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February 24, 2006, 7:23 PM CT
Zombie March San Francisco

Zombie March

This just in. Zombie March San Francisco, Round 2, takes place tonight (Friday, February 24th) starting in Union Square at 9pm. Rumor has it that the Live Journal zombies are going to join forces with the MySpace zombies and take over the living.

PS. Dear zombies, please do not go to BrainJams, those are not the brains you are looking for.

Special thanks to Niall Kennedy (current mood: brains) for the tip!

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February 22, 2006, 11:25 PM CT
"We never taught them to do that...."

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February 21, 2006, 8:13 PM CT
Nagano Roadtrip
So, it was another amazing weekend of sightseeing. This time the destination was Nagano, our neighbor to the east, best known as the host of the 1998 Winter Olympics. Saturday morning, I took the train out to Tokamachi to meet Ros and Grace, who had been soaking up the sights of the Tokamachi Snow Festival, reportedly Japan's second-best snow festival (after Sapporo). If Niigata is famous for snow in Japan, it really says something that Tokamachi is famous for snow within Niigata itself. Anyway, they met me at the train station and we immediately set off for Nagano-ken.

En route to Nagano
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

After a relatively short drive, we found ourself in Nagano and shortly thereafter in Yudanaka, a small town famous for hot springs and monkeys (monkeys!). We stayed in a traditional Japanese-style ryokan. The owner of the place was kind enough to chaffeur us practically everywhere, starting with a fabulous onsen (hot spring) up in the mountains - which would have had a *fantastic* view if not for the four feet of snow around the outdoor baths. Still, there's something indescribably wonderful about bathing in an outdoor hot spring, surrounded by snow and a starry sky. Very Japanese. Very wonderful. The onsen was followed by dinner at a cute little establishment near our ryokan and then an early bedtime. Wonderfully relaxing.

Sunday morning, we woke up bright and early and (again, accompanied by our friend the hotel owner) went to Jigokudani Monkey Park, home of the onsen-bathing snow monkeys. We trekked around an area known as "Hell's Valley" for about 20 minutes with not another person in sight, and suddenly we were in another world. It was *amazing* - monkeys roaming free, frollicking and feeding and bathing and jumping, unphased by the small number of tourists who had awoken early to observe them. I loved the place for the same reason I loved the deer in Nara - it's thrilling to be able to just wander around together with wildlife, without the bars (and rather dubious caretaking) of a zoo. You'd be taking pictures of one cute fellow and suddenly someone would whisper "Look down" and you'd see a monkey sitting on your foot. Amazing, amazing, amazing. Five stars. A must-see for Japan. I took a ridiculous number of pictures, but here are a few highlights:

Onsen time!
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Just out of the bath
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Too cute for words
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

After the Monkey Park, we checked out of our hotel and proceeded on to Obuse, a cute little traditional town where we had an amazing lunch. Rosalind pretty much sums it all up for us in this one:

Food = Happiness
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

And then it was just a quick jaunt south to see Matsumoto Castle, one of only four castles in Japan to be declared a National Treasure. It's reportedly the second-best one, after Himeji Castle and the second-oldest, after Inuyama Castle (what did I tell you about all the ranking?). I visited Osaka Castle in October, but Matsumoto was *totally* different. Whereas Osaka Castle had been last rebuilt in 1931, Matsumoto dates from 1504. Visitors took off their shoes and proceeded up steep wooden stairs and dark castle halls, viewing relics from its heyday. Walking through the castle, I could totally imagine what it must have been like to fight a battle there - amazing. Another must-see.

Kristi, Matsumoto Castle
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Matsumoto Castle
Originally uploaded by kristi-san.

Ok, this is already really long, but a few more things need to be said. 1. Adam ([info]m_hulot) got into Chicago, probably the most prestigious film program in the country. Congrats, love! 2. [info]galvatron56 came to see Niigata-ken this weekend and crashed at my place--nice to finally meet! 3. I just taught two absolutely kick-ass lessons.

And..... I'm spent.

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February 21, 2006, 8:11 PM CT
two past fotds.
Two looks.... I am not enjoying my Culturebloom goodies as much as I thought I would. The disappointment I feel now is the same I felt after going nuts over the Madame B collection. :(

First look: I used Golden Lemon pigment on lid, Coppering e/s on outer lid, Up-do e/s on middle of lid, Orange Tangent e/s on inner lid, Showstopper e/s in crease, Pink Papillon e/s above crease, and Pollen e/s on brow. I used Culturebloom l/s and Show Coral c/g on my lips.

Second look: I used Chartreuse pigment on lid, Guacamole e/s on middle of lid, Electric Eel e/s on outer lid, Deep Truth e/s in crease, Juxt e/s above crease, Metamorph e/s above crease, Pollen e/s on brow, and Swimming e/s on lower lash line. I used Strawberry Blonde l/s with Flowerosophy lustreglass on top for my lips.

