Friday, December 28, 2007

To infinity and beyond

We just got back from the vet's office where we learned that our beloved dog, Lucky, has an infection in his foot.

And not just any sort of infection, but a yeast infection. Hilarity ensued on the car ride home. Most of it in the form of vulgar jokes at our poor mutt's expense.

When we got back, we began dutifully giving the dog treat with his new collar on to get him used to this new, exciting and completely positive experience. I'm not sure if he understands humiliation, but if The Girl laughing at him doesn't turn him against us, nothing will.

As I type this, we've already seen one glass of water and other clutter fall victim to his new circle of destruction.

As an added plus, we've taken a dog that is noise sensitive and one hell of a barker and simultaneously given him a radar dish and a megaphone. Our neighbors are being given state-subsidized grants to get hotel rooms for the duration of this treatment.

That is some impressive engineering, probably from someone who owns a cat.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

5... 4... 3...

For those unfortunate souls stuck watching the clock at work Monday, I offer you this - the Year in Pictures, courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.

I love the fact that the staff writers there take the AP captions and use them as a loose guide. Basically, they'll use the names, dates and places, but the rest can be pretty irreverent and entertaining.

I'll point you in the direction of April for pictures of a weightless Stephen Hawking. I'm not creative enough to make that up.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Just in time for the holidays

My sister, her husband and I think this is unendingly funny.

My wife? Not so much. I'm not saying she's a communist, but this definitely indicates she has communist-like tendencies.

(This is moderately work safe. Foul language, so turn your speakers down unless your boss is cool.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's wrong, but worth debating

It's too perfect not to post this.

With Danny's birthday at Chuck E. Cheese and Kristin's new baby being born earlier this week, I give you this - how many 5-year-olds could you beat in a fight.

I can take 24-to-26, but I suspect those numbers are low. Let's just see what happens if someone cuts in line for the ball pit tonight.

Try me, you little jerks.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shake your ass

I've watched this over and over again and still can't explain why it's continuing to crack me up.

There's actually a "rule" in video game design that says you can't make a human in a game look "too" real because the person playing the game will reject it. Basically, designers can make incredibly detailed and technically realistic human beings, but there is a point of diminishing returns that takes over and ruins the gaming experience.

I think this might be the opposite of that.


As much as I love city life and really have no use for nature on a daily basis, I can't help but be fascinated by theories on what would happen if human beings were no longer around to cause problems.

There was a link off the Chicago Tribune's site today referencing a book by Alan Weisman that expands on those ideas and short snippets of how our homes and a city's infrastructure would collapse if humans were suddenly removed from the planet.

I'm sure it's a late tie-in to I Am Legend (down to the picture on the page), but it's still interesting.

It's almost enough to make me really pull for Tyler Durden's proposed revolution just to see what happens:

In the world I see - you are stalking elk through the damp canyon forests around the ruins of Rockefeller Center. You'll wear leather clothes that will last you the rest of your life. You'll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower. And when you look down, you'll see tiny figures pounding corn, laying strips of venison on the empty car pool lane of some abandoned superhighway.

(Image from the excellently named

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

That's a valid point

Thanks to Kissing Suzy Kolber for putting it all in perspective.

It makes so much more sense now.

Monday, December 03, 2007

So, what's next?

One of the benefits of high-def television is a more varied lineup that includes not only the usual lineup on the standard channels, but extra content that is specific as an HD offering. In my case, this translates directly into highly defined nerdery as I spend time with PBS and Discovery during the afternoon.

Today there was a special on the Wright Brothers and their flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 which followed the project to recreate the flyer and get it back up in the air in North Carolina. Aside from the usual historical dog and pony show, the point that came home was the brothers' determination and real can-do attitude.

Americans eat that stuff up.

I hadn't realized that their experiments were part of a larger race to get into the air, much like the space race in the 60's. Instead of superpowers squaring off, the Wright brothers were up against a government-funded program - led by Smithsonian Institution Secretary Samuel Langley, a name that should ring bells for those in Northern Virginia - that never really got it right.

The short version is that while the Wrights spent time with full scale gliders, wind tunnels and working out the problems that would eventually be solved by their aileron systems, the Langley groups built models and tried to upscale them to full-sized flyers.

That course of action didn't work out too well. Well, that, and the fact that the brothers used $4 worth of steel to serve as the track to launch their machine, while Langley opted for an oversized catapult that ran into the tens of thousands of dollars and failed miserably.

Even after successful flights in Kitty Hawk most people across the United States still saw them as foolish up until they'd secured a government contract with the Army by keeping a plane in the air for an hour.

In a just a few years, they'd gone from four flights in North Carolina - of 120, 175, 200 and finally 852 feet - to keeping aloft for well over an hour with the pressure of performing for the military. In just over 100 years, look at how far the airplane has come.

That brings us to the second point that was focused on at the tail end of the show - the first being, "Never trust the government to get things done quickly, practically or cheaply" - which was that the flight and ensuing explosion of aeronautical advances took the population from a standpoint of, "If God wished us to fly, he'd have given us wings," to, "If we can do that, what can't we do?"

That's the most striking thing that I took from the Wrights' story - what is left in today's world that would elicit that type of response? What's left to spur the imagination and pull in that type of response from everyone?

A mission to Mars or beyond is an extension of previous space travel.

A cure for AIDS or cancer would have a life-changing impact on those who are stricken with those diseases, but are again an extension of existing medical advances and take a living human and keep them alive, which isn't very heavy on the wow factor.

Humans have found ways to tame the wilderness, forge societies that guarantee that there is very little that we would want for and found ways to conquer the land, sea and finally, air. What's left in the logical progression?

That depresses me a bit.

With the strides humanity has made so far, there's not much that comes to mind that is left as a big ticket dream of humanity to accomplish. We can fly into outer space faster or further, but it doesn't have the same awe-inspiring aspects as the first space missions.

The remaining big-ticket societal hurdles -which would certainly be a virtual bounty for humanity around the globe - are extensions of the tracks we're on or simply cleaning up the messes we've made for ourselves.

We can cure all disease, but that'd be seen as curing the rest of the diseases we hadn't gotten to yet.

We can feed the world and sort out global warfare, but those are mopping up problems mankind created for themselves. Not that I'm against tackling any of those issues - you'd have to be a pretty defective human being to turn your back on eradication of disease, world warfare or anything else in that category - it's just that to make today's world stop and take notice, there would have to be a greater deal of sizzle.

On top of that, take the things we've decided are impossible - like bringing the dead back to life - and those wouldn't be seen so much as a global triumph as a crime against God and nature.

So, is this a matter of a population that asks for more and more or are we simply more self-centered? While we can certainly amaze ourselves and our small circle of family and friends - as in, "I ran a marathon, isn't that amazing?" or "I managed to graduate from college despite coming from a poor background, isn't that amazing?" - what's left to amaze everyone?

When did individual triumphs supersede global ones?

So where does that leave us at the end of this ramble? No worse off than at the beginning and with no more answers. But really, what's next?

What will make us all stop in our tracks, look around and say to each other, "We did that... what can't we do?"

(Image from /