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Monthly Archives: March 2005

National Workplace Napping Day

In case you were unaware, we are already halfway through National Sleep Awareness Week. Next Monday, April 4th, is the culmination of it all with National Workplace Napping Day. I am posting now in hopes that some companies (including mine) will be made aware and partake in celebrating this occasion. This date was chosen since it follows our return to daylight savings time the day before, which robs us all of a desperately needed hour of sleep.

I discovered all of this while reading this article in my Plain Dealer last Saturday (yes, some of us still actually read actual printed papers). It had some really interesting things, such as a 2002 Harvard University study which showed a midday nap can sharply improve performance on mental tasks. It even mentioned major U.S. corporations such as Nike & Sprint actually have policies that encourage napping! It even mentions one of my former employers, Progressive Insurance, which has numerous “quiet rooms” or “napnasiums” in their buildings. Unfortunately, they did not yet have those when I interned there five years ago. I myself am no stranger to the wonders of napping, though I have never done so (intentionally) at work. Hopefully I will see this practice become more widespread in the near future, because I enjoy my naps.

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"The Office" on NBC, part two

Well, this past Thursday saw the premiere of “The Office” on NBC. Overall, I thought it was pretty good. A lot of the script was rehashed with a few tweaks here and there to make it more Americanized, but since most Americans have not seen the original BBC series, no real harm done there. It still is going to take me some getting used to seeing the old characters played by new people. Fortunately, it looks like NBC is not going to be in a rush to take it off the air since it was a ratings success as the 3rd highest rated show of the evening (link). If you’re in a rush to see next week’s episode, the very funny “Diversity Training” episode, you can see a 12-minute excerpt here at MySpace. Otherwise, you can tune in like everyone else at the show’s “permanent” timeslot, Tuesday evening at 9:30 EST on NBC (follwing ‘Scrubs’).

Speaking of ‘Scrubs’, I read on the Kevin Smith news site, NewsAskew, that “Kevin called (‘Scrubs’ star) Zach Braff and it looks like they’re a step closer to bringing him on board the future Fletch project.” While this is nowhere near as cool as Jason Lee being ‘Fletch’ as everyone but the studio wanted, it might be pretty good. If they ever decide to make one. People have been talking about it for at least 5 years now. But at least there is recent talk.

My life’s theme song

I ran across some other people talking about the notion that the #1 song on your 18th birthday is your life’s theme song. So I went to this site, This Day in Music, to find out what mine is. What did I find?

Macarena” by Los Del Rio

Ah yes, it all makes sense now.

"The Office" on NBC

The much loved and acclaimed BBC series “The Office” is finally being brought overseas and Americanized, courtesy of NBC. When I first heard about this last year, I was very excited. I was a big fan of the BBC series, and it’s all-too-brief stay left everyone wanting more. And to hear that The Daily Show’s Steve Carell was going to play the main character, how could they go wrong? Not to mention the series creater and star Ricky Gervais signed on as a producer and writer. Well, for those of you who remember NBC’s previous attempt to cash in on a BBC hit with “Coupling“, things can go very, very wrong. And after reading that the NBC pilot received the lowest pilot ratings from the test audience IN THE HISTORY OF ALL SITCOM PILOTS (link), my hopes were dashed.

However, I finally heard this week that “The Office” is finally going to see the light of day on NBC this week, premeiring this Thursday at 9:30pm EST, following “The Apprentice”. If you cannot wait that long (like myself), you can actually catch the pilot here, via MySpace. I don’t know if it was my low expectations or what, but I thought it was pretty good. Obviously there are going to be comparisons drawn to the original, but judged on it’s own I think it stands up pretty well. Will it last on NBC? Hell no. The test audience said it was “too depressing”, and given that there is no laugh track to tell them when they should be laughing, most Americans will just turn it off. It’s a shame that intelligent comedies rarely ever last on American TV. It’s only a matter of time until ‘Arrested Development‘s critical acclaim isn’t enough to cancel out it’s poor ratings.

So, I encourage everyone to tune in Thursday night and give ‘The Office’ a chance. Hopefully some of us will come away as fans.

"It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is"

This story today reminded me of the wonderful quote above, from Bill Clinton’s testimony in his sex scandal case. The article tells of a just released study which confirms something I’ve known for years, that so called “abstinent” teens have been pushing the boundaries of the definition of sex for years. In fact, a good number of the “abstinent” people I knew in high school and college were probably more sexually active than those who did not make such claims, all because of their warped idea of what “sex” actually implies. Well, to me, if it is commonly referred to using a term that has the word “sex” in it, well, it’s probably sex. In more simplistic terms, if it involves one or both parties parts that are normally covered by their bathing suit, chances are pretty good that it’s sex.

While I do not like making generalizations, most of the “abstinent” people I know are Christians, and were taking such a stance because of their religious beliefs. Being an agnostic, I do not claim to be a religious expert, but the whole “no sex before marriage” thing seems pretty clear-cut to me. I can’t see any obvious loopholes in there for things you can get away with but still be in the clear. And if you really believe that abstinence is a big deal and you might be in a whole lotta trouble if you don’t abide, it would probably be a pretty good idea not to try to wander into those grey areas of what “is” and “is not” sex. I know if I believed in all that stuff, I wouldn’t try to press my luck, because one slip-up and there is no turning back, and I wouldn’t want to argue my case because I think the judge would be pretty hard to argue with.

