Saturday, March 29, 2008

Viva los Emosexuales

Somebody shared this link with me this afternoon. I understand the gravity of the conflict (obviously -- hundreds of emo kids all moping about in the same place is a frightening thought), but I can't help but laugh.

"They're organizing to defend their right to be emo," wrote Daniel Hernandez of LA Weekly on his personal blog, which has provided stellar coverage of the whole affair."

Emos are so funny.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Interesting Statistic...

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

I ganked this from Cranky Epistles. I'd say she has me beat, but apparently, I didn't hear the starting whistle. I'm surprised.

Bottle in the Sea

When I was a kid, I couldn't handle helium balloons. I wasn't particularly attached to them, being only colorful, gas-filled bags of rubber, but the dreadful feeling of helplessness when that balloon would slip out of my grasp and float up beyond my reach was too much to risk. I'd either refuse one, much to the chagrin of my adult caretakers (what the heck is wrong with this kid?), or I'd wrap that silly plastic ribbon around my hand so tightly that it'd cut off circulation and leave imprints in my skin when I took it off indoors. Even then, I worried about the joint at the ribbon and the balloon coming loose and sending a half-complete toy far up into the sky, beyond my merciful care and into the unfeeling force of atmospheric currents.

I specifically remember the gut-wrenching rush of reckless adrenaline, sorrow, and an uncanny pining for that balloon I already had when, once, I opened the car window and let the balloon out, clinging as tightly as I could to that polypropylene lifeline, feeling the wind tug at the balloon outside the car. After I couldn't take any more, I pulled the balloon back inside and clung to it like I clung to my beloved Teddy, rescued from the terror of a playful dog (I cried when that happened). My strange obsessive worry about losing hold of those twenty-five cent toys -- which deflated eventually anyway, even though I had no problem with that -- was real, and it had terrific power over my childhood mind.

I don't worry about balloons anymore, but that obsessive mental defect crops up elsewhere, now that I've grown. I still pine dearly for things I already have and am afraid to lose, and I still find myself wanting to turn down those blasted balloons completely; the prospect of a shiny new job, a fuzzy pet, or a meaningful relationship frighten me as much as they excite me. Likewise, too, once I hold something valuable, I cling instinctively, except now, the strangling ribbon affects more than a small, unknown corner of a quiet kid's psyche.

Friday, March 21, 2008

More Piles of Rock!

It's already Friday morning. Since we ran out of time to see Denver, we'll be heading back up there for another night tonight, but currently, we're in Alamosa, CO, the nearest town to the Great Sand Dunes. We went there yesterday:

A word, here, to the unwise: Leave your digicam in the car if you're gonna go climbing around on sand dunes -- both cameras we brought broke due to sand inhalation. The photo above was the last one she took before she finally died. I knew it was going to happen, so I figured if somebody found the camera a thousand years from now, they'd have a record of its final moments. The wind out there was terrific -- A hooded shirt and face mask were absolutely necessary. Out in that stinging tempest, I thought for a moment the camera and I may share the same fate, so in a way, the camera's last words were the same I'd choose for myself: "All I see is sand!"

We headed back into town, where we ate lunch at a lovely coffee shop and learned about the tainted water in town. Milagro's coffee, the one mentioned in the article, is the one we ate lunch at (this really is a tiny town). Thankfully, our hotel assures us the water we've consumed over the last few days has been safe, as theirs comes from a separate well. Sure enough, though, the town is shutting down -- pretty much all the chains are closed:

We then made another trek out to the parks after picking up some bottled water at Wal Mart, and hiked again in the woods. This time, the trail was mostly maintained by deer -- we didn't see any human tracks, and sometimes had to do some scouting to find out how to get to the next trail marker. To top it off, about half the trail was covered in several feet of snow. Thankfully, it had compacted over the winter, so we could walk on top of it for the most part. Occasionally, though, we'd sink up to a knee in the stuff, yelp for the other to stop while we dug ourselves out, then use the club (a heavy, dead tree branch we found for protection from mountain lions) to climb our way back to the top of the snow pack. The view from those mountains was tremendous:

We ate at a local pizza place for dinner (the only place that was open, actually), and slept well. Today, we'll see the Great Divide brewery in Denver, and tomorrow, we're off for a long trek home.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Great piles of rock!

Welcome to Denver. It's really sad when you take a vacation, and all along the way, you snap photos and think, "Man, I'm so gonna blog this." That said, from my perspective, it's a fun thing. These are my photos, for my own remembering.

Saturday, we drove. While normally a drive across country would be an exciting thing, we drove through seven hours of:

Finally, though, we saw our first sign of the mountains. Of course, in my excitement, I snapped about a dozen photos that looked very much like this:

Shortly into the mountains, we came across a lovely snowstorm. The magic of driving up a mountain road in the snow made the seven-hour trek through nothingness completely worth it. I had to video this one -- it was hard to get good exposure with a photograph.

We finally made it to the Stanley Hotel, perched on the side of a mountain just outside Estes Park. We spent as much on dinner as the hotel stay, but I tell ya, I've never had a rack of lamb so tasty. I also had a decent brew with a funny name:

The next morning, we went for a hike in the snowy woods. Despite the snow and altitude, it was easy enough to stay warm with activity. Breathing, though, was the hard part. Mountain air is thin -- it's no fabrication. After a mile or so, you get used to it, but it really is a novel experience at first, to have to breathe so heavily.

After our hike, we checked into the Marriott in Denver. I've never been in such a fancy hotel -- the atrium, even, was quite a shock:

Monday afternoon, we went to the Denver Aquarium downtown. In a few hours, we saw bunches of fish, some live tigers, and we ate fish in front of other fish. The humanfish below says, "WTF? BOB!?!?"

