Thursday, June 30, 2005

Tuuurn Arounddd

Here are the Norwiegans without belts playing 80's ballads on appliances. Fair warning: as is expected with Nordic media, a little bit of male ass is shown. I would have put this in the "bad internet sites" below if it didn't totally kick ass.

Total Eclipse Of the Heart

Universal Man

Today I had to write a job post/description of skills required for the person who will come in to replace me on the project. Its dangerous for a delusional megalomaniac like myself to write something like this. Some of the rejected criteria for my replacement included:

  • Gordon Gecko ruthlessness and hair
  • Perfect balance between Albert Einstein and Julius Caesar
  • Woo-er of women
  • Ability to master all things and people related to computer activity
  • Able to bend spoons and other small metal objects using mental powers
  • Pirate

This all gets me thinking back to (I think I was in high school) when I first heard the concept of a 'Renaissance Man'. I prefer the other title, 'Universal Man'. I like the idea of a person who is completely at home in their world and has all the skills to live in their own times. Theoretically our high-school and college education is geared around a liberal arts ideal and we should all come through with some specialization over the top of our liberal arts. It doesn't always stick but that's the intent.

What follows is my free association list of skills I think a man living today should posses at a basic level. I have no idea what women can or should be able to do, they remain to me as always totally unknowable. I of course am basing this on my experience (obviously not meaning that I can do this stuff) and it is by no means comprehensive. Let me know what you think should be added (or removed).

An American Universal Man > 25 years old in 2005 should be able to (in no order at all) :

  1. Tell a joke in both polite and impolite company
  2. Eat at a formal table
  3. Dress formally
  4. Play at a non-embarrassing level any Team Sports (Baseball, Football, Basketball, Soccer)
  5. Play at a non-embarrassing level Individual Sports (Golf, Swimming, Billiards, Tennis)
  6. Play at a non-embarrassing level a musical instrument
  7. Identify the most famous standard works of Classical Music
  8. Identify at least the era of music from the Modern era and identify of a given sample of artists for music <>
  9. Recite Poetry (5-10 from memory)
  10. Appreciate and Discuss Literature (Classics and Modern), maybe a list of books too
  11. Cook (Grill and Standard
  12. Clean (General Household type)
  13. Work with a Computer (some form of macro, coding or scripting, basic web design, general Windows troubleshooting)
  14. Ride a Horse
  15. Handle Firearms
  16. Drink Socially
  17. Act as a bartender
  18. Play common games of chance/skill (poker, craps, bridge, chess)
  19. Demonstrate General Camping Skills (Basic Orienteering, build a fire)
  20. Demonstrate skill in leadership
  21. Speak > 2 languages
  22. Handle math up to and including the intro level of Calculus
  23. Accomplish difficult physical challenges. Both single event (marathon) and long duration (prolonged participation on a team).
  24. Dance Un-selfconsciously (Slow and Fast)
  25. Demonstrate Historical Knowledge (Western Civ emphasis....should be able to place a given event w/in 150 years)
  26. demonstrate Financial understanding (balance a checkbook, explain compound interest, mutual fund, stock)
  27. demonstrate understanding of basic Philosophy (historical movements generally and logic)
  28. Write expressively
  29. Discuss movies w/ specific focus <20>
  30. Discuss television w/ specific focus <20>
  31. Discuss American sports trends and results (Basketball, Football, Baseball)
  32. Drive a car fast
  33. Drive a Manual Transmission
  34. Perform car maintenance and basic repair
  35. Build simple structures from wood, hammer and nails
  36. Type fast enough to chat
  37. Identify major current world leaders
  38. Locate all 50 states on a map
  39. Locate 15 European countries on a map
  40. Speak in front of a group
  41. Have studied the bible (read some and familiar with major characters in new and old testaments)
  42. Something about talking to girls, this is a tough one to pin down
  43. Something about science here

My Cousin's Email

She occasionaly sends me the chain email stuff but she is discriminating enough to only pass on the ones that are at least kinda funny. She claims this one is true and I haven't seen anything out there yet that its a hoax. Either way, it amused me. Her text below:

