Do well and let them say Gordon

Coat of Arms of Clan Gordon

Coat of Arms of Clan Gordon

Coat of Arms of the Meldrum Sept

Coat of Arms of the Meldrum Sept

For those of you that don't know, I've got a fair bit of Scotch coursing through my veins; that's ancestry, not whisky. I derive my Scottish ancestry from my father's mother, who was of Meldrum decent. Having some free time recently, I decided to pick the Internet's electronic scow of a brain to see if I couldn't find out a little about my Scottish heritage.

It turns out that the Meldrums are a sept of Clan Gordon, which goes on to mean that I am a member of Clan Gordon. Having looked around a bit, I have succeeded in identifying the coat of arms for Clan Gordon (left), the coat of arms for the Meldrum Sept (right) and Clan Gordon's tartan (the post background is the ancient variant of the tartan).

Those of you who know me know that the next thing that I would do is determine whether the Meldrums or the Gordons were associated with any particular distillery. The Gordon's are loosely associated with The Speyside single malt whisky and strongly associated with the liquer Cock O' The North. I have had The Speyside before and as far as good Scotches go, it's pretty mediocre. Cock O' The North seemed interesting enough to me that I decided to get some shipped across the pond to me so as I could give it a try. The liquer is a mixture of The Speyside, Blaeberry (closely related to blueberry) and a secret ingredient (known to the head of Clan Gordon and his eldest son). Having recently received my order of Cock O' The North, I can tell you this: it is fantastic. The liquer is unbelievably smooth considering its potency, fairly sweet and has a very delicate, pleasant bouquet of flavors. Cock O' The North is really fantastic, the first sip I had was just wow and every time I have a sip; I'm sure, without contest, that it is the best alcoholic beverage I have ever had. Fancy that, geneological investigations lead me to an incredible liquer.

Oh yeah, sorry about the legibility on this one; I tried pretty hard but I couldn't find a font color that worked over this background.

I quit, eventually

Earlier today (technically yesterday) I informed my boss that I will be leaving Innov-X Systems at the end of the month. I was expecting it to be rather unpleasant but in reality that was all my fear of certain types of confrontation (that's gotten me into some trouble in the past). My boss was really cool and understanding about the whole thing; he's a good guy in general really. In fact, the whole company is full of really good people and for that matter it will be a little sad to leave. I have been fortunate to have a pleasant, if short tenure in my first, and likely last, corporate engineering position. Oh well, such is the path I have chosen to tread. Soon it will be off for a brief term of unemployment followed by the road to a law degree and the "Esquire" post-nominal.

The Pirate Party of the United States

Pirate Party of the United States Logo The Pirate Party of the United States is a newly formed political party that is derivative of Sweden's Piratpartiet. Extracted from their website, their platform is as follows:

"The Pirate Party is a newly formed worldwide political party with a chapter in the U.S.. We want to fundamentally reform copyright law, overhaul the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected. With this agenda, and only this, we are making a bid for representation in anywhere we can get elected."

Seeing as they stand for the same things that I stand for and their platform and agendas do a good job of addressing the big issues that concern me, I think that I might finally have found a reason to stop being a registered independant. Also, what could be cooler than to be a registered pirate?

Blowouts and Extended Warranties

I had a rather terrifying experience last Friday; I was on my way down to Woods Hole, chugging along in the left lane, minding my own business when, all of the sudden, something was very amiss. It took but a few moments for me to realize that one of my tires had gone so I made my way to the right side of the road. So, there I was, in the right half of the right lane of I-93S, on a bridge with no shoulder. I popped on my hazzards and figured that it was high time to investigate the damage and get my spare on. It wasn't until a few moments after I'd gotten out to investigate that it struck me that I was standing in the middle of the right lane of I-93S with cars within 5-10 feet going by at 70+MPH. The moment that realization struck me i called 911 and climbed through my trunk to sit in the front seat with my seatbelt decidedly on. There I remained, on the edge of a bridge, dead still, on the highway, watching my side view mirror as vehicle after vehicle narrowly missed ramming me off into oblivion. Eventually, after a number of terrifying minutes, days, weeks, eternities, ar however long it was, a state trooper arrived and told me to sit in my car and wait for a tow truck. Fter a few moments of sitting through the same sort of terror that I had endured waiting for his arrival, the trooper decided that he did not want to throw away his life waiting for a tow truck and instructed me to drive, in spite of a completely shredded tire, to the next exit. At a speed of about 5-10MPH, I inched my way off the highway and into a nearby parking lot where the recently arrived tow truck helped me get my spare on safely (hooray for full-sized spares). With my life intact, I was able to proceed onwards and Cape-wards, eventually arriving in Woods Hole.

