July 28, 2004

Nuttier than a vegan fruitcake

The video that can be found in the first post on this page is a prime, golden, and in-living-color example of why the rest of the country thinks that California is filled with complete nutcases.   (My favorite part is how they keep rolling right over the ball!)

That being said -- which, in case you haven't noticed, has become the single most overused phrase in reality television -- however, I came away from viewing it with an intense desire to give one of those babies a whirl. 

Contrary to what you might think, Silicon Valley is not actually teeming with people scooting about on Segways.  Seeing one tooling along in the bike lane is still unusual enough to almost cause car accidents.  That might not be the case if every other BMW, Mercedes, Hummer (those are a lot more common here than Segways -- I see one every day now) and Lexus driver on the road wasn't too cheap or too lazy to use the hands-free earpiece for their teensy-tiny little phones that they insist on having pressed up against their heads every moment they're in the car...and at the gas pumps...and in the grocery store...and in line for you-name-it...but I digress.

One thing we do have here, apparently, is a plethora of smart dogs.  (A link that I hope that will give the not-cat-fans some satsifaction and get them off my case for a short while!  Registration may be required, or a visit to BugMeNot.)

July 27, 2004

Norman's Cat Corner - The Final Edition

Squeaky Posted by Hello

Alas, this will be the last edition of this feature here at OPO. The current sponsor has made it known that he does not believe it sufficiently satisfies the target audience (i.e., him) and has withdrawn his already tenuous support.

So while we search for a new sponsor (any interested applicants may e-mail me via the link to the right or contact me in the comments -- the George Forman Kitty Fryer division, its employee(s), assigns or agents are not welcome, however), please say hi again to Squeaky, in this early picture of her as a kitten.

Squeaks is an indoor/outdoor cat and there's almost nothing she likes more than getting up on a handy perch outside and looking down on the world -- as cats are wont to do -- while waiting for a bird to come along that she can stalk.  The only thing she surely enjoys even better is sticking her head through the metal slats of her mom's mini-blinds and irreparably bending them to suit her indoor bird-watching needs.

If that face doesn't make you want to run right out and get yourself a cat, I think there might be something wrong with you.  (Or, giving one the benefit of the doubt, you're allergic.)

On an entirely different note, there is a very good reason why both this particular post is so late and why posting in general has been pretty spotty lately.  This was all explained in the post from Friday that got vamoosed by Blogger, and I really was too tired to even try to get to it again before now.

I am going to be moving next month and I'm very involved in preparing the house that will be our new home.  It's a long and somewhat complicated story but I'm really happy about it.  There has been so much to do and it has taken so much time and energy, but it's also a lot of fun.   In the midst of painting my third ceiling, I found myself wishing that was the kind of thing I did for a living instead of sitting in a cube in front of a computer all day.  However, the end of the day usually finds me and everyone else in the house completely used up like a crumpled paper towel.  When I woke up on Saturday, everything ached except maybe my teeth...and there were still two days of painting to go! 

We got it all done before the guys arrived to start on the flooring, so we're that much closer to having it ready, and that's a pretty satisfying feeling. But it hasn't left a lot of time for much else, including blogging and answering e-mail.  Unfortunately, even though the house is close to done, my Internet access outside of work is going to be limited until the middle of next month.  DSL is truly a wonderful thing, but getting it installed and up & running isn't; it's going to take two weeks to transfer it to our new address, which will make blogging somewhat tough during that time.  And because as I was reminded again today, I can't post pictures from work (I think our firewall prevents me from using Hello properly), there won't be much of that to look forward to! 

I will try to post as much as on my usual schedule as possible, but things are still going to be spotty, and I hope that some of you will still stop by from time to time. :-)

July 23, 2004

Damn. It. All.

Okay, that's it.  I'm tired again tonight and I just lost yet another entire post that was almost done.  Not a nice way to end an already long day.  So I cry "Uncle!" and I'm packing it in for now. 

If there's no post tomorrow -- or, rather, later today at this point -- you can assume that I'm either dead tired or yet another post went awry and I'm just not up to giving it another go. 

