Sunday, October 16, 2005

"Dead" the television series

This is an extension of the "Land of the Dead" post below, more specifically the idea of an ongoing television series. I would simply call it "Dead".

Premise

"Dead" the series would blend elements of the four George Romero zombie horror films into an ongoing series. "Night of the Living Dead" was set in a rural atmosphere. "Dawn of the Dead" started in the media then progressed to a shopping mall. "Day of the Dead" covered the military and scientific side in an isolated environment. Finally, "Land of the Dead" takes place in the future assuming all aspects of military and government have been destroyed, leaving two distinct social classes in a claustrophobic fortified setting. The series would start in urban settings but include characters from a rural setting. Running parallel would be a government and/or military environment that would eventually include a scientific aspect. The urban settings would fall quickly into chaos leaving small pockets of humanity in the story. Rural settings would hold their own against the outbreak due to even victim to attacker ratio and a less dense population (does not spread as fast). Various urban (the mall), military (secret base) and rural (various terrain) sub-plots would emerge and hold for a while. The rural settings would maintain humanity until they are undermined by humanity, i.e. their eventual downfall would be at the hands of man, not zombie. As the rural and urban settings fall, the isolated military settings would take stage until they collapsed upon themselves. The series from that point forward would stay in the fortified pockets of humanity building and evolving themselves until a logical end of the series could be reached.

Characters

The "zombies" would be the main characters but never the "stars" so to speak. To bring a more scientifically believable aspect to a scientifically impossible situation would require some alteration to the zombie profile. Zombies would start out as what is referred to as "rage" zombies like "28 Days Later" and the "Dawn of the Dead" remake; fast and horrifically violent. Days later the zombies would denigrate as they fight off the things that make zombies impossible: rigor mortis, muscle loss due to energy expended without metabolic replacement, etc. The final result would be the grotesque "shambler" present in Romero's movies.

Protagonists:

  • the rural character(s), surviving but ending up in the fortified urban setting
  • the news media personality, urban
  • the mall security guard
  • the scientist(s)
  • the crooked individual turned good by the outbreak, urban, leadership
  • the urban refugees: a nurse, a strip-club owner, a dancer, etc.

Villians:

  • military leaders poor in their leadership roles
  • a Hollywood mogul (eventual leader of a fortress city)
  • the cowardly bigot
  • the independent know-it all
  • the bigot

Timeline

The timeline would start in an urban setting, mostly to get the rapid escalation within a believable context. That was one thing that I didn't like about "Night of the Living Dead", for a mostly rural setting the disease (just calling it disease for simplicity, who knows what really causes this) spread quickly. The DVD extras for the "Dawn of the Dead" remake had some good ideas that involved media hysteria and racial tensions that let the outbreak evolve quickly before anyone understood what was going on. The rural and military settings would integrate themselves. Eventually the three settings would have to fall leading to the fortress cities.

Pilot (urban)

  • Starts in rural settings where first death returns to the living: drug deal gone bad?
  • Race riots covered by news
  • Individual situations introduce some urban characters
  • Descent into chaos

Season one:

  1. Escape from news, end up at mall – new characters, let other's in?
  2. Common cause, uniting somewhat amongst the chaos
  3. Survivors; bus spots news chopper – eventually let it adding to group
  4. Television dies/pullback to Beverly Hills defensive perimeter (rich mogul)
  5. Doubts about leadership, each other, motives
  6. More survivors want in, debated over, zombie gets inside
  7. A hero dies (amongst others)
  8. Choices, more people = more supplies, less space, greater risk
  9. Leadership overthrown, citizens in control
  10. Use copter, strip club rescue – two more survivors, more food and supplies
  11. Cancer man dies, reanimates, people die; realization of what's going on
  12. The world is gone now/escape from LA (rich mogul)

Season two:

  1. Isolation
  2. Maybe it's not so bad after all
  3. Too many chiefs?
  4. Separation in small places
  5. Boredom
  6. Contact over the radio
  7. Contact lost
  8. More survivors, don't let them in, moral dilemma
  9. Invaded part one
  10. Invaded part two
  11. Then there were four, isolated, escape plans made
  12. Fall of the mall

Pilot (rural setting)

  • Characters meet in farm house
  • News and tension
  • Attempted escape, failure
  • Rescued but what of the rest of the world?

