Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another Needless List, Now with Helpful Links!

OK, here we go again...

1. Apparently Siegfried and Roy are back for one last time, to be broadcast on TV.

2. A dude with whom I went to high school and his dance crew are in the finals of the MTV show America's Best Dance Crew. He's the dude with the Yu-Gi-Oh! hair (okay, that's not very specific, isn't it?). It may be that hometown bias and the fact that I only watched their performance (not the other crew), but please vote for Quest Crew.

3. Sometimes I go to the Hot Chicks with Douchebags blog as a light-hearted pick-me-up. On that note, the reunion of singer/alleged abuse victim Rihanna and singer/alleged abuser Chris Brown will probably prompt the creation of a more serious blog called Talented Chicks with Assclowns.

4. Last night's Laker loss against Denver was due, at least in part, to lack of sleep. The Lakers apparently arrived in Denver at 5 AM after their blowout victory against former Laker Shaq and the Phoenix Suns.

5. Shaq's Twitter account is awesome. He encourages his fellow Tweeters (Twitterers?) to stalk him. After losing to Lakers, Shaq tweeted: "Ouch dat hurts, old fashion ass whoopin" but then bounced back the next game and scored 45 points in a blowout victory against Toronto.

6. There are two things wrong with the Elvis film Kid Galahad (an otherwise good film): (1) Not all Catholic priests are Irish with Irish accents, but I guess it's okay, since the boxer is supposed to be Irish or something; and (2) the mob could have never smashed Charles Bronson's hands.

7. Nadya Suleman is called Octomom because Quattuordecimomom isn't catchy, and as a symbol of the attention level paid to her first six kids. As well as the latter eight.

8. Apparently there is a second wind of cold/flu about this month, as the last time was in December. I gauge this anecdotally, of course. I just hope I don't catch this bug, as I'm rarely sick more than once per

9. Why is something called Teen Kids News broadcast after late-late night king Byron Allen's timeslot? Are there any insomniac and/or vampiric kids up at this hour? And why do the anchors look kind of old for the show? Are they like Benjamin Button kind of kids?

10. During my afternoon power nap (which turned into a relatively leisurely siesta), I dreamt that I was in some sort of epic dark/high fantasy scene, where I was an armorless swordsman riding a horse through the fog, with a bastard sword slung accross my back. I was with a large army of moderately-armored soldiers. We followed our leader into the fog. I dismounted my horse, sent the horse away, and drew my sword. Through the fog was a massive army of orcs and/or demons. I was pretty much a hacking and slashing (and sometimes punching) machine. It was awsome. I ended up in a corridor, where I killed as many as I could. I never found out what happened to the leader or the other soldiers.

Maybe I'll return there in a few minutes. It'll be like my personal Narnia. Goodnight!

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Friday, February 27, 2009

If You're Not Learning, You're Forgetting

Other than writing about using a netbook or about watching Lost, the only other topic I truly write about is my quest to become a polyglot, using the Pimsleur method (free-to-borrow eAudiobooks from NetLibrary, using my local library card). There are too few hours in the day, so scheduling time to learn a new language would have been an impossible task had it not been my desire to take time to exercise daily. When my body's on "autopilot" doing yoga poses or crunches, my brain is focusing how to ask a "Dutch woman" if she would like a beer or a glass of wine, and stuff about hotels. In any case, the late Dr. Pimsleur is THE MAN!

An unforeseen consequence of learning something new everyday is the positive effect on my (formerly useless) short-term memory. Or maybe it's my long-term memory doing some hard-drive-as-virtual-RAM human stuff. In any case, my brain hasn't felt this strong since, maybe not college but high school. Maybe the workouts have something to do with it, too. I shed some moderately massive college weight starting in late 2007 (thus stripping me of my uncanny ability to drink everyone under the table). So I guess learning something new every day has helped me reclaim my brain, and foreign languages seem to be the epitome of "new-new." Learning something new in, say, Pro Tools doesn't really count, since I've been fiddling with digital audio workstations since 1998. And editing video is a college skill.

The moral of the story: If you ain't learnin', yer forgettin'. In other words, quoth Bob Dylan: "He not busy being born is busy dying."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost (and Other Enumerated Musings)

1. This post will contain spoilers for those who have not seen the most recent episode of Lost.

2. It was obvious the Island has resurrection powers, and the resident rebirth deity (Locke) would be brought back to life.

3. Benjamin Linus is another example of what makes a (super)hero vs. a (super)villain. If he's a good guy with a noble goal, then what of his deceptive and sometimes villainous means?

4. Did Ben kill Penny? What of Desmond? And little Charlie?

5. Is Widmore the "good guy"? He was a jerk as a 17 year old, and he was a douche to Desmond in the 1990s.

6. It's all moral relativism, I guess. Objectively speaking, relativism is the bane of many growth-seeking civilizations, religions, and sports teams.

7. It's only a matter of time until they reveal the non-surprise that 1950s Ellie is the elderly Eloise Hawking. It would be a surprise if the show runners never point it out, or if they make it a point to contradict the obvious.

8. Now that I have only one more half-hour lesson left in my Dutch language course, I have been trying to figure out what language I should tackle next.

9. Last night's Lost provided some suggestions: They speak Arabic in Tunisia, right? But is it closer to Egyptian Arabic or Eastern Arabic (the available Pimsleur courses)? And what of the Spanish spoken in Dominican Republic? Would the Latin American Spanish be sufficient?

