I spent most of today being angry.
Angry that I had to work all weekend even though I've been putting in crazy hours all week.
Angry that Adobe has made stupid little changes to their apps that have destroyed my productivity... and still hasn't fixed mind-bogglingly obvious bugs that have been around for years.
Angry that the quality of Mac OS X seems to be plummeting with each new release, and even simple details (like arranging icons on your desktop) is now a battle you have to fight.
Angry that so many money-grubbing hypocritical douchebag politicians continue to get support from people either too deluded or too stupid to care that their representatives are money-grubbing hypocritical douchebags.
Angry that the people most under-represented by society are being further marginalized with each passing day.
Angry that more people give a shit about a talentless hack like Justin Bieber getting arrested than they do about people whose water supply in West Virginia has been destroyed by people who were not arrested.
Angry that the mega-corps continue to get away with destroying the planet, destroying society, and destroying lives without consequence but with full government endorsement.
Angry that I live in a country built upon a government of the people, by the people, for the people, that is not controlled by all the people... but a select few rich and powerful people who care nothing for anybody's welfare except their own.
Angry that I live in a country built upon the concept of religious freedom whose laws are increasingly being dictated by religion.
Angry that more people aren't angry about stuff that matters.
Like the fact that I just found my cable company doesn't broadcast The Puppy Bowl in HD tomorrow.
Put down that foam finger, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Bowl! Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for their massive Super Bowl win. I'm especially happy for long-time Seahawks fans who have kept the faith for so very long and have now had their devotion rewarded...
Pete Carroll, 9/11 Truther and Seahawks Coach, celebrates! Photo by Charlie Riedel at the Associated Press
I'm less excited for all the fair-weather Hawks fans who are all too happy to shit all over Seattle when they're losing... but will still be celebrating "their" victory tonight.
• Twelfth! Personally, I think the whole "Twelfth Man" thing is annoying as shit, but there's no denying that it's become bigger than the team they're dedicated to supporting. This was made abundantly clear when a Boeing jet was taken out to draw a big "12" across Washington State...
It's the ultimate Etch-A-Sketch!
Though, I have to say that this huge display of fandom pales in comparison to this guy...
He's probably the only person happier about the Seahawks' victory than the actual Seahawks.
• Kitteh! Everybody knows about The Puppy Bowl... but did you know there's a KITTEN BOWL?!? I just finished watching the big game, featuring Meowshawn Lynch...
Adorable. You can get more info at The Hallmark Channel.
• Cap! Holy cats does Captain America: Winter Soldier look frickin' amazing...
Thrilled to see The Falcon debut at last... would be even more thrilled if a black super-hero would get their own film. Hello? Black Panther? Luke Cage? Brother Voodoo!? And while I'm equally thrilled to see Black Widow making an appearance (which makes total sense because of The Winter Soldier)... where is her frickin' movie? Even if the film is a dud, at least we're finally getting to see S.H.I.E.L.D. at the high-tech kick-ass organization it is (as opposed to the embarrassment we've been getting from the lame-ass television show).
• Mine! I'm probably going to catch some crap for posting this... BUT IT'S JUST SO TRUE!
I've lost count of the number of times I've asked "Do you want something?" and am told "No!"... only to have my date/girlfriend EAT MY FOOD! Seriously, you said you didn't want any... SO KEEP YOUR DAMN HANDS OFF MY FRIES! Not that I can actually say that, but I want all the fries!
• LEGO! Okay... okay... I know I won't shut up over The LEGO Movie's impending release, but how can you blame me? The latest trailer is beyond awesome...
Could Chris Pratt BE any more perfect for the role?
This may very well be the greatest movie ever made. I cannot wait to see it.
Annnnd... chocolate pudding time!
Three or four mornings each week, I stop at the mini-mart so I can buy two bottles of Grape Powerade (2 for $5) and a bean & cheese burrito. It's the perfect breakfast, and a delicious excuse to eat lots of ketchup (no joke... I can use three packets with one small burrito).
Not exactly healthy though.
So this morning I thought I'd try a breakfast that's better for me... an Amy's Tofu Scramble...
I like Amy's stuff. Her Mexican and Indian entrees are darn good, and I'm a loyal customer to her brand. Once I Googled a few reviews on how awesome her Tofu Scramble was, I didn't think twice about putting it in my shopping cart. And today was the day!
It tasted like a bowl of barf.
The potatoes were okay... but the scramble was just awful. I didn't like the flavor and really didn't like the texture. While nowhere near as bad as the Special K Breakfast Flatbread Sandwich I tried last month (vomit-inducing gross), I just couldn't bring myself to eat it.
And so I stopped by the mini-mart for two bottles of Grape Powerade and a bean & cheese burrito.
Which was delicious, as usual.
And while not exactly healthy, it was probably no worse than a bag of Doritos and a Coke, which was my go-to breakfast before I found out Hometown Market had bean & cheese burritos and a good price on double-Powerade.
I really need to go back to Eggo Waffles one day.
But right now I'm still dealing with the crushing disappointment from last time.
Like the mysterious Scottish village of Brigadoon which appears for a single day every one hundred years, some events are destined to happen but once in a lifetime. Twice if you don't smoke, eat your Wheaties, and get very lucky.
I've had my share of "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunities." Some passed me by. Some changed my life for the better. Some ended up being huge mistakes. Some didn't turn out to be quite as important events as they had first seemed.
Today I had a choice to make on a "once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity."
The consequences... good or bad... of my decision won't be known for months. Maybe years.
In the meanwhile I'm trying not to think about it. Life goes by too quickly to waste time obsessing over the road not taken. It's hard enough to concentrate on the road you're walking.
