Geeky stuff Photography Places I've been

McDonald Observatory and The Milky Way

McDonald Observatory and the Milky Way

View this one BIG.

Geeky stuff Law Photography

Nailed ‘Em!

As someone who has been harassed for taking pictures in a public place before, this bit from Colbert made me smile.

Geeky stuff Photography Religion

Give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

I’m about halfway through reading Sarah Vowell’s The Wordy Shipmates and it reminded me that I had this old photo sitting on the hard drive unprocessed and previously unseen to the world. So here it is.

Oh, and the book is fantastic. It’s about Puritans. Not the ones who were on the Mayflower or the ones who burned witches. Just your regular old, run of the mill John Winthrop style of Puritan. Not that any Puritans could really be run of the mill. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

Brilliance in Marketing Geeky stuff Religion

Jesus is my sommelier

Inspired by a bit of wit in a conversation this afternoon, I’ve created a blasphemously fun t-shirt I thought I’d share.

Get it HERE.

Geeky stuff

Nerdy font humor at its greatest

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

If only there were a way that Comic Sans could have died at the end…

Geeky stuff

The Fishstick — Making it Mellow

As many of you know, I’m a virtual dance machine. (Emphasis on the “virtual.”)

That’s right, just get me fueled up with about 2-3 quarts of liquid rhythm and I’m an unstoppable ninja of jitterbug and jive. Whether it’s cranking that Soulja Boy or simply sliding electrically, one thing is for certain:

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard. And damn right, it’s better than yours.

Some would suggest that I should charge for teaching you moves such as mine. But I see such efforts as a public service. I know I’m doing my part to make the world a more soulful place.

So today, we’ll start with the latest dance craze that’s sweeping the nation. That’s right, I’m talking about THE FISHSTICK. You may have heard about the Fishstick if you listen to You Look Nice Today. If you don’t listen to YLNT (and you are not my parents) you probably should.

So what IS the Fishstick, you say?

Well, it’s probably easier to describe what the Fishstick is not.

The Fishstick is not a “line dance.” You could perhaps do it while standing in a line. And perhaps everyone in that line may be doing the Fishstick. But unlike a “line dance” there is not, nor should there be, a coordination of the movements of the individuals present.

There are no “steps” to the Fishstick. The Fishstick is predominantly an intellectual pursuit. As Merlin Mann said while debuting the dance on YLNT, “the Fishstick is mostly happening in your head.”

The Fishstick is not flamboyant or flashy. It has a subtle grace. In fact, it may not be obvious. The Fishstick is often mistaken for spasms or slight seizures.

But really, haven’t we talked about the Fishstick enough? It’s probably better that I just show you.

Because the Fishstick is particularly mellow and limited range of motion is not an impediment to its exhibition, the Fishstick is well suited for performing while driving. Certainly more so than the Charleston.

So that’s the situation for this instructional clip. Follow along, if you’re feeling it.

Now would be an appropriate time to point out that there are several regional varieties of the Fishstick. The traditional music to which the Fishstick should be performed if doing the original “San Francisco Style” Fishstick is Tighten Up by Archie Bell and the Drells.

In North Texas, this would be a major faux pas. Up here we have a particular distaste for all things from Houston, the Drells’ home town, which is prominently mentioned in their version of the song. So performing to their version would be like showing up at Wrigley Field wearing a White Sox cap and t-shirt — a bad, bad idea. Therefore, in the greater Dallas area the Fishstick is commonly performed to the version of Tighten Up which appears on James Brown’s Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68 album.

I also realize that some of you are saying to yourselves, “Hey, I think this video has been edited! Can’t you show us the Fishstick in a single take?”

Good eyes, keen observer! You are absolutely right: This video has been edited. If you look closely, you may notice that I am driving a big, American pickup truck. Since this clip is nearly NINETY SECONDS LONG I had to stop for gas in the middle of the filming, so it only made sense to edit that out. I also stopped at Sonic for a delicious strawberry limeade. Proper hydration is key to a good Fishstick.

Geeky stuff Internet

Twistori is what’s so beautiful about the internet

I know I haven’t updated in a while. I’ve been insanely busy the last couple of weeks (business is good) and just haven’t had time to write anything. Rest assured though, I’ve been bookmarking a few things to post about. And more importantly, the site I’m passing along in today’s post will make up for my recent absence.

