feel awful this am. Just thought you'd like to know.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Great TV
I recently chanced upon a BBC program being run by PBS called "Battlefield Britain." When I saw the title in the TV grid listing, I thought it was part of the World War II series which I'd seen just enough of to make watching more inconceivable but I was wrong. This series is about battles in English history such as those against the Spanish Armada and the Welsh revolt of Owain Glyn Dwr. Absolutely fascinating.
The series hosts, a father and son team, do an amazing job of bringing the battles to life. They physically go to the locations of the fights - not exactly surprising given the title of the series - and demonstrate in a number of ways what transpired. They walk the field of battle and show how terrain affected the fight. Computer animations of the action give the viewer a remarkably good idea of what happened and, something that strikes me every time I watch, how few men were actually engaged in the battles that settled English history. These armies were of a few thousand men, not hundreds of thousands as the weight of history would make me want to believe.
There are actors in period garb who give a sense of immediacy to the computer simulations. A few men also are put in the position of commenting on the action as if they had been figting for one side or the other. Not that their commentary is particualrly brilliant but as dramaturgy, it is brilliant. Finally, the host has what I call the magic suitcase. It's a terrain model that folds open to show how the men were arrayed and opens the door for the computer animations to flow out of the narrative.
I can't do justice to how well done this series is in my description since they have done a masterful job of making history visual. But I will say this: If the show is broadcast in your area, watch it. It is one of the best military history programs ever.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Well, I was right to be worried. Duke lost to Georgetown by just a few points after getting behind early by way too many. On the other hand, I'd love to see a re-match in the NCAA tournament because Duke had its bad game. The Hoyas will not beat the Blue Devils again.
After looking at the Apple support pages, I see that the truncating of songs seems to be an issue. What I've found is that the first song of newly ripped in CDs appear to come up short. Actually, I think it's the importing that causes the problem. But I open iTunes, play the song and it pops back to its 'full' version and then updates to the iPod. So there's a work-around but I expect better from Apple.
And just as a note, I actually went back to Baja Fresh for lunch today but it was way too full to bother with. Being full alone is not a problem but I saw a cohort of screaming Hispanic kids with parents and just didn't want to put up wid dat. As the saying goes. So my fish taco will just have to wait. Ah! The sacrifices we have to make.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Doggie Fit!
How do you keep yourt pug of war svelte and lithe? Why, the Snackshotz of course! MMMMmmm! Frisbee snax!
Odds And Ends
I've been sweeping up the cyberdust for a couple of days and figure I have enough accumulated dross to make a post.
First, the new iPod is brilliant. I only have one viddy to watch, which is the first thing I did of course. Yes, the screen is not huge but it is incredibly sharp. So you hold it a little closer to your face - not a big deal. On the other hand I've been having some weirdness in iTunes itself. Some songs are just truncated on the former iPod. For example, this morning I started listening to Jethro Tull's "Aqualung" and the song stopped about two minutes and change in. It's a six minute and some song so I have no idea what was going on. I pulled up the iTunes app and checked the song length and it displayed as the iPod had it - short. But I then played the song in iTunes and it came up as the full version. I then connected the iPod and it "updated" the song to its full length.
I may have to go poking around Apple site to see if anyone else has reported such behavior.
A couple of things off the sports page need a quick glance. First, even as I write this, Duke is playing Georgetown and I'm rather nervous. I have no question that Duke is the better team but this just the kind of game that the Blue Devils can lose. The Hoyas are a good team, a top 25 team without doubt. They have a good coach who just may in the fullness of time prove himself to be better than his father. Duke has entered its ACC schedule which makes a non-conference game easy for the team to not be "up" for. Whereas G'town has every reason to be sky-high for the No. 1 team in the country. This game can make G'town's season. For Duke it'll be pretty much just another game. So I hope Duke plays the game necessary to win. Because it is possible for Duke to do the one thing it has never yet done - go undefeated. But I'm not holding my breath.
Secondly, dang. I would have put money on the Indianapolis Colts to win it all. They deserve it after their season and the fact that they have superb players. But the Steelers played the superb game. Oh well. Good thing I'm not a betting man. Well, there was that one rupee bet on the horses that won me 5 rupees in Mauritius. But that was a lark.
A moment of foodblogging. I went by Chipotle last night to get dins. Denied! The line was from the counter almost to the door. So I went to the local "Baja Fresh" which is actually closer to home. Got me a burrito. It was good. I can't say every bit as good as the Chipotle burrito because I got chicken instead of a carnitas. But it was very good. And I'll try their carnitas ere long and give the straight up skinny. The menu at Baja Fresh is more extensive. They have fish tacos. I want to try the fish tacos.
I see in today's news that little Jimmah Carter's son is going to run for office. 58 year old Jack Carter moved from Bermuda to Nevada about three years ago and since he's a new resident and not run for political office before, he's goign to run for the state legislature. Oh no! I got it wrong! I forgot the overreaching Carter ego. He's going to run for the US Senate. And let's look at a qupte to see the depth and brilliance of little bitty Carter: "I'm disturbed by the Bush Administration policies, ... I don't like the partisan bickering." Well which is it ya dumbass? If you don't like the partisan bickering then why don't you support the President in a time of war? Oh fer egotistical jackasses! I hope the people of Nevada have the native sense to slap this fool down.
Urg. I didn't mean to rant but the Carter family will do that to me. As a president, Jimmy was a pretty good poet. As a poet, he was a fair president. But the bottom line is that he was a crappy president and now he's a crappy author. But the Habitat for Humanity thing is laudable. Having said that, I'm off to watch hoops.

