Sunday, November 28, 2004

I'm a pro at 'crastinating
Posted by Sam at 1:49 PM

Procrastination procrastination procrastination.
I'm a pro at 'crastinating.

Ok... well, I'm in Javanet right now. Yep, free wireless internet. I thought that I'd be more productive if I left my house. There's too many distractions at home, and I've got a boatload of work to do. I thought that maybe I'd go to Javanet and get some work done. Javanet is my favorite place in town to get coffee. Javanet takes two of my favorite things, coffee and internet, and smooshes them together into one neatly wrapped package.

I have free wireless internet at home (well, I guess it's not free... my household pays for it. But it seems like it's free... so, shut up). There is no way that I am going to pay for internet access here at Javanet if I get it for free at home. "Great," I thought. "One less distraction." Little did I know that these chumps are just giving it away for free here! Damn them! Damn them for being so cool. Now, I'm forced to sit here and play with the internet while I should be writing college essays (did I mention that I'm applying to grad school? Did I also mention that I'm highly caffeinated?).

So anyway, this post is just about me doing the things that I do so well... procrastinating, complaining, and interneting.

Final thought: I wish that more places had free wireless internet. It would enable me to pursue my three true passions (procrastinating, complaining, and interneting), on a truly portable level.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Turkey doesn't do it for me
Posted by Sam at 11:00 AM

I'm not really a Thanksgiving kind of guy. Turkey doesn't do it for me. Cranberry sauce definitely doesn't do it for me. Stuffing only moderately does it for me. What does however, 100%, full-throttle, do it for me is bugging the hell out of my mom while she attempts to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.

Yep, I'm a total bastard. But, I'm a bastard full of love. Most of the time I can make my mom crack a smile at least once or twice.

You know, I'm just trying to ease the holiday tension. It's really somewhat of a tradition at this point. And who am I to break a tried and true holiday custom. The family would be lost without my guidance. Really.

One of my favorite (and most successful) Thanksgiving antics is to recite the lyrics of Bad Religion's Positive Aspects of Negative Thinking as spoken word poetry. Here, let me give you a little taste:

let's gather 'round the carcass of the old deflated beast,
we have seen it through the accolades and rested in its lea,
syntactic is our elegance, incisive our disease,
the swath endogenous of ourselves will be our quandary

(Don't feel bad, I had to look up 90% of those words too)

Anyway, this bit is especially pungent after the meal has been consumed. I've found that standing up at my place at the table, as if I am about to give some kind of post meal thank you speech, and then unleashing this nugget of goodness (it's all about the nuggets lately) really seals the deal. In fact, it's particularly effective to motion towards the demolished turkey corpse as I say, "old deflated beast."

At this point in the day's festivities, my little sister is staring at me, horrified. My mom typically has her face buried in her hands, sobbing. And my dad... well, he's helping himself to a fourth serving of whatever dish is closest to him. The other guests (of which this year, there will be many) don't really know how to respond. Some try to comfort my mom, some snicker and roll their eyes, and others nod in symbiotic agreement to the immortal words of those [educated... or at least thesaurus owning] punk rock legends. All in all, a good time for everyone. No need to thank me, I'm just doing my part.

Oh, I can't wait for tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Ok... confession time. I guess I'm not really that much of a bastard. Don't get me wrong, I do try to annoy my mom... but I've never recited Bad Religion lyrics at the table... yet. And my mom hasn't cried as a result of my drollery... yet. Although, my sister does tend to stare at me in horror... often. But it has nothing to do with my holiday tomfoolery.

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Monday, November 22, 2004

Little Nugget of Goodness
Posted by Sam at 3:09 PM

I just have time for a little nugget of goodness today...

Remember my excitement over the release of Firefox 1.0? Well, over the past few weeks, my excitement waned. As I became more and more trigger happy with the extensions, I noticed that Firefox was slowly transforming into a slug. Don't get me wrong, the Fox was still usable, she just wasn't as spry as she was a few weeks ago.

Then, like an unexpected kick in the crotch, I remembered that some wonderful programmer had constructed his own Firefox 1.0 build, optimized for the G4 processor (I heart open source!). Well, I downloaded that sucka, and fired it up. It runs good, fast, stable... all of my extensions, bookmarks, history, etc. are still intact. And most importantly, I'm happy again.

