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Category: misc

05/16/08 05:01 - 62ºF - ID#44368

burly naked men singing

I've written off the possibility of doing anything useful this afternoon. I've been 100% on this one project that was due Thursday and so, since everyone was strictly ordered to get out my grille this week, I have no other work lined up. The server was down all Wednesday, so the sysadmin moved the site over to another host, which in turn went down all Thursday morning. This is the project which had to be done using a PHP/Linux solution rather than the standard homebrew .net thing they usually use, due to the specifications of the client's sysadmin. They chose Drupal, which strikes terror into the hearts of men much braver than I, and the whole project turned into six weeks of trying to get it to not suck so hard. This is the same sysadmin who, at 3pm today, told us he was quitting effective next Friday.

When the going gets tough, the tough get naked. But since I'm a digital person I'll just link you to this video of the Austrian rugby team instead. They had much larger problems than I, having just found themselves on the spiky end of a 48-point shutout by Lithuania. So here they are in Vilnius city center:


(e:chico,44363) contends that the TiTS lineup sucks this year, so I guess I won't feel bad about not wanting to stuff myself into Lafayette Sq with a hojillion other people. Indigenous, the opener on 4 Sept, is an exceptional blues band, so give them a listen [46.9MB, AAC]. We once roadtripped to Erie PA to see them play at some crappy dive bar, and it was well worth the drive.

Here's another math design I did a little while ago in Photoshop, just a real classy muted houndstooth. It blew my mind when I discovered that houndstooth wasn't a doodle, but rather a plaid made up of diagonal stripes that coincidentally made a doodle at the intersections [which is also why it's slightly asymmetric]. Stare into the plaid...


This is my current desktop pattern. Not because I especially like the pattern, but because I hate desktop patterns and this one's easier to ignore than it is to pay attention to. I first tried the traditional black & white houndstooth for about four seconds before my eyeballs popped out of my head.

- Z
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Permalink: burly_naked_men_singing.html
Words: 440
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: art

05/15/08 07:49 - 59ºF - ID#44353

i've never needed myspace before

My job is programming. My hobby is also programming. This means that my hobby really isn't much of an escape. I also enjoy creating art, but my capabilities at illustration are uniquely terrible. [When trying to explain a ratchet-type jar opener of my mother's I ended up with a drawing of mating brontosaurs.] So lately I've been unwinding by creating [bad] mathematical illustrations in Illustrator. Usually I'll spend a couple hours working on an illustration and, when I see how it's going to turn out, not-save the file, because who cares? But my latest invention deserves more. It deserves to be on the Internet.

I decided to use my powers for evil this time. I have scientifically produced the ugliest web page backgrounds possible. And then I created an animated one, which is just totally unnecessary. Now that I've done it, I think the only place it would belong is MySpace.


background: #00f url('f00.png') repeat-x;

Each image is a gradient from one fully-saturated 'web-safe' color to another fully-saturated 'web-safe' color, 120 degrees clockwise around the color wheel [ie, rotate the RGB hex digits to the left]. It is represented with a 0.72lpi halftone screen [ie, each dot area is 100px across]. For each image, there is also a third complimentary color 120 degrees counterclockwise from the primary color [ie, rotate the RGB hex digits to the right], which can be used in the foreground design. The animated version starts at red/blue and proceeds counterclockwise around the color wheel. They are intended to be tiled horizontally, and take up 600px of vertical space.

- Z

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Permalink: i_ve_never_needed_myspace_before.html
Words: 281
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: scajaquada

05/12/08 10:17 - 47ºF - ID#44316

scajaquada creek backwash

My extremely short attention span had long since turned away from splashing around in the sewers (e:zobar,44012). Damn you, Internet!!

I read your message about Scajaquada Creek and wanted to send a quick message. My husband and I explored a good 1.5 miles through the tunnel today. It is pretty interesting in there. My email is [removed] if you are interested in talking about our adventure.

Oh weird. Did you get pictures? Which side did you enter from? And how deep is the water in the tunnel? [If I go, do I wear hip-waders or shit-kickers?]

I haven't gotten out there yet but my curiosity is weirdly piqued. I'm amazed at how little information is available about the creek, especially considering its location, the huge scope of the tunnel project, and that the whole thing is just a disaster of environmental management.

We actually do a sport called geocaching and we placed a cache in the tunnel. We went in through Forest Lawn. On Friday we hiked about 1 mile and then went back Sunday and went about 1.5 miles.

When first heading out Friday we assumed rubber boats that went to about our knees would be good. We were wrong and I got soaked. Basically when first entering the tunnel, it is mostly shallow...ankle deep. Back in about 2 or 3 hundred feet is a big grate that lloks like it used to be used to filter out large objects. You have to walk around that and right after that the water gets up to knee deep. We wanted to explore so badly that we ran back out and got hip waders. The water only satsy knee deep for about 50 or 60 feet and then from there on out it is 1/2 inch deep to ankle deep at most.

