28 December 2005

2005

Well. The year is nigh over. I was going to some sort of retrospective, but now I realize that I don't really care to. Looking back over the past year is what got me depressed in the first place, back in March. Of course, the year I was looking back over was not then as pleasant as the year just coming to a close.

I speak, of course, of my own year, the things I did this year. 2005 as a whole was marginally crappy in the outer world, but plenty of other news agencies will tell you all about it, so I don't need to. And as for my year... well, you can review the blog. Frankly, I'm not at all sure what in the hell I was intending to do with this post. But a post, once written, cannot be deleted. So here you go.

Let's all toast 2005. For or better or for worse, it's over. Here's a Shiner Bock to toast in 2006.


Arnold's Cyclopedia

I got yet another book from my local library! You should see what your library has to offer.

I checked this book out because A) I wanted some new exercises to do in the gym and the book lists pretty much every way you can lift a weight, and B) it costs like fifty bucks to buy a copy and weighs about nine pounds. My bookshelves are overloaded as it is and my checkbook is a bit underweight.

I did not read this whole book. Nor did I plan to. Nor would I bother. If you want a history of bodybuilding, it's in the book. If you want an entire workout plan for years, it's in the book. Every exercise ever conceived? In the book. Tips on competition? Yeah, it's in the book. I read the exercises. I have a few comments for those who might care.

This is the revised second edition of this book. It still offers a few exercises you should never, ever do (behind the neck chinups), but it also presents more alternatives. And, the discussion of squats and deadlifts goes much further into safety and why it's so important to keep the back straight. That's a good change.

The exercise plans are fairly absurd. Work out six times a week, hitting each body part three times? Fine, if you're on steroids. Anyone else will overtrain in a heartbeat. Then it gets better, with a plan for two workouts a day six days a week. Again, poor advice for non-roided types.
Of course, I'm not planning on using any of the workout plans in the book. I've done enough work on my own to know what works for me and I'm happy with that (although I'm less happy with the fact that I went to the gym all of once in November, and maybe four times in December). And after all, what should I have expected from a professional bodybuilder/governor (though probably not governor anymore by this time next year)?

All in all, this is a book with many ideas, only about half of which are probably crap. This is pretty good as books of ideas go. Most philosophers probably get to about 50%, if they're lucky. I'm sure my writings don't crack the 50% crap level. Marx never got anywhere near it. And, if you need to glue two things together, you can set this book on top of them.


Arnold's Cyclopedia

I got yet another book from my local library! You should see what your library has to offer.

I checked this book out because A) I wanted some new exercises to do in the gym and the book lists pretty much every way you can lift a weight, and B) it costs like fifty bucks to buy a copy and weighs about nine pounds. My bookshelves are overloaded as it is and my checkbook is a bit underweight.

I did not read this whole book. Nor did I plan to. Nor would I bother. If you want a history of bodybuilding, it's in the book. If you want an entire workout plan for years, it's in the book. Every exercise ever conceived? In the book. Tips on competition? Yeah, it's in the book. I read the exercises. I have a few comments for those who might care.

This is the revised second edition of this book. It still offers a few exercises you should never, ever do (behind the neck chinups), but it also presents more alternatives. And, the discussion of squats and deadlifts goes much further into safety and why it's so important to keep the back straight. That's a good change.

The exercise plans are fairly absurd. Work out six times a week, hitting each body part three times? Fine, if you're on steroids. Anyone else will overtrain in a heartbeat. Then it gets better, with a plan for two workouts a day six days a week. Again, poor advice for non-roided types.
Of course, I'm not planning on using any of the workout plans in the book. I've done enough work on my own to know what works for me and I'm happy with that (although I'm less happy with the fact that I went to the gym all of once in November, and maybe four times in December). And after all, what should I have expected from a professional bodybuilder/governor (though probably not governor anymore by this time next year)?

