Friday, April 22, 2005

It's not a game,it's TV (c) 2005, CBS

I have enjoyed Survivor over the years. At first, I was uninterested and Lori watched the first episode alone on the couch. I would come in and out of the room doing other stuff while the episode was on. She spent the entire next episode answering questions like "Who's that again?" "So what happened last week?"

She still regularly has to answer questions like "Who's that again?" and "Who got voted off last week?" (or worse "last night?") because I'm too lazy to keep track of all those people. Poor girl now also has to answer questions like "Who got eliminated last week?" and "Who's still in the race?" as well.

Anyhow, last night we witnessed the most awesomely bad attempt to dictate this round of Survivor by Jeff Probst and Co. Now I've always thought Jeff Probst was a weenie from when he was back on BackChat. Me and Kevin would write in daily pestering them to get reruns of Dukes of Hazard back when FX was just a re-run house. And he'd regularly read the requests on air and mock them. He was snarky and a dork. Leaving his wife and then later hooking up with a lame duck Survivor contestant did none to help me retrack my opinion that he was a weenie in khaki.

But I've gotten the sense this season that it's been edited to make us really root for Stephanie. She's worked hard on a suck of a team to the point that she was the last one standing after they kept going to tribal council week after week after week. And even last night with team challenges, she ended up on the losing team, but again, according to the editing, only barely losing. One's gotta start wondering if maybe she's the curse.

Well, anyhow, it's not hard to tell she's this year's darling, this year's star. Every chance they get, they show her making some face in response to someone else's comments.

And at last night's tribal council, the show runners pulled off something pretty amazing. I wanted to give Mark Burnett all the credit, but Lori pointed out that it's Jeff who did all the heavy lifting. Basically, they knew going into tribal council that Stephanie would be going home this week. So in the least sly, most obvious why, they engineered it so that Janu would quit the game, thus sparing Stephanie for another week.

In the preview of next week's episode, it looks like a cameraman has pointed out to the women that there were four of them and only three guys.

Help the Homeless

I don't know why no one thought of this before...

If you're homeless, you have no mailing address at which to get a summons.
If you're homeless, you don't make any money, except what you can beg for at an off-ramp.

I hate jury duty. The pay for the day is less than I charge someone per hour. However, it might be more than most homeless people make.

So why not send the homeless people to jury duty?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

That's it... I'm going off the grid.

LexisNexis wrote to me today to tell me that they were giving out passwords to criminals who then access my personal data. I don't even know who these stupid companies are and yet they're keeping all kinds of records on me and doing a piss poor job of keeping them safe.

I say it's time for a new law... any time a company's information is compromised, lost, stolen or in any way made available to those who should not have access, they have to give $100 to the person whose data was given out.

Monday, April 18, 2005

There's a 4, a 6, and a 2.

But the rest of my credit card number, well you're on your own to figure that out.

Got a letter today from Ameritrade to tell me that they lost four backup tapes in shipping between two secure facilities and recovered three but that the fourth contained my inforation. Yay.

P.S. We have new cell phone numbers. E-mail us the old numbers and we'll send you the new ones.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Today's Gotta Have It: LED Home Lighting System

MSNBC.COM -- While too expensive right now, LED lights are poised to be the replacement for the light bulb. They use less energy and last longer. And since white light from an LED is made by putting several colors together, they imagine a system where you could have several sliding dimmer switches and change the color of a room to fit your current mood. That would be so cool.

Disabled Overlooked in Crisis

MSNBC.COM -- This was an interesting article. Basically, it suggests that more needs to be done to communicate with, and provide disaster preparedness for those who are disabled. In some cases, the shortcomings were obvious and solutions simple.

But in some cases, it raises a very difficult question. We tell people that they can do anything, you know, the American way. Dream it and you can be it.

But, is that really fair to a disabled person, or to the rest of us? It seems like to tell someone they cannot do something is grounds for a lawsuit for discrimination, or at least bad form and that you're being a biggot. Here's a bad example... we don't let blind people be bus drivers. But there are plenty of other cases where people with disabilities have sued because they haven't been hired for certain jobs, or certain work environments weren't conducive to their disability. In some cases, the courts have sided with the company, who argued that it would be impossible or wildly cost-prohibitive for the company to make the necessary changes. And in some cases, the courts have sided with the disabled person, even though at a quick glance, it hasn't really made sense.

The article tells of a 300 pound man in a wheelchair. He declined help evacuating the World Trade Center because he knew that it would take several people to carry him. Instead, a friend and colleague stayed with him and they both ultimately perished. It's an awesome gesture by the friend who stayed with him, so that he didn't die alone. (His friend sent an assistant out of the building to tell rescuers where they were, but the rescuers were unable to get to them in time.)

But can you tell a 300-pound man in a wheelchair that he can only work on the ground floor of a building because if the building were hit by an airplane, he might need to be able to get out? You certainly can't tell him to lose weight, because it could very well be that it's a medical condition that's caused his weight to be what it is.

I guess I'm just wondering if there will ever be a good balance of common sense when it comes to treating the disabled with respect, making necessary changes to allow them to participate in society to the fullest, and when you just have to draw the line or if we will always be overly sensitive and lawsuit happy even when it doesn't make sense.

