A locus for eccentrics (hopefully)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I've opened your eyes, you're now colour-blind.

I love this shit.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Guy in my Parking Garage with a 911 Turbo is Going to be So Pissed When I Hit it With My 1992 Accord

I don't even have internet access yet at my new place, since I'm wrestling with

1. My anti-Comcast position and how it relates to the fact that a cable modem is just much, much faster (potentially) than DSL and

2. The nagging suspicion that it doesn't really matter how fast my broadband is, because I'm no longer in a position to be sitting at my computer for 3 straight hours on a Tuesday afternoon browsing for pornography.


You can look forward to these reviews, in no particular order:

A) The 2005 Kia Sorrento
B) CostCo (quick hit--your savings on alcohol will pay for the $50 membership by itself)
C) A Romanian beer named "Urso."
D) Sole occupancy of a full-size refrigerator

And if you're real lucky, you'll even hear how my latest moving experience ended up involving a sledgehammer, a car jack, and a lot of almost-not-totally-feigned prayer.

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As the first lady files in last night to the upper balcony, and I see a ridiculously tall black man take his place next to her, I comment, "Who the fuck is that, Dikembe Mutumbo?"

Imagine my chagrin.

Seriously, Mutumbo? Dude needs to lay off the purple kool-aid.

I also recommend visiting the interactive NYT page that melds all the Prez's speeches together, and allows you to search across speeches using specific vocabulary:
Try: climate change, mass destruction, surplus, extremists, and sunni, to start.

P.S. That's Dike rejecting none other than Kendell Gill in the photo. Shweeet!


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Beatbox and hum at the same time? I'd never seen that before, so hey.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


We all know that teachers are underpaid.


It turns out that it's actually just that almost all teachers are underpaid. While trying to figure out what sales tax in DeKalb is, I found a document that listed the highest-paid public school employees for the 2003-2004 season in DeKalb County. Mr. Holt, the junior driver's ed instructor, made $91k.

True, he's the public school instructor most likely to be killed in the line of duty--or at least, he was when I was there; I understand that DHS is rapidly ghetto-izing these days--but Christ on a fucking crutch that's a lot of money.

Edit: here's the link for DeKalb County figures. No idea where to find the data for UIUC or anywhere else.

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Guy Tarkington gets back to basics

Lately, I feel that my life has gotten too complicated.

I carry too many devices (cell phone, iPod, automatic orange juicer) and have to remember too many numbers: My Social Security number (438-01-2906) my checking account number (Routing number 0009898 account number 246301) and answers to reminder questions (Mitochondria, Cameroon and I know it was you Fredo)

So, I have given up my 1991 Toyota Corolla and get around on one of these numbers. The 1883 Bayliss Thomas. To left, is a picture of me riding to work.

Overall, it's been a great experience: It's just me and my bike, thrusting forward on my own power. No gas stations. Nothing separating me and nature. It's just me and my Bayliss, pedaling away on the shoulder of a major freeway as morning commuters whiz past me at 80 miles per hour.

My getting back to the basics hasn't been without problems, though. For one, the first day I rode to work some ASSHOLE stole my back wheel. Do you know how hard those things are to find?? I had to pay $200 to get one off eBay. I don't even want to think how much the front wheel costs.

Secondly, as aerodynamic as it looks, this bike is hard to maneuver. Once, I was riding across a busy lunchtime crosswalk and someone bumped into me and I fell off. Well, can I tell you how hard it is to get back on this bike, especially after the crosswalk light has turned red, and a city bus nearly collides into you, and a man on a motorcycle is swearing at you?

Some sample dialog: "Hey, fuck off! I'm trying to get back on! This isn't as easy as it looks!"

I finally had to drag it out of the crosswalk by hand.

Not having a car has its drawbacks. One, fast food restaurants refuse to serve you through the drive-through, just because you're behind the wheel of the 1883 Bayliss Thomas. I promise you this, though: Arby's has NOT heard the last of Guy Tarkington. I don't care how delicious their food is, and at competitive prices.

Also, many women, mainly Mrs. Tarkington, don't like to be picked up from the doctor's office and pumped home on the handle bars of the Bayliss Thomas.

