Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Punkin Enters The Matrix

It looks like Punkin has entered The Matrix in this picture. Very cool.

Evil Overlord Guide

This list of The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord is really funny. Here are my favorites:

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

The Arms

My brother works as a counselor for troubled teens and pre-teens. The precise nature of the "trouble" varies a lot. It has been as mild as truancy, or as serious as arson or armed robbery. Anyway, he recently started doing in-home visits with the families, and he told me this story.

He went to see one family, and the mother had huge tattoos all over her upper arms. She told him something like, "I just had these done, and they still kind of hurt." My brother tried to casually look at the tattoos to see what they were, but without seeming like he was staring. He was surprised to see that covering one of her arms she had a picture of a naked woman with enormous breasts. And he could not quite tell what the other tattoo was, because her shirt was in the way. So he asked her, "uh, so, what do those tattoos represent?"

She said, "Oh, you know, it's hard to explain, it's like the Yin and Yang!"

I'm guessing the naked woman would have to be the Yin. I wish he had found out what the Yang picture was, though, because now I'm curious.

Saturday, June 25, 2005


This potted gardenia is the newest addition to my deck. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Flag-Drowning Is The New Flag-Burning

We hear so much about flag burning, that I'm afraid we may lose track of the equally important problems of flag drowning, flag choking, and flag boiling. Luckily, the U.S. House passed a bill that is not limited to just flag burning, but states, "The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."

But I'm afraid that limiting it to cover physical desecration is just too narrow. What about emotional desecration? What about insulting the flag verbally, or sneering at it? These should be prohibited too. And what about non-physical flags? Can we afford to sit idly by while people make 3D-rendered movies in which virtual flags are consumed by texture-mapped flame-shaped polygons? I think not.

Some people have already planned out how to "crack" this law by burning things that only resemble the flag, but are not exactly the flag. I don't think this excuse is going to work at all. It would be like someone in England saying, "but when I threatened to kill the Queen, I spelled it Kween, and there's no such word, so it doesn't count." Good luck with that defense.

I'm sure courts will interpret "flag" to mean "anything that might remind you of the flag" and "desecration" to mean "anything upsetting." If a protester steps on something sort of flag-shaped that has red, white, and blue on it, like a paper bag from Burgerville, USA, then the important thing isn't whether or not this is "really" a flag, the important thing is that it annoyed me by reminding me of flag burning, therefore it is extremely illegal.

Quick reference guide to things that will count as desecration:
  • Projecting an image of the flag onto Britney Spears
  • Having a tattoo of the flag, and then getting a sunburn there
  • "Sexy cheerleading" within view of the flag
  • Saying that some other country's flag is prettier, if the flag could overhear it
  • Failing to prevent the flag from burning of natural causes (such as a lightning-strike) by not having an adequate automated fire-extinguisher system in place
  • Flag drowning, flag choking, flag electrocution, flag defenestration, flag poisoning, flag whipping (flag-gelation), flag freezing, flag crucifixion, flag boiling, flag burning, or feeding the flag to raccoons or other wild animals
  • Wearing a flag thong (especially if worn while "sexy cheerleading")
  • Burning a picture of the flag, or even a picture of the picture of the flag, etc.
  • Painting a flag on the bottom of a swimming pool (counts as flag-drowning)
I hope that helped clarify this important issue.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Scallop Crab Cakes

The Osaka accent is the Japanese equivalent of the American Southern accent, even though it sounds totally different. And in the same spirit of completely-different-yet-the-same, Capitol Coffee House is my neighborhood's equivalent of a fine Paris bistro, even though they are totally different.

If you live in Portland, or are visiting, you must stop by there and try the scallop crab cakes. This is one of the best dishes I've had in a long time!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Muppet Panic

On the way home from work, I saw a woman walking a very large dog by the side of the road. For just a split second, from my angle, it did not look like a dog at all. It looked exactly like a Muppet. So I had this crazy momentary panic reaction, that went like this (imagine a Dave Chapelle voice here): "Aaah! That's a Muppet! Muppets are real! What's going on!? Aaah!"

