Sunday, June 25, 2006


I lost power last week. Then I got it back, sort of. I got power back to my living room and my kitchen, but not to my bedroom or my bathroom. I thought it was an issue with fuses somewhere in the building. Nope. It was a problem with the power lines coming into the building. This is trange to me because it means my apartment receives its power from two different external sources. Why would you wire an apartment like that? I understand the need for multiple sources for the building, but for my individual apartment?

One theory, the one that is most flattering to the builders, suggests that wiring an apartment to two different power sources means the renter won't lose all power unless both sources are interrupted. But then again, it also means that the renter is guaranteed to lose at least some power every time either source is affected. The situation reminds me of a question my high school boss once asked my brother: If the neighborhood kids are playing baseball, and you are worried that they might break your window, do you open the window, or close it? The answer doesn't matter: if you open the window, you reduce the chance that it will be struck by the ball by half, but double the damage a hit would cause.

In any case, I don't think that's what the builders were doing. I think they just didn't think about it. That would certainly fit the general trend of apparent carelessness.

I like my apartment. It's just the right size for me, in a decent location, and has plenty of parking. However, the general construction and maintenance leaves a little to be desired. For starters, there's basic maintenance carelessness, such as paint on all the hinges, light switches, and electrical outlets (all of which is very easy to avoid). It's been my experience that this is fairly common in apartments, but knowing that does not make it any less disappointing.

Besides the maintenance concerns, however, there's also the matter of the rather strange wiring decisions. For instance, the wiring in the bathroom baffles me. There are two outlets in the bathroom - one attached to the light switch, and one attached to the light. The outlet next to the switch is at the right location for a night light, but not for anything else, not without running an electrical cord across the toilet at any rate. The outlet attached to the light is directly above the sink and so could be used for charging my electric shaver or, if I were so inclined, running a hair dryer or curlers. It is also a pretty good spot for a night light. The problem is this: they are both activated by the light switch. That pretty much eliminates the whole night light idea - and thus any reason to use the outlet next to the switch. It also means I have to leave the bathroom light on if I want to charge my shaver. I'd rather not waste the electricity, so I plug the shaver into the dining room outlet. Since I'm not much for hair dryers or curlers, I haven't used either of the bathroom outlets since I moved in (although there are certainly times I would have appreciated the night light).

Another frustration, I have no real control over my heater or AC. Oh, there's a thermostat, but that just controls a blower. That's useful enough in the summer. In the winter, however, my apartment tends to stay in the eighties with the blowers off and there's nothing I can do about it, besides open the windows. I thought I'd left that behind with college dorms. Oh well.

As I said, I like my apartment, but I'm starting to look forward to a change. I think I'll be getting out of here at just the right time. I'm taking notes on all the little things that bug me about it so I can keep an eye out for them when I go apartment searching in Atlanta.

P.S. Apparently there is yet a third power source for the building that remains unfixed - it is the supply for the air conditioner chiller. Ugh. Yup, looking forward to a new place.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


They say you learn something new every day. It's true. I know. I made a list. Perhaps I was seeking the truth. Perhaps I was just bored. In either case, here are some of the things I have learned in the past few days:

- I do not like parsnips.
- I do not like lamb.
- Cooking with someone else is fun, no matter how the food turns out (actually, I knew this one already).
- Good intentions aren't any more effective than they used to be (that's one of those lessons that needs constant reinforcement for me).
- It IS possible (with a little effort) to buy a card after the holiday has passed.
- I grind my teeth when I'm stressed.
- I really do remember how to make a gant chart.
- My coworker Steve cannot do pushups while Tom is making fart noises.
- Running out of wiper fluid while trying to use it is worse than not having any at all.
- Do not buy donuts after 9PM if you can help it.
- "Sometime soon" is not an acceptable schedule. Be specific or it won't happen.
- I cannot walk into a bookstore without buying something.
- Bob and Jim do not see eye to eye on the "ground under repair" rule in golf. Also, this is a subject that can occupy them for a good hour and a half.
- If you cut your hair, people will finally notice that you shaved your beard.
- A single serving of orange juice will always cost more than you think it should.
- If you cannot come up with a good blog idea, make a list.

