Shampoo Commercial

Here's a touching shampoo commercial making its way around the 'net.  It's four minutes long and is pretty powerful.  The cinematography is beautiful and the directing is crisp. It looks gorgeous and crams quite a bit of story telling in there.  It may be a bit melodramatic, but I enjoy some good melodrama.

If we had more commercials like this in the US, maybe the ink wouldn't have worn off my Tivo fast forward button.

Here is the link.


Shatner-Palooza: Turn around, Bright Eyes!

Total Eclipse of the Heart was one of my favorite songs from the 80s.  I love the "big" music and Bonnie Tyler's just-ever-so-slightly-gravelly voice.

I'm not sure this is better, but it's definitely its own kind of awesome. Lin Yu Chun is Taiwan's answer to Susan Boyle and he recently made the rounds of the US talk shows.  Here he is on the George Lopez show doing a duet of Total Eclipse of the Heart -- with William Shatner.

This is fantastic.


Stop Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients from wandering off

Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients can have a break with the present.  They can be convinced they are decades younger than they are and have to do something or go someplace they used to do or go 25 years ago.  The can slip out of their assisted living facilities and head out into the world, unprepared for the weather or dangers they face, especially since they can be in their own separate reality at that point.  How do stop this?

One solution would be to put better locks on the assisted living facility, and increase security.  But then you start turning it into a prison.  A facility in Germany came up with a better idea.

They built a bus stop to nowhere right outside.

To go about their important business, the patients first are convinced they need to catch the bus.  When someone now wanders off, staff don't have to chase them through the town. 

Because the patient will usually be waiting for the bus.  At that bus stop.  And the bus will never come.

I heard this story on WNYC's Radiolab podcast.  It's 15 minutes along and it is a fascinating, sad, hopeful, and well told story that is more than work the quarter hour.  You can read more and listen to it here.


Spend money on infrastructure now

Seattle is getting ready to start work on the replacement for the SR99 viaduct through Seattle.  We're still not sure if it's going to be a bridge, a tunnel, a boulevard, or a wormhole.  As soon as a plan is locked someone decides we need to talk about it some more.  Come on people.  I don't care if it's not the best solution, as long as it's good enough.  Just shut up and dig!

But that's a rant for another day.  Today I want to highlight some good news from the Seattle Times last week.  It concerns the first phase of the construction.

The low bid for the Sodo section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement came in Wednesday morning nearly $40 million lower than the state's estimate.

Skanska USA, of Riverside, Calif., was the apparent low bidder at $114.6 million. The project, from South Holgate Street to South King Street, features a large interchange that connects the two sports stadiums to the planned tunnel, as well as tourist and shipping destinations on Elliott Bay.

The project will create about 600 construction jobs, the state says.

There were six bidders for the work, all of whom were below the state engineers' estimate of $153 million, a reflection of the recession making construction companies hungry for business.


I continue to see calls from various activists to reign in government spending because of the recession.  That is exactly the wrong thing to do.  I made a similar point just over a year ago.

We should spend money on durable infrastructure NOW.  Why now when budgets are strained and people are out of work?

  • Interest rates are low so financing is cheap.
  • Steel and construction materials are less expensive now than in a booming economy.
  • Construction companies want more work are willing to build for less.
  • Labor is readily available.
  • Land acquisition is cheaper.

That's why it's cheaper to build now, and that means better long term savings for the tax payers.  We can get a bargain on stuff that will last us decades.  That's what we see in the first phase of the SR99 replacement and in a few other construction bids that have gone out.

Why else should we do it? 

Well, it's a great way to get people working -- to get money into the economy for the benefit of all of us without increasing the welfare roles.  When construction workers make money, they spend money so those dollars don't just stop at the city/state spending it.  Additionally, we also have to remember that we get a chunk of that pay and construction costs back in tax revenue.

Why shouldn't we just wait until the economy improves and "we can afford it?"

