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Friday, February 25, 2005

What the fucking hell?

From the Washington Post: Condoleezza Rice's Commanding Clothes:

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."

    As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.


    Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power -- such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.

    Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice's stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand.

Here's a photo of what the author is talking about: oooh sexy. It's the "I'm about to fall over! Or maybe not!" look that really gets me. Oooh. Sexy.


Sony P7

This is how the people who built the Grove Park Inn in Asheville made their fortune.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


  • Flaming Lips - Clouds Taste Metallic. Back in 1995, these guys weren't making polished synth-heavy psychedelic pop records about robots, Superman and spider bites, like they are today; no, back in 95, they were making fuzzed-out, distortion-laden lo-fi psychedelic pop records about giraffes and lighting striking the postman. But, listening to this, it's clear that the song structures and melodic style haven't changed much, just the sounds they make - it's the same band, just with a different instrumentation and approach to recording. And I like it.

  • The Colorblind James Experience - Greatest Hits! . Few bands have truly unique sounds; with many bands you can pick out a few clear influences and draw a pie chart that shows how much each band contributed to their sound - but not with CBJE. Their sound is more a blend of genres than of bands; and it's not a matter of jumping from style to style between or within songs like some other non-classifiable bands, CBJE's sound is itself a blend of rock, lounge jazz, jumpy polka, lazy country/western, etc.. I've heard it described as "circus rock". Many of their songs just repeat the same few bars again and again, hypnotically, while different instruments (including a vibraphone and horns) solo over it and the singer tells a story in his laconic deadpan voice; and even the fast songs have a definite mellow vibe to them - sure it's danceable, but you can just sit and groove on it, man. Their first album is my favorite because the songs are just a bit more willfully oblique than their later stuff (ie. they started to lose a bit of their edge), IMO. But, that album is completely impossible to find these days; I had a cassette of it when I was in college, but I think it got tossed along the way. They were never really big in the US, outside of their hometown of Rochester NY and they're defintely an acquired taste, so finding a CD copy of it has turned into a real quest. So, this "Greatest Hits!" record will have to do; and while it has a lot from that first record it also has a lot of their later stuff that just doesn't grab me the same way. Sadly, the band is no more, as (singer/vibe player) Colorblind James himself passed away a few years ago. Never went to see them when I had the chance, though I think one of my bands opened for them at a festival once. Regret.


Nikon D100, 50mm

Monday, February 21, 2005


Nikon N80, 105mm macro, Fuji Sensia 100

Cheating on Fernanda

Now here's an interesting concept for a blog: Cheating on Fernanda

    "Six months ago I found out that my wife, Fernanda, had slept with another man. Though I've forgiven her with words, I can't bring myself to truly forgive her. After much thought, I've decided to cheat on her. This is the chronicle of my infidelity."

And that's just from the blog's title box.

Musical Muscles

Without a doubt, being a music collector runs in my family.

And here meet two trains of thought... (horrible cliche, i know. suck it up)

Travelling south, on track 1, is the issue of the 700+ CDs I have shelved in my home office - since I started using iTunes and my iPod (and since my car can play MP3 CDs), I don't use the CDs themselves any more - except to rip to MP3s. But, putting anything on my computer means it faces the danger of Hard Drive Crash, and Accidental Deletion.

And travelling west, on track 2, is the ever-unresolved issue of Hard Drive Backups.

I used to use a product called Veritas Backup Exec Desktop. It was a small, well-mannered program that did exactly what I needed it to do. Sure, it had some bugs, but I knew how to work around them. But, when I got a new computer I found that Exec Desktop wouldn't work with XP. I went looking for an upgrade/update and of course, the publisher had discontinued it. But (!) XP has a built-in backup program, and oddly, it appears to be a scaled-down version of Backup Exec Desktop ! Except, they scaled it back so far that it no longer is capable of saving to multiple CDs/DVDs per backup session, making it completely useless if you have more than a few GB to save - rat fuckers.

After days of searching the net for what I needed (file filtering, folder selecting, DVD-spanning, no-nonsense, non-real-time backups), I settled on Nero BackItUp, which is something that comes with the big Nero Burning ROM suite. It's a bit clumsy and it's horribly slow - probably 5 times slower than Backup Exec Desktop. A backup takes all day, instead of the hour it used to take. So, this is, in my mind, a temporary solution. I just can't waste my precious free time waiting for Nero.

