43 entries categorized "WTF"

I’ve found my favourite headline of the day, and it’s not even 08:00 yet

What a send-off: China’s funeral strippers told to cover up

(CNN)—If you were mourning the loss of a loved one in China, at least the entertainment might have cheered you up. Until now.

In rural China, hiring exotic dancers to perform at wakes is an increasingly common practice, but is now the latest focus of the country’s crackdown on vice.

Strippers are invited to perform at funerals, often at great expense, to attract more mourners, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.

Another report suggested another motivation: that the performances “add to the fun.”

Photos obtained by CNN from an attendee at a village funeral in Cheng’an County in Hebei Province show mourners of all ages, including children, watching the performance.


Mathematically challenged

This morning in the cafe I arrived at the cash register with my meal card to pay for breakfast. I’ve done this hundreds of times, it’s in no way remarkable.

Then my brain kicked in. Or maybe it tripped, or cramped.

The friendly cashier tallied up my purchases. “That will be seven dollars,” he said. It’s always seven dollars, the particular combination of items I’ve chosen over the last couple of weeks. We marveled, again, like we have for the last five or six visits, how isn’t it amazing that it always comes out to an even dollar amount?

So I swiped my meal card, knowing I probably didn’t have quite enough cash value to cover the purchase, and sure enough I was short. “You owe $3.73,” the cashier said.

That’s when the brain kick/trip/cramp started. I fished out my wallet, opened it, saw I had a single bill, and the first thought that flashed through my head was:

Oh shit, I only have a five.

Somehow I managed not to blurt this aloud. I think the part of my brain that was stumbling over the math was also being slapped by the other part of my brain that prevented my mouth from moving and made me just reach out, jerkily, to offer the bill to the cashier, who took it as if nothing was wrong.

If only he’d seen the briefly colossal battle inside my head.


Flashbacks?

So today, a couple of things:

On the drive home from work—which was itself unusual, I haven’t driven to work without a specific reason (like after-work plans or errands I need to run midday) in I don’t even know how long—I found myself belting out If That’s What It Takes. Which got me to thinking:

  1. HOW IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE that I know all the words to this song.
  2. Why didn’t I notice what I was singing until the last 30 seconds?

Thank God no one else could hear me in stop-and-go traffic with my windows rolled up, though this kinda shoots that all to hell.

Then for dinner tonight: Fish sticks.

Frozen crunchy goodness.I can’t remember exactly when I last had fish in stick form. I mean, I’ve had fish & chips fairly regularly over the last few years, but that fish is more wedge-shaped or (in many Seattle-area restaurants anyway) random–filet-shaped. There have been other fish entrées in restaurants fairly regularly over the last few years. And I grill fish on a regular basis year-round, mainly because I like to watch the planks burst into flame. But the stick form, they fell out of my life when I was, oh, maybe 12 or 13, and didn’t make another appearance until tonight.

And oh were they good. Crunchy little things, 2 by 1/2 by 1/4 inches. I remember them being much bigger when I was a kid, by which I mean about the same length and width but maybe twice as thick. Also soggier, no matter how long you baked them, but maybe the bigness was cuz I was smaller and now I’m an adult and most things from my childhood seem smaller, like the time I voted at my elementary school and I needed to use a restroom and I thought, good Lord, I’d have to kneel use these urinals.


Today’s earworm, and its source

Set the Way-Back Machine to today, 06:50ish.

I’m waiting at the 4th & Pike bus stop for the Sound Transit 545 to Redmond. I’m holding my freshly prepared (and still a smidge too hot to drink) small skinny vanilla latte from the Seattle’s Best down the street, watching the traffic roll past.

A good many vehicles pass that location in the usually five or six minutes I have to wait for the 545. Fair number of buses, many private vehicles and business trucks/vans/whatever.

One truck catches my eye. Smallish tanker truck, it looks like the type that might deliver heating oil in the suburbs. The company name emblazoned on its side:

BAKER COMMODITIES INC.

In no way remarkable, no idea why it catches my eye.

So then my brain goes into overdrive in something like the following sequence of thoughts, which probably requires all of 10 seconds start to finish:

  1. I wonder what they sell.
  2. I should look them up when I get to work.1
  3. Commodities. Oil, grain, coal, copper, ....
  4. “Commodity” and “commode” are similar words. Same root? I should check that.2
  5. “Commode”—toilet.
  6. Toilet—potty.
  7. “Get off the pot” hee hee.
  8. BAM earworm of “Beauty School Dropout” from Grease.