Food shopping. Have you ever tried bicycling down a busy sidewalk with a 50 pound bag of dog food in your arms? You don't want to, brother.

That is all.

Victory is Life

My apartment saga had a surprisingly positive ending. After I decided to cave in on Friday, I got a call from the Apartment People on Monday morning to say that Kass had decided to remove the 30-day unilaterial termination clause from the lease.

So, it only took 6 days to get them to remove a clause that, according to Chapter 5-12 of the Chicago tenant ordinance, was probably illegal anyway.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Yeah-what she said

Did anyone catch this special moment during the Fox coverage of Eagles-Saints on Saturday? I sure did. God bless the Saints fans.


The local Houston weatherwoman just referred to the current "wintery" weather (some rain; it might get below freezing tonight) as being "sorta like a mini-hurricane...because the power can go out." Semantics, schemantics!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Clash of the Titans

Has anyone else seen the ESPN show where they have this tournament of people playing each other in Madden? It's surprisingly watchable--I feel more emotionally involved than I typically do for any non-Bears game.

It also showcases how ridiculously bad the animations were for the first two Xbox 360 Madden games.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Home is Where the Heart Is

Edit: new developments at the bottom!

This is a "Dear Diary" sort of moment, where I'm going to write a post just to commit it for posterity, so bear with me. Exactly zero of the names of the other people involved in this saga have been changed in the interest of journalism.

Right before Christmas, I went to Chicago for a two day vacation/apartment finding spree with my girlfriend, in light of my new job that will be starting there at the end of January. This involved two multi-hour appointments with apartment finding services, as well as a number of individual appointments I had made on my own, mainly by contacting management outfits that had listed on rent.com, apartments.com, etc. There were some total disasters, but I ended up liking a high-rise unit in Lakeview, within walking distance of both the Lake and the Zoo. I applied, was accepted, and gave Apartment People (the finding service) a deposit of one month's rent + a $50 dollar credit check fee ($1260 in all). Excellent, I have good condition housing in a nice neighborhood with easy access to public transporation.

PS, I don't bring up the dollar figure just to show off what a baller I am--I just want to underscore that these are non-trivial amounts of money we're talking about, which is why I end up being so particular about the leasing terms. At any rate-- hey, excellent, I've found a place, and now I can have a holly, jolly Christmas/New Year's season.

BZZZZ! Try again, sucker. Two days later the processing department at Apartment People forwards me a lease rider from the company that's actually in charge of the building, Kass Management. The rider says that either party can terminate the lease agreement with 60 days' notice. That's a little odd, but also helps me in case I decide I hate the neighborhood, find a better place, and so on. I sign it and fax it back to them.

Much later--the week of January 1st--I make contact with Kass, since all of the nuts and bolts of signing the lease (which I haven't seen yet at this point) are handled directly between the tenant and the management company, not the finding service (Apartment People, in this case). Keep in mind I've already signed the rider at this point. Ross LeBeau, property manager at 3033 N. Sheridan Rd, says he'll overnight the lease documentation to me for signing.

I don't actually see the lease until this past Monday night, January 8, both because "overnight" actually turned out to be "2nd Day" and because I was in Ann Arbor visiting said girlfriend over the weekend. In the flesh (paper?), the lease has several important contradictions that anyone with even a cursory familiarity with English would have been able to spot. MOST importantly, it contains an addendum that says the lessor can cancel the lease with 30 days' notice.

Which wins out in a pit fight between an Addendum and a Rider? Beats the hell out of me--I might know all sorts of interesting math that describes contracting arrangements, but not the legal scholarship that gets involved with moving from the general to the specific. So I call Ross, who has no idea that that addendum clause exists, and says he'll get back to me once he talks to someone higher-up.

You can probably see where this is going.

Since Ross doesn't call me back like I asked him to, I check in the next afternoon (yesterday). He says, without any elucidation, "Yeah, it's in there." Naive-ly caught offguard, I thank him for this time and give it some thought. There are a number of high-rises that seem to be converting to condos, particularly closer to the city, including units that I saw and rejected for that reason (ie, units where an early, one-sided termination clause was actually known to the finding-agent I was working with, Bobby Talamine. Straight shooter--I'd recommend him).

