Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Mark Lanegan - Duke Garwood Album is Coming. And I’m a Little Nervous
My love of Lanegan is well known throughout the world. Or, at least, throughout my little group of friends. Lanegan has a new album coming out soon with a gentleman named Duke Garwood. It sounds like it could be a bit of continuing embrace of the kind of Americana that Lanegan has often touched on, but there might also be a more “brave” aspect to the music.
And that makes me nervous.
Music, movies, literature that tries too hard to be brave-- to push boundaries too self-consciously-- tends to be the kind of music that I don’t much listen to. I like my music to be lacking in pretension; I prefer it to be straight-forward and honest in its emotions. So, what will this new duo bring? Well, here’s a taste:
Friday, June 22, 2012
New Site for the Ruminations of Zombyboy
I’ve moved because the spammers are trying to take over this site. Because I wanted something a little bit new. Because I wanted to break from these hundreds of posts and thousands of comments and do exactly the same thing somewhere else.
Or something like that.
Anyway, I hope that you’ll visit the new site and take part in all the new conversations.
(Oh, and you can comment over there. Which is nice for everyone.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Receiving Friendly Fire
As much as I look forward to the day that President Obama becomes former President Obama, I can’t help but feel a little sympathy. It’s not for him, precisely, it’s for anyone who occupies that seat and has to deal with the constant drone of noise coming from people absolutely demanding that their pet cause become the administration’s main priority. I’m sure it’s bad enough when it comes from the opposition party, but the truth is that much of the needling comes from supposedly friendly corners.
When I read some of this stuff, I can’t help but think we’ve become a nation of children who no longer understand what actually constitutes an important issue. For all of my complaints about the current administration, for example, their speed in dealing with the urgent 1915 Armenian genocide problem doesn’t really rank as one of the truly important bits.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
Charlie Sheen Can’t Even Fail Well
According to Fox, some people weren’t impressed with the first show in Charlie Sheen’s “Torpedo of Dumb” tour. I just can’t figure out why.
What did they expect? Did they expect a better class of failure? A more fun kind of public self-destruction? Or perhaps they hoped for some life-changing wisdom from the colossal ego and his porn star/actress “goddesses.” I know that when I want guidance, the first place I look is a hack actor who probably should have been jailed a number of times over for assaulting and threatening the women in his life. Maybe we can all learn something from a man who has managed to skate through all of his most disastrously dumb decisions and increasingly crazy behavior without having to pay anything resembling a real cost. Except, apparently, in his dental hygiene.
If they are really lucky, maybe he will share his way through the mound of cocaine that just has to be part of his rider.
I’m sure that what they really want is just the big drama and unhinged rants that made him even more famous than the exquisitely bad excuse for a comedy whose only redeeming value is that I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for Ducky. They want the car crash and he just didn’t manage to deliver enough blood.
There’s something sad about a man who can’t even fail with enough panache to keep the mob happy.
Friday, April 01, 2011
The iPad Gap: Pure Speculation
I find myself wondering how long it will be before someone starts complaining that the poor in America don’t have access to iPads and that iPads are somehow key to their future opportunities for success. How long will it be before some government agency is asking tablet manufacturers to make special programs for the poor and carriers are bullied into some kind of subsidized plan for 3G network access?
What I find most intriguing is that if the government can’t pay for something it deems desirable, it will search for opportunities to make companies pay for them. Those companies are often quite willing to acquiesce, but the cost of providing a good or service at below its actual value isn’t a cost that the company will pay. It’s a cost that we, who aren’t subsidized, will pay.
Of course, all of this is done in the name of helping. Which is why so many of us wish the government would, maybe, help less.
Consider credit card reform. The changes made to protect consumers from the card companies had what I would consider to be an entirely predictable set of results: prior to implementation, cardholders saw rate increases and credit lines lowered. People on the lower end of the spectrum will have a harder time getting any credit (even though these are the folks that most needed “protection” and it will probably end up benefiting the high-cost payday lending outfits) and more cards will charge you an annual fee. So your over limit fees are capped at what the government considers a reasonable amount, but you’ll pay the difference in some other fee or in those interest rate hikes that the card companies pushed out before the new protections went into effect.
