Prelude to Elections

Today is the last day of October, so that means that a week from now, we’ll all be off voting in our respective polling places, (trying) to steer the course of our nation. I’m not any sort of a pundit or activist, but particularly for those of you in Wisconsin, I thought I would offer my opinions on some key races that are coming up next week. This post is less about steering your vote, and more about gaining additional perspective.

If you ask me, both Jim Doyle and Mark Green are, frankly, dickwads. I can’t ever remember a campaign that talked less about issues. Politics has become a subsidiary of the entertainment industry, and this race is a shining example.
“Governor Doyle, what is your position on stem cell research?”
“Well, let me tell you that my opponent wants all your grandchildren to die of cancer…”

“And Congressman Green, how do you propose to increase retention of college graduates in the state?”
“Yes—did you know that my opponent takes weekly field trips to Tijuana and drives busloads of illegal immigrants across the border to inflate diversity statistics at UW campuses?”

Anyway… I am likely to vote for the Green party candidate, Nelson Eisman. At least this way, I’ll be able to sleep at night over the next four years… Here are links for all three candidates:
Jim Doyle
Mark Green
Nelson Eisman

Attorney General
The way I see it, this official should be free from the constraints of politics as much as possible. The Attorney General’s job is to uphold the law and work to eliminate crime. This is all that should matter. Given that position, I’ll probably vote for JB Van Hollen. The biggest reason for my decision here is the fact that Kathleen Falk was an assistant AG for 14 years. To me that says, “well-acquainted with politicking.”


US Senator
Herb is running basically unopposed. It seems like he’s about as vanilla as you can get as a US senator. He hasn’t done anything in particular to distinguish himself, but I guess he hasn’t really screwed up, either. The most that I know about The Senator is that he’s been there 18 years, and likely to be in for another 6 at least. But, when you’re worth 800 million bucks (pun intended), why the hell not get more visibly involved with an issue like, oh, I dunno, limiting wage increases for Congress? on the Senate race

Question 1
“Shall section 13 of article XIII of the constitution be created to provide that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state and that a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state?”

So what we’ve got here is a preemptive strike against non-heterosexuals who would like (deservedly so) social equality with everyone else. I think Kevin was the first person who said to me (and I’m paraphrasing) “LBGTQ issues are the civil rights movement of our generation.” How true.

Creating laws to undermine a person’s civil liberties because you don’t agree with their lifestyle is EXACTLY the same as insisting that people whose skin is a different color sit in a different dining room, or go to a different bathroom, etc.

The reason that this proposal is even on the ballot is because it’s a lightning-rod political issue designed to get ultra-righties to the polls. People who think it’s a good idea will try to scare the ignorant into thinking there’s some sort of subversive homosexual entity in Wisconsin that’s going to start marrying their dogs on November 8.

The fact is, this amendment is wrong, it’s mean-spirited, it goes against the separation of church and state, and above all, it is completely unnecessary. This from on the proposal:

“Under present Wisconsin law, only a marriage between a husband and a wife is recognized as valid in this state. A husband is commonly defined as a man who is married to a woman, and a wife is commonly defined as a woman who is married to a man.
… “A ‘no’ vote would not change the present law restricting marriage to a union between a man and a woman nor impose restrictions on any particular kind of domestic relationship, partnership or agreement between unmarried persons.”

So if you’re a hate-mongering homophobe, by all means: vote yes on this one.

Question 2
“Should the death penalty be enacted in the State of Wisconsin for cases involving a person who is convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, if the conviction is supported by DNA evidence?”

Less controversial, and I recommend taking a look at on this topic as well.

Finally, a more general comment on something that has begun to more significantly influence my political ideology over the last 12 months or so: If you’re into the RSS as a news-delivery medium, subscribe yourself to this feed: AP Science Feed

The thing is, politics is a game that’s on TV for our amusement. It is in both parties’ interest to foster an adversarial atmosphere because we get too wrapped up in hating the other side to notice anything that’s actually going on. None of this will make a goddamn bit of difference if we destroy the planet in the next 50-100 years. So watch the research that’s happening, listen to the reports, and if you actually do care about the world that your kids and your grandkids will be living in, take some responsibility. Ask the people that represent you to do the same.