10. In any case, would another Germanic language interfere with my knowledge of Dutch? Or would it edify my etymological leanings?

11. Linguistically, should I stay in Europe and start bouncing around the world?

12. Another episode of Lost (the one where Desmond turns the key in the Swan) had two of Penny's employees speaking what is apparently Brazilian-ish Portuguese.

13. The Portuguese speakers have an HP Pavilion monitor from the 1990s at their workstation, the same one from my first desktop PC. That computer was purchased at Circuit City. It contained a 6 GB hard drive, and the employee who sold the computer was confident that 6 GB was more space than one could ever need.

14. In 1999 or 2000, I bought a USB mouse. I sometimes use it on EVE-ah the Netbook.

15. In another episode of Lost, there's a Sharp Carousel microwave in Desmond's 1990s flat. It is similar to the microwave from my childhood.

16. The night before last, I dreamt that I too was transported to the Island again. This is probably due to Lost being one of the few shows I watch on TV regularly. Or it could be a "memory."

17. In the dream, Ben Linus told me that in order to save the Island, I would need to find the Pillar of Davidson.

18. I'm pretty sure Ben was lying (to us). Get it? Linus?

19. "Pillar of Davidson" is a song from the 1990s by the band Live.



20. The sing-along chorus of the song (about two and a half minutes in) talks about a "Shepherd..."

21. The doctor character is named Jack Shephard.

22. Someone needs to do a Jack montage on YouTube set to "Pillar of Davidson."

23. The second plane crash kind of reminds me of the second prison in Prison Break. A somewhat back to basics approach.

24. At least Hurley bought a bunch of seats and refused to let other people board the plane.

25. It's awesome that Lapidus (the pilot) always lands his vehicle.

26. It's time for a banana, final Dutch lesson (for now), possibly some yogurt, and then sleep.

27. Or maybe a Heineken.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick Thoughts for Ash Wednesday

1. I missed the President's first State of the Union Address.

2. I'm trying to figure out the fastest way to get to an 8-core processor computer tower.

3. I recently purchased lots of blank CDs and DVDs at Circuit City. It's sad to see brick and mortar electronics stores go.

4. Learning conversational Dutch is still going well. Three more days' worth of lessons until I shift gears to another language.

5. The six Desmond-centric episodes of Lost (so far) would make a good time traveling, love story epic, brotha. Quickly, someone re-edit those episodes (as well as scenes from other episodes) to create a six-hour epic.

6. The Hot Chicks with Douchebags blog is racist against orange people.

7. The Patron Saint of HCwDb.com is a character nicknamed Pumpy (R.I.P.), who was cool with being made fun of on the blog.

8. Mutiny Universe has at least one ace up its collective sleeve.

9. I want to stay up at least four more hours until sunrise to get work done, but I think I'll get some sleep (which is a rarity) so I can continue in the morning.

10. I drank milk and ate chocolate chip cookies for dinner. I'd better get some sleep then to minimize the inevitably catastrophic effects of malnutrition and lack of sleep.

11. I totally missed out on Mardi Gras this year. I guess this means I don't have to do Lent, then (not that I would anyway).

12. OK, goodnight!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Taking the Desktop Offline

The primary function of my netbook - that is, going on the Internet - is going well enough that I've decided to take my workhorse desktop offline 90% of the time. Other than occasional administrative stuff, my desktop doesn't need to go online anymore. While I cannot make it a single-tasker yet (it's more of a double- or triple-tasker), I foresee my personal "slow food" computing revolution come to life.

My desktop handles music recording/mixing, video editing/animation, and (let's call it) advanced number crunching. I'll leave the trivial yet sometimes overwhelming multitude of Web-based and document-based tasks for the netbook, as well as personal entertainment and education: My netbook contains the Desmond-centric episodes of Lost in iTunes (in case I want to time travel with everyone's favorite Scottish-Peruvian Jesus), as well as eAudiobooks with limited library DRM licenses in the Windows Media Player. Until I can get my hands on an 8-core tower with lots of room for PCIe cards (make it two or three of 'em), I feel this is a good arrangement.

Desktop...netbook...screw notebooks (for now). Notebooks represent doing heavy lifting on the run. That's fine for some people, just not me. I'll do some extraordinary computer-based work with immobile equipment and quick work with lightweight equipment. I find it funny that the OK-sized 8.9 or 9-inch netbooks are now joined by newer 10-inch netbooks, apparently upgrading and growing until we get back to regular notebook laptop monitor sizes.

As for smart phones...I don't feel comfortable blogging with my thumbs. I don't quite understand 3G networks, either. I know there are USB antennas that connect to a service, but I don't know what constitutes a good price - and what kind of bandwidth limits come with the price. $60 per month just seems too steep to go online, when you can easily find outside Internet access at Starbucks (which I own...still, sadly) or at a public library. I think you get mere kilobytes for $20 per month access.

So here's my conclusion (currently) concerning notebook-sized laptops and 3G networks: If I have to go to Antarctica or the Amazon, I'll buy a Toughbook notebook and subscribe to a 3G network. I could blog while using the Toughbook as a shield against the elements and predatory animals. Until then, a subnotebook-sized netbook (with a five-hour battery) protected by a travel DVD player slip case, and carried in a regular backpack will do just fine.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Senator Bunning Lands on My Radar by Being an A-Hole

Apparently, the Republican Senator from Kentucky, Jim Bunning, anticipates the demise of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If they seemed like friends, it could be a case of the worry-warts, but as the media depicts their "relationship" (if any), the Senator is often described as "conservative," and the Justice "liberal." The conclusion, then, is that Bunning is an a-hole who wishes death upon ideological opposites.

