November 30, 2005

It's been ages since I bought new music. Oddly, I have several iTunes song credits VW grifted me months ago. The catch is that they can only be used for singles. Everything I'm interested in is from artists I already collect, meaning I need the entire album. So anyone out there want to suggest your favorite singles of the moment?

06:09 PM | Comment (1)

November 29, 2005

Almost as good as drugs.

Yes, a pal who also happens to be an optometrist pointed out the game.

07:30 PM | Comment (1)

I've been ignoring the newish Diana Krall album. Even though I adore her and am rabid for everything I've heard when she collaborates with Anthony Wilson, John Clayton and Jeff Hamilton. No, my problem is right there in the title. Christmas Songs. I guess I worked too many seasons in retail back during school because I loathe holiday songs. So fake and peppy and filled with references to snow and sleighs. Hello, we're in California. The flowers are blooming and the grass is just starting to turn green again. So I don't know. The samples on iTunes sound great. (Technical aside: why do the Real and WMP samples off her site sound so horrendous?) But can I get over my Christmas ickies? Should I?

07:19 PM | Comment (2)

November 28, 2005

Where did the week go? Personally it was a whirlwind of activities and doings. Some holiday related, others just pure fun.

To start, Stephen and I saw Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Monday night on the Imax screen. I liked. But then I come from a definite fan of the books point of view as opposed to the self-important gravitas of your average flack. Anyway, it's basically a roller-coaster of fun and excitement. Seems more cohesive than the other films though I also re-read book 4 in anticipation. Apple has the high def trailers btw. Total aside but I'd be careful about downloading the two bigger formats. I see only the subtlest of differences between the 480P and 720P versions of Trailer 2 on my 23" Cinema Display. I'm guessing you'd need a 30" or bigger display to make the additional 65MB download worthwhile.

The annual San Francisco Auto Show with Stephen (again!) and Marc was up for the next night. Now don't misunderstand what I'm about to say. I like the SF show and go every year but no one can pretend it ranks among the elite shows in Detroit, Frankfurt or Tokyo. Concepts are almost an afterthought, often stuck in a corner or otherwise overlooked and there are no introductions. Instead, it seduces with seriously uncrowded displays, the opportunity to get close to even the most exotic machines and actually sit in almost every production model. Yeah, the spectacle of a Detroit is worth the journey there, even in January. But for a car junkie like me, getting to sit in and poke all the current models without annoying salesguys is just about ideal.

Shari arrived Wednesday and helped me prep for the Thanksgiving extravaganza. This year was kind of noteworthy because I produced a traditional meal for the first time. For seven no less. And if I do say so myself, it came off without a hitch. Meaning it got to the table on time and no one tossed their cookies after. Whee!

We headed to Corteo the newest Cirque traveling spectacle on Friday night. I'm not going to attempt a real review here except to say that the higher-than-ever ticket prices initially put me off. Rich, however, wanted to go so we ponied up for our usual Tapis Rouge tickets. Suffice to say, it was worth every penny as always. We hadn't even gotten out of the parking lot after the performance and I was ready to see it again.

The rest of the weekend is kind of lost in a kind of tryptophan-driven blur. Maybe I'll remember some of it in a day or two.

10:59 PM | Comment (1)

November 21, 2005

You might have noticed that the ubiquitous Ads by Google box has sprouted in the left column. Just an experiment at this point. I'm not sure I've got the traffic to make it worthwhile. I also might be playing around with the placement and composition over the next few days. Anyone else out there tried implementing it?

02:28 PM | Comment (1)

Is there a senior manager at SBC who knows what he/she is doing? From the ongoing name change game, you'd have to say no. Just as we all kind of sort of replaced the Pacific Bell name with the dumb generic SBC, they go and switch again to AT&T. Okay fine.

Now to make matters worse, the Cingular wireless division which just finished absorbing AT&T Wireless and discarding that name will be changing again to, yes you guessed it, AT&T.

