Archive for April, 2013

Just some snippets of opinion

April 24, 2013

I don’t want a new Gatsby movie. Especially a musical. By Baz Luhrmann. I enjoy the book, I sort of enjoy the old Redford movie.  I don’t see Dicaprio as Gatsby or Tom or anyone else from the book. I’d rather just see it left alone, or done by someone who isn’t, well, Luhrmann. No offense, but Moulin Rouge, Romero + Juliet, and Australia don’t inspire huge amounts of confidence and I’m not looking forward to Gatsby getting that treatment.

I don’t want a new prequel to The Shining. What made the original Shining movie great wasn’t Stephen King, it wasn’t the hotel, it wasn’t Colorado. It was Stanley Kubrick directing Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duval, and Jake Loyd. Want proof? Look at the more recent tv miniseries.  To pile on the negatives, this wouldn’t have King’s blessing and it will be based on material even he cut from the original book.  Want to do a horror movie set in a hotel? Great. have at it. Just leave The Shining out of it. And, for God’s sake, get good people involved.

I don’t want Amazon getting involved in every damn part of media experience. This includes television. I’m complained about Amazon enough, but on this level I feel roughly the same about a handful of companies owning the majority of our television and radio stations, how our newspapers are being swept under larger and larger umbrellas, how cable/phone companies have increasingly monopolies, etc. It’s never good when one company has their hands in too many cookie jars.

I don’t want to never read another Roger Ebert blog or tweet. I have Ebert’s RSS feed in my google reader, something else I don’t want to see go away, and I haven’t ready any of the posts that are still marked unread. I’ve read them on Ebert’s actual blog site, but through the reader. Because then they would no longer be unread. And they would disappear. I don’t want them to disappear. I watched Siskel and Ebert, and I was crushed when Siskel died. I never warmed to Roeper. I became a devotee of Ebert’s website.  He was really the only the movie critic I bothered to read any more. I’ve found his like/dislike to be a fair barometer of how I will enjoy a movie. Right or wrong, I found that I often agreed with him on whether or not a movie was worth watching. We probably disagreed on why, but if he liked a movie, I was reasonably confidant in it. Now, well, I don’t know.

Alright, I think I’m done. Just an ugly day, and I feel gripey. Had to get it out of my system, I guess.


Frustration Continues to Mount

April 19, 2013

Well, apparently I’m not getting a washer/dryer today. I got an automated call at 7am saying that there has been a delay with my delivery “possibly caused by weather” or something else, and that I’d get another call back later to sort it all out with me.  Well, I didn’t get another call back, so I called their customer service. I think we had a bit of a bad connection, but it didn’t help that my call was apparently routed to some place overseas. The woman had an accent, not the thickest I’ve heard, but thick enough with the poor connection.  By the end of the call, despite not being entirely sure what she was saying, I had essentially given up on figuring out what was going on with this phone call. So I then called the store we bought the washer and dryer from, and the guy we bought it from wasn’t in today, but she took my number and that and says a manager will call me back.

that was a half hour ago.

I’m not real thrilled right now with where we bought these things, but mistakes happen. It’s just another mistake/problem, though, tacked on to a laundry list of problems lately.  I think I’m going to give up on getting either today, and go lock up the basement door.


edit: about three hours after my initial call, the lady I talked to from the store called me back and asked if anyone had contacted me. When I told her no, she put me on hold, and got me on the phone with someone. I gave them my information, and they seemed a bit lost trying to figure out what happened to my washer and dryer and offered to call me back in a few minutes. Forty minutes later I got a call from another person who seemed to be part of management who apologized a lot, and told me that the part that needed fixed didn’t arrive when the repairman was there. The part has finally arrived, and the repair guy would be out again next Tuesday, and picked up for delivery on Wednesday. I’ll get it Friday. so. Yeah. My washer and dryer are still at the store. waiting for aknob to be fixed (a knob that requires the entire control circuit board to be replaced). Some day I will have a washer and dryer.

house work, lasagna, Boston, gun control…

April 18, 2013

this is really just going to sum up a whole week’s worth of adventures, misadventures, impressions. First…