Especially when your shoelaces are untied and raw sewage is gushing over the pavement.
I was a fan of the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not necessarily for the bigger parts which won him accolades, but for the smaller "every-man" roles he excelled at. I also liked him when he played creepy. That was something he also did well. I was sad to learn that he died of a heroin overdose. I am sadder to hear all the horrible things being said about him over the way he died.
I don't read the gossip rags, so I don't know what they're saying compelled Philip Seymour Hoffman first try heroin.
I don't need to read the gossip rags to know why he kept doing it. Addiction is a horrific, life-destroying ordeal so overwhelming that even millions of dollars and a successful career can't save you. It's a fight that never ends, and sometimes people lose the battle... despite their best efforts. And the efforts of people around them.
Why that terrible battle is something to belittle or ridicule, I don't know.
Why somebody who couldn't overcome their problems is beneath compassion or sympathy, I don't understand.
Why people feel the need to mock and ridicule somebody's death, I don't want to understand.
My deepest sympathies to Hoffman's family, friends, and fans. I'm sorry he lost the fight. I'm even sorrier that people with no understanding of the power of addiction are so cruel in their ignorance. He will be missed.
Don't let those swill merchants rewrite you. —Lester Bangs from Almost Famous
To say I am excited for The LEGO Movie is a drastic understatement.
And tomorrow is the day we've all been waiting for!
Everything IS awesome!
This could have so easily been a five-star film.
Seriously. The casting was impeccable. Chris Pratt embodied the lead flawlessly. Will Arnett redefined LEGO Batman. The voice talent behind every character was perfectly executed. Even Jonah Hill, who I cannot stand as an actor, was unerringly lovable as a Green Lantern who nobody can stand ("I super-hate you!"). And don't even get me started on Will Ferrell, who played the "villain" as only Will Ferrell can.
As the story unfolded, I was near-giddy in my seat. It's so beautiful and... fun! Genuine laugh-out-loud fun! You don't have to be familiar with LEGO to enjoy the movie... but true fans expecting cameos and a little LEGO history will not be disappointed. This is a movie that will beg to be seen over and over again just to get a handle on all the little details packed into every scene...
And the animation.
Holy crap is it amazing. Every frame had a lot of thought put into it.
From a cursory glance, the animators behind The LEGO Movie made it all look so effortlessly "LEGO." But when you look a little closer, each scene was meticulously executed in a way that had to be anything but easy. Action has a stop-motion feel to make it look hand-animated where it helps the story... but they weren't chained to that, and smooth motion was used when jerky movement would have been distracting. I love the fluid dynamics. Water and smoke are all rendered with LEGO, yet flow with a bizarre kind of realism that makes "the world" seem fully-realized. Fire is likewise grounded in LEGO reality, but has a kind of eerie presence that transcends those little orange "flame pieces" that any LEGO builder will recognize instantly. And I love, love, love how everything has a solidity to it. Laser blasts are rendered like rods that are physical pieces instead of blobs of light. It's all so... awesome!
If The LEGO Movie doesn't get nominated for a ship-load of animation awards, it will surprise the hell out of me.
When it comes to the story, things start off brilliantly.
Emmet is a LEGO minifig who is average in every way. He follows instructions to the letter like every good LEGO minifig should. He just wants to fit in and have people like him. And that's all he aspires for. It's all he knows and needs. But then he meets Wyldstyle... a minifig who doesn't follow instructions. From her Emmet finds out that he is "The Special," a fulfillment of a prophecy (by Morgan Freeman, in yet another example of flawless casting) who is destined to stop the evil Lord Business and save the world.
Hilarity... genuine hilarity... ensues. And it's all adorably funny and a joy to watch.
WARNING! Spoilers (kinda) are below!
...the movie then takes this utterly bizarre meta "fourth-wall" turn in the last quarter. And, to be perfectly honest, it kind of ruins the film for me.
Had they just stuck to the animated LEGO story everybody has been dying to see, this would have been a flawless motion picture. Everybody wins.
But they didn't. For reasons completely unknown, the creators decided to spin off on this crazy tangent that undermines all the characters, grinds the movie to a halt, and is completely unnecessary! All of a sudden Emmet, Batman, Benny, and Wyldstyle are not living out their own lives and shaping the story of the world they live in... they're just pieces of cute plastic crap being manipulated by people "in the Real World." Which I guess could be argued to make sense to the story. But not really. There's no internal logic to it. If Will Ferrell is the real-life "bad guy" and his son is the real-life "hero" then why wasn't Emmet voiced by the real-life kid just like Lord Business was voiced by the real-life Will Ferrell? I guess it's the kid's imagination at work voicing the characters, so that could make sense. I guess. But if the entire movie is just a story made-up in the imagination of the kid (and, eventually, Will Ferrell), how can we care about the individual mini-fig personalities when they don't actually exist? Emmet's "journey" as a character who learns that breaking free from the mold allows them to live happier, more fulfilling and creative lives is all rendered moot... because it's not his experience at all... it's a lesson Will Ferrel learns from his kid.
And for what? I just don't get it. And I really don't get the half-hearted "effort" of dropping real-world items into the LEGO world like they're some kind of "clue" as to what's going on. Suddenly the things that internally make sense become senseless when you stop and think about it. Why does Will Ferrell decide to start gluing everything down... it's as if he's suddenly being inspired by the evil alter-ego his kid invented? Say what-?!? Why couldn't there just be real-world items introduced as weird artifacts to LEGO World... just as they would be in real life? THAT was all the "meta" the story really needed.
