December 2006 Archives

The War On Christmas

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The whole "Secular Humanists are trying to destroy Christmas by insisting that people say "Happy Holidays"" thing is really driving my crazy, for several reasons.

I think that what bothers me most is that, let's face it, Christmas is observed by more secular humanists than any other holiday. I don't know anyone that is not Jewish that celebrates Hanukkah, or any non-Muslims that fast for Ramadan. I don't know anyone at all that celebrates Kwanzaa.

But I know tons of non-religious, even atheistic people that celebrate Christmas. I am about the most secular humanist that you will ever find, and while I don't have a tree or a nativity scene around, I have Christmas presents. For me Christmas has very little to do with the seizure of a pagan festival for Catholic recruiting (it's traditional meaning), and everything to do with separating the people I know into those who are worthy of a present,and those who are not. Really, isn't that the true reason for the season?

Personally, I started consciously saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" at least ten years ago. The reason, surprisingly, wasn't because I wanted to destroy the (apparently very, very fragile) foundations of modern Christianity. It was because what I was trying to communicate with this well wishing was not about me - it was about the person I was wishing well to. While I might be celebrating Christmas, when I wished well to someone, I had no idea what holiday they might be celebrating, and it seemed a bit, well, dickish to assume that I could impose my holiday on them. So I started saying "Happy Holidays". Because it's not about what I want - it's about what I am wishing for them.

And that, I think, is what people like Bill O'Reilly will never get - that, for a moment, it is not about them.

Home Again, Home Again

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I wimped out - I admit it. When, at about 5:30, with only 120 miles to go to home I began hallucinating, I pulled over and took a nap for an hour and a half.

But, at 9:40 on Saturday morning I made it home. I did not, as so many predicted (you, and I, know who you are), die in a horrible car accident. I fell asleep for 4 hours right away. I got to see Kieran and overall X-Mas has gone pretty well.

Thanks to all who wished me well, in that they wished me no specific harm.

My Holiday Adventure

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Thursday morning I got the the airport here in Philadelphia when it opened - 5:00. There were already lines forming up at the United desk since, as I already knew, all flights going through Denver had been cancelled due to weather. It's also the middle of the Christmas travel season.

Four and a half hours later I made it to the ticket counter, where I learned that there was no way I was getting on an airplane before December 27. This is not only after Christmas, it's the day after Kieran goes back to Seattle. I had to leave for Philadelphia on business the day before he came out, of course, so I haven't been able to see him (though he's was snowed in at my house in Colorado Springs with Ashley). I somehow, have to get home before he leaves...

By 4:15 I made it to the Greyhound station, with tickets to Colorado springs, but no promises about buses actually making the last leg of the trip. If everything goes well, I'll be home by Saturday morning; after a 42 hour bus trip.

Did I mention that I couldn't get to sleep at all Wednesday night? As I get on the bus I haven't slept in 32 hours.

Friday morning we made it into St. Louis without incident. I managed to sleep maybe two hours on the bus. The reading lights on the bus are turned off, so I spent all the rest of the time staring out into the dark.

I made my transfer to the Kansas City line, and we arrive there a little late, but in time to make my connection. However, upon arrival we find out that there are 120 people there that have been stranded for three days, and that there are only two buses leaving at 7:45, and another leaving at 12:30 AM. My chances of getting on a bus before 6:30 AM on Saturday are tiny, and even if I made it, I am not getting to Colorado Springs before late Saturday night.

I don't know if it was the 2 hours of sleep in 58 hours, or the thought of staying awake another 11 hours to wait for a bus, but something snaps...and I have a brilliant idea.

A cab ride to the airport, a rental car, a modifinal and 5 hours later, I am in Salinas Kansas - 420 miles from home, wide awake in a Flying J truckstop getting something to eat. Best estimates say that I will arrive home around 5:00AM after a night of non-stop driving.

I am crazy, but I will make it home for Christmas...

Nintendo Wii

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So, through a complicated and extremely suspicious series of events I managed to get a Nintendo Wii on launch day, despite having failed to pre-order one. Suffice to say that it helps to know people...awesome people.

Anyway, after playing with the thing for a few weeks I have decided to finally write something about it.

It's pretty freakin' awesome.

