Archive for October, 2004

NaNoWriMo

Well, Phoenix has indirectly convinced me to participate in NaNoWriMo. While I’m not sure that I can finish a 175-page novel in thirty days, I do have a screenplay idea that I quite like, and I think getting anything down on paper, no matter the format, will be beneficial. Anyway, if I =do= finish the novel, I can always say it’s an adaptation from my own novel. -)

If I want to make it to 50,000 words by 30 November, I have to write an average of 1,667 words every day. If I can just avoid turning on the TV…

Speaking of TV, I found this today. It’s another interesting interview with Jon Stewart.

Friday Funday IX

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

First, a couple of Halloween-related links:

Sounds to Make You Shiver (in Stereo) [del.icio.us]

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a website that posted some MP3s of spooky Halloween sounds from an old LP. The only thing scary about these sounds is how cheesy they are. Be sure to take a look at the cover art.

2004’s Scariest Halloween Costumes [del.icio.us]

A fantastic satire on current events.

Dremel Pumpkin Carving Kit [del.icio.us]

I have a rotary tool. It’s not a Dremel, but it’s the same thing. I love my rotary tool (and yes, I just call it a Dremel. Much like I say Kleenex instead of tissue). If I were going to carve a pumpkin, there would be nothing for me but this. Link via Gizmodo because the Dremel site isn’t working for some reason (with everyone linking to them, they probably went over the transfer limit).

Next, a couple of non-Halloween links:

The Ashlee Simpson iPod [del.icio.us]

It seems like everyone is jumping on the, “make fun of Ashlee Simpson” bandwagon, but after her recent blunder on Saturday Night Live, why the hell not? This is one of the best I’ve seen so far.

Sur l’herbe [del.icio.us]

This picture was originally featured on a real estate website. Either the photographer failed to notice the two dogs bumping uglies out the window, or this is an example of highly sophisticated subliminal advertising strategies in the real estate industry.

And since this is the last Friday Funday before the elections:

Jon Stewart on Crossfire [del.icio.us]

If you missed it, this is really funny. The right-wing nutjob keeps insisting that The Daily Show has a responsibility to journalism, which eventually leads Jon Stewart to call him a dick. After you’ve watched the video, be sure to read about what happened afterward.

86 Years Later…

So Boston finally won another World Series. Now who are they going to blame for future losses?

My New Toy

Yes, that’s new toy, singular. I got the camera, but no computer. I’m a bit miffed about the price of the camera. When we went to check it out on Saturday, they were offering a $100 mail-in rebate, which brought the price down to $899. When we went in to buy it last night, the rebate was gone so it cost $999. Last night was also, “friends and family night” at Best Buy, which means that you could get 12% off of certain items if you had a special coupon (and I did, though not because I actually know anyone who works there). So it wasn’t =all= bad since I got the 12% off (it ended up coming to a little over $950), but that extra $100 off would have been nice.

As far as the camera itself is concerned, it’s not the world’s best camera. I’ve been describing it as the MiniDV version of the camera I already own, but that’s not entirely true. It does have some nice features that my camera doesn’t have, such as the ability to shoot in 30p, interval recording and an option to stop it from shutting off automatically. These are all things I wish my old camera had, so it’s nice to finally get them and be able to use the MiniDV tapes I already have (from other projects).

In fact, I think I really confused the guy at Best Buy who gave me the camera. He was trying to sell me accessories for the camera like tapes and a carrying case, but I kept telling him that I didn’t need them. He gave me this look that I could tell meant, “but how are you going to shoot anything without tapes?”

Okay, now for the camera’s faults. The biggest one (Kris, you might want to be sitting down for this one) is that there is a button labeled “EASY” that =removes the options for advanced and manual controls from the menu=. It makes the menu buttons bigger and the only options left for you to choose from are “BEEP”, “CLOCK SET” and “LANGUAGE”. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS VIDEO, WHY? Because it’s a consumer level camera. The idea is to remove the hard stuff so that any moron can use the camera and make shitty home movies.

