Saturday, January 19, 2008

Between 8 and 12.

Once. Just once I'd like to be on a delivery schedule where they tell me "Between 8 and 12" and have a knock on the door at 8:15. Just once.
As I sat flipping the channels between "Apollo 13" and "Witness" - I stopped once when the Kelly McGillis nude scene flashed on, stunned that Universal showed it so early in the day - I wondered who exactly were the lucky people who get to experience such events. (The delivery thing, not naked Kelly McGillis - although that's interesting, too).
Somewhere in New Jersey a happy mattress owner was greeting their courteous delivery guys at 8:15 and gushing over the prompt attention to their schedule. It wasn't here.
Just as Jack Swigert was powering-down the command module, a knock came at the door. I had anticipated it, because the cat sensed the strangers approaching, like a feline alarm system.
Technically, it's between 8 and 12, so can I complain?
Nope. Plus the fact that it's a beautiful mattress that sits on the bed about 4 inches higher than the old one, so I'll have to buy the cat a stepladder.
I need a nap. Fortunately, I know exactly where to go for that.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The bed we make.

I can't lie to you and tell you that there's a lot going on here at My Sick Headquarters. On Saturday morning, I'll be taking delivery of a new mattress - so that's kind of exciting. I'm spending more than I wanted, but something tells me that a good night's sleep is worth a few extra bucks. I'm spending that Ebola money I've been hoarding, so I figure I may as well spend it on "durable goods" like mattresses and cameras than something like fancy restaurants and trips to nowhere. I'm funny that way.
The thought, when I started this selling frenzy was that the money would be used for something that I could use over the long term rather than something that is burned up quickly and possibly regret later. That's how my mind works, as if you needed to know.
It's a nice mattress. A Sealy pillow top, as if I know what that means. At the store, I laid down on this fancy machine that is supposed to tell me exactly what type of mattress is best for my body type. I had to answer a bunch of questions that I really didn't want to answer. "Do you have a sleeping partner?" I didn't know what the difference would be if I said "yes," other than it would have figured in two asses instead of one. And no, I didn't count the cat.
My fervent hope is that it will be so comfortable that I won't want to get up and go to work on Monday. That would make it worth the investment.
So there ya go. The exciting life of a modern single guy. Mattress delivery.
I need to get out more.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The boy's new toy

As some of you know, photography has been a hobby of mine for a while - 30 years or so, I think. The passion comes and goes, and with the advent of an affordable digital SLR, the passion has come back a bit.
I've been selling my old stuff on Ebola, and have saved enough money to take the leap into the digital thing and get a new mattress - but who cares about that?.
On Tuesday, I took delivery of a new Nikon D40 and 18-55 zoom lens. Technically, it's probably a bit less than what I would ideally desire, but financially it was perfect.
I've been slowly going through the manual, trying to find what all the buttons and switches do. Sadly, the weather around here has turned crappy, so I haven't had the opportunity to run around outside with it. I wasn't anxious to take a brand new camera out in the snow.
Then, I remembered an article I read a while ago that encouraged photographers to look around their back yard and their neighborhoods, because sometimes the most interesting images manifest themselves there. I'm coachable, and after the slow, snowy drive home, I pulled out the camera, set up the tripod and slid open the big patio door. It took a couple of minutes to get used to the idea that there isn't an aperture ring, and I had to figure out how to use the "manual" setting, because auto is for sissies!
When I get familiar enough with the camera and the weather makes it more comfortable to get out and experiment, I plan to start blogging my photos on another site. You'll be the first to know.
Here it is, officially the 13th image on the card, but the first one I liked enough to yank out and post. It helps when a little traffic rolls by and there's enough snow stuck to the trees to make things interesting.
For the photo geeks, the lens was set at 45mm, exposed for 6 seconds at f5.3, ISO 400, JPEG fine.
Click on the image and it will enlarge.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bolt the door.