Tomorrow, back to regularly scheduled minutiae.


Working on my “after-work” list, and it got a little shorter when it turned out that the server fixed itself, so to speak.

You may or may not have noticed that my site & shat was down this morning, but I did a little troubleshooting at lunch, and finally concluded I would probably have to plug a monitor in and futz with something at the end of the day. I got back to my desk and found, quite happily, that it seems to have cleared itself up. So one less thing.

I was up north for the weekend, getting things set for the deer hunt coming up in a few weeks. This was kind of funny– as I was driving up, I thought about how wet you can get sitting in a tree if it snows or rains, and what the possibilities were for preventing such a circumstance. Last year, I took an umbrella out for part of one day and sort of propped it up in my jacket. Turns out Dad had thought of this, too, because he bought me, Joe, and himself an “ultimate umbrella” that straps to the tree and hangs over your stand just right. So there’s two less things.

We did get all the treestands set up, and I think we’re gearing up for a good hunt. We all have at least one extra day off from work, and a lot of the prep is already completed. I still need to do a little shopping, but nothing too difficult. I’m looking forward to it.

I drove Grandma home to Milwaukee, too (one less trip for Mom to make). It was a nice, pretty easy ride. We stopped by my apartment in Oshkosh on the way, since Grandma hadn’t seen it yet. After that, we ate at Culver’s.

We listened to the Packers game on the way. It was a good win, even though it was against a team even (GASP) worse than Green Bay. They’ve got Buffalo next week (another pathetic group), and I know there are people hopeful that the team can get back to even. I still think it’s a real stretch to expect them to win 3 games in a row. I’d say they’ve got a 50-50 shot of beating the Bills, then I guarantee 3 consecutive losses to Minnesota, New England, and Seattle.

I played with Michelle’s iPod a little bit on Sunday evening, but when I sat down at the computer in frustration, intent on figuring out what was keeping Ubuntu from recognizing it, Michelle reminded me that she would rather spend some time with me than watch me fix the iPod. It was a good point. And I guess that’s one other thing less.

One final thing: seems like Family Ties star Tina Yothers is now attending UW Oshkosh…

A Pair of Rants for a Friday

The Fag-Hating? Militia is notably absent from the steps of Polk today. So I guess defending the sanctity of marriage is most important issue facing our nation today… y’know, unless it screws up your weekend.

At some point in the last 5 years, apparently pedestrians turned into mindless lemmings, apt to wander into traffic at any moment, wholly oblivious to existence of the automobile. So even when you’re at an unregulated intersection, or, hell–just the middle of the goddamn block, drivers should be slamming on the brakes if they see someone on foot standing on the sidewalk. Because hey—that kid prolly don’t know from traffic…

Speaking of Cop-Outs

I finally saw The Departed yesterday. While it has not taken the status of “best Scorsese movie ever,” for me or anything, it is the first one of his flicks I actually feel inclined to talk about afterward since Goodfellas. So, if you’re into that, look at ‘Gliders and Tanks’ over in forums.

That is all for now…

A System of Determining Punctuality

I will grant that I have a very loose, extremely pliable system for deciding whether or not I am “on time” for all sorts of activities, most notably, work. I use this system to justify my internal argument that “oh, I’m still on time,” knowing full well that if the facts were presented to any other reasonable person, I would most likely not be judged so.

Let’s begin by using today as an example:
I have a meeting at 1 o’clock, so I decided I would go to lunch at 11:30, giving myself a little time back at my desk before said meeting. An Outlook reminder went off and told me to go to lunch right at 11:30.


