Saturday, November 24

Thursday, November 15

Apple web site humor

Go to and enter "virus" in the search box. The little dynamic search popup is rather amusing:

Yes, that is a real screen snap from my own desktop.

Monday, November 12

Archaeological humor

Proof even academics have a sense of humor:

Zombie Attack at Hierakonpolis
by Renée Friedman

Weighing the evidence for and dating of Solanum virus outbreaks in early Egypt

Wednesday, September 19


Ahoy!'s been impressed, mateys!

You can do it, too! Just go to and click on the "Arr!" language link at the bottom of the page.

Tuesday, September 18


Featured drink at the Portland Women's Crisis Line Gala next Friday is the EmpowerMint - vodka, lemonade and fresh mint. For each one sold the PWCL receives $3 (total cost is $7).

Mmmm ... sounds yummy. I've also heard a rumor that some of the Rose City Rollers will be present delivering drinks on skates(?!).

I am so there.

Ticket price: $25 in advance, $35 at the door
21 years & over, full bar
The Wonder Ballroom
128 NE Russell St Portland OR 97212

Monday, September 17

Take that, you bully!

To all those folks out there griping about "kids these days":

Central Kings students wear pink to send bullies a message


Wednesday, September 5

Home maintenance, choose your weapon

I was doing some electrical wiring in the still-unfinished part of our basement this weekend. As I pulled a chunk of romex over the exposed support beam above my head, I heard a scraping sound briefly from the top of the beam. I felt something sharp bounce off the top of my head and clatter on the floor with a metallic "ping!".

A rusty old straight razor sans handle.

Yikes! Fortunately, the non-sharp end hit my head. Still, it was a bit unsettling to look down to see a three inch straight razor blade. It appears to have been there quite some time, possibly since the original owner (ca. 1926). It seems to me to be a rather odd place to stash one's razor, though - on top of one of the two major beams that supports the main floor.

It could be worse ... our neighbors found a ca. 1900 revolver inside a wall when they ripped the plaster off for a remodel.

Monday, August 27

Bye bye 'Bertie!

So long Mr. Gonzales, I can't say my civil liberties will miss you.

When John Ashcroft was first appointed I never would have thought we could have a worse Attorney General than the guy who could lose an election to a dead man. Of course, I also thought to myself after the 2000 Presidential election, "It can't be that bad, how much damage can one man do in four years?" I suppose I should thank Mr. Gonzales for correcting my error much like his boss did.

One has to wonder, however, if this is purely to get him (and Carl Rove) out of the public eye far enough ahead of the upcoming elections in the hope that the notoriously-fickle voting public will forget just how badly the current junta has mangled our government?

Friday, August 17

Garbage fairies?

There is a running joke in our household about the "laundry fairies". You know, the ones who go around washing and folding the laundry when you're not looking? Close cousins to the "kitchen fairies". Yeah, those. Well, they seem to be on strike in our household. I thought we were paying nice union scale wages, but apparently they disagree. Either that or they don't like the nonfat milk we put out with the cookies and want whole instead.

Regardless, apparently there are now garbage fairies, too. Who'd'a thunk it? I got into work this morning, sat down at my desk and started hacking away. At some point mid-morning I looked down and noticed something new not two inches from my left foot - a little black garbage can. See, my office was a bit ... bare ... when I first moved in. There was a desk. And nothing else. No chair, no garbage can, nothing. So the chair thing needed to be fixed immediately, since it's rather hard to reach the keyboard drawer standing up, but the lack of a garbage can wasn't a great inconvenience. I never thought to pick one up except when sitting at my desk, so I'd been sans wastebasket for some time.

I am convinced the garbage fairies, offended that I might be avoiding them, snuck into my office this morning and placed a handy little wastebasket next to my foot where I couldn't help but notice their helpful hint.

Thursday, July 12

Wheels and feet

Hey all you runners and cyclists out there:

Please try to be considerate of those of us who also use the sidewalks and streets. If you're on wheels, get off the sidewalk. There is a perfectly good street right there meant for vehicles - including bicycles. If you're on foot (and this includes you runners), get on the sidewalk and out of traffic - that's what the sidewalk is for.

The only thing worse than trying not to flatten some speed bump in training jogger in the middle of the street is diving out of the way of some homicidal cyclist screaming down the sidewalk.

I'm not a runner, so I don't get the "never mind there's a perfectly good sidewalk 10' away, I'd rather run right down the middle of the street" thing. I walk a lot of places, though, and have been quite pleased with the quality and quantity of Portland's sidewalks. You runners should try them out sometime.

As a bike commuter, however, it really gets on my nerves that inconsiderate cyclists give the rest of us a bad name. If you're not walking your bike, get off the sidewalk. Portland is a very bike-friendly city with lots of bike lanes on its streets - use them!

As a (rare as possible) driver, I don't mind going around bikes in the street. After all, they're legal vehicles, too. But I really get annoyed at joggers who run down the middle of the street and 1) refuse to get out of the way of bikes and cars and 2) get annoyed that anyone else would dare use their street. See that sidewalk? Yeah, that one. Use it.

