Find the segue

Man, how about this heat? On Monday, I couldn’t tell what made me angrier: The fact that the National Weather Service has advised avoiding all outdoor activities between noon and 9:00pm through Wednesday, or that WABE’s John “Freon Smile” Lemley insisted on repeating those words something like 47 times during my 20-minute commute home. I almost turned the car around, drove down to the GPB building, and slapped Lois Reitzes. And while I was there, had Jennifer Gates been milling about, I’d saunter over and be all, “Ahem … how you doin’?”

Speaking of college football, the spousal neglect officially starts on the last day of this month. I love it when the off-season goes by so quickly. I don’t follow enough minute statistics or do enough sports research to to make any predictions of any merit, like how many SEC East teams Spurrier is going to beat this year (all of them), or by what month Richt will settle on a single starting quarterback (November), by which time it will be way too late. But I do have one. Georgia fans should expect to hear an earful all year about the weakness of the Bulldogs’ schedule. Also, becuase of said schedule, and because Richt has never been able to blow teams away week in and week out, Georgia fans should not act surprised when they take it in the shorts come BCS time.

Sure, all the big teams pepper their schedules with patsies, and I understand why. Geeorgia’s schedule just seems particularly risk-free. Aside from the Gamecocks in week 2, things don’t even really get started until Tennessee in week 6. Yes, I’m interested in the Colorado game, and, yes, I’m glad Georgia is finally branching out to some out-of-conference teams who have actually been on TV before, despite Colorado being not-all-that-not-sucky.

And, really, I guess Georgia’s schedule is fine. I just get envious when I see Arkansas bringing USC over for their opener. Oh hey, Tennessee is bringing Cal around. And look at little old Vandy, starting off AT MICHIGAN. It seems like I write this half-baked rant at least twice every year, so I’ll stop. I’m just happy it’s almost football season. I have a barrel smoker now, and I fully plan on commiting rib-icide at least twice a month this fall. I will spend August busting my ass exercising, but by Xmas I will be on disability. Go Dawgs.

SSSSssssssss

When there’s nothing else to talk about, you talk about the weather. So, HOW’S ABOUT THIS FUCKING HEAT, ATLANTA?! It’s supposed to hit triple digits today, and on our nation’s 230th birthday no less. Having just spent the past month exploring the entire country, I’ll concede that it is hot everywhere, but few places rival the good ol’ deep south. It was hot in Pennsylvania and DC. It was borderline unbearable in Tampa. Even the native Floridians (if there is such a thing) were whining. Los Angeles was having an unusual “humidity wave.” It wasn’t that bad, but, the locals were having a hard time explaining the strange fluids and odors that were flowing forth from their armpits and hairlines. It was rich. Hell, even Oregon was hotter than normal. Granted, that means, like, mid-eighties and no humidity, but, relatively speaking, that’s about when Oregonians start spontaneously dying of brain boil and hot pants.

In the face of such meteorological tyranny, I have been woefully nonproductive. SUPPLIES!! I left work early on Friday all set to get my yardwork out of the way early. Instead, I took a nap. Then I went to Keith’s 30th birthday party. On Saturday morning, I was all set to knock out the yardwork. Right before I was about to begin, I left and played golf with the Duke and two of his buddies. I played abyssmally, but I also hit a couple of the best shots of my life. Following golf, we iced our torsos in Gia’s parents’ pool.

On Sunday, I forced myself to mow the grass. It was more of a courtesy mow as my lawn hasn’t grown more than an inch since May. I raised the blade all the way up and collected less than a half a bag of clippings for the whole yard. As that was all WAAAAAAY too much “gettin’ stuff done” for me, we made a b-line to Gia’s aunt and uncle’s pool and submerged ourselves up to our eyeballs to get out of the heat.

Yesterday, token appearance at the office followed by more golf with Rob and Ben. See … I complain about the heat … while walking around in the direct sunlight swinging metal sticks. Charles Darwin long ago replaced the grim reaper in my nightmares.

Back to the pool.

Wheels keep on spinnin'

Sweet honky donkey, fatman, it’s as if there are no asses in this blog’s cockpit seat. I’ve been fantastically busy for the past few weeks, and I have exactly zero to show for it. We made our annual trip to the auto show, I’ve grilled out a half dozen times, I’m one board short of finishing the front deck project, I attended my first homebrew club meeting, and I have over 100 photos to resize and post.

So, without further ado, I give you … absolutely nothing.

Jeans?

Two sentence rant: Is it me, or does Technorati have the slowest, shittiest servers on the internet? Seriously, you could get better site performance watching one9ine on a 28k dialup connection.

