Oh, heh

ted | junk | Monday, April 9th, 2007

One of the side effects of getting dressed in the dark is unusual and unexpected clothing combinations. Mismatched socks, shirts with obvious-in-daylight rips (only once and at the elbow so far) and bizarre color combinations are the norm.

I’m an engineer, none of that stuff bothers me. Were you to write a description for your standard engineer, it would be something along the lines of “plaid shirt, stupid hair, least stylish shoes ever” yet we seem to plod along in our daily lives and bring home the bacon. But today I finally figured out what was wrong with my wardrobe (blue shirt, darker blue pants, grey socks, black steel toe shoes) about 20 minutes ago.

My underwear are on backwards.

Outside, it is snowing again.

five for fightin’, another another followup

ted | junk | Monday, March 19th, 2007

From Mrs. Bex Von Recentlybewifed, five questions.

1. I think we have compatible enough senses of humor, yet I do not see the appeal of Trailer Park Boys. Is it one of those things you have to warm up to or what? How did you even start watching it?

I think the reason I found it so piss-in-my-pants funny was that I grew up in a tiny rural north Georgia town and I knew quite a lot of folks that lived in trailers that would easily pass for a more humid version of Sunnyvale. The attraction goes beyond that, it’s that the show is at both very familiar yet uniquely Canadian. It’s sort of like watching The Kids In The Hall in that they do things differently than we do SNL, yet it’s still funny (even funnier, if you ask me) but familiar.

I heard about it from perdedor and CowboyNeal, neither of them have steered me wrong. I actually started watching Season 2 and didn’t go back to pick up Season 1 until later. The latter helps explain everything better but the former is far and away funnier.

And yes, it’s something you’ve got to get into to understand the relationships and intertwined lives. Until then you’ve got Bubbles’ kitties and Ricky’s constant mispronunciations to keep you amused. I know folks say that about shows that are simply trite, stupid and tedious (24, The Office (Duhhmurican edition), any soap opera, 30 Rock, etc).

2. Do you feel your relationship changed at all when you got married or was it just business as usual afterwards?

For the most part it has been business as usual, but sometimes it really hits me that we have taken a vow in front of Dayton and everybody to stick together. In ways this really makes me more at ease since I feel like there’s less of an imperative to work out disagreements ASAP and to let them take their own time.

Other than some paperwork here and there, things are more-or-less the same as they were before. It is awfully comforting, though, to know we’ve promised each other and everybody what attended that we’re sticking together til the reaper has his way.

3. What things have you killed in your lifetime?

A lot of pets that were severely injured had their shuffle off this mortal coil hastened by this native son of Dixie. A whole lot of stray animals, too, mostly cats and dogs – nearly all of them were very sick or injured and none had collars or tags. Probably a few crows. Oh, possums. So many possums. I house sat for a week during college while my parents were on vacation and shot at least 15 possums in just a few nights. Evil, ugly bastards. Their eyes glow a beastly orange when you’re looking down the scope of a .22LR at 2am with a Mag-Lite held against the cold blue barrel.

Cats’ and dogs’ eyes are usually green in the same situation. Just so you know.

4. Do you pay attention to what is on people’s shelves and media storage when you visit their residences for the first time? Does this ever change your opinion of someone?

Absolutely. I’m nosy as hell the first couple times I’m at somebody’s house. I’m always thumbing through the magazines next to the terlit, opening the medicine cabinet, checking out their movies, scanning their bookshelves, etc. I think it absolutely could tell you something about somebody.

F’ristance, the first time I came over to xdjio’s pad, had I seen Black Panty Chronicles Vol. 6 next to a copy of a Dave Barry book or Young Republican Magazine, I would think he’s either a closeted pervert (YRM), some sort of mouth-breathing retardo (Barry) or trying to play a cruel trick on folks like me (BPCV6).

Even though I do this stuff, I also feel like filling my medicine cabinet full of marbles for the jerks that come over and do this to me.

5. Fried grits – too much of a good thing?

Not enough, I’d say. Fry ’em in bacon grease and serve with smoked very sharp white cheddar or gouda.

five for fightin’, another followup

ted | junk | Monday, March 19th, 2007

From the Desk of Hazen H. Hammel, Esq.

1. For the benefit of everyone who hasn’t heard this already, or to get it all in one place, what are you going to do with your Mega Millions?

