Friday, December 14, 2007

The Mitchell Report: Murphspot Nation Barely Reacts

I've long ago abandoned the pretense that I will occasionally be blogging about the Pirates. For one, blogs that are actually devoted to the cause of trying to figure out what on earth my team is doing are much, much better at that (I read WHYGAVS and Bucs Dugout regularly, but there are like twenty others that are also awesome). More than that, it's just really hard to come up with something original and funny to say when you're constantly being stabbed in the face by bad decisions, poor management and lack of talent. Again, I commend those who can hang in there and write about it anyway.

And yet, here we are. A baseball post.

Yesterday, George Mitchell's report on use of performance enhancing drugs came out. Most of you have probably heard this by now. Some eighty-nine players are named, from Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to Chuck Knoblauch and Nook Logan. There's been some controversy over how much evidence exists for each of these allegations and whether or not the report is exhaustive (it's emphatically not). It's what George Mitchell could find without being able to pressure most players into talking to him and relying, largely, on the evidence brought forth by former Mets clubhouse guy Kirk Radomski (who had cancelled checks from players who had him get them steroids and human growth hormone) and former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee (who claims to have injected Clemens and Pettitte.) I'm going to leave for right now the question of who the hell buys drugs illegally with a goddamn check. My reaction to the report's release was, of course, to check for Pirates on the list. The Post Gazette proudly proclaims that no current Pirates were on the list, though of course the list is not exhaustive (so there may indeed be current Pirates cheating) and, perhaps more importantly, if any current Pirates are on performance enhancing drugs, they're doing it wrong. Then again, the indominable Slaw-o tested positive, so it's possible to cheat and suck.

All of this to say that I'm not sure what to make of it. It's not exhaustive, as much as Bud Selig, the Players Association and MLB want to pretend it is and does not mark the "start of the post-steroid era." I'm not sure how to feel about the fact that there's no way to defend against the allegations except to sue for libel. What I am sure of, however, is that the Slate staff does a pretty good job of kicking it around for a while. Or, at least, they're coming at it from a position that's somewhat outside the typical sports-commentary/blogging perspective.

Give it a read, mostly because it occasionally contains gems like this:

(Josh) Levin: I guarantee that Batboy: The Rise and Fall of Kirk Radomski (or maybe The Unnatural) will be a major motion picture in the next two years. It's like Blow meets Almost Famous meets Major League.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Astronomy Cast

Ah. A geek post. How refreshing.

As you know if you read the header at the top of the page, I attempt to do science for a living. Chemistry. Mixing little bits of things with other little bits of things, then swirling it and drying it and putting it in water and heating it and trying to figure out what the hell is going on. It's fun. It wasn't what got me into the sciences, though.

The reason I'm interested in science and am trying to make a career out of it goes back to being in the fourth grade and checking a book about the solar system out of the library of my tiny Catholic school. Specifically, I remember it including instructions on how to grasp the scale of the solar system by using strings and a basketball and some pebbles. Or something. The point is that while what I do today involves things on a somewhat small scale and attempts to manipulate molecules and the structures they form into doing what I want them to do, what first got me interested in studying how everything works was astronomy. Recently, I've started to get back into paying attention to it, if only to have something pretty to look at in between banging my head against the wall trying to get my science to work.

Which is why you may, if you read this blog regularly and pay attention to it, have noticed the addition of the Bad Astronomy blog to my links on the side there. Actually, if you read this blog regularly and pay attention to it, I'd really like to have a talk with you, as your visits either indicate that you have nothing better to do, and so are clearly experiencing levels of boredom previously thought impossible by leading psychologists and should find your nearest university so that we can study how you've gotten this bored, or you're my mother. In which case, hello.

Phil Plait runs a terrific blog and has a book out and another coming up soon and keeps showing up on the skeptical podcasts I listen to, but the reason I thought to write this post is not to promote him. It's to promote Astronomy Cast. Astronomy-focused podcast run by Dr. Pamela Gay of Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and Fraser Cain, the publisher of Universe Today and noted Canadian. It's worth a listen and, if somehow you're reading this and employed as a high-school teacher, are running a program through NASA in which you let them know you exist, they send you equipment to record your student's questions, then answer them for you. Which is pretty cool. Overall, very good at taking incomprehensible things and making so that I can at least start to understand them.

It makes me a little bit sad that I'm not able to actually see very much in the night sky anymore, but I suppose that's one of the trade-offs you make when you choose to live in the third largest city in the nation, but do so on a salary that doesn't permit a car, so that you can get the hell out of here or an awesome telescope. I have yet to work up a decent rig that would allow me to carry a very sensitive piece of equipment on my back while biking, and given my tendency to either be hit by cars or have old women jump in front of me, I don't think that's something that's going to happen for quite some time.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Fine. I don't know what the Roller City is.

This thing has been oddly frustrating. I've mostly been playing around with the United States quiz (because it frustrates me to know that I don't know where Brattleboro is), but am still working up the courage to give the "Flag" and "Photos of the World" challenge another try. It's one thing to realize that I don't understand where things are in Vermont (which I'm giving myself a pass on as it was one of the two states that was left out of my New England Roadtrip a while back) but I'm not sure I can still consider myself to be aware of international politics if I cannot recall from memory either the flag of Eritrea or what monuments in Warsaw look like, and I'm not sure my self esteem could take that hit.

Also, if someone can tell me what the Roller City is, I'd love to know. They always ask it during the "City Nicknames" round, I always promptly forget where it is and Google keeps directing me to roller derby things, which, while awesome, are not what I'm looking for.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dear ZZ Top. Please Go Fix Texas.

First of all, I should note that I'm always looking for something that will make me actually post once in a while. I should have known, considering that I'm using Google's Blogger service (rather, I'm POWERING Blogger or something to that effect according to a button that appears to no longer exist here in the magical, mystical world of Murphspot), that Google would force me into actually commenting on the news by making something that makes it really easy to clip bits of articles and save them in a notebook. So, good on them.

Now, onto it.

I like Texas. Really I do. I tend to be on the opposite side of a lot of political discussions than most of its residents outside of Austin, but that's cool. I have relatives in Houston. I can occasionally put my hatred for the Cowboys out of my mind for, shucks, almost a minute on good days. Texas is good times. But then, occasionally, it does things that are really, really boneheaded. Like now.

Chris Comer was evidently the director of the science curriculum for the Texas Education Agency. I say was because she was put on 30 days administrative leave and later forced to resign. Because she forwarded an e-mail (to some people and "online communities". Not to me.) concerning an upcoming presentation being given by Barbara Forrest, author of this book which suggests that creationist politics are behind the Intelligent Design movement (they are).

So she was fired for talking to people not in the agency about Intelligent Design. Ok. That's absurd in itself, given that the whole Intelligent Design nonsense was sort of knocked about by the decision in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District and that she wasn't doing anything, so far as I can tell, that fell within her job description. I guess you could argue some sort of conflict of interest, but it'd be tenuous.

The absurd part is this bit.

"Ms. Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral."

Ok. I'll buy that Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of Forrest and her talk. I'll even buy that it implies that the TEA endorses the speaker. The part I'm having a hard time figuring out is the "subject on which the agency must remain neutral" bit.

