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66 entries from May 2004

Today’s cable outage

In my brief stay here in the Valley of the Sun, I’ve used Cox Communications’ high-speed Internet service. It’s the first time I’ve had cable Internet; always before, my broadband access at home has been via DSL.

I liked the Qwest 256Kbps DSL in Salt Lake, and the Verizon 768Kbps DSL in Seattle was quite nice. Never had any outages with either of those services that resulted in a call to their tech-support folks—in nearly 5 years of broadband use, a pretty damned good record.

I got to Phoenix April 17, activated my Cox high-speed the next day. From the second week I’ve had it, I’ve encountered daily outages starting sometime between 03:20 and 03:40. I know this because my desktop machine runs email checks every 20 minutes, and the 03:20 check has succeeded but the 03:40 and following checks fail.

Most times these problems resolve themselves within two or three hours, based again on the failed connection attempts by the email system. The error log shows failures every 20 minutes for a few hours before the connections resume.

But starting Friday, the cable modem was still blinking slowly around 11:30, trying and failing repeatedly to synchronize its signal. So I finally called Cox and got right through to a helpful technician who ran me through all the troubleshooting steps I’d already tried (reset the modem, reset my router, etc.). Eventually I rang off, left the modem to its blinking, and left the apartment to run some errands. When I got home several hours later, the modem had synced up and all was well.

Yesterday it went down again for 5 hours but was restored by 10:00. Today, the same thing. The desktop machine shows failed connection attempts starting with its scheduled mail check at 03:40 and continuing until about 20 minutes ago, after I’d reset the modem every 15-20 minutes starting at 07:30.

I don’t know anyone else who uses Cox, and the tech-support folks tell me there have been no outages or problems reported by people in this area. But surely if there is some larger problem, I can’t be the only person experiencing it. The fact that whatever problem I have occurs between 03:20 and 03:40 every day leads me to believe Cox must have something happen at about that hour, something that’s kicking my modem offline.

Anyone else got trouble similar to this, with Cox or any other provider? I’d appreciate any tips on it, even though I’ll only be here for another few days.

Mac OS X "Panther" 10.3.4 update on my dual-G4 tower

Mac OS X 'Panther'I updated my PowerBook to 10.3.4 early Sat 05/29 (see related post) and had no trouble with the OS update itself; only had to update one third-party app.

Tonight I updated my Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics), a 450MHz dual-processor model I've had for a few years. Since the desktop machine has the big hard drives, I always update my laptop—the better to resolve any problems with the smaller machine before inflicting problems on the desktop.

The installation process finished without trouble, but after the machine rebooted, I ended up with nothing but a plain blue screen. Pointer appeared but no menu bar, no desktop and icons, nothing. I rebooted again and that time got a plain gray screen with no pointer. So I rebooted a third time and went into single-user mode by holding down Command-S so I could use the Unix fsck command to check the file system. Typed fsck -yf and pressed Return. I ran this process twice; the first time, fsck repaired some problems, and the second time reported all was well.

Another reboot, this time by typing reboot and pressing Return, and held down the Command-Option-P-R key combination to reset the computer's PRAM. I held the key combo down through two restart "bong" noises, and the machine started up normally and gave me the normal desktop with icons, menu bar, everything I needed.

I finished things off by running Apple's Disk Utility to repair permissions and everything's working just fine again.

So a minor third-party app problem on the PowerBook, and a minor Mac OS problem on the G4 Dual. All in all, an easy update process. I'm pleased by it.

Links to related Apple Support articles:

Pondering the return to Salt Lake City

Packing's proceeding, though slowly. Since I'd cleared the clutter out of my life as I was packing for my move from WA to AZ, I can be slow about packing now and not be behind schedule, as it were, if I don't finish it tonight or tomorrow afternoon.

Of course, two moves in two months is a bit... overdoing it. Hell, it's wildly out-fucking-rageous insane, but I'll be glad when this one is done and I can get back to some semblance of a routine in my daily existence.

I was pondering just now and came up with a few things I'm looking forward to enjoying in my apartment in Salt Lake.

Continue reading "Pondering the return to Salt Lake City" »

A song I like

This song just rotated through my iTunes playlist, struck me as pretty appropriate to my life right now. It's one of my favorite bands, thanks to my friends Corey and Derek from back in the early '90s.

Song title: providence
Artist: the fat lady sings
Album: johnson ( link)
Released: Sep 1993
where were you when my dreams came true
and my ship finally came in
I was flying head in the clouds
and you were back in providence

I crawled out of my ark of doubt
stepped up to claim my prize
a fingerprint in the mantelpiece paint
a letter of just three lines

I played hard I played hard to get
and hard to understand
and every night was a fight to the death
and every day was planned

where were you when I finally knew
the truth that you'd always known
no matter how far you travel away
you always end up home

where was this place where I finally fell to grace
and found you'd faded out

where were you when my dreams came true
and my ship finally came in
I was flying head in the clouds
and you were back in providence

now all the rain that's fallen on me
the sun that's worn me down
and I'm still walking in this same old pair of shoes
I'm walking on the same ground

oh yes I know no one chooses anybody
and no one means to lie
but when the weather changes you turn into strangers
learning how to say goodbye

I'm writing from this town where I let you down once too often
but I'm thinking of that other lucky place

where were you when my dreams came true
and my ship finally came in
I was flying head in the clouds
and you were back in providence

where were you when I finally knew
the truth that you'd always known
no matter how far you travel away
you always end up home

I was flying head in the clouds
and you were back in providence
Download providence.mp3 (2.5MB, 64kbps downsampled from a 192kbps MP3)

File and link removed after 30 days

Mac OS X "Panther" 10.3.4 update

Since I wasn't sleeping anyway....

