The Haircut

(no subject)

The first thing that happens when you get to heaven is that St. Peter (or whoever happens to be working the door when you show up) tells you the funniest joke in the known universe. Very few people get it, and I mean really don't get it. You're not told it's a joke, so you either get it and immediately explode with uncontrollable laughter like you wouldn't believe or you don't, and you spend an awkward couple of seconds thinking that you ended up in crazy people heaven while St. Peter (or whoever) looks at you expectantly and makes little coughing noises. Finally, if you didn't get it, he'll feign surprise and say "Wow! Look who's here! It's your Aunt Tillie!" and sure enough, there will be Aunt Tillie, or Uncle Morty, or Great Grandpa Ferdinand, and St. Peter (or whoever) will quickly palm you off on them and be on his way. If you do get it, once you've recovered (which usually takes fifteen minutes or so and doesn't last more than five before you start laughing again) St. Peter (or whoever) shows you the secret handshake and lets you into the heaven for people who get it. Luckily, those who get it always have a couple of dead friends or relatives who also got it, so it's not like you're surrounded by strangers. Even if you were, though, you'd at least know they have a good sense of humor. Oh, and don't worry if you've got family members with lousy senses of humor - you can still go to unfunny heaven, and there's always some sort of mixer or box social going on with lots of chances to mingle. In the end, it's not even that big a deal - funny heaven just has nicer chairs and that's pretty much it - but God works in mysterious ways.

The joke will start to seem old to you after about three weeks, but then someone will tell it with a funny accent, and it'll be like the first time you ever heard it. After that, it will never seem old or stale again.
The Haircut

File Under "Uh... wha?"

This is an unaltered screenshot of a context menu in Thunderbird. Sometimes, when I select a URL and right-click, the top two options ("hotpot" and "plight") appear. Most of the time, they don't. When it first happened, I was unable to find any information about it on the web and was subsequently unable to show that they'd been there in the first place. When they appeared again, I thought it meet to get a screenshot of 'em. If anyone knows what the hell this is all about, please enlighten me. It smells fairly viral, but AVGFree, MS AntiSpyware, and AdAware all report clean after full scans. I've found nothing referring to "hotpot" in the Thunderbird help pages or support forums, and the only occurrences of "plight" are uses of that word in normal contexts. Curiouser and curiouser...

What the hell do hotpot and plight mean?

EDIT: 'Tis nee viral. It's... spellcheck! I'm still not entirely clear on why it comes up sometimes and not others, but now that I know what it is, all fears of infection and hallucination are put to rest.

EDIT 2: It comes up if I highlight the URL from left to right, as it thinks I'm highlighting "http" in order to correct it. If I highlight right to left, it doesn't appear.

The average price of gas in Atlanta is $2.439/g. The average price of gas in the United States is $2.490/g. These numbers come from
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    confused confused
The Haircut

Stand Alone Complex

I came up with an interesting (at least to me) question this morning. Say we developed a way to perfectly simulate brain function, and that we could knock a person out and dump a perfect imprint of their brain into a perfect copy of their body. Then, when the original and the duplicate wake up (separately), they are guided down identical hallways by identical signs to identical rooms with identical tables bearing identical plates of identical assortments of donuts. Would the two choose the same type of donut? From the same position on the plate? Kind of a silly final test, but you get the idea.
Maybe if I'd taken philosophy in school, crap like this wouldn't pop into my head while I shower.

The average price of gas in Atlanta is $2.449/g. The average price of gas in the United States is $2.487/g. These numbers come from
  • Current Music
    my robot friend - boing!
The Haircut

(no subject)

My cousin William died yesterday, most likely of an opportunistic pneumonia in the wake of treatment for leukemia. William was a truly decent human being. His staunch Republicanism often vexed the liberal wing of the Karp family, but all the while we understood that it was born of his intense belief in self-reliance and personal responsibility, not the nasty, vituperative scolding that many of that party's marquee players exhibit these days. He believed in absolute rights and wrongs and lived by them. He served in the Marines and then became an FBI agent, always working to preserve the safety and civility of our lives. He embodied what was undeniably good and right about military and civil service so completely that it almost became self-parody. He joined the family by marrying my mother's cousin, who had struggled earlier in life but seemed to have found exactly what she needed and wanted in him. Together, they raised a daughter who has become one of those preternaturally good kids that news magazines occasionally do cover packages about, talking about "the future ruling class" (that was Atlantic Monthly, I believe) or worrying about whether parents are putting too much pressure on their little wunderkinder. I don't know if William and Bebe put too much pressure on Hannah - I'm willing to bet that she just saw their example and holds a deep-seated belief in the virtue of being your best and honing your talents to perfection - not as a means of making others seem small, mind you, but because the world benefits when people do things well.

