Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oh, The Huge Manatee!

This has to be somebody's idea of a cute joke.
I mean, it actually DOES look like a huge manatee....

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Je Suis Melvin

This is not about last night, or the one before, or last week. This is about ten years ago, when I realized that the reason "funny 'cause it's true" means something was about a guy who nobody wanted to hang out with. (He doesn't eat the dog; he just throws it down a trash chute).

Yes, it's as good as it gets.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"I decided 'No' "

(clicky for video)

Something I like - Remove It Permanently

One of the great things about Firefox / Mozilla is the ability to install "add-ons" to it which enhance its functionality. They are cross-platform (so it doesn't matter if you're running Firefox on Windows or a Mac etc) and some of them are just brutally useful. For example, one of my favorites is called "Remove It Permanently" (RIP, get it?). It allows you to remove from sight any element of a web page that you deem unsightly or distracting (link above goes to where you can download the add-on).

For example, earlier I was viewing this excellent chart of an orange line intersecting a purple line on the website

(click to enlarge)

The advert in the lower right was a bit distracting, with all the flashing and whatnot, so I decided to remove it. I right-clicked on it and a red frame appeared around the element to which it thought I was referring (it needs to make certain assumptions based on how the HTML of the page is constructed, but it rarely takes more than one or two tries to "point" it at the right thing):

I then selected "Remove It Permanently"...

... and the page instantly re-draws itself as if that portion of the HTML had never existed. Some web sites are unreadable without it, in my opinion.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Manos, The Diner of Fate

On one of our car trips upstate we had lunch at one of those classic, non-chain, (Greek) family-owned diners that grow like barnacles on the side of highways. What made the Manos Diner so special is that absolutely nothing inside of it has changed since it was built in the late 70s, and that it is not just a great example of the architectural and interior design sensibilities of the time, but that it shows every single thing you could ask an architect to put into a building ca 1976 except a hot tub. I'm sure this is a case of someone having saved all of his life, then taken out a sizable business loan, walking into the second- or third-best architect's office in Ithaca and proudly stating to no-one in particular: "I want a building, and I want it with everything!"

This is something that for some reason got installed in every residential and retail business built between 1972 and 1977. It's pointless, it gets in the way, it's ugly and looks prefabricated. I don't even know what to call it. It's two brown wooden lathed bars that just.. well... sit there. Like government employees or middle management, they merely exist and don't bear any weight. Legend has it that the factory where they made these was torched down by angry villagers.

Here are some more, which give the Manos diner the cozy feeling of having lunch at the prison mess hall.

Counterpointing the ambiance de prision are some minimalist Tiffanyesque lamps. My grandmother has a similar one but I'm sure these are older.

In the bar/lounge section of Manos are these dark wood tables with chairs that have had their coverings riveted to them, as if someone worried that there might still be life left in the leather and it might run off to a more contemporaneously decorated establishment.

It is important to note that these chairs were in perfect condition, even though they were obviously at hand for the grand opening, back when Jimmy Carter had not yet managed to get the stink out of the White House.

Back to the front of the place, we see a floor of polished stone, a white Formica counter and brown vinyl stools. Please notice the red tile on the wall to the left....

This is very particular tile type that you just can't get anymore, and of a color that doesn't quite exist in nature except in the foliage of some trees for about 12 minutes every October.

Brick archways supporting a wall of.... packing peanuts?

Why no... it's pebbles... little black and white pebbles... How.... inventive.

Following the rule that states all spaces must be broken up with useless elements, this archway in the middle of the main dining area contains cast-metal ... erm.. dividers? Perhaps it's meant to discourage food fights.

Not content with their majestic useless aesthetic the staff has slapped on some seasonal decorations. I'm sure it's the only thing that changes in the place with the passing of the decades.

While the building may be more precious as a snapshot in time, they do run a good restaurant there, and the staff knows how to do their job. So if you're in the Ithaca area on Route 13 you might want to grab yourself a hot cup of coffee and a heapin' serving of time machine, at Manos, the Diner That Never Ages.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

Autumn in New York

Autumn in new york
Why does it seem so inviting
Autumn in new york
It spells the thrill of first-nighting

Glittering crowds and shimmering clouds
In canyons of steel
Theyre making me feel - Im home

Its autumn in new york
That brings the promise of new love
Autumn in new york
Is often mingled with pain

Dreamers with empty hands
They sigh for exotic lands

Its autumn in new york
Its good to live it again

Sunday, November 18, 2007

ceci n'est pas un conseil de beauté

A few months ago I signed up for a free haircut to be done by a hairstyling student at Bumble & Bumble University. They cut hair with razors. That sounds kind of cool.