It's almost as if the people behind the film said "Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa! This is turning out to be entirely too cute and fun. Let's just toss a monkey-wrench into the whole damn thing so that our audience will be ripped out of the story we've worked so hard to build. Because we certainly don't want to deliver on the promise of a fun and engaging movie starring LEGO characters everybody will love... we need to go deeper. That way we can confuse everyone and bore the fuck out of any kids in the audience! But, hey, at least we can pretend to be something smarter than a stupid toy movie... right?
The answer, in case you're wondering, is a resounding "no."
This kind of twist has been done many times before. And done far better. And in a way that makes sense. And doesn't completely undermine all the characters that people want to fall in love with.
I hope somebody edits out all the "fourth wall" crap and LEGO fans get to experience the pure LEGO extravaganza they deserve.
So... taking away one star for a senseless finale in a five-star movie? Four stars. You will love the film... a lot... but, if you're like me, not all of it. Oh... and one last thing... don't bother with the idiotic 3-D version of The LEGO Movie. The bright and colorful world of LEGO is dimmed to the point of being depressing. And the 3-D effects actually ruin otherwise brilliantly realized action scenes.
In my earliest days of blogging (back before it was even called "blogging") there wasn't any software to help you out. My first blog, "DaveWorld," was entirely coded by hand. Any time I wanted to add something, I'd have to manually edit the HTML code. This was a cumbersome process that was way too much work, so the blog died a slow death and was eventually deleted. My second effort, "DaveBlog," was created on the Blogger platform. This made things easier... but writing was still a chore. And customizing the look of your blog in any meaningful way was nigh impossible.
Then the husband and wife team of Ben & Mena Trott came up with Movable Type and everything changed.
With Movable Type, all the technical crap required to run a blog vanished. Third-party blogging tools like "Kung-Log" made writing a breeze. And since everything ran on templates using a dead-simple coding language, customizing your blog was a piece of cake.
Blogography was born, and I have Movable Type to thank for it.
Eventually Movable Type was sold. An Open Source version was released (and powers my blog to this day), but the focus of the platform was steered towards "professional" and "enterprise" environments, so development of the "free personal" version stagnated. An effort to create an independent version (called "Melody") died. Third-party support dried up.
Movable Type as a viable platform for small bloggers like was coming to an end.
And now the Open Source version is being suspended.
In order for me to keep using a supported version of Movable Type, I would have to purchase a 5-user "Pro" license for $600.
Well fuck that.
So now I am forced into something I should have done a long time ago... changing blogging platforms. I toyed with the idea of switching to Ghost, which looks to be coming along brilliantly, but my only real choice is the 10-ton gorilla of personal blogging: WordPress.
Which is not easy.
My webhosting company, Media Temple, doesn't allow software processes to last long enough to export all my data. So I have to hire a third-party to convert my entries and comments.
And, of course all my templates will have to be converted. The cost to hire somebody for the work is outrageous, so I'm having to do it myself. It's not rocket-science, but it's slow-going. Very slow-going. Everything I learned when building DaveCafe on WordPress has long-since been forgotten. And so I'm starting from scratch.
And so there goes my weekend. But the blog must go on.
Grab a grey base plate, because an ALL-LEGO edition of Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Movie Game! I haven't had a chance to finish the LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes videogame yet, but decided to jump into The LEGO Movie Videogame to check it out. One thing I can say from the levels I've played... you need to see the movie first. Events in the game are ripped directly out of the movie, so it is a massive spoiler if you play before you watch...
Shocker... this LEGO videogame is pretty much like all the other LEGO videogames. You take control of a LEGO minifig to collect LEGO studs and solve mostly easy puzzles based on the film...
The voice talent is pretty good, as half the time I didn't know if the characters were being voiced by their movie actor counterparts... or if they just managed to get really good imitators. A new addition to the LEGO games is the need to hunt down "instruction books" to build some items, but most everything else you've probably seen before. Not that this is a bad thing... most times it's a relief that Traveler's Tales Games has had time to refine their play mechanics to such a fine point. But not always. Racing controls are still shitty, just as they are in every other game where you have to take command of a vehicle. And yet... still a lot of fun, as expected. I'm going to wrap up Marvel LEGO Super-Heroes first, but look forward into playing more of The LEGO Movie Videogame.
• Movie Essentials! All the things I loved most about The LEGO Movie are beautifully examined in DK's Essential Guide to the film. Like all DK LEGO books, a lot of love went into making sure that readers get their money's worth, and I'm very glad to add this edition to my growing collection. I'd write a review, but BrickQueen has already done a brilliant job of it...
Totally worth the $8.21 it costs... especially if you love LEGO.
• Movie Minifig! I gave up trying to buy the hundreds of minifigs that LEGO releases each year because it's just too darn expensive to collect them all. But Series 12 is based on The LEGO Movie and so I'm sorely tempted because they're all pretty cool...
The problem is... even if you manage to collect all the characters in Series 12, you're still not going to have them all. LEGO released two exclusive minifigs exclusive to AMC theaters. And since I don't have an AMC within a hundred miles, getting my hands on them is not an option for me...
If I wanted them, I'd have to pay absurd bank on eBay. That's pretty shitty. Especially considering that there's probably other exclusives out there I don't even know about.
But, dang is Pajamas Emmet adorable.
• Soundtrack! While I had a few problems with the movie itself, the soundtrack was absolutely not one of them...
