Saturday, November 30, 2002

meta!

I stumbled upon Metacritic a little while ago. The site features movie, video, DVD, game, and music reviews -- well, mainly they keep track of all the reviews they can and then combine the results into a metascore. But what I really like is the list of review summaries with links to the entire review, plus reader reviews (some of which actually make sense). Maybe this site is widely known, I dunno, but it's new to me.
posted by lee on 11/30/02 at 10:30 PM

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Are they?

Pitchfork: Top 100 Albums of the 1980s. So they say. I wouldn't really know -- I'm pretty retarded when it comes to music. Probably because I'm so hearing challenged. Or there could be other reasons, but I choose not to go there. Stanley thinks I'm a moron when it comes to my tastes in music, for the most part. At any rate, this site looks like an interesting place to kill some time with.
posted by lee on 11/30/02 at 10:06 PM

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Friday, November 29, 2002

a post-thanksgiving meander

We're in Massachusetts for the Thanksgiving weekend. Yesterday, with my sisters Jamie and Maureen and my niece Kate, we spent the day mostly cooking and talking. Traditional, for us, food -- my mother's recipe for sage stuffing, a new recipe for gravy (a lot of silly work for gravy that's not as good as my made-up recipe), candied yams ... it was a peaceful day, no strife, very pleasant. My brother-in-law Jeff pointed out how lucky we are to have Maureen present, that the Wegener's Granulamatosis didn't kill her in September -- and Maureen is thankful to be off cytox for a little while, even though it's not for a good reason. Stanley spent the day fixing my nephew Ben's computer, and the dog spent the day playing with Ben -- one very happy dog. The cat went from lap to lap, content just to sleep.

I like Thanksgiving the best. Nothing is required except a good meal -- and I like to cook, so even that requirement is fun.

It's gloomy outside right now, and we're due for another inch of snow to add to the five on the ground. I hope this isn't an indication of what this winter is going to be like. I'm spoiled -- two mild winters in a row and I think that's the way it should always be. I can live without snow and ice -- it's pretty to see after it falls, but not pretty enough to deal with afterwards. The dog sure loves it, though, and it's fun to watch her streaking through the fields and diving into Ben's snow fort and trying to catch Ben's snowballs.

I feel kind of wrapped in cotton right now -- I know I have some work to do, but I can't seem to get motivated enough to do it. Maybe after we get back from a quick trip to Cambridge.
posted by lee on 11/29/02 at 11:47 AM

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Monday, November 25, 2002

The Starfish Story

This is all over the web, via email, via webpages, etc. But I saw it for the first time today, and it touched me. It makes things seem less, well, hopeless.

by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."
posted by lee on 11/25/02 at 09:09 AM

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Sunday, November 24, 2002

skinwalkers & harry potter

Tonight we (Stanley and I) watched PBS's Mystery! Skinwalkers. Robert Redford funded this movie, with the screenplay written by his son, James -- based on the Tony Hillerman novel of the same name. They did an excellent job, I thought -- I love Hillerman's Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee mysteries so much so that I actually buy them in hardcover as soon as they're published. Adam Beach played Jim Chee, and he acted just as I envisioned Chee would be as I read the novels. (Lou Diamond Phillips did a good job as Jim Chee several years ago in Dark Wind -- an underrated movie.) It wasn't a perfect production -- the story was a little confusing at times if one hadn't read the book -- but all in all, a fine movie, very satisfying. I would love to see Redford et al. make more of these mysteries into movies. I was also glad to see a Mystery! I could understand -- meaning I long ago gave up on watching the British mysteries they usually have since it takes so long to decipher the accents I never catch up with the plot. (So I'm a little dimwitted in the accents department.)

We also went to see Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets this weekend. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and I suppose it was at least a decent movie but I cannot give an objective review since I'm so familiar with the books. It seemed not to last long enough to explain everything -- we were surprised that it was 2.5 hours long! What was most fun was listening to the little kid in the row behind us -- he had one of the best laughs I've heard in quite some time. So even though we went to a matine to escape the hordes, we did have the pleasure of watching it with some children in the theater. Just spared the popcorn & jujube-throwing masses. This version is better than the first, and scary, but I'm looking forward to the next version because it won't be directed by Chris Columbus, who manages to make the story a treacly in a way that Rawlings never does.

Oh, cool, Stanley just told me Skinwalkers is the first of a projected series of Hillerman stories on Mystery! Very good!
posted by lee on 11/24/02 at 10:12 PM

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Friday, November 22, 2002

good collection, lousy design

I look at several information design, information architecture, and usability/experience design/whatever the latest buzztitle is these days sites to try to keep up. There are a lot of them since web builders have the ability to take navel gazing to vast heights simply because we know how to make web pages. Some are better than others. I kind of lean toward WebWord.com by John S. Rhodes because he seems to have a better crap detector than most.