Last night I was catching up on Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur’s net@night podcast while burning the midnight oil plugging away on some code. As I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love it whenever you can get a peek into the “hive mind” of the internet and simultaneously get a glimpse of both the macro and the micro of what a community is thinking. On episode 52 Leo and Amber discussed something that I knew I had to check out:


Here’s a screenshot:
Twistori screenshot

Sweet Jeebus, this thing is cool.

What it does is scan the latest posts on Twitter for each of those six words on the left of the screen. Then it just displays those posts in a continually updating feed. It’s mesmerizing to watch. Some of the posts will be hilarious. Some will be deeply personal and serious. Looking at this evoked a bit of the same emotions I had the first time I saw PostSecret.

Anyway, I just thought this was exceptionally cool and beautiful.

Oh, and they even made a screen saver out of it. (I think it’s Mac only, though.) What’s especially nifty about the screen saver is that I have a dual monitor setup, and it will start the feed in different places for each monitor. So I may have “love” on one screen and “hate” on the other. And come on, that’s just totally wickedly cool.

Geeky stuff Music

Rush – The Chess Club of Rock Bands

Last night my buddy Scott and I saw Rush at the Superstarnoff Musicplex Center.

Good gracious, what a ridiculously awesome show.

In the last year or so I’ve been catching up on a lot of the “classics,” and this show was BY FAR the best of the bunch. The Police was fairly disappointing, The Who was great (though obviously past their prime and missing half the band), but Rush was absolutely FANTASTIC.

The band has certainly aged, and cracked jokes about needing an intermission because they’re “not spring chickens anymore” but musically they haven’t lost a beat. In fact, I’d venture to say that if anything they’ve only gotten better. Geddy Lee still belongs on the cover of Bass Player magazine and hops all over the stage. Alex Lifeson makes me drool both over his immense talent and his immense collection of gear. Neil Peart could still make Thor blush with the thunder that he brings forth. (Though I’m sure Mr. Weir still disagrees.)

And as for the spectacle of the thing … sweet jeebus, do these guys know how to put on a show. Pyrotechnics, frickin’ laser beams, the McKenzie brothers from Strange Brew, a badass song intro courtesy of Southpark…

Such a damn good show. Everyone should experience this, at least once in their lives.

A couple of observations on the crowd:

1 – The nerdiest crowd of any “mainstream” act you’ll see
Well, what else would you expect from a band whose lyrics are often inspired by science fiction and Ayn Rand novels? If you were in any nerdier of an audience you’d probably be wearing a costume of some sort or dodging flying boxes of Kraft Cheese and Macaroni. There were several cars in the parking lot with bumper stickers like “My Other Car is a Tardis” and “Marching Bands Do It With Rhythm.”

2 – Superstarnoff Musicplex Center sells a lot of hot dogs to this crowd
That’s not because these are particularly the kind of people who like concession stand food, but because for being such a nerdy crowd, this is the closest thing many of them will get to an Allman Brothers or Grateful Dead show. Though it doesn’t seem to be nearly as common at concerts much any more, there was a thick haze over portions of the crowd that couldn’t be attributed to the fog machine. And you know, after a while, man, those nachos just start to look sooooo good.

3 – It was an overwhelmingly male crowd
There tends to be something about Rush that just draws Y-chromosomes and repels estrogen. As far back as I can remember, I’ve really only known one girl who liked Rush, and a lot of people pretty much already assumed she was a lesbian. That’s fine. Truth be told, we guys are quite happy to enjoy air drumming along in the audience without being told to cut it out because “we’re making a scene.” Speaking of which…

4 – You will never see more “air drumming” in your life
90% of the dudes in the crowd looked like this:

From the hip Geeky stuff Politics

3 things I do that are killing the planet and don’t intend to stop doing

Yes, he's doing exactly what you think he's doing

Yesterday was Earth Day.

The internets were full of all sorts of handy tips of everyday things you can do to save resources and save the planet — things like turning the water off while you brush your teeth or keeping your tires properly inflated.

For the most part, I’m fairly environmentally conscious. I reuse and recycle just about everything I can. I don’t buy bottled water. I avoid plastic bags whenever I’m shopping. (Seriously, dude at 7-11, don’t put my single pack of gum in a bag!) I leave my thermostat set a couple of degrees higher than most people in the summer and lower in the winter.

With all that said, I’m going to use this post to make three confessions. I have a a few habits that many would consider environmentally unsound, but I do them anyway. And I have no plans of changing.