I’m sure that there will be a few more rounds of government protection to card holders that are meant to deal with those nasty side-effects of the reform--and that there will be more surprises in store for consumers.
Which, again, is why so many of us wish the government would, maybe, help less.
Making it harder or more expensive for a company to do business isn’t always the best way to protect a consumer. Ultimately, if that company wants to stay in business, it will simply pass on new costs to consumers. When Comcast is forced to provide services below cost, it won’t just sit there dumbly wondering why the bottom line doesn’t look as good as it used to; it will raise rates where it can to compensate. Some small percentage of their customers will get a service below its real value and the rest of its customers will pay more than they should.
So, when will we first see the call for free or cheap tablet computers for the poor? It will probably come from an education advocacy group and it will probably provide yet another distortion on what I wish were a much freer market.
What’s my point? My point is that I am tired of a government that has such an overwhelming need to protect and help me. All those protections and all that help comes at yet another cost--and I’m already feeling overburdened.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Little Zomby Abroad: Zombyboy Goes to School Edition
Here’s another scan for the masses.
The young gentleman on the left would be me walking from school. At the time, we lived in Bulawayo and I was phenomenally happy.
I’m also pretty sure that I never quite grew out of that same shade of pallid.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Grandpa, Salida Park, 1980
I took about a dozen trays of 35mm slides home with me from Arkansas. These date all the way back to the mid-70’s.
I purchased a flatbed scanner with a slide attachment last night and tonight got around to trying the scanner. The film seems to be deteriorating. The clarity has suffered, the color seems to have shifted heavily toward red, and, of course, there are a good number of marks and scratches. This is the first one that I scanned and saved, so I’m still in the learning stage, but I’m worried that some of the older slides might be beyond saving.
I worked the curves on this to reduce red and introduce a bit more blue back into the mix and I’m reasonably happy with the results. It is still far too red in some areas, though, and I’ll need to establish a decent workflow if I want these to be done before 2012.
Still, I like this picture. It was likely taken by my grandmother (or perhaps my Uncle Billy) and my grandpa is seen walking their little poodle. Sadly, they are all gone and no one is there to tell me about this trip. He passed away back in 2005 and I still miss him.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Hateful Things: Acura’s Holiday Advertising
If you haven’t seen Acura’s holiday advertising--the “season of reason sales event"--you should watch this video. The ads dare to suggest that all of the overly ostentatious commercialism of the holiday season can be combatted by buying or leasing a new Acura. The logic, apparently, is that springing for a rental reindeer is a symbol of excess and buying a new car is a symbol of “over saving.”
I have nothing against Acura, but these ads make me cranky every time I see them.
(Edited for clarity.)
Monday, December 27, 2010
Arkansas Christmas Miscellany
Merry Christmas to you all just a little bit late. I hope you’ll forgive my tardiness.
Darling girl and I spent Christmas in Hot Springs with my parents. It’s the second time we’ve made the trip, although it was complicated a bit this year by the awkward (for us) placement of the holidays. The trip home was done in one, long fifteen hour drive yesterday so I wouldn’t miss any work after we decided that it wouldn’t make much sense to leave late on Christmas to start the drive home. It wouldn’t have been fair to my parents since they only see me once every few years.
This is a series of notes about the trip.
Firstly, Hot Springs is a fun little town. It reminds me of Colorado’s own Manitou Springs only, perhaps, a little bit nicer.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites and it was absolutely wonderful. I used to work at an Embassy Suites and have stayed at a few here and there across the country, but this really was one of the nicest I’ve seen. The rooms were great, the setting beautiful, and the staff was uniformly warm, friendly, and helpful. I had chosen the Embassy Suites because I needed a place with a desk, enough room, and high speed Internet access so I could work for the first few days that we were in town. I wasn’t much disappointed.
