Sunday, September 30, 2007

So, in this scene

For your amusement (or not) at my expense, check out my first acting job in a Microsoft recruiting video:

ViewMyWorld.com

I'm in the first video after the orange line, "Cowboy Roy meets an SDE." I'm at the back left of the conference table. Watch me (from a terribly unflattering angle) pretend to have a meeting right before the singing cowboy follows the frightened young developer into the bathroom.

You can also meet someone on my team in the video "Cowboy Roy meets an SDET" and the follow-up "John's interview."

Theft

Well, yesterday was the first time I've had anything of any real value stolen from me. I mean, a kid stole a brown Crayola marker from me when I was little, but that was decades ago. Yesterday, while I was visiting Stanley Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, someone broke into our rental car and stole the following:

  • Four CDs*
  • An opened bag of assorted cookies
  • An umbrella

They didn't steal anything else or damage the vehicle—they left behind backpacks, road atlases, beef jerky, Red Bull, water, and my dad's butterfly net. Oh well... it certainly could have been worse. At least the thieves had good taste in music.

Currently stolen: * Keane—Under the Iron Sea, KT Tunstall—Drastic Fantastic, Muse—Black Holes and Revelations, Mute Math—Mute Math

Japanese Sea Nettles

Here's a wallpaper-sized photo I took of Japanese Sea Nettles. Click for the high-res version.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Prime domain names

Before you cheat and go there, what do you think is at wiccapedia.com and .org?
  1. Porn site
  2. Domain squatter
  3. An actual encyclopedia of Wiccan knowledge, witchcraft, and the like

Okay, now you can check your answers (.org) (.com).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Like old times

Tomorrow my parents arrive from Nebraska. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The flavors of soybeans and genitals, together at last

So, many months ago I had a suite of doctor visits hoping to find a cure for my headaches. So far I haven't had any luck, and I'm not sure if I've actually improved at all. That said, I've been trying to make a few dietary and lifestyle changes suggested by the nutritionist. One is being better at avoiding things I'm allergic to, like milk products and whey and eggs. Another is eating more protein.

That one surprised me. I love meat. I eat a lot of it. But, apparently, I'm not getting enough protein. So, I've been adding a little chicken breast to things that didn't have meat before, like pastas, and other little things like that. Also, every day as a snack I've been eating these concentrated soy protein bars.

I didn't have many options for meat-free protein supplements since I'm highly allergic to whey, the most common source. The second-most-common is soy, and there are a lot of revolting soybean products that pass off as edible by humans. I've tried various powders and bars, and found a lot of horrid things, but I've also found a couple products that actually taste pretty good. They've got quite a decent amount of protein and other vitamins and minerals in them, and I'd almost eat them even if they weren't healthy. The worthwhile products I've tried have been various flavors of protein bars by GeniSoy. I recommend the fudge flavor and the mint flavor if you ever feel like increasing your protein intake.

GeniSoy just really seems like an unfortunate brand name. I mean, clearly I get the Soy part, but where does Geni come from? The only word that immediately comes to mind is "genitals." (If I think hard and long enough I can come up with "genius" and "genial.")

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards: aftermath

After picking my favorite 25 tracks of the past year, I then had to integrate a number of those into my top 25 and top 100 all-time favorites. (Well, "had to" is perhaps misleading.) I won't bore you with all the details, but a full 15 of those 25 made it onto my top 100 list, which means to me that it was a great year. Thanks to this year, I've completely eliminated Alanis Morrissette, Hans Zimmer, Jimmy Eat World, Kanye West, lisahall, Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Stabbing Westward, Swollen Members, and 311 from my top 100.

In comparison, only three tracks from last year made it onto my top 25:

Amon Tobin—Always
Anggun—Cesse la Pluie
Keane—Atlantic

booted off

Vanessa Carlton—Paradise
Linkin Park—Somewhere I Belong
Michelle Branch—'Til I Get Over You

Competition is getting fierce.

Morning imagery

Sometimes when I awaken in the morning, even if I can't necessarily remember any of my dreams or if I even had dreams, I'll have a clear image in my mind for a second or so. The first thing I think of each morning would be an interesting fact to record and catalog, except most of the time my mind is far too mushy for an hour or two upon waking up to actually remember to do anything like that.

