I'm going to see Lewis Black on stage tonight.
If I ever get into an argument with Lewis Black it would probably go something like:
Lewis: "Have you ever been to the jungle?"
Me: "I was walking through the jungle one day with my mom and we bumped into a boa constrictor."
Lewis: "Your MOM? My mom took me to the zoo!"
Me: "Zoos are like a jungle, but with bathrooms."
Then things would get a bit confused.
Me: "'Hey, mom, look out, there's a boa constrictor', I would say." Then he would say: "That's nice dear."
Lewis: "I don't know what kind of shit you're on, kid, but I like the cut of your jib. Why don't you slide off that boa you're riding on and get on the reality train?"
Then there's ice cream. Did you know there's ice cream in the jungle?
Saturday, October 20, 2012
I'm going to see Lewis Black on stage tonight.
Monday, October 08, 2012
I need an easily-replaceable part for my car. It's a data update disc for a dashboard GPS. It would take me ten minutes to swap, and it would take them three hours at the dealer's garage and there's nothing to do in that part of town so I would be bored.
I can't buy it from my dealer and have it shipped to my house; not allowed. I would have to pick it up (the dealer is not THAT inconvenient to get to, but let's pretend it is).
I also can't call the manufacturer corporation and have it sent direct from them; not allowed. And neither party has a web site I can order it from. Oh, and they won't tell me what the part # is; not allowed. So I can't source it otherwise.
So, they make this part / data disc, want to charge me money for it, I WANT to give them money for it (so I know it's the latest version and genuine), but they won't take my money at my convenience. I have to GO somewhere and pick it up.
I understand that car manufacturers have a "special relationship" with their dealers in terms of parts and service (and some of it is legitimate; new break pads should be installed properly etc), but, a data disc for a GPS ? That's trivial. The worst that would happen is you don't get to Chuck E. Cheese's on time for your nephew's 4th-birthday bar brawl.
Again, I'm willing to PAY for it; just f*&@!@! SELL it to me and you can split the money any way you want; I promise I won't sue!
I just don't feel customer-serviced right now.
at 11:02 AM
Sunday, September 16, 2012
at 2:08 PM
Monday, July 16, 2012
It was the night of December 25 (going into the 26th), 1992. We had just left a family party, probably right after midnight.
My sister and I were in my mother's car and we got a flat. Fairly run-of-the-mill trouble, really, just at the wrong place and the wrong time. So we pull into a closed-down gas station so we could use their air pump and re-inflate and get our asses home for the evening.
As we're trying to address the situation this compact sedan with four guys screeches in from nowhere and the guy in the front-passenger seat bolts out and the first thing I think of is "why is that guy holding a toy gun?"
Uh oh... that's not a toy gun.
So he tells me to lay on the floor face down (on the oily greasy gas-station tarmac), tells my sister to back away and put her purse on the floor, tells me to take my wallet out of my back pocket and throw it at him (all complied with; don't argue with a guy with a gun, you will lose) and then .... they take a look-see ... and go away.
I can't honestly recall what was in my wallet; I can tell you that my sister's purse didn't have much more than a stick of lipstick in it. I'm happy to report that both our brains were safely in our skulls as of later that night.
The one bit of luck out of the situation is that my father at the time lived just a few blocks away so my panicked call to him resulted in quick help. He came; he re-inflated. He dragged us off and gave us shelter.
He also gave me a bed in which to cry myself to sleep that night. There is no shame in feeling sorry about things.
at 2:50 AM
Monday, June 18, 2012
I'm warming up to the standard punctuation form of the period being enclosed within a direct quote, as in:
"This is what he said."
... as opposed to
"This is what he said".
For many years I opted for the latter simply because it made more syntactical sense, coming from a computer programming background. I now understand that, if one is to quote someone directly, the statement, as a whole, should be completely enclosed within the quotes.
Somewhere, E.B. White is giggling to himself and high-fiving some supernatural form of Strunk. But then "that's what they said.".
at 9:13 PM
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Having spectacularly failed in one school in seventh grade, I found myself in eighth grade ('87), and suddenly got swept into a corporate-sponsored whatthehelljusthappened of people in a large room, including
A bank president, telling us about how magnetic ink technology, printed on checks, is all the hot shit
and (get this)
Marvin Minsky, telling us how the problem with artificial intelligence can be reduced to video camera-acquired optics of cubes with their vertices highlighted with black magic markers.
(I probably made most up of the last part myself, but I was taking notes throughout the presentation, so somebody, SOMEWHERE, knows the truth)
But, here's the thing...
I can tell you what color shirt Marvin Minsky was wearing.
He was wearing a yellow madras, threadbare, cotton, almost worn-through short-sleeve shirt. The kind of shirt your granpa wears when he doesn't care at all about what people say about what he was wearing; just that, at the end of the day, the one thing people will say about him is that he was wearing a shirt.
