Dirty Dishes

progress shot of painting

So I haven't painted a thing since 11 July. And it has been even longer than that since I announced I was going to try the page-by-page illustration project and yet I've never picked a book, let alone gotten started.

As for this TV tray painting, the first time I touched it was 30 May! I must be the least consistent person I know.

At any rate, today I put a couple more hours into this TV tray. I figure there are at least two more sessions to go. Enjoy.

A Ridger-Like Rant

So I wanted to watch that Ray Bradbury music video that's making the rounds, but YouTube says it's not safe for work. They want me to create an account to "prove" that I'm over 18. Let's for a moment leave aside the insanity of believing that pre-18s can't figure out a birthday entry for more than 18 years ago. (If they can't do it on their own, they can stop by the 7-11, where there's always a convenient sign that says "If you weren't born before this date in 1989, you can't buy alcohol here." They know 21 is older than 18, right?) I mean, if someone who wants to watch a video about science fiction author Ray Bradbury can't subtract, he or she should not be allowed to use the internet at all.

So the thing wants my zip code and my birth date. Fine, whatever. I'm not a fan of the way international copyright laws are working these days, but I can at least see the use to which they'd want to put that information. But what possible reason could YouTube have for requiring me to enter a gender? And when doing so, why do I only have two choices? Are there videos that only women can watch? Are we preparing for the day when the theocracy takes hold and there are videos that only men can watch? C'mon YouTube, what's the deal?

We want your gender

Since I'm already ranting: my greasemonkey script doesn't work on Chrome. Chrome doesn't support @require. I don't know what else might be wrong with it. Bah.

Fun With GreaseMonkey!

OK, so I haven't heard much about GreaseMonkey lately. Has everyone moved on to other excitement? I realize that the fact that I'm still blogging on Blogger/Blogspot instead of moving on to some other venue shows me to be a dinosaur. But I've been here since 2003 and I don't feel like moving over to some new address at this late date, so I'm likely to stay on Blogger for a while.

But there's one thing that bugs me on Blogger. It's easy enough to add pictures, but when I load them, I don't get to assign alt and title tags. I'm forced to scroll through the html and figure out which picture is which. I want to be a good net citizen and put those alt tags out there (and anything that helps searches is good, too), so I figured I just had to go and do something about it.

With Firefox, I can add greaseMonkey and make scripts that alter my experience on any given page. So I wrote a script that lets me put this little link into the edit bar of Blogger:

tag pics link

Push that button, and a list of the pictures shows up to let me enter alt tags and titles to. If I push the Go link, it updates the text of my edit box and we move on. I'm very happy with this little geekitude.

picture tag example

49 Signs

I saw these signs out on 49 just past The Willo. I have no idea what's behind this profound message.

Thanks Nate Dead Zone

A New Book

Inhuman book cover

One of the Most Haunting Things I've Watched in a While

I mean "haunting" in the sense of beautiful and won't get out of my head:

An Adventure with Public Transit

Last night, I worked through until about 4am and then collapsed in bed. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep past 8am, so I did what I often do when I do not get enough sleep. Considering that my sleep patterns have been mucked with since last Thursday, you can imagine this one was a doozy. So I left the house at 10:15 this morning and walked over to the Rood Center.

You see, I'm a big fan of public transportation, but here in Nevada County, there really isn't much call for it. Most of the places the bus goes to, I'm just as happy walking or riding my bike to. (Of course, that doesn't mean I actually do. I'm just saying that there are options.) The Brunette's visit to Maryland has been indefinitely extended, but when she and her niece went down to SMF last week, they took the car and parked it in the economy lot. It seemed like a good idea to go down and get the car so it isn't racking up the daily nine dollars.

Thank You CBC

Wow, I've been running through some boring, boring, boring data migration work. Oh, sure, how often do you get to write Ruby, Perl, Java, and JavaScript all on the same day for the same project? But the glamor of that jump into postmodern software development fades quickly.

Luckily, I discovered some podcasts from the CBC, a whole backlog of things I haven't heard. I'm particularly enjoying the parody news show This is That and a book show called The Next Chapter. But the gold is in Jonathan Goldstein's WireTap.

I think that all introverts secretly want to have a friend like Howard. That shines through on this episode (that's a link to the mp3; i can't seem to find a link directly to The World on a String episode).

