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March 2005 - Posts

The Amazing Race, Episode V

Call this episode the Amazing Accidents.  CBS crammed in two episodes this week.  My memory is also hazy since I'm writing this a few hours after the show aired so this recap will be brief(-ish).

Rob & Amber start out with a good lead but it's all for nothing because the great equalizer called the airport comes into play.  Every team catches the same plane out of South America -- finally -- and end up in South Africa.  A lot of stuff happens on the way to a spelunking detour, the site of the first accident.  Teams have to go into a cave and find a clue, not too hard really, but Joyce, of team Meredith & Joyce, has a fall and ends up bleeding from her head :(.  Luckily she's alright and her team continues on.  There's one of those heart-warming moments when the teams have to go to an orphanage and give gifts to kids, even more so for Uenchenda (sp) and his partner.  She can't have kids for some reason so seeing all the adoptable kids makes her cry and ponder over adopting after the show's over.  Rob & Amber's star power from Survivor comes into play yet again as a local recognizes her and volunteers to help her and Rob all the way to a 5th place finish.  Apart from this every thing is pretty much straightforward for the first half of the show, but Meredith & Joyce's stumble in the caves cost them and they end up last.  Luckily, or maybe not quite so, this is a non-elimination round so they get to stay in it.  The show changes the rules some every season it seems and now the punishment for coming in last on a non-elimination round is not only do you lose all your money but you also lose all your stuff!  Whoa, talk about a killer penalty: being in a foreign land with no money and nothing but the clothes on your back and your passport.

The next half starts with the teams feeding meat to hungry lions; smart eh.  No one gets eaten by the lions so off they race to the next challenge.  The teams are riding in Hummers but the brothers kind of lose control of their vehicle and they flip over!  The brothers are okay but their cameraman is hurt; luckily he ends up being okay too.  Every team that passes by stops or at least asks if they are okay except for Rob & Amber.  Now this is a race so it's understandable that they didn't stop, but at least they could've slowed down some and asked if they were okay.  Oh well, like I said, this is a race.  Ray & Deena are a couple you know are going to have problems after the show because they bicker a lot.  Ray is very competitive and Deena is too but just not quite so much.  These two have a tough time grinding corn at one challenge on the way to the pit stop, enough time to give the brothers an opportunity to catch up.  So we end up with a good old fashioned foot race to the finish.  Normally the show likes to exaggerate time differences between the last two teams running to the finish, making it seem like there's a race when in fact there isn't.  This time; however, there is literally a race to the finish and you can see the two teams sprinting.  The brothers, being younger, manage to outrun Ray & Deena who come in last and get eliminated.  Now that was an amazing race, yuck yuck :-P.

How to drive like an idiot

This is probably going to become a series regular here.

The one thing I don't get is why people slow down before getting into their turn lane.  Why don't they move into their turning lane and then decelerate.  This will keep the traffic behind the person going smoothly without requiring them to brake and slowing up me and everyone else.

Oh, and there's nothing worse than being at a light waiting for the car coming towards you to pass so you can turn left.  It's even worse when they put their left turn signal on right as their turning!  WTF!!  What's the point in putting on your goddamn turn signal if you do it right as you're turning!!  Turn signals are like telepathy for the road, they let other people know what you're going to do so they don't have to spend extra time on their lunch break waiting for you to pass when you're not planning to because you're just going to turn to the left too!!  Grrr.

Monitor buying guide (Shadow Mask vs Aperture Grille)

My search for a replacement monitor continues; I am now on my third replacement monitor.  If you'll recall from my last buying guide I was using a Samsung SyncMaster 997DF.  I was able to adjust the moire enough so that it wasn't that big of a big deal to me but one problem that I didn't mention drove me crazy: halos appear around light-colored images.  What happens is this.  You have a lot of dark colors, say a web page with a black background, and you have another area with significant contrast difference, say an area with a lot of white like a toolbar or a Notepad window.  I could see halos around the white area onto the black area!  Probably the area where this showed up the most was on web pages with dark backgrounds and the scrollbar; since the scrollbar is usually light in color I could see a long sliver of haze to the left of it :(.  The constant buzzing noise the monitor emitted I could get used to, but these halos are a no-no.

