The United States Code states that MLK day shall be observed on the third Monday in January. In 2008, Martin Luther King Day will fall on January 21. Please schedule plane tickets and vacation time accordingly. This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by Wikipedia.
On my flight to and from Milwaukee, I flew Midwest Airlines. I had not previously flown Midwest Airlines and, while I did not take advantage of the complimentary chocolate chip cookies, I can say that they smelled quite good. Big, comfy seats, too.
Anyway, on the return trip, I thumbed through the inflight magazine, MyMidwest. As most such periodicals do, it had a puzzle page, this one credited (in print, but not that I can find on the Web page) to one Tom Riches. It's an interesting mixture of puzzles, but I don't imagine it will take anyone very long to note why I've chosen to link to it.
Tomorrow begins Public Service Recognition Week. According to this, one of the ways in which the average person can celebrate is by taking the opportunity to increase their "understanding [of] emergency responses to the Y2K problem." Okay.
I will be in Milwaukee all week, making the world a better place by my efforts, though not (as I would prefer) by forcing Milwaukee to produce higher quality beverages. If you would like to take advantage of the PSRW celebration to tell me all the ways in which I've improved your life, please feel free to comment.
I was having lunch yesterday while I was out running some errands and sat down at a table next to a woman who had out a blank Scrabble board and a full score pad. She was poring over the pad as if trying to reconstruct the game entirely from the numbers on it (coming soon to a Mystery Hunt near you). After a few minutes, she was joined by a man and they started getting ready to play. Drawing tiles to see who goes first, he drew an R. I didn't see what she drew, but that was immediately followed by math as they determined how many letters there were between their two tiles. I can only assume she was handicapping him in some way. So he went first.
I could see his tiles from where I was sitting, and his initial seven tiles were ADEELOO. He saw DOLE, but, based on the way he then shuffled the tiles around, I guess he wanted to save the -ED, not an unreasonable choice. I came up with OLEO, thanks to my vague familiarity with crosswordese. He played LOE. She (and I) didn't think that was a word, so they checked and it wasn't. This is where I again assume she was handicapping him, because he was allowed to simply replay, this time LO. She played REX, making LOX, which he didn't think was a word. He'd drawn an N and two more vowels and as I was getting up to leave he was placing NERO across REX. I had to check just to be sure, but nope, there's no non-capitalized version of that word for use in Scrabble. I have a feeling it was a long game.
Did anybody else, and by anybody else I suppose I mean tablesaw, think of the end of Season One of Lost at the end of DROD: The City Beneath? Or the jerk shamans from Season Seven of Buffy? Do I watch too much TV?
I'll admit that I'm excited about the prospect of soon receiving the The Fool's Errand sequel that I pre-paid for 3-4 years ago, but DROD is still the best deal in town for computer puzzle games. Every new game smoothly integrates all the old mechanisms, modifies them in subtle ways that make an enormous strategic difference, and comes up with one or two entirely new problems to deal with that force you to rethink everything you've ever done before. Over the course of about 30 hours of gameplay (for me at least, although I think there were times I left the game running to answer phone calls, eat dinner, or watch TV), there were probably a good 40-50 a-has, which is about as good a junkie fix for something like that as I'm likely to get.
On my way home this evening, I made a mental list regarding concerts I've attended in the last year.
Unusual Things I've Been: Uncommonly Certain of Myself [Kid Beyond] Gobsmacked [Kid Beyond] Zombie Chorus [Jonathan Coulton] Evil Robot Overlord [Jonathan Coulton] Worried that I Might be Forced to Watch a Couple Have Sex [The Decemberists] Swallowed by a Giant Whale [The Decemberists]
I suppose I mostly go to unusual concerts, so this shouldn't surprise me, but somehow it does.
I arrived home from work today to discover that our heat was off. In speaking with the neighbor girls, they apparently smelled gas and called the landlord who called Keyspan who came out and determined that the heaters were leaking, turned everything off, and left with a promise to return some time before 1AM. I, frankly, would have been quite happy being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning in exchange for heat, which is good, since there's an excellent chance that I have been for some time. The thing I find most troubling is that both we and the neighbors have carbon monoxide detectors, and ours, at least, is relatively new, but neither ever raised the slightest alarm. No, no, the thing I find most troubling is that I'm cold. The house seems to be managing to maintain about 58 degrees, which is certainly warmer than the outside, but I'm starting to think about how effectively I can sleep with an active laptop tucked under the covers with me.
A few unrelated thoughts while I futz around before my dentist appointment:
From this article about quantum computers comes the unintentionally amusing line:
[The CEO] said all the evidence the company has indicates that the device is performing quantum computations, but he acknowledged there is some uncertainty.
Al Gore is helping to organize a global warming benefit concert that will "take place across 7 continents on July 7." Who exactly do they expect to get to perform from Antarctica in the dead of winter down there? Or is he just counting on global warming turning Antarctica into a tropical paradise by then?
If I had the requisite time and musical skills, I would totally start a Shins cover band called Shin Feign.
I wanted to post this last night around 9:55, but I was in DC on business and internet at the hotel where I was staying wasn't free, so I couldn't quite justify it.
In any event, if it were ever to become necessary to compile a list of evidence that the people over at Heroes know their audience really, really well, I would say this: Look no further than Hiro's father's limo's license plate.
