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A man photoblogged his own brain surgery -- no, I don't think he held the camera himself, instead relying on a friendly buddy to take photos of his own exposed brain and "The Alien", the tumor itself. #

Analog celphone users are beginning to be heard: they're saying reception is unacceptibly crappy with digital phones, especially in rural areas, so they're holding on to their 10-year old phones that work well. I've sold many old analog 3w phones on eBay to rural people (and one ocean-going business) for this exact reason; however, laws have been passed eliminating analog service, leaving rural phone users with 3-watt doorstops. #

A newspaper decides to emulate The Onion's "Man on the street" quotes, and ties made-up quotes with anonymous photos stolen from the internet. Hello, Media: still wondering why people don't take you seriously? If you don't take yourself seriously, we're gonna notice. #

The executive director of the Broward Art Guild was fired for appearing in a The Daily Show segment about a controvertial art exhibit in the gallery. My sympathies to her; granted, she should have checked with her higher-ups (who, in this day, doesn't know how Daily Show interviews go?), but it's reckless to let her go for appearing on national television in support of her gallery -- a duty, no doubt, she's expected to perform. #

The creators of EPIC: 2014 talk about the creation of their near-dystopic view of news media in the future. #

Maxfield Parrish is the subject of a touring exhibit currently in San Diego, and in the process of touring the country. One of my favorite artists and staple of antique shops (a print hangs in my parents' home, too), the exhibit unfortunately will not come close enough to here. *sigh* #

It took 13lbs of candy and a used graham-cracker tub, but when a little ingenuity is added, this guy created the world's biggest Gummi Bear. His mom must be so proud. #

As occurs with regular regularity, the LA Times has a story about how being 'hip' is unhip...although completely oblivious to the fact that, without a hip majority, there'd be no alternative to hipness out there. Much of the article seems to simply document people's transition from the teen/twenties desire to belong, into the individualistic adulthood everyone seems to pass. The article does mention, which I'd read if I really wanted to be cool like that. But I don't. Cuz I don't plan on being that hip. #

The Neistadt brothers walk you through the GTA:San Andreas porn unlock, plus a more dangerous experiment -- both equally simple for children to do -- pointing out which instructional video is more harmful to children. #

...and we're back from Minneapolis: it had to be the craziest seven days I've had in my life. Seriously. We were experimenting with the first Sex~Kitten City Review Issue, which will be available to readers in approximately three weeks. Due to proximity and the confluence of our employees, Minneapolis was our premiere target -- our resident editor in the Cities made connections, while we made our own connections; plans were set, plans were changed at the last minute, but overall things were good (despite being lost repeatedly, one writer's car being towed, one blown tire, and being told by the Amazon Bookstore that they're too busy to be interviewed, answer their phones, or even respond to email, because of the new Harry Potter and a charity event that would've been nice to have covered by an international women's website with tens of thousands of hits each day if only they'd have given said website more notice by answering their phones or responding to their email...but I digress).

Friday the 15th, of course, was our wedding anniversary, a day we spent roaming Minneapolis in search of relevant and interesting businesses, culminating in a visit to Lili's Burlesque, who performed a special set just for us...which was followed by the aforementioned car-towing event. Not our car, mind you, but someone much further from home. See, parking in downtown Minneapolis was limited due to an Aquatennial Block Party -- large stretches of parking meters, neutered by police blockades, blinked a hostile EXPIRED message at uncaring music-lovers who moshed to the tunes of the coolest musicians today.

...musicians like M Doughty, former Soul Coughing leader and current independent musician, whose blog I have linked over there on the right. I discovered his Minneapolis presence thanks to his blog: if I had only known he was performing, I might have wandered over in his direction and thrown a pair of panties at him...or something, I dunno, I've never been to a Minneapolis concert before. Undergarments were flying left and right at the Burlesque, so why not at Doughty's show?