At this point, I check back with the processing department at the Apartment People. A very nice woman, Anna, suggests that I call Ross back the next day, tell him flat-out that I'm not goign to sign off on this one-sided termination clause, and that if it doesn't work out, I'm to call her back and they'll get involved on their end.

This morning, Ross--only God knows what sort of culpability he has in this disaster at this point--refers me to Gaby, someone else at Kass who's actually responsible for leasing. She doesn't work on Thursdays. I leave her a voice mail, and check back with Anna. She's of the opinion that we ought to wait to hear back from Gaby before making a next move. That's reasonable, except for the idea that I have a truck reservation to move a week from tomorrow. Needless to say, if this building (3033 N. Sheridan--if Google indexes this page, I'd like to put the worde out there) isn't going to work out, I'll need to get back on the horse mighty quick. She puts me back in touch with Bobby, my original apartment-finding agent, who says he'll call Ross himself and try to get to the bottom of this, and call me back later this afternoon.

Wrinkle #1: Ross calls me about 30 minutes later and asks if I'd be amenable to just cancelling the agreement outright, because he "doesn't want to hold it off the market any longer." I tell him that since I still don't even know *why* this has even become an issue, that I'll need to hold off on that one until I find out more. For the historical record, I didn't like his tone at all. This isn't my fault, you twat.

Edited portion start:
Wrinkle #2: Ross called again to reiterate his desire to re-market the apartment. When I asked if that would involve a full refund, he said that they were entitled to damages per the application agreement I signed with the Apartment People. I pointed out to him that every delay in this process has been the result of Kass' unwillingness to disclose information and that it was his idea to cancel in the first place, he said that he would "consult with the laywers." You do that.

Wrinkle #3: Gaby the Leasing Woman left a voicemail saying that the lease rider (60-day termination agreement) was void and that I needed to sign the addendum. Never mind that I already signed and returned the rider to them (via the Apartment People) on December 22nd, or that their addendum is actually illegal and unenforcable according to section 5-12-140 of the Chicago City Tenant Ordinance. I'm currently waiting to hear back from Anna of the Apartment People processing office about a conference call between her, Ross and Gaby.

So where do we stand?

1- Kass Management is obviously trying to condo-fy the building, and either Ross is trying to keep that on the down-low in order to get some sucker to rent the place for a month or two until a buyer moves into the unit, or he wasn't informed. Is it better for your landlord to either lie to you outright or to be grossly incompetent and uninformed?

1A- Perhaps needless to say, the economics of buying a condo in a high-rise are disasterous for the buyer. You're going to take out a 35 year mortgage to build equity in a room in a building that you don't own, on property you don't own either? You're going to be responsible for all repairs and improvements for an apartment that's also exposing you to who knows what externalities from the other 100+ yahoos who live in the tower? Are you out of your fucking mind?

2- It pays to ask questions. Although I still have trust in the Apartment People that they didn't know about this change in leasing terms from Kass--especially since my agent already warned me about an identical clause at a different building, and particularly since the agent's own livelihood really gets enhanced by repeat customers who don't get burned at a later point in the process. That doesn't mean I should have insisted harder that Kass show me a lease earlier.

2A- "Parking is available here for $X uncovered, $(X + delta) covered" isn't the same thing as "parking is actually available once you move in here." I also chose this place because it had reasonably priced parking, which made up for not being in walking distance of a major grocery store. It turns out that the reason it's reasonably priced is that its nominal price is way south of what the market price for parking in that neighborhood is; the waiting list is 6-8 months. Not a grossly unfair leasing term, and not something I would be comfortable going to war about (since it was at least partially my fault for not double-checking on that when I called Bobby back to say I'd take the apartment to begin with), but it warrants mentioning.

3- This is trite, but I suppose it bears mentioning: if it's too good to be true... the unit I was/am interested in was something like $70 dollars a month cheaper than places I saw in Lincoln Park proper, included a free month's rent and free cable TV, and was north of 800 sq ft. C'est la vie.