There is also a G5 build. If someone would like to buy me a G5, I would be glad to test that out for you.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

I remember seeing a fan... and someone may have thrown some shit at it... I don't really know. It all happened so fast.
Posted by Sam at 11:42 AM

*Update* It has been brought to my attention that certain elements in this post might be considered sensitive. I've removed some specifics and disabled the comments feature for this post. While I do feel very emotional about the following entry, I do not want things to get out of hand. Anyway, enjoy. - Sam

Yesterday, shit got fucked the fuck up, mother fucker (pardon my language, but I don't think that I could have used any other words to express the fucked-up-ness of the previous day's events). Essentially, my company is on the brink of taking the Advertising department (of which I am a current resident) and "restructuring" the living fuck out of it. Does that mean that I will be out of a job? I'm not sure. I really don't know much. And, what I do know, I officially shouldn't know. One of my bosses (have you ever seen Office Space? I have many bosses) came into my office yesterday and told my fellow designers and me that the management is doing a little house cleaning. The presses are all being sold, the people that operate them are being laid off, the literature room is being cleaned out, and the designers are going to be "put somewhere else."

Put somewhere else?

What the hell does that mean? Apparently, they are planning on separating the design team and giving one designer to a division (or a few divisions... You see, the company that I work for, Nameless Inc. (I've been advised to keep their identity anonymous) is a huge corporation, not unlike the Microsoft of the ***** and ***** world. Yes, they're evil. They thrive on bureaucracy, feast on the flesh of capitalism, and do dealings with Satan himself. Nameless however, does not actually produce any products. Nameless is the mother company of fifty or so manufacturing companies. I am one of three in-house designers. I do their magazine advertisements, catalogs, mailers, posters, etc...).

Separating the design team while simultaneously eradicating the Advertising department is a bad, bad idea. This is a classic example of how this bloated company operates. It all boils down to the instinctual human tendency to fear and destroy what we do not understand. I know that seems a bit primal when concerning a functioning multi-million dollar corporation, but let me break it down for you. The other side of the company, the business/management side, is frightened and threatened by the Advertising department. They do not understand what happens here. They think that we spend our days drawing colorful pictures, and our budget on flashy plastic boxes with Apples on them. They simply do not understand the process that goes into producing a piece of literature. This confusion leads to a frantic corporate witch hunt (yep... pitch forks and torches included). "Kill the heathens! Burn them and their non-beige computers! I don't know what they do over there, but it's definitely not work! And last week, they tuned me into a newt... what? I got better."

The part that is really disturbing is that the people that are going to be the most affected by this are going to be the last to know (keep in mind... officially, I don't know any of this). Equally as disturbing is the fact that the people whose input might be able to make this transition work (a.k.a. members of the Advertising department) are going to be thoroughly and efficiently ignored.

There are a few silver linings here:
1) Maybe I'll be able to collect some unemployment. I've never done that before. Seems kinda nice...
2) I'd get to hang out with some of my unemployed friends. Maybe even start a club.
3) I had been planning on going to grad school next year. This solidifies that decision.
4) I really am sick of this place. Some time off to pursue other interests would be nice, and very welcomed.
5) I don't feel bad at all (anymore) about stealing office supplies. Who wants a new stapler? (Just kidding!)

I could go on about this, but I won't. Things will be fine. I'm just feeling a bit frustrated and betrayed. Hey, thanks for listening to me vent... if you read down this far.

The most important thing here, is that I purchased a guitar two days ago. I don't think that there are going to be any exciting purchases like that in my near future. Although, I might be walking out of work today with a nice desktop G4... maybe a few Sony monitors too... Who knows? I may be able to get all of my xmas shopping done right here at work! (Again, just kidding...)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Decimator!
Posted by Sam at 1:09 AM

Look at my new toy! I just couldn't resist. She's so pretty, isn't she? Now I just need a name for her. Something smooth, stylish, sophisticated... yet fun and spontaneous. I was thinking Abigail, or maybe Bjork. No... it needs to be more... ummm, cool. Like Satanica! Or Rocktagon! How 'bout The Decimator! Yes... that's totally it. The Decimator. Written in all caps. THE DECIMATOR! Maybe italics too. And a few extra exclamation points couldn't hurt. Let's try it out:


Oh, that's nice. It has a certain ring to it. Rolls right off your tongue too...

Ok... so in the real world, I think my new guitar shall be named Melinda. Named for the tragic lost love in the Opeth song Face of Melinda.

Face of Melinda
by Opeth

By the turnstile beckons a damsel fair
The face of Melinda neath blackened hair
No joy would flicker in her eyes
Brooding sadness came to a rise...

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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Giant Mechanized Battle Arm
Posted by Sam at 1:34 PM

Well, this is it. The world as we know it is never going to be the same (and it has nothing to do with our president). The Decepticons have won... and they are doing a victory dance. (Click here!)