Displeased that one of my tires had spontaneously given way and plunged me into such a terrifying ordeal, Monday morning, I set out for the Sears Auto Center where I bought the tires less than half a year ago. I wandered in, explained that one of my tires had violently given up on me and that I wanted to get it replaced, which earned me the information that if I had Road Hazzard coverage for the tires, it would be a free replacement but, if not, I would, essentially, be S.O.L.. Well, as it turns out, in a move totally uncharacteristic of mmyself, I had spent the extra $7 per tire to get Road Hazzard coverage. Low and behold, an extended warranty was going to save me ~$100, that's almost unheard of; usually you spend $10-$20 for an extended warranty and the thing you buy lasts twice that long and then dies on you. So, I dropped the wheel and shredded tire off (luckily the rim was essentially intact) and made my way to work. I returned to the Sears Auto Center on my way home, picked up the new tire, paid $7 to renew the Road Hazzard coverage and was on my way. The service and the savings in this matter alone have pretty much sold me on going to Sears for all of my tire needs in the future; I'll still leave fancier work to my own machinations or less fast-food-esque mechanics, but for tires, Sears has a satisfied customer.

I don't think I have the right views on global warming

I recently came across the trailer for Al Gore's new movie about global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, so I figured that I might as well watch it and see what's up. The trailer on it's own has completely changed my views on global warming but probably not for the better. There was one particular scene where they were showing what would happen to various coastlines if the South Pole melted causing sea level to rise twenty feet and I had the instant thought that when ("if" if you want to be an optimist) global warming really kicks in, I'll have to get a bigger boat. Seriously, if there's apocalyptic flooding, I'll just pull a Kevin Costner in Waterworld, except without the gills, nautical inaccuaracies or that whole pariah thing.

Somehow, I think the point was to get me to be scared and start fighting against global warming not get me to think about boats. Oops.

Dvorakification

This just in from the because why not department, I'm converting my keyboards to and teaching myself to use the Dvorak keyboard layout. Supposedly Dvorak is faster and loss likely to cause carpal tunnel but I'm not trying it for those reasons; I'm trying Dvorak because it fits into my ongoing policy of cultivating eccentricities quite well.

So far, it's mostly just annoying not knowing how to type anymore but, even so, I'm starting to get the hang of some of the vowels and more commonly used keys. Aside from my eccentricity goals, I'm inclined to believe that there might just be something to this crazy layout. That said, I do have one big complaint already, I can't use a mouse with my right hamd and press Ctrl-X/C/V with my left hand on its home row.

A Maturing Party Style

I attended a few parties thrown by some MIT-folk this weekend and I've come to two conclusions; I now understand dinner parties and I'm getting old. At 3:30a Sunday, when I left a house-warming party, of sorts, that began around 10p Saturday, I found myself thinking that I'd had rather a good time but it would have been nice if it started closer to 7p or 8p and I'd left closer to 11p or 12a so as to let me get to sleep earlier. Get to sleep earlier?! I've always prided myself on my nocturnal nature and my desire to stay up late socializing and here I am wanting to go to sleep earlier! Now, the obvious reason for this is that I'm chronically under-sleeping these days and having to regularly wake up early. Of course, I don't like obvious reasons, so instead I'll go with having been in similar situations before and not wanted to go to sleep earlier so I can only assume that I'm, in some ways, growing up, which, incidentally, is lamer than Thor's goat. I did manage to get past the non-functional leg aspects of things and think about parties from a more practical standpoint, in which it occured to me that it would have been quite nice if such a party started around 5p or 6p involved cocktails, a meal and more cocktails; wait, that sounds an awful lot like a dinner party now doesn't it.

The obvious thing that I, or you for that matter, can take from this is that someday in my (or your) life, dinner and cocktail parties should be run in the vein of college parties. Of course, I must add a caveat here; namely, if you like those despicable binge drink-a-thons where they serve endless supplies of terrible beer and plastic bottle liquor, don't run cocktail parties like your college parties. Actually, I guess what I'm really saying is that the parties I've attended recently remind me more of the idea of a cocktail party than of a stereotypical college party and I think that's a good thing.