Hunger Games Contest

I know that at least some of my readers are fans of the Hunger Games series of books, for which the third installment is due out tomorrow. Over on LibraryThing, they're running a photo contest in which members (and I'm pretty sure basic membership is still free) can win a boxed set.

Good luck!

The deadline is 10 pm EST this Sunday, August 29th.

Find a fence and pretend to sneak out of District 12. Get some crepe paper and create one of the costumes Katniss wore in the parades*. Find whatever moment you want to replicate, and capture it with your camera.

A Trip To Auburn

I am exhausted. I've been pushing hard to finish a data migration this weekend, starting on Thursday night. I have only a bit of tomorrow for some integrity checking, then I get to sleep.

In the meantime, I did take a break to go down the hill to Auburn today. For those readers who are not local, Auburn is a good 30 minutes down the hill on the way to Sacramento. It is the beginning of big box store country and, more important, it has a Fedex Kinkos Office. The Brunette is away in Maryland and her trip has had an unexpected extension, so I went down the hill to overnight her some things.

Since I was down there, I decided to treat myself to some comfort food at Max's, a restaurant that has moved into the building where the Marie Callender's used to be (next to the Holiday Inn behind the In-N-Out Burger). I didn't realize that Marie Callender's was gone. Where am I going to sneak off and get pie, now?

Three things I learned about Max's during my visit. First, it is run by east coast people. I heard the manager tell several customers this. It was very important to him that folks know that the restaurant came by its pastrami naturally. I have to say my pastrami (I had a New Jersey Philly, which is a Philly cheesesteak with pastrami instead of steak) was very good and the roll had the right texture. But calling out a restaurant for its easternness when it's based in San Francisco is a bit much. When I think of Max and the east, I think of Max and Erma's, which is apparently not related.

Actually, I think of Max and Erma's as Chicago, which is east of here, but still not eastern in the New York-DC corridor sense.

Second, Max's is one of those places with "attitude." The menu is full of rules. The waitstaff was pleasant, though, nothing at all like Ed Debevic's or the like. I particularly appreciated this rule:

menu rule

Third, Max likes it cold. I was freezing in that restaurant. Maybe the little bit of cloud cover -- I'm pretty sure that's what those white things were? -- was a surprise, but it was much colder inside than it needed to be. Luckily, I never wear short sleeved shirts, so I was almost comfortable.

I had some trouble navigating the roads leaving the place. I cut through the In-N-Out parking lot, only to be confronted with a series of No Left Turn signs that led me up and away from 49. As I looped back, though, I was rewarded with the following sight:

stone statues

I guess Medusa must have been through here, eh?

Barber Power

barber signs

Sometime back, I complained about the lack of barbers in Nevada City. This morning, though, it looks like there's a bunch of 'em and they're having a sign war. Looks like Barber Gary put up a sign and then Barber Johnny put up a sign across the street. I think some barbers have moved into the hair salons over behind the speedy mart.

(I don't remember now if the other name was Johnny or not and the iPhone pic just isn't clear enough to tell. You'll have to drive over next to the S.O.A.P. place to see for yourself.)

An Update on the Desk Chair Situation

...in case you had been left hanging since my last rant.

I went down to the ReStore. If you're here in Nevada County and you haven't been, you really ought to check it out. It's run by Habitat for Humanity and it has all this donated and reclaimed building material for sale. There are old appliances and cabinetry and doors and lights and tools, as well as bits and pieces of hardware like screws and knobs. Then there are the random things like an old Victrola or a pants ironer.

On this last trip, I picked up a replacement for my office chair. If you recall, I have a drafting table for a desk and I need a taller chair. The one I have is really annoying because the foot rest keeps falling off with a very loud clank. It hurts my legs to let my feet dangle, so I have to pull the foot rest ring back up and try to fasten it in place. This is two or three times a day.

Well, not any more. I got a new chair. It has a fixed foot rest and it easily moves up and down using the magic of hydraulics. It doesn't roll around a lot, but I'm convinced it won't be falling over or anything.

It's a barber chair. How cool is that?

Two Things that Amuse Me

I find that Google Chrome on the mac has the most trouble drawing lines where I tell it to when using My Google Maps.

I find that Apple Safari has the most trouble resizing when moving between an external monitor and the laptop screen on my Apple MacBook.

Orange You Glad I Didn't Make a Knock Knock Joke?

