Monday, December 20, 2010

*steps on soapbox*

i'm watching one of those "you are not the father" episodes of Maury on Hulu, and seriously, i want to smack pretty much everyone who shows up on it. i get the feeling that most of these people are really not mature enough to be having sex.

i want to shake them by the shoulders...all of them: the men and the women...and tell them that they need to think about whether they want to have kids before they start having sex. and, if they decide that they don't want sex to result in kids, they need to learn to use birth control properly and also come to terms with the thought of either choosing abortion or putting the kid up for adoption in the event that birth control fails and they still have no desire to raise a kid.

that's a major reason i waited as long as i did to engage in sex acts that carry a risk of pregnancy -- i didn't want to open that particular can of worms until i thought through it and felt comfortable with my options for what to do if the condom broke and i turned up pregnant. even though sex is about pleasure rather than procreation for me, as a woman who never wants to have kids...certain acts carry a risk that anyone considering them needs to face thoughtfully before they actually do it.

end of rant.

Friday, December 17, 2010

crackhead mayor strikes again

Dear Marion Barry:

You probably wouldn't have left your keys in your car ignition in Washington, DC had you not fried your brain on all that crack.

the persecuted crack smoker

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


dear mainstream media, FDA, law enforcement, and everyone else:

will you please shut up about four loko, already? i'm sick of hearing about it. railing against it is going to do absolutely nothing. banning it is going to do absolutely nothing. and, the fact that the FDA is just now trying to declare caffeine in alcoholic beverages an "unsafe food additive" is laughable.

four loko is nothing new. there have been plenty of caffeinated malt beverages over the years: Sparks, Joose, Tilt, Natty Up...there have been a handful over the years. four loko has just been the most popular, for some reason. i've never had it, so i don't know if it tastes any better than its foul-tasting caffeinated alcopop predecessors...but it's the same thing.

and, even more popular (and more delicious) than purchasing caffeinated booze? rolling your own. think about it: jager and red bull. rum and coke. irish coffee. there are a million different caffeinated alcoholic beverages that people have been mixing themselves for years, and there's nothing that the FDA can say or do to make us stop making them. what are they going to do: stop selling liquor and/or caffeinated beverages for fear that we're going to mix the two? get real.

in other words, focus your energy on something that actually matters.

no love,

P.S.: criminals, if you're reading this, don't blame your idiotic actions on four loko. the only reason it's even notable that you said this is because you blamed your actions on the scapegoat du jour. if you blamed the fact that you stole stuff on the fact that you had one too many vodka-and-red-bull drinks, people would have just laughed at you and continued the arrest. but, since you invoked the latest Big Moral Panic, stupid people are going to get even more up in arms about it. so, take it from me: i don't care if you drink four loko, beer, whiskey, or club soda -- just don't be a dumbass and rob people, okay? and, if you do rob people, don't blame it on what you're drinking.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

tee hee.

i was just plugging in a USB peripheral, and caught myself singing "get on the serial bus...get on the serial bus" out loud, to the tune of "get on the city bus" by wesley willis.

i'm special.


as seen in a lottery spam:

The selection was made through a computer draw system attaching personalized email
addresses to ticket numbers. If you ignore this message, you will definitely regret it
later. Microsoft is now the largest Internet company & in effort to make sure that
Internet Explorer remain the most widely used program, Microsoft/Msn is running an e-
mail beta test.

that makes about as much sense as oh, i don't know...still using Internet Explorer.

eternal wisdom for the ages

"why does Christmas music suck?"
"because it isn't very good."

i <3 Beavis and Butt-Head.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

oh, shmooballs.

foiled again.

my chance for a shmoocon ticket looks like it will depend on one of two rather unlikely happenings: scoring a ticket in the January 1 sale, or having my talk proposal accepted.

i'm still thinking that even if i don't get a ticket, i'll probably go to DC that weekend just to hang out with everyone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


it would be nice if i could remember how to think clearly.

Friday, November 26, 2010


dear spammer,

i didn't ask you, or anyone else, about a website.

even if i did, i am sure i would not have asked about [randomgobbledygook] i may be rather open about my abiding love of the 1990s...but even in a state of deep nostalgia, i'm able to separate the good 1990s stuff from the bad.

and, angelfire sucks. it sucked then, and it still sucks.

no love,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

campaign promises...or not

Rev. James Meeks, one of the candidates for Chicago mayor, recently said the following:

"I think the most dangerous thing you can do is to say what you're going to fix. There are a lot of places that we can trim, but there are none which you can talk about now....You can't be specific right now. You just can't be specific."

this is one of those things that i read, and i can't decide whether to laugh or cry. on one hand, it's pretty disgusting when a politician doesn't actually come up with any concrete plans. on the other hand, the raving cynic in me knows that the best way never to be busted for breaking your campaign promises is never to make them in the first place.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

on t-shirts and bible quotes

dear $high_school_kid:

you said, "I was shocked. There is clearly a double standard here, and we're really upset about this. They said the reason we can't wear 'Straight Pride' shirts is because they are disruptive. And I can understand how maybe some people were intimidated by the shirts with the Bible verse. But I don't understand how some students are able to wear 'Gay Pride' shirts while we can't wear shirts that just say 'Straight Pride.'"

if the shirts you wore to school just said "straight pride" on them, they'd be controversial, but i agree that they shouldn't be banned, at school or anywhere else. the problem is, you are twisting the facts. the shirts people at your school were wearing didn't just say "straight pride". they had a few other words on them as well...that "bible verse" that you ever-so-tactfully say may have "intimidated" people.

the last time i checked, the "gay pride" shirts that people may have been wearing to your school (or anywhere else) didn't also have on them some quote on them about how men who lie with women should surely be put to death.

things like trying to start a conversation about your religious beliefs as they apply to sexuality, or taking pride in your sexuality, are one thing. however, responding to a student-organized week against sexuality-related bullying by wearing a shirt that says that gays should be put to death is another thing: specifically, an example of the kind of bullying that needs to come to an end.

queer students and their allies aren't running around trying to make you feel subhuman because you happen to only be into people of the opposite sex. give them the same ounce of respect.

Friday, November 05, 2010

you are a spammer.

and, joining the ranks of Dubiously Reputable Purveyors of University Degrees, we have this guy:


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Bachelop9z5ptrs, Masters ob9sxfmnr even a Doh5ctocaw6o6yrate.

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wobugjc6rk yosgvcgkiu are already dooging?

This is yo2elcur chance to5u17el finally make the right morb5p5ve and receive yosuur due
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Ring anytime 1-801-461-5023

i want to call this spammer to see if he talks like he types.


i dodged a major bullet today...or, it could be better said that i dodged a major shmooball.

there were massive issues with the Shmoocon ticket sales on Monday. the web server just couldn't handle the amount of load it got from people trying to buy tickets, and it crashed. no one got any tickets. the powers-that-be cancelled Monday's ticket offering to test it further, and then announced on Tuesday that tickets would go on sale Thursday at noon eastern time. as such, i set my alarm for 10:45am Thursday, so i could be up for the ticket sale--11am central time.

fast forward to Thursday morning. i slept like bollocks on Wednesday, and was exhausted when i got home from work Thursday morning. i passed out by nine thirty or so. all of a sudden, i hear my alarm. i'm confused, because it's light outside. my alarm doesn't go off until 7pm on Thursdays--and this time of year, it's already pitch-dark by then. i muttered some curses under my breath, killed my alarm, and went back to sleep until 6pm.

i didn't realise until i was walking into work around 8:45 tonight that i had failed epically. i had set that alarm for a reason, that reason was Shmoocon tickets, and i had probably slept my way out of my best chance to buy them. i arrive at work, freaking out, and fire up the Shmoocon page as soon as i logged onto my workstation.

of course, since i said i dodged a shmooball, i bet you know what happened: ticket sales were postponed yet again. i sighed with relief...and vowed to put a note by my alarm to the effect of "WAKE UP, ROGUE, YOU MORON. YOU WANT SHMOOCON TICKETS, DON'T YOU?"

i still can't believe i bungled that today...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

LJ Idol Week 1: Here There Be Dragons

LJ Idol Week 1: Here There Be Dragons

my left wrist has become a ragtag collection of bracelets. there are four of them so far. three of them have maintained their colour and their shape well, even though they've been dangling from my dominant arm for anywhere between six months and a year and a half. however, one of them has become thoroughly dingy and stained.