There are several off shoots of drainage tunnels and easily hours of exploration. The smell is manageable and really the water doesn't seem all that bad. I loved it. There are a few man-holes that allow some light, but for the most part it is really dark. My pictures are far from good. I can send you a few when I get home from work.

Biggest thing, obviously don't go alone. It is a little slippery and there are a few places where you could trip and really get hurt. Anything else I can answer let me know.

If you do go and want any company, let me know. If you go in about a mile, you'll find our geocache out in the open.

Huh, thanks for the info. If I get together a spelunking expedition I'll keep you posted.

Some more scraps of information that I've collected: the tunnel used to be an outlet for Buffalo and Cheektowaga storm drains; Buffalo has since diverted them but Cheektowaga hasn't. And as I was driving down the street one day it occurred to me that when the creek crosses Main St, it flows under the street and over the subway. Krazy.

- Z
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Permalink: scajaquada_creek_backwash.html
Words: 506
Location: Buffalo, NY

04/26/08 08:39 - 50ºF - ID#44159

next hepisode

next episode: gaydar, which was really sort of a rubbish post about finding gay bars with extraordinary accuracy but not being able to realize it despite the leopard print wallpaper and portraits of drag queens on the walls
and after that: getting drunk with a Scotsman who was a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of England, and who also worked on the ill-fated Kerry campaign but was somewhat apologetic about it, who was really quite fascinating but you sort of had to be there.

- Z
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Permalink: next_hepisode.html
Words: 87
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: london

04/24/08 05:22 - 68ºF - ID#44128

london, part 3: bustin up the place

I am once again sitting in my hotel room and writing on the interblogs while I wait for (e:dragonlady7) to get back from practice with the London Rollergirls. I've just been on a very, very long walk on my own so I'm enjoying some tea and Jaffa cakes while my feet go on strike for a little bit.

[Regent's Park, by the way, is enormous. It is so large that if Regent's Park were a meatball, Queen Mary's Garden would be a complete hard-boiled-egg park inside of it, an entire snack in its own right but in this case used merely as a filling. ]

London is a very expensive place, so we are staying at a sort-of discount hotel. It's nothing as terrible as the Blue Dolphin - the room is clean, the proprietors are friendly, and we have our own bathroom. They're not charging L150/night largely due to our location [a half-mile from the tube], the size of our room [large enough to fit a queen-size bed with enough room left over for a teapot], and the fact that our gigantic ground-floor window brings us all the light and traffic noise of midday conveniently throughout the night. Still, it's much better than it could be, and far better than I was expecting.

Our first night we got in at 12:30, stinking like travel, only to discover we'd been shorted some [ok, all] towels. B used her t-shirt; I used the bathmat. The next morning, there was some discussion: does L70 a night even get us towels?

And then there was the slight problem that B broke our bed doing nothing acrobatic I promise. There is a little ledge that runs around the inside of the bed frame, which holds up a piece of plywood, which holds up the mattress [which, for all intents and purposes, is yet another piece of plywood]. The ledge at the foot of the bed broke off, so that if you sat at the foot and put just the right amount of weight in just the right place, the head of the mattress would flip up [I told you it was firm].

Which brings us to the proprietors. They remind me in many ways of a few Upstanding Businessmen I knew in New Jersey - polite enough, but with the kind of thick, indistinguishable accent that says 'please don't fuck with me because you can't even imagine what we're fronting here.' And here we were, complaining about towels that were Mysteriously Missing and the bed we totally busted.

When we brought the manager over to our room, we found that in our absence the maid had given us towels [probably reporting us to the klepto police] and removed the broken bed piece [probably reporting us to the sex maniac police]. Despite thinking we're total dipwads, the manager sent some people in to fix the bed, and everything's all smoothed over.

At least I thought it was. When I came back from my walk I swear I heard him mutter under his breath: 'I hate you.'

next episode: gaydar

- Z

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Permalink: london_part_3_bustin_up_the_place.html
Words: 532
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: a series of tubes

04/23/08 08:19 - 57ºF - ID#44118

london, part 2: london is weird

It is, in fact, a series of tubes. We landed in the UK around 9.15p; it wasn't until about midnight before we finally emerged from the ant farm. Heathrow was probably very conveniently laid-out at one time, with the arrivals and baggage claim on the same side of the airport. However it is also enormous, and Customs ended up on the other side of the airport. So it's a quarter-mile walk through a long tube to Customs, a long stand in a Queue, and then a quarter-mile walk back to your baggage - where it's no longer riding around on the carousel but rather scattered around on the floor.

