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Upgrading to Ubuntu 11.04 "Natty Narwhal": You Don't Have to Use Unity

With all the noise surrounding Ubuntu's new (and evidently very crashy) "Unity" UI, I was concerned that I might get trapped in an upgrade, my beloved no-frills Metacity-based desktop taken away from me. I removed Compiz quite some time ago, as I haven't felt a need for any of the typical 3D-desktop frills (not to mention instability and bizarre bugs, like the IBM implementation of Java Swing being incompatible with Compiz).

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Don't Overlook Your Hometown: Great Things to Do in the Chesapeake Bay Region

A while back, I came across a great list in Chesapeake Life called 25 (Chesapeake) Things To Do Before You Die. I've done quite a few of the things on the list, and there's a few more I'd like to try (Southern Maryland stuffed ham doesn't seem to get up to Baltimore much). Realizing how much time I've spent thinking about the rest of the world, I thought I would add a few annotations for my own hometown.

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Food Safety on the Road

The usual disclaimer: None of this applies if you have food allergies. And this is not meant as medical advice: I am not a medical professional, and all opinions here are a product of my own experience and research.

I've only had food poisoning once, and it was from a sleek, tourist-oriented restaurant in Singapore's Little India. The following night, I went to a 24-hour Indian place where was served out of a buffet table by a surly, mustachioed fellow in an undershirt -- and I was fine.

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At Gainax, Every Story Has an Inverse (Part 1: Mahoromatic and He is My Master)

It's hard to overstate Gainax's influence on the Japanese animation industry. Contrarily, though, Gainax's works are often highly derivative (in the best sense of the word), taking tropes, ideas, and animation methods pioneered by others and combining them in new ways to create staggeringly original works. Evangelion isn't just a giant robot anime; neither is FLCL or Gurren Lagann, for that matter. And Mahoromatic turns the magical-girlfriend genre on its head.

But there's something else going on at Gainax, intentional or not. Many of their most notable works -- those with the strongest thematic impetus -- have been succeeded later by another series that seems its thematic inverse. There's two sides to every story; sometimes, Gainax has animated both of them. This article series will examine some of their classic stories in light of this idea.

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What's in My Round-the-World Travel Bag? (Part 10 -- The Ejection Seat)

Let's face it: if you're reading this blog, you're probably from a developed nation. Odds are pretty good that you're American, even. And America is a pretty safe place to live. Sure, there's crime and car accidents in the cities, and the usual dangers when out in the wilderness -- but when was the last time you were bit by a mosquito in America, and were worried about contracting dengue fever or malaria? When was the last time that a government collapsed in the US? If you need a blood transfusion, or intensive care, is there a hospital nearby that can handle you? If you're out hiking, does the country have search-and-rescue teams?

It's not good to spread too much fear on this subject, as most countries these days have basic medical infrastructure, but there's lots of possible outcomes where you'll need help to get out of a bad situation quickly. There's no point in taking unnecessary risks, just because the same services may not be available to locals.

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