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Adrenaline

Posted on Friday, July 1st, 2011

Dave!After getting off work at 1:30am this morning, I drove back to my hotel half-dead. Not from the hour, but from having to work in-between work while working on work. It wears on you after a while.

So I get to my room, flop on the bed, then take out my disposable contact lenses and drop them on the nightstand so I can toss them in the garbage in the morning.

Then, after an unknown length of time, I suddenly remember that I don't have any replacement lenses or eyeglasses with me. Shiiiiiiiiiit! Adrenaline pumping I lunge out of bed and scramble to find the lamp. I somehow manage to retrieve my shriveling lenses and run to the bathroom where I oh-so-carefully attempt to rehydrate them with the saline I had bought earlier. Are they going to be wearable in the morning? Who knows. All I can do is let them soak overnight and hope.

I then headed back to bed so I could...

... STAY AWAKE ALL NIGHT ON AN ADRENALINE HIGH WORRIED THAT MY CONTACTS ARE RUINED AND I WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE TO DRIVE HOME.

And how was your night?

Eventually I give up on sleep and roll out of bed at 5:30am.

Heart pounding, I make my way to the bathroom and put my contact lenses in.

The are not at all comfortable, but they work.

So I get caught up on still more work for the next six hours with my scratchy eyes, then call in an order for a giant-size Da Vinci pizza from David's for my drive home. Yes, I've been eating pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner... but it's the best pizza in the universe, so what can you do?

Giant David's Da Vinci Pizza
Half with tomatoes to eat now. Half without for later so they don't get slimy.

The 3-1/2 hour drive home was agonizing*, but delicious...

Road Pizza!
Mmmmmm... yummy road pizza!

And so here I am. In eyeglasses at last. Blogging about my day.

Because I just can't help myself.

   
* Seriously, agonizing. I'm trying to recall a worse road trip I've ever taken, but I can't think of one. 3-1/2 hours driving through the middle of NOWHERE with burning eyeballs on NO sleep while physically and mentally exhausted? All the pizza in the world isn't going to fix that, no matter how amazing it is.

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Joke and Dagger Dept.

Posted on Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Dave!This past week the Mad Magazine blog has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of their most enduring and beloved features... Spy vs. Spy! Sadly, the strip's original creator, Antonio Prohías, died in 1998, but his brilliant creations have lived on. When I was a kid, I loved Spy vs. Spy. It was clever and, even more important to me at that point, extremely well-drawn. It was also one of my favorite parts of Mad and I collected every Spy vs. Spy book, sticker, toy, and game I could find.

And last night, in celebration of the anniversary, I read through my copy of Spy Vs. Spy: The Complete Casebook. The cartoons never get old, and hold up very well from even their earliest days.

   
DAVETOON: Spy vs. Spy

   
Apparently, Ron Howard is developing a Spy vs. Spy movie! I have no idea how that would work, but I admit to being intrigued. Animated? Live-Action? COMBINATION?!? Only Opie knows for sure.

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Bullet Sunday 239

Posted on Sunday, July 3rd, 2011

Dave!Oh, wipe your tears away... Sunday, bloody Sunday...

   
• Plus! Annnnd... Google debuted their "Google+" social media services this week. As a so-called "Facebook killer" it's pretty interesting. I like that its smarter at controlling who sees the things you post. I like being able to organize people into my "Circles"... which are kind of like old rotary phone dials...

Google Plus Circles

Of course, if you have a hundred friends, you can only see thirteen in your little dial until you click on it, but I guess that's better than nothing.

Except...

I've already got Facebook, Twitter, and this blog sucking up my time. Do I really need another "thing" cutting into my already mega-packed offline life? I mean, I suppose I can give up sleeping and going to the bathroom, but is Google+ really worth it? Time will tell.

   
• Colbert. This past week Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's Colbert Report received approval from the FEC to form his own Political Action Committee. But, unlike regular PACs, he formed a Super PAC which has no restrictions on the amount of money he can raise. I'm absolutely fascinated at the prospect of a comedian having access to a PAC, and can't wait to see how much he can raise and what he's eventually going to do with it.

So I donated some money. And got an autographed photo for my trouble...

Colbert Super PAC Autograph

Whatever he does with his money, I'm betting it's going to be a heck of a lot more interesting than what Sarah Palin has been doing with her PAC monies.

   
• Roundabout. I noted an article link over on Neil Turner's Blog about how the British roundabout is conquering the US. This is something I can confirm as true. Years ago, the only roundabouts I'd ever seen in the USA were in Massachusetts. But now they are popping up everywhere. The first I remember seeing in my home state of Washington was at the I-90 interchange in North Bend...

North Bend Roundabout
Image taken from Google Maps

And now, even small local cities like nearby Wenatchee are getting roundabouts.

The problem is that nobody here seems to know how to drive on them. Most of the time I've seen people encounter a roundabout, they full-stop instead of yield. And, even then, they don't know what to do, preferring to just sit there for a while until they get up the courage to enter. Hopefully this will change as they become more prevalent, but right now they're more trouble than they're worth.

   
• Arrietty. The next film by animation genius Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli is called Arrietty, and is based on the beloved book The Borrowers by Mary Norton. As with everything Miyazaki touches, it looks stunning...

My loved of all things Miyazaki is well documented. He has been a massive influence on me for decades, and his works are without peer in the animation world (the people at Pixar practically worship the man, for example). That he has continued to work after his "retirement" in 1998 has been a source of absolute joy to me, and seeing yet another film with his fingerprints on it makes me happier than I can possibly express. And while his role at Ghibli seems mostly supervisory now (though he appears to still be doing some writing and drawing too), he seems to have good people (including his son) carrying on his work...

Arietty English Poster Miyazaki

Arrietty was released in Japan almost a year ago and I have yet to see it. Today I learned that it won't reach the USA until FEBRUARY, 2012!! And while I would prefer to see the movie with the original Japanese soundtrack and subtitles, the North American release is certain to be an English dub (as usual). I don't even care. I just want to see it! Then hopefully the Blu-Ray release will preserve the Japanese version like Ponyo did. In the meanwhile... I wait.

   
And that's all she wrote since I have to get up early for work in the morning. Here's hoping all my fellow USAsians have a good holiday tomorrow!

   

Monstrous

Posted on Monday, July 4th, 2011

Dave!"Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, gullability, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind becomes a wreck."
— Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822

Of course, the people who most need to learn from that quote are the same people who will have no fucking clue what Jefferson was talking about, but that's America for you! Because reading is hard! Thinking is hard! Learning is hard!

Despite it all, our Founding Fathers did manage to get this country off to a pretty good start (well, the real Founding Fathers... not the fictional characters that so many politicians are using like magic bullets now-a-days). Sure there were a lot of inequalities, injustices, and other problems back then, but we were young. We had a lot of shit to work out. We had a lot of growing to do.

And, for a while there, things were going pretty well. Not everything got solved that needed to be solved, but we were moving in the right direction. And, while plenty more mistakes were made along the way, one could argue that we were trying. If nothing else, our hearts were in the right place.

But then things got fucked up. I don't know if its because we let success go to our heads... or starting looking at things as money issues instead of people issues... or maybe we just put the wrong people in charge of speaking for us... whatever the case, we seem to have lost our way. Businesses are more important than citizens. Wealth is more important than justice. Dogma is more important than freedom. Differences are more important than similarities. Ignorance is more important than truth.

And while I cling to minor victories in the face of the tempest of absurdities that tears at this country, I am slowly giving up hope that we will weather this monstrous storm. Entirely too many people have fallen to gullibility, idiocy, and hate. Many of them under the guise of faith in a country where faith is supposed to be tempered by reason.

Alas we have surrendered all reason and are now like a ship without a rudder.

Because reading is hard.

Because thinking is hard.

Because learning is hard.

Far easier to have people simply tell us what to believe.

Unfortunately, a great many of these people don't read, think, or learn either. They just make shit up... rewrite history... misrepresent people... ignore science... shun fairness... pass the blame...

At least I trust that's what's happening. Because intentionally making shit up, rewriting history, misrepresenting people, ignoring science, shunning fairness, and passing the blame... that would be evil wouldn't it?

And so here I sit on the 4th of July, our Independence Day, contemplating the stupidity and/or evil that challenges this nation. It makes it kind of difficult to celebrate the holiday, but a part of me is holding on to hope. Hope that eventually reason will prevail and we'll find our rudder...

Monkeyflag

Because when dumbfuck politicians continue to trot out our Founding Fathers to support their ridiculous arguments, people are going to eventually get curious as to who these people actually were. And let me tell you, Conservatives and Liberals alike are probably going to be surprised at what they find... especially when they start weeding out all the misquotes and fictitious garbage that's been attributed to thest historical figures throughout the years.

