More Amusing Pics

I'm just back from a bounce trip to Florida (22 hours on the ground--yuck). Instead of a content-filled post, here are a few amusing photos I took recently.

I did make it up to Bird & Jen's briefly last weekend (got to see Philip Glass in concert--more on that later). But we also stopped by the New Hampshire State Liquor Store in Portsmouth. Man... there's some scary stuff there...

Such as Poland Spring Gin:

Huh wha? Apparently, it is a different company from the bottled water company. Looking at the plastic 1.75 liter jug, I just had mental images that they also make 5-gallon plastic carboys of this stuff. Y'know... just pop it on top of your water cooler... [ga-dunk ga-dunk ga-dunk ga-dunk ga-dunk]. This web page has some remarkably amusing, snarky, and informative bits on Poland Spring gin:

I read in an article that Poland Spring water was first bottled back over 150 years ago and was something of a trend setter. Selling bottled water was almost unheard of, and there were very few companies doing so. After Prohibition ended, Lawrence & Co. of Boston made Poland Spring Gin, Sloe Gin, and Whiskey using Poland Spring water and bottled them in decorative bottles called Moses bottles.

... the word is that many folks out there consider it a step above rubbing alcohol and claim it gives killer hangovers. I have only seen it sold in 1.75 liter jugs, which is a strong indicator that it's a pretty low level gin.

The taste is light and slightly sharp, with not much ginni-ness to it. (I know that's not a word.) After a few minuscule sips I decided that it wasn't worth it to drink any more, I just wasn't in the mood to punish myself, and I relegated the bottle back down to the depths of the library where it can stay in hiding indefinitely.

Bird and I were also looking for tonic water... but it appears that NH liquor stores can't sell anything but booze... probably some type of non-compete agreement with convenience stores. But wait... what about this stuff? That looks like a mixer...

Not only does it look like a 1.75 liter bottle of Cheez Whiz, it actually has booze in it! Just add ice and blend! Oh god...

Moving on... during the drive back to the airport in Florida, I had to take this photo. For those of you who have known me since undergrad, you know that this is a repeat gag (from 1994)... but I still get a chuckle out of it.

Anyway, I thought it would make a great little web story about implementing dashboard cameras in cars... ".. these were the last three recoverable frames found in what was left of the car..."


Aging... or Not?

I realized recently that my driver's license is expiring this year, so I went ahead and tried to renew it online, instead of heading to the RMV. However, I soon received email back from them:

The Requested License Renewal Transaction was not processed. Your license photo was taken more than nine (9) years ago. You will need to visit an RMV office in person to have a new photo taken and to renew your license.

Whoah.... really? So this photo must have been taken before April 2000. As far as I can tell, I think I look largely identical now. D'ya think so? For reference, my haircut post from about a year ago (not head-on shots, though).

I guess this goes to show that Asians really have a weird thing with aging--I think we often stay largely unchanged from our mid-20s through our 40s or so. Thus, my getting proofed every once in a while. But when getting older, all of a sudden, you undergo this massive aging step function. You then transform into a stooped raisin of a human being who looks like he ought to be dispensing wisdom on a mountaintop while in the lotus position. ("... and young grasshopper, when you replace the flush valve on a water heater...")

Incidentally, this reminds me of a New York Times article from a while ago: "Facial Discrimination":

We almost never talk out loud about physiognomy, the bogus science of judging character on the basis of facial features. But we all do it. We like or dislike people, hire and sometimes fire them, steer them onto the fast track or nudge them into the oubliette based in part on facial prejudices of which we are scarcely even aware.


In one study tracking more than 500 cases of intentional wrongdoing in Boston small-claims court, judgments went against mature-faced defendants 92 percent of the time, but against baby-faced defendants only 45 percent of the time. The perception, says Brandeis University psychologist Leslie Zebrowitz, is that “baby-faced people are too honest and naïve to have a high probability of committing a premeditated offense.”

Huh... so maybe I should leverage my looks for a life of crime? However...

