What transpired, today, with me and TV…UPDATED

Being a retired and cranky old geek, TV tends to be a significant but smallish portion of my life. I’ve been with DirecTV as source since about the 3rd month of their retail existence back in 1994 – done the occasional bit of beta-testing – and have always appreciated easy access to movies and sports. The latter, in recent years, consumed with proper football, mostly the Premier League in England.

So, number 1 on my hit parade was the launch of D12, last night. I posted a neat short video the other day; but, last night was the big event with final separation of the broadcast satellite happening at 2:32:00 AM MST, this morning.

Number 2 on my hit parade was a service call from the sole remaining TV repair service in Santa Fe County – the nearest in 50 miles. Coca TV is near and dear to me – not because I’ve ever needed much work from them; but, Mr. Coca retired around the same time I did. And I did some work on his home when we both were working. Small world syndrome.

Anyway, Emilio cranked out dynamite service – arrived with the right tools and knowledge to change out capacitors on the power supply to my Samsung LCD-HDTV. A problem happening country-wide which Samsung has yet to acknowledge. Which is why [a] I will join whatever class action suit arises to recoup the cost of this service and [b] my next TV set – when I move to something LED backlit – will be LG and not Samsung.

Number 3 on my TV hit parade? Emilio’s new truck.

He rolled up the driveway in a shiny white Ford Transit Connect. Only 2000 miles on it, so far. Virtually all city driving and he’s averaging 24mpg. He loves it and I’m impressed. Beaucoup room inside – enough cubic space to compensate, frankly, for the bed of my pickup truck if I ever traded in on one. But, not until they bring them over with the small turbo-diesel.

UPDATE: The Class Action suit against Samsung for cheaping out on capacitors for some of their LCD TV’s has begun.

The boy who paints like an old master

Kieron Williamson kneels on the wooden bench in his small kitchen, takes a pastel from the box by his side and rubs it on to a piece of paper.

“Have you got a picture in your head of what you’re going to do?” asks his mother, Michelle.

“Yep,” Kieron nods. “A snow scene.”

Because it is winter at the moment, I ask.


Do you know how you want it to come out?


And does it come out how you want it to?

“Sometimes it does.”

Like many great artists, small boys are not often renowned for their loquaciousness. While Kieron Williamson is a very normal seven-year-old who uses his words sparingly, what slowly emerges on the small rectangle of paper in his kitchen is extraordinarily eloquent.

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Couple stranded for 3 days by GPS that doesn’t grok snow

Whether travelling against traffic on a one way-way street or plunging blindly into a river, there have been countless stories of in-car GPS systems leading overly trusting drivers astray. However, a Nevada couple may have been left with some serious GPS trust issues this week after finding themselves stranded for three days in the snowy climes of Oregon.

Faithfully following the prompts provided by their navigational system, John Rhoads (65) and Starry Bush-Rhoads (67) had their long journey home cut short after their SUV became stuck in snow when directions took them down an extremely remote forest road.

Miles from any form of immediate assistance in an inhospitable region – and unable to get a clear signal from their GPS-enabled phone in order to relay coordinates to a 911 dispatcher – the couple duly hunkered down in their vehicle until the weather improved.

Almost three days later, atmospheric conditions in the region – near Silver Lake, Oregon – relented sufficiently for the mobile phone handset system to establish a weak but clear link and communicate their position to emergency services.

Commenting on the unfortunate situation suffered by the Rhoads, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said the couple had been fairly lucky insofar as they were equipped with plenty of provisions, water and warm clothing to see them through the ordeal.

That last sentence is the important one. Relying on tech to save your buns works most of the time; but – be prepared to take care of things on your own, as well.

Israel arrests nuclear whistleblower Vanunu – again!

Life as a free man in Israel
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

Israeli police said on Tuesday they had arrested nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu for violating a ban on contact with foreigners.

His lawyer said he was detained over a romance…”Vanunu was arrested (for) a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen,” attorney Avigdor Feldman told reporters…

Vanunu was jailed as a traitor in 1986 and served an 18-year sentence after discussing his work as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor with a British newspaper, an interview that led experts to conclude the facility had produced fissile material for as many as 200 atomic warheads.

Over all those years, how much breast-beating and demand for sanctions have you witnessed from “peaceloving” Western governments directed against Israel for building nuclear weapons? Zilch!

After his release from jail in 2004, Israeli defense authorities barred Vanunu from traveling abroad or speaking with foreigners, alleging he has more details on the Dimona atomic reactor to divulge…

In court on Tuesday, Vanunu — who refuses in protest against Israel to speak Hebrew publicly — addressed reporters in English:

This Jewish state has 200 atomic … hydrogen bombs, atomic weapons, neutron bombs,” he said.

Even Reuters takes the time to whimper about Vanunu’s religious beliefs as if that alters the fact of Israel’s atomic imperialism.

It is the height of hypocrisy to condemn Pakistan or India for doing what gets unmitigated approval when done by Israel. Only full-blown sophistry rails about Iran possibly developing a nuclear capacity of any kind – when the largest hoard of nuclear weapons in the region is guarded in Israel.

Blue moon to light the sky this New Year’s Eve

If you have anything ridiculously ambitious or wondrously farfetched you’d like to achieve in life, then we’d strongly suggest aiming to achieve such goals this coming New Year’s Eve – a date on the calendar expected to be marked by a distinct ‘blue moon’.

Beyond the obvious ‘once in a lifetime’ adage, stargazing astronomers have revealed that 2010 will be ushered in alongside a genuine blue moon, which, while not nearly as rare as you may think (usually about once every 30 months), will be the first to illuminate the night sky on New Year’s Eve since 1990.

According to astronomer David Reneke of Australasian Science magazine, the next New Year’s Eve blue moon isn’t likely to happen until 2028.

To historians enjoying astronomy, the last century cast a “blue moon” into existence whenever there were two full moons in a single month.

For me, as I have through the happiest years of my life – I celebrate my wife’s birthday every New Year’s Eve.

Republican version of the Class Struggle holds back TSA

Just another Republican KKKlown

In the aftermath of an attempt to blow up an airliner Democrats charge a top U.S. security post remains vacant because of a Republican senator’s opposition.

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration due to concern over the prospect that TSA employees might unionize, McClatchy Newspapers reported. The nominee, Erroll Southers, is a former FBI special agent and assistant chief for homeland security and intelligence at Los Angeles World Airports Police Department.

His nomination has been approved by two U.S. Senate committees and the TSA is being led by an acting administrator pending a vote in the full Senate.

Marshall McClain, the president of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association, said the Senate should have already confirmed the appointment by now.

“Friday’s terrorist attack on U.S. aviation makes it all the more imperative that there be no further delays in filling this crucial position,” he said.

DeMint said he was holding up the nomination until he could get clarification on Southers’ position on unionization of TSA workers, McClatchy reported. In a statement, DeMint called the Christmas Day attack “a perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA.”

What century do some of these Republicans live in? The right to collective bargaining has been established for decades – yet this backwards thug uses the arcane procedures of our Congress to delay the appointment of a police officer to satisfy his fear of democracy.

Just one more moment in the history of the United States where and when I wish voters were informed, bright and brave.

Korchnoi-Spassky in Elista, 2009: Final score 4-4

A little post-mortem analysis.

Final Score: Korchnoi 4 – Spassky 4

The “Battle of the Giants” between tenth World Champion Boris Spassky, 72, and multiple World Championship challenger Viktor Korchnoi, 78 began with the latter pressing. But in the second half of the match it was Spassky who called the shots.

You can find the game scores here: All eight games in PGN format

You can read my previous comments on the match here:
A chess match only an old fart could love