Thursday, May 31, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Unmistakable Signs Of Summer

This weekend I:

got my first sunburn of the season
ate brunch outside
bought an air conditioner
went to a barbeque at the point.

I think summer's here at last!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


"It is summer time! It is time to climb up on things and yell at other things that are too high to reach. It is time to mess up the calm quiet routines we built up all winter. With fire. It is time to make yourself proud and everyone else a little nervous." (joey comeau of a softer world)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Protest Fashion

Spent the day watching the NATO protests on TV. Have little patience for the actual causes, but have become fascinated with protest fashion. What DOES the modern revolutionary wear to a protest? What is the balance between statement and practicality? Below, some of the fashion items and accessories I've noted.

silver sparkly wig - statement? disguise? crazy person?
kid's party hat - ?
ugly orange beanie - dude, it's 90 degrees out
bandanas - classic
spray painted sign saying "fuck the police" - cliche. come on, reach for some creativity.
winged helmet (Thor costume?) - stupid unless you're actually Thor, and since he wasn't punching people across the street I don't think it was
neon ball caps - unfashionable 80s throwback, but useful for locating your brothers-in-protest in the crowd
giant sunglasses - Audrey Hepburn would never have attended a protest like that
shirtless - I hope you remembered to wear sunscreen
batman tshirt - mixed messages here. bruce wayne was a maverick, sure, but he was technically on the same side as the police. as for the occupy people, bruce wayne was definitely one of the 1%.

from chicago tribune photo gallaries:
"will work for weed" tshirt - classy, also guaranteed to make cops sympathetic
overall shorts - really?
a giant cardboard sign in the shape of a dollar sign, painted a weird yellow color - i admire your arts and crafts ability
floppy lace sunhat (note: wearer was a very elderly woman) - i guess if you're out in the sun surrounded by anarchists at that age, you can wear whatever you damn well please
a cardboard cutout of a torso with big boobs labelled "bust up NATO" - um. clever?
any number of anarchist tshirts - i'm going to be honest, i really thought anarchism was kind of an archaeic thing of the past. you know, starving bohemians smoking and eating baguettes in vienna coffee shops in 1920 and dying of consumption because their garretts didn't have heat. didn't realize there were so many of them still out there
full on black robe/goggles/long nose Black Plague costume; sign "beware the plague of capitalism" - i'm going to be honest this was super impressive
blue hair - honestly, since katy perry it feels a little "establishment"
peace sign glasses (note: on an old lady) - these were probably your protest glasses in the 70's right? (note: i then read the photo caption and she has had them since 1959!!!)

NATO Weekend in Chicago

drinking g&t's at the point and waving to the cops in the low-flying police helicopter

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tiny Angry Demons

Have you ever had/used a printer that didn’t have some weird quirk of dysfunctionality? Me either. And now I have a theory as to why.

Certain religions and systems of belief hold that objects like trees and rocks are inhabited by their own individual spirits. I think Shinto is like this, for one thing. Maybe some Native American religions? I’m no expert. Anyway, most of these focus on things found in nature, or things that are in some way alive. But I don’t see why it can’t be true for printers. As far as I can see, there’s also no reason these inhabiting spirits have to be benevolent. Wouldn’t everything make a lot more sense if each and every printer were inhabited by a tiny, angry demon?

Trapped in their inky little domains, these minute gods wreak a terrible if narrowly-scoped vengeance. At work, one of our printers announces that it is jammed in between every page. It is not jammed. All you have to do is push the button to tell it to continue. Between every. single. page. This printer used to work great, when it was located in the main office. Now, after renovations, it has been consigned to a back lab. This appears to have displeased its tiny angry demon, hence, the current difficulties. The other printer is out of magenta ink, and thus refuses to print anything at all, even when not a single pixel is magenta.

The tiny angry printer demons are often arbitrary in the meting out of their judgements. For months, I couldn’t get our printer to allow me to print double-sided pages. One day it started printing double-sided and never stopped. If I wanted single-sides – critical when, for example, you are printing sticky labels – I had to either insert blank pages into the document or give an individual print command for each page.

So, what to do about this problem? Imagine a world where we have figured out how to appease the tiny angry printer demons. Imagine the productivity gained, the headaches saved! Imagine how many times I wouldn’t have to run up and down the stairs between floors to try AGAIN. Obviously the most extreme solution is blood sacrifice. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There are a few other things we could try first. Sometimes one person seems to have a good relationship with your printer’s tiny angry demon. For example, in college, I was the only one who could get my next door neighbor Lauren’s printer to work. Everyone else would fail, and then I would float in like the Tiny Angry Demon Whisperer, lay my hand consolingly on the plastic, and press the button. And like magic, it would print. However, see paragraph above re: arbitrariness of tiny angry printer demons. There’s no guarantee this solution will last, and anyway if you change offices or get a new printer you have to search for a new person with a special relationship with the resident tiny angry demon.

Another, more tenable solution, might be printer gods. If you are a scientist or have ever worked in a lab with equipment like PCR machines, you’ll be familiar with this concept. Most labs with PCR machines have PCR gods, totems that live on the machine and (hopefully) protect your samples from the wrath of whoever it is that controls PCR results. Usually they are tiny stuffed animals or happy meal toys or something like that. Our old lab had a wind-up Yoda. The Field Museum sequencers have Beanie Babies. The exact form isn’t important. Generally scientists aren’t a very superstitious lot, but no one moves PCR gods. It’s just Not Done. We could also try tiny altars like in India where fruit and flowers can be left for the tiny angry demons. My guess is that it would take a while to figure out what your particular demon was fond of – mangos and lilies? strawberries and poppies? – and again, they are arbitrary so perhaps it would be futile.

If that fails, then I’m not sure what comes next. Based on the behavior of every printer I have ever owned or operated, the tiny angry demons are very angry indeed. It’s possible that, if you value a straightforward printing experience that highly, you’re going to have to start reading up on black magic and considering which member of your office or lab you can most afford to spare.