I tried to fix a toilet. It was leaking between the bowl and the tank, and after deciding it wasn’t leaking from the bolts that connect the two, I figured it was the gasket between the two. So I got the gasket, and an extra set of bolts, just in case. Everything went awesomely well. I got the tank dried out, I got it off the bowl. I replaced the gasket (the old one was cracked down one side and looked rough in general). I got everything back together. I flushed it. And the fill valve/ball failed. So I go to Lowes, and buy a new fill valve kit that is supposed to be compatible with any toilet. Okay, great. $15 for this, and the $10 or so I already spent on the other stuff, is still far cheaper than buying a new toilet. The problem is that while it’s apparently compatible with any toilet, it’s not compatible with any overflow tube.  whoever did the internals originally used an overflow tube that had the flapper literally built around it, instead of off to the side like pretty much every other overflow tube/flapper on the market. So now I have to either get a new overflow tube, or go back and buy parts to piece meal the entire system together. I’m getting a new overflow tube and will have essentially replaced all of the guts in the toilet. Lesson learned. Whenever you have to replace one big component in a toilet, just buy the kit and replace all of it. Saves hassle and money in the long run.

I’ve also been busy cleaning up the basement. It’s a mess. It doesn’t appear to have been cleaned in years. It’s frustrating, it’s aggravating, and it feels like it never ends. It sucks. But I know I’m making progress. I need to go down and finish sweeping it up today. get some more junk out of it. Etc. Then I can start looking at patching holes and maybe putting a topcoat on to level it. I can also start cleaning up the section of the basement that has a sandstone floor, which is also where I need to use a couple of floor jacks to level the kitchen floor. I’ve found a website that is supposed to teach me to calculate dead and live loads, which I can use to determine who big of a beam I should use. So, soon I will be delving deep into the realms of math. I’m not looking forward to this.

On a slightly related note to cleaning up the house, our trash hasn’t been collected this week. Apparently teamsters are on strike, it hasn’t been resolved, and so my big blue container is just sitting beside the road, waiting. I finally fired off an email to the trash people today, bitching about it, and asking how they are going to refund a week’s worth of their payment to me for the lack of service. I got a call back in like ten minutes, and they’re actually taking more than the week’s worth off my next bill (though apparently because it’s easier to take a round amount off played a fair part in this decision). However, I still have a bunch of trash that needs to be put into its big blue tub that is currently full with last week’s trash. As you can imagine, the amount of trash is a bit higher than normal since we’re cleaning up a house that has been vacant for a year and was nearing foreclosure.

Publishers are starting to complain a bit more about Amazon. Here’s my problem, though: they might bitch about it, but what are they doing about it? Not a whole lot as far as I can see. They need to wade into the digital retail space, and assert themselves. Either work harder to make another site (like B&N) the place to buy books, or set up their own sites.  Of course, this doesn’t touch Amazon hauling in cheaper editions from other regions, their tax advantages, etc. But I don’t see publishers really moving to fight those problems, either. What I see is an industry that is crying and moaning while the rats nibble it to death.

No on is talking enough about CISPA. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it does that people get so riled up about the government possibly putting restrictions on buying a gun, but you barely hear a word over things like the Patriot Act, CISPA, etc. The government takes away our civil rights piece by piece and that’s fine, but threaten to restrict what rifle we buy…

Speaking of gun control, yes, senators are cowards. there’s been some talk about why, about how the NRA is too powerful, etc., but I think what it really comes down to is the horrible gerrymandering we allow to happen every ten years when the census come around. Whoever is in charge takes the opportunity to create the most ridiculous and advantageous districts imaginable to all but guarantee the election/re-election of folks in their party while limiting whatever gains are likely possible by their opposition. It creates an environment where 90% of the population might favor something, but senators and congressman only have to worry about the fraction of the populace that actually votes for them, and often only the fraction of that from their own party. This is because with the ridiculous redistricting maps, they are more vulnerable to challengers from within their own party than in the general election. So we have politicians pandering ever more to the extreme elements of their own bases because they know that trying to gather votes from across the aisle is a losing strategy. Want better legislation and better politicians? Put redistricting in the hands of third parties or in bi-partisan coalitions.

