30 April 2007

Celebrity Fit Club




I am trying to watch this season's Celebrity Fit Club and it certainly has the set up to be good but so far it's pretty lame. The trouble-maker this year is Dustin "Don't Call Me Screech" Diamond and it's hard to see if he really is that much of a jerk or if he's a better actor than people give him credit for. Based on previous performances, I'm going with the former.

Dustin tidbit:
In the May 2006 issue of Stuff magazine, readers voted Diamond the third most annoying former child actor that they would like to punch in the face. He was "beaten" by former child stars Danny Bonaduce and Corey Feldman.

Yeah, I can see that.

Anyway, what bothers me about this season is not the real or trumped-up drama but the fact that the celebrities are merely flabby. Nobody's over 300 pounds. Where are the really obese celebrities as in years past? What's up with that? Remember Ralphie May? Bruce Vilanch? Bizarre? Bone Crusher? Those people trying to lose weight... now THAT was inspiring. I wonder if VH1 was concerned about law suits or slowing down the action on hikes and what-not because these people couldn't keep up? Some from years past certainly did. Others' were exempted based on doctor's concerns. Hm.

27 April 2007

Bits of Flotsam

Why is it that the people who pontificate the most can't understand why nobody wants to listen to them?

I have now gotten the 4,532nd organizational phone list this month. I gave up printing each one out. Now I print out every 10th or so. It's close enough given tomorrow there will be more organizational changes and no doubt the updated phone list distributed in both the a.m. and p.m.

Cool quote to ponder:
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." --Albert Einstein
As Linda Richman would say "Discuss amongst yourselves."

Remember when Hollywood produced B movies? They weren't phenomenal but they were sometimes enjoyable and didn't cost $50B to create/market and didn't run 3 hours long.

Do people in other countries get their cars detailed? It seems like such a self-absorbed American thing to do. I am hoping to get my car detailed tomorrow, self-absorbed American that I am.

At what point do you get to respond to invitations with "No. We love you but we're just too dang busy." ?? I guess it wasn't so many years ago when I was longing for something to do on the weekends. Now every one seems to be booked up months in advance. I guess I should be grateful for these kinds of problems.

I'm always disappointed when I hear about an author all my life and then read him/her and think: what's all the fuss about? Maybe I just don't get the levels of complex symbolism. Or maybe not. Taste/preference is such a personal thing. On a related bit of flotsam: I'll often, at best, like 1 book on the best seller list and not be drawn at all to the others. But just the fact that this is the official list of currently beloved books makes me feel like I ought to like them all. Happily, I don't feel a need to buy them all.

If bookstores and libraries can co-exist, why can't music stores and free music downloads?

I know this is an unpopular sentiment right now but: sometimes road rage is appropriate! Just two days ago someone very nearly plowed into me making a u-turn even though I had right of way. I had to swerve into another lane to avoid getting hit. I blasted my horn and gesticulated wildly for a mile. No response. And don't even get me started on the fact that she was on the cell phone while making this bizarre driving maneuver. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing she couldn't hear the other side of the conversation well over my horn.

If appetizers are the best part of a wedding reception, why do we bother with a sit down meal? I say all appetizers, all night. We've already got the tapas craze. And we've always had dim sum. I say carry the movement farther and do a fixed price restaurant that's just butlers carrying trays of appetizers around for hours. They'd make a fortune on the drinks, as they do anyway, and things could be mass produced to keep costs down. Remember, you saw it here first.

25 April 2007

Nora's concerts

Check out Nora and the Nora sequel...

http://www.ravenswingstudio.com/docs/cats.html

God Save the Queen


Apparently the Queen (Liz) will be visiting my place of work in the next few weeks.

Peeve: I'm guessing I won't get an invite as I, like Kathy Griffin, am not on the "A" list.

NotPeeve: I don't have to work on my curtsy or my Queen-appropriate pleasantries.

Awesome: Her majesty has the best jewelry.

Shocking Headline (McCain)


"McCain jumps into presidential race"
Associated Press
17 minutes ago

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Republican John McCain (news, bio, voting record) officially entered the 2008 presidential race Wednesday,
blahblahblah.

Yawn.

Is this the most anti-climatic announcement ever?

And at 70, I don't think he's "jumping" anywhere.

Is it a coincidence that the stock market is over 13,000 on the day he officially announces? Perhaps he wants to be associated with a thriving economy? I would.

24 April 2007

New Additions for My Resume (Me writer! Me write good!)

