Halloween

Estimating how much candy to buy is one of the arts I’ve never mastered. I always have way too much or way too little, but never close to what I need. Add to that, I never know if I’m giving out too much or too little. It would be nice if you could get pre-orders on this stuff, but that might be a lot to ask. Oh well. I just had a good looking Buzz Lightyear at the door. I also had what I swear was a princess in a white dress with an eyepatch. It was kind of cool. It made me wonder if maybe the kid just wears an eyepatch or if it was some kind of statement.

Tribe.net

I’ve been playing with Tribe.net for almost 3 weeks now, and I really like it. I’ve slowly been inviting friends to it, creating and joining tribes and getting used to it. It conceivably could be a substitute for those mass mailings or personal mailing lists. We once had one with 60 people on it, and we’d send itineraries, holiday wishes, change of addresses to it, etc. With tribes,if all your friends were on it, you could do the same thing by posting an announcement and restricting it to only the people within 0 or 1 degree of you. It would be easy to manage your itineraries, keep up with people, and arrange functions and meetups. It’s only as good as your network, though. The first week, when my network was 3 people it wasn’t much fun. Now that I have 9 direct friends (8 of whom I have known for at least 5 years, only one I met through Tribe) and a sizable network, it is much more fun. Anyone who wants to join the WREK tribe or the Chuck Palahniuk tribe is welcome to come and join our party.

It’s a Beautiful Day

Today, the weather in Evanston is gorgeous. I’d have loved to bike into downtown for lunch, hang out at Borders with laptop and generally kill some time working away from the house for a while. Unfortunately, I’m stuck at home waiting on a furniture truck. If they get here soon, I might still do that but they have till 4 PM in their window. I hope the weather holds out and maybe I’ll do this tomorrow. This being my first autumn and winter in the area, I don’t know what to expect but I’m not taking nice weather in October and November for granted.

Radiolover

I do believe I’m impulse buying a program for my Mac. It is called RadioLover. This is a pretty good looking MP3 stream recorder. It supposedly has the ability to break up by songs, but I’m looking for it as a scheduled recorder for shows I like. Used that way, it can be almost TiVo-esque but for streamed radio. By using the information from PublicRadioFan I was able to find a list of stations that carry World Cafe, Sound and Spirit and other shows I like but either don’t get around here or don’t know when they are on or forget to listen to. Like TiVo, I want a system where I don’t have to remember things. I’m not so good at that and the machines are very good at that, so let’s let them do that work.

Hal Clement, RIP

I looked at Kathryn Cramer’s blog only to find the sad news that science fiction writer Hal Clement (Harry Stubbs was his real name) has passed away. He was probably the SF writer who I most wanted to meet one day, and now he is gone. As a kid, I loved his books. I still have flashes of images from Mission of Gravity now and then. When I had my first publication credit in Catherine Asaro’s Mindsparks my article was adjacent to a Clement one and I was so excited about that. Towards the end of the run of Reality Break I wanted to interview him, but I didn’t pursue it and then the moment passed.

Goodbye fine sir, may your wonderful books be proudly read for generations uncountable.

iTunes Now_Playing

I have two different copies of WinAmp set up to ping this weblog with my current plays – home and work (which was more of a distinction when they weren’t both in my house.) Now I’ve added the iTunes on the home Mac to the party, by adding the iTunes Trackback script to my system. Nice, huh? This script, even having to edit the URL in Script Editor, is much simpler to deal with than the DoSomething plugin for WinAmp which involves installing, configuring, farting around with, etc. On my work system, it refused to take my configuration of where to put the result file, defaulting to c:\ no matter what, a directory that I didn’t have write access to. Every single time I restarted WinAmp I’d have to reconfigure that if I wanted the plugin to work. It really sucked. This took 15 seconds of configuration and away it went. I really like that.