Thinking this monitor was just defective I've decided to try out another monitor, this time the ViewSonic G90fb.  This is like the Samsung in many ways; it's a 19" CRT.  Having been burned by the Samsung I immediately know what to look out for now.  This monitor has some moire problems but I could adjust them out of the way so no biggie.  But, and this is a huge but, this monitor has the same halo effect that the Samsung has!  Gasp, shock, horror.  How could ViewSonic, a brand I love and trust deliver such a shoddy monitor to me :(.  Well I think I've figured it out: it's using a shadow mask.  Before I get into this I'll say that this monitor is an improvement over the Samsung as lines are a lot sharper with it, it doesn't take so freakin' long to come out of power save mode, and there's no buzzing noise with it.

Now, shadow masks, the bane of monitors if you ask me.  CRTs are going the way of the dodo by the looks of it if you walk into any electronics store, but CRTs are still superior to LCDs when image quality is of concern.  There are two major technologies used with CRTs to produce images: shadow masks and aperture grilles.  Shadow masks have a perforated screen that lets light shine through, aperture grilles use tiny vertical wires that serve the same purpose.  Aperture grilles need horizontal wires to hold up this grille so if you've ever used a monitor and saw one or two faint horizontal lines going across it you were looking at a monitor using an aperture grille.  The Samsung I was using and this ViewSonic are both shadow mask monitors however and they suck!  I'm just speculating but I think the circular holes used in shadow masks allows a bleed-through effect to occur between neighboring pixels, which might explain the halos I see.  I've also pointed these halos out to others who use shadow mask monitors -- they rarely know they're using a shadow mask monitor -- but when I point this out they notice it.  My other monitor was a 17" ViewSonic and it used aperture grille technology and images on it were very very sharp.  I use a Mitsubishi Diamondtron monitor at work and I am simply spoiled by the clarity of these monitors.  BTW, Trinitron, Vivitron, Diamondtron, Voltron -- get the pattern -- are all brand names for aperture grilles; well, except for Voltron which is a really cool 80s anime show :).

At this point in time I am now swearing off shadow mask monitors with a passion, the only monitors good enough for me are aperture grille monitors, that's it!  Man, I am one picky son-of-a-bitch.  I've also realized why these 19" monitors I've been trying are lighter than my old 17".  Yep, you guessed it, shadow mask versus aperture grille.  Apparently the vertical wires in aperture grilles need a lot of weight to hold them in place so monitors using them weigh a good bit more than monitors using shadow masks.  My 17" ViewSonic PT775 weighs about 46 pounds whereas this ViewSonic G90fb weighs 42 and the Samsung 997DF weighs 40.  So even though these new monitors are two inches larger they weigh less.  Oh, and aperture grilles cost more too.  I'm now leaving the $200 price range behind and am eying the $300 price range now since I'm sold on aperture grilles.  Not too bad though when you consider cheap entry-level LCDs cost about this much, but at this price range I get really good CRTs.

Posted: Tue, Mar 29 2005 1:54 AM by Humpty | with 4 comment(s)
Filed under:
Je ne sais pas

It's occurred to me that I really don't know much.  It's taken some time to realize this; but, the more things I do come to understand the more I understand what I don't know.  That's not really a contradiction.  I guess it's like my knowledge is revealing certain things to me, the things I know, but there's a pattern of sorts to the knowledge.  It travels a perimeter around something and it's that something that I don't know.  This hole, whatever it is, has always been there but it was never apparent as such.  I've had to map it out, so to speak.  Just so you know this hole concerns myself.  I don't know about myself.

As I was writing the above I started thinking about borders.  I live on a border between states, my birth time puts me on the border between two zodiac signs, a friend of mine who's more psychically in-tune than myself identified me as being on the border between two living states.  Hmm, another piece of the map to figuring out myself.  Sometimes you have to see something enough times before you start to take notice.  Patterns.  What am I telling myself with this message of borders, I wonder...

It's good to ask for what you want.

Name that Tune

Let's have fun.  I'll link to a small song sample and you guess the artist and song title, just comment to this entry.  After a few days I'll post the answer.  I just like music so this is my way to spread my music preference to others, hehe :)

Name that Tune

Maxthon the Great!