Hopefully, next week things will settle down and be a little bit back to normal!

July 21, 2004

Too Tired

Last night I was three-quarters of the way through a post about how I was too damned tired of pseudo-political debate to blog about political things for the time being, when Blogger threw some sort of hissy fit and lost a chunk of what I'd written while I was trying to save it.  It kept acting up and lost that part again, so I gave up.

Tonight I am too damned tired to try to recreate what was lost and pick up the thread of the salient point I was trying to make before getting to the link the whole thing was really about.  So here is the link -- it's a quiz (a real quiz, not a Quizilla construct with questionable spelling) to determine whether you're Red or Blue.  As the intro points out, "Red and blue are states of mind, not actual states.  Red and blue aren't absolute predictors of political leanings, either...Instead, it's an amorphous condition."

I was somewhat surprised by my results, which put me squarely in the middle, until I really thought about it and realized that it was actually fairly accurate.  If you're interested in taking it, I'd love to have you come back and share your findings, especially if you find your results surprising, too.

July 19, 2004

Norman's Cat Corner - The "Better Late than Never" edition

Peri Posted by Hello

Ah, what could be better than returning from a little vacation to resume posting with a picture of my favorite cat?  (I think Norman's answer would be, "Just about anything.")  
This is our cat, Peri, in a recent photo taken about two years after the inaugural Cat Corner shot featuring her as a kitten.  She is our family's first cat (we'd only ever had dogs before) so watching her grow up has been a real trip.  Here, she is seen in my mom's new place getting used to her unfamiliar surroundings. 
She has taken on a few new personality traits since the move -- such as deciding that my mom shouldn't sleep past 6:00am or so on any given morning.  She will meow and meow until Mom either gets up or throws her out of the room.  If Mom resists and gets her to pipe down, Peri will come back and try again in about a half hour.  But when Mom finally succumbs and leaves the room, Peri will immediately assume her new usual spot under the bed and not come out or make another peep for hours.  When I show up and she's still under there, I'll lay down, lift up the dust ruffle and say, "Hello!"  I get one meow in response and then she ignores me until she is sure that I haven't brought along any strangers and decides it's safe to come out.   
We decided a few months after she came to us that maybe we should have named her "Scaredy" instead of Peri (which, in case you were wondering, is short for Peridot after the color of her eyes) because she is frightened by everything apart from the bugs she stalks with a relentless intensity matched only by jungle cats hunting their prey.  If only she understood the concept of "it's dead," as she keeps looking for them long after they've gone to the big bug zapper in the sky.

July 16, 2004

Greetings from Sacramento!

I have been MIA for the last two days because I am attending the US Track and Field Olympic Trials in Sacramento, CA, and I didn't take the laptop.  It is (for me) brutally hot here, and I have found refuge in the library on the campus of California State University - Sacramento.  They have kindly let visitors use their computers for Internet access, and I'm taking them up on it.  The fact that it's air-conditioned splendor in here may have something to do with my really taking them up on it!
So far, the most memorable moment was yesterday, when Marion Jones got the lead out and made a spectacular long jump to take first place and secure a trip to Athens (assuming no evidence of illegal doping on her part is found before then) after her disappointing performance last week in the 100m event.  She'll be back over the next few days trying to make it on the 200m team.  The crowd here was very supportive of her last night, and she showed her appreciation of the fans by coming over to the stands and letting people take photos and doing some autographs, before breezing past the press like she was practicing for the 200m.
I should have a few pictures to post when I return, if I haven't died of heatstroke before that time.  Have a great weekend and tune in for a delayed (but not deterred!) episode of kitty blogging on Monday. 

July 13, 2004

The Ken Jennings train keeps rolling on

Quite a number of people have found OPO by searching for info on Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy phenom, because I happened to use the word "winningest" in my original post about his amazing winning streak.

