June 16 – First night at sea

[Ed. note: The next several entries I’ll be posting were actually from my cruise journal from last week.]

June 16, 2007 @ 10:26 PM
Ok, so…first night at sea. My initial impression is that all people do on cruises is eat and play bingo. None of the events scheduled really interest me, but laying on the deck with the cool ocean breeze is divine, so I’m ok with that. The evening shows were highly recommended by some of my co-workers, but considering that the last show for the day starts in four minutes and my mother and I are snuggly curled in bed, I’ll have to take Scott’s word for it for now.

Speaking of snuggly curled in bed (kindofish), my mother made it in this morning with plenty of time to spare, but she boldly decided to sleep in the terminal in Houston instead of getting a room. She hung out with another woman who was in a similar situation, and said woman coerced Continental to give her a stack of pillows and blankets, so I’d say that my mother lucked out considering the situation.

Tangent…this side of my blog is weird. I’m so unused to actually fleshing out thoughts instead of condensing them into 140 characters via twitter. I think I’m much better at the latter, but I’ll bravely forge through blogging about the rest of the day anyway.

The actual process of getting on the ship was uneventful, although quite different than I expected (based on movies and whatnot). There wasn’t a crowd of people bidding us bon voyage from the dock, and nobody on the boat was waving scarves and blowing kisses. (for the record, I think we were all trying to find the buffet). One think I did find interesting though is that there’s some crazy law that states everyone has to go through a life vest drill before the ship can disembark. This involves the pleasant British cruise director coming over the intercom (there’s an intercom in all rooms and public areas) and announcing that when the siren sounds, we’ve all gotta grab our life vests and gather in one of the 5 lounges to verify that we were all successfully able to grab our life vests. Life vests are itchy and make me quite claustrophobic and I hope I never have to use one (aside from the obvious reasons), but the photos I got of herds of people looking like they’ve been told to abandon ship almost makes up for the inconvenience.

So after all that got settled and we got back to the room, I pulled out my laptop and Dave’s GPS receiver and started working on getting my geotracking setup situated. I’m not able to get a GPS fix even though our room has a decently sized window, so I’m pretty disappointed. Dave’s uploader app says it was able to get a position though, so I’m going to trust it over the angrily blinking red light on the GPS device because it will help me sleep better at night. This whole geocasting plan kinda went to shit after I learned Internet access would cost .75/minute, so I’m honestly not surprised I’ve run into more problems. I’m hoping for the best, though.

Or when all else fails, you can always fudge the data. ^_^

After giving up on the GPS signal, we went to the main sundeck for a while. My mom’s just now past the point of being uncomfortable getting drunk around me, which is definitely interesting. Drunk Lisa’s mom giggles a lot and has an even worse sense of direction than usual (I swear she’d be lost on this damn boat without me), and also has a penchant for buying the $8.95 photographs that are constantly being taken of the guests. There’s a photographer for every 10 passengers, I swear.

Another tangent…my teeth grind more and in synchronization with my fingers when I type.

Nothing else has happened that I’ve found stupendously interesting. VERY relaxing, but “I laid out in the sun and had the best nap ever” doesn’t exactly make a great blog entry. I’m taking a TON of photos with the new Nikon D80 Dan got me. I’d really like to review them before tomorrow to make sure I’m not royally screwing something up, but the ship’s engines are so convincing at trying to lull me to sleep…

Interview about Twitter for Adbusters Magazine

Fellow Californian and Twitterer “Adora” might agree. The self-described “web 2.0 voyeur” got onboard a couple of months ago and says, “I try to update with items of interest to everyone following me. Neat geeky things I do through my job and website, the wacky things that I catch myself doing . . . I recently cut my thumb in half with a butter knife (don’t ask) and after I pulled the knife out my first thought was ‘Oh man, I know I’m bleeding everywhere, but I just have to Twitter this.'”