Dammit!


  1. No idea why I didn’t just whip out my iPhone right at that moment.
  2. Yes.

Casually overwrought

Without comment, I present in its umodified entirety the severe-weather alert I saw for Seattle just now:

... SNOW POTENTIAL THIS WEEKEND AND IN THE WEEK TO COME... A COLD AND SHOWERY AIR MASS WILL SPREAD ACROSS WESTERN WASHINGTON THIS WEEKEND. SNOW LEVELS WILL FALL TO 1000 FEET ON SATURDAY AND THEN TO NEAR SEA LEVEL OR JUST A COUPLE HUNDRED FEET ON SUNDAY MORNING. IN SHOWERY PATTERNS... SNOW ACCUMULATIONS CAN BE HIGHLY LOCALIZED... DEPENDING ON ELEVATION AND HOW CONVERGENCE ZONES DECIDE TO FORM. LOCATIONS FROM SEATTLE NORTH TO THE ISLANDS AND SKAGIT COUNTY WOULD BE THE MOST LIKELY PLACES TO SEE ACCUMULATING SNOW... BUT ANYWHERE STANDS A CHANCE. LOCATIONS THAT GET SNOW COULD GET A FEW INCHES... WHILE MANY OTHER LOCATIONS WILL JUST GET FLURRIES OR LEFT OUT ALTOGETHER. THE CHARACTER OF THE EVENT WILL BE SIMILAR TO THE ONE THAT HAPPENED ON DECEMBER 29TH... THOUGH THE EXACT LOCATION OF THE HEAVIER SNOWS COULD VERY WELL BE DIFFERENT. MONDAY AND TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK WILL BE COLD AND DRY. STARTING WEDNESDAY THROUGH THE END OF NEXT WEEK... THERE IS THE POTENTIAL FOR A WIDESPREAD HEAVY SNOW EVENT SOMEWHERE IN WESTERN WASHINGTON. GREAT UNCERTAINTY INHERENTLY EXISTS IN A FORECAST WITH THIS MUCH LEAD TIME... AND IT IS POSSIBLE THAT A HEAVY SNOW SITUATION WILL NOT HAPPEN. CHECK BACK LATE THIS WEEKEND OR BY MONDAY FOR THE LATEST ON THIS POTENTIAL HIGH-IMPACT EVENT. IF THE POTENTIAL STILL EXISTS AT THAT TIME... THEN THE DRY WEATHER ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY WOULD AFFORD AN EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY TO PREPARE.

What kind of day has it been

An indicator of how this Monday will likely go:

I required five attempts to leave the house successfully. I believe this is a personal best.

First try: Realized I had forgotten my work badge (and, by extension, my transit card since they’re in the same badge holder).

Second try: Forgot Netflix DVDs for return mail.

Third try: Turned to lock door, determined this would be difficult since keys were still on the shelf inside my apartment.

Fourth try: Halfway down the stairs, remembered my wallet was still on my desk in the living room.

Fifth try: Half a block away, noticed my phone’s charge level was only 63%. Considered returning for the wall charger, remembered I have a USB charge cable on my desk at work.

So then. How’s your Monday?


Rather an unproductive first day

I walked into my bedroom just now with the sole intent of taking my shoes off.

When I walked out of my bedroom, I had opened the blinds and bedroom window, and turned on a fan. I still had my shoes on, which did not register on me until I walked into the kitchen and did not feel Purina Cat Chow gouging my toes.

This little vignette rather well describes my day at work, wherein I accomplished nothing beyond rebuilding a single Dell XPS M1530 laptop four times despite its repeated need to shut down without warning, I believe due to overheating. I would just get to a point where I could do useful work BAM shutdown, leaving the OS installation in a state of chaos it charmingly deems “improper shutdown”—really this is their code phrase for “gaslight the hapless user by making him run the recovery and diagnostics tools repeatedly”—off I’d go again, restore point in place and just get things set up BAM shutdown.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I managed to contribute peripherally to a couple of problem solutions, entirely by overhearing the conversations in our group work area. Though one of those solutions was really just a few ideas toward a solution—no idea if that one panned out, I gave up and left at 14:45 because I needed to call Dell technical support and my cell-phone battery was nearly dead, its charger lying 7 miles away (as the crow flies) on my desk at home.

