")) { $ctr++; } } } if ($ctr > 0) return("(".$ctr.")");} ?>
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Thursday, August 29, 2002

blogs around town: Suck it up: Fire, fire
Why is R's blog the best around? Because when the big stuff happens (quitting an insulting job, the neighbor's house burns down), she captures the little human details (runny poo, boardup vultures) so well in her populist manner. My advice: when you hire R. to do your copywriting, don't bother suggesting changes to her language--just smile and nod and sign the check. Librarians kick ass!
erik 1:46 PM | permalink | yap

standing tall with pride: Free World's Highest Haircuts
I'm just bursting with office pride.1 My building may make it into the record books. I'm just glad it's on a Saturday, so there won't be a bunch of kids, itchy from little bits of hair, wandering around the security gate and jamming into the revolving doors. Dammit, I'm getting cranky. Let's lighten the mood with this tidbit from the website:

Fun facts about The Hancock Observatory, a.k.a. "Big John":
Isn't that cute?2 The building talks! I wish I had black aluminum skin, too.
1. I'm being sarcastic.
2. I'm still being sarcastic.

erik 10:57 AM | permalink | yap

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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

liz and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day
soapUnfortunately, the scented candle Liz got for free for arranging the candle sale at her building didn't smell like the label said--in fact, it had no odor at all.
Fortunately, the soap she bought smelled like Sweet Tarts.
erik 10:33 AM | permalink | yap

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Tuesday, August 27, 2002

blogs around town: bullhead: dr. ray white
I heard that Ray White died a while back, from an old classmate I ran into (as I mention in the comments to this post), but bullhead's post and the attached comments spur a greater mention:
Dr. White was not my favorite professor. In my first semester at ISU I was feeling particularly lonely and out of place. Dr. White, in his Intro to Grad Study class, implemented a class project that was graded in a fair manner, but a rather harsh manner it seemed to me at the time. Assigned a long list of bafflingly obscure questions to research, the class was encouraged to form into groups to collect the answers. The class of twelve split into two, putting me into a group of four. When two of our four become frustrated at me and the other member for failing to answer all of our assigned questions (I really wasn't trying too hard), they split, joining the group of eight and leaving the two of us without many answers. We got an F.
This has absolutely nothing to do with my opinion of Dr. White. I always found him to be a delightful man, taking joy in his own particular interests (be it copyright law or the upkeep of his lawn by students). I just didn't like his class. Or, more to the point, the people in his class, who decided not to let the two of us join the big group and all collaborate. In a generally downer time for me, I discovered the sort of people that go to grad school: uptight neat-freaks unwilling to give second chances.
The best part of grad school was the other people I discovered: people who saw how the system worked, and realized that there's always a way to work outside the system and stay cool. We had a much better time learning from each other and not worrying so much, organizing our own writing workshops and deconstructing The Simpsons.
Just to drive home the point: I'm not anywhere near so bitter as this post makes it seem. I had a great time in grad school, and I came out of it with some very important friends: Greg, C.K., Matt, Lee, Brian, and, of course, my soon-to-be wife, Liz.
erik 1:11 PM | permalink | yap

micro-review: Sweet Home Alabama (2002)
coverWhile this is a perfectly enjoyable and amusing movie, the main driving force of the plot seems to be that Josh Lucas is hot. The women I saw this movie with seemed to find it much more romantic than I did; I just thought it was a happy, fluffy comedy. I felt bad for Patrick Dempsey, a perfectly nice guy who does nothing wrong, yet gets shafted. Although I was puzzled by Ethan Embry's sudden metamorphosis into a major character, I was of course delighted by the always wonderful Embry (and, as usual, great job by Reese Witherspoon). The notion that Witherspoon struggles to escape her past but is drawn back by charming rednecks was not evident by any drama on the screen, but that must have been the intention, because that's what happens.
In summary: a must-see for fans of the no-fault divorce. The breakdown:
erik's op
liz's op
the cat's op

erik 11:48 AM | permalink | yap

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Thursday, August 22, 2002

smart news: Straight Dope Staff Report: What's the origin of "ahoy"?
As if Edison wasn't annoying enough, now we learn that he invented "hello":

