Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Feelin' Yucky...

I tried to come up with a clever title, but I don't even feel up to that. I'm going to bed in a few minutes, about two hours earlier than I usually do. Colds/flus suck majorly.

I went to work today, but bailed around lunch time. I will try again tomorrow, after around nine hours of sleep. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 25, 2002

Decay of the Mothertongue

BBC News reports that Israeli newspapers are disenchanted with Ariel Sharon. However, the unnamed author of the BBC article, can't seem to find the right words:

And Maariv, a centre-right newspaper, was coruscating.

"Sharon's speech sounded like a pep talk to the folks, taken straight from the lexicon of cliches and slogans," it thundered.

Maariv was 'sparkling', 'glittering', about Sharon? Could the author have meant excoriating?

Sunday Aftermath

Try attending a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's with a bad cold. A bad cold on the uphill portion of the largest ramp of the roller coaster. Go ahead, try it! I'll wait. Dum dee dum dum... Back? Not very much fun, was it?

It's a measure of how sick I was feeling that at CEC's, the land of the free refill, I didn't want even one soda pop. I just wanted water, and lots of it. I walked around with Kelly when she was doing the 'attractions', stood in line with her to cash in her tickets for cheap toys, and otherwise sat at an empty table reading half-a-paperback (if you wanna freak out a six-year old who's just picking up speed learning to read, rip a paperback in half so it will fit in your pocket).

Several of Kelly's friends were there, including Cesar, whom I mention to illustrate once again how divorced from reality I was. I only discovered after they left that Cesar's parents don't speak English. They smiled a lot.

Kelly brought her HitClip mini-player, and lost it there. I think it disappeared in the ball pit. Kelly spent some time digging among the balls trying to find it, and in a fit of poor judgement I promised that if she didn't find it I'd buy her another one. So she learned a valuable lesson: if you don't take care of your things, Dad will replace them for free.

This segues into the post-party segment of the evening, where I drove to Fred Meyer's to find a replacement HitClip kit for Kelly. But first, I decided if she got a treat, I should get one, so I stopped at Border's bookstore and bought myself a copy of Basic Photographic Materials and Processes. After that, we arrived at Fred Meyer's and hunted until we located the HitClip material. They were out of the 'earbud' players, and only had the microscopic 'boombox' model, which as it turns out, puts out an annoying level of sound.

We finally arrived home, and Jean graciously agreed to assume the bathing chores, so I had a veggie burger and collapsed.

I didn't have any trouble on the drive home, but with the cold and exhaustion, I'd have to say I was definitely not driving with my full faculties. Let's say it was equivalent to driving with a handheld cellphone the whole way. Hey, there's a new impairment scale! On a scale of one to five cellphones, how impaired were you?


In keeping with my constantly escalating interest in photography, here is my quote of the day, from The Luminous Landscape, a landscape photography website (duh). The article is an extensive discussion of what lenses yield the sharpest images:

Are you ready for this? Here's the big one. The one big truth that I've learned about this subject after more than 40 years as a photographer, and which summarizes the points above.

"Most Lenses are Better Than Most Photographers"

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Party Time

Kelly is attending a birthday party for Brianna, one of her school friends, at Chuck E. Cheese's this afternoon. Lucky me, I get to take her, which should be fun, since a cold has blossomed in my Nordic lungs over the weekend. Add that chewing pizza is going to be a chore since Kelly accidentally knocked my jaw really hard last night, and I have little to look forward to.

I think I'll take my P&S camera to do some practice shooting. I don't want to take my Nikon Coolpix because that's really only for photography I want to put up on the web, and it ain't Kelly's party.

Kelly bought Brianna a present yesterday and was so taken with it that she bought one for herself as well: a HitClip. This is a little gadget which takes tiny chips containing one-minute samples of music by various pop icons such as Britney Spears and 'N Sync. I tried to look up some factoids about the technology (are the chips EEPROMs or flash -- probably too expensive), but Tiger Toys has that locked up pretty tight, and the reverse engineering crowd seemed more interested in the FM plug-in module. Maybe I'll try looking at it under the microscope .

