There’s a bulletin board in the break room at work, upon which people often place little newspaper clippings thought to be of interest to the office population at large… they get changed often, and make for a nice diversion while you’re waiting for the god-awful coffee to brew.
But today the newspaper article (I assume this came from the L.A. Times) was titled something like “What to do When You’re Heading for the Cold”, and it was a whole half-page article about preparing to go outside of Los Angeles to one of those scary places with snow.
Things like, you know, dressing warmly in layers? They spend about three paragraphs telling people in Los Angeles how to dress warmly. Three paragraphs telling grown adults that you need to wear warm clothes when you go out in the cold. The article also recommended taking brief walks at night (When it’s usually a bone-chilling 50 degrees or so in the winter) for a few days before your trip to get yourself “acclimated.”
And then - this was the icing on the cake - they mentioned the risks of hypothermia and frostbite, cautioning that “Even a mild case of frostbite should receive medical attention.”
Do people here really need to be told that? Do people here go up to the mountains and play in the snow until the skin of their fingertips actually crystalizes from the cold, and just go back in for cocoa wondering why they can’t feel anything in their fingers? Serves them right if that’s actually the case.
As soon as I crossed the threshold, I began to feel a curious burning sensation coming from my back pocket.This past Sunday I took the Metro from Universal City down to Hollywood, to checkout the Shag exhibit at the La Luz de Jesus gallery.
I had never been to the gallery, so I wasn’t sure what to expect; their web site has timely information about current and upcoming shows, but the “Store” section wasn’t working last time I checked and I didn’t look at the “Virtual Tour” link… so I was thinking there would be a small gallery housing the exhibit and a smaller selection of other works, and maybe a bookshelf with a few things for sale by the door; Shag books, Shag t-shirts, whatever.
Holy Crap, La Luz de Jesus was right there near the corner of Hollywood and Vermont all those times I went down to volunteer at Hollyhock House and the Ennis-Brown House? What have I been missing?
Upon entering, you can’t even really see the gallery proper; much of the building is occupied by a sprawling and eclectic bookstore/gift/pop culture store.
In a nutshell, this store is Archie McPhee meets every book on my Amazon wishlist, plus more cool crap than I ever imagined could be found for sale under one roof. As soon as I crossed the threshold, I began to feel a curious burning sensation coming from my back pocket. I soon realized this was caused by my wallet slowly smoldering its way through my jeans.
It’s one thing to poke around on a website and look at all the things you’d like to buy when the threat of immediate gratification is removed and shipping charges added, but it’s quite another when all those cool things you’ve looked at online are all there right in front of you, ready to be carried to the cash register and then home. That Amazon wishlist comment was no joke; they really do have pretty much all of the art/design/pop culture books I’ve been adding to my list for the past couple of years, and even some of the lounge CDs. Add all the tiki paraphernalia (more than I’ve ever seen in one place - not that I’ve spent a lot of time looking - yet), action figures, and stupid toys, and you’ve got a store that feels like it was stocked exclusively for this late-20’s post-pop wanna-be geek.
I was proud of myself - I managed to leave only about $5.00 poorer than when I went in. $1.00 got me an oversized postcard of one of the Shag paintings in the exhibit, and $3.95 got me the most recent copy of Tiki News, which to date I only knew as a website; I didn’t know they published the occaisional ‘Zine as well.
If it sounds like I’m tiki-fixated, it’s because I am, and I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It started when I began to get more familiar with Shag’s work last fall, and then some idle web surfing turned up a surprising volume of pages and sites devoted to all things tiki.
My first visit to the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland last November didn’t help, either. (I’d been to Disneyland numerous times before, but the Enchanted Tiki Room is one of those attractions that everyone else never wants to do.)
Now that I’ve found a store which could pretty much turn our already retro-flavored apartment into a full-blown tiki paradise, there’s no telling where this could lead. Just last night I discovered that there’s a place in Ventura called Tiki Trader, and of course I still need to visit Oceanic Arts in Whittier.
This is also partly a result of my determination to make the most of the time we spend living in SoCal; I’m not likely to find as much of this stuff in New England.
Almost exactly two years ago, I ordered a PalmOS handeld called a Visor Deluxe from a company called Handspring.
