Hope you're fully functional on one less hour of sleep today... because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Persecution? My very first bullet of the day got a little out of control, so I'm saving it for an entry of its own tomorrow. Don't you love it when that happens? I'm a blog entry ahead for once!
• No Sale! Ke$ha has exited rehab... and celebrated the occasion by dropping the dollar-sign from her name! Say wha-?!? So now Ke$ha is Kesha and I'm not sure what that's going to mean for the future. Hopefully it still includes her working a metal plate on her crotch with a metal grinder, because isn't that what we all expect out of Ke$ha... errr... Kesha?
Whatever she calls herself, best of luck as she gets out of rehab and moves on with her life and her music.
• Enlisted! This show is so much better than it has a right to be...
Seriously. I had -zero- hope for this series. The ads all looked stupid-horrible. The concept of three brothers in the Army sounded lame. The only reason I bothered to tune in at all was because I liked Geoff Stults in The Finder. After the first episode, I was in shock that I liked it. The show was more smart than stupid... more funny than not. After the second episode, I was upset that I ended up liking it even more. Now I've just given up all pretenses of hating Enlisted and enjoy watching it. If you haven't given it a try, and you like comedy, it might be worth a look.
• Wenatchee! The valley in which I live is abuzz over this pretty new promo video that was released this week...
What's odd... or maybe it's not odd at all... is that the video barely touches on the City of Wenatchee itself. They fly above it. They explore around it. They look at it from afar. But I'm guessing only 5% of the footage actually takes place there. City streets, buildings, parks, public spaces, services, and all the other stuff that someone visiting Wenatchee proper would recognize and see... it's all condensed into a few seconds. Growing up in this area, I used to think that Wenatchee was a boring shithole in the middle of some nice scenery. And while the city has grown and changed since those days... along with my attitude towards it... it seems as though the filmmakers felt the best thing about Wenatchee was getting the hell out of it. So I guess I can relate. I've been there. And I've been to Wenatchee too.
• Quark! For a hefty amount of time in computing history, desktop publishing was owned by a single company, Quark, and their software solution, QuarkXpress. It was a majestic mess of a program that I always hated... so much so that I would often-times use Adobe Illustrator for page layout, even though it was ill-equipped to handle that task. I didn't care. I'd rather juggle 50 separate Adobe Illustrator files than a single 50-page document in Quark because it was ultimately far less hassle. Even their "competition," PageMaker, which was woefully underpowered for serious DTP was a better choice. Quark was a buggy, crash-prone mess that ate up so much time, money, and resources that anything was a better solution. Then Adobe came out with InDesign, which was sheer nirvana compared to shitty Quark, and I never looked back. Even when somebody sent me a Quark file to work with, I'd inevitably recreate the entire thing in InDesign from scratch because it would be less work than having to fire up Xpress to deal with it.
Whether that's your experience with Xpress mimics mine... or whether you loved it with a passion that InDesign could never match... anyone who has been touched by QuarkXpress should read this terrific article over at Ars about the rise and fall of a giant.
• HBO! And lastly? This fan-made mash-up trailer for Game of Thrones... as if it were airing in the 1990's... is pure genius, even if you know nothing about the show...
Seriously. This is a flawless victory so far as tributes go.
And now? Bullets be gone!
Posted on March 8th, 2014
Today was a piece of crap smothered by a pile of shit kind of day.
As if that weren't bad enough, everybody in North America living where Stupid Fucking Daylight Savings Time is observed has to "Spring Forward" with their clocks tonight. Which means there's one less hour of sleep tomorrow morning. Which means that everybody's internal clock is going to be fucked up for a couple weeks. Which means everybody's cranky and unproductive. Which means everybody is angry and nothing gets done...
Stupid Fucking Daylight Savings Time. I MEAN, COME ON! PICK A TIME SCHEME AND STICK WITH IT! SERIOUSLY, EITHER SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE OR JUST FUCKING PICK ONE. I DON'T EVEN GIVE A SHIT WHICH ONE... STANDARD TIME... DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME... AMERICAN SAMOA TIME... WHATEVER TIME YOU WANT. JUST STOP DICKING AROUND WITH THE DAMN CLOCKS!
Okay then. I'm good for six months now.
Posted on March 7th, 2014
Every time there's a mishap, problem, disaster, or close-call with a flight, I'm inevitably asked something along the lines of "You fly a lot... don't you worry about this happening to you?"
