July 29, 2000

Advogato Entry 11

Well, I finally got started on my bus schedule project. I'm probably a third of the way through making a decent parser to read in my data (it's full of redundant code, though I hope it will be moderately robust). Then, I actually have to do something with the data and output it into a decent format. I've got a bit of work ahead.

More guests last night. I stayed in my room most of the time, though.. They got in late, and I was busy coding. Bumped into them when I woke up, and they were gone in 30 minutes.

There isn't anything good on TV. Perhaps I should plunk down some change and give in to the cable gods.. Oh well, since there isn't anything on TV right now, maybe I'll actually do something useful. Part of the problem with the consumerized society here in the US is that people forget how to innovate on their own. I realized earlier this year that I had become afraid to be curious about a lot of things. There are so many warnings and locked doors around us these days that we forget what it's like to explore. It doesn't help that every corporation on the planet wants to patent everything they touch these days..

Hmm.. My bus schedule parser sucks.. I think I'll have to rewrite it..

Evening

I tend to forget how useful ANSI colors are. They're wonderful for debugging. Especially when you're trying to find a needle in the haystack of pages and pages of output..

Posted by mike at 04:42 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2000

Advogato Entry 12

Hey, djcb, fix your last entry -- you're missing a double-quote mark..

Anyway..

Went to the Twin Cities ``Rockin' Ribfest'' today and got a half rack of Roscoe's ribs, some fresh lemonade, and a Dove bar. All for $20.. Eesh. Yet another one of those *fests that that requires you to buy using tickets rather than paying in cash. But it was good.

I rode my bike there and back. There's a fairly nice half gravel/half asphalt road going along a railroad right-of-way. The road basically goes under all of the traffic, which is a much more pleasant way of getting places, IMHO. However, the road is suffering from potholes and washboarding. My arms were getting thoroughly tenderized for a while.

It would be really nice if the University would put a real bike path down there and connect it to the new bike/pedestrian bridge they just installed. One of these days.

I haven't gotten around to working on my bus schedule thing much today, though maybe I'll do something after Futurama and The Simpsons. However, I was pleased that I actually got Evolution to compile and run. Now I've got to try my luck at Nautilus..

One of the things that I worry about with Advogato is that the diary area could be prone to DoS-ing of various kinds. Individuals could presumably plaster diary entries all over the place, or post pages and pages of junk at a time. I imagine there are some checks for this already, but there's almost always a way around it.

Oh, I have a few mail-related problems. One is that I just started using procmail to filter my mail. Locally, I run an IMAP server so it's easier to view mail with disparate clients. Also, I think my mail actually gets loaded faster, as Netscape is not the most efficient at reading/parsing mailbox files. Anyway, I still have to find a way to get procmail to notify the IMAP server that it just dumped mail into a certain folder. Then, the IMAP server must be able to notify my client that there is new mail. This isn't happening automagically, and I'm not sure how to get it to work correctly. I suppose I may have to start using a different IMAP server or something.

In other news, I need to find a good way to consolidate mail at my workplace. Well, my mail doesn't matter, since I'm an admin and can basically do anything I want. However, the head of my department basically wants all mail to go through Lotus Notes (Domino?). I believe it is my task to now find a good way to get Notes to interoperate with my system and the Linux/Unix desktops of others in the organization. I imagine that the server can just run POP or (preferably) IMAP through stunnel. Then, any decent client can read the mail. However, calendaring still remains a bit of an issue, though Lotus is (or at least was) a supporter of the iCalendar protocol, which Evolution is going to support. My only question is, does Lotus actually support iCalendar or not?

August 01, 2000

Advogato Entry 14

I hate Solaris. Well, maybe that's a little strong. I'm just so used to Linux, and it bothers me when things aren't where I expect them to be. Oh well, I'll get over it.

Saw that links browser. I'll have to try it out sometime.

Work is pretty slow, though it's not like I don't have anything to do. I really need to reinstall WinNT on one of my boxes. I suppose I may actually have to sacrifice some RAM from one of the Linux boxes I have -- I think the NT box only has 32 right now, which means it's dog slow. Personally, I don't need NT, but I have users who run it on their own systems, and I need to test out software for them (PuTTY and other stuff).

Lately, I've been organizing a lot of documentation. Clearing out old cruft from The Big Manual that we have for all of our systems here. At some point I actually have to use it to re-install a database or two.

I saw David Boies on Charlie Rose last night. He was talking about the Napster case, and was very good. I knew that he exaggerated some things, but he cited the 1989 Audio Home Recording Act when saying that it's OK to sample music and to share music with your friends noncommercially. I think I'll have to do some reading. I haven't decided if I'm going to buy any music this month, but my musical mind seems to be withering. I think I'll have to go get a few (or a lot) of CDs.

The commercial advertising actor strike is really bothering me. Very few ads are being made, so advertisers do not have any variety in their ads anymore. My mind is going numb after seeing the same ads over and over and over. It's becoming sickening, and I've been avoiding TV.

Posted by mike at 01:12 PM Central | Law , Music , Old Advogato Diary , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 25, 2000

Advogato Entry 37

Afternoon

Well, I haven't been keeping up with this. Being sick for a month doesn't help things.. Oh well, I'll have to see if I can get back on this horse.

I totally screwed up a CSci assignment today. I was supposed to download a Word(!) document, fill in relevant parts, and hand it in.. Oh well, it's still early in the year, and I still have plenty of time to make up for stupid mistakes. Hopefully, I'm done with stupid mistakes for this semester.

I don't know what it is, but school really seems to take a lot out of me. Even if I don't do anything (or maybe it's because I don't do anything), I get really tired. I should really get into an exercise routine (heh, like that'll happen).

The exciting event over the weekend was that Ralph Nader had a fairly large rally here on Friday. I paid my $7 to get in. Apparently, 12000 people is (or was as of Friday, they're still having rallies) the largest gathering of individuals paying to listen to a Presidential candidate. Not that it means we gave a whole lot of money -- they got about $110k (entry cost plus donations once in the door). Still, it's a much better deal for me than those $25k/plate dinners that some candidates have (*cough* *cough*).

Anyway, I'm having all sorts of fun bashing Sun here at work. We can't figure out how to use the 100Base-T network card in our new server. Fun. My boss had hooked up our tape drive to the system without realizing it only ran at 10Mb. Our backups are running several times slower these days.

As always, I keep hoping that I'll get motivated to help out on some open source projects. Someday it'll happen..

Found out about a semi-new TV channel in town, KSTC 45. There have been all of these strange `Hi, I'm Gregory and I'm 45' posters and ads all over town. It's kind of neat, as it is supposed to be an independent station with a local focus. Unfortunately, they're owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, a company that owns about 10 stations (and they at least used to have a DBS network). It's just hard to call a station like that `independent' (of course, they mean that it will not have a network affiliation

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Decision 2000 , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , School , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 19, 2001

Advogato Entry 77

I Will Crush You!

Earlier today, I got a message from CrushLink. I have a secret admirer! Well, maybe. It's basically a viral e-mail harvesting system. I was in an odd enough mood (and, well, my address was in their system anyway), so I decided to try to take a stab at guessing who this person was. Little did I know that I had to add 5 more addresses to their list before they'd tell me anything. To top it off, they even insult you once you've entered 5 addresses -- ``You need help.'' or something to that effect. More than likely, my address was just a filler address for someone else.

Wake Up!

Anyway, didn't do too much today. I got up fairly early for once -- and I think I found a few good reasons for actually getting up at ~7 AM. Batman Beyond is on WB at 7, and Comedy Central usually starts a movie then as well. If I'm feeling sleepy, I can just wait until The Daily Show comes on at 9 ;-)

Posted by mike at 06:12 PM Central | Daily Show , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 214

Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..

I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..

Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..

I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.

It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..

In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.

I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..

There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.

Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..

Posted by mike at 11:40 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , TV , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 223

Well, of course, it turns out that Sarah turned 21 last night. Her pre-college friends and current roommates worked pretty hard to get her drunk, though she seemed to be taking it pretty well by the time I and my alcohol-free roommates left her with those folks at around 11 PM.

Actually, we first went to Cattle Company (a.k.a. Stuart Anderson's). Had some steak. Got full. Then we went to a bar a short distance away.

My roommates and I mostly stood around looking dumb. I must have been looking really dumb, since one of the first people I was introduced to was `Gay Paul.' That did wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you (*cough*).

Ended up watching some of the people there play pool. Tried to fix one of the little web terminals that was there (kinda wish I'd had a BBC on me), but it was running WinME -- probably not worth resuscitating anyway...

Got a picture taken with Sarah. I probably looked stiff as a board or something (I don't really photograph well), but hopefully it'll turn out. Got a nice hug as we were leaving, so that made me feel pretty good. It was probably alcohol-induced though. She left a pretty funny voice message with us at some late/early hour. It's saved, so we can play it back to her anytime ;-)

Anyway, still slowly hacking away at the wireless network firewall at work. I haven't been working on it hard enough, though I've been waiting for folks to finish other things..

Don't forget, Star TrekWeakest Link is starting momentarily. I only ever watch Weakest Link when they have celebrities on. It's usually pretty funny, though they're often evil people, and usually kick off the best players...

Later

Wow. The Star Trek folks were pretty cool, and usually picked appropriate people to kick off. Wil Wheaton managed to stay in the game for quite a while -- he was the last one to walk off the stage before Levar Burton and Robert Picardo duked it out.

Wil was playing to support the EFF, so too bad he didn't win.

Posted by mike at 04:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , TV , Wil Wheaton , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 21, 2001

Advogato Entry 239

bjf: All I can say is that most Americans are ignorant of the situation. The only coverage I've seen of it is in the print news (well, whatever shows up in Yahoo's most-emailed and most-viewed content). Then again, I've been watching TV news much less (usually only The Daily Show, if anything).. Amazingly, I'm still the most-informed person I know. Then again, college students tend to have plenty of other things to worry about. At the U of MN, a very large number of students work -- I guess the administration believes it's to the point of distraction, as the U has something like a 50% 6-year graduation rate.. I can't speak for any other communitites.

There are people who take an interest in that stuff, though. It's not something I think too much about. IIRC, Nader got somewhere around 20% of the votes on-campus in last year's presidential race. But I suppose that doesn't prove anything.

Anyway..

My brother and I came home yesterday. We brought the car up in early November, expecting to just keep it a week. I thought we'd have too many Snow Emergencies for the car to be easy to keep around, but only one big snow came (and that was just a few days after the car went up). Still bare ground in Minneapolis.

My mom mentioned that one of the instructors I had in confirmation class spoke up at a church service the other day to voice disapproval of bombing Afghanistan since, well, the Bible says faithful people should be peacemakers and shouldn't condone violence. I'm not really a religous person myself, though I agree with that idea.. At any rate, he's been known to voice his opinions pretty loudly in the past. I guess the pastoral staff wrote a long response in the subsequent church newsletter...

There are sane people in this world, just most of them are hiding :-p

Later

What the?!? dammit..

Posted by mike at 09:38 AM Central | Comedy , Daily Show , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , Ralph Nader , School , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2002

Advogato Entry 243

Haven't had much to do today. I suppose that I should be trying to do some programming now that I'm back to my apartment and computer. Well, I have school crap to deal with because of my grades, too...

Watched a lot of TV. Sad part was that the most interesting thing on for a lot of the time was junk on MTV & VH1. I guess I became somewhat intrigued by some rap/hip-hop stuff after watching Frontline's ``LAPD Blues'' report on PBS last night. Very interesting story about how some gangstas managed to get onto the police force. They had links to the hip-hop scene, the drug trade, and one of them may have even been the triggerman who gunned down Notorious B.I.G.

Finally remembered to send in my check to the local PBS station today ;-)

Anyway, after seeing a ``Best of'' episode of Cribs today, I'm just wondering if some geeky celebrity will ever show off their server room on the show :-)

The stuff on that show is so over-the-top, I'm already laughing my ass off knowing that some of those guys are going to crash hard in the coming years.

Posted by mike at 05:34 PM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 06, 2002

Advogato Entry 245

nope

I feel like I'm out of alignment with the universe. There's an ad on American TV these days -- I think it's for a trading firm -- where a guy goes through his day, but all of his actions are delayed by a few seconds. The same thing basically happens to me, though it's a lot less obvious.

I wish I had the knowledge and tools I needed to fix it, but how can I possibly figure out how the right time to do that?

Posted by mike at 08:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2002

Advogato Entry 256

Still playing with my laptop, setting it up to have a cool desktop. I really like how it's set up, I figure I'll manage to pull off some Linux advocacy with it ;-)

Watching Ranma 1/2 with my roommates. Being lazy today.

Posted by mike at 02:46 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 264

Katz is going off on some strange tirade about pre-/post-9/11 movies on Slashdot. It got me thinking (for no good reason--It's a pretty poor review), and I realized I haven't written down my experiences of that day..

I don't remember when I rolled out of bed, but it was later than I wanted. My roommate had woken up and had left the room, so I figured it was time. I climbed into the chair at my computer, powered up the monitors, and started my daily morning browsing. I think I hit Slashdot first, and the top story was the first article of the planes hitting the WTC towers. I tried getting to some news websites, but couldn't get anywhere.

I turned around and powered up the TV and turned it to CNN. With my groggy morning eyes, I saw a wide-angle shot of the towers. It looked entirely fake, but I figured if it was on CNN...

I came out of my room and went into the den. I turned off the music my roommate had started up, and turned on the TV out there. I still wasn't fully awake, and could barely manipulate the remote controls well enough to get it turned to CNN. I tried to tell my roommate what happened, but I didn't know anything. Some big planes had hit the World Trade Center.

Anyway, nobody knew anything, so I took a shower. I can't remember much else that happened. I know that the sky was very clear and blue. I came into the business school building where I work, and saw a huge crowd of students watching TV, but I felt like avoiding the coverage until people actually knew something. I went into my office area and sat down at the computer, trying to do some work, but I was thinking too much.

I was chatting with people on IRC, and was informed when the towers fell. I didn't have a TV at that point, so I didn't know they'd pancaked. I just couldn't imagine it.

Anyway, I sat around at the business school for a while, but I was going a bit stir-crazy. I walked to Taco Bell, about 15 minutes away on foot. On the way there, I saw a small United States flag protruding from a building. September 11th was a primary election day, and the flag was there informing people that they could go vote.

That was probably the last time a flag really made me feel good. It was a puny little thing, only a few inches in size, but it meant so much that morning. I smiled, and kept walking.

I got to Taco Bell. One employee was on the phone, looking out the window at downtown. She said, ``I know they're going to target downtown.'' It never actually happened, but people were worried. Anyway, I ate and tried to remain calm.

I got back to my desk and tried to work again. There were still way too many things racing through my head, plus I got a little worried by the fact that the business school is a very shiny corporate-looking building. I decided to head home.

I got home and spent some time watching coverage, browsing the web and chatting on IRC. That day, classes were supposed to start late for me, around 12:30. I was hearing that they may have canceled classes. Before long, I found they had..

I walked to class, finding a notice on the door saying that classes after noon were canceled. I started heading back to the apartment, but decided to see if my brother was at his dorm room. We got some lunch and hung out for the afternoon, though definitely it wasn't the most entertaining time we'd spent together. I spent most of my time watching TV, while he played Civilization on my computer.

In a lot of ways, it was a very dull day. It was very strange to feel so affected by something that happened half a continent away.

Strangely, the events since then have made me less interested in the news. I'm sure there's a lot of stuff going on that I'd like to hear about, but it gets drowned out by `The War on Terror'. Hell, I just wish the cable news channels would get rid of all of that extra crap on the screen so I wouldn't have to get reminded of it as I flip through the channels..

Hmm. There are some other things floating around in my head, but a bunch of it has already been posted, so I don't want to re-write it..

Posted by mike at 12:17 PM Central | Erik , Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , September 11th , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 09, 2002

Advogato Entry 271

Should really watch C-SPAN more often. I've seen some interesting discussions about civil liberties going on in the last few days.

It sounds like people are starting to wake up, looking past the war propaganda out there these days and starting to really talk about the laws that have been passed, and what might get passed in the future.

I read Michael Moore's book, Stupid White Men, the other day. It's pretty good, pretty funny. I wrote a review of it, though I don't know if it'll show up anywhere.. The book is a bestseller, though, so hopefully this means things are looking up.

I'll be busy tomorrow trying to figure out how to write an OpenGL program in my Computer Graphics course. I really didn't give myself enough time to get it done...

Posted by mike at 11:09 PM Central | Law , Michael Moore , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , School , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 272

Went to see Michael Moore tonight over in St. Paul. I was worried that he'd been lying about having overflow crowds for his book tour, but there really was a big line out the door of the church he was at, and there were a bunch of people who stayed out in the cold for 3 hours so that they could see him speak for the second time in one evening.

He showed some clips for his movie coming out this fall, Bowling for Columbine. Mostly, he just talked about stuff, but it was very funny, and it was cool to see people come together to talk about things that are supposedly unpopular here in the US at the moment.

Got in line to get into the church just behind the host of Mental Engineering, John Forde (eww.. that page definitely came out of something from Microsoft).. While we were all waiting to get in, someone in the line ahead of him asked, ``Anyone know what it's like inside this place?''

He said, ``No, I haven't been to church for a while,'' and paused.. ``I could tell you what the inside of detox looks like, though.'' That was pretty funny, but kinda not in the way I hoped..

Posted by mike at 09:31 PM Central | Michael Moore , Movies , Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2002

Advogato Entry 273

Haven't written for a while.. I've been busy trying to keep from drowning in homework and studying for exams.

Played with CodeWeavers' CrossOver Plugin package, and actually paid for a license. Seems to work pretty well, though I've only used it for QuickTime and Windows Media Player so far. WMP doesn't work right on my laptop (probably because I have a crummy AC'97 sound device), but QuickTime works fine (especially after I set it to always output at 48000Hz).

I've had some of my wishes come to fruition lately, though. I hear that Coca-Cola is looking into producing vanilla-flavored Coke, and Deep Space Nine is going to be on TV tonight. I just hope another wish or two comes true.

Posted by mike at 04:56 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , School , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 11, 2002

Advogato Entry 276

Well, I was hoping SpamAssassin would reduce my junk mail to zero, but it's still managing an 88% hit rate. Razor was probably only getting about 1/4 to 1/3 of the junk mail coming in to my mailbox. I get a lot of spam where there's some randomly-generated string in the message body, so comparing MD5 checksums doesn't work against that..

So cool that all it takes is an `apt-get install' on Debian (testing) to get both Vipul's Razor and SpamAssassin..

My computer graphics project got pushed back a few days, which is good, but I really need to make sure I use the time, rather than waste it.

Glad to see that the CBDTPA is pretty much being criticized from every direction. Even more pleasing is that people actually wrote into their congresscritters about it! I wrote to my representatives recently, but I was criticizing the idea of reducing restrictions on how many TV/Radio stations can be owned in a market, and I also threw in a few bits on how adding copy protection capabilities to HDTV sets is bad..

I'd like to get into a habit of writing my reps both in Washington and in the Minnesota congress on a regular basis. I haven't checked if my state reps have e-mail, though..

Posted by mike at 08:02 AM Central | Internet , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2002

Advogato Entry 292

Not much has happened to me in the last month, at least nothing I really want to talk about. Suffice it to say that I've finally started on an exercise binge that I'm going to continue for at least 5 weeks, mostly out of spite. Not one of the best reasons, but I'm more motivated that I ever was before.. Anyway, I don't plan on doing anything terribly dramatic/traumatic -- heck, I don't even have any weights to use, so I'm just making a fool of myself jumping around in my room early in the morning (I do plan to get some weights soon, once my car gets checked out and is running normally again).

At any rate, I'm getting up now at 6:00 (or so), with the TV set to turn on to PBS so I can watch (well, listen to) the BBC news. I don't wake at 6:00 easily, so it takes ten or fifteen minutes of listening to droning reporters to get me up..

I'm mostly just trying to get my arms to look less like pogo sticks and more like something that belongs on the human body, but I hope to do something to cut down on my gut too. But basically, I just want it to be noticeable to my friends that I did some work.

Posted by mike at 02:07 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 27, 2003

Advogato Entry 301

Hmm. Mister Rogers died this morning. A sad thing to see, but all things must come to an end.

Strange he's almost a mythical figure. When I was in high school, lots of kids said that he had been in the Marines and had tattoos on his body. That's definitely an interesting idea...

I was very young when my parents sat me down to watch Mr. Rogers, and I don't remember much of the show. However, I'm never going to forget the story of his stolen car from a few years back. Once the thieves discovered the car was his, they returned it to the parking spot and left a note explaining, ``Sorry, we didn't know it was yours.''

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 27, 2003

The Daily Show Rocks!

The Daily Show has been getting some news coverage lately. This is probably partially due to the fact that Jon Stewart just signed a new contract. Also, Comedy Central is now under the full control of Viacom, while it had previously been owned 50/50 by Viacom and AOL Time Warner. This was mentioned by Jon Stewart himself a few days ago during the opening segment. Personally, I think I'd be happier with Time Warner owning Comedy Central than Viacom. Viacom owns a crapload of stuff (just visit their site to see), and I don't really want to see Comedy Central turning into another MTV-esque outlet (though I suppose they are already partway there).

On the positive side, the show is being seen by many people as a better news source than CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel. An article I found via the Miami Herald shows war criticism can be taken seriously. Another piece from The Nation explains how the show goes for more than just cheap laughs.

Additionally, I found out that I'm not the only Daily Show fan ;-) Lisa Rein has an archive of Daily Show clips that are pretty amusing.

Posted by mike at 03:17 PM Central | Comedy , Corporations , Daily Show , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 28, 2003

Signs of the End Times

Hmm. The world might end soon -- I've got a Christina Aguilera song stuck in my head, and I don't really mind. We were listening to "Fighter" in the car on our way to Little T's, and Kari and Erin got into a discussion of how the video for that song is worse than the "Making-Of" show for the video. This is kind of interesting. I've been noticing that meta-entertainment (entertainment about entertainment: trailers, promo shows, etc) is often better than the entertainment it's linked to. For example, if you had the people who made the trailer for Adam Sandler's movie Anger Management do the movie itself, it probably would have been much better.

I just hope this doesn't apply to The Matrix sequels.

Posted by mike at 11:19 AM Central | Erin , Kari , Movies , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2003

Friends' Blogs

Found the LiveJournal sites for a couple of friends: Kari, Erin, and Spike. Erin was complaining about her user ID, since she uses it everywhere, and it apparently makes people think she's a guy. I'm glad she used it for LiveJournal, though -- that's the only way I could find anyone..

I'm usually not up this late. Not having a job and mucking with my new website too much is screwing up my sleep cycle. Well, and the fact that I use MythTV too much to record and watch TV shows up the yin-yang. I'm learning to just delete things. I don't need to see every episode of A Makeover Story ;-)

I think I still have the new Simpsons episode from this weekend on my machine if anyone wants to watch it, though I'm not sure how to move the file around or play it on any machines other than my own..

The wonders of technology.

Update: Hahaha... It's 3:26!!!

Posted by mike at 03:26 AM Central | Erin , Kari , MythTV , Spike , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Watching Crap

I think my mom had mentioned something about the show Watching Ellie coming back, and possibly being better than what it was before, so I set my computer to record it. I've seen two episodes, one from today and one from last week, but neither was very good. The only real positive to the show is the presence of Steve Carell as Edgar, who is so good at insincere sincerity that he can make anything funny. Those years working on The Daily Show must have paid off.

On the subject of TV shows, I keep wondering if Good Morning, Miami is going to get canceled. NBC keeps dropping it off the schedule for weeks at a time, but it keeps coming back. Apparently, it's considered a "[b]ona fide new hit" and will likely stay on the air. I like the show, but it has a story line that can't help but get tiring quickly. They reworked it after the first few episodes, getting rid of the nun (good), and the only latina on the show (bad). A show about Miami without any Cubans in it.. Sheesh.

Ooo! I think it's awesome that The Real Cancun bombed over the weekend. It opened at number 10. Screw you, MTV.

Posted by mike at 10:08 PM Central | Daily Show , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 30, 2003

That's My Bush!

Yes! They posted the Bush vs. Bush debate on The Daily Show's website. This has got to be one of the harshest things anyone has done to Bush for ages. Here's Lisa Rein's version.

Posted by mike at 05:05 PM Central | Comedy , Daily Show , Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2003

Star-Trekkin' Across the Universe

Saw the "Cogenitor" episode of Enterprise last night from a recording on my computer. Contrary to what some people are saying, I think the show's last few episodes have been some of the best I've seen. I'm getting a little worried about the big new direction they're thinking of going in. That article sounds so weird, it makes me wonder if someone confused May Day with April Fools Day.

Sexuality is not something I ordinarily like to discuss, because it tends to remind me of how I'm not getting any. However, the "Cogenitor" episode got me thinking. It's all about a species that has three different genders. The species is advanced and very intelligent, but they treat the people of the third gender as something halfway between a pet and a sex slave. These others don't get beat up or anything as far as the story is concerned, but they get passed from one couple to the next as the couples want to procreate. They don't get any education and don't even have names.

This isn't an entirely new idea for the series to cover, but it's at least an extension of things that have happened in the past (or future, depending on how you look at things) of the Trek universe. There have been other episodes (in Next Generation, at least) dealing with gender.

Anyway, I think there are some deficiencies to the episode, but it was good enough to keep me thinking afterward, which I think is exactly what a good Star Trek episode should do. It didn't have a happy ending, something any good series has to do from time to time, since real life doesn't have happy endings as often as we'd like.

Now, for the upcoming season, they're apparently trying to get a major disaster/war worked into the story line. It also looks like this involves time travel, which is really one of the biggest complaints people tend to have about Star Trek. Why the producers think this is a good idea is beyond me. This series has always struck me as being more "Republican" than the others, and I just have a sense that they're trying to work in a September 11th-esque element and push it for their own gain.

However, I suppose having the Enterprise series as a prequel to everything else is pretty restrictive to the writers, and this time travel scenario is a way to break out of it. I know I've seen good episodes from the previous series (plural) that have dealt pretty well with a lot of interesting issues. So, if they're doing what I think they're doing, there's a certain non-zero probability that they'll pull off something truly worth watching that could help us understand the supposed "new world" we're living in.

Posted by mike at 02:10 AM Central | September 11th , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2003

This One's Only Bullet-Resistant

Looks like Monk will be back on the air next month. On June 20th, there's supposed to be a new episode on USA Network, but apparently no one knows if it'll be on ABC again. They'd better run it if they expect to get any viewers this season..

Posted by mike at 04:10 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

*Bleep*

Gah. What kind of a world is it when you can't say "Sweet zombie Jesus" on TV? That and "Holy zombie Jesus" got cut from the last two reruns of Futurama on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. Well, "Jesus" got cut out, so Professor Farnsworth just said "Sweet zombie _____." I seem to recall there was an episode of The Simpsons where Homer said something similar that got cut out in reruns, but I forget.

I suppose that's one thing that is fueling the DVD sales of TV series -- the desire to see the uncut versions of these episodes.

I tried to watch a bit of Gladiator on ABC over the weekend, but they cut out a lot of stuff. They basically cut out 75% of the shots where people got hit, so you see people fall down and don't really know why.

Oh well, I guess they are owned by Disney...

Posted by mike at 11:28 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2003

I Need A Good Multitasker

So, you watch Good Eats whenever you get the chance? Ever given Alton Brown a tip? Show your true geekiness by putting together your very own Good Eats Geek Code.

Posted by mike at 06:55 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 12, 2003

Crapanimation

Ah, the wisdom of Slashdot (in reference to Saturday vs. Sunday mornings):

When I was a kid, I thought the cartoons were hilarious and the Christian Evangelists were boring.

Now I think I that the cartoons are boring and the Christian Evangelists are hilarious.

Anyway, that's in reference to a story about how cartoons have disappeared from Saturday morning TV.

I get disappointed at what is run (or what is not run) on Saturday mornings now, but sometimes there are surprises. I recently noticed that Fox was running the old Back to the Future cartoon (interestingly, Dan Castellaneta does the voice of Doc) -- though the timing is probably just a marketing gimmick of a sort, since the DVDs were released recently...

Well, whatever.. It's better to get kids to get out and do something on Saturdays, I guess. It's kind of weird though, that people my age are mourning the passing of something like this. But, I suppose it's only on hiatus.

Posted by mike at 12:17 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 18, 2003

Saving Private Lynch Was Just Hollywood

At the time Private Jessica Lynch was retrieved from a hospital in Iraq, I was mostly watching The Daily Show, so I didn't hear much about it. The story was blanketing the cable news channels and other TV news outlets, though.

