Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's time to choose our words carefully

No... Republicans are not Nazis or Fascists... this article brings up a really good point:

http://www.brainshrub.com/republicans-not-nazis

The word Nazi has become synonomous with unseemly terms like bastard, tosser, wanker... etc. It's probably better to come up with concrete reasons why you are comparing anyone to a Nazi. Contrary to what the article above notes, and maybe it's all the bad press that the look has garnered over they years, but I don't think the Nazis were 'snazzy' dressers. Think about it, as a comedian once said years ago... Hitler really put a damper the popularity of rectangular mustaches.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Patch of blue sky

The clouds have cleared so that there are patches of blue in the sky. That's odd in the land where mold is the state flower and people don't carry umbrellas because they think... what's the point? But my moods are somewhat dark today anyway, because of the state of fear are living in lately. I start to think... Historians must be fairly patient people (the ones who uphold the truth at least). Because as long as they live long enough to see the gamut of human political experiments in their lifetimes, and to see the pendulum of progress swing back and forth the only constant that they can be sure of is that people don't really pay heed to history or to the historians for that matter.

Will the Fear of Googling grow prevalent? I think it was not more than a year ago and on this blog even that I noted how wonderful it was to have the internet... because it allowed us easier access to tools of knowledge, and on a very simplistic level it's was like a genie of questions and answers. Why should I even be careful not to say the wrong things here? Am vulnerable? But what are the wrong things? Who determines what is wrong? And just exactly how important am I? I'm but one person. What about the billions of others who are capable of clear and lucid thought?

I must not be the only individual who is concerned about such things because if you look at the most searched/link to news stories on Google they are the stories which relate to the items the Google and NSA stories rise to the top of the pile. Isn't it a coincidence to that in the last few years more people have resorted to finding their news on the internet rather than relying on television and newspapers? At least on the internet you have a choice. Access to information (at least in most countries) is not restricted. If you don't trust your local news agency or the television you can search for news online. You may have to sift through information to find the stuff that does not have it's integrity compromised but at least you have the ability to sift and choose.

So what happens when people fear? What happens when information is restricted? What happens when people must fear situations which put them in contact with foreign contacts? What happens when property rights have become challenged or denegrated so that it's easy for any system in power to confiscate it if given 'ample' cause? What happens when people can be classified as sub-citizens?

What happens? Progress stops...and the position and rights of the people as a whole become compromised.

At these times it is the people (the very group which these so called freedom restricting measures are designed to 'protect') who become the weak and the helpless victims of the state. While there may be threats to our national security, then perhaps we as people should be more vigilant about what truly effective measures should be taken to put an end to these threats. These threats should be pursued and allayed.

I believe in the greatness of this country. And we achieved this greatness because we as a nation embraced and protected freedoms on all levels. I think it rather ironic that the same people who tout the phrase 'freedom isn't free,' are readily willing to relinquish their own freedom because they are convinced that they themselves could never be seen as a threat. Somehow I fear that when people start resorting to such thoughts a frenzy of blame and persecution lies just beyond the horizon of the present.


“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”—Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oh My God... I need to stab myself with a fork

I hate night time meetings.
More, I hate night time meetings where people are yelling at each other.
I'm sitting in a product design meeting...they're arguing about customizations to SAP.
These meetings are painful.

Besides this... I've decided to take some time to developing training material for something I find interesting, and a product that I respect and believe in. Could it be Blender?

http://blender.org/cms/Home.2.0.html

J. has been using a new opensource product for 3D modeling called Blender. Blender as a product intrigues me because it is one of those fabled 'open source' products. Coming from an industry where tool development is not so focused on quality of design as producing results for time to market... it's really nice to see a tool that has been developed by people who are passionate about the tool and care about the quality. So I'm intrigued.

There are plenty of tutorials being created for Blender, but I want to take some time to explore the tool and also understand it's benefits/uses from the viewpoint of the users. So I've got to set some time limits for me otherwise I'll just let this project sit out there without acting on it. So I've decided that I'll finish the exploration of the product and some initial analysis for training/tutorial opportunities by the end of the month.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Saturday procrastination... Oh Yeah, I'm a Bride!

Or I will be...

It's Saturday and I have to shoot a bunch of simulation movies in Captivate and edit a few audio presentations because I have to... I know it's Saturday and I shouldn't be working. So I've been surfing the net here for about two hours.

On sort of a side note... we're getting married. I mean my Boyfriend and I. Everytime I use that word I always think of the Frau Blucher character from Young Frankenstein. "Yes, Yes... Say IT!!!... he's my......BOYFRIEND!!!"

No, I'm not pregnant.

We considered running away to Vegas. I especially considered it after looking through the Bridal Planners at Barnes and Noble... Holy FUcking SHIT! WHAT IS ALL THIS CRAP!!!!!

My mother convinced me to go with herand my friend to the Bridal Show, and I went reluctantly.

"You really need to go to eliminate the possibilities," she counseled.

