June 30, 2004
Michele draws

My wife Michele has made a rare blog entry and you can see her doodling.

If that's her doodling, I wonder what she can do when she is serious.

Drop by and give her a little comment love...

Posted by michael at 09:55 PM

I got the phone call today that I have been waiting six months to get.

My Toyota Prius has arrived!

I'll pick it up tomorrow morning. Pictures to follow ASAP.


Posted by michael at 04:57 PM
June 28, 2004
Sane Air Conditioning

OK folks, with the summer heat arriving, it's time to discuss air conditioning. There is a major misconception I'd like to clear up.

Let's review how air conditioning works. Basically, an air conditioner is a heat pump.

Using a few important thermodynamic principles, air conditioners are machines that move heat from one area to another. Typically, they move the heat from inside to outside.

The part of the air conditioner that gets cold in this process is know as the evaporator coil. Warm air from inside blows over the evaporator coil. The heat goes in and gets pumped outside and the cold air returns inside.

Fairly straightforward, no? Air conditioners really only work at one speed. When they are on, the pump heat out. When they are off, they don't do anything.

Here's where people get into trouble.

Modern electronics in thermostats and car air conditioners now allow people to dial in the temperature they want. The air conditioner (or heater) is turned on or off to adjust for the desired temperature.

It seems people think that if they turn the knob way down that the air conditioner will work much better. Typically, you see people turning the thermostat as low as it will go to get it cold. This does nothing to help the cooling.

Turn the dial or knob to the temperature you want and leave it alone.

There are a few cases where there you can have variable air speeds blowing over the evaporator coils. This is what 'Max AC' is if you see it in your car. Maximum airflow.

Guess what, your thermostat understands if it has variable airflow and uses it when it makes best sense. Believe it or not, the people that design air conditioners know more about how to make air conditioners work than you do.

So, please people, don't turn that dial down to sixty degrees unless you work in a meat locker.

Posted by michael at 09:52 PM
Anonymous Pain

A while ago I made a weblog for anonymous posting-> Anonyblog.

Anyone can go there, log in and post whatever they want. The username/password are right on the front page.

I expected that people would rant about other people, work, and things that piss them off. There has been some of that, but by far the most posting thing is about how sad people are.

Post after post about how things suck in their life. Take a look at the searches people are doing to stumble onto the site.

Where do you have to be in life to search for 'am i insane' on Google?

Such pain and sadness out there. And why are they afraid to share it with others? Why are they anonymous in their pain?

As an extroverted type, it's hard for me to understand people dealing with their issues in this introverted way.

Posted by michael at 08:39 PM
June 24, 2004
Firefly Lives and courts the blogosphere

I saw on Slashdot that the site for the Firefly movie is up and running.

In case you missed Firefly when it was on the air, it was a sci-fi TV show that blended wild west style plots into a future space universe. Good stuff. I bought the DVDs of the first season and really enjoy them.

The site has a lot of stuff for fans to participate in the promotion of the movie. It's good to see a movie production actively working with their fans rather than ordering them to take content down. Fans are rewarded for their internet involvement with real prizes and items. The proverbial win-win situation.

For example, the Firefly folks are actively encouraging the fans to make banner ads and display them. Here's a fan made banner I like, that the movie company is happy to be displayed.

How kick ass is that?

Talk about 'getting it', these guys are totally using the net and weblogs in particular to promote their movie. How do they do it? Release control and allow fans to use the movie content. The producers are obviously looking to connect with the blogosphere and are willing to give up some control in doing so. Them Creative Commons people should drop them a line and get something like a Recombo license up there...

Posted by michael at 07:40 PM
June 21, 2004
The Beastie Boys and the lack of copy protection

I'm a bit confused here people.

Last Tuesday I bought a copy of the new Beastie Boys album, To the Five Boroughs. I had heard there was talk of it being protected with DRM software. Posts on Boing Boing and Slashdot fed the meme into the blogosphere.

When I got back to the office, I tried ripping it to my desktop. The album riped fine using Windows Media Player on a stock Compaq desktop machine. No problems at all.

When I got home I ripped it to our media server. Again, no problems. I used Musicmatch Jukebox to do the ripping. I'm hardly using r33t haxx0r tools to get around any copy protection.