With all the hype surrounding Firefox you'd think it was the Second Coming or something.  I feel it is my sacred duty as a blogger to help balance the forces that seek to tip the balance of browser usage :).  Firefox isn't that bad, the thing I don't like about it isn't the browser, but all the hype surrounding it.  It's a freakin' browser, that's all!  This has got to be the most over-hyped product I've ever come across.  There's a quasi-religion around it; you dare not speaketh any evils about Firefox lest the standards zealots come knocking at your door and hang you by your gonads.  Maybe I've just been reading too much anti-Microsoft spiel over at the Firefox forums but I just have to say something about the browser state of affairs.

Most people probably don't care what browser they use and most just use whatever's on their computer, which means you're probably using Internet Explorer (IE).  Now if you're like me you probably love to try out new things, in this case new browsers.  I've used the following browsers at some point in time: Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape 7, Maxthon, IE, SlimBrowser, Opera, and Avant Browser.  After using all of them I settled on Maxthon.  Wanna know why?  Quite simply it combines all the features I'm looking for in a browser.

The main thing I want as a browser of the Web is to be able to view pages, I don't give a shit about standards.  As long as a page looks good to me I'm happy.  Of the browsers I listed there are really only 3 browser engines among them.  As I'm defining it, a browser engine is the part of the browser that actually renders the page for you.  It's becoming common for browser engines to be componentized; basically someone can develop a different exterior around the browser engine.  You may or may not know that IE is a browser engine, the actual program called IE is itself a shell around the engine; Maxthon, Avant Browser, and SlimBrowser are all shells around IE.  Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape 7 are all shells around the Gecko rendering engine.  And Opera is just Opera :).  I'm only going through this little lesson about browsers to make a point about why I like Maxthon.  Because it is a shell around IE I get all the rendering of IE but with a lot of extra features that Maxthon provides.  And for better or worse many sites just look better in IE, so by using Maxthon I get sites that look really good, and the goodies I love.

And the goodies in Maxthon are pretty much what you'd find in Firefox: tabbed browsing, popup blocking, ad blocking, mouse gestures, skins, and extensions.  So with Maxthon I get the best that Firefox has to offer but with the benefit that pages that look best in IE render their best.    Now you might hear some people exclaim that Firefox is way better than IE in terms of security.  Well, maybe.  You see, something a lot people fail to mention when it comes to comparing Firefox's security with IE's is that a lot of IE's problems can be simply turned off.  Yes, you don't have to switch your entire browser to get a more secure browsing experience, you can just turn off the potentially troublesome parts.  I don't know how this has failed to be mentioned.  You have a problem with cookies on your computer?  Go to the options in IE and block them.  Don't like ActiveX, go to the options in IE and turn that off.  Some of IE's problems are due to its popularity though.  Hackers target the biggest payload, and with IE having about 90% of the browser marketplace hacking IE is profitable.  If Firefox ever gets more popular it'll become a more tempting target for hackers too, and much of the rhetoric currently spewed against IE will be applicable to Firefox too.

So in conclusion, use Maxthon, it's cool :).

Posted: Thu, Mar 24 2005 12:11 AM by Humpty | with 6 comment(s)
Filed under: ,
The Amazing Race, Episode IV

Before I complain about the country that we're in I must say something first:

Rob is the man!

Whew, just had to get that out of my system :).  Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah, bitching about the country we're in.  You know, normally, not always but most times, every week we're taken to a different country.  Not this time.  Not only is this the fourth week with us being stuck in South America but we're in the same friggin' country this time!  What the hell.  If I'm not taken to another country, no, another continent by next week I'm going to demand a refund! :P

This leg of the race starts out with the teams having to ride horses.  What to say, some teams do well, some teams suck.  It's very hard not to turn this race into the Rob & Amber story because they pull off a miracle of sorts.  If you'll recall from last time Rob decided to forfeit doing a challenge and accept a time penalty which ultimately put him behind the first place team by a few hours, not good in this race.  But I have to say, Rob is good, and damned lucky.  He rides his horse through the course really well and even the "judge" says perfect when he's done.  I don't get it, the guy's good at seemingly everything.  Anyway, he gets lucky in that he makes it onto a plane that the first four teams are riding on.  The plane was scheduled to depart at 9:30am but the ticket handler decides to let him board when he and Amber get there at 9:30!  They even got lost on the way to finding the horse roadblock too but they still manage to board the plane.

