The Universe and Me

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Do we need 'em? : Gorilla Arm

Windows 8 may very well be the best operating system in the world, ever. I don't know because I haven't used it. Reading about it using touch screen menus has made me wonder why they (Gates and Co.) chose to make it more phone & tablet user-like because: 
"humans aren't designed to hold their arms in front of their faces making small motions. After more than a very few selections, the arm begins to feel sore, cramped, and oversized — the operator looks like a gorilla while using the touch screen and feels like one afterwards."

It's crazy enough that certain software is so heavily mouse-centric. Type on a couple keys, reach for mouse. Reach back to keyboard, type on a couple keys, reach back to mouse. Repeat all day long and ignore cranky right shoulder muscles.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tell you all about it when I get home

Ewan and Charley went back out on the road again in "Long Way Down," this time riding from the northern tip of Scotland (count how many times Ewan says John O'Groats) to the southern tip of Africa. Watching this immediately after finishing "Long Way Round" made for an abrupt change of feel - they seemed more subdued and serious, like this was a job (which it was) rather than just an adventure. Everyone seemed tense from expecting to meet schedules and deadlines until they had a huge off-camera blow up in Ethiopia. Then tensions eased and the guys seemed more like themselves, fraternizing with the locals, being sillier. Later Ewan's wife pulled a Yoko. I understand her wanting to be with her husband but since she previously had zero experience riding any type of motorcycle anywhere, it seemed dangerously foolish.

The disparity of attitude and landscape from one African country to another was often staggering. A school friend of mine has done missions work with the orphans of Ethiopia so I appreciated seeing a small glimpse of what she and her family have lived with. The scenery was always astounding no matter where they were. Count how many times Ewan compares where they are to Scotland. I didn't think any of it looked like Scotland, except Scotland. I loved the people who put up a huge sign near the road for them to stop in for a cup of tea. Amazing to see the pyramids right beside the road. Amusing how no one at the Tunisian "Star Wars" set recognized Ewen.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hang my head, Drown my fear, Till you all just Disappear...

One of the places the guys stopped in "Long Way Round" was the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan which isn't nearly as much a sea as it used to be. Previously one of the four largest lakes in the world, it's been shrinking since the Soviets diverted the rivers feeding it. Its near disappearance has wrecked the local economy and climate. Hundreds of ships were left to rust in the now desert. They'd all still be there if locals hadn't scavenged them for scrap metal. It would be very strange to walk out the front door of your house and right there in your yard is this huge ship.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

It looks a lot like the one used by Jimmy Page

Watched documentary: "It Might Get Loud" featuring the remarkable guitarists Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, all of whom are musical geniuses. And they have some beautiful guitars. Even one Jack makes with an old soda pop bottle. The guys discuss their formative years and trade info on how to play some of their hits. "Kashmir" in the bonus features is brilliant. I've always loved the way Page plays for the sound as well as how he puts his entire body and soul into it, becoming fluid with the guitar. The Edge must be very good natured to allow a clip of extremely early U2 looking like they were about 15 and playing dreadful kitsch. I was embarrassed for him, just watching it. Glad they improved! Nice to see some clips featuring Meg White who might have explained The Tractatus from Wittgenstein in depth. We have no way of knowing because she's a Quiet Talker.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Call me in Alaska if it all turns out right

We watched this old (2004? How is it that 2004 is now considered old?) special/series that Ewan McGregor made with his friend Charley Boorman, "Long Way Round." Enjoyed it so much, we're next going to watch the sequel, "Long Way Down." The first one, the lads start out in London and ride their very spiffy motorcycles east through incredible terrain, sometimes without a hint of a road, nothing but marshlands or rivers to cross over Europe and Asia, into Alaska, down through Canada and over to New York City. It took them 3 or 4 months plus prep time. I hear they have a special edition of this were they spend more time in Europe and America which would be even better because other than Montana, you really see next to nothing of this part of the world. From the map, it looked like they rode very close to us here, possibly just over the PA border. Would've been so cool to see them. Maybe if they take another trip!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What I am is what I am you what you are or what?

My  niece mentioned a 20-questions-like web page The Akinator, the Web Genius that can be fun to play. It took the thing more than the original guesses to come up with what I was thinking of both times I played, but when I continued, it guessed correctly. And without really a lot of information to go on. I think I'll try again with Edina Monsoon.. Yes, it guessed her with no problem.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Separated at birth revisited

Zoe Kazan and Kristin Hersh?