Now I didn't know who Sen. Bunning is, so I Wiki'd the guy. I found out that (1) he used to be a pitcher in Major League Baseball (now in the Hall of Fame), (2) allegedly acted like a major league a-hole during the 2004 election (barely winning due to Dubya's win), and (3) makes a large salary running a namesake foundation that allegedly gives less than 25% of its proceeds to charity. I'm thinking of a word that begins with "ass" and ends in "hole." I guess Bunning's perfect game on June 21, 1964 went to his head, swelled it up, exploded, and transformed him into what can be described as an anus-like being.

Now what are Bunning's reelection chances in 2010?

This sort of behavior by those who claim to be "conservative" - whether it is calling half of America "the pro-America parts of America" or praying for the demise of those who believe in different means to the same end (Pat Robertson edges out Bunning on this douchiness), as well as the net track record of the previous eight years - is why "conservative" is the new misunderstood dirty word and "liberal" isn't really anymore. In the '90s, I mistakenly perceived that "conservative" had a bad, backwards connotation, and "liberal" had a better political/cultural connotation. I was rudely awakened in a post-9/11 world that "liberal" had always been a dirty word since about the '70s and a bunch of bandwagon Americans loved to be "conservative."

Regardless of whether these words are used correctly and coherently by all sides of opposition (like what the word "theory" means to scientists vs. creationists), I'm glad the nation is apparently catching up to my '90s perception. Okay, maybe not. National sentiment will probably meet me halfway, in that both "liberal" and "conservative" are "dirty words," or at least they're words to look up in the dictionary.

Remember, in this world of pop ideology, nuance and recognizing gray-areas show a "liberal bias"...whatever that means to you. In all seriousness, the true American goal is prosperity (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness...anyone?), and the means to get there is up for debate.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday's Stream of Consciousness

I can't think of one topic to write today, so I'll just ramble:

1. Working out (yoga poses, sit-ups, push-ups, etc.) while learning a foreign language (Dutch for this round) work well swimmingly. I'll wait until the eAudiobook teaches me to count so I can use dumbbells; I don't want to have one arm more toned than the other.

2. I'm not excited about the Oscars, which makes me think about the differences between "producers" and "consumers."

3. Apparently, the technologically advanced can install Apple's OS X on an obviously non-Apple netbook. I think that's pretty cool; I am also very amused at the o.s. flame war in the article's comments. People who buy into the "I'm a Mac/PC" advertising are, appropriately enough, consumers. Producers are folk who use whatever they can to actually do stuff, and in turn, sell that stuff to consumers, who in turn, waste potentially productive time debating the merits of the product they consume.

4. In any case, where applicable: Open-source > Proprietary.

5. Anthropomorphic bias holds that the human "spirit" > hardware and software.

6. While that commercial with the four-year old editing photos on Vista is pretty cute, I pretty much question these marketing firms and their handling of the personal computing platform competition. Likewise, the big selling point for the Mac to regular folk is that you get all sorts of easy stuff out of the box (and not, say, 8-core processors and lots of room to customize, then again that's for producers with money for equipment). It's like a competition of who's lowest common denominator. Add reality TV and regular Hollywood film fare, it's not the best description to be a consumer and do consumer things.

7. In short: Consumer = sheep.

8. Judeo-Christian theology holds certain symbolism of sheep, sacrificial lambs, and scapegoats. That said, is being a "sheep" a good or bad thing, and is there a distinction when you are talking about theology vs. the marketplace?

9. Rugged individualism is for people who neither have nor deserve any friends. Many who claim to this are actually fooling themselves.

10. Has human civilization always been akin to the hive/colony mentality of bees and ants?

11. If so, the Peter Principle holds true. Additionally, those who are good at something should never leave it for a "promotion" (a pay raise is better). Those who have a working knowledge at many things, but are otherwise incompetent, should run the show.

12. I feel that I am otherwise incompetent, and that is a good thing. I think that makes me more of a producer than a consumer.

13. In our civilzation in its current state, not everyone can be a producer. Who would consume, then?

14. If the open-source revolution jumps from the Internet to the material world, we wouldn't need the class distinctions to "consumer" and "producer."

15. Open-source is like geek communism. All we need is a nerdy Marx and a dorky Engels.

16. Of course, proprietary capitalism, which is also non-geeky capitalism, will do anything it can to squash upstart spazzy Lenins and poindexter Guevaras.

17. Dweeby Stalin and doofus Castro would still be douchebags.

18. Weird Mao will create his own type of open-source geek communism (as is the purpose of open-source), but that is another story for another day.

19. Conservatives will accuse liberals of being geek socialists because of open-source, but libertarians, while fiscally conservative, will see the merit of freedom in open-source philosophy.

20. I just needed to take another jab at social conservatives for not wanting to evolve.

21. Speaking of evolution and social conservatism, apparently the debate over Darwin hinges on the meaning of the word "theory."

22. The closet creationist (see #25) who advocated "intelligent design" would tend to dismiss the theory of evolution as just as "theory," and not "fact."

23. A scientist versed in the scientific method would say that a theory is built on facts. Facts are constantly proven and disproven, which give the theory its worth in science and application.

