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*tap tap tap* Is this still on? 16.May.10

Posted by checkypantz in meta, Uncategorized.
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Well, as the stats on this blog show, there’s no one reading this. So it won’t really inconvenience anyone if I were to say that this blog has moved, effective today.

On May 10, the domain jamjam.us went live. You can head over there to check it out if you’re so inclined.

This morning, the new address for the blog went live: booknine.jamjam.us. I don’t think I’ll be updating this incarnation of the blog any longer, but it lives on at the new address. If you somehow get to see this message, that’s where I’ve gone.


Garrison Keillor, on his CVA 19.September.09

Posted by checkypantz in Uncategorized.
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“Life is not always chronological.”

Amen, brother.

Teddy & the Refuseniks 26.August.09

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If there’s anyone out there mystified by the sorrow and gratitude many people are experiencing in the wake of Senator Kennedy’s passing yesterday, this CNN story encapsulates pretty well how many of us saw him as a legislator and as a human being. No, he wasn’t perfect, but neither am I and neither are you. And like his brothers, he always sought “our better angels”.

Requiescat in pace.

Happy 233rd birthday, USA 5.July.09

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Great weather, great people, great location, great food. It all makes for some pretty great pictures. Check them out in the album.

The Nat'l fireworks extravaganza, as seen from Bloomingdale.

The Nat'l fireworks extravaganza, as seen from Bloomingdale.

Acta Update: No News Is No News 15.June.09

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John Feinstein wades into the pool this morning with “Whether or Not This Is Final Acta, Nats Need to Change Script“. Clever, huh?


The article’s a decent way to pass a couple of minutes, but there’s a comment from lawberns that sums up a lot of my frustration with the Nats:

Do the Nationals ever try to steal? Do they sacrifice, or hit-and-run? Do they even tag up on a long fly to get a runner into scoring position? When they fall behind, where’s the scratch-and-claw, the “let’s get a run any way we can” philosophy? There’s no fire; there’s no fun! I was at a (losing) game last weekend where our starter was getting hammered early — no infielder ever came over to him, patted him on the rear, encouraged him, relaxed him; they just let him hang himself. In fact, the fielders’ body language was awful; no one seemed to care and you felt that instead of a team the Nats have become an every man for himself club. I’m sorry, but that flows down from the head man. Acta may be “a class act,” but he appears unable or unwilling to inspire or motivate the Nats, and this team needs that most of all if they’re ever going to turn it around!

Bingo. Take risks. Play with flair. Give the fans something to talk about. You’re failing horribly right now. Stop playing conservatively and at least start failing in interesting ways.

The Riggleman Age will probably still suck 14.June.09

Posted by checkypantz in baseball, DC.
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As a long suffering Nats transplant (after nearly 30 years as a long-suffering Phillies-native), I’m thrilled to be in a town where the baseball team is so unbelievably bad that they are forced to fire their manager, because honestly it cannot really get worse than this.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports caught a scoop on Saturday from MLB sources that Manny Acta’s on his way out. (Because I don’t patronize News Corp sites, I didn’t see the news/rumor until today via DCist.)

Only one word came to mind upon seeing the Tweet: FINALLY.

It’s been crystal clear that Acta’s move into the managerial role was a bad, bad move from the Lerner/Kasten/Bowden squad. What’s less clear is how much of an improvement Jim Riggleman will be. Putting a little math to the problem, the short answer is: not much.

The Rosenthal item says that Acta will be fired sometime “this week”. My bet is upon the conclusion of the Nats – Yankees series. The Nats were destined to lose this triad since the first fusion reaction in the Sun, and Kasten & Rizzo don’t want to saddle their new manager with an 0-3 record before his first week is over. So I’m betting on a headline out of Nats Park first thing Friday morning. (If the move is made tomorrow, it will be interesting to see the reaction if the Nats do manage to take one from the surging Yanks in their teeny-tiny new ballfield.)

Riggleman has an MLB record of 522-652 as a manager (.445). The Nats are currently 16-45, with 101 games remaining. They’ll most likely be 16-48 by the time Friday morning rolls around. Assuming that the Nats under a Riggleman regime win exactlyan average number of games under Riggleman, the Riggleman Nats of 2009 will have a 44-54 record for the rest of the season. They close with just under 100 losses, which is an improvement over last year, and Riggleman gets an extension in the off-season.

