PAgent’s Progress

Words Are My Favorite Toys

September 16th, 2006

Record Store Cats

Funny stuff

September 16th, 2006

Music Video Madness

Man, this is really late this week. Mea culpa.

Last Thursday, on my bike commute home, I got completely drenched by a torrential rainstorm. This spectacular little downpour was the first substantial rain of the season, and marks the end of the warm dry summer, and the beginning of the gray and rainy fall. So, the choice of themes for this week’s MVM was obvious.

Eurythmics - Here Comes The Rain Again

Phil Collins - I wish it would rain down

with Eric Clapton!

Prince - Purple Rain

The Who - Love Reign O’er Me

Oooh, ‘Blame it on the Rain’ by Milli Vanilli nearly made the cut. Maybe next time.

September 14th, 2006


Blur is a company that has turned out some amazing animation and motion graphics. They have released some of my favorite CGI animations. If you want, you can find them on YouTube, but that would be a real disservice to the artists at Blur. You should really try to watch the Quicktime clips linked below.

Aunt Luisa

Aunt Luisa is a quirky lady that hears music playing all the time.

Watch Aunt Luisa

Gopher Broke

A hungry gopher will try almost anything to procure some tasty veggies.

Watch Gopher Broke

In The Rough

Man has evolved throughout the ages … Relationships, unfortunately, have not. After being kicked out of his cave, Brog discovers that living a bachelor’s life is not all that it’s cracked up to be.

Really funny stuff. Watch In the Rough.


This is one of the best CGI shorts I’ve ever seen, and is one of my favorites. Not just because it looks terrific (and it does) but because they did such a great job depicting the relationship between the characters, and displaying the technology without killing it with exposition. This is genuine science fiction.

Watch Rockfish

September 14th, 2006

A Bummer About Burley

Burley recently announced that they will be “ceasing production of all recumbent, tandem, road and touring bikes effective immediately”.

That sucks. Big Time.

Burley has always been an awesome company. Until recently, they were an employee-owned Co-op, which really made you feel good about buying their products. But what made you feel really good was the quality of their products.

We have had a Burley Piccolo trailercycle, a Burley bike trailer, and most recently, my beloved Burley Koosah recumbent. All have been incredibly well-designed, and well-built. I know that I am truly passionate about my Koosah. It rides more smoothly and more quietly than any bike I’ve ever had. And I’m not alone in that, Burley recumbents have a huge fanbase.

The good news is that Burley will be trying to honor the warranty on bicycles already sold. They have parts in stock, and may try to work with 3rd-party manufacturers if necessary. So hopefully I personally won’t get screwed. But I feel badly for all the folks that would have been able to get a quality long-wheelbase recumbent for less than $1,000, because those are going to be hard to find.

September 14th, 2006

I Shouldn’t Feel Guilty

I got back in the saddle again this morning (or in my case, back on my comfy recumbent seat) for my morning commute. Forecasts were for cool and showery, so I wore a shell. Of course, there was no rain, and I got a bit overheated. But if it starts raining this afternoon, I will be PREPARED.

I had a bit of excitement coming into downtown. As you come in on Barbur Boulevard, two lanes split off to the right to go down to Naito Parkway. The two left lanes continue on into downtown and become 4th Avenue. If you are a cyclist, you need to get across those two lanes in order to continue on Barbur.

The more aggressive bike commuters usually just take a lane and charge on over, crossing two lanes of traffic (see Path A below). And, if the traffic is clear and I have plenty of room, I will do the same. But if there’s traffic in those first two lanes, I won’t. Instead, I’ll go down to a crosswalk and wait for a break in the traffic to cross (see Path B below).

This morning as I approached the decision point, the traffic was pretty heavy so I opted for the crosswalk. I arrived there at the same time as a pedestrian who was walking to work. A car in the first lane stopped promptly. After a moment or two, a truck in the far lane braked heavily and came to a stop at the crosswalk. The car behind the truck also braked heavily and stopped. Unfortunately, the third car didn’t start braking in time.


The pedestrian and I started across the crosswalk, and he remarked to me “I was waiting for that to happen.”

And it’s a recipe for disaster, putting a crosswalk there. But looking back, I wouldn’t do anything differently than I did. If I was going to assign blame, I suppose the fact that traffic is routinely flying through there at 10-15 mph over the speed limit doesn’t help. But most importantly, nobody leaves enough distance between themselves and the car in front of them. If that third car had been following the ‘two-second rule’, I don’t think they would have had that fender-bender. Unfortunately, almost NO ONE in Portland follows the two-second rule.

And of course I can’t know for sure, but I’m willing to bet the driver of that third car doesn’t think the collision was their fault.

September 13th, 2006

How to Hack a Diebold Vote Machine

This isn’t funny. It’s actually more frightening than it is entertaining. But it is important that the public be aware of how easy it can be to compromise electronic voting machines.