Just installed 10.3.4 on my laptop and it went without a hitch.

mac_os_x_boxI typically wait a day or two after an OS update is released to see what horrifying problems others encounter. I'd been checking the reader report updates at MacInTouch and saw none of the problems people reported would be show-stoppers for me. Since I don't use my laptop for work right now, I wouldn't be left high'n'dry if it died utterly, and I back up and synchronize my personal files between my laptop and my desktop machine daily at least, and immediately before any updates of this type.

I should correct myself, now that I think about it. I did have to update one application to work correctly under 10.3.4: ThermographX. I have it set to launch automatically upon login, and it reported it could find no compatible temperature sensors on my laptop; but version 1.2.4 fixed that problem (I'd missed it in checking for updates for my various apps every now and then).

So, one tiny little twitch, and in a third-party utility I use mainly to satisfy my curiosity. Pretty good record I've had with such OS updates.

Apple posted a Knowledge Base article with additional info.

Download links: Bizarre tale of boy who used internet to plot his own murder

This story speaks for itself. (!)

The final internet chatroom exchange took place on 28 June last year. "U want me 2 take him 2 trafford centre and kill him in the middle of trafford centre??" said one message. "Yes," came the reply.

Less than 24 hours later, a 14-year-old boy was critically ill in hospital with stab wounds in the chest and stomach. At first it seemed as though a brutal, but straightforward, robbery had gone wrong. But yesterday the young "victim" became the first person in this country to be convicted of inciting their own murder.

An intricate web of deceit had been spun by the boy on the chatroom to recruit another teenager as his would-be killer.

"This case serves as a stark warning of the dangers of the dark side of the internet," Nicholas Clarke, prosecuting, told the court yesterday.

The boy—who is now 15 and can be referred to only as John for legal reasons—persuaded his friend, known as Mark, now 17, to stab him to death in order to pass a fictitious initiation test for the British secret services in a meticulously planned attack one Sunday evening last summer. article link

Silly disaster movies

Saw The Day After Tomorrow this afternoon. The theater was pretty crowded, so it has a fair chance of being the No. 1 movie this weekend (although the Shrek 2 screenings were sold out), but it’s pure drivel coated in a (mostly) impressive series of special-effects shots.

There’s the usual Government Official Who Flatly Refuses to Listen, this time a Vice President who’s obviously modeled on Dick Cheney’s arrogance and attitude (to say nothing of his general look). There’s the Plucky Scientist Who Knows What's Wrong and How to Save Folks, woodenly played by Dennis Quaid. There’s the Plucky Scientist’s Ex-Wife (Sela Ward in a truly Lifetime “Television for Women”-caliber role) and their Genius Son Who Never Sees His Dad (Jake Gyllenhaal).

What plot there is centers, of course, on a series of absurdly powerful storms that puts Earth into a new ice age in the space between heartbeats. Eventually this results in a quick-freeze effect that kills anyone outdoors in about 7 seconds. Upshot: Anyone north of a line drawn across the middle of the continental U.S. is given up for dead, while everyone south of that is advised to flee further south.

But wait, the plot thickens! The Genius Child is in Manhattan, which is going into the deep freeze, so the Plucky Scientist has to go rescue his son, thereby restoring their relationship!

You get the picture.

A few nitpick points:

  • The computer-generated wolves looked incredibly fake. What, they couldn’t afford actual wolves or, failing that, the special-effects people couldn’t even look at a photograph of a wolf to get the proportions right?
  • Why burn books in the New York Public Library when wood’s a much better fuel, and most of the furniture is made of wood? Sit on the floor, burn the damned chairs!
  • If you’re going to use the Tear-Jerker of The Cancer-Stricken Child Who Can’t Be Moved and Thus Faces Death By Freezing, and you’re going to shave the kid’s head to make it obvious he’s a cancer patient, you should also trim his eyelashes. Cancer patients lose ALL their hair; they’re not bald with lush dark eyelashes the way this kid was.
  • Stop picking on New York, in fact. It’s been destroyed enough.
  • If New York has to be shown destroyed, up to its metaphorical waist in water, why not show other East Coast cities that would certainly suffer the same fate under the logic of the movie? The tidal wave rushes in but never rushes back out—they missed a golden opportunity to show D.C. sticking halfway up out of the water.

It seems Roland Emmerich was going for a message movie—The Evils of Our Consumerist Ways. But with the shoddy science and the cliché characters, he diluted it to nothing but escapist tripe. No one in my theater auditorium cheered when New York drowned or froze over, or at any other scenes of destruction, but neither did anyone come away feeling that perhaps the Hummer was a bit too much vehicle.

If you intend to see this flick in theater, which is a good way to appreciate the scale of the effects shots, don’t pay full price. See a matinée or wait until you can use a pass or the movie goes to the second-run theater.

Margarita Therapy

Had dinner at Chili's tonight, the one about half a mile from my house, which served me well after dinner when I was a bit tipsy from my one margarita.

I'm a big guy. 6ft 3in and 230lbs (1.905 m, 104 kg), I got some substance to me. Not very often a single drink makes me feel anything other than the desire to order another drink. Of course when I say "a single drink," I should also point out that this margarita, the "Presidente," is served in a shaker with a small martini glass you fill yourself, so you can enjoy the feeling of being your own bartender and the thrill of a drink refill without waiting.

