Monday, January 26, 2009


First of all, let me start by saying I survied the Doctor, Dentist and Car Repair shop posted below. I wish I could add cheaply, but that would be untruthful.

Actually, the doctor visit was more nurse, in that she, a Travelling Phlebotomist (help me, oh mighty spell check!) did most of the doing. And no, I couldn't duck the 'bend over,' though I suppose if I did, it would bring about the same result. Now, somewhere in the Halls of Insurance, there is a statistic wizard searching for the not-so-elusive Holy Disqualification.

The car visit was a waste of two hours. The issue is that Terri's car will AIR CONDITION both passenger and driver, but only HEATS the passenger. The diagnosis was a $600 fix. (My fix is... Spring) I'm real suspicious on this one. Some little valve isn't doing its dance. Maybe Terri, on cold days, could drive from the right seat?

The dentist himself is a great guy. The tooth cleaning girl, not. She's new (why can't dentists keep the same oral hygienists?) and seems just out of school, to me.
She wanted to use the ultrasonic blaster which freaks me out, so I insisted she do the cleaning manually, and I now suspect she doesn't do this often, due to the pain.
The last girl did it with gentle care. This one, as if I were an enemy combatant.
And of course, as fate will allow, I must return in six weeks for another round.
Note that now the Xrays are hi-techified onto a wide screen tv.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


In a little less than an hour I will drive to the medical testing lab for what I assume will be a battery of tests mandated by an insurance company, as we are attempting to switch coverage (prompted by our financial advisor.) I am unaware of anything wrong with me but don't want to subject myself. Needles, eeeuuwww! God knows what else they'll do. Please, don't say the words, "bend over."

Then I take Terri's car into service for a diagnostic. It's an odd problem she has had with the heating/air conditioning and I just don't trust these guys. In fact, it's our 'second opinion' - and this service manager has a BAD bedside manner. As he told me, "we are not a doctor's office" so, in other words, prepare to wait and wait and wait. I will, for up to several hours, then I have to complete the trifecta by wheeling myself to the dentist. At least there I can get gassed while they work. By the way, adding to Terri's report of unease with the car service guy, I, too, felt that way, and subsequently called his GM to tell him so. In today's world of downsizing and cutbacks, there's little room for rude.

If I have time I will head up to the giant box electronics store and roam the aisles full of stuff I never heard of, don't want, but find cool. Geeky, but interesting. The store is so large it has a restaurant in it. They sell everything from refrigerators to alligator clips.

Come to think of it, I could use some rechargeable batteries, and CD cases...

The woe is that I don't like or trust the three processes I will experience today.

Parenthetically, I might mention that we've had several doctors in the 4 years and a week we've been in Austin.

The first one didn't like people (true) and apparently had a substance abuse problem. He closed his office.

The second one moved away.

The third one (really, really good) closed his office.

The fourth one is our current guy. He's okay, but nothing like number 3.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I always thought it'd be a great place for a computer virus: in what looks like an anti-virus program. Well, today it seemed like one of my two anti-virus programs had trapped one. But when I clicked on the button which I thought was a removal command, it began loading a program as if DE-infecting or inoculating my computer. I did manage to stop that and did an immediate full scan, which took almost an hour. Right away, the program (the real one) found 8 issues, 5 of which were viruses or parts of the same virus.

You should know I regularly scan everything - at least weekly, and I have various filters always on.

Impatient Bob began thinking, hey, ok, it found the bad things, I don't need to scan more. I was seriously tempted to hit STOP at about 42 minutes in, as the hard drive hummed continuously, as it did all through the procedure.

But then - that far into the process, it found another labeled "backdoor" something. After the scan was completed, I sent the bad files away.

My main A-V program has well over a million 'signatures' of viruses!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Yup. Nothing really interested me last night, and I save the good stuff recorded, or movies, for Terri. So I found myself at the TeeVee alone, surfing. IDOL was the only choice. But I don't want another repeat addiction.

You could edit the show at this stage severely, and not really lose much, unless you want to see bad singers, geeks, crestfallen people.

I am often surprised by the pretty or handsome surrounded by really unattractive family. You never know what the ripples in the gene pool will do, is my takeaway.

