Monthly Archives: November 2006

Shadow Art Fair 2 2

shadow art fair 2My friend Mark and his co-conspirators have done it again and the second Shadow Art Fair is coming up next weekend. The first fair last July was a huge success and this one is going to be even better. It’s going to be at the Corner Brewery again, and this time it will run Friday night from 8pm to midnight and then on Saturday Dec. 2nd from 11am-8pm. Make sure you go down their and check it out and buy some local made stuff to give as holiday gifts.

A carbon question 2

I’ve been writing over on AutoBlogGreen for a couple of months now, so carbon emissions are on my mind a lot these days. As I was walking out of Target today I noticed a tank truck from NuCO2 filling up the carbon dioxide tank that they use in the snack bar and it triggered a question in my mind. Americans (and many others) drink huge amounts of carbonated soft drinks every day. Every single one of those bubbles from your drinks is comprised of carbon dioxide, considered to be the primary greenhouse gas causing global warming. Here’s my question. How much CO2 is emitted from every one of those soft drinks? It seems to me that all those drinks we open up every day, are emitting a hell of a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, possibly more than cars. If you know the answer, please chime in!

No zunes here

If you’re in the market for a digital music player this season, I would strongly recommend avoiding the new Zune from Microsoft at all costs. Even if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like the ipod (and there are some of you out there, although I’m still not sure why) don’t buy a Zune, there are other choices. Aside from all the technical reasons which I’ll get to in a minute, the absolute most important reason not to buy a Zune is Doug Morris. Doug is the CEO of Universal Music Group, the largest record label on the planet. He has managed to extort Microsoft into paying UMG at least $1 and maybe more for every Zune they sell. This is not for the actual music, since you don’t get any for that money. This is essentially a protection racket. At the launch of the Zune Morris said “These devices are just repositories for stolen music, and they all know it,” when talking about digital music players. How much do you want to bet that no musician ever sees a dime of that money?

In addition, between Microsoft and the record companies they’ve managed to strangle the only potentially noteworthy feature of the Zune, it’s wireless capabilities. The device has built in Wifi so you can share music with other Zune owners. However, when you send a song to someone they can only listen to it three times or for three days whichever comes first. After that the song is gone. You can’t however use the wireless to get online and buy the song directly from the player, you can’t use it to sync the player to your computer, you can’t do anything else with it. It’s a complete waste of space and battery life. The Zune is also a victim of drm in another way. If you have bought any music online from iTunes or any other store that sells copy protected song files (such as Napster or MSN or Real) you won’t be listening to those songs on the Zune. After pushing a scheme called “Plays for Sure” (it should have been labeled PlaysMaybe) for the past couple of years, the Zune uses a new completely incompatible scheme. So you can either violate the DMCA and crack your old music, or start all over again.

Overall the whole device is so indebted to the big record labels that combined with all the technical problems described all over the net in the last couple of weeks, the insane drm just makes it more trouble than it’s worth. I would recommend that you vote with your money and buy any other player and also refuse to buy any CDs or music downloads that are copy protected. Demonstrate to the big labels and the bands that are associated with them that you want to buy music at a reasonable price, and only buy from places like EMusic, Mp3Tunes, AudioLunchbox and MaganTune. They sell straight up MP3s with no DRM. If the bands want your money they should sell the same way. Doug Morris has enough money and he should not be in charge of what we listen to, where we listen and how.

Movie remakes

We got the new 2006 version of The Omen in the mail from Netflix today and it raises a question. What is the point of remaking a film shot for shot from a one that was good to start with? If you have nothing new to offer, why bother to spend tens of millions of dollars to re-shoot it? With the new version Battlestar Galactica, the producers took the basic premise of the original, and then expanded and took it in new directions. This new version of The Omen, like the remake of Psycho, a few years back, is a complete replica of the original, with new actors and sets but nothing else new. Between shit like this and all the sequels it’s no wonder Hollywood is going down the tubes and it’s well deserved.

Best Ford and Sony commercial ever

aston martin dbsJules, Max and I went to see Casino Royale this afternoon and it’s definitely the best Ford and Sony commercial yet. Oh yeah and it’s also a really good James Bond movie. The first chase sequence after the opening credits was absolutely amazing, and must be seen to be believed. The whole movie was really good, and Daniel Craig was a great choice to be the new Bond and is probably the best since Connery. Judi Dench looks great for 72 and as usual she put in a great performance as Bond’s boss M.
There was actually a decent story line and character development, with part of the plot here being the beginning of Bond’s career as a “00” agent. It’s not a great artistic triumph, but it is well crafted and entertaining.

