Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Telling a short story in an Excel spreadsheet


At first, it doesn't seem to work. But keep reading.....


Over the weekend, I bowled:
an 84, followed by
a 174, followed by
a 124.
Average score: 130-something, I'd guess. None too shabby.
Virginia is a strange place to bowl. You can still smoke in the bowling alleys, and they had a cop walk around and I people on the lanes who were drinking beer.
The whole thing reminded me of a one-credit college course I took: Bowling. We had a written final. People drank and bowled. We were "Team Brunswick."

Monday, March 30, 2009

Black comedy

(Actual headline) Children’s Hooded Sweatshirts with Drawstrings Recalled by Dysfunctional Clothing Due to Strangulation Hazard
Lost Children’s Sweatshirts with drawstring sizes S-XL, RN # 85773. The product name and style numbers are found on the hangtag at the left side seam of the garment.


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Seeing this scared me (click to enlarge - Google Docs is unavailable). Imagine if you went to Gmail and saw this - complete and utter pandemonium. Makes me wonder: At what point does e-mail become an issue of national security?

Thursday, March 26, 2009


1. I asked my friend Warren what's the story behind a "Bundt Cake." He said, essentially, that "the Jews did it." Amazingly, he was right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundt_cake

2. You can ask the White House questions. And people sure have.

3. Dianna and I were once talking about fundraising. I told her that I have a different perspective on it since I working in the fundraising world for a few years. I told her it's very common for people to keep tabs on you and the general health of your finances so they can make an educated guess for how much you can donate. She said this sounded like spying. I said, well, maybe, but it's for a good cause. I then told her how it's common to be "solicited" by a fellow coworker at the non-profit where you work, and that you are expected to make a gift of some kind. She was suprised that I spoke so positively about the process, and said I seemed to be suffering from some sort of Philanthropic Stockholm Syndrome. Nice one, D.

4. I got assigned to help with Recovery.gov, the U.S. government's project to make the bailout as transparent as possible. Overheard today, "Make sure it's on the front page, because the Vice President wants it on the front page." Cool.

5. Wonder what information is around the government-issured Security Card on my neck?

"HSPD-12 Tip Of The Week: What Information Is Stored About Me On My Card?
Your employee ID badge, also called the HSPD-12 card, has the
following encrypted information about you: full name, photo,
organization, affiliation (employee or contractor), fingerprint
minutiae and cryptographic keys. Fingerprint minutiae are mathematical
representations of your fingerprints used for matching purposes and
cannot be used to replicate your fingerprints. Your HSPD-12 card does
not contain personal information, such as your Social Security number,
date of birth, or personal address. No one can access information on
your HSPD-12 card without your PIN and a card reader. Visit our
HSPD-12 Web page for more information about GSA's HSPD-12 efforts."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

How to eat cheap at a buffet

Sadly, most buffets are not all-you-can-eat. You have to pay them by item or by ounce. If you're a guy like me, you need to eat a good deal to get full, and this can get expensive fast. Here's how to do it cheaply.

Sushi - won't fill you up, which in this case is a bad thing
Meat with bones in it
Heavy sauces - skim that shit off unless you plan to drink it later

Good bets:
Boneless chicken / tofu
Veggie eggrolls
Caeser salad - protein and vitamins, and a light dressing
Steamed veggies
Largely pointless blog posts.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fark: Why Facebook was dumb to emulate Twitter

Drew Curtis, the supposedly alcoholic founder of Fark (which I read daily), had this to say about Facebook and its Twitter-makeover:

"Speaking of Twitter initiatives, Facebook did a major redesign recently and the thing looks like Twitter now. Far be it from me to criticize other people's site redesigns (my official stance with any redesign is "you'll get over it"), but it seems strange to me that a site with 175 million users is so scared of a site with 6 million that it destroys what made Facebook unique to become an imperfect copy of Twitter.

"Twitter content is actively updated. You say to yourself "I haven't told everyone what kind of cream cheese I ate on my bagel today", and you update your Twitter status so everyone knows. Facebook content on the other hand is secondary activity created when you try to do something like look up old friends, contact people, friend them, confirm party attendance, zombie bite them, whatever (with the exception of status updates, but that's only one piece of the functionality). Facebook content for the most part consists of secondary information about what you're doing on Facebook. Its the ripples in the pool as you move around. Twitter content IS what you're doing. Twitter is the actual swimming - you have to take the strokes. This distinction is important because intentional content creation has to be sustained. Secondary content creation is a side affect and just happens.

"You may have noticed that the vast majority of people don't have anything interesting to say. They may eventually get Twitter accounts and they may update but the content sucks and no one cares. Far more people are going to be doing what they're doing on Facebook for far longer -- assuming (and this is the important bit) that Facebook doesn't fark up and forget what the hell people were on Facebook to do in the first place... Whoops, too late.