Now I'm thinking I need something a bit more, um, industrial. Maybe a dedicated backup server or a couple of small portable USB hard-drives - one for off-site storage, one for on-site short-term backups.

Seems to me like there's a real market for a small-capacity/high-speed backup system for serious home users / small business owners - a simple device that could make compressed copies of files you want onto swappable, or disposable media (like writable DVDs or CDs). Just plug it into a router on your home network, or connect via USP/FireWire, dump your files; then take it, or better yet, the media, somewhere safe. So much of this already exists, in pieces, but someone needs to bring it all together in a simple package.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Two headed girl

CNN reports:

    As in the case of a girl who died after similar surgery in the Dominican Republic a year ago, the second twin had developed no body. The head that was removed from Manar had been capable of smiling and blinking but not independent life, doctors said.

    Video footage provided by the hospital, a national center in Egypt for children's medicine, showed Manar smiling and at ease in a cot with the dark-haired 'parasitic' twin, attached at the upper left side of the girl's skull, occasionally blinking.

They removed a smiling, blinking head...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A parent's primer to computer slang

From Microsoft's A parent's primer to computer slang, we can learn all about that hip new jive lingo all those crazy computer whiz-kids are using!

FOr example, here are some "Leet* words possibly indicating illegal activity" !

  • 'warez' or 'w4r3z': Illegally copied software available for download.
  • 'h4x': Read as 'hacks,' or what a computer hacker does.
  • 'sploitz' (short for exploits): Vulnerabilities in computer software used by hackers.
  • 'pwn': A typo-deliberate version of own, a slang term that means to dominate. This could also be spelled '0\/\/n3d' or 'pwn3d,' among other variations. Online video game bullies or 'griefers' often use this term."

* - information-age slang is commonly referred to as leetspeek, or leet for short.


A Whole New World

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I am surprised, that there are blogs for and about doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Hooray for the net.

Cruising around those blogs, I found this fun little medical find about drinking:

    Binge drinking 5 drinks in an hour gets you much more drunk than if you were to have the 5 drinks over the course of a night-but why?

    It turns out that the enzymes that allow you to digest alcohol get fully saturated when you drink. So once you have your first drink, any more that you have sits around in your body, making you that much drunker, raising your blood alcohol level that much higher, making your hangover that much nastier, and making potential mates that much hotter. All because your body can’t process the alcohol any faster. It’s like pouring more water into a funnel than the funnel can drain out the bottom: the excess water starts to fill up the funnel. This, my chemistry kiddies, is zero-order kinetics.

    It also happens with aspirin and phenytoin (Dilantin), an anti-seizure drug.

...from Over My Med Body.

Running to a standstill

Allow me to talk about me.

So, thanks to the magic of inhaled steroids (Advair), I'm now able to run pretty much any distance I want, without complaint from my lungs, before my legs give out. Right now, that's somewhere around 6 miles. Hooray for modern medicine! And in two weeks I'm going to run a 5K (3.2mi) race. It'll be my first 5K race since 1987. I'm not exactly fast anymore, so I won't be competitive to other runners; I'm really doing this to see if I can finish without stopping to walk.

"But, I thought you said you can run 6 miles?" Yeah, that's the tricky part - I can run 3.2 miles, any day of the week, no problem. But when I get into a race situation, or even a self-timed situation, the clock (and even more, the desire to not get passed by people who don't look like they should be faster than I am) takes over my brain, I forget all about pacing, restraint and discipline, and I turn into a rabbit - I run far too fast too soon, trying to stay with people I shouldn't, and end up exhausted before I'm anywhere near the end. It happened in the majority of my high-school 5Ks, and is the reason I always hated distance running - give me a nice 400 meters where I can throw everything I have at it all at once, don't make me restrain myself and pace myself and run "my own race"; that's for wimps. It even happened the first time I timed myself on a training run - the first mile was far too fast, the second was right on, but the last was far too slow, because I was exhausted - and that was just because I had a watch on - gotta run faster! this isn't fast enough! the clock is ticking! For me, the very hardest part of this 5K is going to be all about shutting out the other runners and keeping myself at a reasonable pace. So, I've been training, doing timed repeats and long distance runs, trying to get used to a pace I think I can maintain for the race. I'm even following a training schedule.

