Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bah Humbug - US Men vs. Guatemala

We've been treated to several World Cup Qualifiers this week, through the magic of Fox Soccer Channel and TiVo. I didn't write about the Sunday game vs. Mexico (on ESPN) because, well, it got my blood pressure up too high.

Last night (on ESPN2) wasn't much better, even though they won. Sunday's game had me asking myself what would happen if they didn't qualify for the World Cup. Last night's game told me that even if they did, they still wouldn't get very far. Unless their finishing and their defense really picks up between now and then. A distinct possibility, of course, but I'm not holding my breath (pessimist!).

Can't tell you how many times an American missed a fantastic chance at net and SigO turned to me saying, "Rooney would have buried that."

After having watched the EPL for the past few years, it's hard to see the US men's squad as anything but pretenders. Sigh. So they get the quaint, non-profane expletive that I use whenever something annoys me or is generally too silly for further comment: Bah Humbug.

That or "wet popcorn", referring to the ages-past era when my friends and I used to dip our popcorn in our Kool Aid and throw it at the TV whenever Boss Hogg appeared on the screen during our Friday night sleepovers. (That'll put me on the chronological map for ya, won't it?)

TiVo Getting Some Brains

Another aspect of the TiVo service they're rolling out to placate the advertisers is a pop-up that will apparently appear as you fast forward through ads.

I'm sure this is going to be annoying as heck to have to deal with, but I'd rather have TiVo as a company getting another revenue stream/keeping the larger advertisers off its back than as a company with impervious integrity and going out of business.

It's another step along the path that they initiated when they put two guys (Chuck Fruit & Joe Uva) who are prominent in the ad industry on their board: "Please don't hurt us, mega-corporations! We can play nice!"

I want my TiVo around!

If only because I turned the sound effects back on while SigO was out of town so the TiVo could keep me company... I especially like the tympani "error" sound.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

How do I add this to my Amazon Wishlist?

I just have four words for you:

PC EZ-Bake Oven.

Mmm.... source: ThinkGeek

I never got to have one as a kid, why shouldn't I get one now?

Van Google

Source: Google

I had to convert it to JPEG in order to use Hello and get it in here. As a result it's not fantastic-looking here -- but Mr. Van Gogh gets his own Google tribute today for his birfday.

This is based on one of my favorite paintings, of which a poster resided on a wall in many an apartment of mine for many years. Sig O can vouch.

Censorship on Blogger?

Interesting. Turns out that yesterday there was a major problem with Blogger, and in my frustration I turned to posting via email. One of those emails went through and is on the site, no problem.

The other, sent to the exact same email address, was bounced. Here it is in its entirety:

Blogger is Down... I repeat... Blogger is Down.

The perils of not hosting your own, I guess.

I'm trying to add more entries today, I swear. We'll see if I can do it via this email conduit.

Surely there must be some explanation besides the conclusion I'm leaping to? I'm thinking they just don't like proof that "a bad kernel upgrade that has significantly impacted the service" has ticked someone off.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

No Tsunami, Thank God.

When I heard that there had been another earthquake in the same region in Indonesia yesterday, I was really worried that there would be a repeat of the December disaster.

In January I donated to tsunami relief in the name of Carol Shellhorn, who I worked with for a brief time last year in September and October.

She was vacationing in Thailand with her husband when the wave hit. He made it, she didn't. Here in the office we still have her postcard from her journey through Africa, which she completed before catching up with her husband for Christmas. I still think about her a lot.

The kicker is, I wouldn't have the job that I have now if she were still alive -- they wanted to bring her back as a consultant but had to settle for me.

Please continue to donate to the ongoing relief effort, particularly in light of the recent temblor.

Poor Basil Rathbone.

Sure, he also became known for playing a definitive Sherlock Holmes, but judging by most of the movies I've seen him in (see list at right), he was mostly known for playing a cad.

Anna Karenina: he is Karenin, the cold husband.
David Copperfield: he is Murdstone, the cold stepfather.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: he is Sir Guy, the bad guy who dies in the climactic sword fight with Errol Flynn.
Captain Blood: he is LeVasseur, the pirate who dies in a sword fight with Errol Flynn.

