Friday, October 31, 2008

They're Not All Winners 2

Sometimes I am inspired while mowing the lawn. Sometimes not so much. A couple weeks ago, I was thinking about Chinese yo-yo's, because the kids had gotten some at some party. Not the real kind, but the stupid paper roll kind. It got me to thinking of all the stupid things we call "Chinese." Like the Chinese fire drill and Chinese handcuffs. And, oddly enough, this got me to thinking of Carl, Jr., which then inspired me to make up a new joke.

Now, I'm going to apologize to Carl ahead of time in that him being the inspiration of this is maybe not the most flattering thing that could happen. But he'll understand it when he reads it.

I kept this to myself, thinking it maybe needed development or really just the perfect setup in order to deliver. You know how I am a stickler for timing. Well, tonight I could wait no longer. We had trick-or-treating at The Company today, and The Mrs. was talking about how all the Chinese yo-yo's we had in the treat box were gone when we got back to my cube (we set the treat box out for people to help themselves as we took The Childrens around the trick-or-treating, so this is seen as a sign that they were popular). Hearing her say Chinese yo-yo made me think of the joke.

Sadly, it fell completely flat. Probably cuz I completely f'd up the delivery. But also possibly cuz she doesn't hang with Carl all the time like I do.
Do you know how to make a Chinese jail cell?

You take a guy to Walmart, draw a chalk box around him on the floor, and say, "If you stay in this box for a year, everything in the store is half off."
They're not all winners.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Foot Hurts

I don't know why. It's either foot cancer, or PMS.

Hey, I gotta say, I'm very excited about Barack Obama's plan to eliminate the 401(k) tax deferral for people who save and to eliminate the tax deduction to employers who contribute matching funds. Since those are the only two things that distinguish a 401(k) from a private investment account, that should pretty much kill off my alternative to social security. That should be very exciting depending upon the government to get a good return on my social security investments in order to have money to retire on rather than them just frittering it away on tax "rebates" for people who don't pay any taxes (aka, his welfare plan). Yes yes, every day it is clearer to me how the only reason not to support this guy is because my church told me not to.

If only I had a church.

But hey, I'm young. Why should I worry about the future when the government will do that for me?

On a lighter note, on Monday, our much-anticipated whole-house music system was professionally installed by the good proprietor of Home Smart Home, LLC. See, when we bought our fancy-pants house, I wasn't expecting to have to spread the wealth around, so we bought a nice place. It has 6 pairs of speakers installed into the walls/ceilings in various rooms about the house. The speaker wires all terminate in the cabinet under the TV in the family room, where the previous owners had a 12-channel amp and some misc. audio equipment, all of which they naturally took with them.

I didn't really know much about whole house audio, but my neighbor across the street was a bit of a hobbiest in the field. Until recently when he decided to supplement the income of his day job by opening up a business installing high-end A/V systems in houses, thus becoming the dreaded small business owner whose wealth needs to be spread around.

He set us up with a used 12-channel amp (at about half the price of new), plus a Sonos BU150 along with some accessories, for a very decent price. We the BU150, you get to run two zones independently, so we have the basement on its own zone player, allowing the kids to listen to kid music down there, where the kitchen, family room, living room, master bedroom, and deck are on another zone and driven by the 12-channel amp.

I decided to rip all our CDs on the PeeCee so that we can have access to all the songs from the Sonos without having to put a disc into the player. This has consumed almost all my free time since then. We own just over 300 CDs, I think, and it takes 5-10 minutes to rip each one. I think we've gotten through about 200 of them so far, but we did all The Mrs.'s and The Childrens's first, so we just really got into my collection today.

Last night, we had only gotten through the A's (my collection is alphabetical, cuz that's the kind of guy I am), so while I was in the basement playing Clue Jr. with MaxieC, we got to listen to tons of AC/DC and Aerosmith. Really more than I perhaps needed to listen to right then.

So I flipped over to the "Heroes of Guitar" streaming internet radio station. Little did I know this station plays music (almost?) exclusively from the Guitar Heroes game. But it was still good. MaxieC did air guitar to "I Love Rock'n'Roll". It's interesting that he has already developed the classic white guy dance moves at age four - namely, he stands pretty still and plays air guitar with his mouth wide open and his head thrown back.

I don't know where he got that. I don't do that. I dance like the village idiot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh, My Liver - a period piece

Sorry fans. I'd love to tell this story, but I can't. The Mrs. would get angry.