HERE BE DRAGONS -- 26C3 -- 27.-30. DEZ 2009

it was lemon yellow when they put it on my wrist last year at the registration desk on December 26th of last year. that's one of the few memories i have of the con itself that's not clouded by massive sleep deprivation, massive sensory overload, or massive consumption of delicious German beer. i waited in line for two and a half hours, since they only pre-sold tickets to members of the Chaos Computer Club last year. since i'm not German, there's not a friendly neighbourhood branch of the CCC for me to join. i was stuck waiting.

i have very few specific memories of waiting in line, except for a brief exchange with one of the guys at the help desk...and the entertaining aftermath. i had let it slide to the guy at the help desk (his name, i never got...) that i had checked the line earlier and judged it to be too long--only to come back later to see the line doubled in length. he laughed at me almost but not quite like Nelson Muntz, the bully from the Simpsons..."HA-HA!" i giggled; this twenty-sixth Chaos Communication Congress had been my first, and i was learning my lessons the hard way. however, every time i ran into help desk guy at the con, he broke out in this big smile and went "HA-HA!" i wasn't even immune from this when i was sleeping. i was an "angel", a con volunteer, and was taking a quick nap in "heaven" (the angels' lounge and command centre) before my next shift. i woke up, and noticed a strip of tape affixed to my jacket. written on it was "HA-HA!".

i got to the end of the line, paid the entrance desk the eighty euros cash that i had left in my passport wallet from the previous summer for this specific purpose, and they gave me the bracelet. American hacker cons generally give out badges that hang around the neck; any European con i've attended has given a badge in the form of a fabric strip held around the wrist by a crimped piece of metal. i moved the metal ring to loosen the bracelet, put it around my wrist, and adjusted it to the size i thought i wanted. i made sure the text was facing me; my bracelet from the Dutch hacker camp i had attended the previous summer had the text facing out, and that continues to bother me to this day. then, i let the angel at the registration desk crimp my bracelet.

i realised it was too loose, and i could actually slide it off if i tried. however, they would not give me a new ring. loose it would stay.

from then, the weekend was a blur. i didn't give a talk at this con, but i stood up and introduced four or five different talks. i wandered Berlin for lunches and dinners with hastily-wrangled groups of hackers. i worked the info desk a few times, although the fact that i didn't speak German made me less useful than i could have been...and even irritated quite a few of the people coming to ask for information. i partied late into the night. i hung out in the hackerspaces area, where the more-productive-than-i were working on projects.

Berlin never really slept, and i tried not to as well; i subsisted on Club-Mate, döner kebab, and the occasional wink of sleep back at the hostel if i was particularly delirious. i'm sure if i were asked more pointed questions about specific things that happened at the con, i'd be able to recall more details.

my memory may be as dingy, worn, and blotchy as the bracelet has become...but that's okay. i was there. time hasn't vanquished that bracelet, and time hasn't vanquished all of my memories of the Congress.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

election 2010

today's election day.

a huge part of me was tempted to do write-ins for utter and complete bullshit things (minazo the lolrus? i hate you all?), since i have a burning distaste for so many of the candidates. however, doing that would be tantamount to not voting at all, since it requires just as little actual information. doing so would fly in the face of my "if you don't vote, don't bitch" ethos...i feel a duty to be familiar enough with what's going on and what the candidates plan to do if elected such that i can cast an educated vote, despite my distaste for following politics.

am i voting for any candidates of whom i'm so enamoured that i'm going to promote them here and suggest you vote for them? no. but, do i feel like i'll be able to look at myself in the mirror because i've negotiated my most palatable set of options given the ballot with which i'm presented? yes.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

LJ Idol Week 0: The Introduction

LJ Idol Week 0: The Introduction

my name is nicolle. that's right, nicolle...with a lowercase n. i decided long ago that it made no sense to capitalise my name. that thing over there is a table, that other thing over there is a phone, and that thing right here is a nicolle. i capitalise other people's names out of respect for them, but as for mine, it's not quite right to me unless it's lowercase.

then again, in my own mind, i think of myself as adalia at least as often as i think of myself as nicolle. that name was taken from the song "adalia" by madina lake...a song about a girl who people find intriguing for some ridiculous reason, although she really wants them to just forget about her, and let her withdraw completely into her own head. i feel that way often, probably more than i should. i thought that feeling would possibly fade as i left my angsty teens, and then as i left my angsty early i'm kissing my mid-twenties goodbye in less than a month, and that feeling is still as strong as ever.

i've thought a lot about changing my name to adalia anderson ward. anderson is for Scott Anderson, the lead singer of Finger Eleven. ward is for Scooter Ward, the lead singer of Cold. they've been my two favourite bands for years now, and i could write a pretty good description of my life using quotes from just those two bands. i've never had the guts to actually go through with it. to this day, the only time i regularly go by the name adalia in public is when i sing karaoke.

it's a shame, really. one of the things i most resent about being "nicolle" (or even its derivative "nicky") to everyone is the fact that i didn't pick that moniker for myself. it's something that nags at me to look back toward a past that i spend every day of my life trying to get as far away from as i possibly can. i've been able to get away from some really big things in life that made it intolerable, like the suffocating town i grew up in as well as a horrifyingly bad career choice. however, i haven't been able to shed the name i was born with, and as much as i hate to admit it, the fact that i still have it is a mark of my inertia and cowardice.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

LJ Idol

i watched a few of my friends play LJ Idol last season...i didn't play, but it looked like there were some interesting writing prompts, and they wrote some really awesome stuff for it.

this season, i shall try my hand.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

i love the ' love musicals...

two nights ago, my roommate and i went out to karaoke. (well, we also went last night, but this story is from two nights ago.) a brief exchange we had after she searched the karaoke songs sums up our trips to karaoke in one nice little nutshell:

my roommate: boo! they don't have anything from Wicked!
me: what, the only song called "Popular" they had was by Nada Surf?
my roommate: how'd you know?
me: it's the most popular song called "Popular"! it's a '90s classic!

an eventful laundry day

suck of the night: when some apartment maintenance people were here on Saturday planning the heating work they're doing here next week, they unplugged the water drainage hose for the washer. they didn't tell us they unplugged the hose, so when i put my laundry in, it flooded the laundry area, the bathroom, and part of the hallway an inch or so deep.

sigh of relief: even though this happened around midnight, the landlord came with his mop and bucket, and got up most of the water.

win of the night: using one of my old law school t-shirts to wipe up the dusty, grimy dregs of the flooding. cathartic, that.

Friday, October 22, 2010

oh, people. :-/

i was googling for information on whether or not i could build a certain kind of utilities LiveCD with the hardware i was using. the first three words of my query were "can you make". i was halfway typing the third word, but i had to stop typing because the four searches google suggested were just so bizarre:

1. can you make money on youtube
2. can you mail alcohol
3. can you make money blogging
4. can you mail beer

my suggestion? sell videos of yourself doing dumb things under the influence of alcohol you order online, and promote it via a blog and some youtube teaser clips.

farking genius.

the main reason i read is for the headlines. the weird news is fun, and sometimes i read the threads, but my favourite thing about the site is seeing the clever one-liners people write about things.

and, today, i have seen what may be my favourite headline in my six-ish years of reading fark.

the headline stated "Evidence emerges that most "crazy teabaggers" at rallies are indeed plants."

...and the accompanying link pointed to a Missouri Botanical Garden page about the Caucasian Wingnut, a shade tree native to the Caucasus.

if this does not win Headline of the Year, i'm going to cry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

fool me thrice?

dear spammer,

i see you titled your email "find a path to the degree you want." i've already found a path to two degrees i thought i wanted at the time, but later figured out were mistakes. i'm not falling for that trap called "formal postsecondary education" again.

no love,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

fucking politics, how does it work?

