“This is worse than a divorce. I’ve lost half my net worth and I still have a wife.”

— A market trader in Iceland, 10/17/2008

Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo?


Okay, I was originally just going to post a link to the story about The Naked Chef burning his penis while trying to cook naked, but then I read it, and discovered that he and his wife named their two daughters ‘Poppy Honey’ and ‘Daisy Boo’. And he’s getting ready to pack up the family and move to the US.

If those are indeed their legal names (and with a mother named ‘Jools’ it’s likely they are), I suspect they’re in for a fair amount of abuse in American schools. At the very least, I see them starting each school year with grim determination, desperate to keep the teacher from reading their names aloud while taking attendance. Much like my school friend Augustus MacLeod Freeman III, who managed to make it all the way to ninth grade with everyone convinced his name was actually ‘Sandy’.

The Return of Santiago


It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel by Mike Resnick. After finishing The Return of Santiago, it looks like it will be a while before I read another one.

It’s competently executed, and sufficiently entertaining that I did finish it, but if the plot had been any more telegraphed, they’d have had to change the title to Western Union. Maybe it’s because I’ve read four and a half other books set in this universe (I bounced hard on Widowmaker), but absolutely nothing that happened in this novel surprised me, and I’m already having trouble remembering any distinguishing characteristics of the characters.

Two things stand out: the running gag about Virgil’s sex life, which has no impact whatsoever on the story, and the fact that after Danny stumbles across the biggest secret in the history of the Inner Frontier, he cheerfully blabs it to damn near anyone within earshot, swearing them all to absolute secrecy.

Best spam subject line I’ve seen yet


Found this one in my Junk folder today, and it’s a perfect example of how the increasingly-desperate attempt to evade spam filters is starting to backfire:

Secrets Of Real Estate Investing moron

I just don’t see a lot of people falling for that one. :-)

Overture.com?


Spotted a bunch of referrer entries from this site, which appears to be a search engine. What made them stick out was their absurdity:

http://www.overture.com/d/search/p/nz/?xargs=02u3hs9yoazcuxLg0N81atTs8sSi%2B2Kcgtyi9IVipKy1TMSbdLzU0Hi2ZK5iTkpaWnJEWlFtsXGBoalRRnVlsn5jt6lxdnBFeFujkCOcitzy6JycxKLw2NKc70L0gKcvf0cXN0zCwsdHbWdlZ3AAMazz8l&Partner=netzero_yh_nzwebmail

A quick look at their web site told me all I’ll ever need to know about them:

Achieve superior monetization for your site with our customized solutions.

Gadget roundup


I’ve been using Hunter QuietFlo HEPA air purifiers around the house for a while. They’re really only quiet at the lowest of the three fan settings, but they work quite well on dust, pollen, and “unpleasant household odors,” and unlike some other brands, they sit flush against the wall. Replacement HEPA filters are in the $75-$90 range, which is a significant percentage of the cost of the unit, but they’re good for about a year of full-time service, and the activated carbon pre-filter that you replace every three months is much cheaper.

I’m not as convinced that the Hoover SilentAir 4000 is worthwhile as a replacement. There’s a suspicious lack of air-quality test results in their packaging and FAQs, and a quick smoke-test suggests that it’s not particularly efficient at quickly removing particulate matter and odors from a room. The lack of a fan is touted as an advantage, but if incense and cigar smoke produced two feet away can linger in the air for hours in a closed room, I don’t see how it’s purifying my air. [note that both of these odor sources are normally banned inside my home, and were introduced purely for test purposes]

I am enthusiastic about my Fellowes PowerShred DM15C. I can’t link directly to a product page, because there isn’t one. Apparently the only place in the world that sells it is Costco, and they don’t list it on their web site. It’s a medium-duty confetti-cut office shredder that can handle CDs/DVDs, credit cards, and up to 15 sheets of heavy paper at a time (with staples and paper clips). And it’s on wheels. About a third of my snail-mail goes into it unopened, neatly disposing of all those unsolicited mortgage and credit-card offers.

I have mixed feelings about my Olympus DS-330 digital voice recorder. I do my best thinking while walking or driving, and voice memos are definitely the way to capture that, but the people who design these things are emulating the standalone tape-recorder user interface, and PC integration is a check-box feature added as an afterthought. The only reason I bought this model is because they ship software for both Mac and PC.

It’s not great software, mind you, and their failure to make it a mass-storage compliant USB drive means Linux users are SoL until someone figures out its interface, but at least its not Windows-only like the new VN-240 PC. If you can live with that limitation, though, the VN-240 PC looks like a good deal: half the price of the DS-330, twice the capacity, and a better control layout.

I’d love to spend about an hour locked in a room with Olympus’ design team so that I could explain to them how a modern voice recorder should work, but I may have to settle for blogging it. I’m trying to resist the temptation to pass my ideas on to the folks up north; while we have the power to make a kick-ass recorder, I fear they’d miss the point and turn it into a full-fledged CE device with wireless MSN service and DRM.

New product idea…


If I were going to open a CafePress store, and I’m not, my first product would be a baseball cap with the following slogan printed in metallic silver:

Bush stole the election and
all I got was this tinfoil hat.

With mostly-sincere apologies to Teresa Nielsen Hayden and her nutbar t-shirt (which is being redesigned in a less-illegible form).

Anime endings: Steel Angel Kurumi 1 & 2


Warning: there’s so little plot in Steel Angel Kurumi that I can’t possibly talk about the ending without revealing most of it. If you’re spoiler-shy, stop reading now.

more...

Citi really, really wants me


I thought it was amusing back in January when CitiBank sent me three credit-card offers in one day, all basically identical to the card I already had with them. Today, a knock on my door announced the arrival of an unsolicited Instant Rate Modification offer from CitiMortgage, complete with pen and return next-day air envelope.

They want to lower my interest rate from 4.25% to 4.0%, effective immediately, for the low price of $250. Since it would save me $43 a month, on the surface it looks like a good deal. But the offer is good for one week only, which makes me look at the fine print. As expected, it resets the fixed period on my 3/1 ARM, locking me into this rate until 2007.

I think it’s time to shop around and see what sort of refinancing deals other banks will offer me.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”