conundrum

my despicable neighbors have just reduced the price on their house for the second time, for a total of in excess of $270k.

on the one hand, the vindictive part of me wants him to continue to have problems unloading it, and wants him to get the lowest price possible.

on the other hand, I just want him to go away.

drop the price another $200k, and I’ll firmly be in the latter camp.

we’re all assholes

for the last two years or so, i’ve been paying half-attention to the bicycle-vs-car debate that’s been going on in the DC area. with several friends who bike around the metro area, i would like it if cyclists didn’t have to take their life into their hands every time they got on their bikes. as a driver, i would like it if the cyclists out there obeyed the traffic laws when they’re on the streets.

today, i think they should all go to hell.

this morning, a little before nine, i was driving up arizona ave from canal road towards macarthur boulevard. for about a half-block, the road is one lane uphill, two lanes downhill. as the line of cars made its way uphill, an impatient cyclist split the lanes, trying to pass the cars on the right (no shoulder, mind you). stymied by the large SUV in front of me, he proceeded to yell at and pound on it, as though the driver of the SUV were at fault. then he swings out into the left turn lane that diverges, and pulls the same shit with the cars in that lane.

if that asshole ever gets hit by a car, i won’t be crying.

however. not a half-block later, as i’m driving across macarthur, i see the following: in the downhill lane, there’s a cyclist waiting for a break in the traffic to make a left turn. he’s got his arm out, signaling. he’s at a full stop, while cars move around him. then, an impatient driver who was behind him waiting to make the same left turn swings out around him, and makes the left turn inches from his front wheel.

if that asshole ever wraps his car around a tree, i’m going to be crying for the tree.

so. right now, i have no sympathy for anyone in the bicycles-vs-cars debate. we’re all assholes, and we all deserve what’s coming to us.

common courtesy

i’ve been sitting on this post for more than a month now, partly because the issue i’m about to discuss isn’t something that arises every day, and partly because i haven’t yet figured out how to write about it without sounding like a whiny little crybaby.

the issue: bus etiquette.

i take the bus to work. as most people who ride the bus regularly are aware, there’s an unspoken, but generally understood process for boarding: those who have been waiting longest board first. there are some exceptions to this, such as allowing older people and people with small children to board first (bus drivers have a habit of accelerating before everyone is seated, and i’ve seen some nasty near-spills as passengers make their way down the aisle). but by and large, if you’re a johnny-come-lately to the bus stop, you board last.

busguy001bthis can get confusing if there are many people waiting, but it’s pretty simple if there are only two or three riders at the stop. the guy who boarded the 3Y with me this morning around 6:45 (see photos) is either unaware of this basic tenet of bus etiquette, or just a total asshole. given that he nearly clocked me with his briefcase, i’m going with the latter.

at that hour of the morning, there are few people waiting for the bus. today, in fact, i was waiting alone, after the 3B picked up the only other person sharing the chilly bus shelter. then this guy marches up, skinny, about 6’2″, dark trench flapping, black leather gloves wearing, black shined shoes tapping. without sparing a glance around, he positions himself on the sidewalk (ignoring the bus stop rule that whenever possible, leave the sidewalk unobstructed for pedestrian traffic), at the precise position he expects the bus to stop. and spends the next few minutes rocking back and forth on his feet, impatiently.

busguy002b

(i am compelled to note that at this time, the bus is running about 5 minutes late. had it been on time, he would’ve missed it.)

the bus finally makes an appearance, and i move from the shelter to the sidewalk, a few feet to this guy’s right. the bus slows, passes him, and stops in front of me. and the guy takes two steps to the right, nearly shoving me out of his way. i stymie his efforts by turning my shoulders slightly and presenting him with my back (ah, queuing skills learned in asia).

i board, and take a back corner seat. mr. rude and self-important gets on after me, races to the back, swings his bags around, thumps them down nearly in my lap, and glares at me. “oh. sorry.” i say nothing, and turn my attention to my knitting.

now, maybe he was really anxious about getting to work this morning. maybe his significant other wouldn’t put out last night. there could have been a ton of things on his mind that contributed to his general assholery. but if you ask me, he’s just a prick.

grumpy this morning

i upgraded wordpress to 2.7.1 yesterday and now the highslide plugin doesn’t work. i had a dentist appointment at 7 this morning and now i have gummy cherry flavored fluoride paste stuck to my teeth. and i had to pay $11 for parking today because home – dentist – work is a hellish no-public-transportation triangle of DOOM. which means i have to drive home during rush hour.

woe is me.