Campaign 2010 has become the election year of the internet meme. cases in point:

we've got Christine O'Donnell's Bed Intruder parody.

we've got Joe Miller's Old Spice Guy parody.

and we've got Jimmy McMillan, whose Rent Is Too Damn High debate clips have in themselves become viral video.

screw it all. i'm casting a write-in vote for the lolrus for every position this year.

Friday, October 15, 2010

nom nom nope.

dear crack smokers,

am i going to have to spell everything out for you? i realise that's a rhetorical question, since you are crack smokers, and therefore not very likely to retain your logical reasoning faculties to any discernible extent.

that said, i apologise for my frustration. i'm really just trying to help. i know i've told you a million times here already that eating your crack is a bad way to get rid of the evidence. it's probably just going to make you sick...but i know it seems like a good idea under pressure. finding some way to get it into your system is tempting, since you want that last hit of cracktastic goodness before you're thrown in the [ostensibly crack-free] pokey for a while. i understand your thought process here.

however, i never dreamed in a million years that i would have to make the following suggestion:

for the love of crack, do not eat your crackpipe!

crackpipes are not delicious. crackpipes are made of glass. they will shatter into a million pieces, and you'll be spending the rest of your life plucking the little bits of your crackpipe out of your tongue, gums, and cheeks. if you swallow it, you will either die or be sent to the hospital for them to try and get the shards of your favourite crackpipe out of your esophagus and your stomach. i can only imagine that the hospital bills alone will amount to enough money to pay for all the crack you could ever want for the rest of your life. there's no way you will be able to eat a crackpipe without Officer Friendly seeing what you did there.

this is not a worthwhile trade for what little crack residue may still be on your pipe. even a crack-addled brain should be able to understand this...and, for not quite getting it, our friend in Oklahoma has found a place in the list of crack smokers who are too stupid to take refuge at the Last Refuge of the Persecuted Crack Smoker.

in other words, don't be this guy. don't eat your crackpipe.

the persecuted crack smoker

Thursday, October 14, 2010

naughty, naughty

i was looking up some documentation about Fortigate, a kind of firewall. the search page gave some rather special help text:

There is no page titled "fortigate". You can create this page.

Did you mean fornicate?

i wish, but i'd probably get fired for fornicating on the job. ^.^

B-Sides Ottawa, anyone?

are any of you who may be reading this trudging up to the Great White North for Security B-Sides Ottawa on November 12 and 13? just wondering, because this week i got the requisite days off work, got my plane ticket, and all systems are go for spending that weekend in Ottawa.

(if you haven't signed up, there are still slots, but you have to plan soon since it's 90% full as of this morning!)

i'm excited. i haven't been to Canada since i was a teenager; my junior year choir trip was to Toronto. i've never been to Ottawa, ever. even more importantly to me, there are a lot of cool talks planned (i'm most excited about the nmap scripting engine talk), and a lot of fun people are coming, so it should be a fabulous weekend.

i had just better not forget my passport when i leave for the airport. ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Meat Loaf did a cover of "It's All Coming Back To Me Now"?!?!?!

wow, it's terrible. and, yet, my life is somehow more complete because this exists.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

walk like a penguin!

this is my favourite ad ever.

when i was in eighth grade, i'd turn on the Weather Channel at 50 minutes after the hour every hour i was home, because Safe Step Ice Melter sponsored the winter weather update. this ad always ran at that time, like clockwork.

i don't know if it's the computer voice, the penguins, the people slipping on the ice, or all of the above, but this is pure genius!

...on Coming Out day

(i intended to write this yesterday, since it's a little reflection on national coming-out day, but since i spent yesterday at work, then completely insomniac and mentally dead, and then finally asleep from about 3-midnight, things didn't quite work out as planned.)

generally, i can't stand awareness-themed days. disease-awareness, children-awareness, such-and-such-a-sexuality-awareness, human-rights-issue-awareness...all those days usually end up driving me crazy because people try to pressure me into paying lip service to causes. if you actually care about an issue, you work it into your life every single day, and don't spend a day a week doing meaningless gestures like "donating" your facebook status or waving a sign for whatever the cause du jour happens to be.

however, i pretty much love national coming-out day. it's the one awareness-related observance that i can personally get behind, mainly because it doesn't feel like an empty gesture to me. it's not like most awareness-related days, where any observance i made of it would be something along the lines of "i'm saying something about it because it's this one day, and the other 364 days a year i put no thought whatsoever into it." instead, it actually feels like a way to start conversations about an issue that's very personal to me, an issue i think, read, and talk about on a daily basis.

i spent years in the closet because i wasn't comfortable enough with myself to tell people that i was bisexual, and i wasn't comfortable enough in my connections with other people to be confident that they'd be okay with it, instead of just thinking i was saying it for the attention. i remember how much it hurt to not be open or honest about my sexuality i frequently have discussions with people about sexuality: exploring it, figuring it out, becoming comfortable with it, and figuring out how open to be about it. i truly care about being in a world where people are comfortable enough to come to terms with their own sexuality, whatever it may happen to be.

in short, i like national coming out day because it's not an empty observance for me. it touches on something i care about every day out of the year. however, the reason i like the day is because it's personal. i'm never going to try and guilt someone else into doing something empty in observance of coming-out day, because i know how onboxious it is when people try to guilt me into doing something empty to draw attention to their causes (or, worse, draw attention to some cause that they're only emptily drawing attention to). i just let all the other this-and-that days blow past, because no matter how many guilt trips people post in their facebook statuses, twitter feeds, or would ring empty for me to tout that cause, since it's nothing i put any actual effort behind.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

song meme: day 30

Day 30: Your Favourite Song At This Time Last Year

it was October of 2009 when i first heard "Snuff" by Slipknot...and it was the first time in a long time that a new song really had much of an effect on me. i still really love this song, and think it describes things that go on in my head really, really well.


and so ends this music meme...and here's hoping i can devise some content that doesn't suck in the near future. :-/

right now what's really on my mind is the fact that i won't get to go to CCC this year. the fact that i'll have to miss 27c3 hit me like a ton of bricks this week...i got a preorder offer since i was an angel (con volunteer) last year, which would have been awesome because the line to buy CCC tickets on site is absolutely horrendous. but, there's just no way i can take that whole week between christmas and new year's off of work. i have enough vacation days to do it, but there's just not enough shift cover to go around during the holidays. that's the drag of working at a 24/7 place, and the fact that the con is between christmas and new year's.

the way it stands, i'm going to be ringing in 2011 at work, and not in Berlin. i'm heartbroken over this, but i know it's how it has to be.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

song meme: day 29

Day 29: A Song From Your Childhood

nowadays, i could not be more ambivalent about The Beatles. i know a lot of people still like them, but i find most of their stuff kind of...boring. however, when i was a kid, i listened to pretty much nothing but sixties music. i was so proud of myself the first time i finally Learned The Words To A Song I Heard On The Radio. that first radio song i ever learned was this one, "Eight Days A Week".

Friday, October 08, 2010

song meme: day 28

Day 28 - A Song That Makes You Feel Guilty

"Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies. enough said.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

song meme: day 27

Day 27: A Song That You Wish You Could Play

there are a lot i could put here...but i've really, really always wanted to accompany myself on the piano while singing "My Immortal" by Evanescence. i can sing the song really, really well...but trying to learn how to play it on the piano was a total disaster.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

song meme: days 22-26

despite the fact that i've had home internet since monday, i've just been so uninspired to write these last couple days that i've fallen five days behind on this thing. then again...i can't promise this will be well written, since i'm not inspired to write even now. i'm just...not liking being five days behind on this.

i'm also fucking cranky tonight. can you tell?

anyway, here goes.

Day 22: A Song You Listen To When You’re Sad

maybe i'm weird. maybe i'm masochistic. but, when i'm sad, i only like to listen to songs that are sad. then again, most of the time i only like to listen to songs that are sad, because there's no better way to piss me off than to shove happiness in my face. but, when i'm sad, i like to listen to a song that makes me feel like somebody somewhere gets how i'm feeling and understands why i can't be happy or satisfied.

and, often, "Kody" by Matchbox20 fits that bill.