Featuring beautiful synth tracks by Mark Mothersbough, there's some good stuff to be found here. Most tracks are short bits that end before you can get into them (what I wouldn't give to hear more of Emmet's Plan, which clocks in at under two minutes!)... but they all flow together nicely. The theme song Everything is Awesome by Tegan & Sara (featuring the Andy Samberg's The Lonely Island) has some alternate versions here... including a rendition by Jo Li and a not-so-great acoustic version by Shawn Patterson and Sammy Allen. Also included is a bizarre piece by Will Anett (who plays Batman in the film) called Untitled Self Portrait. Overall more hits than misses. If you liked the film and enjoy synth music, this is worth a listen.
• Heart! There's been a few spoofs of the infamous Vinnie Jones "Hands-Only CPR" commercial from the British Heart Foundation (this one with Mini-Vinnie is classic). And now they've released one with LEGO...
Genius. Everything is better with LEGO!
• Online! I am still very, very upset that LEGO canceled LEGO Universe Online after I had invested so much money and time playing it. For this reason, I took a pass at the Legend's of Chima MMORPG when it came out. But there's a new Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game coming this Summer called LEGO Minifigures...
Needless to say... after watching the trailer, I want to play it. Hopefully LEGO will find a "revenue model" this time around so they won't have to cancel it just as I'm getting into it.
Annnnnd... time to play a few more rounds of LEGO Marvel Super-Heroes!
Today sucked. Bad. And just when I thought it couldn't possibly suck any more, it did.
I knew it was going to be a bad day when I woke up to snow dropping from the sky like a plague of locusts. Locusts I then had to scrape off of my car.
Everything was uphill from there.
It just turned 10:00pm and I haven't reached the peak yet.
I'm beginning to think it doesn't exist.
Today was a much better day than yesterday.
Which, technically, isn't saying much. The only way it could have been worse would be if somebody shot me. In the spleen. And then poured salt in the wound. Salt that had been urinated on. By Justin Bieber.
But instead I pulled something in my leg.
Now I walk funnier than usual and I'm on pain-killers.
See, I told you it was better than yesterday!
For better or worse, this blog is now running on WordPress.
Migrating was both easier and harder than I thought it would be. I was dreading converting all my templates because Movable Type has a far easier template language to work with. Much to my delight, it took me just under two hours. Much to my horror, the comments display looks like complete shit. And the comment form is wonky. I've spent around SIX HOURS trying to fix everything, but WordPress uses a stupid fucking HTML List Element to output comments, and all attempts to figure out how to style it have failed. I've read dozens of tutorials and read loads of documentation, but nothing works, and I have no idea why. So... something left to do, I guess.
Anyway... for anybody wanting to dump Movable Type and switch to WordPress, I have notes.
Movable Type's "Export" function has always been incomplete and terrible. They tried to fix this with a "Backup" function, but I was never able to get it to work. Ever. Part of the problem is that my hosting company, Media Temple, has a pathetically small time-out value for their Grid Hosting. If you have more than a couple hundred entries, this means Media Temple will never get to finish the job. So there goes my hopes of spending $49 at TP2WP.com for a quick and dirty conversion of my entries and comments to WordPress. Fortunately, Mihai at Pro-IT-Service has near-miraculous knowledge of all things Movable Type, and I was able to hire him to do the job for me for a reasonable fee (considering I have over 4,000 entries and nearly 52,000 comments!). He did a flawless job. Permalinks were preserved. Extended entries were merged to WP format. Categories were not only preserved, but he provided an .htaccess file update so that referrers to my categories would be redirected to a WordPress-friendly URL. Just like his previous work for me, Mihai totally delivered, and I couldn't be happier.
My hosting company allows me to host multiple domains on my account. All I have to do is create a folder in my "domains" directory, point my NameServers to their servers, and I'm done. This made it dead-simple to install WordPress in an unused domain, then just rename its folder to "blogography.com" after Mihai migrated my data. All I had to do then was let WordPress know that its domain had changed and I was done. For some reason I thought it would be a lot more difficult.
One of the things that I really, really liked about Movable Type was the option to go with statically-generated honest-to-goodness html files. You can do this with WordPress by using a clever plugin, but that adds a lot of overhead when you're working on converting your templates and are making lots of changes. For now, I plan on leaving things dynamic. But the security of having static html files that will still work even if your database craps out is something I'm too paranoid to resist for long. Even so, I am using the W3 Total Cache plugin so WordPress serves up pages more efficiently in the meanwhile.
Something you're forced to learn when switching from Movable Type to WordPress is that securing your site is a big deal. I learned this the hard way when I converted DaveCafe as a WordPress blog... and got hacked in four days. Yes, four days. I installed a bunch of security plugins to help clean up all the malicious code and my database, but was hacked again the following month. Eventually I just locked down WordPress completely by editing my .htaccess file so the back-end is completely inaccessible. Which means in order to work on DaveCafe, I first have to edit my .htaccess file. Then edit it back. Every time. It's a pain, but I only update the site a few times a year, so I can live with it. Obviously, this is not an option for a blog I'm updating every day. Enter the Better WP Security plugin. It seems comprehensive, so I'm hopeful. Then again, I've only been running for one day...
Back when I first began with my web hosting company, Media Temple, they had a backup tool included. But then they switched to their "Grid" service and backup was dropped. I never understood why. This is a BASIC FUCKING FUNCTION that even the cheapest hosting companies offer. Years later Media Temple managed to finally get around to it, but you have to pay for their premium "CloudTech" service to get it. At least you did. I have no idea what the situation is now. In any event, I'm done with dealing with this crap, so I'm using the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin to keep my data safe.
