Negative: August 2006 Archives

It's a podcast. It's a long podcast. It was actually fun to put together. If you're really not interested in Somalia - stick around past 2:35. The stuff about Somalia is good information, but sort of tangential. Listen to Somalia, College and Snobs [m4a format; iTunes recommended]. Depending on what y'all think of this one, I may or may not do podcasts in the future. Leave comments! (And if you're reading this on LJ, as always, I only see comments on the actual site.)

Open Letters

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Dear Apple, I love my iPod. I didn't realize how much I'd missed it. ...okay, maybe I did. The larger screen is love. Color? Even better. The software for viewing contacts and calendars is much improved. Request: please have a discussion with the person who decided it would be ok to make the middle button completely flat. I am now not only missing a piece of tactile feedback concerning where my finger is on the device, but it is difficult for me to press the button without jogging the touch-wheel. I have moderate-length nails which cause me no difficulty when I type, nor with the multitude of tiny buttons on the other electronics I own. They shouldn't cause problems with the iPod, either. xoxo


Dear Apple, I would very much like to have the iMac I ordered. I understand that you are v. busy and that this product is very popular, however, I would like to note that telling me that my product is going to ship late - and up to two weeks late, at that - the day after it was supposed to ship... well, let's just say I've made that sort of mistake before, and it didn't work out well. Don't worry - I still love you. <3


Dear Casio, Manual appears to be missing from box. Received something manual-like, but only four of the pages are in English; remainder appears to be repeated text in several other languages. Will admit interface is fairly easy to pick up, but you know how methodical physics is making me. Where are the equations? ^_^ P.S. Camera so pretty! Very thin! Must be staying away from the twinkies. Appears to have adopted my wardrobe.


Dear UNO, Some of your computer lab rules appear to be unenforceable; others, not in line with your practices. For an example of the former, see the "offending, intimidating or harassing others is not allowed" rule. There are several people sitting within earshot who could potentially be offending me if I got offended by things like obnoxious laughs, clothing with religiously significant symbols, or the fact that anyone is actually looking for pictures of Lil Jon in a fashion that is not intended to be ironi-- wait, that does offend me. The guy next to me is seriously built, and would intimidate anyone except (perhaps) my sister. I would recommend retooling the language on your signs to be more meaningful. For the latter, look no further than your rule against attaching peripherals, when you have pulled USB extension cables through the holes on the desk explicitly for the purpose of making the attachment of peripherals easier. Perhaps these rules predate the addition of said cables. In this case, I recommend what is called a "revision". That's where you change content that is no longer correct. Helpfully yours, Erica
1. My mail is b0rked. This is something with the server. I don't know what. Send email to my first name (dot) my last name (plus sign) sperari (at) that domain Google has for mail. If you're missing any of this information, it's around on the site. If you can't work it out and you have a different address, give it a couple days, then try the address you have. 2. For those of you I haven't told, I had an interview Tuesday with Apple for a position at the retail store they're opening up out Village Pointe. They called today; I did not get the job. 3. Immediately after hanging up the phone after the phone call from the very nice lady at Apple who told me they'd chosen not to hire me, I got a link to an article telling me how miserable my life as a scientist is destined to be. Sam is currently working full-time and going to school part-time in order that I might be able to finish my degree sooner; I've recently been feeling rather insecure about the prospects of my being able to provide for us as well as he's able to. I'm simply not certain that my skills and physics degree will be marketable. I'm vaguely terrified that they won't be. Needless to say, the article (which makes a dozen or so of its ilk I've read) could have come my way at a more opportune time. 4. Sam and I have put in our orders for our tricked-out iMacs, complete with the discounted iPods. 5. I somehow torqued my shoulder earlier today, and it's extraordinarily painful. I'm hoping I can manage to get some sleep tonight. This is not an exhaustive list of everything on my mind, right now, but if you add it all together, it provides a decent picture of how today has colored my mood and my current reactions to ongoing foo. It also explains why I feel very much like being in bed. Good night.