Okay, and I just discovered that the coupon for 10% off my next purchase at Lowes isn’t working. So, despite wanting to buy my crap online and just have it shipped to me, the cheap part of me is thinking that I will  have to print off my list of stuff and drive over to the store and buy the stuff in person and bitch about the coupon not working. Which I’m not looking forward to because I really don’t care for one of the people working the customer service desk who is really the least helpful person I’ve met at a customer service desk anywhere. On the other hand,  I could probably bring the lawnmower home with me and be able to mow the yard tomorrow.

Also, Sears has not called me to set up a delivery time for tomorrow. This does not fill me with hope and confidence in Sears.

Financial regulators who managed to find no reason to go after Wall Street executives who caused the 2008 financial crisis...are now getting jobs on Wall Street. Shocking.

There’s a first listen on NPR of the new album by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Love Has Come For You.  I’ve been listening to it as I write this blog up, and it’s good. At the very least, go to NPR and give the album a listen. It’s 40 mminutes of Martin on Banjo and Brickell singing.  Yesterday I was watching a youtube clip of Steve Martin on the Tonight Show in 1978 with Johnny Carson, and the artistic journey he’s made is pretty amazing. I don’t know enough about music to comment on Edie Brickell, though I’m probably going to look up some more of her music after listening to this.

Alright, I think that’s all for now. I need to try to be mildly productive in other areas for awhile.

The house, the reading, the writing, the web, and other various topics of momentary interest

April 12, 2013

Alright, it’s cold today.  the high is supposed to be 50, which means it’s actually about 45, which means the other side of the house is uninhabitable. I went over to fix lunch and froze my nuggets. Thank god for the microwave.

On the other hand, I finished nearly all of my grading this morning. And I think I tracked down the shut off valves to the second floor shower. At first I thought they would be concealed in closet of an adjoining bathroom, because that would make total sense.  So, I removed a loose panel in the closet, and was confident I would find a couple of knobs to turn. Well, no knobs.  there were these bizarre upside down copper udders, though. Did some looking through Lowes’ website and found that they are supposed to remove knocking in the lines from air. Kinda neat, actually, but an odd thing to see for the first time. I think I’ve found the cutoff valves in the basement, so when it warms up a bit, I can start tearing apart the tub faucet to see what I need to replace. I’m hoping the shower head is just clogged, but I think it’s going to more likely be the cartridge.

Also, I need to fix the toilet in the half bath. It won’t stop flushing once it starts. An easy enough fix, really.

More adventures in the basement. I hauled the majority of rubber backed rugs out of the basement yesterday. We think they played a role in deteriorating the cement in one third of the basement. In the middle third, they covered a couple of spots where it seems a previous owner tried to use a sledge hammer to level out the natural stone floor. Yeah, not sure what the was going through their heads and why they didn’t just go rent a grinder to take the high spots down slowly. Or, if the sandstone floor bothered them that much, why they didn’t just replace it with cement when they poured floors in the two other sections of basement.  It was definitely bizarre, and a bit disheartening to see the floor damage. Right now we’re thinking of hammering out the two spots that are damaged and seeing if we can find replacement chunks of sand stone to drop in.  Then I discovered that they managed to store more…stuff?… in a couple of crawlspaces in the basement under an addition they did. So I have to haul a small step ladder into the basement to boost up into these crawlspaces to haul out lord knows what. Yay.

On the non-house front, ebooks now make up 23% of all book sales. Not only that, but book sales in general were good. the digital market will continue to grow, and it becoming the dominant format is likely inevitable. At the same time, there is a tangible, tactile quality to paper bound books that is undeniable.  I still haven’t bought an ereader or tablet, I’m not sure when I ever will, but the market is undeniable.