Not much but just a little. See, the hotel was wonderful, the free breakfast in the morning was perfect, the bar with some of my favorite vodkas didn’t hurt matters, but I did have an issue with the “high speed Internet” service. Two issues, really. The first is that most hotels (like the Hampton hotels that I normally choose) offer free high speed Internet, but the Embassy Suites charged for daily access. At the price of the room, I’m surprised that the service isn’t included in the deal. I won’t complain too loudly on that front, though: I made the reservations knowing I had to pay extra but decided that it would probably be worth it since I was also able to make spa reservations for my wife on premises, there was more than enough space for my needs, and it the location was good for us.
But, having chosen to pay for something that I normally get for free, I was surprised at the flaky, slow connection that I got. The service was slow, when I logged in daily it offered an extra paid upgrade for faster download speeds, and it dropped connections somewhat regularly. The work that i was doing required me to be sending 70+ meg files to a printer and I ended up missing a few soft deadlines. Luckily I was working with a friend (if you ever need a printer in Denver, Bob at RM Printing is the most reliable and hardest working man that I know in the business--I can’t recommend him enough) who was more patient with me than I deserved. I did end up getting the work done, but it was much harder than it should have been.
The kicker was that the wireless connection was so bad and so inconsistent that I ended up going old-school: wired connection to a data port in the wall. While my reliability went up, the speed didn’t see much improvement.
If the network service hadn’t been so flaky, it would have been the perfect place for the first half of our stay.
Secondly, I got my mom a Kindle for Christmas. I got her one because, largely, I couldn’t afford to get her an iPad but I knew that the Kindle would be something she would really love. That meant helping her with the set-up and showing her a bit how to use the thing.
I like the Kindle. It’s responsive, it works well, and it is really nicely priced--I think that my mom will love it.
I can’t love it, though. I can like it, but not only is it too limited in comparison to my iPad, but even on its own terms it has some design compromises that really bug me. For instance, the tiny keyboard is hideous. The sub-chiclet sized keys are ridiculous and I can’t understand why they didn’t have room for not only larger buttons but more buttons. Why doesn’t it have a set of number buttons? Why do I have to use an odd, on-screen pop-up for numbers and the alt-keyboard? I also, stupidly, mistook the “back” button for the “delete” button a number of times while I was setting up her account information--my fault, certainly, but it still bugged me.
Much of what I didn’t like about it came down to unfavorable comparison to the iPad, though. While it was responsive and it had a very nice screen, while it was light and very nicely sized, it didn’t have the same mix of size, convenience, and incredible breadth of capabilities of the iPad. I know it isn’t a fair comparison (the Kindle is built for reading and nothing more), but I couldn’t stop myself from making it. The same way that I judge netbooks negatively in comparison to my MacBook Pro, I can’t help but judge the Kindle a little negatively in comparison to my iPad.
This has lead me to wonder, though, that with an iPad in my life, do I really need my iPhone? I might actually downgrade to a phone when my current contract is up.
That also brings me to my thirdly, too: the iPad played a big part in this trip, too. Instead of using my dedicated GPS, I used MotionX-GPS Drive HD. It provided a larger screen with bigger maps and instruction, a great set of extra features (a few button clicks to find a list of the nearest coffee shops), voice directions, basic iPod controls, and the option to pre-cache all of the maps that I would need for the trip. I bought a mount for it (that proved useless) and ended up with what I will term a field expedient method of mounting that involved a design feature of my 2008 Ford Taurus X and the particular case that held the iPad. It worked shockingly well.
Since it was hooked up to the car stereo, the music volume dropped every time the voice instructions came along to tell me where to turn. That was a nice change from the stand-alone GPS where the directions would sometimes get lost against the music.