Continental Drifters

Band of the Day! This time it is a band we used to see frequently in Louisiana, the Continental Drifters. They don’t have any songs easily downloadable, but they do have every track off every album available to stream in reasonable sounding RealAudio so I’ll give them a pass on that. I’ve been listening to their album Vermilion which I bought on Saturday and absolutely love. The whole album is great, but the two standout songs on it for me are “I Want to Learn to Waltz With You”, an oddly touching song of just wanting to be close and and “Drifters”, another oddly touching song of being connected. The chorus really grabs me

We are all drifters
Singers and sisters
Brothers and lovers and mothers and confidantes
We were born alone
We’re alone when we’re gone
So while we’re here, we might as well just sing along

I’m not sure why but that really moves me. Vicki Peterson (of the now newly reunited Bangles) and Susan Cowsill (of the, um, Cowsills) sing most of the songs, with Peter Holsapple (dBs, REM). It’s all good stuff. I miss the days of being able to see them at the Grant Street Dance Hall in Lafayette every month or two.

Psyche

In one of those unpleasant moments, I woke up today and did all my morning rituals. I fed the dog, let her out, checked my email. For a little bit I was trying to decide whether to stay up or go back to bed and then I realized – it’s not Saturday, it’s Tuesday! Holy crap, I have to work. When I woke up, I was sure it was the weekend. I guess taking that unpleasant and busy trip made it feel like I never had one, so my subconscious was trying to make it up. What a drag, I was this close to crawling back under the covers.

Home Again

The ordeal that was this trip is now over and I’m back in Evanston. I feel less guilty about not talking to Atlanta friends, because there just wasn’t a whole lot of slack in there. I barely had time to do what I needed to, much less also being social and having fun. I had two hitches that really surprised me this morning.

One – you can’t check out of a Homestead Suites at 5:30 AM – their office is closed from 9 PM to 6:30 AM. You are supposed to arrange for early checkout 24 hours in advance. I found this out, of course, at 5:30 when I needed to be heading to the airport. I had never heard of such a thing and didn’t check this out because I had no concept that the office wasn’t open. Even the pissiest Super 8 can handle this.

Two – although I parked right under a sign in the O’Hare long term lot that said “G1”, getting on the bus labeled “G lot” doesn’t take you there. I was on Aisle G1 of Lot E. How the fuck does this make any sense? Why reuse the section numbers? Why not have section G1 in this lot, and start with H1 across the street? Why does every single lot need an A1 section? That’s crazy.

Now I’m home, exhausted from lack of sleep and the standard stress of modern air travel, and snarky emails from work are pissing me off. Maybe taking my wife to a lunch date at the Carmen’s pizza buffet will get me back on track.

The Fish Float to the Top

I can’t say I take a whole lot of joy in the Marlin victory last night, but as they are The Team That Isn’t the Yankees, I’ll take what I can get. I saw the end of a game sitting in an Applebees in Smyrna GA and paused just long enough to see my favorite post-season image – Derek Jeter with his upper lip quivering.

As a Braves fan, this is where it gets embarrasing. With a string of 12 straight division championships, winning only the one World Series is kind of bad. To have a team that didn’t even exist at the beginning of that run win two in six years, that makes it that much worse.

Atlanta Pt 3

I’ve met with the realtor, I’ve cleaned out the crawlspace and thrown away everything that really needs it. I’ve gathered up all the stuff to take back to Evanston and now I just need to figure out how to transport it. I might see if I can box it up and check it, or possibly ship it out from Hartsfield. Since the plane leaves at 8 AM, that might be an issue. Maybe the PO down there opens at 6 AM. The main Atlanta one in Hapeville has weird, heroic hours.

It’s weird how sometimes I feel like the same idiot screwup that I was when I was 14 (and we all were, I suspect) and sometimes I feel like a highly comptent and responsible adult. This trip has had some of each. For an example of the former, doing my walkthrough of the house I found the last load of clothes I did still in the dryer. I was wondering why I seemed to have so few pairs of shorts. For an example of the latter, since my realtor meeting was the morning after the time change and I was not 100% sure he wouldn’t have slipped up I got here an hour early and waited for him. If he screwed up, I didn’t want him waiting on me even though it wouldn’t have been my fault. Weird, but that’s just how it goes.

Atlanta Pt 2

I need to leave for the airport in 30 minutes, and yet I’m still foot dragging. Man, do I not want to make this trip. Everything about it just feels like a superdrag. I just want to crawl back in bed.