To which I always answer "No. Not even a little bit."
And every time I say it, I realize that people must think I'm lying... or dismissing them... or saying whatever I have to say to convince myself that I'm invincible. But I'm really not. And this is why...
That's a FlightRadar24 map of all the commercial planes in the air right now. Thousands of them. And here's a close-up look at what's flying over the mainland US alone...
That's pretty much going on all day long, though things shift a bit as some parts of the world go to sleep and other parts wake up. With this kind of traffic in the air 24/7, it's easy to see how flying truly IS one of the safest activities you can do. My drive to the airport is a far, far more dangerous journey than my upcoming flight to Europe.
And so no, I don't worry about flying.
Not even a little bit.
If it happens, it happens. But the odds are so mind-bogglingly low that it's just not worth fretting over.
Getting trapped in a middle-seat between a smelly person and a crying baby however?
My deepest sympathies to everyone affected by the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370.
Posted on March 6th, 2014
Two weeks until I blow this popsicle stand for twelve whole days...
Guess I should really start making plans and stuff.
Posted on March 5th, 2014
The video was recorded on an old VHS tape which had been in service far past the point it should have been discarded. Carter's annoyance with the badly degraded image caused his right eye to twitch, but nobody in the room seemed to notice.
"Look! Look at this!" Carter said as his finger punched the rewind button yet again. Then, for what seemed like the fiftieth time, he pressed play.
The VCR lurched into action with a heavy "clunk" as the tiny television came to life.
A nondescript convenience store materialized out of a wash of video noise. The image was so bleached of color that it might as well have been black and white. The camera was focused on the service counter where a young man was ringing up purchases into a cash register. His customer, a middle-aged man in a full business suit, stood waiting with his wallet open.
There was no sound, but everybody's imagination was filling in the blanks. A 2-liter bottle of Coke. Beep Beep Beep. A bag of OREO cookies. Beep Beep Beep. A roll of mints. Beep Beep.
The image began to shudder as a blast of jagged white lines started rolling through the picture. Then, just as suddenly as it had been obscured, the image cleared again. The store clerk had finished ringing up the man's purchases and was dumping everything into a plastic bag. The customer tossed a wad of bills on the counter as a woman appeared behind him holding a six-pack of beer in her left hand.
"Here it comes!" Carter whispered.
The woman, who had very dark skin, closely-cropped hair, and was wearing a magenta mini-skirt that burst out of the muted display like a signal flare, was talking to the man now. It was impossible to know what she was saying, but the man appeared calm and relaxed.
At least he was until she pulled a gun out of the breast pocket of her heavy black leather jacket and shot him twice in the heart.
Carter laughed with a high-pitched squeal and started rewinding the tape again. "Just look at you there with your big gun and stiletto heels! What a mess you made!"
"I know, I was there."
The woman from the video sat bound to a high-back chair. Her jacket was now splattered with blood that had dried to a dark carmine color. One of her eyes was swollen and her lip had been split. This time the blood was fresh and glistened a bright crimson.
"Yes. Yes... you... were," Carter said with a grumble as he pressed play for what seemed like the fifty-first time. The woman's eyes rolled back in her head as the scene started yet again.
"Tell me, Monica, because I truly am curious... who got to you? Who convinced you that betraying me was in your best interest? Who was it that deluded you into believing this was survivable?"
On the display, a store clerk was ringing up a 2-liter bottle of Coke. Now, in the recorded past, he's reaching for a bag of OREOs.
The woman tried to shift her position to something more comfortable, but the tubing that tied her to the chair was too tight. She tried twisting her torso to loosen her bonds, but was defeated. With nothing better to do, she began to speak. Carter stopped the tape and tossed the VCR remote on a nearby table.
"Your interdimensional friends, of course," Monica said, her voice eerily flat and expressionless. "They told me everything. They spoke to me from a beam of sunlight and told me that you were going to destroy the world."
If Carter was surprised, he didn't show it.
"But you're wrong about one thing. They never told me this was survivable. I have no delusions."
Now something changed on Carter's face. Fear?
The woman began to speak again, but her voice was drowned out by a high-pitched squeal. Carter and his assortment of hired killers were all covering their ears. Monica would have covered hers if she could, but she was tied to a chair and couldn't move. It didn't matter. The sound was growing louder, and nothing was going to stop it.
