Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is that a computer in your pocket, or are you just happy to read me?

Yeah, don't think about the title too hard.

The point is that evidently "From the Depths" is now for sale in the tiniest format available: the electron. If you have one of them fancy Kindle devices, you can download the whole thing and read it wherever (Except maybe while driving. Or underwater. Or fighting an unseen enemy onboard a derelict submarine.).

Anyway, give it a shot: Download it here. And welcome me to the 21st Century.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving thanks is tricky

And here's why. Allegedly Thanksgiving is the one day each year when you're supposed to give thanks. But of course this only applies to U.S. residents. Because Plymouth Rock and harvest bounty and Native Americans.

To further complicate matters, we're also told that if you squint your eyes a little and hold your head the right way, you see the bigger point is that you should always be thankful for stuff. Like, every day.

Woodstock is a bird. Turkeys are birds. Be thankful that you didn't
think too hard about this situation as a kid.

So what is a thankful person to do? Despite decades of experience at being a human being and an actual degree in philosophy, I'm not sure I have any concrete answers.

But guidelines? Yeah. I can do guidelines.

1) Taking anything for granted is an extraordinarily bad idea. I guess that's pretty close to the idea of being thankful every day, but it's not exactly the same thing. Because...

2) Getting hung up in always being thankful means you actually miss out on a fair amount of what you're being thankful for.

3) The stuff you're not thankful for? All life's kicks in the shins and poison apples? Don't waste your time trying to tell yourself it all happens for a reason. But do remember that we're the sum of our experiences: Even the stuff that makes us miserable also makes us who we are. Besides, would you appreciate summer without winter? No. (trust me on this--I have lived in Florida)

Maybe I'm thinking about all this too hard. It's a weakness of mine. Or maybe my weekend, which, remember, just ended Monday, was just that edifying.

But at any rate, yes. As it turns out, being thankful ain't easy... but it's necessary. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So this is where all the empty space in my head is going

Today I logged into my computer at work after a four-day absence--a fun, refreshing, yet barbecue-free(!) trip to Kansas City occurred in the interim--and was reminded that I needed to change my password.

No, I'm not going to give it to you. Not that being able to log into CCI is that valuable a commodity. (Unless you're a masochist, and if you know what CCI is, you probably are.)

But it occurred to me, as I was reminded about something that I'm not supposed to ever forget, how MANY freaking passwords are rattling around in my brain. Just off the top of my head, I've got one for the Tribune, one at Northwestern, one for each of my several private e-mail accounts, one for, my cell phone,, various message boards... and so on. AND YET I DON'T FORGET ANY OF THEM.

The bizarre part is that I forget stuff all the time. What to buy at the grocery store. Where the car is parked. How many beers I had last night. Wait--forget I typed that last part.

So, in conclusion, some vague point about how I remember passwords and snippets of conversation from a decade ago, yet forget basic stuff that has immediate bearing on my life.

If I remember what I was trying to say, I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Piracy: Remember when?

It seems like just yesterday that piracy--real, swashbuckling, ship-seizing, Jolly Roger-flying piracy--was solely the territory of Hollywood. And it was a profitable business! Just throw some mascara and a bandana on your star, throw in a few cutlasses and pieces of eight, and you were rolling.

Now, though, piracy appears to be, well... big business. And real! According to the Associated Press, it's gotten to the point where major oil shipping companies are telling their tankers to sail around Africa rather than head through pirate-infested waters.

We live in bizarrrrrgh times.

And think: When was the last time you heard the term "pirate-infested waters?" The 18th Century?

Not sure what my point is here, other than that the world has become a really bizarre place during the last few years. If the Pony Express and tri-corner hats make a comeback, we'll know it's serious.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A bright spot in a dark month

Sure, sure--it's getting dark ridiculously early and every third day is gray, cold and rainy. But November also marks a magical moment in every year. No, not Black Friday.

The start of college basketball season.

And so to usher in this most sublime of sporting moments, I offer you two bits of roundball awesomeness:

1) Footage of former Kansas forward Darrell Arthur dunking on top of a hapless Villanova player during the NCAA tournament. (Which Kansas won. Just FYI.)

2) A test of your NCAA basketball knowledge. Can you name the top 24 schools in Final Four appearances? (I got 19 on my first try.)

So, in conclusion, yes, I am a huge basketball dork.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

More appropriate for a Monday than a Friday, maybe

But in any case, I present to you:

That's right. It's a Webcam of a box full of puppies. Have a great weekend, and forgive me for being That Guy Who Provides an Annoyingly Cute Link for one day. I'll be back to blood and cynicism next week.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What's black and white and selling for $100 on eBay?

A newspaper!

The newspaper, actually: The Chicago Tribune's edition from the day after Election Day. Actual retail value is 75 cents. Demand has been so great that the paper has re-rolled the presses and printed several hundred thousand more copies.

Free shipping? To your front door? Why has no newspaper ever thought of this?

I've never seen anything like this, but it shows a clear path to saving a financially troubled industry. We just need a historic presidential election, oh, once a week or so. Why didn't anyone think of this before?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Or don't.

But as we usher in All Hallows' Eve, here's a scientific look at how many Americans believe, for instance, that they could be haunted. Done by Gallup, no less. (shouldn't they be off polling likely voters or something?)

The finding that jumped out at me:

The witch trials in Europe and the United States ended hundreds of years ago, but Americans are significantly more likely to believe in witches than are Britons and Canadians. One in five Americans (21%) say they believe in witches, compared with 13% for both Canada and Great Britain. However, witches are the only item on the list in which a solid majority of respondents in all three countries do not believe.

What the hell are wrong with the Brits and Canadians? When the Great Witch Invasion begins in 2066, they'll be sorry. (or turned into toads)