Archive for October, 2004

Poll dancing

Next Tuesday, I’ll be working the polls for election day. It’s a long day: I have to be there at 5am and they said to be ready to stay until 9:30pm (though I may be done an hour or two before that… a number of factors are involved). Workers are not allowed to leave the building, so we have to bring all our food and drink for the day.

Last night I went to the senior citizens’ center by my work to hang out and chill with my peoples for the two-hour election officer training session. A few observations:

  • Though the officers are primarily of the “over 65” set, there were a few others besides myself that looked to be from the “under 30, if just barely” set.
  • Apparently, it’s “normal” for gun rights advocates to bring their weapons to polling places in an attempt to “test” the election officers (in VA, one can have a gun in public as long as it’s not a school). She said to just play it cool and let them vote normally. Seriously, guys, there’s a place and time to “test” your rights but why a polling place filled with volunteers?

  • The whole country should use the same ballots we use. Couldn’t be simpler: fill in the oval next to the person’s name and slip the paper into the Accu-Vote. Ah, crap, Accu-Vote’s a Diebold product?. Well, none of this nonsense, at least.

15 minutes before the training officially started, one of the members of the election board for the county was chatting with people and taking some basic questions. One gentleman a few rows in front of me raised his hand and said, “Now, I don’t mean to start anything, but…” Of course, that type of phrase is similar to “I don’t mean to sound racist”/”I’m not racist, but…” where you know something ignorant is about to come out of their mouths. So the man contuned, “What if someone that doesn’t speak English comes to vote? We can’t help them because they don’t speak English and how can they be counted on to know who to vote for? This one lady sat there for 45 minutes just staring at the ballot.” Fortunately, another woman there for the training responded to him calmly, “Sir, just because someone has trouble with English doesn’t mean that they can’t read someone’s name and vote for them. When I travel to a foreign country, I can still manage to read street signs and find my way around even if I don’t speak the language.” This man seemed to do what a lot of people do: he associated not speaking English well with being stupid. If that’s the case, I’m the world’s biggest idiot because after six semesters of French in high school and college, all I can do is say curse words. Making assumptions about people based strictly on their language ability or ethnic background rarely ends well.

In any event, it seems like this should be a really interesting experience. There was a definite sense of excitement in the air last night and seeing the inner-workings of the election process in a non-partisan setting is pretty eye-opening.

Exhumed Films on WHYY

WHYY (the NPR affiliate in Philadelphia) aired a piece this morning about Exhumed Films, a group of guys from NJ that show obscure, cult horror films on the big screen. I’ve talked about them here many, many times. Here’s an MP3 of the story.

Happy Horror Month

It’s nearing Halloween. Want some movie ideas?

First I’ll point you to two old favorites: 31 Days, 31 Horror Movies and Recipe for a Wicked Halloween (minus the images).

Also, it’s worth noting that you may be able to find some surprising films on TV this time of year. Sure, there’s the standard slasher fare, but you’ll really want to tune into IFC on Halloween weekend, where Tom Savini hosts a barrage of Italian horror classics that one rarely finds on TV. Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Inferno, and Deep Red are featured as well as documentary on Argento titled Dario Argento: An Eye for Horror. Even cooler, you can catch Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, Bay of Blood, Baron Blood, and a potentially cool documentary titled Mario Bava: Maestro Of The Macabre, which I have not yet seen. I’ve also spied Wendigo on several times between now and Halloween on various Starz! channels.

‘Tis a good month for horror, indeed.

Assorted updates

I added/fixed a few things over at Political Bumpers over lunch today. First, the RSS feed was being reported as invalid because of its size. The RSS file now only spits out the 200 most recent additions to the database. Secondly, you can sort on most of the columns now. And if you haven’t seen them yet, there are a few new reports available. Now I just need to catch up on about 100 submissions!

I also just posted a great fan letter over at Urban Ambiance. The world loves me!

This is why not everyone that can send an e-mail is called a web designer

I’ve really had just about enough of HTML e-mail.