Will it happen this way? Probably not. Riggleman has way less to work with in terms of personnel than he ever did in SD, SEA or CHC. We’re definitely headed for another 100+ loss season. The only real question is, will it be any better than the 120 losses we’re on pace to do this year. And the answer to that is yes. And that’s enough reason to celebrate.

The only other question is: can the Riggleman Nats avoid being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before Labor Day. All Signs Point To No. Because I am your magic 8-ball of Love.

My week with Chrome 10.June.09

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Every once in a while, I get antsy about how I do the things I do and shake things up to see if something better rises to the surface. I just concluded one of those shake-up tests, changing my default browser from my beloved Firefox to Google’s new-ish browser Chrome. After a week of exclusive use, I’ve decided it’s not yet time to abandon Firefox (despite it beginning to show signs of bloat) because, quite simply, Chrome just isn’t ready for prime time.

The pros of Chrome: It is the fastest browser in the stable of six I have installed (along with Firefox, IE, Seamonkey, Safari and Opera). It renders pages snappily, and – as you might expect – handles Google’s products flawlessly. I’m a big consumer of Google’s gmail, calendar, reader and almost a dozen of their other services, so this is no small consideration. On most of the advanced web services I use aside from Google stuff, Chrome measures up pretty well. The reason I started considering a switch last week was yet another stream of errors with flash-based video in Firefox, a problem that until last week I hadn’t encountered since FF went to 3.0. With Flash-based sites and site elements (and indeed, most Adobe dynamic media I encountered), Chrome behaved well. Where it faltered was in places that were only expecting FF or IE. Zoho doesn’t work at all in Chrome. Some special features that I was checking out on Yahoo.jp didn’t work. Bing crashed its Chrome tab pretty consistently (although I blame Silverlight in that one as well). So not all of the web works just yet. But you can get to much more of it in Chrome than you can in Opera.

Another major plus in Chrome’s favor is the threading it uses. If there’s a fault in one of your tabs, it doesn’t bring your browsing to a screeching halt (most of the time). As I mentioned, Bing caused its tab to crash on, I believe, four of the five times I tried loading it, especially if I was trying to see older backgrounds. But the only adverse thing that happened was a notice from Chrome that the tab’s process had crashed and that the tab needed to be closed. However, everything else I was doing was completely unaffected. Chrome separates each tab into a discreet process, something you can see clearly by going into Windows’ Task Manager during a Chrome session. As more and more of our daily life is moved into web applications, the need for IE and FF to move to that sort of tab-threading will become more urgent. It is one of the major advances that Chrome brings to the table.

But, at the end of the day, I am a creature of habit. I like spending time getting things just-so, and then leaving it alone. Firefox won the day in that regard a long time ago with its browser extensions (an idea it shamelessly stole from Opera but implemented in a much better fashion). I forgot just how much I’ve customized the living hell out of Firefox until I moved over to Chrome and didn’t have so many of the little shortcuts and visual cues in my browser that I was used to. And this, ultimately is the dealbreaker for me. Here’s a checklist of items that I have in Firefox that I will require in Chrome (either as parallel extensions, or something within the browser itself that mirrors their functionality:

  • ForecastFox – A line that appears either in the menubar or statusbar that is customizable but generally contains current weather conditions and forecasts. Saves me from going to Weather Underground every time I want to see a forecast or the temperature, and unavailable in Chrome.
  • IE Tab: Instead of always going over to IE, especially if I am testing something, I’ll just click the little icon in the statusbar that changes the rendering engine from mozilla to IE’s. All of IE’s features and ties to Windows become available right within Firefox itself. Pretty handy, and unavailable in Chrome.
  • Image Zoom: A very simple-yet-powerful tool that lets me blow up images on my screen just by right-clicking on an image and selecting a size. Useful when people post images that are smaller than my screen resolution allows to view comfortably. As far as I can tell, there’s nothing that duplicates that behavior in Chrome.
  • PDF Download: Another simple tool. It simply provides an option when I click on a PDF link of either viewing or saving the PDF. Sometimes I just want to look at it. Sometimes I’m saving it for posterity. In either case, I’m a fix-it-and-forget-about-it kind of guy, so having that option in the moment is of high value to me. Chrome just offers to save them. Bleh.
  • Tab Mix Plus: While I didn’t experience much difficulty at all with Chrome’s tabs, there are a few behaviors I would alter if I could. Oh wait, I can. Just not in Chrome. Lack of options in how the tabs behave makes Chrome a non-starter.
  • Xmarks: Formerly Foxmarks, the popularity of being able to back up your bookmark file and even sync your bookmarks across computers caused the developers to create Safari and IE extensions for their tool, which caused the thing to be renamed. Opera has its own bookmark backup tool that is not compatible. Chrome, however, has bubkes. Your bookmarks get horked in Chrome and man, you’re screwed. Having invested as much time as I have in maintaining my bookmarks, the thought of having to start from scratch is positively horrifying, so Xmarks becomes essential. No Xmarks for Chrome = No Chrome for checkypantz.

