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: Solids & Powders Replace Liquids: Per Leonard's posts, sometimes we use shampoo bars. I also use stick deodorant (Tom's of Maine or other non-mainstream stuff) and chew gum or use those little plastic strips for breath freshening. Thus, my usual liquid-carrying through airports constrains itself to a water bottle and toothpaste.

My recent trip to California took place after the TSA ban on liquids and gels. So I didn't take water, and I didn't get enough water on the flight, so I got mildly dehydrated. This probably facilitated the illness that got me down for three days in California, preventing me from visiting Berkeley and seeing and doing a lot of things I'd been looking forward to for weeks. Gar!

But the ban did give me a chance to take tooth powder on the plane as an experiment. My parents and other Indians have for decades used mildly abrasive powders, often including baking soda, to brush their teeth. You just rinse your mouth with water, sprinkle maybe half a teaspoon or a quarter teaspoon on your toothbrush, and start brushing. The leftover saliva and water turns the powder into a paste in your mouth. If you've ever read The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jean Merrill, remember the initial ingredients for the toothpaste. Tooth powder also takes up less room than toothpaste, since it doesn't have added water, glycerol, etc. (I assume this is also true of shampoo bars regarding liquid shampoo.)

I'm currently using Eco-Dent anise-flavored powder so I took it in my carry-on. The TSA folks in New York didn't care. The TSA screener in Oakland, on the way back, carefully looked through my bag because the X-ray had shown them a bottle.

"You'll have to check this," she said, holding up the Eco-Dent.

"My tooth powder?" I said.

"It's toothpaste," she said.

"No, it's a powder. It's not paste," I said, turning it upside down (while closed) and then opening it so she could see inside.

She was pleasantly surprised, and mentioned that she might acquire some to use when she flew. So I got through with some dentifrice, and one more person knows of the magic of toothpaste.

In the days right after the TSA ban, people started chortling over all the mightily wet solids the TSA could ban for consistency's sake. Watermelons! Cucumbers! Cooked beets! Candles, since it's so easy to melt them! And the human body is mostly water; should we get freeze-dried before flights and reconstituted upon delivery?

It really would be easier for us to just get sedated for the whole flight. After all, Leonard hates flying more than he hates the dentist; why shouldn't he get to go under for both? And if it's good enough for colony ships, it's good enough for spring break.

Or we could just anesthetize passengers the jetBlue way: TV for every seat. I watched a Project Runway marathon on the way home. Reality TV where people make something? Wow!

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: MC Masala on A Day Out: I took a friend to Roosevelt Island.

We walked down to the southern tip, where planted and overgrown greenery shaded a ruin from view. It used to house smallpox labs or patients, and now it can't even protect itself from the elements. There's a chain-link fence giving it a wide berth, but even from the other side we could see that the ceiling, windows, floors and walls were magnificently wrecked.

Ivy and other chlorophyll sprouted between the bricks and up through the holes.

"It looks like a cut scene from a video game," I said. It's where the kids go exploring in a horror movie, camping in tents on the precipice of the second floor.

I first visited the island with Jacob. Yay and welcome to Fog Creek as a perm, Jacob.

: Steve Yegge & "Clothes For the Soul": I generally enjoy Steve Yegge's blog posts; you can find lots of adoring swooning to that effect in my archives from the past year. Recently he posted some thoughts that weren't out of the ordinary for him: "Clothes for the Soul", he called it.

A few of his claims:

Please do let me know if you think I'm leaving out something absolutely essential, or misrepresenting these claims.

Well, I have thoughts on how our bodies and minds and social relationships interact. Anyone who's read sci-fi, or been nonwhite in the US, or nonmale or nontall or nonthin, has done a fair bit of musing on the topic. I've read an interesting NYT article on gender transitioning. I've thought about how awesome an orgasm-button implant or "a truly effective aphrodisiac for women" or "a neurobiofeedback machine that could help women learn to be superorgasmic" would be. But I think about tradeoffs, too. I think about the monoculture problem, and tonsillectomies and thalidomide, and gender imbalance and destabilized societies, and the fact that the mind is what the brain (receiving information from the rest of the body) does. And if we could flip, ad hoc, through all the bodies that the human race could offer us, would we take advantage of the available diversities of experience? Or would we have a race to the bottom, ending up with a severely narrowed point of view, a new and more stifling conformism? Well, outsiders will always play with 0wnz0ring their bodies, with drugs, tattoos, piercings, Atkins, and beyond; they'd dare to experiment with out-of-fashion body types, but I doubt most people would buck the crowd.