Text me all about yourself: the rise of mobile networking

$5000 crash course in BMW transmissions

Last Monday morning I got in my car to drive to work same as any morning, only to discover that my car wouldn’t go in reverse. I could feel it catch, but it wouldn’t actually go anywhere. I called my regular shop and told them I would be towing it in. They called me the next day and said the transmission was shot and would have to be replaced, and quoted me $6000 to do it. Continue reading “$5000 crash course in BMW transmissions”

Remembering John

So I’m sitting here late at work, and I just got a phone call from Brittany. She’s a close friend I went to college with, but we don’t keep in touch like we should…so of course seeing her name flash across my screen gets my attention. Turns out that she was calling to inform me that John, another good friend of ours, passed away. He had been diagnosed with Leukemia over a year ago, and was waiting for a bone marrow transplant. He was back in the hospital, but Brittany informed me that one of our clanmembers was driving to go see him (which is a multi-hour trip). While he was on his way there, John called him and told him not to bother…his condition had worsened and he was no longer allowed to have visitors. By the time Chad got home, there was a message for him informing him that John had passed away.

At least that’s what I’ve been told so far. The details are still pretty sketchy.

John was actually the very first person I met at SAU. We were both enrolled in a pre-semester program called Leadership Academy, and he struck up a conversation with me while we were waiting in line at the signup table. Turns out we were in the same group, so we ended up getting a pretty good head start before the actual sessions started. We were inseparable during that week, and never much further apart the rest of the time I was at SAU. And although I didn’t know this until it was too late, he turned out to be the best friend of the guy I dated throughout most of my college years. Ha, and he still didn’t approve of my match! (Gene, if by some rare chance you decide to read this, I’m kidding)

The fondest memories I have of John are from “the cabin.” He and his father kept a little place so far east of Ashdown that we think at times we walked into Oklahoma. It was barely civilized enough to have electricity and may or may not have had running water. Wouldn’t have bothered us if there were neither, because we spent all our time outside next to the fire John kept going, and baths were verboten. Anyone who thought themselves too dirty was invited to take a swim in the creek that was a stone’s throw from the front door. Ah, the weeks we spent there! The most important daily objectives were cooking, followed very closely by drinking. John prided himself in his ability to stay roaringly drunk from the moment he got there until the moment he had to turn his key in the ignition to leave. I never could keep up with the drinking, but my cooking skills kept getting me invited back anyway. =]

John was one of the most countriest country boys I knew…which says a lot in southern Arkansas. For all the times I went with him to Mineral Springs to see his folks, I can’t recall if they kept a farm or not. But John could build anything you’d dream up, and even did side work as a contractor. Before he got sick, he was going to school for an Architecture degree. Farm or no, true southerners have a spirit to them that is simultaneously laid back almost to the point of non-concern, yet they have such an energy and pride about them that always makes the people around them feel taken care of. He’s one of the few people I’ve met in my life who I would say had a heart of gold.

I didn’t know John when he was sick, so these images of him are what I will keep with me forever. I did send him a letter shortly after he went in the hospital, but word got back to me that he didn’t remember who I was, so I didn’t follow up. I was startled at this but not surprised, as I had already moved to California and had been long out of touch. I can forgive such things for one who is struggling to live. I’ve never had anyone my age get seriously ill, so the situation was hard enough for me to deal with as it was. I haven’t decided yet if his failing memory was merciful or a curse that will eventually haunt me.

Rest in peace, John. You will not be forgotten.

Ta Da!

HOWTO: Integrate Tumblr with WordPress

One of my absolute favorite things about Tumblr is that users are trusted with an extreme level of customization if they choose to take advantage of it, instead of having to settle with some other theme that ends up being totally disconnected from the rest of your website. Although an inexact science, It’s actually not too hard to create a custom Tumblr theme that looks just like your WordPress install (or any other blog system, really). All it takes is some CSS/HTML knowledge, the ability to identify different sections of your WordPress theme, and a basic understanding of how Tumblr formats its posts. The steps are as follows:

    1. Pick base theme
    2. Move Tumblr’s CSS to an external file (optional)
    3. Copy/paste header from WordPress
    4. Copy/paste Tumblr theme code
    5. Copy/paste footer from WordPress

Continue reading “HOWTO: Integrate Tumblr with WordPress”

Former Gizmodo editor rips the gadget blogosphere a new one

Consumer electronics are a joke. It’s everyone’s fault but mine. You assholes.

That’s the title of a Gizmodo editorial, written by former editor Joel Johnson, that thousands of gadget geeks are waking up to during their morning RSS read. The article is likely the most beautiful feature ever posted to that site.