There were a few negatives, though. We ended up a little confused in Hot Springs when we missed a turn and it couldn’t find a new path for us against the quick turns we made to try to get back on track, for instance, and had a few other situations where it had a hard time finding a new route when we went off script. The stand-alone unit seems to be quicker in mapping new routes when necessary. Like the stand-alone unit, though, the MotionX app found some imaginary roads near where my parents live. Apparently the maps for the roads near Hot Springs Village have a few glitches.
The biggest issue came when the app crashed, though. About eight or nine hours into the trip home, the application froze. It came some 80 miles before my next turn, so it wasn’t a big issue, but it was a surprise. A quick restart had it back directing us in just a few seconds, so there was no damage done, but it doesn’t inspire the kind of confidence that you want from a GPS system. I’ll be using it again on my trip to Vegas next month and I’ll see how well that works out.
And, still on the subject, fourthly, the iPad makes a better workmate than you’ve heard. I was thrilled that I bought the 3G version on this trip. Whenever the flaky Internet service (and access at my parents’ home was spotty, too) my cell service was fine. I answered emails, I took notes, I sent links to pdfs through the Dropbox application, I used the contact list and the task manager (I use Manage, a great .99 todo application that balances a nice interface and features with simplicity of presentation and some useful export options) to keep me in touch and on task. I won’t be making my next 36 page brochure on the thing, but it’s not just useful for entertainment.
What I found most surprising was that I was only out of cell phone contact a few times during the entire trip. Where 3G wasn’t available, it was rare that I didn’t have EDGE coverage. For all that AT&T is maligned for its network--and that isn’t entirely undeserved--the breadth of coverage for me was still impressive. And for a good chunk of my stay in Hot Springs, the 3G connection was more reliable and faster than the “high speed” Internet connection that plagued me.
It’s hard for me to spend $900 on a non-essential bit of electronic kit without feeling even a little bit of regret, but I can honestly say that I don’t regret the iPad purchase at all. It has done more than I imagined it would and it has really changed the way I view tablet-based computers. It has a few shortcomings that I would like to see addressed, but the overall device is startlingly good.
After all that chatter, here’s what I really wanted to say: it’s good to be home.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Glad to be Home
I’m not a big fan of LA. The traffic is hideous, everything is expensive, and where I have to stay is about an hour away from the ocean. Flying in and out of LAX is fairly miserable (although the security lines are much quicker than what you find on a bad day at Denver International Airport) and you tend to run into people talking loudly on their cell phones about the TV shows that they’ve been involved in recently.
That isn’t to say that the place doesn’t have its charms. The weather was wonderful and there are some truly wonderful people in the area. While I never really think of it as a friendly town, the truth is that I usually have some great conversations with absolute strangers and in the most odd places.
The young lady who worked the front desk, the lovely lady and her son who were seated with my co-workers and me at Tokyo Wako one night (a place similar to Benihana), a serviceman coming home from a trip to Australia with his family, and a Rhodesian gentleman who left his home country after Robert Mugabe’s government took his home all helped make my days a little happier. LA will never be my kind of town, but, if I were to be honest, there are far worse places to spend a few days.
Anyhow, these are a few pictures from the trip. All were taken with my iPhone and were then modified either on the phone or on my laptop.
This first picture is dark because I was more interested in the shapes and the shadows than I was in the colors. The view is from the hotel and the gentleman to the left is the Rhodesian man I mentioned earlier. After fleeing Zimbabwe in the early eighties with only what he could carry on the plane and a few dollars in his pockets, he made his way to the US and started a business. He provides limousine services and says that business is great. We chatted a bit while he waited for Doctor Suchandsuch and I waited for my ride to the office. Typically I rent a car when I’m in town but decided to let my co-workers shuttle me around this time. I’m glad I did.
I’ve never flown American Eagle, but after my last few trips on United I decided I needed to find a new carrier for my business trips. I wasn’t disappointed. The folks at American and American Eagle were wonderful and the flights got me where I was supposed to be with minimal fuss and very nearly on time. Through my own stupidity, I also managed to miss my flight Friday morning but making changes and finding a later flight was easy and painless. It did leave me spending a good portion of the day at LAX, though, so I spent $50 for a day pass to the Admiral’s Club where the seats were nice, I had high speed Internet access, and where I could find a clean bathroom. I don’t fly often enough to need a membership, but it made the wait much nicer.