I counted four fills of the glass from the shaker—two of those before my entrée arrived, two after. I hadn't eaten anything of substance all day (had a handful of Ritz crackers early this afternoon), but I had this cajun chicken pasta thing for dinner. It had some substance to it too.

And still the margarita left me feeling a bit wobbly when I left the restaurant, enough that I was glad I hadn't driven there. It was more fun to stumble across the mall parking lot, through the food-court area and past the movie theater queue space, and across the other mall parking lot to the apartment-complex gate instead.

But anyway. As I was watching the L.A. Lakers/Minnesota game on the approximately 300 TVs scattered about the bar area, I started to contemplate my life, and then I remembered how godawful irritating that basketball seems to stretch its playoffs for 500 years. And they won't even be finished until June, for God's sake.

Oh well, I'm wandering from topic to topic now, and my purpose in this post is to veer into Whining About My Life, ideally with the purpose of seeking insights that may help me direct my efforts for the future.

Continue reading "Margarita Therapy" »

AZ news. (Read: Who cares?)

I moved here April 17th. By the time I leave for Salt Lake on June 4th, I'll have lived here 48 days.

I've had a link to in my browsers' favorites listings since a few months before I moved here. I thought it'd be good to check the news here now and then, get a feel for how things were covered and become familiar with the news sources so I wouldn't be unprepared when I lived here.

I did the same thing when I moved from Salt Lake City to Seattle in 2002. Since I had family and friends who already lived in Seattle, I'd been reading The Seattle Times for a year or so by the time I moved there, and I still read it a couple times a week.

I've kept a link to The Salt Lake Tribune in my favorites since the mid-1990s, and read it regularly all during my time in Seattle and while I've been in Arizona.

I have links to The New York Times (never been to NYC); Chicago Sun-Times (visited Chicago many times for work over the years); Los Angeles Times (lived there for a year in 1990-91, visited hundreds of times over the years); and Washington Post (never been to D.C., but I like the paper).

Since I got to Arizona in April, I've loaded the AZCentral site maybe 10 or 12 times when I've been looking for news. Otherwise, I've checked the Salt Lake Tribune, Seattle Times, and CNN sites.

I just don't care about what's going on here. I'm an avowed news whore, and of the places I've lived or visited, Arizona's held by far the least interest for me.

This happened even before the job for which I relocated to AZ fell through. Every day when I'd check news, I'd come to AZ-related sites rarely, and then reluctantly.

Ever lived somewhere you didn't care about?

Today’s big search query

I’ve received a couple dozen hits today from MSN Search (“More Useful Everyday”!) users seeking results for the following charming query:

camera phone thong shots

This query results in a hit on my site because I’ve posted individually about

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:

The web astounds me. It also scares the hell out of me.

Salt Lake Tribune: Curtis apologizes for 'oversight'

More on the developing gas-theft/improper-vehicle-use stories in Salt Lake:

Every two weeks during this year's legislative session, House Majority Leader Greg Curtis dutifully recorded the 30 miles a day he logged getting from his Sandy home to the Capitol so the state could reimburse him.

Curtis said Wednesday it didn't dawn on him that Salt Lake County already was providing the vehicle and paying for the gas.

"I am sorry that this occurred," he said at a hastily called news conference. "I'm taking responsibility for this. It wasn't anybody else's fault."

Curtis, who is seeking to be the next House speaker, wrote a check earlier this month for $767.40 to pay back the state for the reimbursements.

The Republican lawmaker said Tuesday he didn't know initially that the state was paying him mileage, but records show he filled out and signed a form three times during the 2004 general session requesting reimbursement. He also got mileage reimbursement for 33 other days while he was driving a county-owned 2003 Ford Explorer.

On Wednesday, Curtis—who serves as legal counsel to county Mayor Nancy Workman—said it was routine to fill out the form after nine years of doing so and it was simply an "oversight" to continue doing it. Curtis didn't get his county SUV until June 2003.

"It didn't click I have a county vehicle," he said.

Salt Lake Tribune article link

I'm happy to be moving back to Salt Lake City, so I'll be able to witness the rest of the Salt Lake County gas-and-vehicle scandal first-hand. I've always thought Nancy Workman was a first-rate ass, and the fact that she's surrounded herself with such idiocy confirms that for me.

I've yet to hear a satisfactory explanation for why any public official needs a luxury SUV provided at taxpayer expense. Unless Workman is constantly hauling dozens of politicos around with their mountain-climbing gear in the back...?

Night owl

It's happened again.

If I have neither a specific place to be each day nor a specific time to be there, I tend toward a wonky sleep/wake schedule where I climb into bed around 03:00, drop off around 04:00 or 04:30, and wake up between 08:00 and 09:30.

I've been in this cycle for over a week. Tried to break it yesterday but failed utterly; when I went to bed at midnight, I lay there awake for about 30 minutes before I got out of bed, emptied the dishwasher, and listened to Ben Jelen's Give It All Away album, which I've had for quite some time but hadn't heard all the way through. Those took an hour. I was still wide awake, of course, so I flipped through a couple of issues of People magazine—including the "50 Beautiful People" issue, and I must say, their selection criteria must be several kinds of fucked up—and then paid my phone bill and the cable bill.

It was those last two that finally made me feel a glimmer of sleepiness, but it was already nearly 02:00. Last time I glanced at the clock was just shy of 03:00, and I woke up at 07:57 today. (Wednesday, that is. It's not a new day for me until I've been asleep.)

Life is so screwy right now.

I'm pretty sure an actual snail would've been faster

I was in Salt Lake City 05/14-05/16. Flew up on Delta, managed to pack light enough that I had only my computer backpack stuffed full with a few clothing items in addition to my laptop. I also dropped in a Netflix movie I had ready to return in its mailer, thinking I could stuff it in a mailbox at Sky Harbor on my way to my plane.

