Technology.

I took this photo while out for walk in the neighborhood the other night. It was taken about an hour after sunset and it was dark enough in that I couldn’t really see where I was walking without a flashlight. Yet, I decided to snap this photo to see if I could get a picture of the surroundings.

Night mode on the latest iPhone is very impressive. The sky was nowhere near that bright. I like the resulting contrast in the photo.

Your Thrift Habits.

I have fallen into a Youtube hole and have landed on “Your Thrift Habits”, a educational film from 1948. I don’t know why I landed here, but I do like the fashions.

Space.

One of the cool things about living in Tucson is the star watching opportunities that abound over the Sonoran Desert. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Tucson has a light pollution ordinance; many of the side streets in residential areas don’t have street lights (our street included). There’s an ordinance as to how much light can be directed skyward. It makes for some beautiful skies.

I have used stargazing apps on my iPad since my very first iPad 1 back when they first came out. They’re a delight; point your iPad in the direction of the sky and the app will tell you what you’re looking at. It gets more interesting when accompanied with binoculars or a telescope, because you can see that much more in real life as depicted in the app.

I inherited my grandfather’s smaller telescope when he passed away in 2005. I look forward to getting it set up on the roof and really gazing at the beauty offered by our beautiful Universe.

Being The Ricardos.

Photo from wikipedia.

I lived in Jamestown, New York for a few years in my early 20s. The city wasn’t far from where I went to college the first time, and when I found myself out of the college gig I found a job in Jamestown and settled in for a couple of years before moving onto bigger and better things. At the time, this was the late 1980s, Jamestown was starting to ramp up it’s “All Things Lucy” approach to tourism, after all, Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York (just outside of Jamestown) and had frequently mentioned Jamestown on “I Love Lucy” and during interviews and the like.

As a kid I watched “Here’s Lucy” and “I Love Lucy” reruns as they were available at just about any time. I always liked the show and as I grew older I’ve come to like Lucille Ball’s work as an comedic actor and an the head of Desilu studios on a more sophisticated level. When Amazon announced the release of “Being The Ricardos” I was intrigued. We took the opportunity to watch the movie tonight.

The film focuses on the typical week long production of an “I Love Lucy” episode in 1953, the week the news broke out that Lucille Ball had been registered with the Communist party. The film explores behind the scenes drama, how the news had broken out during that week, the courtship of Lucy and Desi Arnaz, and some of the strife of their marriage. Some historic liberties are taken with the script: Lucy’s pregnancy with Desi Arnaz, Jr. is moved to the same week as the Communist Party story (it was actually a year earlier) and the filmed episode in question was changed to the “Fred and Ethel Fight” episode. I feel like the portrayal of Lucy’s input into the production and insistence on creative decisions was accurate, it matches what I’ve read and seen in interviews and the like from other sources.

I’m going to avoid spoilers. I will say that very early in the movie I had to stop trying to believe that Nicole Kidman was Lucille Ball and just go with the flow that Nicole Kidman was standing in for Lucille Ball. With Javier Bardem as Desi Arnaz it was easy; Javier didn’t look or sound anything like Desi Arnaz so it was easy to accept that it was just an actor playing the part. Nicole Kidman didn’t really look like Lucille Ball but there were some cosmetic decisions made to try to herd her in that direction and I found it distracting. Once I figured that out in my head it was fine. There’s a few slips of Nicole’s native accent in the movie that caught me off guard. There were two other lines that pulled me out of the moment, one of them referring to “the taping of the episode” (it would have been the FILMING of the episode in 1953, as taping an episode wasn’t a thing yet). The other line makes a very 21st century use of the word “literally” that felt out of place in the 1953 setting.

Overall we enjoyed the movie and I feel like it did the Arnazes justice. I recommend a viewing experience. It’s available on Amazon Prime.

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Caturday.

Chris bought Truman a USB chargeable ball that flings itself around the house. From what I’ve seen thus far it has several different motions, including scurry, wiggle, and jump up and down. There are some colorful LED lights to grab Truman’s attention and when I first put it down on the floor and activated the fun he was inquisitive.

The ball made its way into the neighboring laundry room and he followed it there. I don’t think he quite knows what to think about this little toy yet. We’ll give it another try over the weekend and see if it gives him a digital catnip high.

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It Just Works, Part 2.

The saga of the HomePod mini took an interesting turn yesterday. Even though the “Deliver-It” service said they had not received the product from Apple and that only the label had been printed, it was delivered by a person out of the trunk of a Toyota Celica. OK, fair enough. Several hours later I heard from Apple through iMessages, “enjoy your new HomePod mini!”

