Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Boston Tea Party's Legacy

Well after a few days of mourning we made a decision. First let me back up. As I mentioned before, our computer died. We'd been talking about a Mac for awhile. Wife's hesitancy was that once we buy a mac we'd have to "get all kinds of robes and lotions and we'd have to get thick carpeting and weirdo lighting. We'd have to get new friends. We'd have to get mac friends." Or maybe Seinfeld said that.

The point is that for a variety of reasons, not least of which is price, we've postponed our foray into true yuppiedom and stuck with a PC. My work contact at Dell was even nice enough to express ship it to me so that it only took three days to get here. Coupled with the fact that our friends Matt and Rhianna put up with us for a full night while he saved our hard drive everything is xp-tastic here at UsAndCats. I'm just looking forward to building a gaming machine with Matt one of these days....I'm a geek as the quiz below showed.

83% Geek

While I may be a geek I need proper geek fuel. But I get ahead of myself. As we get into the patriotic season for Americans everywhere, Memorial Day just passed and Independence Day is fast approaching, I thought it important to kick off the season right with a little history lesson.

Yes I know you hate these kinds of posts. Your dislike stems mostly because they're long and rambling and nonsensical...actually if you hated those kinds of posts you wouldn't read this blog.

I cannot help but rejoice in the acts of my patriotic ancestors; my literal ancestors were still for the most back in the old countries. In the mid-1770s the English colonists of the great city of Boston (Go Sox!) decided they'd had enough. Their yearning for freedom to wear big belt buckles and glut themselves on turkey the third Thursday of every November had led themselves to this promised land. Here the rivers ran of honey and delectable animals of the New World forests would veritably throw themselves down the settler's throats they were so easy to catch and eat. It was Eden, Nirvana, Shangri-La.

And of course the English ruined it. It wasn't the taxes that the Bostonians disliked, in fact they love taxes to this day. In fact it was something much simpler but more important. It was that the British ruined this fair land with an insipid grey liquid that they required all Charles River residents to drink every afternoon. Faced with the prospect of drinking the flavor equivalent of used bathwater each noon, the residents rebelled, hurling the filthy stuff into the harbor (interestingly it still hasn't recovered from this early pollution) and drove the British out of the New World.

Because of the noble actions of these patriots today we have the great joy of drinking what can only be described as the height of soft drink engineering....

three new flavors of Mountain Dew! MMMM....Geek Fuel!

Okay this whole post was to tease our European Mt. Dew junkies about not being able to drink these new sodas. Sorry guys. Even worse than this post is that we did actually buy all four of these Mt. Dews, my teeth feel like they're rotting as I type.

And now for something completely Canadian...and pertinent.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Wrath of the Computer Gods

So I have quite a few posts to catch up on, but I wanted to update you all on why I'm posting from an Ubuntu computer that I stole from work (I didn't really steal it, it was going to be thrown out. I kind of rescued it. And then the machinist and I started experimenting with it and various Linux distros, but I digress.). I write from this computer because our old trusty HP a642n is DEAD! (cue dramatic music).

Now there's a lot of irony with this. For awhile now I've been contemplating buying one of those external hard drives. Finally I found a deal that tickled my fancy at Office Max. Bringing it home I decided this would be a good opportunity to clean my office. It, my office, usually lies in a state of constant disarray, with empty Mountain Dew bottles strewn like flotsam from a flood. Anyway, I disassembled my computer, swept, mopped, and tried unsuccessfully to repair a dead flat panel monitor that I've had for awhile. Once done I went to set my computer back up. I had a bit of trouble with the power strip but didn't think much of it.

Getting everything set back up, I plugged in my computer and went to turn it on to feed my addiction...and nothing. I unplugged it and tried a different outlet....nothing. I noticed when it was plugged in, that the little LED in the back was blinking. I plugged in my trusty old Ubuntu to find out what that meant. It seems that indicates some defective hardware. Now we were in the fun-zone, I could troubleshoot to find out what was dead. I unplugged the power supply to see if it was the power supply that's fried (this was my first and hopeful suspect)...nope the power supply was fine. Next I unplugged the drives. Nope they were good too. Now my two least favorite options remained. The hard disk and the mother board.

If the hard disk was bad than all of our photos, all of our documents, and music (not to mention our forth-coming self-help book "Our Children Won't be Like That: A childless couple's guide to parenthood" (all rights reserved)) would be lost. Not to mention that it would be terribly ironic to have bought an external hard drive to back all those things up and to have fried the hard disk while getting ready to do so. That said the Computer Gods had some pity on me. For it wasn't the hard disk, but the motherboard that was dead. Hurray?

And so we're left with a problem I didn't want. Do I buy a new mother board for a 5 year old computer? Do we update our computer with a 7-year old, but still solid, operating system in Windows XP? Do we brave all of the problems with Windows Vista? Do I embrace my inner nerd to the max and make Wife use a Linux box? or Do I simply go Mac?

Ah the conundrums. I guess the moral of the story is this: Beware of the irony and computer gods getting together, or your motherboard too will get fried at the least opportune time.

We'll miss you our old friend.

HP a642n

Since the Ubuntu doesn't have any internal speakers and I'm too lazy to hook up our old system here's my muxtape, where's yours?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The First Church of the Internet

Each morning bleary eyed I arise from my stupor. Each morning I stumble out of bed, invariably kicking my shoes, my cats, my door jam. Each morning Wife and I communicate in grunts. "Ungh" I say with all of the love of the mute that I am. "Ungh" is the grumpy reply.

