ArtLung, blog of Joe Crawford [January 2008]

March, 2008: 43 posts.

BarCampLA5, including YUI 101 Presentation Slides


I had a great time this weekend at BarCampLA5 ( It was a great event, despite some apparent venue hiccups and dramas behind the scenes, plus delays due to traffic from the LA Marathon on Sunday. It went really well, held at the AOL facility in Beverly Hills. Kudos to the planners, particularly Jason Cosper and Crystal Williams — though an event like this really is made of the people who attend and talk and listen and socialize and sing and question and answer and game and twitter!

On Saturday I overcame my natural inclination to avoid doing talks by snatching a last minute open Session slot and doing a WordPress Birds of a Feather Q and A / Discussion. Thanks to all who attended that for your terrific contributions — I learned a lot myself and will write that up this week in a separate post. If you blogged about that session please drop me a line via email — joe [ at ] artlung [ dot ] com.

The same goes for my talk yesterday. Thanks for attending and contributing! I felt it went well. At the end there was a suggestion that perhaps an introduction to building web pages or to using JavaScript might be well received at the next BarCampLA. I’m going to give some thought. Any other suggestions as to what the barcamp audience might like to hear from an aging front-end web developer are welcome. Also, the slides from my talk: YUI 101, are available in PDF form: YUI 101.

Vaughn Hannon blogged the session, albeit briefly! Though I disagree with the spirit of these words: “A short impromptu bashing of Microsoft and Silverlight just took place…it’s coming, like it or not”. I think Silverlight is marvelous and cool, but I feel like in the competitive landscape, what I’ve learned is that the technologies that are more closed, provide less freedom, and supported by fewer vendors keep losing in the long run unless they get very wide adoption soon. And truth be told, I don’t see Silverlight busting out large. I’ll add I could be wrong, but the road of web progress is littered with cool technologies that never reached critical mass.

Oh, and I also particularly want to thank Doug Welch for lending me his laptop for my presentation and working hard to get it and the darn projector to talk nicely.

To all the folks I met this weekend and who are here because of this presentation, welcome, and feel free to introduce yourself in the comments on this post. I intend to write up the sessions I attended in another post.

And now, visuals! You can see all the photos I took at this flickr set and in the global flickr space you can search for photos tagged barcampla5. As of this morning it looks like 735 photos were tagged in that way. Lots to look at from a great event. If you look for photos tagged “artlung” you’ll find photos of me, and man, I don’t like much of what I see. Thank goodness summer is coming. I definitely felt my size this weekend and that has got to change. Oh, and I even took two grainy videos with terrible audio with my cell phone: Original Song by Madeleine Wright and Here’s a Quarter by Doug Welch and Madeleine Wright. I can’t sing but it was fun hanging out and pretending I could with the guitar-people. I also enjoyed playing a little Rock Band, singing only, of course.

Okay, I have to get in gear. Thanks for visiting, Happy Monday, and more on BarCampLA5 this week!

Artlung and Dalek

“Stop Bending the Shafts!!!”

Tom Hanks and David Letterman.

“Don’t Just Watch Television Tonight, Play It!”

An old TV commercial for Atari featuring Carol Channing and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Those graphics were once amazing.

Recruiter Fail

Todays’ Email:

Dear Laurel,
Just wanted to ping you on a few great companies in the LA area looking for PHP talent. Let me describe the positions briefly, and I’ll include links to more detailed information on my website. If you’re interested, you can email your most current resume to [REDACTED] and we’ll see if we can get a match.

From March 5:

Hey Laurel,
I just stumbled across your resume in our database and was wondering if you were interested in this opportunity.

My reply:

Dear Recruiters:

I’ve gotten two of these now, and they both infuriate and entertain me. I am not named Laurel. My surname is not Springs. My first name is “Joe.” It matches the email address you have contacted me at: joe (at) artlung (dot) com. My last name is Crawford, not Springs. Perhaps you’re confused. In my resume, you can plainly see my name is Joe Crawford. Perhaps in another one I refer to myself as “Joseph Crawford.” Also, you can read that in 2006 I had a contract with Laurel Springs School in Ojai, California.

Sadly though, I did not become the owner of that august institution. Neither was I was inspired to change my name to match the school–that would be quite something!! I worked on web applications in ASP and SQL server there. I had quite a nice time working with very nice people. Also, Ojai is very pretty, though it does get warm in the summer.

I appreciate your email very much, but I hope you’ll understand that it’s very difficult to take you seriously when you and your database have failed so profoundly.