Well, after seeing it all. I've eliminated about 99.6% of what I saw at the show. The best thing about these shows really are the cake samples. I went with a girlfriend of mine from work and whispered to her... "Holy Smokes... look at all the chicks that looked like they're not even 20!" I felt like such an old tart compared to them. Then I considered the tens of thousands of dollars some of them (or their parents more likely) would shell out for their weddings. I personally knew of someone whose family spent about forty-five thousand dollars, and then she got divorced two years later. "Save it for round two," I thought. "You're just going to waste it on an asshole the first time around. " Not that it always has to end up that way... Hell, I really didn't know what I wanted when I was 19.

I started keeping a blog about our ideas for the wedding. It's sort of a record for myself as well as a place to write down observations about the process.

http://marrysheesh.blogspot.com/




Friday, January 20, 2006

Long live the geek in all of us... Go Densha Otaku!




More on Densha Otaku

I never considered myself the kind of person who develops obsessions... other than knitting and maybe reading on history/philosopy... but Densha Otaku has now officially become the first obsession of the year. Maybe I relate to the drama because there's a big part of me who's pretty much an Otaku nerd myself.

It's really easy to route for hero 'little Densha/aka. Yamada-san,' as well as laugh vengefully when Densha's more attractive, well-off and socially acceptable rival get's dissed by the girl.
But what I've really fallen in love with when it comes to this story is simply the idea that you can thrive with self-confidence by simply accepting yourself as you are, and that you're more likely to find better friends and partners once you've embraced this concept. As one character asks... "What about otaku pride!?"

One thing I will caution viewers about with this story... watching just one show can be mentally/emotionally taxing mainly because you're held at the edge of your seat... that and Densha/Yamada's over-the-top reactions can add to the stress of the viewing experience.

What does seem clear is that this internet pygmallion story does seem to have captured the whole heart and attention of japan. Apparently based on a real life thread on a chat section, the posting room became so popular that the text of the site was compiled and published and a few hundered thousand copies were sold in the next few weeks. The story has inspired numerous manga, the T.V. Series, a movie and even a play.

What does this say about modern relationships and how people reach out to each other?Apparently technology does fill a void. At least in Japan. Without the help of his Aladdin chat comrades, Densha would never have been able to muster up the courage to change himself, while looking inside of himself to see what was undeniably him and perhaps the qualities that really did make him attractive. Strangely, anominity available in the chat atmosphere might inspire people like the characters in the show to be more honest and forthcoming. Don't get me wrong, I'm not dissing the whole idea of having friends online. I can see the appeal, but believe that it's still good to keep lines out in the real world.

Funny how I as I watch this show, I keep thinking in horror that Disney will buy the story and convert it to some crappy 4th rate plot with moralistic overtones featuring the Olsen twins. God no! I hate how American corporate entertainment culture takes a good story and absolutely ruins it. They must be stopped!

P.S. you may recognize the ELO soundtrack/anime theme opening from the revolutionary Daikon reels from early Anime history.

More about the show:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Densha_Otoko


Article on a play based on the story...
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ft20050907a1.htm
Recently, there has been a sense of stagnation in the Japanese contemporary drama world following a period of lively international collaboration -- the wholesale acceptance of foreign texts has led to adaptations that don't take into consideration the real difficulties in translating them for a Japanese audience. But this "Densha Otoko" is proof indeed that there are still people here with plenty to say -- in marvelously creative ways -- about the society in which we live.

Known for his varied multimedia works, Tsutsumi builds a huge screen as a backdrop, with multilevel towers to either side of the stage, where otaku sit in front of PC screens in their four-tatami rooms. As each of these geeks communicates with the others, what they type comes up on the big screen, where their lives are also described as they themselves act out their roles.


From Japan Times:
http://www.japantimes.com/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?ek20041118br.htm

A new best seller has appeared, bringing an old-fashioned love story into the digital age. "Densha Otoko (Trainman)," whose author writes under the pseudonym Nakano Hitori, is the saga of the romance of a 22-year-old otaku, the "Trainman," with "Miss Hermes," an attractive young woman he saves from the unwelcome attentions of a drunk on a train on his way home from Akihabara (Tokyo's otaku Mecca).
This story first came to public attention as postings from March through May this year on a message board on the Web site 2 Channel (Nichanneru) in which Trainman asked for and received advice from fellow geeks on how to approach Miss Hermes. These postings from Trainman reporting on the progress of his new relationship, and of encouragement from hundreds of anonymous well-wishers, were published in book-form by Shinchosha last month, selling over 260,000 copies in three weeks.
The tale of Trainman's transformation from a hapless geek to a self-confident young man in a relationship with an actual real-life young woman is indeed heartwarming. In his first posting he tells of his chance encounter in the train; two days later he receives a set of Hermes teacups from her as a thank-you gift and obsesses online on whether or not to telephone her and ask for a date. Finally he plucks up the courage to call her and they agree to meet for dinner -- his first ever date with a woman.


Blog about otaku-ness:
http://www.cjas.org/~leng/lainspotting/2005/07/otaku-mania.html

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

His mother is representing him in his next performance review

I thought it was a joke when I read a reference to this item in a professional journal, but a friend of mine brought this up from another article he had read.... WTF! Grow some balls. I can only hope that this is an urban myth. What kind of pride to you have if you allow you mother to defend you at your rating session.

