crocodile, general

(no subject)

Things are well.

Natasha is back from Europe after a three week tour with Oregon Ambassadors of Music, playing wind band music and visiting over 7 countries. Seven plus Liechtenstein. She's now working toward moving out and starting a life in Seattle.

I bought a 2011 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport, which is nice. Handles great, and with a little care to stay on the highway and coast when possible, I can get 32 mpg on my commute (although 26 is more repeatable).

I've been spending time with Magen Gulliford lately, and that is going well also. She's living in Seattle, so there's more than the ideal amount of driving up and down I-5 involved.

Saw Pacific Rim a few weeks back, and thought it to be excellent.

I joined a Crossfit gym, and I'm ramping up the amount of that in my life. It suits me, and I totally get that it wouldn't suit everybody. It's intense, and it leverages my competitiveness to get me to work harder.
drunk, owl

another office dialog

me: every time I see Octar Wolfkiller's name, I think of that old Firesign Theater bit, where Porgy Tirebiter says, "Gee, Dad, no Irishman's gonna stop you from being elected dogkiller this year!"

sigivald: well, except for... John MacMickerson.

me: really? that was the most Irish name you could think of? "John MacMickerson"?

sigivald: um. "Paddy MacO'Brian".

me: MacO'Brian?

sigivald: ok, I'm having an off day.
crocodile, general

original droid phone plus gingerbread roms = good

Background: I have an original (OG) Motorola droid phone (the A855), bought on launch day two years ago. These came with Android 2.0 on them, and over-the-air updates were pushed out by Google / Motorola / Verizon for over a year. Now, new versions of the Android OS are available, and not being pushed to the phones. This post is about installing the new version.

The process:

Get root access to the phone. This is normally done using an app like z4root, but this won't work on the very first batch of A855s. To do the thing, you need to use SuperOneClick on a PC.

install the Java Development Kit (jdk) on your PC
install the Android Development Kit (adk) on your PC
install SuperOneClick
install the Motorola USB drivers for your phone on your PC

set your phone to run non-market applications
turn on USB debugging on your phone

connect the phone via USB
run SuperOneClick and root the phone

Reboot the phone

install RomManager on the phone
in Rom Manager, pick "Download ROM"
scroll down to "Peter Alphonso", then pick "Gingerbread Build GPA16"

once the ROM is downloaded, you can then do 'install rom from sd'.

after some rebooting, your phone will be the phone of the future again. You will have to enter your google account info to load all the apps and settings that are backed up on the cloud.

Once this is complete, you can download SetCPU from the Marketplace, and overclock / underclock your phone for maximum performance and battery life.


cigar notes part 2

the outstanding:

Man O' War - Armada - (6.5 x 56) - brilliant from one end to the other. I literally would take a puff, and think, damn I'm glad I smoke cigars. I got 3 of these from, packed in with the rest of my 'cigar of the month' order. I liked it so well I immediately got online to see about ordering more, and was shocked to find them priced at like $20 a stick. They come in boxes of 32, priced around $500. That is a hell of a thing to pack in as a freebie, but it's awesome marketing. I am going to jealously hoard my remaining two Armadas for special occasions.

Joya de Nicaragua - Dark Corojo Antano
- la pesadilla (4.7 x 60 belicoso) - hell of a name. "Dark Corojo" is the wrapper, sort of a deep reddish-brown. "Antano" means yesteryear, a reference to Joya de Nicaragua's glory days before the communists turned everything to crap. "La Pesadilla" is the name for this particular size, and means "the nightmare" - it's a sort of semi-torpedo shape. There is a secondary band that says "doble fuerte" meaning double strength. DELICIOUS, and got better the more I smoked it. Spicy and peppery and sweet, with enough nicotine to numb the tongue - the overall effect of the complex flavor and slight numbness was strikingly like drinking absinthe. These are fortunately much cheaper than the Armada, not that that's saying much.

the good

La Flor Dominican - Reserva Especial - el jocko (4.5 x54 perfecto) - tasty little thing. Perfectos look like the cigars in old cartoons - kind of zeppelin shaped. This was just the right size, and tasted good, without distracting me with overwhelming awesome like the other cigars I've mentioned here.

Cusano 18 Double Connecticut - toro (6.5 x 46)
Cusano 18 Paired Maduro - toro (6.5 x 46)
Cusano 59 Cameroon - toro (6.5 x 46)

All three of these from the cigar of the month thing. All totally worth the time & effort.

