There are way too many rant pages on the Internet!
But of course, I wouldn't be able to rant about that unless I had my own. Consider it a sinkhole for my anger.
And since I can't be bitter all the time, I'll pepper these pages with a few odd things I notice in life, too.
Biased Observations and Obligatory Rants
A Presentation of The Big Waste of Space Wanna see more?
May 2001 Previous Rants:  
May 31
I know I'm not the only one in the world bothered by what I'm getting ready to complain about, but I'll admit most people reading this will probably have no idea what I'm talking about. Nevertheless, it's something I see on TV and in the movies all the time and it bugs the hell out of me.

Despite the fact that it never takes any character more than 4 seconds to pick a lock, what really amazes me is that he does it without using the right tools. Take a look at these. The item on the top is a lock pick (specifically, a rake pick), which you will most likely recognize from various movies. The item on the bottom is called a tension wrench, which you probably won't. In order to pick a lock, you need one of each.

Let me explain. When you unlock a door, you do two things. One, you stick in the key. Two, you turn the key. When you insert it, the teeth of the key align pins inside the lock called tumblers, which must be pushed aside at different lengths. When they are aligned properly, they allow the lock to be turned, pulling the bolt out of the way and letting the door open. (There are, of course, different types of locks and different types of keys to go with them, but the basic idea is usually the same.)

When you pick a lock, you do the same thing you would with a key, only manually. You align the tumblers and turn the lock, opening the door. You use the pick to align the tumblers and the tension wrench to hold the tumblers in place once you align them and to turn the lock when you're done.

Nine times out of ten, however, what I see on the screen is someone using two lock picks and no tension wrench. The actor digs around inside the lock with both picks, usually pretty clumsily, then either the character pulls out the tools and simply opens the door, never having turned the lock, or the door just magically comes ajar.

Now, even if you don't understand the details of what goes on while picking a lock, you know that a locked door doesn't open without turning the lock. Picking the tumblers without turning the cylinder is equivalent to sticking in a key, pulling it out again and expecting the door to come open.

The funny thing, though, is that witnessing this obscure atrocity of espionage ignorance bothers me even more than seeing an actor jump in a car and drive away without starting it, releasing the brake or putting it in gear.

May 29
I'm probably going to offend a lot of people with this one, especially with all the Memorial Day/Pearl Harbor fervor, but...what the hell.

The Purple Heart is a medal I just don't get. Don't infer any disrespect here to our men in uniform. I have a great deal of respect for those who fight for my country. I'm just not sure I understand giving a special award for getting hurt.

The Purple Heart is given to those who are injured exactly what a soldier is trained not to do. But, I always hear it referred to as an esteemed honor. End up in the wrong place at the wrong's a medal!

"How disrespectful! It commemorates those who were willing to risk their lives to preserve our freedom," I can hear many of you contesting. Well, when you join the armed forces, doesn't that pretty much go without saying? If that's what the medal is for, shouldn't the entire military get one?

To be fair, the Purple Heart is also awarded posthumously to the families of those killed in battle, which I consider an appropriate and considerate gesture. But, I don't see the sense in bestowing a special honor on a man for getting shot in the butt when the guy next to him could have easily done the same thing.

May 15
So, I'm sure you're wondering why the hell I've been neglecting this area of my site. Well, I've got a perfectly good explanation. Computers suck.

I've been, over the last several weeks, reorganizing both of my computers and upgrading their operating systems. I had removed most of my daily work from Fat Man and had it nicely organized on Little Boy, ready to be burned to CD. (If you're confused about the computer names, read up on your nuclear history...or nucular history as we say here in Texas.)

Now, normally, I'm pretty careful about keeping things backed up. But, before I could implement a proper back-up procedure on the newly revamped systems, Murphy took advantage of his opportunity. The most important of my three hard drives reenacted the Battle of Little Bighorn and played the part of General Custer.

After sufficient banging of the forehead and screaming at all things that ran on electricity, I took the deceased storage unit to a data-recovery facility. I left the drive with the technical wizards behind the counter, along with a quick prayer and the standard evaluation fee.

It took them no less than half an hour to call me back with the news that the drive had offed itself in the most gruesome fashion. It took up a cannibalistic diet by cutting grooves into its own platters. There was no hope of recovery.

And to add insult to injury, it cost me $108 nonrefundable to find that out.

Luckily, The Big Waste of Space was the one item that was fully backed up. As for everything else...well, that's why you haven't heard from me in a while.

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