Ramblings from Your Imaginary Friend

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Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Billy 12:52 PM - Well, SOMEONE's still using Livejournal.
What's up with all the Russian Spam posted as comments?

current mood: annoyed

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
Billy 4:25 PM - crickets
If anyone's wondering why I'm not posting updates, I'm fairly active on Facebook and Twitter. E-mail me for details since I'm not silly enough to write my account info here.

current mood: sick

Friday, May 8th, 2009
Billy 8:44 PM - Star Trek Nitpicks
Drats, because the new Star Trek movie takes place in an alternate timeline, the differences between the movie and the previous incarnations of Trek don't matter. I remember the geek furor over the redesign of the Enterprise. Nevertheless, I have a few nitpicks:

• Kirk and Scotty both use minor foul language. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home established that foul language was archaic in Kirk's time. Kirk was so unaccustomed to it that one of his attempts of using it was the clumsy "Well, a double dumb ass on you!"

• The shields do nothing. Ok, I can accept that weapons from a future ship could pass straight through the defensive shields of the Kelvin and the Enterprise. Debris, however, should bounce off the shields and not get close to the Enterprise's hull. Likewise, dust in Titan's atmosphere shouldn't spill off of the hull; the deflector shield would've formed a bubble around the ship.

• Where are the planetary defenses? Vulcan and Earth rely on starships to save the day. How about terrestrial and orbital weapons? Space platforms? Ships local to the solar systems?

• The number of Vulcan survivors is low. Vulcans were a space-faring race long before they made first contact with Earth. The show Enterprise established that they had outposts and a significant fleet. Thus, many Vulcans would've been off-planet.

• Delta Vega shouldn't be anywhere near Vulcan.

Of course, the number of references and homages to original Star Trek greatly outnumber these nitpicks. I'll leave geekier people to compile them all.

current mood: bored

Sunday, January 25th, 2009
Billy 7:45 PM - I wanna dip my balls in it!

current mood: relaxed

Saturday, January 10th, 2009
Billy 8:00 AM - Snap Snap

I don't yet have the hang of my new camera. I need to experiment with it but, in two hours, I'll be photographing scenes with plenty of motion.

current mood: sore

Sunday, January 4th, 2009
Billy 9:48 AM - Ball of Cheese Day
Target's Christmas items went on clearance at 90% off today. I bought the usual assortment of cheapie gifts and giftwrapping supplies. I also bought some Target-exclusive holiday CDs. I snagged this year's selection the day after Christmas but I hid extra copies in the normal CD section; the extras either make nice gifts or a nice profit on eBay.

On my way to the register, I noticed that one of the frozen foods freezers had clearance tags on a shelf. Behold- holiday cheese balls for 34 cents! They expire next October so I bought 20 of them. I found five different flavors but most were cheddar Port wine. I tried some when I got home and it was mediocre at best. I'm not going back to Target to buy the remaining stock. It's good enough for sandwiches and salads, however. Oh well, I normally spend at least $6 on individual cheeses; $6 isn't bad for 9 months' worth of cheddar.

current mood: cold

Friday, November 14th, 2008
Billy 7:14 PM - Protests
I've witnessed three protests in the past week, two of which by happenstance. A day after the most recent protest, the following flyer has become omnipresent:

I'll take pictures at City Hall tomorrow. "Souix Falls" is a strange misspelling.

current mood: itchy

Billy 2:47 AM - Rosebud

current mood: thirsty

Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Billy 1:14 AM - Election Cover-age

The San Francisco Chronicle has been selling extra copies of today's paper as souvenirs of the historic election. They also have prints, mugs, mousepads, t-shirts and whatnot of the front cover for sale online. If you want a digital souvenir, a high-resolution pdf is also available online.

Despite all the celebrations for Obama, I'm still disgusted about the results for CA proposition 8. I've lived to see the day an African-American man has been elected president; I doubt I'll live long enough to see an atheist lesbian elected president for her intelligence, experience and ability to lead, without her gender, race, religion or sexuality being issues in the election.

current mood: contemplative

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Billy 9:41 PM - The Big O

Click the picture if you want a 1920x1080 desktop background.

current mood: relieved

Billy 6:07 AM - Clowning Around
I haven't posted much this year. I've been so busy that, when I get home, I'm usually too tired to hang out online, let alone update this page.