My hair has to be at least four inches long for them to be able to give the intended lesson to the student. I already got sent away once when I showed up with hair that was too short.

The thing is my hair doesn't really get longer with time; it gets wider; like Bozo the Clown wide. I'm sure my hair has never been anywhere near 4" long or I would have floated away at the first stiff wind.

To address this I used chemical relaxer which makes my hair STRAIGHT, and SPIKY. In the morning I look like a japanese manga cartoon (see left).

After a shower, brushing it down makes it perfectly flat, straight, pointed in whatever direction I leave it. It has the strange effect of making it look like a sort of soft, downy helmet. I call the style The Al, after our nation's most illustrious Attorney General.

The eventual results of the haircut (scheduled for the first week of January) will be reported.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

No candidate should be so stupid.

In the spirit of injecting a little variety into this sequence of musings I have tried not to create consecutive entries having to do with politics. However, this week it seems a bit hard not to.

The recent news that the Clinton campaign has been making use of the practice of "plants" (putting their own people in the audience pretending to be part of the general public, asking softball questions) has been a practice perfected to a perverse art by the Bush campaigns (and the administration itself).

This seems to me the proof in the pudding (whatever that means) that my fears of a Clinton administration being a natural extension of the previous one, with all its character and process flaws, have become true even before the primary election is started.

(It also in my mind raises an issue of competency and experience;
let's see her try to use those two words again without making me think of this)
a plant
(clicky for article)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Lady, Even Peggy Noonan Thinks You're a Jerk

When Hillary Clinton suggested that debate criticism of her came under the heading of men bullying a defenseless lass, an interesting thing happened. First Kate Michelman, the former head of NARAL and an Edwards supporter, hit her hard. "When unchallenged, in a comfortable, controlled situation, Sen. Clinton embraces her elevation into the 'boys club.' " But when "legitimate questions" are asked, "she is quick to raise the white flag and look for a change in the rules."
It's all kind of wonderful, isn't it? Someone indulged in special pleading and America didn't buy it. It's as if the country this week made it official: We now formally declare that the woman who uses the fact of her sex to manipulate circumstances is a jerk.

-- Peggy Noonan, 11/9/2007

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Politics of Either/And

Andrew Sullivan is a skilled opinion maker. Both gay and conservative (the real kind), think of him as a younger, butcher, out-of-the-closet version of William F. Buckley.

He has written a devastatingly brilliant essay endorsing Barack Obama that I encourage all (especially those who think they have already made up their minds) to read carefully.

Goodbye to All That
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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The New TV

I don’t usually blog when I buy a TV (I don’t usually buy a TV; I’ve had good luck with them) but this is a real steal at twice the price…. (unfortunately for you – none of you – you can't get it). I found it at the J&R clearance store… used (very slightly, apparently, although you can’t tell at all), refurbished (i.e., factory refreshed & tested etc), with a 3-month store warranty which is plenty for an item with exactly one moving part (the “on” button).

61” 1080p Samsung DLP (same projection technology digital movie theaters now use).
Worked yesterday, works today, I’m sure it will work tomorrow.

$1300+tax. Beat that, buddy. If it craps out a year from now I'm still ahead.

The old 3-CRT rear-projection (“ol’ Tiny” we’re now calling it) is seen to its right, next to the stairs, looking all dejected. The HD Tivo, beneath the new one, is saying “ ‘bout time, jeez, what does an overpriced piece of bleeding-edge technology need to do to get noticed around here”.

how to make an awful song even worse

Some noise has been made about this photograph of Barack Obama keeping his hands down while the US National Anthem was being played at an Iowa event recently (yawn indeed).

(click through the photo and scroll down to view video)

Perhaps he was actually honoring the anthem by not honoring the performance. In 33 years of being subjected to that cat-in-a-hydraulic-press of a composition I have never heard such an acoustical dismemberment. Not only would I have not saluted or otherwise praised the singer, I would have come at her with an axe no doubt to loud applause from those in attendance still capable of hearing.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

it must be done in order

Please take notes:

Eat it. Lick it. Snort it. THEN fuck it.

(click for story)

The above quote might be the most shriekingly alarming portion of the child-custody-related news story except for the fact that her lawyer's name is Thomas Paine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

a poem to a squirrel

you, or some of the other many squirrels who look like you,
over the course of the summer
ate all of my sunflowers
which are hard to grow on a rooftop.

i tried scaring you, and shooing you,
and smelling and sniffing you off
but you kept coming
and eating my sunflowers and my tomatoes
and digging up my whatevers
which are hard to grow.

i was angry.

i could have poisoned you;

i could have shot you.

i could have waited patiently reading a book
and at the right time thrown a rock at your head
and (if aimed right) could have gone right back to
reading my book as you lay dying slowly
in the neighbor's yard (i did think of this).

