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October 9th, 2009

07:19 pm - Invaders at the gates: a real-life Choose Your Own Adventure
You are home sick for the fifth day in a row. You are feeling better today, though your partner is still in the weeds with it--doubled over coughing up a hedgehog every five minutes, whining plaintively in a manner that can best be described as "reasonable." The doctor said it was the flu, and to come back if symptoms persist after seven days. But you see the light at the end of the tunnel, so you think it's probably okay.

On Facebook, a friend posts to say that she's a confirmed case of H1N1. The Piggy Sick. (ew.) You saw her a day and a half before your symptoms descended. So it seems you might have had swine flu.

"That wasn't so bad," you tell yourself. "I don't know what all those people in semi-industrialized countries with minimal health care are so worried about." You look back on the past week and think of it as bracing. Like an invigorating walk in the brisk fall weather. (This is made easier by the fact that you can't remember the second half of Wednesday.) A certain fondness begins to tinge the memories: carefully washing your hands for 20 seconds every time (the length of time it takes to sing the alphabet in your head--YOU CANNOT UN-KNOW THIS NOW), the thrilling abandon of writing emails to customers in a semi-delirious state, the idyllic peace of spending an hour on the toilet flipping through the New Yorker.

There is a knock at the door.

-If you would like to ignore the knock, stop reading now and write your own damned story.

-If you would like to answer the door, keep reading.

A knock on the door is odd, because this is a secured building. (Would that have changed your answer? You can still pick the first.) Normally it would be the bowel-loosening shriek of a buzzer accompanied by scrabbling claws on hardwood as your cats flee to safety. Instead it's a knock. Who would walk right in rather than buzzing up?

You peer through the fish-eye hole and see the silhouettes of two sinister figures. Nothing unusual there, so you open the door.

Their hair is carefully gelled and parted from the left. They are young and fresh-faced, both boys, both wearing ties and v-neck sweaters. Both wearing nametags proclaiming their affiliation with a major world-wide religious organization based in Utah. They smile nervously.

"Good afternoon," one of them says.

You smile. You have a choice.

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September 25th, 2009

01:08 pm - So last night I missed my flight back home from New Jersey
7:30pm: John books a new flight at 6:15am the following morning.
8:00pm: John buys supplies for the long, cold night ahead—two more Terry Pratchett books, a sandwich, a cup of coffee bigger than his head, and a pack of cigarettes.
9:30pm: Shops and food stands close. An eerie silence descends on the Newark airport.
11:00pm: A lone janitor mops the same spot on the floor for a full hour, humming a mournful dirge and staring into the middle distance.
2:00am: John is seated on a bench, typing up his notes from the meeting. Peripherally, he sees a figure approaching him across the terminal. He begins to sweat. When he can bear it no longer, he looks up at the woman who is standing there, staring at him. She hands him a slip of paper and leaves without a word.
2:02am: The “without a word” part makes sense, as the slip of paper reads, “I have created this pamphlet to raise awareness about deafness and to support my family. If you would like to keep it, please give a donation in whatever amount you would like.” The rest of the pamphlet gives common words in sign language.
2:07am: The woman returns. Since he has no currency, John hands her back the pamphlet and tries to motion “I have no cash, as I gave the last of it to a cab driver to get here,” which is a sentence that was curiously absent from the pamphlet. She nods once and leaves.
3:15am: The lights in the terminal begin flickering sporadically. In the resultant strobe, sinister shadows creep across the checkered floors.
3:30am: As the flickering continues and the shadows multiply, John decides to check in and go through security.
3:45am: The security crew is singing a New Jersey themed hip hop song together. (It was actually the most welcoming security check I’ve ever been through.)
6:15am: The plane takes off on time, with John safely aboard. He immediately falls asleep, and dreams of a sprawling garden state, populated only by books and binary encoding formats.
1:00pm: John is clearly being very productive at the office. It’s a good thing he came in.

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June 22nd, 2009

04:25 pm - Travel dreams are better dreams (nsfw??)
There's been a major shakeup at our organization and I'm pleased to find that one part of it is that we've promoted an old friend of mine from college. He was apparently a valet in the garage, and now is a product manager.

It didn't go as I'd hoped. The first presentation he delivered was a presentation of the results of an internal usability study in which he rated the usability of different iterations of one of our product lines based on the degree of erection they gave him. Naturally, he didn't describe it in such uncouth terms. Rather he said, "My jibbly-jabblies were doing a little wibbly-wabbly" when the product was more... usable? I had reservations about his methodology. It was awkward for everyone and eventually someone else took over the presentation and he sat down, not seeming to have noticed it didn't go well.

In Jerusalem, it is 12:34. I can't tell if I'm awake for the night now.

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May 17th, 2009

08:02 am - More INSIGHT
Half asleep Laura: Do you think squirrels can be evil?
John: No. I don't think so. [upon reflection] Well, yes. But just naturally. Not any more so than all squirrels.
Half asleep Laura: What I'm concerned about is Terminator-like robots wearing a squirrel's skin.

