March 2009


Stupid Monkey - spraying self in face “Stupid Monkey” courtesy of Robot Chicken closing credits from S4E09. Buy the DVDs at Amazon!

I’d been meaning to tell this story because it had come up in casual conversation. But seeing the “Stupid Monkey” logo from Robot Chicken really made me remember that I had to blog about one of my greatest moments in stupidity: macing myself in the face.

Well, actually, it was tear gas. A yard sale near my house in Woodbridge was selling tons of tear gas self-defense canisters for a mere 25 to 50 cents each. I stupidly only bought one. Had I bought them all, I’d still have had them today, and Carolyn wouldn’t have had to spend $11 on pepper spray prior to her trip to Chicago. (I insisted she have something to protect herself with.)

I pretty much had the tear gas in my pocket at all times for protection, as I walked around Virginia Tech. Brass knuckles or a bb gun (loaded with a single, small dart) in my right pocket, and tear gas in my left pocket. I especially did this in D.C. Teargas someone first, and they wont be able to dodge the brass knuckles. A nice one-two set-up.

One time I really should have used both on this combative person, but … We let him steal my lighter and harass us. I did him a favor by not leaving him in a pile of his own blood as he called me chicken 1 inch from my face while my brass knuckles were slipped over right hand, ready to punch. What a dick. I regret not kicking his ass, but I suppose I took the high road. (Carolyn, Wayne, Shehab, and some others may remember that incident.)

So anyway, as I mentioned — I carried the tear gas with me everywhere. At some point, we discovered that if you sprayed it on a paper towel and inhaled it, that it would increase your buzz. It would also make me sneeze — exactly once. Which was kind of novel as well. This was definitely “college student thinking” at work. Who the hell wants to inhale tear gas? Apparently, me.

So I was really drunk at one party, sitting on the balcony outside. I noticed I had a paper towel in one hand, and the tear gas in another. What the hell — let’s have a whiff of the stuff since there were no cigarettes around. The problem was — as soon as I pulled the trigger of the tear gas, it ricocheted off the paper towel — directly into my eye!

At the time, I was drunk enough that my reactions were slowed down. But my mind hadn’t slowed down nearly as much — I remember thinking, “No. I’m spraying myself in the face. This sucks. Stop pushing the button. Stop. Now.” I remember it like it was yesterday.

And it hurt like hell.

But you know what? If you douse your tacos in Tabasco sauce, then eat them and let it drip on your hands, and then scratch an itch in your eye?

MUCH worse than teargassing yourself.

I wonder how mace fares.

Anyway — one more story off my chest! :) (more…)

QuickTime blows in so many ways, and everyone in the video know has known this for eons, since the 90s. It is from the same caste as RealVideo. Much better options have come along, but by far the most workable is the mpeg4-based Xvid (or the predecessor Divx), which can be thought of as “the mp3 of the video world”. Especially since they are both technically mpeg standards. (Though for high-def movie and show distribution, h.264 MKV is the shit. But it’s not as workable with as much software, unlike AVI.) (When I do VOB->AVI encoding for movies these days, I use h.264.)

Anyway… I was a bit aghast that my new camera takes videos in QuickTime. I wish the video codec could be changed at the firmware level. That would be nice. MPC (Media Player Classic) can’t even play the video files out of my camera, only VLC Player. And MPC works for most stuff (though not nearly as much as VLC, which plays just about anything in existence.)

So I wanted a simple command that I could execute to convert all the videos in a folder without ever having to think again — to just type “convert-camera-videos” in a folder of new stuff off my camera. Easy enough:

convert-camera-videos.bat (requires 4NT to use @NAME):

for %%1 in (*.mov) call mov2avi.bat "%%1" "%@NAME[%%1] (xvid).avi"
call deprecate *.mov

The first line uses “mov2avi.bat”, which is:
move2avi.bat:

echo using fixed_quant=4
echo ...... 1-3=very little improvement/huge files
echo ...... 4-5=good for high qual vid
echo ...... 31=lowest
mencoder %1 -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts fixed_quant=4 -o %2

^^ Note that I left some comments in there should I decide to change the quality to make my files smaller. In fact, I had to change fixed_quant to 11 to get the videos small enough to work with my command-line Flickr API uploader.