WASHINGTONHigher costs for energy and food last year pushed inflation up by the largest amount in 17 years. Consumer prices rose by 4.1 percent for all of 2007, up sharply from a 2.5 percent increase in 2006, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Consumers felt the pain when they filled up their gas tanks or shopped for groceries. Prices for both energy and food shot up by the largest amount since 1990.
No kidding. Unless you're making your own consumer goods or buying stuff that doesn't have to be transported, you're screwed. Energy prices impact the price of everything if it has to be moved to the point of purchase. Does anybody want to go back to that Agrarian Society and use the barter system? Me too. We could still have the Internet, which would be a cool thing, but we'd need solar powered computers.
This is hilarious ...
WASHINGTON - Steel plates connecting beams in the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis were too thin by half and fractured, "the critical factor" in the collapse that killed 13 people and injured 145, the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday. Investigators found 16 fractured gusset plates from the bridge's center span.
"It is the undersizing of the design which we believe is the critical factor here. It is the critical factor that began the process of this collapse. That's what failed," NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said at a news conference
So, all that crap about our aging infrastructure was only partly true - and a small part at that. It turns out that the initial design and build were bad. Can the government have its money back? I don't know what happened where you live, but here in the Delaware Valley, the local authority that controls the bridges over the river proposed a toll increase of 25%, partly to fund the inspection of our aging bridges, as a result of the 35W collapse. All they really need to do is pull the design plans. How much would that cost?
Sure, the bridges are old, but this reactionary junk that we go through every time something goes wrong usually winds up costing us money, time or both. Something blows up, collapses, a kid brings a gun to school, a drunk driver runs over a guy, an airplane is hijacked - you name the catastrophe - and there's some reactionary judgement that is supposed to make the world a safer place, but is it really?
We have this thing called Megan's Law here in New Jersey that is supposed to target child predators and make people aware that a pedophile is living in your neighborhood. Are kids still being sexually assaulted? Sure they are. Do drunk drivers still run over guys? Yep. Another bridge will collapse as sure as shit, and it won't be prevented because they increased the toll a dollar.
The gang at MySpace is implementing tougher security measures to keep kids from being targeted by men who like kids in a sexual way. Will it stop? Maybe a little, but it will never stop completely, because people who like to do crap like that will always find a way. Drinkers drink and drive, child molesters molest children and bridges fall down. We do what we can, but when it becomes intrusive on the general public perhaps the measures are a bit extreme. You can't get in a commercial airplane without taking your shoes off first. Do you feel safer?
Just make sure you bolt the door.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

... and it begins.

When you were a kid and you would make some kind of goofy face, your mother would tell you, “If you don’t stop, your face will stay that way!” While most of us never believed it, I think it’s true in a different way.
Tonight, the seventh season of television’s version of the Goofy Face starts up again, and the slow erosion of what passes for entertainment continues. It’s called American Idol, and in case you don’t already know, I despise this program and everything it stands for.
You started watching it because it looked kind of interesting, and because the first few shows featured people who sang so badly that dogs covered their ears, but not badly enough to be kept off of television. It’s beyond bad, but who doesn’t like a good train wreck? You are repulsed yet you cannot look away.
Maybe one of your friends showed up at what they call “talent searches” in a city nearby because they figured that the producers were actually listening and that they might think they were good enough to make it to the end. They might be, if the results were not determined long before the talent search began.
Then, as the weeks and years wore on, you become hooked. The goofy face contest has turned into its own industry, with concert tours and record deals where even the “losers” are winners. You watch every week and you talk about it with your co-workers because they watch too. It’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” in the form of a TV show. Don’t fall asleep or they’ll get you, too.
You may even call to vote for your favorite, because you think they are really counting the votes. I’d like to have the available money and time to do the actual footwork to prove that this show is the biggest scam perpetrated on the American public since the 2000 presidential election, but all I have is my cynical viewpoint of the entertainment industry and the simple fact that the people they choose are not uniquely talented nor are they necessarily any better than some of the people who get turned away. I don’t have to watch the show to know that. I can base my low opinion on the fact that the show has become its own franchise. Franchises don’t like to take chances, and this one is no exception. Perhaps the first season was legitimate, but at this point, the producers cannot afford the luxury of taking a chance that the person they pick will not be someone who can carry on the franchise. It’s politics disguised as music.
Somehow, it fills our perceived shortage of celebrities and perpetrates the idea that hard work isn’t necessary to succeed. All you need to do is somehow get on television and, like winning the lottery, your fortune is made. There are lots of shows like it now, because just like kids, when one of them makes a face, the others imitate it.
The sad truth is that, with the writers on strike and television reduced to a litany of game shows and talent searches, this may be the biggest year ever for AI, so the franchise will roll onward and I will have to continue to ignore it, because my eyes are still pointed straight.
Seven years ago, television made a goofy face, and just like mom said, it stayed that way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A slow news day.