The Razor's Edge

If a television show is cancelled, the rights holders show no interest in selling the rights to anyone else, and indeed they have demonstrated from the beginning a lack of interest in promoting the show (when they usually promote the living daylights out of every new show they introduce), moving it from timeslot to timeslot and 'hiding' it's fleeting new location, is it intellectual property theft to acquire unlicensed copies of that show?

The strictest answer is, of course, yes. Still, I was quite enchanted by Invader Zim (not even listed on Nick's front page), and to date there is every indication that it is headed for oblivion, killed by neglect at the hands of Nickelodeon. Happy is the man who discovers Divx, and applies it wisely. I found fan copies of every episode released so far, online at various sites, apparently captured directly from television, as they had Nick 'toon promotions for other shows at the end of each program.

I have never downloaded any movie or television show which I had a reasonable hope of getting commercially. Strike that, I've never downloaded any American movie or television show at all. I've only ever downloaded some Japanese anime which clearly was never going to be licensed in the United States. In the one instance where I was surprised by the license being picked up, I deleted the files.

So what if Nick or whoever eventually owns the rights releases a DVD of all the episodes? I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I won't have to delete the files from my computer because I don't plan to hoard them anyway. I just wanted to see the episodes which have eluded my ReplayTV because Nick lies about the scheduled showtimes.

In October of 1998, the Bono Copyright Extension Act stretched copyrights out yet again, such that the 'reasonable term' granted to original authors extended well beyond their lifespan, and benefitted only corporations. A side-effect of this is that works which were due to enter the public domain instead remained copyrighted by various publishing houses. And of course the publishing houses made these works readily available, right? No, in fact, the vast majority of these works are out of print, and will most likely be lost forever. Of course some of them are worthy of oblivion, but we will never be allowed to judge that.

So we return to the ethical question. Is it theft? Yes. Is it wrong? In my opinion, only if the copyright holder has any intention of using the intellectual property. Let me close with a quote from Steve Ressel, the producer and director of Zim:

If you are wondering about the crew reaction to Zim episodes on the web and the legal or moral aspect of the practice- no one has a problem with it; we are generally flattered.

Friday, February 22, 2002


Yesterday evening Kelly lost her second baby tooth. Front, left, top. It was hanging by a thread for over a week. How it happened: I was making her an omelet in the kitchen and she kissed me on the cheek. Smooch! Click! The sound of it hitting the linoleum floor was instantly recognizable by both of us.

She let me take a (film) picture, but not digital, so it'll have to wait on development to show up here. This morning we were 'celebrating' the new 'departure' and she showed us that the neighboring tooth is also very loose. Could they go in a batch?

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Photoshop Galleries

Wouldn't you know it, Photoshop 6.0 does web galleries, too. In case you're not familiar with them, they're the pages I've been linking to various places here on my weblog. For an example, click on the banner photo (limited time offer!). I did that one using Cameraid, which is an excellent all-around photo utility, but not quite the calibre of Photoshop. I also checked out a tool called TalaPhoto, which does nothing but web galleries, but only with frames.

So tonight before all my energy ran out, I ran off a sample web gallery using some of the last scans from my first run of Olympus Stylus Epic photos. As you'll notice, some are experimental in the extreme. I took a photo of Kelly at the concert and blew it up to just her face. Then I did a 'redundant' scan on the film scanner and tried blowing that one up. Result: mucho grain.

So the lesson here is that without a telephoto or zoom lens, I can't expect to get pictures at a school concert that I can use without crawling into the laps of the kids. Since that won't work, I'll continue to use the Nikon Coolpix 950, which has a 3X zoom and is digital to boot, giving quick turnaround!