I ran into traffic on the way to the airport, however, so I was a bit rushed when I got to the terminal. Ended up finding a mailbox in Salt Lake International near the food-court area at the head of the C concourse. I'd missed the last scheduled pickup for that Friday, but I figured it didn't matter; it would go out sometime over the weekend.

They hadn't received it by Sunday, so I reported it lost through their system. It asks you for the date and location from which it was mailed, and then Netflix ships your next movie. They figure they're going to lose some DVDs here and there, obviously, so a single loss report doesn't count against you.

They finally received that movie today, along with two other movies I'd mailed back Saturday afternoon from Peoria.

I didn't realize it'd take nearly 10 days for mail to move between Salt Lake City and Phoenix. When I lived in Seattle, I sometimes saw long transit times for mail, but damn....

Endless Hold With Annoying Music

I’ve been on the phone with Comcast and Cingular this morning, and I am seriously considering inventing time travel in order to kill the person who decided playing lame music was A Good Thing when a caller is on permahold with a customer-service department.

Cingular failed to disconnect my Washington-state cell number when I got my new Phoenix-area cell number on 04/23. My WA number still answers with voice mail, but messages left there do not signal my phone. Happily I’ve had no messages there other than the one I asked my sister to leave to test the signalling bit, but still. The bigger annoyance is that I’m being billed for both numbers, and since Cingular changes the format of their bills about every 3rd month, it’s not even remotely evident where the $160 in charges come from. Only a line-by-line examination of the bill revealed that both numbers were represented.

After I’d been on hold for 57 minutes and the Cingular hold-state Happy Woman came on for the third time and said my wait was expected to be greater than 20 minutes, I hung up and called Comcast. And they answered right away.

On the plus side, I’ll be able to use my Cox cable modem with the Comcast service. Cox will rent you the modem for something like $5/month, and Comcast does it for $3/month, but I figured I’d just buy the modem outright and save the endless monthly charge. Of course that was when I thought I’d be here for a long time, instead of just under two months.

They quoted me an “installation window” of 08:00 to 12:00 on 06/05, which is fine since in theory we’ll be unloading the moving van that same day. So maybe I’ll be broadbandless for only a couple of days, woo!

Now to the medicine cabinet for more ibuprofen to get rid of this mild headache....

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Spent several hours at Rock Bottom tonight.

Got there around 19:40 for dinner. That was my actual plan, have a pint or two with dinner, go home and do domestic stuffs (laundry, pack to move to SLC, etc.).

Didn't work out that way, of course.

21:00 brought S.I.N. Night (Service Industry Night for you uninitiated folk). $2 pints, some deal on wells—I've no clue, because I'm not a well drinker.

Didn't matter. Within minutes the place was wall-to-wall Hip Personages, and there I was in my booth with my Pub Tips and my pint of Roadrunner Red, looking the fool because I am Terminally Unhip. But the people-watching was highly amusing, so I stayed until closing at 01:00.

I used the restroom at 01:05 and enjoyed the spectacle of the Puke-Guts-Out Guy at the other urinal. Not Good—at the end, he had the dry heaves from hell, the kind that threaten to turn one's alimentary canal inside out, the very idea of them causing physical pain in people two time zones away.

Before that (and not in the men's room, of course) there was the Low-Cut Jeans Strumpet, who was determined to use every move she'd witnessed on MTV to rub up against the various bodies at the bar.

Of course I say this with disdain mainly because mine wasn't one of the rubbed-against bodies, since I was in a booth. Dammit.

I also saw the rituals of the Baseball Cap Bunch, whose antics left me thinking, "What the fuck...?" Mainly because these people would alternate between caps with bills forward (over their eyes) and backward (over their necks) at random, and I couldn't figure out what the hell made them switch the caps' orientation. But it was almost a flocking action, one would do it and the rest would follow suit within a short time.

If someone could explain this to me, I'd be ever so grateful.

In the meantime, I've had just enough beer (I was drinking slowly) that I feel mildly buzzed and I need some water before I go to bed, the better to avoid hangover tomorrow.

Carry on....

Silly Utah news links

sltrib_logoI was browsing The Salt Lake Tribune and came across a few Only In Utah stories:

Janet's exposure prompts lawsuit
One Utah man's silly reaction to the Super Bowl halftime show (and yes, I know he wasn't the first, that some Tennessee woman filed suit first)
Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at this year's Super Bowl was the tip of the iceberg for Farmington attorney Eric Stephenson.

Even without the live shot that showed the singer's bare breast, Stephenson says the halftime show was a far cry from the family entertainment CBS had promised.

He has taken his complaints to small-claims court, where he is suing CBS owner Viacom for $5,000 under Utah laws against false advertising.

"This is a simple case of bait and switch," Stephenson told Judge Jerald Jensen in court Friday. "They had total control . . . to tell me what was going to happen, and they had total control to hide it from me."
Kingston stumbles recalling his kids
A polygamist patriarch on trial for physical abuse of many of his more than 100(!) children
First, John Daniel Kingston couldn't remember all the names of children by two women purported to be his plural wives.

Then Kingston was warned about self-incrimination when he started to acknowledge other women who have borne his children.

Finally, an irritated Judge Andrew Valdez jettisoned a defense paralegal after a witness named her as one of Kingston's estimated 14 wives and chastised attorneys for not disclosing that information before the trial began.