Alexander Graham Bell suggested "ahoy!" as the standard telephone greeting, but it didn't catch on--for obvious reasons, you may think. Don't be so sure. Brooklyn College professor Allen Koenigsberg, author of The Patent History of the Phonograph, argues that the word that did catch on, "hello," was previously unknown and may have been invented by the man who proposed it, Thomas Edison.
At least now we've cleared up the mystery of Mr. Burns answering the phone, "Ahoy hoy!"
I'd like to send this letter to the Prussian consulate in Siam by aeromail. Am I too late for the 4:30 auto-gyro?
erik 11:54 AM | permalink | yap

blogs around: thinkpage journal: there's a new thinkpage
Aww, shucks. Anyway, Jeff has plenty more entertaining designs than I. HipSmart never changes (though I gotta chop off some dead wood soon).
erik 10:52 AM | permalink | yap

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Tuesday, August 20, 2002

banal technicality onlookers update: Results of BBAS Elimination poll 2
Ernie fixed the part where you get to see who voted for who.
erik 9:16 PM | permalink | yap

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Saturday, August 17, 2002

banality onlookers update: Results of BBAS Elimination poll
ErnieMJBradSo, Brad has been eliminated from BBAS. Disappointing, but hardly surprising.
What is surprising, however, is this nifty feature of the Yahoo! Groups poll in which Brad was doused: you get to see who voted for who. Although most of the email addys are loosely hidden (in the form of name@#..., meaning all but the first letter of the email domain are hidden), it's trivial to figure it out. For example, what would minjung@i... resolve to but mingjung@iistix.com? Hey! The contestants are voting along with the public!
Let's see who else voted . . . Hmm, could ernie@l... be ernie@littleyellowdifferent.com? Holy shit, the host is voting! (And it seems he, too, has a soft spot for little hackle-raising Brad.)
erik 10:44 PM | permalink | yap

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Thursday, August 15, 2002

banality onlookers update: BigBlogger: Message 933: sarchasm
naravaughan pins down exactly what's been bothering me in this post on the games message board. While it seems fairly obvious who will be nominated by the group for booting, I would really savor the chance to vote to boot one of the earnest dimwits. Alas, it will be the sarcastic airplanes that get nominated, not the indignant who stare, slack-jawed, as the plane whooshes over their heads.
erik 1:15 PM | permalink | yap

banality update: Big Blogger All-Star!
Ah, that's more like the Brad of old.
erik 12:32 AM | permalink | yap

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Wednesday, August 14, 2002

banality update: Big Blogger All-Star!
the snookeethe snookerWhy do people bite at Brad's goadings? It wasn't even a particularly good one, too. He did a lot better back in SurvivorBlog 2 than this railing-at-mistreatment-of-fish in BBAS. The kid's funny, but no one seems to get it:

I have one thing to say to you: How much would you like to be stuffed in a confined little aquarium, have regulated feedings, and be forced to swim around for someone else's pleasure? I know I sure as hell wouldn't like it too much.
Seriously, "swim around for someone else's pleasure?"? That's funny. I mean, if fish weren't captured by mean humans, they certainly wouldn't swim around all day tiring themselves out. They'd play poker, or touch themselves, or anything but swim.
Obviously, Brad isn't seriously attacking pet owners. He's just raising some hackles. All I can say is: I knew it wouldn't take long for the hackles to rise.
erik 5:20 PM | permalink | yap

bizarre coincidence: Inconspicuous Consumption: Swing-A-Way Hand-Held Can Opener
About a year and a half ago, I purchased an issue of the zine, Beer Frame: The Journal of Inconspicuous Consumption, on the recommendation of a friend. I enjoyed an article about a can opener that is almost famous, as most everyone has this particular model but no one really notices.
Flash forward: I am now working at Supermarket News. My boss asked me today to find out where a company called Swing-A-Way Manufacturing Co. is located. A quick Google search turned up this article, surprisingly familiar to me. Then I started reading the text, the specifics of which had escaped me during the intervening time:

One interesting aspect of covering the consumer beat is that I subscribe to a bunch of product- and brand-oriented trade magazines. One of these is Supermarket News, which has articles on new grocery items, new merchandising strategies, and so on. The one constant in the magazine's pages is that each weekly issue carries an ad for the Swing-A-Way can opener. "The Original," says the ad. "We invented it in 1955. America's #1 brand."
Holy crap. This article not only presaged my employment at SN, but also today's interest in Swing-A-Way. A follow-up: Swing-A-Way is no longer advertising in SN, but has been seen in Grocery Headquarters. My boss, the Midwest ad sales manager, hopes to reverse the trend.
erik 11:31 AM | permalink | yap

