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Exit ArchiveArchive for September, 2005


I have to announce that the brand new Wren Forum is ALMOST DONE! The design and navigation all work, as do the RSS feeds and links! It’s so exciting.

Before I open it up, however, I have to do two things:

1) Set up the account structure. I hope to leave the comments area open to everyone, but to post your own stuff, like you can now on the Wren Forum, I have to get some kind of accoutn system set up.
WordPress does this already, it’s just a matter of me figuring out how it works.

2) Transfer the old Wren Forum posts and comments. This will be complicated, but I believe that once I figure out how both databases are structured, I will merely have to re-name the elemetns in a duplicate of the old one, and off we go. If I wait to do this until later, I’m afraid I’ll end up deleting any new posts that show up in the new Forum.

That’s the scoop! I really want to post a link so you can preview it, but I htink I’ll just wait until it’s all done and ready to go. I am, as you can see, too excited.

I am in London.

No rant, no exposition. Just a fact.

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So get this:

I finally found a WordPress theme that was close to what I want to use for the new Wren Forum, and I’ve been altering it today. Somehow, during my altering, I got spam posts in the comments. Already! The new forum has been up on my site, just with no links to get to it, but I suppose a bot found it or followed me there and left two spams.

And so it begins anew…

I am catching up on Lost‘s first season, on DVD, of course. The episodes are falling in front of me like Oreos at a BBQ. Just now—and I’ve even paused the DVD to post this—I caught a friggin’ brilliant pop-cultural reference that I wonder how many others discovered. Don’t worry… no spoilers, in case you haven’t seen the show yet.

In the current episode (“Homecoming”), it’s Charlie’s turn for more flashbacks. He’s made his way home from a pub with a woman, gone back to her place. He asks her, “So where is the old man?” From off screen, kitchen-bound, she answers, “I don’t know. I think he’s buying some old paper company up in Slough.”

The prize to the first person to post the “answer” to this reference is one of those new nickels with Thomas Jefferson’s profile.

One of the first episodes had a clever reference, too, but I can’t recall it now, so I’ll post it later. Now, back to the show I go…

If anyone has a view today, take a look outside.

I do not know when I’ve seen such a dense, impenetrable layer of smog as this. Off in the distance, smooshed underneath these storm clouds… It’s nasty. And I left my camera at home, and this phone cam image does its vileness no justice.

As far as I know, there is no one who reads this with any regularity and is local… I mean, someone who’d do their daily intake of Wren and see me posting a message telling them to

Drop what you’re doing and get your ass to Royce Hall at UCLA tonight or tomorrow. I’m serious. Marcy got free tickets to a show that’s only there three nights. Though this sounds cliché, it’s entirely true: I have not had this much fun in the theater in a long, long time. We’re talking YEARS long time kinda timing.

The show is Theater of the New Ear. Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Thewlis, Meryl Streep, Hope Davis… The night consists of two “sound plays.” It’s like watching a radio show, but so very much not… There’s live music written and conducted by Carter Burwell, and a foley artist who does 75% of the sound effects. The actors sit at the front of the stage and do their readings.

The first play is by Francis Fregoli, who Marcy and I think are the Coen brothers. It’s a wonderful, semi-twisted but moving story. The second play, written by Charlie Kaufman, can not be described without entirely ruining the surprise and joy of its lunacy. Honestly, I can not say much more than it’s self-referential, pseudo-self-referential, purposefully masturbatory, and friggin’ astounding to watch. Yes, watch. A sound play! Even the liner notes are part of the show.

You MUST see this show. Only two nights left. Go to the website now and buy tickets. Even crappy seats will suffice. They may be $38, but pay it. Charge it. Sell the gas out of your tank. Just see it. You will so very much thank yourself if you do… When the marketing blurb says, “This will be an evening like none you’ve ever seen—or heard—before,” it’s 100% accurate.

Go. GO! What are you waiting for?

Guess what came today? My new little toy! It certainly does not replace Steve’s Music-A-Go-Go, my 20G iPod. Rather, Steve’s Music Chiclet will be a side ‘Pod, where I can tote my new music, favorite songs, and podcasts with greater ease for quick jaunts in the car or to the beach or whatnot.

And to think I almost got a Shuffle! Thank God I was patient this time, though the patience vanished like wilderness under the watch of an oil-based President, for as soon as I saw the Nano, I ordered it.

A couple more pics to follow. Click them all to see them bigger. These are all from my phone, BTW, which is why they SUCK MAJOR ASS.

Beautifully packaged, of course. And the two ‘Pods got along just fine.

It is truly a tiny, beautiful marvel. I want to eat it. Thus its name.

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Okay folks, hold on to your hats: It’s the radio toaster!


Welcome back, Steve! Sorry to hear your return was less than relaxing. My vacation ended up with stress, as well — although, in my case, it was because both Jeff and I came back sick. We got back on Wednesday evening, and when we woke up Thursday morning, we both said, “Does it feel like we never even went on vacation?!”

So, here’s my own little tale of woe for you and the massive Wren audience:

As you probably know, one of the sole positive accomplishments made by Arnold Schwarzenegger as California governor has been to pass a bill allowing owners of hybrid vehicles to use carpool lanes.