No. It does not have to remain neutral. Not on "evolution vs. Intelligent Design in the science classroom."

As I've pointed out before on this blog, Intelligent Design is just not science. It's the opposite of science. You hunt for an anomaly, decide that it was too complex to have arisen all at once and then, instead of looking for other ways the anomaly could have functioned if it was lacking a piece and how it may have come together to function in its current capacity, you throw your hands up in the air, scream "ALIEUMS!" if you're being coy about who the intelligent designer is or "God did it" if you're not and stop looking for answers. You have to. Because if you find something that explains how a given "unexplainable" bit functions, it is no longer irreducibly complex and your whole system breaks down. If you discover, say that the bacterial flagellum may have been a pump before it was an outboard motor or that there is some advantage in having an eye that kinda works, you're forced to admit that those things were not irreducibly complex, that you gave up early because you were lazy or motivated by something other than the desire to figure out what the truth is. Then they take whatever you've found, move the goalposts and claim that "Surely, that must have been intelligently designed." It's not testable, not falsifiable (in the same way that you can't prove that everything wasn't created five minutes ago and we've all been implanted with false memories).

If it's not testable and not falsifiable, it is not science. If it's not science, it shouldn't be taught in science classrooms.

It should go without saying that evolution does not conflict with the concept of God, but I'll say it just because I'm in a mode where I'm typing kind of a lot.

Anyway, the Texas Education Agency does not need to remain neutral on the issue. The question is "Should we teach science or the polar opposite in science classrooms?" Their position should be "We will teach science in our science classrooms." It's a firing that happened because the officials are personally threatened by a viewpoint that the former Director held which happens to have all (and I do mean all) of the current evidence behind it. That seems, to me, to be the opposite of the way you want to run an education agency.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Unrelated Things

It's not so notable that you can buy food from Amazon. I'm not entirely sure why you would, but you can do it. My favorite find so far: Ten Pounds of Count Chocula. The fact that it's ten pounds of Count Chocula would be enough to be absolutely incredible, but I'd like to point out that currently, in the "Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed" section: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Whoever is viewing these items is having without question the best evening in history.

I dislike posting links to things on Fark, because it seems hacky. This, though, is kind of amazing. It's like they were having a contest for how horrifying a story they could come up with without actually hurting people and Puerto Rico won.

Puerto Rican "Animal Control" workers throw pets off of a bridge.

Who does that?

I'm going to start trying to read SCOTUSBlog. For some reason it seems like a thing to do might be to keep track of what's going on. You know. See what rights I still have every morning.

Apparently The CTA is going to start charging $3.25 for peak times, stop driving buses and punching kindergarteners. Or something. I'm going to keep looking for either clothes to wear to continue riding my bike for the entirety of the winter or hoping that I can convince someone to get me a car. I have a much cheaper pass, but it seems that it might be revoked at any time. So I've got to keep an eye out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Entertainment and Anglophilia

I was initially going to do something vastly different than this, but wasn't really feeling the whole "artificially imposing the binary approval thing just to be able to put a post up. Either way, the first part of this was originally a bit of one of those "plus/minus" posts that none of you remember, while the second half kind of grew out of that.

There are two things that I've recently gotten into which may or may not be profoundly geeky. The first is something I was actually very surprised existed, a podcast which seems to merely publish old copies of Dragnet from the days when it was a radio drama. I'm surprised at how well it was actually done, and it makes me wish I could track down the epidose "The LSD Story" (also known as "The Blueboy Episode") of the television drama which I think I recall being kind of hilarious. The other is something that, sadly, I kept away from until recently because of my own prejudices toward science fiction which is too campy, and is the recent relaunch (and I think seasons 27, 28 and 29) of Doctor Who. Sure, there's still big rubbery aliens and things designed by children, but discovering something that's such an institution in another country and finally getting to around to understanding what's up with these things has been enjoyable. And they seem to be able to put together a finale. Now if I can just convince the BBC to stop being so absurd with how much the charge to actually buy it.

So, I don't know. Perhaps I'll get a few more references and suddenly know who Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee and Elisabeth Sladen are and what on earth Gallifrey is and allowed me to be the only one in the room laughing when a few friends of mine and I were watching the recent Family Guy episode that spoofed Star Wars during the "traveling though hyperspace is weird" cutaway gag.. I suppose that's a bonus. Through an odd process of free association and intense consideration about how on earth I could come close to making this post have something to say, I've been dwelling on this weird obsession that my generation seems to have with all things British (that is, all things British which are easily accessible and which don't require you to think too hard about things and are mostly just plug-in-able). It's strange. Mostly on the internet (where people aren't real anyway), I continually come across people that I know to be Omaha or somewhere throwing British slang into the conversation, using alternate spellings and quoting the same Monty Python skits that everyone else quotes. And that's fine. I just can't get over the feeling that it's very, very forced. Perhaps part of it is that I tend not to use regional slang much (I don't think I have ever said "yinz" unless I'm actively trying to get across what it sounds like to grow up in Western Pennsylvania) and am fine with the way things are spelled in American English. That is, I don't buy into the argument thrown about by some Anglophiles that Americans dropped their "u"s because we just couldn't wrap our tiny minds around the concept of ending words in "our". Which is why I laughed when I looked into the etymology of "aluminum/aluminium" and it appears to stem from the same "false classicism" that prompts teenagers raised in Wichita to start spelling it "flavour."

"Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound"
-1812 Q. Rev. VIII. 72

This is despite the fact that the guy who first identified it as an element (who is actually a pretty astonishing figure that you should check out) originally called it "aluminum." Sure, it doesn't really matter as IUPAC currently accepts both, but it bothers me that one would change the name of an element to make it sound "more classical."

I suppose it's not that big a deal really, the whole Anglophilia thing. It strikes me as fake and indicative of kind of a whiny distaste for one's own background, but then most of my experience with the phenomenon is online which is, to borrow a phrase that friend once used against me, a "kingdom of lies." British culture is fantastic, and the number of cultural institutions which have relevance internationally is astonishing, but it's not mine. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go dahn to Jynt Iggle and pick up some jumbo and chipped ham n'at. Seems like I always eat pierogies and kolbassi anymore, and I need to break up that cycle. First, though, I need to redd up this room and my bike needs washed and I can't go out like this, so I better plan on stopping by Pants N'At. Yinz better leave me to get back to that and stop being nebby.

Tony's Got It.

(If you haven't yet, click on that wikipedia link about halfway through the rant if you need some assistance in interpreting what the hell the last few sentences were about. It's hard to think in properly formed sentences now. Damn. I'm going to sleep.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Second Post in a Month

So the thing about this is that I find it very difficult to commit to writing a post unless I either have something urgent and monumental to say or I've thought out a good ten page essay on the benefits and drawbacks of building your own treehouse. I don't have either today, but was just thinking that I should get something down here. So excuse me if I'm not making too much sense.

Part A: Imperviousness towards Automobiles.

