June 11th, 2009

04:12 pm - I'm not quite dead yet
I keep meaning to post baby pics, and actually interact with you people, and all that shit. But, you know... been kinda busy with the whole "real life" thing so that keeps not happening. Hell, I keep not reading, much less posting.

In place of those baby pics that I still am not posting yet, here is a picture of a retard riding a scooter in the absolute stupidest way possible that I took with my iPhone this morning on the way to work:

Homeboy was riding that thing, like that, down the dotted yellow lines in between lanes of traffic through a busy intersection downtown at rush hour.

I am guessing that - one way or another - he won't be doing that for long.

Current Music: Atmosphere - Cats Van Bags

(Leave a comment)

April 25th, 2009

11:58 pm - Dub FX
I just discovered this guy tonight, and his stuff is fucking OWNING me. If you dig this, 1. look around on YouTube - there's a lot more - and 2. head over to http://dubfx.net and buy his album. $15, PayPal straight to the dude, and he mails you a CD. Postage (to anywhere in the world) included in the price.


Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Dub FX - Part 2

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

April 14th, 2009

10:46 pm - one more pic

jette, I am using this as a late entry for your "post a completely unpracticed and unretouched pic of how you look right now" thing.
Tags: ,


(3 comments | Leave a comment)

02:05 pm - baby pix

Jane's first picture - approximately T plus 120 seconds. They came and got me from the room after she was delivered (by C-section - Janis was down entirely, under general anesthetic). The nurse put Jane in my arms, and I walked her down to the nursery. I took that picture just after putting her in the little infant warmer and petting her for a little while.

This one's at roughly T+180 - still in the infant warmer, but she's been stripped from the swaddling blankets and the cap just prior to getting put on the scale and weighed.

Can't tell what color her eyes will be yet; they're that kind of contact-lens-y looking blue that means "they ain't staying this color." We have a feeling she'll end up with Janis' green eyes, though.

Awesome baby is awesome. I am making a CONCERTED effort not to speak to her in LOLcat - but it's tough! (Janis and I both abhor "baby talk", it would suck if we avoided that trap, but accidentally turned LOLcat into her primary language.)


(14 comments | Leave a comment)

April 13th, 2009

06:32 pm - Calamity Jane is here
And after 28 hrs of fucking brutal labor followed up with a semi-emergency Cesarean section, she didn't waste any time earning her sobriquet!

She was born this morning and weighed 9 lbs 8.9 ozs, 20" long - which had a lot to do with the need for the C-section. That is one BIG, strong, healthy baby. Full head of hair, big wide eyes looking around at everything. She is great.

Janis had a really rough time of it obviously, but she is doing well and she and Jane will get to come home from the hospital after 3 days.

Pics forthcoming soon - the only ones I have now are on my iPhone, and I pretty much killed its charge dead.

I'm a daddy!

PS: you know how they never get newborns right on TV shows? I'll tell you something else they don't even get CLOSE to right - the umbilical cord. Holy crap those things look crazy!


(12 comments | Leave a comment)

April 12th, 2009

07:19 am - omgz - I can haz baby nao?!
Not YET... but Janis' water broke at 4AM on the dot, and contractions are coming strong and regular... just in time to keep the Man from trying to force us to have the baby in the ER instead of at the birthing center. We're headed down to the birthing center in about half an hour.

I'll let you know more later, and get some pix up - but don't sweat if it takes a while, 'cause I may just decide I have better things to do than RUSH RUSH RUSH to my livejournal. =)


(7 comments | Leave a comment)

March 14th, 2009

Bought a couple of PS3 games yesterday at the GameCrazy near my work. Jesus fucking christ I am sick of the "add-on" business model - car dealers want to pitch you on an "undercoating", electronics stores want to push their "protection plan", game stores want you to buy a fucking hint book - shit gets OLD. Odds are good, if you are forcing your salespeople to push it hard during every point-of-sale transaction, I DON'T FUCKING WANT IT.

Anyway. It was worse at this GameCrazy than it usually is most places - this kid with the half-shaved, half-long-and-dyed head like an 80's punk rocker was pitching the hint book, the CD scratch protection plan, the pre-order for the next game, AND the mvp member blah blah blah club with EVERY. SINGLE. TRANSACTION.

