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Heck, Is That a Phone or Camera?

I have burned through a few phones in recent months trying to find the right phone that was smart enough for my portable needs. Yesterday, I hit pay dirt.

A few months back I picked up the HP iPAQ h6315 Pocket PC PDA phone, which I liked for lots of reasons. But I found I just didn’t get enough use out of all its informational capabilities; maybe if I commuted daily or traveled every week. A good friend bought that device, so I cut some of my losses. 

A Summer Story

A cold November day is good time to reminisce about summer past—and to point out that behind every picture is a good story. So, what’s with my daughter and the bird?

On July 6 my wife and I picked up a Styrofoam giant glider plane at the local toy store, which my daughter and I took it out for an evening fly across the back yard. But my daughter’s throw put the plane across the fence and in the neighbor’s lot behind ours. So she and I had to walk round the block. Along the way, as we sheepishly shortcut past some condos, we caught a flash of feathers before a load SMACK of birdie hitting a window. 

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The SpongeBob Movie

I took my 10 year-old and her friend to see the “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” the other night. My daughter didn’t think much of the cartoon feature, nor did I. Disappointing more, because we’re both big SpongeBob fans, and we saw the movie with a big crowd of kids quick to laugh. Sigh.

The problem: Timing. What’s the saying about comedy and timing being everything? SpongeBob episodes have good timing, and they have to. Episodes can’t be much more than 10 or 12 minutes long. Pace is fast moving and the laughs going rat-tat-tat. For 90 minutes there has to be a script capable of sustaining nine times the typical SpongeBob segment. Instead, the movie felt like one episode stretched and stretched and stretched. 

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Small Superman in ‘Smallville’

The school year opened with my booting our TV and accompanying entertainment center—unaffectionally called “the shrine”—from the living room. In its place, there is a Windows XP Media Center 2005 PC. The dual TV tuner offers more recording capability than TiVo, which I put to good use. The timing meant I could start recording “Smallville,” which, for the new TV season, started running from episode one on the ABC Family channel.

Before I diss “Smallville,” I should say that I generally really like the show. It’s not exceptional TV the way, say, “Alias” or “Sopranos” might be. But “Smallville” moves along, even if watching requires some serious reality suspension. 

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The Raw and the Raw

Oh the stinging raw emotions rumple through offices along the Northeast and West Coast. The Kerry crowd is none too happy about Tuesday’s election results. I talk to lots of really angry people, during the course of a work day. My advice: Drive the speed limit (to avoid road rage), stay out bars (to avoid a table aside the head), and read a trashy novel (to separate from all the post-election anxiety).

Me, I’m ambivalent. I live in the metro-D.C. area and just don’t take politics too seriously. Besides, I didn’t much like either candidate. I’m also pretty emotionless about the election. In the end, I just wanted a winner, whichever candidate that turned out to be. 

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Why Offensive ‘Team America’ Rocks

Without question, movie “Team America: World Police” is one of the most offensive pieces of filmmaking to be released in a couple of decades—and what a delightful offense, too. The movie had me crying to tears within the first 30 seconds, and laughing and crying and laughing for the next hour and a half. I’m waiting for the news story that some poor movie goer either laughed or was offended to death. Either is likely.

I could see the aftermath audience reaction as the lights lifted in the theatre. A group of young black men whopped, “America, Fuck Yeah!”; from the movie’s theme song. About 10 rows behind them, several older, black and white couples sat immobile. Stunned I think, because they were so offended by the movie’s philosophical conclusion. 

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If It Looks Like Bias, Walks Like Bias, Is It Bias?

Oh PLEASE! What is the New York Times doing? This morning, I clicked on a story by reporter Todd Purdum headlined, “Best Defense: More Offense”; I had been reading different stories around the Web about the second presidential debate. Before I could get to the story, a banner ad touting John Kerry’s success in the debate filled a separate page; the Democratic National Committee had paid for the ad.

Now as a former journalist, I do know something about boundaries between editorial and advertising content. In print, placement of an ad next to a related news story is a big no-no. Reputable newspapers or magazines would never place, say, an ad about Microsoft Windows in the same spread—or two-page layout—as a positive review of the product. In politics, this rule is typically more strictly followed in the United States. In broadcast journalism, the now defunct “Fairness Doctrine” helped ensure political fair play. 

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My First Canon EOS 20D Tests

I am working with my new Canon EOS 20D digital SLR, which I bought after a buddy snatched up my Nikon D70 for his dad. I highly recommend the camera to anyone who can afford it and either takes pictures professionally or, like me, is moving into serious amateur photography. Warning: This camera could easily be more than what most people need.

For me, the 20D is a rude indictment about how ill-prepared I am to move to digital SLRs. My problem isn’t so much photo basics but understanding lenses, their idiosyncrasies, and what might be right for this camera and my shooting needs.