The 2nd line uses “deprecate.bat” which is really not required. Deprecate is simply a bat I have to rename files to “.deprecated”. It’s my way of deleting something without deleting it. I frequently deprecate photos that I don’t really want in my collection, but that I don’t want to delete either. It helps my data hoarding by allowing me a way to remove things from thigns without having to actually delete them.

Deprecate.bat::

@echo off
set NOQUOTES=%@STRIP[%=",%1]
ren "%NOQUOTES" "%NOQUOTES.deprecated"
unset /q NOQUOTES

Anyway — From now on, no more bullshit QuickTime for me! Xvid only! And if I feel my files are too big, I can always raise the value of fixed_quant in mov2avi.bat. (more…)

This may be helpful to others. If you are uploading flickr photos via Perl, and you would like your caption to automatically include a link to the original photo — all it requires is this tiny snippet of code:

NOTE!!! I HAVE COME UP WITH BETTER CODE FOR THIS HERE!!! YOU SHOULD PROBABLY USE THAT INSTEAD!

my $FLICKR_PHOTOID_URL = “http://flickr.com/photo.gne?id=”;
if ($file =~ /([0-9]{10})_[0-9a-f]{10}_[a-z]/i) {
$caption .= “Originally posted at $FLICKR_PHOTOID_URL$1\n”;
}

NOTE!!! I HAVE COME UP WITH BETTER CODE FOR THIS HERE!!! YOU SHOULD PROBABLY USE THAT INSTEAD!

Note that this only works if you keep the numbers from the filename that flickr gives you when you save a picture. IE “3375260709_1eb18b2012_o.jpg”. You can of course add anything else to the filename, but the “3375260709_1eb18b2012_o” part must be in there for this to work. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] When enough people you know start mentioning a movie… it’s time to watch it. So we did (on 12/3/2008)…

HAIKU: Stupid film titles
Permeate the industry!
I almost skipped this.

LIMERICK:
There once was a movie named Tropic Thunder.
A stupid title that made me wonder.
Actors I didn’t recognize?
What a pleasant surprise!
I’m glad to find out it wasn’t a total blunder.

PEOPLE: Believe it or not, but it’s actually a bit of a spoiler to say who all the actors are. You’re best off not thinking about it. We managed to be fooled and not realize who a couple of the actors were at first — and that was a big part of the fun.

QUIRKS: Fake trailers at the beginning. They were awesome! The whole movie takes place in an “alternate earth”. But not at all in a sci-fi/fantasy way. Simply… An earth with differently-named actors. (Who happen to have the same faces as actors here on our Earth…)

We missed the Wilhelm scream in this movie?!?!? Damn!

BAD STUFF: Not sure that there was any. We were pretty consistently entertained.

CONCLUSION: No wonder everyone was talking about this. Great stuff! I think I gave it 8/10 on IMDB and 4/5 on Netflix.

RECOMMENDATION: A mainstream must-see — but you don’t need me to tell you that.

MOVIE QUOTE: Kirk Lazarus: Everybody knows you never go full retard.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian loved it. Benj & even Glen really liked it. L Dubs liked it. I’m pretty sure everyone did? (more…)

“Fairly popular?” No, Obama. It was THE most popular question. Nice way to dodge the issue. Oh, and while you’re at it, insult everyone intelligent enough to try to have a voice and use your website that you bragged about as being “Change”.

