Category Archives: Random

One Month

Baby Schein #2 was one month old yesterday.  Very busy several weeks.  I’ll be writing more shortly, including a review of Deadliest Warrior and hopefully, if I get around to it, a bit on why I think Steve Jobs is more evil and much more dangerous than Bill Gates ever was.

My iTunes Library

Prompted by Eugenia’s post about her iTunes library, I decided to post a glimpse of my own library. My library is still awaiting a massive import of my CDs, which will add several thousand songs.  Here are the vitals:

5406 tracks, 29.18 GB on disk, 17 days

Only 2699 have something in the “play count” field.   I’ve noticed that for whatever reason, it doesn’t register a play count unless you finish the song. Also, many of these were in an iTunes library on a previous PC. This library actually goes back until about 2000, was first in iTunes on Windows in approximately 2003, and was first moved to an iBook in 2005, and was finally rebuilt on my second Mac, a MacBook Pro in 1996.  Since then, it’s been ported to two different iMacs.)

Most played tracks:

1. “Shankhill Butchers” by The Decemberists (104)
2. “Tennessee Jed” by The Grateful Dead (104)
3. “Leslie Anne Levine” by The Decemberists (101)
4. “Terrapin Station” by The Grateful Dead (100)
5. “Circle” by Portal (99)

Most tracks by the same artist:
1. Phish (442)
2. The Decemberists (112)
3. DMB (110)
4. The Beatles (71)
5. Pearl Jam (68)
6. The Pat McGee Band (61)
7. Guns N Roses (51)
8. The Grateful Dead (48)

Oldest track added in iTunes library: 3059 tracks added on 4/11/06
Newest track added: “Alaska” by Phish: 1/2/2010

Shortest track: “Wilkins Hyundai and Suburu” by Peter Griffin: 7 seconds
Longest track: “35 Minute Jam” by Phish: 35:33 minutes

Lowest Bitrate: “It’s Gary Shandling’s Show” 19 kbps (mp3)
Highest Bitrate: Several self-ripped WAV files at 1411 kbps (wav)

The Amazing Clock Batteries

I was Bar Mitzvahed on December 3, 1988.  That day, I received a slew of gifts, as any young Jewish man becoming a Bar Mitzvah does.  One of the gifts I received was a Seiko “World Clock” from the Webber family.  I remember using it almost immediately, so either December 4 or December 5 of 1988 is when I gave the clock its first breath of life.

ClockThe clock came with generic batteries.  They were a brand called “National Hi-Top.”  I can’t say I’d ever heard of them — before or since — however, I used them anyway. This clock became my “main” clock right away.  I used it beginning at age 13 for school.  Its distinctive alarm chime – “Beep beep beep beep! Beep beep beep beep! Beep beep beep beep! New York: six forty-eight, AM!” would repeat ad nauseum until I dragged myself out of bed to turn it off.

Nonetheless, the World Clock worked for me through the remainder of junior high, all of high school, and all of college without flinching.  Sometime around the end of college I started to realize that the batteries in the clock had lasted a pretty long time.  In fact, the were about to mark a decade of action despite being in use 24 hours a day for 10 straight years and housing an alarm deployed over 200 days a year.

December 4, 1998, I called my parents to let them know that the National Hi-Tops were still kicking.

I noted sometime in December of 2003 that the clock was still plugging away, marking 15 years of action.  Pretty impressive for a clock, but much more impressive for generic batteries.  If you go to your local CVS, Walgreens, or where ever you buy your batteries, you’ll note that batteries generally have an “expiration date” about 10 years hence.  This is because, in time, the liquid inside a battery can dry.  The lifespan of a shelved battery is about a decade.

BatteriesSo imagine my surprise come December 2008, when my little clock celebrated its twentieth year of service.  I’m not entirely sure that this is common today in either batteries or electronics, to have a solid build like this.  My clock has journeyed from the confines of Simsbury, CT, to Harrisonburg, VA and back many times.  It moved with me through Virginia from Vienna to Fairfax to Arlington to Fairlington, then to Florida from to Orlando, Deltona, and Altamonte… twice.  This clock has actually been with me, on the same batteries, for more of my life than it hasn’t.  Pretty crazy.

Sometime in the last year or two, I moved on to a different clock for day to day use largely because there is no snooze button on the world clock.  However, it still sits here in our house running.  When I played with it last week, upon tapping the time zone keys, I noticed the electric, but very British lady’s voice began to warble a little.  The ol’ girl has since gotten back on track, but it was the first sign she has ever shown of aging.

tn_clocksm31tn_clocksm41 I love my world clock, but mostly I love that she just keeps hanging in there. It’s gone from a hope that the clock survives to a simple interest in seeing how long the batteries will live. It’s impossible to predict how long AA batteries should last, as that fact is governed entirely by the device they are powering and much much power it draws.  However, I think it’s safe to conclude that these are fairly extraordinary.

