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Saturday, December 31, 2005


Have a happy Saturday. Next week will be just like every other week.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Meme Of Seven

My first tag. I've arrived! Via CmdrSue.

(none of these are in any order)

Seven Books (or Series) That I Love

  1. City of Saints and Madmen - Jeff VanDerMeer
  2. The Lord of the Rings. I suppose it's a bit played-out, after the movies. But I used to make a point of re-reading it every 2 years.
  3. The Ghastlycrumb Tinies - Edward Gorey
  4. Gun with Occasional Music - Jonathan Lethem
  5. Harry Potter. Yeah yeah. So what. Bite me.
  6. e.e. cummings. complete
  7. Matt Ridley - The Red Queen

Seven of My Favorite Movies (or Series)

  1. Star Wars (IV, the original)
  2. Monty Python's Holy Grail
  3. Alien
  4. Ferris Beullers Day Off
  5. Blazing Saddles
  6. The Outlaw Josey Wales
  7. Fight Club

Seven Things I Cannot Do (or jus' don' wanna!)

  1. Give a speech
  2. Follow sports
  3. Enjoy working for someone else
  4. Dance
  5. Eat shellfish
  6. Enjoy un-melted cheese
  7. Live with cats without a mountain of medicine

Seven Things To Do Before I Die
I can't think of a thing that, if I never got to do it, would leave me feeling incomplete. Maybe I should find something like that...

Seven Things That Attract Me To... Blogging!

  1. It's not work
  2. It's not TV
  3. The smart people
  4. The idiots
  5. The arguments
  6. The venting
  7. The interesting things I find and share

Seven Things I Say Most Often

  1. What The Fuck?
  2. Where's the cat at?
  3. It's the pedal on the right - the skinny one
  4. It must be Teach Blind People To Drive Day!
  5. I don't wanna [go to work in the morning]
  6. Anything special you'd like for dinner ?
  7. Hi, Wife and Cat!

Seven Impractical Things I Think Would Be Really Cool Anyway

  1. An automatic car wash you could install in your home garage
  2. A laser lawnmower
  3. A municipal gas distribution system - like for water, but with gasoline
  4. Someone to go to meetings for me and nod along at the appropriate times.
  5. Audio-in jacks in easily-accessible places for car stereos
  6. Hidden, but easily-accesible wiring tracts in every room of the house - so tasks like adding speakers in a room wouldn't require cutting holes in walls
  7. A worldwide network that would let me securely communicate with any computer or other device that I was authorized to access.

I can't possibly think of seven people to tag... so, if you want to play, consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Take it off, eh

CNN reports:
    In a landmark decision Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Canada lifted a ban on swingers' clubs, ruling that group sex among consenting adults is neither prostitution nor a threat to society.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 50mm

Sunday, December 25, 2005

iTunes + Win2000 = Angry Hateful Christmas Day!

I got Mrs Cleek an iPod Nano for Christmas - and wow are they cool looking. Today I tried to set it up on her PC. I installed iTunes; iTunes asked if we wanted to reboot to finsih the install process; I said Yes.

Windows never came back up. I unplugged the iPod and tried again. Nothing. I unplugged everything non-essential (leaving keyboard, mouse and monitor), and tried again. Nothing. I tried booting to the "Last Known Good" configuration. Nothing. Tried booting to Safe Mode. Nothing. I searched the web to see if this had happened to anyone else. It has. It's quite common, actually, and has been a problem with iTunes and Win2K since at least 2003.

I called Apple to see if they had a fix. Fifteen minute wait. The first girl had never heard of the problem and gave me to someone else who had heard of the problem and who cheerfully suggested I re-install Windows 2000. I declined.

A little more Googling turned up this, which suggests a conflict in Win2K between Adaptec's Easy CD Creator v4 (which was installed) and iTunes. Solution: unplug the CD-RW drive, reboot, uninstall iTunes and/or Adaptec. That will let me boot again. Now to see if I can boot after reinstalling iTunes and reconnecting the CD-RW drive.


I can.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Meme Of Fours

I'm not popuar enough to get tagged for these things, but I love to play them anyway:

Four jobs you've had in your life: ice factory worker, stockboy at Barbara Moss, janitor at a Salvation Army, President of a corporation.