"I don't think Facebook is in any danger from Twitter in the first place. It's probably not a bad thing that they're not resting on their successes, because something at some point is absolutely going to knock Facebook out of their number-one-hangout-spot-on-the-Internet slot. It seems to happen on a five year cycle. Before Facebook it was Myspace, before that it was AOL, Compuserve, Usenet, etc. If someone told you ten years ago that, not only would AOL NOT be the top hangout spot on the Internet but that it would have faded into relative obscurity, you wouldn't have believed it. I don't know what's coming after Facebook, but something inevitably will. However, it's not going to be Twitter. Unless Facebook inadvertently hands the crown to Twitter.

"In short, always bet on people being lazy. Eventually, people will be too lazy to continue to update 140 word statuses over a period of years. Yes it's unimaginable right now, but AOL thought the same thing at one point."

Big fat hypocrite

Yes, this photo is terrible, but it's the best I can do until I save up enough for a non-camera-phone camera.
This photo is intended to highlight my hypocrisy. I blogged a few weeks ago about how everyone in DC always wears black 24-7. And then lo and behold Dianna commented that:

* I only have two pairs of jeans - both black.
* I have two jackets - one black and one red and black
* my suits are all black / really dark
* my dress shoes are black
* my sweaters are all black


Street art

Providence, RI was a great place to grow up if you like interesting street graffiti / art / clever vandalism. We created the international sensation known as "Andre has a Posse," of course.
I saw this one near Dupont Circle and give it a thumbs up. Have you seen any great street art you'd like to showcase?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The epicenter of egotism is a Whole Foods in Washington, D.C. You do not exist for the shoppers there. You are an impoverished, unenlightened impediment. Step aside - I am talking into my bluetooth device now.
And Whole Foods' new slogan (at right), which attempts to position themselves as some sort of bargain outlet, is ridiculous, as my 3 bags of groceries with the $100 price tag will attest.

Emotional connoisseur

Vulcans (whose finger gestures were based on Jewish rites, BTW) believe that emotions - sadness, anger, etc. are irrational and endemic to unstable people, and should be avoided.
I, on the other hand, love displays of emotion, especially other people's. Recently, I've been interested in seeking out sources of emotions and just basking in the stream. Through the magic of the internets, it's easy to find an emotional current. Some of late for me:

Nice comments from Wikipedia donors - Here I read and read and smile. All these nice things from people all over the world who wanted nothing in return.

Inspirational Stories ("Mail carrier saves woman from Near-Northside fire, completes her rounds" - scroll to bottom for comments)

On the other side of the spectrum is the intense, boiling anger that everyone feels about AIG. It's everywhere - blogs, cartoons, and in untold news articles, youtube clips, etc. I enjoy listening to the argument. Maybe what attracts me is the strange unity that is created by shared feelings. It's like being at a rock concert and feeling an experience all around you that you are a part of. It's history that you feel a part of, or something... I just enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Things that can kill you, Part 2: Teddy Bears

If you have an oral fixation - stay away from the State Farm Good "Neigh Bears" (yuck yuck). Detachable eyes.... the silent killer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I recall my graduation from grad school: There was a lot of purple. My GF said with dismay that she looked like an eggplant.
A friend wanted to take a photo with me and three other guys. They took it, and then said I had fucked it up.
"Why?" I asked.
"You didn't make a gangsta pose," was the reply.
Flipping through the net, it became clear that the lack of a pose, or "unpose" (coined right this second by me) is in fact cooler than the gangsta pose.
After all, if these guys and these guys are doing it, it must suck. (Warning: Pics might be NSFW).

P.S. Posing or not, the guys in the photo above still rule. Hi guys :)

Monday, March 9, 2009

When celebrities make us stupid

I need to catch my breath. I have been running around the building with my other (female) coworkers, trying to get a glimpse of 1/2 of Bradgelina. She's filming a movie here.
It occurs to me to ask: Why? Why is she worth this attention? I think she's attractive, sure - but not enough for me to read celebrity news on her or anything. I didn't even see her in Tomb Raider, and I walked out of Beowulf even though she's half nude in it.
As I ate my salami sandwich in the hallway today, ready to dart to a window for a view at any moment, one theory emerged: Celebrities are unique. They are the only ones of their particular species, and the last that will ever exist. Every celebrity, therefore, is an endangered species. Some, like polar bears, we really care about. Others, like naked mole rats, are sort of oddities that don't matter too much one way or the other (like most American Idol winners). So when we see Angelina making a movie outside our building, it's like we've witnessed the last dodo before they walked off the extinction cliff. We were there - we saw them with our eyes. And then we went back to work.

