July 31, 2006

surprise

My son just discovered bubble wrap. He was fascinated by it, but couldn't quite pop the really small bubbles. So he took it in the other room to try popping it with other things.

So every few minutes we hear:
POP!
EEEEEEK!
Hahaha!

Possibly the cutest thing he's done this year.

July 28, 2006

LinkNews Digest [07/28/2006]

Fans 'Till You Die, and Then Some

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German soccer club plans to open a cemetery next to its stadium so that die-hard fans can rest in peace alongside their favorite team. Hamburg SV, a Bundesliga side from the northern port city, aims to open the graveyard some 50 feet from the stadium's main entrance, said deputy chairman Christian Reichert.

"For a large number of people, it's important to be close to the club after their lives are over," he said. "The cemetery will have the look of a small, open stadium." With 42,000 registered supporters at the club and just 500 graves up for grabs, competition for places promises to be fierce. Officials have already begun taking reservations.

"I don't know of any other place in Germany where this is done, so it's a unique opportunity for our fans," Reichert said, adding that teams like England's Everton FC have been known to inter fans' ashes around playing fields.

Fans get 25 years in the turf and can choose from a range of burials: ashes in an urn from 2,500 euros ($3,150), a single grave at 8,000 euros and a two person plot at 12,500 euros.(LINK )

"Arrested Development" in Syndication!

JUL. 26 8:41 P.M. ET Microsoft Corp. will run free episodes of the quirky TV comedy "Arrested Development" through its MSN Video service later this year, making the show available online for the first time.

MSN, the software maker's Internet unit, said Wednesday it will run display and video ads instead of charging viewers to watch the critically lauded show that was a hit with a relatively small but fiercely loyal audience. MSN will have exclusive portal rights to syndicate the show's 53 episodes for three years.

Meanwhile, G4, a network that targets the coveted 18- to 34-year-old male demographic, has acquired basic cable rights for the series for three years and will begin airing it in October. (LINK )

Product of the Week: Lung Ash Tray

This ashtray is designed to look like a real pair of lungs. As you place your cigarette on the trough, it starts coughing and screaming as if a real cigarette is being lighted up inside real lungs! Great novelty gift item for the ardent smoker or for someone who needs help with give up smoking. WARNING: You may want to give up smoking when you use this ashtray! (LINK )
(via Red Ferret)

July 25, 2006

'Repairs'

I'm headed to Little Rock for our annual meeting. Flight out is 8AM, so to get here in time, we had to leave at 5:45 AM from Lawrenceville. I got here in just enough time to see the DELAYED sign on my flight, and a new Departure time of 9:36 AM.

So Here I am at 10:05. They announced that our plane is "undergoing maintenance", and we see from the window here, that said maintenance is REPLACING THE DUCT TAPE on the Cockpit Windows. We've been watching him do this for 40 minutes.

This does not inspire confidence. And we are debating whether this man has even been certified as a Duct Tape Installation Engineer. Come on Delta, money can't be THAT tight.

And Mel, the Will is still in the Safe Deposit box, right?

July 23, 2006

My Suck Runneth Over...

With the exception of getting together for 5 hours and Game with Jay and Shawn on Saturday, this was the worst weekend for me in the past 6 months.

At work, I have a program that I've been coding on for the past month. I finally got all the bugs out and it runs beautifully. All ready to roll out on Monday, right? Wrong. For some inexplicable reason it doesn't work when I upload it to the server where it will run. And this HAS to be in place on Monday, 8AM. So I work all of Saturday Morning, and come up with three other ways that it can do the same thing. All three work on my laptop, but not on the server.

Break for some relief gaming at Jay's that we've been trying to get together since November. Justin doesn't show up, but then I find out that he WANTED to come, but I accidentally turned my phone off and didn't get his message. On the way back from Jay's, Shawn and I look for a place to grab dinner, but everything along 20 is blacked out from the storm, except Mall Of Georgia, which has 50 people waiting outside each restaurant. We ended up eating at Cracker Barrel at 8:15 PM.