I’m in the market for some new jeans and I would like some input / feedback. I’ve talked about my denim ethic before, and I wrote a magazine article about it way back in 2001. Maddox has also made his opinion on the subject known.

Here’s the thing, it’s been two years since I bought my last pair of jeans and the time has come to introduce a new pair to my ass area. The pair I bought in April of ought four have weathered expertly, but I want to explore all available options before I rush out and get another pair from Sears. Here are my criteria:

- They must not have artificial bleach marks. People who wear jeans with those fucking “whiskers” bleached into the front are the reason 9/11 happened.
- They must not be stressed / damaged / worn / frayed or wrecked in any way. Shortening the life of a garnment and subsequently raising the price of said garnment is the reason AIDS happened.
- They will be priced appropriately. I am not afraid to pay $100 for a pair of jeans, but I better get $100 worth of jeans (i.e. they will give me the sweetest looking ass in the western hemisphere for no less than 6 years of daily wear. Read: it’s not likely I will ever spend $100 on jeans.)

So outside of Dickies and Levi’s, are there any other options that meet my demands? I’m starting to think it’s not likely. I’m considering ordering a pair of these, sight unseen. Why is it so difficult to find a reasonably priced pair of jeans that haven’t been pre-ruined to satisfy some assinine fashion trend? Am I really 28 going on 70?

Last night, we broke into one of the bottles of the New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red gifted to me recently. It pours a murky red color. Either Gia or Robert said it looks like someone mixed beer with NyQuil. The aroma is all candy cherries. Had I been blindfolded, I would have shouted, “RED STARBURSTS!” Since I was not blindfolded, I was able to be more descriptive. “This smells exactly like red starbursts.” The top boasted a loose, busy head, reminiscient of, but slightly tighter than champagne. Since I had red starbursts on the brain, you would think the flavor would almost certainly shatter my expectations. Not so much. This is a very sweet, cherry-flavored beer, with a sharp, tart upswing at the end. Upon another sip, I noticed that it also starts very tart, then it mellows and sweetens, then it finishes tart right at the end. Almost like the taking the first big drop on a roller coaster, then flattening out for a second, then making another big drop, then it’s over. In subsequent sips, I searched my tongue for the malt bill, but I couldn’t find anything but cherries.

This is a fantstic beer, but I’m a little surprised it’s on Beeradvocate’s list of top 50 beers of all time.

It's like hundreds of horses right between your legs!

I cannot, for the life of me, understand the success of these shows documenting an alpha meathead and his meathead minions getting together to build the same GHAT damned motorcycle week after week after week after week. Seriously, what the fuckity fuck? I can fully understand how an hour long documentary about the custom bike-building process would be entertaining and even worth purchasing on DVD if someone were an enthusiast … but a whole season of episodes? Multiple seasons of episodes? MULTIPLE SHOWS ON MULTIPLE CHANNELS WITH MULTIPLE SEASONS OF EPISODES? I’m … you lost me.

I’m sure big fans of motorcyclin’ like all these shows just fine, but the formulaic repetition that these series’ are built upon is nothing short of mind-numbing. The Discovery Channel and (until the Trading Spaces takeover) TLC both offer programming that I value more than the standard fare on other stations, but the motorcycle shows have caused me to watch a lot less TV. It’s the same as the Emmeril Effect. “Oh look. Emmeril is on again for the 9th straight hour. I think I’ll read a book.”

Here is a breakdown of every single episode of every bike-building show ever:

- Project/contest is described. Regardless of whether it’s a charity FDNY bike or a build-off between the two smallest penises in this hemisphere, nothing like it will have ever been attempted before.

- Builders explain their designs in one of exactly two ways:

1. “You know, I like to stick to classic themes. A lot of guys try to mask mistakes and poor quality by covering their bikes in the most ridiculous paint jobs and having huge 8-foot forks, and crap like that. Not me. For me, it’s all about classic lines.”

2. “I didn’t get to where I’m at today by not being an innovator. People know me as someone who takes chances and I’m not about to stop. I really like to push the limits of motorcycle design. A lot of times people are all like, ‘Dude, that will never work,’ and I’m all like, ‘Well, if no one ever tried anything that might not work, then like nothing that might not work might not ever get tried. Or something.’”

- The building process begins and every single person on camera questions whether the design will work while simultaneously crawling as far as they can up the builder’s ass because they are on the builder’s payroll.

- The process rolls along*. Normal hiccups that have been experienced in literally every supplier / manufacturer relationship in the history of commerce are treated as though bird flu is tearing through the shop. “My chrome guy isn’t done with my handle bars yet. This is huge.” Oh, fuck you.