Jennings, who is still going strong, has prompted a 28% increase in viewership of the show during his six-week run. He is starting to pop up all over the place -- now that people are hopping on the bandwagon -- like Good Morning America, where he apparently revealed the unsurprising "secret" to his success, Today, Live with Regis & Kelly (scheduled for tomorrow, 7/14), The Early Show and, notably, Late Show with David Letterman, where he presented the Top Ten List.

Of course, every good bandwagon has its backlash, and Ken's has already begun (NY Times, reg. req.), with people referring to him as "annoying" and "cocky," and calling for him to voluntarily end his reign. It's anticipated that this call will become more strident now that he has reached the million dollar mark. That milestone was passed tonight, in a show where there was some fun repartee between Ken and Alex (when you watch them together night after night like this, you get to be on a first-name basis), as mentioned in this article.

I happen to think that Ken is a very nice and likeable nerd, I enjoy watching him wreak havoc on contestant after contestant and category after category, and I think that he should stay on as long as he continues to enjoy it and keeps winning. For those who say otherwise, I have only one response: Alex, I'll take "Sour Grapes" for a thousand.

July 12, 2004

Athens takes on Double Secret Probation

I truly believe that people are kidding themselves if they really think that there will be no major problems at the Summer Olympics in Athens. The organizers and the government can make all the pledges they like that it will go smoothly and that everything is well in hand. Whenever I read their assurances that it's going to be just fine, however, all I can think of is the guy at the end of Animal House (a very young Kevin Bacon) trying to contain the panicked crowd with a shrill, "Remain calm. All is well!"

But when we have story after story about what has gone wrong or what went right by the slimmest of margins, and then something like this happens a month before such an enormous event, it's time to take off the rose-tinted glasses, folks.

When the XXVIII Olympiad was awarded to Greece in 1997, it was clear that it would take a massive amount of work to bring the modern Games to an ancient city. When it was discovered almost four years later that progress was almost non-existent, the IOC kicked up a fuss. But they backed off from seriously considering taking the games away from Athens, and moving them to a city that was more Games-ready, after more assurances from the Greek government and (I feel) fear of the negative press such a move would incur. The organizing committee got things moving, telling us that it was just "the Greek way" for things to get done at the last minute and that it would all work out fine. All well and good for internal ventures, but when you're inviting the world onto your island, a little more commitment is required.

Added to all of that is the heightened terrorist element the Games must now address, and I fear that Athens could wind up with more than egg on its face when all is said and done. With the current world climate, an attack has the sad potential to make the horrible events of the Munich Olympics pale in comparison.

For years I have felt like Cassandra with prophesies of gloom and doom for these Games. And I hope I'm wrong, I really do. But so far I haven't seen much to give me a great deal of hope that all is, in fact, well in Athens.

July 11, 2004

Norman's Cat Corner

Savannah & Sophie Posted by Hello

Today we meet Savannah and Sophie, two beauties who also live here in the Bay Area. Savannah, on the left, is the younger and perkier of the two and keeps her parents on their toes. Sophie is more the lady of the world who watches Savannah's antics with a languid eye. But those glowing eyes tell you, "Don't mess with us, because we will out-cute you any day of the week!"

July 09, 2004

It's a sunshine-y day

What are you doing in here looking at your computer? It's a summer weekend -- get out there are do something summery! According to this map (right now), unless you live at the very northernmost tip of Alaska, it's perfect weather out there. Go grab yourself a Frisbee® and enjoy a beautiful day. Then come back on Sunday to see which kitty cat I've selected to torture Norman.

July 08, 2004

Lesson learned

Never proclaim in a public forum that you're finally feeling relaxed. Because (my) nature abhors a vacuum, that's like asking for trouble. All day I've had a backache that almost nothing could touch, so at this point I'm feeling a little cranky and tired and this is going to be short.

Go over and vote in the new poll -- I'm curious to see how others fare with our fair foliage friends. Then read this article from Slate that cracked me up today. I really admire this lady's guts in trying out all these different things, and I think this is the gutsiest one thus far.