One of the Lawyers in our office used to do a lot of work with the United Way back in the late 80's. One of the head guys at the United Way gave our Lawyer a copy of this actual letter from a lady who was thankful for something the United Way had done for her. The copy is attached, but I've typed it out for ease in reading.
The letter reads:
Dec. 4, 1989
Dear Mr. {name deleted just in case},
Thank you for the radio you gave the United Way and they gave me. The lady in the bed next to mine has had a radio for many years. She wouldn't let me listen to hers. Yesterday hers fell and broke. She wanted to listen to mine. I said fuck you.
God bless you,
Mrs. A.O. Smith

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


As my time here is ending soon I am reflecting on some of the differences between Sweden and the US.

1 of my favorite is in the world of Advertising. Obviously the basic foreign-ness is a backdrop (language, products etc.) but its more the tone that strikes me. Much has been said about our semi-hypocritical Puritanism (that's not overstating it do you think?) about showing nudity etc. We could spend a long time on the juxtaposition of the black porno mag covers against the widely displayed Cosmo headline proclaiming 12 ways to handle name tags during an orgy! but its not really interesting. In Sweden they curse freely on television and after 9 PM on normal cable stations you can see up to soft-core porn level naked people. Unfortunately they are much more democratic and will show equal parts male nudity as well which has driven me to read more instead.

I am a bit off track now but maybe the background is interesting. So on to the ads that I found remarkable.

1. Firecracker Ass - This was posted prominently on the Arlanda Express (the train from the center of town out to the airport). It is a black and white profile photo of a naked guy turned slightly so that the naughty bits are not in view but clearly displaying the crack of his ass where we see extending downward at an angle the lit fuse of firecracker. The poster is reminding everyone to get a colon checkup.

2. Gravid? - This Swedish word means pregnant and I think relates to the Midsummer's celebration that is famous for drunkness and practicing the pro-creative act. The color photo is of a green field full of wildflowers and grass that based on perspective must be 2-3 feet tall. In the center of the picture are a woman's legs in the air but all we see sticking up is her lower leg and feet as though she were lying on her back with feet in the air. One is to infer (I think) that she is not alone. I don't know what they are advertising in this one but its on almost every bus stop in town right now.

3. Heineken - This ad plays so often I am nearly insane. No idea what any of it means. Enjoy

4. Ringtones - All through the day and night there are frequent commercials for people selling ringtones you can download for your phone. I understand that this is huge business here. Each commercial is pushing 3-5 tones based on some theme. Sometimes its music where you can pick a tone like a MIDI version of your favorite song. Some are variations on fart sounds. After 9 PM they become pornographic. But the most annoying is this little CGI donkey/pig/devil thing called (I think ) Jambo. He is usually pushing the more rude/porno tones but also selling the Axel-F tone which is insanely popular for some reason.

I'll ask Tina if she can think of some others but its a good start.

Not Funny

I came across the BloodNinja stuff again today. This is extremely offensive and graphic. Also very funny. Now that I think about it, don't read it. (BloodNinja)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finally I can build my army of pretend robots for world domination!

Interesting for those interested in Gaming and AI. I downloaded it but have not had time to play with it. I will train all my little robot soldiers less in for combat skills and more for thier celebratory victory dances.


Monday, June 27, 2005

Nerd Rap

I am always seeking to surpress my inner geek. Fortunately I am good at sports and can confidently speak to other humans on a wide range of non-geek topics. Occasionaly something comes along that gives me confidence that not only am I still floating on the surface of the nerd ocean but that there is a veritable Marians Trench of geek below me. For example I submit the following Wired article (Link).

Friday, June 24, 2005


6:30 AM flight to Barcelona on Sterling Airlines. Very much the Southwest (or less) of the Nordics. No food was free, you had to buy everything but water. I actually don't mind this too much as airplane food is rarely exciting. A free coffee would be good but I am not going to argue with the economic model.

