Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

September 3, 2007

Happy Anniversary!

What is it about death anniversaries that makes people want to “celebrate” them? Every August at Graceland Elvis fans flock there on the day of his death. And with the 10th anniversary of Princess Dianna’s death a few days ago, the media went crazy.

Fox News showed some kind of memorial service for Dianna during their morning show. MSNBC actually reran the whole funeral.

And of course, every December 8th John Lennon fans gather in New York and burn candles for some reason.

I don’t get it.  I mean, I guess I do in a way, but why not do all this stuff on their birthday instead? Why highlight the saddest day of their heroes’ life, that is, the day of their death?

August 31, 2007

NASCAR’s PR Guy Needs A Splint

Just read on Jayski a summary of a press release from NASCAR that said passes at the “new” Bristol doubled over the previous race.

Then they cite some statistics  that show that there were 2,147 green flag passes during the race. J.J. Yeley, who finished 13th, managed to make 107 passes under the green flag.

I’m not sure what they’re calling a “pass.” Is it just cars you’re passing that are on the same lap? When John Andretti didn’t start the race for 40 some laps, did the other 42 cars get credit for passing him (that’s 1600 passes right there).

Basically, those statistics are useless. The only real stat they need to look at to show how exciting a race is is lead changes under green, and then they need to take into account lead changes that happen during green flag pit stops. Using that methodology, there were only three passes for the lead the other night.

This is a great indicator of how boring the race really was. I’m not the only one who thinks so.  NASCAR says that was a race for the “pure fan.” If that’s the case, then I’m not a pure race fan.

Meanwhile, someone should look out for the NASCAR PR guy. I think he broke his arm patting himself (or NASCAR) on the back for having such a “great” race.

August 30, 2007

Computer Tip: Fixing the Mysterious Moving Mouse Cursor

A few months ago, I got a new computer at work. Since I’m a computer tech, I had to install Windows and all the software on it myself.

Shortly after I got all the stuff installed, I was looking at the monitor when I saw the mouse cursor just take off on its own. I thought at first I might have been moving the mouse cord with my leg, but that wasn’t the case. The cursor would just start moving, generally to the up and to the left.

I never had time to research it and find a fix, but it finally got to the point that it was really annoying. So I did a Google search and found a few suggestions.

The fix actually turned out to be a default setting in the mouse control panel applet. Under the “Pointer Options” tab, there’s a section titled “Motion”. In that section is a check box labled “Enhance pointer precision”. When you install Windows, that’s checked by default. But for some mouse hardware (actually, just about every mouse I’ve seen), it causes the mouse pointer to start moving on its own.

The help text associated with that setting says it’s supposed to give you more control of the pointer. I guess that’s true; turning it off gave me complete control of the pointer.

August 28, 2007

The Simpsons

We finally saw the Simpsons Movie the other day. We’d tried to see it once before, but were way early and decided to see the Harry Potter movie instead.

Overall it was a pretty funny movie. I guess what surprised me was the number of kids in the theater. Since it’s been out for a few weeks, the theater wasn’t crowded, but I’d guess at least a third of the people in there were kids under 17. Some of them were even unaccompanied.

This is not a kids’ movie. There are adult themes and some adult language. I’m not sure what folks were thinking when they brought their kids. The TV version isn’t for kids either. Just because something is animated doesn’t mean it’s for kids. Parents who think that need to have a lesson in parenting.

August 27, 2007

NASCAR: Bris-dull

I’m still trying to come to grips with the fact that I’ve just spent three hours watching one of the dullest NASCAR Cup races I can remember. All this week the press has been hyping the new track surface and in the pre-race show they talked about the new progressive banking in the turns, which, they predicted, would make for side-by-side racing.

While there might have been some side-by-side racing, it certainly wasn’t for the lead. Whatever the official lead change count comes out to be, I only counted three competitive lead changes: Kahne was passed by Edwards, who was passed by Kahne (who then led about 200 laps), then Edwards passed Kahne. Sure there were other leaders and lead changes, but those happened either under caution or during green-flag pit stops.

It seemed to me that Bristol still only has one groove, albeit a higher one than before. All the passing took place on the outside line. You know you’ve got a dull race when the TV network broadcasting it shows the battles for 13th and 17th with less than 15 laps to go. Edwards and Kahne both stunk up the show.

I guess I’m finally about finished with NASCAR, at least on the national level. They’re slowly putting the Saturday night short tracks out of business by continuing to have Cup races on Saturday nights.  And this mess with the AT&T sponsorship pretty much seals the deal for me. When the TV announcers call a blank car “the AT&T sponsored car of Jeff Burton” then what’s NASCAR and their nameless (at least by me) telecommunications sponsor gaining by preventing the logos on the car? Nothing.

I’d meant to watch the Truck and Busch races this week, but with the Truck race on Wednesday (which doesn’t make any sense) I just completely forgot about it. And the Busch race was on Friday night; I had better things to do.