All in all, this is a book with many ideas, only about half of which are probably crap. This is pretty good as books of ideas go. Most philosophers probably get to about 50%, if they're lucky. I'm sure my writings don't crack the 50% crap level. Marx never got anywhere near it. And, if you need to glue two things together, you can set this book on top of them.


Bartleby the Scrivener

So, I read Bartleby the Scrivener, part of this book here called The Shorter Novels of Herman Melville. I checked this book out of my local library.

If I had more time I'd probably read the other shorter novels of Herman Melville, but as it is I've been busy and I only checked this out to read Bartleby. I did this on the advice of a friend, but I no longer know how the subject came up. To be honest, I'm not sure I got Bartleby. Was there something to get? Or was I just looking for something more than was there. I guess this was just absurdism, and as such, it was an interesting read. Though I would have to argue with a few points. The coda wherein it is supposed that Bartleby worked in the dead letter office really seemed to destroy the mood. I don't know. I liked the idea of Bartleby just being impossible to figure.

That said, I like the way he controlled his situation. I'd like to see something similar happen in reality, to see how it would play out. How long could you get away with simply prefering not to do things? I'd prefer not to go to work, but I don't think I'd quite manage that as successfully as Bartleby controlled his boss.

It was interesting. And short, which is nice, since the books remaining on my reading list are both very long and have taken me a long time to read.


Bartleby the Scrivener

So, I read Bartleby the Scrivener, part of this book here called The Shorter Novels of Herman Melville. I checked this book out of my local library.

If I had more time I'd probably read the other shorter novels of Herman Melville, but as it is I've been busy and I only checked this out to read Bartleby. I did this on the advice of a friend, but I no longer know how the subject came up. To be honest, I'm not sure I got Bartleby. Was there something to get? Or was I just looking for something more than was there. I guess this was just absurdism, and as such, it was an interesting read. Though I would have to argue with a few points. The coda wherein it is supposed that Bartleby worked in the dead letter office really seemed to destroy the mood. I don't know. I liked the idea of Bartleby just being impossible to figure.

That said, I like the way he controlled his situation. I'd like to see something similar happen in reality, to see how it would play out. How long could you get away with simply prefering not to do things? I'd prefer not to go to work, but I don't think I'd quite manage that as successfully as Bartleby controlled his boss.

It was interesting. And short, which is nice, since the books remaining on my reading list are both very long and have taken me a long time to read.


26 December 2005

19 December 2005

Cloistered

Reading over on Sticks of Fire a moment ago I was struck that, clearly, there've been issues this year with people saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

Until just now, I was blissfully unaware of this debate. Some people say Merry Christmas. Some say Happy Holidays. I heard both at work today. I said both at work today. I didn't think about it one way or the other. I'm saddened knowing that there are people out there with so much time on their hands and so little knowledge of the world's larger problems that they think this is a significant matter. Boycott stores that tell their employees to wish you "Happy Holidays?" I'd rather boycott a store where the employees don't say anything at all.

What's so wrong with Happy Holidays? I celebrate the New Year, that's a holiday. And it comes only a week after Christmas. And with Thanksgiving less than a month before Christmas, it's really not a stretch for this to be the Holiday season. It doesn't have to be the Christmas season. Christmas is part of the season. If you wish me Merry Christmas, are you saying you hope I have a lousy new year?

People care so much about such stupid things these days. Everyone's stress meter seems to be pegged at all times; it's like if you aren't worried about enough meaningless things, you'll cease to have any meaning in your own life. No one can be happy that they have enough to eat, a place to sleep that's dry and warm, a steady job, money to go out and join the frenzy of Christmas (Holiday?) shoppers and buy things for your friends and family that they don't really need. No, we can't just be happy. We have to be upset about something; if we aren't we must be callous and shallow. But our true nature is better shown by the things we choose to care about than by the fact that we care in the first place.

Christmas is a holiday. I hope you have a happy one.


Bored, Lazy, and Under Duress

No, no, I haven't disappeared again. I've just been incredibly lazy about posting here. There's a lot going on in my life these days, which I'll get to in due time.