1 – I take really long showers.
We’re talking “until the hot water runs out” long. The shower is a sacred retreat. There are few places more comforting to me than the “think tank.” I love the steam. I love the white noise. I love the lack of distractions. I can’t hear the phone. I can’t hear the doorbell. I can’t hear the cars pass by on Park Springs Boulevard. I love the shower. You can take my steamy, hot shower away when you pry the loofah from my cold, dead, pruney hands.

2 – I drive a bigass pickup truck.
Well, there might be a little remorse here. It’s not so much that I wouldn’t rather be driving a smaller truck, but that I couldn’t cost justify it. And sadly, the “smaller” trucks these days (a) really aren’t that much smaller and (b) don’t get significantly better gas mileage. Put a new Dodge Dakota next to the old Chevy LUV pickup I drove in high school and you’ll see what I mean. When you combined the higher resale value, better utility, and the ability to actually FIND them here in Texas, the bigger truck just made a lot more sense. (Seriously, most dealers don’t even bother stocking the small trucks around here. Go figure.) All in all, I’d love it if they brought back the LUV. That was a great, economical little truck. But when I can get 20mpg in my Sierra, the “mid-size” options just don’t make much sense. I should also point out that I don’t commute. I work at home, so the truck hardly gets many miles put on it anyway. So far I’m on pace to keep the odometer in the four digit range all year long.

3 – I eat cows. Lots of them.
Cows are tasty. Supposedly they consume a disproportionate amount of natural resources, and I think for cows that spend their entire lives on feed lots eating imported grain there may be some truth to that. But seriously people, have you eaten grass-fed beef? Have you had a thick steak grilled over an open fire until it was a nice juicy red medium rare in the middle? If you’ve only been eating “well done” beef, you may as well have been eating charcoal, anyway. You go ahead and switch to a vegetarian diet. I’ll eat your cows for you.

Geeky stuff Internet

I Want You to Want Me

I stumbled upon the niftiest thing this morning on Boing Boing Gadgets. I’d summarize it myself, but Joel Johnson did a much better job than I could possibly do myself at 7am on a Sunday…

Despite having nothing to do with Cheap Trick at all — except for the cheap trick we all play on ourselves believing there is anything unique or selfish about the need to love and to be loved — “I Want You to Want Me” is an interactive art project built from data mined from various dating sites, organizing into a heart-achingly beautiful touchscreen presentation where each person is represented as a balloon.

I find this serendipitously wonderful for so many reasons.

I’ve had ideas of doing something akin to this even before I took my first of two jobs in the online dating industry about five years ago. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of “the wisdom of crowds” and this project appears to have elegantly portrayed both the strength of the collective and the significance of the individual. Usually I’d be bummed out thinking, “DAMN! Somebody’s taken my idea before I could do it!” But this looks so darned wonderful I’m happy they did it first, because they certainly appear to have done it right.

I’m especially drawn to the way they related the fundamental human emotions back to the underlying data. One of the biggest challenges faced when making decisions in the online dating business is that the people making those decisions are inherently clouded by their own experiences, philosophies and emotions about relationships. It’s not uncommon to hear things such as these in meetings:

  • “Women always prefer a man in a nice suit.”
  • “Since this product is for women, we should make it pink.”
  • “I like guys who are athletic and I think most women would agree with me, so…”
  • “OK, so it’s agreed that we’ll build this so it matches up men with women 1-5 years younger than themselves?”

Undoubtedly, statements such as these do rely heavily on “majority” opinions of the populations they are analyzing, but at the same time, they could lead to decisions that possibly alienate certain segments of the population which may not be all that insignificant. I’m sure we could each come up with a pile of examples of people whose relationships wouldn’t fit within the classifications outlined above. (And I’m sure all of the Bruce Springsteens and Mia Hamms and Zach Braffs and Ashton Kutchers of the world are relieved.) It’s virtually impossible to strip those biases out, so I love the idea of relying strongly on objectively collected data about highly subjective subjects such as these.

Also, the Cheap Trick reference makes me giddy in a totally geeked out way. There’s something really humanizing and individually touching about the sentiment it portrays, despite being such a mass-market arena rock pop song. (And a damn fine one at that.) It fits the concept in a way that’s just too damn perfect. Personally I found a way to sneak a shout out to that line into just about every variant of my profile I ever filled out. (And gals who picked up on the reference were immediately about 10X cooler right off the bat.)

Anyway, watch the YouTube video. It’s nifty.