Even more confusing, they plan to use lower case—at&t—in marketing materials but the official corporate name will be AT&T Inc. If you still doubt the brain trust at work here, consider the factoid that the chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre made the final choice himself. At the news conference announcing said change he actually said that the marketing people "tell me it's more trendy and modern."

Uh, Ed, if marketing people have to tell you how to evaluate a design, why the hell are you making a decision about it? Leave that to trained professionals, okay.

10:29 AM | Comment (0)

Staying on the Bush-bashing theme for more entry because he makes it so easy. There's delightful video of W trying to duck out of a Beijing news conference only to be foiled by locked doors. Can't wait to see what Letterman and The Daily Show do with this one.

09:28 AM | Comment (0)

November 18, 2005

You know, I never thought I'd agree with Dick the veep. (I love the way that's so close to Dick the creep.) But the man's got a point when he says that the suggestions W "misled the American people on pre-war intelligence is one of the most dishonest and reprehensible charges ever aired in this city." I mean mislead is soft. It implies that they told some fibs or white lies. You, I and Stevie Wonder can all see that what happened isn't a bit of deception but outright lies.

The administration blatantly and maliciously fabricated the case for war in Iraq. Over and over again. Repeatedly in a coordinated and calculated manor. As a result, tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands died needlessly and the image of this country has been savaged around the world. We went from having to respect and sympathy of the world community in the weeks and months following September, 2001, to being the subject of near universal hated and scorn.

There's little doubt in my mind that the acts of the administration were criminal. And those crimes were conceived by and directed from the very top. Given the way the administration's actions in Iraq have destroyed our country's standing in the world community, you might even argue that the acts could be interpreted as treasonous.

If that's not grounds for impeachment, I don't know what is.

10:05 PM | Comment (2)

November 15, 2005

So I started up a Flickr account back in oh February and for some reason I finally got it in my head to start posting photos there today. Never let it be said that I act rashly.

For now, I'm just using it as a repository for the picts from the Treo. You can see the most recent ones over there on the left. Maybe I'll figure out how to upload images from the big camera and iPhoto tomorrow.

Or at least by May.

11:51 PM | Comment (1)

November 14, 2005

So I'm getting my hair chopped on Saturday at my usual barbershop on Castro when one of the new cutters walks by and remarks how much he loves my hair color. Moments like these, and they're all to common, cause me no end of minor anxiety. I know the expected response is some sort of thank you or other politeness but it feels so self conscious. How can I be expected to take credit for such a physical trait? I mean it would be one thing if it were something I actually influenced. Hair style or size of biceps. But natural hair color falls into the luck of fate and genes. How come no one ever says oh I love the size of your feet or I've tried for ages to get my earlobes into the same shape as yours?

09:39 AM | Comment (1)

November 13, 2005

Is every music exec a complete moron? Or does it just seem that way when they open their mouths in front of the press? Today's Times carries news that industry braintrust has labeled it's own customers as enemy no. 1. Do these dim-bulbs understand the implication of alienation? Don't they see what happens when you piss off the very people responsible for your income? How can they be sure that this so-called casual piracy equals lost sales? I'll admit that I've gotten some songs this way. But the fast majority of them I wouldn't have bought anyway. I see it as an updated form of taping off the radio. If I want a particular song or album, it's typically easier to just buy the thing, whether from a physical store or website. Not to mention I prefer having a CD with artwork and other packaging for acts I actually care about and follow. Maybe the labels should be looking at Apple's example (again) and start coming up with innovations that motivate customers to buy more CDs. Some of the extras Apple has started including in iTunes have prompted me to buy full albums rather than just cherry picking songs. It shouldn't be difficult for a label do to the same sort of things with CDs. Of course, it's not as easy as just pointing your finger and blaming someone else for your problems.

11:09 PM | Comment (0)

Is it really a weekend without at least one trip to Target?

