31 May 2006

- Freedom of "Choice" -

Why is it that the larger the grocery stores, the fewer the real choices available on the shelves?

Ten thousand different kinds of pre-cooked (high-fat, high-sodium) burgers, three thousand different chips and soft drinks, six hundred and fifty "new and improved" eighteen-bladed razors; but you can hardly find a decent loaf of bread, much less 10 lb bags of flour (don't even think about looking for 25 lb. bags) or such "exotic" items as kosher salt or good (i.e., non-canned) olives.

I wish I lived close enough to a co-op or small, local grocer to make it economical to shop at regularly. But I don't. Sigh. The choice of the suburbs is to have no choice at all.

30 May 2006

- I'm so annoyed -

So I'm teaching this summer. Fun, fun, fun. Well, it wasn't supposed to be so bad. I'm slated to teach a course I rather like. But, no, life has to be difficult.

So the course I'm teaching deals a lot with film. Can I just say that I loathe macr0vsi0n and the entertainment industry that created it? It's not that I'm in favor of ripping, illegal copying and so forth. I have zero interest in that. I don't even want to make back-up copies of DVDs I own. I'm perfectly willing to buy a new copy if one of the ones I own stops working. No, all I want to do is extract two- to five-minute clips to be used in class; to help students appreciate aspects of film they wouldn't otherwise; really to encourage the students to go out and watch more films on their own. All the while, I'm buying loads and loads of DVDs myself (to go along with the loads and loads of video cassettes I purchased in years past). So I see little economic harm to the industry and some potential upside.

"Ah", the industry may say, "but why don't you just use all those DVDs you own."

"I'd love to," I respond, "if you didn't insist on loading the DVD with eight-minute menus and stupid FBI warnings that are impossible to skip. I mean do you realize just how much time it would take to wait for every fucking one of those DVDs to load?"

So now what? I have to search out a digitizer to work around the encryption. Finding one is proving exceptionally difficult. There are some hacks available (which apparently only work sometimes), but the best solution now seems to be to go to outside the country and buy a good digitizer.

I really wonder how folks teaching in film studies are handling the situation. I mean much of their life must be taken up with working around encryption technologies. If anyone out there does work in film studies, I'd be interested to hear how you deal with these problems. (Email me at the address in the sidebar if you prefer not to make your strategies public.)

29 May 2006

- Running Again -

With my foot healed, I'm running again. Still not logging the miles I was, since I'm only going out three to four times a week. I did a trial 5K this morning and despite an annoying cough (pertussis—see below), I still managed to run it in 24:25. Now I'm hoping I can get it down to under 24:00 for the Fourth of July race I'm working toward.

26 May 2006

- Big Whoop -

Pertussis. Again. Hack, hack...

25 May 2006

- School's Out -

Judi J., First Grader, is almost a first grader no longer. Today is her last day of school. In fact, she is just getting out of school right now. It will be strange, not waking up to a 6 am alarm.

21 May 2006

- Swim Meet -

Judi had her first swim meet of the year yesterday. She did really well in the backstroke—she took 14 seconds off her personal best, so she was very happy about that. She struggled in the freestyle, however. She never managed to get into her best form and then her goggles started leaking about half way through the race, which sent her off course. She came in close to her PB. She was a little disappointed, but quickly recovered and was happily running around a few minutes later. Gosh, I love kids, and the way they can just let things like that go. If only her papa could take that lesson to heart...

19 May 2006

- Avoid It Like the Plague -

Plague Outbreak in Rodents Closes Natural Bridges National Monument:
The campground at Utah's Natural Bridges National Monument has been closed because of an outbreak of bubonic plague among rodents, a report said. National Park Service officials said fleas that transmit the so-called Black Death to field mice and chipmunks would be killed with insecticides. When satisfied that has worked, the popular campground 40 miles west of Blanding, Utah, will be reopened, officials said.- UPI International

And this

Park officials closed Balcony House at Mesa Verde National Park last month, shutting down the site for three days after a dead squirrel there was presumed to have the bubonic plague.

The site was sprayed with an insecticide known as delta dust, or Deltamethrin, and later re-opened.

The animal was tested and came back as “presumed positive” for the plague, said Tessy Shirakawa, Mesa Verde spokeswoman.

“We assumed it was positive,” Shirakawa said.

A house cat became Montezuma County’s first plague case this year, after it was diagnosed at the end of March.

Plague has also been reported at Colorado National Monument and Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah.

18 May 2006

- Real "Neighborly" -

Gotta love this: the powers that be who run the "neighborhood" swim team have decided on a draconian policy. This is the part I especially like: the team has decided to cut five-year old swimmers who do not make a certain time from the team. Go us! Yes, this is a new policy for the "neighborhood" team. Don't you just love how we're extending Über-competitiveness to the kindergartner set. What happened to fun and participation anyway?

Is this a great country or what?

17 May 2006

- All Done -


Of course, now I have all those seminar papers from fall semester that I still have to work through... Long story.

I suppose I should be whining over at Phantom's weekly party. But I'm always intimidated by the real substance of those whines!