At the time, the only way to get one was by ordering direct from the company... in the months before I ordered mine, demand for Handspring's Visors was so high that shipping delays of weeks and even months were often reported. I received mine in just under a week, and since then I rarely go anywhere without my organizer. I even put the Handspring window cling in the window of my car.
Handspring was attractive because of its built-in "Springboard Slot", which allows you to plug in different modules to expand the functionality of the handheld. Only a couple were available at the time I bought my Visor, but the concept was quite popular and there were many companies who had announced plans to release all sorts of different modules.
After the initial purchase of the Visor itself came the folding keyboard this is being typed on, a used Handspring modem, and an Eyemodule camera. A Christmas gift in 2000 upgraded me from my Visor Deluxe to a 16-bit color Visor Prism, and before my trip to New York last February I purchased a Handspring Backup Module, and I upgraded my cellphone to a Motorola StarTAC; I also purchased a VisorStarTAC cable from Cables4PDAs.com, giving me wireless internet access from my Prism. The very last thing I bought for my Visor was one of the first Compact Flash adaptor modules, the Matchbook Drive... that was nearly a year ago.
In addition to all the money I've spent on Handspring products and related third-party peripherals, I've done a fair amount of evangelizing for Handspring's Visor line; I know of at least five people who have purchased Visors thanks in part (sometimes in whole) to my recommendation. I've written two PDA-related articles for Webmonkey, and for a while (before I began spending so much time on this site) I was planning to get into PalmOS programming. I love my Visor and accessories; I can sit here in the nice, quiet cafeteria at work and write new content for my site, and if I want I can even put it online with my cell phone!
So I'm a little bit annoyed with Donna Dubinsky's vague announcement this last Tuesday (January 15) that Handspring is exiting the traditional handheld market. Now, she didn't say they're abandoning the Visor or Springboard slot, but what else could her statement mean, especially with no further details to explain what she was talking about.
No product line lasts forever, but Handspring's entire pitch of the last two years has been interchangeability; the Springboard you bought for your original Visor would conceivably work in your 3rd, 4th, or 5th generation Visor, providing the same expanded functionality.
The Springboard concept has not done as well as Handspring anticipated... and their only choice may be to abandon it - but like many other loyal Handspring users I have to wonder... why make an announcement which essentially renders your entire inventory of "Traditional Organizers" obsolete and undesirable to prospective buyers?
It seems like a bad move... and since their new product doesn't have a Springboard slot and is priced way out of my range (The PDA/cellphone hybrid is attractive, but not as attractive as the Springboard expansion option), I don't see any reason to stay with Handspring if and when my Prism bites the dust... even if I was interested enough in a Treo to buy one, I would probably decide against it lest Handspring discontinue those as well.
I think what is also getting a lot of people down (me included) is how exciting the Visor was when it came out, and how much more optimistic the tech world was in general. Having my trusty Visor thrown on the scrap heap along with the job market and the economy just adds insult to injury.
Addendum: Handspring has clarified their position without clarifying it all that much. On Visorcentral.com a Handspring rep has pretty much said that while they're not axing the Visor product line right now, they are dropping their only Color model (with no plans for an improvement), and discontinuing the Neo, Pro, and Edge at an indeterminate point in the future. In other words... why buy more Visors and related products? They're already obsolete, especially the Prism.
What these arguments remind me of is guys who hem and haw when it comes to neutering their male pets because they somehow find it threatening to their own masculinity.(Wow, another Apple-related post, and I don’t even own one yet. I’m not becoming a fanatic, I promise.)
Reaction to the new iMac has been predictably split between high praise and snide derision… but the reasons tech journalists use to pan the new design are (for the most part) really petty.
David Coursey is all bent out of shape because Apple gave Time magazine the scoop instead of him. He spends another paragraph wringing his hands over the compact form factor; his argument goes something like:
I don’t need my hardware wrapped up in a neat little package. I just put my big manly tower under my desk. Therefore, there’s no market for a computer designed like this.
Similar articles I’ve read elsewhere (sorry, none of them were memorable enough to track down; otherwise I’d provide links) take a similar tone, smugly criticizing the new form factor.