And you guys just ate it up. Kept buying shitty phones and broken media devices green and dripping with DRM. You broke the site, clogging up the pipe like retarded salmon, to read the latest announcements of the most trivial jerk-off products, completely ignoring the stories about technology actually making a difference to real human beings, because you wanted a new chromed robot turd to put in your pocket to impress your friends and make you forget for just a few minutes, blood coursing as you tremblingly cut through the blister pack, that your life is utterly void of any lasting purpose.

I quit reading Engadget and Gizmodo quite some time ago because of the signal to noise ratio, which is quite disenfranchising for a self-proclaimed gadget geek. I’ve preferred to focus my time on sites such as Techdirt, Boing Boing, Lifehacker (and good ole Slashdot). Sites with a better chance of seriously improving my ability to be a geek. Stuff that matters.

Get it together: every single one of these consumer electronics companies should be approached as the enemy. They work for us. Hold their feet to the fire when they say their product is going to change even a small part of our lives. Circle back again in six months when they’re shilling the incremental upgrade and ask them why the last version didn’t cut the mustard. Step out of your blogging trench and ask yourself what your responsibility is to the tens of thousands of idiots who are reading this site right now to determine what they should spend their next paycheck on.

Hopefully Joel’s column serves as the rally cry we so desperately need to convince the squadron of complacent fanboys currently driving the market to make a stand for the quality, functionality, and value that consumers deserve.


Web 2.0: The Machine is Us

Created by an anthropology professor, this video explains the history of how information sharing “worked” when the Internet first began, then explains why the transition to XML was important to give us new ways to use this information. The second half then goes into how it is our responsibility to tag, categorize, and describe our Internet…and what legal pitfalls need to be re-evaluated. Even though it is still a draft, this video is the perfect way to help explain Web 2.0’s importance to people who Just Don’t Get It.

:[Link via BoingBoing]:


The truth about hitting it big

Lisa: technology alone doesn’t make anything successful
Lisa: it isn’t the catalyst
Lisa: which can be depressing if you think about it too much
Lisa: the technology is the product, or it can enable further sales or whatever
Lisa: but it takes an evangelist to give that technology a soul
David: you were very poetic about it, but all you really just said was “marketing”
Lisa: dude, I tried REALLY REALLY hard not to use that word

A refreshing insight on why the RIAA doesn’t get it

I skip most MAFIAA bashing articles these days since they’re always rehashing the same old complaints (or stupid new tactics), but Mike from Techdirt actually has some clever commentary on industries who as a whole don’t understand what market they’re in.

It’s interesting to note that it wasn’t horse-drawn carriage makers who became successful automobile companies. No, they ended up going out of business, because they too narrowly defined their markets as being the horse-drawn carriage market, rather than the road-based transportation market, or just the transportation market. Of course, that was something the railroad businesses could have claimed as well — but they also were too narrowly focused on being in the railroad business (and, some say, were the inspiration behind passing certain anti-automobile laws early on in the automobile’s history). The horse-drawn carriage makers, however, very much should have realized they were in the transportation market, and should have been always looking for ways to step up to provide better and better systems for local transportation.

In the case of the RIAA[…]they believe their job is to distribute music, promote it, and get people to buy it. They make money by keeping that system closed and locked down. If they recognized they were really in the “entertaining people with music business” they should only be ecstatic about new technologies and services that make their job easier.

Link: http://techdirt.com/articles/20070125/004949.shtml

PS: One of the commenters on this article also brings up an interesting point that we’re nearing an economy where there is “so much free stuff available that people will pay you to find it for them”.

Why I don’t feel guilty about walking away in the middle of conversations

Dave: ok, so I just did all the math
Dave: it depends on v
Dave: I swear dude
Dave: no look
Dave: look the derivative, see?
Dave: well, I guess you could do that
Dave: that would certainly means it could apply to waves of any speed
Dave: have you tried to apply this to wave tanks?
Dave: orly, what were your results?
Dave: I guess that backs this up then, yeah
Dave: why don’t you publish this, anyway?
Dave: modesty be damned!
Dave: Where would the world be if Edmond Halley didn’t convince Newton to publish the principia?
Dave: your genius is being wasted, ya know
Dave: well, I do care!
Dave: hmph
Dave: fine, do what you want
Lisa: =D
Lisa: see!
Lisa: see what I mean?
Dave: hmph
Dave: I’m not talking to you
Dave: I can’t believe you’ve come up with an unprecedented model of light waves and haven’t told anybody about it