So I got up there, made some chit-chat about the demo video of Bloody Roar they were playing (old, shitty fighting game - imagine if Tekken had been conceived by a bunch of furries, and you'd pretty much have Bloody Roar) while he's ringing me up (and asking for my phone number - christ I hate that. STOP DOING THAT, retail, it's fucking invasive!). And then he starts in on the four different pitches, and I'm like no, the ONLY thing I want are those two games, no add-ons. He starts in on the second pitch. No, no, no. The third pitch. Nope nope nope. And he actually gets PISSED OFF. He says "You aren't even going to let me finish? That's pretty rude man."

Now don't get me wrong - I understand that employees HAVE to ask you all this crap. I know about mystery shoppers, I know that managers watch store video, blah blah blah - which is why I am SMILING when I say no, no, no. For christ's sake dude, it's not like I am dehumanizing you, I started that pointless convo about Bloody Roar prior to all this right? It's not even like there is some awesomeness in your pitches that I maybe JUST NEED TO GIVE A CHANCE and suddenly HOLY SHIT I TOTALLY WANT THAT, because guess what, there was a line! I heard EVERY SINGLE ONE of those fucking pitches when you delivered them to the LAST guy!

Anyway, I'm not going back to that place again. GameStop is shitty too, but at least they hold it down to only one or two pitches per transaction, and their clerks have been a lot more livable since they instituted the mandatory one-hot-chick-behind-the-counter-per-shift rule a year or two ago. For some reason, the presence of the hot chick calms down the uber-dorks who normally man the store - they don't fawn all over you and try to be your friend constantly when Hot Chick is in the store... even though they don't fall all over Hot Chick either. Weird.


(10 comments | Leave a comment)

March 9th, 2009

01:12 pm - one day, this will be you
Recently, I ended up servicing some older folks' home computers. I don't really "do" residential service anymore, so this was more than a bit out of my normal routine.

Hoo-boy. Everybody knows that old people tend to get kind of disconnected with reality. What we tend to forget is that old people also maintain their own version of reality... especially now that they have the internet helping them stay connected to as many of their peers as possible.

Let me tell you something, old people fucking LOVE powerpoint. My wife pointed out that "it's great that at least they use it", but then again, they use it like a New Guinea tribesman uses a rifle - hold it by the barrel and club the living shit out of anything that moves. Also like the tribesman, they think that shit is GREAT, it is the best club EVER, and they want to SHARE how fucking great it is with you. They are like, holy fuck did you see how I beat the shit out of that pig? You wonder why the fuck you put a scope on the rifle the last time you visited. (So does he.)

Another thing about old people is that they have friends with names like "Blobby" or "Gan-gan" or "Wee-waw". At some point, it has ceased to seem odd to them that a person might choose to replace their own fucking name with an unflattering adjective, or a random collection of syllables. They might not do that themselves, but it no longer seems WEIRD to them that they know people who do. At some point, in their view, it has become perfectly reasonable to insist that the entire world mimic an infant when addressing you, because that shit is FUCKING ADORABLE.

So here you are, installing a powerpoint viewer so that the emails that "Lumpy" or whoever sent are again openable. You open one, to make sure that everything works properly, and you are treated to utterly unremarkable stock photos of puppies and kittens, lifted from magazines or maybe an ad agency catalog. Every slide has "DO NOT CLICK!!!!!" stamped on it in several random locations, with the occasional "NE CLICQUEZ PAS ICI!!! :) :) :)" to break up the monotony and display how fucking erudite the author is. A MIDI file plays in the background. It is Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and it is rendered using the default sample banks on the motherboard's built-in audio chipset. It makes you yearn to go back in time and kill Mozart. The possibility of causality loops and/or rifts in the space-time continuum seems, frankly, worth it.

You close the powerpoint quickly, and let the old person know "it works now." Nice try, but no dice - you must now watch at least five of these in the presence of the old person, because they don't get the logic of "these are powerpoints, powerpoint viewer has been installed, these will now work." What if one of them doesn't?

The next one is an illustration of a space shuttle, apparently lifted from a 1980s science textbook or Popular Science article. It is the only slide, and it is not animated. A low-fi copy of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" plays in the background. While you are reluctantly watching this, there will be a brief conversation about how "Glompy" or whoever "just sends the funniest emails, all day long!" Old-people eyes will likely be shining while you are told this.


