“Defecating on the Map will not change the Territory, regardless of how many laxatives you took.”

— Ian's Law of Territorial Invulnerability

Citi wants me, and they're not alone

I have a mortgage with CitiBank. I have a home equity loan with CitiBank. I have a Platinum MasterCard with CitiBank. Apparently, this isn’t good enough for them.

Today’s mail contained pre-approved offers for a Citi Platinum Select MasterCard, a Citi Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard, and a Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards MasterCard.

Would it surprise you to learn that the basic Platinum Select has the best interest rate of the three?

But those are just amusing. The real excitement in today’s mail was the postcard announcing my selection as an honest-to-gosh Nielsen Family. I have arrived.

Sadly, I don’t think their logbook has a space for “watched six anime DVDs and a full season of Babylon 5 over the weekend”.

Dear Hollywood,

Please stop doing this.

A remake of Walking Tall, starring The Rock. Kill me now.

Sampling Windows trends

My pictures site gets about 28,000 page requests per day (way down from the days when my bandwidth was unlimited). 87% comes from Windows and 5% comes from Mac users, which sounds about right. Less than half of one percent comes from Linux users, which narrowly beats out the “known robots” column, but loses by a factor of two to Windows 95. This also sounds about right.

WebTV comes in at just under half the size of Linux, which is a surprising showing for a product that only has about 650,000 subscribers left.

Windows XP beats out other flavors, but it’s still used by only 54% of my Windows-based viewers. 98, 2000, and ME get 22%, 15%, and 7% respectively.

One page-hit a day comes from someone claiming to run Windows 3.1. I disbelieve.

Western Union misses the boat

I recently had a reason to ask a stranger for a favor. There was this Mac game I was interested in that was about to be released in Japan. There are lots of companies who import Japanese console games, a few who import PC games, and even one or two who buy up the rights to make translated versions of hardcore sex “dating sims”. But nobody seems to be interested in the Mac games.

I was able to find it on amazon.co.jp, and they even support a mostly-English UI for people whose Japanese is less than perfect (or, in my case, barely there). Unfortunately, they won’t ship certain products overseas. Books, music, movies, no problem; computer games and consumer electronics, not a chance.

Given how Silicon Valley works, I figured the odds were good that one of my friends knew someone who was currently in Japan, and I wasn’t disappointed. Zane and I exchanged email, I had the game shipped to his place, and he reshipped the package to my house. Neat, simple, and it took about a week and a half, start to finish.

Except for reimbursing Zane for the shipping costs. I’ve had good luck with Western Union in the past, so I went to their site and sent him the money, and emailed a link to their list of places he could pick it up.

A few days later, he wrote back, telling me that Western Union had apparently contracted with the smallest bank in Japan, which only had branches in the Tokyo area. He’s in Hiroshima, which is, shall we say, “not close”.

He had two basic choices: open an account with the tiny bank by mail and then ask them to mail him a check, which would take about three weeks, or travel to the nearest bank branch, which was roughly equivalent to taking the train from San Diego to San Francisco.

After many days and more than half a dozen toll-free phone calls, I managed to get someone at Western Union to look at a map of Japan, at which point they refunded my money. I then went back to amazon, pulled up Zane’s wishlist, and bought enough stuff to pay him back.

Oh, the game? Mahoromatic Adventure, with the limited-edition scented hand towel (currently hanging on my office wall). :-)

Save the varmints!

The city of Boulder is dealing with an overabundance of urban prairie dogs by paying to have them trapped and relocated (presumably to some location that has so far managed to remain free of this infestation). Cretins rejoice:

“I think there's absolutely no reason to exterminate one more prairie dog,” he said. “I don't think a good reason can be given. I believe we are faced with a moral imperative to save every last remaining animal.”

My favorite part is that this clown actually thinks prairie dogs could become an endangered species unless steps are taken to protect them. Protect as in “prevent future land development by humans”. Apparently he hasn’t managed to figure out how these cuddly little rodents managed to take over Boulder’s open spaces in the first place…

Party on, Mr. Constantine

As expected, Keanu Reeves as Hellblazer‘s John Constantine is going to suck. Even if you manage to get past the fact that they’ve made him an American and set the movie in Los Angeles.

Keanu Constantine

Altec Lansing inMotion

I’d love to supply a link to this extremely cool iPod accessory, except that the manufacturer doesn’t list it on their web site, and Apple’s online store generates nonsensical URLs that don’t share well.

Altec Lansing inMotion

Instead, imagine a white plastic brick, about the size of an O’Reilly book, that opens up into a surprisingly good mini-speaker system that doubles as a fully-functional iPod docking station. It’s quite loud for a system with only 2 watts/channel, and distortion is well-controlled at reasonable volumes. It’s compatible with older iPods and other devices through the Aux port (short cable supplied), which I’m connecting to my PowerBook for a significant sound boost.

They claim up to 24 hours of life on four AA batteries, or you can use the supplied wall-wart to run it on AC.

I made the list!

It’s not a very exclusive list, seeing as the FBI bullied every hotel in Vegas into handing over data on who had reservations for New Years Eve, but it gives me a warm glow to be one of the 300,000 new entries in the “suspected terrorist” database.

I’m guessing that the hotel that made the token effort to resist turning over their guest list was The Palms, which is the current hot celebrity hangout. What agent could resist checking out Britney’s travel/marriage/annulment schedule?

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