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Articles: 2009 November

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Page 1

Last Day of NaBloPoMo
Monday, 2009 November 30 - 3:58 pm
I was going to just fire off another short obligatory post to fulfill my NaBloPoMo requirements, until I realized it was the last day of the month. NaBloPoMo: done!

Looking back on the month, I'd say it was a fairly successful string of blogging... a little bit of everything, and no "I don't have anything to blog about today" posts.

I am tempted to give NaNoWriMo a try next year, though I fear the time commitment of having to write nearly 1700 words a day. But on the other hand, I think I'd be more likely to finish a novel that way, than if I were allowed to procrastinate and delay over the course of several years. I'll have to think about it.

I'll continue to try to post on a regular basis even though NaBloPoMo is over. I'm sure everyone says that; it's like a New Year's resolution. But really... I'll try.
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Posted by Ken in: bloggers

Still Enjoying
Sunday, 2009 November 29 - 3:10 pm
This doesn't happen often, but we're having to call in reinforcements to help us finish off Thanksgiving leftovers. We're taking some over to Anna's this evening.

Whatever's left after that is going into FoodSaver bags and into the freezer... they'll be my lunches for the next several weeks.
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Posted by Ken in: food

Canonical Christmas Songs
Saturday, 2009 November 28 - 12:54 pm
One way for sure to know it's after Thanksgiving is that you can find radio stations on non-stop Christmas music mode. Around Raleigh, it's Mix 101.5.

I think I need to make a playlist of canonical Christmas songs. I don't mean just the Perry Como stuff, but the best version of each song, old or new. For example, for me, the best version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" is the one by Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. And I admit that I kind of like Bruce Springsteen's "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

I'll be running through my collection to find the best stuff, and I'll post it some time in the coming weeks. Feel free to offer suggestions. But no one had better suggest that treacly abomination "Christmas Shoes", which wins the award for Worst Christmas Song for the 13th year in a row.
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Posted by Ken in: music

Gaming Like It's 2006
Friday, 2009 November 27 - 8:34 pm
I've never been the sort of guy who needs to have the hottest gaming computer to play the most recent, graphically intensive games. I find that playing three-year-old games on hardware that's less than state-of-the-art has a lot of advantages.

For one thing, I can wait for other people to figure out which games are any good. For another, I save a bunch of money on both hardware and software... I spent just $8 picking up a copy of Bioshock, which runs just fine on my Mac mini under Boot Camp. And I don't believe I'm having any less fun playing it now than I would have if I'd picked it up for $50 when it was new.

What should I pick up next? Perhaps Halo 2?
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Turkey Day
Thursday, 2009 November 26 - 5:38 pm
One Thanksgiving dinner down, two to go. Seriously. We went to Amy's uncle's house this afternoon; we're hosting an "orphans'" dinner tonight; and then there's another dinner Saturday with more of Amy's family. Judging from my friends' Facebook statuses, it's not all that uncommon these days for people to have more than one Thanksgiving dinner. I suppose that's a sign of the times.

I don't have a problem with this. Most people who know me know how much I love turkey.

In other news, Michigan won its basketball game today (yay), and Detroit lost in football as usual (boo).

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

It Must Be Thanksgiving
Wednesday, 2009 November 25 - 4:31 pm
I just bought three pounds of bacon and four pounds of cheese. Yep, it's gonna be a good holiday.

To the other shoppers at the Harris Teeter today: I hope you were not alarmed by the appearance of my car, which looked like a bird exploded on it after eating a tub of cream cheese. Also, I hope you did not associate the appearance of my car with the appearance of my jeans, which had dirt stains all over it from doing outdoor work today. In short: I do not ordinarily leave the house covered in poo (and if I did, I'd usually elect to go to the Food Lion instead of the Harris Teeter, so I wouldn't stand out so much).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Posted by Ken in: foodlife

Shut Up Already
Tuesday, 2009 November 24 - 2:03 pm
The AP headline today: "Rodriguez's Job at Michigan Seems Safe - for Now".

"Seems"? "For now"? What's with the weasel words? Despite the ridiculous hyperbole from the mainstream media, Rodriguez will be the Michigan coach next season. I'd bet a million dollars on it. No one in the administration has given any indication to the contrary. The only source for the media speculation is other media speculation. It's the MSM echo chamber at its worst.

I mean, really. What would be the plan? Yet another high profile coaching search, and a multi-million dollar contract buyout for Rodriguez and whatever coach we might try to snatch away? Does anyone seriously believe that another coaching transition and scheme change would help the team to improve next season? And what coach would want to come to Michigan if they knew they only had two years to prove themselves after inheriting another coach's players?