I was finishing an email and this took me until 11:32. Since it was past 11:30, the “time I left,” automatically gets rounded up to the next 5-minute mark (similarly, “leaving at 11:30” would constitute any time between 11:26 and 11:30).


Now the beautiful part here is that by leaving 2 minutes later, I actually bought myself an extra 8 minutes. Because, in addition to the 5-Minute Round Up, under this system a person is always on time if they arrive within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. Therefore, I could get back to work at 12:40 and still be “on time.” This also allows me to make it in to work by about 7:50 each morning and yes, still completely “on time.”


The inherent fallacy of our timekeeping instruments can also be a benefit under this system. You see, the big clock on the wall in our office, by which I will always measure my punctuality, is about 3 minutes behind my computer clock, phone, etc. So, at 11:40 on my watch, it will only be 11:37 on the wall. You’d think this would just help me to be a little “early” on my return, but that’s not the case. A determination of 11:40 means 11:40 by whichever clock will give you the most favorable measurement. So, if I don’t have to be back until 12:40 on the wall clock, that means 12:43 by my watch. And, since :43 is past :40, you guessed it—the 5-Minute Rule. I “left” at 11:45, and back in 60 minutes-plus.


So I walked out the door at 11:33, and through some very simple and illogical reasoning, I bought myself an extra 12 minutes for my 60-minute lunch. And, 12 minutes just happens to be the same amount of time it takes me to walk home. Please feel free to exploit this system whenever you need to, and if necessary, even brand it as your own. It’s highly effective in an environment where no “clock punching” actually happens. It has been my experience, though, that a timeclock is not as forgiving as a confused supervisor.

Al Miller's Heart is a Lump of Butter

Damn, I ate a lot of cookies last night.

Michelle and I made two batches of cookies on Sunday night—some peanut butter, and some oatmeal raisin. They are GOOD. But, then I run into the problem where I have all sorts of cookies all over the house. I have a really hard time keeping myself from eating certain foods that I really really enjoy, and peanut butter cookies happen to be one of those things. I end up just wolfin ’em down until they’re gone or I feel guilty or (wait for it, Lorch…) I puke.

I think I’ll bring the rest of them into work.

But we had a good time making those cookies. She laughed at me when I scraped out all the peanut butter jars in the cabinet before digging in to the new jar. She says it wasn’t so much laughing at the scraping and not wasting any peanut butter, but more that I had 5 jars camped out in the cabinet just waiting for the one occasion when I would make peanut butter cookies. This becomes funnier when you realize that I’ve never once made peanut butter cookies at my house before.

We had a really nice weekend, I’d say. On Saturday, Kevin & Amanda’s new daughter, Harper, was baptized. I’m her godfather. It was a really cool honor to be asked. More evidence of the being a grown-up and whatnot, I suppose. Also, allows me to do stuff like this:


OK, that’s probably enough of that. I should do some work.

Easier Than Expected: 21-50

What I did is I just printed out a list of all the albums I have on the server (which is basically all the music that I have) and went through it, highlighting the ones that I really, really like. I actually marked 33, and had to nix 3 off the list. Maybe if I decide to make a Top 100, you’ll find out what those were.

You will note that these ARE in a particular order, and that order is “alphabetical.” You will also notice that this list has a lot of records on it that came out in the last 3-5 years. I thought this was fine, becuase if you want to know about my “current musical sensibility,” it’s going to be reflected in what I’m listening to the most right now… On with the show, this is it.