We were some of the last people to check in and got seats in the last row of the plane which do not recline. This is of course significant because I am tall enough that if the person in front of me reclines, I will literally have to sit halfway in the aisle. Fortunately I put my son in front of me to prevent that. The guy across the aisle from me was not so lucky. The guy in front of him reclined immediatley and he was forced into the aisle. He used the two crutches that have a c-shaped grip around the forearm and seemed to have something wrong with his feet or lower legs. He couldn't move them very well from the aisle and his pants were almost identical colored to the seats. This mean that everyone that came down to go the bathroom or driving a drink cart either kicked the guy or crushed his already semi-useless legs. Had he displayed any grace about the situation I think the flight attendants might have taken some pity on him and tried to help him out. Instead, he glared at everyone that came by. It was a bit more sad than menacing but it still had the armless-burned-leper-on-the-corner effect in that everyone just pretended he didn't exist. Unrelated but significant, there were alot of people on the plane wearing VonDutch hats. I find those corny in an un-funny way.

You notice the humidity immediatley off the plane. It creeps in and then greets you as a phsyical presence on the jetway. Due to the EU there is no passport control which is simultaneously efficient and dissapointing. We got all the bags except the jogging stroller for my 2 year old daughter who must weigh 30-40 lbs by now. The baggage people took a very Spanish speaking approach ie. manana, manana (can't find the squiggly n so you'll have to pretend I can spell). It never showed up which sucked because we had to either make her walk or carry her for 2 days until we could find a place open to buy a stroller.

25 minute cab ride into Barceloneta which is an old working class fishermans area being renovated to be a tourist area. The streets are tiny as are the apartments and we had to spend some time w/ the cab driver finding the street on a map.

If you are an American travelling to Euroupe, I can't emphasize enough that they have a 0th floor. Our '4th' floor apartment with no elevator was in point of fact a 5th(!!!) floor aparment with no AC. It was small quaint and other than hauling bags and kids way the hell up there and sweating like a bastard (sweating like a bastard I think will be something of a theme for the trip) was fine for us. The Scots that had been staying just before us had only recently vacated and the Spanish cleaning lady was still there. She was easily, without a doubt the best dressed and hottest cleaning lady on the planet. They should have pagents for various occupations like cleaning lady, stewardess, nurse etc. but I digress. The rental lady met us there to pickup the money and she happened to be Swedish and look exactly like my cousin Charlotte. She walked us over to a bar on the corner that ended up having the best tapas we would get for whole stay. We tried to go back several times but the Spanish opening and closing times sort of defeated us.

I'll break the chronology at this point and hit the highlights.

We saw alot of Modernist (I think this is right term) architecture from Gaudi and his buddies. The partially complete Sagrada Familia was the craziest looking church I have ever seen or heard of. My description would do nothing to help you see it but it won't be finished for another 25 years so you have time to get by and check it out. We also toured through Parc Guel which was the olden days version of Civano but with WAY cooler design. The other buildings were residences or apartments and very unique. The Chris Baker summary is that they all avoid sharp corners and are very organic and fluid. Also they have alot of mosiac tile stuff which I liked.

We hit 2 art Museums (Picasso and Miro) which with kids age 2 and 6 is an absolute freaking miracle. I liked Picasso's much better, I don't know alot about art and abstract stuff like Miro's just misses me completely. The Picasso museum showed alot of his very early work (like age 9 and up) and its interesting to see the development of his art. It turns out that a crazed cubist is actually a talented artist in the 'objective' sense. I have always wondered how actually talented are the guys who splash paint and poo etc. haphazardly at a canvas. I liked the series of paintings (an example) he did based on a Velazquez painting (love the Wiki) that I recognized from an art history class in college.

We hit the beach several times and were a little surprised that all the beaches are de facto topless beaches. I am not a gigantic prude but still this threw me off a bit. Less by the topless-ness generally and more with the specifics of old, fat granny's hanging out there for the world to see. One corpulent septegenarian spent a solid 20 minutes standing ankle deep on the beach vigorusly scrubbing all of her situations. Analyzing the topless beach you can't forget the granny factor. That aside, there were some really great views and I would like to thank all the good looking Spanish women for making my vacation a little bit brighter. There was also an old woman who floated in the water for at least an hour singing all the while. She had a nice voice and it was kind of surreal rising and falling in pitch as the waves tossed her around.

