Miss Margot meets WALL-E

Here’s the kitten reacting to WALL-E on my computer screen. When I originally posted this video to YouTube, I made it private to avoid copyright issues. Then I searched YouTube for WALL-E and found loads of others, so I figured what the heck and it’s now public. Which means you can actually watch it.

She’s on my desk right now, making it hard to type and throwing stuff off my desk. Good thing she’s so cute!

Self-checkout fun at Crappy Tire

The new local CT has a bunch of those newfangled self-checkout things. I generally use those when available as they seem faster than the alternative.

Yesterday I was there picking up a bread maker. When I started the checkout process, the attendant for the self-checkout stalls was patiently trying to explain something to the woman at the stall next to mine. Whatever. I scanned the breadmaker box and obediently placed it on the platform at the side of the self-checkout machine. So far so good. Keep in mind that I’ve had problems with these machines before, but usually the reason is obvious. Once a machine gagged on an item I was buying because it was flagged as a hazardous chemical. Thanks to 9/11 no doubt.

Anyway, things were chugging along and then the machine suddenly stopped and said “WAIT FOR ATTENDANT”. No indication of what the problem was. At this point I looked over at the attendant, but she was still wrangling with the woman in the next stall. Clearly she wouldn’t be able to help me until she finished with this person. So I started to pay attention to the conversation. Apparently, the woman couldn’t understand what was happening with her transaction when she tried to use her Canadian Tire money. Here’s how it works, and believe me it ain’t rocket science: you scan your items, the machine totals it all up, then asks if you have any CT money. If you do, you enter the amount. The amount you enter reduces your total. This was what the attendant kept repeating to the woman in the next stall, but she started getting mad and flailing around as if someone was trying to put one over on her. I lowered my head to my cart and started gently banging my head. People in the next line noticed too and I watched one woman start to form helpful words; but presumably she figured out that there was no getting through to this woman and didn’t bother.

Suddenly my machine woke up and my checkout process continued. Yay! So I carried on and was almost finished when just as suddenly it stopped again: WAIT FOR ATTENDANT. Argh! I glanced over at the attendant, who shot me a sympathetic look and continued to try to reassure the clueless woman that she was not being ripped off. I resumed my head-banging. Ms. Clueless finally threw up her hands, declared that “it doesn’t make any sense” and decided to ignore her doubts and move on. At that point my machine once again revived and I completed my transaction. Phew!

On my way past the attendant, I asked if she knew why my machine had stopped twice yet recovered each time apparently on its own. She told me, quietly, that she knew exactly why this had happened: because The Clueless Wonder’s rather large rear end, in all her flailing, had impinged upon the machine I was using and caused its scale to register weights not in alignment with the items I had purchased. So THAT’S why they make you put your items on the little platform!

I do not enjoy making fun of people with physical issues, especially not in public. That’s just not how I roll. But believe me, if I had known that this ignorant, enormously overweight woman was holding up my progress both because she was incredibly stupid AND because her fat behind was interfering with the machine, I would have politely invited her to move her fat, ignorant ass out of the way.

Jon Lajoie live show

ScaryClown and I saw Jon Lajoie at The Plaza last night. The opening act was forgettable, but by the time Jon appeared the place was pretty much full. He did a lot more talking than singing, and didn’t end up doing more than four or five tunes. However, he did both “High As F***” and the “2 Girls, 1 Cup song”, so we were happy. The crowd clearly knew Jon from his videos, based on their reactions to videos shown on a big screen behind the stage. Some of those videos were new bits, including “How to get away with murdering a random street person.” Many in the crowd – including myself – sang along with our favourites. Overall, not a brilliant performance, but a lot of fun.

Brian Eno believes that singing is the key to a good life

From an interesting NPR article, here’s Brian Eno on singing as a path to happiness:

Singing aloud leaves you with a sense of levity and contentedness. And then there are what I would call “civilizational benefits.” When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings — to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.

Site changes

For those interested, I recently made two small changes to the site:

  1. Added an indication of the currently logged in user at the top of the right side column.
  2. Fixed email. Now all admin-related emails should work as expected. In particular, password reset requests should now be working. Self-registration for new users is now technically possible, but it’s Allegra’s call as to whether that feature will be enabled.

Mars images and animation

Boston.com has a bunch of Mars images from Phoenix and other recent probes:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/06/martian_skies.html

I also recently discovered that the Phoenix lander posts reports to Twitter.com. Twitter is a goofy little web service that lets people tell the world what they’re doing. Never saw the point of it until now. Here’s an example of a recent Twitter post by Phoenix:

Whoohoo! Was keeping my eye on some chunks of bright stuff & they disappeared! Sublimated! So it can’t be salt, it’s ice: http://is.gd/lFa 05:23 PM June 19, 2008 from web

Of course, it’s not really the lander itself sending the reports, but they’re fun anyway. I’ve got my Twitter account set up to send Phoenix reports to my cell phone!