Thursday, February 24, 2005

Jack Frost: Son of Satan

Snow fell on my area again today. We're supposed to get between three and eight inches here in western Maryland, north of DC, depending on who you listen to. When bad weather hits, you'd think we lived in Yuma, Arizona (91% sunshine annually - see record here) the way the locals deal with it.

The government should import the unemployed from the Buffalo area and set them up here to teach courses on winter weather. Classroom instruction would include discussions of supply allocation and that wearing a coat will not drastically reduce your hipness. Then the group would go outside for a practical hands-on lesson in clearing your WHOLE vehicle, (not just the front window), and using gearshifts to slow down.

When I was working my first job ever at the grocery store, I observed the most ridiculous phenomenon. Whenever there was snow or sleet or ice in the forecast, the whole town would be in the store to stock up on bread, milk, and toilet tissue. (At least they've got both ends of the process covered.) Like they're going to be stranded in their homes for a week and a half if we get four inches. But that's not the worst part. If we didn't get any snow, (or even if we did), and there was another forecast for some a couple days later, they'd all be back!! What did they do - have french toast fart parties?

The media just encourages the panic too. (That's their job in general, but that's a whole other post). TV and radio stations sensationalize the snow forecasts like it's going to paralyze the community for months and wipe out half the population. Tune in at six and eleven to get the up to the minute best guess by our certified meterologist and his InstaDoppler 25000 AccuZoom satellite technology that can detect temperature differentials with such a fine resolution, they can tell you've left the fridge open again.

I'm sure I am not the only one in the blogosphere that has that one relative who will watch six hours of the Weather Channel straight through. Anything more severe than a drizzle happens, you can forget about your regularly scheduled programming, it's Updates on the Eights until the system is over the Atlantic. I personally prefer to skip all the hype and crisis coverage and LOOK OUT THE WINDOW for myself. Maybe even walk outside!

A late afternoon report of snow showers provokes claims of "Watch out! there's BLACK ICE out there!!!" As if Lucifer himself is hosing down the pavement, and then waiting for innocent victims by the side of the road. Black ice is the most feared weather condition of all. It is spoken of in a tone usually reserved for campfire stories of the undead.

And don't let them announce any accidents on the highways. That'll prompt a call by itself to warn about the fifteen car pileup near exit 37. Of course, what I encounter when I actually get there is one cop, a tow truck, and some jerkweed sitting off in the ditch. This is the guy who still hasn't figured out that slamming on your brakes on a slushy road (which is not the ice-encrusted path of doom that was foretold) is STILL a really bad idea.

But he was never in any danger of being stranded. He was probably on his cel phone already.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

It slices, it dices, it connects at 56k baud....

I'm waiting for the collapse of "pop" technology, especially cel phones. They're just getting out of hand.

I've got to give them credit, though the people who invent and market these things are pretty savvy. They draw two crowds: the people who never stop talking, and the gadget people.

The first crowd is larger than I thought it would be. In all the public places, you always see people walking around shopping, eating, and attending events, all while talking on the phone. Maybe it's just because I'm slightly antisocial or that I'm comfortable being by my self, but WHO ARE THEY TALKING TO? Cashier lines have gotten just a little longer while the person in front fumbles for change while keeping their head cocked to one side. A lot of times you'll see a group of several people together, either a family or a group of friends, and one of them is on the phone. I say, you should've invited that person along too! I mean, I can see if you're shopping for something and you have to ask a question, but the majority of callers I see seem to be having regular conversations. What is it that couldn't wait until you got home?

And don't get me started on those who do it while driving. They sure as hell aren't controlling the car by voice command! It should become part of the licensing procedure to test whether you can maintain the speed limit and position in your lane while on the phone. If you can't, you should be banned from talking while driving. A few states already make it generally illegal, but it's not enforceable. I sometimes think it would be worth the FCC penalty to have a device that would disrupt the signal to the guy in the next lane who's doing 48 and drifting. Bzzzt!! Hang up and drive, sucker!

I wonder how much money is spent annually on cel phone bills just for this conversation:

"Hey, what are you doing?"

"Nothing, what's up?"

"Just seein' what you're up to."

"Where you at?"

"The mall."

