There was a blood drive at work today, so I gave away a pint of my blood to give to someone who needs it way more than I do. I don't mind the needles just so long as I don't have to look at it going in, and I also got a free tshirt, cookies, and juice. It was good times!
Here's a list of the first 100 registered dot-com names, starting back on March 15, 1985. Twenty years later, you'd be lucky if oijowajsfasfo.com isn't taken. Though I bet oijowajsfasfo.net is free. There's just no love for the dot-net names.
My cell phone finally kicked the bucket on Friday, after dropping it once again on the ground. It's still able to make and receive calls, but the screen no longer turns on. I thought about switching to Sprint and using their SERO plan ($30/month for 500 minutes, free nights/weekends, unlimited text, and unlimited data) but in the end decided to stay on my parent's family plan and just buy a cheap phone off Ebay. I still may switch to Sprint in the future though, just so I can surf the web on my phone for cheap.
Speaking of cell phones, I'm really not sure why I don't suffer from cell phone lust. Most other electronics I'm all about going after the latest and greatest and the one with the most features. But other than the iPhone, I really could care less what my phone does or how it looks. As long as it makes calls, and has Bluetooth to connect to my car's Handsfree system, I'm happy.
Looks like I should move to Finland.
Remember that post the other day talking about guilty pleasure reality shows? The biggest offender in that category would have to be Beauty and the Geek, which finished up their season finale yesterday. Anyways, some of the friends of the winning Geek set up a website to apply to date him. Because it just wouldn't be geeky enough if there wasn't an online application to get women.
Note that I have no plans to turn this website into a dating service.
At least not yet.
Much like the housing bubble that wasn't ("really, we swear there's a good reason housing prices go up 20% every year"), here's a nice song about the non-existant web 2.0 bubble.... yeah.... Because Facebook is totally worth $15 billion. For sure.
This past weekend was jam packed full of fun things. It started Thursday when I went to see the quote-a-long version (you yell out quotes from the movie as it plays, a-la Rocky Horror) of Army of Darkness (which is directed by the same guy who directed the Spiderman movies, which is very surprising when seeing how horrible a movie Army of Darkness is) at the Alamo Drafthouse, and getting a free, really cheaply made, plastic toy shotgun to shoot during the movie. Then Friday I went to a formal at the Blanton Museum of Art, played a new dance game for the Wii, got about 3 hours of sleep, and woke up to volunteer with Coats for Kids to hand out coats to economically disadvantaged children. It made me wish I had remembered more from Spanish my classes. Then did some clothes shopping (since none of my clothes fit anymore), and went out downtown for a birthday party. Sunday helped my friend with a photo shoot and then that evening, went to the 2007 opening of the annual Trail of Lights. And of course took a bunch of photos of all the displays, which will be posted once I get done sorting through them. All in all, it was kind of an average Austin weekend.
Oh and speaking of going out downtown, Austin now has their first super-duper-trendy-pretentious nightclub that opened on 4th street, and it has a shark tank in the middle of the dance floor. Poor sharks. The other annoying thing about it is that you have to be 25 or over to get in. I thought I was done dealing with all that headache when I turned 21, but noooooo.
I also started my last rotation last week, and I'm back in applications engineering, which is exactly where I wanted to end up. So basically my day consists of playing with development boards (I have about 7 on my desk right now), writing and debugging C/assembly code, helping with customer support, and generally nerding out.
The last presidential nominee debates before the Iowa caucuses are now done. And Slate has a great article on why Florida doesn't care that it's primary votes won't officially count. I remember being so frustrated back in 2004 when my vote for Dean was meaningless because Kerry had already locked up the nomination. Basically two small states, and then media, is who really decides who gets to be the nominee. Though of course, living in Texas, my vote never matters anyways for national elections.
I can't believe it's only a week until Christmas, but I am in the Christmas mood, thanks in part to the awesome Trail of Lights, going to the Alamo Drafthouse Christmas Carol sing-a-long, not once, but twice, and having 6 Christmas music channels to choose from on XM Radio, including a Hanukkah channel. And that was a long run-on sentence. I've also been to two Christmas parties in the last week, and this weekend I'm planning on going to see The Nutcracker, the movie Home Alone, a Christmas Laser light show spectacular, and maybe a Christmas play.
And speaking of Christmas, I saw What Would Jesus Buy tonight, which is a documentary about the famous Reverend Billy and the Church Of Stop Shopping. Reverend Billy is... well... an interesting sort of fellow, but the idea to stop buying useless crap you don't need is nice. Plus it'd be nice to avoid the shopocalypse.
I played Rock Band for the first time last night. And it was awesome.
Work is slowly becoming less and less crowded, as Christmas comes closer and closer. I'm taking a half day tomorrow to go see The Nutcracker in the afternoon, but I'll be back to work later on Christmas week, so I can save up some days for my Italy trip in February. I think I'll like working in an empty cube farm though, it'll be kinda different at least.
Merry Christmas Eve!