Season one:

  1. Hunting and killing
  2. Wandering
  3. Small town, eventually ruined
  4. Survival
  5. Supplies? The group thins.
  6. Tension builds, the fight for leadership
  7. Go to the city? Head for the hills?
  8. The split, group thins
  9. Safe haven in a small town
  10. Return of the city's influence
  11. City pollution
  12. Fall of the small town

Season two:

  1. Scattered
  2. Hunger
  3. Return to the farm house
  4. Uncertain future
  5. Back to basics
  6. Finally normal
  7. Attack of the posse
  8. Prisoners
  9. Escape
  10. Prisoners again, this time alone in the farm house
  11. And then there was one
  12. To the city, no place else to go

Pilot (government/scientific/military)

  • Introduce some characters
  • Military delegates to local law enforcement (who wish to handle situation)
  • National Guard involved

Season one:

  1. What to do? We don't know
  2. Deny everything/scientists start asking questions
  3. Rest of world starts to suffer, third worlds fall
  4. Use of military force, martial law, curfew that nobody can enforce
  5. Local law enforcement falls, overseas presence disappears
  6. Desperate realization that threat cannot be stopped
  7. Realization of what is going on, go public/scientific community tapped
  8. Rounding up the brains, not many survive
  9. Escape from Fort Pastor?
  10. Regroup at the capitol, leadership is failing
  11. Team assembles, President makes radio speech
  12. Escape from the capitol as zombies overwhelm government in a blood bath

Season two:

  1. Into the bunker
  2. Watching as the world crumbles around them
  3. Searching for answers, major has ideas (STUN satellite radiation)
  4. Where are the answers? Is it God's work?
  5. More answers than questions
  6. Need more specimens; tension between military, scientists and "mad" scientist grows
  7. The major dies, leaving the colonel in charge
  8. The colonel asserts himself demanding results, scientists in fear
  9. Contact lost with other scientists, sense of gloom deepens
  10. The president is dead (government ceases to exist)
  11. The colonel oppresses more
  12. Scientist killed, soldier commits suicide, zombies attack, few escape

Just some ideas.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

New 40 gallon aquarium pictures

You can see in most pictures that the red-finned shark has just torn away at the foliage around its lair, the delicate leaves of the wisteria plants come off easily. The tiger barbs are active fish and very hard to photograph, the danios even harder as they are constantly on the move.

The tiger barbs would probably be the main attraction of this tank. The algae eater stays hidden most of the time, the shark is always in it's dark lair under the driftwood, and the danios are too small and fast to be noticed.

I am considering the addition of three tinfoil barbs to make things interesting but I run the risk of reaching the stocking limits of this aquarium (i.e. 1" of fish per gallon of water).

Yes, that is the shark that killed the pleco.

Little Beefs (Biffs)

These are little things I really shouldn't worry my pretty little self over but tick me off anyways.

Excessive use of Macromedia Flash on web pages

I really only notice this on my laptop, still a formidable 1Ghz Duron running XP on 256MB of memory, but whenever I hit a page with flash I always get a nice six to eight second delay while all that extra flash crap loads. Flash is good for interactive movies and games but do we really need flash to do menus or to rotate news images or to slow down my web surfing experience to display an advertisement? It's just unnecessary.

Hands Free Cell Phone Zombies

A "hands free cell phone zombie" is a person who walks around aimlessly while talking on their cell phones using the "hands-free" ear-bud and clip microphone.

This actually happened to me. I was exiting my office and I walked past some chick who blurted out "what the f* are you doin'?" I stopped, aghast, looked her in the eyes and said, "Excuse me?" She looked at me like I was naked or blowing my nose in my hand. I didn't notice the hands-free equipment because of her long frizzy hair (wouldn't that interfere with her cellular signal?). She replied, "I'm talking to my friend, not you" then realizing the other party on the line probably heard that said, "not you, some guy here – I'm on the phone".

If these folks were dressed in tattered clothes walking around seemingly talking to themselves I'd call them derelict homeless.

Ring Tones

There is nothing I enjoy more than concentrating on my work at work only to have the relative silence broken by a loud, annoying, seizure-inducing ring-tone. I hate them with a passion, but would love to be the guy that invented them. Who knew people would pay money for a watered down version of some songs or random beeps.

Government

I've already opened up enough cans of worms at home and work, so I'll just say "it seems like our priorities are out of whack and we appear to be heading towards a society that short of being an empire with the majority of people undervalued and overworked or mooching off everybody else."