But, I wondered: being so close, might have our paths crossed even closer? Mayhaps he even stopped in to see the Burlesque after his set, and I overlooked his presence due to the intersection of drunkenness and estimation of shutter speeds and f-stops. I had to meticulously examine the photos he posted to his blog in case he made a stop at a sushi bar, only to catch us in the act of interviewing the burlesque dancers in the distant background....or maybe my photos caught him peering in the restaurant windows, wondering why three sexy ladies are talking in front of an ancient Sony microphone and drinking $6.50 drinks paid for by the New Media & served in Rubenesque glasses. Hey, crazier things have happened: I almost tripped over Annie Potts once, and I even knew she might be in my way that afternoon. Tripping over Doughty would've been more fun, if only to say, "hey, I read your blog." goes on Attack of the Show!, my favorite train-wreck of a computer tech show, and makes their site sound like the worst website evar, saying it started as a monster truck newsletter, calling the host by the wrong name more than once, and giving the URL wrong. I heartily approve of the interview (video found on link above). #

Why do you work so hard?, this article asks. Mostly a fluff piece, it does touch on my life a bit. While our household's lifestyle allows me to sit on the front porch and read Vonnegut at 2pm on a Thursday while the kids play in the yard, I wouldn't say my life has less stress than when I worked a dayjob. Some may say I'm too tightly wound for self-employment, but then again I remember how long it took me to wind down after a day at the office full of back-biting coworkers and tasks that I didn't care about. #

Moodgrapher tracks a nicely quantifiable indicator of the world's collective emotion: LiveJournal mood icons. Sad and Shocked shot up on the scale due to the London bombings. #

We've known the van needs a power steering hose for quite some time -- not a serious problem, but one that's cost us a $1.999 bottle of the stuff every three or four months. Plus, the van is in need of an oil change, so I headed off to WalMart to get the oil change paraphrenalia, and I planned to examine the power steering in greater detail while fooling around under the vehicle.

What I found under the van upon returning home did not require crawing in the dirt: a river of antifreeze cascading from beneath the van, pooling into a lake in the driveway, then following the laws of fluid motion as it searched out the path of least resistance, creating a southbound meandering shallow riverbed with the help of cappilary action.

All of my scientific knowledge couldn't help my freakout: we are scheduled to do around 3,000 miles of driving in the next two-and-a-half weeks. Fargo to Sheboygan, Sheboygan to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Minneapolis, Minneapolis to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Fargo, Fargo to Milwaukee, Milwaukee to Fargo....and that's severely abbreviated, compared to our actual schedule. 80% is business, 15% is kids, 5% was planned for the bliss of driving a van in tip-top shape, which was rapidly vaporizing like the coolant dripping onto the hot engine.

I vomited part of my freakout onto D, who rationalized that we need the van, so we better call a mechanic, regardless of the cost.

By the time I found my phone (battery dead), pulled out the phone book, looked for a nearby mechanic, tallied up the cost of towing the non-driveable van...I decided I better take a second look at the van.

Chilton's manual in hand, I stepped out to the driveway. I'd the foresight to grab a resivoir to dam the flood of antifreeze -- a plastic toboggan, never used -- which had accumulated around two inches of green fluid in it. Investigating the manual, I began to disassemble the engine based on where the leak came from. Given that the van would have to be towed for repair, what harm could I cause?

The pulley for the water pump ground like sand underfoot when turned. Water-pumps go bad; it happens. This one, thankfully, went bad spectacularly in the driveway, rather than without indication somewhere around mile 580.

A phone call to the auto-parts shop later, and D and I were on-foot to the Autozone three blocks away. We're constantly pleased with living near downtown: most emergencies can be resolved with a short walk. $37 for the pump -- plus $16 for the aforementioned power steering hose -- and we were walking home.

Shirt off, grease covering my arms, legs, back -- even in my hair -- my testosterone needed a plastic toboggan resevoir of it's own to catch the runoff. It's been a long time since I've gotten to act so manly for so long a period of time (the last being assisting my father-in-law with roof repairs), and it felt good. Replacing a water pump isn't hard work, nor is the power steering hose; the worst of both were stuck threads, both vanquished by WD-40 and patience.

It didn't prevent me from becoming coated in numerous automotive fluids, bringing back memories of the fatherly smell of oil and road dust that my dad & Grandpa Vernon often brought in from the shop, memories of Grandpa Black and his gas station. Both sides of the family spent years of their lives with their hands inside a machine of one sort or another, the lines of their fingerprints almost permanently dyed black from regular contact with petroleum products. I come from a mechanical stock, one not afraid to get his hands dirty (thankfully, I got over that fear years ago). I was pleased that I didn't swear as much as I used to during car repair sessions; not that my male upline swore much, if at all, but it's a trait I've noticed in myself at least.