Then the dog turned, and I saw that it was just the most unrealistic-looking actual dog I've ever seen.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Vampires and Sex

Michelle writes about reading erotic vampire mysteries. This reminds me, a friend once told me about a theory he had heard. The theory goes that vampire stories can be interpreted as an allegory for people who have some type of non-mainstream sexuality. Here are some of the parallels:
  • Being part of a secretive subculture, and more comfortable among one's "own kind"
  • Having to hide some part of one's nature from ordinary society and try to blend in
  • The "unusual acts" that characterize the subculture typically occur at night, or at least in darkness
  • One has regular "cravings" for these acts, which provide intense satisfaction once they are completed
  • The acts involve an exchange of bodily fluids
  • Being feared by members of ordinary society, who might even try to destroy you
  • It is possible, but not that common, for someone from outside the subculture to be brought into the group
I don't think that the authors of vampire stories necessarily intend their works to be interpreted this way, but it is one possible interpretation. And ever since I heard this theory, I've come to think that maybe all vampire stories are at least subliminally sexual.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

F1 Commits U.S.-market Suicide

Disbelief silenced the crowd when only six cars took their places on the grid. When people realised what was happening, that silence turned to anger. Fingers were raised and boos rang out. One fan showed his displeasure by throwing a can on to the track.

Before the cars had completed a lap the first of those to leave had left their seats and begun walking through the tunnel and out into the car parks.

-- the Telegraph

Only 6 cars raced in the F1 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Michelin said their tires were not safe to run on, and so all 14 cars that were on Michelins withdrew from the race. Michael Schumacher won, but track officials did not even show up for the trophy ceremony, and many fans booed it.

The Michelin teams offered a compromise: they would run if a new chicane were put into the track. F1 did not allow this, and I don't blame them, because where would it end? Would tracks get changed every time somebody's equipment wasn't up to snuff? Michelin knew what the track was going to be like ahead of time, and they failed to show up with suitable tires.

Sadly, this is probably the beginning of the end for F1 in the United States. U.S. racing these days is all about NASCAR, and instead of attracting new fans to F1, this race just made a lot of people feel cheated.

More Flower Pr0n

A pink rose in my garden. Posted by Hello

A lily in my garden. Posted by Hello

Monday, June 13, 2005

Kick! Punch! It’s all in the mind!

This girl was on one of those makeover shows where they give you a whole new look. This is the "before" picture. Her original look really reminded me of Parappa the Rapper; I started thinking of the Parappa music when I saw her outfit. It was cute, in a Parappa sort of way. I wish I also had the "after" picture because at the end of the show she looked very good, and very different. Posted by Hello

Unidentified Flowering Object

I don't know exactly what this is, because we planted a whole bunch of bulbs and didn't label them. But I like it. Posted by Hello

Friday, June 10, 2005

Portland: The Sights Of June

In Portland, June is the time of Rose Festival, when hundreds of thousands of people who have never been in Portland before, and have no idea how to cope with things here, pour into town for the festivities.

In June, visitors stop their cars in the middle of Broadway, at green lights, to consult a map and have a lively discussion about which direction North is. In June, people drive the wrong way up one way streets in the bus-only lane of the downtown bus mall and almost get in head-on collisions with the buses. It is so cute.

In June, the normal panhandlers (who I don't really mind) are supplemented by bizarre migratory panhandlers, who haven't recieved the standard training on how to ask for spare change in such a way that the question makes some kind of sense.

In June, people don't realize that the Portland weather is still terrible and it isn't really summer yet, so they dress in the spirit of summer, which at least once a day turns the entire downtown area into a giant wet T-shirt contest.

In June, I keep having the urge to say to people on the street, "hey, cool sailor costume!" But then I remember that in June, they actually are sailors.