Whose Clues? Blue’s Clues!

Rarely does an entire day pass without me watching at least some span of the Noggin channel.  The host of Noggin, the animated Moose A. Moose, is my daughter’s favorite.  She’s gone through phases of enjoying Pinky Dinky Doo, The Backyardigans, and Jack’s Big Music Show, but she has been captivated by Moose since she was just 4 months old.   She also has shown a lot of interest in Dora the Explorer.  

Steve: Lame, But He Knows It

Steve: Lame, But He Knows It, Thus, Cool

Lately, due mostly to Noggin’s schedule change, she’s been watching a lot of Blue’s Clues.  At first, I hated this show.  It’s about as dumbed down as a show can get, at first glance.  But lately, I’ve been realizing something: I’ve picked up a lot of sign language in passing glances. 

Blue’s Clues is not that interesting.  As a show, it’s really basic, and not very interesting.  Unlike, say, Sponegbob Squarepants, where after 40 seconds, if the kid walks away, I watch the rest, Blue’s Clues is completely boring.  I’ll happily shut it off.  And yet, when she is watching, I love that she’s getting the sign.  

I have to admit that I like Steve much better than Joe.  Steve  was natural with sign language.  And he seemed genuine, if possible.  He was a normal dude, just chillin’ with his animated dog Blue, who apparently, would only communicate via elaborate clues to a master puzzle.  The whole thing was very normal, in an “I have an animated blue dog who leaves me clues to answer simple questions which I figure out whilst signing and then track in a notepad for future reference” kind of way.  

Steve was also a very routine oriented guy.  Same shirt, every day: none of this new-fangled several colors nonsense.  Also, he didn’t grin all the time like a complete tool. 

 

Joe: Thinks He's Cool, Is Actually D-Bag

Joe: Thinks He's Cool, Is Actually D-Bag

But Joe sucks.  Joe is always giving a stupid, goofy grin that deserves a slap.   Unlike Steve, who seemed generally laid back did a great job of hosting a kid’s show, Joe was a trying-too-hard pretty-boy who spent his time hosting Blue’s Clues living in Steve’s big shadow.  Aside from having a much more polished and “I wanna be an actor” finish, he was so effortful in his performance that it came off as both condescending and tiring.  His silly oversmiling and unnatural “side running” is so odd looking it leaves me wanting to take Steve out for a beer, just for not sucking so much.  

I think Joe is an actor thrilled to have a gig, trying so hard to be good at it, and yet, coming off as so desperate it makes me roll my eyes.  Every emotion is so overplayed I’m sure my 14 month old must mutter “What a sodding twit” under her breath. 

Either way, Blue’s Clues, despite being entirely blowsome as a TV show, is pretty decent as an education tool, largely due to the amount of ASL mushed into the show.  If your kid has to watch something, you could do a lot worse than Blue’s Clues, which is likely why a show that ran from the mid nineties through 2005 or so is still aired several times a day.

Bumper Sticker and Lawn Sign Etiquette

My friend and I recently discussed election bumper sticker and lawn sign “rules” we’d like to see made into law. Our proposal goes as follows:

  • If your candidate wins, you are alloted 60 days or until the next major holiday to leave a bumper sticker on your car. You are allowed 5 days for lawn signs.
  • If you candidate loses, you are permitted a mere 48 hours to get the signs out of the ground, and just a scad longer at 72 hours to get the bumper stickers off, unless it’s a weekend sooner, in which case, by Saturday.

I think you look like an idiot with campaign stickers on your car any more than 3 months after an election. I still see people with “W 04″ stickers on their car. Aside from the fact that I can’t believe there are actually people who think that this country is better off than in 2004, I think it looks so tacky to leave them on your auto. I saw a car the other day that had a “Clinton/Gore ’96″ sticker on it – I swear. I couldn’t believe it.

So, please, do us all a favor: if you’ve got lawn signs in the ground, go ahead and remove them this weekend. If you were a McCain/Palin supporter, please remove your bumper stickers tomorrow, the 8th. If you were an Obama/Biden backer who adorned your car, congratulations, go ahead and celebrate until, say, Thanksgiving. But please, don’t let us catch you with those stickers after New Years, okay?