It took me several hours, entirely on my own, to repair the van. Again, it was a rather simple repair, but I recruited a young helper for the oil change, since it can be a bit tricky without assistance. Hunter did fine; he didn't get nearly as oily, yet laughed heartily at the black gusher that ran past the loosening oil filter and down my forearm, dripping into the drain-pan off my elbow. He dutifully retrieved a rag for me.

So here I sit, cleaned and showered (twice), back in front of my computer, typing in my blog. While it's satisfying in it's own way, and thought I often roll my eyes at being accused of manliness, it's nice to experience hardcore masculinity once in a while. The Blue Angels are also in town for the Airsho, so much of my time outside was narrated by the deafening roars of dual jet engines flying low as the F-18s turned over our house, streaking back towards the airport. Yesterday was so manly, Tim Taylor's head would have exploded were he here.

Two huge scratches on my right forearm couldn't have been earned at the PC, but it's a bit safer here. The van is purring like a van that purrs, so yesterday earned us back the 5% of our trip, knowing that not only is the van fixed, the skinny white guy writing PHP code in the basement is ready to break out the toolbox and fix what he can.

William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and other groundbreaking works, muses on how plagarism furthers the art, rather than impeding it. His words seem to exempt derivitive works from copyright laws: while there's truth in it, the fear in every artist's soul of having their art taken away from them will never get current copyright laws overturned. One might point out to Gibson that the Neuromancer movie has yet to be made, despite the desire of fans for such a film and the ability of anyone with a DV camera and some software to make it themselves. If one were made without his input and in violation of whomever owns the movie rights, we'll see how long he sticks to the "derivative works are great!" arguement. #

The entrepeneur behind says it's a great time to be an entrepeneur -- took $3,000,000 to get going, but his most recent endeavor took only $100,000. The difference: free software, cheap experienced labor, nonstandard advertising routes, and hardware is dirt cheap. "The sources of funding capable of writing $100,000 checks are a lot more plentiful than those capable of writing $3,000,000 checks", Kraus says, but my guess is they're not as ready to part with their money for unsure things as they were ten years ago...we'd like to find someone to part with $10,000 to get our stuff going, but it's not exactly an easy sell when we don't have inventory, we don't already have a billion-dollar business under your belt, and the business isn't all buzzword-filled. #

The BBC, using the wisdom of modern blogging conventions, turns to user-created news for breaking coverage about today's terrorist attacks. #

War Of The Worlds...but just the covers. The book has been in print more than a century, and has been public domain for a large chunk of it, being reprinted numerous times. This website has an archive of covers, from the 1800s, until 2005. #

Matt Sharkey, of KeepGoing.Org, documents the life of Suck, one of the first greatest websites evar. #

Late last night, as I headed for bed, a celphone was forced upon me; Marsha, one of our editors, had something to say.

"Don't ever do that again."

"What?" I said, tired because it was after midnight and loopy from spending three hours adjusting the colors on a book cover to meet the printer's specifications.

"Don't waste stories like that again, don't put them up at Backwash, there's places those go."

"You mean the last one?"

"The one about Kevin, yes."

Ah, once upon a time -- around 2002 -- I fancied I had the makings of a professional writer. I had been getting a lot of good feedback on Backwash, and I had several novels of stuff boiling around in my skull. A lot happened since then, and I sorta lost track of that career path (seeing that I picked up a hodge-podge of new careers when I became self-employed full time, it's not hard to see how writing fell by the wayside).

Since my programming duties have lessened, I've been feeling more inclined to write. Having an editor tell me my rough draft short story posted on Backwash with little more than a spellcheck should have been submitted for publishing in a "real" journal, I suppose maybe I should return to by writing ways. Too bad I don't know any publishers -- oh wait -- I suppose I do. Self-publishing isn't always the way to build respect, but if I can get myself published in a few reputable outlets, maybe I've got a repository of works that Ephemera Bound could find profitable. We'll see -- it can't hurt to keep writing, anyway, right?

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