Thursday, December 27, 2007

Merry Belated Christmas

A site of Christmas photos and greeting cards found in yard sales, trash, etc.:

I've only gone through the homemade photo cards so far - they alone are worth the visit.

Here's a site that lists more found photos:

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bad train day

After getting settled onto a train on track 11, Kent and I hear this

"Ladies and gentlemen, I've been asked to inform you that this is not the train you think it is. The train you want is on track 12. Please proceed to track 12."

Monday, September 10, 2007

The marginalization of the largest group of Americans

TV's triumphant overclass

Television continues to grow positively filthy with the filthy rich. And where is the middle class? Demeaning itself for money on reality and game shows, of course

By Heather Havrilesky

So where is the middle class in this equation? In the old days, we'd find them on sitcoms, at the very least. Yet these days, even sitcom characters live sophisticated urban lives in roomy, tastefully furnished apartments or massive homes.
I'm not the only one feeling marginalized - that's good, I guess.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Modern musicals

Do the singers in modern musicals really have to over-enunciate when they sing? I just heard a clip of a song in Hairspray and while the song was kinda catchy, the singer over-enunciated to the extent that I just didn't want to listen. That's sort of why I like Jersey Boys - they were pretty true to the original style of The Four Seasons' songs - they didn't "Broadway-ize" them. It was like I was at a Four Seasons show.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Enemy propoganda

I'm so sick of people who criticize anti-war speech because it fosters enemy propaganda. We're in a war - wouldn't the enemy produce propaganda anyway??? And who the hell cares if they do? It's propaganda ! The Republicans love to dismiss other, non-war related criticism of Republican plans or ideas by Democrats as mere propaganda (,, but when it comes to war, propaganda is dangerous. Fools.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Woman vs. wildlife

I'm working from home today and I set myself up in the dining room because it's right next to the bathroom and kitchen. Also, there's a nice sliding door that looks out onto the backyard with the roses and daisies.

Anyway, I was in the middle of updating a piece of online help when I hear this thud and scratching on the sliding door. I looked over and there's this groundhog peering into the house like a kid looking into a candy store. I hollered out in fright, thinking "rabies!" and waited for the thing to start foaming at the mouth.

He just stood on his haunches with his front paws on the glass - like he was shading his eyes from the light so he can see better into the house.

Then he went away and started eating one of the plants on the side of the patio.

I don't think I'm safe in my own backyard!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Star Ledger series on the Newark riots: myth vs. fact

Part one ran today. It's fascinating - Newark was long in decline before the 1967 riots.

The push towards the suburbs was codified - the rules of the Federal Housing Authority actually specified that they wouldn't approve mortgages to "crowded neighborhoods" or to "inharmonious racial groups".


By 1967, Newark believed its property tax rate, $7.75 per $100 of assessed value, was the highest in the nation. If taxed at that rate today, an average home in New Jersey - valued at $350,000 - would owe more than $27,000 a year in property taxes.

Even though Springfield and Bergen was largely populated by rental housing, soaring taxes had an impact. Landlords, fearful that making improvements would increase their tax bills, began neglecting their properties.

Even though one of every nine servicemen during World War II was black, only one in 670 mortgages insured by the GI Bill went to black veterans ...


Coming north for factory jobs didn't help. After World War II, the nation's economy began shifting from manufacturing toward service-based businesses. Between 1950 and 1967, Newark alone lost nearly 20,000 manufacturing jobs.

"These factory jobs had long been the first rung on the economic ladder that immigrant groups had grasped onto as they climbed upward," said Clement Price, a history professor at Rutgers-Newark. "Suddenly, that first rung was gone. And it dealt a serious blow to the ability of this group of African-Americans to replicate the success of other ethnic groups."

So blacks essentially were stuck in the decaying rentals. Those coming up from the South seeking their fortunes couldn't get a decent-paying jobs in the factories. They couldn't afford a regular mortgage and they weren't allowed to have a subsidized mortgage in either the suburbs or the city.

Update: Here's more at the New York Times.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It's Monk Time again

Years ago, Kent, Dieter, and I watched a WFMU chotchke video compilation that included an animated video of the extended version of Autobahn by Kraftwerk. But I think the one video that really stuck with us was the Monks' "Monk Chant".

Here's that video:

Autobahn was cool and all, but it's kind of hard to forget guys wearing fake monk wigs, playing large tambourines, and banging on kettle drums.

The Monks seemed to have stuck in a lot of people's minds because a new cover/homage album has been released. From the Village Voice:

Silver Monk Time: A Tribute to the Monks

In 1966, five American ex-GI bar band vets, re-christened the Monks, presented Germany with Black Monk Time. "Uberbeat," they dubbed it: drums directing bass volts, organ jolts, guitar feedback, electric banjo as percussion, echoing harmonies, and pre–Slim Shady chatter, jumping in and out of the mix, right on cue. "It's Monk Time, it's Hop Time," they called, before and after ragging on "Mad Vietcong," James Bond, and "What army? Any army."