For example, last night I went to Climate Theater's monthly Clown Cabaret. This month's acts loosely followed an election theme. I wish the cabaret had a program because I have a hard time figuring out who all the performers are. The show started with Craig Piaget singing the Star-Spangled Banner with some wedgie-induced high notes. Drew Letchworth played a strange Estonian emcee named Sergei. He led the audience to participate in the storytelling of the "anguish languish" tale of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut which would've been more fun if it had been original material and if I weren't already familiar with the rendition. He cracked me up during the intermission when he asked someone, "Did the naked clown show you his peepee?" My favorite performer was Ed Holmes who did an excellently creepy impersonation of Dick Cheney. "God bless America... and no one else." Cheney came back in drag, pretending to be Sarah Palin but without changing his personality.

The best performer was legendary mime/clown James Donlon. He didn't perform any lunacy. Rather, he repeated a dystopian portrayal I saw last month (I don't know its name.) and performed a piece entitled "Growing Up". You can see the latter at this link 45 minutes into the video.

I also saw a brief absurdist political speech from Gherkin I. Picklewater. He greeted me outside the theater and was intent on shaking the hands of everyone in the audience. That was the first time I had seen him without any clown makeup on.

I know I'm omitting a couple of acts but the "Patriots Against Democracy" (including this couple) performed a few sketches. One involved some conservatives advocating people to vote yes on proposition Q to ban left-handedness and protect the rights of right-handed people and keep their children from being exposed to left-handedness. If anyone's reading this when the news is no longer topical, the sketch is a satire about California's proposition 8.

The silliest bit of fun was the ensemble of Pi Clowns performing a prolonged slow-motion slapstick routine, fighting over a dollar bill.

And now for something completely different,

No, that's not from the Clown Cabaret. I was sleepy at the cabaret because I was out late the night before for the Day of the Dead celebration. That summary is too long for a LiveJournal post so I've posted all my photos and comments HERE. Yes, I need to buy a dSLR soon. My camera sucks in low light; taking pictures of moving people in the dark is even worse. Besides, I partially broke my camera at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass so I need to replace it sooner rather than later.

current mood: sleepy

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008
Billy 12:59 PM - R.I.P. DVDSpot
CNET pulled the plug on DVDSpot.com today after only a couple of weeks' notice. It was a site for cataloging and organizing DVD collections. I'm a film geek with a large library so I used the site almost daily, especially after checking DVDTalk.com's alerts to what seems like a constant barrage of DVD sales. Although I can switch to two other DVD cataloging sites or to a few sites not specific to DVDs, their databases aren't as comprehensive as the one on DVDSpot and their versatility pales in comparison. I saved a copy of my catalog and I can import it to whatever alternative I end up choosing. Nevertheless, I feel sad for all the volunteers and editors who spent countless of hours submitting, updating and correcting all the information on the site.

current mood: blah

Saturday, September 13th, 2008
Billy 1:31 AM - I Hate Tech Support
My DSL was out for the second time in two months. The last time, my phone line was completely disconnected. I'm tired of some newbie on the phone reading a script and asking me if I'm using Windows or Mac and scheduling an appointment so I can wait some vague time between 8 and 5 for a tech guy to come to my house and make sure the problem isn't the internal wiring, my computer or my modem. I specifically told two phone dweebs what the problem was but I still ended up needing an appointment. I refused to schedule it on a weekday because I had more important things to do today. Last night, I even had some "line technician" leave message to inform me that my line was okay and they didn't know what was wrong. Apparently, sometime today, someone with a brain fixed the problem; it was part of their network and had nothing to do with my line or my equipment. And that's what I told them two days ago.

current mood: aggravated

Thursday, June 26th, 2008
Billy 11:21 PM - Feelin' Blu
Heh, my movie collection now has its first Blu-Ray disc. It's Best Buy's free preview disc for Hancock.

I'm currently watching HD-DVDs on my computer via an Xbox HD-DVD drive. Yes, I picked the loser in the format war but clearance sales have allowed me to buy dozens of titles for $6 or less. I did splurge, however, on the collectible HD-DVD briefcase of Blade Runner, the collector's set of Forbidden Planet and the first season of Star Trek.

