May, 2006 Archives

Personally, I love high gas prices, but if you’re feeling the sting, maybe this used car ad that Em spotted today will appeal to you:

VANGUARD: 1974 Citicar, Electric. Needs new batteries, otherwise complete. $500 or Best.

Five hundred bucks! Sounds like a bargain. But have you ever seen a Citicar? We hadn’t even heard of one before, so I asked Google for a picture.

I'm an electric car, I don't go very fast, and I don't go very far

Wow. I mean… wow. If I had $500 sitting around, let’s just say I’d be very tempted. Of course, it has a blistering top speed of 38 miles and hour, and can only go about 50 miles before needing a charge. On the other hand, the chicks would be all over you in this sweet machine.

Last yeah, when Em and I moved into a third floor apartment, we had the oh-so-enjoyable experience of moving not one, but two saltwater fish tanks. This involved catching wily fish, removing rocks covered in bristleworm spines (which I believe are still stuck in my fingers somewhere), filling multiple buckets with water and sand and fish, then moving it all up a winding staircase. This stirs up all kinds of muck and stresses the fish out, big time.

So we had one tank that had lived with me, and one tank that had lived with Em, both needing to a place in our new digs. Unfortunately, these tanks couldn’t be combined, since they both housed a type of clownfish, which, though you’d never know from watching cute little Nemo, are notoriously bitchy when it comes to their personal space. Throw two adult clownfish together and usually you get some sort of fight to the death. (not cool at $30 a fish!)

Luckily, thanks to friend of bil.com Pete, we had a 30 gallon tank collecting dust, and thanks to Home Depot, a sheet of thin acrylic was an easy acquisition. Inspired, Em crafted a tank divider with small holes drilled in it to allow water flow, but to keep those bitchy clownfish apart. The result? Two tanks in one!

Our 30 gallon tank

This made maintenance a lot easier, of course, and it also made a great display for our living room. Em’s dad made the beautiful top to hide the lights, and we’ve been enjoying our peacefully co-existing tank ever since.

Next week: The porthole!

(PS, I think this idea of a giant see-through barrier may work for keeping Mexicans out of the US. Someone should float that idea to Congress…)

Fish Stuff Friday: The Tank

Thank God for the Red Sox, because I don’t think I would be able to go 19 weeks without another episode of Lost to infuriate me (in a good way!). America’s favorite plane crash survivors ended their second season this week, also ending season one of Bil and Em’s Lost parties. And only a few weeks after we got this bad boy to watch Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and Meriadoc Charlie (mostly Kate) in glorious high def.

Anyway, the finale was pretty awesome, no? So much new stuff to chew on! Are Michael and Walt really leaving the island? “Henry Gale” is the leader of the Others?! And what was that statue? The Collosus of Springfield is my guess. Oh yeah, and Locke, Eko and Desmond might all be dead. Damn you, Lost!

Oh man, I’m going to go watch it again, while browsing these forums and looking for clues on the Hanso Foundation site.

Next episode: October 4th, followed by six more new ones, then the holidays, then 18 straight episodes starting in February. Or you could just keep an eye on this site.

Lost for the Summer

So I was thinking about posting on Mondays about whatever I’ve been listening to most over the the previous week. That was Sunday. Now it’s Wednesday, and I’ve spent the last 2 days meaning to write about how amazing Sufjan Stevens is, and how his album Illinois has been by far the most played playlist in my iTunes for the past year. But how to say that without gushing and sounding stupid, ay, there’s the rub.

Fortunately for all of us, it came to my attention today that my favorite band released their new album this week: In With the Out Crowd [iTunes Music Store link]. Using some iTMS credits from Christmas, I bought it this afternoon and have been giving it a first listen. Except for two friends, one of whom is in his annual “off the face of the earth” period, I don’t know anyone else who really likes LTJ, so I won’t go into a review (also, I suck at “reviews”). But, if you’ve got some extra cash sitting around, or on the off chance you want to feel like you’re getting to know Bil better, give this album a listen. It’s definitely a good time.

We’re back from Philadelphia, where, despite the city supposedly having city-wide wifi, I was completely disconnected for three days. How was our trip? Philly was awesome, driving home sucked, and driving down sucked even more. I’ve got lots of good stories, and a couple pics to share, so that’s what’s on tap for this week. Meanwhile, a day of driving and a stop at Ikea means bed time for me. Talk to you tomorrow!

… I hear it’s like a baby New York.

Anyway, since I got no bites on my offer of Phillies tickets, and since the rain kept Em from going out into the field today, we’re heading down to Philadelphia tonight. I imagine I’ll track down some Wi-Fi, so if anyone has any suggestions on what to do there, let me know. And don’t say cheese steak!

Going To Philly

I can’t believe I hadn’t heard this before, but I just read that Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal tech columnist, and perhaps the most powerful man in Silicon Valley, cut his teeth working for the ProJo in my hometown of Warwick, RI. I like reading Mossberg’s column in the Sunday paper (even though I wouldn’t consider myself part of his target audience).

Are you saying to yourself “Walt Mossberg, where have I heard that name recently?” Perhaps you’re recalling Warren (from one of my favorite shows, Ed) talking to The Daily Show’s John Hodgman about how awesome Macs are? Yeah. That was it.

