Saturday, September 29, 2007

It's not easy being green.

Two games that were simply astonishing this past week both ended badly for Oregon teams. In the first, the Portland Timbers lost on penalties to a severely outclassed Atlanta team. The Silverbacks owe the goalposts of PGE Park the full salaries of their defensive line, as it was the goalposts and not the defense that kept the game scoreless. The loss is made somewhat less painful by the stellar season the Timbers had and by the recent announcement that rookie head coach Gavin Wilkinson was named Coach of the Year in the USL First Division.

And of course, today, we had a heartbreaker at Autzen, where it seemed as though the Ducks might be able to grind down what is arguably the best Cal team of the past decade. Alas, it was not to be, as the tying drive was stopped at the one. I'd link it but anyone who cares is probably watching College Football Final right now, like me :)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alice Is Lost!

Things are heating up over at Alice Is Lost!, a puzzle adventure by Eric Harshbarger. If you're looking for a lot of puzzles (a la Valentine's Day Massacre) for a small cost, you might want to take a gander at the prologue and the FAQ.

In other puzzling news, I've finally got the full plotline for the first Bosephus Jones mystery. Now I just need to weave in some puzzling opportunities and I'll have a legitimate roadmap to writing the thing. Pretty exciting.

Written while waiting for the top 8 of a TPF Sealed PE to start on MTGO. :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

The geolinguistics of soda/pop.

So i was in an elevator recently (it happens), and I got into a conversation with my boxmate about La Croix sparkling water, a case of which I was holding in my hand. It's basically club soda with a twist in a can. What I told the guy (who had professed to love the beverage) was that we could give it to our daughter - and she could think it was a treat - without actually resorting to soda. He immediately and enthusiastically agreed (it was kind of a weird little moment, two devotee dads discussing sugar-free options for kids). Only he used the word "pop."

Now, I remember first hearing "pop" in the same way that I remember hearing the Southern universalism "coke" to refer to any carbonated beverage. But it got me to wondering about distributions - like, is it purely valley girl to say "pop?" Is anyone mapping this?

Thankfully, the internet is chock full of useless information.

Busy busy getting everything in order for the move. Come Thursday we'll be in la Civic. :)

Now playing: Silversun Pickups - Little Lover's So Polite
via FoxyTunes

Monday, September 17, 2007

Civic Duties

So we're moving to a new place, and the odds that I will be all that free to blog are slim and none. That said, I will definitely try to keep up.

In the meantime, I have an absurd amount of stuff to sell. Tiring. My mad craigslist skills have been pushed to the limit. ;)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Forest Park Guided Hikes for Kids

There's still time to drop your kids in the wilderness, assuming they're 10 or older (some of the hikes are for younger guys too, but most of them have come and gone). is generally just a great place to learn more about Forest Park, its trails, and its troubles.

Found/remembered while looking for a decent day hike for the doodlebug today. Now if the sun would just burn off this overcast nonsense we'd be set.

Now playing: Franz Joseph Haydn - Adagio
via FoxyTunes


So, we're moving out of here to be closer to the middle of downtown/northwest. It doesn't hurt that it also brings us in walking distance of Claire's school, also. ;)

Anyone know any good places for rent?

Now playing: Franz Joseph Haydn - Andante (Theme And Variations)
via FoxyTunes

Friday, September 14, 2007

Activity at Ignite Portland

So the Constitution is up for Ignite Portland, which currently has no set date (late October is the idea). But if you want to micro-pitch a concept or just talk about something interesting, you should check out the background post to figure out what the heck I'm talking about and then consider subscribing to the site's RSS feed for future updates.

I have a hard time understanding how I lived without...

...FoxyTunes for this long. Thankfully that's been remedied.

My wild hair idea about solving the bloated, inefficient, and inelegant IT solutions that law firms currently suffer with will not go away. It seems to me that within ten years everyone should really just be building their own databases and screw Amicus/PCLaw/whatever nonsense you're using.

Listen: law practice is about relationships. Ergo, a relational database that allows you to consolidate client notes, drafts, and contact information, that has a timer for billable work and a search function that can serve as conflicts check and navigational front-end in one just seems to make the most sense ever. No more cludgy dBs that can't even sync with billing software. No more "compose email" buttons on crappy Windows systems. And particularly relevant to Federal practice, complete control of paperless filing information.