I wasn't really close with William. We weren't distant, and I was certainly fond of him, but his super-Marine demeanor sometimes made it hard to have conversations with him. He tried, though - he was constantly making ridiculously corny jokes as a means of communicating across our differences, and one in particular has stayed with me all the years since the Marine told it to the awkward, nerdy young adolescent during our family's yearly trip to the beach. How many pancakes does it take to cover the top of a doghouse? 21, because ice cream doesn't have bones. He got that from somewhere, and it changed a bit between him hearing it and retelling it to me, but I like his version better.

I found out about it from Mike, who I haven't talked to in forever. Usually, when I see that a call is coming from him, I don't take it, rationalizing that I'll call him back later. I never do. For some reason, maybe it was the great weather, maybe it was listening to The Clash version of "Pressure Drop," it seemed right to answer. I was really jovial, trying my best to make small talk, when he interrupted me and said "I've got bad news." I was instantly terrified. Elliott had called yesterday while I was sleeping, and I'd figured I'd call her back, but the sudden realization that she was almost certainly calling because of the bad news made me recognize that some form of bad news was headed my way from my two siblings. I was terrified. I hate to say that I was relieved to hear that it was William who had died. He was sick - it had always been a possibility - I wasn't that close to him - all that mattered was it wasn't Mom or Dad.

In writing this now, it's starting to sink in. I haven't dealt with death much. That's one of the benefits of having a very small family - not a lot of chances to mourn. In all but one case (now two), the deaths of my relatives had come long after their mental faculties had failed, making the end of their physical lives seem almost like a blessing. Not so with William. He was young - in his mid-50s. His daughter will be graduating high school before long. No doubt they've already talked quite a bit about colleges and plans for the future, always with him in them, proud at each graduation, guiding her through the pitfalls and vexing new experiences of life in the real world, eventually bringing that authoritative Marine gaze to rest upon terrified boyfriends and an eventual husband-to-be. Certainly he and Bebe must have talked about retirement, looking to my parents as an example, thinking about the time they'd spend together, the traveling they'd do. Now those plans are all changed, deeply and tragically. The graduations will be bittersweet. The travel will be that much quieter. We'll have Thanksgivings together where his absence is palpable, where his handyman skills aren't there to fix the myriad tiny annoyances accumulated since his last visit, where he and my father won't watch the ball game, where he won't say "Bilbo Bobbins" (he always got it wrong) to me, just because he liked the sound of it and it seemed like a bridge between our worlds, even though it's been years since I read "The Hobbit." It seems so strange to be sitting here thinking "He's gone - death means gone" at my age, but as I said, I don't have much experience with it. Just enough to know that I hate it, regardless of how everything is impermanent and it's a natural part of life and all that. I can't accept that our lives, in all of their intricate and impossible and hilarious beauty, are sand mandalas, that some day each and every one of us will have to be swept into the water to remind those left behind that all is temporary and fleeting. Yes, we're all floating in space. That doesn't mean I have to like it.

Wherever you are now, William T'Kindt, you are missed.
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The Haircut

Maybe We Could Make the Future Better

A belated happy birthday to jimmyether. I hope you had a good day, Mr. Ether, sir.

My first real return-to-college class is coming swiftly to a close. Two class sessions remain, with the next one being the presentation of our final project game to a group of local industry-types for evaluation. I'm fairly certain my group's game will do well. A lot of people seem to be going for a ridiculous level of complexity, which will make for interesting games but will also make explaining the rules and processes very difficult.. Ours is simple, but hopefully features plenty of room for strategy. Hey, Go and Chess are simple, right? Ours is a pretty far cry from Go or Chess, though. It's been referred to as a combination of Stratego and Poker, actually. I don't know that that's entirely apt, but it's not completely off, either. The professor let us know last week that we're not allowed to use dice. This seems like a bizarre and extremely limiting requirement, but he's probably trying to teach us something about the often arbitrary limitations put on real-world developers by whoever is bankrolling the project. I think we've found suitable dodges in order to keep random chance in the game. The best thing about the entire process is that it has continually reinforced the sense that this is what I want to do with my life. Every idea one of my cohorts threw out required a set of rules to make it function, and with each idea my brain automatically dove into rule-making with complete abandon and glee. Rule-making is the very heart of game design, and it seems I have a knack for it and an enjoyment of it. This is good.

The average price of gas in Atlanta is $2.251/g. The average price of gas in the United States is $2.304/g. These numbers come from
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The Haircut

Tales of Area Restrooms

Above the door of the men's room at The Highlander, there is a drawing of a button with the label "Push button for free bacon."

In the men's room at The Local, there was a long-running battle between the proprietors and someone who drew pictures of chicken heads and labeled them "Chicken Head." A drawing would appear, and within days, that area of the wall would be repainted. Soon, another drawing would repair, prompting another repainting. The cycle repeated for quite a while. At this point, it seems that Chicken Head has moved on or changed his ways.