But I do remember the first image that came to mind this morning. This morning, the very first thing I thought about after waking up was... one of the cashier girls from my building's cafeteria, and the guy who runs the grill. They were leaving about the same time I did on Friday, around 9:00, and I ran into them getting into the elevator as I was getting out of it. I have no idea why that image would have been the first one in my mind this morning.

v2

As you either noticed immediately because you read my blog on the website directly, or otherwise wouldn't because you only read the RSS feed, I've rolled out a new design for Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area. I'm particularly attached to it. I wanted a single design theme that I could use for both my woefully empty travisspomer.com site and this blog, and I finally got around to doing it. I chose a "blue and light" motif. There's a little bit of content on the main non-blog site now, with empty promises of more content to come.

There are some refinements I'll want to make over time, but I decided it was good enough to replace the old theme right now. I hope you enjoy it. Special thanks to Rohan, Sean, Marc, and Matt for your feedback while I was doing my last-minute tweaks.


Currently listening: Mute Math—Break the Same

Saturday, September 22, 2007

INTJ

I was reminded recently of the Myers-Briggs personality test, which puts me as an INTJ. After reading this page, which I have read a couple times before, I was again shocked by how well it describes me. I could practically use it as an "about me" page for this blog. For my own amusement, I'm now going to replace "INTJ" in excerpts from that page with "Travis."

~ ~ ~

It is not easy for the Travis to express their internal images, insights, and abstractions. The internal form of the Travis' thoughts and concepts is highly individualized, and is not readily translatable into a form that others will understand.

Travises spend a lot of time inside their own minds, and may have little interest in the other people's thoughts or feelings.

Indeed, the Travis is not overly demonstrative of their affections, and is likely to not give as much praise or positive support as others may need or desire. That doesn't mean that he or she doesn't truly have affection or regard for others, they simply do not typically feel the need to express it.

Travises are usually difficult to get to know well, and difficult to get close to.

Travis... can be really good at telling jokes, and exhibiting a sarcastic wit with a poker face.

Travis Strengths
* Not threatened by conflict or criticism
* Usually self-confident
* Generally extremely intelligent and capable [well, Mom says...]

Travis Weaknesses
* Not naturally good at expressing feelings and affections
* Tendency to believe that they're always right
* Tendency to be unwilling or unable to accept blame

~ ~ ~

Eeeeerie.


Currently listening: Mute Math—Typical, which made me want to listen to Mute Math—Transformers Theme

Lost in (cramped) space

Time for another dream story. Last night, I dreamed that I got lost in the crawl space of my house. In my dream, my house was extremely large, and seemed to be a juxtaposition of old and new—the passages were deteriorated stone, but there were also things like modern metal heating ducts. There were four of us wandering around, trying to find an exit—the entire dream took place while we were lost back there, and we never did make it out. Besides myself, there was one coworker, one guy who works in the same building with whom I do not actually work, and a blonde girl who doesn't exist in real life. (I seem to recall there being five, actually, but I don't know anything about who that other person would have been.)

We wandered around in the crawl space, hidden passage, or whatever it was for quite a while. We came across broken stairways, twisting passages, and all sorts of adventure movie stereotypes. At one point we had to climb into a heating duct that was dangerous to get into, and it was then that the dream contained Dramatic Adventure Movie Escape Cliché #1: I found myself reaching down from the duct, pulling the next person up after they had slipped and were at risk of falling down to certain death, while the person ahead of me held onto my feet so I didn't fall down myself.

Movies have ruined my brain. In fact, if you were to argue that the random blonde woman was only present because she herself is a movie cliché: the pretty but helpless female who needs constant assistance from the men, but likely proves herself to be strong and self-confident after all by the end.

Anyway, like most of my dreams, there was no real point and no real resolution; I merely woke up instead of actually escaping the treacherous passage.


Currently listening: Muse—Starlight

Friday, September 21, 2007

High definition

I don't have an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player. I don't really want to buy one until one of the formats is clearly more popular than the other. Whether or not I can manage to wait that long is up in the air. I just don't want to deal with having a bunch of players and a bunch of discs that I can't watch at other peoples' houses or any nonsense like that. Plus, I currently use a PC for all of my TV and movie-watching needs, and I don't even really know what my options are for watching HD movies on a PC, or if I have to get a standalone unit and switch AV inputs. Bah.

