So I had to look up my usage of apostrophies.

All time time, I have been doing the following, and had to know if it was right:

Possessive Singular:
I borrowed Tev’s CDs.

Possessive Plural:
I borrowed the dogs’ dishes.

Possessive Singlar ending in s:
I borrowed Moses’ CDs.

The first two examples I was sure about, the last one I questioned, having seen some people use ‘s even after a name ending in s.

According to the Apostrophe Protection Society, the correct usage would be “Moses’s CDs.”
So my usage has been wrong.

The American Heritage Book of English Usage has this to say:
“The possessive case of most proper nouns is formed according to the rules for common nouns: (singular) … Yeats’s poetry”
Which also sounds like I was wrong, but did you catch the “most” in that sentence? They go on to say:
“…however, certain proper nouns ending in s form the possesive just by adding the apostrophe…” and gives this example: “Moses’ children”. So it sounds like, for Moses at least, I have been right (but wrong if I said Chris’ CDs).

Bootlegging Dreams

Dream Last Night:

A company has somehow acquired all of my and Moses’ childhood toys. I go there to sort through and see if there is anything I want. I will only have one change to go though it, so I want to be thorough.

When I get there, he and I start sifting though things. I find an armload of stuff I want to keep, but the rest of the room (a storage area that seems pretty packed) I don’t really want anymore. I carry the stuff over to a table to set down, and while my back is turned, the company has removed most of the other stuff without warning. Even though I got what I wanted, I am still annoyed they just took it without saying anything.

Moses, it turns out, lives at the company. It is a beer brewing company. He shows me his room. “Isn’t this the bathroom?” I ask. It is. It’s a very large bathroom, a space taking like half or a third of the attic, but he is still in the same room as the bathtub, toilet, and sink. I can only imagine what it’s like when someone stinks up the place.

He goes off to do some work (he works there in some way as well as living there) and I walk around a bit.

I find myself going down some stairs, into the basement. It is an earthen floor, and catacomb like. Sections of the floor are wet, and the smell of damp earth is heavy in the air. There are some brewing tanks in one side of the basement. I hear splashing from the other side.

A woman is there, she is just finishing drowning someone in a pool of water. “Good thing you’re here,” she says when she sees me. “I need help moving the body.”

I don’t remember the rest of the dream.

The Prophecy

I had chinese food in the caf today (bleh, prime examples of the bad points I listed below) but interestingly, instead of the standard saying, the fortune cookie contained something that *might* be a saying, but sounds a lot like an actual prediction.

It reads:

“First they ignore you, then they attack you, then you win.”

Sounds like the final battle is upon us!

World Cuisine

I was thinking the other day about exotic cuisines, and which I like best.
Now this is just a general list, based on my own recent experience.
Also, just because something is low on the list, doesn’t mean I don’t like it.

  1. Thai
  2. Vietnamese
  3. Japanese
  4. Indian
  5. American (Western)
  6. Mexican
  7. Chinese

Maybe it’s just the places I’ve been, but Chinese food tends to be greasy and sugary, dripping in thick sauces. I still like it, but prefer the lightness of Japanese or spiciness of Thai or Vietnamese.

Coincidentally, I just found out that Bamboo Hut, a great Vietnamese place nearby which I was told was closed… has been open all this time! I was misinformed! All this time, and I could have gone. Definitely have to go there sometime soon.

Deranged AIs are fun

I just finished playing Portal, a fun little puzzle game that’s part of Valve’s Orange Box.

The game is clever, you have a gun that fires wormholes – you fire two holes, a start point hole and a destination hole. Then you or other objects can move back and forth between the two points as if they were connected. Then you have to solve puzzles to get to the exit.

For example, there might be a big red button on the floor. When you stand on the button, the exit door opens, but when you walk off the button to go to the exit, you step off the button, so the door closes again. Nearby is a crate. So you put one side of the wormhole on the ceiling above the button, and the other side of the wormhole you open under the crate. The crate falls through the hole and emerges from the hole in the ceiling, landing on the button, holding the exit door open so you can walk through.

That’s the basic gameplay, which gets tricky when gravity comes into play, since you might fall from a height into a wormhole in the floor and emerge from a wormhole in the wall – since the holes are at 90 degree angles, your downward falling momentum is converted into forward movement.

The game itself is smart and fun, but what really makes it a great game is that as you move from room to room, there is a deranged AI talking to you over the intercom. The AI says such funny things in a dry deadpan humor that makes the game extra fun to play.
Without spoiling anything, at the end of the game, there is a song about the AI.

Crazed AIs are always so much more fun than normal ones.

I was trying to think of fun crazed AIs I had seen in games/books/movies…

Portal (game) has the Aperture Computer.
Red Dwarf (TV) has a few that aren’t technically deranged… Holly (dim), Talkie Toaster (obsessed with toast), Kryten (inferiority complex).
Marathon (series of games) has Durundel.
Wargames (movie) has WHOPPR, though it figures out something most generals don’t get: nuclear war is bad.
2001 (movie) has HAL.
Galaxy Rangers (TV) had an android having a nervous breakdown.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (book, radio) has Eddie the shipboard computer, and Marvin, who is not deranged, but depressed.