"I'm very, very dismayed," Valdez told the defense attorneys. "After the conclusion of this trial, that is an issue that has to be dealt with."
Utahns boast the biggest families, and taxes prove it
19 Utah counties rank among the top 50 nationwide in average number of exemptions claimed per federal tax return
Utah's families really are supersized.

The IRS has proof.

Nineteen Utah counties rank among the top 50 nationwide in the average number of exemptions claimed per federal tax return, according to a new Syracuse University report based on returns filed in 2002. Utah has more counties on the top 50 list than any other state; Texas is a distant second with 11.

Topping the list is Millard County, with an average of 2.94 exemptions claimed per tax return, followed by Sanpete, with 2.89. Next is Franklin County, Idaho (2.88), followed by Shannon County in South Dakota and Juab County in Utah, tied at an average of 2.87 exemptions each.

Seventeen of the 19 Utah counties that made the list are outside the Wasatch Front. Only two Wasatch Front counties—Utah and Davis—made the top 50 list.

And I wonder....

Why am I moving back there again? ::grin:: Shooting of dog-walker called justified

Payson-area trail death deemed self-defense

It was a common Arizona hiking confrontation: big, unleashed dogs on a trail, turning a peaceful walk in the woods into a frightening ordeal of snarling teeth and vicious barking.

Usually it is settled with words, sometimes angry. This time it turned deadly.

Coconino County sheriff's detectives say the shooting of 43-year-old Grant Kuenzli was a justifiable homicide. But the victim's friends say he was a peaceful man who had volunteered to take a couple of dogs from an animal shelter out for exercise and didn't deserve to die.

The encounter occurred 11 days ago near Payson, when Kuenzli was hiking through the woods on the Pine Canyon Trail with his dog, a yellow Labrador retriever named Maggie, and two other dogs, a chow and a German shepherd mix.

The dogs, which were not on leashes, ran ahead and apparently startled Harold Fish, a 57-year-old retiree from Phoenix, according to sheriff's Detective Scott Feagan.

Fish, who was carrying a 10mm semiautomatic pistol in a holster, felt threatened, Feagan said, and fired a warning shot into the ground near the dogs and then three shots at Kuenzli, all of which hit him in the chest.

"Our investigation leads us to believe this is a situation of self-defense," Feagan said. "(Fish) was under attack."

Fish could not be reached for comment. There were no other witnesses. article link

If this man felt threatened by dogs that were charging toward him, why not shoot the dogs—they were the immediate danger source—rather than firing one shot at the ground and then three shots at the dogs' master?

Or did he think the dogs would stop attacking if their master stopped encouraging them (presuming that's what he thought Kuenzli was doing with the shouting and fists)?

A hard story. But I think Fish ought to be charged.

Too many phone directories

Four days after I moved into this apartment, I received a stack of four Dex phone directories.

In the past week, I've received three other directories, those combo white-and-yellow-pages books published by other companies who seem to think that new phone directories must be put out every week or two, no matter how much or how little the information in the books has actually changed.

I thought when I moved out of Seattle that I'd be getting away from the new-phone-book-every-week thing, but I see it's become a pox in every major metro area now.

Melancholy music

About music sharing

Music I’m willing to share is linked directly from this page. No link, no sharing—don’t email asking for files.
iTunes apparently has sensed my pensiveness and has put together a list of tunes that nearly perfectly mirrors my mood.

  1. Between — Vienna Teng, Waking Hour
  2. Drunkard Logic — The Fat Lady Sings, Johnson
  3. Fear — Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
  4. Flora’s Secret — Enya, A Day Without Rain
  5. Gravity — Vienna Teng, Waking Hour
  6. Lark in the Morning — Kate MacLeod, Trying to Get it Right
  7. Mary — Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
  8. Providence — The Fat Lady Sings, Johnson
  9. Show Me the River — Eastmountainsouth, Eastmountainsouth
  10. Snow — Grey Eye Glances, Eventide
  11. The Tower — Vienna Teng, Waking Hour
  12. These Are Days — 10,000 Maniacs, Our Time in Eden
  13. Wait — Sarah McLachlan, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

Only a few artists in this list because it’s the first 13 songs of a larger “favorites” lists.

Been a while since I did that

Saw Shrek 2 yesterday.

Hadn’t been to a movie in a cinema in... well, I’m not sure how long it had been. The last movie I remember seeing in cinema was The Matrix Revolutions, and that was in November. The movies I’ve seen otherwise have been DVD rentals from Netflix, which I am still convinced is one of the single best entertainment services around.

But anyway. I didn’t see Shrek in a cinema. First time I saw it was on DVD, and I thought the premise was funny and it had some laugh-out-loud moments, but otherwise, it didn’t impress me so much. I saw it once, didn’t need to see it again.

This time around, I actually paid attention to the critical reviews. They were typically positive, if not outright adoring. Normally I take critics’ opinions with a grain of salt; most of them strike me as being utterly out of touch with the world, willing to heap praise upon many movies simply because they’re part of the sycophantic Hollywood machine and it keeps them in freebies and champagne. But for Shrek 2 I listened and decided to see it on opening day.

My showing started at noon. I got there about 11:45 and found a seat in the middle of the auditorium both ways, where in theory I’d be able to enjoy the full Digital Theater Sound Hell experience, and I was right. That experience began about 10 minutes before showtime when a reel of ads played at Death-Level volume. The only one I remembered was the ad for Hershey’s Kisses with caramel, and I’m pretty sure it’s because they played it twice. They really wanted us to know about those damned Kisses.

