The VCR which handles recording and video switching duties was bought new in early 2002 for the princely sum of $90. Six years is a long time for a VCR, even one which is not used all that often. I prefer to supplant a VCR after it's been in service for five years.
What got me to make the switch was that I realized I could get a combo DVD/VCR, put it where the old VCR was in my entertainment system, and then not have to switch from one line-in to another to watch DVDs. This would have the added benefit of allowing me to use the Apex only when I could not use another DVD player (such as when I want to play disks which are not Region 1 disks), thus keeping the Apex from wearing out.
I can't get another Apex, after all, with its hardware hacked goodness.
Seeing a DVD/VCR combo at work for $100 is what brought all this to mind; so I mulled it for several weeks, and looked at other models, and at other stores, and thought some more. I went to buy one, chickened out, and thought about it even more.
Finally, last night, I decided it was time to take the plunge. Checkbook in hand I went to the nearest Target (not the one I work at) to buy the thing.
...they had one. The box had been opened and rifled, and it looked as if the remote control had been stolen. There was no one--no one within reasonable distance of the Music and Movies section of the store. There were also several other people there who wanted help with stuff; I ranged a bit wider, going out of reasonable walking distance, and still did not find anyone. ANYONE. In fact, it seemed as if that entire side of the store was bereft of team members.
I had stopped in the clothing department for a couple pairs of shorts; I wheeled my cart through the auto section, intending to pick up a couple cans of Fix-a-Flat. I'd let that decide me on whether or not I'd bother trying to attract the attention of a M&M person, so I could see if they had another player in the back. (I was not optimistic; I know the stocking procedures for Target--if there was only one unit on the shelf, there were probably none in back.)
No Fix-a-Flat; they were totally out of the size I wanted. I could have bought the SUV size, but for an economy car? That'd be a stupid waste of money.
...frustrated and annoyed, I did something I do not normally do: I abandoned my cart, with the two pairs of shorts in it, and walked out.
So what did I do? Well, I drove to the store I work at, and bought what I needed there. All of it--DVD player, shorts, Fix-a-Flat. Why drive 22 miles? Because I was confident that at least the store I worked at would have everything in stock. We're pretty good at maintaining our "in stocks", damn it.
Apparently we're a damn sight better than the Matteson store, anyway.
As for the DVD player, I got it patched into the system and then spent some time fiddling with it. This is the first VCR I ever bought that didn't have a tuner in it--well, with the switch to digital coming next year, it's to be expected, and with the satellite box I don't need it anyway.
The thing has some nice still/slow motion features, too. It'll play any disk I put into it, according to the manual, and it'll even do a slideshow if I put a disk full of JPGs into it.
The manual does not make it very clear, but the DVD signals are output on the "Line Out" terminals and the special DVD output terminals. I had a bit of confusion on that point and ended up trying it out to make sure.
My one beef with this thing is that it doesn't do index marks on the tape, so you have to watch the counter when you're rewinding to the beginning of something you taped; also, it doesn't use the older Sony VCR remote signals, so I have to reprogram my universal remote.
* * *
This kind of article, if cars had kept pace with computers, always completely ignore the laws of physics. Cars and computers do different things. There is no theoretical minimum energy required for computing, but cars exist in the Newtonian mechanics world, where work equals force times distance. Work is measured in joules.
"One litre of fuel would serve the UK for a year and oil reserves would last the expected lifetime of the solar system - if efficiency in the car industry had improved at the same rate as in the computer world...." It's a nice comparison, but it's physically impossible.
Besides, they completely ignore the fact that the car would stop running for no apparent reason, and in order to restart the car you'd have to disconnect the battery for thirty seconds before turning the key, and then it would take about a minute for the car to finish rebooting once you did.
* * *
Maxine Waters did not mean it when she said the US should socialize the oil industry. Oh, no, no, of course she didn't mean it. It wasn't an "intentional" statement.
But sometimes, the things said in the heat of the moment are revealing.
* * *
No idea if Monster is going to get into the game, but here we have electronic snake-oil for computers!
* * *
My man Fred Thompson weighs in on the stupid Supreme Court decision about giving enemy combatants the rights of citizens.
Why the hell did we have to pick John McCain over this guy? WHY???
* * *
..."painful"? Listening to the radio--Limbaugh's on--and the 11:30 news bits discussed the bumper crop of mosquitos we've got here right now. "They still pack a painful bite," the announcer said. What? Painful? They make you itch, moron.
Okay, yeah: an itch is actually pain that's below the pain threshold. But "painful" means "ow ow it hurts" not "damn it, WTF, that mosquito got me good" (scratch scratch).
