Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Interesting New IM Network

It's called IMVU. I'm posting about it because it reminds me of something a friend from the past had come up with as a business idea. She had wanted to create an IM< network built on cartoonish avatars with different emotions and animations. We were going to start a company. I think I still have the shares of stock somewhere. :) This one looks like a glorified teenage style hookup network from the style of the animations and the ones displayed prominently on the home page. However, for the graphically inclined, it may offer the possibility of a little income as the developers "sell" instances of the skins to anyone who finds them appealing. I may check it out from this angle. I think I'm past the "hot inernet hookup" phase of my life, assuming I ever had one.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Duke's Denouement

Well, it's official. Escondido's Representative to Congress, the guy I voted against, has resigned. This resignation came on the heels of his guilty plea to a raft of political corruption charges. I may have mentioned him some time back. He's the guy who sold his house to a defense contractor for hundreds of thousands of dollars over market value. The contractor then sold it at a loss. In exchange, Duke got the contractor's company some defense contracts. The contractor has since sold the company, likely recouping the loss and then some. Duke is probably going to jail and it's about damn time. He's been getting away with this for years. And who always got outraged when people called him on it. I'm most amused by the comments I saw in my local paper. A variety of on the street comments. The Democrat and Independent both viewed this as a sad thing, but also an 'about time' thing. The Republicans were all impressed with his character in coming clean. They were disappointed in his actions and in some cases surprised, but at least he was acting honorably. So, this thing dragged on for over a year. Someone else could have been representing us in his stead. He has been vociferously denying his guilt. And now that he has seen exactly how much evidence they have on him, he is willing to make a plea. He may get a lighter sentence if he gives up his co-conspirators. Yeah. That's some impressive character. Thbbbbbbbt!

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Telling you more than you wanted to know...

We had an amusing exchange in the car with Maya last night as we drove back from a dinner party.

Maya: Mom? Dad? You know what I like about our family?
Me: What, honey?
Maya: When you fart, nobody makes a big deal out of it. Nobody says 'Ewwwwww! You farted.' And I think that's good.

This is what she likes about our family?!? *sigh*

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Friday, November 25, 2005

ENoB IV - The Goblet of Ire

For this week's ENoB, we are going to delve into everyone's favorite punching bag, the pharmaceutical industry. This time we aren't looking for an adjective, we are assessing blame. Ironically, neither of the two targets I am offering up for blame is Glaxo, even though they are the root cause. Back in March, Glaxo ran afoul of the FDA for failing to adhere to the GMP (good manufacturing practices). Paxil CR was taken off the market until Glaxo could resolve the manufacturing issues. The FDA issued a press release. The first indication for many taking the medication that something was amiss was that they went to pick up a refill and were told that the pharmacy didn't have any. In fact, none of the local pharmacies had any. What's more, they didn't know why. You now have a patient who needs anxiety meds anxious about the fact that they can't get them. Patient calls doctor. Doctor is surprised, too. So, whose responsibility is it to notify the consumer? The doctor and pharmacy both have information what medications their customers are using. Shouldn't one of them have noticed the press release and taken steps to notify the people who could be detrimentally affected? Or perhaps you think Glaxo is responsible. Or the consumer. In that case, your vote is neither. Pharmacy? Doctor? Either, Neither, or both?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The One With The Thanks

Since I won't be internet enabled starting at 4pm today and going until some time Friday evening, I figured I ought to do my Thanksgving post today. We are heading out to the mountains in Julian for what will be our second annual Thanksgiving holiday camping trip. Last year's is chronicled here. So, in no particular order, I am thankful for:

  • My wonderful family, both near and far
  • Great friends who have not forgotten me though I moved 3000 miles away
  • The loyal readers of my blog
  • An extra thank you to those who comment regularly.
    Your feedback helps spur me on.
  • The good health and prosperity we enjoy
  • Patio Playhouse, for giving me an outlet to get creative again
  • An excellent job at a great company
  • Weight Watchers
  • The capacity to realize how good my life is
  • The compassion to realize that others lives may not be so good and sometimes need my help
  • The fact that those I omitted unintentionally from this list are understanding enough to know I appreciate them even though I didn't by name.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Now THIS is cool

