September 14, 2003

Super Algidity!


My friend Diggity got a new USB 2.0 card, as friends are wont to do. The card came with a driver CD, as cards are wont to do. The driver CD has spelling errors, as driver CDs are wont to do.

But this is the most brutal and boldy proclaimed mistake I have ever seen. Something this horribly erronous would make a UMD Statesman copy editor cringe. I mean, geez. You’d think someone at the company would have caught this before letting 10.0 hit the market. This is the best they can do after 9.9 previous versions?

Whatever. It’s fun to say, and it is the perfect phrase to yell at people riding their fat skateboards down the middle of the street. Perhaps it will become the mighty yawp for a new generation.


(props to Ice Storm Music)

September 13, 2003

Gnarl Ridge

gnarl-ridge.jpgToday we hiked up to Gnarl Ridge on Mount Hood. If you fancy grainy mpeg panoramas of mountains and sharp volcanic rocks we’ve got your stuff. (2.1 mb video)

The film starts facing north (toward Mount Adams, if the ridge wasn’t in the way) and pans west to Mount Hood’s eastern slopes. Today was a really clear day and to the south we could see Mount Jefferson, the Three Sisters and Broken Top. Somewhere to the east is the where all the trolls live.

And what you can’t see is me holding a knife, sneaking up on an old man picking huckleberries, a pile of bear vomit filled with poisonous red berries, us trundling rocks down Pea Gravel Ridge, Primitive Man’s First Boomerang, a pack of ground squirrels skeletonizing a horse in twelve minutes and coyote poo with shark teeth in it. You also can’t see our conversations about hunting squirrels with rail guns, bears swimming upstream to spawn, giving Jimmy a pistol and shoving him down a dark hole to flush out a badger, painting poisonous berries and selling them to people in Hood River as blueberries, and why pushing rocks down hills is necessary as a human defense against Mother Nature.

“I mean, before you know it beavers will evolve chainsaws, and then where will we be? Where will we be, I ask you? We need to assert our dominance over other species or risk being out-evolved by them. Do you think the reason trees can’t pluck you from the ground and eat you is out of the goodness of their hearts? You’re only kidding yourself if you think they can’t see the long-term advantage of having such abilities. No, the only reason deer don’t have hammers and apes don’t run around with books on calculus is because we have stared them square in the eye and told them, There’s no way in hell we will tolerate that.

Typical fare for when the brain gets cooking.


September 12, 2003


I’m fine, I’m just lazy. Now that summer is unspun I am sleeping again and I can feel the wit and acidic verve returning to my marrow. Sweet, delicious marrow. The skunk outside my window just shot off another round, as though he was at risk of being completely forgotten and had to do something before he ran off to hibernate, lest all his efforts in the past months be forgotten.

Do skunks hibernate? I really don’t know on this one. With that white stripe it may be that they don’t hibernate at all, and they just blend into the snow so well they look like a completely different animal. A half-skunk that in the wild always appears right next to another half-skunk. Maybe with all the environmental funding in the Pacific Northwest channeled into finding out what a male sasquatch chooses to write in the snow, there’s never been a serious inquiry into whether the skunk and half-skunk are indeed the same animal in different seasons.

Or maybe on the fall equinox all skunks run into the freeway to get flattened by trucks so they don’t have to decide what to do for the winter. Who knows. Maybe the few that survive migrate to Tijuana. Or camp out under my window.

Today was an awesome day; one of those lovely fall days where the clouds suddenly part, you hit all the green lights, people wave you in front of them in the checkout lane, you conjure a delicious Thai meal out of broken English on the side of a jar and some good ol’ Scandanavian ingenuity and you find that your CDs were indeed stolen, but they were stolen by your evil and forgetful and forgetfully evil doppelganger Self, and hidden in your room.