But! Even considering the problem with mind-body duality, or taking any kind of nuanced view on the unalloyed good of the cutting edge in bodymod, puts me on the wrong side of Steve Yegge -- because he raises the logical rudeness shields at the end of his piece and throughout the comment board. He condescends to people who ask questions, or who are addressing the world as it is, not as he imagines it might be. He calls them sheep.

The point of the article is that YOU are a SOUL. Your body -- including your race, gender, genetic makeup, all the things I know nothing at all about as we interact through the internet -- they're effectively just accidents. They don't matter. So you should be able to change them.

I would indeed like to be able to change some things about myself, in my mind and in my body, and am making slow progress towards them.

But, if I am a soul, I am a contingent one. An accident, a sperm and an egg meeting, created me. In fact, nearly all births of humans have been accidents in that way. And the accidents - gender, race, geography, teacher lotteries, weather, accent, car crashes, books being checked out from the library -- make us who we are. The accidents do matter. I can't extricate my soul from my past any more than water can extricate itself from wetness.

Yegge writes, "You're holding on to notions like 'race' and 'gender' that may literally be meaningless words within 100 years." He later takes off the qualifier:

...notions of "race" and "gender" are going to be obsolete in 100 to 200 years, hence racism and sexism will be roughly equivalent to pants-ism and shirts-ism...

It would be completely awesome for men to be able to switch into women, physically and psychologically, with a quick bit of outpatient surgery. I'm talking the ability to conceive and give birth, lactation, height and weight shifts, Venusian temperament, longer lifespan, the whole deal.

But until everyone can have kids, or no one has to (the dependable existence of willing incubators?), gender has a lot to do with who can depend on never getting pregnant and who can't.

Steve Yegge's focus on cosmetic Swatch-watchability tells me he thinks he's a brain in a jar. This is weird, since he's so aware of his body in another context. Then again, maybe he just thinks of it as a tool to manipulate.

He notes that he can't tell a person's race or gender over the Internet. Is he also blind to class in text? In his audience? (Race, gender, and class: the interconnecting triumvirate of historical analysis.) And does he think we won't have face-to-face contact in two hundred years? An interesting claim, but I'd want to see a plausible roadmap to getting rid of all our meatspace social needs.

And heck, there is pants-ism! And shirts-ism! If I go shirtless on a hot day, I'm breaking rules. If I wear pants instead of a skirt or dress, some people think I'm less womanly.

Generally speaking, though, I think it's pretty obvious to most rational people that the trend is towards having control over how you look, and there's nothing wrong with making yourself look better. If a change makes you happier, then it will almost certainly make the people around you happier too.
Well, who decides what's better? The "duh" answer is "you do, duh," but I am not an atom. Society influences me, and just as sexism in India and China plus sonograms turns people to selectively abort female fetuses, lookism in the US plus easy bodymod might have ill effects.

But Steve Yegge has declared logical rudeness on anyone who asks for clarification or details on his utopia. He strongly implies that anyone challenging him simply doesn't understand his claims. From the comments:

Jay, poor Jay, you're really having a rough time. I'm sorry this is so hard on you! Take a deep breath. Thaaaaat's better. Calm.

And there's more of that in the comments. I was really shocked and disappointed by the disrespect Yegge shows to people who challenge his claims; he calls them mad, scared, or uninformed.

I wouldn't have paid as much attention to his post and associated comments had he not earned so much respect from me with his many previous posts. The way he's treated his commenters on this seems out of character for him, so maybe this whole exercise is a prank. Either way, I'm wincing.