Man O' War Ruination
Man O' War Virtue
Man O' War (just plain man o' war, no other name)

another sampler thing - all three flavors of Man O' War, except the previously mentioned Armada. Of the three, the Ruination is most like unto the Armada, in that it's dark and tasty. The Virtue has the light wrapper and creaminess that I come to associate with Connecticut wrappers. The plain Man O' War didn't strike me as anything special, and I probably won't bother with that one again, but the other two would be worth going back to.

the perfectly acceptable

Nub Plus Habano (5 x 60) - Nub's deal is they make short, thick cigars. This is that same thing, only not as short. They may need aging a bit; I really dug a Nub Habano in a shorter torpedo size, but that one had been stored in an out of the way tobacconist for an unknown time. The couple of these 5x60s I've tried have been merely OK.

La Vieja Habana - totally OK.

Cusano 15th Anniversary - lancero (7 x 40) - ok but not to my taste, maybe? I had high hopes after the double connecticut.

the couldn't finish

Every single 5 Vegas that I tried tasted like licking an ashtray. I also couldn't work through a Cusano Sun Grown LXI, though I tried, given that I liked some of the other Cusanos I got. Other than that, bad cigars don't seem to stick in my mind - there's zero chance of me rushing to a notebook to write down how crappy it was.

basic rider training

friday evening - at pcc sylvania for Team Oregon Basic Rider Training. This first session is 2 hours of classroom time, going over things like what to expect from this course, the parts of the motorcycle, starting procedure, &c.

saturday - 7:30 am - pcc parking lot, get loaner helmet. Learn to ride, starting with starting the bike, walking it forward with the clutch, &c. By the end of the morning we're learning line selection and using countersteer to initiate a lean.

saturday afternoon is another 2 hours of classroom time.

sunday morning - 4 more hours on the range. more on negotiating corners and curves properly, braking in a curve, swerves, weaves, &c. Final hour is spent in testing. Hardest stuff for me: negotiating a tight low-speed corner, and the low-speed offset weave test.

sunday afternoon is an hour of classroom time, largely covering edge cases (animals in the road, impairment issues, &c), and an hour of a multiple-choice test. 50 questions, can't miss more than 10.

At the end of all this, if you did OK on the riding and the written test, you get a card you can take to the DMV to get your motorcycle endorsement. It is also good for a one-time discount at a lot of motorcycle gear shops.


I quit cigarettes a few years back. I had tried cigars several times over my 20 year smoking career, but I couldn't figure out how to NOT inhale. This does not provide the ideal cigar experience. Since quitting cigarettes, I'd been offered cigars by friends and family, and declined on the grounds that I didn't want to trigger the desire for a cigarette.

I have always loved the taste of tobacco. When not smoking cigarettes, when I have a working sense of smell, a unlit pack of Winstons smells like raisins to me. They never taste like that, though.

Pipe smoking is a pain in the ass.

Two weeks ago, I decided to try cigars again. I picked up an Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story, and sat on the back porch reading and puffing. I was careful to not inhale, and it wasn't bad at all. Since then I've tried a half dozen other cigars, trying to find out where my tastes lie. I find that had really missed reading-while-smoking, which was sort of my ground state for most of my life. A properly smoked cigar takes an hour or even two to enjoy, and the satisfaction and flavor persist for many hours more. This is not at all like cigarettes, where I needed one hourly.

These short reviews are more or less in the order I smoked them, and to a great extent they reveal the evolution of my cigar palate rather than any sort of reflection on the quality of the cigars. Cigar sizes are in the standard form, length x diameter in 64ths of an inch. Collapse )
cognitive, hazard

young adult fiction

So, the WSJ puts up an article about young adult fiction (YA). Money quote: “kidnapping and pederasty and incest and brutal beatings are now just part of the run of things in novels directed… at children from the ages of 12 to 18.” Summary: everything in this genre is now bleak and horrible and full of darkness and abuse.

My totally unnecessary take: YA's bleak darkness and abusive horrificness is not anything like new. Plenty of the stuff written for teens as far back as the 70s was full of all that. Chocolate War came out in 1974, and within 10 years you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a YA novel featuring a prostitution / rape / incest / violence / child abuse / awkward sexual experimentation / swinging dead cats. The qualities that people complain about in YA are not only 'not new', they are characteristic of the genre to the point of cliche

Daniel Pinkwater's Young Adult Novel is about a group of high school kids who are writing a parody of YA fiction which they call Kevin Shapiro, Boy Orphan. Their fictional Kevin Shapiro suffers a different degrading and horrible fate in every chapter. I read this when I was about 13, and thought, yeah, most of the stuff on the recommended teen reading list follows this same formula. If Pinkwater could make a joke out of it in 1982, it ain't new.