I, for one, am 100% behind our new leaders. Those who know me, know that I fully endorse robotics and would gladly sever one of my very own limbs to have it replaced with some kind of giant mechanized battle arm (or leg). Oh, the joy!

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Monday, November 15, 2004

My Hidden Jew
Posted by Sam at 4:28 PM

It's here. Yep. Firefox Version 1.0.

Firefox is Mozilla's kick-ass and free web browser. The best part about Firefox is that it supports extensions. Which basically means that if Firefox doesn't already do everything you want it to do, you can most likely install an extension that will add whatever functionality you desire. It's sweet. It's fast. And, it's pretty.

Firefox's awesomeness is not what I am going to talk about in this post however. There are plenty of other resources that will tell you all about Firefox and what extensions rock and what are some slick themes etc... What I am going to talk about is guilt (try as I may, I cannot suppress my hidden jew).

Since Apple blessed us a few years ago with the Safari web browser, I've been a devoted fan. Safari was not just good, it was really good. It was fast and it was highly integrated into OS X. It looked like OS X too. Safari made it seem like the internet was a part of the Mac experience... not just something that the computer could do, but something that it should do. When I read that Firefox had finally come out of pre-release status, I immediately felt the onset impending guilt. I new that I was going to download Firefox. And, I had the suspicion that I was going to like it.

I downloaded Version 1.0 (last week) and double-clicked the fiery fox-like icon. And there it was. Firefox. Quick and shiny. I scanned through the preferences, made some adjustments, downloaded and installed some extensions, and then tackled the internet. "Crud!" I thought, "I really like this browser." I didn't want to like Firefox. I wanted to think that it was just another browser. Nothing special. I wanted to say, "Well, it's good to know that I have options, but I'll stick with Safari." That's not what happened. Over the past week, Safari became my backup browser, and Firefox became my primary browser. And this is where the guilt came in.

I've abandoned Apple's Safari browser... something that I hoped and prayed for before it's release. How could I be so disloyal? I've strayed from home, and I'm not sure I want to go back. I guess competition is healthy. I suppose having something better out there will drive up quality. I don't know... I just always thought that Apple would be in the lead.

Anyway, I'm feeling the guilt pretty hard core. I'm even toying with the idea of skinning Firefox to look like Safari. I'm such a traitor! Blasphemy!

I'm also an incredible loser. Look what I just posted about... feeling guilty for using a different browser. I really have to get out more...

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Thursday, November 11, 2004

Ummm... Nice Socks
Posted by Sam at 9:13 AM

Ummm... Apple? Yeah. Hi guys. It's me, Sam. Ummm... nice socks.

Ok. Really. What are you guys thinking? The iPod Sock? I don't even know where to begin with this one. Apple, you are my absolute favorite computer/consumer electronics manufacturer. Your design team deserves many, many high fives. The new iMac? That shit is the bomb, yo! The Power Mac G5? Boy howdy! The 12" PowerBook? Oh my god, yes! The iPod Sock? Errr... well... no. Not even maybe.

It doesn't even look like the Socks would make good puppets. When I buy socks, that's my first consideration.

I've been trying to avoid this, but you know you all saw it coming:
The iPod Sock? I think you mean the iPod Suck! Yee-Haw!


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Monday, November 08, 2004

Heartless, Skin Eating Jerks
Posted by Sam at 2:21 PM

I saw two movies over the weekend. One was truly incredible (hint hint), and the other was... um, not. Let's talk about the less than incredible film first. It was called Amid the Dead (you can actually download the entire film here).

Amid the Dead has been officially described as "A Swarthmore College student film that melds the genres of the apocalyptic zombie movie and the introspective existentialist self-analysis." Student film? Yes indeed. This movie has misguided film student written all over it. Apocalyptic zombie movie? Sure, why not? Although, I do have to say, this is one of the more boring apocalypses that I have ever observed (and let me tell you, I've been privy to my fair share of apocalypses). Ok, so it had zombies... but I saw no decaying metropolis, no overturned cars, hardly any fire... I mean, there was really only about a dozen zombies total. A dozen zombies does not make an apocalypse. And finally, introspective existentialist self-analysis? You know what? I'm not even going to touch this one.