OK, OK, you get the point: "old people, lol". But you have to realize, at the pace that technology moves, one day that is going to be you. Now imagine what that "old people lol" scene is going to look like for you. What are you into right now? What seems a little odd and new right now? What is, perhaps, just a little bit beyond you right at this moment, but you think you've about got the hang of it? No seriously, imagine it:

"Boy, why aren't you following my Twitter? Don't you want to know what your old Granddad is up to?"
"Granddad, nobody uses Twitter anym -"
"And why haven't you friended me to your Myspace? Is there something you don't want your old Granddad to see?"
"Myspace? You think I use Myspace? Seriously, Granddad, nobody's on that!"
"You don't give me any of your lip, young man! Now friend me so I can see what you've been writing. And have you been to myspacebling.com? They have the best graphics!"

"Help me out with this, son. Your old Dad's a mite pissed at this website; I'm firing up the old Low Orbit Ion Cannon."
"Oh god, Dad, not again... For the millionth time, that doesn't WORK anymore. We don't even use TCP/IP anymore! All that old 'internet' stuff is just emulated on the Cloud!"
"Yeah yeah yeah, you just help your old man and keep your 'Cloud' crap to yourself. Now why won't it work? Do I need to install the Visual Basic file again?"
"Oh, Dad... jeez. I give up."

"Honeybunch, help me out will you? I need to get this running and it says I'm out of space. I don't know what that means, I've deleted everything off my hard drive and..."
"Um, it's talking about your cloud space Granddad. You have plenty of local storage, but the app needs more room in your... oh good lord, what's with all these freaking cats?"
"Those are LOLcats honey! Oh, I have some funny ones, let me show you..."
"Um... yeah, I know they're LOLcats Granddad. I just... ugh. You just... listen, just don't save them to your cloudspace, save them to... oh, nevermind. Here, let me move those for you, ok... ok... all right, you can install your app now."
"Look at this one! It's an anteater! 'Fuck you, I'm an anteater!' Ha ha ha ha. Sorry honey, the old man's sense of humor is a little vulgar sometimes."

"Heh heh heh, did you get that video I linked to on your Facebook boy?"
"Faceboo... oh, you mean that old 'website' thing you made me sign up for? You know I don't really use that stuff Gran... oh JEEZ Granddad, 2girls1cup AGAIN? Seriously?"
"Heh heh... no, keep watching boy! It's not what you think. They're gonna do something else in a minute!"
"Granddad, I KNOW. EVERYBODY knows. Just... look, just stop with this stuff, okay?"

Maybe you won't be that kind of old person. (Yes, you will.) But even if you aren't (and really, you will be), they will be your peers. You will relate to them. You will understand them, and you will appreciate what they think is funny, and it will seem completely fucking normal.

You don't have to believe me... all you have to do is wait.


(12 comments | Leave a comment)

March 6th, 2009

11:34 pm - in case you were wondering
If you're the goofy-looking shithead with a giant white-boy 'fro who kept opening up your BRIGHT AS THE FUCKING SUN cell-phone and HOLDING IT OVER YOUR HEAD towards the end of the 8:00 showing of the Watchmen tonight, and you were too much of a pussy to look around when somebody soccer-kicked the living shit out of the back of your seat about the ninth time you did it...

That was me.

On the other hand, if you aren't that dipshit, and you haven't seen The Watchmen... for the love of fuck, go see it. I hadn't read the graphic novel, but I was familiar with its premise - it's a literary deconstruction of the superhero genre, beginning with the crappiest of pulp-era fifth-rate costumed "heroes" you'd never heard of before. And I knew that it had gotten a hell of a lot of acclaim. Well, judging by the movie... it fucking deserved it.

HIGHLY recommended.


(2 comments | Leave a comment)

March 4th, 2009

09:03 pm - helios - is it linux, or is it just bad stories?
So over at techsupport, I see a link to a blog post about a Linux advocate who supposedly got jumped by Microsoft fans in a gas station parking lot. First of all... wat? But, you know... weird stuff can occasionally happen. Who knows. But the story rings false about ten different ways. And I keep thinking... shit, I know I remember this blog. Helios, Helios...

Yeah, I remembered it all right. This is the same guy who, back in December, managed to get frontpage on slashdot for a story in which, supposedly, an elementary school teacher writes him to call linux "possibly illegal" and accuse him of "holding the children back" and nebulously threaten to sue him for putting it on "disadvantaged children's computers."

Unsurprisingly, the slashdotters congealed into a rabid mass, and demanded contact info on "Karen", the teacher. Helios guy refuses to provide it, and supposedly the slashdotters lit up Texas elementary school phone boards like christmas trees trying to find her anyway, and failing, at which point - again, according to this guy - she calls him tearfully, and he assures her he would never, EVER give up dox on her, and she Learns To See The Light and now thinks linux is teh awesome.