So just shut up already about Rodriguez. There will be no coaching change. There will be no significant fallout from the NCAA investigation. Save your schadenfreude for Charlie Weis, ok?
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Posted by Ken in: sports

Television Upgrade
Monday, 2009 November 23 - 4:37 pm
Well, I've bit the bullet, and decided not to wait for a Black Friday deal: I'm finally ditching my old behemoth rear-projection TV for an LCD flat panel model. (Amy will be enormously pleased to recover some square footage in our living room.) Sony has a promotion going on right now: discounted TVs along with a free Playstation 3. I'm not terribly interested in having another game console to suck down my time and money, but the PS3 is one of the best Blu-Ray players available, so it's worth it just for that.

Nice things about the new TV, as compared to my old one:
  • Won't suffer from color convergence drift (color fuzzing that results from the color beams being misaligned, requiring periodic refocusing)
  • Won't have odd red lines (Trinitron artifacts?) crossing the screen (this developed after a power surge; the lines makes Amy think of the stripes you see in salmon meat)
  • Better viewing angles (rear projection really had a problem with this)
  • HDMI inputs and digital audio output, for better integration with my home theater
  • Occupies ten times less floor space

The only bad thing I can think of is that it doesn't have the picture-by-picture mode that my old TV has, which is far superior to the picture-in-picture mode that the cable box provides.

The TV should arrive in less than a week. Whee, reckless consumerism! I mean... whee, doing my part to stimulate the economy!

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Posted by Ken in: techwatchtelevision

Mom and Dad
Sunday, 2009 November 22 - 5:58 pm
When I visited my parents in Japan this past summer, they gave me one of their old wedding photos. I think it's awesome, so I wanted to share it. The photo paper is textured and it made the picture a bit hard to scan, but I cleaned it up as best I could.

Click on the photo for a larger version.

Mom and Dad Wedding
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Posted by Ken in: life

Michigan Football Haiku
Saturday, 2009 November 21 - 3:13 pm
Another tough loss,
too many interceptions;
there's always next year.
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Posted by Ken in: sports

Company Potluck Haiku
Friday, 2009 November 20 - 4:26 pm
Company potluck;
when engineers cook you get
nine kinds of meatballs.

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Posted by Ken in: foodfunnyhaha

Tot Haiku
Thursday, 2009 November 19 - 8:00 pm
I love tater tots
Napoleon Dynamite
made me remember
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Posted by Ken in: funnyhaha

Dear Sarah Palin
Thursday, 2009 November 19 - 7:49 pm
Please run for President. That will be the greatest thing you could do for the Democratic party.

Your key talking points:
  • The global war against health care for Americans
  • How my celebrity status qualifies me to be President (because I am not a Kenyan Muslim, duh)
  • The list of magazines I've learned the names of (since the Katie Couric interview)
  • Rogue is the new Maverick
  • How Alaska benefits from global warming (because it's cold there, ya?)
  • How I've learned to agree with the Bush Doctrine (now that I know it's not a porn thing)
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Posted by Ken in: politics

Not Good
Wednesday, 2009 November 18 - 12:44 pm
In local economic news, Sony Ericsson is closing its RTP facility. 425 jobs will be lost. I can't say I'm surprised, but all the same, it sucks for the people working there.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Vegas Photo
Tuesday, 2009 November 17 - 7:35 pm
This is one of my favorite photos from this year's Vegas trip.

Javi and Earl Reflection

Click on the image for a larger version. I'll have a few more photos posted here on, but for the complete album, you'll need to be my Facebook friend.
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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Television: The Prisoner
Monday, 2009 November 16 - 11:22 pm
Today was part 2 of 3 of AMC's remake of "The Prisoner". Thus far, it is as I feared: it doesn't live up to the original.

Perhaps they're deliberately not trying to recapture the same feel as the original show, and I can appreciate the desire to make something novel. But I greatly prefer Patrick McGoohan's clever subversiveness to Jim Caviezel's outright rebellion. And you know, a disjointed plot is not the same as a mysterious plot.

In this version, there's just no subtlety. Instead of mind games, there are psychotropic drugs and coercion. I keep waiting for the shocking plot twist that doesn't come. Maybe they're just setting up for one big surprise? There's one episode left tomorrow... we'll see.

And OH! I almost forgot... how could you have The Prisoner without the Village font, the beautiful Albertus derivative that was ubiquitous in the original show? In this version, we get... Avant Garde Gothic Bold and Optima Bold Italic? Really?
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Posted by Ken in: television

College Football Recap
Sunday, 2009 November 15 - 1:39 pm
Michigan, N.C. State lose again; USC, ND lose. It's a day for losing.