Anyway again. Movie started. The auditorium was sparsely populated—maybe 15 people total—and we were all pretty well spread out so there wasn’t a lot of noise. Not many kids either, so no crying or loud talking or the like either. It was nice.

They showed previews for a SpongeBob SquarePants movie—can anyone explain to me the appeal of this character, even for preschoolers?—and the upcoming Garfield movie, which looks stupid beyond belief. For one thing, the cat is computer-generated, looks way too cartoony. I’m sure they’ll say they meant it to look that way, but it just looks cheap. And the characters are cast stupidly—who buys Jennifer Love Hewitt as a veterinarian, and if they went to the trouble of CG for Garfield, why not do it for Odie too, so he could have the bug-eyes and long neck of the comic-strip character?

But finally the previews ended, and the feature presentation began after another commercial reel inviting us to visit the concession stands (where, by the way, they don’t put your “butter-flavor topping” on your popcorn—you do it yourself from pumps at the condiment stations in the lobby, guh).

The movie ran a little over 90 minutes. It held my attention but never elicited a great deal of response. Mainly I smiled a lot, chuckled once or twice, laughed out loud one time. The rest of the audience reacted similarly, except for the few kids who were there and experienced convulsive hysteria over the many fart jokes.

It’s good that computer animation has advanced to the point that a flap of cloth can be made to flutter believingly in the breeze caused by thunderous flatulence. Speaks well of our society, I believe.

I’m mystified by the critics’ response to this movie. Many of them said it was “as good as, or better than,” the original. I’m squarely in the camp with those who think the first part of that statement is true: Easily as good as the original. I’ve seen it once, never have to see it again. I can’t imagine why anyone would think it was better than the first, however. The two movies had the same general plot and the musical numbers in Shrek 2 seemed a lot more contrived or forced to me.

Far as I’m concerned, the second film was obviously made solely because the first enjoyed good box office, and the producers wanted to make more money. In an entertainment business driven solely by filthy lucre, that’s a much better reason to make a movie than anything as simple as, oh, say, because the first film was worthy of a sequel. 67,000 legally carry concealed weapons in Arizona

Arizonans love their guns.

A century after the six-shooter helped settle the state, about 67,000 gun owners legally carry concealed weapons in Arizona, more per capita than in Texas.

The typical concealed-weapon permit holder is a middle-age White male living in the north Valley. Nearly one in five is female, including 52 pistol-packing women over age 80, according to an Arizona Republic review of concealed-weapon permit data maintained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

"I guess they want to learn how the gun operates," said Sgt. Bill Whalen, supervisor of the DPS Concealed Weapon Permit Unit. "It's not like they're taking it to bingo on Friday night."

The Republic reviewed the data to learn who is packing heat, where they live and why they choose to arm themselves with weapons in their ankle holsters and purses.

It turns out that one of every 95 Maricopa County residents holds a carry permit, although in some ZIP codes in the Valley, that ratio is as high as one of every 56 people. High-concentration areas include stretches along Loop 101 from Surprise to Scottsdale and pockets in Tempe and Chandler.

Interesting to me that the areas bordering the Loop 101 has a higher concentration of permit holders. That highway does go through some of the more affluent parts of the valley, and the article goes on to discuss a breakdown of permit-holders including that many are better-educated and have higher incomes.

I wonder if that's true for other states as well.

Today's Idle Thoughts

The ability to buy movie tickets online just rules.

When I was a kid, the cinema we usually visited had four screens and seemed really big.

The fact that there's a cinema anywhere with 30 screens just astounds me.

That nearly every cinema in the greater Phoenix area has at least 14 screens appalls me.

I am in the Starbucks in the Desert Ridge Marketplace. I am surrounded by people who are having highly emotional discussions about topics ranging from relationship break-ups to the insanity of gas prices.

It's already nearly 90° and I'm drinking hot coffee.

Big Life Changes

I moved to Phoenix a month ago because of a specific job offer which fell into small pieces early last week when I found out an outsourcing that had been cancelled was in fact occurring, effective 01 Jun on a six-month schedule.

The outsourcing had been mentioned as a possibility on a two-year schedule starting in 2005 but had been changed in mid-February to an accelerated six-month (!) schedule beginning in June.

I would not have moved to Phoenix if this job had been represented to me correctly. Phoenix was far down the list of cities to which I ever wished to relocate; my first choice, in fact, was Chicago, but the job was in Phoenix.


Arrived here April 17 and now moving to Salt Lake City in the first week of June, where I'll be heading back to school at the University of Utah in January. I'll be living in the Avenues district—where I grew up—and in the same apartment I had a few years ago when I lived in Salt Lake the first time around.

Life goes full-circle, I suppose.

This has been a crazy week.

Flying to Salt Lake City

I'll be in SLC for the weekend, returning to Phoenix Sunday night. I know my half-dozen readers like to keep up on what's happening with me all the time, and since I didn't make any updates beyond the early-morning one Thu, figured I'd make this one to say I won't be making any on the weekend either.

Hope everyone enjoys the weekend.

Who the hell

is knocking on my door at 02:00?!

I snapped awake to the sound of rapid knocking at the front door. Stumbled out of bed and walked into the kitchen where I could look out the window to the front-door area. No one there, and I could still hear the knocking noise, but as my mind cleared I also figured out that the noise was quieter now.

Someone was knocking at the patio door!

Stumbled across the darkened living room toward the patio, peeked carefully out the blinds. No one there. But the knocking sound was louder, and it had changed tempo.

And it was gone, and a car engine fired to life.

I was hearing someone's automobile starter motor and it sounded just like sharp rapping at a door.

I'm wide freakin' awake and just coming off the adrenaline rush, dammit!