- OH MY GOD. WHERE DID THAT DEADLINE COME FROM? Why is the deadline an all-night blood bath in every single episode? Narrator: “It’s 8:00pm on Day 29. If Chachi doesn’t have his frame to the painter by midnight, he could risk missing his deadline.” I refuse to believe these guys haven’t figured out the process by now, and if every bike comes down to an all-nighter, then they’re all idiots.

- Assembly. Transforming a pile of figured sheet metal, belts, bolts, wires, chains, cables, and pipes into a pristine, custom chopper generally takes about 6 minutes total.

- Narrator: “But the questions is, after all this work, will the bike start?” What do you think?

I actually haven’t ever watched past this point in the show. Lately, I’ve been getting on the treadmill a few minutes before the show starts and my 30-minute run is over before the show ends. The day one of the bikes doesn’t start, the builder misses the deadline, and, as a result, is required to pay a huge late fee, I will begin watching these shows from beginning to end. Or, even more like the real world, if they miss the deadline, they lose the order. Wouldn’t that be some shit? Except, I imagine if they had an extra bike to sell because of a cancelled order, they’d have yokels lined up around the block.

Despite missing the end of every show, I still manage to sleep pretty well at night. I just can’t get over the fact that all these guys have been made rich and famous for stumbling through the same manufacturing process over and over. If the characters were anything other than alpha-male egomaniacs, and they were designing and building something other than motorcycles (let’s say cabinets–custom, but repeatable), their fame would be confined to their ads in the back of This Old House magazine.

Since I’m clearly missing it, I would like for someone to explain the lure to me.

* – At some point the builder’s kid will make an appearance and the builder will make some weak joke about how the kid is either “the real decision maker” or “the hardest working employee in the shop.”

Turn that shit off

Everyone seems to have a strong opinion about MySpace. Everyone also seems to have a profile at MySpace. You know I do. I’ve been trying to wrap my tongue around a MySpace rant for quite a while now, and I didn’t even realize it. Somehow, Rusty’s post finally flicked a switch for me, despite being totally unrelated. My beef is not some high-level, philosophical unrest about how social networking sites are just popularity contests between millions of high schoolers and twenty-something hipsters. Nor do I plan to waste your time and mine claiming sour grapes because my “friend” tally is less than 20,000. No, my rage is much, much more specific.

Is it me, or is the music auto-play feature on MySpace the worst user interface abomination since frames? You probably didn’t even realize it, either. Quick … think of something you hate more than clicking on someone’s MySpace profile and having to quickly hit the pause button on the player to avoid being treated to whatever tripe they’re broadcasting. I’ll be honest–I love my friends, but the vast majority of people I know have horrific taste in music. And it’s not so much the actual music but the fact that I can’t control whether it starts playing or not.

My frustration with this has been building steadily, but slowly, due to the fact that I keep the speakers on my work computer firmly in the mute position. I understand that what essentially started as Friendster on ‘roids has blossomed into a vibrant forum through which people have been exposed, and exposed each other, to like tons of like totally awesome new music, but this auto-play bullshit has got to stop. Where’s the benefit? Surely a company worth over $500 million has performed some usability analyses. Surely I can’t be the only person who feels this way. I pounded off an email to their feedback channel but I’d be shocked if I got a response.

I would guess that 75% of MySpace users are teenagers, and perhaps the teens have not expressed the same disdain for the ridiculous auto-play feature, so I can only hope that there is a large enough demographic like myself to lobby Tom to peel off a couple bills and throw them toward developing a profile option to DISABLE THE GHAT DAMN AUTO-PLAY FEATURE.

Or I could just stop going to MySpace already, which is probably more likely.

UNRELATED UPDATE: In honor of the public radio pledge week, I just sent an email to Steve at 99X alerting him to the humorous potential of extending an on-air welcome to all the NPR listeners this week. Yuk yuk yuk.

RELATED UPDATE: If your curiosity often takes a swing toward the morbid, check out Mydeathspace.com, a collection of MySpace profiles of people who are either dead or have killed someone.

THE AGGREGATOR!!

As Maigh and Greg (which rhyme if spoken in redneck) have already pointed out, there is a new content pilferer in our midst, wherein content pilferer is defined as someone who republishes RSS feeds without permission or appropriate credit and represents websites in ways not authorized by said websites’ owners.

That pilferer is atlantasnews.net (Yes, I realize linking to the site may not be considered “best practices” regarding “web traffic justice,” but whatever), and their misguided representation of yours truly can be seen manifested as a light blue Braves hat to the left. Anyone who has stood close enough to catch a whiff knows that I detest creatively-colored sports stuff. Those every-color-but-navy-blue Yankees hats might be the dumbest things I’ve seen since Catholicism.