I plan to fly American again when I head to Vegas in January and look forward to giving them an opportunity to keep my business.
One of the odd things about flying American Eagle into LAX, though, is that the planes go into a small terminal a few minutes away from the main terminal. Passengers check in and go through security just like anyone else, but then they board little buses that shuttle them to the little building after driving around the runways. When we flew in, the bus driver played a canned tape that explained that we would be going to the main terminal and that the trip would take a few minutes. “Airplanes have the right of way,” the recording helpfully explained.
This next picture was taken in that little terminal. I snapped it when I noticed that people had started to gather around when Bill Clinton came on to explain why Democrats should embrace the Obama-negotiated tax deal. Most of those people had been ignoring the TV until Clinton showed up and I was struck by a few things: first, that in the world of former Presidents, Bill Clinton is a bit of a rock star, and, second, for all that President Obama has been lauded for his speaking skills, he has nothing near the skill of Clinton. Clinton has warmth, humor, and an easier manner, he showed a better grasp of the political situation, and, simply, he has a charisma that our current president can’t match.
Now, Clinton was also in love with the sound of his own voice (and his State of the Union addresses were testimonies to his own unbridled ego), but it was interesting watching him working the press corps with such skill.
I still can’t decide whether it was brilliant to bring in Clinton to help sell the deal or if it was tremendously self-destructive because it showed President Obama to be a much weaker politician. It felt a bit like a Hail Mary pass from a president who still has two years left in his first term and that speaks of an administration willing to take a big risk for a small win. Perhaps that’s not how the Democrats see it, but my Republican mind is smelling a little desperation.
Notably, that Christmas tree is very nearly the only holiday cheer that I saw in the town. It was surprisingly un-Christmasy throughout.
This last shot is taken from my seat while I was flying out. It never translates quite right, but it was a beautiful sunset and a great view.
I’m glad to be home.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Worth the Click Through
Sunday, November 21, 2010
The Last Airbender: Ten Point Review
Before I jump into the ten points, let me say this: I really wanted to like this movie. I really wanted the M. Night Shyamalan of Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense to find a way to thrill us again and Darling Wife had the same hopes. Instead, what we got was a muddy story, a silly script, and some of the worst acting I’ve seen outside of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Is M. Night Shyamalan at all relevant as a director anymore? Not that I can see.
Warren Buffett Isn’t Much Helping the Conversation About Taxes
Warren Buffett believes that the truly wealthy should pay more taxes, asserting, essentially, that his peers don’t pay their fair share. He is a smart business man, but I’m not sure what he thinks a higher tax rate on the wealthy will accomplish. It won’t balance the budget and the money won’t be used well even if those taxes do increase.
If he wants the wealthy to be a force that helps the economy and helps the government’s bottom line, then he should encourage the wealthy to invest in new businesses, to invest in ideas, to work to support what they believe will lead our nation to better days. And if our government wants to see jobs created, they won’t get in the way. Every new job created is a productive, contributing citizen when that job comes from the private sector. Every new job created by the government, on the other hand, is another tax-funded drain on the coffers. We need more of the former and fewer of the latter--and Buffett is advocating for the wrong side of the equation.
If he wanted to help even more, he would encourage a smarter, more disciplined government less eager to spend money that it doesn’t have. I doubt very seriously that he would dare to run a business using the same rules that our government does--and if his business were running into the same kinds of difficulties, he would be looking for ways to run leaner and more efficiently. Our government, on the other hand, has a pair of crutches to keep it from having to behave in an adult manner: taxpayers and the ability to manufacture money. Why make the hard decision to cut programs or benefits, why austerity, when it is so much easier to print more money or raise taxes.