But one site, in particular, has been bugging me and I finally nailed down why. Take a look at the navigation on InfoDesign. Once you've figured out the menu (it's those icons in the third row), can you tell me what each of these mystery meat icons is supposed to represent? An Icon that conveys no information is bad information design. Another website/web designer tainted by Razorfish.
posted by lee on 11/22/02 at 10:22 AM

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Thursday, November 21, 2002

what’s your geography score?

Go here to take the National Geographic Roper Geographic Survey 2002. Most Americans suck at geography. I always loved geography, and I only blew the religion question on this survey.

Apparently, American students rank dead last when it comes to matters geography. Don't they teach it in school anymore?

And why do people brag about being geographically stupid? That's like bragging that you can't do simple arithmetic -- it's not cute, it's just pathetic.
posted by lee on 11/21/02 at 09:46 PM

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Wednesday, November 20, 2002

yet another IE patch

'Critical' Windows, IE Hole Plugged, according to PC World. Yet another security hole found. Yet another patch to add. I think there are more bytes in patches on my Win98 OS than there are from the actual, original 2nd edition software. So it goes. The patch can be found here: yet another MS patch.

I wonder if my current software will run on Lindows? I guess we'll know soon enough, since Stanley ordered a copy of it to test it out.
posted by lee on 11/20/02 at 08:45 PM

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Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Tom Delay, Dishonorable Member of Congress

Stanley and I have each gotten calls, at various points, telling us we've won some Republican leadership award, and please call back this number, etc. etc. We always thought it was a little weird and never returned the calls - if we'd really won some award, we figured, they'd call back. Especially weird since we're not Republicans - not by a long shot.

So, this morning, I had a message that I could barely decipher about "some award," with a toll-free number: 1-800-650-8375. I was curious, so I called. Land sakes alive - I'm a business leader in my community! I'm kind of wondering how, since we don't even belong to the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce (we would if the fees weren't way too high for a micro business) and know just a few business people in Norwalk.

The person who answered the phone asked me to listen to some canned greeting from Representative Tom Delay (from Texas) and then she'd get back with me to fill in the particulars. Seems I was chosen as not just a leadership award winner, but chairman of some small business committee! Seems like Delay would've a least personalized the message to the chairman-to-be (or at least removed the sexist language). I listened to about 5 seconds of Delay's hyper-right rant before my crap meter kicked in. I couldn't tolerate following this any further, and politely told the woman (she was probably some minimum-wage telemarketer) to tell the Republicans to get lost, and hung up.

Did a little research, though, and found this article from ABC.news: GOP Fund-Raising Tactic Questioned. Seems it's a Republican Party scam to shake money out of the pockets of small businesses, and for $300 to $500, you get the chance to attend policy meetings with movers and shakers. Oh boy.

The award thing is a money-raising scam. With Tom Delay as the chief flim-flam man. An indication that it's not a legitimate award is that they had to withdraw it from one guy because he was in jail for child molestation. Another guy is under federal indictment for distributing drug paraphernalia. Gee, that's the kind of august company I want to be associated with. Not.

I've seen some websites were individuals brag about their "appointment" to the Small Business Advisory Council, claiming to have been chosen after an "exhaustive" search. What a total pile of crap. It's kind of like web designers bragging about being members of the HTML Writer's Guild - like you have to do anything besides fill out a form and pay fees to join this group.

It's time to cost the GOP some money: call the toll-free number above and find out about your leadership award! Try to wangle an invite without having to pay any money - bet you can't.
posted by lee on 11/19/02 at 09:48 AM

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Saturday, November 16, 2002

Review: Beneath Buddha’s Eyes

Before my review, a disclosure: we (Stanley and I) made the author's website, www.beneathbuddhaseyes.com. And we really like author, Tony Anthony.

bbe_bookcover_amazon_small.jpgThat said, another pre-review comment: I was nervous about finally getting to read this book. I assumed it was good enough for a publisher to spend scarce publishing money on, but I didn't know whether I would find it a good read. Via Puppet Press, our ebook publishing company, we get so very many submissions that, well, suck. Most of them are of the "It was a dark and stormy night ... " ilk. I never thought Tony's book would fall into this category, but what if I didn't like it ... what could I say ... ? I'm very happy to report that my worries were groundless -- Beneath Buddha's Eyes is very, very good. I submitted this review to Amazon, so here it is, unedited:
posted by lee on 11/16/02 at 01:38 PM

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