About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gadzooks! It's been a while...

I am *this* sorry for denying you fine folks the privilege of being bored with my ramblings for so long. It's been a rather nutty time of it, and I know that this time of the year (early Spring, in my patch of the world) is burdened with a million things to do for a lot of folks.

One thing that I did recently was to buy a small hydraulic log splitter (why doesn't blogger think that 'splitter' is a valid word? Incomplete freaking spell checkers...you'd think that they would be now be linked up to merrriam-webster or something). It's surprising how much fun one can have with one of these little contraptions if one has a few felled trees to turn into a Spring night's calming social time. Or a couple of years' worth of Spring nights.

Also, it's the end of the fiscal year at work. Apparently the bean counters and upper management don't understand the Gregorian calendar: something that every school-child is exposed to and knows seemingly innately when vacations happen as well as all the myriad holidays to be had during the year. I'm not sure why we put the short-yellow-bus-riders in charge of international companies, but here I am with them signing my checks.

But end of the year means that it's "crunch time", and that means long stressful days and early bed times (of late as early as 8:30 falling asleep in my recliner, which my beautiful wife shrewdly had connected up to a sleeping gas cylinder that she has secreted below the floor, thus ensuring her the peaceful nights that she deserves...I have my revenge though, since I usually end up asleep with the TV remote under me...hehe).

In any event, this sh...stuff means that I've been mentally fatigued, physically sore, and mostly asleep the last week or two. Ergo, you have all had relatively peaceful lives free from the intrusion of my incursions.

Today I've gotten a lucky break:
A nice, gray, drizzly morning that I can understand other people calling "cold", which means no yard work.
The two middle kids are at a music festival, and the wife (a better parent than I) is in attendance there.
The youngest is still asleep, and may remain so until tomorrow morning if I let him. Which I'm sorely tempted to do! He's a veritable angel while asleep.

So, a nice personal breakfast and a bit of time, and I feel like a regular human...alas. In playing catch-up with personal e-mails and whatnot, I've popped my very favorite movie of all time into the Blue Ray player, and I am content.

The movie watching and Blue Ray experience provoke thoughts, which I try to not have, but there they are, and here they come:

Our Blue Ray player is pretty darned new, and I'm still getting used to it, but it's got a number of pretty cool, sensible features that I rather like. For instance, when I insert a disk into the device (a roller-feed mechanism rather than a sliding tray mechanism), the player starts itself up, turns the TV on, changes the TV input to pay attention to the player, and starts the disk a-goin'.

This is SO simple, and obvious a feature, and many players may do it these days, but this is the first that I've been exposed to. Previously, I'd load a disk into our DVD player, then turn on the TV, grab the TV remote to change the input (of which there were six), grab the DVD remote to control the player and get everything going. Not a real challenge, but it makes sense that when I insert a disk, I must be planning on actually watching the movie that is on that disk, and therefore I'm going to have to do all these things...why not let the device do it? This is one time when I'm glad to have someone else assume my intent based upon my actions.

Human Factors, ergonomics, call it what you wish; to me, it's just common sense, and we should all be blessed with it. It probably helps that my TV and Blue Ray player are manufactured by the same folks: Samsung. They play together quite nicely.

The movie of the morning: 1938's "The Adventures of Robin Hood", with Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, the brilliant Claude Rains and equally brilliant Basil Rathbone (who's very name sets him as an excellent villain, though his stint as Sherlock Holmes was admirable as well).

I often lament at the evolution in movies over the years: the old ones, in my opinion, are the best. There are good newer movies around, but by and large the older ones were better by far than what are made today. That said, Russel Crowe's Robin Hood was pretty darn good.

I've owned this Robin Hood DVD for a number of years, and my very favorite wife recently bought the Blue Ray copy for me. The colors and scenery in this copy are...hmm...I'd rather not use the word 'brilliant' again, but it's quite appropriate. Vivid would work too. You can really see a great deal of detail in the Blue Ray that you can't in the DVD; Blue Ry is as superior to the DVD as the DVD is to the VHS tape.