10:00 PM | Comment (0)

November 09, 2005

Because you just can't get enough of the music memes, here's another fun one. Found this time on (a highly amusing read in and of itself btw).

Take your iPod (or other significantly less cool mp3 player thingy), shuffle the songs and record the first 15 to issue forth from the earbuds. The more embarrassing selections the better.

Alternately you can also use the cheat—put iTunes into Party Shuffle mode, set your source as Library, leave play higher rated songs more often off and have it show 15 upcoming songs. The advantage of this method is that you can turn off all the columns except artist and copy/paste the selections rather than tediously transcribing them.

So without further ado, here are mine:

1. Devil May Care—Diana Krall
2. I'm Your No. 1 Fan—The Beautiful South
3. Them There Eyes—Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie
4. The Headmaster Ritual—The Smiths
5. Somethin' Else—Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
6. Soon Love Soon—Vienna Teng
7. The Dark Night Of The Soul—The Get Up Kids
8. Dream A Little Dream Of Me—Ella Fitzgerald & Count Basie
9. You Call It Madness—Diana Krall
10. Mood Indigo—Ella Fitzgerald
11. It Will Have To Do (Until The Real Thing Comes Along)—Carmen McRae
12. Baby Let's Rock!—Zwan
13. Get Me—Everything But The Girl
14. A Ship Without A Sail—Ella Fitzgerald
15. Trav'lin' Light—Billie Holiday
16. Party Out Of Bounds—The B-52's

03:41 PM | Comment (1)

Should have posted this ages ago for Marc. The European, North American and Japanese market versions of the new Civic compared. (Yes, it's in Spanish but if I can figure it out, you should have no problem with it.) My observations: 1) As usual, the Euros win the aesthetic battle. 2) The headlights on the Japanese version strike me as rather VW-esque. 3) I still hate the instrument panel designs in all three versions.

03:05 PM | Comment (1)

November 08, 2005

What's your poison, coffee or cola? Looks like it should be coffee if you're concerned about high blood pressure. Why am I not surprised? Grande without room, please.

11:52 PM | Comment (1)

Almost missed this one. The WSJ reported on Friday that the Google boys apparently bought a 767 to round out their personal transportation fleet that's solidly anchored with Priuses. What? Just because they've got $20 billion they're suddenly too good for Economy Plus?

09:45 PM | Comment (0)

The Gap's Holiday Favorites catalog came in this evening's post. Thirty six pages, 104 items (they're numbered), all brightly colored and stripped. And not one of them holding any appeal whatsoever. Is it any wonder the chain's sales remain in the dumper? I mean I hate to pile on but until they can put out something new, interesting or at least classic it's stay away from the stock time.

Update: I just saw that none of the Gap sites work with Safari. Add this to the email incompetence (over a few months, all three brands took to ignoring my preference for the types of products I wanted to hear about so I unsubscribed) and it's like they're intentionally trying to alienate customers like me. Especially puzzling given that upwards of 75% of my wardrobe came from Old Navy, Gap or Banana. Kind of like Pat Robertson forsaking Christmas and fasting for Ramadan.

06:47 PM | Comment (2)

November 06, 2005

So I got this odd email notice about a Netflix lawsuit settlement last week. Maybe you share my surprise that Netflix could be so nefarious. Imagine having the gall to claim unlimited rentals and one day delivery. I was incensed, feeling terribly wronged and ready for my settlement. But wait. One month of 4 DVDs per month. That's all? That seems like a lot of legal mumbo jumbo for very little payback. Curious I took a look at the long form. Ah, there it is. The original plaintiff, Frank Chavez, gets $2,000 but it's his scumbag lawyers who really hit paydirt to the tune of $2,528,000. Nice trick Adam Gutride and Seth Safier, you jackasses.

This isn't the first class action settlement notice I've gotten but over the past couple of years, they seem to be getting more common. Maybe it's because I buy Apple products that have become favorite targets for the legal leeches that are perpetuating this absurdity.