Oh, the power of The CherkyB

Here's an interesting little article on the problems West Virginia residents are having with their touch screen voting machines registering the votes for the wrong candidates. I note that Dr. Fancy Computer Scientist from Rice managed to describe parallax without actually using the word, and then he swiped Blogauthor's ATM example. I guess if you give a million PhD's typewriters, none of them will write Shakespeare, but instead they'll all turn out stuff that is largely identical.
Wallach also noted that, as with all such displays, calibration depends on the angle from which the screen is viewed: A display properly calibrated for a five-foot-tall user might be miscalibrated for someone a foot taller. "Don't take my word for it; go up to a drive-in ATM calibrated for someone sitting down, and try to use it just standing there," suggested Wallach, "you won't be able to hit the damn buttons." The iVotronics system compounds the problem, he said, because its display is locked in place, which "guarantees that some users are going to be viewing it at the wrong angle."
Here in Colorado, we use Diebold, not iVotronics. I have learned that the Diebold machines are actually tilt-adjustable by the poll workers to give everyone the right viewing angle, though no such information was provided to me by the guy who "trained" me on using the machine.

How did I learn this?

Well, I sent in a complaint to the Larimer County Director of elections using the email contact on their web page (though I did it at like 11pm after having written my screed, so she didn't see it until the next day). Much to my surprise, she responded by the close of business that they had received another complaint about the machines at that location the same day I voted, they had discovered that the polarized privacy screens covering the display were not fitting correctly causing this problem, had already removed them from all early voter locations, and will not ship them with the machines they will set up on election day.

Cool. She also threw in that the calibration of the machines was OK and that they are tilt-adjustable for people of different heights.

I guess I should have just told the guys working there about the problem, but for some reason I wanted to get to work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Fix is In

OK, I'll be the first to break the story: Colorado (or at least Larimer County) has a serious flaw with its electronic voting machine setup that will ultimately be of great benefit to the Democratic Party. It's very difficult to get the machine to register a vote for the Republican candidate for either president or for the House of Representatives.

In case you couldn't tell, I voted today, taking advantage of the early voting period that began Monday. I was given a choice of electronic or paper ballot, and I chose electronic, as I found it a heck of a lot more convenient in my old home of California when they switched over. The poll workers seemed a bit shocked that I selected electronic, probably given all the bad press electronic voting has gotten since it came on the scene. The poll location had a grand total of two electronic voting machines, but they were setup with roughly 50 of those little folding booth things for filling out paper ballots.

The guy gave me the quick training on the specifics of this machine (a Diebold, which are supposed to be rigged to fake votes for Republicans, if you believe the MSM), and I was off and voting. With the heady rush of voting for president in a swing state for the first time ever (prior to solidly-Democratic California, I was a resident of equally solidly-Democratic New York), I surveyed the first electronic page of the ballot, found my man at the top of the list, pressed firmly on the touch screen for the check box for John McCain, and the machine registered a vote for Barack Obama (who was the candidate on the line under McCain).


I clicked on John MacCain again, and it beeped at me. Poke, poke, poke, braaap, braaap, braaap.

Hmmm...Where is the clear button? There is none.

Ah, here's the "Back button". I hit back, it takes me back to the intro page, I hit "next" and it takes me back to the presidential candidates with my vote for Barack Obama registered.

So I poke some more, and eventually I find that if I press a little lower on the screen, I can uncheck Obama, and all the check boxes on all the candidates return.

So I much more carefully poke at McCain, using just the tip of my finger to make sure I don't hit both McCain and Obama at the same time. I land right directly on the McCain check box, and my vote is recorded.

For Obama.

Seriously. I'm not making this up.

I poke at it a couple times to get it to clear Obama again, and this time I start at the very tippy top of the screen, in the line that says "President of the United States", and I start poking, getting braapped at, and then poking again a tiny bit lower. I worked my way slowly down until, right on the dividing line between the "President of the United States" box and the "John McCain" box, it actually selects McCain.

Now, as you all know, I am a reasonably bright individual. I work in the high tech field. I work on a computer all day long. I have a PhD in electrical engineering. And it took me three tries and about 30 seconds of farting around in order to be able figure out the trick to get the machine to allow me to vote for the guy I actually wanted.

Well, feeling a great deal of success, I punched the "next" button and got for vote for my congressperson. My candidate was in slot one, and once again, my vote was recorded as for slot two. Having learned the trick, I quickly cleared the result and voted by pressing the line above my candidate rather than the checkbox for her.

None of the other pages of the electronic ballot had this problem. I believe this was because the remaining pages had more than one line of "header" text, so the first voting line was lower on the screen.

