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My Twitter Bio Explained

2014 April 10
by Craig

I’ve been on Twitter for almost six years now. A Twitter bio is essentially a permanent tweet on your user profile where you briefly describe yourself. The bio is limited to a length of 160 characters, which is slightly higher than the 140 character limit of regular tweets.

For the vast majority of my Twitter tenure, my bio has remained unchanged.

I don’t remember what I entered for my bio when I first created my account in 2008. I think I used a simple single-word placeholder like “Hello” at the time. Not long after creating my account, I began making the appropriate customizations. I soon settled on a clever bio for myself, which is in fact the same bio that still I use to this day.

I have been asked what my bio is supposed to mean. I shall explain.

My bio reads: “I’m a bluebird on a telegraph line, I hope I’m happy now.”

The line was taken from a song recorded by Elton John in 1973 called “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.” The lyric appears in the following verse:

I wonder if those changes
Have left a scar on you
Like all the burning hoops of fire
That you and I passed through

You’re a bluebird on a telegraph line
I hope you’re happy now
Well if the wind of change comes down your way girl
You’ll make it back somehow

I found the line rather fitting for Twitter. As you know, the Twitter logo is a blue bird. Combine that with the reference to a telegraph line, and it began to make sense. In addition, I had toyed with the idea of joining Twitter for months before actually creating my account, hence the “I hope I’m happy now” element.

Using this for my bio was far more about the above references than anything to do with the mood of the song itself. That said, I have long been a fan of the song, and know the lyrics from memory.

I think my bio is a keeper. I don’t foresee changing it, even after all these years. And on a personal note, I am happy now. Twitter has been a great community that I’m proud to be involved in. Now you know.

Hurl In The Sink

2014 April 9
tags: ,
by Craig

I want to discuss an unpleasant topic – vomiting. I suppose that the subject is a bit nasty compared to the things that I generally write about, but rest assured, it happens to us all from time to time.

People traditionally do the dirty deed crouched on their hands and knees over a toilet. Why is that the standard way of handling this? When you think about it, it’s pretty gross. The thought of having my mouth anywhere near the toilet makes me want to barf, even when I don’t feel sick. I’d rather go outside and do it in the yard before going to the bathroom and getting face-to-face with the commode.

It’s very rare that I feel sick to the point of throwing up. However, one day last month I felt sick after eating at home. The thought of going to the bathroom and staring into the toilet bowl seemed so foul that I decided I wasn’t going to do it.

I took a rational approach and stood over the kitchen sink to deal with the matter. Since the outcome was surely not going to be pure liquid, I used the side with the garbage disposal. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll tell you that it was a complete success. It was a brilliant plan! I don’t want to be crouched over a toilet bowl ever again.

I understand, however, that if you are in the company of other people, you may want to go to the bathroom for privacy. If that isn’t an issue, then the kitchen sink is the way to go. Using the sink, you are able to get through the unpleasant act on your feet, with a sense of dignity. I urge that you consider it the next time you are feeling ill.

Movie Review: The Amityville Horror

2014 March 23
tags: ,
by Craig

I watched the classic 1979 film The Amityville Horror. I watched in part because the Film Sack podcast recorded an episode about the movie last week. I’d wanted to see it anyway and decided that it was the perfect time.

I have listened to the Film Sack review about this movie before I sat down to write my own review. I regret doing that because it has altered my opinion of the movie. The panel on the show took pleasure in mocking it. I have to somewhat disagree with their overall opinions.

I enjoyed The Amityville Horror. I’ve seen countless movies of the haunted house genre before watching this movie. This film was before my time and I didn’t see it in its day. Despite having seen better movies in this genre in later years, I think it was really good for it’s time. It was fun to watch and it truly spooked me in parts.

I didn’t know a thing about this movie before I started watching it. I didn’t know that Margot Kidder played the role of the wife. My first reaction was a bit of disappointment, but I must say that she did a fine job and I found her to be surprisingly likable throughout the movie. James Brolin, playing the role of the husband, was a good actor as well. He wasn’t all that likable, but his character wasn’t supposed to be.