I am now a food critic and a travel reviewer. Before you get too impressed I should say that I have gotten paid for neither of these activities (unless you count a free mousepad and magnet for signing up to be a critic). I don't have a "bi-line". But, yes, I have successfully published a restaurant review on the Washington City Paper site and I've posted hotel/travel reviews on TripAdvisor.com and WhereToStay.com. So not only can I pat myself on the back in a very 'vanity press' sort of way for this blog, but now I have contributed to other blogs/sites for all to see.

I gotta tell ya, I read other people's reviews now. ESPECIALLY for travel. Better the devil you know. Not that I don't take them with a grain of salt. Some people would truly be miserable in paradise. Still, there's so much you can learn from people who have nothing to gain or lose from telling you their "truth". Often you get a very different story from what the establishment wants you to know.

La, la, la. Time to redo my resume? Maybe not.

20 April 2007

Terror at the Edges

It's not bad enough that we had the VA Tech massacre. Now we have copycat incidents all over the country. It's like the crazy is catching. And with the crazy catching, we all become edgier; the fear creeps into our lives; we relive other horrors; and we catastrophize in the blink of an eye.

Enough.

I'm not putting any more fearful energy out there. I'm focusing on calm and care. If bad things are going to happen, at least I'm not contributing to them or reacting in an unsafe way out of fear.

Enough.

19 April 2007

A Different Kind of Dancing in the Dark


So here's the thing about public bathrooms... I tend to flush with my foot (shoe-encased of course) and then as quickly as I can I turn around because, as we all know from all those nasty, scary 20/20 reports, a high-powered toilet, such as you find in public bathrooms, can send a mist quite a distance. So my public bathroom experiences tend to end pirouettically.

So here I am at EatBar, and I head to the Ladies Room. I enter a stall and while I am in there I hear someone else enter the bathroom and enter the only other stall. She uses the facilities, flushes, leaves the stall, I hear the water running at the sink and then I am plunged into darkness. I say "Hello?? Helllllllllllllooooooooooooooooo??" but she is gone. I wonder if the whole bar, nay, neighborhood has experienced a power outage. I fumble for my purse and find my Palm Pilot. I switch it on and with the light of it piloting my way (is that why they call them Pilots?) I complete my flush and pirouette and head to the sink. Again with the Pilot I see that the light switch is in the off position. I switch it on and curse the woman who just left. There were only two stalls and she had to pass the closed door of the one I was in to get to the one she was in. Surely she realized there was someone else in here. Oh hahahahaha. What a DEElightful joke.

Before I start to seethe I try to find another way to look at this. Maybe she didn't notice the closed door. Maybe she was just trying to save the restaurant or the planet some electricity.

MutterGrouseGrumble.

18 April 2007

EatBar Wine & Cheese Flight

Attended a meetup hosted by the VA Wine Club last night at EatBar which is connected to the very fashionable Tallula Restaurant in Arlington.

We're glad we went and we met some very nice people.

EatBar offers a great deal in their wine & cheese flight pairing. We had 3 Spanish wines: one white-the Nessa AlbariƱo 2005[YUM!] and two reds: an Arrocal 2005 and a Aramantes 2005. They were each very nice and interesting to compare-especially the two reds. Plus we got slices of three wonderful Spanish cheeses: a Mahon, a Manchego, and a Garrotxa, all of which were very good. They were paired for us and served with a fruit chutney of some sort (blueberries and raisins?) and toast points. Excellent! All for $10. Such a deal. And if the flight isn't your thing, Tallula, who partners with Planet Wine, boasts a rather extensive wine program featuring over 350 wines by the bottle and more than 65 wines available by the glass. Looking at the Tallula menu we're thinking we'll have to come back for a meal!

17 April 2007

Deja Idol

While this season's AI crop is trying desperately to make an impression on the American conscience, Idol wannabes from seasons past are all over the airwaves. Oh sure, idol winners like Kelly and Carrie are out there but I'm talking about the runners up. In the last week I heard a track from Elliot Yamin's new album on the radio, saw a Katherine McPhee video on VH1 and get this... Bucky Covington has an album getting airtime, forgawdssake. Bucky. Yeeeeeech. Of course, Chris Daughtry's album is killing, and Kelly Pickler is clawing her way up the country charts. So I'm thinking two things:

Where is Reuben? Where is Bo? Where is Taylor? => Is it better to win or just make the top ten?

And...despite the predictions that AI is in decline due to the Sanjaya phenomenon, I'm thinking it's just the opposite. "Any publicity is good publicity" wins again.


Week after week, I think: this season's people have no personality, no stage presence. Week after week, I watch. I think it must be a hypnotizing trick of CocaCola's.