The actually helpful (!) Dell technical support representative, who gave her name as Rachel in an attempt to induce in me a belief that she was from the upper midwest (most likely somewhere near Indianapolis) despite her obviously exotic accent, took over control my laptop from God knows how many thousands of miles away and rapidly determined that the problem was an old BIOS, along with two general drivers. But then she noticed I was using Windows 7, and the machine I have is supported only for Windows Vista, because her scripts don’t cover Windows 7. She could offer me further fee-based support, she’d be most pleased to do so!, but I opted to end the call and muddle through various BIOS and driver updates myself.

So far it seems maybe it worked. Laptop has been running for three hours now without a single heat-related sudden shutdown. No sudden shutdowns at all, in fact, only the 12 separate restarts required to install all of the OS and driver updates I found. And they don’t count because the installers warned me about ’em each time.

So yeah. Here’s hoping the remainder of the week is a bit more productive and a bit less technical-support-requiring.

Also I plan to wear no shoes.


I hate this type of bullshit marketing

Got home today, retrieved the mail.

Found this vaguely alarming-looking item:

Official-looking notice from Consumer Reports
I am a Consumer Reports subscriber, but online only. I prefer to keep the paper out of my house, and it’s easier to search for ratings and product info online than by rooting through old magazines.

One of those rip-off-the-edges types of things. So rip off I did, and I found this:

Damnable marketers!
It doesn’t say what the benefits on my account are, so I went to the site and found....

It’s an offer to subscribe to the print magazine for a year, a buck an issue.

Seems skeezy for a consumer organization like Consumer Reports to resort to this type of marketing in an attempt to maintain or increase their print subscriber base.

But it’s nice they admonish me to recycle the notice, even as they’re asking me to contribute to paper waste by subscribing to their print magazine when I’m already an electronic subscriber.


Blue for colon?

Saw this just now in my Twitter stream:

Remember, tomorrow is national wear blue day for colon cancer awareness. http://bit.ly/aVVzA2 /via @Swedish

And I thought, blue. For colon cancer, really, BLUE?

At least with breast cancer there’s a (possibly tenuous, and definitely 12-year-old-humour) link with its color. Pink = areola, so obvious.

But blue? For colon-cancer awareness?

Though we all know why they couldn’t choose the most obvious color, brown:

Everyone would spend the day being mistaken for UPS deliverypersons.


Proving wrong the old adage about stuff not growing on trees*

Via a BBC News article:

A novel—and natural—way of creating new bones for humans could be just a few years away.

Scientists in Italy have developed a way of turning rattan wood into bone that is almost identical to the human tissue.

* Yes, I know rattans are not, strictly speaking, trees, but are more like vines. But the metaphor/lame joke doesn’t work if the facts are paid strict attention.


The problem of Zooey Deschanel

I’m watching (500) Days of Summer and liking it, a lot.

I put it in my Netflix queue because it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I first saw in “3rd Rock from the Sun” (and good Lord, that show ended NINE YEARS AGO?), and a bit later in 10 Things I Hate About You, which I loved. Still do—it was one of the first DVDs I owned, in fact.

“(500) Days of Summer” movie poster (click for larger) Recently I heard about this little indie film, (500) Days of Summer, about a guy who falls in love with a girl who doesn’t. And oh by the way it stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whom I like. Into the Netflix queue it goes.

Only then do I realize: It also stars Zooey Deschanel, whom I dislike.

Now if you ask my family about times in the past when I’ve expressed disdain for actors or actresses, it’s very likely they’ll tell you about the time I declared my utter undying HATRED for Steve Martin. How I went on for a good while about how he’d never been in any good movies, never would be. A useless pile of flesh who somehow managed to be cast in movies and by his very presence contaminated them.

The problem with this declaration of utter undying HATRED was, however, that I actually like Steve Martin. I like several movies he’s been in, among them Parenthood and Roxanne and All of Me, and I’ve enjoyed his comedy bits and his TV appearances and his banjo-playing and many of his essays and other writings, even. It's the damnedest thing, then, that at some point in my life I spent a minimum of 20 minutes describing in vivid detail my absolute contempt for Steve Martin, until Katharine reminded me about Parenthood and All of Me and what about Roxanne and oh, yeah, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and L.A. Story? And I said, hey, the first two times I saw L.A. Story, I did hate it, well at least didn’t like it much, but now it’s grown on me a bit, and really it turns out I don’t hate Steve Martin at all. I just don’t like a couple movies he was in.

Ever since then, when I’ve said I didn’t like an actor, I’ve been reminded of my Steve Martin declaration and its utter insanity.

