Saturday, January 1, 2011
The surface of an NHL ice rink is small. The puck is small. Why do they insist on playing the game in a stadium where even the best seats are further away from the ice than the nosebleed seats in an NHL indoor arena? And why the fuck do people spend big money to sit out in winter weather to not be able to actually see the damned game?
Overall, I think the NHL and the teams would be just as well off to have the game played in some open field in Canada and not worry about having a live audience. The game's a showpiece game designed to get TV ratings. Why the farce of having a big, live audience?
Now, I'm old enough to remember another movie that had "Season of the Witch" in it's title. It was, pretty much, the movie that killed the Halloween franchise (until Rob Zombie did a nice job of resurrecting it). Given the movie's name and that it's starring the ever-spotty Nicholas Cage, I can't see ponying up $14/person to go see it in the theatre. Maybe I'd have considered going if the title were different. But, really, that choice of title screams to me, "this movie sucks so hard we had to give it a title to let you know it before you got here."
In the image below is 42lbs of tough, waggly dog. This picture was taken while she was trying to use the "Doggy Mind Trick" to convince me that the pizza crust I had should be hers:
Sorry, dear, but such tricks don't work on me.
At 42lbs, this little beast is strong. Thus far, she's figured out how to break out of both of our dog crates. Initially, we'd thought she'd bashed her way out. Turns out, she's actually been yanking her way out. The second time she'd gotten out of one of the cages, the cage door was wedged inward. Couldn't figure that one out until today, when she noticed that she was being weird with her mouth. On investigation, there's a chip out of one of her lower fangs. Apparently, she chipped it while yanking the door in with her mouth.
Oh well: she's an appointment with the vet, Monday. Not looking forward to what doggy-dentistry is likely to cost.
I really think that National Geographic should have just named the show "Stupid People Arrested". It would have been just as accurate as naming it "Locked Up Abroad" and it would really let people flipping through the channel guide know what was going on. Then again, they might have just thought it was NatGeo's version of "Cops".
Friday, December 31, 2010
2009 had been a pretty shitty year. The company I'd been working for, since they started operations in 2004, decided that the division I worked for was no longer worth the effort to maintain. Donna ended up in the hospital, for ten days, because of her digestive issues. I had my first seizure in nearly 20 years (and had it at work, no less!). My dad died just before Thanksgiving (apparently joining my Grandfather Ott in some kind of bizarre holiday tradition). So, the bar for 2010 to be better had been set pretty freaking low.
As we headed into the new year - 2010 - I felt glad to soon be shut of 2009. Unfortunately, I vocalized my feelings about the ending year and the coming year in what, in retrospect, may have been a carelessly challenging way to the Universe. While I didn't utter the words "it can't possibly be worse" or "it has to be better," I did say "2010 would have to try pretty hard to be worse than 2009 had been." Apparently the Universe heard me and said "close enough: I'll take that challenge".
In fairness 2010 wasn't awful, it was mostly vexing. On balance, it was probably better than 2009 had been. I mean, 2010 had death: specifically, the loss of our dog, Lana, at the beginning of December; and, tangentially-related, the death of my Dad's dog to a brain tumor. While I didn't have to change jobs, this year, I did have to put up with a lot of work-related stress. All the weight that I'd shed the prior two years (under different epilepsy medications) came back (under the medication I started in 2010). I still don't have my clearance sorted out - I've been in some kind of bureaucratic purgatory - but I have at least been able to do a couple things of worth (at least to those who pay me). And, Donna and I were able to end the year with a wonderful Caribbean Cruise.
Still, the death of our dog cast a pall over things. I'm a little less than a month shy of my 41st birthday. Her death was a reminder of my own mortality. The reminder wasn't so much in a "you're getting old, boy," kind of way, or the classic "death is stalking you" way, but more in a "how many more pets can you have before you need to start worrying that they'll outlive you" kind of way. In the end, I'm not currently afraid of dying as much as I am of leaving behind responsibilities unfulfilled.
The economy, while supposedly on the mend, has been hard on more and more people. While, to date, we've been fortunate to weather that storm, we've at least felt the peripheral effects. Several friends have been either directly effected or at least sufficiently indirectly effected to bring awareness of things closer to home than I'd like. Still, I feel fortunate and hope that we can remain so.
I'm not going to make any predictions about 2011. I hope that it's better:
- I hope that the addition of NewDawg and ending the year with the cruise are indicators that we might be coming out of the shadow that started to settle in the summer of 2007.