As always, the truth is far more complex and interesting than the out-of-context bullshit we're handed.

If only people would read, think, and learn to discover it.

Myself included.

Maybe one day.

Happy 4th of July, fellow United States of Americans!

   

Sandwiches

Posted on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Dave!My doctor-prescribed diet consists primarily of... shit.

I eat shit for breakfast. Shit for lunch. Shit for dinner, and... if I'm really good... shit for dessert. And it's not so much that I mind eating healthy shit in an effort to actually be healthy, it's that there are other factors at play. Like the heat. It's been crazy hot lately. I am laying in bed right now at 10:30pm with a fan pointed at my head and two ice-packs under my neck. As if that weren't enough, my workload has been insane. From 5:00pm Friday until 8:00am this morning I logged 37 hours. Some three-day weekend.

Which is to say that the prospect of coming home to a shit sandwich* for dinner was unacceptable. At least tonight it was.

So I decided to ignore my doctor and go out to a restaurant so I could eat actual shit, filled with all those things I'm supposed to be avoiding.

And it was delicious.

Even if it was just the Olive Garden.

   
   
* I'm not meaning a literal shit sandwich here... mostly because I'm not allowed to have bread.

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Birthdays

Posted on Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

Dave!I've been mostly out of touch for the past several days, which is what happens when you spend every waking minute trying to get caught up with work before leaving for a week.

So I can then get behind all over again.

Two of my favorite lovely ladies in the blogosphere are celebrating milestone birthdays!

Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey with Happy Birthday Cakes!

Becky turned 40 yesterday! I first met Becky at TequilaCon 2008 in Philadelphia. Since then we've bumped into each other at blogging events such as Avitaween and ConFab (where I learned that Becky packs a knife, and will totally cut a bitch for reals). By the time we first met that fateful day in May, I had already known Becky for months (thanks to the power of the internet) and thought she was awesome. But her online awesomeness pales when compared to her in-person awesomeness. Meeting Becky is not just a happening, it's an event. An experience. You fall in love with her instantly and become insanely jealous when she's talking to somebody who's not you. Despite turning you into a psychotic stalker, I highly recommend The Becky Experience if you even have the opportunity.
CRAZY-ASS BECKY TRIVIA MOMENT! For years on the internet, Becky was known as "Hello Haha Narf." When she first started appearing, I remember people asking me what in the hell that meant. I told them I didn't know. But the truth is I really did. Pinky and the Brain is one of the greatest cartoons ever made, so of course I know that "Hello Haha Narf" was how Pinky started his letter to Santa in the Christmas episode. To this day I have no idea why I lied. Maybe because I thought it was Becky's story to tell. Maybe because I liked the idea that I knew something about Becky other people didn't. Maybe I thought it was funny. Or maybe in addition to turning you into a psychotic stalker, Becky also turns you into a lying liar who lies. The world may never know.

Suebob turns 50 today! Unfortunately, I haven't met Suebob in person yet. I came really close in 2007 when she was going to come to Dave L.A. but didn't for some reason. Probably because after she said she was planning on coming, she took a minute to actually read my blog and decided for her personal safety and sanity that she shouldn't. And that's okay. I totally understand. If I read the crazy crap I write on Blogography, I would be afraid to meet me too. So no hard feelings. You go ahead and have a happy birthday, Suebob, and try not to think of me sitting at Lucky Strike sobbing quietly while asking everyone that passes "Where is Suebob? Have you seen Suebob?" Because I will be okay. Eventually. =sniff!= For the past 50 days, Suebob has been featuring charities on her blog where people can make a donation in lieu of a present (including my favorite charity). They are worthy organizations all, so please drop by and donate to somebody on her list if you have a few bucks to spare.
CRAZY-ASS SUEBOB TRIVIA MOMENT! Suebob's blog is called The Red Stapler. I actually have a red stapler at work! It's a beautiful Swingline 747 stapler that I bought way back in 2002 and it still operates perfectly today. I think Swingline made red staplers specifically because Milton had one in Office Space, and it looked so cool that everybody wanted one. At least I know I did... but I had to wait three years before I could buy one.

Happiest of birthdays to you both!

   

Blogtastrophe

Posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Dave!My blog died last night.

And a part of me was wanting to let it go.

That lasted about fifteen minutes. Then I started freaking out at the prospect of eight years of Blogography being flushed down the toilet. So I started going back through all the steps I took to upgrade my database to see if I could figure out what went wrong. When that didn't pan out, I started pouring over my backups to see if I could reconstruct the data. No luck. So I gave up.

Today I looked at it on my lunch hour, but gave up again. Then after work I finally called tech support.

An hour later, everything was back to normal.

Just in time for me to start packing my suitcase...

DAVETOON: Bad Monkey Packing a Gun

I've got a loooooooooong day ahead of me tomorrow.

   

Flight

Posted on Friday, July 8th, 2011

Dave!Despite delays, more delays, and a 55-minute wait for my luggage... it was pretty much smooth sailing...

DAVETOON: Nyan Bad Monkey!

   

   
I love it when cool stuff like this goes viral.

   

Balls!

Posted on Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Dave!Sometimes I feel like the luckiest person alive.

Had a fantastic evening with some fantastic blogger friends here in Atlanta...

Atlanta Blogger Meet

And though I tend not to use the word "adore" very much... Anissa Mayhew, whom I adore and love more than chocolate pudding... was in attendance after too many Davelantas past. We missed you.

Missed you bad.

It's hard to believe that it was two whole years ago you were nibbling on my balls* at The Cheesecake Factory you naughty minx you...

Everybody except Julie at Davelanta 3

And then this year, as if to prove that we can't have an Atlanta blogger meet without somebody being in the hospital, Geeky Tai-Tai decided to get pneumonia.

Hope you're feeling better, Geeky Tai-Tai!

   
   
*Deep-fried macaroni-and-cheese balls... get your mind out of the gutter, people!

   

Bustin’

Posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Dave!Tonight's the night!

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave & Bad Monkey Ghostbusters

  

  

   

Waverly

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011

Dave!I don't know that I believe in ghosts. Though I am certainly open to the possibility.

Which is why I was thrilled when my good blogging friend, Heather (aka Coal Miner's Granddaughter), invited me to an investigation last night with the Paranormal Georgia Investigations team to "one of the most haunted places in the world"... Waverly Hills Sanatorium! And while I'm not sure I witnessed anything paranormal, it was a heck of a lot of fun. Especially since Avitable and The Muskrat were there too.

The place is most definitely creepy at times. Even when illuminated...

Waverly Hills Exterior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

Waverly Hills Interior

So you can just imagine what it looks like when it's dark.

For October, the place is dressed up for Halloween to make a haunted house. There's plenty of spooky paintings on the walls left over...

Waverly Hills Halloween Paintings

Waverly Hills Halloween Paintings

I tried my best to be a good investigator by putting all my energy into my senses so I could best seek out anything unexplainable. This is kind of overwhelming, and resulted in my mind going all fuzzy for the first couple of hours, but eventually everything kind of mellowed out and I was able to maintain focus and be hyper-observant of my surroundings without too much effort...

PGI Team Members (Paranormal Georgia Investigations)

Along the way, there were plenty of "what was that?" moments. Including an extended conversation with a spirit that was messing around with a flashlight (though it was entirely possible it was just an extended conversation with a flashlight). I wanted quite badly for ghosts to be involved in our hunt (and maybe they were!), but even putting that aside, the actual technical side of the investigation was absolutely fascinating.

And, as if that wasn't enough, I got to see my very first lightning bug!

I was bringing up the rear of our team, hanging back in the shadows looking for anything out of the ordinary. As I was walking down the hall, I saw a green blinking LED light. At first I thought it might be one of the K-II EMF meters we were using but, when I got up to it, I saw it was actually a little bug blinking on and off! I wasn't able to get a photo of him glowing, so I've Photoshop-simulated what I saw...

Lightning Bug!

Now, for people who live in the South and see this all the time, it's probably not a big deal. But I was over-the-moon thrilled since I had never seen one before. And it was different than I expected because I had no idea that they would be so bright! As the night went on, I saw quite a few of them blinking on-and-off, which was very cool indeed.

When I got back to the hotel at 4:00am, I was entirely too tired to do much of anything. But this morning I started looking at my photos. Very, very carefully. I was looking for any odd shadows or (gasp!) faces and apparitions like I had seen in the photos we were shown at Waverly. For each photo I would use Photoshop to open up the shadows and then examine each of the RGB channels for anything mysterious. It was a tedious process, but I took the time to go on the trip, so I wanted to put the time into doing things right.

