plus de melange

Here are a few other things that I am thinking about:

I need to find a new primary care physician. My old one is now about 20 miles from where I currently live. I’ve been asking around, but no one seems to have anyone they really want to recommend. I want to get a physical this year, but I need to find a doctor to do it first.

The word “vajayjay” has also been popping up in conversation a lot around the Geek house of late. This is my fault. I took Mrs. Geek to an art gallery showing put on by on old high school acquaintance. Her work was some sort of commentary on the war in Iraq that featured a lot of female genitalia (mostly on women in Islamic head dress, naked from the waist down), soldiers with large, phallic rifles, rather phallic looking gas pump nozzles, and imagery involving penetration and fellatio. Seen though the lens of the Marxist-feminist critical theory absorbed through osmosis in my days at an incredibly PC grad school, the message is one of violation on so many metaphorical levels; the oh-so-casual entrance of male dominated power politics into the affairs of a sovereign nation (giving credence to ariadne518 blunt description of world history as “how historically little & big boys did or did not play nicely with each other across artificial boundaries they created out of convenience or boredom”), the entrance of chaos and violence into the domestic life of the Iraqi people, and the ideological crusade of bringing Western Democratic and Christian ideas to an tribally dominated part of the Islamic world. Mrs. Geek just saw a lot of vajayjays — perhaps too many for a teacher of children to be comfortable. She reminds me of this fact a bit more often than I would like.

I find myself ruminating on a telling statistic from a recent New York Times article that “if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius”. As reducing my general caloric intake has been much on my mind, I’m wondering… can changing my diet be good for the planet too?

melange a trois

Perhaps the third time will be a charm. I’ve tried to write this post to my diary twice now. The first time I abandoned it when I had to head home from work after writing only a few lines (ssh… don’t tell Company 0.). My browser crashed the second time, and several paragraphs were lost. I’m writing from home now… so I hope that I will succeed.

So… I haven’t updated in a couple weeks. Lethargy got me the first week. I’ve been sticking kind of close to home whenever I can of late… and not doing much around the house either. I feel like Mrs. Geek and I are just kind of coasting with respect to making any improvements to the house, cleaning the spare room, or doing anything about the garage. After all the excitement in our first two months here, it’s probably for the best.

After that, work got to both of us. Mrs. Geek got involved in the production of report cards. I got handed additional requirements for some software testing, without any time to complete them. In the end, Mrs. Geek got the worst of it; any delays I caused in the testing schedule did not prove to be a bottleneck. Mrs. Geek had a full week of almost interminable problems that had much more to do with human failures in process than technical issues.

Other than that, here’s a short list of things that have been happening:

I got a refurbished 80GB iPod Video from Apple with money given to me by my parents for my birthday and Christmas.

As my new iPod has video capabilities, I’ve copied the Genesis concert video I recorded over the summer onto it… and that’s been very pleasant.

I’ve been looking around for a new sliced sandwich bread to use for my lunch after America’s Test Kitchen gave the bread I formerly used a dismal rating. None of their winners seem to be available where I live. *sigh*

After a slow start following the holidays, I’ve been going to the gym fairly regularly and I am getting back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, this has involved tweaking my left shoulder… so I’ve had muscle pain after sitting in certain ways during the day. I’ve felt at times like my shoulder wants to separate.

The weather has been lousy. Most of the time, it’s been the kind of weather that evokes a need for a good movie, a comfy blanket, and a bowl of hearty soup or stew.

Moods for Mrs. Geek and myself have been equally gloomy at certain points… I don’t like it when we snarl at each other, but it has happened.

when your computer isn’t your computer anymore

My computer is evidently not my computer anymore… at least in the eyes of some of the software I own. The disk problems I reported a little over a week ago forced me to go out and get a new main hard drive. I did a little housecleaning inside the computer case in the process, changing the type (SCSI vs. SATA) and size of drive I use, and eliminating one whole hard drive entirely. This change has evidently made my computer sufficiently different that some of the software installed on my computer feels that my computer is no longer my computer.

I’ve run into this problem with four pieces of software so far: Windows XP, Norton Anti-Virus, iTunes, and the Roxio CinePlayer DVD plugin for Windows Media Player. Each of these pieces of software has requested that I re-enter some kind of license key or somehow re-authorize the computer when the software starts.

Three out of four pieces of software were disposed of with reasonable ease.Windows XP just wanted to reconnect with the Microsoft mothership. The Anti-Virus problem was solved with a 20 minute call to Symantec Support, where my activation number was re-validated. Apple iTunes was very gracious about the whole thing, merely requesting that I hit a button to communicate with the Apple servers.

The Roxio plugin has been a pain in the tuchis. Roxio doesn’t have much in the way of technical support from what I could see… and what phone support they do have charges by the minute. I bought this plugin about two years ago, and any authorization and transaction codes I had with their web site have gone stale. In the end, I decided to forgo haggling with Roxio support and simply buy the plugin all over again — it’s only about $20. Still, I have to ask “why?” You buy a Mac with OS X, you get the ability to watch DVDs — no plugins required.

I was telling this tale of woe to Obvious Zombie earlier tonight and he said summed it up very effectively:

That’s really just wrong. That’s like saying your couch stops working because you move it into another room.

Amen to that.

pollsters know nothing

It’s been an interesting week to watch the pollsters and Big Media collectively scratch their heads and say “What the heck happened in Iowa and New Hampshire?”. First Barak Obama and Mike Huckabee win decisively in Iowa when close races were predicted. Next Hillary Clinton clobbers Obama in New Hampshire when the “Obama election train” was supposed to be pulling out of the station, Washington bound.