Did I mention that it was murderously humid and that I was constantly sweating like a bastard? I was not the only one and on many occasions I found myself confronted by a 3 foot radius of stink surrounding an otherwise normal looking guy. This really was the only downside to the trip as I overheat pretty easily and turn into a giant baby when I can't cool down.

Next post more about the food.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Dumbest Thing on the Internet

To qualify:

It can’t be accidental. For example I love the site but those are a collection of mistakes.

The Author must be truly passionate.

It has to be well done. We don’t want to ridicule ineptness, that’s too easy.

It has to make you cringe but at the same time should draw you in.

My vote right now is for:


Thursday, June 09, 2005


I wrote this in April or May and never bothered to edit and post it.

Trip to Copenhagen this weekend. Thursday is a 'red' day meaning a day when the whole country shuts down.....again. The number of holidays is maddening. This time it was for Ascension (love the Wiki). I would venture to guess that most of you godless heathens didn't grow up going to Sunday school and don't even know what the Ascension is. Speaking of which I need to find a way to take polls so I can ask things about things like that.

Seriously this will blow you away. You are probably aware that that Jesus died on Good Friday and then rose again on Easter Sunday. Did you know that he finally went off to heaven 40 days later? I have said it before but I still am confused by why religious holidays are observed for work in a country where no one.....not kidding here, no one goes to church. So Ascension is a Thursday and the attached Friday is a 'squeeze day'. I don't recall if it was a paid day off but my entire team was gone so I decide to make it a long weekend too and take the family down to Copenhagen. Note at this point that our family is currently +1 as my mother in law is here visiting for a about 8 days. She will be leaving the day after we get back. I could insert a bunch of standard mother-in law jokes here but my wife's parents are threatening to get the Internet so I guess I should refrain.

I came Wednesday morning for a day of meetings and the family came down later in the day to meet up. We had rooms at the Scandic just outside the city center but they were on the 0-th floor which meant we got all the lobby and bar smoke every time we opened the hall door. Tina and I kept S in the crib in our room and J bunked with Grandma in the other room. The sleeping systems at the Scandic are very Lucy-Dezi as their big room is actually 2 single beds pushed together with nothing to hold them there. S ended up in bed with us a few nights and nearly fell through the crack between the beds twice.

Up for the Scandic breakfast which is remarkable for 2 things. Weinerbrod and so called 'itty bitty tiny Danish pickles'. I think I covered Weinerbrod before but it is my favorite treat in the world and I can't say enough about it. We would call it a Danish but obviously that is not very descriptive as all pastries in Denamark could be called Danish and that seems silly. Weinerbrod consistency is somewhere between a croissant and a Mexican bunuelo crispy and a bit firm. The best kind are the cinamon called Kanelkangles. When I am in Denmark I typically eat about 6,000 and often bring a box home with me on the plane.

The family toured around the city for a bit while I was working and I met back up at the hotel that night. Thursday was Tivoli day. Tivoli is the oldest theme park in the world (I think thats their claim) in any case, its like a very nice carnival back home but in a more permanent setting and totally missing the loveable, wacky mutant carnies. Its a beautiful place with flower gardens everywhere. Strangely there are as many rides as restaurants and I even found a churro stand. The kids had a good time and it didn't rain. It was 1 million miles from Disneyland/Magic Mountain. Lines for even the most popular rides are measured in single digit minutes. The carnival attractions were a kick too. Standard ring toss type stuff but a few old school games like the one where you throw rocks at plates, not to win anything just to break stuff.

I'll step lightly here but I do have to report that there was a lady lying on the grass with her creepy looking boyfriend near one of the main pedestrian areas. She was wearing a dress and sitting in such as way as to display her business (and by business I mean mean that her business wasn't covered by underwear or anything) to everyone walking past. It seemed purposeful in the way they were watching the crowd watch them and was totally a strange situation with all the kids walking around.