First of all, we'll need the infrastructure once employment and commerce are back to their roaring pace.  If we don't start building until then, the projects will all come on line just in time for the next recession.

Second, it's bad for big business.  When the economy is strong and big business is building its own infrastructure, it makes less sense for government to compete with business for materials and labor.  Trying to do major public infrastructure and major private infrastructure at the same time just drives up the costs for everyone.

Building major public infrastructure in the recession and at the tail end of a recession is good for the city/state, it's good for the unemployed, and it's good for big business.

The economy is improving.  The window on this recession opportunity it closing.

Start digging now.


Star Wars in Georgetown

On Friday, The GF, her former roommate, and I had dinner at The Georgetown Liquor Club Company.  It's a pub in a mainly industrial area of Seattle, just north of Boeing Field and right next to a set of active train tracks.  You know they best thing about this place was?  This:

It's the vector graphics Star Wars arcade game introduced in 1983.  It's probably been 15-20 years since I've played it, and it's still awesome.

In it you pilot Red 5's X-Wing fighter through a dog fight with Tie Fighters, across the surface of the Death Star against a series of gun turrets, and finally through the Death Star trench blowing up more turrets and dodging inconveniently placed beams until you finally drop your payload into that exhaust port that surely got some architect fired.

My favorite way to play this game was in the sit-down cabinet version they had at Electric Avenue in the Green Acres Mall.  But for now they stand-up version will be fine.

The food?  That was surprisingly good, too.  It's a vegetarian pub.  I'm not anti-vegetarian, but I am suspicious of that cult.  The food here was quite tasty though.

And raise your Geek flag higher, because it's all geek themed, with dishes named for Star Trek characters, Land of the Lost inhabitants, Penny Arcade denizens, and Battlestar Galactica profanity.  Check out the menu here.  And to top it off, they have Guinness on tap.

Good music, video games, tasty food, nice beer selection, and geek-friendly?  Throw in some bacon and beef and you may as well forward my mail.


Elysian Brewery

To celebrate my turning 27 for the 13th time on Wedneday, the GF and I went to the Elysian Brewing Company on Capitol Hill.

I'm sorry to say that I've lived on First Hill for 8 years and today was the first time I've been there.  I'm only starting to explore the close by, east-of-Broadway aspects of my neighborhood.

We had a nice, low-key dinner.  No one had the Delmonico.  I had a smoked mozzarella ravioli dish; the GF had a burger and fries.  We started with Nachos, which came covered with a layer of cheese so thick it resembled a comforter for the chips.  The entrees were good, but not spectacular.

We did have some fantastic potato and bacon soup, though. Order that if they have it the next time you're there. (For more on Bacon, click here;  for more on Bacon shoes, click here.)

Most people don't go there primarily for the food.  It's all about the beer.  They had a number of interesting looking seasonal brews, but I kept it simple and went for the Elysian Sampler.

It was a great way to compare some excellent beers, and something I don't get to do often. 

I've been a Guinness drinker for a while, and I've always been a fan of Stouts and Porters.  The sampler was a good opportunity to confirm that.  In the back of my head, I sometimes wondered if I preferred them because it was "cooler" or "tougher" or "more macho" to drink dark beers.  Those are normally not things I attempt to achieve with my food preferences, but I needed to be sure.

And yes, I did confirm that I still prefer the Porter from the sampler. It simply tastes better to me.

It is a deeper flavor than the other brews.  It lack the sharp bite of the Pilsner or the aftertaste of the IPA.  The Jasime had a pleasant floral scent but lacked the roundness of an Apricot Ale.  The ESB was my second favorite with its clean taste that stays with you.  And they were all good; there're no bad beers here.

But the Porter remained my favorite with it's thick, warm coating.  That slight, complex smokiness rounded out the dinner nicely.