Going from a fringe product like Movable Type that few personal bloggers are using anymore... to a 10-ton gorilla like WordPress that everybody is using... well, it's quite an adjustment to make. I'm simply not used to having such a huge community available with instant answers to even my most bizarre problems. But the best part of WordPress is ACTUALLY DOCUMENTATION! Movable Type always had shit for documentation, and it's wonderful to not have to worry about putting up with outdated, shitty docs any more.
Another reason I'm ecstatic to finally be rid of Movable Type? WordPress has an active development community. Plugins are plentiful and current. You can extend functionality in just about every conceivable way. Finding new themes for you site design is easy... whether you want something free... or to pay for something more. And the apps! WordPress is well-supported because so many people are using it. My third-party blogging software, MarsEdit, barely supports Movable Type. Subcategories never worked right. A lot of features weren't supported. But with WordPress? An entirely different story. Everything works flawlessly. I can use categories again!
WordPress has an irritating schema that omits the ".html" extension on Pages. I have no idea why since they have no problems appending it to Posts, but there it is. It isn't too big of a problem... slapping some 301 redirects in my .htaccess file fixed the problem nicely. Which is a good thing, since Google's Custom Search refuses to work without it.
And now we've come full-circle to WordPress template-building. As I said, Movable Type has the upper hand here in a big way because they use simple tags. WordPress uses PHP code snippets. Which makes getting anything out of WordPress a bit more difficult (and, in the case of formatting comments, a hell of a lot more difficult). Still, once you get the hang of it, it's not too bad. Just not as easy as it could be.
When you've been blogging for 11 years, you're bound to accumulate a few broken links. Thanks to a plugin called Broken Link Checker, I now know I have 1,214 of them. Most are from people who left comments linking to their blog... which no longer exists. Kind of sad to see so many sites having died. I remain amazed mine isn't one of them.
Ultimately, I'm happy with the move. If the plugins I'm using will keep spammers and hackers at bay, I'll be very happy. My only regret is that I didn't do this much sooner. If you have a solution for migrating your data from Movable Type to WordPress, this isn't a difficult decision to make. The resources, tools, and activity benefits are pretty much a no-brainer.
And now I should probably work on getting my Archives page running, my comments formatted, and my comment form working... but it's past midnight and I'm all WordPressed out for the night.
P.S. Originally, I had coded big purple X's before all my posts on the WordPress blog so I could easily tell which site I was working on. After a couple hours, I actually grew to like them there (especially when scrolling through a long list of posts) so I think I'll keep 'em!
This morning I got dragged into the ol' "Kill Hitler Debate" where people were discussing whether or not they'd kill Baby Hitler if they had the power to go back in time. It was the whole "Is evil predestined so Baby Hitler deserves to die... or is Baby Hitler innocent because he hasn't done anything evil yet?" situation.
At first I remained silent, believing that the influences and circumstances that made Baby Hitler become Hitler would have ultimately ended up encouraging somebody else to fill the void left by Hitler's absence.
But eventually I chimed in with "I'd go back in time and kill myself before I decided to purchase a 1999 Saturn SC-2." It was a joke, but there are days that I actually think that way. To call my Saturn a pile of shit implies that it can serve a useful purpose... like fertilizing the lawn. As it is, a pile of shit is probably more valuable.
Which is my way of saying that even more crap is breaking off the my car. This time it was the emergency brake release button... which, coincidentally enough, also keeps the brake applied. Which means I have no emergency brake right now. Hope I don't have to stop on a hill until I get a replacement piece.
You would think something in your car with the word "emergency" in the name would be made of anything except cheap plastic.
But I suppose something has to fill the void left by Hitler.
Hope your Valentine's Day is a good one!
You can see the past ten years of Valentoons right here.
I am running out of things to reveal in these "Ten Things You Don't Know About Me" memes, but that doesn't stop people from tagging me!
One of my previous stabs at it can be found here.
And, without further delay, here's the latest...
I was also tagged in a "Ten Things You Don't Know About Me" meme having to do with books, television, and movies, which I didn't quite understand... but here is my attempt anyway...
And... I'm all memed out. Have a great weekend!
Time to put House of Cards on pause, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Random! Sometimes when I'm stuck on a phone call, I'll fire up Wikipedia and click on the Random Article link for a while (WARNING: no telling where that link takes you). It never ceases to amaze me what pops up. Yes, there's a lot of random stubs that flash by... but there's always a few articles of substance that will teach you something. Today my articles were... HUMAN TOOTH SHARPENING!... CERATONYKUS!... FRISKNEY!... and the HOUSTON THUNDERBEARS! — But be careful. If you click too fast, you could skip by something interesting (like NEW KOREAN ORTHOGRAPHY!) and not be able to get back to it (your browser's back button won't work). And who knows what knowledge tomorrow will bring? (perhaps the BARCELONA INTERNATIONAL EROTIC FILM FESTIVAL!).
• Ellen! Even without her personal announcement, Ellen Page's speech for the Human Rights Campaign this week was powerful, inspiring, and well worth watching...
I hope Ellen Page knows just how much her words mean to a lot of kids struggling with acceptance... not only with their sexuality, but with all the challenges they face because they're different... or merely perceived to be different. The more people keep speaking out for treating people with decency and respect, the more attitudes will change. And the more kids will feel less alone as they struggle to figure out their path in life.
• Please! Oh please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please please let this happen.
• Bloop! Because I just can't help it, I now present The LEGO Movie blooper reel...
Awww! Is there anything cuter than LEGO minifigs?
• Search! For years, I've been integrating Google Custom Search into Blogography. But it's grown increasingly unreliable, and I'm tired of having it fail when I go to use it. So when I switched to WordPress, I decided to dump it. Only to find that WordPress search sucks. It sucks so bad. And so I found my way to the Relevanssi plugin. It's an order of magnitude better than what comes with WP, for which I'm grateful. I just wish it had pictures like Google does. Everybody loves search that comes with pictures! Bummer. I do like how it highlights the search terms though.
