Thursday, April 27, 2006

Utah Valley's asteroid belt

It's not a question of "if", it's not even a question of "when". It's a question of "how often". Not long ago, on my way home from work, I heard a loud smack and noticed a chip on what had moments ago been a pristine windshield. Not just a little glass divot, either; the impact had caused some small crack lines to fan out immediately. Lovely. Not a week later, it happened again. How strangely fortunate, I thought, that I hadn't spent the money on a new windshield yet. The universe's reaction to this thinking was to toss yet another rock at almost the same spot not 30 seconds later. A crack twofer. Apparently my commute leads directly through an asteroid field, and the Ford Taurus has significantly less shielding than the Millenium Falcon.

Yesterday, I was struck yet again. Same story, chip plus initial cracking all at once. All of these battle scars are in non-critical spots visually, which I suppose is some manner of silver lining. But with every hit, my enthusiasm for replacing that big pane of debris-magnet ("glass", some call it) dwindles.

This is no "woe is me" anecdote - the whole of Utah Valley suffers the same pain. There are some good reasons why it's such a common thing around here, as it turns out.
  • Where there are mountains, there are quarries
  • Where there are quarries, there are trucks carrying chunks of stone
  • Where there are regulations for covering truckloads, people are lazy
To amplify the matter, there are a grand total of two roads in Utah Valley, I-15 and State Street. The freeway and the old freeway. Both are under construction at all times, just in case there isn't enough loose debris around already. It also tends not to rain much here. Any washing away of debris from those two roads occurrs at pretty distant intervals.

This problem actually has a wonderfully-oversized solution:
Unfortunately, further arming Utah drivers would cause more trouble than it would fix.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I love movies. I'm even happy to pay bloated prices for tickets, sugarwater, and popped vegetables, only to buy the special-edition, extra-profit director's cut when it is released on DVD later. But some trends in big-studio filmmaking just leave me shaking my head.

Why, for example, do we need not one awful Hot-girl-beats-people-up-in-a-futuristic-setting movie, but a whole bunch of them in a row? (To be fair, I've seen only previews, but they all look genuinely awful) Why were there several A-meteor-is-going-to-hit-earth movies released within chronological spitting distance of each other? How about all the Guy-seeks-to-deflower-the-girl-but-they-fall-in-love movies that came out over the course of a summer? And lately, it's been a wave of Cute-computer-animated-animals-share-heart-warming-fart-jokes films.

I don't mean to just pick on stupid movies either. I'm all for stupid movies. Adam Sandler generally plays the same sweet-but-troubled guy every single time, but God help me, I continue to find 50 First Happy Waterboy Daddy Singer Deeds funny, time and time again. I make no claim that all cinematic repetition is bad.
You can do it!

But when the pitch for a two-hour movie is something like "this redneck guy acts obnoxious" or "bratty kids laugh as their dad is on the receiving end of pies and other standard-issue slapstick" or "it's been a while since Titanic, let's do another sinking-ship, tragic-romance picture", I just have to wonder what exactly causes these projects to get the green light.

The content of so many films isn't even the whole story. Now they're even packaged in an obnoxious way. The thoughts running through film executives' heads has to go something like this: "Keep the exhorbanant ticket and snack prices, but now show twenty minutes of loud, extended television commercials to anyone who dares care enough about the movie to want to get there early and find good seats. Not only that, but talk down to them about how illegal it is to copy movies." Know what? If we're still coming to the theatre, even though the DVD will be out next week and we'll be able to not have noisy kids and cell phones around us while we watch... If we're still coming to the theatre, when it's ridiculously easy to download a fairly high-quality version of the movie before it even opens... If we're still coming to the theatre, how about showing some appreciation? Respect, even? A blaring, two-minute Coca-cola ad? This theatre doesn't sell Pepsi. If I'm thirsty, Coke's already got my money.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see Scary Movie 4.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Scary-ass gliding kids

Is this just in Utah valley or is it everywhere? Admittedly, I see more kids around here than anywhere else I've been. But the rabbit-like procreation rate of Mormons is, for the time being, beside the point.

Whether it happens at a grocery store or a restaurant or anywhere folks bring their kids, which is everywhere, it scares the bejesus out of me every damn time. Kids are sorta scary anyway, with their unnaturally loud voices given the scaled-down size of their vocal cords, their ability to change direction and velocity with no warning, and their complete and utter lack of any sense of context. But now and then I'll catch a glimpse of one that's gliding. Gliding! A kid who's running at least gives you some aural cues that something's about to come tearing out of the next aisle. These new ethereal, gliding mutants not only have the added speed from their roller-shoes, but they move almost silently, darting out of nowhere or stalking their prey in a near-perfect stealth.

I ran a quick search for images of these ghastly munchkins, hoping that some photographer out there had captured the correct sense of terror. While I did learn that apparently this phenomenon is this man's fault, bupkis on the photo front. There are some ads featuring somewhat-scary kids, and some snapshots of way-too-old-for-this kids "grinding" on various public surfaces using these shoes as skateboards, but I think it needs to be seen in motion to be understood. Imagine the last kid that was whining at a restaurant or otherwise attempting to spoil your day. But now imagine him/her standing perfectly still. If that wasn't suspicious and bizarre enough, now imagine the perfectly-still kid silently gliding straight ahead at high speed, moving nary a muscle. Catch this in the corner of your eye and your confidence in everything from the laws of physics to any sense of justice or compassion in the universe will be shaken to the core. Did the Matrix just glitch out for a moment? Is someone using your grocery store as a set for some drug trip film? No, they're here, and they're real, at least real enough to run into you and get kid slime on your good jacket.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Soon we'll know everything

My wife came across this little gem while changing channels. For childish reasons still unclear to us, we felt it necessary to photograph it.

Just a silly little "anic"dote. Oof, sorry.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Tetrises bring all the girls to the yard

Nintendo made magic happen with the DS. Not the 3D graphics, not the wireless networking, and not the 10-hour battery life. After lunch, my work buddies and I can whip out these little shiny devices and get all competitive, spouting off enough random banter to occasionally make my eyes water.

day was less of a Tetris contest than a competition of who could say the most random and off-the-wall things during play.
"I just did something totally retarded"
"I'm offended by the word 'retarded'"
"I'm offended by the word 'water'"
"My ancestors came here across water"
"Mine didn't, my ancestors hovered"
"They must have had very advanced technology"
"My ancestors were from the future"

This has been a test of the emergency blog posting system. Had it been an actual emergency, this nearly-inactive blog would be the last place any reasonable person would expect to find warning.