Well, when I win my Mega Millons tomorrow night, I’ve got a pretty simple plan for dealing with my newfound wealth:

– Take care of all my debts, public and private. Pretty simple. What little credit card balance we have, cars, house, Nikki’s student loans, all gone. Probably also do the same for close family members and very close friends.

– Feather my nest. I honestly think this will necessitate a secondary residence as I’ve got some lofty goals. I like living in Chicago and I like my house but I’d like it a lot better if it was done the way I want it. Ultra insulated, solar cells on the roof, wind turbine on the garage, Lister 6/1 genset, batteries, grid-tie inverter, geothermal heating/cooling, make it as green as I can. Throw in the usual smattering of new computers, appliances & other furnishings.

– Start up my own company. Illinois Talkshow Nightmare Liquor Corporation? I dunno. Buy an old building, turn it into my personal shop. Furnish it with good tools that are made in the USA. Metal working, wood working, automotive, bicycle, motorcycle, whatever. Do preventative maintenence on friends’ vehicles for the cost of parts plus $1/hour shop rate (tax reasons). Have a biodiesel processor in the corner as well as a nice brewery setup. Throw LOTS of parties.

– Spread the wealth (small version). This is where the fun begins. I’d start out by taking a good look at my list of friends and acquaintences and their various skills. Then whenever I needed some help with anything they were good at, they’d get paid. If I required legal advice I might fly Mr. Hammel and his family up for a paid week in Chicago (in February XA XA XA). If I needed computer help, it might be Chris in Nashua or Jared in Crooklyn or my brother in the ATL. Video needs? I’m calling up the boys in Asstoria. All expenses paid help, cash. No need for this to rile up the revenuers.

– Spread the wealth (big version). Start a Southside Chicago development agency. Donate some big chunks to the Red Cross, NPR/NPB, ACLU, EFF, Doctors Without Borders, anybody that fights the good fight and isn’t a dick about it or skims off the top too much (COUGHCOUGHUNITEDWAYCOUGH).

Other than that? Sock enough in the bank to live off the interest, travel around to my heart’s content, order up a couple drums of Illinois Soybean Biodiesel to power the cars with and cold kick it live.

2. Assuming cost is not a factor, if you could buy a vacation home, lakeside cabin, or some such frippery anywhere within a 150 mile radius of your current estate, where and why and what would you do there?

It would be a small cabin out in the middle of nowhere in NW Illinois, preferably something built myself – maybe bale hay/mud or ram earth construction. Basically a getaway cabin sandwiched between soybean fields where there’s no computer, no grid power, no cell phone reception indoors (fine metal mesh in walls, clever). PV cells on the roof and a small wind turbine collecting free power, inverter & battery bank keeping enough around to give a little light to cook or read by, human powered water pump to fill a cistern and solar water heaters. Big fucking stacks of books and blank paper. Couple bicycles to tool around on. Yes, I am turning into Ted Kaczynski.

3. With the scene set from your answer to the last question, now I flip the Grateful Dead question right back atcha. Five songs.

This is a tough one and could change on a whim. But as of right now, here goes.

Althea, Jack Straw, St. Stephen, Dire Wolf, Turn on Your Lovelight.

4. Which is more of a threat to our precious American way of life: big agribusiness or big energy corps?

At this point there’s virtually no difference between the two. I would like to say big energy by a hair since we got that Texas oilman in the White House is doing us notorious wrong, but it’s hard not to see where big agriculture isn’t doing similar things.

5. I for one welcome our new Chinese overlords. You?

Having been there, they need to learn how to drive worth a damn before I’m too concerned with them taking us over. Then again, I say the same thing when I’m in California. Eventually I see a stage where manufacturing jobs start coming back to Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan instead of being continually exported. Maybe if what they’re doing now makes us a little leaner on the corporate side of things, it might be good. All in all I have little beef with them artificially depressing their currency’s value by roughly tying it to the almighty dollar and making their goods so much cheaper here. I think other countries need to get wise and start fighting fire with fire, though. China is simply playing by the rules it has been given. If it’s not fair, then the rules need to change. And I salute those Coke-taining Chinamen for doing so. Strange thing is they make such bloody good watches.

Yet another five for fightin’

ted | junk | Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

From Miz Icyhot:

1) How does Chicago differ from the American south? What differences do you like? What differences annoy you?