Is this just a Portland thing? Or is it everywhere?

Wednesday, July 11

Sign on a lunch cart

Closed today. Too damn hot. Gone surfing.

Damn, I wish I could get away with that!

Tuesday, July 10

Funny web site

This has to be one of the funniest Flash-based web sites I've ever seen:

It's enough to make me want to go see the movie when it opens at the Hollywood Theater later this month.

Saturday, July 7

"This is War"

A's father and A and I went to go see "This is War" at the Hollywood Theatre this evening.


"This is War" is a remarkable non-political documentary about the experiences of an Oregon National Guard unit in their own words using their own video. With the near-ubiquity of digital video recording devices and Internet connectivity, this is the first war where those of us back home can see what the soldiers are seeing in near-realtime. This film captures the essence of what it is to be an infantry soldier in Iraq: hot, dusty, boring, terrifying, bloody.

The film relies primarily on the words of the soldiers themselves. Both on video they shot themselves while in Iraq, as well as in interviews after they returned home. The images are shockingly violent, the language unsurprisingly profane, and the message ambiguous. It's absolutely not something I'd want to show to young children. On the other hand, it's exactly the sort of thing the teens and adults of this country need to see.

The film doesn't try to tell the audience what to think, rather it attempts to portray the soldiers' experience as vividly and accurately as possible. While I think it succeeds for the most part, I think the violence was somewhat toned down for the film to make it more palatable for a wider, largely-sheltered American audience. I walked out of the theater after the film certain the segments on Fallujah did not include all the footage it could have. On the other hand, had they included more graphic violence, the filmmakers would have risked alienating their potential audience and negating the film's purpose.

All in all, I think the film was excellently-done. Absolutely worth seeing. Bravo to the filmmakers for producing a gripping and respectful portrayal of these soldiers' experiences.

Wednesday, June 6

Compassionate care

Needless to say, we've been seeing a lot of our vet Dr. Jeffrey Judkins over the past six months while M fought her illness. He endured angst-ridden pages from us at all hours of the night, phone consultations on the weekends, endless different medications - we counted more than 30 bottles of both Western pharmacutecals and Eastern herbs and homeopathic remedies - while trying to help our beloved feline family member recover. I've always been impressed with his (and his wonderful staff's) professional ability and his compassion, but he did something today that we never would have expected: he sent us flowers.

I am astounded. Sometimes the smallest unexpected gesture can have an impact far beyond expectations. Something so simple, yet profound in its indication of how much Dr. Judkins cares about the people he sees (both two and four-footed people). When was the last time your doctor sent you anything but a bill?

Dr. Judkins and everyone at the Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic, from M and A and I thank you for your exemplary care and compassion.

For all the rest of you out there in the Portland area with four-footed family members, I can't recommend the folks at Hawthorne Veterinary Clinic enough for their holistic and expert care. They're the best.

Sunday, June 3

M has left the building


Her Highness will no longer be holding court at CarbFest. No more Secret Sam Messages.

After eleven wonderful years as part of our family, she has moved on. She spent the day yesterday purring and napping on her perch in a sunny window. Early this morning it was clear that it was time. She told us so. After a six-month battle with what we think was a liver tumor, she died at home in A's lap at 5:00 this morning.

Thank you for gracing us with your presence. I hope we proved worthy.

Wednesday, May 23


I'm not sure what to think of this: Insurgency. Some clearly very talented game designers have taken the game engine that runs the very popular game Half-Life 2 and created an incredibly realistic-looking first-person simulation of the current war in Iraq.

I've played and enjoyed several first-person shooter games over the years, but they've always been clearly fictional (usually sci-fi, historical fiction, or fantasy) where it is easy to draw the line between virtual and real, between fiction and fact. I am uncomfortable with turning the very real carnage in Iraq into a game. It demeans and belittles the ongoing tragedy there. Blurring the lines between games and reality is a slippery slope - it makes it too easy to look at the images and stories coming out of the Middle East and not feel anything.

On the other hand, the trailer starts out silent with an interesting quote in stark white on a black background:
When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood, it is hard to shake hands with her.
-Oscar Wilde
The images that follow in the trailer show just how brutal and graphic modern 3-D rendering engines can be with chillingly-realistic blood spatter and physics juxtaposed with text like:
300,000 American troops ... not greeted as liberators ... but as invaders
As if the designers are expressing some sort of anti-war message.

Watching the trailer, I couldn't tell if the text commentary was just hype in a crass attempt to stir up controversy over the game and thereby garnering more attention (and therefore more downloads), or whether the game itself really is intended as something to expose the American public to the brutality of the war.

The technophile in me says it's a creative use of technology to accomplish the latter.

The cynic in me says the former.

Monday, April 9

Cancer cancer everywhere

Apparently the old adage about good things coming in threes also has its counterpoint.

I found out on Friday that my aunt has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She's my mother's youngest sister. The fact that she's been diagnosed with the very thing my mother died of is more than a little unsettling.