Entertainment Weekly has an article up about a possible Shining movie prequel, and they got a couple of quotes from King about it. King doesn’t sound thrilled, and I don’t really blame him. For one, it’s not going to come close to Kubrick’s masterpiece of horror. Secondly, who cares about what happened to the previous caretaker? We know that already. Dude went nuts, axed his family. If they want to do something at the hotel, fine, but just take it out of The Shining world and use new characters and new events.

And Jeff Bezos with a letter that I disagree with. He can try to dress up his shop window and make it look like a part of the community of publishing/writing/etc., but Amazon is the new WalMart. If you were ever against Walmart because of how they drive smaller stores and companies out of business, you have no reason to feel differently about Amazon. While the publishing world certainly doesn’t do itself any favors with how it has approached the digital transition, Amazon has played an active role in hastening their downfall and turning small(ish) mistakes into catastrophes. It’s not all about the customer, it’s about control and it is about dominance, and in the end it’s about making as money as possible. If you’re going to shop there, either admit you don’t care or that you can’t afford to care. It’s okay, I couldn’t always afford to care, either. But now I can, so I make different choices.

Finally, something else I want to talk about that is a bit off the beaten path: Fox and CBS might become cable networks. The whys of it don’t particularly matter to me, but if you’re curious, it’s a good blog post from SF Chronicle. What I want to do is to pair this with the news that the city of Santa Clara is going to have free wifi. From my understanding of the history of television, the government essentially gave the broadcasting airspace to networks provided they give time back to the public in the form of providing the news. So, for basically an hour a night. And for decades it’s been a steal for the government, in that it has allowed for a populace informed about the nation and the world at a relatively low cost and high access. However, that has changed over the past decade or so. This isn’t about the quality of the nightly news, but the rise of the internet and the connected world. Television has become less important in our every day lives, at least in the sense of sitting down in front of a television and watching your favorite show at 9pm on Tuesdays. If you’re like me and my family, you don’t have cable, dish, or antenna. You just get all of your info from the web. You have a twitter feed you keep track of, you have a facebook account, you’re tapped into various rivers of information.  The problem is that this connection comes with a price. Here it seems to be anywhere from $30-120 a month. Thirty bucks doesn’t sound like a lot, but compare that to the nothing people are accustomed to paying for their broadcast television and their ability to get the news every night for nothing other than sitting through some commercials. And the Washington Post had a report from back in February about how the FCC wants to buy back some of these airwaves from broadcasters to set up a national free wifi network.

And this is why it is important. Not so we can surf gawker for free, but so that our populace – a populace becoming increasingly urban – can benefit from the sort of free access to news and information that previous generations of Americans benefited from. Would it eat into profits for wireless carriers and giant telecoms? Almost definitely, but it’s also entirely in the public’s good to push forward with such initiatives. This isn’t about getting something for nothing, but about knowledge and access.


Where I’m At

April 11, 2013

Okay, it has been a long time since I last updated this place. I see I’m still getting a decent number of visitors every day, so at least the content I do have up seems to get people to drop by occasionally. I haven’t been updating because of a combination of business and apathy. I haven’t felt like writing for awhile. I just don’t feel like I have much to say, or what I do have to say wouldn’t be significant enough (length wise) for a blog post. mostly, the past month or so has just been really busy.

For one, we bought a house. We moved into the house. We’re still in the process of unpacking, cleaning, fixing. And it’s like three and a half weeks later. After we bought the house, the wife got really sick, a boiler that heats half the house essentially failed – rendering said half  uncomfortable as all hell to be in, let alone do all of the things you have to do to move into a place. there was Easter, which was fun but which also killed a weekend. The weather still sucked. We bought a washer/dryer that will now be delivered a week later than it was supposed to because the repair guy couldn’t fix a broken knob and had to order parts. And the kid got sick with something entirely unrelated to what the wife had. So…yeah.  we moved, and life just sort of fell apart the past few weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to maintain my job, fix supper, etc. To fix supper, I have to journey back and forth between two halves of the house, because it was divided up for an inlaw suite. Right now we’re living in the inlaw suite. The fridge is in the main part of the house. Hence having to go back and forth just to fix a meal.

Sooooooo, I’ve been busy. That’s really all for now. Time to try grading.