I couldn't believe this, so I had to google it.

http://blog.fastcompany.com/archives/2005/10/12/this_is_your_new_workforce_gen_y.html

So it is true, but what gets me is that business are encouraged to "deal" with it. One company even had to arrange a 'sit down' between johnny, mom, the boss, and an H.R. representative. Now who needs to grow a set of chungas?

That's the bad side. On the otherside, this generation can appear to be highly optimistic and idealistic. They have high expectations of their places of employement and their role in things. I see this as a good thing. Though as always, I would temper optimism with some caution. Have a positive outlook and always strive for quality, but always have a plan just in case something doesn't go your way.

http://www.generationsatwork.com/articles/millenials.htm

Friday, January 13, 2006

My favorite TV shows for now


Casanova
... Heath Ledger and that chick that's sleeping with Jude Law... no I'm not talking about the movie version, but the one that was on BBC3. Besides the movie was probably part of Ledger's post-Brokeback Mountain campaign to reassert his hetero-ness.

More on

Friday, January 06, 2006

Okay I feel stupid

Looks like it was still there. I just typed the address in wrong. I was ranting and raving for nothing. This seems like a technique used by other companies. I remember my brother saying once there was a domain name called amazom.com with the misspelling because the company assumed that there would be enough people who would get to the site because of mistyping... must be the same thing placed here.

Still... that's a pretty devious trick.

Oh Crafster, where art thou?!!!

I just went onto Crafster.org to discover that it was replaced by a bunch of crappy ads. Does anyone know where the original Craftster site went or is it just gone... Poof!

Why, God, why? Why do you give us a place like the internet where ideas can be shared and we can learn so much, then you send the nasty capitalists and copyrighters who take the ability to share knowledge freely away.

Will we be sent back to the dark ages again?... though in a way I sort of miss going to the library to leaf through books and search through articles. For my parents (and obviously this will give away my age range because I grew up right on the edge of an era where parents were not afraid to leave their children in public places)... the library was a cheaper alternative to a baby sitter. I used to spend hours in the library rifling through books, reading... Looking up answers to questions I had on things I was fascinated with from Baba Yaga to cooking walnut pastries to the Loch Ness Monster and mummified remains ( I was a big fan of In Search Of- with Leonard Nimoy...okay, so that dates me again). I remember often getting stuck in a section and reading through books on the Dogon Star and the Dogon people.

But where is our beloved Craftster? Does anyone know... or is there another alternative? If I wasn't so doggone busy I'd start one myself.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Who put the Swiss into Steak?

I recently developed this obsession with Swiss steak. Maybe it's because I was rifling through someone elses cookbook on Christmas morning and the recipe caught my eye. Maybe it's because I remember it was one of the dishes prepared by one of the sisters in that movie A Thousand Acres. Sort of a disturbing post-modern version of King Lear set in the American Heartland... except in this story King Lear screws his daughters. Yes... disturbing to say the least.

Maybe that's why I don't like Swiss Steak, but more likely, every time I was exposed to it at school potlucks or block parties it was always the version made with Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup. Now, I'm not necessarily dissing canned soup. I'd eat it if I was stuck at home during a natural disaster for months under a quarantine, and it was the last can of food in my cupboard. I'd rather eat fresh durian or braving the stench of the freshly peeled fruit just to get a bit of the sweet tender fruit. It's no wonder that some hotels in Asia forbid you from taking the fruit up to your room. Though honestly, I should really give Swiss steak a better break. I found a recipe below which uses mushrooms and tomatoes instead of mushroom and cream gravy. It sounds very much like a recipe for flank steak I remember enjoying as a child.



SWISS STEAK


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Swiss steak is a method of preparing meat, usually beef, by means of rolling or pounding, and then braising in a cooking pot, either on a stove (cooker) or in an oven. The name does not refer to Switzerland, but instead to the process of "swissing", which refers to fabric or other materials being pounded or run through rollers in order to soften it. Swiss steak is typically made from relatively tough cuts of meat, such as the round, which have been pounded with a tenderizing hammer, or run through a set of bladed rollers to produce so-called "cube steak". The meat is typically coated with flour and other seasonings and served with a thick gravy.

These Swiss steak recipes call for them to be baked in the oven, but you can
also prepare them in the above mentioned ways.



For the first recipe you will need the following ingredients:


* a covered baking dish,

* 2 pounds of steak,

* salt, pepper,

* garlic powder,

* 1 onion sliced,

* 4 ounce can of drained mushrooms, and

* 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce.


The first step is to cut your steak into serving sizes, season the steaks
with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.



Place the steak into a baking dish top with the onion slice.



Now, pour the mushrooms and tomato sauce on top. Kind of level the
ingredients and bake covered for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees. This recipe can also
be prepared on top of the stove just as easy. Just remember to check on it and
be sure that the liquid is not evaporating.



You can always add just a bit more tomato sauce or even a small amount of water
if needed.