14 March 2011

Daylight savings time and other annoyances

* So, we're back on daylight savings time, which takes more of the year than standard time. Daylight savings time is like the ultimate popular kid stunt: "I can make the entire country pretend its an hour ealier than it really is, just because I can get everyone to agree with me." And, of course, once it takes off, you really have no choice but to go along. Still, losing an hour in the spring is brutal.

* Washington Park in Denver has a special magical glow that keeps it attractive regardless of what is going on in the outside world. But, I'm beginning to think that it may be a force field instead. I've been trying to stop paying $17 a month for free TV by setting up an antenna. Before I started getting basic cable, I'd tried it from a powered antenna inside my living room and get one or two channels. This weekend, after going to the trouble of setting a powered antenna up on the highest point on my roof, I got absolutely zero reception. Needless to say, I am not very impressed with the digital broadcast TV revolution, although it may simply be that Wash Park is as much of a TV dead zone as it has a reputation for being a cell phone dead zone.

* Another of the great mysteries of life is why old computers accumulate problems. They produce stray, seemingly meaningless error messages. They slow down. Virus scans and disk defragmentation stops helping. It might be possible to remove accumulated programs, but who knows what it is safe to remove. It reaches the point where you'd like to just run the restore disks and start over, but of course, by that point you've invested money in programs and misplaced the restore disks and the original programs with their access codes.

* Then, of course, there are the dreaded smart phones. I held out for the longest time. But, finally, about three years ago, I had to give in because it was expected that you have access to e-mail at all times for work. But, every now and then, you have to change phones, and the switch is painful. It takes weeks to get it back to the unsteady compromise that you have with the machine before you switched, when you knew how to work what you needed and it all worked smoothly.

* My daughter embarks on the brave new world of Home Economics (or whatever they call it these days), today. Rumor has it that the cooking agenda is full of things that we would never actually cook in our own house for want of nutritional value, but such is life. Hello Hamburger Helper(R)!

* The 8.9 magnitude Earthquake which initially seems to have spared Japan too much damage, now seems to have actually inflicted a Katrina class blow as more news reaches the world.

* The situation in Libya is getting ugly, as Kaddafi and the rebels civil war. (On the bright side, the monarch of Oman appears to be ready to convert from an absolute to a constitutional monarchy in the next thirty days.)

* Japanese manga and anime make frequent use of images and scenes that draw on the characters of the real story, but rather than being blubs are just riffs on the concepts that aren't part of the story itself, something quite rare in American media (as is the habit of having the author reserving space to directly address the audience). Is there a general name for these extraneous sketches?

* Why do the Denver Assessor's office have a nice online interface for its records, while the Denver Clerk and Recorder's office, which is just as automated, does not have its grantor-grantee index and file images available online? Both are public records. I suspect it is so that the clerk's office can make us pay 25 cents a page for copies and make title companies pay for bulk downloads to escape that problem. But, I'd surely favor any candidate in the current clerk and recorder's race who would promise to put the grantor-grantee index online.

* Some days, you think humanity is on the right track. Some days, you read the news from Cleveland, Texas (mass child molestation of eleven year old in a small town capture on cell phone video), and you are rather less hopeful. Ironically, the crime of taking the video will probably garner stiffer sentences than the underlying crime itself.

* For reasons mysterious to me, a wave of male enhancement product spam is deluging this blog at the moment, I am trying to review new comments an delete the bad ones a rapidly as I can. I still don't see why it is so hard for regulators to determine who the vendors being advertised are, trace them with sample transactions, and use the vendor records to shut these people down. It really is just a handful of industries that leave the bulk of them, and apparently there are not that many spam purveyors out there comprising the bulk of the traffic. They money trail ought to be auditable. Maybe all those SEC employees who were using government computers to watch porn could do it as a form of community service.

* We are about to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day (indeed, many people did this past weekend), after the man famous for converting the pagans of Ireland to Catholicism. Garrison Keillor's show this weekend (part of the show, apparently originally from 1997 are here) explained why this makes quite a bit more sense than celebrating Saint Olaf's day, something riotously funny to a fellow ex-Lutheran. But, in an era of anti-imperialism and distrust of institutions, why not celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi Day instead? (He has a Saint's Day on October 4, but it isn't all that big a deal.) Perhaps Saint Francis Day could be substituted for ever more controversial Columbus Day (October 12), as a day of Italian-American pride.

* The newspaper comics this weekend also posed the ultimate elementary school boy query for March: In a battle between ancient Romans (associated with the Ides of March) and Lepricauns (associated with Saint Patrick's Day) who would win? The particularly frightening aspect of this query is that there is apparently now a television show devoted to such questions, asking in a recent episode with quasi-scientific rigor, who would win in a fight between the Musketeers and the Manchu warriors (whose ancestors apparently have formed an immigrant community to the north of Denver).

* Also, in hopeful news, the Denver Post has reiterated its support for abolishing or narrowing the scope of the death penalty in Colorado. Narrowing the scope of first degree murder to exclude neo-natal homicide by women in the throes of childbirth and felony murder that does not involve triggermen or people who have solicited a murder would be a good start, and if applied retroactively, would improve the state of the state budget and greatly reduce the ranks of juveniles serving life without parole in the state.


Jon W. said...

I'm not a fan of DST. Living on the eastern edge of the time zone, I wouldn't mind year-round DST, but I don't like changing. I especially don't like changing its definition; something always breaks. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was effectively an unfunded mandate on the software industry. Incidentally, Arthur Olson, who maintains the time zone database on which the vast majority of software depends, is retiring.

According to antennaweb.org, you should be able to get all the major networks with a small multi-directional antenna. Most of them are broadcasting from a similar direction and distance, so a directional antenna may help. Unfortunately, you have a mix of VHF and UHF, so you need to make sure that the antenna is appropriate for that.

Dave Barnes said...

Daylight Saving Time

no s at the end of Saving

Dave Barnes said...

Not Hamburger Helper(R)
Hamburger Helper®