24. I wanted to write the previous handful of tidbits after watching a documentary on PBS about Darwin, evolution, intelligent design, religion, etc. Was that Nova or Frontline?

25. There is merit in creation myths as "truth."

26. There is a difference between truth and fact, as there is between fact and opinion.

27. "All men are created equal" is a truth, but if you look around, it isn't much of a fact.

28. That's why I would like to use tax dollars to give kids the opportunity, through education and some sort of inspiration, to succeed or fail when they are adults.

29. Other than that fiscally liberal viewpoint, I think I am a libertarian.

30. The problem with libertarianism is that they're so cool about freedom and tend not to think federally or globally, appropriately enough. It's a problem because that prevents the Libertarian Party from being a major party, at least from my understanding.

31. Yes, I am insinuating the dismantling of the big government, big brother, 1950s nostalgic monstrosity that is the Grand Old Party.

32. Abraham Lincoln is a icon of Washington proportions, regardless of political ideology. Modern day Republicans can no longer call themselves the Party of Lincoln. They might have some claim to being the Party of Reagan, but let's be honest: It's Bushtown.

33. We'll hold W. in nostalgia when his mess is finally cleaned up.

34. We'll criticize Obama for not cleaning it up fast enough.

35. Changing things on a supervillain scale will have to wait until things are fixed on a superhero level. The Bushies need not worry about Obama-Islamo-Communism, or whatever bogeyman of the day.

36. Yes, using the strawman army of "Bushies" as my example is an example of creating my own bogeyman. A link to current examples of anti-Obama strawman argumenation would help my case, but I'm on a stream of consciousness here! I have no time to Wiki right now!

37. I'm glad I can "write," but I could go for an editor to assist this tripe. And a publisher.

38. I could print out PDF documents to create an eBook or two, but I want a book publisher that has access to a distributor and a publicist.

39. I think I just locked myself into writing a book. If that is the case, I am in negotiations with myself to option the story for a screenplay.

40. Corporate intrigue is not only tortoises on top of tortoises, but it is also multiple-personality disorder. Yes, it's cool to be one's own boss, but it borders on the absurd to report to oneself on paper and approve your work through voted resolutions, and have the shareholders (which is also you) to reelect the board (also you) who watches the officers (also you) who manage the employees (someone else, if you can do something to save the economy by hiring folk who are not you).

And that, my friends, is how to save the world. Full disclosure: Of all the products/services mentioned or hinted, I own shares in Apple, Microsoft, Mutiny Universe, the DeRamos Group, and I'm a registered Democrat who voted for Obama. I think that covers it as honestly as possible. Cheers!

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've Settled on Dutch, and Dutch Lager

I've realized (once again) that I am not superhuman, so I've ceased attempting to learn multiple languages at once, instead learning one at a time. After all, I have other endeavors and work to do throughout the day. If I can use half an hour every day to listen to the eAudiobook, I should be able to converse in Dutch (like a four year old with language development issues, that is) in about a week.

Why Dutch? 1. I have Heineken in the fridge; 2. it's a Germanic language that sort of sounds like the pseudo-German we've all been exposed to in World War II movies; and 3. English is also a Germanic language. You can Wiki all that to verify (especially the Heine in my fridge part).

The week after, I should probably shift gears to a non-European language. Thereafter, I should try a non-French/non-Spanish Romance language, like Romanian. (Insert Dracula joke here.) Maybe I should invest in a wall map of the world and throwing darts to make decisions for me.

By the time I'm done with my library's collection of Pimsleur method eAudiobooks, I should have been doing actual profitable work concurrently, so I can actually travel to the countries where those languages are spoken, either as vacation travel or business trips. Of course, by the time I'm done, I can only hope that I've profited from the ever-shifting economy. Do you see how I'm all "optimistic" about the market going lower and lower each week?

I hope I won't get bored doing this and quit. That's always a risk in trying new things on a daily basis, but I've been a "musician" since my preteen years, a "filmmaker" since my second year in college, and an almost-daily blogger since mid-2007 (not counting my Xanga days in 2003). Having not mentioned any examples that highlight my flakiness, I think consistency in on my side.

I would write what I've learned so far, but I'm learning conversational language, not literacy.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

I Owe Dr. Pimsleur a Beer

It's too bad that Dr. Paul Pimsleur has been absent from this world of many languages for almost 33 years. I'll have to just drink one for him, for each language represented by the beer, wine, or liquor of origin (and/or cheese if I want to give my liver a break). Since acquiring a library card and gaining access to online eBooks and eAudiobooks for "free" (tax dollars in reality), I've decided to try to become an illiterate polyglot, using the Pimsleur Language Program. I have so far concurrently started with several languages to gauge how much my brain can take and calibrate accordingly. I'm leaving out the obvious choices of Spanish and French, and several identifiable Romance languages, until later on in my quest. I'm comfortable with some college Latin, and can recall some high school Spanish, so several closely related modern Romance languages might make my early attempts a bit too easy.

What I have learned so far is that in Dutch, you can switch the noun and verb with vocal inflection to make a question or statement. In Albanian, your vocal inflection/tone of voice determines whether it is a question or answer. Also, asking "Do you speak English?" in another language or "mistakenly" asking if a person is someone you know are apparently global pickup lines. All three languages I've heard so far (Croatian being the third) involves a running dialogue between American man and a woman from the language's country of origin, with a the objective instructor narrating. Dr. Pimsleur had enough foresight to deal with rejection by giving the "American man" follow up responses to getting rejected by the woman.

