Casual Friday { In honor of last night

Arcade Fire - Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)


Musings/Nature { The worst storm of the year so far, or how I weathered the Weather

Its almost 11pm. I am sitting at work because power at home has been out since 7:30. They had been predicting bad weather all day. At 11:00am, some coworkers and I went to the top of a parking ramp near the office and watched as the fronts moved passed. It was a spectacular sight, to see the different altitudes of clouds pass over and in some cases collide with each other. There were shelf clouds pushing a front from the west, colliding with a front of dark,whipped cumulonimbus clouds from the East. The air was heavy and wet, like it always is when the actual temperature is only a degree or two off dew point. It was also charged, with glimmers of high altitude lightning above the clouds and the occasional shimmer. It was to be a preview of things to come.

During the day not much rain fell at all and around 5pm the Sun came out and it started to clear up. We had dinner and sat outside sipping margaritas and watching as another line of dark moved acrossed the northern skyline. It was very dark and ominous. At 7pm it was prematurely dark and the severe weather sirens went off. We turned on the TV and watched the news reports, severe thunderstorm alert as well as Tornado warnings to the communities to the immediate north of Rochester. They kept switching between two camera views. One of downtown Rochester, that overlooked the Mayo buildings, and one from a camera at the station (KTTC) which was about 5 miles north on the northern edge of Rochester out by 55th ST NW. The camera downtown, pointing north was bathed in sunlight and it showed a dark, almost black wall just beyond downtown, I would say starting around 37th ST NW. The camera at the station, it was dark as night, the camera shaking in the 40+mph winds. As we watched the northern camera was rocked and suddenly drenched in rain and pelted with 1" hail. While the camera south of downtown still was bathed in sunlight, but as we watched you could see a dark line of clouds, like something out of the Lord of the Rings movie covering the orc advance move south. The camera panned west and you could see as long and massive line of shelf clouds moved south, obscuring the Sun. Underneath the black wall of clouds, you could make out another, more greenish grayline extending from the clouds to the ground, it was a literal wall of water, heavy rain.

At home it was calm until the dark wall engulfed us and the wind picked up, but we live nestled against the south side of a large hill, so the wind was not very strong. The sky and the air took on a tint of green-gray as the wall of rain hit. In the clouds ran the fury of the valkyries and the anger of long dead Norse gods and thunder and lightning lit up the artifical night. Nerdwife retired to bed as she will be running a 24 hour time course experiment and needed to get up at 3am. I checked the house and the windows and settled in on my computer to read the news and watch the weather reports.

At 7:30 the desk light flickered and went out, but my computer stayed up thanks to UPS power. I immediately knew the house lost power and shutdown. I wandered in the sudden and thick blackness of the house to the place where we keep the flashlights. I gave one to Nerdwife and went to check the house again and check on the neighbors. Other than being dark and having heavy rain the neighborhood was intact and fairing well.

The heavy rain lasted until 10pm, where it slacked off to a light to medium rain. But the light and sound shows continued (and as of this writing continue). I sat out on the front step soaking up the majesty of nature. It was a rare oppurtunity to be in the now. Everything was still dark all the blocks around us, but I could see light in the distance at the Apache Mall, good to know the Mall will always have power. By 10:45pm I grew restless and decided to take a short drive and to come in to the office to make sure the systems are still ok. As I drove I found that power was only out to the SW quadrant, power being on in downtown and north of 2nd ST SW. As I drove, emergency vehicles were blocking 6th AVE SW over the hill, the way I usually take towards work. I routed around to the next street down and I found they were all huddled around a massive tree (oak or maple) that had fallen. I could not see if it had hit the house near it or not, and I hope that no one was hurt. Debris litters all the streets. The tornado watch and severe weather watch continue and will do so until midnight.

Amazing and awesome.

I have pictures I will post of clouds (if they turn out, they were from my camera phone) from the parking ramp earlier, once power comes back. Time to head back home.


Humor { What Rightwingers see when they read NYT

BoingBoing had a story which pointed to something over at the Huffington Post that made me laugh my ass off. Check it out.