Day 23: A Song You Want To Play At Your Wedding


*catches her breath*


me? getting married? you must have confused me with someone else. seriously. i'm never getting married...there's no way i can look anyone in the eye and say "'til death do us part." me getting married is only a recipe for me getting divorced, and the fact that i believe in making good on promises i make to people i care about means i can't actually promise someone i care about the rest of my life, knowing that the odds are against me actually being able to give them that much. so, as a message to anyone who would prod me toward marriage...i bring you "Fuck You" by Wesley Willis.

Day 24: A Song That You Want To Play At Your Funeral

i want my funeral to be a celebration of me and all the things i thought were awesome in life. as such, at my funeral, i want people to play songs i love. people usually think of playing hymns at a funeral...and maybe there'll be a bit of Pretty Choral Music at my funeral, since there's a good bit of Pretty Choral Music i love in life. however, there had also better be some good rock music at my funeral, since there's no music i love more than that. and, if one song is responsible for getting me started listening to good rock music, it's this one: "The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe.

Day 25: A Song That Makes You Laugh

duracells...energizers...automatic circumcisers...yeah, i can think of a good choice for this one. :)

"Hardware Store" by Weird Al Yankovic, for the win.

(although "Trapped In The Drive-Thru" was really tempting.)

Day 26: A Song That You Can Play On An Instrument

me? play an instrument? that's a funny one. seriously, i suck at musical instruments. they require finger dexterity, something that i very much do not possess.

the closest i can come to this is "a song to which i taught myself the guitar solo when i was in high school": "Like A Stone" by Audioslave. i never could play the rest of the song, and only vaguely remember the solo, but given my instrumental ineptitude, it's the best i can do.

Friday, October 01, 2010

song meme: day 21

Day 21: A Song You Listen To When You’re Happy

i'm not sure i really have a go-to song when i'm happy. i don't go, "school's closed, and some dude just gave me twenty bucks for a dead bird. today's a good day. next, i think i'll go turn on some music." the opposite happens...i'm having a neutral day or even a sucky one, i turn some music on to fill in some perceived empty space or to give me some emotional support, and the day gets better. but, i can't think of the last time that happiness was what led me to turn on music.

however, i do have an answer for a song i associate with loudly singing when i'm happy [and possibly somewhat inebriated]: "Kenesaw Mountain Landis" by Jonathan Coulton.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

song meme: days 19 and 20

Day 19 - a song from your favourite album

my favourite album? there are several albums that rank up there...albums that have several great songs, the rest good songs, and nary a clunker to be found. that's the thing...most albums, even by bands i love, have a song or two that just aren't up to snuff.

but, if i had to pick one album...i'd probably go with "Secret Samadhi" by Live. never before and never since did Live do an album that was nearly as good as that one. it was their experiment with being harder-edged, and i'm annoyed that so many people thought it was a failed experiment, or just not up to snuff with "Throwing Copper". it was a different animal, not what people were expecting...but it was better, and almost anything i listen to by Live anymore is off this album

Day 20 - a song that you listen to when you’re angry

for as unhappy [and even angry] as most of the music i listen to may be, i really don't get angry all that often. it's just not my personality. however, sometimes things get under my skin enough to make me truly angry. and, nowadays, when that happens...i'm most likely to play "Tears Don't Fall" by Bullet For My Valentine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

song meme: day 18

Day 18: a song that you wish you heard on the radio

wow...i could go on all day about this one. i could go on all year about this one. between the non-album tracks by bands you do hear on the radio, and the songs by all the random local artists i listen to that have never really gotten any radio play over the years, i could answer this with something along the lines of "the vast majority of my iPod, silly!"

but, so as not to be writing this all day (or expecting you to spend the rest of the year watching thousands of videos), i'll narrow it down to one. and, today, that one is "The Nurse with Amnesia" by Shades of Fiction. they were a local band in Chicago in the mid-aughts...who i was lucky enough to see a few times in concert, and to have a few songs from in demos and compilations. in fact, the handle faceless-wonder (which i use on livejournal and dreamwidth) came from another one of their songs, "Faceless Wonder of the World". but, as much as i like that song...i like this one better. :)

the Chicago music scene really lost out when these guys broke up.

Monday, September 27, 2010

huh-huh. cool.

Beavis: "whoa, hey, check it out! i think that's that bell that they, like, taught us about in history class...where they, like, rang it, and it put a big crack in it?"
Butt-Head: "no, Beavis. you're thinking of Bible class, when they talked about how God created the butt."
Beavis: "oh yeah, yeah. and then He created poop."
Butt-Head: "yeah. that's in that Doo-doo-ronomy section."
Beavis: "the Bible kicks ass!"

song meme: days 16 and 17

Day 16: a song that you used to love but now hate

this is a toughie. there are a lot of songs that i really adore at some point and then just get bored with...and there are songs i hated at some point, but eventually grew on me. however, i don't usually really love a song only to later hate it.

however, "Oh How Happy" by Shades of Blue was my favourite song over about the first half of elementary school, and now i find it awful. disgustingly awful. i can't bring myself to believe that i ever liked this bubblegum piece of crap, and listening to it kind of makes me sick.

i was a dumb kid.

Day 17: A song that you hear often on the radio

what is this "radio" of which you speak? it has been a long time since i've listened to terrestrial radio at all. for the most part, the radio i listen to nowadays consists of my Pandora stations, since Pandora keeps me company during those long nights at work. there are quite a few songs that come on there a lot...but i'll go with "I Don't Care" by Apocalyptica (featuring Adam Gontier, the lead singer of Three Days Grace), just because the song is awesome, and catchy, and i can't get enough of it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

i ♥ bad jokes.

i just popped open a terminal on one of the workstations in my office. this box runs Linux Mint, and it's configured to pop up a picture of an animal (this time, a penguin) saying a random quote. the one that just appeared cracked me up way more than it should have:

Q: What do you call the scratches that you get when a female sheep bites you?
A: Ewe nicks.


News Crack Smokers Can Use: September 25, 2010

if one phrase deserves to be crowned the refrain for this little corner of the internet, it's this one: hide your crack. crack is illegal, and the whole secret of happy crack smoking is not getting caught by the authorities, or by anyone who will turn you in to the authorities. however, there are good places to hide your crack, and bad places to hide your crack. Since this is News Crack Smokers Can Use and not Thickly Veiled Profiles Of Successful Crack Smokers Who Have Been Smoking Crack For Twenty Years But Never Arrested, however, we know what category all of these locations fall into. if you're not a crackhead, take pleasure in the fact that you're not as stupid as these people. if you are a can add these things to the list of what not to do if you don't want to get busted for being a crack smoker.

so, without further ado, i present this installment of News Crack Smokers Can Use:
  • Kinder Eggs are awesome, or so i've heard. they're not legal here in these United States, because some silly federal law prohibits the introduction of "non-nutritive items" into dubiously nutritive candy. however, crack smoking is a global pastime, and after growing up finding toys hidden in your chocolate eggs in Merry Old England, it may make sense to you that stashing crack in the beloved yellow plastic shell from your Kinder Eggs might be a good idea. however, the constable and his trusty drug dog probably love Kinder Eggs as much as you do, and will find your hidden surprise.
  • contrary to what you may believe, placing crack rocks next to something legal does not qualify at all as hiding your crack. it will not fool people into thinking that the crack rocks are also legal, unless the people are too dumb or too inexperienced to know better. for example, it's probably not such a good idea to set your crack rocks on a plate next to your toddlers' snack food. your toddlers probably don't even know what crack is yet, and are still at an age of experimenting the bounds of what is food, and what is not. the police, however, are a few years older...and will probably not only slap you with crack charges, but also with child endangerment charges.
  • choosing a place to hide your crack requires a sophisticated balancing analysis. sure, you need to put it in a place where police are unlikely to find it, but that is not the only consideration. you also want to put it in a place where you can retrieve it later in prime smoking condition. otherwise, even though you had crack at one point, your attempts to hide it from the authorities have made it unfit to provide you with crack-smoking pleasure: and you'd be better off not having bought it in the first place. what does this mean? in short, you should probably refrain from hiding eleven pounds of crack in the gas tank of your automobile, and then actually trying to fill the tank. sure, Officer Friendly is probably not going to rifle through your gas tank, even for such a stupendous amount of crack. however...your crack might go boom. your car might go boom. you might go boom. congratulations, anonymous couple in Brazil: you have made it onto the roster of crack smokers who are too stupid to take refuge at The Last Refuge of the Persecuted Crack Smoker. i hope you're happy.
that's it for this round of News Crack Smokers Can Use! as always, if you have any strange or stupid tales of the lengths to which people will go to smoke or sell crack, send me an email, drop me a comment, or post it on the big light-up sign outside of the United Center.