So I don't see anything that even remotely looks like copy protection on the CD.

I took a look at the disc and it does have the Macromedia director based 'Enhanced CD' software on it that autoplays when load the disc. All that does is allow you to watch a Quicktime video. I don't see any DRM software being installed.

I scoured the net to find any details of the 'silent install' and what the 'secret DRM' does. Besides many a slashdot-style screed against DRM and the Beasties, I didn't find one technical explanation of exactly what the 'secret DRM' is or where it is located on a hard drive.

I did find many, many people saying that they were able to successfully rip it. I didn't see anyone saying they had trouble ripping the CD.

Now, I'm probably wrong, but it seems to me that there is no 'secret DRM' on the new Beasties' album and the that techno-blogosphere has whipped itself into a lather over the non-issue.

Someone please prove me wrong and point the details on the secret 'silent install', but until then, I consider the 'Beasties DRM = evil' meme a false and unproven one.

Did anyone out there that bought the album have any problems ripping the CD?

Posted by michael at 07:37 AM
June 20, 2004
Lazy Father's Day weekend

It was a good weekend.

On Saturday we went to a kid's birthday party and had a great time. As usual in Los Angeles, there was a pinata and the girls made out like bandits. Here's their loot:

This morning I woke up and was greeted by the girls and their gifts. Very sweet. I even got a chance to talk to my father today. He's been in Sri Lanka doing charity work for several weeks and I assumed I wouldn't be able to get in contact with him. He's doing well and I'm anxious to see him.

We played around outside and I took the training wheels off Mira's bike. She had no problem riding a two wheeler. We rode around the neighborhood, played with some friends and generally goofed around.

Later in the afternoon, we went up to Bailey Canyon for a picnic and a hike. We ate at the base of the park and girls started to get excited about the hike.

We headed on into the wilderness looking and talking about everything. We saw plenty of lizards and other wild creatures. The girls were digging the tromp through the underbrush and could have gone farther before we turned back. We will definitely be doing more hiking soon.

On the way out, we saw a few deer munching grass nearby.

A good day to be a father.

Posted by michael at 11:24 PM
June 19, 2004

Tonight I watched Hero, a Chinese martial arts movie that is getting released by Miramax in US theaters this August. The trailer runs if you go to see Kill Bill 2.

I picked up a DVD at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. It's the Chinese version that happens to have English subtitles. I can't read the menus on the DVD, but I was able to get the movie to play.

And what a movie it is. Hero is simply fantastic.

The director, Zhang Yimou, previously made the noted films Raise the Red Lantern and Shanghai Triad. His skill is evident in the masterful art direction and filming of the movie. He makes amazing use of color and scenery to evoke a feeling of China's past that is rare to see. In one scene, he uses leaves and wind in an amazing way that has never been seen before on film.

Technically, the film is impressive with top notch Chinese martial arts battles and superb Yuen Wo Ping style wire work and fight choreography. If you like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon's fight scenes, these are even better.

The cast is the absolute top people in Chinese action cinema. Jet Li, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Maggie Cheung, Ziyi Zhang, Daoming Chen, and Donnie Yen. You won't be disappointed by their acting or physical performances.

For the plot, I'll simply quote the promo info:

At the height of China's Warring States period, the country was divided into seven kingdoms: Qin, Zhao, Han Wei, Yan, Chu and Qi. For years, the separate kingdoms fought ruthlessly for supremacy. As a result, the populace endured decades of death and suffering.

The Kingdom of Qin was the most determined of all. The Qin King was obsessed with conquering all of China and becoming her first Emperor. He had long been the target of assassins throughout the other six states. Of all the would-be killers, none inspired as much fear as the three legendary assassins, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Sky.

To anyone who defeated the three assassins, the King of Qin promised great power, mountains of gold and a private audience with the King himself. But defeating the killers is a near impossible task. For ten years no one came close to claiming the prize. So when the enigmatic county sheriff, Nameless, came to the palace bearing the legendary weapons of the slain assassins, the King was impatient to hear his story. Sitting in the palace, only ten paces from the King, Nameless told his extraordinary tale.

And so the movie begins. Even though I have the DVD, I must see this movie in the theater. I suggest you do as well.