This morning, Matthew had enough bad behavior to necessitate two time-outs in the car. Two incidents at church (including loud noises during mass) and one at Waffle House. After lunch, I'm right back at work. I try another 2 methods and neither of them work in the end. It's 11:30 at night, and I'm doing a last-ditch brute-force method that will take care of the problem for now and buy me another week to finish it. Fingers crossed.

And Mel's been having her headaches almost non-stop since Friday. They need to get this diagnosis DONE and do something about it soon.

Add to this equation the following issues of the costly variety:
- My 8 year old car is bleeding oil like Mr. Pink
- We have a dead tree standing in the backyard, and three dead trees on the ground
- My lawnmower just snapped a drive cable this afternoon, halfway through the lawn.

The only positive notes were Gaming on Saturday and Friday night, when Shawn and I had a Movie Night and watched that cheesy old TV serial "Dark Shadows" (at my request). Otherwise, Suckage abounds.

And I look forward to this week, when I'll be flying to Little Rock, Arkansas for the annual departmental meeting. I like the people I work with, but I'll most likely get grilled about the program still not working.

I'll just type it out on the ol' Speak N Spell: "PRAY FOR MOJO"

July 21, 2006

LinkNews Digest [07/21/2006]

PaintBallers Sentanced to Shoot Own Cars

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - A judge ordered two paintball shooters to take aim at their own cars in order to stay out of jail.

Joshua Breeding, 20, and 19-year-old Christopher Lyons were found guilty on Thursday of splattering up another man's vehicle with paintballs in May. They each got a sentence of 60 days in jail.

Municipal Court Judge Michael Cicconetti gave them the option of shooting their own cars with paintballs and then cleaning up the mess. They also have to spend 40 hours painting at a Habitat for Humanity home, apologize to their victim and pay court costs. (LINK )

Airline "Hunt for Hoffa" Stunt Cancelled

DETROIT - An online game that poked fun at the FBI's hunt for Jimmy Hoffa's remains was shut down after a Florida-based discount airline received dozens of complaints from customers who felt the flight promotion was distasteful.

Spirit Airlines launched "The Hunt for Hoffa" on Tuesday, based on the unsuccessful search for the remains of the missing Teamsters president at a Milford Township farm. But hours after the game debuted, it was stopped and the promotion was changed to "Happy Sale."

The Miramar, Fla.-based airline promoted the game on its Web site with the teaser, "Help us find Hoffa with our Hunt for Hoffa game and enjoy fares from just $39 each way."

The point of the game was to dig for Hoffa's body by clicking grids, mirroring the massive effort at the Detroit-area horse farm in May. Hoffa disappeared 31 years ago. Winners were taken to another site that read "You found Hoffa!" and thanked them for helping the National Spirit Sale Center find the missing union leader. (LINK )

Dumped Pr0n Sparks Scramble

Belgians are rushing to the countryside to scoop up thousands of pr0n videos and erotic books dumped after a failed sex fair.

Pr0n-lovers young and old have been spotted in the fields outside the small town of Geraardsbergen, near Brussels, stuffing bags with the free X-rated material after open air erotic festival 'Imagination 69' failed to attract the expected number of visitors.

Resident Matthias Roggeman, 17, said: "The organisers left behind thousands of DVDs and books and the news has spread like wildfire. Loads of people have rushed here to stock up on their pr0n collections and I've even heard some people are selling the stuff on in pubs."

Locals have now dubbed the field Pr0notopia. (LINK )

July 14, 2006

LinkNews Digest [07/14/2006]

"Ride the Lightning"... Not The Other Way Around

Castle Rock - Jason Bunch was listening to Metallica on his iPod while mowing the lawn outside his Castle Rock home Sunday afternoon when lightning hit him.

The last thing the 17-year-old remembers was that a storm was coming from the north and he had only about 15 minutes before he should go inside. Next thing he knew, he was in his bed, bleeding from his ears and vomiting. He was barefoot and had taken off his burned T-shirt and gym shorts. He doesn't know how he got back in the house.

Bunch immediately called his mother, who was in Illinois visiting family. "Mom, I think I was hit by lightning," he said. Bunch was taken to Sky Ridge Medical Center and placed in intensive care. He was sent home Tuesday.