Microsoft

Anybody remember the old days when you could get the operating system for less than $100 and BASIC came with it? Personally, I think XP and 2000 were the best products put forth by Redmond with 2003 having its merits.

It should be obvious even to the uneducated that Microsoft software locks you into a constant cycle of upgrade – both hardware and software. You know what, I can still publish documents in a WYSIWYG graphical user interface on a Pentium 166MMX with 16MB of memory just and I can on XP running on a 2Ghz Athlon system with 2GB of memory.

Lately however, with Genuine Advantage and Longhorn/Vista's new DRM systems I have to wonder if this is the moment in history when businesses and home users say enough is enough. Windows XP running on this system right now is powerful enough to do just about anything I can ask of it short of being a production server. Why on earth would I want to chuck the whole thing out the window in a year or two?

Is technology leasing the new wave on the horizon; lead by Microsoft and its hardware requirements? Would a home user be willing to spend $20 a month or so just to get new hardware every year or two?

A Big Beef - Fiscal Responsibility

I could really get in trouble for posting this because current, past and future employers could use this against me but I just have to get this off my chest. I am appalled at the fiscal irresponsibility in management.

I have worked in the Information Technology (computer programming, systems programming, etc.) for fifteen years and the last five to six years have been the worst. I have seen multi-million dollar projects driven slowly into the ground to provide little or no benefit to the people who should benefit from them. I have sat shaking my head in disbelief as large balance differences get written off as acceptable losses. I have watched years, even decades of knowledge and working technology literally get thrown out the window for something different.  I have seen programming languages come and go while offering no real benefit to the languages and technology they intended to replace. So much wasted money has passed before or around these eyes and the eyes of my friends that I almost literally broke down at the horror of it all last night.

What makes this even more sickening is that these managers who consistently do not do their jobs and manage are promoted and compensated on a grander scale. One CEO presiding over a company that has lost over 76% of it's value netted a six-figure bonus and salary increase (that's before all the other perks like vehicles, subsidies for side businesses, options, etc.).

Fiscal irresponsibility is not limited to management at big corporations. I'm disappointed that most youth nowadays simply have no concept of savings vs. spending. They will receive government assistance while strutting around with an iPod and flip-phone (with expensive plan) driving a "pimped" car and cable at home. How about the single mom who can't afford to fix a car but can afford televisions and personal-use cell phones for herself and both of her kids; oh and everybody smokes packs of cigarettes as well. I fully comprehend that these are bad examples of a system that is designed to (as does) help people that need help. Still, I see examples of poor financial skills almost every day as people rack up credit card and other debts without regard for living within their means. If you have a cell phone, DVD players, portables, cable TV with movie channels while getting assistance then you aren't poor.

Here in central Ohio there are numerous (if not all) school districts in dire financial predicaments. I grew up in a school district that took six figures worth of loyal taxpayer dollars for strictly cosmetic changes. My child goes to a school district that collects hundreds of dollars in fees in addition to one of the highest tax rates but seems to have a levy on the ballot every year. When I go to these schools, most of them are like palaces on the inside with lots of wasted space – what happened to a good traditional, functional school? This school system also made numerous cosmetic and technology upgrades alongside the necessary upgrades. Again, isn't this a recent thing? What are we paying for? Doesn't anybody in management understand the concept of good planning and forecasting; instead of building and building then begging for money to build more schools, then begging for money to operate these schools, then asking for money to continue operating these schools without having to cut sports and extra-curricular activities?

I have to admit that I'm guilty of some of this myself. I tend to keep mostly current computer technology in my house and I don't invest as diversely as I should (maybe I've been stung too many times by the markets in the past?). I also eat reasonably, drive an economical vehicle, save for special occasions, keep my credit cards paid off, keep cell phone usage to a minimum and keep myself protected.

For the rest of the world, maybe I just don't understand it. Maybe I just don't grasp the concept of upper management or running a school system or being a kid in a media-centric world that places value on possession instead of personality and purpose.

Maybe I'm just getting too old?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Health questions and answers

1. Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it ... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

2. Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

3. Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

4. Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

5. Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain .. ..Good!

6. Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

7. Q: Will sit-ups prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

8. Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO ...... Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

9. Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me ........

10. Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

(P.S. If you take this seriously, you really need to see doctor or a psychiatrist or both - lighten up!)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Rude?

