Dumbed-Down Commercials

I suppose I really shouldn’t try to analyze television commercials, but here goes, anyway:

A current one for a Toyota something-or-other has a man entering a roomful of kids watching TV. After he fails to get their attention by merely saying “hello,” he snaps off the TV, whereupon the whole bunch is next shown heading off to a sleep-out under the stars. The clear message is, buy our vehicle, turn off the TV, reclaim your family, live happily ever-after. Carried to its logical extreme, however, if everyone turned off the TV, who would be left watching this commercial?

Another one, unfortunately also for cars, helps explain why we might have an obesity problem in the United States. GM would like us to “save” our “pushes” (button pushes) until we get to the showroom, to enter their contest and see if we’ve won a new car. One version of the commercial shows a NASA engineer refusing to push the launch button. Have things turned so bad, that we don’t have enough energy to push both buttons? Or, on the other hand, are we so superstitious as to believe that we have to save our luck?

Happy Birthday, Dad?

Today is one of those unusual days that we’re seeing more of during the early part of the century: the year, month, and day are the same, in this case, all 5.

It would’ve been my dad’s birthday, had he lived beyond last August 18th.

Google Customer Service

Over the weekend, I was using the “Next Blog” button to browse through the works of others. Along the way, I noticed a lot of what I would call “spam blogs,” full of same-day/same-time postings all on the same subject, with text that resembled the sales pitches one would see in junk e-mail. After spotting my umpteenth spam blog, I further noticed that several had a common “owner” (“webcorp”).

So I mentioned this in an e-mail to an acquaintance who works at Google, wondering what these blogs were all about. He kindly explained that they were misguided attempts to increase page ranking for some web pages, by establishing many inbound links to them. Misguided, because the technique doesn’t work, something that Google began filtering out a long time ago.

Monday, this same acquaintance e-mailed me from his office to say that he had waved the subject in front of enough interested people in the office, and now there was an initiative to clean blogspot of this, em, detritus.

How’s that for customer service?! Guess I shoulda bought stock during the IPO.

First Framed Digital Photo

Notre Dame du Paris Posted by Hello

Just came back from the frame shop, where I picked up the finished product, this photo from a 2004 trip to Paris, blown up to 20 by 30 inches. I had ordered the print some weeks back as an experiment, when Ofoto (now Kodak) had a half-price sale (<$12). When it had arrived, I was pleased enough that I had to get it framed. Of course, I feared that the whole thing would end up costing many times the cost of the print, and I was right. But now I do have a nice addition to my home office wall, or my bedroom wall, or…

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

These days it takes a really special event to get me to the movie theater. I’ve seen too many over the years, and I’ve grown way too jaded about them as a result.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy promised to be one such special event. I was a fan of the TV series back in the early 80s, read one of the books (egged on by a friend who was more than a fan), even bought the TV series on video.

I’m not sure just what I was looking forward to, and that may be why I didn’t find it. Oh, sure, the great lines are there, along with the jaundiced view of humanity and philosophy. The film very nicely ties together things in a way so as to make the “plot” more concise, but it has to do this by eliminating some of the slower character development and explanations.

The actual Hitchhiker’s Guide, seemingly ever-present in the TV series, was a gimmick largely unused in the movie, and that’s a shame.

Don’t get me wrong: I remain a fan, and I’m glad I went. If you are also a fan, see it and draw your own conclusions. Unfortunately, the success of a movie like this relies on its appeal to non-fans, and judging by the reaction of my guest, this is what’s missing.

A Place For Your Stuff

Yesterday my coworkers and I shared a laugh over the elegant spoof site, huh? Their motto is “we do stuff,” which made us think of the old George Carlin routine. Since one of the guys had never even heard of “A Place For Your Stuff, ” today I had to take in a copy of Carlin’s book, “Brain Droppings,” to let him read it. A recorded performance is available at iTunes Music Store, and I think I’ll have to download it now. I’ve never heard it, so I’m wondering whether George’s performance is anything like the one that runs through my mind as I read it.

SHTML and Jerry Seinfeld

A couple days ago, I began to read an e-mail from a friend who had some questions about server-side include files. He had included the file-name extension, .shtml, in the first line, all-caps. It reminded me at that moment of a line from an old Seinfeld episode, the one where Jerry suspects his dentist, Dennis Whatley, of converting to Judaism for better jokes.

The line goes something like “…hand me a schtickel of fluoride.” Off I went on a Google search, looking for the origin and definition of the word. Although I didn’t look very hard, I couldn’t find it in some of the Yiddish dictionaries. I did find a Seinfeld quote game on Rotten Tomatoes, which I then had to mail to another friend who is into Seinfeld trivia (I’ll post the link here when I find it again).

Half an hour later, I finally returned to the original e-mail that started the whole thing. No wonder I sometimes don’t get anything done!

Update: I finally found the Seinfeld quote game. “Schtickel” is on the third page.

After a l-o-n-g hiatus

I just returned to blogging after more than a year away. So much has changed that I decided to discard the old entries, the old look–everything–and start over.

The new focus will be fun with CSS, fun with word-play, fun with technology, and whatever else I run across. Expect links to other blogs, mostly so that I can find it myself after I’ve read it.