Other faults are that it has a touch-screen menu on which many of the manual settings must be controlled. A bunch of the settings in the menu don’t stay how you set them when you turn the camera off, so if you want to make use of them (like, say, Super Night Shot as opposed to regular night shot), you have to remember to turn it on manually when you switch to NS.

I also don’t like a lot of the “port” (the places where you plug stuff in) covers. The power, iLink and USB ports have those annoying rubber covers that I’m always afraid I’m going to tear off accidentally. The headphones, mic, and LANC ports also have an annoying cover that you can’t completely remove (well, you =could= remove it, but you’d never get it back on). Also, they’re rather poorly placed. While I could plug in a mic and headphones while holding the camera, my hand covers the LANC port. Granted, I never use it and the chances of anyone using it while the camera is being held are slim, but the possibility exists.

Another less than endearing feature is that the camera is a bottom-feeder. Oh sure, at first it seems really cool that the bottom of the camera opens up to accept the tape, but wait until you have the camera attached to a tripod. Fucking annoying. Sony needs to do away with this “feature” soon.

While it’s nice to have a remote control for the camera (especially now that it won’t automatically shut-off. *ahem*), the battery is a button battery. This is kind of a crappy trade off, in my opinion. Sure, the remote is tiny, super slim and weighs almost nothing, but now I have to go to the trouble of finding a new button battery when this one dies, which, as we all know, is annoying.

Last, but not least, the stock battery only lasts for just less than 80 minutes on a full charge; unless you want to use the LCD screen. Open that baby up and you’re looking at less than an hour. And that’s just in standby mode, who knows how long it really lasts while shooting (Kris and I once had a “phantom” battery that would say it had about 20 minutes left, then suddenly die). So it looks like I’ll have to troll eBay for a new battery (since the dumbass at best buy said that you couldn’t get one that lasted longer than what came with the camera, which I know is untrue. Sony includes an accessory booklet with the camera and about two or three pages in is a listing of batteries that are measured in =how much longer they last than the stock battery=).

Does the camera have some really cool features? You bet. Despite my not liking the touch screen menu, it’s something that I think I’m going to get used to very soon; especially since there’s an option to customize the primary menu. Once I figure out the options in the menu I use most, I can add those to the menu (and remove the ones I don’t want on there). I can even choose the order in which they show up on the screen.

Another cool feature is that you can stream video from the camera via USB. I’m not really sure what purpose this would serve other than a glorified webcam, but I suppose if you were webcasting, it would probably come in useful.

There’s also a cool little button next to the LCD screen that dims the screens (thereby saving battery life). Speaking of the screen, it’s huge. The LCD is way bigger than the one on my old camera. Also, my old camera could record still pictures to a memory stick, but the quality wasn’t that hot. This one can record both still pictures and video (why?) to the new Memory Stick Duo (see Infra). The quality is a lot better at 2 Megapixels (1600×1200 max resolution on stills) and the video is recorded in MPEG-1 (to the Memory Stick, it records normally to tape).

Sony’s new Memory Stick Duo really yanks my chain. When I got my first camcorder about four years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever really use the Memory Stick that came with it. Then, when I was in the market for a digicam, I wanted a Sony because I liked the size and style of the Memory Stick better than anything else out there (plus, I have a Sony VAIO computer). About the time I got my digicam, Sony came out with the Magic Gate Memory Sticks (I think that’s what they were called), which were different from the original Memory Sticks (I have four of the originals, all in different sizes, curiously enough). Now Sony has these Memory Stick Duo ones (I think there might have been another type that came out before these. I seem to recall that the AIBO required some special Memory Stick). They’re about half as long as the original ones, but hold just as much info. All I can say is, what the fuck? An 8MB Duo came with the camcorder (as well as an adapter, which I’ll get to in a moment) and I’m honestly afraid I’ll lose it. I like that technology allows us to have smaller stuff, but there is a point where things are =too= small. I prefer the size of the old Memory Sticks; I always felt they were “just right”.