Atlanta

I’m flying back to Atlanta tomorrow for a hit and run trip, mainly to check on the house and to grab a couple of things I had to leave behind because they didn’t fit in the car during the great exodus. I’m kind of depressed and slack about it. You’d think that a weekend back would be fun and I could make something out of it, see my friends, etc. In fact, I’ve done nothing, talked to no one. I don’t really want to go, but I must to check on the house, meet with a realtor and do responsible grownup stuff. I’m staying through Monday and taking the very first flight out that morning, and should be home by 9 AM in order to start my workday.

I’m not sure why I’ve been such a foot dragger about it all. I just don’t know what’s wrong with me. I feel like very little good came of the last stint in Atlanta and going back holds nothing good for me. I wish our house would just sell so we could cut ties, forget about the place and move on. I want it out of my life.

Sara Paretsky on the Patriot Act

Mystery author Sara Paretsky has on her webpage the text of a speech she gave on the Patriot Act. An excerpt:

We have today a government that mixes silence with lies.

We have a government that has by fiat sealed presidential papers from public view. We have a government that will not reveal the names of the people who created America’s energy policy — your policy and mine — because they claim that naming their advisors will undermine national security. We have a government that is trying to set up a Soviet style system of citizens spying and reporting on each other — whose first consequence was to shut down the Interstate highway to trap three medical students.

We have a government that in the past winter tapped the home phones and e-mails of UN delegates from Chile, Mexico, Pakistan and Cameroon, to see how they might vote in the UN on invading Iraq.

We have a government that is setting up an office called Information Operations, designed to plant false stories in foreign news outlets to help sway world opinion in favor of its actions. This operation was shot down a year ago and Donald Rumsfeld promised it was gone for good. It’s back now under a new name, with a promise of $250 million in funding from Illinois’s own representative Henry Hyde.

We have a government that instituted a Global Gag Rule, forbidding foreign governments to discuss abortion with their own citizens – a rule, by the way, which directly caused the death of 9500 women and 154,000 infants in third world countries in the two years since the Gag rule was implemented.

We have a government that released forged documents to make its case that Iraq has nuclear weapons.

We have a government that has ordered libraries to destroy a whole series of public reports that it doesn’t want the public to read.

And we have a U.S. press is acquiescing easily with the government’s desire for silence in all these arenas.

Wacky Packages Icons

For you Mac OS X using Gen X-ers such as myself, here’s a treat. This brilliant bastard has created bunch of icons from the Wacky Packages stickers. I still own furniture that has these things stuck to it from when I was eight years old. What is there to say but “right on!” I can hear “Lolly Lolly Lolly get your adverbs here” as I look at them. Makes me want to go down to the rumpus room to watch the Shazam and Isis Hour.

Waypath

Every so often, I’ll have a window open tailing my apache logs for this weblogs’ server and notice something going nuts. This morning, I saw umpty hundreds hits from the “Waypath Scout v2 (beta)” user agent, all from the same IP address. It was making so many requests in a short period of time that I added its IP to my Deny list. I think 70 in 4 minutes is too many, don’t you? I see that they have some kind of weblog searching service but they really need a lesson in robot etiquette in the worst way. Not a good way to enter the field, friends. I imagine you’ll run across this one day (although not from your own service!) and I left you a feedback on your site. Leave me a writeback if you cleaned up your act and I’ll unblock you.

Happy Mole Day

Today is National Mole Day, celebrated from 6:02 AM to 6:02 PM on 10/23. Avogadro’s number, you know. This day was created to foster interest in chemistry, and as a former chemist myself, I pass it along to you. The website also includes some silly pleges to the mole such as:

I pledge allegiance to the mole, and to the science from which it comes, one SI unit, extremely divisible, with micromoles and millimoles for all.

Studs Terkel in the Onion

There is an interview in the Onion with the great Studs Terkel. I remember reading bits of Working in my grandmother’s house as a kid and being amazed at how fascinating ordinary people’s stories could be. Later on, I watched in fascination as those interviews were turned into dramatic monologues for PBS. In my entire career as an interviewer, I have this goal to be 1% of the interviewer that Mr. Terkel is.