I smelled something funny with that story, and it looks like people who were suspicious of it were probably right. The BBC has a story explaining that her retrieval was a Hollywood-style stunt. Dr. Anmar Uday said this:

“It was like a Hollywood film. They cried ‘go, go, go’, with guns and blanks without bullets, blanks and the sound of explosions. They made a show for the American attack on the hospital—action movies like Sylvester Stallone or Jackie Chan.”

It's possible the doctors were lying or stretching the truth, but I generally have a lot of respect for the BBC..

Posted by mike at 03:31 PM Central | Daily Show , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Someone At Fox News Is Crying

With all the screwed up news stories being discovered lately, I think The Daily Show will have to start giving out some sort of award for “Best fake news from a real news outlet.”

Posted by mike at 04:26 PM Central | Daily Show , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 19, 2003

Sit-Down Stand-Up

So, I went home. I took a detour to Roseville so I could pick up North by Northwest on DVD for my Dad. I got Robin Williams: Live on Broadway for myself, though maybe I just should have rented it. It's good, and any of my friends can borrow it, but I probably couldn't watch the whole thing with other people around.. When I watch it again myself, I'll probably have to fast-forward through some bits.

I've always liked what I've been able to see of Robin Williams, so I guess I expected a bit more of the uncensored version of him. There's a lot of good stuff, but running around saying “Fuck off!” every 30 seconds doesn't really rise above the rest. I'm kind of disappointed..

I was remembering that I had high praise for him back in high school. When my graduating class wrote up profiles of ourselves, we were asked to name people we most admire, and I picked him because he could “bring a smile to anyone's face.” I still think that's true, but it might not be all smiles that he brings.

There were moments when I was watching the video and thinking of the kick in the pants I got when, weeks before graduation, my profile somehow randomly got printed right next to the profile of the girl I'd had a crush on all those years. Seeing her face next to mine—sporting huge ugly eyeglasses and dorky grin—did not sit well with me. But hell, she probably threw up when she saw it.

Oh well, I suppse I still managed better in high school than this poor kid.

Posted by mike at 07:30 PM Central | Comedy , Family , Movies , School , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 20, 2003

So That's Where the Variety Show Idea Came From

Here's a neat story about Alf Clausen, the composer for The Simpsons. There's a lot of stuff there about the show that I'd never really considered before..

Posted by mike at 01:21 PM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2003

The Not-So-Great Adventure

Went home. Stuff happened.

I actually got a vacuum cleaner. A Eureka WhirlWind LiteSpeed 5740A, which appears to be highly rated on Epinions. Got it at Sears for $100.

I've used it a little. One of the quietest vacuums I've ever heard (though you can still definitely tell it's a vacuum). My mom was acting jealous when she saw how much stuff it picked up from the floor she'd vacuumed a few days before.. I figure that it was probably just picking up bits of disintegrating carpet, though..

We all watched North by Northwest after our excursion to Sears, and it was a good movie. You get to see a young Martin Landau! I never knew he was young! The cinematography seems so weird, though, since everything pretty much has the feel of being on a soundstage, even though some of it must have been shot outside. I'm not sure if that was the original intention, or if that's just what happened when the film got cleaned up to be put on DVD.

At any rate, it was nice watching it on my parents' TV, which produces a very clear picture. If I remember right, it's the 27" Samsung TXM2796HF. It's a flat-screen CRT that can do progressive scan and possibly better, but the documentation is a bit thin on the precise capabilities. My parents were out looking at TVs and decided on it because it looked much better than the standard interlaced Sony TVs of the same price range. I forget exactly what they paid, probably around $600.

There are a few things I don't like about it, the most prominent of which is the fact that the scan lines start to get bent about halfway down the screen. They start slightly angling like a roof or a caret (^), but the effect seems to get reduced when the CRT warms up.. Still, I was pretty amazed by the image we got while watching the movie.

The TV didn't come with an HDTV tuner, so I'm considering giving one to my parents as a thank-you for giving me way too much money during college.

Posted by mike at 04:14 PM Central | Abode , Family , Hardware , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 10, 2003

Revenge Against Overconfidence

Ugh. I did not sleep very well last night. Sleeping in 5-10 minute bursts is no fun. One of those mornings where you feel like you've woken up enough times for it to be 10:00 or 11:00, but it's still only 6 or so. Any of a number of things could be the source of that trouble..

Well, my Cat 6 cable experiment seems to have made things worse so far, though I haven't managed to swap the connecting cable yet. Yesterday, I'd picked up some DB9 connectors from Radio Shack, but I got male connectors instead of female ones. I guess I'll take another trip out today and get the right stuff. I should go buy some food too.

Oh, and I want to buy Radiohead, which is probably already sold out. Maybe I should go do that at Best Buy, so I can possibly pick up the third season of Deep Space Nine.

I've been reading more about network technologies and buses, learning little bits here and there. I guess InfiniBand isn't quite as fast as I thought, but it still sounds pretty cool. It's basically a cross between a computer bus and a network, so you can share your computer's bus with others. You could access the modem in another machine directly, for instance. This is most interesting for clustering applications..

HyperTransport is pretty wicked-fast, at least on the high end. In theory, I think it could do the same sort of things that InfiniBand does, but I think it's more being designed as an internal system bus rather than a combination internal/external one. At it's core, it uses serial links, though they can be ganged together to make faster connections.

Both the AMD Opteron and the IBM PowerPC 970 are designed to work with HyperTransport. I'm still not quite sure if Intel has some analog of it or not (probably, I just haven't figured out what it is yet).

I've written a few times about various types of Ethernet, but my memory isn't perfect, and some of the sources of information I have aren't complete. I think I may pick up the O'Reilly book Ethernet: The Difinitive Guide at some point.

One of the most interesting things I came across involves a merger of sorts between two long-standing rivals ATA (IDE) and SCSI. Serial ATA drives will be compatible with Serial Attached SCSI. You will be able to mix and match drives. Not exactly sure how you would tell the difference between them, though, or if it's even relevant.

One question I have is, will you be able to use Serial Attached SCSI drives in Serial ATA-based systems? Or does it just go the other way around? If things go both ways, I think the next few years will be an interesting exercise in marketing. How would the cost of one be justified against the other if they're compatible?

Posted by mike at 10:30 AM Central | Food , Hardware , Music , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mike Hicks: The Special Edition

What's with everything having special editions nowadays? Can't we just have one version and be done with it?

I went and got Radiohead's Hail to the Thief and discovered that they have two of them. One appears to have a poster or some sort of pamphlet, but no jewel case. Otherwise, you can just get the (cheaper) standard CD. I just got the regular CD because it was $10, and I was going to try to buy the DS9 third season, which is a story in itself.

Star Trek: The Next Generation had a rainbow color theme to it's boxes. Each box is a different hue. The same is true of Deep Space Nine. Unfortunately for me today, both the second season and the third are green. Season two is a light green, and three is a not-so-light green. I mistakenly picked up season two, so I had to run back and exchange it.. I'm sure a lot of places are having problems with this.. Star Trek geeks are not really known for their good eyesight ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:19 PM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 12, 2003

Radiation

I was surprised when I called up Time Warner Cable to get TV and cable modem service and the guy sounded really confused when I said I wanted to have radio service as well. Not that digital radio stuff, but terrestrial FM radio transmitted over the wire (just like they do with the local TV stations). This was offered by the cable system back in my hometown, so I figured a big outfit like TWC would do it too.

Oh well, they probably wouldn't even carry stations I'd want anyway.

Posted by mike at 02:48 PM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 13, 2003

Newsies

Some silly news stories.

Britney Spears to have inflatable breasts:

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. pop star Britney Spears (news) is to get a pair of inflatable, throbbing breasts that will pulsate in time to her dancing—at least her waxwork model will at Madame Tussauds museum in London.

“There are plans to make a new figure of Britney Spears,” a spokeswoman said on Friday. “She'll be very sexy and she'll have heaving bosoms. But this is only in the very early stages of planning.”

Spike Lee is winning so far

State Supreme Court Justice Walter Tolub on Thursday said Lee presented enough evidence at a hearing this week to warrant a trial to decide the fate of the network's new moniker. Until then, no name change can take place.

But just in case he can't prove his case in the courtroom, Tolub made Lee post a $500,000 bond to cover Viacom's potential losses.

Just out of curiosity, I searched Google Images for “spike” and found a hell of a lot of images of Spike, the character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

Posted by mike at 10:56 AM Central | Internet , News , Spike , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

What Tangled Webs

Just turned on my apartment's air conditioner. I feel accomplishment at waiting this long, though I guess it's nothing really great. I think we once had the A/C running in March when Josh, Dan, and I lived with Seth. Of course, the old U Village apartment was pretty much a big greenhouse.

It's hit 80 degrees inside my apartment daily for the past few weeks—must be too much insulation. It's hit that temperature now, but it's warmer outside and my mom is staying here tonight. She came up yesterday to do some stuff at a quilt show, and slept here last night. I felt bad because my room was a bit cooler than the living room. I suppose that's because of my computers..

Anyway, I dropped her off at RiverCentre in St. Paul this morning, and I'll pick her up before supper.

My car was running on fumes by the time I got back to Minneapolis, so I stopped at the place on 10th and University to get some money (closest TCF ATM to my place these days) and gas.

I went home and finished up watching season 3 of Deep Space Nine. The Star Trek folks really did an excellent job on the extra features..

Then I got some lunch and went over to the IT Career Center to look at some jobs. A few interesting things, but not much.

I stopped by Erin's work to say hello, and went out and sat listening to her and Beth when they went on a smoke break. John came out too, and I tried to pull a name out of him for a job lead, but he couldn't remember who he was thinking of the last time we talked..

Anyway, I'm just glad I decided to stop by there, as I figured that Erin had left already. Hope her (and Beth's) trip goes well.

Posted by mike at 03:08 PM Central | Abode , Dan , Erin , Family , Josh , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2003

Superheroes

Bah, updating too many times today. Oh well.

I just noticed in my parents' copy of tpt Magazine that the British sitcom My Hero will be on the air again. It's a weird bumbling superhero show... The main character is Thermoman, played by Ardal O'Hanlon, who has also been in Father Ted (though I guess I've only seen one episode from that show). He was also on the British version of Whose Line Is It Anyway? a time or two.

Anyway, it's on Monday through Thursday at 10:30 on channel 2. I suppose I might get into the habit of watching it after The Daily Show.

Posted by mike at 11:06 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2003

Wahoo Internet-Fu!

Got bored watching TV, and then Hackers started up on SciFi channel. Watching it reminded me how much I always wanted the soundtrack, but I think it was only available in stores for about a week—three years after the movie came out. Something like that, at least.

Anyway, a simple search for “hackers soundtrack” found it.

Yay for the Internet!

Update: Of course, some of the files are broken, and the soundtrack didn't include all of the music in the movie (there's a track by Massive Attack that wasn't on it—I used to have the Massive Attack CD, though I think one of my friends took it years ago and never gave it back). Must have been replaced by a token rap song or closing credits diddy.

Posted by mike at 11:01 PM Central | Movies , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 22, 2003

Smell-O-Vision

“What's so gay about Greco-Roman wrestling?”

Looks like The Industry (a.k.a. Made in Canada in Canada) isn't on Bravo anymore. It was a pretty entertaining show, based around the antagonistic relationships between some execs in a small TV production outfit. Makes me wonder what other good Canadian programming is out there.

Er, I mean, stuff that only airs in Canada—I have to qualify that since it seems like most American shows are made there anyway...

Posted by mike at 11:22 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 23, 2003

Flagriotism

Flag of the United States of America

For most of the past two years, I've felt that the flag was taken away from me. It's a slight shadow of what my grandmother felt when the Nazis invaded Norway and took over the country.

Hmm. I guess I'd better stop that train of thought before invoking Godwin's Law on myself.

Anyway, the nationalistic fervor finally seems to be dying down. That makes me feel better. Seeing the flag tended to disgust me—especially when mounted on big black SUVs. That sight has slowly dwindled as the nation returns to normal levels of apathy.

Well, perhaps I'm not very different than anyone else. I mentioned in a distant journal entry that a small flag poking out of the side of a building near the Carlson School on the morning of September 11th was a comforting sight for me. Local primaries were being held that day, and the flag was advertising that people could vote there. A little sign of normalcy.

Later in the day, I decided to wander to Dinkytown to see if I could buy a flag somewhere, but I couldn't find one. I'd had the image in my head of walking home carrying the flag over my shoulder, the colors flapping in the breeze as I walked home down University Avenue. I'm not sure what would have really happened if I'd found one, though.

By that evening and the next day, the flag started to represent something abnormal, a discontinuity in the rules by which our society had been governed. The flag often appeared in association with “In God We Trust” and “United We Stand.” In a sense, those are nice sentiments, but they really seemed to go against what the flag itself stood for. The 13 original states and the 50 we have now don't always get along. The flag is in some ways an acknowledgement of that fact.

If I had mounted a flag in our apartment at the time, I wonder what slogan might have gone along with it. Probably nothing at first, but I probably would have needed to differentiate our mindset from that of the others nearby. E pluribus unum could work (I feel it would be less antagonistic than “United We Stand”), but would probably just be a cop-out. “Truth and Justice” would be more along the lines of what I would like to say, but “justice” can be a messy term (and so can “truth” for that matter). “Truth, Peace, and Justice”? Maybe, but that would probably just make me sound like a hippie ;-)

Anyway, the point is that I want my flag back. I think it's time again to see the positive things it represents rather than terrible events of the past.

Hmm.. Some flag regulations I found say that the flag can't be used for advertising. Maybe I can sue Fox News Channel ;-)

Posted by mike at 12:53 PM Central | Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 24, 2003

Men in Tights

I just watched the recording my computer made of Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked last night. A pretty interesting show. I'm sure the History Channel will be running it a lot in the future, and the next showing appears to be on Sunday at 5 PM.

I never got into comic books very much. With the allowance I got as a kid, they always seemed too expensive for me to bother. I suppose I just watched too much TV...

Posted by mike at 12:21 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 28, 2003

Body Snatchers

Left Dan's place, where people were watching Re-Animator. The actor I was thinking of was Jeffrey Combs—he played Weyoun on Deep Space Nine and showed up as an Andorean (sp?) and I think some other species on Enterprise.

Interestingly enough, the character he played in DS9 gets killed off and then comes back (multiple times, I think). Not exactly re-animated, but he got to be on the show a while longer at least...

Posted by mike at 01:30 AM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 29, 2003

I, Consumer

I've been researching various things today. I looked over options for cars a bit more, and figure I will probably end up shooting for a 4-door Volkswagen Golf TDI. I could probably run it on biodiesel if I became so inclined. It's more expensive, but I'd want to do it just because petroleum-derived diesel produces a lot of nasty gases in addition to your standard carbon dioxide and water vapor.

(Dropping away from my “what I'm going to spend my money on” topic for a second, I came across an interesting article on thermal depolymerization or TDP. That's a technique for breaking down almost anything into oil, water, and purified minerals and simple chemicals. Kind of a creepy-sounding process, but it could be a really important technology in the future. It's even supposedly a better way to do petroleum refining, strangely enough! ;-)

I'd like to buy a car outright when I do decide to get one, so that will require me to wait a while (probably two years). But, I wouldn't mind a relatively short-term payout (over 2-4 years, probably) if I had to get something sooner. I suppose I'll wait a year and see how much money I've managed to save.

I went to Best Buy today, mostly to look at car stereos, but I need to research those a bit before deciding on one. I had wanted to get one that would just rip music off of CDs I put in and store it on an internal hard drive, but I think I saw one they had previously, and it cost $1500 or something insane. I think I'll try to go for something a little more standard like a CD player that can handle MP3 CDs, or a deck that can be connected to an XM or Sirius radio receiver. I should figure out which one of those services I'd like more...

I stopped by the television area and decided to shoot for a nice Sony KV-34HS510. Pretty spendy, but the image quality seemed quite a bit better than the other similar sets nearby. I'll have to research what all it has for connectors—the display model cycled through about 10 inputs, but I need to figure out how many of them can work (hopefully full resolution) with a computer. It'll take me a while to save up money for that, too. I'll see how things look in 2 or 3 months.

Posted by mike at 06:59 PM Central | Car , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 08, 2003

Improving Your Image

Hey hey hey! Finally got a scanner going at work today. A Jade2 made by Linotype-Hell (yes, that was a real company—though it was probably bought out by Umax at some point). So, I was really happy, until I connected the scanner to another computer. The thing just refused to work with the software I had. Bah.

Well, that other computer has different stuff on it, and lots of things are proving to be incompatible. Then again, at least one thing is working on that machine that isn't working on the other one (hey, they fixed a bug.. woo!)

I'm considering getting a DV camera, though I suppose I probably won't. I hardly ever take still pictures, and find very little need to do movies, but it would be fun to play with video editing. Well, I suppose if I come across a cheap one...

Heh, of course, it would be really fun to get one of those HDTV cameras, though they only cost $3000 or so ;-)

Hmm.. I notice that there is a big mix of 24fps versus 30/60fps cameras out there for HDTV. Obviously, the 24fps cameras are for people who want to do film without film, and the other cameras are for everyone else. I just wonder if some people are going to feel pissed off if they get the type they didn't expect..

Hmm.. That train of thought doesn't make much sense. I guess it's getting late for me...

Posted by mike at 10:05 PM Central | Hardware , Movies , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 23, 2003

Video Killed the Radio Star

Okay, I think I figured out how people can watch the video I made, so here goes… Note that it will only be available for a few days.

The video is a conversation (22 MB) between Bill Moyers and two British historians, Niall Ferguson and Simon Schama. They give a little perspective on Tony Blair's visit last week, and compare the current Imperial America to Imperial Britain of centuries past. I thought it was really interesting, but maybe that's just because I really like learning about history.

To play the video, I think that all you need is the ffdshow software, but I'm not entirely sure. I installed the ffvfw codec and it didn't seem to do anything. Then I installed ffdshow, and stuff worked (though on my desktop system at work, it showed the video upside down—fortunately there's a video output filter that fixes that! ;-)

Anyway, I'd recommend installing ffdshow first, and only install ffvfw if ffdshow didn't work. These are just codecs, not real programs. You just need to load my video in Windows Media Player or whatever to play it. Well, once the codecs work right at least. Even if the video doesn't work properly, the audio should work (it's MP3).

Installing ffdshow is easy, just download it and then double-click on the .exe.

There's a configuration dialog for ffdshow, which you might need to look at. I forget the exact name of the utility, but getting to it is something like

Start→Programs→ffdshow→ffdshow configuration

ffvfw is a tiny bit more complicated. First, download it, then extract it to some temporary location with your favorite unzipper (i.e. WinZip). Lastly, right-click on the .inf file and select Install.

For anyone who cares, the video was encoded with the MPEG4 codec from the FFMPEG project (it at least explains all of the “f”s in the names of the software I was talking about). The audio is approximately 96kbit/s stereo MP3, and the video was encoded at about 40kbit/s.

Posted by mike at 06:28 PM Central | Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 01, 2003

Die Another Day

Hmm. I must remember to go and buy the fourth season of Deep Space Nine on the 5th (or soon after). Hopefully I'll be able to get one that has the bonus DVD (I've gotten them for every other season so far).

Hopefully I'll have money to pay for it…

I thought my workstation here had gone schizophrenic earlier today, as it was only showing the system updates available about 1/4th of the time when I went to Windows Update. Turned out that the proxy firewall I had been using for IE wasn't working…

I hate proxies. Well, 99% of the time.

I think that an Apple G5 has been ordered for us, but I have no idea when it will show up here. That'll be fun.

Posted by mike at 11:55 AM Central | Hardware , Money , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 04, 2003

Become One with the Static

Weird mind-block day today. I'm stuck between two different projects at work, so nothing is happening today other than random miscellany.

I've tried to get a jump start on some stuff for the upcoming project, but I keep finding out that Microsoft Office applications never like to print the same way twice. Also, dealing with the errors like “blah can't be deleted because it is in use” gets to be annoying (that error is very uncommon in the Unix world). I was trying to rename a folder where one of the files inside it was open, and the system got mad at me.

I hope my paycheck arrives today. That would make going out to buy DS9 at Best Buy much less stressful tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 03:04 PM Central | Money , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 05, 2003

To the Power of Foo

Well, after my last entry, the neighbor upstairs became eerily quiet. I ended up in my bed, and slept pretty well until 1 or so, but kept tossing and turning the rest of the night. Probably has something to do with the massive amounts of sugar I ate that evening…

I was really hungry after work, but went home to make a pizza. However, in the 25 minutes it took to preheat and then cook, I'd devoured some fruit snacks and half a bag of gummi Life Savers. Probably won't do anything for my waistline. Then again, neither will the pizza ;-)

I ended up just eating two slices of 'za and putting the rest away in the fridge. I suppose I can eat that instead of going out tonight and feel slightly less bad when I look at my bank balance after buying DS9.

I got some music at Best Buy the other day. I got a CD by Nickel Creek, because I'd heard their awesome “Smoothie Song” in a few places. Unfortunately, when I listen to the rest of the CD, I get the same creepy feeling I get when I hear Christian rock, so I'm not sure if that was the greatest purchase in the world. I got another disc by Maroon 5 (who are apparently billed as The Strokes of Hollywood). That one seems to be better overall, but it feels like they're playing tricks on me, using musical techniques that they know will get people's attention. A few songs sound amazingly like Red Hot Chili Peppers, while some others remind me a lot of Jamiroquai, other songs I can't place, but they sound very familiar…

I see Sarah has become one of the collective and started a LiveJournal account now. I think interlinked online journals are a really interesting result of giving everyone Internet access, although I'm sure more than a few people get freaked out by it at first.

Technology pundits (especially media consolidation apologists) have talked a lot about the Internet being a place where anyone can publish, but except for a relatively small number of sites that generated some traffic, few people really believed that it had any effect. Weblogs change the equation. Most sites still don't generate much traffic, but the important thing is that the people who do read the sites do so on a regular basis.

Or maybe I'm just sleepy and talking out my ass.

Posted by mike at 06:48 AM Central | Abode , Internet , Music , Sarah , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 06, 2003

Postal

I went to Best Buy to get DS9, which they did have, but I had to ask a guy to go look in back for it. Unfortunately, there was no bonus DVD with it, though I'm not sure if there's even supposed to be one for season four. Anyway, I put it on the shelf and left, so I could more appropriately judge the situation before shelling out cash for something when I want the better version…

I got a paycheck today, for the first two weeks of work. The check is dated Monday and the envelope is postmarked yesterday. So, I'll call off the dogs tomorrow once I get back to work.

The unnerving thing is that it's just a check, not the fancy pay stub thing you get for most jobs. I guess that means I'll have to learn more about taxes than I ever wanted to know. What fun.

Posted by mike at 06:45 PM Central | TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 15, 2003

Terminated

Heh. I like this story.

The Sci-Fi Channel in the United States has cancelled an Arnold Schwarzenegger day after the star announced his intention to run for governor of California.

Instead of Terminator 2, The Running Man and Conan the Destroyer, viewers will see a day of California disaster movies.

Emphasis mine.

Posted by mike at 08:55 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 21, 2003

Ooooo It's Soooo Biiiig

Lots of worm-related antics at work today. It appears that none of the systems I touch on a regular basis had any problems, but the programmers upstairs got their Ethernet ports shut off.

Despite some alarmist news reports to the contrary, the thing seems to be slowing down—I got about half as many bounce messages today as I got yesterday.

I got Bowling for Columbine at Target today, so I might watch it later.

Dum de dum dum.

Oooo! HDTV!

Posted by mike at 07:59 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 24, 2003

Total World Domination

Well, that pcHDTV card I talked about has hit Slashdot. I was going to send a link, but I decided to wait until my card arrives before advertising it to the world too much. It should show up at work on Monday.

Now, I'm in the process of designing an appropriate home theater PC that has the necessary CPU power to decode the video stream nicely. This will be a challenge, since I also ultimately want to have a system that is quiet. I think I've figured out what I want for the base system, though. Probably going to get an Athlon XP 3000+ running on a VIA KT600-powered motherboard. That gives me all the goodies like USB2, FireWire, Serial ATA, and whatnot. I would go for an nVidia nForce2-based system since they're faster, but nVidia only has closed-source drivers for some stuff, and nVidia motherboards apparently don't play nicely with non-nVidia video cards, at least in Linux.

I am looking at getting one of the wacky Zalman fan-shaped CPU coolers, but I guess the extreme size of these heatsinks could actually damage the CPU in certain situations. However, they're very quiet.

It would be awesome to get one of the Ahanix cases, but they're very spendy. I'm still hunting for a good power supply and some good fans as well, but I guess I can't find all of the parts I want right away—I may have to try a few different things before I get things just the way I like.

But, once everything is set up properly, it should last me a long time. The PC would replace the functionality of several A/V components, and it would be infinitely configurable and expandable.

This is one happy day ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:29 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , Movies , Music , MythTV , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 26, 2003

The Revolution Will Be Digitized

Well, I guess my package has gotten through Des Moines. Maybe it'll show up in the morning, maybe the afternoon. It'd be nice to get it early, but then I would just want to leave early that much more ;-)

Of course, it's likely that my efforts will be for naught, as reception sucks when you're in an apartment halfway underground. Still, I hear that miraculous things can happen with $3 bow-tie antennas from Radio Shack (digital transmissions generally go in the UHF band). I've only got bunny ears at the moment, so we'll see what else I can find.

Now let's see if my “forward thinking” boss will declare again today that 4:45 is in fact 5 o'clock. Heh.

Posted by mike at 04:36 PM Central | Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 27, 2003

Use the Wand of Power

Got my package. Woo! Now I'll spend the next week trying out various antennae ;-)

Hopefully I'll be able to pick up at least one station. We'll see how that goes. According to AntennaWeb, most of the stations in the Twin Cities are 45-50° from north at my apartment. Not exactly the best angle.

I got my car checked out today. At my last oil change, a guy had suggested that I get a new gasket for the transmission fluid pan, since there was some seepage there. I'd also thought that I had felt the car acting strangely. But, I guess the guy was just trying to milk me for some money, as the repairman I talked to today couldn't stop saying what “beautiful” condition the car was in. He said that there was some seepage, like the other guy had said, but that's just a normal thing—especially for an older car like mine.

The most valuable thing was getting the mechanic's advice on what sorts of warning signs would actually exist if the fluid went low. One thing is that the fluid can change color—actually burning up a bit if the transmission starts slipping. Another consequence of the slippage would be having the engine rev up without making the car go any faster. That behavior would first be noticed when going around curves, as fluid would slosh to one side, making it hard for the sump to pull fluid out of the bottom of the transmission.

Now I feel better knowing for certain that the car is in good shape.

Watch me go out and hit a deer :-p

Posted by mike at 02:02 PM Central | Car , Hardware , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Zoboomafoo

Well my tuner card works. It probably doesn't have the greatest tuner in the world, but I've been able to get it to have a suitable signal on 4 channels: KTCI-16, WFTC-21, KMSP-26, and KTCA-34, though they tend to need slightly different antenna locations/orientations (of course). Two or three other channels taunt me by being just under the threshold. I'm curious if an amplifier would help with that, but it would probably just make things worse.

I'd really like to be able to pick up the big 3 networks, though I'll have to see what can be done with the ones I am able to receive. So far, the software I have has only been able to decode 480i programming. Higher resolutions seem to make the player app go nuts. But, I entirely expected some problems… Besides, the important thing is that the hardware works.

Anyway, I picked up a nifty looking antenna at Best Buy. People seemed to like it from what I read online, so I got it. It's kind of entertaining wandering through the apartment with it, since I almost feel like I'm carrying a divining rod…

Unfortunately, it sounds like the encoding method used for American broadcast digital TV is not well suited for urban environments. It outperforms the European standard over long distances, but people just a few miles from the tower can have problems.

Ah, America…

Posted by mike at 10:29 PM Central | Hardware , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 29, 2003

t.A.T.u.s Don't Go Away

Um.

I've only seen stills of it, but there was this whole thing at the MTV VMAs with Britney, Christina, and Madonna. Then it suddenly became very Britney and very Madonna, and then very Christina and very Madonna.

This whole lesbian fad is just becoming disturbing…

Posted by mike at 10:39 AM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

August 30, 2003

Who Wants to Marry a Computer Geek

First off, some linkage. People interested in HDTV in the Twin Cities area should go take a look at TPT's bulletin board. Lots of good information, and it looks like techs from most or all of the local stations hang out there. 2-channel audio working fine, but Dolby Digital 5.1 dropping out? Mention it there and they'll fix it ;-)

Another site, HDTV Twin Cities has some info on how to get high definition video in this area, whether from cable, satellite, or air. They have a convenient listing of what formats the local stations are broadcasting in.