Check out this story from the New York Times. It appears Warner Brothers is going to launch an internet video on demand service for old and canceled TV shows. There is no mention in the article of whether it will be a free or a pay service, but one article I saw said that each half-hour show will have two minutes of commercials that will not be skippable. Some titles mentioned include "Welcome Back Kotter", "La Femme Nikita", and "Babylon 5". The alleged reason the network is doing this is because "It wants to use the Internet to reach viewers rather than depend on the whims of cable networks and local TV stations." I say it is because they want to make money. But this seems like a fan friendly way of making money, so I'm not opposed to it. Could this be the future of television? We here at BriWise are taking a hopeful, wait-and-see approach.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

ENoB 3D!!!

We're going to tackle a more serious topic in this week's Either, Neither, or Both. Moderate Republicans have dealt the Bush Administration some setbacks of late. The ANWAR drilling has been put off as have budget cuts for programs targeting poorer Americans. Is this due to some newfound courage that has enabled them to stand up to the bullying of the exterme right wing of their party? Or have they merely realized that their seats are not as safe as they once thought they were? What do you think? Courage? Fear? Courage inspired by Fear? Either. Neither. Or Both.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Does Ecology Trump Economy?

Over at OmniNerd, there is a really good article on whether or not there is an economic savings to owning a hybrid vehicle. It turns out, if all you are interested in is saving money, an economy car like a Corolla is likely better. Even though you save money on gas per month, this is more than offset by the premium you are paying for the hybrid technology. If you assume 15,000 miles per year, then you can get the number of gallons of gas you would use. So, a Prius has an average mpg of 55 and a Corolla has 36. So, you are buying 273 gallons of gas per year with the Prius and 417 with the Corolla. This is actually plotted on the site for a range of gas prices from $2.50 per gallon up to $10. As you can see, if we climb back to the high watermark of $3 per gallon, you are saving less than $1000 a year. It would take you around 10 years to catch up to the difference in the sticker price. Possibly more when you consider that there are never dealer incentives to move the hybrids as they are on back order. I guess it comes down to your goal. Are you trying to save money, gas, or some combination of the two? A Corolla or a Scion xA seems like a good compromise. While mid 30s in gas mileage is not great, you are still decreasing your consumption. Mind you, I'm still probably going to get an Insight or maybe a scooter. For those advocating diesel, that's not yet and option for cars here in CA. We don't have low sulfur diesel yet and without it, cars can't meet the emission requirements necessary to be sold in CA.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Deeply Irresponsible

This post is inspired by James over at Aces Full of Links. In the linked post, he talks about how Dubya feels it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite history. And the words started echoing in my head. Deeply Irresponsible. Deeply Irresponsible. And the guitars started rocking out. And I found myself singing...

Deeply Irresponsible
(with apologies to Robert Palmer)

How can he be the President
When he is barely sentient, yeah yeah
Incompetence so mythical
Is anything but typical

He can beat a dead horse, he'll compel you with force
And he can't change his mind so he'll just stay the course
He used to just make me ill, now I find him

Deeply irresponsible
Deeply irresponsible

His leadership is questionable, huh
It's simply inexcusable
The truth is irrefutable
The man is so impeachable

We can't count all his flaws, though he's given us cause.
And he wants some applause, which makes us all drop our jaws.
He used to just make me ill, now I find him

Deeply irresponsible
Deeply irresponsible

(Deeply irresponsible) It's a crime,
he's just runnin' up a deficit
(Deeply irresponsible) Such a slime, I wish that he would just go

He's unethical, he's dragged us all to hell
He gives me ulcers and post traumatical stress
He's trashing the country, we'll be cleaning his mess
He used to just make me ill, now I find him

(Deeply irresponsible) It's a crime,
he's just runnin' up a deficit
(Deeply irresponsible) Such a slime, I wish that he would just go

Do not misunderestimate
His syntax is not all that great, Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
I wish we didn't have to wait, huh
For him to move out in '08

He's a friend to the rich, should be digging a ditch
And I think you'll agree he's a son-of-a-bitch!
He used to just make me ill, now I find him

