January 03, 2003

We're back

Yes, we're back from London. We had a wonderful time. We're mostly re-adjusted to this time zone, but not completely yet. A quick summary:

  • London in December is cold.
  • In London, restaurants called 'Pizza Express' can actually be cool. One would imagine that this is not the case in the US.
  • Tea is good.
  • Beer is amazing.
  • Food is ... less amazing.
  • In London, extended shopping hours for Christmas means that stores are open until 8 PM.
We'll have more to say (and more pictures) soon...
Posted by Mike at 11:01 AM

January 04, 2003

People who are different, part 3

Obviously, because of my job, I have to watch a lot of TV. A lot means that it's on basically all day in my office. Daytime Television really, really sucks. Most of the time, I can get away with tuning to one of the movie channels, or the SciFi channel, which at least then doesn't completely suck. But then sometimes, like yesterday, I have some bug where I have to tune to a local TV channel.

CBS, ABC, and NBC _really_ broadcast crap during the day.

Network daytime television offers a choice between soaps and talk shows. The talk shows are incredible. Yesterday, I wound up seeing part of 'Dr. Phil'. What's far, far more baffling to me then the question of 'who watches this?' is 'who goes on TV shows like this?' The show yesterday was all about married or engaged couples where one person or another had suddenly decided s/he didn't want children, to the astonishment and horror of the other party.

At least with radio TV, there's the hope of anonymity. But on national TV, there you are, discussing the deepest problems of your marriage. Could anything be more humiliating?

Of course, that's probably one of the more respectable talk shows you could find. Shows like Jerry Springer or Jenny Jones are a thousand times worse, yet people go on that, too. Witness the infamous Jenny Jones episode on 'secret crushes' where a guest was surprised to learn that the person who had a secret crush on him was, in fact, a man. It's the Jenny Jones show -- who did he expect, Pamela Anderson? Give me a break. These people are retarded. In that case, especially retarded, as the guest in question went on to kill the person with the crush on him -- claiming that he was, you guessed it, "publicly humiliated". Duh. That was the point, idiot.

So -- who's stupid enough to go on these shows?

Posted by Mike at 12:17 PM

January 07, 2003

"Freedom is kind of a hobby with me"

I keep finding more horror stories of people's experiences going through airport security. The "Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant Wife's Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There?" tale is kinda horrifying. Of course, it's just one side of the story, and it's hard to say exactly what happened in any given case, but, if true, it's pretty terrible.

For a more humorous, but still disturbing, tale, read Penn's (of Penn & Teller) story of airport security in Las Vegas.

Hopefully as time goes on, these things will get better... sigh.

Posted by Mike at 11:42 AM

January 08, 2003

Me and pens

I cannot carry a pen.

I know that this seems like an absurd problem. Millions of people carry pens very succesfully every day, so what's my problem?

Thus far, I've found that pens can generally be divided into two categories. The first type of pen is some kind of rigid plastic, and has a cap. The cap is good. The plastic isn't so good. Inevitably, enough torque is applied to the pen as it sits in my jeans pocket that the capsule with the ink inside the pen breaks. Pens like this have an average life expectancy of about six days with me.

The second type is metal, much more expensive (and nice), but generally doesn't have a cap. Instead it uses some mechanical means to get the tip of the pen to extrude from the barrel. I don't break these, but what does happen is that somehow, the pen opens (presses, rotates, whatever) inside my pocket, thus placing the tip of the pen in contact with my pocket -- which then draws the ink out of the pen, all over my pants and thigh. Oops.

Maybe I should just give up. Aren't we supposed to be a paperless society soon, anyway? Yeah, that's the ticket!

Posted by Mike at 01:19 AM

January 09, 2003

How NOT to protest

I recently wrote about various horror stories of airport security in the US. But the couple who protested by putting a fake bomb in their luggage at San Jose Airport really do deserve to go to jail. What absolute idiots.

Posted by Mike at 10:21 PM

January 23, 2003

PLEASE may I have a Darwin award?

You seldom see people just begging to be given a Darwin award.

But these people, who are on their way to Iraq to volunteer as 'human shields' at key sites in Iraq, seem to be doing just that. Regardless of what you think about the potential war on Iraq, this has to be one of the most insane ideas I've seen in a while.