I was fortunate enough to start buying movies right around the time that DVDs began to become popular; I only purchased three movies on VHS, and I just replaced those with DVDs and gave them away. The format that will win my heart, and likely the hearts of more American consumers, is probably the first one that can manage to offer movies at roughly the same prices as standard DVDs. Right now there's a significant premium to buy high-def discs versus standard DVDs, though it's decreasing all the time. Probably the most interesting development I've noticed is that the HD-DVD version of 300 includes the standard DVD version. The Blu-Ray version doesn't. So, for about eight bucks more than the regular DVD, you can also get a high-def version. That seems like a reasonable deal, and if I decide to buy 300, I'll probably buy that version.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Quiet, cool

It's cooled down here substantially over the past week; it's down to 50, and the highs for the next week are all in the mid-60s. I'm trying things out with no fans running now. The fans I bought to help circulate air were very quiet as fans go, but right now the house is almost totally silent—all I can hear is the computer and my own breathing and keystrokes. No house noises, no neighbor noises, and no road noises. It's eerie.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

A better me than me

I'm currently (well, not currently; I'm still at work) working on a new design for this blog and my main travisspomer.com site (which is currently a placeholder), and I wanted to include handwritten text in a couple places. After painstakingly writing things out by hand on my tablet, I realized that it didn't look nearly as nice as the placeholder text I was using in the font I created based on my own handwriting style. In effect, I've trained my computer to write more like me than I do.

(Examples: "Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area" in the image currently to the left is handwritten, and "blog.travisspomer.com" is using the font I created. All of the handwritten text on travisspomer.com is currently using the handwriting font.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Crazy Frog teleportation effect, only 199 credits

Assuming that matter teleportation safe for human use becomes commonplace sometime in the distant future, I think that one of the first services that will be made available will be custom special effects for whenever you're teleported. I think that these will be like ringtones. Your personal teleporter beacon that you got for free with your two-year teleportation contract will come with like four lame pre-programmed special effects... maybe one where you just fade out, one where there are sparkles like on Star Trek, one where your image sort of warps and distorts, and one, uh, I'm out of ideas for boring effects now. Then, for an extra cost, you could buy new special effects from your teleportation service provider. For example, you could get one that played classical music like Beethoven's Fifth or Britney Spears' Slave 4 U while your body appeared to turn to stone in a dignified statue-like manner before dissolving into dust. I think that would be a popular one. I actually think of the teleportation effects that I would like to buy moderately frequently. This is because I am a loser.

Hey, a few hundred years from now, will people who want to look dignified and intellectual listen to Britney Spears because it will be classical music?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

jejeje

Whenever I see a Spanish-speaking person convey laughter through an instant message or other text, I go through a three-step process:

Ricardo: jejeje
Travis:

1. "Huh? Jejeje?"
2. "Oh yeah. Other languages are funny." (smile)
3. Then, I continue smiling, because I think of that Simpsons episode where the students are laughing at Lisa, and the French teacher instructs them to laugh at her "en français" instead.

Modus operandi

Oh, and in case you're wondering, here's the sequence of events and observations that leads a Travis to spend five hours compiling a list of his favorite songs from the past year:
  • It's approaching dinnertime, so I decide to go downstairs and relax and make dinner.
  • I remember that I need to set up a guest account on my PC downstairs so my parents will be able to watch TV without needing my admin password (my TV works through my PC).
  • As I'm in Media Center anyway, I decide to get rid of some of the things I have recorded and never watched.
  • I decide to watch an episode of The Singing Bee, and skim a few others.
  • I'm now in a musical mood when I return upstairs after eating dinner, so I decide to finish my music awards for 2007.

Usually when I follow a chain of distractions this long I forget to do the things that I originally intended. In this case, I'm particularly proud of myself for remembering to actually make and eat dinner before getting distracted and listening to music for hours and hours.

The 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards: honorable mention

Finally, the honorable mentions. These are kind of like the Oscars that aren't awarded in the main ceremony, like the Oscar that Microsoft got for the Windows Media video codec. Here we go.

