Dec. 30, 2005

Robocop Showing at the Inwood at Midnight

Matt was kind enough to let me know that Robocop is showing at The Inwood at midnight tonight. And, as it’s my 8th favorite movie, I wouldn’t want to miss out on that :).

I’m guessing this isn’t the director’s cut, which is a minor disappointment, but I’m still pretty stoked about this since I’ve never seen the film on the big screen. Oh, and for any Dallasites attending, keep an eye out for some Dallas landmarks that crop in here and there, such as the interior of the Plaza of the Americas and Dallas City Hall standing in for the OCP building :).

Dec. 26, 2005

My Nikon 5700 is a PT Cruiser

I’ve had a Nikon 5700 digicam for a couple years now and it’s served me well. All the same, it’s been getting on my nerves a bit recently as I've been pushing its limits — my current gripe is that there's no way to disable the internal flash while leaving an external flash enabled.

And, while reading Ask MetaFilter, I came across an analogy from kcm which was able to nicely summarize my perspective on the camera:

I was never happy with the prosumer choices like the S2 (I had the PowerShot G2 and G3). Not enough control to justify the size. It’s like driving a PT Cruiser because you need to haul stuff for construction projects but you want a small car to autocross: it sucks for both. […]

Now, I don’t think my Nikon 5700 sucks, but I have been keeping an eye out for an upgrade. The hard part is where to go from there, which kcm comments on as well:

If you DO go for a DSLR, be prepared to have two cameras — one to slip in a pocket, like your Elph, and the DSLR, which is generally too bulky for events where your primary concern is not photography.[…]

So maybe that would be a workable long-term strategy (buying both a compact digicam & a DSLR). The predicament I have now, though, is that I can't afford both of those :-/. Decisions, decisions…

Nov. 30, 2005

Gemütlichkeit

I ran across gemütlichkeit in Wikipedia and I like its connotation of “a cosy place”, but with a meaning conveying more than just “cosiness”:

Gemütlichkeit is a German abstract noun whose closest English equivalent is cosiness. However, rather than basically just describing a place as not too large, well-heated and nicely furnished (a cosy room, a cosy flat), Gemütlichkeit connotes, much more than cosiness, the notion of belonging, social acceptance, cheerfulness, the absence of anything hectic and the spending of quality time in a place as described above. […]

The article went on to say that Queen Victoria was one of the first to use the adjective gemütlich in English; since it seems to be a useful word, I might be inclined to do the same. How would it be pronounced, though? Something like geh-MUTE-lish?

Nov. 29, 2005

Yeah, Stars. Whatever.

As I was walking out of work this evening, I came to a “Don’t Walk” crosswalk and, as I waited, another commuter walked to the crosswalk as well. She then thought to strike up conversation:

  • Her: “It’s nice seeing stars in the sky. I don't often see them after work.”
  • Me: “Ah.”
  • Me / inner dialog: “Stars? Yeah, fine.”
  • Her: “Can you see it? It’s right… [pointing with her finger] there. ”
  • Me: “How about that.”
  • Her: “No, I’m not sure you're seeing it — take a step back… Do you see it? Right there?”
  • Me: “Oh. There it is.”
  • Me / inner dialog: You’re still talking?
  • Her: And I know it’s not an airplane because it’s not moving. It really is a star.

Fortunately, the light changed at that point and we crossed the street. I have nothing against astronomy, but I guess I've seen enough stars that they're not that exciting to me.

Nov. 19, 2005

Walk the Line — Review

Full disclosure: Grace Hill Media offered bloggers a free screening pass in exchange for writing an entry about Serenity; I participated in that offer.

In case you've been living under a rock, Walk the Line is the recent biopic on the country singer Johnny Cash (no, I didn’t really think of him as a “country singer”, either, but that's what I keep reading). Like most music-based movies, there's not much of a plot here — and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The movie focuses of Cash’s music and, if you like that, you’ll have a good time.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Cash and what I found most fascinating about the performance he performed all the songs himself — there was no dubbing of Cash’s voice over his. If someone had mentioned that to me a month ago, before I had seen the film, that surely would have been a red flag for me since Cash has such an identifiable voice. Still, Phoenix was spot on — several times during the movie I actually closed my eyes for a few seconds and it was like I was listening to a Johnny Cash album.

Admittedly, I have little Cash experience. Sure, I’ve heard clips on tv and in other movies, but I don’t know whether I should be embarrassed that possibly the first time I heard one of his songs uninterrupted was his cover of NiN’s “Hurt”. Dont' get me wrong — I like the track; it’s just that it came out in 2003. The video creeped me out a bit, but that’s mostly because I couldn’t figure out what was going on (the plot of the music video, if you will).