Let me just say right off the bat that these are terrible pictures. The humidity was so horrible in Orlando that I couldn't keep the lens unfogged for more than a few seconds. All the closeups are useless. I was speaking at Agile2010 last week, and it was hard to convince me to go outside the air conditioning for any reason whatsoever. But wee toaty explorers always win in a fight between my comfort and their adventures, especially in a new state.


I'm not sure what this pavilion is used for, but the range of hanging monitors amuses me, especially since they're obviously older models.

monitors and fans

Yep, we're in Disney World. Not in any of the parks, but we're on the property. It takes forever and a day to get anywhere off the property when you're staying in a Disney hotel, so this is what we get for a scene.

Sorcerer's Apprentice Pavilion

Wee Toaty Annual Report

On July 30, last year, I found myself in a cycle of travel that was really driving me nuts. Back in those days, I worked for a company that expected pretty much 40 hours of billable time even while traveling, so a two month gig in Topeka, where I flew out there on Sunday night and home on Friday night, was painful. (These days, I'm traveling to more places, but never for an entire week. It's a nice change.)

I had been reading through the pictures on Little People: "Little handpainted people, left in London to fend for themselves." You should take a look; he takes tiny plastic figures -- smaller (I think) than model railroad people -- reconfigures and paints them, then sets up scenes around London. The best part, in my mind, was the idea of leaving them behind for someone to come upon randomly and either get a smile or a new thought.

So, I went out and got some Play-Doh, and I made a little skateboarder who crashed while grinding on a bank's wall. I took pictures and scuttled off, hoping that someone would come along and find some enjoyment. I thought it was fun and a good way to whittle away the time while on the road. And here we are a year later: 36 wee toaty explorers are (were) in three countries on two continents; in 13 US states.

My favorite thing is when I get a picture of someone walking by the explorer without even glancing its way. I know I'm pretty oblivious to the world around me, why shouldn't others be?

I think my figures are a good 8 times larger than Little People, but I can't really carry around paint and stuff. Play-Doh really didn't work out. It was soft and did not hold together well. The figures sometimes melted before my eyes. I tried Makins clay for a while, but it was hard to work with and expensive. So I finally settled upon Crayola Fusion, which hardens pretty much overnight and is very light. (Keep in mind that I'm in hotel rooms, so any of those clays that harden in an oven are out of scope.) Sometimes I need a little glue to keep the arms on the next morning, but I'm pretty happy with the results. I have been trying to shrink my work down a bit, but it's taking time for me to get any skills here.

I hope you've enjoyed the explorers. You can go back through them all by hitting this link. I didn't really think I'd keep it up for a whole year, but it seems to have lasted. I'll probably keep going until I start repeating cities. I don't tend to put them in Boulder any more, for example, because my company's HQ is there and I visit often enough it's boring. I also don't drop them here in my town. (There was an early one before this area was our home, but that's down the hill in Grass Valley.) Here are my three favorites. What are yours?

traveler on the platform at Topeka I have a soft spot for Topeka Traveler, one of the earliest ones. I really like the feeling of emptiness on the longer shot of the platform.

I like the Grants, NM, Prisoner because of a story my mother told me. She went over a few days after I left and sat in her car while a group from the men's prison was out doing litter patrol around the women's prison. She watched them gather around the sign when they noticed the sculpture. She was sure they were going to throw it away, but one of the men bent down and picked something up. He put it back on the sign and adjusted the plate maker. The ball and chain had fallen off. They seemed to have a laugh and went back about their cleaning duty, leaving the woman there on the sign.

apples chasing doctor And my favorite is this group of angry apples in Austin. I'll probably return to the apples because they're so much fun to make. It was raining for days, so I kept putting off this shoot, but I had to fly home eventually. So I found a creek running under a bridge, which meant the site was pretty dry. And I think this is the best set of pictures to come out of the set.

Greenville, SC

Well, I had intended to make a clay birthday cake while we were up in Sierra City last weekend, but I forgot and so here we run into our second year of Wee Toaty Explorers. I'll make a summary post soon, with my favorites.

In the meantime, this little couple is having fun in Greenville, South Carolina.

A couple in tuxes

I keep forgetting to give anybody any hair (aside from the mustache).

couple from the back

Where are you headed, young lads?

couple faces BJ

Oh, guys, I don't think you want to go over there.

context shot

The funny thing is, I didn't even realize the judge had ruled on Proposition 8 until I had placed these guys.

This is another in the continuing series of wee toaty explorers, a project to keep me busy while I'm on the road. A nice summary is here.