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September 2004

GMail Invite Giveaway
September 2 2004 01:42 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Okay, I still can't figure the allure of the whole GMail thing. It's email, for crying out loud. Two gigs of space, sure. But I barely use the ten megs in my other accounts, and I typically get hacked off if someone sends me a mega-sized file without warning me. (Maybe just because I'm "old" and rigid in my 90's-era ways. I still don't use a cellphone, and it freaks my friends out.)

But if you happen to have missed out on the GMail bandwagon thus far and are looking for a decent chance to get an invite, Kevin Rose (of G4TechTv's The Screen Savers) has organized a Gmail Invite Giveaway. Two of them, actually - one on Friday at 8pm ET and one on Tuesday at 7pm ET. Basically, he's got somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 invites to give away. Friday seems like the better shot, since Tuesday's will be held in tandem with an episode of TSS.


(Of course, I doubt it'll be quite so "secret" by Friday...)

"Political Season!" "Duck Season!"
September 4 2004 11:19 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

I've generally been apolitical on this site, and it's been pretty easy to do. I've spent most of this year caring (surprisingly) little about politics. It seemed like it's been something that everyone has been talking about, but I've still been a little apathetic. Which, honestly, is moderately surprising, granted that I was the 17-year-old trying to convince my 18-year-old classmates to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992 because I couldn't.

But, this week, I feel like I've been turned on my head. Seeing Zell Miller (who I, as a long-time Georgia resident, have never been a fan of) rant like an idiot at the RNC is part of it. Yet it's more than that: this week, I really started to notice how many people seem to be buying the Bush party line. It's like everyone's been brainwashed. Until this week, I think I honestly believed that people would look back over the last four years, realize how crappy things have been, and vote him out. But now I'm not so sure.

Maybe it's because I've spent the last year and a half exploring life outside the general American media, reading sites like Matthew Good's MBlog and watching news coverage on CNN International (as opposed to their US counterpart). The outside view of the US is vastly different than what we generally see, and the variance is frightening.

Four years ago, I was entirely convinced that Gore would win in a landslide. Now, I'm nearly convinced that we're bound for a second Bush term. I hope, for our sake, that I'm just as incorrect now as I was in 2000.

Man Size Wads
September 6 2004 12:35 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)


This cracked me up. I distinctly remember bugging my parents to buy Big League Chew when we were in Ogletree's or Eckerd's, and being elated the once or twice somebody gave it out as a party favor. I never quite got around to shoving the entire pack in my mouth, but I'm sure I thought about it. But grape only, none of that regular bubblegum reek. Nothing said cool like fake chewing tobacco.

Actually, my favorite gums of all time were Bubble Yum's "Wild Cherry" and Bubblicious' "Luscious Lime" (lemon/lime). Both were sadly discontinued before their time. I still have a couple of packs of Wild Cherry, but they just don't taste the same now that they're twelve years old. (Seriously, where do you find a pack of twenty-three-year-old Big League Chew? On second thought, maybe I don't wanna know.)

I'm an Unabashed Hypocrite
September 9 2004 01:49 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Okay, so the other day I ranted about GMail, esentially painting the picture that I had no interest in it and wouldn't worry about trying to score an Invite.

Enh. I scored one during that GMail Invite Giveaway. Yes, I'm a hypocrite. I think my curiosity got the best of me.

Strangely, as soon as I logged in, I came to the same conclusion as I had before: what's the big deal here? And then I felt like a chump for taking an invite that someone else could have scored.

With the domains I own, I have practically an unlimited number of email accounts at my disposal. And if you've ever emailed me, you know that I very rarely actually compose emails. (Far less often than I should.)

Anyway, if Google is dumb enough to send me Invites, I'll pass them along.

And if you feel like flooding the GMail account that I will probably never use, it's csblackb at gmail.

Random thought for the day:

After reading this post in Wil Wheaton's blog, I thought to myself: whatever happened to the name Grover? A hundred years ago, it was presidential. Now, it's a purple monster. It's hard to imagine someone naming their kid Grover.

Then again, it's hard to imagine someone naming their kid Espn.

Dubya Sings "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
September 10 2004 12:30 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)


Exactly what the title suggests. Somebody took a bunch of audio clips of President Bush and turned them into a cover of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday".

Desperate Days in Blue John Canyon
September 10 2004 10:45 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)


Just watched this Dateline NBC special. Remember the guy who got trapped in a canyon and had to cut off part of his arm to survive? Tom Brokaw accompanied him back to the cave where it happened.

I don't normally watch this stuff, but it was seriously good.

I think the part that struck me the most was that he actually tried to do the amputation several days before he actually did it. The impetus that it was finally time came only after he accidentally struck his thumb on the trapped hand and discovered that it was already decomposing.

After watching that show, it's even harder to believe that he was able to survive.

And even after going through such a horrible ordeal, he says that it completely transformed him in a positive way. It gave him total motivation for the rest of his life, even though it cost him his hand.