16 April 2007

Safety Week

It's safety week in my organization. So in the interest of improving safety everywhere, let me pass on a few common sense tips:

  1. You are 30 to 40 TIMES more likely to die if you are ejected from a vehicle than if you stay in the vehicle during a crash. If you're in a crash, your body will move in directions you may not want it to so wear your freakin' seat belt.
  2. Don't car surf. (Definition below.) Jeez. You are not in a movie and life is hard enough!
  3. If you feel like you're having a heart attack, you probably are. Don't say "it's probably nothing" and take your chances. There are drugs that can help with a heart attack prior to cardiac arrest but you have to get help to get them.

If you don't want to take reasonable precautions in your daily life for your own sake, do it for the people who love you and don't want to see you in the hospital or the morgue.

This completes my public service announcement. Remember, I rant because I care.

Car surfing
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Car surfing is an
illegal stunt in which passengers of moving vehicles perform various stunts, including hanging out of the car or 'surfing' on the hood while it is in motion. Car surfing has caused several people to be killed[1] during the course of such stunts. It is normally done lying on the hood or on the roof while the car drives.
Car surfing has been popularized by the
hyphy movement and is similar to ghost riding.

13 April 2007

Web Scraping

I attended a presentation of a new consolidation web-site tool. The person talking used the term "scraping" a number of times. As in: "we don't control the information, we just go out to the site and scrape the data." Sounded painful. But lo and behold Wikipedia knows the term:

Screen scraping
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to:
navigation, search
Screen scraping is a technique in which a computer program
extracts
data from the display output of another program. The
program doing the scraping is called a screen scraper. The key element that distinguishes screen scraping from regular
parsing is that the output being scraped was intended for final display to a human user, rather than as input to another program, and is therefore usually neither documented nor structured for convenient parsing. Screen scraping often involves ignoring binary data (usually images or multimedia data) and formatting elements that obscure the essential,
desired text data.
Optical character recognition software is a kind of visual scraper.
There are a number of synonyms for screen scraping, including: Data scraping, data extraction, web scraping, page scraping, web page wrapping and HTML scraping (the last four being specific to scraping web pages).

'Course all you techies knew that. Me? I'm out of the loop. But then I'm an old timer. I can remember life before Wikipedia. It was quiet in the cave, but it was a good life.

12 April 2007

BEEEEEEEEEEEEEP/The Emergency Broadcasting System

I actually heard the EBS, complete with annoying high pitched beeps and tones, used for an emergency this morning. Remember when it was just one long high-pitched tone? Now it's a combination of a medium-long high-pitched tone with shorter beeps.

I was listening to the Tony Kornheiser show on Washington Post Radio and mid-sentence they cut him off with the emergency tone/beeps and then announced a local child abduction/fugitive situation with instructions on what to do if you spot the people/vehicle/license plate. Then they closed off with the beeps and tones again. Tony came back on the air and was surprised and delighted that he had been cut off.

I was too. All my life I've been hearing this EBS concluding with "had this been an actual emergency, you would have been instructed... ". Finally it's being used for an actual emergency. Yay!! Living in and around the nation's capitol, I want to know this EBS concept can work.

11 April 2007

Dennis Miller aka Right-wing Whack Job


Remember when Dennis Miller wasn't a right-wing whack job? Remember when his ramblings and observations were pithy and abstract and entertaining?
Now he's an O'Reilly Factor regular.


Tsk.

10 April 2007

InnoCentive

If X Prize jazzed you, check out www.innocentive.com

"InnoCentive matches top scientists to relevant research and development challenges facing leading companies around the globe, for rewards up to $100,000 USD or more. "

Here's the game... a company can't figure out how to solve a problem but they know solving it is key. They submit the problem. InnoCentive matches problem poser with problem solver through a double blind process. If the company agrees that solution N actually solves the problem, solver N gets the reward. This is similar to other open source approaches to problem solving.

Here's the part I found particularly interesting. What they found when they did this was that in most cases the person who solved the problem was not in the field that the problem was coming from. I guess Einstein was right. Problems cannot be solved by the level of awareness that created them.

Gives me courage, too, when I'm in a room full of "experts" and nobody seems to be looking at things the way I am. Hm.

09 April 2007

Movie Review: The Prestige (The other magician movie)

After seeing and enjoying The Illusionist, we decided to take a turn at the other magician movie out right now, The Prestige.

Where The Illusionist is a story of enduring love, The Prestige is a story of enduring revenge. This is a strange tale of ratcheting competitiveness and vindictiveness mixed with a smidgeon of science fiction that isn't pleasant to watch despite the top notch cast that includes Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as friends that turn vengeful rivals, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie. There's also nice supporting work by lots of familiar faces like Edward Hibbert (Gil Chesterton on Frasier) and Daniel Davis (Niles on The Nanny). The themes, oft repeated, are that successful magic requires "getting your hands dirty" and obsession only leads to disaster. If you like twisty plots and you don't mind dark themes, get this. I guarantee you will not figure out the ending ahead of time. It may take you a while to figure it out after the last scene has played.