Now typically, I would decry the colorization process; movies that were shot in black-and-white should continue to be shown in black-and-white; the directors in those movies went to great lengths to utilize shadows of various depths to affect parts of the story, and to help emote intangible parts of the stories that they told. I feel that a lot is lost in the colorization process, and while I'm all for machines doing tedious things for me, I feel like the colorization of old movies alleviates much in the way of the watcher's application of imagination. It's just not the same experience.

That all said, this is not an issue with this Robin Hood movie, as, when it was shot in 1938, was one of the very first productions to be shot in the then cutting-edge 3-Strip Technicolor Process. It, having been produced with color in mind, and having been shot in color, means that I can enjoy it in color too!

Just now Maid Marian is on trial for treason in front of Prince John and Sir Guy of Gisbourne and all I can say is "wow". They have a very dark background with Marian illuminated by a pretty single-minded spot light. The colors that I see this morning are colors that I am confident were there all along, but looked more white than not on the DVD. Today, her dress is more lavender, and the contrasts are stunning, as the producers and directors intended.

Go Blue Ray!

One last thought about this movie though: Robin just stumbled upon King Richard in Sherwood forest; you'd think that the Baron of Locksley would know the King by sight, but this is not the case. Too funny. It's not until King Richard shows his tabard that the men of Sherwood know who they've got in their midst.

"I'm sorry, your Highness...I didn't recognize your face, but I know you now because of your shirt!" HAHA!

I'll be back sooner than not! Have a splendid life in the meanwhile.


  1. Holy Moley...when you catch up you don't fool around do you? Where do I start? With log splitters in which my Dad lost part of a finger..DVD players (but then I rarely watch a movie)..kids; thank God mine is out of the house never to return, sleeping in reclining chairs; I did that for a while when my cat allergies were at an all time high......so many choices so little time.
    Umm....couldn't just ANYONE be wearing that tabard?????

    1. Ugh...sorry to hear about dad's digit - glad mine's a manual one that I need two hands to operate. You need to watch more movies; they stimulate my imagination quite often, and usually for the good! I'm also glad to hear that kids actually do, sometimes, leave and not return, as it means that there's hope for me yet!

  2. It's funny, my friend and I were discussing your blog last night. We were wondering why you had not updated in so long. Mystery solved!

    1. Sorry to keep you wondering, but at least you had a mystery to chew on! Must be why my ears were burning on Friday night.

  3. Basil Rathbone was a very masterly Holmes. He is one of my favorite Holmes as well :)


    1. Hey! Nice avatar! I think that Basil was the quintessential Holmes. Glad to hear that I'm not alone.

  4. You know, my blueray player does that too, but sometimes it's frustrating, because if all you want to do is eject the disk, like, say you're heading out the door, and it's from netflix and you want to return it, it turns everything on. Then I gotta stand there, turn OFF the TV, which actually takes about 8 seconds to fully turn on to the point where I can turn it back off.

    OR, in the same case where people are watching something, it changes over to the Blue Ray player's input.

    Not sure if I'd rather it act the way id does, or like they used to. Seems both have their inconvenience potential.

  5. Mine won't turn the TV on if I'm just ejecting the disk, so I don't have that little issue. I can see that it'd be irritating though.

  6. Back with a vengeance! LOLOL! I'm always behind, so it works for me. :)

    My grandparents were having trouble with their new DVD player, my last visit to England. I ended up watching an entire movie in black-and-white that was supposed to be in colour (Hot Fuzz). For a long while, I actually thought the movie had been made black-and-white, until we watched it again back in Canada. It's a whole new experience!

  7. If you get this... there is a blog up today on Live Like Dirt about the evolution of humans and meat-eating that might interest you. He's also asking if anyone knows where he got the title for the blog from... I wondered if you might know. Here's a link to the blog in case you get this and are interested: http://livelikedirt.blogspot.ca/