Posted by michael at 10:03 PM
The Lakers

I flipped open the newspaper this morning as was suprised to see so much drama in Lakerville. Overnight, two major things happened. First, Phil Jackson will not be the coach of the Lakers next year. Second, Shaq wants to leave the Lakers in a trade to another team. I expected the first, not the second.

Coach Jackson is taking the fall for the Kobe/Shaq personality trouble that refuses to go away. So be it. Phil's made $30 million in the last five years, he was paid well to be the scapegoat in the end.

Shaq on the other hand is a different story. I like Shaq the player and lockerroom sound bite creator, but Shaq the business man is a problem. For all the good he's done the Lakers, at this point, he's become a problem. Instead of riding the gravy train a bit longer, he's got to rock the boat, simply because he can.

Take a look at the salary structure of the Lakers:


2003/04 Salary

Shaquille O'Neal $26,223,215
Kobe Bryant $13,497,500
Gary Payton $4,897,000
Rick Fox $4,549,500
Devean George $4,545,000
Derek Fisher $3,000,000
Stanislav Medvedenko $1,500,000
Karl Malone $1,475,833
Kareem Rush $1,096,000
Horace Grant $1,070,000
Bryon Russell $1,070,000
Brian Cook $752,800
Jamal Sampson $563,679
Luke Walton $366,931
Jannero Pargo $194,156
Maurice Carter $40,770
Ime Udoka $24,462
TOTALS: $64,499,915

To put this more visually and understandable, here's a simple graph:

Notice that of the cost of Shaq is more than 15 of the 17 players on the Lakers. Kobe makes HALF of what Shaq makes. It's out of whack.

Shaq is probably the most dominant player in the game now, but he's 32 and fading. For all his skills, he's not in top shape and isn't playing in every game. He's got a few more great years ahead of him, but you need to compare him to Kobe. And to top it off, next year his salary goes up by FIVE million dollars.

Kobe is 25. If he stays out of jail, the next five years will be Kobe's best ever. He is the best player in the NBA, PERIOD. Offense, defense, speed, health, Kobe's got it all. Best of all, he handles pressure as well as anyone in the league. And he's getting better.

So if you are the management of the Lakers you can see that giving Shaq an INCREASE, which he's been asking for, is nearly impossible. The money just doesn't work. Shaq, for all his skill, costs too much to field a great team going forward. With his guaranteed increase and the desire for even more money, where will the Laker Management find the cash under the salary cap? Who will they cut?

For all the drama facing the Lakers, Shaq has made it easy for them. By leaving, the Lakers will probably get three top players in trade for Shaq. The salary cap problem is broken, and the team can coalesce around rising Kobe. The Lakers will become a team of speed and multiple shooters, like the Pistons who just spanked the Lakers.

Yes, the Lakers will have to face Shaq on another team, but the way to play Shaq has been made clear. Speed is the thing that Shaq cannot handle now. He simple is going to get outrun and outshot on a team without a partner the caliber of Kobe.

I'll miss the Big Aristole, but it's his pride that is doing the damage to the Lakers, not Kobe's lack of sharing.

Posted by michael at 09:15 AM
June 18, 2004
Trends by AT&T

Last night I went to dinner and met Hossein Eslambochi, the CTO and CIO of AT&T. It was a speech/dinner with other media tech people from companies like Sony & Tribune. I spoke with Hossein briefly and he's a bright, truly technical person. Unlike many 'buzzword and hand waving' types, he understands the underlying technical issues and can talk intelligently about them. A rare ability in the modern world of CTOs where MBAs often take precedence over engineering types.

Hossein gave a brief talk about AT&T and what they are doing these days. Much of is was standard mom & apple pie customer focus talk, but he did give his Top Ten Trends. I thought you all might be interested.

