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Met with some folks at WREK today to hand off my responsibilities
as tender of the music robot. As of the end of the month, I am a
freelance on-demand developer for them and a listener. My days of high
involvement are pretty much over.

When I lived in Portland they were between attempts at the yellow bike
program. Interestingly enough, they are also doing the same thing in
the city of Decatur. It wouldn’t
work a lot of places, and not many places in this area. Decatur is one
of the few where it makes sense. People lean towards green politics,
and there is a dense enough city core that there is a need to bike
from place to place. I’m curious how well it will work, and for how
long. The Portland experiment suffered from bike attrition. I only saw
two of them while I was there, one in operation in a stand and one
abandoned down by the river. It would have been nice to have them
around when I was working there. For a while I brought my bike with me
on the bus every day, and I rode it from place to place. The day I
left work at lunchtime to ride my bike to the comic book store and to
play Galaga and Robotron at the retrocade, I felt like I was 14 again.

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This morning as I was getting ready for work, I heard in the course of
about 90 seconds that Jimmy Carter had won the Nobel Peace Prize and
that there was an accident at Jimmy Carter Boulevard that was backing
up I-85. About 10 years ago, we lived in Smithville GA while I worked
for Merck in Albany. At that point, we were about 15 miles from
Plains in one direction and Americus in another. We always kind of
meant to visit Plains and the Carter Museum, but we never did. We have
visited the Carter Center here in town. It’s in a great spot, about
half a mile from downtown and the Little Five Points/ Virginia
Highlands area. There were gardens and libraries and lots of peaceful
spots. I guess that was the plan.

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Because I forgot to bring eggs and fruit for my mid-meal snacks, I
ended up buying some balanced MetRX thing from the convenience store
downstairs. It had the right amount of protein and carbs, but holy
crap did it taste bad. The temptation to eat those in lieu of real
food will not be there. Not to mention that a bar the size of a
Hershey bar was $2.59. Ouch.

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My whole upper body is sore from the weightlifting I did on
Wednesday. Dear god there is no worse workout situation than starting
back at weightlifting after a significant time away. I’m keeping with
the diet as best I can and haven’t missed a workout yet. Today I work
the legs for the first time since restarting on the program. I really
did fairly light weights on the upper body, but that didn’t prevent
deep soreness, so I’m resigned to the same for the legs. Oh well, the
soreness means it is working.

One of the downsides of the way the aerobics works on Body For Life is
that you have to pay a lot of attention to the machine. You ramp it up
or down every minute, so you have to be basically looking at the
display the whole time so that your perceived exertion matches what it
should be. This means that I can’t just read a book while I’m on the
bike or the stair machine. However, I can listen to my iRiver, so last
night I spent my 20 minutes on the stair machine listening to an
episode of Dimension X, a dramatization of the Jack
Williamson story “With Folded Hands.” It was quite good. I’ll keep
doing this until I run out of things to listen to. I might try some
audiobooks if I can buy some in MP3 format.

I hear on the news today that we’ve given our president a blank check
to just go do whatever he wants to do in Iraq. That’s nice. He’s a
trustworthy sort, as are his cronies, so I’m sure it will all work out
in the end.

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I had occasion to exchange e-mail with Sam Rosenthal of Projekt
Records back when I was trying to get more ambient music sent to
WREK. As it happened I recently had occasion to be browsing the Projekt Records website, on which I
saw his essay
about MP3 sharing
. My favorite quote from the article:

“I don’t agree with the whole concept that people will steal music
from you and never buy music again.”

He is both the owner/operator of Projekt, as well as a professional
working musician so if anyone has an informed opinion, you’d think
this guy has one.

Music TopicBecause of all the good stuff I found on the Projekt MP3 page, I have
some new band of the day picks. Today’s is the band that Rosenthal is
in, Black
Tape for a Blue Girl
. I wasn’t previously familiar with them,
although I’ve heard the name before. When I heard some of their music,
it reminded me of the Changelings, a former botd. Really, it’s
probably the other way around since Black Tape has been around a lot
longer. Check them out.

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It looks like the Bush PR effort towards war is working according to
plan. This morning, I heard on the CBS morning show the following
quote from a man on the street deal about the potential for war:
“Well, I guess we need to do this to them, since they came over here
and attacked us.” The conflation of the Iraqi buildup with Al Qaeda
and the WTC attacks is relentless. I find it kind of grotesquely
racist and xenophobic, myself. “We have promised you that we’ll take
down the people responsible for the terrorist attacks. However, we
can’t find them so we’ll find the worst swarthy towel-heads we can,
attack them and call it good. That they have oil we want is gravy on
the deal.” How long is it before the premise that
“they are about to do something terrible, so we’re going to stop them
preemptively” moves from our foreign policy and into the domestic?
“That guy was almost certain to commit a crime, so we locked him up.”
It makes me very nervous, like basically everything that comes out of
this current administration. They keep telling us how we can’t live in
fear, but I’m far more scared of them and what they will do to my
beloved country than I am of any external enemy.

