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In the news Wed, Mar 28, 2007
I doubt that there's a single person on this planet who isn't critical of major news outlets' extensive coverage of minuscule events.  Everyone's had enough of that blond girl who died.  Heck, most people had enough of her before she died.  But the fact that it's CNN's top story every day has me puzzled:  If I and everyone I know hates hearing about this stuff and has only bad things to say about these news networks, why are they still devoting tons of airtime to it?  I'm assuming it's the same reason media organizations devote time and money to anything:  Ratings.  And that's what scares me.  Enough people are watching this stuff to validate covering it. #entertainment

Reality TV fame (7) Fri, Mar 23, 2007
Don't even tell me you don't watch reality TV.  You're lying. 

One "good" thing about reality TV is its ability to turn normal everyday people into mega-millionaire moguls.  Aside from American Idol with its mechanical "insert singer here, out comes pop star there" system, a few other shows have produced some big celebrities.  Take, for example, the Teutuls, the owners of Orange County Choppers and stars of the show American Chopper.  These people are the most famous C-list celebrities on earth.  Besides their hit show and successful business, they make countless appearances on TV shows and sporting events, furthering their success and fully taking advantage of their incredible fame. #entertainment

Stop the movie Thu, Mar 22, 2007
When I watch movies, I watch them from beginning to end, not starting or ending in the middle, and I finish them even if I don't like them.  This has something to do with my need to finish things that I start.  Even if I decide halfway through a movie that my life could easily continue without finishing watching it, I still finish it.  Notable examples include Kingdom of Heaven, which was entirely too long and drawn out, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which had atrocious acting and painfully bad screenplay.  Very few times in my life have I ever stopped watching a movie for any reason.  But two examples stand out in my mind:  Angel Eyes and A Knight's Tale.  Based on my pattern and this unexpected break from it, I'm led to the conclusion that these two movies are the worst movies in the history of the world. #entertainment

Interaction (1) Wed, Mar 21, 2007
A frighteningly large part of my day is spent avoiding human interaction.  I take the scenic route to work to avoid traffic.  I bask in the quietness and darkness of my office in the early morning.  I don't make phone calls at work because I don't like when other people overhear what I'm saying (if they hear what I say, we're essentially interacting).  I send emails instead of making phone calls.  I eat lunch at my desk.  I walk quickly down the hall so nobody can see me from their offices.  I look down the hall before I walk to make sure nobody's there that I wouldn't really want to talk to.  I read blogs but don't leave comments.  I watch American Idol but don't vote.  I keep my head down as I walk to my mailbox so I don't have to talk to any of my neighbors, and I pretend to read the mail as I walk back to my house. 

Update (2007-03-22 1:01pm):  One more:  I go to the self-checkout line at stores. #psychology

Expensive hobbies Wed, Mar 21, 2007
I've come to the conclusion that everyone has some sort of expensive hobby, something they enjoy spending lots of money on.  For me, it's electronics like computers, cameras, and phones.  I regularly spend a good amount of money on new gadgets and toys while I simultaneously buy rotten fruit and used clothes to save a few bucks.  I wouldn't have been satisfied with a standard cell phone, so I spent a lot of money on a PDA.  I wasn't impressed with the standard options in my Dell laptop, so I spent lots of money to customize it. 

When I hear about someone spending tons of money on fancy clothes, I alert them to the fact that certain stores sell perfectly good clothes for much less money.  These less expensive clothes perform all the same functions as overpriced clothes, including covering nudity, keeping the body warm, and ... well that's about it.  Clothes don't have much more of a function than that.  But I suppose these people buy expensive clothes for more than just function.  And while I don't understand or agree with that, I guess I can accept it. 

Since everyone has an expensive habit, a lot of people will inevitably have different expensive habits.  I like electronics.  My friend likes camping equipment.  I knew a guy who liked guitars.  I know a lot of people who like cars.  I suppose some people like fine dining.  When I don't agree with someone's choice of expensive habit, I classify them as "stupid".  This is wrong.  I'll try to stop doing this.  Just because I don't share someone's interest in expensive habits doesn't mean mine or theirs is any more worthy. #business

eBay sucks (2) Tue, Mar 20, 2007
I was reminded again today why I don't like buying things off eBay:  Sniping.  Sniping is when somebody or some automated system places bids on an item seconds before the auction ends.  So some unsuspecting person like me could be winning an auction and then all of a sudden get outbid in the last 20 seconds and lose.  I hate it.  And I can just hear the geeks who won snickering and saying, "Sniping is what makes eBay awesome."  I say screw that.  I only use eBay for Buy It Now, which is still inferior to Amazon Marketplace.  Therefore, eBay sucks.  Buncha jerks. #technology

Rechargeable or not Tue, Mar 20, 2007
Most battery-powered devices use rechargeable batteries.  Or so I thought.  It seems that more and more devices these days are moving away from proprietary (and thus, expensive) rechargeable batteries and switching to standard (and thus, cheap), readily available ones. 

I bought a new digital camera recently.  I was surprised to find that most of the newer cameras that aren't super small are powered by two AA batteries.  It's pretty much a standard thing now.  I was worried the batteries wouldn't last very long, so I was conned convinced into buying "extra long-lasting" AAs.  It turns out these special batteries weren't compatible with the specific camera I bought (an unintentional mistake by myself and the Best Buy guy; something about lithium vs. alkaline), but the normal AAs worked fine.  As far as longevity, I took somewhere around 500 pictures and a few videos, all on 2 sets of batteries.  I used the camera like I normally do, which includes using the LCD, zooming, flash, deleting, transferring pictures from the card, etc.  I didn't do much to conserve battery life, and they ended up lasting quite long. 