Joe Crawford

Rock, Zevon, Swimming, Moving

Some Zevon this morning, from a live recording on the Internet Archive that’s pretty good, which I found via UBM:

I can saw a woman in two
But you won’t want to look in the box when I’m through
I can make love disappear
For my next trick I’ll need a volunteer

And more Zevon:

The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in time
I’m lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine

If like me, Daylight Savings Time makes you lust for the Summertime, as it does me, you can see some ocean, along with vital statistics thereto, here: I hate that it stops at the Los Angeles County line, because the beaches I like are actually in Ventura County. There is not a like service for VenCo. I’ve talked about my favorite beach (these days) before.

Water temperatures in my ocean are still in the 56-58 degrees Fahrenheit, so, no go yet. But I did swim at the Calabasas Swim Center yesterday. This morning, I’m achey as hell. I suppose that’s normal. Will I go again today? Perhaps. Though I’m a bit concerned about the etiquette required to swim laps properly.

By the way, I really love the California Flag:

California Republic

If this whole Federal Government of the United States of America thing doesn’t pan out, I’m gonna stick with the state that borned me. It’s an inspiring design. Perhaps I’ll get a T-Shirt with it.

Aw heck, more Zevon:

I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this, ha!

Rock and roll is pretty awesome. Lots of power. Yes, it gets corrupted and co-opted and put on soundtracks and commercials — all of which sucks. But yesterday I was in the car with Tyler he was riffling through my iPod and yes, he found the Postal Service I have, as well as the Ben Folds cover of the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit” — regrettable title and lyrics, but at age 15 he’s heard it before. But I was also able to expose him to The Orb’s “Little Fluffy Clouds;” Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open The Door;” and even Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades.” We also had a nice conversation about Prince, of all people. He was wondering “what the big deal was with him” when he noticed how much of his stuff I have. I pointed out that as a songwriter and musician he’s amazing, some even consider him a genius. We played Starfish and Coffee, from Sign O’ The Times, then I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man and Controversy to emphasize his musicianship. Then I hit him with “Kiss,” which Ty did not know was one of his songs. Then the endpoint was that the guy’s been doing this for 30-some years. Pretty coherent argument. He and Tony still like a whole lot of crap nu-prog Rock/Metal, but it’s nice to contribute to some music education.

Speaking of which, I really loved the documentary Rock School. No, not School of Rock, though I enjoyed that too. There’s a new documentary coming out called Girls Rock!, via Jezebel:

Here’s the official website: Perhaps I’ll suggest we seek that one out while it’s in theaters down in L.A.

In other and more substantial news, we need to move by April 25th. Our lease it up. We’ve started looking, though Leah considers it too early to be taken seriously. This week I’m going to call our management company and see what might be done. I think the best possible things can and will happen. I hate moving. Everyone says that, and of course we mean it.

And here endeth the blog post.

Debt: Ultimate Dream Killer

From What Are You Destined to Be ? – Blog Maverick, Mark Cuban writes:

I’m also a big believer that financial debt is the ultimate dream killer. Your first house, car, whatever stuff you might want to buy are going to be the primary reasons you stop looking for what makes you the happiest.

Shades of Dave Ramsey. Loving that Leah and I have managed to put away about $18K in debt in the past year. Of course we’re adding more a big IRS bill coming up soon, but we’re moving in the right direction and kicking butt.

I saw Mark Cuban interviewed by Jason Calacanis many years ago at an event held by Digital Coast Reporter/Silicon Alley Reporter down at the Director’s Guild facility on Sunset Boulevard. Mark was great and surprisingly laid back. Inspiring, even.

That reminds me, that was also the event where I walked by Shaquille O’Neal. That guy is tall and makes other uses of the word “tall” seem silly by comparison.

Leah, Painting

Leah has been doing some painting and it’s pretty great. Here’s a set of paintings that are for sale:


The Wire Ends

The Wire ended. It was awesome.

Some further reading: Heaven and Here: So Thiis Is How It Ends; The Wire: David Simon Q & A (long and really excellent); Undercover Black Man: The End of the Wire; and lastly Memo to Casting Agents: Please don’t waste actors from The Wire.

As Daniels says: “To be continued.”

“Banana Hell”

The completely appropriate title on this post from over in Vintage Ads is “Banana Hell.”


Banana Hell

Seeking “Paul Ronald Ryan” from Dodger Game, 1960s

A colleague of mine here at work is in search of evidence of his biological father’s existence. Because he knows I’m a big internet data mining nerd he asked for my help, and in turn I ask you for help. Here’s the information he provided me:

During a Dodger game during the 1965, 1966, or 1967 Seasons, he was carried out on a stretcher, having suffered a kidney stone during the game. His full name is purported to have been Paul Ronald Ryan, though this is not certain. He would have been, 70 years old this year, putting his year of birth at about 1937. It’s possible this man is still alive, though this also is not certain. It was said that he was born in New York, again, not a certainty.