For a Grade

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Summer semester has been interesting. I've had a little time off, which has been helpful, but I haven't been idle; I taught a credit and a half of physics labs (about 50 in-class hours, plus 30 or so for grading, spread over four four-day weeks), did summer camp counseling (90 hours, spread over two weeks), and took two online courses through Metro. That's just the stuff that actually gets assigned hours; I've also started work on a couple of software projects, worked on a variety of graphic design projects (one of which you'll be seeing, shortly), wrote quite a bit, and spent time cultivating my relationships with friends, both meatspace and internet-based. Nothing I've done this summer has driven me battier than the online courses, though. I wanted to get these two courses - Black History and Human Geography - out of the way as cheaply and quickly as possible (one for lack of interest, and the other by way of protest); summer session online seemed the way to go. Human Geography has been a lot of inane things I already knew. Where people are, why people migrate, what people grow, geographic factors leading to success or failure, etc. The professor, while I'm sure he's very nice, has asked some of the most terribly slanted questions for homework I've ever seen. It's not nearly as bad as Black History, though. The questions in there, while nowhere near the repugnance level of some of the material in the Native American Religion class I tried to take to fill the diversity requirement (did you know that white women are perpetuating genocide by taking interest in Native American spirituality?), have frequently been of the "When did you stop beating your wife?" variety. I skipped one week of homework, half because I was ill, and half because I couldn't summon the self-loathing required to write the page-long essay on one of the two topics given. Even when they're not bad enough to skip, they're still awful:
  1. Analyze Jesse Jackson's presidential qualities. Would he make a good president? Why or why not?
  2. Do Black entertainers and sports figures have a responsibility to the Black community? If so, what?
  3. How does the Maya Angelou phrase "on the pulse of morning" describe African Americans in the 1990's?
  4. Analyze the most critical issues facing African American communities today. Why did you choose those issues? What can be done to address them?
  5. Write an essay comparing hip-hop music to the beginning days of Rock and Roll. Use plenty of web links to illustrate song comparisons.
I'm going to be answering the second one, as I have some things to say about the black - pardon me, Black community - but I was sorely tempted to skip this one, too. I'll post it here, too, if there's interest.