- I hope that Lana's is the last time that death visits us for a few years.
- I hope that my clearance issues sort themselves out. While I've been able to make myself productive, I still feel trapped by the nebulous state my working papers are in. It's not that I want to walk, but having the paperwork in place means I have a lot more flexibility and bargaining power if the tides of work-fortune start to shift. It also means that I have to be less reliant on others to "be my hands" at work. I chafe at my inability to be directly productive.
- I hope that my mom continues to adjust well to her new life. Hopefully, she'll enjoy her Alaska cruise, this coming year.
- I hope that I have no more reason to step foot inside a hospital - for myself, my family or my friends - beyond "well visits".
Not too long ago, they decided that they needed to open a new WalMart within walking distance of my house. I dunno whether they closed the one three miles further down Route 1, or not. If they haven't then I'm one of those people fortunate enough to have two, convenient WalMarts.
I have to assume they've closed the other one. Otherwise, the traffic for the new one makes almost no sense. I just can't see that there was such a pent-up demand for an additional WalMart that it would explain the influx of cars onto the roads immediately surrounding my neighborhood.
Speaking of which: why is it that, when allowing a big, new store to move in, they don't rework the roads to accommodate the new traffic patterns. It's 1PM on a Friday afternoon and the area is positively gridlocked. It took 15 minutes to navigate the last mile of Route 1 to get onto Kings Highway. Then it took a further five minutes to travel the 1/5 of a mile on King's Highway to get to the entrance to my neighborhood. Finally, I had to wait two minutes for the jack asses lined up on Kings Highway to let me into my neighborhood. Apparently, these (mostly Maryland-plated) people never quite got the concept of "don't block intersections". Yeah, I get that it's only a two-way intersection. However, you're still not allowed to block the intersection just because the traffic on the other side of your direction of travel has stopped. Being 30ft. closer to that stopped traffic doesn't get you there any sooner. All it does is makes the people that need to use that intersection (and could use that intersection, but for you) want to hop out of their cars and beat you bloody with something heavy and blunt.
So, yeah, I still find no redeeming value to WalMart, especially when it attracts yet more idiots to my neck of the woods.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
- The guy was calling to sell me DSL as a High-speed Internet solution. I've had DSL in the past (in fact, I was Bell Atlantic's first DSL customer, back in 1996/1997), but most of the time I had DSL, it was through carriers other than Verizon (first, it was CAIS, then it was SpeakEasy). So, there wasn't really a basis for "getting me back"
- I am currently a Verizon FiOS customer and have been for nearly a year now. So, I'm already a Verizon customer, so, no need to "get me back" as one.
- Before I had FiOS, I was a Cox HSI customer for several years. Why this is relevant is that the Verizon rep had called me on my GV number. I've really only been using the GV number since fall of 2009. So, the number they had for me to try to "get me back" isn't the number I had when last I had DSL (and, as previously mentioned, when I had DSL, I was never a VZ customer - the closest I came to it was when I was a Bell Atlantic employee and was helping beta test their offering [Bell Atlantic later became Verizon])
I hate "fixing" something when I can neither fully explain why it was broken nor why the "fix" works.
Even with what should be the right analysis tools in place to see the problem, it wasn't any more enlightening. The error I expected to see wasn't there. Worse, there wasn't really any alternate error in its place. Fucking. Maddening.
I still have the urge to track it down further (yeah, OCD!), even though I know that it's mostly wasted effort. I mean, the issue I ran into shouldn't happen in production situations, and, even if it did, I've documented the "fix" for it. I just don't like not knowing why it was broken or why my "fix" works.
Gah... I'd be ill-suited for work in medicine or other theoretical scientific endeavors.
I've had a Google Voice number for quite some time, now. It seemed the best way to give people phone contact info but control how and when they could actually reach me. And, given the fact that, at any given time, I may be best reachable by either my cell, my home line, or any of four phone lines at work (depending where I am, that day), it was also the most efficient way to have people contact me. I hate having to give people a list of contact info and try to tell them what fallback order to try them in.
Unfortunately, GV's call routing isn't as fine-grained as I'd like. Really, I'd like to be able to set GV to have phones in the call rotation on a day-by-day and hour-by-hour basis. Unfortunately, GV's really designed around the traditional worker rather than the telecommuter. So, you can set your call groups to ring all or some subset of your phone numbers. Then, you can set each of those numbers to have calling windows. My work extensions, I typically set up to "never ring on weekends" and to not ring between 18:00 and 07:00.
