Archive for the “Madness” Category

It’s pretty rare to see a Hells Angel sporting their patch, nevermind several of them. I would suspect that doing so causes too much attention from fuck-nuts like me taking a photo while driving down the freeway at 80 mph.

Remember the good ol’ days of intimidation? Remember the outlaw biker gangs? Remember what Hunter S. Thompson wrote about? Those are dead days, my friend. I would suspect that they are going to vote to change their gang name to Heck’s Angels. I mean seriously, is that last guy wearing khakis, a button down shirt, and riding a BMW!? Click the image to see for yourself. These times they are a changin’.

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I followed them to Bloomingdale’s where they were all getting fitted for skinny jeans. So much for biker gangs…

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So you may have read my last post about the email from Netflix and exactly how absurd the content struck me. Well, folks, Netflix has reacted to their inevitable downward spiral with the classic I was just kidding plea! Here’s how it plays out, at least in my head:

Netflix to cute girl: Hi, I like you, do you want to go out with me?
Cute girl to Netflix: Ew, gross, no way!
Netflix to cute girl: Ha, I was just kidding anyway.

I need to play the lottery sometime. I find it impossible to live in this world.

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I’m sure many of you received the email from co-founder and CEO of Netflix this morning. I read it sitting on my back porch before leaving for work this morning. My first impression on reading it was some kind of gratitude, but a gratitude that I couldn’t really identify. Upon further thought, the email’s ridiculousness started to emerge. Let’s go through it together.

Dear David,
I messed up. I owe you an explanation.

Ok, I was previously unaware that you messed up. Strange way to open. I’m listening.

It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.

I didn’t give much thought about the separation between DVDs and streaming video by Netflix, nor the price changes, but now that you mention it, doubling the price of service while eliminating services rendered does seem pretty absurd. Are you gonna give me a refund or incentive for stick with you?

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

Guess I shouldn’t hold my breath for that refund. So to reiterate, you want to compare yourselves to AOL dialup and Borders, two failed businesses. Odd approach. Are you saying Netflix is going to follow in their footsteps?

So here is what we are doing and why.

Ok, is this an apology? A failed mission statement? An backwards advertisement?

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

Everyone likes movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service. So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

So your reasoning for doubling the price of the service you provide is because you are making two companies out of one? I’m not sure why I’m paying for you to do this.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster? Really? Kudos to the marketing genius that came up with that one.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.

So you are making the process of watching and renting movies more complicated and increasing the price of the service. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.

You’ve already doubled the price while complicating the process. So now you expect me to be thankful that you’re done raising the price for now?

For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.

Put the DVD in a mud-covered raccoon pelt for all I care. My guess is your customers don’t see a envelope as a “source of joy” no matter what lovely color.

I want to acknowledge and thank you for sticking with us, and to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.

Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.

Respectfully yours,

-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix

Here’s what I walk away from this email.

One, I feel like Netflix is taking me for a ride. They/he would have been better off leaving well enough alone. I may be walking away from Netflix with self-righteous justification after this email.

Two, Netflix or Qwikster or whatever is not going to see the success that they generated by making these business decisions. Their streaming selection is inadequate at best when compared with a service like Hulu. The one advantage is the fact that they had it integrated with sending what they could not stream. So by dividing themselves, they are in turn hurting their marketability.

Three, The door is wide open for a new company to sweep in and take a hundred thousand Netflix customers in the first 2 weeks.

I can’t imagine that many of you have read this entire post, but if you have, I’d like to hear what you make of this.

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My nickname was Crocodile Dave last weekend while we were in the Mojave Desert. I bought a new hat for the trip and enjoyed sporting it every second of the day. It kept my neck nice and cool and prevented me from getting sun burnt while enduring the sun of the high desert. Here is vanity at disgusting levels…

 

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I made it back home from the Mojave Desert and feel a bit out of place. I’m slowly coming back, but am definitely affected in a way I haven’t been before by spending about a day in the ungoverned land of the Mojave. It’s hard to explain. So here’s the story. Take from it what you will.

I’m planning a bachelor party. I want to make it a good one. I make suggestions to get a party bus to places like San Diego, Los Angeles, even Las Vegas. Besides keeping everyone off the road, the idea is to make the travel part of the adventure. These ideas are nixed in favor of doing something in nature instead. Looks like we’re going camping.