Film { Snakes on a Plane

Motherfucking Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane is a motherfucking bad movie. Seriously its motherfucking awful. But it motherfucking succeeded in motherfucking entertaining the fuck out of me. If you can't motherfucking tell it also had a lot of motherfucking profanity as well as some T-N motherfucking-A. Here are some motherfucking samples of where people motherfucking got bit:

Snakes on a Crank
Snakes on an Eye
Snakes on a Boob
Snakes on a Tongue
Snakes on a Babe
Snakes on a Dog
Snakes on an Ass
Snakes on a Chaunch


Samuel L Jackson was motherfucking great as always.

The motherfucking plot went out the motherfucking window at the first sight of a motherfucking snake on a motherfucking plane.

The motherfucking movie poster was motherfucking awesome.

They said motherfucking a lot.


Musings { Blogasm

I don't know where this is going, I just thought I would drop a stream of consciousness all up in here.

I turn 31 next week. I am a little bummed about it, but only because I am no longer in my 20s. 30 has not been bad at all and I will miss it. For my birthday all I really want is to see my parents. So I think I will.

4 days later I travel with Nerdwife and Celesathene for 20+ hours on a road trip to Idaho for a friends wedding, then hurry back for the guy hanging sheet rock to advance completion of the 'Nerd Lair'. Both Nerdwife and I both look forward to splitting our offices so we can each have a little more room. I right now consume more than my fair share as I have a lot of bulky computer things.

My cat Muffy is getting old. She is 14 and I have had her for 13 years. She has developed a hyper-active thyroid, not uncommon in older cats, but it has required a change of diet and medication. Giving cats medication is unpleasant for all involved. Muffy especially is a wily, hyper-intelligent cat that has a supernatural ability to turn to liquid on command, she can open doors and ooze out of tight holds with the greatest of ease. Wrap her in a towel? Whomever came up with that idea for managing a tough cat can bite my ass. All it manages to do is turn the cat and towel into a feline cannon as cat grabs purchase and shoots out at warp 9.

I have been playing the game 'X3: the Reunion' a lot, it is an amazing game where you get a ship, some credits and from there the rest is up to you. I have amassed a trading flotilla and have multiple factories. I am currently engaged in exploring uncharted sectors and opening new trade routes. It is completely open ended. But it has Starforce copy protection which bites, and I didn't realize it until after I had installed the game and played for a while. I hate Starforce, but became too attached to the game to uninstall it and bring it back.

Here is my reading list:
New York Times (daily)
Coffee: A Dark History by Anthony Wild
Pirates on an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe

I have only nerded 3 times this summer.

I have put on almost 350 miles on my bike this summer in 5-12 mile trips around town.

I have not lost any weight, but I feel better.

We joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) and I have eaten more vegetables than in the last 4 summers combined.

I have been actively working to bring about change in the political arena and break this Republican stranglehold on our lives.

I have watched a lot of movies thanks to Netflix

Notable movies I've seen:
Blue Velvet
Jesus is Magic
Cafe Luminare
The Battle for Algiers
Bio Zombie

Notable movies I've seen in the theater:
none, Clerks II was good, but nothing has stood out for me since the Film Festival last year (I missed it this year).

'Snakes on a Plane' was better than I was expecting, but it was still a terrible movie, but I laughed hard and the theater was filled with people who went and did not take the movie serious, which made it a fun carnival atmosphere, much like when I saw Star Trek 10.

My best musical finds this summer:

Shiny Toy Guns

Concerts I've seen this year:
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Plays I've seen:
none, its been a slow year for me and the theater.

Museums I've visited:
Walker Art Center
Minneapolis Institue of Art

Fishing, lots of fishing this summer. I convinced a few co-workers to go with me after work, which has been a dream of mine since I worked at Acxiom. I don't keep anything, but it is fun to be out on the water. A couple of my co-workers are fly-fishers and are willing to teach me.