Instead, I bought cage traps and did
the only thing I knew to do
which is caught you and moved you elsewhere
to be a blessing instead of a curse.

I don't know if you who I caught this morning, specifically,
in the cage right now, ever ate any of my sunflowers.
It is my limitation that all squirrels
look alike

but my husband is late with the car
and it's raining hard
so you have to wait in a cage in my storage room
in the dark
with your head (as I've seen you many times today
as I went to look for a tool or fetched back the dog
who could not help but sniff at your terrified body)
pressed motionlessly hard against the door that you can
never open, thinking final thoughts,
for many hours,
with only the remaining half of a small green tomato that you once treasured, and
a shallow bowl of water to keep you company, as they say,
until I can take you to the park.

Monday, October 22, 2007

That's My Bank

[...]Democrats said they noticed an occasional Clinton-friendly tone from Mr. Drudge, whom New York magazine quoted as saying on his program: “I need Hillary Clinton. You don’t get it. I need to be part of her world. That’s my bank.”

News story

Thursday, October 18, 2007

There's Always a Turd in Every Box of Chocolates

It's perfectly legitimate for a genetic scientist to say things like "blahblahblah [something specific] because genes"....

But it's truly dismaying (although since the '04 election decreasingly surprising) when somebody as indisputably intelligent (despite his race) as James Watson says something like:

[although he hoped everyone was equal in terms of intellect] "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Link goes to a truly flabbergasting news story.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Last night on the NewsHour I saw a report on these people out in California who work for a program (managed by the state and paid for by the DEA) called


They basically scour the hills of the state looking for marihuana plantations and destroy them. What a life. But what got my attention is that the guy running the operation was wearing the most DARLING little hat... Anyone know where I might be able to get a CAMP cap?

Friday, October 12, 2007

October Surprize

Al Gore, predictably, has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to promote awareness in global warming and other environmental issues (jointly with the UN Panel on Climate Change, but who cares; they don't have an Oscar). This now officially makes for a dark horse candidate on what is STILL an open field in the Democratic party primaries (don't tell me people are being polled in favor of Hillary Clinton because they think her Bush-lite foreign policy is sound or that her health care plan, above any of the others, is so great).

While my guy Obama may be stuck in second place for reasons as yet unknown, it does present a unique opportunity here.... Potential scenario: Obama doesn't do well in Iowa which means he's "dead", according to people who own better crystal balls than I do. I certainly don't agree with that; Bill C lost Iowa & New Hampshire in '92 and I think he won the presidency but I'd have to look it up. In any case, let's say that happens and he decides to drop out... Now here's how I would like to see that play out:

A press conference is called at some location. Obama gracefully thanks his supporters blahblah says the dream is not over and will continue to live on... fade out...

Elsewhere, later that day, Al Gore announces that he thinks there is a need for an experienced, yet fresh voice to join the current political debate and that he's decided to run for the presidency... and that just to show that his campaign will not be about politics as usual he has decided to announce his running mate from day one... and that he would like to introduce his running mate right now.... and out walks....

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.... which immediately prompts the Nobel Committee to rescind the Peace Prize for reason of Al Gore setting off a nuclear explosion in American politics...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Fifth Anniversary Rally

Yesterday I attended a rally on the steps of Borough Hall (Brooklyn City Hall, pre- 1989 incorporation) mark the fifth anniversary of the speech given in 2002 by then- Illinois state senator Barack Obama -- at a time when such things were rather unpopular -- decrying the notion of going to war with Iraq as a "dumb", "unnecessary" (and other choice words) war. Full text of 2002 speech here. Full text of 5th anniversary speech delivered in Illinois by Senator Obama is found here (and really gives a complete picture of what the man is about, in the full context of a presidential race).

There were plenty of volunteers handing out signs etc and (after things got going for a while) plenty of attendees.

I brought my own sign:

(photo taken before the rally started)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

New York City, at eye level

Months after I finished building its web site (link goes to it) I finally went out of my way to go see Top of The Rock, the observation platform on top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza (the building seen during the opening credits of Tina Fey's 30 Rock sitcom; used to be the "RCA" building, now GE headquarters).

(I did not take the photo to the right,
but I did take this one)

So, from 70+ floors above street level:

The Pan Am building, with the Chrysler behind it.

The Sony building

Upper West Side

Upper East Side

Empire State building, with a new twin

Central Park...

...which isn't as big as one thinks

Citicorp Building

Then afterwards we went to a restaurant with lawn jockeys out front:

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: