Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's the little things

Emp. Peng. and I just spent two hours trying to resurrect the wireless connection on my laptop. That would be approximately twelve zillion unfruitful attempts at configuring the network settings, and one that worked because I finally thought to properly capitalize the name of the network.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Recommended Penguin Reading

A "penguin guy" jumps floe.

While I bask in the attention penguins have gotten lately, I can sympathize with this guy. I've been a penguin person for just about as long as I can remember. Now that penguins are the "in" thing and it seems like you can't swing a Gentoo without hitting one, I feel compelled to point out that I was penguin before penguin was cool.

I'm not giving up, though. Penguins have been enjoying a surge in popularity lately, but it won't last forever. The penguin will always be with us, but already I have noticed a slow creep of monkeys into the ranks of popular animals. The penguin will level out and maybe decline a little, and then being a penguin person will be unique again. This is bad news for people who shop for penguin people.

Driving Ethics and Etiquette

I ran into (figuratively) an automobile quandary today. Legally, we are supposed to observe posted speed limits, and slower traffic is supposed to keep to the right on multi-lane roads. In the great big reality outside the driver's manual, people speed, so in practice, the slower traffic is often that traffic that is obeying the posted speed limit.

Such is the situation that led to my quandary. I was doing 55 mph in a 55 mph zone of a freeway with 2 lanes in each direction. As is my practice, I kept to the right lane. Then I approached an onramp packed with cars. I changed to the relatively unoccupied left lane to give the cars room to merge on, but kept doing 55, in no small part because I was approaching a favorite spot for the highway patrol to nab speeders and it's a big speeding ticket weekend. Cue a half dozen or so cars to come barreling up behind me in the left lane. However, the line of cars from the onramp is still getting up to highway speed, so there is maybe two car lengths between them. Clearly, it would be a mile or two before I had a shot at getting back into the right lane. I could just feel the road rage at their sudden inability to continue going 65-70 mph.

I merged back right as soon as I had an opening, but in the meantime, should one stand one's ground and obey the speed limit, or exceed posted speed limits so as not to have cars stacking up on one's flank?

Comments are open, folks.
Nimrod: switch left and right

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Little Things

TJ Maxx had a solitary jar of marionberry jam in their gourmet food section. I am now doing a marionberry-fueled happy dance.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ya learn something new every day

Today, I learned four things in quick succession:

1. When the spaetzle recipe calls for a colander with 3/16 inch holes, that is not just a suggestion.

2. Once you realize that a colander with 1/8 inch holes just won't work and you go with dropping blobs of spaetzle dough into the water, you can put a bit of margarine on the resulting dough tumors, sprinkle them with powdered sugar and a bit of cinnamon, and make a reasonable facsimile of the bastard offspring of pasta and funnel cake.

3. The bastard offspring of pasta and funnel cake isn't half bad.

4. You can thaw a frozen Papa Murphy's cheese pizza in a warm oven in just about the same amount of time it takes to dig out from under the failed spaetzle

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Non-Penguin Animal News

They're coming, and they might just be smarter than we give them credit for.

Armadillos are on the march. Word on the street is that armadillos have started invading southern Illinois. The word on the street is supported by increasing numbers of flat armadillos on the street.

Red squirrels are smarter than the average spruce
. The squirrels' sole source of nourishment (other than the contents of every supposedly squirrel-proof bird feeder ever made) is the seeds of the spruce tree. The trees try to dodge this by producing a bumper crop of seeds at random intervals. We now see that the squirrels, crafty rodents that they are, have figured out when the bumper crop of seeds are coming, even before the cones set, and produce a bumper crop of squirrels to match.

Here at the Rookery, we have our own non-human intelligence problem. Contrary to what some might expect, it is not our gadgets achieving sentience. We suspect Sonja, the penguin cat, may have figured out the doorknob principle. She gets "me time" in a closed room a couple of times a day, since she adamantly refuses to do her business if there is a chance of another cat approaching. A few times when I have been in there with her, I have seen her get up on her hind legs and try to bat at the doorknob when she is ready to rejoin the world. Twice now when I was not in with her, I have heard unusual noises from inside, consistent with the sounds one would expect from an eight-pound cat leaping up and trying to grab the lever-style doorknob. If she ever figures out targeting and how to pull, the humans of the house are up a creek and paddle-free.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Waddling Away

16:31 today, and made it through the full half hour.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's not a New Year's Resolution

We are about to slam headlong into the time of year to make New Year's resolutions. I don't particularly like those, since they are too dang easy to break. I prefer setting a few goals and pasting them next to the bathroom mirror where they smack me in the face a few times a day.

The latest addition to my Great Bathroom Wall List of Goals (replacing "have a clean dental checkup) is--drumroll please--I'm going to run a 12-minute mile.

Those of you who were not mocked mercilessly in gym class might not see that as a lofty goal. Then there will be those of you who have met me. Physical fitness is not my strong suit. Never has been. Perhaps one of the reasons I am attracted to the penguins is we are roughly the same shape, except that I have individual fingers, no tail feathers, and external knees.

My quest for the 12-minute mile started over the weekend with a baseline time of 17:40. I manged to make 16:20 today, but the endurance was just not there to finish out a 30-minute treadmill session.

I'll be posting my progress as it happens, between penguin news and everything. Stay tuned for that and my adventures with Tux. Yup, I'm writing to you from a Linux machine.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

At Least It's Not Miracle on 34th Street

Christmas Eve, TBS is airing a 24-hour marathon of A Christmas Story. One full planetary rotation devoted to 12 back-to-back showings of the same freakin' movie.

That's not the worst of it. INHD, a Comcast channel, is programming 24 hours of a 7-minute loop of burning log in high-def. If you are in New York and don't have HD, you're in luck. There's a second channel showing the burning log.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Local news from K-WTF

I got this beauty of a local (to the sender, not to me) police blotter item in my email.
Oiling away sin -- 1800 block of Washington Way, Longview - Longview police checked out a report of a man pouring something on the road late Tuesday night. The man identified himself as a pastor and told police he was dumping olive oil on the ground to cleanse the area of sinful ways. He told them it is a proven way to stop criminal activity. Police advised him of his potential civil responsibility if someone should slip on the oil.

Don't let that one bounce around inside your head for too long, or your brain might explode.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Penguins on Comedy Central

The above clip is Lewis Black doing most of three minutes on penguins. For those of you unfamiliar with Lewis Black, it is about as grown-up as you can get without being bleeped or blurred on basic cable. I break into guffaws around 1:07.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here's the Results

Left is the office before the facelift, with the blue wall that caused the Smurf snot. Right is after the wallpaper stripping and painting.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Bert the Turtle Meets Aquaman

Top left there is the current logo of DC Comics, the company that brought us Superman. Bottom right is the new logo of the National Emergency Management Association, the professional organization for state-level emergency management and disaster preparedness directors. The EM logo was announced recently to replace the Civil Defense triangle logo from WWII. Here's to the hope that a similarity in graphic design concept does not indicate that our new emergency management plan includes using the Bat Signal. On second thought, the Bat Signal could not be any worse than expecting our desks to double as nuclear-fortified bunkers in a pinch.