Now here's the good part.  All four teams kind of have it out for Rob & Amber so they were gloating about Rob & Amber not making it, talking about it's always good to complete challenges and whatnot because look at where we are and look at where Rob & Amber aren't.  So it's funny when they're all in shock and disbelief that Rob & Amber board the plane with them :D!  Suffice it to say that Alex & Lynn, the two who hate Rob & Amber the most, are not pleased at all to see them.  Seeing their faces drop was almost worth the pain of being stuck in South America again :).

After this Rob & Amber manage to stay in first the entire way and win this leg of the race.  Alex & Lynn take the place Rob & Amber had last time and come in fifth.  The challenge that kind of killed some teams was the detour challenge where the teams had to navigate in a speedboat to find either a shipwreck or a marked island.  Some teams had their rafts mess up on them because they were going too fast.  The old couple team, Meredith and somebody, were kind of clueless and followed Ray & Deana away from the marked island thinking that following someone is a wise idea, not.  Ray has a rather intense personality and absolutely hates being in a group with the bottom-feeders, he takes it as a personal offense to lose to the two teams behind him.  Luckily his own screwups are less severe than the other two teams and he and his partner manage to beat them.

The 12th house

I had an astrological chart drawn up for myself a few years ago.  I'm into this stuff and I've always read that the daily horoscopes you read in the newspaper or on web sites aren't really accurate because they're not tailored for you.  So I figured I'd get a chart tailored just for me and see if it was any more accurate than the daily horoscope stuff I had seen.

It was interesting reading.  The one thing I noticed is that I have three planets in the twelfth house.  If you're not up on your astrology terminology I'll surmise what a house is by saying it's an area of space a planet appears in during the Earth's 24 hour rotation.  Roughly speaking the first house equates to the beginning of the day and the twelfth corresponds to the ending of the day.  Each house colors the qualities of the planet that is in it.  According to the chart that I have the twelfth house is like a hidden house, repression of energies; planets in this house will tend to suppress their qualities in the person.  And I have three in this house, the most of the twelve houses :(.

So what does this mean?  Well, it means I'm up shit's creek, that's what.  Lots-o-repression for me according to my natal, astrological birth, chart.  Now astrology influences, it doesn't control, so it's not like I'm at the mercy of this house.  What it does mean though is that I have a lot influences leading me to suppress myself.  It could be said that astrology works because it's vague enough that it can fit any person.  It's possible; I won't claim to be an astrological guru.  What I can say is that it is true that I do have rather escapist tendencies.

Suicide has been an on-going problem for me practically since I was born.  I first tried when I was 8-years-old.  I really couldn't tell you what precipitated it but it happened.  I was in therapy with my mom early on in my life; and honestly, I never quite realized at the time why I was seeing these people who were so nice to me and asking me questions...  Such has been my life.  Obviously if I'm writing this I have yet to go through with this, but I can no longer deny that this is a part of me.  Not because of my natal chart, but because I recently flirted with the idea again.  I can't speak for everyone, but for me, for some reason, it's as alluring an action as aggression might be to others.

I'm kind of stable at the moment though.  After going through enough cycles of "do it" and "don't do it" throughout my life I'm starting to settle down out of frustration.  I felt that calm centered Buddha-like feeling, that I mentioned once before, today.  I used to try and deny this suicidal part of me, sometimes unknowingly, but when you move close to considering a final exit you tend to get really honest with yourself.  It's almost like yin and yang, white and black, night / day, you get the idea.  They're living together now, inside me.  The urge to quit is just as strong as the urge to try, but neither is winning fighting each other.  So today I'm accepting them both.  What choice do I have: I won't kill myself even though I continually think about it.  I wouldn't say the feeling was calm so much as a perfectly balanced dynamic tension.  Both forces are active within me, I feel it, but nothing's happening.  Oddly enough, I smiled today for the first time in a long time.  I still have pain though.

As an aside, there's a stigma to talking about suicide I've noticed.  I feel a bit embarrassed and exposed writing this.  I mean, who wants to be around a suicidal person...  Who wants to be seen as someone who can't get their life together... :(  Maybe it's just me, I don't know.