My (film) photographic site of choice, Photo.net, run by Philip Greenspun, recommends using cameras only with 'prime' (fixed focus) lenses. As Phil says:

Photographic lenses in general are not very good. They only appear to be good because people very seldom enlarge or closely inspect images. Lenses are subject to many kinds of distortion, all of which are more difficult to engineer around in a zoom lens. Furthermore, zoom lenses tend to be slower (admit less light) than prime lenses. This forces the photographer into using flash and/or a tripod.

So I bought the Olympus Stylus Epic, recommended on Photo.net as a very good P&S camera. However, it is really equipped with a mildly wide-angle lens, rather than a telephoto. So as you can see by the samples, even a cheap zoom on a 2 megapixel digital camera can give better results than a (wide angle) prime on a film camera, under less than ideal conditions (which life usually hands you).

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Photoshop 6

Yesterday I bought the Photoshop 6.0 Upgrade for Macintosh. I was able to use the upgrade because ages ago we bought a flatbed scanner which bundled Photoshop 4.0 for something like an extra $50. The Adobe technical support person I spoke with when confirming that this was a valid upgrade option told me they didn't do such bundles anymore because "it was too good a deal."

This was "too good a deal" as well. If I'd had to pay full price, I wouldn't have bothered. It costs four times as much as the upgrade. But now I've got the modern version installed and fully functional! The layout has changed a lot, and I expect it will take awhile to get up to speed, but I've already discovered a feature which makes this upgrade worth it: constrained cropping. That is, I can tell Photoshop that I want to crop down an image, but that I want the crop to be constrained to say, the dimensions needed for a 4"X6" photograph (for digital printing). It works great, and if I'd had it last weekend it would have saved me an hour when I was creating images to print at the Costco digital imaging kiosk.

I'm gonna try working through the user's guide to find out what features are of interest to me, but I'll probably pick up a book for 'noodling' projects later on. Maybe The Photoshop 6 Wow! Book, or the Adobe Photoshop 6.0 Classroom In A Book.

Physics Superstars

If you're old enough, you may remember seeing the original run of Cosmos, a thirteen episode love letter to the universe, from Carl Sagan. Sagan was hardly the first popular physicist, or popularizer of physics. But he was certainly one of the most successful. The only other success of this scale that I can think of is James Burke, who is more of a polymath than a physicist, and doesn't limit himself to cosmic scale questions. Burke is still alive and weaving that web.

Nobody has arisen to claim the throne, though there are a host of adequate popularizers out there. I'm now placing bets, however. In the past several weeks I've seen at least two articles referring to a physicist who has begun hosting documentaries about high-energy physics. Thus far these films have been limited to physicists and their conferences, but I'm seeing a growth in visibility which leads me to believe that Maria Spiropolu is aiming for the brass ring. Does she have what it takes? I don't know. It all depends on whether she has screen presence, and a recognizable style. Can you say "billions and billions"?

Sunday, February 17, 2002


Last night was a NOVA night. The club reached a watershed, in that they crossed the $1000 mark in their quest to raise funds for a projector. I never in my wildest dreams believed that we could raise so much in such a short time, but apparently the financial profile of the club has changed over the years. Call it the "graying" of NOVA

Typically we try to go to a movie after the meeting, we being Tom, Alan, John Jackson, Dan, James, myself or some permutation thereof. This particular meeting, however, we were all invited to an Okonomiyaki party by Kari and Lisa, two of our more artistic members. They rented a pair of rooms at the Embassy Suites, stocked them with all the fixings for Okonomiyaki, and ran a grill cooking to order. And yes, it was a dry party, for all you concerned citizens out there.

I chose not to eat since I didn't want to be digesting until the wee hours. Several members were showing signs of the illness that has been taking folks out left and right (including many of my co-workers at Mentor last week). I haven't fallen yet, but was feeling a little surreal last night. In fact, I hope certain people didn't find me more obnoxious than usual, since in retrospect I was teasing them mercilessly. I accept that when I'm at a gathering like this that I usually get a little too goofy for my own good, but still, hope I didn't tweak anybody's nose too hard.

After the party, I drove home, and, you know, conked out!