Deeply irresponsible
Deeply irresponsible

It's a crime, he's just runnin' up a deficit
(Deeply irresponsible) Such a slime, I wish that he would just go
It's a crime, he's just runnin' up a deficit
(Deeply irresponsible) Such a slime, I wish that he would just go

Deeply irresponsible

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Monday, November 14, 2005

Here's a Bad Idea

Check this out. There's a traffic congestion problem in Southern California. You may have heard about it. Well, it is particularly bad between Riverside and Orange counties. Here is one of the proposed solutions. They was to dig an 11 mile long tunnel through the earthquake prone mountains! The tunnel would start within a mile of a fault that produced a 6.0 quake recently. Haven't they been saying that we are due for another big quake soon? I'll pass on that tunnel, thanks. And the best part? It's going to take something on the order of 25 years to build. Anyone want to lay odds on whether or not we'll have a damaging quake in that time frame? Perhaps mass transit, telecommuting, and remote offices would be better solutions.

(Hat tip to Robin for the link.)

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Just found a couple of cool blogs

You'll never guess who they belong to. Don't you hate when people say "You'll never guess"? Of course you won't. In those situations, there are far too many parameters. And how are you supposed to respond. Do you guess? You've just been told you never will. So, are you a glutton for punishment? Or do you just resent the implication? Other people might guess, but you, never. So, you start guessing. Once in a blue moon, you get it right, but usually, you just end up giving in. So. Sorry to put you all on the spot like that. Do NOT guess. I beg of you. I'll just tell you and we'll pretend I never said "you'll never guess"...

One of these blogs I just found. The other was sent my way by Robin, proprietor of Hearding Kittens. Robin found a blog called The Boy Who Heard Music. It appears to be a work of serial fiction written by Pete Townshend of The Who. I've started to read it an it looks bizarre and interesting. If you like The Who, this is probably worth a read.

I found Dilbert creator Scott Adams' blog on my own. His looks to be the more typical journal style blog, but imbued with his humor. I laughed out loud at both posts I read. I particularly liked his post on immortality.

I'll be adding both blogs to the roll.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Either, Neither, or Both II

In this weeks ENoB, we are turning to a new habit that my wife has developed. She actually asked me if it was cool or just annoying? And I wondered. Is it cool? Is it annoying? Is it both? I will of course wait for your views before weighing in. My wife has been learning Spanish, and is getting pretty good at it. She is trying to work with the kids on their Spanish so they can be fluent as well. Then they can talk about me without my understanding. ;-) At any rate, from time to time she will translate what I said, just after I said it, to the children. This translation occurs almost as soon as the words are out of my mouth. I understand some of what she says, which I should, since she is translating, but some of it I can't seem to grasp. So, playing interpreter for people who don't need it; annoying or cool? Either. Neither. Or Both.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Please Clean Up After Your ____________

Fill in the blank. You know you want to. No, this is not another BriWise interactive quiz. Just giving you a chance to mentally fill it in before I tell my tale. You're thinking "Dog". Some of you might be thinking "Child", but dog is probably the more common answer. If I added context to it, such as "I was rollerblading on a paved path in a public park", dog would be reinforced. That's because of all the signs on the trails say "Please clean up after your dog." Why then, are there no signs reminding people to "please clean up after your horse"? After all, their mess is much larger and less likely to fall in some out of the way place. A dog will try to find a grassy spot to do his thing. A horse won't even stop walking...

You're putting it together, aren't you? I'm using some foreshadowing here. Rollerblades. Paved trail. Horse droppings. This can't be good. You may even think you know how all the pieces fit together, but wait! Let me tell you how it happened.

We had decided to go to the park for a little family exercise and picnic. My wife went earlier in the morning as the park was having a program to promote their horse trails and hiking trails. So, she went on a hike. We were to meet her there later with bikes and rollerblades where we could all exercise together. The park has a nice paved loop that goes around a lake. The loop is only three quarters of a mile, so it is manageable for the kids. My wife stayed with the kids since her legs were tired from the hike while I did a little blading. Their pace is somewhat slower than mine and she wanted me to have a chance to really exercise.