That’s it. His mother is not alive. My colleague has contacted the LA Times and Dodger Stadium but has not heard back yet. He has not sought out his father with any seriousness and now wants to. Please contact me via email or comment on this post if you have ideas or suggestions.

Please feel free to pass this along or crosspost this item.

Obama is still ahead

I have never donated money to a political campaign in my life, but last month I donated fifteen bucks to Obama. Next time we’re a bit flush I’m going to do it again. It’s time for someone with a different emphasis; it’s time to not elect someone because a family member of theirs has been President before. This is not a family business, it’s the Presidency. Nepotism sucks. Whatever happened to the ideal and goal of meritocracy?



At EA in Marina del Rey for SIGGRAPH meeting

I have some backlog stuff, as per usual. This weekend to catch up? I hope so.

Last night I went to the SIGGRAPH Los Angeles event held at the EA facility in Marina del Rey. Devon was supposed to attend with me but he ended up distracted by girlfriend. The Electronic Arts building, or rather set of buildings, was very nice — they had a little arcade, and a gym, basketball courts, and security all around. It actually reminded me a bit of the franchulates from Snow Crash, how hermetically sealed up from the rest of the community the place was.

The topic was digital acting. In brief, it examined the challenges of creating digital, directable animated charaters, in both linear media and in games. The emphasis on artificial intelligence was a bit of a surprise, I hadn’t thought about how much behavior gives a sense of “reality” to the world. And behavior is inevitably complex and hard to model. It was fascinating stuff and had me thinking about the challenges of making NPC (non-player characters) in a game.

I’ve been attending SIGGRAPH events in various places since the 1990s. In the presentations folks would indicate when their “first SIGGRAPH” was. Not that you’re interested, but mine was in 1995. On the nametag (which I still have) I wrote my occupation as “FILM/COMPUTER GRAPHICS STUDENT.” Mind you I was only toying with the web at the time as a consumer. I was learning PhotoShop and taking classes at UCLA Extension at the time. Out of all that curiosity about how computer graphics were done in movies, science fiction, computers, programming — I ended up in the web. And the rest, is history.

Even though my day to day life has gone more toward code and less toward graphics, I’ve kept up with local chapters of SIGGRAPH ever since that first SIGGRAPH.

Next month the topic is Automobile Visualization, and I wonder if my buddy Chris might want to attend that one.

The drive home was nice. I drove PCH. The big wide ocean is so large and so dark at night. The crescent moon shone down on it. I listened to danah boyd on an audio podcast from Harvard which had my mind racing over many topics.

There is an interesting intersection between games and social media and I’m not sure what that ends up looking like.

Dave Stevens: 1955-2008

Rocketeer #1 Cover

Dave Stevens has died of leukemia. Remembrances all over the comics blogosphere this morning. Here are a few: THE BEAT, Mark Evanier, Rob Ullman, Drawn!.

I remember seeing The Rocketeer graphic novel in the mid-1980s and being astounded with the intricacy and delicacy of the design and artwork. Dave was a consummate artist and he, and his work, will be missed.

T.P.B. Barnett comments on citizenry’s distrust

I’m moved by this because it speaks to my own feelings about government: Email exchange :: Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog:

A lot of people out there convinced they are completely powerless in this world and that we’re being sucked into wars with no forethought. It’s a sad commentary on where we are right now as a nation that average citizens are so distrustful of their government, believing that it suppresses intelligence or doctors it, sensing that debates are being squelched or hidden from public view when they shouldn’t be–just a strong sense of betrayal.
As somebody who’s worked all over the national security community over the past 18 years, meeting more people than I can remember, I know there tends to be wings and factions on every issue, and that, under normal conditions, they duke it out in the best interest of the country. Average citizens tend to see too many movies and not read enough material that accurately describes the day-to-day workings of things, so their images of decision-making tend to be very dark and nefarious. Nixon’s administration had created a lot of that bad feeling–that sense of hopelessness. It’s sad to see people feeling this way again. It’s depressing.

I continue to enjoy Barnett. He’s writing a third book. I suppose given how much I think about his ideas, and pass them along, I should read one of his darn books!

Previously, previously, previously, previously.

How to Dial a Telephone (1927)

It occurs to me that if rotary telephones were put in back service they’d have to repeat this public service message.

You can put your SIM card in a rotary phone, you know. Portable Rotary Phone – Black.

And here’s an art piece that represents a USB rotary dialer. If i used VOIP I would want to buy this.

