Oooh! I wanna play too!

Meme time! “List the towns or cities where you spent at least a night away from home during 2006. Mark with a star if you had multiple non-consecutive stays.” This ought to be interesting.

* Coquitlam, BC
* Vancouver, BC
Phoenix, AZ
Seattle, WA
Edmonton, AB
* Calgary, AB
Toronto, ON
* London, United Kingdom
Istanbul, Turkey
Vienna, Austria
Salzburg, more or less, Austria (not by choice)
Venice, Italy
Rome, Italy
Riomaggiore, Italy
Arles, France
Paris, France
Swansea, Wales
Dublin, Ireland

A good year for travel, overall. Better than 2004. Way better than 2005 (aka “the year of living dangerously”). It’s funny because I went through Google Earth last night and marked every place on the planet I’ve been to. I’m a fairly well-traveled guy, but the exercise made me sort of depressed. “Maaaan! I’ve got all kinds of ground to cover!” Round-the-world ticket, here I come! (Thanks, FlyerTalk punks, for putting that idea in my head. Jerks.)

Great Marcellus Wallace moments in travel

The luau is the image most people have when they think about a great Hawaiian party. Me, not so much — I’ve done the luau thing, and I think I’d rather go find some local people, drink some beer, eat some poke, and party hearty in their backyard (while dodging the coconuts falling from above — true story). That having been said, there’s something weirdly fun about settling down for a night of more or less unrestricted heavy drinking while eating food that includes a pig that spent most of the day underground. And the luau is more or less a mandatory experience for anyone visiting Hawaii for the first time.

So I went looking into a couple of different options for luau on the Kona coast, and there are sever–yikes! $82.90?! Jesus.

A conspiracy theorist might argue there is collusion.
An economist may argue that there simply isn’t enough competition.
A politician may think that this needs to be regulated.
An entrepreneur may see an opportunity (“Uncle Donny’s Diz-Count Luau and Oil Change”).

Morbo’s good friend Dr. Hazmat, meanwhile, will probably shut up and pay. Then party hearty. I better get damn good and drunk.

What YEAR is this? (Part 45)

I feel very torn about the existence of this Web site. On the one hand, it’s frustrating because I can’t find anything on it — what useful information is present is basically buried in there, somewhere. On the other hand, it’s kind of charming, in that retro throwback-to-1994-’cause-we-just-got-a-bunch-of-clip-art way. I mean, holy frick: You got endless images. Blink tags. Clashing colors. Scroll bars until tomorrow. Links to just about everything in the world. Twelve years ago we would have swooned over how much graphical content was on this thing; six years ago it would have seemed kind of dated. Now it might just be so awful it’s cool again.

I can never tell. Maybe I should send the link to the cool kids and see what they think. (“Dr. Hazmat sez: “Check out this hilariously 1994-esque Web site I found while doing frivolous research on the Web!” Indeed. Heh. Posted by: Xeni.”)

Sob story

I try not to get too worked up about sports. At the end of the day, stripped of all the money and glamour and marketing, it’s all just a game. Games are, in the words of one guy, supposed to be fun. Tom Boswell once said there was something missing in the six months outside the baseball season, and I think he’s right — the repetition, the regularity, the consistancy.. ah, you either know what I mean, or you don’t. I’m not going to go all George Will here.

“Fun” was the key. It was fun to go to games. We went to a pair of games last spring in Seattle and watched the Mariners get thumped both times by the Tigers. (I boldly predicted to K. that the Tigers were probably going to win the World Series, based on Chris Shelton and some crazy-assed pitching, and for the first time in my life predicting sports I was only half wrong.) It was fraking cold, the beer was expensive, the tickets were insanely expensive, and they’d hiked the price on the garlic fries since the last time I’d been there, but it was still fun. I didn’t mind. I was twelve feet away from Ichiro taking practice swings in the on-deck circle. What’s not to like? K., a non-baseball fan, had fun. We were talking about going to Opening Day 2007.

Things are different now. They started to change when the Mariners traded Rafael Soriano to Atlanta for Horacio Ramirez. This wasn’t an inexcusable deal, just a stupid one — Ramirez is a back-of-the-rotation guy, not someone who’s going to change the outcome of your season. You need to have guys like him in your rotation, but you don’t trade good bullpen guys for him (and then complain you have holes in your bullpen). Soriano has a bit of an injury problem and took a hellacious line drive off his head on 29 August this year, though he has been pitching well in winter ball. So I can understand why holding on to the flame-throwing kid may not necessarily have been the Mariners’ highest priority.