What about compatibility? Well =of course= the new Memory Stick Duos work in your old gear, so long as you have an adapter that makes them the same size as the original Memory Sticks. And what about the old sticks, do they work in your new gear? Not a chance.

So what the hell is going on here? While they won’t admit it, this is clearly just a plot by Sony to force users to constantly buy new equipment. I’m sure the Memory Sticks I have will cease to be supported before long, which will force me to buy a new digicam and new Memory Sticks. I’m also sure that a new type of Memory Stick will come out in a few years and they’ll eventually stop supporting Memory Stick Duos.

Does that mean I’m going to stop buying Sony products? Probably not. I really like Sony products because (A) I have so many and they all work really well together, (B) while I’m usually pretty anti-corporations, I’m a sucker for brand loyalty if I really like a company’s products or services (and Sony teeters on the edge of my acceptability threshold) and (C) Sony products are usually really well put together. I can’t think of a problem I’ve ever had with a Sony product that was a result of something they did wrong. Are there sometimes design flaws? Yes, but their electronics are solid.

Shocking Flora

Well, I’m feeling a little bit better today, but I keep having these really painful sneezes. I think what’s happening is that phlegm is being thrown against my throat at about 100 mph. In any case, it hurts. And they happen so suddenly that they’re not the kind of sneezes I can disarm (you can sometimes disarm sneezes as they’re welling up by saying “orange” over and over again until the feeling subsides. I know it sounds really stupid, but the “nge” of “orange” vibrates your nose in such a way that it “scratches” the itch. How much of it is purely psychosomatic is unknown to me. All I know is that it works. Wow, this paranthetical is longer than the rest of the paragraph).

At work, there’s this umbrella tree outside the door to our office (which is stupid, in my opinion, since we’re in a basement with no windows). I mean =right= outside the door; you almost have to walk around it to get in. In fact, it’s so stupid, I’m going to take a picture so you can see what I mean. Okay, the first picture is from the hallway outside our office looking in at my desk (why doesn’t my camera take good pictures under florescent lights? Oh, and those are Eliza Dushku’s boobs on the wall next to the plant). The second picture is looking out at the hallway from my desk. Stupid, huh?

Anyway, back to the point of all this. I tend to build up a lot of static electricity during the day (mostly from sitting on fabric-covered chairs and the wedge things for my back). Sometimes if I touch the umbrella tree as I walk past it, I feel like I’m getting shocked. Does that makes sense? I mean, I guess it sort of does since the plant has water in it, but honestly, a plant? If anyone has any insight as to why this happens, post a comment because I’m eager to learn why the plant is shocking me.

Speaking of getting shocked, last night on Fear Factor they were shocking people with 2,000,000 volts of electricity (an electric chair puts out 200,000 volts). It was awesome.

Tomorrow I’m going to Best Buy to get a new camcorder and possibly a new computer. While neither one is what I really want (I really want a Panasonic AG-DVX100A and a Macintosh Dual G5), each is better than what I currently have and will be able to act as a crutch until Morah and I are better off financially.

The camcorder I’m looking at is a Sony DCR-HC85 and the computer is a Sony PCV-RS630G (can you say brand loyalty? Yes, my digicam is a Sony as well). I’m hoping to get some discounts from Best Buy because of some coupons I have (no, not those stupid ones from McDonald’s), so if I don’t, plans might change. I’ll let you know.

Last night Morah and I were at the grocery store (=someone= wanted chocolate chip cookies. I must admit that I also wanted them) and while there we conducted some research into one of my Amazing but False product claims (namely, anti-viral Kleenex). The results were interesting, in my opinion, but my report isn’t ready to be released yet. Check back, though, because I am working on this one.