Of course, who ever thinks that someone dumbf*** is gonna crash an airplane into a building?

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

It's the end of the world...

Last night I dreamt I was in a room with some friends. Not sure where the room was or what we were doing... I guess we were just hanging out. People started to be ushered into the room which was kind of weird. Weirder still, people were murmurering and talking softly. I also noticed that no one was leaving the room.

We eventually found out that something major had happened, some kind of catastrophe but people weren't sure if it was a terrorist attack or some kind of accident. Some were saying that New York had been blown up. Or maybe Chicago. I picked up a phone in the room and tried to call my wife, but the recording said there were no available circuits for the state of California. We started to hear more about what was going on and basically martial law was being imposed. I toyed with the idea of sneaking out and seeing if I could find my wife but eventually determined that I would probably get in too much trouble. So I tried using my cell phone, and got through for just a second before it disconnected. But, she was safe.

From the room, we could see the ocean. There were dark angry clouds in the sky. Pure white clouds or steam stretched from the ocean to the clouds. But, there was one opening. In that opening, the wind kept whipping up and swirling trying to form a tornado. It would, but kept loosing steam almost immediately. There were lots of silver birds flying around the area and you could see just the purest blue through the opening. Someone said that it was the kind of color you could see after a nuclear blast. But, we were facing the Pacific so I didn't know what that meant, or even what I was looking at.

Then I woke up.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My New Best Friend

I ride the exercise bike most mornings, but it can be boring. Meanwhile, our dog is neglected. So I thought recently that I ought to buy a leash and take Barkley for more walks. At Target yesterday, the leash and collar display was a ghost town. Not a single one to be had. But, there was this curious thing laying on a shelf by itself. Part leash, part bungee cord and part water-ski handle grip, it looked intriguing and I thought I'd give the EZY DOG LEASH a try. It was either that or some Michael Graves rubber lead that looked too much like the indestructible chew doy Barkely consumed parts of yesterday. But at $16.99, the EZY DOG was only $2 more than the pretentious baby-blue Michael Graves annoyance, only about $5-7 more than your standard leashes, and it looked cool.

Gotta say, this thing is awesome. The grip is very easy to hold and the bungee action in the lead takes all the shock out of the lurches of our mastadon/dog.

We'll see what my arms and shoulders have to say about it tomorrow, but combined with her pinch collar, this leash was very effective at keeping the dog where I wanted her, for the most part. The rest will be training, consistency and time until she learns to walk at my side. Who knows, one day she might even enjoy the feel of not having the pinch collar pinch her, or if she gets really great at staying at my side, the feel of a standard nylon non-pinch-type collar.

One can only dream.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Video Blogger

There's been a lot of speculation around what Larry Page, a big guy at Google whose title I don't remember, said about Google accepting user video submissions later in the week. It's ranged from the cool (video blogging?) to the yawn-worthy (provide the content for Al Gore TV?) to the intriguing (test content for Google to use to try to make searching video as easy as searching text?).

While it sounds like it is just the AlGore_ thing, it would have been awesome if it were video blogging. The options for showing Rachel's antics would have been great, and it would have mattered less if the lighting stinks when shooting in our house. Although you know there would have been a million posts the first day that started out "Stardate 20050408" and then went on to be painfully awful to watch.

Someone did uncover a project at Oxford code-named "Video Google." In the simplest form, you take a frame of video, draw a box around an object in that video, and then the computer will find other examples of what you drew. For instance, they had it find other instances of Bill Murray's tie in Groundhog Day, or a poster in Run, Lola, Run. (Best stuff is on the "How it works" page.) They even had a demo you could play with. It's pretty neat, but not entirely there yet. They have one old back and white movie you can play with, so I tried some guy's nose. It found a number of noses, but also fingers and a few other things. I also tried a guy's hat and I think those were even less successful. But the frames were in black and white and rather small, so sometimes it was hard to see what it had drawn boxes around on each of the screens it returned in the results. However, as fledgling technology, it shows promise and looks kind cool.

I know that Australia has had technology for years that allows a computer to read license plates from video. They use it to time how long it takes vehicles to get from point A to point B. They know how long it takes when you're doing the speed limit and if a semi passes point A and point B in less time than that, instant ticket.

But that's just looking for rectangles and then doing character recognition on it to get the licence plate number. A lot more "known variables."

Monday, April 04, 2005

Foreign Oil? Worse, Local Oil

MSNBC.COM -- ChevronTexaco (2) announces plans to by Unocal (9). Good. We need more oil in the hands of a smaller group of people. It's not like entertainment or new media or banking or any other business where you can start something new tomorrow and build up a new empire, this is pretty much set. We know where the oil is and everybody already owns it. This will allow even fewer to control it.

Daylight Savings Time

MSNBC.COM -- This is an interesting article about daylight savings time and sleep. I guess I didn't realize that other countries also participate in this twice-yearly period of torture.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Dumb Quote of the Day

In any case, convertibles “are bought only by older people,” scoffed Jim Farley, head of the Scion division which makes cars so ugly I want to hit someone every time I see one.

I think it's because try as they might, Scion spent a lot of money in the design phase but no matter what they drew, sculpted or molded, they just couldn't come up with an ugly convertible, so now they're giving up.