10. Information mining will transform the way we do business
          Personalization and customization will become the norm.
9. Home LANs will proliferate
          Use of home LANs for telephone service, dual cellular/wifi phones
8. Wireless & wired lines will converge - accelerating virtualization
          Seamless connectivity
7. Security is critical
6. Death of Locality
          IP based environment eliminates the role of geography
5. Convergence of communications & computers will be a reality
          Convergence of phone & computers will outshine convergence of television & computers
4. Sensor networks will be everywhere
          All items and people will have IP addresses and be tracked
3. Wireless internet will be big
          Not what we are used to, more like 40-50Mb/s everywhere you go
2. Broadband will be common
          As common as telephones are today
1. IP will eat everything
          90-95% of the worlds communications will be via IP traffic

I don't agree with everything, but the everywhereness of net connectivity is reassuring to hear from AT&T, the people would actually have to carry it out. With them sticking to standards based technology, hopefully the future will arrive with an abundance of choices instead of difficult choices between incompatible systems.

Posted by michael at 05:17 PM
June 16, 2004
Neato MT tag trick

I was checking my referrer logs and saw a link from Disarranging Mine. I took a look and found an interesting tidbit of information.

Marie had stumbled onto my weblog and noticed even the small detail of my copyright notice at the bottom of the page. She made an excellent observation that my dates were wrong and showed how to keep them up to date.

I implemented the change and am quite happy. Thanks Marie, you rock.

Posted by michael at 09:19 PM
June 15, 2004
Tracking the Coyotes

Last night while goofing off on the computer I heard the coyotes outsdie begin to howl. Soon the neighborhood dogs were barking up a storm in jealous rivalry. Obviously, the coyotes had found yet another meal in the wilderness that is South Pasadena.

After work and dinner today, I took the girls for a walk behind the house to the righ-of-way area where I last saw the coyotes. I told them we were looking for coyotes and coyotes signs. The said, "What are coyote signs?" "Dead animals.", I replied.

Off we went. Not 100 yards into the walk, did we find the first cat remains. I poked at them and we discussed what part of the cat they were. The girls weren't squeamish, just eager to find more. After a bit more, we found the first skull.

Obviously a cat skull, the coyotes must have had a nice meal from this little feline. As we wandered were found the remains of at least four cats, possibly six. Four different furs and large distances between the remains mean well fed coyotes. We found a second skull that was even larger and still had stink coming from it.

We found several places with feathers strewn about. Even Bluejay feathers, so the cats were quite busy as well. The best was finding a cat collar that was still closed. There were teeth marks on the leather, so you know the coyotes played with it a while as they devoured the poor kitty.

Here's what the remains of a leg looked like. It didn't smell bad and the fur still felt smooth.

When we got home, we told Michele about our adventure and she wants to go see for herself. Perhaps we'll head up to another unexplored part of the right-of-way tomorrow.

So get your ass up from the computer, get yourself outside, and see what carnage is going on in your neighborhood.

Posted by michael at 09:23 PM
Offer to former weblogs.com people

If you were one of the people that lost their weblog at weblogs.com I'd like to help get you back on your feet.

I pay for server space that is home to 30+ friends and family sites. Adding another 4-5 people won't kill me. It's full featured hosting with shell access.

So if you need some webspace, and you are one of the weblogs.com homeless, drop me an email. I'll formally offer a year of hosting for free at a minimum, no editorial interference. I'm busy enough providing tech support to my wife and mother's sites, so I hope you are semi-tech proficient.

I can't help everyone, but I'll do my part to help a little.

Posted by michael at 11:32 AM
Wierdness in the Blogosphere

Let's see here.

SixApart announces they will charge for their software and the Blogosphere comes unglued.

Dave Winer kills several thousand weblogs and barely a peep.

Here's a Netcraft article on the debacle (via Halley)

So in summary:

SixApart gives away something for free, addresses money concerns, announces pricing scheme that includes free version, community views them as a 'sellout'.

Winer gives away something for free, address money concerns, kills several thousand weblogs with no warning, community says 'people should be grateful'.


Posted by michael at 07:55 AM
June 14, 2004
Photo contest

Matt (not my brother Matt, he stopped blogging, the lazy f*ck...) had a photo contest to give away a few Gmail invites. He posted the winners today. Check out all the images, they are pretty neat.

I have to say that one of the winning photos is amazing. This picture of the sun is outstanding.

Here was my entry...

Posted by michael at 10:43 AM
June 13, 2004
Cavalcade of stuff

Lots of stuff to debrief you about...


Michele and I went to see Chronicles of Riddick. If they remove the middle third of the movie it would be great. In the middle, they go to some planet full of cool special effects, but entirely lacking in plot or storyline. Sure, red space lion things are cool, but why are they in the movie.

