Laptop Challenge ’08!

Quite unexpectedly, there is a laptop in lap. First, a short story; after that, a short mission.

Unintentional DecorationMy girlfriend’s laptop sucks. For many months, a sticker that reads UR STUPID has presided just above the little embossed HP logo on the front. It has performed to expectations admirably. It’s noisy, it runs too hot and then freezes up, and it’s got some unidentified white material melded in places (no, not the Nik’l Nips you see pictured to the right, a different odd white material). All this until a few weeks ago, when I disassembled the dern thing and managed to clean out the hairball of dust-clog lodged in the gills of the heatsink. If that made no sense to you, don’t worry—suffice to say that I fixed the noise and overheating. Of course, I hadn’t counted on somehow creating a worrisome problem whereby the computer runs normally for minutes or hours or days, but then without warning shuts off entirely. No warning. Entirely. Needless to say this was distressing for the female involved and she decided that she’d spent enough years trying to get it to run properly. That’s why she’s got a brand-new Lenovo. Yup, brand-new. That’s why that particular “girlfriend’s laptop” I was just talking about—it no longer exists.

Instead, it is now boyfriend’s laptop. Yes, after a thorough disassembly, and soldering some suspicious components, including an motherboard battery knocked loose from its moorings, the computing P.O.S. seems to be much less “S.” So yeah. Laptop. I have it. Wow, what an interesting story. Mainly I just wanted to tell it so that everyone understands that this was totally not my plan, I take no responsibility for my good fortune, and I am an oft-resourceful compu-person.

Part two, fun part: the challenge for you. The laptop has doodles all over it, girly colored sharpie squares that have worn away and make it look like the laptop of an indulgent Lisa Frank fan. This is unacceptable. I’ve decided to use my my own means to cover the thing in words. I’ve always liked words. I would like some things to say. Inspired by #2, “crowdsource the name of your new unicycle” on this list of 5ives


  • the stickers will be ALLCAPS, hand-typed on an ancient “hobbyist” Dymo labelmaker
  • keep phrases short; there’s only room on one “line” for 56 characters (including spaces)
  • speaking of characters, I got 0-9, A-Z, period (.) and slash (/) and that is it
  • don’ try an’ make me put anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to see, yokay?
  • they’ll be printed in any color you want, as long as it’s black (mayyybe blue)
  • Twitter responses ok, GLOT comments ok
  • 56 * 29 lines = 1624 characters, average English word length is 5.1, +1 space per word, that’s only 266 words, people! Not a lot!

Orin’s new computer: now accepting submissions.

The Death of a Website

Like I told the bagpipe bandleader, none of us are really sure how to commemorate the life of a website. Part of that is because, hey, a website isn’t really alive. So it’s a difficult question. How do you remember?

I remember when I wrote about it. There was such beautiful harmony in this clever system of giving people thumbs-up and earning points for photo contests and answering ridiculous yet thought-provoking questions. I’ve long had an affinity for non-binding imaginary point systems, that fact is known to many.

It was sad when I heard that it would be going offline. Unsolemn VigilI had a spree-day contacting people I’d met on there once or twice, people I liked but never really kept in touch with. Does anyone reading this remember when Flickr used to be mostly just bloggers with cool pictures they wanted to host? Every photo had an interesting reason to be there; you had to portion out which photos you uploaded cause you only had 20mbs a month to work with. So you only only put up the best ones. Either that, or you shilled out the $60 to become… pro. Lots of websites go through that high-quality early-adopter content-building phase. Consumating never had a chance to outgrow that magical period, and I’m bittersweetly thankful. I sound silly enough waxing about Flickr.

So I’ll just remember it how it always was: silly; playful; packed with interesting people, far too interesting; a perfectly crafted time-waster; the spirit of an age. Not bad for a site that started life as joke personals ads.

Peep Peep Peep Uh-Oh

I made a stop-motion animation video:

Only took me only two days, which I’m pretty proud of. Turns out that I already know how to do all this stuff. I already had all the audio editing and video encoding software, music mixing experience, radio editing experience, and know-how from encoding movies for torrents, even back to originally making StarCraft vocal effects (Mom and Dad, my life in middle school was not wasted). I had the camera and tripod although the relatively recent addition of a wireless trigger certainly helped. I did have to download a new stop-motion editor, but honestly it’s just a glorified slideshow viewer with powers of copy & paste. Had the skills to do it all along.

And I did it.

