Thursday, December 28, 2006

DNA and MP3

Scott Adams speculated about the "intellectual property of human DNA," and posed this question:

If you were a supermodel who had snorted away all of your money and you were now too old to model, and some billionaire offered you a hundred million dollars for your DNA, would you sell it? Assume you know in advance that the billionaire is a disgusting pig who will be raising your clone to be a brainwashed sex slave.

Assume also that your clone won’t be forced to do anything against her will. She will simply be raised to believe the billionaire is a godlike creature and the rest will happen naturally. No laws will be broken. And she will live like a princess except for the part about being a clone whore to an old, rich fat guy. In other words, the quality of her life will be in the top 10% of the planet if you consider the wretchedness the average human’s life around the world.

Would you sell your DNA for $100,000,000?

This is an entertaining question, but Scott has gotten the economics of the situation backwards. Nobody would pay $100,000,000 for your DNA, when all they have to do is fish one of your used coffee cups out of the trash and extract a DNA sample from there. Instead, it would cost you a large amount of money and inconvenience in order to prevent people from stealing your DNA and doing whatever they wanted with it.

You might be able to sue someone who used your DNA without permission, but that requires you to know about it in the first place, and prove it. I suspect that in the future the "unauthorized" use of DNA will be extremely common, like pirated MP3s today. Both are sequences of information that people can claim ownership of.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Neatthink, Slobthink

When it comes to neatness, my girlfriend is more on the neat-freak end of the spectrum, and I am closer to the border of the People's Republic of Slobistan. And so it puzzles me when she will, for example, look under the couch and say something like, "oh, wow, there is so much dust and cat fur under here!" This is said as if it is something both completely unexpected and deeply disturbing, the way you might say to someone, "dude, what is this dead hobo doing in the trunk of your car?"

To me, of course, under the couch is exactly the sort of place where I would expect to find dust, and the cat fur would be much more shocking and mysterious if we didn't own cats. And neither one especially bothers me, because I don't plan to spend a lot of time under the couch anyway. In fact the whole point of having a couch seems to be to sit on top of it and not beneath it. So to me, it's a bit like saying, "Whoa, what are all these pine needles doing all over this forest?"

But I guess this is the difference between neat-think and slob-think. In neat-think, it is disturbing to realize that an area that hypothetically could be clean is not in fact clean. In slob-think, the default state of things is dirty, so "discovering" that something is dirty is not surprising at all, and the question is whether cleaning it is really necessary.

Oh, Fallen 360

My Xbox 360 went into a nonresponsive, vegetative state. The three red lights of doom blazed in all their glory on the front panel, and I was forced to send it in for repairs. This was on the second day of my 2-week vacation, so just when I thought I'd get some quality video gaming time with the 360, it gave out.

It's funny how when a gadget like the 360 fails, it feels less like a mechanical malfunction and more like having a sick pet or something. And when I called support to explain the problem and ask about getting it repaired, I felt almost like an addict worried about where and when I'd get my next fix. ("Yeah, uh, it seems my crack pipe broke, and I really need to get it fixed so I can smoke some more crack. Is it still under warranty? When do you think you can send me a functioning crack pipe?")

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

On The Media: Great Holiday Conversations, Volume 1

My Girlfriend: (watching TV) I've finally figured out why on TV, actresses' butts look smaller than they really are.

Me: (my mind boggling that this is what she thinks about while watching TV) OK, so why is that?

Her: They wear these very low-rise jeans, so what you think you see as their butt is actually not the whole thing, but only the lower half.

Me: Oh, so you mean the upper part is covered by their shirt, and you only take notice of the lower half.

Her: Right.

Me: (being a smart aleck) OK, so here's my proposal, in the name of truth. Hot actresses on TV should have to either be naked, or wear bikinis, so that we don't get fooled about the real size of their butts. That would prevent this despicable distortion from rotting our minds and giving us false ideas.

Her: I don't think you get the point of what I'm saying.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lunch Rules

In this Lunch Rules document, some junior high school girls outline the strict requirements for eating lunch at their table. It cracks me up that even though rule 7 is "no outsiders to table" and rule 9 is "have to be on the list," the last rule is "love your neigbor!"

The rule that surprised me most though, is rule 8: "Have to get 5 hugs from boys by the end of the lunch to be able to sit w/ us the next day." When I think back to my junior high school days, I don't recall much if any hugging going on during lunch. In fact, I don't think anyone in my school could have fulfilled this requirement. What happened, is the American junior high school lunch room now a massive hug-fest?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Code Monkey, the video

There aren't enough songs about programmers.