Four movies you could watch over and over: Star Wars (IV), My Cousin Vinny, Full Metal Jacket, Monty Python's Holy Grail.

Four places you've lived: Corning, NY; Wellsboro, PA; Newmarket, NH; Wells, ME. All before the age of 4.

Four TV shows you love to watch: The Daily Show, The Family Guy, Antiques Roadshow, Alias.

Four places you've been on vacation: Hawaii; Ambergris Kay, Belize; Maastricht, Netherlands; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Four websites you visit daily: Atrios, Boing Boing, The Code Project, Straight Dope.

Four of your favorite foods: apple pie, Apple Jacks, apples, pizza.

Four places you'd rather be: Beaufort, NC; Holland; in bed; Lake George, NY.

I tag Gordon & The Fixer.

(via Digby)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

I'm just an average guy with an average life
I work from nive to five, hey hell I pay the price
But I want is to be left alone in my average home
But why do I always feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone

I always feel that somebody's watchin' me
And I have no privacy
I always feel that somebody's watchin' me
Is it just a dream?

In a piece called Our Domestic Intelligence Crisis, an idiot at the Washington Post says:

    The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act makes it difficult to conduct surveillance of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents unless they are suspected of being involved in terrorist or other hostile activities. That is too restrictive. Innocent people, such as unwitting neighbors of terrorists, may, without knowing it, have valuable counterterrorist information.

When I come home at night
I bolt the door real tight
People call me on the phone I'm trying to avoid
Well, can the people on TV see me or am I just paranoid

    The goal of national security intelligence is to prevent a terrorist attack, not just punish the attacker after it occurs, and the information that enables the detection of an impending attack may be scattered around the world in tiny bits. A much wider, finer-meshed net must be cast than when investigating a specific crime. Many of the relevant bits may be in the e-mails, phone conversations or banking records of U.S. citizens, some innocent, some not so innocent. The government is entitled to those data, but just for the limited purpose of protecting national security.

That idiot, by the way, is also a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

When I'm in the shower, I'm afraid to wash my hair
I might open my eyes and find someone standing there
People say I'm crazy, just a little touched
But maybe showers remind me of Psycho too much
That's why...

I always feel like somebody's watching me
Who's playing tricks on me
I always feel like somebody's watching me
Tell me it can't be

I don't know anymore
Are the neighbors watching me
Well is the mailman watching me
And I don't feel safe anymore, oh what a mess
I wonder who's watching me now?
The IRS?

    The only valid ground for forbidding human inspection of such data is fear that they might be used to blackmail or otherwise intimidate the administration's political enemies. That danger is more remote than at any previous period of U.S. history. Because of increased political partisanship, advances in communications technology and more numerous and competitive media, American government has become a sieve. No secrets concerning matters that would interest the public can be kept for long. And the public would be far more interested to learn that public officials were using private information about American citizens for base political ends than to learn that we have been rough with terrorist suspects -- a matter that was quickly exposed despite efforts at concealment.

You can trust us, we're the government! Well no, you can't trust us to run a national health care system, that's different. But you can trust us to know everything about everything everybody does, any time we want, with no oversight or public disclosure. And trust us, we'll never mix national security and domestic politics, besides, we're entitled to know all that stuff. It's our country - you just live here.

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I always feel like somebody's watching me
Who's playing tricks on me
I always feel like somebody's watching me
I can't enjoy my tea!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Sprague Lake

Nikon N80, Fuji Superia 400, Grayscaled in Photoshop

Monday, December 19, 2005

Start your iPods

This week, the iPos starts me off with:

  1. Cowboy Junkies - Lay It Down. Love the song, but it's a pretty bleak way to start the day.
  2. Led Zeppelin - Ten Years Gone. It's like sitting in a room with three Jimmy Pages!
  3. Slint - For Dinner. So much empty space, this song barely exists.
  4. White Stripes - I Think I Smell A Rat. Hillarious.
  5. Buena Vista Social Club - El Carretero
  6. Interpol - Length Of Love
  7. Sonic Youth - Marylin Moore
  8. White Stripes - Forever For Her
  9. Horseflies - Hush Little Baby. Psychedelic bluegrass...
  10. Rogue Wave - Be Kind & Remind

Wow, no Robyn Hitchcock this time!

Hate my job.

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Hitherby Dragons

    'We could poke the jar with a stick,' Emily says.