I'm a superhero. Explanation: Last Tuesday I was preparing for a presentation I needed to give in front of a group I'm working with on a drug-delivery project. I decide to go home and finish putting the presentation together, but while working on what I'm going to say, I've been listening to the Nationals/Giants game in the hope of seeing Bonds hit 756*. Moments later he did, and I rejoiced and then packed everything up so that I could get the hell out of Dodge (Evanston). The next like twenty minutes were uneventful. I got to the Evanston Border (which I am going to define as the southern portion of the cemetery, regardless of whether or not that's actually legitimately the border) and pulled on to Sheridan. That was a bit off for me, as I usually take a side street down as far as I can because there's less traffic. Turns out that that's a good reason to do that. As I'm going down Sheridan, I'm passing one of the roads that has a stop sign on the side street, but no traffic control on Sheridan proper. As I'm going through the intersection, perfectly legally, Mr. Guy who wants to turn left decides he's doing so immediately and quickly. I couldn't brake hard enough, but was able to turn sharply enough that my side took the entirety of the impact. Which I think is good. I fell off of the bike and clear of the car and his passenger asked if I was ok. I didn't have any broken bones so far as I could tell, and so answered in the affirmative, and then they sped off. Because they're good people. I was physically fine (some light scrapes and my shoulder's still a bit sore) but my bike was done. I hadn't noticed immediately (I was sort of dealing with the shock of being hit, plus trying to think of who to call and being helped out by some amazingly nice woman who was walking down the street), but the fork was bent, the seat post was at about a 20 degree angle from where it was supposed to be and the front wheel was sort of folded in two. Plus the front brake no longer worked. I was advised to give up on it given that the bike was a cheapie from Target and as a result of the great generosity of my parents who are helping me out with the cost, I've acquired a new bike. It's this and is an amazingly nice ride. Huge improvement over the thing I had been riding which broke kind of often. Labmate Meera gave me a ride home because she's awesome and lives in the area in which I was hit.

Bonus: My laptop survived the crash and though it was tough to finish up the presentation because I was shaking, the presentation went fine. Overall, the experience was actually kind of exhilirating.

Part B: These Damn Books

I relented. The day after "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" came out, I gave in , drove to Walmart (I was at home for my friend's wedding) and purchased "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone". I'm currently about halfway through "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." So I've been enjoying them and enjoying being about a decade behind everyone else.

Part C: Music Snobbery

When asked, in the past, what my favorite style of music was, I usually responded with some amalgam of "90's punk and 2nd and 3rd wave ska". While I listen to a wide range of things, those are generally what I listen to the most. There are two answers that I sort of wince when I hear them.

  • "I listen to everything."
    This one annoys me because it just doesn't tell me anything. Everyone listens to everything. That's not what I was asking. What I was trying to figure out is what you listen to most and what gives you the greatest enjoyment. If I'm talking to you long enough to ask you what kind of music you like, I'm going to presume that you're open minded enough not to listen to vaguely folkish alternarock and only vaguely folkish alternarock.

  • "I listen to everything but Country and Rap"
    This one bothers me just a bit, mostly because while I don't listen to most new Country, you cannot convince me that Cash and Willie Nelson and the like aren't really, really good. The rap thing, I don't know. It's a "cool kid" answer that I think is given usually to mean "I don't listen to 50 Cent" when hip hop is an incredibly large and diverse genre, and I really don't think that 50 Cent is identical to, say, Busdriver. The tendency to presume all hip hop is gangsta rap is just incorrect. This popped into my head while I was listening to an interview of Saul Williams, hip-hop poet on this show, during which the interviewer was shocked (SHOCKED!) at Williams' contention that his poetry is as much a child of hip-hop culture as anything else. The interviewer's reaction, I think, was a sort of presumption that nothing that's spoken to a beat could possibly be intelligent.

I don't know. More things when I think of them.

*You thought I was putting this asterisk there because I was trying to indicate that he arrived at that number illegitimately, didn't you? He did, of course, and anyone that suggests that he didn't use illegal substances to get there is deluding themselves. That wasn't the reason behind the asterisk. The reason was to direct you down here to assure you that yes, I have an intense dislike for Barry Bonds for, if nothing else, screwing up in 1992. I do not want him to be the All Time Home Run record holder, and, like everyone else, am cheering like hell for A-Rod.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Yeah, I have basically no idea

For some reason I did this to my calf.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

There are some reasons I went with a big triangle, but as I'm about to run off into the night, I'll post about them later. Suffice it to say that I like simple designs and am not a big fan of color in tattoos. I'm very happy with it, and will be excited when it stops itching and when I regrow some leg hair.

I'll post a better picture of that once I get near a camera that isn't mostly a phone.

Edit: Better picture posted. Meera=win.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What did your second cousin think of "To Kill a Mockingbird"?

I'm not sure if you've noticed this, but the Internet's mostly social networking sites these days. That and blogs. The former serves to provide an easy way to keep in touch with old and current friends (by current I mean people you met at a party last week, and by old friends I mean people you didn't talk to in high school) while the latter serves as a platform to the world so that you can convince everyone how intelligent and witty you are, and how your opinion on things is necessary for any true sense of understanding in the world. Finally, these two noble enterprises have been combined into one single entity with which you can keep in touch with friends while impressing them with how smart you are.

Enter Good Reads. It's essentially a book review site, but allows you to rate and review every book you've ever so much as glanced at and share those reviews and ratings with your friends, who also have lists of things they've read and commented on. It likely also has some function as a way to find out about new and exciting books, but as I'm behind on the things I'm actually supposed to be reading, I haven't tested that yet.

So yes. If you're reading this, go to Good Reads. Sign up. Let me know you've done that so that I can get to know the real you by finding out what you thought of 1984. I like playing tenth grade English teacher. It's fun.

Also, their list of the Most Popular books for this week includes six Harry Potter books in the top TEN. I'm officially the only person that hasn't read any of them. In addition, "this week" apparently started almost a month ago. Who knew.

Get the Hell Out of My Way: The Bicycle Chronicles

You know, I think what I might do is just keep writing these whiny "here's how you should act to not irritate me" lists. If you'll remember, a little while back I wrote about how much I enjoy the hell out of coffee dispensaries which serve food to keep from being boring (read: diners). In it, I wrote a kind of passive-agressive "Hey waitress, you're awesome and everything but please with the more coffee now" list of directions for action.

I'm not going to diners so much in the past few weeks, primarily because the sweet, sweet taste of ever more coffee has been outweighed by the pleasure of sitting in an air conditioned apartment, playing Megaman and NHL 06 and yelling obscenities at people in Italy, Mississippi, South Carolina and New Zealand. Plus, going to the diner requires actually walking to the diner, and I am frequently in this strange thing called pain. On these strange things i've never noticed that are evidently "leg muscles". Who knew. Which leads into what I'm not so happy about at the moment. I've been biking to and from work almost every day. It's got the upside that I have heard it's healthy to bike twenty miles a day, but the downside that I've had to resort to taking like six hundred showers per day. This post, then, is addressed to everyone in Chicago who might actually come into contact with someone on a bicycle. So all of you. I'll break it down though.

