Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Terrible Guilt

A week and a half since my last post and the guilt is starting to become crippling (although I tried to convince myself that I could wait until the Super Bowl). Anyway, for lack of anything else blogworthy, I have just three words: Bose QuietComfort3 headphones.

The light on the side of my face isn't sunlight, its the warm glow of satisfaction.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bears v. Pats, Part II

I was going to wait until after this weekend's games to post this, but it's too good. I was speaking to my sister this afternoon, discussing the possibility that this year will feature a Super Bowl XX rematch of the Chicago Bears v. the New England Patriots. One of the most memorable parts of that 1985 football season was the absolute hilarity of the 'Super Bowl Shuffle,' the rap song and video recorded by members of the 1985 Chicago Bears football team. I pointed out that they recorded the song well before the playoffs had begun, and my sister pointed out that there had been a New England Patriots response song. Let the Googling and YouTube-ing begin:

The New England Patriots song is called 'New England, the Patriots, and Me.'

Unfortunately, YouTube seems to have cracked down on copies of the 'Super Bowl Shuffle,' so there's no possibility of a side-by-side comparison (here's a nice summary of the song). Let's just say that both are incredibly cheesy and short on 1.) production values and 2.) musical ability on the part of the performers and the composers. The Bears song features members of the team in their uniforms, pretending to play instruments and dancing, while 'singing' about how awesome they are. The Patriots song intercuts scenes of 'singers' in the studio, folks on the street, players, and what I presume are local celebrities 'singing' the song, along with a few shots of the Patriots playing and hugging each other. By the way the end of the line, 'New England, the Patriots, and Me' is 'rolling on to victory.'

While both these songs are terrible, as a loyal Chicagoan, I must say that the 'Super Bowl Shuffle' benefits from a clarity of purpose that the New England song lacks. It is about how awesome the Bears and that's it. The Bears 'sing' and 'dance' and each player gets a verse about their particular brand of awesomeness. The Patriots song, in contrast, is rather muddied; is it about New England or football, and what exactly is your contribution to victory? The song itself? I hope not.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

What the ... ? Is that a dead cat?

I turned on the TV to watch some coverage of the winter storm affecting Germany and saw this. I get that the microphones are designed to cut wind noise and my unfamiliarity with them is probably because I've never had cable, and cable news, before, but I think this is incredibly hilarious. (By the way, I took these pictures with the built-in iSight camera on my Macbook, so they're pretty terrible, but I'm pretty impressed with myself for lining up a tiny camera on a 5lb laptop with my TV):


Saturday, January 13, 2007

German Walk Signals Are Psychologically Unsatisfying

Here's a picture of a typical walk signal button in Bonn:

Notice something about it? It's not easy to tell from the photo, but there's no actual button, just a little red circle with the outline of a hand on it and instructions to touch the red button. In the United States, there would be a button which you could push to your heart's content and which may or may not have any effect on the actual walk signal. Here, I'd say that a surprising fraction of the time, the lights immediately change upon touching the button. But the action of touching the button is fraught with uncertainty. Did I touch it too hard, not hard enough, not long enough? Who knows?

To sum up. United States: ineffective but psychologically satisfying. Germany: effective but psychologically unsatisfying.


Friday, January 12, 2007

Another Ivy League Education Gone to Waste

There's a small selection of English language books in the lounge at work, and I picked up The Rule of Four the other day. I recalled reading a -- mostly positive -- review of the book when it came out, describing it as a Da Vinci Code-ish novel (although I haven't read The Da Vinci Code), an academic mystery / suspense set at Princeton University, written by two Princeton grads as a way to keep in touch after graduation (which I thought totally dorky, but maybe a little cute).

You know those guys that you went to college with, who were maybe a little too articulate for their own good and who were super-excited to be at "X" institution and could enumerate the reasons why, but only in the most intellectually superficial way? (Yeah, douchebag, Schroedinger's cat is awesome.) Yeah, the book is written by those guys. I hate those guys. And while, clearly, people who I might not like if I knew them in person can write some really good stuff (for one, I'm pretty sure that Dave Eggers is the guy at the bar who won't shut up about 'how awesome would it be if we ...?'), these aren't those guys.

The book is clubby, pretentious, exceptionalist, shallow, and romantic about life and love in the self-absorbed way that must seem very profound and gratifying for a couple of Princeton guys with not many female friends, but that no one over the age of 24 should be. In short, everything I always assumed about Princeton students but never had proof of. Before. Also, the mystery isn't very interesting.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Momofuku Ando

Since everyone I know is addicted to the New York Times, I'm sure you all have seen this. But if, for some reason, you haven't read the Jan. 9, 2007 editorial (hurry, before it leaves the free site) in appreciation of Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen, you should. The finest two lines are the last (written by Lawrence Downes):

Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. Give him ramen noodles, and you don’t have to teach him anything.

Somewhere, Jorge Cham is kicking himself for not thinking of those sentences first.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy New Year

It's going to be tough getting rolling on the blog after the winter break, but I'm going to try to ramp up production of posts. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of blogworthy stuff going on right now. At work, people are just now trickling back from vacation and we're still a month away from what people assure me is the craziness of Carnival. Also, my plan for January involves kicking some substructure lensing ass -- you know, if it had one -- the details of which I will spare everyone.

I was thinking about blogging about the 400g giant gummy bear (larger than my hand) that I bought Sean at the gummy bear store. I don't have any pictures of it, however, and after Googling, I saw the pictures of the 13lb gummy bear and my gummy bear didn't seem so exciting.

And before anyone asks, I did nothing on New Year's Eve, but I did notice that New Year's Eve in Bonn is a lot like the 4th of July in Hyde Park -- lots of fireworks going off from every direction. And after reading this article a couple of years ago, it was nice to see that they do indeed broadcast that on German TV (more than one channel) on New Year's Eve (the internet didn't lie to me!).