On The Way There – Disneyland October 2012 Day One

“Expecting is the greatest impediment to living. In anticipation of tomorrow, it loses today.”

– Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Seneca Mouseketeer
“Can I be banished to Fantasyland, instead?”

Ten long months had passed since we had reserved a hotel room with a few excited clicks of a mouse.  The formal opening of our Disneyland adventure was the morning of Friday, October 12, 2012, but as with almost all of our vacations, it had been long in anticipation. In this case, we began negotiating dates with our travel party the better part of a year before.  October seemed a long ways off in the cold dark of January.

Dreary old Seneca thought that anticipating the future kept us from appreciating our present, but he never planned a trip to Disneyland – his travel opportunities included banishment to Corsica for sleeping with the emperor’s sister. In my experience, the gathering and staging phase can be every bit as engaging as the trip itself. Continue reading “On The Way There – Disneyland October 2012 Day One”

CES: Crazy Times, Great Candy

Everybody is overwhelmed at CES. That is the only genuine emotion of the show.

It is true that the attendees of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show would often display curiosity, happiness, irritation, frustration, flirtatiousness, thoughtfulness, disdain, or disgust, but those were affectations. They were simply overwhelmed, and how could they not have been? Either they were there to meet people — and there were too many to count, or they were there to see the tech products — and there were too many to count.

Welcome to the ZAGG booth! Can I... slightly confuse you?

CES is, in all ways, a sensory invasion. Visiting CES is a little like dropping by the Smithsonian Institution in that it is far too vast for a person to see all in a day. I spent most of my time in the Central Hall, which held most of the larger, more elaborate booths and bigger name exhibitors. Although I was a working stiff for ZAGG Inc. at the show, my responsibilities were such that I was able to look around and take in some of the other areas. Even so, CES is large enough that I still saw just a modest fraction of the show.

There is no dress code at CES, which is very fortunate for some people, and creates an unusual situation where businesspeople in expensive suits rub shoulders with television producers in wrinkled khaki, and shove past hipsters with ironic t-shirts and women in impossibly short skirts. My CES dress consisted of company golf shirts and slacks, which was not uncommon, although by far I saw more people in what could be termed “trade show business casual.” It was the same for men and women: slacks, loafers, a button up shirt, a sports coat, no tie for the men, no heeled shoes for the women, and both carrying a sensible bag. Black was the shade of choice. Women might substitute a t-shirt for the button up, and men might substitute expensive jeans for the slacks, but if there were 400,000 visitors to CES, at least 50,000 of them were dressed like they shopped out of the same catalog.

Continue reading “CES: Crazy Times, Great Candy”

Notes from the Duckburg Geographical Society or, Is It Ever Too Late For a Trip Report?

Hello, my name is Nate/The Lumbering Bear, and I make lists. In fact, I have an almost overwhelming compulsion to make lists. I categorize practically every trivial interest in my life, from my favorite make and model of car to my order of preference when eating Skittles. I would worry about this being a possible mental disorder, but I think it is one of those things that almost everyone does, but few people admit. I may take it to a little higher level than most, but we all have our preferences. Anyway, that’s me.

Nothing says "vacation" more than a five foot tall mouse in a tropical shirt.

I have wondered before about my source for this compulsion to categorize, hoping, again, that it is not a rare problem. Is it our (my?) attempt to bring some sort of order to the chaos of impulses that assault us from every direction? I doubt my grandfather (and his generation) spent much time wondering which person to put at the top of his “celebrity girlfriend” list, or which was his favorite sports team of any league at the moment. Maybe he did, but I doubt it. It could be a question of spare hours and idle minds, but I don’t consider myself a lazy person with an overabundance of time. I am certain I would be by my grandfather’s standards, though, so perhaps that explains it.

If anyone cared to know which are my favorite movies, actresses, actors, songs, bands, snacks, vacation destinations, cars, cities, animals, video games, television shows, and brands of milk, I could tell them. I have already considered it. Furthermore, within most of those lists are further lists, like the movie category: action, rom-com, drama, and so on. I can pontificate about any of my personal likes and dislikes (I have lists for those, too) ad nauseam. I swear, it is much more reflexive than deliberate. I try hard to keep these to myself, for the most part. Or, at least I think I do. I’m sure the poor Wandering Moose has heard about them more than she cares, though.

Continue reading “Notes from the Duckburg Geographical Society or, Is It Ever Too Late For a Trip Report?”

The iPad is Coming, But It Is Not Coming Alone

Earlier this week Apple announced the official first day of what could be the next major electronics revolution: April 3, 2010. That is when the Wi-Fi version of their much anticipated iPad (also known as: “the iPad for people too impatient to wait for the more sensible 3G configuration”) is slated for release. The 3G compatible version will arrive later in April.ipad and zagg

The Wi-Fi iPad will start at for $499 for the bare bones device with smallest hard drive capacity (16GB). The Wi-Fi + 3G iPad with the largest hard drive (64GB) will run $829. All other combinations will fall somewhere in-between. Apple will begin pre-selling on their website starting March 12 for U.S. customers (sorry international fans), and questions have already been raised about how many devices they will be able to deliver at launch. It could be a critically uncomfortable first few days for the lords of technology in Cupertino, California.