Fellow Cyclists:

1. I understand. You're a sixty-year old woman, or you're three hundred pounds, or you're trying to cruise along on the Lake Shore Drive parallel path on some kind of ridiculous mountain bike with tires as wide as my apartment and more shock absorbers than a dune buggy. That's great. Biking is fun. But please, if you're going to be going slow enough that you're being passed by families pushing strollers and empty Miller Lite cans being blown along by the wind, be good enough to stick to the far right of the lane you're in. Far too many of you ride the center line, meaning I've got to go at least to the center of the oncoming traffic lane to avoid clipping you. Often times, this is impossible because there's, you know, oncoming traffic, and so I've got to stop entirely so as not to wreck into you. It's annoying. Cut it out.

2. For those of you that aren't observant, the path along the lake that stretches from approximately 5700 N to freakin' Alabama is marked kind of like those road things you may have seen. If you've gone further north than Ardmore, certainly as you are relegated to one of those mysterious road things at that time. If you're really observant, you'll notice that it's slightly narrower than those road things. The width of the lane is roughly the size of a large green truck that has "Parks and Recreation" on the side of it. The lesson? Stop riding like four abreast. Your frriends are riding with you. Great. But you're blocking up like 70% of the road and it's impossible to pass you if you're going the same direction as I am and it's impossible to get far over enough without running off the road to avoid you if you're coming towards me.

In-line Skaters:

1) You and I are of a kind. We're both using wheeled transport to get us to our destination or for exercise (though seriously I doubt that I'd be doing this if it weren't quicker than the freaking train; more on that later). I've done some inline skating in the past. I'm familiar with the concept. From what I've experienced, I'm not sure you need to make your pushing-off-with-your-skates width the same width as the lane. But that's ok. I can deal with that. When your effective width is one and a half lanes, you're in my way, and that makes me surly.


1) Pay attention, dammit. Don't go bounding across the bikepath without looking. Would you do this on Lake Shore Drive? No, you wouldn't. or at least, you haven't, as evidenced by the thing where you're still alive. Why on earth is that cool just because the vehicles on the road are smaller and less stable?

2) "On the right." or "On your left". Those are things that people commonly shout ahead to warn you that they're coming and they're going to pass you either on your left if you're a normal person or on your right if for some reason you're skipping around on the far left of the path. If you hear this, do not walk into the direction that was indicated. Similarly, don't stop and turn around to look at me. You can look over your shoulder, I promise. And the drastically changing your course in a way counter to the information you've been given just makes it more likely that I have to swerve to miss you because you didn't believe me when I said I was coming up on you.

3) These roads and sidewalks and paths and things have a finite width. Cool that you've got an entourage of thirty goddamn seventeen year olds, but if you could not so much with the all walking side-by-side thing. It's annoying.

4) Leave the garbage there. I'm not going to wreck if I hit it, but I will wreck if you jump in front of me to get it and I have to swerve to avoid hitting you because you're eighty and will snap in two if touched.


1) Don't honk at me. I know I'm slower than a car, and I would be going faster if the roads were actually, you know, paved and if the mirrors on SUVs didn't stick out seven feet from the car. So I know I'm inconveniencing you for thirty seconds. I'll get out of your way as soon as there's somewhere for me to go. But if I'm without an exit and you're still honking at me because you're a prick, I reserve the right to catch up to you at the next light (because you will have to stop in the next two minutes because lights and traffic are freaking nuts) and break your windshield with my bike lock.

2) None of this thing where you play gracious and we do this "You go. No, you go." shit. Either go or don't. If you go, that's fine, but this "I'll move forward three feet then realize there's a cyclist coming at me and stop in the middle of the intersection which helps no one and why is he screaming and waving that bike lock around" has got to stop.

3) If I'm passing you, it means you're going too slow.


1) It takes, as of right now, given where I live, about one hour twenty minutes door-to-door by bus or by the Red Line. The purple line cuts that down to one hour. Riding my bike, it takes about 50 minutes. This is not ok. I'm on a bike, powered by cola and poorly made hamburgers and frozen flavored applesauce. You're a train. You're faster. We settled this in 1840. Act your speed.


1) Why can't you not have flat tires once in a while? Also, please be powered by some kind of motor soon. And actually be enclosed. Have four wheels. The sooner you can be a car, the happier we'll all be.

Also, this appears to be Post Two Hundred. Good for that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

He's a wreckin' machine.

Not him. I mean, also him, but that's not what this story is going to be about.

I haven't updated this garbage since the Truman administration.

To the point, I am continually intending to update, but never quite get around to it. So here we are. First things first, Meadville is in ruins.

And the now-famed photograph.

For those of you who aren't familiar with me, I spent four years of my life in Meadville, Pennsylvania, toiling away at undergrad, getting to know the quiet bald dude that worked the 2 a.m. - Armaggedeon shift at Wal-Mart, enjoying Hank's ice cream, freedom fries from Eddie's Footlong, making massive errors in hot sauce consumption at Compadres and weeping softly in a laboratory. Good times, despite the whole thing where there was nothing to do and the local economy was absolute garbage and everyone in the town hated everyone in the college. So I've got some attachment to the place. Apparently, they've decided that too much of Pelletier library has been hanging about town, stealing the lunch money of the nearby Language houses and intimidating the nearby Observatory-cum-security office/parking permit dispensary. The best way to take out troublesome library bits is, apparently, wrecking ball. Oh. Also, Allegheny's kind of on a big hill. The town of Meadville lays below and those meddlesome kids hang out on the hill with their book learning and their raging keggers. It's such a defining feature of the place that the Jazz House radio show was titled "On the Hill" for the years I was there. I think. Something like that anyway. It made reference to the hill. That's what you need to know.

So they're knocking bits of the library down. Good times. This would work just fine in any other North American city. No complication whatsoever. But this is Meadville. This place isn't doesn't just happen upon a Peebles no one goes to and a Super Buffet that gets to 100 items by including Gummi Worms. It earns it with strangeness. In this case, a confluence of events. First, the aforementioned hill. Second, the fact that they apparently attach wrecking balls to cranes with rope improvised by Bear Grylls out of weeds and snake innards. Third, apparently wrecking balls in Meadville are roughly spherical, rather than shaped like a propane tank, which allows it to roll. If there were, say, a slope. So yes. Cable snaps, ball starts a-rollin', and hilarity is bound to ensue.

But wait, there's more!

Enter Bob Boring, crane operator. Mr. Boring would like to stop the wrecking ball, because of his absolutely correct conclusion that this thing is incredibly dangerous. I have no clue what I would do if I were driving up the road and saw a certain adventurer who's not getting a job at the "Guess my Weight" booth and ball running at me. Probably scream some obscenities and make for the nearest side street tout de suite. See? I'm multilingual. Anyway, Mr. Boring's plan is to throw something in front of the ball, which isn't a terrible idea apparently if what he was throwing was a Ford Taurus. It wasn't. It was bricks. Now, I've already pointed out on this magical land of the internets that the point of a wrecking ball is that its motion is not impeded by freaking bricks. It has occurred to me as I am writing this that the likely source of the bricks Mr. Boring was throwing at the rolling death ball was likely the wall that was being knocked down by the ball, meaning that not only had these specific bricks not-stopped this specific ball once before, but it had gained their power by vanquishing them in battle. So Mr. Boring, despite his noble efforts to save whoever was at the bottom of N. Main from a very real danger, was injured by throwing bricks at a huge rolling deathsphere.