The film opens with the unmistakable sounds of human birthing. A woman is being frantically wheeled through a hospital (as the lights flicker on and off... you know, to enhance the apocalyptic mood). So far so good. As the doctors prepare for the birth, we get a taste of some of the brilliant dialog that awaits us. "I don't like what's going on out there, and I don't understand it. This child may live only to witness the end of civilization as you and I know it. Even so, it's our duty to wrench him, kicking and screaming, into what's left." Zombies invade the room and eat Doctor 1, Doctor 2, and Mom. But interestingly enough, not before she gives birth to a bouncing baby boy. Fade to black, cut to 18 years later. That bouncing baby boy is now a strapping young man... confused, annoyed, shrouded in darkness, hanging out at the local tennis courts, writing in his journal, and full of angst (weren't we all at that age though?).

Questions you should ask yourself at this point:
1) How did he survive 18 years?
2) Was he raised by zombies?
3) Do zombies have the necessary parenting skills required to raise a non-zombie youth in this ever changing and constantly more difficult apocalyptic day and age?
4) How did he learn to read and write?
5) Where did he get those cool black pants?

The movie progresses and we learn more about our happy protagonist: He dines regularly with his zombie family. "After all," he tells us, "I am hungry." We also discover his unhealthy and mildly disturbing romance with a local zombie girl. In an attempt to win her over, our hero pulls her arm out of her socket. It's ok though, she apparently has the ability to regenerate the limb, as she appears with both arms in a later scene.

I don't want to give away too much more. I'll stop here. There is so much more to discover on your own.

The film clocks in at just under 30 minutes. If you have that kind of time to kill, and if you heart zombies as much as I do, give this student film a once over. While it's not a good movie (not even entertaining really), it is a zombie movie. And zombies have given so much to our society... don't you think it's time to give a little something back? The least we could do is give them the attention they deserve.

One final note about the zombies themselves: They are the most heartwarming and thoughtful zombies that I have ever experienced. On two separate occasions in this film, the zombies, huddled over their food (a.k.a. a corpse), offered our hero a handful of fresh guts. As if to say, "Come join your family at the dinner table. We would greatly enjoy your company as we partake in this plentiful bounty." See, now this just destroys every zombie stereotype I've ever had. Zombies do care. They are not the heartless, skin eating jerks that the media would have you believe. Thank you, Amid the Dead, for opening our eyes to our own disgusting prejudices.

Oh... the other movie I saw this weekend. Right. It was The Incredibles. It was great. Go see it.

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Friday, November 05, 2004

Following Up
Posted by Sam at 1:58 PM

It occurred to me that I hadn't posted any photos from Halloween. I guess it's a little too late and a little too boring to post every photo that was taken.

Since I did go out of my way to explain my elaborate axe murderer costume, I feel as though I should post at least one pic. So, here it is.

It got mixed reactions.

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Thursday, November 04, 2004

Much Deserved
Posted by Sam at 8:01 AM

I've declared today to be the National Day of Mourning. America, it's time to begin the healing process.

Take the day off. Let your brain recoup. I know I am.

See you tomorrow!

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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Dark Day
Posted by Sam at 12:07 PM

Today is a dark day for America. I just don't get it. Living here in Massachusetts (especially Northampton) makes it hard to believe that this is the outcome. George W. Bush is going to be the President of the United States of America for the next four years. My hands are shaking. My mouth is dry. I'm really scared.

My only hope is that the majority of America is smarter than I am. I sincerely hope that the majority voice of this country (of which I am not a part), chose wisely, accurately, and with foresight. I hope that the majority voice understands things at a level that I do not... because it is clear to me that this choice is not the right one. Apparently however, I've been shown that I am wrong. Democracy has spoken and told me that my choice was incorrect.

America, I earnestly hope that you have done the right thing.

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Election Clairvoyance
Posted by Sam at 1:17 PM

Let's talk politics, graphic design, and fortune telling for a bit.

Today, something remarkable happened. QuarkXPress, the industry standard page layout program (although InDesign, Adobe's underdog application, rocks my world. It should rock yours too.), released an updater to their flawed program. QuarkXPress 6.1 became 6.5. Do you care? I didn't think I did either until... well, let me back up for a moment...

One of my major frustrations with QuarkXPress 6.1 is its refusal to meet the needs of its users. Any piece of software will only succeed if it does, without difficulty, what its users require. Quark is known for its stubborness. Quark was also one of the last major applications to become OS X compatible (Adobe's InDesign was among the first).

The design application hadn't really changed all that much from version 3 either. Sure, it's shiny and wrapped in nice little OS X skin now, but it's the same buggy piece of software from 10 years ago.