Most ridiculous and pretentious intro track
Basement Jaxx—Intro (Crazy Itch Radio)

Most upsetting stark realization that this album isn't going to be as good as I had hoped
Linkin Park—Given Up (track 2, right after the intro)

Most offensively awful album
Bubba Sparxxx—The Charm

Weirdest video for a weird song
Basement Jaxx—Take Me Back to Your House


And that does it for the 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards. Here's to 2008! I've got a few more interesting-looking CDs coming in the mail, and Black Holes and Revelations by Muse that I've just started to check out. ES Posthumus finally has a new album coming out soon, as well as Hooverphonic, and I can practically guarantee that tracks from both will make the next list.

The 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards: best tracks

And now, the hardest part: picking my 25 favorite songs from the year. I almost copped out and listed my favorite 35 or 40, but I got it down to 25, and I'm happy with what's left. All of these tracks are excellent, and a full-length copy is available for free for all of them, conveniently linked below. I've linked the music videos wherever possible, but all should be on Napster's free service too.

Amon Tobin—Always (top 5)
Amon Tobin—Esther's
Anggun—Cesse la Pluie (top 5)
Anggun—Être une Femme
Basement Jaxx—Hush Boy (top 5)
Basement Jaxx—Take Me Back to Your House
Death Cab for Cutie—Title and Registration
Garbage—Bleed Like Me
Keane—Atlantic (top 5)
Keane—Is It Any Wonder?
KT Tunstall—Black Horse and the Cherry Tree
KT Tunstall—Suddenly I See
Linkin Park—Bleed it Out
Linkin Park—In Pieces
Maroon 5—If I Never See Your Face Again
Maroon 5—Little of Your Time
Métisse—Boom Boom Bâ
Newsboys—Something Beautiful
Newsboys—Wherever We Go
Rihanna—Umbrella (top 5)
Scissor Sisters—I Can't Decide
Scissor Sisters—Intermission
Shea Seger—Last Time
Tom McRae—A Day like Today
Tom McRae—Karaoke Soul

In the end, I think that the best song from 2007 was:

Best song of 2007
Keane
Atlantic
Under the Iron Sea

Atlantic certainly helped bring Under the Iron Sea to the coveted Travis Spomer's favorite album of 2007 spot, but the rest of the album would still stand extremely strong without it.

The 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards: best albums

First, a recap of the albums I rated 8 or higher on a 10-point scale over the past year:

Rated 9/10
Air—Pocket Symphony
Anggun—Luminescence
Basement Jaxx—Crazy Itch Radio
Keane—Under the Iron Sea
Newsboys—Go

Rated 8/10
Air—Moon Safari
Amon Tobin—Foley Room
David Arkenstone—The Celtic Book of Days
Death Cab for Cutie—Transatlanticism
Delerium—Nuages du Monde
KT Tunstall—Eye to the Telescope
Maroon 5—It Won't Be Soon Before Long
Yann Tiersen—Les Retrouvailles

I reevaluated my ratings of the 7+ albums, and these all still seem appropriate, except for the David Arkenstone album, which is probably pushing it. Any of the 9/10 albums would be great choices for the Travis Spomer album of the year, but the award goes to...

Best album of 2007
Keane
Under the Iron Sea

The 2007 Sleepless in the Seattle Metro Area Music Awards: introduction

Well, it's been a year since I'd sat down and relistened to the songs I'd found in the past year, so that means it was time. It's always a fun time listening to those tracks I'd forgotten, and reassuring myself that great music is still being produced in the world. In trying to pick my top 25 songs, I started with a list of about 55, and the cuts started getting difficult at around the 45 mark; there are plenty of spectacular songs that didn't make this year's list, as always.

The criteria for making it onto these lists is merely that I had to have heard the song since the last time I did this, about a year ago. I'm calling that time period "2007." So, without further ado, let's start with the best albums of 2007.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Suicide Underground

The short version:
Air—The Virgin Suicides: 6/10
Rihanna—Good Girl Gone Bad: 5/10
Global Underground Afterhours 3: overall recommended

This time I've been listening to yet another Air album, the soundtrack to the movie The Virgin Suicides. As a movie soundtrack, it's a little more bland "background music" in its style, and while it has the laid-back attitude that I'm expecting from Air, there's not as much weirdness or variety as their other CDs. Still, if you like Air, you'll probably like this too. It sort of makes me want to watch the movie (1999, Sofia Coppola). Unlike most CDs, all of my favorite tracks are in the second half of the album: Ghost Song, Highschool Lover, and Dead Bodies.