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April 20th, 2009

08:01 am - On zoological preservation dreams
Things I just learned from a half-asleep Laura about endangered species:
  1. You have to be nice to them, because they're endangered.
  2. If you see an endangered animal, you have to give it a birthday present. Even if it's not the animal's birthday.
  3. This is true for mean animals as well.
  4. If the animal's, like, an endangered crocodile or something, you have to give it a goat. You give it a goat and walk away quickly while it eats it.
  5. Because nobody wants to see that.
  6. If the crocodile or other mean animal says, "RAWR!" that means, "Thanks for helping out!"
  7. It could also mean, "Come back and help further!"
  8. Do not return. It is a trick.

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March 27th, 2009

12:18 pm - I want a brain guitar
Last night, Laura was in bed before me and mostly asleep. Getting into bed, I stole some of her blankets and she rolled over and muttered unhappily. Then followed:
Me: Ha! You can't have covers for warmth!
Laura: I don't need warmth. All I need is my brain. And my guitar!
Me: Guitar?
Laura: Brain guitar. Doot doot do do doot, doot doot do do doot.
Then she made little explosion sounds for a few minutes before falling silent.

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March 24th, 2009

06:08 am - (From nowhere, a really lame LJ renaissance. Two posts!)
From today's National Weather Service forecast :
Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm before 1pm, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm.
Thank god. 1pm is safe.

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March 23rd, 2009

09:48 pm - This just in: people hate taxes
From a NYT article on a different topic:
The poll found that three-fourths of those surveyed said the government should try to recover the bonus money paid by A.I.G. But the support for recovering the bonus money drops when the method of recovery is taxation.
So, to summarize:
  • People want the government to step in and take money from individuals that was paid to them by their employer
  • The same people are opposed to... taxation?
What, are they afraid these people will get too much representation?

To be fair, the article didn't specify how much support dropped....

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January 25th, 2009

10:37 am - Help finding a new phone?
So I've become fed up with my awful phone. I thought I could make it through the 2-year contract with T-Mobile (with whom I'm satisfied as a carrier) and get rid of my piece-of-crap Nokia Music XPress, but I don't think I can make it another 8 months. It's a bad music player, has horrible battery life, poor call quality, bad ergonomics... basically, the only thing I can say about it is that the Nokia software is good.

I prefer flip phones and don't really like the form factor of slide phones. I've grown attached to the Nokia software and don't know that I could go back to Motorola's interface. I don't have a data plan, and just want something with good battery life, good reception, and strong call quality. There's other silly stuff like a preference for quad-band, but I can figure out those details if I can find a couple handsets that don't suck.

Anyone on T-Mobile who likes their phone?

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January 19th, 2009

06:37 pm - It seems so obvious
Having finally given in and watched the first couple of episodes of Lost, Laura and I have been discussing how it will end. Now, we've not watched a lot, so there are a number of directions it could take. As such, I've compiled exactly eight options. As we watch more, I expect the list to narrow through a series of broad hints until only one of the following is clearly correct.


This list will necessarily contain a series-ending spoiler as this is the definitive list of possible conclusions.
  • The "all of the characters are actually dead!" ending. A real shocker, this, because they're not actually dead from the plane crash--they died after eating bad pork (probably from a wild boar). This occurred midway through the in-flight movie, which was The Santa Clause 3.

  • The meta ending. Everything we see is actually happening on the set of a movie. The series will turn into dark sendup of Hollywood culture. Principle photography finishes in season 5, but they will have hundreds of hours more footage than they can use. All of season six will take place in the cutting room with the whole cast watching clips from the preceding seasons.

  • The "Red Asphalt" ending. The whole series is actually a scared-straight flier's ed video for proper airline safety procedures.

  • The "stage show" ending. This is all playing on a screen during an epic DriveShaft concert. It turns out that, contrary to the footage we've seen, DriveShaft is actually a jam band like Phish. The series finale is an hour-long bass solo by Charlie.

  • The Good Dog ending. This is an elaborate training exercise for Vincent to be a search and rescue dog. (We will know this is the correct one when he gets his cask of brandy in season 5.)

  • The happy ending. Boone dies and is eaten by Vincent. (This and the Good Dog ending are not mutually exclusive.)

  • The J.J. Abrams ending. The series will not actually end with season 6, as its ratings have picked up. Instead, it will get crappy again and eventually be canceled. Surprisingly, the final episode will wrap up every mystery and be poignant and beautiful and could change the lives of every man, woman, and child on the planet, could end wars and poverty and lead to lowered carbon footprint in the US and China. But by then, noone will be watching. It will be the "all of the characters are actually dead!" ending.

  • The "woke and it was all a dream" ending. Everything we've seen has been the feverish dream of a terrifying, invisible monster. This monster wakes slowly and slouches to his business of destroying the flora. He is haunted by the vision of people, of not being alone on his island, of not-boars capable of speech and laughter who, with time, may learn not to run, indeed may come to understand how beautiful he would be--radiant and majestic as a song--if anything in the world could see him.

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