Back to that Wired article from above, it also says that Walt used to hang out in Warwick with his best friend, James Woods. Just another data point for (Dilbert creator) Scott Adams’s theory about famous people knowing famous people before they were famous.

I’ve got a pair of tickets for the Red Sox/Phillies game this Friday night, 7pm, if anyone is interested in buying them. The drive to Philly is pretty easy, four and a half hours or so from central RI. I bet you can get a hotel room for wicked cheap on Priceline.com, too. The Phillies play in a brand new stadium, and if you’ve never been to a new ballpark, I highly recommend it.

I bought tickets to Friday and Saturday night’s game, but we’re not going to make it down for Friday night. So if anyone’s interested, you can get them for face value (I think they’re $20 each. Here’s the view). Take the afternoon off of work, drive down, grab a cheesesteak, and check out the game.

Email me or leave a comment if you’re interested.

Baseball is a weird sport. Remember when, only two or three years ago, the Sox couldn’t buy a win against the Baltiore Orioles? When, despite a terribly average team, the O’s would take three out of every four games we played against them? Man are those days over!

Even the suddenly terrible Curt Schilling couldn’t give away last night’s game, the 13th win in the last 13 contests between your Red Sox and the Orioles. I love it! Boston’s won nine of its last twelve. That’s, like, awesome. Too bad tonight’s the last game of the series, I wish we could stay in Baltimore for another month.
Of course, now it looks like the Blue Jays have been handed the baton for owning the Red Sox. Stupid birds…

(And while we’re on baseball, how the HELL does a team come back from being down 10-1?! Gah. Effin Yankees.)

Birds on a Wire

I read President Bush’s statement on immigration to the nation just now. It was good. I wouldn’t be sending National Guard out to the border (despite assurances to the contrary, it seems to me that they’ve been pretty busy these last few years), but on balance it was an altogether logical and coherent position. But then, when you have pretty much no credibility, you can sneak these sensible ideas in and no one will notice. (Up is Down watch: sending 6,000 soldiers somewhere doesn’t actually constitute militarization. OK.)

The thing that bugs me about the immigration debate we’ve been sort of having in America recently is the absolute cluelessness most people have about the effect$ of illegal immigration on their lives. Simply stated, a LOT of things are really inexpensive because of cheap, undocumented, immigrant labor. You can’t have your tacos and talk to the cooks, too.

This is the dirty little secret of the immigration debate. Far too many people are willing to mislead or be misled about this issue: that illegals are taking our jobs, driving up our taxes, covertly replacing English with Spanish at Lowe’s, and so on. That’s the easy, xenophobic aspect that we’ll always have roiling under the surface of a civilized world (I think it’s biological, which doesn’t excuse anyone’s bigotry, of course).

A lot of “realistic” people say that immigrants are doing the jobs that Americans don’t want, but that’s only sort of true. They’re doing the jobs that Americans won’t do… for cheap. Hey, I’ll clean toilets for $50 an hour, but not for $5. Of course, if toilet cleaning costs $50/hr, that McWhopper is about to go way up in price (especially once the counter help gets wind of how much the janitor’s making!)

And since I can’t resist: The president thinks that American employers would gladly follow the law, if only they weren’t tricked by those crafty immigrants and their fake papers (man, for all the tut tutting at those pesky undocumented Mexicans being criminals, I don’t hear as much about those felonious corporations breaking the law by hiring them. And since the law’s the law, I’m going to call you all criminals too. Bet you a dollar you broke the speed limit today…) Here’s a tip for our nation’s job creators: if you’re paying Pablo $2 an hour, and you have to lock him in the store overnight, that photocopied work visa might not be legit…

It’s the Money

Bil does not condone gambling

This is going straight into the new TV fund…

Yeah Baby!

My mom, though wonderful, is not inspiring me to post on Mother’s Day. Instead, let’s move up (down?) the family tree to Nana, my 85 year old Italian grandmother. Some of you know Nana, and some have even enjoyed her cooking. I shall call you the lucky ones. For my other friends, you’ll have to settle for whatever authentic flavor is imparted to my cooking, since I use a lot of utensils I pilfered from her kitchen.

The unfortunate reason that I was able to steal her well-worn culinary implements is, simply, she’s not going to get much use out of them anymore. After 10 years of living on her own, the burdens of age have forced her to a nursing home. This is sad, as anyone who has ever visited any building filled with dependent elderly folk can attest. However, it’s a gold mine for anyone with a penchant for black humor.

(This may not sound funny at all, but if you knew Nana…)

Visiting a few weeks ago, in her slightly broken english, the family was told repeatedly how much poor Nana dislikes her new home. She asks God, half praying, half scolding, to take her home. And not the home in North Providence, if you catch my drift. To her late husband: “Tommy, why you forget me?” “Nana, do you like the new chair we brought in for you?” “Eh. I’m going to die in that chair anyways.” Hilarious! In fact, my mom told me today that Nana was reprimanded by a nurse for too much swearing. “I hate this goddamned place,” every day.

I think it’s all talk though. I know the truth. She’s waiting for Buddy Cianci to get out of jail. She wants to vote for “her Buddy”, at least one last time. Happy Mother’s Day, Nana!