Some comments I enjoyed:

“Barrack Obama was quoted on January 21, 2004 saying “The War on Drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws.” He goes on to say “But I am not somebody who believes in legalization of marijuana. What I do believe is that we need to rethink how we are operating in the drug wars and I think that currently we are not doing a good job.” What happened between then and now? He won’t even think about decriminalization now. He’s wrapped around someone’s finger” -phokuzbt@youtube

“Obama, I voted for you but you are slowly losing my confidence in your ability to put science before theology. Surely someone with the education you have knows that hemp (aka marijuana) was made illegal for all the wrong reasons. You are slowly losing your grassroots supporters, you have already lost me.” -sahenke13@youtube

“The only reason they opened up that forum on the whitehouse site was to make people feel like they have a voice, and that it’s being heard. Clearly that is not the case. Prohibition of alcohol failed. Prohibition of marijuana failed too. What is the big deal? They know it could bring in huge tax revenue. What could possibly be turning them away from that. “Look, when I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” -Barrack Obama” -phokuzbt@youtube

“what was disturbing was his chuckle(laugh). I guess it’s funny that 800,000 thousand non-voilent offenders get lock up every year or we spend billions apon bilions of tax payer dollars to “try” to fight the war on marijuana.” -dub@MPP blog

“He spent a good amount of time on Financial Aid. If Obama knew his facts he would realize that over 200,000 students have been denied Financial Aid do to cannabis convictions.” -Solon594@MPP blog

“I am offended and disappointed at President Obama’s response to our questions… and then making a joke of what we collectively think should happen is simply not ok. I am so tired of the same old attitude and stereotypes… I thought he was a fresh thinker, a brave new political maverick… Someone that could see past previously held beliefs and find truth… I voted for this?” -dw@MPP blog

My response: Well, DW. Some of us were smart enough not to vote for Obama. Did you really the Democratic party was going to change anything? They just swing the pendelum in the other direction. That’s not the same as change.

“Well, now we’ve been given our official lip service. Once again a gullible majority believed a politician. What a HUGE surprise. It doesn’t matter if they’re republican or democrat, grey or gray. They will never stop being opposite sides of the same old coin.” -JW@MPP blog

“what change? looks like obama favors the status quo. i wonder if he even realizes how and why marijuana was first criminalized in the first place. racism anyone? first black president? wha… this administration is a joke. this isnt about change at all… it’s about certain vested interests. we got played.” -Jon Stotz@MPP blog

Anyway, I’m still waiting for this so-called “change”. Let’s see how things are in 4 years… (more…)

[crossposted from Facebook]