There are a few other minor annoyances I have with Chrome: non-standard titlebar, no easy way to determine if a site has an RSS feed (there’s an RSS indicator that lights up in Firefox’s Awesomebar), and a few other minor things. Perhaps the most annoying was the inability to use the search bar that’s in the left-hand sidebar in Wikipedia (and indeed, in all WikiMedia-powered sites). I couldn’t get the cursor into the box, instead having to click the search button with the search box empty, then entering my search terms in the box in the main body of the resulting page. That smells more like a bug than a shortcoming to me, and one I suspect will likely get fixed in short order.

On the whole, Chrome is a very good browser, and appears to be well on its way to becoming an excellent browser. Given time, it will replace Firefox as my default, unless the Mozilla project comes up with something truly revolutionary that leapfrogs Chrome. But for now, it’s still an also-installed for me.

Adventures at the DMV 15.May.09

Posted by checkypantz in DC, I wrote this.
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This morning:

[JASON gets called up to have his picture taken.]

PICTURE TAKER GUY: [Smiling.] Step into the blue box and face the camera. [JASON does so.] Ok, the camera’s going to flash in three seconds.



PICTURE TAKER GUY: [Smiling more broadly.] You didn’t get it. The camera’s going to flash in three seconds.

JASON: [Trying to “get it”.] Um. Ok.

PICTURE TAKER GUY: No, you still didn’t get it. The camera’s going to flash in three seconds. [Smiling, waits expectantly for JASON to get it.]

JASON: [Still trying.] Oh, I see – the camera doesn’t flash, the bulb does –

PICTURE TAKER GUY: No, the camera flashes, like it takes off its clothes –

JASON: [Gets it.] Oh. Heh. [Start to mime unbuttoning his shirt.] Should I start taking my clothes off too?

PICTURE TAKER GUY: Ha. That’s funny. [Pause.] Ok, face the camera. It will flash in two seconds.

[Two seconds. Camera flashes.]


What in the world is Obama doing? 14.May.09

Posted by checkypantz in current, election10, election12, I wrote this, politics.
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Wait, wait! I think I know this one.

RE: Changing his mind about releasing the torture detention photos (e.g., now he doesn’t want to)…

He’s President. He must know a lot more than we’re all being told about this. He sees the big picture and knows all the crap that’s going to come out in the wash over the next few weeks and months. And he can see that there’s only one outcome: prosecution of Bush administration lawyers and officials (Bybee and Yoo at the very minimum, Cheney at the max). Knowing that their prosecution is as near a certainty as one can get in this town, he’s positioning himself in a very safe spot. He will, at the end of the torture saga, be able to say that he defended moving on. He’ll be able to say to the electorate in 2012, “I did not want to go down that path.” But I think secretly he does, and he’s taken a position of shelter because he knows the Congressional Democrats are going to do all of the dirty work for him. Obama going after Bush would look proper. Or it definitely wouldn’t look like he brought a change to the culture in Washington. But this torture thing is meat & potatoes (or whatever the hippie, cow-friendly version is)  for Democrats. The issue will poll well for the Congressfolks and Senators back home (in the bluer districts, at least).

About the only thing left for Obama to do in this scenario is, at the point where it’s obvious to everyone that prosecutions are imminent or have already filed, say to America, “This is now our chance to show the rest of the world that we are once again listening to our better angels.”

Or something.

Wisdom for the Ages 9.May.09

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Just startin’ off, you know, and then hopefully, you know, who knows, you know hopefully it will, whatever. Yes!

Hope you feel good. I think I’m enjoying myself, you know. But you never know. Sometimes you got to do what you got to do. Other times, when you got to do what you got to do but you want to. Do it. Other times you don’t want to, but you got to, because it’s what you got to do. Sometimes. Other times, you get to do what you want to, because you got to. Ohhh.

-Dave Matthews, 6/28/08