If you want to see Riddick kill lots of zerging mullet-headed space bag guys and take his sunglasses off many times, go see the movie.


My daughter spent most of their weekend with Michele's mom. They are tired but happy. I feel so blessed that Zoe and Mira have 6 loving grandmothers and grandfathers in their life. The see little anger and tons of love. With a childhood such as this, we know that they will turn out to be wonderful adults. I feel like a bad dad when I say things about going to bed, eating too much candy, and brushing teeth, but it's my job.

Bruce Sterling's daughter is posting on his weblog. Cool stuff. To top it off, she plays Lineage II and uses the word 'suxxored' correctly. I can easily see my daughters heading down this road in a few years.

Internet guy

There's a guy on the internet that invented some cool stuff several years ago. I appreciate the good work. Since then it appears to me that he has mainly sat around and whined daily about the rest of the world. Other smart people like Linus Torvalds, Tim Berners-Lee, Gene Spafford, and other have quietly continued to work toward making the net a better place with their ego firmly in check. This other guy's ego is out of control. It kinda pisses me off that other people think he's someone that people should listen to about current issues. It's fine if he wants to rest on laurels, but he should stop taking pot shots at people trying to do good new things. I removed his feed from my aggregator and will stop reading his constant stream of effluvium. I suggest you do the same if you have any idea what I'm talking about.


The latest issue of Cargo is out. It remains a Cruft Recommendation. Articles on cocktail gear, laptops, the science of anti-perspirants, and even a convincing article on pedicures. Squidly says to look at Sync Magazine, but until then, Cargo still gets the thumbs-up.

Fahrenheit 9/11

I watched the trailer for Fahrenheit 9/11. Boy, the conservatives are going to come completely unglued when this comes out. While I may not agree with everything Moore says and does, I have to agree with Teddy Roosevelt that "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

Posted by michael at 09:33 PM
June 10, 2004
Public Comment

Last night I went to a City Council Meeting to speak publically as I am wont to do.

The basic issue was whether the city should replace a stable that borders the Arroyo Seco Park with the 13th soccer field in the city. I think not.

At 6:30PM the meeting convened,

The special committee that worked for seven months presented their results to the council and the assembled masses. The committee recommended that the stables remain and felt there were serious problem with the soccer plan.

The crowd was 90% made up of stable supporters.

One after one the public got up and spoke there piece. After a number of these meetings, I've come to realize that most people don't have a clue on how to make a point. There are basically two flawed methods they use, the Ramble, and the Script Read. In the case of the Ramble, the person gets to the mic and simply can't make a point, they wander off into personal anecdotes that mean nothing. In the Script Read, they start rattling off a list of facts a figures quickly, making no eye contact and lacking all emotion.

I prefer the Previous Support method. When trying to convince the Council of something, you need to tie it to their previous support of another issue. By mentioning their stance on another issue, you appear to show respect and agreement with them. This makes them suggestive to your point. You then make an apt compairison to the current issue, explaining how their previous reasoning still applies.

The majority of speakers were in support of the stables and the general tone was running against the soccer fields. The last public speaker was the owner of the stables. Rather than basking in the warm glow of support, thanking his supporters, and offering to work with the city to address any concerns, he took and angry tone. Stupid move. He stridently argued about how he was doing nothing wrong and how the city had failed him in settling things. Deeper and deeper he dug his hole.

I left after three hours, while the council was still discussing what to do. In the end, they are probably not going to put in the soccer fields, but most likely they will entertain other offers on running an equestrian center there.

I tell you, the more I see of politics at the local level, the more I both love and fear it. Do yourself a favor, go to the next city council meeting in your town. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by michael at 09:43 PM
Autodiscovery & feeds

In the comments of my last post, Jason mentioned that my RSS feed did not have full posts. That's true, but not entirely. The confusion is over what feeds I have and how they are declared.

Jason and I emailed a bit over this and I'll steal from his replies liberally to explain things. I briefly met Jason at SXSW and he's quite the web/blog/syndication saavy guy. Consider him getting full props for the meat of this post.

What Jason mentioned was that my RSS feed did not have full posts. The RSS 1.0 feed I was using didn't.