I think what was going on here was a parallax problem. "The apparent displacement of an observed object due to a change in the position of the observer." The screen was a pretty tall screen, and rather than being upright, it was laid down at perhaps 45 degrees. The end result being that I was looking at the screen from a significantly off-perpendicular angle (similar to sitting on the floor and looking up at a TV from a close distance), with the angle being worse the farther up the ballot screen I was looking, and thus parallax would cause me to perceive the check boxes as being lower on the screen than they actually were when putting my finger on them. This error would get worse as the viewing angle got worse. I'm 6' tall. This problem would be even worse for shorter people.

At least, I hope that parallax was the case, and it wasn't an intentional misprogramming of the touch screen to make it hard to vote for Republicans.

It'll be interesting to see how the third guy on the ballot (Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party) does. It'd be hard to detect a small amount of accidental vote switching between McCain and Obama since it's a pretty tight race here and from the looks of things, most people are expected not to vote electronically. But if Baldwin does mysteriously a lot better than expected, and it just so happens that all his votes come from electronic machines rather than the paper or mail-in ballots, well now then we'd have something to talk about.

Monday, October 20, 2008

OK, I Lied

I didn't actually turn on comment moderation. I didn't need to, because everyone always agrees with me already.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Post of the Beast

This is my 666th blog post to Me, CherkyB (though as we've covered before, I deleted the very first one, so only 665 are publicly available). Ahh, the good times we have had. I still remember the first death threat I got in the comments section. Plus, you know, I've occasionally had to delete a few racist comments from various members of my wife's extended family operating under the cover of made-up names, but not made-up IP addresses.

You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can't shake her family, as they say.

I'd like to note that, through it all, I've kept my comments section open, allowing both sides of the debate a free flow (except for, as I said, the removal of occasional racists comments).

But all that is about to change.

The upcoming election is just too important for me to allow people from both sides to leave comments on my blog. It is, after all, my blog, for which I pay absolutely nothing because Google has found a way to extract money from evil capitalists in order to grant me a free free free blogger account and a free blog (hell, 4 of them if you count just my household), and if you'd like to express your opinion, unless you plan to agree with me, you will need to get your own blog.

By the way, I highly recommend just agreeing with me. I am, after all, the most intelligent person you know.

So anyways, starting now, I will be enabling comment moderation. I will use this to filter out comments from people that I have deeply offended by dismissing their heartfelt convictions as those of the stupid, ignorant rubes who live in places different from where I live and who read different newspapers and go to different churches.

You see, by moderating comments, I will be able to make it appear as though everyone agrees with me. As they should, mind you. I will be able to put the brakes on crazy talk by rabid adherents to discredited political orthodoxy.

And I will, at last, be able to make fun of Canadians without fear of one responding. Eh?

So comment away, and see which ones make it through my filter. See if you are one of the anointed.

Let the civil discourse begin!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

To My Loyal Fans

Who have all been contacting me in one way or another to complain about the lack of recent posting, I'd like to issue this official statement:

F'k you. I'll post when I have something worth saying. You should try it some time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

They're Not All Winners 1

OK, folks. I've decided to introduce a new, recurring installment here that I have called, "They're Not All Winners." Allow me to explain:

As you all know by now, I am a remarkably funny individual. My gift for humor knows virtually no bounds. However, it does in fact know some bounds. I am, after all, merely a human like everyone else, albeit substantially better in most respects.

This feature will document those things that seemed like they'd be funny right up until I said them, and then they just didn't really deliver. I don't expect this to be a very frequently recurring feature because, while they may not all be winners, a man of my talent delivers primarily winners. Plus, how many posts that say, "It was like prom night all over again," do you actually need?

So here you go. Episode one. Save it, it'll be a collector's item some day.

It's garbage night tonight, so I was emptying the garbages throughout the house. I was holding the garbage bag from the laundry room (a bag that is transparent plastic), tying a knot at the top, when MaxieC pointed to it:
MaxieC: "It's not empty!"

Me, CherkyB: "It's not supposed to be empty. That's why I'm taking it out."

The Mrs.: "No. He meant the potato chip bag."

Me, CherkyB: [noticing potato chip bag in the garbage bag] "Oh. It's empty. It just doesn't look empty because Momma filled it with tampons."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Mrs. Loves Me

The Mrs.: "I have something to ask you."

Me, CherkyB: [Uh oh] "What?"

The Mrs.: "If we lose all our money and you get all depressed and you decide to end it all, just shoot yourself. The kids and I will be OK. I've been poor before. We can live through it. Don't feel like you need to end all our suffering."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

FreddyC has lost interest in the bone

The Mrs.: "Yeah, who hasn't?"

Me, CherkyB: "It's like he was married."
And thus ended this afternoon's session of fetch with the squeaky bone.