Really.

The match game

Y’all know how the CDDB/freedb works, right? You put a CD into your computer, it contacts a central server and identifies the CD based a number of criteria (primarily track lengths). When you download an album of MP3s and burn it, the CDDB is still able to recognize the disc. However, today something very odd (and impressive) happened to me.

Yesterday I received a record that I had won on ebay. I got home, recorded the record to my PC, split the tracks by hand, and burned a CD. When I popped the CD into my player at work, I expected it to ask “Do you want to be the first to submit this CD to the database?” like it usually does with a CD it doesn’t recognize. But, instead, it actually properly identifies the CD and displays the proper information!

Considering that there are so many possible ways I could have split the tracks or chosen where to start the first track of each side, I am amazed that the CDDB was able to identify the record. The only thing I can think is that either a.) someone else burned the album and split the tracks the exact same way I did, thereby indicating some weird cosmic luck or b.) the CDDB/freedb uses some really smart fuzzy logic to figure out albums that could be “close” to the one you inserted into the drive. Whatever the case, it’s never happened before and I bet it’ll never happen again.

Engagement

Congrats to college buddy Pat and his bride-to-be Kadeana, who just got engaged. I guess this means I’ll now have to officially stop stalking Pat and his tight leather pants.

Do I want to see these people again?

After a chat today with a friend from high school, I think I’ve made the decision to attend my 10-year reunion. I was waffling a bit before today because though I want to go for the “morbid curiosity” factor, I don’t want to wind up by myself at this sports bar in Philly that probably only serves meat and beer, stuck between drunken members of the football team trying to explain to them that, yes, I really was in your class and, no, I’m not surprised you don’t remember me. Fortunately, though, it seems a number of friends are planning on going, so I’ll likely plunk down the $65. A few things are certain:

  1. I will be going stag. Huyen’s reunion is the next day many, many hours away, so she’ll be at hers and I’ll be at mine.
  2. Thanksgiving is going to be confusing thanks to the scheduling of the reunion(s). I may end up spending it alone.
  3. There’s a very short list of people I sincerely hope will attend so I can make contact with them again. These are the people that I haven’t been able to find through normal means.
  4. I’m as curious to see how the people I hated turned out as I am to see how the people I was friendly with did.
  5. I will be attending sans pants.

A pin dropped, did you hear it?

I’ve been a lame ass blogger for the last month (seven entries in September? What’s wrong with me?!), and for that I apologize (even though I said I feel no guilt).

So, I’m going to try and summarize some assorted thoughts and events in an attempt to get back on track.

The bedates. Or debates. Whatever. Round 1: Kerry wins by knockout. Round 2: Cheney wins by split decision (doesn’t make him any less of a jackass big business shill, though). The FactCheck.com slip was pretty funny. (See how both sides mangled facts.)

Cirque du Soleil at RFK was some good fun. Talk about mad skills. One of the nicest things, though, was that even though the show we went to was nearly sold out, it was a very relaxed non-cramped atmosphere. Even the lines for the bathrooms at intermission weren’t too bad.

God, I love this weather. I’ve been running a lot recently, and even had a nearly seven mile run a week or so ago. Not shabby considering my best run a month earlier was just over three miles. And I finally got my first taste of the so-called “runner’s high” (the legal way).

First Meg, now Ev. All the original Pyra/Blogger crew’s movin’ on…

I, too, have been thinking that things are a bit stagnant with certain sites I run/co-run. Some freshening up is underway, but I’m seriously considering closing up shop on one or two of them. I’m not one to let go of things easily, though, so it may be a slow process.

I’m looking for someone who can do some custom carpentry work. Anyone have some connections?

Had a really tasty lunch at Shalamar Indian restaurant in Herndon today. I couldn’t stop thinking, “This is a lunch to remember…”

Just had a great new concept for an album. Can’t wait to get started on it. (Nope, that’s all you’re getting. Aren’t I sneaky?)

And with that, back to the silence…