    'This is a proposal with many possible outcomes,' Sid points out.

    Emily considers. She glares up at the jar

I have discovered something wonderful. It is called Hitherby Dragons. It's like the legendary Fafblog, but deeper... or something; my descriptioning is inadequate. Try this: if you like Fafblog's little philosophical vignettes (that I wish they did more of), you'll probably like Hitherby Dragons.

I know what I'm doing at work tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Eye Poppy

Nikon D100, 105mm macro

Monday, December 12, 2005

Because I could not stop for Gilligan

via Ticklish Ideas:

    Start your humming:

      Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
      a tale of a fateful trip.
      That started from this tropic port,
      aboard this tiny ship.

      The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
      the skipper brave and sure.
      Five passengers set sail that day,
      for a three hour tour,
      a three hour tour

    Now, switch lyrics but keep the same tune:

      Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
      That saved a wretch like me
      I once was lost but now am found,
      Was blind but now I see
      Was blind but now I see

      T'was Grace that taught...
      my heart to fear.
      And Grace, my fears relieved.
      How precious did that Grace appear...
      the hour I first believed.

    It works on hymn-influenced verse too, see:

      Because I could not stop for Death—
      He kindly stopped for me—
      The Carriage held but just Ourselves—
      And Immortality.
      We slowly drove—He knew no haste
      And I had put away
      My labor and my leisure too,
      For His Civility—
      -Emily Dickenson

Oh how I love me some Gilligan's Island.


Just this morning I was telling myself I knew a lot of apple varieties. I was fooling myself.

Start Your iPods

And this week, we start with:

  • Adrian Belew - Addidas in Heat. Adrian at his wackiest... not always a good thing.
  • Steely Dan - The Royal Scam . 6.5 mins.
  • Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely. Seems sad and lonely without the rest of its album around it. 8 mins.
  • Sunny Day Real Estate - How It Feels To Be Something On
  • Pavement - Here (Peel Session). "I was dressed for Suck!"
  • Belly - Someone To Die For
  • The Cure - A Strange Day. From their bleakest album, Pornography.
  • Sonic Youth - Sugar Kane. I miss the good Sonic Youth.
  • Sea and Cake - Parasol (live). Ah, winter 93.
  • White Stripes - Take, Take, Take. Finally, a song from this decade.

We all know what this means... hate my job.

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 50mm

Today, The Wife makes a guest appearance - and a lovely one at that.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Old Esquire Cartoons

I found these cartoons, last night, on the back of an old Esquire pinup (shown here as the "Sentimental" cartoon) which I bought at a used book store years ago. There's no date on the page, but I'm guessing they're from the late 40's early 50's.

And then there's this crazy Camel ad from 1936:
    "It's swell the way they make food taste better and set better."


I bought this ad at the same time I bought the pinup, above. And like that one, I hadn't seen the back side until last night. When I took this one out of its little plastic sleeve, I looked on the back and saw that it apparently ran on the inside of the front cover of a magazine called the "Nonsenser". Couldn't find any info about it on the web, though.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Because we successfully finished a project for a large and important customer, our manager took us out to lunch at a Brazilian steakhouse yesterday. Contrary to what I was expecting, there was no waxing involved. Instead, there was a large salad bar full of things you don't find in the typical salad bar: fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, eggplant, etc.. It was really more of an antipasti bar than a salad bar, since it was intended as a small first course, not as a way to fill up on lettuce and gobs of creamy ranch dressing.

After we finished our salads, we turned the handy "Yes, Please", "No Thanks" discs next to our plate to "Yes, Please", as instructed. And at that point, the Parade of Meat began.

First, a guy came out with two huge meat-laden skewers: one with small pork sausages, one with pieces of chicken. I took one of each. Delicious! Then another man appeared with a huge grilled and skewered leg of lamb; he carved me off a slice of that. Lambtastic! A couple minutes later, a man came out with a skewered flank steak; I had a slice of that. Garlicky! Then another guy with a huge grilled skirt steak - I was starting to feel very very full, so I asked for a small piece; instead, he gave me a huge 3/4lb chunk of very rare, blood-dripping, flesh. The tablecloth was splattered with drops of hot blood. My corner of the table looked like a crime scene. Nonetheless, I started in on it. Then I flipped my disc to "No Thanks" and began to moan, engorged. Then a guy came out with bacon-wrapped filets; now how could I say no to that ? Then, another guy came out with the final meat, the restaurant's specialty: steak! Top sirloin steak, in fact. It was excellent! So, that makes seven meats, not counting the salmon and pork (from the black beans, pork and rice) I got from the salad bar. Then there was dessert.