Looking at the results of the race from last year, I think I can expect to come in somewhere in the top 90, and will probably be beaten by two girls under 14, three men over 60, and two women over 45. See, not content with running my own race, I'm competing with people two weeks before the race even starts. Ugh.

Now, down at the bottom of this page is a list of sites that have linked here in the past 24 hours. Usually it's a handful of regulars. Today, it's a relatively long list of other blogs that I've never heard of - I probably wrote something recently that showed up on a bunch of searches (American Idiot! American Idol! Green Day!). But, there's also a link from a blog by someone who's training to run the London Marathon, First Time Marathon. He's talking about all the stuff he's doing to get ready for the marathon, and he's posting all his training times (reading them makes me feel really slow, FYI). He's also having daily worries about getting sick before the race - all the people around him are sick - something with which I can identify completely. It seems like everyone at work, and my wife, has a cold or the flu - exactly what I don't want right now.

Because I'd hate to miss a week of training so close to the race, and I'd really hate to miss the race itself, I'm doing my damndest to stay healthy these next two weeks - eating better, drinking less beer, drinking more water, taking vitamin C, washing my hands frequently, getting enough sleep, Positive Mental Attitude, avoid being sneezed upon - whatever I can think of. And this morning I thought of something else I could do to stay healthy : I could stop wearing myself out with all this running! Sigh. Logic has failed me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Rock Fonts

This is pretty cool: Fonts designed in the style of various metal bands' logos and cover art.

American Idiots

We were watching the second round of the latest American Idol last night. By the end, I noticed that I could count the number of singers who actually tried to sing a melody on my thumbs - maybe on just one thumb. Everyone else produced overwrought outbursts of yodeling and pointless melisma. I felt like grabbing each of them and shouting "pick a fucking note ! Carry a tune ! "

Is a loathing of popular culture part of growing old?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It was a very good list

A while ago, I put together my Top 100 Favorite Records list, to be included in a survey of a group of Queensbury High School alums (even though I went to Hudson Falls). Well, the final results have been processed, and here they are.

danger + opportunity = crisis

There's a saying in the west, that the Chinese character for 'crisis' is itself composed of the characters for 'danger' and 'opportunity'. And so, you should view a crisis as an opportunity to make changes, etc..

Unfortunately, this is untrue.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Warp in the fabric of space

I don't know how else you can explain a single nuclear plant being in both Iran and North Korea.

If this isn't a natural phenomenon, I hope the US posesses the same technology that the Iranians/Koreans do. Not having it would leave us at a huge disadvantage!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Trust and Honor

W and his cohort say
There is no Trust.
And I believe him.
For he is an honorable man.
So are they all,
All honorable men.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Nikon D100, 50mm reversed on 105mm macro

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Geese With Sun Dog

Nikon D100, 75-250mm

Monday, February 07, 2005

For their pleasure, ribs

I've only made baby back ribs twice in my life, but each time people have told me that they are the "best ribs they've ever had". Possibly it's polite flattery, likely it's more to do with the fact that both times I've served them late at night, when only the hard-core partiers are still around, and everyone is up for a snack of any kind. Either way...

Here's the process I use. Note that the preparation takes a long time. You can't just whip these up on a whim. You've gotta plan a little here.

One rack of baby back ribs (you can usually find them vacuum sealed in the supermarket)
Bottle of BBQ sauce*

1. Day one, peel and chop. Remove the membrane from the back side of the ribs. This is a thin, tough sheet of something that the pig found necessary to grow, but that we don't want to eat. Some rib places will leave it on, I don't like it. So, get a good hold on one end and peel it off; it should come off in one piece. Cut the ribs into four pieces (roughly, 5 ribs each section).

2. Marinade. Put the ribs in a glass or ceramic dish (or even plastic bags). Cover with BBQ sauce, but be sure to save some BBQ sauce for later. If you can't cover the ribs, don't worry - just come by and mix them up a couple of times to ensure that all the meat gets some sauce time. Refrigerate overnight (8 hours or so). If time is a concern, you might be able to skip this step, or cut it down to just a few hours.