Monday, January 16, 2006

This not the Jake post I promised. This is another fargin' iPod post. I loaded my latest acquisition onto the old G3 iPod and am left with a shade under 309 MB of space on the thing. I'm not sure of the numbers but I think that gives me maybe another two CDs of hard drive capacity before it burps on anything new. Which means I need to get a new iPod. A 60 gig viddyPod. Yeah. Must happen.
And I figured I'd buy it off the Apple site. This allows me free laser engraving just for funz. And I thought I'd grab a phrase off Chris Onstad. Specifically : "Everybody dance like/there's ass in your pants." It amuses me. And it's a call to dance on a music device. Apple, it seems, disagrees. My choice violates their offensive content rules. Which I don't know what are. My second choice is "What we need more of/is science." Which I can live with.
But I am not a little hacked off at Apple. I'm buying something from them which they offer to engrave for me. And yet they are going to censor my words. What the hell? MY money. My words. End of discussion. If it's offensive, anyone who sees it is going to blame me not Apple. So just stuff the censorship. ... Yeah, like that's going to happen!

More Jakeblogging Shortly
I saw Jake at a house concert on Sunday. He was fantastic. I want to add "as usual" to that sentence but this was the first house concert I've been to and the intimacy of the venue makes comparison to a more formal show a bit difficult. I'll have a full post up later today.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Just Can't Rant Today
I have been working up to a rant on the sad spectacle of "Brokedi Brokeback Mountain" but just haven't been able to make my remarks temperate. So I'll go off in another direction. Perhaps Hollywood can start making gay movies out of everything. My first suggestion: "Last of the Homohicans."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

MovieDog Says "Go To Hell, Hollywood"
I see ads for the new installment of "Underworld" and wish for the parallel universe wherein I get to choose between Kate Beckinsale in a leather catsuit and Charlize Theron as Aeon Flux. And then the ugliness rolls in. I see ads for the marginally talented Martin Lawrence in the sequel to "Big Momma's House." Why for the love of all that's holy was this craptacle (i.e. that which is craptacular) even conceived? Was the first one such a roaring success that it made this baby from Sheol's womb necessary?
And they wonder why box office is down? Oy gestalt.
And oh yeah: "Tristan and Isolde?" No! Bad studio! Down boy! Heel!
Luckily America has the option of seeing a new Queen LaBeefa movie to watch instead. No! Bad studio! Heel!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Science In The BlogDog House
For Christmas I got a Dwarf Alberta Spruce - a live tree which I plan to use for the next several years as my Christmas tree of choice. But it got me wondering what the scientific explanation is for plants and animals that don't grow to full size. I figured it out: They have endwarfins.
What? You were expecting something serious?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

And One More Thing...
Apple has done it again with new products at the Macworld Expo. I'll break things down (that doesn't sound good. -Ed.) shut up Ed, later. In the meantime, I am heaping abuse on myself for not buying Apple stock pre-split at 14. Yes, it could have been done.
Quiet Time
Not much to say in the last few days. Much is on my mind. Paul has given me much to think about which means any changes to the blog will be pushed into February at the earliest.
InstaPundit posted a podcast which is well worth listening to for several reasons. First, the InstaWife, aka Dr. Helen, has an absolutely wonderful voice - touched with Southern honey. Secondly, the first interview is with the talented and whip-smart Michelle Malkin. However, Insty's fascination with Audra Coldiron of "Audra and the Antidote" escapes me. I have nothing against the neo-punk style but it is a genre that celebrates lack of talent and elevates "attitude" over accomplishment. Sorry - the girl just can't sing. De gustibus non disputandum, eh?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What A Surprise!