  1. I’m a techie. I was the first human being I ever knew to have cable (’79ish), have a VCR (’80ish, $800, separate UHF/VHF knobs), have a personal computer (’80), write a program (’83), get online (’88), record and play music on my computer (’90-91), use the internet (’91), use a TV as a monitor (’95, but my dad did this around 1980), have a webpage (’95), use google (’98ish, I emailed my whole addressbook telling them about it), use a social networking site (SixDegrees in ’98, and not ONE friend accepted my request–people didn’t get that social networking had great potential… it took another 10 yrs for facebook to take off), control lights in my house with a computer (2002ish), transmit audio over FM with my computer (2003ish), use gmail (2004), flickr (2004), or have a YouTube account (2004). Y’all are slow at figurin’ this technawlogee out. Not to toot my own horn (but isn’t that what 25 things is for?), but you might want to follow my lead when I get into new things. I’m often onto things before others. I was called a geek for a lot of these things, then every trendy person on the planet turned around and did most of them 10 yrs later. PWNED.
  2. I first got online in 1988 with a dumb terminal. That means there was no software, and you had to type out most of the phone numbers you dialed (it could store 10) manually. And of course you couldn’t download. No disks. No operating system. No computer. Just a monitor and a keyboard. I called BBSes at 2400bps, 1200bps, and 300bps. 30 characters a second is REALLY slow. It wasn’t long til I had lots of online friends, as well as phoned in death threats to my house.
  3. I once rear-ended a purple limosine. I pretended to be poorer than I was, and the owner, a reverend, never called.
  4. My grandfather started a cult ( http://www.cut.org http://delicious/clintjcl/markprophet ) … Tens of thousands beleived he was divine, and ascended directly to heaven.
  5. I only have mid-digital hair on my left ring finger.
  6. I love warmth, but I think I’d be content with never seeing the sun again. I’ve gone about 3 weeks without seeing it before and it didn’t bother me a bit. But I would be the first in any group to die of exposure if tied to at ree.
  7. I once stabbed my dad in the arm with a fork. I was pretending to, and it broke his skin, and felt just like picking up a piece of cut steak. Gross.
  8. I once slit my dad’s throat with a piece of paper. I was pretending to, and flicked it, and it actually paper-cut his throat. Oops!!
  9. By the time I graduated high school, I had only drinken alcohol 8 times.
  10. I’ve never used chapstick/lip balm, except for 2 times that I’ve taken so much Mucinex that it dried me out. I really don’t understand why it’s so critical for people.
  11. I’m 35, and I still get carded if I shave. Yet my first legal drink at 21, they didn’t card me. WTF.
  12. My 3 favorite bands are Atari Teenage Riot, The Misfits, and Ween. They sound NOTHING like each other. (I prefer punk & metal, yet only The Misfits squarel fall into that.)
  13. I didn’t learn to really talk or use a toilet until I was 3, but I could read by the time I was 4 (before kindergarten), and at an adult level by 7. Listening to other kids read out loud in class was always EXTREMELY painful. I first corrected a teacher in kindergarten; I was right, she was wrong.
  14. I’ve never been out of the country. (Canada at age 3 doesn’t count!)
  15. I dislike being in public, because there are rules. True freedom only exists on private property.
  16. I’ve been tested as typing at 104WPM with 99% accuracy. (Temp agency, college)
  17. We had our first computer when I was about 5 or 6 (kindergarten, 1979-1980). I wrote my first computer program around age 8 (3rd grade). It merely printed to the screen that my high score in bowling was 30. Ha!
  18. Because I learned how to program for loops by copying my dad around age 8 or 9, I thought the loop control variable always had to be called “T”. For YEARS. (Nowadays I use $i!)
  19. I have Gilbert’s Syndrome. Basically, glucoronyl transferase enzyme deficiencies cause abnormal bilirubin (what makes your pee yellow, a byproduct of broken down hemoglobin) levels in my blood, making me succeptible to a harmless form of jaundice and possible bouts of fatigue (which would explain a LOT). But it lowers your rate of heart disease and artery hardening. Bacon, here I come. If my skin or eyes seem a bit yellow, this is why.
  20. I prefer to floss with plastic (10-pack-o’-gum bags, sandwich bags). Plastic never cuts your gums, and you can fold it over for farther apart teeth, use the edge, or use the middle for strange-shaped teeth gaps (a crown is only worth replacing so many times before you accept having a “food trap” shape between 2 teeth). Also, the dental tape (not floss) kicks ass for the same reasons — but plastic is free. I do keep floss around. At work, in my car, at home. It’s a basic emergency need. People not having it is how I discovered the plastic trick: Parties where the host has no floss tend to have smokers present, and the cellophane from a pack of cigarettes works just as well (But it’s stronger than plastic, and CAN make you bleed.)
  21. I have no friends my age who have been in a relationship as long as I have, and wonder if I ever will.
  22. I once refused to sneeze for a period of several years. And was successful.
  23. It seems like my tendons NEVER heal. Pull my back? 3 years of agony. Walk on sand? 9 months of constant discomfort [so far]. Any unknown treatments for this?
  24. I’ve had surgery 3 times, but only one was “real”/asleep surgury. Nodule in my thumb, and a radicular cyst in my gums (twice, it grew back even tho it’s not cancer). You’d think with all this, I’d be lumpy… but I’m not. Unless you count a gut. But that doesn’t have lumps.
  25. I didn’t learn to swim until my parents bribed me with a stereo at age 13. I despise water. If I were one of the 4 “elements”, I’d be fire. Then earth. Not air, and definitely not water.
  26. I’m a 3rd gen I.T. guy. We’re a rare breed. But it’s harder to find work if you don’t want to help kill people.

(more…)

Due to all the chicken drumsticks I ate at Jay’s birthday party this weekend…. I got to thinking about moral vegetarianism … Not eating stuff because it has to be killed and suffer. And it all goes back to me thinking: At least they don’t comprehend the hell they are in until they got killed. Because it sucks to be raised to be slaughtered.