3. Day two, low and slow. After they've marinated. Wrap each section of ribs in foil, fairly tightly - with a little of the BBQ sauce from the marinade in each. I wrap them two or three times each - don't want them leaking all over the oven. Put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet (because they'll leak no matter what), and into a 225 degree oven for three hours. Low and slow is the key to that fall-off-the-bone texture. Remove from oven and refrigerate until needed.

4. When you're ready to eat them, heat a grill to medium-high. Take each section of ribs out of its foil, clean off any blobs of fat that might be sticking to it (most of the fat will have cooked out of the meat and congealed in the foil). Put a little BBQ sauce on the ribs and grill for a few minutes each side - just enough to give them some color, some grill marks, and to heat through.

5. Serve to hungry drunkards.

That's it.

* - I prefer Bone Suckin Sauce.

Sunday, February 06, 2005


Sony P7

Here's Mrs. Cleek singing last night at her very own Birthday Karaoke Party - which took place in a spare bedroom of our's. Twelve people, plus the karaoke guy, limitless booze, a selection of wigs and feather boas, and 8,000 songs to choose from. A good time was had by all, especially Mrs. Cleek, who enjoys karaoke more than just about anything.

And it burnses, burnses, burnses!
The Ring of Pow-er
The Ring of Power

I made ribs. Recipe to follow...

Puppy Bowl

Animal Planet is currently showing a 3 hour show called "Puppy Bowl". Apparently, it's three hours of puppies playing with various toys, in a pen that looks like a football field - no rules or scoring or anything like that - just puppies acting like puppies. Once in a while, a person dressed like a referee comes in to blow his whistle and clean up a "puppy foul".

You can even buy it on DVD.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Decadent tombs

My wife's aunt passed away, so we went to Alabama for her funeral. The funeral was, well, a funeral: sad. But, in the midst of mourning, something strange happened.

My mother-in-law (sister to the deceased) has something like twelve aunts and uncles, and therefore dozens of cousins. During the "viewing" part of the service, we were introduced to an endless stream of grayhaired women, each of them a daughter of some Aunt SoAndSo that my wife barely remembers, if she ever knew at all.

At one point, a woman came over to introduce herself to my wife. We're in the second row of seats, and she sits in the first row and turns around to face us. She said she was my wife's grandmother's (MWG) former housekeeper. She says she's sorry she hasn't been able to see more of MWG these days, but [yadayadayada... whatever]. Then she tells us that she's had some sad times in her life, too; she had a son die at nine, and a daughter who was born at 6 months, who died, how it took her four years to be able to look at pictures of her son and not break down, etc.. This is too much information, in my opinion, to be sharing with people you've never met. I start to tune out. My wife keeps nodding politiely, and the woman continues. When I pick up the conversation again, she's telling my wife how she started reading about the ancient Egyptians and how they treated their dead, notably the "decadent tombs" they created for their dearly departed - mummification, lavish displays, etc.. She repeats the phrase "decadent tombs" two or three times. She says it's a shame people (ie., the government) won't let people keep the bodies of their loved ones around, if they choose. Uh oh, thinks me. The Egyptians knew how to preserve a body, and there are people around these days who can duplicate what the Egyptians did, she informs my wife. I check to make sure my wife's jaw isn't on the floor - it isn't and I'm impressed. Then she drops the big one; she says if she could, she would reserve a room of her house as a place to remember her dead children. She would keep their coffins in the room, and visit them whenever she wanted. I presume the children would be mummified. Just to make sure I'm still where I think I am, I look over the woman's shoulder and note that yes, there is, in fact, an open casket ten feet away, and grieving family all around - I'm at a funeral, and this woman, a former part-time housekeeper of the mother of the deceased is a little bummed that she can't set up a decadent tomb for her dead children, in her house. Surreal. Shortly after that, another cousin comes by to introduce herself and tell my wife how she remembers her as a baby, etc., during the interruption, the crazy woman gets up and goes off to find a new person to freak-out. A few minutes later, I hear her telling someone else about how her psychiatrist is adjusting her medication. Ah...

On the way home from the Raleigh airport yesterday afternoon, we passed a bald eagle flying low and slow over Lake Crabtree. We'd heard there were bald eagles in the area, and that there was a nest in that area, but until yesterday, we didn't believe it.

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.