I set off down the steeper path the to trail. It's not super steep, but it is steep enough for someone not very coordinated. Someone like me. I didn't die. I didn't even fall. I wobbled a little and made my wife nervous, but that was all. I did a couple of miles solo and then helped Maya roller blade for a lap and a half. No injuries and only one minor fall for Maya. As we skated, she asked about my wrist guards. She had elbow and knee pads, so they were no mystery. But she didn't understand why I had the wrist guards. I sagely explained, "A lot of times when you fall forward or to the side, you use your hands to break the fall. The wrist guards help reduce breaks and scrapes. The protective gear covers the areas most likely to be injured in a fall. You can still get hurt, it's just a lot harder."

Josh rode his bike for a bit and then had a meltdown. Seemed like a good moment for a lunch break. Have you ever tried to rollerblading up a hill while pushing a bike with sized for a four-year old. Now imagine the bike has training wheels. This is more challenging because they get in the way of your rollerblades. Now imagine the fit-throwing four-year old is trying to climb onto the bike while you are doing this. And yet, I still did not get hurt. I am pointing out all the challenging situations in which I did not get hurt because I want to underscore that I do have good balance and am reasonably capable with my rollerblades. I can't skate down railings or stairs. Nor can I do flips or other fancy tricks. But I can't do the most important trick. I know how to NOT FALL. This is important to the story.

Incidentally, the horses are important to the story as well. It may not seem that way yet, but stay with me. I can tell you, in a bit of foreshadowing, that the paved trail was dotted with horse piles here and there. My thought at the time was how annoying they were. They were easy to steer around and provided only slightly more of an obstacle than joggers or child bicyclists. I say slightly more because they always seemed to be right in the middle of the path.

But, for now, back to lunch. Once Josh served his time-out sentence, lunch was a pleasant affair. We picnicked in the grass under a tree, enjoying the beautiful southern California fall weather. For those not familiar, that often means warm, but not hot, temperatures and sunny blue skies with lazily drifting clouds. We digested as the children played in the park fountain. The fountain activates a few times a day and runs for fifteen minutes before draining back into the system. As fountains go, it's pretty sanitary. Once that was over, Josh decide it would be fun to play in the sand. I thought that, perhaps, it was time to go. "Aren't you going to go back out and do a few more laps?" my wife asked. "I'm kind of tired and stiffening up. I think I'll call it a day." I decided after some half-hearted consideration. "No, don't. Go out for another half hour. Just do a few more laps."

And that's how I find myself strapping my pads and helmet back on and getting ready to brave the steep slope back to the loop. "Go the other way" she requested, "that way's too steep. You'll hurt yourself." Now, as I have already mentioned, I have done nothing during this day to suggest that was true. But I didn't want her to worry, so I went the other way, the safer way. This had a hill, but was not as steep. It's main drawback was that you had to step over a railing attached to a gate onto some dirt and down off a curb. For some reason, she felt this was less dangerous, probably because you could use the gate to keep balance as you stepped over the railing. "Don't kill yourself," she commanded as I rolled away. And that is when I made my fatal mistake. "I haven't fallen all day!" I retorted. Everything else was preordained once the words escaped my lips. I think I knew it on some level, too. And yet, I pressed on.

I started down the safer hill leaning slightly on my brakes. The hill had a wooden bridge on it. I hadn't forgotten that. The slats paralleled the edges of the hill. All I had to do was steer myself onto the slats instead of the slight indentations between the gaps and I'd be fine. Well within my abilities. And then, as I expertly maneuvered myself safely onto the slats, I saw it. A horse pile. It stared at me from across the too short expanse of the bridge. It was right in my path. Right in the middle. It mocked me from its spot on the bridge. Five feet further away and I'd have been able to steer around it on the smooth pavement. I could think of any number of maneuvers that could have worked there. Five feet closer and it might have been in my field of vision as I was focusing on my approach to the slats. I couldn't go through it. That would almost certainly cause a fall AND be nasty to clean. I had only two options. Or rather, I could think of only two options. No, not the brakes. I am not good enough with them to stop that quickly while going downhill. I either had to do a lane change while speeding down the hill or jump over it. I didn't have much time to consider. In the split second I had to decide, I figured that taking entirely to the air was what I was trying to avoid. I went for the lane change. My left foot connected with slat. So far so good. My right foot hit slat, too, and then swerved. I got into the groove, and not in the good way. This wasn't bad in and of itself. It was bad combined with the groove meeting the slightly higher pavement as I was swerving. I started to topple forward and shifted my weight to compensate. I made a beautiful baseball slide. On coarse blacktop. Wearing shorts.