P.S. For those of you who enjoy lists - here are two people who have mastered the art of the list: Homestarrunner and David Ives (see the introduction to his collection of plays: All in the Timing)

Sunday, June 11, 2006


We have already established that I am a dork. Part of what that usually entails is an avid love of Star Wars and this is certainly the case for me. I should clarify, however. I love the original Star Wars movies. I love the universe in which they're set, and much of the lore that has been developed for that universe. I love Episode III and tolerate Episodes I and II (while loving the fight scenes found therein). I do not, however, love the remakes of the originals. I would go so far as to say I dislike, perhaps even disdain the remakes.

Honestly, that may have more to do with the historical context of the originals in my life than any real difference in quality. How would I feel if I had seen the remakes first? Hard to say. In any case, I didn't. I saw the originals first. I grew up with them. So naturally I'm inclined to prefer them.

Those of you who follow geek news know where I'm going with this. For the rest of you, here are the relevant facts (with my opinion strewn about liberally amongst them).

George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, has claimed that the remakes are what he intended all along. When the state of the art in filmmaking caught up to his original vision, he finished off what he had started. In his mind, then (and this theory leaves out various cynical marketing considerations) the remakes ARE the movies while the originals are merely a poor first draft. With this in mind, he has steadfastly refused for years to release the original version on DVD (with the deterioration of VHS and laserdiscs, this means that viewable copies of the originals are slowly vanishing and would not be replaced). He vowed he never would, much to the disappointment of the hardcore fans.

These are the people who drove the juggernaut of demand that kept the license alive and flourishing, that allowed Lucas to create the remakes and the prequels in the first place. Their discontent with the remakes is not malice, it's the result of loving a thing for fifteen years. We're talking about CHERISHED movies. What Lucas has been doing (and the geeks are not going to like this analogy) is like taking a favored stuff animal away from a child and telling them they must play with the new one. The new one is just not the same. This isn't the velveteen rabbit, we're not talking about the scarlet fever here. There's no reason "for our own good" to have to take this cherished thing away from us. So, for years many of the fans have been crying out for Lucas to make the originals available.

Now, finally, George Lucas has agreed to release the originals on DVD. Yay, right? Well, not really. See, he hasn't really changed his position on the situation. He does not care for the originals, does not want them out there, and is not putting much effort into doing so. he claims to have "taped over" the original masters (he cut them up in the process of creating the remakes). Therefore, to make this DVD release, he is essentially copying over the laserdisc version. It's not going to be cleaned up, it's not going to be surround sound (which is odd, because the originals were). It's not going to be anamorphic widescreen (which means more to people who own or plan to own a widescreen TV than the rest of us). And, most insulting of all, it's not going to be available without strings - namely an attached copy of the remakes.

That's right - the originals can ONLY be purchased in a bundled pack with the remakes (this setup is actually described as a remake DVD with "bonus material" on the official announcement). This is odd when you consider two things: those of us who WANT the remakes already have them. Those of us who don't want the remakes, you know, don't want the remakes. So by releasing the originals only in a boxed set, Lucas is punishing the loyal fans who support the remakes by making them purchase them again, and he's pissing off the people who are already irritated by making them purchase the very movies that irritated them in the first place.

It's a good deal less odd when you consider two other forces: marketing and ego. In terms of marketing, Lucas has found a way to sell people something they either don't need or don't want. In other words, he has found a way to sell something that would not sell otherwise. From an ego standpoint (and because I fall into the irritated column, I'm going with this as my prime thesis), George Lucas has found a way to keep the "old" version from ever outselling his precious "new" version. Or, in a twist on the same premise, he has found a way to sabotage the sales of the originals and thus "prove" that nobody really wanted them in the first place.

