Monday, April 28, 2003

Odds & ends & life is war

I was curious about this site, which purports to be an unbiased evidence-based compendia of consumer health and drug information dedicated to empowering blah blah blah: DrugDigest.

Mainly because I was curious about what it had to say about SAM-e, which I take for a couple of weeks when my osteoarthritis (knee) flares up. I take it because I friend suggested it when nothing except massive doses of aspirin alleviated the pain and I did not want to be on any of those expensive pharmaceutical drugs they've cranked out for osteo.

SAM-e is the ONLY thing that works when my knees get really painful, and it work fast. It's expensive, but I usually only have to take it for a couple of weeks and it usually keeps the pain at bay for a couple of months at a stretch.

But this site doesn't really give much helpful information. It cites some studies, but not the conclusions. It hedges worse than my AMA-entrenched doctor. Maybe, but. It has links to sites which no longer exists (such as the FDA's adverse event report site). There are no freshness labels on the info, so no way to judge if it contains the latest available findings. The experts are a bunch of pharmacists and one MBA. (Why he ranks as an expert, I have NO idea.)

The whole site is owned by Express Scripts, bills itself as pharmacy benefit management company. So my guess is the drug/herb info site was built to make it look like there is a there there for the health insurance member sites -- all of the info is canned stuff, and there are NO rare conditions, such as Wegener's Granulomatosis, dealt with. Ah well.

TODAY WAS LOVELY
Maybe I'm wrong about the dogwoods being late; maybe they were early last year. They're starting to show signs of opening. The wildflower seeds I planted a bit ago are growing, and I have some plants to get into the ground and I was itching to get outside.

But I'm also working on something that interests me: making a ebook to sell on Puppet Press. It's a digital reprint of a book (Life is War) that did very well when it was published, written by Tony Anthony, and is a book that is aimed at veterans with PTSD. Or anyone that's endured a trauma. So the content interests me, and what I'm really looking forward to do is creating the surrounding "marketing" webpages -- but I can't get to those until the ebook is at least ready for editing. So even though I was itching to work in the garden this afternoon, this was consuming me.

Meanwhile, I ALSO really really want to do the spring cleaning. I started to yesterday, and have a lot to go, and I WANT to do it, but have been working on the ebook and didn't want to stop.

I need about four more daylight hours in a day.

I'm just glad winter seems to be finished.
posted by lee on 04/28/03 at 08:30 PM

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Sunday, April 27, 2003

ephemera: another place to get lost

alaska_brochure.jpgGraphic Design from the 1920s and 1930s is David Levine's collection of travel-related ephemera. Levine says he's been collecting this stuff since 1992, when he lived in Prague.

I agree with him that some of the best design ever was done in Europe in the 30s and 40s -- though I think graphic design in Europe and the US during this time reached levels not seen since. I can spend hours happily going through graphic design examples on this site and others, for example, but can't say the same about spending time going through, say, coolhomepages.com or any other collections of graphic design over the past ten years or so. Not that it's bad -- it's just boring.

But I might have a different opinion of it all in ten or twenty years. Who knows? All I know is I tend to get my inspiration from designs from the first half of the 20th century rather than from any other time period, and this has been true for about three or four years now.

Right now I'm very frustrated because I got a good start on the layout of an ebook we're publishing -- decided on the heading fonts, got the style the way I wanted it, the right leading, the right margins, etc. etc. A good start. Then Word crashed and not just crashed, but corrupted the frelling file to boot. It's very disheartening to have to go in and recreate it all -- kinda dropped me right out of the zone I was in all afternoon (I had to process the illustrations that are going into this ebook -- took some time because I had to do stuff like get rid of moire patterns and crap like that).

Anyway ... [/blah blah blah]
posted by lee on 04/27/03 at 12:00 AM

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Friday, April 25, 2003

Review: Identity

Last week we saw A Mighty Wind and Holes. Both were excellent movies I highly recommend even at full ticket price. Identity, however, is another matter. See this as a matine or wait for it to hit the dollar theaters or video. You can wait, trust me.

Roger Ebert gave it three stars, though I don't know why. It was a dark and stormy night. In Nevada. I lived in the desert for a few years and don't remember torrential downpours that lasted hours and hours, so that struck the first weird note for me. The characters are also pretty much clichs. Some reviewers have hinted that it has elements of the supernatural. Here's a real hint: it doesn't. It's not scary either.

The premise that it all hangs on is pure bullshit: I won't spoil it by stating why but anyone that's ever spent any time working or studying psych will spot the bullshit pretty quickly (unless they're purveyors or "victims" of this particular version of psychocrap). We figured out what it was all about long before the "revelation." It was an okay escape for a Friday afternoon -- I love John Cusack in just about anything -- but just as I was settling in to a good old serial-killer-on-the-loose movie -- standard fare, but well acted -- it switches gears into illusion land. The premise, once it's unveiled, makes all the characters meaningless and there is no point to going back to the motel scenes. Who cares who dies or lives at this point? End of mystery.