One of the attendees has been to the Mojave on numerous occasions, and recommends going to an ungoverned section of the desert to have the freedom to do what we please and not be bothered with other people or any kind of law enforcement or rangers. I had no idea that these places existed, so with a skeptical tone I asked a few questions:

Q. Where is this part of the Mojave?
A. Do you see that section to the left of the Mojave National Preserve?  Yeah, smack dab in the middle of that.  It’ll be hot as fuck, no one there but us.

Q.How remote is it?
A. It’s remote.  As in, you can take machine guns out there and shoot them all day and all night remote.

Q. Are fires welcome?
A. Fire?  Bring an oil tanker if you want.  But it’s remote.

Sounds at least interesting, doesn’t it? Yeah, we were all hooked from that point forward. The only issue that we could foresee was how we were going to get there. I thought that renting an RV would provide the most fun way to travel, but we weren’t sure it could make the trip. The fella that had been there before had this to say, “If you could get an RV there – if – it would come back with enough damage that you’d have to make an insurance claim. More likely it would either get stuck and require a very expensive tow, or roll down into a ravine.” What the hell, I’m willing to give it a go. So I rented an RV.

I picked everyone up on Saturday morning. I packed most of the supplies that we would need. I packed a portable but capable stereo, chairs, water, meat, snacks, beer, liquor, and a 100 watt Fender amp & Korg Monotribe for good measure. You never do know when you want to make music loud enough to race over a dry lake bed and ricochet off a mountainside back at you. We stopped at a grocery store before hitting the road and ended up leaving with 120 beers, 4 pounds of bacon, 60+ gallons of water, 2 tri-tip steaks, and 30 brats. You’d think we were preparing for either the apocalypse, getting stranded for a week, or both.

We met up with another fellow and his son that were driving up separately in their pickup truck at about 10am. Although they very well could have fit their stuff and themselves in the RV, having a redundant set of wheels was probably good insurance for the just-in-case. We set out for the desert at that time.

The fellas were drinking on the way out for the entire way out. They were setting themselves up for dehydration, but somehow avoided it once we got there. I was driving the RV, which was kind of like wrestling with a drunken dwarf for a good 4 and a half hours. Sometimes it wiggle around on it’s own, but for the most part, I was able to muscle it around. There were some kung fu guys in the party, and they enjoyed my analogy that driving the RV was a lot like playing push-hands for 4.5 hours straight. I guess that’s not an analogy, it’s a simile.

We drove to Ludlow, CA, which is not really in the Mojave. It’s near the Mojave. But we weren’t really going to the Mojave National Preserve, we were going to the Mojave BLM. More specifically the Broadwell Dry Lake in the BLM part of the Mojave. The drive out to where we were camping is about 8 miles. I was in an RV. Saying that the terrain was bumpy is an understatement. We averaged about 8 miles an hour getting out to the dry lake and were able to speed up considerably once on the lake. It took about 50 minutes to get to our camp, and since we were in ungoverned land, I could finally have my first beer of the day while driving. And my second and third.

We set up camp, by um, parking. Erected a few canopies, dug a fire-pit, set out chairs and water jugs, and got ourselves comfortable. Or as comfortable as possible in 105 degree heat. I put on some music and filled up my water bottle. Now here is the disclaimer, there is no way that I will be able to describe the day/night in a way that will in any way do it justice. So instead, I’ll post a few pictures and leave the rest to your imagination. Ask any questions that you’d like, I will answer them honestly.

The Road to Broadwell

Camp

Liquid Refreshments at Ground Zero

Walkabout

Fun with Firearms

The Setting Sun

Sensory Overload

Click to Enlarge - It's a 360 Degree View

Understand one thing. This trip ended up being something that I could not have imagined. It will likely live forever with the 7 of us. We are now bonded for life for sharing this experience, and I would not have changed a thing, period.

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It’s a bachelor party weekend.
I rented an RV.
We’re driving out to the Mojave desert.
So we can wander.
Bringing plenty of water.
And returning with stories.
Wish me luck…

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I’d like to share a letter I got in the mail with you. It was addressed to me on the envelope, and preceding the content of the letter. Anyway, here it is:

Every time I try to put something to bed, two more things pop up to do. Thus, the more I do the more I have to do. However the corollary, the less I do the less I have to do, doesn’t hold true. Hence, it’s do if I do and do if I don’t. Ultimately, it all boils down to do-do.

