Known Johnson

December 20, 2007

Train kept a-rollin’

Filed under: General — Tom @ 9:34 am

I found a couple of links in WordPress’ dashboard about some new tools and themes and junk, stuff I really haven’t messed with, but I decided to investigate anyway because, well, why not? What I wound up reading was the written equivalent of the car dealer experience – “hey, you like this theme? How ’bout you put it on your site? You like this post? How ’bout we sit down and talk about a deal on an RSS feed?” It was rather gross – everything about these sites reeked of profiteering, everything aimed at driving new readers to the site so they could make more money from their advertisers. I’m not saying that’s wrong, necessarily . . . I just don’t understand it. I write because I like to write. I approach this like I see many of my favorite musicians approaching music – if you’re in this to make a fortune, you’d best quit while you’re still young and find something more easily and sensibly profitable.

It looks like “the holiday” has begun. Traffic is lightening up on the roads, which is a tremendous relief after weeks of daily nightmares (I know, that’s an oxymoron.) Once Thanksgiving hits Arizona, the roads in the morning are filled with “winter visitors” that we somewhat affectionately call “snowbirds.” The problem is, there is nothing to do in Phoenix until at least 9 am and more like 10 am, so why these people insist on getting on the road at 6 am is beyond me. They get out on the freeways in their motorhomes and giant cars, then drive slowly looking at every road sign along the way, pointing at cacti and anything else “southwestern.” It can be maddening. I’m sure San Diego feels the same way about us in the summer.

I began putting Amanda’s train environment together last night, figuring (correctly) that saving it to put together on Christmas Eve might just be a bit overwhelming.

Child not included

I lugged out the giant box and dug in, marveling at the miracle of packaging that had been employed. There’s a lot of stuff in that box, but it’s a one time thing – open one of the inner boxes and that miracle is dashed. Now instead of one big box we’ve got a big box and a couple of smaller boxes filled with the little buildings that I put together and a bag of vehicles that came with the set . . . in a room filled with tons of empty “just in case” boxes that we’d saved for possible use in packing Christmas presents, which are now pretty much useless and need to be thrown away. What a mess.

Now I just have to put the rest together, which will likely be saved for Christmas Eve simply because we have no way to hide this behemoth table. The instructions look like every bookcase I’ve ever put together – tab A into slot B, utilize screw X. Pretty straight forward for this kind of thing.

(Handy tip: If you have kids that like Thomas the Tank Engine, don’t waste your money on that rip-off set that they offer like this. It’s way more expensive and doesn’t offer anywhere near as much as this one does. This is compatible with the Thomas trains, too.)

Read some of the reviews of the train on the Toys R Us site – they’re pretty funny and very indicative of what kind of society we live in. “My son fell and hurt his head on the table. It’s a horrible table!” Apparently the table should have been made out of gummy bears and dreams so her son wouldn’t fall on it. Other reviews indicate that the people didn’t pay attention to the instructions, which, while not exactly clear (no surprise there – are any instructions these days clear?) give a good enough indication of what to do, and show that they just put their tables together very badly.

Speaking of instructions . . . I figured out the s-video dilemma! Just before bed last night, I sat down with the TV’s remote (not the cable-box remote) and ran through the menus once again, stopping on something called “Channel.” I selected it just to see what was inside and what did I find? “Video input” and “S-Video.” Could they not have been a little more clear in the main menu what could be selected in here? Dumb. I ran to the TV, unplugged the component video cables, and was ecstatic to see the clearest, sharpest picture I’ve ever seen coming from our DVD player. Not only that, it was BRIGHT. I cued up an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica (my most recent obsession) and was stunned to see not the murky, near-black spacefield with spots that were the ships that I’d been watching but a bright, clear image clearing showing very visible spacecraft. I cannot believe we’ve been missing out on this for so long. Now I have to see if I can run both the DVD and our cable box in via this one s-video connection – and if the cable box’s s-video gives any benefit or if that signal is already squunched down to the point where it makes no difference. Now I’m anxious to watch just about anything on DVD, especially things I’ve already seen, just to see what I missed.


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