Monthly Archives: October 2007

Singers and Their Associated Foods

You know, I think we’re all born with just a little synaesthesia. Mine becomes apparent whenever I listen to a piece of music—I often find myself imagining the singer’s voice as a food item. As part of what will surely become my therapy, I’ve compiled a modest list of my favorite singers and which foods they sound like…er, taste like. Whatever.

  • Jon Anderson (Yes) – Cotton candy
  • Bono (U2) – Soup and crackers
  • Neil Diamond – Coffee and cigarettes
  • Peter Gabriel – Marmalade
  • Don Henley (Eagles) – Smoked ham
  • Michael Jackson – Twizzlers
  • Mick Jagger (The Rolling Stones) – Taquitos
  • Geddy Lee (Rush) – Jell-O
  • Kaustubh Pandav (Lucky Boys Confusion) – A Clark Bar
  • Steve Perry (Journey) – Scotch
  • Seal – Honey
  • Frank Sinatra – Pistachio ice cream
  • Britney Spears – Fish sandwich
  • Sting – Raspberry jam

What do your favorite singers taste like?

Bewildering Stories No. 264

Bewildering Stories

The latest edition of Bewildering Stories is now online (these guys / gals are up to the minute!). Authors included in this issue:

  • Philip Armstrong
  • Jesse Gordon
  • Marge Burke
  • Lyndon G. Perry
  • Sergio Gaut vel Hartman
  • Julie Ann Shapiro
  • Kevin Ahearn
  • Peter A. Balaskas
  • Claës Lundin
  • Lee Moan
  • Thomas R.
  • Anna Ruiz
  • John Stocks
  • Arthur Vibert

That Gordon fellow sounds awfully familiar. ;)

My Beloved Santa Clarita…

No, not rainclouds...

The backdrop for Alyssa Newman and Carl Hanson’s danger-hunting adventures has gone up in flames. And that’s just one of about a dozen parts of the Southland currently being scorched. The Santa Ana winds have died down somewhat as of this morning, but it still looks like a war zone out there. I remember it being said by friends and family during news flashes of the Greece fires, “Wow, this is so unreal.”

Well. It’s become quite real.

Phlegm

Ugh. The Santa Anas are kicking my ass right now. Southern California’s got a dozen wildfires raging, and everything’s blowing around every which way. Excess mucus is nothing, though. The local counties’ firefighters are surely dealing with hell on Earth, high winds, injuries, and an exhausted force at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In fact, there was a story on the evening news about how a group of news reporters covering a blaze dropped their cameras at one point and helped with the hoses. I think that’s the first time I ever felt respect for anyone in the news media. :P

And here I am, bedridden, bitching about a head swollen with phlegm and snot. I’ve spent the evening with a box of tissue and a small stack of DVDs to pass the time. They say you’re supposed to steer clear of milk and cheese while you’re congested, but I’ve come to the conclusion that those of us who are blessed with asthmatic genes will get phlegm attacks regardless of what we eat or drink. I once got one after drinking a glass of water in the morning. I can go for weeks without dairy and have just about the most miserable time ever. I figure if I’m going to have to rot in bed from time to time, I might as well do it with a bowl of ice cream or a slice of pizza under my belt.

So. I’ve been watching movies all night. I’ve learned a number of valuable things. One: The Three Stooges are excellent for clearing out the ol’ bronchial tubes. “False Alarms” does the trick for me; whenever I see Larry careening down a pole, I spend at least 10 minutes laughing / hacking my guts out. Haughing my guts out, to be more precise. You smokers know what I’m talking about.

Two: Athletes shouldn’t become actors. Case study: Weird Science (1985). I never cared for dancer-turned-actor Ilan Mitchell-Smith’s performance as Wyatt, though he did nail a perfect deadpan stare during the breakfast scene where Chet (played by my hero, Bill Paxton) confronts him about wearing women’s underwear:

The next thing you know, you'll be wearing a bra on your head!

The next thing you know, you'll be wearing a bra on your head!

I can’t believe I’d been watching this movie for nearly 20 years before I caught that little bit of comic genius!