Then there's another quarter-mile of tubes to get to the Tube-tube. There is one train that goes from Heathrow; its ultimate destination is something called Cockfosters, or Cockfester or Cockgobbler, depending on whether you ask me, (e:dragonlady7), or a sane person [irrespectively]. We think we are hilarious; others on the train not so much.

There are many really drunk people who inhabit the Tube-tube. Some were trying to get a picture with a maintenance man. Another was rushed out of the train and horked all over the wall as we pulled away. I'm told this is a popular hobby. [Binge drinking, that is; not horking.]

There was, I should mention for completeness, another very long tube in the station where we made our transfer.

When we finally emerged in Camden Town, there were over a half-dozen unlicensed cab drivers who were either extremely helpful people or who think "dragging 100lbs of luggage through Camden at midnight" means "rube." There is, for future reference, a difference between foolish [which we are] and stupid [which we are not]. Turns out unlicensed cab drivers are responsible for about ten rapes a month in London? What the Hell kind of weird scam is that?

After we finally found our hotel a couple miles up the road and checked in, we went back to a Tesco Express and housed a couple mediocre sandwiches, some Fanta, and a couple Jaffa cakes. Jaffa cakes are delicious. [You can get them at Premier, where they seem overpriced for what they are. You can reassure yourself that they seem overpriced for what they are over here, too.]

With our long day behind us, we zonked the fuck out. It was 8pm EDT. I woke up at 9am this morning, or 4am EDT.

This morning we decided to call up (e:dragonlady7)'s friend and drop in. We went out for a Full English Breakfast [for dinner, which was actually lunch] at a small diner. There was an egg, which was not cooked 'hard' or 'soft,' but simply 'as long as everything else.' There was a sausage, which was tasty but which didn't have the texture of something that was all meat. There was a Fried Slice - I was hoping for something along the lines of Ham but it turned out to be more like Bread. They made fun of me for ordering it, but it was the come-from-behind winner in the English Dinner-Lunch-Breakfast. There were mushrooms, which were palatable and sort of flavorless in the way that mushrooms are. There were baked beans, which I have to admit were kind of a Dadaist touch to an otherwise normal-looking breakfast meal. There was also a little square of Bubble and Squeak, which was kind of tasteless mashed potatoes with some Green stirred in and fried.

I was not brave enough to order the one with the black pudding, but I was allowed to try a bite of someone else's. Look, people: it is an object that looks like a cookie but is made out of blood. That is a seriously fucked-up thing to do, ok? If I tell you how delicious it was I might as well just give H.P. Lovecraft a little paper hat and a job at Denny's.

I'm getting tired now so I'll finish with one more item: there is no trapeze at Oxford Circus but if there were it would be insane.

And now I'm finishing up a cup of tea I made myself in the dark. It tastes more like soap than anything else so I'm going to block it out of my mind until tomorrow morning.

- Z

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Permalink: london_part_2_london_is_weird.html
Words: 726
Location: Buffalo, NY

04/23/08 04:36 - 58ºF - ID#44111 pmobl


it's a series of tubes.

- Z
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Permalink: london_.html
Words: 7
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: food

04/18/08 11:24 - 64ºF - ID#44048


So it turns out that we're going to London next week [I guess this wasn't actually likely?] and I've been quietly stressing out about weird things. I'm not worried about the standard things, like whether the luggage handlers are going to shred my favorite angora sweater and route it to darkest Canada. No, I'm weirding out about culture shock.

I had a nightmare this week that I couldn't understand a word anybody said. I would ask people to repeat themselves three or four times until they thought I was making fun of them. I'm actually seriously worried about the language barrier.

But what really concerns me is the food. (e:dragonlady7) tried explaining this to me, we'll see if I got it right. First you've got Breakfast, which is actually breakfast. But then you've got Dinner, which is actually lunch. And then you've got Supper, which is actually dinner. And then you've got Tea, which is actually snacks. Tea [the beverage] is not just served at Tea [the meal], but at every meal and in fact sort of in a constant stream, right into your face.


I think we're going to try to stay at a B&B. The thing is, you wake up in the morning, you don't want to go wandering around the city looking for breakfast. You don't really want to go any further than 'downstairs.' And I know innkeepers aren't exactly gourmet chefs, but I've always considered breakfast as something you can't screw up that badly. But then (e:dragonlady7) makes an offhand comment: 'English full breakfast is kind of weird...' What.