Now that BD-ROM drives are fairly cheap, I should start watching Blu-Ray titles but I'm waiting to get a good 1080p display. Watching widescreen HD-DVDs on my computer monitor sucks. In the meantime, I'm avoiding buying any DVDs that are also out on Blu-Ray unless I can get them cheap from Columbia House or unless I'm suckered into getting a store-exclusive bonus disc.

current mood: groggy

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Billy 11:54 PM - Starbucks Aren't Cylons
Starbucks mailed me a card for free tall iced brewed coffee every Wednesday through July. (I just noticed that the offer's valid only in 17 states, which is why several friends haven't heard of it.) Anyway, I used it for the first time today and discovered that the barristas have no way of knowing if I've already used the card. Downtown, I literally can walk to over a dozen Starbucks in a few minutes. My local mall has a Starbucks in the food court, a mini-Starbucks on the other side of the mall, another mini-Starbucks inside the Target store and a full 24-hr Starbucks across the street. Needless to say, I've imbibed a ridiculous amount of coffee today. Well, since "tall" in Starbucks' vernacular means small and since the cups of iced coffee are half full of ice, I need three freebies to get a decent serving of coffee. I wouldn't go out of my way to purchase the iced brewed coffee but it's decent, especially when it's free.

I don't normally drink caffeine anymore. And, when I do, I prefer tea over coffee. Also, I'm a soda snob but my favorite fizzy drinks aren't caffeinated. I used to be addicted to coffee, out of necessity, in high school and college. Some mornings required No-Doz. I've come to enjoy regular sleep since then. Some people drink coffee all day during work but, since I'm unaccustomed to it, today's binge has me particularly wired.

current mood: hyper

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008
Billy 11:44 PM
I just watched the special on AFI's 10 Top 10 films. The list itself is underwhelming and debatably favors popular films over influential ones. And the entire list is mainstream. I'm surprised that I haven't seen two of them: Breaking Away and McCabe and Mrs. Miller. At least I own 87 of the 100 on DVD and I've seen 60 on the big screen.. I'm sure some of my friends will have seen only a smattering but any serious film buffs should be able to reenact entire scenes off the tops of their heads.

current mood: hungry

Monday, June 16th, 2008
Billy 11:22 PM - What a Pane
Wtf?! When I got home, I noticed that someone had jimmied open one of my basement windows. I thought my neighborhood was safe and crime-free. A backup lock prevented the window from being opened more than two inches, however. And opening the window just a little bit triggered the alarm. I was just down there three days ago with AT&T repairmen because my phone line and DSL had been kaput for two days. I hope the two events aren't connected. All the repairmen saw in the basement were dozens of stacks of nondescript boxes.

current mood: cold

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008
Billy 3:19 AM - Long Time No See
I just got back from a midnight showing of the new Indiana Jones movie. No surprise- it was a lot of fun. I was surprised, however, that the theater was almost completely packed. I like the kind of crowd who'd attend a midnight showing; they're the kind of people to applaud when actors first appear on the screen and applaud at various names in the closing credits. I'm not sure the movie did justice to its predecessors, unfortunately, but don't get me wrong- like I wrote, it was a lot of fun. I'm sure people will debate whether or not the ending sucked ;-) Modern special effects did set the movie apart visually from scenes like the melting heads of wax at the ark of the covenant. And I don't know how to emphasize this enough: Cate Blanchett was awesome.

Naturally, since Spielberg is a stickler for detail, the Crystal Skull has several connections to the original trilogy so you'll get more out of the movie if you've familiar with Jones' first three screen adventures. The movie also makes a couple of references to The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. It also obliterates the continuity of the "old" Indy in that show. Perhaps that's why those scenes aren't in the recent DVD releases.