I didn't eat another thing for 19 hours. I am a true glutton.

(title thanks to Hilkka)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Start your iPods

This work week, the iPods starts with:

  1. Apollo Sunshine - Lord
  2. Blonde Redhead - I Don't Want U
  3. Miles Davis - The Theme (take 2)
  4. Robyn Hitchcock - Winchester
  5. Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited . I knew PJ Harvey's version first, and liked it a lot at the time. But the original is just so much better.
  6. Steely Dan - Aja. Ahh... smooth.
  7. Liz Phair - Dogs of L.A.
  8. Throwing Muses - Snake
  9. The Kinks - Milk Cow Blues
  10. Beck - Nobody's Fault But My Own

And so on..

Monday Cat Blogging

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Today, a bobcat at the NC Zoo.
Tricksey will return next week.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Wrathful Dispersion controversy

Was it divine intervention or gradual evolution ? A Canadian Perspective.

    The opponents of Wrathful Dispersion maintain that it is really just Babelism, rechristened so that it might fly under the radar of those who insist that religion has no place in the state-funded classroom. Babelism was clearly rooted in the Judeo-Christian story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1–9); it held that the whole array of modern languages was created by God at a single stroke, for the immediate purpose of disrupting humanity's hubristic attempt to build a tower that would reach to heaven: "Let us go down," God says to Himself, "and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Wrathful Dispersion is couched in more cautiously neutral language; rather than tying linguistic diversity to a specific biblical event, it merely argues that the differences among modern languages are too perverse to have arisen spontaneously, and must therefore be the work of some wrathful (and powerful) disperser who deliberately set out to accomplish a confusion of tongues.

I laugh. I'm a geek.

(via ObWi)

One up, one down

I heard the news today, oh boy.

I heard from my father that one of my high school friends whom I haven't spoken to since graduation day, 17 years ago, went to college for some combination of aviation and architecture and is now the lead engineer on some project at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. Wow. Good for him.

And, I heard that another of my high school friends, whom I think I saw once, the year after graduation, was just arrested for persuading two girls, 11 and 17, into having sex, and for distributing photographs of the event, a.k.a. producing and distributing child pornography. Whew. That sucks. He was a good guy, when I knew him back in high school; a bit of a trouble-maker, smart, bored with school, musically gifted and restless (ya know, a high school kid). We were pretty close, and I never would've guessed he'd do anything like that. But, I guess a lot can change in the time it takes to double your age.

The blogger in me wants to link to the on-line newspaper article, simply because bloggers like to reference the things they talk about, when there's a link available. But the rest of me is a mixture of shame, fear of being associated (even 17 years out), sadness, and most importantly wanting to spare his family whatever possible grief any more attention could bring.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The protest singer, he's singing a protest song

Jason Zengerle to Conor Oberst (of Bright Eyes), you're no Dylan.

Fair enough, but the title of the piece is "Why there's no good protest music anymore[?]". To me, that says the author just isn't listening to much nwe music. Off the top of my head:

  • Stereolab - their lyrics are packed full of protest against war and economic and social injustice. Yes, they're overtly Marxist and half-French, but they're still protesting.
  • Most of hip-hop. Once you lop off the Top-40 and silly macho bling shit, you're left with a lot of rappers rapping seriously about racial injustice, and economic issues. Public Enemy, the Beastie Boys, NWA, Black Star, Tribe Called Quest. Eminem's "Mosh".
  • Green Day - "American Idiot" ?
  • Sleater-Kinney
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Steve Earl
  • John Mellencamp - a lot of his non-'hit' songs are about the slow decay of the American mid-west.
  • John Prine - his whole career.

I'm sure there are a half-dozen more sitting in my iPod. No, they're not Dylan, but even Bob himself wasn't that Dylan his entire career.

(via Matt Yglesias)

Top Thirty Facts About Chuck Norris

    #10: If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris you may be only seconds away from death.

    #11: Chuck Norris once ate three 72 oz. steaks in one hour. He spent the first 45 minutes having sex with his waitress.

