At last, a good reason for me to buy a Blackberry. Do you ever find yourself desperately looking for a clean toilet in a strange city? With MizPee, your search just got a whole lot easier. Of course, this being Web 2.0, you may add and rate toilets as well.
WTF blanket - it's that commercial for that silly blanket with arms, now made cool.
Create your own original Star Trek adventure - based, apparantly, on stuff already in your garage.
How to make a rainbow cake
The Joy of Tech: unfollowing on Twitter [comic]
Best find of the week: Ode to Trader Joe's. Inspired, and totally true.
And for all you public employees ... Which sex positions are possible in zero gravity? NASA knows, baby. [SFW] Talk about fun with civil servants!
There was a ruling this morning, after all. The judge gave Arnold the right to order furloughs, stating that we're in an emergency situation, which gives the Governor more authority than normal.
I'm actually fine with the decision, and
happy content to do my small part to help staunch the bleeding.
Hope state workers will not be vilified as much, now that we're taking this hit.
Add two more things to our growing list of fun ingestibles that have been found to prevent Alzheimer's Disease.
In animal trials, UCLA researchers found that compounds known as polyphenols, which naturally occur in red wine, can inhibit the development of proteins that deposit in the brain and form the plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. [thx Maya]
Wenk's studies show that a low dosage in the morning of a certain cannabinoid, a component in marijuana, reversed memory loss in older rats' brains. In his study, an experimental group of old rats received a dosage, and a control group of rats did not.
Today state workers will get a judge's ruling as to whether the Governor has the authority to order furloughs.
Ha-ha! That was hard to say with a straight face. No, seriously, we don't expect an actual ruling today. That's crazy talk. We expect further delays while the union negotiates our contracts, appeals are filed, and the whole mess goes to arbitration. All of which might induce Arnold to lay off employees instead, which he does have authority to do.
I've got to hand it to the Sac Bee for their interpretation of what we're going through.
Yes, state workers realize the budget is a mess. Yes, they know that people in the private sector are losing their jobs. Yes, they sense that public opinion has turned on them, OK? They get it.
But they didn't sign on for this: Executive management that has led the business to the brink of insolvency. Contract talks that have dragged on for months. Managers who can't say what the work schedule looks like for next month.
And there's this: A pervasive sense that no matter what state workers sacrifice, it won't be enough to satisfy anyone.
The governor's furlough plan would spackle about 3 percent of the state's gaping $40 billion budget hole for this fiscal year and next.
Still, state workers such as Kendall Koller have come around to accepting the idea, since Schwarzenegger could decide to use his unquestioned authority to lay off workers if he can't furlough them.
"We feel betrayed (again) by the governor … but we would rather take a pay cut than see co-workers and friends sent packing into the turbulent, and honestly, scary world of the unemployed," Koller said in a recent e-mail about the mood where he works.
I like the use of the word 'spackle'. We don't hear that word much, do we? Try and use it today in a sentence.
Sometimes blog fodder just falls from the sky.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- A medical ailment that has worried male members of string sections across the music world for over 30 years has been exposed as a hoax.
This ailment has been known about for 30 years? I'd never even heard of it. And male cellists of my acquaintence never mentioned - er, problems, so I had no way of knowing there might be something abrasive about playing cello.
Male cellists of the world can breathe easy again.
A senior British lawmaker confessed to making up the condition known as "cello scrotum" -- which relates to chafing from the instrument -- after reading about another musically-related ailment called "guitarist's nipple" in the British Medical Journal in 1974.
Oh, okay, it's a hoax. What cracks me up is a medical study that went unchallenged for 30 years. I mean, doctor bad! very bad! But part of me is snickering.
For my out of state readers (which is most of you), let me catch you up on the situation we're facing in California: a 9 percent salary reduction for state employees using involuntary furloughs. Will we beancounters be locked out every other Friday starting February 6, or will we not?
Nobody knows. Nobody has a single clue. Really.
Last fall, I briefly blogged about Arnold's proposal to pay state workers the minimum wage. The State Controller put his foot down and said he would not change the payroll computers to accommodate such an ill thought-out request. The exact same scenario arises in the face of furloughs. The State Controller says the governor is not allowed to dictate salary for unionized workers; therefore the SCO won't produce such paychecks. I'm not going to weigh in on the legality; that's for the court. But as a practical matter, it's hard to reduce people's pay when the guy who cuts the paychecks isn't playing ball.
Here's a partial list of agencies that would be exempt: Legislative staff offices, State Board of Equalization, Secretary of State, and anybody in Bargaining Unit 5 (particularly the Highway Patrol). SEIU has gone on record as saying that if one bargaining unit doesn't have to accept the salary cut, that should go for the rest of them.
This is just one fight out of many going on here in Sacramento. The thing is, the state is $40 billion in the hole, and nobody has a solution with enough traction to work. Furloughs would have saved a sizable portion but I doubt they'll ultimately be enforced, so we're still looking at the whole $40B. No one knows how to stop our budget's bleeding, much less repair the wound. Consequently our credit is terrible and nobody will lend us money to keep us liquid. California could well be the first state ever to go bankrupt. I know we're a state that prides itself on leading the nation, but this is crazy.
Heck! Throw in a bagel and the funny pages and we'll be reversing Alzheimer's at my breakfast table.
It's Saturday, so you have plenty of time to play with the latest version of Grow. It seems we're building a tower this time, blogfolk. Enjoy!