When it comes to choosing leaders, on the other hand, we often opt for people who look the part. For instance, another study categorized graduates in the West Point class of 1950 according to whether their faces looked dominant or submissive. Predictably, the top rank of general overwhelmingly went to people who fit the “tough warrior” stereotype. The people making such promotions apparently treated this facial type as a reliable indicator of the ability to command. And maybe there was method in their madness: Being sent off to war by a leader who looks like Howdy Doody might well be demoralizing.

Anyway, I'm wondering if there's anything other creative use for my currently apparent lack of aging. My UW grad student ID is about to run out... so no more student discounts at museums. And no, I'm not planning on using my ability to pass as younger-than-I-am to hit on twentysomething grad students. Ew ew ew.


Packed-Full Weekend

Just a brief update from this weekend before heading to bed:

Saturday: Spent a chunk of the day at the office. However, it wasn't all that bad--these are all "interesting little jobs I don't have time for during the week." E.g., installing an electrical logging system on the office circuit breaker panel, wiring up a fan controller that we wanted try out, and doing a series of measurements on our air handler unit--some data that I've been meaning to collect for ages. Also, the company is pretty good with flex time, so I'll be able to make it up later.

I then rushed over to with R. (birthday celebration, woo!) and her two visiting sisters for dinner in the North End. They got a recommendation from a local for Antico Forno--a very nice classic bustling Italian Restaurant. Worth going back to... although there are so many restaurants to try out in the North End, it seems a shame not to try out a new place every time. But it makes me realize that I don't get over to that part of town nearly that often.

Beers over in Faneuil Hall followed, including a small-world coincidence of the guy in the booth behind us having Nova Scotia connections with the three sisters. The maritimes seem to have this scary everyone-knows-somebody-else thing going on...

Sunday: Sunday was dim sum with Jofish, Erin, Rawhide, Terri & kids, JMD, Rebecca, Celeste, Indy, Violet, and Kraken. Jofish is in town for the CHI conference. BTW--Kraken is moving out of town, to Annapolis. Yikes! In other news, Indy has given notice and is looking for fields afresh--go Indy!

One of the interesting finds--Black Sesame Rolls. They are dessert--sweetened jelled sesame paste. Like a black, soft, fruit roll up, except not fruit-flavored. Very odd looking--black gummi log, anyone?

This was followed by a trip to REI--but I wrote about that already.

Ugh... this might be a long week coming up. Drinking will be required.

Such a Deal!

I know that it is an uncouth and stereotypically American thing to brag about bargains found while shopping, but this one, hopefully, is entertaining to most of my readers. Specifically, I picked up a pair of hiking boots are REI today, and am pretty happy with them.

As background first--not only is it incredibly difficult to find pants that fit me correctly, but also my feet are painfully bizzare Fred-Flintstone-style rectanguloids. More genetic material from my dad--he has been shopping from Hitchcock wide shoes... and I have followed in his footsteps (so to speak). So what size are my feet? Well..

The length is 5-1/2 to 6, but...

Then the corresponding width is EEE. So as a result, most of my life, I had to get "conventional" (as opposed to custom order) wide shoes in a longer length (6-1/2 to 7), in order to have shoes that don't make my feet ache from the side compression.

So I've been keeping an eye out for real hiking boots for a few years now. I've done all the major camping trips with lightweight "camp hikers"--but they are more like glorified sneakers. So I try to check every sale pile... but not much in the way of pickin's.

But during today's REI trip, I found a pair of Montrail Torre Classics, Size 6-1/2 Wide, in the return bin:

- Retail price: $160

- Typical online price (they are last year's model): $70-100

- Price at REI's clear-out-the-basement sale: $39.87

- The "sale's over, but this stuff is still left" 50% clearance price: $19.94

Woo hoo! Pretty much covered by this year's REI dividend. Okay, so I had to buy replacement laces ($4), but they were still a bargain. Walked from Fenway to Central Square to test them out.

I'm pretty impressed by these boots--plenty of heft, tough materials, boatloads of ankle support, rubber toe cap. Hell--check out the lace fittings:

Those are cast or forged piece of metal--not the usual stamped sheet metal. Wow.

Now I can't wait to go try them out on the trail!