Lame note: These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent GSA's positions, strategies or opinions.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What people say about Politico

Everyone talks about Politico. Everyone. Most are haters. Some cover it more fairly, like this article at The New Republic...... uh..... too tired to blog.

Buncha things

1. Is it a sin to eavesdrop on a nun? What about two nuns? What if you're on the Metro and they are sitting behind you?
2. Had a great lunch at The Good Stuff Eatery, a place opened by Top Chef contestant Spike. It rocked. First, Spike was working the grill right in front of us. Yes, he had on one of his signature hats. I saw him pitch what appeared to be a perfectly good burger into the trash, so apparently quality control is on, baby. He plans to franchise the hell outta that place. It was in the Capitol South neighborhood, which we really liked. It was full of young, smart folks, and made me realize how sleepy Arlington / Rosslyn is. We also checked out the Eastern Market, which was great.
3. Too tired from 4+ miles of walking to type....

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Things that can kill you, Part 1: Wafflemakers

Waffles = good.
Wafflemakers = extra good
Wafflemakers that can burn down your house = less good

Brought to you by the good folks at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Don't drive angry

I realized that my favorite movie is actually my girlfriend's life. You recall Groundhog Day, the superb movie where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over and over again...
Well, due to my poor-ass memory, I often tell the same stories over and over again. Not only that, but seeing certain things will spark certain memories, which will spark certain stories that I think I have never told a soul before. They are so interesting and textured... how could anyone NOT want to know about them?

Jon: Do you ever recall things from the inmost recesses of your mind, like suddenly remember concerts that you've been to that you forgot about? Do you like the band The Flaming Lips? I went to this concert once that completely kicked ass. You HAVE to listen to this... I totally forgot all about this show....
Dianna: Sure! Except you told me the same story last month, prefaced exactly the same way. You know, when the huge green inflatable balloons fell from the ceiling, right? And there were dancing aliens and Santa Clauses?
Jon: Uhhhh.... yeah, that one.
Dianna: You're terarded.
Jon: Yes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Defending my honor

Everything was on the line. To the loser went nothing but shame. To the winner - glory past compare. My self-esteem, my self-WORTH was on the line. I had to... I just HAD to beat this 16-year-old in Street Fighter IV.
I actually liked him a great deal. He's the son of a friend of mine. He runs track. He collects comics. He's hilarious and seemingly well-adjusted.
But then video games came up. He said a friend was giving up video games for lent and was bringing over his Street Fighter IV... which, like, just came out. The name of the game takes me back to high school, playing Street Fighter 2 in my friend Matt Bromberg's basement, or at Geo's house at all hours. I bought a SNES in high school just so I could play it at home. I played well - could beat the game, certainly. My guys: Guile and E. Honda, mostly.
So when this kid brings it up, I naturally expressed interest.
"You will lose," he tells me, channeling Dolph Lundgren from Rocky III.
So the game was brought out. The standard side-scrolling action was the same. Most the characters hadn't changed much, although they added a few more as they always do. My teenage friend loved Ryu (which he correctly pronounced "Reh-yu" instead of "Rye-Yu" like I used to) and Ken. That spoke well of his abilities - their special moves were tough, and they are considered to be the most well-balanced fighters.
He talked lots of smack, as all teenagers ought to. He and his first opponent were evenly matched. I called winner. The whiz-kid pulled off 6+ hit combos, and got off some "Ultimate Hits" (whatever that is) and other shenanigans.
It was me versus the track / smack star. I found a comfy position on his couch. High school flashed before my eyes - those days were 25% school, 15% sleep, 20% teenage trouble-making and 40% video games. If all those hours were worth anything - anything at all....
He chose Ryu. I chose Guile, exhaled, and pressed A.
Long story short: Ryu laid unconscious in Hell next to an exploding volcano. Guile, meanwhile, dusted himself off, combed his flat-top and made disparaging remarks about Ryu's mother. 'Natch.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bull Run Regional Park: Where trees come to die

I heard that Bull Run, Virginia had a beautiful park. It certainly had a beautiful web site. So I took D this weekend.
What did we find?
Sadness. Gloomy trees, mostly dead. Ridiculous bridges that ran a foot over dry ground. Even a park bench located not very aesthetically in the middle of a forest. Oh - and there was a shooting range nearby, so our ears were blessed with shotgun blasts. Oh - and nothing living whatsoever.
It stunk.
It did, however, provide us with many opportunities to think up slogans for the forest.

You better run.... from Bull Run.
Bull Run.... Bull shit.

Bull Run - where trees are sad.
Come to Bull Run... to die.

Bull Run... The worst place on earth.