Ah well. Next week we'll go see X-Men 2 (or whatever it's called) and then, May 15th, probably at the first available showing, Matrix 2 or whatever it's called.
posted by lee on 04/25/03 at 08:44 PM

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lunatic news

Total Lunar Eclipse Coming May 15-16 (that's a Thursday night/Friday morning). And, according to Space.com, it will be entirely visible here in Connecticut -- assuming there's no solid cloud cover.

The last total lunar eclipse was June 9, 2001, and the next one is November 8-9, 2003. Yep, you read that right: there's another one this year. There will be two more next year, then, after the October 28, 2004 total lunar eclipse, no more until March 2007.

Oh I hope hope hope there's no cloud cover that night.
posted by lee on 04/25/03 at 12:59 PM

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Wednesday, April 23, 2003

daddy bush shilling for money

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when a former president of the United States lends his name to a direct mail marketing campaign. Daddy Bush lost whatever shred of dignity he may have had by sending out letters inviting people to the 2003 President's Dinner. Which, by the way, he and Barbara will not attend. Oh, and for just $150 more on top of the $2,500 cost of the ticket, you can get an individually numbered and matted limited edition photo of Shrub accompanied by a note from his Shrubship. Which, I guess they think, attendees can promptly sell on eBay.

I would call 202-478-4425 to find out more information, but I don't want to run up my phone bill because I have to be careful about my money since I was LAID OFF from my job last September. Since ex-President invited me and didn't say word one in his invitation about MY having to PAY anything to attend this dinner, I should be able to attend without paying the $2,500, which I can't afford since I was LAID OFF. So I will send back my RSVP in the postage-paid envelope without enclosing a check since I can't afford the price of the ticket. Maybe they'll send back a nicer invitation than the cheesy piece of crap enclosed with the begging letter from Daddy Bush.

If I were to attend this dinner, it would be kind of strange because I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Republican. So why I got this exclusive invitation, I have no idea -- I guess the person who makes the list is the same person who suggested that I'm a good candidate for the Leadership Award (that I wrote about in the entry titled 800-650-8375 SCAM).

I wonder where they got this mailing list? Maybe my name is on it because I subscribed to Forbes (which I can't afford any more since I was LAID OFF).

On a side note, Paul Krugman wrote an interesting column in the April 22 New York Times: "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" Here is a snippet:

Republican politicians are obviously under instructions to push that job number. On the Sunday talk shows some of them said "1.4 million jobs" so often that it sounded like an embarrassing nervous tic.

Of course, there's no reason to take that number seriously. Basically, the job-creation estimate came from the same place where Joseph McCarthy learned that there were 57 card-carrying Communists in the State Department. Still, let's pretend that the Bush administration really thinks that its $726 billion tax-cut plan will create 1.4 million jobs. At what price would those jobs be created?

By price I don't just mean the budget cost; I also mean the cost of sacrificing other potential pro-employment policies on the altar of tax cuts. Once you take those sacrifices into account, it becomes clear that the Bush plan is actually a job-destroying package.

Not that the budget cost is minor. The average American worker earns only about $40,000 per year; why does the administration, even on its own estimates, need to offer $500,000 in tax cuts for each job created? If it's all about jobs, wouldn't it be far cheaper just to have the government hire people? Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration put the unemployed to work doing all kinds of useful things; why not do something similar now? (Hint: this would be a good time to do something serious, finally, about port security.)

The answer is that we can't have a modern version of the W.P.A. because, um . . . because tax cuts are essential to promote long-run economic growth. Yes, that must be it. Just look at a new study by the Congressional Budget Office, now headed by an economist handpicked by the Bush administration. It concludes that the Bush plan may have either a positive or a negative effect on long-run growth, but that in any case the effect will be small. Wait, that's not the answer we wanted. Quick, find another expert!
posted by lee on 04/23/03 at 02:32 PM

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Monday, April 21, 2003

so dizzy ...

The dogwoods are already a week late -- there are buds, but they're not open yet, alas! I posted pictures of them last year on April 18th, and they'd already been open a few days. No sign of the magnolia blossoming, either, though others in the neighborhood are starting to open up. Very late spring, I guess. I hope that means we'll have a very late winter.

DOG MISSES BOY
The dog has been moping all day. I know Ginger's a little tired because she got a lot of exercise yesterday, but mostly she's missing her boy. She's crazy about nephew Ben and was so happy to see him over Easter weekend I thought she was going to dislocate her back from wagging so hard. When we pull up in the driveway in Natick, all I have to do is open the car door just a little and she bolts up the stairs to the door barking at the top of her lungs -- doesn't matter how long it's been since we were there last., it's the same routine She starts getting extra happy about the time we pass the fire station in Natick.