Nobody will take the new iMac seriously; what do you expect from a computer that looks like a desk lamp?! [Insert nerdly sarcastic snort here]
One article went so far as to quote somebody whose big concern was
“Think of your desk lamp and how many times you have knocked it over”
It doesn’t really look like a desklamp, you know; both lamps and the new iMac have articulated arms, yes, but that’s really about it. It’s very small for a full-featured desktop system, but we’re still talking a base that’s 10 1/2 inches in circumference and densely packed with electronic components; that’s a lot bigger than any desklamp I’ve seen. The “Think of how many times you’ve knocked your desk lamp over” analogy just doesn’t work. If you’ve got problems with repeatedly knocking stuff off your desk, maybe you should work on that before you buy any computer at all.
What these arguments remind me of is guys who hem and haw when it comes to neutering their male pets because they somehow find it threatening to their own masculinity;
“But my peers won’t think I’m 31337 if I don’t have a big huge box full of noisy fans under my desk! Therefore the new iMac sucks!”
I can appreciate and even agree with the criticisms about the lack of expandability, but that doesn’t make the iMac a bad machine. Feh.
it’s a good thing that about 99% of the stuff coming out nowadays is utter crap, because otherwise I could never hope to keep on top of new music worth buying.I’ve been trying to break myself out of my musical heavy rotation rut over the last few days; rather than grabbing a stack of my more recently purchased CDs to bring to work (from, say, the last year or two) I’ve grabbed lots of my older ones, going all the way back to when I started buying compact discs around 1990.
Not surprisingly, I listened to a lot of the stuff and thought to myself,
“Damn, I forgot what a good album this is!”
On the heels of which I think
“Damn, I have to get the rest of their recordings!”
Then, in a lot of cases, I realize just how old some of my most recent recordings of an artist are.
Case in point, Primus. Right now I’m listening to my most recent Primus CD, Pork Soda. It was released nearly NINE YEARS AGO. Holy crap! And yet I still think of it as “the new Primus album”. How did I get so far behind? I think what happened was my being a starving college student combined with a shift in taste away from some of the stranger stuff I took such pride in listening in high school and my freshman year of college.
Actually, now that I think about it I know exactly what that shift was: I discovered Sugar, who to this day remains just about my favorite band of all time. (And finally, after a looooong three and a half-year wait, there are two Bob Mould albums on the way!)
At the time Tales From the Punchbowl came out, what I heard of the album didn’t grab me, for whatever reason. A few years later when I heard Tim Alexander had left the band, I sort of wrote them off, much to my own discredit. More recently I’ve heard some of the newer stuff with Brain on drums, and it left me wanting more… more, dammit!
Going back even further, there are so many other artists whose back catalogs I need to get; Deep Purple, Kiss (I’m doing fairly well there, although I would like to have all of the recently remastered versions), Zappa, The Beatles, Dave Brubeck Quartet, etc, etc… it’s a good thing that about 99% of the stuff coming out nowadays is utter crap, because otherwise I could never hope to keep on top of new music worth buying. It’s all I can do to keep on top of old music worth buying.
There's something to be said for taking the guts of the computer and basically turning them into a weighted base that supports the monitor; it's an excellent union of form and function.I actually saw the new iMac on Sunday night, when it appeared in an article on Timecanada's web site in an article dated "January 14, 2002". The general assumption is that this was an error on Timecanada's part, but two days later there's no word of any legal action by Apple against them.
Anyway, my immediate reaction to the new design was ambivalent; I wasn't crazy about the look of the dome, but I'm all over the swiveling flat screen monitor.
When the computers were officially announced with specs yesterday, I got a lot more interested, and I'm definitely buying into the shift in perception the new iMac could bring to the consumer computing market. I hated the original iMac, having used them for cross-platform web page testing at both Edmunds and Stan Lee Media. I understand that in the last couple of years the line was upgraded considerably, but those originals were woefully underpowered and prone to crashing every 20 minutes. The other thing I really, really hated was the way they were marketed; not as an easy to use, all-in-one computer, but as a fashion accessory/piece of candy. One billboard in particular, which featured pictures of all five of those original fruity colors, made me especially apoplectic - the only word on the billboard was "Yum."
That being said, it's easy to forget how heavily the industrial design of the original iMac has influenced competitors' designs since 1998; nearly all of the major PC manufacturers have at least streamlined their boxes in the wake of the iMac and switched from beige metal to shiny plastic, with many adopting Apple's idea of bright colors. The original white and aqua color scheme was applied to all manner of peripherals and accessories.