Microsoft Corporation will do anything for a dollar. Now I understand that a corporation is a legal entity and not something with a conscious. I say this upfront so as not to offend all of our Libertarian and Conservative friends by sounding too Liberal. But a corporation is managed we can only hope by individuals who do understand the difference between right and wrong. Case in point:

Microsoft has shut down the blog site of a well-known Chinese blogger who uses its MSN online service in China after he discussed a high-profile newspaper strike that broke out here one week ago.

The decision is the latest in a series of measures in which some of America's biggest technology companies have cooperated with the Chinese authorities to censor Web sites and curb dissent or free speech online as they seek access to China's booming Internet marketplace.

I don't know what they are thinking in Redmond, Washington but censorship of the Internet is not only wrong it is nearly impossible. Of course this poor guy has been stopped for now but it is only a matter of time before people like him figure a way around this. The Chinese authorities seem to think they can control the news like they did in the days of Mao. I have news for them: It's not going to work! The news will slip out and the policy of trying to force multi-national corporations to censor descriptions of unpleasant events will eventually be rescinded. Where will this leave Microsoft? With egg on its face once again. Hey guys, have some gumption and tell the Chinese to do their own censoring. Do you really think they are going to ban you from China for not complying with their edicts? That would be like cutting off their noses to spite themselves. This is something the wily Chinese will never do.
Why Would I Ever Want This Service?

I admit to loving gadgets and I will admit to loving Internet-related services too. I use a Roomba for vacuuming and have even gone as far as to name this robot Rover. I use the Internet to backup my Quicken files. This all makes me an avid consumer and a marketer's dream. Though I am very hard pressed to understand why I would ever want to download music to my cellphone. Both Verizon and Sprint seem to think this is a good idea and are currently engaged in a very heated competition for my dollars. Here is a portion of a press report:

Verizon announced yesterday that it would begin selling phones that allow users to download songs over the airwaves. The company's decision to move into the music business through the cellphone market poses a potential threat to the makers of portable music players, like a

Verizon's new service will create competition for Sprint, which in October introduced a phone that lets consumers download songs through its wireless network for $2.50.

Verizon will charge $1.99 for a song sent over the air. It will also sell songs downloadable to phones through a PC from a Verizon music site for 99 cents each, the same price charged by online music stores like Apple iTunes.

I wish them both good luck but have to report that I will not be using their services anytime soon. I have to save up for a Scooba who will mop my floors after Rover has completed his vacuuming.
Yet Another Prediction Of A Bright Future For Blogs

This one is by Clayton Makepeace. It appears in an e-zine that I subscribe to by the folks at

A sample of their predictions for 2006:
Blogs will become an even more powerful marketing tool. These websites (where visitors are invited to share their opinions on a variety of topics) are still skyrocketing in popularity. In 2005, 33% more people visited Blogspot.Com than read The New York Times! Creating a blog and requiring visitors to register in order to share their opinions - PLUS adding links and ads to the blog site - will become a huge source of new e-mail addresses and revenues for anyone creatively exploiting them.

I personally read the NY Times less than I used to and blogs much more often. I have no idea how they came up with their numbers but I do appear to validate their findings.

Friday, January 06, 2006

I finally got to Chipotle for lunch today. Oh, the hours are 11am to 10pm. It says so on the door. In letters that are small enough to be unreadable to anyone driving by. I might have to rant about that one of these days. But I was starting on the lunch. Dang. Good stuff. A limited menu to be sure but really, really tasty. I had the Fajita Burrito with carnitas (mmm! carNItas!) and guac. I tells ya - this is a belly bomb. I was full, make that fu-ULL, when I walked out. The guac was totally needless. Next time I go, I get carry out: Burito Bol with the fancy beef and no drink.

If you haven't tried Chipotle, even after my griping about their website, I can definitely give them the two thumbs up. Worth the extra trouble of going on and ordering versus the Tac O'Bell drive thru.
Essential MAC OS X Applications

This will require the knowledge of a Lycurgus or the BlogDog himself to verify. I put it out here so I will know what to look for when I start playing on my father's new laptop. His old Mac PC got hit by a surge of lightning and his old surge protector didn't offer any protection. He has since bought a new Mac Laptop and surge protector. I can hardly wait to see it!
Using The Internet To Pick Up Babes and/or Hunks

This has a few amusing observations. It includes this funny quote:

"The thing to remember about love affairs," says Simone, "is that they are all like having raccoons in your chimney. ... We have raccoons sometimes in our chimney ... And once we tried to smoke them out. We lit a fire, knowing they were there, but we hoped that the smoke would cause them to scurry out the top and never come back. Instead, they caught on fire and came crashing down into our living room, all charred and in flames and running madly around until they dropped dead." Simone swallows some wine. "Love affairs are like that," she says. "They all are like that."