As I got to the photos where the sun was going down, I found this image...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Kind of nifty composition and contrast, but nothing terribly special. I then opened up the shadows and suddenly noticed two green spots. Naturally, I was thrilled, thinking that I had managed to catch two lightning bugs in mid-glow...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

But when I zoomed in, it wasn't lightning bugs at all. It was just flawed pixels on my camera sensor. As anybody who has done work on digital photos knows, occasionally you get spots in Red, Green, or Blue because those are the colors which camera images are broken down into so they can be recorded. The spots are usually so small that they go unnoticed and, if they are noticeable, I just fix them in Photoshop, so it's not a big deal. My camera's most noticeable sensor flaw is a red dot which appears along the bottom-center in every image I take... even going back months...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

But, when I scrolled around this particular image, I started noticing RGB spots everywhere...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

The spots were so numerous that I thought I might have damaged my camera sensor somehow, because in all the time I've owned it, I've never seen so many of them. But, when I went to earlier and later images, the new spots were nowhere to be found. It was only on this image. And while they show up most everywhere, I picked out some random spots to enlarge here...

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

Waverly RGB Snow Image

I just spent the past two hours going back through image after image of everything I have on my laptop, and the new spots never appear in any other photograph. It's as if the number of flaws on my camera's sensor increased fifty-fold, then went back to normal. Or not. I dunno.

And while I would never claim that this is any kind of evidence of paranormal activity... well... it is something that I cannot explain. Maybe it's a natural phenomena which happens under certain lighting conditions. Maybe some camera function I had in place is to blame. Maybe it's dust. Maybe somebody has a perfectly good non-paranormal explanation. But a cursory Google search turns up nothing. So, again, I dunno.

Because even more so than before I went ghost-hunting... my mind is open to anything.

UPDATE: I was asked if the "RGB Snow" formed a pattern of any kind. If it does, I certainly can't see it. Below is the image where I've enlarged the spots by placing a dot on top...

Waverly RGB Snow ENLARGED

Some of the brighter white spots I put a grey dot on top of. Those are probably dust, but they are brighter than any any spots I saw on other photos. There may be pixel problems in the bright areas, but I think they'd be masked by the light.

   

Bullet Sunday 240 – PART ONE

Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Dave!Yeah, yeah, it's Bullet Sunday ON TUESDAY! What can I say, this has been a crazy week with a lot going on. Fasten your seat-belts...

   
• Billboard! Speaking of Sunday... we left Atlanta, Georgia around 8:00am for the long 6-hour drive up to Louisville, Kentucky for some ghost-hunting. It was, for the most part, an uneventful drive. I spent most of the trip watching for billboard signs. This may seem crazy-stupid to most people who try their best to ignore billboards, but I'm from Washington State where they are illegal, so I find them fascinating...

Billboard Big Daddy Fireworks
A huge number of signs are for fireworks stands. Often times these places are open 24-hours, which is even more inexplicable than the fact that you can make a living selling fireworks. How often does one have a fireworks emergency at 2:00am?

Billboards for Jesus
Billboards for Jesus were also very popular. These I don't understand... they give you a message, but no follow-up? No church you should visit? No advice to read The Bible? Nothing? I guess these are just reminders in case Christians forget or something?

Billboard Pistol
Just in case you're driving down the highway and decide you need a gun on the spur of the moment? Or maybe you left your firearm at home and need to pick one up along the way to grandma's house? I'm guessing it's more likely there for men on their way home to a cheating wife or women on their way home to a cheating husband.

Billboard Dino
Some billboards need a little extra attention. A life-size dinosaur apparently does the trick.

Billboard Winnebago
While technically not a billboard, I thought this was kind of nifty. A Christian cowboy who wants everybody to know that he's a Christian cowboy perhaps? Note that the horse is not kneeling down. Obviously he's some kind of satan-worshipping atheist or something.

   
• MEGA! On Tuesday morning, our group decided not to rush back to Atlanta and instead decided to hang around Louisville for the day. First stop? MEGA CAVERN! It's an impossibly massive man-made cavern that has actually been back-filled so that the ceiling isn't 90-feet in the air and they can actually run a business there. Tourists, of course, can also go on a tram ride around the place...

MEGA CAVERN Trams
Into the mouth of the MEGA CAVERN!!!

MEGA CAVERN Sign
Before going on the trams, there are signs like this to make you feel safer about descending into the bowels of the earth.

MEGA CAVERN Post-Apocalypse
At one time, MEGA CAVERN was designated a massive fallout shelter in the event of nuclear war. The dioramas they had depicting life underground was so depressing that I'd rather run to ground zero and die a quick death.

MEGA CAVERN Post-Apocalypse Shelter
But, if you think a miserable life underground would be better than death, then you're in luck! For $10,000 per person, you can reserve a spot!

   
• Slugger! And, of course, what would a visit to Louisville be without a visit to the Louisville Slugger factory and museum?...

Louisville Slugger Museum
My, what a big bat you have!

Louisville Slugger Diorama
Just like MEGA CAVERN, the museum using dioramas to help explain their history.

Slugger Museum Griffey Statue
SEATTLE REPRESENT! Even if it is just a creepy lifelike statue of Ken Griffey Jr.

Slugger Museum Bat
You can see famous Louisville Slugger bats from all kinds of baseball players old and new... including Babe Ruth!

   
• Balls! If you ever find yourself in Louisville at Fat Jimmy's Pizza, his Hot Buttered Balls are highly recommended!

Fat Jimmy's Hot Buttered Balls!

   
And that catches me up through yesterday. Tomorrow? PART TWO! Which will hopefully get me caught up through today. Or one would hope.

   

Bullet Sunday 240 – PART TWO

Posted on Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Dave!And here's the finale of my "Bullet Sunday on Tuesday" post from yesterday...

   
• Corvette! One of my favorite museums on the planet is the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. While I am not a gear-head nor am I a Corvette owner, I have had a long-time love affair with these rolling works of art for as long as I can remember. This is not my first trip to the museum, but my fourth, and they seem to have added on since I was here last...

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

National Corvette Museum

If you're ever in the area, I give the National Corvette Museum two thumbs up.

   
• Wreckage! On the way up to Louisville this past Sunday, we saw two wrecks. One was quite severe, with the car flipped completely over the guard-rail, standing almost vertical. For the life of me I couldn't figure out how it happened, because it appeared that the car hit the railing head-on, which was impossible. Coming back yesterday afternoon, we saw another vehicle run off the road at a bizarre head-on angle. This time a fuel tanker!

Gas Truck Crash!

Since you could smell the gasoline, I was shocked that they were still allowing traffic through. It seemed as though the truck could have blown at any minute (though that might be something that happens in the movies more often than real life). But however it managed to hit how it did, I can't help but wonder how it happened. Are people playing video games on their iPhones while they drive? Texting? Sexting? What?!? All these weird accidents are making me near-terrified to drive anymore. If they can hit the guard rails so hard to bust through or flip over, heaven only knows what would happen if they ran into my car.

   
• Work It! I spent my entire day locked-up in my hotel room working. The only time I left was to eat dinner, which was at the hotel restaurant. As expected, it was awful. For some reason they just can't seem to put good eateries in hotels. This is borderline-tragic for frequent travelers who don't have time to go hunting for an outside restaurant, since it means you're eating a lot of crappy food over the years. I know I've certainly had my share. I'd like to promise myself that I won't make this mistake ever again, but I know better. Pepto-Bismol here I come...

   
And now I'm caught up to today. Sometimes miracles happen.

   

Sleepless

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Dave!Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...

Monkey Madness: Step 1

   

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Restless

Posted on Friday, July 15th, 2011

Dave!Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...

Monkey Madness: Step 2

   

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Madness

Posted on Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Dave!Lack of sleep is starting to have an effect...

Monkey Madness: Step 3

   

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Bullet Sunday 241

Posted on Sunday, July 17th, 2011

Dave!I write this knowing full-well that I won't be able to publish it until Monday since I don't have internet. Oh well, I guess it's bullets on delay.

   
• Marriott. Playing Priceline Roulette for an airport at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Aiport South region almost always results in one of two properties... Westin or Marriott. Though I seem better suited to the Westin, the Marriott has a lot going for it (best hotel shuttle ever!), so I wasn't at all disappointed I ended up here on Friday night. About the only thing I don't care for is the hotel restaurant. Not that it's bad... I've never gotten sick there or anything... I'm just not partial to the food. So I Yelped for nearby restaurants, and found one right at the back of the hotel. In fact, I could see it out my window. Pulling it up on Google Maps it looks like this...

Marriott Entrapment Map

Simple, right? Just walk out the back of the hotel, cut through the tennis courts, then cross a street.

Well, no. Not really.

   
• Entrapment, Part One. The tennis courts were closed and gated off for some reason. No big deal, I'll just walk around. But, no, the back gates to the hotel were locked off completely...

Marriott Entrapment Map UPDATE!

Irritating, but I guess that's how you keep random people who are not hotel guests from using your pool, so okay.

   
• Entrapment, Part Two. Since I can't go through the hotel, I'll just go around it, right? WRONG! There's a big ol' locked fence at the back of the hotel lot!

Marriott Entrapment Map UPDATE!

   
• Entrapment, Part Three. So this means the ONLY way to get to a restaurant that's within spitting distance of the hotel, is to completely exit the hotel property and walk all the way around...

Marriott Entrapment Map UPDATE!

Which sucks, right? But that's not even the worst part. Not only does the Marriott block you from leaving their property out the back... THERE'S NO FUCKING SIDEWALKS SO YOU CAN ESCAPE OUT THE FRONT EITHER!!

Marriott Exit Sidewalk
Here's your sidewalk, muthafucker! All six inches of it, bitch!

What the fuck? I mean, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK?!? All I can think of is that they don't want you to leave unless you drive out. Any attempt to walk out of the fucking place means you either have to climb a fence or walk down a dangerous driveway with no sidewalks and cars bombing up and down at reckless speeds all day long. How fucking stupid is that?

   
• Dinner! And so I finally manage to get to the restaurant... Joe's on Sullivan... after wandering around the Marriott's property for a half-hour trying not to get run over and killed. How was it? Well, the service was decent. The food was okay, though my "black bean burger" was falling apart so badly it was hard to eat and the potato salad tasted like it came from a can. But, overall I was happy to have made the effort to get there.

Until I started getting cramps on my way back to the hotel...

   
• Distress. By the time I managed to get back to my room, my stomach was in turmoil and I was sweating so bad that it was dripping down my face. All I wanted to do was lie down, but I had to take a quick detour to the bathroom so my intestines and stomach could explode... FOR THE NEXT SIXTEEN HOURS! In all honesty, I have no idea where it all came from. I'm confident I crapped and puked my entire body weight three times over, but it would not stop. Any attempt to keep down medication was futile, because it would just come right back up. And then, just as I was considering calling for a ride to a hospital... I passed out. When I woke up, I was really queasy, but at least I wasn't leaking bodily fluids any more.

   
• Stung. Since I got off work early and had an entire Saturday free, my plan was to spend the day in downtown Atlanta goofing off, then go to Johnny Rockets for dinner. Around noon yesterday, I pulled myself together and took the hotel shuttle to the airport so I could ride MARTA rail into town. But I didn't make it any further than the airport. I was feeling so awful that just the thought of 25 minutes on a train was enough to make me want to die. So I got a mini pizza from the airport atrium, then went back to the shuttle stop... WHERE I WAS STUNG BY A BEE! Right on my hand. Which caused my finger to swell up like a baloon. Could things get any worse?

   
• Worse. Why yes, things can get worse! I get back to my hotel room so I can finalize the next issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine (which is amazing... you have no idea) only to find that typing with my bee-stung hand is excruciating. On top of that, lunch seems to have made me sick all over again, because I can barely sit upright without feeling like I'm going to puke my guts out. So there I am... laying in bed rolled in a ball, typing one-handed on my laptop on a Saturday night.

   
• Worser. I could go into greater detail, but suffice to say that my Sunday went like this... 1) Wake up sick. Still. 2) Find out my headphones are broke. 3) See that my finger isn't swollen anymore, but it aches worse than ever. 4) Have to sit next to a gum-smacking whore on the hotel shuttle back to the airport. 5) Find out my flight is delayed, and I might be missing my connecting flight in Seattle. 6) Somebody opens a can of fish on the plane, which already smells like somebody peed on the floor. 7) Arrive with time to spare to catch your connecting flight, but find out it's clear across the airport. 8) Finally make it back home, but find out your luggage didn't. 9) Arrive home and find out that the internet isn't working. 10) Finally get to my own bed after a week of very little sleep, only to find that I can't fall asleep. Best. Sunday. Ever.

And on that happy note, I suppose I should take some drugs to see if I can force myself to sleep. That aught to make for a fun Monday-morning at work...

   

Soon…

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2011

Dave!The second issue of Thrice Fiction Magazine was completed this weekend. There are a few small details to wrap up that we're trying to get resolved as quickly as possible, but hopefully it'll be ready to launch in a day or two. Everything turned out seriously awesome, so RW and I can't wait for everybody to get their retinas on it.

In the meanwhile, I'll go ahead and tease you with the cover like RW did yesterday...

Thrice002_Render.jpg

Yes. Yes, I know. Beautiful, isn't it?

The incomparable Echo Chernik allowed us to use her amazing art on the cover. Just like the theme for the issue, it's perfect.

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Reviewed

Posted on Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Dave!Getting a whole six hours sleep last night (pharmaceutically-induced, alas) was everything I dreamed it would be.

Anyway, just a few things I keep forgetting to review...

   
• Chilly Pad! A while back I was shopping for a soldier at AnySoldier.com (which I talk about here and here) when I was told about a product by Frogg Toggs called "Chilly Pad." It was billed as some kind of "cooling towel" that sucks the heat away via evaporation. That sounded like a load of crap to me, but who am I to deny a soldier something to make his life easier... especially if it only costs $12? Just for kicks, I ordered one for myself too.

Imagine my shock when, holy crap, it actually works!

Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad

Just pour some water on it and be amazed as the super-evaporation cells go to work, causing the darn thing to become cool to the touch! Amazing! For the ultimate test, I wore one around my neck on my trip to Waverly Hills where there was a heat index of 105° and was pretty darn comfortable the entire time. I now keep one in the trunk of my car and will always have them on hand to send with my AnySoldier care packages. Worth checking out! I got mine at Sports Authority, but I'm sure they're available other places too.

   
• Spotify! Europeans have been enjoying the music mega-service Spotify for years, but Americans have been left out. Until now. For those unfamiliar, Spotify has a massively huge database of music available for streaming. In order to get at it, you have to sign up for an account. Free accounts are ad-supported and have a song limit. Unlimited accounts ($4.99/mo.) are ad-free, allow unlimited songs to be streamed, and have added sharing and organizational features. Premium accounts ($9.99/mo.) have even more features (like the ability to listen offline and stream to your mobile phone) and better sound quality. Free accounts weren't available yet, so I went for the $4.99/mo. Unlimited package.

The biggest selling point of Spotify is that they have a plain crazy-huge collection of songs. They pretty much boast that they have any track you want...

Spotify Creed

Except they really don't. There are many songs both obscure and popular I wanted to listen to which aren't available. That alone is a bummer, but what makes it unbearable is that a big chunk of their library is karaoke versions of songs, and every frickin' search you make is literally overwhelmed with karaoke crap I have absolutely no interest in.

Here's an example. Today I wanted to listen to Miley Cyrus's The Time of Our Lives (don't judge until you listen to it... it's a nice song!). Spotify doesn't have it available. What they do have is four karaoke versions...

Spotify Karaoke

WTF? And it gets worse when you do more generic searches like "Hall & Oates" where you get all kinds of karaoke shit mixed in. After a while, I figured out that you can do restrictive searches to cut out karaoke. Well, most karaoke... not all karaoke songs are described properly...

Spotify Karaoke Minus

This should be an option in preferences to get rid of karaoke tracks if you don't want to see them, but I couldn't find one so I have to instead add "-karaoke" to every search, which is a pain in the ass. Other irritations? The Spotify app is clutzy and unintuitive compared to the iTunes interface I'm used to. I've also experienced "outages" of a sort, where certain artists simply will not play. Today I tried for quite a while to listen to Weird Al's new Alpocalypse album without success.

As you might guess, my final verdict is more negative than positive. I will be happy to keep my free account for occasional ad-supported listening, but I'm going to cancel my $4.99 "Unlimited" membership. Perhaps eventually they'll address my issues and I'll find it worthwhile, but for now I'm giving it a pass.

   
• Suits! Burn Notice. White Collar. Covert Affairs. Fairly Legal. Psych. When it comes to successes, USA Network has a pretty good track record for airing some really good television shows. Because of this, I'm willing to give any new show they come up with a shot. Their latest, Suits, sounded good on paper... but I wasn't sure how it was going to play out on the screen...

USA Network

The story premise is that of a very smart guy with a photographic memory, Mike Ross (played by Patrick J. Adams) who tries to escape his dicey past by going to work at a prestigious law firm. He passed the bar on a dare, but doesn't have a law degree. His new boss (played by Gabriel Macht) is impressed enough to hire him anyway. The result is an uneasy partnership that is beneficial to both of them, even if they have to hide Mike's true nature from everybody at the firm.

And it works.

It works very well.

The cast is fantastic (Gina Torres!), the writing is sharp, the stories are smart, and the show as a whole is entertaining. My only concern is how long they can keep the premise interesting. Will people eventually find out about Mike? Will his scary past catch up with him? In all honesty, it doesn't really matter, and I hope they don't keep hanging the show on them when there's no need to do so.

