Archive for June, 2008

Flashback: Shello

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

In September of 2005 Susan and I made our second hike that year in Point Mugu State Park. The first time a few months previous we explored the expansive grasslands of its La Jolla Valley, but this second time we hiked to Mugu Peak (about 1,300 feet).

About a third or so of the way up on the eastern, landward side of the mountain we passed this imprint of what had been a fossilized shell embedded in the rock from waaaaay back in the Cretaceous day when a majority of California was underwater and marine reptiles like plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs swam in what’s now the air over our heads. Unfortunately since this remnant from that time is situated directly on the hiking path it’s been subject to vandalism as people have pried off the remains of the actual shell from its resting place, leaving only fragments and its impression:

I wonder how many millions of years did it remain unspoiled until some jerkball hominid had to come along and break it trying to take it as a souvenir?

Anyway, I just happened to be scrolling through the archives when I landed on this image and it reminded me not only that humans suck but that no matter much things seem to stay the same, they don’t.

In Passing

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Last week, a big black Sport Futility Vehicle passes me at speed on 6th Street just east of Fairfax veeeery much too close for comfort. I’m talking another couple inches and trouble. So I fly the middle finger and boom a fah-cue! at its ass, but the sumbitch just guns it and goes. Five or six blocks away I see a big black SUV make a right, but it does so from in front of a similarly sized and colored SUV so by the time I get to where the turn had been executed I’m looking south at the one and east at the other and I eenie-meanie-miney-mo and choose the one straight ahead… and I chose wrong. This big black monster has all its windows down, sunroof open and the driver is puffing a stogie. The offending ride was closed up tight against the 90-degree temps. I think about doubling back to catch the bastard up at Wilshire, but it’s not worth the trouble and so I head on home. Seething.

Fast forward to a pitch dark gawd-awful-thirty the next morning and I come wide awake from the vivid nightmare I had in which I confronted the SUV’s driver and then go on to basically destroy the inconsiderate jerk’s car before destroying the inconsiderate jerk. I won’t go into the gory details except to say the dude ends up medievally messy dead — and that freaks me out. Sure it’s the subconscious and all, but still. Whoa. There’s anger down in them there dark places.

Not that I’d ever commit such unspeakability outside of my dreams, but because I don’t even want to get into any ineffective verbal altercations with these dimwads anymore I’ve come up with a plan that’s going to allow me me to go proactive instead of reactive. That’s right, the next time me and my bike are encroached upon and I’m able to catch up to the encroacher. I’m a-gonna hand ’em one of these below from a short stack I’ll be carrying with me then get the hell on with my life (click for a more readable version):

Arachnicide

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

So. Sadness: my tiny doorway spider is dead. I’ve written about her far more than I’d imagined I would. I first found her in April and marveled as she produced not one but two egg sacs. Subscribing to the Charlotte’s Web mythology, after her first brood hatched and dispersed I figured she wasn’t long for living. But then she proved that one shouldn’t believe what one reads by producing a second egg sac that hatched on June 11. Just when I thought she was done for a few ways ago I stood in awe as she consumed a big bug that had become ensnared in her web. For all I knew she was protein loading for her next batch of spiderlings.

Then I found her dead this morning. But not just dead — killed. Unless someone can show me that passing arachnids can manage to encase themselves in their own silky threads, then she tangled with an intruder and the ended up entombed in its webbing:

I fancy myself tougher than some, but my heartbreak at her death — something I knew was inevitable — was compounded by her life being so tragically cut short. And after I removed her from her unbecoming suspension and laid her to rest I angrily searched the vicinity for any likely eight-legged suspects.

I found none, but I did find some solace in discovering one of her babies, barely more than a pencil point in size had spun a little web about a foot or so from where its mama had brought her into the world:

Be careful little one. There are dangers about. And while it will be sad these coming days to pass through the front door without seeing your mother, I hope you’ll be able to hang around awhile.

Gadget Inspector: You Want How Much?

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

Second of a series of posts about Nokia’s N95 8GB mobile device, which
they’re letting me play with in exchange for being opinionated about.

OK, so this morning one of our cats — Jiggy if you must know — was rolling around on the floor by my desk chair and so I engaged the N95 8GB’s video camera and grabbed some really grainy and dimly lighted footage, which I won’t be sharing because it’s the epitomy of home movie lameness meaning any entertainment value is restricted to that of the person taking the video.