Kabuki theatre in Hawaii. The bloke on the left is a friend of mine from high school. In case you’re interested in that sort of thing. -)

Hello, Miss?

I hate being sick.

On Thursday night, I went to bed with one nostril plugged up and wondering why. Friday morning found me with a sore throat and by Friday evening I was definately feeling it. I almost didn’t make the bike ride home because I felt so drained. I spent this weekend relaxing as much as possible and have been taking echinacea and vitamin C. I’ve also been drinking tons more water than normal, so I have to pee every ten minutes or so.

Today I feel a bit better. My throat doesn’t hurt quite as badly and I’m not quite as congested. But it still sucks. Plus, it’s =freezing= cold outside (no, really, it’s starting to get below 32 degrees Fahrenheit at night), so riding my bike is probably not a good idea (Morah is giving me rides for now).

Anyway, enough about me and how I feel like crap.

Over the weekend I posted a couple of entries to my blog, which caused the Friday Funday links to become buried in the archives. I wanted to point out that every single Friday Funday is easily accessible by clicking on the “Friday Funday” link under the “Topics” section. You can find it between the search bar and the archives.

I am also working on more FAQ entries, so expect to see more content there.

Another thing that I have in the works (that may or may not come to fruition) is a section tentatively called, “Amazing but False”, wherein I examine various things for accuracy and validity. Two examples are Oust air sanitizer (it claims to kill 99.9% of airbourne bacteria) and the proper way to use a defibrillator (I’ve been told that movies and TV shows are =very= wrong). If I do end up researching this stuff, it will also be available under the “Topics” section. Also, if you have any info that might help me or you would like to suggest a product to be scrutinized, e-mail me.

I guess that’s about it for now. I’m pretty much just trying to take it easy and get healthy again.

I Agree With Eminem

In his new song, Eminem says, and I quote, “Fuck Bush”.

Mosh: ASX or Real Audio and the lyrics.

Comments on Other Blogs

The other day I mentioned that I had left some comments on people’s blogs that I wished I would have saved so that I could post them here. I went and found them, so here they are, along with the posts for which they are comments.

From My Random Musings by Kate The Great:

Have I been under a rock? In a coma? In a drunken stupor?

No, No, and thanks to God, No.

So why then am I only finding out about these LIVESTRONG bracelets now?

Apparently they’re a fundraiser for Lance Armstrong’s foundation, which helps fight cancer through education and advocacy. The bracelets are yellow rubber and cost a dollar each, you can find them on their website or at Niketown stores. Nike is helping to push the bands, which are being used to assist a five million dollar campaign for the cyclist’s charity. The tennis shoe maker says it will pony up another cool mil. if everyone and their mother (or at least five million people) buy the wristbands.

I discovered these bracelets after receiving one as a favor at a wedding I attended last night (no, I did not catch the bouquet). The bride and groom had opted to make a charitable donation in honor of all the guests, and placed one of these bracelets at each place setting as a small token.

The folks at my table informed me these bracelets are the hottest things going these days, with even the presidential candidates sucking up to the sensitive set, wearing the golden accessory on their respective campaign trails.

Celebrities aren’t out out of the loop on this one, either. Bruce Willis, Sheryl Crow and Robin Williams have all been spotted with LIVESTRONG on the wrist. So have Pamela Anderson, Matt Damon and Bono.

Do a Google search and you’ll notice some criticism of the bands, saying it makes trendy what people should already be doing: giving to charity. Others say this is a commercial bandwagon for folks to outwardly display their acts of kindness for all the world to see. Still others wag a shameful finger at Nike, saying their association with the bracelet is a shoddy attempt at a reputation renovation.

I say nay to all those naysayers.

It’s charity, plain and simple.