"Do you want to have a beer at one?"
"No."
"How about two?"
"No."
"Three?"
"No, I do not want to have a beer."
"How about wine later, at seven?"
"No."
"Why not?"
"You do not understand [this language]."

It's good stuff, my friends. I just might learn several languages along the way.

So far the Dutch lesson plan and the Croatian lesson plan have the same situation, so maybe it's not a good idea to learn more than one new language at the same time. The Albanian lesson plan is a bit different. I should try an Asian language or an African language soon. I think there's a Native American language in the library's catalog, but I'm not sure. Maybe I can concurrently learn one Indo-European language with a language from another continent and maybe with a third language from elsewhere.

Or I could just shove a USB cable into the back of my head and hit play, and see what happens.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tax Dollars Hard at Work

Well, I can't say that about several government-funded (i.e., you-funded) programs, but I give props to my county library system for sort of giving Barnes & Noble a run for the money. In other words, I finally got myself a library card (my first since grade school, not counting using my college ID as a de facto library card in college). I pay my taxes - I'm not quite sure whether it's sales taxes or property taxes that funnel to the local library system - so I had better take advantage of what my neighbors and I have been paying for all along.

The best thing that comes with the card, in my opinion, is access to netlibrary.com, which holds the library's collection of eAudiobooks and eBooks. Theoretically, I don't have to go out of my way to the nearest county branch to find a book for free. Unfortunately, the county's collection of eBooks is scant with a few self-help books, Cliff's Notes-type books, and not much else. The eAudiobooks collection (populated with DRM-filled Windows Media files) is slightly better, with a couple of Dan Brown, Stephen King, etc., novels "on tape" and more variety. I am a new fan of the language studies section of eAudiobooks.

I think I'm well on my way to be a polyglot. Now, if I can only make enough money for the plane ticket...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Last Week's Dreams

One night, I dreamt that there was a new ride at Disneyland. My job was to shoot water at the guests with a fire hose. I soaked every last one of 'em.

The next night, I was to write and/or direct the sequel to Highlander: The Musical. Seriously. This dream created its own historical context because Highlander: The Musical was apparently a smash hit in this reality. It was a challenge because I was limited to writing Queen-like songs or adapting the music of Queen; it was a quandary because the movie Highlander II disappointed me as a youngster due to shattering the mysticism with the notion of the planet Zeist. Did I create my own sequel? Or did I adapt the Zeist storyline? I don't remember, or it was never addressed in my dream.

Tomorrow's another episode of Lost. As long as no character (particularly Jacob) comes from the planet Zeist, I'll roll with whatever the showrunners have in mind. I feel as though I wrote this sentiment on this blog before (I know I mentioned this to people). Strange.

Anyhow, some night after, I was the drummer for The Rolling Stones. That was a cool one.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

ISOs, Virtual CD-ROMs, and My New Not-Netbook

For the first week, I tried my darnedest to keep EVE-ah the Netbook as limited in function as possible: A netbook that went on the Web, processed Open Office/regular MS Office documents, and played mp3s on iTunes.

I failed. EPIC FAIL, as the kids used to say maybe three to five years ago. I don't know what they say these days. Now that the phrase in my vocabulary, it's probably passé.

I discovered that the XP operating system on EVE-ah the Netbook could run ISO files (images of CD-ROMs) with a lightweight, free program from Microsoft. That's when the road to foolhardy multitasking personal computing began. Other than the relatively slower processor and a fraction of RAM, my netbook is - so far- a decent microcosm of my workhorse desktop. I could do the heavy lifting - the number-crunching, animating, and audio recording - on my desktop, and use the netbook on the road to demonstrate and/or slightly tweak what I've done in my office.

Overall, it's fantastic! However, it pains me a bit that I have to wait some time longer for my ideal of über-powerful, single-industry/category computers to come to reality. The single-tasking (well, slower multitasking, to be fair) revolution, which I feel is akin to the slow food movement, will have to wait.

I guess I'll have to wallow in my defeat by ordering something from a dollar menu somewhere.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

TV Tropes

TV Tropes is my new Wikipedia. It pretty much identifies examples of storytelling conventions, cliches, stock characters, plot points, symbolism, and themes (often sardonically and sometimes cynically) in various media: TV, film, literature, animation, video games, etc. As a storyteller in various media (self-proclaimed, anyhow), I thought I had a handle on various storytelling devices to either use effectively or satirically - but I have a feeling that enough time on this site will somehow expand my creative thought process. Or discourage me from using my imagination ever again (okay, that probably won't happen).

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Superheroism and Supervillainy; Nation-building and Change We Can Believe in

Earlier yesterday, I was reduced to tears laughing at the content of Superdickery. Apparently it is a four-year-old-plus meme (even longer for the savvy readers during the Silver Age of comic books). Among the content are covers and snippets of Superman killing/abusing Lois, Lana, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and other girlfriends; Superman abusing/humiliating lackey Jimmy Olsen like Eric Cartman to Butters; Superman beating up fellow superheroes, normal citizens, the elderly, and the disabled; Superman being racist to the Japanese during World War II; Superman turning into a successful Hitler-like global tyrant (with a pope hat); and situations that question the sexual orientation of Batman.

And yes, there's the overuse of the word boner (in its archaic usage but has always been funny in my lifetime).