Anyway, with temperatures slated to be in the 90s through Friday, with pine needles and ashen flakes finding their way into every one of Orange County’s nooks and crannies, I hereby relinquish myself to the new week. It’s going to be a long one. Rah.

Be well, boys and girls.

Flashback

High noon in Los Angeles

High noon in Los Angeles

Does anyone remember the game Flashback? Slow, quiet, three-button gameplay—no wonder I was totally into this back when everyone else on the block was fighting for blood in Street Fighter. I’ve recently started playing again in an on again, off again manner. I’m aiming to complete the game sometime in Q3 2008. :p

Ubuntu 7.10: A Brief Out-of-Box Experience

Ubuntu 7.10, live CD - and with only a single snafu!

Ubuntu 7.10, live CD - and with only a single snafu!

Update: It seems the ENE card reader (CB-712/4) in my Acer Aspire 5100-5674 doesn’t work too well after all. Two of my 256mb SD (Secure Digital) cards mount / work just fine; my 2gb SD card mounts, but gives me I/O errors whenever I try to copy to or from it. I have yet to receive any feedback concerning the problem, so I can only assume the Linux ENE drivers don’t yet (properly) support SD cards larger than 256mb(?).

* * *

Preliminary thoughts on Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon): a reasonably worthwhile upgrade, if not for the security fixes, then for the under-the-hood updates, as well as the fabulous software repository. And GNOME 2.20.

Wireless / video card configuration is now as simple as checking a pair of boxes in the “restricted drivers” dialog—if you’re savvy enough to figure out that that’s what you need to do. Unfortunately, GNOME isn’t very helpful in this respect. Upon first logging in, a panel icon informed me, erroneously, that both my wired and wireless connections were enabled; this didn’t necessarily mean that I was able to go online. It turns out I first had to enable the appropriate “restricted drivers” for my Broadcom chipset—but before I could do that, I had to make sure there was a working Internet connection (read: catch-22!), and I had to enable the proper repository.

Time for some menu-hunting

Then I could enable the restricted / illegal / immoral drivers in question. For moderately experienced Linux users, the process is a yawn; for newbies, a pop-up box or informational tool-tip would be of great benefit. Better yet: A clear, concise “getting started” sheet. Maybe that will come in a future Ubuntu release…

As with Ubuntu 7.04, my laptop’s sound system (Realtek HD Audio) works great with 7.10. Better than with the pre-installed version of Windows Vista that came with it (despite having DMA enabled, the latest audio and video card drivers installed, Vista’s sound system cracks and creaks during high network activity). And my built-in ENE flash card reader is finally supported! Which means Acer Aspire 5100 owners are only a single piece of hardware away from having a fully-functional, Linux-based laptop. The straggler? Why, Acer’s OrbiCam, of course. There’s a bit of a fuss in the forums about whether or not this device will ever be supported out-of-box, and whether it’s even worth the hacking time. The state of video in Linux is still primitive. Most people recommend buying a supported USB camera; since I’m a starving writer, I’ll continue to stick it out with Vista, which, despite its various eccentricities, supports all my hardware, and hasn’t crashed on me.

As of yet. ;)

Lunapark6 has a more in-depth review here:

http://lunapark6.com/ubuntu-710-gutsy-desktop-edition-review.html

Linux Mint 3.1

The Mint desktop after I've had my way with it

Mint. It flavors your toothpaste, makes peppermint patties all the more enjoyable, and now it powers your PC. I installed the Ubuntu / GNOME-based Linux Mint 3.1 on an Acer Aspire 5100-5674 laptop in late September, and have been using the system for about two weeks without too many hiccups. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The installation process went without a hitch and took about half an hour. I opted to use the entire hard drive, so it beats me how effective Mint’s partitioning tool is. Upon restart, I was presented with your typical log-in screen, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my laptop’s default screen resolution of 1280×800 was recognized.

I logged in and started performing the usual post-op tasks, starting with 3D drivers for my video card (ATI Radeon Xpress 1100). For this, Mint provides an everyman’s tool: Envy.