Norad went high tech this year in it's Santa tracking, and now uses Google maps to do its tracking. As I write this he's in Perm, Russia. I wonder if Time's person of the year is going to get a Christmas present from him.
I however am set after getting to speak to the man himself.
Speaking of Time, they have a list of their Top 10 viral videos this year, including this really cool one of Daft Punk's Harder Better Faster Stronger, as told by hands.
My dad just discovered DeAndre Ramone Way while watching Ellen. You tell 'em soulja boy, you tell em. I do love Ellen though, she's pretty much the awesome.
I didn't realize it, but 1 in 10 people in Kentucky have lost all their teeth. Remember kids, brush your teeth.
Am I the only one looking forward to the new American Gladiators? Man I used to watch that all the time when I was growing up. I should have tried out to be a gladiator, I would totally would have a shot making it I think.
Since I'm an adult person now, most of my gifts I already know about ahead of time. But one of the big surprise gifts I got was a big Belgium waffle maker, that even allows you to flip it midway during cooking. My current waffle maker is a $5 one that my Mom got at a garage sale 4 years ago, so I'm very eager to try out this new one and make some big waffles. Mmmmm bread.
Wired also looked at the logistics involved in delivering all those presents. From managing the Chinese factories making the toys to sneaking them into houses, it's got everything you need to set up your own US Santa operation.
Apparently the Big Dig is finally done, and only 12 billion over budget. On the other hand it's still far cheaper than the Iraq war.
I finally washed my car for the first time in months yesterday, based on the weather reports that said we wouldn't be getting any rain for the next 10 days.
5 hours later, it rains. Sigh.
This article talks about the gift card craze, and what that says about the gift card giver. I personally don't mind gift cards at all, and realize they at least take a little bit of thought versus just giving cash (but only a little). The only unfortunate part is there was some study I read where the person receiving the gift card only values it at like 70% of the original value. On the other hand the sweater you were going to buy instead might be only seen as worth 0% of the original value, so those really aren't bad numbers.
I went to go see the Dark Side of the Rainbow yesterday. I discovered that I really don't like Pink Floyd, and that the stuff that syncs up is way overrated. But I had always been curious about it, so now that curiosity is sated and I can cross one more thing off my to-do-before-I-die list.
Tomorrow PBS will start airing the Bloc Party episode of Austin City Limits that I went to the taping of. Unfortunately it doesn't look like I'll get my 15 minutes of fame, as the song that the lead singer of Bloc Party came out into the crowd to sing and dance right next to me, isn't going to air. But you still might be able to catch glimpses of me if you pause your DVR. I'm wearing a dark brown shirt right behind a big tall guy in a green shirt, right in the middle of the standing room crowd in front of the stage, about 5 or 6 people back. The other band playing that hour, Ghostland Observatory, recorded their shows a few days before Bloc Party, so I didn't get to see that taping. But they're a local Austin band who I've gotten to see live a few times and they put on a good show so I'm eager to see what they do.
And last but not least, quite a few photo updates. A new photo of leaves outside my apartment (I really like that photo for some reason), some new photos for the Christmas gallery, and a new gallery for both Houston and Austin.
It's the last day of 2007, and all in all, it's been a pretty great year. I'm going to finish the year going to a really cool art festival downtown called First Night, where they make downtown into a giant art project. Austin stole the idea from Boston, but the fact that they're running something like this is what makes me love this city. They're also going to be setting off fireworks along Town Lake, so I'll wander down there and try to take some photos of that. I wish I'd splurged for a tripod now though.
My Italy itinerary is now set! We booked our hotel rooms, and my friends picked out some great places:
And all for great rates, so it'll be about 30 euro's a person/night overall to sleep right next to the main sights. I love going in the off-season!
Crucial to all of this was using TripAdvisor and Venere to look up reviews by the people who actually stay there. This is why I can't imagine life before the Internet... I mean going blindly into another country without knowing what your hotel is really like, or even where it is? That's just crazy!
And speaking of Austin, the Christian Science Monitor had a small piece about Austin's Pecans. I'm not a huge fan of the nut, but I have noticed lots of people rummaging along the ground lately, and now it makes a lot more sense.
Also from the CSM, an article about charity lending, through organizations like Kiva.org, which I use to make microloans. The Nobel Peace prize winning idea is that people in 3rd world countries want to make better lives for themselves, but lack the capital to do it. Banks aren't willing to lend money in such small amounts to people without collateral or credit history. But if regular people and/or banks can lend the money and accept the risk, then you can lift people out of poverty. Thus it's even a charity a die-hard Republican can love, since you even get back your investment (sans interest however) which you can lend again or deposit back into your own bank account. Check it out, it's an amazing idea that makes a real difference in the life a person.
Finally, someone points out the flaws in making religion synonymous with politics. I realized long ago that because of my religious (or lack there of) views I have no hope of ever getting elected to office, despite that America's founding fathers wanted us to be a secular nation. But some of the presidential candidates seem to be on the verge of religious zealotism at times in order to court "faith" voters. Particularly with Rommey's "freedom requires religion" speech. No Mr. Rommey, it does not.