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Tuesday, August 13, 2002

smart news: Straight Dope Staff Report: Who was Dr. Spooner of "spoonerism" fame?
What base text will produce the most sexily authoritarian Spoonerism? I nominate "popcorn."
erik 2:40 PM | permalink | yap

blogs around: Big Blogger All-Star!
go ken!Ernie is running a weblog gameshow. We've seen this all before. In fact, we've seen these contestants all before: they're veterens of earlier webloggameshows. As a member of SurvivorBlog2, I was eligible for a spot on BBAS, but cautioned restraint to Ernie. I have grown calmer and more serene since SB2, and the drama-filled blog whoring is behind me.
dammit dammit dammit why can't i break 8000 at blogdex?!? doesn't anyone else want to be related to me at blogtree??? only a goddamn blog hot or not rating of 7.3? aargh, the only people who visit hipsmart are looking for donkey sex. i give up.
erik 9:35 AM | permalink | yap

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Monday, August 12, 2002

baseball news: Enos Slaughter Dies
Sales Clerk: This bat was made for Slaughter.
Costello: Haven't you got one that was made for baseball?
--"Who's on First?" routine, Abbott & Costello
erik 5:01 PM | permalink | yap

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Wednesday, August 07, 2002

for the sporty math geek: Major League Baseball Standings
So, the Cubs aren't doing quite so dismally as I represented (which isn't to say they aren't dismal). I've been making an error in my calculation of the Cubs anti-magic number: I've been assuming the wildcard spot in the playoffs would be easier for them to reach than simply winning their division, so I never really paid any attention to the NL Central leader. Turns out that St. Louis, leading the Central, has a worse record than the current wildcard-spot team, San Francisco in second place in the West. Since it would be easier for the Cubs to overtake St. Louis than San Francisco, the number of Cubs losses until they are eliminated from the playoffs jumps up a little on my counter today (relative to it's usually fast decline).
Do you like math? I do. Too much.
erik 4:57 PM | permalink | yap

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Monday, August 05, 2002

kick out the memes: BlogTree.com - Weblog Genealogy
Let's replace the shallow Blog Hot or Not with this cool new meme in our "How am I thinking about blogs today?" lexicon. I had to think for a little while to remember what it was that spawned HipSmart--back then, I hadn't yet heard the term blog . . . I was just visiting a couple of websites very frequently because some cool people kept updating them.
And C.K. is cool, too, cuz he listed HipSmart as a parent of Kopfschmerzen.
erik 3:19 PM | permalink | yap

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Friday, August 02, 2002

smart news: Straight Dope: "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious"
Who likes kites?/Let's go fly a kite.
Is it just me, or are word origins about the most imprecise thing to nail down? Damn you, Derrida.
erik 10:37 AM | permalink | yap

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Thursday, August 01, 2002

and again
Another revolving door double-up! Two in one afternoon. Sheesh.
erik 4:26 PM | permalink | yap

bad engineering?
Why do people insist on going through revolving doors two at a time? Just now, on my way in, a lady decided to cram into the opposite chamber with her friend, and got her backpack caught in the process. Revolving doors are made for a single person per chamber, except for the really large one at the hospital in Bloomington-Normal (it also has a motor that keeps it revolving constantly, and clicker-type sonar proximity detectors that speed up the revolutions when someone steps into it). On the other end of the annoying scale (also annoying, but in a different way) are the people in front of you in line for the revolving door who seem unable to enter it if someone is using it in the opposite direction, e.g., they won't take an unoccupied inward-bound chamber if someone is occupying a different outward-bound chamber.
I understand the opinion that states a design is flawed if people can't seem to use it. Granted, the idea of "intuitive" is strained, given that OS GUIs have fairly strange rules based on a tenuous metaphor, and using a computer is hardly intuitive. Yes, interesting things can happen when people come up with unintended uses. Still, can't you damn people figure out a fucking revolving door? Should engineers be forced to replace the last century of revolving doors for something easier and less efficient?
I wonder if the State of Illinois would balk at the vanity license plate I'd like: RTFM?
erik 3:08 PM | permalink | yap