This just in from the studio

For those of you so inclined, there’s a new podcast available today. Scary stuff: California real estate, grim grinning ghosts, and a little sympathy for the devil.

For methane, press 1

I was just wondering: the Europeans are known for taking leisure more seriously than the Americans, so what would happen if the Huygens probe phoned home only to find that they were all on holiday?

Listen to “Huygens Calls Home”

Merci d’appeler l’Agence européenne de l’espace. Choisissez svp du menu suivant.
(Thank you for calling the European Space Agency. Please choose from the following menu.)

Si vous avez débarqué sur une planète avec une atmosphère de méthane, la pression 1.
(If you have landed on a planet with a methane atmosphere, press 1.)

Si vous descendez lentement dans une mer de l’ammoniaque liquide, la pression 2.
(If you are slowly sinking into a sea of liquid ammonia, press 2.)

Si vos instruments indiquent la présence de la vie, svp la pression 3.
(If your instruments indicate the presence of life, please press 3.)

Si votre émetteur n’a pas la tonalité de contact, restez svp sur la ligne pour un opérateur d’cEsa.
(If your transmitter does not have touch tone, please stay on the line for an ESA operator.)

Je suis désolé. Tous nos opérateurs sont occupés. Transmettez svp encore plus tard.
(I’m sorry. All our operators are busy. Please transmit again later.)

Just as I Said: A Bad Day

Just As I Said audio entry. Click to listen.

An audio entry on being an accidental taker of a life, today on the way home.
(Transcript in the extended entry.)

At first, it was a blur of black that just appeared on the left hand side of my car. Less than a second later, it was the horrifying realization that I had hit it. It was a bird. I’m a little emotional about it, and I think a lot of people would immediately say, “well, it was just a bird.” That doesn’t work with me. To me, it’s an actual living, breathing creature. At least, it was.
I immediately felt a seizing in my chest and started crying, and as I drove, I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a shape on the road, knowing that I had put it there. And then I saw another car run over it. And I was filled with thoughts about, “did it suffer?” “What had I done?” “How quickly did it die?”
I don’t like this feeling of having taken a life. However accidental.
I’m a very compulsive driver. I drive very safely. I generally drive around the speed limit, I follow all the rules of the road compulsively; and I also stop whenever I see a squirrel running across the street, or slow down when a bird seems to be flying too low. This one just dove down in front of the car, and there was nothing I could do.
It doesn’t stop me from feeling really, really horrible.

For May 28, this is Just as I Said.

Just As I Said: Musings on Audblog

Just As I Said audio entry. Click to listen.

My first audio entry, in response to the burgeoning Audblog phenomenon.
(Transcript in the extended entry.)

TRANSCRIPT:

Never let it be said that I didn’t jump on whatever bandwagon rumbled by. Welcome to the first episode – and I use that term in the same sense as an episode of manic behavior as opposed to an episode of Meet the Press, although I can see where those two examples could be confused. Anyway, welcome to the first episode of Just As I Said, my take on the recent popularity of Audblog.

Audblog is a cool thing, in that it enables blog readers to connect a little more intimately with blog writers. The personal connection created by a human voice is definitely a strong one, and somehow, the Audblog entry seems to have greater weight than a written one, even if the entry is about something as mundane as going to the grocery store.
Now, I am always concerned, for no apparently good reason, about production values and the possibilities of such technology. Audblog is a service which allows you to make blog entries via telephone, which results in pretty low quality audio. Plus, horribly, they want you to pay. Well, since I have all these tools already at my disposal because I do some audio and video work freelance, I figured – why the hell not do a slightly more upscale version?
Easy enough. But like any media outlet, it’s easy to pick the right music and graphics, but not so easy to actually write something that makes it worthwhile.
Thus, I take a moment to salute so many of the bloggers that I have encountered through their words. Before I immersed myself into the web log world, I assumed that everyone was stupid, that America was filled with morons. Well, that may be, but at least there are also some extremely well-spoken writers out there, with vast vocabularies and the brains to use them. And many of them are well under 30. I’m impressed. And also a little disappointed in my own communication skills.
Ah, well. If I can’t write well, at least I can mix in some silly music to cover my shortcomings.
For May 18, 2003, this is Just As I Said.