I had three different feeds:

RSS 1.0 -> http://www.cruftbox.com/index.rdf -> not full feeds
RSS 2.0 -> http://www.cruftbox.com/index.xml -> full feeds
Atom -> http://www.cruftbox.com/atom.xml -> full feeds

So there were two things I was doing wrong. I didn't think that RSS 1.0 could have full posts. I was wrong, you actually can. Jason shared with me a RSS 1.0 Full Post template for MovableType that I put in place.

The second thing I was doing wrong was that I was 'advertising' that I only had a RSS 1.0 feed. The syndication aggregator I use parses the page looking for possible feeds, so I never saw this problem.

In the main index of the page, there are link tags that explicitly call out where feeds are located so that an aggregator knows exactly where to find your feeds. The only link I had called out was the one for RSS 1.0.

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://cruftbox.com/index.rdf" />

I wasn't specifically calling out my Atom & RSS 2.0 feeds. To do that, I added these lines to my main index file.

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://cruftbox.com/index.xml" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="Atom" href="http://cruftbox.com/atom.xml" />

I decided that while I wouldn't get rid of the RSS 1.0 feed, I wouldn't advertise it any more. For all intents and purposes, I am telling the world that I only have Atom & RSS 2.0 feeds.

Make sense? Thanks again to Jason for his keen eye.

Posted by michael at 09:51 AM
June 09, 2004
Full Post Feeds

Many of you people that read here, I read your sites. Some of the time I use a news aggregator to read your sites.

The trouble is many of you don't provide full posts in your RSS feeds. I can only read the first few lines. So, if it would't be too much trouble, would you please replace your old RSS 2.0 template with this one:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
<rss version="2.0"

    <title><$MTBlogName remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
    <description><$MTBlogDescription remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
    <dc:creator><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail$></MTEntries></dc:creator>
    <dc:rights>Copyright <$MTDate format="%Y"></dc:rights>
    <dc:date><MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryDate format="%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S"$><$MTBlogTimezone$></MTEntries></dc:date>
    <admin:generatorAgent rdf:resource="http://www.movabletype.org/?v=<$MTVersion$>" />
    <admin:errorReportsTo rdf:resource="mailto:<MTEntries lastn="1"><$MTEntryAuthorEmail$></MTEntries>"/>

<MTEntries lastn="15">
      <title><$MTEntryTitle remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></title>
      <link><$MTEntryLink encode_xml="1"$></link>
      <description><$MTEntryExcerpt remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></description>
      <guid isPermaLink="false"><$MTEntryID$>@<$MTBlogURL$></guid>
      <dc:subject><$MTEntryCategory remove_html="1" encode_xml="1"$></dc:subject>
      <dc:date><$MTEntryDate format="%Y-%m-%dT%H:%M:%S"$><$MTBlogTimezone$></dc:date>


That's a Movable Type template, so if you're not using Movable Type it's not for you.

Posted by michael at 02:40 PM
June 06, 2004
Time to do my part

Nigritude Ultramarine

Posted by michael at 01:12 AM
June 05, 2004
Four blades

A few months ago, my buddy Paul mentioned the fascination with multi-bladed razors.

I recently ran out of my regular razors and stopped by the supermarket to pick up some new ones. I was surprised to see a FOUR BLADED RAZOR.

FOUR blades!!!1!

Yep, you read that right, four effing blades! Of course, I had to buy it.

When I got home, I examined the package a little closer. I was happy to read all the vital info.

The Most Souped Up Disposable Razor -- Ever!

I'm just the kind of man that needs "maximum shaving power" from "The Most Souped Up Disposable Razor -- Ever!". Four blades AND four lube zones! Who can ask for more?

You simply must love the terminology that has found it's way into razor advertising. Note that this is an 'All Terrain Shaver' and has 'High Endurance'. What these two things have to do with shaving I don't know, but they do make you feel more manly if you buy it.

Some light shavers or women may not know what a lube zone is, so I will explain. To make razors more complicated, manufacturers have added these little strips of gel to the tops of razors. When the razor gets wet, the gel dissolves slightly and leaves some sort of coating on the skin. It never made sense to me because anyone that is shaving with a razor has shaving creme slathered on their face already. But hey, it 'soups up' the razor, so whatever.