An eventful year is drawing to a close. Recent news has caused me to expect next year will be quite a bit more eventful. And the year after that? Well, I'm not sure when it's going to end, exactly. I was immensely bored at work today. But my life is far from boring.

Lately I've been thinking about last winter. This time a year ago I was in Kyrgyzstan, and it was really winter. It never really gets to be winter here. We've had a few days of cool drear, and it's been a welcome change from the bright sunshine. I like the dreary weather. It puts me in a pensive mood, and right now I just want to be in that mood. It's even better after dark.

The Cheesegrater building, 400 North Ashley (usually called the Beer Can, but it really looks like a cheese grater), has recently added some sort of outdoor art to its north wall. This part of the building used to be the bank lobby, but now I don't know who even rents space in the building. Lights go on and off in it on the 26th floor or so every night, for no good reason. Usually when I look at it, it's red. But right now, I'm watching as it transitions from red to blue. Here are pictures of it in red and blue. In the blue pic, you can see the other building that lights up the night, the SunTrust tower and its lighted Mayan pyramid, green and red for the season.


I enjoy this view. I enjoy it all the more on nights when the clouds are low and heavy, reflecting back the light from the city. A night like this, the city is smaller, closer. It's mine.
If the weather was like this all the time, I'd never leave Tampa. But it isn't.




14 December 2005

*Cough, Cough* Back from the Dead, Again?

I am writing to you now from a shiny new computer, which I've bought to replace my somewhat scratched and dirty old computer, but which I thought would work for me for at least another few months. Sadly, the old Compaq has given up the ghost at long last. In fact, it did so last week, on Wednesday afternoon. It hasn't been willing to accept a battery charge since then.

I ordered this computer on Thursday, from Newegg.com. It's an Acer TravelMate. I got five years out of my previous Acer computer, and then my folks got another year or two after that if I recall, so I'm hoping for at least four years from this machine. Let's all cross our fingers.

The new machine arrived on Monday. Tonight I hooked it up to the internet for the first time. Yaay! Internet access from home! Oh, wait. I have internet access all day at work. All I can't do at work is... well, post to this blog (or read anything on any blogger blog), and check my standard email address.

Anyway. I'm busy recreating my bookmarks list, but I wanted to announce my return to the blog, and apologize to both of my loyal readers for my absence.


05 December 2005

Cato Unbound

My favorite writer, P.J. O'Rourke, is the H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute. I'm not exactly sure what the Mencken Research Fellowship entails, but he still writes for Atlantic Monthly and travels hither and yon. Most think tanks produce enough good thinkers and pithy writers that you'll frequently see quotes in news stories from members of one or another of them. But you can't always take them at face value: a member of the American Enterprise Institute or the Heritage Foundation is going to support the Republican line. One from the Center for American Progress you must assume wants to make the Democrats look good. Cato, on the other hand, is one of the very small handful of think tanks without an axe to grind.

So when I heard that the Cato Institute was starting up a sort of blog, I was keen to see what it was all about. So: Cato Unbound.

The way it works is, each month the Institute invites some luminary to write an essay on a topic of current concern. Then, other luminous types write responses to the original essay. The first writer can then respond to the responses, and after that it becomes discussion, between the initial writers and the blog's readers as well. How cool is that? This month's topic is the Constitution, and the first essay is James Buchanan's discussion of three amendments he'd add to the Constitution.

This is a very exciting idea. The editors of Cato Unbound hope that other bloggers will take up the discussion on their own blogs, and that those discussions can add to the whole Unbound thing. Think about this: what if Cato manages to get all those ranting political blogs to stop calling the other side names and start having honest discussions about interesting and important topics? This could be the best thing to happen to the blogosphere since its creation.

I almost forgot the best part. You don't have to "join" anything! You can just go there and read about it yourself, then discuss it on your own blog. No fees, no signups. Exactly the way the web is supposed to work.