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I went to the gym last night and worked out for the first time in a
really long time. I had the unpleasant experience of weighing myself
and seeing a number 5 pounds higher than my previous highest recorded
weight. Yikes. I knew that being sick, not being active, and eating
lots of comfort food had wrought havoc on me. Even my fat pants are
tight now but I hadn’t realized it was this bad. I just restarted on
the Body for Life plan. It
has a fairly sensible nutrition component (eat 6 small meals a day,
one portion of protein and one of complex carbohydrates, cut out the
refined stuff) and a fairly sensible excercise component. The nice
thing is that one day a week is the “free day”, during which you can
eat or drink anything without limit to content or amount. One of my
friends has lost 50 pounds on the Atkins diet. This is not so extreme,
and because it is predicated on you doing weightlifting and cardio
work seems to be more healthy to me. You don’t just try to lose fat,
putting on more muscle is one of the mechanisms to burning off the
fat, so when you are done you look that much better. We shall see how
it works.

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I’ve noticed a creeping change in the semantics of the word “spam” as
it relates to e-mail over time. Just now I got into it with a guy on
the WREK staff list because he thinks I shouldn’t have used the list
for a message I sent. “You should have called him on the phone rather
than spamming the whole list.” I am of the belief when you have a
mailing list chartered, and a member of the mailing list sends a
message, it cannot be “spamming” the list. At worst, it is off-topic
but spam has a more specific and different meaning than that. I got so
pissed at this guy so quickly that I wrote a procmail rule routing his
incoming mail to /dev/null. I’m not feeling like engaging people
about horshit today.

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I finished listening to the George Carlin book today. It was mostly
the same experience as listening to one of his albums and in a few
cases was the same material I first heard on albums. His delivery
makes already funny stuff even funnier. I would definitely consider
becoming an Audible customer, if only they had some way of hooking up
their DRM crap to my iRiver SlimX. As it is, I’ll be looking at
BookEars or other places that sell audiobooks on MP3 CDs. It makes so
much sense to me to do it this way, when you can put 10 or more hours
of book on a single CD. Beats that tall stack of tapes with the
bizarre “part 1 on the left channel, part 3 on the right” schemes to
put more stuff on one tape.

While I’m talking audiobooks, I should mention the company founded by
author Bruce Coville, Full
Cast Audio
. I don’t actually know Mr. Coville but I do run in
similar online SF circles (which is how I first learned about FCA –
from his group on Dueling Modems.) He has a taste for similar films as
I do, and seems like a good guy. What Full Cast Audio does is do big
production versions of prose fiction. It’s more like Seeing Ear
Theater than an audiobook. He has a free sample, one of his
stories up there, available for download or he’ll even send you a tape
for free. As best I can tell, all the material is the kind of young
adult fiction he writes, which translates into fun for the whole
family. Slap some of these babies on your Diamond Rio and plug it into
the car stereo during long trips. I wish this kind of technology was
available when I was a kid living in western Kansas, where any
vacation involved driving at least 3 or 4 hours, 8 or 9 for the good ones.

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The combination of helping a loved one pack for an extended trip and a
tight, heartbreaking loss in a close playoff elimination game is not a
recommended one. I’m exhausted after being up late with all that and
up early to drive my wife to school. Tonight I’m going to the gym for
the first time in I don’t remember when. I feel good enough to do it
after being sick, and I’m getting weary of my recent weight gain. I’n
becoming one of those doughy men they talk about on MST3K.

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Top of the 4th and my stomach is tied in knots. We’re down by two and
although the game is still young, I’m full of the familiar
dread. Millwood just struck out Sanders decisively, but gave up a home
run to Bonds this inning. Come on bats! Wake up, Sheffield! Dear god
it is tough work being a baseball fan. The games move slow enough that
you can be worked up for the maximum time. Yipes!

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I broke down and worked through the Audible docs, and finally got the
problem resolved. I had to delete a file called “debug.log” and
restart everything. This kind of bugs me, but it worked. I have heard
most of this as standup material or on comedy albums but it still
cracks me up. I swear there is new stuff, even in familar
routines. For example, in the classic “Football and Baseball” routine,
he now includes this section:

What is all this fuss about taunting? I don’t think it goes far
enough. If a lineman sacks the quarterback, I think he should be
allowed to pull down his pants and masturbate on him. If he can’t
ejaculate because of the 60,000 people in the stands, slap a 15 yard
penalty on him for delay of game.

