Saturday, July 17, 2010

How Exactly Does One Go About Boycotting BP?

With BP capping the well finally, I was wondering if someone could explain to me how they went about boycotting BP for the horrible, evil, wicked thing they did.

I mean, boycotting something like Starbucks is easy (like the Brady Campaign was trying to do), you just don't shop there. Boycotting a multinational entertainment corporation like Disney (like the Christian Coalition did when they began providing benefits to gay employee's partners) is a little more difficult. Sure you can not go see the "Disney" movies, but do you also extend it to not getting the Happy Meal toys? What about if your daughter's friend has a Disney Princess birthday party during your boycott?

Boycotting a state like Utah (which the anti Prop-8 tried to d0) starts to border on the absurd. So you don't travel to Utah. What about connecting flights through Salt Lake City? It is really funny since Utah wasn't the ones who passed Prop 8, and even if none of the Mormons in California voted, Prop 8 still would have passed. Of course the entertainment industry in California has a significant interest in the Sundance Film Festival. What about companies headquartered in Utah? Do those need to be boycotted as well? What if the company started in Utah but later moved to a more tax advantaged place like Delaware or the Bahamas? How about agriculture products like alfalfa and salt? Should those be included in the boycott? Finally, there is a big rail line that goes through the Beehive state. Do we not use products that were brought to us on that rail line?

Questions like these help to show why boycotts rarely (if ever) even have an affect on their intended target. If it is a small localized organization that is being boycotted, then you might (MIGHT!) have some success. With BP, you won't. Do you start with not buying gasoline from BP branded gas stations? Well, this is only going to have an effect if you were buying from BP to begin with. OH, except that those gas stations are simply that, BP branded. They are independently owned and operated and only sell gasoline that happens to have BPs special mix of chemicals (but the gasoline itself may have been refined by Shell, using oil from Exxon). So, what else do you buy from BP. Well, nothing directly. BP doesn't sell much of anything to end consumers. However, they do provide materials to other businesses that make stuff. Oil is used to make fuel, plastics, food, medicine, asphalt, tires, paints, etc. The list goes on and on. Oil is one of the most versatile products out there (which is probably why it is such a major part of our economy. So, I guess if you are going to boycott BP, you can just not use all of those products that are made from oil. Because some small fraction of every plastic water bottle you buy is going to BP (the oil all gets mixed together anyway).

Of course, then your life would be like living in the dark ages.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Public Parking in San Jose

OK, I understand that parking is a premium in San Jose. The hotel had valet parking for $21 a day. The company may be paying for it, but I am not going to try to justify that. The public lot across the street from the hotel was $1.25/15 minutes, maximum of $20, and $9 overnight if you got there after 5 pm.

Except there were some caveats that weren't listed. When you arrived before 5pm, you got a ticket and then you would pay on exit to the boothman. If you arrived after 5pm, you paid $9 to the boothman right away and as long as you were gone by 8am, no other charge. However, the boothman wasn't there from midnight to 8 am. So, if you arrived before 5pm, you got a ticket and then if your car stayed there over night and left before 8am, you paid nothing since there was no one to take your money (and the gate was left open between midnight and 8am.

The second night I tried to explain this to the boothman since I was getting there before 5pm, but he didn't want to take my money. Oh well, I tried.

Movie Review: Transformers

This can't be a full movie review since I didn't see part of the movie. It was on TV late one night and I was vegging. I will admit, the transforming was cool for about the first 10 minutes. Then it became annoying. I grew up with transformers, and part of the cool thing about them is that you could partially tell what the robot transformed into. These ones, you couldn't tell by looking at them.

Best line had to be "Based on the boy's pheromone levels, he wants to mate with the young woman." Which brings me to Megan Fox. Eye candy, yes. Acting ability, no. Lines, I don't remember her saying much.

The other thing that I found disappointing was the autobots, Optimus Prime in particular, were wusses to the nth degree (excepting Bumblebee). Optimus kept on getting beat up and it was up to the kid to beat Megatron at the end. Which reminds me, didn't Megatron transform into a gun (a giant Walther PPK) in the cartoons? I'm not even sure what Megatron was in this.

Finally, what the heck was this Allspark thing? A giant 100 foot cube that transforms down to a handy 1 foot cube for transport. Anyway, the storyline that I saw didn't make much sense, but maybe that was because I didn't see the beginning.

A Travel Dream

OK, so it wasn't really a dream. It all started on Monday morning. Waking up, my stomach felt queasy. I had a flight that I needed to leave for in an hour or so. I got dressed and then proceeded to lay down on the living room floor. About 45 minutes later, I proceeded to the bathroom and violently relieved my stomach of its contents.

Vomiting does have a sort of cathartic release. Immediately before, I feel absolutely awful. Right after the stomach is emptied, I feel great. Except of course for the nasty taste that is left in the mouth. And the post vomit burps which taste just like vomit. So, the good feeling is a nice surprise but it is no reason to do something stupid like drink yourself silly just to have that feeling.

