Friday, January 21, 2011

A fun, weird project

Okay, this is definitely weird... so I'm definitely inclined to tell you about it!

For everyone whose been involved in Zombie Walks in the last year or two, you really need to be part of the 3D Zombie Puppet Musical. Go read the associated page and watch the video. You'll love it. You can be part of it!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing the current chapter

Writing is a complex and delicate art, which for me, requires the appropriate background noise. In this case, the appropriate background noise is Disc 1 of 18 of a wonderful Christmas present from the Babe: the 100% Complete Bullwinkle. It's all 163 episodes of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. This is something that will do wonders for my writing. It's always good to have the perfect environment.

How not to drink vodka

My stepmother Elaine, who is from Texas, told me once about how, when she was a college student in the DFW area, she and two friends were off at a hotel once. They had a room and were talking about classes and drinking shots of vodka and getting quietly blasted.

This had been going on for a while when one of the guys said "Hey, let's drink vodka like the Russians do." How's that? the other two wanted to know. "We float cracked black pepper on the surface of the vodka shot." Well, that seemed like a good idea, so they start sprinkling pepper liberally on the surface of the vodka shot and knocking it down and, yes, it was really quite tasty.

Elaine woke up the next morning with a really rare hangover. As some of us know, the hangover you get from, say, a dozen shots of vodka is really quite spectacular by itself, but the... unpleasantness of the vodka hangover is actually secondary compared to the nuclear glow of Cerenkov radiation coming from the scant quarter cup of black pepper sitting in a pool of acid in one's stomach. And as Elaine lay there with her stomach glowing with pain, wishing she could just die and get it over with, she swore a mighty oath that if she ever saw this yahoo again, she would kill him on the spot for suggesting this idea in the first place.

When Elaine told me this story perhaps 35 years after the occurrence, a thought occurred to me and I asked if she had, in fact, ever seen this guy since. "No," she replied, "and that's a damn good thing, because an oath like that doesn't grow dim over time."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Divvying up an estate

(This odd blog post is coming up because a dear friend's mom died and she's about to go through this process. I know nothing of her family dynamics, but I'm reminded of hearing this when my mother died and it was helpful.)

Whenever someone dies, there's a bunch of stuff that needs to be divided up. Here's a reasonable way to do it when there's more than one sibling to divide things between to minimize the muss and fuss:
  1. List everything that's up for grabs that isn't listed in wills, codicils, or are just "everyone knows" of the "Mom always said that so-and-so should get her wedding ring and this other person was to get the china" sort.
  2. Identify everything that counts as a "big" thing, such as cars, boats, jewelry, silver.
  3. Everyone gets to pick a big thing. If there are enough big things to make two rounds of choices, have a second round. If you don't have enough big things to make an even round--such as 4 big things and three siblings--pad out the incomplete round with a choice of, say, 2 items from the "small" list to equate to 1 item from the big list.
  4. Tip: You can determine who goes first any way you like: oldest first, youngest first, drawing cards. When you have subsequent rounds, make sure that nobody is stuck with the same position. Best way is probably to come up with an order the first time, then move the first person to the end of the line and everyone up one.
  5. When you get to the small stuff, everyone cycles through picking items from the list until they're all gone. Write everyone's choices down on a big piece of paper or even on a whiteboard if you're that organized.
  6. Haggle. If you weren't able to get the big thing you wanted, see if you can come up with something to swap for it with the person who did. Maybe they'll sell it: there may be a great value to one of the cars, so if you wanted the 2008 Honda, you may need to haggle with your checkbook as well as the mantle clock and Xmas ornaments that you got in the "small things" list. Nobody is likely to get everything they want and that's life. Be civil.
  7. When everything's as settled as it's going to be, everyone should take their stuff and make arrangements to get it home.
This is a reasonably equitable process, but remember that even for the best of families, there will be a lot of emotions charging things up. Try to be as nice and gracious about everyone as you can.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I really like apple brandy

You know, I really like apple brandy. It's a wonderful spirit, warm and tasty and crisp. I was thinking a nightcap might be nice and I went downstairs and saw the bottle of Clear Creek Apple Brandy and said "Yes!"

Clear Creek Distillery is a local company, based in Portland. They do all kinds of fruit spirits with locally grown fruit. They give tours, too, with samples. Try them out if you haven't already.

I see faces everywhere....

This is a strange and appealing little photo array. It's things that have faces that you wouldn't have expected to have faces. Like these....


Quote du jour

My girlfriend is a porn star.

She's going to be so pissed when she finds out.

Optical illusions to lighten your day

Here are a couple optical illusions just for the pleasure of them.

The first is the winner of the 2010 Best Illusion Contest. Watch the video at the former link or here. More information on that one illusion can be found in this article.

The other optical illusion is a video of lined grid illusions that are fun to watch.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day by day, we make incremental progress

I'm making incremental progress with the computer problems. I've got a new DVD drive in my #1 computer to replace the one that toasted with the old power supply and I've been able to get the #2 computer's boot drive reformatted, wiping out the old WinServer2003 installation.

Funny thing, though. This is the computer I'd been using for a few years for my Wonderware work computer. It'd BSOD on me occasionally and then with increasing frequency until by the time I stopped using it, it'd be BSODing 4-5x/day. I'd been thinking it might've been the RAM going bad somewhere, but I hadn't done much about it.

I had it BSOD on me again earlier today when I was installing Windows from the CD. Okay, no problem, I got it restarted and it's working now, sorta, but I was having some problems getting it to recognize the MS Mouse off the USB ports. I got a msg that the USB ports weren't being recognized correctly. NOOOOOOOO problem, I'm now up and running and can reboot this computer happily.

While I was booting it, I went into the BIOS to change the boot order so it'd hit the hard disk first and not the CD. Plugged that info in, and hit F10 to save, pressed Y and then ENTER, and BLAM! DOS/ASCII garbage on the screen.

Gee, that doesn't sound like a RAM problem, I said, that sounds like some kind of a CMOS/motherboard problem.

I tried to change the boot sequence in the BIOS again and at the same point I got EXACTLY the same DOS/ASCII garbage on the screen. Even with the same colors on the characters.

So, I'm going to identify if this is the motherboard or something repairable. If worse comes to worst, I can always buy a new mobo for this tower for $50-60 and plug in the CPU chip and I'll be in good shape.

What's nicest about all of this is that I'm now solving problems on the #2 computer, because the #1 computer is actually up and running still. Hot damn!