• Archive! And while I'm on the never-ending subject of my migration to WordPress, I am compelled to bring up how crappy their archiving is compared to what I was using with Movable Type. Hopefully one day you'll be able to navigate between monthly archives without a plugin, but not today. Hopefully one day you'll be able to navigate subcategories within a category without hard-coding IDs in an array, but not today. Both of these are not revolutionary features by any means, and it mystifies me as to why they aren't included. Luckily WordPress is ever a work in progress. So maybe one day.
And now, if you'll excuse me, another episode of House of Cards awaits...
The mind-blowing thing about political dramas like House of Cards and Scandal is that you know... you just know... that the outrageous fiction the writers dream up for these shows undoubtedly pales in comparison to what really goes on behind closed doors in Washington, DC.
And no wonder. Politicians do all kinds of crazy shit because they can. Not that I blame them... I shudder to think about all the horrendous crap I'd get into if I had political power rendering me invincible from consequence and knew that a whole team of people are dedicated to cleaning up my messes. Seriously, what wouldn't I do under those circumstances? I just don't know. I'm not into drugs, but you don't think I'd be the first one in line to snort cocaine off a hooker's ass with John Boehner if given the chance? You're damn right I would! Drugs, hookers, theft... even murder... it's all on the table. Political power makes everything possible...
Which means it's probably good that a megalomaniac with an addictive personality like me has never run for office.
Don't be surprised if this page disappears one day in the future. I don't need it coming back to haunt me if I should ever decide to become a Congressman.
Because I'd like to think that I could resist an invitation from Paul Ryan to chase down homeless people in Foggy Bottom and taser them for sport, but you just never know what a taste of power is going to do to the mind of a politician.
If past precedent is any indication, they all end up fucked in the head sooner or later.
I had some work calls to make during my lunch hour, so I decided to catch up on Facebook while I was making small-talk. Despite current bullshit studies by managers with too much time on their hands who say multitasking is counterproductive, I can't fathom wasting my time by not doing multiple things at once.
And so there I was discussing ink limits for printing on plasticized board... when I lose my ability to speak. I somehow manage to end the call as my heart starts crushing my chest.
Long-time blogging friend, Tracy Lynn "Kap" Kaply, is gone.
It's impossible to reduce Kaply down to words. She was hysterically funny, yes. She was exceedingly kind, sure. She was delightfully raunchy, indeed. She was keenly observant, absolutely. She was craftily opinionated, no doubt. But to keep piling adjectives on her seems somehow a disservice when no amount of words will ever paint the whole picture of who she was. You had to know her to love her and, even though I didn't know her exceedingly well, I came to love her just the same. Your life was far more entertaining with Kaply in it than out of it, and I just don't know what higher praise I can offer than that...
You will note that she is wearing one of my "Try Evil" T-shirts. When looking for photos of her, it was almost impossible to find a recent image where she wasn't wearing one. She'd wear them until they were falling apart, then ask me to send her another one. And I always did. She told me that the T-shirt said everything about her that she wanted people passing her on the street to know. Adjective-free, of course.
I think the first time I met Kaply in person was back in 2007 at the first Daveattle blogger meet, but we had known each other online for years before that...
I'm pretty sure she introduced herself with "Yeah, I'm Kaply. Try not to fall down at my feet or anything embarrassing like that." Which is oddly typical of the Kap I would come to know.
It's more than a little sad to see that Kaply is the second person in this photo to leave us. Rick Leonard, another wonderful human being, passed on a while back.
People wonder why I act like a two-year-old most of the time. It's because growing up means your friends start to leave you.
And Kaply is somebody I just don't want to say goodbye to.
So I won't.
I'll just say that I will miss her.
Now if I could just figure out to do with all these fucking "Try Evil" T-shirts I had custom-printed in her size. It figures that Kap would go and die on me before she had worn them all. So typical. It's just like her to be sure that I had something hanging around to remember her by.
As if I could ever forget.
What a completely messed-up day.
I am *THIS* close to that psychotic break I've always dreamed of.
Here's hoping they have internet at the asylum for the criminally insane.
There are some days I don't know what the hell I'm doing on this planet.
Then I fire up a game of Portal and suddenly don't care any more...
...until I find out The Cake is a Lie.
Which pretty much sums up my day.
After getting slammed with snow for the past couple days, Stevens Pass was "chains required" this morning, which meant I had to go Blewett-Snoqualmie since it was merely "bare & wet." Unbeknownst to myself at the time of purchase, my piece-of-shit car is not able to wear chains, which means the fucker should have never been sold in the Pacific Northwest to begin with. Oh well. It's an additional 20 minutes to my travel time, but them's the breaks...
Great way to spend a snow day!
It seems so very simple. If you have a penis, you're male. If you have a vagina, you're female. Yes, there are people who are born with/without sexual organs that challenge this two-party system, but it's a rare event and shouldn't change established conventions, right?
Unless you happen to be one of those precious few people who aren't born 100% male or 100% female, in which case being forced to check a box on a form that doesn't address your sexual identity seems unfair. Society treats your existence like some kind of a mistake, when you're just living your life the way God or biology made you. And that IS unfair.
But it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Because a person's sex... even if defined 100%... doesn't necessarily match your intrinsic sexual being. Which is where gender enters the picture.
I was once working with a team on a massive project that consumed our lives. As the days flew by, all our waking moments were spent in each other's company and we became quite close. As we were eating dinner one evening, one of the guys was lamenting how tough the gay dating scene had become. He thought that "Straight World" had more opportunities for finding someone than "Planet Gay," and he had resigned himself to dying alone. I didn't know if it's true that straights have more opportunities, but I assured him that it was no easier for dorky straight guys like myself to find somebody. One of the ladies chimed in with horror stories of being a woman in dating hell, and the competition for who had it worse was on. Until...
"You all have it easy. Try being trans and finding somebody to date!"
Turns out Margot had started out in life as Mark.
This was a bit confusing to me. Trans? Meaning transexual? What does that even mean? The extent of my knowledge on the subject was hearing a crude joke about "chicks with dicks," which meant I knew absolutely nothing. And since I hate wallowing around in ignorance... especially when it comes to somebody as great as Margot... I did the only thing I knew how.
I asked her.
A part of me worried that asking about something so personal would be offensive, but Margot wasn't offended at all. I guess she would rather somebody care enough to ask than to speculate, which is true for all of us, I suppose. And so I found out how being born with a penis is not necessarily the defining attribute of a person's sexuality. Yes, young Mark liked boys, but his feelings went beyond identifying as "gay." He was never comfortable as a boy, never felt like a boy, didn't fit in as a boy, and felt trapped pretending to be a boy. It's not that he didn't want to BE a boy... penis notwithstanding, he simply WASN'T a boy. Not on the inside. So when it came time for the boy to become a man, Mark decided his sanity and survival depended on giving up on pretending and finally embracing who he was always meant to be... which turned out to be a woman.
Which is why I just don't get the continuing drama over Facebook adding a bunch of gender identity options for people's profile page. Apparently it makes some people "uncomfortable" to be exposed to the idea that humans exist who are not decisively male or female. And because they are "uncomfortable," these humans should be forced to conform to somebody else's personal standards as to what constitutes "gender."
And how fucked up is that?
Somebody telling you how to define who you are?
I mean, seriously, how does somebody wanting to identify as "trans" affect you? It makes you "uncomfortable?" Welcome to LIFE. If it makes them happy, makes their life bearable, makes them feel true to themselves, why would you give a fuck? It's their life. They are the one who has to live with it. Just be happy they're happy and live your own life for a change.
I don't understand how anybody thinks this world would be better off if everybody conformed to the exact specifications they have in their head as "normal." I have even a harder time understanding why people who feel this way decide to force their "normal" on others. Because, hey, everybody is abnormal to somebody.
Margot went through a fucking gauntlet to get to where she needed to be. Her entire childhood was a battle that most people wouldn't survive. She faces challenges in day-to-day life that would humble most people. And yet she made it through. She's figured out what makes her happy, and is content being who she is.
I think she's fucking earned the right to define her gender however the heck she wants to.
Anybody who disagrees doesn't have the strength to put themselves in her shoes for even ten minutes.
Which is a shame, because she always wears such nice ones.
My plans for yesterday were simple.
Work. Lunch. Shop. Memorial. Work. Fun.
Alas, everything came to a screeching halt after "Lunch" because my trip to Olive Garden resulted in gastrointestinal distress so bad that I would have been relieved if an alien were to burst out of my intestines...
Not an actual representation of my afternoon... but darn close.
Then things got a little depressing for me, because nobody wants their plans foiled by a plate of Fettuccine Alfredo.
Especially when the Fettuccine Alfredo isn't even real Fettuccine Alfredo, and is made with a cream base.
But then I saw a video of French goats playing on a "flexible steel ribbon," and everything was fine again...
I was drinking heavily at a Daytona 500 Race Day party yesterday, so prepare yourself for Bullet Sunday on Monday, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Gravity! Just in case you're one of the few people on earth who hasn't seen Kate Upton's Zero G photo shoot from Sports Illustrated, it is truly something you need to be checking out. Even if just to see the =ahem= "technical challenges" of shooting a swimsuit model in space...
You can see more at Sports Illustrated Online.
• History! I don't normally link to stuff like this, but there's a Reddit thread that is epic, and I can't stop looking at it. If you have even a passing interest in history, here's a black hole for you to fall into... What are two events that took place in the same time in history but don't seem like they would have?
• Egon! I was saddened to learn that actor/writer/director Harold Ramis has died at 69 years old today. While he is probably best known as Dr. Egon Spengler from Ghostbusters, he was also an actor, writer, or director on other amazing films I love... like Stripes and Groundhog Day. Such a hilariously smart and witty individual will be missed.
• Ivory! Prince William is wanting to remove and destroy all ivory art and artifacts in possession of the Royal Family as an example to other world leaders that elephant poaching should not be tolerated. While I applaud his efforts in saving these wonderful creatures from senseless slaughter, is destroying beautiful works of art really the way to do that? Yes, by all means, do whatever is necessary to defeat the ivory trade moving forward... but for those pieces already in the royal collection, the deed has been done. Destroying works of art is not going to bring those elephants back. I'd even go so far as to argue that if people start destroying the world's ivory, it's just going to make the stuff more enticing as a rare collectible, putting more elephants in danger. And what's next? Do we start burning priceless ancient books that were printed on vellum? Or are calves less worthy of protection? We're evolving to a society which is more compassionate towards animals, and that's wonderful. But show some compassion towards the artists of the past whose only sin was using "the material of the day" in their work.
• Heroes! I've already wrote about how much I fucking loathed the television show Heroes...
Just like with Odo, the non-shape-changing-shape-changing character on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Heroes was the show about non-super-powered-super-powered-heroes. And it just sucked. It was SO bad, and this is coming from a super-hero comic book junkie who lives for shit like this. And now I learn that NBC is resurrecting the show for a 13-episode mini-series. Really. REALLY?!? Because, aren't there like... i dunno... a MILLION television shows more worthy of return than this pile of shit? Probably. What a waste of time and money. Somebody bring back a show that actually mattered... like Firefly.
• Arizona! From the blog of George Takei, regarding Arizona's new bill allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers on religious grounds: "...The law is breathtaking in its scope. It gives bigotry against us gays and lesbians a powerful and unprecedented weapon. But your mean-spirited representatives and senators know this. They also know that it is going to be struck down eventually by the courts. But they passed it anyway, just to make their hateful opinion of us crystal clear. So let me make mine just as clear. If your Governor Jan Brewer signs this repugnant bill into law, make no mistake. We will not come. We will not spend. And we will urge everyone we know — from large corporations to small families on vacation — to boycott. Because you don’t deserve our dollars. Not one red cent..."
Just as I feel that businesspeople who believe selling flowers or cake is a "lifestyle endorsement" are businesspeople too stupid to survive economically... I also feel that they should have the right to be that stupid. But to pass a law which supports their stupidity? That IS an endorsement. An endorsement by politicians who are supposed to represent ALL of their constituents, including the LGBT community, equally and fairly. So, yes. I will absolutely take up George Takei's call to boycott if Governor Brewer is insanely stupid enough to sign SB-1062 into law. You don't have to be gay to oppose such blatantly anti-gay politics... you just have to be human. Ironically, the people who think this is truly about "religious freedom" instead of "an excuse to legalize persecution" seem to be the same people professing to want a smaller government that doesn't intrude on our lives. Do you smell it? The stench of hypocrisy has once again shit the bed.
And now I am still recovering from yesterday and too tired to keep blogging, so I guess this is goodnight.
Yesterday I went and saw The Monuments Men. Given the high-caliber cast (George Clooney, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Matt Damon, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett), I expected this was going to be a killer film. But it turns out that the cast was about the only thing I enjoyed. There just wasn't much of a story... the characters broke up into pairs and wandered around Europe trying to save art during the final days of World War II. The End. I was told this was a "caper" film... kind of like
Which is a shame, because the movie is based on real events that sound anything but boring.
I did see this poster in the theater...
That's Angelina Jolie starring as Maleficent.
Which would be the evil witch from Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty.
Heaven help me I actually want to see this film.
I strapped my iPhone to my sun visor for the drive over Stevens Pass in Washington State (through the Cascade Mountain Range on US Route 2). The rough road and weight of the iPhone moving the visor made for a messy (but pretty!) video... but everybody who keeps asking me to post a movie of the trip finally get's their wish! Music is Dream of Me (Based on Love's Theme) by OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) off their amazing album Liberator (and you can buy it here).
Pretty drive, is it not? I don't mind it so much when the roads are bare and the weather is nice, like today.
And... back to Real Life for a while.
This morning I woke up in a panic because I could no longer recall my CompuServe ID number. I don't know why it bothered me so much... I haven't used CompuServe in decades and there is no earthly reason I'd ever need to know it... but it did.
After thinking about it all day, I'm sure it's something like 74724.1609 — but that's not it. Darnit.
There was a time I was more familiar with my CompuServe ID than my own birthday. For those too young or not geeky enough to know what "CompuServe" was, Wikipedia to the rescue...
CompuServe (CompuServe Information Service, also known by its acronym CIS) was the first major commercial online service in the United States. It dominated the field during the 1980s and remained a major player through the mid-1990s, when it was sidelined by the rise of services such as AOL with monthly subscriptions rather than hourly rates.
While nowhere near as magical as the modern-day internet, CompuServe certainly felt more magical back in the day. Despite the fact it was glacially slow and massively expensive, it was 200% wonderful, and I would have spent all day using it if I had the time and money to do so. Finding new friends... joining common interest groups... exchanging information... downloading programs... doing research... even accessing a rudimentary internet gateway... CompuServe had it all. For a big fat price.
Luckily we all had Bulletin Board Systems to fill the gap. They were every bit as entertaining in their own way and, most importantly, free... assuming you could get past a busy signal.
Until AOL came along.
Cheaper, faster, prettier, more expansive, and a lot easier to use... AOL bested CompuServe in almost every way.
Just like the internet would eventually best AOL.
And everything else.
Still, nostalgia for the good ol' days dictates that I should still remember my CompuServe ID...
Nope. I got nuthin'.
Odds are, this post isn't going to be of any interest to you.
But the math geek in me feels that it should, so I am pushing onward.
Wolfram Research is a company that's been evolving the language of mathematics for over 25 years now. Initially, this was via a program called Mathematica, which I used back in the late 90's to map out data for a shareholder newsletter I was responsible for. It's an elegant and easy solution to creating visuals out of complex sets of information. Eventually Mathematica lead to Wolfram Alpha, a "computational knowledge engine." It's a really cool tool that anybody can use for free on the Wolfram Alpha website (click on the "examples" link to get some idea of the amazing things it can do). If you have an iPhone and ask Siri something which requires calculation, you're already familiar with Wolfram Alpha, because that's where Siri goes for answers.
Fast forward to today, and we get the Wolfram Language... a programming language leveraging the power of Mathematica. Mind-blowing stuff.
Galileo Galilei is noted for saying "Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe." If this is true, here's your chance to play God...
I think of myself as a kid learning how to program code using crude computer languages like BASIC and PASCAL, and I can't help but wonder what I might have created if tools like the Wolfram Language were around.
Oh the interesting times we live in.