Despite the deafening audio assault hammering into her skull and the brilliant white glow clawing its way out of her chest, the woman smiled. She had sacrificed herself so that the whole world might live. She had atoned for her many sins and, if there were a heaven, she was guaranteed entry. After a decade of despair, she finally had something to smile about. She finally understood.
And then Monica exploded in ball of light, taking six city blocks with her.
Carter died wondering how things had gone so terribly wrong.
Sixteen dimensions away, a sunbeam quivers in amusement. Tomorrow he will shift back through the time stream and find something new to play with. But today? This refraction is over, and he's hungry. He wonders what frequency of photons will be served for dinner. There are no shadows in his world.
Posted on March 4th, 2014
IT'S FAT TUESDAY, PEOPLE!!!
I know I've posted this DaveToon before, but it's one of my all-time favorites. Just like New Orleans. Happy Mardi Gras, everybody...
And now I want a piece of King Cake.
Posted on March 3rd, 2014
There's some irony that my copy of the Kickstarter-backed book project I wonder what it's like to be dyslexic shows up the day after John Travolta transformed "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" while introducing the singer at the Oscars.
I, for one, don't know whether or not John Travolta has dyslexia. It doesn't show up in his Wikipedia profile, and a cursory Google search doesn't reveal an interview where he discusses it. When people talk about John Travolta having dyslexia, I think they are confusing him with fellow Scientologist Tom Cruise, who has stated that Scientology helped him to overcome his dyslexia. Honest mistake, I guess.
However... as somebody who lives with a mild form of dyslexia, I can say that mangling "Idina Menzel" into "Adele Dazeem" certainly feels like something which can be attributed to dyslexia. But not everybody with dyslexia experiences it the same way, so the only person who can say for sure whether it was a factor is... John Travolta.
All I can do is speculate based on my experience, which would go something like this...
For the most part, seeing words as being made up of letters is not how I read. The Roman alphabet upon which English writing is based has letterforms that easily transform or flipped around when viewed individually. Thus my mind can play havoc with "p" and "q" and "d" and "b"... all of which can be mistaken for each other. And that's just the beginning. English has numerous complexities that make understanding words from letters no easy chore.
Nope. How I seem to read is to recognize words by their shape... as most people do, to a certain extent. But since I ignore the letters, which can be confusing, the shape alone is critical to comprehension. Which is why there are many factors that lead to how easily and how quickly I can absorb something. The contrast between letter color and the background color... the size of the text... how far apart the letters are... how wide the letters are... how tired I am... etc. etc. etc. But the biggest factor by far? The typeface (or font) used. If things get too fancy or deviate too far from the standard letterforms I read 96% of the time, my reading speed takes a dive and things get a bit difficult...
As illustrated above, cursive fonts are the worst. Unlike "standard" serif and sans-serif fonts which maintain a distinct shape... cursive writing just degenerate into a mess of lines to me. There's no "form" for me to pull out of the words, so I have to struggle through the actual letters to try and figure out what I'm reading. As you can imagine, things like wedding invitations, fancy poetry journals, and the like can be a real bitch.
Which brings us to Adele Dazeem.
Reading by shape pretty much requires that most of the words you're reading are words you're familiar with and can recognize.
"Idina" and "Menzel" are not such words. Beautiful as it is, John Smith it ain't. Enter the dyslexic swapity-do, where syllables get shuffled in your head as you strugle to make sense of the letters and what they're spelling to you...
Now, I'm not making excuses here. I don't even know for sure if Travolta is dyslexic. If he is though... the pressure of presenting an unfamiliar and difficult name live in front of a bazillion Oscar viewers is going to be rough-going no matter how much you've prepared. Even if he memorized the intro, it's not a guarantee of success when words are a struggle for you. All I can say for sure is this: If John Travolta is dyslexic, I very much admire the guts it takes to put yourself in a high-pressure situation (like live television) where words are involved.
And while I think it's a bit harsh to make fun of someone who is challenged with something as fundamental as reading... having a sense of humor over stuff like this is kinda essential.
Thus I, Dawid Shunter, give you... The Adele Dazeem Name Generator!
Here's hoping your Monday was better than John Travolta's.
Unless you ARE John Travolta, in which case... I LOVED YOU IN PULP FICTION!