My Magic Scooter

Ok kiddies, random bizarro dream time:

<dream>I spent an awful lot of time riding around on my magic scooter. I remember being in Cambridge mostly, riding from place to place, visiting with various friends and having a jolly good time. The portion that I recall most vividly was riding along the Fresh Pond Parkway from Memorial Drive to Route 2. I remember stopping at the light where the Fresh Pond Parkway crosses Huron Avenue and passing a truck to be the first one to the halfway point of the intersection. Of course, the details really aren't very important, the point is I had a scooter and I was having a jolly good time riding around on it.

Now, my scooter was in no way an ordinary scooter, it was a magical scooter (possibly in a Clarke's third law sense). To explain how the scooter was special, I want you to start by thinking about a generic scooter, like a Vespa or such, that's pretty much how my magic scooter worked. Now, despite working a lot like any other scooter, my magic scooter was more like a pair of shoes than an ordinary scooter; basically, I just had to stand with my feet in a line, one in front of the other, sit down a bit, grasp imaginary handle bars and go. My scooter was magic in so far as it wasn't even there.</dream>

I know it's not all that interesting a story but think about it from the conceptual level; how awesome would it be to have a scooter built into your shoes. I wonder if someone could manufacture such an interface; boots with pop out wheels and tiny motors with wireless connections to special control gloves.

Let's get a clonin'

At this point, cloning science is starting to get to the point where we can do some pretty solid stuff. There have been issues as far as cloned animals have decresed life spans but I don't much consider that a big issue, we only need them to be around long enough to breed. If we can clone one generation and get it to breed a subsequent generation then that species is back and we're good to go. This approach wouldn't work too well for wild species as there'd be no good way to introduce them into the wild in sufficient numbers to survive but I figure there're plenty of extinct animals that'd do mighty well in captivity. I'm sure that I could come up with others, given a bit of time, but here's a short list of a few animals that I think we should clone back into existence and why:

Dodo Birds: The dodo strikes me as an excellent alternative to chicken. The fact that they were dumb enough to stand around and get killed off by sailor means that they're probably dumb enough to be raised just the same as chickens. Additionally, they're larger than chickens--more turkey sized--and thus able to provide more meat. What is comes down to, really, is that I've seen stuffed dodos in museums and I think that the things look like they'd be mighty tasty.

Wooly Mammoths: Ok, elephants are totally awesome; they're giant, intelligent, hulks, capable of exerting incredible amounts of force and performing tons of work. Mammoths have pretty much all the advantages of elephants but they're also mighty cold tolerant creatures because of that whole ice age thing. So basically, what I'm talking about here is having elephants that you could ride around on in the winter. How awesome would it be to spend a weekend in New Hampshire, camping and riding mammoths around. The mammoths could carry enough stuff to live in total luxury and you could build a shelter on their back so that you could be out in harsher weather. I'm imagining having a mammoth gang and riding around the midwest and Canada, kind of like the Hell's Angels, but with mammoths.

Pygmy Mammoths and Dwarf Elephants: Ok, having established that elephant like things are pretty keen, we should remember to bring back the varieties that were in the 4-8 foot tall range. Don't get me wrong, I love dogs; dogs are great, but wouldn't it be pretty damned sweet to have a little elephant too. I don't know what I'd do with one, ride it around, just play with it, I don't know but I think they'd make totally sweet pets.

Dire Wolves: You might be wondering why in the heck, I'd want dire wolves around again and the answer is that I don't. Why is it on this list, then? Simple, I want to infuse dire wolf genetic material into the modern canine gene pool. I'm really just talking about getting some very large canine breeding stock. Oh man, imagine breeding them with huskies and getting five foot tall sled dogs. Actually, this could probably be accomplished by breeding Timber Wolves with dogs; maybe we should just forgo the cloning and do that.

Elephant Birds: Gigantic flightless birds and I do mean gigantic, sometimes >10 feet tall and >½ ton. I don't really have any good reason or domesticable use for elephant birds so let's just go with because I think they're neat besides people could use them for whatever people use ostriches and emus for.

A discussion of cloning extinct animals because they're awesome wouldn't be complete without mention of dinosaurs so I'll just say that I agree with Jurassic Park; they are too unmanageable for zoos right now.