Ever since I heard that, I’ve had the low-level giggles.

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I get e-mails from Handspring with various affiliate offers. This most
recent one had something about entering a drawing for a free Audible
Advisor, the Springboard module to listen to files from Audible.com. I’m kind of
interested. I bought the SlimX to play old time radio and MP3 audiobooks,
so I’m definitely in the broad target demographic. I went to the
webpage and saw that to enter the drawing for the Springboard module
you just create an account and that they are currently giving away the
audio books of George Carlin’s most recent book. OK, I signed up and
tried to download it. I installed the Audible plugin for Windows Media
Player, I went to the “My Bookshelf” where I saw the Carlin book. I
clicked “download”, which opened up the Audible desktop manager
program and waited. And waited. Nothing ever happened. I tried
again. I closed out the Audible program and IE and started over (and
it is worth nothing that none of this works with Mozilla, so I already
had to open a different browser to get anything to happen). Starting
from the top, same thing. Desktop app opens, nothing downloads or
happens after the click. I’m assuming the purpose of the giveaway
book is to sell people on the experience much like the Fictionwise
books are designed to let people dip their toes in the ebook pool
without risking cash. Thus far, Audible has managed to take me, about
as receptive a possible potential customer as they can possibly have,
and make me not very likely to continue screwing around with them. Not
a good way to win customers.

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It’s that familiar feeling for a Braves fan, the thought that despite
having a rock solid team, great pitching, great bats our team might
not advance. It’s hard to believe that Glavine has given up something
like 15 runs in 8 innings in the playoffs. I wish I could go, but
we’ll be packing up my wife’s stuff and getting her ready for 3 weeks
in Boulder.

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Unless we get some heroics, we will be having game 5 in the division
series. The boys have 2 more outs to make up a five run deficit. I was
wrong about the game day, which is tomorrow rather than Tuesday. I
can’t go to that, since my wife is leaving for a few weeks in
Colorado. They’ll have to do it without me, I’m afraid.

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Five anxious hours until game 4. We’re going out to do some shopping
and errands and see a movie, Sweet Home Alabama. When we get back, I
hope to see my boys shut down Barry Bonds for the umpteenth time in
the last 12 years.

I got a catalog the other day for Discmakers. It is all
for mid to high volume CD/DVD duplication. I have no legitimate reason
in the world to want any of this stuff, but I do. These machines in
which you stack blank CDs on one spindle, set it running and duplicate
CDs with the labels printed on show up on the other – they excite
me. Some just copy, some just print, some do it all with robotic arms
that move the discs from place to place. Wow! People keep asking me
about making radio shows available on CD (not enough to think there’s
a slam dunk business in it, like three or four a year) and that would
be a cool way to do it. Keep a couple of every show in inventory, and
when more are needed, fire up the robot and make a few more CDs. I’ve
really been wracking my brain trying to come up with a side business
where I could justify buying one of these things (or leasing). They are just so cool!

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This was an excellent baseball day in our household. First, my boys
rocked the Giants 10-2 with excellent pitching by Maddux and
Remlinger. Then, the Angels sent the Yankees home. Yeah! After the
Braves game was over, our Fox affiliate switched to the Angels-Yankees
game. It was 10 minutes until 8 and the top of the 9th innning so I
was hoping to see the game end before we switched over to Trading
Spaces. I was not disappointed. At three minutes till 8, the Angels
closed it out and started celebrating. I hadn’t quite gotten what I
was after, so we stuck on the channel until we saw some pictures of
some unhappy Yankees. Jeter and Torre and Williams with that look on
their face – priceless. I’m quite happy. I’d like to see the Braves
close it out tomorrow but if they don’t I’ll go to the game Tuesday.

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I didn’t write about my boys, the Atlanta Braves yesterday. The loss
yesterday was heartbreaking. Like all Braves fans, as excited as I am
to have them in the postseason for the eleventh straight time, I also
am dreading the thought of them going home early. It’s looking pretty
good tonight, a five run lead as I type this, with Smoltz taking
over. Smoltz has long been my favorite Braves pitcher, from back when
the rotation was Glavine, Smoltz, Kent Mercker and Steve Avery.

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On Dueling Modems, the question arose whether World Fantasy Convention
was at Callaway Gardens in 1992. I was completely sure that it was,
but I looked it up to be sure. As I looked it up,
memory that the special award went that year to
W. Paul Ganley. The first night I was there, he and I were each going
to the restaurant individually to eat dinner, and they didn’t have
any tables for one ready. I turned to him and asked if he wanted to
share a table, and then they seated us immediately. I didn’t
previously know him, just introduced myself on the stop. He was a
nice guy, and we just talked books and fandom for an hour while we
had dinner. I’ve never seen him again.