I haven't seen the movie or read the book, but I'm sure that his role in A Tale of Two Cities is also unsavory. According to the Internet Movie Database, he played the bad guy so often that he only won one sword fight during his entire 40+ year film career.

He does have that pursed lip thing down, though. And looks so nasty with a Vandyke beard.

Review: Hyperion

I don't know how I got interested in reading this book, perhaps because I'd been sucked in by the conceit of Ilium, also by Dan Simmons. That book sets the Trojan War on Mars with the gods as some kind of intergalactic beings... but you should check that out for yourself. Because it's a Hugo Award winner, Hyperion seemed like it might be a good read, too. It already had someone else's stamp of approval on it -- we all know that there is plenty of sci-fi dreck out there.

Hyperion has an interesting story structure, using The Canterbury Tales approach of having a group of characters on a journey, each of whom tells the story of what brought them on the journey, using their own words. The most fascinating aspect of the book is of course the Shrike, a mysterious figure who is worshipped as a god by some but mostly feared by all because it is bloodthirsty, made of metal and seems to be able to manipulate time and space in its home range on Hyperion. But I can't even begin to do it justice.

Like most sci-fi novels it takes some time to get used to the jargon that the author has created to describe the technologies available in this future universe, things like "fatline" and "farcasting" and other terms that aren't really explained fully, other than in context. I was really drawn in by the story structure, drawn in enough to continue directly on to the sequel The Fall of Hyperion, particularly since none of the story threads are resolved in the first book after 400+ pages (in paperback form).

Definite recommendation for sci-fi fans who like their stories a little bit dense, surprising and a whole lot interesting.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Baseball Widow - 5 Days Only...For Now.

Took SigO to the airport this morning for his now-annual pilgrimage to Arizona for Spring Training with the boyz. He won't be getting the blazing desert heat of years past because of the freaky non-spring weather we've been having, but I'm sure he'll still find a way to enjoy himself.

Meanwhile I'll enjoy a nice quiet weekend at home. Hoping to finish a few books, catch up on some Netflix and TiVo movies... and whatever I feel like for the next five days. Including a nice quiet Easter brunch for myself.

At least it means I get to finish the Easter candy without any competition.

Review: The Pleasure of My Company

This is a novella so it read pretty quickly. It had some interesting bits, particularly its portrayal of the narrator's struggle with what appears to be obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, the length of it leaves one asking questions and looking for more information on some of the characters.

But maybe I'm just the typical American that has to have everything explained to me. Don't know that I can recommend it to anyone but fans of Steve Martin's writing. It was really hard not to picture him as the protagonist the whole time, too. Check out (of the library) if you feel blazing through a book quickly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

TiVo & Comcast Sitting in a Tree...

I'm excited to see a deal like this come across the wire. It's a step in the right direction for the company behind my beloved DVR and might help to save them. SigO and I went through a TiVo-less period last summer when our first machine melted, and there is no going back, I tell ya!

It also makes me happy because back in B-school I did an analysis of TiVo and what it would need to do in order to survive as behemoths like Comcast developed their own competing technology, and this type of licensing was one of my primary suggestions. The TiVo technology runs circles around the other offerings, particularly in the user interface department. Current digital cable program listings just plain stink.

Hopefully this will mean that Engadget can discontinue their TiVo Deathwatch sometime soon!

UPDATE: This interview with the CEO of Comcast kind of supports what I'm saying... we'll see how it actually pans out. Apparently there are some TiVo purists who are freaking out.

Feedster & BlogStreet!

Trying to get this thing out there, more for curiosity than anything else.

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

I'm also on Blogdex, Technorati & a couple others. Hooray for me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Review: The Winter Queen

Since there was nothing on TV last night and I didn't feel like watching a movie on TiVo, I took the evening to finish The Winter Queen by Boris Akunin. I am a big fan of a good mystery -- I like trying to figure them out -- and had read about the most recent installment of this series in Entertainment Weekly. Of course I had to start at the beginning.

Set in the 1870s in Russia, it has some interesting details about the way they lived then and some contrasts between Russia and Europe. Although I had it figured out fairly quickly, it was still engaging enough to finish reading. If you're looking for something light to get you through a plane ride, this could be your book.