Though I do think, along the same lines of “better to have lost love, than to never have had love”, that it is “better to have lost life [to be someone else’s dinner], than to have never had life at all.” In other words, I’d rather live as someone else’s dinner than to not life at all. Life is a great blessing if you are not constantly suffering. It might suck to be veal, but I’d rather be veal than a child laborer. I’d rather just lay there than be in a forced labor program. But I digress; this is not about veal.

In the end, I think a great deal of life depends on the consumption (and thus destruction… and thus suffering) of other life.

The difference is that we can make a choice. But why should we only eat that which cannot suffer? And if that is the case, can’t we eat jellyfish? They have no brain or central nervous system! They have nerves, but no consciousness to say, “ouch”.

Anyway — it’s not fair to that which is being slaughtered to be slaughtered. It’s not fair when I kill the ants that climb up my bathroom sink drain every year. But life isn’t fair. Some alien race could come along, decide we’re its food, decide our minds are so incredibly feeble that we can’t truly comprehend the horror, and slaughter us for dinner.

It would suck, but that would be that. There wouldn’t be anything we could do.

Then I think about the vegetables.

They don’t eat meat — with the exception of the Venus Flytrap (and a couple others?[citation needed]). They get their energy directly from the sun. Morally, they can claim themselves superior. Although there are a few exceptions, for the most part, photosynthesis is the most non-violent form of sustanance available.

If we wanted to solve a lot of things, we could alter our genetics to make us perform photosynthesis. We’d possibly turn green, but we wouldn’t need to eat (except maybe at night?). There would less of a need for violence against animals. (Hunting would still be necessary. Deer = 45,000 car accidents in one state in one year. You always fight for your team/species when lives are at stake. Mountain lions would still attack people if not put down. etc etc.)

And what do the vegetables get for their non-violent, moral superiority?

A bunch of vegetarians saying “let’s eat them, because they can’t comprehend the horror”.

Is that any different than the hypothetical aliens eating us?

I know there are likely holes in my logic here, but these are my thoughts. The plants suffer less, but they still die based on the fact that they are a lesser being. (more…)

I just read a 3-page article in Maxim about the Great White concert that killed 99 of the 300 people in the club. I have long thought this would make an incredible video game, but only if they could make you feel real pain so you’re really trying to escape. Tasteless, but intense.

Anyway, the fire originally only spread 1 foot per minute, but that was fast enough. They also had a diagram showing the exits, where people were, etc. Based on this, here is my advice, with the most important advice first:

1) The second you see any fire — even if it doesn’t seem to be a threat — run away fast. If you manage to “panic” before everyone else, you will be at the head of the herd and can possibly even use the main exit without getting stampeded. People didn’t freak out at first. The edgy ones who did increased their survival rate.

2) Keep in mind that most kitchens have an exit to outside. That might even be in the zoning code, to allow people to throw grease fires out back, etc. Most people aren’t going to be thinking about this, and will try to exit the way they came. This is a mistake:

3) The secret to surviving, as always, is to not follow the herd. Don’t act like a sheep and you wont be culled like one.

4) If a band is playing on stage, and THEY run away in a different direction than the rest of the crowd — follow THEM. They know more of the layout than you. They know the VIP/backstage area. Great White’s guitarist stupidly didn’t follow the rest of his bandmates to the back exit, and burned to death because of it. Don’t act like a sheep — unless you’re a sheep following the band. They KNOW things.

5) Club bathrooms often don’t have windows. If they’re charging a cover, the window could be used to sneak in. If you have to make a choice, don’t opt for the bathroom OR the front door.

6) A flashlight on your keychain very well may save your life by allowing you to see your way out, but don’t count on it once it gets too smoky.

7) If you do find yourself in a stampede, try to protect your kidneys. That’s what breaks when you get crushed by people (3rd most common injury after the Great White concert: kidney failure).

It’s good to consider worst-case scenarios.