Remember, in the last Presidential election, the discrepancy between exit poll numbers and recorded votes was unprecedented. “Polls in thirty states weren’t just off the mark — they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by their margin of error. In all but four states, the discrepancy favored President Bush.”

Oh, and the Chief Executive of Diebold is a fervant Republican who in 2003 was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” He has since resigned.

September 13th, 2006

“Standard contract please, Jacques”

If I had to use a portable computer, this is the one I would want.

September 12th, 2006

Gourmand Syndrome

Mom always told me I was dropped on my head as a child.

All these years I thought she was kidding.

September 12th, 2006


WARNING: The following post contains an excessive amount of gratuitous whining.

In stark contrast to yesterday’s entry, which concerned a weighty and serious topic that deserved all the respect I could give, today’s entry is just pretty much me ranting. Feel free to skip over it.

Item the first: Commitments and obligations have conspired to keep me from riding my bike to work for the next two days.

Item the second: I have reached a point in Halo-2 where (due to my own poor strategic planning, I’m sure) I am facing two Hunters armed with fuel rod cannons, whilst I have the game equivalent of a slingshot.

Item the third: As an experiment, I picked up a “European Farmhouse” breakfast at a new bakery downtown. The Farmhouse breakfast was supposed to include “a selection of fine cheeses, fresh fruit, and baguette”.

What I got was cheese slices pulled from the sandwich supples, NO fruit, and the baguette was an HERBED baguette, with some funky rosemary/chervil/thyme flavor that did not go at all well with the cheese.


September 11th, 2006

In Memoriam

I generally try to avoid posting on the obvious topics. Everybody is going to be posting on the anniversary of September 11th. It will be the topic of every blog, on every network, on every news program. The repetition of it will further deaden our memory and outrage. The event itself will be swamped by our ostentatious homage to the tragedy, and eventually all we will remember is the memory of the memory of the event.

It shouldn’t be like that.

Five years ago I got up to go to work, and heard something about a plane crash in New York. At that time I was taking light rail into downtown, so I was away from a radio during the train ride, but I got out at the Galleria and walked down to Bad Kitty coffee. The radio was on at Bad Kitty, and as I waited for my coffee the news was very bad indeed. The owner handed me my coffee and said something like “It sounds pretty bad.” Yes, it sounded very bad.

Like nearly all of us, I spent the morning looking at pictures from New York. Buildings were burning, buildings were collapsing. People were hysterically looking for loved ones. Dusty white firemen and police officers looked as if they’d been flocked like a Christmas tree. Millions of pieces of paper were fluttering down out of the smoke-filled sky.

It was like being hit in the stomach. You couldn’t avoid putting yourself in that building, and imagining what it would be like to try and get out. Or worse, to be one of the people trapped above the flames, and know there was no chance of rescue. The clips of people leaping to their deaths, choosing the long freefall to oblivion instead of being roasted alive, made it even more poignant, if such a thing was possible.

The Pentagon strike, which would have been the story of the decade on any other day, seemed almost an afterthought. And then we heard the news of Flight 93 being flown into the ground, and each of us put ourselves on that plane, and wondered if we would have the strength of will and the strength of character to do what those passengers did.

It was a horrific, horrific day. The events that occurred were shaped out of such monumental evil it was almost biblical. Even those of us that had serious misgivings about our nation’s foreign policy in the middle east were aghast. That anybody could contemplate such slaughter, let alone carry it out, strained our belief in a humanity capable of redemption.

It brought us together, all of us Americans. We listened to the national anthem, and it brought fresh tears to our eyes. We were humbled by the outpouring of sympathy from our allies, and even from those who used to be our fiercest enemies.

And what has happened since that darkest of dark days?

Everything has changed. We’re no longer the injured victim, we’re the bullying conqueror. We don’t have the sympathy of the world, we’re hated and feared. And worst of all, the tragedy of September 11th, one of the worst moments we have experienced as a country, has been politicized, wrapped in the flag, trotted across the stage, and used as an excuse so many times that it has largely ceased to have meaning, other than as a partisan talking point.

And perhaps of all the damage done by the Bush administration, at home and abroad, including the erosion of our constitutional rights, the abuse of our allies, and a single-minded crusade across Iraq that has cost us the lives of more Americans than the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers did, this is what angers me the most.

The lives lost on September 11th should ALWAYS be remembered with sadness, with sympathy, and yes, with anger. And they should be remembered as something almost sacred — an unwilling sacrifice, and a marker of the morning that Things Changed. We should never downplay the horror of the events of that day. We should never gloss over that reality by making it the subject of a movie of the week. And we should absolutely never, ever, use that dark day as some sort of political tool, dredged up to further an agenda, and then discarded when the public grows tired of it.

To those who lost their lives high over New York, or in the Pentagon, or trapped on United Flight 93, I promise that I will remember. And I will try to help my children remember. So that the impact of that evil act will not be lost.