I guess I think everybody ought to read a couple YA books when they are the right age for them (12-15), just to learn the lessons they have to teach. Those lessons are: the world is a dangerous and unfair place, trust nobody, and other people also suffer from fear and doubt and the varied causes of teen angst. Because these are lessons that earlier books have not taught the reader, the books have a disproportionate sense of realism. The false syllogism that drives this effect looks like:

  1. the books I used to read follow certain rules
  2. real life doesn't follow those rules
  3. this new book doesn't follow those rules
  4. therefore this new book is more like real life

If you read more than a few of them, you learn the new set of rules, and the illusion of realism is broken.

Some moralizing shits don't want you to read YA so you won't learn about the darker side of life. (Note: people like me who think you should read some YA to learn about the darker side of life? ALSO moralizing shits.) Your teachers just want you to read something. The publishers just want you to buy another book, and YA is another genre that's easy to sell. Like 'epic fantasy' or 'military sf' or 'shojo manga', the consumer is not looking to be surprised.

drunk, owl

bodymore should be a kingdom in westeros

In the HBO series The Wire, junkies and cops and drug dealers and union dockworkers and journalists fight and die. Omar Little says (I believe to Wee-Bey) "you come at the king, you best not miss". Omar is fearless, and strolls down the worst streets in Baltimore wearing body armor and carrying a shotgun, whistling "farmer in the dell", and small children warn drug dealers with their traditional call of "Omar be coming!"

In the HBO series Game of Thrones, kings and knights and ladies and bastards and pretenders and whores fight and die. Cersei Lannister says (I believe to Eddard Stark) "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die." Eddard's family motto is "Winter Is Coming", which has been used extensively in the marketing of the series.

This leads us to the following image:


autoloading shotguns tend to jam

I take no credit for the following - I got it from here: . If you shoot shotguns, or think you might someday, you should read pretty much everything here:

A devoutly religious hunter found himself deep in the swamp, with alligators surrounding him. There were also assorted poisonous snakes and rumor has it a directionally challenged grizzly bear was in the area as well. Armed only with his autoloading shotgun, our adventurer fired off a shot at the gator who had just made a snack out of his little dog. His autoloader jammed. “God, please help me,” the man prayed. The growl of the grizzly grew closer.

An owners manual fell from a nearby tree. Our hunter decided not to read it, for he believed with great certainty that God would protect him. Rain started falling and the alligators grew thicker. An air boat, piloted by Beretta Customer service buzzed by, with the yell “Can we help you?” The man ignored the air boat, saying, “No thanks, God will protect me!”

The skies grew dark; night was approaching. A helicopter appeared overhead. Thinking that he was suffering from panic-induced dementia, he saw the face of John Moses Browning poke out of the helicopter. “I'm John Browning, I invented autoloading shotguns, can I help?” the ghost asked. Steadfast in his belief that his prayers would be answered and his shotgun would soon function, our shotgunning explorer ignored the wispy image of Mr. Browning. The chopper flew away, back into the misty mist of the dusky dusk.

Things changed in a hurry. Nightfall came and the man was quickly dismembered by alligators. Various body parts would later be discovered in the bellies of nearby feral hogs. After his nasty death, the man arrived at the pearly gates demanding to know why God had ignored his prayers. The Lord replied, “Well, I just sent you an owners manual, Beretta Customer Service and John Browning.”

And so it goes, one less plate for supper. Our tyro hunter was, of course, a remarkably stupid individual. Anyone knows that a random sighting of Beretta Customer Service could only be due to Divine Intervention.

crocodile, general

weekend, random

friday - box up all N's books / random stuff on floor

saturday - with N and Ula, empty N's room completely. prep. paint. get a coat of black paint on her bedframe. Impromptu family yoga night.

sunday - 2nd coat on thin spots. de-prep from painting. assemble IKEA wardrobe, drawers, desk. reassemble bed. begin loading stuff back in. Purchase storage tubs for under the bed.

This whole project is her 16th birthday present, and once her stuff is fully re-loaded, I'll get some pics up. The purple ceiling soaks up a lot of light; we'll have to add more.