Monthly Archives: July 2007

DirecTV Kills the Tour

For the record, I do not currently have cable nor satellite TV. I have a 1992 20″ TV with rabbit ear antennas and we receive maybe seven TV stations semi-clearly, one of which is public TV and another is in Spanish. I might subscribe to pay TV if it wasn’t such a headache.

This afternoon, we were at a friend’s house watching the last stage of the Tour de France that she’d recorded that morning on her DirecTV DVR, or set-top recorder. (I still don’t know anything about the stage, so don’t tell me.) About 20 minutes into the program, a heavy rainstorm knocked out her satellite signal, and with it the DVR’s ability to play a pre-recorded show. Satellites need an unobstructed view of the Southern sky. Makes sense, got it. But I don’t understand why the box can’t play a locally recorded show without a satellite uplink. I’m guessing it has something to do with keeping you tethered to a DirecTV monthly subscription and avoiding the sharing of recorded content.

When we finally got the thing back up and running, we tried to resume the Tour stage, only to find out that the DirecTV box had mysteriously decided to record 9 minutes of Extreme Cage Fighting (as opposed to the non-extreme cage fighting shows) over the Tour Stage. The DVR menu still said “Tour Stage 20, 7:30 AM”, but now the notes stated it was recorded at 1:57 PM. A few calls to customer service and tech support confirmed that the program was probably gone permanently. In fact, when we mentioned that we thought the storm had done something to the DVR box, the tech rep replied “Yep, that will happen with storms.”

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Honor System Yard Sale: Can You Trust Your Neighbors?

How honest are your neighbors? Jen and I were forced into relying on their integrity, and we were pleasantly surprised.

On July 4, we’d advertised a yard sale on Craigslist to get ready for our move to D.C. I was stationed conspicuously in a lawn chair, still in a hard cast and quite immobile. I was the best person for the job both because I couldn’t actually do anything besides collect money and also because I elicited a lot of sympathy purchases.

Then, Jen cut her right knee very deeply while trying to move a huge mirror downstairs to the sale table. (In a lapse of reason, we both thought it was a dreadfully bad idea that she was trying to move a 30 pound mirror that was nearly as tall as she was, yet didn’t vocalize it.)

We had to make a dash for the emergency clinic for stitches. At the same time, we had to get rid of our yard sale items one way or another. Jen wrote out a sign on a large piece of cardboard:

Clothes and Books 50 cents Each. All other items $1. Leave money in mailbox.

Jen surveys the Yard Sale Progress

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Paris Introduces 21,000 City Bikes to Curtail Auto Traffic

In an attempt to reduce auto traffic by 40% by 2020, the Parisien Mayor, long-time friend to bike commuters, has staged another bold move to make the city more bike friendly.

This time, Paris has added a fleet of bikes that consumers can check out for about $1.38 per day. There are bike check-in/check-out stations all over the city, and it sounds like it works like those luggage carts that you rent temporarily at airports.

The city added about 11,000 bikes last week and has plans to expand to 21,000 by the end of the year. A private corporation popped for the cost of all bikes in exchange for exclusive advertising rights at the bike stations (and probably on the bikes as well).

The new movement is called “Velib“, a marriage of the terms “velo” (bike in French) and “liberte”.

The Parisien Mayor has also added 125 miles of bike lanes to Paris since 2001, angering some motorists.

Local TV News Recap

Stunningly, the DC local news is about as useful as the local news in any other city where I’ve lived. For some reason, I expected the local channels in our nation’s capital to have some substance.

Here’s a quick recap of today’s top stories:

  • Home burglary results in theft of a replica Superbowl ring and a Nintendo. Suspect and missing items still at large.
  • Fall shoe preview. Flats are HOT! Oh, but so are heels. And boots.
  • Man puts kids in trunk of car. His defense: they were curious and wanted to check it out.
  • Man at local VA mall sought in conjuntion with “upskirting” charges, defined as walking around and filming up young girls’ skirts.

Cheeseburger-induced Car Accidents

I have a long and illustrious history of being very late to dentist appointments, which is why I left early today, despite the fact that it was pouring outside.

Approaching the on-ramp, I could see that traffic wasn’t moving and I was thinking both that I was going to be late (again) and that conditions were really bad and I shouldn’t be on the road.

BAM! I was rear-ended by a gray Accord. I pulled over, and the young woman who struck me got out of her car and said, “I’m sorry, I was eating a cheeseburger.”

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Target Unveils New Mixed Media Billboard Ad

Marketers are working harder than every to capture our attention. A few years ago, a campaign promoting the remake of the King Kong movie put an enormous billboard cutout of King Kong climbing the side of a building in New York. If you sent a text message to a certain number, King Kong’s eyes would blink. Though the technology was rudimentary, this campaign created a lot of guerilla (not “gorilla”) buzz and thousands of passers-by stopped to briefly interact with the billboard.

When I got off Marta at the Candler Park station today, I saw a billboard for a new R&B compilation called “Platinum Tracks,” which is available exclusively at Target Stores. The billboard features an earphone jack, and I actually plugged in my headphones to hear a preview of the album.

While this billboard will no doubt create a lot of buzz, it goes a step further and actually demo’s the product. And the placement is perfect. Marta riders have a lot of time between trains, and iPods and portable CD players are ubiquitous, so there’s no shortage of people with headphones. The Edgewood Target store is only a 10 minute walk from the Candler Park station.

Great example of a billboard that captures our attention, and once it does, it actually has something valuable to share.

Platinum Stacks by Def Jam Records and producer L.A. Reid.

Live Free or Die Hard: best Die Hard since the original

Everything I’ve learned about terror attacks, I’ve learned from watching the Die Hard franchise.

I know that when terrorists perpetrate elaborately orchestrated attacks on the U.S., they can expect a few things. First, there will be some bureaucrat in charge of the local PD or federal law enforcement agency who will initially respond arrogantly in the face of overwhelming cicumstantial evidence and deny to take any actions which might easily and immediately halt the terror attack. Thank God for that, because if these guys did have any common sense early on, they’d extinguish the terror plot and we’d be left without a Bruce Willis movie. Clearly though, we can’t count on any of the people who are supposed to protect us to be the first line of defense.

The terrorists also know this, and it allows their schemes to unfold in highly dramatic waves of attack. First, send an unmistakable warning, which will be mistaken. Next, knock out the authorities’ infrastructure. At this point, the good guys will scramble to actions which play into the hands of the bad guys. Terrorists also always have an inside man or former employee of whatever agency is investigating them. Finally, as terrorists’ actions become increasingly ruthless and they show complete disregard for human life, we ultimately find out that all terrorists are motivated by money, not ideology or power. The one comfort that keeps us all from heading to doomsday bunkers in Montana is that terrorists never plan on a tough guy falling into the wrong place at the wrong time.

And so we enter the fourth (or is it fifth) movie in the Die Hard series. Formula aside, I think I enjoyed this Die Hard almost as much as the original. It doesn’t have the raw edge, shock value, or desperation that the first one had, but this might have been the most entertaining. The script is faithful to John McClain’s character without spewing too many catchphrases (although you’ll find one or two familiar ones), and it shows a pleasant evolution. All in all I can say that I would go see a lot more sequels if all of them were this good.

*********NO MAJOR SPOILERS, ONLY GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE BASIC MOVIE PLOT *****************

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