People in the Midwest are genuinely friendly, not the superficial xenophobic faux-nicety that Southerners typically exhibit. We actually get all four seasons here, roughly with the official calendar start of each season, which is cool. We’re on the edge of a whole lot of fresh water, something on the order of 12 cubic miles of it. That takes a while to get used to when you grew up with well water. You can also go swimming in it in the summer and not have to deal with all that salt or angry things trying to eat you.

There’s so much good food here. For reals. Plus when the corn comes in it’s so ridiculously cheap and tasty and holy fuck I would stab somebody for a couple ears of fresh silver queen sweet corn grilled in the husk and served with salt and lime. Daaaamn. So yeah, we grow a lot of good food, which is awesome when it comes in because it’s so fresh and cheap and delicious. Unfortunately it also means during the long dark winters that all the fruits & veggies come from Chile (ew) or California (ewwwww) and they’re expensive as hell.

People tend to celebrate the summers, and there’s so much to do during the warm months it’s very hard to get in everything that you want to. It almost makes up for the 4 months out of the year where staying outside for any length of time could very well kill you. Fortunately it also kills a whole lot of insects so we ain’t have to deal with as much of that up here. The land here is flat and fertile, quite a bit of a change from the rolling hills and red clay I grew up with.

All in all, I like it here a whole lot. Ask me which one I liked better when it’s -10F (-24C) with a 30mph wind or when it’s 104F (40C) here and I’d easily tell you that I never experienced temperature extremes like that in my native South. But I wouldn’t go back. I like it here too much.

2) What is your favorite kind of sammich?

For a while I was eating a lot of Nutella & banana sammiches. I enjoy a fried egg sammich once in a while, even on an english muffin for breakfast. Hell, I even made myself a peanut butter & bacon sammich one night. But all in all my favorite sammich has been and will always be a chunky peanut butter and cheap grape jelly on wheat bread.

3) What are the top three things on your Amazon Recommends list?

The Cardigans – Grand Turismo (CD, already own it)
The Evil Dead DVD (already own it)
Day of the Dead DVD (conspicuously absent from my movie collection)

4) Who would win in a cage match between Ann Coulter and Camille Paglia?

The cage, hopefully. Those two need to taste the justice dealt by galvanized steel.

5) What drew you to engineering and it is all it was promised to be?

As a kid, I always enjoyed taking stuff apart. Whenever a toy broke, I’d always rush to grab a screwdriver and get it down to bits and pieces. After a couple years of doing this and more than a few interesting toys that we broken on “accident”, I started to figure out how all these little bits worked together. After a couple more years I even figured out how to put them back together.

I also spent a lot of time hanging around while my dad worked on cars. Normal stuff, like changing oil & sparkplugs. Oh hey, engines! Carburators! Transmissions! Holy crap this stuff is complex… ok, slow down. Figure out what little subsystems do and how those subsystems connect to others which connect to other systems which make an engine.

I guess I always just found it interesting to figure out how stuff works and to take stuff apart and put it back together with your own hands.

Is it everything it promised to be? Well, yeah, I guess. You get out of it what you put into it. I’ve got the knowledge and skills to be able to design something, generate machine-shop ready CAD drawings and then to go out and run a mill, lathe & welder to make it. Having the education is great but without the hands-on skills to be able to do things would only make you a desk jockey.

five for fightin’, a followup

ted | junk | Monday, March 5th, 2007

Because I am an egomaniac, I didn’t perpend this to my last post:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “I too am an egomaniac.”
2. I’ll then respond by asking you up to five questions. You will answer them, because you like talking about yourself.
3. You will update your journal with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

I cannot promise that I will ask you witty, incisive questions. Some of you I just don’t know that well. I may be in a low mood that day or perhaps in one of my fits of stupendous laziness. But I will try. The line starts here, please be patient.

Five for fightin’

ted | junk | Saturday, March 3rd, 2007

Per the theme, Roninspoon asked and I shall answer.

1. Beer or Liqour?

Good question. I view them both as tools in a tool chest. Which one you use depends on what you want to get done. On a hot summer day one could enjoy either a couple cold beers or a pint glass of gin and tonic – both would help cool you off nicely but they do so different. Beer helps you out with much needed carbohydrates for long lasting energy, delivered by that wonderful elixir of hops, malt & barley. The gin and tonic, however, would not only help you with the extract of juniper but also to ward off malaria and muscle cramps with quinine.