The men's room at Joe's Coffee features a large drawing of a sharp-toothed, droopy-eyed monster saying "You are da betst." A question scrawled above the toilet, "Doesn't anyone write about girls on bathroom walls anymore?" has elicited the response, "This is East Atlanta. Try Cobb County." Where someone has written "Poke Smot," another writer has come back with "'Ha Ha'" (in quotation marks).

The walls of the men's room at the Gravity Pub are liberally adorned with quotes from "The Simpsons." Only a small handful are worded incorrectly or misattributed.

The men's room at the new offices of Creative Loafing originally featured a standee of Elvis Presley equipped with a motion sensor. When the sensor was tripped, one of a handful of recordings of Elvis speaking would play. One was "Thanks for letting me talk to you," which was kind of strange to hear when leaving the restroom, your business there concluded. At some point, an unknown trickster moved the Elvis standee into the women's room, replacing it with the Marilyn Monroe standee that had previously occupied that space. Marilyn has no motion sensor and says nothing.

The average price of gas in Atlanta is $2.083/g. The average price of gas in the United States is $2.233/g. These numbers come from
  • Current Music
    Garbage - The Trick Is to Keep Breathing
Meek Shall Inherit

Should We Talk About the Government?

Today I learned that my first love (and the other half of the only serious relationship I've had in my life) is married. We haven't spoken in seven years, so it hardly matters, but it hurt to learn. It put to rest a comfortable fiction I've held on to ever since I left New York. Maybe that's a good thing. Hell, I'm certain it's a good thing. Still, it was a comfort, a well-worn and reassuring old companion. Sure, I'm close on 30 and still entirely alone, but hey, maybe she's out there, mixed up and worried just like me. Only she's not - of course she's not. Isn't it better that way? In the end, that was all just an excuse - I'm not that mixed up, and while I might have been at one point, that was a long time ago, and I've just been taking it easy on myself and chalking it up to being lost in the head for years. I haven't been lost, I've been lazy.

I don't know where my magic bullet lives. Young Democrats? Rock climbing? Going to the theater? Juggling goslings? Who knows? You're not supposed to know. That's the whole point. You don't do the things because they're the magic bullet. You do them because you enjoy them in and of themselves, dummy. You've got to believe, dear reader, that I get as tired of seeing me repeat myself like this as you do...

I'm roaring toward 30, and I can't stop taking stock of my life and feeling like I'm nowhere near where I should be. Sure, this is nothing new, but that arbitrary number makes it seem somehow sharper, like it matters more. I need to get my life started, because the waiting isn't helping any. The waiting leads me to look up that long lost love on the internet in order to confirm what I knew had to be true - she moved on a long time ago and is living her life.
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    pensive pensive
The Haircut

White Lines Flashing By On the Pavement Like the Sky

I'm coming down from some sort of mild anxiety attack at the moment. It's strange - I have no idea why everything seems to pulse with vague threat. It just does. It's not a dire threat, not the sense that everything is out to get me. It's more that everything is out to ignore me. Insignificance has pulled up alongside me at the stoplight of turning 30, and he's gunning his engine. Soon that light's going to turn green.

Maybe I've been working to hard, or maybe I haven't been sleeping enough, or maybe I'm afraid of being alone, or maybe I'm not working hard enough, or maybe I'm getting softer by the day, or maybe I'm not doing anything but complaining and not doing a damn thing to fix the problems. Maybe the big problems are just excuses for me not to get the little things right. If peak oil hits, I'll still draw breath. If we nuke Iran, the odds of keeping on are still in my favor. If the rich stay healthy and the sick stay poor, I'll still hum along at my particular frequency.
  • Current Music
    Elvis Costello - New Amsterdam
The Haircut

Caffeine Effect

I'm jumpy! JUMPY!

I'm working at Joe's, in EATL. The subject of my labor is the new Creative Loafing site, and pardon the blowing of the horn that I own, but we've got some really cool stuff in store. We're making the things that suck not suck, and in the process, some of them are really going to take a major leap forward. I'll be quite pleased to put this thing on my resume when it's done, and this time, it looks like it's actually going to go live as I made it (well, except for some design elements, but I'm over that). Of course, this jumpiness is making it really hard to concentrate, but hey...

In unrelated news, Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks promising.

  • Current Music
    Blackalicious - Release
The Haircut

Groove Haircut, College Boy

I had my first actual college class since 1997 this evening. Introduction to Game Development. And so, it begins. The professor was almost disturbingly pragmatic about the world of game dev, emphasizing the money aspect above all else. When I asked him what he thought of Steam and the possible shortcut around the publishing/retail roadblock that it represents, he was at least receptive and talked about how he'd like to see the development of art house and indie games. In the end, his opinion on the money side of games doesn't really matter - he can teach me something about the process, and that's worthwhile. Yay. Now I have to do something I did quite a bit of during my first college adventure - sleep.