Sunday, November 27, 2011

How dragon boating changed my mind

Recently I happened upon an episode of a show on the Cooking Channel called Easy Chinese: San Francisco. The host was preparing seafood down on the pier, but in the segment I saw a woman was standing next to her wearing a jersey with the words "Diesel Fish" on it.
I didn't recognize the woman, but I recognized the jersey. Diesel Fish is a Bay Area-based dragon boat racing team. I didn't need the host's introduction (I was able to rewind the show to see the segment from the beginning) to tell me that; I knew it from the years I was on a dragon boat team here in Southern California, and we'd see Diesel Fish at tournaments (both when they'd come south and when we'd head north)

The sport of dragon boat racing is much bigger around San Francisco, and being of Chinese origin it's not surprising that it would be included in such a show. Also, I can say from my years of experience that dragon boaters enjoyed eating almost as much as racing (or perhaps at times even more), so selecting the team as ones who would appreciate the food was also apropos.

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Black Friday"

People may think "Black Friday" is named for how the sales put the stores' ledgers "in the black," but really it's named for the darkness that emerges from sleep-deprived shoppers in the wee hours of the morning (or perhaps even late hours of the evening on Thanksgiving itself), when violence seems perfectly justifiable against one's fellow shoppers as long as it's in the pursuit of bargains.

One can only hope this proves a ritual catharsis of sorts that gets it out of their system to allow for an actual period of peace on earth during the remainder of the holiday season.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A moment of sincere gratitude

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in America today, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge all of you who visit this little corner of the internet. Whether you're a regular visitor or whether you've merely come across my post about a big corn dog in a search, I really appreciate the time you've spent here.

For that I am truly thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving (or just happy Thursday to the rest of the world).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Commenting about commenting about TV

There's no shortage of people writing about and commenting on various television shows on the various media available these days*, and even limited only to the areas of "new media" (internet, podcasts, social media) there's many people who devote much more time and energy to the shows they review and/or follow than I spend thinking that critically about the shows I watch.

That admitted, let's also acknowledge that the beauty of this era is that anyone who has even the slightest inclination can get his/her thoughts out there without needing to put all of that effort into a massive production… like, say, a TV show on any network.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Speaking out on... and to... the Occupy movement

Thursday morning my wife saw the news covering how the protesters were organizing right out in front of the building and immediately got so concerned that she asked if I could just work from home until the protest was over. I reminded her that I have a dentist appointment (right across the street from the office). I then blurted out (without having seen the TV yet) that if the protests are now so actively dangerous that I cannot even go to work in the general vicinity of one that they're no longer a movement and merely a [expletive deleted] mob.

And that's from someone who was more or less empathetic to their cause.

Of course, when I actually walked over and looked at the TV there were less than 100 people, which paled in comparison to the actual march I witnessed at lunch a few weeks back. That was no cause for concern in my mind. Obviously when you get a large group of people together there's the potential for the situation to get out of hand, but these protests still seemed far safer than, say, it would have been at opening day at Dodger Stadium.

(Too soon?)

As the protests tout that they want everyone's voice to be heard, and so here's what I was thinking as I rode the train in to work:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

GOP gaffes: What the Perry and Cain moments taught us

Let's touch briefly on the "gaffes" by Rick Perry during the Republican debate last week and by Herman Cain two days ago during an interview.

That was no fodder for obvious mockery, nor for everyone had a good laugh about it. Let's acknowledge the reality of the situation: Everyone who was on the Perry bandwagon or the Cain bandwagon must be dissuaded by the lapse of memory or long pause; everyone who has dismissed Perry or Cain because of the incidents previously really considered them viable.

By no means was the only effect on the race to be the GOP nominee it might have had was allowing those who didn't consciously realize they didn't think Perry or Cain was the one to grasp that was how they actually thought.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Common Sense and the Medias

On a recent Common Sense podcast ("Second-Guessing the Navigator"), Dan Carlin, somewhat in response to a piece by David Brooks in the New York Times about "red [state] inequality" (and the tacit goal of addressing societal problems), discussed how part of the problem we face is that those who are donating to the politicians and implicitly setting the agenda do not have an interest in, for example, improving education in America (especially when it allows for the excuse of outsourcing jobs under the guise that Americans are not educated enough). If the government is to solve these problems (and if not the government, then who?), who is setting the agenda to get the solved?

This is not going where you think it is, but before we get there, briefly I will note some other things he discussed in his monologue:

Friday, November 11, 2011

1/1/01, 2/2/02... 11/11/11: The eleventh day is the eleventh hour...