“Tin Man” poster (click for larger)My dislike of Zooey Deschanel is based mainly on one astoundingly lame turn, her appearance in a SciFi (I can’t bring myself to type that channel’s lame new spelling of its name and since the show I’m going to talk about was before the branding change anyway, puh hah) miniseries called “Tin Man”, a reimagining of The Wizard of Oz for the video-game and text-message era. Zooey Deschanel played DG, the updated Dorothy, with perfect vapidity and a strange detachment that made it seem like she was rotoscoped into the scenes after the fact.

And she was in Eulogy, where multiple generations of a family get together for the patriarch’s funeral and all the secrets come out of the woodwork, and it was like she was channeling her DG self several years in the future.

But now she’s playing Summer in this movie (500) Days of Summer and I find myself thinking, goddammit. She’s good in this. I’m liking her in spite of myself, and it annoys me, because I’m not just liking the character, I’m specifically liking her portrayal of the character.

So.

Who can recommend me a Zooey Deschanel flick that will re-validate my hostility?


Percussive fashion?

Walked into the restroom just now.

Greeted by loud metal-on-metal crashing sounds from one of the stalls. Sound stopped, I think when the person realized there was someone else in the restroom, then resumed a few seconds later, accompanied by grunts.

“Are... you all right in there?” I asked.

Crashing stopped. “Yeah,” he answered. “I’m having trouble with my belt.” And the crashing resumed, continued until I left the restroom a couple minutes later.

Hell of a belt, I guess.


BBC - Earth News - Giant ‘meat-eating’ plant found

A new species of giant carnivorous plant has been discovered in the highlands of the central Philippines.

The pitcher plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is so big that it can catch rats as well as insects in its leafy trap.

via news.bbc.co.uk

Fascinating. Also: I can never go anywhere near the central Philippine highlands—in fact, I’m a bit leery of their existence with us ON THE SAME PLANET.


The power of observation, I guess

So this morning at IHOP the server asked if I wanted my usual, and I said, uh, what is my usual? and she said eggs over medium and pancakes with link sausage, and I said, how do you know that? I’ve only had that once here and you weren’t my server, and she said, when folks come in two Sundays in a row, they always get the same thing.

It was kinda creepy. But the food was good.


How my workday is going

I just spent several minutes staring at the names of two permissions groups, trying to figure out

  1. why there were two groups with the same name, and
  2. how anyone had MANAGED to save two groups with the same name. When I try that, the system bitch-slaps me.

Turns out one had a hyphen where the other had an underscore.

It is by such simple means that I can be trapped utterly into the world of Must Figure This Out Or It Will Kill Me!!!.

I am an easy mark.


Insomnia blows

I worked late on Wednesday and I have to go in early Thursday. These two simple facts have turned my brain against me and I’m lying here in the soft glow of my phone’s screen, typing a mobile post about how I’m not sleeping right now.

This is a crazy world.


Flying carpets


Flying carpets
Flickr: Don Nunn
Balcony door was open, warm in the apartment and I was cooking. I kept hearing these odd boom/crash sounds. I wasn’t sure if it was a car backfiring or, who knows, gunshots or whatever.

When I went outside, I caught the end of the carpet installers’ four-floors-up carpet-tossing act.

My Treo’s microphone does no justice to the loudness of the slamming sound these carpet remnants were making.

I love living in the city. :-)


Who goes there?

It’s a little blustery tonight.

Across the street is a tree that moves in the breeze across the line of sight between my balcony and the security light on the building directly south of mine.

The tree’s crossing the light keeps making me think there is someone walking across my balcony. In the last few minutes I’ve had several WTF moments.

Time, methinks, for bed. Have a nice Sunday night. :-)


On the rain in Seattle

We have a Pineapple Express-style storm rolling through Seattle today and tomorrow. I’m quite enjoying it, mainly because I’ve been home from work for five hours now and avoided the majority of the afternoon rush hour, one advantage to my early work schedule. I usually beat traffic unless there’s a crash or something.

I did, however, experience some of the usual Seattle Rainy Day joy. In this city with its reputation for endless rain and the gorgeously green landscape that accompanies, once again I was amazed by the sameness of the rainy-weather experience.