Right now? Highly recommended. Only time will tell if they can keep it that way.

   
• Fotopedia! If you're a fan of travel photography and have an iOS device, run... don't walk... to the iTunes Store and grab everything you can from Fotonauts. Their Fotopedia apps have always been great, but the new stuff they've been cranking out has been amazing. North Korea (free) and Dreams of Burma (free) are well worth your time... but their latest collaboration with National Geographic, Above France ($2.99) is stunning...

Above France App!

Above France App!

Above France App!

They work on iPhone but, obviously, have a better presentation on iPad. Highest possible recommendation.

   
And now... bed. And hopefully another night of half-way decent sleep.

   

Lion

Posted on Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Dave!And so Apple released the latest iteration of their Macintosh operating system, MacOS X 10.7 "Lion."

As a Certified Apple Whore, I am compelled to blog about it. But it's kind of a silly prospect, because other sites have done such a comprehensive job of going over the features. What I think I'll do is just go over some of the things I really like and really hate. Starting... NOW!

   
• Installer. In a move that harkens back to the day that Apple decided to abandon the floppy disk with the iMac... then abandon the CD drive with the MacBook Air... Apple has abandoned the media for distributing Lion at $29. No installation CDs or DVDs... you buy the upgrade directly from the Mac App Store (though apparently there's a USB thumb-drive version coming in August for $69). This gave me some pause, but I had TWO full backups, so I just rolled with it. Everything went flawlessly. There's even some wizardry in the background to give you a "magical" partition on your drive so you have an emergency backup available if something goes wrong since there's no DVD to boot from. Nice! Eventually I probably will burn a DVD and do a clean install just to clear out some junk I've accumulated over the years, but overall, things couldn't have gone better.
SIMPLICITY FACTOR? 9.9 (out of 10)

   
• Fuller. One idea that I've historically hated is the idea of an app taking over the entire screen. It just "feels" wrong to not be able to see and manipulate stuff in other windows while you're in the current window. But after playing with iPhone and iPad for a while, you just get used to it. And now I actually prefer it. Yes, it makes things like "drag-and-drop" impossible, but the tradeoff is that you get maximum screen real estate to work with. On a cramped laptop, that's gold! Lion provides developers the ability to make their apps go full-screen with the click of a button. As of now, only Apple seems to have the feature baked in, but hopefully other apps will be getting the ability to go full-boat soon. HOWEVER... there is one small, yet highly frustrating, problem. When you go full-screen, the menu bar disappears. To get it back, you put your cursor at the top of the screen... AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT! Well, that's an exaggeration, kind-of, but if I need my fucking menu bar, I NEED IT NOW, dammit! I have no idea if this is because of some animation going on or what, but it completely sabotages the usefulness of going full-screen.

MacOS X Lion Full-Screen

It is absolutely ridiculous that you don't have an option to "Always Show Menu Bar" for full-screen apps! There's some useful shit up there... like a clock... and your battery level... and all kinds of stuff I want to be able to look at. But you can't until you shove your mouse up there and wait. And wait. And wait.
IDIOCY FACTOR? 10 (out of 10)

   
• Gestures. The "new school" way of providing computer input is "gestures," which is done by swiping, pinching, rotating, and performing other motions on a touch-screen or touch-pad or track-pad or touch-mouse. The iPhone and iPad have used stuff like this since day one. Want to shrink a photo? Pinch it! Want to enlarge a photo? Stretch it! I find such input to be natural, intuitive, and efficient. Apple obviously agrees, because they've expanded the use of gestures in a very big way. There's lots of them...

MacOS X Lion Gestures

And, let me tell you, once you get used to gestures, you will never want to go back. Just having the ability to swipe with two fingers to go backwards and forwards through browsing history without having to move the cursor up to a button you press... well, it's genius...

MacOS X Lion Swipe Gesture

I am adapting to the gestures very, very quickly. I love them. A lot. So much, that I will be buying a "Magic Track-Pad" for my desktop Mac.
AWESOME FACTOR? 9.9 (out of 10)

   
• Mission Control. Apple has done a really cool thing in combining "Spaces" (virtual desktops), "Dashboard" (widgets), full-screen apps, and open windows into a single interface called "Mission Control"...

MacOS X Lion Mission Control

And, thanks to gestures, it's always available! Just swipe up with three fingers and BLAM! there it is! In theory, I like it a lot. In practice? Not so much. Partly because its kind of a mess to take in all at once... but mostly because YOU CANNOT FUCKING REARRANGE YOUR "SPACES" VIRTUAL DESKTOPS! They're just stuck there. This sabotages the usefulness of another gesture I love... swiping right and left with three fingers to switch between your full-screen apps and your virtual desktops. Have ten Spaces open and want to arrange them so that you can swipe between them with the most efficiency? TOUGH SHIT! You can't! You have to swipe through nine fucking screens to get back and forth between two that you'd really like to have next to each other. Your only choices when configuring the arrangement of Spaces in preferences is whether you want them auto-arranged or not. NO option to manually arrange them.
DUMBASSERY FACTOR? 8.8 (out of 10)

   
• Save Me. The "Save File" dialog box is now hopelessly fucked for productivity. It used to be that you option-clicked on an existing filename in the dialog, and you would get that filename automatically populated in your filename save field. This is handy for overwriting a current file... but more useful as a way of modifying an exiting filename into a new filename (e.g. clicking on "BigFile_001.jpg" so you can save a file as "BigFile002.jpg". ANYWAY... now you just click on the filename instead of option-clicking, which is no big deal. But in MacOS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the system highlighted the filename automatically (sans extension) so you could very quickly overwrite the name OR hit the right-arrow to add/change characters at the end to create the new filename. Now? Not so much. No text is automatically selected for you, so hitting the right-arrow key inexplicably sends you into whatever folder you're on. But even worse than all that? It takes FOREVER for your files to show up in the browser. (UPDATE! See below)
TIME-WASTING FACTOR? 9.2 (out of 10)

OSX Lion Save Dialog Box

   
• Lag. UPDATE: Apparently the horrible performance lag was due to two things... my Mac re-indexing the drive for Spotlight searches and the presence of MacFUSE on my system (which is supposedly not yet compatible with 64-bit Lion). In addition to the delays you find when waiting for the menu bar to appear in full-screen apps and the file browser to be populated in the save dialog box... there are several other areas. So many things just seem... slow. It used to be you'd press the space bar to preview with QuickLook and a window would appear instantly. Now? There's a huge delay. A delay so long that I'd argue it's probably faster to just double-click on the damn thing to open it in an app. It goes on and on (just try opening a Finder window so you can count the SECONDS it takes for the files to show up). Again, this may be due to the fancy animations going on, I don't know, but it is absolutely UNFORGIVABLE. Why the fuck would you make an operating system slower so people are waiting around all the time? It's a productivity killer on a massive scale because all those wasted seconds add up. This alone has me hesitating to recommend the Lion upgrade... if, like me, you YOU WANT TO GET SHIT DONE! This is so very, very frustrating.
STUPIDITY FACTOR? 38.6 (out of 10)

   
• Dock. Some freaky-ass stuff is going on with the way applications are run. Part of this has to do with the way Lion is taking control of your apps to better manage resources. If it's running low on memory, it can now tell an app you aren't using to quit itself. Then, when you need it again, Lion will reopen it exactly in the state it was in when it told the app to quit. I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but... it's not working right. You now have a choice whether the Dock displays a little light under running apps, but it's lighting up under apps which I've quit before a logout. Other times it refuses to light up apps I've just run. It's irritating. There's an option to turn off the indicator light, but I like to have it... when it works.
CONFUSION FACTOR? 5.7 (out of 10)

   
• Login. I have no fucking clue how Apple ended up with one of the ugliest login screens I have ever seen... and I'm including DOS-based logins from the 1980's. How the fuck can Apple, who is so sensitive to beauty in design, botch something so badly?

MacOS X Lion Login Screen
This is a crappy photograph of a crappy login, because I can't take a snapshot of it directly.