The motion sensing control is pretty good - not nearly as bad as some of the early reviews were saying. It's not perfect, but it's certainly very, very usable.

The Mii character maker is cute, and so far everyone has been very pleased with their ability to make a game character that resembles them. Oh - our Wii number is 3951 5687 0232 8752 and the nickname is "edgore" if you want to add us and let our Miis mingle with yours.

The games are all pretty good - none of them are spectacular, but they are all really fun to play, especially with multiple controllers and multiple people. I don't think there has ever been a console launch that was so heavy with games for more than 2 players.

Playing with this thing reminds me a lot of my first 128K Macintosh back in 1984. The Mac had only black and white graphics, but it had a mouse and a graphic interface - you interacted with programs not by typing cryptic commands, but by moving the mouse around and manipulating virtual objects. That's what using the Wii feels like. I can imagine a version of Soul Caliber, for instance that insead of relying of a series of button presses for combos instead uses the movement of the Wiimote for control.

And that would totally rule, though not as much as my idea for a giant monster games where you ducttape Wii-motes all over your limbs and rampage through a virtual city.

My other game ideas for the Nintendo Wii include:
1. Baby Harp Seal Hunt - You know that you have already thought about it.
3. Beat Beat Cop! - Combines the challenge of rhythm games with the fun of wailing on suspects with a nightstick
4. The Babysitters' Club - Shake the Wii-mote to shake the baby until it stops goddammed crying.

Update on Experiment IV

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It's been a long time since I posted an update on my experiment using Provigil to stay awake, since nothing seems to make me go to sleep reliably.

The reason for this is that I haven't taken any in a month. I stopped taking it regularly over a month ago because the dry eyeside effect was really, really bad towards the end of the day (I have dry eyes to being with). Basically, I just didn't feel like I was getting a lot out of it. It was making me slightly more alert and attentive, but not enough that it was worth the slight jitteriness and the dry eye. So now I have a huge supply of Provigil. I imagine that I might use it on occasion when I have a particularly terrible night's sleep and need to get stuff done the next morning, but I can't see using it as a regular thing.

So, this experiment is officailly over.

What is the next psychoactive drug that I should get perscribed for me? Is there anything really super cool on the horizon in the areas of sleep , wakefulness, or artifical happiness? Or maybe all three? I would love to take one pill that makes me sleep, lets me wake up energized and also makes me happy. If it also lowered my cholesterol level that would be awesome. It should be peppermint flavored as well.

Post your suggestions in the comments and I will see what my doctor can do. Oh, and none of this herbal crap. I want something made in a lab and cruelly tested on rats and monkeys before I cruelly test it on myself.

Psycho Analysis

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Watched "Thank You For Smoking" tonight, a highly, highly recommended movie. Great acting, creepy kid, Katie Holmes not being married to Tom Cruise; really very little to complain about.

However, it reminded me again of my love for "Boston Legal" and the sexy, sexy sociopaths that inhabit it. "Thank You For Smoking" is inhabited by pretty much the same type of people. Yes, there is the main character who is obviously a sociopath, but all the other characters basically are as well. They are horrible people that have no idea how their actions impact other people.

And I love them.

What is it with my attraction to dangerous, horrible sociopaths (really...all my relationship's except for one. If we have dated and you are reading this, obviously, you are that one exception, okay)?

After spending a lot of time (over an hour!) thinking about it, I have come to the conclusion that it's a "remembrance of things past" thing. I am attracted to/fascinated by sociopaths because it's a "the road not taken" thing. There was a time (about twenty-one years ago) when I was that "really, really selfish and really, really happy-with-himself" person.

I miss that, sometimes.

I spend all of my time these days doing "the right-thing". It's what I ultimately always have to do; but I sometimes miss being that selfish jerk on occasion. Not that I would admit it, but, you know, when I am lying awake in bed at 4:30 in the morning it does cross my mind.

I think that is why I love Boston Legal and "Thank You For Smoking"; not because I see myself in them, (no matter how much I might practice the "Alan Shore" inflections) but because I see the shallow, happy jerk I could have been instead, and, God, I want that sometimes. I really, really do.

But I can't have it. Not that I am "too good", or better than that, or anything like that - I simply don't have the stomach for it anymore; I have too much empathy for my fellow man/woman.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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