USB Rotary Dialer

The exhibition was called dialog05 / universal connections

Joe Bennion’s Pottery

I’m a sucker for seeing how things get made — “how do they do that?”

So seeing photos over on Rick’s blog of Joe Bennion throwing some of his pottery — well — I was blown AWAY! Really wonderful to see the work being done. And Joe has even more photos over on his blog.

Joe, throwing
Joe, throwing, closeup

Joe Bennion does beautiful work.

David Mamet on politics and reevaluating positions

Nice essay in the Village Voice: village voice > news > David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal’ by David Mamet

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bullshit and go straight to firearms.

It turns out I think David Mamet’s Rabbi is awesome. It’s a heckuva challenge to see things as others might see them, and to care about the tone of discourse.

via the excellent Open Culture blog

The Smilie of a Completed Debt

One of my favorite things is sending that last payment of a debt. The other day I got to do that and, while putting it in the mail is gratifying, having the check clear is even better.

This morning I checked the bank account to see what has cleared, and found several cleared checks from the past weeks. The one I sent off earlier in the week that was debt completion was there. Some I can tell from the amount, this one I had to look at. So I do. And what do I see? I see that the bottom right corner of the check includes a little smilie! How’s that for cute?

I took a little screen capture of it:

The Smilie of a Completed Debt

Mind you, I don’t recall if the images of previous cleared checks included this little “THANK YOU” and smilie.

But I have to admit, I smiled. For the tiny smilie, partly. And for the little zero I get to add to the debt snowball spreadsheet.

Rock on my peoples.

File under: Stepdad Pride, Swimming, Other

I was radar gunned by the Los Angeles County Sheriff in Malibu on my way to work. Got a pass because I was with the pack.

The day is beautiful. The Pacific was blue, shimmering, calm and inviting. If only the water temperature were higher. Ah well, no matter — yesterday I went swimming at a public pool in Malibu. It was windy but nice. I managed not to die, which was awesome. I was doing sprints and also did some breath-holding doing laps. I thought my head might explode but I made it across clean twice without breathing. As a younger person swimming underwater was easy as pie and I could hold my breath much longer. Working on conditioning is the thing. I want to have better stamina to enjoy the waves when the ocean temperature is in the range.

Half-considering just going in even if it’s in the 50’s Fahrenheit, though I doubt I’ll last long in there.

On the way home I got a call from my folks. My Mom’s new oral regimen of chemotherapy, meant to be taken daily, had too many side effects so she will cease and regroup. An appointment has been made to see the lead Chemo Doc to see what strategy is next (new drug? new dosage? new scheduling? live with side effects?). It was great to talk to my folks and sister.

Have I mentioned that my sister is getting married next month? Leah and I are flying out to Washington DC and it should be great. We’re all very happy for her. Her fiancee is a great fellow who I shall be proud to call brother-in-law.

In other family news, I helped Dev do his taxes (first time ever!) using TurboTax. He was very pleased and he’ll be applying his refund to paying off some of his own debt. I have to say I was pretty darn middle-aged and stepdaddish, helping him do his taxes. He had lots of questions as he went through their wizards. He actually had some 1099 income, W-2 income, and educational expenses. He also can no longer be claimed as a dependent on his father’s taxes so it’s really his thing now. He’s figuring his stuff out and I’m proud of him. I may not agree with all his decisions but he’s becoming his own man and he listens to counsel with earnestness. He’s got to be himself.

The kids and their Dad and Stepmom are all going to Spain this week and next so we’ll miss them but I gave Al my super-portable Spanish/English dictionary. I hope they have a great time. I entirely forgot that they’ll be there during Holy Week. That should be impressive for them. Leah and I feel a tinge of envy wishing we could do that kind of big trip — but that won’t be financially in the cards for probably three years or so. Hard to remember that we have plenty to provide even if money-wise we’re in a different position. Regardless, we’re taking care of business and them in the way we are able.

Thankful for reconnecting with Al. I’m also very glad to have never been and never having to be a teen girl. That’s a job I’d never want. Mind you, I used to suction sputum from people’s noses and mouths and airways, and I would prefer that to being a teen girl. Like Devon, and yet very differently, Alex is figuring out her stuff and I’m very proud of her and her accomplishments. We attended an awards ceremony and she was lauded as being supportive of the other kids and a standout. She is definitely that. I’m proud of the young woman she’s becoming.

Made some mix CDs for a buddy of mine over the weekend. That was a blast. It was all cover songs. I hope they will be enjoyed. I would post a tracklisting but I don’t want to spoil it for him. I may post a track list later on.

And with that, the week commenceth.

And hey, for old times, onward.