-- Lorrie Moore, in Birds of America

I think I would check out Hot or Not before hanging my hope on meeting a future mate via a web site or a blog. At least at the aforementioned site you get to see each other in advance to determine if there is a physical attraction. And the physical attraction is very important during those initial encounters. It helps make up for the nervousness that both sides normally feel. Though if you think putting up a picture of yourself cuddling a dog will work then by all means please do not let the friendly folks here at PoW stop your efforts.
A Scam or a Disturbing Web Site?

I saw this profiled on CNBC. The guy doing the interview had actually used the service to retrieve the cell phone records of the man from Best People that he was interviewing.

At times like these I sometimes wish I had an expense account to check out such things. It's akin to watching an auto accident, or Danny Bonaduce. In any event, the Internet has introduced the ability to find out most anything about anybody. The genie is out of the bottle and this new reality is not for the faint-of-heart or paranoid.
What Would You Expect Microsoft To Do?

I can see how a comparison of the new Microsoft OS with the MAC OS would reveal certain similarities. Though it only leads me to ask what you would do if you were in Microsoft's shoes. I mean there is an easy-to-use, rock solid OS (Apple) and you have a bug-filled, hard to navigate OS (Microsoft), and you are seeking to improve. Do you emulate what works well for your competition or do you try to fix your existing OS by bolting on more features and letting the customers tell you what to fix? The answer is a no-brainer. (COPY!)