The Real Life "Slow Donnie"

On the "Slow Donnie" episode of Just Shoot Me, Maya discovered that Elliot's brother Donnie had been pretending to be mentally disabled for years, so that he wouldn't have to do anything and other people would wait on him. He revealed himself when he got a crush on Maya and dropped the act to ask her out. Well, it turns out there is a real "Slow Pete" out there who has been faking for almost 20 years, according to this article at SFGate:

For nearly 20 years — ever since Pete Costello was 8 — his mother has collected disability benefits on his behalf. In meetings with Social Security officials and psychologists, he appeared mentally retarded and unable to communicate. His mother insisted he couldn't read or write, shower, take care of himself or drive a car.

But now prosecutors say it was all a huge fraud, and they have video of Costello contesting a traffic ticket to prove it.

I doubt the TV episode was based on him, but that would be funny.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ready for a Frac?

After watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica, you might be in the mood for a Frac. One of my friends, a fellow BG fan, got this for me on his recent trip to the Cook Islands. These cookies are made in Chile.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Blind Side

Reading The Blind Side has changed the way I watch American football -- because the book explains the subtleties of the left tackle position. Now instead of focusing my attention on the quarterback, as the play begins I watch the offensive line while using my peripheral vision to look at the quarterback and running back. Once the play develops to the point where either the ball is in the air or the running back has passed the line of scrimmage, I go back to watching the ball the way I used to. By doing this, I feel like I'm not just seeing a different part of the game, I'm actually seeing more of the game. Watching the quarterback during those first few seconds is rarely useful, because unless he fumbles the snap or something, it is very unlikely that anything interesting will happen there during that time.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thumb Pianos

My friend Bob, who builds thumb pianos, has posted this incredible series of photos of thumb pianos. I have played some of these, and they sound as cool as they look. He has also created electronic music featuring his instruments. A lot of people make music, but how many make music played on instruments they built themselves? It is really interesting stuff.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Infectious . . . or environmental. All you have to do is check out parasites, viruses, bacteria, fungi, prions, radiation, toxins, chemicals, or it's internet-porn-related. I'll check the internet, you guys cover the rest of the stuff.

-- Dr. House diagnosing a patient, on House

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Autumn Leaves at the Japanese Garden

Today was a perfect time to see autumn foliage at the Portland Japanese Garden, so naturally the place was overrun with photographers. Everywhere I looked, people were carrying tripods, cameras, and lenses. I felt like I had been transported into some weird futuristic world where all other hobbies had died out, leaving behind a society where everyone was a photographer. There was also an ikebana exhibit, and a bonsai exhibit featuring a tree over 500 years old.

Moss Maze

At the Portland Japanese Garden. This reminds me of the story of the moss man.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I was pleased to discover Tangerine, a Mac app that analyzes the songs in your iTunes library and determines their tempo and "intensity." Then it can automatically create random playlists that group your songs by these values, so you can easily make uptempo workout mixes or mellow chill-out mixes. I've been looking for something like this for a long time, and it works great. It exports the playlists you make back into iTunes. It doesn't export the BPM data, which I wish it would do, but even without that feature I'd consider this a must-have application for Mac iTunes users.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Unresolvable Goals

Since I wrote about the mental goal system and the ninja/unicorn experiment, I've been thinking about more implications of this. Peter called it "the most difficult trap I think our civilization lays for us."

There is also a category of "unresolvable" goals, meaning that it is impossible to know whether or not you have really accomplished the goal. For example, as I commute to work in the morning I might have a goal of taking the quickest route to work. The problem is that I can't really know whether I succeeded. Even if I arrive at work in a reasonable amount of time, some other route might have been faster, if only I had taken it. So I will probably never get to enjoy the mental payoff of knowing that I accomplished the goal.

Even worse, though I can't prove I succeeded, it is very easy to suspect that I failed. If there is even a minor delay on my chosen route, I will tend to assume that I made the wrong choice, and a different route would have been better. Again, I can't prove this because I didn't take the other routes, and they may not have been any faster. But because the suspicion of having chosen wrong comes so easily, it is very likely that I will end up starting the day with a feeling of failure, however slight.

The flaw or trap is in the goal itself. Its very structure guarantees that having that goal is much more likely to make me unhappy than happy. Once I have that goal, there is nothing that can happen in the real world that can fix it. It is sort of like the "unicorn" goal but more subtle.