It's the kind of beer I could see drinking at a corporate retreat at a ski lodge.  After a long day of meetings, followed by a few hours in the snow, I could see myself sitting off the side drinking the Porter.  5 to 7 people would be sitting in the room discussing and then arguing about some business problem.  And I can clearly see they're all missing the point.  I sit back, slowly sipping my rich beverage and finally know I have to put a stop to this.  I take another drink of the soothing elixer, wipe my lip on napkin, and stand up.  I step into the group and call for an end to the argument.  Then I explain the point they were all missing.  I may not solve the problem, but in choosing that moment, I bring the disucssion around to where it should have been in the first place.  And everyone goes back to working through the issue.

That's how the Porter feels.

More to come in the next few days about some of the nifty gifts I got.


Life in the Garden Part 39: Planting Blueberries

I planted my first Blueberry bushes today -- two varieties, both of which should do well in containers.  I also came up with a new (to me) transplanting tip to make things easier.

The process always takes longer than I expect, and this exercise was no exception.  The first thing I needed to do was get some dirt.  I used a mixed of roughly 1/4 new Miracle Gro soil to 3/4 of soil left over from last year's plants.

I emptied a couple of older pots and window boxes into a couple tubs.  We've had a bit of rain over the past few weeks, but I still found it surprising just how much mud was in the bottom of those pots.  If only they retained that moisture in August...

Then I added fresh soil into the tubs, and healthy amount of perlite, to help with drainage and to generally keep it from getting too dense.  I also added moisture absorbing granules to address the previously mentioned August challenge (it's a lot easier to add them BEFORE there are plants involved -- a lesson it took me several years to learn, it seems).

Then I strirred.

And stirred

And stirred some more.

I all, I probably spent a good hour just mixing various batches of soil and giving my arm quite a workout in the process.

Finally it was time to add my plants.

Then I decided I needed more dirt.

It's hard to get the amount just right. This time, I used the plant still in its nursery pot, as a guide instead of my normal method "guessing."  Shockingly, measuring turned out to me more accurate.

Once I had the level right, I was about the pull the plant out and balance it in there.  Then it occurred to me -- that's stupid.


Why take the plant out to fill in the sides of the pot?  I decided to essentially bury the nursery pot.

Once I had all that filled in, I could pull the pot out and have a lovely hole to work with.

After that, I simply pulled the plant out of its nursery pot, massaged the root ball to break it up a little bit, put it in the hole, and filled in the remaining soil.  Using the nursery pot as a temporary form made the process much easier.

After the plant and supports were in place, I added a couple of Plant Nanny sleeves because it's much easier to do that before the plant has an extensive root network.  Now I just have to drink enough wine in the coming months so I have the empty bottles to use.

The final step was the easiest one.  And it's the most essential to proper garden care.  I added the Gnomes.

Good luck with your own plants this year!

You can find more of my garden posts here.


Life in the Garden Part 38: Even more seedlings

... And the next batch of seeds is in.

This group has more new stuff.  I think the only things I've grown before from this group are Dill (which did not work) and Leeks (I'm still not sure how they did.

The numbers are actually a little frightening.  I have two 72-plant nurserys going. Each of the 144 tiny pot has three seeds in it. Assuming they all sprout, I will have 432 plants to deal with.  Even after I thin, I still have 144to deal with.

I both hope they are that successful and hope they aren't. Otherwise I'll need to shop for acreage.

And all because a few years ago I decided it was silly to pay for supermarket basil.

You can find more of my garden posts here.


Tablet device as an Input device

Alot of the criticism of Apple's iPad stems from the computing features is lacks. It seems many people want it to be a computer, and it's not.  Leo Laporte has it right in describing it as a content consumption device, instead of a content production device.

I'm not going to join the fray in Apple bashing at this point.  I also have no intention of picking one up. The platform has me thinking, though.

What if, instead of using it as a computer, or instead of using it like a computer, or instead of using it as a display/network interface, you used it as secondary mouse?

I'd be interested in a Tablet like device that sits next to my keyboard, mouse, and computer.