As far as I'm concerned today was Veterans Day. It was payday. It was Friday (although I'll have to work from home over the weekend so it isn't really the end of the work week, but that's neither here nor there). However, by the (arbitrary) means by which we identify our years, it was also the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th-numbered year in this century (but if you started the century—and millennium—on January 1, 2000, it's the twelfth year, but let's not digress about that), and by the way we truncate the first two digits off of years when thinking about dates, that made it "11/11/11" as well.

And there was no shortage of people who placed some level of importance on that. It may have been nothing more than noticing the symmetry of all the 11's and it may have been of great numerological significance, but one thing is certain: There was no avoiding hearing someone mention it. (I heard it on the morning news, and then noticed it trending on Twitter, and that was all before I even got in the shower.)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Rock-y time

On a recent WTF podcast Marc Maron interviewed Chris Rock, and as expected it was a good interview which I certainly recommend if you like Chris Rock even slightly.

Toward the end they touched on Rock having dinner with Woody Allen, and Rock alluded to how Allen was big on the president, which led Maron to ask Rock his opinion of Obama.

(Stick with me.)

Rock said he was fine with the president; like everybody he wished for more action, but he noted how all presidents' first terms are essentially four years of running for a second term, at which point they can actually do something. He referenced how even with George W. Bush it wasn't until the second term that he could "really fuck up the world," so perhaps in a second term Obama could really "do some gangsta shit" (euphemism for actually accomplish something, I presumed).

(Egad, I'm not presenting this part of the interview well. Please keep reading anyway.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Two spaces after a period. Period.

While trying to find something unrelated I came across a piece from back in January composed by the Slate technology editor wherein he decried the use of two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence as "wrong!" He blathers on about how it bothers him when people think it proper and eventually gets around to some modicum of a supporting argument when he references how typographers apparently decided long ago to go with a single space, and mentions how much the use of two spaces appears to bother them. He mentions how with typewriters in the 20th century and their monospace typefaces the use of two spaces came into practice, but contends that when they changed to have typefaces that accommodated variable width characters it should have stopped.

He closes with an attempt at declaring the aesthetics of a single space as proving its worth; it's all arbitrary, he concedes, but we should go with the standards the professionals agree upon.

At no point does he make an effort to understand why those who prefer two spaces do so; in his mind it is a clear case of stupidity, and he arrogantly dismisses that there could be any justification for it in his tone throughout.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Waking up from Standard Time

Everyone touts the "extra hour of sleep" we get from resuming Standard Time in the autumn (after months of Daylight Savings Time) but that's only of benefit to those whose sleep patterns comply with waking up at the moment the clock strikes a particular moment. If one has regular sleeping patterns, it merely means that when one is accustomed to waking up one finds the clock reading an hour earlier than one was expecting it would be. It also means that the Sunday night after the "fall back" one gets tired at an hour earlier than one is expecting to want to go to bed.

Thus, that's not really of general benefit.

Say what you will about whether Daylight Savings Time is a good idea or not, but the thing that the practice offers those of us who live in areas where it is observed do get this first workday after the switch to Standard Time. The hour seems later to our circadian rhythm than the clock says it is, and at least for me, it proves so easy for me to get out of bed—not merely on time but (dare I say) early.

Frankly, from the sense of being ahead of the game on this one morning a year I find myself thinking, This is so great that we should "fall back" every weekend. Imagine how easy getting up Mondays would be if only we threw off our body clocks this way all the time.

Sunday, November 06, 2011


Over on the photo site, you can see how this cilantro...

...turns into flowers like this:

Click here to see it.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

We need teepee for our TV-hole

Beavis and Butthead returned to MTV last week, and my wife recorded it. I had heard about it, of course, and I had no disinterest in seeing it, but seeing it on the DVR queue was something of of surprise; being MTV I figured it would be something I'd simply come across while flipping through the guide (the digital era equivalent of flipping through channels just to see what's on), which is pretty much how I saw the first incarnation of the show back in the mid-'90s. It wasn't something I sought; it was something I encountered.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Intercourse the Penguin! (the annual Halloween costume recap)

Saturday night we attended the same Halloween party we have for years. The hosts select a theme (which in past years have been Alfred Hitchcock and a 1920's speakeasy), and this year's was... Monty Python's Flying Circus. So when my wife and I saw that on the invitation, we put some effort into crafting appropriate costumes.

And for reasons that I cannot explain, the first sketch that came to mind as inspiration for mine was the one with the one with the exploding penguin on the top of the TV, where Graham and John (as pepper pots) listen to the radio drama "The Death of Mary, Queen of Scots." (Thanks to YouTube it's easy enough to find.)

Would I dress in drag and be one of the ladies? No. Would I be the penguin? Not exactly. I'd be… well, let me back up.