“If you had to lose to somebody, at least you know it was somebody better than you!”

— Foglio Scion of Doom

…sticks where it’s supposed to…


Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that one had recently had an unpleasant encounter with some pavement. And, purely for the sake of argument, let’s say that the clothing one was wearing mostly protected one’s body from being damaged by this encounter, but allowed a relatively small patch of skin to be, in the vernacular, “rubbed raw.”

What over-the counter remedies would one find best suited to dealing with this situation? My list (which isn’t at all hypothetical, more’s the pity):

  • Bayer aspirin
  • Bactine Pain Relieving Cleansing Wipes
  • Nexcare Non-Stick Pads (which, I'm pleased to report, do not, in fact, stick)
  • Nexcare Micropore Paper First Aid Tape (which sticks to hairy arms without subsequently removing said hair)
  • Band-Aid Hurt-Free Cleansing & Infection Protection Foam (which penetrates more deeply than the wipes)

First-aid products might not be a sexy market, but they’ve improved a lot since I last fell off of a two-wheeled vehicle, sometime in the early Seventies.

When Captain America is outlawed…


…only outlaws will have Captain America, I suppose. Cartoonist Scott Kurtz just discovered the hard way that a lot of the Left-leaning people who’ve been accused of hating America really do hate America. Even Captain America.

Last night, after the day started to wind down I logged into my favorite virtual world for some escape time. The City of Heroes game has been my online diversion of choice as of late. I really enjoy the game a lot.
I've tried just about every character type and I'm settling on my favorites. Last night, for fun, I decided to make myself a Captain America type hero...you know, go the whole patriotic route.

The typical reaction when his red, white, and blue hero appeared in public? “Ugh. I hate our country.” “How can you wave a flag of a country that kills other countries for oil we already have.” “Bush is an idiot.”

Kurtz’s response? A series of macros to quickly counter the reflexive anti-Americanism he’s running into. My favorite?

"I defeated Hitler's reanimated body to defend your freedom to say that."

Product Review: Zippo Z-Clip


I don’t have much practical use for a lighter, but I like carrying one around to assert my membership in a tool-using species (I also carry a pocket-knife, but have found no good excuse so far to carry around a wheel). So, when the folks at Zippo added a small cell-phone-style belt clip to their catalog, I was interested.

It’s crap. The clip snapped off of the damn thing within two days.

Anime Endings: Happy Lesson


First, an annoyance. The main character’s first name is Chitose, chi-toe-say. In the dub (and the previews that appear on other DVDs), this becomes Cheetos. Everyone calls him this, even the shy class president who has a crush on him and wouldn’t dream of calling him by his first name. Other than that, the dub isn’t wretched, but it’s not very good, either, and as usual you should leave the dialog in Japanese with subtitles.

Second, a clarification. The Happy Lesson manga is proceeding more slowly than the anime, and in a slightly different direction (even the main character’s name is different, but it’s still not Cheetos), but it was the first thing to come out in English. They released the TV series next, and just recently the first three OVA episodes, but I think the latter should be watched first, since they introduce two characters who aren’t in the manga and just show up out of the blue in the TV series. The first episode of the TV series is an alternate edit of the OVA opener, but the rest is different, and develops the cast a lot more.

Third, it doesn’t really end, because they made a second season (as yet not officially licensed for US release).

With all that out of the way, what’s it like? Well, imagine a typical harem comedy where beautiful women move into a house with a hapless teenage boy and compete for his affections. Got that in your head? Okay, now throw out the romance angle, and replace it with motherly affection. And make the five sexy roommate-mothers his schoolteachers. Add in a shy-but-stacked classmate as the real love interest, two old friends from the orphanage Our Hero lived in until recently, and (eventually) a socially-phobic mad scientist, and, as they say, “wackiness ensues”.

Yes, that’s nine females fussing over poor Chitose, but their looks and personalities are distinct and interesting, and all of them get at least a little bit of character development. Another sharp departure from the harem anime tradition is the relative lack of fan-service; the women are lushly drawn, but outside of the bath, their clothes stay on, their skirts stay down, their breasts remain ungroped, and the boys aren’t popping nosebleeds all over the place in response to a quick flash.

The plot, such as it is, that ties things together is the lovestruck classmate’s attempts to both discover what Chitose is hiding about his home life and to reveal her feelings to him. It builds up nicely as the series progresses, and ends with major achievements toward both goals, which, unfortunately, are abruptly reversed in the final scene. I had that “Bobby Ewing steps out of the shower” feeling as the writers hit reset and prepared for the next season.

It’s light and fluffy, but well done, and a refreshing take on the harem clichés. I’ll definitely pick up any additional releases in this series. But I’m kinda pissed about that last scene.

Great ways to end a phone call…


I received an unwanted call this morning that fell into that gray area of “maybe I’m a telemarketer, maybe I’m someone who’s exempt from the do-not-call list,” and I hung up on them with the following statement:

"Sorry, gotta run, my ham's exploding."