Mr. Deathsphere bounces off of several of the cars parked along N. Main (I almost never parked my car there, incidentally. Science building lot or the Delt house. That was it for me) and screws up the curb (which a KDKA story I don't feel like finding makes a big freaking deal out of) and ends up in the trunk of Mr. Alex Habay, a student at the college, former Gibsonia resident and former owner of at least a minimally operational Ford Taurus. Apparently the trunk isn't built to hold half-ton wrecking balls. Who knew? You can be sure that Ford will fix this oversight on future models.

So there it is. Something mildy goofy for Meadville happens in Meadville, which qualifies as incredibly wacky for everywhere else on the planet, and so Meadville gets some recognition. Some mild injuries occur, but everyone will recover. A Taurus is crushed, but it was probably a few years away from that fate anyway. The Head Shed is unharmed, and so all is well with the world. I can't begin to explain the sheer morale crushing blow that would have been delivered had the Ball of Doom continued its fatal rolling through the town, crushing cars and the baskets of puppies they use as traffic lane demarcations and into some unsuspecting groups of sixteen year olds driving around Diamond Park over and over again.

So there it is. A return to blogging and an explanation of why Meadville is briefly in the news (and with no mention of Sharon Stone, who may or may not have actually originated from Saegertown anyway. The wiki's unclear. She was likely born in Meadville, but in the same sense that I was born in Pittsburgh because that's where the hospital is). I look forward to writing about why the hell I've disappeared for so long, this mess and more in the coming weeks.

I should get some kind of award for making it through that without making a testicle joke.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I am now terrified of gasoline.

Apparently gasoline is really expensive. I don't have a car in Chicago, so I'm somewhat blind to the whole phenomenon. I suppose it probably affects the that the CTA is charging riders, but as I've got the U-Pass through Northwestern which cuts my cost down to essentially nothing and have been biking up every day that it's not downpouring to avoid the mass incompetence of said transit authority, I'm a bit out of the Loop, as it were.

But, anyway, gasoline is expensive. Everyone everywhere in every local media outlet ever lately has been going on and on about this, because "$3.50 for a gallon of gas" is a bit shocking and generates some easy stories. Right now, (the website for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for those of you unfamiliar with it) has got a story about how the high cost of gas isn't affecting Memorial Day travel while citing no real statistics other than "there were some people getting gas last night along the Turnpike, and if the price of gas were in any way affecting travel plans, everyone would be in their basement weeping." Or something like that.

The reason I bring this up is that the picture they use to draw you into the story on the main page is one of the most terrifying things I've ever seen.

I'm sure this guy's a terrific person. He's apparently a veteran's advocate, and was off to participate in something with Rolling Thunder this weekend.

But the picture is shot from the perspective of someone looking into a mirror to see an apparently naked old man creeping up on them from behind.

I'm no press-photographer. But I think I might have been drawn into the story more effectively with something that doesn't give me nightmares.

Then again, I'm blogging about it, so maybe that's their intent. Creep out the kid with the blog that five people read.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


So, I use For those of you not familiar, it's the only way I'm aware of to watch baseball games out of market, and since I no longer live in the market of the team I follow, it's good times. Except that it occasionally just inverts the picture for no apparent reason, and that I live in the market of another team in the Bucs' division, so I'm blacked out whenever they play the Cubs.

What they do, essentially, is simply hook you into a feed of someone who's actually broadcasting it. In the Pirates case, this occasionally means I get the FSN Pittsburgh feed, but as we're terrible, and as FSN doesn't broadcast all of their games, it's often the oppositions video feed. While you can choose who you want to listen to on their radio version of the same service, that option is not available on the video. Sad times. But none of that is really important. What is important is that isn't actually affiliated with anyone broadcasting the games, and so they're not going to play the commercials. Instead, they shove a screensaver up. Which is fine. The first week, they used the relatively tame " logo bouncing around everywhere like we're playing Break-Out, but nothing ever breaks" theme. That was ok, except that they played the Break-Out sound effects, so lots of boops and beeps. Irritating. They moved to the same visual with "generic ballpark noise", then a static image of the logo with the same generic ballpark noise. So try to imagine what was going through my mind when I hear the same generic noise, click over to the video feed, and see this.

What Mace Windu, someone from the Bucks, a cat and a pencil sharpener have to do with baseball I have no idea. Disturbingly, the image isn't quite still, and the pencil sort of vibrates in the sharpener. It's very odd and I think I need to go somewhere far away from it for a while.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Train Ride

So I tried to keep pretty good tabs on what was going on during my trip home. It turns out that the guy's column was kind of boring because riding the train is a pretty pedestrian activity. Still, though, this might give you a decent picture as far as what happens on a typical trip home for me.

It seemed quicker than usual, probably because I was scribbling on a notepad furiously throughout. I ended up using Post-Its, mostly because it was a choice between those and a legal pad. And constantly checking my phone for the times that I've put down. We'll see.

1:01 AM-Left Pancoe Life Sciences Buiding. I'm the last one out, so I shut down everything and locked the doors inside the lab. Flipped on a podcast of On Point, this week's "Week in Review" thing. Lots of talk about the Democratic Debate. As I didn't see it, I don't really know how much of what they said was actually insightful. But whatever. I'm heading to Davis, which is not the closest stop. The closest is Noyes (and is about 15 minutes worth of walking from Pancoe). Foster's about as far. Davis, however, is a much nicer station, in that there's not big holes in the roof. It's not raining currently, but it was earlier in the day, and so there's bound to be small ponds at Noyes and Foster. Plus, I could use the walk.

1:09am- Off campus. The academic part of it, at least. Left past the Business school.

1:15 AM- Downtown Evanston. Past the Tower. I've seen a total of four people so far on the walk here, which is a bit strange. The answer to "where the hell is everyone, it's 1am on a Friday on a college campus" reveals itself. They're all at Burger King. All of them. Eight thousand undergrads. It's only slightly less full than the first day of the spring quarter, when it seemed that everyone had deeply missed the Evanston Burger King for the entirety of spring break.

1:22 AM- Arrived at Davis station. Northbound train arrived and departed on time. This is the real reason I think I felt like doing this. Just to see how long I was actually on the train. There was, according to the schedule, last a train here at 1:12 and one should be by at 1:27. If I've somehow missed that, there should be one at 1:42. We'll see which of these shows up. Five people were on the platform when I showed up. Two left. There's a new set of stairs that lead onto the tracks from the platform (behind a gate). I have absolutely no clue what color they are. The lighting is this really dull orange, so I have no idea.

1:29 AM-"Attention Customers: An inbound train, toward the Loop, will be arriving shortly"

1:32 AM-Victory! A train! The car I got on was empty, had an pretty neutral smell for this time of night and had a bunch of garbage from Dunkin' Donuts strewn about. Some ads about a radio station, a floral service, and why you should give your seat up for people.

1:33 AM-Passed Dempster at a pretty good clip without stopping. There was no one on the platform, but I'm sure if I were going to Dempster, I'd be really angry.

1:34 AM-Main Street. We stopped, so that's new. There are no lights on on Chicago Ave. I'm glad I'm not riding my bike.

1:38 AM- We're pulling into Howard. Looks like I'm not going to ride my bike in tomorrow. They're tearing up the southbound platform, and that means delays. Train operator's trying to be helpful about what's going on, but he's doing so by repeating everything over and over and not shutting the hell up. Actually got to the platform at 1:41.