Amazon one-ups Google

Amazon first caught my attention with their A9.com search engine by giving users a 1.57% discount (or, pi divided by 2) on all their Amazon purchases just for using it. So, I am sure to try to use it once a day to keep my discount in place. And in all honesty, it’s really actually a pretty cool search engine, with a lot of the same features as Google, along with some unique ones. It just takes a little getting used to the different layout.

Well, they really impressed me today with this new feature. That’s right, they’re on a mission to drive up and down every street in America with their camera, and take a picture of the storefronts, so you can almost literally walk through the Yellow Pages as if you’re walking down the street, and see all the storefronts up and down each city block. I know, it’s rather grand in scope, but still very cool nonetheless. It’s only completed in a few select cities so far, including Portland, Oregon, which I tried out here to find the coolest bookstore ever, Powell’s Books. Keep up the good work Amazon!

All about being at the top

I ran across this interesting study today about what people actually even bother to look at when they’re viewing Google search results. This study is pretty interesting because it actually because it actually tracked the eye movements of the participants to find out what they are physically looking at. Turns out, the top 3 ranking results always get seen, while those ads which fall below the first screen, start at 50% viewing and drop to 20%. And those ads on the right side? Only 50% of people even bother to glance at the top one, and it drops by 10% with each additional ad. So it just goes to show why people go to such great lengths to get to the top of the search results.

Something a little different

Since I don’t do a good job of keeping this site up-to-date, I figured I’d go out and create yet another blog. Don’t worry, I plan to keep this one going as my main destination for my random ramblings. The new site is sort of a novelty act, dedicated to the always interesting phenomenon known as the “Next Blog”. The new site, appropriately titled The Next Blog is a collection of some of the more interesting sites I have run across via Blogger’s ‘Next Blog’ button. Some people I know have spent hours wandering through the randomness found via this method, and personally it has provided plenty of amusement every now and then at work..So check it out when you get a chance, and yes, I am always interested in hearing your thoughts on my finds, and sharing some of the sites you feel are worthy of notice.

Cleveland International Video…errr….Film Festival

Last night, I went to the second day of the ten day Cleveland International Film Festival. The first movie I wanted to see was a film from Norway called Monsterthursday. Being a Saturday night, movies were in demand, so I had to purchase a “stand-by” ticket, which basically means it was sold out, but you’d get in if there are empty seats. Fortunately, a couple minutes before it started, they called my number, and Kristy & I were able to get two seats, albeit front-row. Well, anyways, they always have one of the festival people come up and give their spiel about the film, the festival, and the sponsors. So he’s going through his talk, and is like “oh yeah, please note, we were unable to get the actual print of the movie as it was lost at Sundance, but we do have a video copy which we’re going to present. We screened it yesterday, and I think only one person walked out.” OK, let me just note that Sundance was TWO MONTHS AGO! It’s not like it was last week and you didn’t have time to secure another print. Plus, I find it incredibly hard to believe that there might only be one print in existence and it is now lost. This is 2005. I’m sure it cannot be that hard to secure something other than a video copy. The movie was good, but the video was not the best. I assumed it was a pretty low-grade independent thing, but I watched the trailer online today, and it was much better quality than what I saw last night.

After it was over, we went to see the next movie we had tickets for, Aftermath. Fortunately, it was a little less crowded and we were able to get better seats. So, before it starts, the same guy comes in to do his little talk. And right before he finishes, he gives us almost the same story, that we would be seeing a video copy, as the original was somewhere in Russia. Two movies, two videos. Pretty ridiculous for a “film” festival. And to top it of, this video was much lower quality than the earlier one, and there was an annoying noise that kept popping up in the audio about every 30 seconds. We would have left, but it’s one of those things where we really wanted to see the movie, and would probably never be able to see it anywhere else. Plus, we’d planned our evening around it. Now if they had put it on the website beforehand, we could have made other plans. At the very least, they could have told us when we were buying tickets. Yeah, the guy giving the spiel told us we could go see another movie if we wanted, but the other movies had already started, and most were packed. Not a very viable alternative there chief.

So, needless to say, I am pretty disappointed with this year’s film fest, and am probably going to rethink all the movies I wanted to see. I don’t want to get too many more surprises. But I know that I’m not going to sit through another video again.

March Madness

Each year around this time, sports fan around the country start watching college basketball, partially because it is the only show in town this time of year, but also the excitement as teams compete down to the last day to make it to the “Big Dance”, the championship tournament of 64 teams. Last night, I had the opportunity to see my alma mater, the Miami University Redhawks, play a 2nd round game in the Mid American Conference (MAC) tournament at the Gund Arena here in Cleveland. They are the top-seeded team in the tournament, and handed Bowling Green an 85-65 loss. So tonight Miami takes on Ohio University in a semifinal game, the winner of which will play in the championship game tomorrow in front of a national television audience. The winner of that championship game gets an invitation to the Big Dance. Having the tournament here in Cleveland is one of those rare positives about living here.

Another good thing Cleveland has going is it’s International Film Festival, which started last night and runs through next Sunday. The festival, now in it’s 29th year, brings together a lot of independent films from across the world, bringing a bit of culture to our not-so-cultural area. Each year, I find myself going to more and more films, and this year is no exception as I’ve noted about 10 films that I’m interested in seeing over the next week. I’m sure that will be narrowed down based on schedule and availability, but it’s nice to know that the festival is getting bigger and better with age. So if you’re in the Cleveland area, I advise you to check out the website or pickup a guide, and check out a movie or two that you’ll otherwise likely never get to see.