If a simple piece of yellow rubber incites others to give their money to a good cause, more power to it. As for Nike, well, I’m not so down with their child labor practices, but it appears they’re trying to put the best rubber-soled foot forward. And If some folks wanna feel cool and braggadocious about where they give their money, let ’em. No one said you had to be quiet about your contributions. Sure, that would be the classy way to act, but one needs to spend no more than five minutes in a Starbucks to know that class is going the way of handwritten thank you notes (another travesty, in my book).

I am proudly wearing my LIVESTRONG bracelet.

And I just bought ten more.

While I agree that its widespread popularity is beneficial, I can’t help but be turned off from it simply because it’s so damn popular. I’ve never been “hip”, nor do I have any desire to be. I do, however, really like Lance Armstrong, believe strongly in his cause and am more than willing to donate money to it, but not just so I can get some stupid rubber bracelet and be “cool” like everyone else.

What I think the naysayers are saying nay to is the fact that people are, in a matter of speaking, abusing the charity. Perhaps I should say that they’re using it for their own benefit. As with any trend, this bracelet has become a status symbol (or, in the case of Nike, a methods by which they can attempt to cause consumers to forget about their questionable business practices). There are those with the bracelet and those without. Are you a Sneetch with a star on your belly or one without?

We’ve hit a new low when society constructs an elitist attitude around a charity. So while it may be charity, it’s not plain and simple.

—-

From Monique’s Blog by Tasha Best:

I think that blogs are great. It is a great way to communicate with professors, classmates, and other students. You get to come familiar with other students work and their opinions about the work you have done. It is very useful in hearing others opinions. Opinions from actually make thought that was never there. The professors also post comments that would later help you in assignments for the future. Overall, I just think that it is a neat source over the internet for english classes can come together and share their work.

I believe in blogs. They are wonderous tools that have forever changed the way we communicate. Their simplicity and ease of use makes them perfect for users of all ages and backgrounds. They are a system of immediate publishing to a potential audience of billions.

That having been said, blogs (and the internet in general) are destroying both the English language and the general intelligence of the world.

When the internet first started to get popular and accessible (let’s say between the years of 1995 and 2000) I noticed that people’s typing skills and English skills were improving. When you rely on purely textual cues for tone, emphasis and subtext, you are forced to be commanding in your use of the language. People seemed to realise that, in order to be understood, they had to spell words properly and construct their sentences using proper grammar.

Shortly thereafter, the abbreviations started. Such cryptic messages asl, lol, roflmao, and wtf became common in chat rooms and on BBSs. Suddenly society invented a new dialect of English; Net speak, as it were. With no basis in the real world, Net speak served as a wedge between English skills and internet users.

It didn’t take long for things to go downhill. These days I see worse spelling and grammar than ever. That’s not to say that my skills are second to none, but at least no one has ever complained of not understanding what it was I was trying to say.

Blogs have taken Net speak to the point where I can’t even read some blogs because they are so filled with bad English and web slang.

The immediacy of blogs has also served to “dumb-down” the populace. We are nurturing a generation that neglects to think before they convey their thoughts because there’s no reason to. Whereas an author will write and rewrite a novel before it is published (and even then an editor will pick through it before it goes to print), a blogger has but to click a single button for their missive to flash on the screens of a billion users worldwide.

If blogs have one saving grace, it’s that the blogosphere is self-correcting. That is to say that if you blog about something and have your facts wrong, chances are that someone will point it out to you. If only more people would check their spelling and re-read what they’ve written before posting it, we would be in better shape.

Good luck with your blog. -)

—-

From Connections by Gareon:

“…Most religions claim an exclusive connection with the creator and by extension claim to be the only path to salvation. They are not hesitant to block the way and ambush – literally and figuratively- others during the journey to the mountaintop. History is replete with examples of self-righteousness and highhandedness of the followers of most religions.