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so it should come as no surprise that i think kate coats of brooklyn, new york, is a whiny hipster douche. at the end of last year, she and her spouse moved into an expensive new condo built next door to a slaughterhouse that’s been in operation for almost a century.

new condo.
long-established abattoir.

whiny hipster douches think the slaughterhouse should close. “it’s not hygenic,” coats complains. get over it, coats. nobody forced you to move in next to a slaughterhouse. just be happy you haven’t woken up with chicken heads in your bed yet.1

have i mentioned i’m grumpy this morning?
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1 i won’t even go into how we need more

urban animal husbandry, rather than less. do you have any idea how much money this country spends on schlepping dead chickens into the cities? or how much NYC saves by having slaughterhouses within its borders? neither do i. but i bet it’s way more than whiny douche coats and her husband contribute to the economy.

it's not art, it's not cool, just stop it already.

shepard fairey designed a very, very cool obama poster. we all know this. it’s a very, very cool poster because fairey took obama’s image, simplified it down to clean lines and areas, and converted it into a four color palette: dark blue for blacks and deep shadows, red for medium shadows, light blue for midtones, and white for highlights. he also uses a light blue line process for tones between mid- and highlight.

it works because of the simplicity of the underlying image. it isn’t a photo of obama, it’s an illustration of his face.

fairey was able to do this because he is a visual artist, has spent years working on translating complex images into simple icons, has studied illustration, and has a ton of natural talent. i say this because it’s true, not just because i lived in providence when he launched andre the giant has a posse

, or because i drove by an enormous obey giant

image on canal road every day for more than a year.

now there’s a website created by paste magazine which purports to take any image you submit and “obamicon” it – change it to a four-color image in the fairey style. and while you do get a four-color image spat out at you, that’s about the only thing it shares with the original obama poster.

most of the images submitted are far too complex to take the obamicon treatment well. this results in noisy, jarring compositions that are difficult, if not impossible, to decipher. (take, for example, this image created by beyonddc. what is it? melting ice cubes? barely-legible words? this image is somewhat better – but only if you’re familiar with the interior of a dc metro station.) people across the web seem to think they can make their faces as powerful as obama’s – but they lack the pose, the composition, and yes, the simplicity.

the original fairey obama image is an icon. “a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.” it’s not a direct photo translation. and that’s why it works, while your “obamicon”-ed images don’t.

so stop it, please. all you obamicon junkies – you’re making teh interwebs a jarring, fugly place.

petty hotel annoyances

so, i’m in boston.

“but laloca!” you say (you, my mythical readers) “weren’t you just in new mexico?”

yes, yes i was. and it was lovely – temperatures in the upper 40s, barely a cloud in the sky. even the ~4 hour drive from albuquerque to las cruces was nice, as it bathed my retinas (and thereby some winter-suffering brain chemicals) in sunlight. and i returned yesterday afternoon.

and now, not even 3pm, i’m in boston. and there’s sludge everywhere, leftover from the weekend’s snowfall. but that’s not the story.

the story is one of hotel nickle-and-diming, and how moderately-priced hotels (holiday inn, hampton inn) have free wifi internet access1, while upscale hotels (embassy suites, omni) charge you for it. and that annoys me. not because i’m paying for it (or anything on these trips, for that matter – that’s what an expense account is for, yes?), but because they’re charging for it.

i’d write more, but i’m a presentation short of a meeting and must actually work

. carry on.
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1 the boston hotel i’m in at the moment doesn’t have wifi of any flavor. so i’m plugged into an ethernet port (one of at least three macs currently using the system). and paying for it.

well, knock me over like a little plastic chit.

it appears that the foucault pendulum at the national museum of american history is no more. in fact, it’s been no more since 1998. unfortunate, that – it was a transfixing exhibit. unlike the ridiculous george-washington-as-zeus statue, which they apparently kept.

such nonsense will not be tolerated when i am supreme ruler of the universe.

wordpress blog peeve

i thoroughly dislike what appears to be a sudden rash of “snap shots” plug-in usage on area wordpress blogs. you’ve probably seen the effect, if not the script – that annoying little bit of web magic whereby the owner of a blog provides you with a popout box showing the contents of a link on the page upon mouseover. the site for the utility claims it offers “a better user experience and an entirely new source of ad inventory.” i submit that it does not (on the first count), and if you’re writing for your own pleasure, that of your friends, and perhaps the nameless, faceless masses who may stumble across your blog, ad inventory should not be up there on your list of must-haves.

in addition to being conceptually loathsome, the execution is horrid. in link-heavy posts, you must take care that your cursor does not inadvertently fall upon a link, thereby obscuring all the text around it. as most people don’t regularly park their cursor in reliably safe bit of screen real estate (such as the upper-left corner), this results in a mouse-dance of jiggering and twitching as the reader attempts to avoid the link-mines. it’s annoying, and really, does a small, nearly illegible image of the linked-to page have any effect at all on the reader’s interest in following it? i challenge anyone to show that it does – at least in a positive manner.

so to all of you who use this little plugin, i have one, simple request:

please stop.

update:

a gentle reader gives the following instructions for reader-side disabling of the plugin:

Go here: http://www.snap.com/snapshots_faq.php
Click on the third FAQ item
Click “Click Here”

i’m all for reader-side fixes – they allow for greater customization all around – but if you’re like me and you clear your cookies after every browser session (okay, you’re probably not like me, and i’m probably just paranoid about my digital traces), you’ll have to do that every time you launch your browser. *sigh*