soda soda
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I've decided that if Cindy and I ever have a kid, we'll name him or her Starbucks and seek corporate sponsorship for life (diapers, college, health care). It works great for either gender, has a nice ring to it if you add on some permutation of O'Dell-Cooper, and as former English majors we can always claim we got it from Moby Dick, not the global caffiene empire.
~ scott @ 9:29 AM [link]
Notes From the West Coast

In California, people in the grocery store manuever their carts like their cars: fast, aggressive, with purpose. It can be 87 F on Dec. 21st. Dirt trails through native scrubland are replaced with housing tracts placed on man-made terraces of earth.

There are gated communities to seperate the new multi-million-dollar houses from the old million-dollar houses. An 800 square foot house on a quarter acre lot built in the 30's can go for $700,000. They've made a movie star with no qualifications Governor.

I picked tangerines from a tree in my parents' yard on the shortest day of the year. So much for the dead of winter. There are eucalyptus trees shed of bark, standing tall and narrow in pale winter flesh. They grow so fast that the landscape is subtly altered each year.

There are cast-concrete fences moulded to look like wood, with texture and "imperfections" on the posts and rails. They're quite convincing when one is going past at 40 miles an hour, but at pedestrian scale they're simply bizarre.
~ scott @ 10:08 PM [link]
More DRM

I'm still pretty hot about how enormously fubar the iTunes DRM business is (in the wrong circumstances) and how dumb I was to go for it in the first place. The digital downloads were just too good to resist, and I squelched my initial reservations with big doses of curiosity, technolust and good faith towards Apple.

Here's a quick rundown of all the things wrong with buying music from the iTunes store:

1. DRM
2. 128kb resolution
3. $9.99
4. You lose it, you (re)buy it
~ scott @ 9:02 AM [link]
Damn Resolution, Music (DRM)

Just this minute I've committed to a third New Year's Resolution: no more purchases from the iTunes Music Store.

I'm at home, on my iMac and cue up a song I'm jonesing to hear that was originally purchased on another computer. So iTunes wants me to unlock it with my Apple account. I enter my password. Nope. I'm sure it's right, but what the hell? Even though I've got better things to do, I'll play along. I click the forgot password link and am routed to the Apple site (automatically firing up Safari - which I NEVER use - along the way. Thanks - that's helpful when I already have 6 Firefox tabs open!). I go the send by email route, waste another 48 seconds of my life reloading my inbox, then follow the link in the email back to the Apple site (again, in Safari. Naturally, I'd closed it.) I enter a new password, twice, and get an OK.

Back to iTunes, where I try to play the song again, even though by now I'm hardly hot to hear it anymore. Again the authorization box, which I seem to complete successfully this time, only to get hit with this:

"Additional security information is needed... etc, etc." So, yep, back to the Apple site - good thing I've got DSL now, eh? - where I have no choice about providing my country, preferred language, birthday and a password retrieval question for next time. (What? Sending it by email is allowed only once?) So I'm from the US - since that'll probably break something if I say Pakistan; and my language is English, since there's no way I could navigate these obscure error messages in Swahili; and I just enter some random junk in the question and answer box. Hit Enter. Result: "There's been some kind of hoo-ha error, probably your fault, and the only thing you can do about it is go back and try again. We're not even sure which form field caused the error, or if we are we're not telling you about it, so good luck with that." Or something to that effect.

So after some genial swearing and closing of certain applications, I get curious enough to try again. ("This could be a blog post!") Back to iTunes, back to extra security info, a real question and answer this time (Q: Fuck me? A: You already did.) This seems to past muster, then I'm sent to my all-time Apple rap sheet with fields for more personal info than I actually know. Remarkably, I'm able to skip most of this and just click "OK". This time, I think ahead and leave Safari open.

Back in iTunes, I try to select the song again, having nearly forgotten what it was and now realizing that, at this rate, I could die here without ever hearing New Found Glory play it again. This looks momentarily promising until: "This Apple ID has not been used with the iTunes Music Store. Please review your account information." Naturally, the "options" are: a) Review or b) Cancel, which I take to mean: a) Return To Our Horrific Online Account Maintenance System or b) Give Up On Ever Hearing That Song You Foolishly Paid 99c For Again, You Pathetic Loser. Gamely, I choose a).

I pause for a moment to recall this: I've bought at least a hundred dollars worth of music from the iTunes Store in the last year, so this account has most definitely been used before. Furthermore, until I "upgraded" to iTunes 6.1, this sad little iMac was authorized to play these songs. So I'm having all this fun because - yes - Apple wants to sell me protected copies of last night's free TV shows.

So I chose "Review" and waited for Safari to pop up. Guess again! This time, I'm taken to the iTunes Store within iTunes, and asked to create a billing account to go with my Apple ID. Huh? I Agree to the terms and conditions thing, knowing I'm now as completely screwed in a court of law as with all other software that I have the gall to attempt using, am asked to verify my County for billing purposes, congratulated for successfully setting up this account to work with the store (which at this point actually seems well-earned) and left with one option: clicking a button called "Done". Oh, Apple. Don't fucking tempt me like that.

I click it, thinking that Done is far more likely to mean my hard drive will now explode, sending white-hot bits of metal and plastic rocketing through my brain and putting me out of this ridiculous misery, and am greeted with: The iTunes Music Store front door. As if I'd just arrived there at my own request, looking to... uhm.. buy some more copy-protected music? Well shit. That Mariah Carey looks seriously tempting, folks, but I did just make a new resolution and all and even though it's still mid-December, I'm going to get an early start on keeping it and just go back to "my" Library and try to hear "my" "Purchased" music again.

(Is anyone else getting the irony that the song I want is called "This Disaster"? I know it's too good to be true, but I am honestly not shitting you about this.)

I click the song title, and can almost hear Safari warming up in the background. Mind you, I've now authenticated myself three times in the last 20 minutes and yet, predictably, this computer is still not authorized to play the song, so will I please enter my Apple ID and password to authorize it? (If I can't remember, there's a helpful "Forgot Password" button!). I type it in again, cringe, and hit "Authorize". Lo and Behold! A confirmation dialog box saying "machine authorization successful". I click to play the song: "This computer is not authorized to play the song "This Disaster". Would you like to authorize it?"

Oh yes, I would. I really, really would.
~ scott @ 10:35 AM [link]
Foul-Mouthed Brilliance

An angry, harsh, accurate roundup of church&state, Jesus' B-Day, historical precidents and FOX News, with a catchy title that you just can't forget: Fuck Christmas.
~ scott @ 2:00 PM [link]
Future Lyric Fragment

I followed you car
all over town
because it coughed out small,
perfect smoke rings
so fleeting but so nice
so nice but so, well,
~ scott @ 1:44 PM [link]
Dumb Automation

Sometimes those automated scripts don't run as intended... I got this email from today:

Subject: Want $0.00? Sell your items on
~ scott @ 12:18 PM [link]