What good is it, and the questions begs for an honest religious answer, when the priests, the rabbis, the garanthis, the pundits, the imams, the ministers, and the like hold hands and pray in unison for peace and harmony in interfaith gatherings, but preach the superiority of their own faith when they take to the pulpits? How could one be equal in one setting and superior in the other? Would it diminish their faith if they accorded the same relevance to other traditions that they reserve for their own? Or is it a sense of insecurity that permeates and accents most established and organized religions?”…

The man who fears no truths

has nothing to fear from lies.

-Sir Francis Bacon

It seems to me that religion is inherently fraught with such insecurities. I mean, there’s no evidence that anyone person is correct from hardcore Catholic to absolute atheist (which, I suppose, makes true agnostics the only ones who are actually correct).

Faith is such a tricky subject because so many people want to have faith in their religion, but how can you truly believe when you have so many other religions out there telling you that you might be wrong? It’s like asking a group of people what the best flavour of ice cream is; while some people will agree on the same flavour, not =everyone= will agree on that flavour.

It’s interesting that we live in a culture of fear, but we’re expected to be totally confident about our religion (otherwise you’re not being true to your faith and, if you’ll excuse the pun, God forbid…). But how can you be confident that you’ve made the right choice when you have so many people telling you that you haven’t?

Friday Funday VIII

Friday Funday brings you some fun and interesting links from my travels around the internet during the previous week.

With the presidential election less than two weeks away, I have decided to post some links that might help you make your decision when you go to the polls.

White House Election Year Album [del.icio.us]

As if not finding the WMDs was bad enough, here’s a video of Bush actually =making fun of the situation=. Didn’t people die as a result of his lies? Oh, yes, they did. Also links to some good statistics about the war.

New 9/11 Report Names Names [del.icio.us]

So when will you get to read it? Not until after the election, if Bush has his way.

Tribal Sovereignty [del.icio.us]

Further proof that Bush is =NOT= fit to lead this country.

Bush: Then and Now [del.icio.us]

A video study of the decline in President Bush’s speaking abilities over the past ten years.

And because it’s supposed to be Friday Funday:

Is Bush Wired? Yes. [del.icio.us]

You ‘ve probably heard the controversy surrounding “Bush’s Bulge” as seen in the second debate. There is an entire website devoted to trying to figure out what the bulge was. I even made mention of it a while back. In the continuing quest for answers comes this potential explanation. This is political and social satire at its best, I say.

Bush Killed Superman [del.icio.us]

Really not as funny a website as the title suggests, Bush Killed Superman discusses Bush’s decision to limit stem cell research and its subsequent impact on Christopher Reeve. Click here if you need a good laugh afterward. Still not funny? Try this one.

How to Eat Fried Brains

I had a whole bunch of stuff I was going to blog about, but my brain is so fried from sitting here messing about online all day that I can’t remember what it all was.

I do remember that yesterday I read Phoenix’s post about the Mega-Typhoon in Japan and thought, “not too likely we’ll hear about it on the news.” As it turns out, I was wrong. I only watch the news in the morning, so I don’t know if they mentioned it last night, but this morning’s news cast mentioned that a whole bunch of people died in it. They neglected to mention, however, that it was a Mega-Typhoon, opting for the less exciting “Typhoon”.

I spent a lot of time this morning (by a lot of time, I mean at least three solid hours) of reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. I think attracting readers is a bit like getting mail. Everyone want the joy of opening up that mail box and finding a letter inside, but chances are that you won’t unless you write one to someone else first. In thinking along those lines, I visited a whole bunch of websites today in the hopes that, upon reading my comments, the authors (or readers) of the blogs would feel compelled to visit my website and read my blog. Perhaps they’ll even leave comments (not that I really need them to leave comments for me to know that people came, but it does help me to know that they actually read the blog and maybe even comprehended it).

One of the things that disappoints me somewhat is that I wrote some pretty long and, in my opinion, well written comments (mostly in rebuttal to what other people had said). I should have copied those comments and pasted them here. I’ll have to go find them all again later.

For now, I’m going home. It’s already after three o’clock. Don’t forget, Friday Funday tomorrow!

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