I give high marks for the unusual plot and beautiful period costumes/scenery but the overall movie only 2 out of 4 jujubees because I didn't enjoy it so much as watch it like I'd watch an accident unfolding.

05 April 2007

Movie Review: The Illusionist


We saw The Illusionist on pay-per-view. Well worth the $3.99 and then some. The story was engrossing, the acting excellent and the scenery quite evocative. If you've seen academy award nominated Edward Norton in some of his other roles (Primal Fear and Fight Club come to mind immediately), you know just how good he can be. He plays the lead character with intensity but also with an understated approach that always makes you wonder, appropriately, what he's up to. Similarly if you've seen academy award nominated Paul Giamatti in such films as Sideways and Duets, you know you're in for a good ride with him playing key character, Inspector Uhl. It's a drama, a love story and a mystery wrapped into one somewhat clever film. I give it 3 out of 4 jujubees.

X Prize

Tired of waiting for the changes you want to see in the world? Got a breakthrough approach that blows away the incremental ideas that are out there? Want $10M for it?

Check out:
http://www.xprize.org/

From the site...

What is an X PRIZE?
An X PRIZE is a multi-million dollar award given to the first team to achieve a specific goal, set by the X PRIZE Foundation, which has the potential to benefit humanity. Rather than awarding money to honor past achievements or directly funding research, an X PRIZE incites innovation by tapping into our competitive and entrepreneurial spirits.
The X PRIZE Foundation began a revolution in private spaceflight with the $10 million Ansari X PRIZE. On October 4, 2004, the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team, led by famed aircraft designer Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, captured the Ansari X PRIZE. The world took notice of this great achievement and the winning SpaceShipOne is now hanging in the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.
The Ansari X PRIZE was modeled after the $25,000 Orteig Prize, offered in 1919 by wealthy hotelier Raymond Orteig, to the first pilot who could fly non-stop between New York and Paris. The prize was finally won in 1927 by an unknown airmail pilot named Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh won the hearts of a nation, and his world-changing achievement spawned a $300 billion aviation industry.
X PRIZE competitions capture the imagination of the public and speed radical breakthroughs that can ultimately change the way we see ourselves and how we live on this planet. Stay tuned as the X PRIZE Foundation unveils new X PRIZEs to spark revolutions in the space, medicine, energy, automotive, education, environmental, and social arenas.

04 April 2007

Check out Useless Information blog

At:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=35047593&blogID=249328025

you'll learn such things as:
-The longest one syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
-A straightened coat hangar is 44 inches long.
-September 20th is "Love your teeth day" in China.

If this is the kind of stuff that feeds your soul, have at it.

Banning Smoking in Restaurants

Apparently the Governor of Virginia is arguing, or has just argued, for a smoking ban in restaurants in the state. DC and Maryland have already decided for this. In fact, there are something like 21 states that have passed a ban for restaurants.

I don't smoke. I don't like to be around smoke. However, I have loved ones and friends that do smoke. Even though I wish they wouldn't smoke--for their sakes--I support their right to do so.

If it were up to me, I'd support a different kind of proposal: why not give the restaurant or bar, for that matter, the right to choose whether they will be a smoking establishment or a non-smoking establishment? This way, people could choose where to go, what kind of establishment they wish to support, whether they want to work around second-hand smoke, and so on.

What's wrong with choice?

Outlaw Cops on the Highway

Okay, hear me out.

In theory we have cops on the highway to keep crazy people from killing us with their bad driving.

In reality, we see crazy people who do their best to kill us with their bad driving all the time. We never see a cop when we see these people.

We see cops, eventually, sitting by the side of the road, at the end of a 20 mile back up. Why is there a 20 mile back up? Because there's a cop sitting by the side of the road.

Take the cops off traffic duty and they'll get much more respect. Not to mention simply having more law enforcement where it's needed for more serious problems.

Take the cops off traffic duty and the traffic will flow. I've learned to avoid the crazies so far. I think I can continue to successfully do so without cop intervention.

Tangentially, when did cop cars start to look like Snoopy's doghouse in "A Charlie Brown Christmas" after he wins 1st place in the decorating contest? Now there are lights in the grill and lights in the window and lights on the roof and the tail-lights alternate with the turn lights and the whole car looks like it's doing the macarena. Bizarre.