A more useful goal would be something like "travel to work safely and comfortably." It is possible to achieve that, and also possible to know for sure that I did achieve it. Having that goal is also more likely to make me happy than unhappy.

How we set goals makes a difference, especially considering that we can feel bad even about failing at an unconscious goal. I can't prove it, but I suspect that unhappy people probably have too many "unicorn goals" and happy people may have plenty of "ninja goals."

I also think that the Getting Things Done methodology is effective partly because it encourages a focus on next actions, which are straightforward goals that can be accomplished, and whose success state can be known. A next action is definitely not a unicorn goal, and having a large enough list of next action goals may prevent unicorn goals, simply because there isn't enough time left for them.

Anyway, back to my main point: unresolvable goals like the "fastest route to work" goal are harmful, and there is no real-world solution to them. Getting a faster car won't help. The only solution is to avoid having such goals, and to think carefully about the underlying structure of the goals you have.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Fall Colors

This wall is just down the street from my house.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hacking Your Mental Goal System

"Accomplishing" a "goal" feels good no matter how absurd or arbitrary the goal. This is a strange mental illusion. Try this experiment:

Say to yourself -- either out loud or mentally -- in your best this-is-really-important voice, "TO DO: avoid being attacked by a ninja for the next 1 minute!" Make a mental picture of putting that on a to-do list.

Then wait about 1 minute.

Then say to yourself, "I did it! Great job!" and make a mental picture of crossing that goal off the to-do list.

Even though you know this is ridiculous and only a trick, you will still feel (to some degree) a pleasant sense of accomplishment. It is kind of like seeing an optical illusion or mirage even though you know what it really is.

Then try the opposite. Say to yourself in the same serious voice, "TO DO: find a real unicorn in the next one minute!" Make a mental picture of adding it to the to-do list. Wait one minute. Then say to yourself in a sad way, "Oh, no . . . I failed . . . I wasn't able to accomplish that."
Make a mental picture of the goal still being on the list, unresolved.

Even though you know this is also ridiculous and only a trick, you will still feel a vague sense of disappointment.

Somehow, the part of our minds that feels good about accomplishing a goal or bad about failing is not very well connected to the part that understands whether the goal makes any sense.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Kumoricon 2006, Sunday - Cowboy Bebop Cosplay

These cosplayers at Kumoricon had good Cowboy Bebop costumes, and they also had a great sense of how to strike the right poses and act the part of the characters.

Look for my full article about Kumoricon at JLHLS later this week.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Run for the Wind motorcycle rally 2006

On Friday I rode my Suzuki V-Strom 650 to the Run for the Wind motorcycle rally at Chinook Winds Casino, in Lincoln City, Oregon. I saw these two girls sitting on one of the bikes, and they looked photogenic so I asked if I could take their picture.

There was a group ride up the coast to Tillamook along the Three Capes Loop and back. Along the way I saw a large group of pelicans flying over the water. Though it was sunny most of the time, in a few places there was dense fog hanging over the road. The area near Cape Kiwanda looked interesting; I'll have to go back another time and spend the day there.

Later there was a motorcycle stunt show featuring circle-wheelies, no-hander wheelies, superman stoppies, a "slow wheelie contest," and other dazzling tricks.

Of course, all the bikes on display were fun to look at, too.

Riding to the coast from Portland, doing the group ride, then getting home made for about 6 hours of riding yesterday. That is a lot for me, but the V-Strom is so comfortable that it didn't feel like too much.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sea Lions at the Oregon Coast

I saw these sea lions on the beach at the Oregon coast, near Florence. Though I was on the cliffs above the beach and they were far down below, I could smell them! They have a strong smell. They were also making that funny "ork ork ork" noise. One of them was bodysurfing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Etta James

Last night I went to see Etta James in concert. Amazingly, on stage she rubs her own crotch more often than Michael Jackson and Madonna combined. But she has an electrifying voice, and she did a version of "Born to be Wild" that was a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Egret at the Oregon Zoo. This bird let me get up very close to take this picture.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Portland Bridge Pedal

Today I took part in the Portland Bridge Pedal, along with about 18,000 other people. Bridges were closed to automobile traffic so that bicycles could cross them, even some freeway bridges. It was a strange experience to be in such a large mass of bicycles.

I was riding along with my mother and father, my brother, and my sister-in-law. My brother and I tend to joke around a lot, so during uphill sections as we were passing slower-moving riders, I would yell out, "Yeah! This is when all that steroid use really pays off!" On the bridges I would turn to him and exclaim, "I filled my Camelbak with olive oil and it's great! I have so much energy!"