The revolution is not the billable hour. The revolution is freeing the billable hour from its current fetters and being as holistic about your IT solutions as you (hopefully) are about your client solutions. And I do not intend to wait for the current generation of dinosaurs to die. For one thing, most of them seem downright unwilling to depart. For another, my lord, how long must the wageslaves work with pure crap? You could do it all with one of those fancy Google pizza boxes.

At least I think you could. I intend to ask at the next Open Coffee.

Now playing: Regina Spektor - Better
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Thank Yous

A la Hermux Tantamoq:

Thank you for change. For questions that shake precepts to the core. Thank you for good friends, and brisk walks in the drizzly autumn. Thank you for canutos de quinoa y maracuya. Thank you for stories, and the movement of stars in the firmament overhead as we tell them.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wave

So I just finished The Wave, by Walter Mosley. I've read a couple of the Easy Rawlins novels, and it seems like I've read quite a bit about Mosley without reading an awful lot of his work, but I'd known I wanted to get around to this novel eventually.

It's hard to know where to begin. It echoes so true to both contemporary America and other popular narrative - Heroes springs to mind - that it's difficult to categorize is as science fiction. Even speculative fiction, a term I have to admit I like more, is a little on the not-quite-right side. It's more Jonathan Lethem than China Miéville, you know what I mean? More hard-boiled.

After a series of creepy late-night phone calls the protagonist goes to his father's grave, and discovers a young man in rags who claims to be his father. The boy (for truly, it's just a kid, maybe 20) knows things about his life with his son that only the father could have known. Whole pages of psycho-babble could be written at this point, but the hook is lightly set, so craftily that everyone (including the reader) simply falls into believing that this is somehow dad, back from the dead by mystical force.

"Dad" identifies himself as part of the "Wave," which the military has in turn identified as some sort of alien amoeba. Big surprise, they consider that a threat (again the Heroes echoes. Did I mention ever that there's only one story?). The Wave is old as earth itself, living in the core, in the midst of massive violence, heat, and danger. It has become an entity capable of undreamed-of feats, including assuming the form of those who have passed.

I won't spoil anything further, but it's a ripping good read. Mosley, as usual, is on the top of his game in terms of dialog.* His pacing is great, slowing down in deep, vibrant places only to bring thins to a head in a paragraph. It moves like a memoir, which it is meant to be. I'm not one to blithely tell people to read books but you could do worse than this one.

And if you have time you should check out Lethem and Miéville as well. And then read a bit of Neal Stephenson or (heaven help you) Mervyn Peake.

*This is not the first time and probably not the last that my British standard spelling gets in the way of the spellchecker. I don't care who you talk to, it's dialogue.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Conception Day in Russia.


I mean, apart from the fact that everyone has their own special "conception day," they set it for nine months before Constitution Day. They're giving prizes for women who give birth on June 12.

Standard gestation is 40 weeks, there, buddy.

Oh well. Politics trumps biology, amiright?

A plug for Laptop Lunches

A Google search for "kid's lunch ideas" revealed two things.

First, people don't know the first half of a snippet about how kids eat. Or at least how my kid eats. I'll grant that she's finicky, but when I can go through a list of recommendations and find one that would work if I removed four out of five ingredients and prepared it completely differently, then I think I can safely say that the list is not helpful. On the other hand, each kid is so different that it may be that such lists are never actually going to work out.

But! The second thing I found was this place, which has the cutest little bento sets ever. The one thing that I have found that works is to offer visible variety on plates - somehow all of a sudden lots more gets eaten. So this is awesome on a stick. And the containers, I suspect, would encourage people to be creative with recipes/combinations. After all, you have to fill all the little things!

Also suitable for grownups. :)

Oscar the (Hospice) Cat

Jason Kottke posted this today, and I can think of no better thing to talk about today, when the news is flooded with images of W looking distinctly uncomfortable about his legacy. I'd far rather look at this mug.

Oscar lives at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, RI. Since being adopted by the center as a kitten, he has sat with patients on the day of their deaths 25 times. The article talks about him essentially doing rounds, but the most poignant part of the whole thing might be this sentence: "His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families."

So, we ask ourselves, juxtaposing against the sudden and insane events of six years ago, what sort of warning do we want? Do we want to build an invisible shield in the sky? Blast the asteroid off course? Do we want a cat to act as harbinger, so that when our loved ones go we can be there? Do we want, in the classic words of a New College classmate of mine, to simply "be ready to go?" Why/how do we pretend that any day is more or less precious than the one before or the one that follows? This is not meant to deliminate one's approach to death into tidy categories, but simply to open the question.