And just yesterday, I was looking at GPS devices and noticed the same pattern:  Most of the newer models use standard AA or AAA batteries, and only a few models use rechargeables.  I think it's a great trend because it can obviously cut down on the overall cost of electronics, including the cost to develop the battery technology and the cost to mass-produce them.  And when you're on vacation in the middle of nowhere and your camera's battery dies (which happens to me quite often ... stupid little Canon batteries!), you can just buy some new ones at the nearest convenience store.  And you don't have to charge them before you use them, unlike normal camera and cell phone batteries.  I'm a believer. 

Update (2007-03-21 3:25pm):  A few more thoughts on this: 
  1. Having to regularly buy new batteries might not necessarily be less expensive than buying one battery and continually recharging it.  But I would imagine it would take quite a few disposable batteries to equal the price of a single proprietary rechargeable battery.
  2. The downside to disposable batteries (as Wendy pointed out to me) is that they're not a renewable energy source, or more specifically, they're yet another thing that gets regularly dumped in landfills.  Rechargeable batteries have the advantage of not contributing quite as much garbage to the environment.  They'll still probably hurt the environment, but probably much less.
  3. It's possible to buy rechargeable AA batteries.  They're a little more expensive, but maybe they're worth it.
#technology

Highway nose-pickers (3) Tue, Mar 20, 2007
Every time I'm driving on a highway, I pass people who are trying to scratch their brain via their nose.  These highway nose-pickers don't seem to realize that other people can see them, and that it's a horrific experience to watch someone pick their nose with such vigor.  I feel that we as a human race need to do something about this.  Any ideas (comments welcome)? #travel

Personal electric generation (2) Mon, Mar 19, 2007
I just came up with a theory:  I think the solution to every problem in the world is to invent and employ personal electric generators.  The basic idea would be to utilize the energy humans normally spend to freely generate electricity that could be used to power homes, cars, and devices, and maybe even sell back to electric companies at a profit.  Think about it:  We humans go to extreme lengths to expend energy.  We each spend hundreds and thousands of dollars per year for gym memberships and workout equipment that enable us to spend our energy with the benefit of making our muscles strong and/or last longer.  What if, instead of spending money on these things (and also money to electrically power these things), we used the energy we would normally spend in a workout to power some sort of energy collecting device?  Think "giant hamster wheel".  What's a treadmill, stair-climber, or elliptical machine except a simple belt and pulley system?  But instead of having an electric motor provide power to make the belt move and in turn force the human to move, the human could provide the power to make the belt move and in turn power the motor.  Or what about a punching bag?  [Warning:  Science content follows]  It seems like a relatively simple idea to make a device that would generate heat by compressing a gas when a certain force is applied.  That's how every internal combustion engine in every car on earth works (except the engine produces work instead of heat when the gas is compressed; similar idea though).  If a human provides the force (punch or kick), the device could easily compress the gas and provide heat output, which could be used to heat a house or refrigerate food (same process, opposite direction). 

Partial list of problems this would solve or at least slightly diminish:  High energy prices, depletion of fossil fuels, problems in/with the Middle East, most current wars and conflicts, global warming (including but not limited to ice cap melting, water level rising, destruction of arctic habitats, increased frequency and strength of natural disasters, eventual annihilation of all mankind). #science

Airline food Fri, Mar 16, 2007
There once was a time when you were served a meal on every commercial airline flight.  And the food was totally free.  But "to save money" (the end user obviously hasn't seen much of these savings) the airlines cut down on amenities like that, so that only 5-hour flights got free meals, and now no flights get free meals (depending on the airline).  Consumers were outraged that they were charged $5 for something that used to be completely free.  What a ripoff.  And in addition to a $13,000 plane ticket to Florida?  Forget it, jerks! 

But something recently changed my entire way of thinking.  Wendy and I were in LAX for a layover, so we went to one of the fine airport eateries to get some lunch.  We got a couple of simple sandwiches, a soda, and a water.  The bill came to $25.  I'm more than willing to spend $25 on a lobster or a really good steak, but $25 for a $7 meal is a ripoff.  But that's how it is everywhere in the airport.  Burger King meals for $10?  Ice cream for $6?  It's ridiculous, but what's the alternative?  Leaving the airport, walking around a dirty city like Newark to find some disgusting hot dogs, then going through the whole airport security fiasco all over again?  Heck no.  So we spend $25 on a couple sandwiches and drinks and then pee all over the bathroom to make up for it.  Just kidding. 

The alternative to overpriced airport food should now be quite obvious:  Less overpriced airline food, and all the free liquids you can possibly drink, all for a measly $5.  That $5 doesn't sound so bad anymore.  Plus, airline food has been gradually shifting away from the "microwavable steak sandwiches in plastic wrappers" and moving onto healthy things like salads and wraps.  The ham and cheese wrap I had on the flight home from Hawaii was pretty darn good, and that free Pepsi was even better.  I've made up my mind:  $5 on the plane is better than $25 in the airport. #food

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