Showing posts from October, 2009

Gas Stations

You live in a town with only one gas station, which sits on one corner of a crossroad. As this is the only gas station in the town, you are at the mercy of whatever the owner charges for gas.

Soon, a second gas station is put up on the corner opposite. The first gas station owner now has competition and must be more careful with raising rates and being competitive with amenities and other considerations, or you will start getting gas from the other gas station. However, there is still some chance for collusion between the two, as they are the only game in town and might find ways between themselves to increase their profits at the expense of the people who live there.

The town continues to grow and soon a third gas station is built on the third corner of the crossroad. Now, both existing gas station owners have competition from another gas station. The opportunities for collusion go down with more diverse ownership, and the competition for customers goes up. The people of the town have …

Random Thoughts

It personally pleases me whenever a public figure actually speaks his or her mind and uses "inappropriate" language. Political Correctness has been the norm for far too long and I am just waiting for the day someone uses a term like "faggot," acknowledges the use of the word, and then does NOT apologize for it or "go to rehab for anger issues." Yes, he or she will have some backlash at first. But when a movie company wants to sell tickets, that person will be hired. When a team wants to win, that person will have a job. And, you know what? They will be successful, the people will mostly forget or forgive, and those who were somewhat offended by the use will realize that life went on. If the person continues on that path and if people are truly offended, they will stop seeking out that person's products, team, or whatever. Why can't we admit that many of these words are simply ways to vent anger and frustration and move on? Why can't we hurt fe…

Marathon Man

So the dream I dreamed all night long involved me having a secret Macguffin of some sort and running from those who wanted it. And by running I mean the dream started in something that looked a lot like my home town area of 29 Palms and ended with me still hiding out in someplace cold and very wet, much like where I live now.

The upshot of all this is that I am now awake, my body is sore as hell, and I'm tired. There is nothing worse than waking up from a "good night's rest" tired. And by a good night's rest I mean that I went to bed at a decent time, fell asleep at a decent time, and slept the entire night through. But I'm so damn tired now, in the morning, and feel beat up from the many harrowing escapes, runs, and fights I was in to keep the mysterious Macguffin from "their" hands.

I can barely twist side to side because my ribs ache so much. Both hands and wrists are sore from the bare knuckle fights I had along the way. And my feet and legs are s…

First Flame

It got cold enough in the house yesterday that I went down to the basement, clear some things away from the stove, and lit our first fire of the winter to warm things up. I didn't make a "John-special" that would drive us out of the house with heat; my goal was to start it around 2:30 pm, tend it until around 7-8 pm, and then let it die down. I figured the residual heat and the fact it was supposed to be a little warmer and dryer today would carry us.

My wife was sure happy to come home to a warmer house. When it gets down to around 20 C she starts complaining, and the last few days have been low 19s, so she's been making a lot of comments. When she got home yesterday, it was 23 C.

The tending plan worked well; it was still plenty warm last night when we went to bed, even though I had stopped looking after things at around 8. This morning, sure enough, the house is still pretty warm with most of the house registering in the 21-22 C range.

I don't think we'll be …

Musically Inclined

M and I have come to the belief that most artists today don't know a) how to finish their songs and b) when to finish them either.

I am a big fan of Prince. I've enjoyed his music from the early 80s on. However, the vast majority of his songs are between 1 and 2 minutes too long. He lingers. He gets lost in the guitar strokes and carries them well past when they are viable. And he's not alone.

I can't tell you how often I get the inkling to flip the station after about 3 minutes of a song. I'm not saying these are bad songs; quite the contrary, many of today's songs I find quite worthwhile and filled with meaning. But the artists drive that point home with one two many repeats of the refrain, one too many guitar, drum, or keyboard solos, or way too many nonsense lyrics, grunts, and moans.

I'm not a big fan of the Beatles, or Elvis. I respect them, of course, but just never found their music or their points to be relevant to me. However, especially their earlie…


Recently, SJ had a severe down pour that lasted about two and a half days of nearly constant rain. A few days ago, I was sitting in the office with the window slightly open (the office gets very warm and stuffy) and M had gone to bed.

I heard some strange sounds from outside the window. I couldn't place them, so I moved to the bathroom window to get a better look but did not see anything. Returning to my chair in the office, I heard strange sounds again. This time I moved to the larger windows on the double-doors in our kitchen and looked out. I noticed that Romy was sitting looking out the windows intently.

This is what caused me to stop looking out into the yard for whatever I heard and instead look where Romy was looking... and directly on the other side of the glass was a a large, cat-like face wearing a mask looking back first at Romy and then at me!

I flipped on the light and found three raccoons on the porch outside our kitchen doors. I would guess two of the three to be about…

Where The Wild Things Are

Taking a book that is some ten lines long and turning it into a 90 minute movie is a challenge. Having that book be beloved by millions makes it doubly difficult. In most respects, Spike Jonze has succeeded.

In the book, Max is mischievously bad. He acts up and his mother sends him to bed without dinner. There, his imagination takes over and he "sails" to a land of the Wild Things where he is soon crowned King and leads them in a wild rumpus. However, he soon grows lonely and homesick and "returns" from that land to his bedroom to find that his mother has set out his dinner, still hot. Basically, it shows that, even if his mother has to punish him for being bad, she always loves him.

In the movie, Max comes from a family of divorce, whose father is absent, sister ignores him and wants to be with kids her own age, and whose mother is overworked and stressed out. He acts out in ways that are not mischievous; he directly opposes his mother and physically attacks her, bi…

The Pass-Thru's the Thing

We have a rather complicated setup with our electronics in the front room of our house in order to get cable, our DirecTV, and TiVo to all function at the same time. One thing that made this slightly better was finding and purchasing a special pass-through cabel from Paterson Technology. This device hooks up from the TiVo USB to the DirecTV USB slot and changes the channels correctly for us.

The great thing about the Paterson pass-thru device is that you can flash the ROM on it and set it to redirect what the TiVo sends to the correct channel on the DirecTV. This was important when we got the HD receiver in that room, as we only have Standard channels via DirecTV and that meant that every channel that the TiVo turned to that had both an HD and an SD channel option needed to be redirected to the SD channel for us to view it. In other words, TNT is channel 245. However, the HD is 245 (1) and the SD is 245 (2). So if the TiVo changed to channel 245 without the pass-thru cable, we got 245 …