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: Transitive Friendship Failure: The geek social fallacies. Looking back, I've had mild cases of 1, 4, and 5. I can identify at least three past or present acquaintances with symptoms of more virulent strains of all five.

: Adapt To Win: Jon Stewart's crew actually doesn't push the Orwell/Huxley jokes that much. But The Daily Show a few nights ago, in a four-minute piece on propaganda, did a very unexpected 1984/They Live/1984 Mac ad reference. It's near the end, and I wasn't expecting it, and it stunned me.

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: LOLOL: LOL inflation destroys semantics root and branch. ROFLMAO.

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: OneWebDay is September 22: Last month, the smart and charismatic Susan Crawford spoke to the New York Tech Meetup about OneWebDay. I'll have to do some interesting blogging that day, celebrating all the wonderful things the Web has given me.

: I Thought I'd Never Need My TI-85 Again: How to use Google as a calculator. Tip: Don't try using π; just type "pi".

: Continuing Education: Tonight I start a four-semester Master's program at Columbia: the Executive Master of Science in Technology Management, offered by the School of Continuing Education. Finance, psych, marketing, planning, history, law, that sort of stuff. My Fog Creek colleague Eric is in there with me. We both got in to the NYU MS program in Management and Systems, but the Columbia program looked better:

Our first semester, we're taking "Technology in the Business Environment" and an introductory corporate finance class. I'm prepping for the latter by doing W. Michael Kelley's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Precalculus, recommended to me by Stuart Sierra. On the whole, very good. I'm brushing up on my 1996-era trig/analytic geometry skill, and have gotten past the exercise in which I draw the snappy log transformation on the book cover. I remember all the concepts well, but have more of a tendency to mistake plus and minus signs or make other sloppy arithmetic errors than I did in high school. Perhaps I'm not checking my work carefully enough because the pressure of grades doesn't exist.

Yesterday I did a few chapters of CIGT Precalculus and then saw the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine with my friend Adi, who's in the math department at NYU. So it was math-related, right? The last Monday-night revelry I'll have for a while.

: Fame: I'm in the blue shirt.

: Time!: Homework for the second Technology in the Business Environment class (this coming Tuesday): read five book chapters, and write a two-page analysis of different valuation structures at my workplace.

Homework for the second Corporate Finance class (this coming Wednesday): start the online accounting course (estimated total time: ten hours), read two chapters and a case study, answer the online questions about Present Value, and do casebook exercises on valuation.

Did I mention that we've deleted the Daily Show season pass from our TiVo? Life on Mars stays, but Colbert Report and House are on notice.

: Glom: A corporation has bought Cody's Books. I hope it improves more than it worsens.

Ideas for t-shirts I would wear:

: Work Experience: A story about fast food reminds me how lucky I am that I've never worked that kind of retail.

A few friends of mine who have really impressive resumes up online: web designer Kristofer Straub, web developer Brendan Adkins (newly revamped portfolio!), developer Kevin Maples, and developer Leonard Richardson.

For one thing, this reminds me that I should put up a resume. In a little over two years I'll have some choices to make and I should start laying a good foundation. Also, Leonard's resume reminds me of his impressive software portfolio.

It used to be that I could talk with new acquaintances about Leonard and make geeks' jaws drop. "You know the Segfault.org guy?" they'd say, or: "You're dating the guy who wrote robotfindskitten!" And then I'd bask. But that happens less often these days.

Then, today, I was shooting the breeze with Ben here at work, in a discussion that touched on "The REPL in .NET". I mentioned that frustration with cleaning up HTML and XML for and with parsers drove Leonard to create Beautiful Soup. Ben said, "Leonard wrote Beautiful Soup?!" And I got to bask again.

Anyway, I marvel at all the software Leonard has written. What a productive husband I married! Geeks might find lots of useful stuff in there (e.g., The Bayes Motel), and nongeeks will enjoy The Eater of Meaning.

: The Ride: A few Salon articles I've enjoyed: Andrew Leonard on learning to be a father and Cary Tennis explaining why people drink and take drugs.