Whatever the case, though, Mr. Buffett is encouraged to give give give to the government coffers. The money won’t be used well and it won’t be used efficiently and it won’t make a difference in the final calculation. If it makes him feel like a better man to throw good money after bad, though, there is no one stopping him. If he doesn’t, though--if he chooses to find smarter, better ways to invest and spend and give charitably--then it proves that he doesn’t believe his own lie. It proves that he knows that the government isn’t the path to the best results.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Drudge Links As They Should Have Been
Seriously, though, what the hell is wrong with Mexico?
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
The Broncos played well enough to win today. Almost.
The Broncos, though, were betrayed by a lot of little plays that, in themselves, wouldn’t lose you a game. Taken together, they killed an opportunity at a big, home-game win that might have helped the Broncos in a week where the rest of the AFC West lost their games. Instead, they lost. Here’s why:
Bad snaps. A bad snap early in the game killed off the chance at a short field goal. A bad snap on the last offensive play of the day for the Broncos got away from Kyle Orton and ended up in a turnover.
Dropped passes. There were a handful of potentially game-breaking passes dropped by the receivers. Drive extending passes that would have left less time for the Jets to mount their comeback in the end. Not a lot of them, but enough that it would have made a difference.
Bad passes. Orton was chased all day and some of the resulting passes were ugly. He threw into heavy coverage, he threw nowhere near open receivers, and at least once he didn’t deliver the ball quickly enough to take advantage of an open receiver.
Offensive line play. This young offensive line is struggling mightily. They didn’t do much to help the running game, they didn’t do much to help Kyle Orton, and they aren’t quite getting the job done. This remains the Broncos biggest problem area.
Missed field goal. After making a 59 yard field goal, Prater missed a 49 yard field goal. Those three points would have made a huge difference at the end. Instead of needing the touchdown, the Broncos would have been playing a very different game.
Wasting turnovers. The Broncos had three take-aways and only managed three points. When the defense gives you those kinds of gifts, the offense has to do its part. Today--and for much of the season--the offense didn’t come up with enough.
Bad turnovers. The Broncos’ first lost fumble came when the Broncos had just moved themselves into scoring position. Like the field goal, another three or seven points would changed the tenor of the game. The second lost fumble was the play that ended the Broncos’ day (see number 1 above).
The running game is still broken. They were better today, but it wasn’t enough. Too many strong first down rushes were followed by weak second down attempts leaving the Broncos in third and long. The Broncos running game needs to be better.
It was fun to see Tim Tebow contributing and I hope they keep finding ways to work him into the mix. Especially given the Broncos’ rushing problems, having a QB on the field who can help with the running game isn’t something that should be wasted. His rushing touchdown was a nice run and a great coaching call.
It was also good to see that the Broncos defense (playing a good portion of the day in 4-3 instead of 3-4) didn’t fall apart with all of the injury problems. Young players really stepped up and Martindale had them well-prepared. There were a few ugly bits (the final pass interference penalty, for one, and Tomlinson’s two touchdowns both looked too easy), but, on the whole, they played well and should be commended for the effort. The bigger problems were on the other side of the ball today.
The Broncos aren’t really a completely hopeless team. There is talent on the team in all phases of the game and some of the players look like they have great futures ahead of them. Still, looking promising and having talent don’t much compare to winning games. The Broncos need to start putting together better efforts in all phases of the game and carry the effort from opening whistle to the last play of the game. Too many lapses, too many missed, little plays, and too many bad decisions are sinking this season.
When Burqas Attack
From the Daily Mail:
I would suggest that Ruby is a little confused on the subject of the definition of “attacked.” She might have, dumbly, felt attacked, but she sure as hell wasn’t the one who was attacked.
I’m no fan of the burqa. What it symbolizes is repulsive and the treatment of women in some Islamic nations is horrendous. That doesn’t make it in any way okay to attack a woman for wearing the thing--physically assaulting a woman isn’t such a great corrective to what many consider to be a symbol of women’s subjegation and abuse. In fact, it left the victim feeling terrified, humiliated, and abused.
Lovely work, that.
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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