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Saturday, October 24, 2009

You'll Buy a Widescreen Monitor and You'll Like It! 

Yesterday after school I came home and turned on my computer monitor. "Bpzzzt!" it said, as it often does (it's very old). But then, instead of showing my trusty Mac OS desktop, it stayed black. I tried again, and it flashed, then died.

Annoyed but simultaneously intrigued by the possibility of getting a shiny new (and perhaps somewhat larger) monitor, I drove off toward the east side of town, where the consumer electronics shops are all hidden. I quickly learned a very annoying fact: The only monitors being sold in retail shops today are widescreen. (16:9 ratio, compared to the previous standard 4:3.)

This really frustrates me, so I went to four different stores in the hope of finding a normal-shaped monitor. By the time I reached my fourth shop — let's call it by the fictitious name WorstBuy — I was really ticked off. As I stared angrily at the rack of 20 monitors, a chipper young man in a bright blue shirt approached and asked if I needed any help. Here is a verbatim transcript of our conversation:
WorstBuy Employee: Need any help with anything?

Me: Why don't you have any non-widescreen monitors?

WBE: Because they're all widescreen these days. That's the format all the screens and TVs and monitors are moving toward.

Me: Why?

WBE: Because of movies.

Me: But I don't watch movies on my computer. That's what my television is for. I use my computer for desktop publishing and website creation and browsing the web.

WBE: Well, everything's changing to the widescreen format these days. Movies and websites are also moving to widescreen.

Me: I'm going to leave now before I stab you and then myself. (muttering as I walk out) no such thing as a widescreen website .. illiterate bozo moron..
I also hear that radio is moving to widescreen format, so if you're one of those weird people who still listens to the radio in your car, you better get a widescreen radio soon. And books, too — books are going widescreen. (Diane and I have accepted that our dog does in fact have a widescreen head.)

I finally broke down and purchased (from a different store) the HP 2009m 20" LCD Monitor. When I got home, Diane told me that there was a Mac store near our home, and maybe I could call and make sure they didn't have any normal-shaped monitors. I did, and — after learning that the only monitor they sell is the $900 Absurdly Overpriced Display — tried again to ascertain why it's impossible to find a monitor shaped like a monitor, and not a movie screen. Here's part of our conversation:
MacXPert: They're better..

Me: Not for me! I don't watch movies on my computer. I do web design and desktop publishing.

MacXPert: I do too. Not to be contrary, but I like it better.

Me: Why? I'm really trying to understand where you're coming from.

MacXPert: Well, what I do is pretend it's not widescreen, and then..

Me: Okay, thanks for your time. (sound of me hanging up)
He said something about how he uses the other space for his iTunes or something, but I had to end the call before I started laughing obnoxiously in his face.

So there you have it, folks. If you don't plan to watch movies on your new widescreen monitor, you'll have to pretend like it's not widescreen. And then you can pretend that you don't get 20 spam emails every day. And then you can pretend that Bill O'Reilly had a horrible run-in with a wolverine and lost the use of his mouth.

To be honest, it's a very nice monitor, and it looks slick, and it takes up much less room on my desk than my ancient previous monitor. I think I'm relating to the items on the screen (and the words) a little differently now, because they're further away, and I'm at a different angle. So I'm not too unhappy with my purchase.

But I still wish it had a 4:3 ratio.

I did, however, strike instant paydirt when I did a Google search for "cool widescreen wallpaper". Check out this beauty (click for full-sized version):


Those who have worked in literature-related academia will appreciate this XKCD comic.

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hail to the Busdriver 

"Me Time" by Busdriver. Best rap video in the last five years, easy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Things I Don't Like 

I actually have no problems with buttons. I just did a Google Image Search for "don't like" and I liked this image. (Dude I just blew your mind.)

I don't like being sick. Halfway through the day on Thursday I suddenly got a head cold. For the past 48 hours my brain has been concrete and my sleeves are coated with mucous because I can't get the hanky or tissue or toilet paper to my face fast enough. I have three bags of Ricolah going at once. (The new Mixed Berry drops suck! Stay away.) I can't decide if it's better to be sick on the weekend (because I have time to rest, but I feel robbed of happy relaxation time) or during the week (because I get bonus rest time, but the work builds up when you're gone from the classroom).

I don't like Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Every world leader who has not illegally invaded another nation is probably thinking: "WTF? Where's my prize? I also believe in the power of diplomacy." Obama only won because Bush was such a warmongering criminal. It's like a teacher giving a kid a gold star because for once he didn't spit on the other kids. It makes me sad as an American that the rest of the world has set the bar so low for us. "Nice work, Sam! You didn't drop bombs on anyone this week! Have a trophy!" (If I weren't sick, I'd link again to the Strong Bad cartoon.)

I don't like the singleplayer for Operation Flashpoint. The enemies are too far away and too small and I ran out of ammo for my night-vision high-tech weapon and the iron sight gun I took from the enemy is useless. I finally realized that I can get a better weapon from killing the officer, but then there's the time pressure and I keep failing and my men keep getting shot. I just want to shoot things, not order a squad around. They should make the AI for your squad good enough so that if you don't tell them what to do, they still do useful stuff. That, or find people to play co-op with. Today I'll try the multiplayer.

I don't like my brain's insistence on multivariate lists. I feel like only having three items in a list is too few. So I add in extra stuff just to feel like the blog post is really worth it. Meaningless blather goes here.

I DO like this radish Diane found on the farm. It's quite remarkable. It's about one inch long.


Many thanks to Madsimian for this superb Carl Sagan autotune remix.

Today I'm listening to: Flobots!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Stop Singing At Me 

I'm not the biggest fan of live music in the world. I have to really like a band — and know it well — to enjoy a band or a singer performing live. I'm not into musicals, and I get very quickly annoyed when someone's whistling or singing near me (unless it's a song I really like a lot, and they're singing well).

So last night we were at Laredo's — good food, your bog-standard Mexican restaurante — when this Mariachi band starts belting out songs at a nearby table. After three loud songs, they did "Happy Birthday", so we figured they'd been called in for a special occasion. But no, they proceeded to do three songs to each of the tables between where they were and where we were. We finished quickly and paid the check just in time to say "Sorry we're leaving" as they rolled up to our table, smiling and strumming.

Were we being total gringo uncultured bozos? Were we sniffing in the face of a proud cultural tradition? Or do folks in Mexico get annoyed when the loud singing people with guitars approach, too? Does this even happen in non-tourist Mexico? I felt a little rude, but then aren't they being rude for assuming we'd rather hear them shriek Guantanamera instead of having a nice conversation during Friday-night dinner after a long, stressful week?

Suffice to say that I will not return to Laredo's on Friday or Saturday night, unless I hear that they have discontinued the unsolicited Mariachi music at the tables. (I wouldn't mind if they were off to the side or something — I'd probably even tip, then, too. But get out of my face while I'm eating!)


Be sure to read the Onion "News in Photos" headline from whence the picture there was swiped.

Today I'm listening to: More Kombat!!