I think, given that we all end up in the same place, we really ought to be better neighbors in the meantime. You can chalk this up to petty ecumenism or some sort of nihilistic "in the now" hokum, but people are in the foreground of every scene of tragedy and desperation over the past couple of centuries. Doesn't matter what you believe; gotta get together to find meaning, gotta find meaning to begin understanding, gotta understand for the madness to stop.

I personally hope I have an Oscar. Warm fuzzy good, and I'd like my peeps there to wail and lament at the passing of my great genius from this rock. And once the fetters of the flesh have cast off, I can finally teach myself to do a back flip.

Monday, September 10, 2007

"There was a time in Colombia that this would happen every week."

Petroleos Mexicanos had some issues with explosions this morning, when six bombs went off along three pipelines carrying crude, natural gas and propane. I don't know whether I'm more surprised at this attack, the fact that this is the third since July, or the quote from analyst David Shields at the bottom of the linked article. Seriously, every week? It's embarrassing that I claim to be a bit of an energy wonk and knew very little about this sort of sabotage.

EPR, the group that claimed responsibility for an earlier bombing, is quiet as of this blog entry.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


My parents attended Michigan for grad school, so moments like this are always a little awkward. Not that my mom cares (she would rather see college football replaced by competitive problem solving), but dad has a little pride in the Blue. He's also a Buffalo, so his teams and Oregon have developed a rich history ever since the Harrington era.

Anyway, I can't pretend to be all that huge a booster myself, but this is a nice bookend to Michigan's loss when they came to Autzen a while back.

"You can expect to live approximately another 18500 more days."

That's what the machine said, anyway. I don't know where they're pulling their data - actuarial tables are everywhere these days - but the risk factors that the program asks about are sorta the Top Ten.

Depressing but amazing how much difference you can make in your life expectancy with small changes to the sliders. I don't think I cheated that much, but the temptation is strong...

Friday, September 7, 2007

Stride - psychological masterstroke or really bad gum?

So I just got done reading Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink. I am therefore not unconvinced that a certain gum is not in fact attempting to hoodwink the gum chewing world into believing that the gum possesses unnaturally long lasting flavor simply by saying it over and over. It would not, according to Wansink, have been the first time that positive expectation leads to a wholly illusionary reaction to the product in question.

Stride is not, in fact, long lasting, unless the benchmark for flavor-lastingness is your average stick of Juicy Fruit. (I got the Fruit version, since I get my mint hookup from a much better gum to be linked later.) Also, it is not chewy. You know what I mean - it's a bit too close to the rubber side of the equation to be considered a pleasurable chewing experience. I actually got a slightly achy jaw after munching away. My current theory is that they attempted to subject the flavor bits to some sort of polymerization process, and that process A) made the gum the rough equivalent of an inner tube and B) didn't work. Because seriously, about the flavor? It degenerates in mere minutes. Perhaps it's easier to make a minty gum be minty longer, but whatever efforts they've made with the fruit version are a big fat nothing.

Compare with the mysteriously named 5, which not only has better ads but also lasts for freaking ever. My (unverified) suspicion is that it takes five hours to wear this gum out, ergo, "5." The lesson here is, I reckon, don't f*ck with Wrigley when it comes to gum. Stick with the peppermint, though - in my opinion the spearmint is a little grassy and cinnamon gum is an abomination. And if anyone has a lead on a sugarfree fruit gum that doesn't suck please let me know. So far Trident tropical splash is the closest.

Remember Blackjack? Good times. Turns out Cadbury-Adams is now too busy making Stride. What dopes.

I mention all of this because one of my "Mindless Margin" checklist items is to chew three pieces of gum a day and another at night. Why? Because if you're chewing a piece of gum you can't chew other things, and I have a little obsessive tic that tends toward chewing whatever is at hand. So I have returned to the land of my youth, the pack of gum (they're very cool now - perhaps to help smokers feel like they're opening a pack of cigs rather than minty freshness). Top five gums of the moment:

5 "Cobalt"
Orbit Mint Mojito
Trident Tropical Splash
Orbit Crystal Mint
Orbit White Spearmint

Chew on!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Living Room Theaters

Stop whatever you're doing and go here. Pick a movie. Arrange for some friends to meet you. You are in for one of the greatest experiences of your life.