Two Awesome Songs

the first via Six-Word Reviews of 763 SXSW Mp3s by Paul Ford

Bridget Bardot by Creature

the second via Undercover Black Man:

Everyone I Know is Listening to Crunk by Lightspeed Champion

lyric sample:

my drawings are starting to suck
my best friends are all listening to crunk
i feel like the world’s gone crazy

Go listen.

Robot Ponies

Some more SXSW music: Robot Ponies by Laura Barrett

It’s a wonderful science fiction pop song. There is one curse word, in case that bugs you.

Sample lyrics:

christmas eve, 2053
underneath every little girls tree
a robot pony
comb their soft and luscious nylon fur
listen close
hear their clockwork hearts whir
robot ponies
they feed on plastic bags
cut up like lettuce
right out of your hand
things get out of hand
unless you use one of seven preset functions
to make them understand
make them understand
you know best
you know best

choose between seven pony types
some like swimming
we made those babies air-tight
robot ponies

This one is plaintive yet hopeful, funny and downbeat.

I enjoy a science fiction pop song sometimes.


Big truck on fire on 118 West

Big truck on fire on 118 West

On my way home from Geek Dinner was stopped by big rig on fire on the Westbound 118 in Porter Ranch near Tampa exit. big rig was engulfed in flame and it was supposedly to do with a wrong-way driver, that’s what KNX1070 radio said anyway. It was some impressive fire that actually included the hillside. I actually was with the group of cars that came on it initially and we had to turn around and go to the prior exit.

Hollywood Mobile Movie

The other night at Geek Dinner I met Eric from Hollywood MobMov. He’s looking for sites for Mobile movies. He needs parking lots with 50 spaces with flat large walls adjacent. This sounds like so much fun to me! I signed up for the list. I like the idea of stuff like Cinespia (cemetery screenings of movies) Insominac Cinema (midnight movies). Mobile movies is in that zone. Here’s what the website says:

What is the Mobile Movie?
We are the global guerrilla drive-in movement bringing back the forgotten joy of the great American drive-in. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, what used to be a dark and decrepit warehouse wall springs to life with the sublime sights and sounds of a big-screen movie. Best of all, the MobMov is free.

Hollywood Mobile Movie

Thirty-Eight Today

Today I am 38 years old. I think it will be a lovely day.

Followed up on some emails from Geek Dinner the other night and I’m reminded that I have yet to transcribe my notes from BarCamp which is rapidly fading from memory.

Borrowed the collected DC: The New Frontier from Jukebox and enjoying it. Halfway through it. I enjoyed the animated movie version of it — wasn’t blown away, but it was well done. The comic seems to have a bit more nuance, but they’re pretty faithful to each other.

Many birthday wishes coming in via email and FaceBook, and I got calls from my folks yesterday, plus my parents-in-law too. I even got a text message from Tyler the other day, though the kids are on vacation out of the country and without cell phones (presumably to avoid horrendous international roaming and data charges) this week.

Oh! Gift, today I gave myself the gift of donating some money (a whole $20!) to the Obama Campaign. Why don’t you do the same? The guy is clearly the most qualified, level-headed, smart person among the three on offer at the moment. I like him a lot. So, really, donate!

Let’s get this day started, eh?


Previous birthday posts: Today is: National Corndog Day, also my Birthday and Useless Information About My B-Day

And I totally forgot: it’s Won’t You Wear a Sweater? Day

In honor of what would have been Mister Rogers’ 80th birthday on March 20, Mr. McFeely — aka David Newell, the public relations director for Family Communications, Inc. (the nonprofit company founded in 1971 by Fred Rogers) — has a special request.

“We’re asking everyone everywhere — from Pittsburgh to Paris — to wear their favorite sweater on that day,” he asks in his best speedy delivery voice. “It doesn’t have to have a zipper down the front like the one Mister Rogers wore on the program, it just has to be special to you.”

Back in 2000, at EduPoint when we played Quake III my handle was “JoeSweater.” I was even more identified with wearing a sweater then than I am now. I think I stole a red sweater from my Grandfather when I was maybe 13 and the habit has stuck. Today perhaps I’ll wear the red one.

Okay, now the day can begin.

Dog in a Sack

Dog Car Side Saddle

You know, people have made fun of this invention, some even have derided it as cruel. However, I can see some dogs I have known kind having fun. Maybe only for short trips, I admit.

And I’m certainly sympathetic to the fact that dogs can wreak havoc inside a car, as a distraction, making trouble.

Clearly, this is not a product that stood the test of time.


Driver’s License Party Trick, Goodbye

Driver’s License Party Trick, Goodbye

So this year my driver’s license expired, and so I renewed it and I had to kiss my party trick good-bye. I used to love proving I once had hair to my waist by whipping this lovely photo out.