Once upon a time, Salon was a weekly literary magazine. Then it became a daily fix for argument and culture analysis, and then it added investigative reporting. I find surprise addictive, and I could reliably find the unexpected at Salon.

Now it's an all-around companion for the liberal sensibility, which is good and bad.

The more I learn about sales, at my new job and in reading and in classes, the more I think about the unique selling proposition, the thing you have to offer that no one else has. Andy Rooney once pointed out that it's a lot easier to make a living as the ten-thousandth best accountant or insurance guy in the country than as the ten-thousandth best singer. The new economy, I think, makes every knowledge profession more like singing. I need to specialize and be the best in a tiny niche to succeed. Does Salon?

In the movie Wordplay, we see a woman who has won a national crossword puzzle tournament, and can then shut down a jerky date's taunts by asking him, "Well, what are YOU the best in the country at?"

As part of the Columbia Master's program, I have to come up with a tech business plan. I am trying to see what I can leverage, what core competency I have that's rare, what opportunities exist in the margins I occupy.

: Sensitive: Jon Carroll makes coffee and spins an awesome column out of it. I went back to Northern California for a week, for the first time in eight months, and drank booze with my editor and had a big party and went to a computer convention and I don't know what all, and I've made half a blog post out of it. I'm feeling as slow-witted as the narrator in Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping, which I'm almost done reading. Why should I be rooting for [*SPOILER*] the mentally ill aunt, who is a horrible parent, to keep custody of her niece?


Kathy Sierra reminds us that every stranger, every customer, is having that tedious, routine interaction with us for the first time. Why did I find this so moving?

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: Don't Resign Yourself To Blair's Resignation Just Yet: I'm told that Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister, has said he'll resign next year but won't give a specific date. Evidently he's fond of the surprise execution paradox. Hmmm, if he's going to resign in 2007 but make it a surprise, then it can't be December 31st, because then it wouldn't be a surprise anymore. But reasoning inductively from that, it can't be December 30th, or December 29th -- in fact, he can't resign at all!

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: MC Masala on Surprise: My laptop got dropped and now I'm getting the "invalid key length" hard drive error. Surprise! My finance class has more work than I'd expected. Surprise! I got into Columbia, a bunch of my friends came to my birthday party, I got an Apress button at LinuxWorldExpo that says "Come back when you can pass a Turing test." Surprise, surprise, surprise!

We talked about a theme of pleasant surprise that runs through TMBG's more spiritual songs. In "She's an Angel," the narrator has a new girlfriend whom he suspects of being an angel:

"How should I react?
"These things happen to other people.
"They don't happen at all, in fact."

We steel ourselves against bad news, but does that even help? And does it stop us from happiness when joy comes to our door?

In related news, I used to think that Birdhouse In Your Soul was about grace, but Leonard and the BiYS video convinced me that it's about fundamentalist Christianity.

: Study Notes: I'm studying for my Corporate Finance class. Every so often I have to remind myself that I am studying not the world as it is, but an internally consistent subset, a continent or a country where profit is the primary motive, taxes are to be avoided, debt has no moral status, and every business is a corporation responsible to shareholders. Even the constant references to "building a new plant" or "excess inventory" require imagination and translation for me. Almost all of my work has been in offices providing intangible services, not goods.

And then there's the everyday hubris of planning and executing a project.

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: Accounting Lessons: My pedantic little distinctions include "abbreviation" vs. "acronym" and "between" vs. "among." Today I learned a new one: tangible long-term assets get "depreciated," while intangible long-term assets, such as a franchise fee, get "amortized." I've been using "amortized" for years to refer to using up the value of tangible assets, but as long as I'm only hanging around non-accountants that should be fine. This is akin to saying "sorting" instead of "hashing" around computer programmers.

Another accounting wrinkle I learned today gave me pause. An asset is something you now control, thanks to a past acquisition or transaction at a measurable cost, that you expect will give you economic benefits in the future. This means that employees don't belong on the balance sheet. They could quit at any time so you don't control them, the work to be performed is in the future instead of the past, and so on. This seems fishy to me. I mean, does anyone really control anything? Your warehouse might burn down, or the town might rezone your land. And you buy an asset, or hire an employee, because of perceived future use.