Then this happened.

This is inexcusable. We’ll set my man-crush on Chris Snelling aside and ignore Fruto, though I do love Chris and Emiliano Fruto has an awesome name. The Mariners got older and more expensive and worse. That’s never the right side of a trade to be on. Jose Vidro solves exactly 0 problems for the Mariners. The Mariners had many issues going into this off-season, none of which cried out for an aging, out-of-shape 2B from the National League, and certainly not at $16M over two years with an option for 2009. About the only nice thing I can say about this trade is that Jim Bowden isn’t the dumbest GM in baseball anymore.

I heard this and wanted to cry. It was the first time in years that baseball has moved me to such an emotion. Being a Mariners fan the past few years has been an exercise in futility — you know the team is never going to return to the giddy heights of 2001, and deep down you know they’re going to find some horrible way to screw it up. But there’s always been hope — that next year, they might figure it out, put it together, and win. Snelling was part of that hope. Fruto was part of that hope. At least, if they were going to suck, they weren’t going to suck and cost the team a lot of money.

Now, though, I’m left with this empty, hollow feeling. I don’t honestly believe this move makes the team better. There’s no way this trade makes any kind of sense for the Mariners. My team has committed to a player with declining skills who costs way too much money for far too much time at the expense of a pair of cheap players that could be effective — all in the name of solving a problem that isn’t that hard to fix in the first place (namely, finding a DH). I know Bill Bavasi’s job is in danger if he doesn’t Win Now!, but this is the kind of thing that (a) ensures you don’t Win Now!, and (b) ensures you don’t win Next Season, or the One After That Either.

I guess all I’m saying is that if my bloated body washes up in the Inner Harbor (or, given the way the wind is blowing now, somewhere around Port Angeles) with a note that says “Take that, Howard Lincoln!” stapled to it.. it’s a guy thing.

Looks great; sucks ass

Ouch:

Kahney’s review [of the Zune] is positive for pretty much one reason: he’s a Mac dweeb, and the Zune actually beats the iPod on the sole criterion–design–that is relevant to Mac dweebs. He hates most everything about the performance characteristics of the device but loves its fashionable brown colour, its interface, and the “rubbery” feel of its scratch-resistant case. What’s ironic is that this tells us, more clearly than any negative review could, that the Zune is for yuppies who want their technology to come in the form of slick fashion totems.

Oh, snap.

Linux, free, time, worthless

So in the process of trying to make my desktop box marginally more useful while I await the arrival of a replacement power supply for my notebook (moral: I should not be allowed to play with electricity lest I make things go sparky-spark), I decided to try installing some software. Naturally, this involved upgrading stuff. Naturally, this involved looking for six packages to install one, and ensuring I had the dependencies for the dependencies. Naturally, me being me, I gave up and said “screw it” within about an hour. It wasn’t worth it.

Especially after I discovered that, oh, by the way, at some point in the last three years we changed glibc versions.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a machine with an obsolete shared library, but it’s a lot like being in hospice care. You know you’re going to have to face the horrible truth at some point in the future, but you can put it off by patching stuff up or taking high-test analgesics. Eventually you’ll reach a point where you decide it just isn’t worth it anymore, and give in. Basically, nothing new will compile. Which means you’re SOL if you want anything fun or interesting.

I am told that Slackware’s upgrade path is marginally less painful than it used to be, inasmuch as it is theoretically possible to get away with updating everything to the latest versions without actually rebooting. (I’ll believe that when I see it, thanks.) And I guess I’m going to have to plunge in and do the upgrade, which is a dangerous thing for a guy who can’t update his kernel without hosing LILO and spending half an afternoon trying to remember which magic incantation makes LILO happy again. (I’ve forgotten again — really worrying.)

And yes, I fully understand that whatever hacker cred I used to have is fully gone by this point, and I am totally fine with that. This was driven painfully home the other day when I realized a Microsoft product was the most reasonable solution to a problem I was trying to solve, and it didn’t make me want to cry.. and that the “open source software” alternative made me want to think about buying a shotgun.