Everything about it is off. The circular pictures with the high-gloss reflections are tacky as hell. The "linen" background is boring as fuck. The Apple logo is wandering and distracting. The buttons are diminutive and lost. Everything about this piece of shit design screams amateur hour, and I cannot believe that His Holiness Steve Jobs okayed this. I've come to expect shit like this from Microsoft. But I am both disgusted and deeply saddened to see it coming from Apple. And so THIS is what I have to look at every morning when I start my day at work now? Why? WHY, LORD, WHY?!?
UGLINESS FACTOR? 18.2 (out of 10)

   
• Backwards. In an effort to make window scrolling act more like an iPad, Apple has introduced "natural" scrolling in Lion. The idea is that you click and pull window content in the direction you want it to move... just as if your mouse pointer was your finger. It seems like a smart idea, but it doesn't work... at least not for me. On an iPad, my finger is moving the actual content. On a Mac, my finger is moving a pointer which, in turn, moves scroll bars. From this perspective, using "natural" scrolling is backwards from how it should be and is, in fact, not "natural" at all. I turned it off after only an hour because I could not see myself getting used to it, nor training my brain to make sense of it. If I ever get a touch-screen on my Mac, then sure. But now? No thanks.
BIZARRE FACTOR? 8.0 (out of 10)

   
• Dash. Apple's widget repository, which they call Dashboard, is a nice feature that I use all the time. My "Dashboard" is filled with widgets which do everything from give me the weather forecast to track packages to taking notes to dozens of other things that widgets let you do. But not is all wine and roses in WidgetLand. The first time you open Dashboard, you have to WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT AND WAIT for the widgets to activate. Subsequent access is still slow, but not horribly so. It's always been like this but, for some reason, I really thought they would address it in Lion. I'm sure it's a memory thing (why waste resources if somebody isn't going to even use Dashboard?) but I am ALWAYS using Dashboard, and the waiting drives me insane. If that wasn't enough, Apple changed some of the widgets so they're uglier. The font in calculator doesn't even frickin' fit in the display properly.
BOREDOM FACTOR? 5.1 (out of 10)

MacOS X Lion Calc Widget

   
• Mail. If there's one program in OS X that I borderline hate, it's Apple Mail. It sucks on so many levels that I end up wanting to punch my computer at least once a day. It's slow. It's illogical. It's stupid (functionality-wise). It's unbearably frustrating for anybody who does more with email than just the basics. Well, Lion's new-and-improved Mail is, in fact, new-and-improved in many ways... but still kind of stupid in others. You get a new GMail-inspired "conversation view" but it ONLY displays your replies if they were written on the computer you're using! It doesn't matter if you have IMAP and store messages on a server for ALL your computers... Mail completely ignores anything you replied with when using other machines. This is almost laughable in just how fucking stupid it is. At first I thought it was my fault... I had stuff configured differently between them so Mail couldn't figure it out. But I use iSync, so that can't be the reason. So why? Did nobody TEST for this? Inexplicable bullshit like this drives me fucking crazy. Hopefully I'll eventually get it figured out, because right now "conversation view" is less than useless when it's incomplete. And yet... there are other things. Other cool things. I LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to flag mail with different colors. That's been a LONG time coming since I had this in every MacOS 9 mail app I ever used in the 80's and 90's! I still have a lot of exploring to do but, in the meanwhile, color me half-impressed.
INDECISIVE FACTOR? 5.0 (out of 10)

   
• Miscellany. I've only been using Lion for half-a-day, so this is going to be a really incomplete list. Some things I haven't experienced yet... like auto-file-versioning, AirDrop file sharing, and some of the security features. Other things I've run across have been cool, but not yet explored. Like the new three-finger-double-click to get a contextual dictionary...

MacOS X Lion Diction

And the hold-key character-picker...

MacOS X Lion Character Picker

And the three-finger-pinch Application Launcher "Launchpad" which is SO much nicer than digging through the Applications Folder...

MacOS X Lion Launcher

Still other things are just plain crazy... like the new-and-unimproved tiny-ass window control buttons...

MacOS X Lion Buttons

Annnd... there's a lot more... I really like the new "All My Files" view available in the Finder windows. The whole-disk encryption is a godsend for somebody who travels all the time like me. There's additions to iCal and Address Book that help them not to suck so terribly. There's tiny little improvements everywhere that are nice. For the most part. I just wish Apple had taken a little more time to get rid of those frustrating changes and omissions that can make the OS less than what it could be.

AND FOR FUCKS SAKE, GET RID OF ALL THE LAG-TIME THAT MAKES ME WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT EVERY TIME I OPEN A FUCKING WINDOW!

FINAL SCORE? 7.5 (out of 10)

   

Roar

Posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011

Dave!I am writing my Thursday post on Friday morning.

Not because I wanted to or I ran out of time... but because I had to. After a full day-and-a-half with Apple's new "MacOS X Lion" installed, I started experiencing one catastrophic system failure after another. For no discernible reason, the program I was using would suddenly lock up, followed shortly thereafter by the entire system. I'd then have to do a complete power-down and reboot. Again and again. I have tried disabling every extra system extension I can find, but nothing I try does any good.

I have no clue what's going wrong. I think it had to do with the file system crashing at random and taking my entire computer with it. Most crashes happen when I am trying to load/save, but not always. This morning my MacBook crashed when I was adding an attachment to an email. I pulled up the file browser to select the files and... nothing...

Lion File System FAIL

After a few minutes of Mail going non-responsive, the program fails...

Lion File System FAIL

After a few more minutes, the Finder and everything else goes non-responsive. The system has died.

I've got a 2.53 GHz Core Duo MacBook with 4 GB RAM, so my machine is more than capable of upgrading to Lion. And yet... something is going wrong. Some hidden extension that I've got installed somewhere is not compatible. Or so I'm guessing. All I can say for certain is that I have lost an entire evening's work because of this crap.

Guess today I get to do a Clean Install.

My hope is that this will not only stop the crashing... but also solve the riddle of my slow-to-respond file system that I was bitching about yesterday.

I guess sometimes Apple doesn't "just work."

   

Thrice2

Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Dave!Still having MacOS X Lion issues. By getting rid of all the system extensions and preference panes I can find, everything is a lot more responsive... but I am still getting random errors and crashes. The problems hit hardest when using Adobe Creative Suite apps, particularly with loading and saving files. It's entirely possible that it's nothing related to Adobe... it just seems that way since that's what I'm using 95% of the time... but it's a serious enough problem that I would advise anybody using their Mac for serious work to hold off with Lion until things stabilize a bit.

Anyway... it's come a little later than we had hoped, but the second issue of Thrice Fiction has just been released. You can learn all about it (and get your FREE copy!) at the Thrice website.

Thrice002_Render.jpg

And here's a peek at the visuals from the great stories we're featuring this issue...

ThriceFiction002Montage.jpg

Intrigued? Then go grab a FREE copy and check it out!

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Amy

Posted on Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Dave!People can make fun of Amy Winehouse and mock her death as much as they want. It won't change the fact that she was a remarkable artist who created music that a great many people, including myself, really loved. A month ago I was lamenting that she hadn't come out with a new album in five years and was crossing my fingers that something would be released soon. Now, it saddens me greatly that anything we get... if anything at all... will be released posthumously.

I am not going to deny that she had serious problems and did some crazy shit. Amy was a very troubled and tortured person, and dealt with it the best way she knew how. Unfortunately that involved a lot of abusive behavior that would be tough for anybody to survive. But not one bit of it made me enjoy her music any less. Because no matter how out-of-control and batshit crazy she was in her personal life, in her songs she made perfect sense.

Amy Winehouse

I'd say that I will miss her music, but the truth is her music isn't going anywhere. I just wish so badly she would have stuck around to make more of it. And, on that note, my favorite of so many favorites...

The rest of my day was $600 in repair costs for my car's brakes.

Hanging out with my sister on a flawless afternoon.

Meeting up with some remarkable Pacific Northwest bloggers.

Life is the bittersweet joy and hurt of it all. I am so incredibly blessed to have friends and family to make even my worst days good again.

Oh how I wish Amy Winehouse could have found the same.

   

Bullet Sunday 242

Posted on Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday on rails, baby!

   
• Oslo. I can't really find the words to express my deep sorrow for the people of Norway and the beautiful city of Oslo during the recent tragedies there. I was lucky enough to have visited the city back in 2008, where I met up with one of my long-time blogging friends and spent some time seeing the sights. I dream of returning one day so I can visit the fjord-laden coast and have some more of the best guacamole I've ever had.

DAVETOON: Lil' Dave and Bad Monkey Love Norway!

My hopes are with Norway as they recover from such senseless tragedy.

   
• Comic Con. While I love the idea of Comic Con, the reality is just not something I can enjoy. The drastically over-sell the event, so you spend most of your time in massive crowds waiting in lines. HOWEVER... the idea of Joss Whedon making The Avengers film fills me with such happiness that I think I would have totally endured the trauma in order to sit in on that panel. But seeing the beautiful interlocking poster set Marvel has released is really the next best thing...

Avengers Movie Posters

So cannot wait until May, 2012. This is literally a fanboy's dream come true.

   
• LEGO Heroes. And SPEAKING of super-heroes... earlier this week I saw that LEGO now has licenses to make sets for both the Marvel and DC line of comics! Is it too much to hope that a LEGO Heroes video game is in the works?

LEGO Heroes!
More images can be found over at Comics Alliance!