But in accounting terms, it's only an asset if you can put a price on it. If you don't know how much you'll end up paying an employee in total, you can't valuate her work as an asset or her future wages as a corresponding liability.

So if you wanted to create your own derivative of standard accounting that included particular workers or their work as an asset, you could buy them as slaves, or you could hire them on periodic contracts and think of the contracts as assets. Sure, you haven't paid yet, but sometimes you buy assets entirely on credit.

Another option: pay your employee her entire year's salary in advance, when she signs a one-year contract. I don't know what would be more radical, that or putting workers down as assets on the balance sheet.

: Leonardisms: "Support The Arts; Bring Them Home Now"

"Employees Are Our Greatest Operating Expense"

Upon being asked, "Do you want me to take your name, honey?": "No, I'm using it!"

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: Business Ideas: Well, there's the intellectual property clearing-firm. It could also start what doesn't exist, which is a universal registry of who owns what IP. Do I hear databases calling? Tech component: check? However, it could be that such a database, or the problem people would hire it to solve, is computationally impossible or epistemologically intractable. And where's the target market? People who can afford lawyers already have them, and indie artists or small businesses who would use this service couldn't afford what I'd have to charge. The network effect plus publishing companies' possible urge to outsource legal work makes for thin gruel here.

You could set up a dehydrator near airport security lines to speed-dry liquids for people into just-add-water powders. Leonard tells me that rapid dehydration often changes the chemical properties of a complicated liquid. A better business proposition would be to sell tooth powders, shampoo bars, etc. to airport sundries shops, but where's the tech in that?

And there's coming up with an online sudoku competition site, possibly for sale to Yahoo! Games. The folks at work thought up a few variations so as to make Sudoku a two-player game:

But I'm not seeing where people would pay. Yahoo! Games is free; people don't pay to play Hearts or the like over the Internet.

None of these are right for my Master's project. Back to the thought mines.

: Column on Fakery: MC Masala on plastic plants and my neighborhood.

So, a few days ago, my husband and I noticed the new potted plants outside. We checked the one nearest the door and verified its fakeness. And then, a few days later, we left the building together and noticed Jorge watering one of the new plants.

We exchanged a look. Then we looked at the scene for a second time. Then we glanced at each other again.

: House, S.D. (Senior Developer): Verity Stob writes a House episode about debugging.

"Is this part of the differential diagnosis?"

"No. I supplement my meagre income by generating 'white noise' text to help spam messages skip those pesky Bayesian filters. Pays 5p per million words. It's hard work, but artistically satisfying. What the spammers can't use, Douglas Coupland buys to put in his next novel."

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: YouTube Links: The De Kort Coast Guard scandal video (and an update) and the Nerdcore Rising trailer.

: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: Leonard and I are currently watching:

I say we're watching Studio 60 even though I've only seen the first episode. It was funny enough to keep me watching. One does ask where Joshua Malina is hiding.

I was never a fan of Bradley Whitford's character (Josh) on West Wing so I hope he's playing someone competent in this universe. The pilot supports that hope. It would be cooler if Perry or Whitford (or Nate Corddry) were playing a new Standards & Practices opponent.

Speaking of Corddry: I was trying to list off, to Leonard, the members of the media cabal that makes entertainment designed for my sensibilities.

Who else fits?

: Change: BoogaBooga pointed us to its September 2001 archive to remind us of how it felt and what we thought during the month of that tragedy. I couldn't believe that it was five years ago that Wikipedia and The Daily Show weren't part of my daily media environment, or BoingBoing's.

Jon Stewart, host of the hilarious "Daily Show,".....

Check out Wikipedia! It's an "open" encyclopedia....

On a day-to-day basis, Google and Wikipedia change the way I think about my life and the world. I no longer feel constrained by knowing nothing about a domain; I feel confident of getting an overview of anything whenever I might need it. That's something I should mention this Friday.

