29 January 2009

Happy Birthday Mac!

Last Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the first Mac, ushered in by that famous Super Bowl commercial. I've only been a Mac user for the past year and a half (or a mere 6% of the lifetime of the Mac). But at risk of sounding like a total fanboy, I haven't enjoyed owning a computer this much since my Commodore 64. If you want to wallow in fandom like me, MacWorld has some bite-sized features covering the history of the Mac over at its website. Anyone else remember Shufflepuck Cafe?


22 January 2009

Dr. Evil and Aretha's hat

Am I a horrible person for being unable to resist the impulse to blog about Cheney leaving the inauguration in a wheelchair? There's just something too poetic about the image of him being wheeled away, clutching his cane, while the vigorous, youthful Obama's stood on the Capitol steps to see the Bushes off in their helicopter. I can't say I buy the story about hurting his back while moving boxes, either. Maybe moving boxes of documents to the shredder, but I doubt he was actually hauling around his dishes. Perhaps a more plausible scenario is that the demon that was possessing him for the last eight years has fled back to it's hell dimension, leaving his body weakened and bent. OK, that was definitely out of line....

But what else can I say about yesterday's historic inauguration that hasn't already been said? That hasn't already been said by the New York Times alone, which included a separate section in its print edition today titled "President Obama." I wonder if this will become a permanent part of the paper. "Hon, I'll trade you the Business section for the President Obama section if you're done with it." Still, reading those two words together without an intruding "-elect" in the middle brought a big smile to my face.

My other major highlight of the inauguration (other than the obvious) would have to be Aretha Franklin's hat. The Queen of Soul got style.

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20 January 2009

Yet another piece of advice for the incoming president

There has been a seemingly endless parade of advice for Barack Obama in the lead-up to his assumption of the presidency. The most recent bit I read was a detailed economic plan from Paul Krugman in Rolling Stone of all places. I heard the funniest (and probably grossest) bit of advice this afternoon on Day to Day. I particularly liked the bit about Johnny Depp, although I never knew he'd slept in the White House. On a related note, I'm going to savor the next half day while Obama's still Obama the idea and not yet Obama the actual president-who-has-to-do-stuff-that-I-won't-agree-with.

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14 January 2009

Crank fiends stole my medicine

As an allergy sufferer, I've been a long-time fan of Sudafed. It's one of the few things that actually helps alleviate my symptoms without incapacitating me. Now as you probably know, the main ingredient in Sudafed and its generic analogues is pseudoephedrine, which can be used as a precursor in the synthesis of methamphetamine. Because of this, pseudoephedrine-containing drugs have been slowly getting harder and harder to obtain. Nowadays (at least here in Vermont) you can only buy them from a pharmacist (although you don't need a prescription).

I came down with a cold this week, and since it was mostly hovering around my head, I decided I would try to combat it in part with Sudafed. We'd run out, so Anne graciously went to the store the other night to stock up on medicine. Unfortunately, our local supermarket doesn't have a pharmacy, and our local pharmacy keep bankers hours. The best she could find was something called Sudafed PE, which had some non-meth producing antihistamine. It didn't do a damn thing.

Because getting lots of sleep is really the best way to fight a cold, NyQuil is another drug in my cold-fighting arsenal, and luckily Anne had also picked up a fresh bottle of it. I've been hitting the Quil every night this week, and I'm already feeling better. Typically when I have a cold, it only lasts a few days. As long as some redneck chemist doesn't figure out how to convert NyQuil into a controlled substance in the bathtub of his trailer, I'm hoping it stays that way.

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06 January 2009

There's always next year...

I'm still coming to terms with the Vikings ignominious loss on Sunday. (I feel I use the words "ignominious" and Vikings in the same sentence far too often.) I won't bore you with my armchair general managing except to say that I was disappointed but not surprised by the outcome. Now that the NFL season is functionally over as far as I'm concerned, I guess I can turn my attention to the Premier League. I was happy to see today that my team, Fulham, has managed to stumble its way to the top half of the table. Skol Cottagers!

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04 January 2009

Local TV blackout

My Minnesota Vikings have one of their biggest games in a while this afternoon, with their first trip to the playoffs in four years. Unfortunately, the NFL blackout rules apply in our home for a very simple reason -- we don't have TV.

Anne and I have always persisted stubbornly without cable/satellite TV. This worked out relatively well in Oakland. We could get most of the major networks (although the time that NBC moved its transmitter right before the Olympics was pretty annoying) plus a handful of local channels that showed things like Cantonese news and Cheaters. We figured this was entertainment enough, so we never plunked down the extra money for cable.

Things changed when we moved to Vermont. We could no longer rely on getting a signal with our set-top rabbit ears. I've heard rumors of getting PBS in Poultney, but haven't had any luck myself. Nevertheless, we decided to save the money and go without TV. Now it's not like we're those people who condescendingly say "Well, we don't watch TV" because the truth is we watch a lot of TV. We just have to watch it all on DVD. Like a lot of our neighbors, we are now devoted Netflix subscribers. This works out pretty well because it's about half the price of cable, and we get to choose what we want to watch. Especially now that Watch Instantly is available for the Mac, it's almost like having live TV coming into our house. OK, not quite, but it's getting there.

But that still leaves us in the cold when it comes to live sports. I had to "watch" the Vikings finally clinch a playoff spot against the Giants with ESPN's ridiculous Gamecast, and had to put Matt and Cascade through the same to watch their beloved Beavers in the Sun Bowl last week. If you think football is slow and boring, try watching it this way. Unfortunately, the local pub is closed on Sunday and Monday (prime football watching days), so I have seen very little football since I moved here.

[A funny thing happened to us shortly after we moved here related to our lack of TV. I got a call from AC Nielsen asking us to track our TV watching. I told the woman that we didn't have TV reception, so our data wouldn't be too useful. She seemed a bit bemused, but said to go ahead and complete the survey anyway. Now I've always wanted to be a Nielsen family and help influence which shows stay on the air and which get cancelled. I'm convinced that if I'd been tracking my TV viewing a couple years ago, Arrested Development would still be on the air. (Not that it would do me any good without television.) My stepdad suggested I fill out the form in the spirit of OJ Simpson: this is what I would have watched had I watched TV. Instead, I just left all of the time slots blank and sent it back. Anne and I were paid $20 for our trouble, which seemed like a pretty fair compensation.]

There's a big TV antenna on top of our barn, and if I ever get the motivation, I might actually try to see if I can get it to work. We went ahead and got one of the government-subsidized digital converters for our analog TV, so we're poised to have television in our home again. In the meantime, Anne and I will make the trip up to Rutland and the nearest sports bar to watch this afternoon's game. Skol, Vikings!

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