Were I scheduled to be at my office desk/extension four the typical five-day workweek, that would be fine. For better or worse, I telecommute 2-3 days a week. Given the level of control GV offers me, my desk extension is frequently ringing when I have no possibility of answering it. This, by itself, wouldn't be bad except that, on the days I'm not in the office, people make use of the empty space. Often times, they also tell people "call me at (my desk phone's number), today". So, when the phone rings, they assume it's for them and pick it up.
What GV really needs is the ability to designate an extension as a "log in" extension.Then, restrict the hours when the phone can be logged in. That way, on the days I'm at my desk, I could call my GV number, log in that extension and then have the "login" auto-expire at the end of the work day.
Oh well. For now, I'll just have GV no longer ring my desk but, instead, ring me on Skype. I'll pretty much always have my laptop when I'm on the clock.
Humorous event of the day:
Cat (Bella) goes charging headlong from her cat tree, in the living room, towards the kitchen. She often does this. I can only guess that her kitty-PDA pops up an appointment notification letting her know she's late to an appointment or something.
Unfortunately, when we got NewDaig, we installed a pet gate in the doorway between the livingroom and the dining room. The dining room is between the kitchen and living room. Most of the time, the main door in the gate is open. When it's not, the cat passthrough typically is. Today, the main door apparently got bumped close. Cat passthrough was also closed...
CRASH! 9lbs of rushing cat can, apparently, dismount a traction-mounted pet-gate .
I mean, ok, she's got big (ginormous, actually) tits - and, as a guy, I should like that - but I'm not going to watch a show just to see some loudmouth with big tits (there's far too much good internet porn out there for me to base my TV watching on covered-up, big, saggy tits). Even if I were to watch based just on tits, I'd do it with the sound muted (due to the aforementioned "loudmouth" problem). I don't think your sponsors are going to have any chance of getting their money's worth if I'm watching on mute.
I get that she kinda sounds like Oprah and Oprah's mad popular with the lobotomy crowd. But, I've not got a lobotomy and, even if I did, I'd probably want the real deal rather than some counterfeit.
Speaking of counterfeit: if you're going to offer up a "Wendy Williams", I'm thinking, even in her decomposing state, "Wendy O. Williams" would be a better choice.
Damn: what a waste of air-time.
I dunno: maybe you're trying to make people look stupid by picking one of their duckface pictures from their photo albums. I'd like to think that's the case, but I have my doubts.
At any rate, it makes it look like you have to be some kind of Jersey Shore wannabee tool to like Fox 5. If that's your goal, then, "mission accomplished."
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Of course, if I had my druthers, PayPal wouldn't be linked against any checking or savings account. They'd only be linked against my credit card(s). What makes it even more hateful is that, PayPal doesn't let you set your default funding source to any of your linked credit cards. This, among other (mostly philosophical/hate) reasons is why I prefer Google Checkout to PayPal. Just wish more people would move away from the ripoff that is PayPal.
Monday, December 27, 2010
But, that's what happens when someone asks you to make them a drink when you really aren't in the mood to do so. I mean, in my defense, the bottle of gin, the bottle of diet coke and the empty drinking glass were all sitting right next to each other on the counter next to the fridge. I was on autopilot and just grabbed and mixed.
Ok, so, had to go to the Mall, tonight. Apparently, with several rooms full of clothes, nothing was adequate for this coming NYE. The mysteries of living with a woman, I guess.
At any rate, malls are interesting places (for observing people, that is). Some malls are more interesting than others. Tonight, we went to the Pentagon City Mall.
Now, it's been a number of months since I've been to this mall. I dunno whether it's just the whole "holiday week" thing; the economy's recovering; there' a pent up demand to spend (regardless of the means to do so); or what. But, the Pentagon City Mall was much busier than it was the last few times I was there. However, it also seems that, in addition to the mall being busier, the demographics of this mall has shifted. There were a crapton of gay (I'm assuming, but, itseemed pretty freaking obvious) black teens and men. Maybe it's a new cruising ground?
Malls are great places to observe crowd dynamics. Like, how do people react when a couple of self important teenage girls decide to stop in the middle of a main access route to just jack their jaws? Well, people get cranky about it and eventually brusquely brush their ways through. Interestingly, said self-important teenage girls take exception to people not seeing how important they are and get all put out, "you could say excuse me, you know." All I could respond was, "I could, but, then again, you could find better place to flap your fucking lips at each other."