The revised release date is a few days past their original announced target, and some industry observers are speculating that Apple will still need some luck to reach the new goal. However, that did not seem to scare investors, who sent the stock up significantly on the heels of the revision.

Continue reading “The iPad is Coming, But It Is Not Coming Alone”

Google Hearts Wikipedia

Taking a small dip into their enormous, $24 billion dollar bag of money, Google Inc. helped assure another year of advertisement-free service for online reference tool Wikipedia. A gift of $2 million from the world’s most profitable Internet company has helped push Wikimedia Foundation – a non-profit group – past their revenue target of $10.6 million. chekhov2010-hp

The popular online encyclopedia has more than 14 million entries in 270 languages. The information pages are written and edited by an estimated 100,000 contributors, all of them unpaid. Wikimedia Foundation does maintain a paid staff of around 30 people, and that cost, along with operational budgets, makes up the majority of their expenses. Most of its funding comes through private donations.

Over 240,000 individuals have donated to Wikipedia this year, most in small sums. Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar contributed an additional $2 million six months ago through an investment arm.

Wikipedia logo Wikipedia is often criticized for inaccuracies on their information pages, due to the nature of the service. Any reader can enter and edit information on nearly any of the pages, leading to frequent mistakes and intentional defacing. “We face a number of challenges in our service model, but we believe in the free nature of the Internet,” said an unidentified Wikipedia spokesperson. “Besides, Mark Garlick likes boys and bon jovi rules bon jovi rules bon jovi rules.”

Google founder Sergey Brin proclaimed Wikipedia as “one of the greatest triumphs of the Internet.” The philanthropic donation will cost Google nearly 0.0083% of the cash they had available at the end of December 2009.

(via The Associated Press)

Review: Tech Commercials from the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is a large and multi-faceted event that will almost certainly be the largest viewing audience for a single television program this year.  While it is ostensibly the NFL’s championship game, the other items surrounding it bring in the larger audience, including the pre-game ceremonies, the celebrity singing the national anthem (this year: Carrie Underwood), the halftime micro-concert (this year: The Who), and, of course, the commercials.  Advertising for the Super Bowl is always a hot topic, and a common denominator to bring non-sports fans to the viewing party.  As a case in point, at my family event we have two determined non-sports fans in attendance who ignore the game as best they can, and tune in when the commercials start.

For the 2010 game, the estimated cost was $3.01 million per 30 second spot for advertisers.  Tech companies are among the best positioned and least affected by the global recession (although no market is truly recession-proof this time around), so I was anticipating quite a few tech companies to spend money.  The Super Bowl and its unbelievable global stage is a world-class opportunity for large companies to make a splash.  In a related note, it was reported that advertising took up 48 minutes of the Super Bowl broadcast, which was a new record.

With that in mind, here are the tech (or somewhat tech) commercials and some thoughts on them:Boost Mobile Shuffle

The Boostmobile Shuffle — The first real tech commercial of the Super Bowl was a spoof of the original Super Bowl Shuffle, which was performed a quarter of a century ago by the 1985 Chicago Bears.  The Shuffle has not exactly aged well, so I have no idea why Boostmobile thought it had cultural currency with today’s audience, besides some sort of kitsch factor.  While I loved the original Super bowl Shuffle, I was also 9 years old at the time and still eating my boogers.  It is interesting what 25 years of amassed debt will do to a person’s willingness to sell out, although I don’t think that original team had much personal shame to begin with.  This is not a strong beginning for tech ads; I had a hard time not typing the words “utterly horrifying.” Continue reading “Review: Tech Commercials from the Super Bowl”

Why I Am A Fan of Gordon Lightfoot, and Other Playlist Revelations

Based on the available evidence, it seems that I like to blog about once a year. I cannot claim greater frequency. After all, it was around this time in 2008 that I last posted something, so if that theory is correct, it is now time to dust off the old Deep Forest Outpost and kick around a few thoughts.

The sad truth, though, is that I have a growing collection of unfinished posts that either outlived their usefulness/timeliness, or in which I lost interest because they were not that interesting to begin with. It surprises me that I do not blog more often, because I am always fascinated by my own observations and I never fail to laugh at my own jokes. I am an ideal audience for myself.

Wahahahahaha! Your jokes are so funny!

I hope this post manages to make it all the way to the internet this time, because I do want to get back to a more regular blog schedule. I spent some time earlier this year writing most of a sizable recap of our family vacation to Walt Disney World, but that took place about nine months ago, and so the statute-of-limitations has probably run out. More recently I have been working on an extensive chronicle of my recent trip to Africa as a representative of ZAGG. While I still plan on posting that soon, in multiple parts, I wanted to get something into the digital ether before it really did go past a year between postings for me.