After reading the very end of the article, I had something terribly insightful to say about complacency in relationships and the power of remembering that you're involved with a man or a woman, not just a husband or wife, and doing something to acknowledge that fact every once in a while, even if it puts you outside your comfort zone. But now, many hours later, all I can think is, "Aw, what the hell do I know, anyway?" Whenever this kind of topic comes up in discussion with women or men, who are generally complaining about the lack of something in either their relationship or their mate, I will express that idea in some form or another. Invariably, the sentiment that comes back to me -- whether directly or indirectly -- is, "You don't understand what it's like when you're married." (It's only slightly less emphatic from someone in a not-married, long-term relationship.)

So, in an effort to actually put into action a lesson I should have learned by now, I will squelch the impulse and hope that you're very comfortable in your sweats and T, wherever you are.

July 07, 2004

Blossom on my mind

Hibiscus Posted by Hello

For some reason I don't have much to say today. Work has been pretty low-key lately, which is highly unusual, so I think I'm a little off-kilter...oh, wait, that's just me feeling relaxed. It has been so long I didn't recognize it.

In my little arbor of contentment, my thoughts turn to warm, fuzzy images of kittens, rainbows and flowers. Kittens -- got that covered. Rainbows are never truly captured on film. That leaves flowers. Hence the above photo of the first hibiscus I've ever successfully kept alive for longer than a month. I'm quite proud. Not of the little ants scurrying around (if you look closely), but I didn't notice them until the picture was taken and, hey, it's the great outdoors.

They're beautiful but delicate flowers with a very short bloom life. I don't know much about them since I've had such a hard time growing them in the past, but I'm feeling encourged to take on another one soon. I thought maybe this variety might be just the thing for an aspiring blogger.

July 06, 2004

Summertime, and the viewin' is easy.

Ah, summertime TV in the reality show era. We used to have that huge drought between the time when all the shows had their season finales in May and their new season premieres in September, and summer TV meant repeats and sports. Maybe someone else can pinpoint in time better than I when that all changed, but my feeling is that we have Fox to thank for it. I seem to recall that they started initiating changes when they became a real player in network TV, like starting new shows in summer that weren't simply shows not good enough for the fall line-up and starting and ending seasons outside the normal times. It just became more and more common and now we're at the point where there is really a separate summer season, and it just so happens that the bulk of it is reality shows.

For me, tonight marked the start of when I actually look forward to TV again and get to indulge in those dual guilty pleasures of Big Brother and The Amazing Race, now in their fifth editions. To help enjoy Big Brother 5 (or "BB5") just that much more, we have big brother 5: the hampster cage from Ernie of Little.Yellow.Different. I do believe he actually means "hamster" but who am I to quibble with a biggie in the bloggy world?

BB5 pales in comparison to Amazing Race (or, as a friend and I call it, "Amazing Grace," due to a hearing lapse on my part way back when) in terms of enjoyment, but BB5 has the advantage of being on multiple times each week, which is nice when there's absolutely nothing else on. This year, BB5 seems determined to throw in as many twists as they possibly can, but I have to admit that the first one was pretty neat. They somehow managed to get a guy and a girl in as housemates who are half-siblings, but neither was aware of the other's existence before this. So far, one of them has managed to figure it out, but hasn't told the other yet. I still find Julie Chen infinitely annoying, but I suppose they could have gotten someone worse.

Amazing Race is just the best. If you haven't watched it and think all reality shows are dumb, just give it a try. Heck, the thing won an Emmy last year and TV Guide thinks it's great, so it can't be without any redeeming qualities! I would have loved, loved, loved to be a contestant on "Grace" this time around, but all efforts at convincing my brother to try out for it with me failed. He and I would be a killer team and there's no one I would rather race around the world with, but he wasn't buying it. That whole "having to get three months off from work" thing may have been a contributing factor.