Silver Monk Time compiles 29 covers and homages as follow-up to the 2006 documentary Monks—The Transatlantic Feedback. The Fall expertly probe the ripples of "Higgle-dy Piggle-dy," Jason Forrest folds Monks demo tapes into the birthday-suit salute of "Monk Hop," and the Raincoats simultaneously croon and hammer "Monk Chant" 'round the mountain. All this while the's "Cuckoo" spins right off its peak, brushed by the smoke-ring feathers of Nista Nije Nista's "Kuchhuche."

More at the Voice.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

newspapers: Google News is your friend

Here's how newspapers can use Google News to their advantage.
Some newspapers were bellyaching about how Google News, which displays a story's headline and it's  lede, kinda steals content from them and, more importantly to the newspaper, gives readers enough information so that they don't click through to the newspaper's website and thus don't feed them ad revenue.
But Google News could be the newspaper's best friend. Readers who didn't know that a given newspaper ever existed can be exposed to it just by scanning Google News. The newspaper just has to reorganize the information in its stories. Online newspapers who want readers of Google News to click through to the their site should not put the most important information in the lede anymore. Just hint at it so readers have to click through to get the information they want.
Here's an example: The lede to a Houston Chronicle story about the hike in 30-year mortgage rates just said that there was a hike and that the hike was the sharpest its been in I can't remember how many years. But I wanted to know exactly how much the rate increased, so I had to click through to the Houston Chronicle's website. So they've made a few cents off of me when they wouldn't have before because I never think to read that paper.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Flowers we got with the house

Poppies will make them sleep...


One of our many roses.

Friday, May 25, 2007

So confined, yet so freeing

When the microwave broke at the office, someone wrote a haiku to it to sort of bring it back to life. Others soon added their haikus and eventually we were given a new microwave.
Now the toaster is broken and we're once again envoking the power of haiku to get a new one.
Here's my entry:
What should I do with
my raisin bread now that you
have foresaken me?


Monday, May 21, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Too clever by half... not really

On my way to work this morning I noticed a billboard on the Turnpike that just says, "The Algorithm Constantly Finds Jesus". At first I thought it was another evangelical message. Then I saw one near the Lincoln Tunnel that says "The Algorithm Killed Jeeves".

Ok, so I was intrigued and Googled it.

Turns out, it's a campaign from whose mascot used to be Jeeves, that quintessential British butler. According to ValleyWag, Ask is touting that its algorithm is superior to Google's. Ask also staged "a guerrilla campaign against Google's 'information monopoly' in London".

Will it actually get me to use Remains to be seen.

If Ask were really smart, they would have bid on Google for a combination of the keywords "billboard", "algorithm", "Jesus", and "Jeeves" to make searches with those words return first on Google's results.

Update: doesn't even show up first in's search results. :P

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It may work for me, but...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Another reason to drink more beer

Beer maker, scientists to create energy

"[Prof. Jurg Keller, University of Queensland's wastewater expert] expected the brewery cell would produce 2 kilowatts of power — enough to power a household..."

Off the grid, but still drunk with power!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The War on Wars

White House seeks "czar" to oversee wars: report

So, this is like the drug czar, right? Like the guy who fights the War on Drugs only this would be America's War on Wars?
And ain't nobody wants to be the war czar, so maybe we'll escape this one.
The Washington Post quotes Retired Marine Gen. John "Jack" Sheehan, a former top NATO commander, and who is one of the men who rejected the job, "The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going."
Heh, yeah.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Walking in New York

Here's today's Garrison Keillor column in Salon. It pretty much echoes what I feel about walking around Manhattan though I try to avoid Times Square at all costs.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Restaurant mini-review

3 out of 5 Chiclets
On the southwest corner of 18th and 8th Ave.
French-American (pomme frites instead of french fries, but portabello burger) with European laid-backness (they don't rush you to order-eat-leave).

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The harbinger

Ice cream man! One benefit of working in an office across the street from a school.
I think it's his first day out - I didn't hear him yesterday.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hey Man, is that Freedom Rock?

Yeah, Man!

Well, turn it up!

What could they be doing?

On a couple of corners on Route 9, there are older men wearing orange crossing guard vests sitting in folding camp chairs on the corner taking notes. I don't think they're crossing guards because I've never seen them before.


Friday, March 23, 2007

Cause of the pet poisonings

Sorry, I'm a pet lover, but I still had to say it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Streaming WFMU

I'm currently listening to WFMU'S 20k Windows Media Player stream on my Treo as the bus crawls down the turnpike in the slush. Not bad. It cuts out when I browse to another web page, but I still think this is cool. Don't know how long my battery will last, though...