Taken with the results of the ’04 Presidential election, I’m more convinced than ever that pollsters really don’t know a damn thing, once the general public really get interested in election. We’ve had 50 years of shrinking interest in elections on the part of the general public… and this has just made the process of determining “likely voters” by the pollsters a much easier process. All they need to ask is “Given apathy, who is going to drag themselves down to the polls and vote?” Since voter participation has been dropping over the last several decades, the bar of apathy has been set a little higher each time, making the results predictable. But we live in more rarefied times, and people who the pollsters would otherwise ignore are turning up at the polls and voting… flushing all the pollster’s statistical models right down the toilet.

The most disgusting thing that I’ve seen this week is the real desire the media has to play king (or queen) maker. It’s an inclination that is born out of two needs. The first is ratings. Honest curiosity about what might be on the minds of the electorate does not really attract viewers. Outrageous opinion does — at least for a significant portion of the public that agrees with those opinions and is seeking validation. The second is that I think that Big Media wants to curry favor. Rather than being the observer at Court, Big Media has become the courtier. The White House and Campaign press pools have favorites, and they want to flatter those favorites to get “the big scoop” when something important happens… as if the last eight years haven’t shown how easily the media can be manipulated for base political ends.

Glen Greenwald over at Salon.com helpfully provided the following excerpt of a discussion between Chris Matthews and Tom Brokaw, where Mr. Brokaw takes his former to task for their behavior:

MATTHEWS: Tom, we’re going to have to go back and figure out the methodology, I think, on some of these [polls].

BROKAW: You know what I think we’re going to have to do?

MATTHEWS: Yes sir?

BROKAW: Wait for the voters to make their judgment.

MATTHEWS: Well what do we do then in the days before the ballot? We must stay home, I guess.

BROKAW: No, no we don’t stay home. There are reasons to analyze what they’re saying. We know from how the people voted today, what moved them to vote. You can take a look at that. There are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

But we don’t have to get in the business of making judgments before the polls have closed. And trying to stampede in effect the process.

Look, I’m not just picking on us, it’s part of the culture in which we live these days. I think that the people out there are going to begin to make judgments about us if we don’t begin to temper that temptation to constantly try to get ahead of what the voters are deciding.

a pleasant surprise

Well, I suppose it is obvious to suggest that if you eat less food for a week, you’ll lose a few pounds. Still, it was very nice to step on the scale this morning at the gym and discover that I’ve lost about 26 pounds since August 1. It will be interesting to see whether or not I can keep these pounds off… but until then, I’m going to celebrate holiday weight loss, not holiday weight gain.

the return of appetite

My appetite for food finally came back today, after almost ten days since that episode with the green fairy. The feeling is bittersweet. I felt so much more detached or untethered in some sort of philosophical sense when I didn’t need to each much during the day; I was more intellect and less belly. I suppose that some part of me was also hoping that I was losing some weight… though that weight was more likely muscle than fat.

It’s been a quiet weekend here at the Geek household. The weather has not been much disposed toward venturing outside the house. So, I went out and bought a 250GB hard drive to serve as a backup for my personal computer. This effort was made not a moment too soon, as it turned out. I discovered a bad sector on my main Windows XP system disk partition. After employing some rather dark Microsoft juju (the Windows XP recovery console), I was able to get everything backed up… though I am concerned about what might have been in that bad sector. Some additional re-organization was also required to make back operations easier in future, so I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in front of my computer finishing George Crile’s Charlie Wilson’s War— a thoroughly absorbing read, btw.

three hours of sleep

It was a long trip back from the Land Of My Birth, but we are home. The schedule played out something like this (in hours and minutes):

  • 0:00 – Leave my parents house for airport in nearby city for flight leaving at +3:00. It is mid-afternoon.
  • +1:30 – Arrive at airport to discover that flight is delayed until +4:00. Attempt to check in. Discover that Mrs. Geek’s business class upgrade is not entered correctly in the computer, and cannot be completely resolved for the last leg of the flight.
  • +3:00 – Flight is now supposed to leave at +3:30. Get on plane and sit on plane and sit on plane.
  • +4:00 – Flight takes off.
  • +5:45 – Arrive at major hub city. Taxi all the way around the airport because arriving gate assignment has changed. Wait in plane for jetway driver to arrive from original gate assignment.
  • +6:00 – Get off plane at hub airport. Discover that connecting flight that was supposed to be leaving at +7:00 is now leaving at +8:30.
  • +7:15 – Finally get to talk to the gate agent for connecting flight regarding Mrs. Geek’s ticket. Upgrade issues settled. Yay! Watch jet way be pushed forward and pulled back three times for departing flight (not ours, thank God!) as additional passengers arrive before plane can push off from the gate.
  • +8:15 – Board plane to final destination and wait.
  • +8:45 – Still waiting, because of baggage loading.
  • +9:40 – Plane finally taxis to the runway and takes off. Mrs. Geek and I are unable to sleep on the flight. Passenger in front of me has periodic coughing fits that sound like he’s coughing up a lung. Hope it’s not that guy with resistant tuberculosis.
  • +13:50 – Finally arrive at destination. Got to baggage claim where passengers from three other flights (including one diverted from a nearby airport who are rather irate) are milling around.
  • +14:25 – Claim baggage. Go to long term parking shuttle stop.
  • +14:40 – Shuttle arrives.
  • +15:00 – We get in our car and leave.
  • +15:20 – We arrive home. House is safe and sound.
  • +15:50 – We go to bed.
  • +19:00 – Our alarm goes off because Mrs. Geek has yard monitor duty before school starts.

That’s three hours of sleep, people. We were hurting units yesterday. Mrs. Geek went to work. As I also have a cold, I elected to work from home.