Berry Hunt

Yesterday Kelly was rummaging through Mom's geegaws and found a miniature bucket, which once contained Valentine's Day candy. Kelly decided that it was a berry bucket, and that she and I must fly at once to Mentor to hunt for berries. She had clear memories from her days at the Child Development Center on Mentor's campus that there were numerous, bounteous blackberry bushes behind the soccer field.

I carefully impressed on her that she wasn't likely to find any berries this time of year, but she still wanted to go. Since it was a way to get her outdoors and exercising I agreed. While we were down there, I grabbed the Olympus C3040Z digital camera our team uses for capturing whiteboard images, and took a few photos. You can reach them by clicking on the banner at the top of the home page (or when this is replaced, follow this link).

After the hunt, we ended up going back to my office so that I could upload the digital photos. While there, Kelly saw a button on a wall, which had a red circle with a line through it, over the word "whining". I.e., "no whining". I explained it to her, and she thought it was cute.

We finally left, and I decided to swing by Fry's Electronics to see if they had a software package I was looking for. When she realized we weren't going directly home, Kelly started to complain. "My feet are sore! I don't want to go here!" She went on and on, while I was getting out of the car. I let her know that since I'd taken the trouble to bring her down and spend all that time with her, the least she could do was spend ten minutes at Fry's with me. Finally I said, "no whining."

"Dad," she said, "the sign's not here!"

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Insider Humor

Every discipline has it's own jokes and anecdotes. In a sufficiently broad discipline, such as computer science, you'll get 'sub-disciplinary' humor (BOFH, for instance). When I was getting my undergraduate degree in computer science at University of Akron, the computer science curriculum was directed by the Mathematics Department. The professor who got me into NASA, Dr. Young, was an award-winning mathematician. My advisor, Dr. Hajjafar, was perhaps the greatest teacher of mathematics (numerical analysis, in this case) that I have ever had the pleasure to learn under.

Suffice to say, as I got deeper into the program I began to hear 'math jokes'. I shouldn't inflict them on you, but here's a sample:

An engineer, a chemist and a mathematician are staying in three adjoining cabins at an old motel. First the engineer's coffee maker catches fire. He smells the smoke, wakes up, unplugs the coffee maker, throws it out the window, and goes back to sleep.

Later that night the chemist smells smoke too. He wakes up and sees that a cigarette butt has set the trash can on fire. He says to himself, "Hmm. How does one put out a fire? One can reduce the temperature of the fuel below the flash point, isolate the burning material from oxygen, or both. This could be accomplished by applying water." So he picks up the trash can, puts it in the shower stall, turns on the water, and, when the fire is out, goes back to sleep.

The mathematician, of course, has been watching all this out the window. So later, when he finds that his pipe ashes have set the bedsheet on fire, he is not in the least taken aback. He says: "Aha! A solution exists!" and goes back to sleep.

There were more than you could imagine, with a sprinkling of engineering jokes to lend variety. Anyway, whenever I get beyond the surface of any hobby or discipline, I discover that the little club has it's own jokes and humor. I've had a digital camera for awhile now (on my second one, actually) and I just bought a P&S to round things out. So I was reading Photo.net this evening, when I ran across this, an "Ode to a Negative (Apologies to Robert Burns)". Even to my journeyman ear, this poem rings true, both as photography humor, and as a pastiche of Robert Burns. Read it, it's good.

Science Photography

This set of images from the Visions of Science Photographic Awards are the ultimate in cool, and reward multiple viewings. [via Jason Kottke]

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

Too Many Cooks (or: Not All Cooking Shows Are Created Equal)

The triumphant return of America's Test Kitchen was accompanied by a promotional blip for another cooking show (I don't usually watch ads with the ReplayTV box, but I was working on my laptop at the time). Okay, I said, I'll give it a try.

Gah! If John Tesh had a cooking show, it would look like Cooking With Caprial & John. The recipes may generally be interesting on this show, but I wouldn't know, as I couldn't get past the utterly bland personae of the co-hosts. I won't be watching this show twice.