No longer, my latest license just has a standard issue terrible photo.

I suppose I could aim at 2013 to have long hair again, though it would be quite a bit grayer by then.

My birthday was quite mellow yesterday. Leah sang to me and gave me cake and it was just fine.

This weekend we’ll try and go out.

Also coming up this weekend: looking for a place to live! Fun. Which is to say, not really very fun.

Tracklisting: Cover Up and My Cover’s Blown

I mentioned making some mix CDs the other day for a friend of mine. I’m pretty sure it has arrived by now, and here are the tracklistings behind the jump. The format is
Number – Title . . . Artist [Originator/Populizer]

Read complete article→

Even More David Simon

via UBM.

and previously.

Quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers — such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a facade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read.

via Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Wikiquote.

The more I hear about artists and writers who operated inside the USSR towards the end, the more I see the way art in the USSR has things to teach us about the US today. I wonder if The Wire, being so lauded and yet so unpopular, falls into that category. The people may only want to see the facade in their art. This worries me. So how to strive for authenticity and truth?

I know, hard questions. No answers.


Get Lamp

via Jason Scott. visit GET LAMP for more information.

Desk Candy; Rental; Saturday

Desk Candy

I enjoy having candy at my desk. My co-workers like it too. The lesson on these Starbursts is that the tropical flavored ones have wrappers that look just about the same as the regular ones, but they just don’t taste good enough, and taste too different from the regular that they are surprising in a bad way.

So, no more tropical Starbursts.

In other, more substantial and important news, Leah and I found a rental on the other side of town — I think we’re finally going to have the space we need for the family. We’re in a 3 bedroom duplex and we’ll be moving — assuming we get it — into a 4 bedroom house with a nice back yard and a little deck and some view. Cross your fingers that the credit checks and background checks and whatnot go well. We really like the realty guy we’re dealing with — straight shooter, go-getter, and several other peppy terms apply to him. Dropped off the paperwork to him on Monday.

So how’d we do it? On Saturday we drove around where we want to live, every street, every cul-de-sac, looking for signs. The ones on craigslist and online typically have folks interested already. I drive around as safely and quickly as possible, up every street, keeping track of where we’ve been and basically “learning the map” as though I were starting a level in a first-person shooter. Leah is my RIO (that stands for Radar Intercept Officer) and we look for signs and symptoms of rentals and leases. We look at all the signs. Sometimes it’s just a “this house was just painted by Acme Painting Co.” — and usually it’s “this house is for sale” — but sometimes it’s a “for rent” or “for lease” sign. And that’s what we wanted. So we did that for about 3 hours Saturday morning and got 5 great leads, including three I know have not shown up online. It was a great, productive morning.

Later on we drove down the coast from Oxnard to Malibu. It was a beautiful drive, and we kept our eyes out for people in the water without wetsuits. The water temperature is still in the fifties — but Spring Break brings out the bathers and I just might be crazy enough to go into the water at that temperature. Summer can’t come fast enough as far as I’m concerned.

Later on, we had lunch and saw paparazzi, as Leah chronicled.

Easter was chilled out without the kids around, but in a good way. We’re looking forward to them getting back from their trip with their dad.

Raccoon Hound!

I have met Chuck. He belongs to Dooce and Blurb and Leta. He is awesome. Here’s how awesome he is.

The photos are particularly awesome.

Finest Bad Movie Review Ever

Really, an exegesis of the concept of a bad movie. Joe Queenan’s review of “The Hottie and the Nottie” entitled: From hell from UK’s The Guardian:

This brings me to my major point. To qualify as one of the worst films of all time, several strict requirements must be met. For starters, a truly awful movie must have started out with some expectation of not being awful. That is why making a horrific, cheapo motion picture that stars Hilton or Jessica Simpson is not really much of an accomplishment. Did anyone seriously expect a film called The Hottie and The Nottie not to suck? Two, an authentically bad movie has to be famous; it can’t simply be an obscure student film about a boy who eats live rodents to impress dead girls. Three, the film cannot be a deliberate attempt to make the worst movie ever, as this is cheating.

He names the worst film ever. I won’t spoil it for you.

People are listening to speeches… by Obama

Maybe it really is a YouTube generation. These are some impressive numbers for the viewings of the speeches for the Obama Campaign:

Here’s the source: Welcome to the age of the sound blast by Micah L. Sifry and Andrew Rasiej on via Craig Newmark for Huffington Post in turn via NewsGang twitter feed.