However, it was hard to ignore all the product placement. As always, cars played a prominent part, with recent Bond films featuring a return to their Aston Martin roots after using Lotus and BMWs for several films from the late 70s to early 90s. These days Aston Martin is owned by Ford and the company definitely got their money’s worth in terms of screen time. In addition to the old ’64 Aston DB5 from the first Bond movies, there was a new custom made DBS, as well as lots of Jaguars, Land Rovers, Ranger Rovers and assorted other Ford brand vehicles. There was also a nicely shot sequence that would make a great commercial for the new European Ford Mondeo. Cell phones and laptops also played an important part in the plot, and the Sony-Erricson and Sony Vaio logos were clearly visible and legible at every opportunity.

In spite of all the logos, if you’re in the mood for a good, entertaining action flick that also has a plot and acting Casino Royale is definitely worth seeing.

Black Friday

Today is “Black Friday” and I’m celebrating it by ignoring it. In some past years I’ve made that early morning trek out to try and snag some insane bargains. However, I’ve come to realize that it’s just insane. No bargains are that great that they’re worth the hassle, especially when they’re made up of mostly mail in rebates. I’ve decided that I will no longer participate in the ridiculous rebate game and if I can’t get a good deal out the door I simply won’t bother. As for today, I looked around at what I have and what I need, determined that my time would best be spent today, sleeping in a bit, getting up and drinking some coffee, dropping off my car at the dealer for service and then sitting down to read and write. We’ll probably go see a movie later, and on top of it all, I can just reflect on how lucky I am even when things aren’t so perfect.

Monterey 2

sea lionsI spent a couple of days out in Moneterey recently for the other gig, and saw some really interesting stuff. We had dinner one night at the Monterey Bay aquarium which is truly amazing place. The tables were set up next to a tank that has the world’s first captive kelp forest. The tank was teaming with all kinds fish, including sharks. The aquarium has the world’s only captive great white shark although we couldn’t see it, that night. Also near the hotel on Cannery Row was a wharf that was covered by sea-lions. I took a walk out there and photographed the sea-lions and the smell of hundreds of the animals was rivaled only by the cacophony of their barking. It was definitely cool to see though. If you click on the photo it will take you to an album of more photos.

I hate shopping at Ikea!

I like most of the products from Ikea, the clean simple designs are very appealing for the most part. The prices are quite reasonable, and I certainly don’t mind putting stuff together myself. But I absolutely abhor the in-store experience. I generally hate big-box stores of all kinds, there’s just too much stuff and it’s too hard to decide what you want if you haven’t already done so before entering the store. Worse still if you have decided what you want, trying to find it is painfully hard even in a place like Home Depot where everything is stacked on shelves in straight aisles. If you haven’t been in an Ikea store, the layout has no aisles as such. Items are in various sections, like kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. There is a sort of path that meanders around the floor of the enormous store, and there are no particular landmarks.

Because the place is so huge, devoid of windows, and having no meaningful landmarks, it’s easy to get lost and end up wandering around aimlessly. I think that this may actually be a calculated effort to get people to spend more. You get into this store, get dis-oriented, and roam, serendipitously finding stuff that seems appealing. You may end up spending a lot more than you planned. We went there today to get a coffee table, and Jules was asking me a question and I was so overwhelmed by the overload of people and stuff everywhere, that I had trouble answering the question. I don’t like shopping at the best of times, but Ikea really puts me over the edge.

I prefer to figure out what I want or need, before going to the store and then just make a bee-line for what I’m looking for, and then get out as fast as I can. I think I’m the kind of shopper that store managers hate, because I try to avoid impulse purchases. If I’m not sure what I want beforehand I tend to browse and more often than not end up walking out empty-handed.

Beer and Bloggers 2

Jules and I just came back from Beer and Bloggers down at Frenchies. It was great to meet and talk to some of the other local bloggers. We met Julia from Ann Arbor is Overrated, Brett from Maproom systems, Rod from Out of the Woodwork, Ol’ East Cross and Ed from Superpatron. Steve Pierce, Cam Getto and many others were there too. We talked to some great people, and it’s great to see so many people interested and involved in what’s going on around our community. We also tried out the new Sidetrack mini-burgers which are really great.

Are these people nuts?

camping out for ps3In case you’ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, the Sony Playstation 3 is finally going on sale tomorrow, followed by the Nintendo Wii on Sunday. Every year this kind of thing seems to happen when some hot new product comes out. What is the obsession with having to be the first to having the next shiny new gadget? It’s just a damn game machine people! You can live quite nicely without one. Who the hell would camp out in front of a Best Buy store for a week to get an over-priced-(at least for the PS3) over-hyped game machine? Listen up people! If this thing is really any good (and that’s definitely debatable) , it will be around for a while. Sony will not build a single run of these and then shut off the tap. They will keep building them as long as their is demand. So why must you have one now instead of two months from now? I know supplies of the PS3 will be very limited because Sony came up with a hardware design that they can’t actually build, but eventually supply wil catch up with demand. Those who don’t want to camp out are paying over $2000 on ebay for a $600 toy. It’s no wonder this country is fucked up, with shit like this going on.