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‘Walk the Line’

I am not much of a country music fan. My mother predicted that when I grew older, my tastes would grow more country. That simply never happened. Today’s playlist included songs by Arcade Fire, Jack’s Mannequin, Nelly Furtado, Something Corporate, Snow Patrol, Simple Plan, and Sum 41. No country.

But I do like good movies, even about country music singers, particularly when the actors do their own singing (no lip syncing, please). Country singer Johnny Cash did cover songs spanning many genres, even if he put his own twang on them. So I couldn’t resist “Walk the Line“, which I watched this evening. The star performances make the show. 

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Just Add ‘i’

Late this afternoon, my daughter yelled to me from another room, “Dad, dad. I figured out what Microsoft means. You’ve got to come see this. Micro. Soft”.

We had just returned from Black Friday shopping, an exercise taken for purely academic purposes. My daughter wanted to see all the Black Friday sales and shoppers, more for the thrill of it. Typically, it’s a banned shopping day in our household. I mean, what nutcase gets up to shop at 5 a.m.? Lots of people that I know. One friend hit the Wal-Mart in Fredericksburg, Va., and she still didn’t get the item she wanted. Another friend started shopping at 5 a.m., but online, spending $350 at CompUSA on rebate items. Geez. Get a life. 

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Towering Over Thanksgiving

My daughter and I just got back from Tower Records (while my wife stayed home to review home school materials). I was so stunned by the posted holiday hours, I just had to ask at the counter about them. My local Tower Records will be open 10 to 10 on Thanksgiving. Oh, did I mention Tower has Christmas hours, too?

I pretty much had accepted McDonalds’ half-day Thanksgiving hours, but 10 to 10 over at Tower Records? Geez. Get a life! I’m tempted to drop in and see just how is business, considering not only the holiday but day before Black Friday. 

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Why Be a Statistic?

For no particular reason, I looked at the Weddings page in today’s New York Times and all the happy faces there. Then I wondered how many of these marriages, sadly, would eventually end in bitter divorce. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the divorce rate is about half the marriage rate per 1,000 people.

As a teen, I read the humorous, sci-fi parody, Where Were You Last Pluterday?, by Paul Van Herck. For the main character, marriage was easy. But divorce was a complicated and expensive affair—and he had good reason! 

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No One is Safe

I am increasingly troubled by the implications of the Sony rootkit DRM, uncovered on Halloween by renown Windows expert Mark Russinovich. Essentially, Sony used a cloaking mechanism, typically the tool of malicious hackers, to hide digital rights management software installed on PCs from copy-protected music CDs. Like malware, the rootkit occasionally sends out information (to Sony), is nearly impossible to remove and when removed usually damages Windows.

I’ll skip over all the ways that Sony has turned its copy-protection mechanism into the worst kind of public relations disaster. I couldn’t imagine how any company could create more negative perception about DRM, but I’ll skip that, too. 

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Little Bun Runs

Unseasonably warm weather ended today, but not before the thermometer reached 23 degrees Celsius. On Sunday, with temperature about as high, my daughter took Little Bun (not the rabbit’s real name) out into the backyard.

Bun Bun (also a rabbit pseudonym) shares my basement office and gets frequent runs `round the backyard. She can hop—supervised, of course—out the open sliding glass door. Little Bun lives in my daughter’s bedroom, without access to the outside. 

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Somewhere Between Dickey and Rivière-Bleue

I am in a storytelling mood, and so here comes another one. I swear, by all people precious to me, that this is a true story and not a tall tale. I have to say it, because you, the reader, might not believe the account or the accuracy of my memory.

My dad first took me camping when I was seven years old. Where I’m from, camping had nothing to do with RVs or tidy, civilized campgrounds, or at least when I was a kid. My dad, uncle and their crew—about 10 men—headed deep into the woods along the Crown of Maine, or Aroostook, west of an area better known as the St. John Valley.

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The Geography Lesson

I spent a good chunk of my twenties traveling, for reasons better explained some other time. One day—oh, winter 1985—I walked into a west Texas fast food place looking for cheap Mexican eats.

I’ve got to digress and talk about Texas towns and food, or what they were then. Pretty much any Texas town big enough to have a gas station has a Diary Queen. Rule goes: Every town in the Longhorn state has a Dairy Queen (It’s not true, I found one in southern Texas near the New Mexico border without a DQ. Of course, my last visit was years ago, and there might be one now). Restaurants are a good measure of just how many people live in a Texas town. First there’s the DQ (about 25 to 3,000-4,000 people) and next up is the Sonic (4,000-5,000 range or so). Pizza place means more people, etc. etc. 

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Army of the Stuffed

Today’s New York Times story, “They’re Soft and Cuddly, So Why Lash Them to the Front of a Truck“, is a delightful sociological study of why stuffed animals adorn some trucks. Reporter Andy Newman asks, “Why do a small percentage of trucks and vans have filthy plush toys lashed to their fronts, like prisoners at the mast?”

He describes the bunnies and other stuffed critters as “soldiers in the tattered, scattered army of the stuffed: mostly discarded toys plucked from the trash and given new if punishing lives on the prows of large motor vehicles, their fluffy white guts flapping from burst seams and going gray in the soot-stream of a thousand exhaust pipes”.