Microsoft since they introduced Windows 95 has been trying to make themselves more like the Mac. Their latest attempt should come as no surprise. Large corporations usually don't make original contributions of ideas or technologies. They either buy what works or they copy it. Since Apple is not for sale Microsoft has to try to make their GUI and their feature set more like the Mac. They have no choice but to play catch up. And I see nothing wrong with this since most of Corporate America is saddled with Microsoft software and the belief is firmly ingrained that nobody get fired for buying Microsoft. At least this gives me some hope for my company purchased laptop. Maybe this next version of Windows won't crash so much and will offer features that my friends with Apple computers now take for granted. We can only hope, and live with the knowledge that we can replace our home computers when the time comes with the latest and greatest from Apple.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Home Decor
I've been poking around the IKEA site today with the idea of getting the "dark" corner of my kitchen set up. One thing I came upon was some track lighting which design I really like. Little UFO lights flying around the kitchen. But I am left to wonder if Richard Clack (Clack? -Ed.), the designer, has ever actually worked in a kitchen.
A kitchen, if used for its intended purpose, has the remarkable propensity to create fine airborne droplets of grease. Grease. An aerosol of grease. And then the dust of usual life comes to settle on that surface and pretty soon you have a real mess. I don't mind cleaning the kitchen. But being a guy, I want a kitchen that is easy to clean. And these lights, despite the high design, look like a real cleaning nightmare. So I'll continue on my light search.
On the other hand, I don't really want to have a light called "Fartyg" in any room of the house.
I Am A Programming Genius!
Not computers: television. As I was looking at the listings of shows in the daily noisepaper, I finally realized that what the new shows lack is synergy. The combinig of two distinct ideas into a new whole. What's the first element? One I've already complained about: the new psychic shows - "Ghost Whisperer," "Medium" and, to a lesser extent, "Supernatural" on CBS, NBC and the WB respectively. What's the second element? Crime shows of course, specifically the "Law & Order" franchise.
My new show would be "Law & Order: SVU." It's been done you say? Let me spell it out: "Law & Order: Spectral Victims Unit." (guinessguy)Brilliant!(/guinessguy)
Another Memo From The Law Firm
That would be the law firm of Bitch, Carp and Moan of course. Last night, as I was watching the Big Bowl Game (Boo! SC should have won), I decided that I might as well try the new neighborhood Chipotle for a bite of dinner. I tried to use their eponymous web site to do something as exotic as find out what their farkeling store hours are and I was sorely tried. First, the site is Flash-based to the point of annoyance but what's worse is that all the interaction results in pop-up new windows. Well, my Firefox is set to supress such actions so my inital visit meant I got no info. Trying the site in Apple's Safari worked better but I finally gave in to the annoyance factor of dealing with the just-too-clever-for-their-own-good interface and bagged out. I didn't go to Chipotle and I'm less inclined to after putting up with all that cutesy crap.
Well, I'll go sometime. It's just not going to be a priority. C'mon McDonalds! You can make a more useful site than that!
PoW Wishes Joe A Speedy Recovery
Joe Sherlock of the invaluable "The View Through The Windshield" blog has recently suffered a heart attack. Luckily for us, the reading public, it appears to be mild and as he puts it:
I returned home this morning and will be taking it easy for a while. I now have two stents in me - I think of them as My Twin Glasspaks - but I'm feeling reasonably good. Blogging will be lighter for a while as I now have other priorities in my life.
We will live with the lighter blogging as long as Joe keeps living and posting. He's too good to lose. Twin glasspaks. Heh. Rumble on, Joe, rumble on!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dangerous Traffic
A report, stolen in toto from today's "American Scene" page of the Washington Times:
New York - A horse pulling a carriage bolted through blocks of traffic in Midtown Manhattan and crashed into a car, injuring the carriage driver and two persons in the car.
The horse ended up wrapped around a station wagon late Monday and was later euthanized. The windshield of the car was smashed and the carriage was mangled, said witness Philip Emran. There were no passengers in the carriage.
The carriage driver was listed in critical condition yesterday. The men in the station wagon were hospitalized and were in stable condition, police said.
Ironically, before it began pulling the carriage, the horse was also in stable condition.
Stevie will hate me for that.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Greeting from the DNC
I just got a holiday card from the Democrat National Committee. It says: Happy New YEEEAAAARRRRGGGHHH!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Another Needless Sports Post
The NFL playoff picture has suddenly been made clear, as if the grunting thrust and crunch of 300 pound linemen made the mist dissolve before our eyes. And the Washington Redskins are in the playoffs for the first time in ... I don't know, several years. I don't know how many years because I don't really care. Which is not to say that I hope the Redskins lose - oh no! Not by a long shot. I hope they win. I hope they don't win the Super Bowl because there are much more deserving teams (coughCOLTScough) but I hope they win a couple more.
Bear with me here. My motives are entirely selfish. First, I'm happy for coach Joe Gibbs. From what I've seen, Gibbs is a real gentleman. A Hall of Fame coach and a good guy in a business that chews up good guys and spits them out. Secondly, the Redskins seem to have an effect on the psyche of the whole Washington metropolitan area. When they win, life seems better around here. The annoying Redskin uber-fans are bearable when they're happy. In a way it's like living on a college campus where football is king: joy abounds when the "W" is put up; gloom descends when an "L" is posted.
Now, for the insect in the unguent: I would be really delighted if the Redskins never win another Super Bowl because the owner, one Daniel Snyder, is a .... I was about to use intemperate language. Some people end up hugely rich and they seem to be proof that a quality man is not always the winner in the game of life. Witness Danny Boy Snyder. I'm seeing a world-class case of small man's syndrome and overweening arrogance. But I'm not rich. Maybe I'm just really, really jealous.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

And So It Begins
I'd like to first thank my fellowblogger Paul for the interesting and useful post below. I'm already getting into a couple things I wasn't aware of before.
New Year's Eve: spent with friends, a wonderful dinner of grilled swordfish and a couple of glasses of Dom Perignon (truly an excellent champagne but at $100 a bottle, hard to justify when Moet makes a $30 White Star that is wonderful, by which I mean: Thanks!) and a display of a guitar collection that just knocks your socks off. I learned a lot about the history of the electric guitar last night. It might even stick. Watched the ball drop on Times Square and headed home, tired but not quite ready to drop into slumber. So after several hours of fitful sleep, I am here - posting to the blog. Wishing you all a very happy New Year. I just have the feeling that come March I'll realize that I'm still hopelessly mired in 2005. D'oh!

I can't call these the Best of 2005 because I haven't given them that much thought. This is a blog after all. If you want to read one man's list of the Best Desktop Applications of 2005 go here.

The topic of this post is places to visit if you haven't already.

Cool Product: TomTom This one has been getting quite a bit of advertising in the trade magazines. The BlogDog had mentioned he wanted suggestions for gadgets for a new auto and this qualifies.

A Combination of Good Design and Interesting Content:
1. Neave
2. Magnetic North
3. Favorite Website Awards

Good Informational Sites:
1. Reddit
2. Digg
3. Life Hacker