I watched that and couldn't help but think: you know, my life is so intrinsically vanilla, almost by design. It's hard not to occasionally wish for some kind of left-field motivation to carry me through to something else.

Okay, but just not motivation that involves intense pain and loss of limb. Yikes. I'll take a nice moderate redirection, thanks.

Music Outside My Bedroom
September 15 2004 01:44 AM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Something cool happened this past weekend. A friend of mine invited a whole bunch of fellow Ultimate players out to his house for an end-of-summer pool party. I thought I was going to be out of town at a tournament, but our plans were (finally and fortunately) cancelled on Friday, and I was glad to be able to make it.

Anyway, after a couple of afternoon Ultimate games, I headed over to his place for the festivities. The pool was surprisingly cool (but nice), I suppose because of the relatively mild weather we had last week. Rather than fire up the grill, he decided to pick up some barbecue from a place nearby, and it was awesome. Good food, good folks, good times.

9:30pm rolls around, and it seems like things are winding down. Suddenly, one of the host friend's brings out an acoustic guitar, and she "encourages" some performances. A second guitar appears a couple of minutes later, and somehow ends up in my hands. I start noodling (innocently, sans pick), and he inquires if I play. I respond in the affirmative, and he and I share the surprise that even though we played on the same team all summer, neither of us had any idea that the other one played guitar.

We set up two chairs and everyone sits around, nursing beers, etc. I start playing R.E.M.'s "Driver 8", he joins in, and it turns into a modest sing-along. Between the two of us and another of his friends, we end up spending about two and a half hours playing random covers. Some I know, many I don't. I even play along for songs like "Amie" and "Sweet Home Alabama". I did not know that I could play "Sweet Home Alabama", but it happens to only have three chords.

The night ends with the host performing a really cool version of "American Pie" (I try to follow, but there are way too many weird chord changes), and I take a stab at R.E.M.'s "So. Central Rain". He breaks a string, and we figure that's a good stopping place.

Seriously, I haven't played outside of my home in three years (with the exception of two songs at my cousin's wedding last October). And, good grief, this was fun. No pressure, no expectations, flubs a-plenty. The three of us were even able to pull off some cool three-part harmonies occasionally. (I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed harmonizing with other people, not just me and a couple of other tape versions of me.) And it seemed like everyone was enjoying it, too.

Thought: I need to learn more covers. The entire Nirvana catalog only comes in handy with a particular group of people.

Having a fun night of music like that has actually started pushing me to finish some stuff that's been lurking on my hard drive or on CD-R for months. Well, but I have to get past this 7-day / 60 hour work week that I'm now through day two of. Ugh, sleep.

GMail Invites
September 17 2004 09:41 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

ONE PER PERSON. Once you have one account, you'll be sent invites, where you can then invite yourself to add another.

And, please, make sure you're actually interested in using the thing before taking one of these. (Ie, don't do what I did.)

Just replace the first name / last name / secondary email address with your own.

Weekend at HarvestFest
September 21 2004 06:00 PM ET (Permalink) (Comment)

Had a uniquely interesting experience this past weekend.

One of the guys I play Ultimate with has his own catering business, and, every now and then, I help him out with events. It can be tough work, but we tend to have fun while getting it done.

This past weekend, he brought his operation (an old RV that's been converted into a fully-functioning kitchen) to the 2004 Blue Ridge HarvestFest, an annual three-day event that takes place up in north Georgia. I made the drive up on Saturday.

Admittedly, HarvestFest isn't something I would ordinarily do on my own. Most of the bands playing were bluegrass, groove, or jam-bands. Heck, the headliner was Ratdog, well-known for its links to the Grateful Dead. There wasn't a single band there that I even remotely wanted to see. But it honestly didn't matter.

I just loved the vibe of it all. Okay, granted, the attendees were the largely hippie / post-hippie types. (Yes, it appeared that there was a lot of herb smoked over the weekend.) But it was amazing how little security was needed. People left their vehicles unlocked with the windows down, and didn't need to worry about stuff getting stolen. People were just openly friendly; it didn't matter who you were. One guy even chastised me for not acknowledging his greeting, and wondered why I was so "focused". (In my sleep-deprived haze, I explained that I was just "out of it". He then asked me if I had any pot.)

People there for the full weekend generally camped out on the grounds. I've never seen such a sprawl of vans and campers in my life. While the main stage stopped about 1am, the other stages had music going as late as 5:00am. And people were out there dancing and enjoying themselves that late. (There seemed to be an informal contest about how little sleep people could get during the weekend. One of the Atlanta folks I knew had gotten five hours of sleep combined over two nights.)

I kept thinking to myself how much I'd like to see a festival like this featuring bands along my tastes. Then, it struck me: part of what made this festival work this well were the bands involved. Toss in "edgier" bands, and you get an "edgier" audience that might not be so friendly.

I was only there for a little over 24 hours, but I was surprised by how memorable it was. It's not something I'd do again on my own, but if I were asked to help out again, I think I'd take the opportunity.


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