It got me thinking about superheroes and supervillains. Unless they're comically inept like cartoon Skeletor, they're the same in skill. The big difference is that superheroes are almost always defensive/reactionary, while supervillians are almost always offensive (both pronunciations)/proactive. Superman (minus the douchy moments) and Batman (regardless of orientation) are almost always there to save the day. It's a reaction. Their goal is to get things back to "normal," the status quo - not a golden age of peace and prosperity, but a sort of uneasy balance until the next battle.

The Lex Luthors and Jokers of the world are forces of true destiny-shaping change, beyond rectifying mistakes of the past. They want peace, even if this peace is genocidal silence. They want prosperity, mostly for themselves, but also for the future that they make. Of course, the most egotistic of supervillains want to be a part of that future, too, as some schemes involve a quest for immortality.

In Christian theology (for the devout) or mythology/legend (for the objective), God's original universal order is the status quo. Lucifer, an agent of change, subverts it by rebelling, failing, falling, and creating mischief (hilarity ensues with naked people, a serpent, and a piece of fruit). And so we have the death-rebirth deity Jesus bring the universe back to zero by sacrificing, resurrecting, saving the lost, and presiding over a future Judgment Day (or two). Who's the villain, and who's the hero?

Looking at our government executives, legislators, and judiciaries, do they fit in with this hero/villain dichotomy? Does their agenda involve world-shaping change (often identified with supervillainy), or are their plans for their locality/province/country/the world more reactionary - to clean up a previous mess and reset back to zero? The real world isn't a comic book or an ancient folk tale, and it depends on your perception of zero - the ideal status quo. Is zero 1950s Americana? Pre-steam Europe? Pre-gunpowder Asia? A Levant of herders and foragers, devoid of civilization and empires? An Africa of early humans who did not think themselves separate from nature? A golden age, ruled by just gods and content humans? A brighter age of humans free from rulers, divine and peer?

Less than a month into the new US Presidential Administration, is this notion of change merely reactionary to the previous or groundbreaking? Remember, heroes are often the small rubber erasers of a pencil; villains are usually sharpened writing point. The left will more likely see Obama's agenda as the eraser of Bush, while the right will accuse Obama of being the pencil point for the bogeyman of socialism/communism/Islamo-fascism. The same could be said of Bush's "nation building" (villainy for many) or his post-9/11 "homeland security" (heroism for others).

It's just a thought, possibly a boner on my behalf.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

But Thou Must!

If you ever find yourself trying to rescue a kingdom from a Dragonlord, and saving the daughter of the king is an optional side quest, well, learn this lesson from the video game Dragon Warrior (the last 20 seconds):



If you do do the hero thing, you must be prepared for the possible "But thou must!" nagging. The hero business is always a crap shoot. That said, I hope you all had, at the very least, a reasonable Valentine's Day.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

I like that Friday the 13th falls this month and next month, too, because of February's 28 days. Well, that's all I can think to write right now (I could've just tweeted this post). And it's Valentine's Day tomorrow. Apparently metal jewelry (not gold) is the in-thing for this economy. I wonder if a soup bone and boiled water can make a romantic hobo dinner. I'm probably going to tweet all these wonderfully deep thoughts later today or tomorrow.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bailout, Round Two: Buy American?

Considering that the shows Lost and Prison Break have titles that are no longer appropriate (one is now Get Back [and Forth] and the other is now Four More Episodes that Have Nothing to Do with Breaking Out of Prison or Fleeing Like a Fugitive Anymore), we'll have to see if this second series of "Federal Bailouts" is any relevant. The bailout from the last administration was apparently squandered by executives taking bonuses, if the legislative tongue-lashing yesterday was any indication. We'll see what happens with the new administration's bailout. If anything, this "bailout" has so far been a FAIL, but not an EPIC FAIL (i.e., Iceland).

The other day, I was waiting in a hallway and overheard the beginnings of underdog Republican humor. I think the joke went like this:

Q: Why aren't the Democrats in Congress interested in the tax break aspects of the new bailout?
A: 'Cause they don't pay taxes in the first place!

It's a good start, Republicans. It's current, due to the tax dodgy streak of a couple of former Obama Cabinet nominees. Like most humor, it falls apart when you pick apart the "truthfulness" of the joke. Unfortunately, it's still a bit bully-like, when underdogs need to be self-effacing to be sympathetic and genuinely funny. It's still a good try, GOP! Just purge the Rush and Anne from your system, and inject some...I don't know...Drew Carey? Then again, Drew is apparently a Libertarian-Conservative, not a Police State/Big Brother Conservative like what has happened to the other side of the aisle these past eight years.

Okay, back to the bailout. If I recall correctly, there might be a condition in the final bill for some sort of "Buy American" sentiment, specifically for the endangered automakers of this country. On the Amazon.com Gold Box Forums, there's a poster who allegedly was flipped off by a sign-carrying commuter (the sign read Buy American) because the poster was driving a Japanese-brand automobile.

What constititutes "Buy American"? Is it the history of the company and its country of establishment? Is it the nationality of the majority shareholders, directors, and upper management? Is it the nationality of the employees? Is it the origin of the parts? The Big Three American automakers have some models built by Canadian and Mexican labor, but their American executives get big bonuses. By the same token, some Japanese automakers build their cars on American soil, with American auto workers; salaries affect the American economy but profits go to the corporate headquarters in Japan. What about American-brand cars made of parts not made in the USA? Your opinion might have fall on some sort of class bias, and that in and of itself is the beginnings of class warfare.