Our dear friends Kaphine and RealSuperGirl sent out word that they were coming back to this coast unexpectedly to see Kaphine's father, who is currently dying of cancer and has taken a turn for the worse.

TeacherRefPoet posted about a student of his who recently lost her battle with leukemia.

Thursday, March 22

Gray Eubanks, we miss you terribly!

Sorry, April. We tried to give you a chance to get better. We tried to give you time to get over your inexperience while you stumble your way through our morning news on Oregon Public Broadcasting. We knew Gray was an impossibly hard act to follow, so we tried to cut you some slack. But after two years of listening to you constantly get it wrong, two years of being relieved when you go on vacation and we get a guest host, two years of completely incomprehensible traffic and wearther reports, the honeymoon is over. We want Gray back.

This morning I tuned in to listen to the beginning of the BBC's live broadcast of World Have your Say from our beloved Bagdad Theater. I was mortified to hear you completely blow the introduction as it was broadcast to the world. No, the Bagdad is not "gothic" (I'd call it Art Deco, if anything) and any Portland resident worth her salt would know that it's not owned by the manager Sue, but rather one of the McMenamin brothers' local chain of brew pubs. I turned the radio off at that point. I couldn't take any more.

Gray, please come back to us! We of the Portland Morning Addiction audience miss you terribly! We miss your humor. We miss your ability to get the facts straight. Most of all, we miss your delightfully snarky comments. Please! We're begging you!

Friday, March 16

Best. Post. Evar.

Oh, my. I haven't laughed this hard in days. Check out this comment posted on a ZDNet blog:
You are kidding arent you ?
Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?

That sounds preposterous to me.

If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a very difficult thing to acheive. A lot of people dont realise this.

Microsoft just spent $9 billion and many years to create Vista, so it does not sound reasonable that some new alternative could just snap into existence overnight like that. It would take billions of dollars and a massive effort to achieve. IBM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft.

Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer fron start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible.

I think you need to re-examine your assumptions.
Posted by: jerryleecooper Posted on: 03/14/07

Maybe I shouldn't have hitched my career to this cart being pulled by a funny-looking penguin named Tux?

Wednesday, February 7

Hate mail

I received the most appalling e-mail today. It was from a deeply religious friend who I love dearly, even though she tends to go a bit overboard at times. You know the type: won't say anything stronger than "gosh", gushes voluminously over babies and pictures of puppies, whose entire existence revolves around her children and grandchildren. Basically a sweet dear person whom I thought did not have a mean bone in her body.

All of which makes this e-mail all the more shocking. It was one of those messages with a dozen "Fw:" tags in the subject. Clearly it has been making the rounds for some time. These are not my friend's words, but rather a message she agreed with enough to bother forwarding on to us.

The e-mail started out angry:

Are we fighting a war on terror or aren't we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001?

Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation's capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania?

Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn't they?

And I'm supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was "desecrated" when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet?

Well, I don't. I don't care at all.

Then it got worse. Far worse. Bad enough that I do not want to give it the credibility of posting it all here. It goes on to a vitriolic list of "I'll care when ..." statements that condone hatred, torture, and death inflicted upon the people of Iraq.

I am aghast. I am disgusted. I am astounded that statements like these can be made openly in our society without even the slightest sense of shame - quite the opposite, in fact. This message has clearly been making the rounds wrapped in pride and so-called "patriotism" and has found many supporters who agree with it.

Never mind that even the most extreme pro-war proponents in the government now admit that Al Qaeda was not, in fact, connected with Iraq.

Never mind that conservative estimates put the civilian death toll in Iraq at more than fifty thousand people. (A two-year-old CNN story puts it closer to 100,000 civilian deaths).

Never mind that the "Holy Bible" the message refers to so prominently clearly directs its adherents not to hate, but to love your enemies. As do many of the world's religions.

But saying these things here won't do any good. It won't do anything to educate the writer or the people who agreed enough with the message to forward it on. Rebutting the writer's profoundly offensive invective here with this audience will not show the writer that there is no place in our society for such hatred. Preaching to the choir here isn't going to show the world that the citizens of the USA are not all bigoted, jingoistic fiends whose focus is to kill anyone who does not subscribe to their worldview.

I feel the need to speak up. To do something. But I do not want to sacrifice a friendship by throwing more gasoline on the already-massive conflagration. Simply responding to the e-mail is likely to either close off that avenue of communication, or incite yet more flames. A face-to-face confrontation will seem like an attack on their beliefs. How does one fight hatred without stooping to that level? How do we as rational and caring human beings and members of society let someone know that what they think is patriotism is really hate wrapped in a flag without becoming part of the problem?

Friday, February 2

Portland slides away

Last month, while the national news was apoplectic over the ice storm that swept through the southern plains of the US, we had a reminder of what can happen here in Portland:

... and that was just a plain old snowstorm. Y'all remember Portland silver thaws? Or those lovely ice storms we get every 5 years or so? I wonder why we never make the news like that?