Things in General

Lots of really interesting stuff is going on right now, most of which I can’t talk about just yet.  It has kept me, in large part, from focusing on firsttube.com, which I regret.  I don’t want this site to devolve into reposting of political crap.  But many things are keeping my occupied.  I promise I will chronicle “things” soon enough, as soon as I know how everything shakes out.  

In the meantime, today is my baby girl’s first birthday.  It’s odd thinking she’s been around for a full year now.  It really seems like just recently she was born, and yet, at the same time, I can’t really remember life without her, so it feels like she’s been around for much longer than just the last year.   

It is truly amazing, the experience of parenthood.  You never think it will be, but it constantly is.

Criteria By Which You Can Judge A Public Restroom

Overall cleanliness
I’m talking overall. Is there nasty paper towels thrown about? Are there available trash bins?

Tightness of the TP holder
Does the toilet tissue roll easily or is it tight? When you pull it, does it break before it rolls?

Are There Seat Covers?
These days, it’s commonplace to have toilet seat shaped tissue that cover the potentially offending public lid. I think most appreciate that as an option.

Is the Floor Dry?
Is the floor wet and nasty? Or is it dry and shiny? A wet floor – not wet from mopping, which is also bad, but wet from… uh… general use – is disgusting. Dry floor is always best.

Noise Level/Fan Presence
All bathrooms should have ambient noise. A small fan provides a level of discretion for any given stallman seeking to expel a standard dose of flatulence. Silence in a toilet is horrible for a stall-goer with company by the urinal. I can only imagine this is ten times worse in the ladies’ room.

Paper or Dryer?
Are there paper towels or an air dryer? Ideally, there should be both. Some prefer one or the other. Although air is cleaner (or so “they” say), I prefer a paper towel, which is faster and more effective at actually drying. I do not like ritzy cloth towels.

Paper Ply
Simply: one ply or two. I can live with 1 ply, but 2 is always superior for a proper and effective cleansing.

Number of Stalls
A single stall is a cardinal sin. Should one visitor have a bout with his bowels that requires an extended stay of several minutes – or, God help him, hours – the next guy is screwed and had better be well practiced in “holding it.” No eatery should ever be permitted to host only a single stall.

Space in Stall
If my knees hit the door whilst seated, or if when closing the door, I have to inhale and press myself against the other wall, or if the fronts of my shoes prtrude past the virtual extension of the door to the floor, the stall is just plain too small. A decent stall has enough room to comfortably close and open the door and doesn’t force the user to contort himself to fit.

Number of Sinks
A sink in the stall is always a bonus, but any restroom that isn’t a single unit should have at least 2 sinks. No one wants to wait for the big dude in front of him to finish, but more importantly, no one wants to use a nasty sink that has been filled with wet paper towels or other backwash. In the event of an “out of order,” a backup should be present.

Does the Autoflush Spray Ass or Seat?
If you have an autoflush mechanism, particularly an overeager one that likes to flush should one lean forward in the slightest manner, does it spray either ass or seat? A wet ass is an absolute no-no, and a flusher that douses the seat is equally annoying.

Ease of Access
A bathroom placed by a very public area where other visitors can measure your visit in time and number is an immediate negative point.

Can it Handle a Crowd?
If there are several people in the restroom, how does it fare? Space outside the stall is good too.

Space Between the Door and the Hinge
If the gap between the door and the hinge is too great, passers-by can have a gander and check out your sitting session. It seems a lot of public restrooms have this problem, where you feel the need to patrol the line of light that permits strangers to view your most intimate of activities. All stall makers should go to great lengths to assure that the door affords no more than 1/8th of an inch of view-space. If that’s not possible, get as close as you can.

Amount of TP
There should always be a backup roll, no question. If it’s not a commercial stall with a multi-roll holder that either has two side by side or one above the other, there ought be a small stash nestled behind the bowl or beneath the tank.

Does the Door Lock Easily/Properly?
If I have to apply some sort of special force, such as lifting the door with my foot or pushing down in order to lock a door, the bathroom is a fail. A stall – in my mind – is unusable without a proper lock.

Flush Power
One flush ought to clear the bowl, even for a most powerful excretion. Nobody – and I say nobody pretty firmly – wants to be greeted by a stranger’s turd crumbs, plain and simple. If you employ a standard gravity swirl flush rather than a commercial-like pressure assist, you should be wary. The standard “flush, whirpool, siphon” toilet, based largely on gravitational force, is demonstrably not as effective as removing offensive fecal bits that give public restrooms a bad image as the more powerful alternative. A single pressure assist jet will usually clean up a bowl, but a residential WC may require a bit more work. Sad for the small Mom-and-Pop restaurant, to be sure.

Well, that about does it. Those are the criteria by which I’d judge any public restroom.