In any case, my travel/work plans just got shot. I left shortly thereafter to go to the airport. Normally when I am sick enough to throw up, I will do it two or three times with an hour or two break in between. At the airport I sat by the restroom, just in case. If I was going to throw up again, I wanted it to be in the bathroom not on the airplane. Thankfully, my first flight was delayed by about 25 minutes, and I threw up again about 10 minutes before boarding.

Throwing up once has that good feeling after it. The second time you throw up, the feeling isn't that good, because your stomach is mostly empty and your muscles feel like they are overly contracting. By the third time, your dry heaving and you just feel like you want to die. Thankfully, the second time was the end for me.

Originally, I had brought a ton of work related reading material to consume on the flights and during the waits in the airport (I was even planning on catching up on my blogs). Unfortunately being sick forced me to focus on keeping my stomach calm and I wasn't able to do much reading. The connecting flight boarded on time, pulled back from the gate, got in line for take off, and something in the cooling system was broke. So, we taxied back to the gate, they fiddled around for about a half hour and found a filter that was clogged.

Attempt two began, we pulled back from the gate, and find something wrong with an engine. Back to the gate. This problem was expected to take an hour or so and they were kind enough to inform us that all other flights that day to San Jose, Oakland, and San Fransisco were booked solid. They broke out the water and I had cup since I hadn't had anything to drink since the night before. They even let people deplane as long as they took their stuff. I elected to stay on the plane since I didn't want to move around too much.

After about an hour, the plane was starting to get really hot and they told all of us who were left to get off the plane, but leave our stuff on it. Shortly after we made our way to the concourse, they changed their mind and decided to change planes so those of us who had just got off the plane had to get back on to get our stuff. The new plane was delayed further for about a half hour but they never told us why. It had been five hours of waiting already so we were happy when they took off. They also gave us 7000 miles for the inconvenience.

I didn't mind too much since my being sick had already ruined the work plans I had for the day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Top Shot 4: Shoot - No Shoot

Well, once again I am almost a week behind. Since I have Monday off, I think I might try to blog the next Top Shot after I shoot off fireworks... er I mean light sparklers (because that is what the State of Iowa allows us semi-free citizens). The practice is shooting an AR-15 at black and white ceramic plates (while the reactivity of glass and ceramic is nice to see, I don't use them because they are a pain to clean up - then again, maybe the Top Shot Key Grip is the one stuck with that job, assuming they are being environmentally friendly).

Most people have no problem, except for Jim (who I think said he had never shot an AR-15 before - who in this world has not shot an AR-15, its only like the most popular rifle next to the AK-47). But he manages slowly. So at the competition it is a memory game as well. That makes it somewhat interesting. The Red Team rocks it, and the Blue Team tanks (although Caleb did shoot well).

So is there celebration by the Red Team? No, they are playing it cool and acting all macho. They get back to the house and the Blue Team immediately implements their plan and "nominates" Iain and Jim. Jim I can understand, he hit a wrong plate, and his specialty is historical rifles (which they shot in the first episode). Iain I am guessing was self nominating so that he could eliminate Jim. Frankly, Tara missed a shot too and it would have been nice to see her go against Jim. But whatever, the Blue Team is all smiles and giggles about it.

And guess what the Red Team does? Yep, they begin to whine. They whine because they won, they whine because the Blue Team isn't depressed, they whine, whine, whine. Its almost like they lost the challenge. Basically at this point I would not be disappointed is all of the rest of the Red Team is eliminated and we continue the competition with just the Blue Team (however, with the scant knowledge of reality shows that I have, I doubt that will happen - they may get down to 3 players and the Blue Team down to five and then they will combine to become the Purple Team for the rest of the game). In any case ... QUIT THE WHINING. You are all adults here (even Kelly is old enough to buy alcohol and apply for an FFL).

The elimination practice is with the TZ-99 pistol. I never heard of it before so I looked it up. Turns out to be a South African knockoff of a Sig. OK, well, why not just use a Sig? Anyway, they get to shoot at a moving target. Both Iain and Jim (forgot to tell you they were actually nominated) shoot well.

At the elimination competition they are shooting at plates on pendulums, so they have to hit the right moving plate, without hitting the other plate. Tricky, Iain scores perfectly, and then Jim gets to shoot. He appears to score perfectly including a line by another Blue Team member "Oh man what are they going to do for a tiebreaker?" But alas, it was just good camera editing. On Jim's last shot he broke the correct plate and the wrong plate that was lined up behind it. He shot suprisingly good for being a rifle guy that rarely (read never) shoots pistols.

The previews for next week appear to show them shooting a musket. That should be interesting. So far they have done historical rifles, Beretta 92F, long bow and crossbow, modern rifle and pistol, and musket?. Haven't seen any shotguns yet. Or cap and ball pistols. Or blunderbuss, or sling, or javelin, or chinese throwing stars, or cannon, or derringer. But there are 12 contestants left (which means probably 11 to 15 more types of weapons).