But, okay, let's cut to brass tacks here, shall we? The show that's really making me do my very best hyena impression and just dying for the next episode is Joe Schmo 2. I watched and enjoyed the first season, but I truly believed it was a one-off; how could they possibly make it work a second time? Did they learn nothing from the disaster that was "Joe Millionaire 2" last year?? But they've done it, they've created yet another fake show that just rocks. The way in which they send up almost every aspect of every other reality show is such a hoot, and the seriousness with which these blatant sexual innuendos are laid out there by "The Pompous Host" just slays me. They've even found the perfect way to deal with fake show disaster -- someone figuring out the jig. And did I mention that they have a clumsy falcon? It's ingenious and entertaining and too damned funny to miss. Put a little Schmo in your summer -- you can thank me later.

July 05, 2004

Mint, NIB, One-of-a-Kind Post w/Free Shipping!

I am garage-saled out. But it's over and it was actually pretty worthwhile. Long, with periods of extreme boredom, but worthwhile. Although the suggestion was made that I list some of the items here that we had for sale, I decided that I couldn't do that for security reasons -- it could put my terribly lucrative eBay operation in jeopardy. It turns out that my garage contains about half the contents of all of eBay and listing any of them here could cause a cataclysmic meltdown of both Google and eBay, resulting in thousands of my fellow Silicon Valleyites losing their jobs, which would harm the local economy and put even more people out of work, which would have fewer people on the road each day...which would make my commute easier...hey!

Nevermind, I think being out in the heat so much over the last few days has fried my faculties. So I'll leave you with the following:

Gardens have roses,
Ponds have ducks,
Tomorrow's back to work
And that really sucks.

Check, please.

July 04, 2004

Norman's Cat Corner

Squeaky Posted by Hello

Say hi to Squeaky...or Ruby...or Squeaks...or Squeaky-Ruby. It kinda depends on who you ask. Anyway, she's the most photogenic cat I know and she lives here in the SF Bay Area. I have the pleasure of tending to her a bit every once in a while and she's a real sweetheart. (So sweet that even Norman might not be tempted to break out his George Foreman Kitty Fryer if he got to meet her.) Her dad is an avid photographer, so she is a seasoned model who has perfected the art of looking faboo in glamour shots like this one.

July 03, 2004

Love/Hate Relationship

Why I love garage sales: 1. You get rid of stuff. 2. People give you money.

Why I hate garage sales: 1. Haggling over prices. 2. You have to sit around for hours and hours so people can give you less money than you'd like.

Right now I am about three hours in on the first of three days of my family's garage sale. So far, so good, but in another three hours I will likely be so sick of the whole thing that the money won't seem worth it. Add two more days to that and I might actually be glad to go back to work on Tuesday!

We really need to do it because we have too much stuff and we need to divest ourselves of some of it, now. It hasn't been too bad so far -- there haven't been too many annoying people -- and being able to bring the laptop out to the driveway and have it connect to our wireless network will help pass the time. We have been fairly successful at finding new homes for some of our little treasures, but it's starting to get hot, which is my least favorite thing about being outside at this time of day. Thankfully, we've got a nice little set-up with a table and umbrella, comfortable chairs, a cooler filled with ice-cold beverages, snacks and all day with nothing to do but take the nice peoples' money.

***Three hours later, after the battery died and we're winding down to the end of Day One***

We've been dodging the sun all afternoon and have retreated into the garage, with all the stuff baking on the driveway. The proportion of really annoying people to really nice people has been better than usual. Although the guy that's here now has apparently not been in a store for the last decade because he has asked about twenty times, "Now, what is this? Wow, really? What is this thing again?" So far, no indication that he has any intention whatsoever of actually buying anything, however. Even my mother, who likes nothing more than chatting with people is rolling her eyes at me and wishing he'd stop asking question after question!

Well, it's almost time to start dragging things back in before we haul 'em back out bright and early tomorrow. *sigh*

July 01, 2004

Here a Ringy-Dingy, There a Ringy-Dingy

This is the single most confounding game I have played in a long time. Started off pretty easy, but the second "place" is an absolute doozy. I'm still not sure how I made it work, nor why it didn't fully work. But I eventually got to the end and now I can stop thinking and thinking and thinking about it!

It's quite unique and I suggest you buzz on by when you have some time to kill this long weekend.