Thursday, April 17, 2014

"Simple" is a relative term.

Recently my everyday watch broke.  More specifically the band broke, which in my mind justified buying a new watch.  Honestly, it was a "want" more than a "need".  So I went online and found good reviews and a good price on a Casio G Shock.  


I ordered one that was inexpensive, simple, analog, without an altimeter, barometer, heart rate/cholesterol/bone density monitor, and without the ever-popular transmission diagnostic repair capability.  Simple.  Like me.

What got rave reviews was the fact that it was solar powered....no more battery replacement....and "atomic accurate" (?).  It seems there's some facility in Colorado that regularly broadcasts the exact time to the nanosecond, and this watch can pick up that signal and correct itself as needed.  

It will automatically adjust for Daylight Savings Time, short months, etc.  All I have to do is strap it on and wear it till I die.  No maintenance, ever!  Yep, that's the watch for me.

Not so fast, Goober.  First you have to choose the time zone you're in.  "Push button A, little window B will blink, then you scroll through until you find your zone.  Push C, and you're set."

Umm....little problem.  Another tiny window shows the digital time (hour, minute, day, date) for my selected zone, BUT THE HANDS SHOW THE TIME FOR A ZONE FARTHER EAST.  Lemme check that book again:

  
DOH!

The instruction "manual" is about the size of a book of stamps, but 200 pages thick.  (OK, 100 of them are in Spanish.)  And the print requires one of those little magnifiers jewelers strap to their glasses so they can see the tiny little letters.

This thing is written in a language only a super-geek could think up.  I was hopelessly lost right after it said, "Thank you for buying a Casio G Shock".  I solicited K, my in-house techie, to try and make some sense of it.  Nope....in about 2 minutes she was cursing like the sailor she once was.

Time to turn to the World Wide Web.  All I got was an explanation by the same guy (I think) that wrote the #$^& manual to begin with.  "SUP, dude?"

I set the hands to show Dallas time.  Screw it!  I'm just gonna have to accept the discrepancy between what the hands say and what the digital thingy says.  

But if you ever see me walking around the streets of Halifax, Nova Scotia and want to know what time it is, I have this little window on my watch that can tell you within a nanosecond.  Just ask.  :)

S


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kinda puts my "Most Wonderful Person That Ever Lived" title to shame

I love those little internet news fluff pieces they post that tell us of the "10 most..." this-or-that things we should (or shouldn't) be doing.  A recent favorite was "Four places you should NEVER use your ATM card".

Their advice:  Don't use your ATM card to make any online purchases, to do any retail shopping, at gas stations, or at restaurants.  


Umm....so what does that leave?  Are ATM cards only safe for use as door lock picks in case you lose your keys?

It sort of reminds me of some of those fractured Chinese instruction translations.  One of my favorites was on the box of Christmas lights that said, "WARNING!  Use only indoors or outdoors".  I would have bought a couple of boxes, but all I had on me was my ATM card, so....

Speaking of the Chinese....this guy must have the most audacious Public Relations guy EVER!....


Ha!  Top THAT Dos Equis guy!

(And all this time I thought Al Gore was the "Foremost Environmental Preservation Demolition Expert".  I stand corrected.)

Happy Hump Day  :)

S


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Me and Big Al....I didn't see THAT coming!

I've never been a big Al Franken fan.  I love Saturday Night Live, but I never much enjoyed the skits he was in when he was a SNL regular/writer.  

Then he went on to become part of the ill-fated Air America liberal radio network, which cemented him in my mind as a far-out left winger.  And anyone who knows me knows I don't like far-out ANY wingers.




Since 2009 he's been SENATOR Al Franken of Minnesnowta.

Imagine my shock when I learned that he and I agree on something.  On the Senate Judiciary Committee he's become their main anti-trust advocate.  Right now he's all hot and bothered by the proposed $45B buyout of Time Warner Cable by Comcast.  Sic 'em Big Al!

The business interests in our country have for years been obsessed with mergers.  Through their eyes it's a way to eliminate competition, become more efficient (fewer marketing departments, fewer accounting departments, etc), and MAKE MORE MONEY.  Never mind those who will lose their jobs, or the consumers who will have less choices and have to pay more.

Combined, the new Comcast would be a cable TV and internet access behemoth.  (They already own NBC and all their subsidiaries, and Universal Studios.)  For consumers in many areas a merger would leave them no choice but to sign up with Comcast.

See where this is going?  Look at the banks:  Today just six mega-banks control the majority of the US banking industry.  Outraged by all their fees, all the ways they get into your pocket, all while producing those cute little "We're looking out for you" commercials?  *gag!*

And look at the airline industry:  Delta and Northwest are now one, United and Continental are now one, Southwest and Air Tran are now one, America West and US Air are now one, and now they've merged with American to become the biggest airline in the world.  Fees for bags?  Pay extra for a Coke?  Are in-flight pay toilets next?  Good for their bottom line for sure, but not for yours!

How come when the conservatives are making a push for de-regulation (which I more often than not agree with) they tout the increased competition it will bring to the marketplace (yea!), but when their corporate campaign contributor masters want to eliminate competition via mergers, they just obediently fall into line and vote "AYE"?   

And we just let it happen, time after time.  Do we consumers get some perverse satisfaction in getting screwed?

I believe the people should control industry.  We should dictate what products and services we want, and industry should compete to give it to us.  But these days more and more industries are dictating to us what we can have, and our job is to just stand there and open our wallets.