Posted: Mon, Mar 21 2005 10:26 PM by Humpty | with 39 comment(s)
Filed under:
Terri Schiavo

I've been living under a rock the past couple of weeks and never heard of this lady, but I kept seeing the name Schiavo amongst my top stories links on the portal I use to get news, so I figured it was time to check out just who this chick was and why she was making headline news.

Oh my All-That-Is!  It's a case of legalized euthanasia, again.  Geez, this country, America.  Why is Congress getting involved in the fight to keep this lady alive?  We have a war in Iraq going on, record deficits, and whatnot but this case about one lady makes headlining news!  The Republicans are even convening special Sunday sessions, pledging to come in the minute after midnight on Monday to discuss it, President Bush is cutting short his stay at his Texas home to be able to quickly sign any bill Congress passes in favor of keeping Terri alive, wtf!  I wonder how many other families are going through this same situation right now, or have been, but weren't able to get practically the entire country involved.

Now I'm not some big meany I'm just saying our government has more pressing matters to attend to than pushing political agendas.  Tom DeLay in particular has been rather active in this, according to what I've read.  In case you don't know about him he's been under increasing scrutiny over abuse of power and is taking a lot of heat in Washington.  I wouldn't be surprised if he's using this case to soften his image.  Politics...

On a more philosophical note, whose right is it to decide what a person can do with his/her own body?  The person, the person's spouse, the person's parents?  Looking past all the political maneuvering, this is the real issue.  See, Terri never said on paper what her wishes were if she were to be in a situation where she was being artificially kept alive for 15 years.  So since she didn't state this that opened the door for a lot of fighting between her husband, who contends Terri wouldn't want to be maintained as a vegetable, and her parents, who want to do anything to keep their daughter alive.  I can see both sides of the argument and it's a shame, really, Terri isn't coherent enough to say what she feels either way because that would quickly put an end to all this mess.

Personally, I think this is a family matter and it should stay that way.  All the special one-time laws being written to keep her alive is crazy man, it's just crazy!  Once it left the arena of the family, and politicians came in, this moved from being a family matter and became a political sounding board used to further agendas and careers.  This is what taxes go for...

Posted: Sun, Mar 20 2005 5:30 PM by Humpty
Filed under:
On eyes and nearsightedness

I was talking to a friend about my new monitor and mentioned I can see text at 1600x1200 resolution clearer than my other monitor.  She has a 19" monitor too but keeps it at 1024x768 resolution because she sits back further from her monitor than I do.  She said one reason is that she can't see things when they're too close because they start to look blurry.  She has clear vision without the need of prescription lenses, like I need.  I however am nearsighted and I can clearly read things that are right up to my nose.  We speculated that the same thing that allows me to see so clearly close up is the same reason I'm nearsighted.  Kind of a different approach to myopia, nearsightedness.  I've been like this for so long I've forgotten that it was probably tough for me to see clearly so close up.

She mentioned another interesting tidbit too: her left eye sees less clearly than her right.  I had the same problem for a long time myself, my left eye was weaker than my right.  And since I've started doing eye exercises I've come across this fact more in other people, that the left eye of a person is usually weaker than their right.  There's gotta be something to this.  Why is the left eye so prone to being weaker than the right?

Expectations (Volume 1)

If you've ever read or watched the Dune series -- you know, about spice and worms -- you'll likely be familiar with the phrase, "Fear is the mind killer".  That is a true statement, another true statement is, "Expectations are the relationship killer".  I touched on this in another blog entry and said it might be more suited to a separate entry, well, here it is.

What should be, what shall be, what is.  Shoulds and should nots, where do they come from?  They come from them.  But who are them?  There's this mythical entity called them to which many many things are attributed. "They say that fiber is good for you".  "They say that cell phones can cause tumors in the brain".  "They say...".  They say a lot, whether true or not.

Sometimes they are readily identifiable, other times less so.  The one constant is that they are almost never identified as any specific person or persons.  People say things, not they, people with faces, people with lives, people with names.  But we refer to them as they.  They are where expectations come from.  Perhaps not entirely due to any overt action they take though.  In fact, it really isn't them that's at fault for expectations it's you, or me.  I mean, no one can, as far as I know, reprogram your brain so that you conflict with yourself.  But they do make a compelling case for whatever it is that they are promoting.