Trips planned:
LISA 2006 in Washington DC

Podcasts I listen to:
Evil Genious Chronicles
Off the Hook by 2600
Not Your Usual Bullocks
Thing a Week
This Week in Tech
EFF Line Noise
NPR Science Friday
Doctor Who: Podshock
Minnesota Stories
Ask a Ninja
Hope is Emo
Microbe World
Universe Today
Radio 360

Blogs and News:
City Pages
Aggro Me
The Register
Slate Magazine

I can't wait for Battlestar Galactica to restart.

To quote T.S. Elliot in 'The Lovesong of J. Alfred Proofrock':

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor --
And this, and so much more?--
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
"That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all."

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous--
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old ... I grow old ...
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.


Musings { Planet / Plantato

An interesting debate is raging as Astronomers meet for their triannual conference in Prague, it revolves around the definition of what a planet is and what properties would make a celestial body a planet. The debate was started by the astronomical troublemaker Pluto who is know for its celestial deliquency (i.e. refuses to stay beyond Neptune) and ability to talk galatic-smack (often making fun of Uranus).

Depending upon how the committee decides, we could have as little as 8 planets, or as many as 53. Various factions feel there should be 10, since the discovery of 2003 UB313 in 2003, while others feel damn near anything in the inner rings and Kuiper Belt should be considered planet or planetoid.

A draft definition that I am seeing floated about is the one where a planet is defined by an object that has sufficent gravity that it forms a sphere and whose orbit revolves around a star. That seems simple enough.

This is one of those debates that re-ignites my interest in Astronomy.

MVEMJSUNP2k3 peace out!

Musings { Before I knew it SoDak turned evil

Well not evil. But they are becoming a poster child for the Administration's idea of a conservative christian pro-life gun-toting utopia. Before when you would hear about schools teaching creationism, banning abortion, and generally all the other dogmatic principles that follow the ultra-right's agenda they would usually be in places farther away than next door, places like Florida (where a Bush rules), Texas, or various places in the deep south. But that all started to change with the fairly recent 'intelligent design' cirriculum in the Kansas school board (note that most of those on the school board that implement this policy were just defenistrated and replaced). Even Ohio has fallen. But before I knew it South Dakota has become a bastion of this new agenda. NoDak, SoDak, MN, Iowa, and WI used to be a cluster of rationalism in the upper Midwest, often fiscally conservative, but almost always socially liberal. But since the fall of farming, or rather the corporatization of agriculture, things have been changing. Here are the items I refer to in illustration of my point:

1) The hardcore pro-life legislation banning abortion (even criminalizing it).
2) The death penalty.
3) 'Shoot first' gun legislation allowing the use of deadly force in the defense of property against a fellow person, as well as conceal and carry.

I will not go back into my feelings about the apparent paradox with being 'pro-life' and pro-capital punishment, nor supporting the ability to take life in the defense of property (in my opinion nothing I own is worth another human's life). The only thing they are missing to be a full fledge member of the right-wing utopia is 'intelligent design' legislation.

What happened SoDak? Your neighbor to the east is concerned.

[Poetry] The Call of Nocturnal Chirps

Oh, tiny cricket!
Leggy bug with built in tweeters
and sensory antennae
getting signals from space
how you do holla
how do you cheep
Outside my window
Louder than the sirens of 5-Oh
Louder than the belligerent drunks using the payphone
Underneath the lake out back
In the alley of grass
You cry to deaf heaven
You change rhythm with the temperature
You wake the dead and annoy the living
Treble twangs pierce single pane glass
Yet still you go on
wings of the male making a cacophony of nature

But ah, there is silence
A pause and respite
you go quiet in the
early hours
of the morning
on the way up time's gallows
an introspection
a second thought

Back again now, you are emboldened
to chatter the conversance
of insect cocktail parties

then silent again, but fleeting moments

a blast of courage
the whisper becomes oratory

Oh, how I wish to visit you
in neighborly habitat
with a can of hairspray and a lighter
and burn your song to a cinder


Musings { On Being Scared

There was a link to the KungFu Monkey blog in this month's Cryptogram with a commentary on being scared. I suggest you read it.

A taste:

Maybe it's just, I cast my eyes back on the last century ...