Three weeks ago or so, the DMV finally made the application available. I downloaded it, sent in all the requested information and my $8 and went on vacation. When I got back, I had a notice from the DMV saying that my request was “suspended” and would be released pending receipt of “needed information.”

What, I wondered, could be needed? I followed all instructions explicitly. One of the required documents was a receipt from FastTrak(r), a cleverly spelled ruse that requires you to pay up front to use the numerous bridges in the Bay Area. I had sent in my receipt, but now the DMV was telling me that the receipt did not show the license plate number and make/model of my car. I re-read the DMV’s website carefully, and, of course, nowhere does it say this information is required.

So, I called FastTrak(r), to ask them to send me the requested receipt. No, I was told, they cannot do that. Rather, they need a copy of my DMV registration to prove I have a hybrid vehicle. I will need to send them THAT information before they can send me ANOTHER form to fill out in order to claim the hybrid-HOV decal that they have kindly “set aside” for me. (They also cashed my check for eight bucks.)

I lost the paper on which I wrote down the FastTrak(r) address, so today I called FastTrak(r) again to get it. And guess what? The woman who answered today told me something entirely different! No, that’s not what I need to send in, she said. Rather, I have to download a different form from the FastTrak(r) website requesting a “new hybrid transpoder” for my car, which will cost another 40 bucks. After receiving this, I can then re-apply for the DMV’s HOV sticker, which has already been “set aside” for my convenience!

I am not sure what to think of all this. All I know is, I begin my commute to the Presidio next Monday, and even though I have been trying to get this sticker for more than a month, it now appears I will not have it in time, and will have to sludge through traffic with everyone else.

Sigh. Welcome to Big Government. I can only imagine what people in New Orleans and Biloxi must be going through.

I was away for a week, enjoying doing nothing at Lake Powell but get a tan, swim, boat, and eat.

Once again, the trip back home dissolved all my relaxation immediately.

It started with my flight from Grand Junction to Phoenix being delayed. It was just enough of a delay to make me late for my next flight. However, once I got to Phoenix, I saw that my second flight had been delayed, so I ran across two terminals to get to the gate. (Yes, the departing gate was not only two terminals away, but also at the very last gate at the end of the terminal.)

I dashed up to the gate, where the door was already closed. The agent said, “L.A.? You need to be on this plane. get on now!” “What will happen to my luggage?” I asked. “They will get it to you, just get on this plane!” It was almost rude, as if it was my fault I was late.

As I handed the second gate person my ticket, turns out this was not my flight. The door to my flight, two gates away, was not able to be re-opened. But the flustered first agent told the second agent to just let me on.

I got on that flight and was so flustered myself now that I think the flight attendants thought I was a terrorist. “Any seat? How about this one? Can I go to the bathroom first? What’s this flight number? When does it get into L.A.?”

I had to text Marcy, who was picking me up at LAX, and then, once the plane was off, I was fine, melted into the world of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions.

Once at LAX, I had to arrange for my missing bags to be delivered to me. Fortunately, this was simple and only took a few minutes.

Once home, however, I discovered something odd: Someone had shut off the power to my apartment. In the laundry room, where the breaker boxes are, the switches to my place were off.

That’s when the stress of the trip home started getting to me. Once I switched the power back on, I had to not only re-set all my clocks and the VCR (What’s a VCR?), but I had to throw out everything in my fridge but the drinks.

Who turned off my power? I have some theories, but none of them make sense. Say I’d left my clock alarm on accidentally, and the upstairs neighbors got tired of hearing it go off every morning at 4:45. The only way to stop that is to turn off my power. But then why not turn it back on? Everyone knows those alarm clock reset the instant they lose power. Or what if my noisy next door neighbors, who saw me packing my suitcase for the trip, decided to get revenge and turn off my power? The laundry room is often unlocked, so that would not be hard to do. But that gives them simply too much credit. They are not smart enough to come up with such a scheme.

So I do not know what happened, but it made me very angry. And these days, when I’m angry, I go to The Wren Forum to rant.

But guess what was not working? Yeah, maybe you saw the message if you tried to visit the Forum, but my account had been suspended. Turns out I’d given the wrong year on the expiration date for the card I use to pay for this fine service, and the notice of the payment failure went to my work e-mail, which of course I don’t read outside of work. And I’d been gone a week…

More infuriating, though, was that I could change the card info and have the invoice paid automatically within minutes online, but had to wait until Monday to have my account re-activated because that’s done by the billing department, and they only work on weekdays.

So so much for the calm, relaxing mood from my vacation. Again.

Well, whaddya know? I was hoping to find time today to put a little rant up here about Katrina (the hurricane, not my co-worker) and how pathetic our federal government’s reaction has been to helping the victims of the hurricane. Oh, golly, one hospital ship is on its way to New Orleans? To help how many tens of thousands of injured people? Hundreds of thousands, as more and more get ill each day from dehydration and extreme heat?

Oops. There I go. But Michael Moore has done it already. Granted, it’s his usual snarky deal, but it’s true, by God.

Read the open letter to Bush here.

I was unaware of the damage hurricane Katrina had wrought until yesterday. I was not paying attention to the news. But once I was aware, I went right to Flickr to look up pics, since the news sites had nothing “good.”

There, I found a link to this amazing satellite image. Of all the satellite images I’ve seen, this one, I think, best demonstrates the power and size of this monster. It’s also eerily beautiful. Beautiful disaster.