We're like sponges in a sense, absorbing from our surroundings, taking in things.  We have our own ideas about things, other people do too.  When we come in contact with some idea, wherever it may have originated from, it becomes a part of us to some degree.  Now the idea could remain on the fringes of our awareness and we'll just retain the awareness of it and not much else.  On the other extreme the idea could be allowed entry into our awareness, interacting with any other ideas that live within us.  This is the beginning of expectation: the entry of an idea.  Naturally, only certain ideas would fit the bill of being expectations; you can normally spot them by the word "should".

Expectations are what they are though because of their message and more specifically, their interaction with you.  The message that you must or must not do something which abrades you.  If you agreed with the idea then it wouldn't conflict in any way, it would still be an expectation of sorts, but not the kind I'm interested in here.  That there's any friction at all is a sign there are two or more differing ideas within yourself.  But that is a good step in identifying expectations, being aware of internal friction or disharmony.  Heh, a virulent idea, an expectation.

Posted: Sat, Mar 19 2005 3:53 PM by Humpty
Filed under:
...are the regrets of maturity.

When I was younger I used to have ideas for how my life would be when I was older; now that I am older I think back on these ideas I used to have.

I thought that I would be married by now.  By and large in terms of relationships I've always been shy and afraid, but there was always this thought in my head that by the time I'm in my mid-twenties I would be over it.  But you know what I forgot to do between then, as a 15-year-old, and now as a 27-year-old?  I forgot to actually do something about it!

Yes, taking action is the one thing I have never quite developed a skill for.  Ideas remained fantasies in my head, incorporeal, no substance.  It's easy to put things off I've learned, even for years.  It's a matter of laziness really, but more specifically there's this latent idea I have that things I want will just happen without any effort at all on my part.  It's kind of strange really, because normally I wouldn't think like this, I would expect that I would have to do something.  But if I step back for a bit and look at my life in total I have to admit that I have had plenty of opportunities to be with women, even though I hardly ever make the first move.  So I guess in regards to me having the opportunities, I get them without any undue effort; capitalizing on them is the problem.

As I get older I get more reflective; I have enough life experience to ponder over, to sift through.  Kind of like going back to your parent's house, looking in the attic and looking at the things you collected as a child.  The same events, and things, suddenly have an extra quality to them: the perspective of the adult.  Kind of like how an oyster adds layers to a pearl.  This year is definitely my looking back year, reckoning with myself.

I can more clearly see now why I've always had such trouble with women.  There's been an everpresent, latent, fear I've had.  I take on other people's ideas of how relationships should be, the "proper" way to behave in them, the things you "have" to do and not do; there's no room for me really.  I think now that I'm kind of past the relationship feeding frenzy of sorts, with most people my age already paired up, I feel like I can finally relax.  There's less attention paid my way by women now, I don't feel like I have to act in such and such way as much anymore.  I could've been more free before, but, it's hard I guess with all the expectations that you have to pair up by the time you're 24 or 25.

I think I'll stop now, I'm starting to ramble.  Besides, I'm moving into subject matter that would probably be better addressed in a separate blog entry.

Posted: Sat, Mar 19 2005 1:59 PM by Humpty
Filed under:
Monitor buying guide (CRT vs LCD)

Slow day in Blogville.  I haven't had much to really write about, and hey, no one really reads this anyway so I guess it doesn't matter too much.

My old ViewSonic PT775 17" monitor has started acting funky on me.  The screen will rush towards me and fade away, never to return.  I can usually get it back after about 2 - 5 minutes of turning it on and off, unplugging the VGA cable, and unplugging the power cable.  The problem's getting worse so I decided it was time to get a new monitor.