I tried to show off my HDTV tuner card to my family, since they were up for moving my brother into his dorm room, but the curse of technology demos hit me, and nothing happened with it.

I think I'm going to assemble a new box over the next week or two to test it out more thoroughly.

Okay, back to less costly things. Sort of.

I chatted with an old friend of mine from marching band. I guess she's getting married in about a month and a half, and is going nuts with She mentioned that some other people from the band had gotten hitched recently. I suppose that if I got around to catching up with people I knew then, I'd hear all sorts of similar stories, which is, y'know…

I'll have to get out and do something this weekend. I've been getting kind of bored.

Posted by mike at 06:26 PM Central | Hardware , School , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 01, 2003

Brainwashing

The washing machine in my apartment building is disintegrating. The left rear corner is missing, so it now precariously balances on two feet, sometimes having the third remaining foot tap the floor. The machine sprung a leak at some point, and the one corner rusted to pieces. I'm not sure how quickly that happened. But, the thing worked just fine when I did laundry today. I expected it to skitter across the laundry room, but it behaved itself quite nicely.

It looks like Sony just came out with a 36" version of the TV I have been looking at getting. But, while the image appears to be a 16:9 display, the website seems convinced that it is a 4:3 display. The bigger TV seems to be less expensive than the smaller one. Weird. No sense in committing to getting it if I can't determine what sort of a thing the display actually is…

Still, I'm getting a bit concerned with weight. The 34" television is just over 200 lbs., while the 36" version is 230. Eep. I doubt I'd be comfortable moving either of those with any less than 3 people on hand.

Or maybe it just gives me an excuse to work out, har har.

My brain did not want to shut off last night. Maybe I'd had too much caffeine, or the Fair food I had for lunch was catching up with me. Somehow, I managed to combine self-pity for lacking a girlfriend with thought experiments regarding the behavior of photons speeding across an expanding universe.

Such is the life of a geek.

Posted by mike at 02:58 PM Central | Abode , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2003

'Cuz Stacy's Mom Has Got It Goin' On

Hey! I bought food today! I have stuff to eat! I even got some reasonable snackish stuff…

Anyway, the s00per s3kr1t project at work is progressing and taking up most of my time, but that will change over the next few days. They're still researching stuff in order to figure out what they're going to research. But, people are already saying “Wow,” which is good.

I'm hoping to get paid soon, but I'm debating whether or not to get going on my big PVR/TV project. Well, I'd mostly just like to get a new computer set up for TV recording, so my desktop's CPU doesn't get so pummeled all of the time.

Then again, it looks like my parents might start pushing for me to get a car (most likely used if anything has to happen in the near future).

Hmmph.

Posted by mike at 11:39 PM Central | Car , Food , Hardware , MythTV , TV , Work | Comments (188) | TrackBack (0)

September 15, 2003

Ben Dover

Over the weekend, I posted this story to Slashdot. While it seems like just another whiny “I want my open source!” rant, I guess a lot of people missed the point I was trying to get at. And that's understandable, as I only wrote one paragraph worth of stuff when I probably should have opted for two.

As any audio-, video-, or other technophile knows, the FCC has mandated that broadcasters in the United States transition toward digital transmission of television. However, the standard being used in the United States for actually transmitting the signal (how the binary digits are encoded in the air) is not well-suited for city environments. People out in the boondocks 70 miles from a tower will probably get better signal than city dwellers ten times closer. Companies are working hard to tweak their hardware to handle these situations better, but in the meantime, I started wondering about how digital cable will work in the future.

Right now, if you have an analog TV set, you merely plug it in and tell it that it's connected to a cable TV system. Ta-da! It works.

However, digital cable is a completely different story today. You need a digital cable box, and many of those boxes are sub-par devices. When I last used a cable box in Minneapolis, it was impossible to hide or remove unwanted channels&mdasheven channels we didn't receive! The guide would sometimes freeze up while it loaded data, and various other annoyances would bother me from time to time, but I'd deal with it because the guide was better than nothing, and it let me see another two or three channels that I actually liked.

Yeah, most of the channels on digital cable suck, so there's the growing idea that the entire cable TV system will transition to being digital. In some ways that's good, but, as my Slashdot post indicated, this will be another battlegrounds where the media conglomerates are pushing for more and more control.

I'd be perfectly happy if I could only get non-premium channels with a digital cable tuner that I put in my computer. I don't need HBO and certain other channels, and even if I felt the need, they've always been accessed via extra descramblers anyway. However, the prospect of having no direct access to the video stream bothers me. It's hard to describe why, but it's like having someone say, “You can't read this book, you can only have an approved person read this to you.” What is this, the Reformation? Is some distant descendant of Martin Luther going to plaster technical documentation on the Internet now?

I dunno, it just creeps me out. I know that at least one father of a friend built his own NTSC TV set, and it was treasured as a family heirloom. Big companies just seem to be pushing so hard against that idea of individual experimentation that I cringe. The future seems like it's going to turn into another dark age.

Well, maybe it won't happen. While the American people tend to be deaf, dumb, and sheep-like, they do eventually take notice of things when beat over the head with them. We'll see if the public keels over and gives up their VCRs in the coming years.

Posted by mike at 10:02 PM Central | Corporations , Encryption , MythTV , Software , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 17, 2003

Max Headroom

Well, I got another part to my monster media machine, bringing me to a grand total of two. Or one, if I decide that the hard drive I got a few weeks ago is too loud. I got the hard drive because it was cheap (er, after a rebate I haven't sent in yet, oops), but after buying it, I discovered that certain Seagate drives are lauded for their very quiet operation.

I got a video card today, a Matrox G550. Perhaps not the best choice, but I know Matrox cards do a good job at TV-out (better than nVidia cards), and it also has a DVI output for when I get that HDTV. One problem, though, is that they apparently don't handle having a DVI connection and a TV connection at the same time very well. It was mentioned somewhere that if the two heads on the card have large differences in pixel clock speeds (how many pixels per second are being sent out), one of the heads loses sync and then goes black.

I plan to only use one or the other, rather than both at the same time, so that shouldn't affect me.

So, I've got about 8 more parts to get (depending on how you count). This will take a while.

Posted by mike at 06:53 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 18, 2003

Fear My Cape of Doom

Hurricane Isabel is making landfall, so don't be surprised to see those silly television reporters standing out on beaches in the next day or so (I'm sure they've been doing it for a day or so already).

There's just something very strange about someone willingly standing out in the wind and rain, if only to show how hard it is to stand up.

I forget who it was (probably a “reporter” for Channel One), but I once saw someone doing a piece where he stood in a wind tunnel and stood up to hurricane-force winds. The big joke afterwards was that he had so much goop on his head that his hair stayed perfect through the whole thing ;-)

Posted by mike at 09:26 AM Central | News , TV , The Media , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2003

Join the Collective

Horror of horrors. I'm going to try and watch the Emmys this year. I know there's some reason why I decided to watch (probably presence of Jon Stewart as one of the many hosts and the nomination of The Daily Show for a few things).

Earlier today, my brother and I helped my Dad paint another side of the house today. It started raining lightly, so we went inside for a break. At least it didn't rain hard, so the paint didn't get messed up at all.

Posted by mike at 06:45 PM Central | Daily Show , Family , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 28, 2003

Beware of Cute Lesbians

Went down to Uptown again today, after seeing Lost in Translation yesterday. Finally replaced my missing Massive Attack CD—I think a high school friend had borrowed Protection years ago, but I guess he never gave it back. Then again, I never paid him the $20 I was supposed to for that broken portable CD player.

I got some other music too, and tried out the Chipotle in the neighborhood (they just keep pulling me back in). Amazingly enough, they actually have their own parking lot! Shock of shocks. It was also nifty to discover that it's right across the street from the Brave New Workshop. I might have to go see their current project, Total Recall 2: The Governator.

Hmm. Did anyone see the TV ad that had Jesse in it, making fun of the California stuff? I don't even remember what product it was marketing.

Another TV ad that sticks in my head is this recent Pier 1 ad with Kirstie Alley in it, wearing some clothes that look disturbingly like Scientology uniforms. I have no idea if that's intentional or what…

In other news, I need someone to drop me a LiveJournal code, so I can make an account to see people's protected entries. I still plan to use my own website for journaling, although Movable Type seems to be a bit slow now that I have several hundred entries…

Posted by mike at 03:07 PM Central | Brian D , Food , Internet , Movies , Music , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2003

Brought to You by Glagnar's Human Rinds

Hmm. Interesting.

A possible response by TV networks to PVR devices such as TiVo is a simple one: change the name of your TV shows. This week, people who have machines set up to record “Enterprise” won't get anything. The name of the show has been changed to “Star Trek: Enterprise.”

Before you know it, TV shows will have names resembling subject lines of junk mail messages ;-)

I figured out the problem I was working on yesterday. Mostly, the solution involved plugging in a thing I forgot to plug in last week. Doh.

We went through and moved a bunch of USB and SCSI stuff off of the shelves at work, and then took down the shelves. Our main storage closet is very empty now.

At least I got paid yesterday :-D

Posted by mike at 09:15 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 03, 2003

Epoch Shakur

It's the end of an era. Granted, the era was only a few months long…

The TiVo has been disconnected at work, and the big TVs have been put back in their original boxes. However, we have no shortage of computer monitors. I estimate that there are 100 functional displays at that place. Not bad for a site with a dozen people ;-)

Otherwise, not much…

Samwise Gamgee

A brave and loyal associate full of optimism, you remain true to your friends and their efforts, to whatever end.

Edit: I took the test a few times, changing variables that I think would be affected by my mood rather than my ethics. Other possibilities: Legolas Greenleaf and Gandalf from LoTR, as well as Marcus Cole and Delenn from B5.

Yeah, that's cheating.

Posted by mike at 07:56 PM Central | Movies , TV , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 07, 2003

Where's Mothra?

Next Wednesday, October 15th, will probably be my last day of work. In addition, I might not work Thursday and Friday this week, since most people will be gone taking classes provided by Adaptec for job-hunting.

The Asian ladybeetles are taking over in Hudson. There are usually several crawling over my car at the end of the day. Some co-workers and I took a short peek inside Wal-Mart today, and one of them flicked one off. It promptly attacked my forehead…

Oh, and apparently you can say ‘fucking’ on broadcast TV, as long as you're not referring to sex.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM Central | TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 08, 2003

Where's Dogbert When You Need Him?

A guy came into work today, apparently to assist in the shutdown of the site. It seems that he does that on a regular basis—traveling to sites that have been shut down, or that will be shut down, and handling some of the dirty work. He told some stories about how other people hadn't taken losing their jobs so well in the past, and just left huge messes in their wake.

I suppose the implication is that we are all pushovers for orderly doing what we're told, going down without a fight, etc.

Mostly, it just bugs me that this guy has done this at least a few times before. It's as though the company has a “shutdown squad”—probably not a bad idea, just a very creepy one.

Anyway, during our daily escape for lunch, we drove around some of the subdivisions under development in Hudson. I'll never understand the need to have a 45° slope (or greater) on a roof. I have no desire for my house to look like a church.

But, after getting pissed off by the appearance of what passes for housing these days, we drove through some of the back roads and got a hint of the fall colors. Just yesterday, I had been thinking that it would be nice to come back over the weekend to do a trip to see the leaves, but the leaves seem to be turning very quickly. The change from yesterday to today seemed very dramatic to me. Maybe the fairly low amount of rain we've gotten this year has something to do with that.

I think I'm going to go buy some more hardware for my PVR project over the weekend. My pocketbook will take a hit, but I'm really desiring the opportunity to have an extra system around to experiment with. I expect I'll continue using my main box for TV recording for quite a while, until I work out some bugs.

It's very difficult to do fairly low-level software development on a machine you depend on every day. I just need some more flexibility.

Oh, and LiveJournal appears to only be contacting my site every 24 hours for updates. It looks like their servers download my syndication feed at 5:30 PM, which is just around the time I usually get back from work. So, many of my updates will appear to be nearly a day behind now.

Bleh

Posted by mike at 11:57 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 12, 2003

It Is a Good Shrubbery

Well, I finally got high-resolution video playing back on my computer. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite seem to be flowing at full framerate yet. Looks like the Linux drivers for my motherboard's AGP slot need some work. In addition, the video drivers for my Matrox G550 have a limitation of a video size of 1024x1024. I'm not sure if that's a hardware limitation, or just an arbitrary limit that the driver author put in. Even if there is a hardware limitation, I wonder if it could be worked around in some way for 1280x720 video, which contains fewer pixels than a 1024x1024 square.

However, an alternative which already exists is to use the “texture engine” instead of doing traditional video overlay. This has advantages and disadvantages. With the G550 driver, this goes up to nearly 2048x2048. Also, you get gamma correction in the video output automatically. However, video doesn't seem to be synchronized with the scan of the monitor, so you get a shearing effect where, say, the top half of the screen is one frame of video, and the bottom half is the other. I'd get that problem with video overlay, but it was much less frequent. In addition, it just seems to be more CPU intensive, and scaling the video away from the “native” resolution slows the frame rate pretty dramatically.

I think I've finally figured out a good method for watching the video stream without the player crashing every 60 seconds when some corrupted data is received. It's amazing enough that I get a usable signal after it has been bounced off the school across the street—I have to expect some data loss (line-of-sight to the tower goes almost straight through the whole building I'm in).

So, I've been watching soothing high-definition video for the past hour. And it really is soothing—way too many pictures of nature scenes for you to think that this is being broadcast in 2003. In fact, there are so many flowers in the test streams that TPT sends out that you'd think HDTV was a pet project for a botanist (one short video was called On the Azalea Trail). Then again, there's so much green, you'd think that it was done by a golfer.

Now, I just need to figure out what needs to be tweaked so the video plays back more smoothly…

Posted by mike at 11:29 PM Central | Hardware , Software , TV , XFree | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 13, 2003

Instruments of Death

Spent some time at work this morning determining the terminal velocity of 800-page reference manuals sliding down a tarp. Yeah, this building doesn't have an elevator, so we tried to make a chute to get everything to the front door. It sort of worked. We'd hoped to get it all of the way to the door, but ended up just using it to have books land somewhat more softly than if they'd just been dropped straight to the floor.

Last night, I got high-def video playing back at full framerate 99% of the time on my new machine. Mostly, I just went into the BIOS and told it to load “performance” settings. However, doing that increased the voltages to the CPU, AGP slot, and RAM, so I'm thinking I'll have to go in and tweak things in more detail. The video still jerks every so often, but there are several reasons why that could be happening. The video stream might be getting garbled, and I'm pretty sure my monitor is running at 60 Hertz rather than the 59.94 Hz that is appropriate for TV. I think I'm going to see if I can convince my monitor to work at 1920x1440 interlaced, hopefully it will go at the proper 29.97/59.94 frequency.

A coworker got sick of the “I ♥ my Cub” stickers everywhere, so he went and found the appropriate font on some random disc he had, and made a few things saying simply “Cub sucks.”

Okay, it doesn't sound like much, but the font really makes the whole thing come together…

Posted by mike at 04:02 PM Central | Comedy , Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 14, 2003

One Headlight (sort of)

I had a minor incident with my car yesterday. I was just a few blocks from home, driving down 4th St when I got stuck behind a moving van-style truck trying to turn onto the I-35W exit ramp. I guess the ramp lights must have been turned on, because he didn't go forward like I expected, and one of the posts hanging down in back of the truck clipped my headlamp and hood.

The damage is minor, but a quick glance at part prices on the Internet did not make me happy. Presumably, junkyard parts would be a lot cheaper (plus, I don't necessarily need to replace the hood, though it would be nice to have it look normal). Anyway, I'll get the car looked at on Thursday or Friday, and get the headlamp replaced as quickly as I can (though, amazingly, neither bulb broke—just the glass enclosure). I'm still thinking about what I want to do about the hood.

I brought my new computer to work today, just to see how well it works with a moderately good rooftop antenna. I could pick up a signal on every channel, though a few of them didn't always work very well. I'm not sure if that's due to a poor cable or what. I know that the analog channels had some pretty nasty junk pop up from time to time. Anyway, in a few days, I hope to bring the system down to my parents' place and see what sort of a signal I get there. On good days, they probably get as good or better reception than we have in Hudson (my parents have a bigger antenna and an amplifier), but it's hard to say how powerful the digital stations are in comparison…

Lots more stuff going into the dumpster today at work, although things seemed to have a lot more value today. A bunch of FibreChannel cards and other adapters that should probably be recycled rather than trashed (actually, the whole dumpster is largely paper and computer equipment). However, it looks like anyone looking to go dumpster diving will have to sift through a huge amount of stuff to get anything useful.

Oh, almost forgot. I plucked a copy of NeXTStep out of the stuff sliding down our makeshift chute today. I'll have to see if it is a full copy of a version appropriate for Dan's NeXT box.

Edit: Well, it turned out that the NeXT software was for i486/Pentium, so it went into the dumpster.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM Central | Car , Dan , Family , Hardware , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 16, 2003

Shaq Would Not Approve

Yesterday was my last day of work. Nothing really special happened, though I just got my farewell handshakes from the crew there. Today, I started my job search anew, after stopping by Carlson to visit my old boss. We went out for lunch with some other guys there, and he explained some of the things they'd been working on. They had quite a time dealing with the Windows worms that broke out over the summer, but they had set up a separate virtual LAN to quarantine systems that got infected. He also mentioned the ways they're trying to avoid paying an arm and a leg for Oracle software. A quarter million dollars for a cluster of just a few systems? Uh, no thanks.

After that, I wandered over to the East Bank and did a quick search through the job postings at the I.T. Career Center. Not a whole lot of interesting stuff. Most of their postings were months old, which was pretty disappointing to see.

I wandered farther east to Tran Micro and picked up some fans for the new computer I've been fiddling with, though I had to backtrack a ways because I forgot to stop by the cash machine on the way there. I paid with a new $20, which got a comment or two.

For my trip back west, I took a detour back to the West Bank and stopped by Sarah's workplace just to see what's up. I hadn't seen the new system there yet, so that was pretty neat to see. I also told her that I'd seen Josh on the way into campus earlier in the day, and explained some of what he'd told me about our court case against Joe. Too bad it might get extended yet again, but it was nifty to hear that pretty much the Eischenses and Joe are the only landlords that the University wants out of their system.

I went home and tried to rest a bit, but remembered that I was hoping to go out and look for an S-Video to RCA adapter. I've been trying to get my Matrox G550 to output to my small TV, but I only have an RCA input on that thing. I have a VGA to S-Video and RCA that came with my G400, but it doesn't seem to work right. I don't get anything out of the RCA jack on it. I have a 7-pin S-Video to RCA adapter that came with another card, but it must be wired differently than the 7-pin output on my G400 adapter.

Anyway, I went to RadioShack and brought one to the counter. I forget the exact price the cashier told me, but it was approaching $30. Uh, what? A cheap (though out-of-spec) connector can be made with a few wires and a strategically placed capacitor. There's no reason for it to cost that much (the cashier said, “well, there's a computer in there,” and I just rolled my eyes), and I don't even know if the adapter would fix the problems I'm having. I'll have to lug my computer somewhere where there's a TV with an S-Video input, or maybe I'll just swap the video cards in my desktop and this new system temporarily (since I know that this card can do TV-out to RCA just fine).

Posted by mike at 06:17 PM Central | Hardware , Internet , Josh , Sarah , School , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 20, 2003

Looking for My Free Lunch

I called home today, since I had missed a call from my parents yesterday and didn't notice until late last night. Turns out that my aunt out in Arizona had gone through some surgery to remove a (benign) tumor and repair damage done due to its presence (bad things happen when your intestines try to expel something that is attached to them). Anyway, she's recovering now, and my grandmother jetted off to help her through the next few weeks. My mom is planning to head down on Election Day to see her (heh, at least this is an off-year).

I also chatted with a friend of mine down in Rochester who knows a thing or two about cars. He's going to look into getting a replacement headlight for cheap, which is awesome. Of course, I just get the feeling that he'll see the damage and say, “Oh, that's nothing.”

Which is exactly why I'd like him to do it for/with me rather than paying an arm and a leg for some collision place to do it.

I decided to go RF hunting and found a good spot in my apartment to receive ABC, so I ended up recording Alias tonight. I was amazed at how grainy it looked in hi-def, but I guess that's not unexpected for such a low-light series… Even with a gamma-corrected display, it was hard to see anything through some parts of the episode.

Hm. It's late.

Posted by mike at 01:23 AM Central | Car , Family , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mux Me

Spent most of the day cursing the fact that something “standard” is not necessarily something free. I've been hunting all over for snippets of information on the different ways of encapsulating MPEG-2 video and audio, in an effort to more thoroughly understand how the video stream coming from my digital TV tuner card goes through the rest of my computer to be displayed on the screen. That stuff works okay, but it's nowhere near where I'd like it to be, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can so that I can improve things. But, the lack of definitive information is just frustrating…

Posted by mike at 11:54 PM Central | Hardware , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 21, 2003

PSIP TSID

More demuxing work today. I've gotten far enough to see that TPT has encoded their time stuff wrong, indicating that daylight savings time ends at midnight on the 30th. Another channel is closer, indicating 2 AM on the 27th. But, at least one of the channels I've looked at is in fact giving the correct time and date of 2 AM on the 26th.

I've been learning a lot of interesting stuff. There are fields for transmitting electronic program guides both for over-the-air and cable, and the cable one even has a little flag for folks with A/B cable. There was also some work put into figuring out how to insert the EPG into the VBI of an analog broadcast, not that anyone will ever implement that…

Well, mostly just nuts-n-bolts work today. If I can stick with it, maybe I'll put together something neat, but I guess this is mostly just an exercise to stretch my programming muscle.

Like my real muscles, I'm not sure if I'm impressed or not yet…

Posted by mike at 11:05 PM Central | Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 22, 2003

You Must Ask Yourself, “What Would Boy George Do?”

Got an E-vite to a Halloween party, but I'm not sure what to do with that. I'm not a Halloween person. I generally feel incompatible with costumes. The most creative idea I've had would be to do the Tom Hanks character in Castaway, but Mike and shirtless is not a good combination. Especially if it's cold out.

I picked at the car a bit today, removing some more broken glass from the headlight. The car really doesn't look too bad, but it's unfortunate that the hit had to happen. I'm pretty sure I had been thinking “this car is in great condition” not long before the accident happened. Unfortunately, as much as having a pristine hood would make me happy, the cost of fixing it outweighs the benefit by a pretty wide margin.

Anyway, I picked the glass away to discover that it was attached with a few small clips, along with some pretty hefty adhesive. Removing enough of the glass and to put on new glass without damaging the (fiberglass?) assembly would be nearly impossible.

I drove out intending to buy some food (but mostly some beverages), but ended up buying the Indiana Jones set (along with some beverages). Now I just need to reattach my monitor to my main system so I can actually watch the DVDs.

Hmm. I could just attach my laptop to the monitor.

Anyway, my monitor is missing because it's in my bedroom attached to the new machine so I can play with HDTV stuff. If I had a job, I might just get a new monitor (actually, more likely an HDTV), but I don't. Hmm. Motivation to look for a job.

Still slowly slogging through the process of decoding the MPEG stream my digital TV tuner card spits out. Late last night, I figured out how to decode the short channel names used by broadcasters (like “TPT Wx,” “KSTP-DT,” etc.), and today I worked on decoding some more similar information. I'm almost at the point where I can actually seek through a stream, pick out the “programs” (basically subchannels), and demultiplex the packets I actually want. Some of this stuff just seems to be way more complicated than it should be.

I guess this is being difficult for me because I'm trying to go for a 100% implementation of functionality. All you need to know to decode a stream and watch something is about 10%, but the other 90% is sometimes useful. In order to do things properly, I've been slogging through a good portion of the 90% in preparation for doing the 10%. Well, this doesn't mean that I'm 90% done, just that I've already got a better foundation than most of the other software I've found.

Of course, progress has slowed today as I bothered to turn on my TV to see what was on. I Love the 80s Strikes Back took up much of the evening.

I Love the 80s Addendum: Snausages.

Posted by mike at 11:04 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Movies , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 29, 2003

Fight Fight Fight. Bite Bite Bite.

The team behind The Simpsons were almost sued by Fox News Channel for their fake news crawls (NPR interview ~6:00)? Priceless. That conglomerate has some serious issues to work out.

Spent the afternoon helping Adam install Debian on his old machine. I hope I didn't take control too much, but I could tell that it wasn't the best first impression of a Linux install. Oh well, that's Debian for ya.

I managed to snag a LiveJournal code from him, so I now have a user account there, which I will be using for the friends page.

Posted by mike at 07:44 PM Central | Comedy , Internet , News , Software , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

October 31, 2003

Do You Know Any Slow Or Special People?

Staying up late flipping through the channels, I came across some video on one of the public access channels of Al Franken when he came to town a few weeks ago.

So, you're asking, what would Stuart Smalley have to say to President Bush? Well, to get started:

Hello Me.
I'm President Bush
I haven't created any new jobs
But that's okay
Because I'm good enough
Smart enough
And doggone it
Almost half the people voted for me

It was mentioned that Bill O'Reilly had an odd interview on NPR. I listened to it and could tell it had been designed to be moderately confrontational, not unlike the setups that O'Reilly has on his own shows. Listening to it, I had to admit that he's pretty good at what he does, but there are inconsistencies in what he says versus reality. Towards the end of the scheduled interview period (30 minutes or so), he decides to shut down the interview, which was done via radio between two separate locations, so he only had to flip a switch. That's kind of funny, because the context of him quitting was some questioning along the lines of how he shuts out or shoots down any negative criticism so that he always gets the last word.

In fairness, you can't believe every word you hear from Al Franken's mouth. He's a comedian and a satirist. On the other hand, you can't believe every word you hear from Bill O'Reilly because he's a lying bastard. ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:45 PM Central | Books , News , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 07, 2003

The Forbidden Junkyard

Got a headlamp part for $20. We'll see how the installation goes tomorrow.

I was shocked to discover that the junkyard I found online wasn't the one I thought it was. Turns out that there are two junkyards within about a mile of each other. The one I've driven past hundreds of times, and this other one I'd never seen before because it's on a back road…

Anyway, I made it there just in time to get the part pulled out of a junked car before before the guy helping me left for the day. I felt bad for the guy since it was his birthday, and almost gave him a tip for sticking around to help me out, but my mind drifted off when we got back up to the office.

I brought home the computer that has the HDTV receiver in it, just to see what reception is like at home. It works out that six of the Cities stations have good signal strength while another two have a marginal signal. There's one more that is too weak to be decoded. Some of the other stations in the region can be picked up when we turn the antenna. A channel down in Iowa came in alright, and we picked up a station in Menominee without too much trouble. We also picked up the local NBC station, and they have a strange subchannel that carries a live “skycam” shot of Rochester. Ooo. Thrilling.

Well, we proved that my family can get a digital receiver and actually pick up some channels, which is good. It's not quite as simple as the old analog system, since you can't really tell what's on channels that the antenna isn't pointed directly at. Therefore, it's not really possible to randomly come across something interesting on another channel and then move the antenna to improve reception. Oh well. I suppose the clarity of the video makes up for that…

Posted by mike at 09:30 PM Central | Car , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 08, 2003

Zen and the Art of Car Repair

Replaced the headlight today. It's semi-aligned: my dad and I got it vertically lined up, but I think I should probably fiddle a bit to shift the beam a little more to the left. Then again, maybe having one light pointed more to the side of the road is the better way to go in deer season…

We also did a little work to bend the hood back towards it's original shape, though I'm not sure how successful we were. There's not much more that we amateurs could do.

Did some more HDTV signal testing today. Unfortunately, it looks like the reception is much poorer during the daytime.

Posted by mike at 04:44 PM Central | Car , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 09, 2003

Border Bound

This morning, I watched a paid commercal program on an Iowa channel starring—wait for it—Howard Dean! Having lived in Minnesota all my life, I hadn't noticed the repercussions of being in one of those lucky states where they have Presidential primaries. Minnesota selects candidates through caucuses instead. (Heh. Caucus. Makes me think of the Simpsons episode where all of the kids get stuck at school because of snow.) I'd hate to have to sift through many half-hour paid ads…Hmm. Kind of reminds me of Ross Perot.

Coming back, I drove a different way to Minneapolis today. I usually go up some back roads to meet up with U.S. 52 to take me to St. Paul, but I had been reminded that there are some windmills just a few miles west of my hometown. Since I hadn't seen them yet, I went west on U.S. 14 toward Owatonna, where I'd take I-35 north.