I also suspect the show is loaded - that is, if the IDOL people sent cameras to someone's house BEFORE they auditioned, then the likelihood is the person is going to be picked. If they do so AFTER, and present it as before, well, that's sleazy yet effective showbiz, isn't it? Maybe they don't say so, but it is implied by the way (sequence) in which it is presented.

I wonder how many really pretty women/girls try to get on the show to exploit their sizzle. Hey, I don't blame them one bit. There was a beauty from Minneapolis, for example. Man, what a smile.

And apparently I am not the only tone-deaf guy who cannot sing. Do they think they CAN? Some serious delusions are out there. Add in the normal bell curve of IQ and you get some low hanging fruit.

Did you see the previews? There's one shot where they had Paula on top of (yes, you read right) of Cara. Salacious suggestion?

Since I almost brought it up, is Ryan gay, hetero or asexual; or just exceedingly private? Whatever - he seems pretty false to me as he waits outside the room. Bored, even. I think he's a major talent for what he does well; i.e.: the perfect emcee. For empathy, though, no. In a widely criticized move, he gestured the blind guy for a high five... I say that's an easy mistake if you aren't paying attention.

One more thing - last night they had the day play out, then went for a final "UP" but the daylight had returned to the windows. I felt it was presented as the last one... but it clearly wasn't. I'd probably do the same thing, as a good producer, but I'd present it more honestly. Maybe I have to listen more closely to the obfuscation in the script.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


For anybody who still READS this blog, allow me to go on for a little bit about the new TV season.

After so much... nothing... it has finally come to the time when we have things to watch.

I fear it has jumped the shark. Or I just don't care as much. Or it's not as good in HD. I can't explain my lack of rabid interest. There so much formula in the show. All the training they are given, and agents consistently disobey orders or procedure. HO HUM. And I'm not talking about Jack Bauer.

Terri was repeating his name in that Elmer Fudd voice from an oriental actor from some former season... and darn if I didn't hear it (not her) on a promo running on a station in Toronto I was listening to online.

All is not lost. J (can't spell her name - too lazy to Google) Garafalo is really good in her role. New agent hottie is interesting. Put it that way. Though the camera isn't always friendly to her.

What I used to like so much were the slime on the characters, and so far there isn't enough of that. Intrigue has been attempted. I just haven't found it as magnetic. As for moral dilemmas, well, there were MUCH better written ones years ago, in another show, WISEGUY, mouthed by a character named Vinnie Terranova, in deep undercover.

A couple issues I remember (there were others I forgot already) - A plane is supposed to descend, but the pilot gives it more power. That's wrong. The other 'pilot' - the oriental gent - is apparently alone (or did I miss a scene?) - and I think in the co-pilot seat.

Oh - and they gave a pilot ATC clearance which included, 'then in ten minutes...' which they NEVER do or say.

And the ATC guy later knows Almeda's name. I guess he could have been told while we were away, but unlikely.

Can't wait. The characters are all so realistic, the scripts so good. It's shot locally, though we've never run into a crew, talent, or a scene. We've recognized some locations, but that's not the draw - it's just flat out a GREAT show.

The best interviews on TV. Period. Who would have thought? Trust me.

The most amazing first-person stories with no hype or reenactment. THIS is compelling TV. Absolutely SPELLBINDING. And in its own way, chock full of hope. If these people can survive their ordeals, quityercomplaining....

I don't care yet. New judge is hot. The Fritos of TV.

Fail. Poor character development. SLOW. Bad writing too.

Looking forward to:
DAMAGES - these people are SNAKES! Great acting too.
BURN NOTICE - light, fast moving.
LIFE - Can go either way, but so far I'm in.
FRINGE - in a complete turnaround - I've come to like most of it
HOUSE - I may be tiring but will hope they add a dose of non-sameness to the prescription this year
TERMINATOR - I know, I know, it's silly escapism but I've come to like it!
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA - One of the best series on TV.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


The transition to digital television next month has been hailed as the biggest advance in over-the-air TV since the advent of NBC's color Peacock, but it's shaping up as a black eye for the government and risks leaving millions of viewers without a picture.

Congress has been in private talks about adding eyes to accommodate this, since their supply of unblackened eyes has become seriously depleted.

On Thursday, President-elect Barack Obama asked Congress to postpone the federally mandated switch to all-digital broadcast television, called DTV, scheduled to take place Feb. 17.