Biofilms Redux

A while back (a long while back, Internet time) I posted a note to my old weblog about biofilms. Now from Honeyguide, a nice naturalist weblog, I've found this, quoted in it's entirety since I don't want to lose the links, and he doesn't have by-article links:

When bacteria touch down on a surface, they count themselves and start building structures.

I've linked it before, but I still highly recommend this

Science News article, which goes into more detail about how bacteria work together to form "biofilms" on a surface. It mentions a soil bacterium that, when it makes a biofilm, turns off the genes that make the flagellum (the propulsive "tail"). Instead it concentrates on making appendages called pili that help it stick to the surface or move along it -- a different mode of propulsion for a different way of life. Free-swimming bacteria forming biofilms are a bit like humans switching from migratory hunting-and-gathering to living in towns -- only imagine that a few years after moving to a city, we all grew a Segway out of our asses.

Bacteria can work together, they can evolve to resist our poisons, they reproduce hundreds of thousands of times faster than we can, they're invisible to the naked eye, and they have us completely surrounded. It's a good thing some of them are on our side.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Photo Finish

It pays to shop around, I guess:

Kodak Royal Gold 400, 24 exposures

  • Oregon Photo: $7.99

  • Adorama: $3.65 (36 exposure is $4.49, $3.50 less than Oregon Photo's price for 24 exposures)

My initial experiments are to determine if there is much difference in quality between grades of film when using a P&S camera, so I'm doing one-off rolls that I've picked up at Oregon Photo. I don't mind paying a bit more to just walk in the store and pick up a roll, but a 218% mark-up?!?! Okay, it won't be that big a difference after paying postage to buy from Adorama, but if I bought bulk (five 36 exposures rolls) postage would be negligible. Oregon Photo charges $5.50 for a roll of Kodak Max 400 (Max being lower quality than Royal Gold). That's still more expensive than the mail-order 36-exposure Royal Gold deal.

Printing a roll of 24 exposures to 3X5 glossies costs $10 at Oregon Photo ($0.41 per image). Printing a roll of 36 exposures at Adorama is a $12 mailer ($0.33 per image). But Adorama uses 'dunk and dip' developing, so I'm guessing there'll be fewer scratches on the negatives. I've got a sample mailer on order for that experiment.

Saturday, February 9, 2002

Cooking Science

I just finished watching the season premiere of America's Test Kitchen. That is, if one could really have a 'season premiere' with this sort of show. I first stumbled on it last year when Kelly was 'random grazing' Saturday afternoon television. The episode that time was for The Perfect All-Purpose Cake.

When the episode is for desserts or veggie dishes, this show is virtually perfect for me. All the 'science of cooking' and blind taste testing is perfect for my geek personality. Too many episodes focus on beef or pork dishes, which I don't have enough interest in to imagine I'd ever bother cooking. The first episode this season was dessert (Fudge Brownies), so I win. Next week is Short Ribs, so I lose. Oh, well.

I Think That I Shall Never See...

I just got my first roll of film back from Oregon Photo. I shot it with the P&S, generally choosing static subjects such as Trees. I used Kodak Max 400 film for this experiment, and as noted above, I had it developed by a 'professional' lab.

On the plus side:

  • Negatives came in separate plastic sleeves.

  • Each 3X5 had the negative number stenciled on the back.

  • The glossies were of decent quality, crisp and bright.

On the minus side:

  • Negatives had fingerprints on them before they were removed from their sleeves by me.

  • Negatives have dust/hair in the developed images. Look at the first tree in from the right, foreground, in the 'Forest' picture, near the bottom branches -- in the original negative scan there is a hair which is huge, though thank Ansel it don't show so blatantly at lower resolutions. When checking the negative, there's nothing on the surface, it's just in the image. What the!?

  • Despite the individual plastic sleeves, the tree-against-sky picture had a long vertical scratch over the central tree, shooting up into the sky. Using Photoshop's "stamp" feature took care of most of it, but you can still see vestiges.