If this doesn't already ring kind of false in your ears, consider this: supposedly, slashdotters descended in a horde and failed to get dox. When is the last time one of the really big communities - slashdot, genmay, /b/, the goons - failed to uncover somebody, especially a non-tech, who aroused their ire?

So, yeah. That was in December. All of three months later, this dude is claiming that techs who service Windows assaulted him physically in a gas station because he is "putting them out of work". Of course there's no police report; of fucking course he tells it that the big, hulking guy got physical, threatened to "give him a tour of the parking lot" and... ::camera cut:: the big guy is on the ground! YAAAAY, our hero won teh fight!

Jesus fucking christ.

This is not the kind of publicity linux needs. I have no idea whether or not this guy has actually done much of any real work on a "distro" of his own, or how many "disadvantaged children" he's given computers with Linux on them; but I do know these stories stink to high heaven and I don't want to see any damn more of them.

Exhibit One: In Which Our Hero Schools The Schoolteacher

Exhibit Two: In Which Our Hero Triumphs At Fisticuffs

Side notes for those who don't know me personally: the only Microsoft product I own is an Xbox 360 - and that's gathering dust next to the PS3, which I greatly prefer. Every computer I own runs either Linux or FreeBSD. I service and sell all platforms professionally, but prefer when possible to use either Ubuntu Server or FreeBSD for server infrastructure. If that isn't enough to brand me "not-a-microsoft-fanboy", see http://freebsdwiki.net - that's mine.


(8 comments | Leave a comment)

March 2nd, 2009

06:50 pm - pedobear seal of approval
Janis and I got this giant box of baby clothes from her sister. Here's a onesie my daughter will NOT be wearing:

Seriously, what the fuck?
Tags: , ,

Current Mood: o_0

(21 comments | Leave a comment)

February 9th, 2009

08:01 pm - Push
The movie was just as bad as the reviews say it is. I knew it was going to suck, but I was hoping for some blood-pumping special-effects-fueled action and didn't really get that much of it.

What the movie DID have going for it was Dakota Fanning. She really did an excellent job portraying the urban-pixie barely-teen precog punkgirl - I kept thinking over and over that it was like she walked straight out of an early William Gibson novel and onto the set of that crappy movie.

Once it's out for rentals, it might be worth queueing up just for that.

(Leave a comment)

February 2nd, 2009

06:11 pm - Hey Lee...
Hey Lee, next time you're making a special trip to the MAC store for your wife... think of this:

http://amygraff.vox.com/library/video/6a00c225202e3b549d00c225213235549d.html (NWS)

No, I very definitely do NOT know wtf.


(3 comments | Leave a comment)

January 26th, 2009

12:14 pm - it ain't a Gran Torino, that's for sure
Janis and I went to see a late showing of Clint Eastwood's flick, Gran Torino. If you aren't familiar with the premise, it's the basic white-person-befriends-formerly-worthless-ethnic-minority schtick - you know, $ethnic_person tries to $crime victimizing $white_person / $white_person finds $value in $ethnic_person and befriends them / $white_person lifts $ethnic_person out of the gutter, protecting $ethnic_person from $other_ethnic_people intent on (harming|impregnating|indoctrinating) (him|her) along the way.

It's a quite good example of the type, however.

So here's the surreal moment of the weekend: not 5 freaking minutes after getting home from the movie, Janis tells me to look out the window, somebody is slowing down in front of our house. Sure enough, there's a Chrysler Lebaron in pretty terrible shape creepin' Boyz-N-Tha-Hood style, and it comes to a dead stop right in front. Wtf?

story and ZOMG PICTURES behind the cutCollapse )
Current Mood: amused

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

January 22nd, 2009

09:37 pm - since the original is slashdotted or something... US Democracy Patch Day

US Democracy Server: Patch Day
Version 44.0

  • Leadership: Will now scale properly to national crises. Intelligence was not being properly applied.
  • A bug has been fixed that allowed the President to ignore the effects of debuffs applied by the Legislative classes.
  • Drain Treasury: There appears to be a bug that allowed loot to be transferred from the treasury to anyone on the Presidents friends list, or in the Presidents party. We are investigating.
  • Messages to and from the President will now be correctly saved to the chat log.
  • Messages originating from the President were being misclassified as originating from The American People.
  • A rendering error that frequently caused the President to appear wrapped in the American Flag texture has been addressed.