On that topic, Copenhagen is a city full of dirty things and dirty people. The tourist map/magazine has a several page spread promoting the museum of Erotica (which is located prominently on the main pedestrian shopping area). One picture in particular displayed a guy with completely impossible proportions. On a street adjacent to Tivoli whose lenght we drove on the bus about 12 times, there was a lovely collection of PORNO! SEX SHOP! GAY PORNO SEX SHOP! etc. While I am not going to be the dad that hides all everything from my kids, I don't want to be the dad trying to explain what the 'wiggling purple' thing in the window is. Nakedness abounds much more in Denmark than Sweden.

Me and the wife had a nice night out just before we left. Her mom kept the kids in her room and we were free to roam until late. It was nice (but cold) strolling near Nyhavn, dinner, coffee etc. For those of you that don't have small kids, its not possible to describe how strange it is to be on a date with your wife alone. I made a rule about not talking about the kids so we sat silently through most of dinner.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes

The saga goes like this.
  • Download the album from Itunes (link to buy) ($9.99 for 13 songs plus the cover art and the video for Blue Orchid, delivered right now = goodness).
  • Realize that I upgraded my laptop to Itunes 4.8 which is un-DRM-able at the moment.
  • Try to copy the files over to Tina's laptop but the wireless network is down.
  • Burn a CD of just the .m4p files.

  • Import them into Tina's laptop.

  • Strip out the DRM and convert to .mp3.

  • Move them up to Tiny (my psuedo Media Center PC age ~ 7 years) and import them into Itunes there.

  • Fire up the XBOX Media Center to play them through the TV.

Here is my idea for DRM. I would be totally willing to digitally 'sign' my music collection so that if it ends up on a BitTorrent site you can come arrest me for distribution. I just want to use the stuff I buy on all my devices without any hassle.

My unstructured notes on the album:

  • If I was still in high school and it was 1991 and I had my red Honda and played tapes and it was summer, this would be my summer album. I remember very fondly how back then certain albums became theme music for periods in my life.

  • There is a bit more piano and a bit less guitar on this album. According to the included .pdf its Jack playing the piano and he his piano is as distinctive as his guitar and I like it.

  • I read someplace that they made this in like 2 weeks. I want them to start making albums monthly.

  • On the album artwork, Jack looks like a sweaty-toothed madman.

  1. Blue Orchid - Frantic pace, great song for running.

  2. The Nurse - Any song that can combine marimba and rock music is great.

  3. My Doorbell - The hook is a little silly but I know will get stuck in my head. This song is probably my favorite on the album so far.

  4. Forever for Her (Its Over for Me) - Slower song, more marimba

  5. Little Ghost - A strange song lyrically. He isn't just in love with a ghost, he is planning some specific and I think impossible actions. Very twangy w/ a mandolin(?). The backup singers are quite a bit off.

  6. The Denial Twist - Love the beat, mostly piano and drums. Good one.

  7. White Moon - Slow song, a little ponderous as I didn't really notice when it ended.

  8. Instinct Blues - A song about evolution or something. Big guitary song but doesn't move fast enough.

  9. Passive Manipulation - 35 seconds of Meg only. When Meg sings, I feel compelled to pull out my fingernails.

  10. Take, Take, Take - Keeps changing tempos and is a bit psychotic that way. Its almost like when 2 songs are running through your head in parallel and they start to get mixed together. Good one.

  11. As Ugly As I Seem - Acoustic, just a nice song

  12. Red Rain - When I saw the title I was really hoping for a cover of Peter Gabriel's mopey song from So. Remember So? That was a great record. Its not a cover and not my favorite on the album.

  13. I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet) - Old country, gospel sound. Good way to end the album

Friday, June 03, 2005


I know I am going to Hell for this story (and a million other things just like it) but contact with the disabled have left a deep personal scar on me and its cathartic somehow to write about it. Seriously, you will think this is mean and you should not read it.

There are archetype 'looks' for retarded people and I will use them here as a shorthand. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was disparaging something other than what I am.

I was walking through Sergel's Torg (the main commuter square just outside the central subway station) when I heard music type sounds. I walked by to investigate and when I realized it was retards playing I was in quicksand.