Odd search query

I was looking at the stats for referrers to this site and one caught my eye:

Google: u-haul ipod

My site is the first result returned on this query. I'm scratching my head, wondering what the hell the person who initiated this query was really looking for.

Update 05/31/04: My site's dropped to the 34th spot in the results for this query. Which both pleases me and annoys me, because I don't like U-Haul and would just as soon any query for that company's name led here immediately so people could view the trouble I had with them.

Various bits of info

New location: This page now maintained here:

Saw this on Nicole’s today went like this (link broken). Some of these are duplicates from my own 100 things entry.

Interesting to me when I first wrote this how many of my answers on this were similar to Nicole’s, though I didn’t preserve her list so now I can’t remember what the similarities were.

Continue reading "Various bits of info" »

Tampon posts get big hits

It's been less than two days since my Ditties post, and today's hit stats show that 45% of my search-engine hits have been from various tampon-related search queries, such as

  • ditties

  • ditties tampons

  • tampon bowling

  • ditties barbara

When I posted about tampon angel patterns back on 06 Oct 2003, it was about five days before I started seeing hits on search-engine referrals.

Amazing how things propagate via the web these days.

Today's dipshit spam subject lines

From the spam folder one of my AOL screen names:


very very personal assistants

Coriwolf, V i c o d i n is waiting for you

Patrick Momentum St.0cks on News N-Y,ILuohv

Alberto st.0cks are on the Move NY.iL cy

Market Inside On CGHI.OB ÔÉÓÏ?ÙÅ

George that is Moving N.AL.G zoa

Albert D,M.TY St.ock Tip Today gmjsqc kyircjdjsymymbnz...

Deeker33, Pick up your V i c o d o n

Otto St.0cks that are runnin' ild

Hi Coriwie Fully Stocked . Available All. epileptic ifpda...

Coriwlly, best price on Vicoden

Yeah, it is hard to BELIVE THE DIFFERENCE when one has not seen you.

I was surprised to see the one correct spelling of "Vicodin"—very unusual. That spammer won't last long in the business.

Gotta get me some of those runnin' ild stocks.

Stupid things I've done this week

Today I found myself doing two stupid things I'd managed so far to avoid. In no particular order:

  • In a 12 Feb 2004 post, I talked about a problem I was having with Safari crashing when I used Shift+Tab to reverse-tab among fields, buttons, links, etc. in pop-up windows that had been spawned by JavaScript.

    I managed to get this into my head and stopped using Shift+Tab in Safari in mid-February. Haven't had any trouble with it. Until....

    The last few days, and specifically tonight, when I've made Safari crash four times in the last 35 minutes as I update my media lists and whatnot.


  • My previous cell phone, a Nokia 6200 I got in Seattle in January 2003, turned me into a klutz. I dropped that phone an average of once a week, nearly every time onto a concrete or tile or other hard surface. More often than not, such drops would result in broken chips of plastic flying this way as the phone (or its disassembled bits) flew that way, and I'd have to spend a minute or so reassembling the phone and testing to make sure it still worked.

    That phone gave it up in Feb, so I got a Sony Ericsson T616 camera phone. I've been very careful with it and hadn't dropped it at all. Until....

    Last week, when I dropped it in the parking lot and scuffed the bottom of its case, and tonight, when I dropped it twice—first in the parking lot again (the parking space next to mine has some sort of Bad Phone Karma going on), again an hour or so later in my kitchen.

    More scuffs, no breakage yet. And it still works fine.


New York Times: Marketing a New Feminine Hygiene Product

The marketing of feminine hygiene products has rarely garnered accolades for creativity, given the propensity for euphemisms like "freshness" and shots of frolicking women in white pants.

But a start-up company, Dittie L.L.C., plans to give the packaging and advertising of its eponymous line of tampons, pads and liners a little of the stylishness surrounding cosmetics, hoping that attitude and guerrilla marketing tactics can carve out a profitable share of a market dominated by the likes of Kimberly-Clark and the Procter & Gamble Company.

"I was in the feminine protection aisle, trying to sort through the endless sea of products, and I was floored when it hit me—not one box had an ounce of style. Where was the fun, the feminine flair?" said Barbara Carey, president and founder of Dittie, which is a unit of the Akasha Group in Orinda, Calif.

Dittie advertisement from storyMs. Carey said she decided at that moment to develop a brand of products that did not regard a woman's menstrual cycle as an ailment. "Kotex looked like Dr. Scholl's Wart Remover, Tampax looked like Lactaid and Playtex looked like Benadryl," Ms. Carey said.

Design is paramount for the Dittie brand. Each of Dittie's products—which are color-coded to eliminate confusion among tampons, pads, panty liners and thong liners—feature sophisticated illustrations of mod women of different ethnicities striking confident poses.

And the wrapper of each carries an inspirational (and humorous) message like: "I'm proud of my body and every nook and cranny!" article link (free registration required)

And a snippet from an IM with bug, the person who brought this to my attention:

bug: read this NY Times article
Don: Ah yes, because a stylish box is exactly what one looks for to determine one's choice of feminine products
bug: things I'd never think about, you know?
Don: {S rimshot} and ::apology for lame pun::
bug: LOLOL!
bug: that was.. appalling. ;)
Don: gah:
"Pass it on" serves as the company's theme and is an integral part of the campaign that aims to create a network of young women who are proud to buy Ditties and persuade their friends to do the same.
bug: LOL!
Don: "Pass it on" is one phrase I think should NEVER be associated with any type of hygiene product for either gender ;D

And don't miss out: At the Dittie web site, you can play Tampon Bowling and get your Dittie Instant Messenger icons and desktops.