Zeitgeist in a Nutshell

Zeitgeist the Movie. Ok, I just finished watching it. First reactions: a little depressing. A little tricked into watching it cause I followed a blind link on advice from a friend that it was “definitely worth seeing.” Not disappointed, no. Not at all. Not entirely. Maybe a little. Yeah, it kinda sucked… I mean, you really had me in the beginning because you must know how much I enjoy unraveling complexity, but did you really mean all that stuff about Jesus and Horus? And then you present all these brain-tingling conspiracies about September 11th and move into… international finance and then… RFID chips? The trans-American highway? What is this? Well, I did like watching it while I watched it, at least. I think I would perhaps possibly say with a little tentative conviction that it is worth seeing. Before doing so, bear in mind four things:

  1. This movie is nearly 2 hours long and you may be compelled (like I) to watch all of it
  2. If you are religious many “theories” may “bother you” or simply make you “pfft”
  3. if you find conspiracy theories annoying you will find this move annoying
  4. millions of people have seen it already (supposedly the most popular video ever hosted by Google Video)

I was originally gonna post the video within this post but decided that, actually, on reflection, I don’t really care enough about this movie or if people see it so instead I’ll just put a link here again.

Also, it’s worth noting that you may need a much smarter analysis than mine.

photo by • Sandra • on Flickr

Prestige of the Pillowfight

It’s not a unique occurrence. For the past two years, and now three, there’s been a pillow fight in this town on Valentine’s day in the biggest business plaza the city has to offer.

It’s not a pretty sight, but it’s paradoxically photogenic. There’s something about a thousand pillows violently, desperately thrashing about in a great throng of struggling, giggling humanity that’s very life-affirming. Or something. All I know is that last year I got deep-throated by some else’s (probably pre-used) pillow feathers and this year I wore a face shield and took pictures instead. And why did I take pictures instead of actually fighting in a pillow fight? Well, like Jane Waterbury (who took the photo to the right) I think having pictures of cool stuff that I’ve gone to makes me cooler. Well, I think that’s what she thinks. It’s what I think. Show ’em off to friends who weren’t there, so that you can prove it. “See what I did for Valentine’s day? You know it’s awesome and that’s why you’re going next year! That’s why you want one in your own town!” It’s what many many many people must be thinking because the number of cameras there was sheerly staggering. You’d think the Superbowl was going on. Except, well…

My personal opinion is that a pillow fight is FAR cooler than the Superbowl. How passé—paying to go to something fun? I am of a new generation that eschews these more manipulative entertainments in favor of those which we ourselves create. We are… enlightened. Sometimes.

Also, I can’t stress enough how many hotties there are that go to this thing every year.

Surprise Ending

Every once in awhile, I see a piece of film, and I experience something that I dearly feel must be addressed.

Such is the case for the 1992 adaptation of the Virginia Woolf novel “Orlando.” I just watched it. After scouring the internet for some sort of explanation or even acknowledgment, I have come to the conclusion that I am the only person to have watched this film and pondered much about the ending. For those who find this post having seen this particular film and came looking for solidarity, or for those who wonder why I’ve made it, let me say outright—after an hour or more traveling through history from the eyes of an ageless British gender-transcender, who has now finally found some peace in the world having a child and losing his/her/their mystical monarch-bequeathed aristocratic lands, and as the film is finally rounding out, with her sitting at the selfsame tree as when we first met him, and to have the last scene suddenly transform into a gay angel singing a gay house anthem in the sky, shot in shaky-cam mode… is a little… unexpected. Perplexing. Baffling. Really, really weird. Makes me a little cross-eyed; forces my eyebrows to do all sorts of weird shapes. Kinda makes you wonder if they ever really had a point, and/or if just ran outta time and adaptational[1] stamina, and said:

“Hey, you know what? We’ve got this gay pop star who says he likes the book. What are the chances we can get him up on crane later singing something about unity? Or harmony? Or unity and harmony? Oh, well do you have any better ideas for how to finish the movie?”

No, I do not. But for those of you who also don’t, and just really wish the filmmakers did, let me say: you are not alone.

About Last Night…


I have written this letter in the interests of giving you a fair chance. Who knows? You may well have just been having a very bad night, happened to have found a golf club, and were riding around my neighborhood at 4:40 in the morning. In all sincerity—we’ve all had our nights. But hey, when you started screaming when I asked what you were doing, Lord knows I thought the worst. I called the cops. They came looking for you but of course, didn’t find you. Respect enough. Now, coming back to my apartment a half hour later might not have been the best idea even though I’m sure it helped you blow off some steam. Coming again at 7:30 to ring the buzzer was kinda stupid, cause now I have your photo and could make a real good police report if I wanted. On the other hand, that’d just piss you off more, and would probably piss me off too, so instead I’ll do this: TELL ME SOMETHING I WAS WRONG ABOUT. Seriously. Make me feel bad. Cause right now I feel alright, cause I finally got back in some way for the one of you that smashed my car window WHILE I was SLEEPING in it. Dumb, I know (cause hey, if a guy’s sleeping in his car, he probably doesn’t have some great shit to take… and he’ll YELL at you, too). Tell me I’m wrong to feel righted. I ruined your night? It goes around, is what I’m thinking. For real: there is an envelope behind this letter, and a pen. Write it out. I’ll read it.



