The Office

The OfficeThere's a short list of shows that Sara and I never miss. NBC's The Office is the newest addition to that list. It's on Tuesdays at 9:30. You can read more about it at the official site and at TV Tome. It's based on a British sitcom of the same name. I haven't seen the original, but the American version is very funny. Steve Carell, former Daily Show correspondent, plays Michael Scott, the obliviously incompetent supervisor of an office of paper salesmen. He plays the part so that you can actually feel how uncomfortable it would be to work with him. The rest of the ensemble cast is excellent as well. There's some good talent behind the camera, too. Greg Daniels, creator, writer and executive producer, has worked on Seinfeld, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and Saturday Night Live. Give this show a try. The upcoming episode is the season finale, but they may be repeating the other episodes in the coming weeks. And if you already like the show, then you can go here and vote for it to prevent it from being canceled.

The Screen Savers

G4TechTV was renamed to G4TV and The Screen Savers has been renamed to "Attack of the Show." This is a good thing. The crappy network will no longer be associated with the good network that it destroyed. And the The Screen Savers, one of the best shows ever, will no longer be associated with the commercialized, dumbed-down freak show that it had become. AOTS is a stupid name for a stupid show. But take heart, my geeky friends . . .

A new podcast has begun: Revenge of the Screen Savers. It's a weekly podcast featuring a rotating cast of former TSS stars. The first episode was a half hour of chat and tech news from Leo, Kevin, Robert and Patrick. It was almost like the old days. If you want to get the show, then subscribe to the LaPorte Report podcast feed.

On the first episode, Kevin Rose discussed a new project he's working on called Systm. It will be a downloadable tv show that covers tech like the Screen Savers used to.

Google Sightseeing

There have been quite a few sites spring up that are dedicated to the most interesting finds from Google Maps' satellite images.

This image in Dallas shows where two different perspectives meet and overlap. One building leans right and one leans left.

Here is a huge triangle with circles inside. I think it's some kind of bombing target for an air force base.

Who knew that Arizona farmers liked Oprah so much?

The Space Needle in Seattle, WA.

Mount Rushmore.

Area 51. Though everyone knows that the interesting stuff there is underground.

There are several instances of large words spelled out in fields, but none are as large as this one.

And now some sites where you can do more Google sightseeing:

shreddies.org/gmaps
gmaps.nicj.net
returnofdesign.com
del.icio.us/knodi/google_maps
perljam.net

DSL Upgrade complete

DSL speed before upgrade:

Download: 322.87 kbps, Upload: 311.21 kbps

DSL speed after upgrade:

Download: 2.525 Mbps, Upload: 411.52 kbps

I ran the speed test here. I was led to believe that my upload speed would increase more dramatically than that. But, before the upgrade I was only supposed to be able to upload at 128 kbps.

Planting a garden

A couple of Saturdays ago I built a garden box, hauled a truckload of horse manure and mixed my soil. For the next several days I watered the soil and turned it until it seemed ready to be planted. I used some string and nails to divide it into 16 1'x1' sections. I numbered them in a notebook so I could keep track of what's planted in each square. The grid below shows how the garden is layed out. The north side is on top, and if you look at the pictures you can see the school in the background. The school is to the north of us.

1234
5678
9101112
13141516

And here's what I have in each square:
1. I'm planning on putting a tomato plant here.
2. Planning on cucumbers here. Both of these will be climbers, so I need to build something for them to climb on.
3. No plans for this square yet. Any ideas?
4. Planning on putting a pepper plant here.
5. India Mustard.
6. I hope to plant marigold seeds this weekend.
7. I put in four basil plants from the greenhouse yesterday.
8. Parsley (from the greenhouse).
9. Carrots
10. Butter crunch lettuce.
11. Onions (from sets.)
12. Oregano (from the greenhouse).
13. Seeded Simpson lettuce.
14. Bloomsdale spinach
15. Chives (from the greenhouse).
16. Planning on planting nasturtium seeds. The leaves and the flowers are edible, so it will be a fun one for Emma.

So far it's been fun and relaxing to come home from work, look things over, water a bit and pull some weeds. The onion sets sprang right up, but the carrots I planted a week ago are a little slower. This picture may show them finally sprouting, or maybe those are weeds. I really have no idea. When I was putting out the parsley yesterday a sprig broke off, so I took it inside and when I cooked some ground beef for dinner I added some chopped fresh parsley. Emma usually hates little green things on her food, but when I told her what it was she said she loved it.