The back row from left to right was anchored by a tall Mexican Herman Munster looking guy. I couldn't see that he was singing but was doing the Herman Munster dance and scowling at the crowd. His visage was a mix of SAT concentration and rap word-emphasizer guy (not sure the technical term but the guy who stalks menacingly around the stage and shouts the last line of each lyric to put em-pha-sis on it). To his left was the singer who was 'reading' the song lyrics from a music stand and shout-singing earnestly while strangling the mike stand. He was in a pose like about to take off running, left foot slightly forward. He was rocking back and forth violently. I don't know music technically at all but if the song was in 3/4 time he was oscillating in 10/4 time. Finally, an overweight mongoloid was 'playing' the drums like Animal from the Muppets, they must have fed this guy 18 Red Bulls.

The front row from right to left was led by a really old looking guy who was probably 20. He was standing and had a can of something clutched in his left hand that he was waving slowly and out of time like he just don't care. Standing next to him was a retarded version of Ron Jeremy playing a bass guitar that was the only thing keeping it all actually moving. Seated next near the center of the stage was a woman with a tiny shrunken head and that gummy overbite old people get when they don't have their dentures in. She barely moved and certainly wasn't singing or playing an instrument. On the far end was a fat guy with almost no neck sitting and playing a tambourine. He had his eyes screwed up tightly and looked like a blind blues piano player, swaying irregulalry and singing in bursts. After a while he decided he wanted his mic turned up so he jumped to his feet and began gesturing to the sound dude that he wanted the volume turned up so his voice could be heard. He did this by pointing at the sound man, at the mic, at his throat and pointing up. Repeat. Repeat alot. Growing frustration. Repeat emphatically. He then begins pounding his tambourine on the wall beside him. This went on longer than I could bear to watch. Time slowed like Kelvin seconds and finally totally stopped with only fatty banging his tambourine harder and louder in slow motion. Finally the inevitable old lady with spiky gray hair and loose, hemp clothing came up to hug him and he finally sat down and time began again.

I was probably there 30 seconds but it felt like a week. The guy next to me asked me first in Swedish and then in English if I was ok. I think I had turned green and looked like I had seen a ghost.

Sometime I will tell you about the summer I spent with my grandmother who took care of 2 retarded women in the house. It affected me profoundly.


A few articles I liked at McSweeneys.



Don't open this link if you love music. Rather, don't open it if you love music and have anything else to do today. They are not all great but a few are.

This is actually a litmus test designed to see if you are a big lame poser. If you claim to find it funny then you are trying to impress somebody and its highly likely that you got a Masters degree in a subject you didn't actually understand because you were fundamentally unskilled and afraid to go into the world and get a real job.

How you gonna live John?

More SGW recycle:

G$, did you write this (link) and somehow slip it into a 'real' newspaper? It goes from kinda funny to totally insane. Poe? Tupac? I will be back in the US in a month and promise to restore order.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Chronicle Project 1.0

I mentioned a few weeks ago the 'sadly ambitious' Chronicle project and here it is.

As 1) my self-involvement truly has no limits and 2) I have alot of semi-down time sitting in meetings and 3) I am always near my laptop I have, over time created the following interactive spreadsheet documenting key events in my life to this point. I haven't learned how to make it truly interactive so that I can get others to make updates but hope to in version 2.0. I have guessed on some of the dates and details from the early days (if you happen to know them please feel free to drop me a note). For my current job I sort of coded the customer names, its not important who they are really.

Here is a nice summary of some of the key counts.

17 Houses/Apartments (its actually higher once I find out where I lived prior to age 5)
11 Educational Institutions (Pre-school to University)
8 Standard Jobs (not counting assorted side deals, scams and other flim-flammery)
3 Sprint Triathlon Races ( I have never come in last, but its been close)
2 Weddings (same girl, go figure)
2 Kids (1 of each)

Tech Note:
Gotta use IE for the site. If you get errors, you also might need to install something on your machine from Microsoft called the Office Web Components (this link appears to be the right install).