Thursday, January 29, 2009

Things that are awesome!

Construction signs warn
of zombies
Hackers change public safety message

Last Edited: Thursday, 29 Jan 2009, 9:25 AM CST
Created On: Wednesday, 28 Jan 2009, 8:29 PM CST

Shannon Wolfson
AUSTIN (KXAN) - Austin drivers making their morning commute were in for a surprise when two road signs on a busy stretch of road were taken over by hackers. The signs near the intersection of Lamar and Martin Luther King boulevards usually warn drivers about upcoming construction, but Monday morning they warned of "zombies ahead."

"I thought it was pretty funny," said University of Texas sophomore Jane Shin, who saw the signs while driving down Lamar Bouelvard with friends Sunday night. "We wondered who did it."

The City of Austin does not own the signs, but they are responsible for the message. The contractor on the construction project owns the signs. A city spokesperson said the hacked messages were only up for a few hours, until the construction project manager saw them during his morning commute and immediately ordered them to be changed back.

"Even though this may seem amusing to a lot of people, this is really serious, and it is a crime," said Austin Public Works spokesperson Sara Hartley. "And you can be indicted for it, and we want to make sure our traffic on the roadways stays safe."

Hartley said though it was a locked sign, the padlock for it was cut. Signs such as these have a computer inside that is password-protected.

"And so they had to break in and hack into the computer to do it, so they were pretty determined," said Hartley.

This crime is a class C misdemeanor in Texas, and Hartley said it endangers the public.

"The big problem is public safety," said Hartley. "Those signs are out there to help our traffic on the roadway to stay safe and to know what's coming up."

KXAN Austin News cameras caught many drivers slowing down to read the signs as they approached. Some read, "Zombies ahead! Run for your lives!"

Hartley said the city will discuss more secure safety measures with the manufacturer of the signs.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

strange orleans

It started off innocently enough.
I got here Wednesday, and now Friday afternoon we're going to have a drink and then get dinner. We being K (my new boss) and her husband J. We've been working our asses off. Wednesday was a beer kind of night, Thursday was a margarita kind of night, and tonight? We start with wine. We meet up with three of their friends from where they used to work. The fun one (ie: gay) was Todd, a polite, well dressed man who looks like the love child of Bill Murray and Kevin Spacey. We have our drinks and chat and move on.
I'm told we're going to have dinner, and to get to this place Todd knows, we wander through the French Quarter. Past drunk tourists, and drunk locals, and bars with "hurricanes" and trash on the street and beads beads beads.
We meander our way to our destination and find it's a 45 minute wait. At 8:30pm, it's not time to wait, it's time to eat.
We find another restaurant and the four of us enjoy dinner plus two bottles of Pinot Noir. Todd loosens up, we tell stories about J's mom, about Todd visiting a local "clothing optional" country club. I pay attention to the conversation at about the point where he shouts across the restaurant, "Her c*n! was showing," he yells in this southern accent. "I could see her appendix!"
It's already his twentieth story of the night and he just keeps getting better, we all burst out laughing, this guy is funny.
Then, after dinner we leave and I'm told we're walking back to the car. We went straight from work so I still have my backpack with laptop and after day three, I'm kind of tired. We stop at a bar and Todd knows the guys standing outside and they chat for a minute. Todd knows everybody around here. He knew people at the last two restaurants.
We keep moving and I'm still believing we're going to the car, but I've had wine and I'm content to just follow along.
We walk, not to the car but into a gay bar and next thing I know someone is ordering drinks and we sit down. Twenty minutes here to yell stories and laugh and drink.
We depart, as we're "going to the car" and K makes me visit the restroom with her, she says the last time she went to the ladies room in a gay bar there were dudes doing coke off the sink.
The doors give us pause. One is labeled Adam. One is labeled Steve. The ST in steve is crossed out, and I yell "STEVE EVE! THIS IS THE ONE!" and we enter, do the thing, and we're washing hands when a guy walks in. I guess they're both unisex?
We leave the bar and wander the streets of the French Quarter following Todd. J makes some remark to me about this being some sort of weird gay tour of New Orleans. Indeed.
Todd, getting drunker by the minute, insists we have to stop one more place, The Corner Pocket. We go a few more blocks, past row after row of beautiful houses, going from the million dollar lavish, to the more run down and decayed. We stop in front of the Corner Pocket and the door opens and the first thing I see is a 400 pound man getting attention from a boy dressed only in his underwear. Turns out this bar has about 15 to 20 boys, all in their little undies or little boxer briefs. Tonight is the $100 stripper (though no clothes are being stripped) competition - the best wins the cash, plus all tips. The only chicks in this place besides me & K are two drag queens. I'm not entirely sure they count as chicks.
I get noticed from a few guys right away and my tall girl sense goes into overdrive. Do they think I'm cute or do they think I'm a dude? I start attempting to look more female. As if there's a way to do this.
I feel a pair of hands quickly scan my body and one rests below my hips, a tattooed Russian tells me, "Don't be so scared baby" and I'm spooked. I don't know who you are dude, but your hand is totally on my butt. Russian man moves on after I do not reply with any encouraging gestures. I'm told by Todd that he's not gay. And I said I don't care if he is, but his hand was on my butt and it was weird and wrong!"
I gape at the spectacle before me with my traveling companions. I haven't seen this much penis since... well. I'm don't know but it was a lot of penis. Dudes in underwear over here, over there, touching it, flipping them out, waving them around, moving, adjusting, peeking, playing. All pretty boys in underwear. Then the rest of the people are just normally dressed bar people, fondling the underwear boys, putting tips in the undies, touching, kissing, flirting.
Then this old dude comes in, he's like 112 - has a cane and shuffles to a chair. He orders a sprite and promptly has three boys willing to show him lots of attention for the greenbacks in his wallet. I watch the gyrating boy on the bar, working for his tips, hanging out his derriere, doing all sorts of stripper poses to earn his cash.
Todd grabs this coy boy as he knows everyone and is trying to convince him to do something, I'm behind K and J and can't quite see or hear what is going on. The boy has two blue star tattoos on his lower waist, and Todd is pulling on his underwear, and the boy is being shy. The boy slaps Todd's hands away and walks off.
Todd holds his hands up about a foot apart and mouths to us, " I swear it's this fucking big." We drink and continue watching the shenanigans and I remind myself to close my mouth, as I just keep staring open-mouthed at all the new things I was seeing in this little bar in New Orleans. A minute or so later, coy boy comes back and says something to Katie, and all of a sudden his manhood is right there, all out for us to see and it's like he pulled a damn wine bottle out his pants. Never have I seen something like this, and I just yell Holy Shit! and K and I each fling one arm out and grab Todd who promptly tips the boy well and teases and flirts with him a minute or two. I mean it wouldn't even fit in his underwear, it's like poking out the sides... just not normal!
J says he's glad the kid didn't come over and say "Low Five!" to which we found very funny. It was about this time that the old geezer was really getting a humping from his three boy companions and things went from spectacle to just a bit too creepy and we bailed on the underwear boy bar.
We are going to the car? No, we stop at Todd's place, he stumbles along complaining in his wonderful southern drawl about his new neighbors, "The asians it's like fuckin' hee haw, they hang out the laundry, they stole my chairs. I said you have to give them back and they said you no need dem, he said I don't give a shit they're mine give them back, so there's these three asians in this two room place sitting on the floor. They leave their shoes and shit outside, it's like fucking heehaw!" As he's going about his rant he gestures in turn to the laundry hanging in the courtyard, the shoes on the ground, the umbrella, the chairs.
We meet his love, his dog Ruby. She gleefully greets him with an eager licking on the lips that makes non-dog people (okay most people) cringe. He begins another story about this time he was naked on couch and it was raining. He says his dog just shakes when she needs to go out, "cause she's holding it so hard,"he says. So the dog starts quivering and he throws her (tosses her) down the stairs to poo. And she just lays there on the ground twitching. See, Ruby also has a seizure disorder and this time he couldn't tell the difference between the dog having to poo and having a seizure. He tells us he immediately runs out side and picks her up and holds her, and there's this naked man in the pouring monsoon rain holding a twitching dog. What a sight to see that must have been. He says, "because when she starts a-shaking it's either cause she has to poo or cause she's havin a seizure!"
We depart Todd's place, and I'm sure we're going to the car, but we end up at yet another bar, this one with a smattering of dollar bills stapled to the ceiling and multiple bras and undies hanging above the bar. Nothing can top this night, so as it's getting late we leave Todd here to fend for himself, and we head for home. My little brain can't take any more of this.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