song meme: day 15

Day 15 – a song that describes you

it's probably bad that the answer to this prompt has been the same song for nigh on ten years now, but there you go. no matter what other changes happen, no matter how many wrong turns i take or stupid things i do...i'm always going to be well-described by "The Way You Like it" by Adema. it's a song all about being a person who does all kinds of idiotic things, and gets frustrated by self-righteous asshats who don't remember when they did all kinds of idiotic things.

Friday, September 24, 2010

song meme: day 14

Day 14 - A song that no one would expect you to love

this is a tough one. most of the songs that are so unlike the other stuff i listen to that no one would expect me to like them, i've publicly expressed my love for them enough that people have figured out that i love them.

like...pretty much anything by Kelly Clarkson. Kelly Clarkson is awesome, and anyone who says otherwise is just plain wrong.

or Meat Loaf. i've professed my undying love for all songs Meat Loaf on many, many occasions. in fact, i think i'll do it again right now. did i ever mention Meat Loaf is awesome? because yes. Meat Loaf is awesome.

the least-expected stuff in my playlist, by a long shot, is the smattering of Christian Rock that inevitably pops up in it. it's weird...when i listen to internet radio that i can control (a la Pandora or Launchcast), there are always a few bands that pop up, and i was shocked to find out that some of them i really, really liked...even though i'm not Christian. as long as the lyrics are not trying to shove something down my throat, it's really easy to just kick back and rock out if i liked the sound of it. thinking i couldn't do that for religiously motivated music had been a misconception i had previously held.

in that vein, i'm going with "Analogue" by Spirit Creek for this one. i first heard it years ago, probably around 2003 or 2004, when it started popping up on the best radio station on the entire intertubes. i had no inkling that it was a Christian song, or a religious song at all...the lyrics could just as well be applied to any kind of self-discovery, i feel. finding out that they were a Christian band is what made me face and change that idea that there was no way i could listen to Christian music at all...because some of it was just too darn good to reject for such a stupid reason.

there's no youtube video for it, but there is a download link on the radio.wazee website, or you can stream it from their band page on radio.wazee.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

song meme: day 13

Day 13: a song you think is a guilty pleasure

there are few songs i think are guilty pleasures. but, there are a few. there are a few songs i feel truly awful about liking, but i like them anyway. this is a song that i feel so awful about liking that i almost put it up yesterday, as a song by a band i hate. because...this is a band i hate. this is a band who falls into the same category as Puddle of Mudd, as a band who gives the rest of nineties/early-aughts alt-rock/nu-metal/post-grunge/whateverthefuckyouwanttocallthatawesomemusic a really bad name. most of this band's music is terrible.

but, unlike Puddle of Mudd, they put out a few tunes that are just so catchy and fun to listen to that i have to crank them every so often.

what's really sad is that i had to actually pick which one to post among four Limp Bizkit songs, since there are actually four of their songs that i like. i went with "Nookie", but i could have just as well picked "Rollin'", "My Way", or "Break Stuff". i am truly an awful person.

...i just went with "Nookie" because of the several conversations with friends of mine that have turned into lengthy discourses about the ramifications of taking "that cookie" and sticking it up one's "yeah".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

song meme: days 11 and 12

again, playing catch-up.

soon i'll have more reliable internet access. all my tubes since i moved have been either tethered to my phone, at work, or at coffeehouses. we should have DSL at home come October 4, though... *crosses fingers*

Day 11 — A song from your favourite band

i have two favourite i won't discriminate. i'll post one from each.

first..."she said" by cold. seriously, if i had to pick a favourite song of all time, it would probably be this one. cold has a lot of amazing songs, but none quite so well woven together as this one.

and, second..."costume for a gutterball" by finger eleven. it was rather difficult to pick just one of their songs. all i know is, it's a shame that everyone knows them for "one thing" and "paralyzer", because they've been putting out great music since the mid-nineties. i almost put "stay in shadow" since it's my favourite song on the self-titled album as well as the antithesis of what they're known for...but there's just something about "costume for a gutterball" that does a little more to speak to my life at this point.

Day 12 — A song from a band you hate

puddle of mudd sucks. this song sucks. seriously, it's bands like puddle of mudd that give good, rocking nineties alt-rock bands a bad name.

really, i only posted this because it encapuslates the spirit of the item of the meme, posting a song by a band you hate. if you respect your ears at all, you're not going to press play. why?

because puddle of mudd really, really sucks.

Monday, September 20, 2010

song meme: days 9 and 10

Day 09: A Song That You Can Dance To
no song makes me want to dance like "Ark of the Envious" makes me want to dance. this is Brian Vander Ark singing it solo, although it was originally on The Verve Pipe's 1992 album I've Suffered A Head Injury. still, this version captures the MUST GET UP AND DANCE NOW feeling of the original...fortunately, he's performing the song as i know it, and didn't hack it to pieces like he did "1229 Sheffield".

(and...the realisation that I've Suffered A Head Injury is eighteen years old makes me feel positively ancient. sure, i know, i didn't even hear the album until 1997, but still...file that away with the fact that i moved to college 10 years ago this weekend, and that my 10 year high school reunion was this weekend1, and i'm in a major state of Get Off My Lawn.)

Day 10: A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep

i can't say there's a song that makes me fall asleep per se, but i find listening to anything off of Snake River Conspiracy's album Sonic Jihad around bedtime to be extremely soothing. it's great winding-down music.


1 no, i didn't go to my 10-year reunion this weekend. i didn't see the point. i don't generally keep in touch with people from high school, and i really didn't want to blow all that money and time going to a place i can't stand, and trying to remember and relive days i'd rather forget. it was tempting, as a matter of car-crash fascination, but i think i did the right thing staying in Chicago this weekend and spending what would have been reunion night singing karaoke with my friends here in Chicago.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

News (Possible) Crack Smokers Can Use

this week in Metro Detroit, there has been the invasion of the stupid criminals.

Confidential to my friend in Ferndale: i get the allure of the party store1. really, i do. it's a magic emporium in which you can purchase all sorts of delicious beer, liquor, and related paraphernalia. however, in order to leave the party store with libations instead of another line on your rap sheet, it is generally recommended that you bring money to exchange for the goods. failing that, you are most likely to avoid that line on your rap sheet if you hide your identity before entering the store. yes...this means you should have put on that Darth Vader mask *before* walking into the store and having your moment under the lenses of the security camera. otherwise, you just make it far too easy for Officer Friendly to find you

Confidential to my friend in Royal Oak: we're all human beings here. when you've got to go, you've got to go. sometimes it's hard to hold it. and, if you're a guy, you have the advantage of being able to find a secluded corner, whip it out, and relieve yourself with a minimum of fuss. however, the key words there are "secluded corner." the side of the police station is not a secluded corner. and, even if you've gone that far, your next course of action after peeing on the side of the police station should be getting as far away from the police station as possible, as quickly as possible. it should not be wandering into the police station to report something.

i don't know if either of these guys were on crack, but i wouldn't be surprised if they were. if they weren't, though...they can consider themselves honourary crack smokers, for going above and beyond the call of duty for non-crack-addled stupid people.