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

... and I'm just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.


Metaphysical { My ennui will end?

This week's horoscope for me (from Free Will Astrology):

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Of all the times in your life when you have been in captivity, this has to be one of the least arduous and frustrating ever. I'll go so far as to say that I have rarely seen a more beautiful prisoner than you; for a drudge in bondage, you're ravishing. As hard as it may be to contemplate, however, it's almost time to escape. Your dark though sexy night of the soul will soon come to an end. Don't you dare linger any longer than you have to.


Casual Friday { Conspiracy Hour

"This short movie was an entry in the June 2006 Minneapolis 48 Hour Film Project the genre picked was Sci-Fi, the required prop was a wallet, the required line of dialog was, "Thanks for you help, thanks a lot." the required character was a DJ Frank Mooney"

(note: I originally found a link to this via the 'Northern Misfit' blog and liked it so much I thought I would post it here)

The '48 Hour Film Project' is a great indie film contest where filmmakers are given a prop, a phrase, a genre, and a line and have 48 hours to make a short film around it. A few years ago, an actor friend of mine Blaine Lemke starred in a film about a Morgue Tech who falls in love with a cadaver and form a relationship and have a grand day out. Very creative stuff.


[Security] The future of travel

I've placed this idea into the public domain before, and I'll do so again now.

"How long until airline travel will entail being stripped naked and sedated for the entire flight?"

My mother thinks the airlines would be nice enough to provide minimalist garments, like hospital gowns, prison jumpsuits, or those paper garments that some police departments give prostitutes. (quick aside - Japanese businessmen would often take off their pants and fly in their underwear during long international flights, at least according to someone who worked in the industry a while back)

Seriously, the potential for sexual abuse of sedated and/or naked passengers, medical complications from sedative, etc. don't make this joke suggestion at all likely, but we seem to be getting to the point where there will be no carry-on luggage at all, a near-strip search will be required of all passengers (or its terrahertz imaging equiv.), and waits to get on a plane are at least a third of the waking day.

Will bus and train travel follow up with similar rules? How long until we require passports to travel between states, much less out of the country?

How much will this end up costing us, in time, and money, and how much security would we actually gain? I for one am looking forward to hearing what Bruce Schneier has to say.

Any bets on the timetable for some of these security "enhancements"?

News { In the News and Tinfoil Hats

Top Story: The British raided and arrested 21 suspects tied to a plot to mix and detonate liquid explosives carried on to trans-atlantic flights in beverage containers and personal electronics. While this is a serious threat, it is too early for me to have an informed opinion as to what happened because all we have is some sketchy information and what I've heard has been soured because the DHS and the Administration are already starting to beat the FUD drum (some have said the 'Al-Qaeda' word) to whip up fear and concerns instead of telling us the facts in a calm an non-sensational way. MSP was like a police state this morning with increased visible and heavily armed police patrolling. All carry on luggage is banned for the time being in Britain and no beverages, makeup, toothpaste, but carry ons are still allowed on domestic flights. On flights to Britain, electronic devices are not allowed in carry on.

If this was a serious threat I thank the British authorities for disarming a potentially deadly situation.

And now for some coincidences (tinfoil hat time):

Coincidence #1 - the Oliver Stone film "World Trade Center" opens today. Time to pick at that wound. People going to see this movie should remember what happens (though I question the timing of its release) and should also think long and hard about what we've become as a people since 9/11.

Coincidence #2 - the fallout of the Lieberman unseat in the Conneticut primary is being decreed as a 'referendum on the war and on the President', Republicans are not trending well and have a chance to loose many of their seats. The only card they have to play is National security and the Fear card.

Other News: The NRA is circulating and lobbying in many states for a new "Shoot-First" bill which strengthens victim's response rights, so much so it allows for shooting people in defense of property and not of self and no longer has the clause calling for retreat if possible instead of armed response. The first instance of this bill was in Florida, it is this law that the others are being modelled after. What disturbs me is that South Dakota has this legislature and North Dakota and Minnesota are being targetted by the NRA and other firearm advocacy groups for similar legislation. My take is this is a continuation of the 'Conceal and Carry' law that was not popular in MN but was passed anyway. I question how arming society makes us safer or more peaceful.