10 reasons to have really good headphones

In no particular order:

1. Misguided Angel, The Cowboy Junkies
Because you can never have enough Margo Timmins.

2. Mining for Gold, The Cowboy Junkies.
This one minute and thirty one second song gives me goosebumps throughout. It sounds like Margo Timmins is in the room, voice soaring in smooth perfection. While you're at it, add the entire "Trinity Session" album. My #1 favorite.

3. Time to Say Goodbye, Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman
You can't beat the Italians.

4. The Greatest, Cat Power.
Something about her voice and song is so familiar, yet I can't place the familiarity. This song never gets old.

5. Teardrop, Massive Attack
Turn it on. Turn it up. Repeat. You're welcome.

6. The Blower's Daughter, Damien Rice.
I'm a sucker for beautifully clear vocals.

7. Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley,
So many delicate notes and little flickers of greatness that just can't be heard without great headphones.

8. Wise Up, Aimee Mann.
I can't entirely justify her on this list, but she's got this voice. You can't deny it.

9. Fade, Mazzy Star.
Almost a tie between "Fade" and "Flowers in December" but this one squeaked ahead. Beautiful song.

10. Everloving, Moby.
There's so much to this song that you can't hear unless you've got the perfect headphones. Rustling, pages turning, little tweaks and imperfections and subtle nuances in the notes, and silence. The sound of silence. Something about Moby makes me so content. Best when combined with a long drive across the desert. Moby's runner up? "The Sky is Broken."

11. Did you seriously think I'd stick to ten?
All Mine, Portishead.
Oh how this got me through a few delicious inappropriate moments in college. Yummy times, indeed.

I realize this list may be lacking, but with only 10 (okay, 11) what can you do? However, get a great pair of headphones, make your own playlist and blissfully float away.

You're welcome.

Oh, I'm also working on compiling a list of 100 reasons to love music. If I neglected it here, it will likely appear there