Take a look at the razor head and indeed, there are four blades.

Count 'em!

That stuff in pale green are the 'lube zones'.

I've shaved with the razor twice, and to put it succinctly, it sucks.

The blades really don't shave that well and I had to go over areas a couple times to get things smooth. This is bad since it leads to razor burn. When using a good razor, you can feel it cutting and know that it's working. This razor feels like a plastic bar moving over the skin and you aren't sure if it's actually shaving.

The lube zones turned my face into a slimy mess. All the green crap covered my face and I literally had to scrub it off with a washcloth. Way too much slime.

Now that I've tried one kind of four blade razor, I guess I have to review the others...

Posted by michael at 02:54 PM
I'm not joking

Some of you don't believe there really is berry-flavored coffee.

I'm not joking...

Posted by michael at 01:15 AM
June 03, 2004
Japanese Monster

Tonight I went with my cousin Richard to see the original Godzilla movie. The Godzilla movie that most Americans are familiar with is not the one that was originally released in Japan. In the American version, Raymond Burr is wandering around as a narrator, added in 20 minutes to the film. TO fit him in, 30 minutes of the original were removed.

Richard is a true Godzilla fan. He gets invited to Japan for screening of new Godzilla films by Toho. He knows everything there is to know about Godzilla and monster films in general.

As he explained, the film was made in Japan after the Lucky Dragon incident, where a Japanese fishing boat was hit by radioactive fallout from an American nuclear bomb test. The Japanese public was outraged by incident and the Americans tried to cover things up.

Considering the timing of the release of Godzilla is important to remember when watching the original movie.

The movie tells the story of Godzilla being awakend from his slumber by H bombs and the subsequent devastation of Tokyo and other Japanese cities during his rampage. Most Godzilla movies show the battle between the Godzilla and humans in a campy way, but in the original, it's quite serious.

Godzilla represents and unstoppable force of nature that was awaken by Man's playing with powerful weapons. The analogy of this to the effects of the Bikini fallout on Japan's food chain are obvious. During the H bomb tests, the fallout traveled on ocean currents and into the fish. Thousands of tons of fish were destroyed since they were contaminated.

The mysterious Dr. Serizawa has invented a powerful device known as the Oxygen Destroyer. He agonizes over using it even though it is the only things that can stop Godzilla. He fears that the device can be used as a terrible weapon.

In the lower left corner is the powerful Oxygen destroyer. Phear it.

If you want to know what happens, you'll need to go see the movie. It's well worth the time to go see the original Godzilla.

Posted by michael at 09:42 PM

Coffee purists, you are warned to click away, lest you be offended.

This morning I stopped at 7-11 with Michele for morning beverages. For Michele it's a Super Big Gulp, for me, it's a cup of coffee.

7-11 has redoubled their efforts in the coffee arena and now sport a Coffee Station with probably eight or more different brews ready to go at any time. They have the usual cinnamon, hazelnut and vanilla coffees most days. Around Thanksgiving they had Pumpkin Flavor and at Christmas, they had Peppermint flavor. Most of the time you get just a hint of flavor.

Today I tried Berrylicious Coffee. Let me tell you, it was a blast of berry goodness that I wasn't expecting. You need to get your sorry butt into a 7-11 ASAP and try it. I'm not kidding, it's tasty!

It's the middle of the afternoon and I want another cup and we only have a crappy Starbucks in the building. Starbucks needs to give up on the nasty, burnt roast crap they have and get hip with the berry coffees.

7-11 is the cutting edge of coffee technology. You heard it here first.

Posted by michael at 02:36 PM
Review Catchup

I finished my latest book, Ilium, a week or so ago. I didn't get around to write about it until today. Seems fitting though, I received the book at Christmas as part of a Great Stack of Wishlist Titles and kept being put off to reading it by the shear size of the book. In hardcover, it's 592 pages and several inches thick.

Once I got reading though, I couldn't put it down. I should known. I read Simmon's Hyperion Series at a similar furious pace.