My biggest complaint however, is printing from Quark. QuarkXPress creates layouts for print. That's what it does. That's what it was built for. The one thing that it should be able to do flawlessly, is print... Firstly, Quark could not print to a non-postscript printer until very recently. This means that most inkjet, bubblejet, and non-laser desktop printers where incompatible with the most widely used graphic design application. That's moronic. Secondly, QuarkXpress has never been able to print to my workplace's postscript level 2 laser printers. There's no explanation or reason. I've struggled to find a one... but none exist. Yet many other users were experiencing similar frustrations. Stubborn stubborn stubborn!

Back to the story:

When today's 6.5 release was announced, I was anything but excited. "It will most likely just add more problems," my coworkers and I discussed. As I was installing the updater, I made the following statement (by the way, I'm a realist... or pessimist... depending on your definition of those terms.), "If I can print successfully from the updated version of QuarkXPress, John Kerry will win the presidential election." My coworkers laughed with/at me. We all knew that the chances of a QuarkXPress updater solving a long term and well documented problem was as likely as... well, John Kerry being elected to the White House. A.K.A. not very likely. Not very likely at all. No chance in hell. But, being a good sport, I sent something to print... something challenging too. It had lots of photos and complicated font layering. If Quark was going to fail, I wanted it to fail hard. I wanted to say, "Stupid Quark" and "We're all doomed" simultaneously. Conversely, If Quark was going to succeed, I wanted it to be glorious. I wanted to be able to proclaim, "Quark isn't broken anymore!" and simultaneously "America isn't broken anymore!"

So, I pushed "print."

And I watched as the binary data flowed to the rip station.

And then I heard a beep. The triumphant beep of a potential victory. The beep that signifies that something is about to print.

Lo and behold, in the paper tray mere moments later, were two sheets of tabloid size paper. I held the pieces of paper in my hands. I looked at the monitor. QuarkXpress was the foremost application. The document that I had just sent to print was still visible on the display. I looked at the papers in my hands. The printed image was the same as the display. Quark had done it. Quark had printed. "I printed from Quark," I whispered. My coworkers looked up. "I printed from Quark." I said confidently. "I printed from Quark!" I exclaimed. "John Kerry is going to win the 2004 Presidential Election!" I shouted, as I crumpled up the QuarkXPress printouts into a ball and spiked it onto the floor as if I had just made the winning touchdown of the super bowl. And then I did a dance. And then my coworkers asked me to stop dancing.

I don't really believe in things like the Ouija board, tarot cards, palm reading, or any other fortune telling device (don't get me wrong, I love all of those things. I just don't really believe in them). But this... this is different. This, I would have never expected in a million years. Quark fixed a huge problem. On election day. And now I'm confident that the American people will fix a huge problem. Today, November 2, 2004. Go America, go!

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Every Single One of You Rocks
Posted by Sam at 11:34 AM

I take a lot of things for granted. I have a good job, a great apartment, an incredibly supportive family, a car, enough extra money to purchase coffee every morning, etc... the list goes on and on.

Sometimes however, I feel that I have to take certain things in life for granted. Otherwise, there would be no time left to enjoy the things that I have. This weekend (such an amazing few days!) opened my eyes to something so huge in my life that I am constantly taking for granted... something so vastly important and utterly necessary for happiness. Something that I do not want to take for granted any longer: My friends. These are the people that are there for me when I need them, the people that I can laugh uncontrollably with, the people that I can bounce ideas off of, the people that will honestly tell me when I'm full of shit, the people that accept me for who I am... I love my friends, and I don't tell them often enough.

If any of you guys are reading this ("you guys" includes my long time friends, my new friends, my housemates (housemate alumni too), friends that I haven't seen in a long time, oh... you all know who you are), I just want to let you know that every single one of you rocks (in your own special way)! Thank you for being a part of my life.

(Who knew I had it in me? Who knew I could be so sappy? Well, fear not. I'm sure I'll post something later in the day that really shines. Maybe something about rogue taxidermy. Perhaps a post concerning steam-punk mecha-wars. Who knows? I may even post about high-tech fashion.)

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Sam Who!?
Sam is an amazing and humble guy. Once, he rushed into a burning building, up six flights of stairs to save a kitten from certain death. He speaks eight languages, has mastered three varieties of martial arts, is a wine expert, and is a pulitzer prize winning author. Sam is an international heart-throb who prefers a quiet evening at home knitting afghans for the homeless, to the go-go, glitz and glamor of the party scene. I think the day he won the silver medal for ballroom dancing at the 98 olympics was the happiest of his life. Pretty impressive for a guy who never finished the 8th grade. - Carrie, 04
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