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Posted by Ken in: sports

Day Four
Sunday, 2009 November 15 - 12:25 pm
Fever is down today. Amy bought a thermometer yesterday and it read 100.1°F; today it's back down to my normal temperature, 97.1°F. My throat is still sore but less so. So I may be on the road to recovery... just after missing what I hear was a great party yesterday, and just in time to go back to work tomorrow. Whee.

Now I hear Amy with the same-sounding cough and runny nose that I had four days ago... it's just starting for her. At least, hopefully, I'll be well enough to take care of her.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Day Three
Saturday, 2009 November 14 - 11:27 am
This month is turning into more of KaFluPoMo than NaBloPoMo.

When I was sick as a kid, I used to have two vivid recurring nightmares. In one, I was in one of those garden mazes, at night. Solving the maze wasn't the problem; the problem was, I had to traverse one edge of the maze to get from one corner to another, while being shot at by red laser beams. I knew that all I had to do was make a dash for the corner to get to safety, but I felt like my feet were stuck in molasses and I was scared I wouldn't be fast enough.

The other dream was that I lived in a charming little house with a charming little yard, like something you'd see in a fairy tale. It was very serene except the house was surrounded by giant churning gears that would crush you if you went beyond the boundaries of the yard.

The nightmare I had last night was that I actually had three different strains of the flu at the same time, and all of them were covered by different insurance plans. I had to make sure to have the right plan activated at the right time, depending on which flu strain was presenting symptoms at that time.

I think I'd rather have the lasers.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Fall TV
Friday, 2009 November 13 - 12:43 pm
Well, being at home sick does mean I get to catch up with all my TV shows on the DVR. Here's what I'm watching this season...

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Posted by Ken in: television

It's Here
Thursday, 2009 November 12 - 8:58 am
Fever: can't find the thermometer, but I'm pretty sure, yes.
Cough: like I'm trying to turn my lungs inside out.
Sore throat: yes, from all the coughing.
Runny nose: yes.
Body aches: oy, yes.
Headache: pounding.
Chills: yes.
Fatigue: I could sleep all day.
Diarrhea and vomiting: not yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

I had a seasonal flu shot so it's not that. So yeah, this could well be the dreaded swine flu. I was at work yesterday and out at a hockey game last night... sorry for the Typhoid Mary thing, guys.

Amy is also starting to show symptoms. This will be a fun weekend.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Quadruple Assortant H1N1
Wednesday, 2009 November 11 - 5:17 pm
... also known "2009 H1N1 Type A Influenza", or the "swine flu", even though it is a human disease, not a pig disease. Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue; in some cases, diarrhea and vomiting.

I'm kind of a hypochondriac so I probably should avoid reading about stuff like this... but I have to say, I'm not feeling so great today.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Tuesday, 2009 November 10 - 6:18 pm
Sooo, for those of you who didn't see my Facebook status updates, I did make it home Sunday night. The connection from Dallas to Raleigh was also delayed with mechanical problems, so I managed to get there in time to catch it.

However, when I got to the gate, my seat had already been reassigned to a standby passenger. Grrr. So instead of my luxurious exit row seat, I had to sit in 29F. In that steerage-class sardine-can seat, I couldn't even bend down to get something out of my bag on the floor, because the seatback in front of me was about eight inches from my face.

And of course, when I lost my original seat, they diverted my luggage as well. So after I arrived in Raleigh at 12:45 AM, I had to wait around another 45 minutes until the luggage carousel shut down without spitting out my bag.

But I did get home, and that was infinitely better than having to stay overnight in Dallas and flying in on Monday. And my bag was delivered to my house Monday evening by the "delivery service" (which was just some guy in an old Honda Civic). So all is well now. I'm still trying to figure out if I caught the swine flu while I was in Vegas; I have a bit of a scratchy throat but otherwise don't feel sick. Hmm.

Pictures and other Vegas thoughts will appear here and on Facebook soon.

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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

College Football Recap
Monday, 2009 November 9 - 3:45 pm
Michigan ugh; N.C. State wins; Iowa, Oregon fall.

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Posted by Ken in: sports

Well, POO.
Sunday, 2009 November 8 - 5:14 pm
My flight out of Las Vegas is delayed, so I might miss my connection to Raleigh and have to stay in Dallas overnight. It's a good thing I scheduled a vacation day for tomorrow, but I really didn't want to spend any of it traveling. And I was really, really looking forward to sleeping at home tonight.

This is one of those times that I wish airline tickets were binding contracts. American Airlines, I paid money so you would get me to where I wanted, when I wanted. If you can't fulfill even get me to my destination on the day I asked for, you should have to pay me restitution. You should do whatever it takes to make that happen: keep extra planes stashed at airports around the country, add more required layover times, run flights later into the evening.