The acting was really good all around in this movie. I’d like to particularly mention the babysitter with the headgear that got locked in the bedroom closet. She really sold me on her fear. She really did an outstanding job. Whoever that girl was, I hope she went on to star in more movies.

I was not thrilled by the casting of the priests. The lead priest, played by Rod Steiger, was great. He fit the part and acted very well. The others I had a problem with. His partner, played by Don Stroud, was in a lot of TV shows in the 70s. He has played a lot of bad guys, if I recall. He wasn’t the right person to play a priest. He looked like more of a mob guy to me.

The other two priests who were higher up in the church were not cast right at all. Murray Hamilton was one of them. He seems like more of a TV actor than a movie actor, in my opinion. I can’t take him seriously as an authority figure. He looks like a mechanic. John Larch, who I immediately recognized as the prosecuting attorney in Airplane 2, played the role of his partner. I understand that Airplane had not been filmed at the time that The Amityville Horror was made, but seeing that guy in the middle of a scene that was supposed to be serious and dramatic did not work for me. I realize that I am not being fair by making that comparison.

As far as the overall plot is concerned, the movie doesn’t really go anywhere. It is two hours long and it spent all of that time building intensity that ultimately went nowhere. The ending was abrupt. The family drove away from the house in the final scene and the credits rolled. There was no payoff from all of the drama they spent building throughout the movie. I found that to be a bit disappointing. They should have written a more exciting ending and shortened the movie by 15 minutes or more.

I recorded some audio notes while I watched this to compare my thoughts to those on the Film Sick podcast. I’m tempted to share the audio files of notes that I made, but I’ll pass on that for now. Below, I’ll mention a few things that stood out for me.

The scene where the husband sat in a chair next to a dark window was equally predictable and exaggerated. I knew something was going to happen in the window, and sure enough, a black cat flies onto the windowsill out of nowhere with a ridiculously loud shriek. That was horror movie 101. I rolled my eyes at that tired old stunt. I would imagine that was a tired idea even in 1979.

The scene where the nun drives away from the house and stops her car to throw up wasn’t meant to be funny, but I laughed out loud. The sound effect of her barfing was hilariously violent and overdubbed. I paused the movie I was laughing so hard. Surely that was not the intention of the filmmakers.

When the wife comes home from the grocery store to find her madman husband furiously chopping wood in the yard, she asked him to help her carry in a car full of groceries. Together they carry in all of two paper bags with groceries in them. That was all she bought? For a house of five people? I kept wondering where the rest of the groceries were that she needed so much help with.

The scene where the little boys hand gets slammed in the window was painful to watch. They did a good job with that scene. I was under the impression that the kid had to have broken all of his fingers in that moment, but he seemed perfectly fine for the rest of the movie. Go figure.

Who was the weird man who showed up at the front door holding a six-pack of beer? He said he was the neighbor, but he appeared out of nowhere and was never seen again. I don’t understand what that scene was supposed to be about. It never came back around again and it was never explained what he was doing there.

The house was always very dark inside, particularly near the bottom of the stairs. There is a lit chandelier there, but it must have had 1-watt bulbs in it because there was barely enough light for the family to find their way around the house. The scenes shot from the outside of the house made it look completely lit from the inside, but all of the scenes in the house were noticeably dim. I wanted to shout at the screen, “You live in a haunted house! Turn some lights on!”

The special effects were admittedly pretty bad. Thankfully, they made very little use of special effects in the movie. The pig-looking demon with the glowing eyes in the upstairs window looked really bad. They should have taken a different approach in getting that across. That was just bad.

I know that I’ve listed a lot of things wrong with this movie, but overall, I enjoyed watching it. It was entertaining. It’s supposedly based on a true story, but I find it all a bit hard to believe in the real world. That aside, the movie was pretty intense and enjoyable for horror fans. I rated it 4 out of 5 stars on Netflix.

There are several sequels and reboots of this franchise but I am not in a hurry to watch any of them.

The Amityville Horror poster (1979)

Searching For 60 Days From Today

2014 March 21
tags:
by Craig

I performed a Google search for the phrase: “What is 60 days from today?” I was hoping to see the date calculated and displayed at the top of the search results page, as is the case with math problems and measurement conversions. I didn’t see that.