My main criticism of applying so much design to something as purely functional as a computer has been that it becomes impossible to add third-party peripherals without the thing looking like crap; how good is a new, beige CD-RW drive going to look sticking out of your HP's smoky gray plastic case? And if your computer's going to be a big rectangular box, what difference does it make whether it's shiny plastic or beige metal?
With these new iMacs, expandability is much less of an issue for me; the hardware spec is much better than the first ones I used, and since ethernet, 56K modem, and firewire are all standard there's not a lot else I'd want to add except memory, which can be expanded all the way to 1 gigabyte- not bad for a consumer-level desktop machine. For what I'd be doing with it (programming, surfing, graphics work), a mid-range iMac would be entirely adequate.
As for processor speed, I wish people would get it through their thick skulls that you can't directly compare Motorola clock speeds to Intel clock speeds, as explained here. And unless you're a seriously hardcore gamer/Video Editor/multimedia artist (in which case you wouldn't be looking at an iMac anyway), you don't necessarily need the latest and greatest PowerPC/Pentium IV processor. For me personally, I'm liking the new iMac feature/cost ratio a lot when you factor in the flat panel display.
The form factor is what's really winning me over, though; aside from reducing desktop clutter, I think the new iMac design will encourage people to think of their computer not as an intimidating entity sitting on their desk, but as more of an appliance. I mean, I don't have the slightest clue about how an automatic dishwasher works on the inside, but I'm not afraid to throw some dishes in and just use the thing the way some people are afraid to use their computers. The desklamp analogy is already tired (Every other sentence about the new iMac on ZDnet uses the words desk lamp), but there's something to be said for taking the guts of the computer and basically turning them into a weighted base that supports the monitor; it's an excellent union of form and function.
At this point I'm thinking that maybe I'll set my sites on one of the new iMacs as my next computer; while still unrealistic given my current financial situation, it's a little less far-fetched than my coveted Ti PowerBook.
As detached as I try to remain from the show biz currents that run so strongly through greater L.A., I’m still something of a tourist when it comes to celebrities.I stopped at Robbie Mac’s in Sherman Oaks to pick up a pizza on my way home from work tonight (well, last night, since it’s after midnight now). On my way in I had noticed a beautiful, big old car parked by the new stand at the corner of Ventura and Van Nuys boulevards. I parked behind the building, but walked back around to the news stand to get a closer look, and when I saw Jay Leno (known automobile collector/enthusiast) I cleverly deduced that the car belonged to him.
As I walked by him I said something to the effect of,
“I was wondering who that car belonged to! It’s gorgeous!”
to which Jay replied “Thanks, thanks.”
As detached as I try to remain from the show biz currents that run so strongly through greater L.A., I’m still something of a tourist when it comes to celebrities. I find that it’s a lot easier to talk to one if the context is something other than them being famous and you recognizing them; I didn’t want to bug Jay Leno, but I did genuinely want to compliment him on his car, so it was no big deal.
Similarly, I had a nice conversation with David Caruso a few years ago when he came through the Ennis House for a tour… I was a docent there at the time, and my job that day was to follow along behind the tour groups, making sure nobody wandered off into the house. David Caruso stuck to the rear of the group, and asked me some questions about the house - contrary to public perception and/or reputation, he was a really nice guy. Claire Forlani was also in the group, but I didn’t talk to her.
I’ve seen Gary Collins and R.D. Call at our nearby Ralph’s supermarket multiple times, and once we saw Brian Setzer messing with a hotrod at a gas station in Santa Monica. I’m sure there have been others, but those are the ones that pop into mind at the moment.
Probably my dorkiest celebrity moment was when I approached Joey Ramone at the House of Guitars in Rochester, but he was nice despite my fumbling compliments and thanks for his music. In the four years I spent in Rochester, I only went to H.O.G. once, and that just happened to be the day the Ramones had a show in town - and apparently everybody who’s anybody in the music biz stops by H.O.G. when they’re in town. I’m glad to have met him; it was a shame when he died so relatively young last spring.
Thankfully the family in one of the aparments across the street wasn't launching bottle rockets towards our buiilding this year as they've done in years past.I ushered in the new year with TCM's Marx Brothers marathon, which was a nice throwback to the ones that Boston Channel 38 used to do.
Other than that, uneventful - thankfully the family in one of the aparments across the street wasn't launching bottle rockets towards our buiilding this year as they've done in years past.
Here's hoping for a better (economically, professionally, and politically) year for all of us in 2002.