Some will take a nuanced approach when it comes to identifying what "Buy American" means, while others will have a Big Three mentality, akin to "Drill, baby, drill!" I am compelled to remind the reader that I have biases like you, and while ideological differences cause debate, the goal of prosperity for my fellow Americans remains.

All I have to say is that a company, foreign or domestic, deserves American-gotten profits as long as it employs my fellow Americans, and only if the company pays them fair wages. That said, I hope "Bailout, Round Two" helps. I want to go to the bank and take out several sizeable loans that aren't microloans. I too would like to do my part to fix this economy. More on that later!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

DO NOT Spin off "Scrubs" to "Scrubs: The Next Generation"

I'm glad I don't watch a lot of appointment TV as of late. I don't care for reality TV, even though I caught Monday's The Bachelor, due to a friend retitling it The Vagina Test Drive. I'm glad that I cannot commit to another day of 24. I haven't seen House in a while, and while I'd like to see another episode, I could pretty much imagine one in my head. I definitely make it a point to watch Lost tonight, but I am preparing myself for a Highlander 2-type disappointment at the end. If this "Jacob" character is an alien from the planet Zeist, I will be forced to exact some form of poetic justice to someone. I'll definitely sometimes catch what's left of NBC's "Must See TV" Thursdays (The Office, 30 Rock) semi-frequently.

So Scrubs used to be on the NBC network. The show got shuffled around the schedule so much that it ended up on ABC, to be shuffled around the schedule until people forget. I like(d) Scrubs. The episode where Encino Man (you know the guy from The Mummy) played dead along, Sixth Sense-style to Dr. Cox just went for the jugular. I enjoyed the masochistic sadness from that episode. I liked the fact the Dr. Cox predated Dr. House by years, and I liked that they addressed this issue a couple of times.

So I caught a few recent ABC episodes. Apparently the old guy retired but is still hanging around (and is less of a douche). Cox is the new Chief of Medicine. The main doctors (and nurse) are the veterans in charge. Not all the characters appear in all episodes. In fact, there's even one episode where the main Scrubs guy was just a disembodied voice from a cell phone. Those changes are all right for a show in its last (?) season.

What doesn't bode well for me is the introduction of the new newbies - these stock character interns. There's the happy doctor and the grumpy doctor, eternally paired together. And a bunch of other characters that don't matter. The ukulele girl (the lawyer's new girlfriend) is the only welcome addition. Apparently, Kate Micucci pursues quirky music in addition to landing acting gigs:



Is it me, or does the name Kate Micucci read like what a dirty old Gaelic-speaker would say? I might be mispronouncing what I'm reading. Anyhow, she's great. And Gaelic is great, too. I wouldn't have a first name if it weren't for the Irish branch of Gaels.

Anyhow, Micucci the singer-ukulele player also performs with a singer-guitarist in a duo called Garfunkel & Oates. If by chance they get to know me, I'd be happy to fill in as "Dunn" or "the tall dude from Air Supply."

Back to Scrubs: It seems like the show runners are angling for a continuation of ER proportions or a spin off of Saved by the Bell "caliber" (which is much too generous of a word), once several main characters leave the show. They should just let the show end.

That's it. Thanks again, EVE-ah the Netbook; you seem to have cured my writer's block.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blogging with EVE-ah the Netbook

After 11 years and 3 months of virtually daily personal computing (using the Apple IIe in grade school to play Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? doesn't count), I've come to the realization that multitasking computers are for consumers, and dedicated workhorses are for producers.

I'd like to think of myself in the latter category (why else would I have incorporated/organized two companies...to be increased in the coming weeks?). While I can't yet afford two Cheese Graters (a Mac Pro for video/Final Cut Pro and a Mac Pro for music/Pro Tools HD), I've started my anti-multi-tasking quest by buying a netbook: an Acer Aspire One. (I'll have to atone later for not practicing what I previously ranted, since I didn't buy the OLPC XO-1 for netbooking. I'll be sure to do something solid for the world's children in the near/distant future!) The AA1 has a similar color scheme to the WALL-E character EVE, so I named it accordingly: EVE-ah!

While the 3/4 size keyboard is a bit cramped, the netbook is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. The touchpad mouse is a bit awkward, compared to a regular notebook's touchpad. The netbook goes on the Internet quite well. Its non-existent CD/DVD drive is a non-issue, since most open-source software (Firefox, Open Office) and freeware (iTunes, Primo PDF) are just downloads away. I don't foresee doing anything on this machine other than moderate Web research, webmail, social networking, word processing, and playing mp3s on iTunes. And yes, blogging too.

If I need to edit video (or animate cartoons...more on that some other time) for Mutiny Universe or track instruments for DeRamos Music/the Society of Gloves, I still have the desktop I purchased when I was a high school teacher, which I've since proudly upgraded into a decent workhorse. But it's still a multitasker. I'd rather have a two dedicated beasts for extremely different artforms at separate locations (with all the PCIe slots filled with all sorts of divergent goodness). And yes, I also want a badass gaming PC with all the appropriate hardware for Diablo III.

'Cause when Diablo III comes, who has the time to create art or run several businesses? There's evil to vanquish, and demons to hunt!

Anyway, this has been my first blog entry from a netbook computer. So far, so good, EVE-ah. It's amazing how far laptop battery technology has come in recent years!

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Monday, February 9, 2009

I Might as Well Tweet Instead of Blog

1. twitter.com/deramos - I've been a Twitter-er (Tweeter?) since...2007? I've never been truly active on that site; I just have Twitterfeed (or something like that) post this blog (and others) automatically.