By the way, you're silly if you can't figure out the big plot twist involving Mutt.

current mood: sleepy

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008
Billy 7:08 AM - Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla
I rely on computers so much that I barely ever write using pen and paper. When I must use a pen, I tend to print. Handwriting was last useful for writing essays in blue books in college. Anyway, one day I found myself in a dollar store looking at DVDs. The store had over a hundred different titles. Most were horrible movies but a few were Hollywood classics and horror/sci-fi movies cheezy enough to be entertaining. I wrote down what I found on the only paper I had on me- a tattered bus schedule. I wanted to know exactly which titles were worth buying. And some titles would be cheaper in those $10 public domain 50-movie box sets. Sadly, I can't read my own writing. I tried to cram a hundred lines on a flimsy schedule and the existing printing obscures some of my notes. I've discovered another use for Google- deciphering what I wrote! I can search for parts of titles and even enter a wrong word or two and Google can figure out the actual DVD titles. Too bad that doesn't work for phone numbers I can't read.

current mood: hungry

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
Billy 12:41 AM - The Eyes Have It
Argh. I have to visit an optometrist for the third time in a month. I'm glad my eyeglasses have a 3-month warranty so I don't have to keep paying for new lenses every time I get my prescription changed. Why can't these bozos get my prescription correct? In my first visit, the prescription was too weak. I'm only slightly nearsighted and my eyes accomodated to the exam. My eyeglasses worked fine until night: accomodating in low light is difficult and the mind's blur correction also isn't as effective as in daylight. During the last visit, I read the new prescription and disagreed with it but the doctor argued that my left eye has astigmatism. It doesn't. I complained that viewing the photoropter only with that eye didn't produce a satisfactory image and he said both my eyes had to work together. Well, I got my replacement pair of eyeglasses Friday night and used them all weekend to read charts and text from a projector. I realized that the image hitting my left eye was distorted. Straight lines were curved and crooked. I've since done my own optical measurements and know what my prescription should be. Let's see how close my next exam will be. And why the hell are lenses prescribed only in increments of .25 diopters? The refractive error in my left eye is -.87; -.75 is too weak and -1.0 is too strong but helps me see farther away.

This reminds me of my nightmare earlier this year when I had pneumonia. Visits to the generic HMO-provided primary care physician and to the emergency room both made me sicker than I should've been. I ended up having to find a doctor compliant enough to prescribe what I wanted. And I ended up having to treat myself because everyone else was focussing on the wrong symptom. Listening to the quacks ended up with me getting progressively worse and almost having a heart attack. Following my meager knowledge of basic medicine but strong understanding of what was wrong with me led to a crappy 24 hours but recovery after that.

current mood: angry

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007
Billy 8:09 PM - Hellooooo Nurse!
On the way home today, I saw a man using an Animaniacs umbrella and I guffawed. He saw me and said it was the only umbrella he could find. He explained that when the rain started, he ducked into a junk store and bought it (for $3) because it was the only umbrella that worked. He thought the umbrella showed Mickey Mouse and I had to explain who the Animaniacs were. I told him he probably could sell it on eBay. If the wooden handle weren't so beat up, I would've been tempted to buy it myself.

That umbrella reminds me that I miss the Warner Bros. retail stores. I could go for some Marvin the Martian toys or a Pinky and the Brain sweatshirt.

current mood: gloomy

Monday, August 6th, 2007
Billy 5:27 AM - $&*@#!
I was using my computer and it went all apeshit. Programs wouldn't free up memory when they quit and explorer windows wouldn't close. It slowed to a crawl so I saved all my work and rebooted. Well, I tried. Windows would start then reboot, even in safe mode.

I popped out the C: volume's hard drive and stuck it in another computer and backed up every file. Almost every file- my backup computer is running XP Home and can't access the encrypted files; they're backed up to another hard drive, however, but decrypting them is gonna be a hassle. I'm only concerned about a few files I was working on this past week since pretty much everything else had been backed up to optical discs.

Some files wouldn't copy because of file errors. I ran chkdsk on the volume and it spouted out error after error, including bad clusters. As expected, it made the problem files completely disappear but I had made a list of what I couldn't copy.

I'm too busy this week to fix my computer. Because of the bad clusters, I'm going to install a new hard drive. That means I have to install Windows from scratch and reinstall over a hundred programs. Ugh.

So this week, I'm stuck with my crappy backup computer. It has only a 600 MHz CPU and barely chugs along surfing the web. Unfortunately, I don't have Photoshop or Microsoft Office installed on it so I can't access plenty of my files.