Another interesting aspect was the fact that the book was originally written in Russian and translated. It makes one wonder what might nuances might have been lost.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

I just finished this book last night. Set in the early 1800s in England during the Napoleonic Wars, its literary style echoes that of the period. It proposes an alternate history where English magic is an actual fact and is used to assist Lord Wellington in defeating Napoleon. There is much more to the story than that, as well there should be in a book that runs on to 782 pages or thereabouts.

That is my primary complaint, that the length is excessive. I did make myself read it all the way through because it is rare that I do not finish a book, and I did want to see how this one ended. It features a dry sense of humor and a sense of secrecy that draws one in, but as one knows all the way through the solution to the mystery that one of the characters is trying to solve, it tends to drag on.

Another intriguing stylistic feature is the use of footnotes to tell most of the fairy tale "history" rather than integrating it into the narrative. I can recommend it to those who have patience in reading and are interested in a new approach to the fantasy and magic genres. It has a dark, understated way of telling the story that does not evoke visions of Harry Potter and the like and is definitely adult.

Format Fixed. For Now.

Well, I bit the bullet and just reapplied the original template format to the blog because that IE display thing was really bugging me. I cut and pasted the HTML into Notepad in order to preserve all the content I had added to the sidebar, then just changed the template to the same one. I was able to cut and paste all of the customizations I'd done back into the new template.

Whatever I did to make the IE unhappy, it seems to be undone, for now. I do not have faith that the changes will be permanent, sometimes things just go goofy on me.

UPDATE: Figured out that it was my lame attempts to add Google Site Search that were messing up the works. It wasn't working anyway so I've left it out.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Sure. And I'm Mats Sundin.

Classic knee-jerk paranoia that typifies the current international climate. Apparently the whole blog thing has not been as ubiquitous in the Great White North as it seems to have been down here.

I can't really imagine how you would explain one of these to someone who'd never been on the Internet.

(It was really painful even including a hockey reference in this post at all, I'm so mad at those guys. All of 'em. But that's another post.)

UPDATE: The blogger himself wraps up his experience here. Apparently the title of my post is off because it was US Customs that stopped him -- doubt that the officer would even know who Mats Sundin is. Or apparently how to get his head out of his butt.

Amazin' Amazon

I am a sucker for Amazon. I have been using them for many years now, and they are also the bane of my existence because I already have too many books as it is (just ask SigO).

Then they come along with this Amazon Prime dealybob and make it even harder to resist. You had me at "Yes, we have a dazzling array of wares that you no longer have to drive all over the known universe to find in real stores."

It has already come in handy because weird shipping vagaries resulted in two separate shipments to the birthday boy this week, and I didn't have to pay for either of 'em. All in all, it really seems like a better deal for Amazon than it does for me. I'm incented to buy from them rather than their competitors, and I will most likely end up spending more with them in the long run.


Cool Kid Fight Club

Apparently Google and Apple are duking it out with each other to figure out who's got the coolest stuff. Can't there be two of the Fonz? Or does someone always have to be Chachi?

Personally I think both of them, while admirable in their efforts to further technology, are waaayyyy too proprietary and snooty about their stuff. I can say that as the owner of an iPod Mini (1st generation blue) and the holder of a Gmail account -- I get an inkling of the shortcomings of both.

Throw in the fact that Apple is moving to the rough equivalent of "Intel Inside" for iPod accessories, and the cranky kids just get wackier. But I do loooove my Mini. Most of the time. Except when the battery dies unexpectedly.

Episode III - Questions Answered?

So is this what Darth Vader really looks like?

Photo source: Yahoo! News

All I'm screamin' is, regardless of the fact that Episode I and II were not what I'd hoped for, I know I will be seeing Episode III. Not saying I'm waiting in line fer days, but I will be there.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Let The Games Begin!

Ah, 'tis the season for the March Madness. I don't follow college basketball ordinarily -- 'cept the ACC when I can get the games -- but since I subscribe to Sports Illustrated I seem to read about it quite a bit anyway.