Also, I hope you're not tired of photographs of the inauguration, because I'm about to present you with The Mutha Of All Inauguration Photos. It's 2 gigabytes, and detailed enough that you can zoom in to see Yo-Yo Ma stealing a pic with his cell phone.
New year, new President. Will this all end in tears? Be the first to know! The St. Petersberg Times has pledged to keep track of all campaign promises kept or broken with the Obameter.
The ___ card lets you create your own card design with that cool hole-punched look, then order cards for snail-mail delivery.
SNL: Aladdin, ten years later [video]
Damned hippie name generator - just call me Peace Hearth. Groovy.
Says it - the mother ship of sign generators!
Just signed up with Plinky, a social platform that asks you very inane questions like "which cheese do you like?" or "which 3 songs would be on your mix CD?" You answer them, and then later other people weigh in. They read, rate, pan and/or favorite you. It's a little like being a guest on an AM radio talk show. (Go ask your parents.)
BBC News - People who are more laid back are less likely to develop dementia in old age, a study has suggested.
Research published in the journal Neurology asked 500 healthy elderly people to fill out questionnaires about their personalities.
Those who were calm and relaxed had a 50% lower risk of developing dementia during the six years of the study.
When I read that laid back people are less likely to develop senior dementia, my first thought was:
a) 'Wait - wasn't there a U.S.study recently that said that coffee wards off dementia? How am I supposed to keep calm through a daily caffeine rush? Hmm? Hmm?'
b) 'I missed that coffee study. I drink tea, not coffee. Why isn't tea mentioned? Typical! Anti-tea bias!'
c) 'I find that non-stop web-surfing keeps me calm, so this study is really good news. Now I'm off to read the comics.'
We watched (and partially fast-forwarded through) the whole inauguration last night. Especially loved Joe Biden's exuberance after being sworn into office. We pictured him saying, "Well, that's it! Thanks for coming, folks! Snacks and lemonade in the rotunda! Follow me - oh, wait, sorry, I forgot about Barack's thing. Back to your seats, everybody."
My coworkers gathered in our largest office to watch the oath of office and that excellent speech. At some point, I shocked myself by starting to cry. Luckily I was standing in the back of the room near the breakfast cart, so I pretended I'd just burned myself on hot coffee. :-) Okay, no, not really. It's the day for happy tears.
@scalzi: "mmm... I just love that new president smell."
Sinister news: Obama is this country's eighth left-handed president.
OK, back to work now.
Happy inauguration day! I know many of you have taken the day off work to watch the celebrations. Believe me, if I had any vacation time, I'd do the same. Luckily, my office has a TV, a cable box and a benevolent supervisor, so I know we'll all stop and watch the swearing in and the inaugural address.
While we're waiting for high noon (EDT), let's generate our own speech and see how ours wind up faring against Obama's, shall we? I'll start:
I think my best line was the one about a sasquatch muscle car. Yes, it's a new day for fictional concept automobiles.
It's Saturday, so you have plenty of time to take the big landscape photos languishing on your hard drive and turn them into clever-looking miniatures, using tilt shift focus manipulating techniques. I've seen this trick online but I just learned there's a tilt-shift photography generator you can use. Go here. Follow the directions. Be amazed!
This is a picture of Marin Headlands, north of San Francisco, January 2007.
Same photo, tilt-shifted.
Okay, I'd heard about this video, and I wasn't prepared to like it, but it turned out the animation was hai-sterical, so now I do like it, and you will probably like it too, and whatever: Star Wars Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it).
Tickle Me Freud - You know you want him. You're just repressing it.
And for BB and Anthony, Elemental Voice Hi-Fi Products. These are parodies of audiophile components, boys, so credit cards baaaaack in your wallets, please.
Daisy, my UK friend, sent along the inaugural luncheon menu and suggested we make some of the courses and post them on Flickr. It's a great idea, except I'm no foodie. Dinners at our house consist of three items, heated if necessary in their own pots and pans, and then placed on one dinner plate, far enough apart that they can't touch each other. When I read that the recipe for Seafood Stew calls for poaching lots and lots and lots of fish, I got light-headed and had to put my head down. In our kitchen, all our fish comes prepared in advance by a famous chef. I doubt she'd approve of the poach technique for her boxes of frozen, breaded cod squares. But it's a cool idea in theory, replicating some of these recipes. Just putting it out there.
Dick Cheney's job here on Earth will end next week, but his savage reign in the Underworld is about to begin. Play Comedy Central's new game and help our soon to be former VP take over Hell. There are cheats, of course - what else? And turn up your speakers - the soundtrack is the best part.
Everybody seems to have heard - even my father, in West Virginia - that the State of California is on the verge of forcing its state employees to take a 2-day per month furlough, starting in early February.
Now that we're near the day, most of us are trying to look at the bright side. What I've been hearing from most of my fellow workers is that this will be challenging for them financially, but better than the prospect of layoffs. Some lower their voices when they remark that two additional days off a month will actually come in handy, even if the days are unpaid. Provided this is all temporary.
Here at Dream Job, we'd very much like to be able to keep our little office open on those Fridays. We're hoping to be allowed to take "self-directed" furlough, which means we could stagger our furlough days to enable there to be office coverage every day, with no break in services. Unless the plan is also to shut off heat and power in Sacramento buildings to conserve energy, we can't imagine Dept. of Personnel Administration would mind.
BB's agency gets its funding primarily from the fed, so his managers are hoping for some kind of exemption to the state furlough. Or self-directed furlough days. As you can tell, there are many variables left to determine.