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Man, not good

So if you had asked me for the past few months, "should MLS pay a mint to bring David Beckham?" I would have told you, yes, it is worth paying more than market value to bring him to MLS and bring some interest to MLS which has already developed a very solid core of competent but not spectacular American and Central American players.

Then I read this. Beckham comes to MLS for 250 million dollars.

Are you fucking kidding me? 250 million dollars for five seasons? I doubt he could have made 100-150 million dollars for 5 seasons in Europe. So we paid a ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR PREMIUM to bring him to the US? For the last few years, I've thought we needed to bring some international stars to MLS to hopefully improve creativity. I didn't think this would turn into a New York Cosmos situation (where the entire league tore itself apart by bringing in aging international stars and paying them too much). But the price of this signing could potentially tear MLS apart, almost by itself. This is a horrible move. Not at this price. We don't need him this bad. I feel like this could even be the beginning of the end of MLS. I watch it periodically; this wasn't what I wanted.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Arrest That Man; He Speaks in Maths

One of the numerous axes that stats-minded sports fans (like the guys at FJM, who I can't recommend enough) like to grind is that coaching almost certainly matters a lot less than you think. "Coaching," as a variable, is of course nearly impossible to measure in the first place. You might know it when you see it, with broad strokes; we can probably agree that football coaches who don't know when to use timeouts (Herm Edwards, Art Shell) or baseball managers who don't understand the relationship between fatigue and injury (Dusty Baker) suck, but beyond that it's really hard to say anything meaningful about whether one coach is "better" than another.

The effect of coaching is similarly murky. Gregg Easterbrook's TMQ column this week argues that the perceived impact from preparation and planning is overstated because of an observer bias that likes to think that someboldy's at the controls. I tend to agree with that, but would also add that there's quite a bit of rent-seeking among commentators and pundits in the sports media. Many of them are former players whose endorsement deals depend on the perception that there's more going on than a child's game in which the better players are usually going to win; many of them are former coaches who want to get back into the game, and their career prospects depend on a wealthy owner believing that they have an Answer that no one else posesses.

Or more simply, the whole brutal charade of the post-game show, pre-game show and highlights show can only exist so long as enough viewers think that there's something that Howie Long knows about NFL football that they don't (even when it's abundantly, painfully clear that it's not true).

Which brings me to my original motivation for writing this post. The only franchise that seems to have any grasp of this is the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have had exactly two (2) coaches in the last 37 years. Bill Cowher, who resigned the other day, has had some very good seasons (2 Super Bowl appearances; one win) and a couple of poor seasons. In particular, he's done well with good rosters and had losing records with shitty ones. He won a Super Bowl the year before last with a 2nd year QB playing out of his gourd and an aging star RB that the rest of the team rallied around; this season he went 8-8 after that QB almost killed himself in a motorcycle accident and the RB retired to a career of laughing at awkward jokes from Sterling Sharpe.

And since those are the things that determine how many games you win, there's precious little point in throwing good money after bad to hire, say, Nick Saban.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Ah, finally, Indie begins to eat itself

I was listening to a program this evening that runs down the most requested songs at our local commercial indie radio station. Generally it's rather solid. Increasingly, though, Indie music seems to be becoming something else; some sort of grotesque self parody.

Then they got to #1, and played one of the worst, most self indulgent, unlistenable songs I've ever heard. It was by the Fiery Furnaces and it was called "I'm in No Mood." I've heard the name before; people have suggested they're great to me. What followed was like a fucking bunch of really pretentious assholes got together and decided to make a song imitating retarded people playing children's instruments. I literally could not listen to the whole thing. It was *horrible.* I suggest you guys go out and find it to see what I'm talking about. Number one most requested, huh? Awesome. Good thing these people don't own a TV, otherwise this would never have been created.

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It's a hoot

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Maddux the cat (left);

Hands of a Master (below right);

A Thousand Rays of Light (below left)

P.S. Jeff Garcia sux.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Wireless security setup can bite me

And while we're at it, Windows also can bite me.
Are you seriously telling me that you won't recognize WPA encryption?
Yet you will take the WEP, which is supposedly far inferior and outdated, with no problem?