You also fixed your kite, which had spawned another busted bladder thanks to a leaky nipple (ahem). There’s nothing more fun than going to Wal-Mart, buying nothing but baby powder and condoms, and pretending to be all nervous and secretive at the register. People talk, and you know it because you talk, and it’s quite delightful to outright give them something to talk about. You also smack your face into a door that you swear opened automatically last time you were in the store. They no doubt talk about that, too, even though that wasn’t intentional.

You also realize that you’re kind of washed out, so instead of penning more words to try and fix the problem you post a few pictures of monster trucks:


September 9, 2003


Tonight we’ve been enjoying A friend (who has enjoyed previous lives falling off cliffs, picking cactus needles out of his hands and being the Voice of Reason) has been enjoying an evening in the same vein with TechTV’s Real Life Cheat Codes. He asked if I remembered the address for Lobster Sticks to Magnet, a past favorite. I said of course, called up my archives and found the link.

And I was aghast to find that history’s home of Lobster Sticks to Magnet had since degraded into a pr0n site.

But this, this is the entropy of the Internet, my friends. Sad to say, but pr0n is the natural state of the web. Left to its own devices, untouched by the good (or ill) of man, the web will all inevitably turn to pr0n. And this does not even result from the actions of humans, mind you. Just as particles always move from a more to less dense space, from an ordered to an entropic state, so the Internet creeps towards absolute pr0nolization. No sinister intelligence or Evil Genius is required for the decay of the web.

But it seems the Universe has made a bizzare choice for the natural state of complex digital information networks. Traditionally it is believed that pr0n needs to be actively created, that it requires ahem human intervention to result in its existence. The likelihood that pr0n would just spontaneously pop into being as the inevitable output of a complex system seems nearly impossible.

Yet here is an example where Lobster Sticks to Magnet was left to its own devices, only to end up scandalous. Currently it is not in a very sophisticated or developed state, sure. The ladies are not professionals; the website says that outright. And their pictures are grainy and saucy enough to be driver’s license photos in a twisted burlesque country. And the page doesn’t specify which character encoding or DOCTYPE is to be used, and even when we override those shortcomings it returns 165 errors in the W3C’s Markup Validator.

But there are glimmers of intelligence, that should brighten the day of all evolutionists who believe that intelligent life can indeed awaken in the scums of our entropic little universe. At the bottom of the page, we see this:


Whoa. What speaketh here? Is it Neanderthal or Caveman? Eliza or Speak ‘n’ Spell? The Incredible Hulk or James Hetfield?

Whatever it is I like what it’s saying, even though it is a bit at odds with reality.

This One’s for Luke

britney-physics.jpgHave you ever wanted to learn about semiconductor physics, but find the subject so dreadfully boring that you always end up chasing squirrels, instead? Let Britney Spears make semiconductor physics fun and exciting!

hot steamy buttons!

If you’re looking at this page through Internet Exploder you’re probably wondering when I got kicked in the head by a horse. Why else would he make such strident efforts to make this thing so butt ugly? I assure you my head is fine, and the reasoning is due to other matters.

First, let’s get something straight: 95 percent of the online human population uses IE. 95 percent of the online human population has been hoodwinked by the worst web browser thrust upon mankind. Now let’s get something else straight: Web design is one of the least rewarding and most thankless activities conjured up in the last 6,000 years of human civilization. We slave away, upload and refresh until our page looks perfect in our casual previewing browser, only to watch the whole thing explode as soon as we switch platforms. I typically preview my pages in Opera 7 because it has wonderful support for web standards. I load my pages in IE only when I feel a need to exponentially increase my rage quotient.

Finally, let’s get something else straight: I love web design. Some people love hanging cinder blocks from their nipples and eating floor wax. Humans are strange animals.

The sad tale is that I retooled my links in the navigation bar to mimic buttons. This is all done through CSS instead of javascript and images. Fair enough. I got it semi-working in Opera, except that I was getting unpredictable color changes in the button text. After poking around in the stylesheet and HTML code I found that the button links were incorrectly inheriting the style of the #navigation element that the .nav-button element was nested in. In CSS, if two properties for an object intersect, the property that is most specific to that object is given the most weight. Children share their parents’ last name, but not that of all their grandparents.