Butt-ugly, but it does the job

Choosing the “Install the ATI driver” option resulted in the proper video drivers being downloaded and installed (luckily I’d already plugged into my wired network, else the script surely would have come down with a case of the bends). Upon restart, I fired up a terminal and ran the ol’ “glxgears” command, and all was well—at ~1500fps.

Sound worked without nary a pop or scratch. Thanks to a Python script provided in the Mint forum, my built-in Broadcom wireless card works, though after an hour or so of surfing the Web, I had my first system freeze-up in two weeks. This may or may not be related to wireless drivers; I’ll have to wait and see if the problem recurs.

Two pieces of hardware that refuse to play nice: the ENE flash card reader and the Acer OrbiCam. The card reader will supposedly be supported by an upcoming version of Ubuntu; I haven’t looked too deeply into the webcam problem as I’m not a webcam kind of guy. I suppose it would be nice to have if a 19-year-old cheerleader named Ashley wanted to cyber. :P

On the desktop side of things, the included GNOME 2.18.1 is its usual minimalistic self, save for the inclusion of the Mint Menu:

A bit silly, though the search function is nice

…which strikes me as an attempt to keep up with Windows Vista’s beefed-up Start menu. Ultimately, I don’t think it’s worth replacing the standard (and quite efficient) GNOME main menu unless you specifically prefer the Vista-ish style.

On the topic of GNOME, I should point out that in a previous article, I offered a list of annoyances that kept me from using GNOME as my primary desktop. Let’s see what’s changed, if anything:

  • Window manager maximization troubles—gone, for the most part. One or two apps still have trouble remembering how to stay maximized; I’ve been told that it’s an app issue and not the fault of the window manager. An improvement, regardless.
  • File selector dialog—still has a tendency to open up at the bottom of the screen, forcing me to drag the window up so I can resize it to give me a decent file view. This is unforgivable.
  • The automount feature in Nautilus seems to no longer interfere with CD / DVD burning. Hurrah!
  • Mime types and file type icons are still not editable via a handy dialog box, ala KDE or Windows. Not quite unforgivable as the file selector problem, but annoying nonetheless.
  • Scrollbar width is still not easily adjustable. I’m sure this will become more of an issue as higher DPI monitors become more mainstream.
  • Screensaver options are still unavailable.
  • GnomeBaker—I gave up and started using K3b, a vastly superior CD / DVD burning application. No Mode 2/XA problems there.
  • GNOME panel menu editing is now as easy as right-clicking the launch button / logo and selecting “Edit Menus.” Good job, boys and girls.

Overall, Mint has satisfied my lust for a good office system that lets me listen to MP3s while I work or watch videos during my lunch break. My laptop’s boot time is about 60% faster than it was using Vista, and the odd audio-versus-network overhead problem that caused my sound to skip in Vista is blissfully gone in Mint (I suspect this is the case with most modern Linux distributions). The included audio and video codecs work out of the box—though Firefox tends to crash often with the Flash plugin installed. But that’s always been the case with Flash in Linux, and it will most likely continue to be the case as long as Adobe refuses to treat their Linux presence as more than just an afterthought.

But I digress. ;)

A Sophomore’s To-Do List

Here’s a to-do list that I vaguely remember scribbling in English class, circa 1995, if carbon dating is accurate. (A “+” stands for success, a “-” stands for failure, and a “?” means that I don’t remember what the hell I was talking about.)

  • Finish Funny Faces #42 (-)
  • Put weight set to good use and bulk up to impress Cathy (?)
  • Find four top 40 songs for next week’s radio show (+)
  • Make love to Pamela Anderson (-)
  • Ask God nicely to reincarnate me as Monica Flammer’s leotard if I die in the next 30 days (-)
  • Pass Geometry test (+)
  • Find tree with hole at crotch level; make love to hole (?)
  • Join the tennis team with Phil (-)
  • Steal Quan from A.J. (…)
  • Make love to Quan (-)
  • Start shaving (+)
  • Grow two more inches so that you and Rachel don’t look so lopsided (-)
  • Learn to play guitar (+)
  • Make love to guitar (wtf)

Ah, the aspirations of a loser.