So New York, taking Europe's lead, is discussing banning underweight models. The official BMI at which WHO labels the break from underweight into normal is 18.5, so New York is making that the cutoff that it is considering using.
Now, I don't have a huge problem with the premise here. It seems like an unusually narrow law, but it wouldn't be the only such, so I don't especially want to discount it simply on that basis. But the "normal range" cutoff seems a bit much to me.
Based on a online BMI calculator, my current BMI is 16.8. I currently weigh more than I have ever weighed in my entire life, so that's certainly the highest my BMI has been since puberty and likely the highest it's been in my lifetime. I'd have to gain another 12 pounds to have a BMI of 18.5, and I can tell you that there's no place good for 12 additional pounds to go on my frame. And I know that at least some of you have seen me eat, so I hope no one thinks I'm starving myself to stay thin or putting my health in danger.
This isn't me trying to say "Oh, I'm so skinny. Woe is me." It's just me trying to point out that if this is something that New York (or anyplace else) genuinely wants to pursue, there ought to be a better measure in place than BMI. I don't know what it would be. Offhand, my recollection is that percentage body fat did a better job of accurately representing my health and fitness relative to my classmates in middle school, but that's been so long ago.
Is there an award for the most ridiculous injury of the year? Because I'd like to submit myself as an early frontrunner candidate.
It isn't uncommon for me to get a cold the first week of January. It's the cold weather coupled with the heavy traveling and the unhealthy eating. But it's usually gone or at least mostly gone by the Hunt. I've had a cold for a few days (stretching on from a cold I thought I'd avoided back before New Year's), but it hasn't been much more than a nuisance.
Except that, either last night or this morning, it became a serious problem when I wrenched my back sneezing. All morning I felt like I'd slept on it funny, but it was in my lower back, which isn't usually where I get those sorts of aches. It wasn't until I had a sneezing fit, coupled with some fairly intense diaphragm pain, that I figured out what I had done. So now I'm home, lying in bed, and irate at myself, human physiology, and basically anything else I can think of, because this is not the sort of thing that just works itself out quickly. And this cold is now a severely complicating factor because every time I sneeze again, I make it worse.
I often complain that my hometown is the biggest small town in the country. But there are certain things I absolutely love about it. I'm just going to mention one, briefly.
McMenamins started out as a perfectly adequate brewpub chain. But it went from a pleasant option for an evening to major selling point of visits with the family when the company started making a business plan out of buying old buildings around the city and restoring them. In particular, I love what they've done with old theaters around the city. Two, the Bagdad and the Mission, are the best second-run theaters I've ever been to. It's not just that they're groovy old theater environments playing cheap movies, but that you can get pizza, burgers, and beer and take them to theater seating with tables. And apparently since I was last in town, the Mission started showing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Three episodes, in order, every Tuesday, with a crowd and bar food. Seriously, TiVo should look into a service like that.
Astute readers will recall that I find Christmas, well, disturbing. Partly it's a reaction to the super-Christmas environment I grew up in. Partly it's the ever-increasing Wall of Santas that I face in returning home each holiday season. And partly it's that Christmas shopping nearly always requires that I go to a mall, places which always make me uncomfortable and which, during the holiday season, are about as near to my notion of Hell as any place I've ever been.
But it took the wisdom of modern existentialist philosopher Jonathan Coulton to make me realize precisely what it is about Christmas that I find so disconcerting. The plot doesn't cohere. Hallowe'en coheres, mostly. Bloodthirsty monsters have taken to the streets of your town and must be pacified with candy. See, that makes sense. To the extent that people (and I will admit to having been guilty of this myself) dress up as things that are not bloodthirsty monsters, it seems to me that they've forgotten the true spirit of Hallowe'en, but that's not the holiday's fault.
The Fourth of July, fundamentally, says "I love my country, and I plan to show it by blowing things up." And, frankly, what could be more quintessentially American than that?
But Christmas... I mean...
So if you're good, a fat man will come down the chimney of your home, bringing you presents in return for cookies and milk. If you're bad, the fat man will bring you coal. If you're particularly good, but having a bad year, Panglossian angels will come to show you how much worse the world would be if things had gone any differently. If you're particularly bad, ghosts will come to threaten you with visions of your own mortality. If you've forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, you will be visited by a terminally ill child, to rekindle your Christmas spirit (speaking of which, where is my terminally ill child? I've been waiting for years for a terminally ill child to rekindle my Christmas spirit, but it never seems to happen).
And then there are the supporting cast: the reindeer, the dentists, the Abominable Snowmen, the magical top hats, the crotchety weather gods, the roast beast. It's just too much.
And that only covers the secular holiday. In isolation, the religious holiday makes better sense, from a plot standpoint, but can overall only contribute to the larger sense of muddle that is Christmas.
Following up on Monday's entry about Will Shortz's life bring threatened...
I don't recall which Wordplay star posted the review that described the movie in terms of an unsavory picture that I really don't need in my head, but let me just say that twice in a year (not the linked instance of his name, but the following one) is two times too many.
It says something about my life and priorities when a philately story makes my day. I neither know, nor care, whether this is true. The very premise of this article lifts my spirits far more than can be justified by reason.