Since I don't listen to the radio (or internet radio) or watch MTV, I'm usually pretty far behind when it comes to hit songs. I'd heard Umbrella by Rihanna from her latest album Good Girl Gone Bad a couple times, but I think most people my age have probably heard it about a hundred times, so it's still new to me. That said, there's a reason that it's such a popular song; it's entrancing. If only the rest of the disc were as good. It's not bad, just not too interesting to me—it's similar to Beyoncé's Dangerously in Love, but more electronic and less R&B. The best songs on here besides Umbrella are Breakin' Dishes and Lemme Get That. Breakin' Dishes in particular reminds me of Nelly Furtado's last CD, but Rihanna doesn't pull it off as well.

Finally, I've been listening to a three-CD compilation by Global Underground with the creative name Afterhours 3. Not bad; you get a lot of variety for your money. I think it would be good at exactly what it says it would be good for: late night background music at or after a party. One of the CDs is mostly just club music, which I'm not really a big fan of, but the other two are chillout and ambient (roughly speaking), which I'm more friendly toward. Like this set, my favorites from the collection cover a variety of different electronica styles: The Cinematic Orchestra—Channel Suite 1, Andrew K—No Hay Banda, Ticon—In Stereo, and Charlie—Spacer Woman. Recommended, though I can't really rate it since every track is different.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The smallest things can be the most awesome

I discovered (on my own, seriously!) the greatest feature that I didn't know that Expression Web and SharePoint Designer had: you can highlight text in the web page editor, and press Ctrl+Q to wrap your current selection in a new tag. For example, you can highlight a block of code, and then press

Ctrl+Q code Enter

to wrap your selection in <code></code> tags. If you want to, you can even do something like

Ctrl+Q span style="code" Enter

if you wanna get all complicated. I knew that you could do this for existing tags (if, say, you wanted to enclose a div inside of another div), but not for just random text. I'm gonna use this all the time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Morale

Yesterday, as a morale event slash team-building exercise, a bunch of the SharePoint Designer developers went on a boating scavenger hunt across Lake Union in downtown Seattle. It was quite a lot of fun, actually. We split into two teams, and each got a sheet of thirty cryptic clues ("violet smokestack floats besides eleven — take a picture"), a camera, pizza, wings, and drinks, and set out on our electric boat for two hours.

Even if you don't have enough people to break up into multiple teams and do a scavenger hunt, you can still rent out the boats and sail around on your own for about $18 a person, which seems like it might be a fun party idea for ten people.


Currently listening: Mark Snow—Threnody in X

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Burning

When I was younger, my brother and I both had the annoying habit of turning the burners up to "high" whenever we saw them set to anything but "low" or "off." I mean, if it takes sixteen minutes to cook on "5," it should only take eight minutes on "high," right? We were just saving everyone time. Our mother, of course, loved that we were so considerate.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Heroes episode guide

So, you got that shiny new DVD set of the show Heroes, and you're looking to see what all of the fuss is about. Now you look on the back and see that there's a never-aired pilot episode, and it's a full 70-something minutes long. Wondering what order to watch the episodes in? No problem.

First, start with the unaired pilot. Hmm, the show is a bit enigmatic and overwhelming with so many storylines right from the start, but no big deal. Looks interesting enough.

Then, move on to the second episode. You may notice at this point that there are already serious story and continuity errors. By the end of the episode, you should be scratching your head. This is normal.

To clear everything up, now watch the first episode. You'll note that, like the second episode, it's very similar to the unaired pilot, except different in subtle, confusing ways. Wait, that guy lost his hand a few minutes ago; how does he have two hands now? What was all that stuff about cancer? Why is that painting different in this one scene? We just saw that scene, and it was a different painting.