It has become a tradition for someone in our family to start a brackets competition on, and it has also become a tradition for me to come in last. Fortunately there is no money involved, and who really needs braggin' rights?

I've got Arizona winning it all, but I don't call my picks "Dart Board" for nothing. So far (4 PM PT), 'Bama, Penn, Pitt and UTEP have let me down. And it's only the beginning!

UPDATE: As of March 21st, I am dead last in the family bracket competition. Maybe I should just admire my consistent ability to bring up the rear?

Haute Couture Envy

I am not a hoity-toity fashionista intent on having the latest thing. But I cannot help loving this Christian Dior bag... I'm admiring a purse! I'm finally turning into a real girl!

And I even bought a lovely embroidered spring coat.

Oooo. Nice.

Photo source: I Am Fashion

Four Year Old Boy Saves Mom's Life by Calling 911

Driving in to work this morning, I heard this story on my local news station, KCBS. It brought tears to my eyes because the 911 tape they played sounded just like my 2-year-old nephew, LilBud. He lives on the East Coast, and I miss him like the dickens.

That's right, I said "the dickens."

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St.Ptratick├é´s Day 2005
St.Ptratick├é´s Day 2005,
originally uploaded by juanjaen.
Seeing as how I'm married to an American of Irish extraction and share some of the famous Irish coloring, I'm truly fond of the wearing o' the green.

Add in the fact that it's my younger brother's birthday, and it's a great day!

Browser Wars IV -- This Time, It's Personal

Yeah, so I'm working on this blog faithfully, then I manage to check it out in something other than Firefox for Windows. !Eeek!

So disclaimer: I am not an HTML jockey. Any problems you may be experiencing with weird formatting and disappearing backgrounds are beyond my control because my knowledge of HTML begins and ends with a book I read in 1998. However, if you have any suggestions on how I can fix them for IE users, please email me.

UPDATE: It appears the issue may be incomplete support of CSS in IE, which is an ongoing issue. Don't think there's much I can do about it so we'll all just have to deal. Unless someone swoops in to the rescue. >hint<

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Incredibles DVD

Picked up this gem yesterday, mostly in order to watch "Jack-Jack
Attack" (see sidebar for more info). Very cute, hearkens back to
Saturday morning cartoons in length. It explains a lot of what was
freaking Kari out in her numerous messages to Mrs. Parr in the movie.

The special features on the DVD were fantastic as well, with many
in-depth interviews, including descriptions of how they built the
software they used to create these wonderful characters. For example, when they started out, Violet's long hair was "theoretically impossible." Somehow they pulled it off.

As SigO pointed out, however, while the directors and animators were
touting the acting of the voice talents, they were not listed on the
box or included in the features. Maintaining the illusion much?

That being said, as DVD collectors/animation fans, there was no way
that we could miss getting this one. I also highly recommend the Iron
if you haven't seen it.

FA Cup: ManU vs. Southampton

Because of the blessed TiVo, SigO and I were able to watch this FA Cup tie on the non-pay-per-view Fox Soccer Channel last night.

If only Los Rojos had been able to muster some of those four goals for the dreaded AC Milan. Sigh.

At least Kean-o scored a goal and Timmy was back in the side!


Photo source: BBC News


While creating this site, I've been having an internal debate as to how much to reveal about my identity. But because of this article by Steven Levy of Newsweek, I will tell you that I am a woman. Not quite the diversity add-on though because I am white, but at least I'm putting up a site, right?

I'm also debating how much to write about myself and how much to write about the stuff I really want to write about, which is popular culture and whatever strikes my fancy for that day. After months of sending my husband SigO odd tidbits to post on his site, I decided to create my own so I could stop bugging him.

My little pebble now aspires to make ripples in the blogosphere, just like everyone else who creates one of these.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Day One.

Didn't your mother ever tell you to beware the Ides of March?

I'm starting this as a random place to collect random thoughts. Hence the "omnivore". But I don't like absolutely everything, so I'm also "discriminating". Or pompous. Take your pick.

Coincidentally enough, while researching my chosen name in order to confirm that it was not already in use, I found this article with the same phrase. Fits my intentions almost perfectly.