Wandering through the house trying to focus my myopic eyes I hope that the glass that I grab for my morning orange juice is clean. I have even more hope and prayers that the container I grab from the fridge is O.J. and not chicken broth. Pouring my O-Jo I return to the living quarters. There I set down my O-Jo as a sacrifice and bow myself before my great God, the internet. Thus I begin my day supplicating at the newest idol the earth has seen.

To which prophets of the new computer religion do I adhere you might ask? Well the number of their counting is five.

1...Our blog, just to see if we have friends. We know these exist because we get comments. Evidently we have ten friends.
2...Google Analytics. This way I can see who's stalking us. I know who our friends are based on #1, but I can't for the life of me figure out who our stalkers are from Minnesota. I figure our York, Pa. visits are ex-boyfriends that Wife hasn't told me about.
3...Next I visit my favorite liberally biased news. I need to be told what to think about things that I'm to lazy to research on my own.
4...Google Reader comes next in the pantheon. So that I may see what my friends have posted on their blogs. Also to see if there's anything new on the Fail Blog
5...Lastly I must check the nerd news.

Well now that you know my morning routine here's another 30 rock clip.

And for those not converted to 30 Rock (or out of the States) here's my new favorite Swedish rock band. Yes I know how funny that sounds to our American readers, but seriously this video reminds me of a cross between an Orbit commercial and what an Abba video should have been like. Enjoy Dungen.

Now playing: Editors - Munich
via FoxyTunes

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wait Wait Guess Who Got Tickets

We're liberal elitists. If you didn't get that by our rabid support for Barack Obama, or the fact I flaunted for several weeks our "Post-Graduate" blog rating, or by reading our tag line, I'd be surprised. In fact the only thing that separates us from the cloud of smug that lingers over the dreadlocked, latte sipping, Starbucks crowd is my inability to shake the frugality of my Scottish ancestors. If only I could bring myself to shell out the money for a Prius, than I too could join the ranks of the morally superior and look down my nose at the proletariat from my great and spacious building. (Wow did I just mix scripture and Karl Marx? Dare I insinuate that materialism is the great whore of all the earth? I think I just did! Take that Capitalism.)

Moving along, for which you're undoubtedly grateful, we've developed the following quiz. This way you too can know if you're suffering from a raging case of superioritis. Please note European elitism differs in that you have to be part of the landed aristocracy to truly be an elitist, or just French (kidding there, I love the French even if they did drive my ancestors out of their country).

1. Does NPR constitute the majority of your radio listening? (+1). If you are a member (+3)
2. When you get junk mail does it come from the A. Audubon Society, B. World Wildlife Foundation, C. the Sierra Club? (+1 for each) Do you get junk mail from Greenpeace or Planned Parenthood (+3 for each).
3. Do you compost while living in town? (+2)
4. When you buy a wool sweater does it have to be llama hair? (+2)
5. When you think of a "sexy car" does a Prius come to mind? (+4)

and lastly....

6. Have you ever been to see Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, live? +5

Well we have! Yep that's right we got to see the greatest radio show on earth recorded live at the Proctor's Theatre in Schenectady (10 miles from our house). It was awesome!! Of course making jokes about coming to Albany is like shooting fish in a barrel these days (our governor resigned for soliciting prostitution for those of you not in's ironic because he made his career as a prosecutor fighting, you guessed it, prostitution.). Still listen to this week's show, it's great.

Oh and your score totals: 0-3=The Gestapo did their job well in brainwashing you, 4-8=Get ready for dinner with the Rothschild's this evening, I hope your monocle is polished, 9-13=C'mon make up your mind. You can't be middle of road in these quizes that's just boring, try again. 14-21=Ah now you're in flavor country. Make sure to get out your birkenstocks and hemp pants now that it's spring. I'll see you at the May Day celebration. 22+=Comrade.

And here's a "What if The Shawshank Redemption was a comedy" trailer my buddy Tyler did.

Redeeming Shawshank from Tyler Jacobs on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Icons of an Era

Periodically in American history there are movements that define a generation.

In the early 1800s anti-masonry and the Anti-Mason Party helped alert America to the evils of that band of apron-wearing back-room-deal-making weirdos.

In the 1870s thru the early 1930s it was the Temperance movement. This army of bitter house wives struck a blow for wives everywhere sick of cleaning up their husbands alcohol induced vomit. This poorly aimed vomit proved, coincidently, that one can't puke in a chamber pot when sloshed.

TV forever transformed the homes and communities of America. Instead of meeting at taverns to discuss things while getting hammered, American men now met to watch sports (in which they could not participate because of their ever expanding waste lines due to watching sports instead of playing) while imbibing of the devil's brew. Concurrently with this trend the poodle skirt and leather jacket manufacturers of America created a movement based on bad musicals set in NYC. This proved the first and most important maxim of American manufacturing. "Get kids to want it and they'll pester the parents into buying it". This maxim has effectively created our society of conspicuous consumption.

Fast forward to the 1990s and a new movement appeared. This movement was not only paradoxical in name but represented the apogee of American cultural life. This was the movement of the "do-nothing generation". A generational swath of time wasting, ambitionless people, lazed about the land at Starbucks and Borders, discussing the difficulties of their sex lives and Nietzsche (and hopefully not how the two meshed).

This high point in American society was embodied in the greatest program in television history. Yes, I speak of Seinfeld.

From feeding Beefarino to a Handsome Cab horse, to the Soup Nazi. From stomping on a flaming Puerto Rican flag to getting beat up by a large group of....well queens....for not wearing the AIDS ribbon. Seinfeld encapsulated in a half hour every week the life of every lazy 20-something still living in their parents' basement. Seinfeld was their life story, and thus the greatest of all television series.

And yet....

Dare I suggest it...

Dare I say it....

30 Rock is better!