It seems we've long forgotten the legacy of "The Great Trust Buster", Teddy Roosevelt. *sigh*

S


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Art shows and food trucks....Life Is Good!

My second favorite time of the year after Autumn (football season, cooler weather) is this too-brief anomaly known as "Spring".  It's that tiny little gap between blah winter and hotter 'n hell summer when all the artsy types bring their cool stuff out to art shows for the rest of us to admire (and hopefully buy).  


Last weekend we found a new show, this one in Deep Ellum. 



 This is a seedy area of Dallas just east of downtown that has become a magnet for all the bohemian types in town. 



Lots of bars....


 ....and tattoo parlors and little hole-in-the-wall clubs buried deep in the alleys


....and some really talented artists.


Down a six-block stretch they set up their stalls, and young and old alike showed up to admire their talents.  The people-watching was phenomenal.  Wanna know where all the old hippies went?  I found 'em.  :)

This weeks art show couldn't have been any more opposite....suffice it to say the Main Street Arts Festival in downtown Foat Wuth was classy with a capital K.


 It was a judged show, meaning only the best of the best (as chosen by judges) were invited to participate.


This was apparently judged tops in the "carved horns and old bottle caps" category.  (Hey, it's Fort Worth.  Cowboy hats and boots are still considered de rigueur.)

I must hand it to our cousins to the west....they have fixed up their downtown and made it a true fun destination with....


 Little urban oasis scattered around  


The Bass Performance Center


Impromptu "guy juggling fire while riding unicycle" venue


Quiet little sidewalk bistros


And they're apparently much more open minded than I would have thought, too, as evidenced by this topiary  commemorating....umm....mans' desire to do unnatural things to animals?


  I was even inspired to try my hand at creative photography.  *Look ma....I'm an artiste!*


The one piece of art that impressed me the most was this "kinetic sculpture" by Jeffrey Zachmann.  To truly appreciate it you have to see all the moving pieces working together.  Just click on any one of the pieces shown on his website here and you'll see for yourself how hypnotizing they can be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After all that we went back towards home, stopping in at the Frisco Food Truck Expo (or whatever they called it).


I almost went Italian, but passed because I was sorta scared of where it might be in my digestive system when it exploded.


Instead I had a coupla sliders from Easy Slider.  They were awesome!  Angus beef, grilled jalapenos and onions, barbecue sauce and....oh yeah....BACON!


Apparently the Dallas Cowboys souvenir shop on wheels sold out of Jerry Jones Voodoo dolls early as I didn't see even one patron buy anything the whole time we were there.  *snicker*

That was our weekend(s).  Hope you had a good one, too.   :)

S


Friday, April 11, 2014

Veeeeeeery interesting


This is pretty interesting:  It seems that a papayrus fragment (early writing paper) that was discovered in 2012 and has become known as "The Gospel of Jesus's Wife" is likely real and not a modern day forgery.  

Researchers at Colombia, Harvard, and MIT (and The National Enquirer?) did their fancy-pants analysis and said it was almost certainly part of an ancient manuscript that wasn't edited or tampered with.  

The papyrus, ink, etc was all genuinely ancient and not a modern reproduction.  On it is supposedly written, "Jesus said to them, 'My wife....'." and goes on to say, "She will be able to be my disciple...".

I'm sure women's groups are ecstatic, reminding everyone of the old saying, "Behind every good man is a good woman" and saying this should open the door for women to become priests.

And atheists are probably stirring the pot, too, suggesting that Jesus might have just been a guy looking for an excuse to get away from the Mrs, the in-laws, taking out the trash, etc.


I'm thinking this will eventually just go into that "unsolved" file along with the Shroud of Turin and that supposedly divine piece of toast that looked like Jesus.

I doubt it will change many minds.  Carry on.  :)

S


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lemme see....tab A goes into slot B....then fold and....


Progress report:  Here is the current status of the major addition to the already large home we built for for M/M W two years ago.  They've developed a bad case of the "while you're at it" syndrome, adding even more on the fly.  Now the home will have a combined total of over 10,000 sq ft.

They're like rich kids turned loose with daddy's credit card.  Now they've discovered the large unused space just below the roof, aka the attic, would be a good place for another media room.  Yes, I said another.  


They sent me this email attachment yesterday saying this was the look they wanted to replicate, including the LED star field in the ceiling.  My response:  "Sure.  Make the check payable to...."

It will be quite the estate, I must admit.  And today it begs my attention.  Gotta go.  Have a great day everyone.  :)

S

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Is ANYONE looking out for us?



This doesn't pass my smell test:  I just saw a piece on the news about the skyrocketing cost of generic drugs.  Remember how we used to jump at the chance to buy a quality generic drug instead of the high-priced name brands?  Those days are apparently fading fast.

Once the manufacturer's protected patent period (20 years?) expired, then the formula was open for other drug makers who could make and sell the same thing for a fraction as much.  (The protected period was meant to give the original maker the opportunity to recover their R&D costs.)  As long as you bought from a legitimate pharmacy and stayed away from the dubious mail order stuff made in Bangladesh or somewhere similar, it was a great deal for consumers. 

Now I hear that the price of generics is skyrocketing.  One pharmacist interviewed gave as an example one antibiotic that she said she has been buying for years for $40-$50 for a bottle of 500 that now costs her $2,195.  That's more than DOUBLE TRIPLE too damn much!

I have no idea what's going on, but I smell a rat.  Are there no honest businesses left who can deliver a good product / perform a good service at a FAIR price?  Is Screwing The Public the new hot major at university business schools? 

S