Year: 2001

Disclaimers discredit intelligence

So there’s a TV ad for the anti-depressant drug Zoloft, and it shows a little cartoon animation of chemical activity at a synaptic connection. Below that is the crucial disclaimer, “dramatization.”

Is there anyone out there who thought they were showing an actual photographic record or something? Oy.

Property tax: Ouch

Got my property-tax bill today. Over $5100. I don’t have that much in the bank, or in outstanding invoices. I don’t know how the hell I’ll pay it. I also don’t feel like I’m getting good value for my money, though as Will Rogers once said “it’s a good thing we don’t get all the government we pay for.”

Big rain bigger than I knew

You know the saying “God loves fools”? Guess it suits me. Turns out that while I was dropping Sage off at I-35 and 38th, a funnel cloud was touching down nearby, at I-35 and MLK (and was headed towards us). No wonder the driving seemed so dicey. I don’t know of anyone who got hurt, though a lot of people lost power.

Nut-storm

Nuts!

One of the consequences of a heavy rainstorm this time of year is a nut-storm. There are three big pecan trees on my property, and this year, they were heavily laden with nuts. Not anymore. They mostly got knocked off by the incredible rainstorm we had last night. My back deck was so covered with nuts this morning that I had to thread my way across it lest I crush several nuts with each step. Just gathering up nuts that were in the way of foot-traffic, I filled half a shopping bag. That’s a lot of nuts.

What’s really weird is the distribution of nuts in the backyard. Have you ever walked by a creek that had risen and then subsided, leaving a line of debris where it was highest? That’s what it was like in my yard: there was a ring with an unbelievably high concentration of nuts around the yard; in the middle of the yard, which is a little lower, not so many nuts. Makes it easier to gather ’em up.

Big rain

Man, what a rainstorm we are having! I was dropping Sage off at an appointment less than a mile away, and actually thought about pulling over because driving was so dicey. Lightning striking very close by. Wild.

Firenight and puppies

Last night was firenight, as usual. Again, a lot of newcomers. It was fun. I got pictures. I brought out an experimental set of finger wands, which newcomer Diedre and Mel both tried out.Someone had abandoned puppies on the tracks behind Cafe Mundi (this kind of thing makes me really angry). They were really cute, even as puppies go, but had a puppy-like tendency to get underfoot, which is especially bad when playing with toxic fuels and fire. Anyhow, I think they found homes by the end of the evening.

Dave Edmunds at Cactus Cafe

Tracy and I went and saw Dave Edmunds Saturday night at the Cactus Cafe. What a great show! It was a solo show. He had on this shirt, a swirly purple and black pattern on velvet that would make suitable wallpaper at a goth-hippy whorehouse. He was playing a pretty black Guild acoustic run through four effects boxes. A lot of thumb-picking, with a bluegrass style that threatened to lapse into Smokey Mountain Breakdown at times. A lot of old standards played in inventive ways–he did an instrumental version of the Beatles’ Lady Madonna, and the audience would all shout out “see how they run” at the appropriate moment. He played a little classical guitar, then he played Classical Gas and followed that with his very unique take on classical music, in this case Mozart.For his encore, he came out with a Telecaster that had some weird device lashed on below the bridge; it turned out that this was a remote control for a rhythm box that accompanied him on a wild version of Flight of the Bumblebees.

Binary day

Hey, I just noticed it’s a binary day. So is tomorrow. That’ll be the last one for 1001 (expressed in binary) years. I am such a geek.