Wait, there’s more…

Astronomers today have postulated the existence of black matter and anti-matter — the Darth Vader of existence. Keeping with this line of logic for a moment, it’s possible to have anti-do. This is theoretically capable of undoing all the do-do we’ve gotten ourselves into.

I think that was the segway…

We also clean tile, upholstery and draperies. Rooms over 250 sq. ft. and combination rooms count as two areas. $68 minimum on all orders.

Ok, why did I share that with you? Good question. While writing it out, a few things came to mind. When I opened and read the letter for the first time, I was confused. I wasn’t sure what I was reading, and what the point of it was. Upon reading it for the second time, I got the point of shit on a presumed carpet. I wasn’t sure if this was funny or not.

Then I started wondering if this letter would in any way make me get my carpet cleaned, and if I would use this company. And is writing about the letter justifying it’s intent, or empowering the advertisement? Probably. But I’m not going to clean my carpet, and if I do in the future, I don’t think I’ll use that company.

And why would the letter abbreviate sq. ft. and write out two?

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I was thinking about languages this morning. Then I started thinking about the letters of the English alphabet, and how every sound that the human mouth can make is represented by a letter or combination of letters in that alphabet. This thought brought me to thinking about other languages and the letters or characters that make up their “alphabet.” This thought brought me to think about some languages that have sounds that do not sound at all like English, namely Japanese or that odd African clicky language, and how different regions have different sounds that do not exist in English. This made me imagine about the future of languages, and the possibility of creating a new universal language. We can call it the Human Language.

Universities will start teaching it first, like a test trial. It will only be available in the best schools, because their tuition would afford an equally ridiculous concept like a made up language. The class “Intro to the Human Language” would be offered to anyone willing to waste their time, much like a class called “Physics for Poets.” The obvious second semester class would then be named, “Advanced Human Language.”

It will be based on Mores Code, only it will be spoken, not represented with clicks. It will be made up of only vowels, and softer consonants. Words and sentences will blend together like one long sound. You will be able to speak without moving your mouth because we got rid of all the hard consonants.

Why would we do this? (we are a collective human race, right?) When did MTV stop playing music? How can Las Vegas exist? Or Palm Springs? How can Facebook direct peoples conversation and interaction to an online forum? What the hell is Twitter? And who gives a shit about a tweet?

Laziness is going viral so why not invent a lazy language to keep up with this progress?

I think I’m on to something.

But what the hell do I know, I can only speak English good.

ayeeasiohaioushaiou

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Many of my posts, especially those written on the weekend, are composed in the backyard in my Cardiff By The Sea house (like I have or need any other home). Jen & I have built a very comfortable little oasis in our backyard complete with a little table & umbrella, fire pit, tiki torches, little bird feeder, and of course, what backyard is complete without a grill!?

It’s a small backyard, but in many ways it is 100% perfect. I don’t have to mow the lawn (landscapers take care of that through the HOA). Jen has a little vegetable garden in the corner. And every last inch is watered every single night. Sometimes I think that I am blessed. Sometimes I think that I am a ridiculously stereotypical American, living in a bubble of perfection while the world around me is burning. And sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve this life I am living.

Whatever, here is a shot of my bubble.

Here’s a short story. When I drove to Las Vegas on Monday night to pick Jen up at the airport, I stopped at a casino just outside of Vegas to fill up my new Mazdaspeed 3 with petrol. I drove up to the high desert in the comfort of my new car with the AC pumping, plenty of water & other misc beverages, and with my iPhone 4 connected via bluetooth playing a mix of comedy through my stereo system. While I was filling up, a kid about my age came up to me and asked if I could spare a gallon or two of gas to help him get home. I said no. His response was “Are you serious?” I said yeah, and he walked away. I regretted my response almost immediately of my refusal for the rest of the trip. To my defense, southern California is a haven for pan handlers because of the climate, economic overflow, and the ability to earn from collecting cans & bottles. So, I might have said no as a triggered response like a reflex. Nevertheless, I still feel sick to my stomach about the exchange and my unwillingness to help a fellow man out.

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Put on your headphones and turn up the volume for this must see…

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