"Okay, call me later..."


What a waste. I'll bet we could get a lot of better use out of all that money. Put the figures on the news, and the bleeding hearts would have a protest. I think there's even one wireless provider whose slogan actually is "Where you at?"

The other audience is the gadget fans. Nowadays, a wireless phone can have special ringtones, a color display with custom background graphics, internet access, photographic and video capabilities, and oh yes, unlimited call minutes as well. All those people like me who either run out of people to call, or run out of things to say after the first few hours, now have all these other wonderfully convenient (aargh) devices built into the phone that you carry everywhere. Hey, let's blind the world by giving them a screen two inches wide and tell them to compose pictures and read web pages on it! It's like the digital camera and laptop computer are too complicated, so let's make a simplistic versions that will fit in a three cubic inch space and operate with less than a dozen buttons! Nobody needs all that, the novelty's gotta wear off at some point. Just ask my PDA. (Of course, I put that down because I could put all my phone numbers on my new cel phone!) It's all got to crash at some point. People will get tired of buying laptops, PDAs, portable video cameras, and remote controls just to have them replaced by inferior versions on a telephone.

Maybe the monthly bills will get them. I can't find a phone plan for less than $40 any more. Pretty soon, they'll have financing available for qualified buyers on the latest model wireless digital color picture-taking, internet ready, car DVD remote controlling, mood sensing, stress relieving, variable speed massage wrist phones from the new monopoly corporation Cingurizint & T-MobileOne.

"For just $369 a month, add unlimited second lines so everyone you've ever met can ask you 'where you at?' for free."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Found on beach after channel surfing

Been watching way too much TV lately. A few observations, some old, some new:

BASF - "We don't make the products you buy, we make the products you buy better." So WHY do you advertise??!!!!

College football may be the purer game, but commercialism rules off the field. In my opinion, the only way a sponsor should get their company name into the name of the bowl game is if they had an active role in establishing that bowl game in the first place. If Nokia financed the development of the Sugar Bowl, then we'll call it the "Nokia Sugar Bowl". But if not, it should be the Sugar Bowl sponsored by Nokia.

Same goes for corporations putting their names on the stadiums. Are they financing the construction or maintenance of the building or just paying for the ad space? Large structures like that should still be monuments to the people that made them possible. Name the stadium after the late great founders of the franchise, or the revered coach that brought glory to the team. The company names keep changing so much that they're insignificant.

And why do they have to list the sponsors of a game, college or pro, after the commercials for those very same sponsors? It's not only annoying, it's redundant.
The Westminster Dog Show did one better. After a commercial break, they came back and showed all the logos for the sponsors in a graphic frame which had the main sponsor's logo (Pedigree dog food) in the corner the whole time. And what do you think the last one in the list was? Pedigree! The Westminster dog show sponsored by Pedigree, brought to you by Company A, Company B, and Pedigree!

The other thing about televised sports that causes forehead smacking in my living room (especially since the NFL basically became my religion in the past year or two), is when announcers use the term "nicked up" to describe an injured athlete. Players, especially in football, don't get "nicked" up, they get beat up. The only way to get nicked up is with a lousy razor in the morning. Bad shaving will never make the highlights. (I submitted this to my favorite column on ~ Tuesday Morning Quarterback, but wasn't published this time. Watch this space for more references to that column, I'm sure.)

AOL, the exploiters of computer amateurs around the globe (and now in Spanish too), says in their ads, to try their service "for a better Internet". Sorry guys, IT'S THE SAME INTERNET no matter what service you use. Yours just has more extra areas that aren't really internet at all. (Not to mention the extra poppups and junk mail.) AOL, the Wal-Mart of Internet providers.

Super Bowl ads were a little thin this year. But the best one is a series that is still running. The Wuss, Suck-up and Mama's Boy action figures. Took me three viewings to realize they're deodorant ads.

Journey of a thousand miles...

...begins with the first step.

A dear friend recommended I explore writing and suggested blogging as a starting point. So here goes.

Hmm. Ok, I guess you have to save something in order to see what it looks like.

Is it just me or does anyone else get worse at typing as time goes by? I thought dyslexia was a predominately vocal affliction. All hail King Backspace!