War & utilitarianism

Remember the saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”?I’ve been thinking a lot about the ethics of this war in Afghanistan. I’m not a pacifist–I do think some kind of military response is appropriate–but I consider the bombing of civilians (even inadvertent) to be unacceptable. I’m basically a utilitarian in my outlook, and so I think the U.S’ goal should be to minimize deaths. But it seems possible that the minimum number of civilian deaths (American, Afghan, whatever) at this point is still going to be higher than zero. To put it crudely, we’ll need to break some eggs to make an omelette.Anyhow, the upshot of all the twists and turns I’ve taken when thinking about this boils down to one basic question of ethics. Is it acceptable to risk civilian casualties in the interest achieving a legitimate military goal (let’s assume just for the sake of argument that it is legitimate). Or to put it in a more general way: is it ethical to take an action that in itself is unethical (or ethically dubious), but is in the service of the greater good? Or should one’s actions always be ethical on their own, and if they lead to more trouble down the road, well, you’ll just cross that bridge when you come to it and hope you can muddle through?I really don’t know the answer to this question. In different contexts, I can argue either way. And I don’t think the answer can be derived through a priori reasoning.What do you think?

A two-party night

Well. A two-party night. At Opal Divine’s, there was a little get-together (not so little, as it turned out) to congratulate Phil on his 3:28 finish in the NYC Marathon. Pretty darned good, especially considering it was his first marathon.

Then there was a party at Debbie’s. There was fire, but I just wasn’t quite feeling up to spinning fire, so I went as a civilian. That was cool. I still had fun. It was a nice change of pace to go without any expectation of performing.

Was hungry afterwards, so I stopped at the Denny’s on the I-35 feeder. Sat at the counter and waited. And waited. A group of Indian 20-somethings came in, the women lavishly dolled up in very ornate saris, etc. That was kind of neat. After a few minutes, I got impatient at the lack of service, and left. Went to Star Seeds instead, which is a much more suitable venue for late-night noshing.

the Microsoft settlement

It doesn’t take a judge to realize the Microsoft settlement with the DoJ is a big Christmas present to Bill Gates (evidently, in fact, it takes a non-judge to realize this). I, Cringely does a good job explaining just how bad it is.

Reverse 5-beat weave

Got the reverse 5-beat weave today. Finally! This is one of those poi moves that just didn’t click for me until Jeff made the crucial observation “the chains follow your hands.”Now I’ve got it. I can’t quite do it without thinking about it yet, but I’ve got it pretty smooth.

Shoal Creek + Mesa

Rode Shoal Creek + the Mesa hill with Caesar today. 18 miles. Whee!

Cuernavaca loop

Rode the Cuernavaca loop with Ram yesterday. That’s a fun ride, and it was Ram’s first time on it, so it was good to introduce him to a new route.

Netscape

I want to like Netscape 6.2, really I do. And there are a lot of aspects of it that I do like. But it has all these annoying habits that slow me down:

  • When I open a new window, the cursor is not blinking in the URL field. Normally it should be. This drives me nuts.
  • Tabbing should toggle between the URL field and the body of the window. It doesn’t, at least not reliably. If there’s a page with links displayed, tabbing moves the focus from one link to the next. This is a Windows-y behavior that I’m not used to. I need to grab the mouse to get the cursor in the URL field.
  • Forms on web pages do not use standard Apple interface widgets, they use very Windows-y widgets. Not what I’m used to. I know Netscape is trying to use a common code base as much as possible, but it’s still annoying.
  • There’s a noticeable pause when opening a new window.
  • It helpfully can remember all your website passwords, but rather than hooking in to Apple’s keychain, it makes you enter a master password separately.
  • For reasons I’ll never understand, it renders some elements differently than previous versions of Netscape, or IE, or whatever. Dumb stuff. Like some pop-up menus, horizontal rules, that sort of thing. Why?
  • Oh, and this really bugs me: hitting escape or command-period used to stop animated GIFs, but no longer. Some animated GIFs I do want to watch; most I do not. Why this useful feature was dropped I can’t imagine.

I do like the fact that it’s really fast, it gives me basic keyboard controls for navigating text in editable fields (shame, IE, shame), I like its sidebar approach better than IE’s

Rumsfeld hot?

Spoke with my sister Lissy tonight. She told me that she and a friend of hers both find Donald Rumsfeld to be (and I believe this is an exact quote) “totally hot.”I told her that as a single guy of about her age, I found this news to be less than encouraging, vis a vis my own dating prospects.