Go read them all, now.

The MR T version is good, too:
    #2: Every time a church bell rings, Mr. T pities a fool.

    #29: Despite popular belief, if there is a fool in the woods, and nobody is around to hear his jibba jabba, Mr. T is still able to pity him.

Oh, and the Vin Diesel one is good, as well:
    #4: There is no "I" in team. There are two "I"s in Vin Diesel. Fuck you, team.

    #7: When the Boogeyman goes to sleep every night he checks his closet for Vin Diesel.

    #38: Vin Diesel invented black. In fact, he invented the entire spectrum of visible light. Except pink. Tom Cruise invented pink.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

More Scientologist Evolution

Yesterday's Scientology exploration was interesting. But I want to know more! So, let's go right to the source: L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology:

    It is fairly well accepted in these times that life in all forms evolved from the basic building blocks, the virus and the cell. Its only relevance to dianetics is that such a proposition works — and actually that is all we ask of dianetics. There is no point to writing here a past tome on biology and evolution. We can add some chapters to those things, but Charles Darwin did his job well, and the fundamental principles of evolution can be found in his and other works.

    L. Ron. Hubbard, from his book, Dianetics

OK, not bad. But, that was early in his career. He changes his tune later on:

    The effort to explain life in terms of orgainisms adjusting to their environment leads to hopeless confusion. But when it is assumed that the orgainism is adjusting the environment to it, everything falls into place with great ease.

    -- Quotations from L. Ron Hubbard on the matter of Evolution

Err... Yeah, and if we all shut our eyes tight and click our heels together at the same time, we'll all meet in Kansas. But, there's more! Here's Hubbard again:

    Evolution: there's no such thing. Bodies don't evolve. They deteriorate, but they don't evolve. You can trace all kinds of reasons how they evolve, and why they evolve, and you can figure it all out, but the truth of the matter is when you get horses on a planet, somebody came along and mocked up some horses! Now, they also mocked up these horses with the capability of growing hair or not growing hair. You've got adjustment factors, but not evolution factors. So you confuse the adjustment factors and prove the whole theory of evolution. And now you know man came from mud, and you can write a book like Pavlov and get the whole world poisoned. You see how this one goes?

    All of this is based on what? It's based on errors in time. Errors in time. Because an individual has this incident: It's a wrong time, wrong place, going wrong the whole way, and it took up two hours and actually looks like it takes up seven million, see? There are such incidents.

The boy done lost his shit.

Much of that is quoted here, on an interesting page that traces Hubbard's evolving view of evolution and the origins of Man, and includes some of his writings on the CLAM and the SLOTH and the current state of Scientology's view of evolution. Spolier: Scientology is Fucked Up.

I guess that puts Scientology firmly in the category of things you'll want to throw in the face of any Intelligent Design advocate who thinks we need to teach children alternative ways of explaining the origins of man. "Here's an alternative. Let's teach them about the CLAMS and the BIRDS:"
    "Occasionally the creatures of the beach, still shell animals, had their troubles with birds which had become so earlier [sic]. Birds of a very crude construction developed a taste for clams. Clams had no adequate defence against them. If a clam opened its shell, the bird would thrust in a beak or a claw. If the clam then closed, the bird would fly up into the air. The clam would let go, drop on a rock and become bird food. If the clam didn't close, it became bird food anyway.

    Falling sensations, indecision and other troubles go with the BIRDS."
    -- LRH

Do you need rustproofing with that ?

Avoid PriceRitePhoto, if you're buying camera equipment on-line. They apparently run a classic bait and switch operation: they advertise cameras at well below retail and if you try to buy one, they try to sell you high-priced accessories. And, if you don't bite, they'll refuse to ship the camera and threaten to sue you, or have you arrested, or charge huge 'restocking fees', or ask you to sign contracts where they'll charge your CC if you post negative reviews, etc.. And, they apparently do business under many different names. Joy.

They're Brooklyn-based, as are many other shady mail-order camera stores. Here is a big gallery of pictures of the storefronts of a bunch of Brooklyn camera stores. Many of them are just homes, or mail drops, or back rooms.

Even though they're also NYC-based, I've had very good luck with B&H and Adorama - they're not all scammers.

Da Bear

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

NC Zoo

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.