21. Badly Drawn Boy – The Hour of Bewilderbeast
22. Beta Band – The Three EPs
23. Billy Bragg & Wilco – Mermaid Avenue
24. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
25. Bruce McCulloch? – Shame-Based? Man
26. Coldplay – Parachutes
27. The Dandy Warhols – 13 Tales from Urban Bohemia
28. Dave Mathews Band – Crash
29. Depeche Mode – Violator
30. John Hermanson – self-titled
31. Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
32. Johnny Cash – Unchained
33. Jurassic 5 – Quality Control
34. Laika – Good-Looking? Blues
35. Led Zepplin IV
36. Michael Jackson – Thriller
37. Morphine – Like Swimming
38. Paul McCartney? & Wings – Band on the Run
39. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
40. Pink Floyd – The Wall
41. R.E.M. – Up
42. Radiohead – OK Computer
43. Saint Germain – Tourist
44. Steve Martin – Let’s Get Small
45. Stevie Wonder – Talking Book
46. Storyhill – Miles and Means
47. The Beatles – Abbey Road
48. The Beatles – Let It Be
49. U2 – Achtung Baby
50. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot

Also posted in the forum. I was gonna put in Amazon links for all of these, but that seems like some unpaid promotion for Amazon. And of course, you are perfectly capable of a copy/paste.

Have a good Friday…

How 'Bout I iSlap You in the iFace?

I’m going to be getting a new phone in the early part of December since my contract is up, and since Michelle just shopped for one herself, it got me to thinking about what I want to get.

Michelle found a couple great 3rd-party sites that more or less give phones away for nothing. The only trade-off seems to be that you have to pay activation. I can live with that.

So that really opens up your options, y’know? I was thinking about one of these new-fangled “music player” phones, cuz I admit that I like to listen to the tunes on my walk to work, but don’t really see that I need an iPod for a couple reasons:
– Apple and iTunes can eat my ass
– If I’m going to drop that sort of coin on a portable electronic device, I want more comprehensive control over what sort of data I put on it (i.e., F proprietary file formats)
– I think iTunes sucks
– My walk is only 12 minutes one way

So I really don’t *need* to have an iPod, and those of you that do, hey—enjoy the crap out of ’em, really. I just… I don’t need it. So if I could get a phone with a music player for zero monies, then everybody wins.

Rumor has it that the Motorola SLVR (which is essentially a shitty iTunes player built into a phone) is coming to Verizon in the very near future. I’ve been reading review for it online and they mostly suck. It sounds like Motorola is great at aesthetic design, and totally head-up-ass with features/functionality. So I read like three reviews and decided I will not be getting this phone.

I’m pretty well sold on the same phone that Michelle is getting, an LG VX8300, but I guess the flash card that it takes (MicroSD, not MiniSD) is pretty expensive. Not sure why that is… But it does make me want to keep looking for other options.

Lost in this whole conversation with myself is the fact that I still have a very serviceable PDA that I purchased a couple years back from Dell, and I found a fantastic music player for Windows Mobile that essentially turns this device into an iPod with less memory (which, it’s been established, I barely need anyway).

When all this is said and done, I guess I come back to “just get a phone that’s a phone leave it at that.”

Sometimes I think I’m shopping and trying to think of tweaks for things just for the sake of tweaking. I should be mindful of the mantra on a site I recently unearthed (yes, looking for some computing solution): “Don’t live to geek; geek to live.”

In loosely-related geek news, IE7 was officially released late last night. Way to go, Microsoft. You just caught up to where Firefox was 18 months ago.

Do Not Be Alarmed and Please Hold Your Seats

Joe (the Mundschau Joe) helped me out with a tikiwiki programming thing earlier today that will allow me to “merge” the earlier incarnations of my blog into the current blog, making the post-counter 100% accurate, and the blog 100% searchable, en masse.

I don’t know how this sudden influx of entries will/has appeared to those of you in RSS land, but if it was weird, I apologize.

Some of the interesting things you find when you’re looking through a lot of old blogs:
– Found the reference point where I must have decided to register soloshootsfirst (the title was “Interest and Factual Events”)
– I used to be funnier. Seriously. I need to watch less TV, read more, work less, sit around and think more often. I’m a loser.

That’s the biggest thing I have for you right now… I’ve stayed at work pretty late working on that bloggish project. Should probably get home soon so I can eat and get ready for LOST.

Goddammit. I hate TV.