This was written after returning from the bathroom to take a pee-pee:

I’ve about had it with rudeness today, especially after just being called rude myself. Here is the situation:

  • I need to pee, I also need to fart – so instead of polluting my new office and thrusting foul odors on my co-workers (whom I all like) I go to the bathroom; seems logical.
  • I walk into the bathroom, choose the far urinal, unzip and start tinkling
  • Another dude enters to take a leak
  • While emptying my bladder I empty the foul gasses from my digestive track saying "excuse me".
  • The dude next to me says "dude, that’s rude" – and he’s serious

It’s a men’s restroom in a public building. It’s in a basement where foul gasses are always present either from the pipes and sewers underneath and/or from other people in the building far more capable of delivering colonic death biscuits than I.

Where else am I supposed to fart? Do I go running out in the elements? Do the taxpayers foot the bill for an exhaust system?

This goes with three instances earlier in the day where people were rude to me.

One. Walking to the gym for lunch I’m bowled into a woman twice my size who elbow-knifed her way to get through a door before I. I excused myself. She either didn’t hear me, recognize her rudeness, or perhaps spoke a different language than I – maybe "sasquatch" or something like that. No big deal, though.

Two. I am crossing a street (using a cross walk). I look back to see if anybody is turning right. Nobody is turning right so I proceed forward jogging toward the green "WALK" sign on the other side. Suddenly brakes hit and a horn follows. Some woman is looking at me with angry eyes. I point to the light, her car then myself saying "green light, no turn signal, rightaway". She replies "whatevah" then zooms around me into the oncoming traffic lane.

Three. I come jogging up to an exit, there is a nice car (black Mercedes) sitting there. I look in the car, some yuppie is dialing a cell phone number. I look at traffic, the guy can go. He doesn’t. I wait a few moments, make a "go" gesture with my hand, wait another moment, then quickly start across. Again, brakes and a look of "what?" on this yuppie’s face (still attached to a cell phone).

I could have potentially been run over by another cell-phone disabled driver but I wasn’t going to test my luck.

Format wars

"The nice thing about standards is, there are so many to choose from" – anonymous

So Paramount is the latest entry into the future of DVD "war", backing the Blu-ray format backed by a Sony led group and featuring Disney among others. HD DVD, backed by Toshiba and supported by Universal Studios, Microsoft, Intel, Warner Bros and more.

What is causing this war: "what is expected to be a multi-billion-dollar market for next-generation DVD players, PC drives and optical discs." Who will lose the war: the consumer.

This "war" parallels another format "war" over satellite radio. There are two competitors in this "war", XM and Sirius. Each requires a receiver and subscription, both offering different and unique content that you cannot get on the other.

What is causing this war: control over the market of paid audio services. Who will lose the war: the consumer and one or more of the vendors.

This was supposed to happen in the dish versus cable realm and to some extent it has. Various cable and dish services were going to offer their own exclusive packages but neither had the leverage to push out the common programming. That left customized sports and movie packages and price as the only bargaining points when looking at one or the other.

There are past "wars" that some of you may remember.

Anybody who has anything to do with web development will certainly remember the browser "war" initially between Netscape and Microsoft now seeming starting again between Microsoft and Firefox. Who lost that war? Netscape did. One might say the web developers did having to support different formats and markup code, but that created a good job market for a while. Effects of that "war" linger even today; just mention CSS boxes to web designers.

There was the little known "war" between DAT, DAC and ADAT. Nobody really won that war as DAT and ADAT live only in digital recording studios where computers aren’t prevalent. I forget who made DAC, I saw one at Sun TV but that was about it.

Probably the oldest "war" relevant to the others here was VHS vs. beta. VHS won that "war", at the height of it’s popularity even the poorest of people who could barely afford food each had two or three of them per household.

Can "AM" vs. "FM" be considered a war? Since both are still widely available I would probably say no.

There are probably other current "wars" that I’m forgetting. Or perhaps I don’t care enough about them to list them here; like compact flash vs. memory sticks vs. SD vs. (insert format the 7-in-1 readers read).

I think the point I am trying to make is when is all this going to backlash? When are we as consumers going to stop, look at the potential cost of this new technology, add it to the current cost of media services and technology, look at the new total and with eyeballs bulging yell out "sweet merciful Jesus" then pound a fist on (through) the table? How much of your monthly income is going (should go) to media?

Do I really need a new DVD format? I really don’t want to be a loser again.