   
• Thriceful! Just a quick thank you to everybody who has made time to take a look at the latest issue of Thrice Fiction and send such nice comments! It makes all the hard work worthwhile. See you again in November...

THRICE Three Teaser Poster

(and if you haven't grabbed your free copy yet, what's stopping you?)

   
• Lovely. And lastly, before I go, a big congratulations to New York for taking a huge step towards equality for all. Some people have been waiting their entire lives for the opportunity to be married, and I couldn't be happier for them to have their chance at last...

NY Equality

It's been a long, long time coming. And yet there's still so much further to go.

   
Good night, Sunday.

   

Typical

Posted on Monday, July 25th, 2011

Dave!And so I'm driving home after a very long day when some dumbass zips out in front of me, causing me to slam on my brand new brakes. After they pull their head out of their ass and realize what they've done, they stick their hand out their car window and wave. Like that makes everything all better. Except it really doesn't. I am sick to death of people NOT PAYING ATTENTION WHILE DRIVING! An automobile is a deadly piece of equipment that demands a driver's attention... why people are unwilling to do this is a mystery to me. It's only a matter of time before somebody ends up dead, so WTF?

What's so bizarre is that my 115-mile drive home this morning in the pouring rain was without incident. It wasn't until I made the 1-mile drive home from work with no rain that I had to deal with this crap.

Typical.

Now that the debt ceiling fiasco is approaching meltdown, I suppose I should form some kind of opinion on it. Which is kind of difficult, because I just don't give a flying fuck. Shit is going to happen one way or another, there's nothing I can do about it, and so I'm like... whatever...

All I know is that President Obama has caved so badly that he might as well be running as a Republican in the upcoming election... and House Speaker John Boehner won't compromise on anything. Which is why I didn't bother to listen to the speeches tonight. All I needed to know was summed up on Twitter by Deus Ex Malcontent, Chez Pazienza...

Obama: We need to compromise and stop being petty children for the sake of everyone. Boehner: Fuck you.

So nothing has changed then?

Typical.

In science news, A group led by Professor Shengwang Du at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, claims to have proven that a single photon can’t break the speed of light in a vacuum. This was accomplished when they "generated a pair of photons, and passed one of the pair through a group of laser-cooled rubidium atoms, taking advantage of an effect called electromagnetically induced transparency." This apparently allowed them to observe the “optical precursor” that is shoved ahead of the photon, determining that it was limited by the speed of light and could not surpass it in a vacuum.

Of course, all their thinking and supposition is based on a model where universal laws remain constant, and doesn't consider that a vacuum environment can be created where Einsteinian causality doesn't apply, but whatever. Go ahead and make baseless claims about how the universe works without even the tiniest of understanding of how it's constructed. No big deal.

Typical.

   

Construction

Posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Dave!There are four streets I drive on to get to work.

Two of them are closed for construction. This basically means that I have to take two detours twice a day. For the most part, I don't mind, because it's (supposedly) going to make it easier to get from Point A to Point B. At least it will in three months or so when they finish. I don't pretend to understand why they can't WORK EVERY DAY AND GET THE SHIT DONE (instead of showing up seemingly at random whenever they feel like it)... but I guess that's how it works.

As inconvenient as the detours were this morning, that wasn't the most irritating thing about my commute. That would be the mommy-jogger-walkers.

These inconsiderate morons jog down the street THREE-WIDE pushing GIANT STROLLERS. One of them on the sidewalk, two on the street. This alone blocks both foot and auto traffic in one direction... but they don't stop there. They are also WALKING THEIR DOGS, which are wandering all over the place, making them even more of an obstruction.

I didn't have my phone handy as I was forced to follow them down the road. Instead I had to take a picture of them down the street after I parked...

Jogger Mommies

Now, in this photo, the two on the left are jogging single-file because a car was revving up behind them wanting to pass. But when I was behind them, they were side-by-side, effectively blocking the entire lane and not even attempting to share the road. I ended up having to wait for a break in oncoming traffic so I could go around them.

Far be it for me to berate somebody for trying to stay fit... but what a bunch of assholes.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were all jogging single-file on the side of the road... or if they were JOGGING THE SPEED LIMIT... but oh no! They totally don't give a shit that they are taking over THE ENTIRE STREET and causing a backlog of traffic. They're more important than people trying to get to work in the morning, so they just say a big FUCK YOU to motorists and do whatever the hell they want.

Which makes me wonder how long it will be before some pissed off person who's late for work runs them all down in the street.

Hopefully it won't end up being me.

   

Take

Posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Dave!Some people aren't happy unless they have all the bananas.

Banana Holdup

   

This kind of ambition doesn't bother me.

It's what they're willing to do to get all the bananas that bothers me.

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Boredom

Posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Dave!I am mostly bored now-a-days.

Which is odd, because I am never lacking for something to do. Most of my waking moments are spent working, but in-between I still watch an occasional television show or catch up with the internet or view a video or read a book or something. How can I be this bored if my days are so packed? What else am I looking for?

I honestly don't know.

But it explains why I am constantly taking on new projects even though I don't have time for them. It's why I got RW to join me in creating Thrice Fiction. It's why I went ghost-hunting in Kentucky. It's why I do volunteer work that sends me to Hawaii. It's why I fly around the world visiting Hard Rock Cafes.

It's why I blog.

But despite all my efforts, it never seems like enough. Now even the crap that used to excite me is starting to become boring, which sucks. Maybe I need to start skydiving again or something?

Only time will tell.

If I don't end up bored to death, that is.

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FridayFifty

Posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011

Dave!I had a nice long rant written, but decided to scrap it. I just don't need the aggravation.

This left me with nothing to write about tonight, so I went to FridayFive for a meme. Since this felt like kind of a cop-out, I decided to do all ten weeks that were displayed on their home page, which actually makes this a FridayFifty. I'm a total glutton for punishment like that...

Friday 5 for July 29: Public Options

  1. When did you last use a public restroom? That would be at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport two weeks ago on July 17th.
  2. When did you last ride public transportation? That would be MARTA on July 12th in Atlanta.
  3. How far away from your home is the nearest public housing? To my knowledge, there's only one public housing development in our small city... it's about 1-1/2 to 2 miles away.
  4. Which of your public utilities is the least reliable? I couldn't say, as our public utilities are all pretty darn reliable.
  5. What did you last view on public television or listen to on public radio? Hmmm... it would probably have been an episode of NOVA on PBS, but I have no idea how long ago. At least six months.

Friday 5 for July 22: Similes, Part 2

  1. What’s your best advice for someone who’s as drunk as a skunk? If they're doing okay and not bothering anybody, I'd say "Have fun! If they're sloppy drunk or causing trouble, I'd say "You need to take a time out."
  2. What’s your best advice for someone who’s as busy as a bee? Don't forget to smell the roses.
  3. What’s your best advice for someone who’s as nutty as a fruitcake? Don't use your wacky nature as an excuse to be stupid.
  4. What’s your best advice for someone who’s as sick as a dog? See a doctor.
  5. What’s your best advice for someone who’s as ugly as sin? Be as beautiful as you can on the inside where it counts.

Friday 5 for July 15: Long Journeys

  1. What is the longest distance you’ve traveled (in one trip) by foot? I honestly don't know. I love walkable large cities like London and Venice, and have undoubtedly racked up several miles exploring them.
  2. What is the longest trip you’ve taken by car? I've taken several long road trips with family and friends... but the longest I've taken on my own would probably be a 1500-mile Hard Rock Cafe run from Memphis to Nashville to Gatlinburg to Myrtle Beach to Atlanta to Memphis I took in 2000.
  3. What is the longest trip you’ve taken by plane? I'm guessing Seattle to Hong Kong, which is 12 hours.
  4. What is the longest trip you’ve taken on some kind of water craft? Undoubtedly one of the cruises I've been on. Probably the Eastern Mediterranean one I took back in 2007.
  5. What is the longest trip you’ve taken aboard a bus or train? I don't ride the bus very often, but I've taken some long trips by train in Europe and Japan. The longest I can think of is a round-trip from Amsterdam to Berlin to Copenhagen to Amsterdam, which is about 1200 miles.

Friday 5 for July 8: Rock Star Treatment

  1. What instructions do you have for your chauffeur this weekend? We'll be driving to Portland. Be sure you use the restroom before we go.
  2. What instructions do you have for your personal chef this weekend? Call Alfredo's Alla Scrofa in Rome for their recipe and cook me their Fettuccine Alfredo for dinner.
  3. What instructions do you have for your errand-boy (or errand-girl) this weekend? Go to David's Pizza in Spokane and get me a large Da Vinci pizza for dessert after my fettuccine.
  4. What instructions do you have for your maid this weekend? Be sure you have plenty of Lysol on hand to clean up all the vomit that's sure to occur after I eat my weight in fettuccine and pizza.
  5. You don’t have a personal handyman, so I’m lending you mine. What three tasks would you like him to tackle this weekend? Hopefully he has carpentry skills. Build me a new entertainment center. Then book shelves. Then re-surface my dining room table.