So many people do the Bridge Pedal, and the traffic can be so dense, that it can be easy to get separated from other riders in your group and not be able to find them. To help prevent that, some of my group wore feathers attached to their bike helmets, to make them easier to spot from a distance. They got compliments on the feathers. I also saw other people with stuffed animals attached to their helmets.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


At the Oregon Zoo.


At the Oregon Zoo.


There were a lot of butterflies like this near our campsite at Olallie Lake. Getting this sort of photo was more difficult than I thought, because the butterflies sit on the ground with their wings closed, and only open them for a brief instant before closing them again. It took some patience and some luck to get this shot.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Olallie Lake

We went camping in a yurt at Olallie Lake. This was a great weekend getaway. I did some mountain biking, and later we rented a canoe and paddled across the lake. We saw two bald eagles and a half-dozen osprey fishing in the lake. This picture was taken only a few feet away from our campsite, so this was basically our view for the weekend, with Mt. Jefferson in the background. Next time I go I want to stay for at least 4 days.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Washougal Motocross Nationals 2006, part 3

Washougal Motocross Nationals 2006, part 2

I like the way this photo turned out, because it almost looks like a time-lapse shot of a single rider, but it is six different riders who happened to line up this way.

Washougal Motocross Nationals 2006

James Stewart (7) gets sideways as he comes over a jump just ahead of Ricky Carmichael (4) in the first moto at Washougal.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wind Lake, Part 2

Wind Lake is a quiet, isolated place. I think this picture captures its moody quality.

Wind Lake

Yes, the lake theme continues. On Sunday we went horseback riding on Mt. Hood, up to a place called Wind Lake. It was about a 4 hour trip to get there, have lunch, and come back. There were great views of the mountain, we got to see some wildflowers in bloom, and I took pictures around the lake.

The trip was run by Bar G Ranch and Ride. This was my second trip with them, and I think they are great and would recommend them. My girlfriend thought that this should be the new "standard adventure" when we take out of town visitors to see Mt. Hood.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Munson Creek Falls

LinkMy V-Strom 650 is billed as an "adventure touring" motorcycle, so yesterday I decided to try a little adventure tour. From Portland I rode to Tillamook, Oregon, then south on Highway 101 to the turnoff to Munson Creek Falls, the highest waterfall in the Coast Range. The road to the trailhead is a narrow, bumpy, rocky unpaved road. The V-Strom handled the terrain just fine. A quarter-mile hike in from the trailhead is the view of the falls.

The waterfall is impressive, and it seems very weird because you just don't expect to see such a big waterfall in that area. And without the signs pointing the way, you would never think to go there because the road seems more like a private driveway than the route to a scenic attraction. It was fun, but I liked Falls Creek Falls better, because it is more spectacular, you can get closer to it, and you can see more of it from the trail.

From there, I rode north along 101 to Garibaldi, Wheeler, and then Cannon Beach.

Since it was a summer weekend, Cannon Beach was extremely crowded -- it feels like a packed outdoor shopping mall. I was glad to be on the motorcycle because I was able to find a small parking spot right on the main street. I wandered around and stopped for coffee.

(As you can see from these pictures, I put the Suzuki hard luggage top case on the bike. This is great. It locks, it's waterproof, and it can fit my helmet with room to spare. I was able to take along my camera and other goodies without even using a tank bag.)

Then I headed back to Portland. By that time it was very hot and I was really feeling the heat in full motorcycle leathers. I had my Camelbak on, so I could sip water while I rode. It turned out to be an over 200-mile day, but today I feel great -- the V-Strom is so comfortable, it did not strain my back at all.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Timothy Lake

You may notice a pattern to my travels lately: I've been visiting many lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest. I've decided that they make a great summer destination. This weekend we stayed at the Gone Creek campground on Timothy Lake. It was great. Some very noisy Steller's Jays woke us up at 5:30am this morning, but that wasn't really a bad thing. I went for an early morning walk and saw lots of birds and some amazing views of the lake. Early morning is a great time to walk around there, because aside from a handful of fishermen, nobody else is awake. So it feels like having the whole place to yourself. Later on when it got warmer, I set up the inflatable raft and rowed around on the lake.