Inkscape: open source vector drawing

If you like the GIMP, the open source replacement for Photoshop, then you should try Inkscape. It's a vector drawing tool, like Adobe Illustrator. I've been playing with it, and it's pretty fun. Here's a drawring I made:

Ubuntu 5.04

I've already talked about how much I like Ubuntu Linux. Last week was the release of the new version, code-named Hoary Hedgehog. I had been using Warty Warthog, the version that came out last fall. Upgrading was easy. I didn't have to download a new cd. Shoot, I didn't even have to reboot. I just told it to pull software from the new repositories and then typed "sudo dist-upgrade" on the command line. It took a few hours, but it worked great. When that was done I switched to the KDE desktop, which is a new addition in this version of Ubuntu. It's so pretty. If you want a little taste of KDE, then you can use this theme for Firefox, which is based on a KDE theme. Shiny.

New host

Sorry if the site hasn't been working too well recently. We're getting close to having the site migration done.

Addiction

I've been thinking a lot about addiction this week, and I've come to the conclusion that we are all addicted to something, something that medicates and numbs us toward life--either in part or in full. Listening to "Lua" by Bright Eyes really made sense of it.

"And I'm not sure what the trouble was that started all of this
The reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did
It's not something I would recommend, but it is one way to live
Cause what is simple in the moonlight by the morning never is"

5 Reasons I Love the Radio

After almost 5 years of hearing Danny defame the existence of radio, I have decided to do something about it. (Okay, I'm just going to write some lame post, but that is something, right?) Unlike Danny and his cohorts, I had a great experience with radio growing up. The music and radio personalities helped me define my own definition of "good music" and led to more musical exploration. Yes, there are a few bad things about radio: light banter, repetitive song choices, corporate leaders who don't care about artists or the music, many political talk show hosts. In spite of this, I still love the radio, and here's why:

1. New music.
From the time I had my own radio (minus that New Kids on the Block stint in 6th grade), I have used the radio as a travel guide to new music. "Sara, meet Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam, Sara." Thus began almost a decade of borderline obsession with Eddie Vedder, his lyrics, the band's style, wearing flannel and combat boots....ah, the good old days. The point is, without radio, I might not have been introduced to a band that had such an influence on my musical tastes. Of course I did not take radio's word for it: I went out and listened to all I could, I researched, I proselytized. I'm such a tool. But seriously, many of the memories I have from jr. high & high school involve listening to the radio, or to CDs I found out about from the radio, pondering things I wasn't quite sure about through the minds of my favorite artists.

2. Radio personalities.
This one is going to strike a lot of people as stupid; so be it. I believe that if you look hard enough, you will find a radio station with a high percentage of personalities that you enjoy; personalities who agree with and increase your musical taste; who increase your awareness of the world around you; who love what they do and cause you to love it, too. Currently, my favorite is 96.5 the buzz, specifically, the Church of Lazlo. And this brings me to my next two reasons.

3. Mystery.
Radio is inherently mystical: you can feel completely attached to a personality you have never met and believe in his/her musical choices and ideals without ever seeing that personality. Radio is so great--you can look like me and still get airtime! I loved my time as a college radio host. I loved walking down the dark hallway to the pit, walking through the door and seeing the "On Air" sign lit up, looking through the file for the perfect song to fill my free spot. I loved the power: elementary kids calling in to request Eminem, me saying "I'll see what I can do". (Translation: not in a million years.) I loved finding little connections between artists, "this artist used to front this band, which is now on tour with such and such", because these are the radio conversations that peaked my interest when I was just a listener, and I was able to pass that on.

4. Special format shows.
A college radio station has a lot of freedom--it runs on nothing, with shoddy equipment, and guys saying, "uh, dead air, um, uh". So the format shows abound: an all-female artist hour, an hour of the Grateful Dead and like bands, Premium Blend (my radio teacher's special hour of bizarre recordings and commercials). Commercial stations have a bit more structure, to say the least, but they can still try (if they are all about the music). In high school, Sunday Over Easy was my favorite: 3 hours of acoustic music that you would never hear during drive time. Here, I was introduced to Elliot Smith, Tori Amos, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello. (His "Allison" is still one of my faves.) Try listening to the radio at odd times: Saturday night, Sunday morning, the middle of the night. I'm sure you will stumble upon a favorite format show.

5. Okay, I give up. I could only think of four. If I wanted, I could take the time to separate some of these into another category, but I'm lazy. Maybe it is all radio's fault. In the words of Elvis Costello, "The radio is in the hands/Of such a lot of fools/Tryin to anesthetize the way that you feel".

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