The unspecified delay would give the government time to fix a consumer-help program that ran out of money this week. But it also would set back the long-promised benefits of digital TV, which offers sharper pictures and more free channels for infomercials while opening valuable airwaves for public safety and wireless Internet access.

The government took in $19.6 billion last year by auctioning existing analog TV airwaves to telecommunications companies for new wireless services, but Congress allocated less than $2 billion to educate consumers about the transition and issue coupons to buy needed converter boxes.

It has been suggested by pundits that this is part of the government's "the less they know, the better" secret program.

Others have suggested remedial mathematics classes for Senate and House members.

Now an estimated 7.7 million households nationwide may find their screens going dark next month. Until now, it took programming geniuses at the networks to make that happen.

Although a delay is far from certain, given potential opposition from broadcasters, public safety agencies and telecom companies eager to start using those new airwaves, there was plenty of frustration Thursday with the way the digital TV transition has been managed.

President Bush has issued a statement from Crawford: "This is another more example of why we must defeat the 'axis of evil' wherever it may be found."

"The list of who's to blame is long," said Joel Kelsey, a long-time critic of the transition as policy analyst with Consumers Union, which also called for a delay this week. "It was a giant miscalculation by our federal government. If those guys ran Mayberry, Barney Fife would have that one bullet, but no gun!"

Some lawmakers resisted that label, saying that, "This is no Hurricane Katrina, or Iraq, or financial collapse, and besides, if you have no money, how can you afford the electricity to watch TV anyway? So actually this will help the economy by putting more money back in consumer pockets to spend on things like food. With less demand for electricity, the nation's clear skies initiative will realize much needed progress." NBC is said to be rushing a "Law and Order Black Screen" spinoff to take advantage of heightened interest.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said the relevant committees were working with Obama's transition team to solve the problems. She added a request that reporters should help her find her lost cellphone.

Congress decided in 2005 to require all TV stations to broadcast only in digital to free up airwaves for public safety use in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and for auctioning to telecom companies to shrink the federal deficit. "What'd we take in, $17 billion or so? Man, THAT'll shrink the deficit like a jelly donut will shrink Oprah," said a former administration official, who requested anonymity.

Some have suggested that Oprah Winfrey's recent weightgain will use up too many of the digits, and that this will further weaken the nation's switch to digital TV.

People with cable, satellite or phone company TV services will continue to receive broadcast stations, even if they don't "get" them. But those who rely on antennas must have either a newer TV with a digital receiver or get a converter box. No-frills versions of those boxes cost $40 to $70. Frilly versions cost up to $15,000, but include a FEMA trailer. To offset the expense, the federal government allocated $1.5 billion to provide households with up to two $40 coupons.

But Monday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said the program had used all allocated funds. The agency has about 1.1 million still waiting, which stretches around the block many times.

Still, the nearly 8 million households that rely on antennas and are unprepared for the conversion face the prospect of paying full price for converter boxes during a recession -- or watching their TVs go blank after the switch. About 535,000 of those homes are in the L.A. market, the Nielsen Co. says.

In a letter Thursday to key members of Congress, John Podesta, co-chairman of Obama's presidential transition team, said the Feb. 17 conversion should be delayed, though he did not specify for how long. But with the incoming administration facing economic and foreign policy crises, it does not want to add a major problem with TV viewing in its first weeks in office. "Reruns of Family Ties are still very popular with many of our legislators who embrace family values," he said.

Podesta cited troubles with the converter box coupon program as well as inadequate efforts to educate the public about the switch, and the need to help elderly, poor and rural Americans receive QVC.

"With coupons unavailable, support and education insufficient and the most vulnerable Americans exposed, I urge you to consider a change to the legislatively mandated analog cutoff date," Podesta wrote.

Some Republicans said Obama was needlessly concerned when all Congress needed to do was make small fixes to the program.

"We don't need to bail out the DTV transition program because it isn't failing, and reintroducing uncertainty to the switch will make things worse instead of better," said Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas). "Ditching the deadline and slathering on more millions of taxpayer dollars, however, is just panic. Heck, so some people can't watch us bungle things at the start of a new administration - what's wrong with that? What do the Dems want, anyway, to arm the national guard with screwdrivers and set them loose on Granny's tee-vee?"

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has requested a temporary allocation of $250 million to resolve the coupon program backlog, said acting Administrator Meredith Atwell Baker. She said the Bush administration opposed a delay.

