Tastes Like Chicken

Saturday, April 21, 2001

_The Whirlpool Galaxy in Dust and Stars

By far the best electronic copies of this dramatic image of a galaxy rich in developing stars. Click on the title link to go to the page with accompanying text, click on the image to load an even larger and more detailed version.

_Screwed by UPS
Now that they can no longer hold any of my crap hostage, I can share my naughty and nice list from my recent e-commerce adventure.

This site used to be called Entertainment From The Unemployed (EFTU(F2)). I changed the name because, shocker, I got a job (a good one, to boot!). To celebrate getting my first paycheck all damn year three weeks ago, I ordered myself a sweet digital camera setup. I knew what I wanted: a Canon PowerShot G1 with a one gigabyte IBM microdrive storage card and a second, more powerful battery.

All together, it is a hell of a package. The camera takes pictures at up to 2048 by 1536 and can save pictures with lossless compression or any one of three levels of JPEG compression. With lossless compression at the maximum image size, this setup can take and record over 400 pictures without stopping to swap batteries or running out of storage.

But it took a LOT of torture to get it all together. Each of the three major pieces was ordered from a different vendor on the same Saturday within a two hour period. On Wednesday the extra battery arrived via the US Mail. I couldn't test it, but everything looked like it was in good shape. On Thursday I find a note on my door from UPS with the "Sign to have package(s) delivered" box checked. I do. On Friday, instead of finding my whoop-ass camera, I find a new note on my door that now says "Signature required on delivery (in person)"! Nice, really fucking nice, UPS. I call the number and after going through several layers of runaround, UPS refuses to honor the original slip and just deliver my damn camera. Now I have to have the delivery redirected to a friend's workplace since it is not possible to have it delivered to mine. But they can't even guarantee me that that will happen, as it is now after 7 pm and it currently looks like they won't be able to redirect the shipment before they try and fail again to deliver to my empty home. And that would be the third failure, which would trigger an automatic return of the camera to the seller. Wonderful!

Now, after the fact, I still can't tell what happened that Friday except that I did not find a camera waiting at home. On Monday of the next week it finally shows up at the second shipping location. Did it bounce back and forth between the seller and there between Thursday and Monday? Hell if I know.

Now this leaves one more part, the memory card, an IBM microdrive.

That little thing is a one gigiabyte hard drive. That still amazes me. I think the appeal of such a device in combination with a camera that can take as many as 800 huge pictures on a battery charge is pretty clear. On the first Friday after I ordered all the stuff, the dreaded UPS note for the drive appeared on my door. Now, having been burned on the delivery of my camera, I had tried to get UPS to redirect the shipment of the drive, too, but they refused to do so until delivery to the original address had failed. Thanks so much. You gotta love that customer service that is unwilling to avert a known, predictable and avoidable failure. So on Thursday I call up and get this shipment redirected. Miraculously, it arrives the next day and my friend brings it to my home.

It has been crushed, absolutely crushed. The external and internal shipping boxes had been accordioned, and one of the disks in the package was physically creased down the middle. Yes, UPS managed to find another way to fuck me inside of a week.

I dropped that back in UPS's lap and contacted the seller. Once UPS got off their ass and registered the return pickup in their system, the seller immediately sent a replacement microdrive. Against all odds, UPS mangaed to deliver this one intact, and despite STILL having to go through the "fail, THEN redirect" bullshit, this one did arrive unmolested.

All the pieces are now in place and everything works beautifully, no thanks to UPS. Can yo believe that the US Mail provided dramatically better service than UPS?

The Good Guys - these vendors offered remarkably good prices, accurate stocking information, quick order turnaround, and were all courteous and professional every time I interacted with them personally:
dbuys.com - source of the camera
Cititronics - source of the microdrive
Battery Barn - source of the extended-life battery

The assholes: UPS.

Thursday, April 19, 2001
_Pranks for the Memories
The top 10 'phone pranks of all time (Groening has publicly claimed to have never heard or heard of the Tube Bar tapes prior to Bart's antic's becoming a regular feature of The Simpsons).

_Population: 1
A thought provoking piece on a women whose severe manic depression makes her live far away from other people. Is she a freak? Is she coping or running away? Has she made herself happy, or just retreated and given up?

Wednesday, April 18, 2001
_A Visitor Within
A review for a promising sounding book on human pregnancy with a medical/technical focus an both the mother and child. The review touches on how the signaling of pregnancy happens and what establishes the timing of birth (not the mother or child, but the placenta), the prospects for extra bodily fetal development and more.

Tuesday, April 17, 2001

_Theocracy in America: seeing the future of Bush's America in Mormon-dominated Utah
This makes an interesting companion piece to this one about the surreal process of being kicked out of the Mormon church (though this new article makes you wonder how long being kicked out will last since the Mormons have gone so far as to disturb the graves of Jews murdered by the Nazis to baptize them into the LDS).

_I can see sounds
Another look at unusual human perception (see the story below about human echolocation). This article is about a woman, a painter, who partly experiences sounds as colors.

Monday, April 16, 2001

The only time I went to a steeplechase they killed two horses (and didn't let us get a single taste).

_Armadillo Aerospace
Ok, so your name is John Carmack, and you made these little games called DOOM and Quake, and, unlike Ron Jomero, you managed to not piss all the money away on lame projects and fake tits for your girlfriend/underling. So what does the world's smartest geek do for relaxation and entertainment? Rocket science. Duh!

Blondes take note: watch the movies to find out why not to wear leather around pure peroxide.

So is that moment of first-person hose wielding a clue to future id games? ;-)

Sunday, April 15, 2001
_Human echolocation
Ooh, good article (via fmh, I think). A blind writer describes his ability to sense his environment through echolocation, the analysis of sounds he creates. Yup, like bats. The closest I can come is the ability to tell if I'm within maybe 4 feet of a wall in room because of shifts in the interplay of ambient noise with my tinnitus.