1:45 AM- Departed Howard. There was some 20 year old kid at Howard sleeping against a garbage can with headphones on, six other people on the train, four of them conscious, and I'm switching to listening to actual music. Putting this thing on shuffle, because I never do that and it might make up for the fact that this is a really boring experiment.

First song: December 4th-Jay Z from The Black Album. Works for me.

1:49. There's some guy who keeps getting up and sitting back down and looking nervously out the window. We get to Morse, and a few people actually get on this thing. About half the people I see get on are wearing thick winter coats, which is surprising on in that it's like 48 degrees. It's not cold. Next song. Stagger Lee-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds off of Murder Ballads. Awesome.

1:50 AM- Loyola. Two people get on, then the driver has to open the doors again to let on the other person that was on the platform the whole time, but apparently forgot that if you want to actually travel south on the train, you need to board it at some point. She's screaming into a cell phone. As we pull away, there's some guys running up the stairs and realizing that they've just missed the train. That's been me pretty much every time I try to board at Loyola. We pass the hostel on the way to the next stop, my old stop, Granville. It's not really interesting except in that there's a guy who walks up and down Broadway just north and south of Devon asking for money from passers-by and gives the excuse that he needs $6 to stay at the hostel. I have no idea if this is true or not. I've seen him often enough to think that it's probably not. He holds the distinction of being the only person to ask me for money on the sidewalk who stopped me while I was riding my bike by just standing right the hell in front of me.

1:55 AM- Thorndale. I'd occasionally use this stop when I lived at my old place, but didn't like to during the summer or when it was raining. This is because the roof just barely exists, such that if it rains, there's no real cover. The summer bit is because the rotting wood of the roof is apparently a haven for innummerable spiders. And I'm not fond of them. New song: Pez King-Less than Jake from Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand. Interesting switch.

1:59 AM- Lawrence. Northbound train sitting at the station is packed. Mine might be as well, but I took the front car which tends usually to be a bit less crowded, and so can't tell. New song: Quatre Parishe-Dr. John from N'awlinz: Dis, Dat, or D'udda. Again, a really abrupt switch.

2:01 AM- Another Northbound train goes by, also packed. Clearly I missed something that was going on downtown tonight. The only thing with any lights on around here is the Uptown Tattoo Factory. I'm not a big fan of the immediate area around the Uptown stops, but I haven't had any real experience in the neighborhood and don't want to write it off without that experience. New song: Political Science-Randy Newman from whatever the hell album I've got on here. Another northbound train passes. I have a bit of trouble keeping the iPod, which I need out in the event I don't know what one of the songs is (like "Pez King", which I haven't heard in forever) balanced on my leg. Some guy in a hat, a sweatshirt and a windbreaker (who's got both hoods on) starts looking at me funny. I imagine I look a bit off.

2:03 AM- Sheridan. Which they should just call Irving Park, because even though the station goes over Sheridan, that's a north-south street and so telling you you're getting off "on Sheridan" on a train that generally runs parallel to it is less useful than telling you the name of a street that actually tells you how far north you are. New song: Keep Him Away-The Slackers from Live at Ernesto's. Hearing a live track out of nowhere is odd, especially as the track starts with an explanation of the previous track on the album.

2:05 AM- Addison. Bar patrons board.

2:07 AM- Stop awaiting signal clearance. New song: Fertile Crescent-Bad Religion from Generator, which I really ought to listen to more. It's got some good tracks on it.

2:09 AM- Belmont. Another new song, The Answer-Bad Religion also off of Generator. Clearly my iPod is psychic and will be appearing on talk shows soon.

2:11 AM- Fullerton. So, you know how I mentioned that I was balancing things on my leg? I was doing that by propping my left leg up on my right knee. As a result, my leg is completely asleep. I limp off the train, which actually doesn't look that odd compared to the twenty-five college kids that stumble off of the other cars. I'm not that old, and I can't figure out why these guys look like they're twelve. Maybe they are. But they're giving off that "drunk freshman" vibe. They're in about two groups (I think this is why I dislike college kids on the El. They travel in freaking packs.), the latter of which is having much more trouble navigating things. When we all get to the stairs, most of them make it down ok, but one girl in the back has apparently forgotten how to use them. She seems kind of afraid, but mostly frustrated that she can't get her enormous chunky heel to go through the first step so that she can use the next. All of her friends stop to look, but not to help. I'm not actually sure if they got her down from there. New song: All You Need Is Love-The Beatles from Magical Mystery Tour. That's a swing and a half in terms of musical styles.

From here, there's just the walk home, which took a bit longer as I stopped to look at a beat up car that was parked next to the McDonalds at Lincoln and Fullerton with its doors open, a police car right behind it with lights going like mad and a kid in an orange striped shirt with his hands behind his back. I don't know what the hell was going on. Either way, the walk home was pretty uneventful except for passing a few more packs of college kids, listening to Last Dead Mouse-Mighty Mighty BossTones from Don't Know How to Party. I really like that album as well, by the way, and only purchased it recently. It's much closer to the whole ska-core thing they were doing on Devil's Night Out and a far cry from the more popular Let's Face It, but it's got a whole lot going for it. If you like Dickie Barrett's voice, that is. Following that, Burn On-Randy Newman from Sail Away, which is the album that Political Science was on earlier, incidentally. I don't know why I keep getting hits from the same albums out of a thousand or so songs. Skipped ahead to Fever-Rhymefest off of last year's Blue Collar which is a really solid record. I would like to claim that I knew enough about Rhymefest to know to buy it outright, but it was pretty much a five minute interview clip I heard (on NPR, no less) and the fact that the final track of the album is a version of "Build Me Up, Buttercup" done by Rhymefest and Ol' Dirty Bastard recorded when, well, he was alive. The last bit of the walk consisted of Materialist-Bad Religion from The Process of Belief, which I repurchased recently after realizing that whie I really like that album, I lost it something like four years ago. Shame. Arrived at my building's entrance at 2:28 AM (but not before noticing that of the four cars at the intersection, there was a total of one hubcap, and the shaky ride up the "fixed" elevator to the tune of Dem Bones from Alice in Chains Dirt.

So yeah. That was probably boring and really long, but that's kind of what I do around here. I'm going to bed.

More things

Isn't this guy kind of terrifying? I mean, I suppose you might want that in a mascot, but I'm not so sure about this whole thing. I suppose as long as it's not cheerleaders. Why am I ok with the Pirate Parrot, but this guy's creepy?

Actually, no. Mascots aren't supposed to be terrifying, except for Youppi. Children are supposed to like them. Children tend not to like things that are going to eat them, as Bert's uncle might do at some point. Whatever. He's still orders of magnitude better than Jolly Roger.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sticks, Hawking, El blogging

You know what's awesome?

Consistent posting.

In lieu of that, you know what's awesome?

Floating Stephen Hawking. Dr. Hawking flew with a company that does the whole parabolic flight thing to simulate weightlessnes and apparently had a really good time. Good. If you revolutionize an area of physics, you should get to do whatever you want, basically. His eventual goal is to actually make it into orbit, which would also be pretty amazing. There have been concerns about how being in orbit might affect him considering his condition, and for how much I'd like him to be able to get there, how bad would it be if we ended up trying to send the smartest guy into space and accidentally killing him?