: Temple Management: Leonard and I had another wedding ceremony on Sunday; my parents were in town and wanted to see us get hitched Hindu-style. We capped off the rituals with a visit to a Ganesha-centric temple in Flushing. As I watched my parents pay a cashier, then show a receipt to a priest to request a ritual, I thought about how many temples don't even have that level of organization. Business-speak follows:

Hindu temples, like many organizations, would like to switch from cash/paper payment systems to more efficient payment tracking mechanisms. As they grow, priests stop having personal relationships with worshippers, and become labor in centralized, scheduled ritual performance. Retrofitting existing temple payment and scheduling systems for growth, efficiency, and electronics is frustrating. Most of these places face zoning and funding barriers. Right now there's a Hundi (donation box) next to each idol; donating money towards a particular god has important ritual meaning. But how much time and trust has to be spent in collecting and counting that cash money?

Temples need a holistic evaluation of their needs to determine where technology could help. Perhaps all worship stations could come equipped with smartcard-reading kiosks. Or maybe a centralized point-of-sale station, accepting credit cards and cash, could print receipts, horoscopes, ritual-completion certificates, and lists of suggested rituals. The solution must allow for at least some cash donations, non-native English speakers (preferably with support for all 14 Indian languages), and a greasy, smoky environment. (Ix-nay on the touchscreens?)

Ben suggested that such a system could even email worshippers to remind them of Today's Sanskrit Chant To-Do List. However, he and Leonard both noted that temples don't think they need this system. Talk about a barrier to sales.

So if I wanted to use this idea for my Master's project, I'd have to spend time learning this domain from the people who run Hindu temples, and whom I don't find the most likeable people in the world. And then I'd have to consider educating them about their needs so I could sell them on my whiz-bang POS or whatever. I find this opportunity technically and socially interesting, but not enough to overcome the business and social irritations. NEXT.

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: Blood: In Iraq, fear dictates everything. You can't even help a dying man on the street for fear you'll be killed too.

It was not like this before Saddam fell from power. Ordinary people could live their lives; they were circumscribed, but not paralyzed by fear of random violence. This is the war of all against all. This is chaotic evil. This is why mere anarchy, loosed upon the world, was worse than the tyranny it replaced.

: OneWebDay: I met my husband over the web; I read his blog before we ever met. I knew about this company, and got this amazing job, because I read Joel Spolsky's blog. I've received and given so much value via Craigslist, Wikipedia, Google, Salon, SFGate, TransitInfo, and other web sites that I can't possibly valuate it all. I cannot imagine my life without the web. Thank you.

: Daisey & Franken & The Kids: Ah, it's not on Will's site, but Will Franken will be at Pianos NYC Sunday night! Ordinarily Whitest Kids You Know would be performing at that time, but they're on tour. Friends in Portland, Lawrence, and San Jose: go see 'em!

I've reserved a ticket for Will at the Upright Citizens Brigade next week and am about to reserve my ticket for the Oct. 5th opening of Mike Daisey's "TRUTH: {the heart is a million little pieces above all things}" at Ars Nova.

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: Three Makes A Trend: Google results, jetBlue and Joel on Software did some page redesigns or enhancements over the last few days. It's unnerving. But probably good.

By the way, the indirect method statement of cash flows is pretty bonkers. That's all.

: More Accounting Wackiness: Remember how I had to stop thinking of debt as a bad thing when I started learning accounting? I've done so. If you're pretty sure you can make money faster than interest on your loan piles up, then it's a good investment and you should do it. Amar Chitra Katha's Yudhisthira said that debt is heavier than a mountain, but I recognize that there is such a thing as a smart investment. Michael Dell and George W. Bush have devalued the words "strategy" and "leadership" respectively, and a zillion spams and ads have similarly devalued the phrase "investment in your future." Yet all of these things actually do exist. Fabulous.

My current hangup: in accounting, the words "increase," "decrease," "debit," and "credit" have no relation whatsoever to their commonsensical counterparts. I've reached the "in real life software would do this for me" point of dismissal.