We came home via Hood River to avoid the traffic jam created by the Sandy Mountain Festival.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

What I Learned About Driving

  1. You know those Jeep commercials? The ones where people drive off-road into some crazy scenic wilderness to find Real Manly Adventure? Well it's all true, Jeeps can do that just fine. Just not on the stock tires.
  2. I had the stock tires. For some reason I was smart enough to put off-road tires on my previous Jeep, but not on this one. "It'll be fine," I thought. "How bad can it be? I'm sure these will work."
  3. When you're in the outdoors and you find yourself saying "it'll be fine, how bad can it be?" this is basically the same thing as when a character in a horror movie says, "hold on, I'll just go outside and see what that noise was."
  4. When a light on your instrument panel comes on, and the icon has a big exclamation point on it, this is not a good sign (!). It would be bad enough if this happened on a main highway, but it is even worse when it occurs deep within sasquatch-occupied territory in the middle of nowhere.
  5. In fact, I came to realize that even the exclamation point is a bit too subtle. I would personally redesign that indicator to be a flashing light in the shape of a hand extending the middle finger. And it should play a loud sound effect that begins with demonic laughter "muahahahaha!" followed by that quote from the Aliens movie where the guy says "That's it man, game over man, game over!"
  6. What that light means is that one of the razor-sharp rocks you just drove over punctured your tire and gave you a flat. Or in my case, two flat tires. You see, the stock tires give you a nice comfy ride on the freeway, but off-road they transform into 4 tire-shaped pinatas, and mountain rocks become thousands of hyperactive kids with sticks, gleefully giving them a savage beating.
  7. You know those fix-a-flat cans, that promise to reinflate your tire and seal the hole with special goop too? They might work in other situations, but when the tire hole is the size of a chipmunk, they are mainly useful as comic relief.
  8. After you finally make it back to the main road, when someone asks you what happened, a funny thing to say is, "I hit a sasquatch."

Lost Lake

Lost Lake, near Mt. Hood, is not a very lost lake. Many people seem to have found it -- the place was pretty crowded when I went up there today. But the crowds are only on land, and the lake itself has plenty of room, so I took my inflatable raft out and rowed it around.

On my way back, I found that it was 98 degrees in the town of Welches. Just a few days ago it was 65 degrees and raining in Portland, so it seems like the weather has made a giant leap into summer.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Ghana 2, U.S. 1

When I was a little kid playing soccer, my mom would tell us, "don't mess around with the ball in front of your own goal. Clear it out of there." The U.S. team could have used my mom's advice in their last game. Claudio Reyna, standing just outside his own penalty area, chose not to pass or clear the ball, but stood there frozen while a Ghanian player stole the ball, dribbled in one-on-one against Keller and easily scored. Reyna was injured on the play, but instant replay showed that the two players had collided knee to knee as they passed each other. I don't think there is any way that could have been intentional on the part of the Ghanian player, and the referee was correct to not call a foul.

The penalty kick awarded to Ghana later in the game was a bad call. But U.S. coach Bruce Arena seemed to think it made the game unwinnable. "It left us chasing the game when we had worked so hard to get level" he said. But there was plenty of time left in the game. That's soccer -- sometimes you're down a goal, sometimes you have to come from behind. Can you imagine some of the other teams in the tournament expressing this attitude? Brazil was down 1-0 to Japan, but came back to win 4-1. Picture Brazil saying, "yeah, once Japan took the lead we were screwed. We were just chasing the game at that point." Ridiculous, right? Australia was also down 1-0 to Japan but scored 3 goals at the very end of the game to win 3-1. The real problem was that the U.S. team wasn't able to score goals in this tournament.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

New Computer Vulnerability Discovered

On several occasions recently, I came back to my computer to find it running programs I knew I hadn't left open. I asked my girlfriend if she had been using my computer and she said no. I wondered what was going on, and I suspected a virus or other malware. I ran various antispyware and anivirus programs, but found nothing. The other day I came into my room and found that the computer was turned off, even though I knew I left it on. What kind of virus turns the system off? What kind of virus only strikes when I leave the door to my room open?

Then I finally put together all the clues. I don't have a virus. I have a cat who likes to walk on the keyboard when I'm not in the room.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Falls Creek Falls

On Saturday, we went on a hike to Falls Creek Falls, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Washington. I love the name, though I'd like to call it "the Falls at Falls Creek Falls, now with 10% more Falls!" The name Falls Creek probably comes from the fact that it makes a fairly steep descent through the forest and has a mini-waterfall every 10 meters or so. About 1/2 mile down the trail there is a small suspension bridge, with the cables underneath the bridge instead of above it -- an unusual design. It bounced when I walked across it.