The Bad Parking blog put up my photo. Run and see! Technically, it's not "car" parking, but only a "t" away, and who's to argue technicalities?

And, as if we needed another reason to celebrate a bogus holiday, it turns out that good old Christopher Columbus is responsible for discovering a little more than just the New World - or so we're told...
MONDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) - A new analysis of the genetics of syphilis provides support for the theory that the disease hitched a ride with Christopher Columbus from the New World back to the Old World.
The most familiar theory suggests that syphilis came to the Europe via frisky sailors on the Columbus expedition, and historical records suggest the disease did appear on the continent in 1495, three years after Columbus set sail for what proved to be the New World.
Hey kids, take the day off and celebrate!

In the meantime, here's a frog on a motorcycle:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My dispersive mind.

It doesn't take much to make me happy. A few bucks in my pocket, some good games to watch and a tasty beverage. Lucky for me, I had all three of them this weekend.
Saturday's NFL playoff games went according to Hoyle, with the Patriots and Packers advancing, but Sunday was another story - or two. I went out to what passes as the local Sports Bar to watch Saturday's action and hung out at the shack to watch Sunday's games. So, ask me about Sunday and I'll have a more conclusive argument. Mostly, I watched Sunday at home because I'm a fugazi Charger fan, and I need to concentrate on the game when they're playing. They won and advanced to the AFC championship game, where they will be dismantled by the Patriots.
It's always fun to watch the Cowboys lose, and Sunday was no exception. I'm figuring that there a lot of Dallas residents scrambling to cancel Arizona vacation trips for the first week in February. After all, who wants to waste valuable vacation time watching the Patriots and Packers? Besides, they'll look so out of place in their Cowboy gear. Check Ebola for hotel and game packages being offered by people from Texas.
Have you ever eaten a pomegranate? If you haven't, you aren't missing much. One of my friends at work brought one in for me to sample (it's a long story) and I sliced it open today. I suppose, if I was ever stranded on an island like Tom Hanks in "Cast Away", I'd be grateful for a nice juicy pomegranate tree, shrub or whatever. Living in modern society, however, affords me the luxury of either drinking the juice (already bottled) or skipping it altogether. You make the call. The seeds are kind of chewy and the fruit part doesn't have much taste. Since I didn't eat a lot of it, I missed out on its abundant source of panothenic acid, vitamin C and potassium. I'll survive somehow.
I'm currently mulling the move to digital photography. Having abandoned myself of most of my film accessories via Ebola, I figure it's now or almost never. I mull things, probably too much sometimes and not enough at other times. I'm a Nikon guy, and I kept a couple of my favorite lenses so I'll have to migrate to Nikon's digital system so that they'll work with the camera. The upside for you people is that I'll start posting the photos on another blog, so you'll have that going for you.
It's always a matter of spending the money, and I have more pressing needs. Namely a new mattress and sofa. It isn't that the mattress gets a lot of work, just that it's 17 years old, and I think a good mattress should last a little less than 17 years before it gets to the trash heap.
I haven't given you a Kitty update in a while, mostly because he's doing fine, and what's the point to that? He sleeps a lot, but that's what cats do.