Guess I'd better give them some money as this is pledge week and all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

There goes the neighborhood

I'm one of those jerks with the Crackberries now. Except with a Treo.

So what nickname do the have for these? Special T? I can't think of anything good since I'm not part of the drug culture.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Bubba Ho-tep: review

(3 out of 4 chiclets)

Kent and I watched Bubba Ho-tep last night: it wasn't exactly what I thought it was but I still liked it a lot.

Bruce Campbell plays Elvis, who is alive because he switched places with an Elvis impersonator back in the 70s after he got tired of fame and his soul-sucking friends. The impersonator is the one who died from the drugs and so the king is rotting away forgotten in an East Texas rest home, which is cursed by an Egyptian soul-sucking mummy.

Together with a black man who believes he is JFK (Ossie Davis) with dyed skin and a bag of sand where the blown-out part of his brain used to be, Elvis sets out to kill the mummy before the mummy kills him and takes his soul, the one true thing of his he has left.

But fighting the mummy only takes up the last half hour of the movie. Before that, Elvis has to come to terms with how his life turned out. The main mummy of the movie is Elvis.

This isn't one of those New Age-y mid-80s body switching movies. Elvis switched places with the impersonator through a legal contract that was burned to ashes in a big barbeque catastrophe. If Elvis went public with the scheme to reclaim his throne, who would believe him? So after the impersonator died, Elvis was stuck with with his new identity forever. After breaking a hip impersonating himself on stage, Elvis spends the rest of his years in the rest home, all but locked away in a vault.

The inside of the rest home looks not so much like a vault, but more like what Hollywood portrays the inside of an Egyptian pyramid to be. It's very brown: the walls look like they're covered with mud, so much so that the dirt looks like it dripped down the hallway's wainscotting. Dim, torch-like wall sconces light the maze of corridors. And Elvis lies in his bed, almost in state, waiting for death or a reason to come alive again.

Campbell and Davis make a great team and create real characters, not just characatures. At first I wondered why Ossie Davis would want to be in this movie since I didn't think it fit the rest of the body of his work (turns out, Davis was in an episode of Night Gallery), but by the end I knew it was because it's much more than Elvis and JFK Battle the Mummy.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Another funny coincidence

Today I had another craving for ice cream and decided to pick up some Ben & Jerry's. They come out with crazy new flavors more often so today I picked up Neapolitan Dynamite (half Cherry Garcia and half Chocolate Fudge Brownie, which I guess technically isn't Neapolitan because it has cherries instead of strawberry, although Spumoni has cherries. which used to be sold as a form of Neapolitan ice cream) and Vermonty Python (coffee liquor ice cream mixed with chocolate cookie crumbs and fudge cows).

The Vermonty Python is excellent but since I just happened upon Napoleon Dynamite playing on Comedy Central, I'll have to say that the Neapolitan Dynamite is my favorite pick of the night, if only because of the coincidence. It's kind of like when Kent and I finally watched Eraserhead from our Netflix account after holding onto it for at least two months and it turned out that the night we watched it was David Lynch's 60th birthday.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Mike Schank guitar school

Someone in my office broke out his acoustic guitar and is playing a piece that Mike Schank plays in American Movie (though my co-worker is kinda rusty) and it brought a big smile to my face just like Mike brought a smile to Mark Borschardt's face on Thanksgiving. Unlike Mark, I haven't been feeling like there's nothing worth getting out of bed for but you don't have to be a struggling filmmaker for Mike to bring a smile to your face.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Use the blogs for good!

What can't bloggers do?
Now they're on the front lines of home security - they figured the Boston Mooninite  LEDs weren't bombs and had been talking about the guerrila marketing campaign for days.
"If Woody had gone straight to the police, none of this would have happened."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I don't know why, but the word cromulent just popped into my head. I looked it up in but it wasn't there. Hmm.. Is it an archaic word? So I Googled it. Turns out, it was coined on the Simpsons and while it originally wasn't acceptable or authentic, I guess it is now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'm gonna hold my breath until you give me more money for the war!

From Google News ~3:10 p.m.:

It does matter!

A few years ago when I worked for a major software company, one of the system administrators named a cluster of servers after some Titans, specifically Cronus, Zeus, and Rhea. I sent out an office-wide email correcting him - Zeus wasn't a Titan!
But no one cared...
Where I work now, we're having an email argument about whether to name work teams after figures from the Trojan War. Some people think it's heroic, others think it's awful because most humans didn't survive and the ones that did survive suffered, eventually made it home, and then were killed by children or wives, etc.
Here, people care about Greek mythology. I love working here! :)