Feed Me

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I use a fantastic RSS reader, NewsFire, to read most of the blogs and webcomics I bother with. I was starting to get to the point where I was having to choose between reading Livejournal friends (the compulsive friends page refresh does take time) and getting anything else done - much less, you know, reading anything else. Now all my LJ people are safely programmed to beep at me when there's something new and exciting going on, even if it's friends-only. (There's a way to authorize within the news reader. 's good.) I can keep up and still get stuff done. This is the appeal of the RSS reader, and RSS feeds in general. RSS feeds are not without detractors, though, particularly in the web comic field. The Order of the Stick creator Rich rejected RSS a couple of years ago based on the fact that seeing his comics in an RSS reader allowed fans to circumvent the website and the advertisements for stuff that let him get paid, even though RSS feeds can include those same ads. Tatsuya Ishida has never commented on RSS (that I've been able to find using my Awesome Google Powers, at least), but I still have to get Sinfest through an illicit feed. Meanwhile, comics like Penny Arcade and Piled Higher and Deeper opt for no-comic RSS feeds, in which the reader is told there is a new comic, but the comic itself must be viewed on the (linked) website. They're encouraged by syndication sites like Comic Alert, who says that linking to the image directly hurts artists and publishers. Listen - I'm all for comic creators getting paid. If your work is good, that'll happen, though - and I'll bet it happens more with RSS than otherwise, even without ads in your RSS feeds. People reading your comics through RSS reduce your bandwidth expenses, for one. People reading through RSS read every day, reliably, getting hooked on those tough long-term plot arcs - that's two. A good, hooked reader is twice as likely to go to your site on their very own just to seek out that merchandise you're so desperate to sell. And at the end of the day? If you're not totally annoying about it (read: flashing, shoot-the-monkey-win-an-iPod ads), an ad or two at the bottom of your RSS feed would not be objectionable. The bottom line is that I don't have the time to click through and read every one of the 37 sites (including 7 web comics*) I read in a separate window. If they aren't published in a way that makes them convenient for me to read - i.e., with full content - I'm unlikely to continue doing so. (Mitigating factors exist, such as friendship.) So come on. Give me the comic, or the whole article, in your RSS feed. If there's something else you've just got to put in there - ads, disclaimers, whatever - do it, but do it already. Alright? Otherwise, you've lost a reader. * It seems sort of awful to link to all of these comics that are doing things I don't like, while not linking to ones that do - especially since, in the age of Google, a link is almost a vote. The web comics I read are: Dinosaur Comics, PVP Online, Questionable Content, Savage Chickens, Sinfest, Toothpaste for Dinner, and XKCD. Read them. They're good.
Sam and I, after much waffling this evening, decided to visit Firebirds for dinner. Sam and Jess recently had dinner there, and both seemed very pleased with the place. Which is great; at the price point, you should expect excellence. Firebirds lists prices for dinner as in the $12.95-$23.95 range. Our typical dinner out tops out at the bottom of that range, unless we're having top-dollar items (steaks, seafood), in which case we get into the $18 range sometimes (though I'll note that you can get a damned good steak around Omaha for $12.95 - you just have to know where to look). Seating and Service We were seated promptly upon arrival, though it became apparent after a minute or two at our table that our waiter wasn't notified that we were his very promptly; he seemed surprised that he was going to be serving us. He did take our drink orders quickly and deliver them as quickly. When he returned to take our order, the one concern I had was that he seemed put off that we were ordering non-appetizer items to share. I can chalk this up to imagination; the service we received was otherwise unremarkable, but also unobjectionable. Food For our appetizer, we selected the Lobster Spinach Queso at about $9. The claim:
A spicy blend of lobster, baby spinach, wood smoked tomatoes, and pepper jack cheese. Fired in our ovens, then topped with a chunky pico de gallo salsa made from scratch in our kitchen. Served with tri-colored tortilla chips.
The reality? First of all, it was not spicy in the least; the cheese was rather unfortunately more suggestive of melted Velveeta than pepper jack - perhaps a side effect of the other ingredients. (Velveeta has its place; it is not in a $9 appetizer. I'm not saying that's what they used, either - just that the flavor spoke nothing of the pepper jack cheese they claimed to have used.) The spinach merely seemed to make the cheese come out in stringy clumps, rather than adding real flavor. (Similarly, I've seen spinach used effectively in dips - just not here.) The lobster was fine, but as I'm not crazy about lobster, it seemed like an expensive ingredient put in a $3 dish to justify a $9 price. Speaking of which, it was a $9 appetizer; I understand that the menu clearly says that it's served with tortilla chips, but I think this is a serious mistake. Bring me some veggies or some thin-sliced, toasted bread - you pick what kind. (Joey's Seafood & Grill gets this exactly right with their Crab & Artichoke dip at a buck or two cheaper - charbroiled garlic toast, yum.) Moving on, we then split a Caesar salad (about $6). The claim:
With shaved Reggiano cheese and chile dusted croutons.
Reality: It did, in fact, have those ingredients, and others - though if the croutons were chile-dusted or not, I couldn't tell. Overall, it tasted like a Caesar salad I could easily make at home with one of those Caesar salad kits - even the dressing tasted like it was straight from a packet. Come on, guys. Surprise me. Astound me. Make your salad dressing in-house - it tastes better, and for $6, you'd better do that or put something more substantial on my salad than a single cheese shaving and some (maybe) chile-dusted croutons. I'm talking protein here, guys. Meat. Do it. Or don't, and sell the salad for a couple bucks less. Finally, the steak - a 14 oz. New York Strip at about $23. We elected to get an extra potato and split this, as well. The claim:
14 oz. hand-cut aged Black Angus strip steak trimmed extra lean, lightly seasoned and wood grilled. Served with a loaded Colorado Russet baked potato or seasoned steak fries.
Reality: Oh, boy. Where do I start? First of all, I was not at all impressed with the cut of meat we got. Not only was it not trimmed extra lean, it was easily the fattiest strip I've had in memory - not the melty, edible "flavor fat", either - gristly, tough, flavorless fat. (This is my favorite cut of steak; I'd say I put down two a month, on average, so I know my strips.) It was also the least tender I've had in memory, and the least juicy. I order my steaks medium rare, unless I know something about the place (like a tendency to under- or overcook them). It came out with the right colors - a warm red center, uniformly brown on the outside - so they were cooked right, which leaves me puzzled. Why didn't a nice, thick, aged Angus strip, cooked medium rare, leave my plate a juicy (but delicious) mess? The other unfortunate bit is that it was delivered to me lukewarm on the outside. The only times my steak should ever be served to me less than hot on the outside are if I order it rare, or if I paid $8 at a crappy diner. In both cases, they should both be considerably warmer than this one was. What was right about the steak? Well - it was cooked to the right level of done-ness. Also, the parts I could chew had an incredible flavor - my compliments to whomever seasoned it. I ate approximately four ounces of the seven ounce half steak on my plate. The potato was fine; I can't comment much on it, as I was already full from the other items and could only eat a few bites. All in all, the food was alright. Good, even, at a certain price point. Our bill came back at about $45 for two drinks (a soda and an iced tea) and the appetizer, salad, steak meal and the extra potato. That's steep for food that's alright - it's even steep for good food. My recommendation is to give Firebirds a pass. If you want to go out for a good steak, skip the dressing up and go to Texas Roadhouse. They've got a killer 12 ounce Kansas City Strip that I'd pay $23 for any day - and it'll only set you back $15. (And try the top shelf margarita with Patron Anejo, too. Best. Margarita. Ever. ...tied with Sam's.)


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    About this Archive

    This page is a archive of entries in the Negative category from August 2006.

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