I can also tell you there was a light drizzle for about twenty minutes as he and I both waited, afterward, for our rides to show up.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Saturday, December 24, 2011
There are two stories of a more-or-less personal nature that may help explain Kodak's eventual demise, coincidentally both occurring in 1996.
But first, a fair warning that these are not the "oh boy you're gonna get a real knee-slap out of these" kind of stories. These are the kind of stories for those who read instruction manuals and find themselves impressed that the technical nature of the content is accurate and comprehensible, that the font usage and spelling is tended to, and that the love for the product from those who made it in the proverbial corporate basement manages to eek upwards through the floorboards somehow.
First story (this one not so personal):
In 1996 Kodak released their first two consumer-level digital cameras. One of them was the DC25, featuring something as advanced as an LCD-based preview screen so if you didn't like the photo you had just taken you could immediately delete it, thus freeing up memory to take an additional photo. This was important since the on-board storage space (no memory cards of any sort allowed) only held twelve exposures at sub-VGA (493x373 pixels) resolution. I only mention these specs to give an idea of how primitive this device was, compared to current digital camera technology, and how far we've come.
And how far we've come... That DC25 retailed for $600 and it was flying off the shelves, one of them right into my hands. Kodak was well on its way to dominate what would become a healthy, wealthy and (in their case) truly integrated market involving the manufacture of sophisticated hardware components, industrial product and software design, marketing, distribution, points-of-sale, and value-added services (print kiosks, professional-quality blow-ups, etc) where to this day some real cash can be made.
Other, more sophisticated camera models with more storage space and features, were released in a few of the following years and then... they stopped.
What did they do? What they did is they decided that the future of consumer-level photography was, and always would be, celluloid film. After all, the cost of a roll of film, and the subsequently necessary step of development services, would always be more profitable -- per exposure -- than digital. They also bet the farm that producing traditional film stock footage (for TV, movies and the like) was, and forever would be, the medium of choice.
The rest of that, history.
Second story (this one much more personal):
I was a student at RIT in Rochester, NY (Kodak's home base) in 1996. I was assigned, as a class exercise in team work, to partner with a long-time Kodak employee and give follow-through to a professional-level implementation project from start to finish. Perform situation analysis, acquire specs, draw up a proposal, implement, deliver, etc.
Here's what we came up with: Some years prior Kodak had developed internally their own flavor of what is known in the computer technology industry as an "expert system", in this case basically a simple structured text file-based database that allowed a user to, by answering a series of self-directed questions, arrive at the answer/solution/data he needed in order to get on with his work. The pre-existing architecture of this file format (which happened to be called "CCAG", but you could call it "Little Orphan Annie" if it at all suits you) is that each workstation needed to have installed on it (a) its own copy of the CCAG interpreter program, and (b) its own copy of the CCAG data file.
Net problem: Every time the CCAG data file (or the interpreter program) needed to be updated the I.T. person would need to individually deploy to EACH WORKSTATION, off a floppy disk or the like, a new copy of one, the other, or both. For those old enough to remember such horrors, think back to having to update, say, network driver files, then updating config.sys etc, on EACH computer in your company or institution, one at a time, on what otherwise would have been a nice Saturday afternoon playing catch with your favorite imaginary dog.
The solution I proposed was to write a WEB-based CCAG interpreter, so that the CCAG data file would exist, only once, on the web server, and the users would be able to access it using their web browsers through the web-based CCAG interpreter I had written. This way any improvements or edits to the CCAG file need only be done once, in one place, and all users would benefit from it instantaneously and simultaneously. This would not have required changing the format or syntax of their pre-existing CCAG data files, so all of their accumulated knowledge base could be leveraged as-is, and since everybody (yes, even as of 1996) at Kodak already had a Web browser, no additional software need be installed on the user workstations. No confusion, argument, or miscommunication.
And so this I did implement. I presented the working system to my "client", who stared at it, pensively. "Uh... thanks", he said. "This works really well. Wow." He went away, back to do his job the way he always had been, and I never heard from him again, even after applying there for an internship that Summer.
Every year I wonder less why I don't work at Kodak; one of life's little bullets dodged.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The problem with the War On Drugs is that it is the only, last way to make people want war. What a way to make jobs.
As long as you play along, and force cartels to be cartels (because that is the only currently-viable way to move product), you are complicit in this travesty (either explicitly or implicitly; your choice).
So, here's a modest proposal: Let us have it. Declare failure, and our "victory". "You win, we lose; suckers." laissez faire the fuck out of us. We take it up the ass through the border until we can't take any more. Problem solved. And we can all get back to the business of shoveling shit up our nose, but at least it will be real shit, and we won't have to lie about it, and people who didn't see it coming don't have to disappear.
Or do you want a real war?