Vice President
  • The Vice President has been correctly reclassified as a pet.
  • No longer immune to damage from the Legislative and Judicial classes.
  • The Vice President will no longer aggro on friendly targets. This bug was identified with Ranged Attacks and the Head Shot ability.
  • Reveal Identity: this debuff will no longer be able to target Covert Operatives.
  • Messages to and from the Vice President will now be correctly saved to the chat log.
  • A rendering bug was affecting the Vice Presidents visibility, making him virtually invisible to the rest of the server. This has been addressed.

  • There was a bug in the last release that prevented the Cabinet from disagreeing with the President, which was the cause of a number of serious balance issues. This bug has been addressed, and we will continue to monitor the situation.

  • Many concerns have been raised regarding balance issues in the Supreme Court. This system is maintained on a different patch schedule, and will require longer to address.
  • A large number of NPCs in the Judiciary were incorrectly flagged "ideological." We are trying to identify these cases and rectify this situation.

Homeland Security
  • Homeland Security Advisory System: We have identified a bug in this system that prevents the threat level from dropping below Elevated (Yellow). The code for Guarded (Blue) and Low (Green) has been commented out. We are testing the fix and hope to have it in by the next patch.
  • Torture: This debuff is being removed after a record number of complaints.
  • Item: Large Bottle of Water is incorrectly generating threat with TSA Agents when held in inventory. We are looking into the issue.
  • Asking questions about Homeland Security was incorrectly triggering the Chain-Jingoism debuff.

  • Serious on-going issues with server economy are still being addressed. We expect further roll-backs, and appreciate your help identifying and fixing bugs. We cant make these fixes without your help.

  • Reputation with various factions are being rebalanced. The gradated reputation scale was erroneously being overwritten by the binary For Us/ Against Us flag.

  • The Desert Storm quest chain was displaying an erroneous "Mission Accomplished" message near the beginning of the chain.
  • The quest chain that begins with Theres no Cake like Yellow Cake and terminates with W-M-Denied has been identified as uncompletable, and has been removed.

  • Many recipes that currently call for Crude Oil can now be made with Wind, Solar, Geothermal and Ethanol reagents. We hope to roll out even more sweeping changes in the next patch.

  • The Axis of Evil event is drawing to a close. Look forward to the Rebuilding Bridges event starting in January.

(originally from: http://www.chromecow.com/2009/01/20/us-democracy-server-patch-day/)

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

January 21st, 2009

08:54 pm - the high lyrical content of the late 80s
Man. I decided today to rip a bunch of serious oldskool from my CDs - which I haven't touched in years - to put a 5th disc in the 6-disc (MP3) changer in the HHR. I knew I definitely wanted Run-DMC's Raising Hell and Tougher Than Leather albums; beyond that I just winged it.

A couple of albums of Public Enemy presented themselves to me while I was rummaging through the bins of CDs, and I thought fuck yeah, PE in full effect! So Apocalypse '91 - The Enemy Strikes Black and It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back made it onto the mix.

God damn. I was transfixed on the way to work; I'd intended to listen to Run-DMC but the PE was first on the disc, and it was fucking incredible. I'd partly forgotten how good it was, and even more just never really appreciated it for all it is. For one thing, I remember thinking Chuck D was paranoid as hell and obsessed with corruption in politics that "just wasn't that bad"... well, that was before eight years of W. He doesn't seem so far-fetched anymore. For another thing, again, I remembered how eloquent Chuck D was - or at least, how impressive his voice was - but jesus, even Flavor Flav's stuff is incredible by today's standards. "Cold Lampin' Wit' Flavor" is 100% Flavor Flav silliness, but it's also packed full of extremely clever wordplay of a kind you just don't see in hip-hop anymore.

I was also struck by the balance that was struck between Chuck's deadly-serious political commentary and Flavor's buffoonery; without Flavor, Chuck's moralistic lines would get leaden and tiresome - without Chuck, Flavor's antics would be clever but ultimately much less satisfying. I never really appreciated that as a teenager. Those guys had a plan, and made a truly coherent product with serious craftsmanship, aimed at producing tangible political thought as well as simple entertainment. How much music can you really say that of, of any genre?