So I decided to repeat an idea I used about a year and a half ago, and post one of my current music playlists with some notes about each of the songs. I hope to get to the end of this before any of my standard distractions (watching television, working on my book, surfing the internet, gaming, etc.) break in. I do hope it is interesting to someone besides me; but believe me, I already love it. Continue reading “Why I Am A Fan of Gordon Lightfoot, and Other Playlist Revelations”

A Few Reasons Why I Would Rather be a Utah Fan…

WARNING: SPORTS NERD POST (links to rebuttals from BYU fans are at the bottom)

With the annual rivalry battle between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University just days away, I thought it would be a perfect time to post a collection of evidence why Utah is more fun to follow than BYU.  My initial idea was to write this a few weeks ago, so fellow bloggers who are BYU fans could post replies. Unfortunately, delays-upon-delays meant that now I only have a few days before the game, which leaves a very small window for a BYU response.  If no one is able to, then I suppose Utah wins by default.  I mean, they would win anyway, but nobody likes to see a forfeit from the other team.200px-utah_utes_logo

The big problem I encountered when compiling this list is that I enjoy watching BYU football, as well.  I have followed Utah all of my sports life, which began back when it was less of a rivalry and more of a yearly massacre at the hands of the Cougars.  After the tables began to balance and my sports fan tastes matured a bit (so to speak – people rarely use the terms “sports fan” and “mature” in the same sentence) I curiously found myself both watching and enjoying BYU football.  In fact, I even considered myself a legitimate fan of both teams for a while, which was a difficult balancing act, and could not be sustained for long.

Now I am firmly entrenched in the Utah camp, and although I looked over the fence for a while, I realize now that I never really left.  Remnants of my dual identity remain, and although I may draw ridicule from other fans for trying to follow two rival teams, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Cougars.  Sometimes it’s a very small spot, but it is there.

With that out of the way, allow me to move on to the primary arguments:

Continue reading “A Few Reasons Why I Would Rather be a Utah Fan…”

An Overdue Update

Mice grow to terrifying proportions in Southern California
Mice grow to terrifying proportions in Southern California

Our original intent for this blog makeover was to have it double as a sort of travelogue for our various adventures, but things haven’t quite worked out that way yet.  I imagine we will try to address that shortcoming soon, perhaps as a potential New Year’s Resolution (which, at the rate of our posting, could very well be the next entry after this), but the result of our laxity is there are now a lot of things I want to write about.  This tends to be an early indication of a blog-disaster for me, because of my tendency to be a bit bombastic.

For example, not long ago I set out to post a few thoughts and opinions following the conclusion of the 2008 Summer Olympics.  I started by outlining my 20 favorite things about the games, followed by my 10 least favorite.  Then, I made a third section of events which I would like to see more in the future, followed by those I felt were over-indulged.

I didn’t think the project was overly ambitious in the beginning, but I began to reconsider after I found myself 5,000 words into it and only halfway through the first outlined section.  I could have pressed on and finished it, but who would ever take the time to read something like that?  It sits in my files waiting for further enlightenment, which will almost certainly never come.

Continue reading “An Overdue Update”

The Story of Poor Sasha

How could anyone resist this face?
How could anyone resist this face?

Our posts to this blog are seasonally sporadic, by which I mean they are sporadic in the summer, winter, spring and fall. We are trying to be more frequent in our efforts, but we are also both busy enough that it is assigned a much lower priority than we may otherwise like. Besides, it’s not like anyone we know relies on this blog as a source of news about us. I was going to use this post as an opportunity to write about the new Batman movie, but an event in our lives has trumped all else, and it’s only proper for me to describe that, instead.

The story actually starts in 2005 when Sasha, our pet dog (and child substitute), tore the anterior cruciate ligament on her left rear leg as she was running in from the backyard. I watched it happen: she stepped in a gopher hole, let out a little yip, and came hobbling toward me on three legs; her ears were back in pain and worry. That misstep led to a visit to the vet, followed by X-rays, surgery, hiding antibiotics in treats, and weeks of recovery. We spent more than a few worried hours, laughed a bit, cried a bit (figuratively speaking – I don’t remember shedding actual tears, and it’s safe to say that if I didn’t, The Wandering Moose didn’t either), and lightened our bank account. It felt like a long and frustrating experience, although ultimately everything worked out fine and Sasha made a complete recovery. She even grew back all the fur on her hindquarters after a year or so, which was nice because they shaved her entire leg and hip for the surgery, leaving a bare turkey-leg shaped patch of skin. T.W. Moose had been very pessimistic about total regrowth ever happening, but it did.

Continue reading “The Story of Poor Sasha”