Other issues may be traced to the scanner (2720 pixels per inch vs. 4000 on the Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED which is about three times as expensive) or the choice of film/camera. The pictures when scanned are somewhat muddy and washed out. Doing an auto-level in Photoshop seems to help with this. I'm developing a second roll at the same lab using Kodak Royal Gold 400 (as mentioned in the link to Kodak Max 400 above) to determine if that makes any difference in a P&S camera. I'll use the same lab for consistency.

My third experiment hasn't even begun. I bought another roll of Max, and I'm gonna have it developed (when finished) at another lab in Tualatin, in a strip mall by Donut King. Sometimes the drab hovel has the better processing, at least if you believe Philip .

Friday, February 8, 2002

FFX Voice Actors

Pondering the game, I thought about how good the voice acting was. So I went on a search to find info, and found this link. Man do those game dudes owe Cartoon Network a debt of gratitude! Cow and Chicken and Johnny Bravo figure prominently in several actors' resumes.

One I wish I hadn't found out is that the voice of Kimahri and Wakka (one of the coolest characters) are both done by John DiMaggio, who is the actor doing the voice of Bender on Futurama. So thank Fox Network as well. But I'll never be able to watch Wakka go through his moves again without wondering why he doesn't bend something!

Concert Gallery, Digital

I promised pictures from the concert, well, here's the first wave. I dropped the roll of film off this afternoon, and they promised to develop them by tomorrow. So I'll probably pull a late-nighter tomorrow night to scan the better images in, if there are any. Wish me luck!

Insulin Shock

Yesterday evening was my first outing to a school recital. The title of the production was "It's a Jungle Out There" and all the kids wore construction-paper head gear meant to identify them as particular animals. There were about five musical numbers, with the music teacher punching buttons on a keyboard to trigger programmed music. Andrew Lloyd Webber would have been proud.

I wandered about taking pictures to avoid falling asleep, using both my digital camera and my new point-and-shoot, an Olympus Stylus Epic fixed focus 35mm camera. As the place was crowded with parents, all of whom wanted to take pictures, I doubt any of my pictures turned out all that sharp. Digitals will likely go up tonight, film at 11.

It's a measure of our different attitudes that Jean said this was probably one of the most special moments as a parent that she's ever experienced. I on the other hand was experiencing a mixture of anxiety and boredom, not unlike waiting in the doctor's office to find out what that strange twinge in the chest might be. I'm truly not looking forward to that long tunnel of recitals and concerts, though there's a chance they'll improve as the kids get older...

Thursday, February 7, 2002

Middle Age

You know you've hit middle age when you discover that your favorite new feature in Mozilla is the Ctrl-+ shortcut*.

*: Make font on page larger.

Email, Shemale!

Nothing to say, just liked the headline

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Sub-mental Engineering

We finally watched the Mental Engineering special on the Super Bowl commercials. Jean recorded it on tape. All I can say is "what a disappointment!"

I was hoping for some meat, such as how the commercial was structured, it's demographic target, maybe some short 'making of' clips. Nothing of the sort. What I got was about four commercials, with substantial padding in between of not-very intelligent people thoroughly impressed with their own wit. We ended up skipping through the chatter and covered the entire half-hour show in about ten minutes.

Monday, February 4, 2002

Mad At Cows

Jean has had an embargo on beef for Kelly for I-don't-know-how-long. Last Friday Kelly let it be known that all her friends at school had cheeseburgers for lunch, and that she was very sad that she couldn't partake. Jean said she'd do the research, and decide this weekend. I agreed to do some research also, and a simple search on Google turned up a wealth of information. This would have been much more painful had we needed to make a trip to the reference section of the library. Anyway, I sent my summary message to Jean via email, and here it is:

This study was conducted under USDA contract by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The scientific lead was from the Harvard School of Public Health at Harvard University. Study ran for three years. Results were announced November 30, 2001.

