Ten Signs You Might Be Turning Into an Evil Overlord

10. Everybody hates you.

9. The price of butter is sky-high, but there are guns everywhere.

8. You can’t go out the front door without the skies being dark with helicopter gunships and an escort of men in black whispering up their sleeves.

7. People publish annoying cartoon caricatures of you in foreign newspapers. Anonymously.

6. You’re maintaining military bases in 70% of all the independent nations on the planet, some of which out-number the host nation’s own armed forces.

5. Vladimir Putin tells you you’re one of his role models. (The other is Yuri Andropov.)

4. Osama bin Laden stops sending you birthday cards.

3. Orson Scott Card thinks you’re a swell president.

2. The History Channel’s "UFO Files" is doing a special on orbital mind control laser battle stations this month; you tell them you’ll take two.

1. Your receptionist pops in to say there’s a Mr. Mephistopheles waiting in the office to talk to you about your loan repayments …

(Stolen with slight modifications from Charles Stross’s blog.)

DSL Update

Thanks to everyone who replied with regards to my DSL woes.  I apparently had a brain tumor for breakfast yesterday morning because when I was checking with various providers, I kept giving them the phone number of our new house.  Said phone number is not yet active.  So, of course, no server reported DSL as available to that number.

Turns out, though, our new house is only 5,500 feet away from the CO (I’m not entirely sure what that is), so services are VERY available to that location.  After looking at various recommendations and checking out reviews, I’ve decided to go with Sonic.net.  They can provide the services I want at cheaper than AT&T (though more expensive than our current plan).  I like the fact that they’re a locally-owned business, and I really like the fact that they understand Linux and won’t constantly be asking me what version of Windows I’m running when I have questions.  Seriously.  It got to the point where if I had tech support issues with AT&T, I would just answer "Windows XP" when they asked what OS I was running.  And then when they said, "Open up your connection manager", I would just use VI to open up /etc/network/ifconfig.  It was always frustrating, knowing more about networking than their techs.

It was hard to choose between Sonic and OmSoft.  Both have great reviews on dslreports.net and both come highly recommended from friends of mine in the area who would know.  I chose Sonic because they were slightly cheaper for the services I wanted.

So, thanks again to all who gave me their suggestions.

The Joy of Moving

Escrow closed yesterday, and now the house in downtown Sacramento is officially ours now.  There’s still some paperwork to fill out and stuff to sign and inspections to complete and an old house to pack up and everything else, but we have keys and the house is officially ours.

Can I get a Woo Hoo?

I’m looking forward to the new house.  We had the final walk through yesterday, and noted a few minor issues; what Jennifer’s mother described as "character".  Things like how the kitchen cupboards have been painted so many times over the years that they no longer close properly (which is okay because we’re going to be remodeling the kitchen anyway), and how the carriage house in the back is essentially held together by cobwebs and prayer.  And how the peach tree in the side yard doesn’t grow peaches so much as something that’s about the size of an apricot and with fuzz that calls for one of those new razors from Gillette, the one with four blades.  And they’re overly squishy.  I wasn’t reminded of a produce stand with these peaches as I was a story from Lovecraft.  The lemons on the lemon tree, though, are rich and plump and the size of grapefruits; I’m sure we’ll find a use for them.

Of course, part of moving involves transferring over our phone line, our DSL account, and all that.  Now, we’ve had the same DSL account for years; Jennifer actually got it when she was still living in Woodland, and the company that offered it then — PacBell, which no longer exists — was giving out static IP addresses like they were candy.  A static IP address is a Good Thing; if you run a web server from your house, which we do, you want a static IP address.  Trust me on this if you don’t know what one is.  When we moved to Dixon, we were able to have that feature of the DSL account grandfathered to our new address.  Unfortunately, no matter how much I fussed with AT&T (which now owns the defunct PacBell), we can’t get a static IP address.  We can get an account with five static IP addresses, for a mere $20 extra, but I can’t imagine why I’d need five static IP addresses.  The conversation I had went something like this:

ME:  Hi, I’d like the same rock I had before, please.

AT&T: Oh, we no longer offer that rock.  But here, for just an additional twenty dollars a month, you can have this bag with five rocks!

ME:  Why on earth would I want five rocks?  I only need one.

AT&T:  Well, we’re not sure why you’d want five, but I can’t give you just one.

ME:  You can’t just give me one?  I’d be willing to pay an extra five dollars a month for it, really, but I don’t want five.

AT&T:  Nope.  It’s five rocks or none.

Yeah, we went around like that several times.  At one point, I even pointed out that if I only took one IP address, then that was four additional IP addresses that they could give to other customers that needed static IP addresses.

AT&T:  Oh, that’s not an issue.  We’ll never run out of static IP addresses for our customers.

ME:  Then why are static IP addresses so much more expensive?

