Terrible With The Comma - I've known for a very long time that I am horrible with commas. I use too many of them.

Even for informal writing, you really ought to use the right amount of commas. That's what I figure. But I'm just horrible at using them. Part of the trouble is that I tend towards really long sentences. And, sooner or later, I wander into run-on territory. When that happens, it's like a comma explosion. All of a sidden I've got five or six phrases in there, all separated by commas.

Anybody know where I can go for a crash course in comma usage. Better still, some sort of shock-therapy or a recording I can put on headphones at night so I can learn how to use commas correctly in my sleep?


Punk Kittens - I hope no kittens were harmed in the making of this flash bit of Friday frivolity. Punk Kittens - They ROCK! by Joel Veitch. Also on the website, Independent Woman sung by the same kittens.
Came to my attention through Patti, thanks to this BBC story.

Mike's Back! - And his front, too! Seriously, Curious Frog is back in the bloggiverse with a link blog.

Not only that, but proving he's a better link-blogger than I am, he informs me that those of us who mourn the loss of the free KPIG music feed, can rejoice. Radio Paridise is run by some of the people involved with KPIG. Plays the same music, has a website where you can get the playlist... the whole she-bang! WOO HOO!
Friday Five - This week's Friday Five is kinda sappy.

1. How many times have you truly been in love?

Three times. Once romantic and twice fatherly. Having children is being in love, because suddenly there is this person who makes a huge difference in your life and you would do anything for that person. The romantic love of my life is my wife, and I can honestly say that she's the only woman I've ever truly been in love with. And as sappy as it sounds, I am more than ever today.

2. What was/is so great about the person you love(d) the most?

About Maggie? Her creativity, her ideas, and her support make me love her more than ever. But, in addition to that, she's level-headed. I never expect to find her bringing home books by new-age self-help gurus or pseudo-scientific garbage. And that not only makes her a desirable companion, but a great mother (because one of the last things I want is for my kids to grow up without the ability to think critically)

3. What qualities should a significant other have?

Well, I went into that a little bit above, but I'll elaborate here with a list.
  • Only a little bit insane. Not embarrassed to be a little weird, but not completely in another world.
  • Must have similar ideas regarding finances. In the long term, money problems cause friction in so many relationships. But no matter how much money you have, if the two of you have a similar philosophy, you'll weather it.
  • Sense of adventure
  • The ability to spend Sunday in the house, in front of a window, with books
  • Will encourage you to be more than you are. Someone who is satisfied with who you are is only going to hold you back. I'm not talking about someone who will pester you to be a better driver or something like that. I'm talking about someone who sees the undeveloped qualities in you and pushes you to make them into something. Someone who knows you well enough that they can tell it would make you happy to pursue and develop certain of your aptitudes.
4. Have you ever broken someone's heart?

I doubt it. If so, I have no idea.

5. If there was one thing you could teach people about love, what would it be?

For my girls: A guy who is nice to you but not nice to the waiter is not a nice person.


Leveraging The Animation - So, what if you have a bad attitude, some funny jokes, drink too much, like to play videogames, and wish you could turn your jokes into computer-animated movies? The result, of course, would be: Red vs Blue.

It's a nifty idea. They come up with scripts and then have the videogame characters act them out. Mostly, they're using the great X-Box game "Halo" as their animation engine.

The result is pretty funny, which you can see for yourself if you have the bandwidth to download any of their Quicktime movies. Some comedic themes are how Apple computers have no games, how out of place some conversations can be when someone is shooting at you, and how you might try to learn to drive a tank "on the fly."

For a sample of their attitude and sense of humor, check out the FAQ
Comic Urination - As Kilwag points out on his site,
There’s nothing quintessentially more American than t-shirts, bumper stickers, and bad taste. Well that, and copyright infringement.

This is his introduction to an article analysing the phenomenon of those car stickers that have Calvin of "Calvin and Hobbes" peeing on everything from rival car companies to ... well, read the article for yourself. Link: Calvin Pees

I'm a sucker for myth and folklore, urban and otherwise. This is definitely some folklore which has taken on a life of its own.

Of course, now that I've poseted this, I'm having trouble accessing his server. Bleh.
TI - Meetings all morning! Perhaps I can sneak a post in later...


Gamelan Music - Rui sent me a link to some ear-tickling music (he knows my eclectic musical interests). THE SCHUBERT CLUB GAMELAN ENSEMBLE: Sumarah at first made me think of Indian music. It's got a haunting quality to it, even before the voices start in. If you're interested, check out that website, which has decent length clips of CD tracks off the album.

The American Gamelan Institute has information on Gamelan music, which originates in Indonesia.


Difficult Space Ship Game - Don't click the link if you don't have time to waste on this little game.
On a Roll - Patti writes, in comments regarding yesterday's story about cheese rolling:
Wouldn't it make more sense to tuck and roll down the hill?  That's what I would do.
I would avise against that.