I looked at the order online and UPS planned on delivering the replacement HomePod mini today. And sure enough, it arrived via UPS this afternoon. Now I have two HomePod minis for the price of one. My credit card wasn’t charged again. This put me in a quandary. Do I return it to the store or arrange for a shipment back to headquarters? I actually wouldn’t mind having a second HomePod mini. I could probably just hang onto it and they’d never be the wiser.

My personal moral compass wouldn’t allow me to do that. I’ve seen too many people screw local businesses in a similar manner of the years and just because Apple is one of the largest corporations in the world doesn’t mean they should receive the same treatment. So I contacted them through the order portal. As suspected I could drop it off at the Apple Store here in Tucson or initiate a return through the online portal. I asked about buying it and the friendly bot on iMessages advised I could call Apple support and discuss it with them.

So I did. After explaining the situation the friendly Apple person on the line looked at the order and said, “Just keep it, you’re all set”.

So now I have two new HomePod minis. This is a welcomed addition to our home, as we’ve been fighting with Alexa a LOT over the past several months.

While I’m talking about Alexa, who thought it was a good idea to have her shoot an ad after every single request?

“Alexa, turn off the ceiling lights”. “Lights off, did you know I can organize your to do list?”

“Alexa, what’s the weather tonight.”. “Here’s the weather…. did you know I can read you a bedtime story?”

One of the reasons I stick with Apple products and pay the premium prices is to avoid ads. I don’t want ads. Ever.

Luckily, these new HomePod minis don’t belch ads at us every five minutes.

Absolutely Anything.

I fell down a YouTube hole, looking at old clips from radio stations and stumbled across a brief video from June 1993 at WRCK Utica-Rome, New York. Of course, this is where I started my decade long radio career as a weekend DJ and then I filled in for folks during the week. I had started interning in late 1992 with nighttime DJ B.B. Good.

Here’s the video; I’m the one wearing the baseball hat in the first few seconds of the video. B.B. is. running the board and we are coming out of the :20 stop set (commercial break), I recognize the placement of the jingle. The jingle is part of a package from JAM Productions, if I remember correctly it’s called Z World, and was originally produced for Z-100 in New York. When a jingle package is produced for a big radio station like Z-100, it’s essentially syndicated and available for other similarly formatted stations, just with re-sings over the original instrumentals. When I first became Program Director at WOWB/WOWZ we purchased a few Z World jingles before moving to a company out of Seattle called Reelworld Productions.

Anyways, here’s the video from 1993. It’s amazing what one can find on the Internet.

It Just Works.

I probably complain about my recent Apple experiences too much. I have a higher expectation of an excellent retail experience when it comes to dealing with Apple; this is the primary reason we pay the premium for Apple products for our technology needs.

I ordered a HomePod mini last weekend. Apple sent it out right on time with a promise of a delivery date of yesterday. Unfortunately, in this part of the country they use this shipping service called “Deliver-It” which is really wonky. The tracking website looks like it was created using Microsoft FrontPage in 1999. The website is never updated with tracking information like FedEx or UPS; the listing usually shows “Label Created” until the order is delivered, if it’s ever delivered.

For the holidays I ordered new AirPods for my husband. They never arrived via Deliver-It. I ended up contacting Apple and explaining the situation to them and they ended up shipping another set of AirPods via UPS Overnight. I don’t know what happened to the original shipment as Deliver-It never updated their page.

So the HomePod mini didn’t arrive as scheduled yesterday. There was no update to the website (I expected this) and no one at Deliver-It answered the phone. I contacted Apple this morning and they sent out another HomePod mini via UPS Express. It’s expected on Friday. I mentioned Deliver-It being a constant failure and they agreed. “We get a lot of complaints about this service”. I wonder why they’re still using it.

The Apple ordering system is weird. They added another HomePod mini to the existing order for $0.00. I then received an email telling me my order was on hold because they couldn’t authorize my payment of $0.00 against my credit card. I called again and was told to ignore the email and the HomePod mini would arrive as promised.

Let’s see what happens.

HAWK.

As an almost Traffic Engineer and full blown road geek, I’m a fan of videos by Road Guy Rob. This week Rob talks about HAWK signals. These are yellow/red signals at pedestrian crosswalks that are activated almost immediately when a pedestrian pushes the button. It flashes yellow as a warning to motorists, then solid yellow, then solid red. After a few seconds it switches to flashing red, so if the pedestrian is no longer on your side of the road, a motorist can continue through the flashing red, which is treated like a stop sign.

I’ve been a fan of HAWK installations since I first read about them a number of years ago. They’re pretty neat and they really help keep pedestrians safe. What I didn’t know is they were invented right here in Tucson.

Road Guy Rob explains it quite well.