Let me make something clear though. I don't object to all lawyers. Just those who are extorting millions from the companies I happily do business with and hiding behind people like me. I have no problem with Netflix and continue to give them the $15 or whatever the monthly fee is. Same goes for my PowerBook G3 battery, PowerBook G4 battery, iPod battery and scratches on my iPod nano. In fact, I'd love to be able to stop the scum in their tracks. Or at least make my indignation known. Any legal types out there up for crafting an objection?

09:58 PM | Comment (5)

November 03, 2005

Can anyone explain to me why the RadioShark responded to the end of daylight savings time by shifting my scheduled recordings ahead an hour. So instead of recording Fresh Air at 1, it's capturing some lame news show at noon. I mean the computer changed its time without a problem. Why would this device be getting the time from anywhere other than the system clock?

11:32 PM | Comment (2)

November 02, 2005

The nytimes carries a profile of the first family in the world to pay their own money to have a hydrogen fuel cell powered car, the Honda FCX. The piece is interesting though as is so typical when the general media plunge into specialized topics a couple of key points have been left out.

For one, the writer implies that the FCX has a new look, something like a cross between a Golf and a cinder block. To me though, it looks like nothing more noteworthy than a nine year old Honda. That's because Honda used the same form it's been producing since 1997 as the EV. I'm not faulting Honda. If anything, it serves to make the point of how fuel cell vehicles can slip right into the existing automotive mainstream. Sort of.

Which leads to the extensive talk about where hydrogen filling stations are or are not, there's no mention of where those nascent stations will get hydrogen to pump. That's because when you move beyond the simplistic Bushian view of hydrogen (renewable, zero emissions, only H20 from the tailpipe!) the reality is more than a bit harsher. Sadly the two methods for producing pure hydrogen in sufficient quantities for even today's meager refueling infrastructure require either fossil fuel as the starting point and/or are wildly inefficient, electrolysis consumes more energy in the form of electricity than the resulting hydrogen yields when fed into a fuel cell.

Still the FCX stands as an extremely intriguing exercise. If for no other reason that once you strip away the hype, in this case those obnoxious stickers, it's just as boring as what we have today.

08:18 AM | Comment (0)

November 01, 2005

Dear Comedy Central, please start inserting unique descriptions each time the Daily Show appears the standard guide listing feed. Right now you've got that one generic line, "A humorous slant on top news stories" and you're driving poor Tivo into fits. Jon Stewart has morphed into a comic stud but do I really need five duplicates of each day's show?

11:43 PM | Comment (2)

I'm always on the lookout for you, my dear reader, recent evidence here (or lack of) notwithstanding. So to keep your trivial but for some reason important to you life rich and fulfilling, I've set in motion a number of exciting and some may even declare daring changes.

For starters, I'm done with corporate employment. That's right, I've dived headfirst into the world of self employment again. [insert boilerplate spiel about 9-5 drudgery vs. personal fulfillment] And like a certain S. O'Hara I vow with you as my witness that I shall never work for a regular paycheck again.

So what am I doing? Right off the bat, I'm co-writing a little magazine article. Got an ad kind of assignment going and some other stuff that I'll talk about when the time seems more apropos. In the meantime, if you know of anyone who needs a snappy bit of copy, send them my way.

I've also got some changes planned for the little page you're perusing now. It's time the old stumble domain live up to its potential. I mean I really lucked into it when the name was available all those years ago. I originally grabbed it because its brevity and simple spelling makes it dead easy to communicate my email address over even piss poor mobile connections. But now it seems natural to do write ups about things I come across on the web. Things I, uh, stumble upon. So look for more frequent and multiple posts about a variety of subjects I (and hopefully you) find interesting. I'm thinking cars and travel and gadgets and of course all things Apple will be fair game at least initially.

Who knows, maybe I'll even manage to figure out a way to monetize this bad boy.