Monica has a Birthday

Fifty strangers meet in a public park. Many have never met before, some have. They are dressed variously in matching outfits, funny wigs or hats, or just colorful sunny day clothing. They have come for a singular purpose. However, what exactly that purpose is none are certain—except one. They have placed their faith in a leader. This leader, a sprightly woman, short, young, with twin feathery poofs emerging from her brunette hair, and dressed in a festive old west leather skirt and cowboy boots, assembles the convivial horde. The mob slowly quiets.

Megaphone in hand, pointed in no particular direction, she announces her name is Monica. She is turning thirty. Cheers. Welcome to her birthday! she says. Cheers. Much commotion and fumbling in pockets and, shortly thereafter, a blast from the megaphone. Even greater commotion. Another signal tone, a pause, much clapping and yet more cheers, then ebbing to silence, as the crowd seems to contemplate their plight. No one knows where to look so everyone looks everywhere. Two minutes pass, and the group is silent. Except for some minor fidgeting, the fifty party-prepped people together on the green grass stay still on this bright, sunny Saturday afternoon in the park. But then, inexplicably, with no cue from Monica or anyone else, the crowd begins to cheer again.

This is when some sort of magic starts to happen. Over the next half hour, with no apparent direction, revelers flap their arms and pretend to fly around in circles, play tag, dance at random intervals, engage in staring contests, hum the theme from Super Mario (more or less), go hide elsewhere in the park, form a spontaneous line to spank their beloved leader as she crawls between their legs, and finally, carry her bodily to her waiting birthday cake, where they summarily deposit her butt-first into it… and of course, must then sing “Happy Birthday.” Maybe just one more dance party, the crowd seems to decide. Much applause follows for super-special birthday-girl Monica who has rightfully earned it by pulling off this ridiculous, puzzling, and joyful spectacle. Then the magical shenanigans are over. One by one, people in the crowd pull out their earbuds.

You knew there was a big reveal, didn’t you? Well, keep reading!

Several Posts in One

I got new glasses today. They are blue, with tiny stars on the arms. I’m don’t quite like them as much as I expected to, but part of that is the new even stronger prescription. The world feels just that much further away (but -9 will do that to anybody). My right eye is worse than my left and so the recurring perception is that my glasses are uneven, and so I’ll start to adjust them before realizing “oops, these were freshly fitted just earlier today.” But, well, they are blue.

Also found out today Consumating will be going offline for good in about a month. This is sad for a number of reasons. I’ve met a lot of people through Consumating, good friends. There’s also a lot of people I like that I just… never really hung out with. But could have! Some who live across the country, who I might have someday met, who I probably never will. The community (and there is a community, in this instance) is being broken up. I’ve been archiving some of my old stuff that I wrote, although now that I’ve read Waxy’s writeup on CNET’s Consu-killing decision I realize I didn’t have to. I gave lots of tags, thumbed up every question for a couple people, and wrote some nice notes. It’s not that I think that’s important, it’s just that I’m sad I didn’t take as much out of it as I could’ve. Life is short. This post isn't. Keep reading…

Why I Do Web Design

Often I’ve been asked, in the fifth hour of a project to improve some small thing on my GLOT, why I bother. Why not bother to actually update it, rather than improve something no one will notice anyways? Well, dammit, I notice. I notice that the Rubix cube doesn’t display correctly in Internet Explorer 6. I notice things that don’t match well, like the alignment of the contact form and me-photos. I know that the search was placed incorrectly and used borrowed CSS since I put the damn thing in. And so today, I fixed it. I fixed all of those things. Yet do I find satisfaction?

No. And here’s why: the web isn’t real. It’s not a tangible experience. Up until the moment someone pointed their browser at this particular website and saw this particular thing, it was just an idea. It was information, data stored in a machine of irrelevant location, and will go back to being there once that someone leaves. The data might be slightly different. It might be very different. But it’s still just data, and it doesn’t have a life of it’s own, it doesn’t DO anything that isn’t in its basic nature. It’s not even a thing, it’s an it.

Existential pontificating of digital existence complete. Back to the original question: why do it? Because it’s a challenge. Because it’s one I can usually accomplish, given enough time and tenacity. Because it fits my habits, sitting in front of a computer. Because it’s something I’m good at. Because it makes me feel like I did something. Because I can. And so there you have it: I do it because I can. Sometimes it seems like a pointless exercise. Often it is. But here you are, and for the moment, it’s real. Hm.