I was expecting just a few windmills, thinking that the most I'd see would be about five. Amazingly enough, there were at least five times that many all out on this one stretch of flat farmland. I imagine it might be difficult to build too many more out there, since it's right next to a civil airport.

This morning, I read a story in the paper talking about the legislature changing the definitions of “renewable” energy sources. Apparently natural gas is a renewable resource now—not entirely false, since it can be captured from manure and garbage heaps, but still a pretty screwy concept. Coal is also considered to be “clean,” even though the best you could say of it is that it's “cleaner,” but it depends on what you're comparing…

Anyway, the story goes that we might not see new windmills and other “green” energy sources pop up as much, since the government support is getting whittled away.

Posted by mike at 06:33 PM Central | Car , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2003

Obsolitist

I randomly visited Drive 105's website today and noticed that they have a Just Played page, providing a way to see what song is on, or anything that has been on in the last several hours. Except, well, it's broken.

I remember suggesting a feature like this to one of the stations in the Cities a few years ago, but I don't think it ever got implemented. I can't remember which station it was, but I think it was back when 104.1 was the semi-alternative station in town.

I usually like Drive 105 the best, although don't like all of the music they play (if I hear that “Red Light” song one more time…). Also, I really wish I could get some consistent reception of the station.

Which brings me to two obligatory points: First, why doesn't Time Warner carry MTV2 all day long? It is arguably a “local” station, since you can pick it up over the air on channel 13 (a remnant of The Box). Second, I used to really like 93.7 when it was The Edge, in between phases of being 93X. Perhaps that day will come again.

Posted by mike at 12:38 PM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2003

The Odd Couple

So, I got sucked into watching parts of the episode of Average Joe that was on last night. This, for three reasons:

  1. The girl is hot
  2. The girl is really really hot
  3. The girl is unbelievably hot

Still, I knew weeks ago when the commercials started that this whole show was based around some Hollywood producer's contrived version of “average”—but that's to be expected, since normalcy is the enemy out on the west coast.

In the end, I just ended up being reminded why I don't like reality shows. I'm not a fan of competition in general, and the regular appearance of new events that just create more conflict does not make me enjoy myself. Rather, I felt like I do whenever I see one of these dating shows, almost as though some crime against humanity is unfolding before me on the screen. And it's weird—I think I had a stronger reaction to that show than I would have had toward an emotional documentary of the Jewish Holocaust.

It was such a visceral experience that I ended up skipping over most of it. In many ways, it was too much like a Very Special Episode of a network sitcom (I'm so glad that those don't happen very often anymore).

Anyway, I'd rather that NBC just took that girl and filmed her running around on the beach for a few hours. (Heck, they wouldn't even have to record much video in the first place, since they'd probably play it all back in slow-mo anyway.)

Yeah, in the end, it turns out that I'm kind of shallow. Not completely shallow, but sorta-kinda. The payback for that is that the “perfect” girlfriend I have in my head has a set of qualities that guarantees that she will have no interest in me whatsoever. That's certainly how it's worked out so far.

Posted by mike at 12:45 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 13, 2003

Move Over, Lois

Heh. An interesting interview:

Ira Glass: […] Are you watching Smallville?

The Onion AV Club: No. Is it good?

IG: No. I have to say, this season I haven't gotten on the chain, because last season it moved so slowly. Occasionally, you get a show like that as an adult, where you find that you do want to watch each week, even though you don't like it. I never realized it until this conversation, but for me, Smallville is that show. While I'm watching it, I'm constantly saying “Get to something interesting! Be good!” My girlfriend watches it because she thinks the whole point of the show is this homoerotic thing that the writers are doing with Lex and Clark. They're constantly staring into each other's eyes and giving each other looks. She's watching basically for the hot boy-on-boy action. Then she'll say, “Why are you watching?” and my actual answer is an answer that a 12-year-old would give, which is “He's got superpowers! He can fly!”

Posted by mike at 03:21 PM Central | TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 16, 2003

Forshak

I've mostly been catching up on my Deep Space Nine viewing over the last few days. Unfortunately, disc 2 of season 5 has some defects so I can't play the third episode on that DVD. I suppose I can take it to Best Buy and see what they say, although I don't have a receipt anymore. Otherwise, I suppose I can call Paramount.

Hmm. Since my first chance to do anything is a Sunday, I guess I'll just see what the Best Buy folks say, then follow up on anything else on Monday.

Posted by mike at 01:02 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 18, 2003

Episodic Endeavors

Hmm. Finished season 6 of DS9. I think that's got to be the best season (well, unless 7 is better). The Klingon wedding alone is pretty awesome.

Now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure that I've only watched DS9 episodes when I've been unemployed. Hopefully this means that I will find a job soon, since the last season will be released in about two weeks.

About 2 years ago, I had a wish list for three things which would make me really happy.

  1. Coca-Cola should start producing Coke with vanilla
  2. Deep Space Nine should return to television in the Twin Cities market
  3. I should get a girlfriend

Not long after I constructed the list, it was announced that Vanilla Coke was going to be released. Also, DS9 started to be played on channel 9. However, that was just before that whole “Make the Switch” fiasco that everyone in the area of Minneapolis would prefer to purge from their memory. The show was taken off the air after just a few weeks when the UPN and Fox channels switched.

I was really disappointed to see the show go away so quickly, but by that time, episodes of Next Generation were being sold, and it didn't take long to realize that DS9 was going to be released throughout 2003.

So, perhaps I will finally have luck with number 3 on my list. We'll see.

Hmm. I should really borrow the last few seasons of Next Gen from Dan at some point. But, I think I'll have to wait a while to continue that—My monthly quota of Star Trek has already been greatly exceeded ;-)

Posted by mike at 11:17 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 20, 2003

By the Numbers

According to a study by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, only 20% of the viewers of Fox News Channel are in touch with reality. In fact, none of the commercial TV news outlets can claim that over half of their audience knows the truth: CBS rates 30%, ABC 39%, and NBC and CNN are tied at 45%. Print media works out to 53%, and people who tune in to NPR and PBS rate at 77%.

Okay, it's wrong to say that these people are totally in touch with reality, but they did manage to correctly determine three things:

  1. The majority of the world's population did not favor the U.S.-led war on Iraq
  2. No substantial connections have been found between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda
  3. Weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq

Anyway, there's more info in this poorly HTML-ized press release. Here's a nicer table of the data from that page:

NetworkNo MisperceptionsOne or More
Fox20%80%
CBS30%70%
ABC39%61%
NBC45%55%
CNN45%55%
Print53%47%
NPR/PBS77%23%
Posted by mike at 07:56 PM Central | News , Politics , September 11th , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 21, 2003

Conundrumsfeld

I'm a bit late on this, since I was watching TV shows on DVD all last weekend. Trek fans should be aware that Patrick Stewart was on WWDTM, and had a very funny conversation before doing his duty on that show and answering some questions.

Posted by mike at 02:30 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2003

Please Mess with Texas

Will someone please explain to me who the hell watches King of the Hill? I mean, watching Hank say “propane and propane accessories” the first few times was fun, but it got boring pretty early on…

Posted by mike at 06:57 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 29, 2003

Yob Yadhtrib

Too much of my day was spent purchasing and then returning a humidifier. The main water reservoir leaked, so we had to take it back.

We all went out to see Looney Tunes: Back in Action, which was reasonably entertaining. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse. I don't think it was marketed properly to the movie distributors, though—the only showings in Rochester are matinées. The movie is plenty good for adults, so it's pretty dumb to not run it at night.

For my birthday haul, I got a strange automatic cheese grater thing, a DVD of Office Space, a set of Season Two of Futurama (which I may already own, but I got the gift receipt for that), and a toolbox with some miscellaneous sockets and stuff in it—mostly intended for car repairs, I guess.

And money. Can't go wrong there.

Oh yes, be ready to play your favorite durge at 10:30 tonight—that's when I'll officially be 25. Yay.

Posted by mike at 08:21 PM Central | Hardware , Movies , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 02, 2003

Doctor Zhivago

Wow. I was just watching Kid Notorious before The Daily Show starts, and there was a reference to Omar Sharif. Then, when the show went to commercial, I was channel-surfing and saw Omar Sharif on The Late Late Show. That's messed up. It's amazing he's not dead yet ;-)

The other thing I wanted to mention, the term “self-aggrandizing” seems to be having a pulse of popularity. It's a popular phrase on the audio commentary for The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Posted by mike at 11:57 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 03, 2003

Deep Space Crap

Aaagh! I went to Best Buy to pick up a DVD collection of some sort (I wasn't sure which series I wanted to continue purchasing at that moment). To my horror, I discovered that they must have gotten a new shipment of season 4 of Deep Space Nine when season 7 came in: the season 4 set had the bonus DVD!

I'm so pissed. My timing is always awful, and this just proves it yet again. Last month, I gave in and purchased a season 4 set, since I ended up being fairly convinced that they weren't going to release any of that season with the bonus disc. Yet, here I am, just a few weeks later, discovering that no matter how patient I become, I'm apparently never patient enough. Of course, the moment that I become more patient, I discover that I missed out on something that required quick action.

My luck is just bad enough to slowly torture me.

Posted by mike at 01:25 PM Central | TV | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

December 04, 2003

Heil Evans

Another weird Kid Notorious moment: I turned on the TV, which had randomly landed on channel 75 last night (one of the public access channels). This evening, I turned it on to see a Nazi flag. Turning to Comedy Central, I see a midget version of Hitler driving onto the screen in a tiny car. Apparently Robert Evans was taking down some weird neo-Nazi conspiracy that was trying to annihilate the Jewish conspiracy. This all involved him wearing a Gestapo uniform, of course. Very strange.

Ah, to live in 2003, where Hitler is a bad punchline.

Posted by mike at 12:01 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Quotarama

Really, I've got nothing, but I have some random quotes and things that have slowly accumulated around my computer.

O cruel fate
To be thusly boned
Ask not for whom the bone bones
It bones for thee
—Bender, Futurama
I may not do much on this planet, but David Blaine showed me I could do less
—Lewis Black, commenting on David Blaine's London stunt
September 11th was a faith-based initiative
—not sure, possibly Al Franken
Posted by mike at 09:04 PM Central | Comedy , Politics , September 11th , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 09, 2003

Certified Circumcised Dick

So, The Hebrew Hammer was on Comedy Central last night. Of course, being raised a gentile, a lot of the humor probably went right by me, but it was still really funny. I guess the movie is going to run in theaters soon, which is pretty weird. I'm sure it's been floating around the independent theater circuit for quite a while—IMDB has comments dating back to July 2002.

It'd almost be worth seeing in the theater just to see what was cut off on the sides of the screen (I thought the pan and scan job was pretty poorly done), plus then you could listen to all of the swearing ;-) But, since I still managed to see most of the movie, I think I'll just wait to rent the DVD…

One weird thing was noticing that one of the characters was played by Peter Coyote. I don't know if I've ever actually seen him in anything before—he's much better known as an announcer voice. So, if you finish the movie and suddenly have an intense desire to get an Audi (not sure if he does ads for them, but maybe), you'll know why.

Posted by mike at 11:57 AM Central | Comedy , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2003

The Inky Blackness of Space

Hmm. It's 7° outside. Supposed to go below zero tonight. Although, I suppose that the colder weather might indicate that there's less cloud cover holding in heat. Everyone remembers that episode of Bill Nye, right?

Heh. I wonder if his show is available on DVD ;-)

Posted by mike at 04:19 PM Central | TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 14, 2003

Somewhere Between San Diego and Green Bay Lies the Town of Dullsville, USA

Wandered over to Dan & Erin's place after having a late lunch at Panera. I was bored, and I knew that I'd just be climbing up the walls in my apartment. Of course, I ended up staying pretty bored once I arrived because Erin and Spike were watching the Packers-Chargers game, which seemed to be moving really slowly to me. But, then again, football is almost always boring to me—even years of playing in the band at football games has not changed that. Still, Spike dozed off once or twice, so I suppose I fit in today…

In my boredom, I basically wandered into the mantra of “I wish I had a girlfriend,” though I don't know if I would have been any less bored if I did have one… I also had the strange thought that the girl I had a crush on in high school was going to suddenly burst in with Dan and the others who were out. That would have been a wacky scene, but it never happened. I just stayed bored, ate an apple/cinnamon muffin, tried to keep Elvis away from food he's not supposed to eat, and gagged whenever Erin flipped back to the “Bible Code” show that was on the History Channel.

I stayed for The Simpsons (which was pretty good, since it made fun of a lot of TV Christmas specials of the past) and then headed home. All in all, meh.

Posted by mike at 08:24 PM Central | Dan , Erin , Spike , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2003

I'm a Dapper Dan Man

I think today is the day for me to get a haircut. I should probably get it cut every 4-6 weeks, but procrastination usually takes hold and I double that on a regular basis. We'll see if I can get it cut in a way I like. The last time I went, the stylist said I should say, “Number 4 and blend it on the back and sides.”

Aagh! I played FreeCraft again, and now I see images of footmen, peasants, and farms whenever I blink. This may be one reason why I don't play video games all that often. When I forst got the original SimCity, I remember falling asleep to images of buildings with little flashing lightning bolts on top, indicating they didn't have any electricity.

My brain must be lacking interesting input these days (not surprising). Last night, I watched Celebrity Poker Showdown which had Nicole Sullivan (from Mad TV), Hank Azaria, and some other people I didn't know. Later, I had a dream of the voice of Hank Azaria—Not Hank Azaria himself, or any of the characters he plays, just a unembodied voice.

Of course, that's just another datapoint showing that my dreams just tend to be weird. Why they can't be about things that I want (like women), I'll never know. Why didn't my brain pick Nicole Sullivan? Why didn't it flash back to the clip I saw of Keri Russell in some random movie on KSTC? How about Jodie Foster on the night I saw Silence of the Lambs?.

Bah.

Posted by mike at 01:50 PM Central | Movies , Self , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 19, 2003

Scorched Silicon

Well, yesterday I got around to fixing my MythTV setup, which had been broken for a couple of weeks. Really, the only thing that was broken was the utility that downloads the TV listings. However, I was also getting annoyed with the system because it seemed to be getting more and more flaky when I'd record and play video. Unfortunately, this is actually due to some trouble communicating with my external FireWire hard drive.

Every time I do a filesystem check, the drive spits out new errors. I'm not sure if this is because the drive is baked, the controller in the FireWire enclosure is broken, or if the actual 1394 card is broken. Heck, it could even be a bad cable for all I know. I should have stolen a pile of them from Adaptec when I had the chance ;-)

Anyway, I had that other computer in my bedroom that is meant to eventually be an HDTV tuner box, but I hadn't been playing with it for a while. Turns out, it makes a pretty decent replacement for my FireWire drive. I just had to turn on NFS sharing, and things work great.

Hmm. I suppose I could rip the drive out of my 1394 enclosure and put it in that machine, but with my luck the drive is toast.

Posted by mike at 04:21 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 20, 2003

Shattered Glass

Does this work?  Didn't think soOkay, I'm a week late on this one. It turns out that, while Bush was making a statement about the capture of Saddam Hussein, a technician at CNN flipped the wrong switch and put a test message on the screen. Found the image here.


Update 12/21 3:26 AM: Whoa. Maybe we didn't actually capture Saddam. Well, we did, but he may have already been captured. Maybe. Then again, it must be true, since it's 3:26.

Posted by mike at 12:38 PM Central | Comedy , Politics , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 21, 2003

A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Seltzer Down Your Pants

Heh. Here's another week-late entry. Paul Magers finished 20 years working at KARE TV on the 12th, and they have a sappy goodbye story. I only mention it because he's been around so long. Only a handful of on-screen personalities have worked in the Twin Cities for that long, and certainly no one has occupied the anchor desk for that much time (except Diana Pierce, who came to Ch. 11 with Mr. Magers).

I really respect the abilities of Paul Magers a lot. I always liked the way he delivered the news much more than any of the other anchors I'd see. There are rumors that he may get pushed up the chain at CBS (he's going to KCBS in California) and end up on the national newscasts, which could be really good. In my opinion, he's better than all of the national anchors I know of, though Peter Jennings is darn close.

Hmm. Actually, I think that if you take away the paradigm of silliness on The Daily Show, Magers and Jon Stewart seem to have fairly similar deliveries. Maybe that explains why I like that show so much…

Anyway, we in Minnesota will have to peek in on what he's doing out there in California every so often. I get the feeling that the Los Angeles market is still stuck in the clutches of cheap shock journalism. Maybe he can snap them out of it, but I guess I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Actually, from what I've heard, the Twin Cities' news departments are pretty good. I suppose it's an effort to break any ideas that people might have gotten from watching Mary Tyler Moore. I still think they could be a lot better (for instance, the last time I was home, we watched BBC World News on a PBS station, and saw a report from Minnesota, talking about stuff my parents hadn't really heard of).

Well, I hope things go well out there for him.

Posted by mike at 11:26 PM Central | Daily Show , News , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 27, 2003

The Odyssey

I have returned from my extra-short Christmas excursion. I did some preparation on the 22nd, and then moved my car over to Dan and Erin's on the 23rd and finished up packing in time for my family to pick me up. We had White Castle for lunch, since my Dad has fond memories of it from Louisville, and then headed out. About 100 miles from Fargo, I took over driving, which was your average boredom until about 10 minutes in when we drove into a fogbank.

It was very strange—we could see weird clouds up ahead, and then we were in it after going over a few hills. We all expected the fog to disappear pretty quickly, but the rest of our journey was embedded in a haze. It was nearly sunset when we hit the fog, which may have explained the variations in color I saw. Off in the distance, the fog would cycle through faint red, orange, and blue.

I was anticipating that the fog would suddenly coalesce into something heavier where I wouldn't be able to see anything, but it never happened. I could see far enough almost all of the time, so I didn't need to slow from the speed limit of 70. We ended up making good time and arriving a little early.

Christmas Eve wasn't too busy. We visited my step-grandfather in the nursing home before going to church. I wouldn't have minded the service, except for the fact that PowerPoint has invaded Pontoppidan Lutheran Church in Fargo. The sermon was accompanied by fill-in-the-blank comments projected onto a screen down in front. Whenever the pastor got to the right moment, the appropriate words would fly across the screen and land in the blank spaces.

Weird. Just weird.

We had our traditional baked ham, baked potato, mashed rutabaga, corn, and “green stuff.” Green stuff is a concoction of green Jell-O, cottage cheese, and a white whipped substance of some kind (either whipped cream or whipped egg whites). It's a tradition that my Mom and her siblings enjoy, but I guess I've never really tried it…

Finally, we ended up at the time to unwrap presents. I got A Man, A Can, A Plan, a spatula (not to be confused with a turner), socks, a dress shirt, an air filter, Sliverado (VHS), a ZipZap racer, a Far Side calendar, a recipe box with some family recipes in it, the Indiana Jones collection with a bonus bonus DVD (I have since given the giver my previously-bought copy of the collection), and a one million candlepower spotlight.

The rest of our stay was mostly spent avoiding boredom. We had set up an RF modulator for a DVD player that my grandmother won from a magazine. We were amazed that the magazine jumped for a Sony rather than a random Wal-Mart brand. We watched one of my Indy movies, a few of the live-action episodes of The Tick (which my brother got—amazingly, it's widescreen), and some of Rocky and Bullwinkle which I got for my dad.

Before we left today, we got a few DVDs for my grandmother to try out. Hopefully the DVD player won't be too complicated for her. At least she doesn't have a hi-fi receiver and the whole shebang to worry about…

Yesterday evening, I talked to Erik on the phone. He said he was returning today, so we didn't get together to do anything. Turns out, he moved in with some of his old roommates and kept his phone number. He also apparently lost his little black book of contact info for other people, which explains why he's been so quiet (sort of). Anyway, I invited him to the big New Year's shindig, and I plan to communicate with him again in the coming days, but I guess he'll be busy during the University's experimental J-term.

7 AM to 7 PM. Blech.

Anyway, I'm back now. My car survived, and all of the stuff that's supposed to be in my apartment is here. Except, perhaps, for my cable bill…

Posted by mike at 08:28 PM Central | Erik , Family , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2004

Epic Novel Daily

Well, shortly after I made yesterday's post, I got a call from my mom telling me that my step-grandfather in Fargo had died. My grandmother had married him about a dozen years ago. She had originally been widowed when my grandfather died about two years before I was born. She was alone in her house for a few years after my youngest uncle left. I knew this day was coming, since my step-grandfather had been sick from prostate cancer and treatments for it. The thing I feel worst about is the fact that my grandmother is alone again, though I suppose the shock has been somewhat lessened for her since he had been in a nursing home for a couple of years.

Anyway, funeral arrangements had not yet been made, but were potentially scheduled for Saturday, meaning that I would have been headed up to Fargo today to spend the night. Since Erik was only free on Thursday and Friday this week, I was encouraged to see if he was available. I went over to his place to hang out, but also intending to have us join up with Dan at some point.

I got there as Erik and his roommate were about a third of the way through The Adventures of Baron von Munchausen. A pretty wacky movie, but what do you expect from Terry Gilliam? Oh, and a young Uma Thurman. Mmm.

When that ended, we selected Finding Nemo for the second flick of the evening. That was a good pick, since Dan hadn't seen it yet. Of course, getting Dan over to Erik's place was a small task, since the address Erik lives at in St. Paul can also be found in Minneapolis. At any rate, he brought along Laura (who Erik hadn't met) and Russell (who Erik knew from Tai Chi).

We chatted a bit, and I learned of things like Sarah's string of Ford Foci. Also, I found out that we have to wait yet another month to get a court date, but that's okay since I will now be attending a funeral on the 7th.

After that, we headed over to Annie's Parlour to meet up with Sarah and Josh. The mystery staircase was discovered hiding in plain sight due to our placement in the “smoking” section. We also had to listen to the disgusting KFC urban legend moments before Sarah and I were served our chicken sandwiches. Other than that, we had a pretty good time. Dan even had a fit of spontanaeity by putting on Laura's coat and scarf. I figured he ended up looking like a very distinguished gay bohemian, but I didn't really vocalize on that.

After that, time was spent at Dan's place, mostly watching TV (Family Guy was a really good episode last night, then we saw Jack Black and Cristopher Walken on a repeat of Conan). We also watched the video of some freaky Japanese guy beating Super Mario Bros. 3 in less than 11 minutes. I can barely pass the first level in that game ;-)

Anyway, it turns out that Erik does some of his teaching at the school right across the street from my building, so we might start seeing him more often.

Posted by mike at 01:04 PM Central | Dan , Erik , Family , Food , Josh , Sarah , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 04, 2004

We Cannot Find Reverse

Heh. I've been having quite a time on Wikipedia, but I just found Memory Alpha, a Star Trek WikiWiki. The coolest thing so far: the "This Week in Trek History" line on the front page ;-)

Posted by mike at 01:16 PM Central | Internet , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2004

Blonde, Brunette, or Redhead? Decisions, Decisions

Favorite word of the day: rectenna

I'm bored. I've been bored all day. I watched some shows that my computer recorded, mostly Ned and Stacey—a show everyone forgot about when it was on, but seems to have stood up pretty well. People just didn't think Thomas Hayden Church could play a character with a brain, I guess. And hey, it's got Debra Messing. Can't go wrong there. I don't know how she manages to have so much hair on her head, but I like it. (Hmm. That might explain why I like Keri Russell too, though with straight hair she looks freakishly similar to a female friend of mine that I've known since preschool—my friend even had a penchant for sweaters :-p )

Too bad the show is on a damn women's channel. I mean, the guy on the show is a womanizing bastard (I mean that in the best way, of course ;-). At least my computer is pretty good at skipping commercials. As if I haven't seen enough ads for panty liners already in my life. Ugh. Go away! *click*

I should probably get out and do something tonight. I guess my sickness this week took a much larger toll than I thought it would. I've been pretty groggy the last few days. Hopefully I'll be feeling good tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 08:34 PM Central | Hardware , MythTV , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 11, 2004

STUPID FOOTBALL

Making me miss the start of The Simpsons

Stupid football.

*grumble* *grumble*

So many Sunday evenings of television ruined by that damned game.

Posted by mike at 07:39 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2004

Floccinaucinihilipilification

I can't believe nobody posted a comment about my 1-976-HOT-NASA line in my previous entry. I mean, that's one of the funniest things to come out of my head in months. Well, I think so, anyway. Guess I'd never make it as a stand-up comic. (Like that's news…)

Hmm. I haven't thought about this for a while, since I haven't had the patience to sit through Inside the Actor's Studio recently, but I think that one of my “favorite words” would have to be “fudgesicle.” That would probably be my curse word. As for favorite word overall, I'm not so sure. There are a lot of weird words in English, and I keep finding more that sound a lot like pholaboly, philately, and phlebotomy. Craziness ;-)

I'm hungry.

Posted by mike at 03:23 PM Central | Food , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 16, 2004

Around the World in Eighty Seconds

A triumvirate (a la Douglas Adams) of unusual news articles have piqued my interest today:

Bush Booed at Martin Luther King Gravesite via Yahoo! News:

“Bush go home” and “peace not war” the predominantly black crowd of protesters shouted from behind a barrier of buses…

Brain Sandwiches Still on Some Menus via Yahoo!:

“I think I'll have hardening of the arteries before I have mad cow disease,” said Cecelia Coan, 40, picking up a brain sandwich to go at the Hilltop Inn during her lunch hour. “This is better than snail, better than sushi, better than a lot of different delicacies.”

CBS Cries Foul on PETA, MoveOn Super Bowl Ads also via Yahoo!:

“We just want to be able to present our jiggly women,” said Lisa Lange, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, asking to join advertisers like beer brewers who has boosted sales with images of scantily-clad women.

Sci-Fi Scribes Like Mars Plan from Wired News:

“I'd been afraid that this would be some kind of one-off, Apollo-type stunt. But it's not that at all,” he said. “A long-term, large-scale, open-ended space project—it's like watching a science-fiction movie. It's like the sort of thing I'd always imagined.”

And, countering, Mars Mission a Trojan Horse? from Wired again:

[Space historian Howard] McCurdy noted that the current President Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, similarly proposed going to the moon and Mars in 1989. However, that plan fell apart when NASA came back with a jaw-dropping $400 billion price tag.

The current President Bush only signed on to a new moon-Mars plan after assurances from NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe that the agency had returned to being the can-do outfit that sent men to the moon in the 1960s, McCurdy said.

Update: I don't know how many of my friends have been watching The Daily Show this week, but there was some weirdness with Presidential candidate Carol Moseley Braun. She went on the show Wednesday night (I don't know exactly when htey tape, but it's afternoon/evening, I'm sure), and did a pretty good job. Also that day, word leaked out that she was planning to drop out of the race. I haven't been able to figure out exactly when she officially quit, but it's really weird that she stayed to tape the show…

Posted by mike at 12:04 PM Central | Decision 2004 , Food , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 18, 2004

Es ars ein ens

I'm so happy for ars. I'm glad that es won the game. Es played ein chips well, and now the gold chip is ens.

Hmm. Blech. Not so hot, but maybe it sounds reasonable… I'm trying to think of good ways to make gender-neutral pronouns in English, instead of using they or whatever, which people don't like because it's plural rather than singular. This was all induced by seeing who won on Celebrity Poker Showdown, by the way.

Sie and hir are popular choices, but I dislike them with a vengeance. In addition to sounding too much like the English she and her, sie can be feminine in German. While it actually has several meanings in German–they, and you when capitalized Sie is for addressing adults–it also really does mean she. Hir I don't like because it can end up being pronounced exactly like her, plus it can be hard to distinguish in print (though that's probably just because I haven't seen it enough).

So many options that people have proposed are too indistinct for me. I kind of like the Spivak pronouns, but the words there and proposed elsewhere are hard to distinguish from he, she, him, her, his, and hers.

My idea for he and she (which I'm sure others have proposed, but I haven't bothered hunting too much to find out) is to basically flip the sounds of the pronouns around backwards. He and she become es, which also happens to be the gender-neutral he/she pronoun in German.

The next word I came up with that I liked at all was ars. I'm not sure where that came from, exactly. I think it was using the ‘r’ and ‘s’ from his and her, and then picking a different vowel to go in there to make it sound distinct. I eventually noticed that this could be confused with ours, so I moved it to replace him and her instead. I do like the fact that it sounds like ours, though, since it brings a sense of unity—but I wouldn't want the words to get confused when people are speaking.

I was thinking of trying to take some other pronouns from German, but they don't really fit too well in English, IMHO. However, I think using some translations of one might be appropriate for something, since that is a popular option for replacing the singular they. In German, one is ein. In Norwegian, it's en. At first, I thought I'd use en for something like his and her, but I just felt in needed an ‘s’ sound at the end and made ens. However, this became problematic when doing posessive things like his and hers, since there's already an ‘s’ there (not that it prevents us from using his in both places).