Imagine you are editing audio files. You have your application running on your real computer.  You have virtual sliders, nobs, splicers, and other things that today you manipulate with a mouse.  Now, what if the application still ran on your real computer, but on your nobs and sliders appeared on your Tablet?  Now, you can use your fingers to control things on the real computer, and you don't clutter up your big screen interface with those controls.

This is different from the current iPad use case because the Tablet here is a "dumb" device.  All it does is display the controls and accept your input.

Imagine you are playing the latest incarnation of a World of Warcraft or a first person shooter.  Obviously, the portable tablet wouldn't have the power to run such applications in all the full color, high graphics wonder.  But if it's another input device, hooked into your real computer, it becomes more powerful.  Instead of using key combos, or navigating complex menus in the heat of battle, you look over at your Tablet which displays your favorite buttons or macros.  Perhaps they change depending on what is happening on your other monitor at that point in the game.

We already see some of this capability in Optimus keyboard.  It features OLED keys. Basically, the keyboard physically looks like most other keyboards, but the letters on each key can change.  You can choose a different typing layout, or do your own short cuts and macros. You can replace the letters with images electronically.

A Tablet device that works as a input device for your computer, separate from your main computer screen, and that changes its own appearance could be an awesome tool.


Shatner-Palooza: Salon Kitty

I discover all sorts of neat things in Amazon.com's recommendation feature.  Sometimes it's puzzling though.

The other day, I checked out Amazon's recommendation.  They thought I might enjoy "Salon Kitty" which featured a nearly nude character on the cover. What in my purchase history inspired Amazon to think I might be interested in "Salon Kitty?"  The common source of much weirdness, of course -- William Shatner.

What happens in "Salon Kitty?"

But when an innocent young prostitute (Teresa Ann Savoy of CALIGULA) uncovers the conspiracy, her revenge will ignite a holocaust of pain, pleasure and shocking sexual perversion. The story is true. The depravity is real. The film is SALON KITTY. 

If there is this a connection between Shatner fans and "Salon Kitty" fans, perhaps I can find some new Star Trek material in the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" section of the "Salon Kitty" Amazon page.  So what titles will I find there?

  • Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom
  • Malabimba: The Malicious Whore
  • Maid in Sweden
  • Cheeky!
  • Tortured Sex Goddess of the Ming Dynasty
  • Tinto Brass Collection Volume III
  • Frivolous Lola!
  • Schoolgirl Report Vol. 5: What All Parents Should Know
  • The Image
  • The Japanese Wife Next Door
  • Tinto Brass Collection Volume II
  • SS Hell Pack Triple Feature
  • ...etc

Hmm.  No more Shatner?


Weird Al, Eat It, and Japan

Here's Weird Al performing on a Japanese TV show.  If you're not sure which one is Al, he's the least weird person in the video.

Don't miss the lobster towards the end.



Life in the Garden Part 37: Planting the seeds

I'm always surprised at how long it takes to start the planting.  I spent a couple hours on Sunday with all sorts of seeds. Big chunky ones, near-microscopic one, and ones that just seem to bounce all over the place.  Eventually I got them into 72 various Jiffy pots, and turned on the grow lights.

Last year I lost track of some of my seeds and wasn't sure what a plant was until I tasted it.  This year, I have a map.

Plus it meant I got to play with Excel again.


RIAA To Pursue Mixed Tapes

Ah, the Mix Tape.  It was an icon of 80s youth.

There were 2 kinds. The first kind we made off the radio.  I tried to keep a tape cued up, and the record function just a quick button away.  If I was paying attention, and the DJ didn't banter too much, I could collect all my favorite music without gambling on the invariably scratched 45 RPMs from the record store in the Green Acres Mall.

The second kind was the deliberate one. It was the one you made to collect your deep emotions.  You pulled it together from your radio dubs and your actual purchased tapes. It often involved cables strewn across the living room.  It could be the theme to a friendship or the overly flirtations, trying-to-hard, method of attempting to start a new relationship.

But as with all youthful indiscretions, these too, will come back to bite you. Old data doesn't go away.