"I'm alive, and that is what I am grateful for," Bunch said as he lay in bed Wednesday.

Bunch's ears were burned on the inside, and he's lost some hearing, mostly on the right side. His hair was singed. His face, chest, hands and right leg have freckle-size welts on them as if buckshot had come from inside his body out.

The wounds follow the line of his iPod, from his ears down his right side to his hip, where he was carrying the device. The iPod has a hole in the back, and the earbuds dissolved into green threads. (LINK )

Ned Flanders was Un-Diddly-Vailable for Comment

Two girls, aged 17 and 18, have been banned from a church festival after they flashed their breasts to a ride operator so that they could stay on it longer. The operator gave the girls an extra twenty minutes on the ride.

Police were called following the incident, and the two girls have admitted to the lewd act. The incident, which occurred at the Our Lady of the Greenwood Catholic Church festival happened when most festivel goers had gone home.

Rev. Jonathan Meyer said that "It’s a shame these young women didn’t know the great gift and beauty they have as a woman. The body is sacred and holy. We should be sad for them." No charges were filed. (LINK )

Arrested Development Movie in the Works


There's a small glimmer of hope that we'll all see the Bluths again, and not just in reruns on DVDs. In an interview with TVGuide, actress Alia Shawkat ("Maeby") confirmed that there is talk of doing an Arrested Development movie. She didn't say a lot--probably because the interview was actually about her role in an upcoming Lifetime movie--but she did say that creator Mitch Hurwitz is in talks with Ron Howard about moving to the big screen. That was all hinted at in the series finale when Shawkat's character tried to sell the rights to the Bluth's story to Howard. (LINK )

New Symptom of Media: "Netflix Guilt"

"City of God," the award-winning 2002 Miramax film about the slums of Rio de Janeiro, is the most expensive film I’ve never watched. By my calculation, it cost me $66. I hear it’s great.

Perhaps you’re familiar with the following dynamic: film is highly recommended; film appeals to intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities; film is added to the Netflix queue, and soon appears in the mail in that unassuming but somehow pushy red-striped envelope. Temperament, timing and ambiance is never quite right for film’s subject matter, in this case, brutal and depressing. Film sits on TV for a year, taking up valuable space on Netflix queue and inflicting pangs of guilt and regret. Said intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities are called into question when "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is watched and quickly returned.

I had "City of God" in my possession for 11 months, during which I paid $18 a month for a three-DVD-at-a-time Netflix subscription. Finally, I returned the movie in defeat while delusionally re-adding it to the end of my queue. By that time, my wife and I were talking about a dangerous new force in our lives: Netflix guilt.

Trexel told me that "Netflix guilt" was actually a subject of conversation at the company’s Los Gatos, Calif., headquarters. "We had a running joke with one colleague. He had a movie about the first Persian Gulf War, 'Three Kings,' out for so long that we teased him that the U.S. had actually gone back to war with Iraq during the time that he had it."(LINK )

New Product of the Week: Horse Head Pillow

Revenge is a dish best served stuffed: Another Kropserkel original!
A custom severed horse head plush that is actually quite comfortable to sleep on, albeit a tad on the south side of morbid.

A great conversation piece for the wannabe wise guy who has everything, and whose wife won't let them own a revolver. For that matter, something for the authentic wise guy with a soft side for the well being of animals. A great home theatre accessory as a tough guy's Teddy bear, aimed squarely at those with a diabolical sense of humor. Fans of the mob's harsh brand of communication can now unite and rest comfortably, if not uneasily. Send someone a message they will never forget!

Finally, a gift you can send to your 'frienemies'. For the recipient, there will be no misunderstanding that you want them to get a better sleep...A better sleep with the fishes that is.

The horse head plush is the perfect reminder of the mistake they once made in wronging you, or for someone who just needs a good shaking up.(LINK )
(Thanks to Justin)

July 13, 2006

2006 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Winners of the 2006 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

[Named for Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who famously started out his novel Paul Clifford with the phrase "It was a dark and stormy night"]

Grand Prize - Jim Guigli ,Carmichael, CA
Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

Winner: Detective Fiction - Derek Fisher, Ottawa, ON

It was a dreary Monday in September when Constable Lightspeed came across the rotting corpse that resembled one of those zombies from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," except that it was lying down and not performing the electric slide.

