Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Newspapers and Dead Cats

This morning I sat down with my grande non-fat no-water chai tea latte and the local paper. I try to keep up with what's going on in the world, sometimes I find myself reading yesterday's paper but I figure, if you haven't read it yet, it's still news.

One article I found explained that Socks, the Clinton's White House cat had died. Okay, is that even news? Really, I mean is that what I need to be wasting my time with? Reading about a dead cat. Did I mention that I hate cats? This article (about a dead cat) was rather long and even continued onto another page in the section.

I wasn't about to go searching through the newspaper to read more about a dead cat. I got most of the information in the title of the article - "Socks the Clinton's White House cat dies." Okay, that's all I need to know, actually, that's more than I need to know. I'm kind of disappointed I even wasted my time reading the title.

When I do find myself interested in an article enough to flip through eight pages for the end of the story, I sometimes get sidetracked on the way. I'll usually stop to read the letters to the editor, oh and I always like to read the police reports to see what went down in the neighborhood yesterday, or I might find an article that's not so cocky that it was able to contain itself to one page, ohhhhh and there's a sudoku puzzle!

By the time I get to the page I was going to, I've usually forgotten what I was reading about in the first place.....oh, but there is an article about the Clinton's cat. I guess he died, poor little guy.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Do-It-Yourself Gone Bad

Today I was at the grocery store buying a few items. Just some milk, cereal, and some granola bars. As much as I like talking to the cashiers, they were all busy helping the organized shoppers. You know the ones, these people plan their grocery trips so that they only have to go shopping once every six months and end up with three carts full of food. Since they were busy, I decided to use the "Self-Checkout" lane. I'm sure you've seen these, they have four lanes monitored by one cashier but you (the customer) have to ring yourself up. They save the cost of having three extra cashiers by having you do their job.

Every time I use this stupid machine it gets mad at me because if I try and set a paper bag in the bagging are, it replies "Unexpected item in bagging area." Uhhhh, yeah, it's a freaking bag!! So the cashier has to come over and enter her keys, turn them both to the right at the same time, then enter a secret code which has to be verified by her immediate supervisor. I'm pretty sure it's the same process the military uses when launching nuclear weapons. So, once that emergency is over, I start putting my groceries in the bag. Of course, the granola bars are too light for it to register as me putting something in my bag and if I set the milk on the floor so I can carry it, we go through the same process all over again. These self bagging lanes are very sensitive to how you treat the bagging areas. If you set a paper bag down, it thinks you're stealing something. Yet, if you ring something up and don't set it down, it thinks you lost it. It's really very concerned for the well-being of myself and the people around me. So now the cashier has been over to see me three or four times, and the lady with three carts is already done and walking out to her car.

We already have to bag our own groceries, even when the cashier rings you up. I miss the days of the high school kid bagging the groceries and bringing them out to your car, well, not my car but the old lady in front of me, her car......okay, my car. Now the only people bagging your groceries are kids trying to raise money. I guess I don't think you should have to ring yourself up, because what will they have you doing next? Sweeping the floors? Stocking shelves? Giving out samples of cake? Actually, maybe I could volunteer for the cake job, I like cake.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cirrus Jet Factory Tour

Yesterday my friend Marc invited me along to visit the Cirrus Jet factory in Duluth, MN. He would be flying me up there in his own Cirrus SR-22, which is a very cool single piston engine airplane. It's most widely known for having a parachute built in which will safely float the airplane to the earth's surface in the event of a tragic malfunction (like a wing falling off).

After a slight delay due to some weather, we took off around noon and headed up to Duluth. It was a quick 45 minute flight which gave us time to catch up on what was happening in our lives. Marc's airplane is beautiful! It comes with anti-icing capability, a 180 knot cruise speed (which means speeds over the ground of around 200 mph), low fuel burn, and a full glass cockpit (which for those who don't speak aviation, simply means all the instruments are on a "TV" screen instead of an analog display).

We arrived in Duluth and just happened to land behind the one and only Cirrus Jet. They aren't planning on The-Jet being available to the "average person" (that has an extra $1,000,000 laying around) until 2011. Since it's still in the production phase, this jet was being flown by highly skilled test pilots.

We followed the Cirrus Jet into the factory ramp and we were greeted by Kevin, who seemed delighted to show us around. I guess if they think you've even got the slightest inclination to buy one of their airplanes, they're happy to show you how they're made. Kevin brought us through the hangar and showed us the various different stations that the engineer's and mechanic's use to assemble the airplane. They're still working out flaws on a daily basis, so the people that work there are very busy.

Unfortunately, they don't allow cell phones or camera's in the building. They said it's so our cellular signal doesn't set off the "spin-chute". The "spin-chute" is found only on the airplanes they use for testing and is launched by a rocket, just in case they spin the airplane and can't recover during flight tests. I however think they don't want us using our cell phones because it's still in production and they don't want us recording anything that may be "top-secret" and selling it to their competitor. As a matter of fact, they didn't even let us within about 30 feet of the actual airplane.

After the tour, Marc and I jumped back in his Cirrus and headed home. I don't think I'll be buying a Cirrus Jet anytime soon, but spending a day with a good friend, who will let me fly his airplane, and learning how they build a new jet, isn't a bad way to spend a Friday afternoon.

The front of Marc's Cirrus SR-22.

A side view of the Cirrus SR-22.

The tail.

The Cirrus Jet, which can be yours for the low price of $1,000,000. Call now!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Faking It

Have you ever faked it? I'll have to admit, there have been times when I wished I could have faked it but didn't. I'm talking about speaking or performing in front of a crowd. There are a lot of artists that use pre-recorded tracks when they perform live, especially for a big event like the Super Bowl, or the presidential inauguration.

Apparently Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill performed to pre-recorded tracks at the Super Bowl. I guess the National Anthem has been released on iTunes. You'd think they could have released it before the Super Bowl, since it had already been recorded. That probably would have ruined the surprise though, wouldn't it? At least Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band actually sang, but according to one report, the music was pre-recorded.

At the presidential inauguration, cellist Yo-Yo Ma played to pre-recorded music as well. I can understand that, it was below freezing that day, which isn't good for a stringed instrument. It could very easily go out of tune, and what kind of precedent would that set for the newest commander in chief? "Geez, he can't even pick a musician that can play competently, how's he going to run the country?"

Sometimes I wish I could use pre-recorded tracks when I talk. When I was about 12, I had to read a Bible verse in church. No big deal, unless you're "Smiling Paul". About half-way through the reading, I just started giggling. For no good reason at all, just uncontrollable giggling. I'm not sure anyone got anything out of that particular Bible verse. If I had pre-recorded what I was going to say, I'm sure it would have been flawless. Or, it could have gone like Milli-Vanilli's performance on MTV. They were using pre-recorded tracks with OTHER people's voices. Can you imagine if I had started "talking" with someone else's recorded voice? That would have been something to giggle about, a 12 year old kid talking in public, except he sounds like Berry White.

Obviously I would prefer if artists played live (especially when I pay big bucks to see them live). That being said, I can understand using pre-recorded music. They're on the road 4-5 nights a week, constantly playing the same music, fighting fatigue, sore throats, and cold weather that doesn't mix well with instruments.

I just wonder if I've ever been fooled by someone faking it?