Other than that, it's really late here. I'd like to go home. I've got to take a few more measurements. And so I'm probably not in the most lucid state. But even now, there are some things I think I'll tend to pick up. On the way to go grab another one of my samples to take an aliquot that I can dilute and analyze, I nearly reached the door before NPR reminded me that it's NPR. And again, I'm often surprised when people don't listen to NPR more. Most of it's fascinating, there's some really off-beat stuff and I really enjoy it. Then, they say things like what I heard when I was leaving, apparently discussing a structure in an arboretum, and I'm reminded of what people must hear when they tune into this.

"It had a certain kind of grandeur that you wouldn't expect with sticks."

I'm just freaking stunned. Here's the piece. It's nothing stunning. Just that one sentence. Oh, and the reporter sounds like he's being punished for something when he's signing off.

There was a piece in some garbage Lakeview publication a long time ago that Jenna and I found while eating at a pretty good Hawaiian BBQ place down the road. I didn't really like how it was done. It seemed like something that was being written with the intention of being this big freaking thing, then failed. It just sounded kind of forced. My favorite part of it, actually, is when he gets afraid of all the black people at the late, late hour of 6:30pm and puts away his laptop. I think I'm going to try the same thing tonight, and there are a few reasons I think it will work. First, it's going to be about 1:30am when I get out of here, and I think the El is probably more interesting at that time than at rush hour. It's also Friday, meaning I'll be the only sober person on the train. Maybe the driver. We'll see.* I'm going to try to avoid commenting on the size of buildings in Edgewater as opposed to those in Uptown. Unfortunately, I'm going to do it with a pen and pad because, frankly, my laptop is locked to my desk and I'm not sure where the key is. Also, most of my observations will probably be colored slightly by the fact that I have the worst luck imaginable with the CTA and so hate them. And it'll still probably be really lame, but as my readership currently exists of six of you and I post twice a month anymore, I figure that in this case, any content is a bit better than really old posts sitting here forever.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm Boxes

While I'll likely never be important enough to warrant an actual page on Wikipedia barring something massively embarrassing, I occassionally edit. Mostly unimportant articles on podcasts, sports franchises and fraternities. I did intend to change the values on some of the chemistry pages while I was TAing as an attempt at teaching the undergrads who were in my class that they should check Wikipedia's sources, but I never did actually get around to it. Still, as a very occasional Wikipedian, having an account brings with it a userpage. Unfortunately, as with many profile-type pages, it appeared to demand that I actually come up with a coherent article about myself. Most of you know that I'm not very good at coherence. Luckily, userboxes exist and require very little in the way of design, which is good. Because I suck at design. I no longer need to find a way to work into an article the fact that I, too, enjoyed the Big Lebowski and drink water and know that 0.999~=1. These little things can do it for me. And so, direct from Wikipedia, my userpage.

In the process of filling those out, I took the Political Compass test again. I think this is the first time I've ever actually been on the right of center on the economic axis, though I'm still pretty much within "centrist" on that, as far as I can tell. Unsurprisingly, I'm about as wacky left as you can get on the Libertarian-Authoritarian axis. If you take it, or have taken it in the past, let me know where you are.

Monday, March 26, 2007


What the hell is going on. It's 70 degrees outside. It was 80 earlier today. It was approximately twenty below absolute zero two weeks ago. By my calculations, Lake Michigan will be boiling within the hour. I would care, but I just bought some CDs (Willie Nelson and Bad Religion) and will be enjoying those without actually looking at the melting sidewalks.

Two things:

I was polled yesterday. First, a bit of background. Our phone line sort of comes with the fact that we pay for an internet connection through AT&T. There are like three people that know the number and if those people want to get in touch with us, there are better ways. Cell phones, primarily, though I tend to forget to charge mine for months on end. It happens. The only calls we get on this thing are from telemarketers, wrong numbers, lost food delivery and creditors for some guy named "Raymond", though they've stopped calling for the most part after we started informing them that Raymond has apparently died (we were informed by a creditor looking for the family of "the Late Raymond X". Hm.) Anyway, someone from Gallup called yesterday and because blogging is essentially an enormously verbose way to have one's views out there, I agreed. Thinking back on it, it would have been more hilarious to give completely ridiculous answers that in no way even approximated my politics and which weren't even internally consistent, but alas, I answered pretty honestly. Mostly, the survey addressed the War, the 2008 elections and, oddly, baseball. I told them I was "as excited" for the upcoming season.

Everyone else in the world has already commented on this study (the driver of the #22 bus handed me his thoughts in a three page pamphlet entitled "Staring at your Crotch: A Primer"), but what the hell. I might as well. Something that goes by the name "Digital Storytelling Effects Lab", whose last job was to come up with a way to simulate a cage-match between Old Mother Hubbard and the Little Old Lady who Lived in a Shoe* has developed a technology for tracking eyemovement across a monitor. The technology would allow people to design articles more effectively, so that information can be conveyed such that the user remembers it. Apparently, people respond pretty well to bullets, sub-headlines and more tightly written articles. All well and good. The study also presented subjects with photographs to gauge where individuals tend to focus their attention. Which leads to this picture.

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That, if you couldn't tell because there's a big red blotch over his face and his jersey's a bit obscured, is George Brett. As you can see, there is a bit of a difference between where men look and where women look. Apparently, the effect holds true with pictuers of dogs from the American Kennel Club site, which is pretty freaking scary. But let's think about this. Perhaps it's some sort of competition reaction, attempting to size up threats by staring at their package. Maybe a "preparation for fight" mechanism, along the lines of "Ok, if I have to take down this guy with the baseball bat, I should probably go for his face. If that fails, kick him in the nuts." Perhaps because male genitalia is hilarious. Perhaps the topic of airport security has been made to impact, fundamentally, the functioning of the male brain.

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Harry Shearer is creeped out.

The implications could be immense. Like George Brett's package.

I would like to see a repetition of the study with a picture of a woman to see where both men and women tend to look. It would be interesting to see if a similar trend exists in women looking at women and where men would tend to concentrate.

This picture isn't notable because guys are staring at Jose Lima's crotch. Just a guess.

Anyway, enough of that. You know what I'd like right now? Some salt-and-vinegar chips. Man those things are good.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


There's not much in the news right now I feel compelled enough about to post about and combined with research, I've not got too much to say about any specific topic at the moment. I wish someone would do my taxes for me, I guess. But whatever. I went for a walk today while Jenna was asleep (recovering from her St. Patrick's Day four hour Chicago Transit Authority Extravaganza, which I'm sure you'll be able to read about soon on her blog). I took some pictures, and despite the fact that that's a pretty lame premise for a blog, I'm going to post them. Perhaps with some commentary.

Here we go.