In June, people on street corners give away free samples of weird new products, and I am reluctant to try them.

In June, you can tell who some of the people from out of town are, because they dress like they are expecting to be in front of MTV cameras any minute, instead of dressing like they just got back from a fishing / hiking / biking / rafting / Sasquatch-hunting trip.

In June, everywhere I go is too crowded.

In June, I'd rather be blogging. Or sleeping.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


I think the rules of all major sports should be changed so that it will be a penalty against the home team if, during the singing of the national anthem before the game, the singer at any point improvises his or her own melody to the song. In the case of the U.S. national anthem, it will also count as a penalty to prolong the words "free" or "the brave" for more than 5 seconds. The penalties will be assessed according to sport as follows:

  • Baseball: the first visiting batter gets to hit off of a tee
  • American Football: 15 yard penalty on kickoff
  • Soccer: the home team captain gets a yellow card, and all players on the home team get a "wedgie"
  • Basketball: double technical foul
  • Hockey: theoretically a two minute penalty (if this sport still existed)
  • Auto racing: the driver who lives geographically closest to the singer gets his or her tires slashed right before the start
  • Cheerleading: home team must remove all makeup and glitter
  • Gymnastics: home team must use butter instead of chalk
  • Ice Skating: competitors from the home country or club must skate to the song A Horse With No Name instead of their planned music
  • Beach Volleyball: 1 point penalty, plus home team must wear very nerdy clear glasses instead of their cool sunglasses
  • Track and Field: home team must wear high heels

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Quality of Life

Cynical Optimist asks:

What are the essential ingredients of a good life? How do you define a good quality of life? What would it take for you to be able to wake up tomorrow and say, "I have everything I want"?

If you were to make a list of that, which you'd have to acquire to reach a complete state of contentment, where would you start ... and how long would that list be?

Where would you draw the line ... what would be enough?

This is a good set of questions. To me it feels more like many slightly different questions than one long question. "Essential ingredients" sounds like the minimum necessary to be happy, whereas "everything I want" and "complete state of contentment" sound more like the maximum imaginable.

I'd say I have a good quality of life right now. Among the ingredients are, in no special order: good health, an interesting job, friends, a long-term relationship, fun hobbies, a cat, a nice place to live, relative freedom from debt (other than standard things like a home mortgage and car payments), the ability to travel occasionally, good food and drink, and internet access. I could wake up tomorrow with nothing to complain about.

On the other hand, I think that "everything I want" and "complete state of contentment" are unlikely. I would always want to be smarter, be in better physical shape, learn something new, try something new, get better at the things I do, etc. And I will always want there to be more hours in the day to do the things I want to do. So if enough means "can't reasonably complain," then I have that already. If it means "no desire to try for more," then that will probably never happen.

I suppose one could, while in a state of contentment, still strive for more -- not out of discontent or unhappiness, but because achieving things is inherently fun and interesting. That sounds good.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Little Ones

The other day I was walking out of the grocery store when I saw two little boys, about 7 or 8 years old, riding their bicycles back and forth in front of the store. One of them called out to me, "Hey mister!" At this point I expected him to say, "Hey mister, watch me do a trick on my bike!" or something of that nature.

What he actually yelled was, "Hey mister, buy me beer! Buy me beer!!"

So I bought him a six-pack. Just kidding, actually I walked away. Kids these days.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Monkey Business

The New York Times Magazine reports that when capuchin monkeys in a Yale experiment were taught to use "money" (metal tokens they could exchange for food), they began to trade the money for sex.

What [the researcher] witnessed was probably the first observed exchange of money for sex in the history of monkeykind. (Further proof that the monkeys truly understood money: they monkey who was paid for sex immediately traded the token in for a grape.)
-- The New York Times Magazine, June 5, 2005

Maybe it's the "oldest profession" because it's the most obvious.