Winner: Fantasy Fiction - Camille Barigar, Twin Falls, ID

It was within the great stony nostril of a statue of Landrick the Elfin Vicelord that Frodo's great uncle, Jasper Baggins, happened to stumble upon the enchanted Bag of Holding, not to be confused with the Hag of Bolding, who was quite fond of leeks, most especially in a savory Hobbit knuckle stew.

Winner: Historical Fiction - Christopher Backeberg, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

While Hector and the heroes of Troy trembled behind the ramparts as cowboys below the walls raced up and down the beach, six-guns blazing and cries of "yee-hah!" filling the air, other cowboys across the sea were laboring gamely but in vain to throw a palisade around Wichita, Kansas, thereby adding veracity to the old homily of history that it is easier to cow a fortified city than to fortify a cow city.

Winner: Purple Prose - Bill Mac Iver, Berkeley, CA

A single sparkling tear fell from Little Mary's cheek onto the sidewalk, then slid into the storm drain, there to join in its course the mighty waters of the Los Angeles River and, eventually, Long Beach Harbor, with its state-of-the-art container-freight processing facilities.

Winner: Romance - Dennis Barry, Dothan, AL

Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.
Winner: Western - Samuel Goldstein, Los Angeles, CA
His mistake, Shut-eye McBlamaway reflected, was not in standing up to a gang of desperadoes and rustlers on the high country, but in standing up to a gang of desperadoes and rustlers who had just left the set of a Sergio Leone shoot, and were thus equipped with those guns that never run out of ammunition.

July 10, 2006

US Military Rigs Own Wargame to Claim Victory

The largest simulated wargame in history was staged by the US (BLUE) against a generic Middle Eastern country with a Megalomaniacal Dictator (RED) after 2000. A retired Marine, Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, played the Dictator. And He handed the combined US Forces their collective asses.

Thanks to the Guardian UK, since we don't get this kind of News in America anymore.
In the first few days of the exercise, using surprise and unorthodox tactics, the wily 64-year-old Vietnam veteran sank most of the US expeditionary fleet in the Persian Gulf, bringing the US assault to a halt.

Millennium Challenge was the biggest war game of all time. It had been planned for two years and involved integrated operations by the army, navy, air force and marines. The exercises were part real, with 13,000 troops spread across the United States, supported by actual planes and warships; and part virtual, generated by sophisticated computer models. It was the same technique used in Hollywood blockbusters such as Gladiator. The soldiers in the foreground were real, the legions behind entirely digital.

Even when playing an evil dictator, the marine veteran clearly takes winning very seriously. He reckoned Blue would try to launch a surprise strike, in line with the administration's new pre-emptive doctrine, "so I decided I would attack first."

Van Riper had at his disposal a computer-generated flotilla of small boats and planes, many of them civilian, which he kept buzzing around the virtual Persian Gulf in circles as the game was about to get under way. As the US fleet entered the Gulf, Van Riper gave a signal - not in a radio transmission that might have been intercepted, but in a coded message broadcast from the minarets of mosques at the call to prayer. The seemingly harmless pleasure craft and propeller planes suddenly turned deadly, ramming into Blue boats and airfields along the Gulf in scores of al-Qaida-style suicide attacks. Meanwhile, Chinese Silkworm-type cruise missiles fired from some of the small boats sank the US fleet's only aircraft carrier and two marine helicopter carriers. The tactics were reminiscent of the al-Qaida attack on the USS Cole in Yemen two years ago, but the Blue fleet did not seem prepared. Sixteen ships were sunk altogether, along with thousands of marines. If it had really happened, it would have been the worst naval disaster since Pearl Harbor.

It was at this point that the generals and admirals monitoring the war game called time out.

"A phrase I heard over and over was: 'That would never have happened,'" Van Riper recalls. "And I said: nobody would have thought that anyone would fly an airliner into the World Trade Centre... but nobody seemed interested."