Once, Maggie and I went sledding on the hills of the Westport town beach. We're not talking huge hills here, but enough for a little slide. At one point, in the excitement of it all, we decided to roll down the hill. You can regulate your rolling speed, but I went for maximum velocity. Once you get to top speed, it's tough to stop yourself until you reach the bottom.

When I made it to the bottom I wanted to die. The world was not only spinning, it seemed like it was inside-out. I came perilously close to vomiting. I quickly placed the experience in the "lessons learned" category.

So, if you are a carefree young lover, or simply full of joie de vivre, feel free to roll down those clover-infested hills. But I warn you - don't go for speed!
Checkout - I'm in the process of reorganizing this blog and moving it to a new location. The reorganization needs to happen because I note that blog entries are somewhat uneven. Some are just quick links, some are more like journal entries. I'd like to expand into some other areas, too, so a whole new website is in order, complete with domain name. I'm hoping that these changes will, among other things, speed the site up. This comment system is killing my access time.

But that has little to do with this particular entry.

There are a number of places where we have regular, slightly anonymous social interaction. Driving on the highway is one such place. Buying fast food at the drive-through window is another. And so is the supermarket checkout line.

The checkout line entails a bit of drama. Think of all the possibilities. There are the impulse-buy items that surround you. Candy, self-help pamphlets and tabloid papers beckon to you. There are posted (if grammatically incorrect) rules, such as in the "12 Items or Less" express queue. How many people have written about the excitement and frustration of having someone with greater than their allotted number of items reach the checkout just before they do with their one item? Many, I'm sure.

My story is a little more subtle. Just a little.

Yesterday, I rushed into the supermarket to pick up some milk for my breakfast. My office boasts a healthy (so to speak) compliment of cold cereals of the saturday-morning-cartoon-advertisement variety. Comfort food.

I strode to the checkout with my carton of milk, my one item. Someone was ahead of me, but no matter. I gave him plenty of room, placing my carton of milk nearly all the way back on the conveyor belt, and then flanking it with 2 plastic dividers to "mark its territory."

Plastic checkout dividers are another source of drama. I always try to place dividers around my items, so that the person behind me needn't reach over and grab the divider himself. Usually, I consider this a slightly polite gesture on my part, but nothing worthy of any note.

As the checkout operator did not have the conveyor belt set to automatically move forward, I was able to keep my hand on my one item, leaning slightly on it.

A young man entered the line behind me. After a moment or two, I sensed he was shifting restlessly. And then he began to place items on the back of the conveyor belt - the very small space left behind the divider. he stacked an item or two on the metal end piece of the conveyor apparatus, off the belt itself to prepare them for loading on the belt. This was fine with me. But as he placed two lemons on the belt, one of which rolled past the divider and into my milk carton's personal space, I began to realize why he was restless. He was envious of the large span of belt in front of my milk carton. Now he was trying to squeeze one more item behind the divider, trying to inch my carton forward.

By this time, the fellow in front of me had completed his purchase and was moving on. As the belt began to move I lifted up my carton and placed it in the hands of the woman working the checkout, rather than just watch the thing take a ride on the belt. At that, the man me clucked his tongue and sighed audibly.


All this time I was in the middle of his dramatic attempt to gain more belt space for his items, and he was disgusted that I so cavalierly moved my milk forward. What gall I have.

I decided to engage him in his game directly. As my carton got scanned, I turned to the fellow and made direct eye contact with him, giving him the opportunity to speak if he truly had a comment to make. It was merely a second or so before he averted his gaze downward.

I looked to the matter of running my card through the machine. When I sensed his head had un-bowed itself, I once again faced him with a blank expression, seeking his eyes, which quickly found something very interesting on the floor to examine.

This little scene repeated another 2 times or so while I completed my transaction, each time concluding with him surrendering in the staring match. He forfeited each opportunity to tell me how much gall I had to not anticipate his conveyer belt needs, and then to mock them.

As I left the store, I was forced to wonder - what just happened? Why was I engaging in a staring match with this guy? And, since I could have moved my milk forward as soon as I realized he wanted more belt space, was I guilty of playing some sort of macho personal space game? The slight sense of satisfaction I felt told me that yes, I had been engaged in the drama.

And so, the guilt followed.


Who Will Chase The Cheese Now - Perilous Annual Cheese Chase Called Off according to Reuters "Oddly Enough" news. (thanks Patti)

The English county of Gloucestershire has, for centuries, hosted a ritual involving grown people, wheels of cheese, and steep hills. Add these intriguing elements together and you get a recipe for numerous injuries.

Apparently, the event is pretty darned exciting:
Last year, according to the organizers' Web site, "there were only three casualties requiring hospital attention," including a spectator who fainted.

Some people should be more careful when exposing themselves to extreme sports.


Font Identity - This is cool. Have you ever needed to match a font? As in, you had a picture with some text in it and you wanted to add to it or edit it, but you didn't know what the font was? Identifont - identify fonts and typefaces is a website devoted to helping you locate the font in question. The site will ask you a number of questions about your font to try to narrow down the choices until you locate the correct typeface.

Nifty, for the Photoshop fiend in all of us.