Malls are also places that offer the weirdest services at carts and kiosks. I mean, I dunno about you, but I'm not going to be able to relax all that much if I'm being massaged in a chair in the middle of the freaking concourse. I'm also pretty sure that, were I so hairy I needed to get my lip or eyebrows waxed (ok, I am hairy enough, but, fortunately, I'm not of a gender or disposition to do it), I wouldn't do it in a chair on an open concourse with hundreds of people walking by and gawking.
Every time I'm at the mall, I also notice that there seems to be a fundamental disconnect between the wares on offer and the people patronizing the mall. Every store and trendy boutique seems to carry the bulk of their inventory in sizes much smaller than the mall's average patrons. I also notice that "age-appropriate" doesn't seem to be a factor in the purchasing decisions of many people. I'm sorry, but if you're fifty years old - and look every year of it - you probably shouldn't be trying on that seethrough blouse and hoochie-skirt at Forever 21.
Malls are also places where people like to introduce their kids to various parts of adult life. One of these is, apparently, dealing with automated parking kiosks. Look, I get that kids are curious. I get that kids need to learn. However, what I don't get is why parents would think that, when the line for the kiosk is a dozen people deep, it's a good time to let a toddler struggle with the kiosk?
Speaking of parking... When the space is wide enough to double-park a Hummer (the original one, not those faux-hummers, the H2 or, worse, the H3), how do you have trouble parking your Tercel in between the goddamned lines?? Or, exactly HOW difficult is it to put your goddamned ticket into the EZ·Park automated parking turnstile and let yourself out of the lot? I mean, I might have bought the thought that the one you were at was broken. But, when I watch you switch lanes TWICE (cutting across several lanes in your ginormous SUV, each time) to struggle with another EZ·Park automated parking turnstile, I gotta start wondering whether they should have included a hockey helmet with your SUV purchase. And, lastly, why is it like some kind of bizarre rule that the person leaving through the leftmost turnstile is invariably wanting to exit out to the right (or vice versa)? I mean go around the fucking block. It's not like you can't get there from here (wherever "there" is) just because you exited the opposite direction you wanted to leave by.
Oh... Malls are also great places to bring one's inner snark right to the surface.
That said, I've noticed that most "normal" people don't like to interrupt if they think you're listening to something. Whether that something is a phone call, your MP3 player, or whatever. Even if listening to nothing, ear-buds are great at the office for keeping people from bugging you. It's even more effective if you're using a phone head-set as your listening device because they tend to assume you're using it for the phone call purpose rather than just listening to music.
Yeah: I hate people.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
I mean, we've already got a number of free video chat options out there. If I want to use my laptop - be it Windows, Macintosh or Linux - I can use Skype or Google video chat options. Apple joined the game with their FaceTime option on the newest generation of iPhones (and presumably all future hardware offerings). All I need is an iDevice and a cellular subscription. MicroSoft has a video chat offering via their new Kinnect device - all I need is the Kinnect and, presumably, XBox Live gold.
What I don't get is how ümi fits in? I mean, that they're advertising it on TV during regular programming. So, presumably it's aimed at "regular people". And, judging by the price shown in the above graphic, it's meant to be within financial reach of "regular people". But, there's the matter of all those other video offerings. All of those other offerings are an easy sell. I mean, how can you beat the "free" of Skype or Google (and presumably other stuff for your PC)? And, even if you want something that doesn't require your PC, you have offerings from Apple and Microsoft that leverage other multi-use products that have a decent (and rapidly growing) installed base.
So, what's the compelling case for ümi? I mean, it's not free - in fact, it costs me more than my Vonage subscription. Presumably, since the commercial (and the web site) don't mention that they work with any of the previously named incumbent competitors, what's the value proposition. I've got to buy a dedicated-purpose device. I've got to spend $25/mo. on top of my other monthly bills (in my case XBox Live Gold and Vonage) for products I already own and that already allow me to run competing video-chat products. You don't seem to be offering interoperability in an already splintered market - you're just trying to splinter it further. So, "what's up Cisco? Why would I possibly want the ümi?"
Today was a case in point. Donna was talking about making New Years dinner. In her family, a traditional accompaniment to said meal is black-eyed peas. Of course, my bent-brain decided to first process it as "black-guy peas".
In my defense (actually, probably less a defense than further indictment), I give Donna shit any time she says she wants "five guys". Five Guys is a burger outlet that she really likes and that has a location walking distance from our house. Naturally, unless she's very careful how she asks for it, I always have a laugh at her expense. It's actually become a bit of a running joke, at this point.
And, yes, I'm one of those "that's what she said" kind of guys.