1 what i don't quite get, however, is why Michiganders uniformly call liquor stores "party stores".

song meme: day 8

Day 08: A Song You Know All The Words To

wow...this is a large category. i know all the words to a lot of songs...and to pick just one of them? le sigh...

i'll pick "iron flower" by k's choice. why? because i've loved it since i first heard it back in '97, and to this day i'm really, really sad that there's no karaoke track for it. there are few things i want more than a vocals-less track for this and someone to sing Gert's part while i do Sarah's.

(and yes, i know Gert's part as well, but Sarah's is more fun. and, since singing this song is my idea, i call dibs on Sarah's part!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

song meme: day 7

Day 07: A Song That Reminds You Of A Certain Event

in May of 2008, i went on my first of [so far...] 3 ScavHunt roadtrips. this one was all over rural Kansas, and most of the terrestrial radio stations sucked. fortunately, there was satellite radio in the car. the station played the same few songs over and over again. one of the songs it overplayed was some song by some terrible indie darling of the month; fortunately, i have blocked it out of my memory rather effectively. the other, however, was "handlebars" by flobots.

i heart this song.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

song meme: day 6

Day 06 - A song that reminds you of somewhere
this reminds me of sitting at my desk at my summer job in 2002. kind of lame, i know, but it's a really good song...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

song meme: days 4 and 5

okay, we're playing a bit of catch-up here...

Day 04 - A song that makes you sad
"1229 Sheffield" is one of the saddest songs ever...and still, one of my favourites. i could only find a version of Brian Vander Ark doing it solo, but if you can get your hands on The Verve Pipe's version from the Clay Pigeons soundtrack, i suggest you do, because it's even better. (hint: if you see me IRL, i have it on my iPod.)

Day 05 - A song that reminds you of someone
the first song that popped in my head was "dizzy" by orgy, but apparently there isn't a video of that song anywhere. again, find me and my iPod, and i'll gladly play it for you.'s another one that reminds me of someone, someone different than the previous song: "in the dark" by tiesto, featuring christian burns.

Monday, September 13, 2010

North Carolina, born and raised up...

dumb: trying to bring a gun on your airplane carry-on luggage.
dumber: trying to bring a gun on your airplane carry-on luggage if you are a convicted felon.
even dumber: trying to bring a stolen gun on your airplane carry-on luggage if you are a convicted felon.

then again, i guess we learned about ten years ago that old Petey Pablo isn't the brightest crayon in the box.

song meme: day 3

Day 03 - A song that makes you happy

heh-heh. they say butt.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

song meme: day 2

Day 02 - Your least favourite song

there are more songs i dislike than like...but fortunately, there is one clear-cut choice for Worst Song Ever. any song in which Chad Kroeger sings about screwing around with jailbait must win worst song ever.

...and yes, i say this as someone who actually enjoys a handful of Nickelback songs. for example..."Leader of Men" is the ultimate paean to apathy, and a damned fun karaoke song. but this? this song sucks.

Friday, September 10, 2010

song meme: day 1

okay...itswhatiam has been doing a music meme in his livejournal for a few days. i'm...blatantly stealing it. ^.^

Day 01 - Your favourite song at the moment

these days, i keep cranking "Reclusion" by Anberlin...over, and over, and over again.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

a governor and some hackers walk into a bar...

last Saturday night, i went out to Chief O'Neill's with my roommate Christina and another friend Robert, just for a drink and some conversation. for those of you who don't know the Chief's, it's an irish pub on the north side, the place where i used to run trivia. it's a couple blocks from the hackerspace, and it's usually pretty quiet and low-key.

i say usually, because last Saturday things got a little interesting.

maybe half an hour after we had gotten to the bar, our friend said we should turn around and take a look behind us, toward the bar. the first thing i saw was a little kid, and i wondered what was so interesting about that. (yes, Chicago bars are 21-and-over, but this place does enough business in food that it must fall under some kind of restaurant provision instead.) he told us to look up.

looking up, i laid eyes on the most perfect helmet of politician hair on earth: it was the one, the only...Rod Blagojevich.

we immediately cracked up; what were the odds that our former governor would be hanging out at the same bar where we were? part of me just wanted to leave him alone. he's a person, too, and he was there just hanging out with some people, having a drink, talking...basically, there for the same reason i was there that night. but, on the other hand, he is the former governor of our state and a rather interesting character, and he had already given at least one person a photo-op...meeting him or having a picture of him would be awesome.

i can't remember if it was Christina or Robert who came up with the idea, but one of theme suggested the greatest idea ever. this bar is about two blocks from pumping station: one. over a year ago, someone at ps:one had been looking for something else, but brought back a strange find from somewhere in the neighbourhood: a very large Blagojevich campaign sign from the 2006 election. even earlier that night, Christina had noted that it was there, and wondered why the space still had something so useless. the suggestion to make it not useless involved carrying the sign from the space to the bar, and doing a few pictures with it...and the ex-governor, of course.

then things got crazy. first, Geoffrey, the only person at the space whose phone number we had, wasn't picking up. so, Christina and Robert left to go to the space to fetch the sign themselves. about halfway there, Geoffrey finally did call back, so Robert and Christina came back to Chief's. after they got back but before the sign arrived, Rod Blagojevich and his party got up to leave.

we decided that even if we didn't get the sign, we wanted a picture with them anyway. so, we came down, and asked for a picture. he was nice to us...said hello, asked us if we lived nearby, shook our hands, smiled. he bore with me as my cruddy cell phone camera was trying to start up.

as my cell phone camera started up, the ps:one contingent rolled in with the enormous Blagojevich sign.

he asked us where we had the sign, or why. once people realised what was going on, it turned from a few people taking pictures to...craziness. lots of people in the bar came over with cameras, cell phones, anything; even some people from the wedding reception in the next room over came in for pictures. it became strangely like...a rally for a politician who will never again hold office.

he was a great sport about it; he posed for pictures, and even signed our sign. soon after, he was on his way.

...and it was a wonderfully absurd night.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


i just had one of the best weekends i've had in a long, long time.

my only complaint about it is that it was way too short.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


i've finally gotten a dreamwidth account. if you're on there, feel free to come say hi.

i haven't quite decided what to do with it yet. maybe it'll be a crosspost with this and my livejournal; i'm pretty sure that's what it will be at least starting out. as time goes on, we'll see.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

a letter

dear security guard,

if the only thing that's wrong is that a perfectly legitimate customer that you've already checked out and let into the cage has an expired hand-scan, don't preface your phone call with "we have a situation here, and he's coming toward your office now." that, in combination with the insistent knocking on my office door that occurred when you said that, is enough to really freak me out. a "situation" would be a deranged guy with a knife who had made clear his intent to stab me. a customer with an expired hand-scan warrants prefacing your phone call with a more moderate "could you please come talk to him about what he needs." there's no need to scare me here.

no love,

Saturday, August 21, 2010

summer songs redux

livejournal's question of the day asks what the three all-time best summer songs are.

before getting into my top three, i have a weird concept of summer songs. i know i had an entry last summer about my summer songs for every summer since 1997...and most of them aren't bouncy and "summery" so much as snapshots of where my life stood during those particular summers. this summer's song is no different; i'm pretty well sure that "reclusion" by anberlin is marked indelibly as the song of summer 2010, and that's yet another anthem for the irreparably screwed-up.

counting this, i have fourteen "summer songs"...and among those, here are my top three. they're in no particular order, since they all make my list for such different reasons:
  • Summer of 2009: "Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel" by Barenaked Ladies -- as much as people associate Barenaked Ladies with fun, poppy, happy tunes...i think they do the plaintive and depressing so much better. and, it doesn't hurt that i'm reminded of HAR every time i listen to this song; any song that takes me back to a hacker camp in a remote area of The Netherlands has an almost unfair advantage for any list of summer songs.
  • Summer of 1998: "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger -- this song is happier than i have any business listening to, but whenever the music at the nerd camp dances that summer was bad, one of my friends and i would hit the dance floor, sing this song as loud as we possibly could, and dance to it instead.
  • Summer of 2005: "Time To Waste" by Alkaline Trio -- the seamless weaving between the piano riff in the beginning and the guitars is awesome. seriously, i'm a sucker for that kind of thing...if i had to pick a favourite song ever, it would be "She Said" by Cold, which pulls the same kind of trick [but, unfortunately, can't be on this list because it's not indelibly tied to a summer.] this song is an awesome ode to having to deal with really, really screwed up people.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the law school scam...isn't.