I know what the airlines say to that: "If we did that, then fares would have to go up". Well, let them go up. I'd pay extra for that peace of mind.
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Posted by Ken in: lifetravel

Down time
Saturday, 2009 November 7 - 2:18 pm
One of the nice things about these trips is that we don't feel the need to cram in a lot of activities while we're here. It's not like we haven't already seen just about everything, and it's not like we won't be back again. So we can afford to sit around watching football, or hang out at the pool. I wouldn't normally associate Vegas with relaxation, but that's just what I'm doing now.

Now if I could only do something about these nosebleeds. I've drank enough water to fill Lake Mead and I'm still turning into Ken jerky.
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Posted by Ken in: life

Vegas, baby
Friday, 2009 November 6 - 11:29 am
Yeah, I'm in Las Vegas again, for our annual Monkey Boys trip. I'm rooming with Javi. One thing that tickles me is that Javi has fans and if they were here, it'd be like they won a contest or something. Don't get me wrong, I feel privileged to be here. I just think it's great that we get to enjoy Javi in his full uncensored shirtless glory.

In other Vegas news, the first bottle of whiskey is gone and I just ate like half a pound of smoked salmon at the breakfast buffet. Ah, Vegas.
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Posted by Ken in: life

We live in the future
Thursday, 2009 November 5 - 8:29 am
I'm sure others have said this before, but the iPhone really makes me feel like I live in the future. Here I am, blogging from my phone in an airport. All my travel info is stored on my phone. While in flight, I can bring up an app that gives me a virtual cockpit display. (Or can I? Are you allowed to use GPS on an airplane? Guess I'll find out shortly.)

By the way, I've never been a Blackberry-style thumb typer before, but I'm just now discovering that it seems to be more efficient for me when I'm in landscape mode.

Also discovered today: if you use frequent flyer miles on American, you get priority seating (exit row) and priority boarding. Sweet.

Gotta go, boarding now!
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Motorola/Google/Verizon Droid Phone Friday
Wednesday, 2009 November 4 - 12:40 pm
The new "Droid" phone, built by Motorola with Google's Android software, will be available on the Verizon network this Friday. All the preliminary reports indicate that it's an impressive phone, with features and quality to rival the iPhone.

So of course, everyone's calling it an "iPhone killer". Of course, they said that about the Blackberry Storm and the Palm Pre, and the iPhone certainly isn't dead yet.

You know, I would love to see the iPhone get some real competition. I would love to see other companies get innovative and come up with something revolutionary. But unfortunately, it seems like the best anyone can do is to build a product that's almost as good as what Apple already developed two years ago. Sure, you can talk about Android's open development policies, or things like physical keyboards and removable batteries, but those aren't revolutionary. It's as if Motorola, Google, and Verizon started with the iPhone, wrote down every complaint anyone has ever had about it, and then blended everything together into the Droid phone. There just aren't any new ideas there. Apple's iPhone, when it came out, was truly new. There would be no Pre or Droid without the groundbreaking precedents established by the iPhone.

There are certainly inferior products and technologies that have achieved market dominance, by virtue of being first, being cheaper, or aided by a monopoly. But the iPhone competitors have none of those crutches. So listen up, makers of would-be iPhone "killers": this isn't one of those cases where you can just make something "good enough" and hope to succeed simply on anti-Apple sentiment. Make something better. Spend some brainpower and R&D money on making something truly new. I'm a long-time user and admirer of Apple products, but that doesn't mean I don't want Apple to face some competition. We all want to see innovation. And what we don't need is for another Microsoftian purveyor of copy-cat inferior technology to rise to market dominance.
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Posted by Ken in: techwatch

Tuesday, 2009 November 3 - 8:16 am
Why is the process of making something cold called refrigeration? It's not like it was previously naturally, uh, frigerated.

Also, it bothers me that the abbreviation for "refrigerator" is "fridge" with a "d" in it. Of course, while I was growing up, our family called it the "rif", which didn't make much sense either.
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Posted by Ken in: interesting

Word of the Day
Monday, 2009 November 2 - 9:56 am
The word of the day is "cinereal", which means "ashen" (as in "grey"), because it's so grey outside today. I would totally have thought the word had something to do with documentaries, as in "cinema + reality". But it actually comes from the Latin word cineris, meaning "of ashes".

By the way, I've signed up for NaBloPoMo this month, so expect many more posts in this vein.
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Posted by Ken in: bloggersinteresting

College Football Recap
Sunday, 2009 November 1 - 6:08 pm
Michigan ennui; N.C. State loses in a shootout; USC, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia fall.

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Posted by Ken in: sports

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