Well, at least they'll be out of the gene pool.


Posted by Mike at 03:09 PM

January 27, 2003

Star Trek: Nemesis

Meredith and I finally saw this movie last Friday. The movie title was truncated by Paramount for space considerations after they discovered that the original title, "Star Trek: The Return of The Wrath of The Phantom Praetor Nemesis who Strikes Back" wouldn't fit on the advertising posters.

My basic review: I have never before seen a movie that just made me want to giggle the entire time. Really. Meredith found a web site that commented that the old theory about even-numbered Trek movies being good obviously is superceded by this rule: every 5th Trek movie is unbelievably horrible.

The rest of my review contains lots of spoilers, so if you don't want to know, don't keep reading...

Some of my favorite scenes from the movie include:

- When visiting a pre-industrial planet to investigate some weird sensor readings, rather than beam down with native clothing to blend in, the Enterprise sent a shuttle down with Picard, Data, and Worf. Subtle. Then, just in case the natives mistook the Klingon for someone with a really bad skin disease, they roamed around on a souped-up Humvee, complete with phaser gatling gun. That whole Prime Directive thing was really just a nuisance, anyway. Good idea tossing that out.

- Picard and Data driving through the Romulan Trade Federation ship on one of the Trade Federation tanks.

- The two Romulan fleet commanders, on deciding that the Praetor really deserves to be sent back into slavery, show up to help the Enterprise with all of the ships at their command. Both of them. The Romulan fleet is that small? The Federation should have invaded years ago and wiped these idiots out.

- The Romulan boarding party. The first time the Praetor wanted Picard, he just beamed him off the Enterprise. The second time, he sent a boarding party over. To deck 21, so that the Enterprise crew would have lots of time to intercept them before they got to the bridge. Good tactical decision.

- Riker kicking Darth Maul down the reactor shaft. Or was that the Emperor? No, it was Darth Maul, because Maul is the quiet side kick to the real Evil.

- Troi reaching out with the Force to find the hidden vessel. For some reason, they cut out the image of Han Solo looking skeptical in the background.

- The Death-Star super-weapon, complete with the improbably long firing sequence. (Use The Force, Data!) What kind of super-weapon takes seven minutes to fire? One that our heroes need time to stop, obviously. When I design a super-weapon that can destroy all life on a planet, that thing is by God going to fire the instant I press the button.

- After the Enterprise rams the Romulan ship, they just sit around and look satisfied with themselves. Then they realize that they really should try to stop the other ship from unleashing the aforementioned super-weapon, so they send Picard over by himself. Has the Federation never heard of boarding parties? Some have argued that since the Romulan ship had 70% shields at the time, the Enterprise should have just bounced off. These people are obviously missing the fact that the Death Star Romulan ship had ray shielding only, and a carefully aimed torpedo Galaxy-class Starship could get through. Use the Force, Jean-Luc!

- Picard's clone pulling himself closer so he could say "For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee." Or it was something like that.

Parts that they must have cut in editing:

- Someone playing 'Amazing Grace' on bagpipes.

- "The ship -- out of danger?"

And let's not forget the powerful moral lesson that this movie leaves us with: the poor, downtrodden slaves are too evil to be let loose, so, really, they deserve to be slaves. Back to the mines with you, wretches!!

In the end, it looks like peace may actually break out between the Romulan Empire and the Federation, thanks to their common interest in supressing the slave rebellion. Whew.

This movie is terrible. It is not quite so terrible as Star Trek V: The Search for God (what was that called, anyway?), but it's close. They ripped off everything. If you've seen the other Trek movies and the Star Wars movies, you've seen this one.

Posted by Mike at 11:59 AM | Comments (1)

Frodo Failed

Probably everyone has seen this already, but in case you haven't ...

Posted by Mike at 07:51 PM | Comments (1)

January 31, 2003

Two years

It's been two years today since I left Apple Computer.

It's hard to believe it's been that long. After five and a half years working there full time (plus five years before that working summers and part-time), I left with no plan about what I would do next. I took three months off, then wound up at Microsoft.

I had a good time at Apple, but it was definitely the right decision for me to leave when I did.

Posted by Mike at 11:31 PM | Comments (1)