By modern standards, of course, the soundscape tends to come across a bit hollow and simplistic - these tracks rarely exhibit the kind of multi-layered richness modern musical tastes demand, and Chuck's voice is noticeably rough and his breath not entirely controlled on a lot of the tracks in Nation. The vocal pace is generally slow by modern hip-hop standards, as well - but there's almost nothing wasted; the lyrics are intelligent, intelligible, and make sense even when read without the music. Even Flavor's buffoonery makes sense.

I wish I'd been equipped to appreciate these guys properly when the music was new - or that new music would appear that was this impressive.

Current Music: Public Enemy - Louder Than A Bomb

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

December 19th, 2008

01:33 pm - In happier news...
In happier news, Janis and I are doing great. The baby is apparently destined to be a soccer star; according to Janis' pregnancy books, 3 weeks from now "the father may be able to feel the baby kick". Shit. I've been able to feel that baby kick for two weeks ALREADY. You don't exactly have to concentrate on it! Last night, I had my arm draped over Janis' ribs and I felt it when the baby kicked. "Go, Little Pele!"

We're doing pretty well with the accumulating baby stuff, too. We've got a crib, glider chair with ottoman (for breastfeeding), a play mat, a swing, and a walker now... also, Baby's First Book. We were looking around in the Babies R Us the other night waiting for Chris and Karen to be ready for Chris' birthday dinner, and I picked up a "go to sleep story" kind of book. The illustrations were really cute, the story was rhyme-y and simple in a Dr.-Seuss-but-not-so-trippy kind of way, and I could totally see being willing to read it night after night after night for a few years. I figured all that added up to "better go ahead and buy this now", so I did.

All that stuff? About $100. The book was about $10 new, the crib was free from Janis' sister, and we got the rest of the stuff for $90 off of Craigslist. How freaking awesome is that?

Still don't have a carseat, but we've got three more months to handle it.

Also, my mom and my stepdad are coming for a week, starting a few days after the birth, to help out with the baby, which Janis and I are both thrilled about. Possibly even more thrilled about than Scott is thrilled about being a grand-dad... but then again, possibly not. =)

We'll keep you posted.


(20 comments | Leave a comment)

01:02 pm - my blood is fucking boiling right now.
If you don't want your blood boiling as well, don't click this link.

Short version: in Galveston, TX, a 12 year old female honor student goes outside, in her own family's yard, to flip a breaker. An unmarked blue van screeches up, three men in civilian clothes boil out, say "you're a prostitute, you're coming with us," and grab her and try to muscle her into the van. The girl grabs onto a tree for dear life and starts screaming "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" and the men beat her repeatedly about the head, neck, and back with a flashlight.

When the parents rush out, their puppy gets out with them, and - unsurprisingly - attaches himself to one man's leg. The man threatens to shoot the puppy.

Three weeks later, the 12 year old girl is arrested at school, at ten AM, for assaulting a peace officer.

As if all of this weren't bad enough already, the van - which was a narcotics dept van in Galveston, TX - was responding to a call of "three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black [man] drug dealer." Dymond - the 12 year old girl they attempted to abduct from her own family's yard - is black.

The case sounds pretty unbelievable; you might be inclined to think it's another Tawana Brawley style racially-motivated hoax. But the family is being represented by the same Anthony Griffin who represented a Klan member pro bono on behalf of the ACLU (and was expelled from the NAACP for it)... so, uh, I'm gonna have to say "probably not".

This would make my blood boil on any day of my life, but given that I've got a daughter of my own due in March... I just can't fucking stop thinking about it.

Current Mood: angry
Current Music: Rage Against The Machine - Bulls On Parade

(2 comments | Leave a comment)

November 4th, 2008

02:21 pm - Voting, and other stuff
Sorry I haven't been around for, uh... weeks? I was busy getting married and stuff. There's a shit-pot of pictures I need to post and yadda, yadda, yadda.

But anyway.

Janis and I walked down to vote today, and omg it was a madhouse. She hasn't yet changed her name (to make sure it wouldn't interfere with her ability to vote) so I ended up voting first, since they were splitting the lines by first-letter-last-name, and apparently there are a LOT more voters in the first half of the alphabet than the latter. So, about an hour into the line waiting experience, I got to vote while she was still outside the hall.

After I'd voted, I salmoned my way back upstream to hang out with her while she waited. Eventually, I ended up leaving her there so I could go home and take a dump. It's probably just as well - judging from the stories she told when she got home, I'd have ended up in the "Crime Blotter" section of the Free Times later if I hadn't.