"Congress established everything about this program. We are just the implementers," Baker said. "Why are people watching those old TVs anyway? Everybody I know has a flatscreen."

The National Assn. of Broadcasters was cautious in its response Thursday, saying it was willing to work with Obama and the Congress "to ensure a successful DTV transition, the way we have with HD radio."

Broadcasters have invested billions of dollars in preparing for the switch and are anxious to turn off their analog signals, which use large amounts of electricity, and annoy many by causing dogs to bark. But stations also do not want to lose viewers because their TVs can't receive the digital signals. "We shoulda left it to Beaver. It all went downhill after that," said JB "Curly" Wincock, a retired engineer at an Emporia, Kansas, local TV station.

Friday, January 09, 2009


I was driving around looking for pictures to take. I felt I was missing opportunities, and part of the hobby is seeing things differently. So I took advantage of the 'magic hour' as sunset approached and drove through our development, much of which is yet to be developed.

Looking to get closer to the golf course for a good perspective, at the end of a cul de sac, I found a home under construction. At this stage, they are basically wide open, though this one did have windows and some doors. But the garage was wide open and so I went looking through the house for a back patio which should overlook the course.

I heard noises from within the house and expected I'd find a worker. But no, it was a VERY large crow, which had apparently flown into the garage and then into what will be the great room with kitchen opening into it. The crow would fly hard --directly into a closed window. WHAM! I thought, "broken neck!" but no. The crow would gather itself up and fly in another direction, into another closed window. And somehow lived through it. And again.

I didn't know what to do - was approaching the bird, was actually going to try to pick it up and take it outside, which might not have been good thinking, considering the beak on that thing. I did think to snap a picture, but favored immediate help over photography.

As I approached, it flew back over my head, in the direction from which I had come, and then, free. When I got to the garage it was flying out and up into the sunset, departing with a Bea Arthur deep voiced "Caw."

Today I realize how many times in my life I've been the crow.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


I don't want to go there (somewhere below) but the Time-Warner escalated customer service number I finally extracted from the locals led to a recording. I never got a call back. I don't want to even think about that mess of poor service.

But this post is about a great movie we just saw. This film is just so good, and odd, and at the same time, so touching. I am glad it was dark in the theater because my eyes kept watering (and I'm not even sure why.) F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt.

Special effects age Brad, and maybe even because of that, you can get around his good looks to realize how good - darn good - an actor he is. And then later when you see him as he is in real life, you have to think MAN that guy is good looking.

The film should win an Academy Award for special effects. Brad should win best actor, but maybe won't since the special effects are distracting. We haven't seen DOUBT yet, but expect Phillip Seymour Hoffman to turn in another wowser performance.

Go see Benjamin Button. It's a transcendent movie.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


The Fritos Bowl was a second rate broadcast in so many ways. The broadcast crew was awful. Sorry guys. Mister PBP had a bad microphone for a long run or I just got used to the rasp. They got so much wrong, too. You can sure appreciate a good crew when you hear a bad one! The Longhorns and Ohio State deserved better!

At least the Longhorns won, and at least there were some good plays, but it wasn't really the clash we expected or hoped for.

It seemed to us that whenever we had the ball, whoever had it was usually surrounded by a whole gaggle of Ohio State guys. However, when Ohio had the ball, our guys were away somewhere, or if there was contact, there'd be one or two missed tackles for every one there was.

Expectations: easy to have, hard to meet. When a team can play as good as Texas can, you expect miracles. It just wasn't their best game.

I did love the hurry up which screwed Ohio State so well.

You cannot take away the record for the season, which speaks volumes for the team, the program, the players.

And, uh, Fritos, that trophy is so GAY. C'mon.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


I have a pro AUDIO editing suite. Photoshop elements and Premiere elements. That's the video editor.

My god it's a pain to hack away on this platform! I want to do frame accurate edits, think I do, but then see a choppy playback - or is that a 'preview?' Then, since the source has been transferred from video tapes when you had to carry a suitcase-sized recorder, I have to bump up brightness and contrast and even color correct. Yes, it can be done, but what a SLOW pain. I'm sure rendering will take an overnight session.

I considered upgrading Premiere but couldn't see any REAL enhancement which appealed to me. I must say, this whole video adventure makes Apple's seemingly more user friendly computers attractive.

Only a ton more edits to go. Yuk.