It was, too. Little cubes of ham were flying out of the skillet onto the counter and floor. Guess they weren’t kidding about that “water added” on the label.

Where have all the FoundViews gone?


Someone forwarded the story of the “lone Chernobyl motorcyclist” to Steven Den Beste, which naturally resulted in a lengthy and interesting article that has very little to do with Chernobyl, motorcycles, or the common Internet tendency to share wonderful, unlikely things with everyone you know.

I’m going to go in a different direction.

more...

Things I like about my motorcycle


  • Heated grips.
  • 60+ miles per gallon (they claim 55mpg at 75mph and vice versa, I've measured it at 62), 4 gallon tank.
  • Terrific headlight, brighter and with better coverage than many of the cars I'm out on the road with. The high-beam is rarely necessary, but still fun to use.
  • ABS brakes.
  • Smooth throttle response across the usable rev range (apparently a big improvement over the pre-2004 CS bikes (which some owners have found a cheap fix for)). The service loaner I rode yesterday had the problems described in these links, and it was not a fun ride.
  • Stuff bay. I'll have to put up some pictures of this, but basically, the place where most bikes have their gas tank is a storage area on the CS, sized to fit a large helmet, tank bag, locking hard case, or powered speaker system. I've got the helmet spider installed on mine (as shown in my first baby picture), which hides under the tank bag when riding, and provides reasonable security for a helmet when parked. I'm not planning to buy the speakers.
  • Nimble. Hard to quantify, but compared to most of the other bikes I rode while shopping, it feels "sportier". The low-mounted gas tank definitely contributes to this.
  • Comfortable riding position. My ride to work is about seventy miles of highway, with a strong crosswind most afternoons and evenings. The upright body position creates a stronger sail effect than a sportbike crouch (especially with the boxy Samsonite Moab backpack that's holding my laptop and other accessories), but I don't get blown around too much, and my back approves.
  • Ergonomic controls. All the buttons and switches are well-placed and sized, and easily operated with a gloved hand.
  • Accessory socket. The BMW battery charger plugs right into this, as does a heated vest. Yes, it sounds a little odd to make a fuss about electric heating in California in June, but the wind coming in off the Pacific is cool and damp, and when you're zooming around on a motorcycle at 3am, you want heat.
  • Comfy seat. It could use a bit more padding for long trips, but the aftermarket has that covered.
  • Looks. Okay, it's... "non-traditional," but I think it's rather attractive. The mirrors took some getting used to, but combined with the dual headlights they contribute to a bug-eyed monster effect from the front, and that's a good thing. And I love the color.
  • Logo on side panel just the right size to replace with laminated printout of anime character. The leading candidate for this small customization is still Steel Angel Saki, but I'm exploring the options. Phil Foglio's Buck Godot: Zap Gun For Hire series includes a small goofy-looking alien race that would look good on a round portrait. It's not a sexy anime chick, but it seems appropriate: it's called a Beemah.

What don’t I like? The current lack of support for hard luggage. BMW’s top case has been delayed due to mounting problems (and now that I’ve seen pictures, I understand why; the added “support brace” bolts onto the plastics, not the frame!), and is pretty small. The Happy Trails mounts for a full set of Givi cases look quite sturdy, but even if you just buy their side-case mounts, you have to take off the stock luggage-rack mount, which changes the lines of the bike. The Krauser side cases still look ugly to me, and Riderhaus seems to be in the middle of switching their online sales to Twisted Throttle. Hepco & Becker have mounts for side and top cases that look nice, but not only do you have to relocate your turn signals for the side mounts, there’s also just enough of a design change in the ’05 bikes that only one of their side-case styles will fit.

So, if I give up on the side cases for now, there are two basic options: Hepco & Becker and Givi. Unlike the current mount for the BMW case, both of these have supports that bolt onto the frame, and the cases you can mount are a lot larger (up to a 45 liter Givi scooter case or a 48 liter H&B). The price is about the same. I’m leaning slightly toward the Givi.

What’s the problem with side cases and bags? The gas cap. It’s located on the right side, below the passenger seat (where the logo is on the left side). All the standard products cover this space; many soft saddlebags would also extend through the space occupied by the luggage rack. The Happy Trails and Krauser side mounts partially obscure the rear turn signals; the H&B relocates them. Of course, the F650GS has the same design, but everyone’s worked around it; the CS seems to be the redheaded stepchild in the current BMW lineup.

Update: Still looking for a good Saki or Beemah graphic to use, but for now, I think I’ll go with this image from the free Girl Genius Holiday Gift Tag collection:

Mimmoth

Of course, if someone else pops a mimmoth, he’d add mine to his collection, but that joke will only make sense to people who’ve played the Girl Genius card game.

Fish. Barrel. Smoking gun.


In the latest research into the obvious, the University of Minnesota reports that “organic” produce grown in manure is more likely to test positive for fecal contamination than conventional produce.

Remember, you are what you eat. Personally, I’m a synthetic pesticide.