This is another reason I would enjoy the switch to Macs. Their OS is soooooo much nicer to use than Windows. You do pay for it though.

But, just in case any of you have to do this (also, I recommend being well caffeinated before attempting any such thing), I found several useful sites here, here, here, here, and here.

Also: I'm a big fan of del.icio.us. Useful for transferring work bookmarks to home. Hells yea.

And before I get too angry about the wireless networking, I have to remember this was American life 60 years ago.

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The death of the R rated action movie

...and I fucking lament that death. As I just e-mailed Neill, I was watching a tivoed recording of conan the barbarian. A fine fucking film I recommend everyone see. FINE. And it's R rated. Now on the AMC rebroadcast there weren't titties. But if I was watching it at the time, there would be titties, and importantly, there would be shit in there that I wasn't necessarily expecting. Shit that could be surprising. Some guy getting his head cut off? Yes. A hero dying or, for example, getting crucified? Yes. Non-CG scenery (from Spain in Conan's case) without any bullshit and plenty of extras and props? Yes. I can't believe the mass market shit that is getting passed of as action these days with a lame PG or PG 13 rating.

For exhibit A, go see one of the number one action movies of all time, Die Hard. Still to this day one of the all time greatest movies. Or my favorite movie of all time, the Road Warrior. Just completely on task no crap movies that don't always hold your hand and explain every mystery away.

On an 80s sort of note, I recommend seeing Conan for the main character chick involved--a blonde, Scandinavian type lady but with blemishes and not completely airbrushed into a porcelein doll like modern leading ladies, in particular in action movies. To continue this theme, just do a google search for playboy centerfolds throughout history--check out those 60s, 70s and even 80s ladies compared to the horrible plastic bullshit of the mid to late 90s and aughts.

Is this all just "In my day..." shit? Maybe, but I don't think so--early 80s mid 80s was *not* my day--I was born in 81. As much as I'd like to think I absorbed a lot of shit when I was 5 years old, I don't think I would. Fuck, my mom wouldn't let me! So I think it has something to do with something that has been lost in the movies and popular culture at some point.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I march in place.

Sometimes, I get so upset the only thing that calms me is marching in place.

Hup, two, three, four, I march in place.

I scrunch up my shoulders, knees up, two, up, two, my fists bouncing in time

To whatever life happens to be playing: a turning bicycle spoke. A lawn sprinkler. The mother saying Let go of me through a wall.

When you’re five or six years old, marching in place is perfectly acceptable, even cute. But not when you’re 38 and you live with your mother.

Some people don’t appreciate your holding up traffic with your marching, but the curses and honking only makes me march faster. Hup, hup, hup, knees up!

I never get anywhere, though. That’s the thing. Where is it you think you’re going, Guy? She says.

That's the thing: I don’t have to go anywhere. I’ve never been so depressed. I’m turning 39 soon.

Tom Waits' Orphans

So I've liked Tom Waits for a while, though by no means do I own his complete collection. Rain Dogs is fantastic, I've got some early compilations of his Asylum Records output, and I enjoy Mule Variations and Bone Machine, and I love watching him give an interview on the Late Night talk shows, just because he is so damn entertaining and a fantastic storyteller.

Recently, Mr. Waits came out with Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards. Apparently there was a limited edition CD set, complete with a 94-page booklet, which was initally put out; currently there's a readily-available digipak. So I ordered the limited edition via half.com, and it arrived in the mail over the holidays. I listen to most of my music via the computer and my small desktop speakers these days, but I put Orphans on the hi-fi last night. I can honestly say that the first disk alone (Brawlers) is one of the better things I have heard in quite some time. Briefly, Waits had a bunch of rarities and obscure tracks that he re-recorded for this album, along with some new songs too. Brawlers is the blues/rock record, Bawlers is his ballads, and Bastards is his, for lack of a better term, "out-there" stuff. I forgot how good this guy's voice is. It really is the highlight, and is always engaging. Fantastic stuff.

Tom Waits: "You Can Never Hold Back Spring"

Tom Waits: "Bottom of the World"

Tom Waits: "Lord I've Been Changed"

YouTube: "Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis"

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