Today (2010-04-01) I got my demand letter from the RIAA and I was served with a court order.

It seems that back in 1983 my mother bought me a pack of blank tapes with a credit card. Yes, the records apparently are still around from the THUNK-THUNK days of credit card processing.  From that receipt, they knew I had the tapes and tracked me down.  According to the letter:

You have or had blank audio tapes (Brand: Realistic; Length: 90 Minutes (45 minutes/side), Noise Reduction: Dolby B). 

Research shows that tape users such as yourself primarily use them to steal music from artists without paying for it.  Such users created "Party Mixes," "Road Tunes," "Mood Music," and "Mixed Tapes."

Further, interviews with other current and former New York residents known to be  associated with you have confirmed that you are a blatant large scale music pirate and at one point stole music such as:

  1. The Russians are Liars (Z100 Morning Zoo parody)
  2. Tarzan Boy (Baltimora)
  3. When the Rain Begins to Fall (Jermain Jackson and Pia Zadora)
  4. Hard Habit to Break (Chicago)
  5. I Know You're Out There Somewhere (Moody Blues)
  6. I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me (Rockwell)
  7. Just a Gigalo (David Lee Roth)
  8. Patience (Guns 'N' Roses) (Illegal back yard performance)
  9. Elvira (Oak Ridge Boys)
  10. Toy Soldiers (Martika)
  11. The Rain (Oran "Juice" Jones)
  12. A View to A Kill (Duran Duran)
  13. Glory of Love (Pete Cetera)

There is no statute of limitations on this craven theft, and we are pursuing this case to the fullest extent of the law. You are hereby notified that this investigation is ongoing. The accompanying court order prohibits you from destroying or damaging any audio recordings or  documentation related to this matter.

Investigators with the appropriate search warrants will arrive within the week to seize the appropriate evidence.

Thank you for your cooperation in this manner.

And it was signed by the appropriate people.  The accompanying court order did just that.

Two hours later I got a phone call from the attorney representing the RIAA.  He was in a conference room with the Federal Prosecutor for Intellectual Property Crimes in the Pacific Northwest.

They laid out the situation for me.  Based on there assumptions of what I had (I, of course, said nothing), they explained the situation was particularly bad.  Not only had I recorded music off the radio, I kept that music for more than 20 years.  And I traveled out of state with it.  They were drafting an International Warrant in case I fled, and flagged my passport so I couldn't leave the country.

If convicted, I could face penalties of up to $150K per song, plus 5 years in prison for each song.  In other words, if I had everything in that list, and if those were the only songs I recorded off the radio as a kid in the 80s, and if they don't find more when they execute the warrant, I will have to pay $1.95 million  and serve 65 years in Federal Prison.

Or I could settle now.  For the low price of $10K I could pay all fines and avoid jail time.  Plus I would need to report everyone else I knew who had a made a mixed tape.

I said I would think about it.

I headed out for coffee, and thought about all this on my walk.  I got to the shop, and the soft tones of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" greeted my ears.

Great.  That's just what I wanted to hear now.

Then I made my next mistake.  I began singing under my breath

Show me a smile then
don't be unhappy, can't remember
when I last saw you laughing
if this world makes you crazy
and you've taken all you can bear
you call me up
because you know I'll be there 

BAM! My cell phone rings.  It's the RIAA lawyer again.  It seems they'd been following me.  The coffee shop had a license to play the music, but I didn't have a license to sing it -- to engage in a "Public Performance."  And they have it on surveillance.  Because I am such a recalcitrant thief, the settlement cost now jumps to $20K.

So right now, I'm dealing with all this.  I think I should probably get a lawyer, but I just can't bring myself to get that done yet.  What I really need now is to stop and get some fresh air.  Afterall, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Oh, hang on a moment.  My phone's ringing.

It's the MPAA.

Related Posts: 

New times 
An Obituary 
New SeaTac Name 
Are you going to Scarbarough fare...