But the point I want to make is not that the device has easy-to-access video capability, but that after I captured the clip, I was then presented with options as to what I wanted to do with it, such as transfer it via Bluetooth to a connected device or post it online. I opted for the Bluetooth function since I’d already bridged that divide between the phone and my home computer and in a couple of button pushes it was smoothly being sent to a storage shed on my desktop Mac.

If you’re rolling your eyes because Bluetooth connectivity is soooooooo five minutes ago, please understand that the bite radius of my Moto Razr V2’s Bluetoothiness is restricted to a sometimes reeeeeeally weak connection between the phone and its companion (sold separately) HS820 headset. So to finally experience the awesome power of the now-standard functionality is very cool.

What is NOT very cool is the N95 8GB’s price. The lowest I found this morning was $559, and I won’t even mention the highest — yes I will: $WTF — I mean: $722. Seven hundred and twenty-two dollars! Gah!

It’s my understanding the new entry level iPhone coming July 11 (which probably means September 24th for me once all the geekglee dies down and supply can accommodate demand) is $199, and the beefier version might be what, $299… $399? Even at that far more reasonable price point I’m gulping, and ain’t nothing gonna get me to climb into the $400 or higher elevations.

And yeah, I already now it’s gonna cost me around $70 to AT&T each month for the privilege of having one of Steve Jobs’ newest and finest… but for the past two years I’ve been paying $50 per to have one of Moto’s oldest and lamest with Verizon so an extra $20 ain’t no deal breaker.

Gadget Inspector: Hi N95 8GB! How Are Ya?

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

First of a series of posts about Nokia’s N95 8GB mobile device, which
they’re letting me play with in exchange for being opinionated about.

About a week ago I get an email out of the blue from a nice marketing rep at Nokia asking me if I want a three-week long playdate with their N95 8GB mobile device. Given my lack of hits/uniques on this blog I honestly have no idea why I’m being given such an opportunity but that didn’t stop me from writing him back telling the marketing rep that his timing couldn’t have been better because my two-year prison term with Verizon Wireless was ending this summer and while I figured it was high time to get me some iPhone (or maybe Blackberry) action I wasn’t averse to trying out equipment that alleges to be in that same league. What’s the next step? I asked.

He writes me back telling me the next step is completing and returning the user agreement he’s attached, which basically says treat the phone as if you own it, use it like a madman, blog/tweet/flickr the crap out of how you feel about the thing and what you do with it, and send it back in the postage-paid package when your time’s up.

So I complete the user agreement, email it back and without further communication or instruction, blam! a package arrives at the office Friday morning and it’s my temporarily very own Nokia N95 8GB. Whoa!

Right out of the box I love that the thing is hardly bigger than my Canon SD1000 camera. I also love the built-in five-megapixel camera equipped with a Zeiss lens. Very top shelf. But also right out of the box I’m bummed because the thing lacks a full QWERTY keypad. One of the reasons I’ve not leapt large into the mobile web, text-messaging mobile-blogging pool is because I can’t stand having to conjure text on a standard phone keypad. Some people can adapt to that format and text like blazes. Me I text like molasses, hating it when I have to press the 3 key three times for an “F” or the 9 key four times for a “Z.” Not that I text a whole lotta Zs, but still, it’s a big letdown that this new slider-style phone doesn’t reveal anything but the same old thing.

(more…)

Stardust Memories

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

Just a quick paragraph or two about the movie Stardust, which Susan and I watched last night and which despite being a top-shelf big-budgeted production delivered such a disappointing blip on the domestic box office radar during its theatrical release last summer  (regardless of a relatively positive critical reception) as to leave forgettable me thinking when it arrived in the mail from Netflix last week that it was a different movie entirely (specifically: Across the Universe). It even took me a couple minutes in from the beginning to realize it wasn’t.

And I loved it. L O V E D it! Visually stunning, beautifully performed, delightfully fantastical and wonderfully paced, discovering Stardust is something of a bittersweet triumph in seeing how fantastic it was while also knowing how much it was ignored by U.S. moviegoers.

So next time you’re in the video store or adding films to your Netflix list, think about giving Stardust a try. It’s magically delicious!

Morning Snap: Not Just Any ‘Mater

Friday, June 20th, 2008

I didn’t get a picture of the first ripened tomato our backyard garden produced to perfection a couple days ago, but on the kitchen window sill last night I found our second that Susan had harvested that afternoon and so snapped it this a.m.:

It’s about the size of a golf ball and a half. Many more to come, which rhymes with yum!