Walk the Line certainly celebrates Cash’s life but it doesn't hold back from his darker times either. Possible spoilers in the rest of this paragraph — if you happen to care about the film’s plot. Among other things, his first marriage was a bit rocky and it was mostly his fault; he lashed out at his wife in anger and cheated on her as well. Then there're the pills. He became addicted to a pill-based drug of some sort (I’m not sure the drug was named) and that certainly did more harm than good, especially in terms of how his drug-induced state put strains on his personal relationships. Basically, Johnny Cash was a jerk.

All the same, Cash has a musicality that’s hard to dislike. The film never goes too many minutes without an excuse to play more of his music (and I’m ok with that). And, if there’re two things that I've realized from this film, it's that I should probably buy some of Cash’s music and it might also be worth adding a few Phoenix flicks to my Netflix queue. Much to the extent of my Cash experience, I hadn’t seen much of Phoenix until now, either (I think Gladiator was his only movie that I had seen). Oh, and I’m open to suggestions on a starter Cash.

Nov. 16, 2005

Decaf Coffee May Be Worse For You Than Regular

Reuters reports on the results of a study comparing decaf to regular coffee that were announced at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2005. Researchers assigned people into groups of either noncoffee drinkers, coffee drinkers, or decaf drinkers who then drank three to six cups a day for two months. After the two months, they checked each group for differences:

At the end of the study period, Superko found no significant differences in fasting glucose or insulin (measures used to diagnosis diabetes), total cholesterol, HDL2 (the very good cholesterol) or triglycerides among the three groups.

However, decaf coffee significantly increased free fatty acid levels, which in turn led to an increase in apolipoprotein B, which is associated with LDL cholesterol. […]

I mostly drink tea, so this may not affect me much. And, many coffee drinkers may be unaffected as well; the researchers were careful to point out the three-to-six cups involved in the study — “People should not freak out if they drink one or two cups a day,” commented Dr. H. Robert Superko.

Nov. 8, 2005

Texans Vote for Gay Marriage Ban

Today was voting day and one of the issues on the Texas ballots was for a state amendment that banned gay marriage.

The constitutional amendment providing that marriage in this state consists only of the union of one man and one woman and prohibiting this state or a political subdivision of this state from creating or recognizing any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

And, the Dallas Morning News is reporting that the amendment has passed (bugmenot), with Texas becoming the 19th state to pass such a measure.

With half of the precincts counted, 76 percent of voters statewide said they supported the gay-marriage ban, while 24 percent were opposed. In Dallas County, the margin was narrower, with 64 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed. […]

I can’t say that I understand why so many people feel this way. Though I had a hunch the ban would go through, I didn’t think it would be by such a wide margin.

Nov. 3, 2005

Outlook and Read Only Attachments

We use Outlook here at work (hey, stop snickering!) and I’ve noticed that it tends to save most of my incoming attachments as read-only files. I couldn’t figure out why it was doing this and it was mostly getting in the way of my workflow — for instance, a coworker might send me a proposal to work on, but I’d first have to change the file attributes before editing it.

Well, I came across the answer: Outlook is apparently doing that intentionally and it can’t be turned off:

Symptoms:
If you open an e-mail message attachment in the reading pane in Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, the attachment opens as read-only.
Cause:
This behavior occurs because the attachment handling function changed in Outlook 2003 to avoid data loss.
Workaround:
To work around this behavior, do not open the attachment in the reading pane. Instead, double-click the e-mail message, and then open the attachment.

This reminds me of the old doctor-doctor joke:

Patient: Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I move my elbow like this Outlook sets my files as read-only when I save them from the reading pane.

Doctor: Then don’t do that.

Thanks for nothing, Outlook!

Oct. 18, 2005

Sleep Could Help Weight Loss

WebMD is reporting on a study showing that sleep may help weight loss. Apparently, the hormone leptin — which regulates appetite — was found depressed in those who had less sleep:

Leptin is a hormone that is made predominately in fat cells. The amount of leptin in the blood is proportional to the amount of body fat. It is thought to decrease appetite. However, most obesity is characterized by resistance to leptin and its appetite-suppressing effect.

Participants who reported less sleep tended to have lower leptin levels than predicted. That might mean that their bodies weren't using leptin very efficiently. […]

The article goes on to say that it’s not as simple as More Sleep → Lose Weight, since there’re many factors that go into weight gain vs weight loss. Still, there’s nothing to lose (well, other than weight) by getting more sleep.