First up, the LG L1920P.  This is a 19" LCD monitor that's actually not terribly bad.  My main gripe though is that the response time was too slow, 25ms.  That's actually a decent response time if you're not going to do anything involving fast action with your computer, like games, animation, and whatnot.  Since this was to be my home machine I was pretty picky.  I played a game of Unreal Tournament 2004 on it and it played well enough to me.  Most hardware sites say a monitor with a response time of 16ms is needed for games, but I think it's all subjective; what's good for one person may be bad for another and vice versa.  The thing that really killed me on it though were the colors and yeah, response time.  I'll admit I could see better colors with it over my aging ViewSonic, but still, some colors just looked washed out.  But the main killer is response time.  I was looking at a song ticker scroll by in MediaMonkey -- a really cool music player -- and I could see the individual positions of the ticker!  I showed this to a co-worker of mine who has a different flat panel, a Dell UltraSharp 1900FP, and her eyes were hurting.  No, I want smooth animation, bye bye LG.  Luckily Best Buy has a 14-day return policy :).  Note, do not fall for their 3-year service plan pitch, I did and I'm ashamed of it :(. haha.

Well, that monitor didn't work but I need a monitor that's reliable, so back to Best Buy we go.  Now I have done research on the Internet but you gotta love that 14-day return policy :).  I've now sworn off LCD flat panels: images look worse than CRTs in my opinion and who the fuck cares about radiation with all the cell phones and microwaves we use nowadays.  Now I have a Samsung SyncMaster 997DF.  This is a 19" CRT that is actually lighter than my 17" monitor!  New technology is grand, isn't it.  Well, what can you say about a CRT: it's big, clunky, makes a buzzing noise, and has moire problems on the left side of the screen.  Oh, and the power save light isn't a solid amber color, it flashes green!  Okay, I am really picky.  Despite some apparent flaws it's not bad at all.  Again, colors look better on this than my other monitor.  I'm starting to think my other monitor just wasn't showing colors well anymore, ya think.  This monitor is bright too.  I currently have the brightness set at 20%, contrast at 100%, and it's still bright.  The buzzing noise I mentioned isn't that bad, it's akin to hearing your computer's fan spin all the time, after a while it becomes background noise -- I will adapt.  Now the moire problem, hmm, that's a toughy.  This monitor was cheap at $200 -- relatively speaking perhaps -- so I can't really complain too much.  In case you don't know what bad moire is, and I didn't at first, basically straight lines look fuzzy.  This only occurs on the middle left portion of the screen though.  I have 14 days to decide if I want to keep this monitor, hehe, but I'm starting to feel a bit of guilt over the thought of returning it, I don't want Best Buy to think I'm taking advantage of their great 14-day return policy :).

I will say that all the hoopla over flat panel LCDs over big bulky CRTs is nonsense to me.  Yeah LCDs are thinner and look sexier, but what the hell, images look worse on them!  Everything looks pixelated, many have washed out colors, animation is choppy...  Current 19" CRT monitors are not that heavy, and not that bulky, well this Samsung isn't anyway.  I'll take a CRT monitor over an LCD at the moment.  Sure, there are good LCDs out there but I'm not willing to shell out enough money for a new computer just for a monitor.

Posted: Sat, Mar 19 2005 5:18 AM by Humpty | with 1 comment(s)
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The Amazing Race, Episode III

Okay, has the Amazing Race production company run out of traveling funds or something!?  Again we're in South America!  Not that I have anything against South America but I thought this was supposed to be a show where we traveled the world, not one continent!  After Peru and then Chile, now we're next door in Argentina.  If this pattern holds we'll be in Uruguay next week, oy.

Interesting show this week, and of course the star is unquestionably Boston Rob.  I can't say enough about him, but I will try :).  The race starts off with the teams, racing.  They get to some checkpoint and discover it doesn't open until 5 AM but with the teams leaving as early as 12:30 AM or so they have to piddle around.  Debbie & Bianca -- I remembered their names, yay -- decide to go to a hotel and ask for directions.  The same hotel Rob & Amber decided to sleep at for a while.  (Cue the danger music).  Well, Rob & Amber stroll on by the outside of the hotel with the girls of the other team still visible through the glass doors in the hotel lobby.  They had taken a cab to the place and told the guy to wait; Rob & Amber didn't have a cab.  (Cue the danger music).  Now if you've been following my episode guides you should know what happens next.  Yes, Rob bribes the cab driver to leave the other team and steals their cab!  Wonderful, Rob is the man :).  What's even better is that the other team never finds out why their cab driver just left them -- well, according to what it is shown on TV.