Some things never change:

  • I was angrily glared at, flipped off, honked at, passed stupidly closely, or cut off several times on my way west on SR 520, all because I was leaving several carlengths of empty space ahead of me and apparently Seattleites aren’t happy unless EVERY GODDAMNED INCH OF HIGHWAY is covered over by crawling vehicles.
  • Several spin-out crashes reported on the traffic updates in the 30 minutes I was on the road between Redmond and Queen Anne. This lack of willingness to slow down just mystifies me, particularly when people aren’t very good at braking correctly even when the pavement’s bone-dry.
  • Several cars I saw, the drivers seemed dead set against using the windshield wipers. At a couple points I was wishing my car’s wipers had something beyond the normal and fast options, perhaps an OH SHIT I CAN’T SEE A DAMNED THING setting that made the wipers invisible, they were zapping back and forth so fast. How can anyone think not using wipers at all is a good thing, even in the mildly misty rain we usually have?

Each of these happens every time we get rain here, particularly if there’s been more than about 12 minutes since the last storm. I just don’t get it, EVERY TIME.

Can anyone splain this to me?


So I was standing at the urinal just now

And I was thinking, hey dude in the stall by the sinks, you should turn your phone to its “silent” mode if you’re going to press a lot of buttons while you’re doing your natural business in there, because it sounds like you’re emitting an oddly staccato but low-pitched grunt otherwise.

Then I thought: Speaking of phones, I just put my phone in my pocket. Did I lock the keys?

Next thought: Wait. That sounds a lot like my phone.

Final thought, as somehow I managed to maintain my aim while I dug my phone out of my pocket and looked at the screen to see the short stack of random calendar events created by the keyboard presses the phone had endured in my pocket: Dammit, I really need to dig out my phone belt clip again. And stop, in the silences of my mind, giving other people shit about their weird bathroom habits.


Compromised

This morning I was horrified to discover I left my apartment front door unlocked all night, and I left my front passenger window rolled down when I got home yesterday afternoon.

Strictly from a personal– or property-safety perspective, neither of these is cause for huge concern. The part of town where I live isn’t a massively high-crime area, and I live in a secured building so the front-door thing was less a personal security risk and more a memory failing. And while there have been some vehicle break-ins in this neighborhood over the years, there have been none in my building’s parking lot in the year and a half I’ve lived here.

It’s much more the lapses of memory that wig me out.

While I was lying in bed last night, just before I drifted off, I did wonder to myself if I had locked the door after I got home from the day’s activities. But I dismissed the concern out of hand, so when I reached to disengage the deadbolt this morning on my way to work, I thought: Did I already unlock the door this morning? Why, if I did? And if not, why didn’t I listen to myself last night when I wondered if I had locked it?

Even though my building is secured and my neighbors are pretty low-key, I normally lock my door the moment I close it because my apartment door is at the end of a corridor with an exit stairway door immediately to its right. I would lock the door immediately more often than not, but I purposefully got into the habit after the time a few months ago when a man I’d never seen before (nor since) walked into my apartment thinking he was opening the stairwell door. He didn’t immediately realize his mistake and turn around even when he saw a coat tree and a litter box instead of a stairway, or perhaps he just figured someone was using the stairwell as a storage space of some kind. So he continued further into my apartment, I guess thinking maybe the stairway was around the corridor or maybe off the bedroom.

Shocked looks on both our faces when I came out of the kitchen to ask him just what the hell did he think he was doing? He mumbled something about looking for the stairwell and hastily backed out the door, and I started keeping the door locked all the time.

The car thing is a little more disconcerting. I had both front windows rolled down on my drive home yesterday afternoon, and I clearly remember closing the driver-side window when I got home. Passenger window didn’t even register on my mind at all, in fact I didn’t notice it was open until I started the car and thought, hmm, seems louder than usual.

And sound louder it does when the window’s open, idiot!

I did the quick once-over: Glove compartment, center console, visors, stereo intact. Nothing was missing or even appeared disturbed.

Signs of approaching middle age, I suppose. Urk.


KFC’s “Kitchen Fresh Chicken” slogan

Just saw an ad for this, in which Terminally Happy Commercial Minions spout off about “Kitchen Fresh Chicken” and how wonderful it is, and then the one Guy Who Figures It Out says, “That’s such a mouthful! They oughta just call it KFC!”

But at that moment, there’s a fine-print disclaimer at the bottom of the screen:

Fresh claim not applicable in Alaska, Hawaii due to unusual supply outages.

Translated, courtesy of an intercepted telegram:

CHICKEN BITZ FROZE AND/OR MELTED ON WAY TO STORE STOP
NEW SUPPLY DELAYED BY POLAR BEARS AND/OR SHARKS STOP
COOK AND SELL IMMEDIATELY CURRENT SUPPLY STOP
DO NOT USE WORD ‘FRESH’ AT ANY TIME STOP