And what's with this weird sleep/wake schedule?

For several years now I've had this idea that I'd go to bed when I felt tired, because I don't like tossing and turning or just lying there unable to sleep. So in the last several months my sleep time has slowly migrated to later and later, to the point that it's after 01:00 and I have to be up in less than 5 hours unless I plan to do some crazy rushing-around-in-the-morning thing. Wouldn't be the first time for that, of course.

Last week I went to bed around 23:00 several times, thinking if I went to bed earlier, even if I didn't necessarily feel tired at that time, I'd adjust to it and return to a more normal sleep/wake schedule. Didn't happen; I usually spent at least an hour awake, and one time got out of bed again and didn't return for three hours.

I'm not sleeping differently on weekends either. I still tend to go to bed between 01:00 and 02:00, sometimes 03:00, but I still wake up between 06:00 and 07:00, and I don't set my alarm on weekends unless I have something specific I want to be sure I don't miss. And that hasn't been the case since I moved.

Ah well. Perhaps it's just the newness of this apartment and the routine I'm still settling.

That's a good enough cop-out reason for now anyway.

Damned weather indicators

The Weather Underground "Weather Stickers®" on the right side of this blog (just past halfway down the page) have lately had a lot of trouble keeping themselves updated. Right now, in fact, the Glendale sticker shows 97°F/36°C from 18:47 MST. It's actually 85°F/29°C right now, according to the relevant Wunderground page—why isn't the damned sticker updating correctly?

I should probably look around for other weather indicators if I intend to keep those on the site at all. They're kinda handy, and nerdly to boot, but if they don't update, they're pretty useless.

15 random tunes, PowerBook edition: 09 May 2004

Change of pace from the desktop machine. The laptop's library is a subset of the desktop's, but the random playlists sometimes come up vastly different.

Song title - Artist - Album

About music sharing

Music I'm willing to share is linked directly from this page. No link, no sharing—don't email asking for files.

  1. Tolkien: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) – Brobdingnagian Bards – Gullible’s Travels
  2. Noli, ò cara, te adorantis from Juditha Triumphans, RV644 – Yo-Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra – Vivaldi’s Cello
  3. Complainte De La Butte – Rufus Wainwright – Moulin Rouge
  4. Now that You’re Alive – Steve Winwood – About Time
  5. Sonata No. 14: Adagio sostenuto (Ludwig van Beethoven) – The Brave – Classical Spirit
  6. Mark’s song – Eastmountainsouth – Eastmountainsouth
  7. Instrumental Introduction to: / Don’t Look Down – Lindsey Buckingham – Out of the Cradle
  8. Give It All Away – Ben Jelen – Give It All Away
  9. One and Only Man – Steve Winwood – One and Only Man (CD single)
  10. As Long As You Follow – Fleetwood Mac – Greatest Hits: Fleetwood Mac
  11. Concerto in C Minor for Cello, Strings and Basso Continuo, RV401, III. Allegro ma non molto – Yo-Yo Ma, Ton Koopman, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra – Vivaldi’s Cello
  12. Die Another Day (radio mix) – Madonna – Die Another Day
  13. Passage – Vienna Teng – Warm Strangers
  14. Reveal – Céline Dion – One Heart
  15. Drag Race: Todd and Julie – Randy Newman – Parenthood

aww, iz kitty! :-D

Kat’s kitty kat :-)My sister Katharine picks up her new Siamese kitten Saturday from a breeder in southwestern Washington state. She received a photo from the breeder and passed it on to me.

(You’ll have to imagine the baby-talk voice in which the title should be uttered.) editions cover Grozny blast quite differently

I was perusing CNN's two online versions, the standard U.S. edition and the international edition, and was struck by the differences in their coverage of the Grozny explosion that they're reporting has claimed the lives of the Chechnyan president and a top general.

CNN US edition Chechen president story screen shotThe U.S. edition had a  BREAKING NEWS  blurb along the top until about 10 minutes ago, indicating that the Chechnyan president and a general had been killed in the blast. Now, however, the story's relegated to "More Top Stories" side of the CNN home page, and doesn't even mention the deaths; only "Chechen president in Grozny blast." (Click the thumbnail for a full-size screen shot in a pop-up window.)

The U.S. edition's main story (and photo) is the ongoing Iraqi-prisoner-torture debacle which, while obviously an important and ongoing story, could take a back seat momentarily for coverage of an internationally important breaking-news story. Especially since CNN's headline on the Iraqi-prisoner story hasn't changed in probably 7 or 8 hours now.

CNN international edition Chechen president story screen shotThe international edition shows the story as the main item on the left, with photos and multiple links to the story. It uses the same "Chechen president in Grozny blast" headline, but goes on to say there was confusion about the president's status as well as that of the general. (Click the thumbnail for a full-size shot, again in a pop-up window.)

No wonder Americans are so generally stupid about world events. Our own news agencies don't cover the news in a way that presents what's actually happening in the world

Amazing self-confidence

I was clicking through some of the other weblogs hosted by TypePad (see the "Recently Updated Weblogs" section at the bottom right of this site) and came across Sexkitten via a link from lex icon.

I'm nowhere near a point that I could write as freely as that site's author. First and foremost, my sex life is barely interesting enough for me to think about, much less write about. And second, I'm just not that uninhibited. Even though the vast majority of people who would read about it won't ever know me in person, it's difficult to get past.

Ah well, another link for the blogroll if nothing else. Take a look if you like and, of course, if sexual content doesn't offend you.