How do I know she's moping? Well, she's been upstairs a good portion of the afternoon -- not like her, she's usually under our feet in the office. She's not sick (I checked). And there the very meaty bone from the ham that's sitting there virtually untouched (other than for her dragging it onto the rug from the plate, naturally). And she didn't care when the cat started chewing on it. So I know it's mope city. She'll be over it tomorrow.

DID MY PARENTS DO SOMETHING RIGHT? I THINK SO ...
We had a pleasant Easter, good conversation, good food. It reinforces how much I miss my far-flung family. I know it's abnormal, but I actually LIKE my family, including my parents!! I hate having them spread out across 1,000 miles.

AN INTERESTING TRIBUTE SITE
This is a fan site devoted to Hitchcock's Vertigo. I think it's by M. C. Oldenburg, though it's hard to tell. At any rate, it's a well-done site and makes me remember how much I like a lot of Hitchcock's stuff. I'll have to check this movie out of the library so I can see it again -- it's been way too long since I watched it. Nice flash intro, too.

And that's all for now. I'll get back to the war and the crimes perpetrated by that ignorant, greedy, and evil man in Washington DC tomorrow. Or Tuesday -- I get so worn out from getting so angry at it all.
posted by lee on 04/21/03 at 08:03 PM

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Saturday, April 19, 2003

a mighty wind in the holes

We couldn't decide whether to see A Mighty Wind or Holes today. So we saw both of them. Loved them both, for different reasons and I wouldn't even begin to try to decide which was the better one. It's too late and I'm too sleepy to write reviews -- for now I'll just leave it at "Go see these movies as soon as you can."

Meanwhile, Twitch has a new perch. It's only within the past couple of weeks that he's been hanging out on top of my monitor. Don't know why he never did before. It's kinda weird sometimes -- to feel his stare while I'm trying to concentrate on getting the coding right or lost in something I'm working on. Like he's reminding me that I work to keep him supplied with those shrimp and salmon Friskies kitty treats.

I am the king here, and don't you forget it.
twitchsurveyshisrealm.jpg

What is that stupid dog DOING? She woke me up, dammittall ...
twitchcloseup.jpg

Ah, spring, all those birdies [sigh]
twitchlooksatworld.jpg
posted by lee on 04/19/03 at 01:46 AM

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Friday, April 18, 2003

American Mavericks website

American Mavericks is a website developed by Minnesota Public Radio to feature a new series about "maverick" music composers. Interesting interesting interesting topic -- but what a badly designed website -- yuck. It's confusing, very hard to read and too many elements of the worst of what grunge already did to death. At least the pages of black on white are readable, and the text size is changeable. It's badly in need of some intelligent navigation / indexing / architecture.

But, dive in -- there's a lot to explore here. Just be patient about finding the good stuff, such as the Online Rhythmicon. The listening channels are very cool, and if you choose to download the 365 player, it's easy and unobstrusive.
posted by lee on 04/18/03 at 01:20 PM

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Thursday, April 17, 2003

Strange sounds and haircut woes

Tonight the family room started making weird noises -- it sounded like someone was banging on the radiator with pots and pans. Made the dog panic. Not only could we hear it (the neighbors could probably hear it), but it made the whole room vibrate. Stanley disappeared down into the cellar to check it out since it was obviously coming from the heating pipes. I tried to approach to see what was up, see if I could help (I knew it was unlikely, but one never knows ... ), but was snarled at so I went back to watching the telly. Later he emerged to tell me that the pipes were overfilled. Stanley's theory is he must not have closed something tight enough so there was a very slow drip that culminated in our cast iron symphony this evening. Okay, whatever. (There is so much about old houses I just don't know.)

So, when I stumbled upon this website later, I just though it was a continuation of tonight's theme: Oddmusic. A site devoted to experimental music , odd music, unique music, weird musical instruments, etc. Site owner John Pascuzzi has not only the sounds of a LOT of odd instruments (some are not really odd, just rare in this day and age, such as the dulcimer), but photos of them. A very cool site to poke around in. Some of the sounds annoy the cat, so I will play those often. (The weird creature attacked my computer speaker the other night -- I forget what I was listening too, or maybe it was just that he was annoyed at the music on Skippy's Obsession at GeckoPlex.)

And on to hairy matters. We had disappointing news today: the woman who's been cutting out hair for years retired. We like her a lot, so we're happy for her, but damn it how are we going to find another stylist even half as good as she is? Has to be in either Norwalk or Westport. I know of good hair salons in the New Haven area, but not really around here. Well, there are a couple that have a good reputation, but I really don't want to pay $100 for a trim, thank you. Ah well, the quest begins. Glad my hair grows so fast in case our first encounter is a bad one.
posted by lee on 04/17/03 at 11:50 PM

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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

web designer’s cornucopia

Web Design References is an amazing resource site -- it lists about 3000 resources for web designers, organized by topic (annotated too!) It's maintained by Laura Carlson in the Information Technology Systems and Services Dept. at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. There's also a link to a webdev list. Saw this today in the Webdesign-L list.
posted by lee on 04/15/03 at 11:13 AM

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