By the way: thanks, Investopedia.

: The Science of Sleep: Leonard and I just saw the new Gondry film. He liked it more than I did, although I found it quite beautiful visually. I remember that I used to have more empathy for mentally ill protagonists, or flawed ones at least. American Beauty, Housekeeping, House, Enterprise....over time I just get more irritated with main characters who don't stop being self-destructive, or who hurt others.

On the other hand, I'm reading a book of short horror stories by Joe R. Lansdale. I've historically shied from horror, but a worker at Borderlands recommended this to me, and I'm enjoying it. I used to avoid horror books and movies because I was afraid they'd cause nightmares. At least that's one thing I'm not afraid of any more.

The upcoming Emma Thompson/Will Ferrell movie looks neat. Curiously enough, given its premise, it involves neither a Kaufman nor a Gondry.

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: Rachel.com: Sometimes I forget that Woot exists. It's a deal a day. And it's a podcast. Today: "I Never Got to Tell You – Dude, You’re Gonna Get Yourself Killed (Song for the Crocodile Hunter)", which rhymes "mourn ya" and "warn ya" but not "California."

By the way: Leonard's sister Rachel got the "woot" nickname long before it became a meme.

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: Why?: Why, why, why did Aaron Sorkin think that Gilbert & Sullivan filk was the way to go? I am the very model of a cringing, disappointed fan. And why are bicker banter scenes not rising above the bar set by Coyote Ugly?

Maybe Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip needs to build characters and baseline conflicts for a couple of episodes, but here's what I want to see soon:

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: Jonathan Coulton: Jonathan Coulton's "Code Monkey" is to Fog Creek this week as Weird Al's "White and Nerdy" is to the entire Internet. I can't forward the latter to anyone because ten innocent acquaintances have already forwarded it to anyone relevant.

In any case, "Code Monkey" is cracking me up. For some reason, "Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write goddamned login page himself" just slays me. It's pretty anthemic.

Coulton also wrote "Flickr" -- that's worth your time, too.

Of course, in keeping with a few of my current obsessions, you could tag Coulton "rapid prototyping," "John Hodgman," and "Creative Commons." If you were wondering why Hodgman congratulated Coulton on winning an essay contest that one time on The Daily Show, that's why. (I thought that was a weird coincidence!)

: Triumphs: Will Franken blew everyone away last night at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater.

Yesterday I got a couple of laughs at the lunch table with, "Well, they don't call it Moderate Programming."

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: Another Rejected Business Idea: I've lived in a house my parents owned, but it was in sunny Northern California. In less temperate spots (say, Indiana), homeowners have a heck of a lot to remember to do. Courtesy Ben:

No software on the market specifically helps people manage the workflow of home maintenance. Homeowners have to keep track of mortgage payments and refinancing, taxes, and seasonal and weekly maintenance tasks. An organized to-do list that polls weather and government data to automatically remind a homeowner to clean gutters and attend homeowners' association meetings would relieve tension and inconvenience. A domain-specific iteration of existing bug-tracking or task management technology could solve many of their problems.

A web-based, desktop, or mobile software application could be to this domain as Quicken is to personal finance. The application could borrow quick diary functionality from blog technology, and task or request tracking from bug tracking. It might also interface with Flickr to organize before-and-after photos, Quicken to manage payments, and email, SMS, or instant messaging for reminders. The application could also offer background checks on other neighbors using publicly available data.

In a related opportunity: A third of US residents rent. We know we should take notes and pictures to document our tenancy, in case we need evidence when we argue with our landlords, but we don't do it because it's inconvenient. Tracking tasks, rent, deposits, and repair requests would help renters reduce late fees, reduce confusion with roommates, and get our deposits back.

BillMonk and BudgetSnap are working in this market, so there's opportunity here. But I don't know nearly enough about the domain, I have only the fuzziest idea of how this product would look or work, and my grasp on business-to-consumer marketing falls far short of my grasp of business-to-business marketing. I find this the most promising and interesting rejected idea for my master's project.

And I see that others are already on the road to developing temple/church donation management technology.

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