In the end, it was ruled that the Blue forces had had the $250m equivalent of their fingers crossed and were not really dead, while the ships were similarly raised from watery graves.

Van Riper was pretty fed up by this point, but things were about to get worse. The "control group", the officers refereeing the exercise, informed him that US electronic warfare planes had zapped his expensive microwave communications systems.

"You're going to have to use cellphones and satellite phones now, they told me. I said no, no, no - we're going to use motorcycle messengers and make announcements from the mosques," he says. "But they refused to accept that we'd do anything they wouldn't do in the west."

Then Van Riper was told to turn his air defences off at certain times and places where Blue forces were about to stage an attack, and to move his forces away from beaches where the marines were scheduled to land. "The whole thing was being scripted," he says.

Within his ever narrowing constraints, Van Riper continued to make a nuisance of himself, harrying Blue forces with an arsenal of unorthodox tactics, until one day, on July 29, he thinks, he found his orders to his subordinate officers were not being listened to any more. They were being countermanded by the control group. So Van Riper quit. "I stayed on to give advice, but I stopped giving orders. There was no real point any more," he says.

What happened next will be familiar to anyone who ever played soldiers in the playground. Faced with an abrupt and embarrassing end to the most expensive and sophisticated military exercise in US history, the Pentagon top brass simply pretended the whole thing had not happened.

If the Pentagon thought it could keep its mishap quiet, it underestimated Van Riper. A classic marine - straight-talking and fearless, with a purple heart from Vietnam to prove it - his retirement means he no longer has to put up with the bureaucratic niceties of the defence department. So he blew the whistle.

His driving concern, he tells the Guardian, is that when the real fighting starts, American troops will be sent into battle with a set of half-baked tactics that have not been put to the test.

"Nothing was learned from this," he says. "A culture not willing to think hard and test itself does not augur well for the future." The exercise, he says, was rigged almost from the outset.
Read the Complete Story. I have a feeling that this guy and Greg Lee would be fast friends over a bottle of Drambuie.

July 09, 2006

Pirates of the Caribbean 2



Look at this. It *IS* hard out here for a Pirate Pimp, as Shawn shows us with wenches Melissa and Maddy in tow. He was holding Mel's Chest all night, as we see here.


"PotC 2 : Dead Man's Chest" opened this weekend, and Melissa and many others were there in costume for the Midnight Show on Thursday night. Melissa set up a deal with the Regal Hollywood 24 (favorite theater in Atlanta for big movie openings) to promote their "Stars of Hope" charity campaign in costume, and collect donations in exchange for a few tickets to the show. I stayed home because I had to work the next morning, but much frivolity ensued and people had a great time.

For the Friday Show, I was able to borrow Shawn's spare RenFest costume and do some dressing up of my own for a change. We were up in Kennesaw, doing another Promo showing before the Pirate Party that Wade (our resident Capt'n Jack Sparrow) was throwing at his house.

I really liked the movie, but there were some detractors to it as well. Fight choreography was AMAZING and imaginative, Character design on the Flying Dutchman's crew was very detailed. humor was almost as good as the first movie and there's a nice surprise at the end, and a promising premise for the final chapter. Buuuuut... some things could have been a lot better. I really wanted Davy Jones to be a stronger presence. His character is huge, but the man himself gets surprisingly little screen time, and at times I really couldn't make out what he was saying. Bill Nighy's performance was great, but I think some better post-production audio work could have improved his diction. It's difficult to inspire fear when people can't understand your threats.

In any case, I'm hoping that #3 wraps things up, so that the plot shortcomings can be excused as setup for the story as a whole. It's difficult to be a "Middle Child" film. In these 2-part sequels, it can go either way: "The Empire Strikes Back" on one side and "The Matrix Reloaded" on the other.

After the show, we had a great time at Wade & Becky's place. It was nice for once to be able to have a couple of beers and not worry about driving home to pick up the kid. We stayed up until about 4:30, and woke up late the next morning. Wade had to be back at the Hollywood 24 at 7:30 AM Saturday Morning to be Capt'n Jack Sparrow for a private corporate showing. Tough schedule, but $300 made it worth it.