i'm no longer a lawyer, but i still keep my toe ever-so-slightly dipped into the blawgosphere. i still read above the law religiously. even though it's a world i'm no longer part of, i still find it occasionally entertaining and more-than-occasionally interesting to keep an eye on that world, since i did make the mistake of dabbling in it myself for a little while.

over the last year or two, there has arisen a whole genre of "scamblogs": blogs written by law school graduates that refer to law school as a scheme that convinced people to part with large amounts of money, enticed by promises of high starting salaries and financial security. these blogs are getting quite a bit of media attention now that the Newark Star-Ledger has recently published an article about the writer of one of the older and more well-known scamblogs out there, big debt, small law [which is currently offline; the link goes to a cached version].

it's an interesting, and on some level, tempting argument made by this genre of blogs, but i think it is completely wrong. i think it's completely wrong even though law school has financially ruined me, and was by far the biggest mistake of my life for that reason and several others.

the argument that law school is a scam is rather tempting. a lot of people who go to law school are enticed by the six-figure starting salaries at Douchebag & Douchebag LLP, and sign their lives away gladly, thinking they'll make big money and be able to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. it's really easy to blame law schools for this. law schools don't come out of this smelling like roses, since the goal of their recruiting is to bring in a full class of students each year who are willing to pay the tuition and fees...and, preferably, bring in a full class of students with higher entrance statistics than the previous year, so as to raise their ranking and justify charging even more money next year. they have no incentive to highlight the fact that not every marginally bright person who goes to law school gets one of those high-paying jobs, or even gets a legal job at all. they have no incentive to bring prospective students' attention to the bimodal distribution of legal starting salaries. they have no incentive to portray the potential drawbacks of going to law school.

but, that's not enough to make it the law school's fault that law school ruined my life, your life, or anyone else's life. the argument that law school is a scam rests on the flawed idea that it's a law school's responsibility to portray both its good side and its bad side to potential students. in short, it's not.

would it be nice if they portrayed law school realistically? sure. but, law school is a product, just like anything else. very few products are required to advertise how using them could blow up in your face; the only things i can think of that have to talk in their promotional materials about potential negative side effects are prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products. ads for subprime mortgages or credit cards always focused on what you can get, not the stress of paying them off. fleabag motels don't actually put pictures of their nasty beds in their advertisements. dicey vacation areas always show pictures of pristine beaches, not shantytowns. how do you find out what's bullshit in the advertising, and what the reality of the product is?

you do your research.

you find out what kind of work a lawyer has to do, and you find out whether you'd enjoy doing that sort of work or not. you find out what the distribution of incomes in the legal field is. you find out whether you'd be able to stand a job in biglaw if you actually managed to get one. you find out whether you'd realistically be able to pay off the exorbitant amount of debt if you can't get a job in biglaw. you assess your interests, capabilities, and life goals, and decide if being an attorney fits in with that. you decide whether making the sacrifice of going to law school is worth it. and, you ask yourself, whether you're willing to take the hit, to live with all that debt and all those years of your life, lost, if you find out that being a lawyer is not all it's cracked up to be.

for some people, it's worth it. for me and many others, it isn't.

i don't blame law school [either the specific one i went to, or the more general institution of law school] for the fact that law school was the biggest mistake of my life. i blame myself. i did some of my homework, but i didn't do all of it. i had insufficient experience in the real-world to realise how crushing all that debt would feel. i didn't take off my rose-coloured glasses and realise that the legal profession was as stodgy as it is, and that i didn't have the energy or desire to fight the good fight for weirdos in the legal profession. i didn't think critically enough about the actual work that lawyers do to realise that i'd find it unsatisfying--until i was actually out of school and faced with the reality of having to do it full-time. in short, i wasn't scammed. i did something really impulsive and stupid, and i have to pay the price for it for the rest of my life. it's my fault.

in short, calling law school a scam is an excuse. it's an attempt to shift responsibility for doing insufficient research and making a stupid decision away from yourself and onto someone else.

pure, distilled cute

along a happier line...this is just too cute not to share.

sleep schedule? what sleep schedule?

i have come to the conclusion that as long as i work third shift, i am not going to have any semblance of a "regular" sleep schedule.

i work 9pm-7am, tuesday night through saturday night. ten-hour days don't seem much different than eight-hour days when i'm at work, but i really feel the difference between having sixteen hours per workday of not-work versus fourteen. between that and the craziness that is my [lack of] sleep schedule, i don't do a whole lot during the work week other than get ready for work, go to work, sleep, and maybe veg out for an hour or two.

then, my weekends are just long enough that i decide i can unset and then reset my sleep schedule over them. since i don't socialize at all during the week, i generally build my sleep schedule between saturday morning and tuesday night around whatever social engagements arise. often they involve leaving town; sometimes (like this weekend) they don't. either way, it's a very inconsistent way to arrange a sleep schedule, but it's what i need to do to stay sane on some level. i'm willing to make sacrifices, but a complete sacrifice of my social life is not one i'm willing to make. if i have to sacrifice having any kind of regular sleep schedule, so be it. i've given up enough of my social life for various reasons lately; i'm not surrendering any more of it.

Monday, August 09, 2010


i have a free moment for blogging...and can't think of anything interesting to say. of course, this happens.

i've been pretty busy lately, between work and getting out of town for random overnight trips. last weekend, i was in Detroit for Maker Faire. i hung out with friends, and shot small children with Twinkies (thanks to the wonder of the i3Detroit Twinkiemobile. this past weekend, i was also in Detroit. [guess i just can't stay away from that city!] i got back to Chicago yesterday, and i'm feeling more relaxed and happy than i have in a while.

okay, back to drinking coffee and catching up on the intertubes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

a monkey in a tux

they show Fox "News" on the television in the lobby of one of the floors in the data center where i work. i have to wait by the television whenever i go in and out of this floor, while i wait for the locked man-trap doors to release. therefore, i always get little eyefuls and earfuls of that drivel.

it drives me crazy that it's matter whether you agree with it or not, it's at least too polarizing to be appropriate as background noise in a professional setting.

however, just now i saw the most fitting snippet ever: Glenn Beck was wearing a suit and glasses in a ridiculous attempt to appear erudite, as he was pointing at and blathering about a poorly drawn cartoon.

if that's not Fox "News" in a nutshell, i don't know what is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

the city that definitely sleeps

wow, chicago is a different city when you work the night shift.

this has been my first "normal" off-time since i switched shifts...after my first week of nights Mark came to visit and i moved, and after my second week of night shifts was HOPE. last night and tonight, however, it has hit me like a ton of bricks how few late-night hangout options there are in this city that aren't bars.

last night, i went to a circus out near wicker park. after it, i wandered through wicker park trying to find late-night food. i didn't want to drink. i didn't want to eat Drunk Food (TM) like flash taco or underdog. i wanted to eat something delicious. and, it was damned near impossible. i finally ended up at a place i always thought was a diner, since it advertised "late night dining" and was done up like a diner...only to find out that it was a douchey bar, and the kitchen was only open until 1am. fortunately, they took some pity on me and made me a flatbread pizza, but seriously...if you are advertising yourselves as a "late night dining" option, i shouldn't have to arouse your pity in order for you to make me some food at 1 o'clock in the morning.

tonight, i wanted to get out of my apartment for a while, drink some coffee, and use the internet. sure, i can tether to my phone at home, but it's slow as all-get-out, and i wanted to actually download stuff, update some software, that kind of thing. the lack of twenty-four hour coffee shops in this town is just...pitiful. i live at washington and damen, and the closest twenty-four hour coffee shop i could find with free wireless was at clark and argyle. sure, there are two closer twenty-four hour starbucks, but they don't have free wi-fi, and the dearth of power plugs in those places is just appalling. i had never been to the one at clark and argyle, but decided it was worth a try. i'm here now, and i have no's quiet, the connection is speedy, the coffee is good, and there are a ton of power plugs. however, the fact that i had to go from washington and damen all the way to clark and argyle in order to get late night coffee with a side of intertubes is just ridiculous.