NASCAR is slowly losing their base audience, the one that got them to where they are today.  To paraphrase a great president, I haven’t left NASCAR; NASCAR left me.

August 24, 2007

Big Brother 8

I admit it: I’m a fan of reality TV. In the game-show sub-genre of reality TV, I like Survivor, Amazing Race, and yes, Big Brother. In the real-life sub-genre, I like Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, Survivorman and other shows that actually show real life.

Regarding this season’s version of Big Brother… The only decent person in the house is Eric. He’s handling the duties of America’s Player extremely well. If anyone “deserves” to win Big Brother, it’s Eric.

There was some controversy recently about Amber’s remarks about Jews. Actually, those remarks were nothing compared to Dick’s assault on Christians and Christianity. I wonder why that didn’t make “news”?

But the two “Christians” in the house aren’t giving him very good examples. I’ve never seen two more selfish “Christians” than Jameka and Amber. In their world, God is in His Heaven, and he’s watching CBS’s 24/7 feed on the mother of all internet connections, listening to their every word, answering all their prayers. “Please let me win.” “Please let me stay.” They think God has nothing better to do than help them win a stupid game show?

And finally, Jen got the bum’s rush Thursday night. She’s a “nanny” in real life, but I wouldn’t let her watch my fish.

As far as Jessica goes, enough with that stupid hairdo! Combing your hair over the top of your head like that makes you look as dumb as you sound.

Zach makes Jessica look like a genius though. He’s been coasting through the whole game.

Last week Daniele hated the game and hated the house, then suddenly she wins HOH and all is right with the world. I was actually rooting for her and her dad earlier in the season, but some of the stuff he’s done, and her failure to renounce it, makes me sick. Anyone else in that house should hope that they go up against her or Dick in the final two; it’d be a slam dunk for the other person.

I guess I’ll have to actually watch that new Drew Carrey game show next Tuesday, just to see how bad Amber does. She did so bad in the POV competition that was modeled on the show, I’d say it’s a lock that Daniele won some money.

Survivor starts in a few weeks. Hopefully the folks they’ve picked are interesting. I’ve actually seen one of them on TV before, the pro poker player. Didn’t really like the way he bullied the other players in poker, so it should be fun to watch him on Survivor.

Which brings me to my final point… people in these reality game shows make a big deal out of “integrity” and “honesty” and whatnot. Anyone who goes into one of those games thinking they can be 100% honest is either a fool or they’re lying to themselves. In poker, it’s called bluffing: making your opponents think you’ve got a big hand when you have zilch. That’s part of the game. I don’t understand why folks continue to be astonished that someone else in the game “lied” to them. It’s just like poker; if you get bluffed, take it like an adult and move on.

August 23, 2007

Corrupted Windows Registry

A few days ago, I went to my main computer at home and saw that it had blue screened. I hit the reset key and figured it’d go ahead and boot up. But it didn’t.

It came up with an error I’ve seen (and fixed) before, which indicated that it couldn’t find the boot files. No big deal. You just boot from the CD, go into the Recovery console, and type fixboot and fixmbr. That’s worked every time.

Except this time.

The Windows logo would show up but then it’d crap out with an error. Some research on the net suggested that I do a chkdsk /r, which I did (at this point I was beginning to think I had a hard drive issue). Chkdsk got to about 35% and crapped out. I ran it again and it completed, showing that it had repaired a few sectors.

Time to bring out the big gun in drive repair I figure. So I booted my Spinrite disk and had it go over the drive. Sure enough, it found a few sectors that were bad, but it was able to recover them. Wish I’d run Spinrite before chkdsk.

Anyway, I restart the computer and it still comes up with the error. The error indicates that the registry is corrupted. I Google “repair corrupt registry” and come up with a Microsoft page. As I scanned the page it looks like exactly what I need.

I also saw this little deal called “Guided Help.” Here’s an excerpt from the paragraph about Guided Help:

Guided Help is available to help recover a corrupted registry that prevents Windows XP from starting. Guided Help can automatically perform the steps for you.

Great. That’ll save me some time. Then I read further:

Requirements to install and to use this Guided Help

  • You must be logged on to Windows by using a computer administrator account to install and to use this Guided Help.
  • You must be running Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition, or Windows XP Tablet PC Edition to install and to use this Guided Help.

Huh? My computer won’t boot into Windows, and Microsoft helpfully has a “guided help” utility that will fix it, but I’ve got to be logged into Windows to use it?

Who checks these things at Microsoft?

I’ve yet to try the solution (either manually or using the “guided help”) as I write this. I’ll update this post (hopefully from the fixed computer) with the outcome.

UPDATE: Well, I tried Microsoft’s solution for this problem. No joy. I tried running the Guided Help version from the recovery console, and surprise! It wouldn’t run. Using the manual version, I was at least able to log into the computer. Now it’s time to move everything to the new computer I built a couple of months ago, and wipe this one (I guess it’s about time; it still has remnants of Windows 98 on it).