On a cool, rainy fall afternoon, I think nothing beats a few fingers of single malt irish whiskey with just a splash of water to wake it up. Make the weather a bit cooler and nastier and I’d opt for something heavier, such as my preferred scotch, Laphroaig. It’s heavy peaty smokiness delivers more flavor than any beer could muster.

Lookin’ to nail some trailer park queen resplendent with bleached blonde hair and jet black roots? Bring out the shitty tequila. Bust out some Hennessey if Dr. Dre is over. Few things can help say “job well done” after a couple hours of wrenching on your car or bicycle better than a couple tall beers, plus you can use the tab to help get the grease out from under your fingernails.

If at a party, I may opt for beer since it helps keep something tasty in your belly and that the buzz is fairly self-regulating; by the time you’re gettin good and puzzled you’re pissing every three minutes and have reached stasis. But if i’m looking to get popular and naked quick, I pull the Wild Turkey 101 out of the freezer and start passing the bottle around.

All drinking philosophy aside, the best answer is a simple “Whadda ya got?”

2. Which is a greater source of pollutant emmisions, individually owned automobiles, or container ships and tractor trailers?

Depends on what you consider pollutants. In the overall scheme of things, individually owned automobiles do us more damage than freight vehicles but on a more invisible scale. Particulate emissions from gasoline powered light vehicles are particularly insidious as they’re the ones that are more carcinogenic and penetrate much deeper in your lungs than what comes out of the exhaust stacks of ships, trains & trucks.

As far as CO2 and NOx goes, I’m still sticking with passenger autos. Freight vehicles typically run on diesel (trains & trucks) or heavy bunker fuel (ships) and their engines are designed to take advantage of these particular fuels. They don’t have to worry with being perceived as being underpowered by fickle consumers. Freight vehicle engines are typically tuned for maximum efficiency at their steady-state operating output or use the internal combustion engine to generate power for electric motors – full torque at zero RPM is a beautiful thing. Passenger vehicles are grossly overpowered for 99% of driving. Cruising down the road at 60 mph may only take 6 – 10 horsepower yet people scoff at the prospect of purchasing anything with less than 150 hp.

On the basis of pollutants per unit of real utility, SUVs, cars and light trucks are far worse than any decently modern freight vehicle.

3. Low wages for off shore production facilities are frequently cited as examples of corporate irresponsibility. Would it be more responsible to create an artifical middle class in an unprepared economy by inflating wages dramatically above the mean?

Much like foisting democracy on cultures that do not want it, cramming the American way of life upon another economy is yet another example of the arrogance and misunderstanding that most knee-jerk reactionaries exhibit.

I think the real way to use low price offshore workers would be to hire them as upper management. Hey Mr. CEO that made $22M plus benefits last year, guess what? You’re being replaced by a triple MBA in the Ukraine who’ll do your job and that of three underlings for $60k/year. Repeat for the rest of those that have cushy chairs in winow offices and you’re starting to save some real money. How many new workers could you hire with that kind of savings? How much new equipment? What sort of new processes could you start running in your new manufacturing plant? Seems like a far better cost/benefit relationship than bringing in parts made in a sweaty Quonset hut in Chongqing so the investors can make 25 cents a share more and you can yuk it up with your buddies on the golf course.

4. A Smurf and a Snork get in a bare fisted fight. Who wins?

As a quick refresher course, Smurfs are sky blue, live in the forests of Europe, have footy pants and a shapeless white hat. Snorks live in the water (presumably the ocean) and are yellow with a snorkel used for propulsion sticking out of the tops of their heads. Neither seems to have any real fighting skills.

Unfortunately both characters are from Belgium, which has some sort of history with making cartoons. This, however, leads to the inevitable fact that while Snorks are uniquely Belgian, Smurfs are Franco-Belgian. For this fact alone, if confronted with fisticuffs, the Smurf would immediately run away as if the Snork had just pooped an anti-tank missile out of its snorkel.