The road rash was impressive. It was about the size of a grapefruit. An oozing grapefruit. It was spectacular enough, as I suppose was my cry of "Dammit!", that the few walkers nearby felt the need to see if I was all right. I assured them that aside from the burning pain, I was great. I wasn't ready to face the I-told-you-so awaiting my cocksure self at the top of the hill, so I drowned my pain in endorphins. I raced around the three-quarter mile loop for about forty minutes. In that time, I managed to cover six miles. Six to go along with the four from earlier in the day. Then I dragged by burning grapefruit and my fatigued legs up the hill. That's when I saw the sign. "Please clean up after your dog."

Damn horses.

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Friday, November 04, 2005

Either, Neither, or Both

I'm stealing this bit from a sports radio show I heard on the way to work this morning. This will be a new feature on BriWise. Unless of course nobody participates, in which case it will die the painless death it deserves. Anyway, the idea is that I throw a two non-exclusive choices out there and you tell me if you think either on or the other will occur or is true, if neither of them are/will, or both. You with me? On sports radio, they did it with two individual player performances on a team, but I'm going for a broader appeal. So, today's premise comes from my Brother-in-law Daniel's blog, which incidentally, is a very good read. They are building a transparent walkway that will loop out over the Grand Canyon. It looks like half a racetrack type oval. You'll be able to look four thousand feet STRAIGHT DOWN. So, your choices are: Incredibly Cool? Incredibly scary? Either, neither, or both?

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Someone Explain This to Me

The judge in the Tom DeLay money laundering case has been removed from the case. "DeLay's lawyers repeatedly said during the hearing that they were not accusing Perkins of doing anything wrong, but that there should not be a public perception of partiality in the case." This in spite of the fact that the judge in question has never been accused of bias in 30 years on the bench. They are also pushing for a venue change. The trial is set for Austin, "one of the last enclaves of the Democratic Party in Texas." So, a Republican can only be tried fairly by other Republicans? Perhaps the trial should be moved to DeLay's home district and jurors should be questioned on whether or not they donated to his campaign. Perhaps that means that defendants should be asked for their party affiliation and have the venues set accordingly. After all, we want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety when trying someone who has done been giving off at least the appearance of impropriety for years. And yet, he and his cronies had no problem defending the administrations right to conceal energy task force records, even though some were concerned about ethical issues there. They also disagreed with the calls for Scalia's recusal or removal when the energy task force case came before the Supreme Court, even though he had been on a hunting trip with Cheney and some other oil men. Cuz that doesn't appear biased at all. Arrrrrrgh!

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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

You Know It's Time to Stop Trick or Treating When...

You have finished your neighborhood and just gotten in the car to drive to see a couple of friend's. You put the car in gear and you hear your four year old making repeated spitting noises in the back seat. Not choking noises. Definitely spitting. You turn to look back and notice his lips have a phosphorescent glow. There are also splotches of green glow on his costume and on the car set. And then you realize it. He's chewed through his glow stick. "Everyone out of the car!" Mom shouts, "Trick or Treating is over." The door is locked, so we send Maya in through the garage to let us in the front. We can tell exactly where in the house she is by following the shouts of "Call poison control! Call poison conrol!" We can't tell by other means because she is not letting us in.

"Maya. Open the door. Everything is going to be fine."

"Call poison Control! Call poison control!"


"Call poison Control! Call poison control!"


Finally, the door opens. We hustle Josh inside and Mom begins rinsing his mouth. Not with soap, though she is tempted. I walk calmly over to the light stick package. I'm sure it is non-toxic. I can't imagine them being allowed to market something to kids that would be poisonous. Sure enough, non-toxic, minor skin irritant. "It's all right," I announce, "The worst that can happen is some mild itching where it touched his skin. Oh, and some staining on fabric. Into the tub with him."

And so Josh is carted off by Mom to the tub, but she can't resist one parting sho as she goes by. "Way to not lose your cool, Maya."

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