But the big waterfall is the real treat. I have seen higher waterfalls, but I think this is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I've ever seen. It sits in the middle of the forest like a magical apparition. I thought it was like something out of The Lord of the Rings, and I almost expected to see Gollum fishing in the pool at the base of the waterfall.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Day Lilies Are Delicious

Day lily flowers are edible. I've heard about this before, but I never tried eating one until today. They don't especially look edible to me. Maybe it is the color. I wondered if it was all a hoax, and I'd soon be in the emergency room getting questioned. "What? You ate day lilies!? Based on something you read on the internet? Couldn't you tell just by looking at them how horribly poisonous they are?" That sort of thing.

But the truth is, not only are day lily flowers edible, they are delicious. They taste sort of like sweet lettuce, but better. All these years that I've been growing them and not eating them, I really missed out.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The V-Strom Sees Some Sun

I rode my new Suzuki V-Strom 650 again today. This was the first day I have ridden it that wasn't a ride in the rain. We had a nice warm, partly cloudy afternoon, so I took the motorcycle out to get more used to it and practice some maneuvers in dry conditions. I worked on low speed (walking pace) balance, U-turns, and cornering. Then I went into a large gravel and dirt parking lot to practice riding off the pavement. Even though I have prior dirt bike experience, I expected that riding the V-Strom off road for the first time would be difficult and maybe even a bit scary, because it is much heavier than the nimble dirt bikes I am used to.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the V-Strom handled the dirt and gravel with no problems at all. It felt like a very large dirt bike. (Mud might be a different story, since the stock tires do not look at all suited for it.) It seems like a very versatile motorcycle that can handle a lot of different riding situations. Of course, I never intend to do any "hardcore" off-road with it like riding on single-track trails, mud, deep sand, etc.

The engine has a very subdued burbling sound at low RPMs and sensible city riding speeds. I like to imagine that the engine is snoring, and saying "OK, I'm going to take a nap, wake me up when you want to go 100 miles per hour."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Suzuki V-Strom 650

Yesterday I traded in my 2002 Suzuki SV650S for a new 2006 Suzuki V-Strom 650. Though I loved the SV650S, the riding position was not comfortable enough for long rides. After an hour or two, my knees, wrists, and back would start to get sore. The V-Strom is much more comfortable. The stock windscreen was absolutely horrible though, it directed all the air right at my face and created an incredibly loud turbulent sound even with a full face helmet and earplugs. I immediately replaced it with an optional wider, taller windscreen (shown here), and that completely fixed the problem. The fuel injection makes it easier to start, and the power delivery seems much smoother. Honestly, I still think the SV605S looked better, but the V-Strom is much more practical.

My first ride on the V-Strom was a 35-mile slog home from the dealer in pouring rain, which was more fun than it sounds. I went for another ride this morning, also in the rain. It works great in the rain but I'm looking forward to better weather.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

So You Think You Can Face-Plant

One of the contestants on So You Think You Can Dance? tonight had a close encounter with the floor. He said his teeth hurt after this move.

I also liked the other guy who said, "I exuberate fantasticisms!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How Digital Music Has Changed My Listening Habits

I almost never listen to the radio, but I do listen to podcasts of some shows that are also on the radio. I almost never listen to a CD all the way through from start to finish, instead I listen to my own playlists or "shuffle" or music podcasts.

Because of randomized playlists and "neighbor radio" on, it doesn't seem all that weird to listen to one country song followed by one rock song, one rap song, one jazz song, and then a string quartet. I'm also less likely to be in the mood to hear a particular song or album, and more likely to just want to hear something interesting.

I get a lot of my new music from eMusic, iTunes, or legal free downloads. Buying a CD seems like a waste since I'm just going to rip it and listen to it on my iPod, and it will take up physical space on my shelf.

I find out about new music from podcasts, browsing eMusic, or What's weird about this is that I find relatively little new music by hearing about it from people I actually see face to face in the real world. Music rarely has the social meaning for me that it once did, except for rare occasions like burning a custom CD to play at a party.

Most of my listening is on headphones or in the car. I rarely listen to music on my home stereo -- partly because my girlfriend and I usually don't agree on what to listen to (or at what volume).

When I look at my iTunes library, I see a lot of artists where I only have 1 or 2 songs by that artist. This is a big change from when I was younger and wanted to collect a lot of material from a few favorite bands.

There are some songs in my iTunes library with a play count of 0. For some of them it isn't literally true that I've never heard the song, I probably played from on the CD at some point before I ripped it, but it means I haven't heard it in years. But there are also some I've really never played. That seems strange.