Not to mention that Smurfs are terrestrial while Snorks are aquatic, Snorks seem much bigger in relative size and have seen fit to adapt human technologies to their underwater homes. There’s no reason to think they would not have adapted boxing techniques or Jeet kune do as well. Smurfs seemed perfectly happy with virtually zero technology, living in mushrooms in the forest and gang-banging Smurfette (off camera).

Snork wins, hands down.

5. The Jeep Rubicon AWD bicycle. Awesome technical innovation or overly complicated crap?

It’s an interesting application of technology but fairly worthless. Half the fun of mountainbiking is having to balance rear wheel tractive effort with picking a good line, clearing obstacles and keeping the front wheel firmly planted for steering and braking. If you can also transfer some of the power to the front wheel you no longer have to be as careful or skillful a rider to take on interesting terrain. Perhaps I’m a purist, but I used to hit the trails in North Georgia on an all-steel rigid framed bicycle. Keeping up with those that had hardtails or even full suspension bicycles took no small amount of skill and considerable effort but in the end I had just as much fun as they did on a vastly simpler and cheaper machine. If it’s really for mountainbike use it’s going to have to be bulletproof especially under a so-called Clydesdale like myself. The shaft-in-a-tube design doesn’t lend itself well to the natural flex of frame tubes. Since it’s full suspension, I assume they designed the frame itself to be as rigid as possible and just let the shocks take all the abuse. I would be suprised if it would last as long as a hardtail at half the price if actually used for its advertised purpose.

I don’t see this as anything special, just as another thing for Jeep to throw their name on to have sheep buy and let languish in the garage.

East Buttfuck Militia Claims It Can Shoot More Meskins Than West Buttfuck Militia

ted | junk | Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

West Buttfuck Militia loses bidding war, has to keep shitskull, says EBM spokesman. Despite ongoing tensions caused by fluctuating exchange rates through a city divided, spokesmen from both militias met at the center span of the Municipal Shit Bridge met for a brief name-calling session that ended poorly for all parties. Later, East Buttfuck Militia claimed to be bigger defender of Freedom than West Buttfuck Militia.

WBM was unreachable for comment, speculated to be “rolling their shitskull around like a flat soccer ball.”

freakin’ convert, already

ted | junk | Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

The US really needs to convert to the metric system real fuckin’ fast. I’m sick of this crap.

Were money no object, I’d make sure we had nothing but A3/A4 paper and C5/C6 envelopes at home, A4 notebooks and two-hole 80mm (by 6mm hole diameter) binders.

For reals, bring on the kilometers and celcius (although I prefer the term “centigrade”) and liters and Newton-meters. Yes I already know how to estimate things pretty well in miles and Fahrenheit and gallons and foot-pounds, but damnit, you develop that skill by using those units on a daily basis.

I also think I may abandon my preferred day.month.year date format for the ISO standard year-month-day, but that remains to be seen.

I already hate dealing with SAE tools when rummaging around for sockets or wrenches in an unorganized toolbox (durr, what’s slightly bigger than 3/8″… might be 7/16″… might be 13/32″… might even be 25/64″ if you’re dealing with tap drill sizes), which is glad I both organized my tools and made sure all mine are metric.

There’s what, only three countries that haven’t converted yet? The USA, Liberia & Burma (nee Myanmar) according to the US Metric Association. GET WITH IT.

Also, if you’re going to whine about our legacy system and how converting would cost us billions of dollars, you can shut the fuck up right now. If anything, it would create jobs in the US as all road signs would need replacing, maps would need reprinting, companies needed new tooling & dies, consultants to help, etc. The Iraq war costs us something like $7.5 million per hour – couldn’t we pull everybody out a couple weeks early, spend that money on converting the entire country and still have a couple billion left over to spend on a METRIC SYSTEM! FUCK YEAH! party?

although it is an unbearable strain, I’m doing it as hard as I ever have

ted | junk | Thursday, February 1st, 2007

shamelessly stolen from http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e141/n1ght_sn1p3r/moonribbon.jpg
if i have to explain this to you, you’re fired

Back in the day

ted | junk | Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

It must’ve been the summer of 2000. One evening during that long hot summer in Atlanta, I found myself in an elevator with Robert Anton Wilson. I didn’t say anything to him, as he seemed pretty tired. I was on my way from one party to another party in this particular hotel.

Seven years later, it’s interesting that this one random encounter is the thing I recall most fondly about that night. Time is perhaps the longest distance between then and now, and I like it that way.

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