Sunday, April 30, 2006

Colbert doesn't pull any punches...

Even if you're not a big Colbert fan... you have to watch this. I like the Daily Show, but haven't watched Colbert's show much. That's going to change...

Stephen Colbert was one of the comedians signed up to provide the entertainment at the White House Correspondents ' Association Dinner. I'm not sure who decides who gets the invites to these dinners, but everyone was there. And Colbert, standing about ten feet from W and Laura, made his typical straight-faced-style of jokes about everything.. I mean everything.. from Karl Rove, to Valerie Plame, to the retired-generals-calling-for-Rumsfeld-to-step-down thing. It's one thing to hear these jokes occasionally on his show, but this was basically a "best of", spinning through half the scandals of the last few years, while the President was sitting right there. I mean, I find the stuff hilarious, but it even made me distinctly uncomfortable, particularly when Colbert talks directly to W during the show. I'm guessing a lot of people felt that way, because there was a distinct lack of laughter (shocked silence?) after a number of key jokes.

An interesting thing to note is the camera shots. Usually, while Colbert is
making a joke at someone's expense, the camera will jump to them for a few seconds, show a reaction (which in a many cases seemed more like a grimace than a smile), then pop back to Colbert. However, even when Colbert was talking directly to him, the camera never jumped to Bush. I'm guessing either his reactions weren't very favorable, or he had some sort of contract worked out beforehand that they wouldn't show his reactions to things. In any case, I think it's pretty lame, but typical of this administration's press control.

Here are links to the video on YouTube. You can probably google a link to a downloadable version somewhere if you prefer...

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Amature Mechanic Hour

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my bus? For anyone who doesn't know, I own a '76, caution-sign-yellow VW Bus. Let me see if I can dig up a picture...

Here's Whirligig at Mason Lake (Cyn's Parents' property) in camper mode... note the playa dust still covering the pop-top canvas.

At any rate, I'm driving home from work yesterday, tooling down TV Highway (Tualatin Valley, not Television), I go to accelerate, and *bam*, the gas pedal just drops to the floor. "Crap!"... think fast... throttle cable must've broken. I had enough speed to coast a bit, so I turned left onto a side road and pulled over.

I knew I had a spare throttle cable under the back seat that had come with the bus. I popped the engine cover, found the throttle, and there's this little metal bar sticking off it... "hmm.. that looks like it could be a cable end." Looked around until I saw the end of the cable sticking out of its little tube. Crawled under the front, popped off the metal plate that covers the underside of the pedals. Yep, the cable is loose, so I pulled it out of the tube that runs to the back, and threaded the new one in. There's a point where a metal tube meets a rubber tube where it popped out and I had to crawl under the back and re-thread it, but in the end, after about 45 minutes, I attached the cable end to the throttle, fired up the bus, and drove on home.

One of the main things I love about this car is that everything is mechanical. No electronic throttle, anti-lock brakes, assisted steering, none of that. There is literally a cable running from my gas pedal that goes under the bus and attaches to the throttle on top of the engine. S imple and uncomplicated. The engine doesn't even use water - it's basically a glorified lawn mower engine. If you have the part, the tools, and maybe a book or two, you can pretty much fix everything yourself. I love German engineering, the thing is literally made to be taken apart and put back together with simple tools.

I've been driving her for five years, and this is the first time she's broken down on me on the road. She even made it to the middle of the Nevada desert and back with nothing more than a flaky blinker.

Plus, I love her 'cause she's bright freakin' orange, and really obnoxious. I love parking her next to the Mercedes, Corvettes, and other high-end cars at work. I've seen a Delorian pulling in and out a couple times.. if I can manage to park next to that I'm gonna take a picture.

Oh, and btw, I finally completed my "probationary period" at work, so I guess I'm an official employee now. It's weird working for a company that's not a startup, and most likely won't go under anytime soon. This is the first time I've had actual vacation time I could count on, and it's strange to be able to plan a "career", and think more than about three months ahead. It's all weird, and I feel really lucky to be there. I almost feel like a responsible adult... don't tell anyone though.