And also reported, James Hansen wants a carbon tax. James Hansen is a freaking charlatan. His big speech 20 years ago about global warming? They opened the windows of the hearing room the night before, so it was freaking hot in the place that day, because the air conditioning was overtaxed. So, of course, everyone was sweating. In this environment, Hansen says, "We have to combat global warming!"
Twenty years later we're looking at another Dalton minimum. Sunspot #999 seems to have made it across the face of the sun, but there are no others following it. The warming of the 20th century has already been eradicated (the global temperature anomalies are 0.75° lower than they were a year ago) and unless the sun fires up soon it's going to get even colder. That assumes that the current cycle is going to be normal; the cycle after this one is looking to be even weaker. We don't know what's going on with Earth's atmosphere, but we do know that the sun is going to reduce its energy output.
* * *
Whenever I listen to Limbaugh, I always lose interest when he starts talking to callers. Once he gets someone on the phone, I stop listening and it turns into background noise, so I shut it off. Even if I try to keep listening, this happens.
Needless to say, if I tune in and hear someone else taking his place, I tune out again.
* * *
The New York Times ran an article lamenting the drop in newspaper ad revenue. It's all over the place, particularly on the Intertubz; "alternative media" is kicking their ass. Well, it's not just NYT that is suffering thusly; all newspapers are in this boat.
I know that I rarely read the paper these days, except to see the comics. If Mom didn't get the paper, I wouldn't even do that; I'd just read the good ones on-line. Why should I read a newspaper which I know is full of slanted reporting and questionable journalism? I want "fair and balanced", not "everyone in the newsroom voted for Barak Hussein Obama in the primary", damn it.
I was spinning through the older Atomic Fungus entries the other day and came across a post where I discussed a young woman who had had a routine surgical procedure...only there were complications, and she ended up in intensive care with multiple organ failure and a host of other problems.
She'd gone in for an abortion.
If she'd been in the hospital for an appendectomy or something, the news media would have been full of stories about this poor woman's plight. But because it was an abortion, there wasn't so much as a peep about it in the papers or news shows.
I mean, an abortion is (sadly) a routine operation these days. It's not like she was having major surgery; a typical abortion is an outpatient procedure. It's like getting a colonoscopy or having a wisdom tooth removed. Yet this woman's outcome was so dire that she had to have her uterus removed and was in the ICU in "critical" condition afterwards. Isn't that a textbook example of a great news story? Innocent woman goes in for routine procedure, and ends up totally fucked up--it's just the kind of story that journalists want, where there's tragedy and pain and suffering, all utterly unexpected, as the result of a (botched?) medical procedure.
About the same time as this, there was a story about a young girl who was getting some dental work done. She was 5 or so, and the dentist gave her total anasthesia. (I note here that I doubt* the dentist just did this; he would have had to get parental permission first, wouldn't he?) Anyway, it was a routine thing that many dentists offer(ed). And sadly, the little girl died.
This was a huge story, of course. Routine procedure, experienced dentist, bad outcome. The annals of medicine are full of such tragedy: shit happens. No one wants it to, and everyone does his level best to ensure that it doesn't, but sometimes the dice just come up snake-eyes and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the patient dies. The more mature and routine the procedure, the better your chances are...but even with the simplest procedure there are times when things go wrong, and sometimes they go so wrong that the patient dies, and it's not always the doctor's fault.
I don't remember if the dentist got arrested, but I seem to recall he had his license to practice revoked. If I were him I don't know if I'd want to continue practicing, anyway, not after something like that. In fact I might quit medicine altogether and take up drinking.
But the abortion story? Buried, if reported at all; I learned of it on the Internet, myself. After all...it was an abortion. You can't say anything bad about abortion, not even to report a bad outcome from a routine procedure, not even if it'll sell papers, because then people might hesitate to have them!
Bias? Oh, no, no bias there.
(I also note for the sake of clarity that the little girl was white; the woman who had the abortion was black. Bias? You decide.)
* I just tried to spell "doubt" as "dought". WTF.
* * *
The Escort has developed an odd clunk in the front suspension. I heard it most clearly last night. Previously it manifested as a noise which happened only after I backed out of the driveway and started to accelerate; as soon as I let the clutch out something would go clunk, which sounded like an inner CV joint to me. (Swell. Just swell.) But last night I was going over some bumps and I heard a distinct clunk clunk-unk from the front end, which might mean ball joints rather than a CV joint.
Ball joints are easier to replace, but not necessarily cheaper--you have to have an alignment after replacing ball joints.
So one bullet point for today is to get the Escort up on a jack and check the front wheels for play.
...and if it's not the ball joints and it's not the CV joints, what else could it be? Motor mounts. A bad motor mount could account for all the symptoms. O joy.
Whatever it ends up being, it's a major procedure. And next week is 4th of July week, and I'm scheduled M-W-F, three days for the first time since...January, I think. The money will help, anyway....