Politics { ACLU Pizza Ad...

Funny and disturbing...according to the 'Streets of Pizza' blog, pizza delivery places have a system that while not as extreme as the ACLU ad, contain a lot of information. When we used to order pizza's from our favorite places in St Paul, they all knew our number, address, and whether we were good tippers or not (we are). A lot of information, all garnered without our knowledge and via implied consent.



Musings { Dream vs Reality, part deux

My dream work day:

06:00 alarm, get up feed the pets, start a pot of coffee, shave, shower

07:00-08:00 read the paper, sip coffee, munch toast, collect myself and my portable office

08:00 catch the bus to work

08:15-09:00 check email, review my calendar, organize a daily to-do list

09:00-11:00 morning project work or break/fix

11:00-12:00 lunch, walk in the park

12:00-15:00 afternoon project work or break/fix

15:00-16:00 documentation

16:00-17:00 professional development/interest work

17:00 catch the bus home

17:15-18:30 feed the pets, start dinner

18:30-19:30 dinner w/ nerdwife

19:30-20:30 bike ride

20:30-22:30 personal time

22:30 bed

deep, refreshing sleep.


06:30 alarm goes off, hit snooze
06:38 alarm goes off, hit snooze
06:46 alarm goes off, hit snooze
06:54 alarm goes off, hit snooze
07:02 alarm goes off, hit snooze (for nerdwife), get up, ignore cats begging, stumble into shower, shave if remember
07:30-07:40 stare at closet deciding on what to wear while still trying to get awake, frantically get dressed
07:40-07:48 rummage for something quick for breakfast, curse self for not setting timer on coffee machine
07:48-08:05 miss bus, have to wait until 09:05 or walk in, during time assemble mental list, read front page of newspaper
08:55 catch 9am bus, because its early

09:15 sit down, unpack work laptop
09:16 priority interrupt by someone needing immediate help because they could not page the on call
09:17 see 09:16
09:18 see 09:16
09:30 after fires have been beaten down to smoking, smolderings get coffee from closest source (usually terrible) and if available something I really shouldn't be eating from the breakfast cart

09:32 priority interrupt
09:40 management looking for update on project X
09:41 (with management still in room) customer looking for update on project X
09:55 start working on project X
09:56 prioirity interrupt, production system on fire
10:20 check email
10:21 delete 90% of email due to system spam (i.e. messages from root mail that are meaningless)
10:22 send response to 5% of emails requiring one, ignore voicemail
10:25 try to remember to-do list, generate new to-do list
10:26 remember project X should be on to-do list, add it
10:27 start working on to-do list, update podcasts, start listening to music
10:28 get to the good part of song and start getting into a work groove, priority interrupt, system down (i.e. user forgot password)
10:29-10:45 take a walk to calm down/clear mind
10:45 wonder about lunch
11:25 grab quick lunch from Sodex'ho bag-n-gag kiosk
11:26-11:28 eat bag-n-gag
11:30-12:30 make progress on project X b/c everyone else is at lunch
12:55 priority interrupt, reminder that 1pm meeting is scheduled
13:00-14:30 sit in meeting where a lot is discussed and little progress made, lose morale while they discuss lack of progress made on project X

14:30 take walk, discover it is nice day, wish I could be outside, lower morale further
15:00 sit down and attempt to work on project X
15:01 priority interrupt, false alarm
15:05 priority interrupt
15:20-16:00 organize post-it notes
16:00-16:55 resume project X work
5 minutes before time to catch bus home, priority interrupt, major system down, spend next 2 hours fixing
~19:00 get home, too exhausted to cook, start quest for food/call pizza delievery
20:30 get home from quest for food, start personal time
22:30 go to bed
22:30-00:30 worry about what has not been accomplished, try to create tomorrow's mental to-do list (which will be forgotten by morning)
fall into fitful sleep

Casual Friday { Chad Vader, Dayshift Manager (part 2)

(part 1 is here)