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February 20, 2006, 6:50 PM CT




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February 20, 2006, 6:46 PM CT
Hungry Dave's Breakfast at Diner in Yaletown
Hungry Dave's breakfast - $10.95

I really enjoyed my Hungry Dave's breakfast (at least I think it was called Hungry Dave's, why can't restaurants use names like Roland, what's wrong with Hungry  Roland's breakfast :-) ?) Saturday morning at Diner in Yaletown (1269 Hamilton, 604 444-4855).

I was hoping for the meatloaf that I had heard about in the Courier and elsewhere but alas only breakfast is available in the morning. It was a yummy breakfast with an incredible amount of food (3 eggs, we asked for two, toast, 2 kinds of meat (I chose sausage and bacon, a waffle with cream (yes!) and potatoes). All this for $10.95 in a rare for Yaletown, non pretentious, comforting, cozy space. I'll be back for the meatloaf!

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UC Davis Can Be Proud

Professor Frank's Student Explains CVT

Doug Beizer, staff writer for Washington Technology - Business Intelligence for Government System Integrators, spoke recently with Professor Andrew Frank about plug-in hybrid technology and car fuel economy. The following is a reprint of the interview:

WT: What is a plug-in hybrid vehicle?
Frank: It takes hybrid technology and makes it more efficient with a better transmission, bigger battery pack and smaller engine.
WT: Do computers play a role in this technology?
Frank: The computer in these isn't much different than the computer being used in today's hybrids. It just has a few more lines of code.
WT: Are there any cultural barriers to people adopting this technology?
Frank: Everybody who we have presented the concept to, including senators and congressmen and other public officials, have suddenly realized this is the only way we're ever going to begin to transition from the oil diet that we're on. Because what we're doing is using an existing energy infrastructure, we don't have to build plugs; we've already got those. And there's no need with this plug-in hybrid to charge quickly. You just charge at a slow rate, which means you can do it at 110 volts [a household plug].

With a fully electric car, if you don't have a charge, you're in trouble. With this car it doesn't matter, because you always have the gasoline engine.

WT: For this to catch on, will car-makers need government funded fleet-vehicle contracts?
Frank: The best way to start this technology is to begin with the fleet. That was one of the reasons for our Plug-In Partners launch in Washington, to get fleet users from around the country to say to the car companies, "If you build it, we'll buy it."
WT: Any specific government applications for this?
Frank: Delivery van and truck fleets are perfect for this. It would be great for the Postal Service. When you think about it, most Postal Service vehicles drive only 50 miles a day. The kind of cars we have constructed can go 60 miles all on electric, so that means the whole Postal Service fleet could run on electricity.
WT: Based on the success Toyota has had with its hybrids, what do you think the future is for plug-in hybrid technology?
Frank: Any one of our car companies that decides to adopt this technology could have production vehicles in three years, because it is a relatively small modification of the existing technology. But you're not going to start out by replacing 10 percent of the fleet at a time. You start replacing, at best, 1 percent of the fleet. Even if we begin at a tenth of a percent of the fleet of vehicles, or 50,000 cars a year, that would be a great step.
WT: What motivates you to pursue this technology?
Frank: I have always felt it was possible to build a car that gets more than 100 miles per gallon; it's what this country needs. To build a car with high performance and all the fun factors of a conventional car, but have it run on electricity, which takes care of all the emissions problems and solves the energy problem, is really what this country needs. So I've been promoting this.
WT: Fully electric cars kind of fizzled out. Could the same happen with this?
Frank: No. Look at the first year of the Ford Escape hybrid. Ford is putting out 20,000, 10 times more than any electric car program ever put out. Bill Ford will up that from 20,000 to 250,000 a year. That's a serious commitment.

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    I'm a Soul Man

    You Are a Visionary Soul

    You are a curious person, always in a state of awareness.
    Connected to all things spiritual, you are very connected to your soul.
    You are wise and bright: able to reason and be reasonable.
    Occasionally, you get quite depressed and have dark feelings.

    You have great vision and can be very insightful.
    In fact, you are often profound in a way that surprises yourself.
    Visionary souls like you can be the best type of friend.
    You are intuitive, understanding, sympathetic, and a good healer.

    Souls you are most compatible with: Old Soul and Peacemaker Soul

    Interesting result. Via Colin.

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    Looking Back: Plus ca Change, Plus ca Meme

    Every once in a while, it's fun to look back and consider what you were doing a few years ago. So this morning I poked back into Irregular Times' old blog archives for the first week and second week of February 2003. I was astonished to see that in that two-week period, we'd only written four posts, and they were relatively short ones. After some effort, I remember now how difficult it seemed (for me, at least) to gather the wherewithal to write just one article every few days. It's no sweat now, which is a testament to the power of practice. So there's something that has changed over the past three years.

    And yet, some things remain the same. I posted the following on February 7:

    Spread The Word!
    Powell's "Intelligence" is Dated and Plagiarized

    Guardian Unlimited Special Report: UK war dossier a sham, say experts

    British Channel 4 News: See For Yourself - "Intelligence Dossier" is Plagiarized

    The U.S. news outlets have NOT yet chosen to air this story, although it's blowing up all over the British Press. Although Powell presented the "British intelligence findings" as up-to-date information, most of the conclusions made by the original, uncited author are based on documents that are at least twelve years old. Other elements of the "British intelligence findings" plagiarize magazine articles from Jane's Weekly.