Ilium - Dan Simmons

The story takes place in the far future, with plenty of high technology in every corner of the solar system. We follow three basic story lines, the humans on what appears to be idyllic paradise on earth, sentient robots exploring the outer solar system, and what appears to be an exact reenactment of the Trojan War, including the Greek Gods.

Literature plays a large role in the book and it would be good to have a passing knowledge of Homer's Illiad, Shakespeare's Sonnets, and Marcel Proust. I've read the Illiad and much Shakespeare, but not much Proust.

The story begins with life moving along normally for the characters with no sign of the drama about to begin. As Simmons has done in other novels, he draws the seperate story lines tighter and tighter together, leaving mini-cliffhangers along the way. He puts a lot of details in early in the story and you will find yourself checking back to the earlier chapters during the book to confirm that it all really does fit together so tightly. Simmons has obviously planned the novel out in great detail before getting to the actually writing of the prose. Science Fiction readers adore consistency and continuity and it's here in the is novel in droves.

The main theme I read was the idea that all is not as it seems and that those that appear to be in charge, are not really in charge. The book is a series of unveilings to the characters that they are not as powerful or weak as they have thought previously. Interesting thoughts in these days of global hegemony...

The technology in the book is secondary to the main story line of rebellion and appearance versus reality of power, but it is interesting enough to to keep a geek's mind spinning at the possibilities mentioned. While not firmly in the realm of hard sc-fi, the book does have a goodly amount of fun ideas.

The ending is a cliffhanger leading to the second novel in the series, Olympos, due in the fall. I anxiously await the release.

Dan Simmons has a good web site, full of information and even a message board that the author reads and replies to regularly.

Posted by michael at 07:10 AM
June 01, 2004
Japanese Coffee

On our way to pick up the kids today, we stopped at the Japanese supermarket to pick up a few things. I was mainly after a set of bento boxes that I could put the children's lunches into for school. One of my daily duties is making the children their lunch for school. I use far too many plastic baggies to do this, so the bento boxes will be good.

Of course, I took a look at the coffee section. The Japanese may not have invented coffee and iced coffee, but hey have done a damn good job of perfecting it. Here are a few cans I had not seen before.

3 cans of goodness

Who can resist these cans? Not I. I especially like the 'On Business' can. Also, the 'naked beans' are in intriguing.

For a few months now, we've been drinking tea more in the morning, much more thatn coffee. In fact, Michele has placed the coffee maker in the cupboard and we only have an electric water kettle on the counter now. To get my coffee now, I have resorted to instant coffee. It's not bad.

I picked up a bottle of Japanese instant coffee on a whim. I saw a bottle of UCC Taste No. 114. I'm a sucker for any food product with a graph on the package.

Check that graph!

There is a coffee called Taste No. 117 and the graph somehow compares them on a two dimensional graph. I cannot read Japanese, so I wasn't sure whether to buy 114 or 117. I decided that the red dot for No. 114 denoted danger and so, that meant it was the coffee for me.

I'll find out tomorrow how it tastes.

Eventually when I visit Japan, I fear I will not sleep because all I want to do is drink Japanese coffee endlessly.

Posted by michael at 12:39 AM
Out of town

Michele and I went out of town for our Anniversary. The kids were with my parents and Michele made reservations at a hotel in Indian Wells, near Palm Springs.

On the 60 Freeway, there was a brushfire that slowed down traffic to a near halt. We spent 90 minutes going about 8 miles to get past the problem. I was fit to be tied.

Once we made it out toward the desert, we saw the windmills.

Windmills in Palm Desert

There were several hundred large windmills in the canyon valley generating electricity. I twas amzing to see them all spinning.

We got to the hotel, took a break and had a nice dinner. The next morning we ate breakfast outside on the room patio while we watched hummingbirds flit around. Quite relaxing.

Luxurious Breakfast

Michele wanted to do some shopping at the Outlet Center at Cabezon, so we did the tourist thing and wandered around looking for deals. I'm not a big shopper, but I did indulge myself at the Brooks Brothers store. They make a line of dress shirts that are called 'No Iron'. Take it form me, they really mean it. You can wash the shirt, put in in the dryer and it pops out ready to wear. No ironing needed and it looks great. I cannot resist them.

After our fill of shopping we hit the road for home ready to start the next ten years of marriage.

On the road
Posted by michael at 12:22 AM