The guy I was talking to had no answer for that one.  Unfortunately, logic doesn’t win with these guys, so it’s still five static IP addresses or none.

I spent a few hours yesterday looking around for another DSL provider in the area who could provide the service I needed at a reasonable price.  If I can avoid giving money to AT&T — whose slogan "Your world, delivered" has the unstated addendum, "…right into the hands of the government in violation of federal law" — that would make me happy.  Unfortunately, there are no other providers in the area.  For now we’re stuck.  I finally agreed to take a cheaper service from AT&T, without a static IP address, on a month to month service term so that I can cancel as soon as another provider is able to service our area.

Moving our Dish satellite service is pretty straightforward, but also involves its own share of absurdity.  Apparently, with Dish, from the time we request a work order to the time the work order is executed, local channels would be disabled on our account.

ME:  WTF?

THEM:  Yep.

ME:  So if I placed a work order today to request our service be transfered in two weeks, we would get no local channels at either house for two weeks?

THEM:  That’s it exactly.

I had to get this person to clarify this for me, three different times, using three different wordings.  When I asked why this was, the guy I spoke to said he didn’t know, that no one in his office knows, that he asked the very same question during training and his trainers couldn’t provide an answer either.  I suspect someone somewhere got something wrong, because this is just too absurd for words, but I decided to let it go and just wait until next week to place the work order.

Still, overall, I’m very happy about the move, even if AT&T is a confederacy of clowns and we’re stuck with them for some services.  The coolest part, I think, is that our new house is just about two miles away from my office, and each day on the way to and from work I get to pass by an historical old cemetery in the heart of Sacramento.  That’s the part, I know, that you are most jealous of.

What the MPAA has to say

[link removed]

Apparently it’s because because I used the word “sexy” five times, and the word “crap” once.  What a potty-mouth!

(Meme swiped from the Adventures in Ethics and Science blog, of all places.)

Very cool time displacement video technique

Via BoingBoing, this very cool video demonstration of a time displacement technique called "Slit Scan":

For those who give any kind of a damn, I tried describing this very effect in how the Terassic — those big spiky monster critters from the last D&D game, Worlds’ End, that I ran — moved.  Being interdimensional and evil does nasty things to the way you move.

The Little Demons March On

From Chicago:  Squirrels Torch Man’s Home Twice in 8 Days:

For the second time in eight days, Turcott’s Blue Island home caught fire when squirrels knocked high-voltage wires loose from a utility pole and onto his three-story house, fire officials said.

An accident? I think not.

And then from Burlingham, VT:  Squirrel Deflects Bullet to Tree Worker!  The squirrel-dominated media, of course, would have us believe that the hunter was at fault for bad aim, but I think we know better.

The people in India had better watch out: Giant flying squirrel found in Jharkhand. Looks like reinforcements are starting to show up.  And this one flies, too.

Let’s be careful out there.

Sexy Dames Ahead

This picture is one of the sexiest pictures I’ve ever seen:

Sexy Picture

American Beauty was a decent enough film, and Mena Suvari was attractive, but the photograph above — modeled after that iconographic image from American Beauty — is a masterpiece. It captures the woman’s beauty, it shows off her curves; it captures an essential sexiness that Mena Suvari just couldn’t grasp.  It’s a beautiful, amazing picture.

And if you’ve been paying attention to the blogosphere today, you know that it’s part of an ad campaign from Brazil promoting a product called Fit Yogurt: a non-fat yogurt.  The text roughly translates to, "Forget it. Men’s preferences will never change. Fit Light Yogurt."  I suppose the connotation is supposed to be that men aren’t going to find women like the model in this picture attractive, so women should go find non fat yogurt.

A lot of people find this ad campaign offensive; me, I just think it’s dumb.  Granted, I’m not part of the target demographic, so maybe if I were a woman I’d find the ad depressing and I’d fall for its hype.  But as a man, I’m just not turned on by women who have bodies like a pre-pubescent boy, despite what shows up on television; Ellen Pompeo will never be sexy, no matter how much hair she has.

So the ad is blatantly wrong; there are lots of men (and plenty of women) who find women like the one in this ad sexy.  And, of course, societal norms of beauty have changed; skinny has only been sexy for the past century or so.  For centuries before that, larger was better because it denoted health and prosperity.  But I suspect that these facts won’t matter for a lot of the women in this ad’s target demographic.  There’s so much pressure on women to be skinny in western culture, and I suspect that it’s this pressure, more than "men’s preferences", that drive these sorts of ads.

So, this ad just leaves me confused, a bit offended, kind of annoyed, and in desperate need of a cold shower.

(Thanks to filk singer Tom Smith for the heads up.)

Bold Defender

The squirrels have made their opening moves.  But all is not lost! For Dramatic Chipmunk is here to save the day!

(Note: BoingBoing is calling this "the funniest five second video on the Internet".  I concur.)