Here's some more pics:
Wade's Pirate Party Group Shot PotC 2 Filmstrip Captain Jack and an adoring Wench

More Photos

July 07, 2006

Gnarly Style

Forgive the sloppy images. Just a post about "Gnarls Barkley":
(1) Fairly good album ("Crazy" is good the first 100 times and a nice cover of "Gone Daddy Gone" by the Violent Femmes)
(2) Their Promo pics show that they are probably as big Movie Geeks as I am:

LinkNews Digest [07/07/2006]

Grand Theft Loco - North Korea

July 5, 2006: While everyone's attention was focused on North Korean missiles, the real story is the North Korean economy. It continues to fall apart, and more North Koreans are unhappy about that.

Meanwhile, North Korean officials engage in even more bizarre behavior. For example, food and fuel supplies sent to North Korea have been halted, not to force North Korea to stop missile tests or participate in peace talks, but to return the Chinese trains the aid was carried in on. In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. How do you negotiate under these conditions? (LINK )

5 Year-old Girl Kicks out Bloody Burgular

Little Jacqueline Castillo woke up early Saturday morning to a blood-covered stranger hovering over her bed. Instead of being scared, she said she was mad.

"Because he can't put blood in our house, that's why," Jacqueline said. So, the 5-year-old, who stands less than four feet tall, escorted the burglar to the back door and told him, "Get out of the house."

Police say the burglar was an intoxicated 17-year-old who had tried to get in at least two other homes. Investigators say he found an unlocked window at the Castillo house and climbed in, rifling through drawers in several bedrooms while Jacqueline's brother, mother, and grandmother slept.

"I think it was very brave of her," said Felix Castillo, her older brother. Felix says he is not surprised, because even though she looks sweet, "She messes with me. She's tough and she doesn't leave me alone," Felix said. "She's like a scaring machine." (LINK )
A girl after Melissa's heart...

Another Suspicious Enron Death

First, their main informant is found in his car, with a "self-inflicted" gunshot would to the BACK of the head and it's ruled a Suicide. Now even Criminal Übermensch Kenneth Lay's apparent heart attack ends up being rife with convenience. From the New York Times:
In yet another bizarre twist to the Enron saga, the sudden death of Kenneth L. Lay on Wednesday may have spared his survivors financial ruin. Mr. Lay's death effectively voids the guilty verdict against him, temporarily thwarting the federal government's efforts to seize his remaining real estate and financial assets, legal experts say.

"The death of Mr. Lay in all likelihood will render the government's hard-fought victory null," said Christopher Bebel, a former federal prosecutor based here who specializes in securities fraud.

Mr. Lay testified at his trial that his net worth had declined to liabilities of $250,000, hampered by mounting legal bills and poor-performing investments. But his finances were apparently not so dire. According to legal documents filed at the federal courthouse here Friday, Mr. Lay had holdings in an investment account at Goldman Sachs valued at $6.3 million.

In addition, prosecutors said that Mr. Lay's full-floor luxury apartment in this city's River Oaks district had at least $1.5 million in value that could be forfeited to the United States.

The government's forfeiture effort ahead of the planned sentencing of Mr. Lay and Mr. Skilling this fall, however, has been thrown into doubt, at least in relation to Mr. Lay's assets since the death of a criminal defendant before his sentencing and the appeal process may void the criminal case against him.

"Technically, he was found guilty, but that's extinguished as of today," said Joel M. Androphy, a prominent defense lawyer in Houston. (LINK )
Related: 15 Things to Remember about Kenneth Lay

Invention of the Week: The Flying Manta

Unlike towable watercraft that stay on the surface of the water, this inflatable watercraft and its rider are able to rise above the surface and hover in the air at speeds as low as 23 miles per hour. The 11' wingspan not only allows the craft to fly, it also provides a stable ride for up to two people, with two integrated neoprene seats and footrests. The double-hull design increases stability and strength. A two-position rope bridle gives the rider control of the tilt and direction on the water; an included safety strap can be installed to prevent hovering for beginners or young riders. $499.95(Catalog Link | Killer Video )