And if you go to sporting events in football stadiums.. You might want to get a sense of how fast a fire can spread in a stadium:

http://secure.wikileaks.org/wiki/Suppressed_Bradford_City_Vally_Parade_stadium_fire_tragedy_footage%2C_11_May_1985

(more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Watch out! There are a shit-ton of movies called “Loaded”.

PEOPLE: Monica Keene (aka Rachel from Undeclared) as Brooke. Jimmy Jean-Louis (aka The Haitian from Heroes).

BAD STUFF: I watched this 6+ months before getting around to review it. Apparently, it is not at all memorable. May as well just read the summary here.

It is apparently a revenge tale — a character even reads Count Of Monte Cristo in the movie.

CONCLUSION: I have no clue if I liked this or not.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like Undeclared and Heroes, you may want to watch this just to see Rachel and The Haitian. Otherwise, I can’t really recommend one way or another. I would have remembered hating it. Probably just another generic movie.

Sorry for the non-informative review; When 2009 rolled around I started reviewing movies I’d watched in 2009, and have a backlog of 2008 movies that still need review. Fortunately, I am forgetting them, so the reviews go by faster :) (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: Will Smith as Hancock. Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron return to being a couple here — like on Arrested Development, except she isn’t [highlight for spoilers] retarded in this movie.

QUIRKS: A superhero movie! Yayyyyyy. And one that deals with more real-life issues, which has been an increasing goal of superhero artists since Stan Lee first wrote the Fantastic Four. This one in particular has Will Smith as a drunk hero, who basically unnecessarily destroys millions of dollars of property while saving one life. And of course the authorities don’t like vigilantism. So there you go. Oh, and there’s a twist. :) I saw it coming, but didn’t know the nature of it…

CONCLUSION: Good stuff! Nothing profound, but this is a high-budget movie, and feels like one. It’s no Batman — after all, they’re making up a new hero, not building on something people have been ape-shit about for more than half a century. But it’s way better than, say, Darkman, or other movies with made-up heroes. It’s better than My Super Ex-Girlfriend too, as this isn’t some romantic comedy. It’s more of a dramedy.

We rated it: Netflix:Clint:4,Carolyn:4. IMDB:Clint:7,Carolyn:8. Hmmm. We both liked it, but I guess Carolyn rates higher?

RECOMMENDATION: Superhero fans — especially those who like a modern polish, and real-life problems (like in The Venture Bros., though this film is not a straight comedy) should see this.

MOVIE QUOTE: Rail Crossing Crowd #2: I can smell alcohol on your breath!
Hancock: That’s cause I’ve been drinking bitch!

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Benj loved it. Jordan liked it. (more…)

I always prefer a solution where I type exactly what I want in as few keystrokse as possible, and go straight to my result without having to click around, load a bunch of webpages, or point my mouse at things. Flickr is no exception. If I want to go to my photostream, I just click the flickr icon in my toolbar or type “flickr“. But if I want to, for example, see all pictures of Carolyn — I ust type “flickr Carolyn“. Everyone else would have to go to flickr, probably type in the URL or click a toolbar, then type in what they are searching for, then click submit. Extra page loads. Extra time. Extra effort.

Power users don’t play that waiting game. We script solutions. My flickr.bat is damn simple, and has probably saved me well over an hour of pointless clicking. I’m very good at timewasting, so it’s important to give myself as much time to waste. People who do crap manually are just inferior users of time.

This stuff isn’t genius. It’s obvious. I could have done this with the skills I had in 1987 — if the web existed back then.

It’s very useful when someone is over here, and they say something like, “Who is Jane Doe? I don’t know if I know here.” I respond: “You probably met her at one of our parties” and then type “flickr janedoe” at the command-line. A few seconds later, pictures are on the screen with a minimal amount of effort, waititing, or bandwidth. So here it is. It’s not genius. It’s obvious:

flickr.bat:

if "%1"=="" goto :noarg

:arg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/tags/%1
goto :end

:noarg
http://www.flickr.com/photos/clintjcl/
:end

(more…)

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