    When the news fails to report the news, IT IS UP TO YOU TO SPREAD WORD. Send these links on to everyone you know. Don't let the mainstream media hoodwink the American people on this one!

    - James

    J. Clifford followed up on February 13:

    Colin Powell's Cheap Shot

    Colin Powell, driven into increasingly outrageous hawkish positions as a result of decision to join the administration of George W. Bush, this week accused France and Germany of "just delaying for the sake of delaying in order to get Saddam Hussein off the hook and no disarmament".

    In this wild accusation, we see the Bush Administration's paranoid perspective played out through a man who was previously thought to be among the more thoughtful of W.'s men. In the minds of the people in the White House, people either are enthusiastic to support George W. Bush's desire to start a new war or they are on the side of the Iraqi dictator, secretly trying to enable Saddam Hussein to gain more power. So great is the moral arrogance of W.'s men that they cannot perceive any other possibility. In their minds, we're either with them or against them.

    Secretary Powell, you're supposed to be acting as this nation's top diplomat, not this nation's top bully. We ask you to stop, take a breath and listen before you allow the huffing and puffing of your colleagues to suck you in completely.

    We who oppose your boss's war do so because we believe that the war will make the United States less secure, not more secure.

    We who oppose your boss's war do so because we believe that preemptive wars are illegal.

    We who oppose your boss's war do so because we are frightened of his promises of a perpetual war. We see your boss using the cover of war to take away our precious freedoms, whittling the Bill of Rights away slowly into nothingness.

    We who oppose your boss's war do so because we believe that dropping bombs on a country and sending military troops to occupy its cities is not the best way to encourage it to become more democratic.

    We who oppose your boss's war do so because we believe that the American people are smart enough to figure out better ways to take care of the world's problems that don't require dropping landmines and carpet bombs in people's back yards.

    We're not fond of Saddam Hussein either, Mr. Powell, and we think it would be great if he lost his power over the people of Iraq. We just don't think that it makes much sense to kill Iraqis in order to save them.

    Put this position next to your boss's absolute moral codes and chew on it for awhile, Mr. Powell. If you have the decency to do so, we think that you just might find a better way than war.

    Colin Powell left the Bush administration in shame over his actions in February 2003. But the rest of the Bush administration, having no shame, stayed on. It was helpful for me to look back and remember what was going on three years ago, because it puts this year's scandals in perspective. These are not the isolated goofs of a wacky yet incompetent administration. What we see today is the fruit of an agenda that George W. Bush and his fellow travelers have been pursuing for a long, long time. And so it continues.

    I can only hope that three years from today, on February 14 2009, I will not look back to this post and write "and so it continues" again.

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    Is Napster's Deal With XM Satellite Radio An Inherent Loser? (NAPS, XMSR)

    In the prepared remarks on its earnings conference call last week, online music provider Napster (NAPS) spent considerable time praising its recently-launched XM+Napster service. The product is essentially a web portal for XM Satellite Radio (XMSR) subscribers, allowing them to listen to the XM stations on their PC, 'tag' songs they like, then purchase or download those music tracks directly from Napster. Napster CEO William Christopher Gorog described it glowingly:

    This is a breakthrough for radio and fulfils the dream many have had for decades to be able to instantly purchase a song as soon as you hear it on the radio.

    One apparent problem with the service, though, is that XM recently announced (along with competitor Sirius) a receiver that allows direct recording of music. So why would an XM subscriber pay for a Napster product that they can download and save for free with an XM receiver? An alert analyst raised precisely this point - read Napster CEO Gorog's response carefully:

    Q - Kit Spring, analyst Stifel Nicolaus

    On XM, sounds interesting but doesn't XM's new devices allow them to library songs which might limit the likelihood that they would buy songs on Napster?

    A - William Christopher Gorog, CEO Napster

    In terms of XM I think that in a general way we view the opportunity here to be quite significant because of their very large installed base that seems to continue to grow, just very dramatically every quarter. And we have the opportunity to address this 6 million plus subscriber base, which is growing so fast. Our true and integrated relationship to offer them up, their subscribers, opportunities to build libraries on their PC and of course as I mentioned we have really quite a comprehensive roadmap ahead of us.

    I think it really gives us just a [range] of marketing opportunities to help XM really complete the experience for power music fans. So I think that relationship for us over the long-term, as you may recall, this is a five year deal and really provides a lot of opportunity for us to acquire subscribers in a great way. We do have subscriber acquisition cost, surely sell a lot of downloads, but most importantly increase our subscriber base through this relationship. So whether people have the opportunity to temporarily store.... songs they hear live, we ultimately are in this to build our subscriber base and not to sell downloads, although I think that, that will and has already made important contribution.

    So as far as the Napster CEO is concerned, XM+Napster isn't about paid downloads of individual songs - its goal is to get new Napster subscribers. That's one big step removed from 'the dream' of instantly purchasing a song you liked on the radio.

    The question is: Is it reasonable to assume that listeners who are already subscribing to XM, will buy another subscription to Napster - when they can record those songs on their XM receivers?

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