I'm generally inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps too often. In this case, though, I'm having a hard time. I have a hard time believing he could not find a higher quality source, that he could not provide appropriate sound (this is not even the THX remastered sound that came out on VHS), that cleaning up the image would be terribly difficult (one columnist pointed to the recent OZ rerelease as an example of what could be done on that front). And I really can't believe, even for marketing reasons, that it is really necessary to bundle the originals with the remakes. Maybe George Lucas honestly does not understand the desire for the originals (bonus materials?!?!), but this whole operation smacks too much of a stubborn ego reluctant to admit error for me to really believe that.

George Lucas may have been a force for good in this universe once, but he has fallen far. Maybe he'll change his mind. Maybe this is a stopgap measure until the next generation of media arrives (there are signs DVD is about to be surpassed) and he can do it right. Maybe his son will grow up to become a Jedi and redeem the father who has turned to the dark side. That would be nice.

Friday, June 09, 2006


So, uh, I've been telling people for a while that "someday I intend to go to grad school". Well, that statement has been a bit refined and clarified recently.

"Someday" can now be read as "In August" and "grad school" can be taken to mean "the Masters of Industrial Design program at Georgia Tech." Also, while we're at it, replace "intend to go to" with "have been accepted and will be attending." About the only thing that stays unchanged is "I." And honestly, it would be an error to believe that I will be unchanged when all is done. For instance, I suddenly have two months to find the housing, parking, registration, books, supplies, and money I'll need to accomplish this. That's on top of the other activities I already have planned for this summer. Busy times ahead.

Anyway, thought you'd want to know...

Oh, and P.S. if anyone wants to see the portfolio I put together for the application, let me know. It's 3 megs, so be sure your email can handle it before you ask :)

Sunday, June 04, 2006


This past weekend, I attended my five year college reunion.

It was a strange and interesting event. Mmy first official reunion, although it's not the first reunion to which I've been invited. That honor goes to my five year high school reunion. But that one was kind of slapped together at the last minute ("whoever is in town for Christmas, let's all meet at Senor Pancho's") and I already had my plane tickets when the "invitation" came out, so I missed it.

My five year college reunion was a little different. They had both aspirations and a budget to match. It was an Event.

They offered seminars, dinners, brunches, gatherings, dances, and so on. All this came, of course, at a price (considerably greater than, say, Senor Pancho wanted for a pitcher of margartias) but was worth it, even though I skipped out on some of the parties (and consequently missed Alex's proposal to Bonnie, which occuurred during the fireworks - congrats to them!).

I spent much of the weekend showing my girlfriend where I had my classes, where I ate lunch, how far I had to walk between one and the other. She performed a passable imitation of "someone who is not bored" and I certainly appreciate that.

I also introduced her to the various friends, acquaintances, and ne'er do wells who spiced up my college years. These people are the real reason I was there. You know... that whole "reunion" concept. I did not get to see all of the people I wanted to. The only person to show up from my first-year suite was the one person I would have bet money would NOT be there - seeing him was a pleasant surprise, but I missed the others. Fortunately, I did see plenty of other people I had been hoping for, and some I had not thought about in a long time. I was even able to catch up with several others who were in or passing through Charlottesville for other reasons (if I were to run my own personal reunion, it wouldn't be based on which year you graduated...).

Besides the people I knew I knew, I also spent a good deal of time looking around and trying to remember WHY certain other people looked familiar. Did I recognize that guy because we shared classes and projects together, or was it simply because he and I tended to have the same eating schedule and he was always about five places ahead of me in the lunch line? Did I recognize that girl because she was in the beginning karate class I helped teach, or was it simply because she sat next to the cute girl in my comm class who I asked on a date once? One answer meant that person could be approached and engaged in conversation. The other meant they would be weirded out.

I did get into a few of these conversations, the kind where we exchanged earnest updates on our lives and careers since college while one or both of us was furiously struggling to remember what, if any, association we had and when, if ever, we had spoken to each other BEFORE this reunion.

Like I said, a reunion is certainly a strange and interesting event. The atmosphere is certainly unique. There's nothing like a reunion to make everything seem both old and new, both familiar and alien, both cherished and distant - all at once. It's a strange experience and one I recommend heartily/cautiously.