The Childrens, ever the creative sort, decided FreddyC needed a Halloween costume this year. So they snuck off to the basement and cobbled something together.

Me, CherkyB: "Wow. You dressed him as a clown! That's great!"

HannahC: "No. We dressed him as a Democrat. Do you think we can take him to blue people houses and they'll give him candy? I mean, they won't realize he's a dog, cuz they're sooo stupid."
Certificate of truthfulness not valid on the previous story.

I call this photo, "We're missing a bag of chips, and I don't know who could have taken it."

HannahC passed out invitations to a costume party she was hosting at 6:15pm. She passed out the invitations at 6:05pm, so we didn't have a lot of time to prepare. I think what she did was to check the start time of Sunday Night Football on the DirecTV listing, and then select that exact time as the start time for the party. Someone should really get a beating for that.

HannahC put on one of her numerous princess costumes. MaxieC went with the time-tested Buzz Lightyear costume that he has finally grown into this year. The Mrs., always the festive one, put on a Mexican hat from Chevy's.

It was a dance party, so here is the crowd dancing to one of those kid mixes of popular songs:

I, of course, am an artist. Thus, I can't just show up with a funny hat on (or is it racist to call a giant Mexican hat with a restaurant's name sewed on it "funny"?). No, I had to spend a little time on the old costume.

At first, I had this smashing idea that I should put on one of The Mrs.'s party dresses and some lipstick and go as The Mrs. But, as I looked through her closet, I realized that nothing fit right. Everything was too chesty and too hippy. Plus, she's practically a midget compared to me, so the length was all wrong.

I did enjoy the breeze on my junk, though. I can see why women love dresses so much.

Then, I got a great flash. I could put on a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt and look perturbed! I could use my own sweats, so that they fit.

But, I decided that would be too obscure.

So, instead, I went as Captain Roadkill, the hero who travels the highways of America saving roadkill from rotting and making sure that people have meat for dinner.

Dance like there's nobody watching.

Though, of course, when you're as good looking as I am, everyone always is.

Friday, October 03, 2008

MaxieC, Musical Humorist

MaxieC has been playing with my 3rd grade recorder. Tonight, he was tooting away, and suddenly he started waving it in The Mrs.'s face.

MaxieC: "It's a butthole!"

MaxieC: "Sniff it!"

MaxieC: "It smells like pooooop."

Something Not to Do 18

Let's say, purely hypothetically, that you are sitting at your bar chatting with your wife, and she says, "So, Erin and I are preparing for the winter."

No matter how funny and/or appropriate you may think it, you really should not respond with, "Oh? You're putting on fat?"

That would be Something Not to Do.™

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Thank you very much

I just went to use the basement terlet, and as I stepped on the little u-shaped shag throw rug that goes in front of it, I noted that it was awfully, awfully sopping wet. A quick whif confirmed my suspicions. Now I have to change my socks and wash my feet.

Wonderful. Just wonderful.


OK, I'm back. I put the rug in the shower and rinsed it well. When it dries, I'll carry it upstairs to throw in the wash.

I can imagine one of my regular readers saying, "I wanna puke," at this point.

I've been trying to kill off bottles in the bar to make room for their replacements. I was close to running out of a lot of things, but not actually out of anything. So now I have all these brand-new 1.75L bottles sitting on the counter. Like swimming pools and big breastesess, I think this falls under the attractive nuisance category of tort law.

I have thus far managed yesterday to finish off the old vodka, the result of which was my decision that it would be a good idea to have a co-blogger on my weather blog. Tonight, I need to hit either the gin or the Crown Royal.

Now, I'll tell ya, I really like Crown Royal. But ever since Hillary Clinton used it as a prop during a campaign stop, I've been somewhat uncomfortable drinking it. I don't want people to think that I take my fashion advice from Hillary. [As an aside, I always found it odd that none of the press coverage of that event noted that she turned down an American whiskey for a Canadian one. Probably nobody noticed because it wasn't Chardonnay.]

A strange thing about this, though, is that when I smoke cigars, I worry not at all that people will think I'm some kind of fat-chick-loving pervert. I wonder if this means that deep down inside, I am actually a sexist. Or if it only means that Bill is just way cool compared to his missus. You know, as far as radical leftists go, Bill really is way cool. Most of them are just dreadful scolds, invention of the internet notwithstanding.

You've talked me into it. I'm having the Crown Royal. Here's a picture:

I hope you don't think me a socialist. But you'd really have to have not been paying attention to make that mistake.

The problem here is that it is going to be at least an hour before that bad boy kicks in, and I need to finish off this post and head to bed quite soon.