So far, Obama’s videos have been viewed more than 33 million times on — and that’s not counting partial views, since YouTube only reports a full viewing as a “view.” His campaign has uploaded more than 800 video clips, and adds several more a day.

If you just look at his ten most viewed videos, here are some astonishing facts:

  • The average number of views for these top ten is currently more than 1.1 million (nearly double the average from a month ago!)
  • The average length of these ten videos is 13.3 minutes.
  • There have been nearly 3.9 million views of the longest of Obama’s most popular videos, his “A More Perfect Union” speech on race in America.

By contrast, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s YouTube numbers are nowhere as impressive as Obama’s — a sign of her failure to understand and embrace the new medium than anything else. She’s garnered about 10.5 million views, but the average length of her top ten most viewed clips is only two minutes. Several of her top ten videos are actually 30-second TV ads, in fact.

I watched the speech on race, and subscribed to the Barack Obama videos feed at

And Then…

So we got a phone call yesterday that we got the house where we’re going to live next. Having this settled (even in the absence of paperwork, which we’ll do today) is a great load off our minds. Once again the wisdom of simply driving around where you want to live and looking for signs kicks the ass of fancy internet web searches. I wish it were not so, but it is so.

What else, went swimming yesterday again (YAY!) and I’m again sore this morning. So what’ll I do? Well, probably go again today. And be more sore tomorrow? It’s probably a good sign that I’m sore after swimming. I know I’m using muscles I’ve been out of the habit of using. I think that must be an objective good for my health. I think.

It’s pretty great to get back in the water. Though really it’s a second-class version of going in the ocean, and I check daily for water temperatures.

A few complaints about that site: it’s overdesigned and too heavy in adornment, it’s not simple to navigate, it does not include the water temperatures of Ventura County beaches.

And some praise for that site: it’s got data! hooray for water temperature data, I like that it has some maps, I like that it’s got some webcams of some of the beaches.

When I think about my complaints about I think about creating a custom stylesheet or a Greasemonkey script that improves it.

Hurm. Is that it for the morning? I suppose that’s it for now. I think I’ve blogged every day this week. A trend? A blip? An outlier? Who can say?

Indeed, who can say. And moreover…


Hah! Kicking it old school.

JavaScript Geekery: John Resig

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’ll mention it now, I have done some with with jQuery. It’s impressive stuff. I quite enjoyed watching this talk by jQuery creator John Resig: JavaScript Talk at Northeastern. Perhaps you will too.

The Thing with the Video Card

Author’s note, I started drafting this several months back and never finished it. I share it now because what the heck else will I do with it? It’s like a story with no end. A burrito with no tortilla. A car with no gas. Enjoy.

So the other night I could scarcely sleep, and what I did instead is install a new video card in my own main home Windows machine. That machine runs Windows Server 2003 for reasons that continue to mystify me. Really I intend to convert to Ubuntu on this box, but that transition feels like it will be difficult and I don’t need that noise, jack.

I was prompted to install hardware because several months ago we ditched the last of our CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors and went flatscreen. This is better for the environment energy-consumption-wise and saves physical space. I in particular got a cheapo-widescreen Optiquest monitor ($200! less with a rebate!) — the model is Q20wb, an Optiquest.

I had used it on my aging Mac G4 computer and it looked great, but a few weeks ago I decided to switch the widescreen to the Windows box since, as the G4 ages, it gets more cumbersome to get real work done. The problem was I could not, with the video card and drivers I had set up in Windows, drive the widescreen. Instead it could do some random resolution, so that the screen, instead of looking nice at 1680 x 1050 pixels, was at something like 1280 x 1024. On a widescreen monitor, this meant that everything was scrunched vertically. This could not stand! So I switched back for a while and bided my time.

I asked my stepson Devon if he had any stray video cards, hoping I could buy one of his castoffs for $10 bucks. The young man always seems to have stray hardware from building game PCs. Sadly, no dice. However, he did provide me with this link on NewEgg to HIS Radeon 7000 64MB PCI Video Card. I hemmed and hawed for a few weeks, tried many different drivers, and never got a satisfactory result. Well, I splurged last week and bought it, and it arrived this week.

But when I installed it, I would boot and the screen was simply blank. No nothing. No dice. I could hear it booting.

I messed around with the net and eventually found this answer.

Of course, there are no permanent links on the ABSOLUTELY STUPID ATI SUPPORT SITE so whatever that link was is now lost to history.

I got it working but I was up all night and had to do some counterintuitive crap — I think I had to use Safe Mode then do some silliness. It was a big dumb nightmare and clearly I had the urge to write about it but perhaps it was too painful to revisit the steps I took. Thats’ my throry.