It’s kind of hard to tell just what AtlantasNews is all about. It appears to stem from ChronicNews, and all the Chronic sites look like little more than someone flexing their XML / CSS / javascript chops. No discernable original content. An interesting and unusual combination other source’s content. There is a note to content providers. Part of me is relieved that, seeing how many local blogs were included in this netiquitte blood bath, I was one of the ones included. Nothing would have been more embarassing than not getting to join in the outrage because my body of content hadn’t deemed good enough to violate. Ego = placated.

I think a site like AtlantasNews could be a good thing, but as it stands, it’s kind of crappy. It still has my old feed listed, which means they haven’t gotten any new content from me since February 20th, so I’m over it.

UPDATE – I changed my mind and sent a letter …

Hello nameless aggregator admin,

It looks like you’ve had quite a busy day getting batted about the Atlanta blogosphere. I’ll admit, I have mixed feelings about your site. Ultimately I am for anything that brings me increased readership, but your site was built with no input (that I’m aware of) from many of the people whose content now resides here. I don’t think that is your worst violation, mind you, because I am well aware that it is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask for permission. I’m in sales.

I was prepared to go with the flow and see how things panned out until I saw the comments feature. I tested, and you confirmed, that comments posted to entries written by me are hosted on your site with no notification to me, and are moderated by you. Comments are essentially interactive bits of content that are borne of an original piece of content created by me. That is an aspect of which I would like complete control.

Unless allowing me to have administrative control over discussions had on behalf of content generated by me is possible, I am afraid I have to ask you to please remove the tonysimon.org feed from your site.

Really Simplelton Syndication

Unwittingly breaking my RSS feed last week has wreaked more havoc than I would have imagined. Please see the bottom of the sidebar for the current feed. Also at the bottom of the sidebar you will notice that I have accidentally validated my CSS. Thus, my career of being a really good bad web designer soldiers forth.

In the grand scheme, my RSS feed issue is a cigarette butt in the gutter of the internet. Based on traffic, a very small percentage of people have noticed it, and the residual effects will work themselves out before long. But it has gotten me thinking about the evolution of information conveyance. Everything seems so interactive and automatic and fluid, and it’s unsettling to think about how fragile the system is. The website publishes its content for all the world to see. The feed reader searches huge lists of websites and harvests only the choice nuggets of content deemed desirable by the end-user. But with one line change, the whole system breaks. The website continues to publish content and update its feed, and the feed reader continues to scan for updates, but the disconnect prevents the end-user from seeing the updates. The webmaster and end-user are none the wiser. If they’re anything like me, those who employ the services of a feed reader probably do so because they read far too many websites to do it manually and still have time for things like work and sleep and social interaction. You become accustomed to having updates delivered right to your face in real time, so if one suddenly stops, you’re not inclined to notice. I don’t really have a point here other than, as connected as we may seem, the connections are merely a complicated knot of very thin threads that can break easily, not unlike walking through a spiderweb on the way to your car in the morning.

I picked up the 2/20 issue of New York Magazine at the airport a couple weeks ago solely for the cover and the purported article on blogging within. I’m not sure why, but air travel somehow necessitates these kinds of impulse purchases. Anyhoo, the article contains some interesting insight into the world of “A-list” blogging. I had no idea the kind of money that the huge blogs pull down. Granted, the ratio of blogs that pay their own way to the total number of blogs in existence is so ridiculous that I’m hesitant to even fantasize. But it was interesting to read that there are people who not only make a living, but have become rich blogging.

The stickiest tidbit I took away from the article is every successful blogger’s insistence that the number rule for success is a hyper-regular publishing schedule. They talk about sitting in front of the porn box for 16 hours a day and posting several times a day. That sounds like a whole lot of not fun to me, but then again, it’s not like I’ve been trying to actually make any money doing this. And, after reading the article, what do I do? I go a whole week without posting anything. A-list, here I come!!

It's like they read my post and they're twisting the blade just for me

For those of you familiar with my public stance on StoryCorps, this morning’s snippet should have had you laughing out loud with the knowledge that, at that moment, I was paralyzed under the emotional G-force equivalent of a hairpin turn during a space shuttle launch. I am calling shenanigans on the entire StoryCorps project. I now have no doubt that they are making this stuff up. 100%.

For the unwashed heathen, short story even shorter: Shasti is receiving chemo for Hodgkins’. The treatments make her so sick that they have to administer them away from other patients. During one treatment, the instant the needle pierces her skin, she vomits and loses control of her waste production facilities. She’s cryng uncontrolably, writhing in her own “yield.” Her husband tells her a joke that makes her laugh and she looks up into his face and it is the greatest moment of her life.

I’m tapping out. I can’t take it.