04 December 2005

Coggle

So.
I got stood up for a date tonight.

But, you know, I'm not at the date now. Since I didn't feel like sticking around the bar. Alone.

At least Cinders is happy to see me.

I think the circumstances here are sufficiently absurd as to warrant a second attempt. But not tonight.

Tonight, I am desperate need of a new laptop. The warranty on this machine runs out next Monday, and I received a note in the mail from H-P telling me that I can extend it for "as low as $249!" Which is emphatically not worth it. Should I buy one off the shelf from Office Depot, or try to build my own from a manufacturer, as I've done with both of my previous machines (both of which, it's worth pointing, had chronic problems, though this one is much better than the earlier Dell). I need, oh, about 30G hard drive space, a 14+" screen (NOT a widescreen), 802.11b/g wireless connectivity and a modem and ethernet card, a PCMCIA slot, a 3.5" floppy slot, CD burner (DVD would be nice, but not necessary), and I need it to be CHEAP! VERY VERY CHEAP! BECAUSE I AM A CHEAP BASTARD!!!

Ahem. Sorry about that. The thing is, if it's sufficiently cheap I can afford the warranty where they come to your house to fix the computer, instead of having to sit on the phone for three hours with Bangladeshis and then mailing the machine off to some warehouse in Guatemala where two illiterate old men poke at it with cigars and say, "Lookit all them wires in there," except in Spanish, and then when you get the computer back half the parts have been replaced but none of the broken ones.
Also, I want an external hard drive, which is just additional expense and more reason to get a cheaper box.

Oh, and it has to fit in my current laptop carrier, because that's just another $40 scam they have and I already own two of the things.

Cinders is awake now. He looks extremely vexed. Ooh! The picture I just took of him, above, I downloaded some other photos off the camera at the same time. I went home for Thanksgiving, and we went to the annual boat parade in downtown. I took a couple pictures of the boats, but none of them turned out especially well. However, some of the fireworks photos are tres cool.

Check out this cool pic of the Main Street Bridge with the blue underlight.


Okay, these next two are just good fireworks pictures.


Okay, now, the cool thing is, downtown is between two bridges, and they set off fireworks from both of them. The nearer one, the Acosta, looks like a waterfall. It's incredible, but none of my pictures turned out. But here's a photo of the waterfall of sparks off the Main Street Bridge, and the streamers from the barge. Yeehaw.

And those other two posts I talked about earlier are on their way, too, maybe tomorrow. After I get that William & Mary letter written.



03 December 2005

Back from the Dead

Well, today I put applications in for four schools: Stetson, in Gulfport just across the bay; Georgia State University, in Atlanta; Stanford, near San Francisco; and Virginia, in Charlottesville. Stanford and Stetson both require me do send a letter to the Dean of Students at Clemson and get all sorts of information from them. I don't even know who the Dean of Students is anymore. Likely he or she didn't even work at the university when I was there. What they expect to learn from this I don't know.

This was a dreadful, painful, ugly process, and not surprisingly putting it off didn't do a damn thing to help. I could have written these stupid letters months ago, I could have had these in the mail one month ago, but that's the way it goes. In any event, now I'm marginally done (there is the Dean letter bit, but I'll get to that on Monday since there's no sense putting them in the mail on Sunday).

I also still have to finish up the William & Mary application. The school offers me the opportunity to write a second essay, and I've decided to write one about pilot training. Unfortunately, I'm on page four so far and I'm not yet halfway through pilot training. Obviously, I'm going to have to start over again, but I'm going to do so tomorrow, as my brain needs a break.

I figured filling out applications via the internet, using LSAC'autmomatic form filler, would be a snap. That was before I started working on these things, around 10 this morning. I finally finished about half an hour ago. And I didn't even take a break to, you know, do something more interesting. And... well, I'd do something interesting but I've already burned the whole day, so I'm just going to watch some Futurama and go to bed early. Tomorrow I can do something fun.