So, I tried doing en for his/her and ens for his/hers, but it just didn't seem to sound right to me. En was just too short of a sound, I thought. Therefore, I decided to try the German ein in place of en, but I kept ens because I have a prejudice for pronouns that are three letters or shorter, plus I'd like that Norwegian word in there ;-)

Still, I guess I'm open to options. I really like es and ars, though I haven't really decided on what to use for the other cases. Here's a summary of sorts, in no real order:

he/shehim/herhis/herhis/hers
esarsen(s)ens
esarsein(s)ens
esarsein(s)eins

Any opinions?

Posted by mike at 06:38 PM Central | Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2004

Fool in the Photograph

Woo! The pilot episode of Keen Eddie will be on Bravo tonight…and every other night this week. Stop that! You're wearing out good things, Bravo! Anyway, there were 13 episodes made, but only 7 ever showed up on Fox when they first aired the series.

USA already aired the first third-season episode of Monk, and ABC will start airing the second-season episodes next week.

Posted by mike at 12:19 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2004

Star 69

Hmm. My phone's ringer appears to be dead. That's no good. Glad I was psychic about a guy calling me back for a potential job and noticed his voicemail right away. Well, I guess I'll go to T-Mobile tomorrow and see what they say. I definitely don't want to have to send in my phone and rely on my old one again (since the battery in that thing is toast), but I suppose if that happened, I'd see if there was a cheap GSM phone at Best Buy I could use for a few weeks.

Wow. All my TV shows are coming back! My system noticed that My Hero was on channel 2 again. Looks like they're starting from the first season. Oh, and I guess USA's episodes of Monk are from the second half of the second season rather than the start of the third. For my geeky/intellectual side, Frontline is back too. They just had an episode about “The Teenage Brain” where they talked to some people at UMN. And, I found out that I was entirely right to sleep so much when I was a teenager. On average, one lady said, teens need 9 ¼ hours of sleep a night. I think the only number any of my friends knew back then was 8, “if you're lazy&hellip”

Posted by mike at 07:05 PM Central | Hardware , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 22, 2004

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Heh. My mom sent me a note saying that Steven J. Cannell would be signing books at Barnes & Noble at Har-Mar this evening. Who?

Well, anyway, after looking him up, I saw his name appears to really be spelled Stephen J. Cannell, and he (co-)created The A-Team among many other shows and wrote for series like Knight Rider. I guess he co-created The Rockford Files which is probably why my mom knew about him…

Posted by mike at 04:14 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 25, 2004

Well, Paint My Face and Call Me Charlie

Met Maddie and Jordan for the first time last night at Erin's birthday party. I guess I expected both of them to be taller ;-)

Today has been rather historical. I'd set up my computer to record Apocalypse Now Redux, the extended version of Apocalypse Now. Pretty good. A really young and skinny Laurence Fishburne. I didn't really go for the ending, though it reminded me that Vietnam had been pretty much in a steady state of war for 30 years by the time things wrapped up around 1975. Maybe even longer if much happened during World War II.

I just finished watching some episodes of The American Experience about the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. Some really interesting stuff, and many things I hadn't really heard of before.

Actually, I guess this has been a fairly historical weekend in general, since I also watched some stuff on the History Channel about the Goths and Mongols last night. I was really interested in the show on the Goths, since I'd never heard much about them before. Most stuff I've heard or seen has basically just said “We don't know much about them—well, except, they did sack Rome that one time…”

Posted by mike at 07:09 PM Central | Erin , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 11, 2004

Take Your Antenna and Shove It

Heh. This is an awesome photo:

Late Night host Conan O'Brien presides over a mud wrestling match between Seattle's Space Needle (L) and Toronto's CN Tower during a taping of the show in Toronto February 11, 2004. O'Brien is doing four shows in Toronto. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/CHUM Television Photo/Handout


Posted by mike at 09:54 PM Central | Comedy , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

February 13, 2004

What Do You Think This Is? Fort Knox?

Oh, one more update… I'm heading to Kentucky this weekend, but I'm going home today, so if anyone wants anothe season of DS9 or something, said persons had better contact me quickly.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your drawls.

Posted by mike at 10:19 AM Central | Family , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 14, 2004

Voyageurs

Watching Star Trek: Voyager at the moment. It's on a local WB station in Danville, Illinois. It's been a long time since I've seen Voyager. Kind of a sappy episode.

Dad and I left home at around 9:30, finally getting on the highway just before 10:00 (had to get gas, you know). I noticed that some parts of I-90 in southeast Minnesota seem to have been re-done. It's been a long time, but I once went along that road on a class trip. I sat in the back of the bus and pretty much got sick to my stomach. I'm pretty sure I was in the fourth grade, heading to Winona or La Crosse so I could go on a short train trip on Amtrak. I'm thinking that we only went between those two cities, but now I remember that we also visited James J. Hill's home at some point, so maybe we actually got to St. Paul. At any rate, we ran into a lot of trouble because the train was late...

I mentioned some stuff about trains to my dad and he talked about an idea he had for getting new rail lines between the Cities and Rochester. His idea was to run the track (mostly just one set of rails, except in stations, etc.) on pylons along I-35 and then U.S. Highway 52 from Owatonna to Rochester. It seemed like an odd route to me until he explained that most of the way, it could use existing highway rights-of-way. Also, heading to the Cities from that direction would bring the rail line straight to the Mall of America and the Airport (and soon, both places will be major stops on the light rail line). Plus, Owatonna is a fairly major shipping town, so light freight could potentially be moved along the way sometimes. Having two towns pushing for a new line instead of just one would also be pretty good.

Something I'd forgotten to take into account when I prepared for the weekend was the fact that Minnesota Public Radio pretty much doesn't exist outside of the state. Pretty much every other NPR station has a different schedule, so I missed out on most of Car Talk and all of some of the other shows I wanted to listen to today.

I was surprised by a slightly scary-looking thin median around the area where I-90 meets up with 94 and 39. If a car lost control, it would barely dip before landing on the other side. Dad mentioned that one of the best barriers is actually chain-link fence, since it usually manages to stop cars, but generally doesn't damage them too much.

Anyway, stopped at a Culver's since I'd never been there before. My first impression was, Long John Silvers plus burgers. I had a bacon cheeseburger, and was amazed at how wide the thing was, though it wasn't amazingly thick. I suppose they cook quicker that way.

We went south on 90/39 and had to pay a toll in Illinois. My dad had gone on a trip to Tennessee with Habitat for Humanity just last month, so he sort of knew what to expect, though I still had to remind him to not get in the I-Pass lane...

So, we took a route avoiding Chicago. It's so strange for me to think of it, but Interstates aren't fixtures of the landscape that have been there forever. It just seems like that for me. I-39 is a flat, boring road that goes right down the middle of Illinois. After a while, I took over driving.

We made pretty good time. My dad was thinking that we'd stop in Peru/La Salle, but we were there by mid-afternoon. Got down to Bloomington/Normal by 5:00, stopped at a Steak 'n' Shake in Champaign for dinner, then finally stopped in Danville, Illinois around 6:30 for the night. I would have been happy to keep going a while longer, but I guess there aren't any major stops between Danville and Indianapolis.

We ran into some construction zones I hadn't expected in Wisconsin and around Bloomington in Illinois, but there wasn't any active construction going on. The lanes were squeezed a bit, but we pretty much got through without trouble, except that I got a bit confused by the lane switching required around Bloomington. I-39 ends just north of the area, then we had to jog west a little way on I-55 to meet up with I-74 and go south around the city, then we started east once the two roads split. Kind of a mess, though I guess it's easier than what we would have dealt with around Chicago.

Hmm. One thing that popped into my head while we were driving was the idea of a diesel-electric semi tractor, but I suppose there are reasons why nobody's done that before. I imagine the maintenance for the electrical system would make them unappealing to truckers. Hard to say.

That's an odd thing to end on, but whatever. Hey, look at that, it's Law & Order. Heh.

Posted by mike at 08:33 PM Central | Car , Family , Kentucky 2004 , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 16, 2004

First Come, First Serve

My grandmother brought up the story that my grandpa invented a machine to grade test papers, basically what is used today to grade SATs and whatever. It isn't actually the precursor to anything that exists today—he invented it with a college friend, but I guess they never patented it. IBM came out with something more modern years later. It wasn't brought up today, but I think my grandfather's machine used electrical contacts that rubbed the sheet of paper, and would carry a current when it passed over a pencil mark (since graphite is somewhat conductive). I think current machines tend to be optical, but I don't know.

Heh. After coming back from Wal-Mart earlier, I was thinking, “You haven't been to Wal-Mart until you've been to Wal-Mart in the South.” Of course, Kentucky is really more of a border state than anything else. Natives usually have a bit of a twang, but it's nothing too intense. Still, the screaming mothers at the store today really gave it that certain feeling. My dad and I usually don't patronize Wal-Mart, but there didn't seem to be many other options in the area.

I watched a little TV yesterday and today. Yesterday, we mostly just saw the Daytona 500. We missed Bush starting the race. That's so strange. I guess he took a lap around the track in the presidential motorcade. Sheesh. Well, I suppose it's really not hugely worse than previous presidents throwing out the first pitch at baseball games, though I guess it was considered by some to be a kickoff of campaign activities—and it took place in Florida.

So, for that reason I thought it was funny that today is Presidents Day—Bush had his day yesterday at the racetrack :-p

I've been a little concerned that I'm down here among Southern Baptists while the gay marriage debate is playing out in California. Well. I guess that's a good reason for me to not worry about it. California's still a long way away. It hasn't been brought up yet, so we'll see if that holds.

Posted by mike at 04:32 PM Central | Family , Hardware , Kentucky 2004 , Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 19, 2004

These Waves

Today turned out to be a rather boring day as well. I'll be ready to head home on Saturday. My grandparents have made it difficult for me to watch any TV shows that I like, not that I necessarily like what I usually watch (and what I usually watch is recorded automatically by my computer these days, so I don't even know when it's on anymore). My grandma and grandpa generally restrict themselves to Fox News Channel. Scary, I know. I tried to start watching some stuff on the History Channel. The show that was on was about prisons, not necessarily the most enjoyable thing to learn about, but interesting nonetheless. I think that my dad, grandfather, and I were enjoying it well enough, but then my grandmother came in and started complaining about it before too long. Oh well, I'll be back to my own cable system soon enough. I just wish I got TechTV and one or two other things in place of all those sports channels I never watch.

Anyway, I've kind of been thinking about how a person or group might go about running a new radio station that plays stuff people actually like. Of course, it's impossible in more ways than one. Even if I somehow made a radio station myself, I'd probably end up scheduling things I don't like because I know other people like them. Still, I keep thinking about it, and it'll probably be on my mind until I get back to Minneapolis. I certainly hope the Cities stations will have turned over a new leaf by the time I get to my apartment.

If I somehow got control of a radio station of my own, I wish I could just start spinning random CDs that I own, but my collection is still relatively small, and a lot of the tracks I own are pretty much crap. Heck, most of them probably are. The good news is that there is usually one or two good tracks to make up for the rest, though sometimes I end up with something that I just consider to be a dud later. One thing I hate about my music collection is that I somehow spring for the slower, more mellow music, when I really would rather get pepped up by some faster beats and generally happier music.

So, I'd rather have control of a station that mostly played up-tempo music, probably usually stuff that you can dance to—or at least something that will get your feet tapping. I think I'd basically say, “we'll play anything except country, rap, classical, some ethnic music, and maybe a few others.” Which leaves all sorts of good music. That's really all I want—good music. Heck, even for the bits we wouldn't play, it might be nice to have hours where the music was influenced by another genre of music that generally doesn't get on the air (blues-influenced, jazz-infused, etc.). *shrug* Maybe it'd be a sucky idea. I guess in some ways, it sounds like how you'd define “college radio station.” However, I think the station would still have pretty heavy influences from popular music, rather than the fairly random stuff you get on college radio. The only thing I really want is to get away from playing only the top-40 hits of the past. Getting into the lesser-played tracks by new and old artists would be much more enjoyable.

It would be nice to alternate a bit between new and old music, showing musical influences along the way. That would be an especially nice thing to do during certain hours. Heck, if the station got to be good enough to be noticed by musicians themselves, it would be awesome to do interview sessions with the artists where they sit down and talk about the music that influenced them, letting it play and talking about it in-between tracks.

I also thought it would be great to have some time on certain weeknights (or, more likely, the weekend) when local and visiting DJs come in to spin some dance music. I figure maybe a good DJ could come in at least once a week, though the station could still have an hour or two of dance/electronic/ambient music each night or every other night.

Another time slot could be dedicated to “Jam Sessions” where jazz-style music could be played by live bands or random recordings (this would also be a good time to schedule a lot of music by Phish and other similar groups). An evening hour might be dedicated to stress relief by playing some fairly angst-ridden music for much of the hour, with a transition out to something more upbeat toward the end of the session.

Part of the idea behind the station would be a good system for selecting what music to play. Being a computer geek, I figure this would probably revolve around some specialized software for selecting appropriate tracks from a music database. I figure part of the DJs' jobs would be to go through the music library, cataloguing the music, assigning the various genres, influences, artists, etc. that are represented by the songs. Information like that as well as descriptions of the intro/exit of each song, such as the beats per minute and what instruments are used (maybe even the pitch). Maybe it's an impossibly high standard to reach, but the Cities stations seem to be bordering impossibly low standards at the
moment.

Since I'm a Linux geek, and since I just read Linus Torvalds' book, I figure it would be good to have a fairly “open” radio station. At the very least, I would want to have an online database available for listeners to look up popular songs, and what was playing at a particular moment on the radio. It might be a good idea to open-source the software used for cataloguing music—maybe even the database itself. A lot of people would think it's crazy, I guess.

Also, it would be beneficial to have listener input on how to make the station more enjoyable for them. I already know that people hate ads. I personally dislike a lot of the DJs out there—they talk too much, or at least mention things I could care less about. I'd rather have the DJs merely mention who just played (and the song/album titles) and then mention who's coming up, instead of talking about boring crap. I want the station to be about the music.

Anyway, it's only an idea. I'm sure it'll never get past that stage. Something that would be nice to have, but will never happen.

Posted by mike at 08:01 PM Central | Family , Kentucky 2004 , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 20, 2004

The Mormon in Me

Today, I guess we spent more time looking over the history of my father's side of the family. There are a lot more relatives than I really ever thought of. My grandmother grew up in Mississippi, I guess. A county neighboring Lincoln county, I believe (the county name must come from an American Indian word, so I can't remember it). Anyway, there was a school/university there that she attended. I guess I don't really know why my grandmother left Mississippi, though. Maybe my grandfather had gone down there for a time or something.

Anyway, her last name was originally Guynes (pronounced “gwines”), and the name can be traced back a while. The name was originally adapted from a French name, apparently. Her grandfather (Henry Hill Guynes, Jr., I think) served in the Civil War (for the South). He'd been in several battles, from what I understand, but ended up being captured in the Battle of Vicksburg, and was held prisoner until the war ended. It sounds like he walked all the way back, though his shoes were chewed up long before then and he showed up at home barefoot.

Of course, this leads my grandmother to say something along the lines of, “and that's how bad those Yankees were when they held prisoners,” though if memory serves, I seem to recall the South being much worse about prisoner welfare than the North. As with any war, I'm sure bad stuff happened on both sides…

I believe that she came from the Guynes and Biggs families (maybe the Love family), and my grandfather came from the Hicks and Yenowine families. My dad has done some of the genealogy of the whole thing, of course, so I can just ask him at some point, though certain parts are missing. We went through some of the family photos that are kept here, so I got to see some of the faces. Still, I never knew them really…

My grandmother is always proud to mention her father, who had lost his left arm when he was fairly young. Not the whole arm, but there was only a stub below his elbow. Apparently he could climb trees without a second thought, and he was a good carpenter (even metalworker, maybe) with just the one hand. He'd invented a utensil that acted as a combination knife and fork. One side had a heavier curved edge used for cutting, though it still had the tines of a fork. Need to get me one of those (I use my fork for cutting all the time! ;-)

While my grandmother's side of the family is mostly farther south, I guess my grandfather's side has been in this area for a long time. There's a map in the den that shows some of the area around Louisville (though not this far out in the country). The funny thing about the map is that it shows the region of Jeffersontown by mapping out some of the roads, but it mostly has little squares showing where each family lived! I don't think I've ever seen anyone make a map that way. Anyway, it explains some of the landmark names around here. There's a Kennedy school, but it's not named after the former president—it's named for the guy that lived across the street! I guess there's a Brown's Lane (or something similar) in town, named for the Brown family (families?) that lived in that area. I think that's really funny in a way…

Anyway, my family history in the U.S. is a little more interesting than I had thought. I just never heard a whole lot about it for one reason or another. I suppose I still don't even know a whole lot about my mother's side of the family either—it just garners a bit more interest since they came over to this country much more recently. Plus, that makes me 50% Norwegian with the other 50% divided up into all sorts of stuff… Much easier to deal with that side in some ways.

I think I'm going to try to sneak into the TV room around 7:00 so I can watch last night's episode of The Daily Show. Well, it'll probably be a repeat anyway. It would be nice to see something funny on the TV for once this week. I haven't had much fun in front of the tube down here.

Posted by mike at 04:29 PM Central | Family , Kentucky 2004 , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 21, 2004

Speed Demons

Sorry to everyone who still bothers to read my entries on LiveJournal. It sucks to be you right now because all of my entries for the past week have suddenly appeared on your friends pages. Sorry about that, but you can blame the LJ staff, since their software doesn't properly parse the timestamps in my entries :-p

If anyone wants to read my slideshow-esque recounting of the week's events, take a look at this category on my website.

Today, my dad and I managed to pull out of my grandparents' driveway around 8:20 AM (7:20 in this time zone). We didn't have too many stops, and managed to arrive in Byron at about 7:20 PM. 12 hours isn't too bad for 750 miles. It looked to me like some snow had melted along the way, but it's hard to say how much, exactly. All I know is, last night I heard motorbikes revving in the distance. Tonight, it's snowmobiles.

I drove probably about a third of the way, including the last stretch on the way home. The only time on the whole trip where you can legally go above 65 mph is in Minnesota, where the Interstate highway speed is 70 mph (well, you only get that high in rural areas, and nobody counts the stretch of I-94 from the Cities out to Hudson for some reason…) My dad pointed out to me that there was actually only one I-Pass–only lane in the center. The lanes to the left are the automatic buckets, and the lanes to the right have people in them to make change.

We had lunch in Urbana-Champaign, supper not far past Tomah (where I-90 and I-94 split in Wisconsin), and even got to listen to some NPR on the radio on the way. That Danville radio station I had liked on the way down has either changed formats to talk or had some strange program on while we came through before noon. Oh well.

I had a strange service provider pop up on my cell phone in Wisconsin. Einstein PCS? Never heard of them. Hopefully the call from my uncle I got won't give me any extra charges, since I was on that network at the time.

Last night, I didn't get to watch The Daily Show like I wanted. Supper was delayed, and we didn't even begin to eat until 7:00. But, my Dad and I stayed up until 10:00 to watch the episodef of Monk that was on USA. My parents are cable-impared, and miss out on that show since ABC is being idiotic about scheduling the show, since they aren't playing it very often. Dumbasses.

Now that I've rained the bits and bytes of hell upon everyone, it's time for me to check some e-mail, and probably go to bed early…

I should be heading back to Minneapolis tomorrow.

Posted by mike at 10:35 PM Central | Car , Kentucky 2004 , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 22, 2004

Beyond Blunderdome

Blech, I'm sleepy. My sleep schedule is somewhat off since I ended up sleeping more with no Internet and restricted TV. Now I'm tired since I was in the next timezone, I guess. Oh well, I'll be back to what passes for normal in no time.

I think that at about 9:00 PM on the Friday before I left, I realized that I should probably try to call Erik and hang out with him more often. In theory, he's helping with teaching at the school right next to my apartment, so it wouldn't be hard to visit with him if he has an open schedule afterward… I suppose my desire to get to know some girls may have led me to distance myself from my male friends. I needed time to recover from being around guys all of the time in my CSci classes, I guess. Still, I'd want to spend time with some girls if the opportunity arose, but that's not going to happen if I never hang out with anybody…

I was guilted into going to church this morning in Rochester. It would have been nice to lounge around after driving all day yesterday, but no… I was worried that one of the pastors would mention Mel Gibson's movie, and one of them did. I was seconds away from getting up from my pew and leaving the sanctuary, but he managed to stop talking about it before that happened. It would have turned into a mess if I had left—my parents were on my left, and my brother and one of the church's pastors was on the right. Neither direction was a good option. Oh well, the guy didn't outright say, “you should go see this movie,” he just said something like “it sounds like this is an accurate portrayal of what [is believed to have] happened.” Still, I wish he'd actually see the movie before promoting it in any way.

But, I'm in Minneapolis now. Brought my brother up with me, since he'd visited home over the weekend. There was a little tension since we might have had to deal with bad weather, but things cleared up by the time we left (still wet on the road in some places, but not too bad).

Now I see that The Daily Show was all repeats this last week, so I didn't miss anything there. I'll have to go through the other shows my computer recorded and see if anything interesting showed up over the week (there appears to be a good Frontline episode).

Oh yeah—I'm glad Ralph Nader decided to run again. I wasn't sure if I wanted him there or not, but the Democratic nomination race is kicking out the candidates I like (er, the main candidate I liked, at least). By the way, the “Nader is a spoiler” argument doesn't carry any weight with me. In Florida in 2000, Gore and Bush were separated by 537 votes. The 10th-place finisher, James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party, had 558 votes, so that theoretically makes about eight people possibly responsible if you want to play the candidate blame game. In truth, the voting in Florida was just fubar in general (with tens of thousands of ballots considered “spoiled”), so you can't blame any of them.

Posted by mike at 10:23 PM Central | Daily Show , Decision 2000 , Decision 2004 , Erik , Family , Movies , Music , Ralph Nader , School , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2004

The Quotable Chode

Aagh! Life is not better with the butterfly. Stupid Flash-based ads keep on pegging my CPU from time to time. They pretty much lock up my browser every once in a while, but the really evil ones have at least been becoming less common lately. I have a hunch that the Linux version of the Flash player doesn't timeslice with the browser properly, though I suppose it could be the browser's fault.

I set up my computer to record Tripping the Rift on SciFi, but I don't know if I'll like it. I was kind of surprised by the fact that Gina Gershon plays Six in that. The voice in the ads sounds like Terry Farrell to me.

Oh weird—now that I look up Terry Farrell on IMDB, I see that she did do the voice of Six in a Tripping the Rift short made in 2000. Maybe they're making the ads from the original short? I dunno. Wow. She grew up in Iowa too. Funky.

Anyway, I really have no idea what Gina Gershon sounds like, so it would be hard for me to tell if they have similar voices. I only know Farrell's voice since she was on for most of Deep Space Nine and had been on Becker for quite a while (not that I ever watched it much). I think I've only seen significant amounts of two of Gershon's movies (neither of which is Bound or Showgirls, by the way). Such a sheltered life I lead…

Posted by mike at 06:27 PM Central | Internet , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 02, 2004

Heavy Emo

Apparently the halls of JPL have been abuzz with talk of “significant findings” from data being returned by the Mars rovers. There's going to be a press conference on NASA TV at 1 PM CST (though they have a knack for delaying press releases for one reason or another). Anyway, it might actually be interesting to see, so I'll be on Ch. 77 this afternoon. However, I imagine it's just something simple about water, so that would fulfill the missions' goals, but in the end I'm not sure if it will excite people very much.

Weird. I downloaded a video of Electric Six's “Gay Bar,” hoping that it was a larger version of this, but instead found it to be the regular version. It had been captured off of MTV2, and I noticed that the words “war” and “nuclear” were censored. What?!? A guy writhing around in various skimpy outfits with phallic symbols all around is fine, but mention war and you're out of the picture? Viacom is one messed-up organization…

Posted by mike at 10:17 AM Central | Music , News , TV , The Media | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 03, 2004

Go Stewie! Go Stewie! Who's Your Daddy?

Yay! New episodes of Family Guy will begin airing in January 2005. Woo! They will at least be on Cartoon Network, but Fox might also air them.

I put an article up on the Twin Cities Independent Media Center site about the caucuses. It's kind of disappointing to see that the IMC has pretty much turned into just a protest organization with articles that usually have very slanted views. That's not to say that my article wasn't slanted in any way, but I think it's a lot less volatile than most of the stuff that shows up there. It's a site full of editorials rather than actual news… I suppose some of the more neutral people have spent more time on Wikipedia instead.

Update: Oh yeah. Two other things I wanted to mention but don't feel like writing much about now: McDonald's to dump supersize portions and Ed Asner reprises his gruff newsman's role for KSTP.

Posted by mike at 03:25 PM Central | Internet , News , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 05, 2004

To the Sixty-Nines

I went to a job fair at the Radisson today (er, yesterday, since I'm up late). The place was packed, and I got pretty excited to see so many people there. It was weird to see so many people wearing suits or at least slacks, nice shirts, and ties (like me). Given my past experience at job fairs, I expected to be toward the high end with my appearance, but there were plenty of people that went above and beyond. Only a very small number of attendees were wearing the clothes I'd expect from students and recent grads.

Of course, upon talking to people, I realized the reason: Sales. Bah. Everyone was looking for salespeople, and I figure the job fair must have been hyped over at Carlson (it would explain the nice attire, since nobody else on campus normally gives a crap about that sort of thing). I ended up giving out two resumés, though. One was with Accenture—that company kind of scares me since they seemed to be a big source of trouble regarding CSOM's out-of-control spending on their website. Another was Eschelon (that's with an s, not without ;-) which I'd never heard of before. One lady there was really excited to meet me. Well, she didn't really seem to be an excitable person, but she promised me an interview which is good. It would be a tech support helpdesk-type thing, but I'm open to lots of things these days.

On the political side of things, I posted to the LiveJournal Twin Cities community the Independence Party preliminary results. Okay, the presidential results actually scare me a bit so far, but we'll see if things change as they go through the different runoff rounds. However, I liked most of the other resolution results, though I'm not exactly sure what it takes for them to be passed (I'd personally only want the ones above 50% to really count, but that's just me).

Oh, and I got my computer to record Tripping the Rift. Wow. That was really excellent (even if God doesn't get killed in the end).

Posted by mike at 01:22 AM Central | Decision 2004 , Politics , TV , Work | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

March 07, 2004

Ad-Aware

Okay, I'll bare one of my deep, dark obsessions to the world… (Okay, it's really neither deep nor dark, but this girl's face is one that I definitely notice.) Unceremoniously stolen from here:

Ramona Pringle as Heidi, the Ricola girl DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THAT RICOLA GIRL (Who Is Heidi????)

Well the internet has been buzzing about who this young lovely is. Her name is Ramona Pringle, and if you just can't get enough of that heavenly face, you should buy Model Behavior on VHS. Ramona has a featured part in this fun and funny Disney film. It's a great one for the whole family—but most especially for Ramona Pringle fans!

Also stars: Justin Timberlake, Maggie Lawson, Kathie Lee Gifford

There's also another page with a strangely freaky picture.

Posted by mike at 11:13 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

March 16, 2004

Eats Good!

Sweet! Good Eats Geek Code.

Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!

Heh.

Posted by mike at 06:02 PM Central | Food , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 18, 2004

Black

Ugh. We had a power outage in my apartment building. It appears that only a few blocks were affected (maybe only ours), but maybe we were on the edge of something. Anyway, two of my three computers (er, three out of my four, if you count the laptop, but it's unaffected by piddly hour-long periods without current) are functioning now. One of them has experienced some hard disk corruption, it appears. Now, the challenge of finding a Linux recovery disk or CD that can handle the 200GB hard drive and the ATA133 controller.

Yay.

The moment of community togetherness involved in the outage was my joining Adam and Kari on a trip to a bookstore. Well, it was a place I'd never been before, which was something I needed anyway.

I almost picked up a book named Tube about the history of television, but it was a $30 hardcover and I figured my money could be better spent on other things at the moment.

I want money.

Posted by mike at 06:42 PM Central | Abode , Adam , Books , Hardware , Kari , Laptop , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 19, 2004

Spotless Sunshine of the Eternal Mind

I am disturbed by the fact that I was almost born on the same date as Clay Aiken. Yay Mom for getting me out before midnight.

I went to see Eternal Sunshine today. It was really good. Charlie Kaufman does good work—and Michel Gondry does too, for that matter. I was actually thinking that some scenes in the movie looked like Gondry's previous work (I picked up a DVD of the music videos he's made), but I didn't know he had anything to do with the movie until I got home and looked it up on IMDB.