The John Hancock Tower from about four blocks south of my apartment. Nothing too much to say about this. It's a nice, tall building. That's all.
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I don't know what the hell this is.
Taken a bit south of where I took the first one. It's remarkably obvious that this statue is a tribute to something. Something nose-like. With bits of a cage around it. I'm sure it's very profound. Either way, it's nice that we can shape metal like that.
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Vents are important, probably.
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Most of you who haven't lived here probably know Chicago for its politics, its related moniker "Windy City", its proud sports tradition, the ineptitude of certain teams to actually be good enough to justify its sports tradition, its cuisine and its, um, airports. Which are busy. But you're missing the quintessential Chicago characteristic; its perserverance in the face of difficulty. This is most often manifested in response to blizzards, political corruption and sports teams just outright blowing. A good example of this is this bike. This, as you can plainly see, is incredibly difficult to ride, but they ride them all over this town. Don't let a lack of handlebars, wheels or a seat get in your way, just get on the bike and get where you need to be. It's really inspiring.

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Seriously, though, lock up your bikes with more than one lock. Chaining the frame to a post doesn't work.

Moody Church. It's apparently an evangelical, non-denominational church. I feel like I've heard of this thing recently. Either way, their building looks pretty cool.
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I bet this thing is used all the time.
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The water tower. Not the Center for Jewish Life, which I think is being built where I took that picture. I'm sure that actually will be used all the time, whereas the water tower comment was sarcasm. I think that's probably outdated.

Passenger jets fly really freaking low over the city. Lower than I thought it might be, anyway.
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Taken solely because there's a forum member on a forum I moderate named Cass. I will say, without question, that I will never stay here.

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Some of you may know that St. Patrick's Day means that the Chicago River is going to be dyed green with a fluorescein dye. It doesn't look like that's what's going on here from the photos. It looked more green to me when I was actually there at it, but I can't tell if that wasn't just pollution (other than the dye) and I was seeing what I wanted to. If this is just pollution, they're at least some nice pictures of the Chicago River, I guess. Still, pretty awesome that they dye it green in addition to the fact that they built the third largest city in the United States around it and make it flow backwards.

Screw nature, man.
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I don't quite recall what this building is. But it looks incredibly tall when you're below South Wacker Drive on the shore of the river.
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That's enough of that.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I'm complaining about my hand because I wasn't at the Battle of Thermoplyae

Wow. Being immobilized in a cast for a month is not fun. If you can avoid it, do so. My cast is now gone and the skin on my hand is absolutely horrifying. It's cracking and coming off. Bits of me keep coming off. It's pretty much the most awesome thing ever. I still have some pain in my left hand and it's difficult to actually make a fist, but I'm really happy to be out of that damned thing. Still, I haven't written a post in a month and It's about damn time I do.

I've just finished my last measurement for the day, and so I'll be leaving very soon to go home. I'll write more later. For now, a simple review.

Go see 300. But not at a puny, insignificant standard movie theater. Go find an IMAX theater somewhere in your area. If there are none where you are, drive until you find one. You'll be able to tell because you'll be able to see the abs in this movie for about four miles at 60 mph. I don't know if I could name the last movie that made me think "Hm. I should do some sit-ups." There's been criticism that there are distinct racist undertones and criticism of the depiction of Xerxes I as an eight-foot tall androgyne played by Paulo from Lost. Those are both arguably valid. I can see how you can say that about this film. But then you realize you're sitting in a room with a screen the size of a barn and watching a very convincing adaptation of Frank Miller's work and you forget about that. Because it's freaking awesome. Yes, there are also those who say it's too homoerotic, refering to the fact that every man above twenty but below eighty from Sparta is ripped and wears Speedos at all time.

Firstly, who cares if it is? Secondly, screw them. It's sweet. Go see it on the side of an office building.

Also, Zach Snyder's film has made it so that, in my mascot bracket, Michigan State comes really close to winning it all.

I'd like to point out to those of you that are Jenna that Brian Eno is listed on Wikipedia in the category "Famous Androgynes."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I'd like to post

But unfortunately, I tripped on the way back from lunch today and broke my freaking hand. Not the whole thing, really. Just this bad mamma-jamma.

Expected heal time: Four Weeks

I may try, as annoying as videoblogging is, to get a camera to do just that because typing is a pain right now.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Everything is free.

So the method seems to be that I neglect this thing for about a month in the name of actually enjoying a short time off, then getting back to work and trying to make research occur, then feel guilty about it for a week while still ignoring it, then getting home at two in the morning from a whole bunch of work and trainriding and deciding to write because that's the only way I'm going to be able to occupy the time between now and when I fall asleep that doesn't involve walking downtown to the CTA headquarters and pounding my head into the side of the building in frustration.

So there's that.

Actually, on the CTA front, I really don't have much to complain about anymore, as I'm paying basically nothing. Northwestern recently got the UPass for students of The Graduate School (TGS), which allows unlimited use of CTA systems for eighty or so dollars until mid-June, and then again from August until the end of the year. That's $160 for probably about ten months of the year. If I'm using it for 9.5 of those months, riding it once a day, I'm paying about a third of a dollar every time I use it. Not that I wouldn't gladly pay more if it showed up on time, but since it's basically free, I don't think I can complain about that so much anymore. Perhaps I will continue that under the argument that I can't opt out of the program. Not that I'd want to.

I have finally joined the billions upon billions of people that have an iPod and so have subscribed to every podcast ever. Not that I couldn't have subscribed before, but my previous mp3 player had this thing where the headphone jack was royally screwed up (possibly because I dropped it onto the tracks at the Granville station) and so it wasn't incredibly good for listening, and listening to radio going to and from the train was a sketchy proposition at best (I enjoy talk radio, and so had an evening assortment of Tom Leykis, Bill O'Reilly and Loveline that I could get to come in clearly on the FM radios on my phone, old mp3 player and shoe. If someone can give me an adequate, reasoned explanation for why in the hell Bill O'Reilly is on after a guy who tries to orchestrate widespread flashing on highways and and before a show about the all too common problem of what to do when your genitals are in a toaster, I'd love to hear it. It probably, actually, says something very profound and outrageously hilarious about our culture that I'm just not getting. Either way, I've subscribed to the following (that I will admit to on a blog that's read by six people tops)

Mike and Mike in the Morning (best clips collected into 1/2 hour)
News Hour with Jim Lehrer
Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!
Penn Radio
Point of Inquiry
Slate Explainer

I've more or less stopped listening to (and stopped updating) Sportscenter (as I usually check ESPN at some point and even without cable can keep up with anything that would tell me) and Slate Explainer because, while often fascinating, the woman who does it has the most bizarre accent ever and it sounds like she's trying to enunciate way too clearly and, really, I can read the actual print article faster than it would take me to listen to the five minute podcast. Other than those, I'd recommend them, if you're the kind of person that might think you'd gain anything by listening to what I had to say.

I'm very tired and should be getting up in a few hours to head back into work, so I'll stop here. No fascinating commentary on the events of the day for this post, though I'll try to do this more regularly. Really.


EDIT: Oh, one thing. It's been covered by everyone else much better than I can hope to (mostly because this blog isn't devoted to sports, I'm relatively dumb and tired and I'm late to the game) but I'd like to give a + to the Gonzalez/LaRoche trade. I'd rather have seen it happen without giving up one of the few good prospects in the Pirates system, but that hardly seems enough reason to not be happy that Littlefield is a) actually doing something that might help and b) not in a coma.

How about that.