Next up we have some driving through the Andes mountain range to a detour.  Most everyone does the rafting except for one team, the brothers.  Now I like Rob & Amber, I watched them scheme on three seasons of Survivor so I've grown fond of them; but why do the other teams have it out for them? I mean all they did was win a million bucks on one show and now they're trying to win another million on this one, geez, I just don't get it...  Alex & Lynn are a gay couple -- and no this isn't really important but I'm telling you anyway.  Alex & Lynn also have some major pettiness issues when it comes to Rob & Amber.  Aside from the detour there was also a Yield, which means a team can force another team to wait.  Alex & Lynn made it clear they, and apparently the other teams, all agreed to use it on Rob & Amber if they got there before those two.  Luckily however, Rob & Amber were in first so they couldn't be yielded. Haha.

This is a new paragraph but I'm still on the subject of Rob & Amber hating.  In this detour almost everyone chose to raft a few miles in a river.  Although Rob & Amber were in first Alex & Lynn were close behind so when the two teams got in the river there was the potential for a river race.  Spotting an opportunity to beat Rob & Amber Alex & Lynn gave it their all to get in front of Rob & Amber, and they did too!  Well, I like Rob & Amber but I'll give a team credit when it's due: good job Alex & Lynn, you finally got your wish and beat them :).

New bat paragraph, same bat subject.  Next challenge, eat till you puke.  Every reality show has to have some eating challenge where you have to eat something foul and nasty.  I'll spare you the details and just say at least this time the food didn't move :).  There was a lot of food to eat here, so much so Rob gave up.  Now he's smart and a master schemer so he didn't just give up without a plan.  The Amazing Race rules state that if a team doesn't complete a challenge they have a 4 hour waiting penalty which starts as soon as the next team arrives.  After giving up Rob convinces not one, but two teams to give up and wait with him!  So what happens is that even though Rob has given up and has a 4 hour penalty he's convinced other teams to wait with him, which more-or-less prevents him from being eliminated since he'll be ahead of them.  I must say, the guy is smart.

Four teams actually do manage to finish the eating challenge and so they all get ahead of Rob & Amber, who come in fifth.  But this win was extra special for the winning team: Alex & Lynn!  Yep, the two who have a passion for Rob & Amber hating had lightening strike twice and beat them again, this time winning this leg of the competition.  I think Phil, the host, likes Rob & Amber though because he didn't give Alex & Lynn a vacation they "can enjoy after the show" like he normally gives winners :).

Oh, on a side note.  The first team that I remembered the names of after Rob & Amber, Debbie & Bianca, lost.  How ironic, it took me three weeks to remember their names and they go and get themselves eliminated :P.

The dreams of youth...

I went to a really cool party yesterday for a friend of mine who's leaving the country.  I haven't seen him in about three years or so; didn't even go to his wedding, which for someone who was once adamant about not getting married was kind of significant :).  So I figured I'd break out of my rut to see him before he leaves the country.

I'm glad I went.  I met up with people I hadn't seen in a while and met some cool new people as well.  I think the thing that stayed with me the most was noticing the time gap: three years.  In that time span my friend had gotten married, as well as other friends, some even have families now.  Some told me I hadn't changed since they last saw me.  They probably meant physically, but, there's more than that about me that's stayed stationary.  In some ways it was like looking through a looking glass into the future: here I was, there they were... Einstein once talked about time travel.  How if one were in a vessel and moving closer to the speed of light, the person wouldn't age, but those not in the vessel would.

I have my vantage point in life, from which I perceive the world.  In a sense I am stationary and everyone else is moving around me.  I see things because I'm stationary.  I can see change because I am stationary.  I don't move at the same rate that many others around me move.  I'm a stick in the mud: the waters flow past the stick that is stuck.  I see the waters flow because I am stationary.  If I were moving the waters would appear not to, the waters would just be.

Regardless, I have my vantage point.  For whatever reason it's the existence I'm most comfortable with.  Many aspects make up a person; many torrents, or currents, of energy within a person, all swirling around inside.  Which direction does a person move in, which direction does the person's energy move towards?  I guess it's the net effect of the person's various energy swirls.  Perhaps many of mine are going in circles, opposing each other, no clear direction yet discerned by my self.  Perhaps this is why I am stationary.  I am in fact moving, just moving no where.

Posted: Sun, Mar 13 2005 1:17 AM by Humpty
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