Breakfast, courtesy of Wikipedia

So let's take a look at this thing. First we got some bacon in the middle, perhaps a little undercooked but it's definitely something we can work with. We got some scrambled eggs up front, ok. Some hash brown patties over there. I'm a hash brown fan, and those look pretty well-fried. We're doing good so far. Got half a plum tomato, not sure what that's doing there, but we'll push that off to (e:dragonlady7)'s plate & maybe she won't notice. Got some canned mushrooms. I gotta say, I didn't see that one coming. I'm a mushroom man, I've probably even had some at breakfast maybe buried in a Denver omelette or something. But just on their own like that, I dunno, it's a little much. And over here we got uh, baked beans? Yeah, baked beans. Maybe they go with the mushrooms. I guess we'll try stirring those up a little bit, maybe see if it makes a little more sense that way. No, guess not. And oh my God what the fuck is that? Thank you for going Jack the Ripper all over my breakfast perhaps we will move on to dessert now OK.


I'm going to pass on the obvious jokes to make a serious point here: these two words do not belong together, least of all in the context of dessert. Let's move onto snacks.


This right here is everything that terrifies me about British cuisine. Wish me luck.

- Z

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Permalink: challenging.html
Words: 551
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: scajaquada

04/14/08 10:34 - 40ºF - ID#44012

weird preoccupation

I am totally fascinated by the Scajaquada Creek. It empties into the Black Rock Canal at Squaw Island; if you were an insane person with a canoe [and no sense of smell] going upstream along the creek , you'd pass through Black Rock and North Buffalo before reaching the reflecting pool at the Historic Society and Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park. This is all very familiar due to the eponymous expressway and bike path. Were you to go upriver from Hoyt Lake you'd pass under Delaware Ave and into Forest Lawn Cemetery. The creek ends in a culvert at Main St near Delavan, but um, there's nothing on the other side.

That's when it gets fascinating. Between 1921 and 1937 the Scajaquada Creek was buried in an enormous 3.5 mile long tunnel from Main St & Delavan Ave all the way out to Cheektowaga, where it emerges at Pine Ridge Rd near Walden Ave. The city has been built up so densely since then that looking at satellite photos it's extremely difficult to tell where the creek goes. Current government maps don't show the river at all, or show it as a straight line between the two points. There's very little mention of the project or the tunnel anywhere online. For all intents and purposes, there is a 3.5 mile section of the creek that just doesn't exist anymore. If you continued upstream, you'd be outside for less than two miles before you found yourself underneath the Galleria Mall. USGS lists the creek's source as some subdivision in Lancaster, 13 miles east of the Niagara River.

In researching the creek, I dug up a scan of a 1901 USGS map of the Buffalo area and pastede it onto Google Earth, which is fascinating in its own right [18.7M]. [Use Google Earth's opacity slider to time-warp 107 years.]

It's going to be tough to keep myself from urban-spelunking it this summer. Gross.

- Z

ps for those of you who give a shit: the creek goes underneath the Canisius athletic complex, and underneath Florida St. It then turns south underneath a footpath, underneath the Kensington Expressway, and along the path to Fillmore Ave. From there it goes between an industrial complex and a railroad before continuing along the appropriately-named Scajaquada Street. At Bailey Avenue, it no longer follows the street, instead going behind a row of backyards, crossing Genesee St at Kearns Ave. It flows underneath Schiller Park and Villa Maria College before emerging again at Pine Ridge Road.

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Permalink: weird_preoccupation.html
Words: 442
Location: Buffalo, NY

Category: wrestling

04/13/08 12:55 - 39ºF - ID#43999

the sports report

So basically amateur pro wrestling is fun as hell. I had a blast but I think I ended up rooting for the wrong people most of the time. We had to leave early for a party, but we stayed long enough to see (e:dragonlady7)'s former coworker Pepper Parks - who had some really good moves and knew how to work the crowd - get smacked around by 'Mastiff' Will Christensen, who mostly glowered and blew his nose on people. There were a couple really lopsided matches in the first half ... I was totally impressed by Gabe Saint but he lost to Stargazer, who as far as I can tell spent his entire time in the ring getting pounded. Dunn & Marcos were pretty evenly matched with Rhythm & Booze, but R&B's dirty tricks were totally lame, and Marcos had these weird Miami-teal pants which I could not abide. I think R&B won, but D&M's ring girl [?], whose name I did not catch, and who is way foxy, totally stole the show. After R&B brought her into the ring by her hair [i mean seriously come on people] she took a flying leap off D&M's shoulders and took them both out. Somebody get her number, she's derby material.

There were some improvised halftime theatrics wherein Blackjack [I'm not sure whether he's Good or Bad but he's a totally nice guy out of the ring] vowed to "manage" the Suicidal Saucies at the next QCRG bout and Colonel Johnny Kayfabe "took over" the Nickel City Knockouts - SEE YOU MAY THIRD NORTH TONAWANDA!!! - but later on Blackjack sort of said yeah um I don't actually know anything about roller derby and the Knockouts said that's ok we're not even playing on the third.

NWA Empire - their next match is on June 21.

- Z

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Permalink: the_sports_report.html
Words: 303
Location: Buffalo, NY



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