Friday, October 19, 2007

The Q&U wedding

As a dad (especially one of girls, and even more especially one of fire-engine-red-haired girls), your parental responsibility knows no bounds. Today my fatherly responsibility involved skipping out in the middle of a work day, camcorder in hand, to catch my daughter's appearance at the Q&U wedding.

Since the early days of the alphabet, Q & U were inexorably linked. Over time Q realized she could not be without her true love, the U. U felt an equal love for Q, though frankly he played the field a bit, often seen with whatever cheap, trampy consonant he could pick up at the local paragraph. That R...what a floozy. But Q saw though all that, knew that U had a good heart, and they decided to make their partnership official, announcing it was time for matrimony.

Okay, what the heck am I talking about? The first grade play, of course. a little girl plays the Q, all dressed in her finest ball gown. a young boy plays the U, dressed in what can only be deemed a practice run for his future Bar Mitzvah suit. The principal wears her graduation gown and serves as justice of the peace, and the rest of the students fill in the blanks as ushers, bridesmaids, and chorus singers.

The highlight of course was seeing the blushing bride. Scratch that. It was the blushing dad, who somehow got convinced to take off work and walk his own daughter down the aisle (or, rather, across the gym). There's an event I'm definitely not prepared for, myself. I happened to notice a grandmother in the audience who HAD to be the bride's grandma. She was actually crying.

The festival was joyous. The singing, not quite in tune. The cookies, tasty. The boys were completely mortified and dying to get out of their monkey suits and in front of their PlayStations. The girls did what girls do best...twirl their dresses and pretend to be princesses. And then we had punch.

Good times.

Story of my life.

I'm thinking this would be a good entry for an "add a caption" contest. Here's a couple:

1. That whole pot of gold thing truly is a load of crap.
2. As Phil sat there, he suddenly had an idea. It was an idea like no other. An idea that surpassed any idea ever thought of before. "I'll put the outhouse...INSIDE the house!" he thought.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Update on the woodworking project

Okay so it's been a while since I mentioned this, but I've made some progress on the furniture building. As I last posted, I'd determined the obvious, which is that Pottery Barn is retardedly overpriced for something that could be built fairly easily with a $38 sheet of plywood. Well, it turns out I was right, though the plywood actually cost $48.

First, let me put in another plug for Google Sketchup. Best free program, ever. Being able to draw an accurate, to scale rendition of what you're about to build helps avoid a lot of waste, to say the least. This took me about ten minutes:

With sketches in one hand, my Kreg K3 Master Pocket Hole System in the other, a table saw at the ready, I dove in head first. A sheet and a half of plywood, a quart of gel stain, and some wipe-on poly later, my wife had her desk:

In another few days, she may even have file drawers (yes, those plastic boxes are temporary). Of course, we realize that the hideous wallpaper has got to go. You must understand this room was once a dining room but is now an office. And it was a dining room decorated by the former residents, who seemed to have a penchant for Laura Ashley fabrics and various shades of rose and mauve. Now that we have furniture, we can think about wall colors. I'm thinking flowerless.

Then, I'll start working on MY desk, as well as bookshelves, hutches, recessed lighting, and all those other niceties Pottery Barn wants you to trade your first born for. Meanwhile, as I sit here at my ten-year-old Ikea tabletop, my wife's new desk behind me, I can only think, "I wish I was sitting over there."

Turn down those radios!

A car repair firm in the UK has been taken to court accused of infringing musical copyright because its employees listen to radios at work.

The Performing Rights Society has "maintained that amounts to the 'playing' or 'performance' of the music in public and renders the firm guilty of infringing copyright."

If there ever was a sign that the music industry has NO CLUE and has gone TOO FAR, this is it. So let me get this straight. Performers license their music to radio stations. Radio stations BROADcast the music, so people can hear it and perhaps maybe buy the music because they liked what they heard. A dude in a quickie-lube played the radio station at work. Someone other than himself might have heard the music. WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!!!! Someone put a stop to this before that visitor to the quickie-lube does something bad, like buying some music!!!!!

Remember the movie “That Thing You Do”? There’s a scene where the gang hears their song on the radio for the first time. They run into the electronics store where one of them works and turns on the stereos. By the same token the owner of the store (the father of one of the band members) should have been sued. And why wasn't every shoulder-hoisting-boom-box toter back in the 80's sued for performing in public? Oh I remember, cuz most of them were being sued for disturbing the peace.