The lesson of this post, incomplete as it is, is this: HARDWARE SUCKS. HARDWARE SUPPORT WEBSITES SUCK. WINDOWS SUCKS.

I’m glad I could be of service.

Upgraded to WordPress 2.5

This morning I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.5.

For the time being I’m going to keep a generic theme while I learn some stuff about the new version.

via Zeldman.


I quite like this approach to bring attention to conferences with poor gender diversity, by Dori Smith of Backup Brain:

Given that I’ve been ranting about this issue for several years now (boy, time flies when you’re having fun, don’t it?) and nothing has changed, I figured I’d try something new this time: creating a group on called Needs Women Speakers. Feel free to join, and once you’ve joined, you can add “Needs Women Speakers” as a tag to any conference you see where you think it’s applicable.

Cat and Girl Donation Derby!

Several months ago I donated money to Dorothy, the super-duper-awesome cartoonist of Cat and Girl — she has this thing called “Donation Derby”:

Support my lavish lifestyle! Donate $5 or more and I’ll draw you a picture of how I spend it. Include your address and I’ll mail it to you.

The other day, my donation turned into a comic, and I got a copy in the US mail too! Yay!

Cat and Girl Donation Derby

Yes, I have mentioned Cat and Girl before, twice I think.

If you want a collection of Donation Derby comics, you can buy $8228.40 and a Metrocard.

New Ronny Vardy Etsy Store

Hey Cool! There’s a new Ronny Vardy Etsy Store and I made a note of it. I’ve been a fan of her work since 2001 or so. Since then, I did this strange thing many years ago and started a Ronny Vardy Fan Site. I can only update sporadically, but I enjoy when I can.

Ronny Vardy Etsy Store

Quote of the Day

“It’s on Like Donkey Kong”

– Jessica Kinni, from the appalling and enjoyable Rock of Love II

UPDATE: Please note, she did not originate this phrase. Thanks Jukebox!

Race & Cesar Chavez Day

Did you know that today is Cesar Chavez day? It is. I don’t reference my heritage as a person of Mexican descent very often, if at all. My mother’s side of the family practiced assimilation. The kids were discouraged from learning Spanish. The story I was told was that my maternal grandparents (now both deceased) did not pass along Spanish to their kids. They used Spanish when they wanted to clandestinely talk about things such as Christmas gifts. Few of my aunts speak Spanish as a result.

As for my own identity, I am not sure what to make of my own “race.” I’m not typically interested in anyone else’s race, though I’m fascinated by others’ conceptions about race. I am fond of the notion that race is a human invention. As such, it’s in my interest to be aware of how people self-identify and what that means to them. I have thought a great deal, and been confronted several times with how people look at me.

I recall, at age 21, taking care of a patient at the University of Virginia Medical Center — I was giving a breathing treatment to a patient — after the treatment I was taking his pulse and we got to chatting a bit. I revealed I was originally from California, and he asked me if I was Mexican. I said, my family hails from Mexico partly. This prompted him to say to me “you’re a beaner then!”

I had no idea how to respond to that. I still don’t. It stunned me, I remember that. The man’s affect was pleasant, but that term was in my mind deeply racist. I had no idea how to react to it. It’s one of my memories that I think of sometimes, despite myself.

When I’m confronted with choosing a “race” on demographic surveys I typically decline to state. I used to check two boxes, one for white, one for hispanic or latino. I had a boss once who was very excited that I was partly hispanic because it was good for the diversity numbers. I cringed at that and asked this person not to use me for that since I did not grow up disadvantaged. I still don’t know if my status was used in that way.

Much earlier in my life, when we lived in the Philippines I was one of maybe a dozen “white” kids in a school that encompassed thousands of kids, La Salle Green Hills. We were the oddball kids, very exotic, and most of us ignorant of Tagalog and Filipino culture. I didn’t exactly feel picked on, but at ages 7 to 9 I felt how different I was. Out on the street it was even stranger. That country was deathly poor. These were the years of the reign of Ferdinand Marcos and martial law. When we were on the street beggars, including kids would come up to us in a steady stream which was strange and dismaying. It didn’t help that the standard name to call an American, since the time of the Second World War was “Joe” — as in “G.I. Joe” — so whenever the poor would beg from us they were saying “Joe, Joe, Joe.” Being an expatriate kid opened my eyes to so much, ir probably warrants a post of its own. Perhaps someday.

I don’t think I’ve written about any of these things in the past. I have a tendency to push back against any kind of racist terminology or thinking. Most recently, I pushed back (read: overreacted) on my kids in this 2006 post: “The Extra Bone Bet.”

I’m not sure what else to say about race.

Cesar Chavez Day of Service and Learning


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