Sunday, December 05, 2004

My, what huge hobbits you have

The better to grow pipeweed, my dear0.

Friday night, I bought a digital projector. I love it! It's awesome. I had been kicking around buying a big screen TV for a bit, but had decided against it for a number of reasons. Big TVs are huge and heavy and I live in an apartment with a 6 month lease. Plus, if I had a big screen TV, I would probably watch it more often than a regular TV. I've also been thinking about the future, when I (presumably) get married and have kids, do I want my home life to be centered around the television, which if I bought a big screen would be the most prominent object in the living room1. I also wouldn't want my wife to be tempted to sit on her butt and watch soaps all day (or slightly less worse, Oprah and Dr. Phil). One of the reasons I feel strongly about this is that I was raised without a television in the house and at least partially as a consequence, I have an attention span, I like reading books, and I'm a beanpole who can eat just about anything I like and not get fat. I also missed most of the 1980's, and a lot of the early 1990's as far as pop culture goes.

Consequently, I absolutely suck at trivial persuit. People are surprised at this. They say "But Tim, you're smart, why are you so bad at trivia?" Intelligence assists retention of information, but it certainly isn't the same thing (althoug it might help in piecing together new information from that already known). I hate rote memorization of useless facts. I find information about celebreties useless. When I talk to someone, I want to exchange useful information as well as enjoy the person I'm talking to. Small talk accomplishes none of these things, especially when it centers around celebrity gossip (unless it raises some issue that applies to a profitable discussion) and professional (or college) sports (unless that person is involved in that sport in such a way that it meaningfully effects their lives). Sports scores and statistics don't interest me. If you admire a particular athlete because observing them has allowed you to improve your own technique, then talk about that, but please don't attempt to talk to me about how the WSU football team is going to beat the Oregon Ducks because frankly I don't care.

While I hate rote memorization, I love to understand how things work. And by things, I mean lasers, the human eye, quarks, galaxies, people, girls2, languages, Space-Time, predestination, computers, personality, artificial intelligence, electircity... you get the idea. The point is that memorization does not come from or lead to a discussion of the natrue of things; of what is going on under the covers and behind the scenes. Memorization can teach a man how to catch a fish, understanding the inner-workings of oceanography and marine biology is more fun for me, even if you never end up catching that fish. I digress. A digital projector is small, portable, and its primary purpose is to watch movies, not television (although we have that hooked up to it too). When off, it doesn't drain the room like a big black hole, and the resolution is excellent, especially for the price. I can also potentially use it to assist in a slideshow or a Sunday school lesson.

Friday night I went to Fry's becuase I know they have floor models of digital projectors. My roommate tagged along because he was very interested that I buy a projector, since he would get to use it for free. After Fry's we went to Circuit City and found an even better one than the one I had been looking at at Fry's. I was originally planning on ordering it online, since I could probably find a good price with no tax or shipping, but I changed my mind because at CC I could get a 4-year service plan that covered replacement of ($500) lamp modules. The sales guy said there was one in the warehouse, but when they got it, it was a very similar model, but with a few major difference, most notably $800 higher in price. They didn't have the one that I had just paid for. I told them I would take the one they had, since the computer said they didn't have any of that model, and they had one of the model that I ordered that they didn't have, but they didn't go for it3. They did give me a $20 price reduction for the trouble of driving to Tacoma to a store that did have it, which was rather nice. My roommate was actually rather helpful in knowing the right questions to ask. He used to be an electronics store salesman. To inaugurate the projector, we rented pi, which neither of us had seen, though it had been recommended. The problem with pi and the projector is that pi is in black and white, and this projector uses a color wheel. White light is produced by shining light through red, green, and blue filters on a spinning wheel. When there's white next to black, and there's motion, or especially an abrupt change of camera angle, your eyes momentarily see the individual colors, and you see a rainbow effect, which is particularly distracting in a black and white film. Not to worry. After about 5 minutes of this, we popped in Mission Impossible II, which played beautifully, especially since my roommate has a nice sound system. Saturday we hooked up our game systems. He has an Xbox and I have a Gamecube. I've never played Halo before, but I'm convinced the best way to play it is on a 5-foot wide4 screen projected above your mantle.

One of the reasons for the timing of this purchase is that The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended Edition comes out soon, and I want to have a Lord of the Rings marathon where we5 watch all three extended edition movies in one day. That's over 11 hours of movie, and if you're going to watch it, why not watch it in your own movie theater like God intended6, rather than on a TV screen where the widescreen image is less than a foot high.

0I don't know! YOU think of something that big hobbits would be especially good for7.
1unless I got a huge one of those cabinets made especially to hide the sin box
2Yes, girls are people. I was just checking to make sure you're paying attention. Also, while a girl is a specialization of a person, to understand some of how girls function (let's be realistic here) is quite a different dimension added on to understanding how people work.
3Hey, it was worth a shot.
4No, that doesn't mean its a 60" screen. It's actually a 75" at 4:3 aspect ratio and a 69" screen at 16:9. This is actually the smallest it will go from where we have it set up. The reason it's this size is so it'll fit within the diagonal wall above our mantle.
6Rather than blasphemy, this should be interpreted as an allusion to Fezzik's line in the Princess Bride.
7Although I could claim it's a C++ thing, it was actually laziness that prompted me to start footnote enumeration at zero. I wrote the title and its accompanying nonsensicel blurb last.


  1. AH, congratulations on your recent purchase. And welcome to the wonderful world of Halo. Quite frequently my brother and I set up the LCD projector we "borrow" from HP along with several other TV's and XboX's and play till the wee morning hours. I wasn't quite able to connect how you not having a TV in your house as a child resulted in your beenpole figure and ability to eat anything you want without getting fat. However, since there was and is the same connection in my life I suppose I can accept the seemingly spurrious connection as logical fact.

    -TAB- (from beck's blog, you know who I am)

  2. The connection, at least in my mind, is that hours of vegetating on your butt in stead of playing in the yard leads to the developement of more fat cells, which are integrated into your developing body's metabolism and stay there, ready to absorb any extra energy the body has for the rest of your life.

  3. Well then, said the biology major, how do you explain the countless hours of butt-vegetating (ew.) with little or no change to my metabolism?

  4. Aaaaaaand since when does TAB know the definition of "spurious"? Since now, I guess.

  5. Since I took a statistics class.


  6. Tim, I completely reject your no TV= beanpole figure theory. We didn't have a TV and I played in the yard, but I don't have a beanpole figure as a result of either. So there. Your theory or hyphothesis (sp) or whatever is hereby invalid. Thus saith the Stephanator. =)

  7. AND!! Now we do have a TV and my little- I mean, younger- sister has a beanpole figure (Gwen).

  8. I think the Lord of the Rings Marathon is an excellent idea, especially with a projector. Though, yes, it is very geeky.


  9. I would like to take this opportunity to point out the fact that this was not one of Tim's Famous Dogmaticisms. My exact words were "at least partially as a consequence."

  10. 0 = The better to... no, I can't. I don't want you to think I have a dirty mind.

    Ha ha. Dr. Phil. Dr. Philmewithcake!

    I know some girls who are not people. If you want examples, contact me privately via email.

    May your tenure in the freezing cold Northwest continue to be marked by wise electronic purchases.