August 21, 2007

Little Known Las Vegas Facts Plus Visitor Tips

During our recent trip to Las Vegas, I came across these little known facts about the city. I hope you find them interesting.

  • In a casino, the shortest distance between two points always passes by at least a dozen slot machines.
  • Also, the shortest distance between two points inside a hotel passes by at least two Starbucks.
  • Prices are higher there because, well, they can charge that much and people won’t complain, or if they do complain, what are they going to do?
  • Las Vegas drivers are some of the worst in the world.

And as a first-time visitor to Las Vegas, I had to learn things the hard way. So as a public service, here are some tips on visiting Las Vegas:

  • Wear comfortable shoes. Even if you only stay in one casino, it’ll be huge (at least for the ones on the strip).
  • Everyone has their hand out. Prepare to tip just about everyone, from the bus driver taking you to Hoover dam to the dealer at your poker table. Apparently the casinos can’t afford to pay more than minimum wage.
  • SPF 50 is your friend. Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert. It’s hot and there are generally no clouds. You’ll get serious sunburn if you don’t use sunscreen.
  • High food prices. Being in the middle of a desert, Las Vegas has no agriculture to speak of; all the food comes from California or other states. High demand from all the visitors enables restaurants to charge outrageous prices for food. Stick with the fast food or go downtown for the $5.99 buffets.
  • There are other people visiting there. Strangely enough, you’re not the only one visiting Las Vegas. In light of that, please take these hints to heart:
    • When you’re walking on a sidewalk, don’t just suddenly stop to gawk at something. Someone behind you WILL run into you and be very annoyed. If you have to gawk at something, angle to the side and then stop.
    • When getting on an elevator, wait for it to empty before trying to push your way on through those folks who are trying to get off.
    • The same is true when getting on a bus, but it’s alleviated somewhat by the exit only door in the middle.

Hopefully you’ll take these little tidbits of information in the spirit they were written.

August 20, 2007

San Diego Zoo

During our recent vacation out west, we spent a day at the San Diego Zoo. The world famous San Diego Zoo. The internationally renowned San Diego Zoo. The zoo that provided all the animals for Joan Embry’s visit to Johnny Carson’s show.That zoo.

I don’t know; maybe I expected too much.

We started out on the bus tour, since our tickets included that and unlimited bus rides. Yes, the zoo property is so big you just about have to think about taking a bus from one area to another. Even in the mild 74 degree weather at the beginning of August, the sun beats down on you and makes it hot.

The bus tour takes you through the major areas of the park, and the tour bus driver gives you the rundown on the animals. You don’t see all the animals, but you get a good idea of where you’ll need to trek on foot after the bus tour. After we finished the bus tour, we pretty much just started walking around the perimeter. The map they give you must have been drawn in the monkey house; it was confusing at best.

One disappointment was that a lot of the animals had been moved to the Wild Animal Park several miles away, in preparation for a new exhibit. At a zoo, you’d think it would be for live animals, but here they decide to move live animals to another place (which you have to pay to see) and replace it with a display of dinosaurs. Guess they needed to drive traffic to the new site.

I guess overall the zoo was ok, but as I mentioned above, I probably expected too much. We did get to see some animals that we’d never seen before which was interesting.

I’d say that if you had to choose between the San Diego Zoo and the Wild Animal Park, having never seen the latter, I’d still recommend it; you’re more likely to see “wild animals.”

August 17, 2007

Cirque Du Soleil: LOVE

Last Saturday night, our last night in Las Vegas, we went to see LOVE at the Mirage. Through an incredible coincidence, we were able to get $125 tickets to this show for only $50. We were on the first row of section 207, which was at stage level. It looked like the $150 seats were actually below stage level, albeit closer to the stage.

The show started promptly at 7:00 pm and for the next 90 minutes we were bombarded with everything from roller roller skaters, trampolinists, acrobats, and and dancers, all set to the music of the Beatles.

It’s hard to describe the show. If you go to the show’s web site, they have a miniature preview. Check that out for just a small idea of what goes on during the show.

What struck me during the show was the almost seamless stage changes. One minute there’d be two half-pipes with roller skaters on the stage, and the next minute they’d be gone.

Last year when I heard about this show, and the remix that George and Giles Martin had done on the music, I was somewhat taken aback. My feeling is that once a song is committed to the mastering process, that’s it. I didn’t like it when Alan Parsons messed with his first Project album, Tales of Mystery and Imagination, for the CD release. And Children of the Sun by Billy Thorpe sounded better with the vinyl version as well.

I’d heard the remix last year when the CD came out. It was ok, I thought, but not something I’d go out and buy. But after hearing the music in conjunction with the show, all I can say is, wow. They’ve done things that they couldn’t even think of when the music was recorded. For example, using the original master tapes, they’ve taken a demo of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and used it as the beginning of the song, later merging in the more familiar version.

Now I may end up getting the 5.1 surround sound DVD version of the music.

If you ever get to Las Vegas, by all means try to see this show. Especially if you’re a Beatles fan.