Anyway, good movie, yadda yadda yadda. It's one of those that you need to think about a bit to get the scenes properly re-ordered in your mind, but it's nice to occasionally see a movie that requires your neurons to actually exercise a bit.

Most of the previews didn't do anything for me. There was one for Saved! which seems to be set in a Catholic school. Seemed like it could be a good antidote for that other Jesus movie, but I'm not entirely sure. It's definitely targeted toward the teenage crowd, though I don't know what direction it's supposed to be going with regard to the basic religion question. Hmm. Mandy Moore as an overdone Jesus Freak? Heh.

There was also a preview for Garden State that looked interesting. I know I was partially hypnotized by the trailer's background (or foreground, since there's pretty much zero dialogue) music. Well, whatever. Hmm. Looks like it's basically Zach Braff's very own movie. Wacky.

Posted by mike at 05:51 PM Central | Movies , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 23, 2004

Celebrityating

Happy Birthday, Keri Russell! Hahaha ;-)

God, I'm a dork.

Posted by mike at 05:07 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 29, 2004

Duh-du-lun-dun-dun-dun

Heh. The opening riff of “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA sounds a lot like the Invader Zim theme song.

Posted by mike at 01:39 PM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Senseless Randomness

Oh good. People are getting stabbed where we used to live.

George W. Bush has claimed exclusive right to Bible verse (not that I was using it anyway).

I don't know what Ralph Nader is up to. It's weird that he's supposedly coordinating with Kerry somehow, but I guess nothing has actually happened yet. I'm not a big fan of Kerry, though I might possibly consider maybe voting for him if he shows an ability to debate remotely like he did back in 1971 when he got airtime as a disgruntled Vietnam veteran. Last night, C-SPAN ran a debate he had with someone on The Dick Cavett Show. If he showed that level of resourcefulness against George W. Bush, he'd probably win hands-down.

Posted by mike at 09:00 PM Central | Politics , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 30, 2004

That's Robert Novak: A Douchebag for Liberty

Like that title? Thank Jon Stewart, though I have no idea how The Daily Show can repeatedly use the word “douchebag” without getting in at least a little trouble. Makes me think of when they forgot to bleep “fuckers” a few weeks ago. I think that was on a Thursday—the next Monday, Stewart said something along the lines of, “We thought that [with all the Janet Jackson stuff] we'd get a call. But you know what? Nobody called!”

Always good to know the FCC is paying attention. Yeah, they basically give cable a free ride, in my opinion. On the other hand, I think the broadcast networks can get held back a bit too much from time to time. Well, except Fear Factor is on NBC. Sheesh, I don't know. I'm just generally displeased with television these days. Just give me PBS, TechTV, The History Channel, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network, and I'll be happy. Okay, there are a few other shows I like. Say, Monk and Las Vegas.

Well, I just did my phone interview for that Medtronic position. I think it went well, though I imagine they'll have more qualified people anyway. I haven't used some of the software that they mentioned. But, those pieces are only moderately important, I think… Still, the position is only a month or so, though it's theoretically contract-to-hire (at least, that was the initial impression I was given).

Well, I have some errands to run today. I plan to finally buy an iron and ironing board, get a haircut, copy my cable bill so I can get that deduction when I pay rent, and maybe pay some other bills. Hmm. I should get one of those 12-pocket folders so I can save my pile of old bills somewhere.

Heh. This was me yesterday:

Posted by mike at 12:13 PM Central | Daily Show , Internet , Self , TV , The Media , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 02, 2004

The Destroyer of Worlds

You may have already seen news reports discussing Rwanda. The common news practice of remembering anniversaries of major events—especially ones with round numbers—is repeating itself. Ten years ago, there was a fragile peace in the tiny central African country, an area a little bit smaller than Massachusetts in size. Fighting had taken place between the two main ethnic groups in the country, the Hutu and Tutsi, from 1990 to 1992. More than a million people had been killed in that fighting. In 1993, United Nations troops entered the country as a peacekeeping force, though their hands were tied in many ways. In April of 1994, dramatic and tragic events took place extremely quickly.

The President of Rwanda, a fairly moderate Hutu, was killed on April 6th when his plane crashed near the airport in the capital city of Kigali. In the early hours of April 7th, the country began its quick descent into chaos. Hutu extremists who had been laying plans for months went into action, sending death squads out to kill Tutsis where they stood. The speed and ferocity of the squads still shocks anyone who learns about what happened there. In World War II, the Germans industrialized genocide. The Rwandans took the 1990s approach and left out the middleman.

Much of the killing was perpetrated by the death squads (known as Interahamwe), though local governments and state radio induced many citizens to take part in ad-hoc groups. The Hutu had once been the servant class in Rwanda under a Tutsi monarchy. (The name Hutu even means “servant” in their native tongue—their original name is lost to history.) They had a strange sort of timidity to them as they went about their gruesome work. Perhaps because they had been forced to respect authority figures under centuries of Tutsi rule, the Hutu were a very obedient people and did what they were told. When outsiders were present, the Hutu generally stayed away or merely waited for them to go away. In some instances, one or two unarmed U.N. troops “guarding” Tutsi safe havens who merely said “you can't come in here” was all it took to prevent further slaughter.

I mention this because I watched Frontline's “Ghosts of Rwanda” program last night. I thought the program was very well-done, although they seemed to leave out some of the backstory (but I missed the first 10 minutes or so of the show). The episode talked about the failure of the U.N., the U.S., and various other countries to act as a positive force in the conflict.

At the beginning, some Belgian troops assigned to the U.N. peacekeeping force had been killed. This disturbed the public in Belgium, so they withdrew from the peacekeeping mission early on. In order to save face with the international community, the country requested that the U.S. also pull its troops out. We did.

At the time, many observers stated that it would be largely impossible to deploy troops into Rwanda to quell the violence. However, by April 10th, troops totaling 8–10,000 had arrived from the U.S., France, and Belgium to pull out their expatriate populations. If they had stayed, the troops would have made a tremendous difference.

The U.N., which had been organized in part to prevent the atrocities experienced in World War II from ever happening again, was unable to act. I'm not sure if this was because of the U.S. or not. From the program, it seemed that the U.N. Security Council had largely wanted to assist in Rwanda, but I may have misinterpreted what was said about that. In the end, 90% of the U.N. troops were pulled out. Those that stayed were largely unarmed, yet were able to save many thousands of lives just by keeping their eyes open (and, in some cases, doing things that were morally right and just, but technically broke the rules of behavior).

The inaction in Rwanda is partially understandable in the context of Somalia, where the events of Black Hawk Down had taken place just a few months earlier. Still, there had been troops on the ground in Rwanda. The international community failed to act—countries even intentionally acted to get out of the way. The U.S. purposefully avoided even using the term “genocide” until it was too late.

The United States has a tremendous moral and ethical debt to repay to the world. In 100 days, 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutu were killed in the genocide. Individual sites such as churches saw death tolls of over 5000 where people were killed face-to-face by machete and machine gun.

September 11th is piddle.

Posted by mike at 02:19 PM Central | Politics , September 11th , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 04, 2004

It's Only Chocolate

Kind of a movie weekend. I watched Captain Corelli's Mandolin late last night on A&E. I thought it was good, though the ending was fairly compressed. Apparently the book takes a different path. The movie induced me to try and learn a bit more about Italy's role in World War II. Usually, we just hear about the Germans and the Japanese, but nobody discusses Italy much. Of course, they swtched sides partway through the war, which definitely explains things a bit.

Today, After the Thin Man was on TCM, so I watched that. I know I'd seen about half of that movie once before, though I still missed an important point this time. Oh well. Those old Thin Man movies seem to stack up pretty well given that they were made in the 1930s, though there are some things that wouldn't go over well for a modern audience.

Well, I had been thinking of going to see Jersey Girl tonight, but since the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival is going on, I figured I'd try something different. I'd missed most of today's showings, but a movie from Poland named Insatiability (Nienasycenie in Polish) sounded interesting.

It's a movie that is really hard to put into words. I've only been able to find a few English reviews on the Internet, but I think there's general agreement that the movie is ultra-bizarre. One person said that it's so bad, it's brilliant. I don't know if I would call it bad. Okay, yes I would ;-) There are some silly moments that, if it weren't for the extraordinary context, would be thrown out by most people as tripe.

I think you'd be pretty hard-pressed to find something more bizarre than that movie. I'm sure stranger stuff exists, but this was very…different. The movie is based on a book written by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz in 1927. I'm not sure about how close the two are in content, though the retro-futuristic look of the movie would fit if the director was trying to create an environment that was futuristic for 1927…

I guess the film's director, Wiktor Grodecki, had visited this area a while ago and had done some work here, but I don't know much other than that. Someone high up in the film festival's staff (maybe the director or whatever his title would be) had intended to give a nice long introduction for everyone, but he got caught up somewhere else.

Anyway, I think that people who like bizarre movies would like it, though I won't think less—heck, I'd probably think more—of someone who hated the thing.

Posted by mike at 12:57 AM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2004

ArBaedkwo nnIT ehS apecT-mi eoCtnniuu m

Hmm. I suppose it's always been this way, but I've been noticing the word swathe showing up recently. I think that must be the British/colonial spelling, or maybe someone has just neglected to consult their dictonary. In the U.S., it's more common to use swath, and keep swathe as a totally unrelated verb usually reserved for Christmastime (i.e. “swathe him in swaddling clothes”—er, make that “cloths”)

Oh god, I'm becoming an English teacher. That's not right. I used to hate it when strict language rules were imposed on me.

Other little things have been bothering me lately. I wish I knew what the hell Spike TV (née TNN) is doing to mangle their video. Ever since they started airing Star Trek: TNG, I've been annoyed with the weird things they do. It used to be that they'd squeeze the image to fit their little black bar underneath. For the past several months (at least), many Star Trek episodes have very jittery video that makes it hard for me to watch. I noticed it again now that they've started airing Deep Space Nine.

I think they must have some sort of time-compression device set up to squeeze portions of the show, but it leaves troublesome video artifacts. It seems to me that the fields of video (field: 1/2 of a full video frame) have been swapped, though I'm not exactly sure what has happened. I'm going to try to take some frame grabs once DS9 starts showing again today and see if I can figure it out.

If this is what's happening, it might be diagrammed like this:

      normal       inverted
   11111111111   22222222222   odd
   22222222222   11111111111   even
   33333333333   44444444444   odd
   44444444444   33333333333   even
   55555555555   66666666666   odd
   66666666666   55555555555   even
   77777777777   88888888888   odd
   88888888888   77777777777   even

I think the technical term for this is field inversion, though there are a couple of different ways it can get screwed up (I think).

This is why we need progressively-scanned/non-interlaced video. Actually, it's interesting to note that Star Trek was largely recorded on 24 frame-per-second film, so most of the video frames can be un-interlaced (in a sense). The film went through a telecine or 2-3 pulldown process to be converted into 59.94 field-per-second/29.97 frame-per-second video. Given the right software/hardware, it's possible to convert the video back into the film format. Unfortunately, most of the post-production for Star Trek: TNG and DS9 was done on regular video-editing decks that weren't set up to worry about keeping the full frames intact. Many video effects and transitions between different camera shots can't be un-interlaced without exotic tricks.

But, I'm just whining at this point.

Posted by mike at 10:50 AM Central | News , TV | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

April 08, 2004

Plot Holes

Heh. With Condi Rice's testimony today, I figured it was appropriate to point out an old video I've had laying around on my computer for a few years now. In mid-2000, Fox held a sales conference for The Lone Gunmen. The filesystem timestamp on the file on my computer is June 4th of that year, so the actual conference probably happened a few days before then. It shows some scenes from the pilot, which finally aired nine months later on March 4th, 2001. Of course, in the episode, the plane that was flown toward the World Trade Center was controlled from the ground through a high-tech linkup (and the good guys ultimately prevailed).

(You have to go about 90 seconds into the video to get to the relevant bits, but there's a whole trailer…)

Posted by mike at 12:01 PM Central | September 11th , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 09, 2004

That, and Another Piece of Coffee Cake, Should Do the Trick

Frontline had another good show, “Diet Wars”—the whole show will be available online on Saturday for anyone who's interested. Anyway, they just went through the basic stuff that any intelligent person who has read about diets should already know, but it's good to be reminded. I'm interested in heaing more about the theoretical Harvard diet. Wired magazine had a layout comparing the government's food pyramid to other diets out there a few issues back, but it doesn't appear to be on their website…

Anyway, the general conclusion was stuff that some people have known for quite a while—eat unsaturated fats rather than saturated ones, avoid refined carbohydrates in favor of less-refined ones. It's bouncing back from the Atkins craze in a way, dropping the saturated fats and bringing back certain types of carbs.

Oh, and another thing, it's often better to avoid things that say “Low Fat.” The Harvard talking head said that the pre-low fat salad dressings were better for you than the newer varieties. When foods went low-fat, much of the fat was replaced with starches and sugars, leaving the calorie count about the same, though potentially making you want to eat more often due to faster changes in blood glucose levels.

Okay, that's boring. We should exercise more, too… Yadda, yadda, yadda…

I got a call about an interview at MCAD that I'd inquired about a month ago… Sheesh. I'm still waiting to hear about stuff that happened last week, but something good had better turn up soon.

Hmm. Once I get off my butt and send back my broken hard drive, I think I'll set up my computer to record Best Week Ever on Fridays at 10 o'clock, since that's the one day of the work week that The Daily Show isn't on. The bits of Best Week Ever I've seen have been good, so I'll have to keep watching.

Posted by mike at 12:03 AM Central | Daily Show , Food , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 19, 2004

Black Mamba in a Vortex

I'm starting to fall into the habit of exercising a bit while watching/listening to TV. Well, I've mostly been putting in DVDs of Family Guy and watching a few episodes in a stretch while I slowly do situps and a few small weights here and there.

Last year around this time, I managed to exercise almost every day for about 6 weeks. There was sort of a difference, not a whole lot, but it all disappeared pretty quickly anyway. I'm not working nearly as hard this time around, but I think my little winter of discontent made certain areas atrophy to a level that is probably unhealthy. I'm a long way from just being normal, apparently even moreso this time around. My back is hurting less, which is a good indication that I should always try to keep up some minimal exercise and maintain those muscles just a little bit, but I know I will feel cramped for time once I get a job again.

Picked up my brother so we could go see Kill Bill Vol. 2. I guess I went away with the impression that Quentin Tarantino is an asshole for requiring two films to put together that story. Some sequences were almost Kubrickian with the level of boredom they introduced. The “fight” scenes were rather anti-climactic in this episode, IMHO.

We had to run back to my apartment after the movie because of the rain. I was annoyed that weather coverage prevented me from seeing The Simpsons then, but channel 9 finally showed the new episode at 11:00.

I didn't think the weather coverage was very. I suppose it might have something to do with it being Sunday evening, though I guess it looked like every channel had their top weather people there except for ch. 11 (or was Ken Barlow hiding behind the curtain?) The people on TV were saying a lot of words, but they weren't conveying information very well.

Hmm, let's see if I can get some sleep tonight.

Posted by mike at 01:39 AM Central | Exercise , Movies , TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2004

The O'Fish Factor

Frontline had an episode entitled “The Jesus Factor” tonight. The show will be available to watch online on Saturday, and it'll at least air again in the early morning hours coming up. Anyway, it discusses the religious influences on the president.

Posted by mike at 11:25 PM Central | Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 30, 2004

Archangelic

John Troyer's column about a future American civil war is something important to think about. I've been getting an increasing sense that civil war is possible, though I doubt it would be likely. Our country is averse to sending large numbers of people to die.

At any rate, he's right to say that the wounds never fully healed after the first civil war. In many ways, it was still being fought 100 years later, and probably still is today. The Wikipedia article on the origins of the American Civil War describes many things that have parallels today. Of course, the Democrats and Republicans seem to have swapped ideals and allegiances since that time. Many similar tensions seem to be in place today, so I get a little worried from time to time.

Of course, this is not helped by media outlets that often seek conversation by idealists and zealots who have widely divergent viewponts on issues, rather than talking to people who are somewhat less out on the edge. The idealists and zealots should get their fair share of time, but when the public only sees these distant edges of the spectrum, things get very messed up.

I suppose that's why I respect shows like Frontline and Nightline. They talk to the people on the extremes, but also leave enough time to fill in the gradients in between. At least that's how I view them. I suppose others have different perceptions—conservatives still like to call PBS a “notoriously liberal network.” Okay, the artsy/indie shows and NOW with Bill Moyers could be classified as fairly/very liberal, but don't forget that this is the American home of Antiques Roadshow. If PBS is considered the great bastion of liberalism in the same world that plays host to Fox News Channel, someone has a broken calculator.

I kind of feel like I've been thrown into the universe of 1984. I could have sworn that Minnesota went Democratic with a significantly wider margin in the 2000 election. My recollection was that Gore got about 55%, Nader 5%, and Bush 40%, but that's not what the MN Secretary of State's website says. Maybe I just stopped tracking the numbers early and the late returns shifted things a lot. This doesn't seem like it should be a purple state.

An interesting note made in Frontline's “Jesus Factor” show last night is that the best predictor of whether people voted for Bush or Gore in the last election was the frequency at which they attended church. People who went at least once a week were more than 2/3 likely to vote for Bush.

Oh! Oh! You remember that Faith-Based Initiative plan? Turns out that the government is so far only supporting Christian and interfaith organizations, no synagogues or mosques or temples…

OOPS

Posted by mike at 02:12 PM Central | Decision 2000 , Politics , TV , The Media , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 02, 2004

Popstar

Tired: Waiting for the Olsen Twins to turn 18.

Wired: Waiting for Lindsay Lohan to turn 18.

Posted by mike at 07:19 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 06, 2004

Extreme Monkover

So yeah, I did get sucked into watching the Friends finale. I'm a sucker for the Ross/Rachel storyline. I think the downturn in that contributed heavily to the fact that I haven't watched the show very often for a long time.

Anyway, the way they wrapped it up was okay… They waited too long in the episode to resolve it, IMHO, so there wasn't enough denouement. Whatever. That's what reunion shows are for ;-)

So, I'm flipping through the channels as I wait for The Daily Show to come on, and I come across this eerily familiar show on TV Land. I couldn't remember what the hell it was, although the dialogue was echoing is my head. Turns out that it was the shortlived Ferris Bueller series. And Jennifer Aniston was in that too. Wacky. (Of course, it's not coincidence—TV Land was running shows that members of the Friends cast had been in previously.)

(Update: “Okay. Synchronize Swatches!” Heh.)
(Update Update Crap. That was Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Those two shows bled together for me, since I was, like, 12.)

Blech. Just the Ten of Us? Blech. That one deserved to die.

Posted by mike at 09:36 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 07, 2004

Abu Ghraib

NBC's new Thursday night slogan:

At least they're being honest about how that makes them feel ;-)

Posted by mike at 11:29 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 09, 2004

Branch Prediction

Well, I can't say that my car is the neatest thing since sliced bread, but at least I still barely break the $20 mark when filling up the tank. I guess if I was driving on fumes, it might hit $25, but I usually don't let it get that low. The tank is only 11 or 12 gallons, but it gets 30 mpg or so to compensate. Not bad for an '88. Of course, I pay for that in the fact that I can't pass worth shit, but hey ;-)

Anyway, I just found out today on Car Talk that GM's Chevy Silverado (aka GMC Sierra) hybrid gets really poor mileage, even considering the fact that its conventional counterpart doesn't do very well either. It only gets 16 mpg city/19 mpg highway in the 4WD version. That's pretty sad, only improving things by one or two miles per gallon. Even on a percentage basis, it's a poor improvement for a hybrid—you get a bigger difference in switching fuel or getting the 2WD version instead. I guess GM is too enamored with hydrogen power to play with hybrid technology very much. Oh well, I guess you can use the standard phrases: “It's better than nothing” and “They need to start somewhere.”

Ford's Escape hybrid has been on the drawing boards for a while, and it looks like that's going to be significantly better. The standard vehicle gets 20 mpg or so, and the hybrid versions will bring it up to 35 to 40 mpg. Definitely not bad, though Ford hasn't said what the cost is yet, I guess.

Today was Mother's Day, of course. I got Bowfinger for my mom, since she liked that movie (she's a fan of Steve Martin who hasn't given up on him yet, I guess ;-)

Anyway, we all went out to get a snack at Ben & Jerry's when my parents came up this afternoon. Took some time to find a parking spot, and we ended up just stopping in the Radisson ramp. My brother said that the Oak Street ramp was closed for construction—right on finals week, no less. Maybe he was misinformed, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised if the U decided that finals was the best time to start construction work.

My mom dragged us to Walter Library, where she'd heard that the ceiling was nice, and she figured it might provide good inspiration for quilts. In fact, I bet she's seen the ceiling before, back when I was touring campus and before the guts of the building got ripped out. Anyway, we got a few pictures of the ceiling. We'll see if anything comes of that.

We went out to Como Park, which was just about as busy as I expected it to be. It wasn't totally impossible to find a spot, but it was still pretty busy and took us several minutes. We saw the carousel, toured the conservatory, and then left before the weather started to roll in. The sirens were just starting to go off in Hennepin County as we got to my place, so we tried to check out what the weather people on TV were saying. It still seemed like a lot of chatter with little real useful information.

Anyway, we stayed at my place until the tornado warning expired. A little bit of stuff got blown around, plus a medium-sized chunk of tree across the street came down. We left to get over to Panera, and as we drove past the tree branches, my brother and I dragged them to the side of the road. We had some food, and then my parents headed out to drop my brother back at his dorm room.

So, a fairly typical family interaction. They had to deal with some moderately heavy weather as the went back home, but I guess it only delayed them a few minutes.

Posted by mike at 09:59 PM Central | Car , Family , Food , TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pod People

Eep. I saw a Dianetics promo on cable access earlier this week, and right now another one is running in Spanish.

Disturbing.

Posted by mike at 10:39 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2004

Ride of the Valkyries

I'm baffled by the crap that American Movie Classics has been playing recently. I mean, Dudley Do-Right? Come on!

There seems to be an emerging relation between this AMC and that other AMC.

Had a job interview today at the U law school. It went okay, not great. Might have a second interview next week or so.

I went back to the library yesterday and read some more about the old streetcars that used to go through Minneapolis and other cities around here. I read through the book The Electric Railways of Minnesota, which turned out to be a much more technical book than I expected. Rosters of the different streetcars, where they came from, precise maps of the rails and streets of the era, construction of the railway. All sorts of stuff that would really excite some people, but I think most would get pretty bored by it.

There's a lot of really fascinating history to the old railway, but the human side of the story seems to be fading away in favor of business details (not really surprising though, since that book was compiled in large part by sifting through company records). Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places.

Ugh. I'm tired and need a nap. I think I need to move this fall to someplace where there aren't school buses driving by every two minutes in the morning. I'm off the main drag here, but the noise carries across the park, everybody seems to keep their cars here during the day, and the noise from the school gets to be annoying sometimes.

I guess this is what you get for living in the city, but I know there are quiter places nearby. Still, a lot of people seem to think that the city absolutely must be noisy. There was an entry on LiveJournal's Twin Cities community about motorcycles, and I largely agreed with it. I hate loud motorcycles. There is no reason for a small two-wheeled vehicle to make more noise than the average semi. Still, everybody ganged up on the guy who complained. Sheesh. Motorcycles can be very quiet, and there are people out there who actually like to have quiet rides.

Posted by mike at 03:45 PM Central | Books , Movies , Self , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 27, 2004

Blue Man Group

Heh. Ken Barlow made a funny during the weather tonight on ch. 11. He was outside, where it had started raining. He was handed an orangish-red umbrella, but he didn't like it. He eventually threw it away since he just thought it was silly. Then, it started to rain harder, so he took off the sportcoat he was wearing. He was wearing a light blue shirt underneath. As the rain hit his shirt, the shirt became darker, so the color of his shirt got pretty close to the color of the blue screen. He basically started to disappear.

Anyway, I thought it was funny, but maybe it's just because I was tired.

Posted by mike at 12:46 AM Central | TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 03, 2004

Welcome to the Cult of Aveda

Hm. Danny Masterson is playing on an episode of Celebrity Poker Showdown, and is playing for the charity Citizens Commission on Human Rights. A little bell rang in my head when I heard that because—wait for it—Masterson is a Scientologist, and CCHR is a Scientology front group.

Posted by mike at 11:07 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 05, 2004

Another One Bites the Dust.

I signed up for Netflix on Wednesday. They shipped some DVDs on Thursday, which I got yesterday. I watched The Office yesterday, but wasn't very impressed by it. It was more ouch funny than ha-ha funny. I prefer ha-ha funny, thank you. Today I watched Spirited Away, but I think my lack of interest in the fantasy side of sci-fi/fantasy caused contributed to my lack of any real opinion on it. Kind of unfortunate.

I should probably recommend Netflix to my parents since they now have a fairly nice TV but no cable (not that they'd necessarily like cable anyway, I think). When nothing is on, they could just pop in a DVD instead. Oh well, maybe the lack of anything interesting on the tube contributes to them actually getting things done.

I'm in danger of overflowing the queue fairly soon, though topping it off would probably involve TV shows more than anything else. They're still a relatively sparse thing on my list, but I suppose more might get added in later.

We'll see how the three-at-a-time thing goes for me. I have a suspicion that this arrangement could leave me in a lurch on weekend. Netflix doesn't send out new discs on Saturday, Sunday, or postal holidays, so there will probably be a few Sundays and Mondays when I get stuck with nothing, but it's hard to say how quickly I'll go through new discs. This is particularly true since turnaround time also has to be factored in, and I don't know how that works yet.

If they send out a new disc on the same day they receive a returned one, if I send a disc in on Friday, I probably wouldn't get anything until Tuesday at least (fortunately Minneapolis has overnight shipping). If it takes a day for turnaround, it could be Wednesday. Of course, things get worse if the local shipping center doesn't have a movie. My parents are probably in an overnight shipping region, but it could be two nights for them.

Anyway, I might personally have to go up to the five-at-a-time system, but I doubt I'd ever need the eight-at-a-time subscription. I was thinking that my parents might prefer the four-movie-a-month subscription, but that might not quite be enough.

Well, in other news, my building is now owned by a new company. I have to remember to write my checks to them instead this coming month. I also don't know if the arrangement where I deduct my month's cable bill from rent (well, the portion paying for TV, not Internet) is still in force or not. It would suck if that went away.

Hmm. Time to skim the U's job website yet again. This job search is getting totally ridiculous.

Posted by mike at 07:32 PM Central | Abode , Family , Internet , Movies , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Out of Time

Argh. I'll be avoiding the TV until this Reagan thing blows over. I was already sort of planning on it due to the 60th anniversary of D-Day. A few shows about it are okay, but it's just been all over for the past few months. Now we have a former Republican president die, so there are countless interviews with Republican representatives, governors, etc., including Tim Pawlenty. Apparently he ordered the flags around the capitol lowered to half-staff for 30 days. 30 days? Flags weren't even lowered for that long after September 11th, I don't think… Hearing that, I just had to turn it off.

I mean, I liked Ronnie when I was a kid, he seemed like a grandfather figure. I appreciate that people should be nice when someone dies, and I know that he was pretty popular after being in office a while. Still, not acknowledging that some people didn't like him seems wrong.

Oh well, I suppose I would have gotten mad at people who pointed out such things after Wellstone died. Oh well, at least Wellstone wasn't involved in Iran-Contra or supplying weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein. And when exactly did our national debt start to increase so dramatically? Oh, the 1980s? Gee whiz Gipper, what's up with that?

Ugh. I'm sure somebody mentioned at least one of those things. I just can't sit through enough stuff to see it. Just seeing the Republican pod-people everywhere gets me sick of everything after a while.

Posted by mike at 10:18 PM Central | Politics , September 11th , TV | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

June 11, 2004

At Least I'll Wake Up

Oh, isn't C-SPAN great? If you get sick of watching the funeral of the guy who died last weekend, you can watch the funeral of the guy who keeled over in 1973.

Riveting.

Okay, I have to go make my bed now. And then I'm gonna sleep in it.

Posted by mike at 12:09 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 14, 2004

That Means You're Not Ticklish

I finally saw this weekend's Best Week Ever. I was kind of disappointed… It seemed to be pretty dull this time around. Oh well, they can't all be great. Maybe it was fine, and there was something wrong with my perspective on things. I was probably thrown off-balance beforehand because the show on just prior listed Jessica Simpson as Maxim magazine's #1 something-or-other. Bleh.

Screw you, and the horse you rode in on.

Or something.