What I got was some links to various unit converter sites, and a mere four results down, this gem from Ask.com: “60 days from a certain day will depend on when exactly that day is. A calendar will come in handy.” Thanks for that completely useless information.

I Don’t Need An App For That

2014 March 20
tags: ,
by Craig

There is a temptation to load your phone up with as many apps as possible, installing one for everything you think you may ever need. I’ve been as guilty of this as anyone. At one point I had 150 apps on my iPhone.

I began to realize over time that I really didn’t need a lot of those apps. There were some that I hadn’t used in over a year.

When I upgraded to the iPhone 5, instead of restoring my previous state, I decided to completely start over and only add the apps that I really used. I’m glad that I made that decision at the time. It was like cleaning house. That was about a year and a half ago, and since that time, my app count has inevitably crept back up again.

I’ve now reached a point where I’ve decided that it’s time to again get rid of apps that I don’t need. I went in and deleted scores apps I hadn’t been using. I didn’t stop there, though. I even deleted apps for services that I actually use. The reason I did that is because there are a lot of services that have excellent mobile websites that do the same job that the custom app does. I’ll give you some examples.

Bitly. I use Bitly every now and then to shorten long URLs. Bitly has an iOS app but I’ve actually never downloaded it. Browsing bitly.com in mobile Safari or Chrome is perfectly sufficient. It retains my login and I am able to perform every task I need from their website. No app necessary!

Wikipedia is another good example. I had the app installed on my phone for years and barely ever used it. I would always do a Google search on what I wanted to know about and I came to realize that I always browsed Wikipedia using only the web browser. Their mobile website does everything that the dedicated app does. It even looks the same.

Shopping apps are another example. I’ve had the Target app on my phone for years but I can only recall having used it one time. Before I recently deleted the app, I browsed over to target.com in Safari, and as you would expect, they have a very clean mobile website that lets me search and shop for anything I am looking for. Again, no need for the app, or others like it.

I could go on and on. Mobile banking, news sites, and more. All of them have full-functioning websites that allow you to do everything you can do from the app. As a general rule, if the service in question merely delivers information, you’re probably fine just using their website to obtain it.

I created a bookmarks folder on my iPhone for services like the ones I’ve listed above that have perfectly useful mobile sites. To save a bookmark as an icon on iOS, simply tap “add to home screen” in Safari. The icon added usually looks indistinguishable from the native app.

If you have apps on your phone that you don’t use very often, it’s worth it to browse the mobile website for that service and see how close the experience can be to using a native app. You may be surprised. If you’re using push notifications, however, you need to continue using an app for such interactivity. For example, if you use eBay and rely on the app for notifications about items and auctions, you’ll want to keep that app installed.

Go forth and do some digital spring cleaning. It can be very liberating.

Illuminated Jetbib Feeding System

2014 March 12
by Craig

The Illuminated Jetbib Feeding System is a brilliant baby bib that hit the market in 2010. From what I can deduce, it was first sold via Thinkgeek.com. This is an oldie but goodie. I had tweeted about this two years ago. I was reminded about it this week, which is why I’m writing about it now.

As you can see from the picture below, it is a baby bib that features a runway with blinking LED landing lights and an airplane with a detachable spoon on the front. It’s the perfect companion to any parent who loves to things like, “Here comes the airplane in the hangar!” The airplane has blinking lights on the wings, and comes with three detachable spoons.

I just love it! I enjoy the gag about the airplane coming into the hangar, even though I don’t have any kids. I’ve always thought it was a funny line to say to someone who doesn’t want to taste what you’re asking them to eat. If I did have a baby, you can bet that I’d get one of these bibs. It is simply too awesome not to! Heck, I’d be happy just to have the airplane and spoon.

The bib cannot be laundered since it is battery powered. That is a convenience issue, but this a novelty item, so it’s not as though you would be using it every day. The cleaning limitations are mentioned in a short product video that I found on YouTube.

Unfortunately, it looks as though the Jetbib has been discontinued, but not necessarily yet out of stock. From what I found find at the time of this writing in March 2014, a few are still available from uncommongoods.com. Get one now before the last one flies off the shelf.

Jetbib