I heard a story on the way to work today (sorry, can't find a link) about how in the state of PA, 80% to 90% of so-called "e-Waste", electronics, computers, TVs, etc, ends up in the landfill as opposed to being recycled. There's a fear currently that with the nation going to digital TV broadcasts soon, millions of obsolete TV's are going to be dumped in the next couple of years, causing an even worse problem. There's a proposal out there to tack on a $6 or $7 tax on new TVs to fund "e-cycling" or recycling of this electronic waste so it avoids the landfill.

Opponents say this is the wrong path. Instead the burden should be put upon the manufacturers, so that they spend their resources developing more environmentally friendly products that can be recycled easier.

I'm having trouble with this theory. First of all, the story specifically talks about all the soon-to-be obsolete TVs out there about to be tossed. How will forcing manufacturers to come up with new ideas stop that from happening? Those TVs are already manufactured. While I agree that manufacturers need to adopt a "cradle-to-grave" mentality going forward, they got the story wrong in this case because it specifically talked about the mass dumping that will happen when we go to digital broadcasts.

Second, I don't buy that on January 1, 2009, millions of people are going to wake up and throw their TV's away. Many are on cable boxes, which do the job of converting the digital signal to analog as needed. There are doohickeys out there that will do this for you as well. And there's a huge population of folks out there that can't simply afford to toss a perfectly good TV and buy a new state-of-the-art digital one. I know I certainly don't plan to.

I don't mind the tax idea (as one of several solutions). If we can tax cigarettes and booze as luxuries, we can certainly do that to TVs nowadays. These days TVs are nothing if not luxuries, which you can easily see if you try to buy a basic, cheap TV. It's not easy to do.

I also don't think Americans will go out of their way to bring their electronics to recycling establishments, especially given how poorly the word seems to get out regarding the existence of said establishments. Personally I have a collection of about two dozen old telephone books in my garage. They are recyclable but cannot be included with regular recycling. I don't know where to bring them. Someday I will figure that out. Better yet, some day I will figure out how to stop Verizon from dumping an unwanted telephone book on my front lawn twice a year.

Personally, I found my own solution. With the addition we put on the house, we gained some virtually unusable attic space. It's got a low ceiling, a lot of insulation in the way, and it's tough to get to. A corner of it has recently become my electronics graveyard. I've already put two computers, a bin full of CD walkmans, casssette players and the like, an old stereo, and a few other gadgets in there, and frankly if we ever move I will likely leave the stuff up there given it is all tucked away in a corner the future owner likely won't see for years. I'll be happy to store your stuff too, say for $6 or $7 per month.

Friday, October 05, 2007


It's 6:42 in the morning. It's completely dark out. I'm outside, getting the garbage out to the curb. Suddenly I'm started by a teenager trudging slowly up the sidewalk. She's followed by several others. All are wearing iPods. None acknowledge my presence. I make some noise with the garbage cans in hopes of not startling them, but I realize it does not matter. These children are not alive. They are early morning teenage zombies. It's like a George Romero film. I wonder if I could sneak up behind one of them and tip him over.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

That'll show the little varmints.

Your kids grating on your nerves? Get 'em back with this fun new toy from Rainbow Playsets!

Electronic Book Reader...I don't get it

Yet another solution in need of a problem. Sony is releasing their latest eBook Reader. It seems to me there are two reasons eBook Readers will not take off any time soon. First, you can't read it while taxiing down the runway. when I fly somewhere, that half hour or so where all electronic devices need to be turned off makes for quality reading time, which is why I carry a book when I fly. It's almost like study hall, where you're forced to turn off your iPod and your laptop and simply read a book. Second, I would bet the screen is tough to read on a sunny day outside. So the idea of reading the latest trashy eNovel on the beach is out. Keep working on it, guys.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Best Plasma TV, ever

A lot of people ask me for advice on flat panel TV's. As if I know what I'm talking about. Right. Well, my answer just got much easier. Consumer Reports has reportedly rated the Panasonic TH- 50PZ700U plasma TV their highest rated TV ever.

We have a Panasonic 37" plasma. We love it. Gorgeous picture, all kinds of niceties. I've always told people they can't go wrong with a Panasonic, and now CR has proven me right. Gee, I guess I DO know what I'm talking about :-)

By the way the link above has a list of reasons to consider plasma over LCD. I agree with them all, but they forgot an important one. If you have young kids (ah, see, here's the tie-in to my blog), go for the plasma. Why? Fingers. They can be washed off a hard glass screen. If you get a kid with grabby hands, he's just gonna mess with the soft LCD screen.

Oh, and regarding the alleged lifespan of a plasma TV? People have said they only last 10,000 hours. Well, I have a friend who's a movie-buff and bought a Plasma several years ago (I'm guessing 6 years). It's still going strong.

Oh, and if you're considering hanging a TV on the wall, read my post from last year about the bracket racket.