Request for future DVD producers: if at any time it is not 100% clear what order to watch things in, please include documentation either in the packaging or the DVD menu.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A goal of less awkward silence

Recently, for the past few weeks, I've been attempting somewhat to try to overcome my natural shyness. I'm not exactly expecting to turn into an outgoing extrovert or anything, but there are certain times in life when it doesn't pay to be shy, and I really do need practice initiating conversation with people I don't know, or at least don't know well. It's too early to tell if I'm actually getting better at it; I imagine that it's something I'll need to work on for a while. Situations certainly come up in everyday life in which I'd speak up and talk to someone if I could, but somewhere along the way my brain's shyness zone (this is a made-up term) insists that it's a bad idea and aborts the whole operation. That's what bothers me—I might have made up my mind to talk to someone, but then I, bewilderingly, somehow fail to do so, generally with little to no involvement of my conscious mind. It's kind of unsettling, and I don't know how else to describe it.


Currently listening: Unreal Tournament 3 theme, alternate version (both downloadable)

Shindig

The temple near my house was having some big event today; there were cars everywhere, "no parking" signs, and people wandering the neighborhoods. And, loud singing and chanting. I could almost hear it from my house half a mile away. During the eight or so minutes that I could hear the chant, it didn't appear to change, though it's hard to tell since I don't know what they were saying. Must be fun for their neighbors.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Mania and dementia

Well, I finished the expansion to Oblivion, The Shivering Isles. Excellent, of course. The story is quite interesting and unique, and since everyone living in the Shivering Isles is crazy to some degree, the characters are colorful as well. Anyone who enjoyed Oblivion would enjoy the expansion—new people, quests, places, items, and the like. Shivering Isles is unlike Cyrodiil in appearance, and the majority of the graphics are completely new, which is pretty impressive—not an Ayleid ruin in sight.

Shivering Isles: Mania

If you liked the questing in Oblivion, Shivering Isles won't disappoint. If you're the type who liked to get lost in the game world, there's plenty to explore here, with all-new enemies and architecture, though the raw size of the world is small compared to the base game. Of course, "small" in Oblivion terms is still quite a sizable island to play around in. The quests take thirty hours or so.

Shivering Isles: Haskill in the Palace of Sheogorath

Anyway, if you played Oblivion, there's no good reason not to get Shivering Isles unless you're totally sick of the game by now. It's been out for quite a long time on the PC and Xbox Live, and the Xbox 360 DVD is coming out in a few weeks if you prefer that route.

Martha Spomer's tip # 00130

Toilet seats are attached by screw knobs on the underside back of the bowl. If your seat is wobbly, simply reach down and tighten them for maximum defecatory convenience.

(I always assumed they worked through bolts that were difficult to get to and adjust.)

Pizza

I have a magical power. It's not that magical, but it's as good as I'm going to get. Whenever a group that I am a part of orders pizza, I can instantly predict which one will be gone first: the one I liked. This is true whether I was in the majority or whether I ordered something separate because I didn't want what other people were getting.

I can't even recall the last time that this was not true. There should be a rule somewhere that if you order something that isn't "meat lover's" or something fairly similar, you have to only eat from that pizza until it's gone or spoken for. It is not be a coincidence that the mushroom-pineapple-olive thin crust pizza that you knew would be awesome is still there in the box.

(I like "regular" meat pizzas, with the exception of pepperoni, which I detest. My ideal pizza is something like sausage-bacon-onion, though a plain sausage pizza is delicious enough too. Ground beef as a topping is rare here, though it is another delicious option in Nebraska.)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Upsides

Benefit of lifting weights regularly: the number of days that your limbs hurt after working out decreases

Benefits of not lifting weights regularly: your limbs don't hurt


Currently listening: Rihanna—Umber-ella, ella, ella

Ugh

You know you haven't been getting enough photography sessions in when you look all over for your battery charger and finally realize that you haven't even unpacked it yet.

Spiders

One thing I've noticed about Washington is that it seems to have more than its fair share of spiders. Now, I don't mind spiders, but I do dislike spiderwebs—mainly when they get on me when I'm Segwaying to work. It seems that the spiders around here are very active at night and set up webs that cross all of my favorite sidewalks in a valiant but vain effort to catch themselves a human-sized prey. I hit one today that was so thick that it actually stung my face when I ran into it, and I still hadn't managed to pull it from my face by the time I arrived at my office.