Iraqi Insurgents Admit Mishandling Of Sports Illustrated

After an exhaustive internal investigation, a group of Iraqi insurgents admitted that on several occasions copies of Sports Illustrated were "mishandled" within view of American prisoners. In one case, an insurgent stomped on the magazine while denouncing Major League Baseball as "a joke because of steroid-using cheaters." In another incident, a witness reported that an insurgent tore up a SI cover featuring race driver Danica Patrick in front of prisoners, telling them that allowing women to drive in the Indianapolis 500 (or indeed, anywhere) was an abomination.

A spokesman for the insurgent group insisted that these incidents were unauthorized and regrettable. "Look," he said, "our goal is to kill Americans and drive them from our lands, but cultural insensitivity . . . that is not our way. It gives our movement a bad name." The same leader promised to provide better instruction for insurgents on the importance of baseball and auto racing in American culture.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Stick-related Violence On The Rise

May 14:
A 23-year-old Colony Crescent woman told police her boyfriend closed a door on her face, hit her with a stick and pushed her to the ground May 14.

May 26:
The woman told him to go away, but he refused and kept knocking, police said. Eventually Mason turned as if to leave but got a large stick and used it to break the glass around the door, said 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, Prince William police spokeswoman.

May 26:
When the officer arrived, the 22-year-old Wakefield victim told McCaul he was attacked by five white males who then stole his car, a white 1997 Cadillac DeVille. The five males allegedly chased the victim with a stick, a wooden board and a knife.

May 27:
Tetreault said the victim, a drug-dependent woman, went to a Tyler Street location Aug. 3, 2002, looking for crack cocaine. She approached Gordon, whom she knew, and he said he would have some crack in a half-hour. She said she couldn't wait. He knocked her down, they fought, he struck her with a stick, threw a bottle at her and then threw a brick at her, with the latter hitting her, Tetreault said.

May 31:
Scamahorn told investigators that Spurgeon, who is 5 feet 8 and weighs 150 pounds, began hitting Roberts' head, arms and back with a stick. Scamahorn, who is 5 feet 11 and weighs 210 pounds, said he kicked Roberts, and then began hitting him with a stick.

May 31:
Police received a report of an assault Sunday around 10 p.m. from a 34-year-old York Street resident. The man said the accused, Spann, broke into his home and beat him with a stick and his fists, according to a police report.

When will society wake up to the dangers of sticks, and the irresistable temptation to acts of violence that they present? One of the scariest things about sticks is their easy availability. If loaded guns and sharpened knives were just scattered around in parks for anyone to pick up and use, there would be public outrage. But walk into any wooded area and you'll see that sticks are just lying around everywhere, and nobody even seems to mind!

"Oh Lord, that's a stick!" I said to my friend, pointing in the direction of the deadly weapon as we strolled in the park.

"So? They're everywhere. What's your point?"

"Doesn't it bother you that I could go pick that up and hit you over the head with it?"

"It didn't even occur to me," he said.

"Obviously you're in denial. You don't want to accept how dangerous this area is, with weapons everywhere."

"What? You wouldn't hit me with a stick anyway."

"No, of course I wouldn't, my point is that someone could."

"But why would they do that?"

"Because they could. Just seeing the stick would probably be enough to put the idea into their heads."

"But by that reasoning, I could just as easily hit them with a stick too . . ."

"Now you're getting it! Violence is practically guaranteed, as long as sticks are around," I explained.

". . . but I wouldn't!"

"Today you wouldn't, tomorrow, who knows? Something must be done."

"Like what? Ban sticks?"

"Exactly," I said, "get the community involved, and get rid of sticks. A War on Sticks, if you will."

My friend paused. "Doesn't the idea of removing all sticks from all wooded areas seem a little . . . impractical?"

I sighed. "I prefer the term 'ambitious,' but yes. All great ideas seem impractical at first. So did going to the moon. We're talking about saving lives here, eliminating violence. Nobody said it would be easy."

My friend looked down meaningfully at a rock, then very slowly kicked it into the grass. I groaned.