(hint: if you're thinking of starting a business in chicago, start an all-night internet cafe in the united center district, or even the west loop. i will be there all the time.)

i knew this was coming. there's so much i love about this city, but it's just not the same between the hours of midnight and 6am. sure, if i want to go out drinking, there are plenty of places that will have me covered until 2am and 4am, depending on their license. but, as much as i like to go out drinking, sometimes i want to do something that doesn't involve going to a bar and dealing with the kinds of barflies who stay until closing time on a sunday night. then, on top of that, 4am isn't my bedtime. my bedtime is more like 9am or 10am.

sigh. i don't know how much i can do about this, and i should probably get some reliable intertubes and good coffee at home. still annoys me that there's so little here this late at night. it's the middle of the day as far as my body is concerned, and i don't want to have to be cooped up at home every night i'm off, unless i want to bar-hop. that's just depressing.


unrelatedly, apparently i write like cory doctorow. maybe this makes me a bad hacker, but i still have yet to pick up one of his books.

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Sunday, July 18, 2010

a disjointed post-HOPE update

HOPE is over.

i'm exhausted, mentally and physically. i guess i always am, after a con, but i'm not used to this kind of exhaustion. by the last day of the con, my ability to socialize was basically zero. of course, i fought my way through it today and tried to be as social as possible, because the fact remains that cons are the only time i can see most of my friends who don't live anywhere near me. i wish i could put my finger on why i'm feeling this way, but i can't.

my talk went okay. honestly, i don't think i executed it quite as well as i did at notacon, but i don't think i bombed it either. i did get lost in my words a few times, though, and sometimes i didn't quite put my points as eloquently as i wanted. i got the dvd with the talk on there; eventually i'll watch it, although it'll probably take a few weeks (or months) until i muster up the nerve to watch it.

i went on radio statler, the streaming radio station from the con, a couple of times. friday night, a bunch of us went into the studio with murd0c for drunken silliness and randomness. there wasn't so much a topic for the show, it was just us goofing off a lot and talking about whatever crossed our minds, but it was a lot of fun to do. then, saturday afternoon, i had my planned timeslot. i did an advice show...although people asked some of the most ridiculous questions on IRC. (the phones weren't working so well, so we had very few calls in...most of our interaction was with people on IRC.) bunni3 and a few others dropped in to help give advice and banter on the air, and a good time was had by all...i think. :)

the hacker karaoke event last night was a lot of fun. there were some cool people who i didn't get to spend enough time with at the con otherwise, so it was a lot of fun to talk to them. i sang a lot of songs (five that i actually signed up for, plus a few that i was randomly pulled on to do...), and somehow my voice held up despite the fact that the event was right after my talk. people seemed to like what i sang and how i sang, so that was good.

anyway...this is rather disjointed, and doesn't make any sense. but, that's about all that's coming out right now, since the con just ended a couple of hours ago, and i'm just now getting some food in me and getting enough alone time that i can even begin to decompress. i have one more night in new york (i fly back to chicago tomorrow), and part of me really wants to figure out something fun to do tonight. maybe some of the HOPE people are going to be doing something, or maybe i'll head off to the party that alpha one labs, a hackerspace in brooklyn, is having tonight. who knows.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

an academic mess

kenneth howell, an adjunct professor at the university of illinois, was recently dismissed from his post. the news-gazette published the contents of two emails: an email written by a student who complained, and an email written by professor howell to the class.

on one hand, the professor's letter fails at a few points. for one, it gets really condescending at one point. he states that: "All I ask as your teacher is that you approach these questions as a thinking adult. That implies questioning what you have heard around you. Unless you have done extensive research into homosexuality and are cognizant of the history of moral thought, you are not ready to make judgments about moral truth in this matter. All I encourage is to make informed decisions." this is really patronising. i don't think it's a teacher's place to talk down to students, and this rings heavily of "maybe you think you disagree with me, but it's only because you're a greenie and i've been around the block a few times. when in doubt, trust me." i'm not sure what the test question was--whether it was to discuss how Catholics would critique utilitarianism, or if it required students to come down themselves on whether Catholic natural moral law or utilitarianism provided a better moral framework through which to organise our reality, but either way this part of the letter came off patronising.

secondly, his choice of an example may have been unnecessarily inflammatory. i sort of question his motives when a student question (or a perceived omission of a certain connection in a lecture) led to such a graphic screed against homosexuality. he knows it's a hot button issue, and he knows people are likely to get offended if such an example was used. on one hand, simply because something has the chance of offending people doesn't make it verboten as an academic topic--such an outlook would stifle academic freedom. but, on the other hand, i don't think the goal of proving some clarity about what utilitaritanism is and how it differs from Catholic natural moral law necessarily warrants using an example so likely to polarize the class.

finally, his implication that same-sex couples strive for a "man"-"woman" pairing is ridiculous. (note: i'm not discounting the existence of more-than-two-person relationships; i'm just rebutting an argument he made about two-person relationships.) sure, there are plenty of same-sex couples that have someone more classically feminine paired with someone who is more classically masculine. but, there are plenty of couples where both are more "butch" or more "femme"...and plenty of queers who blend so many aspects of masculinity and femininity that it's impossible to discern or even want to care which may "outweigh" the other. a woman doesn't date a butch lesbian because she should be dating a guy; she's dating a butch lesbian because that butch lesbian turns her crank. furthermore, what would this guy say about straight men who are more feminine than average, or straight women who are more masculine than average? his argument breaks down completely in that case. is a guy who dates masculine-seeming women dating them because he really would rather be with a guy? i'd say no...i'd say it's because he wants to date that woman.

on the other hand, one of the things the student said in his complaint email really, really got my goat. he stated that "Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing. Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one's worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation." where does this student get to say that the "natural laws of man" are one unified thing that everyone agrees on, and say that this professor should be canned because his conception of natural law is something different from someone else's? the Catholic Church has a long history of defining what is or isn't "natural", and has been couching things in the terms of "natural moral law" for centuries.

do i agree that the Catholic conception of "natural moral law" is necessarily natural, moral, or the law? no. but, am i going to freak out when some professor is trying to tell me that something i find to be perfectly okay violates "natural moral law"? no. i'll divorce my analysis of what i personally think is acceptable behaviour from my analysis of what i think Catholic doctrine sees as acceptable behaviour. if the question asks me to flesh out what i think of the Catholic doctrine, i'll go to town on the many reasons why i think there's nothing wrong with same-sex activity, or same-sex marriage. if the question asks me to flesh out what the Catholic doctrine on same-sex marriage is or should be based on church teachings, i'll focus on that. that second case reminds me of the paper i wrote in college about Boy Scouts v. which i concluded through analysis of American legal doctrine and documents that the Boy Scouts could prohibit gay scouts because they were a private organization, despite the fact that i was personally disgusted that they would do such a thing.

so, how do i come down on this? i really don't know. i'm disturbed, and deeply curious as to why professor howell had to explain his alleged example of the failures of utilitarianism in the way that he did. it makes me think that the possibility is open that he was a little too much of a preacher, and not enough of a teacher. but...these emails aren't enough evidence, and all the media coverage i can find of the case is slanted so much toward one side or the other that i can't get any trustworthy information about how his classes were actually run. i still don't know the one sort of thing i'd really like to know before passing judgment on whether this guy should keep his job or not: did he actually discriminate based on students' worldviews? did he mark people down for criticizing Catholic doctrine when that criticism was relevant to the questions and ideas discussed in class?

i'd be okay with him continuing to teach if he graded on how well people knew the relevant Catholic doctrine when that was the question at hand in a test or essay, and then graded on the quality and support of arguments for or against that doctrine when that was the question in a test or essay. however, if he graded students' arguments for or against principles based on how closely it mirrored the Catholic doctrine when the test or essay question asked the students to formulate and justify their own philosophical points, then firing him would be appropriate.