Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day - be a patriot

Let's get something out of the way here. Liberals love America. Conservatives love America. Everyone loves America. There is no difference between the two, as the post-9/11 reactions proved. Although this isn't a point that even needs to be "proven," because that gives some people the power to act as sole defenders of the flag.

We have, of course, for years been subjected to a false premise - that in order to love America, you have to support anything our troops do, and in order to support our troops, you have to support all of Bush's policies. Fortunately, finally, this spell is breaking a bit. At the same time that it has less resonance, it is being cast in an increasingly shrill manner by many commentators, like 45-year-old Harry Potters upset that their wizardry no longer works and resorting to shouting out the spells in hopes of overwhelming nature.

Let's review a few facts.

1. It is patriotic to concern yourself with America's greatness. This includes its standing in the world.
2. It is patriotic to expect America and Americans to do the right thing whenever faced with the option. It is patriotic to speak up when a small group of soldiers does the wrong thing and kills dozens in cold blood. Doing this does not lower our standing in the world, it shows that we take responsibility and punish those who act contrary to our beliefs. By covering it up and not taking action, the right to commit atrocities becomes our beliefs.
3. It was wrong to invade Iraq. It in no way "supports our troops" by continuing this folly. Support them by bringing them home now.
4. President Bush has not done a single thing that "supports our troops." He sends them to their death in wars of choice, doesn't give them sufficient armor or even food, uses crony capitalists like Halliburton for support, poisoning them with tainted food and water, cuts vet benefits, tries to cut combat pay, charges them for equipment that gets blown off, makes them buy their own tickets home from Germany, back-door drafts them, etc. etc. You can not name a single thing that Bush has done to support our troops.
5. Everything in point 4, repeated again. With the note that criticizing Abu Ghraib does not put our troops at risk. Doing all the crap in #4 does.
6. Tax cuts don't pay for wars. What a crappy idea.
7. Yellow ribbons don't do shit. They're out of fashion. You want to help America, stop driving an Escalade. Stop bragging that you're supporting the troops when you are doing all you can to make more oil wars unavoidable.
8. Escalades just really suck.
9. Illegally collecting everyone's phone records (and in some cases, all Internet traffic) hasn't led to a single terror arrest. This country is not crawling with terrorists, despite Bush's implications.

Once again, tell me a single thing that Bush has done to actually support our troops. I know, it's a stumper.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Nikon D200 manual, Page 16

Rotate the diopter adjustment control until the focus brackets are displayed in sharp focus when the shutter-release button is pressed halfway. When operating the diopter adjustment control with your eye to the viewfinder, be careful not to put your fingers or fingernails in your eye.
Wait, what did Nikon tell me? Never put fingernails in your eye. Never put fingernails in your eye. Always put fingernails in your eye. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHH MY EYE!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wildlife thought of the day

Channel 4 should hire a squirrel to do sportscasts. They could call him Len Vermin. ISN'T THAT ADORABLE???

Monday, May 22, 2006

Lost camera

The first rule of successful photography is to not suck.

Unfortunately, I violated that rule a week ago. I brought my camera to work (it's an expensive model, too). Took some photos. Brought it home. And left it on the train.

I left my damn D200 on the LIRR. I didn't even realize it for a few days because I've been frazzled. A few days later I went to get it, and there was no D200. The shelf was empty. I looked everywhere. I realized that the camera was not in the house, and I hadn't used it since the previous Friday.

There was no way i was ever getting it back. There was $3000 in gear in that bag. I should have felt like crying, but I've been on Zoloft lately so I got frustrated that I wasn't feeling more upset.
I called the LIRR Lost and Found and left a message. No one was there until Monday. I started gathering up all my receipts. I fought my way through the homeowners policy. It turns out that these policies cover just about any damage to any of your belongings, which is great! They also have something called Form HO 23 95. This has the unusual title of "Off-Premises Theft Exclusion, NY." My policy has a special exception to avoid paying off if anything goes missing in the five boroughs, Nassau or Suffolk.

Horrible images started to course through my brain. My wonderful camera, born of the gray-market antics of HotBuys Electronics, would never be in my hands again. Some dumbass would be taking shitty pictures of his ugly kids with it, or would sell it to a fence for $50. They wouldn't even know how to use the flashes in TTL mode. I love my dead gray camera.

I got on the 7:15 train this morning, and when it pulled in on Track 20 just before 8:30 AM, I ran over to the Lost and Found office. It's set up sort of like a pawn office. There's a guy with a computer who sits behind bullet-proof glass. There are all kinds of cell phones and credit cards on the counter on his side, and a bunch of bins in an attached room, each labeled with the type of lost cell phone it contained. "Kyocera," "LG," "Motorola," but no "Nikon."

I described my bag exactly, including the contents. He gave me that "No one would ever turn that in" look, but then said "Yeah, I think we may have gotten that in, but it's in the manager's office. He's here at 8:30, but he's not here yet." With potential back in my heart, I gave him my name and cell number.

I hadn't heard from them by 11:15, so I called up. I got a different guy who was significantly more gruff, and who asked why it would be in the manager's office. I told him I didn't know, but that's what they said. He said he'd call back in 15 minutes and hung up. He didn't ask for my number.

At 11:45, I called again. I got the first guy on the line, and he said that yes, they had the bag. I said I'd come down right away. 30 minutes later, I described the exact contents of the bag, filled out a form, showed them my license, and got my bag back.

So now I have that weird feeling. I am overjoyed that I got back this bag that I never thought I would see again. I am grateful towards the honest employees (and possibly commuters) who made sure the bag got to where it had to go, with nothing missing. But really, I am only back to where I was a week ago.

Plus, I got a jury summons today.

Saturday, May 6, 2006

Where did my confiscated nail clippers go?

I just found them. They're being sold, along with other instruments of terror, on eBay.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Cynicor Sudoku fever: 5/4/06 challenge!

Today's Cynicor Sudoku is extra-challenging! It's regular Sudoku, with a twist. In this puzzle, you must fill in the grid so that every column, row, and 3x3 square adds up to exactly 9. There will be a billion dollar cash prize to the first person who submits the correct answer. Good luck!

Subway horror stories

Beyond the normal gross stuff that happens underground, I have three particularly memorable incidents that have occurred on the subways over the years.

1. Several years ago, at Penn Station, this weird drifter was standing near the turnstiles muttering incoherently. I went through the turnstile, and looked back. He made eye contact with me, said "I'll burn you. I got flame," and held a lighter towards me at arm's length.

2. Looking down at the track of the E train, these two rats were chasing each other. Suddenly, they met in a warm embrace and started humping away atop the rail just seconds before the train blew into the station.

3. This past Tuesday, I was walking from the LIRR to the 1/9 train uptown. (It has actually been renamed the 1 train, because they realized that the 9 train took an identical route.) There's this one area near the stairs that smells like, well, an abbatoir. Every day. It just reeks. It's this closed room next to the elevator.

On Tuesday, the floor in the passageway was wet. There was almost an inch of water on it, and two workers had those big scrubber machines trying to move the water towards a drain. The room itself had sprung a big, garbagey leak. Water was squirting out from between every tile on the bottom 12" or so of the wall.

If anyone out there is actually reading this, and is from New York, I have a challenge. In the comments, tell me about your worst mass transit experience.