Janis ended up waiting in line for another two hours after I left, and my sweet-tempered never-rattled non-complainy-y bride came home yelling-and-shaking mad. Not at the poll workers - at the other people in line. She was just ahead of the Couple From Hell, who apparently bitched EXTREMELY loudly, non-stop, and kept grabbing poll-workers and interfering with them doing, you know, their actual jobs. Because it was more important that these two twits tie them up bitching about, you guessed it, how slow things were.

Among their more notable idiocies, apparently these two started grabbing pollworkers and complaining that "the booths aren't even being kept full!" while pointing angrily at an admittedly empty booth... with no fucking voting machine inside. We got some handicapped voters at our polling place, and they had to take the machine from that booth outside to accommodate the handicapped folks. (They were schlepping the machine in and out as necessary, not leaving it as a permanent handicapped station, incidentally.)

After an hour and a half of being subjected to these people's loud shouting and negative crap, finally just before she went ahead to vote she told them "next time you should just send in absentee ballots, then you won't have to be here"; this apparently did not go over well. Comments were apparently made about how they "didn't have to listen to" Janis; more comments were made to the effect that Janis had had to listen to them for the last hour and a half, etc etc etc.

I think it's probably just as well I wasn't there. I dunno how severe the charges are for beating somebody's ass right on the floor at a polling place on a national election day, but if this asshole managed to get JANIS so mad she was shaking, I am pretty sure I'd have gotten fed up enough to deck him.

On a happier note, did I mention we're married?


(13 comments | Leave a comment)

September 25th, 2008

10:23 pm - unlearning a lifetime of driving habits
So, I recently bought a Chevy HHR because Jiffy Lube destroyed my beloved Mighty Neon.

The HHR was billed as getting 22MPG city / 28MPG highway. I've always tended to get significantly better mileage on my vehicles than the EPA ratings; I keep my vehicles in excellent shape and I understand where the powerband is on the engine.

So I was pretty shocked when, after the first couple of weeks, the HHR was reporting about 17MPG average. Ouch! And wtf?

After that shock, even though I felt like I knew better, I tried driving like most people do when they are trying to save gas - I babied the throttle. Creeping off the line, accelerating very lightly, et cetera. As I've always told people, this isn't the great idea they think it is - if you're accelerating outside the engine's powerband, you're wasting gas. Unsurprisingly, my couple of weeks spent babying the throttle didn't do me any good. I got up to about 18 or 19 MPG, but that was with SERIOUSLY grandmothering the hell out of EVERYTHING - not just accelerating slowly off the line, but also cruising so sedately that people kept diving in ahead of me. Very little improvement in economy, with a SEVERE decrease in the entire driving experience.

So I got thoughtful, and I flipped the HUD on the car to "instant MPG" mode and really paid attention. And I figured out what was biting me in the butt: modern (meaning within the last 2 or 3 years) automatic transmissions are very different from the ones I grew up with.

Traditional automatic transmissions leave the car in gear when you idle. What this means is, when cruising at a relatively stable speed, the best fuel economy you can get is to feather the throttle precisely to what's needed to keep the car moving at that speed - the less surging, the better. Trying to coast by taking your foot off of the gas entirely is generally a mistake, as the drag of "engine braking" with the vehicle still in gear will slow you down rapidly, so accelerating back again is a net waste of fuel.

The automatic in the HHR, however, actually puts the vehicle in neutral when your foot is off the gas. This makes for a very different picture when it comes to maximizing fuel economy: suddenly, coasting and accelerating makes a lot more sense. You have to remember, again, that an engine is most efficient inside its powerband: when it is accelerating pretty strongly. So in the case of a vehicle with a transmission that goes completely neutral when your foot is off the pedal, the most efficient driving profile becomes one in which you accelerate smoothly but fairly strongly off the line to cruising speed, then take your foot off the throttle until you start to slow down, then accelerate again fairly strongly but briefly, then coast... wash, rinse, repeat.

It's an odd way to drive, to my sensibilities. And it requires considerably more skill and attention: the idea, after all, is not to make it obvious to other drivers that you're accelerating in surges; you don't want to vary your speed more than 1mph or so while you're "cruising". But the results of trying it speak for themselves: I went from averaging 17-19 MPG to and from work to averaging 24 MPG on the same route.


(21 comments | Leave a comment)

> previous 20 entries
> next 20 entries
> Go to Top