Ugh. I hope I get a call about an interview tomorrow. A good interview, where I actually get the job.

I called the friend I had tried to call before, and finally talked to her this time. I probably called at a bad time, since she didn't seem all that excited. But then, I seem to recall that she often didn't seem all that excited back in high school. This is kind of why I never call anyone.

Posted by mike at 12:08 AM Central | TV , Work | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

June 16, 2004

What Would Dan Quayle Say About That?

Not a whole lot has been happening, mostly just watching TV and movies, and applying for jobs. Today I had to go pick up Erik at the airport, after he came back from an interview in Washington state. Sarah IMed me around 10:30 or 11:00, but the only info she had was the time he expected to be ready to be picked up (she couldn't do it because she was doing CPR training). He didn't respond to any phone calls, so he must have been in the air already by that time.

Well, I got down there alright, but it turned out that I was at the wrong terminal. He must have flown Sun Country or something, since he had to be picked up at the Humphrey Terminal rather than the Lindbergh Terminal. Oops. So, I swung through Lindbergh one more time, since I wasn't sure if there was a quick exit from there down to Humphrey (there may have been, but I don't know where it would have been). So, I got back on the highway and got off at the right exit, but I've never driven to Humphrey before, and I've only ever been there about three times in my whole life—sometimes late at night, so I had few spatial references. Anyway, I ended up messing up my maneuvers a few times just because I was anticipating having to do things before I really had to. Then, I accidentally took a turn toward Lindbergh again. No! I hate it when I'm forced to drive like I don't know where I'm going.

Anyway, I finally made it there, and it probably would have been a lot easier if I just hadn't tried so hard to be ready for the unexpected. Then, there was the escapade of getting back to Erik's place. Well, Sarah called asking for an update just a few minutes after we left the airport, and then I missed the turn I wanted to take just as I picked up the call (See!? Driving and cell phones don't mix—except when you're trying to get pic up someone who is at the wrong terminal ;-)

Well, I'm not even sure if you can get from northbound I-35E to westbound I-94 anyway. We ended up taking U.S. 52, since I know that road, but we had to wait as traffic was backed up at the point where that road essentially ends to become surface streets. Things went okay on 94, but I got off on 280 and then improperly took the Energy Park Drive exit. D'oh. So, back to Minneapolis and up to Como (which we wouldn't have had to do, if the traffic hadn't been so heavy on that road too). Oh well, I guess I gave Erik the grand tour, which will be good for posterity, just in case he gets that job in Washington.

I went out for an evening walk today around the St. Anthony Falls trail loop and Nicollet Island. It was really nice until the mosquitos started biting a bit, but they didn't show up much until I was about ready to be done anyway.

The walk was made a lot more enjoyable by the fact that I've indulged in watching some DVDs starring my favorite female celebrity. I've written before about how just seeing or hearing someone I find attractive can really calm me down and make me happier. I think I really needed that, at least now that I think about how low I was feeling last weekend. Still, it is and will remain as one of those intangible things, since this is a person I'll never meet.

She was in the war movie We Were Soldiers a little bit. Probably not enough time to justify if it was a crappy movie, but I thought it was good, even though there was no single concise message it tried to portray. It's mostly just a movie about a battle plus a little bit about the families the soldiers left behind. It's a good movie if you just want to see how things happened, but not so good if you want a movie that answers the “why”s of war.

Today, Netflix delivered the first disc of the TV show my favorite celebrity was on. I'd actually added this to my queue and pushed it near the top of the list over the weekend when I was feeling down, since I knew it would help in a weird way. It's emotionally wrenching and draining sometimes, but it's also good since it shows that at least someone else in TV land understands that good, honest, yet quiet people like myself actually exist. Well, not that I'd ever be picked out of a lineup for my good looks or anything…

Unfortunately, there are some semi-technical issues with the DVDs, so I guess I'm glad I didn't follow the impulse I had over the weekend to just go out and buy the first season or two. Some of the music was changed (though I might not notice—it may have been changed already in reruns, which is where I first watched the show) and the video was not telecined properly for DVD distribution to make most video frame progressive-scan. That's kind of dumb, since a telecined TV show can take up significantly less space on the disc, either allowing a higher per-frame bitrate, or more video on each disc. Oh well, fortunately my DVD playing software has a video filter that will clean it up for me and give me nice non-interlaced output.

Hmm. I guess I may as well mention that, while I was walking around this evening, the voice of Ira Glass of This American Life popped into my head. A second later I thought, “You know, I bet my favorite celebrity would like that radio show.” So, I got home and was randomly reading articles about said person, and found out that she indeed listens to the show. I've decided that I won't make anything of it other than say, “Heh. That's funny,” since, well, millions of people like that show.

Oh, also, my brother is living in a place owned by someone Erik knows (and I suspect that other people I know may also know her). On our screwed up drive around town, I pointed out the road my brother lives on, and Erik said that his friend Vanessa owned a place there. I think I may have met her way in the past too, but I can't really remember. She seemed familiar when we met.

Posted by mike at 11:24 PM Central | Car , Erik , Family , Movies , Sarah , TV , War | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

June 21, 2004

Come Sail Away

Agh! I complained about Danny Masterson playing for a Scientology front organization a while ago, and now I see that his brother, Christopher Masterson, is also playing for the same organization on Celebrity Poker Showdown. What the hell? How did both of them get on that show? Messed up…

Posted by mike at 11:34 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 02, 2004

Stuffing

/me bows to the A/C

No really big plans this weekend, other than to find some way to get to Harriet Island tomorrow for Taste of Minnesota and the whole Grand Excursion thingamabob (I think that's where the steamboats are landing).

Next weekend, on the 11th, my parents are coming up to go to the 72nd annual Norway Day at Minnehaha Park. We'll probably take the light rail line down there. I'm not sure where we'll begin—it could potentially be a few minutes shorter to take the bus from my brother's place rather than coming from my neck of the woods.

Then again, things might be different if my parents want to start at the end of the line. I'll just have to remember to get them to sit or stand facing forward when we come back to downtown, since there's quite a nice view of the U of M campus, downtown, and other stuff from up on the bridge near the Lake Street station.

Supposedly David Sedaris will be on David Letterman tonight. I should try to catch that.

Hmm. Actually, I need to catch up on some NPR shows. Hmm. And I probably need to find out how to get the newer RealPlayer streams going if I want to listen to Car Talk. Stupid codecs.

Work is going, but it's not hugely wonderfully awesome or anything. I made a goof earlier in the day that may have messed some things up that I really didn't want to mess up. Also, I'm kind of wondering if I will be paid a bit more than when, which is not something I really appreciate.

For the moment, the plan is to move into the Inver Grove Heights office on Wednesday, since the long weekend has made it take a bit longer to get Internet access hooked up than it normally would. Supposedly, it'll be a full T1, a concept which is so much less exciting than it used to be way back when. How did I ever live at 1200 baud?

I'm getting really sick of bugs appearing in my apartment. Yet another downside to living on the -0.5th floor. I guess that's another reason why I'm going with the air conditioner.

Posted by mike at 07:10 PM Central | Abode , Family , Software , TV , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Zoom Zoom Zoom and a Boom Boom

Stupid bananas. They've gone all brown-spotty, but there's still some fairly visible green on them! Do I blame genetic engineering for this, or is it something that GM foods are supposed to fix? Bah.

Oo! Best Week Ever in about 15 minutes. Though I suppose it's a month-in-review one…

Posted by mike at 09:46 PM Central | Food , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2004

I Have No Root and I Want to Scream

Liev Schreiber is like, so totally evil:

I'm surprised I haven't seen him in more movies. But he does a good job of narrating my favorite PBS series. (Uh, that's plural.)

Posted by mike at 08:52 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 08, 2004

Yeah! Hell Damn Fart!

Hmm. I've been starting to watch The Thin Blue Line on channel 2 at 10:00 when The Daily Show isn't on or isn't new. It's got Rowan Atkinson (in an actual speaking role unlike Mr. Bean), and it's had some pretty funny moments.

I think there was at least one word that was bleeped/silenced last night, though. Public broadcasters used to be largely exempt from that at least in (non-?) “safe harbor” hours, but not anymore, I guess.

Posted by mike at 08:40 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 02, 2004

Kwalitee

I've been working on a piece of wiki software for my own site. It uses Perl/CGI with SQLite for the database. The syntax is based off of what Wikipedia uses, since I use it all of the time and don't like having to remember different wiki styles :-p

The DB layout started off based on what Wikipedia uses, but I'm looking to make something that will have a weblog in it, along with comments and stuff, so it will diverge over time. I'll have to have some integrating SPAM-fighting capability, but it probably won't be anything fancy (it'll be fancier than what I have right now, however). I've got a very basic wiki running right now on my home machine. About 6kB of Perl code (not counting the libraries it's built on), so not too bad. It keeps old versions at the moment, but I don't have a history view yet or any way to do diffs (that'll be tricky). I'm not tracking links yet (and, well, I think I only have one page at the moment). I'm just working on the basics so far (what do you expect after only a few hours' work?).

I hope I'll be able to do security right.

The Daily Show folks have been all over lately. This is due to several factors colliding at once: Winning two more Emmys, having their audience get called “stoned slackers” by Bill O'Reilly, having their audience then be determined to be one of the smartest and most well-off groups of people around, and the release of America (The Book).

I saw them on (apparently a repeat of) Deborah Norville's show on MSNBC. I never watch her because I've always counted her among the media sources that TDS makes fun of all of the time. I dunno, maybe she was beginning to understand by the end of the show (which was still reasonably good despite her overexuberance). I kind of had the same reaction after catching a glimpse of one of the correspondents on Paula Zahn's show on CNN. Like two galaxies colliding or something strange.

Posted by mike at 07:23 PM Central | Comedy , Daily Show , Internet , Software , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 14, 2004

Hot is the New Cold

I decided to delete KMWB (23, or 8 on Minneapolis cable) from the channel lineup on my TV, mostly because Sinclair is being stupid. I hardly watch it anyway, except that it provides a little escape when that Jennie Garth show is on ('cuz, well, it's Jennie Garth). But, considering that the show is on only about 0.2% of the week, it's not really worth it to me. Yeah, I can't stand all their stupid dating shows either.

Posted by mike at 04:49 PM Central | Corporations , Decision 2004 , Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 15, 2004

I Have the Power

Do my eyes deceive me? Is it October 15th? Does that mean that Team America: World Police is finally in theaters?

Well, well, well…

I've had an eventful day already, with the power supply for my computer going out overnight. So, I guess it's good that I had that other PC sitting in the other room without any functioning drives. I quickly swapped out the power supply and was back up.

Jon Stewart will apparently be on CNN's Crossfire this afternoon at 3:30 PM CDT.

And speaking of CDT, daylight saving will end in the wee hours of October 31st, so all you Halloweenies will get one more hour of that day this year.

Posted by mike at 09:48 AM Central | Hardware , Movies , News , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Debating De Baiters

Wow. Jon Stewart's appearance on Crossfire ended up being much different than what anyone expected. That's got to be the only time I've ever seen someone come on a show (as the only guest!) and totally eviscerate it. A few links so far:

There is video of the show up at ifilm.com and it's also downloadable from some BitTorrent sites, such as bitflood.org

Posted by mike at 06:52 PM Central | Daily Show , Decision 2004 , Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 18, 2004

The Larch

I've been starting to listen to BBC Radio 1 and KCRW's music stream lately. I guess I got interested in KCRW after hearing about the station on Frontline's "The Way the Music Died." They say that they were the first station to play artists such as Fiona Apple (yay!), Coldplay (yay!), and Norah Jones (meh). I dunno, KCRW certainly is "eclectic," but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'll like it.

Radio 1 seems to play more beat-heavy stuff, which can be both good and bad. I generally despise rap/hip-hop, which they play a lot more than I like. However, there's a lot of dance music there too (which some would argue is essentially the same, but whatever). Unfortunately, the best I can get from them is a 44kbps RealAudio stream. KCRW has a 128k MP3 stream, but it seems to either be down right now, or the ISP we have at work blocks it. Hard to say. I suppose both of these places have Windows Media Player streams too, but I use Linux and I don't want to pay for the CrossOver plugin at the moment.

Anyway, it's something different. I'm just sick of hearing the same stuff over and over on the local FM stations around here (and I usually only listen for 30-90 minutes while I'm in the car each day). The sameness is just mind-numbing.

Posted by mike at 11:29 AM Central | Internet , Music , Software , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 31, 2004

Where Boys Fear to Tread

Given the number of acts that perform around the city every night, there seems to be little reason why there couldn't be live performances broadcast on the radio on a daily basis. Heck, even one hour a week would be better than what we have now (as far as I'm aware).

Now that I finally think about it, it amazes me how little the TV and radio stations around here do to foster community. There is no equivalent of the op-ed section found in the newspapers around here. The only performances by area groups that I'm aware of to be broadcast with any frequency are the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and St. Olaf's Christmas program. When was the last time an area play was on TV? Well, I guess TPT sometimes broadcasts stuff like that on channel 17, but it's not something I see often. I'm not even sure if stations around here broadcast community calendars anymore. It's been a while since I last saw one (though I suppose they were mostly announced in the after-school hours, at which time I'm usually working).

Radio doesn't seem to be much different. About the best you get for community involvement is when KS95 does their afternoon “is there anybody who…?” call-in routine. But jeez, what does someone's story about being run over by a lawnmower tell me about the people who live around here? Occasionally a group will do a recording locally, but I think the stations are too concerned with trying to get big acts rather than finding a group that can simply put on a good show.

Well, I suppose some people would rather not have their play or performance broadcast so that people wouldn't have to pay for it, but I'm sure a lot of groups would jump at the chance. Broadcasts wouldn't necessarily have to be live—heck there are disadvantages to that like working around annoying people standing in front of cameras, or blurting out swear words during an audio recording, or the simple act of touching up technical issues and cutting out empty pauses where someone has to reload their sampler.

Of course, I'm hardly one to talk, since I can beat out just about everyone when it comes to lack of experience seeing shows and other community involvement.

Posted by mike at 12:18 PM Central | Music , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 10, 2004

Death and Taxes

Ultra-lefty columnist Ted Rall (and I only use the “ultra-” prefix because I believe he exaggerates reality a bit too often) has an article that about half of the country would love, and about half would hate. A lot of what he says is stuff we knew already. I guess I feel something similar about my life, having grown up in a town that is fairly Republican, according to voting patterns. I guess I didn't really feel it when I was growing up. Teachers seem to be more liberal, so except perhaps for my English teachers, most of them seemed to accept a wider view of the world. But, I can't say for certain what they thought.

Given the seemingly bizarre situation that I mentioned about the rural areas of Florida where Democrats seem to vote Republican, I think it is important for presidential candidates to acknowledge that Midwesterners and other folks away from the coasts don't really like their lack of influence asserted over the national media and whatever. Even the “Second City” of Chicago doesn't get the treatment it deserves.

I've been thinking that the national news outlets need to start putting bureaus in places other than just Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. I mentioned Chicago, and that might be okay. Of course, CNN has Atlanta, which is good and bad. I wouldn't say that the perspective of Midwesterners is one of the uneducated or of the racist. Space and time seems to mean something different. Driving for an hour is a different experience and has a different purpose in Minnesota than in Massachusetts.

Well, I guess I'm forgoing logic here and falling into the territory of emotion. So, it's a good segue into talking about last night's episode of Frontline: “The Persuaders.” It was certainly interesting and unsettling, just as it was meant to be. The last half hour (the show was 90 minutes) focused on the usage of advertising in the political arena. They introduce the guy who came up with the phrase “death tax” instead of “estate tax” and changed “global warming” to “climate change.” Suddenly the reasons for why the political campaign was all about phrases with vacuous meaning rather than actual plans.

I was thinking the other night about how I was really impressed with Ross Perot in 1992. That man had a plan, and he explained it. Remember those flash cards with graphs and pie charts? Of course, the taxes he planned probably would have sent the economy into a tail spin, but a remarkable number of people enjoyed the fact that he had ideas and was willing to explain them.

Posted by mike at 09:47 AM Central | Politics , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 10, 2004

Sadly, the Remote Has Vanished From This Physical Sphere

I went to the FCC forum on media consolidation last night. I stayed until about 11:30 PM, at which point I figured I'd better catch the bus home. I did get a chance to speak, but I forgot one important point. What I did say amounted to this:

  • KFAI and Radio K are nice, but underpowered.
  • For Radio K in particular, there is a big psychological barrier for people like me in turning over to the AM dial
  • Why should cable subscribers have all the fun? There should be a public access broadcast station.
The meeting had been heavily promoted on Radio K and (I assume) many other stations in the AMPERS/IPR radio network, such as KFAI. So, the group gathered there had more than a little tilt. Well, if the other stations around town didn't want to promote the event, it's their loss, I guess.

Anyawy, the point I forgot to make related to the sale of WCAL, and is something I've mentioned here before. The station was sold to Minnesota Public Radio. The other bid that St. Olaf received for the station came from EMF Broadcasting, owners of the K-LOVE and Air-1 Christian networks. While I think MPR is big enough, allowing one of those other networks to gain a 100kW station would have riled up far more people.

It was interesting to see how people at the meeting saw MPR, since it is partially funded by the Greenspring Company, which takes profits from the KLBB radio station and by publishing Minnesota Monthly. This money is filtered up through the American Public Media Group, then back down to MPR. In some ways it is innovative; in others, creepy. The folks at last night's event apparently felt that it meant that MPR could do things without being held accountable to their members. I think that's only partially true—MPR couldn't survive without them. Could MPR be more responsive to them? I imagine so.

Most of the people at the meeting represented a slice of about five or six percent of the listening public (by my really rough estimate, they represented listeners of KFAI, KUOM, WCAL, and maybe some others, which works out to ~150,000 people in a region with 2,500,000 listeners).

Well, fortunately, it wasn't quite as crazy as I'd been expecting. There was less talk of WCAL than I expected, at least at first. It seemed to pop up more often as the night wore on. There were some other interesting topics brought up. Public access cable channels are apparently being bought in some markets. KQRS actually did a relatively nice thing, though at midnight to 2 AM. Oh, and Mental Engineering is making a comeback, apparently.

There have been two post-event articles in the local papers so far. Kind of disturbing in their quality level, though. Jonathan Adelstein's name was spelled “Edelstein” by the Strib, which also misspelled Michael Copps's last name as “Capps.” The Pioneer Press spelled it “Kopps.”

Unfortunately, the meeting won't have a direct effect, but it was put in the public record. Previous similar events were credited with causing courts to reverse an FCC decision made last year. Now I just need to refine my ideas and put them into some comments regarding the upcoming renewal of radio licenses in Minnesota.

Posted by mike at 10:42 AM Central | Music , TV , The Media | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2004

nicholas nickleby

Agh! I just watched Bridge on the River Kwai, where one of the main characters was played by William Holden. He's been dead since 1981, but I know there's a currently-alive (or at least not dead for long) actor who sounds exactly like him and looks pretty close to the same. The guy I'm thinking of has probably been in more B-movies, Sci-Fi channel flicks, and Outer Limits (or Twilight Zone) episodes than I can count, but I can't think of his name. Frustrating. I'm pretty sure he was in at least one episode of TNG too. He has a gravelly voice, usually has hair (black) puffed right so it stands fairly straight up, and often has a beard. He usually plays the bad guy, too, which is why I thought it was so weird this movie had “him” in a good role (though he really would have been about 5 to 10 years old when it was made).

Posted by mike at 11:02 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 12, 2004

See Dick and Jane Learn

MythBusters and The Simpsons should not be on at the same time.

Posted by mike at 10:29 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 31, 2004

It's the End of the World As We Know It

Interesting news of the (yester)day: Mark Wheat is leaving Radio K for MPR's third service. He's been the program director at 770 AM for six years, from the looks of it, and probably the station's most recognizable voice. I don't know if he did anything else there before that. Maybe.

I don't know exactly when MPR will switch to the new format. Could be as early as tomorrow, but it is more likely to be another week or two down the road, from the looks of things. They're really digging into the Radio K talent pool, though.

There are a bunch of movies I need to see, though I'm a bit worried that I'll end up going out to see them all and then end up with nothing to see for months. Then again, I have Netflix.

Keri Russell was on Conan O'Brien last night. She's got a few things coming out in 2005, and she's been in a play in New York lately—one of those rare moments where I wish I lived there, though she's going to be replaced soon. Kind of funny considering that some of her major credits include the New Mickey Mouse Club and The Babysitter's Seduction… Heh.

Anyway, January is shaping up to be a good month for me in terms of entertainment. Now I just need a job.

Posted by mike at 09:37 AM Central | Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 01, 2005

Access the Axis

KARE-11 might pull another Let's Bowl out of their hat starting tonight. A sports/comedy/variety program called The Show to Be Named Later (Hmm. Is that "to Be," or "to be"?) will move to the broadcast airwaves. A few episodes of the show were broadcast on the public access Metro Cable Network (channel 6) for a while. They're apparently hoping that non-sports people will be interested in the show (which is good, since I could generally care less about it). It'll be on after Saturday Night Live tonight.

In other news, I wrote an article on KMWB (formerly known as KLGT and, more importantly, KTMA—the source of Mystery Science Theater 3000).

Whoa! I just heard thunder! On January 1st! Cripes, this weather is wacky. (Or maybe it was just the weird 3D effect I finally found on my sound card now that the Linux 2.6.9 kernel actually labels the different chanels in the mixer—that was a long time in coming).

Posted by mike at 05:20 PM Central | TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 02, 2005

Smells Like Teen Spirit

The Star Tribune has a great collection of 2004 photos online.

The Show to Be Named Later... was a mixed bag last night. I thought the video they made about watching the Christmas game between the Vikings and Packers was excellent. The audio on the studio portion of their show was disappointing, though. I'm not sure if that can be tweaked or not, since they're obviously a budget production.

Jonny Voss is the show's host. The Minnesota Timberwolves have a page or three on him. They say he was "the team's first-ever fan correspondent," and is a grade-school teacher. Heh. I wouldn't have guessed that from his appearance, but it took about two seconds of watching/listening for him to come across as a really nice guy. Extra bonus points for not liking Mike Tice or President Bush ;-)

The rapper P.O.S., who was the Strib's artist of the year, was on the show. It's usually difficult for me to deal with music like that, and I ended up muting my TV because the relatively poor audio of that part of the show compounded to a very grating feel.

Anyway, it shows promise.

Posted by mike at 10:08 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 10, 2005

Judge the Judge

Mark Wheat hosted his last installment of the Music Lover's Club on Radio K yesterday. He also mentioned that his official duty at the station was Program Coach, not Station Manager or anything. Anyway, it's easy for people to jump to the wrong conclusion since he's on the air so often. His last regular shift will be on Tuesday, though he might have to sub for someone after that point.

I guess this puts the switchover to KCMP near the end of this week or at the beginning of next week. The MPR folks are not being very clear about when things might happen. They're taking their time, which seems so weird in the modern radio world (it took an hour and fifteen minutes for Rev 105 to become X105 back in 1997). Well, then again, I was figuring it'd be about two weeks from the time it was announced by the MPR folks that he would be leaving Radio K.

I tried watching The Show to Be Named Later... again on Saturday night/Sunday morning, but the audio was crap (they acknowledged that fact with a little scrolling blob of text at the beginning of the show). I don't know who their musical guest was, since I ended up watching part of an episode of Monk I hadn't seen.

Unless some HR people just decide to cause trouble, it looks like my brother will be heading to California to work for Intel. My family will probably be driving out there the first week in February. Hopefully the weather patterns will have shifted by then and we won't get stuck in snow in the mountains :-p

We'd probably take I-35 to I-80 and go west to the Sacramento area. Some of the video of California snow I saw this weekend was a picture of an I-80 sign...

Posted by mike at 12:37 PM Central | Family , Music , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2005

I Blame the Soup

I think Rick's Market may be getting sloppy. Several minor things seem to have cropped up lately—though it might just be that time of year or something. Then again, the place will get torn down at some point this year (Lunds bought the place and is plannng a low-rise development there). Of course, it's also more expensive than Rainbow (or Target), so I should probably start actually driving somewhere to get groceries.

The recent dip in temperatures came at the same time as an illness for me. It might be a coincidence, though I suspect the drop in humidity did it. I get a few sicknesses like this each year, usually one when the temperature first dips to around freezing, then another when it gets to around zero. I coughed/sneezed up phlegm in new and disgusting ways last night (fortunately it's not painful or anything, just gross).

I should have bought more orange juice.

Well, according to whatever source my computer is using for temperature, we got above freezing. Now KARE-11 can stop counting the hours since it went below zero. Sheesh.

I've been getting back into a semi-regular cycle of watching movies from Netflix. I watched The Cooler a few days ago and thought it was pretty good. A bunch of great actors in it, and I guess I've never seen Alec Baldwin in a role like that.

Today I watched Wild Things. At least it had a plot ;-) Yeah, I was hesitant to see it for a long time. I distinctly remember seeing the poster plastered next to the door in Territorial Hall when I was a freshman. It would be hard to find another image that screamed S-E-X so loudly. Given its non-existence in my life, I'm sure I consciously avoided looking at the poster pretty often. What was the thing that finally tipped the balance and caused me to see it?

Bill Murray.

Yeah, okay, rumors of make-out sessions between Neve Campbell and Denise Richards also had something to do with it, but I'm pretty sure that little tidbit had slipped my mind by the time it was added to my queue. I suppose it's weird for my priorities to be arranged this way, but I imagine it's an agitation-mitigation technique since things like that remind me of what I don't have. Then again, it's tough to feel too strongly when everyone is homicidal.

I finally caught the Battlestar Galactica miniseries on Tuesday and Wednesday, then watched the series begin on Friday. It turns out that the Brits have got a leg up on us Americans for once—the series started airing on Sky One last October. Should I just fire up BitTorrent? Perhaps if I start missing episodes—it's kind of nice to draw it out a bit (though it probably conflicts with when Monk is on).

Computer work seems so distant right now. Of course, everything is a little fuzzy at the moment because of my flu-ishness. Well, it's all a matter of my synapses being happy. Good new music and cute perfumed girls are the best antidotes for that. Since element B has been absent for a long time, this kind of explains why I've been so interested in the new radio station that I hope will finally be broadcasting soon. But, they probably won't be the station I want them to be. I'll just have to wait a bit longer.

Posted by mike at 10:36 PM Central | Food , Movies , Music , Self , TV , Weather | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 17, 2005

Fool Tom

Gah! No wonder I had such a heck of a time picking up channel 5 with rabbit ears even when I lived on University Avenue—they don't use it as a broadcast transmitter anymore. KSTP-TV/DT and KSTP-FM are in Shoreview, while the AM station looks like it's in Little Canada. I guess the tower by the studios is just for show (and microwave dishes, cellular, etc.).

Posted by mike at 11:09 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 18, 2005

Szymanski!

I forgot to mention that Ragnar, the Minnesota Vikings' mascot, was on The Show to be Named Later... on Saturday night. That was a pretty good episode (they seem to have finally worked out the audio issues). There was something about a swimsuit competition coming up, and there were three women on the show in bathrobes. I don't think they started competing or anything (I may have been watching something else at the time). And, it turns out that the Vikings cheerleaders know less than a group of "random people" assembled for a competition on the show. Well, the point spread wasn't too bad.

And, it turns out that everyone's least-favorite Twin Cities station, PAX 41, has the tallest structure in the state. The station's broadcast tower is 1505 feet tall.

Hmm, well, they're my second-least-favorite station, I guess, since I don't watch KMWB anymore. At least 41 has the KARE news broadcasts.

Posted by mike at 11:48 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 20, 2005

In Color!

I found a neat article about KSTP in 1962 while floating around the web today. At least they don't need 35-foot land yachts to be able to cover news anymore.

Posted by mike at 09:31 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 21, 2005

Amperage

MPR finally got their butts in gear (well, okay, they had to wait for some people to give their two weeks' notice). KCMP will appear on Monday.

Posted by mike at 02:11 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 16, 2005

Brown Note

Sweet. Here's the description of MythBusters for tonight:

Effects of subsonic frequencies on the human body; legendary Hollywood gunfights.
(Emphasis mine)

Posted by mike at 07:09 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 21, 2005

A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left

I ran into Bob Woodard of KARE-11 at Rick's Market tonight. He was buying some sort of toiletry item—shaving foam or something. I also got food.

I'm not sure which of those two items is more significant. Probably the food, since I didn't really have anything left other than some cold cuts.

Posted by mike at 07:17 PM Central | Food , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Th Dcrtcl Mrk f th Bst

Hmm. I forgot to mention someone made a nice video of The Daily Show's coverage of the Jeff Gannon story, featuring wonderful extras such as Stephen Colbert's secret identity. The same site also has Bill Maher's take.