Currently listening: Muse—Starlight

Buy groceries, receive free handtruck

I discovered on Wednesday that when I received my grocery order on Tuesday, the driver left a handtruck in my carport. You'd think you'd notice missing something like that. Maybe I was the last delivery for the day; that often seems to be the case.

So far they haven't made any effort to come pick it up. I've informed them that I have it and that they can have it back whenever they want. Nobody has contacted me yet. So yeah, free handtruck.

Company meeting

I went to the company-wide meeting today. It was the first time I actually went to it, though I tuned into the webcast a few times from my desk in the past. It was... pretty boring; the webcast is the way to go. To give you the experience of being in the audience, here are the three things that got the most applause.

Biggest applause: a particular new Windows Live beta feature (seriously)
Second biggest applause: Bill Gates dropping a microphone (I guess—I didn't see it) resulting in what I think is the loudest ear-shattering screeching noise I have ever heard (even louder than Steve Ballmer's trademark screeching)
Third biggest applause: seeing BioShock in the E3 2007 Xbox 360 games montage

Now sit in an uncomfortable chair for eight hours and fidget while reading Microsoft press releases. There; it's like you were there.

Fourth biggest applause was when somebody's paper airplane made it all the way to the stage.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mediocrity

The short version:
The Mars Volta—Amputechture: 3/10
Dennis McCarthy—Star Trek: Generations: 3/10

Recently I've been listening to a couple albums, including Amputechture by The Mars Volta. It's pretty mediocre. I wasn't a huge fan to begin with, but their last couple CDs were interesting enough that I bothered buying this one. I think I'm done. I like that it's creative and unusual music, but they're just too high for me. The best tracks on here are Vermicide and Viscera Eyes—Vermicide is pretty good, but it doesn't keep the album afloat, and the rest of the disc is nothing to, well, blog about.

I also have been listening to the Star Trek: Generations soundtrack by Dennis McCarthy, which is also pretty mediocre. McCarthy is the guy who they get to do Star Trek soundtracks when Jerry Goldsmith wasn't around, apparently; he also did a lot of the TV music. And, TV music is really what this sounds like. There's not a lot of punch, and almost everything on here is forgettable. The best stuff on here is Deck 15 and The Nexus / A Christmas Hug, both of which are pretty to listen to but not particularly exciting, and most of the rest is even more bland.

Neither disc is awful, but I'm not feeling very generous, so I give them each three out of ten, though four would probably be almost as fitting.


I have finally almost emptied my music queue. At one time I had forty unlistened CDs, and now I'm down to two: The Virgin Suicides by Air, and Afterhours 3, a compilation that I am hoping may lead me to more interesting artists. I've got several more discs on order, though, so I won't run out quite yet...

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Photos back from the grave

Almost all of the photos I've taken and posted to my blog in the past three years are now in a public Facebook album that you can view even if you don't have a Facebook account, in case you missed them before Google rudely deleted them all. (If you do, you can also comment on them and share them and what-have-you.)

Facebook—Favorite photos

Rosies

Here are two pictures of my roses, for the interested. Click for larger versions.

My roses - 1
My roses - 2

Currently listening: Amon Tobin—Rosies

Segway Borg spine

Here are the Borg-spine-like Segway handlebars that I referred to a few weeks ago.

Segway Borg spine

True fear

There comes a point during the construction of nearly every piece of furniture you buy in which you swear that one of the pieces you got was wrong. You spend five or ten minutes flipping it around and paging through the manual, and then you eventually find out that you just misread the instructions and everything's okay.

Tonight, for the first time, I assembled a bookcase for which I actually did get an incorrect piece—the piece I got had the holes drilled on the wrong side. Luckily I'd purchased a drill in the last couple months, so I was able to fix the problem, but it was certainly frustrating. And now that sacred trust of assembly-required furniture has been breached. Now every time I assemble something, I'll no longer have that assurance that no, they didn't screw up, and I just need to figure out what's upside-down. This one little error will have permanently warped my mind to the detriment of all future furniture assemblies, perhaps for the rest of my life.