Tuesday, we visited the Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Denver, then we hopped over a couple blocks to the Denver Art Museum, then we jogged across the street to a nice little café and wine bar.

After the museums and coffee, our expert driver missed the turn for the hotel, and we ended up in a large outdoor mall, where we milled around Bass Pro Shop (where a man let us come behind the counter to look through his telescope at another man crossing the highway), Forever 21 (a shiny clothing store, where even the floor sparkled), and I took a nap in a comfy chair at the book store.

That evening, dinner was room service (never done that before...), and sleep was sound, after the miles of museum wandering.

Wednesday, now, has just begun. I'll post more later, I'm sure, as we've a visit to the sand dunes and some possible cave exploration ahead. Until then, eh?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Firefox 3 Beta 4 - First Impressions

Mozilla released Firefox 3 beta 4 on Monday this week, and after a couple days playing with it, I'm thoroughly impressed. Compared with the innovations from Firefox 1 to Firefox 2, this latest release is striking enough to consider versions 1 and 2 to be only variations on a theme. They've stepped pretty far off the beaten track with a lot of these features, and the result is... exciting.

The interface remains similar, with a minor redesign of the forward and back buttons to account for the most common use -- the "back" button is larger now. It just feels better this way. I click that button the most -- why shouldn't it be the biggest?

After only a few seconds, you'll notice the second innovation, by far the most "Why hasn't anybody done that before?" and "Well geeze, that's easy." The history in the address bar now auto-completes based on a sort of mysterious keyword database instead of URL. I can type "google mail" in it, for example, and the first result in the auto-complete bar is my gmail. Just. Wow.

Finally, and a little less useful but no less impressive, is a highly redesigned page zoom feature. Instead of increasing only text size, it appears to affect all elements of page layout -- tables, frames, and so on. It also resizes images along with the rest of the page, and I assume once Flash is implemented (there doesn't appear to be a plugin yet), it'll do the same with Youtube videos.

Behind all this, memory use has been vastly improved over Firefox 2. I've had an average of four or so tabs open for about 24 hours now (with plenty of surfing in the meantime), and Firefox has increased from 50MB when first opened, to 62MB currently. How they've accomplished these feats of software engineering and decreased system load, I'll probably never know.

Despite the lack of flash/java (I don't really need them, anyway), I'm using this browser solely at this time. There's no reason not to, and every reason I should. I'm thoroughly impressed.


Well, I poked around a little more, and I discovered a way to manipulate the "mysterious keyword database" using a new tagging concept implemented into the bookmarks system. Click the star at the top, add a keyword for that site, and you can bring it up in the history auto-complete by typing that keyword in. A disorganized list of bookmarks is a thing of the past! This is becoming cooler and cooler, I tell yas...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

New Readers

Every once in awhile, I'll go on a reading binge, during which I'll read several books, usually at least a couple at a time.

I'll share thoughts, because you so nicely asked for them.

First, I finished The Te of Piglet just a few days ago. It was a short read, and I picked it up because I so much liked its predecessor, The Tao of Pooh. Both books explain Taoism through characters from "Winnie The Pooh" and "House at Pooh Corner." Sadly, I was a little disappointed in this one. Despite warning against the "Eeyore Effect," the book had a terribly negative tone throughout most of it, lacked much of the humor The Tao of Pooh, and just wasn't nearly as inspiring overall. It was still worth a read, though, as it didn't take more than a few hours, and had a more detailed explanation of some Taoist principles.

I'm currently in the middle of Eragon as well. Eragon, our main character, finds a strange rock on a hunting trip, and from it bursts a novel's worth of adventure. It's very much a "wandering" book, with the majority of the scenes describing the characters' travel from city to city. Rumor has it the author, Christopher Paolini, is only a kid (what, seventeen?), and while there are hints of immaturity -- like the lack of real-world parallels -- the book tells quite a lovely story. I do like reading fantasy novels, and this one is really satisfying. I especially like the personality the author gives the dragon.

Finally, as a gift for Christmas, I received House of Leaves, a strange book mostly analyzing a fictional movie about a house that's 5/16" bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Naturally, this "spatial rape" causes all sorts of strange phenomena, including a doorway -- apparently to the backyard -- that opens into an apparently un-ending, lightless labyrinth. The narrator/editor also tells his own story, though, so we also learn about Johnny Truant's city life as he slowly falls into madness. Both elements of this novel convey a tangible sense of atmosphere, and the movie's premise, along with the scenes described in it, is downright chilling. The actual text of novel, while easy enough to read, is insanely complex. First, our narrator found this "book" as scraps of paper in a locked chest in a dead man's apartment. Because of that, it really does feel like an old man's scribblings -- sometimes it's completely nonsensical (like one page entirely full of names), and sometimes it spins off into completely separate topics, only vaguely related to the "movie" it describes. Many of the footnotes are imaginary, and in one case so far, minor characters, instead of names, are referred to as ______, like the author was going to fill them in later. To boot, our narrator, while quite intelligent in his analyses (and the fact that he's putting together this book in the first place), has a strange, rambling writing style that's awfully hard to get used to (and safely skipped when he really starts to go on). In some points, "Ed.", presumably a third editor, makes comments to clarify, and in one case assures us that the strange text layout (including mirrored passages and rotated paragraphs) is the way he received it, and that he isn't sure who's idea it was -- the narrator's (Johnny Truant's), or the author's (a man called Zampanó's) idea. Oh, it's a strange novel, and it's quite worth checking out. It's intimidating (hence, the delay), but once you get into it, it's really not that bad, and your effort will be well spent.