Searching the net for references to this study and the words 'peer review' show that nobody has done one, so take the report with a grain of salt. The USDA itself lists among it's actions: "arrange for the risk assessment to be peer reviewed by a team of outside experts to validate its scientific integrity". Not enough time has elapsed for such a peer review to take place, in my judgement.

I only found one outright negative 'review' of the study, calling it 'cigarette science' and accusing Harvard of being a lapdog of the meat industry, posted before the report was published, at a site called www.mad-cow.org, so take *them* with a grain of salt ;^)~

Everything you ever wanted to know:



  • No known cases of BSE in the US after 13 years of intensive scrutiny. Meat import policies, feed regulation and testing form a triple-firewall against incursions.

  • Study runs simulations on worst-case scenarios based on real data from the U.K., taking current US rules into account. Result, worst case sees *possibly* one or two cases of vCJD per year, over a twenty year period from the time when infected cattle enter the country. The lesser scenarios all had no human infections, and all scenarios showed outbreaks dying out within 20 years.

Final Judgement:

I think it is currently safer for Kelly to eat beef than to ride in an automobile, to pick a well-known risk benchmark.

Then Jean asked her biology teacher, whom she characterized as a far-left liberal, what she thought. The teacher went off on a litany of problems with beef, from antibiotics fed to cows to injections of bovine growth hormone, and how all this could affect Kelly. When Jean asked her about BSE, she said, "oh, if that's all you're worried about, it's not a problem. But you really shouldn't feed her beef."

So this Sunday, I gave Kelly a choice between trying once again to see Snow Dogs and going to McDonald's Playland for a happy meal, and she chose the latter. You've never seen such a happy child!

Friday, February 1, 2002

Stupor Bowl Sunday

Many years I manage to completely miss that the Super Bowl is happening. Last year Jean, Kelly and I went out to have lunch at Yeatsy's, a faux Mexican restaurant with really good food, and the place was empty! We asked the waiter what gave, and he acted sort of surprised. "It's the Super Bowl today."

Well, that worked for us. Jean heard this weekend was the 'big game', so we're making plans to hit the restaurant again. Jean said we need to find out what time the game is so we can have the restaurant to ourselves again .

One thing Jean likes about the Super Bowl is the commercials, and she has actually recorded the game so she can skip over it to watch the commercials. I haven't bothered. This year I'm planning to record Super Commercials: A Mental Engineering Special, on PBS after the game. It is a show which will deconstruct some of the more interesting commercials, and sounds interesting enough to catch.

Let There Be (No) Light!

I think the single most cherished feature of my current car is that it whines at me if I try to leave the headlights on when I get out of it. I can't tell you how many times I left the lights on in the old Escort wagon, or how many times had to get a jumpstart from strangers. You'd think I'd learn, but it must have happened four or five times in the time I owned that car.

The problem is that with the occasional fog and variable overcast, I often start out with lights on, and then forget they are on because the sky has cleared up, gotten light, and why would I have the lights on for that? Doh!

So now a simple gadget saves me from myself. Thank you Honda!

Out of the Woods

I finally made it out of Macalania Wood! It took a long time, but I think the primary thing which helped this time was dumb luck. The main monster I held most responsible for killing my party the last two times, the Iron Giant, didn't put in an appearance for any of the battles. Which is ironic, since one of the skills Wakka picked up between battles was Dark Buster, supposedly the only thing effective against them.

After that was a battle with a Sin Spawn. No fair, after that nasty Wood! It only had one weakness, and I couldn't use sensor on it to find out what it was. In the end, I'm not even sure I discovered it's weakness so much as bored it to death. I dragged the fight out interminably by constantly re-healing everybody--go Yuna!

So around 11pm I reached another save spot, the Inn at Macalania Lake, maintained by the Rin Travel Agency. I'm afraid I wasn't very careful in my purchases, spending most of my hard-earned booty on Phoenix Down (revive one KO-ed character) and potions to restore hit points. So if there was some special gee-gaw I was supposed to buy, I'm now too broke to get it.

I saved and went upstairs. I'll view the tutorials for new fiends in the next day or two.