Living Room Theaters is a concept movie house from the ground up, with roomy captain's chairs, club chairs with low tables, and ottomans scattered about. And those are just the theaters. Outside there's a bar with a happy hour that stretches to 6:30 (perfect for dinner-and-a-movie shenanigans) and a fun, loungey ambiance. The flat screens set within and around the bar area are mostly self-promoting, but there are rumors of morning-time newscasts, espresso, and so on. Free wifi, natch.

The films are the kinds of films you would expect at an art house. We saw Broken English, which was quite charming, and saw previews for two other films (Black Book and Other People's Lives) which we knew we would come back to see. I cannot express how astonishingly cool the place is, so instead I simply urge you to go there yourself. Myself, I'm going to figure out a time to see Paprika (no amount of cool is going to get Carmen to accompany me to that), and keep a weather eye out for splendid celluloid things on the horizon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Best. Toy store. Ever.

And considering that I live ten blocks from Finnegan's, that's saying something:

Fat Brain Toys.

Luminous Arc, yo.

So if this "good" game is anything like the last good game from the same publisher, I should have grabbed a copy already. As it is I've been having a devil of a time completing Etrian Odyssey, let alone getting the next epic saga.

Unlike various Fire Emblem titles, which I have never quite managed to care about enough to finish, I suspect that Luminous Arc will pull me inexorably to the denouement, like a lamb to...some place that lambs go. 4H, perhaps. So long as I get to level my archers into super mojo flingers of some type, I'm good.

Speaking of Etrian, I know that the Odyssey has gone undocumented recently. You can partially blame NYT Crosswords, which has taken over my DS time recently (despite the persnickety refusal to recognize my "Y" unless I treat it like a math equation - less than and then a straight line beneath). But you can also blame the eventual burn out that comes with the post-story "bonus levels." I mean, is there another mystery to solve? I'm just killing mega-badass frogs and whatnot. Plus, the levels cap at 70, somewhat disappointing. Of course, from a replay standpoint, it establishes the limit. The vertiginous thrill of exactitude ain't just a ballet - it's the small pleasure that comes from plotting every skill point over the course of your Landsknecht's life span.

Of course, as I promised myself, I'm going for all-Alchemist for the second run through the labyrinth. Expect serial lamentations as I try to keep the little goofballs alive.

Y'know, it just occurred to me that there's only four pieces of character art for each of the classes. I wonder if I can duplicate, or if the guild simply won't admit more than four of a class type. If that's the case it will be the 80% Alchemist run, probably with a Protector (whatever - the shieldy types) in the middle of the front row.

This is what I think about, btw. That and the sorts of puzzles you could reasonably expect bunnies to solve...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Oh thank the heavens, school starts tomorrow. Summer was quite the adventure, and at the end of the day I wouldn't have missed a bit of it, but it's time for the crazy monkey to learn, like, stuff. And things. We're all out of enrichment. I gotta tell ya, teaching a gifted kid ain't easy.

Anyhoo. School!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Fantasy Roster, 2007

So, my MTGO clan is running a fantasy league again, and this looks pretty good:

D. McNabb
M. Hasselbeck

Steve Smith
Donald Driver
Plaxico Burress
Terry Glenn
Chris Chambers

Larry Johnson
Deuce McAllister
Ronnie Brown

Alge Crumpler
Tony Gonzalez

Nate Kaeding

Defenses are Pittsburgh and Seattle. Meh, but not so bad. Anyway, off to the races!

TV, accelerated

So all the furor over the Heroes DVDs obscured another blessed event, which has been a long freaking time in coming. Suffice it to say my queue runneth over with quality television at the moment.

When you have a kid, the odds that you can follow shows are nearly nonexistent (unless we're talking about the Suite Life of Zach and Cody...). But thanks to the miracle of TiVo/Netflix/Blockbuster, we can plug the doodle into a DVD of her own and then watch several hours of network television in roughly two thirds the time. And until I either get a media edition PC or a DVR that doesn't require a subscription, I'll be taking the "mail me lots of DVDs, please."

Blockbuster's "endless exchanges at the store" tap did just tighten up a bit. I was informed last week that I would only get 5 per month anymore, unless I wanted to pony up another four or five dollars. I'm actually fine with the limit (they were very much in danger of the online business eating the brick and mortars alive), and will probably stick with the modified plan. We were probably at about that level anyway.

No one tell me what happened last year on House, mmmkay?