I'm glad that most of my documents are on a separate hard drive and backed up on a 2nd separate hard drive. Note to self- stop using Windows file encryption and go back to using PGP.

current mood: exhausted

Thursday, June 21st, 2007
Billy 9:39 PM - Happy Summer Solstice
I had some fun during lunch: The Swedish consulate presents an annual midsummer Jenny Lind concert, here in San Francisco. Both the soprano and pianist were awesome. Too bad the concert was only an hour long.

Here's my crappy YouTube video.

And, last Sunday, Huey Lewis and the News kicked off this year's Stern Grove Festival. Here's a review of the concert. I was nowhere near the stage. It was so crowded, the fire marshall stopped additional people from entering the grove. I had to hang out by the trees.

And here's my crappy YouTube video.

current mood: thirsty

Monday, May 28th, 2007
Billy 11:07 PM - A Wish for Things to Be Unseen
Argh. I can't believe I just watched Paris Hilton give people enemas. That horror was on the season premiere of The Simple Life.

current mood: tired

Thursday, May 24th, 2007
Billy 2:09 AM - Now THAT's a Cliffhanger
I just saw the season finale of Lost. Wow. Just wow. I'm glad it wasn't disappointing like that crappy underwhelming finale Heroes had. I don't want to wait until January for the next season. Argh. The writing and acting are much better than they've been in this relatively bad season. I hope they stay as good for the next go around, the beginning of the end.

current mood: surprised

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007
Billy 10:30 PM - Incarrrrceration
In the not-too-distant future:

Just something ominous and silly.

current mood: annoyed

Friday, April 27th, 2007
Billy 12:59 AM - I Hate Typos
Note to self: don't type $* when you mean $@

I can't believe I just wasted fifteen minutes fixing that. I need to write a program to check code for any mistakes I've ever made. I also need to use cvs checkout more often; I can't find a small typo when most of the code has changed between versions.

current mood: aggravated

Monday, April 23rd, 2007
Billy 8:29 PM - Fried
I passed by Fry's Electronics tonight for some cheapie DVDs. I found some even cheaper stuff- they had a bargain bin of CDs, DVDs and games. I picked up a whole mess of CDs for 10 cents each! I avoided the ones that probably were total crap. The Blair Witch Project soundtrack is surprisingly good. I got an Ice-T album and a DC Comics audio action adventure. I have no idea about the other stuff- I hadn't heard of any of the bands so the albums could be good or could be total crap.

DVDs for 50 cents- some computer animation showcase from a decade ago. To think that stuff was once cutting edge. I also got a Marilyn Manson live performance and Venom of the Ninja the complete series.

When I was checking out, the cashier was having trouble scanning the items. I got the impression he didn't know how to use the price scanner correctly. He ended up scanning some items more than once and skipping others. He then had to go back and cancel some items but kept screwing up and cancelling the wrong things and having to re-scan them. He started reading the backs of my non-bargain-bin DVDs and commenting on the movies. I got pissed off and told him to hurry up and started calling for a manager. Magically, he was able to scan everything in 30 seconds and get me out of there.

current mood: annoyed

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007
Billy 6:12 PM - Happy Earth Day
So suck it, Neptune!

SNL has its moments.

current mood: sick

Thursday, March 8th, 2007
Billy 8:52 PM - This Post is Black. NOT.
I've been watching the new Borat DVD. Even though I had already seen the movie, I still laughed my ass off. Yes, I have a childish sense of humor.

I love some of the DVD extras. My favorite is the Baywatch spoof:

Borat making a bed with Martha Stewart on The Tonight Show was funny. Too bad his appearance on Saturday Night Live was edited.

I checked out the foreign language dubs because I wondered how "Not" jokes would translate. They don't have the right timing when not isn't monosyllabic. I don't understand why the Spanish dub translates everything into Spanish: Borat's and Azamat's pseudo-foreign gibberish as well as Borat's idiosyncratic terms like vagine, hand-party and sexy time. Moreover, the Spanish dub presents Borat with a normal Spanish accent. The French and Russian dubs keep him sounding like a strange foreigner. I think dubbing obliterates the original acting and directing so I prefer subtitles for foreign films. Nevertheless, the Hebrew language track is hilarious.

Double dipping DVDs sucks but I'll probably do it when an extended version of the DVD comes out. I want a commentary track and I want to see footage of all the scenes that went horribly horribly wrong, especially the first three high society parties.

current mood: energetic

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