Friday, March 16, 2007

Peggy Lee got nothin' on me

Sorry for blog silence these two days. I meant to keep Back With Interest updated with a welter of fascinating yarns during the voting period for MKE blog of the week. But a fever and a cough have all but felled me.

Meantime, read my Daily Page post about the opening of the west side Savers thrift store.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

[Insert lightbulb joke here]

There are proposals in Madison and elsewhere to replace traditional incandescent lightbulbs with compact fluorescent ones, which last longer and use less energy. That's all well and good, I suppose, but if any of these mandated bulbs are to be used outside, policy makers should know that the new fluorescents may not be suited to the brutal winters of the upper Midwest.

When Ereck and I attended a home-buying workshop the county sponsored last summer, we received swag bags that contained, among other things, a great many compact fluorescent lightbulbs made by the manufacturer Link USA. We have used them with generally good results, except on the front porch: During periods of bitter cold this winter, the bulb we installed in the porch-light fixture didn't work. But it perked right back up during mild times, mild being a relative term when it comes to Wisconsin winters. I do notice that the box says "Minimum starting temperature: -18°C," whatever that means.

Shouldn't a lightbulb just work? Let the lightbulb buyer beware.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Thanks but no thanks for the memory

Regular readers know I'm a gadget freak. If it's small and it takes batteries, I like it. I'm talking about cell phones, digital cameras, tiny computers, MP3 players and so on, so stop giggling.

But gadget freakdom has its perils. Gadgets are easy to lose and easy to forget. From a distance they all look more or less the same. And although it's easy to carry any single gadget, they start to get bulky en masse: As a reporter I sometimes indeed walk around with a phone, a camera, a digital recorder and a computer, which is cumbersome, as you can imagine. But somehow I manage.

What's hard to manage, though, is the fact that each of these devices takes a different kind of memory. Computer memory has gotten wonderfully cheap in recent years, and generally it's easy to increase the capacity of a device simply by sticking in a new card.

But the cards come in all different shapes and sizes and prices, and there is no predicting which device takes which kind of memory. Some cards come with adapters that fit otherwise incompatible gadgets, which is nice. But an adapter is really just another tiny, valuable thing that is easy to lose.

Pictured here is a random sampling of cards belonging to yours truly: SD, Mini SD, Mini SD adapater, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Memory Stick adapter, CompactFlash and, for good measure, a thumb drive. Not pictured: an XD card. I learned about that kind the other day when I tried to put an SD card into a colleague's camera. The camera took XD memory. The SD card wouldn't fit.

Is all this clear to you? Maybe you can explain it to me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Challenging stage

One thing I forgot to mention in my Daily Page report from the historical museum's exhibit of classic video games: There is a high-score contest, and the best player at each game wins a T-shirt. Now, I don't know if you know this about me or not, but I am astonishingly good at Galaga. The convenience store near my high school had a Galaga machine, 20 years ago, and I spent many hours there blasting away. And while I don't remember much else from high school, I did retain the Galaga chops.

So good am I at Galaga, in fact, that one night at a gig a few years ago my musical partner Matthew proposed that the bar manager Joe and I play a game of Galaga for our night's fee, double or nothing. I saw that Joe was seriously considering this, but I realized that not much good would come of the match, regardless of the outcome. (Of course, I would have won.) So I called it off.

Now, though, it appears that my Galaga prowess could earn me a T-shirt, at least. So when I get a spare couple of hours this week, it will be time to play my old game.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The master

When I blogged about favorite love songs the other day, I forgot a very important one.

Barry White - "You're the First, the Last, My Everything"