Sunday 12 July 2020
I finally decided to throw in the towel on my current keyboard. I've never liked it. It's a ergonomic Microsoft Sculpt. While the layout is fine and the sensation of typing is pleasant enough (very reminiscent of a quality laptop keyboard), I can no longer tolerate the latency of the wireless connection. It often takes two presses of a key before it realizes I am typing, which can make both blogging and coding really, really frustrating.
Finally fed up, I decided to replace it with another ergonomic keyboard. I've been using the non-traditional keyboards for over a decade and a half, and I would rather not go back to a standard keyboard if possible. However, it was only after I decided on and ordered a wired Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard LXM-00001 that I realized I've never actually been fully satisfied with a Microsoft brand keyboard.
My previous keyboard was the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It was a monster. I mean the thing was huge. It had so many media and macro buttons that I never used plus a built-in scroll bar. All those superfluous buttons only got in the way. (I'm not especially dexterous. I'm not even not-especially dexterous. Bulls in china shops have better fine motor control than I do.) The 4000 and I never really got along, and the bulky size is what prompted me to by the slimmer Sculpt. At least it was wired.
Prior to the 4000 was the Microsoft Comfort Curve 3000. (Why isn't the model I just ordered a 6000? I guess Microsoft was wary of eventually creating a 9000, a model number best avoided unless you're a huge fan of robicide and daisies.) Unlike the 4000, the 3000 and I got along well enough for a while. I used it for about 4 years, and wore many of the letters off. However, the tactile experience was never great — the keys always felt cheap and loose — and I think it was a lack of funds more than anything else that kept the two of us together for so long.
So why after years of disappointment with Microsoft keyboards did I order another instead of choosing a different brand? I can't answer that question. My first guess would be brain damage. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me four times in a row... maybe it's time for the artificial intelligence to make the decisions for me.
(Footnote: I've had the new keyboard for 24 hours now, and so far so good. Firm buttons and quiet. I'm actually quite pleased with it. Maybe this is why I keep choosing Microsoft: they come out of the box so nice. I'm sure everything will be fine — as long as they don't push any updates to it.)
Friday 10 July 2020
Wednesday 8 July 2020
I started June on a terrific pace of movies, but then I got sidetracked by six seasons of Downton Abbey. (So good. Wouldn't it be nice if your biggest problem in life was making sure you were drinking from the correct glass at dinner?)
102. (1756.) Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary (2019)
When I told my father I watched this film about the making and legacy of another film, he said "Documentaries don't count as movies!" I think he's wrong. Like other feature films, the best documentaries tell complete stories using the language of cinema. The stories in documentaries just happen to be real. If you like GalaxyQuest or sci-fi fandom in general, I think you'll enjoy this.
103. (1757.) Pokemon Detective Pikachu (2019)
This is what Dad and I watched together instead. I'm not going to call it great cinema, but for a movie aimed at kids, it's delightfully self-aware of what what it is and how it came to be. The old man and I enjoyed ourselves.
104. (1758.) Flower Shop Mystery: Snipped in the Bud (2016)
Mom had read this book and revealed the whodunnit aspect as soon as the killer made his first appearance. When you know where these Hallmark mysteries are going, the inevitable romantic subplot has to carry so much more weight than they can stand. I'm sorry, Brooke Shields, but I'm just not buying you as a flighty former lawyer-turned-flowershop girl dating the former cop-turned-bartender next door.
105. (1759.) Chef (2014)
I'm sure every movie critic has already compared this film to food, so I'll just say... it's okay. Jon Favreau wrote and directed the thin story of a man rediscovering his roots through food, so it must have meant a lot to him even if that deeper meaning isn't reflected in the finished product. (The highlights are the cameos by other actors Favreau has worked with in other projects. In particular, Downey Jr. steals his only scene.)
The first half of the film observes the downfall of the protagonist chef and is utterly devoid of delicious soda pop. But when things start to turn around and everyone is having a good time...
Things Go Better With Coke!
106. (1760.) Rambo: Last Blood (2019)
Better John J. Rambo should have been killed by a hail of police gunfire in Hope, Washington, in First Blood than live to make this gory and pointless piece of murder-porn.
More to come.
Monday 6 July 2020
It's election season, and the television is flooded with campaign ads.
I have repeatedly seen an advertisement for Kelley Loeffler's reelection campaign for her U.S. Senate seat in which a young black man extols her virtues not as an embarrassingly rich owner of a sports franchise and a stock exchange but as someone sympathetic to those less fortunate than her. Yet her supporter mispronounces her name throughout the whole commercial. (He says "loff-ler", yet she appears at the end of the commercial pronouncing her own name "leff-ler," almost like she is passive-aggressively correcting him after the fact.) Why would the Loeffler campaign air that? Could they not find a single person who could praise her who actually knew who she was?
Another advertisement for current president Donald Trump's reelection campaign claims that if former vice president Joe Biden wins the election, the United States will go to shit. What condition are we in now? Uncontrolled pandemic, record unemployment, race riots, oh, my! If this shit show is the current administration's idea of greatness, I'll take anyone else, please.
I suppose it's some small comfort that Marjorie Greene isn't adverting over the air in the Metro Atlanta market in her run for the state House of Representatives. Greene has become infamous as a candidate so openly racist that state Republicans have widely disavowed her, which takes some doing considering that the current Republican governor ran on a platform of successfully befouling state citizens' ability to vote. Even Facebook has said Greene has gone too far in her most recent gun-toting ads. When you're too far afield for Facebook, it's time to stop auditioning for a government seat and start looking into some professional mental help.
That said, there's nothing new to watch between those campaign commercials anyway, so maybe I should just leave my television off until December. Being too aware of who's making the decisions that impact my life is bad for my own mental health.
Saturday 4 July 2020
from Justice League of America #113 (1974)
Thing 1: The Freedom Train was a real thing designed to unite America against the dawning Cold War. Ironically, the train was forced to bypass several cities because they refused to allow black and white people on the train at the same time. (In this comic, the train will be hijacked by the villainous Wizard, who only wants it to prove to his Injustice League pals that he's good at stealing trains.)
Thing 2: That's some weird perspective in the second panel. John Adams was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Thomas Jefferson was 6' 2". Adams must have been standing on his soap box.
Thing 3: It's funny to think that the self-righteous John Adams is just being a dick, but the "improvement" he's talking about is the phrase "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," which was added after that first comma as one of many revisions the Continental Congress made to the declaration draft that Thomas Jefferson unveiled on June 28, 1776.
The daily minutes of the first Continental Congress for June 28-July 4 do not indicate who was responsible for adding the phrase. Popular opinion points to New Jersey delegate John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon was at the time the president of Princeton, and just before joining the Congress, he made a big splash with a sermon titled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men." The movie 1776 gives him credit, which is good enough for me.
For the record, since this seems to be that kind of year, Witherspoon owned slaves. So did both good ol' Tom Jefferson (who often took his to bed) and, believe it or not, Benjamin Franklin (who did eventually change his mind and argue for universal emancipation). Of the four Founding Fathers mentioned in this post, the only one who never owned slaves was the self-righteous dick, John Adams. Give 'em hell, Johnny!
Thursday 2 July 2020