Easy enough, but Opera was screwing it up, and if Opera is screwing something up it is definitely serious. The different background colors make it so that I can’t use the same link colors in the navigation and content windows, but the only way I could get the new buttons to display correctly was to eliminate the conflict between #navigation and .nav-button. As soon as I eliminate #navigation, however, the links in the navigation window inherit the default body colors, which are illegible on that background color. A different solution was in order.

So. I slid the default body colors to the #container element to preserve legibility on content links, and moved the #navigation colors into the default body position. The navigation buttons receive the .nav-button style without conflict, and standard navigation links inherit the body properties.

What does all this mean? It means everything works, and it’s super groovy because by using PHP includes and CSS I was able to make global changes by editing two files. Sure, editing those two files was frustrating, but so is fishing a fork out of the garbage disposal.

The link buttons look great in Opera. They look great in Mozilla. And that brings us to Exploder, which gets the margins wrong. Dead wrong. Here’s what I’m talking about:

The first one is Opera 7.11 for Windows. The second is Mozilla 1.4 for Windows. See how they’re remarkably similar? That’s partially because Opera is built off the open-source web browser Mozilla. It’s also because recent versions of Opera have excellent standards compliance. The last one is Internet Explorer 6.0 for Windows. Before we delve into what it gets wrong, let’s look at what IE gets right:

Background image.

Colors (that’s a no-brainer, really).

Font size.

Body margins.

Top spacing.

And wrong?

Margin between first button and top of the navigation box.

Borders coded as “dotted” appear dashed.

Margins around buttons.

IE also messes up the active fields for the button’s :hover state. Opera and Mozilla correctly change colors when you hover anywhere inside the button. IE changes only if you hover the actual link text or (strangely) the left margin. The right margin is completely unresponsive.

Let’s overlay the Opera and IE screenshots to see what else we can discover:

Disregard the background image, as its positioning is determined by the size of the browser window and has nothing to do with the inconsistencies we’re working with here. IE gets the top and left spacing of the navigation window, right down to the pixel. The width of the navigation window is also pixel-perfect. IE is playing a funny, funny game with margins between the buttons, and I’ll need to probe my code a bit for to figure out what’s going on in there. This makes me cranky.

Look at the borders for the content window and IE screws the pooch. The left border is off by two pixels in IE, and the text is indented three pixels too far. It aligns the top of the content window with that of the navigation window, even though it doesn’t align in Opera or Mozilla. I actually don’t know which browser is in the right, here, as my code specifies a 140 pixel spacing for both the content and navigation windows. Realize also that my code is not perfect, so I may have thrown in some funky margins or something without realizing it, or violated an unwritten rule of engagement in my clumsy attempt at the box model hack.

This is what we do.

September 6, 2003

Rowena 2 – Dane 6 Billion

HOO-YAH! It’s Saturday and we’re not thinkin’ straight! Let’s start saying things!

I had a wicked session today at Rowena! I nailed it, totally lit up on my 4.4 and Mistral Edge. Rowena. It took me all summer but I finally got her back, the old girl. I was totally dialed out on a plane, jammed into the footstraps, slicing and dicing up and down crashing four foot swells, skip-skopping over the water. I kept pulling reaches until the sun disappeared behind the smoke from the B&B Complex fires (Camp Sherman evacuated and 83,000 acres burned, at last count) and it was too dark to sail any longer. Yeee-ha!

What else? Plenty else!

I didn’t have cheese, so I thought disaster had struck my plans for a late, late dinner. Luckily I found some cornbread mix, so I’ll be able to sup just fine. Someone call Cornbread Harris cuz we’ve got a blues recording gig down at the Abandoned Railroad Trestle!