2. I didn't know today was the Grammys, until I caught some of it on TV. The only notable performance, in my book anyway, was Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood play Radiohead's "15 Step" with the USC Marching Band. These band geeks with lots of money/big loan/big scholarship get to play with Radiohead (partially). That's rad.

3. Back to Twitter, I need to find a way to update my Facebook statuses on Twitter, too.

4. The Lakers kicking ass on the road is no surprise.

5. The Clippers kicking ass recently, on the other hand, is a grand surprise. If they keep it up, I'd suspect they have an Angels in the Outfield type situation.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Fast. Random. Incoherent.

1. Iconic Obama Poster/Andre the Giant "Obey" artist Shepard Fairey was recently arrested for vandalism. Seeing that the whole "Obey" phenomenon wasn't exactly due to commissioned art, it's good the Mr. Fairey is still true to his roots.

2. This past week, Olympic hero Michael Phelps apologized like an awkward high school freshman after being caught smoking pot on a photo. That really doesn't help Phelps out with breaking free from the awkward high school freshman persona that he has when he's out of the pool. I say he should either smoke more pot or drink more often. (Kids, do not try this at home.) I mean, he already lost most of his endorsements. It's time for Phelps to turn into Dennis Rodman.

3. I wish someone could sync Christian Bale's douche-y tirade with Frank Grimes' nervous breakdown/electrocution from The Simpsons. Well, I wish someone did that before Bale apologized on the radio.





4. Does anyone know how to rip the pregap ("Track 0") from an audio CD? Common cynical wisdom says that hidden tracks at the end of albums are often not worth listening to, so what does that tell us about super-cryptic Easter egg tracks before the first track?

Okay, that's all I have for today.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Google Latitude?

Background info: http://www.google.com/latitude/intro.html

I remember watching Enemy of the State for the first time (rented it on VHS in the '90s), and while I'm sure governments and intelligence agencies can track anyone with an IP address or a cell phone signal, I'm not sure that kind of technology should be a mundane thing. I don't want my friends and neighbors tracking me down without my knowledge. And I reserve the right to fib when asked the idiomatically understandable but grammatically incorrect question, "Where you at?"

At least with YouTube (also owned by Google) regular folk can videotape the wrongs of The Man and post 'em for the world to see (i.e., the recent BART shooting). YouTube is the counterbalance to both surveillance cameras popping all over the place and abuses of power previously done in secret. Who watches the watchmen? YouTube users with cell phone camcorders do. Who watches the YouTube videos? Virtually everyone with a decent Internet connection will watch...and rate...and some of them are comment trolls, but that's another story.

I don't know if the same can be said for Google Latitude. It might be only good for parents tracking down their children, I suppose, but that is a potential security risk, since someone else could possibly track the children, too.

Full disclosure: I also own some Google, and I can't wait for their annual shareholder meeting so I can vote my mind. Hopefully they'll have something good on the ballot other than re-electing last year's directors. Technically, at least in some companies, if I show up to a shareholder meeting, I could make any number of proposals to rile up the investors...but who has that sort of time?

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Bill Gates: Release the Hounds!

I have renewed respect for part-time Microsoft chairman Bill Gates (now full-time philanthropist), but in a strange kind of way. For the greater good of humanity, Gates has apparently become Mr. Burns from The Simpsons and released the hounds (mosquitos, this time around) on the audience. The megalomaniac in me applauds this method.

It happens about five minutes into this video from TED:



If you're going to blame someone for Vista, it's CEO Steve Ballmer. By the way, for the sake of disclosure, I own some shares of Microsoft and bought more when the market crashed a few months ago. You can cut your losses by selling at a great capital loss (like many who are afraid in this economy), or you can cut your losses by buying low to average out the losses.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Love Jesus, But I Drink A Little (and Other Observations)

1. I totally missed out on Gladys Hardy the first time around, and apparently this 88+ year old (!) stay-at-home (?) phone call comedienne has a record deal with Warner Bros. and an album called I Love Jesus But I Drink A Little. Here's a video of Ms. Hardy making Ellen DeGeneres laugh:



2. Speaking of drinking a little, Pixarland (Disney's California Adventure) is awesome after a midday margarita. Regular Disneyland doesn't need booze because the entire place is an altered state. Anyhow, I was impressed with how far along California Disney has come since 2001, when it totally blew big baby chunks.

3. Lost Spoiler. Jin. Yes!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

List of Blurbs

1. I forgot Groundhog Day was two days ago.

2. I need to update Google Earth, for the sky, ocean, and Mars capabilities. Then I need to pour a glass of Scotch, travel virtually, and then travel in real life. Especially to Mars. I wonder if Google will make a "Google Time" add-on to Earth, with time travel capabilities. That would be fantastic.

3. President Obama wasn't kidding when he'd be the anti-Bush, being quick to say (in his characteristic talking pace): "Uh, look. I...scrwdup." Bush, at best, admitted to not having things the way he'd like and being misunderstood when it came to "Mission Accomplished"...and that was at the end of his Presidency. Having a President admit to screwing up as quickly as he screws up (this time, with all the tax-evading nominees) is quite refreshing, as long as he doesn't screw up a lot.

4. I can't wait until tomorrow's episode of Lost. Along with The Office and sometimes 30 Rock, it's essentially the only show I currently watch on TV.

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