Oh, and someone did buy colbertkilledapanda.com. Not all that exciting, though.

Posted by mike at 07:29 PM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 14, 2005

Big Bear

I took Keen Eddie over to Dan's place yesterday so we could hang out and watch that, then we went with Josh, Kari, and Laura to see Ong-Bak. It's a pretty awesome martial arts film and had a lot of surprises for those guys since it demonstrates some Thai forms rather than the Chinese and Japanese stuff they're more accustomed to. There was an unpleasant scene with a girl that almost ruined things for me just because it distantly echoed something I worried about over the years, but the fight scenes were amazing and it's worth seeing just for that.

Oh! I don't know if anyone else caught it, but there was a shout out to Steven Spielberg. On a garage door in one scene it said "Hi Spielberg" and below that "Let do it together." That's apparently verbatim, I didn't quite catch it at first, but that's what IMDB says. It's possible that the message was added digitally and was not really there while filming.

After about an hour of sitting around with our stomachs grumbling, Dan, Laura, Kari, and I went to the Macaroni Grill at Rosedale. We almost hit a bar stool that was sitting in the parking lot! I guess some guy took two from the restaurant, but forgot one or something.

It was good to be out with friends, especially relatively unattached ones (no couples were together). I had wanted Sarah to come along, but I realized later that it could have easily been burdensome for me. I must make an effort to hang out in the coming weeks, though I can't afford to go to movies and eat out every time these days.

At least the Minneapolis smoking ban will go into effect soon, so then I'll be more comfortable trying out some of the music venues in the area. Now that we have a radio station that actually plays songs by bands who are coming through town, I might manage to get out. I've just always been under the impression that it's expensive to see music. Okay, it would often be as bad as going out to a movie and getting food, but at least it's more social than sitting in a theater.

Posted by mike at 06:57 AM Central | Dan , Josh , Kari , Movies , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eyes Wide Shut

Oh god. I just randomly went to KMSP's website and got a flash ad saying that A Current Affair is returning to the airwaves. I pray for our species.

Posted by mike at 07:05 AM Central | TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

ILLIAC

I spent a few minutes flipping through channels to find something interesting, but didn't have luck sticking with anything. Wrong time of hour, and it's impossible to get good stuff during the day anyway. Still, a few cool things popped up. I saw the tail end of something involving Mesaba Airlines (a regional Northwest carrier) and MSP airport. Apparently that was some press related to the deployment of TAMDAR sensors on 64 aircraft in the fleet. Pretty cool that they could fit sensors and a satellite transmitter into a 1.5 pound (⅔ kg) package. They use them to create a flying network of observation stations (figuring out weather anywhere above ground is often a challenge, simply because there hasn't been anything there). Here's a TAMDAR press release. Hmm. I guess they call it the "Great Lakes Fleet Experiment."

The other thing I came across was the last five minutes of Patrick Stewart's appearance on Saturday Night Live. Honestly, if it wasn't for SNL, I'm sure I'd have dropped E! from my TV's channel lineup by now. I don't watch very often, especially since 89.3 launched, but it's still a good show from time to time. Eventually I'll have to see that episode, and I think Bob Dole's appearance was a pretty notable one too. I wonder if anyone keeps a ranking of some of the best SNL episodes somewhere. There are too many episodes to watch all of them, and besides they're often not that great—The Daily Show ranks a lot higher on my laugh meter most of the time.

Posted by mike at 12:22 PM Central | News , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 17, 2005

Punk'd

Erin wrote me a very honest note about how I pissed her off. Eesh. Sorry. I figured everyone saw me as a nice guy, albeit quiet or aloof. Well, I've got some friendship-rebuilding to do, I guess. Apologies to everyone—I've been off in my own little world, which is why I never talk about anyone else—there simply hasn't been anyone else to talk about. With repeated job trouble, I also haven't had a whole lot of spare cash, which has not exactly made me happy.

Oh well, I just have to figure out more of the free/supercheap stuff to do. I brought Keen Eddie over to Dan's place again yesterday evening, and spent some time with him, Laura, and Sarah. I'm glad they all like the show, as I haven't felt that I've had much to offer people. If I've turned them on to a cool show, that's great. They've all enjoyed seeing the actors on the show too, since many have been in other things. And, obviously the episodes just rock. I know Sarah needed the laughs.

One of Dan's roommates had us watch the Super Mario Reloaded and Final Fantasy A+ Flash animations, which were both really funny. Unfortunately, their DSL line is dog slow and they took forever to load. I just checked them right now on my cable modem, and the Super Mario one only took about 20 seconds to load. It took a few minutes last night.

Hmm. He just told me that his friends don't have or particularly want cable TV. He suggested that basic plus cable modem might be the way to go, and I'd agree.

Anyway, back to the Flash things: It's good that Dan knew how to make them nearly-full-screen. That made 'em a lot easier to enjoy, especially on the big TV ;-)

Well, that's it, I think.

Posted by mike at 01:30 PM Central | Dan , Erin , Internet , Sarah , Self , TV | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

March 23, 2005

Publicity

I still haven't figured out why Netflix makes a distinction between NR (not rated) and UR (unrated).

I may as well fall into being shallow for the time being and work to make girls of my past jealous of me and whoever I end up with. Of course, this is remarkably simple: 1) Get a job that actually lasts. 2) Exercise regularly. 3) Get some new eyeglasses (or do the eye surgery thing). 4) Get out of the apartment (ie, pray for the smoking ban to go into effect, and for #1).

The Eyes of Nye is bringing Bill Nye back to TV, but apparently not in the Twin Cities (yet). Of course, the site lists two stations in Minnesota as being in TC, but the ones listed are KAWB and KAWE, which serve Bemidji and Brainerd. Yeah, not quite in the same area (although multiple people have reported being able to receive 89.3 up to Brainerd, which is remarkable since the transmitter is actually on the southern end of the Cities).

I wish I had a house with a rooftop antenna. I wonder what I could pick up here that isn't from here. The Menomonee PBS station at least, I bet. I'm PBS-deficient at the moment (I grew up with at least five public stations on my TV dial ;-)

Posted by mike at 10:54 AM Central | Self , TV | Comments (0)

March 24, 2005

Cubicle²

Tonight, NBC will air the premire episode of The Office (meh) featuring Steve Carrell (yayyayyay!). Oh god, I hope it's good, but I really didn't like the original British version. Too cringe-inducing. David Brent (played by Ricky Gervais) might have been the real problem for me. The show is reportedly still pretty cringe-heavy, but Carrell's version of the boss is a different take. Of course, the first episode is nearly verbatim from the BBC one, so it's hard to say how things will go. Things diverge from there, according to what I've read, so I can't just judge it by what happens tonight.

Another thought, though. Who the hell schedules a premire for 8:30 PM?

Posted by mike at 09:48 AM Central | TV | Comments (0)

April 19, 2005

Oh, My Lack of God!

Hmm. Flipping through the channels and I come across Amy Pietz on some godforsaken show known as Rodney. I doubt the show will last, but I like her, so I'm glad she's getting some work (she was Annie on Caroline in the City way back when...)

I briefly turned on the A/C today to dissipate some of the humidity in my apartment (and to bring the temp down just a tad). At the moment, I'm not sure if it's better to turn it on again or open the windows. Well, we probably need the rain.

My car stalled yesterday at the end of I-394 (at a stoplight). I had to go the same way again today because I forgot to bring some application materials, and the car stalled again. Fortunately, after the car sat a little bit, I could get going again, but it's weird. Very probably related to the weird lurching it's been doing for a while now.

A total of four calls now for the few dozen applications I put in a week ago. I'd better put more effort into applying for other jobs I guess.

In order to print out my application materials, I had to get a new black ink cartridge for my printer. I tried out Cartridge World, which has a site a few blocks from my place. $13.90 for a cartridge filled while I waited. Seems to work, though it took a little convincing at first.

I should say that when I first saw "Cartridge World" plastered on that building a year or so ago, I thought it was a video game shop.

My tax return was rejected initially. This is because my previous year's Adjusted Gross Income was incorrect, according to the IRS's records. They had received a 1099-MISC from that contracting company I never talked to. Sure wish I'd gotten one. Well, I apparently paid taxes on $1000 more income last year than I had to. Oh well, fifteen minutes of waiting on the phone fixed that fairly easily.

Posted by mike at 09:10 PM Central | Car , Hardware , Money , TV , Weather , Work | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

Cellular

Woohoo! Nearly time for "Animation Domination", though I can't say I'm all that excited about an animated Malcolm, and American Dad sounds like a retread, but whatever.

Posted by mike at 05:54 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

May 03, 2005

Watch Me Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat

So apparently Cedric Yarbrough is from Burnsville, and spent some time at Dudley Riggs. Interesting. Oh, uh, he's the black dude in Reno 911.

Posted by mike at 09:24 AM Central | Comedy , TV | Comments (0)

May 11, 2005

Brak

Oh, and I noticed that Deutsche Welle TV is back on cable in Minneapolis. It had gone away for a few years. Gives me a chance to brush up on my German.

Posted by mike at 08:31 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

Memento

Flipping through the channels, I caught the tail end of a Stargate SG-1 episode, which finally allowed me to figure out a mystery I had after watching The Bridge on the River Kwai. William Holden appears in the classic film, while the younger (and not dead) guy I thought he resembled turns out to be Robert Foxworth.

Well, I dunno, maybe I'm the only one who sees a resemblance..

Posted by mike at 08:13 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

Out of Band

More hurricane ranting: Why was so much of the emphasis on evacuating people via helicopter? Well, maybe it's just unreported, but there should have also been fleets of boats going around to pull people off of rooftops and out of attics. There was a fleet at least for a while, though that was primarily from civilians. I haven't see any more video of them in the last few days. I imagine they ran low on fuel and/or were told/forced to leave the area.

Well, I suppose much of the problem comes down to an intelligence failure. But this one can't be blamed on the FBI or CIA. Troops with radios, maps, and supplies should have been dropped every few blocks in the city to scout the region and organize people who were there. I've seen very little evidence of military presence outside the relatively dry downtown area.

A command hierarchy had to be in place immediately. That didn't happen, and people still don't know who's in charge. Within 24–48 hours, the forces in the city were reportedly given the right to commandeer vehicles, and they should have done that more extensively.

It seems to me that U.S. military forces have become dependent upon CNN and the other news channels to provide them information. It's okay for them to sometimes learn something new that way, but it looks to me that the frequency of this has just reached an unacceptible level.

This looks a lot like the early days of the invasion of Iraq, where the military was trying to act as a "transformed" force where relatively autonomous units would be acting together. A lot of bad things happened there, with small convoys getting lost in hostile territory. Here, it simply sounds like there wasn't communication. Now, you can argue that troops shouldn't know the overall picture when they're in a war zone, but the exact opposite is needed when attempting to help the public. In the very least, mid-level commanders should be available as purveyors of information.

Well, much of this is just conjecture, but I want to remember at least a few of these things, since questions along these lines these should help determine what went wrong.

On the other side, I'm halfway impressed with the news coverage. However, I'll note that TV schedules for days after September 11th were all confused, since news was being covered all day long. That, of course, is because it happened in New York. This disaster is on a much broader scale, but is not at their back door.

Some of the talking heads in New York (er, and Atlanta) have been willing to accept the tragedy and see the flaws in the relief operations. Others have not. I can see that reporters/anchors such as Shepard Smith of Fox News and Tucker Carlson of MSNBC (formerly CNN) have been changed by what they saw. Both of them wanted to rip out the throats of some of the people they were paired with on the split screen.

For a while, Fox News Channel actually became watchable. However, I think this actual news coverage by people who could really see what was going on is going to be shortlived—on all channels. Heck, for the first two days or so, MSNBC's weird wonk Rita Cosby was in Aruba, still there for that silly Natalee Holloway story. Well, maybe the daytime coverage is different. Since I work during the day, I don't see Wolf Blitzer, so I don't know how he's doing...

Edit: ...And we're seeing government officials lie through their teeth, just like they've been doing for years. It's startling to see how good they are at it, and how accepting reporters are from time to time. If you go and put Michael Chertoff next to Tucker Carlson in the same room right now, only one of them would come out alive. Chertoff has said (I think in almost exactly the same wording across multiple networks), "This is really one which I think was breathtaking in its surprise." Uh huh.

But he says it so calmly that people are taken off guard and just accept it. You have to think about it for a moment before realizing the guy just told you somehting that is patently false. This has been the masterful Bush administration tactic—just say it with conviction, and people believe you. Even if the people listening know it's not true, it just has a deadening effect.

Posted by mike at 12:39 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

October 04, 2005

Pixelated

Hmm. Who knew that Paul Douglas's real name is Douglas Paul Kruhoeffer?

Posted by mike at 02:23 PM Central | TV , Weather | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

I Have a Dreamsicle

The Colbert Report was good tonight. So was the other night's episode of The Boondocks (though I don't think MLK would have used the word "niggas" even if he'd awoken from a coma after 30+ years).

Posted by mike at 11:07 PM Central | Comedy , TV | Comments (0)

February 05, 2006

Take the Skinheads Bowling

Week of the Super Bowl, 1967-2006

The Super Bowl has slowly been drifting later and later in the year. The blue line above graphs which Sunday of the year the game is played on. The purple line graphs the week of the year it is played on. The first Super Bowl to be played in February was XXXVI (36) on February 3, 2002. So far, the latest it has occurred is Feburary 6, which happened in 2005 with Bowl XXXIX (39).

Posted by mike at 01:01 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

February 11, 2006

Nyork

So, while picking up lunch at Jersey Mike's with a few coworkers, CNN International was on in one corner, and they were talking about the Torino games. My brain finally decided to connected that synapse with the other regarding the city of Turin. Wait, they're the same place! Sheesh. So, why "Torino"? I figured, "It must be the local pronounciation of the city name, right?" Well, sort of.

"Torino" is the name of the city in Italian. The city is the capital of the Piedmont region. Here's where it gets messy: There is a local language/dialect known as Piedmontese. The Piedmontese name of the city is "Turin".

I'm halfway betting that the reason we're calling these Winter Olympics by the name "Torino" is simply because a graphic designer at NBC figured that the name with two round 'O's looked better than one with a 'U' in it...

Posted by mike at 12:00 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

June 25, 2006

With additional dialogue by William Shakespeare

Well, I started watching The Black Adder since I got the first DVD from Netflix a few days ago. I noticed that the guy who plays King Richard IV was also in the movie Flash Gordon. So, I went and searched for "Flash Gordon" on IMDB. I was shocked to see that a new movie is expected in 2007.

By the way, the guy I was looking for was Brian Blessed.

Anyway, I'm not sure what would be the best way to do the remake. Should it be low-budget? Big-budget? As "realistic" as possible? As off-the-wall as possible? Somehow, I think the best thing to do is leave it be.

Well, beyond that, I should mention that I went to the giant car show at the fairgrounds over the weekend. I have a picture set up on Flickr. Kind of makes me wish I had a garage. Kind of.

I also attended a friend's "divorce party", though it wasn't heavily structured toward having any real relation to her divorce (at least not while I was there).

Posted by mike at 10:53 PM Central | Movies , TV | Comments (0)

July 27, 2006

Rare Word Watch: Yare

Occasionally unusual words and phrases start popping up with unusual regularity in news articles, get used for a while, then fade. Vis--vis was popular back in my freshman year of college, for instance, but I haven't seen that for quite a while.

Here we have a Los Angeles Times article about the Tesla Roadster:

The event where Tesla was offering its first 100 "signature edition" cars for $100,000 apiece felt like automotive history, and I have the feeling that one day I'm going to be very glad I bothered to attend. The yare and sleek carbon-bodied sports car is, by my reckoning, the first plausible electric automobile of the 21st century. And, without electrics, the 22nd century is going to be very rocky indeed.
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:

  yare \yare\ (y[^a]r), a. [OE. yare, [yogh]aru, AS. gearu; akin
     to OS. garu, OHG. garo, G. gar, Icel. gerr perfect, g["o]rva
     quite, G. gerben to tan, to curry, OHG. garawen, garwen, to
     make ready. Cf. {Carouse}, {Garb} clothing, {Gear}, n.]
     Ready; dexterous; eager; lively; quick to move. [Obs.] "Be
     yare in thy preparation." --Shak.
     [1913 Webster]

           The lesser [ship] will come and go, leave or take, and
           is yare; whereas the greater is slow.    --Sir W.
                                                    Raleigh.
     [1913 Webster]

Well, someone was making use of their thesaurus...

Anyway, plenty has happened since I last posted. I got a new car. I sold an old car. My brother visited. My family and I saw art cars and visited the Guthrie (we saw Loni Anderson acting touristy). I watched F1 Powerboat racing on the Mississippi River. See my Flickr page if you don't believe me.

Posted by mike at 10:13 AM Central | Car , Family , News , TV | Comments (0)

August 30, 2006

Dizzy

Apparently Bobby Flay of the Food Network was filming at Izzy's Ice Cream in St. Paul today.

[Edit 8:37 AM 8/32/2006: Here's a Pioneer Press blog entry about it. Apparently the hubbub was partly due to Izzy's officially starting up their new solar panels].

Posted by mike at 01:50 PM Central | Food , TV | Comments (0)

September 09, 2006

Phthalates

Zuh? The Simpsons returns for the season on Sunday! Two months earlier than normal! Usually, new regular episodes don't air until November, after the Halloween special.

Posted by mike at 04:56 AM Central | TV | Comments (0)

September 12, 2006

Number Five Is Alive!

I haven't seen video of it, but the transcript of Keith Olbermann's 9/11 rant is getting passed around by a lot of people.

Um. The weather was nice for a little while today. There were actual shadows while I was out to lunch. Too bad that the place I was walking to, Quizno's at University Village, has now closed. They always seemed busy enough to me, but I guess not. But then again, there's a new building going up across the street—maybe they got a better deal over there.

It was quite cool in the morning, though. I'm really glad that my car has an auxiliary heater—I can feel warm air within about 90 seconds, though my commute is still too short for the cabin to actually warm up. But hey, that's what the heated seats are for ;-)

Posted by mike at 04:05 PM Central | Car , Food , September 11th , TV , Weather | Comments (0)

September 13, 2006

Spooky Action at a Distance

It's kind of creepy that the CIA actually advertises. But, I suppose doing it during MythBusters makes sense.

Posted by mike at 10:01 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

September 20, 2006

Short Shrift

Hammond's in a pickle.

Posted by mike at 06:25 PM Central | Car , TV | Comments (0)

September 28, 2006

Peebles

Huh. Amanda Peet looks kinda different between Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and the last place I saw her: The Whole Nine Yards.

Oh, yeah, I didn't really get into the second episode of Studio 60 as much as the first one. "The very model of a modern network TV show" bit was kind of amusing, but that might have flown over the heads of lots of people. Everything I know about Gilbert and Sullivan I learned from The Simpsons... Ah, Sideshow Bob, where would we be without your love of the musical? Then again, I think most people like musicals more than I do—I tend to avoid them like the plague.

Posted by mike at 01:27 PM Central | Comedy , Movies , TV | Comments (0)

October 02, 2006

Karmic

Ugh. I'm so old... I got pissed off last night since a football game delayed the start of 60 Minutes. Well, I don't watch that show very often, but since Bob Woodward was on, I figured I should catch it. I can just blame it on my political streak.

So, should I buy the book? Maybe. The excerpts I've read so far don't really surprise me. But heck, I hardly read books these days. The stuff seemed well-written, so it'd be enjoyable to just see how Woodward puts things together. I like to think that I'm not half-bad at writing, but there are folks out there who are much better at it.

On a completely unrelated note, I watched Blackadder Back & Forth this morning. Kate Moss as Maid Marian? Hah, she actually looked good! Yeah, the modeling world baffles me...

Posted by mike at 10:11 AM Central | Politics , TV | Comments (0)

December 02, 2006

Casting About

Wow, I'm now older than Jodi Huisentruit was when she disappeared nigh on 12 (er, 11... what is with my math lately?) years ago now... Scary.

Posted by mike at 03:08 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

December 18, 2006

Hi-diddly-ho, Neighborino!

The Simpsons zinger is back. Last week, I was ROTFLOLing about this line:

Martin: Individually we are weak, like a single twig. But as a bundle, we form a mighty faggot.
VFX: fag•got (fag• et) n. a bundle of sticks for fuel. [Fr. fagot, a bundle of sticks]
This week, I thought the funniest exchange was this:
Homer: Why did you let that loser [Gil] into our home?
Marge: I'll tell you why: Christian charity.
Homer: Christian Charity?!? What does a porn star have to do with this?!?
Ha ha haha ha ;-)

Also, the new Nike + iPod ad appropriately made the inside joke of using a treadmill while playing "Here It Goes Again" by OK Go.

Hmm, I'm sure I had something else to say. Maybe I'll remember it later.

[Edit, moments later:] Oh yeah. Did you know that songs like "Amazing Grace" and the theme from Gilligan's Island are written in a style known as "ballad meter"? This means that you can take the words from one of them and put them to the tune of the other. Ah, the things you learn from watching Mental Engineering—Sam Simon (of Simpsons fame, coincidentally), demonstrated this on Saturday's show.

Posted by mike at 02:44 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

February 01, 2007

Numba One in the 'Hood, G

<voice type="30s-newsreel">
The east coast is seized in fear as invaders from the moon are discovered throughout the city of Boston! Massive mobilization of policemen and firemen causes havoc for everyday Bostonians! The city is shut down with highways and waterways cut off! Wicked scary! Two men are held accountable as a mayor promises swift retribution!
</voice>

*sigh*

The '30s newsreel tone seemed appropriate since this seems like a rehashing of Orson Welles' old War of the Worlds radio play. Except for the three-week delayed reaction... (plus the fact that these guys are "Mooninites" from the moon rather than Mars ;-)

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force guerilla marketing idea was neat, and I'd think it was cool if I saw one of the little signs somewhere. Unfortunately, guerilla marketing is of limited value, since it tends to use inside jokes to sell to people who already know about something, or it simply attempts to grab headlines. I think of the blimp that was floating around downtown Minneapolis a year or two ago with an obscure message. It turned out to be advertising the launch of an evening newscast on KMSP channel 9. Whee... How exciting...

There are regulations about various types of advertising, and this probably violated something. As for the terrorism bent to the story, the Boston officials just need to accept the fact that they overreacted. They want someone to pay for their mistake. Sure, the company that was doing the marketing should probably get fined for illegal placement of advertising materials, but I don't think the two employees who they put in jail should take most of the blame.

I'll have to count the number of times that this gets called a "bomb hoax" in the media from this point on, since that's not what it is. Actually, there'd been another campaign in the Los Angeles area for Mission: Impossible III last year which was much closer to being a bomb hoax, with electronic devices being placed inside newspaper stands which had microswitches linked to the box's door. It was meant to play the Mission: Impossible theme when the newspaper box was opened. The bomb squad got called out and did a controlled explosion on one of them.

But hidden black boxes with microswitches is one thing. Flashing Lite-Brite panels with a character easily identifiable to anyone who has cable TV and the occasional case of insomnia is something different.

The marketing folks should have notified the city of the boxes before they went up, but they didn't (well, at least I haven't heard that they did). Of course, it's 90% likely the city would either deny the request to put them up, or the marketers would have to wade through nine months of red tape to do it. I'm sure most people who saw them figured they were advertising gimmicks or discarded toys. I can't blame the person who eventually called it in, since it would definitely look weird to some people. Heck, it's a cartoon giving the middle finger—not something that a Boston urbanite should be surprised to see, considering graffiti and all, but I can understand the worry.

However, the reactions of city officials once the call got placed into the 911 operator and worked its way up the chain just caused things to go haywire. Someone should have been able to defuse the human side of the equation before the bomb squad got called in.

Posted by mike at 02:17 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

February 02, 2007

Are You Threatening Me?

RRR! I'm annoyed at the way the Aqua Teen story in Boston has been getting reported over the last few days. Most of the reporting is leaning heavily in favor of the authorities, which is really annoying. There's usually a token blurb of someone saying "the city overreacted," but then that gets shouted down by the rest of the article with three or five references to officials saying otherwise. I want to go on a rant about the "mainstream media," but you've heard that all before...

Of course, it doesn't help that Turner is kowtowing to the city by promising to make some sort of payment. Sure, maybe give the city $10–25k as a token gesture—something that would cover the initial police response—but a million bucks? Come on! The police figured out that the boxes were harmless by early afternoon, but the city kept going on its witch hunt for hours after that.

Well, the legal case against the guys who put up the signs is pretty weak, so hopefully the case will get laughed out of court if the charges don't get dropped outright.

Posted by mike at 05:27 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

Columbo

One last thing:

Banned in Boston.

Huh, never knew about that.

Posted by mike at 05:34 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

February 03, 2007

PCB

The Retahded

Posted by mike at 09:03 PM Central | Movies , Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

February 05, 2007

Lasers

Dr. EvilTwo Million Dollars!

Did anyone else have an image of Dr. Evil, that other villain to have a moon base, pop into their minds when they read that? I did. It's a gross overpayment: $1 million to reimburse cities for the activities of police and other agencies last Wednesday, and another million in "goodwill funds" for emergency preparedness.

You've got to be kidding me.

The Massachusetts Attorney General is still negotiating with lawyers for Peter Berdovksy and Sean Stevens. But really, when you get two and a half times the cost of the response back into your coffers, the guys should really be getting off scott-free with clean records.

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM Central | Politics , TV , The Media | Comments (0)

February 18, 2007

All Good Things...

I think some of the writers for Psych on USA Network must have been some Star Trek fans. The most recent episode featured a character named Deanna Sirtis. In Next Generation, Deanna Troi was played by Marina Sirtis...

Posted by mike at 09:50 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

March 26, 2007

A Tip of the Witch's Hat

Funny. The day after Battlestar Galactica features "All Along the Watchtower" as background to a major turning point in the series, there's a big symposium going on discussing Bob Dylan's impact on at the Weisman Art Museum.

Anyway, if you want to learn a bit more the version of the song that was on the show, Bear McCreary (the show's main musical composer) has a blog entry about it (hrm, that link seems to point to his main journal page—presumably it'll eventually move to this link). I especially like this bit in his entry:

My greatest compliment came at the dub stage. Executive producer David Eick came to listen to the final mix of "Crossroads, Part II." We reached the scene where Tigh, Tory, Anders and Tyrol wander through the hallways, following a strange and powerful song that finally leads them to each other. The music was mixed pretty loud, but David wanted more. We watched it a second time. This time the music was BLASTING! David asked if we could turn the music up even more. The dubbers paused, looked at the master levels and said "No." The music was so loud, it buried the needles in the red. The score to Battlestar Galactica has never been as loud as during this scene. Needless to say, this made it all worthwhile!
Anyway, I have to admit that I don't know much about these guys, but someone might be interested to know that at least two people from Oingo Boingo were involved in putting together the track. Of course, soundtrack songs often sound best the first time, in context of everything that's happening on screen. I know I've been disappointed sometimes when I hear the track by itself, but I'm still anticipating picking up the soundtrack to this season of the show. Unfortunately, it won't be out until August. Feh.

Posted by mike at 12:25 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)

June 15, 2007

Think Global Act Local

Samsung has recently advertised some high-contrast LCD televisions, so I was getting curious if I should go for one of those rather than wait until one of the more exotic technologies to appear, or use it to avoid the drawbacks of my other favorite system, DLP.

LCD panels work by using a backlight and then using the liquid crystals to block off light from that panel. Unfortunately, they can't block light all that effectively, so a normal LCD panel will appear a dim gray rather than black when it is displaying a black scene. The high-contrast LCDs work by varying the intensity of the backlight. At the moment, the simplest thing to do is to use fairly standard technology, but change the brightness of the fluorescent tube that these panels use.

An alternative technology uses lots of white light-emitting diodes behind the LCD panel rather than fluorescent tubes. The LEDs can be brightened and dimmed in much more isolated regions than the fluorescent tube can, so that improves things even further. For instance, this makes it possible to have something very bright in one part of the screen and something very dim in another region. A TV using fluorescents would have to pick an intermediate backlight level, while this second type could have the LEDs at full brightness behind the bright part and at a very low level or even off behind the dark/black area.

It appears that Samsung has a dozen or so displays using the dimmed tube technology (which they call "dynamic contrast"), and a grand total of one using the LED backlight system (called "local dimming"). I haven't researched what other manufacturers have yet.

In the past, I've normally found Sony's HDTV video post-processing to be much more visually pleasing than that of Samsung, so that's a bit of a concern for me, but at this particular instant, I'm really interested in buying one of their sets...

Posted by mike at 04:25 PM Central | TV | Comments (0)