I played three gigs with Samba Hood Rio in the last twenty-four hours. While eating quesadillas with the band at the Trillium Cafe I spilled chocolate cake on my white cowboy shirt, tipped over my water glass and ordered the same meal as someone else at my table. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

Last night I saw a guy who was bleeding to death try to get into Savino’s without paying the cover. They wouldn’t let him in so instead he held his head and walked down Oak Street.

I’m currently drinking Earl Grey tea out of a mug with a kitty on it.

Here’s a tip: If you’re baking muffins and you don’t have enough batter to fill all the spots in the muffin tin, fill the empty spots with water (the technical term is spots). That way the tin won’t warp in the oven. You’ll also drown any muffin pixies living in your tin, that want nothing but to eat your delicious muffins when you TURN YOUR BACK ON THEM. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON MUFFIN PIXIES BECAUSE THEIR MOUTHS ARE FULL OF LIES AND VENOM.

One time at the Shell Lake Jazz Camp, Pavolka had us play a song called “Is There a Gig at the Meal?” It was a joke. I didn’t get it then and I don’t get it now.

I will not be cleaning my room this evening.

September 4, 2003

Today is Thursday

Just a quickie. Latest stats from the forest fire are 400 acres, a cow barn, a “structure” and an old lodge that was being turned into a bed and breakfast. My co-worker Dederick is a full-time firefighter and he was there Tuesday, from when the fire started until about 3:00 in the morning, guarding people’s homes. That’s more than twelve hours of stifling heat and cruddy air, and Dederick’s firefightin’ friend went to the hospital for heat exhaustion. These guys did one hell of a fine job protecting Cascade Locks and deserve mad props. Give ’em the knucks if you see ’em.

The Interstate is now open, but only single lanes in each direction as they fix the guard rails. I don’t know why they bother with guard rails in the first place; just seeing them there makes driving off the road seem that much more appealing.

My car has been stalling at intersections so I took a look to see what was wrong. I found a vacuum leak and fixed it with red electrical tape and a bouncy ball. It runs fine, now.

This weekend our Samba band has not one, not two, but three gigs.

September 3, 2003

The Roof is on Sprinkle

Yesterday the wind came back, but it swung around to the east and nipped us in the bum. Sometimes the wind blows from the east, here. It’s a rare event, like catching a badger with nothing but dental floss and a book on electricity, but it does happen. When the wind comes from the east it gets windy out at Stevenson, which is across the River from Cascade Locks on the Washington side, about twenty miles west of Hood River. Stevenson happens to be where a few Bee Dub employees were out sailing Tuesday morning.

And Cascade Locks happens to be where a forest fire popped up Tuesday morning. They were set to evacuate Cascade Locks because the fire was moving towards the town (helped along by delicious 20 mph winds gusting to 30), and they had to shut down I-84 from Troutdale to Hood River. People watered their houses, and some put sprinklers on their roofs. The interstate is still closed today as they fix the guard rails, which once had wooden posts. It sounds like the fire got 100 acres (and a barn and an old bed and breakfast) before it was contained, which by Northwest standards is pretty tame. They were already running trains this morning.

Nevertheless, the closed freeway snarled traffic across the Hood River Bridge and throughout the Gorge, as everyone diverted their travels to 14 over in Washington. It took Nelson four hours to do the twenty mile drive from Stevenson back to Hood River, Tuesday evening. Forest fires are like blizzards with flames instead of snow and property damage instead of coziness. Today the crowds were noticably thinner in Hood River, and in the afternoon the wind started huffing from the west and you could taste burning pine in the thick orange air. Tonight the moon is wed to Mars.

I think they should make a forest fire collectible card game. I also think they should redo popular music videos with surveillence camera footage. I also think they need to start a t-shirt company that makes all the cool shirts I want to buy. Shirts like “Parade Route Monitor,” “Sherpa,” “Not Pot” and “Alphabet Game.”

I also think American businesses need to take a hint from Japanese companies and have more business names like “Kite Junk” and more slogans like “I am very happy to see kite.” Lighten up, guys.

Where were we? Oh yeah. Stay out of my boots!