Wednesday, January 25, 2012

42" Sanyo Plasma TV

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I finally broke down and bought a big screen TV even though my 10 year old Sharp 27" TV still had a great picture. But Wal-Mart had it on sale for $398, and I figured that was the cheapest one I could find without going to a pawn shop. I see where all plasmas are getting cheaper all the time; trying to get rid of the inventory no doubt.

And for the most part, I'm pretty happy with it so far. But there are a few things I'm not real crazy about.

The speakers don't seem to be very good. No matter how I adjust them, or go with the default settings, they just don't sound -- great. I would think that they would sound excellent, but they don't. Maybe Sanyo figured that whoever bought the TV would have a home theater system and wouldn't be using the built in speakers. I do have a HTS (but the middle speaker does't work anymore, and it's not the speaker itself, the system is just old). And it sounds good, but I don't want to use it all of the time.

Another thing I've noticed, which no one bothered to tell me, is that depending on the channel I'm watching, the picture quality varies from very good to kind of bad. The local channels seem to have very intense color saturation and it seems like there is just too much yellow. But if I adjust the color for those three stations, the others suffer.

One big selling point for plasma TVs is that the blacks are very black, which they are. But the whites are light gray, especially when most of the screen is white. I'm still tweaking the color balance, so maybe more blue and less green might help.

And I've noticed that some movies take up 75% to 80% of the screen, top to bottom, and some only 50%. All are 100% side to side.

But all in all, so far I guess I'm pretty happy with it. I really wanted an LCD or LED TV, but for the price I'm sure once I get used to it, it will be fine.
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Saturday, January 21, 2012

PIPA and SOPA

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I suppose that anyone who has access to the internet knows that PIPA (the Protect Intellectual Property Act) and SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act) have been put on the back burners in Congress for now.

I have never downloaded movies from the internet.

I did download the series finale of JAG (way back in 2005) from bit torrent because I forgot it was on and missed it, and wanted to see it. But I have never shared the episode with anyone, mainly because I didn't know anybody who would want to see it. I guess it's still on my computer somewhere, or maybe on one of my backup HDs.

I have downloaded songs back when Napster, Kazaa and Limewire were up and running. Some of them were songs I remember growing up with, but had no idea where to get them.

But most of the songs I got were the ones I had already bought and paid for - 45s and albums. And the reason I did that was to get clean versions of them to burn to CDs for my personal use.

Since the records were so old (some dating back to the 60s) the sound quality was just too bad to be able to clean up even with software designed to get the pops, clicks and hisses out of them (FYI, Audacity, a freeware program, is great for editing music files - click on the title to go to the Audacity site). And since I already paid for the songs, I didn't see where it would hurt anything to download copies that were digitally "perfect."

I do realize that downloading and sharing songs, movies, computer programs, etc., is a problem for the programmers, artists, actors, and record/TV/movie companies, since they are losing so much money. And I wish I had a solution that would make everybody happy (which I doubt there is one).

Maybe some kind of legislation is the answer, but it will have to be worded VERY carefully so that there will be no trampling on the rights of the legitimate sites that post music, movies, computer programs and original material.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

"Billy Jack" the Movie

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Just got around to watching the "Billy Jack" movie I got from my sister for Christmas.

I remember going to the movies to see it sometime in the early 70s (it was first released in 1971 but bombed. It did much better on its re-release in 1973). This was the second movie with Tom Laughlin in the role of Billy Jack. The first movie was called "Born Losers" and Billy Jack was going up against a motorcycle gang led by a friend he grew up with. (And BTW, those gang members would be eaten alive by today's Hell's Angels or Outlaws!)

Watching it tonight was from two different perspectives:

The first was remembering the times, and the attitudes in the late 60s/early 70s about hippies, free love, pot, the Viet Nam war, and the injustice and inequality regarding the different races ("Billy Jack" was about Native Americans and other races on an Indian reservation school).

The second perspective was watching it with today's attitudes, feelings, ideas, etc. Which have certainly changed since then.

The first time I saw the movie I thought it was absolutely great. I talked my brother into going. He didn't want to at first - he had just returned from Viet Nam and didn't know what the story was really about, other than from the previews showing Billy Jack kicking ass. But after the first time, he/we had to go back and see it again.

But after watching it this time, I realized not only how cheesy and corny the dialog was, and what bad actors some of the cast members were, but how inflammatory and biased the movie really was. It pushed every button it could about how bigoted most white men (and women) were when it came to accepting the new and different ideas, concepts, beliefs and lifestyles of the younger generation.

But looking at it from the 1960s/1970s perspective, it was pretty accurate about The Establishment and The Man. (If you don't know what that means, ask your grandparents.)

Was it a good movie? Not really, from an acting/dialog/editing point of view.

Was it an important movie? For the 70s, trying to expose the injustice and inequality of the white established authority, and the attitudes of the older generation, then I'd have to say yes. (Not that it showed anything that people didn't already know.)

There were a few familiar faces, but the only one I can put a name to is Howard Hessman (Johnny Fever on the old "WKRP" series, "Head of the Class" and tons of guest-starring roles). Don't recall ever seeing any of the younger cast members in anything else.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

"Sorry for your loss."

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It seems like every TV show that has somebody being killed also has somebody, usually a cop or a doctor, saying to the bereaved, "Sorry for your loss."

Maybe it's supposed to give some measure of comfort, but it has gotten SO clich├ęd that it's like hearing 'Have a nice day" -- it's so over used it no longer has any real meaning.

I don't know if cops and doctors in real life actually say that, but if somebody I knew died, and if somebody said that to me, I think I'd tell him or her to 'take your phony-sounding sympathy and shove it up your ass.'

That's all.
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Do not, "Not" NOT rent a car from Enterprise!!!

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Last week my daughter went to Enterprise to rent a car for the week to go south to visit a friend. She wanted a compact - cheap on gas. Instead, she got a V-8 Mercury Marquis, a gas guzzler. She couldn't wait for another car so she took this one.

You know how they fill the tank and tell you to bring it back full or they will charge an outrageous price for gas? Well this one was just below 1/4 full, so it cost her over $40 to fill the tank before she could leave for her trip.

She got to her destination, and two days later, on a Sunday, a heater hose broke, and the only place open, and close enough to fix it, charged her almost $100.

And as she was waiting, she was looking over the contract, she found they were charging her about $17 per day for insurance she specifically told then she DIDN'T want!

And because she didn't think to call the 800 number for Enterprise (the office was closed on Sunday) they refused to reimburse her for the cost of the heater hose.

And so, I repeat --


DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, RENT A CAR FROM ENTERPRISE!!!!
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Day 2012

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Well, it's a NEW YEAR ... and as far as I can tell -- nothing much has changed.

I will have to get out my check book and deposit slips and write 2012 on the date line because I always forget if I don't.

2011 wasn't so great, work-wise, but it was better than 2010. I'm in construction, and it slowly seems to be getting better, but it would be even better if I could get 52 forty-hour paychecks, something I haven't done since 2008. I lost about $10,000 in pay in 2009 compared to 2008. If I'd had a family to support I would have been in deep d00.

But I guess I should be grateful I even have a job. My sister was out of work almost a year, and she was able to collect unemployment checks. So she and her husband were able to get by, but they had no health insurance (he owns his own business and his work was down and they couldn't afford to self-insure themselves).

But I guess I should be grateful I even have a job.

Maybe 2012 will be better (at least until Doomsday arrives on Dec 21).
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