I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting… but yay for deranged AI! =)

Space Dream


I am working for Bill Gates. He’s not a bad guy, and now and then I talk with him. Usually he’s busy off doing stuff. He is scheduled to take a space shuttle ride but is busy with something else, so he asks me if I want to go. I jump at the chance.

It’s a tight schedule, so I book a flight, arrange a rental car, and get my space shuttle tickets.

Then I realize I have completely botched my travel arrangements. I have scheduled the plane flight, car rental, and shuttle flight to all start at the same time. I am distraught, realized I’ve screwed it all up and won’t get to go. At the last minute, Gate’s administrative assistant steps in and straightens everything out.

I get to the flight, which goes smoothly, then take the rental car to the launch pad. I realize it’s just me and one other guy on the shuttle flight. I think he’s an airforce pilot or something. He looks around 25.

We strap in, and the shuttle takes off. It is scheduled to be a shortish orbital flight, but for some reason we are redirected to check out a planet that might support life.

We get to the planet and he lands the shuttle. We step out onto the surface, it is a very earthlike world, a bit dry and dusty, not a desert but dry, like Florida or Texas.

Exploring the area, I notice some houses and we walk over. It is a community, it seems fairly technologically advanced. There are a few natives around, they look like ordinary people, about our height, fair-skinned. Most are female and there are some children running about. The are somewhat in awe of us, and take us to meet their council of leaders.

We are taken to a large circular building. Inside it is dimly lit, but not bad once my eyes adjust. In the main room in the center of the building is a fire pit with glowing embers in it. Around it in a circle are many beautiful women. They are dressed in thin black robes, which are essentially transparent, and are wearing masks. Not unlike Eyes Wide Shut. They speak to us with reverence, and smile and flirt with us. Then the meeting is adjourned, the lights come up, and they take their masks off. They are all fairly young and pretty. Since they had just been flirting with me, I ask a couple out, but now they look at me with scorn and laugh, and all hover around the younger astronaut. “You are old and silly,” they say, “this man is young. He is the future.”

I am of course depressed by this, but then I notice a commotion near the entrance. A woman with a child has been brought in, and a crowd is forming around her, with gasps of disapproval. I edge closer to see. The child holding the woman’s hand has dark skin, in contrast to all the pale-skinned women in the room. “Throw her in jail,” the leader of the women says, “and take that” (she gestures at the boy) “to be destroyed.”

“Stop!” I shout, as they are about to be taken out, “you can’t do that to them!”

The leader of the women looks at me with a mixture of surprise and pity. “They are tainted,” she says, “by the inferior race. Come, I will show you.”

She leads me out of the building, down a road and a path. Soon we are overlooking a primitive-looking village of clay houses. “See, ” she points towards the village, “they are foolish and stupid.”

I look down at the village, noticing their clothing is brightly colored, they are singing and laughing. Where the pale women’s village is aloof and technological, with everyone wearing either light clothing or dark robes (just for the leaders), the dark-skinned village is earthen, and emotional, and a riot of colors and sounds.

“This is why the child must be destroyed,” she continues, “we cannot allow this worthless frivolity to infect us, it would destroy everything we have worked to achieve.”

We walk back to the women’s meeting hall. I realize I have to choose a representative to bring back to earth, to be a liaison between earth and this world. The airforce pilot has already picked out a very attractive woman. “She’s very limber,” he says, and winks at me.

“No.” I say. I realize I have the say over who we will bring back with us. “We will bring him.” I point to the dark-skinned boy, still being held by the wrists by the women in black robes. They are all shocked, and appalled. “Did you not understand what I just showed you?” the leader cries, “that boy is not one of us, he is of the mud!”

“Well,” I reply, “you will just have to learn to work with him, since he will be your ambassador on earth. And if you want him to treat you fairly, you’d better take good care of his mother, too.” The pilot begrudgingly kisses the young woman he had picked out goodbye, and we climb back on the shuttle with the boy.

Then I wake up.


So Friday night I went with Sarah to see They Might Be Giants. I was kinda nervous, because I haven’t seen them live before (if it was a bad show, would it taint my view of my favorite band?), and also because it was at a dance club in Boston (The Roxy) and I’m not much of a dance club kinda guy.

My fears about the dance club were allayed as we waited in line outside. The doors opened at 7, and we got there around 6:30, so we were standing around awhile. The other people in line were very nice and laid back. I heard people making programming jokes and a guy came up and gave us a CD of his band (“Fish Crackers: a Space Rock Opera”). I should have realized that a crowd of TMBG fans would be cool people.

Then the doors opened, the security guy looked at our IDs with extreme skepticism (Sarah’s ID is a NY driver’s license with a picture of her age 16, and my license is a picture of me with a fatter face, full beard, and giant cop sunglasses), begrudgingly stamped us with an “over 21” stamp, and we went upstairs.

For extra redundancy, everyone with an “over 21” stamp then gets a wristband once they get upstairs. As we got ours, we noticed John Flansburgh’s parents checking in. I remembered that John and John, despite being New Yorkers now, were originally from MA.