Friday 5 for July 1: Five for 5′s Fifth

  1. Of the five weekdays, which is the easiest to get through? Wednesday.
  2. Which of the five little piggies is the most bizarrely characterized? The first one who went to market. Kids probably think that he's going to go shopping... but he's a pig. Which means he's going to market to be sold and slaughtered. That's more messed up than the piggy eating roast beef, hands-down.
  3. Of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood, from which do you draw your power? Metal.
  4. Haribo Gummy Bears come in five flavors: pineapple (white), strawberry (green), raspberry (red), lemon (yellow) and orange (orange). Which is your favorite? Orange.
  5. Which of the five basic tastes (sweetness, sourness, bitterness, saltiness, and savoriness) best describes your personality? Savory, baby, savory all the way.

Friday 5 for June 24: Summer Blockbusters

  1. What transformation do you undergo on summer Fridays at midnight? Now-a-days? I transform into bed. Even though I won't sleep much.
  2. What super power do the kids in your neighborhood seem to have? Black Canary's sonic screaming power.
  3. Who (or what!) is your nemesis in these warm summer days? The heat.
  4. What is your trustiest weapon against the evil heat monster? Air conditioning... though my new Chilly Pad is a terrific ally too.
  5. What seems to be invading your life lately, and how will you fend it off? Incompetence. If anybody knows how to fend off THAT (legally), let me know.

Friday 5 for June 17: Around the House

  1. Of the products you use just to keep yourself clean and presentable, what seems to be the most overpriced? The most expensive is Philosophy's "Hope in a Jar" which runs $40 for 2 ounces... but it's not overpriced. It's worth every damn cent, so I guess I'd say my shampoo.
  2. Where in your house is a reliable place to get a few quarters? My bedroom desk.
  3. A rare yes-or-no question on Friday 5: Have you ever dropped your cell phone onto your face? Uh... no.
  4. What did you last take out of your freezer? A frozen veggie corn dog for dinner tonight.
  5. How many rolls of wrapping paper do you have in your house? There's probably a few knocking around somewhere.

Friday 5 for June 10: What Goes In

  1. What goes into your coffee or tea? I don't drink coffee. As for tea? Sometimes honey or lemon. Sometimes milk. Mostly plain with a bit of sugar.
  2. What goes into a good omelet? Cheese.
  3. What goes into your ears on a good morning? Matt & Kim on my car stereo to get me pumped for the day.
  4. What goes into a healthy but yummy lunch? Screw healthy... PIZZA AND CHOCOLATE PUDDING go into a yummy lunch.
  5. What goes into a productive evening? My laptop, because I can't be productive without it in my line of work.

Friday 5 for June 3: Summer!

  1. What was your best summer vacation like? Probably when I was in school it was just goofing off and doing nothing.
  2. What was your worst summer vacation like? I don't get summers off any more, so working.
  3. What food or drink reminds you of a particular summer? A good beer reminds me of many good summer days.
  4. What summer-only activity do you now look most forward to every year? I rarely get activities outside of work in summer, so none, I guess.
  5. What summer movie or summer reading are you most looking forward to this year? I haven't seen Captain America or Cowboys & Aliens yet, and I want to see both quite badly.

Friday 5 for May 27: In the Mood

  1. What puts you in a creative mood? Music I love.
  2. What puts you in a silly mood? Alcohol.
  3. What puts you in a contemplative mood? Death.
  4. What puts you in a competitive mood? Work.
  5. If you’d call yourself a talkative person, what puts you in a quiet mood? If you’d call yourself a quiet person, what puts you in a talkative mood? I'm usually quiet, but alcohol and friends will get me talking.
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Bang

Posted on Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Dave!Well crap.

How can it be "one of those days" if it's a Saturday?

Dave Bang Your Head

   
Sometimes I just get really tired of the battle. It never ends.

But you can't win if you don't play.

   

Bullet Sunday 243

Posted on Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Dave!BLAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHRRRRRRRGG!

I'm irritable this Bullet Sunday. But that's not surprising, I've been irritable all week. I really need to plan a vacation soon.

   
• Debt! As I type this, President Obama has announced an agreement has been reached on a deficit deal. It hasn't been approved by the three-ring-circus clown show we call the US Congress, but, well... formalities and all. Personally, I don't pretend to comprehend the political strategy of a president folding like a wet tissue yet again with an election coming up, but, well... politics and all.

   
• Runway! I am not a "reality television" fan. So many of them are nothing more than spoiled assholes acting like douchebags which I don't find entertaining at all. I still watch "the original" reality show, Survivor because the challenges are creative and fun... but "Housebitches of Beverly Hills," "Jersey Whores," (or whatever) and the rest are just garbage I have no interest in. And yet there are exceptions, as I kind of like the creativity to be found in Project Runway and Top Chef. Usually, these are kind of throw-away shows that I half-watch while working, but sometimes they surprise me.

And the new season of Project Runway has a big surprise... former Miss Trinidad and Tobago from the Miss Universe Pageant, Anya Ayoung-Chee, is competing!

Miss Trinidad And Tobago
Photo by Ian M.S. Royer (public domain)

It's surprising for a few reasons... 1) She only learned to sew four months ago, and yet is easily one of the most talented contestants. 2) She's rocking a mohawk and yet still looks brutally hot. 3) There's a sex tape floating around online.

Oh... and some of the other contestants are interesting too. And Tim Gunn is still there.

   
• Plus? I am a very casual Netflix customer. I rent maybe one DVD plus two or three Instant Watch shows a month... if that... which averages out to around $3 a rental ($9.99 a month), which is fine. But now the same plan is going to cost me $15.98 a month, or $5 a rental, which is absurd. Which is why I'll be "downgrading" to their "limited" plan which allows one or two DVDs a month and two hours of Instant Watch for $4.99. Problem is that a measly two hours of Instant Watch isn't going to cut it when I'm traveling and want to watch a couple movies. So I decided to test-drive Hulu Plus (also $4.99 a month) with a free trial membership to see if I can supplement my Netflix plan to get where I want to be.

Um. Yeah. Hulu is a steaming (streaming?) pile of shit.

First of all, they CONTINUE TO FORCE YOU TO WATCH ADS, EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE NOW PAYING THEM FOR THEIR SHIT! Ads to finance a FREE service, I get. But paying for ads? I don't think so. What's so high-larious is that Hulu has the balls to position their shitty ads as entertainment. Every time I clicked on "NO" when they asked "is this ad relevant to you?" (because no ad EVER WILL BE), they say "Thanks! We'll use your input to improve your ad experience." Shyeah. Right. "Experience." Though I guess getting kicked in the balls is an "experience," so whatever.

Hulu Plus Blows
Isn't the giant Verizon ad intrusive enough without being forced to watch a video ad too?

Guess I'm going with iTunes video rentals. Non-HD movies are $2.99 ($3.99 for new releases) and TV shows are 99¢ which seems about right. And since I pay only for what I watch, I may end up saving money. Nice.

Netflix could have saved my business entirely by offering an option for $1 per hour streaming past their $4.90 plan. Now half the money (or more) I used to give them is going to Apple. Genius economic business plan, Netflix. Truly genius.

   
• Miley! It's no secret that I am a big Miley Cyrus fan (probably because I am such a huge Hannah Montana fan). Some of her songs are pop gold (The Time of Our Lives and Liberty Walk are beyond gold!). But here's the thing. The thing is this. Miley isn't just big poppy fun. She's also smart, compassionate, respectful, and open-minded.

On Twitter the other day, she tweeted about getting a marriage equality tattoo on her finger. One of her fans tossed up Bible verse to say that Miley was wrong about gay marriage. Miley replied that only God can judge people, and love was love. This (naturally) caused Miley's fans to attack the Bible quoting fan (who calls themselves "@MileyCyrusLuver"). To which Miley replied thusly...

Dude everyone lay off @MileyCyrusLuver Love u! Everyone is entitled 2 opinions! 'if u don't stand 4 something you'll fall for anything.' :)

I mean, seriously. Miley Cyrus has a better head on her shoulders than most adults.

With each passing day I grow more horrified at the polarization of this country. People don't respectfully debate any more... they just hate. And it just keeps getting worse and worse. Then here comes Miley who, with a single tweet, completely restores my faith in the future of humanity...

Could not possibly be a bigger fan right now.

Though, given my luck with celebrities, she'll be arrested for burning down a church while high on meth after kicking a puppy in front of the paparazzi, so there's that.

   
And, on that happy note, I get to go back to work!

   

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