The Roxy is a pretty neat club, done up in a mixture of baroque and art deco styles.

Once inside, we waited around on the dance floor for the show to start. An eclectic mix of generic music played. Then, at 7:45, the curtains parted and the show began.

I was not disappointed.

They played songs from across the TMBG spectrum. There were conversations with the dead, horn players with backstories and experimental names, audience interventions, philosophical banter, confetti, and all-around fun.

Here are the songs they played, at least the ones I remember them playing. There are probably some I left out.

In not the correct order:

The Cap’m
Damn Good Times
Upside Down Frown
Take out the Trash
I’m Impressed
Museum of Idiots
E Eats Everything
XTC vs. Adam Ant
Alphabet of Nations
Dr. Worm
Drink! (with audience substance abuse intervention)
It’s Not My Birthday
Don’t Let’s Start
Withered Hope
Memo to Human Resources
Walk This Way (only the beginning, due to undead protests that it “wasn’t rocking hard enough”)
Istanbul (with an extended sax intro)
With the Dark
Particle Man (with a surprise twist ending)
Bee of the Bird of the Moth
Narrow Your Eyes

I glanced up a few times at the balcony where Flan’s family was, they looked like they were having a great time. I wonder if they go to shows often…

At the end, there was an encore, then after the encore, even as cleaning guys were coming out and the show was clearly over, there was still more cheering, so John and John came out one more time. They were actually being kicked out (a disco was starting in a few minutes) but they had time to do a quick song. It was cool to have one song with just the two Johns on stage.

The show was around 1 hour and 45 minutes, which seemed like just the right amount of time (since we were on our feet the whole time).

Sarah and I saw Neil Cicierega (Lemon Demon) standing a few feet from us in the audience, but we were too shy to go up and say hi. He looks even thinner in person than in photos.

Then on the way home there was torrential rain and we nearly died, but came out the other side intact.

Shabu Shabu!

Sarah met me at work on Friday, I showed her around the cube warren, then left early to get some food before going to a show.

Lyn had recommended some places, and pointed us to some review sites. Sarah found a place called Kaze that serves Shabu Shabu, which looked interesting, so we went there.

It was a short walk from where we parked to Chinatown, and to Kaze. We got there around 5 so it was pretty empty. The place is nice and clean, and has an upstairs and a downstairs. We were seated upstairs. I conjectured that “Kaze” meant “wind” since “KamaKaze” means “devine wind” (turns out I was right).

Shabu Shabu (named after the Japanese sound of beef cooking in the broth, sort of like “bubble bubble” crossed with “sizzle”) is interesting, and works like this:
There is a heating element on the table (a flat glass one in this case, like the stove in my kitchen). You order your base stock, and then order items to cook in the pot. All the items come uncooked (or ready-to-heat, in the case of some of the items) and you cook them by putting them in the boiling pot of broth. I ordered Japanese Curry stock, Sarah ordered the plain stock. The pot was divided down the middle, with a stock to a side.

I ordered beef and chicken, Sarah ordered the fish cake assortment. Each came with a plate full of veggies, and some little dishes with garlic, green onions, sauces, and hot peppers.

You also choose which noodles you want, I chose spinach noodles, Sarah chose udon.

You get a little spear, like a two-pronged trident (bident?) and a stick with a basket on the end. You use these tools to add things to and extract things from the boiling broth.

The meats are cut very thin, so it only takes a few seconds for them to cook.

It’s fun but a little messy, I managed to splatter some curry broth on my shirt, but otherwise stayed dry. The server guy kept coming by the table and reminding me to stir my pot so nothing sticks to the bottom. I’m stirring, dammit! =)

It was more food than we could eat, and pretty reasonably priced, I think it was $30 total for both of us, which is probably equal to what we’d have spent at some average place like Chili’s.

Oh, we also got green tea, which was *very* green. It was Japanese green tea, made from roasted rice, much more flavorful than Chinese green tea. It had a sort of grassy, sesame flavor which was good.

New Drink

I invented a new drink today. I call it Hot Chaicolate.

Step 1. Put a teabag of unsweetened chai tea in a mug, fill the mug with hot water.
Step 2. Allow it to steep for 3 minutes.
Step 3. Drink the tea.

That was all just leading up to the real steps:

Step 4. Put the damp, weaker chai teabag in a mug (or leave it in the mug it’s in) and add hot water.
Step 5. Allow it to steep for 3 minutes.
Step 6. Remove the teabag and mix in a packet of hot chocolate mix (I use cheap Swiss Miss packets).
Step 7. Drink the Hot Chaicolate!

Step 1-3 just weakens the teabag so the flavor isn’t too strong for the later steps. Plus you get a bonus drink out of the recipe!


Missed Comedy

There was a perfect opportunity for comedy, if only a few more names had fallen into place.

The President of China, Hu Jintao, gave a speech.
Think about it…

Reporter 1: So who is speaking now?
Reporter 2: That’s right.
Reporter 1: No, I asked you who’s giving the speech?
Reporter 2: Ya.
Reporter 1: So Ya is speaking now?
Reporter 2: No, Hu is speaking now, Ya is up later.

and so on…